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Recent Publications by New English Review Authors
The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Impact of Islam
by Emmet Scott
Sir Walter Scott's Crusades and Other Fantasies
by Ibn Warraq
Fighting the Retreat from Arabia and the Gulf: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly. Vol. 1
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Literary Culture of France
by J. E. G. Dixon
Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays
by David P. Gontar
Farewell Fear
by Theodore Dalrymple
The Eagle and The Bible: Lessons in Liberty from Holy Writ
by Kenneth Hanson
The West Speaks
interviews by Jerry Gordon
Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy
Emmet Scott
Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy
Ibn Warraq
Anything Goes
by Theodore Dalrymple
Karimi Hotel
De Nidra Poller
The Left is Seldom Right
by Norman Berdichevsky
Allah is Dead: Why Islam is Not a Religion
by Rebecca Bynum
Virgins? What Virgins?: And Other Essays
by Ibn Warraq
An Introduction to Danish Culture
by Norman Berdichevsky
The New Vichy Syndrome:
by Theodore Dalrymple
Jihad and Genocide
by Richard L. Rubenstein
Spanish Vignettes: An Offbeat Look Into Spain's Culture, Society & History
by Norman Berdichevsky

These are all the Blogs posted on Wednesday, 12, 2011.
Wednesday, 12 October 2011
A Musical Interlude: Mr. Christopher Columbus (Fats Waller)

Listen here.

Posted on 10/12/2011 8:49 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 12 October 2011
Muslim immigrants want Switzerland to change national flag

This is news from last month, which I didn't post at the time. However this report from Pravda this morning is balanced and assesses the situation neatly. In English here, and in Russian here.

A group of Muslim immigrants wants to force Switzerland to abandon the current flag - a white cross on the red background. They say that it violates the rights of the representatives of non-Christian confessions. They seem to have been hurt by the recent ban on minarets construction. However, their proposal is unlikely to be welcomed by the native Swiss and will only increase the number of votes in favor of the treasury of the local far-right People's Party.

The first suggestion to remove the cross from the Swiss flag was made not by a Muslim, but (judging by the name) an ethnic Croat and Catholic vice-president of the association of immigrants Secondos Plus Ivica Petrushich. "The cross does not fit today's multicultural Switzerland," he said. The organization of the Turkish, Albanian and other immigrants from Muslim countries followed with a similar initiative. Instead, they suggested using a green-yellow-red flag of Helvetic Republic that existed at the turn of the 18th-19th centuries. It has no cross on it.

It is hardly coincidental that the issue of replacing the flag was raised by the representatives of immigrant organizations. Today, over 20 percent of seven million-strong Swiss population is immigrants. . . Many of them certainly do not like the cross. . . Their support of changing the appearance of the flag is, to say the least, ambiguous.

Apparently, this circumstance was taken into account by the head of the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Switzerland Mayzar Hisham, who called the idea of ​​changing the flag "counterproductive." He said that they did not demand anyone to change the ancient traditions of their countries. It is hard not to agree with his words. The relations of the indigenous Swiss and immigrants have already passed a difficult strength test. The desire to change the flag will only add fuel to the fire.
Two years ago the Muslim community wanted to attach minarets to the existing mosques. However, Switzerland is different from all other countries in a way that each more or less relevant issue is solved by holding a referendum. Negotiations with the government officials were not sufficient, and they had to ask the opinion of the population. This opinion was not in favor of the Muslim immigrants. . . for the ordinary Swiss even a hint of a violation of their habitual way of living was sufficient.

The results of voting on November 29, 2009 shocked Europe. 57.5 percent of the Swiss population was in favor of a ban on construction of minarets. At the same time kosher and halal slaughter of animals was banned (because of cruelty). Islamic organizations, human rights activists, and many European politicians expressed their outrage. However, the law came into force. The EU could not influence Switzerland as it is not its member.

There follows a brief history of the long process of the unification of the Swiss Cantons. The cross on the flag is something that unites the country, and does not divide it. . . To some extent, it is a symbol of freedom and peace, a path to which took many centuries and numerous wars. 
The Helvetic Republic, whose flag is offered instead of the current one, is not particularly respected by the Swiss. It was created by Napoleon who occupied the country and decided to build entities supervised by the French on its territory. For the free-spirited Swiss this flag is a symbol of oppression.

Not to mention the fact that the combination of green, red and yellow colors is characteristic mainly of African countries.

Do the immigrants have a right to teach the Swiss tolerance? For over 160 years there has been no bloodshed on this territory. This is all the more surprising considering that the country is multinational. Nearly three-quarters of the indigenous Swiss speak German, one-fifth speaks French, five or six percent speak Italian, and a little less than one percent - the Romansh language. All these languages ​​have the official status, but there is one dominant language group in each canton (with rare exceptions). They managed to combine small mono-national "houses" with a multinational one. The country is not threated by a collapse.
Encroaching on the foundation of the state, immigrants cause a reaction from the German Swiss, French Swiss and Italian Swiss.

As is evident from the story with the restrictions on ritual slaughter of animals and minarets construction, the Swiss are not afraid to challenge the infamous political correctness. A ban on wearing the veil is to follow. The more you attempt to encroach on the foundation of the Swiss state, the stronger will be the response. It took Switzerland and its people too long to achieve stability and peace of mind to just give up on their values.

Posted on 10/12/2011 2:40 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 12 October 2011
15 year old girl - She fell unconscious as a single Hindu - only to wake up hours later as a married Muslim woman named Razia.

Karachi - When 15-year-old Poonam Wasu — a Hindu girl from birth — left her house with friends on the afternoon of October 6, she could never have in her wildest dreams imagined that she would be drugged, only to wake up hours later as a married Muslim woman named Razia.

Although there are no official figures as cases of forced conversions and marriages are often hushed up, organisations like the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan believe that a large number of women had been abducted and forced to change their religion. Perhaps an even more distressing fact is that in many such instances, these women are sold to prostitution rings and as a result, lose all contact with their families.

But unlike the other women who chose to remain quiet after being threatened with dire consequences, Poonam broke the silence and took matters to court. Hailing from Lyari — where locals claim that as many as sixteen women have been abducted and forced to marry — Razia remains undaunted by the threats.

. . . she left her house with two friends named Saiba and Shazia, who asked her to apply some Mehndhi to relatives at a wedding. After she reached the house and sipped at the tea served to her, the rest was a blank.

“After drinking it, I fell unconscious. I don’t remember what happened after that. All I know is that when I woke up, I was a woman who has accepted Islam and performed a Nikkah with my friend’s brother, Raza Hussain, who I had never even spoken to before.”  Poonam added that she had known both the sisters for several months as one of them attended the same school as one of her siblings. Also, they would visit the same beauty parlour that Poonam would sometimes work for. “I never thought these two girls would do something like this. Both of them were so nice to me,” said the distressed teenager.

The teenager’s family had registered FIR 166/2011, under section 365 at the Chakiwara police station and the law enforcers conducted a raid and recovered the abducted girl, who according to her aunt was drowsy and stumbled as she walked.

Showing the blue-inked print on her thumb, Poonam says that although the conversion certificate and the Nikkahnama have her imprints, she was unaware of what was happening with her. “Why would I put a thumb print on the documents when I can write my name in both Urdu and English?” she asked. “I was unconscious when my prints were taken. Neither have I changed my religion, nor have I married anyone.”

And that is exactly what she told the District Court South during the hearing of her case. She now hopes that the court will rule in her favour and yearns to be reunited with her family.

Taking notice of the incident, the Sindh Vice Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Amarnath Motumal, said, “Most of the time, criminals involved in kidnapping and forced conversion are influential and wealthy. Consequently, the victim is warned of dire consequences if she dares raise her voice. Therefore, many cases go unreported and other times, the families surrender. But Poonam is very brave and despite threats to her family that the teenager would be killed, she has decided to fight for her rights.”

The same stance is reiterated by Poonam. “My so-called husband should be severely punished. Why do people do such things? Thank God I was saved in the nick of time as I came to know later that my kidnappers were planning to shift me to another location. If they succeeded, I would have never seen my family again.”

Posted on 10/12/2011 3:11 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 12 October 2011
Saudi Arabia arrests Colombian soccer player over religious tattoos

From Columbia Reports

A Colombian soccer player was arrested in Saudi Arabia Monday for displaying religious tattoos.

Colombian-born Juan Pablo Pino was arrested by the Saudi moral police after customers in a Riyadh shopping mall expressed outrage over the sports player's religious tattoos, which included the face of Jesus of Nazareth on his arm.

Saudi Arabia is one of the most conservative countries in the Muslim world, and according to one of the country's most respected clerics, Nayimi Sheik Mohammed, Saudi law prohibits tattoos, no matter what their form, and every player has to abide with these rules.

The cleric went on to stress the importance of respecting the status of "Sharia" (Islamic law) and that the tattoos must be covered at all times.

Pino was released from custody when a team delegate arrived and discussed the matter with the police.

A similar event occurred in Saudi Arabia last year when a Romanian player kissed the tattoo of a cross he had on his arm after scoring a goal, which also caused public outrage.

Posted on 10/12/2011 3:32 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 12 October 2011
Big-Hearted Dubai

From Gulf News:

College refunds tuition fees following student's suicide

BITS Pilani denies seeking payment for internship assistance

  • October 12, 2011

Dubai: The family of Harshvardhan Kaushik Chirala, who committed suicide one month ago, has been reimbursed the tuition fees that had been paid before the tragic incident, adminstrators at BITS Pilani-Dubai Campus (BPDC) told Gulf News.

A sum of Dh12,500 has been sent by BPDC through courier service to the family of the fourth-year student who ended his life last month, college administrators said.

At the time of his death, shocked friends had claimed that Chirala had resorted to the extreme step because the university had charged him Dh5,000 for an internship with a Dubai company. It was alleged he was quickly removed from the temporary job after scoring low test marks.

Nahid Afshan, senior manager in charge of admissions at BPDC, has since rejected claims that the 21-year-old had been asked to pay for the internship.

"Representatives of our institution contacted the father of the student and subsequently met the parents at their residence and in the hospital and offered all help possible from the institution," Afshan told Gulf News.

"Upon being informed about the untimely death, the institution had decided to refund the amount of Dh7,500 paid as a first instalment tuition fee of the first semester of 2011-12, along with a lab caution deposit of Dh5,000 that was paid by him at the time of admission.

"A demand draft for Dh12,500 has already been prepared and the institution is awaiting the parents' return from India to hand it over," Afshan had said earlier.

In a letter to Gulf News, the institution's spokesman also stressed that the student was "never asked to pay Dh5,000 separately" for the internship that is said to have tipped him into despair.

Under investigation

The student joined BPDC in September 2008 and was studying for his BE (Hons) in Electronics and Communication Engineering.

He was a day-scholar, commuting from his home in Dubai's Al Ghusais area, according to the university.

It's believed he slashed his wrists before hanging himself. The details surrounding the death are still being investigated. The tragedy unfolded on September 11.

Chirala's death is not the first to rock the tight-knit campus. Last year a 30-year-old PhD student died after jumping from a building on the campus.

Posted on 10/12/2011 7:37 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 12 October 2011
Ruben Salvadori Shows How Those Photographs Are Staged For The Cameras

Watch his sober and intelligent presentation at Peta Pixel  here.

Posted on 10/12/2011 9:08 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 12 October 2011
Rashid Al-Gannushi, The Ennahda Party, And "The Arabs Who Would Like To Be Europeans"

From Spiegel On-Line:



The Smiling Islamist

Popular Candidate Worries Secular Tunisians

By Mathieu von Rohr

Photo Gallery: Election Approaches in Tunisia
Jean Revillard/ Rezo/ DER SPIEGEL

Free elections are set to take place for the first time next week in Tunisia, the country that set the Arab Spring in motion. The strongest party could turn out to be that of Rashid al-Ghannushi, an Islamist who returned to his country from exile in London, in a developement that worries many secular Tunisians.

The elderly gentleman with the chubby cheeks and gray beard will probably never be a great speaker, and yet his followers have once again gathered by the thousands. For months now, his aides have carted him from amphitheaters to sports halls, the masses loudly cheering his leaden speeches and stiff gestures as though he were the charismatic leader he most certainly is not.



Rashid al-Ghannushi, 70, is the leader of the moderate Islamist Ennahda Party. Today he is speaking to people in Sidi Bouzid, the town which gave birth to the Tunisian uprising last December. Ghannushi praises the martyrs of the revolution, talks about Islam and freedom, and smiles a grandfatherly smile while his bodyguards stare grimly into the audience. It is Saturday, Oct. 1, the first day of official campaigning for the Tunisian election.

Ever since he returned from exile in London at the start of the year, Ghannushi has been the main political attraction in his homeland. Hearing him speak, it's hard to understand how this professorial sounding man moves so many people, why he commands so much respect, or stirs up so much hatred. But when the Tunisian people go to the polls in their first free election on October 23, nearly everything will center around him. On this day, the future of Tunisia and the soul of the country will be determined.

The country that became the first in the Arab world this year to shake off its dictator -- in this case the corrupt Zine El Abidine Ben Ali -- will also be the first to let its people elect their representatives for a constitutional assembly. For this reason, the outcome of the election will also be a message to the entire Arab world.

Moderate Islamist Party Message

Of course, Tunisia isn't really ready for free elections. Neither the state nor the media or the people themselves. The raw force of revolution can't possibly develop into civil awareness this quickly; a repressive state cannot become liberal overnight. And the press, prevented for so long from reporting on anything of substance, must also learn that wildly spreading rumors isn't journalism.

Nevertheless, no other Arab country has better prospects for a successful democratic process than Tunisia. In contrast to Egypt, the last remaining forces of the former regime do not seem particularly powerful. And in contrast to Libya, Tunisia has a well-educated and homogenous population.

Ghannushi's visit to Sidi Bouzid is deeply symbolic. It was there that a fruit vendor set himself on fire in protest ten months ago, thus sparking the flame of dissent across the country. Ghannushi has traveled to the place where it all began, the conservative interior of Tunisia, where social unrest developed into a popular revolution. His party hopes for an overwhelming victory in the area.

Some 6,000 have turned out to see him, a crowd the size of those he has often addressed in recent months. As he tours the interior in the days ahead, he will attend one mass rally after another, pushing the message he and his spokesmen have been repeating ever since his return: The Ennahda Party is a moderate political group comparable to Turkey's ruling moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) or Germany's center-right Christian Democrats. At this point, nobody can be certain whether this is true or not.

Radical Party Past

Ghannushi's political awakening began in Syria in the 1960s. He is close to the Muslim Brotherhood and has in the past praised the suicide bombers of the Palestinian Hamas organization. In 1991, radical members of his movement sprayed members of the ruling party with acid. In the 1980s, they planted bombs in hotels. According to Ghannushi's writings, Islamic democracy is unthinkable unless it is based on Shariah law.

Many of these details have long since past, and many who have spoken with him since the Arab Spring are told he is a moderate who doesn't want to impose his religious beliefs and advocates equal rights for women. One of his daughters is a lawyer, the other a journalist. Ghannushi likes to talk about Turkey's Islamists, to whom he feels a special kinship.

But his enemies accuse him of being two-faced, refusing to believe he could have changed so dramatically during his exile in London.

When Ghannushi's plane touched down in Tunis on January 30, two weeks after Ben Ali was deposed, some compared it to the return of Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini to Tehran from his exile in 1979. The Tunisian authorities were so nervous about the event that they tried to prevent journalists from taking pictures of Ghannushi exiting the plane at the airport.

Thousands of his supporters had come to welcome him home, and in their euphoria they nearly crushed him as he tried to make his way through the terminal. In the midst of the huge crowd, the man who had been wrenched from the tranquility of his study in London looked anything but happy, his eyes wide open with fear. Ghannushi's return was a triumph for Tunisia's Islamist movement. Persecuted by the country's authorities for decades, they had never before been seen in such numbers.

Secular Tunisians Worried

Ghannushi was accompanied by dozens of exiled members of his party on the flight from London to the Tunisian capital. There was deep satisfaction in his face as he sat in his window seat, looking forward to his homecoming. In an interview he described himself as a democrat and someone who would never force women to wear a headscarf, giving an innocuous grandfatherly smile. That evening, Ghannushi received his followers at his brother's house in the Menzah VI district of Tunis, and the man they call "the Sheikh" was surrounded by his closest confidantes. They sensed that now everything was possible.

But many secular Tunisians were worried and wondering whether his rise would be the price of the revolution.

Tunisia is the most liberal country in the Arab world. Equal rights for women are enshrined in the current constitution, and women enjoy greater social, professional and sexual freedoms than their counterparts in any other Islamic country. Alcohol is available throughout the country and the bare-breasted Western tourists on Tunisia's beaches are somewhat leniently tolerated.

The man who instilled this worldly attitude was Tunisia's first president, Habib Bourguiba. After the retreat of French colonial forces in 1956, Bourguiba created a state based on French ideas. Bourguiba was not a religious man, and he called on his people to fight the country's underdevelopment instead of obeying the strictures of Ramadan. He even allowed himself to be filmed drinking orange juice in broad daylight -- in breach of the obligation to fast from dawn to dusk during the Islamic holy month.

Tunisia has been shaped by a Francophile and often French-educated elite living in its coastal regions. All educated people speak French, and among them it's fashionable to drop entire French sentences into Arab conversations. Economic ties with France make up almost a third of the country's economic output. "We Tunisians are Arabs who would like to be Europeans," says journalist Mongi Khadraoui from the al-Chourouk daily newspaper. [and that means they are fearful of Islam, intelligently don't care for Islam and the kind of people Islam creates, though they cannot state this so directly]

Old Ideological Battle

It is this elite that Rashid Al-Ghannushi despises, and it is their values he has vowed to fight. Secular President Bourguiba was Ghannushi's nemesis. Bourguiba had Ghannushi sent to jail for 11 years, sentenced to hard labor and finally given the death penalty for his Islamist activities. Whatever his specific political aims for the future may be, the cultural battle he is waging is decades old. It is also a battle against the legacy of colonialism and for a return to the country's Arab Islamic roots. [that "legacy of colonialism" includes the French language, and through it access to the great non-Islamic world, and the chance to learn about, and become part, of a non-Islamic civilization]

This June Ghannushi went on a campaign trip to Bizerte in the north of the country accompanied by his son Moadh, who grew up in London. Moadh sums it up as follows: "The French created an elite in this country that wants to emulate their former colonial masters, that feels uncomfortable with its Arab identity and passes this insecurity on to the people." By contrast, he adds, Ennahda wants to create a modern state based on Tunisian culture that is closer to the common people.

On this day Ghannushi sat under a parasol at a Bizerte ampitheater while some 8,000 people waited to hear him speak. Meanwhile a young woman -- in a hijab as strict as any to be seen on a Gulf TV soap opera -- passionately lamented the plight of the Palestinian people, her voice cracking dramatically. Only then did Ghannushi come to the microphone. "I greet women; the pillar of the family," he said. "It is they who propped up our movement." And he added, "The hijab is a basic principle of Islam, but we greet all revolutionary women. In Tunisia we have people who pray and those who do not. I hope the latter will do so tomorrow."

During this particular trip to Bizerte the fact that many Tunisians are not devout Muslims proved unavoidable for Ghannushi. On a day he met with a group of businessmen he hoped to convince of his party's socially-oriented capitalism, the regulars at the hotel bar had already started drinking early in the morning. The image of the drunk men staggering past the Islamists seemed absurd.

Does he intend to ban alcohol? Would he continue to allow beach tourists into the country? Ghannushi says the Tunisians themselves should be asked what they want. After all, he adds, there are other kinds of tourism than vacations by the sea. And he smiles his Sphinx-like smile again.

Economy May Dominate Election

Ennahda will undoubtedly make a strong showing in the elections. Some polls suggest Ghannushi's party will garner 20 to 30 percent of the vote, making it the largest party in parliament. But the reliability of these polls is questionable.

Ennahda is the best organized political party, with hundreds of local and youth groups that have been active for months, and what seem to be large financial reserves -- though their unclear origin has been the topic of heated debate. Although the Islamists played only a minor role in the revolution, their politicians are seen as credible because many of them were persecuted and/or tortured in the past.



But even if Ennahda won the election, a coalition of secular parties could dominate the new constitutional assembly. Polls put two liberal parties close behind the Islamists, including the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP), headed by Ahmed Néjib Chebbi, a member of the secular elite who is possibly Ghannushi's greatest political rival.

In spite of all the fuss over the cultural battle being waged between Tunisia's Islamists and secularists, the election will be strongly influenced by another topic entirely -- the economy. The dire social problems that led to the revolution have dramatically worsened this year. Growth has plunged from an average annual rate of 4.5 percent to around 0.3 percent, tourism revenues are down 40 percent, and the country's high unemployment level continues to rise.

The greatest danger now is that the Tunisian people will feel cheated of the fruits of their revolution and take to the streets once more. Ghannushi has promised voters that if his party wins, Tunisia could experience an economic boom like that in Turkey, his shining example. After all, that country too is governed by Islamists.

Posted on 10/12/2011 9:33 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 12 October 2011
Martin Kramer Decides To Eviscerate "Historian" Rashid Khalidi

Exodus, myth and malpractice

Exodus by Leon Uris must rank high on any list of the most influential books about the Middle East. The novel, published in 1958, popularized the story of Israel’s birth among millions of American readers. The 1960 film, based on the book and starring Paul Newman as Ari Ben Canaan, reached many more millions. Exodus is still of interest, not for what it says about the creation of Israel (the commander of the ship Exodus said Uris “wrote a very good novel, but it had nothing to do with reality. Exodus, shmexodus”), but for what it reveals about mid-twentieth-century America. So more inquiry into the American context of Exodus is welcome—provided you get the facts right.

Last fall, Rashid Khalidi, the Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University, offered his audiences an account of how Leon Uris came to write the book. In a speech at Brooklyn Law School, Khalidi made this claim:

This carefully crafted propaganda was the work of seasoned professionals. People like someone you probably never heard of, a man named Edward Gottlieb, for example. He’s one of the founders of the modern public relations industry. There are books about him as a great advertiser.

In order to sell the great Israeli state to the American public many, many decades ago, Gottlieb commissioned a successful, young novelist. A man who was a committed Zionist, a fellow with the name of Leon Uris. He funded him and sent him off to Israel to write a book. This book was Exodus: A Novel of Israel. Gottlieb’s gambit succeeded brilliantly. Exodus sold as many copies as Gone With the Wind, which up to that point was the greatest best-seller in U.S. history. Exodus was as good a melodrama and sold just as many copies.

Khalidi made a similar assertion in another speech a few weeks later, this time at the Palestine Center in Washington:

Now, I think it’s worth noting that this book was not the unaided fruit of the loins as it were, the intellectual loins of Leon Uris. He wrote it, of course, but the book was commissioned by a renowned public relations professional, a man who was in fact considered by many to be the founder of public relations in the United States, a fellow by the name of Edward Gottlieb, who desired to improve Israel’s image, and who chose Uris to write the novel after his successful first novel on World War II, and who secured the funding which paid for Uris’ research and trip to Israel. Given that many of the basic ideas about Palestine and Israel held by generations of Americans find their origin either in this trite novel or the equally clichéd movie, Gottlieb’s inspiration to send Leon Uris to Israel may have constituted one of the greatest advertising triumphs of the twentieth century. The man deserves his place in the public relations pantheon.

You can see Khalidi make this claim, with his customary self-confidence and much gesticulation, in the embedded clip. (If you don’t see it, go here.)

A myth unravels

Khalidi warned his Brooklyn audience that Gottlieb would be “someone you probably never heard of.” Quite right: I regard myself as reasonably informed about the history of American Zionism, and I had never heard of Edward Gottlieb. Khalidi claimed there were “books about him as a great advertiser,” so I did a search, but I couldn’t find one. When Gottlieb died in 1998, at the age of 88, no major newspaper ran an obituary. That seemed to me a rather scant trail for “the father of the American iteration of Zionism” and “the founder of public relations in the United States.”

One reason for the thin record, I discovered, is that Edward Gottlieb wasn’t the founder or even one of the founders of American public relations. He had been a journalist in the 1930s, and in 1940 joined the long-established public relations firm of a true founder, Carl Byoir. After Pearl Harbor, Gottlieb did radio and informational work for the war effort in the European theater of operations. In 1948 he opened his own shop, Edward Gottlieb and Associates, which grew into a respected mid-size firm, focused primarily on products. Most notably, Gottlieb popularized French champagne and cognac in the United States. When he sold his company in 1976 to a bigger competitor, it ranked sixteenth in size among PR firms in America. He seems to have been well-regarded, but he was not dominant in the business. If the Encyclopedia of Public Relations constitutes “the public relations pantheon,” then Gottlieb is noticeable only by his absence.

Gottlieb is likewise completely absent from works on American Zionism—there isn’t a single reference. Moreover, his name doesn’t appear in the two scholarly studies of Leon Uris: Matt Silver’s Our Exodus: Leon Uris and the Americanization of Israel’s Founding Story and Ira Nadel’s Leon Uris: Life of a Best Seller. I wrote to both scholars, asking them whether they had encountered the name of Edward Gottlieb in Uris’s personal papers, housed at the University of Texas and cited extensively in both studies. Silver wrote back that “I didn’t see anything about Edward Gottlieb” and Nadel answered that “I never came across G[ottlieb]‘s name.”

Both biographers are in agreement that the idea for a novel on Israel originated with Uris (encouraged by Dore Schary, a Jewishly-active Hollywood executive); that Uris’s agent Malcolm Stuart pushed him to realize his plan; that Uris successfully shopped the idea in Hollywood studios and New York publishing houses; and that his research trip to Israel in 1956 was financed by advances on the film rights and book from MGM and Random House. (United Artists and Doubleday subsequently acquired the rights.) The contracts and correspondence are preserved in Uris’s papers. And the Gottlieb “commission”? Silver wrote me that “my feeling is that this reference could be a complete canard.” Nadel wrote me that “the story is a complete fabrication.”

Khalidi always presents himself as a historian, so I figured he wouldn’t have concocted the Gottlieb story out of whole cloth. He must have had a source. As it happens, the Gottlieb claim figures in three books that are classics in the Israel-bashing canon. In Deliberate Deceptions (1995), Paul Findley wrote that Exodus “was actually commissioned by the New York public relations firm of Edward Gottlieb.” In Fifty Years of Israel (1998), Donald Neff wrote that Gottlieb “hit upon the idea of hiring a writer to go to Israel and write an heroic novel about the new country. The writer was Leon Uris.” And in Perceptions of Palestine (1999), Kathleen Christison wrote that Gottlieb “selected Uris, and sent him to Israel” in an “astute public-relations scheme.”

And on what source did Findley, Neff, and Christison rely? All of them referenced a 1985 how-to book on public relations, The Persuasion Explosion: Your Guide to the Power and Influence of Contemporary Public Relations by Arthur Stevens, a public relations professional. This is a breezy advice book full of PR do’s and don’t's, which no one would mistake for a history of the business. (A typical chapter title: “Success DOES Smell Sweet.”) Stevens in his book relates the Gottlieb story to illustrate a point:

The cleverest public relations in the world cannot successfully promote, for any length of time, a poor cause or a poor product. By contrast, skillful public relations can speed up the acceptance of a concept whose time has come. A striking example of this involved eminent public relations consultant Edward Gottlieb. In the early 1950s, when the newly formed State of Israel was struggling for recognition in the court of world opinion, America was largely apathetic. Gottlieb, who at the time headed his own public relations firm, suddenly had a hunch about how to create a more sympathetic attitude toward Israel. He chose a writer and sent him to Israel with instructions to soak in the atmosphere of the country and create a novel about it. The book turned out to be Exodus, by Leon Uris.

So this is the origin of the Gottlieb story: an example in a how-to book. Even so, I wondered how Stevens came to write this paragraph. Did he have a published source or documentary evidence? Was this part of the folklore of the business? So I tracked Stevens down and asked him. In an e-mailed reply, he told me that he had interviewed Gottlieb, “whom I knew well at the time,” around 1984:

The comments he made to me during my interview of him were those that went into the book. It wasn’t hearsay I made use of or the reporting of prevailing folklore floating through the public relations world at the time. What I reported is what he actually told me during my interview. Obviously, I cannot vouch for the accuracy or reliability of what he said.

So this wasn’t a claim based on any document or even part of PR lore. It was Gottlieb himself who told Stevens the story of how he supposedly chose Uris and sent him to Israel. “I didn’t get that information from any other source,” Stevens wrote me, “but directly from the horse’s mouth.” Ultimately, Gottlieb is the sole source of the Gottlieb story—told by him 28 years after Uris set off for Israel.

Gottlieb and Israel

But this still left a question. Since Gottlieb doesn’t appear in any account of American Zionism, why would he expect such a claim to be credible? “Only Edward Gottlieb would know if what he told me was true,” Stevens wrote me. But that isn’t so, because there is a living witness to Gottlieb’s own operations. She is Charlotte Klein, one of the first women to reach the top rungs of a public relations firm. Klein worked for Edward Gottlieb and Associates from 1951 to 1962, making vice president in 1955.

Klein was recently the subject of a short academic study, and there I finally found evidence for some connection between Gottlieb and Israel. The Government of Israel became a Gottlieb client in 1955; Charlotte Klein managed the account, and even traveled to Israel that year. This was about the time Uris began to take his book and film proposal around New York and Hollywood. Could the Gottlieb story still contain a grain of truth?

The study of Klein noted that she was still active at age 88 and living in Manhattan. So I wrote to Klein informing her of Khalidi’s claim that Gottlieb had commissioned Uris to write Exodus. I received this reply:

I was in charge of the Israel account at Edward Gottlieb and Associates and if Ed had ever talked to Uris about Israel I would have known it. As a matter of fact, Ed sought the Israel account because of me. I was one of his top employees and I told him that I was going to leave because I wanted to do work that was socially significant and would seek a job at the United Nations. He didn’t want me to leave and called me from outside the office soon after and said “Is the Government of Israel socially significant enough?” I stayed with him and handled the account which we kept for several years. There was never a discussion about Uris or regarding a possible book about Israel.

When I told her that Stevens said he had heard the story from Gottlieb, she added this:

1984, of course, is a long time from 1955 and Ed may have met Uris and felt he influenced him. However, there never was money enough on the account for Ed to “commission” anyone to write a book. I am also pretty sure that Ed would have bragged about meeting and talking to Uris if this happened. He would have asked me to come up with some ideas of what Uris ought to cover. I would have had a meeting of my staff on the Israel account and would have drawn up a plan to include people in Israel for Uris to contact. As part of our work for Israel we did suggest mainly to media people to go to Israel to write about any special events going on there or to cover specific news that was happening there.

So Charlotte Klein, who handled the Israel account for Gottlieb, was unequivocal: Gottlieb didn’t commission Exodus, and the name of Leon Uris never came up in the Israel work of the firm.

I could have stopped my pursuit here, but I decided to go one more lap. Perhaps there was some record of the Gottlieb-Israel relationship in official Israeli records? So I paid a visit to the Israel State Archives in Jerusalem, and found the Israeli foreign ministry files related to Gottlieb. These include contracts, reports, budgets, invoices, and press clippings, all awaiting a future historian.

The documents explain the relationship in detail. Gottlieb’s firm had a sub-entity, Intercontinental Public Relations, Inc. (ICPR), with offices in Washington and New York. The sub-entity did work that required foreign agent registration. Israel’s contracts with ICPR ran for two years (an initial year and one renewal), from February 1, 1955 thru January 31, 1957. The relationship was handled on Israel’s end by Harry (Yehuda) Levin, counselor at the Israeli embassy in Washington. The PR firm’s biggest coups involved Life magazine. This included arranging a meeting between visiting Prime Minister Moshe Sharett and the top executives of Life, resulting in a Life editorial strongly critical of Arab refusal to accept Israel. This was the firm’s biggest score, but Klein also worked to place Israel-related stories in magazines, newspapers, and trade journals.

The record shows that Israeli officials saw such outsourcing of PR as a (pricey) stopgap, until these tasks could be assumed by professionally-trained Israelis (and soon enough they were). The files make fascinating reading for anyone interested in the early history of Israeli hasbara in America—but they don’t contain a single mention of Leon Uris.

The purpose of myth

In sum, the Gottlieb “commission” never happened. Uris’s biographers dismiss it, Gottlieb’s most knowledgeable associate denies it, and no documents in Uris’s papers or Israeli archives testify to it. It originated as a boast by Gottlieb to another PR man, made almost thirty years after the (non-)fact. And given its origin, it’s precisely the sort of story a serious professional historian would never repeat as fact without first vetting it (as I did).

Yet it persists in the echo chamber of anti-Israel literature, where it has been copied over and over. In Kathleen Christison’s book, it finally appeared under the imprimatur of a university press (California). In Khalidi’s lectures last fall, it acquired a baroque elaboration, in which Edward Gottlieb emerges as “the father of the American iteration of Zionism” and architect of “one of the greatest advertising triumphs of the twentieth century.” What is the myth’s appeal? Why is the truth about the genesis of Exodus so difficult to grasp? Why should Khalidi think the Gottlieb story is, in his coy phrase, “worth noting”?

Because if you believe in Zionist mind-control, you must always assume the existence of a secret mover who (as Khalidi said) “you probably never heard of” and who must be a professional expert in deception. This “seasoned” salesman conceives of Exodus as a “gambit” (Khalidi) or a “scheme” (Christison). There is no studio or publisher’s advance, only a “commission,” which qualifies the book as “propaganda”—an “advertising triumph.” In Khalidi’s Brooklyn Law School talk, he added that “the process of selling Israel didn’t stop with Gottlieb…. It has continued unabated since then.” It is Khalidi’s purpose to cast Exodus, like the case for Israel itself, as a “carefully crafted” sales job by Madison Avenue mad men. Through their mediation, Israel has hoodwinked America.

In fact, the deception lies elsewhere. Exodus, novel and book, were universally understood to be works of fiction. In contrast, Rashid Khalidi claims to speak in the name of history—that is, carefully validated truth. “I’m a historian,” he has said. “What I can do best for the reader or audience is provide a background for which to see the present, not tell them about the present.” Again: “I’m a historian and I try not to speculate about the future.” And this: “I’m a historian, and I look at the way idealism has tended to operate, and it’s not a pretty picture.” And this one (which truly beggars belief): “I’m a historian, it’s not my job to attack or defend anybody.”

Forget that Khalidi interprets the present, speculates about the future, poses as an idealist, and attacks and defends people with vigor. (If he didn’t, he wouldn’t be a regular on NPR, Charlie Rose and the lecture circuit.) The point is that he proclaims over and again that he is a historian—that his opinions rest on facts about the past that he has subjected to his professional investigation. As I have shown, this is simply untrue. Khalidi will repeat and embellish a story simply because of its utility, without even a cursory check of its veracity. That’s literary license in a novelist. It’s malpractice in a historian.

Posted on 10/12/2011 12:48 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 12 October 2011
Another Example of the WCC’s Double Standard

Oikoumene Tweets copy.jpg

One of the most troubling aspects about the witness offered by the World Council of Churches about life in the Middle East is the double standard it uses to assess the actions of Israel and its neighbors.

It has become axiomatic that when the WCC feels it necessary to condemn Israel, it speaks loudly and unequivocally about the terrible things done by the Jewish state. There is no confusion about what the WCC is trying to say.

By way of comparison, when one of Israel’s neighbors does something obviously wrong, the WCC descends into pious incomprehensibility that leaves readers wondering exactly who did what to who?

This phenomenon is highlighted in two posts the WCC’s Twitter feed. A few hours ago, the World Council of Churches (which goes by @oikoumene on twitter, reposted a “tweet” from the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine Israel (@eappi) condemning Israel for demolishing “36 structures including 12 homes, displacing 35 people and affecting at least 207 others.” Such are tweets par for the course for the EAPPI, one of two WCC bureaucracies dedicated to assailing Israeli policies regarding the Palestinians. (The other is the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum.)

Given that Twitter messages are limited to 140 characters, it is unreasonable to demand that the World Council of Churches provide any background about the home demolitions. It’s possible (and entirely likely) that the homes were built illegally, without a permit.

The fact is, people lost their homes.

This is sad and tragic.

Underneath this tweet is another one declaring that the World Council of Churches “prays for #peace & nonviolence especially in #Egypt, #Philippines, #Zimbabwe”.

The tweet then provides links to two articles describing the violence in Egypt that killed more than 24 people – the vast majority of them Coptic Christians – on Oct. 9, 2011.

What is remarkable about this tweet is the lack of any condemnation of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces – which governs Egypt – for failing to protect the lives and property of Coptic Christians in their homeland. Coptic Christians have been subjected to mob violence on a regular basis in Egypt and the best the WCC can do is offer up bland prayers for peace in Egypt and throw in a reference to violence in the Philippines to boot.

Coptic Christians were run over and had their bodies crushed by armored personnel carriers during Sunday’s violence. Television stations were ransacked by security personnel seeking to confiscate footage of this outrage.

Eyewitnesses have reported seeing bodies of Coptic Christians dumped into the Nile River.

Before Sunday’s violence, Egyptian soldiers were caught on tape beating a Coptic Christian in a manner reminiscent of the attack on Rodney King in Los Angeles in 1992.

Churches have been regularly burned in Egypt.

Coptic Christians are demonized on Egyptian television and on the internet by Muslim extremists, accused of kidnapping Muslim women and forcing them to convert to Christianity, when in fact it is Coptic women and girls who have been raped and abducted and forced to convert to Islam by their neighbors.

Coptic Christians are leaving Egypt in droves.

Events like this are happening on a regular basis in Egypt and the WCC, founded in the aftermath of the Holocaust, which began with events like those described above cannot bring itself to express the horror that such actions should elicit.

But when Palestinians have their homes demolished – which is tragic – the WCC throws itself into a high dudgeon.

There are a number of targets in Egypt worthy of the WCC’s ire. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces that has governed Egypt since Mubarak’s ouster in February deserves condemnation. So does the Muslim Brotherhood and their Salafist rivals in Egypt who have incited hostility toward Coptic Christians in such a manner so as to make violence against Christians in Egypt an inevitability.

Egypt – home to the largest population of Christians in the Middle East – is careening toward catastrophe and the World Council of Churches cannot speak in a forthright manner about what is happening. Neither can the National Council of Churches in the U.S., nor any of the mainline Protestant churches in the U.S. that have assailed Israel so frequently and so vociferously in the past few years.

B’Nai Brith and the American Jewish Committee have condemned the outrage, while Christian organizations have remained largely silent. The historical record indicates that when and if these Christian institutions do issue statements, they will likely be appeasing and mollifying, written so as not to offend the sensibilities of Muslim interfaith partners.

The record shows quite clearly that the sensibilities of Jews have not mattered much to these institutions when they felt it was time to condemn Israel for its actions.

In its defense, the WCC and other institutions will assert that expressing outrage over events in Egypt will make life unsafe for Christians in that country.

The conclusion is pretty obvious: The easiest way to silence the prophetic voice of Christian institutions in the West is to threaten violence against Christian populations in the Middle East. The Soviet Union used this strategy with great effectiveness during the Cold War. Now it’s being done today by non-state actors in the Middle East.

This is more than a scandal or stumbling block to Christian-Jewish relations.

It is also a scandal of Christian-Muslim relations.

If the WCC is to be an honest dialogue partner with Muslim leaders, it has an obligation not speak forthrightly about the mistreatment of Christians in Muslim majority countries in the Middle East and the rest of the world.

The WCC owes Muslims the truth, not silence, about the horrors done in the name of Islam.

Sadly, it appears that the truth is one thing the WCC cannot offer.

(First published in CAMERA.)

Posted on 10/12/2011 1:37 PM by Dexter Van Zile
Wednesday, 12 October 2011
A Musical Interlude: I'm For You 100 Per Cent (Frances Day)

Listen here.

Posted on 10/12/2011 3:20 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 12 October 2011
Warning! Omar Shafil Hammami. You May lose Your US Citizenship under Proposed Law

'Bama Boy Omar Shafil Hammami al Shabaab Commander in Somalia

Homegrown terrorists, who are either native born or naturalized US Citizens, whether perpetrating actions here or abroad, would be stripped of their citizenship under a bill introduced in the US Senate and House by bi-partisan sponsors. The bill, known as The Enemy Expatriation Act was introduced today by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Scott Brown (R-MA), Representatives Charlie Dent (R-PA) and Jason Altmire (D-PA) today.

Senator Lieberman had introduced an earlier version of the proposed measure in May, 2010, The Terrorist Expatriation Act. The renamed bi-partisan measure was prompted by recent actions taken against American-born Imam Anwar Al-Awlaki in Yemen, two Massachusetts citizens and Islamic home grown terrorists, Rezwan Ferdaus and Tarek Mehanna. Ferdaus has been arraigned for federal prosecution Mehanna awaiting trial, for giving material support to designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations. Then there is ‘Bama Boy Omar Shafil Hammami, a native of Daphne, Alabama, at large in Somalia as a field commander for al Qaeda affiliate al Shabaab.

A joint news release issued by the bill’s sponsors explains the purpose of what many of us believe is long overdue as a legal weapon in the war against Islamic and other forms of alien terrorism.

An existing federal statute, 8 U.S.C. § 1481, identifies seven categories of acts for which U.S. citizens lose their citizenship if they perform one of those acts “with the intention of relinquishing United States nationality.” Under the proposed Enemy Expatriation Act, an eighth category would be added for a person who engages in hostilities or purposefully and materially supports hostilities against the United States.

“The repeated attempts by the now-deceased al Qaeda leader Anwar al Awlaki to recruit other American citizens to strike our homeland demonstrates the necessity of updating our laws to account for an enemy who would subvert our freedoms to attack us,” said Senator Lieberman. “This bill would establish in law a fact that all Americans already know – when an American citizen joins wartime hostilities against the United States, he is also renouncing his citizenship and should not be able to use an American passport as a tool of terror or a shield of self-protection.”

“Individuals who work with terrorist organizations to attack our country and kill our people should lose the privileges of citizenship,” said Senator Brown. “The recent arrest of Rezwan Ferdaus, who was stockpiling advanced weaponry and planning a major attack against our nation’s Capital, highlights the growing problem of home grown terrorism, even in a peaceful community like Ashland, Massachusetts. In future cases, this bill would take away what terrorists have already renounced through their words and actions—the right to call themselves Americans."

“When American citizens like Anwar al-Awlaki incite the violent overthrow of the United States and work within terrorist networks to coordinate attacks against the American people, it is appropriate that the federal government consider their actions a voluntary relinquishment of citizenship,” said Congressman Dent. “This bill modernizes the process by which the citizenship status of an individual engaged in hostile actions against the American people is examined by treating terrorists in the same manner as a U.S citizen who marched with the Third Reich, Imperial Japan or the forces of Saddam Hussein.”

“Unfortunately, we live in a world where our own citizens may engage in terrorism against our country,” Congressman Altmire said. “To help meet the challenges we are facing, and to protect our homeland, updates to our current laws are necessary as we continue to fight the global war on terror.”

The same due process that applies to the existing statute will apply to those whose citizenship could be revoked under the proposed amendment to the law. The State Department would make an administrative determination that a U.S. Citizen has indicated his intent to renounce his citizenship by engaging in, or purposefully and materially supporting, hostilities against the United States. That individual would then have the right to appeal that determination to the State Department and, then, to a federal district court.

If the proposed legislation becomes law, Hammami and others recruited here in the US to fight against this country may be deemed to have provided material support to enemy causes and lose US citizenship.  Hammami has been indicted in absentia by a US Grand Jury investigation in Mobile, Alabama for giving material aid to a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, al Shabaab.  If he or others like him who are US citizens are caught and repatriated, they would be prosecuted under the amended provisions of 8 U.S.C. § 1481.  Let that be a warning to existing US citizens contemplating or currently engaged in active terrorism efforts to stand down or face the consequences of their traitorous acts.

Thank you Senators Lieberman, Brown, Congressmen Dent and Altmire for introducing this bi-partisan legislation to complete this missing authority in US counterterrorism law.

Posted on 10/12/2011 6:23 PM by Jerry Gordon
Wednesday, 12 October 2011
"Excellent Project Management And Team Working Skills; A Track Record In Strategic Thinking And Relationship Management"

Two new fixed-term Literature Adviser positions are now being advertised on our corporate website.

2 roles, one year fixed-term contracts

Based in London

£25,000 per annum (plus £3,300 London Market Allowance)

This post attracts a generous benefits package, including 32 days’ leave and Civil Service pension arrangements, and benefits from a range of family-friendly policies.

You must read the Candidate Information and Role Profile before you make an application.  They contain vital information on how to apply, our selection procedures and the application deadline, as well as job-specific information.

The British Council creates international opportunities for people of the UK and other countries and builds trust between them worldwide.  The programmes we use to do this are wide-ranging and cover the arts, education, English, science and society.  Our work on behalf of the arts and creative industries in the UK encourages audiences and participants worldwide to reflect, enjoy, learn and improve their understanding of the UK.

We are looking for two outstanding literature project managers who have solid experience delivering literature work internationally, and can use their network of contacts in the UK literary sector to develop and deliver international cultural relations projects across the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Literature Department of the British Council works with writers and literature professionals to promote international collaboration and professional exchange.   We build relationships between reading, writing and publishing communities in the UK, and those around the world.

You will have:  excellent project management and team working skills; a track record in strategic thinking and relationship management; a good knowledge of contemporary British literature; knowledge of and contacts with the UK literature constituency and a graduate or postgraduate qualification in literature or equivalent experience.

Closing date for applications: 1700 hours on 20 October 2011.

Applications should be sent by e-mail where possible.  For all supporting documentation and the application form please see our website:

Posted on 10/12/2011 7:18 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 12 October 2011
The Approach To Al-Mu'tasim

"Libya conflict: Confusion over Mutassim Gaddafi's fate"

[headline at BBC News On-Line]


How should the NTC in Libya deal with Qaddafy's son Mutassim, if indeed it is he who has been captured while fleeing from Syrt? No doubt some would like to execute him, but the West is still needed, and not only to get the oilfields up and running, and summary execution is not something likely to please those Western powers.

Should they put the son on public display, deliberately humiliating him, as a way of declaring that the old order not only passeth, but has passed?

Everyone may have his own opinion as to what might be, in dealing with Mutassim, the right approach.

But no one can disagree that his reported capture, and the questions I have raised, have provided the perfect occasion to make the first recorded recyclable use of the title of an early and celebrated story by Jorge Luis Borges.

Posted on 10/12/2011 8:06 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 12 October 2011
Maha Al-Douri, Iraqi MP, Expresses The Gratitude Of The Shi'a To America For Rescuing Them From Saddam

Watch, and listen, to MEMRI's clip here.

Posted on 10/12/2011 8:53 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 12 October 2011
A Literary Interlude: The Fisherman (William Butler Yeats)

The Fisherman

Although I can see him still—
The freckled man who goes
To a gray place on a hill
In gray Connemara clothes
At dawn to cast his flies—
It's long since I began
To call up to the eyes
This wise and simple man.   
All day I'd looked in the face   
What I had hoped it would be   
To write for my own race   
And the reality:   
The living men that I hate,   
The dead man that I loved,   
The craven man in his seat,   
The insolent unreproved—
And no knave brought to book   
Who has won a drunken cheer—
The witty man and his joke   
Aimed at the commonest ear,   
The clever man who cries   
The catch cries of the clown,   
The beating down of the wise   
And great Art beaten down.

Maybe a twelve-month since
Suddenly I began,
In scorn of this audience,
Imagining a man,
And his sun-freckled face
And gray Connemara cloth,
Climbing up to a place
Where stone is dark with froth,
And the down turn of his wrist
When the flies drop in the stream—
A man who does not exist,   
A man who is but a dream;   
And cried, “Before I am old   
I shall have written him one   
Poem maybe as cold   
And passionate as the dawn.”
                              -- Yeats
Posted on 10/12/2011 9:31 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 12 October 2011
As With Islam, Everyone Will Be Forced To Recognize Global Climate Disruption -- But When?

From The Independent:

Global warning: climate sceptics are winning the battle

Father of the green movement says scientists lack PR skills to make public listen

By Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor
11 October 2011

Climate sceptics are winning the argument with the public over global warming, the world's most celebrated climate scientist, James Hansen of NASA, said in London yesterday.

It is happening even though climate science itself is becoming ever clearer in showing that the earth is in increasing danger from rising temperatures, said Dr Hansen, who heads NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies, and is widely thought of as "the father of global warming" – his dramatic alert about climate change in US Senate hearings in July 1988 put the issue on the world agenda.

Since then he has been one of the most outspoken advocates of drastic climate action, and yesterday he also publicly criticised Germany's recent decision to abandon its new nuclear power programme, formerly a key part of German climate measures, in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan earlier this year.

"I think it was a big mistake," he said. "And I think the Prime Minister [German Chancellor Angela Merkel] knows that, as she's a physicist, but I think the political reality is she couldn't stay in office if she expressed that opinion."

In a briefing at the Royal Society , Dr Hansen, pictured, was frank about the success with public opinion of what he termed "the climate contrarians", in effectively lessening public concern about global warming. He said: "They have been winning the argument for several years, even though the science has become clearer.

"There's been a very strong campaign by those who want to continue fossil fuel 'business as usual', and the scientific story has not been powerful enough to offset that push."

Part of the problem, he said, was that the climate sceptic lobby employed communications professionals, whereas "scientists are just barely competent at communicating with the public and don't have the wherewithal to do it."

The result was, he said, that in recent years "a gap has opened between what is understood about global warming by the relevant scientific community, and what's known by the people who need to know – and that's the public. However there's nothing that has happened to reduce our scientific conclusion that we are pushing the system into very dangerous territory, in fact that conclusion has become stronger over that same time period."

Asked if anything might re-alert the public to the dangers of climate change, Dr Hansen said: "Mother Nature."

Significant climatic "extreme events" were now occurring over 10 to 15 per cent of the planet annually, whereas between 1950 to 1980 they occurred over less than 1 per cent. He added: "So in places like Texas this year, Moscow last year, and Europe in 2003, the climate change is so big that they are undeniable. Within 10 to 15 years they're going to occur over 15 to 20 per cent of the planet, so people have to notice that the climate is changing."

Posted on 10/12/2011 10:01 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 12 October 2011
Turkey Will Never Be Part Of The EU - But Why Is It Permitted To Remain In NATO?

From Reuters:

Turkey looks east as EU accession prospect recedes

October 12, 2011

By Ibon Villelabeitia and Jonathon Burch

ANKARA (Reuters) - Cold-shouldered by the European Union it wants to join, NATO member Turkey is turning east politically and economically for the respect it feels it lacks in the West.

A rising Muslim democracy, Turkey began accession talks with Brussels in 2005, but progress has been painfully slow, hobbled by tensions between Ankara and EU-member Cyprus as well as opposition within France and Germany.

On Wednesday, the European Commission said no progress was achieved in the last year, raising new doubts over whether Turkey will ever become a full EU member.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has warned that a vigorous Turkey would not wait at the EU's doors "like a docile supplicant" and slammed European societies as "near geriatric."

His bitter mood is shared by many ordinary Turks who say they feel increasingly unwelcome in Europe. [why should they be welcome? What do they bring except Islam, and the permanent menace that adherents of Islam carry with them?]

Ecevit Iyit, 38, said he had applied four times for a visa to join his wife in Germany, where she works at a sausage factory in Stuttgart and lives with their three young children. [he should be grateful that his children, at great expense to German taxpayers, are being given a good, Western education, and learning a Western language. But he's not; he's bitter that he too can't join them. Perhaps the German government doesn't want to admit him because it suspects he would go on the dole. Perhaps it doesn't want him having yet another child to be paid for by the German state. Perhaps it may even hope that by keeping him out of Germany, his wife and expensive three children will return to Turkey.]

"I waited 11 months after one application before they rejected it," said Iyit as he waited at the gates of the German embassy in Turkey's capital Ankara. "They don't want us. Otherwise they would have taken us ages ago."

Turkey's foreign policy has been West-oriented for years, revolving around its EU application and NATO commitments.

But as its EU prospects recede, it has become increasingly independent-minded and keen to increase ties with the Middle East and North Africa -- a trend that has broad implications for the EU and the United States.

"There hasn't been a pan-European conversation about how on earth to deal with a Turkey that's not just assertive but is now threatening what to some Europeans are core interests and may pursue actions that could lead to conflict," said Daniel Korski, of the London-based European Council on Foreign Relations.

"There was a compromise before where those who want Turkey to be part of the EU and those who don't could agree we need a strategic dialogue with Turkey because it was becoming increasingly assertive and important. But some Europeans are now beginning to worry about the point of strategic dialogue with a country that's moving beyond the pale of normal behavior."

The shift is turning Turkey into a model in the Arab world at a time when the region is undergoing sweeping change while U.S. and European influence appears to be waning.

During a September tour of Arab countries, Erdogan was feted by adoring masses, portrayed himself as a Muslim leader, fustigated Israel and championed a Palestinian statehood.

Turkey is now a stable democracy and one of the world's most vibrant economies, which has given Turks a new sense of confidence, in contrast to the existential malaise plaguing Europe due to the financial crisis.Turkey is, according to Reuters and some other outlets, both a "stable democracy" -- it isn't -- and a "vibrant economy" -- it isn't that either, as events will soon prove][

A survey on transatlantic trends by the German Marshall Fund think-tank published in September showed that a majority of Turks considered the Middle East more important to the country's economic interests and security than the EU.

"We shouldn't join the EU. They should just reject our application now," Hasan Filanci, a 25-year-old baker. "Europe is the sick man, write that down." [so in the Turkish view "Europe is the sick man of Europe."]


Despite waning domestic support for EU membership, about half of Turkey's trade is with the bloc and more than 75 percent of foreign direct investment comes from the EU.

After the release of the Commission's report, Ankara said on Wednesday "full membership to the union is Turkey's only goal."

Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet once compared Turkey to a galloping horse with its head on the continent of Europe and its body on the Asian continent. But heads can turn.

In recent months, Turkey has raised concerns it is changing its soft power for a more confrontational policy, upsetting even it staunchest supporters.

It has sent warships to the eastern Mediterranean to challenge EU member Cyprus' and Israel's offshore gas drilling projects, and has warned it would freeze ties with the EU if Cyprus assumes the bloc's rotating presidency next July.

The Commission on Wednesday said it was concerned about tensions between Ankara and Cyprus and urged Turkey to refrain from any threats or actions that could undermine relations.

As EU talks drag on, Turkey has failed this year to open even one new chapter, or policy area, of the 35 that a candidate country must complete before it can join the bloc.

Since membership talks started, Turkey has opened 13 chapters. Most of the rest are "frozen" by political disputes between Ankara and EU capitals.

For years, the argument in favor went that EU-driven political and economic reforms offered a policy anchor for a NATO country that borders Iran, Iraq and Syria and with a history of political instability and financial crises.

The EU prospect reassured investors and brought prestige to Turkey, which has access to European markets and has expanded business ties in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

For its part, EU reforms allowed civilian governments in Ankara to break the grip of the conservative army and judiciary. [this sentence reveals that the Reuters reporters do not understand -- that "conservative" army and "conservative" judiciary were defending secularism, Kemalism, and Erdogn cunningly used what he claimed were EU requirements to diminish the role and power of both, and make both the army and judiciary subservient to Erdogan and those who think like Erdogan]/

Amanda Paul of the Brussels-based European Policy Center said Turkey should resist actions that could harm longer term interests, which lie in a strong anchoring to Europe.

"Turkey will never walk away. It has absolutely no reason to walk away. Even though there are no negotiations going on, Turkey still hopes for economic stability and bringing in foreign investment and that added extra sparkle," Paul said.

"Turkey is a crucial as an energy corridor and for other energy projects, and the EU does need to main strong links with Turkey."

Posted on 10/12/2011 10:22 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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