These are all the Blogs posted on Friday, 12, 2011.
Friday, 12 August 2011
Israelâ€™s Rights to Annexation versus the â€œImaginary State of Palestine
Matthew Hausman, talented brother of Rabbi Jonathan Hausman, has published a definitive article on the Israpundit website on why Israel has the legal right to annex what the world refers to as the West Bank of Jordan, Judea and Samaria: “History, Demographics, and Law Favor Israel’s Annexation of Judea and Samaria, Not a Two-State Solution." His article comes at a critical time given the looming UN General Assembly deliberations in September over a possible unilateral declaration of a Palestinian State brought by the Fatah, with international support of the newly renamed Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the EU, with tacit condoning by the Obama White House. A White House that has recently photo shopped Israel’s claim to its ancestral capitol of Jerusalem by scrubbing the reference from a picture of Vice President Biden and Israel’s President Shimon Peres from its website. Hausman’s article is useful in disputing the arguments of proponents of the unilateral Palestinian State. Moreover, Hausman’s presentation is bolstered by legal considerations that the proposed Palestinian State does not meet the international legal standards for definition of a state, articulated in a recent Foreign Policy article by former AIPAC official, Steven Rosen, “The Palestinians’ Imaginary State”. Effectively, as both Hausman and Rosen argue, the Jewish State of Israel and its claims to the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria are a reality, while those of Fatah to East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza are ‘imaginary.”
Hausman’s arguments are based on ancient Jewish antecedents, the 1920 San Remo Conference of the League of Nations that set up the post-WWI Jewish Homeland, the 1922 US Joint Congressional Resolution call for establishment of a Jewish homeland, UN General Assembly Resolution 181 that affirmed the 1947 UNSCOP report establishing the partition of the Palestine Mandate into a Jewish State of Israel, and an Arab state, the latter rejected by the Arabs who went to war, and the November 1967 UN Security Council Res. 242 that established the doctrine of secure and defensible borders for Israel based on the disputed territories. Hausman notes the demographic realities of more than 500,000 Israelis living in East Jerusalem and towns in Judea and Samaria. The term Palestine is Roman in origin assigned to the conquered Jewish lands by Emperor Hadrian following the fall of the Bar Kochba Jewish Republic in 135 C.E. The term was considered a fiction based on the comments of the Arabs themselves, who noted during the British Peel Commission of the late 1930's they considered Palestine, a "Zionist" construct. Hausman's arguments are further bolstered by Israeli historian Benny Morris in1948: The First Arab –Israeli War, his chronicle of Israel’s War for Independence,, that the young IDF during the latter stages of the conflict had the resources to rout the Jordanian Legionaries from what became the 1949 Armistice Line that divided Jerusalem until the June 1967 Six Days of War saw the liberation of entire municipality, the regaining of Judea and Samaria; the disputed territories that comprised the West Bank.
We have presented arguments by Dutch politician Geert Wilders and Israeli Member of the Knesset, Dr. Arieh Eldad, that, the real Palestine is the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (originally Transjordan created by the British Colonial Office in 1923 from the east bank of the original Jewish homeland) given that well over 70 percent of the population is composed of Arabs who fled the disputed territories of the West Bank in the several conflicts with the Jewish State of Israel.
Hausman also refers to the divisive clan conflicts between the Arab communities on the West bank and Gaza a subject that Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies has written of extensively in his book Hamas Versus Fatah: the Struggle for Palestine.
But Fatah, the PA, and the broader PLO do not seek statehood for this West Bank entity that arguably could meet the legal requirements. Their minimum demand is a state that includes Gaza along with the West Bank, the eastern part of Jerusalem, and all the other parts of mandatory Palestine that were under Jordanian and Egyptian control before 1967. Fatah, the PA, and the PLO are demanding title to lands and authority over populations they do not control, being as they are under the rule of Hamas and Israel.
Unlike the two Palestinian entities that already exist, either of which could be recognized as a Palestinian state because they seem to fulfill the legal requirements, the Palestinian entity that a General Assembly majority will recognize as a state this September does not actually exist on Earth. It is imaginary and aspirational, not real. And it does not meet the legal requirements.
It is for all of these reasons cited by Hausman and Rosen that the current efforts by the Fatah, OIC, EU and even US allies seeking the unilateral declaration of an imaginary Palestinian State do not meet the legal standings of Israel for secure and defensible borders including the annexation of Judea and Samaria. After all the real Palestinian state already exists in Jordan.
A vast majority of Austrians want an anti-burka law, according to a new poll.
Viennese public opinion agency Karmasin spoke with 500 Austrians to find that 71 per cent of them were in favour of such a law prohibiting wearing burkas in public places. There are no figures on how many Muslim women living in Austria wear burkas which are considered by some as a sign that they are repressed by their religious husbands. While newspapers speculate that most burka-wearing women were wealthy tourists on shopping sprees in Vienna and other holiday hotspots, Social Democratic (SPÖ) Minister for Women Gabriele Heinisch-Hosek revealed she could imagine implementing an anti-burka regulation similar to restrictions in France, Belgium and other European countries.
News that more than seven in 10 Austrians speak out in favour of an anti-burka wearing bylaw may intensify the public and political debate whether Austria has done enough to help Muslim immigrants integrating in the society. Research shows that only four in 10 Turkish women living in Austria have a job while around 68 per cent of Austrian women are employed.
Right-wing political forces have succeeded by campaigning against Muslim immigrants. The Freedom Party (FPÖ) may feel confirmed in its anti-Muslim course over news that a Muslim doctor resigned as vice president of the Austrian Islamic Denomination (IGGiÖ) for claiming that doing sports was unhealthy for women. Ahmet Hamidi caused a public outcry by announcing that the female organism was harmed by physical activity.
Fuat Sanac, the new head of the IGGiÖ, defended Hamidi. Sanac told Die Presse newspaper the ex-IGGIÖ deputy chief was misquoted. "He meant extreme sport . . ."
People's Party (ÖVP) Integration State Secretary Sebastian Kurz – whose faction forms a federal government coalition with the SPÖ – reiterated his appeal that all imams working in Austria must lecture and preach in German. . . Kurz said Muslim immigrants should learn German and participate in the society "to feel as self-confident Muslims and Austrians" at the same time.
Sanac’s predecessor as president of the IGGiÖ, Anas Schakfeh, waded into controversy in 2010 by expressing the hope that all of Austria’s nine provincial capitals will have their own mosques. FPÖ General Secretary Harald Vilimsky hit back by branding mosques as "hotbeds of radical Islam." Karmasin polled 500 Austrians a few days after Schakfeh’s initial appeal for more mosques was published. With 52 per cent, more than one in two Austrians rejected his suggestion. There are only three mosques in Austria at the moment.
Meanwhile, a growing number of political analysts, sociologists and newspaper columnists criticise that most Austrians seem to think of Muslims when the coexistence of themselves and foreigners was debated. Germans are the largest group of immigrants in Austria. More than 500,000 of the 8.5 million people living in the Alpine country are Muslims. Their number is on the rise
The ferocious criminality exhibited by an uncomfortably large section of the English population during the current riots has not surprised me in the least. I have been writing about it, in its slightly less acute manifestations, for the past 20 years. To have spotted it required no great perspicacity on my part; rather, it took a peculiar cowardly blindness, one regularly displayed by the British intelligentsia and political class, not to see it and not to realize its significance. There is nothing that an intellectual less likes to change than his mind, or a politician his policy.
Three men were run over and killed as they tried to protect their property in the very area of Birmingham in which I used to work, and through which I walked daily; the large town that I live near when I’m in England has also seen rioting. Only someone who never looked around him and never drew any conclusions from the faces and manner of the young men he saw would have been surprised.
The riots are the apotheosis of the welfare state and popular culture in their British form. A population thinks (because it has often been told so by intellectuals and the political class) that it is entitled to a high standard of consumption, irrespective of its personal efforts; and therefore it regards the fact that it does not receive that high standard, by comparison with the rest of society, as a sign of injustice. It believes itself deprived (because it has often been told so by intellectuals and the political class), even though each member of it has received an education costing $80,000, toward which neither he nor—quite likely—any member of his family has made much of a contribution; indeed, he may well have lived his entire life at others’ expense, such that every mouthful of food he has ever eaten, every shirt he has ever worn, every television he has ever watched, has been provided by others. Even if he were to recognize this, he would not be grateful, for dependency does not promote gratitude. On the contrary, he would simply feel that the subventions were not sufficient to allow him to live as he would have liked.
At the same time, his expensive education will have equipped him for nothing. His labor, even supposing that he were inclined to work, would not be worth its cost to any employer—partly because of the social charges necessary to keep others such as he in a state of permanent idleness, and partly because of his own characteristics. And so unskilled labor is performed in England by foreigners, while an indigenous class of permanently unemployed is subsidized.
The culture of the person in this situation is not such as to elevate his behavior. One in which the late Amy Winehouse—the vulgar, semicriminal drug addict and alcoholic singer of songs whose lyrics effectively celebrated the most degenerate kind of life imaginable—could be raised to the status of heroine is not one that is likely to protect against bad behavior.
Finally, long experience of impunity has taught the rioters that they have nothing to fear from the law, which in England has become almost comically lax—except, that is, for the victims of crime. For the rioters, crime has become the default setting of their behavior; the surprising thing about the riots is not that they have occurred, but that they did not occur sooner and did not become chronic.
Suburban Pittsburgh Father, Son Die Fighting In Libya
Mabruk Eshnuk, Malik Eshnuk Lived In Scott Township
Mabruk Eshnuk and his 21-year-old son, Malik, lived in Scott Township but returned to Libya to join the rebels fighting the Moammar Gadhafi regime. Both men died Saturday when a mortar struck their vehicle. Yaseen and Mohamud Eshnuk, the sons of Mabruk and the brothers of Malik, said they were struck with sadness at first when an uncle called to tell them what happened, but they soon realized it was a blessing that their father and brother died honorably as martyrs. The brothers said it was always a dream of their father to go back and fight against Gadhafi because they believed he was an evil dictator who harassed Muslims for things like wearing long beards. [this does not sound as if they were fighting to bring liberal democracy to Libya] Their father was run off by other relatives when he was 17 because their family was a target. To this day, the brothers say Gadhafi's people still target their family and are looking for one of their uncles who happens to be in the United States.
It’s fascinating to see not only the Middle East going backward but Western analysts and officials cheering on a return to even more war and terrorism. A good example is “In Tumult, New Hope for Palestinian Cause” by Anthony Shadid and David D. Kirkpatrick in the New York Times.
Let’s take one paragraph and see what it tells us:
In all the tumult of the Arab revolts, one of the most striking manifestations of change is a rejuvenated embrace of the Palestinian cause. The burst in activism in Egypt, Lebanon and even Tunisia has offered a rebuttal to an old bromide of Arab politics, that authoritarian leaders cynically inflamed sentiments over Israel and Palestine to divert attention from their own shortcomings. But the embrace of the issue also helped confirm its status as a barometer of justice and freedom for many Arabs and Muslims. And now, the demands of an empowered public raise the possibility of a significant change in the region’s foreign policies which, at least tacitly, capitulated to the dictates of the United States and Israel.
By the way, all of this also applies to anti-Americanism. Now let’s take it one piece at a time:
In all the tumult of the Arab revolts, one of the most striking manifestations of change is a rejuvenated embrace of the Palestinian cause.
Wasn’t it a few weeks ago that the alleged lack of obsession with the Arab-Israeli conflict was a sign of progress toward moderation and democracy? Now we are told the exact opposite! And nobody in the mass media even notes that this is a contradiction!
The burst in activism in Egypt, Lebanon and even Tunisia has offered a rebuttal to an old bromide of Arab politics, that authoritarian leaders cynically inflamed sentiments over Israel and Palestine to divert attention from their own shortcomings.
I love this one! First, it isn’t “an old bromide” at all since, while people like me have written about this, it has not penetrated the mainstream, which has continually insisted that the inflaming was a reflection of real public sentiments. Of course, we know these are real hatreds or they wouldn’t be so easily inflamed.
What’s happening now, of course, is that the oppositions — including and even mainly so Islamists — are cynically inflaming sentiments in order to discredit the old regimes and mobilize support for themselves.
But the embrace of the issue also helped confirm its status as a barometer of justice and freedom for many Arabs and Muslims.
In fact, the embrace of this issue shows that people can still be bought off by inflaming nationalist and religious sentiments rather than providing more freedom or better living standards. It’s the road to dictatorship, violence, and demagoguery. Who says only the old “authoritarian leaders” could play this game? The new authoritarian leaders will also do so.
When presidential frontrunner Amr Moussa visited a village, Reuters reported one villager saying:
“We don’t even have proper drinking water. Over there they are drinking mineral water from bottles because we don’t have sweet water….” Villagers pointed to the broken roads and the lack of sewerage. They described the local school where there are 65 children to a class.”
Providing teachers, schoolrooms, roads, and water pipes is expensive; providing xenophobic demagoguery is cheap. There’s no money but there is a lot of guns and hatred. So channeling it against Israel and America is a good thing? Is that going to help the people?
And now, the demands of an empowered public raise the possibility of a significant change in the region’s foreign policies which, at least tacitly, capitulated to the dictates of the United States and Israel.
It is amazing how Western reporters accept radical Arab nationalism and Islamism as the proper behavior. Did, for example, President Hosni Mubarak “capitulate” to “dictates”? Note that these reporters aren’t saying this is the claim of others. Rather they are agreeing to this claim. Mubarak, then, according to the New York Times correspondents, was indeed a running dog lackey of Western imperialism and Zionism.
Did Sadat make peace because he was capitulating to pressure or because it was in Egypt’s interest to do so? And suppose — it is not going to happen but I’m trying to make a point here — the Palestinian Authority made peace with Israel. Wouldn’t that mean they were capitulating “to the dictates of the United States and Israel” and thus should be overthrown or killed?
This is, of course, the line of Hamas which is now echoed by the New York Times. And, of course, the Palestinian Authority leaders are aware of this popular view which is one of many reasons why they won’t make peace with Israel.
So did Mubarak (actually his predecessor, Anwar al-Sadat) just “sell out” or did he: get back the Sinai, bring a much-needed peace that benefited Egypt, get back the oilfields, get the Suez Canal open, and obtain about $60 billion of U.S. aid including military equipment?
Yet this is the radical cry: We gave in and got nothing! So what’s the next step? Courageous resistance! More war, more terrorism, more intransigence, more decades of conflict, more wasted lives and resources! This is something to celebrate as some proof of thirst for democracy and justice?
And what is their goal? A just and lasting two-state solution based on compromise, or wiping Israel off the map?
In other words, once again, the march toward suicidal policies is being applauded in the West while the pragmatists who sought to follow another road –not democratic but at least more practical and development-oriented — are called traitors.
The problem with these particular journalists and many others is that while once the reporting was slanted, it is increasingly on the other side, the side of the new totalitarians, the terrorists (and I don’t mean al-Qaeda), and the anti-Americans. Radicals and anti-Americans — especially the Muslim Brotherhood — are portrayed as good; real moderates or allies of the United States — the regime in Egypt, the oppositions in Turkey and Lebanon as well as Iran — are portrayed as bad, betrayed, or ignored.
Syrians who value freedom and are willing to die for it are going to be bitterly disappointed. Even if the Alawite-dominated Baathist regime of President Bashar al-Assad collapses and the opposition takes power, the challenges will be overwhelming.
Syria is no Egypt or Tunisia, with their relatively homogeneous societies and militaries able to act independently. Nor is it the tribal wasteland of Yemen. The considerable obstacles to political reform in Cairo and Tunis pale beside the dilemmas that would confront new and contending Syrian leaderships, however progressive many might be.
There are three possible outcomes to the current struggle for power, none of them comforting: The regime may suppress the rebellion; the “opposition” may take over; or Syria may break into a series of contesting micro-states. All possibilities have profound implications not only for Syrians but for the Arab revolt writ large, for the region’s fragile state system and for the international community, including Western interests.
Most likely, the Assad regime will survive, despite sanctions, diplomatic isolation and economic dislocation. Syria has been through this before, with the Americans alternating between labelling the regime a pariah and making overtures aimed at drawing Damascus into dialogue. Neither has worked.
Syria’s leadership is now subject to intense worldwide scrutiny and criticism, from Washington to Riyadh to Moscow. The language of human rights, however defined, may be pervasive, but the reality is different. It’s quite possible that many in the international community view a reassertion of Mr. al-Assad’s power, as distasteful as it is, as the lesser of evils, in a situation where chaos seems the most likely alternative.
In Syria, the existing elite, the military command and the intelligence services are so intertwined as to be indistinguishable. While there are differences at the top, these focus on the tactics of repression, not its substance – in 1982, between 10,000 and 20,000 people were killed during the Sunni-dominated Muslim Brotherhood revolt in the city of Hama. And Mr. al-Assad can’t move against corruption, because he’s now dependent for his own survival on members of the decadent elite, which his long-ruling father had empowered.
Syria’s population is highly fragmented along ethno-religious lines. Sunnis represent the traditionally privileged majority. Alawis and Druze, breakaway sects of Shia Islam, as well as Christians, constitute significant minorities that, during the interwar French mandate, were recruited into the security services to contain Sunni nationalism. It’s these groups that supported the now ruling Baath Party, which put heavy emphasis on secular values. And it’s these groups that fear majority Sunni rule will put them at risk.
If the current opposition took power, its greatest challenges would be its own heterogeneity, even among Sunnis, its lack of cohesiveness and leadership and its consequent inability to assert itself in any concerted manner. The resulting internecine impasse, in the absence of any institutional base or developed civil society, would result in a fierce internal struggle. The demise of the current Baathist regime in Syria would be a severe blow to Iran and Hezbollah, Israel’s bêtes noires. A Sunni-based Islamist takeover, however, would be a real possibility. Think Hama, 1982.
The third scenario might be the most unstable: a division of the country into sovereign ethnic enclaves with the Alawis grabbing their demographic littoral (as rumoured in the Lebanese press). While it would be simplistic to argue that ethnicity rules all and that the quest for freedom has little resonance beyond tribe, the power of identity and narrative should never be underestimated in the Middle East.
Michael Bell, a former Canadian ambassador to Egypt, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories, is the Paul Martin (Sr.) Scholar in International Diplomacy at the University of Windsor
It is strange to see solemn discussions of whether the Obama Administration is "inching" toward demanding Assad's removal, as if that mattered, or what the Arab Gulf sheiklets decide, or Saudi Arabia, or the E.U. The only thing that counts for Syria is that it continues to ahve support, not from a distant well-wisher, but from a powerful country which is just next door, and whose horrible regime needs to keep the Syrian regime in power, for without it Sunni Arabs will surely take over, and though they will make life more than unpleasant for Christians, they will be murderous toward the Alawites, regarded by some (and the Alawties wanted such a designation themselves, so as to at least be considered orthodox, if Shi'a, Muslims) as Shi'a, and the hatred of the Alawites will spill over, has already spilled over, into a hatred, becoming more virulent by the minute, in Syria for the Shi'a (as is already the case among the Sunnis in Iraq who feel keenly their loss of power and wealth, now transferred to the Shi'a who show no signs of wanting to share either -- and, given what happened to them under decades of Sunni Arab rule, why should they?
But it is strange to see Western commentators on Syria using such words as "freedom" and "democracy" when surely they now know, if they did not before, that the "Arab Spring" is not about either, but about resentment of the loot seized by the ruling regime, or families (as in Libya and Tunisia), or in the case of Egypt, the army, and the contumely with which those ruling regimes, or families, or -- in the case of Egypt -- the army, treats the populace. The same applies to Syria, but there the end of the regime would mean that every Alawite village would be in trouble, as scores were settled in the style to which Muslims, raised in societies suffused with aggression and violence -- held in check only by despotism -- that can be traced to the violence and aggression that are found in so many places in the Qur'an and Hadith and Sira.
And it is even stranger seeing them take solemn sides in these conflicts, depicting one side -- those rebelling against things as they are -- as the Forces of Light fighting the Forces of Darkness, when they are no such thing.
And strangest of all is the inability, apparently, to welcome such conflict, as a way of keeping Muslims occupied with internal fissures, within the Camp of Islam, and using up their money, and their war materiel. We are, after all, in the advanced West, not Muslims, and we recognize, do we not, that that West, and indeed all of the non-Muslim Rest, are menaced by what may be called the Camp of Islam, and it is in the interest of that West to cease to spend trillions trying to improve the lot of Muslims. Instead, their own divisions will possibly not undo them, but buy time for a sufficient number of people in the West to come to their senses about Islam, and to grasp that the conditions of failure and collapse in Turkey that made Ataturk possible, are the same conditions that may allow for other ataturks to arise, and succeed in the effort not to do away with Islam, but to constrain it as a social and political force, and perhaps, to create the kind of secular class that still exists in Turkey, and that may return to power, once Erdogan fails, as fail he ultimately will. And in Iran, nothing has so weakened the hold of Islam, seen as the "gift of the Arabs" that many would like to send right back, as the exerience of the last thirty years with the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The Syrian conflict is like the Iran-Iraq War. From the viewpoint of the West, it should go on forever. And if it has consequences for Sunni-Shi'a relations in Lebanon, making them still worse, perhaps murderously worse, and in Iraq, too, why is that a bad thing?
The fall of the House of Assad in Syria is not going to be pretty, but when it happens it is going to have the most profound and lasting impact of all the revolts that are currently challenging the established order of the Arab world.
At a time when troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad are continuing to terrorise protesters, it might seem premature to start compiling the regime’s obituary. Yesterday, government forces were reported to have killed another 18 people in the central city of Homs, while dozens more are said to have died in nearby Hama. In all, an estimated 1,700 anti-government activists have lost their lives in the five months since the protests began, and thousands more have been arrested and tortured.
The brutality of this response may have stymied the initial momentum for change generated by the nationwide protests, but it has done little to improve the Assad regime’s long-term survival prospects. On the contrary, the uninhibited use of tanks and snipers against unarmed civilians has only succeeded in further increasing the Syrian government’s international isolation to the point where, for the first time since the unrest began in March, its ability to survive the uprising is now being openly called into question.
Every political crisis has its game-changing moment – the point when the balance tips irrevocably in favour of one particular outcome. In Egypt, the military’s decision to withdraw its support for President Hosni Mubarak was the crucial factor in his overthrow, while in Libya the Arab League’s unanimous backing for military intervention against Colonel Muammar Gaddafi provided the political cover for Nato’s military intervention.
So far as Syria is concerned, the Assad regime’s fate was sealed earlier this week [see comment below] ] when a succession of key regional allies finally reached the end of their tether and washed their hands of the dictator. Damascus will no doubt claim that it will not be affected by the decision of Kuwait and Bahrain to withdraw their ambassadors in protest at the government’s heavy-handed tactics. The Bahrainis, in particular, are in no position to criticise the intolerance of other Arab states after the way they suppressed their own uprising in the spring.
Con Coughlin may not realize that inside Syria, the regime has already been spreading the word for months about Saudi-fiinanced terrorists; the Assad regime long ago gave up completely on Saudi Arabia. It only needs one ally, if that ally is next door and powerful, and rich, and well-armed, and Iran is all of those things. And if the West continues to dither, Iran may also soon acquire nuclear weapons. Assad knows that Iran's rulers know that they cannot abandon him for that would not only lead to Hezbollah in Lebanon being cut off from its weapons supply, but would subject Alawites, whom the Iranians have chosen to consider as Shi'a, to Sunni Arab vengeance (whatever hollow promises are now made for a "peaceful" transition to "democracy"). They are stuck with protecting the Syrian regime, and that regime knows it.
PARIS—French President Nicolas Sarkozy says his country will stick with the international campaign against Libya's longtime leader until the end.
Sarkozy said Friday that France's military effort—central to the nearly five-month-old NATO-led operation—"will remain constant."
He said there is no choice but to "go to the end of the mission."
The U.N.-mandated campaign against Moammar Gadhafi's forces has been deadlocked for long periods, and public support for the costly mission has waned.
Sarkozy was speaking to forces aboard the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, which was operating off the Libyan coast for months and was crucial to the NATO campaign. The carrier is returning to port in Toulon on the Mediterranean for maintenance.
Misunderstanding The Situation, Western Reporters Keep Being Surprised That Syria Ignores Turkish And American And "World" Opinion
From the latimes.com
Syrian forces kill 13 as protests erupt nationwide
Syria, despite warnings from Turkey and the U.S. to stop military operations against unarmed civilians, continues its campaign against dissent, witnesses and activists say. Turkey, Syria's neighbor, may regard the violence along its border as an affront.
By Ellen Knickmeyer and Alexandra Sandels, Los Angeles Times
August 12, 2011
Reporting from Beirut
Syria shrugged off warnings from neighboring Turkey, the United States and other countries to cease military operations against unarmed civilians, killing at least 13 people Friday as protests erupted countrywide despite the growing security crackdown, according to accounts from witnesses and activists.
Among the dead were some killed in the eastern town of Dair Alzour by security forces who opened fire when worshippers emerged from Friday prayers, according to a resident reached by telephone. The city, an opposition stronghold near the Iraq border, has been under attack by Syrian forces for the past week.
"Directly after they came out of the mosques the security forces rushed toward the demonstrators and shot live ammunition at them," said the resident, who would identify himself only by his first name of Abdullah. Security forces had burned bakeries in the town since beginning their offensive a week ago, forcing civilians to roam wide distances in search of bread, the resident said. He said three people had been killed in Friday's violence in the town.
In Khan Sheikhon near the Turkish border, tanks and troops stormed the town at dawn, killing a pregnant woman, according to the Local Coordination Committees, a coalition of Syrian opposition groups. The group detailed other alleged deadly attacks on civilians Friday in the Damascus suburb of Saqba, where a man was reportedly shot and killed in a protest that followed dawn prayers, and in the cities of Aleppo, Hama, Homs and elsewhere.
In Aleppo, the second-largest city and a center of support for Syrian President Bashar Assad, protesters and security forces clashed. Video posted on the Internet showed young men running through a poor district as bursts of gunfire sounded.
Friday's biggest protests appeared to have been in the Damascus suburbs and in the coastal city of Latakia, where thousands of protesters unfurled a huge Syrian flag.
Fridays have been the main day of protests throughout the Arab revolutions. Friday's demonstrations posed a test for Assad following increasingly tough warnings from the international community. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday that she was pushing other countries, particularly China and India, to join in before the United States would call for Assad to step down.
Turkey, Syria's more powerful and wealthier neighbor, was likely to regard the violence, especially that along its border, as an affront.
Turkey's foreign minister traveled to Damascus this week to press Assad to stop attacks, and Turkish officials had said their government would be closely watching Syria's actions in coming days. Turkey's diplomatic move ''would actually qualify as an ultimatum ... for Assad to reexamine his stance and his policy," Sinan Ulgen, an analyst and former Turkish diplomat, said by telephone Friday.
Turkey's Zaman newspaper reported that the Turkish military, apparently alarmed by the Syrian raids near the Turkish border, had called up recently retired officers and sent many to provinces along the frontier with Syria.
The border area has been the scene of repeated offensives that Turkey says have pushed more than 7,000 Syrians into refugee camps just inside Turkey. Syrian forces stormed the town of Saraqbe near the border on Thursday, and killed 11 people in a raid on a western town near Lebanon.
Syria's military is blocking roads leading to Turkey, preventing new refugee flows, Omar Miqdad, a Syrian activist who has fled to Turkey, said by telephone.
Kto Kogo -- And Let's Not Put It to A Vote At The U.N.
The world population will rise to about 9 billion at mid-century, and then, because of global climate disruption, that population is likely to fall precipitously, to perhaps one billion, by the end of the century. Perhaps that figure is off.. Perhaps 1.5 billion or even 2 billion, will survive. This still leaves the obvious question. It's a question that kind and good people can't abide, in both senses, and also must not abide, in the arnoldian sense ("Others abide our question" etc.) because there isn't time. So who's going to inherit the earth? Who do you want to inherit the earth? If you vote for "the meek" that's not silly, for the advanced Western democracies have proven themselves to be latter-day saints, just about as meek as they come. But perhaps relying on the biblical forecast won't, under the circumstances, quite do. Perhaps the West mustn't rest on its turn-the-other-cheek laurels.( Nous n'irons plus au bois, les lauriers sont coupés.) Perhaps the century of sauve-qui-peut has arrived, and many, at this point mentally unprepared, must now start to prepare themselves for that different world a-borning.
With a vote on statehood about to come before the United Nations' General Assembly in September, it is incumbent on those who will consider this proposal to examine several facts. A recent report by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik makes the following points:
The Palestinian Authority [PA] pays monthly salaries to 5,500 prisoners in Israeli prisons, many of them known terrorists;
The P.A. honors terrorists who have killed civilians, presenting them as heroes and role models;
The P.A. glorifies terror attacks as heroic, including suicide bombings;
Funding for these salaries and activities comes from the general budget to which the U.S. contributes;
U.S. law prohibits funding of any person who engages or engaged in terrorist activity.
At the moment Hamas and Fatah terrorist prisoners are receiving monthly checks, a total of almost 18 million shekels ($5 million) monthly. It pays to be a terrorist: these monthly stipends are more than the average salary for a P.A. civil servant or military officer.
While this practice is going on, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that an additional grant to the P.A. will be made, bringing the U.S. direct budget assistance to a total of $225 million annually. Of course, neither the American public, nor most members of Congress are aware that a substantial portion of this foreign aid goes to support terrorists. Possibly Secretary Clinton may not know that a P.A. sponsored summer camp for children is divided into three groups named after the terrorists Dalal Mughrabi, Salah Khalaf and Abu Ali Mustafa, each of whom planned and executed murders against civilians. Possibly Secretary of State may not know that Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, a man whom she described as a "moderate," routinely honors terrorist bombers on his radio broadcasts.
That these practices go on with U.S. subventions is an outrage. The P.A. is in direct violation of our laws; and all salaries to imprisoned terrorists and money that honors terrorists should cease immediately. But there is also another lesson in these revelations. Despite all of the rhetorical pabulum from the Obama administration, terrorism is the prescribed way of doing business in the P.A. The creation of a Palestinian state is therefore the creation of a terrorist state with one goal:, according to both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas Charters: The destruction of Israel.
Despite all of the gamesmanship at the U.N., despite President Obama's assurance about adjoining states living in peace, the P.A. and its Hamas partner cannot and will not repudiate their goal of destruction, and they cannot and will not recognize the legitimacy of the Jewish state, lest they be called ":traitors" by their Arab neighbors. General Assembly members may be convinced that a newly created Arab state can live in peace with its Israeli neighbor; after all, petrodollars are very alluring, But the evidence that a narrative of violence is encouraged, even funded -- and by the USA and Europe - militates against a peaceful scenario.
The time has come -- and is overdue -- for the United States to tell the truth about the West Bank and Gaza. We may not persuade Security Council members that this entire P.A. statehood enterprise will not result in peace for anyone; but at least we can state the American position clearly and unequivocally. As long as terrorism prevails, as long as it is officially cultivated by government authorities, there will not be, there cannot be, a Palestinian nation that brings peace to the region. If a day comes when Israel lays down its arms, destruction will follow; but if there is a day when the Palestinians repudiate terrorism, peace will follow. The alternatives are clear. The question, of course, is whether anyone cares.
Herbert London is President Emeritus of Hudson Institute and Professor Emeritus of New York University. He is the author, most recently, of Decline and Revival in Higher Education (Transaction, 2010). London maintains a website, www.herblondon.org.
Hillary Clinton Still Fixated On That Non-Existent "Right Side Of History"
Clinton Urges Syria’s Allies to Get on ‘Right Side of History’
By David Lerman - Aug 12, 2011
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today urged nations doing business with Syria to “get on the right side of history” by cutting off trade and arms sales to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
Citing a “crescendo of condemnation” against Assad’s repression and violence, Clinton used an appearance with reporters at the State Department to make a public appeal for increasing the international pressure building against the Syrian government.
“We urge those countries still buying Syrian oil and gas, those countries still sending Assad weapons, those countries whose political and economic support give him comfort in his brutality, to get on the right side of history,” Clinton said.
Syria, whose oil production is declining, produces about 386,000 barrels of crude a day and has the ninth-largest oil reserves in the Middle East, according to data from BP Plc.
“We are consulting closely with partners around the world and we expect to see action,” she added later.
While she declined to name any specific countries doing business with Syria during the brief press conference, she singled out China, India and Russia in an interview yesterday with CBS News.
Chinese Energy Investment
“We want to see China take steps with us,” Clinton told CBS, according to a transcript of the interview. “We want to see India, because India and China have large energy investments inside of Syria. We want to see Russia cease selling arms to the Assad regime.”
More than 2,000 Syrian protesters have been killed since the revolt against the Assad government began in March, following the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt that became known as the Arab Spring. Syrian security forces have detained more than 30,000 people, with some in cages, State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland said yesterday.
While U.S. officials have declined to call for Assad to step down, they have said repeatedly that the Syrian leader has “lost legitimacy” and the country would be better off without him.
“We are trying and succeeding at putting together an international effort so there will be no temptation on the part of anyone inside the Assad regime to claim that it’s only the United States, or maybe that it’s only the West,” Clinton said today. “Indeed, it’s the entire world. We’re making the case to our international partners to intensify the financial and political pressure to get the Syrian government to cease its brutality against its own citizens.”
She said the U.S. is reaching out to political opponents of Assad “inside and outside of Syria to encourage them to create a unified vision of what an inclusive, participatory, democratic system in Syria could look like.”
Pointing to the recent United Nations statement against the Syria regime and condemnations from the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council, Clinton said, “There’s a lot of work going on and I think that work is paying off.”
Syria’s economic growth is forecast to slow to 3 percent this year from 3.2 percent in 2010, the International Monetary Fund said in April, while the Institute of International Finance estimates the economy may contract 3 percent in 2011.
The "right side of history" can also be found here,
One Simply Can't Get Enough Of Getting On The Right Side Of History
Sunday, 6 February 2011
Why Not Study History Before "Getting On The Right Side Of History"?
"This is a good man [Harry Reid] who has always been onthe right side of history," Obama said in a television interview Monday..."
And this phrase, part of the political floating world, with the breathless reporting on the events in Egypt, presented as a Morality Play with the Egyptian rulers collectively playing the Devil, has in the last week turned up in every other story, and in follow-the-leader speeches too. By their unthinking use of the suddenly fashionable phrase shall ye know them.
"It is hardly the first time the Obama administration has seemed uncertain on its feet during the Egyptian crisis, as it struggles to stay on the right side of history and to avoid accelerating a revolution that could spin out of control." -- David Sanger in the NY Times, Feb. 5, 2011 ("As Mubarak Digs In, U.S. Policy In Egypt Is Complicated")
"The "Arab Spring" is as important as the fall of communism two decades ago. Then America was on the right side of history; now, it's not so clear. But in the Middle East, it's still not too late to get on it. For the past three decades, political inertia has gotten the better of diplomatic creativity in the Middle East. Washington has backed a host of autocrats in the name of stability. Successively corrupt regimes have presided over nothing but overpopulation, economic stagnation, and literally cutthroat politics. Never has a set of dominoes so deserved to fall." -- Parag Khanna, in FP, "Getting On The Right Side of History"
I could add, and so could you, another ten or hundred thousand examples. But why bother? We get the picture.
Marxism may not, in practice, have quite worked out, but there are other forms of historical determinism ready to take its place, and the phrase "getting on the right side of history" encapsulates that view, one which connects to all kinds of doubtful desiderata, including sullen acceptance of the notion that Diversity is Always And Everywhere Good For You, that Equality (especially in anything to do with intelligence and its cultivation) is, every day, in every way, the highest of goals, the most important of duties. And Western man has this message, this updated coute-que-coute Couéism, coo-cooed to Western babies in the cradle by with-it parents dutifully following their politicized Dr. Spock, before those children, now a little older, go off to school for further indoctrination by their teachers and their textbooks.
One could stand it, just, if only there were some sign that those who use that phrase "getting on the right side of history" had themselves studied history, and thought such study was important for others too. But instead, it's such people as Nicholas Kristof and Tom Friedman, of that dismal ill-schooled ilk, who dare to use the word "history" as they tell us that we must get with the program, get with what's happening baby, jump on the juggernaut before it passes you by, and get on, please do, now, before it's too late, just get on "the right side of history."
Now comes Hillary Clinton, in an interview given to Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, in which the phrase itself is not used, but the same sentiments are expressed -- that there is something called history or History, and that it rolls relentlessly on, a veritable Juggernaut, and we'd all just better get aboard, for any attempt to try to stop it, or direct it in one direction or another, is bound to fail. And HIllary Clinton attacks the Chinese -- whose government appears to be running circles around the American government, and not only in its economic policies -- not for being oppressive and cruel, but for trying to do what good regimes, too, must never do -- which is to try to challenge, to defy, to "stop history." And history, Hillary Clinton knows, cannot be stopped.
All aboard! while there's still time. Don't be silly like the Chinese. Be like those people in Washington who want us to jump on, to get on the ride side of history.
From the Spectator:
Hillary Clinton: Chinese regime can't defy history
Hillary Clinton has given a fascinating interview to the Atlantic Monthly’s Jeffrey Goldberg. The main topic of it is the Arab spring but it is her comments about China that are making waves.
When Goldberg comments that the Chinese have been scared by the sight of dictatorships toppling across the Middle East, Clinton replies:“They're worried, and they are trying to stop history, which is a fool's errand. They cannot do it. But they're going to hold it off as long as possible. “
As Goldberg says, it is quite remarkable to hear the US Secretary of State say so frankly that the Communist dictatorship in China will collapse at some point. The question now is how will Beijing, which is notoriously sensitive about this kind of thing, respond and whether Clinton’s remarks mark a new tack in the Obama’s administration’s approach to China.
So history, or rather History, marches on, a juggernaut, and those who try -- the government of China, say -- to stop it, are on a "fool's errand." In the view of Hillary Clinton, there is no stopping history by mere mortals. It has its own laws, its own momentum and relentlessness. You can't stop it.
You just "have to get on the right side of history."
And even more about the "right side of history" can also be foundhere,
Alex Alexeiev On Muslims And The Future Of European Cities
Large European Cities Overwhelmed by Muslim Population
August 12, 2011
Muslims attend the morning prayer during the religious festival Eid-al-Fitr. Photo by BGNES
Muslim population in many big European cities already exceeds 20%, according to Alex Alexiev, an expert in international security and radical Islam and visiting fellow at the Hudson Institute, Washington, D.C.
In his words, however, what is especially worrying is that these Muslims are getting radicalized.
The expert reckons that almost all Western European countries are marked by a high degree of radicalization.
"Unlike our Muslims from the Balkan Peninsula, they are much more prone to radicalization because the religious organs in Western Europe, the Muslim religious organs, are controlled and commanded by radical Islamists, subsidized/financed by Saudi Arabia and other places, and preach the ideologies of the Muslim Brotherhood and etc", Alexiev explains in an interview for the Focus news agency.
According to him, it seems to escape public notice that almost all Muslims in Western Europe are people residing in big cities.
"Muslims in rural areas and small towns are hard to find. If we take the city of Marseille as an example, the Muslim population there exceeds 30%, the share of the young generation below 20 years of age is already above 50%, meaning that Marseille is on its way to become an exclusively Muslim city. The same applies to Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Malmö, and Antwerp", the expert says.
He also notes that there is a region in the very heart of London where the Muslim population below 20 years of age constitutes a majority and where radical elements are quick to creep in.
According to Alexiev, the unrest in London in the past few days involved people of Caribbean origin, African-Americans, etc, as well as many people with big beards and no moustaches, which is typical of Islamists - they keep their beards but cut their moustaches short.
"These things are not accidental", he concludes, stressing that this community to a large extent fails to recognize European culture, is unwilling to integrate and poses a huge threat for the future.
"Palestinian" Arabs Have Always Lived On The Dole And See No Reason To Stop Now
Palestinian Authority has cash crunch amid statehood drive
Palestinian banks, which lent the authority about $200 million to cover shortfalls, have stopped making new loans. Donations from the Arab world have plummeted. [presumably the rich Arabs don't want the West to even think of counting on relieving the West from its "duty" to supply tens of billions to the "Palestinians"]
By Maher Abukhater, Los Angeles Times
August 13, 2011
Reporting from Ramallah, West Bank—
A year ago, Palestinian Authority employee Fida Jiryis took out a $100,000 mortgage to purchase an apartment in Ramallah, one of thousands of first-time Palestinian home buyers to benefit from a recent push to improve the West Bank economy in preparation for eventual statehood.
But several weeks ago, the 36-year-old copy editor sold her property in a panic when the Palestinian Authority cut June salaries by half and warned that it would be unable to meet July's payroll at all. Though the authority eventually paid full July salaries after workers threatened a general strike, officials say future paychecks remain at risk.
"I became very insecure," said Jiryis, who, luckily, broke even on the sale. "I quickly put my apartment up for sale because I can't count on my salary arriving on time, or even at all."
After earning international praise over the last two years for its financial reforms, the Palestinian Authority is facing its worst cash crunch in years, just as it hopes to prove to the United Nations that it deserves recognition as an independent state.
Palestinian banks, which lent the authority about $200 million to cover shortfalls, have stopped making new loans. Donations from the Arab world have plummeted in recent months.
To conserve cash, the authority, which is facing a $35-million monthly shortfall, said it will have to slash yet-unspecified expenditures and services.
In response to possible salary cuts, anxious public employees, including 80,000 security personnel, are threatening to walk off the job if not paid. Banks that once rushed to make home loans to authority employees have begun rejecting applications from government workers as too risky.
Polls show that Palestinians are now more concerned about jobs and the economy than they are about peace talks with Israel.
"Due to the continuing severity of the financial situation, paying the full [July] salary will restrict the Palestinian Authority's ability to meet other needs for the coming months," Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said during a recent news briefing. For Fayyad, a former World Bank official who has been praised for reforming Palestinian institutions, the crisis presents the biggest threat yet to his reputation in the West as a financial expert.
The cash crunch is a reminder of the authority's heavy reliance on foreign aid, which accounts for about half of its more than $2-billion annual budget.
This year, the authority has received about $331 million from donor countries, compared with about $500 million at the same point last year.
Aid from Arab nations was above $500 million in both 2008 and 2009, but dropped to half that level last year. So far this year, it has dropped to about $79 million. Fayyad says the failure of these countries to live up to their pledges has spurred the crisis.
Arab governments have given no reason for the decline, but with the "Arab Spring" spreading through the region, countries such as Saudi Arabia have increased their funding of nations such as Jordan and Bahrain to help keep their rulers in power.
Saudi Arabia recently donated $30 million to the Palestinian Authority, but Fayyad says he needs 10 times that amount to help the authority stay afloat.
Meanwhile, some lawmakers in the United States, which donates about $200 million a year in direct budget support to the Palestinian Authority, are threatening to cut off financial assistance if the authority proceeds with plans to create a unity government with Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, or seek formal statehood recognition from the U.N. in September. The U.S. considers Hamas to be a terrorist organization, and the Obama administration has said that the Palestinian initiative at the U.N. threatens to undercut direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.
Palestinian economist Nasr Abdul Karim criticized the authority for failing to better manage its finances and live within its budget. "The government's overspending since its inception and the heavy reliance on foreign aid without taking into consideration the conditions around us have led to the situation we are in now," he said.
He warned that public discontent with the Palestinian Authority over its financial situation might weaken its argument that it is ready to function as a state. But he said the West Bank's economy would never thrive as long as the Israeli occupation continues to hinder free development and trade.
"The economy will continue to suffer as long as the political situation is not resolved … no matter what we do," Karim said.
"Rape, mutilation: Pakistan's tribal justice for women"
A surprisingly clear-eyed piece on the precarious state of women in Islamic Pakistan, by Rebecca Conway for Reuters:
MULTAN, Pakistan (Reuters) - On April 14, two men entered Asma Firdous' home, cut off six of her fingers, slashed her arms and lips and then sliced off her nose. Before leaving the house, the men locked their 28-year-old victim inside.
Asma, from impoverished Kohaur Junobi village in Pakistan's south, was mutilated because her husband was involved in a dispute with his relatives, and they wanted revenge.
Her fate is familiar in parts of Pakistan's remote and feudal agricultural belts, where women are often used as bargaining chips in family feuds, and where the level of violence they face is increasing in frequency and brutality.
At the hospital in nearby Multan town, Asma's shocked parents sat quietly by her bedside and struggled to explain what the future holds for their now disfigured daughter.
"I don't know what will happen to her when she leaves here," Asma's father, Ghulam Mustafa, said, in a dilapidated ward heavy with the smell of antiseptic and blood, where other women, doused with acid or kerosene by relatives or fellow villagers, awaiting an equally uncertain future.
Asked if Asma will return to her husband, her father remains silent.
Pakistan is the world's third-most dangerous country for women, after Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, based on a survey conducted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
In its 2010 report, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan says almost 800 women were victims of "honor killings" -- murders aimed at preserving the honor of male relatives -- and 2,900 women reported raped -- almost eight a day.
The bulk, or almost 2,600, were raped in Punjab alone, Pakistan's most populous province.
And the numbers are rising: media reports say crimes against women have risen 18 percent in the year to May and the human rights commission believes its figures represent only a fraction of the attacks which take place across the country.
Dr. Farzana Bari, director of Gender Studies at Quaid-e-Azam University, says Pakistan's patriarchal [erratum: Islamic] society often condones discrimination against women, which is more prevalent among poor and uneducated rural families.
That [Islamic] mindset can often influence the police and judiciary, which sometimes turn a blind eye to honor killings or rapes carried out to "punish" women.
"I think honor killings are a symptom of vigilante justice," she said. "And vigilante justice occurs in an environment where the state is unable to enforce its writ."
Of course it's not vigilante justice, it is sharia justice, and it is fully compatible with the Islamic view of women as chattel.
In rural areas, women are often shut out of the justice system, which is compromised by powerful landowners and feudal lords who dominate a hierarchy that makes it difficult -- and deadly -- for those with little education or social standing to speak out.
Families or tribes then often take justice in their own hands, presiding over "jirgas" or "panchayats" -- gatherings of elders that hand down punishments that include rape, killing or barter of women for crimes that include falling in love with a man deemed inappropriate or besmirching family honor.
Some women are maimed just to settle scores.
Members of the panchayat systems say the tradition is hard to shake because it is entrenched in the local culture and also because it is much more efficient than the regular courts.
"In the settled areas there are courts but people can't always get justice or compensation," said lawyer and tribal elder Karim Masoud, who presides over both panchayat settlements and the mainstream court system.
"With the jirgas, they can get compensation, and it takes less time to settle a dispute. It's fairer and people don't have to use bribes to get justice."
Those always seem to be the two choices in Dar al-Islam: corrupt secular governance, or fair and quick Islamic justice. We're supposed to understand: "Of course they prefer sharia! Who wouldn't?"
Zarmuhamad Afridi, who also attends jirga rulings in Pakistan's northern tribal belt and works within the mainstream court system, said the jirga system survives because in many parts of Pakistan, a man's honor is intrinsically linked to how his wife or daughter behave.
"If a couple is not married and they are having a relationship, a jirga may rule that the woman should be shot," Afridi said. "That is okay for many, because they have to protect family honor."
The slightest transgression by a woman -- being seen talking to a man on the street, perhaps, or having an unknown phone number in a mobile -- can bring harsh punishment and social ostracism of the family, he says, making the quick, harsh judgment of the panchayats popular.
"Women are cherished here," he said. "Men protect them. If a woman is out of her house then what is she doing? That is what people think here."
Oh, they love women to death in Pakistan.
Many women are unable to speak out because they lack the support and education to understand their rights, activists say.
It's not that women don't know they have rights; women in Islamic nations know very well that they don't have rights. The answer is not to "educate" women on how many rights they have. The answer is to eradicate Islamic misogyny and oppression.
But even those who dare often get nowhere.
The most high profile instance of a violent ruling by a tribal court against a woman is that of the gang rape of Mukhtaran Mai, which took place near Multan in 2002.
Mai was allegedly attacked to settle a matter of village honor, as decided by a panchayat. She was then paraded naked through her village.
Unlike most rape victims, who face stark recriminations for speaking out, and who are sometimes even expected to commit suicide, she filed a criminal case against 14 men.
Six men were convicted and sentenced to death that year, but in 2005 the Lahore High Court commuted one sentence to life in prison and acquitted the rest.
Pakistan's Supreme Court upheld that decision in April this year, in what rights activists said was a crushing blow to women's and minority rights in Pakistan.
The men were released days later. Mai said she is afraid they will return and kill her.
Ali Dayan Hasan, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch's South Asia division, said the lack of justice for women in cases like such as Mai's is "a structural failing of the criminal justice system".
"The verdict also lays bare the misogyny of Pakistan's judicial system because it is a judiciary that is instinctively unsympathetic to women."
Santa Clara mosque showcases new 64-foot tall minaret
A fawning, "Isn't it simply marvelous?!" paean to Islamic monuments of conquest. By Lisa Fernandez for San Jose Mercury News:
As is their annual Ramadan tradition, Muslims at the Bay Area's largest mosque will welcome friends and strangers to an open house Saturday evening. But this year, they'll be showcasing a new minaret -- the architectural equivalent to a Christian cross or Jewish Star of David.
The minaret (a word related to the Arabic word for lighthouse) stands 64 feet tall, and can be spotted along U.S. Highway 101 or in the light industrial neighborhood of Scott Boulevard. Made with all American steel, the symbolic touches include Islamic-style stars, a rounded top and lights to be shined at night.
"It feels good," said Mohammed Sarodi, chairman of the board of trustees of the Muslim Community Association. "Before, this mosque just looked like an office building, like HP. Now, this looks like the mosques back home."
Of course, by "home" he doesn't mean the country in which he has been living for who knows how many years. No, "home" means Dar al-Islam. It feels good when this place, the U.S., has been transformed to look more like ..."home".
About 400 guests are expected to tour the new 9,400-square-foot addition to the MCA in Santa Clara, including school board members from Mountain View and San Jose, council members from Santa Clara, Cupertino and Los Altos, and members of the marketing team from the San Jose Tech Museum.
Designed by architect Amin Qazi, the minaret is the highlight of an overall $3 million expansion of the now-92,500-square-foot building painted in the various shades of desert sand. The new entrances, foyer, bookstore and the modern, spalike absolution room for washing feet before prayer, complete the final construction phase of the mosque.
Mosque leaders are pleased that now, at least, their traditionally nondescript, one-story complex in a neighborhood of office parks and warehouses will stand out to their brothers and sisters as an easy-to-find landmark for Muslim worship. On a typical Friday, the mosque is visited by up to 4,000 worshipers, coming in three shifts to mark the holy afternoon prayer.
Unlike most new church or synagogue decorative construction projects, this minaret, and others across the globe, have been magnets for various shades of controversy.
MCA's minaret, standing gracefully on property that members bought for $3.5 million from Hewlett-Packard in 1993, wasn't a huge target of attack. But it did make headlines last summer when Thomas Scott, whose office window at Cambridge Management across the street, complained to the city that the addition of the minaret was architectural "piecemeal."
Another person railed against "Islamic domination" and "Muslims taking over America."
But in a letter to this newspaper last year, Scott wrote he did not identify with the people who feared the minaret would house religious leaders loudly calling out "Allahu akbar" from the heights of the structure (they will not, it's a decorative minaret only) and called some of the naysayers "nutcakes."
Can't argue with well-reasoned arguments like that.
Scott did not return a phone call to see what he thinks of the minaret now.
About a year ago, a new mosque and minaret for the Anjuman-e-Jamali community in Palo Alto was approved without any controversy.
But announcements of the new Silicon Valley minarets came at a time when the nation was recently embroiled in a discussion over whether to build a Muslim community center just blocks from the World Trade Center towers destroyed by Islamist terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001. That project, still in limbo, drew major criticism from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and the Anti-Defamation League, the nation's most prominent Jewish civil rights group. Two years ago, the Swiss voted to ban the construction of new minarets.
But thankfully, Sarodi said, the overall reaction in Santa Clara has been wonderful and warm. Sarodi said MCA is good for Santa Clara, too.
"Santa Clara is a lovely place," Sarodi said. "A lot of Muslims have moved here because of our mosque."