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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, 13, 2013.
Wednesday, 13 February 2013
How Mossad Took Down Hezbollah Terrorist Mastermind Imad Mughniyah


Imad Mughniyah funeral in Beirut                                          Imad Mughniyah Interpol Warrant Picture

February 14, 2008                                                                      Source: Getty Images

Source: Bloomberg News                                                                                                         

A hat tip to Jon B.

February 12th marked the fifth anniversary of the assassination of Hezbollah terrorist mastermind, Imad Mughniyah.  Until 9/11 Mughniyah was the most-wanted terrorist by both the FBI and Interpol for a spectacular series of exploits that killed hundreds, if not thousands of American servicemen, Israelis, Argentine and Panamanian Jews across the Middle East, Europe and Latin America.  Mughniyah’s terrorist exploits surpassed even those of Carlos the Jackal.  In our 2011 NER report on the aftermath of 9/11 Islamic terrorism we noted:

The presence of Imad Mughniyah, the Hizbullah terror chieftain, assassinated in Damascus in 2008, allegedly by Israel’s Mossad. Mughniyah was involved in the 9/11 planning. Until 9/11 Mughniyah was at the top of the FBI’s Most Wanted terrorist list for his involvement in the planning of the 1983 Marine and French paratrooper barracks and US Embassy attacks in Beirut that killed over 350. Then there was the killing of a US navy diver Robert Stethem in a 1985 skyjacking of a TWA flight, kidnapping of several westerners in Beirut and the torture and murder of CIA station chief, William Buckley.

Israel had its own reasons to take out Mughniyah. He was the organizer of the 1992 Buenos Aries Israeli Embassy bombing that killed 29 injuring more than 242 persons and the bombing in 1994 of the AMIA Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 injuring hundreds.  Then there were the “Khobar Towers suicide bombing in Saudi Arabia in 1996 (19 killed); the U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 (223 killed); the 2000 suicide attack on the USS Cole in Aden, Yemen (17 killed).”

Mughniyah figured prominently in the trial record  of the  2011 Iran Links case decision in the Southern District Court of Manhattan as the key figure who facilitated transit between Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Iran for the so-called Hamburg cell of 9/11 perpetrators. Both the CIA and Mossad had compelling motivation to assassinate Mughniyeh. The informed opinion was that it was Mossad who may have accomplished it.

On the Fifth anniversary of Mughniyah’s assassination Erol Araf published an article in Canada’s National Post, "Death of a master terrorist: How the ‘Iranian Jackal’ was killed", revealing how Mossad, Israel’s Secret Intelligence service,  was able to buy critical intelligence, infiltrate a hit team and ultimately kill the Hezbollah terrorist mastermind   A bomb in a  head rest was triggered as he stepped into his Mitsubishi Pajero upon leaving the Iranian Cultural Center in Damascus. He had been attending   the 33rd   commemoration of the overthrow of the late Shah’s reign  in Tehran by Revolutionary Guards founding the Islamic Regime led by Ayatollah Khomenei and supported by the Carter Administration.

 Mughniyah’s legacy remains.  Late in January 2013, Argentina concluded an agreement with the Islamic  Republic in Iran for a South African type truth commission to reveal his and Iranian Revolutionary Guards controller and present day Defense minister Ahmad Vahidi, wanted under an Interpol warrant for the 1992 Israeli Embassy and 1994 AMIA Jewish Community Center blasts in Buenos Aires. Argentine Jews and Israel objected to the deal negotiated by the morally bankrupt regime of President Kristina Fernandez de Kirchner.  Further, we have the recent revelations of the Hezbollah - Qods Force role in perpetrating the July 18, 2012 suicide bombing of a tourist bus in Burgas, Bulgaria (Operation Radwan)-named after Mughniyah)  killing 5 Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver injuring dozens.  July 18th was the date of the 1994 AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires.  In a February 13, 2012 Iconoclast post, we speculated that the multiple bombings by Iran’s Qods Force against Israeli embassies in New Delhi, Bangkok and Tbilisi, might have been in revenge for Mughniyah’s alleged assassination by  Mossad.

Araf’s National Post article revealed  how Mossad accomplished Mughniyah’s assassination.

On the spy network that Mossad used to  buy intelligence with which to track Mughniyah:

Despite his prolific terrorism career and the keen interest in the West, it was not until June, 2007, that Mossad caught a break. The lead came from his birthplace, Tayr Dibba, a small town in south Lebanon, some 15 miles from Israel. It came from one of the operatives of the Ali al-Jarrah network, operated by Mossad. Al-Jarrah himself had been recruited while serving time in an Israeli prison, and his cousin Ziad Jarrah was the hijacker pilot of United Airlines Flight 93. His terrorist credentials were impeccable, which made him the perfect Israeli agent. Ali and his brother Yusuf photographed Hezbollah supply routes and travelled extensively in the region, collecting information on Hezbollah activities in south Lebanon. All of this information he passed back to Israel, collecting perhaps as much as $500,000 for his services.

It was money well spent. A member of al- Jarrah’s network lived in the same village as some of Mughniyah’s family. The informer reported that the terrorist had been moving around major European cities to avoid detection, and that he had changed his appearance. He also had apparently been sending his family occasional postcards from the cities he was hiding in. It wasn’t much to go on, but Israel still sent in a special unit of undercover agents. Blending in with the locals, they worked to verify the intelligence and tap the phones of Mughniyah’s friends and relatives. Israel also began scrutinizing surgical clinics where Mughniyah might have gone to have his appearance altered.

[. . .]

When East Germany collapsed, many of its spies packed up whatever sensitive documents they could obtain and then vanished. They used the sensitive information contained in their stolen files to sustain a comfortable living for themselves even long after the end of the Cold War. Israel set about locating them and offering generous payments to anyone with useful information. Before long, a former Stasi agent reached out to a Mossad agent in Berlin: He had the Stasi file on Mughniyah, and it was available for a price. The meeting between Mossad representatives and the ex-Stasi spy took place at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin. A large file containing Mugniyah’s latest photographs was exchanged for a brief case containing $250,000. Le Carré would have approved.

The Syrian computer theft that revealed Mughniyah’s vulnerability:

As recounted by David Markovsky in his article “The Silent Strike,” published last fall in The New Yorker, in 2007, Israeli agents infiltrated the home of Ibrahim Othman, head of the Syrian Atomic Energy Commission. Once inside, they bugged his computer. While Israel had been looking for information about the Syrian nuclear weapons program (and indeed, in September of 2007, bombed a nascent nuclear reactor inside Syria), access to this computer allowed Israel to compromise other computers inside the supposedly secure networks of Syria’s rulers. Among the information obtained through this operation were details of weapons transfers from Syria to Mughniyah.

These Syrian files, the ex-Stasi documents and the intelligence trickling in from Mossad’s spies in Lebanon began to provide a detailed picture of Mughniyah’s recent locations and activities. Israel was getting closer, and in January of 2008 made a breakthrough — it developed intelligence indicating that Mughniyah was having an affair with a woman in Damascus, and would often spend time with her inside a luxury condo in the Syrian capital. The condo, owned by a cousin of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, was put under surveillance. It is believed that Mossad was able to get photos of Mughniyah as he came and went from this condo, and that they matched the Stasi files.

The final takedown looked like a scenario out a Daniel Silva Mossad   thriller series with fictional character, art restorer and hit team leader, Gabriel Allon:

A team would be prepared, safe houses established and communications arranged. It’s believed that a squad consisting of four members was assigned to the operation. One member was charged with tracking the target while remaining in constant communication with command and the safe houses. Another member was responsible for arranging transportation and logistics inside Damascus. The third member was tasked with “cover” — monitoring potential and emerging threats to the operation and, if necessary, creating a diversion. The last member was the executioner.

Out of the safe houses, agents monitored the Iranian Cultural Centre and every place Mughniyah was believed likely to visit. The Damascus safe house had a large garage for wiring vehicles with remotely controlled explosives and altering their appearance, as well as installing mobile command, control and communication equipment. Fake IDs, changes of clothes and plenty of weapons were stashed there, as well, in case anything went wrong. Days before the assassination, Mossad obtained priority access to a recently launched Israeli satellite. State of the art, it was capable of feeding the strike team real-time intelligence 24 hours a day.

The strike team took up positions outside the Iranian Cultural Centre in Damascus, waiting for Mughniyah. At the same time, a few rented vehicles with remote controlled explosives placed inside headrests were parked, at intervals, along the street. Guests began to arrive at 7:30 p.m., with the Iranian ambassador himself arriving at 8. At 9 p.m., a silver Mitsubishi Pajero turned into the street and parked close to where two strike team members were waiting. For a moment the driver and his passenger sat checking the street. Then the passenger door opened and Imad Mughniyah emerged. He wore a dark suit and his beard had been neatly trimmed. He started to walk up the street, passing one of the cars the Israelis had planted there. It exploded, beheading Mughniyah.

By the time the bomb went off, most of the Israeli agents had already packed up and left. Their mission was accomplished. They shut down the safe houses, removed any incriminating evidence, and calmly left the country under false IDs, escaping before there was any reason for Syria to suspect their presence. The two agents who had been on the street with Mughniyah when the bomb exploded had a harder time getting out — with Syrian security on high alert, especially at the airports, the agents are reported to have crossed into Lebanon and then sailed out into the Mediterranean in inflatable boats, to be rescued by an Israeli submarine hiding beneath the waves.

Imad Mughniyah’s assassination by Mossad triggered revenge terrorist bombings by Hezbollah and Iran’s Qods Force.  However, the most  duplicitous element of his legacy was the ironic perpetration of the Argentine Iran truth commission deal by Hector Timerman, the Argentine leftist Foreign Minister and son of human rights  jorunalist and hero, Jacobo Timerman who betrayed the sanctuary given him by Israel.  As Isi Liebler wrote in a recent Jerusalem Post op ed:

As foreign minister, Timerman presents himself as a devoted supporter of human rights. Yet he played a central role on behalf of the Argentinean regime in sanitizing the Iranian murderer of his own people. Orchestrating such a pact with one of the world’s worst abusers of human rights makes a mockery of his moral pretensions.

He also clearly relishes attacking Israel, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the Jewish state was responsible for saving his father’s life. Only last month, he compared the UK’s control of the Falkland Islands, which Argentina claims, to Israel’s “colonial” control of the West Bank.

It is nauseating to see such despicable behavior by the Argentinean government being implemented by a politically far-left Jewish scoundrel.

Nevertheless, Mughniyah’s assassination by Mossad, to use the Irish expression “tis a benefit”.

Posted on 02/13/2013 6:20 AM by Jerry Gordon
Wednesday, 13 February 2013
Free Speech a Principle, Not an Instrument

One of the biggest challenges facing modern democracies is how to deal with anti-democratic movements that use the institutions of civil society to advance their cause. People responsible for governing these institutions find themselves in a bind when confronted with pro-totalitarian activists.

On one hand, denying apologists for totalitarianism the chance to address the public square invites the charge of totalitarian censorship. On the other hand, history has shown that the people who scream the loudest about liberty and free speech have no intention of respecting the rights of others. Their goal is not to use the rights of free speech and academic freedom to promote the cause of liberty, but to undermine it.

This scenario played itself out at Brooklyn College in New York City, where anti-Israel activists successfully invoked the right of academic freedom to hold a BDS conference in the face of criticism from students at the university and from members of the New York City Council.

The invocation of these principles by the conference organizers is ironic. One of the main speakers at the forum was Judith Butler, who has spoken in defense of Hamas and Hezbollah – two groups that are clearly committed to the destruction of the Jewish state – a democracy – and the creation of an Islamist totalitarian society in its place. So what we have here is an activist using her right to free speech defend two groups committed to creating a society in which this right does not exist.

When Mayor Michael Bloomberg got wind of the controversy regarding the Feb. 7 conference – which was sponsored by the school’s political science department – he came out swinging, invoking the principle of academic freedom and free speech.

“If you want to go to a university where the government decides what kind of subjects are fit for discussion, I suggest you apply to a school in North Korea,” he said.

Ironically enough, it appears that the activists whose rights Bloomberg defended went on to deprive others of their rights.

For example, the organizers of the forum expelled four Jews from the event after it began. The New York Daily News reported the following:

Senior Melanie Goldberg and three classmates were escorted out of the event, which featured the founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, by security officers shortly after it began.

“The whole point of having this debate was that it would be an open academic forum where I would be allowed to ask questions,” said Goldberg, who is studying journalism. “So I came prepared to ask questions.”

But when Goldberg took out her questions on handouts for the main speaker, BDS founder Omar Barghouti, she was asked by a member of Students for Justice in Palestine, which organized the event, to hand them over.

“Someone came to me and said, ‘Give me all your papers, or you’ll be forcibly removed from the event,’ ” she recalled. “Not only was it a violation of my freedom of speech, but they made sure to silence me.”

The story includes another troubling detail: “Members of media outlets — including a Daily News reporter who was wearing a yarmulke — were also removed from the event despite reserving places to cover the forum.”

This doesn’t look like an innocent coincidence.

Goldberg’s personal testimony, provides more troubling information. She reports that she was expelled from the event, in violation of her academic freedom, in full view of an official from Brooklyn University, who did not intervene.

Afterwards, a public relations officer for the school stated that the students were removed from the event because they were being disruptive. The New York Daily News reported the following:

“Based on official reports, they were being quite disruptive,” said college spokesman Jeremy Thompson. “They were asked to quiet down so they wouldn’t disturb the other attendees around them. After not complying, they were escorted from the building.”

Goldberg calls this account “a blatant lie.”

That’s a pretty strong denial, isn’t it?

Goldberg’s account is backed up by Ari Ziegler, a graduate student who was also kicked out of the event. In an op-ed in the New York Daily News, Ziegler writes:

We asked why we were being removed. College security’s response:

“We don’t have an answer.”

We asked for someone who could provide an explanation.

“We don’t have an answer for that, either.”

Within minutes, we found ourselves led down six flights of stairs and then outside the building.

Those are the facts, despite whatever else you might hear.

As far as I can tell, what happened is that a student who disagreed with my views called security and told them to remove me. The fact is that I was barred from asking questions in an open forum, from trying to understand an opposing viewpoint. (Italics added.)

The college has said that “based on official reports, they were being quite disruptive.” This is a complete fabrication.

The picture coming out of the Feb. 7 event at Brooklyn University is an ugly one in which known Israel supporters – and Jews – were ejected from a public forum about the sins of the Jewish state.

The school’s officials defended their decision to proceed with – and sponsor – the conference by invoking the principles of free speech and academic freedom, but then failed to ensure that these principles were adhered to at the event itself.

This is not OK.

If people want to attend – or work at – a university where students can be thrown out of an event in a manner that silences dissent, then maybe they should apply to school in North Korea.

First published in The Algemeiner.

Posted on 02/13/2013 10:09 AM by Dexter Van Zile
Wednesday, 13 February 2013
Illegal mosques financed by Saudis springing up near you

This is Macedonia. From MINA 

Macedonia may need to follow Switzerland and ban the building of new mosques in the country. If the Swiss can do it and be applauded by the rest of Europe why can't we? 

Mosques are springing up virtually over night, illegally, with no building permits of any kind and in almost every case, the mosques are financed by Saudi, Kuwaiti, Malaysian, Qatari or Lybian organizations, in many cases by these foreign governments.

Interesting to note is that this is not happening only in Macedonia, rather Bulgaria has been hit hard by this problem as well. According to Bulgarian newspapers, there were hundreds of new mosques built only in the last few years across Bulgaria. 

In Macedonia, astonishingly muslims are not needed for mosques. The latest example is the city of Shtip, where there are no people of muslim religion yet a mosque is being built. Shtip residents have joked that there must be a muslim individual in some village, therefore one mosque per muslim. Another mosque was built in Valandovo, where there aren't any muslims as well. As the case with the majority of the mosques, the above mentioned did not have a building permit. 

With the number of mosques being built, a foreign tourist is under the impression that he is entering a muslim country. Twice I have brought friends from US and Sweden, both asked me whether Macedonia is a muslim country! 

According to Zoran Mitevski, who was a former Deputy Director in the Counter Intelligence division, most of the mosques in Macedonia are financed directly by the Saudi Government. Mitevski took Bosnia as an example where the Saudis have financed an astonishing number of mosques just in the capital Saraevo, 140, including a mega mosque dedicated to their king Fahd. 

"The Saudis in the past 10 years have dedicated 1 billion euros for spreading their kind of Islam in the Balkans. 600 million euros were dedicated for building mosques, paying man to grow beards, women to wear burqas, scholarships and trips are offered to Saudi Arabia where the men are indoctrinated (read brain washed)." states Mitevski.

All you need to do to get couple of hundred thousand euros from the Saudi Government is to simply say "We need a mosque". It is no surprising at recent protests, local Albanian muslims have long beards, wave Saudi flags and chant Arab slogans! 

The Macedonian Government is not doing absolutely anything to prevent the illegal building of mosques in the country. Ironically, Albania which is half muslim and half catholic is preventing building of mosques and very carefully controls who "donates" money and to whom. 

Where can you see new mosques? The following is a list of illegally built mosques in Macedonia: link here.

Posted on 02/13/2013 11:46 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 13 February 2013
Sound Familiar?

It seems that the United States is not the only country with officials on the left who believe that they can continue their uncontrolled spending so long as they define their wealthy citizens’ “fair share” high enough.  Writing in the Times of India, columnist Lubna Kably, calls that “democratic theft.”  Her piece, “Don’t Punish High Earners,” is a response to Finance Minister P. Chidambaram’s suggestion of a higher tax burden on “high net worth individuals (HNIs).”  Suggestions like these in India are either trial balloons or more likely preludes to government dicta already in the works.

Kably reminds readers that India’s top one percent already carries a heavier personal tax burden, 63 percent, than their cohorts in other countries who pay 50 percent in the UK, 40 percent in the US, and only 22 percent in Canada. The arguments she advances against the higher tax, specifically that it will retard economic growth and actually harm the tax base should be familiar to Americans. To support them, she refers to a rather unlikely source: the tax administration authority for left-leaning Britain. A 2012 study ­­by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs of the UK’s 2009 tax increase on HNIs determined  “that the negative fallout of this higher tax was far-reaching and the underlying yield from the higher tax was much lower than forecast.” And based on that, it recommended lowering the tax rate.

She also refers to evidence that increased tax rates “encourage migration by HNIs—which includes migration of highly skilled workers—to more tax favourable countries.” Americans see this in movement from one state to another and also in offshore efforts and the re-opening of closed US plants in places like Mexico; in other words, the out migration of businesses and jobs. Labny, who is also an accountant and therefore familiar with numbers, also talks about how reduced disposable income means reduced expenditures resulting in less indirect tax receipts (something that was not even included in the British study); and cautions that these forces pose a grave threat to India’s fragile five percent growth rate. India never experienced the same dislocation of the worldwide recession that other nations did but has been living with declining economic conditions for the past year. In anecdotal support, I have been coming to India for years, and every year since 2008, the dollar fetched fewer Indian Rupees than it did the year before. This year, however, the Rupee has slipped to pre-2008 rates.

Kably argues that “even a casual glance at the Comptroller and Auditor General of India’s reports for any year, pertaining to any ministry or department, shows wasteful expenditure.”  She identifies that problem as the culprit for India’s budget woes and concludes, “Imposition of a higher tax burden on HNIs will not solve the problems plaguing India. It is inefficiency in utilization of taxpayer’s money that needs to be curbed and not growth.”

The upcoming Indian elections are shaping up as a monumental battle between “pro-growth” advocates who agree with Kably, represented by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi; and the left-leaning Congress Party whose minions still believe that taking more from the top earners will pay for their profligate ways.

Sound familiar?

Posted on 02/13/2013 12:51 PM by Richard L. Benkin
Wednesday, 13 February 2013
Jed Perl On Ai Weiwei

Noble and Ignoble Ai Weiwei: Wonderful dissident, terrible artist

If Ai Weiwei, the much admired Chinese dissident artist, were a character in a novel, I would know exactly what to think about him. I would regard him as a fascination, at once formidable and absurd, courageous and disingenuous, unquestionably brilliant and downright moronic. I would take in stride the outlandish paradoxes that are integral to his reputation. I would cheer his stirring advocacy of the victims of Mao's successors and recoil at the terrible brain injury he suffered at the hands of the Chinese police, while discerning a streak of ugly nihilism in some of his best-known artistic acts, such as smashing an antique pot for a photographic triptych titled Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn and dipping Han dynasty vases in garishly colored industrial paint for a work known as Colored Vases. I would go wherever the novelist who had invented this fierce, funny, bearded, barrel-chested impresario wished to lead me, and in the end I would have a tremendous picture of a man with a quick mind, indomitable energy, and no particular aptitude for art.

I wish I could leave it there. But of course Ai Weiwei is anything but a fiction, and the contradictions between his life and his art—and perhaps within his art as well—are as real as real can be. He is currently the subject of a large exhibition called "Ai Weiwei: According to What?" at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington. My sense, at least on the weekday when I visited the show, was that visitors welcomed the opportunity to focus on the hardships of life in contemporary China as well as on Ai's extraordinary courage as a social activist. Although some museumgoers may be surprised to discover that Ai often favors a chaste minimalist style as he spotlights some of the horrors visited upon the Chinese people by the country's authoritarian regime, others will take the style in stride, regarding it as a generic documentary approach perfectly appropriate for Ai's torn-from-the-headlines subject matter.

Certainly one need know nothing about Robert Morris and Donald Judd and the other 1960s artists from whom Ai takes many of his formal strategies to get the point of Straight. This arrangement of steel rebar recovered from the rubble of collapsed schoolhouses in Sichuan, following the earthquake in 2008 that killed more than five thousand children, is strikingly austere. Ai has been an outspoken advocate for the children's parents as they seek at least some modicum of justice. At times the Hirshhorn exhibition is close to pure documentary. There is a list of the names of the children who died in Sichuan posted on a wall. And Ai includes an ink-jet print of an MRI of his brain, after his beating by police in 2009. In the face of such facts, some will wonder if there is any point in discussing the art historical background or in determining exactly what belongs in an art museum. At this late date, wouldn't only a philistine question whether a list of names or an MRI of a swollen brain counts as a work of art? A work of art is whatever anybody says it is. Why even bring it up?

Cathy Carver/Hirshhorn
Pull up a chair

Grapes by Ai Weiwei, 2010. 

I wish I could leave it at that. But the problem with simply saluting Ai as a political activist is that he insists on pleading his case in the art museums. The Hirshhorn exhibition—which originated at the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo in 2009 and will conclude a five-city North American tour at the Brooklyn Museum in 2014—takes its title from a 1964 painting by Jasper Johns, According to What. The Ai Weiwei who admires the conundrums of Jasper Johns, that most beloved of contemporary aesthetes, is very much in evidence at the Hirshhorn in a work such as Surveillance Camera, a white marble simulacrum of one of the tools of the police state (which is also ubiquitous in democratic societies). Whatever the message Ai means to send with Surveillance Camera—and the Chinese autocrats certainly have many cameras trained on Ai—it is notable mostly as an example of made-to-order ironic neoclassicism, and for all intents and purposes it is indistinguishable from the marble rendering of a garbage can by the New York bad boy artist Tom Sachs. (Some may recall that Sachs got the gallerist Mary Boone into trouble a few years ago when he placed live ammunition in a vase in her gallery and invited visitors to take cartridges as souvenirs.) With Ai, one wonders where the political dissent ends and the artsy attitudinizing begins. At least that was what I found myself wondering at the Hirshhorn, where Ai marries his somber subject matter with a slyly luxurious less-is-more aesthetic. I suspect that this synthesis is part of what museumgoers find so satisfying about the show. Some visitors seem awfully pleased with themselves, as if by coming to see Ai Weiwei at the Hirshhorn they are doing the right thing and killing two birds with one stone: acquiring both art cred and political cred.

I admire Ai's courage. As the son of a well-known poet who suffered enormously during the Cultural Revolution, he is perfectly aware of the dangers of confronting a powerful regime that has little or no interest in human rights. In the months leading up to the Beijing Olympics in 2008, Ai was something of a political insider, working with the architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron on the design for the Bird's Nest Stadium. But even before the Olympics opened, Ai had become an outspoken critic of the regime, using whatever partial protection his international fame accorded him at home to shed light on the darkest corners of contemporary China. Since then he has been hounded, investigated, jailed, and refused permission to leave the country, but not silenced.

In interviews, statements, and writings—many for a blog that he maintained from 2006 until 2009, when the Chinese government shut it down—Ai speaks with eloquence about the struggle for justice and the impossibility of developing an expansive cultural life in China while living under an authoritarian regime. Writing on his blog in 2006, Ai announced that "China still lacks a modernist movement of any magnitude, for the basis of such a movement would be the liberation of humanity and the illumination brought by the humanitarian spirit. Democracy, material wealth, and universal education are the soil upon which modernism exists." These are stirring words, suggesting that in Ai's view China remains more than a century behind the West, its cultural development hopelessly crippled by its economic and political systems. (The artist's writings are collected in Ai Weiwei's Blog, published by MIT Press in 2011. I find the new Weiwei-isms, from Princeton University Press, less satisfying, an ironic riposte to Mao's Little Red Book.)

Ai's meditations on the nature of modern culture can also sound strangely old-fashioned, their talk of "humanity" and "spirit" a bit fulsome to Western ears. And here we come to the poignancy of Ai's situation. While Ai's socially engaged art has emerged in a country where modernism has never taken hold, he finds his most responsive audience in the West, where the core principles of modern art–its fervor, its independence, its individualism–are increasingly imperiled. So Ai turns out to be both pre-modern and postmodern, which probably explains how neatly he fits into our current artistic free-for-all, uniting as he does an early modern evangelism and a postmodern irony. Invited to contribute to Documenta 12 in Kassel in 2007, Ai dreamed up Fairytale. This quintessential work of social engagement involved bringing to Kassel 1,001 Chinese citizens who under normal circumstances had little or no chance of ever leaving the country to spend some time in Germany. Were these Chinese citizens being turned into a living work of art–a kind of performance piece? Was Ai liberating them, or using them as pawns in his own bid for fame? The novelistic possibilities are endless, suggesting an exploration of the vanity of good works worthy of Dickens or Tolstoy.

Cathy Carver/Hirshhorn Museum
Table or chair?

Table with Two Legs on the Wall by Ai Weiwei, 2008.

With socially engaged art now a global phenomenon, some practitioners worry that the "activist art milieu" is all too often "simply digested by the conditions of power," as Nato Thompson puts it in a new book, Living as Form: Socially Engaged Art From 1991-2011 (MIT Press). I imagine that Ai's Fairytale might be open to this line of criticism. In the context of the localized cottage-industry character of a lot of socially engaged art, Ai has set himself apart by taking as his canvas a country even larger than Russia, which was in some sense the very starting point for modern political art, when once upon a time Tatlin, Malevich, and El Lissitzky imagined that they might unite radical art and radical politics. Remembering how the Russian avant-garde was crushed by Lenin and then expunged by Stalin, Ai's supporters can hail him as the inheritor of the socially engaged avant-garde, now rising against the inheritors of Mao's China.

Which is not to say that Ai will not meet some resistance on the left, where his taste for the bold gesture may not sit entirely easily with those who disdain the international art world's addiction to spectacle. The Hirshhorn has recently purchased Ai's more than thirteen-foot-high Cube Light, which, with its row upon row of jazzily back-lit gold-toned crystals, suggests the retro-glam décor for an upscale bar or nightclub. While a wall label explains that Cube Light "interrogate[s] conventions of culture, history, politics, and tradition," it seems to me that the only reasonable response to this caramel colored concoction is to order a martini and make it extra dry. I confess that Ai lost me completely with Cube Light, part of what the people at the Hirshhorn refer to as his "celebrated chandelier series." The glitz of Cube Light reflects a side of his sensibility that some progressives will dismiss as high bourgeois kitsch, although at times it is unclear whether Ai is parodying a taste for swank Chinese porcelains and beautifully crafted wood furniture or celebrating it. The truth is that he may not be entirely clear about this himself.

Ai is probably at his best when he works as a designer, considering form in its social aspect. From what one can gather from photographs, the studio that he designed and built for himself in Shanghai—which the authorities bulldozed in 2011—was eloquently straightforward, in a style reminiscent of some of Judd's architectural works, of which Ai is surely aware. In recent years, one of the most attractive aspects of Ai's activity has been his engaging various craftspeople—especially workers in wood and ceramic—to create works that Ai designs but hands over to others to produce, in keeping with tried and true post-Duchampian practice. At times he suggests a Dadaist William Morris, corralling skilled woodworkers to make absurdist constructions out of antique tables, stools, and doors, or overseeing the creation of millions of tiny porcelain sunflower seeds that filled the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern in 2010—the seeds evoking the Cultural Revolution, when the Chinese people were said to be sunflowers turning toward Mao even as the seeds themselves provided much needed nourishment.

When Ai, who as a boy lived through the terrors of the Cultural Revolution, dreams up projects for skilled workers, he seems to be designing the monuments for a luxurious utopia, with his Moon Chest (elegant boxes with openings related to the phases of the moon) and Map of China (a construction of salvaged wood from Qing Dynasty temples). He has long been something of a collector, a frequenter of antiques markets in China. And his work often has a curatorial character, the gathering together (or the purposeful distortion or transformation) of found objects, or of objects made to his specifications that he regards in the spirit of Duchamp and his readymades. "My work is always a readymade," Ai has said. Such readymades, he argues, "could be cultural, political, or social, and also it could be art—to make people re-look at what we have done, its original position, to create new possibilities. I always want people to be confused, to be shocked or realize something later."

Whatever the admirable consistency of Ai's stand against the Chinese regime, when it comes to art he is a little too fond of jokes and ironies that have a way of multiplying into inanities. Could it be that the 1,001 Chinese citizens he brought to Documenta were somehow regarded as readymades? And to the objection that nearly everything he has done seems a version of something already done by an American artist—whether his boxes that suggest Judd's boxes, or his ambiguous furniture that suggests Richard Artschwager's furniture, or his piled pieces of steel rebar that bring to mind Robert Morris and Carl Andre—would he reply that this is precisely his point, that the American "original" idea becomes for him a readymade? And when he breaks or otherwise transforms what we are told are genuine antiquities, is this his version of what Duchamp once called a "readymade aided"?

Cathy Carver/Hirshhorn Museum
A splash of color

Colored Vases by Ai Weiwei, 2007-2010.

I have no idea what to make of Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads. This is a set of twelve animal heads representing the signs of the zodiac, realized in editions in bronze and in bronze with a gold patina. Ai closely based the heads on originals, some of them lost, made in the eighteenth century for the pleasure palace of the Qianlong Emperor, by Jesuits living in China. (A substantial book about the project, Ai Weiwei: Circle of Animals, was published in 2011.) Once part of an elaborate water garden that was left in ruins after the Opium Wars, the site on the outskirts of Beijing was a haunt for bohemians when Ai was a young man. (Two of the original heads have in more recent times been in the news, included in an auction of the collection of Yves Saint Laurent.) Ai, on his blog in 2009, had some rather scathing things to say about the originals, arguing that they "are not Chinese culture and they have no artistic value."

So why, you might ask, did he go to the trouble of creating replicas or reconstructions of these heads, which have now been exhibited in London, New York, and Washington? Asked more recently about the project, Ai had this to say: "Because the Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads is animal heads, I think it's something that everyone can have some understanding of, including children and people who are not in the art world. I think it's more important to show your work to the public. That's what I really care about. When Andy Warhol painted Mao in the 1960s and 1970s, I don't think many people understood Mao, either—it was just this image that people knew, like Marilyn Monroe or somebody. So they might see these zodiac animals like that—like Mickey Mouse. They're just animals." Ai may be a hero when it comes to speaking out for the victims of the Sichuan earthquake, but when he talks about his art he is jeeringly manipulative. It is hard to have patience for an artist who justifies his work with references to Mickey Mouse.

Much of the fascination of a substantial survey of an artist's work consists in the ways it deepens our understanding of origins and evolutions, but the Hirshhorn exhibition offers only the sketchiest sense of Ai's early years. The problem may be that his artistic beginnings are pathetically thin, at least that is what I surmise from the little early work included here and what I have seen in reproductions. As a young man Ai spent a decade in New York, from 1983 to 1993, returning to China when his father became ill. At the Hirshhorn a good deal of space is given to photographs he took while hanging out in Brooklyn and on the Lower East Side, and they are nothing more than the snapshots of a somewhat aimless fellow: he meets Allen Ginsberg, witnesses the Tompkins Square Park riots, passes the time with friends from back home.

One work from those years that has received some attention—although it is not in the Hirshhorn show—is a wire coat hanger that Ai manipulated so as to replicate the profile of Marcel Duchamp as seen in his Self-Portrait in Profile. What other work there is from the 1980s strikes me as only more of this highly diluted Dadaism: Château Lafite, a bottle encased in two shoes; a book with a half of a shoe attached to it; a violin with two shoes clamped to its body; and another violin with its neck replaced by the handle of a shovel. Is the shovel an homage to Duchamp's readymade that consists of a snow shovel? Does the violin have something to do with Man Ray's Le Violon d'Ingres? Or with the French artist Arman's interest in violins? Whatever the answers, Ai's Dadaism never strikes with a personal force, the way Robert Gober's sometimes does. The work is pale and derivative, after which it becomes loud and political without ceasing to be pale and derivative.

Although Ai is a darling of journalists and editorialists around the world, his work may be a little overly explicit for some connoisseurs of late modernism or postmodernism, better suited to Art and America and The New York Times than to the pages of October. I suspect that many museum professionals in Europe and the United States who have supported Ai's projects also regard him with a slight condescension, as something of an artistic naïf, albeit an extraordinarily self-possessed naïf. His paradoxes lack the house-of-mirrors richness that is admired in Bruce Nauman's Clown Torture videos, in Cindy Sherman's recent photographs of aging upper-class suburban housewives, and in William Kentridge's scratch-pad films. There is much that is blunt and programmatic about Ai's ideas about the relationship between art and social action, which perhaps explains his appeal for the audience that only occasionally goes to museums and galleries and so admired his millions of sunflower seeds in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern.

For Ai, there is not even a question as to whether the artist can simultaneously be a social activist, because art is not a separate arena with its own laws and logic. All actions, whether compiling a list of children killed in an earthquake or dipping Han dynasty vases in industrial paint, are related in that they are expressions of "creativity." Creativity, Ai explained in a blog post in 2008, "is the power to reject the past, to change the status quo, and to seek new potential. Simply put, aside from using one's imagination—perhaps more importantly—creativity is the power to act." What is lost in this talk about creativity and action is the ancient requirement that a work of art be realized in a particular medium. That does not seem to matter to Ai. Asked by an interviewer whether the millions of porcelain sunflower seeds at Tate Modern "relate[d] back to China," he argued that "mass production is nothing new. Weren't cathedrals built through mass production? The pyramids? ... Paintings can be painted with the left hand, the right hand, someone else's hand, or many people's hands. The scale of production is irrelevant to its content." This is an extraordinary comment. If the scale of a work and the way the work is produced are irrelevant to its meaning or its content, then what on earth is a work of art? Isn't a work of art by its very nature a matter of particulars, of size and scale, of who does what and how?

When Ai complains that China has never developed a modernist culture, he surely regards himself as an exception. But the crudity with which he connects creativity with action and action with art reflects a misunderstanding of the nature of modern art, and indeed of all art, that is as pervasive in democratic societies as it is in countries with authoritarian regimes. Artistic crudity knows no national borders, and while I would never discount the importance of the freedom to create whatever an artist wants, I would insist that art proceeds according to laws that politics can at times thwart or control but never fully contain or comprehend. It is tempting to say, in summing up "Ai Weiwei: According to What?," that I admire the politics and am left cold by the art, but that lets the art off too easily. When Ai hangs an MRI on the wall or places thirty-eight tons of steel rebar on the floor, he fails to meet, much less to grapple with, the challenges of art. In this way, he creates his own kind of political kitsch. It is not the kind with muscular working men that Stalin and Mao preferred, but it is kitsch nonetheless—postmodern minimalist political kitsch, albeit in the name of a just cause.

The political causes that Ai embraces are noble. This cannot be said often enough. But when he takes his place inside the Hirshhorn Museum, with its Matisses and Brancusis and Mondrians, I cannot help but feel that he poses a threat to the artistic universe he dreams of inhabiting. This is not a question of left versus right, or of communist versus capitalist, or of political art versus art for art's sake. It is a question of what an artist is actually doing when he makes a work of art. I am reminded of something that John Berger, himself a fervent leftist, wrote in 1978 in an essay called "The Work of Art," arguing against a rigid Marxist interpretation of art: "When a painter is working he is aware of the means which are available to him—these include his materials, the style he inherits, the conventions he must obey, his prescribed or freely chosen subject matter—as constituting both an opportunity and a restraint. By working and using the opportunity he becomes conscious of some of its limits. These limits challenge him, at either an artisanal, a magical or an imaginative level. He pushes against one or several of them." Berger is writing about a painter, but what he says holds true for any artist. What never happens in Ai's work is this pushing against limits, this sense of the means as constituting an opportunity and a restraint. With Ai, the means are purely instrumental, just a way to get to an end.

The trouble with most critiques of political art is that they pay too much attention to the politics. This is not to say that an artist's politics do not matter; not at all. But the great challenge today, at least for those who find themselves in a museum wanting to take full advantage of what an art museum has to offer, is how deeply the artist is exploring the means that are available. Therein lies artistic freedom. As an artist, Ai Weiwei remains imprisoned, unable to speak in the language of forms, which is the only language an artist can really know. A novelist might make something exciting out of Ai's predicament. But Ai, as I say, is not a character in a novel. He is a man who makes works of art. They are bone-chillingly cold, the thoughts or attitudes of a great political dissident who remains untouched by even a spark of the imaginative fire.

Posted on 02/13/2013 1:01 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 13 February 2013
Simon Leys On Edward Said

Reading recently "The Burning Forest" by Simon Leys, the scholar of Chinese culture and a novelist in French, I was pleased to find a copy of the replies he had made, several decades ago, to a set of questions based on "Orientalism" -- that book, ballyhooed and baleful, that at the time was still taken seriously, and then some.

The questions, and Leys' replies, under the title "Orientalism and Sinology," end with this final question-and-reply: 

"We should question the advisability of too close a relationship between the scholar and the state":

You bet we should! On this point I could not agree more with Said -- yet it is hardly an original conclusion. The very concept of the "university" has rested for some seven hundred years on the absolute autonomy and freedom of all academic and scholarly activities from any interference and influence of the political authorities. It is nice to see that Said is now rediscovering such a basic notion; I only deplore that it took him three hundred pages of twisted, obscure, incoherent, ill-informed, and badly written diatribe to reach at last one sound and fundamental truism.


Posted on 02/13/2013 1:07 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 13 February 2013
A Musical Interlude: Shanghai Lil (Karos Orch.)
Listen here.
Posted on 02/13/2013 1:19 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 13 February 2013
Geert Wilders on Australian TV Weathers A Very Hostile Interview

Yesterday evening, in the 'Lateline' evening program on Australia's ABC TV, the host Tony Jones interviewed Geert Wilders (by teleconference).  This is in the lead-up to Mr Wilders' visit to Australia which has been sponsored by the Q Society.

The interviewer was very hostile but I think Mr Wilders held his own admirably.

At the moment you can see - and hear - the exchange on the ABC website; that, however, will not remain possible indefinitely.  The transcript will, however, remain available into the foreseeable future.

If you are reading this in February 2013, then please click on the link above and watch and listen: the sneering hostility of the interviewer, and the manner of his constant aggressive interruptions, are not as obvious from the transcript as it is from the audio and visuals.

'Anti-Muslim Campaigner Coming to Australia'.

'Ahead of his visit to Australia, far-right (BZZZZZT! buzzword alert! 'Far-right ' is used as a derogatory epithet for any person  at all who dares to suggest that it might be possible to occasionally a/ say NO to incessant and strident Muslim demands and b/ discuss Muslim texts and Muslim conduct - past or present - in a manner even remotely critical. - CM) Dutch MP Geert Wilders talks to Tony Jones about his opposition to Muslim immigrants in his country.

"TONY JONES [henceforward, TJ - CM], PRESENTER: Now to our guest.

"Geert Wilders is the Dutch anti-immigration and anti-Islam MP.  He's the founder of the right wing party Party For Freedom.

Please define what you mean, exactly, by 'right wing', Mr Jones, before you start throwing it around like that.  And I do not think that Mr Wilders completely opposes all immigration; it is Muslim immigration that primarily concerns him, because of the way in which a high proportion of the current lot of Muslims already present in the Netherlands, and their offspring, are conducting themselves; though a country as tiny and thickly-populated as the Netherlands is entitled to set limits on how many immigrants it permits, period.  One might think, by analogy, of Singapore; it is quite difficult, so I have heard,  to become a citizen of Singapore. - CM

"Next week, Geert Wilders arrives in Australia for a visit that's been a long time in the making.  He planned to come here about a year ago and drew early support from Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi who later distanced himself from the idea.

Which is a shame. - CM

'Now he's being sponsored by the anti-Islamic group, The Q Society, on a road trip that's sure to fire debate over what constitutes free speech or hate speech.

Define hate speech, please, Mr Jones.  

Is it 'hate speech' if I say in public that the Muslims' role model and 'prophet', Mohammed, is believed by them, on the basis of their canonical texts, the Sira and the Hadith, to have engaged himself to a six year old girl, Aisha, and to have taken her to bed and had marital relations with her, once she reached the age of just nine years?  

And what if, in addition, I deplore the widespread practice of the wedding and bedding - quite often forcibly - of underage girls (often to much, much older men) in many Islamic countries and even openly or clandestinely among Muslim 'communities' in non-Muslim countries such as the UK: a practice that is explicitly and publicly defended, by quite a few leading Islamic 'clerics', on the basis of the example set by Mohammed?  And what if I then state that since the age of consent for girls - and it must be free consent - in our country is sixteen, then any Muslims in our country must refrain from marrying off under-aged girls, to adult men; and if I say that  if they are caught doing it anyway on the sly, or if an Islamic 'cleric' is caught advocating the wedding-and-bedding of underage girls, then the full force of Australian law as regards sexual congress with minors (and as regards the advocacy of same), must be brought down upon those responsible?  Is that 'hate speech'?  

Is it 'hate speech' if I state that I agree with Mr Wilders?  I too, because of sharia-prescribed practices such as - often forced - wedding-and-bedding of underaged girl-children, and polygyny, and the Quranic verse that tells Muslim men to beat those of their wives from whom they merely 'fear' 'rebellion' (and I might also mention, as Mr Wilders does in the interview, he Islamic apostasy law which demands that anyone who leaves Islam must be punished, preferably killed) and the difficulty and expense of trying to enforce compliance with our laws, upon a sullen and often openly hostile and aggressive immigrant Muslim population that will try at every turn to practise its own evil, violent and misogynistic customs in defiance of our laws,  I would prefer that no more Muslims be permitted into my country, and that we start figuring out ways to remove all those who manifest as dangerous?  - CM

'Geert Wilders joins us now live from The Hague. Thanks for being there.'

GEERT WILDERS, LEADER, PARTY FOR FREEDOM: "Well, thanks for having me on your show tonight.

At least they interviewed him, I will say that for the ABC. - CM

TJ:  "Are you on some sort of global Jihad against Islam?

Peculiar choice of words.  Would Mr Jones have asked a Muslim interviewee, point blank, 'Are you on some sort of global Jihad against the Infidels?' - CM

GW: "Indeed.  I am more on a global jihad to preserve our freedom.

Nice one, Mr Wilders.  Turn the enemy's terminology against him.  After all, the 'jihad' is conducted as much by 'pen and tongue' as by the sword.  So a non-Muslim person defending his society against the Jihad waged by the Muslims, begins with words, to educate, advise and warn.  And I don't think Mr Jones expected this answer, at all; it severely rattled him. - CM

"I believe that even though I have nothing against the people or Muslims or anybody for that reason, I believe that Islam and freedom are incompatible.

"And I believe that the mistakes that we made in Europe in the last decades by allowing so much mass immigration from Islamic countries is a warning that if Australia is not vigilant enough to preserve this freedom, what has happened here might happen to Australia in the next decades as well.

TJ: "So, very precisely, you plan to warn Australian audiences of what you see as the danger of Islamic migration, is that correct?

GW: "Well, yes, I believe that, once again, Islam and freedom are incompatible.  Islam is according to me, my party, not so much a religion as well as it is a totalitarian ideology.  In Islam there is not much room for anything else but Islam.

"Look how in societies today where Islam is dominant and prominent, how any non-Islamic person, whether it's a Christian or an apostate or a woman or a critical journalist, how they are treated.  This is in a very bad way, often with the death penalty or imprisonment or all those kind of terrible things.

That is the single most important point that must be made, over and over, by Wilders and by all of us who are trying to resist the Islamisation of our countries.  It is manifestly clear that no non-Muslim is - or ever has been - genuinely free or safe in any society in which Muslims rule and/ or form the majority.  It is often said that to see the true character of a person, you must look at how he treats those less powerful than himself, those over whom he wields power.  The Ummah does not come out too well when put to that test.  Considered as a gestalt, the Ummah has an atrocious record of mistreating any non-Muslims over whom they, the Muslims, have power. - CM

"I believe that what with the mass immigration to our free societies, our societies will change, and it will change for the worse.  And I'm proud to say you are not a racist or a bigot or anything like that if you say that the Netherlands, as Australia (that is, 'like Australia' - CM) is a culture based on Christianity, on Judaism, on humanism, and it should not nor ever will become a society based on Islamic failures.  We should fight it [that is, fight Islamisation - CM], we should stop it, we should be proud of who we are and define what we are not."

TJ: "I'm going to pick you up on some of those points in a little while.  But what do you actually know in [this should be 'of' or 'about' - CM] the Islamic community in Australia?  What you have heard about what is happening here, and Australian multiculturalism - which it seems to me could be quite different to multiculturalism in Holland?

Ah yes, this is the 'our Muslims are different' or 'we are different' argument that the USA used to use as well, when faced with the ugly stories about Muslim immigrant misbehaviour within Europe...but I have lost track, by now, of just how many mass-murderous jihad plots have been fortunately foiled in the USA within the past five years, all of them hatched from within the Muslim 'community' in the USA.  The peacefulness or the belligerence of any given Muslim colony within the lands of the infidels seems to me to be be entirely situational: if the Muslims perceive themselves to be weak vis a vis the surrounding non-Muslims, they will lie low and make nice; but the moment the balance of power begins to shift, the moment the Muslims perceive themselves to be strong in numbers and/ or strong politically, and especially if the host society is conciliatory and 'gives way' when tested on this or that demand, or when subjected to preliminary assaults, preliminary 'trials of strength', then they will 'flip' and start becoming openly aggressive.  The only reason that aggression from Muslims in Australia has been relatively low-level compared to, say, France or the UK or the Netherlands, is that there are a lot fewer Muslims - both in absolute terms and when considered as a percentage of our population whether locally, regionally or nationally - in Australia, than in the UK or France or the Netherlands. - CM

GW: "Of course that's the case.  I'm not saying that it's exactly the same.  I know and I also spoke in the United States of America and in Canada, and other countries already have good results with immigration, that it cannot be compared [in] everything to Europe.

"But I know where we today in Europe have enormous influx the last decades of people from Islamic countries, that our society has changed.

"That it has worsened for that reason.

"That unfortunately non-Western immigrants, often Muslims, are over-represented in statistics of crime, of dependency on social benefits, that we have honour killings, that we have genital mutilation, that we have streets where women with headscarves and burqas are not the exception any more. And that it's getting worse.

"What I'm trying to do when I visit your beautiful country, Australia, is warn Australians that even though it might not be the case today, learn from the mistakes that we made in Europe: be vigilant and look at Islam for what it really is.  Islam is not a religion of peace.  Islam is a totalitarian ideology".

"The best example [of that] is that if any person, any Muslim wants to leave Islam, then the penalty is death.  It is not even allowed to leave it.  That's why I believe Islam should not be compared with other religions like Christianity or Judaism, but Islam should be compared to other totalitarian ideologies like Communism or Fascism.

I hope that many Aussies who saw this interview have now gone off and done some research on Islam, and what happens, or is supposed to happen, to people who try to leave Islam.  They won't like what they find.  Just in case any inquiring and as-yet-uninformed Aussies lob in here,I commend to them Ayaan Hirsi Ali's 'Infidel', together with Canon Dr Patrick Sookhdeo's 'Freedom to Believe: Challenging Islam's Apostasy Law', and Samuel Zwemer's classic study, 'The Law of Apostasy in Islam' (which may be read in its entirety online, for free, just google and see).  - CM

TJ: "I can tell you for sure there are plenty of Islamic people in Australia who've left the religion without being killed.

Really, Mr Jones?  Exactly how many of them can you personally name?  Have you ever met a publicly-declared apostate from Islam - whether an atheist or a convert to Christianity - face-to-face?  Have you ever done a TV interview with an ex-Muslim who is also a resident of Australia?  Do you know, for sure, that in this country they do not have to worry about their personal safety, after having left the Ummah?  Because I know of apostates in the UK and in the USA - and at least one prominent ex-Muslim who is active in Australia and New Zealand, one Daniel Shayesteh, a convert to Christianity - who do have to watch their backs, day and night, for fear of the sharia hitmen.  And if you think, Mr Jones, that the Muslims in Australia are so laid-back about apostasy, then ask yourself why Ms Ayaan Hirsi Ali would have been foolish to dispense with her bodyguards when she visited the Sydney Writers' Festival. - CM

"So what you're saying can't be everywhere.  Indeed, I suspect what you're talking about is Islamic fundamentalism.  Why not restrict your arguments to Islamic fundamentalism or radical Islam - Islamism - why do you include in this broad brush moderate Islam?

Read ex-Muslim Ali Sina on the myth of moderate Islam, Mr Jones.  And for anyone else who hasn't yet read Mr Sina's essay, here's the link:

GW (adjusts earpiece): Sorry, I lose you here for a minute, but I think you asked me why...

TJ: "I said why don't you exclude from your annoyance, your anger, moderate Islam, which is very different to what you seem to be describing?

GW: "Yes.  Well, it's not annoyance of anger.  It's just the truth.

"What you're saying about radical Islam, with all respect to you, sir, is complete nonsense.

"There is no radical or moderate Islam.  There is only one Islam, and that is the Islam from the Koran, the holy book.  (And, too, from the Sira, or canonical life of Mohammed, and from the Sahih Hadiths - CM).  That is the Islam from Mohammed. There are no two sorts of Islam.

Conor Cruise O'Brien said it already in 1995: Islam is indivisible.

"However, there are moderate and non-moderate Muslims, I acknowledge that.  As a matter of fact, the majority of the Muslims living in our society are (or appear to be, at the moment - CM) moderate people.

"But don't make the mistake that even though there are moderate and radical Muslims that there is a moderate or a radical Islam.

"There is only one Islam, and that is a totalitarian ideology that has no room for anything but Islam.  You see it once again in any country in the world where Islam is dominant.  How come that we, for instance...

TJ: "Can I just interrupt you there?  It happens we live very close to the largest Islamic country in the world, Indonesia, which has 250 million people, and has recently transitioned to democracy.  According to you, that's impossible for an Islamic country to do.

"Yes they have a problem with radical Islam.  It is a small problem relative to the whole population.  

How small?  And even if it is 'small' now, in relative terms, it may not stay small.  The province of Aceh, in Sumatra, is rapidly 'going sharia'.  And I think Mr Jones needs to talk to the Christians of recently-freed Catholic majority Timor L'Este, and ask them how they were treated by Muslim Indonesia; and then he could talk to the Christians of Java, and the Christians who were driven out of their homes in the Moluccas by the Lashkar Jihad during the late 1990s (while the Indonesian army did nothing whatsoever to prevent the atrocities that were committed, and indeed, in some instances, joined in or enabled the Jihad against the indigenous Christian population); and Mr Jones should also talk to the Christians of Sulawesi, and in particular, right now, to the indigenous Melanesian Christians of West Papua.  The 'Barnabas Fund' could tell him a few things about the way that Christians are frequently treated, in many parts of Indonesia, that I think he has not bothered to find out.  - CM

"How do you think we should deal with Indonesia?  Do you think we should treat them as if they are somehow insane?

Speaking as an Australian who knows rather more about the suffering of non-Muslims in Indonesia, and the behaviour of Muslims in Indonesia toward Infidels, historically and today, than you appear to know, Mr Jones - ask yourself where the term 'running amok' comes from, Mr Jones, and I also advise that you read C S Hurgronje, 'The Acehnese' - I would have to say: Yes.  Given what the suffused-with-Islam and overwhelmingly-Muslim Indonesian government and army did to the Christians of Timor, and what they are doing to the Christians and other non-Muslim indigenes of Papua right now, and what they did to the Christians of the Moluccas, I would not give Muslim-dominated majority-Muslim Indonesia economic 'aid', nor sell them arms, nor would I train their military men and their police.  I would not sell them cattle to be tormented to death by halal slaughter. I would not buy their rice or their paper or their timber.   I would not permit Indonesian Muslims to migrate to Australia, or study in Australia, or do business in Australia.  I would keep them strictly at arm's length; and I would resolutely and visibly and solidly fortify our northern/ north-western coast, that looks out across the sea toward Muslim Indonesia; and I would work very hard to ensure that stable and strong and free non-Muslim societies, capable of holding their own against any assault launched from across their land borders with Muslim Indonesia, arose in Papua-New Guinea and in East Timor.  - CM

GW: "Once again you misunderstand my point entirely.  I'm not talking about the people.  I have nothing against the people.  I have nothing against the Indonesian people or the Arab people or the Muslim people.  I'm talking about the ideology.  

Which, of course, exists not only in books but inside the heads of the people who adhere to it, and strongly influences their conduct. - CM

"And indeed, as long as a country has a culture a religion an ideology where Islam is dominant, it will never be a democracy.

It may have mob rule. But it won't be like a modern western liberal democracy, under which the human and civil rights of individuals are protected. - CM

"Look at how they treat Christians in Indonesia (exactly - take that, Tony Jones! - CM) or how they treat Christians (and any other variety of non-Muslim - CM) in any other country where Islam is dominant.

"Why is it not possible to build a church in Saudi Arabia (and it is actually quite difficult to get approval to build a new church even in so-called 'moderate' Indonesia, these days - CM), whereas we in the Netherlands have almost 500 mosques being built; why is it not possible to buy or sell a Bible in any Muslim or in most of the Muslim countries, whereas we can buy a Koran here on every street corner?  This is the exact example of the fact that Islam is an intolerant society.  I believe that.."

And again, very rudely and aggressively, Tony Jones interrupted. - CM

TJ: "Can I just...I will have to interrupt you on that point as well, because in fact, one of your own ideas is to ban the Koran in the Netherlands.  So apparently you're as intolerant as you believe the other side to be?

Note that sly use of the term 'believe'.  It appears Mr Jones is woefully uninformed about the extent of the official and unofficial suppression of free speech in all Muslim-dominated countries. - CM

GW: "No, I made a point in the Dutch Parliament - unfortunately, you are wrong here as well - I made a point in the Dutch Parliament that we're in Holland - you have to see the Dutch context.  Mein Kampf, this terrible book of Adolph Hitler, is outlawed.  I made a point in the Dutch parliament that I say to all these liberal politicians and socialist politicians in my own parliament that, "Hey, you are very happy here, you applauded the fact that Mein Kampf was outlawed in the Netherlands.  If you are really consistent, you should, for the same arguments that you use as liberal politicians to outlaw Mein Kampf, outlaw the Koran as well".

"Of course, it was very silent; they were not consistent and they shoved the problem under the carpet.  Which is exactly the point again - that we should be able to see Islam for what it is, make a distinction between the people and the ideology, and stop with being politically correct, and address the problems, as many people, also in Australia, see it when it comes to the Islamisation of their country".

TJ: "Let's talk to you about what you've said.  You've called Islam the "greatest sickness we've had during the last century".  I take it that [that] probably includes Nazism.  You also say it has to be "tackled and driven back".  What do you mean by that exactly?  How would you drive it back, if you had the power?"

GW: You know, it's very simple.  I believe that we should stop the immigration, the mass immigration from Islamic countries.

I agree, with this exception: I would admit the desperate and imperilled non-Muslims from those Muslim lands, people such as the Copts from Egypt, or the Hindus and Christians from Pakistan and Bangladesh, and Hindus and Buddhists and Confucians and Christians from Malaysia and Indonesia, and the mortally-imperilled Assyrian Christians from Iraq and Syria; and I would make it clear, as I did so, that any Muslim from those countries, who pretended to be what he or she wasn't, in order to get inside the door, would be booted right back out the moment that their imposture was detected. - CM

"I believe that Muslims that are in our society today are of course equal as anybody else, as long as they adhere to our laws, to our constitution, to our values.  And as long as they cross this red line (sic: I think he means, 'but the moment they cross this red line' - CM), if they commit crimes, if they start beating up women, if they start the genital mutilation, if they start to commit other crimes (such as violent gang rapes of non-Muslim girls and women, and the 'grooming' of underage non-Muslim girls for sex slavery, which has been happening in the UK and also in the Netherlands - CM) and honour killings, as they unfortunately do in Western Europe many times - if they do that, I believe we should expel them, the same day if possible, from our country.

"So to stop the immigration to our societies - because we have had more than enough Islam in our societies - and people who are here and who are behaving according to our laws and our constitutions are happy to stay, are equal to anybody else, or even what to help them with the better education, but if they cross the line of crime, start acting according to Sharia law, there will be no place for them in our free societies...".

TJ: "Wait,'s not so simple, because the vast majority of crime committed, for example, by young Moroccans (that is, by young Moroccan Muslims, Mr Jones - CM) - and you do have a problem there, there's no doubting that - are committed by people who've been born in Holland.  Are you suggesting stripping them of their citizenship?

Why not, Mr Jones?  Or the ancient punishment of Exile For the Term of Your Natural Life could be invoked, by western countries faced with violent sharia-crazed Muslims born on our soil, or with violent, sharia-crazed native-born citizens who have converted to Islam and in so doing have become, essentially, enemies to the land of their birth. - CM

GW: it doesn't matter.

TJ: Say that again.

GW: "Well, you know, in Holland, Moroccans automatically also have the Moroccan nationality even if they're born in the Netherlands, because the Moroccan law (mimicking sharia, which holds that any child of a Muslim is deemed to be Muslim also - CM) says that if one of the parents is Moroccan, the children wherever they are born in the world are Moroccan as well.  So any of these youth...and let me tell you, the Moroccan youth (that is, Moroccan Muslim youth - CM) in the Netherlands between the age of 14 and 23, two-thirds of them have been arrested by the police at least once in their life. Two thirds of the young..".

TJ: "Actually, I did look at your department, your department...It is a big problem, but you are exaggerating it.  The Department of Interior Statistics say 40 percent in that age group, not two thirds, which is 60 percent.

And TJ thinks 'only' 40 percent is nothing to worry about?  CM

GW: 'Yes, that was two years ago.  And if you would've looked at the latest report (which I am sure Mr Wilders has done, he is after all a Dutch parliamentarian with access to the most up-to-date information - CM) you would see that it's more than 60 percent today.

"But the point is, that since they are Moroccan and Dutch, if they commit crimes, if they commit serious crime - I'm not talking about driving through a red light, but if they commit serious crimes - I believe we should strip them indeed of the Dutch nationality and send them back to Morocco, as Morocco does [to foreigners who offend. - CM].

"If you are a Morocco citizen with a dual nationality, if you commit a crime in Morocco, you are stripped [of] Moroccan nationality and send to our own country.  We can learn from them in that respect.

Hmm.  I wonder how many originally-dual-nationality Moroccan-plus-something-else Muslim criminals - and, perhaps, jihad plotters and sharia-assassins - Morocco has managed to unload on the Netherlands (or, for that matter, on other European lands, such as France) by this neat trick: claim those born in this or that European country as 'Moroccan' and use them as political leverage; but if they're living in Morocco, and do something bad, they suddenly become nationals of the European country only, and are deposited in Europe.  Time and past time for the Europeans to put a stop to that little game.  - CM

TJ: "Does this mean you would only strip Islamic criminals of their passports and their citizenship or all criminals who came from another country? For example, if you came from Australia and committed a crime, you were Dutch, but you had an Australian origin, you would be sent back to Australia, would you?  Is it all criminals, or are you singling out Islamic criminals?

GW: "No, that would be ridiculous even for you to suggest.  I'm not a racist.  It would also go for Swedish people, for Australian people - but let me tell you, we have no problem in the Netherlands with Australian criminals, or with Swedish criminals.  We have a problem with, amongst others, Moroccan criminals.

With Moroccan Muslim criminals. And, I would hazard the guess, with Muslims of all kinds.  - CM

"Of course that would apply with anybody for any dual nationality, but the mere fact would be the reality, because we have overrepresentation of often Moroccan people and other people from Islamic background in a crime that they would be stripped of the Dutch nationality and sent away.  I don't know what's wrong with it: if you commit a crime, you've overstayed our welcome.  If I have guests in my house, and if they start messing up my kitchen or start getting a fire in any sleeping room, I would send them away...

TJ: "They're not guests in your house!  They are citizens in your country.  That's a very different thing.  They're not guest workers who just happen to be there.  They are people who are Dutch citizens who've been born in your country.

Well, Mr Jones? There is or used to be such a crime as Treason, which could be punished either by Exile, or by Execution; also, Sedition, Rebellion, and Insurrection; there is Infiltration and Subversion.  I advise you to read Sam Solomon and Elias Al-Muqdisi's deeply-disturbing little book about the thing that Islam calls 'hegira', "Modern-Day Trojan Horse: The Islamic Doctrine of Immigration", which is reviewed here:

and also to read Canon Dr Patrick Sookhdeo's 'Islam in Britain' and 'Faith, Power and Territory', which describe the processes by which the Ummah, or Mohammedan Mob, goes about gaining and then keeping temporal power over earthly turf and those who live there. - CM

GW:  "Well, yes, if you talk about Moroccans, indeed they are also, besides...

TJ: "All right, okay , you've made that point.  Okay.

GW: "But we also have a lot of people who are not Dutch, and who are in Holland as a guest, whether they are asylum seekers or others.  I believe if you commit a crime you overstay your welcome, if we could extradite you.

TJ: "Let's go through some of your other potential policies, were you to gain more power than you currently have.  You've got a five-year moratorium, was what you originally said, on migration from foreign countries.  You're now, I believe, saying that should be from Islamic countries; Islamic migration should be banned.  Isn't that against European rules?

GW: "I'm a politician.  I believe that we can change any rule that is there.  Once again, we have an enormous support within the Dutch public.  One million people voted for my party.  We are number three, and in the polls today even number two party, the second biggest party of Holland.  So we are not as you said in your introduction a far-right party.  If we would've been extreme, we would've got 0.01 percent of the vote. We got more than 10 percent of the vote."

"Why?  Because we address the problems of so many Dutch people that are afraid to go out in their neighbourhoods after 10 pm, who are afraid to send their children to school because of all the harassment they get from this parallel Islamic society.  And people are not extreme in Holland. We are one of the most tolerant societies in the world, and in order to stay tolerant, my party believes that we should stop being tolerant to the people who are intolerant to us.  We should start being intolerant to those who are intolerant to us.  This is not modern logic, this is not extreme, this is common sense."

TJ: "Can I ask why it is the values the solidarity of Dutch society is not strong enough to cope with the Islamic population of 6 percent? How can 6 percent overturn the values of your society?

Easily, if the 6 percent are Muslims who take Islam to heart, and if most of the remaining 84 percent do not stand up to them; if they do not realize, or refuse to realize, that the Muslims are, en bloc, making war upon them in many ways both small and great, physical and psychological.   - CM

GW: "Like I said, it's not just a Dutch problem.  I don't know if you've lately visited Europe, if you've been to the city of Malmo in Sweden, or to Berlin, or to Hamburg, or to London, or to Paris in the suburbs, or Rotterdam in my own country.  You see many cities where there is a city within a city - where even today in the United Kingdom - I don't know if you're aware of that - there are even sharia courts active, where it's rulings that the worth of a woman is half of that of a man."

"You see crime, and you see all the things happening, unfortunately all over Europe, because of (a) the mass immigration but (b) also because of we politicians are not able to deal with it.  We are politically correct, we are afraid to address the problem.  Because if you address the problem like I do, people like you call us evil extreme, or you're being taken to court, or you will get death threats in [sic: against - CM] your life.  There is a big disincentive to talk about the truth.  I will speak the truth...

TJ: "Sorry, I don't mean to interrupt you (suuuure he doesn't - CM) but we are sort of running out of time, and I want to get to a couple of other things.

"I mean, when you got the balance of power, the government under your influence basically got rid of multiculturalism in Holland.  Ended the concept of multiculturalism in Holland.

"We're to have an election this year in Australia.  There are senior figures in the Coalition, that is the conservative party, who are seriously questioning multiculturalism in Australia.  Will you be encouraging that debate when you come here?

GW: "I don't want to get involved in Australian politics.  That's up to you.  You are a democracy, and Australian people should decide who they will vote for, and I'm not mingling or interfering in that at all.  I just want to say that the multiculturalism - and especially the cultural relativism which is even worse than multiculturalism, the concept that all cultures are equal - is the worst recipe for any society.

"So yes, I believe that we should like I said before define who we are and in order to do that you have to know what you are not.  And I'm proud to be a member of a society that is based, whose values are based on Christianity, Judaism and humanism.  I never would like to be a country that is that multicultural that, for instance, the Islamic values become more dominant. We should not do that.  We should stop that.

Yes.- CM

"I'm not against other cultures, but I believe what the Germans call a 'leitkultur', a dominant culture that we should have, even in our constitution state, what our dominant culture is and that our laws should apply to that culture and to no other one.

TJ: "Finally, it's been reported that you are coming with your own personal protection team of Dutch Secret Service.  I don't know if that's true.  But if it is I'm wondering what sort of reception you are expecting in Australia, and are you worried - because there have been many threats to your life in Holland - whether that could happen here?

GW: " I hope you understand that I'm always advised and I follow that advice never to talk about security issues, so I cannot tell you who will be accompanying me and why, because that would only make myself more vulnerable.  So I will not talk about that".

"But yes indeed, I hope - I'm a democrat.  I'm a democratically elected politician from the Netherlands representing one of the major parties in Holland - I hope that I will be able to talk and to discuss with people.  Not only people I agree with - it's very easy to talk to people you agree with - but also people you disagree with, maybe even Australian politicians.

"Don't be afraid of me.

"I'm a law maker, I'm not a law breaker. And I'm just telling the truth.

"And I want Australia, a country and a people that I respect very much - any Dutchman knows [about] the young Australians that fought for our freedom in the First and Second World Wars - I hope I can tell you what happened in Europe and support you in your fight to preserve freedom for your children and your grandchildren, and tell them what I believe the Islamic threat is and to discuss it with anybody - also [with] people who don't agree with me.  This is democracy. This is civil society.  We should cherish that.

Bravo, Mr Wilders. - CM

TJ: "Very briefly before we go, you mentioned politicians there.  Of course you have had contact with Senator Cory Bernardi of the Liberal Party.  Do you intend to see him or other politicians when you're in the country?

GW: "Well, I met Mr Bernardi in Holland.  I believe you are in an election now.  I believe it might be more difficult for him to meet me now.  I think he doesn't intend to do that.  I understand that this is politics.  The friend from yesterday can have an argument not to see you tomorrow.  It's sad but true.

It is sad, if Mr Bernardi has chickened out and will not be meeting Mr Wilders nor coming to hear him speak. - CM

"But I'm open to meet any politician in Australia, to meet any person; I think we can learn from one another.  I believe I have an important message, and we are fighting the same fight, which is the fight for freedom in Australia, in Holland, and in Europe."

TJ: "Geert Wilders, it's a long discussion that needs to be had with you.  We've had a, I think, small portion of it here tonight.  We thank you very much for taking the time to come and talk to us."

GW: "It's my pleasure.  I'm looking forward to meeting your country next week".

And many of us in Australia are looking forward to meeting Mr Wilders, one of the bravest men in Europe. - CM

Posted on 02/13/2013 7:25 PM by Christina McIntosh

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