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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
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edited by S.B. Kelly
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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
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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 Thursday, 14, 2012.
Thursday, 14 June 2012
Child grooming scandals only 'tip of the iceberg', says Government minister

But he still won't mention the M word. From the Telegraph

Tim Loughton, the children's minister, said there is a "real problem in this country" with exploitation of children. The MP spoke out after a series of recent cases in which men have been jailed for grooming young girls for sex.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Loughton said he has long though the grooming of children for sex is "much bigger problem than it may appear now on the radar".

"We are only seeing the tip of the iceberg now," he said. "For too long it was something of a taboo issue in this country, little spoken about, little appreciated, little acknowledged or dealt with. . . "

It isn't taboo when the authorities impose ever rigorous  checks on scoutmasters and Sunday school teachers, everyone of which the church or youth organisation has to pay for. And you need a certificate for every instance of voluntary work you undertake with children, everyone of which raises a fee. If you help with the Guides, thats one certificate, via the Girl Guide Association. If you then help with the same children at the same church in Sunday School you need a second certificate via the diocese. If you then volunteer to help with reading in the local school you need a child certificate via the Local Authority. I only have two certificates - I know a young man, a student teacher, who volunteers at his home church and at the church near where he studies who needs eight. The only taboo is mentioning when the perpetrators are motivated by the example of Mohammed with his child wife and his young slaves and his razzia raids.

Mr Loughton yesterday said the authorities must not "shy away from difficult issues around culture" when addressing the exploitation of children. He said the case raised "very troubling questions about the attitude of the perpetrators, all but one of whom were from Pakistani backgrounds, towards white girls".

But he said there were victims and exploiters from "all social and ethnic sets as well".

Posted on 06/14/2012 2:14 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thursday, 14 June 2012
Trinidad - Jury views video'demanding' Zakaat

From the Trinidad Express

THE video recording of the sermon given by Jamaat-al-Muslimeen leader Imam Yasin Abu Bakr, during an Eid-ul-Fitr function six years ago, was viewed yesterday by members of the jury in the trial in which he is charged with communicating a statement having seditious intention.

Bakr, 70, of La Puerta, Diego Martin is also charged with two counts of inciting to demand with menaces with intent to steal, and endeavouring to provoke a breach of the peace.

The trial is being heard before Justice Mark Mohammed and a nine-member jury with six alternates in the Third Assize Court at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain. Interesting name - Muslim surname but Christian name that of not just any old saint but one of the four evangelists. Is the son or grandson of an apostate?

Mano Ragbir (a cameraman at television station CNC 3) testified yesterday that about 350 to 400 male members (average age 25) of the Jamaat were present and sitting on the floor of the mosque when Bakr spoke about the collection and distribution of Zakaat. The women, he said, were located on a balcony.

Bakr told the congregation that the system of collecting and distributing Zakaat was designed by the Muslim prophet Muhammad for the purpose of eradicating poverty among the Muslim community.

"And the way we are doing this Zakaat in Trinidad, we are doing it wrong," Bakr said. "And that is the reason why Muslims in Trinidad are so weak and oppressed because they are not doing what Allah (God) say to do in terms of the Zakaat.

"The Zakaat is paid on your jewelry, the Zakaat is paid if you have money in the credit union, the Zakaat is paid if you have money in the bank, the Zakaat is paid if you have cattle, if you have goats, if you have sheep. The Zakaat is paid if you have a big garden, if you have produce. The Zakaat is paid on all these things and anytime you do not pay the Zakaat, Allah lower you down to the level—headed for the destruction.

"If Allah give you a promise that he will provide for you and he would provide for the children, how come you are poor? You either doing something that you not supposed to do, or you not doing something what you are supposed to do, or somebody has taken your sustenance, in which case you go and take it back."

Bakr said the nation's wealth, derived from the natural resources provided by Allah for all citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, was not being equally shared.

"If somebody takes something that belongs to you and they do not want to give it back to you, then it is your duty, in the Quran (Muslim holy book), by the support of Allah, to take it back from them. It is yours and somebody took it away from you..."

Bakr said Prophet Muhammad used to designate people to go and collect Zakaat.

"The Muslims in this country, they making joke because I don't know who we have in this community (who) could send anybody to collect any Zakaat from these so-called Muslims who rich. So that is why I'm saying now, we going to put it in place. And I could foresee a war. I am not serious. Listen to what I am saying, I am dead serious. There is going to be a big war in the Muslim community—a real war. Lives may be lost but there is going to be a war in the Muslim community, come next year, about the collection and distribution of Zakaat."

CASE AT A GLANCE Jamaat-al-Muslimeen leader Imam Yasin Abu Bakr, 70, is charged with:• unlawfully inciting persons present to demand with menaces property of members of the Muslim community who are not members of the Jamaat- al-Muslimeen;• unlawfully inciting persons present to demand with menaces property of (former head of the Inter-Religious Organisation) Noble Khan, with intention to steal. • unlawfully inciting persons present to commit a breach of the peace by enforcing the collection of Zakaat against members of the Muslim community who are not members of the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen; and • uttering a seditious speech, the purport of which was to engender and promote in his listeners feelings of ill- will or hostility between members of the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen and other members of the Muslim community who are not members of the Jamaat- al-Muslimeen.

I thought at first he was inciting his congrgation to go out and extract jizia by force from the non-muslim population but I fear that would have come later.

Posted on 06/14/2012 6:25 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thursday, 14 June 2012
Germany: Police raid radical Salafists nationwide

From the German edition of The Local and Deutsche Welle  

Around 1,000 police officers have been deployed in raids on radical Salafist Islamist groups across Germany, with early reports suggesting around 70 addresses were targeted in seven states. Police were searching more than 70 premises looking for evidence that the Islamists in question were seeking to bring down Germany's democratic system of government, which would be a criminal offense.

Salafist groups the Dawaffm, Millatu Ibrahim and Die Wahre Religion (The True Religion) were the particular focus of the raids which were carried out in Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein, Lower Saxony, Berlin, Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia and Hesse.

Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich banned the Solingen-based Salafist mosque network Millatu Ibrahim at the same time. "This association is against our constitutional order and against the philosophy of understanding between nations," he said on Thursday morning.

Salafism is considered the fastest-growing branch of Islam in Germany and is considered radical, and even dangerous, for its fundamental views. Believers want a theocracy governed by Sharia or Islamic religious law. Strict Salafists reject social liberality and try to live what they see as “pure” Islamic lives, imitating how they consider the early Muslims lived – they would see all women completely veiled, and regard homosexuality as a serious sin. It is thought there are around 4,000 believers in Germany.

It became clear that their influence could be deadly after Arid Uka, a Kosovan German Salafist believer was jailed for life in February for killing two American soldiers at Frankfurt Airport in March 2011.

Posted on 06/14/2012 6:47 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thursday, 14 June 2012
Pseudsday Phthursday

Until I read the TLS today I didn't know there was such a thing as a "remixologist". Katherine Hayles reviews Remix the Book by the improbably monickered Mark Amerika.

Writing an incantatory prose lineated as poetry [does this just mean prose with the line breaks in silly places? -- M.J.] Amerika performs as well as explains, an artistic practice he calls "remixology". He "samples" Alfred North Whitehead, Nam June Paik, Allen Ginsberg and a host of others, in his role as "VJ Professor" (by analogy with a DJ, a VJ improvises a mixture of video images as well as sounds). Such performances are "postproductions" (because they sample from pre-existing material) carried out "with just in time/ source material as part of an open-source lifestyle". "Remixologists", then, are artists who

stand with their hyperimprovisational instruments
on whatever ground of the moment
they happen to be playing on as they
port their narrative/network potential
and its manifest aesthetic facts
into the compositional playing field
their novelty generation operates in

[...] In Amerika's vision, the artist's goal is to work towards an ecstatic state in which he is consciously and unconsciously performing in sync with complex feedback loops.

But who will sample the samplers? Someone, presumably a re-remixologist, called Rick Silva whose "art and research has been supported through grants and commissions from places such as Turbulence, Rhizome, and The Whitney Museum of American Art":

The “Isarithm” remix is sourced from the 184 sections of Mark Amerika’s “Sentences on Remixology 1.0” essay. Each sentence becomes a 30 frame video multi-verse where forms oscillate between intelligible lines and illegible texts. The video is accompanied by Woulg’s music which samples Mark Amerika’s “Consider the Is” audio reading.

Remixing should not be confused with free mixing. The latter is forbidden by the Koran, but presumably not the former, since the Koran is itself a re-re-remix of Judaism, Christianity, pagan Arab myths and the desires of that arch-sampler/remixologist Mohammed.

Posted on 06/14/2012 9:50 AM by Mary Jackson
Thursday, 14 June 2012
A Cinematic Musical Interlude: Mambo Italiano (Sophia Loren, Vittorio De Sica)
Watch, and listen, here.
Posted on 06/14/2012 9:57 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 14 June 2012
Aerial photographs of London at dawn

I would give my eye teeth to have taken these.

Posted on 06/14/2012 10:28 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thursday, 14 June 2012
Alex Awad Agrees to Remove Fake Ben Gurion Quote From DVD

Rev. Alex Awad has agreed to remove a quote falsely attributed to Israel's first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion from a DVD of his presentation “A Palestinian Perspective on the Arab-Israeli Conflict.”

This DVD, which was available for sale for $10 at the gift shop of the Bethlehem Bible College during the Christ at the Checkpoint Conference in March, showcases Rev. Awad as he recounts the story of his mother Huda Awad, who raised seven children after her husband was tragically killed in a crossfire during the 1948 War. Awad also provides a badly distorted chronology of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

One of the more egregious problems of his presentation is his use of a quote falsely attributed to Israel's first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion. During his talk, Rev. Alex quotes Ben Gurion as having said “We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population.” He reads the quote from a Powerpoint slide displayed on a screen behind him. Here is the slide:

The quote is attributed to Ben-Gurion, A Biography, By Michael Ben-Zohard (Delactore, New York 1978). The quote does not appear in this text, nor does it appear in another document regularly cited as a source – the Koenig Memorandum about dealing with Israel's Arab citizens published in 1976. The quote, like others falsely attributed to Ben Gurion, appears regularly on anti-Israel websites.

CAMERA informed Rev. Awad that the quote was fake. In response, Rev. Awad thanked CAMERA for alerting him to the "possibility" that the quote is not accurate, stated he hasn't used the quote for many years and that he will remove it from future editions of the DVD.

Rev. Awad serves as Dean of Students and full-time instructor at Bethlehem Bible College in Bethlehem, and is a Commissioned Mission Partner with the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church. Rev. Awad was a prominent supporter of the a resolution calling on the UMC to divest from three companies that do business with Israel. The resolution failed.

First published at CAMERA.
Posted on 06/14/2012 11:55 AM by Dexter Van Zile
Thursday, 14 June 2012
Alex Joffe On "Palestinian" Muslims And The Fabrication Of History

From The Middle East Quarterly:

For nearly two decades the Palestinian Authority (PA) has been denying Israel's right to exist, and a recent "Nakba Day" was no exception. In a Gaza speech on behalf of Mahmoud Abbas, his personal representative made the following statement:

National reconciliation [between Hamas and Fatah] is required in order to face Israel and Netanyahu. We say to him [Netanyahu], when he claims that they [Jews] have a historical right dating back to 3000 years B.C.E.—we say that the nation of Palestine upon the land of Canaan had a 7,000-year history B.C.E. This is the truth, which must be understood, and we have to note it, in order to say: "Netanyahu, you are incidental in history. We are the people of history. We are the owners of history."[1]

This remarkable assertion has been almost completely ignored by the Western media. Yet it bears a thorough examination: not only as an indication of unwavering Palestinian rejection of Israel's right to exist but as an insightful glimpse into the psyche of their willfully duped Western champions.

Unpacking Abbas's Speech

Archaeologists have only the dimmest notion of prevailing ethnic concepts in 7000 B.C.E. There may have been tribes and clans of some sort, and villages may have had names and a sense of collective or local identity, but their nature is completely unknown. Even with the elaborate symbolism of the period, as seen in figurines, and other data such as the styles of stone tools and house plans, nothing whatsoever is known regarding the content of the makers' identities. Writing would not be invented for almost another 4,000 years and would only reach the Levant a thousand years after that, bringing with it the ability to record a society's own identity concepts.

There were no Jews or Arabs, Canaanites, Israelites, or Egyptians. There were only Neolithic farmers and herders. In fact, none of the concepts that Abbas used developed until vastly later. The Plst—a Mediterranean group known to the Egyptians as one of the "Sea Peoples" and who gave their name to the biblical Philistines—arrived around 1200 B.C.E. Arabs are known in Mesopotamian texts as residents of the Arabian Peninsula from around 900 B.C.E. The concept of a "nation" emerged with the kingdoms of Israel and Judah and their neighbors sometime after 900 B.C.E. The Romans renamed the Kingdom of Judea "Palestina" after the biblically attested Philistines, the hated enemy of the Israelites, following the defeat of the Bar Kochba revolt in 135 C.E. The ethnic identity called "Palestinian," denoting the local Muslim and Christian inhabitants of the region south of Lebanon and West of the Jordan River, tenuously developed as an elite concept at the end of the Ottoman era and did not propagate to the grassroots until the 1920s and 1930s.[2]

Is there perhaps genetic continuity between modern Palestinians and Neolithic farmers and herders? Perhaps, but that is not what Abbas claimed. Is there cultural continuity, a nation with a name? Hardly.

Types of Palestinian Rhetoric

Why then should Abbas make such an incredible fabrication? And why lie in such a ludicrous and extravagant fashion? Part of the answer is that for Abbas, as it was for PLO leader Yasser Arafat before him, there is a reflex that simply and absolutely cannot accept the antiquity of Jews. Arafat famously told then-U.S. president Bill Clinton that there was no Jewish temple in Jerusalem, causing the usually unflappable Clinton to nearly explode.[3] Denials regarding the Jewish historical connection to the Land of Israel generally and categorical denials that Jews constitute a nation are all frequently heard from Palestinian leaders, intellectuals, and others.

A useful avenue of investigation is to consider Abbas's words as a type of rhetoric with a form and underlying philosophy. When viewed in this way, Abbas's spokesman was not lying as such but doing something else.

As philosopher Harry Frankfurt put it

The fact about himself that the bullshitter hides … is that the truth-values of his statements are of no central interest to him; what we are not to understand is that his intention is neither to report the truth nor to conceal it … A person who lies is thereby responding to the truth, and he is to that extent respectful of it … For the bullshitter, however, all these bets are off: He is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false. His eye is not on the facts at all, as the eyes of the honest man and of the liar are, except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose.[4]

As Frankfurt describes it, such nonsensical rhetoric is constructed impulsively and without thought—entirely out of whole cloth. It is unconcerned with truth and so, unlike a lie, has license to be panoramic, unconcerned with context. The user is endeavoring to bluff, and the desire for effect is paramount. Whereas lying is austere and rigorous because it must triangulate against truth, nonsense loses, and loosens, the grasp on reality. In that sense, its effect is corrosive, a matter not discussed by Frankfurt.

Stating nonsense to suit one's purpose is only one of three obvious Palestinian rhetorical strategies. Lying, knowingly distorting the truth, is another. A paradigmatic example of this is "Pallywood," the staging of scenes for news cameras. These have ranged from orchestrated street scenes and rioting, which sometimes include fake casualties who leap off of stretchers when out of sight, to destroyed structures and grieving families, to manipulated photographs. Above all there was the so-called Jenin massacre of 2002 and the Muhammad al-Dura case in 2000. In the former, Palestinians accused Israelis of having killed hundreds or thousands of civilians and bulldozing their bodies into mass graves, deliberate lies that were then repeated by human rights organizations. In fact, some fifty-two Palestinian gunmen and twenty-three Israeli soldiers were killed in brutal house to house fighting.[5]

Stating nonsense to suit one's purpose is only one Palestinian rhetorical strategy. Knowingly distorting the truth is another. An example of this is "Pallywood," the staging of scenes for news cameras. This photograph was widely distributed with the observers cropped out and promoted as a picture of an Israel Defense Forces soldier stomping on a Palestinian child. The uniform is not an IDF uniform; the boots are not IDF boots, and the weapon is not one used by the IDF.

In the Dura case, a Palestinian stringer for French television purported to have observed a Palestinian father and son caught in a firefight in Gaza, during the course of which the boy appeared to have been killed. The iconic martyrdom and funeral of the boy became an international symbol of Israeli brutality. But examination of withheld footage showed other Palestinian "wounded" getting up and walking around and contained no death throes of the Dura boy. In fact, grave doubts exist whether a boy died at all in the exchange and whether his father was injured. A series of lawsuits have not resolved the situation, but the impact of what is at least in large part a fabrication is clear.[6] As French journalist Catherine Nay wrote with satisfaction, Dura's supposed death "cancels, erases that of the Jewish child, his hands in the air before the SS in the Warsaw Ghetto."[7] This statement holds the key to understanding the reception of Palestinian rhetoric in Europe. It is a means to erode historical and moral realities regarding the European treatment of the Jews, and it is eagerly embraced in some quarters.

The third Palestinian approach is to propagandize through the lens of pure ideology, specifically Islam. Thus, for example, the former Jerusalem mufti and chairman of the Supreme Islamic Council in Jerusalem, Ekrima Sabri, was recently quoted as saying "after twenty-five years of digging, archaeologists are unanimous that not a single stone has been found related to Jerusalem's alleged Jewish history." This statement is patently false, but the orientation of the religious lens is obvious, indeed, he goes on to state clearly: "We do not recognize any change to the status of Jerusalem, and we reserve our religious, historic, geographic, and cultural heritage in the city, no matter how long or how many generations succeed."[8] Islamic doctrine as it has evolved today simply cannot accept the reality of the Jewish connection to Jerusalem precisely on religious grounds. Sabri is, therefore, neither lying nor fabricating reality to suit his purposes but rather expressing what he regards as a true religious belief. This works in concert with lies and nonsense.

Swallowing Palestinian Rhetoric

Palestinian efforts to minimize or expunge Jews from history go back several decades but have intensified in recent years. Palestinian intellectuals make their own important contributions: Hayel Sanduqa recently claimed that the expression in Psalm 137:5, "If I forget thee, oh Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill" was authored by a Crusader king and stolen by "Zionists."[9]

Palestinian denial of any Jewish connections to Israel and allegations that Israel is "Judaizing" Jerusalem are so routine as to be unheard by Israelis, accustomed as they are to Palestinian leaders blustering, lying, and simply making things up, from trivial allegations regarding Israeli "libido-increasing chewing gum" distributed in Gaza[10] to heinous allegations of all manner of war crimes. This is unfortunate since such claims of "Judaization," largely by means of archaeological excavations and infrastructure modernization, featured for decades in international forums such as UNESCO,[11] are central to the global efforts to delegitimize Israel by elevating the Islamic status of Jerusalem.[12]

By and large, the lack of Arab media attention suggests that they also take Palestinian claims with a heaping teaspoon of salt. In the absence of open warfare between Israel and the Palestinians, Arab media today appear preoccupied with more important events in Syria, Egypt, Iran, and elsewhere. Even so, why has there been so little attention to Abbas's statement?

The Palestinian reception of rhetoric such as Abbas's is a critical question. Palestinian nationalist rhetoric since the early 1920s was characterized by what even Palestinian-American historian Rashid Khalidi has called "overheated prose."[13] From the beginning, it was also suffused with local, pan-Arab and Islamic themes that were sometimes complementary but often in tension with one another. In general, Palestinian rhetoric today takes place in an environment that has been progressively Islamized over the past two decades by Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), in part through competition with Hamas and other Islamist and jihadist movements.[14] Islamic themes and imagery have helped frame and elaborate political discourse and in turn have intensified the Islamic dimension of Palestinian collective identity.[15]

While a full study of language and cognition in Palestinian culture is beyond the scope of this article, it is useful to bear in mind the analysis of Arab societies as "high context" cultures. In such cultures, the domination of in-groups with similar experiences and expectations requires fewer but more carefully selected words that convey complex messages using inferences supplied by the listener. By contrast, communications in "low context" cultures are not aimed at in-groups and, therefore, tend to be more explicit.[16]

Seen in this light, Palestinian political statements regarding their Neolithic origins and continuity, which can be regarded in historical, rhetorical, and philosophical terms as completely fictional, might be understood as simply innovative shorthand communications to an in-group. On the one hand, it nominally cites Western scientific frameworks, which demonstrates a sort of modernist orientation. But on the other, the emotive power and real intention is largely supplied by the listener, who hears in effect that Palestinians have existed forever, along with the implication that this fact is supported by history or even science.

Together with lies and ideological speech, fictional nonsense helps shape Palestinian culture, beliefs, and political behavior. To say that this is at odds with objective reality as recovered by science is to miss the point. To some unknowable but large degree, this is Palestinian reality. What from the outside appears to be disjointed and nonsensical bits in reality are seamless parts of a larger Palestinian whole, beliefs about the history, the world, culture, and the self. The question then becomes the relationship of that reality to others. And here the matter of media as a conduit and interpreter becomes paramount.

The problem is that in-group statements and the reality they create are never restricted to the in-group. Western reception of rhetorical nonsense varies widely. Western media have been silent about the Neolithic Palestinian nation, and this is most instructive. The simplest explanation why Abbas's comments were not mentioned in Western press accounts is that literal nonsense from Palestinians simply does not register. Although it is not acknowledged, to some extent Palestinian nonsense is likely recognized as such by Western media and filtered out, at least semiconsciously, as "overheated prose." Ironically, of course, objections to such cultural stereotyping are characteristic of the Orientalist critique although they are rarely made when such analyses come from Arab sources.

Willing Infidels

What Israelis regard as incitement—rhetoric designed to inflame populations and move them to hatred and violence—thus seems to register as mere epiphenomena to other Western audiences, who appear to seek a simple, moralistic tale with materialist underpinnings. By and large, Western media in particular, abetted by intellectuals, have created a singular distortion zone around "Israel/Palestine"—turning it into a clear-cut morality tale of colonial white people with F-16s oppressing indigenous brown people with stones and the odd suicide bomber.

A recent study of how the Arab-Israeli conflict is treated by the Reuters news agency noted the pervasive use of appeals to pity and to poverty, innuendo, euphemisms and loaded words, multiple standards and asymmetrical definitions, card-stacking, symbolic fictions, and atrocity propaganda, along with non-sequiturs and red herrings. The study concludes that "Reuters engages in systematically biased storytelling in favor of the Arabs/Palestinians and is able to influence audience affective behavior and motivate direct action along the same trajectory."[17]

For most journalists engaged with the moralistic narrative, fantastic stories about Palestinians having existed 9,000 years ago do not even rise to the level of cognitive dissonance; it is, for now, nonsense discourse and anti-realism. But another factor for the lack of Western attention to such statements is found in Frankfurt's discourse on nonsensical rhetoric; the sincerity of the user cannot be challenged since to do so would require making fundamental judgments. To preserve the fiction of rational interlocutors, sincerity must be accepted as a token of trustworthiness even as the simple words of the statement contradict such claims.

Three other factors also play a role: the postmodern downgrading of objectivity and the idea of a single shared reality; the elevation of multiple narratives as being equally valid, and the valuation of feelings over facts. Challenging rhetorical nonsense, in addition to potentially compromising journalistic access, could hurt interlocutors' feelings.

There is more than a little condescension at work in the Western reception of these strategies if not actual contempt. For one thing, Palestinians lies and nonsense are rarely challenged by the media or other interpreters besides those termed Israel advocates, something that has itself been transformed into a negative semantic and social category. It is almost as if Palestinians are expected simply to make things up as they go along, which then may or may not be accepted by the West according to how well they fit the Palestinian narrative.

Ideological religious statements are similarly ignored but in all likelihood for different reasons. Non-religious Western observers simply have no intellectual framework to interpret such strong statements outside materialist constructs that regard religion generally as epiphenomenal or false consciousness. For these reasons, the Islamic rather than nationalistic basis for the Arab-Israeli conflict has been systematically downplayed from the 1930s. Even the Hamas charter—which is nothing but forthright regarding its religious basis, theological anti-Semitism, and calls for genocide—is largely excluded from journalistic and even academic analyses because it makes no sense within the context of frameworks that are exclusively nationalistic and materialist in nature.

But the eagerness with which certain lies are accepted, such as talk of Israeli war crimes, and the flimsy nature of Western journalistic investigations strongly shows that at least two additional levels of bias are at work. At one level, the narrative of the oppressed underdog is so strong that there is little inclination to press for truths that would undermine that narrative, embarrass the Palestinians, and in doing so, incur their wrath and limit the media access they give to their territories, sources, and stories. At the deeper level, as perfectly illustrated by the quote from Catherine Nay above, there is a deep need to find Israelis guilty in order to relieve Holocaust guilt (and, one might argue cynically, to get back to old-fashioned anti-Semitism) particularly among European descendents of its perpetrators. The satisfaction of making this so is palpable.

These factors also illustrate how the Palestinian narrative, even with ludicrous bits thrown in and others excluded, is arguably not by or even about the Palestinians. It is propelled largely by Western needs to see the world through the post-colonial lens of noble indigenes and evil Western colonists. The Palestinians may in fact have lost exclusive control of the narrative decades ago, perhaps as far back as the 1920s or 1930s, when their cause was taken over by the Arab states and the Muslim world. A more comprehensive view of the Palestinian narrative would see them as secondary contributors to a process propelled by Arab and Muslim states and refracted through Western media and universities, ultimately minor subjects in a far larger discussion between Islam and the West.

The problem is that, thanks to mindless parroting by journalists and human rights organizations of Palestinian lies and nonsense, hatred, anti-Semitism, and ceaseless incitement are gradually overwhelming the filters against anti-realism, particularly in Europe where there are powerful cultural incentives to think ill of Jews and wish ill for Israelis. The effects of this process are seen even more clearly throughout the Arab and Muslim worlds where, though free of Jews, anti-Semitism is all-pervasive.


An example of the erosion of Western critical filters was the unchallenged appearance of an opinion piece in The Washington Post in December 2011 that effectively repeated some of Abbas's absurd statements regarding the antiquity of the Palestinians. Maen Rashid Areikat, the PLO representative to the United Nations, stated that Palestinians had "lived under the rule of a plethora of empires: the Canaanites, Egyptians, Philistines, Israelites, Persians, Greeks, Crusaders, Mongols, Ottomans, and finally, the British." Throwing history out the window, he added

we are Arabs with black, brown, and white skin, dark- and light-colored eyes, and the whole gamut of hair types. Like Americans, we are a hybrid of peoples defined by one overarching identity. Many in the United States forget that Palestinians are Muslims and Christians. They ignore the fact that Palestinian Christians are the descendants of Jesus and guardians of the cradle of Christianity.[18]

Palestinians can simultaneously be Arabs, who arrived in the Levant in the seventh century C.E., and be more ancient than the Canaanites. At the same time, the empires they endured and that infused them include everyone except Arab ones, notably the Umayyad and Abbasid, which brought Arabs and Islam to the region in the first place. The fact-checkers of The Washington Post editorial page fall mute and shared reality is eroded further. Unfortunately this sort of rhetorical nonsense resonates deeply, especially with some Christian supersessionists committed to anti-Zionism.[19] History no longer matters.

It is often stated that peace can only come when Israelis and Palestinians recognize one another's narratives. Claims regarding the Neolithic Palestinian nation indicate this unlikely to occur either in the future or in the past. In the meantime, anti-reality continues to spread.

Alex Joffe is a New York-based writer on history and international affairs. His web site is

[1] Palestinian TV (Fatah), May 14, 2011.
[2] Louis H. Feldman, "Some Observations on the Name of Palestine," Hebrew Union College Annual, 61 (1990): 1-23.
[3] "Camp David and After: An Exchange, An Interview with Ehud Barak," The New York Review of Books, June 13, 2001.
[4] Harry Frankfurt, On Bullshit (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005), p. 56.
[5] See the essays in Hersh Goodman and Jonathan Cummings, eds., The Battle of Jenin: A Case Study in Israel's Communications Strategy (Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv University, Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, 2003).
[6] Philippe Karsenty, "We Need to Expose the Muhammad al-Dura Hoax," Middle East Quarterly, Fall 2008, pp. 57-65; Nidra Poller, "The Muhammad al-Dura Hoax and Other Myths Revived," Middle East Quarterly, Fall 2011, pp. 71-8.
[7] Ivan Rioufol, "Les médias, pouvoir intouchable?" Le Figaro (Paris), June 13, 2008.
[8] Ahlul Bayt News Agency (Qom, Iran), June 23, 2011.
[9] Palestinian TV (Fatah), June 2, 2011, at Palestinian Media Watch, accessed Mar. 1, 2012.
[10] YNet News (Tel Aviv), July 13, 2009.
[11] See, for example, the summary in Craig Larkin and Michael Dumper, "UNESCO and Jerusalem: Constraints, Challenges and Opportunities," Jerusalem Quarterly, Autumn 2009, pp. 16-28.
[12] Yitzhak Reiter, Jerusalem and Its Role in Islamic Solidarity (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), pp. 70-149.
[13] Rashid Khalidi, Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009), p. 258, n. 76.
[14] Hillel Frisch, "Nationalizing a Universal Text: The Quran in Arafat's Rhetoric," Middle Eastern Studies, May 2005, pp. 321-36.
[15] Mahmoud Mi'ari, "Transformation of Collective Identity in Palestine," Journal of Asian and African Studies, Dec. 2009, pp. 579-98.
[16] Rhonda S. Zaharna, "Understanding Cultural Preferences of Arab Communications Patterns," Public Relations Review, 21 (1995): 241-55.
[17] Henry I. Silverman, "Reuters: Principles of Trust or Propaganda?" Journal of Applied Business Research, Nov./Dec. 2011, pp. 93-116.
[18] Maen Rashid Areikat, "Palestine, a history rich and deep," The Washington Post, Dec. 27, 2011.
[19] David Wenkel, "Palestinians, Jebusites, and Evangelicals," Middle East Quarterly, Summer 2007, pp. 49-56.

Posted on 06/14/2012 6:01 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 14 June 2012
Legal Machinations Over Murfreesboro Mosque Rulings

Imam Bahloul of Islam Center of Murfreesboro

Source: Daily News Journal, Murfreesboro

This is the week not to be believed in Murfreesboro given the legal machinations over the recent ruling by Rutherford County Court  Chancellor, Robert E. Corlew III on June 1st. That ruling declared that Rutherford County Regional Planning Commission approvals granted following a hearing in May 2010 were invalid and that construction on the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro (ICM) must cease. Chancellor Corlew’s June 1st ruling resulted from a two day hearing in April brought by Mosque opponents based on apparent evidence that adequate notice was not given to County residents under the provisions of the State’s Sunshine Laws. The May 24, 2010 Regional Planning Commission approval gave the green light for site approval and construction of the ICM mega mosque complex of 53,000 square feet on 15 plus acres at a site on 2700 Veals Road purchased in November 2009. Chancellor Corwell ruled against the mosque opponents in a 2011 decision that enabled the ICM mega mosque project to proceed with construction.

However, Chancellor Corlew’s June 1st order required Plaintiffs to file a Writ of Mandamus to stop construction, or so they thought. That  motion was filed on June 6th to stop construction of the  first phase of the 12,500 square feet of the ICM mega mosque nearing completion. This is just prior to the July 20th onset of the month long Islamic holy period of Ramadan. 

Monday, the Regional County Planning Commission went into closed executive session, apparently permitted under a 1984 Tennessee Law, and voted 6 to 1 to appeal Corlew’s June 1st ruling which they deemed discriminatory under Tennessee and Federal Law. The Regional Planning Commission did not indicate whether they might reopen the approval process as suggested in Corlew’s June 1st order.  

The Daily News Journal  (DNJ) noted this comment from lead Plaintiff Kevin Fisher about the Regional Planning Commission decision:

“I have no doubt whatsoever that the rights of the local citizens to be notified will be upheld,” Fisher said. “What I find tragic is that we have a county government so arrogant, so corrupted by power, they are willing to trample on the rights of law abiding citizens in the name of political correctness. Political correctness has no place in this debate. This issue was judged solely on the merits of the facts alone, not hype and angry rhetoric. That’s an honorable standard to set, and only in America is this even possible. To now challenge this standard is offensive to all of us who long for a day when one's race, creed, color or religion plays no part in discussions, and where the only issue of relevance is merit.”

On Wednesday, a hearing was held before Chancellor Corlew on the Plaintiffs’ Writ of Mandamus motion that resulted in a possible hold on the County’s issuance of a certificate of occupancy for the ICM Mega Mosque project. The DNJ noted this latest development:

Chancellor Robert Corlew ruled Wednesday that the Rutherford County government can’t issue a certificate of occupancy for the mosque because of a previous ruling he issued voiding action at the 2010 planning meeting in which the mosque site plan had been approved.

The Chancellor reminded county officials Wednesday of his previous decision that they had the option to place the mosque construction plans back on a future meeting agenda, give proper adequate notice and vote on the issue without discriminating against the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro.

The mosque opponents and plaintiffs still have additional tolling requirements to fulfill given a related ruling by Chancellor. The DNJ noted:

Corlew rejected a request from plaintiffs to force the county to stop work on the ICM. Court procedures require a 30-day wait before plaintiffs can file such a motion, meaning they will have to wait until July 2.

ICM board member Saleh Sbetany gave vent to their allegations of discrimination:

Sbenaty said. “But because of pressure from a few radical, narrow-minded people who are opposing the construction of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, they have to bend the rules to satisfy their Islamophobia. This is not fair. The United States in the 21st century does not discriminate because of race or color or religious belief. Reapplying to us is not a matter of formality. It’s a matter of principle.”  

Thursday evening, the Rutherford County Commission met to discuss regular business. Two issues related to the ICM mega mosque controversy were addressed; the Planning Commission Appeal of Chancellor Corlew’s rulings on June 1st and June 13th and renewal of County Attorney Jim Cope’s contract. The Commissioners debated whether they should renew Cope’s contract or consider creation of a formal post in county government for a legal counsel. They opted to renew given the continuing litigation over the ICM project. According to the DNJ the County has expended over $189,000 for Cope’s services in connection with the 2011 and 2012 ICM hearings. Cope had advised the Regional Planning Commission on Monday’s executive session to appeal Chancellor Corlew’s rulings and not reopen the ICM approval process on the grounds to do so would constitute religious discrimination. A line that was repeated by ICM Imam Bahloul and Board Member Sbetany and the majority of Regional Planning Commission members who voted to appeal Corlew’s rulings.

At Thursday’s regular County Commission session there was a brief public comment period. Rutherford County resident  Elizabeth Coker noted that prior to the September 2010 Court hearing on the zoning approval for the ICM, opponents had voiced objections to the planning and vetting process at a Public Works Committee hearing on August 3, 2010. She noted that citizen concerns at the August 2010 Public Works hearing focused on inadequate Regional Planning Commission hearing notification, traffic and environmental impact issues. Coker also referenced  her presentation at the September 27, 2010 Public Safety Committee meeting providing background information on connections of  ICM board member Mosaad  Rawash to HAMAS, a wing of the Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza, designated a foreign terrorist organization by our State Department.

Following last night’s County Commission meeting, she discussed with the County Planning Commission Chair Phillips case law indicating that exemptions of religious institutions from local zoning approvals under both Tennessee legislation and the 2000 Federal  Religious Land Use and Incarcerated Persons Act  (RLUIPA) did not prevent local authorities from exercising police powers to conduct due diligence on zoning applicants. Coker had the opportunity to review these issues on Friday morning’s Steve Gill Show  that covers a network of radio stations across Tennessee.

So, is this a stall? We will have to wait to see whether an order denying County issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy for the ICM mega-mosque is issued on July 2nd. Perhaps whatever occurs on that date in you may also witness a possible US Department of Justice intervention in the form of an amicus brief in any appeal brought by the Regional Planning Commission with the assistance of County Counsel Cope. As Assistant US Attorney General Thomas E. Perez, head of the USDOJ Civil Rights Division, allegedly told ICM and other Middle Tennessee Muslim leaders during a visit in October 2010: “we have your back.”


Posted on 06/14/2012 11:18 PM by Jerry Gordon

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