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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, 14, 2011.
Wednesday, 14 September 2011
Acquitted cop shooter a terrorist who wanted to carry out an attack in Australia.

From The Daily Telegraph

A MAN acquitted of shooting and wounding police was a "fervent and committed terrorist" who wanted to carry out an attack in Australia.

The Sydney-born man admitted supporting violent jihad and was inspired by the 2005 London terror bombings. He had material praising Osama bin Laden, and guns, ammunition and chemicals to make the explosive TATP, known as "mother of Satan".

The Daily Telegraph last week reported how in June this year District Court Judge Leonie Flannery acquitted the 34-year-old of shooting at police with intent to murder.

Now, it can be revealed he is in the state's highest-security prison, Supermax in Goulburn serving a minimum sentence of 14 years and maximum of 18 years and eight months for terrorism-related offences. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Whealy, who sentenced the man on terror charges, yesterday lifted a suppression order on his judgment.

It revealed the man pleaded guilty in November 2008 to two counts of committing an act in preparation for a terrorist act and two of possessing a thing connected with the preparation for a terrorist act. He had collected two loaded handguns, 900 rounds of ammunition for military assault rifles, five litres of battery acid, five litres of hydrochloric acid and a Nokia telephone handset - all items he intended to use as part of the plot.

The judgment said he posed as a man called Jeffrey Leydon as he contacted chemical suppliers inquiring about sulphuric acid. He had a collection of jihadist documents "extolling the virtues of Osama bin Laden", praising martyrdom during violent jihad (holy war), and footage of at least two "gruesome" executions. He also possessed instructions on sniper training, weapons, and the assembly and detonation of explosives.

In psychological interviews in custody, the man said he began to question the situation of Muslims worldwide after September 11, 2001, and the impact of the London bombings had impressed him by bringing the city to a standstill. . . Justice Whealy found the man was "a committed terrorist whose actions posed a significant danger to the community". His earliest release date is November 7, 2019.

Posted on 09/14/2011 3:23 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 14 September 2011
Prosecutors: Lynnwood man who attacked Marines tied to South Seattle terror plot defendant

From Seattle PI

Alleging he was in contact with a Seattle terrorism suspect, King County prosecutors have filed assault charges against a Lynwood man accused of attempting to run a uniformed Marine sergeant off the road.

Filing charges Tuesday, prosecutors claim Michael D. McCright swerved at a government-owned sedan carrying the uniformed sergeant and another noncommissioned officer on July 12. The men were uninjured, and were able to report the license plate of McCright’s Geo Metro to the Washington State Patrol.

In charging papers, prosecutors claim McCright – who allegedly goes by the alias Mikhial Jihad – had been in contact with Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif, who, along with another man, is accused of forming a plot to attack the South Seattle military processing station.

“Investigators have confirmed that the cell phone used by the defendant … was used on at least three occasions to contact Abdul-Latif prior to Latif’s arrest by federal authorities,” Senior Deputy Prosecutor Gary Ernsdorff said in court documents. “The FBI is continuing to investigate defendant McCright’s possible connection to domestic terrorism.”

Abdul-Latif, 33, and Los Angeles resident Walli Mujahidh, 32, were arrested weeks before the incident allegedly involving McCright and have since been indicted on terrorism charges. The men are accused of plotting a suicidal attack on a military induction and processing center – the Military Entrance Processing Station – on East Marginal Way South in Seattle.

The Marines – who were assigned to the processing center – were headed north on Interstate 5 and nearing the Northgate exit when they saw a small blue car speed toward them, Carver told the court. They saw a bearded man with a skull cap behind the wheel, and subsequently identified him as McCright.

As the driver came alongside the Marines, the staff sergeant noticed the other man spot his uniform. "His eyes widened and he appeared to become angry," the staff sergeant told police.

Without warning, McCright swerved at the government car, forcing it into the emergency lane, Carver said in court documents. McCright then allegedly pulled in front of the Marines' vehicle and slammed on his brakes, nearly causing a collision. 

Posted on 09/14/2011 3:29 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 14 September 2011
Britain is Now a Very Corrupt Country

It has long been evident to me that Britain is now a very corrupt country. I do not mean by this that money often and necessarily passes hands in a straightforwardly illicit or illegal way, under the table in brown envelopes, as it does in some countries that I could name. In fact, it is probably true that a very large majority of the British population never in its life makes, or feels that it has to make, an openly corrupt payment: and this is something that, in the light of world history, is very remarkable. Corruption is the norm for human beings, not the deviation from the norm.

Nevertheless, Britain is a corrupt country: much more corrupt, for example, than France. The kind of corruption to which I refer is of a special and insidious kind, intellectual and moral, much more insidious and difficult to root out than the more obvious kind that is usually meant by the word corruption.

One comes across it continually. For example, I saw that Lambeth Council had decided to dismiss "a learning mentor" in its employ because he had admitted in court that he took part in the recent mass outbreak of looting, such looting being deemed incompatible with his status as a council employee. But what, exactly, is a "learning mentor"? One suspects that it is a person who receives a salary for doing a non-job. This is perfectly legal, but one has one's doubts as to whether the true purpose of the position that he had occupied was to raise the standard of education among the young of Lambeth. His employment was quite likely a manifestation of intellectual, moral and political corruption.

Not long ago I was on a long flight back to Europe and in the seat pocket in front of me I found a copy of Time magazine, which I do not usually read. There was an article about the riots of quite startling superficiality in it, but more interestingly, for my present purposes, was a comparison of military spending around the world. The comparison between France and Britain was startling.

The two countries spend almost exactly the same annually on their armed forces, France $59,300,000,000 and Britain $59,600,000,000, but the difference in what they get for it is highly instructive.

According to the figures given, which I assume have some resemblance to the truth, France has 300 nuclear warheads, while Britain has 225 (bear in mind that I am not making any point about the necessity or otherwise of defence spending). Britain has 11, while France has 10, submarines; but on the other hand, France has an aircraft carrier. The countries have the same number of cruisers, destroyers and frigates, namely 24; but France has 470 combat aircraft, while Britain has 346. France has 240,000 men under arms, while Britain has 180,000.

Now of course raw comparisons such as these may hide important differences; it could be, for example, that British combat aircraft are greatly superior to those of France, and that one British aircraft is worth two French. But I rather doubt it; it seems far more likely to me that the aircraft are roughly the same in quality. Similarly, one can take the xenophobic view that one British soldier is worth two French, but this too seems to me unlikely. And, if I have understood correctly, the British army in Afghanistan has been conspicuous by its under-equipment and unpreparedness.

It could be that the explanation why France has a third more troops for the same money as Britain is that men are paid less; but since the standard of living in France is, if anything, higher than in Britain, what this amounts to is an admission that our men are overpaid. Not only is our habit of overpaying everyone economically disastrous, but it is corrupt. It means taking more money from some people in order to secure the loyalty or allegiance of others.

Again, let us consider the startling, but to me not surprising, figure that I saw recently in the Guardian for the percentage of convicted robbers and burglars sent to prison, namely 12. Since the police solve about 8 per cent of these crimes (and even that is probably an exaggeration) one can deduce that about one in 100 robberies or burglaries ends in a prison sentence.

Burglaries and robberies tend not to be what murderers sometimes designate their crimes, namely "a one-off"; rather, they are repeated crimes and those who indulge in them do so many times, something that has been confirmed to me on innumerable occasions by the many robbers and burglars whom I have met. The odds are clearly in their favour, and it is obvious that to leave a robber or burglar at liberty, with barely a slap on the wrist as a punishment, is to encourage more robberies and burglaries.

Why is our government so reluctant to admit the obvious? Why are the most absurd mental pirouettes performed by Home Secretaries, Secretaries of Justice and Chief Justices, in order to come to any conclusion but the most obvious one? They are not, after all, lacking in intelligence; the explanation must lie elsewhere.

There are two reasons, I think. The first is sentimentality: that leniency towards criminals shows great-heartedness, whereas its opposite - in my view, realism - demonstrates hardness of heart. That the great-heartedness is at the expense of other people does not matter to them. The punished criminal before them is a tangible, visible being; the people saved from victimisation by his punishment are spectres, because they are neither tangible nor visible.

But there is another reason. The expansion of tertiary education has increased the number of lawyers dramatically. Lawyers need criminals as addicts need dealers. The last thing the criminal justice system wants to do, then, is to prevent crime by repressing it. And there is a clear, if unconscious, understanding that a hundred thousand lawyers with no income will give you more trouble than five million burgled and robbed people of the lower classes - the principle victims of burglars and robbers.

In the words of Flanders and Swann, it all makes work for the working man to do.

First published in Social Affairs Unit.

Posted on 09/14/2011 5:10 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
Wednesday, 14 September 2011
French Connection Director Decries Comic Book Movies

In any struggle between art and commerce, commerce wins. The music business has gone down the same road. It's all about the widest possible market and so, inevitably, about the lowest common denominator. From AFP:

Director William Friedkin on Tuesday decried a trend in cinema of infantilizing audiences with stories ripped from comic books, at the North American premiere of his new film "Killer Joe."

"It's harder and harder to do (original adult material) in this climate of American film... which is mostly concerned with movies that are comic books, and remakes," he said.

The icon of 1970s cinema said his own classic films "The French Connection" (1971), which won him an Oscar for best director, and "The Exorcist" (1973) would not be made today by movie studios.

"The audiences have changed," he lamented. "They are conditioned by television and television is aimed at the lowest common denominator... their expectations are lower."

Also, "the studios, when I started directing, were run by people who had made films," he said. "Today they're former agents or lawyers and (the studios) are owned by gigantic corporations that have to appeal to the lowest common denominator."

"There's less money in the adult market (now)," added Pulitzer prize-winning writer Tracy Letts who adapted his 1998 play for the movie. "The guys who run the show have figured out that they can make more money basically selling comic books to people." ...

Posted on 09/14/2011 5:48 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Wednesday, 14 September 2011
More Confused Mush About "Extreme" And "Moderate" Islam

From headlines of stories on the Web:

Libya disavows extreme Islam as world looks on

Reuters - Mohammed Abbas - Samia Nakhoul - 37 minutes ago

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - - When it comes to Islam, moderation is the keyword in Libya, a country at pains to assure the world that it will not ...
Posted on 09/14/2011 7:40 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 14 September 2011
A Dancing Interlude: Hard To Handle (Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers)

Watch here.

Posted on 09/14/2011 7:53 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 14 September 2011
Maronite Patriarch Rai Is Apparently Not To Worry Aloud About The Fate Of Christians If Their Alawite Protectors Go

From Agence France-Presse:

Lebanon's Maronite Christian head sparks Syria debate

BEIRUT — A heated debate has erupted in Lebanon over controversial remarks by the head of the nation's Maronite Christians, who has warned an end to Syria's regime threatens Christians across the Middle East.

During his first visit to France last week, Patriarch Beshara Butros Rai urged that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad -- once the arch-enemy of Lebanon's Maronites -- be given a chance to implement reforms, saying the "poor man cannot work miracles".

Assad's regime has cracked down on a string of unprecedented protests across his country, killing more than 2,600 civilian protesters since the uprising began in March, according to the United Nations.

Many of Syria's minority Christians, which include Maronites, are concerned that Islamic extremists could rise to power should Assad's regime collapse.

Rai last week echoed that fear, voicing concern of a takeover by the radical Muslim Brotherhood, a movement the Syrian authorities have blacklisted for decades.

"We endured the rule of the Syrian regime. I have not forgotten that," Rai said. "We do not stand by the regime, but we fear the transition that could follow.

"We must defend the Christian community. We too must resist."

He later clarified his statement by telling local press he feared the fall of "regimes described as dictatorial... could lead to civil war, in which Christians would be the biggest victims".

Lebanon's Christians, a community that once enjoyed unparalleled political leverage, are now split on the protests rocking Syria.

Maronites allied with Shiite militant group Hezbollah, which is supported by Syria and Iran, are backing Assad and accusing the radical Sunnis of stirring the unrest.

Other Lebanese Christians, allied with pro-Western former premier Saad Hariri, have voiced support for the anti-Assad protests.

Observers are divided on the patriarch's stance, with some lauding it as a shield for Christians and others warning it marks a grave political faux pas.

"It was a big mistake for the patriarch to go to France, which has a history of hundreds of years of support for Maronites, and say the Assad regime must be protected at a time when the Assad regime is breaking down," said political commentator and author Elias al-Zoghbi.

But others argue Rai is doing what is necessary to ensure the survival of his dwindling community.

"The patriarch is not enamoured with the regime of Bashar al-Assad, nor is he blind to the atrocities Lebanon suffered as a result of that regime's military presence in Lebanon for 30 years," said analyst and columnist Jean Aziz.

"He is not defending the regime but he fears that unrest in Syria will lead to civil war, which would see the Christians of Syria and Lebanon suffer the same as those of Iraq."

Lebanon was gripped by a deadly civil war from 1975 to 1990, which saw Syria send troops in to its smaller neighbour, where they remained for 29 years.

Ahed al-Hindi, a Washington-based Syrian activist and himself a Christian, openly rejected Rai's explanations as serving to strike fear into the hearts of Christians.

"Syrian Christians are not threatened -- they have long lived side-by-side with Muslims," said Hindi, a participant in the meetings of Syrian dissidents in Turkey.

"This is yet another tool of fear the Assad regime has created."

And as Syrian protesters continue to brave the guns of their ruling regime, many are hoping the path will lead to democracy, the only hope for the Christians of the Middle East.

"What we are witnessing today is a transition, which often means the voices of radicals sound loudest," said Aziz. "It's possible that could drown out Christian minorities.

"But ultimately, the course of history is headed towards democracy."

Posted on 09/14/2011 7:58 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 14 September 2011
The Ignorance, The Illogic, The Negligence, The Cruelty, Of The Late Completely Unlamented Tony Judt

From The Atlantic:

Tony Judt's Final Word on Israel

By Merav Michaeli

In this interview just before his death last year, the historian discusses his controversial views on Israel, the country's future, and a life of disputation

israel sep14 p.jpg

Undated photo of Tony Judt / AP

In July 6, 2010, one month to the day before his death, I sat down with the British historian Tony Judt in his New York study to film an interview. He was positioned in a special bed in which he spent much of his time, completely immobilized by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. The interview was part of a larger film project, with director Gaylen Ross, about Israel and the U.S. and American Jewry. It was, for me, a profound and deeply personal conversation.

Despite his illness, Judt agreed to let me interview him over email as well. What follows here is our lengthy conversation, conducted over several emails. As an Israeli who is deeply distressed by the state of my country, and as a journalist who feels more and more helpless in trying to bring change through my work, I felt a strong intellectual and emotional propinquity to Judt. We share similar views and perspectives about Israel. Between the two of us, he was the grown-up , he was the celebrated historian; I admit I was hoping for answers.

Before I left the filmed interview, I asked Judt how he would act, and what he would do, if he were today an Israeli Jew, teaching at Tel Aviv University, thinking the way he does, publishing the things he writes?

 "I don't think I would have done anything different from what you and my other colleagues from Haaretz and academia are doing" he said, "History always happens to us and nothing ever stays the same." And then I had to go.

A year has now passed. Israel is enduring a social upheaval that gives some hope for change, but its relationship with Turkey and Egypt are in severe crisis, the Palestinians are working on a unilateral independence declaration to present at the UN, and former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates called Prime Minister Netanyahu an ungrateful ally to the U.S. and a danger to Israel. Reading Judt's words in light of the events, feels like reading a chilling prophecy. Our exchange started about two weeks following Israel's controversial raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla.

How do you see Israel's actions in the Flotilla affair?

The characterization that comes to mind is "autistic." Israel behaved in a way that suggests it is no longer fully able to estimate, assess or understand the way other people think about it. Even if you supported the blockade (I don't) this would be an almost exemplary case of shooting oneself in a painful part of the anatomy.

Firstly because it alienates Turkey, who Israel needs in the longer run. Secondly because it was undertaken in international waters and largely at the expense of civilian victims. Thirdly because it was an overreaction. Fourthly because it had the predictable effect of weakening the case for a blockade rather than strengthening it.

In short, this is the action of a country which is fast losing touch with reality.

The raid on the flotilla was far from being the worst of Israel's behavior over 40 years of occupation, yet the international response to it was the most grievous. Why do you think that is?

I agree. But what happens in small West Bank towns, in the Israeli Parliament, in Gazan schools or in Lebanese farms is invisible to the world. And Israel was always very good at presenting the argument from "self-defense" even when it was absurd. I think that Israel's successful defiance of international law for so long has made Jerusalem blind and deaf to the seriousness with which the rest of the world takes the matter.

"The identification of Israel with Auschwitz (and of its enemies with Nazism) is not only obscene, but self-defeating"

Finally there is the question of cumulation. From the Six Day War to Lebanon, from Lebanon to the settlements, from the settlements to Gaza, Israel's credibility has steadily fallen - even as the world's distance from Auschwitz (the favorite excuse) has lengthened. So Israel is far more vulnerable today than it would have been twenty five years ago.

What do you tell those who say Israel has willingly withdrawn from Gaza and everything that has happened since proves the Israeli claim that there's no partner for an agreement?

I tell them that they are talking nonsense, or else prevaricating. Israel withdrew from Gaza but has put it under a punishment regime comparable to nothing else in the world. That is not withdrawal. And of course we all know that there are those who would like to give Palestinians "independence" but exclude Gaza from the privilege. That too was part of the purpose of the withdrawal.

There is a partner. It may not be very nice and it may not be very easy. It's called Hamas. In the same way the provisional [Irish Republican Army] was the only realistic "partner for peace" with whom London could negotiate; Nelson Mandela (a "terrorist" for the Afrikaaners until his release) was the only realistic "partner for peace"; the same was true of "that terrorist" ([according to Winston] Churchill) Gandhi; the well-known "murderous terrorist" Jomo Kenyatta with whom London fought a murderous war for five years before he became "a great statesman"; not to mention Algeria. The irony is that Washington knows this perfectly well and expects negotiations with Hamas within five years. After all, Israel virtually invented Hamas in the hope of undermining the PLO; well, they succeeded. But they are the only ones who can't see what has to happen.

You advocated for a binational state. What does your binational state look like? How does it work?

I don't know. What I do know is that since I wrote that in 2003, everyone from Moshe Arens through Barak to Olmert has admitted that Israel is on the way to a single state with a potential Arab majority in Bantustans unless something happens fast. That's all that I said in my essay.

But ok, since it looks as though Israel is determined to give itself this future, what will it look like? Hell. But what could it look like? Well, there could be a federal state of two autonomous communities -- on the Swiss or Belgian model (don't tell me the latter doesn't work -- it works very well but is opposed by Flemings led by people very much like [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and [Foreign Minister Avigdor] Lieberman). This could have crossover privileges and rights for both communities, but each would be autonomous. I think this would work better than a mixed single-state, and it would allow each community to set certain sorts of religious and other regulations according to its taste.

If it could look so good, why would it be hell?

Because it would start from a very bad place. It would begin with Jews running the place in the name of a Jewish state, defined by Orthodox Rabbis and controlled by an army whose officer core is increasingly permeated by religious and settler communities. No Arab would feel remotely safe, much less equal or a citizen in such a "single state". The Arabs' lack of property, rights, status and prospects would either make them a sullen and potentially violent underclass or else the best of them would try to leave. This is no good basis for integration, though it is of course what some of Israel's present leaders privately desire. And then there would be Gaza...

And if Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert also recognize that Israel is on its way to a single state with an Arab majority, why do you think they aren't doing what needs to be done?

Of Barak I will not speak. He is now a senior minister in what I regard as close to a neo-fascist government. If he has chosen that direction, then obviously he has no interesting or ethically defensible plans of his own. He is an object of contempt in my eyes.

Olmert, who seems to have reached my conclusions by his own path, suffers from being a typical tactician, and lacking strategic vision or political courage. He is not as bad as Shimon Peres in this and other respects -- Peres seems to me the most disappointing and in some ways damaging politician in Israel's history -- but he will not stand up to the soldiers or the settlers or the rabbis and therefore he is not interesting as a candidate for real change.

In such a state, Jews would soon be a minority. Doesn't that frighten you?

Not as much as it seems to frighten others. Why is it ok for a Jewish minority to dominate an Arab majority, its leaders to call for expulsions of majority members, etc., but not ok for a democracy to have a majority and minority both protected under law? At least Israel could then call itself a democracy with a clear conscience.

What you are really asking is whether I think the Palestinians would immediately set out to rape, pillage and murder the Jews? I don't see why they would want to -- there is no historical record suggesting that this is what Palestinians do for fun, whereas we have all too much evidence that Israelis persecute Palestinians for no good reason. If I were an Arab, I would be more afraid of living in a state with Jews just now.

Can you see or understand why Israelis are afraid?

Yes, but only in the sense that someone who has been brought up to fear and hate his neighbors will have good reason to be frightened at the thought of living in the same house with them. Israelis have created a generation of young Palestinians who hate them and will never forgive them and that does make a real problem for any future agreement, single- or two-state.

But Israel should be much, much more afraid of the Israel it's creating for itself: a semi-democratic, demagogic, far-right warrior state dominated by racist Russians and crazed rabbis. In this perspective, an internationally policed and guaranteed federal state of Israel, with the same rights and resources for Jews and Arabs, looks a lot less frightening to me.

Can you see why American Jews are fearful as well of that?

No. This is the fear of the paranoid hysteric - like the man at the dinner table in the story I wrote in the New York Review who had never been to Israel but thought I should stop criticizing it because "We Jews might need it sometime." American Jews -- most of whom know nothing of Jewish history, Jewish languages or Jewish religion -- feel "Jewish" by identifying unthinkingly with Auschwitz as the source of their special victim status and "Israel" as their insurance policy and macho other. I find this contemptible -- they are quite happy to see Arabs killed in their name, so long as other Jews do it. That's not fear, that is something between surrogate nationalism and moral indifference.

In your 2003 essay "Israel: the Alternative" you wrote that Israel was an anachronism. Writers in Israel were asking why you didn't offer France and Germany to give up this anachronistic model first?

Oh, come on! I did not say that nation-states were past their use-by date. I said that ethnically driven versions were. There is nothing in the constitutions of France or Germany that creates second-class citizens defined by religion, ethnicity or parenthood. There is nothing there defining who can and who cannot have certain jobs, live in certain places or marry certain people. If Israel looked like France or Germany in these respects, it would be a better place. By the way, until Germany gave up its 1913 law regarding citizenship defined by descent, I wrote very critically about it. But Israeli commentators would not know that -- they are fixated on their own obsessions.

In that essay, your portrayal of Europe seems somewhat idealized. Do you still think that "Christian Europe" is part of the past and that their evolving minority problem is indeed marginal? 

I don't think I said that the minority problem was "marginal". Nor do I want to idealize Europe. I have written elsewhere that the failure of Europeans to welcome Turkey into the EU is a catastrophe -- for Turkey, for democratic Muslims everywhere, and for integration back in Europe itself. But once again, my Israeli critics don't read about anything else so they would not know my positions on this. If Europe fails to address the fact that most of its new members (excepting Poland) will be and are either secular, post-Christian, or Muslim in makeup, it will face a hard future.

And how do you see Europe's future, will it accept Islam and Muslims as an organic part of it?

A complicated question. There is no one Europe on this issue -- unlike institutions or regulations, religion varies hugely. Some parts of Europe, mostly Western but not only, are virtually de-Christianised. There -- e.g. in England or parts of France or parts of Scandinavia -- the problem is re-introducing religion and religious identification into secular societies. Thus in Holland the anti-immigration party emphasizes its own tolerance compared with the intolerance of Islam.

Elsewhere, e.g. in Poland or parts of Italy, people are still actively Catholic. Paradoxically, this makes them more sympathetic to Islamic institutions -- priests and imams working together, etc. -- but averse to excessive dilution of their historic dominance.

"I suspect that in decades to come America (the new Rome) will abandon Israel"

The other problem is that most young Muslims are not Muslim (the same is true for almost all Bosnian Muslims). That is, they are as secular in fact as their white schoolmates. But because it is convenient for governments and administrators to classify them as Muslim, they often become so out of resentment. Thus there are many more "Muslims" in Europe than actually belong to a Mosque or practice Islam. They would be better identified by their point of origin -- Surinamese, Algerian, Senegalese, etc. -- than by religion. But European censuses don't allow for that.

The biggest impediment to integrating Muslims (real or imagined) to European societies is the loud rejection of Turkey. It says very clearly that European leaders think not in terms of democracy (else why allow Croatia to apply), nor corruption (otherwise Greece would not be a member) but religious tags: Turkey is mostly low practicing by Muslim standards, but it is unquestionably overwhelmingly Muslim. Its unacceptability to Germany or France is a big, big mistake -- all across Europe it sends a message to the Muslim community: "you are not part of us".

Conclusion: on this score I am very pessimistic about Europe's prospects.

Do Jews still need a Jewish state, a haven from the world? Or is it a changed world in which it isn't necessary any more?

Some think they do, some think they don't. Israel would never have happened if it weren't for Hitler and keeping the fear of Hitler alive is part of what fuels ultra-Zionism. But the whole thing is a complete mystery to most of the rest of the world. To be sure, there is anti-Semitism everywhere. But even if we ignore the unquestionable fact that some of it is driven by Israel's behavior, it doesn't diminish just because there is a Jewish state and we have no reason to believe that Israel is a barrier to prejudice anywhere else.

The world has changed since 1939. But Israel is a fact and there is no point debating whether it should exist. However, like many, many Jews outside of Israel, I feel a declining sense of identification with the place: its behavior, its culture, its politics, its insularity, its prejudices have nothing to do with being Jewish for me and I know that is especially true of younger Jews, excepting ultra-religious ones. So even if things went wrong for Jews today, I don't think most of us would want to go and live in Israel.

You lived in Israel for about two years in all. Why did you choose to build your life elsewhere?

I found the place rather stifling. I think you have to be a very deep believer in the Zionist objective, or else a Jew for whom the presence of other Jews is absolutely crucial in your life. Otherwise the downsides of Israel -- its parochialism, its self-obsession, its resort to violence as a first solution to everything: all of these are far too much to bear.

I think that perhaps I was there at an odd time. On the one hand everyone was quite optimistic and rather left-leaning in my world, and the treatment of Israel's own Arabs was largely invisible to me; on the other hand it was a very small place in which people seemed concerned with very small things -- or else they lived mentally in Europe and never really accepted the terms of life in a small Middle Eastern country that would sooner or later have to stop beating its neighbours and find a way to respect them as equals.

Finally I believe I got frustrated with my friends and colleagues who told me to abandon my academic plans (Cambridge, etc.) and help build Zion. Even in 1966 this seemed to me simply silly: reproducing a collective farm in Galicia, circa 1910, in the middle of the '60s.

How do you see the Iranian nuclear threat to Israel today?

Why are we so obsessed by this? If Iran attacked Israel with a nuclear weapon, the U.S. and Israel would wipe out large sections of that country. Tehran is a sophisticated place that knows this perfectly well. Most Iranians I know think that their president's obscene rhetoric is diversionary -- a way to sell himself as the spokesman for the Muslim "street". They don't like it and they don't back it. But they are proud and don't like being told that they alone in the neighborhood can't have nuclear autonomy: they are surrounded by nuclear powers (India, Pakistan, Russia and Israel, not to mention the American fleet). Why should they not feel paranoid? The nuclear threat to Tehran is far greater than the nuclear threat to Tel Aviv.

No one I know in Washington seriously believes that Iran is about to nuke Israel. They are far more worried that Israel is working up this implausible scenario as an excuse for another diversionary war.

There are good reasons to discourage Iran from a nuclear capacity - but the existential threat to Israel is not one of them.

Should Israel attack?

Only if it wants to destroy forever its credibility as a stable member of the community of legitimate states. We all know perfectly well that such an attack would have a limited impact on Iran's long term plans, but would solidify support for it globally while forever alienating Israel from the world. That seems a pretty lousy deal for Israel.

Iran is a Shi'ite state, which hates the Taliban and is good friends with countries we need, like China and Turkey. Israel should be secretly and eventually publically trying to get back on good terms with it. In the larger scheme of things, it is pretty incredible that Israel has deliberately set out to alienate those few Muslim lands which have a real interest in being friends with it.

The worst consequence of an attack on Iran -- an extreme form of Israel's foolishness hitherto -- would be the final alienation of American sympathy. Already major military figures like [David] Petraeus have gone on record as seeing Israel as a "strategic liability." Attack Iran and Israel becomes an intolerable burden upon America's increasingly fragile role in the world. This would be a very big mistake to make.

Why do you think Israel, as a state, still hasn't gotten over its existential fears, over its self-concept as "victim?"

Obviously it has not. But it has gone from genuinely believing itself to be threatened to exploiting that "threat" to serve unworthy and foolish goals. As a result, no one outside Israel takes seriously the threat to its existence, which is bad for Israel should such a threat ever arise. The identification of Israel with Auschwitz (and of its enemies with Nazism) is not only obscene, but self-defeating. Until 1967 it was semi-plausible, despite running counter to the equally self-serving image of "macho Jews" who would never "go like sheep to the slaughter." Since 1967 it is a ridiculous claim and looks it.

In your view, in the bigger picture, what is Israel's role and place in the history of the Jewish people?

My first response is that of Zhou En Lai when he was asked what was the significance of the French Revolution and replied, "It's too soon to tell."

Another perspective, the long one, would be to say that Israel is behaving very much like the annoying little Judean state that the Romans finally dismantled in frustration. This classical analogy may be more relevant than we think. I suspect that in decades to come America (the new Rome) will abandon Israel as annoying, expensive, and a liability. This will leave Israel to its own resources or to making friends with anyone who will deal with it (as it once did with South Africa). That in turn will make it a very unpleasant place for Western liberals and democrats, who will loosen their ties with it. No doubt it will survive, but it will mean less and less to Jews elsewhere as people forget the original impulse and historical circumstances surrounding its founding.

As to the future of Jews in the diaspora, they (we) will once again be the predominant community (once again as in classical times). I think Israel will grow increasingly marginal for most Jews, though I don't quite know what their Jewish life will look like either in a secularized world. In a way, we may be entering a new Middle Ages where the only way to preserve Jewish cultural and religious traditions will be to live in separate ghetto-like spaces (gated communities) closed off from the surrounding majority. That is already the case in parts of America.

We are now about a year into the Obama era. Is President Barack Obama "good for the Jews?" For Israel?

Obama could have been good for Israel and Jews if he had followed through on his Cairo speech and original intentions. But despite expectations, he caved in to Netanyahu and is now bad for Israel in the sense that he does nothing to stop it behaving badly to its own detriment. By not following through on his appeal he let people down who had hoped for a new start. And by allowing Israel to continue with settlements, or protecting Israel at the UN, he has made more enemies in Arab lands. In that sense, the dynamic is not very different than it was before, except that the tone is more polite. And of course, his Afghanistan mess makes him look like Bush, albeit nicer. On the whole, I would say he has failed here.

After your binational state proposal, many felt the need to publicly denounce you, even famous liberals. How hard was this for you?

Not at all. Since people took to calling me "Belgian" as a synonym for "anti-Semitic European," or "Self-Hating Jew," I assumed that they had nothing very interesting to say. Since liberals would often say one thing to me in private but something different in public for fear of being thought "anti-Semitic", I never much cared about their criticisms either.

On the whole I don't mind taking a minority view: I've always done this. And many of the people who slapped me down for my criticisms of Israel were enthusiastic supporters of the Iraq war. So I suspect I was on the right side twice-over. The only criticisms I took seriously came from Israel, from reasonable people who had good grounds for disagreement. I suspect ground is starting to open up in America, as people gently put their heads above the parapet and risk criticizing Israel without getting shot.

In recent writing and interviews, you relate a lot to your unique sense of a limited future. How has this changed the way you see history and current politics?

I don't think it's changed it at all, though it may have shifted the balance of my writings and interests. I don't think I have altered my views on history or politics, though of course given my circumstances I have to ration my contributions and try to focus on the things that either matter most or that I have the best chance of influencing.

Posted on 09/14/2011 8:03 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 14 September 2011
Time To Build Another Bridge Over The River Kwai, This Time In Yemen?

From The Daily Telegraph:

Al-Qaida in Yemen poses biggest threat, CIA says

Group's weakness after bin Laden's death seen as opportunity for U.S. and allies


The Yemen offshoot of al-Qaida has emerged as the "most dangerous" affiliate of the group, David Petraeus, the new CIA director, has warned.

The threat from even a weakened core al-Qaida remains a concern for the United States a decade after the 9/11 attacks, but the group's vulnerability offers a window of opportunity, Petraeus said in prepared testimony for a joint House-Senate intelligence committee hearing.

Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, known as AQAP, was behind the December 2009 plot to blow up a U.S. airliner as it approached Detroit and a 2010 effort to send bombs hidden in computer printers on two cargo aircraft that were found at East Midlands airport in the U.K., he said.

Political unrest in Yemen has helped AQAP "co-opt local tribes and extend its influence," Petraeus said.

"Despite all of this, counter-terrorism co-operation with Yemen has, in fact, improved in the past few months," he said. "That is very important, as we clearly have to intensify our collaboration and deny AQAP the safe haven that it seeks to establish."

Al-Qaida's affiliates have their own command structures, resources and operational agendas, and largely operate autonomously, Petraeus said. But al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden's death in May was a "stunning blow" to the group and his successor, Ayman al-Zawahri, is considered "less compelling as a leader" by the group's followers. "We thus assess that he will have more difficulty than did Osama bin Laden in maintaining the group's cohesion and its collective motivation in the face of continued pressure.

"A vulnerable core al-Qaida amounts to a window of opportunity for us and our allies."

At the same hearing, James Clapper, the national intelligence director, said AQAP was clearly a "determined enemy," citing the 2009 airliner plot.

His comments came as al-Qaida released a video applauding the Arab Spring uprisings to mark the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Zawahiri, who took control of al-Qaida after the killing of Osama bin Laden, said he hoped the revolutionaries would found Islamic states.

"America is denying the fact that it is not facing individuals or groups but the whole ummah (Muslim community) of Islam," he said. "After the martyrdom of Sheikh Osama, the Islamic face of the revolutions was shown. America's arrogant nature will push it to deny the facts that it is facing a rising ummah and that it may be a cause of defeat and its fall."

Posted on 09/14/2011 8:08 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 14 September 2011
Cherokee Nation Makes Clear It Will Decide Who Is A Cherokee


The nation's second-largest Indian tribe said on Tuesday that it would not be dictated to by the U.S. government over its move to banish 2,800 African Americans from its citizenship rolls.

"The Cherokee Nation will not be governed by the BIA," Joe Crittenden, the tribe's acting principal chief, said in a statement responding to the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Crittenden, who leads the tribe until a new principal chief is elected, went on to complain about unnamed congressmen meddling in the tribe's self-governance.

The reaction follows a letter the tribe received on Monday from BIA Assistant Secretary Larry Echo Hawk, who warned that the results of the September 24 Cherokee election for principal chief will not be recognized by the U.S. government if the ousted members, known to some as "Cherokee Freedmen," are not allowed to vote.

The dispute stems from the fact that some wealthy Cherokee owned black slaves who worked on their plantations in the South. By the 1830s, most of the tribe was forced to relocate to present-day Oklahoma, and many took their slaves with them. The so-called Freedmen are descendants of those slaves.

After the Civil War, in which the Cherokee fought for the South, a treaty was signed in 1866 guaranteeing tribal citizenship for the freed slaves.

The U.S. government said that the 1866 treaty between the Cherokee tribe and the U.S. government guaranteed that the slaves were tribal citizens, whether or not they had a Cherokee blood relation.

Posted on 09/14/2011 8:33 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 14 September 2011
Egyptian Ikhwan Leaders Not Enthusiastic About Erdogan's Presumptions And Prescriptions

Egypt's Islamists warn Turkish PM over regional role

8:05am EDT

By Tulay Karadeniz and Yasmine Saleh

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's most powerful Islamist group warned Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday that his country should not seek to dominate the Middle East despite his enthusiastic welcome at the start of a regional tour.

After his widely praised call for democracy in the Arab world, Erdogan was given a more reserved reception by officials of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose old guard do not share the admiration of the group's younger generation for the Turkish leader.

"We welcome Turkey and we welcome Erdogan as a prominent leader but we do not think that he or his country alone should be leading the region or drawing up its future," said Essam el-Erian, deputy leader of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice party.

The Brotherhood's cautious comments contrast with the rapturous reception Erdogan has had so far, including cheering and flag-waving crowds, on the first stop of a tour of three Arab states that is aimed at bolstering Turkey's regional role.

"Democracy and freedom is as basic a right as bread and water for you, my brothers," Erdogan told an enthusiastic audience in Cairo on Tuesday. [Turkey's "freedom" under Erdogan has resulted in curbs on the once-free media that make it less free than that in Iraq, or that which existed in Egypt under Mubarak]

Erdogan's party, with its Islamist roots and election success, has become a model for much of the Brotherhood and other political groups as they prepare for the first free vote since Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule was ended in February.

But the Brotherhood and other groups are wary of outside involvement in a home-grown uprising. A senior Turkish official said Turkey did not want to dictate but offer help.

"Arab states do not need outside projects ... This has to come from the new internal systems of the Arab countries which after the revolutions ... will be democratic ones," said Erian, who was jailed under Mubarak.


Erian, however, praised Erdogan's political success at home in free elections and his achievement in building a strong economy and supporting Arab causes.

"He has successfully invested in the Arab and Muslim world's central case which is the Palestinian case," he said.

Erian said Erdogan had met members of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice party.

A senior Turkish Foreign Ministry official said Erdogan had offered help if requested. "We are not saying we will come and teach you what to do, we are saying we can help if you want," he said.

Erdogan has won plaudits from many Arabs for his tough line in a feud with Israel. He is also respected for overseeing rapid economic expansion and for his democratic credentials in a region where democracy has been almost completely lacking.

On Tuesday, Erdogan urged the United States not to block a plan by Palestinians to seek recognition for a statehood at the United Nations.

"The freedom message spreading from Tahrir Square (in Cairo) has become a light of hope for all the oppressed through Tripoli, Damascus and Sanaa," Erdogan said, receiving several standing ovations.[there is no "freedom message" -- it's a revolt, in the main, against corrupt rulers, a corrupt elite, not an endorsement of "freedom" as that is understood in the non-Muslim world]

Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf said they sought to boost annual trade between the two states to $5 billion from $3 billion, as well as to increase Turkish investment in Egypt to $5 billion from $1.5 billion in future. [Buonanotte!]

Erdogan's stance toward Israel has earned him the most Arab accolades. He demanded an apology after nine Turks were killed in an Israeli raid on a ship bound for Gaza. When he did not receive one, he expelled Israel's ambassador.

"We can learn from him how to deal with the enemy ... So many things were done by Israel, but we stayed silent," said Rabab Abdel-Khalek, a university student.

Egyptians are angry that their ruling generals did not act with the same decisiveness when five Egyptian border guards were killed last month by Israelis when they were chasing cross-border raiders. [they did not do so because they understood what Israel could do, and might feel compelled to do, in return -- and the humiliation would have been too great]

Furious Egyptian protesters stormed the Israeli embassy in Cairo, prompting Israel to fly its envoy home.

Posted on 09/14/2011 8:35 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 14 September 2011
The writing on the wall

Daniel Hannan, one of those Daniels that keep coming to judgement, takes his fellow MEPs to task, using Homer, Swift and God:

Posted on 09/14/2011 8:49 AM by Mary Jackson
Wednesday, 14 September 2011
It is Western Muslims who will beat al-Qaeda

So says fork-tongued "ex-Islamist" Mohammed "Ed" Husain. Well, he would, wouldn't he? It means more £85,000 jobs for the boys at Quilliam. And if we want to beat al-Qaeda once and for all, we need as many Western Muslims as possible. Give them more benefits and let them bring in their sisters and their cousins and their aunts, to say nothing of their wives. Let a thousand Quilliams bloom, each more generous than the last, and we'll have this Jihad thing licked in no time.

If not the most tragic, certainly one of the most irritating aspects of 9/11 is its bringing to undeserved prominence and undeserved riches a mediocrity such as "Ed" Husain. As a reminder from my article, here is Husain on Christianity, to which he has given “much thought”:

I gave much thought to Christianity. Since my birthday is on Christmas Day, I have always felt a certain empathy with Jesus. But in my mind, if there was a God out there, God did not have children. And certainly man did not, could not, become God. And the idea of the Trinity, despite my many attempts to understand it, always seemed incredible to me.

C. S. Lewis’ comment about “the man with the old pair of field glasses setting out to put all the real astronomers right” is almost too charitable. And another observation of Lewis – “it is the simple religions that are the made-up ones” – springs to mind.

How it grates, then, that The Telegraph should give him cyberspace. It did so a few days ago (h/t Esmerelda):

At no time in history have so many Muslims lived in the West, or so many been trying to migrate here. In Muslim countries, Western clothes, languages, films, sports – even McDonald’s and Starbucks – are visibly popular. Across the Middle East, demands are being made, and blood shed, for Western freedoms. Yet polls repeatedly show that, 10 years after the 9/11 attacks, there is still widespread hatred in those same countries towards America and Britain.{...}

"Western freedoms"? In so far as this phrase means anything, to a newly-Sprung Arab, it means freedom to embrace the yoke of Allah. Ben Ali, Mubarak and in his own way Assad kept a lid on some of the worst excesses of Islam. The Arab Spring will free their former subjects to oppress their Copts, mutilate their women and honour kill their children. And yes, many want to migrate to the West so they can do it there as well.

[C]alls among young activists for an “Islamist state”, or for the use of violence to create it, are symptoms of deeper social issues. A Muslim population that feels at home in and with the West will not produce people who wish to undermine it. Yet Muslim leaders in Britain and America are still struggling to articulate confidently a form of Islam that is in harmony with the modern world. Too often, Islam becomes a political rallying cry, and not the devotional, contemplative religion that it ought to be.

So it's our fault, in the West, for not making Muslims feel at home. We should give them more benefits, more free housing, more free medical care, and above all, more Quilliams. Only then will Islam do as it "ought" and become devotional and contemplative. It hasn't made much progress in the last fourteen hundred years, but in another fourteen hundred, Quilliam's work will be done and a future Husain can retire on a fat pension.

What happens inside our Muslim communities matters to all of us. The kind of Islam being shaped there will affect wider society in years to come. It is imperative, therefore, that Muslims are not left alone to steer their religion in the direction of the angry, sectarian faith seen in Pakistan.

Of course we can't leave Muslims alone, either here or abroad. Let's send more money to Pakistan. Let's set up Quilliam in Pakistan. And Saudi Arabia, while we're at it  - they're really poor, after all.

Strangely enough, we've left Buddhists alone in Tibet, and Christians alone in Armenia, and Animists alone in the Sudan, and none of these people have been tempted to "steer their religion in the direction of [an] angry sectarian faith". And I've yet to see the need for a Jewish Quilliam.

Plausible, pernicious "Ed" Husain, you do my 'ed in.

Posted on 09/14/2011 9:59 AM by Mary Jackson
Wednesday, 14 September 2011
An ‘Earthquake’ in the NY-9th Congressional District Special Election?

Victorious Bob Turner in NY 9th CD

Last night I was ending a Skype call with Matthew and Rabbi Jonathan Hausman, when we focused on the results of the special election in New York’s 9th Congressional District (CD) that cuts across the City’s Brooklyn and Queens Boroughs. We Goggled WCBS880 in New York and noted Turner’s six point lead in exit polling after polls closed at 9:00PM EDT.  Matt Hausman speculated that lead might increase, as some of the more than 173,000 largely conservative Orthodox and Russian Jews in the district might resist revealing their actual votes cast. The JTA noted in its report on the New York special election GOP victory that the NY 9th is the fourth largest Jewish Congressional district in the country, with 40 percent of total voter registration. The NY 9th also had a predominate 73 to 19 percent Democratic versus Republican registration. The special election contest pitted Republican Candidate Robert Turner, a retired Cable- TV executive and producer of “The Jerry Springer Show,” a Catholic, against Democratic State Senator David Weprin an Orthodox Jew.

After the tallies were complete Turner won 53% to 44% for Weprin. For the first time since 1923 a Republican had been elected to Congress from the NY 9th. Turner had apparently surged late in the campaign for the seat held by former disgraced Democratic Congressman Anthony Wiener after he had mislead the media and presumably his Muslim wife about his antics on Twitter. This Republican victory in the New York 9th came as Weprin refused to concede defeat, waiting for absentee ballots to be counted. He finally conceded early this morning when the vote count became definitive.   

Weprin had heavy support from unions, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), Democratic National Committee head, Florida Congresswoman, Debbie Wasserman Shultz, and an endorsement from the New York Times. It was alleged that George Soros had put $100,000 into Weprin’s campaign coffers. Turner had endorsements from Pete King, US House Homeland Security Committee Chairman and Hizzoner, Ed Koch. They both showed up at Turner’s victory celebration. Koch in particular made his endorsement of Turner a referendum on Obama’s mishandling of support for Israel. Watch a You Tube video of his endorsement of Turner. The New York Times, in the pre-election editorial criticized Koch for his Israel stand and endorsed Weprin. Turner had also made his election a referendum about Obama’s domestic policy failures and performance.

Watch this AP YouTube video of Koch and others at Turner’s victory celebration.

The Republicans are touting this "earthquake,” a wakeup call to Obama that his domestic policies had failed and stiff arming of Israel had backfired. The pre-election Siena poll of likely Jewish voters in the NY 9th indicated a 54 percent unfavorable view of Obama’s performance in his 32 months in office. The Democrats said this was an aberration. They cited the heavily Orthodox and conservative Russian Jewish voters in the NY 9th who were not representative of their more liberal co-religionists elsewhere in the US. They touted the fact that redistricting of New York State Congressional districts based on the decennial census might make Turner a onetime aberration, as New York will likely lose two Congressional seats, one of them possible being the NY-9th.

A WCBS 880 report on the Turner victory noted this DCCC statement:

 “The results … are not reflective of what will happen in November 2012 when Democratic challengers run against Republican incumbents who voted to end Medicare and cut social security while protecting tax loopholes for big corporations and the ultra wealthy.”

The GOP can crow about the results of both the NY 9th CD victory and the other special election results in Nevada. There State Senator Mark Amodei beat his Democratic contender Kate Marshall to fill the Nevada 2nd CD left vacate when Dean Heller was appointed to the US Senate seat vacated by Republican Senator John Ensign who resigned in disgrace over an extra-marital affair with an aide. The New York 9th special election victory breaks the run of five previous special election Democratic House victories.

Like the Actor Claude Raines as the Vichy French Police Captain in the classic film Casablanca, the Obama re-election campaign must be ‘shocked, shocked’ about last night special election results in the NY 9th

Republicans and conservative Jews can now use the NY 9th special election results to focus media attention on the Obama White House scrambling to deter votes at the UN General Assembly to prevent an unilateral declaration of a Palestinian State, demanded by the Palestinian Authority (PA), the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Saudis. The PA refuses to recognize the Jewish State of Israel and has made this a denouement issue for the Obama Administration. Coming  in the wake of the  massive protests and attack on the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, the Obama Administration, now has to be concerned about last night’s  political  ‘earthquake’ in the NY 9th. The Republican victory in the NY 9th special election may reveal erosion of traditional liberal Democratic Jewish votes and funding for his re-election.

Posted on 09/14/2011 10:58 AM by Jerry Gordon
Wednesday, 14 September 2011
Zaccheus He/Did Climb The Tree/Our Lord To See

A Lesson for Children.

Pray to God. Call no ill names. Love God. Use no ill words. Fear God. Tell no lies. Serve God. Hate Lies. Take not God's name in vain. Speak the Truth.  Spend your Time well. Do not Swear. Love your School. Do not Steal. Mind your Book. Cheat not in your play. Strive to learn. Play not with bad boys. Be not a Dunce. 

A In ADAM'S Fall 
We sinned all. 
B Heaven to find; 
The Bible Mind. 
C Christ crucify'd 
For sinners dy'd. 
D The Deluge drown'd 
The Earth around. 
By Ravens fed. 
F The judgment made 
FELIX afraid. 


G As runs the Glass, 
Our Life doth pass. 
H My Book and Heart 
Must never part. 
J JOB feels the Rod,-- 
Yet blesses GOD. 
K Proud Korah's troop 
Was swallowed up 
L LOT fled to Zoar, 
Saw fiery Shower 
On Sodom pour. 
M MOSES was he 
Who Israel's Host 
Led thro' the Sea 


N NOAH did view 
The old world & new. 
All were pious. 
P PETER deny'd 
His Lord and cry'd. 
Q Queen ESTHER sues 
And saves the Jews. 
R Young pious RUTH, 
Left all for Truth. 
S Young SAM'L dear, 
The Lord did fear. 


Learnt sin to fly. 
V VASHTI for Pride 
Was set aside. 
W Whales in the Sea, 
GOD's Voice obey. 
X XERXES did die, 
And so must I. 
Y While youth do chear 
Death may be near. 
Did climb the Tree 
Our Lord to see. 


Posted on 09/14/2011 1:13 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 14 September 2011
I Know What B And C Are For, But What About A?

Ever notice just how many Indian tribes begin with the letter "C"? Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek? Of the Five Civilized Tribes, as they were once called -- which didn't save them from the Trail of Tears within this Vale of Tears -- only the Seminole tribe begins without a "C."

And come to think of it, why do so many Russian poets of the Silver Age have names that begin with the letter "B"? There's Konstantin Balmont, and Valery Bryusov, and Alexander Blok and even though he's best known for his prose, the inimitable Andrey Bely. . Even if  we mustn't count the later-dated Bagritsky and Brodsky, that 's still a lot of Bees in our silver-age bonnet. 

So let's go over those letters again in our New England Primer. .

C is for American Indian.

B. is for Russian poets of the Silver Age.

I wonder what A is for.

When I know that, then I'll be able to say I know my ABC's.

And then won't you, at long last, come and play with me?

Posted on 09/14/2011 12:22 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 14 September 2011
Nothing here but words

An oldie (relatively speaking) from The Onion, that most a-peeling of sites:

WASHINGTON—Unable to rest their eyes on a colorful photograph or boldface heading that could be easily skimmed and forgotten about, Americans collectively recoiled Monday when confronted with a solid block of uninterrupted text.

Dumbfounded citizens from Maine to California gazed helplessly at the frightening chunk of print, unsure of what to do next. Without an illustration, chart, or embedded YouTube video to ease them in, millions were frozen in place, terrified by the sight of one long, unbroken string of English words.

"Why won't it just tell me what it's about?" said Boston resident Charlyne Thomson, who was bombarded with the overwhelming mass of black text late Monday afternoon. "There are no bullet points, no highlighted parts. I've looked everywhere—there's nothing here but words."

Nothing but words???!!!??? :-(( WTF????!!! OMG.

Posted on 09/14/2011 12:40 PM by Mary Jackson
Wednesday, 14 September 2011
From The Police Blotter At The Fiscal Times
September 2, 2011

No Social Security number? No problem.

The IRS paid out billions in refundable tax credits to undocumented immigrant workers last year, according to a new Treasury audit.

Federal law bars illegal immigrants from collecting tax benefits, like the Earned Income Tax Credit, that can be claimed by residents with Social Security numbers. But the Treasury report found that the tax code’s lack of clarity is allowing the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC), which reduces taxes owed by certain individuals with children, to be heavily claimed by undocumented workers;if their tax bills dip below zero, they can collect government checks. 

Even wages earned illegally in the U.S. are taxed. Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) are available to people without Social Security numbers who cannot legally work in the U.S. so they can file tax returns. These ITINs have become increasingly linked to fraudulent tax claims, which helped inflate IRS payouts on the Additional Child Tax Credit from $924 million in 2005 to $4.2 billion, the report said. 

“The payment of federal funds through this tax benefit appears to provide an additional incentive for aliens to enter, reside, and work in the United States without authorization, which contradicts federal law and policy to remove such incentives,” the report said. 

The report attributed the massive outpouring of child tax credit refunds to recent expansions of the credit as part of the 2001 Bush tax cuts and the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the legislation that created the stimulus program.

In response to the report, IRS officials said they would follow one of its recommendations to meet with Treasury officials to determine whether people unauthorized to work in the U.S. can collect refundable tax credits. But the IRS rebuffed the audit’s second recommendation that it collect additional documentation from people claiming the ACTC, arguing that the agency lacks the legal authority to challenge such tax returns. 

Any suggestion that the IRS shouldn’t be paying out these credits under current law to ITIN holders is simply incorrect,” IRS spokesperson Michelle Eldridge told The Fiscal Times in a statement.  “The IRS administers the law impartially and applies it as written. If the law were changed, the IRS would change its programs accordingly.”

The audit underscores a broader debate about the contribution of illegal immigrants to the U.S. economy, as well as who is ultimately charged with enforcing immigration law.

The IRS doesn’t seem to think its job is to make sure people who are claiming these credits are entitled to them. The children may or may not be living abroad--or even exist. It’s absurd, almost a joke,” said Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a group which advocates securing U.S. borders.  “The IRS scares the heck out of most Americans, so there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be just as vigilant against people in the country illegally….especially when the deficit is topping $1.5 trillion.”

However, some groups argue that as members of U.S. Society who contribute to the economy, undocumented workers have every right to claim tax benefits.

An April study by the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy found that undocumented immigrants paid $11.2 billion in taxes in 2010. It estimated that nearly half of all illegal immigrants pay income taxes.

“Undocumented immigrants are undoubtedly positive for the fiscal health of this country,” says Leticia Miranda, associate director of the Economic Policy Project at National Council of La Raza, a group that advocates for Hispanics in the U.S.  She says that harping on the number of undocumented immigrants claiming this credit glosses over the bottom line that these workers are paying hefty sums into the Social Security trust fund, despite having no claim on the benefits. The Social Security Administration’s chief actuary estimated last year that undocumented immigrants had paid $120 billion to $240 billion into the Social Security trust fund as of 2007. “If you make it impossible for people to make those tax payments, that would be a self-inflicted wound to the budget of this country,” says Miranda.


Posted on 09/14/2011 1:22 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 14 September 2011
Curry In Favor

Primary Component in Curry Spice Kicks Off Cancer-Killing Mechanisms in Human Saliva

ScienceDaily (Sep. 12, 2011) — Curcumin, the main component in the spice turmeric used in curry, suppresses a cell signaling pathway that drives the growth of head and neck cancer, according to a pilot study using human saliva by researchers at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. The inhibition of the cell signaling pathway also correlated with reduced expression of a number of pro-inflammatory cytokines, or signaling molecules, in the saliva that promote cancer growth, said Dr. Marilene Wang, a professor of head and neck surgery, senior author of the study and a Jonsson Cancer Center researcher.

"This study shows that curcumin can work in the mouths of patients with head and neck malignancies and reduce activities that promote cancer growth," Wang said. "And it not only affected the cancer by inhibiting a critical cell signaling pathway, it also affected the saliva itself by reducing pro-inflammatory cytokines within the saliva."

The study appears Sept. 15 in Clinical Cancer Research, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Association of Cancer Research.

Turmeric is a naturally occurring spice widely used in South Asian and Middle Eastern cooking and has long been known to have medicinal properties, attributed to its anti-inflammatory effects. Previous studies have shown it can suppress the growth of certain cancers. In India, women for years have been using turmeric as an anti-aging agent rubbed into their skin, to treat cramps during menstruation and as a poultice on the skin to promote wound healing.

A 2005 study by Wang and her team first showed that curcumin suppressed the growth of head and neck cancer, first in cells and then in mouse models. In the animal studies, the curcumin was applied directly onto the tumors in paste form. In a 2010 study, also done in cells and in mouse models, the research team found that the curcumin suppressed head and neck cancer growth by regulating cell cycling, said scientist Eri Srivatsan, an adjunct professor of surgery, article author and a Jonsson Cancer Center researcher who, along with Wang, has been studying curcumin and its anti-cancer properties for seven years.

The curcumin binds to and prevents an enzyme known as IKK, an inhibitor of kappa β kinase, from activating a transcription factor called nuclear factor kappa β (NFκβ), which promotes cancer growth.

In this study, 21 patients with head and neck cancers gave samples of their saliva before and after chewing two curcumin tablets totaling 1,000 milligrams. One hour later, another sample of saliva was taken and proteins were extracted and IKKβ kinase activity measured. Thirteen subjects with tooth decay and five healthy subjects were used as controls, Wang said.

Eating the curcumin, Wang said, put it in contact not just with the cancer but also with the saliva, and the study found it reduced the level of cancer enhancing cytokines.

An independent lab in Maryland was sent blind samples and confirmed the results -- the pro-inflammatory cytokines in the saliva that help feed the cancer were reduced in the patients that had chewed the curcumin and the cell signaling pathway driving cancer growth was inhibited, Wang said.

"The curcumin had a significant inhibitory effect, blocking two different drivers of head and neck cancer growth," Wang said. "We believe curcumin could be combined with other treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation to treat head and neck cancer. It also could perhaps be given to patients at high risk for developing head and neck cancers -- smokers, those who chew tobacco and people with the HPV virus -- as well as to patients with previous oral cancers to fight recurrence."

The curcumin was well tolerated by the patients and resulted in no toxic effects. The biggest problem was their mouths and teeth turned bright yellow.

"Curcumin inhibited IKKβ kinase activity in the saliva of head and neck cancer patients and this inhibition correlated with reduced expression of a number of cytokines," the study states. "IKKβ kinase could be a useful biomarker for detecting the effects of curcumin in head and neck cancer."

To be effective in fighting cancer, the curcumin must be used in supplement form. Although turmeric is used in cooking, the amount of curcumin needed to produce a clinical response is much larger. Expecting a positive effect through eating foods spiced with turmeric is not realistic, Wang said.

The next step for Wang and her team is to treat patients with curcumin for longer periods of time to see if the inhibitory effects can be increased. They plan to treat cancer patients scheduled for surgery for a few weeks prior to their procedure. They'll take a biopsy before the curcumin is started and then at the time of surgery and analyze the tissue to look for differences.

"There's potential here for the development of curcumin as an adjuvant treatment for cancer," Wang said. "It's not toxic, well tolerated, cheap and easily obtained in any health food store. While this is a promising pilot study, it's important to expand our work to more patients to confirm our findings."

Finding ways to better treat head and neck cancers is vital as patients often require disfiguring surgery, often losing parts of their tongue or mouth. They also experience many side effects, including difficulty swallowing, dry mouth and have the potential for developing another oral cancer later.

The study was funded by Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Health System, West Los Angeles Surgical Education Research Center, UCLA Academic Senate, the National Institutes of Health and the Veterans Administration.

Posted on 09/14/2011 1:28 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 14 September 2011
Cockney Alphabet

   A is for ‘orses
   B for mutton
   C for miles
   D for dumb
   E for Peron
   F for vescent
   G for police
   H from Steps
   I for the engine
   J for cakes
   K for teria
   L for leather
   M for size
   N for lope
   O for the rainbow
   P for relief
   Q for a bus
   R for Fowler
   S for Rantzen
   T for gums
   U for mystic
   V for la France
   W money
   X for breakfast
   Y for runts
   Z for wind

Posted on 09/14/2011 1:32 PM by Mary Jackson
Wednesday, 14 September 2011
Panetta Recognizing Pakistan As What It Always Has Been And Will Be

Panetta expresses frustration with Pakistan, says US will do all it can to root out militants

By Associated Press, September 14

ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT — Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Wednesday expressed frustration with Islamabad, warning that the U.S. will not allow the attacks on U.S. forces from Pakistan-based insurgents like the Haqqani network to continue.

Pointing to the 20-hour assault against the U.S. Embassy and NATO headquarters in Kabul that finally ended Wednesday, Panetta said it is unacceptable that the Haqqanis are able to launch such deadly attacks and then flee to safe havens across the border in Pakistan.

The message they need to know is: we’re going to do everything we can to defend our forces,” Panetta told reporters traveling with him to San Francisco for meetings with Australian officials.

He refused to say whether the U.S. plans to take any new military actions, but there has been an escalating U.S. campaign of drone strikes into Pakistan’s border regions.

“Time and again we’ve urged the Pakistanis to exercise their influence over these kinds of attacks from the Haqqanis, and we have made very little progress in that area,” Panetta said. “I’m not going to talk about how we’re going to respond. ... We’re not going to allow these types of attacks to go on.”

U.S. officials have blamed the Haqqani network for the nearly daylong assault on the heavily guarded Afghan capital. The attack left 27 dead, including police, civilians and attackers, officials said.

Panetta’s remarks reflect growing U.S. impatience over Islamabad’s reluctance to go after the Haqqanis, who are connected to both the Taliban and al-Qaida and present the most significant threat to Afghanistan’s stability. U.S. officials have repeatedly pressed the Pakistanis to move against insurgent havens in the border region, including in North Waziristan.

The Haqqanis use the lawless territory to launch attacks against U.S. and Afghan forces across the border.

U.S. relations with Pakistan have been rocky amid complaints about the increased American drone attacks across the border. But they worsened after the U.S. special operations forces crossed into Pakistan in May to raid the Abbottabad compound where al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden had been hiding for years. Bin Laden was killed in the raid, and Pakistani officials were angry about what they considered an assault on their country’s sovereignty.

No NATO or U.S. Embassy employees were hurt in the Kabul attack that ended around dawn Wednesday. Eleven Afghan civilians were killed, more than half of them children, said U.S. Marine Corps Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan. Five Afghan police officers were also killed, along with 11 insurgents.

Asked whether the attack raised concerns about the Afghans’ ability to take over their own security, Panetta said that overall their response was good. He repeated U.S. assertions that the violence levels in Afghanistan continue to decline, and that the Taliban has been weakened.

“These kinds of sporadic attacks and assassination attempts are more a reflection of the fact that they are losing their ability to be able to attack our forces on a broader scale,” Panetta said.

In other remarks to reporters, the defense chief said that negotiations are progressing well with the Iraqis over a continued U.S. presence in that country after the end of the year.

He said there has been no decision on the number of U.S. troops that may stay, but the talks are centering on what kind of training and counterterrorism assistance the Iraqis will need,

The Iraqis are grappling with whether they will formally ask the Obama administration to keep a relatively small number of U.S. troops — between 3,000 and 10,000 — in Iraq beyond the military’s Dec. 31 withdrawal deadline.

U.S. officials favor a plan that would leave between 3,000-5,000 troops there, largely to train Iraqi forces. The Obama administration is also considering staging American troops in Kuwait next year as a backup or rotational training force for Iraq.

U.S. officials are concerned that without additional training, the Iraqi forces will not be able to defend its borders or air space, and may squander the hard-fought security gains.

Officials have talked about the plans on condition of anonymity because nothing is final. About 45,000 U.S. troops are in Iraq.

Posted on 09/14/2011 9:41 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 14 September 2011
A Musical Interlude: Thank Your Father (Adrian Schubert Orch., voc. Scrappy Lambert)

Listen here.

Posted on 09/14/2011 9:51 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 14 September 2011
Okay, So The Diamonds And Gems Were Never Loaded Onto The Plane In The First Place

Talk about covering your tracks:

Swissair crash may not have been an accident: ex-RCMP

 Sep 14, 2011

Transport Safety Board investigator Don Enns displays debris from Swissair Flight 111 at the reconstruction hangar at CFB Shearwater near Halifax, N.S., in 1999. Transport Safety Board investigator Don Enns displays debris from Swissair Flight 111 at the reconstruction hangar at CFB Shearwater near Halifax, N.S., in 1999. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

An investigator looking into the crash of Swissair Flight 111 near Peggys Cove, N.S., says he was prevented by senior RCMP and aviation safety officials from pursuing his theory that an incendiary device might have been the cause.

"There was sufficient grounds to suspect a criminal device on that plane," retired RCMP sergeant Tom Juby, who was an arson investigator assigned to the Swissair file, told CBC's The Fifth Estate.

"I'm convinced that the investigation was improperly done," he said.

The flight from New York to Geneva crashed into the Atlantic Ocean on Sept. 2, 1998, killing 229 passengers and crew. The plane carried a Saudi prince, a relative of the former shah of Iran and high profile UN officials. A half a billion dollars of diamonds and gems were also never found.

The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada said that it was an accident caused by a fire in the cockpit, likely sparked by an electrical fault.

But Juby said high levels of magnesium — a key ingredient in an incendiary device — were discovered in the cockpit area. Several other investigators and a federal scientist who The Fifth Estate spoke to supported Juby's informed suspicions.

Metallurgist Dr. Jim Brown discovered suspicious levels of magnesium and other elements associated with arson in melted wiring from the section of the plane that suffered the greatest fire damage.

"There was a lot of magnesium. More than I would have expected," he said.

Instead, the TSB was focused on the crash being the result of an accident. Any hint of criminal activity meant it would be forced to drop the probe and turn it over to the RCMP.

Juby said the RCMP did not support his findings and that he was pressured to stop his own inquiries. He said the RCMP brass ordered him to remove any reference to magnesium or a suspected bomb from his investigative notes.

Juby said he has tried but failed to set the record straight inside the RCMP for years. He said the system failed too.

"If Canada can't follow through on 229 potential homicides, then you know, what happens when there's only one?" he said.

The RCMP and the TSB repeatedly refused to comment about Juby's allegations.

Posted on 09/14/2011 10:06 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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