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These are all the Blogs posted on Tuesday, 15, 2012.
Tuesday, 15 May 2012
Harlem should get a street named for slain Police Officer Phillip Cardillo

From the New York Daily News

Officer Phillip Cardillo was assigned to the 28th Precinct in Harlem when he was slain in the line of duty during an infamous, racially charged episode for which there has been no justice. Now, more than 40 years later, the Police Department wants the block of W. 127th St. alongside the stationhouse named for Cardillo, who was 32, married and the father of an infant son when he was lured into a fatal ambush.

The designation would entail the placement of a street sign in memory both of Cardillo and of the seminal events that happened in the city’s history the night of April 14, 1972. On the abundant merits, the NYPD’s request should be sailing through with universal acclamation.

But no

Four decades later, the local community board, which has a say over such things, is balking out of misplaced concerns that some in the community might take offense. (And what 'community' might that be pray?)

If they do, so what? Now is the time to do right in recognition of a brave man’s sacrifice and victimization.

Cardillo and three fellow officers responded to a report that a cop was in trouble in Nation of Islam Muhammed Mosque 7, then located on W. 116th St. and headed by Louis Farrakhan.

The report turned out to be bogus. Inside the mosque, at least 15 men confronted the cops. A melee ensued, during which Cardillo was fatally shot in the chest. In the turmoil that followed, police commanders, apparently fearing a riot, withdrew from the building. They established no crime scene, and they let 16 witnesses go.

As a result, the one man brought to trial in Cardillo’s death was acquitted for lack of physical evidence or convincing testimony, and no one else has even been so much as charged. The NYPD this year closed a cold-case reinvestigation without action.

It has never been established to this day who lured the cops to the mosque, or why.

Community Board 10 wants the NYPD to get assurances from leaders of Mosque 7, now located on W. 127th St., and from those of the Malcolm Shabazz Mosque, which occupies the 116th St. site, that they have no objections.

The board has it backward in placing such an obligation on the department.

Its requirement appears designed to serve as a rationale for denying the NYPD’s application despite the overwhelming grounds for memorializing both the man that Cardillo was and the horrendous circumstances under which his life was taken.

Whatever the truth of that grim and bloody night, two things are beyond question. Cardillo was killed needlessly, and he gave his life protecting the people of the City of New York.

It reminds me of the murder of PC Keith Blakelock during the Tottenham Broadwater Farm riots in 1985, other than that, to my knowledge, the black mob who killed him were not also Muslim. His wounds were the work of more than one person, indeed were the work of a mob but no one was punished for his death. Three men were convicted but released on appeal and, like the men believed to be responsible for the murder of Charlene Downes, were generously compensated with public money for their inconvienience. One of them did serve time for another murder.

An interesting side issue is that more public money was poured into the estate after the riots to provide community centres and sports and leisure facilities for the rioting residents who were mainly West Indian and Caribbean at that time. I hear that there is now tension on the estate between them and West African newcomers who are enthusiastic users of the facilities. These are ours say the older of the black communities; we fought hard for them.

PC Blakelock doesn't have a street named in his honour. He had a memorial stone at Muswell Hill police station some miles from Tottenham where he was based. When that station closed the stone was moved to the High Street where it was vandalised a few years ago. A man was arrested, but if the case reached court it was never reported in the press.

Posted on 05/15/2012 3:28 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 15 May 2012
Belgium court charges six people in deadly exorcism of Muslim woman

This from Al Arabiya is the only English language report I can find of this. The Moroccan press reports in french and the local press in Flemish.

A court in Brussels opened on Monday the trial of six people charged in connection with the 2004 murder of a young Muslim woman in a deadly act of exorcism, a practice of evicting demons or other spiritual entities from a person believed to be possessed.

The woman was reportedly deceived into believing that she could not have children because she was possessed and that she had to undergo a practice of exorcism. But the woman apparently could not stand the severe punishment the exorcism allegedly entails to scourge the demon out of the body, and she lost her life.

The detainees in the case include two self-appointed exorcists, the victim’s husband and three female members of a radical Muslim group, (I would like to know what radical group) will be standing trial for three weeks and facing charges of “torture leading to death.”

Hours after Latifa Hachmi, 23, died in the evening of Aug. 5, 2004, her husband, Mourad Mazouj, made an emergency call reporting that his wife was feeling ill and stuck in the bathroom. But the hypothesis of a natural death was quickly dismissed, as her body was found covered with bruises and her lungs filled with water.

Her husband later admitted to investigators that his wife was subjected month-long sessions of exorcism to evict from her body the demons that “prevented her from becoming pregnant.”

The practice was conducted in the couple’s apartment in Brussels by Abdelkrim Aznagui, a Moroccan self-proclaimed “Sheik” and his “disciple,” Xavier Meert, a Belgian native who converted to Islam. They were reportedly assisted by the woman’s husband and three Muslim “sisters” of the victim.

During this period, the young woman had swallowed dozens of liters of “holy” water, according to Belgian media reports. She was fed two spoons of yogurt every day and always had earphones playing verses from the Quran. In order to evict the demons, the exorcists reportedly put their fingers down the woman’s throat, forced her into bathing in hot water and beat her with a stick.

Posted on 05/15/2012 4:08 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 15 May 2012
Earth Going To Hell In A Handbasket

From CNN:

Earth 'going downhill' as consumption rises, report says

By Hilary Whiteman
 May 15, 2012
Hong Kong (CNN) -- From high above the earth, an astronaut launched the latest report card on the health of the planet which once again paints an alarming image of over-consumption and exploitation.

In a recorded message, Andre Kuipers, an astronaut with the European Space Agency on his second mission to the International Space Station, said he had a unique view of the earth which he orbits 16 times a day.

"From space, you see the forest fires, you see the air pollution, you see erosion," he said, launching the World Wildlife Fund's Living Planet Report for 2012.

The biennial survey shows the world is still consuming far more than the Earth can replenish, along with a widening and "potentially catastrophic" gap between the ecological footprints of rich and poor nations.

"The report is clear that we're still going downhill, that our ecological footprint, the pressure we put on the earth's resources, continues to rise so we're now using 50% more resources that the earth can replenish and biodiversity continues to decline," said Jim Leape, Director General of WWF International.

The report includes a list of the world's top 10 polluting countries topped by Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates in the Middle East. They're followed by Denmark, Belgium and the United States. Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and Ireland make up the remainder.

Countries are ranked on their consumption of renewable resources versus their biocapacity, or ability to produce renewable resources and absorb CO2 emissions. Dominating the list are high-income countries, whose average ecological footprint is now five times that of low-income nations.

And the gap is increasing. Between 1970 and 2008, the ecological footprint of high-income nations rose seven percent, the report said. Over that period, the same index for poor countries tumbled 60%.

The disparity indicates richer nations are buying resources from poorer countries which have natural resources available to exploit, the report said.

"What one of the things that we as a global community have been slow to realize is that even in an industrialized economy will still demand very directly on the health of natural systems to provide the water we drink and to keep the climate stable," Leape said.

"As you see forest loss continue, as you see the depletion of rivers, you are undercutting the foundation for economic development in those countries," he said.

Leape said there are signs some large business and governments are taking steps to reduce their burden on the environment. Denmark, for example, number four on the list of worst polluters, has pledged to double the nation's windpower and to wean itself off fossil fuels by 2050.

Top 10 polluting countries:
Qatar

Kuwait

United Arab Emirates

Denmark

Belgium

United States

Australia

Canada

Netherlands

Ireland

"What you see now is companies and governments who are on the vanguard beginning to make shifts but those shifts have to be driven down into entire markets and across all governments. We're not yet getting to the scale required to begin to bend the curves," Leape said.

The impact of rich nations worldwide is clear in figures showing that the steepest drop in biodiversity over the past 40 years has occurred in poorer countries. The decline, the report said, demonstrates "how the poorest and most vulnerable nations are subsidizing the lifestyles of wealthier nations."

"Growing external resource dependencies are putting countries at significant risk," said Mathis Wackernagel, President of Global Footprint Network, which collaborated with the WWF and the Zoological Society of London on the report.

"Using ever more nature, while having less is a dangerous strategy, yet most countries continue to pursue this path," he said.

The main feature of the Living Planet Report is the Living Planet Index which tracks the health of the world's ecosystems by monitoring 9,000 populations of more than 2,600 species.

It shows a near 30% drop in biodiversity since 1970, and an even faster decline in the tropics of 60%. However, the index for temperate regions rose 31%, as some species showed signs of recovery after huge biodiversity losses the previous century.

"The read down on the temperate zone masks much more precipitous declines in other parts of the world. You see a huge loss of biodiversity across the tropics and in the poorest countries and I think that's the most alarming fact in those indices," Leape said.

The report was released just five weeks before the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, otherwise known as Rio +20.

"We need to see real leadership from the governments of the world coming together to commit themselves to step up to this challenge," Leape said.

"They can take some decisions in Rio that really would make a difference in terms of setting a new course for the global economy."

Posted on 05/15/2012 9:06 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 15 May 2012
Father-in-law, 56, who kept son's 22-year-old Pakistani bride as a sex slave was caught when she learned enough English to call 999

From the Daily Mail

An evil father-in-law who imprisoned his son’s Pakistani bride as a sex slave has been jailed – after his victim learned enough English to call police and beg for help. The depraved 56-year-old stripped the bride of her jewellery and passport after she came to Britain following an arranged marriage, a court heard.

He made her swear on the Koran that she would keep the abuse a secret and promised to heap shame on her by forcing her to divorce his son if she refused his demands for sex.

But after more than three months of abuse, she summoned the little English she had picked up and called 999 at dead of night to plead with the police for help

The Muslim, (who cannot be named to protect the identity of his victim) from Bradford, West Yorkshire, subjected the 22-year-old to ‘repeated and sustained’ sexual abuse, scratching her arm with a screwdriver and burning her with an iron to reinforce his authority over her, the court heard.

Her husband stayed out late and then stopped coming back to his parents’ home at all, leaving his bride under the power and control of her father-in-law. Prosecutor Richard Clews said he told her not to wear underwear to make the abuse easier. He molested her when his wife was out, after locking the house doors.  The man forced her to watch pornography and physically hurt her with his ‘unfaithful and disgusting activity’.

The man pleaded guilty to sexual assault, between May 1 and August 12, 2010, causing his victim to engage in sexual activity against her will causing her actual bodily harm.

Jailing him for seven years, Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC told the man: ‘She was your prisoner and slave in your home.’ He added: ‘The slavery turned into repeated, sustained sexual abuse and degradation.’

I think this Judge may  have heard the phrase ‘possession of your right hand’ somewhere.

Posted on 05/15/2012 10:16 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 15 May 2012
Takeaway owner jailed for 15 years for inciting child prostitution

From the Guardian. An update after conviction yesterday.

A takeaway owner has been jailed for 15 years for attempting to recruit girls as young as 12 into prostitution and paying other teenagers for sex in a case which was described as "cold, clinical exploitation of the desperate and the vulnerable".

When the victim was interviewed following his arrest, she was asked by police if she knew why she was being questioned, and replied: "Because of something that happened three years ago and now you have finally decided to do something about it."

The prosecution described the abuse as "cold, clinical exploitation of the desperate and the vulnerable". Miah told one of his victims: "In my country it doesn't matter about age."

The court heard that Miah, a Bangladeshi national, regarded the girls as "fresh meat" and asked prostitutes at the brothel to find young girls, whom he bombarded with hundreds of text messages promising to give them drugs, alcohol and money in return for sex.

Sentencing him to a total of 15 years on Tuesday, Judge Peter Hughes said: "This case reveals the seedier side of life in our town and city centres and what can happen to vulnerable and immature girls. . ."  Hughes said there were lessons for the police "to be ever vigilant to detect signs of the possible exploitation and abuse of vulnerable people and to take seriously what they say – however chaotic and difficult their lives may be".

The judge said a sad feature of the case was that there were a number of occasions when witnesses complained to police or community support officers about the defendant pestering them but their complaints were not taken further. "As a result opportunities were missed," he added. Hughes said the investigation owed much to the dedication and determination of one officer to trace the witnesses and make it possible for them to feel they could come forward.

He told Miah that his conduct "corrodes the foundations of decency and respect by which all right-thinking people live their lives". He said Miah had shown a total and selfish disregard for the victims' welfare.

He was jailed for nine years for four counts of paying for the sexual services of a child between 2006 and 2009, one of keeping a brothel between 2005 and 2011 and five years for the charges of inciting child prostitution. He was cleared of child prostitution charges relating to two other girls.

Posted on 05/15/2012 10:34 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 15 May 2012
It's grim up north
It's tough in Rochdale these days. You can't get a cab or kebab for love nor money.
Posted on 05/15/2012 2:06 PM by Mary Jackson
Tuesday, 15 May 2012
Come To Sunny Tunis

From The Tablet:

May 15, 2012

Forecast for Tunisia

As hopes fade for an Arab Spring, the country where it all started remains sunny—but for how long?

It’s no longer news that the Arab Spring has become unseasonably chilly. The Syrian revolution began as a nonviolent protest movement but is rapidly degenerating into a civil war. Libya is cracking up into a fragmented state controlled by hostile militias. And Egypt is ruled by the same Nasserist military dictatorship that seized power in 1952. (If the army there does step aside, don’t get excited: In last year’s election, two-thirds of Egyptians voted for Islamists—and a third of those chose the totalitarian Salafists, the ideological brethren of Osama Bin Laden.)

For a dash of optimism, though, one could do worse than to look to Libya’s North African neighbor to the west: Tunisia, the country actually responsible for kicking off this season of Arab revolutions. And if current trends in the region persist, it may be the only country of the Arab Spring that doesn’t slip back into winter.

It all started in the economically depressed town of Sidi Bouzid in December 2010, when a fruit vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi poured gasoline over his head and set himself on fire in front of city hall. Too cash-strapped to purchase a license, he plunged into despair when a municipal employee confiscated his scale and made it all but impossible for him to eke out even the meagerest living. Bouazizi’s suicide galvanized the locals into an uprising that swept across the countryside and eventually reached the capital, Tunis, where, just four weeks later, it toppled [1] the crooked and authoritarian regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Months of precarious instability followed, but hopes were raised, too. Interim leader Fouad Mebazaa promised [2]“a better political life which will include democracy, plurality, and active participation for all the children of Tunis.” Genuinely free and fair elections were held in October 2011.

As in Egypt, more than 100 political parties stood for election. Also as in Egypt, the Islamists were the best organized. Ennahda, a party led by radical activist Rached Ghannouchi, who spent 23 years in exile in Britain, won 42 percent of the vote.

For secular democrats, the results were both disheartening and encouraging. Disheartening because even though Ennahda ran on a relatively moderate platform—emphasizing jobs and religious freedom rather than political Islam—at the end of the day, the party’s leaders are Islamists, and they won more votes than anyone else. But it was also encouraging because they won less than half the votes and were forced into a coalition government with secular liberal parties.

Though the current government is temporary, it has the critical task of writing the new constitution. And last month, Ennahda’s leaders formally announced that they would not push for Islamic law, or Sharia, to be cited as even a source—let alone the source—of legislation in the new constitution.

This is an enormous step for an avowedly Islamist party, but we’ll see if it’s sincere. Are Tunisia’s Islamists capable of long-term moderation and power-sharing? Or are they simply being shrewd—saying the right things in order to bide their time until next year’s election, when they can consolidate more power? The answer will determine if Tunisia will actually transition to a liberal democracy or if theocracy is boiling slowly.

“Every Islamist in the world has the same ambition—the Islamization of the society,” I was told by Rami Sghayier, a young activist who works with Amnesty International. “A moderate doesn’t mind if it takes 10 or 20 years. An extremist wants it now. That’s the difference.”

***

I spent most of this March and part of April in Tunisia, but you hardly need that long to realize that the country is paradisiacal compared with its violent, dysfunctional neighbors. It even competes with southern Europe as a worthy destination in and of itself, with millions of tourists visiting each year. Whole swaths of the capital Tunis could easily be mistaken for France if you didn’t know better.

Indeed, Tunisia has been more European than any other country in the region since ancient times, beginning with colonization by the Roman Empire and continuing through its rule by the Byzantines, its relatively weak Arabization in the 7th century, and more recently during the period of French rule through the middle of the 20th century. The nation’s first president, Habib Bourguiba, took power in 1956 when the French imperialists left, and he was always more like modern Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk than any head of state in an Arabic-speaking country. He forged a thoroughly secular government, dismissing the veil as “that odious rag [3]” and banning it from schools and official buildings. He granted equal rights to women and oriented his country northward toward Europe rather than sideways toward Libya and Algeria.

Though he ruled as a dictator, Bourguiba always retained a solid base of support in the cosmopolitan coastal areas where most people in the country of 10 million live. And while he gave the opposition, particularly the Islamists, little political freedom, he did other things right. The majority of citizens became middle class after he scrapped his brief and botched experiment with socialist economics. After being forced to flee almost everywhere else in the Middle East and North Africa, 1,500 Jews in Tunisia remained as a protected minority.

It’s no wonder, then, that Tunisian society is accustomed to secularism and generally dubious of religious zealotry. While a large minority voted for Ennahda, many did so because the party candidates said that, rather than imposing clerical rule, they merely wished to repeal Bourguiba’s anti-religious edicts, such as the banning of headscarves in schools.

Ennahda has had to adjust to Tunisian society’s moderation in order to maintain popularity (hence their abandonment of a Sharia-based legal framework). Yet party officials I spoke to during my month-long trip there this spring were clearly trying to soften the impression of significant change. “This was an internal decision by Ennahda,” Houcine Jaziri, a member of the party and the secretary of state for emigration and Tunisians abroad, told me in his office in Tunis. “We never called for Sharia in Tunisian society anyway. We always called for a civil [secular] state.” Except this is not true. Ennahda officials were contradictory and vague on this point during the election and afterward, presumably because they knew perfectly well that the society as a whole was not yearning for political Islamization and were unsure they could win that fight with their coalition partners.

Ennahda’s leadership itself is divided into at least three separate factions. One segment wants Islamic law, full stop. Another is comfortable with a mixture of Islamic and secular law. A third faction—the one that ultimately came out on top in an internal struggle—has resigned itself to the fact that Sharia law may be impossible in Tunisia unless it can be imposed at gunpoint and thinks the party should drop it altogether or suffer egregiously at the polls. Even party head Rached Ghannouchi now says he does not want Sharia.

“Tunisia is a centrist country,” Jaziri told me. “Ennahda is being brave by not applying Sharia in the constitution.” This is an amazingly vague statement. Did he mean Ennahda was brave for standing up to the Salafists and its own internal hard-liners? Or that the Islamists are brave for trusting Tunisians to behave decently without clerical rule? He was evasive when I pressed the point but reminded me that religious values can and likely will inspire secular laws just as they do in countries such as the United States. “Laws regulating inheritance and so on,” he said, “will have Islam as a reference.”

Indeed, lest one get the wrong idea, it must be said: Many Tunisians do want an Islamic state. The Salafists desperately want one, of course, and they have Saudi Arabia in mind as a model. The hard right-wingers of Ennahda want an Islamist state, too. Others, mostly simple people in the conservative countryside, are drawn to the idea, but they have little understanding of how an Islamic state would actually work.

“Sharia is a very strong word,” Raja Ben Slama, a literature professor at the University of Tunis and a women’s rights activist, told me. “But it doesn’t mean anything in particular. There are two segments in Tunisia who want it. First there’s the segment that doesn’t know what it means. They’re fascinated by the word ‘Sharia’ because it refers to God and to Islam, so they like it even though they don’t know what it is. The other segment, the politicized one, knows what it is and knows why it wants it.”

“Sharia is human law,” Zeyneb Farhat, the director of Tunisia’s national theater, El Teatro, said to me over a bottle of wine at an Italian restaurant. “It is based on a human reading of the Quran. And there are 100 different schools of thought. So, what does Sharia even mean? To some Sharia means Islam while secularism means atheism. Ennahda does everything it can to promote this confusion.”

It’s true. One of Ennahda’s favorite tactics, both during the election campaign and continuing even now, is caricaturing the secular opposition as a bunch of decadent atheists. The party did run a moderate campaign last year, and it’s good news that it has publicly abandoned Sharia—at least for now—but some of its members routinely make extreme statements, including Ghannouchi, who has in the past praised Palestinian suicide bombers [5] and threatened the United States. “There must be no doubt that we will strike anywhere against whoever strikes Iraq,” he said during the first Gulf War [6]. “We must wage unceasing war against the Americans until they leave the land of Islam, or we will burn and destroy all their interests across the entire Islamic world.”

His most disturbing statements were made some time ago, but he still rattles Tunisian liberals. “Ghannouchi said ‘the Salafists are our sons,’ ” Sghayier, the young Amnesty International activist, said when I asked him his view on the man. “Excuse me, but the sons of who? The Tunisian people? Or the sons of Ennahda?”

***

On March 15 this year, Ennahda was given a righteous shellacking in nationwide university elections for posts in 40 academic establishments. The secular, left-of-center General Tunisian Student Union (UGET) won 250 out of 284 seats. Such an abysmally poor showing on Ennahda’s part suggests that the Islamists have lost a massive amount of popularity since last year’s election or that the rising generation rejects them out of hand—possibly both. Neither bodes well for the party’s future.

“They have learned some tough lessons these last four months,” says Ahmed Ounaies, the now-retired diplomat who briefly served as Tunisia’s foreign minister in the tumultuous days after Ben Ali’s departure last year. “They now admit that they’ll accept the claims by the democratic opposition in the assembly. They’re coming slowly, step by step, to the right way of ruling Tunisia.”

The liberal coastal elite is proving a formidable foe. “These people are clear-headed and are better prepared for the future,” Ounaies told me. “The newcomers are intruders in politics. They were either underground or in exile. The revolution was not theirs. Today’s Muslims are connected with modern life and are learning about it through TV, movies, and the Internet. They are not the theoretical Tunisian boys and girls Ennahda imagined. The Islamists’ thinking was superficial. They are being forced now into the concrete theater of responsibilities and are learning about the real Tunisian society. This rendezvous with history was inevitable.”

But the culture, progressive by Arab standards as it may be, still has a reactionary streak running through it. Farhat, the theater director, is relieved that she no longer has to contend with a police state, but something else, something less oppressive but at the same time a bit scarier for being less predictable, seems to have moved in to replace it. “After the revolution,” she said, “the censorship is different. This time the pressure is social instead of political. Two years ago the enemy was Ben Ali’s dictatorship. Nowadays the dictatorship comes from the people.”

Last summer, for example, a gang of Salafists set fire to a movie theater [7] downtown for showing Persepolis, an animated Iranian film about a young woman during and after the 1979 revolution that briefly depicts Allah as a bearded old man. To Westerners the scene would appear no more anti-religious than the 1980s American Oh God! films starring cigar-sucking comedian George Burns as God, but even benign depictions of Allah rile the likes of the Salafists.

Nor is state censorship entirely a thing of the past. A few weeks ago the government fined TV executive Nebil Karoui $1,500 for showing the same film on television. He then hired a team of bodyguards to protect himself and his family from Salafist vigilantes and other potentially violent enforcers of “piety.”

Right now, secularism and Islamism co-exist in Tunisia in the same uneasy balance maintained in Turkey. The future, however, may be kinder to secular parties than the recent past has been to Islamists, since faith won’t create jobs, boost salaries, or bring back jittery tourists. Secular parties are discussing mergers to consolidate and boost the size of their base. And the old elite—the ones who built the modern republic after the French left—are reorganizing themselves to come back in force.

“No party has a majority,” said Ounaies, the former foreign minister. “It will be the same during the next election, but we will have another political actor. There will be the comeback of the Destour.”

The Destour was the party of Habib Bourguiba, the modern republic’s secular founder. Parts of it later became Ben Ali’s corrupt and despotic party, and its crooked and ruthless officials are finished forever. But the economic, political, and cultural Bourguibist elite haven’t gone anywhere. And they’re done sitting on the sidelines.

“The philosophy is still there,” said Ounais. “The virtues of that philosophy are still there. The people are there. They have a network throughout the country. The corrupted and wrong people have been taken aside, as they should, but the rock is still there. And they’re coming back.”

***

For once—at least for now—opposing forces in an Arab country are more or less evenly matched, and politics aren’t being decided by violence. Iraq could have done it after Saddam Hussein was overthrown, but it failed. Egypt could have done so after Mubarak was removed from the palace, but it failed. Libya isn’t exactly on track. Much of the world hoped Lebanon might pull it off after the Cedar Revolution in 2005, but it was not in the cards, not with Hezbollah as the tip of the Syrian-Iranian spear. Only Tunisia has managed to replace bullets with ballots. The government was freely elected. No party has a militia. The mukhabarat, the secret police, have evaporated. The army is small, and it stays out of politics. Tunisians have little choice but to battle it out ideologically and at the ballot box.

The stakes couldn’t be higher. If this period is but an interlude, if the country does end up falling to radical Islam, every Arab country will be at serious risk. For if political liberalism cannot take root even here, it won’t be taking root anywhere in that part of the world anytime soon. But for now they have something that looks like democracy. We’ll see if they keep it.

Posted on 05/15/2012 5:18 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 15 May 2012
A Musical Interlude: Midnight Blue (Jack Hylton Orch.)
Listen here.
Posted on 05/15/2012 5:22 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 15 May 2012
Danny Wultz’s Posthumous Victory against Palestinian Terror

On the eve of Israel’s Independence Day, a Washington, DC federal court awarded the family of the late Daniel Wultz more than $377 million against both Syria and the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Miami Herald report, “Weston family of teen killed in Israel wins huge award against Syria, Iran” noted:

On Monday, a federal judge in Washington ordered the judgment in a lawsuit brought by the family of Daniel Wultz, a 16-year-old who was among 11 people killed by a suicide bomber who attacked a Tel Aviv restaurant on April 17, 2006. Daniel, a student at David Posnack Hebrew Day School in Plantation, was visiting Tel Aviv with his father, Yekutiel “Tuly” Wultz, who also was injured in the blast.

“We don’t look for any revenge,” Tuly Wultz said Tuesday. “Our purpose in our fight is to fight terrorism. We don’t want any more Daniels to die.”

Investigators tied the bombing to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a terrorist group based in Syria’s capital, Damascus, and which claimed responsibility for the attack. Lawyers for the Wultz family presented evidence that the group has received financing and other support from both the Iranian and Syrian governments over the years — making them liable for Daniel’s death.

The lawsuit was brought under a special provision of federal law that allows U.S. citizens to bring claims against foreign governments for terrorist acts. Some $300 million of the judgment was in punitive damages designed to punish Iran and Syria for their roles in the bombing.

“When a state chooses to use terror as a policy tool — as Iran and Syria continue to do — that state forfeits its sovereign immunity and deserves unadorned condemnation,” U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth wrote in his order on Monday — six years to the day after Daniel Wultz died from his injuries after 27 days in the hospital. “Barbaric acts like the April 17, 2006, terrorist bombing have no place in civilized society.”

Sheryl and Tuly Wultz have maintained the memory of their valiant 16 year old son Daniel, who died of grievous wounds, while shielding his father, Tuly.  

In a  joint presentation in Tallahassee, Florida in March 2010  by  Tuly Wultz  and  David Beamer, father  of 9/11 Flight 93  passenger, Todd Beamer, we noted in an, “A Victory in opposition to Florida Muslim Capitol Day”:

Beamer was followed by Israeli-American Tuly Wultz, a former IDF Special Forces officer. . .  Tuly told of the hatred of Jews expressed by the Palestinian suicide bomber’s mother who considered her son a hero.

Read our interview with David Beamer in the collection, The West SpeaksBeamer paid this heartfelt tribute to Tuly Wultz:

Tuly Wultz is one fine man and his loss of his son was terrible. Tuly is a warrior, a great man.

In October 2008, Tom Trento, director of The United West  called asking me to review a short film about this tragic event, “I Want to Live”.

 Here is what I wrote in about the film:

I opened the link to the film.  The first frames identified that the subject was about the short valiant life of 16 year old Daniel Cantor Wultz.   I had written about Daniel's death on Mother's Day in 2006 after 27 days of extensive life saving efforts in a hospital in Tel Aviv. […] In my earlier Israpundit post, I proposed renaming a pending piece of Congressional legislation denying US aid to Hamas in honor of the late Daniel Wultz.  I noted:

This would be a fitting memorial to the memory of this valiant young Zionist and a message to his killers that we in America will not countenance the veneration of the death cult and Charter of Hamas that seeks to destroy the Jewish state of Israel.

The parents of Daniel Wultz, Sheryl and Tuly, were courageous
to consent to this project on behalf of the Daniel Cantor Wultz Foundation.

During the period while Danny was in a Tel Aviv hospital, he was visited by his classmates from David Posnack Jewish Day School in Plantation who flew to Israel to maintain a bedside vigil while he put up a valiant fight for his life.  Sheryl and Tuly following the passing of Danny did something heroic they conceived and brought another child into this world. They also established a foundation in Danny’s memory.  If hard assets can be obtained from Syrian and Iranian funds sequestered in the West, they would likely go to fund the Daniel Cantor Wultz Foundation. 

The mission of the Foundation reflects Danny’s passion as a caring scholar athlete and the family’s commitment to educate about the threat of mindless Islamic terrorism:

The Daniel Cantor Wultz Foundation was established in 2006 by Daniel's family to memorialize the values and vision that inspired Daniel's life. The Foundation strives to create a safer world by engaging youth, educators and communities in activities that promote tolerance and acceptance.


Our Mission

Our mission is to educate people on the nature, tactics and goals of terrorism, promote global strategies for eradicating terrorism, and encourage socially responsible, ethically guided behaviors that contribute to a safe and peaceful world.

Justice has finally been rendered in the case of the late Daniel Cantor Wultz. What remains is for those Palestinians throwing rocks on al Nakba day to get the message they will not win. They should know that Danny’s ruah, his spirit in Hebrew, lives in Israel’s and the Jewish people’s defense of their ancestral Biblical homeland against the hate that took his life and 10 others in Tel Aviv six years ago. 

Posted on 05/15/2012 9:28 PM by Jerry Gordon
Tuesday, 15 May 2012
“We were not intimidated and we were not afraid,� said Stakelbeck at Portland State CUFI Event Protest

Erick Stakelbeck confronted  anti-Semitic pro-Palestinian agitators at  his presentation sponsored by the  Christians United for Israel (CUFI) Campus chapter  last night at Portland State University (PSU). However, as he commented, “We were not intimidated and we were not afraid”.  The confrontation was spurred on by Stakelbeck’s CBN blog post last Friday about defacing of CUFI posters for the May 14th event with swastikas within the six pointed Jewish star of an Israeli flag and scrawled terms like “never Again” and End the Palestiian occupation”. We noted in our post last Friday, “Stakelbeck Threated by Anti-Semites at Portland State University”:

This is not Stakelbeck’s first exposure on college campuses to anti-Israel and antisemitic pro-Palestinian activism equating Israeli 'occupation' of the disputed territories with the Nazi genocide that murdered six million Jewish men, women and children. He makes the point that Christians will not remain silent as many did during the Shoah.

Watch this local CBS affiliate news report on the background for last night’s confrontation:

CUFI’s national blog noted what occurred:

On May 14, 2012 CUFI students at Portland State University hosted a “Stand With Israel” event where CBN correspondent and terrorism analyst Erick Stakelbeck addressed a crowd of nearly 150 students and community members on “Terrorism, Israel, and the US”.

As the event approached, over 50 promotional flyers posted by the chapter disappeared or were defaced by anti-Israel activists, forcing the CUFI students to constantly repost flyers throughout the sprawling campus. Then, on Friday, a student made a shocking discovery: someone had scrawled a Nazi Swastika, as well as pro-Palestinian slogans, over a picture of the Star of David on several of the flyers.

            [. . .]

As the event was about to start, more than 40 people of all ages walked into the auditorium with signs reading “anti-Racism”, “Your Bigotry Is Showing”, and “Give Racists The Red Card” among other things. The slogans “Silence Racism” and “Free Palestine” were taped over their mouths. Campus police and security were on the scene, but stood by silently. When asked about their role, the Police responded that they were there to ensure that the rights of the protesters would be respected.

CUFI chapter president Josh Ahrens opened the evening by welcoming everyone in attendance and urging them to be respectful and ask questions at the end.

“The use of a swastika on the Star of David is akin to burning crosses on the lawns of African Americans. It is hate-speech, and it has no place here,” Ahrens said, condemning the use of slurs against the chapter and the speaker.

Three Jewish students also stood and explained how painful the Swastika was to them. As Stakelbeck began to speak, he repeatedly attempted to engage the protesters and begin a discussion. As he began to discuss Hezbollah, a secret sign was given for the protesters to stand and leave, at which point several began shouting slogans “Shame on Israel for Killing Gazans” “Free Israel from Judaism”, and waving their signs and banners.

In videos obtained by CUFI after the event, protesters equated Stakelbeck with members of the Klu Klux Klan, and openly applauded the 11 students at the University of California Irvine who shouted down Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren and were alter criminally charged for their actions.

Despite the opposition, the event was an overwhelming success, with many community members and students pledging to not be silent in the face of such hatred in their backyard.“I think Portland State is a better place because of what we did here

Stakelbeck’s powerful message – that the United States and Israel share a common enemy in radical Islam, primed the audience for further action on behalf of Israel.

“We were not intimidated and we were not afraid,” said Stakelbeck. “God bless CUFI on Campus, Watchmen and Watchwomen on the wall.”

Kol Hakavod (outstanding in Hebrew) to Erick Stakelbeck and the CUFI chapter leaders and Jewish students who stood up to hate mongering at Portland State University, last night.

Posted on 05/15/2012 10:26 PM by Jerry Gordon

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