These are all the Blogs posted on Thursday, 16, 2010.
Thursday, 16 December 2010
Authorities raid suspected Islamist groups in three German states
From Deutsche Welle
German security officials conducted raids on two alleged Islamist groups in three states on Tuesday, suspecting the groups were involved in anti-constitutional activities.
Authorities searched property belonging to the groups Invitation to Paradise, with offices in Moenchengladbach and Braunschweig, and the Islamic Cultural Center of Bremen, in the city-state on the North Sea coast, as well as the private residences of some members.
The Interior Ministry said in a statement that both organizations were suspected of working against constitutional order to establish an Islamic state in Germany, and that the raids had been planned for some time and were "in no way connected to the threat of international terrorism."
Federal authorities said the Islamic Cultural Center of Bremen is ideologically and organizationally close to Invitation to Paradise. Vogel (convert and boxer-turned-preacher Pierre Vogel, also known as Abu Hamza, a prominent member) and Invitation to Paradise have recently made local headlines after residents of Moenchengladbach and Braunschweig staged protests against the group.
According to the Christian Science Monitor
German officials said the preemptive raids, conducted under German anti-Nazi laws of association, were aimed at uncovering unconstitutional or separatist acts and not part of an international terror hunt. . . Invitation to Paradise's leader has called for sharia, or Islamic law, to prevail one day but has specifically opposed using violence to impose it.
While some experts say police overreacted in conducting the raids, German officials have come under great pressure from local media and citizen groups to respond to some Muslim organizations that appear to resist joining mainstream German society.
The German Interior Ministry said it was investigating efforts by radicals to overthrow the government on theological Islamic grounds. In a statement issued Tuesday, the ministry said that, “For a well-fortified democracy, it is necessary and demanded, without waiting for the jihad to occur in the form of armed struggle, to take action against anti-constitutional organizations.”
The use of anti-nazi laws is very appealling, and the knowledge that someone in authority somewhere has realised that it is not just the violent islamists who are dangerous and that stealth jihad is probably more of a threat to our peaceful future.
Posted on 12/16/2010 3:18 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thursday, 16 December 2010
Israeli Airport Security -- And Ours
Posted on 12/16/2010 9:04 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 16 December 2010
A Musical Interlude: Le Nez De ClÃ©opÃ¢tre (Ray Ventura Et Ses CollÃ©giens)
Watch, and listen, here.
The wide range of allusions in the song testify as to what the song's writers, and performers, could assume about their audience.
This song has been posted several times before. The first time I put it up, I included the following comment, which has accompanied all the later re-postings:
"This famous remark by Pascal is the basis for what we now call counterfactual history. And counterfactual history is not only for the historians, or teachers, or students. It is the basis for a song, Le nez de Clï¿½opï¿½tre, sung by Ray Ventura and his orchestra, back in 1938, a song I put up here last August.
The recent riots in Marseilles, Toulon, and elsewhere in southern France, by Muslim Arabs, wishing to take advantage of whatever flimsy excuse offered itself -- and the win of Algeria over Senegal at Blida constituted such a flimsy excuse -- to engage in a show of force and aggression, with the usual vandalism of cars and smash-and-grab operations with shop-windows, put me in mind of a line in that song.
Here, once again, is the song.
Prompted by the impulse that Pascal's famous counterfactual produces -- "Le nez de Clï¿½opï¿½tre : s'il eï¿½t ï¿½tï¿½ plus court, toute la face de la terre aurait changï¿½" -- the singers suggest others: if Romeo had not met Juliet, if all roads hadn't led to Rome, if La Gioconde had not smiled, if François Premier had bought himself a bicycle, If someone could understand the verses of Paul Valéry, and so on. I don't know what the reference to François Premier and the "bicyclette" is all about, and there is another line I don't understand, and it occurs at 1.03, when the singing waiter appears at the left of the screen and moves across it. His second line is: "Si les musulmanes n'avaient plus l'accent de Toulon."
What might that mean? I conclude that in France, in 1938, the Arabs of North Africa one was likely to encounter, all sounded as if they came from Toulon. This might well be, One assumes that many of the French who settled in North Africa came from the south, and carried with them their local accents. Toulon, a major port, the port from which ships left for, and came back from, Africa, might have had an outsize effect on the character of French in North Africa. And, too, the few Arabs or maghrebins who were then in France might have settled, in numbers, mainly in Toulon and Marseilles.
Listen to that song again. I wonder if that line would be sung quite so cheerfully today."
Posted on 12/16/2010 9:07 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 16 December 2010
I Can't Get Enough Of Giulio Meotti
Michael Totten interviews Giulio Meotti at PajamasMedia:
Encounter Books recently published Italian journalist Giulio Meotti’s gut wrenching book A New Shoah: The Untold Story of Israel’s Victims of Terrorism. At first glance I thought his title might be over-the-top. Orders of magnitude more people were murdered in the Shoah—the Nazi Holocaust—than by terrorists in Israel, but that isn’t the point. What Israel’s victims of terrorism have in common with the victims of the Nazi genocide is that they were Jews who were murdered for being Jews.
Why else, after all, would a suicide bomber explode himself at Café Hillel in Jerusalem rather than at a military checkpoint in the West Bank or Gaza? Why else would Hamas fire rockets at kindergartens in Sderot instead of at army bases? And why else would Hezbollah lionize Samir Kuntar, a man who murdered a four year old girl by placing her head on a rock and smashing her skull with the butt of his rifle? And why would Hezbollah go all the way to Buenos Aires, Argentina, to blow up a Jewish community center with a truck bomb?
Meotti’s book is grim, but somebody needed to write it, and he’s the person who did. He and I spoke a few days ago.
MJT: So tell us why you wrote this book.
Giulio Meotti: What’s the difference between a Western democracy, such as France or the United States, and Israel’s democracy? It’s not the start-up nation, the job opportunities, the scientific progress, or the number of Nobel laureates. The most important difference between Israel and the other Western countries lies in the young men and women killed for what they are: Israelis living as free human beings in their historical homeland.
The Jewish state is the only member of the United Nations condemned to death. Its existence is the only one widely considered temporary by a large number of countries in the world. In 2003 I decided to investigate the great black hole that in the last fifteen years has snuffed out thousands of lives, Jews killed because they are Jews.
The book is the result of many years of research inside the painful heart and soul of Israel. There were no books devoted to this single dramatic question. I give a voice to dozens of families and survivors of terrorism who have been neglected by an arrogant media industry. I think the blood spilled by terrorism is the most precious and fragile story that Israel has today, a story that even Israeli writers have neglected.
MJT: Let’s talk about your title. Some potential readers might think comparing Israel’s victims of terrorism to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust is a bit much, not least because the scale is so different in size. I thought so myself at first, though that feeling went away by about page 8 or 9. Perhaps you could say something about it for those who haven’t read to page 8 or 9.
Giulio Meotti: First of all let me say that I will never accept lessons about the use of the word Shoah by those who are undermining the Jewish state every day with their rhetoric. In Europe the memory of the Holocaust has become a perfect stage for the bashers of Israel. There is a direct connection between the Nazi ideology and the Islamist agenda–I am thinking of the mufti of Jerusalem, Mohammad Amin al-Husseini, who fought with Hitler against the Jews, and also the genocidal Hamas charter. The Holocaust survivors killed in Israel by suicide bombings, rockets, and terror shootings are the living proof of this terrible link.
With this title I wanted to address something the chattering classes refuse to recognize: that the monstrous morality of anti-Semitism continues as an immortal beast behind the politically correct mask of anti-Zionism. A distorted notion of remembering and history separates the Holocaust–a pure symbol of evil–from Israel’s sixty year struggle for survival under war and terrorism. There is also the question of living under the pre-nuclear threat from Iran. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denies the truth of the Shoah in order to weaken Israel’s existence and to prepare the world for a new massacre by Hezbollah, Hamas, and possibly even a nuclear attack. The question of the Shoah, and that Jewish identity is again under massive attack, defines the world after the 9/11 attacks.
MJT: Do you see any difference between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, or would you say they are one and the same?
Giulio Meotti: Israel’s centrality for the future of the Jews is more than just a question of demography or religion. Israel represents Jewish survival. Before World War II there was a great debate in the Jewish world over Zionism. The Holocaust resolved that debate. Zionism became the solution to Jewish powerlessness and vulnerability. The Jewish future lay in self-defense, sovereign territory, and the ingathering of the exiles.
In my opinion a great problem today is that Israel’s legitimacy is questioned again by a huge number of Jewish intellectuals and writers: Tony Judt, George Steiner, Jacqueline Rose, Ilan Pappe, Norman Finkelstein, Tony Kushner, Eric Hobsbawm, Noam Chomsky, etc. They would like to resolve the Jewish dilemma by assimilation and the disappearance of the Jewish difference.
It’s both a naive and a violent idea. Every other people that has been conquered and exiled and annihilated as the Jews has in time disappeared. Only the Jews defied the norm. Twice. But never, I fear, again. Anti-Zionism is a sophisticated intellectual movement and it’s paving the way for a new anti-Semitic tragedy. That’s why I think it was important to write a history book that tells the stories of Israeli civilians killed by terrorism; fathers and mothers, kids and the elderly, soldiers and doctors. Their families tell us who these people were, their ideals, their faces, their names. The book is the incarnation of Israel’s trauma and future at a time when the Iranian ayatollahs and the Saudi Wahhabis have a large audience in Western newspapers, universities, and parliaments.
But Israel is fine. It demonstrates this with its booming economy, its medical sciences, and its children who are capable of sacrifice and a complex life between war and their love for peace. On Israel’s side there is life. Its enemies preach death.
MJT: You’re Italian. What’s the prevailing attitude toward Israel in Italy? I have this vague sense that Italy is less hostile than many countries in Europe, but I’m not sure if that’s right.
Giulio Meotti: Italy has always been diplomatically pro-Arab. During the Cold War the Italian politicians followed an appeasement agenda. There was an untold deal between the Italian government and the Arab terrorist groups: you don’t attack Italy and we’ll close our eyes to your attacks on Jewish targets. There are many tragic examples, from the attack in the Jewish ghetto in Rome to the Achille Lauro incident. In the last ten years the Berlusconi government has shifted Italy to a pro-Israel policy. Italy, though, is a Catholic country with many financial and political relations with the Arab regimes, so I have no illusions about the future of our friendship with Israel.
MJT: Why do you suppose the Western media, especially European media, are so biased against Israel? And why are you different?
Giulio Meotti: Europe is an anti-Semitic continent. The wave of hatred from the European and American ruling classes, the “mainstream” international press with its headlines that repeat diabolical condemnations without appeal, and the satisfied hate of academics is like a pile of straw that waits only for the match to be struck before it will burst into flames.
In Italy the National Order of Journalists, which is a state funded institution, is hosting the presentation of the “Freedom Flotilla 2,” the so-called “humanitarian” ship that will be sent to break the Israeli siege of Hamas in Gaza. Among the speakers are Turkish militants of the IHH group, which is now on Germany’s black list of terrorist organizations. A few weeks ago hundreds of writers and personalities from Norway promoted a massive boycott of Israel. Spain decided to ban the homosexual Israeli movement. Israeli politicians are afraid to land in London’s airports because they might be arrested for “war crimes.” In Sweden the popular newspaper Aftonbladet wrote that Israeli soldiers ripped out the organs of Palestinians in order to sell them.
In the Netherlands the former European Commissioner Frits Bolkestein just invited the Dutch Jews to emigrate to Israel or the United States. There is no future for them in Netherlands due to Islamic anti-Semitism. The Netherlands is hosting the United Nations International Court of Justice. Its condemnation of the Israeli security barrier in 2004 and the Goldstone Report against Israel in 2009 simply forbids Israel to defend itself. The most important Dutch writer, Leon de Winter, who is also of Jewish descent, recently explained in a magnificent essay for Standpoint magazine why he decided to move to the United States. It’s much better to live in California, a place without history, than in a country where the synagogues are protected by the police and Jews can not wear their religious symbols in public. The beautiful Holland of Galileo, Spinoza, and Descartes, the shelter of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews fleeing the Inquisition, is dying. In its place there is fear, intimidation, and subjugation. There is so much darkness in Europe and in its newspapers and books.
MJT: Is European anti-Semitism primarily an Islamic phenomenon, or do non-Israeli Jews there have problems with the native population, as well? From a distance it appears—and maybe I’m wrong—that this problem is mostly one of enmity between the Jewish and Muslim minorities with the majority siding, at least in some ways, with the Muslims. Yet the average European doesn’t seem to think much of Muslims either.
Giulio Meotti: The current European anti-Semitism is a powerful mix of Islamist pressure on Europe by large Muslim communities in its midst and a leftist-progressive ideology. Today in many European cities–such as Malmo, Antwerp, and Paris– Jews can’t walk around with their religious symbols. In France we had the Ilan Halimi case, the Jewish guy who was tortured and burned to death by a Muslim gang in 2006. Since the attacks in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001, there have been many opportunities to witness the resurrection of leftist anti-Semitism. The phantasm of a global Jewish-American plot is the mirror image of another that is now extinct, the Jewish-Bolshevik specter that was popular with the extreme right until the fall of the Soviet Union.
One might have thought anti-Semitic ideology would have disappeared in Europe with the revelation of the death camps. Instead we are forced to recognize that anti-Semitism is a virus resistant to history. Today in Europe, and especially among the most sophisticated classes, simply saying the name “Israel” makes many people lose their ability to reason. Just saying that name often unleashes a devastating reaction that scorches everything in its path. In fact, the destructive power of anti-Israeli hostility cannot be explained without invoking the hypothesis that it is nothing other than the manifestation of a deeper and less circumscribed hostility that, seemingly banished forever, has found an opening to exploit.
How will Europe react if the Arabs or the Iranians, with Hamas and Hezbollah, try to wipe Israel from the face of the earth, unleashing a new Holocaust? Their anti-Zionism and their ontological hatred of Israel are preparing them to accept the new martyrdom of Israel. I hope the stories I gather in my book about the massive flux of survivors and families broken by terror can help many people understand the history of Israel.
MJT: No one I know in the United States responds with revulsion just because somebody said the name “Israel.” Nor do they react that way when the name of any other country on earth is spoken. I find what you’re saying bizarre, and I wouldn’t quite believe it except that an American friend of mine who spends a lot of time in France and Belgium has experienced the same thing. He’s sometimes afraid to even admit that he’s Jewish when he’s in Europe. And he isn’t some paranoid right-wing nut. He’s a progressive American Jew who voted for Dennis Kucinich in a primary election. How many people in Europe, though, are actually this reactionary? I haven’t asked him that, so I guess I’ll ask you.
Giulio Meotti: We have an indifferent majority of people about the fate of Israel and the Jews and a very powerful minority in the newspapers, political parties, universities, televisions and public arena that is extremely hostile.
America has historical, religious, cultural, political, and economic links with Israel. It’s sad to say, but Europe is probably lost to Israel.
Think about Spain. It has a very small Jewish community and its ancient synagogues are empty monuments, but it has a virulent anti-Israel ideology. In Norway and Sweden the anti-Israel hatred has become mainstream among prime ministers and best-selling writers such as Jostein Gaardner. He is the author of the global literary phenomenon Sophie’s World and he wrote an article in the Aftenposten newspaper where he said, “We no longer recognize the State of Israel… Do not worry, Israel will go to exile again.”
For the commemoration of the Nazi’s Kristallnacht, the city of Frankfurt has just chosen as speaker the Jewish essayist Alfred Grosser, author of the violent anti-Israeli pamphlet Von Auschwitz nach Jerusalem. Grosser compared what the Nazis did to the Jews to what the Israelis are doing to the Palestinians. I agree with the great American writer Cynthia Ozick when she says it would be best to abolish Holocaust memorial days in Europe.
As you can see, Michael, the anti-Israel ideology is now mainstream, fashionable, and even sexy all over Europe. Israel is overwhelmed by a tsunami of delegitimization. A group of Israeli tennis players was only allowed to play behind closed doors in a Swedish stadium. In Hanover an Israeli dance group was stoned by demonstrators shouting “Juden Raus.” The British Trade Union has called to boycott Israel. European supermarkets, even in Italy this year, have more than once decided to boycott Israeli goods. Israeli movies are ousted from international festivals, as in Edinburgh. Israeli academics are expelled from European universities and conferences.
Karel De Gucht, the European Union’s trade commissioner and a former foreign minister of Belgium, said in an interview in October that the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations were sure to founder on two accounts; first, because Jews are excessively influential in the U.S., and second because they are not the sorts to be reasoned with. If this isn’t anti-Semitism, the term has no meaning.
MJT: What was it like spending years speaking to the families of the victims of terrorism? It must have taken quite an emotional toll.
Giulio Meotti: Depression and anguish, loneliness and droop. When you confront so much pain for so many years it affects your soul and your spirit, probably forever. But I’m also happy that the book may help some people understand the situation in the Middle East more clearly and that I’ve rescued an incredible treasure of pain and hope. This book stands against disinformation, injustice, hatred, prejudice, amnesia, and bereavement.
MJT: What do your Italian colleagues in the media think of your views on Israel? Only my most extreme colleagues in America give me a hard time because supporting Israel is the normal default position in the United States.
Giulio Meotti: They react with indifference or hatred. I have been labeled an “Israeli slave,” “a Zionist moron,” a “criminal,” and a “killer.” It doesn’t matter. I can conceive of only one way to be a journalist and a writer, and that is to use moral clarity and to behave with dignity and with honor. For those who write about Israel it means we have to make a choice between enlightenment and obscurantism, between freedom and subjugation. One day my son will read this book and he will understand what I tried to do.
MJT: You interviewed and profiled so many people. Whose story made the most profound impression on you and why? For my part I’m struck most by those who escaped Hitler or Stalin only to be murdered by Saddam Hussein or Hezbollah.
Giulio Meotti: I consider these innocent victims saints. Those who survive them are the best humankind has to offer. The testimonies, the tears, the emotions of the witnesses are more authentic than historical documents for those who wish to understand Israel’s vortex of life and death. A great film maker should make a movie about them.
I divide the stories in my book into two major categories, ordinary people and “martyrs.” The first were civilians killed while going to work or school, to a restaurant or home. I’m thinking here of the people killed in the Dolphinarium’s discotheque, on buses in Haifa and Hadera, on Jerusalem’s pedestrian streets. People such as Yossi Zur’s son Asaf, the Katsmans or the granddaughter and son of Lipa Weiss, a supreme hero of Israel’s rebuilding after the Holocaust.
I am also thinking of Faina Dorfman’s daughter. She was killed while dancing in Tel Aviv. Arnold Roth’s daughter Malki was returning from school in Jerusalem. These are the stories that foreign readers in the U.S. and Europe, especially the non-Jews, can easily identify with.
The “martyrs” are those killed in the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria–the famous “settlements”–and the humanitarian doctors. The settlements endured hundreds of deaths, with days full of fear, nights spent standing guard in isolated houses, the sudden massacres of families, infants and unborn babies, the drives through darkened streets in helmets and bulletproof vests. Those “devils” in the settlements.
These days everyone demands a “freeze” of their presence in the West Bank. In the popular imagination, the colonists keep their rifles by their side and devastate Arab olive trees. But what is a colonist, really? I have tried to answer this question. One day they may evacuate their homes for a viable peace agreement [no, here he is wrong -- there is no "viable peace agreeement that the Muslims will honor or that will last. The only "peace" that will last is that achieved through deterrence and Arab invocation of Darura] and the book will preserve the memory of those who were killed for being Jews in the Bible’s places. People such as Steve Bloomberg, who learned to live in a wheelchair along with his daughter. People such as David Hatuel, who lost his wife and four daughters in a Gaza settlement. Or Hebron’s Jews.
Among the doctors I am thinking of Shmuel Gillis or David Applebaum. The latter lived with a defibrillator under his bed and was killed with his daughter the day before she was to be married. Also among the “martyrs” are those who fled the Stalinist persecution and the Gulags only to be killed in Israel. A New Shoah is not an archival reminder, but a re-living, a re-enactment of the lives brutally interrupted by terrorism. In that sense the book is a living monument.
MJT: You’re not Jewish. (Neither am I, by the way.) What is it that draws you to Israel and the tragedy of the Jewish experience in this world?
Giulio Meotti: If some day Israel were to fall into the hands of its enemies, the West as we know it would cease to exist. The West is what it is thanks to Rome, Jerusalem, and Athens–Rome’s rule of law, the Bible’s morality, and Greek democracy. If the Jewish part of those roots is overturned and Israel is lost, then we are lost too. Israel is a lighthouse of life at a time when life is our most endangered value. A New Shoah is an affirmation of life in the kingdom of death.
A special friend of mine said the book is the Dead Sea Scrolls of modern Israel. It may take some years before the book’s stories have an effect, and for me the most important would be to change the world’s conscience about Israel. It’s a hard task, but one worth attempting. My enduring consolation will be to give an everlasting name and voice to those who have been murdered.
Giulio Meotti is the author of A New Shoah: The Untold Story of Israel’s Victims of Terrorism. He lives in Tuscany.
Posted on 12/16/2010 9:31 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 16 December 2010
That Pop Quiz (Botta E Risposta)
Wednesday, 15 December 2010
What do Exeter, New Hampshire, New Bern, North Carolina, and Milledgeville, Georgia have in common?
I am putting this up at 5:05 EST. I will put up the answer within the hour. [Hugh Fitzgerald]
15 Dec 2010
All three were, for a while, the first capitals of their respective states.
16 Dec 2010
Purely in the spirit of pedantic pernicketyness I am moved to correct the 'correct' answer of Mr Fitzgerald.
Of the three cities only New Bern was the first state capital.
Exeter New Hampshire was preceded as state capital by Portsmouth. Milledgeville was preceded as capital of Georgia by Savannah, Augusta and Louisville.
16 Dec 2010
Oops and not-oops.
New Bern was the first capital of the state of North Carolina. Those who would have guessed Hillsborough would not be right, but would be given half-marks for sensing that it might well have been Hillsborough.
Exeter -- pace my friendly corrector above (Russian readers of a very particular kind will expect to find, for their unedited and unalloyed pleasure, a certain line. Na te -- "Korrektoru i veku voprek") was indeed the first capital of the state of New Hampshire. Good God, man, I've actually been, as a schoolboy, inside the Ladd-Gilman House. Que voulez-vous? Portsmouth was the capital of the Province of New Hampshire, a different thing.
But I concede, with an oglethorpian blush, that I was confused about all those Georgian capitols (see Nikolai Pevsner, see John Betjeman) that preceded Milledgeville. I didn't check. I knew that Milledgeville -- home (Andalucia) of Flannery O'Connor , and for many years the site of the state's Insane Asylum, about the closing of which, and the letting out of its inmates, Flannery O'Connor comments in her letters---had been the state capital right up to the Civil War period, and had been that capital for so long that I forgot to check whether any other city or town had preceded it as state capital.
So on this early Georgian question I stand -- on Capitoline Hill -- corrected.
Next time the spirit moves me to put up a Pop Quiz, I should do one of two things.
I could actually check, carefully, to make sure my answers are, in fact, correct.
Or I could have at the ready, and add, as boilerplate to any such quiz, an escape clause. To wit: "what, in the likely opinion of the quiz-composer, is the correct answer"?
I'm leaning to the latter. It turns what could be merely an irritable seeking after factual certainty into an elevated task blending fact-finding and sympathetic mind-reading. A more complicated and, some may agree, a higher challenge.
Posted on 12/16/2010 9:39 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 16 December 2010
Psychobabbling clichés taken as red (h/t Samizdata):
Therapy occupies a unique space in the modern world. In a culture obsessed with surface and statistics, it allows the detail and narrative of a human life to be explored. Where society tells us what to be, therapy allows us to reflect critically on the imperatives that shape us. Challenging received notions of wellbeing and happiness, we can try to find out what is really important to us, often with life-changing consequences. It offers a system of values freed from the moral judgments of social authorities.
I hope that issues around therapy can become, in a real sense, part of the conversation. Don't you?
Posted on 12/16/2010 11:34 AM by Mary Jackson
Thursday, 16 December 2010
"On or about December 1910 human character changed." - Virgina Woolf
Easy to say, but she couldn't even say it properly. Nobody says something happened "on December". She probably started off with "On December 16," but realised that was too specific, so she chopped the day without changing "on" to "in". Then to make extra sure that nobody could pin down her nonsense, she added "or about".
From December 16, at 1630 GMT, things will never be the same again. Go on, prove me wrong.
Posted on 12/16/2010 10:22 AM by Mary Jackson
Thursday, 16 December 2010
Angela Thorn On Paul Berman's "The Flight of the Intellectuals"
From Australian Islamist Monitor:
THE FLIGHT OF THE INTELLECTUALS by Paul Berman: Review
Mark Durie - one of a few true Islamic experts whose books are available for sale in Australia
For a long time, "Islamophobes" eager to expand their knowledge had to rely on reading between the lines of news reports and scanning the internet in order to educate themselves. Such internet sites have grown in number and now originate in countries which only ten years or so ago a normal Australian would have had no idea suffered from a "Muslim problem". In the minds of many, the "Muslim problem" has become shockingly clarified very quickly.
But there are times when the Islam watcher cannot access a computer, such as on public transport, and wants to hold a book in his hands so he can Keep Finding Out. Again, the internet has been useful in locating these, and books by ex-Muslims, terrorist experts, political analysts, theologians, honest journalists and others have rapidly become available and have even reached best-seller lists and translated into modest fame (and, quite possibly, death threats) for the writers.
So much so, that Islam is now often referred to as a "hot topic" and fewer people are thinking of "Islamophobia" as a wrong or shameful thing, even though societies targeted by Islam are still mostly paralysed into inaction by confusion, fear and their powerful fifth columns which confound the possibility of consensual or even majority decision-making. But "hot topic" it is, to the point where it seems any book critical of Islam can be cobbled together and receive rave reviews from respected critics of Islam.
Or so it seemed to me when I picked up Paul Berman's much-praised book, "The Flight of the Intellectuals", a surprise find in a Melbourne bookshop, Dymmock's - or perhaps not such a surprise find, as Dymmock's have begun to stock books of interest about Islam other than the Koran or Karen Armstrong's whitewashing of Mohammed, which are available in any bookshop.
The very title is evocatively self-flattering to the writer and reader alike. Judging one's society's intellectuals as wanting, as having wilfully absented themselves from their noble and time-honoured role as preservers and extenders of our glorious Western philosophical traditions, is to elevate oneself and claim a wee position in that vacated space, allowing one a slight frisson of belonging in an important project - for if our intellectuals take flight, who is to take their place and stop the rot? Paul Berman, perhaps? Perhaps oneself?
Alas, surely not Paul Berman. His reputation is high and his subject matter is timely, fascinating and an essential ingredient in the
understanding of the twentieth-century and current "Islamist" mindset: Tariq Ramadan, his relation to the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan al-Banna, and the influential Sayyid Qutb; their links with Nazism; the cowardly and disgraceful reaction of the Left in the West to what are incontravertible facts pertaining to these links. All of this subject matter can be found analysed on the internet, if one is inclined to pursue threads, join dots and spend a lot of time away from one's daily responsibilities. But Paul Berman's analysis of these links is considerably flawed, despite his excitement over his discoveries.
His loyalty to and sentimentality about his own background are disadvantages in coming to grips with what requires a cool head, a lot of research and an ability to thoroughly depart from the comfort zone of illusion. He remembers a book in his family home (and every similarly liberal Jewish home, as he says) about Islam by H Graetz, which presents a picture of Islam as benign and tolerant, respectful of Jews and "exercising a wonderful influence on the course of Jewish history and on the evolution of Judaism." Although he acknowledges this view to be incomplete, and indicates that he has read at least the foreward of Andrew Bostom's "The Legacy of Islamic Anti-Semitism", he never lets go of thinking that Graetz's view has validity as presenting one side of the story, and that his optimism is ipso facto valid and commendable. It cannot, in his liberal mind, be ever simply wrong.
His years as a young man, when his loyalties were to the Left, to "don't touch my buddy" French activist warmth towards Muslim immigrants, likewise leave their mark on his Weltanshauung as an older man. The "anti-racism" he embraced in those halcyon days, which mistakenly conflated race with religion, remains as embedded in his mind as does Graetz's benign Islam, and has elevated wishful thinking into an argument which keeps colliding with the facts and weakening his hastily concocted thesis.
It appears hastily concocted because, as he says himself, he decided to run a well-received article he had written to the length of a book. To the theme of his article, "the debate over Islamist ideas in the Western countries and over the reluctance of journalists and intellectuals to grapple seriously with the Islamist ideas" he added more detail, more characters, more history. But he does not mention reading basic Islamic texts, and makes no reference to them except by secondary sources, appearing to accept them without checking. This omission weakens every aspect of his thesis; indeed he appears to be not so much presenting a thesis as wafting his way to a conclusion even he is not sure of.
For instance, for all he is attempting to join others in exposing Ramadan as a fraud, he appears to swallow Ramadan's version of jihad as a "struggle against violence...a struggle against poverty, illiteracy, delinquency, social exclusion and other injustices", which probably comes across as unquestionable to a "progressive liberal" such as Berman. (Social justice? Of course! Enough said!) He accepts Ramadan's line of argument that political assassinations and the killing of tourists (and so on) "do not respect the Koranic message". In his response, Berman gives no indication that he has any inkling of Mohammed's caravan-raiding, terror-exploiting, critic-slaughtering career, instead focusing on Ramadan's family's dubious activities as the source of his controversial reputation.
When Ramadan repeats, to Berman's apparent satisfaction, that "in Islam it is forbidden to kill Jews, Christians or atheists merely because they are Jews, Christians or atheists", Berman's mind presumably wanders back to Graetz's book and to his former Muslim buddies in France and he finds himself prepared to believe that killings of non-Muslims have another reason, quite possibly political.
And like others - notably public-speaking Muslims, such as Maajid Nawas, who aim to convincingly deflect the blame for recent Islamic violence and for whose purposes the "colonial" argument has become outdated, he finds the answer in Nazism. Thus Hitler's famous meetings with and admiration for the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, did not signify that Hitler was influenced by the Mufti and by Islam itself, but instead the reverse, that Hitler influenced Muslims' post-war, post-colonial behaviour. Berman does not even become suspicious when he mentions a demonstration against Jews in Cairo (when the Jews' position could hardly be called threatening) after the war. Instead, he writes, the Mufti "twisted" Islam by "scour[ing] the Koran and the sacred scriptures for suitably hostile remarks [which were] scraped from the bottom...of the Islamic barrel.": "The calls by Amin al-Husseini to annihilate the Jews were some of the most shocking speeches of the Holocaust. They were the voice of the SS, hideously translated into the tones of Islamic scripture, preparing the Arab public to join the [Einsatzgruppe Aegypten] campaign..." The image of Islam as a barrel of contradictory ideas in which the more noble rise to the top and the worst sink to the dark, murky, hard-to-find depths is comically appealing, but despite Muslims' claims about the "weakness" of certain hadiths, the Koran, also containing plenty of anti-Semitism, is believed by the same people to be the immutable word of God.
But Berman saw this "infernal blurring" of Islam and Nazism, which did "draw on", as he finally admits, "authentic elements" within Islam, a "crime against Islam", which "offended and betrayed Islam's larger principles of tolerance and civility"..."a corruption of Islam, a grotesquerie"..."a spiritual crime". Berman is as outraged as the most ardent Islam apologist; Tariq Ramadan would surely approve. As for the question of whether Jew-hatred is worse in the Christian or Islamic "traditions", he mixes history with theology, considers that, after all, "Islam is as vast and liquid as the ocean, and so is Christianity", and lamely decides that a "generalized view" ("...after all, people do ask these questions...") is possible after musing thus:
"Does Islam, in its capacity to unleash hatred against the Jews, resemble in any large and telling fashion the historic Christianity of Europe? Anti-Jewish traditions on one side of the Mediterranean and on the other, the Muslim side and the Christian side - are they fundamentally the same? Or different? A large question. And an old question. People were already mulling over this question in the Middle Ages": this is stream-of-consciousness scholarship hardly worthy of the name.
Elsewhere, he talks of American politicians inadvertently "insulting Islam", speaks of Britain"s "colonial subjects" as if he were a post-colonial studies undergraduate trawling for grades, expresses surprise at the idea of the Mufti of Jerusalem "merging into one" Arabism and Islamism in a speech, and says that Qutb "came up with" the idea of Muslim "hypocrites" meriting a "violent resistance". Appearing to have no idea of the Islamic allowance for lying to infidels, let alone knowing facts which would expose Islamic dissimulation, he quotes Muslims' "opinions" ("In Jamal al-Banna's opinion, stoning adulterers to death runs counter to anything the Prophet Mohammed could possibly have advocated"..."al-Banna specifies...that a proper civic state ought to be democratic, and this, too, is heartening to see") and makes many other blunders arising from ignorance, naivety, credulousness, unconscious political correctness and above all, it seems, from a desire to get his highly topical book on the shelves as quickly as possible with minimal research.
And this in a writing style (see above) which descends all too often into primary school sentence construction, with spelling howlers ("flairing nostrils"..."pouring through archives"), with shoddy, tacked-on adjectival phrases and sprinklings of "still...", "anyway...", "though..." "truth to tell..." (yes, indeed: "truth to tell"!) clumsily spilling out onto the pages. His style, seen as "gripping and stylish" by one reviewer and "lucid and elegant" by another, is consistent with the descent into linguistic chaos which was approved and even initiated by the post-war liberal progressives of which he claims membership. However, another reviewer said blandly that the writing was too ghastly for him to read the book to the end, and another said he "weeps for the trees". Berman's dismay regarding intellectuals is muddled by his lament that he always regarded intellectuals "until just yesterday" as "the best of the best", indicating that he did not start to wake up to the shenanagans of the likes of Sartre, Foucault and Chomsky when he had the opportunity; this lack of scepticism is demonstrated in the current book in which Berman trusts Graetz, takes Ramadan at his word and is uncritical of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. But how can such diverse thinkers all be right?
"The Flight of the Intellectuals" indeed. The progressive Left have discovered that Islam is a bit of a vexation after all. But with all the authority they have abrogated to themselves since their successful "march through the institutions", they still have trouble pursuing or dealing with facts, retreating from fashionable optimism, and engaging with all the subtleties of Islam, including the markedly different meanings of key words and ideas (what does "social justice" mean to a man such as Ramadan?). This is a pity because by the time Berman reaches his last chapters, in which he criticizes writers such as Timothy Garton Ash and Ian Baruma, who have had the nerve to speak poorly of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, he warms up to the theme of his book's title and his defence of Ms Ali is energetic and well-written, comparitively. His answer for the question of the cowardice of the intellectuals who once defended Salman Rushdie but have taken to biting attacks on critics of Islam is the rise of the Islamist movement and terrorism; that is, fear. Fear creates cowardice. Oh.
Could it be so simple? In reading about, for example, the trench warfare of World War 1, fear is a recurrent theme; the harrowing fear which came not only from danger but the close, daily observation of horrific injuries and experience of terrible conditions which had to be endured. This is just one example; men have volunteered to go to countless wars. What makes this new one different, and what is it about Islam that makes it so successful in exploiting fear to the point where societies capitulate and convert or accept dhimmi status? Is the fear Islam inspires different from the fear created by other adversaries? Is fear only an insurmountable problem when people believe that what they have is not worth fighting to keep? Is the West consumed by decadence, as Muslims believe? Does Islam's self-identification as a religion give rise to a different kind of fear which does not translate into action; do we actually believe they have God on their side? Or are intellectuals a weak class of people? But no: what about the French intellectuals who went to fight in the Spanish Civil War? Or is it the Islamic beheadings which are so particularly frightening? Or political correctness, the fear of ostracization? In a study of this nature, some analysis of the quality of this "fear" can expect to be attempted, but it is not. Of course, it must be acknowledged that whereas Ayaan Hirsi Ali has bodyguards, few other writers do, and self-protection in a non-combat zone is a daunting prospect. Still, the "intellectuals" Berman is talking about have the option of saying nothing at all rather than defending the worst of Islam.
A final, perhaps churlish, criticism is the absence of dedication or acknowlegement pages in this book, leaving the reader little doubt about who pre-read, assisted, proofread, helpfully criticized, made the coffee or inspired Berman. Nobody, it seems, and it shows. This is a pity, for the topics he is taking on should be read about by many, including the unsophisticated reader his style, with some necessary alterations, might appeal to; Berman's "intellectuals" may have flown the coop but there are plenty of others, who see ourselves more prosaically but can feel our way tolerably well in the world of ideas, who are still here and can still read. All is not lost if a handful of individuals sully the idea of the "intellectual" and betray the values of the West.
After reading this book, the reader could be excused for thinking that if only Muslims could ditch the unfortunate influence of the Nazis and revert to the Jew-friendly benevolence of Graetz's Islam, and if only our intellectuals could be more tough-minded and encourage Muslims by applauding the liberals among them and upholding the best of Western philosophy, then all would, eventually, be fine. But one wonders why Muslims would want to change their tune, when Islam is doing so well with its current tactics and even the lowliest Muslim can expect some leverage in a Muslim-dominated society of jizya-paying infidels, a phenomenon we see constantly with the demands of immigrant Muslim welfare recipients.
The optimism so beloved of Paul Berman might have to be postponed until more work is done, by intellectuals - voluntary, un-named and unpaid, if necessary -, by law-makers and by many others, including the man on the street who cares little for the concerns of intellectuals, cowardly or otherwise.
Posted on 12/16/2010 12:44 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 16 December 2010
Shouldn't The French Be Allowed To Try Hassan Diab For Murder, Or Is The French Justice System Suspect?
The rally-round-Hassan-Diab movement disturbs and disgusts. Instead of allowing French courts -- and French police, who take a no-nonsense approach to Muslim terrorists, having a long (and largely successful) record of foiling them -- to try Hassan Diab, his defenders wish to prevent him even from being extradited to the country where the crime he is accused of committing took place. Why would French authorities try to frame, after 30 years, an innocent man? Answer: they wouldn't. They believe Hassan Diab is the man responsible for murdering four people outside a synagogue on the rue Copernic. Shouldn't French justice be allowed to take its course?
Ottawa Prosecutor Challenges Alleged Terrorist Diab's Handwriting Expert
The Ottawa Citizen
December 15, 2010
Crown prosecutors seeking the extradition to France of alleged terrorist Hassan Diab pushed hard Wednesday to undermine the professional credibility and qualifications of a former RCMP forensic document examiner.
In often testy, detailed cross-examination that indicated significant Justice Department research into consultant Brian Lindblom's academic and professional background, federal prosecutor Claude LeFrançois quizzed the internationally known expert about his lack of knowledge of the qualifications needed for French handwriting analysis.
Lindblom admitted to never having worked in France, and to having scant knowledge of the French language, but said handwriting analysts operate by an accepted set of international standards.
"The suggestion that we work by different standards is simply not true," he said.
Lindblom, retained by Diab's lawyer Donald Bayne, had spent Monday and Tuesday blasting French handwriting analysis he said contained "assumption and speculation" and was produced by an analyst who has no internationally recognized qualifications and little, if any, appropriate training.
France wants Diab extradited to stand trial for the murder of four passersby who were killed in a terrorist bomb blast 30 years ago outside the Rue Copernic synagogue in central Paris. More than 40 others were injured.
Evidence from witnesses questioned shortly after the bombing strongly suggests that the man who signed into the Paris hotel using the false name Alexander Panadriyu was also the person who planted the bomb in a motorcycle saddlebag outside the synagogue.
Lindblom said he was "shocked" by some of the conclusions reached by French analyst Anne Bisotti, who compared handwriting from a Paris hotel registry and Diab's U.S. immigration papers from the 1990s when he studied there.
"Ms. Bisotti's report is often confusing and incomprehensible," reported Lindblom. "I find her opinions to be patently unreliable and, for the most part, not supported even by her own observations."
Bayne and the prosecutors are fighting a crucial battle over the handwriting that is key to the Diab case - "the smoking gun," as the prosecution has termed it.
In extradition hearings, the person sought is not allowed to bring competing evidence that would be part of a normal criminal trial but can challenge the "manifest reliability" of the evidence provided by the requesting country.
LeFrançois and his Crown colleague Jeffrey Johnston fought to exclude Lindblom and two other yet-to-be-heard defence handwriting experts on the grounds they were simply competing opinions.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Robert Maranger agreed to hear the experts but said it was no indication of how much weight he would eventually give to their opinions.
In his report on the French handwriting analysis, Lindblom criticized Bisotti for comparing documents written 15 years apart on the basis that little would have changed.
"How could Ms. Bisotti know what did or did not occur in Mr. Diab's handwriting over the course of 15 years," he said. "There are many writers who see a deterioration in penmanship and legibility in their intermediate years. This could result from the need to produce large volumes of handwriting in a hurried fashion (e.g. doctors and lawyers). A more recent phenomenon is the depreciation in writing skill coinciding with the advent of computer use."
Bisotti, he said, had used a "numbers game" in analysing the handwriting and is essentially reporting that there are more similarities than differences in the samples, therefore they must both have been written by Diab.
"Evaluating similarities and differences is not just a matter of counting them up," Lindblom said. "Many noted authorities have written on this subject. They all stress that differences, even though small in number, carry much greater significance and often outweigh abundant similarities."
Bisotti, he added, was either not aware of or chose to disregard this basic principle, he added.
Along with questioning Lindblom's credentials, LeFrançois asked in numerous ways whether Lindblom's report was simply his word against Bisotti's.
"You are implicitly or explicitly saying that you know better than her," LeFrançois told Lindblom. "You are saying the correct method is A and she is saying it is B."
Lindblom denied he was offering a competing opinion to the Bisotti report but offering an assessment of it, as were his instructions from Bayne.
In a vigorous defence of Bisotti's qualifications, LeFrançois said the French expert was a member of numerous reputable professional organizations and had a degree in forensics.
The federal lawyer questioned Lindblom's university qualifications.
"Where did you go to school, sir?" he asked Lindblom.
"University of Manitoba."
"Where you got a general BA."
When Lindblom couldn't recall the outcome of a hearing at which he had appeared in Trinidad in the 1990s because he'd left before the final judgment, LeFrançois asked if he had taken "the money and run?"
Judge Maranger told LeFrançois the question was inappropriate.
The lawyer responded that the question had been meant as lighthearted.
Posted on 12/16/2010 1:31 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 16 December 2010
A Musical Interlude: Fifty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong (Sophie Tucker)
Posted on 12/16/2010 1:40 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 16 December 2010
Jean-Francois Revel On The Difficulties For Open Societies To Defend Against An Internal Enemy
From that excellent Quebec website, Point De Bascule:
6 Décembre 2010
Jean-François Revel about the difficulty for open societies to defend themselves against an internal enemy
Version française ICI
In his essay How Democracies Perish (1983), the French philosopher and political analyst Jean-François Revel (1924-2006) commented on the ability possessed by promoters of totalitarianism to undermine open societies from within by legally using the freedom of expression, the freedom of association and other freedoms guaranteed to them in order to reach their goal.
Although Revel’s remarks were written in relation to nazi and communist totalitarianisms, they are still very valid and relevant for understanding the current offensive led by the Muslim Brotherhood in the West. “The Project”, a document written in 1982 that was seized by police in November 2001 at Muslim Brotherhood financial strategist Youssef Nada’s residence describes such a program of destruction from within. Sylvain Besson has added the document at the end of his book La conquête de l'Occident [The Conquest of the West – Paris, Éditions du Seuil, 2005].
The Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader, Youssef al-Qaradawi, expanded on the topic when he summarized his text Priorities of the Islamic Movement in the Coming Phase for an audience of Islamic leaders gathered in Algeria in 1990.
Al-Qaradawi examined the military balance of power between the forces of Islam and the West and concluded that it would be pointless, at this stage, to think about Islamizing Europe and North America by force due to a lack of material means on the Muslim side:
"We (Muslims) depend on others for military power. Those against whom we want to launch our offensive jihad are the same people who make all sorts of weapons and sell them to us. But for them, we would be unarmed, defenseless and unable to do anything! "
"That being the case, how can we talk of launching offensives to subject the whole world to our Message, when the only weapons we can muster are those given us by them and when the only arms we can carry are those they agree to sell us?"
Reference: Chapter 3 - A Debate that We Do not Need Today
These are the circumstances in which the Muslim Brotherhood decided to encourage the use of violence in some parts of the world and to discourage it in others. The means that are being chosen must be dictated by conditions on the ground and not by some dogmatic following of a statement from the Koran:
"(Our) Movement, though it is Islamic in source, orientation, principle and objective, adopts such methodologies and means as it sees fit to serve its religion and establish it on the earth, as appropriate to time, place and conditions . Methodologies, means and systems are not as immortal as Islam itself."
Reference: Chapter 3 - The Necessity of Renewal in Means
One year after al-Qaradawi made his lecture, a senior Muslim Brotherhood leader wrote an internal memorandum in which he unambiguously explained the Brotherhood’s mission in North America. The document also contained a list of organizations associated with the Muslim Brotherhood North American network. This second feature explains why the document was eventually produced as evidence, by US government prosecutors, in two trials that took place in 2007 and 2008. After they were found guilty of having organized the financing of terrorist activities in the Middle East from the American territory, five Muslim Brotherhood leaders were sent to jail.
Here's how the Muslim Brotherhood describes its mission in North America:
"The Ikhwan [the Brotherhood] must understand that their work in America is kind of a grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all other religions. [...] It is a Muslim's destiny to perform Jihad and work wherever he is and wherever he lands until the final hour comes."
The original Arabic version of the memorandum and its English translation are archived on the Investigative Project on Terrorism website.
Twenty years after this memorandum was written, the Muslim Brotherhood has developed a large infrastructure in North America and the West in general to indoctrinate young Muslims in often publicly funded schools, to influence politicians, to penetrate information networks and academic institutions and so on.
The following excerpt from Revel’s How Democracies Perish comes from the first chapter titled The End of an Accident. It helps understand the current Islamist campaign:
“Democracy tends to ignore, even deny, threats to its existence because it loathes doing what is needed to counter them. It awakens only when the danger becomes deadly, imminent, evident. By then, either there is too little time left for it to save itself, or the price of survival has become crushingly high.”
“Totalitarianism liquidates its internal enemies or opposition as soon as it arises; it uses methods that are simple and infallible because they are undemocratic. But democracy can defend itself only very feebly; its internal enemy has an easy time of it because he exploits the right to disagree that is inherent in democracy. His aim of destroying democracy itself, of actively seeking an absolute monopoly of power, is shrewdly hidden behind the citizen’s legitimate right to oppose and criticize the system.”
“Paradoxically, democracy offers those seeking to abolish it a unique opportunity to work against it legally. They can even receive almost open support from the external enemy without its being seen as a truly serious violation of the social contract.”
“The frontier is vague, the transition easy between the status of loyal opponent wielding a privilege built into democratic institutions and that of an adversary subverting those institutions. To totalitarianism, an opponent is by definition subversive; democracy treats subversives as mere opponents for fear of betraying its principles.”
"What we end up with in what is conventionally called Western society is a topsy-turvy situation in which those seeking to destroy democracy appear to be fighting for legitimate aims, while its defenders are pictured as repressive reactionaries."
"Identification of democracy’s internal and external adversaries with the forces of progress, legitimacy, even peace, discredits and paralyzes the efforts of people who are only trying to preserve their institutions.”
Posted on 12/16/2010 1:45 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 16 December 2010
Apparently Kevin Rudd Can't Distinguish Australia From North Korea
Kevin Rudd was once a student of Mandarin. And somewhere I read that he studied with a real Mandarin, Pierre Ryckmans, who under the name Simon Leys has written many wonderful books, including "Chinese Shadows," "Chairman Mao's New Clothes," a book on Napoleon on St. Helena, and somethiing -- I just bought it but haven't read it -- with "Batavia" in the title.
But I don't get the feeling that Kevin Rudd was the right kind of student, and that possibly what Pierre Ryckmans had to offer was lost on Kevin Rudd.
The latest example is Rudd's remark that Israel, too, should be required to open itself up to the same inspections by the I.A.E.A. that Iran supposedly must, even though Israel is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty - as Iran is -- that would obligate it to do so.
Here's a comment on this by Jonathan Tobin:
"Further evidence of the problems Israel has had in making even Western democracies understand the nature of the problem was provided by Australia this week when its foreign minister spoke out in favor of subjecting Israel’s nuclear facilities to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Kevin Rudd told the Australian newspaper in an interview that the Jewish state, which is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty that the IAEA monitors, should get the same sort of scrutiny that Iran, which has signed the treaty, receives. The statement, made during the course of a tour of the region by Rudd, shocked the Israelis, who were not consulted about this by the Australian government in advance of the foreign minister’s visit.
The problem with Rudd’s shot fired across Israel’s bow is not so much the request itself but the fact that it represents a tacit acceptance of the main talking point of apologists for Iran’s nuclear ambitions: the positing of a moral equivalence between Israel’s nuclear deterrent and Iran’s desire for the ultimate weapon. The difference between the two is clear. Iran’s nukes would pose a threat both to the Jewish state, whose existence the Islamist regime has said it wishes to extinguish, and to neighboring Arab states that also have good reason to fear Tehran. An Iranian bomb would also provide a nuclear umbrella to its terrorist allies and surrogates, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. But Israel’s longstanding nuclear capability exists solely to deter military attacks from an Arab and Muslim world that seeks to wipe it out. The real test here is not so much whether a country has nukes but whether it can be trusted not to use them. Israel has already passed that test repeatedly, making IAEA inspections a pointless exercise aimed at embarrassing Jerusalem. Iran, on the other hand, is a nation led by Islamist extremists who openly deny the Holocaust while proclaiming their desire for another."
I think this might be put another way to Kevin Rudd:
Does he think, would he argue, that if Australia were to have a nuclear-weapons program, it should be worried about in the Western world in the same way as, say, the nuclear weapons program of North Korea? Does he see the difference between Australia and North Korea? I do, and it is the exactly the same difference as that between Israel and Iran.
Posted on 12/16/2010 2:31 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 16 December 2010
Stockholm Bomber linked to Abu Hamza.
From The Local
The man who narrowly missed wreaking carnage in Stockholm with Sweden's first suicide bombing may have had links to radical Muslim preacher Abu Hamza, media reported Thursday.They also said that other voices could be heard on an audio message the suicide bomber sent out before Saturday's attack near a busy pedestrian shopping street in the Swedish capital.
The Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) daily reported, quoting sources with insight into the case, that British police were looking into a possible connection between Taymour Abdulwahab, who is strongly believed to have been the Stockholm bomber and Egyptian-born Hamza.
TV4 meanwhile reported that it had hired a sound technician to analyse the audio message the Stockholm bomber sent to police and media shortly before he first blew up his car and minutes later himself. "There are at least two people" heard on the message, sound technician Johan Öhgren told the commercial broadcaster. "It is not possible to speak while breathing in. You can clearly hear there is someone else in the room," he added.
The Expressen daily meanwhile reported Thursday that Sweden's domestic intelligence agency Saepo would begin probing surveillance video feed from a petrol station in Tranås in southern Sweden, where Abdulwahab grew up.
He is believed to have driven the car he bought in November from there to Stockholm before it exploded Saturday, and police are reportedly scanning the surveillance tapes to see if more people made the trip with him.
Säpo has also requested all pictures of cars that exceeded the speed limit taken by cameras along the route from Tranås to Stockholm on Saturday in the hope of seeing a shot of the bomber and his possible accomplices.
An Islamist website, Shumukh al-Islam, posted a purported will by Abdulwahab in which said he was fulfilling a threat by Al-Qaeda in Iraq to attack Sweden.
Posted on 12/16/2010 3:59 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thursday, 16 December 2010
More On The Hassan Diab Extradition Hearing
Expert [!] tells Diab extradition hearing that French intelligence doesn't meet Canadian standards as evidence
By Chris Cobb, The Ottawa Citizen
OTTAWA — Intelligence information from unknown sources can be used as a starting point to gather evidence but it does not meet Canadian legal standards as evidence itself, the extradition hearing of Ottawa university professor Hassan Diab heard Thursday.
In a painstaking cross-examination of Kent Roach, one of Canada’s leading legal authorities on anti-terrorism, Crown prosecutor Jeffrey Johnston repeatedly emphasized the point that controversial French information from unknown intelligence sources had been sufficiently corroborated by reliable evidence from other sources.
Diab, a 57-year-old former University of Ottawa professor, is fighting extradition to France where he would stand trial on accusations he killed four people during the 1980 attack the French say carried out by a branch of the the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
The French say Diab made and planted the bomb.
Defence lawyer Donald Bayne told the extradition hearing last week that it is possible some of the French intelligence was gleaned from torture. ["it is possible" -- sure, it is always "possible" but no evidence has been presented by the defense to suggest that in this case evidence was "gleaned from torture," only that "it was possible"]
French authorities have said they do not know the source of some of the intelligence they have used to build the extradition case against Diab.
In one of numerous oral jousts between Johnston and Roach, the prosecutor said evidence in the Diab case had been gathered according to French law.
“I’m also aware of concerns that evidence derived from torture has ... been used in French proceedings.” [but note: he does not say that evidence has been derived from torture in this particular case]
“Just as it has been used in many other proceedings around the world,” countered Johnston.
“That doesn’t make it right,” said Roach, who was called to testify by Bayne. [nor does it make it inaccurate]
Johnston and his Crown colleague Claude LeFrançois have said repeatedly that there is enough actual evidence in the French case against Diab to meet the standards required by Canada’s extradition law, which is why the federal Justice department agreed to carry the French request forward.
Roach conceded that unsourced intelligence gathers legal strength if it can be corroborated by human witnesses or other reliable sources but generally stuck to his basic opinion that with Diab’s liberty at stake, aspects of the French case are “dangerous.”
Roach said Wednesday he sees similarities between the Diab case and that of Maher Arar, the Ottawa man deported to Syria where he was tortured.
Roach testified that aspects of the French case against Diab set off “alarm bells” for him, particularly intelligence reports in the French record of the case that changed over a one-month period in 2008 to suggest first that Diab entered France from Spain using his own passport, then suggesting Diab had actually entered France using a fake passport.
“It would suggest to me the intelligence record is unreliable because it is malleable enough to fit any or both scenarios. Because it is not sourced, because it is not circumstanced, it is very difficult to go behind their suppositions and to challenge the intelligence,” said Roach, who added that relying on the intelligence as evidence to extradite Diab is especially concerning since his liberty is at risk.
Roach also worried that French investigators had developed “tunnel vision” — when investigators interpret ambiguous evidence as evidence of guilt, even when completely different behaviour could also support guilt — particularly when it came to assessing the stamps, or lack thereof, in Diab’s passport.
Roach, the first defence witness in the extradition hearing, systemically labeled nearly every piece of intelligence in the French case against Diab as unsourced and uncircumstanced.[the French government is required only to present a prima facie case for extradition, not to show its entire hand to Diab and his lawyers in a Canadian court]
That included the 1999 intelligence report that Diab, using the alias Alexander Panadriyu, bought the motorcycle used in the bombing and built the bomb.
“At first glance you say, ‘This is terrible, this is very, very specific,’ but there’s nothing there to substantiate it,” said Roach.
The hearing continues on Monday with key arguments to come about handwriting and translation.
Posted on 12/16/2010 4:30 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 16 December 2010
A Musical Interlude: No, No, A Thousand Times No (Ambrose Orch., voc. Elsie Carlisle, Sam Browne)
Posted on 12/16/2010 4:44 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald