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The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Impact of Islam
by Emmet Scott
Sir Walter Scott's Crusades and Other Fantasies
by Ibn Warraq
Fighting the Retreat from Arabia and the Gulf: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly. Vol. 1
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Literary Culture of France
by J. E. G. Dixon
Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays
by David P. Gontar
Farewell Fear
by Theodore Dalrymple
The Eagle and The Bible: Lessons in Liberty from Holy Writ
by Kenneth Hanson
The West Speaks
interviews by Jerry Gordon
Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy
Emmet Scott
Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy
Ibn Warraq
Anything Goes
by Theodore Dalrymple
Karimi Hotel
De Nidra Poller
The Left is Seldom Right
by Norman Berdichevsky
Allah is Dead: Why Islam is Not a Religion
by Rebecca Bynum
Virgins? What Virgins?: And Other Essays
by Ibn Warraq
An Introduction to Danish Culture
by Norman Berdichevsky
The New Vichy Syndrome:
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Jihad and Genocide
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Spanish Vignettes: An Offbeat Look Into Spain's Culture, Society & History
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These are all the Blogs posted on Saturday, 16, 2013.
Saturday, 16 February 2013
Islamic extremists attack Coptic church, wounding pastor
Cairo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A mob, incited by local Salafi fringe, threw stones and set fire to the church of St. Georgas in the village of Sarsena, Tamiya District, in the Egyptian province of Fayoum, about 103 km south-west of Cairo. According to sources of the Assyrian International News Agency (Aina), the attack took place yesterday evening and caused damage, particularly to the dome of the place of Christian worship. The attack destroyed the towering cross on top of the building, and many of the icons and sacred images inside.

The local Salafist fringe lead the attack against the Copts, pitting the Muslims against the community, branding the church as "illegal", because it is close to an area inhabited by Muslims and "for this reason has to be removed." They are imposing the demolition of the building and have prevented the priest, Father Domadios from entering. Some witnesses reported that the scene was also attended by police, who did nothing to prevent the violence.

The church of St. Georgas was built in the mid-80s and is a point of encounter and prayer for 200 Coptic families. About three months ago, some Muslims made a hole in the wall, to "monitor" the activities of Christians.
Posted on 02/16/2013 4:01 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 16 February 2013
The Problem with Mammography

Life being complex, many simple principles turn out on examination to be not as simple as at first thought. For example, everyone knows, or thinks that he knows, that prevention is better than cure. But is it always? It is often very difficult to say with certainty.

Three articles in a recent British Medical Journal tackle the vexed question of mammography, whose purpose is to detect cancer of the breast early in its development on the assumption that early detection leads to more effective treatment. The advice to women, therefore, is to get themselves scanned regularly.

This seems straightforward and commonsensical, but in fact the question of whether the light of mammography is worth its candle is devilishly complex. For example, if the treatment of breast cancer has improved (and death rates in Britain have almost halved between 1990 and 2010, thanks mainly to improved treatment rather than to early finding), then the number of cases found by mammography in order to save a single life has to increase. This in turn means that old trials – and all trials to determine the long-term effect of mammography have to be old – may no longer be relevant to the present situation. Trials of mammography are, in effect, always trying to hit a moving target.

The main problem that has bedevilled mammography is that of the false positive: the diagnosis of cancer when in fact there is none. For example, it is estimated that approximately 70,000 women in America are falsely diagnosed with cancer annually by means of mammography, that is to say a half of all those who are diagnosed.

False diagnosis does not give rise just to psychological problems such as stress and anxiety; according to one of the authors in the BMJ it results in physical harm and even death. Women who are wrongly diagnosed undergo unnecessary surgery, from which there is always some (if statistically small) danger, both from the surgery itself and the anaesthesia. More importantly, the majority of those who are falsely diagnosed as having cancer will receive radiotherapy, which itself causes, or at least is statistically associated with, an excess of deaths later in life from lung cancer and coronary artery disease. Again according to this author, for each life saved by mammography by detecting cancer early there are between 1 and 3 deaths caused by its other consequences. That is why trials of mammography that report only on death rates from breast cancer are insufficient and even misleading. As treatment for breast cancer improves, the presumption against mammography only gets stronger: unless the mammography itself improves in accuracy.

The situation is further complicated by the fact that not everyone agrees with these statistics. In the very same edition of the journal, another expert comes to the conclusion that breast screening is worthwhile, despite overdiagnosis. The harms of radiotherapy, for example, are decreasing as techniques are refined; moreover, diagnosis is becoming ever more accurate and sophisticated, allowing treatment to be tailored to the different kinds of cancer from which women suffer.

A third paper points out the ethical dilemmas of doctors in advising their patients. What should they tell them about mammography? If experts who have devoted most of their professional lives to studying the problem cannot agree even on the facts, for example about how great are the harms caused by overdiagnosis, what hope is their for the ordinary doctor who has only lightly touched the subject?

The chances are, for various reasons, that he will advise screening, for it is a fundamental truth that there is more rejoicing by malpractice lawyers over one false negative than over ninety-nine false positives.

First published in PJMedia.

Posted on 02/16/2013 7:34 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
Saturday, 16 February 2013
Former Israeli Ambassador Ettinger Receives Warm Welcome in Pensacola

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, Rabbi Jordon Gerson

Pensacola Mayor Ashon Hayward

It was a pretty day-clear blue skies and spring like temperatures in Pensacola, yesterday. That warmth was radiated as ex- Israeli Ambassador to Washington for Congressional Relations, Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger stepped off a US Air flights from Charlotte connecting from a long flight from Israel to New York.  A Pensacola Police Department security detail picked him up as he alighted from the aircraft and will follow him during his stay here. He was greeting by a crowd composed of Mayor Ashton Hayward, City Council President Dr. Peter Wu,  Escambia County Commissioner  Steven Berry and more than 25 enthusiastic  Students from the High Point School, Rabbi Jordan Gerson of B’nai Israel Synagogue and Pastor Brian Kinsey, the co-sponsors of Ambassador Ettinger’s events in Pensacola on Presidents Day Weekend.  It was the start of a three day tour and speaking engagements for Ambassador Ettinger to this gateway to North West Florida’s Emerald Coast.


 Ambassador Ettinger will be speaking Saturday evening at 6:30PM at B’nai Israel Synagogue on the importance of Judea and Samaria to Israel’s security and on Sunday evening at 6:00PM at the First Pentecostal Church in Pensacola on the Founding Fathers support of the renewal of the Jewish Commonwealth, Israel. Yesterday, he had time to visit, Pensacola’s Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, engaged in leading edge technology developments a possible bridge to Israel’s own high tech driven economy.


Ambassador Ettinger was interviewed at the airport by the media, Pensacola News Journal and an ABC affiliate WEAR-TV Channel 3.  Following his comments, captured in excerpts from a PNJ article, “Ex-Israeli Ambassador in Pensacola for weekend tour”, he held a teachable moment answering questions from the students of the High Point School.


In his airport comments Ettinger stressed the importance of Israel’s enduring relations with the US and the impact of the Arab Spring, Iran’s nuclear program and President Obama’s forthcoming visit next month to the Jewish nation, America’s only Democratic ally in the troubled Middle East. The PNJ article noted this in its interview with Ambassador Ettinger:


Mayor Ashton Hayward welcomed Ettinger at the airport.


“For 250 years, Jewish families have lived, worshiped and built businesses in Pensacola. In fact, the first known Jewish settlers in Florida settled right here in Pensacola in 1763,” Hayward said.
“We are a city of many cultures. We honor and celebrate our Jewish heritage. Pensacola is a friend to the Jewish people as well as to the state of Israel.”

In an interview, Ettinger addressed several issues:


“When it comes to third down and 10 yards to go, the U.S. and Israel would find it very good to be together on the field,” said Yoram Ettinger, who is chief executive officer for Second Thought: A U.S.-Israel Initiative and served as ambassador to Congress from 1989 to 1992.


• President Obama’s upcoming visit to Israel:


“Hopefully, he is going to focus on very, very critical mutual threats for the U.S. and Israel. First and foremost, the nuclearization of Iran, which could devastate the U.S. economy through the meltdown of pro-American regimes in the Persian Gulf.”


Other important issues for the visit, Ettinger said, include the mutual threat of Islamic terrorism and more economic cooperation between the U.S. and Israel.


• Obama’s “friendship” with Israel:


“President Obama has had a number of errors during his first term. Hopefully, he will learn from mistakes rather than repeat them.”


Among those errors, he said, are depending too much on the U.N. and “multinationalism” in foreign relations and applying moral equivalency to the Arab side of Middle East disputes and Israel• Former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel’s fitness to be secretary of defense:
“It seems to me that a person who, for many years, has espoused coexistence with a nuclear Iran may not fit with the job of person in charge of U.S. defense.”


Ettinger said Hagel’s previous support of the Assad family in Syria and his insistence that the Palestinian/Israel issue is at the root of Middle Eastern problems are also questionable.


• The ongoing civil war in Syria:


“What we see today in Syria, as well as in the rest of the Middle East ... is no Arab Spring, but a very seismic stormy Arab winter, is the real Middle East. The world took Mubarak of Egypt to be the Rock of Gibraltar. The world took Gaddafi of Libya and Assad of Syria to be rocks of Gibraltar, and we see them tumbling down one by one, and it ain’t the end of this process.”


Watch this PNJ video of Ambassador Ettinger remarks at the Pensacola International Airport welcome.


Ambassador Ettinger was interviewed by Jerry Gordon and Mike Bates published in the current February edition of the New English Review, “Israel on the Brink of Change".  Gordon served as MC for Ambassador Ettinger’s welcome ably assisted by Kenneth Lamb of the Task Force that organized Ambassador Ettinger’s appearances in Pensacola on Presidents Day Weekend.

Posted on 02/16/2013 8:04 AM by Jerry Gordon
Saturday, 16 February 2013
A Snapshot Of World News
Just now, at the website of  lefigaro.fr:

Seven stories here. One is about the horse-meat scandal in the EU), another about a victory on the slopes for an American skier.

Aside from the European meat, and the American feat, everything listed has to do with Islam, the World or Camp of Islam, and its violence, its aggression, its everything. .

There's Syria, Pakistan, Somalia, Tunisia, Bangladesh. It could also have been -- and will be tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow -- stories about Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Iraq. Or about Algeria, Mali, Nigeria, Kuwait, and Morocco.

And it's just a small  snapshot.

But from that snapshot you get -- ex ungue leonem -- the Big Picture.

Posted on 02/16/2013 8:26 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 16 February 2013
Like Stalin With Marshal Tukhachevsky, Erdogan Seems Hell-Bent On Destroying His Military

From Reuters:

Turkish officer resignations fuel fears over army morale

 Feb 7 2013

By Jonathon Burch

ANKARA (Reuters) - Scores of Turkish air force officers have quit since the start of the year, according to opposition lawmakers and media reports, a further sign of weak morale after a top naval commander quit over the jailing of hundreds of his colleagues.

Turkey has detained several hundred serving and retired officers in recent years under Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, including as many as a fifth of its top military chiefs, on charges of conspiring to overthrow the government.

The cases are part of an effort by Erdogan, in power for a decade, to stamp out "anti-democratic forces" and bring to heel the once-supreme military, which regularly interfered in politics and staged three outright coups in 1960, 1971 and 1980.

But the detentions have sapped morale in NATO's second-biggest army, which has been fighting a three-decade-old insurgency against Kurdish militants in the southeast and trying to prevent a spillover of the civil war in neighboring Syria.

The latest reported resignations by 110 air force officers prompted a statement from the office of the chief of general staff, which rarely talks to the media, refuting suggestions that the military had been weakened.

"Because of the dynamic and institutional structure of the Turkish armed forces, any staff member who departs is replaced with another staff member with the same qualification," it said.

January and February were the normal period for military officers to submit voluntary resignations or early retirement requests, the statement said.

Erdogan said late on Wednesday the departures were routine and described suggestions the army had been weakened as "ugly", although he acknowledged last month that lengthy pre-trial detentions were sapping army morale, an apparent bid to distance himself from increasingly unpopular coup trials.

More than 300 past and present officers were handed lengthy prison sentences in September after a 21-month trial on charges of plotting to topple Erdogan's government almost a decade ago.

Hundreds more officers are still on trial in various conspiracy cases and around 37, more than 10 percent, of the 348 generals and admirals in the Turkish armed forces are in jail.

U.S. Ambassador Francis Ricciardone was quoted by a Turkish newspaper this week as criticizing the jailing of military leaders. The Foreign Ministry said it had told the U.S. envoy in a meeting on Wednesday that such comments were "unacceptable".

Admiral Nusret Guner, who was operational commander of Turkey's navy, said last month the conspiracy cases and jailings of his colleagues had driven him to quit and that he had feared he would become the next victim. Guner had been due to take over the navy's top role later this year.

Erdogan has received praise at home and abroad for bringing the military under civilian control.

But the years that defendants spend in prison without conviction have raised suspicions the conspiracy trials are aimed at muzzling opposition, with even some sympathizers saying the number of officers charged has spiraled out of control.

About 100 journalists are also in prison, as well as thousands of activists, lawyers, politicians and others. Most are accused of plotting against the government or supporting outlawed Kurdish militants.

Just before the war with the Nazis, in the late 1930s, Joseph Stalin not only staged -- with a little help from Andrey Vyshinsky -- the show-trials of the "wreckers" -- "wreckers" that is of the great Soviet nation, and its economic achievements, political stability, and so on -- which were aimed at destroying, in every sense, his rivals among the Old Bolsheviks, including Kamenev, Zinoviev, Bukharin, and many others.

And at the same time, Stalin decided to purge the Red Army of all those whom for one reason or another he deemed potential threats to his despotism. The most important of these threats, in Stalin's view, was Marshal Tukhachevsky -- someone whom he had been thinking about getting rid of ever for many years.  He alsow decided to rid himself of seven other high-ranking officers. And later on, most of the generals who passed the death sentence on Tukhachevsky were themselves executed.

The effect was that, when the Wehrmacht came a-calling, as many, but not Stalin (a blend of the paranoid and, when it came to Mr. Hitler, far  too trusting)  knew it would, the Red Army, its officer corps decimated just a few years before, was ill-prepared.

The Turkish army, the Turkish navy, the Turkish air force -- that is, the military -- has been the historic protector of Kemalism. There is plenty to criticize. Some of its officers have at times been too intent on ruthlessly upholding the Replacement Theology (with Ataturk becoming the center of a cult, as a substitute for Muhammad, and the "Turks, the Sun People" " replacing Muslims as "the best of peoples") as an attempt to sate the emotional needs of those in Turkey, among its masses, who Need To Believe. But it also included many who, in upholding the systematic constraints on Islam as a social and political force, made possible those reedoms, inner and outer, that Turks -- including their critics, who may now come to regret the undermining of the military's power -- enjoyed, freedoms which have not as yet been  extinguished by Erdogan, but not for want of trying.

Turks themselves can consider if what Erdogan has wrought in any way reminds  them of what Stalin did to Marshal Tukhachevsky and his fellow generals. 

Posted on 02/16/2013 8:44 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 16 February 2013
Mark Steyn On Demography And Destiny In Western Europe

From National Review On-Line

Mark Steyn

,January 15, 2013:

Posted on 02/16/2013 10:10 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 16 February 2013
Palestinian Media Watch: The Lies That Keep The Infidel Money Coming
February 14, 2013
PMW Special Report

Is the PA lying to European governments

in order to receive European funding?

European and US money donated to the PA's general budget
is paying salaries not only to all Palestinian terrorists in Israeli prisons
but also to 4,000 former security and terrorist prisoners
http://palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=8550
 by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
Palestinian Media Watch has seen statements by both the British and Norwegian governments defending their payments to the Palestinian Authority's general budget for salaries. These statements came in response to two PMW reports documenting that thousands of imprisoned terrorists are among the recipients of PA salaries. In their statements, both the British and Norwegian governments say that the PA has informed them that the PA does not pay "salaries" to terrorists in Israeli prisons, but social "assistance" payments to the prisoners' families. Minister of State Alan Duncan on behalf of Britain's Department for International Development (DfID) said: "The second [PA] payment scheme [to prisoners] is intended to assist families in need of assistance." Both governments have written that this information was received from the PA. (See statements below.)

PMW has repeatedly rejected this claim and documented that the payments are indeed salaries not correlated to need but given as a reward for the prisoners' terror acts, which the PA sees as actions worthy of "esteem." (See below.) It would violate the letter or spirit of the Western donor countries' laws and certainly the intent of all Western donors, to have their contributions to the PA go to terrorists' salaries.

1. PA Minister's statement rejects as "rumor" the information the PA supplied to the Europeans
The PA has now released a statement through its official news service, WAFA, explicitly contradicting the information that it supplied to the Europeans, while corroborating PMW's documentation. The PA Minister of Prisoners' Affairs, Issa Karake, announced that the categorization of the prisoners' "salaries" as social "assistance" was an incorrect "rumor":

"[Minister of Prisoners' Affairs Issa] Karake denies rumors about changing salaries (Arabic: rawatib) into social assistance (Arabic: i'anat ijtima'iya)... He noted that the government headed by Salam Fayyad considers the prisoners' cause central, and has authorized regulations to support and protect them out of esteem for their sacrifice and struggle."
[WAFA (the official Palestinian Authority news agency), Dec. 27, 2012]
Significantly, the PA's denial of the information it supplied to its international donors was announced by WAFA, the official Palestinian Authority news agency. (See full article below.)

Additionally, it should be noted that PA Minister Karake stressed that it is not merely an issue of language, but of the essence of the payment. Karake explained that the prisoners are supported "out of esteem for their sacrifice and struggle," i.e., as a reward for their actions. UK Min. of State Duncan wrote in his letter on behalf of UK's DfID, that:
 "It is true that in some cases, payments will go to families of those who have committed the sort of crime that we utterly condemn. We believe however that it would be wrong to punish innocent children and dependent family members by denying them access to social support."
What is explicit from PA Minister Karake's words is that the payments are not for the "innocent children," but "out of esteem for their (i.e., the prisoners') sacrifice and struggle." To the UK and the West, terrorism is a "crime that we utterly condemn." However, to the PA it is specifically those crimes that are held in "esteem" and rewarded with monthly salaries.

The PA's payment of salaries in recognition of their acts of terror is consistent with the PA's policy of glorifying terrorists. (See the 40 page PMW special report prepared in December 2012 for members of the Dutch Foreign Affairs Committee, documenting over 100 examples of the PA honoring and glorifying terrorists, including terrorist murderers.)  


2. Palestinian terrorist prisoners continue to receive a salary after being released from prison. Today, 4,000 released prisoners receive a "permanent" and "full monthly salary."
Palestinian terrorist prisoners who served more than five years in prison remain on PA's payroll even after being released. 4,000 released prisoners who were imprisoned for terrorism or other security offenses, now receive "permanent" "full monthly salaries", even though many are "in the prime of their lives and could get a job and work." The PA's payment of a full salary to released prisoners is another example of how the PA rewards terrorists with donor money:

TV interview with PA Minister Karake:
TV host: "You speak of a permanent salary for every [released] prisoner who was in prison for more than five years, and he gets his salary while he sits at home. Some of them are in the prime of their lives and could get a job and work. Why not use him in the workforce and give him a salary?"
Minister Karake: "That's right. I presented it to the government and we decided to give preference to employ these prisoners... in order to make the prisoner into a productive person..."
Host: "Do we have the number of prisoners who get full monthly salaries?"
Karake: "About 4,000."
Host: "That's an army."
Karake: "Yes, that's a big number, and it's growing."
Host: "They don't work. They just collect a salary."
Karake: "Some work."
Host: "A small number."
Karake: "Some volunteer and work in different institutions."
[Wattan TV, private Palestinian channel, Dec. 29, 2012, emphasis added]
Click to view

3. PA changes language of law from "salary" to "assistance" to satisfy the UK, but immediately reverts back to original language
An additional indicator that the PA government seems to be intentionally deceiving its foreign donors is that the UK minister wrote that the PA admitted that its law originally stated it was paying "salaries" -"ratib." However, in response to the donors' queries they decided to change the language of the law from "salaries" - "ratib"- to "assistance" - "la'ana." (See UK DfID letter below.)

Strikingly, this cosmetic change - substituting one word with another - was accepted as adequate, satisfying both by the UK and Norway.

There are indications that the PA may actually have changed the terminology of the law from "salary" (ratib) to "assistance" (la'ana) to satisfy the Europeans, but then immediately changed it back under pressure from prisoners' organizations. The following statements by Palestinian prisoners' support organizations shed light on this PA pretense:

Headline: "Fares: The government has given the 'Prisoners and Released Prisoners Law' final approval."
"Prisoners' Club Chairman Qadura Fares said that the government has given final approval for what is stipulated in the Prisoners' and Released [Prisoners'] Law of 2004, which considers payments made to prisoners 'salaries,' (Arabic: ratib) to which no other term applies.
In a statement made to the media, Fares on Thursday [Dec. 27, 2012] called for an end to the disagreement in this matter, which was settled in accordance with the law passed by the previous (PA) Parliament in 2004.
The Ahrar Center for Prisoners' and Human Rights Research had demanded that President Mahmoud Abbas intervene immediately to reverse the government's decision to replace the term 'prisoner salary' (Arabic:
ratib) with the term 'prisoner assistance (Arabic: i'anat.)

The Ahrar Center had noted that Palestinian laws are explicit, and what a prisoner receives is not 'assistance' (Arabic: ma'una, from the same root as i'anat), but rather his minimal rights for the years he spent in prison."
[Al-Quds Internet edition, Dec. 27, 2012, emphasis added]  
Conclusions
After the UK and Norway questioned the PA about its payment of salaries to terrorists, the PA changed the language of the law of its payments to terrorists from "salary" to "assistance." This change was made so that these countries  would continue their funding of the PA. Organizations representing the Palestinian prisoners complained about this cosmetic change in the law, which was seen as an insult to the prisoners who deserve the payments as a "salary" and a "right," not as social "assistance". The PA government responded, according to Prisoners' Club Chairman Qadura Fares, and made a final version of the law "which considers payments made to prisoners 'salaries,' (Arabic: ratib) to which no other term applies."
This was all corroborated by the PA Minister of Prisoners' Affairs who said that even the cosmetic name change to "social assistance" was only a rumor and that prisoners receive "salaries" out of the PA's "esteem" for them.
 
Since 2011, PMW has been informing international donors that aid money given to the PA for salaries and for the PA's general budget pays the salaries of Palestinian terrorists imprisoned in Israel. This is in violation of the letter or spirit of the laws of the funding countries. These salaries are paid to all prisoners, including those who personally murdered Israelis, like 17 year-old Hakim Awad who murdered five members of the Fogel family, as well as terrorists like Ibrahim Hamid, who received 54 life sentences for planning several suicide bombings.

None of these payments have ever been denied by the PA.

Apparently, European funders of the PA have continued to fund the salaries as well as the general budget because the PA is supplying them with false and only partial information. The Europeans may not be aware that their donations to the PA were also paying salaries for 4,000 released prisoners who are able to work. Likewise, the donors were misinformed by the PA that their payments for salaries are "social assistance." The words of the Minister of Prisoners' Affairs to the Palestinian audience in Arabic are explicit: the purpose of the laws regarding the prisoners and their salary payments is not to give social "assistance" based on needs, but were enacted "out of esteem" for their actions.

Click to view pdf of this PMW report with previous PMW reports documenting the PA's payment of salaries to terrorists in prison.

Click to view pdf of PMW's first report exposing the PA's payment of salaries to terrorists in prison.

Click to view pdf of PMW's first report on UK aid financing the PA's payment of salaries to terrorists in prison.

Click to view pdf of PMW's second report on UK aid financing the PA's payment of salaries to terrorists in prison.

Click to view pdf of PMW's report on PA payment of salaries and glorification of terrorists and Dutch funding.

Appendix: Statements from British and Norwegian governments about salaries 
1. Statement from British DfID about salaries   

Mike Freer MP
House of Commons
London SW1A OAA
16 November 2012
Dear Mike
Thank you for your letter of 5 November, to Justine Greening, Secretary of State for International Development, red:MF/JW, enclosing an email from your constituent, Mr. David Lewis, of 37 The Grove, London, N3 1QT, about DFlD's support  to the Palestinian Authority (PA), in the context or recent allegations by Palestinian Media Watch.
It is completely wrong to suggest that the UK is supporting terrorism. We have robust safeguards in place to ensure that our funds do not benefit terrorist groups, and ensure that our partners do the same. We are also vigorous in investigating allegations which are made. In addition to our own investigations, we draw on independent reports from neutral groups where these are available. For example, on the issue of textbooks, independent studies by Congressional Research Services, UNESCO and others have come to very different conclusions to those of Palestinian Media Watch, finding no evidence of incitement or anti-semitism.

Our support to the PA is helping to build the institutions vitally necessary to lay the groundwork for an effective and viable Palestinian State, living in peace and security with Israel. UK aid to the PA is also helping to deliver essential services such as health and education to poor and vulnerable people in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Our development assistance to the PA is governed by a Memorandum of Understanding which reaffirms the PA's commitment to non-violence and a negotiated solution to the conflict. We continue to assess that President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad are committed to non-violent pursuit of a two state solution. We have reviewed the allegations made by PMW in their recent report. While we are continuing to investigate some of the details, our overall assessment is that their accusations are flawed in many respects.
Firstly, it is important to understand that the Palestinian Authority operates two schemes in respect of prisoners. The first operates at the request of the Israeli authorities and is administered by an Israeli company. Under this agreement PA funds are used to cover the immediate needs of prisoners for food and clothing. This is in line with basic international law, and indeed we would normally expect the imprisoning authority to make such provision itself.
The second payment scheme is intended to assist families in need of assistance. There are a number of points in the PMW report relating to this support that are not borne out by the facts, as set out below.
PMW states that the PA's law refers to the payments as "salaries." The document referred to is a Cabinet Decision, not a law. The word used in the decision, "ratib," can be used for any regular payment, not just for salaries. The PA has now changed the wording in the Cabinet Decision to unambiguously refer to the payment as assistance - "Ia'ana." This is consistent with the PA's published budget which uses the same word for payments to prisoners families as it does for other social assistance payments. The payment is also unlike salaries in other ways, for example in that it cannot be used as a basis for mortgage lending.

[PMW comment: The information reported by the UK regarding the meaning of the Arabic word "ratib" is incorrect. "Ratib" is the word specifically used for "salaries." Note the precise definitions in two respected Arabic - English dictionaries:

"(pl. رواتب rawatib) salary, pay, emolument;"

[The Hans Wehr Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic]

 

"Rateb (rawateb) Salary (especially government officials and professionals). rawateb il-muwazzafin - officials' salaries".

["The Olive Tree dictionary - A Transliterated Dictionary of Conversational Eastern Arabic (Palestinian)]

PMW also say that the core payments cannot be social assistance because unmarried prisoners receive the basic payment and there are additional payments for wives and children. The Cabinet Decision states that "The spouse of the prisoner is the formal delegate to receive the payment unless the prisoner decides otherwise. If the prisoner was not married then one of the parents is delegated and the prisoner may choose one of them or any other family member."

[PMW comment: In all cases the prisoner is in sole control of the money and only he has the right to designate the person who will receive the payments on his behalf while he is in prison. As the PA law states and as quoted correctly by Duncan: the spouse is "the delegate" who receives the money "unless the prisoner decides otherwise." It is the prisoner's money and the prisoner's decision.]  
PMW states that the amount of the payment increases with the severity of the crime rather than the needs of the family. This is not the case. Prisoners given a long sentence start on the same payment as those serving other crimes, and families with other sources of public income do not receive the payment. PMW is correct that the highest payment to families is around 12,000 Shekels, which is around £2000 per month, Only 2 prisoners' families receive this high amount, and the basic payment received by the majority of prisoners' families is much lower.

[PMW comment: As reported by PMW previously, it is the PA's official newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida that in a special financial supplement about PA salaries wrote that the average salary of prisoners is higher than that PA civil servants and PA military. (See reports in pdf)]
It is true that in some cases, payments may go to families of those who have committed the sort of crime that we utterly condemn. We believe, however, that it would be wrong to punish innocent children and other dependent family members by denying them access to social support. We have discussed these issues with the PA at the highest levels in recent weeks, and continue to encourage the PA to ensure that these payments are more transparent, needs-based and affordable. We have offered support to the PA in doing so. 

Providing assistance in the context of an unresolved conflict that has lasted more than 60 years presents some inevitable challenges. The UK is committed to resolving this conflict in a peaceful negotiated two state solution. I am sure this is a goal on which we both can agree.
Alan Duncan
2. Statement from Norwegian Foreign Ministry about salaries  

"Dagbladet has asked the government a number of questions regarding Pal watch's (PMW's) information [on PA paying salaries to imprisoned terrorists], but the [Norwegian] Foreign Ministry denies these problems and refers to the salary payments as social benefits. 'The PA has, in the same way other countries' governments have, a variety of arrangements for social transfers to its citizens, including people who are imprisoned. Social benefits to the families of Palestinians in Israeli prisons are part of the total Palestinian social security system and are intended to compensate for loss of income. Such social transfers have been made for as long as the PA has existed and on social grounds, including considerations for children in the family,' writes Frode Overland Andersen in the Foreign Ministry in an email. That the prisoners receive a higher average salary than teachers, soldiers and others who perform key functions in a future Palestinian state, was not commented on by the Foreign Ministry..."
[Dagbladet.no (Norway), Sept. 4, 2011]
3. Wafa report on PA Minister of Prisoners' Affairs Issa Karake's statement:

Headline: "Karake denies rumors about changing salaries into social welfare."
"Minister of Prisoners' Affairs Issa Karake denied the stories and rumors that the [Palestinian] prisoners' (i.e., in Israeli prisons for terror related crimes) salaries would be changed to social welfare payments.
In a press release Karake clarified that prisoners receive their stipends in accordance with regulations and the law, and their rights are protected so that it is impossible to hurt them. He noted that the government headed by Salam Fayyad considers the prisoners' cause central, and has authorized regulations to support and protect them out of esteem for their sacrifice and struggle.
He added that recent years have seen strong government support for regulations and laws that protect the rights of prisoners and their families, as [they protect] the rights of Martyred fighters.
Karake said that people should be careful regarding rumors, and not use the prisoners to promote narrow, personal aims, which caused confusion among the prisoners."
[WAFA (the official Palestinian Authority news agency), Dec. 27, 2012]
Posted on 02/16/2013 10:16 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 16 February 2013
Stalin, Tukhachevsky, And A Despot's Miscalculations
Watch, and listen, to the documentary here.
Posted on 02/16/2013 11:52 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 16 February 2013
Not With A Bare Bodkin, But With A Bomb, Does This Quetta Quake

In Pakistan, Mass-Murdering Shiites Because They Are Regarded As Practically, Or Even Worse Than, Infidels:

Bomb blast in southwest Pakistan kills at least 65

ISLAMABAD, PakistanA bomb blast killed at least 65 people in the southwest city of Quetta on Saturday in what appeared to be the latest episode of sectarian violence against the country’s beleaguered Shiite Muslim minority.

The explosion occurred near a market crowded with shoppers in a Shiite-dominated neighborhood, local and federal government officials said. Authorities believe the blast was caused by a remote-controlled bomb planted in a water tanker. Women and children were among the dead, police said, and at least 175 more people were injured, some of them critically.

[Updated at 9:39 a.m., Feb. 16: This post has been updated to reflect a rise in the death toll from 50 to 65, and an increase in the number of wounded to 175. In addition, the parked vehicle in which the bomb exploded has been identified as a water tanker.]

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. Shiites angrily protested the bombing, burning tires on the street and hurling stones at passing police vehicles. Shiite leaders called on members of the sect to launch a strike in Quetta on Sunday.

For years Sunni Muslim extremist groups have targeted Shiites in Pakistan, including the Shiite-dominated Hazara community of Baluchistan province in the country’s southwest, where Quetta is located. Sunni militant groups regard Shiites as heretics,[that is, as the "worst of Infidels"] and have pursued a campaign of violence against them.

In 2012, more than 400 Shiite Muslims in Pakistan were killed in sectarian attacks, according to Human Rights Watch. More than 120 of those killings took place in Baluchistan.

The violence intensified earlier this year, when twin suicide bomb blasts at a billiards hall in a Shiite neighborhood in Quetta in January resulted in more than 90 deaths and 160 injuries.  Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni militant group, claimed responsibility for that attack.

Afterward, relatives of those killed in the attacks carried out a sit-in protest for several days on a Quetta roadway alongside dozens of coffins carrying the remains of the victims. Under Islamic tradition, the dead should be buried as quickly as possible. Shiite Muslims ended the protests only after Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf agreed to dismiss the provincial government and turn over all governing power to the governor, who is appointed by the federal government. Ashraf also ordered the deployment of paramilitary troops to hunt down militants responsible the bombings.

Posted on 02/16/2013 11:57 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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