These are all the Blogs posted on Monday, 16, 2011.
Monday, 16 May 2011
An Arab Beneficiary Of "Seeds Of Peace" Returns To Undermine Israel
Read here. Find out how Fadi Elsalameen, a young Arab boy, left Hebron for the United States to take part in that sweet-sounding and deceptive "Seeds of Peace" program in the United States, where he remained, and studied, and awas given every advantage -- right up to and including the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Look at how he mildly criticises Hamas, and for the sin of not being clear as to where it stands, when Hamas has made very clear, in its Charter and in its behavior, where it stands vis-a-vis Israel.
And listen to him parrot that idiotic line used by some in Washington and many who write for Haaretz -- "you don't make peace with your friends but with your enemies."
The banality offered as brilliant retort to those Israelis reluctant to trade away still more land, and the legal, moral, and historic claims that go with them, hides the truth.
This is the truth:
"When you are dealing with those who take as their model Muhammad with tje Meccans and the Treaty of Hudaibiyya, you must never confuse peace with a peace treaty. Slow Jihadists of Fatah share with the Fast Jihadists of Hamas the same ultimage goal: an end to the intolerable existence of the Infidel nation-state of Israel in the midst of Dar al-Islam. They differ only on tactics and timing.
And brush up your Shakespeare:
You taught me language; and my profit on'it is, I know how to curse. The red plague rid you. For learning me your language!
"Land For Peace" "Two-State Solution" "You Don't Make Peace With Your Friends But With Your Enemies"
One side, the side of those who in the Western world, afraid to face up to the implications of the ideology of Islam, or willilng to throw Israel to the wolves because nothing else comes to mind and they want to be seen to be doing something -- or because they are hostile to Israel and know perfectly well what further concessions would mean but don't care, actually like the idea of Israel existing in a state of maximum peril (and oblivious to what this would mean both for the projection of Western power without Israel as a military ally, and for the whetting of Muslim and Arab appetites elsewhere in the world, especially, and most dangerously, in Western Europe), urge Israel to continue with the farce of agreements and treaties with the Arabs, that is with the Slow Jihadists (of Fatah) rather than with the Fast Jihadists (of Hamas).
But all treaties have in the past meant for Israel only one thing: the surrender of tangible, un-take-backable, land while the other side in return offers promises about intangible things -- "friendly relations," "peace" -- and these promises are never, have never, been fulfilled, not once, in all the treaties and agreements that Israel has signed, beginning with the Armistice Agreements (Israel was willing then to make them agreements over permanent borders, but the Arabs declined, which makes their talk of "1967 borders" amazing) in 1949.
The young Arab man interviewed in Haaretz (see here), to whom so much was given, in the hopes that he might be one of those "new generation" of Arabs who would see things differently, and who has had, thanks to the American (and no doubt also mostly Jewish) supporters of "Seeds of Peace" , who has received an expensive education in the United States and earned to be plausible with a Western audience, "returns to his home" and turns out to be little different in his aims from Abu Mazen or from Haniyeh. He has no sympathy with, nor understanding of, the rights, the claims, of non-Musliims and even non-Arabs for in the end, he wants an Israel that is pushed back, and then back and then back, and surely he knows perfectly well -- knowing the Muslim Arab mind and heart -- that this will make peace less likely, will do nothing to sate the desire to see the Infidel nation-state of Israel removed, like a cancer in the Arab body, or like a knife in the Arab heart (these being the two main metaphors in Arab propaganda for Israel, and one must eliminate a cancer altogether, pull a knife out all the way).
The reliance on slogans "Land For Peace," "A Two-State Solution," "You Don't Make Peace With Your Friends, But With Your Enemies" -- --by those who think that uttering these cheap and stupid phrases can be a suitable substitue for reasoned argument, is telling. Real thought on the part of those with a modicum of good will would lead to quite a different conclusion from what these slogans attempt to convince. Those who grasp the nature of the war-without-end against Israel, capable of understanding Islamic doctrine on the subject of Dar al-Harb, cwho are apable of understanding the power of Islam over the minds of its adherents, who have come to realize that Islam is not subject to interpretation and that Islam both justifies and promotes conquest, not necessarily through violence (economic and diplomatic and demogrpahic warfare are also useful), and the ideology of Islam rests on the central division of the world between Muslim and Non-Muslim, Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Harb, that prates about "Two-State Solutions." Muhammad is for Muslims uswa hasana (the Model of Conduct), the Perfect Man, al-insan al-kamil. He taught that "war is deception" and practiced what he preached. And of all his acts of deception, the one that has aroused the greatest admiration of his followers down through the century was his agreement with the Meccans in 628 A.D. at Hudaibiyya, for a ten-year (roughly, given the lunar calendar) truce treaty, or hudna, one that Muhammad broke within eighteen months, just as soon as he felt his side was sufficiently stronger so as to be able to make war on the Meccans.
This hudna at Hudaibiyya, and the breaking of this hudna, became the basis for all subsequent Muslim treaty-making with non-Muslims. You can read about it in the works of Majid Khadduri, or Bassam Tibi, or any scholar of Islam who is not an apologist and propagandist. Between Muslims and non-Muslims, for between Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Harb, a state of permanent war (though not always of open warfare) must exist, until Islam dominates everywhere, and everywhere Muslims rule.
YALA, Thailand - A powerful roadside bomb killed two Buddhist monks and wounded two soldiers in Thailand's Muslim deep south on Monday, police said, the latest attack in a region hit by seven years of separatist violence.
The bomb was hidden in a ditch in Yala province bordering Malaysia and was triggered as a pickup truck carrying the monks from a temple drove past.
The blast sent the vehicle rolling 10 meters and also wounded two soldiers assigned to protect the monks from attacks by Muslim militants.
(Malaysiakini) - Perkasa president Ibrahim Ali said that he is willing to wage a crusade against the Christians if the community allegedly continues to challenge Islam's position in the country.
“If they want a crusade, so be it. If they say that the peace that we enjoy is not good enough ... we shall take up the challenge. Don't take the silence of Muslims as a sign of fear,” he warned to cheers from about 150 people at a ceramah last night.
“Before our followers fall in this battle, (Perkasa) leaders will first lay down their lives and die sprawling in blood,” he thundered.
Speaking at a function organised by the Komuniti 1Malaysia group of Kampung Kerdas and Kampung Changkat in Gombak, Ibrahim accused the Christians of “challenging the sovereignty and dignity of Malays and Muslims.”
He was referring to the allegation that a group of pastors were plotting to make Christianity the official religion of the nation and appoint a Christian prime minister. This was reported last Saturday by Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia.
“This is an affront to the sovereignty of Muslims who are the majority... It started with race, and now it has gone to issues of religion. But when it comes to religion, it means jihad,” he said to hoots from the crowd.
According to the Pasir Mas parliamentarian, minorities are emboldened to challenge Malay and Muslim supremacy because they are encouraged by PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim, who is pandering for their votes.
“Many of the Christians in Malaysia are Chinese and many of the Christians (in the world) are American. Anwar is acting as a US mole. It all fits,” he said in his trademark fiery style.
However Ibrahim in contriving to scaptegoat the Chinese community, has his facts wrong, as it is the bumiputera Christians who make up the bulk of the community in Malaysia....
Anyone remember the Arts-at-Harvard Taskforce, and its promise to "shape an even brighter future"? I can understand that brighter futures get shaped at Harvard, where can-do America's brightest of the bright shape and shift. But in shftless, shapeless Grimsby? Perhaps not, which is why they needed a Future Shape Programme Manager, and why they needed to spend £70,189 (about $114,000) on him - or her, of course, as Grimsby Council is an equal-opportunity employer. You might think that the hours would be long -- until you remember that this is Local Government, where the highest paid jobs are the easiest. The job is a mere 37 hours per week, while the man in the corner shop or the trader with the white van is working twice that just to make ends meet.
And what does a Future Shape Programme Manager do? Manages Programmes that Shape Futures, of course, or Programmes Shapes that Manage Futures - it hardly matters. From Jobs Go Public (h/t Taxpayers' Alliance):
Future Shape is an exciting programme setting out the Council’s vision to be a commissioning, enabling and facilitating organisation. We want to improve experiences and outcomes for our people and our businesses, be adaptable and future proof and be a smaller and smarter organisation. It is this programme of projects that will enable us to deliver the change required.
We need an individual to shape, challenge and co-ordinate the Future Shape programme ...
Won't they then need an individual, or indeed a taskforce, to shape the shaper of the shapers?
We need an individual to shape, challenge and co-ordinate the Future Shape programme. You will establish and champion the approach to strategic change, realise maximum value from the change and ensure it is outcome focussed. Working with senior management and other key stakeholders you will ensure coherence across operational and change activity, minimising any adverse impacts of change.
You will have excellent programme and project management, excellent people management and strong leadership skills, experience of leading complex change in a large organisation and knowledge of the public sector and of the key issues in local government.
Food rots as bins remain unemptied; old ladies go hungry as meals-on-wheels are cut; libraries close for want of funding, but none of that matters as long as futures are shaped and proofed, stakeholder coherence is enabled and key issues are optimally impacted.
Malmo in Sweden is not a happy place to be by all accounts. Most recently this from The Local
Another explosion shook Malmö, in the south of Sweden, in the early hours of Monday when an explosive device detonated outside of the floating nightclub Prince Bernhard. According to the police, the incident was not as serious as they had feared.
“It was some kind of explosive device but there was only minor damage to the boat and the place was completely deserted so no one was harmed,“ said Lars-Håkan Lindholm of the local police to TT.
A week ago, another and more powerful explosion rocked Lilla Torg in central Malmö in the early hours causing extensive damage to one of the square's many restaurants.
Since the beginning of the year there have been 6 explosions in the Malmö area. The police will now investigate any connections between the incidents.
The Oresund bridge means that Denmark is an easy journey from Malmo; the situation in Malmo specifically and South Sweden generally is believed to be one reason why Denmark has reintroduced border controls with Sweden. Hence the interest of the Copenhagen Post in events in a city in a foreign country.
Police in Sweden’s third largest city searching for perpetrators of unrelated bombing and shooting. Just two days after a bomb was detonated outside a restaurant in a busy area of central Malmö, a man was shot dead at a public swimming pool, in an apparent execution-style murder.
Around noon on Wednesday a man in his twenties was killed by three bullets to the head at a popular outdoor swimming pool in the southern Swedish city near to Copenhagen, in what appeared to be an execution-style murder.
The police in Malmo have issued a description of the man they want for the execution shooting - he is tall. As the comments say, can Peter Crouch (England footballer 6'7") account for his movements please. No, it can't be Crouchey, as an afterthought they add that he is also 'dark'.
"We have a fairly good picture of the perpetrator," said JB Cederholm, who is leading the investigation for Malmö police. . . Police have been able to compile an accurate description of the tall dark man, dressed in black clothing and with a black cap on his head. "He could even be younger than 20-years-old," Cederholm said.
This seems to be a pattern with our police - the British police are the same. Half the details of a suspect's description are left out, lest anybody realise who is committing all the crime.
OTTAWA (AFP) – A policeman was injured Friday in clashes between supporters of Libyan strongman Moamer Kadhafi and anti-Kadhafi protesters outside the Libyan embassy in Ottawa, local media said.
Dozens of anti-Kadhafi protesters carried banners that read "42 years is enough" and "Leave Libya" from parliament to the embassy where they found themselves face-to-face with a much smaller group of pro-regime demonstrators, said public broadcaster CBC.
A scuffle broke out and in the pushing and shoving a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer was knocked over. He was taken to hospital with an injured knee, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation said.
A pro-Kadhafi protester also may have broken an arm after tripping over a curb, it said.
The street in front of the embassy in downtown Ottawa was briefly closed as authorities separated the two groups, Ottawa police told AFP.
Wait till the Sunnis and Shi'a start to work out their differences, Islamically speaking, on our streets.
More fighting "between" Muslims and non-Muslims in Nigeria, after the non-Muslims won the election. By Yinka Ibukun for AP:
LAGOS, Nigeria – At least 800 people were killed in postelection violence that swept across northern Nigeria as it became clear that a northern candidate would not succeed in unseating the southern president, an international human rights group said Monday.
Human Rights Watch gave its estimate in a report that included testimonies from interviews with witnesses and with others who survived the riots.
Nigerian authorities have not given an official death toll for fear of provoking retaliatory violence.
Yeah, we see a lot of information not being released for fear of provoking retaliatory violence these days, all around the world.
But a government agency has said that more than 40,000 people in Africa's most populous nation were displaced by the riots. Some local organizations have said that at least 500 people were killed.
While international observers applauded Nigeria's legislative and presidential elections held in April, the violence that erupted in the aftermath threatened the stability of the oil-producing West African nation.
"The April elections were heralded as among the fairest in Nigeria's history, but they were also the bloodiest," said Human Rights Watch West Africa researcher Corinne Dufka.
The New York-based organization said it had conducted more than 55 interviews with witnesses in several states including Bauchi, Gombe, Kano, and Zamfara.
Interview were conducted with witnesses and victims of the violence, members of the clergy [of which religion?], traditional leaders, police officials and journalists.
Muslim rioters burned homes, churches and police stations after results showed that Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the south, had beaten his closest opponent Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim from the north. Reprisal attacks by Christians began almost immediately.
The nation of 150 million people is divided between the Christian-dominated south and the Muslim north. The worst of the violence is believed to have been in the north-central state of Kaduna, where a large Christian community borders a Muslim one.
More than 300 people died in rioting in Zonkwa, a town in rural Kaduna state. A market in the town of Kafanchan was razed to the ground. The Human Rights Watch report says that in those parts of the state, most of the victims were Muslims caught in retaliatory attacks.
Many northerners believed someone from their region should be the next leader after the Muslim president died in office.
No, many northerners believed that once a land is ruled by Muslims, it must never be allowed to be ruled by non-Muslims.
Former President Umar Musa Yar'Adua had been expected to rule for another term, but his death catapulted Jonathan, his vice president, to power and left the presidency in the hands of a southerner before that region's turn. An unwritten agreement in the ruling party calls for its presidential candidates to rotate between the country's Christian south and Muslim north.
Jonathan last week created a panel to investigate the postelection violence. Its tasks include determining how many people were killed and the root cause of the wave of riots, but Human Rights Watch's report shows that some lack confidence in the panel.
"Going to these panels buys the government time and when the problem drops from the headlines, they go back to business as usual," the report quoted activist Innocent Chukwuma as saying.
A blood test that can show how fast someone is ageing – and offers the tantalising possibility of estimating how long they have left to live – is to go on sale to the general public in Britain later this year.
The controversial test measures vital structures on the tips of a person's chromosomes, called telomeres, which scientists believe are one of the most important and accurate indicators of the speed at which a person is ageing.
Scientists behind the €500 (£435) test said it will be possible to tell whether a person's "biological age", as measured by the length of their telomeres, is older or younger than their actual chronological age.
Medical researchers believe that telomere testing will become widespread within the next five or 10 years, but there are already some scientists who question its value and whether there should be stronger ethical controls over its wider use. In addition to concerns about how people will react to a test for how "old" they really are, some scientists are worried that telomere testing may be hijacked by unscrupulous organisations trying to peddle unproven anti-ageing remedies and other fake elixirs of life.
The results of the tests might also be of interest to companies offering life-insurance policies or medical cover that depend on a person's lifetime risk of falling seriously ill or dying prematurely. However, there is a growing body of scientific opinion that says testing the length of a person's telomeres could provide vital insights into the risk of dying prematurely from a range of age-related disorders, from cardiovascular disease to Alzheimer's and cancer. "We know that people who are born with shorter telomeres than normal also have a shorter lifespan. We know that shorter telomeres can cause a shorter lifespan," said Maria Blasco of the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre in Madrid, who is the inventor of the new commercial telomere test. "But we don't know whether longer telomeres are going to give you a longer lifespan. That's not really known in humans," she added...
"I have learnt that all men live not by care for themselves but by love. It was not given to the mother to know what her children needed for their life. Nor was it given to the rich man to know what he himself needed. Nor is it given to any man to know whether, when evening comes, he will need boots for his body or slippers for his corpse." -- Leo Tolstoy
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Late one night last November, a plane carrying dozens of Colombian men touched down in this glittering seaside capital. Whisked through customs by an Emirati intelligence officer, the group boarded an unmarked bus and drove roughly 20 miles to a windswept military complex in the desert sand.
The Colombians had entered the United Arab Emirates posing as construction workers. In fact, they were soldiers for a secret American-led mercenary army being built by Erik Prince, the billionaire founder of Blackwater Worldwide, with $529 million from the oil-soaked sheikdom.
Mr. Prince, who resettled here last year after his security business faced mounting legal problems in the United States, was hired by the crown prince of Abu Dhabi to put together an 800-member battalion of foreign troops for the U.A.E., according to former employees on the project, American officials and corporate documents obtained by The New York Times.
The force is intended to conduct special operations missions inside and outside the country, defend oil pipelines and skyscrapers from terrorist attacks and put down internal revolts, the documents show. Such troops could be deployed if the Emirates faced unrest in their crowded labor camps or were challenged by pro-democracy protests like those sweeping the Arab world this year. [those "crowded labor camps" are full of foreign workers, at the low end, who are subject to misrable working conditions, their minimal pay often withheld for the slightest reason or none given at all, and work 14-hour days in the desert heat. That is how the Gulf States operate -- on quasi-slave labor, of those who are lured with the promise of steady income, and find that they are treated as chattel]. ,
The U.A.E.’s rulers, viewing their own military as inadequate, also hope that the troops could blunt the regional aggression of Iran, the country’s biggest foe, the former employees said. The training camp, located on a sprawling Emirati base called Zayed Military City, is hidden behind concrete walls laced with barbed wire. Photographs show rows of identical yellow temporary buildings, used for barracks and mess halls, and a motor pool, which houses Humvees and fuel trucks. The Colombians, along with South African and other foreign troops, are trained by retired American soldiers and veterans of the German and British special operations units and the French Foreign Legion, according to the former employees and American officials.
In outsourcing critical parts of their defense to mercenaries — the soldiers of choice for medieval kings, Italian Renaissance dukes and African dictators — the Emiratis have begun a new era in the boom in wartime contracting that began after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. And by relying on a force largely created by Americans, they have introduced a volatile element in an already combustible region where the United States is widely viewed with suspicion.
The United Arab Emirates — an autocracy with the sheen of a progressive, modern state — are closely allied with the United States, and American officials indicated that the battalion program had some support in Washington.
“The gulf countries, and the U.A.E. in particular, don’t have a lot of military experience. It would make sense if they looked outside their borders for help,” said one Obama administration official who knew of the operation. “They might want to show that they are not to be messed with.”
Still, it is not clear whether the project has the United States’ official blessing. Legal experts and government officials said some of those involved with the battalion might be breaking federal laws that prohibit American citizens from training foreign troops if they did not secure a license from the State Department.
Mark C. Toner, a spokesman for the department, would not confirm whether Mr. Prince’s company had obtained such a license, but he said the department was investigating to see if the training effort was in violation of American laws. Mr. Toner pointed out that Blackwater (which renamed itself Xe Services ) paid $42 million in fines last year for training foreign troops in Jordan and other countries over the years.
The U.A.E.’s ambassador to Washington, Yousef al-Otaiba, declined to comment for this article. A spokesman for Mr. Prince also did not comment.
For Mr. Prince, the foreign battalion is a bold attempt at reinvention. He is hoping to build an empire in the desert, far from the trial lawyers, Congressional investigators and Justice Department officials he is convinced worked in league to portray Blackwater as reckless. He sold the company last year, but in April, a federal appeals court reopened the case against four Blackwater guards accused of killing 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad in 2007.
To help fulfill his ambitions, Mr. Prince’s new company, Reflex Responses, obtained another multimillion-dollar contract to protect a string of planned nuclear power plants and to provide cybersecurity. He hopes to earn billions more, the former employees said, by assembling additional battalions of Latin American troops for the Emiratis and opening a giant complex where his company can train troops for other governments.
Knowing that his ventures are magnets for controversy, Mr. Prince has masked his involvement with the mercenary battalion. His name is not included on contracts and most other corporate documents, and company insiders have at times tried to hide his identity by referring to him by the code name “Kingfish.” But three former employees, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of confidentiality agreements, and two people involved in security contracting described Mr. Prince’s central role.
The former employees said that in recruiting the Colombians and others from halfway around the world, Mr. Prince’s subordinates were following his strict rule: hire no Muslims.
Muslim soldiers, Mr. Prince warned, could not be counted on to kill fellow Muslims. [this is the most important sentence in the whole article -- Mr. Prince, from long experience, understands that Muslims cannot "be counted on to kill fellow Muslims" and so, in order to work for Muslim rulers intent on keeping potential Muslim enemies or opponents down, agree fully with the notion that "Muslims could not be counted on to kill fellow Muslims. Is it possible that Sheik Al-Nahyan of Abu Dhabi, and his fellows, know something about Muslims that the American government might at least keep in mind, as it continues to risk the lives of Americans, who are supposed to "trust" Muslims they have been training in Iraq and Afghanistan, and with whom they are supposed to share secrets in Pakistan? ]
A Lucrative Deal
Last spring, as waiters in the lobby of the Park Arjaan by Rotana Hotel passed by carrying cups of Turkish coffee, a small team of Blackwater and American military veterans huddled over plans for the foreign battalion. Armed with a black suitcase stuffed with several hundred thousand dollars’ worth of dirhams, the local currency, they began paying the first bills.
The company, often called R2, was licensed last March with 51 percent local ownership, a typical arrangement in the Emirates. It received about $21 million in start-up capital from the U.A.E., the former employees said.
Mr. Prince made the deal with Sheik Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates. The two men had known each other for several years, and it was the prince’s idea to build a foreign commando force for his country.
Savvy and pro-Western, the prince was educated at the Sandhurst military academy in Britain and formed close ties with American military officials. He is also one of the region’s staunchest hawks on Iran and is skeptical that his giant neighbor across the Strait of Hormuz will give up its nuclear program.
“He sees the logic of war dominating the region, and this thinking explains his near-obsessive efforts to build up his armed forces,” said a November 2009 cable from the American Embassy in Abu Dhabi that was obtained by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.
For Mr. Prince, a 41-year-old former member of the Navy Seals, the battalion was an opportunity to turn vision into reality. At Blackwater, which had collected billions of dollars in security contracts from the United States government, he had hoped to build an army for hire that could be deployed to crisis zones in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. He even had proposed that the Central Intelligence Agency use his company for special operations missions around the globe, but to no avail. In Abu Dhabi, which he praised in an Emirati newspaper interview last year for its “pro-business” climate, he got another chance.
Mr. Prince’s exploits, both real and rumored, are the subject of fevered discussions in the private security world. He has worked with the Emirati government on various ventures in the past year, including an operation using South African mercenaries to train Somalis to fight pirates. There was talk, too, that he was hatching a scheme last year to cap the Icelandic volcano then spewing ash across Northern Europe.
The team in the hotel lobby was led by Ricky Chambers, known as C. T., a former agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation who had worked for Mr. Prince for years; most recently, he had run a program training Afghan troops for a Blackwater subsidiary called Paravant.
He was among the half-dozen or so Americans who would serve as top managers of the project, receiving nearly $300,000 in annual compensation. Mr. Chambers and Mr. Prince soon began quietly luring American contractors from Afghanistan, Iraq and other danger spots with pay packages that topped out at more than $200,000 a year, according to a budget document. Many of those who signed on as trainers — which eventually included more than 40 veteran American, European and South African commandos — did not know of Mr. Prince’s involvement, the former employees said.
Mr. Chambers did not respond to requests for comment.
He and Mr. Prince also began looking for soldiers. They lined up Thor Global Enterprises, a company on the Caribbean island of Tortola specializing in “placing foreign servicemen in private security positions overseas,” according to a contract signed last May. The recruits would be paid about $150 a day.
Within months, large tracts of desert were bulldozed and barracks constructed. The Emirates were to provide weapons and equipment for the mercenary force, supplying everything from M-16 rifles to mortars, Leatherman knives to Land Rovers. They agreed to buy parachutes, motorcycles, rucksacks — and 24,000 pairs of socks.
To keep a low profile, Mr. Prince rarely visited the camp or a cluster of luxury villas near the Abu Dhabi airport, where R2 executives and Emirati military officers fine-tune the training schedules and arrange weapons deliveries for the battalion, former employees said. He would show up, they said, in an office suite at the DAS Tower — a skyscraper just steps from Abu Dhabi’s Corniche beach, where sunbathers lounge as cigarette boats and water scooters whiz by. Staff members there manage a number of companies that the former employees say are carrying out secret work for the Emirati government.
Emirati law prohibits disclosure of incorporation records for businesses, which typically list company officers, but it does require them to post company names on offices and storefronts. Over the past year, the sign outside the suite has changed at least twice — it now says Assurance Management Consulting.
While the documents — including contracts, budget sheets and blueprints — obtained by The Times do not mention Mr. Prince, the former employees said he negotiated the U.A.E. deal. Corporate documents describe the battalion’s possible tasks: intelligence gathering, urban combat, the securing of nuclear and radioactive materials, humanitarian missions and special operations “to destroy enemy personnel and equipment.”
One document describes “crowd-control operations” where the crowd “is not armed with firearms but does pose a risk using improvised weapons (clubs and stones).”
People involved in the project and American officials said that the Emiratis were interested in deploying the battalion to respond to terrorist attacks and put down uprisings inside the country’s sprawling labor camps, which house the Pakistanis, Filipinos and other foreigners who make up the bulk of the country’s work force. The foreign military force was planned months before the so-called Arab Spring revolts that many experts believe are unlikely to spread to the U.A.E. Iran was a particular concern.
An Eye on Iran
Although there was no expectation that the mercenary troops would be used for a stealth attack on Iran, Emirati officials talked of using them for a possible maritime and air assault to reclaim a chain of islands, mostly uninhabited, in the Persian Gulf that are the subject of a dispute between Iran and the U.A.E., the former employees said. Iran has sent military forces to at least one of the islands, Abu Musa, and Emirati officials have long been eager to retake the islands and tap their potential oil reserves.
The Emirates have a small military that includes army, air force and naval units as well as a small special operations contingent, which served in Afghanistan, but over all, their forces are considered inexperienced.
In recent years, the Emirati government has showered American defense companies with billions of dollars to help strengthen the country’s security. A company run by Richard A. Clarke, a former counterterrorism adviser during the Clinton and Bush administrations, has won several lucrative contracts to advise the U.A.E. on how to protect its infrastructure.
Some security consultants believe that Mr. Prince’s efforts to bolster the Emirates’ defenses against an Iranian threat might yield some benefits for the American government, which shares the U.A.E.’s concern about creeping Iranian influence in the region.
“As much as Erik Prince is a pariah in the United States, he may be just what the doctor ordered in the U.A.E.,” said an American security consultant with knowledge of R2’s work.
The contract includes a one-paragraph legal and ethics policy noting that R2 should institute accountability and disciplinary procedures. “The overall goal,” the contract states, “is to ensure that the team members supporting this effort continuously cast the program in a professional and moral light that will hold up to a level of media scrutiny.”
But former employees said that R2’s leaders never directly grappled with some fundamental questions about the operation. International laws governing private armies and mercenaries are murky, but would the Americans overseeing the training of a foreign army on foreign soil be breaking United States law?
Susan Kovarovics, an international trade lawyer who advises companies about export controls, said that because Reflex Responses was an Emirati company it might not need State Department authorization for its activities.
But she said that any Americans working on the project might run legal risks if they did not get government approval to participate in training the foreign troops.
Basic operational issues, too, were not addressed, the former employees said. What were the battalion’s rules of engagement? What if civilians were killed during an operation? And could a Latin American commando force deployed in the Middle East really be kept a secret?
The first waves of mercenaries began arriving last summer. Among them was a 13-year veteran of Colombia’s National Police force named Calixto Rincón, 42, who joined the operation with hopes of providing for his family and seeing a new part of the world.
“We were practically an army for the Emirates,” Mr. Rincón, now back in Bogotá, Colombia, said in an interview. “They wanted people who had a lot of experience in countries with conflicts, like Colombia.”
Mr. Rincón’s visa carried a special stamp from the U.A.E. military intelligence branch, which is overseeing the entire project, that allowed him to move through customs and immigration without being questioned.
He soon found himself in the midst of the camp’s daily routines, which mirrored those of American military training. “We would get up at 5 a.m. and we would start physical exercises,” Mr. Rincón said. His assignment included manual labor at the expanding complex, he said. Other former employees said the troops — outfitted in Emirati military uniforms — were split into companies to work on basic infantry maneuvers, learn navigation skills and practice sniper training.
R2 spends roughly $9 million per month maintaining the battalion, which includes expenditures for employee salaries, ammunition and wages for dozens of domestic workers who cook meals, wash clothes and clean the camp, a former employee said. Mr. Rincón said that he and his companions never wanted for anything, and that their American leaders even arranged to have a chef travel from Colombia to make traditional soups.
But the secrecy of the project has sometimes created a prisonlike environment. “We didn’t have permission to even look through the door,” Mr. Rincón said. “We were only allowed outside for our morning jog, and all we could see was sand everywhere.”
The Emirates wanted the troops to be ready to deploy just weeks after stepping off the plane, but it quickly became clear that the Colombians’ military skills fell far below expectations. “Some of these kids couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn,” said a former employee. Other recruits admitted to never having fired a weapon.
As a result, the veteran American and foreign commandos training the battalion have had to rethink their roles. They had planned to act only as “advisers” during missions — meaning they would not fire weapons — but over time, they realized that they would have to fight side by side with their troops, former officials said.
Making matters worse, the recruitment pipeline began drying up. Former employees said that Thor struggled to sign up, and keep, enough men on the ground. Mr. Rincón developed a hernia and was forced to return to Colombia, while others were dismissed from the program for drug use or poor conduct.
And R2’s own corporate leadership has also been in flux. Mr. Chambers, who helped develop the project, left after several months. A handful of other top executives, some of them former Blackwater employees, have been hired, then fired within weeks.
To bolster the force, R2 recruited a platoon of South African mercenaries, including some veterans of Executive Outcomes, a South African company notorious for staging coup attempts or suppressing rebellions against African strongmen in the 1990s. The platoon was to function as a quick-reaction force, American officials and former employees said, and began training for a practice mission: a terrorist attack on the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai, the world’s tallest building. They would secure the situation before quietly handing over control to Emirati troops.
But by last November, the battalion was officially behind schedule. The original goal was for the 800-man force to be ready by March 31; recently, former employees said, the battalion’s size was reduced to about 580 men.
Emirati military officials had promised that if this first battalion was a success, they would pay for an entire brigade of several thousand men. The new contracts would be worth billions, and would help with Mr. Prince’s next big project: a desert training complex for foreign troops patterned after Blackwater’s compound in Moyock, N.C. But before moving ahead, U.A.E. military officials have insisted that the battalion prove itself in a “real world mission.”
That has yet to happen. So far, the Latin American troops have been taken off the base only to shop and for occasional entertainment.
On a recent spring night though, after months stationed in the desert, they boarded an unmarked bus and were driven to hotels in central Dubai, a former employee said. There, some R2 executives had arranged for them to spend the evening with prostitutes.
In Tunisia, The Ennahda Party Threatens The Secularist Dispensation
From The New York Times:
May 15, 2011
Tunisia Is Uneasy Over Party of Islamists
By SCOTT SAYARE
TUNIS — Accused as subversives or terrorists, they bore the repressive brunt of the Tunisian dictator’s reign — two decades of torture, prison or exile.
But since the dictator, President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, fled in January, the Islamists of the once-banned Ennahda Party have emerged from obscurity, returned from abroad and established themselves as perhaps the most powerful political force in post-revolution Tunisia.
Despite repeated assurances of their tolerance and moderation, their rise has touched off frenzied rumors of attacks on unveiled women and artists, of bars and brothels sacked by party goons, of plots to turn the country into a caliphate. With crucial elections scheduled for July 24, Ennahda’s popularity and organizational strength are of growing concern to many activists and politicians, who worry that the secular revolution in this moderate state — the revolt that galvanized the Arab Spring — might see the birth of a conservative Islamic government.
And just as the protests in Tunis heralded the revolt in Cairo, analysts are looking to Tunisia as a bellwether for the more broadly influential developments to come in Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood enjoys similar advantages and has stirred similar misgivings.
“How do you want us to go up against Ennahda?” asked an exasperated strategist for the Republican Alliance, a secular party. “They’re prepared to do anything.”
With years of organizational experience, a vast membership and decades of credibility as a sworn enemy of Mr. Ben Ali, Ennahda has proved to be better-equipped than any other party — most have existed only for a matter of weeks — to step into the political void. The Republican Alliance strategist called for the elections to be delayed.
“July 24 is a favor to Ennahda,” he said, requesting anonymity for fear of attacks by the party’s supporters. “It’s suicide.”
With Ennahda in power, he said, “It would be Iran.”
The party says such fears are unfounded. “We aspire to a free, open, moderate society, where each citizen will have the same rights,” said Abdallah Zouari, a member of Ennahda’s executive committee and a party spokesman, adding that the party called for equal rights for men and women, Muslims and non-Muslims. [at this point in your own understanding, of Islam, of taqiyya and kitman, of what Islam inculcates, and therefore what those who take Islam most to heart of course must work for, what do you make of that statement? Would you have taken it as heartfelt ten years ago? Do you take it as heartfelt now? ]
“We are not in agreement with the secularists who want to force others to be secular,” he said, “the same way we are against the Salafists who want to force others to be Muslim.”
He spoke with a visitor at a modest new party branch on the third floor of a shabby Tunis office building, the rooms still echoing and empty but for some tables and chairs, the white walls dirty and scuffed.
Mr. Zouari — who bears the dark callus on his forehead caused by frequent bowed prayer, common among the devout — was himself imprisoned for more than a decade as a party member.
“The religious sentiment of the Tunisian people is so deep that certain people cannot understand,” he said.
Polling suggests that Ennahda — the renaissance, in Arabic — enjoys broader support than any of the country’s other 60-odd authorized political parties. The party’s weekly newspaper, The Dawn, resumed publication in April after a 20-year hiatus and now sells about 70,000 copies per week, party officials say.
The July vote will create an assembly assigned the task of rewriting the Constitution. In anticipation of the elections, the party has opened dozens of local offices, and imams are said to be promoting Ennahda in mosques across the country.
But mistrust of the party remains widespread. “They’re doing doublespeak, and everyone knows it,” said Ibrahim Letaief, a radio host at Mosaique FM, a popular station where he offers withering criticism of the Islamists. Ennahda, he said, has only tempered its rhetoric in a bid to win votes, but in power would impose strict Islamic law.
It is a common refrain here, despite having first been popularized by the reviled Mr. Ben Ali. Opponents have made similar claims, anti-Ennahda Facebook groups have drawn tens of thousands of supporters, and protesters have denounced the party throughout Tunisia. Some of the fear seems to stem from uncertainty about who, exactly, will lead the party; the group’s longtime leader, Rachid Ghannouchi, has said he will not seek office.
A democratic Tunisia depends on the banning of Ennahda, Mr. Letaief said, though he acknowledged, “I’m not going to seem democratic, here.” Still, he said, “Islam is very much anchored in society.”
The first article of the now-suspended Tunisian Constitution decreed Islam the national faith, and 98 percent of the country’s 10.6 million inhabitants are Muslim. Public schools dispense religious instruction. Yet religious leaders have never played a role in government.
Habib Bourguiba, the father of Tunisian independence and the country’s first president, was a staunch secularist who banned polygamy, legalized abortion and once sipped orange juice on television during the Ramadan fast in an affront to the faithful.
Ennahda has pledged to maintain Mr. Bourguiba’s social reforms, and voted in favor of a rule requiring equal numbers of men and women on electoral lists in July. Party leaders compare Ennahda to Turkey’s tolerant Islamic ruling party. Other Tunisian Islamist groups have rejected Ennahda as being too secular, and many analysts consider the party to be distinctly moderate.
Still, Ennahda worries that many Tunisians have renounced an “Arab-Muslim identity,” said Mr. Zouari, the party leader, noting that high school math and science are often taught in French, not Arabic.Ennahda would not force women to veil themselves, Mr. Zouari said, nor would it immediately seek to ban alcohol, which Islam forbids. not "immediately" seek -- but seek it would. He admitted that a ban might be a goal in years to come. Asked about widespread accusations that Ennahda supporters had attacked unveiled women, he replied hotly: “When? Where? What names?”
Ennahda is strong in the impoverished interior, a reflection of the cultural gulf between the “very Westernized elite” in Tunis and other coastal cities — many of whom lived well under Mr. Ben Ali — and much of the rest of the country, said Kader Abderrahim, a researcher at the Institute of International and Strategic Relations in Paris.
“The question,” Mr. Abderrahim said, is whether the elite “are ready to accept that there is a part of the population that lives in a different way, and that has other convictions.” Political stability “will not happen without the Islamists,” he said.
Nour Ayari, 19, said she would back Ennahda in the elections. Ms. Ayari, who sells traditional silver marriage boxes from her family’s stall at the Blaghjia souk in Tunis, wore a diaphanous white hijab, a veil banned under Mr. Ben Ali but legalized since his departure. Women may now also appear veiled in official identification photographs, she noted.
“It’s thanks to this party,” she said, referring to Ennahda.
She dismissed concerns that the party might be cloaking fundamentalist intentions behind a moderate front. “Why would they change their tune afterward?” she asked. Ennahda’s opponents, she said, still have a “reflex of fear” instilled under Mr. Ben Ali.
Mr. Abderrahim, the researcher, called it “paranoia.” [what do you think? Do you think the Tunisian secularists, with their long familiarity with those who take Islam most to heart, are exhibiting "paranoia"? Or have you come to realize the full extent of the deception, the ruthlessness, the will to power, of those who take Islam to heart and are determined to create polities in which everyone else must do so too?]
Street cleaners arrested over an alleged plot to kill the Pope were said to have been overheard threatening to kill a Christian for every page of the Koran, it has emerged.
A report on the incident has said that although all six men were later released without charge, police were justified in making the arrests after receiving a call at 4.30pm on September 16, the day before the Pope was due to arrive in London.
The caller reported that five men were looking at a picture in the Metro newspaper of the Pope’s motor vehicle and talking about a recent incident where the Koran was allegedly burned. They were overheard saying that a “Christian should be killed for every page that was damaged” according to the report by David Anderson QC, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation.
“The view was expressed that whilst the Pope’s vehicle was protected, it could be stopped and that even if he survived, those around him would die,” Mr Anderson said. “Comments were made to the effect that it would be wonderful if the Pope was killed and that there were virgins waiting for them.”
The source also told police that the men could all be working on the day of the Pope’s visit to London and the depot had recently taken delivery of new uniforms, ten of which had been stolen.
The men were all of Algerian origin and living and working in Britain legally apart from one man who was Sudanese and admitted that his asylum application had been turned down and he had assumed a false identity in order to obtain work.
Glenn Beck Announces "Restore Courage" Rally in Jerusalem
Perhaps timely, perhaps a finale for Glenn Beck; one thing for sure, he has been a valued friend and defender of the State of Israel. Today, he announced a "Restoring Courage" Rally in Jerusalem this August. The details are to be announced this Friday on his program. He has put $100,000 of his own money behind this effort. Both he and his staff flew with him to Israel last week for preliminary planning meetings. As he explains in his announcement -see below- he is rigthfully concerned about the liberal feckless meme of a "Just Peace" based on a so-called two state solution. This Orwellian construct portends the destruction of the Jewish State of Israel via division of Jerusalem along the so-called Auschwitz line - the pre-1967 June Six Days of War armistice line. Thus placing the Old City with revered Christian and Jewish holy places under Jihadi control, dominated by the al Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount.
Beck noted this argument in his announcement:
"Things in Israel are going to get bad…it's only a matter of time. They are going to attack the center of our faith, our common faith, and that is Jerusalem. And it won't be with bullets or bombs. It will be with a two-state solution that cuts off Jerusalem, the old city, to the rest of the world. It is time to return inside the walls that surround Jerusalem and stand with people of all faiths all around the world."
Beck may have chosen this moment for a few compelling reasons. Yesterday's coincidental al Nakbah ('the catasrophe" day marking the founding of the State of Israel on May 15, 1948) assaults orchestrated by Syria and Hamas with Iranian backing on Israel's borders with Lebanon, Syria, East Jerusalem Muslim neighborhoods and the Gaza crossings. Assaults that left 12 attempted border crossers dead and many injured. Israel's ambassador to the UN, Meron Rueben has lodged a compliant with UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon about these violent armistice violations of its borders.
As you will hear and see in his You tube video announcement he hearkens to that iconic figure of faith, German Lutheran pastor and theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer who opposed the Hitlerian nightmare, was imprisoned for his resistance only to be hung by the SS within days of liberation at the end of WWII.
Beck believes in one of Bonhoeffer's principles that "Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility."
Beck noted in his announcement that Bonhoeffer only had six fellow Germans who responded to his call of resistance against the Nazis who murdered in unspeakable ways six million European Jewish men, women and children. Clearly, Beck hopes that this latest project will energize many more than that, despite the time and cost involved to attend the "Restore Courage" rally in Jerusalem this August.
Beck may be leaving the Fox News Channel, for his own or for reasons known only to the cable TV NewsCorp owners- the Murdoch family and Saudi Prince Alaweed bin Talal. Or perhaps it was the 400 liberal progressive rabbis who sent a letter protesting Beck's depicting George Soros as a self-hating Jew, who abetted Hungarian fascist expropriation of Jewish properties in Nazi-occupied Hungary as a teenager during the Shoah. Nonetheless, Beck has a following that responds to his clarion calls as witnessed by his August 2010 "Restoring Honor" Rally in Washington that drew hundreds of thousands.
This Beck project resonates with this writer and tens of millions of Americans who are unalloyed supporters of the democratic Jewish State of Israel. Beck's announcement comes just prior to the arrival of Israel's PM Benyamin Netanyhau in Washington this Friday for meetings with President Obama, a speech next Monday night at the annual AIPAC Policy Conference and culminating in a speech before a joint session of Congress next Tuesday. We hope Beck's "Restore Courage" Rally in israel will draw attention to the looming threat of what we called in an April 2010 NER article, "The Czechoslovakization of Israel by Obama".
Watch the Glenn Beck You tube video of his announcement of the Jerusalem Restore Courage Rally.
Shlomo Avineri Knows The "Arab Spring" Will Fail, But Does Not Say Why
The future of the Arab uprisings is looking grim
In Egypt it appears that democracy may not be ensuing yet in the post-Mubarak era; it is obvious that even if the dictatorships in Libya and Yemen are overthrown, it is not reasonable that we will see a stable democracy established in their stead.
Four months after the start of upheavals in the Arab world it is possible to do an interim evaluation, and it is far from encouraging. In two countries, Tunisia and Egypt, tyrannical rulers were overthrown, but even there the process of democratization is far from guaranteed. In Syria the Alawite dictatorship of the Assad regime has, for the time being, managed to survive, and it has no problem shooting demonstrators and killing them, sending tanks to subdue city after city. In Libya the rebels are unable to overcome Gadhafi, despite the NATO air strikes. In Yemen the situation is far from clear, but the local strongman remains in power. In Bahrain the minority Sunni-ruled regime continues to oppress the Shi'ite majority, with the support of the Saudi military; the latest development there is the arrest of doctors and nurses who treated injured protesters.
This is not an Arab version of the revolutions in eastern Europe in 1989. What has happened to date is that only relatively moderate regimes, like those of Hosni Mubarak and Tunisia's Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, fell, while Arab regimes lacking any moral or political qualms about murdering their own people, are holding on. Tahrir Square may have become a symbol, but to a great extent it is a hollow symbol. In the words of the poet, the sun rose and the butcher kept on killing.
For now, control in Egypt is in the hands of a military sect that has essentially ruled the country since 1952. In Egypt there is no figure of a reformer from above, like Mikhail Gorbachev or revolutionaries and dissidents like Lech Walesa or Vaclav Havel. The demonstrators on Facebook and Twitter are no alternative for the many years of work (and risks ) of a group of dissidents like that of Solidarity in Poland or Charter 77 in Czechoslovakia.
Amr Moussa, who apparently has an excellent chance of being elected president (if elections are actually held ) is not exactly a dissident who dedicated his life to opposing the Mubarak regime: he is an apparatchik of the old regime with an anti-Western Nasserist ideological outlook. In matters of democracy, social justice or equality he has never expressed his views, and if he is elected, it will be through the support of the Muslim Brotherhood and/or the ruling military sect. The pogroms targeting the Copts last week suggest that the Muslim-Christian brotherhood that was evident during the demonstrations failed to overcome the old religious hostilities. The danger of anarchy is also on the horizon. Not exactly the dawn of a new day.
The excitement in the West, and in Israel too, at the sight of the mass demonstrations led by educated, courageous youth is understandable: there has never been something like this in the Arab world, which has known military revolutions and populist dictatorships but never popular uprisings to overthrow tyrants. However, it turns out that without a strong infrastructure of civil society, demonstrations are no alternative to the establishment of institutions, which is essential for the consolidation of democracy. The vengeance being directed against the Mubarak family and its close associates is a cheap populist alternative to democracy.
And if this is the case in Egypt it is obvious that even if the dictatorships in Libya and Yemen are overthrown, it is not reasonable that we will see a stable democracy established in their stead. The lessons of eastern Europe show that in the absence of a tradition of civil society and pluralism, the old despotism may be replaced by another form of authoritarian regime, as has happened in Russia and Ukraine, not to mention the Central Asian republics.
The person who actually realized this is U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Following a frustrating meeting with some of the activists of Tahrir Square several weeks ago she said that sometimes it turns out that those who begin the revolution are not always those who in the end climb to power. Even if more regimes collapse the path to democracy in the Arab world is still a bumpy one.
He can't see, or will not allow himself to say, that Islam explains the many failures -- including political failures of Arab states and societies. He can't allow himself to see, or can't say, that in the advanced Western democracies, political legitimacy is located in the will expressed by the people through the representatives they elect and that in Islam, political legitimacy of any government depends on whether it expressesnot the will of the people but, rather, the will of Allah, as set down in the Qur'an and glossed by Muhammad's words and deeds as recorded in the most authoritative Hadith.
These are some of the things Shlomo Avineri, and almost everyone else, can't say.
California Methodist Theology School Gets $50 Million for Questionable Interfaith Training of Clergy
The Claremont School of Theology, a leading Methodist seminary announced a new $40 million grant from David and Joan Lincoln to add to the $10 million one made last year. This brings the total funding by the generous Lincolns to $50 million to provide interfaith training for Christian, Jewish and Muslim clergy. Sounds like another of those misguided Abrahamic religions initiatives providing a platform for pure Muslim doctrinal taqiyyah about peace and tolerance. The Muslim leader in this new program has the oxymoronic name of Jihad Turk.
The philanthropic Lincolns are an Arizona couple; scions of the fabled Lincoln Electric fortune established in Cleveland, Ohio in the early 1900’s, initially as electric motors manufacturer, that developed into the world leader in arc and robotic electric welding technologies, training and manufacturing.
According to a report in The Los Angeles, Jewish Journal, the new program changes the name of the theological seminary to the Claremont-Lincoln University aims to expand the interfaith Abrahamic religions doctrine by training Christian, Jewish and Muslim clergy. The article notes:
The Claremont School of Theology, a Christian divinity school in Los Angeles, will use a $40 million gift to begin training Jewish and Muslim clergy.
The gift from David and Joan Lincoln of Arizona, which was announced Monday, will help Claremont transform itself into a multi-faith institution offering interfaith degree programs as well as training for rabbis, imams and ministers, The Los Angeles Times reported.
The Claremont Lincoln University, as the new school will be called, will be the first U.S. school to offer clerical degrees in all three religions, according to Tamar Frankiel, dean of academic affairs for the Academy for Jewish Religion in Los Angeles. The academy, which is not affiliated with a particular Jewish stream, will provide the Jewish clerical training.
The academy has 60 students enrolled in its rabbinic, cantorial and chaplaincy programs. It plans to institute distance learning as early as this fall to help students not located in Los Angeles, Frankiel told JTA.
The Islamic Center of Southern California will train the Muslim clerics. The Claremont School of Theology, which has about 240 students enrolled in master’s and doctorate programs in religion and counseling, and is affiliated with the United Methodist Church, will continue to educate Christian ministers.
All three institutions will remain in their existing locations, with degree programs and courses coordinated through the new university.
The Los Angeles Times reported that a plan announced last year to train clergy for all three faiths in one college upset the United Methodist Church, which has funded the seminary since its creation. The three-part structure for the new university was developed so that only the Christian program will receive church monies.
Claremont officials are hailing the interfaith initiative as unique.
Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Conn., a nondenominational theological institution founded as a training school for Congregationalist ministers, also offers a degree program in Islamic chaplaincy, as well as a graduate certificate in education for imams, a school spokesman told JTA. But it does not train imams or rabbis.
Neither that spokesman nor Frankiel were aware of other similar programs in the United States.
The Academy for Jewish religion is a self-styled non-denominational and pluralistic training institution, clearly not affiliated with any of the leading Jewish seminaries, whether Orthodox, Conservative, Reform or Reconstructionist.
U.S. Muslims are struggling mightily these days to win over a wary public. In Los Angeles, part of that task falls to the 38-year-old Turk, director of religious affairs at the Islamic Center of Southern California, one of the region's most influential mosques.
Earnest and doggedly optimistic, Turk is an unflappable ambassador for an often embattled faith -- a man whose American upbringing gives him a foothold in two sometimes colliding worlds.
The son of an American Methodist mother and a Palestinian Muslim father, Turk was elected homecoming king at his Phoenix high school and took some time off from college to explore his Islamic roots in Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Now, as an emerging leader in local Muslim circles, he spends much of his time patiently trying to spread his message about Islam's peaceful intentions, the importance of tolerance and the ancient thread shared by three monotheistic religions.
Some who encounter Turk commend him for breaking down walls of suspicion. Others doubt that he represents mainstream Muslim belief.
We seriously doubt that the new programs at the proposed Claremont-Lincoln University will train rabbis, although student rabbis from the Los Angeles Reform and Conservative seminaries might take courses there. However, they and any Christian ministers who attend courses at the new program will be exposed to pure taqiyyah that dissembling Muslims like Turk are capable of dishing out. But then liberal Protestantism has diverged far from its Christian Zionist roots. Witness the lawsuit brought by David Hallum a Methodist Preacher and former Labor MP in the U.K. against the British Methodist church for using charitable contributions to support Boycott, Divestment and Sanction initiatives against the Jewish State of Israel.