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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:
by Theodore Dalrymple
Jihad and Genocide
by Richard L. Rubenstein
Spanish Vignettes: An Offbeat Look Into Spain's Culture, Society & History
by Norman Berdichevsky



















These are all the Blogs posted on Wednesday, 16, 2010.
Wednesday, 16 June 2010
Andrew C. McCarthy on Wartime Reading — and Leading

Kathryn Lopez interviews Andrew McCarthy on his new book, The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America in two parts - here and here.

Posted on 06/16/2010 6:33 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Wednesday, 16 June 2010
A No-Laughing-Matter Interlude (Hamas)

Watch, and listen, here.

Posted on 06/16/2010 6:38 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 16 June 2010
Bawer: I’ve Become an Enemy of the People for Speaking the Truth About Islam

Bruce Bawer writes at Pajamas Media:

When it comes to the right to speak one’s mind about Islam, the record of the last few years makes it clear which direction the West is moving in. In France and Italy, Oriana Fallaci is put on trial for disparaging Islam. In Canada, Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant are hauled before “human rights commission” tribunals for criticizing Islam in print. In Australia, an Islamic organization sues two pastors for “vilification of Muslims.” In Britain, a Daily Telegraph columnist is arrested on charges of hate speech for having written negatively about Islam, and the Archbishop of Canterbury proposes that Parliament pass stronger laws against such speech acts.  And in the Netherlands, Geert Wilders, the head of the Freedom Party, which performed so well in the June 9 general elections that Wilders may end up in the governing coalition, still faces trial for having made a film about the Koranic foundations of terrorism.

Then there’s Norway, where I live, and where the last few days have seen yet another dark development. By way of background, permit me to begin by quoting myself.  On pages 230-31 of my book Surrender: Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom I sum up the more alarming aspects of Norway’s Discrimination Law, passed in 2005:

It forbids “harassment on the grounds of ethnicity, national origin, ancestry, skin color, language, religion, or beliefs,” and, in turn, defines harassment as “actions, omissions, or utterances [my emphasis] that have the effect or are intended to have the effect of being insulting, intimidating, hostile, degrading, or humiliating.”

In other words, it’s illegal just to say certain things.

Continue readng here.

Posted on 06/16/2010 6:44 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Wednesday, 16 June 2010
A Musical Interlude: It's All Forgotten Now (Al Bowlly)

Listen here.

Posted on 06/16/2010 6:50 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 16 June 2010
J. R. Dunn On Helen Thomas And Antisemitism As A Crime And A Harbinger

From  American Thinker

June 15, 2010

Dodging the Anti-Semitism Bullet

By J.R. Dunn

The announcement that Helen Thomas has been sent to journalistic Valhalla is good news on several levels. Not only because it at last removes an erratic, out-of-control figure who has represented a political and social embarrassment for decades, but also because it signals that America has once again dodged the anti-Semitism bullet.

A country that accepts anti-Semitism is a country on its way to destruction. The historical record could not be clearer on this. Late 19th-century Germany was one of the leading states of the Western world, the heir of Beethoven and Goethe, a standard-setter for the sciences, the humanities, and education, a pioneer in social welfare and industrial-labor relations, with a vast influence across Europe and as far as the United States, Argentina, and Japan.

Less than half a century later, Germany was a ruin, a bombed-out wasteland split into several zones occupied by its enemies, its populace scrabbling for a living in the remains of its flattened cities. The obsessive anti-Semitism of its leadership played no small role in this outcome.

France, like Germany, was a world-class cultural center -- not only a leading military and scientific power, but the second-largest imperial state. But even as the century turned, France became embroiled in a controversy over a junior army officer, Alfred Dreyfus -- officious, stiff, and wildly patriotic -- who was accused of espionage on extremely dubious evidence. The country split into two factions, one insisting that Dreyfus must be guilty almost solely due to the fact that he was Jewish, the other working to reopen the investigation under some form of public oversight. Even after it was proven that Dreyfus had been framed, the controversy continued for decades, the split widening and deepening, with anti-Semitism becoming a badge of honor for certain ultramontane, ultranationalist elements. At last, in 1940, France collapsed under German attack, surrendering after only five weeks (the same duration as the far less powerful Poland), submitting meekly to a four-year occupation in which the mass of the country disgraced itself through collaboration, cooperation, and abject criminality. Here, too, anti-Semitism among the nation's leadership played a large role.

Countries subject to chronic anti-Semitism, such as Russia and the majority of the modern Arab states, never amount to much, remaining the jackal nations of civilization, lurking on the outskirts, awaiting an opportunity to tear something off. Anti-Semitism is an evil symptom, a sign that a nation has gone off the rails and is headed for the abyss. The reasons lie not only in the denial of the cumulative wisdom and capability of the oldest people still extant (when was the last time you spoke to a Sumerian?), but as evidence that things have gone wrong in a number of ways on extremely deep levels, that a nation and people have deliberately turned from the civilized virtues to embrace the foulest aspects of the human character.

The United States has never been an anti-Semitic nation. Since George Washington first welcomed the Jewish congregation of Newport's Kahal Kadosh Yeshuat Israel synagogue in 1790, Jews have thrived in America, gaining at the very least tolerance and often open acceptance. American anti-Jewish feeling, obnoxious as it may have been, never attained the viciousness of the European variety. Even the most reactionary American regime, the Confederacy, featured a prominent Jewish presence in Judah P. Benjamin, who served both as secretary of war and secretary of state. Only two anti-Jewish lynchings have occurred in this country: the Leo Frank case of 1915, in which an innocent man was railroaded to cover up a particularly repellent murder, and the Yankel Rosenbaum murder, in which a Jewish bystander was killed by a black mob following a fatal accident in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

So it is particularly disturbing to see signs of anti-Semitism beginning to emerge. Under the rubric of "anti-Zionism," anti-Semitism has made a dramatic resurgence in Europe. Hatred of Jews in the new European Reich is not only accepted, but it has also become hip. Intellectuals, officials, and media figures have adapted the most repellent myths in a new guise.

In late 2001, Daniel Bernard, French ambassador to the U.K., dismissed Israel as "a shitty little country." Mary Robinson, the former Irish president and a leading contemporary anti-Semite, recently complained of being "bullied" by "certain elements of the Jewish community." A recent work by the leading British playwright, Caryl Churchill's "Seven Jewish Children," consists of a series of scenes dealing with Jewish life over the past century, beginning with the Holocaust and ending with the recent Gaza raid, in which the roles are gradually reversed, with Jews transformed from victims to Nazi-like persecutors. "I wouldn't care if we wiped them out ... tell her we're better haters, tell her we're chosen people, tell her I look at one of their children covered in blood and what do I feel? Tell her all I feel is happy it's not her." We need only mention the names John Pilger and Robert Fisk.         

Echoes of this attitude have arisen in the U.S. as well. Anti-Semitic behavior and remarks from black "spokesmen" such as Louis Farrakhan, Al Sharpton, and Jesse Jackson have long been tolerated as the kind of black thing the rest of us can't understand. But in recent years, the bias has become more general. Scholars such as John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt and diplomats such as Charles Freeman have sounded the alarm against the Elders of Zion...excuse me, the Israel Lobby. In 2008, Oliphant published a cartoon attacking the Israeli Gaza campaign which featured a headless figure using a stylized, shark-toothed Mogen David to assault a mother and child, presumably Palestinian. This drawing could act as a text to illustrate the millennial form of anti-Semitism, featuring as it does almost every current motif -- dehumanization, atrocity, aggression, and a Nazi reference (the gigantic figure is goose-stepping).

Last year Danny Glover, Eve Ensler, and...did I read that right? Jane Fonda? boycotted the Toronto Film Festival, not because of the baby seals or prejudice against the First Nations, but because its program honored the hundred-year anniversary of the city of Tel Aviv. These noted humanists asserted that the city had been built on the "suffering of thousands of former residents and descendants." A strange claim -- in the general sense, all cities bear this weight to some extent or another, and if extended on behalf of the Palestinians, it's difficult to discern what the statement actually refers to.

Finally we have the tone of the Obama administration, most clearly revealed by the studied insult to Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu, who was forced to wait while America's elected president ate with his family. It would be difficult find an act by a previous president to match this for sheer coarseness. Equally disturbing was the reaction of the press -- or rather, the lack of reaction; the incident was merely reported by Oliphant's colleagues with no comment, as if it reflected the proper method of dealing with a Jewish head of state.    

Is the United States in danger of following Europe down the slope of mass, institutionalized anti-Semitism on the 20th-century model? To answer that question, we need to examine how anti-Semitism enters societies.

It is often taken for granted that anti-Semitism has always existed underground, a survival of medievalism that bursts forth when the correct stimulus appears. But in fact, anti-Semitism is a new development, distinct from customary anti-Jewish feelings. The modern variant is a social mutation, a vicious product of the Age of Reason, established on a pseudo-scientific basis utilizing seriously distorted concepts derived from Darwinism and early anthropological theories. Anti-Semitism was formulated by the educated classes; it required introduction and cultivation where the rest of society was concerned. 

Germany can serve as an illustration. Anti-Semitism began to enter German society in force thanks to composer Richard Wagner. The tendency clearly exists in Wagner's operas, though usually camouflaged by caricature and metaphor. But in Wagner's artistic writings, anti-Semitism is blatant and unhidden. "Das Judenthum in der Musik" (Judaism in Music), first published in 1850, stated that Judaism was a foul religion, that Jewish artists were worms feeding on European culture, and that Jews were hostile, alien misfits, all motifs that later became standard among anti-Semites, and the Nazis in particular.

The essay was a bitter swipe by the not-yet-successful Wagner against Felix Mendelssohn and Giacomo Meyerbeer, who happened to be Jewish, and perhaps understandable as the type of gesture made by young figures that are later viewed with regret. But twenty years afterward, Wagner published a thoroughly revised version which was if anything worse than the original, with the invective reiterated and redoubled. "Judaism," Wagner insisted, "is the evil conscience of our modern civilisation."

By this time, Wagner had become the 19th-century equivalent of a rock star, his every word and action noted, discussed, and emulated. When Wagner gave anti-Semitism his imprimatur in further essays such as "Deutsche Kunst und Deutsche Politik" (German Art and German Politics) and "Oper und Drama" (Opera and Drama), it became acceptable to a large swath of German society. Wagner's influence prevailed even after his death. His widow, Cosima, became queen and custodian of an anti-Semitic Wagner cult centered on the Bayreuth circle, which eventually included anti-Semitic theorist Houston Stewart Chamberlain -- who married Wagner's daughter -- and the man who may well have been Wagner's biggest fan, Adolf Hitler.

Through the work of a compulsive and massively talented mythographer, anti-Semitism attained a place at the center of German history and culture, eventually almost becoming a part of the national character, so far as to deform the country's history for a century to come.

Anti-Semitism trickles down from the elites. This is why the rebuke to Helen Thomas comes as such a relief. Little was said in response to the transgressions of Fonda, Glover, or Oliphant; they pretty much got away with it. But the Thomas ouster demonstrates that a definite threshold of shame still exists, that such types can go so far and no farther.

The late-modern world does not really possess figures like Wagner, who are popular, artistic, and intellectual leaders at the same time. (Confirmation of this can be found by looking at some of the glitterati's intellectual ruminations on Huffington Post.) The individuals who have adapted the millennial variant of anti-Semitism are second-rank or over the hill, not figures of a stature to create a vast following or exercise enormous influence.

The danger is that a truly outsized individual may arise who reprises the role of Wagner in American form, a kind of anti-Bono who instead of preaching good works indulges in the oldest hatred. We can be certain he would receive an enthusiastic welcome from certain quarters. We must assure that it does not extend to America as a whole.

J.R. Dunn is consulting editor of American Thinker and editor of the forthcoming Military Thinker.
Posted on 06/16/2010 9:07 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 16 June 2010
Hizb ut-Tahrir's Conference in Chicago

Madeleine Gruen writes in the Huffington Post (with thanks to Alan):

The radical Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir America (HTA) will host a conference in Chicago on July 11 to hype the virtues of an Islamic state ruled according to the strictest interpretation of Islamic law. The group launched an online social media campaign to promote the event; one that serves as a prime example of how extremists are able to expose the mainstream to their ideology.
2010-06-14-HTA2010conferenceflier.jpg
HTA hosted a similar conference outside of Chicago last year, which drew about 500 participants. This year, the campaign to promote the conference is more comprehensive, and the group expects many more participants as a result; it has booked an 11,000-square-foot ballroom at the Chicago Marriott Oak Brook that can accommodate more than one thousand.

HTA is part of a worldwide organization, Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT), which works towards the establishment of an Islamic state (Khalifah) in a Muslim country. Once a government and a military have been installed, it intends to spread Islam to the rest of the world. HT condones violence against Western troops in Muslim countries and advocates the eradication of Israel, but has so far maintained a non-violent approach to its objectives.

9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is a former HT adherent. He, like others, joined a militant organization after becoming impatient with HT's softer methods, which is why some observers have labeled HT "a conveyor belt to terrorism."

A component of HTA's strategy is to instill a sense of alienation among American Muslims so that they will turn away from their country and instead identify themselves as members of the Ummah (worldwide Muslim community). HTA tells Muslims not to vote or to embrace the culture of the "unbelievers." However, HTA will indulge in socializing online in order to generate support.

2010 Propaganda Campaign

Social media is more popular than ever. The web is no longer simply a series of static billboards for celebrities and corporations that do not allow for two-way interaction. Social media lets users generate content, creating a sense of propriety. Facebook and Twitter provide instant satisfaction derived from the approval of peers in response to the sharing of ideas and experiences. Peer endorsements are an effective element of political propaganda and marketing campaigns.

On June 5, HTA launched its campaign to publicize the "Emerging World Order" conference with a video for YouTube. The video promises the "dawn of a new era" with "Khilafah on the horizon." An intense musical score accompanies the graphics. Likely, the soundtrack was created from software, such as ProScores, which is specifically designed to engineer "hard-hitting" "tension-building" moments in promotional videos. Music has long-been valued as an effective element of political propaganda campaigns because it can instantly frame perceptions by triggering emotions.

Simultaneous to the video release, HTA created a Facebook page to promote the conference. The page already has more than 2,000 "fans." HTA asks fans to swap out their existing profile picture for the graphic of the event flier. The image comes with an attached caption saying, "Get involved! Make this your Profile Picture till July 11." As the number of people using the flier as a profile picture increases so will the number of people receiving information about the upcoming conference. Thus, the pool of potential HTA supporters expands.

In addition, HTA requests Muslims to change their "political views" on their Facebook profile to "Islamic Khilafah" (as opposed to Democrat, say) to indicate their support for HTA's goals.

The Facebook page also provides a link to a lecture called "Islamic Caliphate vs. Democracy" by the al-Qaeda-linked cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who is infamous for providing spiritual guidance to several American homegrown terrorists, including Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan.

HT supporters in the U.S. and around the world have "Tweeted" news of the upcoming Chicago conference. "Tweets" are easily "ReTweeted," extending the reach of the message far beyond the circle of supporters already known to HTA.

Implications

Over the past year we have seen U.S. citizens radicalized to the point of committing acts of terrorism. While HT has not been tied to any of these cases, its objectives and ideology are consistent with many Islamist terrorist organizations. The group demonizes the U.S. and its allies, it seeks to make American Muslims feel disaffection towards their country, and it does not fully condemn acts of terrorism; rather, it places blame on the victim society for bringing violence upon itself.

How an extremist group reaches its audience is key to understanding how radicalization occurs. While HTA is spreading word about its conference, it is simultaneously exposing new audiences to its ideology and furthering its strategy to isolate American Muslims from the rest of society. Isolation and disaffection are first steps along the path to radicalization--the same path that may eventually lead to terrorism.

Posted on 06/16/2010 9:24 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Wednesday, 16 June 2010
What's an iced tea like you doing in a limey like that?

It isn't often that I admit to being wrong. Not for want of trying, but I don't often get the opportunity. But today, I had to eat humble pie, or rather crow, together with fried chicken, corn pudding and something I thought was chicken salad but turned out to be banana pudding. And I washed it down with a massive glass of iced tea - and it was delicious.

It wouldn't work in England - too cold - but I'm in Nashville, where it goes down a treat.

Fearing the worst in the tea department - well you never know after that Boston Harbour business - I brought my own teabags. Unnecessarily, as it turns out - they have them here. In fact I've got so many teabags, I could be one of those teabaggers one reads about, whose activities are either very conservative or quite unspeakable. (You shouldn't talk with your mouth full, anyway.)

Catch y'all later, the Good Lord willin' and the creek don't rise.

Posted on 06/16/2010 2:29 PM by Mary Jackson
Wednesday, 16 June 2010
North Korea celebrates flawless 8 - 0 win

From The Daily Mash:

NORTH Koreans were celebrating last night after their team's long-predicted 8-0 thrashing of decadent capitalist Brazil.

Footage of Korea's nine-foot tall players scoring goal after goal past a weeping and unusually Oriental-looking Brazilian side was beamed across the country to over 35 million people, 11 million more than its actual population.

The first three goals saw their goalkeeper earn the 47th hat-trick of his career, with the last being a remarkable bicycle kick from the halfway line.

Each goal was celebrated by the players running to the corner flag and delivering an impassioned five-minute lecture on the nation's rising factory productivity to a rapt crowd of 52,000 Korean fans.

Tom Logan, World Cup analyst at Madeley-Finnegan, said: "North Korea's footage differs significantly from the rest of the world, inasmuch as Ellis Park appeared to be a dilapidated velodrome on an industrial estate and Korea's fourth and seventh goal was exactly the same footage."

But Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Il said: "Our glorious players showed what discipline, moral fortitude and being repeatedly beaten can achieve. I personally coached the team myself, shortly after writing my 375th novel Super Kim Slays Moth-Ra & Has Sexy Fun With Madonna, and fighting a bear with a claw hammer."

A North Korean government spokesman added: "Some may think they remember a goalkeeper called Ri Myong-Guk. They are mistaken. If anybody meets somebody claiming to be a member of his family, they are actually Western demons and should be shot on sight."

North Korean fan Jong-Se Park said: "Much appreciation and fraternal joy to the mighty footballers of our land! I do so hope my family can please be released unharmed so they can witness the ultimate triumph in the final!"

Posted on 06/16/2010 2:48 PM by Mary Jackson
Wednesday, 16 June 2010
Only in The Guardian

I leave the country for a few days and The Guardian starts posting nonsense. Or maybe it's not about me. Thanks to David Thompson for this.

 

I fear it’s time for more classic sentences from the Guardian, this time care of Professor Terry Eagleton, who obliges with a volley of inadvertent nuggets:

If the Cameron government is bad news for those seeking radical change, the World Cup is even worse.

This bold declaration is followed by,

If every rightwing think-tank came up with a scheme to distract the populace from political injustice and compensate them for lives of hard labour, the solution in each case would be the same - football.

And,

No finer way of resolving the problems of capitalism has been dreamed up, bar socialism. And in the tussle between them, football is several light years ahead.

Ba-dum. Tissshh.

The article in question, Football: A Dear Friend to Capitalism, bears a typically presumptuous subheading:

The World Cup is another setback to any radical change. The opium of the people is now football.

It’s strange how readily the professor assumes that an enthusiasm for football is a “distraction” that’s “holding back” some “radical change” that would otherwise be embraced by enthusiasts of the game. Yes, that must be why the working man still hasn’t recognised radical socialism as the glorious thing it is. Isn’t it terrible when your revolution beckons and yet people would rather do something else, something they like? But football fans just don’t know their own minds, see, being mere dupes of the capitalist machine and its dastardly overlords. Thankfully, our esteemed literary critic knows what the people really want, secretly, deep down inside those dim and hoodwinked brains. Professor Eagleton spies some variation of false consciousness whenever the proletariat dares to see things differently from its egalitarian superiors - an enlightened caste of ageing, embittered Marxists whose keenness of vision shows them, and only them, how things really are.

Readers may recall the professor is also fond of the Unargued Assertion. And so we get some of this:

Modern societies deny men and women the experience of solidarity, which football provides to the point of collective delirium.

Quite how the experience of solidarity can be “denied” by modern societies remains oddly unspecified. Perhaps dear bewildered Terry imagines common interest is something that people can no longer experience - serendipitously or voluntarily - say, via the global communication tools made possible and ubiquitous by... oh yes, capitalism.

 

The professor then goes on to tell us why football is, for some, so seductive: 

Most car mechanics and shop assistants feel shut out by high culture; but once a week they bear witness to displays of sublime artistry by men for whom the word genius is sometimes no mere hype... In a social order denuded of ceremony and symbolism, football steps in to enrich the aesthetic lives of people for whom Rimbaud is a cinematic strongman.

See what he did there? He’s clever, our professor is, if instinctively condescending. And a tad delusional:

Along with television, [football] is the supreme solution to that age-old dilemma of our political masters: what should we do with them when they’re not working?

There’s that Unargued Assertion again. But here’s the thing. I’m not entirely convinced that our unnamed “political masters” are overly concerned with what people in general do within the law during their non-working hours. I do, however, get the impression that Professor Eagleton would very much like to direct the improvement of the species through a proper, more enlightened use of leisure time:

Nobody serious about political change can shirk the fact that the game has to be abolished.

Is he serious, or being clever? It’s so very hard to care. This, after all, is the towering intellectual who described jihadist mass murderers as “tragic heroes,” while insinuating moral equivalence between the perpetrators of atrocity and their arbitrary victims, including those who leapt from the windows of a burning World Trade Centre.
 

Posted on 06/16/2010 3:01 PM by Mary Jackson
Wednesday, 16 June 2010
Beyond Parody

The Daily Mash insults the Democratic Republic of Korea, by understating its achievements. Capitalist running dogs. From the Pyonyang Democrat, via The Guardian, with thanks to reader Aymenn Jawad:

"Victory!" screams the front page banner headline of North Korean daily the Pyongyang Democrat, above a report outlining how the Democratic People's Republic of Korea torpedoed hapless Brazil in a 29-0 rout, in which bespectacled man of the match, chairman of the National Defence Commission, general secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea, supreme leader and midfield general Kim Jong-il scored 28 goals, with his late father eternal president Kim Il-Sung chipping in with a victory-sealing 30-yard surface-to-air missile in injury-time.

 

Posted on 06/16/2010 3:07 PM by Mary Jackson
Wednesday, 16 June 2010
David J. Smith In The Georgian Daily:

Georgia gets a lot of attention at NER.

Here's a little more, in the form of a column reproduced from The Georgian Daily: : 

 

Blaming Israel Completely Unacceptable    
June 16, 2010

TABULA

David J. Smith*

Early morning on May 31, Israeli commandoes slid from hovering helicopters onto the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara. They prevented embarked so-called peace activists from gaining the shore of the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by the terrorist group Hamas. The on-deck fracas also sparked a new round of international “blame the victim,” a game with which we in Georgia are all too familiar. But blaming Israel for defending itself ignores the facts and the underlying geopolitical developments.

Mavi Marmara was the largest in a flotilla of 6 ships and boats that left Turkey, trying to “open a sea lane between Gaza and the rest of the world,” said Greta Berlin of the Free Gaza Movement, one of the organizers. The other main organizer was the Turkish Insani Yardim Vakfi or Foundation for Human Rights, Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief, which some allege has terrorist ties.

Among hundreds of naïve but no doubt sincere peace activists from Turkey, Western Europe and America were embedded some hard core jihadis, there to precipitate a bloody incident for the television reporters also aboard. Chanting, “Khaibar, Khaibar”—the name of a Jewish settlement defeated by Muhammad in 629 A.D.—they attacked the descending Israeli troops with pipes, knives, sling-shots and small firearms. Nine so-called activists died.

The six vessels were diverted to the nearby Israeli port of Ashdod, where their passengers were processed and deported. Israeli authorities will inspect their cargo—dangerous contraband unlikely to be found in this instance—and forward it overland to Gaza, fulfilling the aim of the sincere activists. But delivering aid to needy people was secondary to the flotilla organizers.

Their objective was to open an unfettered sea lane to Gaza, either by establishing a precedent if Israel had relented, or by provoking an international outcry if it intercepted the six vessels.

“Bloody massacre…inhumane state terrorism,” cried Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an. “Disproportionate use of force,” opined French President Nicolas Sarkozy. “Completely unacceptable,” said British Prime Minister David Cameron. The German Government was “shocked,” as was United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Then—as night follows day—began calls to end Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Righteous indignation may serve Erdo?an’s geopolitical purpose as he distances Turkey from the west and plays big power politics, at once in consonance and in competition with Iran. And it may afford western leaders useful noise as their naïve countrymen arrive home from their flotilla holidays. But blaming the victim is, to borrow Cameron’s phrase, completely unacceptable.

Recall that in 2005, under international pressure, Israel withdrew from Gaza, its army forcibly removing recalcitrant Jewish settlers. Four months later, Hamas won a plurality of votes and took over the government. The US and the European Union ceased direct aid to Gaza. Hamas booted its enemies in a civil war and now runs the place as a 360 Km2 terrorist camp. Since 2007, tens of thousands of rockets have rained upon Israeli cities and towns from Gaza.

Now, make no mistake—with unfettered access to Gaza under current circumstances, Iran and Syria would flood Hamas with weapons, likely including M-600 missiles, as surely as they have armed Hizbullah in Lebanon.

US Secretary of State Clinton is correct to say, “The situation in Gaza is unsustainable and unacceptable.” However, the short-sighted reaction of most western diplomats will be to blame Israel, craft some new Gaza access scheme and profess renewed vigor in the peace process.

But connected geopolitical matters cannot be sorted into separate bits for the convenience of diplomats and politicians. There will be no enduring positive results to the Middle East peace process until we accept the inconvenient reality that peace must include Gaza. And Gaza is now run by Hamas, beholden to Iran, whose great power aspirations include nuclear weapons and the destruction of Israel. That is what should be completely unacceptable.

*David J. Smith is Director of the Georgian Security Analysis Center, Tbilisi, and Senior Fellow, Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, Washington. 

Posted on 06/16/2010 3:37 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 16 June 2010
An Unmerited Honoring Of Ahmet Davetoglu

From FP"

Wilson Center honors Turkish foreign minister with "Public Service Award"

Posted By Josh Rogin

The U.S. taxpayer-funded Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, led by former Congressman Lee Hamilton, is giving out its annual award for public service Thursday, and the winner is ... Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu!

Davutaoglu "personifies the attributes we seek to honor at the Woodrow Wilson Center," Hamilton said in announcing the event, adding that his "contributions have been numerous and significant."

The Turkish foreign minister has been in the news a lot lately, such as when he said the Israeli incident aboard the Gaza flotilla "is like 9/11 for Turkey."

He was also a key figure in the Brazilian-Turkish drive to head off new U.N. sanctions on Iran by striking an 11th-hour fuel-swap deal, an agreement the Obama administration has dismissed as inadequate and unhelpful.

House Foreign Affairs Middle East subcommittee chairman Gary Ackerman, D-NY, wrote to Hamilton Wednesday to express his "deep concern and dismay" over the award to Davutoglu.

"Turkey's foreign policy under Foreign Minister Davutoglu's leadership is rife with illegality, irresponsibility and hypocrisy," he wrote, citing Turkey's denial of the Armenian genocide, its occupation of northern Cyprus, Turkey's vote against new Iran sanctions, and what Ackerman described as the ongoing "demonizing" of Israel as exhibited during the flotilla crisis.

"A foreign leader who represents and defends this kind of foreign policy, one who has championed Turkey's most odious efforts to deny to others the human dignity that Turkey rightly expects for its own people, is not a worthy recipient of the WWC Public Service Award," Ackerman wrote.

The center was created in 1968 by an act of Congress as a private/public partnership, and U.S. taxpayers contribute about a third of the center's annual revenue.

Many lawmakers are fed up with what they see as Turkey's unhelpful actions in the international arena.

"There will be a cost if Turkey stays on its present heading of growing closer to Iran and more antagonistic to the state of Israel," Rep. Mike Pence, R-IN, told a news conference Wednesday. "It will bear upon my view and I believe the view of many members of Congress on the state of the relationship with Turkey."

Rep. Eliot Engel, D-NY, called recent actions by Turkey "disgraceful."

In an emailed statement, the Wilson Center explained, "Awardees are selected based on a collective body of their lifelong career and achievements ... Awardees are not chosen for their political views ... and we do not endorse the views of Woodrow Wilson Awardees on specific issues."

The statement also said that the event was a fundraising event and that Congress has been pushing the center to find more private sources of funding. "These Awards Dinners have been critical for helping to raise some of the funding the Wilson Center needs," the statement said.

"Mr. Davutoglu has had a diverse career as a scholar, a professor, a political scientist, an author, a civil servant, an international diplomat, and currently as Turkey's Minister of Foreign Affairs... He also fits the Wilsonian mold of being both a scholar and a policymaker," the statement reads, noting that Davtoglu was invited to accept the award in August 2009.

Posted on 06/16/2010 4:34 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 16 June 2010
A Musical Interlude: He's A Good Man To Have Around (Libby Holman)

Listen here.

Posted on 06/16/2010 6:34 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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