For our donors from the UK:
|Recent Publications by New English Review Authors
||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
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
||Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy
by Theodore Dalrymple
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
These are all the Blogs posted on Saturday, 17, 2010.
Saturday, 17 April 2010
The Kids Are Alright
Andy McCarthy writes at NRO:
So now we know why the self-proclaimed “most transparent administration in American history” continues to stonewall rather than reveal the official responsibilities of Justice Department lawyers who volunteered their services to America’s enemies during wartime. Like any good Democrat, Eric Holder says he is doing it for the children.
The attorney general bristled during Senate testimony on Wednesday that he was “not going to allow these kids” to have their reputations dragged “through the mud.” The “kids” coddled in this touching paternal display include 45-year-old Tony West, who now supervises hundreds of lawyers as chief of DOJ’s Civil Division. It’s been 17 years since Tony the Kid first served as an influential official in the Clinton Justice Department. From there, he went on to nine-year stint as a hot-shot partner at a prestigious San Francisco law firm — in his spare time running both Barack Obama’s lavish presidential campaign in California and the defense of John Walker Lindh, the “American Taliban” convicted on terrorism charges after making war on his country.
They grow up so quickly, don’t they? Kids like 40-year-old Neal Katyal, the current deputy solicitor general who, as Byron York observes
, was a Georgetown law professor when he volunteered to represent Salim Hamdan, Osama bin Laden’s personal driver and bodyguard, who was apprehended transporting missiles in Afghanistan.
Then there’s precocious 38-year-old Jennifer Daskal. Over Holder’s dead body will anyone drag her reputation through the mud, insinuating that she spent her pre-DOJ years cheerleading for terrorists and running down her country when, in point of fact, Daskal spent her pre-DOJ years . . . cheerleading for terrorists and running down her country. When not campaigning on behalf of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (as if Bush had needed to torture him into confessing to atrocities he can’t stop bragging about) and Omar Khadr (accused of murdering an American serviceman), Daskal was pleading with the United Nations to designate the United States a rogue nation that systematically abuses prisoners, secretly imprisons suspects, applies the death penalty in a racially discriminatory manner, uses the “cloak of federalism” to conceal its serial violations of international law, invokes “the so-called ‘war on terror’” as a pretext for shredding the Bill of Rights, and, of course, harms our children — by subjecting juvenile criminals to life imprisonment when they commit murders.
Daskal also made time during her tenure at Human Rights Watch to expose a top-secret CIA program to detain high-level al-Qaeda operatives in overseas prisons. She and her HRW colleagues pooled intelligence from other fearless patriots who had volunteered to help terrorists bring lawsuits against the United States. As Tom Joscelyn and Debra Burlingame recount
, that project had nothing to do with the lawful purpose of representing the terrorists — to challenge the validity of their detention as enemy combatants — but did involve extensive violation of court orders.
It’s interesting that Daskal should have entangled herself in that effort because — wouldn’t you know it! — the Gitmo Bar just happens to have been involved in another conspiracy to compromise the CIA, in this case by hiring private investigators to stalk intelligence officers, snap pictures of them, and then smuggle the photos into Gitmo so that top terrorists could try to identify them. The plan seems to have proceeded in a manner remarkably similar to HRW’s plot to expose the secret prisons, with Gitmo barristers pooling information and violating court orders. An ongoing criminal investigation had to be assigned to a new prosecutor from outside Main Justice after the CIA complained that Holder’s minions didn’t see what the big deal was about a little stalking — of intelligence operatives.
Meantime, under the direction of these wonderful kids, the Justice Department has pushed to expose classified information about the interrogation and detention of prisoners, to reopen cases against the CIA that had been closed because professional prosecutors found insufficient evidence of wrongdoing, to subject Bush Justice Department lawyers to professional sanctions, to extend Miranda
protections to war criminals, and to grant full-blown civilian trials to alien enemy combatants held overseas. Can you imagine that anyone would have the temerity to suggest that maybe, just maybe, a department rife with political appointees who voluntarily lined up with the terrorists against the government during the Bush years might be just a teeny-tiny bit influenced by that experience? That they might have a predisposition that could be affecting their policy judgments?
Well, fear not. There is no such temerity. Judiciary Committee Republicans let the whole thing slide. There was not a single question at Wednesday’s hearing about stalking the CIA, nor a single question about Daskal and what she’s been doing since Holder brought her into the Justice Department. The attorney general’s palaver about “patriotism” went completely unchallenged: No questions about whether Holder thinks spying on the CIA is a proper role for lawyers whose only legitimate function is to litigate the legality of detention; no questions about whether Holder thinks lawyers exhibit patriotism when they violate court orders; no questions about what might have made the CIA believe Holder’s aides were not taking the stalking investigation seriously.
Holder’s “patriotism” gambit, like his specious portrayal of experienced, accomplished government attorneys as abused children, is a smokescreen. Republicans ought to be laughing at it, not cowed by it. The fact that we permit lawyers to volunteer their services to our wartime enemies doesn’t make the lawyers who do so patriots — any more than ambulance-chasers are patriots just because it’s legal to chase ambulances. When Eric Holder was an Obama campaign adviser, he didn’t just question the patriotism of Bush DOJ lawyers, he accused them of facilitating war crimes and insisted there needed to be a “reckoning” of their purported misdeeds. Those lawyers were working against
the terrorists. But we’re not supposed to talk about lawyers who work for
Republicans sat mum as their Democratic counterparts lauded the Gitmo Bar for its “courage” and falsely accused critics of claiming that lawyers who flocked to al-Qaeda’s service are “disqualified” from future government service. Mightn’t one GOP senator have pointed out that critics are simply demanding the transparency and accountability that President Obama and his attorney general promised? They certainly seemed to have reservoirs of indignation when Al Gonzales was attorney general.
Obama is a radical of the Left, but the American people elected him. It is to be expected that, once in office, he would appoint other radicals of the Left. We’re not saying they’re disqualified. We’re saying Americans are entitled to know who they are and what they’re doing. And if Democrats truly believe their Gitmo Bar activities were courageously patriotic, then why aren’t they eager to tell us who they are and what they’re doing?
We don’t have to imagine what would happen if officials tied to a Republican administration were alleged to have compromised a CIA agent. We saw it happen: Democrats raised holy hell and milked it into a multi-year scandal. Now we have a real scandal, orders of magnitude more severe than Valerie Plame Wilson’s exposure, and we can’t even get a question asked about it? While the Republicans are playing it safe, the Left is playing for keeps.
Posted on 04/17/2010 6:44 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Saturday, 17 April 2010
Da'wa in New Zealand - Qur'an translated into Te Reo
From the New Zealand Herald
The Muslim holy book the Qur'an has been translated into Te Reo Maori.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has been working on the translation project for more than 20 years and has translated just over half of the book. The 16 parts have been published into a book comprising of both the original Arabic text with Maori translation and was launched earlier today, the Pacific Media Watch website reported.
Dr Mohammad Shorab, local president of the Ahmadiyya Community, said he believed the translation of the Holy Qur'an was a great way to honour the community's motto: Love for all, hatred for none.
"Islam is a universal religion," said Dr Shorab.
"For that reason it is important to invest in other languages and traditions to gain a better understanding of the people around us."
Dr Shorab said the Qur'an was the most precious thing to Muslims and its translation into Te Reo not only shows Muslims' respect and regard for the Maori community, but was also a way to share with New Zealand something that was very special and meaningful to them.
Credit for the translation largely goes to Shakil Monir, a Pakistani teacher with a love for religion and the Qur'an. While working in a school in Nigeria in 1993, he began to teach himself Maori with an English to Maori dictionary, Maori Bible and a book of Maori grammar. With a few extra years of dedicated study and with instruction from the head of the Ahmadiyya Community, Mr Monir began the challenging task of translating the Qur'an into Te Reo.
He said that with the help of five to six different Maori language experts, he was confident that the Maori translation was fairly accurate and as close as possible to the original Arabic text.
First a translation of the Koran is not truly the Koran as it can only be understood in the original Arabic, or so they will have you believe when you quote a translation at an imam. Second the Ahmadiyya are considered apostates by mainstream Muslims and can be persecuted with just as much hatred as that vented on Christians, Jews and Hindus. Third a friend in New Zealand tells me that the Maoris are very suspicious of outside influences. It remains to be seen if this is the beginning of an attempt at da'wa and if so what the Maoris make of it. Islam has become popular in some black circles (Nation of Islam, prision population) as a way of fighting against European (or European rooted) society. Do the Muslims of New Zealand think they detect a potential source of conversion? If so I hope they come unstuck. This man may have a few stories to tell any potential 'revert'. From Radio New Zealand
A Saudi Arabian man sentenced to death for abandoning Islam has been granted refugee status in New Zealand.
The man's father, a senior official in a state organisation that monitors the observance of Islam, found Jehovah's Witness brochures in his home and ordered his arrest and prosecution.
The Refugee Appeals Authority heard he was beaten unconscious, and tortured in custody for three months.His father seized his assets, but he managed to flee Saudi Arabia last year before the court's verdict was announced.
Posted on 04/17/2010 1:58 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 17 April 2010
Muslim businessmen donate thousands to Labour party - to help Gordon Brown "finish off the job that we started under Blair ".
From The Guardian
Labour has recruited one of Britain's most prominent Asian businessmen to launch a last-ditch appeal for general election funds, amid fears that it is facing a multi-million pound shortfall in donations. Sir Gulam Noon, the packaged food tycoon, has given up his non-domicile tax status and become an assistant treasurer of the party. Since taking up the post a month ago, he has personally donated £200,000 to the campaign and has raised a further £250,000 from other Muslim businessmen.
The decision to recruit a tycoon to woo other wealthy backers will be seized upon by critics as proof that the party's Obama-style strategy of seeking smaller donations from greater numbers of supporters has failed. Noon, known as the Curry King, said that he was approached last month by Ray Collins, Labour's general secretary, and asked to take up the new role.
"I have always been a Labour supporter and wanted to ensure that Gordon Brown was given an opportunity to finish off the job that we started under Blair so I accepted Ray's invitation," he said.
He decided to give up his favourable tax status – to which he was entitled because he was born in India – so that he could join the campaign without causing any embarrassment to the party, he claimed. Noon is now one of four people who sit on Labour's board of assistant treasurers which was established last September to raise funds for the party. The other members are Jack Dromey, the party's lay treasurer, Nigel Doughty, founder of an equity firm, and Dave Prentis, Unison's general secretary.
The Mumbai-born tycoon said that he has raised the money from 10 Muslim businessmen, and is planning to raise another £50,000 by the end of the month. He declined to name the donors and said that he does not know if any of those giving money were domiciled abroad.
Labour insiders said last night that the party is still "quite a few million" short of the £18m maximum that can be spent on the general election campaign. The Tories are understood to have raised more than they can spend.
Noon, 74, has given nearly £700,000 to Labour over the last 10 years but has not given a donation of more than £5,000 since the last election. He was questioned under caution by police in 2005 as part of Scotland Yard's investigation into the alleged sale of honours in exchange for loans towards Labour's last general election campaign. It emerged that he had secretly lent £250,000 to Labour weeks before he was nominated by Tony Blair for a peerage.
To be fair all parties receive donations from those wealthy enough to spare the money and who have an interest in that parties aims. But I do wonder exactly which particular 'job that we started under Blair' Lord Curry has in mind to complete.
Posted on 04/17/2010 2:20 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 17 April 2010
Antony Flew, Philosopher and Ex-Atheist, Dies at 87
From the NYTImes:
Antony Flew, an English philosopher and outspoken atheist who stunned and dismayed the unbelieving faithful when he announced in 2004 that God probably did exist, died April 8 in Reading, England. He was 87 and lived in Reading.
His death was confirmed by Roy Abraham Varghese, with whom he wrote “There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind,” published in 2007.
Mr. Flew, the son of a Methodist minister, embraced atheism as a teenager. “It just seemed flatly inconsistent to say that the universe was created by an omnipotent and perfectly good being,” he told The Sunday Times of London in 2004. “Yet there were evils in abundance which could not be put down to a consequence of human sin.”
The rejection of religious faith, he said, was the start of his career as a philosopher.
His philosophical interests were wide. He was an expert on the Scottish philosopher David Hume, about whom he wrote the indispensable “Hume’s Philosophy of Belief” (1961). But in more than 30 books he also explored topics as varied as evolutionary ethics, psychic phenomena, logic, education, crime and egalitarianism.
In 2004, however, he announced on a DVD titled “Has Science Discovered God?” that research on DNA and what he believed to be inconsistencies in the Darwinian account of evolution had forced him to reconsider his views. DNA research, he said, “has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce life, that intelligence must have been involved.”
In “There Is a God” he explained that he now believed in a supreme intelligence, removed from human affairs but responsible for the intricate workings of the universe. In other words, the divine watchmaker imagined by deists like Isaac Newton, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin.
In a letter to The Sunday Telegraph of London in 2004, he described “the God in whose existence I have belatedly come to believe” as “most emphatically not the eternally rewarding and eternally torturing God of either Christianity or Islam but the God of Aristotle that he would have defined — had Aristotle actually produced a definition of his (and my) God — as the first initiating and sustaining cause of the universe.”
True philosophy must always come to grips with the reality of a "first cause," but it takes religious faith to penetrate beyond the philosophical in order to experience the personal Father. That is why theology has always to come to grips with psychology, at least to some degree. See Richard L. Rubenstein's piece in this month's NER, "There is Nothing Final About the Death of God."
Posted on 04/17/2010 7:28 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Saturday, 17 April 2010
They also serve
Deborah Ross reviews Roman Polanski's film The Ghost for The Spectator - or should it be The Spectre?
[T]he ghost-writer is drafted in because his predecessor on the project, a close aide of Lang, died suddenly by falling off a ferry — what’s that I hear ringing? Alarm bells? — so off he flies, to Martha’s Vineyard, where the former PM is holed up in a borrowed house with his wife Ruth (the terrific Olivia Williams), his assistant-come-mistress Amelia ...
Just a minute - isn't it cum, not come? As in "kitchen-cum-dinette" "cum-rights share" or - a bizarre one I remember from my childhood - ballerina-cum-fairy?
Alternatively, is the assistant merely in training for the top job, does the ballerina want to put the tooth fairy out of business, and is the share entirely fair?
Answers on a postcard please, especially from those welcome first-time visitors that this post may have sucked in.
Posted on 04/17/2010 11:09 AM by Mary Jackson
Saturday, 17 April 2010
Erdogan's Obsession With Israel
Turkey Takes Sides
Criticism of Israel is the hallmark of Prime Minister Erdogan's new Middle East policy -- but not all Turks are on board.
BY TULIN DALOGLU | APRIL 16, 2010
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit to Washington this week to attend the Nuclear Security Summit showed once again that he and the United States are simply not seeing eye to eye. The White House statement following Erdogan's Tuesday meeting with President Barack Obama stated that the two leaders "affirmed the strategic partnership between their countries" and "discussed their joint interest in achieving the nonproliferation goals of the Summit," including halting Iran's development of a nuclear weapon. But this was purely rhetoric: In fact, the two countries are agreeing on little these days.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has developed into the primary sticking point between the longtime allies. The White House tackles the Middle East peace process and the Iranian nuclear dilemma as parallel but separate issues. Under the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), however, Turkey considers the two issues inseparable. For Erdogan, what happens in Gaza has a direct connection with Iran's nuclear ambitions. And his deep emotional attachment to the Palestinian cause is preventing Turkey from playing a constructive role in the conflict's resolution.
For the past several years, Ankara has proudly touted its position as a valuable mediator in the Middle East. However, it surrendered its role as a voice of reason when Erdogan became obsessed with criticizing Israel at every turn. Erdogan's comments on Middle East foreign policy, from his January 2009 outburst at Davos to his recent remarks at the nuclear summit, almost inevitably end with a verbal assault on Israel's transgressions. Some of those rebukes are surely earned, but by constantly beating the same horse, Erdogan has lost nuance in the Arab-Israeli dispute.
As a Turk, I don't wish to invite accusations of faithlessness or disloyalty from my fellow countrymen. I am the daughter of Turkish parents who blessed our home with prayer five times a day and went on hajj two decades ago. I was raised as a Muslim. Yet I believe the Israeli Foreign Ministry's recent statement, which claimed Erdogan was giving the impression that he "is seeking to integrate with the Muslim world at Israel's expense," was precisely correct.
Many of the tens of thousands of demonstrators who took to the streets in Damascus in January 2009 to protest the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip carried banners praising Erdogan for supporting the Palestinian cause. However, as Erdogan's populist rhetoric wins over the Arab street, Turkey's relationships with moderate Arab leaders and Israel have faltered. Kadri Gursel, one of Turkey's leading foreign policy columnists, has warned that the country's efforts to integrate with the West would suffer if Erdogan's ambition "is to be the Hugo Chavez of the Middle East." Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, for his part, compared Erdogan not only to the Venezuelan president but to Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi.
The transformation of Turkey's foreign alliances has been accompanied by a narrowing of domestic freedoms. It is increasingly difficult to speak out against the AKP. When I was growing up in Ankara I never thought that one day my school friends and I would complain that we felt like outsiders in our own homeland. We're gradually becoming a minority -- but the new landscape is as yet unclear.
"Turkey is not the issue, but Erdogan is," stated Lieberman. I disagree. Turks may not all hold the same opinions, but their elected prime minister does have a right to speak on their behalf. That is what makes Erdogan's statements so disturbing. The prime minister takes great pride in speaking bluntly against Israeli, European, and even U.S. leaders. But I don't remember him speaking as plainly to any Muslim leader.
I don't think anyone felt comfortable watching the Palestinians suffer during Operation Cast Lead. But Hamas shares significant responsibility for what happened. If the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a separatist Kurdish terrorist organization, were to attack Turkey with the rockets used by Hamas, human rights concerns would not be the first priority of the Turks or the Turkish military. This is why some Turks are deeply troubled by the fact that, while Erdogan criticizes Israel for using disproportionate force, he does not remind his friends in Hamas and Hezbollah that they, too, have responsibilities.
When Erdogan is not harping on Israel's Gaza offensive, he is criticizing its nuclear capability. These attacks are surely one of the reasons why Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently decided not to attend the nuclear summit in Washington. Erdogan called on the international community to press Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and criticized the United States and its allies for advancing a double standard toward Iran and Israel. "It is important that we try to take steps to overcome those difficulties, so we can strengthen peace in the Middle East," he said at the summit.
In principle, Erdogan shares Obama's ideal of a world without nuclear weapons. However, the best way to champion this cause is to lead by example -- and on this front, the Turkish prime minister has done very little. The United States hosts approximately 90 warheads in Turkey, at the Incirlik Air Base. So far, Erdogan has done nothing to ensure their departure from Turkish soil. "It costs a lot of money to keep them there," Henri Barkey, a scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told me. "If Turkey wants them to be taken away, the U.S. will do it immediately. But if [the United States] considers doing it and Turkey says 'no,' it won't remove those nuclear warheads."
In the end, all issues seem to come back to Erdogan's obsession with Israel. It is easy to use Israel as a scapegoat, as Erdogan attempts to redefine Turkish identity and its national security interests. Erdogan's constant rhetorical assaults on Israel do have a profound effect on Turkish public opinion, slowly convincing Turks that it is Israel, not a nuclear Iran, that is the primary threat to peace.
The prime minister argues that he is not shifting the country from West to East -- he is still a vocal advocate of Turkey's EU accession, for example. However, he knows well that his popularity on the Arab street is not due to the Arab world's appreciation for Turkey's founding father, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, but because he is taking their side against Israel and its Western allies.
As a Turk, I have watched these developments with growing concern. Turkey's leadership cannot help advance peace and stability if it chooses to see Israel as an enemy. Turkey is a vital balancer in the region, and it can and should remain as the go-between between Israel, the Arab world, and the West.
Unfortunately, Erdogan's leadership has created a dangerous vacuum in the Middle East. Without Turkish leadership, the international community will be severely hampered in its efforts to stop Iran's nuclear weapons program. This will shift the regional balance of power and truly endanger Turkey's security. When this day comes, Erdogan might still try to blame Israel and the United States -- but the truth is that the only person he will have to blame is himself.
Posted on 04/17/2010 12:26 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 17 April 2010
The Idiocy of Obama’s engagement with Syria
The Obami have done it again. The Administration has shot itself in the left foot when it comes to engagement with duplicitous Syria. That is the opinion of Jennifer Rubin in the Contentions
blog of Commentary Magazine
,and Barry Rubin of the GLORIA Centre in Israel. They are not related.
Here is what they said about the idiocy of Obama’s appeasement of the Bashir Assad regime in Damascus. The Obama White House looks dumbfounded given the transfer of Scuds by Syria to Iranian proxy Hezbollah in Lebanon. That revelation now puts all of Israel at risk of raining destruction.
Obama’s Syrian engagement policy is in shambles. The decision to return our ambassador to Damascus has earned us the contempt of Bashar al-Assad and has done nothing to halt his embrace of Iran. We’ve now seen that Assad has upped the ante with the transfer of scud missiles to Hezbollah. This reportsuggests that the Obami then went a step further in the appeasement dance — calling off an Israeli attack:
Although US officials contacted by The National could not completely confirm that such [missile] technology had been transferred to Hizbollah by Syria, one official privy to intelligence briefings confirmed a story previously reported in the Israeli press that in the weeks before Senator John Kerry’s visit to Damascus on April 1, Israel almost bombed what it claimed was a convoy of advanced weaponry headed from Syrian military bases to Hizbollah along the shared border with Lebanon.
“I can’t promise you that planes were actually in the air, but it was close, very close,” said the official. “The White House had to talk them down from the attack and promised that Kerry would use strong language” with the Syrian president, Bashar Assad.
When asked about the outcome of the meeting between Mr Kerry and Mr Assad on the issue, the source tartly responded: “In light of where we are now, what do you think?”
Besides increasing the possibility of violence along one of the world’s most tense borders, the claim of new weapons transfers had also had a debilitating effect on supporters of Syrian engagement in Washington and might be responsible for a “hold” put on the February nomination of Robert Ford as the US ambassador to Syria.
So what did we gain by waving off the Israelis? Another dollop of contempt. We have conveyed — both to Syria and its Iranian partner — that we will not respond to provocation and, in fact, will restrain Israel from doing so. In a neat package we have all the elements of Obama’s foolish and dangerous Middle East policy — ingratiation with despots, unilateral gestures, the failure to project American power, and the collapse of the U.S.-Israel alliance that has acted as a successful deterrent for decades. A more complete picture of failure would be hard to paint. Are we realpolitiking yet?
A parallel situation is now going on regarding Syria's providing of advanced Scuds to Lebanon. The U.S. State Department reaction was a joke: we are going to study this! Compare that to the French response. We must update our thinking. For years we spoke of the timid and unreliable Europeans. Now, in many respects, France (along with Germany and the United Kingdom) is bolder and braver than Obama's American policy.
Here is the uncertain and passive response from the U.S. State Department briefing, remember we are in the midst of the administration's rush to engage Syria, pushing the return of the U.S. ambassador to Damascus despite congressional--there's Congress getting it right again--opposition:
"We are concerned about it. And if such an action has been taken- and we continue to analyze this issue-it would represent a failure by the parties in the region to honor UN Security Council Resolution 1701. And clearly, it potentially puts Lebanon at significant risk. We have been concerned enough that in recent weeks, during one of our regular meetings with the Syrian ambassador here in Washington, that we've raised the issue with the Syrian Government and continue to study the issue. But obviously, it's something of great concern to us."
Why is it that I doubt we are ever going to see any action against Syria taken on the basis of that "concern." Remember that if the White House or State Department says anything critical of Syria, they'll be asked some tough questions about why the United States is courting that dictatorship and expecting it to become more moderate.
Compare this reaction to the French Foreign Ministry's reaction which, mincing no words, called the Scud transfer "alarming" and pointed out that such activity was in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 which "imposes an embargo on the export of arms to Lebanon, except those authorized by the Government of Lebanon or the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL)."
And this is the key! What good is it to get a new UN Security Council resolution if the U.S. government won't even enforce the previous ones!
When we reviewed Barry Rubin’s book, “Truth about Syria”, in 2007, we noted his comments about US dealings with Syria. Our review of the Rubin book occured in the wake of the June, 2007 Hamas “coup” in Gaza and a Bush Administration call for a comprehensive peace plan. Viewed in 2010, Professor Barry Rubin’s comments look downright prescient with the Obama Administration and the failed diplomatic engagement with Syria. They are what baseball great Yogi Berra would call in his fabled malapropism, “déjà vu all over again”.
When asked whether Bashar Al-Assad secured a ‘victory’ by proxy with the Hamas ‘coup’ of June 15th against Fatah in Gaza, he said; “Yes, absolutely.”
Asked about whether IDF maneuvers this spring concerning a hypothetical attack on Syria were a public means of sending a message to Assad, he commented:
Yes, very much so. The Israeli assessment is that Syria will not attack directly. And why should they when they have Hizbollah and others to do it for them at no risk to themselves, unless Israel retaliates against them of course.
Asked if the Bush call for a comprehensive Middle East Peace conference could be sabotaged by Abbas not unlike the late Hafiz Al-Assad’s efforts at the Madrid Peace Conference in 1991, he opined:
Absolutely correct. An interesting point in the book is how Al-Assad sabotaged the Arab summit attempt to do something—the Saudi resolution—which they watered down to the point of killing it. No matter how cynical we might be over the Saudis, by the time the Syrians finished with them it was far worse.
I am against the US or Israel engaging with Syria but even if they did I predict confidently that it will lead nowhere. Of course the Syrian goal is to ease the pressure regarding the [Hariri assassination] tribunal, to keep them in Lebanon, and buy them time for Iran to get nuclear weapons.
Posted on 04/17/2010 3:06 PM by Jerry Gordon
Saturday, 17 April 2010
Insert A Smiley?
Yes, the program permits it. Thus:
I know that Get With The Program is the order of the day. But why in hell would anyone want to Insert A Smiley?
Posted on 04/17/2010 12:29 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 17 April 2010
A Musical Interlude: Mean To Me (Annette Hanshaw)
Posted on 04/17/2010 1:08 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 17 April 2010
Hedging the bets while covering all angles.
Seen this afternoon in Station Parade Barking.
Vote Lib Dem. Vote Labour. Vote Conservative.
But whoever you vote for make sure that under that veil you are eating Dixy's Halal Chicken.
Several of the halal cafes had posters for the three mainstream candidates in both the general election and the Borough Council elections being held on the same day. Some had posters for two parties; this is the only one I saw with three. I don't suppose that a halal resturant is going to display posters for either the Christian Party or the BNP somehow.
To see the names of the candidates and descriptions of the dishes click on the picture to be taken to a larger version.
photograph E Weatherwax April 2010
Posted on 04/17/2010 3:21 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 17 April 2010
Rubenstein: Obama and the "vital national interest'
Dr. Richard L. Rubenstein writes.
Thanks to the New York Times article, “Obama Speech Signals a Shift on Middle East,” (April 15, 2010), we now are reasonably certain that the President regards resolving the Middle East conflict as a “vital national security interest of the United States.” The article further depicts the President as convinced that the Israeli-Arab conflict is “costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure.” It is not unlikely that the article was the administration’s way of signaling a drastic change in American policy toward Israel. It is far more convenient to signal a policy change in the New York Times than in an official statement by the White House or the Department of State, but other governments are sure to take notice and adopt their policies accordingly.
I have been reading some of the writings of Barack Hussein Obama lately in preparation for a major lecture in Nashville in June. The more I read, the more convinced I become that he is perhaps the most brilliant American president in memory, and for that reason, Israel’s most dangerous enemy. The way he secured passage of the health care bill should offer a hint of how he will operate against Israel. He didn’t get everything he wanted in this first round, but he’ll be back for more. Friends of Israel may console themselves with the fact 76 senators, including 38 Democrats, signed a letter to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton implicitly rebuking the Obama administration for its confrontational stance toward Israel, but Obama has shown that he knows how to make legislators walk the plank, so to speak, when he has determined that a vital interest-his own or the nation’s-is at stake. And, he has laid the groundwork by defining his version of the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as “vital national security interest.” Few legislators will be able to withstand the criticism should they vote against such an “interest.”
Admirers of Obama’s policies on the Middle East might recall the response of Franklin Delano Roosevelt towards Hitler’s “Final Solution.” To repeat something I wrote about in December 2009: The command decision to do nothing about Europe’s Jews during World War II, such as the refusal to bomb Auschwitz when U.S. planes were flying almost over it, or refusing to specify that Jews were Hitler’s chief victims at the 1943 Bermuda Conference, rested ultimately with Franklin D. Roosevelt’s, not John J. McCoy or Breckinridge Long. Long played an especially destructive role. He was a long-time friend and supporter of FDR, dating back to the Wilson administration. He contributed generously to FDR’s 1932 campaign and was appointed Ambassador to Italy by the newly-elected president. During the war, Long served as Assistant Secretary of State for Immigration and Refugee Affairs, where he pursued a policy of denying Jews available visas and keeping them bottled up in Hitler’s Europe fully aware of the fate that awaited them. In June 1940 he wrote an intra-department memo: "We can delay and effectively stop for a temporary period of indefinite length the number of immigrants into the United States. We could do this by simply advising our consuls to put every obstacle in the way and to require additional evidence and to resort to various administrative devices which would postpone and postpone and postpone the granting of the visas.” Long also claimed that his policies had the full support of his old friend FDR. On October 3, 1940, he wrote in his personal diary: “So when I saw him [FDR] this morning the whole subject of immigration, visas, safety of the United States, procedures to be followed; and all that sort of thing was on the table. I found that he was 100% in accord with my ideas. He said that when Myron Taylor, [the President's personal representative to the Vatican], had returned from Europe recently the only thing which they discussed outside of Vatican matters was the visa and refugee situation and the manner in which our Consulates were being deprived of a certain amount of discretion by the rulings of the Department...The President expressed himself as in entire accord with the policy which would exclude persons about whom there was any suspicion that they would be inimical to the welfare of the United States no matter who had vouchsafed for them and irrespective of their financial or other standing. I left him with the satisfactory thought that he was wholeheartedly in support of the policy which would resolve in favor of the United States any doubts about admissibility of any individual.”
Roosevelt also worked to thwart congressional resolutions favoring an eventual Jewish state during the war. Given the powerful opposition of men like George Marshall, Dean Acheson, John J. McCoy, etc to Truman’s determination to recognize Israel. It is hardly likely that, had Roosevelt survived and been president in 1947 and 1948 instead of Truman, there would have been a Jewish state.
In 1945, I could never understand why Abba Hillel Silver deeply distrusted Roosevelt and was a Republican. I do now. The Jews loved Roosevelt as he cooperated with the British in keeping Jews bottled up in Hitler’s charnel house. Today many Jews love Barack Hussein Obama. Unfortunately, there is no one in Obama’s circle to turn him around as Henry Morgenthau did with FDR. We will need all the savoir faire and cunning of our best brains- especially when they start to accuse us of dual loyalty as they have already with Dennis Ross- to counter a president whose policies could easily lead to genocide, whether intended or not.
Posted on 04/17/2010 4:04 PM by Richard L. Rubenstein
Saturday, 17 April 2010
Yom Hazikaron: The toll of Israel’s fallen from terrorism and combat
Tomorrow, April 18th, is Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Remembrance Day that commemorates the fallen in several wars fought against the Jihadis determined to crush the Jewish state. Israelis, as seen in this video, stop their vehicles, stand in silence as the wailing sirens announce the commemoration of Yom Hazikaron. Yom Hazikaron is officially commemorated in a moving military ceremony on Mount Herzl at sundown that morphs into the celebration of Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel Independence Day) on April 19th.
These days against the backdrop of the apocalyptic nuclear threat from the Mullahs and Holocaust denying President Ahmadinejad in Tehran and the patent isolation of the Netanyahu government in Jerusalem by Obama in Washington, Yom Hazikaron has compelling significance to Israelis and its supporters around the world.
Israel has suffered more than estimated 20,000 IDF and pre-state Haganah and Irgun military losses in several wars and innumerable counter terrorism actions against Arab Muslim forces.
Since 2000, 968 Israelis have been murdered in terrorist attacks, and 17,000 have been wounded. The statistics were released by the National Insurance Institute in advance of Memorial Day (Yom Hazikaron).
Five Israeli civilians were murdered by terrorists over the course of the past year, since Independence Day 2009. Seventy-one were wounded by terrorists.
The number of civilians murdered by terrorist attacks in Israel since the War of Independence ended on January 1, 1950 stands at 2,431. That number includes 118 foreign citizens murdered in such attacks.
NII Director General Esther Dominissini said that the NII sees the rehabilitation of those wounded in terrorist attacks, and the care for the families of those killed, as a national mission of the utmost importance. In 2009, the NII spent 400 million shekels on assistance to those wounded in terrorist attacks and surviving relatives of terrorism victims.
William Firshein, Professor Emeritus of Microbiology at Connecticut’s Wesleyan University sent this comment in an email about the toll of Israeli and Jewish fallen who fought to preserve Israel’s right to exist or were victims of Jihadi terrorism.
This is a sobering tally of our victims of terrorism which is hardly ever brought up by the ‘international community’, Obama or the world media. It is as if these fallen were part of the “cycle of violence” that is always regurgitated when talking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Hardly anyone brings up the fact that these were victims of deliberate Palestinian and Muslim terrorism, not “collateral damage” brought about by war. The real tragedy is that the policies of Obama will only exacerbate the possibility for a greater number of Israelis to become victims of terrorism.
Posted on 04/17/2010 5:18 PM by Jerry Gordon
Saturday, 17 April 2010
Understatement Of The Decade
Gates Says U.S. Lacks Strategy to Curb Iran’s Nuclear Drive
WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has warned in a secret three-page memorandum to top White House officials that the United States does not have an effective long-range policy for dealing with Iran’s steady progress toward nuclear capability, according to government officials familiar with the document.
Several officials said the highly classified analysis, written in January to President Obama’s national security adviser, Gen. James L. Jones, touched off an intense effort inside the Pentagon, the White House and the intelligence agencies to develop new options for Mr. Obama. They include a revised set of military alternatives, still under development, to be considered should diplomacy and sanctions fail to force Iran to change course....
Posted on 04/17/2010 8:45 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald