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Recent Publications by New English Review Authors
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 Friday, 17, 2010.
Friday, 17 September 2010
MI5 Warns Of 'Somali Terror On UK Streets'

From Sky News

The head of MI5 has warned it is "only a matter of time" before UK residents trained in Somalia stage an attack on British streets and the risk of terrorism was unlikely to diminish in the near future.In a rare speech on Thursday night, Jonathan Evans also admitted underestimating the ability of offshoots from the IRA to regenerate and said cyber-security was now a priority for the Government.

His comments behind closed doors to the Worshipful Company of Security Professionals was delivered just a few weeks before the Government's spending review.This may lead to accusations that the head of the domestic intelligence service was firing a warning shot across the Government's bow.

Mr Evans confirmed that the threat from jihadists trained in northwest Pakistan remained the priority for his staff - but the percentage of plots and leads being followed had dropped from 75% to 50%. The spy chief also listed Yemen as another country on which his officers were concentrating. However, he warned the threat of an attack remained high and pointed to the situation in Somalia as being of serious concern.

"There are a significant number of UK residents training in Al Shabaab camps to fight in the insurgency there," he said. "I am concerned that it is only a matter of time before we see terrorism on our streets inspired by those who are today fighting alongside Al Shabaab." Sky News understands that some of the British nationals who have gone to Somalia have been killed during fighting this year.

On the increasing number of incidents in Northern Ireland, Mr Evans admitted: "Perhaps we were giving insufficient weight to the pattern of history over the last 100 years, which shows that whenever the main body of Irish republicanism has reached a political accommodation and rejoined constitutional politics, a hardliner rejectionist group would fragment off and continue with the so-called 'armed struggle'."

There was also a warning that the London Olympics would be a target for terrorism and cyber-terrorism was now a major threat to the security and therefore a national priority.

Posted on 09/17/2010 4:18 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 17 September 2010
Five Algerians Held In Pope Plot Terror Swoop

Breaking news, just updated - the most detailed report so far is on Sky News.

Five Algerian men have been arrested over a potential threat to the Pope, Sky News sources say. Armed counter-terror officers swooped on a business premises in central London in the early hours of the morning. The suspects, who are aged 26, 27, 36, 40 and 50, are being held and questioned under the Terrorism Act 2000

Sky News crime correspondent Martin Brunt said: "The Pope's itinerary continues today. His security arrangements have been reviewed and nothing has changed in terms of the level of protection around him. I was at a briefing last week around the whole issue of the Pope's security and the point was made then that there was no known threat or intelligence to subggest a plot against the Pope. What the police are dealing with today is something that has cropped up in the last 24 hours."

The business where the arrests were made is now being searched, as well as homes in north and east London. Details of the alleged plot are so far scarce, Sky sources say that although the suspects are Algerian the plot did not originate overseas.

A quintet of mature men for His Holiness! Trios of 'youths' are sooo last hijra.

Latest update :-

Sky News crime correspondent Martin Brunt said he understood the men were Algerian nationals employed by the agency to work for Westminster City Council.He said they were due to clean streets around the House of Commons, where the Pope is due to speak, prompting police to launch the operation to arrest them.

Dr Leith Penny, Westminster City Council's director for city management, said

"While police investigations are ongoing and no charges have been brought, we can confirm that the people at the centre of the investigation work for one of our contractors, Veolia Environmental Services, who employ 650 on-street staff to keep Westminster's streets clean and free from rubbish. Veolia and Westminster City Council work closely with the relevant authorities to constantly ensure that all the people working on their behalf are subject to right to work checks as prescribed by the Home Office to assess their eligibility to work in the country. We are confident that these checks are robust and we will continue to work with the police and other authorities during this investigation."

And wonders will never cease, the Guardian has admitted that the men are "believed to be Muslim."

Posted on 09/17/2010 7:00 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 17 September 2010
More on that Wellesley Middle School Field Trip

Today, Americans for Peace and Tolerance released a video showing 6th graders from Wellesley, MA as they rise from prostrating themselves alongside Muslim men in a prayer to Allah while on a public school field trip to the largest mosque in the Northeast.  Teachers did not intervene. Parents have not been told.

The video was taken inside the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center - Boston's controversial Saudi-funded mega-mosque - during a Wellesley Middle School social studies trip to the mosque, ostensibly taken to learn about the history of Islam first-hand. Yet the video reveals that the students are being blatantly mis-educated about Islam. A mosque spokesperson is seen teaching the children that in Mohammed's 7th century Arabia women were allowed to vote, while in America women only gained that right a hundred years ago. This seems to be an increasingly recurring theme in American schools - the denigration of western civilization and the glorification of Islamic history and values. In fact, just recently, the American Textbook Council revealed that the New York State high school regents exam whitewashes the atrocities that occurred during the imperialistic Islamic conquest of Christian Byzantium, Persia, the African continent, and the Indian subcontinent, even as it demonizes European colonialism in South America.

The mosque spokesperson also taught the students that the only meaning of Jihad in Islam is a personal spiritual struggle, and that Jihad has historically had no relationship with holy war. As far as we know, the school has not corrected these false lessons.

For the past three years we've been sounding the alarm about  the radical leadership and Saudi funding of the Boston mega-mosque and the organization that runs it, the Muslim American Society, which has been labeled by Federal prosecutors as "the overt arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in America."

The Islamic Society of Boston was founded by Abdulrahman Alamoudi, who is currently serving 23 years in jail on terror charges. For years, its board of trustees included Yusuf al Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood who was banned by Bill Clinton from the United States in 1999. Qaradawi now chairs the Muslim American Society's university, which offers classes inside the mosque.  Over half the mosque's $15.5 million price tag was funded by wealthy Saudis and since it opened, several of its leaders, donors and members have been implicated in Islamic extremism.

Oussama Ziade, a big donor to the mosque, is now a fugitive in Lebanon after being  indicted in 2009 for dealing in the assets of an Al Qaeda financier.  Ahmad Abousamra, the son of the Boston Muslim American Society's former vice-president Abdulbadi Abousamra, is now a fugitive in Syria, fleeing the country before being indicted in 2009 on charges of aiding Al Qaeda. One of the mosque's imams, Abdullah Faaruuq, was captured on tape in 2010 telling followers to "pick up the gun and the sword" and to defend another local terrorist Aafia Siddiqui from the U.S. government. Siddiqui, who was one of the imam's congregants, is an MIT graduate and Al Qaeda memberawaiting sentencing for attempting to murder FBI agents in Afghanistan while shouting "death to America." (LINK)

The mosque leadership continues to be embraced by top Massachusetts political and religious leaders. These include Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, as well as a group of local progressive rabbis and Christian clergy, who all insist despite evidence to the contrary that the mosque is moderate and its critics are just bigots.

Indeed, this is a familiar refrain by leaders nationwide in response to the increasing public realization that Islamic leaders are not as moderate as they present themselves. Radicalism is growing and many moderate Muslims have been silenced. In various parts of the country, public schools are allowing Muslim extremists to promote Islam to our children. Something's broken here. Our leadership is failing. It's now up to ordinary citizens to fix it.

Posted on 09/17/2010 6:58 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Friday, 17 September 2010
A Musical Interlude: Moonlight On The Highway (Al Bowlly)

Listen here.

Posted on 09/17/2010 10:02 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 17 September 2010
Obama's "Islam Has Made The World A Better Place" (In French)

Présidence Obama: La foi musulmane a tant fait au long des siècles pour le monde (Islam has done so much over so many centuries for the world)

What genocide?
Après tout, qui parle encore aujourd'hui de l'annihilation des Arméniens? Hitler (le 22 août 1939)
Le génocide arménien n'est pas une allégation, une opinion personnelle, ou un point de vue, mais un fait largement documenté et appuyé par un nombre important de preuves historiques. (...) L'Amérique mérite un dirigeant qui parle avec véracité du génocide arménien et qui condamne fermement tous les génocides. J'ai l'intention d'être ce président. Barack Hussein Obama (site Internet de sa campagne présidentielle, janvier 2008)
Nous exprimerons notre appréciation profonde de la foi musulmane qui a tant fait au long des siècles pour améliorer le monde, y compris mon propre pays. Barack Hussein Obama (discours devant le parlement turc, avril 2009)
Nous affirmons notre solidarité avec le Soudan et notre rejet des décisions de la CPI concernant le président Béchir (...) et nous soutenons l'unité du Soudan. Amr Moussa (Déclaration finale du sommet de la Ligue arabe, Doha, le 30 mars 2009)
L'esclavage fait partie de l'Islam. L'esclavage fait encore partie du jihad, et le jihad durera aussi longtemps que l'Islam. Cheikh Saleh Al-Fawzan (imam saoudien, nov . 2003)
Ma conscience refuse la négation et l'insensibilité vis à vis de la Grande Catastrophe qu'ont subie les Arméniens ottomans en 1915. Je refuse cette injustice, je partage les sentiments et la douleur de mes frères et sœurs arméniens et je leur demande pardon. Cengiz Aktar, Ali Bayramoglu, Ahmet ?nsel et Bask?n Oran (pétition d'intellectuels turcs suivie de 30 000 signatures, décembre 2008)
J'ai donc dû prendre acte du fait que, au delà de la situation caractérisée par la domination du phénomène des extrémistes et du terrorisme islamique au niveau mondial, la racine du mal se trouve dans un islam qui est physiologiquement violent et historiquement conflictuel. (...) Si nous sommes incapables, ici en Italie, berceau du catholicisme, de garantir à tous la pleine liberté religieuse, comment pourrions-nous l'être quand nous dénonçons la violation de cette liberté dans d'autres pays du monde? Magdi Allam

Après les racines musulmanes de l'Europe de Chirac, voici... l'islam bienfaiteur de l'humanité d'Obama!

Asservissement de l'Iran, déchristianisation de l'Afrique du nord, pillage de Byzance, destruction de toute trace du bouddhisme afghan, massacre de dizaines de millions d'Hindous, conversions forcées et nettoyage ethnique dans les Balkans, siècles d'enlèvements et de pillages des chrétiens des côtes méditerranéennes, épuration religieuse du Levant comme de l'ensemble du « Monde musulman », siècles de traite des Africains, régression ou stagnation culturelles et économiques de la plupart des nations du Moyen-orient ...

Sans compter la peine capitale pour apostasie, les mutilations et châtiments corporels d'un autre âge, la pédophilie institutionalisée, l'enfermement des femmes, la dhimmitude, les ghetto juifs, l'étoile jaune, les légions SS, la théorisation de la dissimulation et de la perfidie comme de la guerre sainte ...

Alors qu'au mépris de la légalité internationale et d'Asmara (Erythrée) à Doha et au Caire, le monde musulman vient de faire un triomphe au génocidaire en chef du Darfour...

Qu'au large de la Corne de l'Afrique, la piraterie a repris comme aux plus beaux jours des razzias barbaresques (111 attaques, 42 bateaux et 250 otages pour un butin de 30 millions de dollars pour 2008) ...

Et que, cette fois devant le parlement d'un pays musulman qui près d'un siècle plus tard ne reconnaît toujours pas le génocide de sa population chrétienne (arménienne, assyrienne ou grecque), l'auteur du hold up du siècle et premier locataire multiculturel de la Maison blanche poursuit ses courbettes (littéralement) devant le monde musulman ...

Le cofondateur du site américain Jihad watch Hugh Fitzgerald rappelle lui aussi « notre appréciation profonde de la foi musulmane qui a tant fait au long des siècles pour améliorer le monde, y compris mon propre pays » ...

Islam has « shaped the world for the better »?
Hugh Fitzgerald
Jihad watch
April 8, 2009

According to some reports, Obama said yesterday that Islam has « shaped the world for the better. »

Did the « gift of the Arabs » to Iran make Iranian civilization better? Is it not truer to say that despite Islam, Iranian poets such as Sa'adi, Hafiz, Firdowsi, Omar Khayyam, managed to sing unislamically of wine and women? (And they sang of women not as loot, not as slaves, not as inferiors, but as objects of desire and affection in a way that non-Muslim man can understand.) Did they not manage to withstand the cultural and linguistic imperialism of the Arabs, of which Islam has been, is, and always will be a vehicle?

Did Islam's arrival in North Africa, and the disappearance of the rich Christian culture (remember both Augustine and Tertullian were from North Africa, and Monica, Augustine's mother, was a Berber), « shape the world » of formerly Christian North Africa « for the better »?

Did the artistic riches of Byzantium, of Constantinople (for a thousand years the most important city in Christendom), so many destroyed, others vandalized beyond recognition, when the Muslims took over, end up « for the better » when Islam conquered the Byzantine Greeks?

Did the artistic achievements and inheritance, the artifacts and monuments, of Buddhism in Central Asia, did the stupas and the steles of Greco-Bactrian culture in what is now Afghanistan flourish, or disappear forever when Islam « changed for the better » this part of the world?

Did the temple complexes of the Hindus, did the temples of the Jains, did the civilization of India, improve when Muslim conquerors came? Did India change « for the better » because of the arrival of Islam? When Muslims killed 60-70 million Hindus, and forced others to convert if they wished to avoid either immediate death, or the horrors of life as, at best, dhimmis under Muslim rule, was this a change « for the better »?

Did the rich Hindu and Buddhist civilization of the East Indies - consider Borobudur, for example - replaced almost everywhere by Islam, and with the consequent esthetic and mental impoverishment that the narrow limiting of artistic expression, and the discouragement of free and skeptical inquiry, that are both such remarkably stable features of Islam, even though so contra naturam, did that Hindu and Buddhist civilization change, under Islam, « for the better »?

Did Greece, did Bulgaria, did Serbia, did the rest of the Balkans, change for the better » when the Ottoman Turks arrived, leading some to convert out of a desire to protect themselves? What are Bosnian Muslims if not the descendants of Serbs who converted, just as Pakistanis and Indian Muslims are merely the descendants of Hindus who sought to escape the crushing conditions of life for non-Muslims during the centuries of Muslim rule, so much more aurangzeb than akbar? Was the child-snatching of the « devshirme » system, where Christian (and Jewish children) were taken to serve as Janissaries, a change « for the better »?

Was the arrival of Islam in Syria-Lebanon for the pre-existing Christians - Maronites and others - a change « for the better »?

Was the arrival of Islam in Black Africa, through the Arab slave traders who began their cruel work, seizing black African boys, castrating them on the spot, in the bush, and then bringing them by slave coffle and dhow to the slave markets of Islam, a change, for those black Africans, « for the better »? Islam legitimizes, for all time, in its immutable texts, the rightness, the justness, of slavery. Slavery was only abolished among Muslims by the fiat of outside European powers (as France in Morocco and Algeria, or by the Royal Navy suppressing the Arab slave trade with Africa in the late 19th century, with intermittent booster shots of naval power displayed through much of the early 20th century) or by international pressure from the West, as when Saudi Arabia, but only in 1962, formally abolished slavery - though of course it continues, informally, right through to today. Did Islam, which allows slavery, and has never experienced a Muslim Wilberforce, change things « for the better »?

Did the arrival of Islam make artistic expression freer? Did the arrival of Islam anywhere make more likely the cultivation of free and skeptical inquiry? Did the arrival of Islam, and its view of men as « slaves of Allah » who must acquire the habit of mental submission, anywhere lead to a cultural flowering that was not present before, or that was not the product of Arabic-speaking Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians, or those who were merely a generation away from being Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians, and still raised up in, or greatly affected by, such a non-Muslim milieu?

Tell us where, and tell us in detail, about how the arrival and steady spread of Islam, where it did spread, and was not opposed, made the world « a better place »?

Tell us.

We're all ears.

Posted on 09/17/2010 10:29 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 17 September 2010
In a very real sense ...

If we all take a holistic happroach to harmony, the world can be, in a very real sense, our oyster. Robert Wright puts the world to wrights:

[T]he adherents of a given religion, like everyone else, focus on things that confirm their attitudes and ignore things that don't. And they carry that tunnel vision into their own scripture; if there is hatred in their hearts, they'll fasten onto the hateful parts of scripture, but if there's not, they won't. That's why American Muslims of good will can describe Islam simply as a religion of love. They see the good parts of scripture, and either don't see the bad or have ways of minimizing it.

So too with people who see in the Bible a loving and infinitely good God. They can maintain that view only by ignoring or downplaying parts of their scripture.

For example, there are those passages where God hands out the death sentence to infidels. In Deuteronomy, the Israelites are told to commit genocide - to destroy nearby peoples who worship the wrong Gods, and to make sure to kill all men, women and children. ("You must not let anything that breathes remain alive.")

As for the New Testament, there's that moment when Jesus calls a woman and her daughter "dogs" because they aren't from Israel. In a way that's the opposite of anti-Semitism - but not in a good way. And speaking of anti-Semitism, the New Testament, like the Koran, has some unflattering things to say about Jews.

Devoted Bible readers who aren't hateful ignore or downplay all these passages rather than take them as guidance. They put to good use the tunnel vision that is part of human nature.

All the Abrahamic scriptures have all kinds of meanings - good and bad - and the question is which meanings will be activated and which will be inert. It all depends on what attitude believers bring to the text. So whenever we do things that influence the attitudes of believers, we shape the living meaning of their scriptures. In this sense, it's actually within the power of non-Muslim Americans to help determine the meaning of the Koran. If we want its meaning to be as benign as possible, I recommend that we not talk about burning it. And if we want imams to fill mosques with messages of brotherly love, I recommend that we not tell them where they can and can't build their mosques.

Of course, the street runs both ways. Muslims can influence the attitudes of Christians and Jews and hence the meanings of their texts. The less threatening that Muslims seem, the more welcoming Christians and Jews will be, and the more benign Christianity and Judaism will be. (A good first step would be to bring more Americans into contact with some of the overwhelming majority of Muslims who are in fact not threatening.)

You can even imagine a kind of virtuous circle: the less menacing each side seems, the less menacing the other side becomes - which in turn makes the first side less menacing still, and so on; the meaning of the Abrahamic scriptures would, in a real sense, get better and better and better.

Onward and upward, round and round. Triangulate and square the circle. All's Wright with the world. The lion shall lie down with the lamb. And if the lamb is really nice to the lion, it won't get eaten.

I first saw this vapid twaddle at Harry's Place, dominated these days by an American called Gene. Gene is desperately seeking homeopathic traces of good in Islam, and shutting his eyes to the evidence. He generally censors articulate, temperate comments critical of Islam, while leaving stupid, insulting or racist ones to stand, thus creating the impression that all critics of Islam are stupid, insulting or racist. However, one "Reza", an apostate from Iran, has managed so far to escape this draconian censorship and trounces Wright thus:

Yet another fantastical and wilfully simplistic post that uses every opportunity to get it completely wrong.

The only part of the Bible that might be slightly comparable to the Koran is the Ten Commandments. That is, if one assumes that the majority of Jews and Christians believe them to more or less reflect the actual words that god is believed to have said to Moses.

The Koran on the other hand is considered, by the overwhelming majority of mainstream religious Muslims, to be the absolute verbatim words of Allah 'revealed' to Mohammad around 1400 years ago. 'God' is the only author of the Koran. To Muslims it is, in effect, a medieval 'tape-recording' of 'god's' voice.

The Bible on the other hand is almost overwhelmingly believed by mainstream Muslims and Jews to be a combination of witness-statements, history, parable as well as revelation. Also, virtually all Jews and Christians accept that it was documented over centuries by many different people. You'd be very hard pushed to find many Jews or Christians who will argue that every word in their Bibles is the absolute, verbatim, voice of god.

So, when a Christian or Jew reads in the Bible that God tells Jews to kill followers of other gods, they don't think for a minute that they're being commanded to kill the Singh family who live next door, or even that in an 'ideal world' the Singhs ought to be killed.

A religious Muslim on the other hand is very likely to believe that in an 'deal world' the homosexual next door or the apostate over the road ought to be killed. Because his god unequivocally says so. Hell, if he considers himself to be a good enough Muslim he might even kill the apostate himself. His 'god' tells him, that in the case of an apostate, he can even take the matter into his own hands.

The reason why 33% of young British Muslims agree that apostates should be killed is not because they're 'bad' Muslims. It is because they believe that the Koran is the very word of their 'god'. Therefore, they are being 'good' Muslims.

The other main issue is 'context'. Non-Muslim apologists, wilful thinking cultural relativists, sanctimonious multiculturalists and cretins like Karen Armstrong apply context to the suras, and compare them to passages in the Bible.

A 'good' Muslim however will tell you that the Koran has no 'context'.

It is for all time.

The final point is the perfection of prophets. The Judeo Christian prophets are imperfect. No one believes that their every example should be followed.

'Good' Muslims on the other hand believe that Mohammad was 'perfect'. His every example should be followed.

Gene, no matter how much you want to reality to reflect your wishfull ideal, you can't create that ideal out of untruths.

Posted on 09/17/2010 10:47 AM by Mary Jackson
Friday, 17 September 2010
Venn Diagram Quiz

Pictured below is a Venn diagram showing three virtuous circles triangulating together:

Questions for study and discussion:

  1. Just how much virtue is there in the intersection of the three virtuous circles?
  2. If A represents Christianity, B represents Judaism and C represents Islam, why can't we all just get along?
  3. A virtuous circle has two sides.  The less menacing each side seems, the less menacing the other side becomes. - which in turn makes the first side less menacing still, and so on; the meaning of the Abrahamic scriptures would, in a real sense, get better and better and b_tter. [Fill in the letter to make a word that rhymes with letter. If you can do this without following the link, so much the ... er.....]
  4. A virtuous circle has three sides, each one better than the last, and, in a real sense, better than the next.  Then which of the bounties of your Lord will ye deny?*

*Do not attempt to answer this question.

Posted on 09/17/2010 12:06 PM by Mary Jackson
Friday, 17 September 2010
Sixth arrest in Pope 'terror plot' probe

From The Independent

A sixth man was being questioned tonight by counter-terrorism detectives investigating a plot to attack the Pope. Scotland Yard said the suspect, aged 29, was held by officers at a home in north London shortly before 2pm. A spokesman said he was arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000 on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.

Tonight, police were searching eight homes in north and east London and two business premises in central London, including a street-cleaning depot. Five street cleaners were arrested at gunpoint as armed officers swooped on their base as they prepared to start their shift shortly before 6am. They work for Veolia Environmental Services, a contractor which employs 650 on-street staff to keep the streets of Westminster clean.

Searches of the depot and their homes in north and east London did not reveal any weapons or suspicious materials. But senior detectives said they were compelled to act after a tip-off about suspicious activity late last night.

Posted on 09/17/2010 12:48 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 17 September 2010
Being Jewish Is Easy In Israel, Even On Yom Kippur

Brian of London writes:

Tonight the Yom Kippur Day of Attonment for Jews begins. Many people know that Jews don't eat or drink for around 25 hours (sun down to sun down) but few know what actually happens on Yom Kippur in modern, non-religious, Israel. What I'm going to write below, many Jews in the UK don't know. I didn't know this till I moved here!

Maybe it isn't so clear to Jews or others outside of Israel what happens on Yom Kippur in Israel. Cars stop for the day. They just stop. It looks like a post apocalypse movie where the oil ran out one night and all we have left are bicycles and roller blades.

As far as I can tell (people are very vague on this) there really is no enforceable law against driving, it just isn't done. The police could stop you, but they'd just ask why you were driving, tell you to be careful and let you go. There is no religious police to enforce this kind of thing in Israel as it isn't a religious state.

Now it is true that this happens on every Sabbath in places where observant, religious Jews live in large majority: parts of Jerusalem, highly religious towns like Tzfat (Safed, Zefad, whatever) and many others: but on a regular Sabbath in Tel Aviv Friday night traffic is bad and the restaurants serving pork or shell fish are full to overflowing (some of them like to combine pork, prawns and dairy products in one dish to break as many of the Kosher rules as possible in one go).

On Yom Kippur, however, everything stops. Non-observant Jews and observant Jews alike, just hide the car keys. For sure, if your kid falls off his bike or your wife goes into labor and needs the hospital nobody (from both those communities) would think twice about driving the car to the hospital.

But on Yom Kippur the non-religious Jews just organize their lives such that they don't need to drive.

For sure most of them will not fast, and they probably stock up on downloaded movies or DVD's because the state TV channels shut down (but there's plenty of other cable channels).

But they just don't DRIVE their cars. The air smells good, the visibility gets better and from sundown to sundown the streets are full of people strolling or cycling along 10 lane highways. People have found a way to organize their lives that for just one day a year, nobody drives except for emergencies.

I left my apartment to have a look last year and I saw one pickup truck and 3 policecars moving. Slowly. Through the crowds of children on bikes on roads equivalent to the M1 or the London North Circular.

Below is a slideshow of what that looks like in Tel Aviv that I found on YouTube, there are many more videos but this kind of gives a good idea.

Slideshow Yom Kippur in Tel Aviv on YouTube

Video of streets without cars

So why is being Jewish so different when you're in Israel. Well there has never in my recollection (and when I've searched) been a Jew in England who's publicly got upset by anyone eating, even in front of him, on Yom Kippur. Jews have never, and will never I assure you, ask you to stop driving for a day. It just won't ever happen. Even in our own country this isn't a law, its just something the vast majority of Jews want to do because over here, it just feels right.

That is the difference between living as a Jew in England and as a Jew in Israel: here we can just BE Jewish and the calendar and the customs and norms push us into being culturally Jewish even if we don't want to study the Torah 9 hours a day.

Jews don't want anywhere else, we just want this one tiny little place to feel Jewish in.

Gmar Chatima Tova to you all!

Posted on 09/17/2010 1:22 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Friday, 17 September 2010
Fmr. Spanish President Forms Pro-Israel Group

Erick Stakelbeck reports for CBN News:

When Israeli commandoes boarded a ship full of anti-Israel activists and Islamic terrorists earlier this year, the world erupted in protest.

Not against the ship's radical occupants or the Turkish government that sponsored them - but against Israel.

It was the same story in 2009, when Israel struck back against Hamas terrorists in Gaza who'd been firing rockets into Israeli communities in southern Israel for years. The United Nations issued a report soon after condemning Israel's actions.

It's clear that Israel could use a few friends on the world stage -- and Jose Maria Aznar, the president of Spain from 1996 to 2004, has answered the call.

"The guilty one is Israel. Always the guilty one is Israel," Aznar told CBN News, shaking his head. "It's not true."

Aznar has launched an international initiative called "Friends of Israel" to defend the country's right to exist. Supporters include former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo, human rights activist and former Czech Republic President Vaclav Havel and John Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.

"If Israel goes down, we all go down," Aznar told CBN News.

"Israel is not just a Middle Eastern country," he continued. "It's a Western country in the Middle East. So if Israel is a part of the Western world and is eliminated as part of the Western world, this is a problem for all of us, not only for Israel."

"It would be a great victory for the enemies of democracy, for the enemies of freedom," he said.

Aznar said that, in addition to sharing a common foe in radical Islam, Israel and the West also share common values.

CBN News asked Aznar his thoughts on what Israel and the Jewish people have meant historically to Western civilization.

"I cannot explain Europe, I cannot explain my country, I cannot explain myself without referring to this heritage," he responded. "They share with us the same values: freedom, democracy, tolerance, pluralism, human rights."

As a former European head of state, Aznar is in a unique position to counter the anti-Israel sentiment often seen in the U.N. and Europe.

"The world is complicated," he said. "It is necessary to understand this and say, 'To delegitimize Israel is not a good policy. Trying to isolate Israel is not a good policy. And to demonize Israel is not a good policy.' Enough is enough."

Several U.S. lawmakers recently endorsed the Friends of Israel Initiative on Capitol Hill. Aznar expects the group to continue to grow. The threat posed to Israel by nuclear Iran is at the forefront of the Friends of Israel agenda.

"We have wasted a lot of time," Aznar said of the West's response to Iran's nuclear weapons program. "But we still have the opportunity to recover time, make the right decisions, and avoid a very difficult situation for the future."

Posted on 09/17/2010 4:23 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Friday, 17 September 2010
Australia: Gold Coast residents opposing mosque are told they have 'nothing to fear'

A truly astonishing puff-piece; especially in light of the recent news report on the jihad terror trial in Melbourne that related how a bunch of Muslims had sat in a mosque in Melbourne solemnly discussing the permissibility, under Islamic law, of a violent attack upon an Australian army base. 

From the ABC's Amy Simmons, loudly whistling in the dark.

'Residents against mosque have nothing to fear'.

'Proponents of a new Islamic worship centre planned for the Gold Coast have nothing to fear, according to a local imam and people who live close to mosques around the country.

'Residents of Worongary, in the Gold Coast hinterland, have hired a solicitor and formed an action group to protest the proposal for the centre to be built on Akira Way.  Last year there was a similar outcry over a plan to build an Islamic school at Carrara, 10 kilometres away.

'The Worongary residents say an Islamic worship centre (oho: so this is the latest euphemism for 'mosque', along with 'community centre' and 'cultural centre' - CM) would slash house prices in the area, bring down neighbourhood security, and increase anti-social behaviour.  (Sounds like they've been paying attention to the news reports from India, France, Israel, the UK, and...western Sydney - CM).  Some locals who recently moved to the area even say they will consider moving out if the centre is approved.

'But with 5000 Muslims living in the region, Gold Coast Islamic community leader and Labrador mosque imam Imraan Husain says there is a need for the development.  He says at present Muslims must travel to the Labrador mosque for prayers, weddings, funerals and festivals, and that a second centre in the south would assist the region's growing population.

'He says the initial reaction from residents has not been surprising.  "After all the things they hear, what's happening globally, people have this fear about Muslims", he told ABC local radio this morning.  (And why ever should they not, my dear Mr Husain? New York, Bali, Beslan. Madrid. London. Mumbai. Moscow, and many others less well known. And plots, plots, plots, plots to blow things up and kill people in large numbers...all hatched by Muslims, and Muslims only.  People aren't stupid, Mr Husain. CM).

"Maybe because of them not really living in an Islamic civilisation or having a real connection with an Islamic environment (??? - My dear Mr Husain, do you think we're stupid? Do you really think Aussies would prefer to live in, say, Pakistan or Saudi Arabia or Iran, rather than in Australia?  "An Islamic civilisation"?  Might that be...Indonesia?  Or Egypt?  Night-clubs and hotels being blown up? Mobs attacking churches? Little girls kidnapped and raped and 'converted' to Islam?  There's not one Islamic state nor heavily-Islamified suburb anywhere in the world where non-Muslims are truly free or safe. And more and more of us know that - CM), they have these fears of just what they hear of minor or a small group of radicals and what they do." (Ah yes, the tiny minority of extremists [TM] - CM).

'Imam Husein says he would be working closely with the centre if it is approved.  "They have to be inclusive and have an open-door policy and integrate with the broader Australian community so that the fear can eliminate and so people can realize that what happens behind those walls is nothing different to what happens in churches and synagogues and temples". (Really? Discussions about whether or not to wage combat jihad within Australia, such as took place within the four walls of the Omar bin Khattab mosque in Melbourne, not so long ago?  Do discussions just like that happen in every house of worship of every religion in Australia? Nonsense and lies, Mr Husain, nonsense and lies. Surah 9: 29 is what makes the difference; nobody else has anything quite the same as that - CM).

'Islamic Society of the Gold Coast president Hassan Goss says the reaction has been ridiculous. (No: rational - CM).

"I think what they should do is everyone take a cold shower, let's have a cup of coffee and sit around the table and say what we are actually going to do there", he said. "It would be just a small Islamic centre (observe he avoids the word 'mosque', it is acquiring connotations - CM), meaning there could be prayer there, tea and coffee, bringing the community together. For the travellers, travelling from Tweed or from Sydney heading north to Cairns, they have some place to stop off, do their prayers, freshen up and keep moving."

(And now a couple of well-trained Good Dhimmis are trotted out to reassure the unhappy residents of Worongary that everything will be hunky-dory - CM).

"People who live near mosques around the country are encouraging Worongary residents not to oppose the worship centre.  Jordan Brock used to rent a home in Northbridge, inner-city Perth, where he lived close to a mosque.  He says prior to September 11 he barely noticed it was there. (And afterwards?...there is something missing here...CM).  "The mosque has been there for well over 100 years and was renovated during the 1990s, which was when we moved into the area," he said. "We didn't have a great deal to do with the mosque for the first few years, and to be honest, we barely even noticed it was there.  There was certainly no evidence of it encouraging or increasing anti-social behaviour and it had no impact whatsoever upon neighbourhood security.  If there was any gathering of people on the street prior to prayers, services or functions at the mosque, they were certainly friendly and in no way threatening." (Ask the non-Muslim residents of certain parts of India, France, and Britain, Mr Brock, and find out what it will be like when the Muslim 'community' gets just a bit bigger and reaches critical mass...CM). 

'Mr Brock says nowadays the mosque hosts community gatherings and provides delicious food.  (But do they tell the dumb dhimmis-in-training about Aisha, and about the jizya, and about the Khaybar Oasis, and the Treaty of Hudaybiyya, and the verses of the Quran that advise Muslims to feign friendship so long as the Infidels are too many and too strong to subdue? - CM).

"After September 2001 the people in the mosque obviously felt the need to engage in the community a bit more and start educating their neighbours," he said, "So they started having a series of open days, where they provided free food and the tastiest lamb burgers you've ever eaten". (Mr Brock: I suggest you have a look at the Bukhari Hadith that says, 'We grin at some people, though our hearts hate them - CM).  He says people should visit a mosque and talk to the people who worship there before attempting to ban the construction of a worship centre.  Moreover, Mr Brock says he left Northbridge in 2005 because he could not afford to buy a house in the suburb due to rising property values.

'Kathryn Hegarty from Footscray in Victoria, who lives close to three mosques, says she enjoys the cultural diversity in her neighbourhood.  "My neighbours here are Muslim and life is unaffected, except the food aromas do put me to shame about 5.00 pm each night", Ms Hegarty said. (Why is everybody in these sorts of articles always talking about what wonderful food Muslims cook?   Hindus and Sikhs and Buddhists and Confucians and Jews cook amazing food that smells wonderful, too.  So why aren't we hearing about them? - CM).  She says she never has any security concerns. (She's a fool.  Wait till there are more Muslims and they feel stronger.  I happen to know of Hindu girls who were gang-raped in broad daylight when they unwisely walked into the midst of a Muslim 'festival' in India; and of far too many Christian and Hindu families from Pakistan, and Copts from Egypt, who have had their daughters snatched off the street  by Muslims - CM). "I feel safest in the African quarter of Footscray, especially at night, where people look out for each other, and the men seem to me to really respect women," she said.  (Paging Mary Jackson, I think we have our next 'dozy bint of the week' candidate, right here: Kathryn Hegarty from Footscray, Victoria - CM). "I feel so blessed here because we are rich in this country and immigration has just made us richer and we eat better as well".

'No evidence.

'Property and crime experts have also weighed into the controversy, saying many fears listed by the Worongary residents are unjustified.  

'Property  Planning Australia director Angelo Piazzetta says the assumption property values would decrease is "fundamentally wrong".  "The greatest threat residents would be facing in terms of their house prices would not be from the mosque", he said. "It would be more from the fact that there is a high level of properties already for sale in the area...and secondly, the ability to put more properties in the area is significantly high because there is a high level of vacant land in the area as well".  (Hmmmm - do I see an Islamic school and an Islamic gated community, just a little way down the track? - CM).  

'Mr Piazzetta says he is not aware of any suburb that has had a dramatic downturn in property values just because a religious building ('a religious building' - yet another way to avoid saying 'mosque' - CM) has gone ahead.  The most famous mosque in Australia is the one at Lakemba [in Sydney].  They've had 15 per cent growth compound over the past three years," he said. (But I'd be curious to know who exactly has been moving in, and who has been moving out - CM). "To say that they're being adversely affected by having a mosque in the area, I think, is just fundamentally wrong.  If anything, it would significantly increase the commercial opportunities for people - bakeries, corner stores - it opens up commercial opportunities". (Yes, but for whom?  Only Muslims run halal butcheries, for example - CM).

'The Australian Institute of Criminology says there is no evidence or research to suggest the presence of an Islamic building (observe, again, the reluctance to say 'mosque' - CM)  increases the incidence of crime in a neighbourhood. (Really? But how about the observable correlation between certain Aussie mosques and various jihad plots we've already detected and foiled? - CM).

'Worongary residents have until October 1 to lodge their objections and the approval process is then expected to take about 12 months.'

Good luck to the non-Muslims of Worongary, now facing the prospect of the imminent installation in their neighbourhood of a large forward base of what Winston Churchill called 'the religion of blood and war'.

Posted on 09/17/2010 3:22 PM by Christina McIntosh
Friday, 17 September 2010
Papal Bull

In honour of the Pope's visit, here's Billy Connolly. Not sure Americans will understand*, but it repays the effort. Whatev-ah.

*Or a meringue? (Is that a doughnut or a meringue? No, you're right, it's a doughnut.)

Posted on 09/17/2010 5:39 PM by Mary Jackson
Friday, 17 September 2010
Maid tortured, killed in Saudi Arabia

By Rodolfo C. Estimo Jr. for Arab News:

RIYADH: The sister of a Filipino housemaid brutally killed in the Eastern Province has called for those behind her death to be brought to justice.

Annabelle Eroy-Fuertes spoke out in public to pay tribute to Romilyn Eroy-Ibanez.


Ibanez died from acid burns and stab wounds. She was found in the kitchen of her employer's residence in Alkhobar with knife wounds in her neck, abdomen and wrist as well as acid burns on her face, arms and legs. She was taken to King Fahd Hospital by the Red Crescent.


My sister was a scholar of a Diocesan priest from elementary school until she completed college. She wanted to join the nunnery after college but because of poverty, she decided to work abroad," Fuertes said.


In Riyadh, Ambassador Antonio P. Villamor announced that the Philippine Embassy would hire the best lawyer to fight the case after a police investigation in Alkhobar had concluded and once the identity of the culprit had been established.

Uh huh.  Round up the usual suspects from the kufir quarter.

Posted on 09/17/2010 9:38 PM by Artemis Gordon Glidden
Friday, 17 September 2010
A Cinematic Musical Interlude: Yidl Mitn Fidl (Molly Picon, Simche Fostel)

Watch, and listen, here.

Posted on 09/17/2010 9:57 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 17 September 2010
Expressionist expression of the true prominence of Mubarak

Al Ahram's editor in chief, Osama Saraya, responded to criticism of the altered photo of Mubarak leading the procession of Obama, Netanyahu, Abbas, and Abd'allah, saying:

The expressionist photo is ... a brief, live and true expression of the prominent stance of President Mubarak in the Palestinian issue, his unique role in leading it before Washington or any other.

In the spirit of showing Mubarak's unique leading role in other areas of achievement, and with the same level of Photoshop prowess that we've come to expect from Pallywood, here are some brief, live, and true expressionistic photos submitted to Sarah Carr's blog:

Napoleon Mubarak conquering Egypt:

Napoleon Mubarak conquering Egypt

Mubarak winning the World Cup:

Mubarak winning the World Cup

Neil Mubarak, first man on the moon:

Neil Mubarak, first man on the moon

Posted on 09/17/2010 11:17 PM by Artemis Gordon Glidden

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