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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, 2, 2011.
Friday, 2 December 2011
Discriminate Thinker Reviews Berdichevsky's The Left is Seldom Right

The Discriminate Thinker writes:

It is undeniable that the Left is a great success in the United States and throughout Europe: from rebelling boomers who instigated the age of Aquarius to today's teenagers who wear Che Guevara tee-shirts, a large number of people identify themselves with the Left and accept unquestioningly its caricature of the Right.

This book is about the many wrong concepts and assumptions regarding important events in history that stem from an illusory Right-Left dichotomy disseminated by the Left and perpetuated with the support of the liberal media that dominates in the United States and most of Western Europe. A summary of all the offences of the Left often aided and abetted by the liberal media, can be summarised in a single phrase: fostering the close mind set of individuals.

Norman Berdichevsky is an American human geographer scholar from New York city who lived in Wisconsin where he did his PhD, as well as in Denmark and is presently based in Florida. Berdichevsky's own journey of learning has allowed him to see through the illusion of simplistic model of the Right-Left dichotomy and why such sources must be checked and double-checked when recording and analyzing history, especially when the original is in another language. Regardless of how this book will be received no one can deny the courage of its author in buying this fight with the powerful Left.

The Left is Seldom Right carries on from existing ideas on previous books such as John Goldberg's Liberal Fascism (2007), showing the inadequacy of the existing Right-Left model and how the administration of Wilson and FDR, two heroes of the American Left, not only called for greater centralization of power but also had a surge in human rights violations, two things that are usually associated with the Right. Another idea set that Berdichevsky uses is the book The God That Failed, a compilation of ten essays by Stephen Spender, R. H. S. Crossman, Arthur Koestler, Ignazio Silone, Richard Wright, Andre Gide and Louis Fisher, most of whom being former communists who became disillusioned by the Communist Party's manipulation of their idealism.

Over the past one hundred and fifty years the politicians of the Left have striven to inculcate associations between the 'Left' as the party which looks after the interests of the lower economic or social classes, the 'Right' as the party of the upper or dominant classes, and the 'Centre' as the party of the middle classes. This book denounces this association of class with political views as something totally out of touch with reality for there are many other factors that countervail economic status, like religion, ethnicity, historical memories, national interests, ethnic solidarity, and moral and philosophical values. Other misunderstandings and deceptions of the Left on various topics that were covered by the media with the use of the Right-Left terminology are also covered in this book.

Like a prosecuting attorney Berdichevsky presents the supporting evidence from facts and firsthand accounts of twenty-five case studies of major domestic and international crisis, wars, alliances, conflicts, issues, personalities and elections. Topping the list of accusations is the Left's vested interest in perpetuating the 'Left versus Right' cliché. In all these case studies he identifies instances of selective memory that obscured the existing contradictions as well as cases where the Left has actively contributed to the spreading of anti-American sentiment both outside and inside the United States, from its protection of militant Islam to its new toleration of anti-Semitism.

Another important topic of this book is the role of the liberal media in disseminating the wrong concepts and assumptions of the Left. In the case of the powerful media groups like The New York Times and the BBC there is an aggravated circumstance on the fact that many people accept their authority without question, which in itself is an unfair advantage to all contrary views including those that are corroborated with evidence. The author's own research experience and his knowledge of several foreign languages has allowed him to spot mistakes as well as deceptions even in those media empires, although he recognises that such blunders are often caused by unscrupulous third-rate reporters that eventually get caught out. One of the examples cited is Jayson Blair, a former journalist of The New York Times, who made up stories using fabricated sources and when exposed caused the resignation of Howell Raines, a highly regarded executive editor who had helped the paper to win several Pulitzer Prizes.

The open-minded have nothing to fear from the unpalatable truths of this book. The West is a product of inquiry and to survive it needs that people continue to ask questions. The painful questions in this book come with an important lesson, that many of the problems that the West faces today both nationally and internationally can best be managed with truth and openness. This is precisely what Berdichevsky did on this enlightening and thought provoking book.

Posted on 12/02/2011 6:00 AM by NER
Friday, 2 December 2011
Allowing women drivers in Saudi Arabia will be 'end of virginity'

From The Telegraph

Allowing women drivers in Saudi Arabia will tempt them into sex, promote pornography and create more homosexuals, according to some conservative Muslim scholars. Academics at the Majlis al-Ifta' al-A'ala, which is Saudi Arabia's highest religious council, said the relaxation of the rules would inevitably lead to “no more virgins”.

The academics, working in conjunction with Kamal Subhi, a former professor at the conservative King Fahd University, produced the conclusions in a report for the country's legislative assembly, the Shura Council. . . Within 10 years of the ban being lifted, it claimed, there would be "no more virgins" in the Islamic kingdom. I think the biggest threat to virginity in any Muslim country is the sharia law that permits girls to be married off at age 9 and allows slavery and concubinage. They might have more virgins if little girls were allowed to grow up and not be raped by old men.

It pointed out that "moral decline" could already be seen in those other Muslim countries in which women are allowed to drive. In the report Prof Subhi described sitting in a coffee shop in an unnamed Arab state where "all the women were looking at me. One made a gesture that made it clear that she was available,” he said. “This is what happens when women are allowed to drive.”

In September, Shaima Jastaniya, 34, a Saudi woman, was sentenced to 10 lashes with a whip after being caught driving in Jeddah.

The Saudi government is currently considering a proposal to ban women – already forced to cover up most of their body in public – from even displaying their eyes, if they are judged too “tempting”.

Posted on 12/02/2011 2:59 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 2 December 2011
Advent Pub sign 2
The Bell in Brandon Suffolk.
Posted on 12/02/2011 4:08 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 2 December 2011
A Muslim Apostate Defends the West: An Interview with Ibn Warraq

by Jerry Gordon (December 2011)

Ibn Warraq, a leading apostate from Islam, author of numerous critical works on the subject, is best described as a skeptic. Born a Muslim in India at the dawn of the partition of the British Raj into the modern nations of India and Pakistan, his family like millions of other Muslims, removed themselves to Pakistan. However, unlike others, his family saw fit to send both he and his elder brother to a boarding school in the English Midlands. For that prescient act, both Warraq and we are grateful. more>>>

Posted on 12/02/2011 8:18 AM by NER
Friday, 2 December 2011
'Banned' group protesters detained after US embassy demonstration

From the Independent.  and Sky News. Unfortunately I couldn't be with the EDL and MfE this morning to challenge them due to family committments; however I return home to good news.

A gang of 20 protesters were arrested outside the US embassy in London today on suspicion of representing the recently-banned extremist group Muslims Against Crusades. Activists said demonstrations over the use of American drones in Pakistan had been organised by a group calling itself United Ummah.

But Scotland Yard intervened this afternoon after members were linked to the banned group involved in the burning of poppies on Armistice Day last year.

A handful of protesters remain at the scene in central London this afternoon.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said that in addition to the 20 arrests surrounding the banned group, two others had been made for obstruction and violent disorder. "They are all in custody at central London police stations,"

Posted on 12/02/2011 9:13 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 2 December 2011
Only here for the love

A little joke for the weekend -- probably an oldie, but new to me:

A man was out for a drink with his wife last night when he said, "I love you".
She asked him, "Is that you or the beer talking?"
He said, "It's me........I was talking to the beer."

Posted on 12/02/2011 10:06 AM by Mary Jackson
Friday, 2 December 2011
Prospects For Syria, 1945
Read here.
Posted on 12/02/2011 12:45 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 2 December 2011
Shi'a Houthis And Uber-Sunnis (Salafis) Fighting In Yemen

From Yemen Today Magazine:

Tensions escalate between Houthis and Salafis in North Yemen

Mohammed al-Kibsi
Dec 2, 2011 - 7:30:15 PM
Fighting between al-Houthi  rebels and Sunni Islamists Salafis wounded at least 26 people in north Yemen on Wednesday, as the new prime minister worked to form a government under GCC initiative to avoid civil war by ensuring a peaceful power transition.

The deal adopted by GCC envisions a government chaired by opposition parties that lead 10 months of protests.

President Saleh signed the GCC brokered deal that was backed by UNSC  last week and transferred powers to his vice president Hadi, a step the plan's sponsors said will help end the impasse Yemen has slid into during the past 10 months of unrest.

One of the country's multiple, overlapping regional conflicts flared anew when Houthis   ‘ a Shi'ite Muslim sect’  fighters who have rebelled in a northern province along the Saudi border attacked Salafis ‘a Sunni Islamic sect’ whom they have fought over the last week.

A group of Yemeni Salafis -- Sunnis who hold a puritanical creed with followers in Saudi Arabia -- said fighters from the rebel Shi'ite Houthi movement attacked early on Wednesday in Damaj, 150 km (90 miles) north of the capital Sanaa.

A spokesperson of Salafis in Sa’adah province said several students of Dar al-Hadith religious school had been injured in shelling. His group said at least 25 people were killed in Houthi shelling in Dammaj district of Sa’ada province on Saturday and Sunday.
Local sources from Sa’ada said that over 500 Algerian students studying in Dar al-Hadith and their families stranded and could not go back to their country or even have communication with their families back in Algeria.
The sources said that the Algerian students could not even communicate with their embassy in Sana’a because the Algerian authorities did not know about them.

Houthis have accused the Salafis in Sa’adah of working to build military encampments near the Saudi border.

The escalations came as Yemen's  interim prime minister Mohammed Basindwah, a former foreign minister who joined the opposition, worked to form a transitional government that he has said will be set in days.

Sources in the opposition said talks with the ruling party were underway on forming a security committee tasked in part with separating the forces of Saleh's partisans and defected army troopers and Islamist militias and tribal fighters affiliated to Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar  who have fought in the capital.

In the south the Yemeni wing of al-Qaeda known as the AQAP fears are arose that AQAP could find a foothold, an older political conflict also overshadows the Gulf plan.
Members of MAWJ a secessionist movement who want to undo the territorial union that Saleh presided over in 1990 marched through the southern port of Aden on Wednesday, carrying flags of the former South Yemen, a socialist republic.

The march, which commemorated the 44th anniversary of the south's independence from Britain, reflected the antipathy many southerners feel over the region's treatment under union, which erupted into civil war in 1994.

Tens of thousands have been displaced from the southern Abyan province due to fighting between AQAP who have seized several districts of Aban province and Yemeni forces.

Nearly a year of political unrest has deepened the poverty ratio.  A U.N. official said on Tuesday that millions of people were facing a humanitarian crisis.

U.N. assistant secretary-general and deputy emergency relief coordinator Catherine Bragg, after a visit to Yemen, warned of "some of the world's highest malnutrition rates, a breakdown of essential services and a looming health crisis."
Posted on 12/02/2011 12:48 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 2 December 2011
Fanatical Iranians Exhibit Hydrophobia

From Reuters:

Iran cleric warns EU, UN against backing Britain

December 2, 2011

By Mitra Amiri and Hashem Kalantari

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Crowds chanted "Death to Britain" at Tehran University on Friday prayers as a hardline Iranian cleric warned the U.N. and European Union against siding with London after students and militia stormed the British embassy in Tehran.

Cleric Ahmad Khatami denounced those who tied themselves to "the rotten rope of Britain" including the EU - which may slap more sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program - as a group involved in the embassy's ransacking prepared to give Iranian diplomats expelled from Britain a hero's welcome home.

Britain evacuated its diplomats from Tehran and closed down the Iranian embassy in London after scores of Basiji militia men and radical students sacked the embassy and a residential compound on Tuesday.

In response, the biggest EU countries withdrew their ambassadors and the United Nations Security Council said it "condemned in the strongest terms" the attack.

Khatami told worshippers that the Security Council was showing itself to be as bad Britain, which Iranian hardliners believe is plotting to bring down their Islamic system.

"Issuing a statement against Iran means falling into a well with the rotten rope of Britain," Khatami said to chants of "Death to Britain."

Khatami also warned Britain's EU partners, which tightened sanctions on Tehran on Thursday and are considering banning Iranian oil imports, against closing ranks with London.

"If you have just a bit of wisdom, you won't tie your rope to the rotten rope of Britain," he said.

Rising tensions with the world's fifth biggest oil exporter pushed up global oil prices despite concerns of a sustained economic downturn in the West. Brent crude rose toward $110 a barrel on Friday.

With international pressure on Tehran rising, EU foreign ministers laid out the plans on Thursday for a possible embargo on Iranian oil in response to growing Western suspicions that the Islamic Republic aims to build nuclear weapons.

Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful but the U.N. nuclear watchdog body issued a report last month which suggested it has worked on designing an atom bomb.


Iranian diplomats expelled from London were due to arrive in Tehran in the early hours of Saturday and the Basij militia said it would have a welcoming committee for them at the International Imam Khoneini Airport outside the capital.

Iran's Foreign Ministry expressed regret over the embassy invasion which it said was a spontaneous overflowing of anger during a peaceful protest by students.

However, Britain says there must have been at least tacit approval by the ruling establishment.

Reformist website Sahamnews issued a statement by a group of students at the Islamic Azad university condemning the attack and saying the hardliners did not represent the view of most young Iranians.

"The indecent and obscene nature of this move is clear to everyone, but misusing the name of student is something we cannot easily let pass. There is no connection between what these people did and the honorable and sensible Iranian students," the statement said.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has yet to comment publicly on the attack - underscoring analysts' views that the faction-driven government has mixed feelings about the event that is likely to lead to further international isolation.

Parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani, a long-time rival to Ahmadinejad, immediately condemned the U.N. reaction to the embassy storming as "hasty" and "devious."

British diplomats were evacuated after their offices and living quarters were ransacked.

The historic 135-year-old embassy residence in a wooded compound in downtown Tehran, used by the ambassador to host official dinners, was said to have been "systematically destroyed" during the onslaught.

One western diplomat who visited the scene on Thursday said priceless oil paintings has been slashed and that the protesters had cut the face out of a portrait of Queen Victoria.[of course, depictions of living creatures deserve to be slashed, for they violate the Islamic prohibition on such depictions. Take that, curators at the National Gallery, the Louvre, the Rijksmuseum, the Prado, the Alte Pinakothek] There were no reports of harm to diplomatic staff.

Posted on 12/02/2011 11:24 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 2 December 2011
A Musical Interlude With Video: Booty Suite (Parov Stelar)

Watch, and listen, here.

Liner Notes:

The song's lyrics can be found here. 

A performance on stage can be seen here.

The original version --  Lil Hardin Armstrong's Oriental Swing -- can be found here.

Posted on 12/02/2011 11:43 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 2 December 2011
Middle aged gangsta rappers switching to gin and tonic

This is my third post in a row about drink, and my December article starts off in a pub. I'm never going to get into Islamic heaven at this rate. Anyway, here's Newsbiscuit with a biscuit of news:

As gangsta rappers enter their middle age, a growing trend is being seen to mix tonic with their gin, rather than juice. Rappers are changing their drinking habits in line with their age.

Previously, some rappers would sing popular rhymes about how they would cruise down the strip, smoking endos and sipping on gin and juice. The words of such songs have now been changed to reflect their more civilised outlook on their surroundings. Snoop Doggy Dogg now raps that he still cruises down the strip, smoking endo, sipping on gin and tonic.

‘For me it was the ideal change,’ said Mr Dogg, ‘it is a hard life to be hanging with my homies all day, avoiding the gangbangers and the car jackers, and trying to find the bitches. What is necessary is an afternoon aperitif to soothe the brain and calm the nerves. I find the youthful drink of gin and juice so vulgar. I was delighted to change the mixer to tonic. Obviously, the diet version. And it is divine with a slice of lime and an ice cube.’

Speaking of Ice Cube, the aging ex-member of pioneering rap group NWA is now more than partial to medium sweet sherry in the afternoon. Famous for rapping songs that contained lyrics such as, ‘none of my homies got killed in South Central LA, today was a good day,’ Mr Cube has now revised his songs to include the lyrics, ‘None of my sweet sherry got spilled on my antique silver tray, today was a good day.’

Finally, pioneering rapper and producer Dr Dre has revealed his partiality for Snowball cocktails. ‘I have fond memories of studying for my PhD,’ he said, ‘and I really enjoyed a nice snowball during moments of writer’s block. Obviously, I have experimented with other drinks, most notably ‘Jagerbull’ which is apparently number one in the USA, according to my local Wetherspoon’s, but for me, there is nothing better than a few snowballs. I love everything to do with Advocaat.

Ice-T was unavailable for comment, although was last seen somewhere in Long Island.

Like most middle-aged men, rappers may find that their bladders can no longer hold all that liquid. But don't worry, there is a remedy: P-Diddy.

Posted on 12/02/2011 1:30 PM by Mary Jackson
Friday, 2 December 2011
A day in the life of a dog/cat

Cats and dogs, even though it rains both, are different. From some blog or other, and probably from some email or other:

Excerpts from a Dog’s Daily Diary:

doghappy.jpg8:00 am – Dog food! My favorite thing!
9:30 am – A car ride! My favorite thing!
9:40 am – A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30 am – Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
12:00 pm – Lunch! My favorite thing!
1:00 pm – Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
3:00 pm – Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
5:00 pm – Milk bones! My favorite thing!
7:00 pm – Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8:00 pm – Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!
11:00 pm – Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!

Excerpts from a Cat’s Daily Diary:


Day 683 of my captivity:

My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects.They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets.

Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength.

The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the floor.

Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a “good little hunter” I am. The audacity!

There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of “allergies.” I must learn what this means, and how to use it to my advantage.

Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow– but at the top of the stairs.

I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released — and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded!

The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicate with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe…for now…

Posted on 12/02/2011 3:14 PM by Mary Jackson
Friday, 2 December 2011
We Have Been Warned: CSI Issues Genocide Warning

While the World Council of Churches and mainline Protestant churches in the U.S. remain relatively silent about the ongoing violence against Christians in the Middle East, Christian Solidarity International (CSI) rings the bell loudly by issuing a genocide warning.

The Christian Post reports:

Dr. John Eibner, CEO of Christian Solidarity International, said: "Conditions for genocide against non-Muslim communities exist in varying degrees throughout the region stretching from Pakistan to Morocco. The crisis of survival for non-Muslim communities is especially acute in Iraq, Syria, Egypt,Sudan, the Palestinian territories, Iran and Pakistan."

In an interview with The Christian Post, Dr. Eibner said the Arab Spring has “unleashed radical Islamist forces - forces that regard Christians and other non-Muslim minorities as 'kufar' (infidels). When we look objectively at the situation in the region…the outbreak of war in the region could result in the very quick eradication of non-Muslim communities.” (Links in original not included in quote.)

In a letter to President Barack Obama, Eibner issued a ringing declaration that stands in stark contrast to the silence of the church establishment in the U.S. which for the most part, has said very little about the ongoing attacks against Christians in the Middle East. Eibner wrote in part:

Most acts of Islamic supremacist violence against non-Muslim minorities receive little media attention in the United States. Take, for example, just a few of the cases that have come to the notice of CSI since the beginning of the so-called “Arab Spring”:

· Egyptian Christian teenager, Ayman Nabil Labib - murdered by schoolmates after refusing to remove a cross necklace.

· Iranian Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani - sentenced to death for having allegedly converted from Islam to Christianity.

· Catholic priest, Fr. Mark Rybinski - murdered in Tunisia.

· 27-year-old Pakistani Christian nurse Shaista Samuel– raped by Muslims and subjected to pressure to convert to Islam.

· Libyan Jew, David Gerbi - prevented from reopening the synagogue in Tripoli by Islamist mobs declaring: "There is no place for Jews in Libya!

· CBS Reporter Lara Logan - sexually assaulted in Tahrir Square in Cairo by a mob of Muslim men chanting "Jew! Jew!"

· Iraqi Christians Hanna Polos Emmanuel and Bassn Isho - kidnapped and shot dead near Kirkuk.

These and most other acts of violence against non-Muslims in the Islamic world are not, for the most part, committed by members of Al Qaida or related terrorist networks. Instead they are perpetrated by both state and non-state actors, many of whom are military allies of the United States. They are all inspired by a deep seated culture of Islamic supremacism - kindred in spirit to white supremacism and anti-Semitism.

Virulent, Sharia-based Islamic supremacism led in the 20th century to the eradication of once thriving Christian communities - Armenian, Greek and Syriac – in Turkey and to the demise of the ancient Jewish communities of the Arab world. The same genocidal dynamic is at work in the 21st century. It must be stopped now.

CSI has also posted a list of “Universal Conditions for Genocide” on its website, which Snapshots reproduces below. Even a cursory reading of this list indicates that many of these conditions are present in a number of countries in the Middle East.

Universal Conditions for Genocide.

1. Public display of ethnic and religious differences through physical features, language and communal symbols.
2. Absence in multi-religious and/or multi-ethnic societies of strong integrating institutions.
3. Absence of the rule of law and presence of authoritarian traditions of governance.
4. Deep-seated insecurity on the part of ruling elites.
5. Widespread perception of vulnerable religious and ethnic groups as potential agents of politically subversive powers.
6. Prevalence of a racially or religiously discriminatory ideology or worldview that upholds a utopian vision of a homogenous society as the foundation of political unity.
7. Institutionalization of racial or religious discrimination in statute law or social custom.
8. Widespread communication by state and/or non-state actors of hateful propaganda that portrays members of religious or ethnic communities as subject peoples, aliens within society, or as subhuman creatures.
9. Outbreaks of organized violence by mobs or individuals against members of vulnerable religious or ethnic communities.
10. Habitual denial of discrimination by state and non-state actors that engage in oppressive practices, including violence, against vulnerable groups in society.
11. Widespread militarization of society and/or widespread influence of non-state terrorist groups or militias.

CSI has put its marker down, and has warned the American people about a possible catastrophe in the Middle East.
We have been warned.

First published at CAMERA.

Posted on 12/02/2011 3:54 PM by Dexter Van Zile
Friday, 2 December 2011
Abu Izzadeen and his cronies arrested

Some film of this afternoons events taken by a comrade, EDL Buck, and used with his permission. Originally featured on Vlad Tepes blog.

Posted on 12/02/2011 4:39 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 2 December 2011
Mathematicians, German And Jewish

From Haaretz:


Setting the record straight about Jewish mathematicians in Nazi Germany

A new exhibition at Beth Hatefutsoth highlights the contributions of - and injustices done to - Jewish mathematicians in wartime Germany.

By Ofer Aderet

The string quartet that performed one night last week at Beth Hatefutsoth Museum of the Jewish Diaspora played a work by the German-Jewish composer Felix Mendelssohn. The violin whose sounds filled the hall that night once belonged to Georg Pick, a well-known Jewish mathematician from Vienna. He is best known for his eponymous formula, which concerns the connection between number theory and geometry, and he was said to have played this instrument along with his friend Albert Einstein, who also played the violin.

On July 13, 1942, Pick was deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp; two weeks later he died there, at the age of 82. Dr. Ruti Ungar, an Israeli historian who lives in Germany, brought this violin especially for the opening of the new exhibition she has curated, which is called "Transcending Tradition: Jewish Mathematicians in German-Speaking Academic Culture," and which is on through December 14. Ungar's grandfather, Herbert Ungar, was a friend of Pick's. A few days before Pick was sent to his death, he gave Ungar the violin. Herbert Ungar survived the Holocaust and hid the instrument until the war ended.

Despite the considerable contribution Jews have made to the field of mathematics, it's not necessarily one of the fields that people imagine of when they think of great Jewish achievers: Jewish lawyers, doctors and psychologists have shunted the mathematicians aside in the popular imagination. Says Prof. Dan Amir, of the school of mathematical sciences at Tel Aviv University: "In mathematics there is no Nobel Prize and no sensational discoveries that are admired or understood by lay people."

An explanation of another sort is given by Prof. Christian Baer, president of the German Mathematical Society and a professor at Potsdam University.

"For decades after the war we ignored the issue of the fate of the Jewish mathematicians," he says, during our interview in Tel Aviv. "We were afraid to discover unpleasant and painful things, so we preferred not to dig too deeply into the past. I feel ashamed that so much time passed before the Society began to research its Nazi past."

Contemporary German mathematicians tended to believe that the Nazis had wrested control over the mathematical society during the war years, and that its members were victims of that dictatorial regime. However, the opening of the organization's archives in the 1990s revealed an entirely different story.

"There is no doubt that most of the German mathematicians who were members of the professional organization collaborated with the Nazis, and did nothing to save or help their Jewish colleagues," says Prof. Moritz Epple of Frankfurt University, an expert on the history of mathematics.

Epple, who headed the research project on which the exhibition is based, elaborates: "Except for a few individual cases, the mathematical society didn't care about the Jews. They collaborated with the state and with the party at every level. They took active steps and expelled the Jewish members even before they were compelled to - to be in step with the spirit of the times."

The Beth Hatefutsoth exhibition aims to address this historical injustice, says curator Ungar: "We decided to show, for the first time, the tremendous contribution Jews made to mathematics in all its branches. Jews contributed to the breaking of the mathematical tradition and brought modernization to it. Via mathematics, they also blazed the trail beyond the traditional Jewish professions, and crossed geographical and religious boundaries on the way to forging international cooperation among mathematicians from different countries."

The exhibition has come to Tel Aviv thanks in part to funding from the German government. It will move on in the coming months to the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, in Haifa, and the National Library, in Jerusalem. The exhibition is the result of extensive research undertaken in recent years by seven historians of mathematics from Germany: For the first time they were able to gather personal details related to the top Jewish mathematicians active in their country's academic world before and around the time the Nazis rose to power.

The list the historians put together consists of about 90 names of Jewish mathematicians who achieved the level of professor, along with their birth and death dates, and their places of employment. Some of them became world famous thanks to mathematical formulas named after them. One such person was Carl Gustav Jacob Jacobi (after whom the Jacobi matrix is named) - the first Jewish mathematician to hold the position of professor at a German university. In 1832 Jacobi took up the prestigious appointment at Koenigsberg University; by that time, however, he had already converted to Christianity.

A quarter of a century later, mathematician Moritz Abraham Stern was the first Jew to become a full professor at a German university without changing his religion. In 1859 he received the post at the University of Goettingen, which later was considered the "Mecca of mathematics" in the country.

Making their mark

At the peak of their activity, between the outbreak of World War I in 1914 and the Nazis' rise to power in 1933, one-third of all math professors in Germany were Jewish - although Jews constituted less than 1 percent of the total population. These mathematicians served on the editorial boards of leading academic journals and were involved in the founding of the mathematical society. Jews also contributed greatly to changes in a number of areas of their field and undertook revolutionary research. There is no dearth of examples: Hermann Minkowski and Edmund Landau, in number theory; Ernst Steinitz and Emmy Noether, in algebra; Felix Hausdorff and Abraham Fraenkel, in set theory and topology; Adolf Hurwitz, in theory of functions; Max Dehn, in geometrical topology; and Paul Bernays, in the philosophy of mathematics.

"Up until 1933, mathematical life in Germany and its German-speaking neighbors was to a large extent German-Jewish," says Epple. "[The Jewish mathematicians] made their mark on the entire world."

His colleague Christian Baer adds: "Mathematics today would be entirely different were it not for the contributions made by Jews. I can't imagine how it would look."

Three of the Jewish mathematicians on the list the historians compiled committed suicide after the Nazis rose to power and two were killed in the Holocaust. The rest managed to emigrate: Five of them made their way to Israel, among them Abraham (Adolf ) Halevi Fraenkel, an extraordinary man of many accomplishments. At the age of 19 he wrote an article comparing the Jewish, Muslim and Christian calendars. During World War I, Fraenkel served in the German army as a medic and meteorologist. During that period he wrote an article describing the trajectory of a missile in light of the theory of free fall. In the 1920s he was a professor at the Universities of Marburg and Kiel. In 1929 he left Germany and immigrated to Palestine. First he consulted with Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi in Palestine Abraham Isaac Kook to find out if, as a religious Jew, he could accept a post as a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Kook recommended that he do so - to strengthen religious Judaism at the university. "It is our obligation to fight for ... a respectable position within [that institution] for the sake of faith in Judaism and to increase its influence," Kook explained. Subsequently Fraenkel became the dean of the mathematics faculty and, at the end of the 1930s, university rector. Later he taught at Bar-Ilan University. In 1956 he was awarded the Israel Prize in the field of the exact sciences.

Fraenkel was a stickler for the Hebrew language, which he had taught himself before he came to Israel, and was also blessed with a well-developed sense of humor. Once, it was said, when he was riding a bus to Mount Scopus, a student asked the driver to close the window "because it is cold outside." Fraenkel said to her: "And if he closes the window, will it be hot outside?"

In a speech he delivered in 1944 in Jerusalem, he complained about what he saw as a national trait of being late to events. "You are invited to an assembly, a meeting or a party at a certain time. You have bought a ticket to a theatrical performance or for a ride in an inter-city taxi for a certain hour - but if you come at the designated time, you have made a mistake and you will be punished. This is because there are people who come half an hour or even an hour late, and of course ... it is those who come on time who must be punished and the latecomers must be rewarded, as we wait for them and delay the start [of an event] because of them ... We have a concept of Jewish precision and not of German precision."

Fraenkel was active in instilling awareness of the world of mathematics in the general public; he edited the math entry in the Hebrew Encyclopedia and wrote a number of others. In the 1950s he published the book "An Introduction to Mathematics" in five volumes, which was the first of its kind in Hebrew. He died in Jerusalem in 1965.

Despite discrimination

Jewish women were also respectably represented in the world of mathematics in the 20th century in Germany, despite gender and racial discrimination. Emmy Noether, who was born in Erlangen, and is also mentioned in the exhibition, was the first woman appointed to an academic position at a German institution of higher education: In 1916 she began to teach at the University of Goettingen. Noether, daughter of Max Noether, the most important professor of algebraic geometry in Germany, is considered to this day to have been the greatest female mathematician up until that point, and as having changed the face of algebra. Initially she had to work under the supervision of a man, and even after she received an official appointment, she was never promoted to the rank of full professor and even worked for a number of years without pay.

Even when one of the most important mathematicians of the era, David Hilbert, tried to help her receive an appointment as professor, his colleagues at the faculty of philosophy, to which mathematics belonged at the time, opposed his efforts.

"What will our soldiers think, when they come back to the university to study and find they are expected to sit at the feet of a woman?" they wondered. To this Hilbert supposedly replied: "I can't see why the candidate's sex should be an argument against candidacy. After all, the university is not a bathhouse."

Noether, too, left an eponymous mathematical legacy: Her theorems deal with mathematical aspects of Einstein's theory of relativity. In 1933 she was thrown out of her university together with the rest of the Jewish academics in Germany.

The situation was particularly dire at Goettingen: Three out of four of the heads of the university's mathematics and physics institutes had been Jews. Not long after the mass expulsion, a reception was held at the university, at which Nazi education minister Bernhard Rust met the former director of the mathematics institute. Rust asked him if it had been harmed by the expulsion of the Jews.

"It has not been harmed, sir," replied the former director. "It has simply ceased to exist."

Noether managed to leave Germany in 1933. She spent the next two years in the United States, where she died at the age of 52 from complications following surgery. Fifteen years later Albert Einstein eulogized her: "In the judgment of the most competent living mathematicians, Fräulein Noether was the most significant creative mathematical genius thus far produced since the higher education of women began."

Felix Hausdorff, who was born in 1868, studied at Leipzig University. In addition to mathematics, he was also interested in philosophy. He later taught at Bonn University. His impressive status initially enabled him to continue working even after the Nazis rose to power. In 1935 he was forced to retire, under bad conditions. His work of 40 years was termed by the Nazis "decadent Jewish mathematics," but he continued to publish articles and hoped he would be able to remain in Germany without being harmed.

However, in early 1942, when Hausdorff realized he would not be able to escape the fate of Bonn's Jews, who were being sent to camps, he committed suicide, together with his wife and his sister-in-law. In a farewell letter he sent to a friend, a Jewish lawyer, he explained: "By the time you receive these lines, we three will have solved the problem in another way ... in the way which you have continually attempted to dissuade us ... Forgive us, that we still cause you trouble beyond death; I am convinced that you will do what you are able to do (and which perhaps is not very much ). Forgive us also our desertion! We wish you and all our friends will experience better times." Half a year later that lawyer was deported to Theresienstadt and from there to Auschwitz.

"What would have happened," wonders Prof. Epple, "had this mathematical flourishing continued in a world without anti-Semitism, without the crimes against humanity committed by the Nazis and their supporters?"

Today, the German Mathematical Society has many Jewish members, though Baer, its president, says he does not know their exact number. "We no longer ask our members to state their religion on the registration forms," he explains.

Posted on 12/02/2011 6:56 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 2 December 2011
After Decades Of Trying To Make Peace, Israel Is Told By Panetta To "Repair Ties" With Ever-More Hostile Because Ever More islamic, Arabs

From The New York Times:

From The New York Times:

December 3, 2011

Defense Chief Says Israel Must Mend Arab Ties

[an intolerable thing for Leon Panetta to have done, particularly in these very days, when everyone can see that the truest believers in Islam are becoming ever more powerful all over the Arab-ruled states, and that the Obama Administaration still refuses to understand, or recognize, or craft clever policies, based on an understanding of Islam -- an understanding it still does not have, and that has lead to a squandering of time, a refusal for three years to impose the right sanctions on Iran -- and even today has to be pushed by the Senate to do things that ought to have been done several years ago-- just as the previous Administration squandered men, money, and materiel for policies that made no geopolitical or any other kind of sense] 

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta spoke sternly on Friday to America’s closest ally in the Middle East, telling Israel that it is partly responsible for its increasing isolation and that it now must take “bold action” — diplomatic, not military — to mend ties with its Arab neighbors and settle previously intractable territorial disputes with the Palestinians.

“I believe security is dependent on a strong military, but it is also dependent on strong diplomacy,” [not "diplomacy" in the sense of a "truce treaty" with Muslim Arabs who see it as a means to an end -- not peace, but a weakened Israel] Mr. Panetta said. “And unfortunately, over the past year, we have seen Israel’s isolation from its traditional security partners in the region grow, and the pursuit of a comprehensive Middle East peace has effectively been put on hold.”

He balanced his criticism by noting that “Israel is not solely responsible for this isolation,” and described what he termed “an international campaign under way to isolate Israel.”[this is the Jihad of "pen, tongue" -- the Jihad of propaganda. Panetta should familiarize himself with Muslim writings on the various instruments of Jihad, and see things, even if he doesn't dare describe them publicly, rightly]

Mr. Panetta reaffirmed that the United States would sustain an “unshakable commitment to Israel’s security,” [an affirmation belied by both observable behavior of American policymakers over many years, and by other words in the very same speech he was delivering] uproved by “unprecedented levels of defense cooperation,” including more than $200 million in additional assistance for Israel’s “Iron Dome” missile-defense system. [compare that to the three triillion plus dollars spent on Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, including the building up of half-million man armies and police forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan? Leon Panetta does not

But the defense secretary made clear that Israel now must prove its commitment to restoring partnerships across the region and resolving historic disputes with the Palestinians.[why? What does this mean? Why must Israel "prove" anything to the Muslim Arabs who regard Israel as a "cancer" or as a "dagger in the Arab heart" -- two metaphors that show perfectly how the Muslim Arabs regard Israel - you don't leave any  of the cancer so that it might re-grow, you don't pull out a knife blade only part way]. .

“Ultimately, the dream of a secure, prosperous Jewish and democratic Israel can only be achieved through two states living side by side in peace and security,” Mr. Panetta said. [nonsense on stilts: there is no solution to the Jihad against Israel, save that of deterrence, the same thing that was used by the West during the Cold War against the Soviet Union, and may be used, quite soon, again, with other potential enemies=. “With full confidence that the United States is willing and capable of ensuring that Israel can safeguard its security as it takes the risks needed to pursue peace, now is the time for Israel to take bold action and to move towards a negotiated two-state solution.” [both parts of this are wrong: Israel would not be "pursuing peace" because peace is only maintained throiugh israel's strength, and any further concessions or surrenders, of Israeli rights -- legal, moral, and historic -- will weaken Israel, and thus make the only peace that matters even more hellishly difficult to enforce than it is now. Panetta's display of arrogance and ignorance of Islam maddens, but it is not any worse, I suppose, than the arrogance and ignorance of all those who persist in allowing themselves to get away with not studying Islam, not studying the history of the conflict, not studying the history of the Jews and Christians (and Hindus and Buddhists, and others) under Islam, and failing to do this, have no right to tell the people of Israel what they can or cannot do vis-a-vis Muslims who threaten them].

Asked specifically what Israel should do first, Mr. Panetta replied, “Get to the damn table” — that is, return to negotiations. ["negotiations" for a treaty of Hudaibiyya -- for only a "truce treaty" is possible -- will only weaken Israel. That is their point, that is the Arab strategy. It is not a secret; it has been discussed, openly by the Arabs, and the "Palestinian" Arabs especially, for more than 40 years. Has Leon Panetta looked into how the Arabs have treated all the other treaties they have made with Israel? Is he aware of what the Treaty of Hudaibiyya means to the Arabs and other Muslims as a model valid for all time? Has he studied -- at long last, after the three trillion dollars spent in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the hundreds of billions spent in Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan, the "Palestinian" Authority -- Islam, or does he prefer to keep talking about what Israel should do, how it shoudl behave, toward its Muslim neighbors without bothering to study Islam? Has he read Majid Khadduri's text on the law of war and peace in Islam? Has he read, or had translated from French so that he might read, Antoine Fattal's book on the legal status of non-Muslims under Muslim rule? What has Leon Panetta done to prepare himself adequately for the responsibilities of his office? What have others in this Administration done, so that they might be well-prepared to speak on the subject of anything having to do with relations between non-Muslim peoples and polities and those of Islam? Anything? Nothing?]

Mr. Panetta also called on Israel to “reach out and mend fences with those who share an interest in regional stability,” specifically Turkey, Egypt and Jordan. If those gestures are rejected in Ankara, Cairo and Amman, he said, “the world will see those rebukes for what they are.”

Mr. Panetta spoke to the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, a policy center here. During the evening address, he identified Iran as the most significant national security threat facing the United States, allies and partners in the region.

Notable was the phrasing of a warning to Iran: that any action to block free transit of regional oil shipments and other commerce would be a “redline,” a term describing an unacceptable action that would be countered with an American response.

“No greater threat exists to the security and prosperity of the Middle East than a nuclear-armed Iran,” Mr. Panetta said, noting that a “pillar of our approach to the region is our determination to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.”

He pledged the United States was committed to deterring Iran’s “destabilizing activities, particularly those that could threaten the free flow of commerce throughout this vital region. That is a ‘redline’ for the United States.”

American policy to shape Iranian action would use both inducements and penalties, diplomacy and economic sanctions, he said. But the Pentagon would always have military options ready for the president’s consideration, Mr. Panetta said.

“That’s a responsibility I take very seriously, because when it comes to the threat posed by Iran, the president has made it very clear that we have not taken any options off the table,” Mr. Panetta said. [there's not much time left to keep repeating ad nauseam  "we haven't taken any options off the table]

Looking broadly across the region, Mr. Panetta also described how the United States was seeking to sustain a military presence and enhance military-to-military cooperation in the Persian Gulf after the withdrawal from Iraq at the end of this month.

Posted on 12/02/2011 10:11 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 2 December 2011
Diversity, Diversity, Diversity -- What's So Great About Enforced Diversity?

From The New York Times:

December 3, 2011

U.S. Urges Creativity by Colleges to Gain Diversity

The Obama administration on Friday urged colleges and universities to get creative in improving racial diversity at their campuses, throwing out a Bush-era interpretation of recent Supreme Court rulings that limited affirmative action in admissions.

The new guidelines issued by the Departments of Justice and Education replaced a 2008 document that essentially warned colleges and universities against considering race at all. Instead, the guidelines focus on the wiggle room in the court decisions involving the University of Michigan, suggesting that institutions use other criteria — students’ socioeconomic profiles, residential instability, the hardships they have overcome — that are often proxies for race. Schools could even grant preferences to students from certain schools selected for, among other things, their racial composition, the new document says.

“Post-secondary institutions can voluntarily consider race to further the compelling interest of achieving diversity,” reads the 10-page guide sent to thousands of college admissions officials on Friday afternoon. In some cases, it says, “race can be outcome determinative.”

The administration issued a parallel 14-page outline on Friday for the nation’s 17,000 public school districts, explaining what government lawyers consider to be acceptable ways that educators can seek to reduce racial segregation, which has been increasing nationwide.

The two documents, issued as the presidential campaign heats up and as the Supreme Court considers whether to hear a new affirmative action case, were designed to give educators a clear administration interpretation of three high court cases that, since 2003, have limited the use of race in admissions, zoning and other school policies.

The contrast with the Bush guidelines interpreting the same three cases is stark. Where the Bush administration’s letter in 2008 states, “Quotas are impermissible,” the 2011 version says “an institution may permissibly aim to achieve a critical mass of underrepresented students.” Even in addressing the same principles, the framework is practically reversed.

Bush guidelines: “Before using race, there must be a serious good faith consideration of workable race-neutral alternatives.”

Obama guidelines: “Institutions are not required to implement race-neutral approaches if, in their judgment, the approaches would be unworkable.”

Colleges seeking to increase diversity while not running afoul of Supreme Court guidelines, the new document says, “could select schools (including community colleges) based on their demographics (e.g., their racial or socioeconomic composition), and grant an admission preference” to graduates of those schools. They could also “select high schools for partnership” based, among other things, on “racial composition of the school’s student body” and former partnerships with historically black colleges and universities”; consider race as they select students for mentoring programs; and sponsor retention or support programs that highlight, for example, “the accomplishments of Latino business leaders.”

Ada Meloy, general counsel for the American Council on Education, which represents 1,800 universities and colleges, predicted that educators would immediately begin to pursue ways to draw more racial minorities, as the new guidelines would ease fears of legal challenge.

“University administrators have been confused about how they could follow the court’s rulings and still achieve the benefits of diversity,” Ms. Meloy said. “So they will welcome this practical, step-by-step set of directions.”

For kindergarten through 12th grade, the guidelines tell school districts that they can shape policies on locating schools, drawing attendance boundaries and governing student transfers to achieve a better racial mix. For example, a school district with two elementary schools with distinctly different demographics could consider making one school serve kindergarten through second grade and the other grades 3 to 5 in order to force a better mix.

“Diverse learning environments promote development of analytical skills, dismantle stereotypes and prepare students to succeed in an increasingly interconnected world,” Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in a statement. “The guidance announced today will aid educational institutions in their efforts to provide true equality of opportunity.”

Lee C. Bollinger, an advocate of affirmative action, was the named defendant, as president of the University of Michigan, in the two 2003 Supreme Court cases that laid down new markers on the permissible use of race in admissions. He described the new guidelines as “perfect.”

“It’s a very fair interpretation of what the court decided,” said Mr. Bollinger, a First Amendment scholar who is now president of Columbia University, “which is primarily that race can be one of many factors, and as long as your policies truly embody that approach, you’ll be fine, and can strive for diversity in all its benefits.”

In Grutter v. Bollinger, the court ruled that universities can take race into account as one factor in a broad consideration of students’ traits and qualifications. On the same day, in Gratz v. Bollinger, the high court said Michigan’s undergraduate college had unlawfully made race “a decisive factor for virtually every minimally qualified underrepresented minority applicant.” In a separate case involving the Seattle and Louisville, Ky., districts, the court said in 2007 that it was unlawful to consider the race of individual students directly in assigning them to public schools.

The Supreme Court will soon decide whether to hear a new case, in which a white student has sued the University of Texas, arguing that she was denied admission because of her race. Some legal experts have predicted that the court’s conservative majority could further restrict the use of race in admissions at public universities.

This week, the Department of Education released a report documenting how schools serving low-income students get less state and local money for teacher salaries than schools serving higher-income students.

“The administration is making strong policy statements on low-income children and students of color, outlining remedies,” said Bob Wise, a former Democratic governor of West Virginia who heads an education nonprofit organization aimed at improving high school graduation rates. “They seem to be putting some markers down as the election begins,” he said, adding that the new set of guidelines “tries to keep within the letter of the Supreme Court opinions, while probably pushing the spirit.”

Posted on 12/02/2011 10:37 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 2 December 2011
Leon Panetta -- Like Tony Blair And So Many Others Before Him-- Needs To Learn About Darura
Re-posted from May of this year:
Sunday, 22 May 2011

[Re-posted from June 8, 2007]

Fitzgerald: Darura

"The only solution ultimately is to re-launch the framework for a negotiated peace with a two-state solution at the heart of it..." -- from a recent statement by Tony Blair

He's well-spoken and incoherent, withal. He can't figure out Islam, and doesn't want to. It's too disturbing. Too many problems are posed, if he were to begin to understand it. He knows there's a problem with Islam -- outside Great Britain, and deep inside Great Britain. But he allows himself to believe that it is "manageable." He allows himself to be believe that there is a permanent "solution." And when it comes to Israel, he assumes that the "solution" is based on Israel withdrawing still further from land to which it has legal, historic, and moral title. The clear intent and the specific provisions of the League of Nations' Mandate for Palestine, which mandate, like those others of the League, was to have its precise terms respected in toto by the successor organization, the United Nations.

Blair, like so many others, ignores completely these legal, historic, and moral claims. Child of the century, or rather child of the last few decades, he chooses to believe that the sudden appearance of the phrase "Palestinian people" after the Six-Day War, and the careful and relentless promotion of this soi-disant "Palestinian people," and the rewriting of history that took place to accompany it, and the absence of any context, have no significance. He ignores the context of what is wrongly called the "Arab world" but which has many, and once had even more, non-Arab and non-Muslim minorities. He also ignores the fact that the Jews managed on their own to return and to buy land. Not a single dunam of land was taken from Arabs before they made war in 1948, and very little after that. After all, nearly 90% of Israel, as the successor state to Mandatory Palestine, was state or waste land. It passed from the Ottoman government to the British Mandatory Authority to Israel -- a fact that so many ignore, or never bothered to find out.

Blair would have us believe that the texts of Islam do not mean what they say. Or perhaps he does not know what they say. What they say is this: no Infidel state can be permitted, whatever its size, on any land that was once a part of Dar al-Islam. Once conquered by Islam, territory belongs forever to Muslims. In a sense, you might well ask, what does it matter? Doesn't, in the Islamic view, the whole world belong ultimately to Islam? Isn't Islam everywhere to dominate, aren't Muslims everywhere, ultimately, to rule?

And you would be right. But there is a matter of priorities. The unprecedented has now occurred -- millions and now tens of millions of Muslims have been allowed to settle deep within Infidel lands, behind what Muslims themselves are taught to regard as, essentially, enemy lines. Naturally, still weak because far less numerous behind those enemy lines, Muslims in the Infidel lands must prevent those Infidels from examining too closely the texts and tenets of Islam, and figuring out what they mean. They must prevent those Infidels from looking too closely at the history of Islamic Jihad-conquest, and especially at the history of the subsequent subjugation of non-Muslims from Spain to East Asia, over 1350 years. They must prevent Infidels from finding out about Muslim attitudes toward many kinds of artistic expression (sculpture, paintings of living creatures, music) and toward the free and skeptical inquiry that makes science possible, and is everywhere encouraged in the advanced West, and discouraged in Islam. They must keep up a patter of phony sweetness-and-light, and misrepresent Islam as "respecting" Christianity and Judaism.

And Infidels don't generally know that major figures from both those religions have been appropriated by Islam and turned into Muslims -- for we are all Muslims, right back to Abraham, in the Islamic view. They usually don't bother to examine what the Islamic "Jesus" and the Islamic "Moses" are, in Islam. Muslim-Christian and Muslim-Jewish "dialogues" become occasions for special pleading and careful taqiyya-and-tu-quoque by Muslim spokesmen, delivered to self-selected groups of Infidels. Those Infidels, meanwhile, are in equal measures ignorant, naive, and self-preening: "We are willing to meet and listen and dialogue with our Muslim brothers -- unlike all those others, the benighted and the bigoted. We are morally superior, and we will demonstrate that moral superiority by taking every occasion to defend 'our Muslim brothers' from those who would divide us."

The beachhead is gained, and the Muslim troops fan out across the new land, ready to spread Islam. They spread it in the prisons among those looking for justification for their alienation from The System, Amerika, Kapitalism, and finding Islam as the perfect vehicle to justify their own past, and possibly future, criminal behavior, and in many cases, to dignify it, draping naked aggression in the cloak of a new faith. And since so many of the undisciplined long not merely for discipline, but for Total Discipline, Islam provides a ready-made Community of Believers, who will enforce, in every way, rules that cover every detail of life. Bush likes to prate about how everyone "wants freedom." It's nonsense. The spirit of wanting to march in serried ranks, of Belonging to the Group (Nuremberg! Hitlerjugend! Jawohl!), and of knowing what one is to do, for every occasion, at every step, is a strong one. There are many who cannot stand or do not know how to use "freedom" (which Bush himself hardly understands), and who long for Authority.

And that is what Islam provides: Authority, the Authority of Allah and the Example of Muhammad, whose life, whose words and deeds serve as a gloss on the will expressed by Allah in the Qur'an.

Blair, as a leading spokesman of the nattering classes (World Leader Division), goes on about a "manageable" problem to which there is a "solution." He wishes tiny, permanently beleaguered Israel, the physical refuge and embodiment of the most persecuted tribe in human history, to pay the price for his inability, and that of others, to dare to come to grips with the menace of Islam. He wants to prolong for a while longer the illusion that the problem arises from something we, the Infidels have done. In this case, the Infidels are those stubborn Israelis, who keep insisting on staying alive, who keep insisting on being able to have a minimum level of defensible borders, who keep insisting -- though not nearly as effectively as they should and could -- that yes, they have legal, historic, and moral rights to this land, that they are the victims of an Arab siege. The Israelis still do not call it, as they should, a Jihad, albeit a Local or Lesser Jihad. The monstrous rewriting of history that has gone on virtually unopposed since the Six-Day War needs itself to be rewritten, and the truth, or much of it, brought back to the consciousness of those in the West who have no idea of it - such as Blair, Rice, and other "two-state" solutionists.

Darura. "Darura" in Arabic means "necessity." The Arabs and Muslims understand this idea. "Necessity" can justify even violating explicit prohibitions. You may, if starving, eat pork, according to some. You may, if you need to protect the faith, lie to Infidels -- lie about Islam itself, lie about your own belief in Islam. There is no further surrender of territory by Israel that will bring about "peace" with the Arab Muslims. The Arabs, and the shock troops of Arab Islam in the Lesser Jihad against Israel, are divided. But they are not divided the way that Blair and Rice and others seem to think. They are not divided, that is, between those who are ready to permanently accept Israel's existence (and what's more, its right to permanent existence) and those who are not.

No. They are divided, rather, between those who are the Slow Jihadists and those who are the Fast Jihadists. The Slow Jihadists are what the media like to repeatedly assure us are the "moderates." How many times have you seen a reporter blandly begin by referring in his dispatch to "the moderate Mahmoud Abbas" or "the moderates of Fatah"? The Homeric epithets here are not singer-of-tales mnemonic devices, but rather part of mental bullying, a deliberate attempt to tell us what to make of facts, not to think for ourselves. Thinking for yourself is discouraged. You must repeat: Abbas "the moderate," Fatah "the moderates." You must further be told that what is called the "Two-State Solution" is indeed a "Solution." If it weren't, why would such impressive people as Condoleeza Rice or Tony Blair, or the "Quartet" (the Four Horsemen of Israel's Apocalypse is more like it), call it a "Two-State Solution"?

Let's get this straight. There is no difference in the ultimate goal of Fatah or of Hamas. Both want Israel as a Jewish state to disappear. They both know it is wrong, unjust, contra naturam, for Infidels, and especially the Jews, to possess land that was once ruled by Muslims. This is especially true of the Jews, who are so despised in the Islamic world for being weak, and are the special focus of hatred.

The difference is in tactics. Fatah's Mahmoud Abbas, loyal collaborator for decades with Yassir Arafat, behind the mild-mannered generally-accepted-accounting-principles suit-and-tie demeanor, is a firm supporter of terrorism in the past and in the present too, if the targets are the right ones. He believes that it will take patience. It will take a longer effort to soften Israel up, by continuing to weaken Israel economically and diplomatically, and militarily by pushing it back to the 1949 Armistice Lines which -- for god's sake, just look at a map, and just imagine you are in the IDF and trying to plan to defend the population of Israel in this 1949 armistice lines, lines which the Arabs themselves always refused to make permanent.

Hamas, on the other hand, doesn't want to wait. It wants not to chip away at Israel, not to slowly reduce it to conquerable proportions, but to subject it to military attack right now. It might consider a very temporary hudna or truce, but only so long as everyone is clear, including the Israelis, that it is temporary. And it is amusing to see how indignant Hamas becomes when Israel seems ill-disposed toward such an idea. Mahmoud Abbas himself can't understand why, given how little is demanded of him by the outside world, and given how eager every Infidel government seems to be to ignore his real nature and the real goals of Fatah and of all the "Palestinians," Hamas remains so stubbornly, shoot-yourself-in-the-foot pur et dur. But there it is.

In other words, the differences are only differences in means, not ends: in timing and in tactics. Why this should not be understood in the West, why assorted blairs and rices cannot or will not understood, is testimony to something. Fear of realizing the truth, for what it might mean. Embarrassment on the part of those who have spent their entire professional lives participating in, and pontificating about, "negotiations" and a "peace process" which they solemnly parse every few weeks -- all those dennis-rosses, and martin-indyks, and richard-hasses, and aaron-millers, who if they had actually noticed the gorilla of Islam in the room and grasped its significance, would have realized how foolish and time-wasting and false-hope-raising, and doomed-to-fail, were not merely this or that portentous airplaning back and forth, but the whole dismal thing. Do you think Bill Clinton, who entertained Yassir Arafat more than he did any other foreign "leader," will ever grasp Islam, and therefore grasp what a waste it all was, how pointless, how stupid?

When I write "pointless" and "stupid," I mean, of course, "pointless" and "stupid" for those who wish Israel well, wish Israel to survive. I do not mean....the others. Those others harbor hostility toward Israel that is often connected not merely to ignorance or laziness, but to a deeper much more unpleasant mental pathology. The business of antisemitism and vicious anti-Israel activities gives rise, nowadays, to a version of the chicken-and-egg problem. Just as we used to say as children "which came first, the chicken or the egg?" a new version might be "which came first, antisemitism or anti-Israel sentiment based on ignorance" -- for those two mutually reinforce, and prompt, one another.

If the goal is "peace" between Arabs and Israel, there is only one way to ensure that peace. It is not to give the Slow Jihadists what they want. It is not to call a "solution" that which will only further imperil Israel, and whet, not sate, Arab and Muslim appetites. It is to ensure that Israel is not only relieved of the constant pressuring by uncomprehending and cruel outsiders, who do not face the peril that Israel has and will always face, but is regarded by those who would destroy it as so obviously superior in military might that they will give up hope of destroying it and simply learn to live with their resentment, as they did, more or less, between 1948 and 1967.

Only this time Israel will have something like defensible borders, the borders which it was meant all along to include, and didn't include in 1948 simply because Ben Gurion called a halt to the war. After all, the land that Israel currently possesses or controls is far less than the amount of land originally set aside for the Mandate for Palestine, a mandate whose express provisions show that it was created for the exclusive purpose of establishing the Jewish National Home. Israel, at the moment, save for Gaza, possesses Western Palestine, for the British decided that the provisions of the Mandate about the mandatory's duty to "facilitate Jewish immigration" and "close Jewish settlement on the land" would not apply to the land east of the Jordan, which became, for realpolitik purposes, the Emirate of Transjordan. But that should be it. Israel gave, and gave, and gave. The giving has to stop.

And the largest and only sure keeper of the peace between Arabs and Israel is the IDF. Not the UN, not Javier Solana's would-be EU 'peacekeepers." Only the IDF. The civilised world -- that is, the civilized themselves -- must support not "negotiations" and "peace processes" between Israel (or any Infidel state) and Muslim states or groups. For these will only lead to tangible concessions on the part of the Infidels, and no concessions, only temporary and false "truces," on the part of those who, as Majid Khadduri and many others have pointed out, make "treaties" with Infidels only on the model of Al-Hudaibiyya. Treaties, that is, in the Muslim view are not subject to the Western idea, so natural that we assume it always existed, of Pacta sunt servanda. No, in Islam treaties are not to be obeyed. That is the rule: treaties, by the Muslim side, are not to be obeyed, but rather, breached at the first opportunity.


Memorize that word. Understand its significance. And if you are a would-be diplomat going off to the Middle East, don't you dare leave home without it.

Posted on 12/02/2011 10:50 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 2 December 2011
It's Ugly, But Is It Art?

Why Is Art So Damned Expensive?

[The title should be: How the very rich, with very bad taste and no judgment, are led by the nose to buy cleverly-hyped junk, and the demoralizing effect this has on good painters, and other legitimate artists, all over the world]

A pile of stools for $575,000. A cabinet full of surgical instruments for a cool $2.5 million. The global economy’s in a tailspin, but among the world’s elite collectors, works are selling for record prices.

Walking around Miami Beach last weekend, taking in the 10th edition of its extravagant Art Basel art fair, you sensed something strange in the air. Patou’s “Joy” drifting off the pashmina? Polished walnut wafting out of the Bentleys? More basic than either: the ineffable aroma of money itself, rising from the art out for sale. By the end of the first day, a customer at Mary Boone’s booth had spent $575,000 for a pile of battered stools turned into a nest—by Ai Weiwei. A blue lozenge on a white rectangle—by Ellsworth Kelly, on view at Matthew Marks—had gone for $1.5 million. A glass cabinet full of surgical instruments, by Damien Hirst, had sold for nearly $2.5 million at White Cube’s stand. Despite the big names attached to these objects—and whatever their artistic worth—any normal observer would immediately wonder: Stools, for half a million dollars? Three times that for some plain paint on canvas? Why is art so damned expensive?

There is a pile of simple, and basically unsatisfying, explanations. There’s scamming: The veteran New York dealer Arne Glimcher speaks of the “scuzzy” people who keep the Warhol market hot by manipulating his auctions. Simon de Pury, chairman of Phillips de Pury auction house, has counted a dozen other price boosters. He says a bigger picture is always worth more than a small one. He notes that you pay a premium for a piece once owned by someone famous. And he points out that something that has been shown in a museum is worth extra. But such explanations only tell us why one object might sell for more than another. They don’t tell us why so many buyers in Miami spend more on a picture than the rest of us spend on a house.

Despite the flatlined economy, the art market has been roaring. In the first half of this year, total worldwide art sales hit a record of €4.3 billion ($5.8 billion), up 34 percent from 2010, according to the French Web site The same site reports that 663 works jumped past the million-euro mark during that period, 200 more than in the first six months of 2008, which once held the record.

The top art prices may have little to do with classic economics. Noah Horowitz, whose Art of the Deal is a crucial text on the subject, says in the long run your investment in art may only do about as well as your holdings in bonds—and comes with greater risk. (But, as one major New York collector put it, that’s not so bad, if you have nowhere else to store your income. And anyway, “bonds aren’t that good to look at.”) At this moment, when the 1 percent has the cash to burn, buying art is less about finance than about the cultural value of money, and of art. “A dollar is not a dollar is not a dollar,” says Viviana Zelizer, the great Princeton sociologist who wrote The Social Meaning of Money. The dollars spent in Miami are “cultural dollars,” Zelizer says, and that makes them obey their own rules. Below, five reasons why art defies economics:


Francis G. Mayer / Corbis(left); Zuma-Newscom


“If I can’t sell something, I just double the price.” That’s what Ernst Beyeler, the great Swiss dealer who helped found Art Basel, reportedly said. Some people actually prefer to pay more than makes sense. Zelizer explains that, in all walks of life, we treat the biggest sums -differently, with special respect or even awe, than more-everyday money. “I think very often the price paid for a work is the trophy itself,” says Glimcher, the dealer.

In 2006, the crowds lining up to see a portrait by Gustav Klimt in the private Neue Galerie in New York weren’t there out of any fondness for the artist. They were there because they’d heard that the museum’s founder, cosmetics heir Ronald Lauder, had paid a record $135 million for it.

The sociologist Mitch Abolafia, who has made a study of Wall Street financiers, says that sometimes money speaks for itself. “A trader said to me one day, with glee in his eyes, ‘You can’t see it, but money is everywhere in this room. Money is flying around—millions and millions of dollars.’ It was a generalized excitement about money. Even I felt it.” That’s the excitement we all get from expensive art. One collector, who believes deeply that art should be bought for art’s sake, acknowledges basking in the “robust glow of prosperity” that his purchases give off once their value has soared.

The people who are spending record amounts on art buy more than just that glow. (And much more than the pleasure of contemplating pictures, which they could get for $20 at any museum.) They’ve purchased boasting rights. “It’s, ‘You bought the $100 million Picasso?!,’” says Glimcher. Abolafia explains that his financiers were “shameless” in declaring the price of their toys, because in their world, what you buy is less about the object than the cash you threw at it. The uselessness of art makes any spending on it especially potent: buying a yacht is a tiny bit like buying a rowboat, and so retains a taint of practicality, but buying a great Picasso is like no other spending. Olav Velthuis, a Dutch sociologist who wrote Talking Prices, the best study of what art spending means, compares the top of the art market to the potlatches performed by the American Indians of the Pacific Northwest, where the goal was to ostentatiously give away, even destroy, as much of your wealth as possible—to show that you could. In the art-market equivalent, he says, prices keep mounting as collectors compete for this “super-status effect.”


I asked the great New York collector Agnes Gund how she would feel about her artworks if their value suddenly halved. “I wouldn’t feel they would have changed,” she said, explaining that most of her pictures are promised to museums. Then I asked how she’d feel if their value doubled instead, and her story changed. “Obviously, it’s wonderful to see the price rise,” she said, since that’s confirmation of the object’s cultural worth.


Colby Katz for Newsweek

I’m convinced that most collectors spend their surplus millions on art because they have a genuine belief in its aesthetic value. “We don’t consider art an investment. We get a psychic reward—I love to come home and look at our walls,” says Eli Broad, a prominent collector from Los Angeles, taking a break from shopping with his art-loving wife at the fair in Miami. [Eli Broad, with his execrable collection, has done great damage to the world of art, possibly even more than has been done by the Saatchi brothers or the clever showman Larry Gagosian] ]They’d just bought some early Cindy Sherman photos, for sale at Metro Pictures for a modest $150,000.) Aesthetics are the bedrock the art market is built on. But, for want of any other reliable measure, they often get tallied in dollars. One of New York’s biggest dealers told Velthuis, the Dutch sociologist, that collectors “permanently have to explain to themselves why they spend so much money on art, sometimes up to 40 percent of their total net worth. So that they want to hear all day long that it makes sense what they do.” And the easiest way to gauge the aesthetic “sense” of an art purchase is to check out the “cents” the thing is selling for. When you’re looking for great art, you may spot it by its price tag.


The crowds lining up to see Lauder’s Klimt in 2006 must have figured that looking at the most expensive work in the world would also expose them to one of the greatest. They were wrong. Almost no one would say that Klimt is crucial to the history of art. As Glimcher, the dealer, put it, “all you need is two people to make a market”—and he doubts that, in another 50 years, we’ll find two more Klimt fans willing to break records for his art.


IN the art market, collectors are buying the pleasure of shopping as much as the art they get out of it. One art adviser who works at the top of the market says that a collector is “like a diseased human being ... these people love to buy, and they love to buy art. The process is a very deep-seated urge. This idea of hunting and gathering—it’s not a new one.” And as de Pury, the auctioneer, explains, there’s no fun in hunting where there’s almost no game to be caught. That’s why the market for old masters has cooled down, he says, whereas certain later artists, such as Warhol and Picasso, produced so much art, in such a variety of styles and modes, that there’s still a thrill left in shopping for them. For these artists, says de Pury, you can become a one-of-each collector—one blue-period Picasso, one rose period, one cubist, one surrealist—and then you can imagine upgrading your works of each type. Gather 10 bidders having this same kind of “fun,” and you’ve got guaranteed price inflation.

If giant fairs like Miami Basel are lousy places to contemplate art—and they are—they continue to flourish because they are fabulous places for shopping. That, says Velthuis, may also account for why contemporary art has come to be the big-ticket item over the last five years or so: it’s simply way more fun to shop for works by artists you can still party with. Also, when you make headlines by spending vast sums on newcomers, you can become a tastemaker yourself, instead of having to wait for the art historians to sort matters out. Just by spending those sums—one of the least onerous tasks a 1 percenter can have—you can launch a bandwagon your friends will jump on, soon confirming both your eye and your investment.


AS money stacks up in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), their oligarchs are buying into the wealthy Western mainstream by forking out for its art, the way their poorer compatriots are buying into skinny jeans and Lady Gaga. Broad, a billionaire himself, says that for these new buyers “it seems money is no object.” It has come to the point where such “artigarchs” are pricing the normally rich out of the game. One veteran collector from the mid-Atlantic region says that he used to be able to buy a Gerhard Richter painting for “six figures, or in the low sevens.” But now, with so much new money pouring into that market (the Russians are crazy for Richter), you’d be lucky to pay 10 times such amounts. “I’m finding that the art that I love I can no longer afford, and the art I can afford I don’t know if I love.”

One colleague of his from New York explains that to get a new work by a popular artist such as Jeff Koons even most billionaires have to wait in line and jump through dealers’ hoops. Anyone out of time or out of favor—or just new to the whole system—will have to head to the auctions and spend whatever it takes. Doubling down on a piece others also want is about “a normal mammal need for success in a competitive environment,” the collector says, and dares any of his peers to deny it. “Eli Broad wants to get it ahead of [François] Pinault who wants to get it ahead of [Bernard] Arnault,” he says, rattling off the names of some of art’s megabuyers.


Top art collectors aren’t shoppers like anyone else. If they spend right, they can purchase the status of cultural patron. No one looks up to you for buying a fleet of Bentleys, but own a flock of Richard Serras, and you become a supporter of culture. Turning the filthy lucre of commerce into the “cultural money” that’s used to purchase art is one way to launder it, explains the Princeton sociologist Zelizer. Art-pricing expert Velthuis says that collectors speak of their purchases as a kind of gift to the artist, or even as a sacrifice they’ve made for the sake of the higher values of art. And there can be close to a taboo on undoing that sacrifice by selling what you’ve bought: Gund, a collector famous for her rectitude, insisted that she will only put works on the market to raise funds for her charities. Broad says that he also avoids selling art: “When it goes up in value, we just pay more in insurance.”

Like those American Indian potlatchers trying to use up as much wealth as possible, rich collectors have all kinds of incentives to “translate” as much spare cash as they can into culture. Spending on huge yachts is “despicable, I don’t understand it,” says the New York collector. “I have a lot more respect for the people who put their money in art.”

Posted on 12/02/2011 11:00 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 2 December 2011
Alberto Sordi Subversively Interrogates Those Biennale-And-Art-Basel Mountebanks
Posted on 12/02/2011 11:11 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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