These are all the Blogs posted on Friday, 2, 2010.
Friday, 2 July 2010
ISLAM: What Is To Be Done?
by Hugh Fitzgerald (July 2010)
The following is an expanded version of the speech Mr. Fitzgerald delivered to the New English Review Symposium on June 19, 2010.
Shortly after the 9/11/2001 attacks, that have entered history under the too-casual shorthand of “nine-eleven” --the American government began to plan to conduct a war against those whom, it correctly believed, were those most immediately involved in the attack. These were the members of an identifiable group called Al Qaeda. Its head was a mediagenic son of a Saudi billionaire, Osama Bin Laden, ably seconded by the scion of a prominent Egyptian family, Ayman Al-Zawahiri (his great-uncle Azzam Pasha had been the first Secretary of the Arab League), with others who had, from their lairs in Afghanistan, been plotting against the West at least since 1993, when the first attack on the World Trade Center took place. And within months it carried out that plan, directed not only at Al Qaeda but at the Taliban that had given Al Qaeda refuge and succor in Afghanistan. more>>>
For everybody I met in Nashville who couldn't understand a word I said. Did you realise that you were talking to the 21st century's Dorothy Pentreath? Actually that will probably be one of my cousin's children.
Even Professor Henry Higgins — rarely lost for words — would be dumbfounded. New research shows that the cockney dialect he battled so hard to beat out of Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady will disappear from London's streets within a generation.
As its traditional speakers emigrate to Essex and Hertfordshire, the 650-year-old accent is dying off in London, to be replaced by multicultural London English, heavily influenced by West Indian patois, Bangladeshi and remnants of old cockney. The dialect won't die off altogether. It will survive in the descendants of those Home Counties émigrés. You can hear it happening today: teenagers in Essex speak like Henry Cooper and Barbara Windsor; in Lambeth, they are more likely to sound like Ali G.
Paul Kerswill, Professor of Sociolinguistics at Lancaster University, the man behind the research, will next year publish his findings in Multicultural London English: the Emergence, Acquisition and Diffusion of a New Variety.
“In much of the East End of London, the cockney dialect that we hear now spoken by older people will have disappeared within another generation,” says Professor Kerswill. “People in their forties will be the last generation to speak it and it will be gone within 30 years. Since the 1950s and the New Town movement, more affluent east Londoners moved out of the capital and into Essex and Hertfordshire, especially to places like Romford, Southend and Hemel Hempstead, and they took their accent with them.
If the Professor in talking about the east End then the earlier reference to Henry Cooper and Lambeth are not strictly accurate; That is south of the river in South East London. Three years working at the Elephant and Castle and I learnt the very subtle diferences in the London accent on the other side of the water, more a matter of speed and rhythm than pronounciation.
“Cockney in the East End is now transforming itself into multicultural London English, a new, melting-pot mixture of all those people living here who learned English as a second language. Ever since the 1960s, these areas of London have become home to immigrants from the West Indies, the Indian subcontinent and many other places, from South America and Africa to Central Asia and the Far East. Some of these people spoke the kind of English typical of their original countries. Others couldn't speak English, so children were speaking their native language at home but were learning English at school.
“This means that children were no longer learning their English dialect from local cockney speakers but from older teenagers, who themselves had developed their English in the linguistic melting pot. Out of all this, the new English which we call multicultural London English emerged, and this is the sound of inner-city London we hear today.”
This hybrid, known in slang terms as “Jafaican”, is a mixture of cockney, Bangladeshi and West Indian. When Jafaican finally supplants cockney across London, the curtain will fall on an ancient story. The earliest recorded use of the word is in 1362, in William Langland's The Vision of William Concerning Piers Plowman. . . Among those abused, though, cockney was adopted as a badge of pride — thus the attempt to limit the number of cockneys, through the legend that true cockneys are born only within the sound of Bow Bells;
It'll be a bloomin' shame, though, when the last real cockneys leave London. Unlike Henry Higgins, we'll no longer “hear them down in Soho Square, dropping h's everywhere”.
What is also sad, but we didn't do it deliberately unlike the social engineering which brought the diversity into London, is that the newcomiewrs to Essex and East Anglia have all but destroyed the old Essex accent. 30 years ago I heard it regularly around Chelmsford the county town and Harlow New Town, as well as the villages; only a few very old people retain it now.
As the confetti falls, and the band begins to play, we are pleased to announce that Jerry Gordon's excellent interview with Professor Richard L. Rubenstein has just hit number 1 on the viral video chart with over 60,000 views. We also received 708,619 hits and 87,658 page views and 14,555 unique visits to this website yesterday.
Congratulations to Jerry Gordon, Dr. Richard L. Rubenstein and J. Mark Campbell on a job well done.
Regular NER contributor Geoffrey Clarfield writes in the National Post:
I sat down beside the white stone wall and greeted the elderly woman who was seated beside an array of candles, Kabalistic pamphlets, skullcaps, prayer shawls, women's kerchiefs and sundry other religious and quasi-religious artifacts that pilgrims often buy. It was a sunny day and the Mediterranean Sea was calm and displayed itself in an unending cascade of blues and greens. You could gaze a hundred miles out to the horizon or watch the ships rested at anchor close to shore. The rays of the sun bounced off the limestone walls that line the staircase on the way to the cave. Men and women of all ages, religious and secular, filed by me as they mounted the steps, all hoping to receive an answer to their prayer. I gave a donation, received a number of short white candles and asked, "What kind of place is this?"
The woman replied, "This is the Cave of Elijah -- don't you know his story from the Bible?" I said that I had read it once but perhaps she could remind me. "You know," she began, "a long time ago Elijah the prophet challenged the false prophets of Baal of the Canaanites to make a sacrifice. The chief prophet of Baal failed to make his sacrifice for as he went into a pit to get firewood he was bitten by a snake. Elijah's sacrifice succeeded, lightning came down from the sky, the drought was lifted, the rains came and all the false prophets were killed, more than 400 of them. He also argued with the king and Jezebel. From that day to this, when people need something from God they ask Elijah to help them."
"Can you tell me about some of these people?" She said, "Of course many Jews come here to pray and ask for health, children or success. But I remember, as if it was yesterday, a time in the late 1940s. An Iraqi Arab showed up at the shrine. When I asked him why he had come to give thanks here, he told me that after he had made a vow to Elijah, his wife gave birth to two sons and for that reason he brought forty head of cattle to sacrifice near the cave.
"And then there was the Arab from the Galilee who once visited. I heard him call out the names of his two sons, Manasseh and Israel. I asked him why he had not given Muslim names to his sons. He said he had vowed to Elijah and in a dream Elijah had told him to give Hebrew names to his two sons if his wife gave birth. And so he had, in honour of Elijah's request."
I thanked the woman and she blessed me. I climbed the stairs and lit a number of candles, asking for health and happiness for my family, friends and colleagues -- for as Pascal once argued about things of the spirit, "You never know."
I climbed more stairs and soon came to the entrance of a cave, carved out of the solid limestone of the hillside. The walls of the cave are black from the votive candles of pilgrims who have visited the site for more than 2,000 years. There is a wooden divider down the middle. As you enter, men pray on the right and women pray on the left. The cave is administered under the Israel Ministry of Religions and it is used by Jews, Muslims, Druze and some Christians.
In Hebrew the name Elijah means Yahweh is my God. His story is told in the Old Testament, the Talmud, the New Testament and the Koran. Christians believe that Jesus himself hid in this cave on his way to Egypt. In some New Testament writing, Jesus gives the impression that he may indeed be the returned Elijah.
During the 12th century, at the highest point in the Carmel range, the Catholic Church established a religious order called the Carmelites. They built a monastery and believe that that is where the real grotto of the Prophet Elijah lies. The site has changed hands on numerous occasions during the last 800 years, but now, thanks to the State of Israel, it is securely under the authority of the Catholic Church.
Followers of the Bahai faith believe that in the 1840s one of the founders of the Bahai religion was Elijah returned to this Earth. Later in the day I visited his shrine in the Bahai Gardens which run from the top of the Carmel to the shore of the port of Haifa.
Few visitors recognize that the entire edifice is inspired by the spirit of Elijah, something that the Bahai do not highlight. It is possible that at a deep level these founders of a new religion -- which accepts Islam but preaches that its own prophet and scriptures supercede those of Muhammad and the Koran -- wanted to build a shrine that superceded those of the earlier three monotheistic faiths focused in Jerusalem. It is common that new religions carve out new landscapes that still harken back to earlier religious archetypes. Such seems to be the power of Elijah and his association with the caves and hills of the Carmel.
There is a theme of religious geography at play here. When the later monotheistic faiths adopt and incorporate major religious figures from an earlier "ancestral" faith, they give the figures a sacred site, close to but not always identical to that of the founding religion. So despite the fact that Jews, Muslims, Druze and some Christians regard the cave of Elijah as sacred, there are others that compete for a similar status. Such has been the nature of Mediterranean religions for at least 2,000 years. Yet curiously some saints and their holy places are shared by nearly all of them as is the Cave of Elijah. Perhaps these common sites harken back to an even earlier religious strata where nature itself was worshipped?
Amots Dafni is a Jewish Israeli researcher who studies the ethnobiology of Northern Israel. In a series of research interviews on sacred trees of the Galilee, Dafni found from his up to 100 Arab, Bedouin and Druze informants that over half of the sites were associated in some way with the prophet Elijah -- called, El Khadr, the Green One in Arabic. When he asked his informants how El Khadr is related to trees they answered: "The colour of El Khadr is green," "Al Khadr has the power of 70 prophets," "Every place where El Khadr sat is green," "The place is sacred because El Khadr rested there."
Anthropologists will be the first to tell you that religion is not just about theology. They focus on myth, ritual and that elusive phenomenon, "religious experience." Clearly the Cave of Elijah caters to a profound religious experience. It links the believer directly with this monotheistic prophet par excellence, who himself fulminated and acted against local religion.
In ancient Canaan and Lebanon almost every hill, valley or river had its own local God or Baal. Canaanite polytheism was a near classic religion of local deities dedicated to fertility and reproduction. The conflict between Baal and the prophets of God was and remains the difference between a belief in a creator that is universal and linked to all places and peoples equally, as opposed to the local deity that serves the concerns of its local worshippers. Yet they were associated with high places as is the case with almost all aspects of the "cult of Elijah" suggesting that the cult of Elijah has appropriated much of that old Canaanite religion.
Monotheism of any kind is a difficult and lonely concept. In the ancient Mediterranean, reforming prophets' loci of activity were incorporated into precisely the pagan cults that they opposed in the first place. Elijah has not wiped out the many Baal and their worshippers; he has simply taken over their sacred places. And so we see in almost every cave, grotto or tree that is sacred to Elijah remnants of the "old time localized Canaanite religion" of fertility and blessing that comes to the surface.
How can we make sense of this experience? One of the 19th-century founders of secular biblical study and social anthropology was the gifted Scottish scholar William Robertson Smith. In his landmark study, Lectures on the Religion of the Semites, written in 1894, he explained the universal attraction of the local sanctuary.
"We have seen that holiness admits of degrees, and that within a sacred land or tract it is natural to mark off an inner circle of intenser holiness, where all ritual restrictions are stringently enforced, and where man feels himself to be nearer to his god than on other parts even of holy ground. Such a spot of intenser holiness becomes the sanctuary or place of sacrifices where the worshipper approaches the god with prayers and gifts and seeks guidance for life from the divine oracle. As holy tracts in general are the regions haunted by divine powers, so the site of the sanctuary par excellence, or place of worship, is a spot where the god is constantly present in some visible embodiment or which has received a special consecration by some extraordinary manifestation of deity...." This describes the Cave of Elijah to a T.
At the same time that the Bahai believe that Elijah came in the form of a new Persian prophet to Haifa to establish the Bahai faith, the Mormons believe that he visited the founder and first prophet of the Church of the Latter Day Saints, Joseph Smith Junior -- on April 3, 1836, to be precise, which was 15 years before the outbreak of the civil war. And so for the Mormons, Elijah has become the most American of Prophets. As he mysteriously ascended to heaven he is thought of as being close to Jesus, Moses and the throne of God himself. And so in a sense Elijah has made the move from the hills and "mountains" of the Carmel range to those of the Utah highlands. Only time will tell whether he will appear once again on a high place in Utah, answering the pleas of those who pray for success, health and happiness.
For those who miss Mr. Clarfield in NER this month, rest assured, he will return in next month's issue. His articles are archived here.
Five activists who caused £180,000 damage to an arms factory were acquitted after they argued they were seeking to prevent Israeli war crimes.
The five were jubilant after a jury found them not guilty of conspiring to cause criminal damage to the factory on the outskirts of Brighton.
The five admitted they had broken in and sabotaged the factory, but argued they were legally justified in doing so.
They believed that EDO MBM, the firm that owns the factory, was breaking export regulations by manufacturing and selling to the Israelis military equipment which would be used in the occupied territories. They wanted to slow down the manufacture of these components, and impede what they believed were war crimes being committed by Israel against the Palestinians.
After being acquitted, one of them, Robert Nicholls, told the Guardian: "I'm joyful really, at being a free man. The action was impulsive really, we just wanted to do something that would make a real difference to the people of Palestine."
Another, Ornella Saibene, said: "I've felt very peaceful all the way through the trial because I'm proud of what I've done. It was the right thing to do."...
London, England (CNN) -- The father and brother of a Harry Potter actress will appear in court later this month in Manchester, England, on charges of threatening to kill the young star, prosecutors said Friday.
Abdul Azad, 54, and his son Ashraf, 28, are accused of attacking actress Afshan Azad earlier this month because of her relationship with a Hindu man, a spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service said. The family is Muslim.
The father and brother appeared at Manchester Magistrate's Court on Wednesday and were released on conditional bail, said the spokesman, who could not be named in line with policy.
Bail conditions include a curfew and ban on traveling to London, the Manchester Evening News reported.
Afshan Azad, reported to be 22, has appeared in four Harry Potter films as Padma Patil, a classmate of the boy wizard and twin sister of Parvati Patil.
The alleged attack happened May 21. The father and brother are charged with threatening to kill the actress, and her brother is also charged with assault, the prosecutors' spokesman said...
What is a Mosque? Vlad Tepes Interview with Sam Solomon
A hat tip to blogger, Vlad Tepes, who sent this You Tube video interview with Sam Solomon. Given the swirl of debates around Mosques like the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, the ground Zero Mosque in Lower Manhattan and the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro Mosque, among others, you should watch and listen to the interview of Former Muslims United board member and author, Sam Solomon. Wereviewed Solomon’s recent book, Al Yahud: Eternal Islamic Enmity & the Jews. Solomon and his late co-author Elias Alamaqdisi published an a earlier work, The Mosque exposed.
As Solomon indicates in this Vlad Tepes You Tube interview a Mosque is simply not just a worship center, but a training base, armory and launching pad for Jihad. That is illustrated by IDF video of what was found in Gazan Mosques during Operation Cast lead: rockets anti-aircraft weapons, munitions, and weapons. As Solomon notes in his book under doctrinal Islam, the whole earth is a Mosque.