These are all the Blogs posted on Sunday, 23, 2011.
Sunday, 23 October 2011
Nidra Poller On France 2 TV's Marketing Of Those "Palestinians" And Their "State"
From The American Thinker:
October 23, 2011
France 2 TV Markets a 'Palestinian State'
By Nidra Poller
Eleven years after the al Dura hoax -- produced and broadcast by state-owned France 2 TV -- the same outfit treats us to a ludicrously staged Palestinian State promotional film. Was the 2½ -hour "documentary" aired on October 3 in the geopolitical magazine Un oeil sur la planète (an eye on the world), a chef d'oeuvre in the campaign to destroy the Jewish State or a last gasp of shopworn Palestinianism1?
Looking at the world through keffieh-colored glasses, MC Etienne Leenhardt disingenuously asks: "Is the creation of a Palestinian state still possible?" First stop, Ramallah. Chic, modern, bustling with business and a humming bureaucracy that maintains law and order...everything you need to make a state. How did Ramallah get so shiny and peaceful? What keeps it from tumbling into the maw of the Islamists who rule Gaza? Who is financing its prosperity, and what does the "wall" have to do with it? Don't ask. Leenhardt and cohorts know why the Palestinians don't have the state they've been yearning for since the days of Adam and Eve: it's because the cruel, heartless, murderous, land-grabbing, gun-slinging Israelis colonize their land!
One brief scene sums it up. A Palestinian in the West Bank (Judea-Samaria) points to a clump of trees in the near distance and laments: "You see that fertile land over there? That's what the colonists [Israelis] took for themselves. They left us this arid stuff."
The indictment builds and incriminates. The Israelis/Jews stole the land, siphon off the water, erect a wall between a man and his fields, expropriate the very holiness, and, one could assume, took all the fertile intelligence for themselves, colonizing the Nobel prizes and leaving the Palestinians with nothing but bile.
Actually, this docu-hoax could be used to help the Zionist cause. It is so grotesque, so crudely fabricated, so false and so dishonest that it sheds light on the subtle twists of more sophisticated products that weave their way through public discourse, gradually bending minds and condoning atrocities. We who have been working tirelessly to expose the Mohamed al Dura hoax can take some comfort in observing that this long-drawn out genocidal hate speech exercise doesn't seem to have the electrifying effect of the September 2000 blood libel. Unfortunately, this does not rule out a potential increase in thuggery against French Jews.
Intuitively avoiding the fact-check trap, I followed the film without noting one by one the lies, fibs, half-truths, distortions, misconceptions, and twists that would have distracted from a cogent analysis of the overall enterprise. The five-part broadcast, presented as the work of globetrotting reporters who gathered the facts at ground level, was a total fabrication -- so much so that Uzi Landau, granted a short minute to say that no sovereign nation would give free rein to an entity determined to exterminate it, seemed unreal, even when you know him personally.
What was the point of broadcasting this fictional documentary a few days after Mahmoud Abbas made his U.N. Security Council bid for recognition of a Palestinian state carved out along the 1947 partition lines with Jerusalem as its capital and a funnel to pour millions of "refugees" into the temporarily surviving rump state labeled "Israel"? Whom did France 2 hope to convince with its overblown, slapdash, hysterically hyped, sleazy marketing film?
Was it aimed at the European Parliament? If it's possible to be less discriminating than the U.N., the European Parliament is your man. Was it tailored for UNESCO, whose advisory board giddily recommended admission of a Palestinian state? We're the cultural arm of the U.N., dahling, we don't have to quibble about mundane things like borders and democratic institutions. Palestine, for us, is a fashion statement. Was it a sop to our local punk jihadis...if they had the patience to sit through this yawn-a-minute, low-testosterone production?
Or was it simply made to order for the choir that never tires of preaching to itself: print media, academics, NGOs, and value-added Jews who certainly slurped up Avrum Burg's six minutes of pontifications? For these aficionadas, the repetition of the word "colon" ("colonist") is as thrilling as a lap dance. According to Stéphane Juffa of Metula News Agency, the Arabic mustaotinin -- settler -- is systematically mistranslated as colon. Hallowed places like Jerusalem are polluted with colons, and in Hebron, Palestinians have to share their "mosque" with the colons: "On their Sabbath and holidays, it's half of our mosque for them, half for us." The "mosque" is no less than the synagogue built over the Cave of Machpela, said to be the tomb of Adam and Eve, Sarah and Abraham, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Leah.
Apparently aligned with the jihad practice of launching attacks on Jewish holidays, France 2 threw its Eye on the Planet in our faces during the "days of awe" between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. The reaction was rapid and forceful. France 2 has learned nothing from the al Dura fiasco. But we have! Thinkers, writers, associations, and honest citizens are speaking out. The CRIF (Jewish umbrella organization) and the Israeli embassy publicly protested and will be meeting with France 2 authorities later this month. Samy Ghozlan of the BNVCA (national bureau for vigilance against anti-Semitism) is filing a lawsuit.
As usual in France, when Jews and their allies protest against incitement to hatred, they are accused -- first, of censoring the media, and second, of bad faith, clannishness, thin skin, emotional overreaction, dual loyalty, refusal to face the truth of their (i.e., Israel's) pernicious deeds...and finally, they are dumped into a Protocols of the Elders of Zion cesspool.
The corporation of journalists stands shoulder to shoulder to protect France 2 and its planetary eye from the wicked Jews. The monotonously unanimous war cry is "there are no factual errors in this program." Charles Enderlin of al Dura fame says so, and he should know. All the guys and girls who worked on the film -- it took five months, by golly-- say so, and how could they be wrong when everything they said, showed, and recorded is 100% factual? Every Palestinian who walked, talked, and gestured in front of their cameras spoke the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth.
They have the good Professor Walt on their side. Jimmy Carter, too. One is led to understand from the "Israel Lobby" segment that American journalists, unlike their French counterparts, are not free to give the facts on the itchy Mideast conflict. Are the garish lighting and harsh camera angles reserved for The Lobby factually true? Does AIPAC hand out envelopes to puppet politicians? A journalist fingered by CAMERA for not painting a pretty picture of Israel can't get work anywhere in the U.S., right? What's not factual about the choke-gulp-gasp panorama of Christian Zionists? The big guns aimed at Glenn Beck? The outrageous behavior of Israel-lobbied congressmen and women who threaten to punish the Palestinians for trying to put together a decent state? Aren't these people and their organizations objectively lurid, shady, manipulative, and permanently accompanied by dramatic here-comes-the-villain music?
And if you don't like it, you're a dirty Jewish censor, n'est-ce pas? The representative of the Israeli embassy said, "Press freedom, yes -- freedom to incite hatred, no."
What's not to hate? The plight of a Muslim family in Hebron -- plump mother in hijab/djellaba, mustachioed father, numerous wide-eyed children, a spoon-fed baby -- who can't go anywhere, do anything, live, breathe, or swallow in peace, because of the colons. Here, you see this window in the kitchen? The colons were always throwing rocks at it. The broken glass went into our food. Now we covered it with a steel shutter. No sunlight, but it's better than having glass in our food. The farmers of Gaza want to feed the hungry population...their fields just happen to run along the border with Israel. Israeli soldiers pop them off like clay pigeons. Helpers from the International Solidarity Movement (presented as an impeccable source of information and disinterested action) radio the soldiers: "We'll be here for a short time...just to pick our crop. We aren't doing any harm." Ha! They take three steps and the soundtrack crackles with the ping-zing and evil snickers of faceless sharpshooters.
Eye on the Planet caught a strangely muted glimpse of the "internationally famous" Charles Enderlin "interviewing" Nabil Shaat. It looked like a spliced image -- the two don't appear in the same frame. Enderlin whispers a few semi-questions, and the rest of the sequence is Shaat, supremely alone, spouting off about how they had tried everything for decades, but the Israelis just don't want to make peace, don't respect any agreement they sign, don't stop chomping away at our land to make colonies, kill our people, send dogs against them, we had no choice but to go to the U.N. We are ready for statehood.
At this writing, a meeting is scheduled with France Télévision's news director Thierry Thuillier, former chief of the Oeil sur la planète program, who has ominously warned: "They [president of the CRIF and a representative of the Israeli embassy] have something to say to us, but we have something to say to them." What? Is there an insult or accusation that was not included in the broadcast? Something saved to throw in the faces of those who dare to protest?
What can we say to reporters with no scruples, no depth, no sense of fair play, who have been covering the conflict year in, year out with no regard for the truth? How can you reach journalists who have crossed into the Palestinian camp and see nothing wrong with stamping a promotional film with the logo of state-owned French television?
The Eye on the Planet outfit has announced its line of defense: there are no factual errors in the report. Wouldn't it be wise to sidestep and attack at the fundamental level? For, in fact, the entire report is a lie; the "Palestinian State" defended in the film by French journalists and at the U.N. by Mahmoud Abbas is a lie. The sixty-plus years of Palestinian distress is due not to the lack of a state, but to the frustration at not being able to implement a genocidal project. The security barrier, checkpoints, Gaza blockade, and other vexations deplored by the Planet's Eye are not impediments to Palestinian statehood; they are a direct consequence of the genocidal project. And everything in the report, from the hustle and bustle of Ramallah to the house keys of Palestinian refugees to the fifth generation in Lebanon who participates in that genocidal project, has nothing to do with statehood. The only possible effect of the pretentious Eye on the Planet episode will be to further the genocidal project by enflaming hatred against Jews, without bringing Palestinians one inch closer to a theoretical statehood that they have never pursued.
If I were invited to the face-to-face, I would be dignified, imperious, and unemotional. No hint of lamentation or supplication. As long as the genocidal project hides behind the term "Palestinian State," I would say that it is logically and materially impossible to envision any normally functioning civil entity under the same label. It is counterproductive to quibble over details. Your film embraces the genocidal project. It is disgraceful, but it will fall by the wayside. We are strong. You are foolish. Adieu.
October 17: Christian Denisot, a 45 year-old unemployed IT technician, holds hostage the Director and her assistant in a state employment agency in the 11th arrondissement of Paris. Several hours later the hostages are released, unharmed. Monsieur Denisot's gun was a fake. But the 20-page Manifesto transmitted by Denisot, curiously enough, gives short shrift to the travails of the unemployed. According to Pierre Haski, editorial director of the Rue 89 blog , 15 pages were devoted to a denunciation of the "extremist Zionist fringe groups" that have poked a "black hole" in our democracy. Denisot declares that the purpose of his act was to awaken society to the dangers of these Zionists, namely the Betar, the Jewish Defense League, the CRIF, and Samy Ghozlan of the BNVCA. Citing various incidents that occurred over the past ten years, Denisot claims these organizations confuse anti-Zionism and criticism of Israeli government policies with anti-Semitism, and get away with it.
Shortly after taking the hostages, Denisot contacted Rue 89 and specifically asked to speak to the specialist on Mideast affairs. He kept a running conversation with Haski throughout the operation and finally surrendered after the police had assured him that his message had been relayed to major media and broadcast publicly. In fact, outside of Rue 89 his message was either not mentioned or dismissed as "vague." I contacted Rue 89 this morning to request a copy of the Manifesto and was told that Haski, who has an appointment with the police today, cannot transmit it "because it hasn't been published."
Will it eventually be made available? I have my doubts. But I will try to contact some of those "extremist Zionist fringe groups" to see if they at least have had access to the document that incriminates them.
The comparison with the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik is intriguing. In both cases, a "native" European focused on Muslims or Jews attacks his own. Will those who accused anti-jihad thinkers of propelling Breivik now suspect Un oeil sur la planète of inspiring the hostage-taker?
1Blurbs for the five segments:
A working State? by Martine Laroche-Joubert and Thierry Breton : There is already a working administration in Palestine. International organizations congratulate the management of ongoing affairs. The West Bank is much more modern than South Sudan, the State most recently admitted into the UN...
1000 faces of Gaza, by Katia Clarens and Valérie Lucas : Besides the West Bank there is the Gaza Strip, run by the Islamists of Hamas, infamous for bloody suicide attacks in Israel. In retaliation the territory is subjected to a blockade. In retorsion Hamas sends rockets to Israel, that counter-attacks... Violence that severely penalizes civilians. A majority has nothing to do with Hamas and wishes they would leave. But there are also Salafist groups that find Hamas too moderate... Exclusive report.
Frontiers of Discord, by Alexis Monchovet and Sophie Claudet: There are other obstacles to the creation of a Palestinian State. First, frontiers. The Israelis don't want to hear anymore about the lines traced before the Six-Day War. For strategic or religious reasons, they multiply colonies in the West Bank, monopolizing the water and the best land. Jewish colons also settle in and around Jerusalem. How can a viable State be created under these conditions?
And the right of return? by Negar Zoka and Malek Sahraoui: Another concern, the Palestinian refugee question. There are approximately five million outside the territories. More than in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The right of return is transmitted from generation to generation. In Lebanon some have been rotting away for more than 60 years in unsanitary camps. Only a minority can return to Israel or Palestine.
The pro-Israel lobby in the United States, Estelle Youssouffa and Christophe Obert: Despite UN Resolutions, Israel has long been able to count on unfailing support from the top world power. Because the Israeli lobby is very influential in the United States, with a mixture of Jewish organizations and conservative Christians. Their pressure weighs with all its weight on American foreign policy. But the Arab Spring has redistributed the cards.
Posted on 10/23/2011 10:45 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 23 October 2011
John Morton Blum
John M. Blum, Historian of Presidents, Dies at 90
John M. Blum, an influential historian of the American presidency whose 1954 biography of a maligned Theodore Roosevelt was pivotal in establishing the 26th president’s reputation as one of the country’s great chief executives, died on Monday at his home in North Branford, Conn. He was 90.
His death was confirmed by his son, Thomas.
Professor Blum, who taught at Yale from 1957 until 1991, was the author or editor of 18 books, almost all of which explored in some way the personalities and circumstances that drove political leaders to become agents of progressive social change, even when, like Roosevelt, they were heirs to wealth rooted in the American status quo.
He wrote extensively about the presidencies of Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt, and his immersion in the diaries and personal papers of his subjects gave his work a texture and level of detail that could dazzle fellow scholars — and sometimes drive away more casual readers. He never wrote a best seller.
But he was one of four scholars, along with Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., James MacGregor Burns and Frank Freidel, who pioneered the study of the American presidency in the 20th century, said David M. Kennedy of Stanford, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and a former student of Professor Blum’s.
In “The Republican Roosevelt,” Professor Blum argued that Theodore Roosevelt had reinvigorated a presidency that had been in decline since the Civil War. Using his presidential powers, Roosevelt pushed Congress, the emerging labor movement and unregulated corporate juggernauts into compromises that in Professor Blum’s view ultimately stabilized the democracy.
Though that view is accepted now, Roosevelt’s presidency, from 1901 to 1909, was considered mediocre at the time, partly because he had not led the country in war. He was portrayed by many as a buffoonish caricature of a national leader.
“Until ‘Republican Roosevelt’ was published, Theodore Roosevelt was seen as this grinning caricature, a perennial adolescent overshadowed by the great figure of F.D.R. and the tragic figure of Woodrow Wilson,” said Lewis L. Gould, professor emeritus of American history at the University of Texas.
Professor Blum argued that, in fact, Roosevelt’s genius for governance established a model for Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt as well as all the others who followed him. “Whether we agree or disagree with him, anyone studying Theodore Roosevelt since 1954 stands in John Blum’s shadow,” Professor Gould said.
John Morton Blum was born on April 29, 1921, in Manhattan, the oldest of three children of Morton Gustav Blum, a businessman and inventor, and the former Edna LeVino. The family later moved to Long Island. Professor Blum attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., and Harvard, paying for his education through scholarships and summer jobs, Thomas Blum said.
After graduating from Harvard in 1943, Professor Blum served in the Navy during World War II. He returned to Harvard to earn a master’s degree in 1947 and a Ph.D. in 1950. In 1944, he married Pamela Louise Zink.
Besides his son, Professor Blum is survived by his wife and two daughters, Pamela, of Kingston, N.Y., and Ann, of Arlington, Mass., and three grandchildren.
Professor Blum joined the Yale faculty after teaching for nine years at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His students at Yale included the scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr., Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts and former President George W. Bush, though when asked about Mr. Bush, Professor Blum told The New York Times in 2000 that he did not “have the foggiest recollection of him.”
Another former student, the historian David Greenberg, writing this week in the online magazine Slate, described Professor Blum as a “campus celebrity” and “the last actively teaching member of Yale’s fabled troika” of teaching historians, the others being C. Vann Woodward and Edmund S. Morgan. Dr. Greenberg recalled one Blum seminar in which students had to write a paper without using adjectives, adverbs or the verb “to be.”
Professor Blum published an eight-volume collection of Theodore Roosevelt’s letters between 1951 and 1954. The scholarship involved in that project later enriched “The Republican Roosevelt,” imbuing it with personal details, political context and a grasp of the great self-discipline behind the famous grin worn by a man who lost his wife and mother on the same day in 1884. “It was written beautifully,” Professor Kennedy said, “like a prose poem.”
Professor Blum traced a similar pattern in his study of the New Deal. After publishing a three-volume work based on the diaries of Henry Morgenthau Jr., the treasury secretary from 1934 to 1945, Professor Blum further mined those documents in “Roosevelt and Morgenthau” (1970) and “V Was for Victory” (1976), which revisited the bigotry, civil-liberties abuses and propaganda that pervaded the American home front during World War II.
In 1982, Professor Blum received a phone call from someone who said he was Woody Allen, asking him to appear in his next film.
“He didn’t believe it was Woody Allen, of course,” Thomas Blum said. But when the man persisted, verifying his identity by dropping the name of one of the film’s co-producers, a former student of Professor Blum’s, the professor agreed.
Professor Blum’s film debut was in “Zelig,” the 1983 faux documentary about a fictional human chameleon, played by Mr. Allen, who becomes a celebrity in the 1920s. Professor Blum is one of an intellectual all-star cast of mock experts interviewed onscreen to give their views on the meaning of the life of Leonard Zelig. The others included Susan Sontag, Bruno Bettelheim, Irving Howe and Saul Bellow.
Professor Blum is identified in the film as “The author of ‘Interpreting Zelig.’ ” But afterward, in conversations with his family, Thomas Blum said, “he actually never said what he thought ‘Zelig’ meant.”
Posted on 10/23/2011 10:40 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 23 October 2011
Qaddafy In Context: With Friends And Acquaintances Similarly Taking A Leadership Role
Tiptoe through these tulips here.
Posted on 10/23/2011 10:16 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 23 October 2011
Daniel Kahneman: Those "Wealth Management" And Other Investment Experts Fool Others And Themselves
Read Daniel Kahneman on the fabulously-rewarded con game here.
Posted on 10/23/2011 10:20 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 23 October 2011
CAMERA With Another Example Of Ha'aretz Losing Something In Its Translations
October 23, 2011
Ha'aretz Lost in Translation, IX
In the wake of the Shalit prisoner release, Ha'aretz's Lost in Translation has struck again. An Oct. 19 article on earlier prisoner exchanges makes clear in Hebrew that the released Palestinian prisoners from the Shalit deal are from the most infamous terror attacks, well-known to Israelis (CAMERA's translation):
The names of the 1,233 prisoners released in recent years mean little to most Israelis. But the prisoners from the Shalit deal are known to the public according the names of the attacks in which they participated: Sbarro, Dolphinarium, Park Hotel, Moment Cafe, and more, among the most severe attacks ever in Israel, and that is the difference [between this release and earlier releases]. (Emphasis added.)
But the English translation of this article, read mostly by foreigners -- journalists, diplomats, and policymakers, among them -- reads the exact opposite. Incredibly, contrary to the Hebrew original, it states that the released Palestinian prisoners from the Shalit deal are unknown to Israelis. The English reads:
The names of most of the prisoners freed since July 2007 mean little to most Israelis, as do the names of the prisoners freed on Tuesday.
Furthermore, the Hebrew (online) subheadline and first paragraph both refer to the earlier releases as Israeli "gestures," meaning that Israel was not bound to do so, but nevertheless did out of goodwill. In contrast, the English version eliminates the word gesture, replacing it with the longer and more vague "various political reasons."
Posted on 10/23/2011 10:32 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 23 October 2011
A Musical Interlude: Until The Real Thing Comes Along (Fats Waller)
Posted on 10/23/2011 10:57 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 23 October 2011
At Al Jazeera, Blague From The Blog Of Larbi Sadiki
At Al Jazeera, the channel that serves as the propaganda megaphone of the waddling emir of Qatar, one Larbi Sadiki, who has been allowed to obtain an academic post at the University of Exeter (along with Durham, one of those places where Middle Eastern and Islamic studies are funded by Arab, chiefly Saudi, donors, and all those who might have independent minds, might even be critical of some Arab regimes or of Islam itself, are kept systematically out, so the students are never permitted to think about Islam, and about all the ways that it might explain, or does explain, the wretchedness and failures of Muslim states, societies, and communities) gives his views on the election in Tunisia, and explains way, or minimizes, the fear, even terror, felt by the most culturally and intellectually advanced members of Tunisian society. .
Sadiki mixes the whole Tunisian business up, presenting it as "triumph for democracy." He never mentions the gigantic sums being spent by Gulf Arabs -- civilizationally lower, but financially higher, than the Tunisian secularists who have had the good fortune to learn and use French, and thus to win access to a wider, non-Islamic, altogether better and more interesting world -- to make sure that Rachid Ghannouchi, a sinister figure playing the "no-one-here-but-us-moderates" game, one devoutly wished for, and thus believed in, by the same kind of Western journalists who, early on, had only wonderful things to say about Khomeini, that "man of faith," in 1979, or more recently have assumed that everyone who wants to overthrow this or that despot must surely , therefore, despite all the worrying evidence to the contrary, be on the side of the angels. The only angels, comparatively speaking, are those who want to keep Islam systematically tied down. Bourguiba did. And those who followed Bourguiba did. And they should not lose control of Tunisia just because Ben Ali and his family were such outrageous crooks.
Here's the Al Jazeera propaganda on behalf of Ennahda, written by one Larki Sadiki:
|The real significance of Tunisia's election
Islamists could win, but the number of Tunisians who decide to vote is even more important than who they vote for.
|On October 23, Tunisian voters will elect members of a constituent assembly to rewrite the country's constitution [AFP]
The view from the Tunisian city of Sousse is good. Voters are enthusiastically queuing up to cast their vote.
However, the importance of the poll in Tunisia is not which party wins the popular vote for the constituent assembly. The true significance will be whether Tunisia votes, and "which" Tunisia votes for which party or list.
Three questions must be addressed: Will Tunisians vote? What are Tunisians voting for? To whom are they giving their vote?
Most political observers and media pundits have turned the bulk of their attention to al-Nahda, a moderate Islamist party. Here in Tunis, the focus is on al-Nahda and many assume that they will win.
Islamists define all things political in the Arab world. This applies to extremist Islamism as well as to civic Islamism.
Indeed, October 24, 2011, the day after the election, will be a turning point in the history of Tunisia. The Islamists will resoundingly establish themselves as a key political player in the country's democratic transition. Thus far Tunisia has been run by Francophile elites favouring secular politics. In this regard, Tunisia will be following in Turkey’s footsteps.
Those who are not versed in Tunisian politics should go and stand in the square opposite the Municipality of Tunis and just absorb the architecture of political Tunisia. This square has no analogue elsewhere in the Arab world.
With the municipality to one's back, the Sadiki school - founded by reformer Khayr al-Din Pasha - symbolises not only Ottoman connections, but also a reformist agenda begun more than 150 years ago. To the right, stands the Aziza Othman hospital, named after a woman who cultivated the earliest forms of civic networks in Tunisia.
Just opposite the Kasbah, the seat of government and the lush manicured trees shading the squares joining the prime minister's office and the ministry of finance, the onlooker sees architectural syncretism at its best. Various shapes of domes and minarets - Tunisian and Ottoman - dot the skyline of Tunis, the country's hub of political power. Some of my pro-democratisation students from the University of Exeter and I brainstormed on how to understand this perennial quest for synthesis in Tunisia.
It is this synthesis which will triumph. The embrace of the Habib Bourguiba Avenue, a mini-Champs Elysees with its open-air cafes, a refuge for all, including the unemployed, and the Medina, the Old City, hints at how Tunisia will vote.
Historic Tunisia poll opens
Tunisians champion syncretism, and this is really the crux of Tunisia's "political culture". They do not wish to ditch their Arab and Islamic heritage. Nor do they wish to detach from the brighter spots of reformist politics in their history. French and European inputs into the mix of their culture are now deep-rooted and appreciated.
The Independent Electoral Commission, headed by Kemal Jendoubi, did all it could to register the country's seven million voters. Of these, only a bit less than five million have their names on the register to vote in the country’s 7,000 or so polling stations.
There is an element of voluntarism in any voting exercise. Not voting is an equal expression of the citizen's democratic will. But this is a poll where the higher the voter turnout, the bigger the chances of success. During a visit to the Sousse branch of the Electoral Observatory, Dr Amor Boubakri, professor of law at the University of Sousse, is optimistic that more than 70 per cent of those registered will cast a vote.
Millions of circular red bumper stickers stating "ana qayyadtu" (I have registered) have been distributed to those who signed up to vote. Many still decorate walls and cars.
Dr Boubakri says that Tunisians have, in this past week, realised what is expected of them for making the Arab Spring's first election a resounding success. For him, this is the most important election in the history of Tunisia. This election inaugurates democratic transition, pluralism, power-sharing, organised opposition and gender inclusiveness as never before.
When the polls close at the end of the day, voter turnout will be the most important figure to watch for. Obviously, it will be the key indicator of the level of public endorsement for this transition itinerary, begun by Khayr al-Din, a former Tunisian prime minister, in the 1850s.
It is the only majority that matters in this vote. Abstention or low voter turnout by the excluded and the people of the country’s south and the centre may not bode well for democratic transition. This silent majority, disenfranchised since independence in 1956, rebelled against the entire political system in 2011. Its absence may mean it is not ready to surrender the revolution to formal political processes. By contrast, high voter turnout would convey exactly the opposite meaning.
In some of Tunisia's largest cities such as Tunis, Nabeul, Sfax and Sousse, the excluded living in the marginal suburbs seem to have made up their mind in favour of al-Nahda. It is in these cities where al-Nahda will pick up the majority of its seats, as well as experience resistance to its programme.
A splintered electorate
In the election, political parties will contest 217 seats for the constituent assembly in 33 districts within Tunisia. To this end, more than 1,400 lists have been created. Each list must have a candidate under the age of 30 to give higher representation to the country’s youth. The names on each list are also required to alternate between men and women. Unfortunately, however, gender parity has not been always practised: Many parties did not place female candidates at the top of their candidate lists.
Each party is using the elections to gauge its own public standing. This has splintered the electoral map, and to an extent weakened the pre-revolution parties. These parties may coalesce in a fashion that could give the constituent assembly a counterweight to al-Nahda.
After the election, the political map in Tunisia will change. New political strategies will be adopted by what may be called "centrist" parties. They are neither left nor right, and have adjusted their dogmas markedly since their creation.
"Tunisians have not bonded sufficiently with their political leaders. Many do not know much about the goals of the nearly 100 parties contesting these elections."
The huge number of independents in these elections splinters the electorate, possibly turning Tunisia into a "quasi-Italian" model of democracy that is prone to instability. Two political forces share the future of Tunisia’s transition. It is therefore fallacious to think that future is solely to be in the hands of al-Nahda. If the Democratic Forum for Labour and Liberties and the Progressive Democratic Party between them collect 25 to 30 per cent of the popular vote, then Tunisia's transition will be solid and sustainable. These two parties have not coalesced, because they are led by two equally charismatic figures. But they might have no option but to form a coalition, possibly joined by the Ettajdid Party and its allies in the Modernist Democratic Pole coalition.
Mustafa Bin Jaafar is leader of the Democratic Forum for Labour and Liberties. Like Ahmed Najib al-Chebbi, leader of the Progressive Democratic Party, Bin Jaafar is potentially a presidential hopeful. He may initially resist this urge, preferring to turn himself into a "mediator" in the constituent assembly. This role could be rewarded with al-Nahda’s endorsement of his presidency if Moncef Merzouki's Congress Party for the Republic does not poll well.
There are similar parties and blocs, namely the independents' Democratic Alliance led by the charismatic Islamist leader, Abdelfattah Mouro, whose share of the vote will not be more than five per cent. To this may be added the Tunisia Workers’ Communist Party (POCT) of Hamma Hammami, whose share of the vote will probably not exceed four per cent.
Tunisians have not bonded sufficiently with their political leaders. Many do not know much about the goals of the nearly 100 parties contesting these elections. This may be another factor limiting voter turnout.
The result in the Tunis two district will be one indicator of how the parties perform. This district is known as the "iron district", and others have dubbed it the "death district". Six prominent candidates - Mouro, al-Chebbi, Ettajdid’s Ahmed Ibrahim, al-Nahda's Su'ad Abderrahim, Ettakatol's Khalil Ezzawiya, and well-known activist Radia Nasrawi - contest from this district. How Tunisians vote in this district will be a microcosm of the polity that will emerge after the elections.
Regardless of how people vote and for whom, the ink staining the fingers of tens of thousands of Tunisian voters visible [why, shades of those purple-thumbed Iraqis back in 2005, winning praise for exercising their right to vote -- though they voted in blocs, for those whom they were told to vote for, and the only ones embracing "democracy" were the Shi'a Arabs because they knew that they constituted 65-70% of the Iraqi population] everywhere will result in a modest re-writing of the rules of political game in Tunisia... and may be the writing on the wall for those resisting the rise of the age of citizenship.
Dr Larbi Sadiki is a Senior Lecturer in Middle East Politics at the University of Exeter, and author of Arab Democratisation: Elections without Democracy (Oxford University Press, 2009) and The Search for Arab Democracy: Discourses and Counter-Discourses (Columbia University Press, 2004), and the forthcoming Hamas and the Political Process (2011).
Posted on 10/23/2011 11:01 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 23 October 2011
Sydney, Australia: Coptic Christians Continue to Raise the Alarm About Egyptian Muslim Mistreatment of Coptic Christians in Egypt
As reported by Australia's ABC this Sunday last.
'Thousands of Coptic Egyptians rally in Sydney'
'More than 3,000 people have turned out to a Coptic Egyptian rally in Sydney today.
'The rally comes after dozens of people were killed and hundreds more injured in clashes between security forces and Coptic Christian protesters in Egypt two weeks ago.'
'Clashes'. 'Clashes between'. ABC, O ABC, did you see the footage? All of it? Would not - 'dozens of Copts were killed and hundreds more injured when Egyptian soldiers and police attacked unarmed Coptic Christian protesters' be a more truthful description of what happened in Cairo? It is not a 'clash' when military vehicles are deliberately rammed into a crowd of people, and then proceed to drive over the bodies of the dead and the wounded. - CM
'In a speech to the Sydney gathering, heads of the Australian Coptic Church thanked the Federal Government for its help in extending the visas of Coptic Christians staying in Australia.
Good. We have refrained from throwing them back into the Predator Pit, that is, into rapidly sharia-izing Egypt. The next step is to grant them asylum as refugees from persecution; indeed, as refugees from what is bidding fair to become an out-and-out genocide like that which was inflicted on the Christian Armenians by the Muslims in Turkey, early last century. These Coptic Christians are genuine refugees; unlike those many Mohammedan Males of Military Age from all over dar al Islam who have gotten into so many non-Muslim countries throughout the past forty years or so.
My advice to the Copts in Australia? - Keep making noise. Keep holding rallies. Keep up the pressure on our politicians. Keep explaining to them, over and over, what the Muslims are doing to the Copts in Egypt: the kidnappings, the rapes and forced 'conversions' of women and even of underage girls, the church-burnings and pillagings and burnings of homes and businesses, the huge mobs that swarm out of the mosques Friday after Friday and descend on defenceless Coptic neighbourhoods to smash, burn, rob and kill. Start asking the Australian government why it allows your persecutors - Egyptian Muslims - to pursue you to Australia and to become ever more numerous and powerful. Ask why Australian non-Muslims look on complacently, and do not worry, when a Muslim graduate of Al Azhar University in Cairo is elected Mufti of all Muslims in Australia - and give examples of the venom that spews, regularly, from the mouths of so many Al Azhar 'scholars'. Protest, as the Jews protested when it was discovered that unrepentant German Nazis and their sympathisers and collaborators formed part of our post-war migrant intake. Explain that the presence of a swelling and ever more aggressive Muslim 'community' in Australia represents to you not only a painful reminder of past trauma that you thought you had left far behind on the other side of the world, but fills you with a real, rational fear of what might happen to you - and to other non-Muslim Australians - in the future. Say it! And get Dr Mark Durie to help you explain how all of this that is happening in Egypt is in continuity with the way that Muslims have treated Copts from the moment that Muslims first gained control of Egypt, way back when; and how it fits with the dhimma system, the sacralised and institutionalised humiliation, exploitation and subjugation of non-Muslims that forms a major part of the sharia, the law of Islam. - CM
Posted on 10/23/2011 9:24 PM by Christina McIntosh
Sunday, 23 October 2011
In The New Libya, All Laws Must Comply With Shari'a
MISRATA, Libya — Libya's transitional leader declared his country's liberation Sunday after an 8-month civil war and set out plans for the future with an Islamist tone. The announcement was clouded, however, by international pressure to explain how ousted dictator Moammar Gadhafi had been captured alive days earlier, then ended up dead from a gunshot to his head shortly afterward.
Gadhafi's death in circumstances that are still unclear, and the gruesome spectacle of his body laid out as a trophy in a commercial freezer and on public view, are testing the new Libyan leaders' commitment to the rule of law. Even at the ceremony to declare liberation, two speakers in positions of authority essentially said Gadhafi got what he deserved.
But transitional government leader Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, who made the keynote speech, did not mention the events surrounding Gadhafi's end and called on his people to eschew hatred.
"You should only embrace honesty, patience, and mercy," Abdul-Jalil told the crowd at the declaration ceremony in the eastern city of Benghazi, the birthplace of the uprising against Gadhafi. He urged Libyans to reconcile their differences.
And he laid out a vision for the post-Gadhafi future with an Islamist tint, saying Islamic Sharia law would be the "basic source" of legislation and existing laws that contradict the teachings of Islam would be nullified. In a gesture that showed his own piety, he urged Libyans not to express their joy by firing guns in the air, but rather to chant "Allahu Akbar," or God is Great. He then stepped aside from the podium and knelt to offer a brief prayer of thanks.
Using Sharia as the main source of legislation is stipulated in the constitution of neighboring Egypt. Still, Egyptian laws remain largely secular as Sharia does not cover all aspects of modern day life.
The uprising against Gadhafi erupted in February as part of anti-government revolts spreading across the Middle East. Neighboring Tunisia, which put the so-called Arab Spring in motion with mass protests nearly a year ago, has taken the biggest step on the path to democracy, voting for a new assembly Sunday in its first truly free elections. Egypt, which has struggled with continued unrest, is next with parliamentary elections slated for November.
Libya's struggle has been the bloodiest so far in the region. Mass protests quickly turned into a civil war that killed thousands and paralyzed the country for the past eight months. Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte was the last loyalist stronghold to fall last week, but Gadhafi's son and one-time heir apparent, Seif al-Islam, apparently escaped with some of his supporters.
Abdul-Jalil paid tribute to the Gulf Cooperation Council, a six-nation alliance led by Saudi Arabia, the Arab League and the European Union. NATO, which aided the anti-Gadhafi fighters with airstrikes, performed its task with "efficiency and professionalism," he added.
President Barack Obama congratulated Libyans on the declaration.
"After four decades of brutal dictatorship and eight months of deadly conflict, the Libyan people can now celebrate their freedom and the beginning of a new era of promise," he said.
But just hours before that statement, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Britain's new defense secretary, Philip Hammond, said a full investigation into Gadhafi's death is necessary.
Hammond said the Libyan revolutionaries' image had been "a little bit stained" by Gadhafi's death, Hammond adding that the new government "will want to get to the bottom of it in a way that rebuilds and cleanses that reputation."
"It's certainly not the way we do things," Hammond told BBC television. "We would have liked to see Col. Gadhafi going on trial to answer for his misdeeds."
Clinton told NBC's "Meet the Press" that she backs a proposal that the United Nations investigate Gadhafi's death and that Libya's National Transitional Council look into the circumstances, too.
An autopsy confirmed that Gadhafi died from a gunshot to the head, Libya's chief pathologist, Dr. Othman al-Zintani, said. However, the pathologist said he would not disclose further details or elaborate on Gadhafi's final moments, saying he would first deliver a full report to the attorney general.
Libya's acting prime minister, Mahmoud Jibril, said he would not oppose an investigation, but cited an official reporting saying a wounded Gadhafi was killed in crossfire following his capture. Addressing the celebrations around Gadhafi's body, Jibril told the BBC in an interview on Sunday: "You have to appreciate the agony that people went through for 42 years."
The 69-year-old Gadhafi was captured wounded, but alive Thursday in his hometown of Sirte, the last city to fall to revolutionary forces. Bloody images of Gadhafi being taunted and beaten by his captors have raised questions about whether he was deliberately executed.
Gadhafi's body has been on public display in a commercial freezer in a shopping center in the port city of Misrata, which suffered from a bloody siege by regime forces that instilled a virulent hatred for the dictator in Misrata's residents.
People have lined up for days to view the body, which was laid out on a mattress on the freezer floor. The bodies of Gadhafi's son Muatassim and his ex-defense minister Abu Bakr Younis also were put on display, and people wearing surgical masks have filed past, snapping photos of the bodies.
The New York-based group Human Rights Watch, which viewed the bodies, said video footage, photos and other information it obtained "indicate that they might have been executed after being detained."
"Finding out how they died matters," said Sarah Leah Whitson of Human Rights Watch. "It will set the tone for whether the new Libya will be ruled by law or by summary violence."
The Syrian-based Al-Rai TV station, which has served as a mouthpiece for the Gadhafi clan, said the dictator's wife, Safiya, also demanded an investigation.
The vast majority of Libyans seemed unconcerned about the circumstances of the hated leader's death, but rather was relieved the country's ruler of 42 years was gone, clearing the way for a new beginning.
"If he (Gadhafi) was taken to court, this would create more chaos, and would encourage his supporters," said Salah Zlitni, 31, who owns a pizza parlor in downtown Tripoli. "Now it's over."
Posted on 10/23/2011 1:40 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 23 October 2011
"You Are A Terrorist And An Assassin! Go Back To London!"
Huge turnout in Tunisia's Arab Spring election
By Tarek Amara and Christian Lowe
TUNIS (Reuters) - Tunisians turned out in huge numbers to vote in the country's first free election on Sunday, 10 months after Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in a protest that started the Arab Spring uprisings.
The leader of an Islamist party predicted to win the biggest share of the vote was heckled outside a polling station by people shouting "terrorist," highlighting tensions between Islamists and secularists being felt across the Arab world.
The suicide of vegetable peddler Bouazizi, prompted by despair over poverty and government repression, provoked mass protests which forced President Zine al-Abidine to flee Tunisia. This in turn inspired uprisings in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria and Bahrain.
Rachid Ghannouchi, leader of the moderately[who decided on this epithet? Who decided that this would become standard, de rigueur, positively Homeric?] Islamist Ennahda party, took his place in the queue outside a polling station in the El Menzah 6 district of the capital.
"This is an historic day," he said, accompanied by his wife and daughter, both wearing Islamic headscarves, or hijabs. "Tunisia was born today. The Arab Spring was born today."
As he emerged from the polling station, about a dozen people shouted at him: "Degage," French for "Go away," and "You are a terrorist and an assassin! Go back to London!"
Ghannouchi, who spent 22 years in exile in Britain, has associated his party with the moderate Islamism of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. He has said he will not try to impose Muslim values on society.
In Tunisia, ideas about Islam, and restrictions on things like alcohol, are more relaxed than in many Arab countries.
"This morning I voted for Ennahda and this evening I am going to drink a few beers," said Makram, a young man from the working class Ettadamen neighbourhood of Tunis.
Nevertheless, the party's rise worries secularists who believe their country's liberal traditions are now under threat.
Across Tunisia, queues stretching hundreds of metres formed outside polling stations from early in the morning for an election which could set the template for other Middle Eastern states emerging from the Arab Spring.
Kamel Jandoubi, head of the independent commission organising the vote, said that when there were still three hours of voting to go, turnout had reached nearly 70 percent.
That level of voter interest was never seen during Ben Ali's rule. Then, only a trickle of people turned out for elections because they knew the result was predetermined.
"This is the first time I have voted," said Karima Ben Salem, 45, at a polling station in the Lafayette area of Tunis.
"I've asked the boys to make their own lunch. I don't care ... Today I am not on duty. Or rather, I am on duty for my country," she said.
The doors to voting stations closed as scheduled at 7:00 p.m. (1800 GMT) but at one location in Ettadamen, where Ennahda is strong, there were still 300 people inside waiting to vote.
"Everyone who is inside will be allowed to vote, even if it takes us to midnight," an election officer said.
Sunday's vote is for an assembly that will draft a new constitution to replace the one Ben Ali manipulated to entrench his power. It will also appoint an interim government and set elections for a new president and parliament.
Most forecasts are that Ennahda will not have enough seats for a majority in the assembly, forcing it to seek a coalition which will dilute the Islamists' influence.
It will have to compete with secularist parties, who will try to form a coalition to stop Ennahda forming a majority.
Ennahda has been at pains to assuage the concerns of secularists and Western powers. Yet observers say there is tension inside the party between Ghannouchi's moderate line and more vehement Islamists among the rank and file.
A final election rally on Friday illustrated the party's contradictions as Suad Abdel-Rahim, a tall, glamorous female Ennahda candidate who does not wear a veil, addressed the crowd.
But many books on sale on the fringes of the rally were by writers who belong to the strict Salafist branch of Islam. They believe women should be segregated from men in public and that elections are un-Islamic.
"I'm not so optimistic about the result of the vote," said Ziyed Tijiani, a 26-year-old architect who had just cast his vote. His forefinger was stained with the blue ink used in polling stations to stop ballot fraud.
"I think the Islamists could win. It's not want I want. They may try to change the way I live," he said, accompanied by a young woman in jeans and T-shirt.
An Ennahda victory would be the first such success in the Arab world since Hamas won a 2006 Palestinian vote. Islamists won a 1991 election in Algeria, Tunisia's neighbor. The army annulled the result, provoking years of conflict.
Ennahda's fortunes may have a bearing on Egyptian elections set for next month in which the Muslim Brotherhood, an ideological ally, also hopes to emerge strongest.
Tunisia's election will be watched too in neighbouring Libya, which plans elections next year after a bloody revolt ousted Muammar Gaddafi.
Tunisian election officials say they will spend Sunday night counting the ballot papers, and are unlikely to release preliminary results until Monday.
Tim Pawlenty, former governor of the U.S. state of Minnesota, was part of a delegation observing the vote from the International Republican Institute.
"The turnout seems to be good. The process has been orderly so far but it is too early to make any final conclusions," he told Reuters.
He said at one voting precinct he asked a man if Tunisia had left enough time to prepare for the election. "He paused, looked at me and said: 'Yes, I had 30 years preparation for this'," Pawlenty said.
Posted on 10/23/2011 3:56 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald