These are all the Blogs posted on Saturday, 23, 2013.
Saturday, 23 February 2013
Pistoriusâ€™ Public Relatives
I am not much good at idolatry. I regard Nelson Mandela as less than a god, though I can see his merits such as dignity, old age and a talent for conciliation. Neither have I been carried away by Oscar Pistorius, said to be the second most admired South African, perhaps because I place athletic prowess rather low on the scale of human accomplishment. In my heart of hearts I even find the adulation accorded him bizarre, tasteless, dishonest and emotionally kitsch: but one is not allowed to say so.
I nevertheless found the reports of his appearance in court on a charge of having murdered his girlfriend fascinating, more for what they told us about ourselves and our society than for what they told us about him. We must, of course, bear in mind that the facts of the case are not yet fully known; no man is guilty until he is proven so.
But it is clear that he was accorded considerably more sympathy in the report of The Guardian for 16th February than would have been the case if he were, shall we say, a tattooed member of the National Front with a Staffordshire bull terrier who was in more or less the same position: ‘He remained inconsolable and silent, a lonely man in a crowded room.’
Then we read the following, which makes Mr Pecksniff seem like a pioneer of raw self-examination: Pistorius’s family and management company issued a statement making it clear that he intends to fight the charge.
“Firstly, and most importantly, all our thoughts today must be with the family and friends of Reeva Steenamp.”
Just how focussed the thoughts of Pistorius’s family were on the family and friends of Reeva Steenkamp may be judged by the following. Stuart Higgins, a former editor of the Sun and now a PR consultant, has flown to South Africa to help co-ordinate the Pistorius family’s press strategy. Presumably Mr Higgins did not fly to South Africa on the off-chance that he might be wanted.
Management companies’ statements, PR consultants, press strategies: everything is a matter of appearances and how to put a gloss on them, rather than of deeds actually done and their real meaning. With such widespread shallowness, perhaps Mr Pistorius would make a good President of South Africa and Mr Higgins a good Prime Minister of Great Britain. We already know how good a training PR is for the latter job.
WASHINGTON — As President Obama intensifies his campaign for a broad overhaul of the nation’s immigration system, advocates for America’s 11 million illegal immigrants are stepping up demands that he stop what has become one of the most aggressive and efficient efforts in decades to round up and deport people who are in the United States unlawfully.
In four years, Mr. Obama’s administration has deported as many illegal immigrants as the administration of George W. Bush did in his two terms, largely by embracing, expanding and refining Bush-era programs to find people and send them home. By the end of this year, deportations under Mr. Obama are on track to reach two million, or nearly the same number of deportations in the United States from 1892 to 1997.
That effort has helped Mr. Obama lay claim to being tough on illegal immigration, giving him some added credibility with conservatives as he calls for an overhaul of the system by the summer. But it has also left him caught between powerful and impassioned political forces at a critical moment in the immigration debate.
Although critics have long cited lax enforcement as a reason to oppose giving illegal immigrants a way to become legal residents, activists say the deportation policy has become an unfair and indiscriminate dragnet that is forcing people out of the country at exactly the wrong moment — when the promise of eventual United States citizenship could be around the corner.
“Enforcing a broken system aggressively right before we’re about to change it is not just not compassionate, it’s cruel,” said Jim Wallis, the chief executive of Sojourners, a Christian social action group. “If you are breaking up families because of politics, we’re going to speak out against you.”
Administration officials insist that the government has worked hard over the last four years to make deporting criminals the top priority, while allowing law enforcement officers more discretion on deciding whom to send home. They say the perception of a huge crackdown is erroneous and misleading.
“We focused on smart, effective enforcement that prioritizes the removal of criminal aliens, recent border crossers and egregious immigration law violators,” said Matthew Chandler, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security.
But those claims are disputed by immigrant activists, who say that many of those being deported have done nothing wrong except to enter the country illegally. Since 2010, the government has deported more than 200,000 parents of children who are United States citizens, according to a recent report.
“Our communities are being torn apart for minor offenses,” said Lorella Praeli, the director of advocacy and policy at United We Dream, the largest network of young immigrants here illegally. She pointed to a case last month in Arizona, where the mother of a young immigration activist was detained and put on a bus for deportation before an outcry on social media got her case turned around. “We expect more leadership from the president on this issue.”
For Mr. Obama, the rising anger about deportations is an echo of what happened last summer, when activists focused on the plight of illegal immigrants who had come to the United States as young children. Fighting for re-election, the president deferred the removal of the young people from the country.
Now, the same activists are pressing the president and his top advisers to expand the deferrals to a much broader cross-section of illegal immigrants. Representatives of several groups pushed the idea in an online chat with Mr. Obama’s top domestic policy adviser this month. And the president was confronted directly in two recent interviews with Spanish-language television networks and during another online chat.
“In the spirit of your push for immigration reform, would you consider a moratorium on deportations of noncriminals?” María Elena Salinas of Univision asked Mr. Obama last month.
The president said he could not, reflecting a belief among top White House aides and their allies in Washington that a large reduction in deportations would enrage Republicans in Congress and doom any hope for a bipartisan immigration overhaul this year.
Senator John McCain of Arizona said recently that there had been “real improvements” in immigration enforcement efforts, including more security at the border, and that “it helps a lot” in the fight for immigration legislation this year. Administration officials said that kind of praise might evaporate if deportations suddenly stopped.
In a White House meeting with immigration activists this month, Mr. Obama said a moratorium on deportations would go beyond what he could legally do and would undermine the legislative efforts, according to several of those present. Angela Maria Kelley, the vice president for immigration policy at the Center for American Progress, said some of the activists were being unrealistic.["Unrealistic"? No, they were being outrageous.]
“It feels like it’s a little bit tone-deaf to what’s going on up in Capitol Hill,” she said. “I’m sympathetic to the feeling that people are hemorrhaging. But at the end of the day the real cure comes from Congress.”
Officials also say there are legal burdens on the administration, which is required to enforce the laws that Congress has passed. Much of the increase in deportations, they say, is the result of huge increases in financing from Congress, with orders to use the money to enforce immigration laws.
Within those constraints, administration officials said that Janet Napolitano, the homeland security secretary, had tried to narrow the department’s focus by giving discretion to prosecutors, stopping some raids, shifting officers to the border and looking for illegal immigrants in jails rather than in communities.
While those efforts have not reduced the overall number of deportations, officials argue that the steps have made them fairer, even as the mandate from Congress to enforce the laws is fulfilled. Officials note that a recent survey found that the president’s job approval rating among Hispanics was 73 percent, up from 48 percent at the end of 2011.
“This enforcement equation is at a different place than it was 10 years ago,” Cecilia Muñoz, the president’s chief domestic policy adviser, said in the online chat this month. “That should be giving us the room to have a constructive debate.”
The administration’s aggressive deportation policies have failed to sway some of the president’s most vocal conservative critics, who continue to insist that Mr. Obama is doing too little to secure the border and crack down on illegal immigrants.
At a hearing on immigration last week, Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama, railed against what he called the lack of enforcement during Mr. Obama’s tenure, even as Capitol police officers were dragging out immigration protesters who yelled, “Stop deportations now!”
“Had this administration done a better job of enforcement, had been more effective in moving forward with a lawful system of immigration, you would be in a much stronger position with the American people,” Mr. Sessions said.
Ms. Napolitano defended the administration, saying that immigration and border control agents had one of the toughest jobs in the country.
“They get criticized because we’re deporting too many people,” Ms. Napolitano told Mr. Sessions, a bit of exasperation in her voice. “And as I mentioned in my testimony, we’ve deported more people than any prior administration. Then they get criticized for not deporting everyone who is here illegally.”
This work of Dr. Dixon is impressive, solid, sound, and reliable both in its contents and in its presentation. I want also to emphasize the need for this collection of writings: accessible to English-speaking students and to a larger audience, this book serves a valuable purpose in demonstrating the diversity of literary and cultural approaches as well as reminding the modern reader of traditional and long-acclaimed theories. Universalism has been challenged only in recent decades and this collection of studies underlines its former strength and grandeur. As a professor of French in an English-speaking University, I would be happy to use this book for studies in culture and civilization.
- Hélène Cazès, University of Victoria
As a believer in Europe’s civilization and varied cultures as prime movers in the progress of humanity I warmly welcome Jack Dixon’s broad and enriching surveys through the eyes of the most prominent experts as well as his own of one of Europe’s great literatures. Through her literature we can evaluate France’s distinctive culture and measure her, in some ways disproportionately large, contribution to Europe’s literary art and thought. A timely and outstanding introduction to French literature.
- Frederic Delouche, Editor of Europe, A History of its Peoples and Illustrated History of Europe
The reader wonders, at first glance, how it is that a work such as this has not been published before. Since the springtime known as the Renaissance, French writers have toiled passionately over the very characteristics which, to their minds, define the literature which they themselves are busily making illustrious. We consider this undertaking both original and needed, for this collection of studies is impressive by virtue of both the coherence and the diversity of the texts, drawn as they are from a period of one hundred years.
These reflections bring out the essential moral and intellectual values that direct French literary creation not only in search of wisdom, but also within each literary genre. These permanent virtues are insisted on by the defenders of “tradition,” and equally for the “ruptures” which, paradoxically, work on behalf of the persistence of the French genius.
The French-speaking reader will appreciate the elegance and clarity of the translations which allow him to read and re-read texts some of which are not easy to obtain. This work is dedicated specifically to all those who, by their words as by their deeds, take up the cause of freedom of expression and the pursuit of truth.
- Guy Demerson, Clermont-Ferrand
Critics play a role in the growth and development of many facets of the human enterprise, but one cannot overestimate their importance for the vitality of cultural and intellectual renewal. Literary critics in particular are crucial for analysing a work and for detecting the values and ideas that constitute its specificity. In terms of French literature, for example, critics have taught us what is distinctive (for instance, seventeenth-century classicism), and what is part of a wider European movement (eighteenth-century romanticism). In short, they have contributed to defining the quintessential spirit of French literature.
The present work reflects Dr Dixon’s lifelong interest in both the literature of France and its critical tradition. He is eminently qualified to undertake this work of synthesizing the critics’ view of French literature through the ages. The breadth of his scholarship is equaled by his intellectual curiosity, a commitment to accuracy and clarity (most evident in the quality of the essays he has translated from the French), and a well-honed ability to discern the values both of works of literature and critiques of those works.
Such are the hallmarks of Professor Dixon's scholarship, and the qualities that inform his selection of the essays in this volume.
In Mali, The Madrassahs, And Dangers Posed To Students By Those "Well-Versed In The Qur'an"
Mali's Islamic radicals recruited child soldiers at madrassa schools in Gao
February 23, 2013
In this photo taken Monday, Feb. 18, 2013, children attend a class in a madrassa in Gao, northern Mali. Nearly a month after the al-Qaida-linked militants were driven out of Gao and into the surrounding villages, students are now returning to the city's Quranic schools. Many classrooms, though, are still half full, as tens of thousands of people fled the fighting and strict Islamic rule imposed by the extremists. However, other pupils left Gao not with their families but with the Islamic fighters when they retreated, say human rights activists and local officials. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) (The Associated Press)
In this picture taken Monday Feb. 18, 2013, children gather at the door of Mohamed Salia's madrassa in Gao, northern Mali. Nearly a month after the al-Qaida-linked militants were driven out of Gao and into the surrounding villages, students are now returning to the city's Quranic schools. Many classrooms, though, are still half full, as tens of thousands of people fled the fighting and strict Islamic rule imposed by the extremists. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) (The Associated Press)
In this photo taken Monday, Feb. 18, 2013, Mohamed Salia teaches in his Madrassa in Gao, northern Mali. Nearly a month after the al-Qaida-linked militants were driven out of Gao and into the surrounding villages, students are now returning to the city's Quranic schools. Many classrooms, though, are still half full, as tens of thousands of people fled the fighting and strict Islamic rule imposed by the extremists. However, other pupils left Gao not with their families but with the Islamic fighters when they retreated, say human rights activists and local officials. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) (The Associated Press)
A Malian schoolgirl listens to her teacher as schools reopen in Gao, northern Mali, Monday Feb. 18, 2013. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) (The Associated Press)
A Malian schoolgirl stands at the blackboard as schools reopen in Gao, northern Mali, Monday Feb. 18, 2013. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) (The Associated Press)
GAO, Mali – The radical Islamic fighters showed up at Mohamed Salia's Quranic school, armed with weapons and demanding to address his students.
The leader, named Hamadi, entered one of the classrooms, took a piece of chalk and scrawled his message on the blackboard.
"How to wage holy war," he wrote in Arabic. "How to terrorize the enemy in combat," the lesson plan continued.
Then his mobile phone rang, and he stepped away to answer. Salia urged his students to pose some questions of their own when he returned: Where had he come from and what did he want with a bunch of young people?
Hamadi told the students that people didn't ask questions like that where he was from. Islam knows no nationality, he replied and then left — and did not return before the French-led military operation ousted him and his fighters from power last month.
"I told my students to be careful: that these men may be well-versed in the Quran but their Islamic point of view is not the same as ours," the teacher recalled.
Nearly a month after the al-Qaida-linked militants were driven out of Gao and into the surrounding villages, students are now returning to the city's Quranic schools.
Many classrooms, though, are still half full, as tens of thousands of people fled the fighting and strict Islamic rule the extremists.
However, other pupils left Gao not with their families but with the Islamic fighters when they retreated, say human rights activists and local officials.
The experience of the Gao schools illustrates how the extremists used madrassas in northern Mali to indoctrinate young people and to recruit child soldiers.
The Islamic radicals attacked Gao several times this week, their second assault on the strategic city since they retreated in the face of French and Malian military, and their young recruits appear to be part of the strategy of MUJAO, or Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa.
"MUJAO took many of the students from the Quranic schools because they speak Arabic and are easier to convert and manipulate," Gao Mayor Sadou Diallo told The Associated Press. "Between 200 and 300 children have disappeared with the jihadists." [easier to manipulate partly because they can be quoted Qur'anic verses, or Hadith, with all the ferocity of the original Arabic undiluted]
"The schools were all complicit. They didn't have a choice — if you didn't collaborate with MUJAO you died," Diallo said.
An untold number of children are believed to have been killed in the January fighting in central Mali, he said, and when jihadist strongholds were bombed in Gao during the military intervention last month.
Dozens of child soldiers were believed to be living in a government customs building that was later bombed during the military offensive, residents say. The Islamic fighters took away their wounded before it could be determined how many casualties there were at the site.
The rubble of the building is littered with tiny children's shoes, and notebooks and pieces of wood on which the children copied Quranic verses. The children's writing in pen on notebook paper depicts verses seeking protection from evil.
Imams and directors of the Quranic schools in Gao say it was here that the youths were radicalized, while the existing schools continued their regular curriculum.
Students who were plucked from classrooms in Gao and the surrounding communities came to the customs building to study and prepare for war.
At the Adadatou Alislamiatou madrassa in Gao, pupils are now back in class after the disruptions caused by the fighting and a Feb. 10 attack when the militants re-invaded the city in a show of force before being forced back into the bush by French and Malian forces.
As the afternoon sun bakes the ground outside the classroom hut, 10-year-old Abdoulaye Ousmane leads his classmates in reciting Quranic verses while their teacher attends prayers at the nearby mosque.
Sporting a soccer jersey and flip-flops, Abdoulaye sings out the words as he traces the Arabic script in chalk with his pointer, and an exuberant group of nearly 50 other children loudly sing back to him loudly.
They sit cross-legged on mats on the sand floor of the thatched hut — the girls on one side all wearing headscarves with some carrying Hannah Montana backpacks, too.
As these students return to school after the MUAO occupation, their teachers say many have been traumatized by the gunfire and fighting. Religious instructors are also confronted with how best to guide their students who have been exposed to the extremist ideology of al-Qaida-linked militants.
During the reign of the MUJAO, the Islamic fighters amputated hands of suspected thieves in public squares. Billboards displayed around town ordered women to cover themselves in public.
The Islamic militants capitalized on the city's poverty, offering sign-on bonuses and monthly salaries to those who joined their cause, imams said.
Abdourhamane Maiga, assistant director of the Adadatou Alislamiatou madrassa, recalls one student who dropped out of school after being asked to repeat a grade.
The next time Maiga saw the pupil, he was wielding a firearm with the Islamic fighters at their police headquarters downtown.
"They didn't come here to practice Islam," he says of the extremists. "The prophet never would have accepted a child of 10 years old waging jihad and taking up arms." [the usual I-can't-bear-to-recognize-the-truth-about
And those foundations to which he left his billiions -- what will they spend those billions on? The most appropraite recipients are now living in poverty, in Hebrew Homes for the Aged, in New York , Miami, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem. Yes, "nothiing can make up for it." But how about doing something? What about it?
In several southern European countries, such as Italy, after being imported from Asia via goods shipments, and is likely to expand its range north as the climate changes.
Species which are already in the UK and causing problems include common ragweed, which came in to Europe from North America in grain mixes intended as bird feed and is a potent trigger for hayfever and other allergies.
Across Europe, invasive alien species cost around £10 billion a year, the EEA report said.
Species are most commonly brought in for horticulture, while other reasons they are brought in include farming, hunting and fishing or as pets. Some stow away in ships' ballast, such as the zebra mussel and are introduced unintentionally, the study said.
Jacqueline McGlade, EEA executive director, sad more will come as a result of increasing tourism and trade. Climate change may also be playing a role in the spread of species, by making areas increasingly suitable for new plants and animals.
"In many areas, ecosystems are weakened by pollution, climate change and fragmentation," she said.
"Alien species invasions are a growing pressure on the natural world, which are extremely difficult to reverse."
They fear that nerve agents and chemical weapons held by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime could fall into terrorists’ hands if the government collapses entirely.
Senior officers have also held talks on a range of “rogue state” contingency plans to prevent chemical, biological or nuclear weapons from being seized by terrorists, which they fear could also happen if Pakistan or North Korea’s regimes were to collapse.
Iran, which according to one senior British source is “bent on developing nuclear weapons”, is also causing great concern to western governments.
British intelligence believes Syria has amassed an extensive arsenal of WMD including nerve agents such as Sarin – one of the most deadly weapons ever created – and chemical weapons such as mustard gas.
They have so far not been used and are currently considered to be well guarded by the Syrian security forces.
However militant Islamist groups are already inside Syria fighting against the government and would be perfectly placed to raid WMD stockpiles, according to intelligence sources.
Sources have said that the most likely option to prevent WMD falling into the hands of extremists would be to destroy stockpiles in a series of air strikes.
Alternative options include the use of special forces and troops trained in chemical warfare to secure WMD sites in Syria if and when the government eventually collapses.
An RAF Regiment unit called the Defence Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Wing based at Winterbourne Gunner, Wilts, has already been warned that it should be prepared to work alongside the SAS in securing WMD sites in the Syria at short notice.
Last week a US-based body known as the Strategic Working Group began rehearsing how WMD stockpiles would be secured in both the Middle East and the Pacific in the event of an international emergency.
The group is composed of military personnel from the US Army, Marine Corps, Navy as well as British and Australian officers and government officials.
The senior officers tested a variety of plans at a classified war gaming session called Unified Quest 2013 at the US Army Staff College at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.
The scenario focused on a failed state that has lost control of its WMD stockpiles, forcing the United States and other countries to intervene.
The location of the game was classified, but informed opinion suggested that North Korea was the target country.
One source who took part in the war games said: “We need to have plans in place so that we can properly prepare our soldiers for this job. It’s a dangerous and messy business.
"Soldiers will be driving into potentially contaminated areas, possibly under fire while handling hazardous material.”
MI5, Britain’s security service has repeatedly warned that it is “only a matter of time” before extremist groups carry out a “chemical, biological or radiological attack” on a western city.
Such an attack was also identified as a “Tier Two Priority Risk” in the 2010 National Security Strategy.
Defence sources said that one of the unintended consequences of the Arab Spring was the huge volume of illicit weapons which have entered the illegal arms market, increasing concerns about what could happen if Assad lost control of his WMD.
A source said: “After Libya collapsed thousands of man portable air defence weapons went missing and these can bring down an airliner. [there were 5,000 sorites by NATO planes to ensure Qaddafy didn't use his airforce -- why did they not take the occasion to destroy as much of Libya's weaponry in warehouses and at airports as they could?]
"We know Syria has a pretty extensive armoury and a lot of chemical weapons. We need to ensure these do not enter the terrorist food chain.”
Both British and US commanders agree that the West has paid “lip service” to training troops in WMD scenarios and has focused almost solely on counter-insurgency operations such as those undertaken in Afghanistan and Iraq.
One senior British source added: “Syria has a sizeable arsenal of chemical weapons including nerve agents and mustard gas.
"Pakistan and North Korea have nuclear weapons and it is widely believed that Iran also intends to develop a nuclear weapon.
“These are all unstable or unpredictable states and the potential for WMD ended up in the hands of terrorists is very real. We need contingency plans to deal with a wide variety of scenarios.”
The Electronically-Amplified Redundat Call To Prayer Will Be Heard
Watches, cell phones, they all give the time, and can be programmed to give, adjustable for season and location, the times for the five canonical Muslim prayers. So why should Sweden allow not merely a muezzin's call for prayer, but one that will be electronically-amplified and forced on the hearing of indigenous non-Muslims? Why should this, one more example of Muslim attempts to stake a claim, to force the Muslim presence into the consciousness of those Infidels who still may be under the impression that Sweden is their country, be allowed? To win what? Muslim gratitude? There is none. What's the point? Fear of denying Muslims that which they demand? Those demands have to be stopped, nipped in the bud,and those behind those demands slapped down, quickly and coldly.
From Today's Zaman
In a first, local Swedish authority allows Islamic call to prayer
Fittja Mosque in Stockholm (Photo: AA, Beyhan Tolan Peker)
22 February 2013 /TODAYSZAMAN.COM, Ä°STANBUL
A municipality in the Swedish capital of Stockholm has allowed the recitation of adhan, the call to prayer, through minaret speakers, in an unprecedented move.
Islamic Cultural Center of Botkyrka, a municipality in Stockholm mostly populated by immigrants, applied almost a month ago to municipal authorities, seeking permission for recitation of the adhan before Friday prayers through speakers in the minaret of the Fittja Mosque, located within the boundaries of Botkyrka.
The municipal council recently convened and unanimously approved the request. Ä°smail Okur, the head of the Islamic center, told the Anatolia news agency that the first adhan will be broadcast in March after the technical preparations are completed.
“The authorities will measure the sound level. According to the rules, the sound of the adhan shall reach two kilometers at most from the mosque,” Okur remarked, referring to the regional authorities who granted permission for the adhan recitation through minaret speakers.
He further stated that Botkyrka is a region mostly populated by Muslims and the Fittja Mosque is the only mosque in Sweden that has a minaret.
February 22nd, 2013 t’s time, a dozen years after September 11 and following Islamist coups in the Gaza Strip, Islamist electoral revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon, and Turkey, and a probable Islamist victory during the next year in Syria, to completely rethink our view of al-Qaeda.
First, al-Qaeda wasn’t involved in any of these events, and several other big developments we could list. Second, al-Qaeda hasn’t disappeared, contrary to the Obama administration’s claims. And third, the American homeland is now demonstrably well-protected from terrorist attacks, so consequently while success on this front remains important, it need not be the top U.S. strategic priority.
So let me propose a new way of looking at things: aside from being a problem of counterterrorism — that is, of law enforcement — al-Qaeda is no longer important. [not a new way of looking at things -- just a way that has been laid out, over many years, by some whose views have been given insufficient attention]
It certainly isn’t strategically important, nor is it important for the biggest and most essential U.S. national interests. That doesn’t mean al-Qaeda should be ignored, yet combatting it is relatively manageable.
This alternative view is especially significant at a moment when the new CIA director is the father — and the president, secretary of State, and secretary of Defense the avid fans — of a theory that places al-Qaeda at the center of the world stage. Basically, their theory goes like this:
Al-Qaeda is terribly evil and a threat to America. It must be fought. But all Islamism — except for al-Qaeda — can be moderated and won over by a sympathetic U.S. policy. The Islamists are the best people to handle and defeat al-Qaeda, and by giving the people what they want — Islam running the society — their desire to commit terrorism or to attack America will subside. After all, if the United States shows itself to be Islamism’s best friend, why should Islamists be angry at it?
This strategy began with Obama’s Cairo speech, which was a profoundly pro-Islamist statement, and that’s why he invited Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leaders to sit in the front row.
In other words: put your enemies in power, and they are no longer your enemies. Moreover, once Islamists get into power they will get entangled in party politics, paving roads, running schools, and doing all the other things that governments do. They will lose their radicalism and certainly stop using violence.
There’s a lot to say against this theory.
It either hasn’t worked historically on other radical ideologies — Nazism, Fascism, Communism — or at least only after a very long time in power (including millions of victims) often mixed in with military debacles. It can be said to have worked with radical Arab nationalism, but only after 50 years and multiple military defeats. This was also the precise theory that underpinned the 1990′s Oslo peace process and assumptions about Yasir Arafat settling down to become a great and practical statesman. And that didn’t work either.
Moreover, it ignores the fundamental extremism, anti-Americanism, anti-Semitism, anti-Christian, and anti-women tenets of Islamist philosophy, which are rooted in reasonable (but not the only possible) interpretations of Islam. And it also leaves out the power gained once radicals take over institutions. Sure, they’ll be running the schools, but that doesn’t mean they will become entangled in planning curricula so much as to persuade people they should grow up to be radical Islamists and jihad warriors.
Finally, all Islamists want Islamist rule and the application of Sharia as the law. Some will talk and do nothing; others will talk and organize; others will use violence, and among those who organize there are those who can seize state power — in Muslim majority countries — and those that will fail. The Muslim Brotherhood is brilliant tactically; al-Qaeda has only one note in its orchestra — endless struggle and terrorism rather than political maneuvering and building a mass base.
Usually, as you can see, when I talk about this issue I stress the non-al-Qaeda side of the equation. But it’s time to reanalyze al-Qaeda also.
The importance of al-Qaeda in the history of Islamism is actually more marginal than it might seem from the massive study and headlines it generated. Al-Qaeda had three innovations of importance:
– That the movement be international, fighting simultaneously on all fronts. While the Muslim Brotherhood had been an international group, it had a limited number of branches, only four of real significance. However, this only succeeded because the organization — especially after the U.S. destruction of the center in Afghanistan, and long before Osama bin Laden’s assassination — was so loose. Basically, local groups could simply affiliate with al-Qaeda without being its actual creation. Being active everywhere and not concentrating one’s forces is a formula for survival, but also a recipe for ultimate defeat.
– That it would make the West and particularly the United States the main target of attack, most notably in the September 11, 2001 assault. This point, however, became less salient once September 11 happened. What are you going to do for an encore? Tighter Western security made repeating the feat more difficult. Moreover, it became possible for al-Qaeda to operate in Muslim-majority countries. As a factor in Western psychology and policy, then, al-Qaeda’s focus on the West remained hugely important, but as a political strategy it was largely abandoned except for scattered “reminder” attack attempts. Today, al-Qaeda is mainly attacking rivals in Yemen, Somalia, and Syria. Even in Iraq the main target wasn’t the United States itself.
– That the movement would focus on one activity, terrorist attacks, and try to carry out a “permanent revolution.” In other words, it was always the right time to wage armed struggle, and that battle wouldn’t stop until the movement was wiped out. Other, smaller groups had taken that road in Egypt but had not lasted very long before being destroyed by the government. Understandably, this approach was not a great revolutionary strategy, especially against more sophisticated groups that built mass bases and knew how to change gears, especially the Muslim Brotherhood and even other Salafist groups.
So while Egypt had an Islamist revolution, it was quite different from the one envisioned by the 1990′s Salafists or by the al-Qaeda supporters. Indeed, it was a revolution that — contrary to the 1990′s revolutionaries — was made with the backing of the army, and contrary to the al-Qaeda revolutionaries, was also made with the backing of the United States. The same point applies to Syria and Tunisia, as well as, in a different way, to Turkey, Lebanon, and the Gaza Strip.
Of course, once the regime is overthrown and elections are held, terrorism is no longer needed. You don’t have to raid police stations for guns if you control the military; you don’t have to kill oppositionists with bombs when you can set the police force on them; you don’t need to rob banks to raise funds when you have the keys to the national treasury.
And you don’t need to use terrorism to overthrow the regime if you have already overthrown the regime. Indeed, you don’t need to use terrorism against the regime if you are the regime. Terror, Brennan says, is merely a tactic. He’s right. It is a way of reaching a goal and that goal is seizing state power, fundamentally transforming the society, and using that power to battle U.S. influence, to subvert the remaining non-Islamist regimes, and to try to wipe out Israel.[the goal of Jihad remains what it always has been: is to remove all obstacles to the spread, and then the dominance, of Islam, until it everywhere dominates, and Muslims rule, everywhere]
Consider this historical analogy. Once Hitler took power he dismantled the storm troopers, even killing their leaders, because he didn’t need them any more. The Bolsheviks wiped out the anarchists and the Social Revolutionary Party which had committed so much terrorism in earlier years. Lenin’s own brother was a terrorist who was executed by the Czarist regime. When Lenin took power, terrorism of the old type disappeared. There was only, as in Nazi Germany, state repression.
And state repression, according to the way the Obama administration sees things, is real progress.
The Muslim Brotherhood goes nowhere near that far. The Salafist groups are still quite useful for indoctrinating citizens and intimidating opponents. When you want Christians taught a lesson, women put down, an embassy stormed, or an Islamist constitution passed, the Salafists provide wonderful and when necessary deniable service.
Here is an important principle in studying the politics of this contemporary era: violence (including terrorism) is not the main measure of radicalism. Instead, the way to judge the extremism of a group is the organization’s ideology, goals, and seriousness in seeking total victory. Strategic and tactical flexibility should be taken into account, but do not mitigate the threat posed by the objective toward which any political force is striving.
Finally, the bottom line is different from what both sides of the debate have claimed: ironically, the United States has a counterterrorist policy, but it does not have a national security strategy.
It has a way of reducing anti-American terrorism — let or even help Islamists seize power — but does not realize that anti-American regimes are far more dangerous than a bunch of guys in caves.
If terrorism was ever merely a law enforcement issue, that is certainly true today in terms of al-Qaeda. Instead, what the Obama administration has done is like trying to reduce crime by turning over cities to the Mafia, letting it make the laws and run the police and court system
Ettinger: Purimfest 1946 and other commentary from The Purim Guide for the Perplexed
Purim Shpiel Hamenntaschen
Purim began tonight with the reading of the Megillah or Book of Esther. Purim comes from the ancient Akkadian word for Pur or “lots”. Legend has it that Esther was selected to succeed Queen Vashti, who defied her husband, marrying Ahasuerus (Xerxes) the ancient King of the vast Persian Empire. She saved her fellow Jews with information from her uncle Mordechai about a plot by a royal vizier, Haman to destroy them. Haman and his ten sons were then hanged on orders of Ahasuerus; the empire’s Jews were warned, armed themselves and defeated their enemies. Esther’s Uncle Mordechai was rewarded and made a vizier by Ahasuerus to replace Haman.
During the celebration of Purim Jews are encouraged to wear costumes and spin groggers (noisemakers) during the reading of the Book of Esther at the mere mention of the name of Haman. Haman the Agagite conspired to commit genocide against the Jews was an alleged descendent of the fabled Amalek. Jews celebrate Purim with special food (Hamentaschen- three cornered confectionaries with sweet filings), encouraged to imbibe and perform Purimshpiel funny skits rejoicing at their deliverance replete with the equivalent of April Fools jokes.
In synagogue today Jews read from a portion of the torah where the Prophet Samuel admonishes King Saul for showing mercy to Agag, the Amalekite king thereby losing G-d’s favor and his kingship. Samuel then commands that Agag be brought before him and kills him. This is a warning to Jews about Amalek, who began by attacking defenseless women, children and stragglers during the Exodus from Egypt. Amalekites may have been descendents of the Biblical Esau and hence Ishmaelites. Three of the 613 commandants observed by Orthodox Jews require them to remember what the Amalekites did to Jews, and to destroy the Amalekites and their descendents throughout the millennia, utterly.
Former Israeli Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, who spoke in Pensacola over Presidents Day Weekend , is mid-way in an itinerary that has taken him to Washington, DC, ad Denver, and hence onto Casper, ,Portland, Austin, Wichita Falls, El Paso and Chicago, before heading back to Israel. He still had time to author a fascinating discourse, based on Jewish Sages “Purim Guide for the Perplexed. “
1. "Purimfest 1946” were the last words of Julius Streicher, the Nazi propaganda chief, as he approached the hanging gallows (Newsweek magazine, October 28, 1946, page 46). On October 16, 1946 (Jewish year 5707), tenconvicted Nazi war criminals were hanged in Nuremberg. An 11th Nazi criminal, Hermann Goering, committed suicide in his cell. Julius Streicher's library documented much interest in Purim and its relevance to enemies of the Jewish people.
According to the Scroll of Esther, King Ahasuerus allowed the Jews to defend themselves and hang Haman and his ten sons. The Talmud (Megillah 16a) claims that Haman had an 11th child, a daughter, who committed suicide following her father's demise.
2. Purim's historical background according to Prof. Israel Eldad:
*Xerxes the Great – King Ahasuerus, known for his grand and long banquets – succeeded Darius the Great. He ruled the Persian Empire (from India to Ethiopia) during 465-486BC, 150 years before the rise of Alexander the Great, who defeated the Persian Empire.
*Greece was Persia's key opponent in its expansion towards the Mediterranean and Europe, hence the alliance between Persia and Carthage, a rival of Greece.
*Greece supported Egypt's revolt against Persian rule, which was subdued by Persia with the help of the Jewish warriors of Yeb (in Egypt) and Carthage, which had a significant Jewish-Hebrew connection (the names of Carthage's heroes, Hannibal and Barca, derived from the Hebrew names, Hananyah and Barak).
*Xerxes was defeated by Greece at the battle of Salamis (480 BC), but challenged Greece again in 470BC.
*According to a Greek translation of the Scroll of Esther, Haman (the Agagi) was Macedonian by orientation or by birth. Agagi could refer to Agag, the Amalekite King (who intended to annihilate the Jews) or to the Greek Aegean Islands. Haman aspired to annihilate the Jews of Persia and opposed improved relations between Xerxes and the Jews of Yeb. He led the pro-Greek and anti-Carthage faction in Persia, while Mordechai was a chief advocate for the pro-Carthage orientation.
3. Purim is celebrated on the 14th/15th days of the Jewish month of Adar. Adar (×�×“×¨) is the root of the Hebrew adjective Adir (- (×�×“×™×¨ glorious, awesome, exalted, magnificent. It is, also, a derivative of the Akkadian word Adura (heroism). Jewish tradition (Babylonian Talmud) highlights Adar as a month of happiness, singing and dancing. The zodiac of Adar is Pisces (fish), which is a symbol of demographic multiplication. Hence, Adar is the only Jewish month, which doubles itself during the 7 leap years, in each 19 year cycle. Purim is celebrated on the 14th (in non-walled towns) and (in Jerusalem) on the 15th day of Adar, commemorating thedeliverance of the Jewish People from the jaws of a holocaust in Persia. It also commemorates the 161 BC victory of Judah the Maccabee over Nikanor, the Assyrian commander. Moses ¬ who delivered the Jewish People from a holocaust in Egypt and whose burial site is unknown - was born, and died (1273 BC), on the 7th day of Adar, which is Israel's Memorial Day for soldiers, whose burial site is unknown. The events of Purim occurred following the destruction of the 1st Temple by Nebuchadnezzar (586 BCE) and the exile from Zion, during the leadership of Ezra who returned to Jerusalem, and the inauguration of the Second Temple (3rd of Adar, 515 BCE) by Ezra and Nehemiah. Nebuchadnezzar died in Adar 561 BC (Jeremiah 52:31). Albert Einstein published the Theory of General Relativity in Adar 1916.
4. Purim's Hebrew root is fate/destiny (×¤×•×¨), as well as "lottery" (commemorating Haman's lottery which determined the designated day for the planned annihilation of the Jewish People), "to frustrate,” "to annul” (×œ×”×¤×¨), "to crumble” and "to shutter” (×œ×¤×•×¨×¨), reflecting the demise of Haman.
5. Purim commemorates a Clash of Civilizations between Mordechai the Jew and Haman the Iranian-Amalekite. It constitutes an early edition of the war between right VS wrong, liberty VS tyranny, justice VS evil, truth VS lies, as were/are Adam/Eve VS the snake, Abel VS Cain, Abraham VS Sodom and Gomorrah, Jacob VS Esau (grandfather of Amalek), Maccabees VS Assyrians, Allies VS Nazis, Western democracies VS Communist Bloc and Western democracies VS Islamic rogue and terrorist regimes.
6. Purim is the holiday of contradictions as well as tenacity-driven-optimism:
Annihilation replaced by deliverance; Esther's concealment of her Jewish identity replaced by the disclosure of her national/religious identity; Haman's intended genocide of the Jews replaced by his own demise; Haman replaced by Mordechai as the chief advisor to the king; national and personal pessimism replaced by optimism. A Purim lesson: Life is complex, full of contradictions, ups and downs and difficult dilemmas, worthy of principled-determination. Threats and hurdles are challenges and opportunities in disguise. The bigger the mission is, the bigger the adversity.
7. Mordechai, the hero of Purim and one of Ezra's deputies, was a role model of principle-driven optimism in defiance of colossal odds, in the face of a super power and in defiance of the Jewish establishment. He fought Jewish assimilation and urged Jews to sustain their roots and return to their Homeland. He was endowed with the bravery of faith-driven individuals, such as Nachshon - who was the first to walk into the Red Sea before it parted. Mordechai was a politically-incorrect, out-of-the-box thinking statesman and a retired military leader, who utilized a "disproportionate pre-emptive offensive” instead of appeasement and defense. The first three Hebrew letters of Mordechai (×ž×¨×“×›×™) spell the Hebrew word "rebellion” (×ž×¨×“), which is consistent with the motto/legacy of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin: "Rebellion against Tyrants is Obedience to G-D." Mordechai did not bow to Haman, the second most powerful person in the Persian Empire. He was a member of the tribe of Benjamin, the only son of Jacob who did not bow to Esau. The name Mordechai is also a derivative of Mordouch, ¬ the chief Babylonian god.
Mordechai was a descendant of King Saul, who defied a clear commandment (to eradicate the Amalekites). He spared the life of Agag, the Amalekite king, thus precipitating further calamities upon the Jewish People. Consequently, Saul lost his royal position and life. Mordechai learned from Saul's error. He destroyed Haman, a descendant of Agag the Amalekite and Haman's entire power base, thus sparing the Jewish People a major disaster.
In Gimatriya, "Cursed Haman" (×�×¨×•×¨×”×ž×Ÿ) equals 502, which is identical to "Blessed Mordechai”. (×‘×¨×•×š×ž×¨×“×›×™)
8. Queen Esther, the heroine of Purim's Scroll of Esther (the 24th and concluding book of the Bible) was Mordechai's niece. Esther demonstrates the centrality of women in Judaism, shaping the future of the Jewish People, as did Sarah, Rebecca, and Rachel. Leah, Miriam, Batyah, Deborah, Hannah, Yael, etc. Sarah was the first Jewish woman, and Esther was the last Jewish woman mentioned in the Bible. Sarah lived 127 years and Esther ruled over 127 countries. The name Esther (×�×¡×ª×¨) is a derivative of the Hebrew word ×”×¡×ª×¨, "to conceal" - reflective of her initial concealment of her Jewish identity, while the Hebrew word for "scroll,” ×ž×’×™×œ×”, derives from ×ž×’×™×œ×” – "to reveal.” God is concealed in the scroll of Esther, which is the only biblical book which does not mention God. The Purim custom of wearing costumes highlights the transition from the concealment to revelation of identity.
The name Esther (pronounced Ester in Hebrew) derives also from Ishtar ¬ a Mesopotamian goddess, Astarte, "star” ¬ a Phoenician goddess. In fact, the one day pre-Purim Fastof Esther (commemorating the three day fast declared by Esther in order to expedite deliverance), was cherished by the Maranos in Spain, who performed Judaism in a clandestine manner. While God's name is hidden/absent in Esther's Scroll, Michael Bernstein suggests that there are 182 references to "King," corresponding to 26 (the numerical value of God) times 7 (days of creation). Esther's second name was Hadassah, whose root is Hadass (myrtle tree in Hebrew) ¬ whose leaves are shaped like an eye.
The name Esther is identified with the planet Venus (hence, Esther's other Hebrew name ¬Noga, just like my oldest granddaughter ¬ a shining divine light, which is Venus in Hebrew). In Gimatriya, Esther (×�×¡×ª×¨) and Noga (× ×’×”) equal 661 and 58 respectively, and the sum of 6+6+1 and 5+8 is 13 (the number of God's virtues). In "small Gimatriya" both Esther (1+6+4+2) and Noga (5+3+5) equal 13, which is also the total sum of "one” in Hebrew (×�×—×“) ¬ which represents the oneness of God, monotheism, as well as the total sum of love in Hebrew (×�×”×‘×”).
9. The Persian King appointedMordechai to be his top advisor, overruling Haman's intent to prevent the resettling of Jews in Zion, the reconstruction of the Temple and the restoration of the wall around Jerusalem. He foiled Haman's plan to exterminate the Jews. The king prospered as a result of his change of heart and escaped assassination. That was the case with Pharaoh, who escaped national collapse and starvation and rose in global prominence, once he appointed Joseph to be his deputy.
10. Purim's four commandments:
*Reading/studying the Scroll of Esther within the family, highlighting the centrality of family, education, memory and youth as the foundation of a solid future.
*Gifts to relatives, friends and strangers emphasize the importance of family, community and collective responsibility.
*Charity (at least the value of a meal) reflects compassion and communal responsibility. According to Maimonides, "there is no greater or more glorious joy than bringing joy to the poor." Purim is celebrated when Jews study the portion of the Torah, ×ª×¨×•×ž×”, which highlights giving and contributing to the other person as a means to enhance solidarity and reduce egotism.
*Celebration and Happiness sustain optimism and faith - the backbone of individuals and nations.