These are all the Blogs posted on Saturday, 25, 2011.
Saturday, 25 June 2011
Muslim Arab Violence In Southern Kordofan Continues
Rights investigations needed in Sudan border areas: U.N.
By Alex Dziadosz | Reuters – Jun 24, 2011
KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Huts were still burning and looters roamed the main town of Sudan's disputed Abyei region this week, a senior U.N. official said, more than a month after Khartoum seized it and shut down a joint north-south administration.
Kyung-wha Kang, U.N. Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, said "thorough" investigations were needed in Abyei and another conflict-stricken border region, where weeks of fighting has forced tens of thousands of people to flee.
South Sudan will become a separate country in a little over two weeks, but clashes along the ill-defined border have raised fears of a return to the all-out north-south civil war that killed more than two million people over decades until 2005.
Fighting erupted between the northern army and southern-aligned fighters in the oil state of Southern Kordofan on June 5, about two weeks after Khartoum seized the neighboring contested Abyei region with tanks and soldiers.
Kang said a drive through Abyei's main town this week showed "complete destruction. No civilians. Some huts still burning, smoke, looters still roaming around".
"I think the situation is serious enough that it requires a thorough investigation," she said in an interview late on Tuesday.
The northern army, which says its troops are in Abyei and Southern Kordofan to guarantee stability and protect civilians, has called for Abyei's residents to return home.
Kang said human rights monitors should be given more access to the area to conduct interviews with people involved in and affected by the fighting on both sides.
"We would like that opportunity, but so far access has been very limited," she said.
Thousands of residents who had fled Southern Kordofan's state capital of Kadugli and the surrounding area to shelter near a U.N. mission in Sudan compound had returned home, but it was questionable whether the return was voluntary, Kang said.
She said her team had asked to visit Southern Kordofan during a tour of Sudan ahead of southern secession on July 9, but they had not heard back yet.
"Kadugli also requires a thorough, thorough look," Kang said. "The sooner the better".
Separate human rights and church groups have accused Khartoum of waging a campaign targeting the ethnic Nuba population in Southern Kordofan -- a northern state -- because of their perceived support for the south.
Northern officials have dismissed such charges as politically motivated allegations without grounds.
Air space has been largely restricted for U.N. flights over Southern Kordofan, which the world body has said has endangered its aid work in the area.
The United Nations also said six of its national staff were arrested at Kadugli airport on Wednesday.
Sudan has a long history of violent conflict.
The January referendum in which southerners voted to secede was a condition of a 2005 deal to end a civil war fought over ideology, ethnicity, religion and oil which forced millions to flee their homes.
Kang said the new nation in the south would face "enormous" human rights challenges, exacerbated because infrastructure and state capacity were still lacking.
"War leaves behind a culture where brute force gets its way," she said. "Overcoming that culture will require a lot of time, a lot of support, a lot of push".
Posted on 06/25/2011 7:29 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 25 June 2011
Name the poison - Pat Condell on Islam's treatment of women
Posted on 06/25/2011 8:40 AM by Mary Jackson
Saturday, 25 June 2011
Find All The Nonsense And Lies That For The Times Were Fit To Print
From The New York Times
June 25, 2011
Denmark Leads Nationalist Challenge to Europe’s Open Borders
COPENHAGEN — Ten years ago, as Denmark joined the European Union’s visa-free open travel zone, the outraged Danish People’s Party bought a decommissioned border guardhouse, vowing that one day it would be in use again.
Back then, most Danes dismissed the move as a colorful publicity stunt by the newly formed right-wing party.
But last month, the Danish People’s Party was doing a victory dance, offering to donate its picturesque brick guardhouse at the German border to the government. The party had achieved its goal: Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen had agreed to restore 24-hour customs control in exchange for support on a difficult budget package.
The deal set off an outcry in the European Union as tiny Denmark became the first member to seriously challenge the union’s crowning achievement: the free movement of goods and services across borders.
Italy and France, wrangling over a huge influx of immigrants from North Africa, have been pushing for a lesser step — the ability to temporarily close borders in an emergency. This got the official nod of approval during a meeting of European leaders on Friday.
What will happen in Denmark remains less clear. The Danish Parliament has yet to ratify its border deal, and the union has issued a stern warning, saying Denmark’s plans are probably incompatible with its “obligations under European and international law.”
But experts say the situation in Denmark, where support for the far right has risen steadily over the past decade, is part of a worrying trend for the European Union. Small nationalist parties in many European countries, determinedly anti-immigrant and anti-European Union, are leveraging important changes in policies.
“It is something that we are seeing across the European Union,” said Fredrik Erixon, the director of the European Center for International Political Economy in Brussels.
Mr. Erixon and other experts say these populist parties have succeeded in producing a serious assault on the European Union’s principal institutions: the euro zone and free trade across open borders.
In Italy, for instance, legislation was passed recently to designate certain Italian companies as strategic and prevent their foreign takeover.
In Finland, the populist True Finn Party won 19 percent of the vote in April when it campaigned on the promise to oppose any further contributions to bailing out euro zone countries.
In the Netherlands, the far-right Freedom Party is credited with pulling that country away from its historically pro-Europe stance. In recent months, as euro zone officials have fought to steady markets in the face of a possible default by Greece, a Dutch government that relies on the openly anti-European Union party has fiercely opposed expanded powers for the union’s bailout fund.
“For decades, the E.U. had been moving ever closer to an overarching cooperation,” Mr. Erixon said. “But what we are seeing now is a reversal in the overall trend. Some of the E.U.’s crown jewels are under attack.”
In Denmark, political analysts say the Danish People’s Party has not only drawn more and more voters since it was founded in 1998, getting 13 percent of the vote in 2007, but it has also pulled more mainstream parties to the right as they try to win those voters back, a phenomenon that experts say has occurred in many other countries.
Prof. Marlene Wind, a political scientist at the University of Copenhagen, said that with new elections likely in the next few months, only one small party, the Social Liberal Party, initially spoke out against the border deal. “Hardly anyone said anything because they think it might get them voters back from the D.P.P.,” Professor Wind said.
Much of the support for the far right in Denmark comes from the working class, which chafed the most at ultraliberal immigration policies that allowed thousands of immigrants — from Iran, Iraq and the Balkans — to enter the country in the 1970s, ’80 and ’90s.
Denmark had few policies in place to deal with the immigrants’ needs, experts say. Blue-collar Danes resented that many newcomers in their neighborhoods never learned Danish and remained unemployed, clustered in the suburbs of Copenhagen.
While mainstream parties avoided the subject as politically incorrect, the Danish People’s Party, led by Pia Kjaersgaard, a home care attendant for the elderly before she entered politics, took it on. Ms. Kjaersgaard is widely credited with forcing an overhaul of the country’s immigration policies, now among the most restrictive in Europe.
Many of her supporters are like Rene Schultz, a 42-year-old furniture mover from Ishoj who is wistful for simpler times and blames immigrants for a rise in crime, though official statistics do not support this claim.
“We need to close the borders,” Mr. Schultz said. “And if they throw us out of the European Union, that’s fine with me. There was a robbery here just last week. The old people are afraid to go out.”
Martin Henriksen, the party’s spokesman for social issues, said that for a country to survive, its people must share values and customs. He predicted that Sweden would fall apart because so many immigrants were living there. And he called the European Union’s objections to the border deal absurd. “If we throw someone out of the country because he is a criminal, he can turn around and walk back in,” Mr. Henriksen said. “That is ridiculous.”
Just how much more Europe’s nationalist parties can grow is an open question. The Danish People’s Party alienated many of its supporters when it signed on to the budget deal, which called for an overhaul of the pension system in order to save costs.
For the moment, the Danish government continues to say that it will move forward with its agreement to have a 24-hour presence at its borders. Currently, drivers from Germany and Sweden can pass into Denmark without taking their feet off the accelerator, except for the occasional toll.
But all that may change. Under the plan, Denmark would add about 100 customs officials, install or restore guardhouses, set up video cameras and construct special lanes where cars can be detained. Boom gates and stop signs have already been purchased.
These moves, officials insist, are not in violation of the European Union’s open border policy, the so-called Schengen agreement. For a while, Denmark’s tax minister, Peter Christensen, insisted that six other countries in the bloc had already done what the government was proposing. But by the end of last week, that claim had been disproved.
The mistake was just the latest embarrassment for the Liberal-Conservative government, which has faced protests from Swedish and German officials — and a spate of biting comedy show material. For some Danes, the low point was watching a recent skit on a Jon Stewart-style show in Germany.
It featured a newsman at the German border with Denmark, a newly installed boom gate blocking the road. In the background, a luckless German who had strayed into Danish territory was being gunned down.
“There we were being made fun of by the Germans,” said Professor Wind, who is appalled at the government’s willingness to bargain with the Danish People’s Party. “In Denmark, we don’t think of the Germans as even having a sense of humor, but this is completely on the spot and very funny. It’s so embarrassing.”
Posted on 06/25/2011 9:02 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 25 June 2011
How A New York Times Reporter Skews The News From Denmark
The report by Suzanne Daley in today's Times is mererly one in a series of attempts by that paper to mold the reader's reception of the otherwise difficult-for-the-Times-to-explain news, that is, news about how one of the two most famously tolerant and easygoing countries in Europe, Denmark (the other one is the Netherlands), became a place where a "far-right" party -- so we are told, though given no definition of what would constitute a "far-right" party, nor of how that People's Party meets that definition -- has been victorious in recent elections.
You can find, for yourself, the various ways that the reporter, Suzanne Daley, no doubt encouraged by her editors at The New York Times, tries to present facts. Her technique unsurprisinglly includes repeated use of the adjective "far-right," aHomeric epithet that is here not merely a mnemonic device, as it was for the bards of old, but rather part of an effort to mold the reader's perception, by telling him what to think. It includes outright lies, such as the bland assertion that "official statistics" do not show that immigrants -- Muslim immigrants -- cause a disproprtionate share of the crime. Everyone in Denmark, official and unofficial, knows that is a flat-out lie.
She tries to pretend that those who are most alarmed about Muslim immigrants are "working class" which means, in Times parlance, uneducated people, people who cannot think, people who are prone to prejudice. You know, just like members of the EDL. But could it be that for decades those people who make up the political and media elites, and who all over the Western world have refused (until recently, and then only slowly) to recognize that there is something about Islam, about minds on Islam, about those who take Islam most to heart and those who might, in the future, because they are Muslims, begin to take Islam more to heart than they now do, that constitute a permanent threat to the well-being of non-Muslims, because of what is in Qur'an, Hadith, and Sira, because of how those texts, believed by Muslims to be uncreated and immutable, affect Believers in what is surely understood to be a "religion" like no other, for it is a Total Belief-System that is both a Complete Regulation of Life and a Total Explanation of the Universe, one based on, centered on, the divsiion of humanity between Believers and Unbelievers, Muslims and Infidels.
We are obligquely asked to despise such people as Pia Kjarsgaard, because she -- poor uneducated dear -- was only a home health worker with the Danish aged. My, my. No wonder there is no need to take what she has seen seriously -- she only sees these Danish old people who are frightened -- what's wrong with them? -- into staying home because of fear of Muslim immigrants. Why take her seriously?
And look how the article ends: with a Dane who is one of those who tsk-tsks about the "intolerance" of his fellow Danes, and it ends with a little skit from Germany, meant to show that even the beastly Germans are now morally superior to Danes, so low have they fallen, with their attempt to guard their own borders against swarms of Muslims arriving from anywhere in vulnerableSchengenland. (No mention here of the admirable and lucid Theo Sarrazin, or about others in Germany, few of them on the "far-right" or the "right," who are as alarmed about Muslims in Germany, and what they are doing to German society and to non-Muslims, i as are the Danes in the People's Party, so reviled by Suzanne Daley and her employer, the terminally irresponsible New York Times, which has two strikes against it already.
You remember those previous two strikes, don't you?
Posted on 06/25/2011 8:47 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 25 June 2011
A Musical Interlude: That Ain't Right (Fats Waller, Ada Brown)
Posted on 06/25/2011 11:28 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 25 June 2011
Amb. Husain Haqqani Smugly Confident American Money Will Keep Flowing To Pakistan
From The Nation, a Pakistani English-language paper:
Haqqani admits Pakistan, US not on same page
Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani has admitted that there are problems on issues between the two countries adding that Pak-US agreement on everything is not necessary. [ years of Pakistani deception and treachery, only now beginning to be comprehended, amounts in his view to "problems on issues"]
Talking to the media at a dinner in Washington, he said that both Pakistan and the United States need each other, but differences exist between the two countries. [yes, of course over a dinner, and I suspect with his stylish wife, one of the fabulously rich Ispahani girls, from a line of zamindars, Wellesley-educated like her two sisters, so that she can turn on her premeditated charm, put on her British-accented English to work on thoseendlessly gullible Americans journalists -- just the way, for decades, ramrod-straight terry-thomas-moustachioed Pakistani generals, pukka-sahib fly-whisks in hand, charmed their American counterparts, who took them all, those Pakistani military men, to be fine fellows, so different from Jawaharlal Nehru and his foreign minister Krishna Menon, perceived as oily Fabians or Left Book Club members because they accepted Soviet aid [that dangerous steel mill!] which the Pakistanis of coursewould never do, no not they, foras the Pakistani generals told the American generals, "Islam is a bulwark against Communism" -- a line that I take it does not come up in current discussions between the Pakistanis and the Chinese].
He said that efforts were being made to remove the differences; however, it was not necessary for the two countries to agree on everything.
He said that the talk of reducing aid to Pakistan is limited to just talk.[his smug certainty that there is apparently nothing Pakistan can do: using American aid to expand its nuclear arsena over the last few years; arresting Pakistanis believed to have aided the Americans to capture Bin Laden; elevating Aashia Siddiqui, who plotted to kill Americans (and who had lived in America and attended Brandeis and MIT) to the status of national heroine; refusing to allow Americans to interrogate A. Q. Khan, the thieving metallurgist who stole plans from the West for Pakistan's nuclear program and has become Pakistan's national hero; allowing the Haqqani network and the Quetta Shura to both continue, without any hindrance, despite repeated American requests that something be done, with their anti-American activities that have resulted in American deaths in Afghanistan; and many other things, including the non-stop anti-Americanism of the Pakistani media, which of course only reflects what people who take Islam to heart naturally feel, and always will feel about Infidel Americans as long as they take that Islam to heart . Perhaps Haqqani is right. Perhaps there is nothing
The United States realizes the potential and importance of Pakistan. He said that both countries would continue their cooperation in the future as well. He said that there is no threat to relations between two countries and presumptions should not be made on media reports
Posted on 06/25/2011 7:41 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 25 June 2011
Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan United Against "Foreign Interference Which Is In Blatant Opposition To The Spirit Of Islam"
From Agence France Presse:
Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan to combat terrorism
TEHRAN — The leaders of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan agreed on Saturday to join forces in combating militancy as they attended a counter-terrorism summit overshadowed by an Afghan hospital bombing that killed at least 20 people.
The joint statement by the three neighbouring presidents followed an announcement by US President Barack Obama that Washington will withdraw 33,000 of its 99,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of next summer.
"All sides stressed their commitment to efforts aimed at eliminating extremism, militancy, terrorism, as well as rejecting foreign interference, which is in blatant opposition to the spirit of Islam, the peaceful cultural traditions of the region and its peoples' interests," the statement said.
They agreed to continue meetings at ministerial level ahead of the next summit in Islamabad before the end of 2011, added the statement carried by Iran's official IRNA news agency.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his Iranian and Pakistani counterparts Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Asif Ali Zardari held three-way talks on Friday ahead of Saturday's six-nation counter-terrorism gathering.
The three leaders discussed "ways of battling terrorism, extremism and drug trafficking," IRNA said.
Speaking at the opening session of the two-day summit, Karzai said that despite his government's efforts, militancy was rising across the region.
"Unfortunately, despite all the achievements in the fields of education, infrastructure and reconstruction,[who is responsible for "all the achievements in the fields of education, infrastructure, and reconstruction"? The Americans, whom Karzai routinely, often hysterically, denounces] not only has Afghanistan not yet achieved peace and security, but terrorism is expanding and threatening more than ever Afghanistan and the region," Karzai said.
A brazen suicide attack on Saturday on a hospital some 75 kilometres (45 miles) south of the Afghan capital Kabul killed at least 20 people, wounded more than 20 and flattened the building.
"Terrorists violate both human and divine values by inflicting death and destruction on fellow human beings. They have no religion," Pakistan's president said.
Zardari said attacks had resulted in the deaths of 35,000 people in Pakistan, 5,000 of them law enforcement personnel, and material damage totalling $67 billion.
In his speech, Ahmadinejad again accused Iran's arch-foe the United States of using the September 11, 2001 attacks as a "pretext" to send troops to the region.
"In light of the way it was approached and exploited, September 11 is very much like the Holocaust," Ahmadinejad charged. [ah, yes, the Jews "exploit the Holocaust" and the Americans "exploit September 11" and in both cases, the victims are the poor inoffensive Muslims of the world]
"The American government used the attacks as a pretext to occupy two countries, and kill, injure and displace people in the region.
"If the black box of the Holocaust and September 11 is opened, many of the realities will come to light. But unfortunately despite worldwide demand, the American government has not allowed it." [what could this mean? Only that the "real" perpetrators of both the Holocaust and September 11 may be those Jews, and those Americans, acting to "win sympathy" and justification for their own anti-Islamic activities.]
Ahmadinejad has repeatedly courted controversy by questioning the accepted version of both the September 11 attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people, and the Holocaust.
He has dubbed 9/11 a "big lie" and a "suspect affair" similar to the Nazi Holocaust, which he dismissed as a "myth" after coming to power in 2005, triggering international outrage.
In a message to the counter-terrorism conference, which was also attended by the leaders of Iraq, Sudan and Tajikistan, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei spoke out against what called Western abuse of the terrorist threat.
"The diabolical calculation of the dominating powers is to exploit terrorism as a tool to gain their illegitimate aims and they have used it in their plans," he said in the message which was read to the conference.
"In their view, terrorism is whatever threatens their interests. They consider those who are fighting for their legitimate right against occupiers as terrorists but do not consider their mercenaries and malicious groups who harm innocent people as terrorists."
At a meeting with Karzai, Khamenei said security will not prevail as long as US troops are in the region.
"The Americans seek permanent bases in Afghanistan. This is a dangerous issue because as long as American troops are present in Afghanistan, real security will not prevail," he said in remarks carried by IRNA.
Posted on 06/25/2011 11:54 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 25 June 2011
UN Conventions A Threat To West's Ability To Keep Out Dangerous Immigrants
From the Copenhagen Post online:
Opposition parties want dangerous ‘stateless’ residents to be charged and deported
The immigration minister, Søren Pind, hinted this Thursday about a case relating to stateless individuals in Denmark who must be granted citizenship under UN conventions even though they pose a threat to national security.
Intelligence agency PET informed the Immigration Ministry of the case on Tuesday.
The ministry has since called in group leaders of parties in parliament to discuss the situation and examine what other countries are doing in similar situations, though the Social Democrats criticised the government's decision to hold a press conference before investigating it themselves.
Pind revealed little else at the press conference – whether the case in involved one or many individuals – saying: “I can’t speak out about the specific situation because I don’t know very much about it.”
Citizenship is conferred by parliament through the naturalisation committee, but PET can demand a person to be removed from the list of naturalisation if they are deemed a danger to national security.
But this is not possible with the stateless individuals, as they are entitled to Danish citizenship under the 1961 UN convention on statelessness.
The Socialist People's Party (SF) believes it has found a loophole, however. Stateless individuals who are convicted of posing a threat to national security lose their right to citizenship under the convention. [Muslims who take the Qur'an to heart are a threat to national security; Arab Muslims have their Islam reinforced by their ethnic identity; "Palestinian" Arab Muslims exist -- as defined -- in order to better serve propaganda purposes, in the Jihad being conducted by Arabs and Muslims against the Infidel nation-state of Israel. They certainly constitute a threat not only to Denmark's Jews, but to all non-Muslims in Denmark and non-Muslims whose countries they would be able to visit should they be granted Danish citizenship. This cannot continue. A U.N. Convention dating back to 1961, before the menace of large-scale Muslim immigration was understood, before Islam was understood, before the Arab-Islamic bloc became the major power, and the only remaining cohesive bloc, at the U.N., is no longer to be looked to, should be ignored, as former immigration minister Birthe Renn Hornbech chose to ignore it, and for that brave act, lost her job.]
The SF and the Red-Green Alliance, are therefore pushing for PET to identify these individual to the state prosecutor so they can be charged, or at the very least request that PET keep them under observation.
The origins of the case began when stateless Palestinians were denied Danish citizenship by the government despite the fact that it broke two UN conventions.
It was later revealed that the government knowingly broke the UN conventions leaving 22 Palestinians without any citizenship, some of them for almost a decade.
Birthe Rønn Hornbech, immigration minister at the time, was ultimately fired from her position in February this year over the issue. [instead of being fired, she should be celebrated for protecting the people of Denmark, despite what those UN "conventions" might require]
Posted on 06/25/2011 12:44 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 25 June 2011
More Internecine Warfare In Syria
From The New York Times:
Security Forces Makes Mass Arrests Across Syria
By LIAM STACK
ANTAKYA, Turkey — Syrian security forces arrested scores of people across the country on Saturday as mourners took part in the funerals of six protesters killed Friday outside of Damascus, continuing a grim pattern of protest, death, mourning and repression that has been repeated week after week as the uprising in Syria enters its fourth month.
Activists said two people were killed in the security sweep on Saturday.
Syria has been gripped since mid-March by an unprecedented popular uprising against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, whose family has ruled with an iron fist for over four decades. The government has cracked down hard on the protests, killing more than 1,400 people and detaining more than 10,000, according to activists, who estimate that 20 were killed on Friday, 5 of them children.
Violence in the rural northwest has driven more than 11,000 refugees into neighboring Turkey, where the Red Crescent, a local version of the Red Cross, said this week that 17,000 more were waiting to cross the rugged border. Hundreds have also crossed into Lebanon, The Associated Press reported Saturday, citing a Lebanese security official.
Pallbearers carried the coffins of the dead through the streets of the Damascus suburb of Kisweh on Saturday as a column of mourners marched behind them, clapping their hands and loudly chanting “God is great,” according to a video posted online by activists.
“We wanted a very big funeral to honor the dead and we planned to show the regime our answer to their killing,” said Ibrahim, 30, a farmer in Kisweh. “We are so angry and we will not forget our martyrs. The security men killed Hassan Shabib, who was 13 years old.”
Activists estimated the number of mourners in Kisweh at 30,000, although the video posted online appears to show far fewer. Syria bars most foreign journalists from entering the country so it is difficult to verify the accounts of either the government or its opponents.
As mourners in Kisweh buried their dead, security forces continued a wave of mass arrests in towns and villages across the country that activists and residents said began after midnight Friday.
In Kisweh, dozens of people were arrested on Saturday and one was killed, according to the Local Coordinating Committees, a grass-roots group.
Many residents were nervous, hiding in their homes and unwilling to talk to a visiting reporter out of fear of possible government retribution.
Activists from the Coordinating Committees said there were also dozens of arrests in the Damascus neighborhood of Barzeh, where three people were wounded and one person, Riad al-Shayb, 18, was killed.
A human rights activist in Damascus, who declined to be identified for fear of government retribution, called the situation in Kisweh and Barzeh “tense,” and said he expected the government to come down hard there in a bid to crush protests in the capital that activists said have drawn ever larger crowds.
The Coordinating Committees said there were also mass arrests Saturday in Homs, Syria’s third largest city; Mare’a, a suburb of Aleppo; and the villages of Khan Sheikhoun and Jebel Zawiyah in the restive northern province of Idlib, where security forces have reportedly used scorched-earth tactics in recent weeks as part of a drive to retake a string of towns that appeared to have fallen beyond their control.
The Committees had no estimate of the number of people detained. A spokesman for the group, Hozan Ibrahim, said they were primarily young people, a trend that he said reflected fear on the part of the authorities.
“They are scared,” he said. “Young people are the ones organizing the demonstrations and this is the last thing they want to happen.”
In Kisweh, hundreds of soldiers prowled the streets on Saturday in what local residents described as a manhunt for young people believe to have taken part in antigovernment protests. Backed by at least 15 tanks, uniformed soldiers from Syria’s conscript army went from house to house bearing a list of the names of wanted men.
“They have lists with the names of pro-democracy activists who are behind the demonstrations,” said a resident who identified himself as Abu Muhammad, 45, a public employee. “The regime intends to punish us.”
He said checkpoints barred anyone from entering the town, squeezed between the capital and the Danoun Palestinian refugee camp 12 miles south of Damascus.
“I wanted to go to work this morning but I saw a large number of soldiers with uniforms standing near two tanks and they told me you cannot leave Kisweh today, go back home, no work today,” said Abu Muhammad. “The soldiers blocked all of the entrances to Kisweh and won’t allow anyone to leave it.”
Posted on 06/25/2011 1:41 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 25 June 2011
For Iran's Nuclear Program, Full Speed Ahead
All signs say Iran is racing toward a nuclear bomb
Iran's leadership is undaunted by the sanctions imposed on the country and seems unhindered by the damage the Stuxnet computer worm caused to the centrifuges at the uranium enrichment facility in Natanz.
By Yossi Melman
VIENNA - The procession of cars carrying Fereidoun Abbasi Davani sped down Vienna's Wagramer Strasse this Monday and into the underground car park of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Outside the building, on the bank of the Danube River, some 30 protesters from the Stop the Bomb movement demonstrated, waving signs denouncing the Iranian nuclear scientist. But Iranian security officers seemed more concerned about the prospect of someone trying to exploit Abbasi Davani's controversial visit to finish the job.
On November 29, 2010, anonymous assailants tried to assassinate Abbasi Davani as he emerged from his home in Tehran. He and his wife, seated next to him in the car, were hit by gunfire, but survived the assassination attempt. Iran blamed the Mossad for the failed operation.
The assassins were more successful in a different attack launched that same day, which killed another nuclear scientist - Majid Shahriari.
The Iranians claimed that Abbasi Davani was nothing but an innocent physics professor. Intelligence sources countered that his university position was just a cover for his secret activity as one of the leading experts in Iran's weaponization, which is working on the final and decisive stage of developing a nuclear weapon under the auspices of the Revolutionary Guards. His name appears on the UN Security Council's blacklist, compiled after the council voted in March 2007 to impose sanctions on companies, organizations and individuals involved in Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs. It also appears on similar lists compiled by the United States and the European Union, which ordered that his assets be frozen.
About two months after Abbasi Davani was shot, in January 2011, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appointed him as his vice president and as head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, a defiant move that seemed to say Iran would continue its nuclear program and no one could stop it.
Some two weeks prior to his arrival in Vienna to take part in the IAEA's Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety, Abbasi Davani announced that by the end of the year, Iran would triple the amount of uranium it has enriched to a level of 20 percent. Though uranium enriched to this level is intended mostly to fuel Tehran's small nuclear research reactor, which produces medical isotopes, it also bolsters the knowledge of Iranian nuclear experts and their ability to control all stages of enrichment - including to a level of 93%, which enables the production of fissile material used in making a nuclear weapon.
This announcement by the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization was very disturbing to Israel, the United States and other Western countries. It indicates that Iran is determined to continue its nuclear program at full speed and is even accelerating the pace. It means Iran's leadership is undaunted by the sanctions imposed on the country, or by the damage the Stuxnet computer worm caused to the program that operates the centrifuges at the uranium enrichment facility in Natanz. The Stuxnet worm has been ascribed to a sabotage operation undertaken by the Mossad and the CIA. According to foreign sources, it is one of the major achievements of former Mossad head Meir Dagan.
In the same announcement, Abbasi Davani said Iran has developed an advanced centrifuge model whose rotors spin at greater speed, thus enabling the enrichment of a larger amount of uranium in a shorter time. Such centrifuges, he said, will be constructed at the second uranium enrichment site that Iran built secretly near the Revolutionary Guards base just outside of Qom.
According to the reports of IAEA inspectors who visited it, the site, built deep inside a mountain, looks like a fortified facility made to withstand aerial bombardments. Its existence was revealed in September 2009 thanks to information obtained by the intelligence agencies of Israel, the U.S. and Britain. According to both diplomatic sources in Vienna and intelligence experts, the site at Qom, which contains only 3,000 centrifuges, can only have one goal - enriching uranium for the production of a nuclear weapon.
Worrying new questions
Two crucial new questions are now worrying all those who follow Iran's nuclear program. One is whether Qom was chosen as a site for uranium enrichment due only to its strategic location, or if any meaning should be attached to the fact that Shi'ites consider it a holy city, the place of residence of Ayatollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Republic.
Ahmadinejad and several of his ministers, as well as senior commanders in the Revolutionary Guards, belong to a small but influential group in the Iranian government that adheres to a mystical belief in the coming of the Mahdi - the Twelfth, or hidden, Imam - who is considered the Shi'ite messiah. One of the conditions for the Mahdi's coming is that a huge proportion of the world's population be annihilated in a great war.
This radical Shi'ite doctrine has parallels in the idea of the War of Gog and Magog in Christian eschatology, which is prophesied to take place in the Jezreel Valley not far from Tel Megiddo (Armageddon in the Greek translation ). Is the site at Qom Ahmadinejad's Armageddon, where a weapon will be developed that will annihilate the unbelievers and hasten the coming of the Messiah?
Another cause for concern is an article published about two months ago on a Revolutionary Guards website. In it, for the first time, the author talked about "the day after" Iran carries out a successful nuclear test that would transform it into a nuclear power. Previously, Iranian government officials had always maintained strict silence on this subject. Was the article a fluke, the result of negligence by inattentive censors, or was it written to prepare public opinion, both at home and abroad?
It is difficult for a Western rationalist to accept the possibility, even if its likelihood is negligible, that Iran is motivated by religious belief in its determination to obtain a nuclear weapon, and might even use such a weapon for religious reasons. [is it? at this point? after all we have seen of insensate Muslim violence and general craziness?] After all, aside from Ahmadinejad's domestic troubles, including calls in parliament for his ouster, the one who decides on sensitive strategic issues like the nuclear one in Iran is not the president, but supreme leader Ali Khamenei, who is not known to have any messianic leanings.
But the sum total of all these developments - the appointment of Abbasi Davani, his announcements about the acceleration of enrichment and its transfer to Qom, the unusual article - all these, especially in light of the Arab revolutions that have diverted the world's attention from Tehran, may indicate that Iran is closer to reaching a decision than experts had previously thought. This may also be the background for the outspoken warnings by Dagan, who fears a hasty, reckless decision by the prime and defense ministers to order the Israel Air Force to attack Iran. ["hasty" after Israel has been warning, and warning, the entire West that Iran had to be stopped -- warning it for nearly ten years, and only in the last few years have any serious sanctions been imposed? and "reckless" when the entire Israeli military establishment has been worrying, and thinking, and planning, and planning, and thinking, and worrying, about what to do, whether to do it, how to do it, with what means to do it, what would happen if they don't do it, for many years? "Hasty" and "reckless"?]
Posted on 06/25/2011 2:29 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 25 June 2011
Mazza Che Spiaggia!
See that beach in Yemen, complete with colorful umbrellas, right here.
Posted on 06/25/2011 2:37 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 25 June 2011
Could the New Tennessee Cyber - Bullying Law Open Up Possible Blasphemy Actions?
Thursday night there was a panel discussion at the Maple Street Grille across from the Rutherford County Court House about legislation newly enacted into law by the Tennessee Legislature. There were questions about the Material Support Act (MSA), the Refugee Absorptive Capacity Act (RACA) and especially HB 300, the so-called Cyber-Bullying Law. Sen. Bill Ketron of Rutherford County noted that with regard to the MSA he had been visited by three Imams entreating him to drop Sharia from the law. Ketron commented it was a “divinely inspired” act.
Sen. Jim Tracy from Bedford County, which includes Shelbyville with its continuing problems with assimilation of Somali immigrant workers at the Tyson Foods poultry processing plant, cast some doubt on the ability of the Tennessee RACA to have conclusive impact. He correctly noted that the UN controls the placement of refugees in the US and our State Department allocates those by State under a diversion from Gateway Cities adopted by the Clinton Administration in the 1990s. However, he saved his criticism for the Voluntary Agencies contractors with US refugee resettlement programs that do little to assist in the absorption and assimilation of refugees like the Somali Muslims.
The bulk of the questions were reserved for the new Cyber-Bullying Law intended to criminalize perpetrators. It is modeled on laws adopted elsewhere in the wake of the nationally publicized case of a suicide of a high school student in Massachusetts. The new Cyber-Bullying law went into effect on June 3rd. The large audience at the Rutherford, Tennessee Maple Street Grill public forum endeavored to seek answers about the unintended consequences vis a vis Free Speech, possible violation of the First Amendment rights that may require remedial actions by the Legislature and even concerns about possible abuse by Muslim advocacy groups in the Volunteer State pressing blasphemy claims. This concern reflects the roiling debate about the eruption of mega-Mosques in Middle Tennessee and stealth infiltration of Sharia, strict Islamic law.
Ketron and Rep. Rick Womick were peppered with questions both during the public program and following. They responded by saying we wanted to protect “our kids.” When pressed about the law’s impact on free speech, they hastily responded saying that was a matter for the Attorney General to investigate, but didn’t know when that might occur. They were dismissive that the new law might abet possible blasphemy complaints, a question raised by Pete Doughtie publisher of The Rutherford Reader. Think of the Danish Mohammed cartoons. Something equivalent to that either graphically or on-line in a blog post or article could be subject to this new law.
Others, including some legislators who voted against the cyber bullying law, believe that the majority of state legislators misunderstood the untoward consequences of their rush to pass the Cyber-Bullying law.
Note these comments from Tennessee State House Knoxville Examiner columnist, David Oatney, “Did the Tennessee Legislature inadvertently violate the Constitution?”
It seems as though a well-intentioned effort to crack down on internet harassment and stiffen penalties for those who would use the internet as a venue to bully and stalk others in a way that would largely be seen as illegal in the offline world could raise serious constitutional questions about whether an attempt to cut cyber-bullying could instead infringe on freedom of speech or freedom of the press. Tennessee House Bill 300 became law on the 3rd of this month, and subsequently entered the Tennessee Code as Public Chapter 362.
As can be expected, this modification to the law is going to change the relevant wording of the Tennessee Code Annotated. Both Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) and Senator Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville) expressed the same concern over the legislation, which says, among other things, that if you display an image that could cause "emotional distress" to someone, you would be committing a crime under the new law. The wording of the Code would also lead one to believe that freedom of speech could be severely limited under the new regime of Public Chapter 362.
(a) A person commits an offense who intentionally:
(4) Communicates with another person or transmits or displays an image in a manner in which there is a reasonable expectation that the image will be viewed by the victim by [by telephone, in writing or by electronic communication] without legitimate purpose:
(A) (i) With the malicious intent to frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress; or
(ii) In a manner the defendant knows, or reasonably should know, would frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress to a similarly situated person of reasonable sensibilities; and
(B) As the result of the communication, the person is frightened, intimidated or emotionally distressed.
Instead of mere communication with another person in an inappropriate way, you can be deemed a criminal for posting an image that someone deems "emotionally stressful" on your website or Facebook page. This new provision could be especially dangerous to bloggers and online political reporters who use the internet as a means to share commentary, and include words and pictures which are definitely going to be emotionally stressful to their political opponents. The so-called "cyber-bullying" law has the potential to lead to government bullying of citizens who are exercising freedom of speech and freedom of the press.
Legislators, including Senators Campfield and Kelsey, mentioned above, say that the General Assembly is going to "fix" the legislation in next year's session. Hopefully, the "fixes" will go into effect before the first lawsuit is filed challenging the constitutionality of this law, because the Plaintiffs would almost certainly be victorious.
Lou Ann Zelenik, executive director of the Tennessee Freedom Coalition who attended the Rutherford Maple Street Grill forum sent this comment in an email:
While, with good intentions, I believe the majority of the legislature did not understand the ramifications of this law. I am hopeful it will be repealed when the legislature reconvenes in January. All the Attorney General can do is issue an opinion. Sadly, there appears to be a minority of legislators who are so sensitive to criticism that they will grasp at any opportunity to stifle free speech. These attempts at circumventing our 1st Amendment guarantees, creates the danger that we could face multiple cases similar to what Geert Wilders has had to tolerate in Netherlands. I am always mindful of Judicial Activism and the views of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg regarding International Law.
Posted on 06/25/2011 2:58 PM by Jerry Gordon
Saturday, 25 June 2011
A Musical Interlude: We'll Make Hay While The Sun Shines (Billy Merrin & His Commanders, voc. Sam Browne)
Posted on 06/25/2011 3:03 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 25 June 2011
Armed Forces Day 2011 - Romford Essex
Armed Forces Day is a relatively new occasion in the UK that grows bigger every year. Events are taking place all over the country over the weekend and into next week. The main focus of national celebration is in Edinburgh and there are many and varied local events. My daughter and I travelled to Romford in Essex where there was a parade.
It was led by the Town Cryer and the Royal British Legion Band. There were veterans, including men of the Parachute regiment, the Burma Star Association and the Royal British Legion.
There were cadets and serving soldiers, police cadets, St John’s Ambulance, Air Training Corps, Brownies and Girl Guides ending with a second band, the Hornchurch Drum and Trumpet Corps.
The parade marched past the greeting dignitaries, the Mayor, the MP and the Lord Lieutenant of Essex, through the market place, then dispersed near the Town Hall.
Anjem Choudary tweeted the previous evening “I wonder where the demonstration will be this Saturday by MAC on the 'Armed Forces Day' when they all celebrate the 1000s of Muslims killed? “ The two likeliest events were those of Romford and Woolwich. Members of the EDL were intending to pay their respects to the Armed Forces in any event. The police decided that the best way to counter any possible attendance by the Muslims Against Crusades was to delay the pubs from opening until midday, an hour and a half after the march ended. I met members of Dagenham Division enjoying coffee and hot chocolate at one of the several continental style pavement cafes which have opened since the redevelopment of the market in recent years.
In the event, neither Choudary, nor his friends of MAC, showed up in Romford, or Woolwich, or anywhere else that we have heard about. Had they appeared in Romford they would have looked very stupid demonstrating against veterans and small girls. But I expect Brownies are haram under sharia law.
The weather stayed fine. The youth volunteer stalls looked very welcoming. I decided not to have my face painted camouflage style.
The Help for Heroes stall did a roaring trade.
Gold thing, I think I love you.
Photographs by E Weatherwax and Susan Sto Helit. June 2011
Posted on 06/25/2011 4:32 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 25 June 2011
Suicide bomber kills 25 in attack on Afghan maternity ward
A deadly car bomb ripped through an Afghan hospital on Saturday, heightening the fears of many in the country about President Barack Obama’s new troop withdrawal order. Officials said that up to 25 people died, many of them women and children after the maternity department bore the brunt of the attack in the south-eastern Logar province.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid denied responsibility and said the Islamist insurgents never attack hospitals
Posted on 06/25/2011 6:10 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 25 June 2011
Clemens Heni On Antisemitisms At Yale
Yale kills its landmark antisemitism program (where I worked) and replaces it with a politically correct one — meaning no criticism of Islam.
June 23, 2011
On June 19, Yale University announced the “Yale Program for the Study of Antisemitism“ (YPSA), with Maurice Samuels from the Department of French as its head. From Yale’s announcement:
I am hopeful that this program will produce major scholarship on the vitally important subject of antisemitism. Professor Samuels and his colleagues have Yale’s remarkable library resources at their disposal, including the Fortunoff Video Archives of Holocaust Testimonies and the 95,000-volume Judaica collection of the Yale Library.
I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your keen interest in the study of antisemitism at Yale. This is an exciting new beginning, and we all look forward to seeing the results.
Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology
A Judaica collection has little to do with research on antisemitism, especially when it comes to the threats of 2011: genocidal threats from Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah.
Neither does 19th century literature. In 2004, Maurice Samuels published The Spectacular Past: Popular History and the Novel in Nineteenth-Century France. In it, he deals with a film from 1927 about Napoléon, and points to a snowball scene, which reminds him of the following:
One example is the famous snowball fight scene that opens the film, a version of which had been featured in Bonaparte à l’école de Brienne, ou le petit caporal, souvenirs de 1783, the Napoleon play starring Virginie Déjazet in 1830. Images of the snowball fight also appear in A.V. Arnault’s Vie politique et militaire de Napoléon (1822) and Laurent de l’Ardèche’s Histoire de l’empereur Napoléon (1839), two of the illustrated histories I discuss in chapter 2.
That’s fascinating and fine scholarship, just not the sort of work needed to address antisemitism in the contemporary world.
An antisemitism program needs scholars who deal with Qassam rockets, Grad rockets, and other rocket systems, not snowballs. Scholars who deal with satellite systems, and firebombs targeting Israeli civilians and tanks. Who study soldiers of Hamas, Hezbollah, and other antisemitic terror groups. It needs scholars who deal with Islamist thinkers, from Hasan al-Banna and Sayyid Qutb to Mohammad Chatami, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Yusuf al-Qaradawi’s anti-Israel and pro-suicide-bombing fatwas.
It needs scholars who deal with the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamism — not only in Egypt, but in the entire Middle East, Europe, North America, and elsewhere. It needs scholars on Iran and the analysis of incitement to genocide.
It needs scholars on Turkey, lawful Islamism, and its relationship to anti-Zionism and antisemitism.
It needs scholars on Islamic jihad, terror, the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and homegrown terrorism in the West.
It needs scholars on left-wing, progressive, Muslim, and Neo-Nazi anti-Zionist antisemitism, and the ideologies and concepts of postorientalism, postcolonialism, and their possible relationship to antisemitism (e.g., in the work of Edward Said). And it needs scholars on antisemitism and anti-Israel propaganda in Western mass media in the 21st century.
There is nothing wrong with scholarship on France and Jewish history; it is important. But it shouldn’t be seen as a replacement for serious scholarship on contemporary antisemitism. The study of dead antisemites and past campaigns of vilification is already part of every single Jewish Studies department in the world. And dealing with Jewish literature (the topic of Samuels’ new book in 2010) has nothing to do with research on (contemporary) antisemitism.
Early in June, Yale University decided to shut down the five-year-old Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism (YIISA), and replace it with the Yale Program for the Study of Antisemitism described above, which has nothing in common with YIISA. Media has significantly reported about this decision, the public debate starting on June 6 with an article by Abby Wisse Schachter. Many journalists, organizations, and scholars joined the cause to keep YIISA, including the Zionist Organization of America, the American Jewish Committee, and the Anti Defamation League.
Professor Alvin Rosenfeld wrote an open letter to Yale, urging the university to keep YIISA. Professor, feminist, and bestselling author Phyllis Chesler wrote, shocked about the “Palestinianization and Stalinization of the American professoriate.” Caroline Glick advised donors to think twice about giving money to Yale in the future. Alex Joffe expressed his displeasure, as did Ben Cohen and Benjamin Weinthal.
Harvard professor and YIISA board member Alan Dershowitz said the following in an interview with David F. Nesenoff, a keynote speaker at YIISA’s August 2010 conference “Global Anti Semitism: A Crisis of Modernity”:
I think some of the blame lies not only with the Jewish faculty members but with pro-Israel faculty members who are too frightened to speak up because it makes them unpopular. You pay a price on campus today for being pro Israel. Even I pay a price for that.
Yale, in fact, has a long history of antisemitism. Dershowitz continued:
The slogan of Yale was urim v’tumim‘ [light and truth] in Hebrew. The joke was if you could read it, you can’t go there. The college had an overt quota system. I was not in the college. I couldn’t get into the college obviously. When I went to the law school there was overt antisemitism in the hiring process by law firms. And there were secret clubs that didn’t allow in Jews. That was 50 years ago. Yale has a terrible legacy of antisemitism, which should make it sensitive to the issue.
Historian Stephen H. Norwood’s The Third Reich in the Ivory Tower demonstrates that Yale and many other Ivy League universities were very much pro-German, and not at all anti-Nazi. Norwood writes:
Yale University and Vassar College German clubs invited Dr. Richard Sallet, attaché at the German embassy in Washington, to speak on campus about Hitler’s Germany. The Nazi-diplomat spoke informally on December 11 to Yale’s Germanic Club, which was composed of faculty members and graduate students, on “The New Foundation of the German Commonwealth.”
The PLO is — and Yasir Arafat was — influenced by Grand Mufti Mohammed Amin al-Husaini. Al-Husaini was a close ally of National Socialism, Hitler, and the Germans. He was actively involved in the Holocaust. Scholarship on antisemitism has dealt with al-Husaini in the last couple of years — one of the first brochures on the Grand Mufti, Italian fascists, and the Nazis was published as early as 1947 by Holocaust survivor Simon Wiesenthal.
The Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism (YIISA) provided space for scholarship on such topics. Now, Yale University follows the advice of the PLO and stops scholarship on the Grand Mufti, the PLO, and Nazism. Yale fails to fight antisemitism in 2011 as it failed to do so in 1933. Norwood, one of the speakers at the YIISA seminar series in 2011, reports in his above-quoted book:
President James Rowland Angell of Yale University refused the request of Rabbi Edgar E. Siskin on March 27, 1933, at a community-wide mass meeting in New Haven called to voice “dismay and indignation at the anti-Semitic excesses now being carried out in Germany.” President Angell told Rabbi Siskin: “I greatly fear the unfavorable effect of public demonstrations.” Rabbi Siskin was deeply disappointed that President Angell declined his invitation and told him, “Your presence with us would have added greatly to the effect of our protest locally.”
In 1936 the Yale Athletic Board and the Yale Daily News supported Nazi Germany’s Olympic games, and rejected a boycott of this propaganda event in Berlin.
Today Alan Dershowitz blames Yale for the killing of YIISA, for good reason:
The university should have sought public input from faculty and other people. For example, I’m an alum; I’m a member of the Board of Advisors. I never got a phone call. I was never asked my views on this matter. I’ve spoken for them. You would think that the University might call me and others like me, or at least get our input. They didn’t.
YIISA was the first institution of its kind, the first university based center for research on antisemitism in North America. Isn’t this astonishing? Let’s just take the last 10 years, since the “second Intifada” in September 2000 and since the horror of 9/11. Why did no full-time professor and no university, whether Ivy League or other, whether in New York City, Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago, or Dallas, establish a center especially and exclusively dedicated to the scholarly analysis of antisemitism, of new antisemitism, left-wing, progressive (Jewish and non-Jewish), Muslim, Arabic, right-wing extremist, mainstream media, and other forms of (anti-Zionist) antisemitism?
Finally Canadian sociologist Dr. Small, who originally specialized in urban planning before taking up the analysis of new antisemitism, came to Yale to head the new YIISA. He had the idea, the resources, and the network of scholars, donors, and Yale people who supported and embraced his idea of YIISA, among them William Prusoff and Allon Canaan.
Now YIISA is gone. And some scholars, most notably historian Deborah Lipstadt in an article titled “How to Study Antisemitism” in the Forward, are blaming YIISA instead of Yale. Her article surprised many scholars on antisemitism, as well as people in the pro-Israel tent.
While pretending to be against all forms of antisemitism, Lipstadt is apparently even more profoundly against “advocacy.” She denounces Charles Small for being an advocate, not a scholar.
British anti-Zionist Anthony Lerman, though, is happy about Deborah Lipstadt’s criticism of YIISA. He embraces her because she attacks YIISA as “advocacy.”
Why did Yale close YIISA? On September 3, 2010, the JTA reported criticisms and resentments from Arab sources about the large YIISA conference held in August 2010:
The PLO envoy to Washington said that a conference on anti-Semitism at Yale University “demonized Arabs.”
In an Aug. 30 letter to the university’s president, Richard Levin, Ma’en Areikat cited the Aug. 23-25 inaugural conference of the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism. The conference was titled ‘Global Antisemitism: A Crisis of Modernity.’ Said Areikat:
As Palestinians, we strongly support principles of academic freedom and free speech, however racist propaganda masquerading as scholarship does not fall into this category.
Don Filer, the director of Yale’s Office of International Affairs, wrote back to say that Yale does not censor academics, the Yale Daily News reported.
In his letter Areikat cited three lectures and scholars out of more than 100 at a conference that included sessions not only on antisemitism in the Islamic world but among feminists, in the Christian world, and among Jews. Scholars came from 18 countries and leading educational institutions, and included pre-eminent experts in their fields — such as Deborah Lipstadt.
Areikat singled out for criticism Itamar Marcus, who directs Palestinian Media Watch. Marcus delivered a keynote lecture titled “The Central Role of Palestinian Anti-Semitism in Creating the Palestinian Identity.”
What was Lipstadt’s response in June 2011, after Yale followed the advice of the PLO to kill YIISA? It is interesting how she deals with scholarship at Yale:
According to sources at Yale, the university’s leadership unsuccessfully worked with YIISA in an attempt to rectify some of these issues. Part of Yale’s discomfort might have come from the fact that a Yale-based scholarly entity was administered by an individual who, while a successful institution builder, was not a Yale faculty member and who had no official position at the university. Yale has indicated that it is intent on axing YIISA and replacing it with an initiative that will address both anti-Semitism and its scholarly concerns.
What are the facts? Dr. Small talked to me and told me about his career. He is astonished that Lipstadt, whom he had invited to YIISA several times, did not talk to him before reporting about him.
Dr. Small’s participation in the program of the Yale Institution for Social and Policy Studies and his teaching in its program in Ethics, Politics, and Economics apparently does not count for her. Dr. Small also runs programs for undergraduates and graduates, as well as a Post-Doctoral program.
I told Dr. Lipstadt about my research and she wrote that she clearly sees my “excellent” work. However, she did not respond to my inquiry as to why she attacked Charles Small and YIISA for having moved from scholarship to advocacy.
Dr. Lipstadt makes accusations of advocacy without discussing the high-profile scholarly results of YIISA. YIISA held five conferences, not including its huge conference with over 100 presentations in August 2010.
Most importantly, YIISA organized and hosted, from Fall 2005 until Spring 2011, some 118 events in its seminar series Antisemitism in Contemporary Perspective. The 118 events included 128 presentations.
I have told Lipstadt that I disagree with her piece, and have told her about the high-profile scholarship of YIISA. She responded:
At the same time, however, there was a strain of advocacy in many of the presentations and papers and this made even those who were supporters of YIISA uncomfortable. This gave fodder to YIISA’s critics and lead to Yale’s actions.
This is an interesting argument from a scholar of the Holocaust and the history of antisemitism.
She says that inappropriate activities — advocacy (for Israel) — led to “criticism,” like that from the PLO. This is a lie: the PLO promotes hatred of Israel, it is not a “critic.” The PLO cannot tolerate the scholarly analysis of Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim antisemitism. The analysis of antisemitism, like that of the PLO, clearly shows that their ideology and actions do not depend on what others do or not do.
Lipstadt does not mention the above-quoted letter from the PLO, which sparked the entire debate about the YIISA conference in August 2010 at Yale.
Contrary to that, the historian does not try to portray the real climate and scholarship at YIISA. Why did Lipstadt not mention a single one of these events at YIISA? Why is she not naming who was doing the allegedly inappropriate advocacy?
YIISA held lectures from the most distinguished scholars in the field of antisemitism, including Jeffrey Herf, Michael Walzer, Bassam Tibi, Stephen Norwood, Daniel Tsadik, Moishe Postone, Dovid Katz, Paul Lawrence Rose, Mordechai Kedar, Barry Rubin, David Menashri, Richard Landes, Kenneth Marcus, Gerald Steinberg, Ruth Wisse, Dina Porat, Alvin Rosenfeld, Benny Morris, and particularly Robert S. Wistrich.
If a program succeeds in bringing in the best scholars in the field, it is doing a good job.
Historian Lipstadt prefers rumor (“sources at Yale” told her about the unwillingness of YIISA to do real scholarship) instead of facts. Why didn’t she contact Dr. Small? Why didn’t she use a search on the internet? Even if she couldn’t find many publications of the director, she should have looked at publications on antisemitism published by fellows, post-docs, associate professors, and the guest speakers.
Without referring to Small’s career, Lipstadt says:
There is, however, another side to this story. Apparently, there were people on the Yale campus who were associated with YIISA and who were eager to have it succeed. These friends of YIISA counseled the institute’s leadership that some of its efforts had migrated to the world of advocacy from that of scholarship. They warned YIISA that it was providing fodder to the critics’ claim that it was not a truly academic endeavor.
I have twice participated in YIISA’s activities. I gave a paper at one of its weekly seminar sessions on Holocaust denial and attended its conference last August. While serious scholars who work in this field gave the vast majority of the papers — and not dilettantes who dabble in it — there were a few presentations that gave me pause. They were passionate and well argued. But they were not scholarly in nature.
But Lipstadt does not mention a single name.
Maybe she is also aiming at Itamar Marcus (“not scholarly in nature”), cited by the PLO. Maybe she has other “passionate,” though “not scholarly” presentations in mind, but we do not know because she is intentionally not offering them.
She ends her article for the Forward (and Engage from the UK republished her piece) with the following:
Second, this struggle also demonstrates the necessity of differentiating between those who do advocacy and those who do scholarship. Both are critical — but entirely different — endeavors. Let us not forget how rightfully disturbed the Jewish community has been in recent years about the way in which advocacy and polemics have permeated so many university courses on the Middle East. Too many students who take these classes find that they have entered a zone in which advocacy masquerades as scholarship. This is unacceptable, irrespective of the source from which it emanates.
Would Lipstadt also say that Women’s Studies, Black Studies, or postcolonial studies should stay away from advocacy? Does she believe that scholarship in these (very fashionable) fields is not “biased” pro- woman, pro-black, or pro-third world? If she ever has dealt with these programs, she would know that these programs, of course, are engaged in “advocacy.” So scholarship and advocacy are quite typical on campus in the U.S. and elsewhere.
Professor Philip Carl Salzman criticizes Lipstadt and Engage:
Much of the Humanities and Social Sciences is advocacy. This is obvious in such fields as “Women’s Studies,” “Black Studies,” and other fields of identity politics. But it is equally true in fields such as sociology, anthropology, “cultural studies,” communications, and other fields, in which advocating for the “sub-altern,” the “postcolonial,” and other favorites of the left is common. One only has to note that the dominant influence in many of the fields during the last decades is Edward Said, a professor of English literature who ventured into Middle East politics and the history and sociology of knowledge, with no expertise in either. No university administration ever complained about advocacy for Palestinians. But it is quite a different matter to advocate on behalf of politically incorrect Jews, ever worse to advocate for “Nazi” and “apartheid” Israel, and “racist” to suggest that there is such a things as Islamic antisemitism, which would be a blatant case of Islamophobia. The problem is not advocacy, as Lipstadt cluelessly suggests, but politically incorrect advocacy, or even politically incorrect scholarship. Let’s get real, folks.
Is Lipstadt really thinking there is too much pro-Israel advocacy in programs in Islamic or Middle Eastern Studies in the U.S.? Has she ever heard of pro-Arab, anti-Israel scholars such as John Esposito, Barbara Freyer-Stowasser, Khaled Abou El Fadl, Rashid Khalidi, Gil Anidjar, Ian Shapiro, and almost all other academics dealing with the Middle East and area studies? Being anti-Zionist and pro-Islamist is a door-opener in these fields. Everyone who mentions, let alone analyzes, Arab, Muslim, and Islamic antisemitism will be blocked.
Yale professor of political science Ian Shapiro, a close ally of ISPS head Donald Green, and the Yale MacMillan Center invited antisemite Judge Richard Goldstone in 2011.
Yale Senior Fellow Hillary Mann Leverett (“engagement, not pressure,” when it comes to Iran) embraces Holocaust denier, antisemite, and anti-American propagandist Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. She and 13 students of her Yale class met officially with the Iranian criminal in September 2010 in New York City. This is, of course, not advocacy for Holocaust denial and antisemitism. This is tender “engagement.”
What does our Yale snowball expert and head of the newly established “Yale Program for the study of Antisemitism” (YPSA) say about such events?
And what says historian Deborah Lipstadt? She does not mention the history of antisemitism at Yale. She does not note today’s antisemitic events and “engagements” at Yale either. She misses the point, again. She is a good scholar when it comes to fighting Holocaust denial, soft-core denial and obfuscation or distortion of the Holocaust, or when it comes to remembering the Eichmann trial. I even use her term “soft-core” Holocaust denial, because this is quite an interesting terminology for the obfuscation, distortion, or denial of the unprecedented crime of the Shoah.
But on contemporary antisemitism, she is a newcomer. This is not a fault. It is a fault, though, to spread rumors about “passionate” but “inappropriate advocacy” at a YIISA conference. In effect, if not in intent, Lipstadt and her allies who republished her piece are supporting the anti-Zionist PLO, Islamism, and the entire postcolonialist, postorientalist agenda.
They approve scholarship on these topics, which are all pure advocacy for Palestinians, “the oppressed,” Muslims, etc., and blame the victim: Israel and the Jews. They blame those who dare to do scholarship on antisemitism while taking a clear stand for democracy, universal rights, America, and the Jewish state of Israel.
A scholar on antisemitism who believes that he or she is not doing advocacy for Jews is fooling him- or herself. A doctor who is looking for new medicine against cancer is doing advocacy — for mankind — as well as scholarship.
YIISA is the place which provided a space for high-profile scholarship on antisemitism. It was a diverse place, too. Several fellows followed poststructuralist and postcolonial attempts, while others tried to strengthen analysis of ideology, particularly criticism of anti-Zionist antisemitism among “minority groups” in the West, like left-wingers, Muslims, “peace” activists, etc. If anyone deals seriously with the history of YIISA, one finds totally different scholarly biographies.
However: not many places provided so many scholars from all over the world the opportunity to discuss their articles, books, working papers, lectures, pieces, and ideas about contemporary and other forms of antisemitism.
To attack YIISA by framing it as pure advocacy and not scholarship misrepresents reality, as this article proves.
We should go further to save YIISA, as Professor Walter Reich puts it in the Washington Post. He points to antisemitic students and organizations that may well be behind the decision (among others of course), and he points to the high-profile scholarship at YIISA and its involvement in the Yale faculty:
The conference [the above mentioned August 2010 YIISA conference] provoked a firestorm. A Syrian American law student published a broadside in the Yale Daily News attacking the institute and the conference as fueling “anti-Arab bigotry and Islamophobia.” The Palestine Liberation Organization’s representative to the United States wrote to Yale’s president accusing the conference of demonizing Arabs — “who are Semites themselves” — and urging him to dissociate himself and Yale from the conference’s “extremism and hate-mongering.” The Internet lit up with attacks on the institute and Yale.
Yale administrators and faculty quickly turned on the institute. It was accused of being too critical of Arab and Iranian anti-Semitism and of being racist and right-wing.
(…) The criticism was unfounded. The institute’s faculty governance committee includes 13 Yale faculty members. It has four faculty researchers; a faculty advisory committee consisting of 14 faculty members and two students; eight post-doctoral fellows; six graduate fellows; and 11 undergraduate interns. It has launched the first international association for the study of anti-Semitism and has supervised undergraduate dissertations. Yale students have attended its seminars and courses.“
Let’s focus: The Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism (YIISA) was the first center of its kind in North America. Research on antisemitism (especially Muslim antisemitism) is among the most important fields of research in the humanities and social sciences today. Research on antisemitism is a specific field of research.
It may not be confused with harmless (not irrelevant, though) Jewish Studies on literature in the 19th century and other related topics.
P.S.: I am grateful for support, hints, and advice on this article to Prof. Philip Carl Salzman (Montréal, McGill University, Canada) and Prof. Neil J. Kressel (Yale University, YIISA, and William Paterson University, NJ, USA).
Posted on 06/25/2011 7:29 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 25 June 2011
What Has The War In Afghanistan Achieved?
From The Independent:
What has the war in Afghanistan really achieved?
By Jonathan Owen, David Randall, Jane Merrick and Rupert Cornwell
Sunday, 26 June 2011
At least 60 people died in a suicide bombing just 25 miles from Kabul yesterday. In a few days' time, a report on Afghanistan from the International Crisis Group will say that violence and the billions of dollars in international aid have brought wealthy officials and insurgents together. As a result, "the economy is increasingly dominated by a criminal oligarchy of politically connected businessmen".
The negatives column in the Afghan war's balance sheet does not get any shorter. So far, the conflict has lasted nine years, eight months and 17 days, cost the lives of 2,547 coalition troops, and between 14,000 and 34,000 civilians, created millions of refugees, and opened up a black hole in Western economies that has sucked in more $500bn dollars. Afghanistan costs the US around $10bn (£6.3bn) a month; and Britain will pay £4.5bn this year.
Such is the change in mood that the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, has openly admitted the prospect of parleying with the Taliban, the very people we went to war to remove. Sources have told The Independent on Sunday these are, at present, talks about talks, but have involved middle-ranking officials from the State Department and CIA on the US side (initially brokered by the German ambassador), and Tayeb Agha, former chef-de-cabinet of Mullah Omar, on the Taliban side.
So, as these preliminaries are gone through, and President Obama announces a speeding up of troop withdrawal, we ask: what has been achieved by the war?
Al-Qa'ida and the terror threat
The hunt for Osama bin Laden and removal of the Taliban regime sheltering him was the original war aim, long since replaced by fighting insurgency, winning those elusive hearts and minds, and the neo-cons' idea – preposterous in the face of so much corruption and lawlessness – of building a Western-style civic society. Bin Laden is now gone, but Afghanistan has long since ceased to be a major trainer and fomenter of terrorism outside its own borders, and the killing of Bin Laden has demonstrated that special forces, police work and drones are a far more effective weapon against terrorists than wars.
A stable Afghanistan?
There are undoubted achievements, principally that the country is no longer ruled by a regime of fanatics. Afghan security forces now exist; roads, schools, and clinics have been built; and the numbers of children in school have soared. In Helmand province, where British forces are concentrated, 11 of its 14 districts now have a governor and some officials. Schools have reopened with almost 80,000 children enrolled today, virtually double the number in 2007. Two-thirds of Afghans now have access to basic health services – up from 8 per cent during Taliban rule; more than 1,000 judges, 200 of them women, have been trained; and elections, albeit increasingly corrupt ones, are routinely held.
But with violence at record levels, a dysfunctional government plagued by corruption, and a police and army riddled with illiteracy and dependent on coalition support, Afghanistan is anything but stable. Despite billions of dollars being poured into creating an Afghan army and police force capable of fighting the Taliban on their own, only a single army unit is assessed as being able to operate independently, according to the International Security Assistance Force.
The Afghan security forces are suffering from a shortage of hundreds of instructors, not to mention infiltration by the Taliban. Speaking to The IoS last week, Dr Jack Kem, deputy commander for the Nato training mission in Afghanistan, admitted there is no end date by which the security forces would be capable of functioning without outside support. Meanwhile, violence in Afghanistan hit a high last month, with 961 civilians killed or injured, making May the deadliest month since the United Nations began compiling statistics in 2007. The UN said insurgents were responsible for 82 per cent of the deaths. Nato-led troops suffered record losses in April and May with 110 dead – the highest death toll for those two months since the war began.
A new report by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, called Afghanistan: The Impossible Transition, says that the idea of transition by 2014 is "unrealistic" and warns: "If the transition were carried out, it would provide a considerable boost to the insurgency and, ultimately, the defeat of the Karzai regime." Over the past two years, the security situation has deteriorated in the border provinces, according to the report. And President Karzai is showing increasing signs of moving closer to Iran and Pakistan.
The Afghan economy
Government tax revenues exceeded $1bn for the first time last year, but a US Senate report estimated that 97 per cent of the country's GDP is derived from the international military and aid. And, as the troops depart, so will a lot of the reconstruction cash. US aid is falling this year from $4.2bn, and, by 2014, when the last troops leave, it will be substantially less.
Afghanistan is by far the world's most important producer of heroin and cannabis, and the war has done little to alter that. Poppy growing is too important to the warlords, corrupt government officials, the Taliban, and the untold numbers of poor Afghans involved in growing, processing, and transporting the substances. Last year, the country's opium harvest was markedly down, mainly because of poppy blight. Yet Afghanistan still accounts for 74 per cent of the world's production. As Yury Fedotov, executive director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, said: "Our preliminary findings indicate Afghan opium production will probably rebound to high levels in 2011." The reason is not hard to find. In Kabul, the price of a gramme of heroin is $4. Yet this will sell for between $170 and $200 in northern Europe and the US.
At the top of Afghan society, rights for women appear good: 69 out of 249 MPs are female, 28 per cent – well ahead of the UK's 22 per cent. Some 57 per cent of women and girls now go to school, whereas under the Taliban education for girls was banned. There are strong advocacy groups, while one of the more prominent female MPs, Fawzia Koofi, has hopes of running for the presidency in 2014.
Yet the reality on the ground, especially in areas where the Taliban has regained control over the past five years, is far grimmer: 20 girls' schools were burned down during a six-month period last year. Many teachers are threatened with "night letters" – notes left anonymously overnight – from insurgents warning them to stop educating girls or be killed. A Human Rights Watch report last year warned that women's rights in the country risked being sacrificed if the West "cut a deal" in peace talks with the Taliban.
US regional relations?
Even if in 2014 there is a full allied handover to Afghan security forces, the US will presumably maintain some form of anti-terrorist capability there, to make sure that a reborn al-Qa'ida can never take root again.
But even total success will have little bearing on what happens in Pakistan, which has all of Afghanistan's problems – a corrosive Taliban/al-Qa'ida presence, a weak and corrupt central government, a security apparatus infiltrated by militants – but on a larger scale, with nuclear weapons to boot. The fragility of the US-Pakistan relationship, once underpinned by the existence of a common enemy, the Soviet Union, has now been laid bare. Pakistan and the US are condemned to work together. But it is a mutually resentful and suspicious partnership, and will remain so.
Posted on 06/25/2011 7:33 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 25 June 2011
The Wrong Question
I've just posted a piece from The Independent that asks: What has the war in Afghanistan achieved?
The authors then go on to list places in Afghanistan where the Taliban no longer rules, where it is still fighting, where it is no longer fighting. They talk of the number of women serving in the Afghan Parliament, and of the number of girls' schools burned down, as an indicator of what Afghan women have achieved. They discuss, that is, what has improved materially, and in security, for people in Afghanistan. They accept the view, shared by the American government, that that is how the Afghan operation should be judged.
They have it wrong.
The Afghan and Iraq ventures should be judged by only one measure: has it improved the security of non-Muslims everywhere? And if it has, has it done so in an amount commensurate with the expenditure of, for Afghanistan, one trillion dollars, and for Iraq, two trillion dollars, keeping in mind other uses for those trillions of dollars that might have been used to weaken the Camp of Islam.
The number of schools built for girls, the number of roads built (that can transport Taliban as well as non-Taliban Afghans), the number of hospitals built (that can only help to increase the population of Afghanistan), the satellite channels brought in, the computers distributed, all the things that might be considered signs of advancement, are either irrelevant or misunderstood.
The only way to judge whether the three trillion dollars spent in Iraq and Afghanistan is to ask: has the Camp of Islam been weakened? Have the deep, often murderous, pre-existing sectarian (Sunn and Shi'a), tribal (tribes too numerous to list) and ethnic (Arab and Kurd in Iraq, Tadjik, Uzbek, Hazara, and Pashtun in Afghanistan) been recognized and intelligently exploited, so that these countries may not only dissolve into internecine warfare that keeps their otherwise potentially dangerous peoples occupied, but also so that such divisions may have effects outside their borders, with Sunni-Shi'a strife in Iraq (and with the Shi'a Hazara being again attacked by Sunnis in Afghanistan) having their effect on Sunni-Shi'a relations in Saudi Arabia, in Pakistan, in Yemen, in Lebanon, even in Kuwait (and in Syria, if the Sunnis think of the Alawites as Shi'a rather than as non-Muslims).
So were these two efforts worth it?
Don't be absurd.
Posted on 06/25/2011 7:34 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 25 June 2011
While Southern Kordofan And Natanz And Qom Need Attention, The Fiasco In Libya Continues
From The Washington Post:
NATO’s Libya campaign drags on
NAPLES — As NATO bombs began to rain on Libya in March, President Obama and other Western leaders assured their war-weary publics that the campaign to protect civilians from Moammar Gaddafi’s crackdown would be over within weeks.
Now the coalition’s springtime incursion has stretched to summer and Gaddafi’s resilience has startled the leaders who committed to the operation. Calls are growing to end it even as NATO pleads for more time.
As the campaign enters its fourth month, NATO officials insist that it is succeeding and that Gaddafi will become the Arab Spring’s third casualty. But that will happen, they say, only in a slow and steady advance on the capital as his troops run out of supplies, not in a flash of pyrotechnics that puts him out of power in an instant.
“The noose is tightening around him, and there’s very few places for him to go,” Gen. Charles Bouchard, the Canadian head of the operations, said Saturday in an interview at his Naples headquarters. But, he added, “you don’t stay in power for 41 years and expect that he’s going to leave at the first sign of stresses.”
Indications of a fraying commitment to the mission were evident in a House vote Friday in which an unusual coalition of anti-war Democrats and tea party Republicans joined to pass a measure to reject Obama’s use of the American military in the mission, even as they declined to strip part of its funding. In Britain, a top commander said last week that if the campaign goes on past September, his forces could crack under the strain. On Wednesday, Italy’s foreign minister called for an immediate end to hostilities.
NATO has flown more than 4,700 strike sorties, pummeling bunkers, depots and vehicles and reducing much of Gaddafi’s army to ruins. It watches his military movements with drones that can remain in the sky for days.
Still, Gaddafi holds on, continuing to cause casualties in the rebel-held city of Misurata, in the mountain towns south of Tripoli and along the front line in the east.
Bouchard said that NATO’s extreme caution about civilian deaths — in one case scuttling days of planning because a soccer game was being played next to a target — has slowed the campaign. The upshot, he said, is that there has been only one instance in which NATO thinks it may have caused civilian casualties, and few opportunities for the Libyan government to present evidence of more.
Both sides say that credible allegations of civilian deaths probably are the best weapon Libya can use against NATO. The nervousness was palpable at NATO’s operational headquarters on Friday before major strikes on Brega, a now-depopulated city near the main front line that NATO says government troops have been using as a base.
NATO later said it hit seven command and control nodes in the city, along with 28 other targets. Libyan officials said Saturday that the strikes killed 15 civilians, but they did not present evidence to support that number and in the past have exaggerated when saying that civilians were killed in strikes.
Measures that could speed Gaddafi’s departure, such as cutting overland fuel lines to Tripoli, aren’t being carried out because the United Nations mandate does not allow targeting civilian infrastructure, Bouchard said, adding that he is cautious about potentially harming civilians in the process.
One major problem with the campaign has been unrealistic expectations from the outset, analysts said.
“With any use of air power comes this public expectation that airplanes will prove our resolve, that we’ll be able to deter the enemy, that they can’t possibly win and will capitulate,” said Tami Davis Biddle, a military historian at the U.S. Army War College. “But this idea that aerial bombardment equals capitulation is a really flawed equation.”
Rebels have blamed NATO for their inability to make meaningful headway in their advance toward Tripoli, although they also say they are slowly smuggling weapons into the capital to undermine it from within. Rebel leaders based in the east say their grip on the besieged port city of Misurata — the bloodiest and arguably most important frontline in the conflict — is fraying. Rebels wrested control of the city in late April, despite intense shelling and artillery attacks by forces loyal to Gaddafi, but they have been unable to push westward.
Rebel spokesman Mohamed Ali said opposition leaders are mystified by what they perceive as the coalition’s reluctance to more forcefully attack Gaddafi troops on the front lines.
“NATO is a mystery to us,” Ali, who is based in Doha, Qatar, said in an interview via Skype. “This is getting to a stage where it’s getting very, very dangerous.”
NATO officials say they are doing all they can without risking civilian casualties, pointing to Libyan government forces switching tactics since NATO’s operation began. Many have shed their uniforms and are using weapons mounted on the backs of pickup trucks, just like the rebels, officials said. That led NATO to mistakenly target a column of rebel vehicles earlier this month.
In the meantime, poorly trained rebel fighters are taking a beating as government troops lob long-range rockets into Misurata, with NATO unable to stop them, rebels say.
“They could do better,” said Abdul Bassett Swaisi, the commander of a rebel unit of about 150 men outside of Misurata. “If the situation continues to be like this, it will take years, not months.”
The debates raging in the West and allied Arab states have made untenable the prospect of deploying ground troops to push out Gaddafi.
Military analysts say that matters a great deal.
“There’s no example of regime change occurring by bombing alone,” said Shashank Joshi, an analyst at Britain’s Royal United Services Institute, a think tank. In Kosovo, he pointed out, where the NATO air campaign was significantly more forceful than it is in Libya, the threat of deploying ground troops was what finally prompted Slobodan Milosevic to surrender.
Although it is difficult to know whether Tripoli residents are being earnest when they speak to Western journalists in the presence of government minders, recent street interviews suggest there is growing anger in the capital about NATO’s campaign.
Abdul Adeem, 44, an electrician who lives near a house leveled after a NATO strike last week, said the bombing campaign has made people rally around Gaddafi.
“All neighbors are afraid,” he said. “They think maybe NATO will do it again tonight.”
Posted on 06/25/2011 8:13 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 25 June 2011
Eighty Billion Dollars Have Been Sent To Egypt -- Why Send Any More?
Egypt Views U.S. Unfavorably
The first detailed polls in Egypt conducted by U.S. polling firms are showing some interesting results: According to a Gallup poll, 75 percent of Egyptians are against the U.S. giving aid to political groups, 68 percent believe the United States will attempt to exert direct influence on Egypt’s political future, and two-thirds of Egyptians feel that the United States is not really serious about establishing democracy in the Middle East. This is the first time that polling firms have been mostly free to conduct polls in the country; Egypt’s Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics used to remove many questions from polls. Polling also found that Egyptians overwhelmingly support the revolution and look forward to participating in elections
As in Iraq and Afghanistan, the hostility toward the United States -- which has lavished more than eighty billion dollars on the Egyptian military and Egyptian civilians since the early 1980s, and gone out of its way to declare Egypt to be -- wrongly -- an "ally" or, still more idiotically, a "staunch ally." Aid to the corrupt Egyptian military, supplying it with a great deal more to be corrupt about, and also turning it into a greater danger to Israel, the only true ally the United States has from the Atlantic to the Gulf, and even unto India, and one that should not be forced to worry about what the Egyptian army may do in any future conflict, with Hamas or Hezballah or the Islamic Republic of Iran, or with any combination of plain old Arab Muslim states, joining alliances and helping each other to do what they have all wanted to do, and tried to do, so far without success, since May 16, 1948.
Why is Egypt still being funded? Why do we not realize that we will get nothing for this money, and -- not paradoxically -- the best way to win not friends, but at least keep the level of mistrust and hostility down, is to have as little do with Muslim states as possible. There will never be gratitude for Infidel aid. There may be a desire to cultivate the West if the West stops running after the Muslim states, and lets them sink into their own swamp, that swamp of their own Islamic making.
Try it out. See if it works.
I am confident it will.
Posted on 06/25/2011 8:30 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 25 June 2011
We Are Expected To Worry About "Afghanistan's Struggling Economy"
Here is the article:
As U.S. Pulls Back, Fears Abound Over Toll on Afghan Economy
KABUL, Afghanistan — While President Obama’s announcement of troop reductions is not expected to change much here right away, American and Afghan officials are already worrying about the impact of the eventual withdrawal of international forces on Afghanistan’s struggling economy.
Very little will happen immediately. “What’s going to be different 24 hours after the president’s speech? Nothing,” said a senior American official in Kabul.
Over the next three years, however, as the American military and civilian presence — and spending — decrease, thousands of jobs will end for Afghans who work at or around bases and under grants and contracts financed by the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development.
Afghans and American civilian and military planners fear that the country will fall into an economic abyss, sending some Afghans back into the insurgency and deepening the poverty of people throughout the country.
“We’ve had remarkable achievements, but can they make up the gap with the hit from the withdrawal of the war economy? That would be a stretch,” said a senior United States official.
The number of American civilians working in the field and the amount of American spending are expected to plunge over the next three and a half years, with much of the shrinkage coming in 2013 and 2014, said American officials and diplomats in Kabul and the provinces.
The hope is that gradually the private sector will begin to create some jobs, but that possibility still seems to be years away.
The provincial reconstruction teams that set up projects and distribute grants in all 34 provinces will end their work by the end of 2014 and relocate to four urban centers: Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif, Kandahar and Jalalabad.
Civilian teams in the districts, which operate in many rural of Afghanistan’s rural areas, will leave as well, said a senior American official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to comment publicly on the delicate subject. At least two provincial reconstruction teams — in Panshir Province and Bamian Province — will end leave in the next six months.
Over the next three and a half years all programs and projects will be handled by teams based in the four urban areas, and their travel will be determined by the security situation, said United States officials in Kabul. While that is the expectation, the distances they would have to travel and the possibility that once NATO troops leave security will decline in some areas suggests that planners setting up development projects could be far more selective, officials said.
For instance, road building, which has been troubled by corruption and payoffs to security companies that often had links to insurgents, is winding down, but there will continue to be efforts to improve the supply of electricity. [why?]
Development spending, which was $4.2 billion in 2010 and was managed by the State Department and the Agency for International Development, has already declined to about $2.5 billion this year and is expected to stay at roughly that level in 2012, officials said this week in Kabul. But after that, spending is likely to decline further “as Afghanistan becomes a normal country,” a senior American official said. [why should they receive any aid money? Why should not American aid money go to any Muslim country, when we know what Islam is all about?]
Nearly 10 years after the NATO coalition entered the country, officials say that although there are hopeful signs among young Afghans who are working in areas like public health and education, only “a thin layer” of people have the potential to move the country forward.
Opium remains the most lucrative crop for Afghanistan’s farmers, meaning that despite enormous efforts and millions of dollars spent on alternative crop programs by both Britain and the United States to move farmers into other work, progress is “very slow,” said a senior United States official.
All future development plans are based on the assumption that Afghanistan will become more stable and that financing for U.S.A.I.D. projects and the State Department’s foreign aid programs will be “robust,” officials said. If that turns out to be wrong, all bets are off. [why should there be "robust" aid for Afghanistan? Afghanistan existed for centuries, mired in tribal and family violence, in primitive ways sanctioned -- indeed, required -- by Islam, and Afghans lived in their inshallah-fatalism and their poverty. Why should the American taxpayers be asked to relive Afghans of the results of living in a way that discourages, permanently, education for half the population and offers a religion-laded ducation, that discourages thought and encourages the habit of mental submission for all, that promotes an inshallah-fatalism and the cult of the razzia or raid as an economic model?
It should not even be dared to be mentioned, be dared to be thought of. We have spent a trillion dollars in Afghanistan. When Afghan soldiers accompany Americans, those Afghans joke and laugh and jump into rivers to swim, and ignore their duty to participate, and American soldiers have been reporting steadily on how they must risk their lives for Afghanistan while Afghan soldiers, almost to a man, do very little or nothing, and regard the whole thing as simply an amusing joke that they can observe.
Many soldiers come back with a deep loathing for the people of Afghanistan, and their ways.
Do you find reason to differ with them?
Do you think we should allow Afghanistan to expect that it can remain on the American dole?
Posted on 06/25/2011 8:45 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 25 June 2011
Netanyahu: Those Academic Studies For "Palestinian" Terrorists Are Over
Netanyahu: Israel to toughen conditions of Palestinian prisoners
Prime minister announces that Israel will stop giving benefits to terrorists such as enrollment in academic studies, says 'the celebration is over'; Noam Shalit responds to Netanyahu, expresses doubt Israel will manage to pressure Hamas to release Gilad.
By Barak Ravid
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Thursday that he plans on toughening the conditions of Palestinian security prisoners in Israel's prisons.
"I have decided to change Israel's treatment of terrorists sitting in prison," Netanyahu said during the closing statements at the Presidential Conference in Jerusalem. "We will give them all that they deserve according to international law but nothing beyond that."
Netanyahu said that he is required to respect Israeli law, international law, and international trust but nothing beyond that, so Israel is taking a series of steps to change prisoners' conditions.
"We will stop, among other things, the absurd practice in which terrorists who murdered innocent people enroll in academic studies. There will be no more 'doctors of terror' – the celebration is over."
Netanyahu's comments come after Hamas refused Thursday to answer the International Red Cross' request that the Gaza rulers provide proof that abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit is still alive.
Noam Shalit responded to Netanyahu's comments on Thursday, saying that he is doubtful that Israel will succeed in exerting pressure on Hamas after five years that it had failed to do so.
"We want to ask why Israeli governments had waited five years in which Gilad rotted in a Hamas prison?," Shalit demanded, and said he was pessimistic regarding Netanyahu's announcement.
Posted on 06/25/2011 9:22 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 25 June 2011
A Cinematic Interlude: Alastair Sim
Posted on 06/25/2011 9:35 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 25 June 2011
That Middle East Marketer For Google Has Had His 15 Minutes; Those Expecting More Will Be Greatly Disappointed
VOA reports on the vist a few weeks ago of Wael Ghonem to that by-now notorious exhibit, "1001 Inventions," which in its New York appearance was recognized, and discussed, as Islamic propaganda, by Edward Rothstein in his brilliant Times review which can be found here.
Neither the work of Toby Huff, nor that of Stanley Jaki, S.J., on how and why science developed in the West, and not elsewhere, appears to have crossed the desk of the enthusaistic Diane Perlov, quoted in the piece, and referred to as the director of a science center but apparently not a historian of the comparative development of science.
May 31, 2011
Egyptian Activist Celebrates Islamic Science and Modern Technology
Photo: VOA - M. O'Sullivan
Egyptian activist Wael Ghonim
An exhibit on scientific breakthroughs in the Muslim world has opened in Los Angeles, and a leading Egyptian activist stopped by for a preview. Called 1001 Inventions, the exhibition chronicles the Golden Age of science in the Islamic world from the 7th through the 17th centuries.
Egyptian activist Wael Ghonim, who used Internet social networking sites to help spark a revolution, says technology has an important role in his part of the world today.
The Western system of numbers was spread by way of Muslim mathematicians, one of many contributions of the medieval Islamic world, a civilization that stretched from Spain to China.
Egyptian high-tech executive Wael Ghonim, currently on leave from Google, stopped by the California Science Center for a look.
He was in the United States to accept the Profile in Courage Award, given by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. He accepted the award, at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, on behalf of the Egyptian people. [for what? for being teary-eyed? for being picked up by the Egyptian police? for making a speech in Tahrir Square? Is that quite enough? Does that compare to those who sit in prison, or like the lady in Burma, are held under house arrest, for ten years or more? Apparently the bar, for those participating in this ballyhooed "Arab Spring," has become belanfonteish limbo-dance low]
Ghonim helped launch the revolution that toppled President Hosni Mubarak after 18 days of protests early this year.
“Social media and Internet, technology in general, was very instrumental in sparking the revolution in Egypt, and that just shows that you can actually use technology for the good to do things that theoretically seemed in the past impossible," he said.
Ghonim says new technology was well adapted to Egypt, where person-to-person interactions are important. He says exchanges on sites like Facebook became a political tool for young Egyptians.
“They used that as a way to express their opinions, as a way to collaborate and organize themselves - just say no to injustice, torture, and corruption," he said.
The science center exhibit, shown earlier in London, Istanbul and New York, explains scientific advances in the Muslim world in such fields as medicine, where doctors were using modern-looking surgical instruments 1,000 years ago. Visitors learn about inventors like Abbas Ibn Firnas, who created a glider in the 9th century.
Educator Maurice Coles develops school curricula on this period, which he calls the first global age.
“You've got people of every faith, of every background, of almost every culture and color working to a shared end. And so when you look around the exhibition, you'll see Christians, you'll see, obviously, Muslims. There are Hindus, there's a group called Sabeans that no longer exist, and they coexisted wonderfully well for a long period of time," he said.
Costumed re-enactors bring these innovators to life and explain their inventions. Interactive displays show advances in fields like art and architecture.
This flowering of ideas came at a backward time in Europe, says the science center’s Diane Perlov.
“It really was a flourishing of the arts and sciences at a time in the Middle Ages when Europe was in [what] most consider the Dark Ages," she said.[she has not read "Those Terrible Middle Ages" by
In the recent Tahrir Square protests, Egyptians embraced Internet social sites and mobile phones with digital cameras.
"In a highly connected world, where technology is bridging all the gaps, we need to understand that we are all the same [[no, we are not[ and we have a lot in common, more than we have in differences.[this is the statement of a total naif, who is also defensive about, embarrassed about, Islam, and unwilling to think clearly about what Islam does to the minds of its adherents, and how Islam explains the many failures -- political, social, economic, moral, and intellectual, including the failrure to advance science -- observable in Muslim states and societies]. And that it's about time that we realize that. Everyone has a role to play in this world to get everyone closer to each other," Ghonim said.
And even if it does not usher in a new Golden Age, he says it will help the world get better.
Posted on 06/25/2011 8:39 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald