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These are all the Blogs posted on Monday, 25, 2011.
Monday, 25 July 2011
Breivik on the Utility of Religion

I've been reading Anders Breivik's manifesto and my initial impression is of a man desperately searching for something to believe in, but who is an extreme egoist utterly devoid of a spiritual dimension. He's intellectual, highly intelligent in fact, but completely without spiritual insight. He is the product of a broken home and so was without the steadying influence of a good father, which is something he clearly needed. After a long section in which he quotes extensively from the Old Testament to the effect that war and violence are justified in self defense, he writes the following:

I’m not going to pretend I’m a very religious person as that would be a lie. I’ve always

been very pragmatic and influenced by my secular surroundings and environment. In the

past, I remember I used to think;

“Religion is a crutch for weak people. What is the point in believing in a higher power if you

have confidence in yourself!? Pathetic.”

Perhaps this is true for many cases. Religion is a crutch for many weak people and many

embrace religion for self serving reasons as a source for drawing mental strength (to feed

their weak emotional state f example during illness, death, poverty etc.). Since I am not

a hypocrite, I’ll say directly that this is my agenda as well. However, I have not yet felt

the need to ask God for strength, yet... But I’m pretty sure I will pray to God as I’m

rushing through my city, guns blazing, with 100 armed system protectors pursuing me

with the intention to stop and/or kill. I know there is a 80%+ chance I am going to die

during the operation as I have no intention to surrender to them until I have completed

all three primary objectives AND the bonus mission. When I initiate (providing I haven’t

been apprehended before then), there is a 70% chance that I will complete the first

objective, 40% for the second , 20% for the third and less than 5% chance that I will be

able to complete the bonus mission. It is likely that I will pray to God for strength at one

point during that operation, as I think most people in that situation would.

I can’t possibly imagine how my state of mind will be during the time of the operation,

though. It will be during a steroid cycle and on top of that; during an ephedrine rush,

which will increase my aggressiveness, physical performance and mental focus with at

least 50-60% but possibly up to 100%. In addition, I will put my iPod on max volume as

a tool to suppress fear if needed. I might just put Lux Aeterna by Clint Mansell on repeat

as it is an incredibly powerful song. The combination of these factors (when added on top

of intense training, simulation, superior armour and weaponry) basically turns you into

an extremely focused and deadly force, a one-man-army. At the moment, I do not fear

death, but I am very concerned about being afraid on the day of the mission. I’m afraid

that the potential fear I might experience during the mission will paralyze me or will

result in me “crapping my pants” so to speak. Theoretically, this will not happen, as I

have grown to be extremely mentally disciplined and I have undergone numerous hours

of training and simulations. Nevertheless, it is impossible to properly simulate a

martyrdom operation so I am still somewhat concerned for my mental state during that

time.

If praying will act as an additional mental boost/soothing it is the pragmatical thing to do.

I guess I will find out... If there is a God I will be allowed to enter heaven as all other

martyrs for the Church in the past.

I am pursuing religion for this very reason and everyone else should as well, providing it

will give you a mental boost. There is no shame in praying minutes before your death. I

highly recommend that you, prior to the operation, visit a Church and perform the

Eucharist (Holy Communion/The Lord's Supper ). As we know, this ritual represents the

final meal that Jesus Christ shared with his disciples before his arrest and eventual

crucifixion. You should also solve any issues you might have with God and ask for

forgiveness for past sins. Finally, ask him to prepare for the arrival of a martyr for the

Church. A hardened atheist may think this is silly, but believe me when I say; you will be

extremely glad you did as soon as you realise you may actually die after the initiation of

your operation.

Sure, many deny God now. But when they're looking death in the face, when they're sick

or in an accident or staring down the barrel of a gun, they'll change their mind. They'll

beg for God then. There are no atheists in foxholes.

“Thought I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, thou art with me.”

King David

“I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in me though he were dead, yet shall

he live.”

Jesus of Nazareth

In times of extreme stress or fear, such as when participating in warfare or a martyrdom

operation, all people will believe in or hope for a higher power.

Pragmaticists or rationalistic minded individuals who are hardened atheists should

consider the following; it may be pragmatic to believe in an afterlife as it will make you a

more efficient soldier. The less fearfull a person is the more effective he will be as a

warrior. A person who believes that death is eternal is likely to be more fearful than an

individual who believes in an afterlife. And as we all know; fear is poison in combat and it

will cause confusion and hesitation. A spiritually confident individual, who does not fear

what awaits him, is less likely to fear death and will therefore act more confidently and

professionally in warfare. As such (and from a pragmatical viewpoint), religion is [not?] an

essential component in warfare but ESSENTIAL in martyrdom operations.

This is altogether the most depressing document I've ever read. This man/boy is spiritually lost and reaching for something to believe in and someone to become. He's hit upon the idea of "Christian martyr" without any real idea of what that term means. He talks about the Catholic Church, but very likely never attended. We haven't seen any evidence he was involved in a Christian community and I think it most likely he was not.

We can only pray for his victims and their families and hope that in the coming years, Breivik will come to understand what he has done and repent.

Posted on 07/25/2011 8:24 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 25 July 2011
Toddlers’ East End sports day marred by yobs

From The East London Advertiser. It doesn't describe the 'yobs' this time but there is an indication that they are the same gang that regularly hang around the churchyard  being a nuisance; further the report reminds us of an occasion when they were more than a nuisance and badly assaulted Canon Michael Ainsworth, the priest in charge.

Police were called eight times when youths disrupted a nursery school’s toddler sports day in church gardens in London’s East End smashing bottles and setting off fireworks. The yobs gather through the day in the grounds of St George-in-the-East parish church in Shadwell and taunt parents with foul abuse and threats in front of their children.

One mum was even robbed of her mobile phone last month, while there has also been an attempted mugging of a dad collecting his child.

But things came to a head when Greengables Montessori, which meets in the church crypt in The Highway, held its end-of-term toddlers’ sports day for 80 children and their parents in the church grounds. The yobs swore and hurled abuse, smashed bottles and set off fireworks—terrifying the children. Eight parents rang 999 during the half-hour melee.

“I am just raging by the whole thing,” nursery manager Grace Ivory told the East London Advertiser. “We had 300 people at our sports day including 80 toddlers when the youths turned up setting off fire-crackers which could have gone in direction of the children—it was all quite scary. Police said it would take an hour to get here. Of course the gang cleared off before they arrived.” Grace calls the Shadwell neighbourhood police “every other day from 9am onwards”—but says response is poor. 

St George’s has been troubled with yobs going back at least four years, when parish priest Michael Ainsworth was attacked in the church grounds. It led to calls by the East End’s Interfaith Forum for more police protection for vulnerable vicars and churches.

At that time the East London Advertiser reported thus :-

A DRUNKEN teenager who took part in a vicious gang attack on an Anglican clergyman has walked free from court.
Babul Islam, 19, was one of three Asian youths who assaulted Canon Michael Ainsworth in his churchyard at St George-in-the-East Church in Shadwell.
Father-of-four Mr Ainsworth, 57, spent 12 days in hospital after he was kicked and punched in the head in what was described at the time as a "faith-hate" attack on March 5 this year.
It was claimed one of the yobs shouted "f***ing priest" during the attack which only stopped when another group of youths intervened and helped him home.
 
And thus:-
THE East London Advertiser today launches a campaign to improve security and protect the heritage of churchyards in the East End.
Our move comes after the brutal assault on Canon Michael Ainsworth who was kicked and punched as he went to tell youths to be quiet in a passageway by his St George-in-the-East parish church in Shadwell in March 5.
That attack highlighted a sorry lack of security at church properties, many of which have faced regular vandalism and become magnets for bored antisocial youths. Gravestones at St Dunstan's church just a mile away in Stepney are regularly daubed in graffiti and other buildings have had windows smashed.
Too often, religious leaders said last week, vandalism against churches was treated as just that, 'vandalism', but similar graffiti on mosque properties is treated as 'faith hate crime'.
There is a feeling among many that the authorities treat churches with less importance.
 
And the Sunday Times thus:-
The attack at the 18th-century St George in the East Church in Stepney follows a number of apparently anti-Christian attacks in recent months in the same area. . . Allan Ramanoop, a member of the parochial church council, said: “On one occasion, youths shouted: ‘This should not be a church, this should be a mosque, you should not be here’. The youths are anti-Christian. It’s terrible what they have done to Canon Ainsworth.
 
But the new Bishop of Stepney will not join the dots. 
Posted on 07/25/2011 10:28 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 25 July 2011
Protecting War Criminal Alois Brunner, Of Berlin And Damascus

Germany destroyed papers about wanted Nazi Brunner'



 

Foreign intelligence agency reportedly shredded documents on Eichmann deputy, fueling speculation senior German officials were protecting him.

 
Posted on 07/25/2011 10:45 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 25 July 2011
Mark Steyn: Breivik, "Lost In His Own Psychoses"

From The Corner:

Islamophobia and Mass Murder

July 25, 2011
 

I have been away from the Internet for the weekend, and return to find myself being fitted out for a supporting role in Friday’s evil slaughter in Norway. The mass murderer Breivik published a 1,500-page “manifesto.” It quotes me, as well as several friends of NR — Theodore Dalrymple, Daniel Pipes, Roger Scruton, Melanie Phillips, Daniel Hannan (plus various pieces from NR by Rod Dreher and others) — and many other people, including Churchill, Gandhi, Orwell, Jefferson, John Locke, Edmund Burke, Bernard Shaw, Mark Twain, not to mention the U.S. Declaration of Independence.* Those new “hate speech” codes the Left is already clamoring for might find it easier just to list the authors Europeans will still be allowed to read.

It is unclear how seriously this “manifesto” should be taken. Parts of it simply cut and paste chunks of the last big killer “manifesto” by Ted Kaczynski, with the occasional [insert-your-cause-here] word substitute replacing the Unabomber’s obsessions with Breivik’s. This would seem an odd technique to use for a sincerely meant political statement. The entire document is strangely anglocentric – in among the citations of NR and The Washington Times, there’s not a lot about Norway.

Nevertheless, Breivik’s manifesto seems to be determining the narrative in the anglophone media. The opening sentence from USA Today:

Islamophobia has reached a mass murder level in Norway as the confessed killer claims he sought to combat encroachment by Muslims into his country and Europe.

So, if a blonde blue-eyed Aryan Scandinavian kills dozens of other blonde blue-eyed Aryan Scandinavians, that’s now an “Islamophobic” mass murder? As far as we know, not a single Muslim was among the victims. Islamophobia seems an eccentric perspective to apply to this atrocity, and comes close to making the actual dead mere bit players in their own murder. Yet the Associated Press is on board:

Security Beefed Up At UK Mosques After Norway Massacre.

But again: No mosque was targeted in Norway. A member of the country’s second political party gunned down members of its first. But, in the merest evolution of post-9/11 syndrome, Muslims are now the preferred victims even in a story in which they are entirely absent. A Tweeter thinks that “turning this scumbag’s atrocity in Norway into a lesson about how Mark Steyn and his ilk are douchebags seems… opportunistic,” but that’s the least of it. Even by the elastic definitions of “Islamophobia,” the angle being pursued is bizarre and profoundly tasteless: A rambling Internet pdf is trumping the facts on the ground — trumping the specifics of what occurred, and the victims. This man Breivik may think he’s making history and bestriding the geopolitical currents and the clash of civilizations, but in the end he went and shot up his neighbors. Why let his self-aggrandizing bury the reality?

Any of us who write are obliged to weigh our words, and accept the consequences of them. But, when a Norwegian man is citing Locke and Burke as a prelude to gunning down dozens of Norwegian teenagers, he is lost in his own psychoses. Free societies can survive the occasional Breivik. If Norway responds to this as the Left appears to wish, by shriveling even further the bounds of public discourse, freedom will have a tougher time.

Posted on 07/25/2011 12:00 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 25 July 2011
Bledsoe/Muhammad Sentenced to Life

Prosecutors took the death penalty off the table, allowing him to plead guilty. Forbes:

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- A man who confessed to shooting two soldiers outside a military recruiting station in Arkansas struck a plea deal with prosecutors Monday to avoid the death penalty.

Abdulhakim Muhammad pleaded guilty in the middle of his trial to capital murder and attempted capital murder charges. Pulaski County Judge Herbert Wright then sentenced Muhammad to life in prison without parole for capital murder, with additional time for the remaining charges against him.

Prosecutors had to withdraw the death penalty for Muhammad to plead guilty to capital murder. Arkansas law requires a defendant to be tried if lethal injection is a sentencing option.

Muhammad had tried to plead guilty to capital murder during pre-trial proceedings, but he couldn't do that with prosecutors seeking the death penalty.

Muhammad was charged with the killing of Army Pvt. William Andrew Long. He also was charged with attempted capital murder for wounding Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula in 2009.

He confessed to the shootings in phone calls to The Associated Press, and also admitted his deeds to the judge overseeing his case and to authorities. Muhammad said he was acting in retribution for the deaths of Muslims in U.S. military action in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Posted on 07/25/2011 2:22 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 25 July 2011
Turkey And Iran

The Ottoman Empire and the Persian Empire never did hit it off.

From www.atimes.com:

Middle East
     Jul 26, 2011
 

 

 


Iran draws the line with Turkey on Syria
By Kaveh L Afrasiabi

In a sign of growing Iranian misgiving about Turkey's role in Middle Eastern affairs, Tehran has decided to throw its weight behind the embattled Syrian regime, even if that translates into a setback in relations between Tehran and Ankara.

Iran's move is bound to represent a new thorn in ties, with multiple potential side-effects, since it comes at a delicate time when Turkey is pressuring Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his government to adopt meaningful reforms and to give legitimacy to the Syrian opposition, which has repeatedly held meetings in Turkey.

Over the weekend, Tehran hosted Syrian Oil Minister Sufian Alaw for the signing of a major trilateral Iran-Iraq-Syria gas deal worth

 
 
billions of dollars, while showering the Assad regime with unconditional praise as the "vanguard of resistance" that was subjected to psychological warfare and Western-Zionist conspiracy.

Articulating Iran's steadfast support for its key Arab ally, Iranian first Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi used his meeting with Alaw to expel the slightest doubt about Iran's stance on Syria, by stating that "Iran and Syria are two inseparable countries and allies, and Iran will stand by its friend and Muslim [neighboring] country, Syria, under all circumstances".

In sharp contrast to Turkey's support for the Syrian opposition, Rahimi dismissed the current unrest in Syria as "guided by arrogant powers and the meddling of enemies".

Behind Iran's new Syria move is a calculated gamble that contrary to some Western perceptions, the Assad regime is not completely isolated and still enjoys a considerable mass following. This is reflected in huge pro-government rallies consistently ignored by the Western media, and that with sufficient internal and regional support, Damascus could survive and ride out the current storm.

Assad has been unable to crush the uprising despite a crackdown against ant-government protests in which activists say more than 1,600 people have been killed since mid-March.

A clue to the "new Iranian thinking" on the crisis in Syria and its regional implications emerged in a recent issue of Sobhe Sadegh, the weekly publication of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), written by Reza Garmabehry, that in unmistakable language warned that if Iran had to choose between Turkey and Syria, it would choose Syria. Titled "Iran's serious position vis-a-vis the events in Syria", the article implicitly criticized Turkey for serving Western and Zionist interests by siding with the opposition and thus weakening the regime in Syria.

Simultaneously, the IRGC has demonstrated Iran's hard power by conducting a successful counter-insurgency military campaign resulting in its incursion inside Iraqi territory in hot pursuit of a Kurdish armed group known as PJAK (Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan). This is a fresh reminder to Turkey of Iran's stability role with respect to the Kurdish problem besetting Ankara, in light of Iran's considerable clout in Iraq.

This coincides with a new Iranian naval strategy that focuses on "out of area" missions for the navy in "open waters" and with access to foreign ports such as in Syria (see Iran on new voyage of discovery Asia Times Online, February 24, 2011).

According to some Tehran analysts, Iran hopes that Turkey will adjust its Syria policy and rethink its stinging criticisms of the Assad regime.

If this does not happen and the policy contrasts between Iran and Turkey over Syria grow sharper, then we may witness a cooling period between Tehran and Ankara. Turkey is seeking a leading role in the deadlocked Middle East peace process, in light of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's planned visit of besieged Gaza, Ankara's hosting a Palestinian summit and reports of Turkey's intention to play a leading role in the upcoming United Nations debates on Palestinian statehood in September.

Much as Iran and Turkey may cooperate at the UN level on the Palestinian issue, given that Turkey-Israel strategic relations have remained essentially untouched by various negative developments, such as the murder of nine Turkish citizens on a Gaza-bound ship by Israeli commandos, Tehran continues to view with suspicion some of Turkey's regional moves that may come at Iran's expense.

Erdogan's three conditions for normalizing relations with Israel - an apology, compensation to the victims and the lifting of the Gaza siege - are considered rather lenient by Tehran, which would like to see the conditions widened to encompass the return of Arab lands, including the Golan Heights.

Assuming the Syria crisis lingers - which would mean more Syrian refugees in Turkey - the pressure on Ankara will likely increase and thus force Ankara to look to Iran for influencing Damascus. After all, contagion from Syria, as compared to Iran's distance from Syria, represents a minus for Turkey at the moment that adds to its vulnerability.

Playing hardball with Ankara, Tehran's new determination to stand behind Damascus no matter what in effect confronts Ankara with tough choices: ie, either continue with the current position tilted in favor of the Syrian opposition, and thus earn a substantial setback in relations with Iran, or emulate Iran and refrain from the hard push for reform inside Syria, and thus avoid a broadening of the arc of crisis engulfing Turkey's regional context.

According to Bahram Amirahmadian, a Tehran analyst who says Ankara has been exploiting "weak Iranian diplomacy", a more robust Iranian diplomacy is called for to avoid lagging behind Turkey in Middle East affairs. Apparently, the above-mentioned IRGC initiative is intended to address this issue, through a combination of soft and hard power that includes the carrot of economic (energy) incentives in league with Baghdad.

Thus, it is not simply Iran but rather the triumvirate of Iran-Iraq-Syria that Turkey, a North Atlantic Treaty Organization member, has to reckon with.

 

Posted on 07/25/2011 3:58 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 25 July 2011
O For God's Sake -- We Knew That

 

"Time Travel is Impossible, Scientists Say"

Posted on 07/25/2011 4:02 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 25 July 2011
A Cinematic Musical Interlude: Love Is Strange (from "Lipstick On Your Collar")

Watch, and listen, here.

Posted on 07/25/2011 4:06 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 25 July 2011
The "Arab Spring," Political Instability, And The Egyptian Economy

From The Vancouver Sun:

Egypt, still in turmoil, loses billions as tourists stay away

 
 
 
 

A shop owner looks out for customers in the Coptic area in Cairo, Egypt.

 

A shop owner looks out for customers in the Coptic area in Cairo, Egypt.

 

CAIRO - Egyptian tourism officials say the country had lost more than $2.6 billion by the end of June because of the upheaval surrounding former President Hosni Mubarak’s resignation and ongoing protests against the interim military government.

The Tourism Ministry says a lack of security and reports of violence topped the reasons that tourists cancelled trips to Egypt this year or chose other countries in which to spend their holidays.

Hotel and tour operators say it isn’t just Americans and Europeans who are forgoing trips to Egypt. The capital, Cairo, known as "sin city" to Persian Gulf Arabs, isn’t swarming with oil-rich visitors for the first time since 1997, when an attack by Islamist militants on a busload of tourists who were visiting the ancient southern city of Luxor left 58 foreigners dead and caused a sharp decline in tourism.

"This summer season, which is considered a high season for Arab tourism, is totally destroyed," said Ghada Abdel Khalek, the marketing director at the Marriott Cairo Hotel, a favourite among well-heeled tourists.

Tourists "have other options, countries that are politically stable and they view as safer than Egypt," he said. "Our branches in Turkey, London and Paris are fully booked."

Tourism was a $12.5 billion industry for Egypt last year, with the Great Pyramids, Luxor and other attractions drawing millions of visitors. But at the beginning in January of the violent revolution that toppled Mubarak’s regime, 1 million tourists fled the country in just three days.

Officials had hoped that Mubarak’s resignation in February would restore stability to the biggest country in the Middle East. But thousands of protesters, impatient with the reforms enacted by the ruling military, have returned to the streets of Cairo and elsewhere in Egypt, occasionally clashing with soldiers.

Since the revolution, when police disappeared from the streets, there’s been no sign of an active police force. Residents of Cairo report an increase in crime, even in usually safe, upscale neighborhoods.

Tourism officials say that hotels on the Red Sea, a popular summertime vacation spot far removed from the unrest, are operating only at about 40 to 45 percent of capacity. In Cairo, the figure is barely 35 percent.

"Tourists are afraid of the instability, and it’s hard for them to understand that what happens in Cairo and major political centers is not affecting other tourist destinations," said Hisham Za’zou, the deputy tourism minister.

One recent afternoon, at a multimillion-dollar tourist bazaar adjacent to the Pyramids in Giza, south of Cairo, only two foreigners were browsing at an antiques shop that sells replicas of Pharaonic masks, jewelry and other pieces from the famed Egyptian Museum.

"Those are the only customers we received in May, June and the first half of July," complained Ahmed Ali, a co-owner of the shop.

"The police force has to start fully operating. No tourist will come to Egypt if they hear of crimes, bloody confrontations between police and protesters, and different forms of political instability."

The Tourism Ministry has asked the ruling military council to approve a measure that exempts some incoming tourists from having to obtain tourist visas, in order "to encourage them to visit Egypt," Za’zou said. He declined to specify which nationalities would be exempted under the measure, which is still under consideration.

At the same time, some foreigners who live in Egypt say the government has denied dozens of tourist-visa extensions in recent weeks as immigration officials try to crack down on "resident tourists," foreigners who live and work in the country while on tourist visas, in violation of immigration laws.

The immigration department also has been roiled with problems. It’s part of the Interior Ministry, which is undergoing a major reorganization as it lays off hundreds of officials in response to public anger over the killings of protesters by police during the revolution.

Dropping prices at hotels and other tourist facilities failed to bring back many of the visitors who fled. Tourism officials said it wasn’t a matter of price, it was the general instability.

"Offering such discounts is actually harmful to the business. It will be very difficult to bring the prices back to normal," said Abdel Khalek, of the Cairo Marriott.

The political uncertainty doesn’t figure to end soon: The military council said last week that the first post-revolution parliamentary elections wouldn’t be in September as scheduled, but that it would announce the date for the elections by that time.

Ali, the antiques shop owner, said: "We don’t expect any real tourism before next winter, after a government comes into office and a president is elected."

Posted on 07/25/2011 5:34 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 25 July 2011
What Simple Truths Provoke "Palestinian" Saeb Erekat To Hysteria

From CAMERA:

Ayalon Video Sparks Furious Reaction by Palestinians

erekat.jpg
Saeb Erekat

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon's video explaining the origin and inaccuracy of the terms "West Bank", "occupied territories" and "67 Borders" has sparked an enraged reaction by Palestinians. In a somewhat hysterical sounding press release, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat expressed the Palestinian leadership's "shock" and outrage over the video, and stated that

With this video, the Israeli government has left no doubt on its pro-conflict agenda. Now, the international community knows the Israeli government is committed to denying the Palestinian people their inalienable right to self-determination and on continuing their illegal and colonial enterprise in the occupied Palestinian territory.

He called on the international community to

to demand an official explanation from the Government of Israel regarding this video, which openly expresses hostility towards the Palestinian people and their legitimate national rights to independence and self-determination.

For his part, politician Danny Ayalon reacted to the Palestinian press release by pointing to what he called Erekat's false claims and asserting that

For too long the Palestinian narrative of international law and rights has gone unchallenged, and this over the top reaction to a public diplomacy video proves that they are acting like spoilt children who have had their way for too long.

 

Posted on 07/25/2011 7:28 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 25 July 2011
Caroline Glick On A Continuing Israeli Error

From The Jerusalem Post:

Squandering Israel's limited influence

July 25, 2011
           
 
Palestinian army heil hitler.jpg
The past month has been a difficult one for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for the Palestinians (UNRWA). First Palestinians in Hamas-controlled Gaza held mass protests against the agency's attempt to change its name to the United Nations Agency for Palestinian Refugees. Conspiracy theories claimed the name change was part of a secret plan to end the Palestinians' refugee status so as to block their demand to "return" to Israel.
 
UNRWA officials explained repeatedly to the public and to Hamas terror masters that this was not the case. The agency's devotion to the cause of "return" remained unchanged. The name change was just a bid to streamline their website to mark the agency's 60th anniversary.
 
But to no avail. Within days, the name change was canceled.
 
But that didn't end UNRWA's problems. Last week, demonstrators returned to protest against the agency, this time for its cutbacks in benefits. Protesters blocked the entrance to UNRWA's offices and generally frightened its employees.
 
In response to the protests, UNRWA's spokesman Chris Gunness gave an interview to the Palestinian Ma'an news agency. His clear goal was to shift the blame away from UNRWA for the unpopular policies. First Gunness criticized UNRWA's donor countries. They have not answered UNRWA's call for hundreds of millions of extra aid dollars to UNRWA - whose annual budget is in excess of $1 billion.
 
Then Gunness shifted the blame to UNRWA's favorite bogeyman: Israel.
 
Israel, he claimed, is responsible for all of Gaza's economic woes because of its lawful maritime blockade of the Hamas-ruled territory's coastline. Gunness ignored the fact that despite that lawful blockade, which he falsely labeled "a clear breach of international law," Gaza has experienced overall economic growth in recent years. Its markets are full. It suffers no blockade-induced shortages in basic goods.
 
As he put it, "From UNRWA's point of view, it would be better for those states and organizations with the power to bring the necessary pressures to bear [on Israel] to end the collective punishment rather than pay UNRWA to deal with its disastrous impact."
 
THE PALESTINIAN protests against UNRWA demonstrate very clearly that from the Palestinians' perspective, UNRWA's job is to give them cash handouts in order to enable them to continue waging their war for Israel's destruction. And as UNRWA's quick capitulation to their protests against its name change, and its bid to blame their purported suffering on Israel make clear, UNRWA shares their perspective on what its role is in Palestinian society.
 
This state of affairs is not new. And in large part, it is UNRWA's consistent support for the Palestinian war against Israel that informed the US House Foreign Relations Committee's welcome decision last week to cut US foreign assistance to international organizations - including the UN - by 25 percent.
 
The US is UNRWA's largest donor. Its contributions to the agency have doubled since Hamas took over Gaza in 2007. In 2009, the US contributed $268 million in US taxpayer funds to the agency. The amount accounted for 27% of UNRWA's total budget.
 
 
 UNRWA, with its role of UN enabler for the Palestinian war against Israel, was not the only target of the committee's foreign aid budget bill. Egypt, Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority, Yemen and Pakistan are also targeted.
 
The Foreign Relations Committee bill prohibits further security assistance to Egypt until after the president certifies that it is not directly or indirectly controlled by a terrorist organization; is fully implementing its peace treaty with Israel; and is actively destroying smuggling tunnels along its border with Israel.
 
The bill likewise prohibits further security assistance to Lebanon until the president certifies that no members of Hezbollah hold positions in any governmental agency or outlet.
 
Finally it prohibits security assistance to the PA until the president certifies that no member of Hamas holds any policy position in any governmental office or outlet; that the PA is dismantling extremist infrastructure in Gaza and Judea and Samaria; that the PA has halted anti-Israel incitement; and that the PA recognizes Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state.
 
As committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen told The Jerusalem Post last week, "Basically, if Hamas, Hezbollah, other foreign terrorist organizations or violent extremist groups hold policy positions in their respective governments, they are not to receive US assistance."
 
The bill is a clear demonstration of the depth of support for Israel among members of the House of Representatives.
 
It is also a clear demonstration of the depth of concern House members harbor regarding Obama's policies towards Israel and the wider Middle East.
 
SINCE TAKING office, Obama has refused to accept the positions put forward by his predecessor George W. Bush regarding Israel's final borders and the Palestinian demand to overrun Israel with UN-financed "refugees."
 
Those positions were codified in Bush's 2004 letter to then-prime minister Ariel Sharon.
 
Bush's letter stated that the US would not support an Israeli withdrawal to the 1949 armistice lines; would not support the uprooting of all the Israeli communities built outside those lines; and rejected the Palestinian demand for the so-called "right of return" of millions of foreign born, UNRWA-supported Arabs to Israel.
 
The House bill codifies Bush's letter as US law. It also requires the State Department to report to Congress on steps it is taking to fight the delegitimization campaign against Israel. It ends the presidential waiver for moving the US embassy to Jerusalem in 2014. It requires the State Department to list Jerusalem as part of Israel on official US documents.
 
The House bill has a long road to travel before it becomes US law. Chances that it will pass as written are slight, and not merely because Obama would likely veto it if it came to his desk.
 
The first obstacle it faces is in the Democrat-controlled Senate. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is led by Senator John Kerry. Kerry is no friend of Israel's. And he is a passionate supporter of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad.
 
He visited Hamas-controlled Gaza in February 2009.
 
In his current position, Kerry has served as a surrogate for Obama on Middle East issues. As early as March 2009, Kerry was calling for Israel to transfer control over Gaza's international borders to Hamas terrorists. He was also demanding that Israel bar Jews from building in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. Kerry has been an outspoken opponent of action against Iran's illicit nuclear installations.
 
He has acted as an apologist for Assad's illicit nuclear proliferation. He has also been a friendly visitor to Hezbollah/Iran-controlled Lebanon.
 
Given Kerry's positions, there is no chance that he will approve the House's bill.
 
But in opposing the bill, Kerry and his fellow Democrats will reportedly be ably assisted by Israel. Last week, the Post reported that the Democrats justify maintaining US support for the PA by arguing that they are simply doing the bidding of the Israeli government.
 
And speaking to the Post, an Israeli official said, "We are interested in the Palestinian Authority maintaining law and order, and strengthening their security forces and prospering. If there's no change with Hamas and Fatah [in terms of Hamas participation in a unity government], there's no reason to change the current situation."
 
Other media reports have claimed that the IDF General Staff opposes ending US assistance to the PA.
 
Moreover, in the past, Israeli leaders - first and foremost former foreign minister Tzipi Livni - have been outspoken supporters of US financial assistance to UNRWA.
 
Indeed, members of Congress note that if it weren't for Israeli objections, they would have ended US financial support for UNRWA years ago.
 
It is hard to see what Israeli interest is served by these positions. And it is even more difficult to understand how it serves the country's interest to use any of its leverage in the US Congress to lobby for the Palestinians or UNRWA.
 
To a large degree, these positions are the consequence of the failure and basic irrelevance of Israel's public discourse.
 
Controlled by the political Left, the public debate in Israel has never allowed the basic assumptions of the failed Oslo peace process with the PLO to be questioned.
 
Among other things, those assumptions include the view that for Israel to garner international support, it needs to be perceived as pro-peace by the international community.
 
And that assumed requirement has made it necessary for Israeli diplomats and policymakers to cleave to the discredited position that the Palestinians are interested in peace and should therefore be supported by the US specifically and by the international community generally.
 
In 1993, the embassy in Washington began lobbying Congress to approve hundreds of millions of dollars in assistance to the PA. And because the ideological and policy assumptions of the Oslo process have never been scrutinized despite the policy's abject failure, apparently, this remains the underlying policy assumption of the Foreign Ministry in its dealings with foreign governments, including the US Congress.
 
The IDF's support for the PA is not an indication of the PA's strategic value to Israel. Rather it is reflective of the army's confusion about its role.
 
US-trained and -financed PA security forces took lead roles in the Palestinian terror war against Israel from 2000 to 2004. IDF field commanders have no confidence that the new Palestinian US-trained forces deployed in Judea and Samaria will stand with Israel against their terrorist brethren in a future conflict. Indeed, several have expressed confidence that in a future conflict, these UStrained forces will again lead the fighting against Israel.
 
The IDF is likely defending US funding to these enemy forces because its commanders fear that if the PA collapses due to a lack of US funding, the IDF will be called on to perform its law and order functions. But again, this view is in large part the consequence of the absence of an informed public debate about Israel's policy option in light of the failure of the Oslo process.
 
If the PA collapses, the option of reverting to Israel's military rule of the areas is not Israel's only option. Israel can also apply Israeli law to Judea and Samaria. The police can take up the law and order functions carried out by the PA today. And the IDF can concentrate on war fighting.
 
The fact of the matter is that contrary to what the antisemites claim, Israel does not control the US Congress.
 
And what Israel says has limited impact on lawmakers.
 
Democrats who cite official Israeli support for aid to the Palestinians as the justification for their support of such aid are quick to ignore Israel's positions when it comes to moving the US embassy to Jerusalem and supporting Jewish property rights in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.
 
But Israel does have some leverage on Capitol Hill. And it should be using all of it to build support for attacking Iran's nuclear installations and defending and strengthening Israel's ability and sovereign right to defend itself.
 
Israel certainly should not be expending any of its limited influence to maintain US support for the Palestinians or UNRWA.
 
Posted on 07/25/2011 7:39 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 25 July 2011
Jacques Brotchi Resigns From Free University Of Brussels
 

The Edge of Hate

 

Distinguished Senator Resigns from Belgian University board over Anti-Semitic Incidents

July 19th 2011
Jewish Topics - Jacques Brotchi
Jacques Brotchi

After denouncing several grave anti-Semitic incidents at the Free University of Brussels (ULB), Dr. Jacques Brotchi – a member of Belgium’s Senate and an internationally renowned neurosurgeon – resigned from the UCB board. Brotchi, who also holds an honorary professorship at the Brussels-based institution, told EJP on-line news "I resigned from the Board of the University Foundation which collects funds for research because I deeply deplored the absence of a strong and appropriate reaction from the university authorities to a succession of anti-Semitic incidents."

In his May 5 letter of resignation, Brotchi wrote, "I don’t feel at home anymore at ULB." He added, "I asked if the university of free-examination has not become the university of free anti-Semitism." Brotchi said he is saddened by the lack of an adequate response on the part of the university. He likened the current climate to the years just prior to the Second World War when Nazi Germany was just beginning the Holocaust.

The incidents came about during public discussion over Israel. Belgian Senate voted last week on a resolution tabled by the Socialists urging the Belgian government to recognize a Palestinian state. Jacques Brotchi and two other Senators from the Liberal party abstained. "We abstained because the resolution doesn't condemn the political objective of Hamas which is to destroy the state of Israel", Brotchi explained.

After denouncing several grave anti-Semitic incidents at the Free University of Brussels (ULB), Dr. Jacques Brotchi – a member of Belgium’s Senate and an internationally renowned neurosurgeon – resigned from the UCB board.  Brotchi, who also holds an honorary professorship at the Brussels-based institution, told EJP on-line news "I resigned from the Board of the University Foundation which collects funds for research because I deeply deplored the absence of a strong and appropriate reaction from the university authorities to a succession of anti-Semitic incidents."  In his May 5 letter of resignation, Brotchi wrote, "I don’t feel at home anymore at ULB." He added, "I asked if the university of free-examination has not become the university of free anti-Semitism."  Brotchi said he is saddened by the lack of an adequate response on the part of the university.

The incidents came about during public discussion over Israel. Belgian Senate voted last week on a resolution tabled by the Socialists urging the Belgian government to recognize a Palestinian state. Jacques Brotchi and two other Senators from the Liberal party abstained. "We abstained because the resolution doesn't condemn the political objective of Hamas which is to destroy the state of Israel", Brotchi explained.

The incidents to which Brotchi referred  included the staging of an Israeli military checkpoint on the university campus, the invitation of anti-Semitic French comic Dieudonne to a conference and the absence of reaction to the comments he made, a Nazi-style student feast and the publication of an article in the magazine of Solvay, the economics and management school, which used anti-Semitic stereotypes and prejudices comparable to those of the infamous hoax known as The Protocols of Elders of Zion.

As one student put it, "the situation at the university has become particularly difficult for Jews." The association of Jewish students has condemned the incidents. The Union of Jewish Students also urged the academic authorities to take measures against the "deteriorating climate" on the campus.  Brotchi, has met with university authorities to explain his resignation, but said that they do not appear to appreciate the gravity of the offenses. "I explained them that I know Jewish families who prefer to send their children study at UCL (Catholic University of Louvain)," he said in an interview. ULB rector Didier Viviers flatly denied in a June 2011 interview that his university has become anti-Semitic "because of  several regrettable incidents," and spoke of a "smear campaign."

According to Brotchi the situation at ULB is not isolated but of a piece with universities elsewhere in Europe.  "It is comparable to what is happening in other universities in Europe and elsewhere with the academic boycott of Israel campaigns where anti-Zionism takes the form of anti-Semitism."  "But this is no reason to stay without reaction," he added. Said the distinguished Brotchi, "In addition to students’ actions, I denounce that anti-Semitic leaflets were distributed at the entrance of a conference given by Stéphane Hessel at the university." 

Brotchi acknowledged that while the majority of the university may not be actively anti-Semitic, there is an active anti-Semitic minority.  Speaking on television, Brotchi said "We must learn to live together, we're in a multicultural society, and I think we have a respect for the other."


 

 

Posted on 07/25/2011 7:44 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 25 July 2011
Every Year Kuwait Takes In Hundreds Of Billions Of Dollars Without Lifting A Finger; "Generous" Kuwaiti Ruler Will Donate $1 Million To Starving Somalis

From Gulf News:

Kuwait Emir donates $1 million to help Somalia

A combination of drought and rising food prices has struck parts of East Africa and affected millions of people

  • By Habib Toumi, Bahrain Bureau Chief
  •  July 25, 2011

Manama: Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, the Emir of Kuwait, has donated $1 million, marking the opening of a donations campaign to aid drought-stricken victims in Somalia, a senior official said on Monday.

Abdullah Al Maatouq, the President of the International Islamic Charitable Organisation (IICO), said that the generous donation [why wasn't it a billion? He'd never miss it, nor would Kuwait, whose treasury he controls]] from the Emir was a strong boost to the efforts of the organisation.

"HH the Emir has stressed his commitment to alleviate the severe suffering of the people of Somalia and his confirmation of the importance of providing them with the necessary support and emergency relief to avoid more victims," he said, quoted by Kuwait News Agency (Kuna).

"HH the Emir has directed the IICO to organise a public campaign in coordination with similar organisations and charities in Kuwait to collect donations for the benefit of the victims in Somalia who suffer from severe drought."

A crisis, a combination of drought and rising food prices, has struck parts of East Africa and affected millions of people.

Posted on 07/25/2011 8:13 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 25 July 2011
Jihad In Nigeria Still Largely Escapes World's Attention

July 25, 2011

 INTERNATIONAL   

Churches in Nigeria Shuttered, Reduced with Uptick in Terrorism

 

 
Posted on 07/25/2011 8:21 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 25 July 2011
A Musical Interlude: My Very Good Friend The Milkman (Fats Waller)

Listen here.

Posted on 07/25/2011 8:24 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 25 July 2011
Uday Hussein Ready For His Closeup -- And So Are Dozens Of Others Still Ruling Arab Countries

Devil's Double' Offers Unsavory Iraq View

 

 

Two hours with Saddam Hussein's psychotic, bloodthirsty butcher of a son. Now there's some true counterprogramming to the big, splashy summer fare out of Hollywood.

"The Devil's Double" presents two excellent performances from British actor Dominic Cooper as unhinged party boy and all-around nut job Uday Hussein, along with the body double he uses to thwart assassins.

As grand and showy as Cooper is, the characters and action are so unsavory — even sickening, at times — that you really need to be sure you're up for a peek into Saddam's inner circle of crooks and monsters before laying your money down.

Director Lee Tamahori ("Die Another Day") lays on the savagery relentlessly, from revolting sexual abuse of women to nauseating slaughter. It all offers a vivid glimpse of the world of Iraq's former elite, but not so much the people, who come off as one-dimensional thugs in a gory gangster flick intent only on their own pleasure and profit, with little insight into who they are and how they got into a position to plunder a country silly.

Into this "Caligula"-meets-"Scarface" world comes the honorable Latif Yahia, a soldier in Iraq's war with Iran who is summoned to Baghdad in 1987 by Uday, an old schoolmate who recalls their remarkable resemblance and graciously asks him to be his double. Then, after Latif declines, not so graciously.

null
AP
In this publicity image released by Lionsgate, Dominic Cooper is shown in a scene from "The Devil's Double." (AP Photo/Lionsgate, Sofie Van Mieghem)
 

Cooper's Uday is a shrill, grinning, coke-addled rabid dog who won't take no for an answer and has every means — from torture, imprisonment and threats against family members — to get his way. So Cooper's steady-handed, reserved Latif relents and begins his physical transformation, through prosthetics and plastic surgery, and spiritual indoctrination, through "Pygmalion"-like coaching and viewing of Uday's torture-porn tendencies on video, as a stand-in for Saddam's eldest son and heir.

"The Devil's Double" was adapted by screenwriter Michael Thomas from Latif's memoir, though the filmmakers take liberties to heighten the conflict between Uday and Latif and its eventual outcome.

Though Cooper interacts with actors playing Saddam and his own double, plus others in the family's entourage, the movie would be mainly Cooper in a one-man, two-character show if not for Ludivine Sagnier as Sarrab, one of Uday's mistresses who winds up drawn to Latif.

Their tender moments together aren't all that interesting, but they do provide a breather from the carnage and cruelty that Tamahori piles on to show us what a depraved animal Uday is. The barbarity is so thick, you'll appreciate those breathers, which come too rarely between repetitive, almost smothering sequences that show Uday as a booze, drug, sex and violence fiend.

Cooper has done such a good job bringing Uday to life, it's a bit of a trial simply sitting in the audience and watching. He's not a fascinating portrait of evil, such as Bruno Ganz's Adolf Hitler in "Downfall" or Forest Whitaker's Idi Amin in "The Last King of Scotland." This is a creature, a ranting beast, one you can't wait to see put down.

What is fascinating, at least fleetingly, is the inside look the movie offers of Iraq as U.S. forces move in to liberate Kuwait after Saddam's invasion. But that passes quickly, and soon the movie is back to stomach-churning mode.

Bring your antacids.

Posted on 07/25/2011 8:29 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 25 July 2011
A Life For The Tsar, Or The Shah, Or Someone

Back in late 1978, I was on a bus to Boston with about twenty Iranian military cadets who were returning  to Iran from a stay at Norwich University in Vermont. The troubles had already started in Iran. But as several of them assured me -- I was the only non-Iranian, I believe, on that bus -- they stood solidly "with the Shah," would fight "to the end for the Shah," would "all -- all of us, not just on the bus but all of us back in Iran, too, give our lives for the Shah."

 

Then I saw this picture of members of the Revolutionary Guard, and saw the same faces, and wondered what happened to all those people who were so insistent that they would all "give our lives for the Shah."

 

 

Des gardiens de la révolution iraniens, à Téhéran, le 1er février 2010 : ils comptent 125 000 hommes.

Posted on 07/25/2011 9:07 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 25 July 2011
Islamic Republic Of Iran Warns Erdogan's Government To Butt Out Of Syria

Iran Warns Turkey to Butt Out of Syria

By Reza Kahlili

Despite the brutal crackdown by the Assad government, the ongoing protests in Syria have the Iranian leadership worried. The survival of the Syrian dictator, Bashar al-Assad, is essential to the dictatorial Islamic regime in Tehran because Syria provides the very gateway to Iran’s expansion of power in the Middle East and its extremist policies against Israel and the United States.

For the past four months, Syrian authorities have killed more than 1,500 people during widespread protests demanding the overthrow of the Assad regime. Neighboring Turkey has denounced the Syrian slaughter. Thousands of fearful residents from the northern regions of Syria have taken refuge in Turkey.

A recent article published in the weekly magazine Sobh’eh Sadegh, one of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ media outlets, sternly warned Turkey against its stance on Syria, emphasizing that Iran stands squarely with the Assad regime.

The article, entitled “Iran’s Serious Stance in the Face of Syrian Events,” warned that “Should Turkish officials insist on their contradictory behavior and if they continue on their present path, serious issues are sure to follow. We will be put in the position of having to choose between Turkey and Syria. Syria’s justification in defending herself along with mirroring ideological perceptions would sway Iran toward choosing Syria.”

The article, sanctioned by the Iranian government, made these points:

♦Turkey is gravely mistaken if it believes Syria is on a “one-way path to destruction” and that any dreams it may have to take advantage of the fall of Assad will not happen. “From Iran’s standpoint, the Syrian leadership is in the midst of resolving its problems, and as soon as foreign meddling stops, the Syrians will be able to revert back to ‘normal.’”

♦Turkey can only realize its “ambitions” through an “alliance (with Syria and Iran that) can take over a more extensive part of the region.”

♦The “rabble rousers” participating in the Syrian protests are “puppets of Zionists and the United States.” The “proof of their alliance with the enemies of Islam” can be seen in their denunciation of Hezbollah, the “resistance front.” “The Syrian dissenters are working directly for the Zionists and are against the resistance front. None of this is coincidental. There are clear signs of direct connections. The Zionists still occupy and control parts of Syria (the Golan Heights).” Chanting slogans against Iran and Hezbollah by the “radicals in Syria will be their last stand.”

As reported earlier, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei sent a letter to President Obama warning against any meddling in Syria. The Iranian officials also warned Turkey in recent weeks that should Turkey provide assistance to the U.S. in helping the protesters in Syria, then all U.S. and NATO bases in Turkey will become targets for the Iranian missiles.

The Iranian leaders’ top priority is to prevent the fall of the Assad government. Such a fall would trigger several crises for the Iranian leadership: It would impact their influence in the Middle East, threaten the survival of Hezbollah in dominating events in Lebanon, and could reignite unrest in Iran where its citizens would hope to remove their own dictator.

As the Iranian regime watches events unfold in Syria, it has indeed much to worry about, including its very existence.

Despite all the threats by the radicals ruling Iran, the West should do all it can to help overthrow the Assad regime. A domino effect would help bring change in Iran and end much of the extremism in the region and the world.


 
Posted on 07/25/2011 9:31 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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