Anti-Israel demonstrators gathered on Friday in the heart of Vienna, protesting Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense and chanting slogans calling for the murder of Jews and bashing the Jewish state. Israel’s eight-day military operation to stop Hamas rocket fire from entering the country prompted two fiercely anti-Israel protests in the Austrian capital.
Samuel Laster, an Israeli journalist who lives in Vienna, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that he heard a contingent of 15 to 20 Austrian Islamists chanting in Arabic, “Death to the Jews.”
The anti-Israel activists yelled “Freedom for Palestine” and “Down with Israel,” and a group of Austrian Muslims blasted repeatedly in Arabic “Death to the Jews.” Laster said the Austrian authorities, including the domestic intelligence agency (Verfassungschutz), must increase their efforts to combat “Islamic extremism.” He criticized the lax approach of Austrian police officials who waved off the anti-Jewish rhetoric as merely a protest against Israel.
Dr. Shimon Samuels, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s director for international relations, wrote the Post by email on Sunday, “the Verfassungschutz, whether in Germany or Austria, has to make the analytical leap in treating the Trotskyite/jihadist movements as they did regarding Nazi and Communist espionage or terrorism.
“These provide cover for a fifth column of sleepers and lone-wolf recruits that endanger the host societies as much as, if not more than, their Jewish citizens. Jews have somewhere to go. Germans and Austrians do not.”
He added that when the ragtag political activists scream “death to the Jews” in Vienna or Berlin they mean it.
“The Holocaust began with the word and brought the world to the abyss. The alarms in Israel under Hamas rockets should reverberate in Vienna and Berlin, for the indifferent and exposed Austrians and Germans who do not realize that they have no Iron Dome,” said Samuels.
Michael J. Totten On How The Muslim Brotherhood Trains its Members
Egypt's Morsi Proclaims Himself Pharaoh
26 November 2012
Almost two years after Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak was removed from power, Cairo’s Tahrir Square is still an epicenter of protest and violence. It’s an epicenter of protest and violence because Egypt is again ruled by a man who has declared himself dictator. The country’s new president, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, announced that “constitutional declarations, decisions and laws issued by the president are final and not subject to appeal.”
He’s already being called the new Pharaoh. It makes no difference that he was elected. Democracy isn’t just about getting elected. A democratic election is not a one-time plebiscite on who the next tyrant is going to be. Democracy requires individual and minority rights and the separation of powers. Winners cannot oppress losers, nor do losers get to wage war on the winners.
Some of us are more surprised than others by this development, but the Muslim Brotherhood was never a democratic political movement. It's not even a close call. You don't have to be a cheerleader for Hosni Mubarak to recognize its inherent authoritarianism.
It begins when specially designated Brotherhood recruiters, who work at mosques and universities across Egypt, identify pious young men and begin engaging them in social activities to assess their suitability for the organization. The Brotherhood’s ideological brainwashing begins a few months later, as new recruits are incorporated into Brotherhood cells (known as “families”) and introduced to the organization’s curriculum, which emphasizes Qur’anic memorization and the writings of founder Hassan al-Banna, among others. Then, over a five-to-eight-year period, a team of three senior Muslim Brothers monitors each recruit as he advances through five different ranks of Brotherhood membership—muhib, muayyad, muntasib, muntazim, and finally ach amal, or “active brother.”
Throughout this process, rising Muslim Brothers are continually vetted for their embrace of the Brotherhood’s ideology, commitment to its cause, and—most importantly—willingness to follow orders from the Brotherhood’s senior leadership. As a result, Muslim Brothers come to see themselves as foot soldiers in service of the organization’s theocratic credo: “Allah is our objective; the Quran is our law; the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.” Meanwhile, those dissenting with the organization’s aims or tactics are eliminated at various stages during the five-to-eight-year vetting period.
Last year in Cairo I met a couple of young activist recruits who washed out. They weren’t fired, exactly. One just up and quit because he could no longer stand the paranoid and authoritarian politics of its leaders, and the other was pressured out by what Americans call a hostile work environment.
“Hamas is more liberal,” Mohamed Adel told me, “and more willing to cooperate with other movements than the Muslim Brotherhood is.” He had left just weeks before I met him at the journalist syndicate. “The Brotherhood thinks dealing with anyone who is a former member . . . or someone from other movements and parties, is like dealing with an infidel.”
Abdul-Jalil al-Sharnouby, another young activist, was an editor at the Brotherhood’s Web site. Party officials treated him horribly and it became obvious, from his insider’s view, that the leaders would lord it over Egypt with a military regime or a police state if given the chance. “The Brotherhood as it exists now,” he told me, “wants to come to power and rule the way Hosni Mubarak did.”
Egypt’s political culture is authoritarian and always has been. The Muslim Brotherhood is a logical and perhaps inevitable product of a pre-existing problem bigger than itself and older than its religion. [this last phrase, enrolling pharaonic Egypt in its historical sweep, deflects attention from Islam, and is therefore an error]
I’ve met Egyptian liberals. They exist, but they’re a minority. Moderates are a larger minority, but genuine liberals belong to an even smaller minority and they know it. They feel it keenly, and are therefore far gloomier about Egypt’s prospects than Westerners were when the so-called Arab Spring started almost two years ago.
“The Western worldview is not very popular in Egypt,” Egyptian journalist Mohamed Ahmed Raouf told me. “They watch American movies, they drive American cars, but they don't accept Western culture or values of democracy, pluralism, and enlightenment. They don't accept it. People have to be open-minded, and that's not the case here.”
Hala Mustafa, a liberal intellectual at the Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, told me the Muslim Brothers grotesquely distort the words “freedom” and “democracy.” “I heard one of them just the other day referring to individual rights,” she said, “but in a very backward way. He thinks Islam already has all rights for everybody and that we have to respect that. He thinks this is freedom, but it’s completely different from any liberal concept of freedom. The Muslim Brotherhood is against individual freedom not just for women and Christians, but also for Muslims and men.”
Egypt’s deeply embedded illiberalism isn’t exactly a secret. It’s the country’s most obvious political characteristic, one that imposes itself on the observant almost at once. Egyptian blogger Big Pharaoh explained it to me this way the first time I visited Cairo seven years ago: “Most of the armed terrorist groups we see now were born out of the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood…My biggest fear is that if the Muslim Brotherhood rules Egypt we will get Islamism-lite, that they won’t be quite bad enough that people will revolt against them. Most Egyptians don’t drink, so they won’t mind if alcohol is illegal. The same goes for banning books. Most Egyptians don’t read. So why should they care if books are banned? Most women wear a veil or a headscarf already, so if it becomes the law hardly anyone will resist.”
But sure, the Brothers threw the word “democracy” around when they were on their way up, especially when gullible foreign journalists were in town. They got a big kick out of portraying themselves as religiously conservative democrats, as though they were the Egyptian equivalents of Germany’s Christian Democrats or the Republicans in the United States. But their slogan is and always has been “Islam is the solution.” They’re only moderate compared with the totalitarian Salafists.
Morsi promises that his dictatorial powers are temporary. Feel free to believe that if you find it credible. Hey, it might even be true. Weird things happen in the Middle East all the time. The army could remove him tomorrow. Other regime components might tell him to get stuffed, making him more Hugo Chavez than Fidel Castro. The “street” might throw the country into ungovernable chaos. Morsi might even feel enough pressure from abroad that he dials it down. But whatever happens later, he just proclaimed himself dictator. If he isn’t stopped, that’s exactly what he will be.
Dans la pétaudière qu’est devenue l’UMP, à cause de la surenchère permanente à laquelle se livrent en direct François Fillon et Jean-François Copé, la voix des militants n’est plus audible. Pourtant, ce qu’ils ont dit dimanche dernier est clair : ils veulent que la droite, centriste et mollassonne, évolue vers davantage de radicalité et de courage. C’est le sens de la dynamique qui a porté Copé, au point d’humilier Fillon qui s’était imaginé pour lui-même une stature désirable d’homme providentiel. C’est également le sens des courants de la Droite forte et de la Droite populaire qui, à eux seuls, ont recueilli près de 40% des voix. Les militants veulent que leur parti se positionne clairement à droite et en finisse avec ses pudeurs de chaisière qui font tant plaisir à la gauche. Or, depuis une semaine, ce message est passé à la trappe. L’appareil UMP a même tenté de faire revenir sur le devant de la scène, ce week-end, Alain Juppé : un anachronisme, tant l’ancien premier ministre, vénéré par le choeur médiatique, est le symbole de cette droite mal dans sa peau, incapable d’aborder les problèmes liés au développement du communautarisme et à l’affaiblissement de la cohésion nationale.
Il existe, chez les responsables de droite, un refus d’entendre les militants. Même si Copé a eu tort d’annoncer précipitamment sa victoire, aujourd’hui contestée, l’acharnement que met Fillon à vouloir casser la machine UMP revient à vouloir briser un miroir parce qu'il ne reflète plus sa seule image : c’est sa propre carrière qu’il saborde probablement. Et quand Jean-Louis Borloo, président de l’UDI, annonce, ce lundi, sa prétention à "incarner le leadership de l’opposition" en lieu et place de l’UMP, il ne se rend pas compte qu’il parle comme pourrait le faire le nouveau centriste, François Hollande. Hier, dans le JDD, Borloo se flattait de vouloir accompagner l’ "irréversible internationalisation" et de défendre "l’humanisme, le respect de l’autre, le droit des femmes", etc. C’est ce cathéchisme, indifférent aux souffrances identitaires des Français vulnérables à la mondialisation, qui est remis en question par ceux qui ont été appelés à fixer un nouveau cap pour l’UMP. Le vrai "coup d’Etat" serait de les ignorer. Et de les faire fuir chez Marine Le Pen.
Swedish security service Säpo has expressed concerns that Swedes fighting in Syria may commit war crimes after a militant group's recent YouTube recruitment video called on Swedes to join the war effort in Syria. Säpo told the TT news agency that a few Swedes are already fighting in the Syrian civil war.
The new video clip was posted on YouTube on November 21st by a group calling itself the Swedish holy warriors in Syria (Svenska Mujahideen Fi Ash Sham).
"Jihad is obligatory for any and all who believe in Allah, his prophet and doomsday. It is obligatory in Sweden and in the rest of the world," a man speaking in fluent but slightly accented Swedish says in the clip. "It is heart-wrenching when Muslims turn their back on their sisters and brothers," one of the masked men adds.
The video shows several persons holding automatic weapons assembling outdoors. The landscape appears to be Mediterranean. However, experts at Säpo explained they were unable to confirm that the video is recorded in Syria.
It also remains unclear why the group has chosen to use an older Arabic name for Syria - Sham.
Comment: Please don't call them Muslim Swedes. They are muslims living in Sweden. Jihad is not obligatory in Sweden - Sweden is not a muslim country. Anyone caught insisting on Jihad or Sharia law in Sweden should be deported immediately. That's not the way we live here, thank you very much.
Increased punishment and the expulsion of imams among the efforts aimed at curbing forced religious marriages. The government is stepping up its battle against forced marriages.
TV2 News reported this evening that the government will announce a package tomorrow aimed at curbing forced Muslim marriages, also known as Sharia marriages.
The legislation is expected to further increase the criminal punishments for forced marriages, ban those married under Sharia law from utilising the Danish divorce system, and allow for the expulsion of imams who carry out forced religious marriages.
Everyone should have the same rights when they live in Denmark, regardless of whether one has Muslim parents," the social affairs and integration minister, Karen Hækkerup (Socialdemokraterne), told TV2 News. "Everyone should have the same rights to freedom, and that is what we want to help people achieve."
Although it was reported earlier this year that there had not been a single conviction for forced marriages since the former Venstre-Konservative government increased the punishment in 2008, LOKK, the association of women’s crisis centres, said that the number of women seeking help – either because of a pending forced marriage or the threat of one – rose six-fold between 2005 and 2010 from 101 women to 660.
Listen to 1330amWEBY Middle East Roundtable Discussion on Israel, Gaza, Egypt, Benghazi and Iran
Listen to the latest in a series of international discussions on developments in the Middle East on 1330AMWEBY, Pensacola, Florida. This is the latest program in the periodic round table discussions led by “Your Turn” host Mike Bates and Jerry Gordon, Senior Editor of the New English Review and author of The West Speaks. Our guests will be Dr. Jonathan Schanzer, Vice President for Research of the Washington, DC –based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) and Shoshana Bryen, Senior Director of the Jewish Policy Center in Washington.
The WEBY program will air today during the 5 to 6:00PM CST (6:00 to 7:00PM EST) segment. You may listen live here.
Among the topics to be discussed:
1. Success of Israel’s Iron Dome system versus Iran’s Fajr-5 rockets in Gaza rocket war.
2. Iran’s weapons pipeline via Sudan Through Egypt and Israel’s deterrence
3. Why Fajr-5s and SA-7 MANPADS are game changers in Middle East.
4. Egypt’s brokerage of cease fire agreement with US intervention.
5. Why Hamas wins the media war while Israel doesn’t..
6. How difficult it will be to monitor the skimpy cease fire agreement especially weapons smuggling.
7. Protests of Egypt’s President Morsi declaration of dictatorial authorities and Obama silence on Muslim Brotherhood's role.
8. Why Amb. Stevens met in Benghazi with Turkish General Consul on possible US supply of Gaddafi weapons to Syrian opposition
9. Danger to Israel of PLO UN Observer Status vote in Geneva Assembly on Nov. 29th
10. Impact of Israel's rocket war with Hamas on January Knesset elections and PM Netanyahu
An article based on today’s 1330AMWEBY international round table discussion will appear in the December edition of the New English Review.
Jon Lovitz Understands What Some Christian Peacemakers Do Not
Things are getting pretty weird when Jon Lovitz, a comedian who made a name for himself by adopting the persona of Tommy Flanagan, a pathological liar, exhibits a greater capacity for moral discernment and reasoning than some Christian peacemakers in the United States, Europe and the Middle East during the latest round of fighting between Israel and Hamas.
In Nov. 20 “tweet” that caught the attention the website Twitchy Lovitz wrote: “Hamas fires rockets at Israel for three years. Silence. Israel finally has enough and fights back. And NOW the world says, ‘Cease Fire.'
Lovitz's tweet underreported the number of years that Israel has been subject to rocket attacks (the rocket attacks started in 2001). But even with this error, Lovitz still encapsulated the moral confusion that has the hallmark of so-called Christian peacemakers who remain nearly silent about the ongoing rocket attacks coming from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip for years and only issued full-throated condemnations the violence when Israel fires back.
This tendency was underscored by public statements issued during Operation Pillar of Defense by the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the World Council of Churches.
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Predictably, one of the worst offenders was the Presbyterian Church (USA), whose Stated Clerk, Gradye Parsons, issued a statement on Nov. 13, 2012, the day Israel responded to a huge escalation of rocket attacks with air strikes into the Gaza Strip. In the statement, Parsons wrote:
Our General Assembly and our leaders have often and unequivocally condemned the launching of rockets from Gaza against Israeli citizens in the surrounding areas. There can be no justification for the terror and injury that these attacks have produced; and every such act has produced counter violence on the part of Israel, often resulting in greater loss of life. The reverse is also true. On occasion, the Israelis have initiated attacks on Gaza producing similar terror and injury, and resulting in rockets being fired by Palestinians in retaliation.
Parsons did issue a statement in June of 2010 calling on Hamas to stop the rocket attacks against Israel and to release Gilad Shalit, but these condemnations were coupled in with a call to end Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip, which was a response to Hamas violence.
It's important to remember that there was no blockade prior to Hamas' violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007, which by the way, went un-remarked by Christian peacemakers like Parsons.
Moreover, PC(USA) leaders and peace activists remained silent about the 760 rockets that had been fired from Gaza between the beginning of 2012 and Israel's response. The denomination offered no rebuke for the drastic increase in rocket attacks that took place before launched Pillar of Defense. (A review of the denomination's newsfeed for 2012 confirms this assessment.)
The PC(USA)'s silence is egregious. In the week before Israel started fighting back, more than 120 missiles were shot into Israel from the Gaza Strip. The denomination did not offer a call for these attacks to stop until Israel fired back on Nov. 13.
Suppose Israel had not fired back. How many more rockets would Hamas had to launch into Israel before Parsons and the denomination he leads would speak up? How is it that Hamas can launch hundreds of rockets into Israel and fail to elicit a response from a denomination that affirmed its commitment to peacemaking in 1983?
One passage in Parson's statement stands out. He wrote that every rocket attack “has produced counter violence on the part of Israel, often resulting in greater loss of life.” As stated in a piece by this writer in the Algemeiner on Nov. 20, Parsons ignored an important fact in his statement: “Israeli officials allowed hundreds of rockets to go unanswered before finally firing back.” The piece continues:
This is what Parsons did: He remained silent about rocket attacks that had been going on for months – without a response from Israel. Then after Israel responded with air strikes Parsons then lept into action with an “evenhanded” statement condemning both sides for their violent acts and for escalation. By waiting until Israel fired back before responding to the rocket attacks, Parsons was able to posit a false moral equivalence between Hamas's and Israel's action.
Second PC(USA) Statement
The Presbyterian Church (USA) issued an “action alert” on Nov. 20 that called on the church's members to send a letter asking Obama Administration to work to bring an end to the conflict. It lamented the loss of Palestinian and Israeli lives in the latest round of violence, which it described as beginning after “Israel's assassination of Hamas' military commander Ahmed al-Jabari last Wednesday [Nov. 12].”
As reported above, Al-Jabari's assassination was preceded by hundreds of rocket attacks since the beginning of 2012. And In the week prior to Jabari's death, approximately 120 rockets landed in Israel. Why is Jabari's assassination – and not the increase of rocket attacks – described as the start of the “latest round of violence.”
Are the rocket attacks not “violent”? Why are they so unremarkable to the PC(USA) leaders and staffers?
World Council of Churches
On Nov. 16, 2012, Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches – headquartered in Geneva – issued a statement on concern about the “escalation of violence in Gaza and Israel.” In the statement, Tveit reported that the WCC was “closely following the tragic violent developments that occurred the last days in Gaza and Israel, which have resulted in the loss of many lives including children and women.”
Tveit stated “This violence should stop immediately so that the lives of civilians, who are always the main victims, be spared. The loss of peoples' precious lives in the eyes of God, on both sides, cannot be accepted as a price to be paid for the unresolved political problems and political agendas.”
The statement calls on “both sides to cease hostilities, and ensure civilians will be protected.” And called on Israel to end “the six-year blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip by Israel.” After invoking a UN OCHA report on the plight of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the statement declares “that the rocket attacks from Gaza into civilian communities in Israel, which are reprehensible and never justifiable, might also have very harmful effects at a time when Palestinians are seeking international support of, and recognition by, the international community for a future viable and contiguous state.”
Again, what is most remarkable about the WCC's statement is that it was prompted by Israel's decision to fire back at terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip that had launching rockets into Israel for months with no response. If the attacks were “reprehensible and never justifiable” – as the statement says – why did the WCC remain silent about these attacks as they were happening and not bother to condemn them until Israel fired back?
Another remarkable aspect about the statement is that it laments the blockade the Gaza Strip without acknowledging that there was no blockade prior to Hamas's violent takeover of the territory in 2007.
At what point will the WCC start holding Hamas responsible for the problems faced by the people it governs?
Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP)
Churches for Middle East Peace, a Christian pressure group headquartered in Washington, D.C. supported by two dozen churches and para-church organizations in the U.S. issued its statement on Nov. 15, 2012. The statement read in part as follows:
Churches for Middle East Peace expresses deep sorrow and distress about the acts of deadly violence that have broken out in the past few days in Gaza and southern Israel. We urge all parties involved to end violent actions and to work with regional allies to achieve an immediate ceasefire.
Like the other statements analyzed above, the CMEP's statement came after Israel responded to ongoing rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip. People living in southern Israel had been living with an esclatation of rocket attacks for months and this did not prompt the CMEP to issue a stand-alone statement.
Again, suppose Israel had not fired back. How many rockets would Hamas have to have fired into Israel before CMEP issued a statement calling for an end to the attacks in a statement like the one it issued on Nov. 15? Would CMEP have ever issued such a statement?
CMEP Not Completely Silent
Nevertheless, CMEP had informed its supporters about the attacks directed at Israelis over the past several years.
In its regular bulletins dating back to 2009 the organization has reported on the rockets and other terror attacks coming from the Gaza Strip. For example, organization, led by former U.S. State Department official Warren Clark, was particularly vocal in its condemnation of the Fogel family massacre that took place in the West Bank in March 2012. On this score, CMEP has been more responsible than other Christian peacemaking organizations that have let anti-Israel violence pass in silence.
For example, in its Nov. 11, 2011 bulletin, CMEP reported the following:
Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor wrote a fourth letter in a month to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and the Security Council condemning rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.
Two long-range rockets were fired Tuesday from Gaza into a kibbutz, which destroyed a farm building near a kindergarten classroom. Since October, more than 70 rockets and mortars have been launched at civilian targets. Prosser wrote, “Nearly every day, we witness new scenes of destruction. Israeli men, women and children continue to be killed and injured. Shrapnel flies into homes, schools and playgrounds. Fires rage in the streets. Yet, the Security Council still has not uttered a single syllable of condemnation against these attacks.”
The organization also acknowledged the increase of rocket attacks that took place prior to Operation Pillar of Defense. CMEP's call for peace would have been more credible if it had issued a stand-alone statement condemning the rocket attacks prior to Israel's response to these attacks. Nevertheless, the organization did inform its supporters in a meaningful way about the ongoing rocket attacks into Israel in ways that other Christian institutions simply have not.
Not a New Problem
The issue is not a new problem. Michael Kinnamon, former General Secretary of the National Council of Churches made a powerful admission when he spoke to an audience of Jews and Christians at Eden Theological Seminary in April 2011.
Kinnamon, a Disciples of Christ theologian who had helped modulate the NCC's anti-Israel rhetoric during his tenure at the NCC said "I came to [realize] that I needed to be more direct in criticizing the rocket attacks from Gaza even as I expressed concern over Israel's response to the attacks.” (His talk was recounted in an article published by the St. Louis Jewish Light.)
If Christian peacemakers are going to be taken seriously, they need to take Lovitz's (and Kinnamon's) message to heart.
Although the famous liberal intolerance for opposing ideas is often at its most stifling on American college campuses, there is one school with a free-speech track record so poor it outraged New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. That school is Columbia University, and its president, Lee Bollinger, has made a name for himself by fostering an atmosphere of censorship on campus in which speech is often suppressed by the faculty and student groups, sometimes violently. One such incident took place in 2006, when speakers from the Minuteman Project were rushed by protesters storming the stage.
Bollinger wasn’t bothered by it, but for many it was the last straw, and Bloomberg unloaded. “Bollinger’s just got to get his hands around this,” Bloomberg told the New York Times. “There are too many incidents at the same school where people get censored.” It wasn’t just conservative groups or others that transgress the university’s idea of political correctness. Jewish groups were the target of intimidation by faculty, and there are ideological litmus tests for university programs. Additionally, Bollinger famously brought one of the world’s leading censors, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to campus while still banning the ROTC. No one in his right mind would consider Bollinger a friend of free speech except … Lee Bollinger. Here he is writing in Foreign Policy magazine advocating for free speech around the world.
It’s not that Bollinger’s article is offensive–it’s standard but welcome boilerplate about the assault on free speech and the need to understand how a changing media landscape affects both the threats to, and opportunities for, freedom of expression and thought in a globalized world. But the choice of author is indefensible. There was no one with a better record than Bollinger to tout free speech? In fact, in American higher education there are few with worse records than Bollinger. And it is just plainly insulting to read Bollinger hypocritically and sanctimoniously pat himself on the back in paragraphs like this:
Second, the very essence of modern life is the opportunity for people everywhere to speak, hear, persuade, change their minds, know what others are thinking, and think for themselves. Our great institutions of higher education, including the one I lead, bear a special social responsibility for educating people to possess a nimble cast of mind, able to grasp multiple perspectives and the full complexity of a subject. And for centuries, great societies of all types have understood that this kind of intellectual capacity is essential to progress. But never have critical thinking and tolerance been more important for individual well-being and for our collective prosperity.
Indeed, Bollinger is right that he has a “special social responsibility”–and it is one he has abdicated in the decade he’s been at Columbia.
It’s not that Bollinger allows no offensive speech at Columbia; I was there to cover Ahmadinejad’s speech and saw plenty of anti-Jewish conspiracy theorists flaunting their pathological suspicions of Jews and countless portrayals of then-President George W. Bush as–who else?–Hitler.
In 2005, after pro-Israel students at the school tried to get the university to address the intimidation they were getting from pro-Palestinian teachers, Bollinger tried to avoid dealing with it. When the New York Times asked him why he didn’t get involved sooner, he explained that he’s just a man who contains multitudes. “I tried to walk a very, very fine line,” he said. “I have a problem because I like to see complexity.”
Lee Bollinger may be a complex man, but his record on free speech is simple and unambiguous. He is an expert on free speech only to the extent that he has clearly studied how to keep it off his campus.
Arms shipment from Libya to Gaza seized as talks continue over details of Israel-Hamas cease-fire
By Mel Frykberg McClatchy Newspapers
With an end to weapons smuggling to the Gaza Strip one of the key points of contention in the cease-fire agreement that last week ended hostilities between Hamas militants and Israel, Egyptian security forces arrested three people Tuesday after intercepting a large shipment of weapons smuggled into the Sinai Peninsula from Libya.
Egyptian media reports said Gaza was the intended destination for the weapons, which included 185 crates filled with 5,000 rounds of bullets, anti-tank and anti-aircraft munitions, rocket-propelled grenades, landmines and explosives. The value of the shipment was estimated at $3.3 million.
It was the second weapons shipment from Libya that Egyptian authorities intercepted in less than a week. Last week, a convoy of pickups was stopped near the Egyptian town of Marsa Matrouh, not far from the Libyan border. The trucks were carrying, according to Egyptian reports, 108 Grad rocket warheads.
Tuesday’s interception came as Egyptian mediators continued working with Israeli and Hamas delegations in Cairo to hammer out the details of the Nov. 21 cease-fire that brought an end, at least temporarily, to Israeli bombardment of Gaza and militant rocket attacks on Israel.
While Israeli mediators have said that one condition of the agreement is a halt to Hamas smuggling weapons, a senior Hamas member in Gaza told McClatchy that there was no such agreement.
“We will also not stop smuggling weapons into Gaza from the Sinai and this was made clear during the initial negotiations of the cease-fire,” said Ahmed Youssef, a senior political adviser to Hamas’ leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniya.
“Why shouldn’t we receive weapons to defend ourselves when the Israelis receive weapons from the Americans all the time?” he asked.
Youssef, considered a moderate, also said that Hamas still possesses a significant arsenal of weapons following the Gaza conflict and wouldn’t hesitate to use them against Israel if the Israelis attacked Gaza.
Israeli intelligence officials are not only worried about the large quantities of Libyan weapons reaching Gaza but also about weapons from Iran. The Iranian-developed Fajr-5 rockets were recently able to reach cities deep within Israel, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, for the first time ever.
But stopping the weapons shipments promises to be a difficult undertaking. Weapons are routinely seized coming into Egypt from Libya. Just last month, Egyptian authorities stopped two pickups, also near Marsa Matrouh, that were traveling toward Alexandria on Egypt’s Mediterranean coast. They were carrying scores of rockets and mortar rounds, authorities said.
Egyptian security officials say it’s not always clear where the weapons are headed: Islamist militants in the Sinai or Palestinian militants in Gaza. Both receive weapons from Libya, authorities say.