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Recent Publications by New English Review Authors
The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Impact of Islam
by Emmet Scott
Sir Walter Scott's Crusades and Other Fantasies
by Ibn Warraq
Fighting the Retreat from Arabia and the Gulf: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly. Vol. 1
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Literary Culture of France
by J. E. G. Dixon
Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays
by David P. Gontar
Farewell Fear
by Theodore Dalrymple
The Eagle and The Bible: Lessons in Liberty from Holy Writ
by Kenneth Hanson
The West Speaks
interviews by Jerry Gordon
Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy
Emmet Scott
Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy
Ibn Warraq
Anything Goes
by Theodore Dalrymple
Karimi Hotel
De Nidra Poller
The Left is Seldom Right
by Norman Berdichevsky
Allah is Dead: Why Islam is Not a Religion
by Rebecca Bynum
Virgins? What Virgins?: And Other Essays
by Ibn Warraq
An Introduction to Danish Culture
by Norman Berdichevsky
The New Vichy Syndrome:
by Theodore Dalrymple
Jihad and Genocide
by Richard L. Rubenstein
Spanish Vignettes: An Offbeat Look Into Spain's Culture, Society & History
by Norman Berdichevsky

These are all the Blogs posted on Thursday, 29, 2009.
Thursday, 29 January 2009
Israel did not attack UN school in Jabalya

Neil D at Harry's Place:

On the 6th of January the Israeli army returned fire at Hamas terrorists in Jabalya who were using a mortar battery to target Israeli personnel. They killed and identified at least two Hamas operatives. At the same time a number of innocent civilians died in the attack. The UN’s World Health Organisation have news of this event on their site:

42 people were killed 6 Jan in an UNRWA school in an Israeli attack.
On 6 January, 42 people were killed following an attack on a UNRWA school transformed into a refugee site for displaced people. Dozens were injured and evacuated.

The UN were extremely concerned by this attack since “International Humanitarian Law requires all medical personnel and facilities be protected at all times, even during armed conflict. Attacks on them are grave violations of International Humanitarian and Human Rights laws.” Indeed, the UN recently have recently called for an investigation of alleged war crimes, and this report in The Independent notes the attack in Jabalya when discussing the UN’s call:

the call came at the culmination not only of a rising civilian death toll but also a series of attacks on UN installations and, in some cases, the people who were under the UN’s care at the time. The most lethal of these was an earlier shelling in which 43 internally displaced Gazans, sheltering in the Fakhura UNRWA school in Jabalya, were killed on 6 January.

Yet even at the time, there was some confusion as to the target of the Israeli attack. Here in this Guardian editorial, the day after the attack, it is noted that the Israeli shells fell outside, as opposed to on or in, the UN refuge:

Three shells exploded outside a United Nations school in Jabalya refugee camp, where more than 300 Palestinians had sought refuge. Over 40 died and 55 were injured. It was waiting to happen.

So, the shells fell outside the school, but it still seems as though the effect of the Israeli attack was to kill over 40 people. If you are in a UN refuge, it makes little difference to you if you are killed because of shells hitting you directly, or indirectly. However, it nows seems that reports of the deaths in the UN refuge are inaccurate. No one died in the UN refuge.

Physical evidence and interviews with several eyewitnesses, including a teacher who was in the schoolyard at the time of the shelling, make it clear: While a few people were injured from shrapnel landing inside the white-and-blue-walled UNRWA compound, no one in the compound was killed. The 43 people who died in the incident were all outside, on the street, where all three mortar shells landed.

Stories of one or more shells landing inside the schoolyard were inaccurate.

While the killing of 43 civilians on the street may itself be grounds for investigation, it falls short of the act of shooting into a schoolyard crowded with refuge-seekers.

The teacher who was in the compound at the time of the shelling says he heard three loud blasts, one after the other, then a lot of screaming. “I ran in the direction of the screaming [inside the compound],” he said. “I could see some of the people had been injured, cut. I picked up one girl who was bleeding by her eye, and ran out on the street to get help.”But when I got outside, it was crazy hell. There were bodies everywhere, people dead, injured, flesh everywhere.”

The teacher, who refused to give his name because he said UNRWA had told the staff not to talk to the news media, was adamant: “Inside [the compound] there were 12 injured, but there were no dead.”

So, in fact, the Israeli army did not attack a UN refuge. The shells landed outside the UN refuge and no-one in the refuge was killed. The shells also landed outside an auto-body shop, so it may as well be termed an attack on an auto-body shop.

So, firstly, one has to ask why the UN stated that deaths occured within the compound, when none had. When John Ging, UNRWA Director of Operations in Gaza, visited the UN school in Jabaliya he stated in a press release, which says an Israeli strike on UNWRA school occurred:

“There’s nowhere safe in Gaza. Everyone here is terrorized and traumatized. These men, women and children are all seeking safety and there is no safety in Gaza at the moment, even in an UNRWA school. This is unacceptable.”

In fact, he is wrong. It appears that the UN refuge was safe. To be fair, he has accepted this now, but it would have been nice for the UN to get its facts right or at least shut up until the facts where clear.

Secondly, it is noticable how certain parts of the media leapt onto the story with some glee. The Independent takes first prize with its headline “Massacre of innocents as UN school is shelled“. Those with a biblical eye may spot the reference in the article’s title to King Herod’s attempt to kill Jesus by murdering all young children in Bethlehem. Interesting that racial agitation, in the form of raising the myth of Jews as the killers of Christ, should slip so easily into a modern liberal newspaper.

This truth is still putting on its shoes, and will never catch up with the lie.

Posted on 01/29/2009 3:18 PM by Mary Jackson
Thursday, 29 January 2009
'Al-Qaeda would blow up Christ's burial site', says Benjamin Netanyahu

From The Telegraph
Benjamin Netanyahu, the favourite to win next month's Israeli general election, yesterday predicted al-Qaeda would blow up the purported burial place of Jesus Christ if the country relinquished control of Jerusalem.
Mr Netanyahu, who claimed to have forecast the destruction of the Twin Towers by Islamic extremists in 1995, said terrorists would target the Church of the Holy Sepulchre – Christianity's holiest site.
"Radical Islam is willing and will want to attack the symbolic heart of the Christian religion," he said. "This will incur a chain reaction we can't even envision. We will witness an escalation of religious conflict above and beyond the regional conflict we have now."
He claimed that the destruction of the Holy Sepulchre would trigger a clash between religions, much greater than the "regional conflict" that currently wracks the Holy Land.
Christ was resurrected and ascended to heaven later so the Holy Sepulchre is built over what is believed to be the site of the tomb provided by Joseph of Arimathea. Other Christian historians believe that the tomb is in a garden a mile or two away. Where ever the tomb was it was only a temporary resting place. The important bit is that Christ lives, and lives today.
If the building were destroyed another could be rebuilt. It wouldn't destroy The Church on Earth. What it would do is be yet another piece of evidence to show those who still hope that "Islam-is-a-religion-of-peace-hijacked-by-extremists" what the domination of Islam would mean. As if in the last 10 years alone, New York, Madrid, Beslan, London, Mumbai (twice) and Bali and elsewhere were not enough.
One might think why would Islam destroy the Church of the Holy Sepulchre now, when they have not bothered in the last 1400 years. They didn't destroy the Bamiyan sculptures of Buddha in Afghanistan until recently, so why not now?
Israel annexed Jerusalem after the 1967 war and has overseen a massive expansion of the city's Jewish population.
But he forecast that the most radical groups among Israel would gain a foothold to wage attacks on Israel. He said: "If we move out of even one piece of Jerusalem, Hamas moves in, Iran would have a base to attack us in the heart of our capital."
I don't know if Mr Netanyahu has serious intelligence to show that the Chuch of the Holy Sepulchure is on the agenda or if he is just thinking of the sort of thing that might happen. Remember there are two Mosques well established on the site of The Temple.

Posted on 01/29/2009 2:53 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thursday, 29 January 2009
Rosengård 'growing more radical'

From the Swedish edition of The Local
A majority of Rosengård's inhabitants believe the troubled Malmö suburb has undergone a radicalization over the past five years, a new study shows.
Experts believe the city council needs to be allocated greater financial resources if it is to get to grips with the rise of political and religious extremism.
Researchers Magnus Ranstorp and Josefine Dos Santos from the Center for Asymmetric Threat Studies at the Swedish National Defence College were tasked by the government with examining the effects of preventive measures taken in Sweden against violent extremism and radicalization.
As part of their studies, the researchers conducted extensive interviews with school personnel and police officers active in the Rosengård district.
The vast majority of respondents were of the view that the predominantly immigrant suburb had become considerably more radical over the last five years.  Its that word radical again - we know radical = normal.
Ranstorp and Dos Santos describe how "ultra-radical" Islamists attached to basement mosques "preach isolation and act as thought controllers while also maintaining a strong culture of threats, in which women in particular are subjected to physical and psychological harassment."
"Newcomer families who were never particularly traditional or religious say they lived more freely in their home countries than they do in Rosengård," the researchers write.
Rosengård district committee chairman Andreas Konstantinides (SocDem) said he shared the researchers' concerns about "thought police" controlling the climate of expression in the area.
"I actually think these radical individuals are limited in number. But they exert an influence through manipulation and exploiting the situation."
Integration and Equality Minister Nyamko Sabuni reacted strongly to the report.
"It is completely unacceptable that there are fundamentalist groups in Rosengård prescribing child marriage, harassing women who don't wear headscarves and encouraging young people to isolate themselves from society. Swedish laws, rights and equality apply to everybody, including the residents of Rosengård," Sabuni said in a statement.
Rosengård was the scene of extensive rioting in December following the closure of an Islamic cultural centre in the area. 
It was actually the eviction of squatters who were running a mosque without planning permission.

Posted on 01/29/2009 3:26 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thursday, 29 January 2009
CIA chief in Algeria accused of drugging and raping Muslim women

From the Telegraph and the Los Angeles Times
The CIA has removed its station chief in Algeria from his post amid an investigation by the Justice Department of allegations that the officer drugged and raped two Algerian women, according to current and former U.S. government officials familiar with the matter.
Investigators from the Justice Department allegedly found more than a dozen secretly recorded videotapes of the Mr Warren performing sex acts with other women. An official said one woman appeared to be in a "semi-conscious state".
Both the women who came forward to complain and made sworn statements are Muslim, and the case could spark a strong reaction in the Arab world. One of the women said she met the him at the bar in the American embassy before going to his residence, where she was drugged.
Algiers is one of the most sensitive posts in the agency, as it works closely with local intelligence services against a branch of al-Qaeda that has been responsible for major bombings, including an attack in the capital last August that killed 48 people.
. . . sources said the investigation had expanded to Egypt where the officer, who has not been named, served previously.
Warren was described as a highly gifted officer, a convert to Islam who demonstrated a rare ability to blend in among Muslim communities across several countries.
"He is exactly the guy we need out in the field," said a senior U.S. government official who had met with the accused officer in Algiers last summer before the scandal emerged. "He's African American. He's Muslim. He speaks the language. He seemed well put together, sharp and experienced."
A former CIA official who worked with Warren said he had "done great works in the mosques" in Afghanistan after the U.S.-led invasion of 2001. "He was able to go into the mosque for Friday prayers, could recite the Koran, and wasn't afraid to mix it up," Sounds like he is fitting in all too well.
Warren had joined the CIA before the Sept. 11 attacks, officials said, but quit the agency midway through his first overseas assignment. He went to work in the financial sector in Manhattan, and rejoined the CIA after witnessing the World Trade Center towers collapse.
"People who have talked to him say he has denied" the assault allegations, said the former CIA official. In an affidavit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and posted on the ABC News website, investigators provided detailed accounts of the two women's accusations.
The affidavit said that in an interview in Washington, Warren said "he had engaged in consensual sexual intercourse" with the women. It also said that a search of his personal electronics and Washington hotel room uncovered "multiple photographs" of the women, as well as a handbook on investigating sexual assaults.
A senior GOP congressional aide said the Senate Intelligence Committee was looking into the matter, and that it was not clear whether the case had jeopardized any U.S. intelligence operations.
In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, the CIA came under intense pressure to expand its clandestine service and recruit officers with the ethnic backgrounds and language skills to help penetrate organizations such as Al Qaeda. Congressional officials said the latest allegations may lead to increased scrutiny of the agency's hiring and screening practices.

Posted on 01/29/2009 3:51 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thursday, 29 January 2009
No wonder this countries going to the dog's

Bad news from Birmingham. As if their accent were not bad enough, now they are losing the battle for literacy. From the Birmingham Post, with thanks to Esmerelda:

They’ve been a source of utter confusion to school-children over the years. And it’s a brave adult who can be absolutely certain where to put the little beast.

So to make things simpler, Birmingham City Council has decided road signs and place names should not have apostrophes.

After years spent arguing the finer points of whether Kings Heath should be King’s Heath, or even Kings’ Heath, and if it would be better to call Acock’s Green Acocks Green, local authority leaders have concluded the safest thing is not to bother at all.

How about A'cock's Green? I blame the Muslims. They say apostrophe is punishable by death.

All remaining apostrophes will disappear as signs are replaced, and English language pedants hoping for a return to the days of Druid’s Heath and King’s Norton are being warned to expect to be disappointed.

The ruling was agreed by cabinet transportation member Len Gregory following a review of the use, or non-use, of the apostrophe in Kings Heath.

Asked whether there might not be a place for apostrophes, Coun Gregory (Con Billesley) said: “I don’t see the point of them."

The point is not the point. Apparently this is an Americanism.

The decision was described as “absolute defeatism” by John Richards, founder of the Apostrophe Protection Society.


Moseley and Kings Heath Liberal Democrat councillor Martin Mullaney, who devised the new policy, believes Birmingham should follow the example of America, which dropped the possessive apostrophe in place names in 1890.

Councillor Mullaney thinks we should have a national policy on apostrophes, but I like to see the inconsistencies remain. Shepherd’s Bush is holding firm, even with the recent upgrade of the Hammersmith and City and Central Line.

Posted on 01/29/2009 5:06 AM by Mary Jackson
Thursday, 29 January 2009
Re: Blowing up Christ's burial site

While this would be a grotesque act on the part of Al-Qaeda, it would not be as devastating for Christians as those Muslims think. Esmerelda comments:

Where ever the tomb was it was only a temporary resting place. The important bit is that Christ lives, and lives today. If the building were destroyed another could be rebuilt. It wouldn't destroy The Church on Earth.

Islam is an earthbound religion. For Muslims territory is everything, hence the anguish over tiny Israel. The Christian kingdom is not of this world, a concept that Muslims cannot grasp and see as weakness.

Christians - too many - believe that Islam is another religion like Christianity: harmless and spiritual. Equally, Muslims imagine that Christanity is as territorial and power-hungry as Islam. Both are wrong.

Posted on 01/29/2009 5:23 AM by Mary Jackson
Thursday, 29 January 2009
What should the Congress should do about Turkish Antisemitism?

The Jerusalem Post has a report, today,  'Erdogan's remarks aid anti-Semitism" on Israeli concerns about the rising clamor of antisemitism in Turkey led by its Islamist PM Recep Erdogan.  We had written about the concerns of the Turkish Jewish community about the eruption of official antisemitism during and following the recent IDF incursion in Gaza.

Note these comments from the Jerusalem Post article:

Erdogan blasted Israel throughout the fighting, called on it to be barred from the UN, accused it of using white phosphorus against Gaza civilians and charged it with other "inhuman actions which would bring it to self-destruction. Allah will sooner or later punish those who transgress the rights of innocents."

Yet during the fighting, Erdogan "did not utter one word that placed even one percent of the responsibility for the conflict on Hamas," said the Israeli official. "He has utterly adopted the Hamas narrative."

One example cited by the official of Erdogan's alleged encouragement of anti-Semitic sentiments came in a January 13 speech to Turkey's parliament in which, moments after he claimed to oppose anti-Semitism, Erdogan accused Jews of controlling the media and intentionally targeting civilians.

"Media outlets supported by Jews are disseminating false reports on what happens in Gaza, finding unfounded excuses to justify targeting of schools, mosques and hospitals," Erdogan charged.

The community, estimated to number some 26,000, has seen a spate of anti-Semitic incidents in the wake of Israel's operation against Hamas.

At anti-Israel demonstrations throughout the country, demonstrators were seen carrying blatantly anti-Semitic signs. At a demonstration in the industrial city of Eskisehir, for example, signs read, "Dogs allowed, but no Jews or Armenians."

Posters placed on billboards throughout Istanbul showed bloodied children from Gaza, and addressed Jews directly, calling them "no sons of Moses."

An Istanbul newspaper published a caricature this week showing Hitler flying an Israel Air Force jet, while another called for the expulsion of Turkey's chief rabbi and claimed the Torah permitted Jews to murder their own parents.

Given the steep rise in Nazi-like antisemitism and statements by Turkish PM Erdogan demonizing Israel for Operation Cast Lead in Gaza that imperil Turkey’s Jewish community, what is it that the Congress could do? One knowledgeable observer of the terrible turn of events in Turkey for its Jewish community said that the Congress might resurrect the Armenian Genocide Resolutions that the Clinton White House and several lobby groups forced withdrawal in 2000.

    President Clinton had raised “grave national security concerns” over the resolution, stressing that even the measure’s consideration would pose a threat to American lives. The President, in a letter to then Speaker Hestert noted that bringing the resolution to the House floor “could have far-reaching negative consequences for the United States.”


Now, in 2009, perhaps Madame Secretary of State Clinton in President Obama's Administration could rectify her husband’s mistake and strike a blow against Turkish antisemitism by both criticizing PM Erdogan’s demonizing campaign of Israel and Jews and support Congressional resolutions on the Armenian Genocide cited by Hitler as partial justification for his destruction of European Jews during the Shoah. ("Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?") She could start by stating that the U.S. will not attend the Durban II conference of the UN Human Rights Commission scheduled for April in Geneva.

Remember, the Armenian National Commemoration of its Genocide is April 25th.

Posted on 01/29/2009 7:30 AM by Jerry Gordon
Thursday, 29 January 2009
Peanut Plant Knowingly Shipped Salmonella Contaminated Products


In one of the largest food recalls in history, the Food and Drug Administration asked retailers, manufacturers and consumers yesterday to throw out every product made in the past two years from peanuts processed by a Georgia plant at the heart of a deadly nationwide outbreak of salmonella illness.

The action came after federal officials discovered this month that the company, Peanut Corporation of America, knowingly shipped products contaminated with salmonella 12 times in 2007 and 2008, prompting a congresswoman to call yesterday for a criminal investigation by the Justice Department.

Michael Rogers of the FDA said the company violated good manufacturing practices by selling peanut products that had tested positive for salmonella bacteria in inspections commissioned by the firm. He said it turned over records of its inspections only after the FDA invoked special authority given to it by Congress in 2002 under laws to prevent bioterrorism.


The outbreak of salmonella illness, which began in late summer and is ongoing, has been linked to eight deaths, including two in Virginia. In all, about 500 people in 43 states and Canada have become ill. About 22 percent were hospitalized, and about half of those affected are children...

"From milkless milk to silkless silk
We are growing used to souless souls

Such grafting times I never saw
That's why we have a pure food law..."
                          ----"Loveless Love" performed by Billie Holliday

Posted on 01/29/2009 7:57 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Thursday, 29 January 2009
A Musical Interlude: I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm (Mildred Bailey)
Posted on 01/29/2009 8:19 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 29 January 2009
Clever clever

[Keith E.] Stanovich, an adjunct professor of human development and applied psychology at the University of Toronto, believes that the concept of intelligence, as measured by IQ tests, fails to capture key aspects of mental ability.


Yes, we know. Time and time again we are told that IQ tests can’t tell you everything - as if anyone thought that they could. We all know someone with a high IQ who can’t boil an egg or drive a car.


Nobody likes to say that some people are thick, so, like many abstract words – competencies, sexualities, subjectivities – intelligence is made multiple and unthreatening:


[Howard] Gardner's theory argues that intelligence, as it is traditionally defined, does not sufficiently encompass the wide variety of abilities humans display. In his conception, a child who masters multiplication easily is not necessarily more intelligent overall than a child who struggles to do so. The second child may be stronger in another kind of intelligence, and therefore may best learn the given material through a different approach, may excel in a field outside of mathematics, or may even be looking through the multiplication learning process at a fundamentally deeper level that hides a potentially higher mathematical intelligence than in the one who memorizes the concept easily.


Gardner’s “intelligences” are:


  1. Bodily kinaesthetic
  2. Interpersonal
  3. Verbal-linguistic
  4. Logical-mathematical
  5. Naturalistic
  6. Intrapersonal
  7. Visual-spacial
  8. Musical


Even if you accept these categories – and I have serious doubts about “interpersonal”, which seems to mean merely “nice” – there remains one problem: life isn’t fair.


If life were fair, the mathematically gifted would be tone deaf; the nifty movers would stumble over their words; and the fluent talkers would stumble over their feet. But since life is not fair, some mathematicians can write and sing like an angel, and some dunces are clumsy and ugly. Some can neither write a book nor drive a car, and some can do both – and whip up a soufflé when they get home.

Posted on 01/29/2009 8:31 AM by Mary Jackson
Thursday, 29 January 2009
Hamas Torturing And Killing Fatah Members

Hamas accused of torture death of Gaza criticGAZA (Reuters) - A Palestinian man on Thursday accused Islamist Hamas militants in control of the Gaza Strip of torturing and killing his brother for publicly criticizing them.

Thu Jan 29, 2009 3:55pm GMT

Osama Atallah, a teacher, was a supporter of the Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the sworn enemy of Hamas, whose gunmen drove Fatah militia out of Gaza in 2007 and fought Israel's army in a three-week war this month.

His brother Bassam said masked gunmen in two jeeps arrived at the family home in the city of Gaza on Tuesday. They identified themselves as members of Hamas internal security and they arrested his brother Osama.

Bassam said the Hamas security service told the Atallah family Osama would be released in a matter of hours. But a Hamas government official, who is also a member of the Atallah family, later denied the teacher was in custody.

The family subsequently received a telephone call from hospital that Osama Atallah was in critical condition.

He later died of his wounds.

Ten Israeli soldiers died in the 22-day offensive, including four in a "friendly fire" accident. About 1,300 Palestinians were killed, according to a Gaza human rights group, of whom over 700 were civilians.

Many older Gaza Palestinians scoffed at a claim of "victory" by Hamas once the fighting was halted on Jan 18.

Fatah sources said Osama Atallah, a Fatah activist, had been threatened by Hamas "because of his public and continued criticism of the performance of the Hamas militias in Gaza."

They accused Hamas of "severely torturing and then strangling" Osama Atallah. They said bullets in his body could have been fired after he died.

Hamas interior ministry spokesman Ehab al-Ghsain did not respond to telephone calls from Reuters about the accusation.

Hamas security officials said "dozens of collaborators" had been detained, including people they accused of spying for Israel during this month's battles.

The Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Thursday that Hamas "executed several dozen civilians" during and after Israel's assault on Gaza. Some were members of Fatah, but others were not politically affiliated, the paper said.

Haaretz quoted an Israeli intelligence source as saying a number of Palestinian agents working for Israel were intercepted by Hamas "because the intelligence they provided was used carelessly" by commanders intent on minimizing troop casualties.

"It appears that in most cases Hamas suspected that their victims had collaborated with Israeli intelligence," it said.

Hamas in Gaza has not confirmed killing collaborators. But an Arab newspaper has carried a statement by an exiled Hamas official confirming that the group killed several.

The accuracy of some Israeli airstrikes targeting individual militants in buildings, or trying to snipe at or pinpoint Israeli forces, certainly came from spies on the ground, according to some Palestinian security sources.

Haaretz said Israeli commanders with troops in Gaza were "very impressed that (intelligence services) could warn them with great precision of developments in their proximity."

Posted on 01/29/2009 10:53 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 29 January 2009
Posted on 01/29/2009 3:28 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 29 January 2009
The Fury Mounts

Quaere: How to find a way to confiscate the loot, at the very least from those banks that months ago took billions in government money, and then paid out those $18 billion in bonusses.

Posted on 01/29/2009 4:05 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 29 January 2009
Could The Fast Jihadists Of Hamas Be Any Clearer?
Posted on 01/29/2009 4:13 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 29 January 2009
Jihad As An Internal Struggle
Posted on 01/29/2009 4:16 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 29 January 2009
Martin Kramer Sets Henry Siegman (And Gerald Kaufman Etc.) Straight

From the website of Martin Kramer:

Henry Siegman, who must spend every waking hour hating Israel, has a piece in the London Review of Books, which is never complete without an Israel-bashing tirade. This one is called simply "Israel's Lies." Siegman spends a lot of time faulting Israel for the breakdown of the previous six-month cease-fire with Hamas, reached through Egyptian mediation in June 2008. In one passage, he accurately reports the quid pro quo of the cease-fire:

[The cease-fire] required both parties to refrain from violent action against the other. Hamas had to cease its rocket assaults and prevent the firing of rockets by other groups such as Islamic Jihad... and Israel had to put a stop to its targeted assassinations and military incursions.

Correct. But only a couple of paragraphs earlier, he set up the cease-fire as an entirely differently deal—and accused Israel of violating it:

Israel, not Hamas, violated the truce: Hamas undertook to stop firing rockets into Israel; in return, Israel was to ease its throttlehold on Gaza. In fact, during the truce, it tightened it further.

Therefore according to Siegman, Israel violated the cease-fire before Hamas fired a single rocket, by reneging on its supposed commitment to ease sanctions. Rashid Khalidi, writing in the New York Times, went even further: "Lifting the blockade," he wrote, "along with a cessation of rocket fire, was one of the key terms of the June cease-fire between Israel and Hamas." (My emphasis.)

None of this is true.

First of all, contra Khalidi, Israel did not agree to "lifting" of the "blockade," only to easing it. At the time, the Economist reported the cease-fire thus (my emphasis):

The two sides agreed to start with three days of calm. If that holds, Israel will allow some construction materials and merchandise into Gaza, slightly easing an economic blockade that it has imposed since Hamas wrested control of the strip.

And Israel did just that: it slightly eased the sanctions on some construction materials and merchandise. Siegman falsely claims that Israel "tightened" its "throttlehold" on Gaza after the cease-fire, and that this is confirmed by "every neutral international observer and NGO." Untrue. The numbers refuting him appear in the last PalTrade (Palestine Trade Center) report on the Gaza terminals, published on November 19, as part of its "Cargo Movement and Access Monitoring and Reporting Project." The report says the following (my emphasis):

Following the announcement of the truce 'hudna' on June 19, 2008 and took effect on June 22, a slight improvement occurred in terms of terminals operation times, types of goods, and truckloads volume that [Israel] allowed to enter Gaza Strip.

This is exactly what Israel had agreed to permit. Here is the table from the PalTrade report, comparing average monthly imports before the Hamas coup (June 12, 2007), between the coup and the "truce," and then after (i.e., during) the "truce" (through October 31). (If you can't see the table below, click here).


As is obvious from this table, Israel did ease sanctions during the cease-fire. The average number of truckloads per month entering Gaza during the cease-fire rose by 50 percent over the period before the cease-fire, and Israel also allowed the import of some aggregates and cement, formerly prohibited. (No metal allowed, of course—it's used to make rockets.) Israel did not allow more fuel, but the PalTrade report notes that fuel brought from Egypt through the tunnels "somewhat made up the deficit of fuel that entered through Nahal Oz entry point." (For Israel's own day-by-day, crossing-by-crossing account of what went into Gaza during the cease-fire, go here. This account also puts the increase of merchandise entering Gaza at 50 percent.)

Why do the Khalidi and Siegman errors (or lies, if made knowingly) matter now? If you believe Khalidi's claim that the last cease-fire included "lifting the blockade," you might say: why shouldn't Israel agree to lift it in this one? Or if you believe Siegman's claim that Israel tightened the sanctions at the crossings during the cease-fire, you might say: Israel shortchanged the Palestinians once, so the next deal on the crossings has to have international guarantees. But in both cases, you'd be relying on entirely bogus claims.

Israel has a compelling strategic reason to keep the sanctions in place. (I say sanctions and not blockade, because Israel doesn't control the Egyptian-Gazan border, and so cannot impose a true blockade.) Israel's sanctions are meant to squeeze the "resistance" out of the Hamas regime—and, if possible, to break its monopoly on power in Gaza. Unless these goals are met, at least in part, it's lights-out for any peace process. And as long as sanctions don't create extreme humanitarian crises—as opposed to hardships—they're a perfectly legitimate tool. It was sanctions that ended apartheid in South Africa, kept Saddam from reconsituting his WMD programs, got Qadhafi to give up his WMD, and might (hope against hope) stop Iran's nuclear program.

Hamas owes everything not to its feeble "resistance," but to the tendency of the weak of will or mind to throw it lifelines. It's now demanding that the sanctions be lifted, and the usual chorus is echoing the cynical claims of a tyrannical and terrorist regime that shows no mercy toward its opponents, Israeli or Palestinian. Supporters of peace shouldn't acquiesce in another bailout of its worst enemy. It's time to break the cycle, and make it clear beyond doubt that the Hamas bubble has burst. The way to do that is to keep the sanctions in place.

Posted on 01/29/2009 7:09 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 29 January 2009
Cui bono?

Regarding Israel's purported attack on a UN school in Gaza, here is a comment from Lynne T, a reader of Harry's Place:

So, firstly, one has to ask why the UN stated that deaths occured within the compound, when none had. When John Ging, UNRWA Director of Operations in Gaza, visited the UN school in Jabaliya he stated in a press release, which says an Israeli strike on UNWRA school occurred:

“There’s nowhere safe in Gaza. Everyone here is terrorized and traumatized. These men, women and children are all seeking safety and there is no safety in Gaza at the moment, even in an UNRWA school. This is unacceptable.”

Why indeed?

Perhaps because a factual representation of the “refugees” (the majority of whom were electors responsible for the democrat election of Hamas precisely because Hamas promised to make a war of extermination against Israel) would result in far less largesse being bestowed upon the Palestinians and, as a result, far fewer jobs for the likes of John Ging.

Funny how it works. The Palestinians have been official “refugees” since 1948 regardless of the merits of their individual claims, some of which were very dubious. They have an entire UN agency dedicated to their situation whereas all other refugees in the world are served by a single agency.

And Norm Finkelstein talks about “The Holocaust Industry”!

Bono is another one that does well out of these things.

Posted on 01/29/2009 4:37 PM by Mary Jackson
Thursday, 29 January 2009
And Are American Bombs On Tora Bora Caves Also War Crimes?

Israel to appeal Spanish war crimes probe against its senior officials


By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent, Haaertz Service The Associated Press


Israel will on Friday appeal a decision by a Spanish judge to open a probe against National Infrastructures Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer and six other current or former Israeli officials over a 2002 bombing in Gaza that killed one Hamas militant and 14 other people, inluding nine children.

Ben-Eliezer, who was defense minister at the time of the bombing, blasted the decision as "ludicrous" adding that "even more than ludicrous, it is outrageous. Terror organizations use the courts of the free world and the mechanisms of democratic nations to file suit against a country that operates against terror."

Judge Fernando Andreu said the attack by Israel, which targeted senior Hamas militant Salah Shehadeh in a densely populated civilian area, might constitute a crime against humanity.
"I do not regret my decision." added Ben-Eliezer. "Salah Shehadeh was a Hamas activist, an arch-murderer whose hands were stained with the blood of about 100 Israelis and who carried out the most heinous attacks against our citizens."

The Justice Ministry on Thursday sent the Israeli Embassy in Madrid a large amount of documents which included legal rulings and Supreme Court decisions dealing with the targeted killing of Shehadeh.

Israeli Ambassador to Spain Rafi Shotz will on Friday give the material to the Spanish judge in order to help bring a cancellation of the ruling.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak earlier Thursdsay lambasted Andreu's decision as "hallucinatory."

"Whoever calls the assassination of a terrorist a 'crime against humanity' is living in an upside-down world," said Barak, in a statement released by his ministry.

Barak added that, "All senior officials in the security establishment, current and erstwhile, have acted appropriately on behalf of Israel and from a commitment to defend its citizens."

The judge is acting under a doctrine that allows prosecution in Spain of such an offense or crimes like terrorism or genocide even if they are alleged to have been committed in another country.

Andreu announced the probe in a writ issued Thursday.

The people named in the suit include Dan Halutz, former Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff and Israel Air Force commander at the time, as well as Ben-Eliezer.

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu also condemned the decision to open the probe.

"It's absurd; Israel is fighting against war criminals and they are charging us with crimes?" said Netanyahu, speaking on Army Radio.

He added: "There is nothing more ridiculous and absurd than them accusing us, a democracy legitimately protecting itself against terrorists and war criminals, of these crimes; it is absurd and makes a mockery out of international law."

Meanwhile, Israel is preparing for a wave of lawsuits by pro-Palestinian organizations overseas against Israelis involved in the latest Gaza fighting, claiming they were responsible for war crimes due to the harsh results stemming from the IDF's actions against Palestinian civilians and their property.

Senior Israeli ministers have expressed serious fears following the war about the possibility that Israel will be pressed to agree to an international investigation of the losses among non-combatants during Operation Cast Lead; or alternately, that Israelis will be faced with personal suits, such as happened to Israeli officers who were accused of war crimes in Britain for their actions during the second intifada.


Posted on 01/29/2009 4:47 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 29 January 2009
A Musical Interlude: All Of Me (Russ Columbo)
Posted on 01/29/2009 7:27 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 29 January 2009
An Israeli Soldier Writes To The Gazan Arab Family In Whose House He Stayed

The following letter first appeared, in Hebrew, in Maariv, and has just appeared in an English translation: 

An Open Letter to A citizen Of Gaza:
I Am the Soldier Who Slept In Your Home:
By: Yishai G (reserve soldier)
[email protected]


While the world watches the ruins in Gaza, you return to your home which
remains standing. However, I am sure that it is clear to you that someone
was in your home while you were away.

I am that someone.

I spent long hours imagining how you would react when you walked into your
home. How you would feel when you understood that IDF soldiers had slept on
your mattresses and used your blankets to keep warm.

I knew that it would make you angry and sad and that you would feel this
violation of the most intimate areas of your life by those defined as your
enemies, with stinging humiliation. I am convinced that you hate me with
unbridled hatred, and you do not have even the tiniest desire to hear what I
have to say. At the same time, it is important for me to say the following
in the hope that there is even the minutest chance that you will hear me.

I spent many days in your home. You and your family's presence was felt in
every corner. I saw your family portraits on the wall, and I thought of my
family. I saw your wife's perfume bottles on the bureau, and I thought of my wife. I saw
your children's toys and their English language schoolbooks. I saw your
personal computer and how you set up the modem and wireless phone next to
the screen, just as I do.

I wanted you to know that despite the immense disorder you found in your
house that was created during a search for explosives and tunnels (which
were indeed found in other homes), we did our best to treat your possessions
with respect. When I moved the computer table, I disconnected the cables and
lay them down neatly on the floor, as I would do with my own computer. I
even covered the computer from dust with a piece of cloth. I tried to put
back the clothes that fell when we moved the closet although not the same as
you would have done, but at least in such a way that nothing would get lost.

I know that the devastation, the bullet holes in your walls and the
destruction of those homes near you place my descriptions in a ridiculous
light. Still, I need you to understand me, us, and hope that you will
channel your anger and criticism to the right places.

I decided to write you this letter specifically because I stayed in your

I can surmise that you are intelligent and educated and there are those in
your household that are university students. Your children learn English,
and you are connected to the Internet. You are not ignorant; you know what
is going on around you.

Therefore, I am sure you know that Qassam rockets were launched from your
neighborhood into Israeli towns and cities.

How could you see these weekly launches and not think that one day we would
say "enough"?! Did you ever consider that it is perhaps wrong to launch
rockets at innocent civilians trying to lead a normal life, much like you?
How long did you think we would sit back without reacting?

I can hear you saying "it's not me, it's Hamas". My intuition tells me you
are not their most avid supporter. If you look closely at the sad reality in
which your people live, and you do not try to deceive yourself or make
excuses about "occupation", you must certainly reach the conclusion that the
Hamas is your real enemy.

The reality is so simple, even a seven year old can understand: Israel
withdrew from the Gaza strip, removing military bases and its citizens from
Gush Katif. Nonetheless, we continued to provide you with electricity,
water, and goods (and this I know very well as during my reserve duty I
guarded the border crossings more than once, and witnessed hundreds of
trucks full of goods entering a blockade-free Gaza every day).

Despite all this, for reasons that cannot be understood and with a lack of
any rational logic, Hamas launched missiles on Israeli towns. For three
years we clenched our teeth and restrained ourselves. In the end, we could
not take it anymore and entered the Gaza strip, into your neighborhood, in
order to remove those who want to kill us. A reality that is painful but
very easy to explain.

As soon as you agree with me that Hamas is your enemy and because of them,
your people are miserable, you will also understand that the change must
come from within. I am acutely aware of the fact that what I say is easier
to write than to do, but I do not see any other way. You, who are connected
to the world and concerned about your children's education, must lead,
together with your friends, a civil uprising against Hamas.

I swear to you, that if the citizens of Gaza were busy paving roads,
building schools, opening factories and cultural institutions instead of
dwelling in self pity, arms smuggling and nurturing a hatred to your Israeli
neighbors, your homes would not be in ruins right now. If your leaders were
not corrupt and motivated by hatred, your home would not have been harmed.
If someone would have stood up and shouted that there is no point in
launching missiles on innocent civilians, I would not have to stand in your
kitchen as a soldier.

You don't have money, you tell me? You have more than you can imagine.

Even before Hamas took control of Gaza, during the time of Yasser Arafat,
millions if not billions of dollars donated by the world community to the
Palestinians was used for purchasing arms or taken directly to your leaders
bank accounts. Gulf States, the emirates - your brothers, your flesh and
blood, are some of the richest nations in the world. If there was even a
small feeling of solidarity between Arab nations, if these nations had but
the smallest interest in reconstructing the Palestinian people - your
situation would be very different.

You must be familiar with Singapore. The land mass there is not much larger
than the Gaza strip and it is considered to be the second most populated
country in the world. Yet, Singapore is a successful, prospering, and well
managed country. Why not the same for you?

My friend, I would like to call you by name, but I will not do so publicly.
I want you to know that I am 100% at peace with what my country did, what my
army did, and what I did. However, I feel your pain. I am sorry for the
destruction you are finding in your neighborhood at this moment. On a
personal level, I did what I could to minimize the damage to your home as
much as possible.

In my opinion, we have a lot more in common than you might imagine. I am a
civilian, not a soldier, and in my private life I have nothing to do with
the military. However, I have an obligation to leave my home, put on a
uniform, and protect my family every time we are attacked. I have no desire
to be in your home wearing a uniform again and I would be more than happy to
sit with you as a guest on your beautiful balcony, drinking sweet tea
seasoned with the sage growing in your garden.

The only person who could make that dream a reality is you. Take
responsibility for yourself, your family, your people, and start to take
control of your destiny. How? I do not know. Maybe there is something to be
learned from the Jewish people who rose up from the most destructive human
tragedy of the 20th century, and instead of sinking into self-pity, built a
flourishing and prospering country. It is possible, and it is in your hands.
I am ready to be there to provide a shoulder of support and help to you.

But only you can move the wheels of history."

Yishai, (Reserve Soldier)

Posted on 01/29/2009 9:54 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 29 January 2009
Shiites Riot Against Sunni Masters After Arrests In Bahrain
Riots erupt after arrest of Bahraini Shiites

MANAMA (AFP) — Clashes erupted in a Bahrain village on Wednesday between local security forces and demonstrators protesting at the detention of Shiite opposition activists on terrorism charges, witnesses said.

Security forces used tear gas to try to break up the demonstration in Al-Darraz, a village west of the capital Manama, during the second night of protests in Bahrain.

Hassan Mesheima, the head of the opposition group Haq (Rights), cleric Mohammed al-Moqdad and Haq spokesman Abduljalil Alsingace were arrested on Monday accused of training and funding a terrorist group and seeking to overthrow the regime, a defence lawyer said.

The public prosecutor has ordered Mesheima and Moqdad to be remanded in custody for two weeks and Alsingace to be kept under house arrest, lawyer Jalila al-Sayed said.

The Islamic Council of Ulemas, the highest Shiite authority in the Sunni-ruled Gulf state, called for the "unconditional and immediate release" of the detained campaigners.

It said the move signalled a "grave escalation which will aggravate tensions" between the Sunni and Shiite communities.

Bahrain was plagued in the 1990s by a wave of Shiite-led unrest which has abated since the authorities launched steps to convert the Gulf emirate into a constitutional monarchy.

Posted on 01/29/2009 10:11 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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