These are all the Blogs posted on Sunday, 3, 2012.
Sunday, 3 June 2012
Tory peer Baroness Warsi and her secret business
I am less outraged at the 'secret business' as I expect nothing better from her and her ilk , but that the 'business partner' is/was a member of Hizb ut Tahir is more worrying. From the Sunday Telegraph.
Baroness Warsi, the Conservative Party chairman, faces damaging new questions over her business dealings.
A Sunday Telegraph investigation has uncovered that she has never registered a controlling stake in a spice manufacturing firm with the House of Lords authorities. The disclosure appears to be in breach of rules that order peers to declare their business interests, particularly if they are the principal shareholders in a company.
It follows Lady Warsi’s admission last week that she failed to declare rental income from a property she owned. The peer claimed the issue of the rent was “an oversight”. However, her stake in a company, Rupert’s Recipes, the existence of which has never been declared, raises significant questions over her judgment.
The Sunday Telegraph investigation also found that:
* Lady Warsi’s business partner, Abid Hussain, accompanied her on a ministerial trip to Pakistan where he met leading politicians;
* Mr Hussain has been a leading member of Hizb ut Tahrir, the radical Islamic group the Tories promised to ban while in opposition;
* It is unclear if Mr Hussain was subjected to security vetting before accompanying the peer to Pakistan;
* Lady Warsi has been on 17 foreign trips while in office, even though her role as party chairman is to foster relations with grassroots members.
The background of Mr Hussain in Rupert’s Recipes is also likely to prove controversial. The Sunday Telegraph has uncovered details of his past involvement with the radical Islamic group Hizb ut Tahrir. He was a prominent member of the group set up in Britain by Omar Bakri Muhammad, the radical preacher. It is unclear when he left the organisation.
Mr Hussain and Lady Warsi were on close terms by the summer of 2009, when she married Mr Azam, her second husband. Mr Hussain was in the front row of one wedding picture. He has also accompanied her on two trips to Pakistan. The first was while she was in opposition, but on the second, in July 2010, he attended at least two Foreign Office events.
Posted on 06/03/2012 1:46 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 3 June 2012
The Eagle and the Bible by Kenneth Hanson Available on Kindle Now
New English Review Press is pleased to announce the publication of our sixth book, The Eagle and the Bible by Kenneth Hanson.
We are at a critical moment in our nation's history. Never have the differences between our major political parties been greater; never have the stakes been higher. To whom or to what do we turn for guidance? Let’s be honest. The Bible, which for many of us has been the source of comfort, inspiration and wisdom, has as many facets as a diamond carved by an expert jeweler. The answers are there, but come in so many disguises, from so many different perspectives, that only a master can lead us through the labyrinth that lies in its pages. Such a master is Kenneth Hanson, professor of Judaic Studies at the University of Central Florida, and such a book is The Eagle and the Bible. Here is a refreshing look at the parallels between holy writ and American history – uncovering the degree to which both are rooted in an eternal battle for lean and limited government, in opposition to top-heavy centralized authority. The thesis, the theme, and the underlying truth is that the struggle for liberty, justice and freedom present from the nation’s founding is paralleled in the struggles for liberty, justice and freedom experienced by the heroes of the Bible. Hanson reveals an anti-establishment, anti-big government current in the biblical stories (challenging the “authoritarian” rule of David, Solomon and others) that is today more relevant than ever. The Eagle and the Bible comes to us at a time of great need for insight. It fulfills that need and gives us the courage to meet the challenges of this extraordinary time.
"Hanson compellingly executes his premise of paralleling biblical history with current events. Few scholars have the background, wisdom and knowledge of Dr. Hanson to make such a case"
--Brigitte Gabriel, author of They Must Be Stopped and Because They Hate
Kenneth L. Hanson is an Associate professor in the University of Central Florida Judaic Studies Program. As a young student of the ancient Near East, he lived in Israel, on Jerusalem’s Mt. Zion, and studied Hebrew in a program for immigrants to the modern Jewish state. He then earned a master's degree in international/inter-cultural communication, and subsequently worked for a television news gathering operation in southern Lebanon. Living in the politically volatile region of northern Galilee (subject to regular rocket attacks), he daily commuted over a hostile border where, in addition to his broadcasting duties, he served as the company liaison with the Israeli Army. He went on to earn a doctorate in Hebrew Language and Literature from the University of Texas at Austin. His multiple books and his appearances on syndicated radio and national television (The History Channel), have brought ancient insight into everyone's world.
Available on Kindle Now:
Posted on 06/03/2012 7:16 AM by NER
Sunday, 3 June 2012
I note that the food company owned by "Baroness" Warsi and her friend --newly-revealed as a supporter of the violently anti-infidel Hizb ut Tahrir (both Arabic words: Hizb as in Hizb -or Hezbollah, means "Army" and Tahrir as in Tahrir Square means "liberation," so put-'em-togetherandwhattayagot, bibbidibobbidiboo, it's "Army of Liberation") -- has the deceptively soothing name of "Rupert's Recipes."
As I do not want my custom to be inadvertently supporting supporters of Hizb ut Tahrir, and I would like to keep the amount of money that I know goes to Muslims at a minimum (and why shouldn't I?), and even though when one is buying Indian foods there is always a possibility that down the chain, back in the subcontinent, not all of the money goes to Hindu or Sikh or Jain or Christian suppliers, I do what I can.
When I go to Indian restaurants, I avoid any that have a "Halal" on the window or the menu. And I look for a reassuring sign, such as a statue of Ganesha, or pictures depicting scenes from the Ramayana. And Indian beer on the menu is another good sign.
And when I am at home on the range and must rely on store-bought sauces --- saag korma, jalfrezi, tandoori - as well as store-bought naan, poppodums, bengal chutney, and so on -- I friar-tuck in to dishes prepared with what I have hunted and gathered from store-shelves laden with Sharwood's Forest, for I know that that brand is owned by a British food conglomerate whose owners are not, I have assured myself, supporters of Hizb ut Tahrir, and thus quite different from Abid Hussain, of Rupert's Recipes, the close friend and travelling companion of "Baroness" Warsi, Chairman of the Conservative Party of Great Britain.
Posted on 06/03/2012 8:29 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 3 June 2012
My Favorite Kashmiri
Posted on 06/03/2012 8:28 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 3 June 2012
"The Iranians Have Given Nothing, No Concessions"
From The Guardian:
Iran warns Israel of 'lightning' reply to any attack
Supreme leader's remarks come amid international nuclear talks, damping hopes for diplomatic end to impasse
Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei told a crowd in Tehran any attack by Israel will blow back on the Jewish state 'like lightning'. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images
Iran's supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, has threatened a "lightning response" to any Israeli attack and warned that sanctions would fail to curb his country's nuclear programme but only deepen its "hatred of the west".
The angry rhetoric is routine for Iran's clerical leadership but had particular significance as it came between rounds of negotiations been Tehran and the world's major powers over Iranian nuclear aspirations.
Western officials were hoping to hear conciliatory notes in the supreme leader's speech, delivered on the anniversary of the death of his predecessor, Ruhollah Khomeini, which is often the occasion of policy announcements by the Tehran leadership.
Mildly positive language towards Barack Obama in a Khamenei speech delivered in March raised hopes for a diplomatic way out of the nuclear impasse, but with a third round of talks due in Moscow later this month, there was no encouragement for reconciliation in today's address.
"The obstacles enemies are creating in our path won't have any effect. Sanctions are ineffective. Sanctions can't stop the Iranian nation from moving forward," Khamenei said at Khomeini's mausoleum south of Tehran.
"The only effect these unilateral and multilateral sanctions have on the Iranian nation is that they deepen hatred and animosity toward the west in the heart of our people."
Turning towards the threat of an Israeli military strike against Iran's nuclear sites, the ayatollah warned: "Should they take any wrong step, any inappropriate move, it will fall on their heads like lightning."
Khamenei's comments come a week after the head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation, Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, declared there was no need for Iran to stop production of 20% enriched uranium, something that had been sought by international negotiators at the last round of discussions in Baghdad last month.
The Baghdad talks ended without significant progress. A six-nation group of negotiators from the US, China, UK, France, Germany, and Russia, offered reactor fuel, nuclear safety support and parts for commercial airliners in return for a suspension of 20% enriched uranium. The Iranians said Tehran was willing to discuss 20% uranium, but made no mention of suspension and demanded international recognition of its right to enrich uranium.
Western officials say the six UN security council resolutions calling for Iran to suspend enrichment – which can produce fuel for both power stations and nuclear weapons – could be reversed, but only as part of a final settlement under which Iran agrees to undergo sufficiently thorough monitoring to convince the international community it does not have a military programme.
Officials from the six-nation negotiating group are considering how to prevent a collapse of the diplomatic process in Moscow on 18 June, which would increase the likelihood of an Israeli strike. So far western officials have ruled out the offer of a relaxation in sanctions in return for the end of 20% enrichment.
"The Iranians have given nothing, no concessions since 2006.[when negotiations first began] Why reward that with further concessions from our side," a senior European diplomat said.
Further US banking sanctions are due to take effect this month, followed by an EU oil embargo on 1 July.
Western determination to impose sanctions has been buoyed by the unexpectedly sharp rise in Iraqi oil production, which is likely to dampen the effect of sanctions and tensions with Iran on the global oil price.
Posted on 06/03/2012 9:47 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 3 June 2012
A Musical Interlude: Doin' The Suzy Q (Ina Ray Hutton & Orch.)
Posted on 06/03/2012 11:20 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 3 June 2012
Mohammad And The Kurds
JSPES, Vol. 37, No. 1 (Spring 2012)
Kurdish Islam and the Question of Kurdish Integration into the Iraqi State
Aram Rafaat University of Adelaide
“Thou, God, must not allow the Kurds to unify; their unification would cause the destruction of the world" (Prophet Mohammad’s saying reported by the medieval Turkish historian Khuja Sadaddin.)
While the permanent state of warfare in Syria can only benefit the West, what would really be useful, to heighten the consciousness of non-Arab Muslims of all the ways in which Islam is,and always has been, and always will be, a vehicle for Arab imperialism -- in which the non-Arab Muslims are encouraged to take Arab names, ape Arab ways, learn or at least memorize in, the Arabic langauge, turn five times a day toward southwestern Arabia, and emulate, as the Perfect Man (al-insan al-kamil) a 7th century Arab named Mohammad.
An independent Kurdistan would be a permanent source of worry to Syria, Turkey, Iraq, and iran. An independent Kurdistan would give the Berbers in North Africa ideas, and black Africans -- Muslims -- under the Arab yoke in Saharan and even parts of sub-Saharan Africa.
What could be better? .
Posted on 06/03/2012 11:47 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 3 June 2012
The Euro And That Well-Known "Moment Of Truth"
From today's New york Times:
Euro Zone Nears Moment of Truth on Staying Together
Published: June 3, 2012
Posted on 06/03/2012 11:57 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 3 June 2012
Nabokov (And That Moment Of Truth)
Posted on 06/03/2012 12:03 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 3 June 2012
Gates of Vienna Reviews Jerry Gordon's The West Speaks
Dymphna writes at GofV:
Jerry Gordon’s new book, The West Speaks, is a collection of his interviews with some of “the watchers on the ramparts of the West”, brave individuals who have stepped forward since 9/11 to counter the particularly specious form of global “community” as laid out by Islam in its tenets on the Ummah. An Islamic international “community” would be the death knell for any form of authentic, vibrant community as Western civilization understands that term. One has only to look at all the polities in which Islamic Law dominates to know they are but the Ummah writ small: murderous, tyrannical, and without that spontaneous creativity which is the hallmark of any genuine community. For the most part Islamic countries, except those awash in petrol wealth, are backward, poverty-stricken hellholes. Even the wealthy ones aren’t places a person who values free speech would want to live in. Turkey could be considered on exception at the moment, although as it moves back and peels away from its Western veneer, it too will sink further into persecution of minority groups within its borders, more widespread poverty, creeping superstitions, and growing numbers of illiterate women. When women can’t read or write, the family founders.
It is not just Islam which is pushing for this fantasy global community. Fashioned from the leftovers of Marxism, political elites in the EU and camp-followers in American academia and media have their own half-baked pie-in-the-sky fantasies about immigration and outmoded economic policies as the solutions to our problems of endemic debt, economic “unfairness”, and mind-numbing poverty. For these intractable issues, the answer offered by the politically naïve is often a sickly sea, a universal solvent which would erase those ugly nation-state borders.
This free lunch comes at a terrible cost to civilization. One of the “observers” Jerry Gordon interviewed has lived long enough to see why a nation’s sovereignty is foundational to its continued existence.
Richard Rubenstein grew up in the then-German enclave in New York City. In the 1930s he saw the Nazi flags flying from the windows. And he discovered that he was indelibly Jewish. His family were secular Jews. As a boy Dr. Rubenstein thought this was a fungible thing, that he could become something else instead. He ended up in the Unitarian Church and was considering the ministry, having come to feel that religion was important. And then it happened: he ran into the wall:
One day, I got a letter from somebody I had met whose father was the executive secretary of the American Unitarian Association. He said, “You are going to make a fine minister, but you need to change your name from Rubenstein to one that is less Jewish, more Anglo-Saxon.” That sort of hit me like a lightning bolt. I went home and thought about it and said to myself, “I’m not going to do this, change my name.” First of all, I would have spent the rest of my life worrying about being found out. Secondly, all of a sudden, I began to worry about ancestry and I thought, “I can’t rat on my background.”
That must’ve been a painful realization back then, but he’s had many decades to absorb it since, so his story sounds matter-of-fact. I doubt that it was so at the time.
Gordon leads Dr. Rubenstein through the retelling of the steps that led him to Judaism — he says he’s a Conservative rabbi but a Reform Jew at heart. Eventually, Dr. Rubenstein got his Master’s Degree in Christian Theology from Harvard and went on to receive his Doctorate in the History of Religion from Harvard’s graduate School of Arts and Sciences. The thesis he wrote became Religious Imagination: Study in Psychoanalysis and Jewish Theology
(Brown classics in Judaica), which was translated into French and won an Italian literature prize in 1977.
I chose Dr. Rubenstein’s interview because his political philosophy partially reflects my own. He derides the idea of an “international community”. So do I.
When Jerry Gordon asked him about his political philosophy, Rubenstein said:
In the world of politics, I’m a Hobbesian.
Thomas Hobbes believed that originally men lived in a state of nature in which there were no rules. Inevitably, the very strongest prevailed and the weakest served them or fell by the wayside. Finally, in order to protect themselves, men agreed to delegate whatever powers they had to one sovereign who would protect them and who would prevent them from behaving towards each other as if they were in a state of nature.
For example, if my neighbor and I have a dispute over where my property line ends and his begins, we don’t take out guns and settle it that way. We believe that, through the sovereign state, there are impartial institutions which will decide whether my claim or his is right. However, Hobbes also says something else. He says, “Sovereigns always live in a state of nature with regard to each other.” That is, between nations, there are no permanent, fixed rules. Nations may agree on rules, because it is within their interest to do so, but the same nation that makes a rule can break a rule. There is no such thing as an international community. There are only states with different interests which sometimes conflict…
That is not a traditionally Jewish view. At least not a liberal American Jewish view. But Rubenstein blames that blindness on the long history of the powerlessness of Jews in Europe. They had no living experience of sovereignty.
When Gordon asks him about his own “core Jewish values”, he counters with this:
I think the idea of Jewish values can be a trap because for 2,000 years Jews had no experience being the masters of their own destiny and had no experience with what that meant, what its responsibilities were. As Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren said in an Azure article, “They had no experience with sovereignty.” If you have an army, if you have enemies you know are out to destroy you, then having abstract values that are unrelated to the actual context of danger in which you live does yourself a disservice and one which is potentially suicidal.
Well, there you have one person’s opinion about the phenomenon Americans have learned to call “the suicidal Jew”. They vote for policies which endanger their safety because they’re stuck with those ageless, abstract values.
Now, I believe that Jews should practice justice, but what I mean by justice is to give each man and each group its proper due. This is fundamental.
That means that if you have an enemy who is out to kill you, you don’t necessarily have to kill him, but you have to do whatever is necessary to defang his power so that he cannot kill you.
Nevertheless, I do not believe, for example, in doing more than you have to against an enemy. I don’t believe in gratuitous killing or torture.
In that same article, Oren describes how David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, sat by himself on Israel’s first Independence Day, wondering whether the people understood what they were getting themselves into, whether they understood what sovereignty meant. He was afraid that they didn’t. He knew that neither Martin Buber nor the German-Jewish professors at the Hebrew University understood sovereignty. Sovereignty means that you possess an army and, as the German sociologist Max Weber put it, “The sovereign state is that human community that successfully claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory.” Ben Gurion understood that insight when he forcibly disarmed the Irgun militia at the start of the new State of Israel in 1948. Ultimately, the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians is over the question of who possesses a sovereign monopoly of the use of force. Such a monopoly cannot be shared. [my emphasis — D]
To me, the most basic Jewish value is to survive with dignity as an individual and as part of a people. However, learning from tradition can be a trap…
Make no mistake about it. I have enormous respect for Jews who exercised restraint under conditions of powerlessness. They had no other choice then. The way I used to put it to my students in class was, “If a person comes along and says, ‘You dirty Jew boy,’ I’m going to go after him, but if five people come and surround me and say that, I’m going to have to learn to hold my temper.” That was the situation of Jews for almost 2000 years.
What he is describing here I have heard some people term “underdogma” — the almost knee-jerk response to root for the underdogs. Anyone who has stuck with the New York Mets through thick and thin has experienced this phenomenon, underdogma.
You can see it, too, in the cultures which penalize individuals for standing out too much, for striving. In Scandinavian countries it’s a kind of mindset, janteloven
Generally used colloquially as a sociological term to negatively describe an attitude towards individuality and success common in Scandinavia, the term refers to a mentality which de-emphasizes individual effort and places all emphasis on the collective, while discouraging those who stand out as achievers. The Cultural Theory of Risk defines egalitarianism, prevalent in Scandinavia, as a mindset aversive towards rules but benign towards group unity.
No wonder we have such communication problems. That mindset is the antithesis of Americans’ most obvious characteristic, being “ornery”. The Gadsden flag
, “Don’t Tread on Me” is an early symbol of this attitude. You see it displayed often at Tea Party rallies. Come to think of it, I wonder if the Tea Party has a Jewish division yet? I doubt it: there’s not an Irish division, either.
As Jerry Gordon leaves Dr. Rubenstein, he asks about the latter’s legacy. At the age of 86 (in 2010), he wasn’t willing to settle for a legacy, saying he was too busy to consider it. Like many of us, he worries about Islam’s supremacist ideology.
It is good to meet someone whose ideas on sovereignty are based on the vivid experience of its absence. It is those who have been threatened with losing it who most value what many socialists would throw away in the name of a failed ideology.
Posted on 06/03/2012 2:30 PM by NER
Sunday, 3 June 2012
Do Muslims Care About Existential Questions?
Harold Rhode, an accomplished expert on Islam had a recent piece in The American Thinker, “Existential Questions Facing the Muslim World”. The Power Line blog in a post, “The Problem of Islamic Culture” identifies Rhode’s background and how he arrived at his views:
[He is] a Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute who has written a provocative article about the cultural shortcomings of the Muslim World. Rhode knows whereof he speaks. He is an expert on Islam and the Middle East, and has a PhD from Columbia in Islamic studies and Middle Eastern history. Rhode is fluent in Farsi, Hebrew, Arabic, and Turkish. He formerly worked for the Pentagon in the Office of Net Assessment, an internal Defense Department think-tank. And, most importantly for purposes of his article, Rhode has spent considerable time sitting in coffee or tea houses in the Islamic world, spending time with Muslims, and asking them questions in their own surroundings and in their own languages.
Rhode presents a litany of deficiencies among Palestinian Muslims which might be extended to the global Ummah or Islamic community of believers:
• Not encouraged to question Islamic authority;
• No incentives that encourage creativity;
• No ability to admit failure and learn from it;
• Emphasis on rote learning;
• Peace doesn’t exist for unbelievers;
• Devaluation of women;
• Limited intellectual curiosity beyond Qur’anic doctrine; and,
• Dependency on petro-dollar income rather than broader development.
Rhode distinguishes this mindset from Jewish culture, given the alleged genetic family relationship with Palestinian Muslims:
The Jewish culture encourages questioning and thinking from an early age, whereas the Palestinian Muslim culture does not. What is encouraged instead is the unexamined acceptance of whatever is set before one, whether on government-run television or in government-written textbooks. Religion has nothing to do with this situation; Islam therefore is not the problem: Islamic culture is. Only when Muslims address their culture head-on can there be any real hope for their world to overcome its self-imposed limitations and start fully contributing to the wonders of the 21st century.
Another way of putting Rhode’s observations in context is that Islamic countries are wedded to an ossified totalitarian creed denying civil and human rights and a future - the basis of the Judeo Christian value system and Western dynamism. Under Islam all thought outside Qur’anic doctrine is deviant, women are evil and unbelievers have no standing let alone justice. Apostates are to be punished and even killed. Any criticism is considered Blasphemy. That is unfortunately at the core of Qur’anic doctrine. As for development; Inshallah –if Allah wills it, he provides. There is little to no individual free will.
Accounting for all of the oil revenues of Muslim Middle East states their total GDP per capita is equivalent to what? Finland. How many Nobel laureates in science, medicine and even literature has the Muslim world produced, compared to the rest of the world, even tiny Israel?
We asked Clare Lopez, a national security, Islamic expert and Senior Fellow at the Center for Security Policy for her review of Rhode’s thesis. Lopez is a co-author of Shariah: The Threat To America: An Exercise In Competitive Analysis (Report of Team B II . She sent us this reply:
Harold is absolutely right in everything he says. However, he writes from a totally Western perspective. Islam doesn't want the same things we want....individual Muslims may, but not Islam, the institution.
Besides which, whatever it is they're doing, it's working!
Not only has Islam survived 14 centuries and defeated many non-Western civilizations it has come up against. It may well be on its way to bringing down Western civilization, too....on top of the Buddhists, Byzantines, Hindus, Persians, and Middle East North African Christendom.
We err when we think that Islam will be better off with equal rights, individual liberty, minority protections, and all that we treasure...no! It will not be better off. Islam, the institution, would be destroyed by these things. Non-Muslims and individual Muslims might love them, but the global institution of Islam would be annihilated with acceptance of these principles and they know it. That is why they fight them with everything they've got.
They created a system that works to conquer, dominate, and proliferate. It is all-encompassing, complex, and very, very sophisticated. Why would they even consider diluting that in the slightest, much less giving it up?
We have to understand that all first. Then we must study hard and come up with effective ways to get inside their defenses, the way they've gotten inside ours. But thinking that these valued concepts of Western civilization are some kind of temptation to Islam, the institution as administered by Islamic authorities, is folly....it's not. It is red meat to them, gets them into a murderous frenzy.
Posted on 06/03/2012 4:23 PM by Jerry Gordon
Sunday, 3 June 2012
A Mob Of Muslims Attacks Three Jewish Students With Hammers And Iron Bars In Lyon
Trois jeunes Juifs agressés au marteau près de Lyon
Le Crif dénonce une recrudescence des violences à caractère antisémite depuis l'affaire Merah.
Vers 18 heures samedi soir, trois jeunes portant les franges et la kippa ont été pris à partie par trois individus, rejoints bientôt par sept autres, près de l'école juive Beth Menahem à Villeurbanne, dans la banlieue lyonnaise. D'abord agressés verbalement, ils ont été rattrapés et frappés à coups de marteau et de barre de fer. L'une des personnes brutalisées a eu une plaie ouverte au crâne, une autre a été atteinte à la nuque, selon le ministère de l'Intérieur. Brièvement hospitalisés, les trois jeunes sont ressortis de l'hôpital avec cinq jours d'interruption totale de travail.
Les agresseurs présumés, connus de leurs victimes, étaient toujours en fuite dimanche soir. Le ministre de l'Intérieur, Manuel Valls, a condamné ces actes «d'une extrême gravité» et rappelé sa «détermination à lutter contre toute agression à caractère religieux».
Le contexte de cette échauffourée reste flou. Seule certitude: il ne s'agit pas d'un acte isolé. «Il y a déjà eu toute une série d'actions comme celles-ci à Villeurbanne», rappelle Richard Prasquier, président du Conseil représentatif des institutions juives de France (Crif). Ariel Goldman, porte-parole du service de protection de la communauté juive, précise que «Villeurbanne a été le théâtre d'une agression au marteau à caractère antisémite, il y a quelque temps».
Un climat irrespirable
«Ce sont des incidents de plus en plus fréquents que l'on commence, hélas, à banaliser, regrette le grand rabbin Richard Wertenschlag de la synagogue de Lyon. Le climat devient irrespirable.» Un sentiment partagé par le président du Consistoire, Joël Mergui: «Il ne se passe pas une semaine sans qu'on ne relève des insultes, des agressions, des inscriptions de nature antisémite en France. Je refuse de pouvoir imaginer que des Juifs aient à faire un choix entre leur identité et leur sécurité.»
La communauté juive dénonce, chiffres à l'appui, une recrudescence des agressions à caractère antisémite. «Dans le seul mois qui a suivi l'affaire Merah, nous avons dénombré 140 actes de ce type, détaille Ariel Goldman. Cela représente un tiers des violences que nous avions recensées sur toute l'année 2011.»
«Tout se passe comme si Mohamed Merah était devenu une sorte de modèle, un exemple à suivre», déplore Richard Prasquier, qui ne cache pas son «inquiétude». Mohamed Merah est l'auteur des tueries de Montauban et de Toulouse, au cours desquelles il a tué sept personnes, dont un enseignant et trois enfants juifs. Il a été abattu par le Raid, le 22 mars à Toulouse.
Posted on 06/03/2012 8:11 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 3 June 2012
In Egypt, As In Iran, The Primitives Who Take Islam Most To Heart Always Outnumber Those Who Fear Them
Why liberals got it wrong and Islamists obliged
Islamists didn't hijack the Egyptian revolution; liberals never had the numbers to carry it off, writes Rahim Elkishkya
It was only a question of time before Islamists trounced all of Egypt's opposition parties put together, both old and new, and went on to wrest control of parliament from a suddenly moribund National Democratic Party (NDP), which had all but monopolised the political scene. Yet the most troubling aspect of these events is not their occurrence but rather their nauseatingly predictable course.
The truth is that Islamist candidates have been defeating their liberal rivals rather consistently since 1967 in the wider Middle East. The pattern began to replicate itself on a grander scale with the national elections in Algeria in 1991, Gaza in 2006, and Sudan in 2010. Why would anyone think Egypt would be different?
Egypt has the unique distinction of being the birthplace of the Muslim Brotherhood. Since 1928, the year of its founding, this organisation has grown into the most pervasive, most effective politico-religious organisation ever. The Egyptian electorate got a foretaste of just how effective back in 2005. Tarek Osman described the parliamentary elections that took place that year in his book Egypt on the Brink. The Brotherhood, he wrote, "won 88 seats, roughly one-fifth of the parliament; a number that could have been much higher but for the procedural and tactical interventions by the regime in the second and third rounds of the elections."
Practically every man, woman and child was privy to this elementary fact of life. Liberals, on the other hand, took to arguing dismissively that Egyptians had voted for the Brotherhood out of anti-regime sentiments and, besides, there was no alternative to the Brotherhood for the moment. This argument has been shown to be a misguided oversimplification, at best, as Egypt prepares to play host to the Islamists' biggest conquest to date.
THE PLOT: There was no talk yet of a revolution on 25 January 2011. Protest organisers had picked this date, National Police Day, to protest widespread police abuse, not to instigate social upheaval. Throngs of people began streaming into Cairene streets, 30-40,000 according to activists. Numbers multiplied rapidly on 28 January and onwards.
The day after President Hosni Mubarak announced, in what was then dubbed "the emotional speech", that all demands of protesters would be met, separate demonstrations instantly broke out in Mustafa Mahmoud Square, a few kilometres from Tahrir. The demonstrators agreed with his decision to stay on until September to avert the chaos looming over the nation.
In response to these developments the jubilant Tahrir crowd began to thin, with the exception of hardcore revolutionaries and the Muslim Brothers. They insisted that Mubarak would not keep those promises, and perhaps worrying too about possible punitive measures should he keep his position for even a brief time. Then, on 2 February, three unexpected incidents intervened to reignite civil strife. One was the infamous "Battle of the Camel", where horse and camel-mounted men came barrelling through the Tahrir crowd under the gaze of cameras and of the whole world. Two, activists distributed flyers denouncing Mubarak's alleged net worth of $70 billion after being first reported on ABC news. And three, reports on snipers continuing to target demonstrators in Tahrir later that day and the next. All three incidents happened in the space of one day as the Tahrir crowd started to leave, diverting attention from Mubarak supporters in Mustafa Mahmoud Square and causing more rage. The net result was to smother pro-Mubarak sentiments following his last speech and to draw people back to Tahrir again.
SIZING UP THE NARRATIVE: Did the Islamists really hijack the revolution? Was it a liberal revolution to begin with?
One possible narrative is that the liberals started a demonstration on 25 January, which Islamists then later turned into a revolution. It may sound a little simplistic at first, but it contains a grain of truth.
The first glimmering of that eventuality came on the eve of 28 January, the "Friday of Anger". Mohamed El-Baradei -- formerly head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a Nobel Prize laureate, and a figure quickly gaining the status of a revolutionary icon -- met in confidence with the Muslim Brotherhood leadership. Immediately after the meeting, the Brotherhood officially announced it would allow its membership to join in the protests and bring their full weight to bear on the rapidly evolving situation. Only then did the demonstrations swell to the hundreds of thousands; only then did the demonstrators decide to resist police efforts to disperse them; and only then did the police, hard pressed to handle the teeming protesters, crumble. And again, only then did the protests take the ominous shape of a full-blown revolution.
In a PBS documentary aired 22 February called "The Brothers," correspondent Charles Sennott followed a certain Mohamed Abbas, the person leading the Brotherhood youth wing's agitation for Mubarak's resignation. Abbas took his American viewers on a tour to show off his organisation, the food collected, and the medical stations strewn around Tahrir. During the tour something came unbidden into view. A follower of Abbas had come out flashing a copy of the Quran in front of a camera. Abbas immediately rushed over and asked him to put away the Quran then returned to the TV correspondent. When the latter asked him what had just transpired, he replied -- in paraphrase -- "We don't want to show the Muslim Brotherhood's ideology to the press, it will be bad for the revolution."
Clearly, the Islamists' overriding aim was to garner as much national and international acceptance as they possibly could, but before gaining full control of the country they could not afford to bare their true intentions. A week before the PBS documentary was aired, The Economist published my letter in its 17 February issue where I argued that Islamist extremism had reared its head everywhere that fair democratic elections were held in the Middle East and North Africa, and that the Brotherhood would never show its true face until Mubarak -- the common enemy to the revolutionaries, whether Islamic or liberal -- was out of the way.
In her article in Time magazine, "Egypt through the Lens of Iran's 1979 Revolution," published 13 February 2011, Roya Hakakian pointed to Iran's liberals in 1978-9. While demanding nothing more than freedom and democracy under the Shah, they were soon joined and all but overtaken by the Islamic opposition thanks to a national referendum. One sentence struck me in that article: "The first misstep of the Iranian secular movement came as early as 1978, when they blindly embraced a union with the religious opposition."
This is exactly what the liberals did in Egypt and perfectly describes their predicament. Even before 25 January, liberals had tirelessly solicited Brotherhood support in hopes of achieving the critical mass they needed.
Hakakian's article tells Egypt's story as it has unfolded since 25 January, but it may equally foretell the future. "The few who were smart enough not to believe the Ayatollah," she argued, "made the common mistake smart people often make: they underestimated the intelligence of others. They were confident that they could outmanoeuvre the Ayatollah. The Western-educated, stylishly-suited secular leaders assumed themselves far too sophisticated to be outwitted by the plainly-dressed provincial clerics."
Well before the troubles erupted, the liberals' original pre-revolutionary entente with the Islamists was clear. According to WikiLeaks documents published in January 2011, several Egyptian activists from the 6 April group confidently travelled to the US in 2008 for talks with Congressmen about the possibility of US assistance in toppling Mubarak before Egypt's 2011 presidential elections. The same cable concluded that the major anti-regime groupings shared a vision for the post-regime era. It stated that "several opposition forces -- including the Wafd, Nasserist, Karama and Tagammu parties, and the Muslim Brotherhood, Kifaya, and Revolutionary Socialist movements -- have agreed to support an unwritten plan for a transition to a parliamentary democracy, involving a weakened presidency and an empowered prime minister and parliament, before the scheduled 2011 presidential elections"
El-Baradei not only embraced this idea and movement back in 2010, he also formed the National Association for Change with the aid of high-profile Brotherhood members like Mohamed El-Beltagui. Soon after, he issued his now-famous "Together for Change" petition, listing seven demands from the regime. All told, according to Wael Ghoneim in his book Revolution 2.0, El-Baradei managed to gather no more than 100,000 signatures. But his petition lengthened manifold after he persuaded the rest of the Brotherhood membership to sign as well. Some say the number of petitioners reached over 600,000.
Given these and countless other indications, why were liberals taken aback by their pitiful showing at the polls? They should not have been, but behind this question lies the dubious assumption that the Islamists even had to bother with "hijacking" a liberal revolution.
The Islamists, the Brotherhood in the lead, began to separate themselves from Tahrir's hardcore liberals right before the yes-no referendum on constitutional reforms. It was held on 19 March 2011 and resulted in a 77 per cent favourable vote, with most Islamists favouring the "yes" side, most liberals the "no" side. This was the first clear indication that not all the "revolutionaries" were reading from the same page. Later, Islamists refrained from joining any subsequent demonstrations that smacked of an anti-army slant. Then came parliamentary elections with the Muslim Brothers walking away with 47 per cent of the parliamentary seats, the Salafist Nour party with 25 per cent. Soon after the voting ended, upper house elections were held and the Brotherhood grabbed 59 per cent of the seats, the Nour 25 per cent, but most of the liberal parties -- having boycotted the process -- ended up with even more dismal results than in the People's Assembly election. Islamists have since availed themselves of their upper and lower house majorities, and determined to place the most members on the commission overseeing the drafting of the new constitution. Having shown no flexibility on "Islamic" matters in the first few meetings, most liberal parties, Al-Azhar, and the Church quit the constitution-drafting panel.
The fact is liberals had lulled themselves into believing they had a captive audience in the country. 'Come parliamentary elections, we will win the majority,' they believed. It was precisely this false sense of security that had led to their gravest mistake; abandoning the one demand that might have spared the country a lot of pain: "Constitution First" (the demand that the constitution be written before parliamentary elections). In addition, they insisted on holding early elections without being prepared and with no experience. They imagined Islamists as no more than a small group of fellow Egyptians long abused by the government; they had simply accepted the Brotherhood's kind offer of help as a ticket to power, but they had no doubt that they were somehow the rightful heirs. Even El-Baradei on numerous occasions assured his followers that Islamists would not get more than 15-20 per cent of votes. I have found no evidence for these claims. It was little more than a short-lived power trip. Now, some revolutionaries blamed the military for allowing Islamic parties to form, others hurled accusations of treason because, they claimed, the military had handed the country over to the Muslim Brotherhood. Ironically, many of those same people had been blaming President Mubarak for banning the Brotherhood from Egyptian politics, calling it al-mahzoura (the outlawed).
WHAT'S NEW ON THE BLOCK? Egypt's presidential elections started on 23 May. Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Mursi came out in favour of introducing Sharia as the new law of the land. Former top Brotherhood member, Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh, another candidate, portrayed himself as a more "moderate" Islamist while somehow obtaining the endorsement of several ultraconservative Salafist groups, which in turn have accused the Brotherhood of being too moderate.
With elections results confirming the Islamist ascendance, and Islamist bullhorns blaring away on every street corner of Egypt, a country with 40 per cent of its populating lying below or just above the poverty line, and half of whom can barely read and write, it unsurprising that so many vote for any long-bearded, self-crowned interpreter of the Quran. The problem -- as usual -- is not the Quran, but rather the ilk that happens to hold it for God knows what political end.
The writer is a political analyst.
Posted on 06/03/2012 10:44 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald