'Workers preparing ground for shopping mall in Norwich find bones of 17 people who DNA expert says all came from same Ashkenazi family.
'BERLIN - Bones found in a medieval well in England are probably the remains of Jews murdered in the 12th century, forensic scientists say.
'The burial site in Norwich is the only one of its kind ever found, according to the BBC, which in July will broadcast a documentary on the discovery.
'Workers preparing the ground for construction of a shopping center discovered the bones of 17 individuals, including 11 children, in 2004.
'Archaeologist Giles Emery was called in to excavate the bones.
'A team of scientists led by forensic anthropologist Sue Black of the University of Dundee's Centre for Anthropology and Human Identification analyzed the bones, and DNA expert Ian Barnes determined that the victims were all related, most probably coming from one Ashkenazi Jewish family.
'We certainly know about the persecution of the Jewish population that went on in that period, but it wasn't certain that it had happened in this particular area in Norwich", Caroline Wilkinson, who works in cranio-facial identification, told JTA.
'Wilkinson has reconstructed the faces of one adult and one child.
'The scientists, who along with archaeological investigations also work on contemporary crime-scene forensics, have speculated that the individuals were thrown into the well - victims of Jewish hatred (that is, of hatred toward Jews - CM) that was rampant at the time.
'Wilkinson said the well was discovered at the centre of a known area of settlement.
"There are records of Jewish people being forced out of the area, and of murders being blamed on Jews", she said, "But there was no concrete evidence of persecution until now".
More details are provided by the BBC (link given to the documentary, 'History Cold Case: The Bodies in a Well')
including this horrifying detail - 'Pictures taken when the bodies were excavated suggest they were thrown down the well together, head first. A close examination of the adult bones showed fractures caused by the impact of hitting the bottom of the well. The same damage was not seen on the children's bones, suggesting they were thrown in after the adults who cushioned their fall.'
And on the DNA work:
"This is a really unusual situation for us", DNA expert Dr Ian Barnes, who carried out the tests, told the BBC. "This is a unique set of data that we have been able to get for these individuals. I am not aware that this has been done before - that we have been able to pin them down to this level of specificity of the ethnic group that they seem to come from".
Indeed, if they are Ashkenazi Jewish, given the amount of DNA research that has been done on this and other Jewish groups, it seems to me to be not entirely improbable that one might be able to find living people today who would be collateral kin to these murdered Jews of 12th century England. I am sure that they have family. And they have a homeland. Not in England, where they were thrown down a well. But in eretz Israel, toward which, when they were alive, they would have turned continually in prayer, and which they would have remembered, every Passover.
Call me a hopeless romantic, but it seems to me that the thing that should happen next, now that it is known who these people were, is that the Queen of England herself should make her first - and long, long overdue - state visit to Israel...bringing with her on her own plane, under the care of the Chief Rabbi of the Jewish community in the UK, the remains of this murdered Jewish family from medieval England, so that they may receive a thoroughly-Orthodox Jewish funeral in the state of Israel, and burial on the Mount of Olives.
Rutgers U. Versus U. C. Irvine- a contrast in Combating Campus Anti-Israel hate
"Jews are niot wanted in this localle"
Rutgers - Fouseqwak
Rutgers - the New Jersey State University - has been a battleground between virulently anti-Israel and pro-Israel advocacy for nearly a decade. Back in 2003, you had avowed Communist and Rutgers Law Student Charlotte Kates who became a fixture in the National Students International and Palestinian Solidarity Movements who spoke of “suicide bombers as a tool of justice, and against the right of Israel to exist as a sovereign state.” Then there was the clownish Rutgers senior, Abe Greenhouse who threw a cream pie in the face of Israeli human rights icon, Natan Sharansky, at a campus talk in 2003 before an audience of 500. Israeli security guards wrestled Greenhouse to the ground giving him a broken nose and bloddy lip for his efforts. Greenhouse had the chutzpah to put a note in the Kotel or Western Wall in Jerusalem saying: "end the mother f-----g occupation.” Greenhouse was convicted in a New Jersey court of a disorderly persons offense and fined a paltry $200 for the Sharansky pie throwing incident three years later in 2006.
More recently in January, 2011, another Rutgers anti-Israel hate fest sponsored by a group called BAKA: “Students United for Middle Eastern Justice” tried to paint Israel as the new Nazi, what Yaakov Kirschen in our NER interview: “Secret Codes Hidden War” called an example of Moral Inversion.
Anti-Semitism is also present at the University. An upcoming event entitled "Never Again" promotes anti-Semitic attitudes under the guise of being anti-Israel. Criticism of Israel that is comparable to that leveled against other countries should be welcome. According the U.S. Department of State in a report addressing the rise of anti-Semitism to Congress, comparing the behavior of Israel to the Nazis is anti-Semitic, since it has no connection to reality.
I am not surprised this event is being sponsored by BAKA: Students United for Middle Eastern Justice, which has consistently lodged unfair criticism against Israel. Now, we can be sure that BAKA is indeed anti-Semitic and has no place in our civil discourse.
Rutgers University campus police tonight (1/29) barred some 400 Jewish students and their supporters, including some Holocaust survivors, from attending what was billed as an anti-Zionist gathering at the state school tonight.
The student-sponsored event was announced with an open invitation campus-wide, and Rutgers policy is for all student activities to be open to the public.
However, when the sponsoring organizations of “Never Again for Anyone” saw they were outnumbered by Jewish students and their supporters by about 4-to-1, they asked campus policy to bar students wearing yamulkas – and eventually limited attendance to known supporters of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Americans for Muslims in Palestine and the Middle East Children’s Alliance.
Pleas to university officials from the Jewish students and their supporters for access to the event went unheeded. ”They started charging money as soon as they saw Zionists outside,” said Rabbi Akiva Weiss.
Rutgers campus police said they could not provide a statement as to why the public event would turn away 400 members of the public. One officer said they were called in late and weren’t really sure what was going on. When the Jewish students, led by Aaron Marcus, were denied entry, they gathered in the lobby and sang religious songs in Hebrew.
“We wanted to protest this event because as the children and grandchildren of victims of the Holocaust we believed it to be absolutely absurd to compare Israeli act of self defense to the vicious, systematic murder of millions of Jews, Catholics, Gays, Gypsies, Russians and others,” Marcus said.
Members of the New Jersey branch of Young Americans for Freedom were in attendance to protest the discrimination against Jewish students.
Watch this YouTube video of the protesters being barred at the Rutgers BAKA event. Then watch this YouTube video of a Libyan Jewish refugee protester speaking at the BAKA event.
Fast forward to early June, 2010, when a event honoring Rutgers Hillel Students fighting Campus hatred was held in Livingston, New Jersey. Note this comments from a New Jersey Jewish Standard article about the event.
Rutgers University has found itself on the front lines of international anti-Israel efforts, as well as some visiting programs that can only be described as anti-Jewish, I was very proud of the Hillel student leadership and how they rose to the occasion to delegitimize the delegitimizers.
The contrast with the U.C. Irvine experience, that we have written about in the July NER “Does the Olive Tree initiative Lack Credibility?” is fairly dramatic. In the Rutgers case, the Hillel chapter joined forces with the local New Jersey Jewish community to combat hate on campus spewed by pro-Palestinian groups. By contrast in the U.C. Irvine case, both Hillel student leaders and the local Jewish Federation and Family Services, Inc (JFOC). have denied campus anti-Semitism, funded programs resulting in converting students to the Palestinian cause that facilitated meetings with Hamas and International Solidarity Movement leaders both on the West Bank and on campus. To make matters worse, both U.C. Irvine Hillel and JFOC leaders have resorted to slandering Jewish community activists for organizing events highlighting campus Antisemitism.
What the case of Rutgers illustrates is that there is an important role for the community-not just Jewish-but all good-minded people to answer the call. Is there a lesson for other schools? You bet there is.
In the case of my school (UC-Irvine), Hillel has responded by supporting positive events like I-Fest. In my view, however, that is not enough. Whether or not Jewish (or other) students want to actively challenge the organizations like the Muslim Student Association or Students for Justice in Palestine is a personal matter, and only the individual student can make that decision. The fact is that in most campus communities, there is a void left when it comes to challenging the above groups, their speakers and their often hateful messages.
That is where the community comes in. The case of Rutgers, as well as UCI in the past couple of years illustrates that community involvement can be effective. For one thing, lax university administrators who are afraid to speak out and condemn anti-Semitic hate speech (as opposed to hate speech directed at certain other groups) have to have their feet held to the fire and told that ALL hate speech is unacceptable-even if constitutionally protected free speech. Over the years at UCI many hateful statements have been made against Jews. Swastikas have been scrawled on bathroom stalls at other UC campuses like Berkeley.
It was only in 2010, when Amir Abdel Malik Ali told Jews in his audience that he supported Hamas, Hizbollah and Islamic Jihad and that "You Jews-You'all the new Nazis" that UCI chancellor Drake finally spoke out and condemned it-without mentioning the speaker, the quote, the event and the targeted group.
Even worse, Orange County community members who decided after the incident with the Israeli ambassador to the US in February 2010 that enough was enough and started to organize counter-protests on the UCI campus, were met by opposition from the local Hillel chapter and the OC Jewish Federation. If some students prefer to dialogue with their Muslim counterparts, that is their business. If others (students or community members) choose to actively challenge hateful speakers in a legal and non-disruptive manner, that is our business.
Loosened From Government's Grip, Libyan Weapons Find Way To Al Qaeda
From Bloomberg News:
Libyan Weapons Are Reaching al-Qaeda, Algerian Minister Says
June 30, 2011
July 1 (Bloomberg) -- Libyan weapons are being trafficked to al-Qaeda, including French arms supplied to rebels battling to oust Muammar Qaddafi, Algeria's foreign minister in charge of Africa and the Maghreb said.
Weapons filtering out of Libya are strengthening al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which has clashed with security forces in Algeria, Mali, Mauritania and Niger in recent months, Abdelkader Messahel told reporters today in Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea.
"It's serious, they are reinforcing themselves with arms coming from Libya," Messahel said at an African Union summit. "These are already countries which are weak and this is weakening them even more."
Spain's Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said on June 30 that Libyan army equipment may be reaching al-Qaeda, according to the Associated Press. He didn't mention rebel weapons. French planes in May parachuted rocket launchers and assault rifles to rebels holding a chain of mountains about 70 miles (110 kilometers) south of the capital, Tripoli, Le Figaro reported on June 29. The rebels used the weapons to push back Qaddafi's forces from the region.
Libyan rebels today said they asked France to supply weapons and ammunition to fighters in Misrata, where civilians have died in the past two weeks following rockets attacks by Gaddafi's troops.
"We are in discussion with France to supply us with the guns," Ibrahim Betalmal, a rebel military spokesman for the besieged enclave east of Tripoli, told reporters late yesterday. The talks between France and the rebel National Transitional Council, based in the east, don't involve the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, he said.
The international community disagrees over the legality of providing the rebels with arms. France said its parachute drops near Tripoli were within "the spirit" of the United Nations resolution that authorized the air war on Qaddafi's forces. China said it went beyond the mandate, while Russia called it illegal.
African Union Commission head Jean Ping on June 28 criticized the action, saying that it increases the "risk of civil war, risk of partition of the country, the risk of Somalisation of the country" -- a reference to longstanding divisions in the east African nation of Somalia.
Rebel units around Misrata, lacking artillery and tanks, have carried out offensives against Qaddafi's forces in recent weeks using mortars and light weapons. They have been unable to push far enough to prevent nightly rocket bombardments.
Betalmal said that NATO bombing raids against pro-Qaddafi targets around the city have increased, and that his fighters have reported seeing NATO ships firing at targets on shore on several occasions.
"We notice that NATO over the past two weeks has increased airstrikes, for which we are grateful," he said.
Security forces from Algeria, Mali, Mauritania and Niger have clashed with militants, including Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, in the Sahel desert which spans the region, Messahel said.
The four countries are sharing intelligence and have created a 75,000 strong French and U.S.-trained joint force to combat insurgents in the desert, Messahel said.
Bishop Martinelli In Tripoli Is Both Disquieted And Disquieting
From the Los Angeles Times:
Bishop in Libya proves unlikely source of international controversy
The Catholic figure has criticized the NATO campaign, calling it immoral and ineffective. 'Kadafi is a Bedouin: You can't change his mind by bombing him,' the bishop says.
"If there are violations of human rights, I cannot use the same method to stop them," says Bishop Giovanni Innocenzo Martinelli, shown during a 2009 interview on Libyan state television. (St. Francis of Assisi Roman Catholic Church, Tripoli)
By Patrick J. McDonnell, Los Angeles Times
July 3, 2011
Reporting from Tripoli, Libya—
For more than a quarter of a century, the soft-spoken padre with the almost beatific glow and more-than-passing resemblance to Pope John Paul II has presided over the soothing confines of St. Francis of Assisi Roman Catholic Church here.
As the bishop of Tripoli, Giovanni Innocenzo Martinelli has quietly counseled the capital's small Roman Catholic community from the stately, whitewashed edifice built at the height of Italian colonial rule under Benito Mussolini, its 100-foot bell tower soaring into a skyline bristling with minarets.
But since Western bombs began raining down on Moammar Kadafi's Libya, Martinelli, 69, has become an unlikely source of international controversy.
His persistent criticism of the NATO-led campaign has led some to call him a Kadafi appeaser, and to suggest he would be better off sticking to spiritual matters.
The Libyan-born Martinelli, the son of Italian colonizers, rejects the notion that he should mute his voice, using his knowledge of both this North African nation and the West to press his argument.
"Kadafi is a Bedouin: You can't change his mind by bombing him. You cannot crush the Bedouin," Martinelli declared recently in the shaded patio of a five-star Tripoli hotel as thundering detonations shook the capital, seeming to accentuate his point.
"He is a proud man. Talk to the Bedouin. There is a kind of sublimity to the Bedouin, the man of the desert," he said, slipping from English into his native Italian.
The bishop, who has met Kadafi and acknowledges "respect" for the leader, positions himself as an advocate of peace and negotiation.
"Bombing is always an immoral act," [nonsense] he told the official Vatican news agency, Fides. "I respect the United Nations. I respect NATO, but I must also declare that war is immoral. If there are violations of human rights, I cannot use the same method to stop them."
Pope Benedict XVI has called for dialogue and diplomacy to end the Libyan conflict. But the Holy See's longtime apostolic vicar in Tripoli has gone a lot further, apparently with the Vatican's blessing.
The bishop is in daily contact with Catholic agencies in Europe, and he invariably sends the same message: the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's bombing will lead to more civilian deaths and will only harden the regime's resolve.
While unequivocally condemning the Western bombardment, Martinelli deflected questions about the regime's attacks against civilians. He said he abhors all violence, shifting the topic to what he calls Kadafi's positive accomplishments: a social welfare state, relative equality for women and, most pointedly, liberty of worship in this overwhelmingly Muslim country.
The revolution of 1969, led by a then-obscure army lieutenant named Kadafi, led to the expulsion of most of the remaining Italians and a shuttering of the churches, long a symbol of Italy's brutal 20th century colonization. A former cathedral here is now a mosque; the cathedral in the rebel-held city of Benghazi, with its signature dual cupolas rising from the harbor front, is enmeshed in scaffolding and in acute disrepair. Other churches have been converted to gyms and meeting halls, and in at least one case a cafe.
But Kadafi, a secular revolutionary, soon allowed Christians to practice, returning St. Francis and a downtown Benghazi church on a street still known as Via Torino. The state strictly forbids proselytism and limits charitable activities to church premises, but Catholic nuns staff hospitals and centers for the disabled, orphans and the elderly. John Paul even resumed diplomatic relations with Tripoli at a time when the regime was an international pariah because of Kadafi's ties to terrorism.
"Kadafi gave us freedom of the church," Bishop Martinelli said, citing other examples in the Arab world where Christians face severe restrictions and, in the case of post-Saddam HusseinIraq, virtual pogroms. "Look at Iraq," he said. "They destroyed Saddam Hussein, but it has been very difficult to arrange life since."
It is not lost on ecclesiastical authorities observing the still-unfolding "Arab Spring" that secular autocrats in the region — Hussein, the Assad dynasty in Syria, Hosni Mubarak in Egypt — have been tolerant of Christian minorities.
Born during World War II to Italian farmers southeast of Tripoli, Martinelli returned to Italy as a youth and was ordained a Franciscan priest in Salerno in 1967. He was sent back to the Maghreb to guide a remnant Italian population in a region where the early church had once flourished, begetting one of Catholicism's intellectual luminaries, St. Augustine of Hippo, a native of what is now Algeria. Arab invasions obliterated Christianity in Libya for centuries, until Italian traders and colonizers brought back the faith in limited fashion.
Since the bombing began, Kadafi has sought to invoke an earlier epoch of Christian-Muslim conflict, framing the war as an implausible alliance of "crusader" aggressors and Al Qaeda fanatics.
"Why do you want to die under the cross?" Kadafi taunted the rebels in a recent audio screed.
The bishop concedes that Kadafi was slow to respond to the needs of long-neglected eastern Libya, where the rebellion was incubated. Long before the protests erupted in February, Martinelli noted, Libyans yearned for more freedom, greater justice and improved economic opportunities.
Kadafi "was not able to listen to the young people of Benghazi, he was not able to understand them," Martinelli, who served for a dozen years as a priest in Benghazi, said with clear regret, implying that war could have been avoided had the regime put more investment into the east. "Violence became almost an allergy in Benghazi."
The bishop's carefully chosen words generally conform with the government line: Yes, Kadafi has made mistakes, but the regime is now prepared to negotiate a cease-fire and a transition to an elected democracy. Rebel leaders, and allied Western governments, say that they don't buy it and that Kadafi must go after more than four decades in power.
Martinelli, of course, speaks from a precarious perch. Any foreigner criticizing the regime risks expulsion, or worse, in Kadafi's police state. Saying the wrong thing could have catastrophic consequences for an extremely vulnerable flock greatly diminished since the unrest erupted and sent most Christians in flight, some aboard rickety vessels navigating the unpredictable Mediterranean.
In this on-edge capital, weekly Mass is one of his parishioners' few consolations, a singular source of spiritual comfort.
"It gives us courage," said Alex Attisso, a native of Togo who heads a West African choir, its singers resplendent at a recent service in purple robes and tasseled flat caps.
Time and troubles have turned the former spiritual fortress of Libya's colonial masters into something distinct: a retreat for anxious immigrants, among them sub-Saharan African laborers, Philippine healthcare workers and South Asian artisans, all attracted to jobs in oil-rich Libya.
Worshipers don their Sunday best, though the services with heaviest attendance are on Friday, the Muslim day of prayer, when most don't have to work. At St. Francis, African ushers dutifully seat participants, hand them printed prayer sheets and remind them to turn off their cellphones before directing them to pews.
On a recent Friday, the bishop was receiving visitors before Mass. There was a Bangladeshi woman seeking to arrange her daughter's baptism. A homeless family from Eritrea requested refuge. A group of Filipinos was conveying tearful farewells.
"They're leaving after 25 years," the bishop said to no one in particular, striking a melancholy tone in these doleful days of leave-takings.
At St. Francis, the disquiet of the times has accentuated the metaphorical dimension of the Bible. One passage, about a blind man who regains his sight, represented "a symbol of this humanity, blinded by war, but not losing hope that the light of reason is regained," Martinelli told a Vatican interviewer.
The church in Libya, he said, is being "purified" anew, enduring the latest transition in a millennial drama that has seen it rise to great heights, disappear from sight and be reborn.
The bishop is confident of his church's continued survival here, he said, even as the fate of this shattered nation remains a question mark.
AUSTRALIAN troops fighting in Afghanistan are "fair game" and Muslims "have an obligation" to target them, a spokesman for a Muslim conference in Sydney said yesterday. The 2011 Khilifah Conference titled Uprising In The Muslim World....On the Road To Khilafah, was a day long conference with many international and local muslim speakers giving talks about the Muslim world.
Branding the Afghan war a western invasion, Uthman Badar, from the radical Islamic organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir, said: "If our members exist in a country where an occupation has occurred, in capacity as individuals they would have an obligation to resist."
Asked directly if he condoned the killing of Australian troops in Afghanistan, Mr Badar replied: "If you are occupying someone else's land those victimised people have the right to resist. . . You have no business in interfering with the people of the Muslim world," he said. "Military occupation should be resisted militarily. People there have a right to resist."
Mr Badar also weighed into the debate about whether women wearing burqas who are stopped by police should be forced to reveal their faces, saying it was part of a concerted political attack on the religion
He also refused to condemn tactics such as suicide bombing as long as "innocent non-combatants" were not targeted. He was speaking as hundreds of Muslims gathered in Lidcombe, in Sydney's west, to promote their call for the creation of an Islamic state ruled by sharia law, stretching from Spain to Australia ..
Outside the conference, police were forced to call for reinforcements, including the dog squad, when a group of about a dozen members of the Australian Protectionist Party chanting "no sharia law in Australia" almost came to blows with young men from the Hizb ut-Tahrir event.
Protest organiser and APP NSW chairman Darrin Hodges said: "Hizb ut-Tahrir have been banned in most Islamic countries in the Middle East. We don't understand why they have not been banned here."
The same conference for members living in great Britain will be held on Saturday in London. I do not understand why they are not banned in Great Britain as well. In a related opinion piece the Daily Telegraph thinks that Hizb ut Tahir is taking liberties.
There's something deeply perverse about an exclusionary and anti-democratic group demanding that Australia "mind its own business" from the safety and security of Australia.
Indeed, if Hizb ut-Tahrir had their way and were in a position to rule, public opposition such as we saw yesterday would be a thing of the past. The group rejects the Western concept of democracy. Under the group's constitution, voting would only be open to Muslims. Non-Muslims would also be banned from holding public office.
In other words, we grant Hizb ut-Tahrir far greater liberties than they would ever grant non-believers - including the liberty to state that insurgents in such places as Afghanistan are obliged to attack Australian troops.
Hizb ut-Tahrir exploits the freedoms available in Australia to advance an explicitly anti-freedom agenda. That's about the size of it.
Egyptian pro-democracy activists demonstrate on Friday in Cairo’s landmark Tahrir Square to keep up the pressure on the country’s military rulers over the pace of reforms. Arabic slogan on green sign reads: “No to the corrupt who trade in the blood of Egyptians”.
Seeking to chart a more independent foreign policy, Egypt is taking steps to ease its reliance on Western aid, a development that almost certainly will chip away at American influence over the Arab world’s most populous nation. This week, the military council that runs the country rejected the caretaker government’s proposed budget largely because of its dependence on aid from the US and other foreign donors. Egypt also backed off this month from seeking loans from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank after activists complained that such arrangements compromise the country’s sovereignty.
Foreign aid typically comes with conditions about how such money is spent, which many Egyptians interpret as making the country beholden to Western interests. Revolutionaries are keen to shed the old “puppet state” stigma from the days of deposed President Hosni Mubarak, whose regime received morethan $50bn from the US during his three decades in power. [actual amount: $80 billion, including debt relief]
Pro-democracy activists say the longtime annual US aid package of up to $2bn - $1.3bn of it for the military - ensured that Mubarak’s authoritarian regime upheld the unpopular peace treaty with Israel and kept the Suez Canal open to facilitate American military operations in Iraq and the region.
That aid-for-loyalty paradigm is just another vestige of the old regime, members of the new political class say, and it must be replaced by a fresh model that emphasises diplomacy and takes into account popular will on foreign policy issues.
“The US was keen to manipulate the political situation in Egypt, and this was disastrous for Egypt and the US,” said Nagui el-Ghatrifi, a former ambassador who’s now a liberal politician in the newly formed Justice Party. The Al Qaeda terrorist network was led by a Saudi, he noted, but “the lieutenants were Egyptians,” many of them radicalised under the oppressive Mubarak regime.
“The Americans have to support real democracy in Egypt,” el-Ghatrifi said. “In the short term, it might have some drawbacks, but it’ll lay the groundwork for the future. Egypt can be a partner with the US on equal footing - not as an agent.”[America doesn't Have" to do anything with Egypt, about Egypt, for Egypt.Egypt has no organic connection to, much less an alliance with, or any great usefulness for, the United States]]
Calls to wean Egypt from US dependence were common in the popular uprising that unseated Mubarak more than four months ago, though few political actors reject outright any ties to the US. Private investment, for example, is encouraged, with proper checks and balances. American tourist dollars are welcome, too.
But across the ideological spectrum, Egyptian politicians advocate a new relationship with Washington based on mutual interests, not what they thought was a lopsided arrangement under Mubarak. The hard part is putting the election-season rhetoric into practice with Egypt’s economy reeling from the effects of the revolution, political analysts and economists say.
“Only saying that we refuse those loans isn’t enough. We need to see effective local economic measures that will support production, and we have to stop depending on set resources such as real estate, the Suez Canal and tourism,” [but that's all they 've got]said Hassan Nafaa, an Egyptian political scientist and pro-democracy activist. “For example, we should start adopting more effective development plans for agriculture and industry. We need a new vision for the economic development of Egypt.”[for agriculture, when the Nile waters will now have to be shared with countries such as Ethiopia? How?]
The revolution walloped Egypt’s economy, crashing the stock market, scaring off investors, closing banks for weeks and crippling the vital tourism industry, which supports 10% of the population. Now, Egyptian finance officials are scrambling to find internal fixes so that foreign aid isn’t necessary to cover a reported $28.5bn deficit.[let the aid be a demand for sharing of the oil wealth by other members of the Umma -- the rich states of the Gulf]
The IMF’s announcement over the weekend of a $3bn loan to Egypt came with veiled conditions that suggest “it expects the country to alter its subsidies system and adhere closely to free-market principles despite previous claims that IMF assistance is unconditional,” according to the local Ahram Online newspaper.
Facing public criticism, Egypt’s finance minister was forced to backtrack, saying in interviews this week that “local sources” could be found to supplant the IMF loan.
Egyptian Cabinet officials, quoted in local Arabic-language newspapers, said the budget deficit could be covered with $18.7bn in unspecified “local aid,” with a boost of another $10mn [bn?] in loans and grants from the US, Europe and Saudi Arabia. The Obama administration last month pledged a $1bn debt relief package for Egypt, run through a debt swap mechanism that would invest the money to boost youth employment and help small-business owners.
“It’s not the business of the US to impose or to dictate conditions with regard to these kind of opportunities. We want to assist,” William Burns, the US undersecretary of state for political affairs, told journalists during a trip to Cairo.
“In the discussions we’ve begun and are going to continue, we’re going to find mutually acceptable ways of providing that kind of assistance that fully respects Egypt’s sovereignty but also fully supports what is, I think, the growth of civil society in Egypt and fully addresses the real needs Egyptians and, in particular, young Egyptians face today,” said Burns, who wrote a book on the topic, “Economic Aid and American Policy Toward Egypt, 1955-1981.”
While rebuffing Western offers of aid, Egyptians are strengthening ties with Gulf Arab states such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which last week gave Egypt a “gift” of $500mn with no conditions. Such alliances are growing in the wake of the Arab Spring protests, which the US has been criticised as slow to support.
Polls conducted in the aftermath of the Egyptian revolution show that an overwhelming majority of the population rejects foreign aid, especially from the US, even as the country struggles to recover. A Gallup poll found that 75% of Egyptians oppose US aid to political groups, and 68% think the US will try to exert direct influence over Egypt’s political future.
The anti-aid strain permeates nearly everything in the political scene.
The government is reluctant to accept even American technical assistance or election observers for the upcoming vote, US and Egyptian officials say. Self-styled populist politicians are blasting foreign aid and US ties in their fledgling campaigns for the parliamentary election this fall. Political parties are quick to tell voters that none of their funding or training comes from the US, and many platforms include promises of more “representative” foreign policy, a swipe at the peace treaty with Israel.
“We fought against the Camp David Accords, we fought against the US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, and we’ll keep fighting,” said Abdulhameed Barakat, the secretary-general of the Islamist-leaning Labor Party, one of Egypt’s oldest political parties. “The US discriminates against the weak and the poor, while Israel, the invader, can do anything without American criticism.” — MCT
By most common metrics Lebanon is essentially a failed state. It is arguable whether it has ever been but a failed state ever since this experiment was established 66 years ago. The early formative years of practically all states promise to be uphill struggles. These are the years that are spent in establishing a national identity and allegiance to an idea instead of allegiance to tribes, feudal lords and religious orders. Lebanon is no exception and actually it has done better than some of its neighbours by preserving a modicum of liberty, freedom and human rights. But what is frustrating and even dismaying is the fact that as the state gets older its grasp on freedom, sovereignty and statehood becomes less certain. That is ironic when many other states in the region are moving in the opposite direction. An excellent illustration of the above point can be gleamed from the latest speech by Sayed Hassan Nasrallah.
As is often the case, SHN spent over an hour repudiating the legitimacy of the Special tribunal for Lebanon, the STL, by all sorts of attempts to make it appear that the whole set up is a sham, a conspiracy. SHN does not bother to tell the listener why is the conspiracy of the STL needed and what are its objectives. To him it is enough to accuse the STL of being an Israeli Western tool whose aim is to discredit Hezbollah and thus by association the resistance. He seems to intimate that all of the hundreds of workers at the STL have only one function in mind, create judicial structure and fabricate from nothing judicial evidence that would implicate certain Hezbollah operatives of being involved in the planning and the execution of the assassination of Rafic Hariri.
The STL structure is very transparent and is possibly far from being perfect. But SHN does not, ever, critique the “biased structure” or request a modification in the proscribed procedure so that it can become fairer to the accused. He simply lambasts the structure as being illegitimate. Well if it is biased and illegitimate then what does he suggest to make it more legitimate and less biased? He is numb on this front since it appears that he has chosen the tactic that the best defense is a strong offense. Again that is perfectly acceptable if Hezbollah was going to marshal its resources to mount a vigorous defense of its accused members.
But that is not what SHN opts for. He uses lies and half truths to paint an unflattering picture of the STL and its personnel but then proceeds to conclude in the most bombastic and even demonic manner by throwing a gauntlet for the opposition, the STL and the international community by stating flatly that he and his organization are above the law. He affirms the suspicion that he is the only master puppeteer in this proposed government that should never think in terms of executing its moral and legal obligations to serve warrants to the accused and to subsequently deliver them to justice.
The essential part of the whole speech is the final challenge. It makes no difference whether there is any truth to all his previous accusations leveled and fabricated against Cassese and other member. What is essential is that Hezbollah will never entertain the idea of submitting its members to the court irrespective of whether the proceedings are fair or not. Mr. Nasrallah has acted as judge, jury and executioner. He has determined that his people are not guilty and that no one should dream of arresting any of them, not in 30 days, 6o days, 30 years or even 300 years.
This is not the speech of a statesman but of a Don Nasraleone (the phrase coined by V on Qifa Nabki).This is the language of a vigilante, a bombast who views himself to be not only above the law but as being the state. It is unfortunate but true, Mr. Nasrallah is acting as the President, the PM and the Speaker. Lebanon has devolved into becoming nothing short of a perfect debased theocratic totalitarian state of Nasrallah land. And that is a shame.
Let me conclude one more time by stating that the future for Lebanese legitimacy needs not be gloomy. The power of Hezbollah is derived from their patrons. One of the patrons will most likely not survive and the other is facing tremendous domestic challenges. That is why I believe that since history does not unfold backward and that it is very highly likely for either both or at least one of Hezbollah patrons to be weakened that the anything outside the immediate future does not look rosy for Hezbollah. It just is not rational to expect the irrational to prevail for long. [whistling in the dark -- Hitler's "irrational" regime was only put out of its, our, misery through armed might in a world war].