These are all the Blogs posted on Friday, 3, 2012.
Friday, 3 August 2012
Femen stage topless anti-Islamist Olympic protest in London
Three of them have more pluck than all our Guardian reading so-called feminists put together. From The Telegraph
Members of Ukrainian female protest group Femen demonstrate in London to draw attention to what they call "bloody Islamist regimes" taking part in the Olympics. Two topless women painted with the slogans "Olympic shame" and "No Sharia" protested in front of City Hall on Thursday to draw attention to what they called "bloody Islamist regimes" taking part in the Olympics.
They were members of Ukrainian women's rights group Femen, which has staged numerous protests of a similar ilk across Europe
The Olympic Committee must not have allowed those governments to be represented in the Olympics. They are fascists of our time, they treat women like third-class citizens. This is what we object to, this is what they are protesting against," said protester Reza Moradi, without specifying any countries.
Smeared with fake blood and wearing floral wreaths on their heads, the two women ran around the entrance of City Hall in central London for around 10 minutes chased by a third protester (she was dressed as a Muslim man) before being covered up and led away by police officers. 'Led away' is a bit mild - they were pinned to the ground and trussed up first.
This comment from the Yahoo News report of the same story (same source as well - identical sentences) sums up my view.
Note the difference in tactics by the police. Protest about something Islamic and four police officers will take down one woman.
Yet when the Islamic hordes were chanting about our soldiers being murderers and coming out with filth and lies about them, the police stood back and WATCHED.
Makes you wonder exactly WHAT their agenda is, and the gov.s.
I've managed to avoid watching the Olympics so far, though I may watch the tennis. The opening ceremonies, however, really got under Paul Weston's skin. He writes:
I really don’t want to sound like a summertime Scrooge, but am I alone in thinking the London Olympics’ opening ceremony was an overtly Marxist, puerile, adolescent, racist and deeply shameful representation of Great Britain? For all the boasts of “inclusivity” and “diversity” I felt deeply excluded as a non-liberal, non-leftist, native Briton.
As it happens, I am not quite alone. Eighty-five percent of the British population thought it was wonderful, whilst only fifteen percent thought it essentially an orgiastic celebration of politically correct, Big State Socialist, anti-capitalist, anti-white, anti-culture, anti-monarchy, dumbed down, mawkish left-wing propaganda.
Only fifteen percent were capable of seeing such obvious political reality! This is a remarkable testament to what decades of subtle liberal/ left propaganda can achieve — indeed has achieved. Whilst the battles continue, the culture war appears over. The left has won, which is hardly surprising when one considers the stranglehold they have over television output and education.
The London Olympics were politicised from the outset, and the overriding ideology was that of multiculturalism — whether you liked it or not. We even have the Muslim Brotherhood sympathiser Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari sitting on the board of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) — which goes some way toward explaining LOCOG’s following statement:
“Diversity was a key reason why London, one of the most multicultural cities in the world, was chosen to host the Games in the bidding process.”
The liberal/ left are obsessed with multiculturalism, which they promote with a hysterical fervour. In post-Christian Britain it is now the new religion and all dissenters are heretics. But multiculturalism has many drawbacks, all of which go unquestioned even when truly terrible events reveal multiculturalism to be an unmitigated disaster.
London won the Olympics on the 6th July 2005, and won it because of its commitment to multiculturalism. Less than twenty-four hours later our multicultural capital city fell victim to monocultural Islam, four followers of which self-detonated on our transport systems, taking with them fifty-two innocent lives and maiming seven-hundred-and-seventy.
If ever there was an argument against multiculturalism, this was it. But instead of questions there came an ever-further commitment to multiculturalism, culminating eventually in a sporting event involving rapier anti-aircraft missiles, HMS Ocean’s attack helicopters, Tornado fighter-bombers and thousands of soldiers. In order to stage an athletics event committed to the wonders of multiculturalism we have to deploy a good chunk of our military to defend it from the inevitable consequences of multiculturalism.
Everything, absolutely everything about the London Olympic Games revolves around multiculturalism. LOCOG put it thus:
“We aim to make diversity and inclusion a key differentiator of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. It’s not simply about recruiting a diverse workforce, it’s about the suppliers, competitors, officials and spectators — in fact, everyone connected with the Games, from the security guards to the bus drivers.”
We are all aware of the scandal caused by the security firm G4S who failed to recruit enough people to protect the games. Thankfully the army was called in to do their job for them, but it does raise the question as to why they failed on such a massive scale. Was it because they sought to mainly employ ethnic minorities as per their multi-culti commitment? If this is the case will there be an investigation? I doubt it. No matter the catastrophe, Thou Shalt Not Question The Multi-Cult.
There has also been a scandal about the empty seats. Here is LOCOG again on their ticketing ethos:
“Ticketing: Diversity and inclusion are an integral part of the London2012 ticketing programme, allowing as many people as possible to experience the Games.”
Does this explain the empty seats? Did LOCOG actually act on their words and deliberately hold back tickets from applicants with the wrong ethnic/ religious background? Please, Lord: tell me this is not really happening in Britain!
Even the official Logo was inspired by multiculturalism in the form of black graffiti art with “edginess” and “youth-appeal” being the main requirements. Tony Blair, who can always be relied on to get it wrong, maintained the logo would leave people “inspired to make a positive change in their life”. How so, Tony? At best it is looks like multi-cult graffiti, second from worst the Nazi SS symbol and at its absolute worst, the symbolic rape of London (the rapist is the one on the right…). All yours for a mere design cost of four hundred thousand pounds!
Given the multi-culti background (all Olympic venue public conveniences have been built facing away from Mecca) and warped socialist thinking underpinning the ethos of the games, the opening ceremony could only logically be an overt manifestation of all things politically left. And straight from the off, so it proved to be.
Multicultural propaganda in the Olympic opening ceremony
There were no ethnic minorities in agrarian or Industrial Revolution Britain, yet there were in Danny Boyle’s Marxist rewriting of our history. Why? Why were the girls around the maypole predominately black? Why was there such an over-representation of non-whites? Why did the cameras always zoom in on lone non-whites in the rare moments they were outnumbered by whites?
One of the evolving themes Boyle used — to a backdrop of populist music — was that of a typical family in the eyes of a totalitarian multiculturalist. A white woman is partnered by a black man and produces two mixed-race girls, one of whom embarks on a love affair with a black man. Carried out to its logical conclusion their offspring, should they have them, will then be only twenty-five percent white.
Why was this done? What is the subliminal message we are supposed to absorb here other than Boyle and his Marxist assistant directors thinking it a good thing if all traces of whiteness were to be bred out of Britain?
We have heard of this near-genocidal ideology before. Well known socialist Andrew Marr of the BBC stated the following in a Guardianarticle about breeding out the indigenous people of Britain:
“What then can be done? (Apart, of course, from widespread and vigorous miscegenation, which is the best answer, but perhaps tricky to arrange as public policy.) …this means more than education in other religions it means a form of political education… the final answer, frankly, is the vigorous use of state power to coerce and repress… stamp hard on certain ‘natural’ beliefs for long enough and you can almost kill them off… a new Race Relations Act will impose the will of the state on millions of other lives too.”
I find this terrifying and deeply sinister. One does not need be a xenophobic bigot to have the temerity to notice this sort of anti-white racism. Indeed, I would suggest the true racism here, the genuine racism, is coming from the hard-left as personified by the likes of Danny Boyle and Andrew Marr.
Boyle was fully aware he was historically misrepresenting our racial history, but he did it in such a way that those who recognised his virulent anti-white racism would be too afraid to raise the issue publicly. And it has worked. Not one mainstream media outlet has mentioned this. Stephen Glover (alone) picked up on the Marxist propaganda but skirted around the obvious racial angle. Very wise too, if Mr Glover wishes to continue in his employment. What a dreadful indictment of totalitarian multiculturalism in action.
Boyle also included the rapper Dizzee Rascal as a representative of modern, multicultural Britain. Why? Mr D Rascal is hardly an advert for racial cohesion let alone decency, kindness or morality. The following lyrics come from his “Sirens” video.
We was on the robbing street, I forgot to mention Clayton
Was dis bredder rollin’ wit us, he was scared and it was blatant
He was panned back to the story
Aido spotted a man straight ahead of us in the distance
With his wifey holdin’ hands, so we followed ‘em
Into this little alleyway into the flats
And when we thought the time was perfect
We crept up and we attacked, I took the first swing
Unexpected causin’ panic, we was ruthless
Causin’ agony it was public it was tragic
Me and Aido lost the plot, acting like we were from hell
Put his bredder to the floor, moved his wifey up as well
In the video itself, the young Rascal is hunted down by police represented rather perversely by white fox-hunters (white and bourgeois kills two birds with one socialist stone) who corner and symbolically kill him before blooding a sexually ecstatic looking girl.
Why was such a man with a clear anti-white agenda and a man who glorifies in criminal violence allowed anywhere near the opening ceremony? There is a simple reason. This racist anti-white bile came from the highly politicised assistant director to Boyle, Ms Catherine Ugwu, author of Let’s Get It On: The Politics of Black Performance and Enigmas of Race, Difference and Desire. Her work is quoted on reading lists centred on Marxism and Black Liberation Theology.
The MV Empire Windrush also got a mention but with no apparent historical rewriting this time — all those disembarking were non-white. But this was not actually the case. Fifteen percent of the immigrants were refugee Polish women who had fled Nazi occupied Germany and were subsequently picked up by the Windrush in Mexico. The racists Boyle and Ugwu chose to ignore this reality, based purely on the Poles’ skin colour being the wrong skin colour.
As we know, the Olympic Committee refused to recognise the fortieth anniversary of the murder of Israeli athletes by the Islamic terror group Black September at the 1972 Munich Olympics. The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation exerted some pressure, but no doubt our home-grown LOCOG non-executive, Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, played his part as well.
And why was Doreen Lawrence, the mother of murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence, one of the Olympic flag bearers? There are many mothers, both black and white who have had their sons murdered by disgusting racists, but the inclusion of Doreen Lawrence was an overt statement of black racial politics which had no place in what should have been an impartial Olympic ceremony.
There have been many comments in online newspaper articles by British ethnic minorities driven to fury by Boyle’s anti-white racism, along with many foreigners abroad who just registered total bemusement. I don’t blame them. The anti-white ideology he promoted really was disgusting to all those who realised the underlying message he was so assiduously promoting. Is it now so politically incorrect to be an indigenous Brit in Britain that we need to be airbrushed out of existence?
Marxist propaganda in the opening ceremony
It opened with Britain’s agrarian peasantry being “violently uprooted” from their happy lives spent amongst their sheep and geese before being forced into the Dante-esque factories of the Industrial Revolution, where they performed oppressed proletarian toil under the eyes of capering, smug, stovepipe-hatted capitalists.
This is the view of industrialisation provided by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in The Communist Manifesto, published in 1848, in which they lamented the effects of industrialisation and free trade, and wrote of the destruction of “feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations” that had supposedly existed in the countryside.
It was all rather odd. In fact it was reminiscent of Soviet propaganda films, with one glaring difference — Soviet workers in steel factories were viewed as a sign of workers’ power rather than worker exploitation. Only in the non-Sovietised world are workers portrayed as the oppressed. After all, if you wish to utilise them as revolutionary pawns it would hardly be productive to make them think they were content, would it?
Out of the sparks and faux molten metal came an interesting and ever-moving design of white hot, electronic liquid steel which eventually combined to form the Olympic rings. Meanwhile, dancers with lights formed a star of eerily Soviet design which slowly morphed into the emblem of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, an organisation partially financed in the old days by Soviet Moscow.
And on and on it leftishly went. We progressed with great speed up to the present day, pausing only to note the more obvious examples of Marxist class struggle in the Suffragettes, the Trades Union movement, the Jarrow Marchers and last but not least an absurdly reverential paean to the greatest symbol of socialism possessed by Britain — the National Health Service.
All of the above have made a truly positive contribution to modern day Britain, but why were they the only examples deemed worthy of attention? Why was the formation of modern Britain viewed only through a Marxist prism? Where were the references to Common Law, William Wilberforce, The Pilgrim Fathers, Magna Carta (one of the mainstays of our liberty) Catholicism and Protestantism (as Stephen Glover notes, Marxists don’t like God) great British inventions that formed our modern world, or indeed, for good or bad, the British Empire?
As for Boyle’s take on our culture, it appears to revolve around the anarchist Sex Pistols (played in front of an aged and dignified Queen), Hip-Hop and Rap and our ability to write children’s stories. The token appearance of non-populist culture was represented by Sir Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra, but they seemed to be utilised more as a medium for Mr Bean to amuse us rather than a genuine appreciation of their beautiful music.
Where were the Welsh Choirs, the Irish dancers or the Scottish Bagpipers? And why were we subjected to an ex-Beatle whose waning singing ability was milked for far too long? We have any number of classically trained singers in Britain, are they just too elitist for Boyle and the BBC?
I wonder what Mr Boyle’s views on our monarch are? They certainly don’t appear to be well-intentioned. There was no mention of her long service to this country, just an admittedly amusing but ultimately disrespectful stunt pretending she was parachuting into the stadium. It is hardly surprising she was so grumpy. No doubt the Sex Pistols’ rendition of “God Save the Queen” offended her. It should have done, because that was always Johnny Rotten’s anarchist intention, as Mr Boyle knows only too well.
All in all, the entire thing was a disgrace. If even the BBC and The New York Times mentioned the political bias, then that just shows how bad it was. Labour party members have already claimed it as a “socialist triumph” which is a terrible thing to say about what should have been a politically impartial ceremony.
But of course it was not politically impartial. Danny Boyle is a man of well known leftist-views. The scriptwriter and two out of his four assistant directors were keen admirers of Communism long after the genocide, Gulags, totalitarianism and terror had been revealed to the Western world.
These people are genuinely evil. Although the ceremony was a truly awe-inspiring event, the subtle (or not so subtle to the politically aware) socialist ideology was ever present. Boyle and his Communist-sympathising assistant directors are deadly serious about their politics, something which seems lost on most people. One of them is a woman who specialises in racial politics, the scriptwriter cut his teeth writing for Living Marxism (previously known as The Journal of the British Revolutionary Communist Party), and the theatrical director learned his politics whilst a member of the Socialist Workers’ Party.
Prime Minister David Cameron thought the whole thing was “brilliant”. The man is either a closet Marxist or criminally ignorant of all things Marxist. No doubt many readers of this article will disagree with its content, but I would ask you to do only one thing before rubbishing it, which is simply to watch the whole ceremony again with a newly aware and critical eye.
This is serious. If we have become so brainwashed we can longer see overt propaganda for what it is, then Britain is finished. The divisive ideologies of multiculturalism and mass immigration have already caused great damage to our community, whilst socialism has already economically bankrupted us. Britain could collapse into genuine poverty and tribal warfare over the coming decades. It can still be saved if we act quickly, but we must first become politically aware of the leftist policies designed to fracture our country, no matter how disingenuously they are presented to us.
The New English Review would like to extend all good wishes to our friends, colleagues and associates who will be in Stockholm tomorrow for the Global Counter-Jihad meeting uniting the world against Islamic extremism.
Speakers will include Anders Gravers of SOIE Denmark, Tommy Robinson and Kevin Carroll of the EDL and British Freedom, Americans Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller of SIOA, other Europeans and Debbie Robinson of Q Society Australia.
May the meeting and public demonstration be productive and fruitful, and your journeys pass safely.
Nil de mortuis nisi bunkum, as the ancient Romans so well expressed the decorum that anyone writing an obituary about the recent dead should keep in mind. The death of Gore Vidal spurred The Times of London yesterday into a magnificent outburst of bunkum. The paper carried five items about him, a two page obituary, an editorial with the title “The Best Man,” and no less than three separate articles, and all of it eulogy.
Here is an outstanding example of the way the media manipulate public opinion and so create fake reputations. Vidal became a media mascot by imputing every sort of evil to his own country. That’s what they want to hear out there, isn’t it, that the United States is going down, and deserves to, though it’s taking the world with it. Besides, Vidal was connected to some upper class people, so he must have been telling it like it is. One of the Times eulogists heard a critic on television describe his novels as meretricious. To which Vidal responded, “meretricious — and a happy new year.” Someone will have to explain to me why this journalist thinks that ranks Vidal as a wit the equal of Oscar Wilde.
For the record, I have never succeeded in reading more than a few pages of a Vidal novel. Twice I have been sent books of his to review, and twice I had to return them because there is nothing to them except concealed boasting. Devoid of interest in anything human, the writer’s voice oppresses. For the record again, I can’t remember meeting anyone so full of himself as Vidal. Oozing self-love, he was insufferable. I crossed the room to avoid him. The bunkum will fade fast, but it has done the damage of keeping out better writers and making a travesty out of what long ago was a living culture.
Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani parades with her headscarf.
Aug 3, 2012
It was over in little more than a minute, but it will go down as one of the most memorable moments of the London Games.
A young Saudi judo fighter's decisive defeat on the mat Friday is being hailed as a victory for women in the conservative Gulf kingdom, a step that would have seemed unimaginable if thousands of fans at the sprawling ExCel Center and millions at home hadn't seen it with their own eyes.
Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani was one of just two women competing for Saudi Arabia at the games, the first time the Gulf state has sent female athletes at all. And she was only able to compete in judo after a compromise between Olympic organizers, the international judo federation and Saudi officials that cleared the way for her to wear a modified hijab.
Even that was unacceptable to hard-liners, who said she was dishonoring herself by fighting in front of men, including the male referee and judges.
The crowd roared as Shahrkhani stepped onto the mat for her fight against Puerto Rico's Melissa Mojica wearing judo dress and what appeared to be a tight-fitting black cap.
The drama was not in seeing who would win. In a competition where everyone else holds a high-level black belt, Shahrkhani has only attained a blue.
On the mat, the Saudi looked tentative and cautious on her feet, unwilling to grab Mojica's uniform and making little attempt to throw her off balance. The two heavyweights circled each other for about a minute before Mojica, the 24th-ranked judo fighter in the world in her weight class, grabbed Shahrkhani with a secure grip on her collar and flipped her onto her back, ending the match in 82 seconds.
As she rose to her feet, Shahrkhani gently reached for her head to make sure the hijab was still in place. It was, and the two women bowed to each other and left to a loud ovation.
Afterward, the teenager - whose age is given as 16 by Olympic organizers, but 17 or 18 by her father, and 19 on the Saudi Olympic website - walked with her father past journalists and TV cameras.
''I am happy to be at the Olympics,'' she whispered in Arabic, her brother, Hassan, holding both her arms. ''Unfortunately, we did not win a medal, but in the future we will and I will be a star for women's participation.''
Later, she sat on a sofa in her judo pants and a black Saudi Arabia track jacket and hijab, her father's arm around her shoulder.
''I was scared a lot, because of all the crowd,'' she said, giggling and animated as she answered questions from a small group of journalists, and vowed to be ready to compete again when the games move to Rio de Janeiro in 2016. ''It was the opportunity of a lifetime.''
Her father, Ali, a judo referee, told The Associated Press he ''cried like a baby'' watching his daughter compete.
''She was happy and smiled when she finished the fight. She hugged me and said: 'Daddy, I did this.' I was so proud,'' he said.
It didn't take long for voices of support to pour in - from the Olympic village and around the Middle East.
''Saudi judoka Wojdan Shahrkhani lost to her much more experienced competitor ... but many are proud of her,'' Saudi blogger and journalist Ahmed Al Omran tweeted.
Another Saudi resident, Alaa Al-Mizyen, added: ''Wojdan remains a winner to me and millions of men AND women around the world.''
Rafid Fatani, a Saudi-born man who has a blog called Saudi Root wrote, ''I'll walk out later with the Saudi flag around my neck & my head up high as if we won the biggest gold medal in the history of the Olympics.''
At the ExCel center, fans said they were thrilled to have witnessed history, even if the level of judo wasn't anything to write home about.
''I thought it was great, it's like a little piece of history that we saw this morning because it hasn't happened before,'' said Orla O'Connor, 33, from Cork in Ireland.
Mark Adams, a spokesman for the International Olympic Committee, hailed the participation of Shahrkhani and a female athlete from Qatar who competed in another event.
''It is a great symbol. It is a great message to women in those countries,'' he said. ''Did we expect them to win gold medals? Probably not, but they're here, they're competing and I think we should be very happy.''
Shahrkhani's opponent also had kind words, and said fears the hijab would get in the way, or even be dangerous, were overblown.
''There was no problem at all with the hijab. I think everyone has a right to their religion and to be given an opportunity,'' Mojica said. ''This is no problem in judo.''
In many ways, however, the young Saudi's story is just beginning.
Back home, some hard-liners have urged her not to jeopardize her place in the afterlife for a fleeting bit of fame on earth. Others have warned that she and her family could face ostracism when she goes home.
''She will definitely face difficulties (back home),'' Hashem Abdo Hashem, editor-in-chief of Saudi's Arabic daily newspaper Okaz, told The Associated Press. ''The society here will look at her negatively.''
Saudi women face widespread restrictions in nearly all aspects of public and private life, particularly under guardianship laws that require them to have a male relative's permission before they can travel abroad, work, marry, get divorced or even be treated at some hospitals. It is also the only country in the world that forbids women - both Saudi and foreign - from driving. Some women who have challenged the driving ban have even been detained.
Recently, King Abdullah has pushed for some limited reforms in the face of opposition from the country's ultraconservative clerics. Women have been promised the ability to run and vote in municipal elections in 2015, and a new university near Jiddah allows men and women to study together in contrast to the strict general separation of the sexes across the kingdom.
The decision to allow Shahrkhani and another U.S.-based Saudi woman to compete in the games was an extension of those reforms.
After the match, Shahrkhani looked to the future, both for her and many other women in her country.
''Hopefully,'' she said, ''this is the beginning of a new era.''
Shafilea Ahmed's unrepentant father and his wife Farzana were jailed for at least 25 years each today for the murder of their daughter Shafilea.
Shortly before the sentence Iftikhar Ahmed told guards to 'f*** off' as they tried to escort him down to the cell.
He and his wife had been found guilty of killing the 17-year-old because she wanted a Western lifestyle. He had held a plastic bag in the mouth of 17-year-old daughter Shafilea until she stopped breathing. His wife Farzana, had urged him on with the words “just finish it here” at their Warrington home in September 2003. Taxi driver Mr Ahmed then drove the body to the Lake District where it was found on the banks of the River Kent the following February.
Today, after the sentence at Chester Crown Court, police praised the courage of Shafilea's younger sister Alesha.
Paul Whittaker, Chief Crown Prosecutor of CPS Mersey-Cheshire, said: "Shafilea Ahmed was 17 when she died and her 26th birthday fell during the course of this trial. The tragic circumstances of her death must be the focus of our thoughts today. . . The statement of Alesha Ahmed, Shafilea's younger sister, was crucial to our case and today's result is a testament to her courage over the last two years.
"The word 'shame' has been heard many times during the course of this trial, but the shame is not on Shafilea, it is on her parents. Why did they abuse her? Why did they kill her? Put simply, it was because she challenged their regime and refused to conform to their expectations. She wanted to choose how she lived her life and who she married, choices that are fundamental freedoms for any citizen of the United Kingdom. There is no honour in murder and Iftikhar and Farzana Ahmed are now starting life sentences for abusing and killing their daughter."
Police inquiries into the so-called "honour killing" were frustrated for eight years until Alesha finally revealed that she and the rest of her siblings had witnessed the murder. They had been too frightened to reveal the truth because their father had threatened to kill them too.
Mrs Ahmed always supported her husband’s claims that Shafilea had merely run away from home. But in court she dramatically changed her story admitting she had seen him slap their daughter twice when she refused to name a boy who had rung her mobile phone.
Both Mr Ahmed 52, and Mrs Ahmed, 49, denied murder but were convicted by the jury after a 10-week trial. Mr Justice Roderick Evans said he would pass sentence at 2.15pm today.
As Iftikhar Ahmed was taken down to the cells, he turned to police officers sitting nearby and said: "F*** off."
Mr Justice Roderick Evans was due to impose the mandatory sentences of life imprisonment later this afternoon.
Speaking after the verdicts, Shafilea's close friend, Melissa Powner, read a statement to the media in which she paid tribute to the teenager and spoke about the pain of having to watch as her killers roamed free.
Miss Powner said: "We have waited for this day for many years. We have watched as her killers roamed free. Yet today we heard those important words - words that have finally brought our friend the justice she deserves. Shafilea was a caring, high-spirited and brave young lady - who, even in her toughest times, always strived to remain positive and hopeful that one day she too would be able to live the peaceful and happy life that she deserved.
"Shafilea was an amazing friend, who, no matter what her own situation was, would always strive to look out for others - a quality that we truly miss.
Shafilea was an extremely intelligent young lady who we have no doubt would have accomplished her personal ambitions of becoming a lawyer - yet this opportunity was unfairly snatched away from her when her life was ruthlessly taken for reasons we cannot even begin to comprehend, reasons that, still, other young girls like Shafilea have to face on a daily basis behind closed doors.
"If there is one thing that we pray will come from this, it is that her beautiful face and tragic story will inspire others to seek help and make them realise that this kind of vile treatment, no matter what culture or background they are from, is not acceptable and there is a way out."
Diptendu Dutta/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesBodo tribal villagers walk amidst the debris of their burnt homes in Mojati village in Kokrajhar district, Assam on July 26, 2012.
KOKRAJHAR/CHIRANG, Assam — Almost two weeks after their village was burned by rioters, a group of Bodo men sneaked back to see the charred remains of their houses. All their livestock, except the pigs, were gone. “Right now, standing here, I am petrified,” said Kalidas Brahmo, a farmer, walking through the rubble of his home.
Bangaldoba village Part I in Kokrajhar district was attacked on the afternoon of July 23 by Muslims, villagers said. “They came with sickles, swords, sticks, spears, and all us of took off together,” said Mr. Brahmo, 32. “The women and children ran in front, and the men were behind them.”
“As we looked back, we saw our houses burning,” he continued.
Betwa Sharma for The New York TimesKalidas Bramho surveys the wreckage of his house in Bangaldoba village in Kokrajhar district, Assam, July 31, 2012.
At least 53 people have been killed in riots between the Bodo tribals and Muslims, which started on July 19. Many of the latter are Bengali migrants from Bangladesh or their kin crossed the border generations ago. The clashes occurred in the Muslim-majority Dhubri district, as well as the districts of Kokrajhar and Chirang, administered by the autonomous Bodoland Territorial Council.
The Bodos fear losing power as the growing population of Muslims changes the demographics, and they contend that most of the Muslims are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. “Encroachment by Muslims is going on in almost all the government and common land, which include protected forests as well as water bodies,” said Derhasat Basumatary, executive member of the council.
Muslim women at a refugee camp in Chirang, who had fled Bodo attacks on their village, responded angrily to the accusations of that they are Bangladeshi encroachers. “My grandfather came here, and I was born here, so Assam is my homeland,” said Zobeeda Begum, 42. “Where do they want me to go?”
European Pressphoto Agency
A Bodo girl puts her hand over her grandmother’s hands for emotional support in a relief camp in the riot-affected Kokrajhar district of Assam on 27 July 2012.
Even before the violence erupted, the women said, their village of Chatipur was regularly attacked by Bodos with stones. “Every night, our men went to guard the village and now this place,” said Ms. Zobeeda.
People on both sides said that this latest collision was avoidable.
They faulted the government for not beefing up security this summer after the killing of two Muslim boys and four Bodo men. Even the army arrived late to quell the riots. The state and central government, both led by the Congress Party, have blamed each other.
L.K. Advani, a Bhartiya Janata Party leader, said Tuesday that Bangladeshi immigrants were responsible for the land grabs, the ethnic tensions and the changing population profile of Assam. “The Congress deserves to be punished for its collusion in the massive influx of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh,” he said.
On Tuesday, Tarun Gogoi, Assam’s chief minister, responded that the opposition party did not act to stop the illegal immigration when it was in power and that illegal immigrants were not responsible for the riots.
Tens of thousands of Bodos and Muslims are now crammed into unprotected temporary camps, with only one toilet for around 3,000 inhabitants staying in a madrassa of Chirang. “It is dirty, but we have nowhere else to go,” said Hazra Khatu, a 50-year-old widow.
Mr. Brahmo is living in a school about 10 kilometers (6 miles) away from his village. The farmer, who returned on Tuesday to assess the damage for the first time, stared at the destruction in disbelief. “Hindus and Muslims have always lived together here,” he said. “Even when violence started, we agreed that we would not fight here.”
These Bodo villagers refuse to be labeled as Muslim haters. They employed 2,000 Muslim agricultural laborers to plough their fields in exchange for half the produce. “I had eight Muslims work in my field,” said Laisang Brahmo, a 38-year-old farmer, whose house was burned down. “That relationship is over.”
Betwa Sharma for The New York TimesMohammed Moinul Haq in Bangaldoba village Part 2 in Kokrajhar district, Assam, July 31, 2012.
The Muslim labor came from the bordering Bangaldoba village Part II. Mohammed Moinul Haq, a farmhand on a Bodo field, is saddened by the plight of his neighbors. “Yes, we agreed to no fighting,” Mr. Haq, 68, declared. “We have eaten from the same plate, and there was no bad blood.”
Several villagers from Bangaldoba said that Muslims from Part II were not their attackers. “I did not recognize them,” said Laisang Brahmo, who is not related to Kalidas Brahmo. “After the attack, we even called some of our Muslim friends to go see if it was safe for us to visit, and they expressed sympathy.”
The Muslim villagers insist that the attackers came from outside, but some Bodos suspect that Muslims from Part II did show the attackers their houses, as not all of them work in the Bodo fields.
Mr. Haq said the flight of the Bodos has snatched away the livelihood of Muslims who don’t have their own land. “We haven’t thought of a new way to earn yet,” he said. “We don’t know if they will be back, and even if they do, we are too scared to work for them now.”
On July 30, Mr. Gogoi announced that refugees will be sent back in 15 days. The villagers of Bangaldoba Part I, which hardly has a house standing, wondered if the minister was joking. No official, they say, has asked them about the requirements to restore their village.
Betwa Sharma for The New York Times
Anita Basumatary at the Bodo refugee camp in Kokrajhar district, Assam, July 31, 2012.
Abject fear supersedes their monetary losses. Anita Basumatari, a 27-year-old Bodo farmer at the camp, is worried about missing this year’s rice sowing time, which lasts until September. Her family also employed Muslim labor. “We don’t hate them, but we cannot go back without proper security,” she said. “Even here, there is no police or army protecting us.”
Mrs. Basumatari lost her mother-in-law in the violence. Plagued by paralysis, she could not run along with the villagers who recalled that the attackers came from three sides. They ran north through the flood waters. “She had become too fat,” said Mrs. Basumatari. “We could not carry her with us.” The elderly woman, alone in the village on July 24, was stabbed with a knife in the back and neck.
Bodoland continues to be under curfew from late evening to early morning. Army patrols and a stream of noisy police cars, flanking officials, now dot the lush green landscape of colorfully dressed women working in tea and rubber plantations surrounded by rolling hills.
Even the non-Bodo Assamese crave normalcy. Locals say that prices of vegetables, grown mostly by Muslims, have doubled since the Muslims fled their villages.
Prabin Brahmo, a 44-year-old schoolmaster from Bangaldoba Part 1, pointed out that it would be difficult but essential for Bodos and Muslims to trust each other again. “It’s an old bond,” he said, tearing up. ‘We need their vegetables, and when they want a cow, they come to us.”
Tolerance is an overrated virtue, though not so overrated as diversity. From The Telegraph:
Shafilea Ahmed's parents have been found guilty of her murder. The beautiful 17-year-old Cheshire schoolgirl was killed by her own mother and father in a brutal honour killing they kept hidden for nine years.
Even though I'd suspected, like everyone else who's been following the tragic case, that Iftikhar Ahmed and his wife Farzana were responsible for their daughter's murder, I'm desperately sad. Can religion really lead a mother and father to kill their own child? It is clear that in the Ahmeds' case, this was so: Alesha, the victim's surviving sister, testified in court that her parents openly acknowledged that they must do away with the rebellious teenager. She had adopted "western ways" , and brought shame on their family.
Once a Muslim girl hits puberty, the most conservative parents will pluck her out of school where she risks contamination from western peers, and if she is lucky they continue her lessons at home. If she is unlucky, they send her back to Pakistan, in an arranged marriage usually to a much older man. I see this as a very strong argument in favour of more Muslim faith schools: only when they feel their daughters are in a safe Muslim school will parents allow them to continue their education past puberty.
But it is also a very serious indictment of an intolerant immigrant culture. When Muslim parents hate their host culture so much that they will kill a child who seems to embrace it, then they are guilty of intolerance – the kind that non-Muslims are wary of showing, lest they be branded racist, or bigoted. A tragedy like Shafilea's makes me feel intolerant.
What Mr. Justice Evans Said About Immiscible, Inadmissible Islam
On sentencing, Mr Justice Evans told the couple: "A desire that she understood and appreciated the cultural heritage from which she came is perfectly understandable, but an expectation that she live in a sealed cultural environment separate from the culture of the country in which she lived was unrealistic, destructive and cruel."
He added: "You killed one daughter, but you have blighted the lives of your remaining children.
"Alesha escaped but she is unlikely to be able to avoid the legacy of her upbringing.
"Mevish, after a period of trying to live independently, was recaptured and brought home, and has since become compliant with your wishes."
He added: "As to Junyad, he remains supportive, especially of you Iftikhar Ahmed.
"Whether that is simply out of filial affection or the result of the warped values you instilled in him is impossible to tell.
"There is only one sentence that I can impose upon you and that is a sentence of imprisonment for life."
The last paragraph of the review in the National Post by Robert Fulford:
When Arab countries began refusing visas to Jews, Lewis boycotted them rather than disguise his background; still, he was delighted by a New York colleague who successfully stated her religion on the application as “Seventh Avenue Adventist.” He cherishes paradox when used as a punch line, especially if it distills wisdom. Once he heard a Turkish general say that the Americans are poor allies, since you never can know “when they will stab themselves in the back.”
Bernard Lewis’ new book, Notes on a Century: Reflections of a Middle East Historian, written at the age of 95, is essentially his autobiography. Since he is, above all, a scholar, much of his life has been thinking and writing. Not surprisingly, the book recounts the gestational process of a number of his major works. Lewis is the author of more than 30 books. This leads him to wonder, in 100 years, which of his works will be remembered? I venture to say that it will not be this one, nor does he mean it to be. This is a breezy, episodic, conversational book of reflections, aperçus, anecdotes, and some very sharp observations. It is what is called a “good read.” It is not particularly profound or deep. It only glancingly refers to ideas that Lewis has developed at greater length in his earlier works. He refers to them rather than repeating them, and places their development in the context of his long life.
Therefore, this is not the Lewis book with which you should begin. First, become conversant with his deep scholarship in the history of the Middle East. Then, you will no doubt be driven to know more about the man himself, and that you can find entertainingly set forth in Notes on a Century.
For instance, I have read a good number of Lewis’ books, but none of them prepared me for the humor in this one. After all, how amusing could What Went Wrong?: The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East or The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror be? However, it turns out that Lewis is a very funny, witty man. Here is a sample:
When a French colleague was arrested in Istanbul during the war for having trespassed in a security zone, the Frenchman asked the inspector, “why since there are forbidden zones, don’t you have notices up saying forbidden zone, entry forbidden? The inspector looked at him in astonishment and said, “if we did that we’d never catch anybody.”
A Turkish general told Lewis, “The real problem with having the Americans as your allies is you never know when they will turn around and stab themselves in the back.”
A quip at the time of the U.S. deployment to Saudi Arabia and the liberation of Kuwait was that the marching song of the Saudi Arabian armed forces was “Onward Christian Soldiers.”
Because the United States did not finish the job of dethroning Saddam Hussein after its invasion of Kuwait, Lewis wryly remarks that Desert Storm should have been known as “Kuwaitus Interruptus.”
Of course, there are more serious things in this book, and a great deal of common sense. Lewis is famous for coining the phrase “the clash of civilizations,” and he dedicates one chapter to that title. He begins it by saying some curious things about Christianity. Concerning it and Islam, he claims that, “their message is that only their religion can save you. If you accept it, you will be saved.” Presumably, if you don’t, you won’t. This, of course, is not the teaching of Christianity, which claims that salvation is only through the merits of Jesus Christ, not that non-Christians cannot be saved.
Lewis believes that the two religions are alike both in their universal claims to truth and their mandatory evangelization, which puts them on the path of an inevitable clash. They are, he says, “almost identical in their self perceived mission.” This is certainly a disputable assertion, as the self-understanding of a Christian and a Muslim are completely different. Also, the West is now so solidly post-Christian that the antipathy between the two religions, which undoubtedly explains a great deal of what happened in the past 1400 years, hardly seems the same generator of conflict today. Muslims would probably be hard put to find much real Christian faith in the West. What they see instead is godlessness, which, of course, repels them even more. At the same time, Lewis makes clear that there is within Islam a conflation of faith and power and an impetus for worldly dominance that has no parallel in either Christianity or Judaism. The rhetoric of resurgent Islam is in many ways the same as it was at the advent of the struggle against non-Muslims in the seventh century.
In any case, as Lewis states, this clash is being resumed today because of a reanimated Islam. Lewis was one of the first to point to the pronounced “surge in religious passion” back in the 1970s. “Muslim fundamentalists,” he notes, “are not worried about liberal theology, because there isn’t any, and they are not worried about criticism of the Koran, because that has not been an issue.” What they want is to restore Sharia and to expunge their lands of Western influences. The lead organization in this resurgence is the Muslim Brotherhood, founded in 1928 in reaction to the abolition of the caliphate by Atatürk in 1924. Lewis has been one of the strongest voices warning about the consequences of the Muslim Brotherhood’s ascendancy in the current struggles in the Middle East. Unfortunately, since this book’s publication, they have come even closer to success, a prospect that leaves the current U.S. State Department apparently unconcerned. (Incidentally, President Barack Obama goes unmentioned in this book, which is perhaps another reason to read it.)
The book delves into several of the controversies in which Lewis has been involved. He goes over Edward Said’s profoundly misguided attacks against him; he recounts the brouhaha, legal and otherwise, over his refusal to label the Turkish slaughter of Armenians as “genocide”; and he delves into the issue of the treatment of Jews in Islam, about which he is fairly favorable. Lewis thinks the virulent anti-Semitism now present in Islam is an importation from the West, though this seems to stand against the substantial amount of historical evidence compiled in Andrew Bostom’s book, The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism, and in works by Bat Ye’or and others.
Lewis was also a teacher. Some of the inside baseball concerning the academic world in this book may not be of interest to the general reader. But it is refreshing to hear Lewis say that the struggle over the future of Middle East studies in academia is “between enforced ideology and freedom.” In his fight for freedom and against ideology, he helped start the Middle East Studies Association in 2007. It is also bracing to hear him dismiss Marxist influences so robustly: “if you really know anything about Middle Eastern history, Marxist analysis just doesn’t work.”
Lewis’ remarks on policy are brief and trenchant. Concerning his influence in the George W. Bush administration, he explains that, “My job was not to offer policy suggestions but to provide background.” As part of that background, he writes that, ”President Jimmy Carter’s letter appealing to Khomeini as one believer to another, the American rejection of the Shah, and the unwillingness to help a former friend, all helped to convince people in Iran, and elsewhere in the Middle East, that it was safer and more profitable to be an enemy rather than a friend of the United States.” According to Lewis, Iran originally had no intention of keeping hostages after the U.S. embassy was seized, but the meek response from Washington provoked Khomeini to take maximum advantage. The rest, as they say, is history.
The failure to finish off Saddam Hussein after the first Gulf War was, according to Lewis, catastrophic. Indeed, it was, especially for the Kurds and Shi’a whom the U.S. had encouraged to rise up, and then abandoned to the slaughter of Saddam’s Republican Guards. In fact, he makes clear that he supported the declaration of an Iraqi provisional government in the Kurdish controlled northern region of Iraq, rather than an American invasion. In any case, he provides an interesting tidbit from the first war. He was able to ask the Saudi ambassador to Washington at that time, Prince Bandar, if Saudi Arabia had opposed the removal of Saddam after liberation of Kuwait. Bandar answered, “on the contrary, we urged them to go ahead and finish the job.” President Bush Sr.’s failure to do so was one of the most serious strategic errors of the past two decades. We are still suffering from its costly consequences.
Regarding Iran, Lewis explained in an e-mail to then-National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley the consequences of the millenarian, apocalyptic visions held by the present rulers of that country. As Lewis so elegantly stated, “For people with this mindset, M.A.D. (Mutual Assured Destruction) is not a constraint; it is an inducement.”
Lewis believes that it is still possible for American support to affect the outcomes of domestic political struggles in the Middle East based upon this very wise condition: “to achieve these results, it is necessary to project an image of firmness and reliability. Experts and public relations would no doubt be able to devise many ways of doing this. But to project an image of firmness and reliability, there is one essential prerequisite – to be firm and reliable.” I wish this statement were emblazoned at the entrance of the State Department. Unfortunately, through our own fault, it has become dangerous to be a friend of the U.S. and harmless – or even rewarding – to be its enemy, precisely because of our lack of firmness and reliability.
The book contains several delicious quotations from world leaders. In the early 1970s, Lewis visited with the then Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kwan Yew, who spoke to Lewis about the problem of the Muslim minority population. He said, “we do everything we can to help them. We give them preferential treatment… now, despite everything we do to help them, they keep sinking to the bottom of the pile. I have two questions for you, why are they like that, and what can we do about it?” Lewis modestly claims that his answer was inadequate, though I wish I could’ve been a fly on the wall to hear it.
Lewis was a friend of Turkish President Turgut Ozal. Before Operation Desert Storm, Lewis asked Ozal, “if it comes to war, will you be with us?” Ozal explained that he would, “for the same reason we declared war on the Axis in February 1945. When the fighting stops and the talking starts, you want to be at the victor’s table, and we want to be there on the guest list, not on the menu.”
While I have learned a great deal from Lewis, I have also wondered about some things that I have found missing in his work. I hesitate to say this because he is a man of such extraordinary accomplishment but, like everyone, he has limitations. This book reveals them. In the introduction, Lewis says, “I am not an expert in theology or scripture.” It also becomes clear in his autobiographical reflections that Lewis is not a particularly religious man, if indeed one at all. I think it helps to be religious to understand religions. The relative lack of these two things in his life, religion and theology, may help explain why Lewis, when he attempts to give an explanation as to why things went wrong in the Muslim world – after having so brilliantly explained what went wrong – he ends up simply peeling back deeper levels of symptoms, rather than diagnosing the root cause. I think this is because the root cause is religious and theological. It is located in a deformed idea of God (at least, in mainstream Sunni Islam), which has created a dysfunctional culture. Lewis certainly describes Islamic theological doctrines and has often alluded to their deleterious consequences for the possibility of modern, democratic life. But he never places Sunni Islamic theology at the center of the problem, where it belongs. It is more likely for him to say that much of the Islamic world has become a backwater because of the neglect of, or discrimination against, 50 percent of its population, the women. This is certainly a huge issue but, again, it is a symptom, rather than a cause.
One man cannot do everything, but Lewis has come close in his very full life. He has enriched his field of study, as have few in history. He is the giant on whose shoulders many now stand. You can read here how he did it.
‘Robbed Cossack’: Hebrew idiom for a villain who complains about the wrongs (imaginary or not) done to him that he has done to others.
Photo: Lucas Jackson / ReutersJerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided
– Sen. Barack Obama (D-Illinois) at the annual AIPAC conference, June 4, 2008
Congress maintains its commitment to relocating the United States Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and urges the President, pursuant to the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995... to immediately begin the process of relocating the United States Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.... None of the funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act may be available for the publication of any official government document which lists countries and their capital cities unless the publication identifies Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
– Section. 212 of the “Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 2002 and 2003,” relating to “United States policy with respect to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” sponsored by Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Delaware), cosponsor of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act.
Whereas in 1990, the US Senate and House of Representatives overwhelmingly declared that Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, “must remain an undivided city”... therefore, be it – Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring) That the Congress... strongly believes that Jerusalem must remain an undivided city in which the religious rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected as they have been by Israel during the past twenty-five years; and calls upon the President and the Secretary of State to issue an unequivocal statement in support of these principles.
– Resolution S.CON.RES.113 (June 18, 1992) co-sponsored by Sen. Joseph R Biden Jr. (D-Delaware)
Keep these excerpts in mind – their relevance will soon become evident.
The cry of the ‘robbed cossack’?
It is, of course, possible to conceive of more deplorable examples of shoddy and shallow journalism than Tom Friedman’s mendacious and misleading rant, titled, “Why not in Vegas?” against Mitt Romney’s visit to Jerusalem this week. However, I must confess, none springs readily to mind.
Friedman launches into his derogatory diatribe by accusing Romney of (gasp) fund-raising. Of course, coming from an Obamaphile, that is rich.
After all, while there may be many reasons for Obama’s victory over Sen. John McCain in 2008, clearly far from the least significant among them was Obama’s massive funding advantage, outdoing his rival by a ratio of over 3:1 – and half-a-billion dollars – after opting out of the public funding option, despite a pledge not to.
So now Friedman is griping at Romney’s efforts to somewhat level the financial playing field. Imagine the impudence of the GOP upstart! How dare he? Would “hypocritical” be an appropriate epithet here?
Friedman seems to be particularly upset by the support of Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson for Romney.
He attempts to wax sarcastic: “Since the whole trip was not about learning anything but about how to satisfy the political whims of the right-wing, super pro- Bibi Netanyahu, American Jewish casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, why didn’t they just do the whole thing in Las Vegas? “I mean, it was all about how big a jackpot of donations Adelson would shower on the Romney campaign in return.
Vegas would have been so much more appropriate than Jerusalem.
“They could have constructed a plastic Wailing Wall and saved so much on gas.”
Putting aside the tone of misplaced contempt for a moment, one might get the impression that Obama lacks support from like-minded plutocrats such as the shadowy George Soros, who has donated heavily to Obama-philic causes.
So why the disdain? Or is it just that Friedman feels that political opponents have no right to their positions and, hence, all attempts to enlist resources to promote them are to be belittled and besmirched.
Obama has engaged in intensive efforts to raise funds abroad. According to one source, “Obama has out-raised [Romney] almost 3:1 from ‘off-shore donors.’” The Wall Street Journal reported that an “invitation for an August fund-raiser asked guests to join “Americans Abroad for Obama and special guest George Clooney for a reception in Geneva,” with dinner costing $20,000 a head, or $30,000 a couple.
The Hollywood Reporter also mentions the Clooney event, and gives details of Obama’s fund-raising efforts in... China.
These are headed by Robert Roche, an entrepreneur who was appointed in 2010 by Obama as a member of the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations and today is co-founder and chairman of a Shanghai-based marketing corporation called “Acorn [I kid you not] International.”
So perhaps a plastic replica of the Great Wall of China in Hollywood would suffice?
Friedman seems to have taken particular umbrage at Romney’s statement designating “Jerusalem [as] the capital of Israel.” He jeered that “it was all about money – how much Romney would abase himself by saying whatever the Israeli right wanted to hear.”
Really, Tom? Take a look at the introductory excerpts above, espoused by the president and vice president – not only designating Jerusalem as the capital of Israel but averring that it should remain undivided.
Were these statements – at least as, if not more, explicit and far-reaching than Romney’s – merely disingenuous pandering to the “Israeli Right”? Were they no more than manipulative trickery to gain the support of Jewish voters? It would certainly seem so – given the fact that today the White House not only refuses to name the capital of Israel but seems unable to acknowledge that it has a capital at all.
Indeed, in light of these unequivocal declarations as to the indivisible unity of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, would Friedman suggest that the Obama-Biden duo were “abasing themselves by saying whatever the Israeli Right wanted to hear” when they made them? Or were they “abasing themselves by saying whatever the Israeli Left (and the Palestinians) wanted to hear” when they went back on them?
Friedman continues his Stephen Walt- John Mearsheimer-compliant Judeophobic bluster that he began when he alleged that the standing ovations Netanyahu received during his 2011 address to the US Congress were “bought and paid for by the Israel lobby.”
In his new article, he writes: “The main Israel lobby, AIPAC, has made itself the feared arbiter of which lawmakers are ‘pro’ and which are ‘anti-Israel’ and, therefore, who should get donations and who should not – and you have a situation in which there are almost no brakes, no red lights, around Israel coming from America anymore.”
So there you have it. According to Friedman, the Jews control US foreign policy and America is no more than a banana republic, where elected representatives are willing to sell their nation’s – and hence their constituents’ – interests to the highest bidder and can be bought by conniving Judeo-plutocrats – with hooked noses? What more could subscribers to the Walt-Mearsheimer doctrine ask for? But perhaps – just perhaps – Friedman, in his (il)liberal arrogance, is missing a point that Romney isn’t.
Perhaps the members of Congress, as the elected representatives of the American people, have a better feel for the instincts of their electorate, instincts that are reflected in the sentiments Romney conveyed in his Jerusalem address: “Our two nations are separated by more than 5,000 miles. But for an American abroad, you can’t get much closer to the ideals and convictions of my own country than you do in Israel. We’re part of the great fellowship of democracies.
“We speak the same language of freedom and justice, and the right of every person to live in peace. We serve the same cause and provoke the same hatreds in the same enemies of civilization.”
Yes, it may be pre-election rhetoric, but it does seem to express a fundamental spirit of kindred ideals that have underpinned the relationship between the two countries – and explains its durability and warmth far better than Friedman’s alleged Shylock-syndome.
Friedman whines: “In recent years, the Republican Party has decided to make Israel a wedge issue.”
Actually it was quite the opposite.
After all, it was none other than Barack Obama who explicitly adopted “wedgeinserting” as a policy. In July 2009, while hosting a group of American Jewish leaders at the White House, he informed them that he sought to put “daylight” between America and Israel.
In fact he underscored that this was a measure to contrast his approach with that of his Republican predecessor, remarking that “For eight years [during the George W. Bush administration], there was no light between the United States and Israel.”
Clearly, the idea of placing a wedge between the US and Israel was a deliberate choice of the current Democratic administration. And it is not entirely implausible to surmise that – judging from the tenor of some of his previous articles – Friedman had a role to play in the conception of the “wedge/daylight policy.”
Having helped create the problem, he now bemoans the consequences.
Friedman complains that since “the GOP decided to ‘out-pro-Israel’ the Democrats by being even more unquestioning of Israel... this has pulled the Democratic Party to the right on the Middle East and has basically forced the Obama team to shut down the peace process and drop any demands that Israel freeze settlements.”
What a short memory you have, Tom! Have you forgotten that it was the Obama administration which, for the first time ever, made the settlement freeze an issue in the “peace process,” which previously had been conducted without any such demand of the Palestinians.
In fact, the “right-wing” Netanyahu is the only Israeli leader, who – against his own domestic political base – agreed (unwisely) to such a freeze, which, however, elicited no response from the Palestinians – other than a demand that it be extended.
So if there is a culprit to be identified for “shutting down the peace process,” perhaps it should be the Obama administration for creating greater Palestinian intransigence.
Friedman’s bile and bias are evident in his attempt to belittle Israel’s technological achievements and entrepreneurial culture; and his chiding Romney for comparing it favorably with the Palestinian culture. Although he does acknowledge that “Israel today is an amazing beehive of innovation [and] something Jews should be proud of,” he attributes this – in the best “you didn’t get there on your own” tradition – in large measure to “an influx of Russian brainpower [and] massive US aid.”
But the Palestinians have received massive international aid for over two decades and have not been able to achieve anything approaching economic stability. So maybe it is a cultural thing, which by the way is why there was such an influx of Russian brain power.
Some cultures – as in Israel – embrace their refugees, integrate them into their society and turn them into valuable contributing citizens; others – as in the Arab world – refuse to integrate them, preserve their suffering and exploit them deliberately as political pawns.
Maybe this, more than anything else, encapsulates the essence of the conflict.
Until Friedman realizes this, he will not be able to make any useful contribution to the discussion, beyond the fatuous, feckless and fraudulent offerings he has provided up to now.
Free Syrian Army fighters step on a picture of President Assad, whose forces—and options—are shrinking. (AFP photo)
It has become apparent that the areas held by Syrian president Bashar Assad’s forces are rapidly shrinking. As Assad concentrates his forces in Damascus and Aleppo, he is ceding territory elsewhere. With this territorial contraction, he is creating a faultline separating two entrenched camps engaged in an essentially static war. In other words, Assad is drawing a larger, Syrian version of Lebanon’s famous Green Line.
The first priority for the embattled Syrian despot is to keep the fighting outside the Alawite coastal mountains. In addition, the counteroffensive in Damascus made clear that Assad intends to hold on to the capital – or parts thereof – for as long as possible, before falling back to an Alawite stronghold. Control of the capital sustains the pretense that the regime remains the legitimate government, and not merely a sectarian militia.
As for Aleppo, its significance for Assad differs from that of Damascus. Aleppo is the country’s economic hub and a bastion of pro-regime industrialists and businessmen. Retaining the city means safeguarding the alliance with these important social groups. However, with the level of destruction being visited on the city – as the regime employs air power as well as artillery and mortar fire – the notion of restoring normal economic activity to the city anytime soon is fanciful, especially as the Free Syrian Army has proven it can penetrate and operate in the heart of Aleppo for an extended period of time.
The regime’s objective in Aleppo is likely something more basic at this juncture. As Assad has been forced to redeploy his limited troops, he has had to abandon even more areas in the nearby Idlib countryside. The merging of these areas with the major urban center of Aleppo, and its surroundings, would give the rebels a contiguous swath of territory that is at once bordering a friendly Turkey as well as overlooking a strategic access point into the Alawite coastal mountains leading all the way to main port city of Latakia.
In order to ensure the security of this Alawite enclave, Assad must conduct his battles in buffer areas, where he can keep his enemies bogged down and incapable of advancing westward. This is precisely what the regime has been doing in the central plains. In certain areas north of Hama, for example, it has pushed as much to the east as it could in order to disrupt rebel logistical lines.
The Aleppo battle, then, is important in terms of halting the rebels’ momentum and their ability to advance westward. For Assad, therefore, controlling even parts of Aleppo is significant for maintaining a disruptive presence at a critical junction in the north.
By delineating the contracted areas under his grip, Assad is drawing a de facto Green Line, which not only separates regime-held strongholds from rebel territory, but also marks where the two camps will primarily do battle. In the urban setting of Aleppo, and possibly down the road in Damascus, this would mean an effective division of the city into pro- and anti-regime neighborhoods, much like Beirut during the civil war.
For even if Damascus and Aleppo were ultimately penetrated and their neighborhoods divided between the warring sides, resulting in a stalemate, that would still serve Assad’s purposes, especially since both cities lie outside the Alawite enclave. The regime would continue its use of air power and artillery fire, striking at opposition strongholds from a distance, keeping the battles away from the Alawite areas.
As the likelihood of Assad reimposing his writ on all of Syria is virtually nil, at this point, securing an Alawite redoubt and forcing a protracted stalemate represent the best possible outcomes for the regime and its Iranian patrons. Assad might even calculate that if he manages to hold out for a few years – and Russia’s Ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, recently expressed his belief that the conflict could indeed last as long as the Lebanese civil war – he could expect a negotiated settlement that takes into consideration the new facts on the ground. From the Iranians’ perspective, both options would preserve their foothold in Syria.
With the fighting now having reached Damascus and Aleppo, the conflict has entered a new phase. However, if the Lebanese war has taught us anything, this new phase is likely one of many more to come.
Zookeepers around the world, facing limited capacity and pressure to maintain diverse and vibrant collections of endangered species, are often choosing between two controversial methods: birth control and euthanasia.
Dear Leslie Kaufman,
Try not to use the words "diverse" and "vibrant" separated only by a conjunction. Try not to use the words "diverse" and "vibrant" in the same sentence or the same paragraph or the same article. Try not to use the words "diverse" and "vibrant" -- even separately -- at all.