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

These are all the Blogs posted on Monday, 30, 2009.
Monday, 30 March 2009
At least 20 people dead in Pakistan attack

Breaking news from The Times Things are moving quickly since I put the first report up.
Pakistan's army and an elite police paramilitary unit were today laying siege to a police training academy in Lahore where militants were holed up after attacking the centre, killing 20 and injuring 90.
At least 11 police officers are reported to be among the dead in the initial commando-style assault by the militants, which had similarities to the attack against the Sri Lankan cricket team in the same city this month.
In both incidents, well-trained gunmen armed with assault rifles, grenades and rocket launchers mounted an organised and deadly assault.
In the cricket team attack all the militants escaped unhurt, however, melting away into the city, whereas on this occasion the attacking force does not seem to have tried to get away, and a ferocious gun battle is reported still to be in progress at the academy, which lies on the outskirts of bustling Lahore, on the road to the Indian border.
Armed soldiers and paramilitary troops wearing helmets and bullet-proof vests sealed off the compound.
"We'll take some time in clearing the Manawan police training centre," said Nasim Nawaz, the Lahore district co-ordination officer.
"The gun battle is on between terrorist and police and rangers. We are now clearing people from the road who have gathered there. In the meanwhile the curfew has already been imposed."
"We were attacked with bombs. Thick smoke surrounded us. We all ran in panic in different directions," said Mohammad Asif, a wounded officer taken to a hospital. He described the attackers as bearded and young.
In early March, a group of gunmen ambushed the visiting Sri Lankan cricket team as their tour bus rounded a roundabout near the Lahore cricket ground, sparking a battle that left six police officers and a driver dead and wounded several of the players.
"There is great similarity between the two incidents," said Afzal Shigri, a former senior police officer. No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
"Militants trained in war in Afghanistan could be involved in the terrorist attacks, " said Rehman Malik, the interior minister.

Posted on 03/30/2009 1:41 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 30 March 2009
Matthew Parris on Gordon Brown

My contempt for Gordon Brown is shared by Matthew Parris. From The Times:

I've just read one of the worst speeches by a British prime minister it's been my misfortune to encounter in 40 years following politics. Wilson had folksy evasiveness; Heath, wooden principle; Thatcher, tin-eared persistence; Blair, slimy charm. In every case you could tell why they'd got the job, even when you hated what they were doing with it.

But this? This hole in the air encased in a suit of clunking verbal armour? This truck-load of clichéd grandiloquence in hopeless pursuit of anything that might count as the faintest apology for an idea? Words fail me.

They certainly failed Gordon Brown, addressing the European Parliament this week. No wonder everybody's now watching the MEP Daniel Hannan's riposte, uploaded on to YouTube - for the sheer, blessed relief of finding anyone still standing as the grey ash came bucketing down.

Where shall I begin? Shall I bother? Is he worth it?

“It is thanks to the work of all of you and the generations whose work we continue that we enjoy a Europe of peace and unity which will truly rank among the finest of human achievements” would be fine - no, not fine; pardonable - if no more than a paragraph of pompous pleasantry, to puff the hard argument. But hard argument came there none. It was all puff.

“So I stand here today proud to be British and proud to be European: representing a country that does not see itself as an island beside Europe but as a country at the centre of Europe, not in Europe's slipstream but firmly in its mainstream.” Not an island? Airborne in a slipstream? In a river in a mainstream? So much for geography, aeronautics and hydraulics. Now for history.

“Friends, today there is no old Europe, no new Europe, no East or West Europe. There is only one Europe, our home Europe”... and on we go. A list of truths, half-truths and untruths follows: claims about EU progress, some of which Mr Brown has actively blocked.

The market crisis is then dispatched by means of a clutch of attempts at wordplay (“markets should be free but not value-free”... “freedom need not be a free-for-all” ...“being fair is more important than being laissez-faire”) so maladroit as to deserve inclusion in any young speechwriter's textbook warning against laboured verbal conceit. Mr Brown then repeats himself at greater length but with no greater felicity.

If only his leaden prose were the worst of it. He is much worse than boring, as I point out here. As Samizdata’s Brian Micklethwait writes:


What matters to me is not whether Brown is now a doomed and hopeless failure, for clearly he is. But how much more of my country will he quadruple-mortgage? How much more of my country’s earth will he scorch?

Posted on 03/30/2009 5:48 AM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 30 March 2009
Asian women chefs view defended

A Birmingham MP has defended his suggestion of employing jobless women in local Asian communities to tackle a shortage of chefs in curry houses.
One in four Midlands curry houses could close because of the shortage, some restaurant owners have claimed.
Lasan Restaurant Group founder, Jabbar Khan, has described the idea from Birmingham Erdington MP Sion Simon as "offensive to industry professionals".
Responding to Mr Khan's comment on the BBC's Politics Show for the West Midlands, the MP said: "I think that's offensive to women to suggest that they're not capable or competent to work in the catering industry."
The Skills Minister, who spoke on the issue in a Parliamentary debate, added he was not saying anybody "can just wander from a domestic kitchen" into a professional restaurant.
Mr Simon said 60% of Bangladeshi women are "economically inactive".
Mr Simon added: "Unemployment among Bangladeshi men is much much higher than it is for the population as a whole. In that context the idea that we have to import chefs for any kind of restaurant in large numbers all the time it's.. not going to be sustainable in the long term."
Mr Khan has claimed the MP has "quite clearly" underestimated the expertise required to be a professional chef and was unaware of social and cultural issues.
He said: "To assume that someone is capable of working in a restaurant kitchen purely because that is the food of their origin is totally ridiculous. Would he suggest that all the British housewives who have mastered a cottage pie are capable of producing restaurant quality cuisine?"  No but I have temped as a kitchen hand in my time and seen professional chefs at work. It is undeniably hard work, but it isn't brain surgery.
Mr Khan said that mastering cooking professionally, especially Asian cuisine, requires at least three to five years.
"It is unfair to expect small business to have the luxury of trainees and apprentices when they are struggling to find skilled individuals to make up the core team in order for the business to operate." No it's not. Training isn't a luxury and there are all sorts of grants for it. How do the chefs get trained in Bangladesh in the first place?
Restaurant owners have said a new points-based system operated by the UK Border Agency makes it more difficult to bring in skilled chefs from Bangladesh, Pakistan and India. Quite right. Train up your own children. This is just a ruse to import even more distant cousins from the old country.

Posted on 03/30/2009 6:48 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 30 March 2009
Sunni-Shi'a Fighting Spreads in Iraq

Hugh Fitzgerald has been consistently predicting this very outcome and has worried that sectarian fighting will pull American forces back in as we attempt to withdraw. Obama is not strong enough to pull out in the face of the humanitarian crisis looming ahead. Washington Post:

BAGHDAD, March 29 -- A new and potentially worrisome fight for power and control has broken out in Baghdad as the United States prepares to pull combat troops out of Iraq next year.

The struggle, which played out in fierce weekend clashes, pits two vital American allies against each other. On Sunday, Iraqi soldiers backed by U.S. combat helicopters and American troops swept into a central Baghdad neighborhood, arresting U.S.-backed Sunni fighters in an effort to clamp down on a two-day uprising that challenged the Iraqi government's authority and its efforts to pacify the capital.

But the fallout from the operation is already rippling far beyond the city's boundaries. Both the Iraqi security forces and the Sunni fighters, known as the Awakening, are cornerstones in the American strategy to bring stability. The Awakening, in particular, is widely viewed as a key reason violence has dramatically dropped across Iraq.

Many leaders of the Awakening, mostly former Sunni insurgents who joined hands with U.S. forces to fight the insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq, have long had a contentious relationship with Iraq's Shiite-led government. But the weekend battles have sparked fresh frustration and mistrust of both the U.S. military and Iraq's mostly Shiite security forces, according to interviews with Awakening leaders across the country.

"The situation is now very fragile, and no Awakening member would remain silent over this injustice," said Saad Abbas al-Luhaibi, leader of an Awakening group in Anbar province. The tensions raise concerns that uprisings could erupt in other Awakening-controlled areas -- or that many Awakening fighters could return to the insurgency, allowing al-Qaeda in Iraq to fill the vacuum in Sunni areas.

The clashes also opened a window onto the new military relationship emerging between the United States and Iraq, as well as the struggles Iraq's government will probably face as it takes more control over security.

The violence erupted Saturday minutes after Iraqi and U.S. troops arrested Adil Mashadani, the Awakening leader in Baghdad's Fadhil neighborhood, on charges of committing sectarian crimes and terrorist acts.

The U.S. military said in a statement Sunday that Mashadani was suspected of extorting more than $160,000 from Fadhil residents, orchestrating roadside bomb attacks against Iraqi security forces and having ties to al-Qaeda in Iraq. Concerned about the impact on other Awakening groups, the military stressed that Mashadani was not arrested because of his role in the Awakening. Mashadani's deputies have denied the allegations.

In response to the arrest, Awakening fighters took to the streets and rooftops, engaging in fierce gun battles with U.S. and Iraqi troops. At least eight Iraqi soldiers were injured; an additional five were taken hostage but were released Sunday morning, Iraqi security officials said.

By Sunday, Iraqi security forces and American troops had surrounded the neighborhood. Snipers peered from the roofs of buildings as Apache and Blackhawk combat helicopters circled in the overcast sky. Some dropped leaflets urging residents to hand over weapons; the handbills also stressed that there was a legal warrant for Mashadani's arrest and that no residents were being targeted...

Posted on 03/30/2009 6:50 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 30 March 2009
A Musical Interlude: I Get The Blues When It Rains (Annette Hanshaw)

Listed here.


Posted on 03/30/2009 9:41 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 30 March 2009
T.S. Eliot, a literal genius

George Orwell was better at essays than at novels. His most famous novels, 1984 and Animal Farm, are clunkily didactic, especially Animal Farm. “Yes, I get it,” you want to scream. “Some are more equal than others. Revolution eats its own children. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. The pig’s called Napoleon, see? ” The farm lacks only Mrs Malaprop’s allegory to drive the point home. How could anyone miss it? Michael Gove in The Times: 

[T]he reputation of the editor is somewhat under siege with the revelation that T.S. Eliot rejected Animal Farm when he was editing texts at Faber & Faber because he wanted it rewritten. He thought the pigs in the fable of communist betrayal were “far more intelligent than the other animals and therefore best qualified to run the farm”. The answer, he thought, to the farm's problems was not revolution but “more public-spirited pigs”.

Of all the things one wants in a literary executive, literal-mindedness is the least useful trait. One can only imagine T.S. Eliot's response to J.K. Rowling: “Surely you cannot have a train platform that is 9¾, you can't have locomotives leaving a setting denominated by a vulgar fraction... and doesn't Lord Voldemort have a point, it would appear that pure-bred wizards are more intelligent and are therefore best qualified to run the Ministry of Magic...”

And thank heavens he never published The Lord of the Rings: “Surely Saruman's decision to ally with Sauron was a shrewd exercise in realpolitik. Rather than a vain effort to dethrone the ruler of Mordor led by barefoot and hoydenish yokels surely we just need more public-spirited Dark Lords?”

Of course, T.S. Eliot was famously a banker as well as a publisher and poet. Mind you, it was a different world then and he could never have succeeded in finance today. Imagine - a banker with an inability to believe in fantastic tales and a grim determination to ask boringly difficult questions when faced with wild inventions. That really is almost impossible to credit.


Posted on 03/30/2009 9:45 AM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 30 March 2009
Mount Redoubt Reminds Us That It Is There

After a quiet few days, Mount Redoubt  again spewed more ash in Alaska. The fear remains that,  one hundred miles from Anchorage,  a big eruption may soon come. There's been plenty of warning. But then, for years before Hurricane Katrina, there had been plenty of warning about the new strength of hurricanes.

Posted on 03/30/2009 10:32 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 30 March 2009
Stupid, Nepotistic, And Greedy Home Secretary Jacqui Smith

I didn't realize that British law allows her to  employ, as part of her staff, her husband the haggard masturbator.

Read all about it here.

Posted on 03/30/2009 10:59 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 30 March 2009
J'en Redoute

How with this rage shall Beauty hold a plea,

Whose action is no stronger than a flower? 

Shakespeare once chose to doubt it.


'Gainst the rage that is spewing from Mount Redoubt

Place a redoubtable rose from Redouté ,,,,

On second thought,  I re-doubt it.


Posted on 03/30/2009 8:45 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 30 March 2009
Scoop: Jackson's Son May Appear At Concert

At, you can find the story bearing that headline.

Being a  connoisseur of punctuation -- see "Pause And Effect" and the discussion of it, and Ralph Roister Doister, here  -- will not be enough for proper appreciation. In this case, it helps if the connoisseur or connaisseur dont on parle is American, and of an age that allows him to remember the late Henry "Scoop" Jackson, one of the best Senators in the history of the United States. Jackson died of a heart attack, having become agitated after he learned that the Russians had shot down a South Korean airliner. I was on a beach, in Liguria, and had just opened the pages of the Corriere della Sera and saw the headline about Henry Jackson having died, and tears uncontrollably started, and the Italians with me were amazed and embarrassed for me, for they could not imagine why the death of any political figure would cause that kind of reaction from a person they had previously regarded as sensible.

Posted on 03/30/2009 11:41 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 30 March 2009
That's one way to keep divorce rates down


RIYADH: Sara, a 32-year-old mother of three children, has been trying to secure a divorce from her husband.

“My case has been in the court for three months,” she said. “My husband is demanding SR50,000 while all I received from him as a dowry was SR30,000.”

Sara is one of many Saudi women seeking separation through khula, a form of divorce in Shariah where the woman secures her divorce through financial compensation to the husband that begins with a reimbursement of the dowry but often includes what the husband sees as his additional expenses for the marriage.

Sara’s brothers offered to help out with the cash, “but it is not fair, they all have families and responsibilities,” she said.

“Some men use the khula system to make money on account of women who are willing to pay off their husbands in order to end a troubled marriage,” said Noha, a 28-year-old mother of a four-year-old.

Noha is lucky. Her husband (who is also her cousin) agreed to reimbursement of half of the dowry after family members intervened “to put reason into his mind that I have given him five of my best years,” she said.

She is lucky in other ways.

Saudi Lawyers’ Committee Deputy Director Hadi Al-Yami, who is also a member of the governmental Human Rights Commission, pointed out that current reforms taking place in the judicial system — one of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosque King Abdullah’s major reform initiatives — will hopefully improve the situation of women caught in the personal judgments and rulings.

The lack of a standard methodology when dealing with divorce cases and other family matters is a point of contention, Al-Yami added.

“The khula system needs to be standardized like many other judicial regulations,” he said adding that the family courts being established will set standards that will apply to all courts and hopefully reel in the personal decisions of individual judges.

Dima, a 43-year-old wealthy Saudi woman who has spent 19 months in the current court system trying to secure a khula divorce from her husband, is a case study in how the system can favor the husband over the wife.

“I am losing the best years of my life in the unjust judicial system,” she said. “The judge had ruled in my favor three times, but my husband has been able to challenge these rulings one way or another.”

Dima says that her husband had been asking for financial compensation of over SR600,000, calculating all the expenses he had put in his own home where his three children live.

“The house is mine,” she said. “He has been living in it for 15 years, yet he is asking me to pay off the cost of an extension he built for himself, and much more. What about the 15 years of my life I have lost? What are they worth? How could the judge participate in extending my agony? Is this justice?”

Al-Yami says that under Shariah a husband is entitled to “‘some’ of his dowry, and not all, and definitely not additional compensation. Shariah is clear and obvious in such matters, and it urges us to treat women in a fine and just way.”

And to not break their bones while beating them.  And to "till their fields" whenever, wherever, and however their husbands see fit.  And to stone them to death for having a child out of wedlock, even if by rape.

Furthermore, he added that khula compensation is dictated by various factors, including number of years of marriage, number of children and the potential negative impact the continuation of the marriage would have on the wife.

Referring to the criticism Saudi Arabia has been facing after the Universal Periodic Review by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva last month regarding women and children’s status, Al-Yami points out that human rights is a basic Islamic principle.

Qur'anic verse, please? What Islam teaches about "human rights" is significantly different from how Westerners understand it, as Muslims go to great lengths to make clear.

In February, the Kingdom faced criticism during an active discussion of the UPR for women’s status, application of death penalty, physical punishments and violation of labor rights in the Kingdom. All member states of the United Nations undergo this review process.

Posted on 03/30/2009 12:00 PM by Artemis Gordon Glidden
Monday, 30 March 2009
Fiscal stimulus

Our greedy, dishonest,cowardly and stupid Home Secretary Jacqui Smith uses taxpayers' money to pay her husband an "allowance".

We thought all he did was sit at home twiddling his thumbs.

Posted on 03/30/2009 1:31 PM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 30 March 2009
New fire service uniform includes full-length skirt and hijab headscarf

My husband heard this on the radio this morning and told me to look for it.
The background is that at the moment Regional and County Fire brigades have their own individual, (but really very similar) uniforms. The government have commissioned a design for a National Uniform which regional brigades will be encouraged to adopt. Apparently when firefighters are called to assist a fire in a neighbouring county (the Fire services are very good at co-operation) the big red fire engine is not the dead giveaway to their identity and position that one might think.
Anyway they have thought of everything. The helmets are not so big and shiny these days, and the boots not so high as in my father's days in the AFS, but there is now an option of a long skirt and hijab. There are quite a few women firefighters (I still want to say firemen and women, but I am old fashioned) but  they have to do an enormous amount of training prior to recruitment to achieve the physical condition required. A few years ago I worked with a young woman, a temp, whose ambition was to join the London Fire Brigade.  Every other night she left work to attend a gym for a programme of weight lifting and stamina building before she could contemplate attempting the entrance tests. That and the sleeping arrangements for overnight shifts would not be congenial to any Muslim woman so "modest" that she wears long skirts and hijab.
From The Telegraph
A new uniform has been designed for firefighters, including options of full-length skirts, long-sleeved shirts, hijab headscarves and turbans. Sikhs, of course, are very practical about headgear v safety.
The Government said the new clothing was better fitting, giving firemen and women more protection, as well as looking more professional.
The new grey and red coloured range of clothing, which also includes maternity and sportswear, was introduced on Monday at the Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service. True, there is more to the job than front line incidents.
Fire Minister Sadiq Khan said: "We want the widest range of applicants to apply to join the fire and rescue service. To do achieve this it is important that all applicants – men and women – know that the uniform and clothing they will be issued with will not only protect them but will also fit properly and be comfortable.
"The introduction of more appropriately fitted clothing is just one initiative to help to both retain female firefighters and encourage others to consider a fire service career.
"Fire prevention is vitally important today as we continue the aim of driving down fire deaths. To achieve this, the fire and rescue service needs employees from all ethnic groups to reflect the diversity of our communities. This will enable better mutual understanding during fire safety visits.
"The uniform now available shows that cultural beliefs are being recognised, as we seek to increase the representation of ethnic minorities within service." Which is another bone of contention. A fireman's colour is irrelevant; the only important aspect is that he is physically up to the job.
Jagtar Singh, spokesman for the Asian Fire Service Association, commented: "We are pleased to note that the fire service is now taking seriously the issues of culture and religious belief when purchasing corporate and protective clothing for firefighters."

Posted on 03/30/2009 4:45 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 30 March 2009
Le Genocide Voilé (interview with Tidiane N'Diaye)

Watch and listen here.



Posted on 03/30/2009 7:53 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 30 March 2009
Some Telling Public Opinion From Pakistan
Posted on 03/30/2009 10:59 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 30 March 2009
Let Him Get The Care His Own Customarily Provide

From The Guardian: 

Failed asylum seekers not entitled to free NHS treatment

Refugee and health charities expressed dismay after the appeal court ruled yesterday that failed asylum seekers with chronic illnesses were not entitled to free health care on the NHS.

But the three appeal judges also ruled that hospitals have the discretion to provide free treatment to such individuals if they cannot afford to pay for it.

The case involved a Palestinian man, known only as 'YA', with chronic liver disease who was initially refused free treatment to prevent liver failure. He was unable to return to the West Bank because of Israeli travel restrictions but the hospital had refused to treat him for free because of the Department of Health guidance.

Lord Justice Ward said that to receive free NHS treatment the patient must have resided lawfully in the UK for at least a year. YA, whose asylum case was still being investigated, was therefore deemed not ordinarily resident. He had taken his case to the high court, where a judge declared government guidance to hospitals was unlawful because it advised NHS trusts to charge failed asylum seekers. The appeal court said the guidance did not make clear enough the fact that hospitals must consider providing treatment in such cases.

YA's lawyer, Adam Hundt, said that access to vital medical treatment for thousands of refused asylum seekers rested on the case. He said: "The Department of Health guidance said that hospitals should not provide treatment unless patients paid for it in advance, but this ignores the fact that many of these patients, like A, are destitute, and many cannot return home, so they are not treated until they require life-saving treatment."

He said treatment often came too late and was usually far more expensive at that stage. "The current rules don't make clinical, economic or humanitarian sense, and I am glad that the court has recognised this. I hope the Department of Health will now make it clear to hospitals that they must treat patients who cannot pay and cannot return home for the time being - and not wait until they are at death's door."

The health secretary, Alan Johnson, who took the case to the appeal court, welcomed the decision. He said that his department accepted the lack of clarity in the official guidance for hospitals. "We will ensure that the guidance is amended."

But the decision disappointed refugee and health welfare groups. Donna Covey, of the Refugee Council, said she was concerned that the charging regime for failed asylum seekers was still in place. She said those people who were unable to go home straight away often ended up destitute and homeless. "To refuse treatment to them simply because they cannot pay for it is appalling and inhumane," she said.

Deborah Jack, of the National Aids Trust, said anxiety over medical bills would deter many people from seeking the care they needed. She said the government should use its review of healthcare charges to end its policy of ill-health for the most destitute.


In every Western country, treatment for chronic liver disease, like liver transplants themselves, is carefully rationed. Those who attempt to take every advantage, to arrive with their hocus-pocus and flim-flam claiming "refugee status," and then to have UK taxpayers pay for their expensive treatments, should be sent back to the places they normally live in, and receive the treatment that they could normallly expect. I doubt if the Israelis would prevent the man in question, whether a Gazan Arab or a "West Bank" Arab, from returning to receive exactly the treatment, the level of care, that the Arabs customarily have on offer. Or, if he is suspected of involvement in participation in, or support of, terrorism (the only reason Israel would not let him into Gaza or the "West Bank") why is he being allowed into the UK? And why is not the most obvious place to send him -- one of those fabulously rich sheikdoms, those tribes with flags, or even Saudi Arabia itself -- that can certainly afford to treat one of their own, an Arab, a Muslim, a member of the Umma Of Believers. Why should Infidels pick up the gigantic tab? On what grounds? 

Posted on 03/30/2009 11:08 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 30 March 2009
Philippe Karsenty: Abominable American Jewish Committee behavior

Phillipe  Karsenty, Paris based media critic who fought the Mohamed Al Dura ‘blood libel’ fiction created on France 2 TV for seven years and won a major victory in May, 2008 in a French appeals court has leveled withering criticism at David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and his Paris representative Valerie Hoffenberg in an op-ed in today’s Jerusalem Post, entitled: “The American Jewish committee deserves better leadership.”    Karsenty’s j’accuse is a corker and extremely revealing.   

We had published an article in the March New English Review drawing attention to the missteps of the AJC during the Durban II preparatory planning and attendance of the NGO’s representative, Ms. Felice Gaer  at a session in Geneva at the UN Human Rights Commission. David Harris virulently took exception to our criticism.

Note these excerpts from the Karsenty Jerusalem Post op-ed:

The American Jewish Committee is one of the world's most active Jewish institutions. It would have been entirely consistent with its mission to have stepped forward to aid me in my efforts to counter a libel that dishonored every Jew.

But under David Harris as executive director, only silence and obstruction were forthcoming.

Harris is renowned for his diplomatic skills, his warm friendship with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and his contacts at the highest levels of other European governments. Some have complained to him that his representative in France, Valerie Hoffenberg, never once objected to France 2's hoax or supported my efforts to expose it. In fact, Hoffenberg was waging a behind-the scenes counter-offensive to cover-up the al Dura lie by blocking my access to some French officials, lobbying Jewish leaders against me, and claiming that the phony news report was authentic. Harris' response was always polite and reassuring: "I will look into it," he promised.

Yet nothing ever changed. It finally became clear that Hoffenberg was not acting on her own initiative, but faithfully adhering to AJC policy. Because of Hoffenberg's activities, AJC France was actually my most destructive foe.  Nonetheless, in May of last year I was vindicated in a French court.

Karsenty goes on to tie the AJC behavior to the Durban II debacle that we examined:

David Harris’' antipathy to exposing the al Dura hoax is entirely consistent with his advice to the Obama administration (as well as other foreign governments) to participate in the planning of the Jew-hating stimulus package known as Durban II - against the wishes of the State of Israel. Now he is viciously attacking three of Israel's best defenders - Caroline Glick, Melanie Phillips and Anne Bayefsky - for advocating an immediate and unequivocal boycott.

Harris' claims that he deserves the credit for the current US disengagement from Durban II or improvements in its draft declaration - after undermining boycott efforts repeatedly - are more examples of the same practice I witnessed in the al Dura context: AJC's mastery of the double game.

Karsenty cites a similar reading of Harris and the AJC by a German Jewish community official:

The following is an unsolicited note from a prominent German Jew that came to me in November 2008 and confirmed my perception of Harris' "policies":

"While you experienced problems with AJC Paris, AJC Berlin has been making problems in Germany. This is no coincidence. The explanation is that this AJC policy is supported by David Harris. AJC wants to sit in the first row among the Jewish organizations when it comes to contacts with European governments. For this reason they try to get along well with the establishments in the various countries...

"It is thus working against, and even sabotaging, other Jewish and non-Jewish NGOs that are more serious about combating anti-Semitism and supporting Israel. In short, AJC is practicing appeasement toward the European governments and elites. That establishment, for its part, appreciates AJC giving them the kosher stamp of approval. AJC is thus working against Jewish interests in Europe."

In June, 2008 after Karsenty’s French appeals court victory occurred, Ms. Hoffenberg went to Israel and Bethlehem as part of French President Sarkozy’s Palestinian initiative. In an Israpundit post, I noted the following:

Ms. Valerie Hoffenberg, the  AJC’s representative in Paris, appears not to be serving of the interest of her fellow French Jews while dissing the patent truth of the Al Dura affair blood libel as revealed by Philippe Karsenty. Karsenty was vindicated recently by a French appeals court that effectively overturned a libel action against him brought by Charles Enderlin, a French 2 news producer reported to a mute international press by Nidra Poller and a few others. Now, as unveiled by Vanessa Jones in this FrontPageMagazine article, Ms. Hoffenberg is the ‘go to’ person for French President Sarkozy on his Palestinian development initiative in Bethlehem, to be announced after his arrival in Israel, tomorrow. Watch this AJC interview with Hoffenberg, here. American Jews should be concerned about the misimpression Ms. Hoffenberg has lent to the honorable goals of the AJC. Perhaps it is time for David Harris, executive director of the venerable mainstream American Jewish group to have a discussion with his Board of Governors followed by a ‘woodshed’ conversation with Ms. Hoffenberg.

I sent this to Harris and received no reply. His and the AJC actions in the Karsenty affair and the recent Durban II brouhaha amply demonstrate that the AJC needs to evaluate the ‘great steersman’ at the helm of this venerable American Jewish NGO. This is an NGO that prides itself as being the equivalent of the State Department of the American Jewish people.  A people who never elected the AJC it to fulfill this pompous mission.


Posted on 03/30/2009 11:12 PM by Jerry Gordon
Monday, 30 March 2009
A Musical Interlude: You Rascal You (Connie's Inn Orch.)

Listen here.


Posted on 03/30/2009 11:20 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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