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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
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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 Wednesday, 30, 2011.
Wednesday, 30 March 2011
Amil Imani On Slavery On Islam

From Family Security Matters:

March 28, 2011

Slavery in Islam

 
Slavery, making one human the property of another, was widely practiced in the past by many societies. Regrettably, even in the 21st Century, the horrid practice continues in certain areas, most notably among Muslims. Islam’s genesis was the Arabian peninsula of the seventh century AD, known for its primitive beliefs and savage practices. So, it is of no surprise that Islam incorporated slavery and much of the ethos of the culture of its birthplace.
 
Is discussing slavery beating a dead horse? Regrettably, it is not. The Anti-Slavery Society has documented numerous contemporary instances, most of them from Islamic countries. The repugnant practice of slavery presents a real threat to human dignity as Islamic fundamentalism is surging. The Islamic law—the Shariah—is based on the provisions of the Quran.
 
And the Quran explicitly and implicitly condones slavery in dozens of suras (chapters). Muhammad himself took numerous slaves, mostly women, as spoils of war. Some of the women Muhammad took for himself he called concubines, hardly a consolation to the helpless enslaved women.
 
Documents show that in the heyday of slavery, Muslims took just as many slaves from East Africa as did the Christians from West Africa.
 
Slavery is a matter of degrees. On one extreme is the absolute right of the owner to do whatever he wishes to the slave. This form of slavery is no longer prevalent. Yet disenfranchising people from any provisions of the Charter of Human Rights constitutes a form of enslavement.
 
 
Slavery seamlessly became a part of Islam, since it was widely practiced by the Arabs. Slavery is repeatedly approved in the Quran. The Old Testament also sanctioned slavery. Yet, Jewish and Christian societies have long banned slavery while the Muslims consider every verse and word of the Quran as those of Allah that can never be revised, discarded or violated. Therefore, with the resurgence of Islam, more and more Islamic laws and ethos, including slavery of various types and degrees, are implemented. One clear validation of the practice of slavery is the sura below:
 
[Q 16.75] Allah sets forth a parable: (consider) a slave, the property of another, (who) has no power over anything, and one whom We have granted from ourselves a goodly sustenance so he spends from it secretly and openly; are the two alike? (All) praise is due to Allah!
 
Slavery, discrimination, exclusivity and many more unjust provisions are systemic to Islam without any possibility for reformation. Muslims revere the Quran as the eternal immutable words of Allah. They accept the Hadith, Muhammad’s sayings, as further elucidation of their faith and emulate the Sunna the way Muhammad, the perfect practitioner of Allah’s teachings, conducted his life.
 
Muslims believe that Allah himself is the author of the Quran, that he wrote each chapter himself and had the angel Gabriel deliver it to Muhammad, who was illiterate. Muhammad must have been endowed with perfect memory in order to transmit each verse of the Quran exactly as written by Allah. What Muhammad revealed bit-by-bit over twenty years, not a voluminous work by any measure, was recorded by various people on all manner of bones, parchments, and bark. At least four major versions of the Quran eventually emerged. So, Allah’s words were revealed by a perfect unerring messenger and were recorded by a number of imperfect humans in different versions. It remained for other imperfect humans, the Caliphs, to choose the one version they believed to be the literal perfect words of Allah and ordered the rest destroyed.
 
Based on the Quran itself, a number of Islamic precepts and practices clearly violate the provisions of human rights, institutionalize discrimination, and constrain liberty. A partial list of these violations is supplied below:
 
  • Freedom of assembly, expression, and worship is either denied or severely restricted in every Islamic country.
  • Women are relegated to a second class status, depriving them of many rights enjoyed by men.
  • Religious minorities are often harassed, their properties are confiscated, their holy places destroyed, their cemeteries leveled, and even their persons harmed without receiving justice.
  • “People of the book,” Jews and Christians, are treated as “tolerable,” since they together with Muslims are considered to be followers of the only three divine religions, while members of other religions, or no religion at all, are deemed ineligible for fair treatment under the law. Egypt, for instance, requires its citizens to obtain identity cards to be eligible for all the rights of citizenship, such as education, employment and medical care. Yet, gallingly, the same government denies these rights to those who are not members of the three divine religions or those who have no religious affiliation at all.
  • The Islamic Republic of Iran officially bars its largest non-Muslim minority, the Baha’is, from many rights of citizenship, including access to higher education solely for the “sin” of practicing a different faith.
  • Censorship of all sort are systemic to Islam. It is its way of mind control: an atrocious practice of keeping the mind in bondage. The press is required to parrot the approved line, and the violators are shut down and their staff imprisoned; Internet access to undesirable sites is routinely blocked; and, book publications pre-screened, and much much more.
  • Women, by the very nature of their second class status expressly stipulated in the Quran, are occasionally allowed a token high position in government, while non-Muslim minority citizens are virtually barred from securing any positions at all.
To better understand Islam, a brief reference to its birth may be helpful. The founder of Islam, Muhammad, worked for and married a wealthy woman many years his senior named Khadija. One day, alone in a secluded place, Muhammad had a revelation and reported the experience to Khadija. Khadija assured him that he had been chosen by Allah as his messenger. From that point on, Muhammad proceeded to reveal the Quran and the carved-in-granite Islam and its dogma was born.
 
Presently, with each passing day Islam is making inroads into both the traditionally Muslim lands as well as much of the non-Muslim world where Islam is beginning to run deep roots and vie with the laws and cultures of its hosts. Muslims are taking advantage of the freedom that democracies grant. They use the same provisions of the law that are intended to protect and enhance liberty to subvert democracy and freedom.
 
Islam is indeed a dangerous comprehensive form of slavery. Its very name, Islam, means submission or surrender. True to its name, Islam strives for nothing short of enslavement of the body of humanity as well as the bondage of its mind.
 
Complacency and appeasement on the part of free people can only serve Islam. There is no chance for co-existence with Islam. All one needs to know is to see what is happening in Islamic countries. That is exactly what is in store for the presently free people of the world if Islam is not held in check.
 
There is a hope that Muslims themselves may leave this Bedouin slaveholder religion. Yet, the hope is slim. Islam has a stranglehold on its slaves and will neither let them go, nor do the Muslims seem to have the insight or the will to leave it in large numbers. But hope, as slim as it is, keeps me sounding the alarm before the fire of Islam engulfs us all.
 
Warning to free people: Don't bank on the politicians, the master practitioners of the art of the politically correct, to protect liberty. Politicians must be urged by the citizens to safeguard liberty, scrutinized closely that they do the work, and be held accountable if they fail to do so. You, a citizen, also have a job to do. Take a few minutes a day and do what you can to protect freedom. “Freedom is not free,” may be a cliché. Yet, it is the most profound four-word sentence in the lexicon of the free.
Posted on 03/30/2011 1:36 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 30 March 2011
How Is Multiculturalism Working Out In Europe?

Watch here.

Posted on 03/30/2011 4:02 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 30 March 2011
Presumptuous Nonsense From Ban Ki-Moon

UN chief: Israel's occupation is 'morally, politically unsustainable'

Ban Ki-moon calls on Israel and the Palestinian Authority to take advantage of this 'crucial time' to move peace talks forward and realize the two-state solution.


United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on Israel Wednesday to halt settlement building in the West Bank and put a stop to all forms of violence and incitement, the UN News Center reported.

Speaking in Uruguay at the UN Latin American and Caribbean Meeting in support of Middle East peace Ban said it was a "crucial time" for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

“Time is of the essence in realizing the two-State solution, " Ban said, "the occupation that started in 1967 is morally and politically unsustainable, and must end. The Palestinians have a legitimate right to the establishment of an independent and viable State of their own."

“The target dates for reaching an Israeli-Palestinian agreement on permanent status issues and completing the Palestinian Authority’s two-year State-building program are fast-approaching. Yet, the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations remain at a worrying standstill. We must intensify efforts to break the deadlock,” he added.

Negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians hit a standstill in September after Israel resumed building in the West Bank following a moratorium on settlement building.

The secretary general continued, saying “actions that prejudge the outcome of the process must stop,” referring to Israel's continued settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem , demolition of Palestinian homes and other forms of violence and  incitement. [has Ban Ki-Moon understood the nature of the Middle East, or  read even the Preamble to the Mandate for Palestine? Does he understand what that Mandate was intended to accomplish? Does he know when the "Palestinian people" suddenly came into existence, and why? No? Why not?  Has he read, or even glanced at,  the studies, such as that by the Australian jurist Julius Stone, on the legal status of the "West Bank"? No? Why not?]

Ban then commended the Palestinian Authority for its efforts, the UN News center report said, praising the PA's efforts to establish state institutions, enforce security in the West Bank and receive international funding and recognition of its statehood goals. [what is he talking about? It is Israel that props up Abu Mazen, and enforces security, while the PA, full of corrupt warlords, continues to offer Nazi-like programs on its television programs for children]

The UN chief  chastised Israel, the report said, calling on the government to take the necessary steps to improve economic and security conditions for Palestinians by removing obstacles to freedom of movement, stopping military operations and enhancing the PA's scope of influence in the West Bank.

Ban also implored Israel to further ease its blockade in Gaza, the report said, which has been under Hamas control since 2007. Israel has refused to negotiate with Hamas, whose charter calls for Israel's destruction and is responsible for numerous attacks perpetrated against Israel and its civilians.

In recent weeks, Hamas and the more moderate West Bank-based Fatah have been engaging in preliminary talks, with the possibility of unification in the future. Israel has made it clear that in the event that Fatah and Hamas join forces, Israel will not be open to negotiations, and Fatah must choose its ally.

Ban reportedly condemned the recent escalation in rocket fire from Gaza to Israel, calling on both sides to prevent civilian casualties and act in conformity with international law, reiterating his “strong condemnation” of the recent bombing in Jerusalem, in which a 59-year-old British tourist was killed and over 30 wounded.

He stressed that "Israel has the right to live in peace and security within internationally recognized and secure borders." According to the report the secretary general then said that both Palestinians and Israelis are entitled to Jerusalem as its capital, with "arrangements for holy sites acceptable for all."

The UN chief also said there "must be a just and agreed solution to the prolonged plight of the Palestinian refugees," an issue that has been highly disputed in past peace negotiations.

The two-day meeting in Uruguay will discuss settlement expansion, Jerusalem and the recent recognition of Palestinian statehood by governments in the region, including Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, the report said.

Posted on 03/30/2011 5:25 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 30 March 2011
Quaere: Qaddafy? Al-Qaeda? Quis? Quid? Quibus Auxiliis?

From The National Post:

Libyan rebels’ Islamist ties cause concern: report

Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi gestures to his supporters before making a speech in which he sought to defuse tensions after more than 10 days of anti-government protests, in Tripoli March 2, 2011. Gaddafi, orchestrating a populist response to rebels threatening his rule, blamed al Qaeda on Wednesday for creating turmoil and told applauding supporters there was a conspiracy to control Libya and its oil

Ahmed Jadallah/Reuters

Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi gestures to his supporters before making a speech in which he sought to defuse tensions after more than 10 days of anti-government protests, in Tripoli March 2, 2011. Gaddafi, orchestrating a populist response to rebels threatening his rule, blamed al Qaeda on Wednesday for creating turmoil and told applauding supporters there was a conspiracy to control Libya and its oil

Stewart Bell, National Post · Mar. 29, 2011 

A Canadian intelligence report written in late 2009 called the anti-Gaddafi stronghold of eastern Libya an “epicentre of Islamist extremism” and said “extremist cells” operated in the region, now being defended by a Canadian-led NATO coalition.

The report by the government’s Integrated Threat Assessment Centre said “several Islamist insurgent groups” were based in eastern Libya and mosques in Benghazi were urging followers to fight in Iraq.

“Within the region, the population holds more conservative views compared to the rest of Libya and Islamist activism is strongly concentrated,” said the report labelled ‘‘secret’’ and released to the National Post under the Access to Information Act.

Concerns about the composition of the rebels began to surface Tuesday as the U.S., Britain, and Qatar said they would consider arming the rebels and NATO was to take charge of the coalition air campaign over Libya.

U.S. Admiral James Stavridis, NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, said there were “flickers” of al-Qaeda in the Libyan opposition. But he added there was no sign they were a significant component of the group that would replace Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

He called the opposition “responsible men and women who are struggling against Col. Gaddafi.” CNN quoted an unnamed counterterrorism official who said there was probably “a sprinkling of extremists to perhaps include al-Qaeda” in the rebels, “but no one should think the opposition is being led by al-Qaeda or one of its affiliates.”

But just over a year ago, the Canadian government, in an intelligence assessment written at the request of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, raised concerns about Islamists in eastern Libya.

“There are a number of small, independent extremist cells operating in the eastern regions of Libya that have no affiliation to other established terrorist groups,” said the report, Terrorist Threat to Canadian Interests in Libya.

It downplayed direct links to al-Qaeda but said the terror group was an influence. “Many Libyan extremists who have been detained claimed to be influenced by al-Qaeda, but do not appear to have direct links to al-Qaeda core in Pakistan.”

Libyan opposition leaders met in London in Tuesday with Hillary Clinton, the U.S. Secretary of State, and David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, who signaled they would allow Col. Gaddafi to seek exile, rather than face a war crimes tribunal.

“We are examining very closely the content, composition, the personalities, who are the leaders of these opposition forces,” Adm. Stavridis testified at a Senate hearing. “We have seen flickers in the intelligence of potential al-Qaeda, Hezbollah.”

The remarks are likely to be seized on by Col. Gaddafi who has repeatedly claimed the uprising is driven by terrorists. But the admiral added, “At this point I don’t have detail sufficient to say there is a significant al-Qaeda presence or any other terrorist presence.”

The Canadian intelligence report, dated Dec. 8, 2009, said in the early 1990s “several thousand” fighters began regrouping in Libya after returning from the Soviet war in Afghanistan. After attempts on his life in 1996 and 1998, Col. Gaddafi responded with a counter-insurgency campaign that “effectively suppressed the Islamist insurgency.”

The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, formed in 1991 to overthrow Col. Gaddafi and install shariah law, was crushed, its leaders imprisoned or exiled.

But during the Iraq war, imams at Benghazi’s mosques issued fatwas “instructing followers it was their duty to fight in Iraq. In geographical terms, therefore, the eastern regions represent the epicentre of Islamist extremism in Libya,” the report said.

It blamed unrest in the east partly on high unemployment and called Benghazi “underdeveloped relative to the rest of Libya.”

The eastern region has traditionally been the site of previous rebellions against the Libyan regime and where several Islamist insurgent groups were based,” wrote ITAC, the Ottawa-based agency made up of representatives of CSIS, RCMP, Canadian Forces and other departments.

Canada’s relationship with Libya had “strengthened considerably” since Col. Gaddafi renounced terrorism and stopped producing weapons of mass destruction in 2003, it said. A dozen Canadian firms were operating in Libya as of November, 2009.

Posted on 03/30/2011 7:20 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 30 March 2011
Ban Ki-Moon Does Not Understand The Jihad Against Israel, Nor The Palestine Mandate, Nor The U.N. Charter

From Haaretz:

UN chief: Israel's occupation is 'morally, politically unsustainable'

Ban Ki-moon calls on Israel and the Palestinian Authority to take advantage of this 'crucial time' to move peace talks forward and realize the two-state solution

 

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on Israel Wednesday to halt settlement building in the West Bank and put a stop to all forms of violence and incitement, the UN News Center reported.

Speaking in Uruguay at the UN Latin American and Caribbean Meeting in support of Middle East peace Ban said it was a "crucial time" for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

“Time is of the essence in realizing the two-State solution, " Ban said, "the occupation that started in 1967 is morally and politically unsustainable, and must end. The Palestinians have a legitimate right to the establishment of an independent and viable State of their own."

“The target dates for reaching an Israeli-Palestinian agreement on permanent status issues and completing the Palestinian Authority’s two-year State-building program are fast-approaching. Yet, the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations remain at a worrying standstill. We must intensify efforts to break the deadlock,” he added.

Negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians hit a standstill in September after Israel resumed building in the West Bank following a moratorium on settlement building.

The secretary general continued, saying “actions that prejudge the outcome of the process must stop,” referring to Israel's continued settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem , demolition of Palestinian homes and other forms of violence and  incitement.

Ban then commended the Palestinian Authority for its efforts, the UN News center report said, praising the PA's efforts to establish state institutions, enforce security in the West Bank and receive international funding and recognition of its statehood goals.

The UN chief  chastised Israel, the report said, calling on the government to take the necessary steps to improve economic and security conditions for Palestinians by removing obstacles to freedom of movement, stopping military operations and enhancing the PA's scope of influence in the West Bank.

Ban also implored Israel to further ease its blockade in Gaza, the report said, which has been under Hamas control since 2007. Israel has refused to negotiate with Hamas, whose charter calls for Israel's destruction and is responsible for numerous attacks perpetrated against Israel and its civilians.

In recent weeks, Hamas and the more moderate West Bank-based Fatah have been engaging in preliminary talks, with the possibility of unification in the future. Israel has made it clear that in the event that Fatah and Hamas join forces, Israel will not be open to negotiations, and Fatah must choose its ally.

Ban reportedly condemned the recent escalation in rocket fire from Gaza to Israel, calling on both sides to prevent civilian casualties and act in conformity with international law, reiterating his “strong condemnation” of the recent bombing in Jerusalem, in which a 59-year-old British tourist was killed and over 30 wounded.

He stressed that "Israel has the right to live in peace and security within internationally recognized and secure borders." According to the report the secretary general then said that both Palestinians and Israelis are entitled to Jerusalem as its capital, with "arrangements for holy sites acceptable for all."

The UN chief also said there "must be a just and agreed solution to the prolonged plight of the Palestinian refugees," an issue that has been highly disputed in past peace negotiations.

The two-day meeting in Uruguay will discuss settlement expansion, Jerusalem and the recent recognition of Palestinian statehood by governments in the region, including Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, the report said.

____________________________________________

A few things Ban Ki-Moon does not understand:

1. The League of Nations set up a mandates system after the breakuup of the Ottoman Empire. And one of the many mandates it set up -- the Mandate for Palestine -- was created for the express and sole purpose of establishing, in the historic homeland of the Jewish people, a place that would be the Jewish National Home. This was well understood by everyone, including Great Britain, which accepted the responsibility for the Mandate. However, for reasons of imperial considerations the British unilaterally blocked the application of the Mandate's key provisions -- encouraging Jewish immigration into Mandatory Palestine and "close Jewish settlement upon the land" (see the Preamble to the Mandate), and 78% of the total territory which was originally to be subject to the Mandate's provisions was instead turned into the Emirate of Transjordan.

When the State of Israel was declared, on May 15, 1948,  and war immediately made upon that nascent state by the Arab armies of its neighbors and even of some Arab armies that were more distant (i.e., Iraq), Israel did not lose legal title to the territory -- all of Western Palestine, that is from Jordan to the sea. It had,, until it came to an end, when the British pulled out, and the independence of Israel was declared. Nor did Israel lose legal title to those parts of Judea and Samaria which remained, at the end of the 1948 war, in the hands of the Jordanians. They were the military occupiers. Israel, when in 1967 it won, by force of arms in a war that Nasser created, that same territory, defeating the Jordanians (whom the Israelis had pleaded with not to enter the war), Israel now possessed to territory to which it already had, by the Mandate, legal title.

The parts of Judea and Samaria -- terms in use, in the West, for more than 2000 years -- that the Jordanians carefully renamed as "the West Bank" (an absurd designation, in every sense) -- that Israel already had legal title to, could have been and should have been, promptly annexed in the summer of 1967. But the Israelis were ignorant of Islam, did not realize that they should never have hoped to "negotiate a final peace settlement with the Arabs by surrendering territory to which they had full legal title, and in not making clear exactly what their claim consisted of, and why the world should understand just what the Mandate was all about, what the Treaty of San Remo was all about, and what the U.N., in fact, through Article 80 of its Charter, was required to do  -- which was, in effect, not to extinguish but to preserve the claims existing under the Mandates system inherited from the League of Nations.

When Ban Ki-Moon dares to presume -- ultra vires, and certainly in violation of the relevant legal norms -- to dictate to Israel what it "must" do with what he calls, wrongly, its "occupation," he does more than harm Israel. He also reinforces the dangerous misunderstanding of what the war against Israel is. It is not a limited war. It has nothing to do with "the occupation" -- wrong and false as that word is. It is about the Muslim Arab unwillingness, a permanent unwillingness, to contemplate an Infidel nation-state existing in the midst of Dar al-Islam. This cannot be allowed, according to minds on Islam. And when Ban Ki-Moon, a presumuptous naif, and a man ignorant of Islam, tells Israel what it must or must not do, he is also furthering the misconception - so terrible for the entire Western world -- about what that war being made, by all means, on Israel is all about, and how it connects to the larger war, now deep within the West itself, of the forces of Islam on all non-Muslims.

Ban Ki-Moon has spoken. And we are free to mock, and to ignore, what he says. And for the larger West's own wellbeing, not only for Israel's, we should. We must.

Posted on 03/30/2011 5:04 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 30 March 2011
A Cinematic Musical Interlude: Anything Goes ( "Pennies From Heaven")

Watch, and listen, here.

Posted on 03/30/2011 5:56 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 30 March 2011
Since Egypt Behind The Scenes Has Been Backing Sudan's Arabs To The Hilt....

Khartoum — Dean of the Sudanese Bar Association, Dr. Abdul-Rahman Ibrahim Al-Khalifa has called for unity between Sudan and Egypt. This came when Dr. Al-Khalifa met Monday with the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Nabil Al-Arabi, in the presence of Egypt Ambassador to Sudan, Abdul-Ghafar Al-Deeb.

He said in a press statement following the meeting that the two sides stressed the importance of consolidating the bilateral relations between Sudan and Egypt and the full coordination between them regionally and internationally.

The Egyptian Foreign Minister referred to his country's genuine desire to have unlimited cooperation with Sudan, stressing that the visit of the Council of Ministers of Egypt to Sudan was indication for the firm ties and the integration between the two countries.

Posted on 03/30/2011 6:01 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 30 March 2011
A Death In Bangladesh, Or What Shari'a Means In Practice

 

Only 14, Bangladeshi girl charged with adultery was lashed to death

By Farid Ahmed and Moni Basu, CNN
March 29, 2011
Darbesh Khan and his wife, Aklima Begum, had no choice but to watch their youngest daughter being whipped until she dropped.
Darbesh Khan and his wife, Aklima Begum, had no choice but to watch their youngest daughter being whipped until she dropped.
 

Shariatpur, Bangladesh (CNN) -- Hena Akhter's last words to her mother proclaimed her innocence. But it was too late to save the 14-year-old girl.

Her fellow villagers in Bangladesh's Shariatpur district had already passed harsh judgment on her. Guilty, they said, of having an affair with a married man. The imam from the local mosque ordered the fatwa, or religious ruling, and the punishment: 101 lashes delivered swiftly, deliberately in public.

Hena dropped after 70.

Bloodied and bruised, she was taken to hospital, where she died a week later.

Amazingly, an initial autopsy report cited no injuries and deemed her death a suicide. Hena's family insisted her body be exhumed. They wanted the world to know what really happened to their daughter.

Sharia: illegal but still practiced

Hena's family hailed from rural Shariatpur, crisscrossed by murky rivers that lend waters to rice paddies and lush vegetable fields.

Hena was the youngest of five children born to Darbesh Khan, a day laborer, and his wife, Aklima Begum. They shared a hut made from corrugated tin and decaying wood and led a simple life that was suddenly marred a year ago with the return of Hena's cousin Mahbub Khan.

Mahbub Khan came back to Shariatpur from a stint working in Malaysia. His son was Hena's age and the two were in seventh grade together.

Khan eyed Hena and began harassing her on her way to school and back, said Hena's father. He complained to the elders who run the village about his nephew, three times Hena's age.

The elders admonished Mahbub Khan and ordered him to pay $1,000 in fines to Hena's family. But Mahbub was Darbesh's older brother's son and Darbesh was asked to let the matter fade.

Many months later on a winter night, as Hena's sister Alya told it, Hena was walking from her room to an outdoor toilet when Mahbub Khan gagged her with cloth, forced her behind nearby shrubbery and beat and raped her.

Hena struggled to escape, Alya told CNN. Mahbub Khan's wife heard Hena's muffled screams and when she found Hena with her husband, she dragged the teenage girl back to her hut, beat her and trampled her on the floor.

The next day, the village elders met to discuss the case at Mahbub Khan's house, Alya said. The imam pronounced his fatwa. Khan and Hena were found guilty of an illicit relationship. Her punishment under sharia or Islamic law was 101 lashes; his 201.

Mahbub Khan managed to escape after the first few lashes.

Darbesh Khan and Aklima Begum had no choice but to mind the imam's order. They watched as the whip broke the skin of their youngest child and she fell unconscious to the ground.

"What happened to Hena is unfortunate and we all have to be ashamed that we couldn't save her life," said Sultana Kamal, who heads the rights organization Ain o Shalish Kendro.

Bangladesh is considered a democratic and moderate Muslim country, and national law forbids the practice of sharia. But activist and journalist Shoaib Choudhury, who documents such cases, said sharia is still very much in use in villages and towns aided by the lack of education and strong judicial systems.

The Supreme Court also outlawed fatwas a decade ago, but human rights monitors have documented more than 500 cases of women in those 10 years who were punished through a religious ruling. And few who have issued such rulings have been charged.

Last month, the court asked the government to explain what it had done to stop extrajudicial penalty based on fatwa. It ordered the dissemination of information to all mosques and madrassas, or religious schools, that sharia is illegal in Bangladesh.

"The government needs to enact a specific law to deal with such perpetrators responsible for extrajudicial penalty in the name of Islam," Kamal told CNN.

The United Nations estimates that almost half of Bangladeshi women suffer from domestic violence and many also commonly endure rape, beatings, acid attacks and even death because of the country's entrenched patriarchal system.

The government needs to enact a specific law to deal with such perpetrators responsible for extrajudicial penalty in the name of Islam.
--Sultana Kamal, head of rights organization Ain o Shalish Kendro.

Hena might have quietly become another one of those statistics had it not been for the outcry and media attention that followed her death on January 31.

'Not even old enough to be married'

Monday, the doctors responsible for Hena's first autopsy faced prosecution for what a court called a "false post-mortem report to hide the real cause of Hena's death."

Public outrage sparked by that autopsy report prompted the high court to order the exhumation of Hena's body in February. A second autopsy performed at Dhaka Medical College Hospital revealed Hena had died of internal bleeding and her body bore the marks of severe injuries.

Police are now conducting an investigation and have arrested several people, including Mahbub Khan, in connection with Hena's death.

"I've nothing to demand but justice," said Darbesh Khan, leading a reporter to the place where his daughter was abducted the night she was raped.

He stood in silence and took a deep breath. She wasn't even old enough to be married, he said, testament to Hena's tenderness in a part of the world where many girls are married before adulthood. "She was so small."

Hena's mother, Aklima, stared vacantly as she spoke of her daughter's last hours. She could barely get out her words. "She was innocent," Aklima said, recalling Hena's last words.

Police were guarding Hena's family earlier this month. Darbesh and Aklima feared reprisal for having spoken out against the imam and the village elders.

They had meted out the most severe punishment for their youngest daughter. They could put nothing past them.

Posted on 03/30/2011 6:05 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 30 March 2011
In Bahrain, It's Not Good To Be Wounded And Shi'a

Report: Bahraini forces target wounded protesters

(CNN) -- Bahraini authorities are targeting wounded anti-government protesters and sometimes denying them crucial medical care, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday.

After weeks of protests in the Persian Gulf nation, Bahraini security forces took over Salmaniya Medical Complex, one of the country's biggest hospitals.

Security forces stormed the hospital on March 16 and since then have been using it as place to identify people who are part of the protests, Human Rights Watch contends.

"Military forces have sought out and threatened, beaten and detained patients injured by tear gas, rubber bullets, birdshot pellets, and live ammunition," the organization said in a statement. "These patients also have been removed from hospitals or forcibly transferred to other medical facilities, often against medical advice."

Bahraini officials could not be immediately reached for comment. But the government has in the past responded to similar claims by Human Rights Watch.

At the time, the organization accused Bahraini forces of a campaign of arresting doctors.

"What such organizations have so far failed to understand is that the services of some of Bahrain's main medical facilities, including Salmaniya Medical Complex, had been overrun by political and sectarian activity," the government said last week.

The arrests and government crackdown is part of an effort to stop thousands of people who have been demonstrating in Bahrain since last month.

The protests are part of a wave that has spread through North Africa and the Middle East. To quell the unrest, Bahrain called in troops from members states of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Many have been arrested, with prominent blogger Mahmood al-Yousif among the most recent.

Yousif, who has been caled the "Blogfather" because of his influential anti-sectarianism blog, was arrested Wednesday, his wife told CNN.

Posted on 03/30/2011 6:08 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 30 March 2011
Hindu Temple Attacked In Australia

SYDNEY: One of Australia's oldest Hindu temples located here was attacked by two men in balaclavas who fired eight bullets, a media report said Wednesday.

Sydney Morning Herald reported that bullet holes could be seen on the wall of Auburn's Sri Mandir temple, which it said is Australia's first Hindu temple.

CCTV cameras showed that two men in balaclavas fired the shots on the night of March 19. There were no worshippers when the attack took place.

A police spokeswoman said they were working with the community as part of the probe.

Yadu Singh, president of the Council of Indian Australians, said the shooting was a sign that the attacks on the temple were turning serious.

"The bottom line is that something needs to be done, because it is not a one-off," he was quoted as saying.

"We have a right to exist; we have a right to practise our religion."

Temple priest Jatinkumar Bhatt said: "Throwing eggs and bottles is an ongoing process, but this bullet really put us in a panic."

Posted on 03/30/2011 6:12 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 30 March 2011
Mark Steyn: The U. S. Military "Volunteered By Others"

From Mark Steyn's The Art of Inconclusive War at National Review:

 

"It is tempting and certainly very easy to point out that Obama’s war (or Obama’s “kinetic military action,” or “time-limited, scope-limited military action,” or whatever the latest ever more preposterous evasion is) is at odds with everything candidate Obama said about U.S. military action before his election. And certainly every attempt the president makes to explain his Libyan adventure is either cringe-makingly stupid (“I’m accustomed to this contradiction of being both a commander-in-chief but also somebody who aspires to peace”) or alarmingly revealing of a very peculiar worldview:

That’s why building this international coalition has been so important,” he said the other day. “It is our military that is being volunteered by others to carry out missions that are important not only to us, but are important internationally.

That’s great news. Who doesn’t enjoy volunteering other people? The Arab League, for reasons best known to itself, decided that Colonel Qaddafi had outlived his sell-by date. Granted that the region’s squalid polities haven’t had a decent military commander since King Hussein fired Gen. Sir John Glubb half a century back, how difficult could it be even for Arab armies to knock off a psychotic transvestite guarded by Austin Powers fembots? But no: Instead, the Arab League decided to volunteer the U.S. military.

Likewise, the French and the British. Libya’s special forces are trained by Britain’s SAS. Four years ago, President Sarkozy hosted a state visit for Colonel Qaddafi, his personal security detail of 30 virgins, his favorite camel, and a 400-strong entourage that helped pitch his tent in the heart of Paris. Given that London and Paris have the third – and fourth-biggest military budgets on the planet and that between them they know everything about Qaddafi’s elite troops, sleeping arrangements, guard-babes, and dromedaries, why couldn’t they take him out? But no: They too decided to volunteer the U.S. military.

Posted on 03/30/2011 6:25 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 30 March 2011
Time to Unmask Muhammad

To know why Islam is a mortal danger one must not only consider the Koran but also the character of Muhammad, who conceived the Koran and the entirety of Islam.

The Koran is not just a book. Muslims believe that Allah himself wrote it and that it was dictated to Muhammad in the original version, the Umm al-Kitab, which is kept on a table in heaven. Consequently one cannot argue with the contents. Who would dare to disagree with what Allah himself has written? This explains much of Muhammadan behaviour, from the violence of jihad to the hatred and persecution of Jews, Christians and other non-Muslims and apostates. What we in the West regard as abnormal, is perfectly normal for Islam.

A second insuperable problem with Islam is the figure of Muhammad. He is not just anyone. He is al-insan al-kamil, the perfect man. To become a Muslim one must pronounce the Shahada(the Muslim creed). By pronouncing the Shahada one testifies that there is no god that can be worshipped except Allah, and one testifies that Muhammad is his servant and messenger.

The Koran, and hence Allah, lays down that Muhammad’s life must be imitated. The consequences of this are horrendous and can be witnessed on a daily basis.

There has been much analysis of Muhammad’s mental sanity. In spite of all the available research, it is rarely mentioned or debated. It is a taboo to discuss the true nature of the man whom one and a half billion Muslims around the world regard as a holy prophet and example to be followed. That taboo must be breached in the West, and here in the Netherlands.

Ali Sina is an Iranian ex-Muslim who established the organisation for apostates of Islam Faith  Freedom International. In his latest book he posits that Muhammad is a narcissist, a paedophile, a mass murderer, a terrorist, a misogynist, a lecher, a cult leader, a madman, a rapist, a torturer, an assassin and a looter (*). Sina has offered 50,000 dollars for the one who can prove otherwise. Nobody has claimed the reward as yet. And no wonder, as the description is based on the Islamic texts themselves, such as the hadiths, the descriptions of Muhammad’s life from testimonies of contemporaries.

The historical Muhammad was the savage leader of a gang of robbers from Medina. Without scruples they looted, raped and murdered. The sources describe orgies of savagery where hundreds of people’s throats were cut, hands and feet chopped off, eyes cut out, entire tribes massacred. An example is the extinction of the jewish Kurayza tribe in Medina in 627. One of those who chopped off their heads was Muhammad. The women and children were sold as slaves. Confronted with the lunacy of Islamic terrorists today, it is not hard to find out where the lunacy comes from.

In Vienna the women’s rights activist Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff was recently sentenced to paying a fine for insulting a religion by calling Muhammad a paedophile. However, that is the truth. Numerous hadiths contain testimonies by Muhammad’s favourite wife, the child wife Aisha. Aisha literally says: “The prophet married me when I was six years old, and had intercourse with me when I was nine.”

According to the historian Theophanes (752-817) Muhammad was an epileptic. Epileptic crises are sometimes accompanied by hallucinations, perspiration from the forehead and foaming at the mouth, the very symptoms which Muhammad displayed during his visions.

In his book “The other Muhammad” (1992) the Flemish psychologist Dr. Herman Somers concludes that in his forties the “prophet” began to suffer from acromegaly, a condition caused by a tumor in the pituitary gland, a small organ that is situated just below the brain. When the tumor in the pituitary gland causes too much pressure in the brain, people start to see and hear things that are not there. Somers’s psychopathological diagnosis of Muhammad’s condition is: organic hallucinatory affliction with paranoid characteristics.

The German medical historian Armin Geus speaks of a paranoid hallucinatory schizophrenia. A similar analysis can be found in the book “The Medical Case of Muhammad” by the physician Dede Korkut.

In his book “Psychology of Mohammed: Inside the Brain of a Prophet” Dr. Masud Ansari calls Muhammad “the perfect personification of a psychopath in power.” Muhammad had a unhinged paranoid personality with an inferiority complex and megalomaniac tendencies. In his forties he starts having visions that lead him to believe he has a cosmic mission, and there is no stopping him.

The truth is not always pleasant or politically correct. On the basis of the research referred to above it can be argued that the Islamic creed obliges one and a half billion people around the world, including the one million living in the Netherlands, to take Muhammad as their example. There is no turning back once one has become a Muslim. For even though article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that every person has the right to “change his religion or belief,” in Islam there is a death penalty for leaving the faith.

Anyone who voices criticism of Islam and Muhammad is in grave personal danger – as I have experienced. And whoever attempts to escape from the influence of Islam and Muhammad risks death. We cannot continue to accept this state of affairs. A public debate about the true nature and character of Muhammad can provide insight and support to Muslims all over the world who wish to leave Islam.

Apostates are heroes and more than ever they deserve the support of  freedom loving people all over the world. Party politics should not be at play in this matter. It is time for us to help these people by exposing Muhammad.

Geert Wilders is an MP in the Netherlands. He is the Chairman of the Party for Freedom (PVV)

This article was originally published in the Dutch weekly magazine “HP/De Tijd” of March 30, 2011

(*) http://www.jpost.com/Home/Article.aspx?id=104835

Posted on 03/30/2011 7:39 AM by Geert Wilders
Wednesday, 30 March 2011
A Report on a Misguided Arab Israel Relations Philadelphia Jewish Federation Program

We received this confidential report from a source in Philadelphia who attended a Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) event “The Current State of Jewish-Arab Relations in Israel” intended to explore “recent Israeli government and North American initiatives on Jewish-Arab cooperation.” This JCRC program was sponsored by the local Jewish Federation in Philadelphia on March 28th. Read it and ask yourself if this is what Jewish Federation (JFed) dollars should be supporting. Moreoever, is this another example of what other Federations are doing with major donor funds, like the misguided Orange County California JFed's sponsorship of the controversial Olive Tree Initiative at U.C. Irvine? A "Wolf in Sheep's Clothing?" If it is, then in our view it is neither in the interests of the local Jewish communities nor the Jewish State of Israel.  Perhaps the Philadelphia JFed, like others across America, should take a seriously look at the Pledge we publihsed in the NER to stop such programs before it is too late.

The confidential report on the Philadlephia JCRC event follows:

The Philadelphia Jewish Community Relations Council, an arm of Philadelphia’s Jewish Federation, sponsored and hosted in the Federation building a program on Monday, March 28, billed as “The Current State of Jewish-Arab Relations in Israel” and intended to explore “recent Israeli government and North American initiatives on Jewish-Arab cooperation.”

Would this event be to reaffirm that Israel is the exception in all of the Middle East with regard to how the majority population treats its minority citizens? Would this be about the fact that Arabs living in Israel have more rights and freedoms than do Arabs in any other country in the Arab world? Or would this be about how “terrible” Israel treats its Arab population?

The presenters mostly discussed Israel’s shortcomings, and the yardstick of Israel compared to the rest of the Middle East was absent from the conversation. The evening was largely spent by describing an Israel that is – at best -- callous toward its Arab citizens, and at worst, racist and thuggish with regard to this minority population. While there was some praise for the Israeli government in recent years mandating programs to better integrate the Arabs and have projects to help them, they condemned the implementation of these programs which they claimed was largely lacking, said presenters, and they repeatedly extolled Israel’s supreme court for constantly overruling or undoing the legislation passed by the Knesset.

The Arab presenter on the panel spoke of needing to prevent the “Judaising of the Galillee” and the Israeli government’s “confiscation of Arab lands.”

There was no mention of domestic Arab/Muslim anti-Israel activity, and when it was mentioned during the Q & A that Israeli Jews are offended when Arab Members of Knesset meet with leaders of Israel’s enemies Hamas and Syria, the Arab on the panel brushed off these criticisms as “jealousy.”

There was recognition of the Israeli government’s building of high schools and public transportation networks in Arab towns and encouragement toward entrepreneurial development.

The event was controlled by Jessica Balaban, “executive director of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Israeli Arab Issues, a broad based coalition of the organized Jewish community that educates on Jewish-Arab relations in Israel, named by Slingshot as one of the current top 50 innovative Jewish organizations in North America” who served as moderator, directing the questions to the panelists and setting the tone. Panelists were Mohammad Darawshe and Amnon Be'eri Sulitzeanu, co-directors of the Abraham Fund Initiatives, “two of Israel's top civil society experts;” and Stuart Brown, treasurer of the Naomi and Nehemiah Cohen Foundation and Chair, Jewish Federations of North America Social Venture Fund for Jewish-Arab Equality and Shared Society.

It was noted at the end that the New Israel Fund is a partner in this endeavor, and it has the endorsement of numerous Federations and some 90 Jewish organizations.

It was emphasized repeatedly that the land of Israel – within the “Green Line” must be shared, and that it is in the best interest of Israel to lift up its Arab towns and citizens and even to promote tourism there – such as Federation mission participants stopping in these towns for commerce.

“Highlights”

From Sulitzeanu:

·         “Many Israelis don’t accept the idea of equality.”

·         “Every other week there are violent assaults of [against] Arabs [by Jews] because they are Arabs.”

·         “Mainstream Arab society says that strategically it is best for them [Israeli Arabs] to be Israeli.”

·         Israeli laws limiting where Arabs can live are “unconstitutional.”

From Darawashe:

·         There is “polarization” between Arabs and Jews.

·         “Israel has failed to develop an Israeli identity. There is a Jewish identity and an Arab identity.”

·         “Jews are a majority with a minority attitude. Arabs are a minority with a majority attitude.”

·         “[On the matter of: Is Israel a Jewish state or a democratic state]: Israel first and foremost is a normal state – a state of its citizens.”

·         “Racism [by Jews] exceeds racism [by Arabs] and Islamic fundamentalism.”

·         “Half the problems of the Arab community are self-made”

Asked if he thinks Israel is an “apartheid” state, he said no, adding “It’s not even a racist state.” But when pressed if Israeli Arabs will get involved in smashing the slander that is accepted on many university campuses, he claimed that he is trying himself, but for Israeli Arabs, it is not their battle.

The man from the foundation noted that his group is funding these initiatives as are many Federations – and the New Israel Fund – and urged more people to fund this work.

Posted on 03/30/2011 7:30 AM by Jerry Gordon
Wednesday, 30 March 2011
Orange County, California J-Fed Letter Exposes Hamas Contact during U.C. Irvine Olive Tree Initiative Trip in 2009

Olive Tree Initiative of U.C. Irvine

It is truly amazing what you find under the FOIA request system in our public institutions, whether Federal or State. The instant case is a letter sent on October 8, 2009 by the co-heads of the Rose Project, Jeffrey Margolis and Dr. James Weiss, and the President & CEO head of the Jewish Federation of Orange County, Shalom C. Elcott, the brother of left liberal David Elcott of J Street, the New York-based Israel Policy Forum, to Chancellor Drake of the University of California, Irvine. The letter was  published  by the Orange County (California) Task Force on Antisemitism, yesterday. In it  the authors wring their  hands about the fact that Jewish students on the 2009 Olive Tree Initiative funded by the Rose Project of the OC JFed had inadvedently met with a Hamas representative, Aziz Duwaik, Speaker of the Palestine Legislative Council on September 16th.  To compound the difficulty, the students were told by an unidentified person, presumably, the field co-coordinator for the OTI program, to say nothing while passing through Israel or upon arrival back in California, as it might look as if they were giving under our laws material assistance to a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Here are some excerpts of the  letter to Chancellor Drake:

On Sunday, September 20, 2009, the second class of the Olive tree Initiative (OTI) returned from their travels in Israel and the west Bank. As its largest funder, Jewish Federation has strongly supported the concept and development of OTI from its inception.

{. . .}  We expected, and believed we had received, full disclosure about program details. This is why we were quite surprised to learn, following the recent return of the OTI group, that they conducted an unapproved, off-itinerary meeting on September 16th with Aziz Duwaik, a notable Hamas figure.

We were further distressed to learn that, ostensibly, the students were asked to keep this meeting a secret. We have been informed by OTI student participants, that they were instructed by [name redacted] ‘not to tell anyone about the meeting with Duwaik. According to the information we received, the students were given two reasons to keep the meeting under wraps; (1) to avoid being detained upon reentering Israel from the west bank or being held at the airport before leaving the country; and (2) to avoid confrontation with anyone who would have disagreed with this meeting had they known about it in advance – namely Orange County Jewish community and leadership, and UCI administration.  One UCI faculty member and two UCI doctoral candidates were in charge of arrangements on the ground. [Name redacted] was well aware of Jewish Federation's ‘redlines’ – what could or could not be done on an OTI trip. Taking UCI [students] to meet a Hamas leader crossed those red lines, and put the University and Jewish Federation in a precarious position. We are deeply troubled that this incident could potentially derail the substantial progress we have made together in building multicultural bridges at UCI.

Elcott goes on to wring his hands about the untoward consequences of this OTI Hamas meeting:

We expect that many in our Jeiwsh community – in OC, nationally and around the world - - will be astonished and furious that a Jewish organization would sponsor any program that directlt exposed students to a leader of a recognized terrorist organization. Our community’s relations with the Israeli government may be affected, and there may be cause for action by our parent organization, United Jewish Communities.

Towards the end of this letter to Chancellor Drake, the authors  try "to connect the dots" between September 2009 OTI Hamas meeting on the West Bank with the May 2009 George Callaway Viva Palestina MSU fundraiser on the U.C. Irvine campus that we wrote about in an NER investigative article, “Coming to a Mosque Near You: “Pimping for terrorists”.

The ZOA has reason to believe that this fundraiser may have provided material support to Hamas in July 2009. While this is an entirely separate issue from the OTI concerns, you should take into account the possibility that both issues involved Hamas and could be linked in any media story.

If Federation President  Elcott and Rose Project co-heads Margolis and Weiss were  in possession of the facts about the OTI students visiting with Aziz Duwaik of Hamas, and they wanted to inform Chancellor Drake and preserve the OTI program, why did they write this letter, instead of personally arranging a meeting with Drake, presenting the facts and getting the situation squared away, quietly? Because the  letter has so many co-authors  we suspect that the counsel for the Federation suggested this approach so as to put the onus on the University, while looking like the good guys, all while realizing that Rose project funds begat this situation. The untoward consequence of the OCJFed's Rose Project funding of the OTI was violating US terrorism laws by giving material assistance to a designated terrorist organization. This redacted letter clearly leaves out the name of the OTI program coordinator, which should be easily tracked down. 

The existence of this letter was like a ticking time bomb in the Federation's files. They  knew it was only a matter of time before someone else would discover and disclose it.

The issue is how best to use this  information and towards what end?  If  the letter embarrasses Shalom Elcott causing his dismissal by the OCJFed board is that the only result? After all, Elcott and the Rose Project funders went on to fund the 2010 trip only to have George Rishmawi, a co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement be invited by the OTI student leaders to speak on the U.C. Irvine campus last November leading to further controversy.  Or should the primary objective be shutting down the OTI program at U.C. Irvine and withdrawing the funding for it from the Rose project, as well as closing similar OTI programs that have sprouted up at other U.C. institutions and the University of Southern California. Those are two distinct, and in our view, necessary outcomes.  

Another derivative outcome is outrage by Jewish community grass roots activists across America to force JFed boards to adopt a Pledge we have adapted from one developed by the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation to deny funding of such questionable  Middle East outreach projects, whether at home in America or abroad in the region. The OCJFed letter to Chancellor Drake justifies the adoption of the Pledge we published as a prophylactic against such dangerous actions that resulted in what occurred on the 2009 U.C. Irvine OTI to the West Bank; students meeting Hamas notable Aziz Duwaik, whose Charter mandates the destruction of the Jewish State of Israel.  

Somehow we believe that the National Jewish Federation leadership will simply declare the OC JFed OTI debacle a one off situation, so that it won’t taint similar outreach to Muslim and Arab groups like the one that occurred in Philadelphia this past Monday. See our separate post of a confidential report on that program organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Philadelphia Jewish Federation,“The Current State of Jewish-Arab Relations in Israel” and intended to explore “recent Israeli government and North American initiatives on Jewish-Arab cooperation.”    

That would be disingenuous and betray the interests of the Jewish community from whom the JFeds draw funds for support. Being caught supporting activities that are inimical to the interests of both the Jewish State of Israel and the United States would be staggeringly stupid. But that is effectively what happened out in Orange County. What is the careworn expression?  Oh what a tangled web we weave when we first begin to deceive. Pour les deluge, as the French would say.

One thing for sure, the exposure of this Elcott-Drake letter vindicates the criticisms by local Zionist activist Dee Sterling and others of the OTI  program and the moral blindness of JFed leaders like Elcott and the Rose project funders in fostering such unintended consequences.

 

Posted on 03/30/2011 7:54 AM by Jerry Gordon
Wednesday, 30 March 2011
OPEC Set to Clear A Trillion Dollars for the Year

From the Financial Times:

Opec, the oil producers’ cartel, will reap $1,000bn in export revenues this year for the first time if crude prices remain above $100 a barrel, according to the International Energy Agency.

The cartel has been one of the main beneficiaries of high oil prices, which have soared in recent weeks amid the civil uprisings in the Middle East and north Africa.

Fatih Birol, chief economist at the IEA, said a new assessment by the rich nations’ oil watchdog showed that the total number of barrels exported by Opec in 2011 would be slightly lower than in 2008, when cartel oil revenues reached $990bn. But if average prices remain around $100 a barrel, Opec’s oil revenues will still reach a record of $1,000bn this year.

“It would be the first time in the history of Opec that oil revenues have reached a trillion dollars. It’s mainly because of higher prices and higher production,” Mr Birol said in a Financial Times interview. “However, Saudi Arabia has made substantial efforts to calm down the oil markets by increasing production and hinder prices from going higher.”

For which we are conditioned to play the eternally grateful dhimmis.

Posted on 03/30/2011 8:30 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Wednesday, 30 March 2011
David Yerushalmi Blacklisted as an Extremist by Foxman of the ADL

David Yerushalmi, Esq.        Abe Foxman of the ADL

Abe Foxman jumped on the bandwagon of the anti-anti-Muslim bigotry issue this week by ‘blacklisting’ David Yerushalmi, Esq. the architect of the Mapping Sharia Project and American Law for American Courts model legislation. Foxman called Yerushalmi an ‘extremist’ and a “racist bigot.” Sounds almost like something that Ibrahim Hooper, flackmeister for CAIR would utter. But, no it was from Jewish Holocaust survivor Abe Foxman. You can read Forman’s diatribe, here. We interviewed Yerushalmi in the December NER, “Fighting Sharia through the law”.

Fellow on-line journalist, Alyssa Lappen wrote a letter to Abe Foxman of the ADL rebutting his accusations of Yerushalmi, his work and views that we have published below.

We wrote Yerushalmi and gave him our reasons why Foxman took him to task-self interest in protecting multi-cultural diversity and Muslim outreach.

Here’s an excerpt of what I wrote Yerushalmi:

Of course we both know the reason why the ADL took out after you. It is because of their Amicus Brief filed in the Murfreesboro Chancery Court Hearing over the lack of due process in the matter of approvals for the expansion of the Islamic Center there and the mangled issue of Sharia – the subject of this weekend CNN “Unwelcome: The Muslims next door” Soledad O’Brien documentary. The ADL formed an interfaith group to combat alleged anti-Muslim Mosque discrimination, the Interfaith Committee on Mosques or ICOM, following its waffled stand on the opposition to the Ground Zero Mosque. The ADL-ICOM first order of business was to file the Murfreesboro Chancery Court amicus filing, as a prelude to AG Erick Holder’s interventionist amicus brief designating Islam an official religion, something that I believe the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment doesn’t condone. The other reason is clearly your magisterial role as the father of the ‘American Laws for American Courts’ model anti-Sharia law that you drafted for the Public Policy Alliance that has been introduced in various incarnations in many states this legislative season.

Here is what Alyssa Lappen wrote to Foxman over his rebuke of Yerushalmi:

Dear Mr. Foxman ---

I am absolutely appalled that ADL has smeared the name of a reputable attorney, David Yerushalmi alongside others who, unlike him, are indeed egregious in word and deed.

Attorney Yerushalmi was rankly faulted in a terribly unprofessional article some weeks ago. In my opinion, as a journalist of 35 years experience, this is a case in which he was genuinely libeled and I certainly hope he intends to sue. I believe he has a cause of action.

As you know, libel in America consists of stating something inaccurate (often intentionally) --- and with purposeful malice. The article I note above contained no facts on which to base its opinions, and malice virtually dripped from the prose. In recent years, journalists have often made me ashamed of my lifelong profession, but this piece took the cake and the frosting as well. If it had any role, partial or otherwise, in your determination to add Mr. Yerushalmi to a list of hate-mongers, I would urge you to reconsider.

I have spoken with Mr. Yerushalmi as a source and find him one of the most precise attorneys I know. His information is absolutely credible. He thoroughly and exactly cites many Islamic law texts. He is never inaccurate. Never. He is certainly not the hateful man that you paint him.

Perhaps you are unaware that the national leadership of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), on the other hand, has repeatedly been identified by federal law-enforcement officials to have had links with terrorist organizations. This occurred in Nov. 2008 with the Holy Land Foundation Hamas and terror-financing case. The government obtained 108 unanimous verdicts on ALL 108 terror-financing, money laundering and tax fraud charges leveled against five HLF officers. Some of the funds they sent to Hamas had washed through CAIR accounts, proven by canceled check copies.

Federal evidence was again cited in the civil suit by the family of David Boim in the Chicago 7th District Court of appeals against the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP) --- CAIR's predecessor and co-founder --- in Dec. 2008. The federal judge in that case ruled that the CAIR predecessor --- namely the IAP --- was indeed inseparable from the Muslim Brotherhood and the Muslim American Society and he held their agents responsible, fully and finally, for the $156 million judgment in the Boim's case against them. Thus $156 million less is now available to fund Hamas terrorism.

Then in October 2010, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled that hundreds of individuals and organizations named as unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation case --- including CAIR --- would NOT be delisted as unindicted co-conspirators, due to the preponderance of evidence against them. CAIR knew and knows that the evidence against its leadership and several CAIR chapters is indeed so strong that it could never have won an appeal, and did not even try. An appeal was filed by another North American Muslim Brotherhood organization with which you may not be familiar, the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), a subsidiary of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA).

It is a travesty that you brand as a hate monger a man legitimately attempting --- via the U.S. courts --- to legally defeat efforts of the above groups, among others, to increasingly impose Islamic law through secular U.S. civil courts and institutions. Unfortunately, the encroachment of these laws is not a "theory" but is a well-established fact.

In Florida, in the last few weeks, a judge ruled that a mosque must --- under secular U.S. laws --- follow Sharia to resolve an internal dispute between members. Those suing came to America to ESCAPE Sharia law. Yet now a U.S. court has ordered them to adhere to it. They will appeal this egregious decision, rightfully so.

A New Jersey judge ruled some months ago that a man who had badly beaten his wife had the right to do so, since Sharia condones this practice. Fortunately, that decision was reversed on appeal.

In Massachusetts, about four years ago, the ACLU motioned for dismissal of criminal charges against three terrorists who fraudulently obtained charitable tax-exempt status to fund suicide murder. Sharia law requires Muslims to give 2.5% of their wealth annually to charity (zakat); funding jihad and jihad fighters are covered by several of eight religiously mandated means to allocate annual zakat payments. The ACLU cited these facts in its motion, arguing that raising monies to fund jihad, fraudulently or otherwise, is constitutionally protected religious practice under the First Amendment. Fortunately, the federal district justices in Worcester, Ma. denied this motion point blank.

Do you suppose that any of the above instances are part, at best, of some wildly imaginative conspiracy theory? I assure you the ACLU motion to protect the religious freedom of fraudulently collected "tax-exempt" funds for jihad was quite real. I held and read the motion in my own hands, and reported on the case. The argument was all too real --- albeit surreal.

Mr. Foxman, contrary to your claims in the ADL commentary on Mr. Yerushalmi, these cases are not the figment of some lunatic's mind. Unfortunately, in fact, dozens of similar such cases nationwide demonstrate an orchestrated attempt to inject Islamic law into the U.S. secular legal codes, both on state and national levels. In those cases that the goals are achieved, these Sharia laws provide exceptions for Muslims alone --- to legal standards normally considered foundational to Western civilization --- on a vast array of points and issues.

Another difficulty is that, unlike other kinds of religious law, Sharia law is composed largely of edicts and regulations to be imposed upon non-Muslims. If it is allowed to continue to its logical terminus, therefore, the only possible conclusion of this trend would be complete decimation of all manner of constitutionally protected freedoms, including freedom of speech, "out of religious respect." Consider the case of Uganda. Yes indeed, Idi Amin was educated in Saudi Arabia and ultimately he fled to and died there. While this aspect of Amin's history was barely reported, he hoped to impose Sharia law on Uganda. Let us recall the genocidal results.

Certainly we can demand respect for all faiths, without disallowing any criticism whatever. Look, for example, at your own criticism of Mel Gibson's film on Christ. No one branded you a hatemonger. You merely expressed your opinion as a matter of constitutionally-protected free speech. And so it should be with all faiths --- including Mohammed, Islam and Sharia. How on earth can people learn any of its dark aspects if no one is allowed to speak on the subject without merciless and baseless accusations of hate mongering like those you leveled in this case.

You may recall Wafa Sultan, who lived under Sharia, and spoke quite plainly against Sharia and Islamic precepts on Al Jazeera, shocking the Arab and Muslim worlds. She has now done so in America too.

I would think you'd support the Freedom Pledge that Dr. Sultan and her other fearless Former Muslims United co-founders --- including Nonie Darwish, have sent to dozens of Muslim leaders across the U.S. They ask these leaders to pledge to protect religious freedom of apostates to Islam, namely to promise to openly oppose fatwas calling for apostates' deaths, and do everything else possible to protect their freedoms from medieval --- not to say unconstitutional and illegal --- practices like the Islamic death penalty for public abandonment of faith. Only two Muslims have signed, God bless them both. That is no figment of imagination, either, nor are the fatwas calling for their deaths.

Florida U.S. Rep., Ret. Col. Alan West agrees with Mr. Yerushalmi --- that Sharia proponents have put America's secular laws under attack for years now and, via the judiciary, have already had considerable success eroding them. Having served two tours of duty in Iraq, Rep. West is familiar with the Islamic laws and has seen them in action on the ground.

That ADL is unaware of any of the above noted facts does not render "hate-mongers" of those Americans who pay keen attention to their surroundings and do not share your complacency.

Once upon a time, the ADL did excellent work to combat Antisemitism, which of course was its founding mission. Here, the ADL has apparently taken the side of organizations that for decades have expressed zealous Antisemitism, hatred of Jews and hatred of Israel --- and indeed of the very concept (much less existence) of a Jewish state. They have done so both through their words at private organizational conferences, and writings in organizational publications and pseudo-academic journals --- and with their money, for suicide bombers, in Jerusalem and Israel, among other things.

It is easy to find such statements and positions from their leadership over the last 30 years, and recently too. For years, dozens of hard-working non-profit organizations have researched these organizations to expose them. In several terrorism and related cases, the federal government has prevailed partly on the basis of their solid, professional research. That is but one way in which individuals dangerous to America (and Israel) were convicted of terror-related crimes, deported for fraudulent immigration applications or both.

Furthermore, in part, you label David Yerushalmi "extremist" for asking that the U.S. actually enforce existing immigration laws. You may not like it, but that is a legitimate political viewpoint, for legal reasons of course, but also for humanitarian considerations. It is certainly not grounds for the juvenile name-calling the ADL issued in this case. Actually, "undocumented workers" very often suffer horrendous landlord and employment abuses --- and the highest rate of criminal assault, theft, fraud and so on targeting any population. For among those "undocumented workers" live tens of thousands of criminals. Indeed, several 9/11 hijackers were what some might, ten years later, call "undocumented workers."

Taken together, these two positions in the ADL frontal attack on David Yerushalmi sadly suggest that the organization now opposes those who want only to uphold existing U.S. laws --- legally, I might add --- yet agrees with groups that regularly break U.S. laws, verbally and financially support Antisemitism and terror, and have already in effect funded dozens of murders, perhaps even hundreds.

Agreed, there have been Jewish extremists. But they are very few and far between. More importantly, David Yerushalmi is not one of these. I think you do great disservice to the Anti-Defamation League and the time-honored fights against anti-Semitism and racism by siding with extreme, radical, hateful, proven terror-supporting organizations. They are intent upon demolishing his good name --- and that of anyone else daring to criticize them or their agenda, much less their precepts of faith and religious law --- and thereby to intimidate the American press and leadership into silence. Surely you should recognize this as the tactic of brown shirts.

Opposing the emergence of Sharia law in American public life hardly exemplifies racism, or extremism. It is merely an effort to maintain and enforce the Constitutional separation of church and state, based on sad and very real experience over the last decade in particular.

Moreover, it is the earnest effort of many concerned minorities who ought to be ADL's natural allies --- former Sudanese slaves, former Muslims fearful for their lives (even in America), Maronite Christians, Hindus whose temples have been smashed by the thousands, Coptic Christians with families suffering mass slaughter (hundreds burned, alive, in churches), now, in Egypt and on and on.

Yet you attack Mr. Yerushalmi as an extremist.

Shame on you. Shame!

I read your mother's oral history and am fortunate to have known and to know other survivors of the Vilna ghetto and Stutthoff, generally unknown death camps in its orbit and death marches. They bestowed a sacred blessing and this indelible lesson, to speak out, not to remain silent. Your mother, I think, did not save you from the Holocaust to do something so atrocious as this.

Best regards
Alyssa A. Lappen
Investigative journalist and poet
http://www.alyssaalappen.org

Posted on 03/30/2011 9:42 AM by Jerry Gordon
Wednesday, 30 March 2011
A Musical Interlude: There's Not The Slightest Sign (The Radio Serenaders)

Listen here.

Posted on 03/30/2011 10:30 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 30 March 2011
Where Is Count Vronsky When You Need Him?
Posted on 03/30/2011 10:38 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 30 March 2011
"I Always Made An Awkward Bow"
 
 

Record $153,600 Paid For Keats Letter

March 29, 2011 An anonymous American buyer paid $153,600 for a love letter from poet John Keats (1795-1821) to his neighbor Fanny Brawne. In the poignant document, as we reported earlier, the dying Keats expresses his anguish at the separation caused by his illness. Few Keats letters exist, and it was a record price for one sold at auction. It wasn’t, however, the highest priced item at the Bonhams auction in London. That was the $163,000 paid for an autographed manuscript by Sir Isaac Newton.

Posted on 03/30/2011 10:46 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 30 March 2011
In Syria Alawite Assad Tries To Brazen It Out, Conspiracy Theories And All

From The Jerusalem Post:

Analysis: Assad the intimidator




We’re reforming all the time, smiled Syria’s tyrant. So anyone demanding more change must be an enemy. And we all know how our enemies are treated.

  It’s easy to scoff about the speech Bashar Assad delivered to the Syrian parliament on Wednesday.

The interminable, seemingly rambling oratory. The absence of specific commitments to reform. The risible conspiracy theorizing. The “spontaneous” interruptions from adoring legislators: “God, Syria and Bashar only,” they chanted. “Our souls, our blood, we sacrifice for you.” And my particular favorite, “The Arab world is too small for you; you should govern the whole world, Mr President.”


Locals in the capital, according to some of the Western journalists reporting from Damascus, weren’t too impressed either. People had gathered in cafes to watch, and the speech was broadcast over loudspeakers, noted a France 24 correspondent, but they quickly returned to their normal business. Assad didn’t promise anything, he didn’t say anything concrete, this reporter almost wailed.

Aah, but he did. Nothing binding about rescinding emergency laws or opening up the political process – nothing, that is, that would justify Hillary Clinton’s extraordinary CBS Face the Nation utterance on Sunday: “There is a different leader in Syria now. Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he's a reformer.”

But there was meat in the message there, nonetheless -- a ruthless rationale amid the rambling. For Syria’s dictator, whose dutiful armed personnel have gunned down dozens of his people in the last few days, drew a very clear line between protesters and loyal Syrians.

Protesters in other Arab nations were pushing positive demands for change, and meeting the aspirations of the masses was a good thing, he said. But no one in his Syria had the slightest need to protest, since he was already working tirelessly to meet the needs of the people. “Whoever wants reform, we are here,” he said paternally, eminently reasonable. “Reform is not seasonal. There are no real hurdles to it.”

Thus it could only be enemies and plotters and conspirators and outside forces who were fostering the unrest of recent days. And he made plain that he, his security establishment and all good Syrians would stand tall and “unite” against such toxic forces, against the “big plot,” the “conspiracy.”

Almost three decades after the event, the savagery with which his father Hafez quashed a potential Islamic uprising, by sending the military to bomb and shell and gun down thousands upon thousands of people at Hama in February 1982, still stands as a terrifying deterrent to any Syrian contemplating taking their dissatisfaction with the dictatorship into the streets. Those killings stand as the deadliest single action by an Arab leader against his own people in the modern history of our region. It remains dangerous for Syrians to so much as put words like “Hama” and “massacre” into the same sentence.

What Bashar Assad did on Wednesday, with his talk of unity and standing tall and prevailing over devious enemies, was to link himself to his father’s brutal legacy.

He most certainly did not make concessions. He had seen all too clearly where a public willingness to nervously concede to demands for reform had gotten the likes of Tunisia’s Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak. Assad wasn’t going down that route.

No, this was Assad the smiling tiger, vowing to retain his primacy. This was Assad, self-confident to the point of smug, laughing off ­ with that curious high-pitched giggle of his ­ the "lies" being peddled about Syria on hostile satellite TV stations. This was Assad telling those of his people who may have fancied that they smelled Mubarak-style weakness, who may have thought they could try their luck, that they have misjudged the moment. This was Assad, iron fist in velvet glove, telling those who had come out onto the streets that they had been “duped” by Syria’s fiendish enemies, and that while he was magnanimous enough to forgive them for what they had done thus far, he would not be so tolerant again.

And this was Assad, most importantly, relishing the simple fact that, whereas the armed forces in Tunisia and Egypt chose not to open fire to put down the people’s protests, there is no daylight between him and his troops.

Word is that further protests are being planned for Friday. We will see then whether Syria’s opposition got the message he delivered on Wednesday, and whether that message fulfilled its intimidatory purpose.

Posted on 03/30/2011 10:52 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 30 March 2011
Leo Rennert Wonders If The Washington Post Might Possibly Just Try To Begin To Be Fair
Dear Mr. Brauchli:
 
Benjamin Disraeli is credited with the saying that there are three kinds of lies -- lies, damned lies and statistics.  The legendary British statesman could have spotted another example of his adage in an article in the March 28 edition of the Washington Post about Israel's deployment of an anti-missile system to intercept rockets fired by terrorists in Gaza against civilian populations in southern Israel ("Israelis put in place anti-rocket system" by Janine Zacharia, page A6).
 
As historical context for the deployment of an anti-rocket battery near Beersheba, Zacharia writes the following:
 
"Israel launched a widely criticised bombardment of the coastal territory (Gaza Strip) in late 2008 to try to put an end to rocket attacks.  The conflict left an estimated 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead."
 
That's a simple, provocative, but highly misleading way of suggesting that the fatality count was 100 "Palestinians" for every single Israeli.  A stark 100-to1 statistic to depict the Israeli Defense Forces as unsparing in an all-out assault against "Palestinians" in Gaza.
 
Except, it's a mendacious statistic.  What Zacharia fails to point out is that a sizeable majority of these "Palestinian" dead were operatives of Hamas and other terror groups engaged in aggression against Israel -- the firing of tens of thousands of rockets and mortar shells against civilian targets.
 
Totally missing from Zacharia's dispatch is the fact that for every 10 "Palestinians" killed during Israel's offensive, more than 6 were terrorist operatives.  When one adds the fact that Hamas and Islamic Jihad used Gazans as human shields in firing their rockets against Israel, this shows a quite different picture from the one conveyed by Zacharia's inciteful statistic -- namely, a sustained effort by the IDF to keep fatalities of civilians to a minimum.  The exact opposite of the impression left by Zacharia.
 
Of course, the Israeli offensive was "widely criticised," as she reports.  But that's because Western media, including the Washington Post, didnt''t bother to break down Palestinian fatality counts between combatants and non-combatants.  Like her, they just lumped both categories into a nicely rounded, overall number of "Palestinian" dead.
 
After months of painstaking research, amid all that wide criticism of Israel, the IDF ended up reporting a total count of 1,166 fatalities -- not the higher 1,300 loose estimate still used by Zacharia.  Of this total, 709 were identified by individual names as operatives of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.  295 were Palestinian civilians (25 percent of the total dead).  A third group of fatalities -- 162 men between the ages of 16 and 45 -- were put in a separate category of impossible-to-identify whether they were combatants or non-combatants.
 
Thus, the number of Palestinian civilian fatalities might have been as low as 295 or as high as 457.  Either way, substantially less than half the total count of Palestinian dead.
 
But one doesn't have to accept the IDF figures to demonstrate that most Palestinian dead were terrorist operatives.  Hamas itself now corroborates the basic finding of the IDF report.
 
Last November, Hamas' Gaza interior minister, Fathi Hamad, acknowledged that as many as 700 Palestinians killed in Israel's Gaza offensive belonged to Hamas and other terror groups.  The rest, he said, were "from the people" -- i.e. civilians.
 
Of course, during and immediately after Israel's military operation, Hamas sang a totally different tune with a propaganda campaign that the vast majority of fatalities were civilians and that it had lost fewer than 100 of its own operatives.  Most Western media and self-declared "human rights" groups swallowed this propaganda hook, line and sinker.  It then was picked up by the infamous UN Goldstone report that falsely accused Israel of attacking civilians.
 
However, Hamas's lies -- that it lost only a small number of operatives -- eventually backfired.  Rival groups seized on Hamas's claims that civilians bore the brunt of fatalities to chastise Hamas for running away from Israeli forces and leaving Palestinian civilians to shoulder the preponderance of the "resistance." 
 
So, having achieved its propaganda aims against Israel with full media and UN backing, Hamas belatedly turned around five months ago and effectively accepted the IDF report that most of the dead were operatives belonging to Hamas and other terror groups.
 
But as far as Zacharia and the Washington Post are concerned, battlefield truths don't matter.  What matters instead is to tar Israel with hihgly misleading numbers -- the kind that Disraeli would have recognized as "lies, damned lies and statistics."
 
LEO RENNERT
Posted on 03/30/2011 12:21 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 30 March 2011
"God, Syria, And Bashar" -- But Can Baby Assad Order In The Tanks?

From The Christian Science Monitor:

President Assad's defiant speech stuns Syrians who call for more protests

 

In a long-awaited speech to the nation following multiple deadly protests this past week, Syria's President Bashar al-Assad failed to announce concrete changes or meet any of the protesters' expectations.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad addresses the parliament in Damascus on March 30. President Assad defied expectations on Wednesday that he would lift Syria's decades-old emergency law after nearly two weeks of protests that have presented the gravest challenge to his 11-year rule.

By Nicholas Blanford, March 30, 2011

Beirut, Lebanon

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad struck a defiant stance Wednesday, blaming “conspiracies” for two weeks of unprecedented antiregime protests and stopping short of offering a widely anticipated reform package.


The content of Mr. Assad’s first address since the unrest began dismayed the opposition, which had hoped that the president would reveal details of how he plans to reform the tightly policed state. Despite the government earlier this week dismissing the ruling cabinet and hinting at lifting the emergency law, Assad failed to announce concrete changes or meet any of the protesters' expectations.

We have returned to the point zero,” says Razan Zeitouneh, a human rights lawyer in Damascus.

Protests that erupted two weeks ago in the southern city of Deraa have since spread to cities around the country, including in the capital, sparking clashes with police that have killed more than 60 people. Regional neighbors have watched with trepidation, as the unrest could have major strategic ramifications for allies Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas.

Looking relaxed and smiling and chuckling frequently, Assad delivered his hour-long address to the Syrian parliament in a customary conversational tone. His statements were interrupted every few minutes by parliamentarians standing up and offering individual messages of support and loyalty. He entered and exited to a standing ovation, and was frequently interrupted with coordinated applause.

“Only God, Syria, and Bashar!” chanted the parliamentarians.

Assad says not all protesters are 'conspirators'

“I am talking to you at an exceptional time. It is a test that happened to be repeated due to conspiracies against the country,” said Assad, who became president in 2000 on the death of his father, Hafez al-Assad. “God willing, we will overcome [this conspiracy].”

He acknowledged that reforms have been slow in coming, but he blamed the delay on traumatic distractions over the past decade, including the 2000-2005 Palestinian intifada, the September 2001 attacks, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the Hezbollah-Israel war of 2006.

“We know we haven’t addressed many of the people's aspirations,” he said, adding that not all those that have taken to the streets since March 15 were “conspirators.”

He said that Syria was heading toward “another phase” and admitted that proceeding without reforms “destroys the country.” He said that there would be new measures to combat corruption and “enhance national unity” and that the new government would announce them later. The previous government of Prime Minister Najib Ottari resigned Tuesday, and a new premier is yet to be named.

Posted on 03/30/2011 12:23 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 30 March 2011
As Always, Tom Friedman Emotes And Self-Promotes

Tom Friedman's house blend of stupidity, ignorance, banality, obviousness, and self-promotion  is as comical as ever. He never disappoints. comical aspects his columns never disappoints. And above all, for Tom Friedman, the I's always have it.

Here, from today's vaporings In "Looking For Luck In Libya": the characteristic tom-friedmanian note:

""That thought came to my mind as I listened to President Obama...."

"I don't say that as criticism."

"I say it with empathy. This is really hard stuff, and its just the beginninng."

"That's why I am proud of my president, really worried about him, and just praying that he's lucky."

"I found the way he spelled out his core argument on Monday sincere..."

"I am glad we have a president who sees America that way."

"But, at the same time, I believe that it is naive to think that we can be humanitarian only from the air...."

"I don't know Libya, but my gut tells me that any kind of decnet outocmce three will require boots on the ground..."

"But I am deeply dubious that our allies can or will handle it without us, either."

""Which is why, most of all, I hope President Obama is lucky."

"I hope Qaddafi's regime collapses like a sand catle..."

 

 

Posted on 03/30/2011 1:03 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 30 March 2011
A Musical Interlude: Untitled Jam Session (Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong, Jack Teagarden)

Listen here.

Posted on 03/30/2011 1:56 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 30 March 2011
Muslims for Israel

In its wildly optimistic search for that demmed elusive moderate Islam, Harry's Place trumpeted an organisation called British Muslims for Israel. At first I thought this was a joke, like Turkeys for Christmas or Queers for Palestine. Actually, Queers for Palestine is real, but it's still a joke. Here he is on Israel National TV (h/t Gates of Vienna)

I'd put money on this chap being sincere. Even the most practised taqiyya-artists do not praise Israel; it sticks in their throat. But I suspect that like the Judean Popular Front in Monty Python's Life of Brian, he is on his own. And he may not be long for this world.

Posted on 03/30/2011 1:46 PM by Mary Jackson
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