These are all the Blogs posted on Wednesday, 4, 2012.
Wednesday, 4 July 2012
Eric Sykes, gentleman of comedy, dies
Eric Sykes, who has died aged 89, was a comedian, TV star, novelist, film director - and a true gentleman of comedy, embodied the great theatrical belief that the 'show must go on'.
Sykes, who has died at the age of 89, was still hugely popular in the last decade of his distinguished life, continuing to appear on the West End stage, even though he was almost totally deaf and nearly blind following a stroke and heart bypass surgery. He achieved nationwide fame for his long-running and acclaimed series Sykes And A . . . with Hattie Jacques, which started in 1960 and ran, in spells, until 1979, having involved more than 125 shows.
But Sykes, noted for his cigar-smoking and thick-rimmed spectacles, was multi-talented - a comedian, actor, novelist, film director and producer. He wrote for some of the great comedians of the 20th century, including Peter Sellers, Tony Hancock, Frankie Howerd and Stanley Unwin. He also co-wrote scripts for The Goon Show with Spike Milligan.
His partnership with Hattie Jacques was one of the most satisfying of his career and he was deeply troubled by a TV drama about her which he believed was "raking over" private parts of her life. He preferred to remember her as a great co-star, adding: "Hat wasn't a small lady, but her size was never mentioned in our scripts. She trained as a ballet dancer and was incredibly agile."
His own private life was said to be contented. On 14 February 1952 he married Edith Eleanore Milbrandt, with whom he had a son called David and three daughters, Catherine, Julie and Susan.
His humour was gentle and witty, as for example in his joke: "I had lunch with a chess champion the other day. I knew he was a chess champion because it took him 20 minutes to pass the salt.”
One of his most memorable works was the 1979 (it was 1967 and not completely silent, just no real dialogue. EW) silent film The Plank, a gem of a slapstick comedy for which he won The Golden Rose of Montreux and which starred his comedy hero Tommy Cooper. Bernard Cribbens, who starred in The Plank, said today: "He will be very sadly missed. I just wish him a lot of rest up there with all the other comics, Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe. They will all be up there, having a laugh together. Eric was a very, very good writer, not only for himself but for other people as well. There was a strange, quirky, off-beat quality to his writing."
The second War of Independence was the War of 1812, which also gave us our national anthem. This song is about the Battle of New Orleans, where General Andrew Jackson defeated the British in 1814. It is set to a traditional tune called the "Eighth Day of January."
PRESIDENT OBAMA’S pivot to East Asia is well-timed. The geostrategic importance of the Middle East is vastly overblown. The region matters to the United States chiefly because of its influence in the world oil market, but that influence has been in terminal decline for a generation, a fact almost wholly unnoticed by outside observers. A confluence of developments—including rising prices and production costs, declining reserves, and the availability of alternate fuels and unconventional sources of oil—will decisively undermine the defining role of the Middle East in the global energy market. Meanwhile, the United States has vital interests at stake elsewhere in the world at least as pressing, if not more so, than its interests in the Middle East. These include thwarting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, fighting transnational terrorism and maintaining stability in key strategic locations of the world.
For centuries prior to World War II, the Middle East was considered strategically irrelevant. Alexander the Great marched across the impoverished Arabian Peninsula only because it lay between him and his goal: the fabled wealth of Persia and India. The region was merely an expanse to be crossed for traders on the Silk Road between Europe and China in the Middle Ages. The great empires of modern Europe turned to every other region in the world, including Africa, before colonizing the Middle East late in the age of empire because the vast desert appeared to be of little use to them. The British occupied Egypt in the nineteenth century and invested in the Suez Canal not because of anything Egypt had to offer but because it was the fastest way to get to India.
The contemporary strategic importance of the Middle East stems from its comparative advantage in producing oil, a commodity vital to the modern world economy. This comparative advantage is based on four factors. First, Middle Eastern oil is the cheapest in the world to produce because of simple geology. Middle Eastern oil lies under flat desert, not under an ocean or in the Amazonian river basin. In 2008, producing a barrel of oil cost between $6 and $28 in the Middle East and North Africa, compared to up to $39 elsewhere in the world and up to $113 per barrel of oil shale.
Second, most Middle Eastern oil is a superior product. The chemical properties of Middle Eastern “light sweet” crude oil make it easier and cheaper to refine than the “heavy” crude of Venezuela, for example. Third, Middle Eastern oil developers benefit from economies of scale because the cheap oil there is so plentiful. Even today, the region is still home to more than half the world’s proven, commercially viable conventional oil reserves and a third of world oil production. Fourth, the Middle East’s dominance of oil production and reserves makes it “too big to fail,” which effectively lowers producers’ risks. Buyers believe, with justification, that neither the governments in the region nor the developed world would allow a significant disruption to oil production (especially after the embargoes in the 1970s backfired).
This comparative advantage translates into global power and influence because of the modern world economy’s high demand for oil. Oil was used for lighting and lubrication long before the industrial era, but the modern market for oil started in 1886, when Karl Benz invented a machine for automated mobility powered by an internal-combustion engine fueled by refined petroleum. In a remarkably short time, the world abruptly ceased using steam, coal and animals to power the transport of people and goods, transitioning almost entirely to petroleum products. One hundred twenty-five years after Benz patented the automobile, Americans consumed thirty-six quadrillion BTUs of energy from petroleum. This provided 94 percent of their transportation-energy needs and 40 percent of their industrial-energy consumption; it also accounted for more than a third of the nation’s entire energy demand. The United States’ experience has been mirrored in countries across the globe. Global transportation—by car, truck, airplane, bus, motorcycle, boat and even some trains—is overwhelmingly powered by fuels derived from oil.
THESE TWO factors—the Middle East’s comparative advantage in oil production and the world economy’s need for oil to power transport—made the modern Middle East what it is today. The region would not be as strategically important otherwise.
But the Middle East’s comparative advantage in energy production and the world’s need for oil both peaked around 1974, and both have been in long-term decline ever since. In reaction to the oil embargoes and disruptions of 1974 and 1979, the Western world embarked on a generational and largely successful effort at energy conservation. The United States’ energy intensity—a measure of how much energy is used per dollar of GDP—has been cut in half since 1973, falling from 15,400 BTUs per dollar to 7,470 in 2010, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. This unheralded success means that because of advances in efficiency and conservation practices, the world economy is less dependent on all forms of energy, oil included, than previously. Additionally, the world’s energy needs are being met by an ever-expanding menu of inputs, including nuclear power and renewable sources. In 2010, petroleum’s share of America’s energy sources was the lowest it had been since 1951. The world economy’s oil intensity, or “the amount of oil needed to produce one dollar of GDP,” in the words of the International Energy Agency (IEA), “has fallen steadily over the last three decades.” That is not the whole story: “The decline has accelerated since 2004, mainly as a result of higher oil prices, which have encouraged conservation, more efficient oil use and switching to other fuels.” The introduction of electric and hybrid cars in recent years, while still in its infancy, promises to accelerate the decline in demand for petroleum-based fuels.
The Middle East’s comparative advantage in oil production also is eroding. It will always have a superior product, but the three other factors comprising its advantage are disappearing. First, oil-production costs in the Middle East are certain to rise. Oil is so cheap in the region because it is easy to get out of the ground. But as the world uses up the cheapest and most easily developed oil, Middle Eastern crude will become more costly to produce. Some fields in the Middle East have been producing continuously for eighty years and are rapidly maturing (meaning they are almost past their peak production). Saudi Arabia in particular has a high percentage of mature or maturing oil fields. Thirteen of the twenty largest oil fields in the world are located in the Middle East, and they all entered production between 1928 and 1968. As a field passes its peak, it becomes more technically difficult and costly to extract its oil. This is especially true once a developer switches to secondary, tertiary and unconventional methods to extract the remaining oil. Production costs in the Middle East inevitably will rise in coming years; that is as certain as the laws of geology and economics. The oil market will be characterized increasingly by harder-to-develop, more expensive oil.
This trend will accelerate as demand for oil increases in the developing world and prices rise. After the oil-price spikes of the 1970s, the rest of the world invested in oil production (and energy conservation). The Middle East’s share of production fell to less than 19 percent by 1985, its lowest point since 1953. Overcapacity then caused prices to collapse, and the Middle East recovered its relative position in the market, but the episode shows what is in store for the future. Prices are on a long-term and relentless increase, driven largely by rising demand in places like China and India; global liquid-fuel consumption is likely to reach 111 million barrels per day by 2035—up from 85 million barrels per day today. Prices have risen sharply since 2002, partly because of political instability in the region but also in part because of the long-term, underlying pressures on the market. This is likely to spur worldwide investment in capacity, further eroding the Middle East’s market share over the next decade.
Second, rising prices are a powerful incentive for producers to develop new production capacity in other regions and through unconventional methods. Oil recovered from secondary and tertiary drilling technology or from shale, sand and deep-water rigs will become more commercially viable as prices rise. The Middle East’s market share will shrink, and other regions will start to benefit from the same economies of scale that Middle Eastern producers have enjoyed, leveling the playing field. Already, the Middle East accounts for a decreasing amount of the world’s proven oil reserves. It accounted for 56 percent of reserves in 2010, its second-lowest point since 1953. This was down from 66 percent in 2002 and below the long-term average of 61 percent over the last three decades. Even those numbers may be inflated; much of the Middle East’s reserve growth in recent decades came in a single leap, from 1986 to 1987, when several states reported sudden and massive increases in their estimated reserves without further exploration or technological development. Industry experts speculate these “paper reserves” were primarily a bargaining tool in negotiations between OPEC states—because OPEC members’ production quotas are linked to their proven reserves, claiming more reserves allows them to produce more. Reported figures since then are unreliable. Even under the inflated numbers, the Middle East accounts for only 46 percent of remaining reserves of oil and liquid natural gas ultimately recoverable with conventional means, according to the IEA.
And that is only “proven” reserves. Proven reserves comprise oil deposits recoverable under current market prices and with current technology. A better indication of a state’s future share of the oil market is its “ultimate” reserves, which include proven, probable and possible reserves. As the world oil price rises and technology improves, possible and probable reserves become proven. In the Middle East, it is likely that a greater share of ultimate reserves is already proven than in the rest of the world. As prices increase and technology advances, therefore—and more possible and probable reserves become economically viable—the rest of the world will see a disproportionately greater rise in proven reserves.
The picture here is stark: when unconventional methods of oil development are taken into account, including development of heavy oil, shale oil and oil sands, the Middle East suddenly becomes a minor player. There may be as many as 7.9 trillion barrels of potentially recoverable oil left in the world from all sources, according to the IEA, with more than 90 percent of it outside the Middle East. The Middle East dominates the currently proven, conventional and commercially viable reserves, but these reserves account for less than 10 percent of the total oil in the world. Once unconventional methods become commercially competitive, the Middle East will be dwarfed by Canada, the United States and Venezuela.
Finally, as the massive unconventional oil deposits become commercially viable, the Middle Eastern oil industry will no longer be too big to fail. Middle Eastern oil producers will lose the implicit discount on risk they gain from dominating the current world oil market. They will, in fact, be dispensable, making it much harder for them to get a free ride on the implicit guarantees and subsidies they currently enjoy from their host governments. As they devolve from global politicians into businessmen, governments will rightly ask if these guarantees make good business sense anymore.
There has been much discussion about when the world will reach “peak oil,” the point at which we will have used up more than half the total petroleum on the planet. That point is a long way off. But the world is approaching—if it has not already passed—an earlier point that is hugely significant for the global balance of power: the peak of cheap Middle Eastern oil. And that means the Middle East’s comparative advantage is eroding. As the price of oil rises, producers elsewhere in the world will be able to invest in larger operations and benefit from the economies of scale that Middle Eastern producers have always had. And as demand, production costs and prices rise, Middle Eastern producers will be competing with the rest of the world in a much tighter market.
SINCE 1945, the United States has rightly sought to prevent any single power from dominating the Middle East’s oil supplies. An oil hegemon, whether Soviet, Baathist, Nasserite, Iranian or Islamist, would have had the capacity to blackmail the United States and the world with economic warfare. To that end, the United States supported anticommunist monarchies and autocracies in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain, among others, during the Cold War. It has armed Saudi Arabia with a staggering $81.6 billion of arms sales since 1950, almost a fifth of all U.S. weapons shipments. It supported Iraq against Iran in the 1980s before fighting Iraq to defend Kuwait and Saudi Arabia in 1990–1991. After the 2001 terrorist attacks, it further bolstered ties in the region, adding Kuwait, Bahrain and Morocco to its collection of major non-NATO allies, which includes Egypt, Israel and Jordan. In 2003, it invaded and occupied Iraq over fears, later proven overblown, that Iraq’s WMD proliferation might give Saddam Hussein or allied terrorists unacceptable leverage in the region. The U.S. military’s Central Command, formed in 1983, has a forward headquarters in Qatar, and the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain. This military infrastructure guarantees a long-term U.S. military presence in the region.
Those policies were largely sensible efforts to maintain the security of world energy supplies. However, they make less sense in light of the brewing realities in the world oil market. These developments—the world’s increasing energy efficiency and the Middle East’s loss of its comparative advantage in oil production—will take time to play out fully. But they have been under way for several decades already. In two decades or so, the global oil market and the Middle East’s geopolitical influence will be dramatically different from what they are today. The Middle East will remain an important player, but it will no longer be able to act as the “central bank of oil,” as the princes of Saudi Arabia style their kingdom. Moreover, it will forever lose the ability to credibly threaten to wield oil as a weapon. The sword of Damocles that has implicitly hovered over the West since the 1970s will be gone.
That means the central goal of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East will essentially be achieved: no power will be able to threaten the United States with unacceptable leverage over the American economy. That is because oil itself will be less important, and the world oil market will be more diffuse and diverse. The importance of this development cannot be overstated. It is a tectonic shift in the geopolitical balance of power, a strategically pivotal development only slightly less momentous than the fall of the Soviet Union. It is the slow-motion collapse of the Middle Eastern oil empire.
In turn, the United States can and should begin to adapt its foreign policy to reflect these realities. It can look with more complacency on the rise and fall of particular regimes across the Middle East and North Africa. The Arab Spring, even if it brings to power moderate Islamist governments, is unlikely to threaten American interests. Washington also can play a less active part in conflicts between states, reverting to a role more like its indirect support for Iraq against Iran and less like its direct involvement in the 1991 and 2003 Iraq wars. Further, it can speak out more freely against tyranny and human-rights abuses, especially in Saudi Arabia, one of the most oppressive countries on earth. It can reclaim its position as the advocate of global liberalism, undoing the damage to the U.S. brand done by its close association with Middle Eastern dictators.
THE UNITED States has additional interests in the Middle East, but they are outweighed by those in other parts of the world. For example, the region is a hotbed of terrorism and may become a major locus of WMD proliferation. But South Asia hosts terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda, that threaten the United States more directly. Further, South Asia is home to two declared nuclear powers. Thus, South Asia—not the Middle East—should be the focus of U.S. counterterrorism and counterproliferation efforts in coming decades.
Additionally, the Middle East has two of the world’s most important choke points for ocean-going trade: the Suez Canal and the Strait of Hormuz. But governments in the region, heavily reliant on exports, have strong interests in keeping trade routes open. Despite Iranian leaders’ recent threats, no government is likely to cut off its own economic lifeline voluntarily. Meanwhile, the Malacca Strait in East Asia will remain important for a diverse array of ocean-going trade for the foreseeable future.
Finally, the United States rightly is committed to Israel’s security. If Iran succeeds in building a nuclear weapon, Israel could face a potential existential threat—the same threat fellow U.S. allies in East Asia, including South Korea, Taiwan and Japan, have been facing from North Korea since 2006. Once again, U.S. interests in the Middle East are no more, and probably less, important than U.S. interests in other regions.
The changing realities of the world energy market do not mean the United States can or should ignore the Middle East. Certainly, Israel’s security and Iran’s behavior will keep the region a focus for policy makers’ attention. But, placed in a global perspective, the United States has more or deeper interests at stake in other regions of the world—especially Europe and Asia—than in the Middle East. Budget cuts are concentrating minds inside the Beltway with newfound discipline. And a new presidential term begins next January, either with President Obama or Mitt Romney taking over. This confluence of events gives American policy makers a powerful opportunity to reassess U.S. grand strategy, along with its attendant military-deployment and force structure. As they do so, they should recognize the emerging realities in the Middle East. Our rationale for guaranteeing the region’s stability in exchange for cheap oil is fading, and that mission quickly is becoming more trouble than it is worth.
Paul D. Miller is an assistant professor of international-security studies at the National Defense University. He previously served as director for Afghanistan on the National Security Council staff from 2007–2009. The views expressed here are his own.
"The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more."
Egypt’s journalists protest new Shura Council rules for state-run press
4 July 2012
Members of the Journalists Association said they fear the Shura Council’s standards will facilitate the appointment of chief editors loyal to the Muslim Brotherhood, who comprise the majority of the parliament. (Reuters)
Egypt upper house of parliament, the Shura Council, began setting criteria for appointing the chief editors of state-run newspapers, an Egyptian daily reported. The door was opened for nominations to the top posts on Tuesday for one week.
Chief editors will be selected according to standards that have been agreed on by the a Shura Council specialized committee, the Journalists Association and the Supreme Press Council, Egypt’s Independent daily reported.
Prior to the Jan. 25, 2011 revolution, media had been under the control of former president Hosni Mubarak, who was known to jail reporters, close down newspapers and impose fines when journalists upset the regime.
The Shura Council, which owns eight state-run press institutions, according to a 1979 constitutional amendment, is responsible for recruiting editors-in-chief and board of directors for state owned news organizations. Under the ousted regime, the Shura Council used this authority to appoint employees who would serve the state’s agenda.
According to the new rules, applicants should have spent 15 years at the institution whose publications they seek to be in charge of. They should have worked for the last ten years in a row without taking unpaid leaves. They should also be selected from inside the publication itself, the newspaper reported.
Moreover, applicants should not have been involved in selling advertisements. They should not have been referred to disciplinary councils by the syndicate or have been found guilty of depravity.
They cannot be involved in normalization with Israel, and should not have taken part in corrupting political life or working as media advisors under the former regime.
If there are not any applicants in-house who meet the required conditions, then candidates can be chosen from outside, according to the new regulations laid by the Shura Council committee.
A committee from the Shura Council would then name one of the applicants for the top position.
Scores of journalists protested on Tuesday before the Journalists Association against the new standards. Demonstrators rejected that chief editors will be selected by a committee led by the Shura Council and not through elections.
Moreover, experts have raised concerns about the Islamist-dominated Shura Council interfering in the process.
“The Freedom and Justice paper has recently published several stories and articles that talk about purging press institutions of liberals and leftists,” Salah Eissa, assistant secretary general of the Supreme Press Council, was quoted by Egypt Independent as saying in mid-June.
A statement by the Journalists Association in earlier June had explained that the Shura Council’s attempts to intervene in the affairs of press institutions raise suspicions that it is attempting to inherit the role and dominance of the defused National Democratic Party (NDP).
Members of the Journalists Association said they fear the Shura Council’s standards will facilitate the appointment of chief editors loyal to the Muslim Brotherhood, who comprise the majority of the parliament.
After Hosni Mubarak assumed power in 1981, Law 96/1996, known as the Journalism Authority Law, was issued, the Egypt Independent report said. It set the term of a chief editor at three years and that of a chairperson at four, though several kept their positions longer. Some chief editors remained in their post for over 21 years under Mubarak.
Following the Jan. 25 revolution, the then-prime minister Essam Sharaf replaced 18 top officials at state-run press institutions. The changes, approved by the ruling military council, were understood to be temporary until Parliament was elected. All figures considered to be pro-Mubarak were replaced.
Eissa said the Brothers are disgruntled by criticism of their performance by state media.
“But they don’t have many professional journalists to fill those posts. In the end, they will choose from among the choices available,” he was quoted as saying by the Egypt Independent.
Eissa said that reforming press institutions requires one of three solutions: to privatize them and keep a certain stake for the state, to transform them into holding companies or to establish a transparent mechanism allowing employees to own half of the institution they work for.
“The solutions are known, but political will to enforce one of them is what we need,” he said.
As much as I’d prefer to not dignify writing and thinking as muddled as that of Thomas Friedman, I am going to risk doing so in the hopes that Mr. Friedman’s latest ‘contribution’ to the ever expanding corpus of material discussing the Jewish state will prove to be a ‘teachable moment’. It seems to me that there are two major problems with this article:
1)Friedman’s ‘analysis’ and understanding of, well, everything.
2)The use of now classic Judeophobic characterizations of Jews as scheming and anti-democratic that form the basis of the work and analysis of Leon Wiseltier, which provides the bulk and meat of the rest of Mr. Friedman’s article.
According to Mr. Wieseltier, the Jews have historically “preferred vertical alliances to horizontal ones”, preferring “to have a relationship with the king of the bishop so as not to have to engage with the general population.” If we translate this into less cagey language, basically, the Jews, according to Mr. Wieseltier, deal in private deals with authoritarian, absolute leaders and, we are to understand, disdain democracy. He allows that “they often had reason to be distrustful” of the non-Jewish majority, but we shouldn’t let that distract us from the fact that they “preferred” to deal undemocratically with “bishops and kings” as opposed to democratically with...oh, wait, in medieval Europe -- the last time there were really kings and bishops to petition for rights or protection -- there wasn’t actually a democratic alternative. So, basically Mr. Wieseltier is accusing the Jews who were the targets of popular pogroms, blood-libels, inquisitions and near-complete social and economic exclusion in the middle ages and pre-modern period of CHOOSING to eschew the non-existent ‘democratic’ popularity contest by dealing with the only leaders that existed at the time: religious and political.
In case you haven’t been following along, I’ll be explicit: the accusation itself makes no logical sense. Jews could not have chosen “democratic” relations with the majority population in Medieval Europe even if they’d wanted to. There simply weren’t any democratic institutions with which Jews could have dealt or in which they could have worked. So what the heck is actually going on here? The assertion makes as much sense as me admonishing Voltaire for "preferring" his anachronistic horse and carriage over high-speed rail trains available in Europe today. What is Mr. Wieseltier doing and how come no one, including Mr. Friedman, seems to have caught onto the historical and logical impossibility of Mr. Wieseltier’s ‘historical observation’?
Here’s where Judeophobia steps in to patch in the holes of flawed reasoning and simply nonsensical historiography. One of the major themes of modern Judeophobia is that of the Jew as secret schemer and enemy of the people. Indeed, the Jews-as-undemocratic slur only made sense after the watershed moments of democratic modernity such as the storming of the Bastille or the Boston Tea Party. Around the time that Herder was theorizing the unique and beautiful nature of the volk -- as the basis of democratic self-rule -- people began viewing the Jew as outside the volk and thus as a dangerous and inherently anti-democratic element. We know this libel so well and so instinctually that we follow its logic even backward to a time before democracy or anything even resembling democratic self-rule or nation-states. We knew this un-logic even before it was infamously enshrined in the Russian-forgered Protocols of the Elders of Zion. We know this un-logic so well that it just makes sense when we read about the suspicously powerful “Israel Lobby” working behind the scenes -- and thus undemocratically -- to undermine American democracy. It doesn’t matter that lobbying is a central touchstone of American democratic institutions; when Jews do it, it’s anti-democratic.
Thus with a sophistic slight-of-hand made possible by a now centuries-old tenet of modern Judeophobia, Mr. Wieseltier is able to project the Jew’s essentialized anti-democracy back into a pre-modern, pre-democratic age and then use the new a-history as ‘proof’ of modern Israel’s contempt for democracy and the volksgemeinschaft.
Whew, what a feat! I suppose I can’t really blame Mr. Friedman for going along with it. The idea that Jews prefer to work against the people is so understood, so common-sense at this point, that it’s not simply an invisible assumption; it’s a structuring component of our collective analytic framework. It’s an illogic that allows for a broader, somewhat simplified, world view to remain firmly in place.
What happens if the Jews are no more or less democratic than any other minority group (or majority volk in the Jewish nation-state)? Should the Jew [state] have refused to make peace with any of its neighbouring states until they were all turned into nice western liberal nation-states and constitutional democracies?
Friedman and Wieseltier assert that Israel wanted the Obama administration to intervene against the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ in Egypt as part of its fear/disdain for the Egyptian people and democracy. Perhaps my google-fu is waning, but I could find no evidence of such a demand from Israel. Yet, we’re supposed to just go along with Friedman when he claims that Bibi’s government thought that Obama could have “intervened to ‘save’ President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and he [Obama] was just too naïve to do so.” Lacking our common-sense Judeophobic ‘patch’, this just wouldn’t make any sense. Yes, Bibi and many others were anticipating the Muslim Brotherhood’s exploitation of the social unrest and yes, they’re likely very right to be concerned about the future of the peace treaty with Egypt as a result, but that doesn’t mean that that Bibi expected or hoped for American forces to come in and ‘save’ Mubarak from his people. The only way that such an accusation makes sense is if we all instinctually understand that the Jew [state] “prefer[s] vertical alliances to horizontal ones”.
Sadly, if we take away the illogic of Judeophobia that forms the plaster keeping this analysis together, you’re left with the very complex, and frankly downright shitty reality that the Jewish state faces. Friedman seems to be throwing down the gauntlet demanding that Israel change its behaviour to win over the hearts and minds of Egyptians, as if Egypt is now a modern constitutional democracy and as though the Egyptians themselves haven’t imbibed the most virulent of Judephobic screed in everything from their nightly news to weekly/daily sermons to entertainment t.v. mini-series based on the Protocols.
Truly, if Mr. Friedman or Wieseltier have some advice on how to win that popularity contest, I’d love to hear it. Sadly, it would take challenging and rejecting the very Judeophobic assumptions that frame and structure their own analysis and are even more violent and explicitly dear to the hearts and minds of Egyptians.
And in the mean time, while Mr. Friedman thinks that the Jew [state] should be staring into the mirror, blinking through tears of painful rejection demanding, once again, “why don’t they like me???”, actual state and IDF leaders have to go about the business of trying to keep their population safe as Egyptian-supplied rockets flow freely into Hamas-stan and vital pipelines are repeatedly disrupted in the Egyptian-controlled Sinai and the government of the actually democratic nation-state of Israel can do little but carefully wait to see what move the openly anti-Zionist “democratically elected leader” of Egypt will do next.
The vast majority of older Copts voted for former Mubarak Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik.
BY JOSEPH FAHIM
My name is Joseph. I’m a liberal Coptic Christian writer. Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s newly elected president, does not represent me, nor does he represent the 10 million Christians who refused to vote for him, or his party, at this month’s presidential election.
Mohamed Morsi is not my president, and he’ll never be.
Like millions of Christians, I sat home on the day Morsi’s victory was announced, watching the festivities in Tahrir Square from a distance, overwhelmed with a sense of alienation. How did it go so wrong? How did we allow ourselves to compromise so much? Unlike some of my liberal Muslim friends, I could see no silver lining in this farce.
Before I dwell further, here’s a little background about my family. The wave of immigration in my family started half a century ago with my eldest uncle, now a prominent, published geologist living in Texas. My uncle graduated from the Faculty of Sciences, Alexandria University and was tenured in Cairo University after graduation. In the early 1960s, he was denied a promotion by his senior professor, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, simply because he’s a Christian. When he received a grant to study in the US, he left and never looked back.
My entire family followed in my uncle’s footsteps, making America their new home. Since his departure, my uncle came back once in the past 25 years. He still has good memories of his home country, occasionally reminisces about singers Asmahan and Farid Al-Atrash. But he has never forgotten or forgiven the discrimination he was subjected to, and naturally, the Brotherhood remain his bogymen.
My large family, spread out in Texas, California and Philadelphia, are all conservative republicans unaware of the daily realities in Egypt. I usually avoid talking politics with my family for obvious reasons, but in May, as the results of the first round of the presidential election began to show on the TV screen, I was dragged into countless discussions about the future of Egypt under Islamist rule, the Mubarak trial, and, most pressing of all, what my family dubbed “the failure of the revolution.”
My uncle did not look disappointed or distressed; he was agitated and frustrated, paranoid even. I tried to explain before that the MB are not as extreme as the American rightist media make them out to be; that Morsi, as terrible a choice of president he is, will not lynch every Copt in the country. But he didn’t want to listen. He couldn’t, and he’s not to blame. Fifty years since he left Egypt, my uncle remains bitter, wounded and unforgiving. His experience is a narrative shared by thousands of Christians.
Fear and hatred are not born overnight; they have deep roots in direct or indirect experiences. Nearly every member of my middle-class family was subjected to one form of discrimination or another that propelled them to leave the country. Coveting a better lifestyle was surely part of their choice, but the most imperative motivation behind their departure was the desire to be treated as equal citizens, to experience a freedom they were not privileged enough to enjoy in their homeland.
Their exaggerated fears were passed on to the next generation whose members maintained an ambiguous relationship with the motherland. Such fears are still shared by many Copts in Egypt who either experienced discrimination first hand or are surrounded by people who were.
Are these fears unfounded? It would be patronizing to say so.
In the first round of the presidential election, the vast majority of older Copts voted for former Mubarak Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik. That’s a fact. My own mother was among the minority backing Nasserist Hamdeen Sabahi. The younger generations were split between Moussa and Sabahi. The choice of candidates made sense. The younger generations are more proactive, less politically attached to the Church and less fearful than their parents. The older generations, on the other hand, remain scarred by decades of bigotry, injustice and marginalization.
Lest we forgot, the rising sectarianism was not, as many misleadingly continue to report, an independent product of the Mubarak regime. The real beginning of the Coptic malaise commenced the day Sadat declared himself the Muslim president of an Islamic state. Prejudice was a fact of life long before Mubarak and Sadat, but the real fracture in the country’s social fabric did not occur until the latter decided to impose the religious identity on the nation’s social mosaic. The Muslim Brotherhood, which was given the freedom to emerge from the dark by Sadat in the 1970s, is seen by many Christians as the group responsible for the Islamization of Egypt and the growing radicalism. Mubarak was, without a doubt, an enemy for many Christians, but the MB were the bigger enemy; a vigilante group that altered Egypt’s societal DNA.
Politically, Egypt’s past dictatorships have exploited Islamists to gain popular support, using them to intimidate society at large and to crush the secular opposition in specific. But most Christians refuse to see it this way.
All but a handful of Copts I know in the US are convinced that Christians were safer under the Mubarak regime. Most of their provocative remarks reek of ignorance; an inability to see the bigger picture, to decode the complexities of a nation more divided than ever. Nor can they admit that the military leadership is responsible for the calamity we’re facing. Copts, here and abroad, still regard themselves as a minority under threat of persecution. Religious identity, the biggest disease of the Sadat legacy, continues to trump the national one.
Copts are asking themselves: Are we better off than we were a year and a half ago? Do we feel more secure now? Do we feel more equal now?
I could never bring myself to answer those questions because, simply put, I don’t perceive myself in religious terms. There is no doubt in my mind that Mubarak and his regime had to go and as an Egyptian, yes, I do feel safer now than I did 16 months ago.
This brings us back to the fateful hour when Morsi was announced the winner of the first real presidential election in Egyptian history. For most Copts I know, this was doomsday. The Morsi win means a further Isalmization of the nation, loss of personal freedoms and more discrimination. I was showered by phone calls from friends and family slamming me for invalidating my vote, for allowing the MB to hijack the nation and turn into a religious state. Many are fearful of the implementation of Sharia as the main source of legislation, many are anxious of the possible loss of Egyptian identity; many are terrified of Egypt turning into another Iran. For the lower classes, Morsi’s win means a continuation of the harassment they suffer every day. A few families I know are re-considering immigration again; some were so petrified that they started selling their assets for nothing in order to find a quick way out of the country.
I do not harbor the same fearful feelings about the Brotherhood as most Christians. I am not afraid of Morsi, or his party; I will not allow anyone to violate my rights as a citizen of this country and I will raise hell if anyone does. And no, I do not believe Egypt will be transformed into the next Iran and I’m confident that the opposition, which has been growing and gaining momentum over the past few months, will not allow Morsi, or his cronies, to alter the identity of Egypt. The days of a single ruling party, or a president who is beyond accountability, are long gone.
Yet at the same time, I cannot see any benefit in Morsi’s election, whether for Copts or Muslims in general.
I do not have any respect for our newly elected president; a member of a failed group with no vision that exploited people’s weaknesses and ignorance for political gain; a party that, in its brief six-month rule, became the laughing stock of the world.
I have no reason to trust the MB, as do many Egyptians. Apart from heading the Freedom and Justice Party, Morsi has little political experience and his program doesn’t offer anything revolutionary, anything truly inspiring.
Morsi will be obliged by the entire Coptic community to accomplish what other leaders before him failed to do: to issue clear-cut laws that improve their conditions and preserve their citizenship rights.
Under Morsi rule, will Coptic history be finally taught in schools? Will a unified law regulating the building of houses of worship finally pass? Will any Copt be appointed as head of any university in Egypt? Will religious conversion be protected under the law? You could give Morsi the benefit of the doubt, but I’m not optimistic, and neither Morsi nor his party have given me any reason to believe otherwise.
Since Morsi was declared the winner last week, I’ve been bombarded with stories about Coptic girls in poor neighborhoods told to cover their hair and others told by their Muslim neighbors that no one will come near them “as long as they behave.”
Whether or not these stories are true is any one’s guess, but they do reflect the undeniable Coptic panic, a feeling of helplessness and marginalization, fears that were not allayed by Morsi’s speech on Saturday at Cairo University.
The most pressing danger is not Morsi or the laws his party and their Salafi allies might push for; it’s the influence of what he represents on extremists empowered by his victory to run amok, on the various lobbies and pressure groups adamant on taking control of the country and amplifying the role of religion in politics. The ripple effect of a religious state will not be felt by the middle and upper classes; it’s the economically deprived and isolated communities that will be hit the hardest.
Many Copts are starting to develop theories about the MB’s strategies to monopolize the economy, a
far-reaching plan engineered by business tycoon Khairat El-Shater to control the supply of basic goods in the country. “It won’t matter whether they’ll be in power or not in four years,” a bunch of friends told me recently. “By then, they will control all agents of change, they will control the soul of the country, and it will reflect on the everyday aspect of life in here. By then, they can shape the face of the country and no one will be able to stop them.”
Some may regard the Coptic agenda secondary to the bigger issues like boosting the economy, eradication of poverty and improvement of education. But an unjust, discriminatory society is bound to collapse sooner or later and unless Morsi and his party, which will surely return to power, draft firm laws that guarantee Copts their rights, that put an end to this mounting feeling of marginalization, and that treat all citizens as equals, the widespread wave of violence witnessed last year will come back even stronger.
Next year, I’ll be back in Texas for Christmas. My uncle will be waiting to know all about Morsi, all about the new Egypt. He’ll remain wary, confused and nervous about the country he once called home. I just hope that next time, he won’t strike me with the line I’ve long dreaded: I told you so.
Joseph Fahim is the Arts and Culture editor of The Egypt Monocle.
BANDAR ABBAS, Iran — The hulking tanker Neptune was floating aimlessly this week in the warm waters of the Persian Gulf, a fresh coat of black paint barely concealing its true identity as an Iranian ship loaded with hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil that no one is willing to buy.
The ship’s real name was Iran Astaneh, and it was part of a fleet of about 65 Iranian tankers serving as floating storage facilities for Iranian oil, each one given a nautical makeover to conceal its origin and make a buyer easier to find. The Neptune had been floating there for a month, and local fishermen said there were two even larger tankers anchored nearby.
Iran, faced with increasingly stringent economic sanctions imposed by the international community to force it to abandon any ambitions to develop nuclear weapons, has been reluctant to reduce its oil production, fearing that doing so could damage its wells. But Iran has insufficient space to store the crude it cannot sell. So while it furiously works to build storage capacity on shore, it has turned to mothballing at sea.
“We have never seen so many just waiting around,” said Rostam, a fisherman and smuggler who regularly works these waters.
After years of defiance and insistence that sanctions were barely being felt at home, Iranians are acknowledging the latest round with growing alarm. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that they were “the strongest yet.”
International oil experts say Iranian exports have already been cut by at least a quarter since the beginning of the year, costing Iran roughly $10 billion so far in forgone revenues. Many experts say the pain is only beginning, since oil prices have been falling and Iran’s sales should drop even more with the European embargo that went into effect on Sunday.
“They are getting squeezed,” said Sadad Al Husseini, former executive vice president for exploration and development of Saudi Aramco, the state oil company. “It’s too much trouble to buy Iranian oil. Why alienate the United States and Europe? And the rest of OPEC is not very happy with Iran either.”
On Wednesday, a Kenyan oil official told Reuters that the country was canceling an agreement to import up to 80,000 barrels of oil a day from Iran after Britain warned Kenya that it could run afoul of the sanctions. Meanwhile, South Korea said its imports of Iranian oil fell by nearly 50 percent in May, compared with April.
The drop in crude sales has hit Tehran with multiple challenges. Besides the financial impact, Iran has to figure out what to do with all the oil it continues to produce. Iran is pumping about 2.8 million barrels a day — already down about one million barrels daily since the start of the year. But it is exporting only an estimated 1.6 to 1.8 million barrels a day.
The unsold crude is being stored in what has been estimated to be two-thirds of the Iranian tanker fleet. Most of the ships are sailing in circles around the Persian Gulf as Iran tries to sell the mostly heavy crude at bargain-basement prices.
International oil experts estimate that Iran is now warehousing as much as 40 million barrels — roughly two weeks of production — on the tankers. An additional 10 million barrels are in storage on shore.
“We are now forced to sell our most valuable export product in secret,” said Nader Karimi Joni, an Iranian journalist specializing in oil. “Iran had a great reputation; now we have to falsify bills of lading, hide the oil’s origin and store oil on ships.”
The subterfuge operates on several levels, but here, on the waters off Bandar Abbas, it is all about the tanker, Neptune. Beneath the fresh black paint, the ship’s hulk bore the name in English and Persian of the tanker company, NITC.
The ship, one of Iran’s smallest, was built in 2000 in South Korea. It carried no flag, and its home port — Bushehr — had first been changed to Valletta, Malta, which had also been painted over. It now said Funafuti, the capital of the Pacific Ocean island nation of Tuvalu.
To conceal their positions — and perhaps to hide just how many loaded ships are at sea — Iran’s oil tankers also frequently turn off their GPS tracking devices, according to IHS Fairplay, a London-based ship tracking data company. It mapped out the last-known destinations of all NITC tankers, including the Iran Astaneh, and concluded that 21 were last seen in the Persian Gulf.
“I hear there are a lot more up north close to the oil terminals,” said Rostam, the smuggler, as he pulled his small craft up alongside the tanker.
Smugglers regularly zip across the Strait of Hormuz in small speedboats to the northern tip of Oman, Rostam and others said, picking up boxes of all kinds of black-market goods. Along the way, Rostam said, he sees the physical evidence of growing tension in the narrow waterway where one-fifth of the world’s oil must travel to get to market.
“We constantly run into United States Navy,” Rostam said. “They only stop us when our boat is filled with people. Not when we are shipping merchandise.”
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards navy is also present in the waters and has its headquarters in this port city, he said. The Iranian Navy operates mainly speedboats with missile launchers mounted on top, intending to swarm much larger American Navy ships with dozens of such boats in case of a confrontation.
Such conflict has happened before, and a defeat prompted Iran to change its navy’s military doctrine. During a one-day conflict in these waters in 1988 between Iran and the United States, one Iranian frigate was sunk, while Iranian forces claimed to have brought down an American helicopter. Some months later, an American Navy ship shot down an Iranian civilian airliner, killing 290 people, an event that Iran commemorated on Monday. The country maintains the plane was deliberately shot down, while the United States says it was an accident.
The prospect of a confrontation now could grow as the pressure builds on Iran while the sanctions, and dropping oil prices, cut deeper into Tehran’s financial lifeline.
Oil prices have fallen by nearly 10 percent since the beginning of the year — and roughly 20 percent from their peak in March — because of weakening demand from Europe, the United States and parts of the developing world, as well as increased production from Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Libya. Oil experts estimate that Iran’s oil export revenues are down about 35 percent compared with the beginning of the year.
Increasingly, Iran’s officials are warning its citizens to prepare for tough times ahead. On Monday, Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran’s foreign minister, made comparisons to the eight-year war between Iran and Iraq when he discussed with reporters the mounting pressures on Iran.
Iran’s vice president, Mohammad-Reza Rahimi, speaking during a religious conference on Sunday, said his country would never be stopped, and he asked for people’s support, state television reported. “Today, we are facing the heaviest of sanctions, and we ask people to help officials in this battle,” he said.
Aboard the Neptune, the crew knew what that meant: killing more time baby-sitting for crude at sea. On Sunday, members of the crew trudged out beneath a blazing sun and hauled up the anchor. They knew they were not going anywhere, but they took the opportunity to clean off the rust. Then they shouted to passengers in a skiff below, trying to make a joke.
“Wait five minutes,” a sailor said. “When we drop anchor again, you’ll get great pictures.”
Chicago has been home to key Hamas operatives for more than 20 years. It was home to the Islamic Association for Palestine, which served as the terrorist organization's American propaganda arm. It was home to Mohammed Salah and Abdelhaleem al-Ashqar, both of whom were key Hamas financiers.
Now, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel has turned to a key cog in the wheel of domestic Hamas support for a new city panel aimed at making the city more immigrant friendly.
Ahmed Rehab, the head of the local Council on American-Islamic Relations' (CAIR) Chicago chapter, is among 50 people appointed last week to the mayor's "New Americans Advisory Committee." The committee is charged with developing "a roadmap that will ensure Chicago continues to thrive and grow and attracts the world's leading human capital to compete in the 21st century global economy and beyond."
Emmanuel should know better.
He was White House chief of staff when it became known that the FBI had broken off communication with CAIR in 2008 over concerns about the organization's roots in a Hamas-support network. CAIR founders Omar Ahmad and Nihad Awad are included in a telephone list of "Palestine Committee" members (Ahmad is identified as "Omar Yehya"), and CAIR was listed in internal records as a specific committee arm.
Other internal records show that the Palestine Committee was created by the Muslim Brotherhood to help Hamas "with what it needs of media, money, men and all of that."
An FBI official wrote to inquiring U.S. senators in 2009, explaining that "until we can resolve whether there continues to be a connection between CAIR or its executives and HAMAS, the FBI does not view CAIR as an appropriate liaison partner."
Yet, Emmanuel appointed the head of the group's Chicago office to the committee on immigrant policy.
Although none of the evidence cited by the FBI implicates Rehab specifically, he has established a record of echoing CAIR's national leadership in refusing to condemn Hamas as a terrorist group and in reflexively opposing law enforcement counter-terrorism investigations.
Rehab defended Kifah Mustapha when the Illinois State Police revoked his appointment as a Muslim police chaplain. Prosecutors say Mustapha was part of the Palestine Committee. Records show he was a paid fundraiser for the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, the Palestine Committee's official fundraising arm.
Five former HLF officials were convicted in 2008 on more than 100 total counts related to illegally funneling more than $12 million to Hamas-tied charities in the West Bank and Gaza. Rehab dismissed the prosecution theory in the case as ludicrous and said the evidence amounted to nothing more than "textbook guilt by association."
But U.S. District Judge Jorge Solis, who saw all the testimony and evidence, came to a different conclusion. "The purpose of creating the Holy Land Foundation was as a fundraising arm for Hamas," he said during a sentencing hearing.
In a separate ruling, Solis found that the prosecution provided "ample evidence" tying CAIR and other organizations to Hamas.
Rehab paid no attention to those court exhibits in criticizing the case, and later in criticizing the state's decision to rescind Mustapha's appointment for the chaplain position. Instead, he blamed the messenger, the Investigative Project on Terrorism, for exposing Mustapha's connections.
"Our concern is that the Illinois State Police is kowtowing to articles online published by notorious anti-Muslims who have been in the business of smearing Muslim activists leaders and Imams for the longest time," Rehab said. Mustapha is "a man of great integrity."
Condemns Terror Investigations, Not Terrorists
That's not the first time Rehab stood stubbornly behind people tied to Hamas support despite the available evidence.
During a 2007 town hall gathering in Texas, he accused the government of a "political persecution" of Muhammad Salah, who admitted to Israeli authorities in 1995 that he was a Hamas member. Though the United States designated Salah as a terrorist, Rehab described him as "a decent individual" and a "man we hold dear."
In a column, Rehab said Salah merely "supplied charitable aid to the most vulnerable factions of his occupied and war-ravaged country of origin, Palestine."
Rehab offered a similar argument during a 2006 interview with the BBC in which he refused to condemn Hamas as a terrorist organization. He does condemn "the blowing up of Tel Aviv pizzerias or cafes," he said, but not "the hospitals run by Hamas, or the schools that help children learn."
That argument, that a terrorist organization's social wings can be considered separately from its terrorist branch, was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 2010 decision that found support for non-violent programs run by terrorist groups "frees up other resources within the organization that may be put to violent ends. It also importantly helps lend legitimacy to foreign terrorist groups—legitimacy that makes it easier for those groups to persist, to recruit members, and to raise funds—all of which facilitate more terrorist attacks."
Last month, Rehab went on national television to condemn the New York Police Department's surveillance activities within Muslim communities. The work was almost entirely conducted in public venues – on streets and open Internet sites – but during an appearance on "The O'Reilly Factor" to discuss a lawsuit against the NYPD, Rehab invoked purported wiretaps and "illegal spying activity" that was never alleged in a series of media reports on the department.
"First of all, this program is unconstitutional," he said. "It's also un-American. Essentially, the pilgrims crossed an ocean to avoid this kind of religious harassment, as one of the plaintiffs actually said. And, you know, this program was targeting individuals and essentially the entire community; restaurants, businesses, mosques, cab drivers, veterans, school groups. They weren't going after criminal leads as law enforcement ought to do, or after suspicious leads, but rather, [an] entire community based solely on religious affiliation and political opinions."
His comments came three weeks after New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa announced that his review of the program found no laws had been broken. That result satisfied Gov. Chris Christie, who initially expressed anger that the NYPD surveillance crossed into his state. "If that's what [Chiesa] determined, Christie said, "it's good enough for me."
A week after that, and two weeks before Rehab's comments, outgoing NYPD director of intelligence analysis Mitchell Silber blasted media coverage of the surveillance program for using "cherry-picked and misconstrued examples to support particularly damaging charges." The program helps police identify pockets of radical activity where terror plots might take root.
The same tactics are used to stop everyday criminal networks, from drug dealers and gangs to human trafficking, Silber wrote.
Surveillance of public places is part of court-approved guidelines, he wrote, and anything involving undercover officers was done "only on the basis of a lead or investigation reviewed and authorized in writing at the highest levels of the department" (emphasis original).
CAIR, Emmanuel Ties
Rehab's appointment is the latest in a series of actions by Chicago officials embracing CAIR despite its disturbing roots and record of hostility toward law enforcement. In January, Emmanuel lauded CAIR, saying the Chicago chapter "has provided a comprehensive array of invaluable services to the Muslim-American community and has facilitated important partnerships and civil rights advocacy opportunities for Muslim-Americans throughout the Chicagoland area."
In March, Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy attended CAIR-Chicago's annual fundraising banquet, where he saw Mustapha, head imam at the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview, honored with the chapter's "Mobilizer Award."
Mustapha, who has helped CAIR raise hundreds of thousands of dollars at fundraisers, is suing the State Police over losing the chaplain's position. CAIR attorneys are representing Mustapha in that suit against law enforcement, but that didn't stop McCarthy from attending the CAIR banquet.
This came after McCarthy reportedly told CAIR officials his police officers would not engage in intelligence gathering similar to the NYPD.
Rehab addressed the dinner, too, warning that rising bigotry against Muslims are similar to conditions Jews in Europe faced prior to the Holocaust.
"This isn't just about discrimination and racism," he said. "This is also about the greater Islamophobia, the consequences of which are wars, death, destruction, human rights abuses, not civil rights only, but human rights abuses. And it's not the first time it's happened in history … Before Jews in Europe could be subjected to the kinds of unimaginable torture, death, destruction that they were subjected to, and others, in Europe during the '40s, there had to be a period in the '30s and even the '20s and even the '10s, where no one was being necessarily violently attacked or apprehended or tortured or killed, but there was this growth of hatred and bigotry."
Meanwhile, Rehab has made some false representations about CAIR, his employer, although they may have been rooted in ignorance. During a 2007 interview with the Chicago Tribune, he insisted that "Neither CAIR chapters nor the national office solicits or accepts money from any foreign government."
In fact, CAIR leaders have been traveling to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates since 2002 through this year seeking and collecting millions of dollars for CAIR projects.
Then, in 2009, CAIR solicited donations from Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi during his visit to New York for a United Nations session.
Rehab's record of defending terror supporters is well established, as is his organization's disturbing history in a Hamas-support network. It defies reason to believe Emmanuel and those in his office are unaware of these actions, or are unable to conduct a basic Internet search on Rehab before enhancing his clout with the appointment to the new advisory council.
In a city as vast as Chicago, there must be better choices of Muslim residents who can offer insights into immigrants and their needs. Emmanuel chose instead to align with Rehab and CAIR, warts and all.