These are all the Blogs posted on Sunday, 5, 2010.
Sunday, 5 December 2010
The Campus Battle over Sabra brand Hummus Products’ Israel Connection
Who would have ever thought that the containers of Sabra brand hummus, baba ganoush and other products we regularly purchase at our local Publix Markets here in Florida would become the objects of alleged human rights violations on college campuses and elsewhere in the US. But with anything concerning Israel on college campuses these days, even food products become embroiled in controversy between opponents on the extreme left and those objecting to still yet another call for divestment of products connected with Israel.
DePaul University in Chicago temporarily suspended the sale of Sabra products in mid-November, but after review, rescinded the boycott. Note this comment from a New York Timesreport on the campus hummus kerfuffle:
At DePaul, a Catholic university in Chicago, there was no referendum on hummus, just a demand for the removal of Sabra hummus by Students for Justice in Palestine, a quick acquiescence - and days later, a hasty about-face.
On Nov. 24, DePaul officials acknowledged that the university had not followed its own policies for handling such issues, and reinstated Sabra products, pending review.
"DePaul's standard university procedure is to take action on a matter after it has been reviewed by the Fair Business Practices Committee," said Robin Florzak, a DePaul spokeswoman. "However, in this instance the sale of Sabra hummus was temporarily suspended, by mistake, prior to review by the Fair Business Practices Committee. We have reinstated sales to correct that error by staff personnel."
Michael Kotzin, executive vice president of the Jewish United Fund, said in a statement on DePaul's reversal that the anti-Sabra campaign revealed deep anti-Israel sentiment.
"As trivial as the determination of what hummus to serve to university students might seem, there are serious ramifications to this issue," Mr. Kotzin said. "It is clear that this action, following on earlier boycotts of Israeli culture and Israeli academics around the world, is but one component of a global assault on the legitimacy of the State of Israel itself."
The absurdity of this campus culinary war against Israel was evident this past week, when a referendum requesting competitive products for retail sales and for use at the common tables was defeated at Princeton University by a vote of 1014 to 699. Despite that 'victory', Princeton could still accede to the request proposed by the Princeton Committee for Palestine (PCP). Note this Daily Princetoniancomment:
The referendum, sponsored by the Princeton Committee on Palestine, would have asked Dining Services to provide an alternative brand to Sabra hummus in retail locations.
Despite the referendum's defeat, Dining Services has not yet ruled out the possibility of providing an alternative to Sabra hummus. "We will continue the conversation with the students and hope to include faculty and staff opinions as well," Stu Orefice, director of Dining Services, said in an e-mail.
Here's the background. Sabra Dipping Products, LLC is a Farmingdale; New York based company with investment partners from The Strauss Group, Israel's second largest food concern, and PepsiCo, Inc. The Strauss Group has sent gift packages to soldiers of the famed Golani Brigade, an elite unit of the IDF, often accused, unfairly in our view, of alleged human rights violations, especially during Operation Cast lead in December 2008 to January 2009. The Strauss Group connection was seized upon by both anti-Israel pro-Palestinian campus and leftist extremist groups in the US like the Socialist Workers party for boycott of Sabra products. They conflate the gift packages sent by the Strauss group to Golani Brigade soldiers as evidence of support for false allegations of Israeli apartheid treatment of Palestinians. The removal of Sabra hummus products from college dining tables was also viewed as a way of focusing on Israeli obduracy over settlement construction policies for the disputed territories of the West Bank.
In the case of Princeton, both leaders of the PCP , Yoel Bitran '11 and Tigers for Israel, Jeffrey Mensch,'11 are Jewish. Watch this fascinating exchange between the two Princeton student leaders on the Hummus referendum on this Daily Princetonian video, here.
Note these comments from Bitran, Mensch and the leaders of the Princeton Center for Jewish Life (Hillel) in The Daily Princetonian report on the failed referendum.
In an e-mail statement, Yoel Bitran '11, president of PCP, said he was excited by the high amount of student support despite the referendum's defeat. "The main goal of this initiative was to raise awareness about Sabra and its association to Israel's human rights violations," he said. "In that sense we have been extremely successful." Bitran added that PCP still hopes to convince the University to provide an alternative hummus.
PCP had sponsored the referendum as part of a larger boycott campaign against the Strauss Group, which owns 50 percent of Sabra Dipping Company; on the basis that parent company has financially and publicly supported the Israeli Defense Forces at large and the Golani Brigade in particular. Members of the brigade have been convicted of human rights abuses, which PCP has argued are systematic.
The officers of Tigers for Israel - president Jeffrey Mensch '11, co-vice presidents Addie Lerner '11, Samson Schatz '13, treasurer Jacob Reses '13 and secretary Morris Breitbart '12 - expressed satisfaction with the result in a joint e-mail statement. The group had been at the forefront of the campaign to defeat the referendum. "The fringe, anti-Israel elements of the campus community and their allies in the national BDS [boycott, divestment, and sanctions] movement have utterly failed in their attempt to trick Princeton students into starting down the path of delegitimizing the Jewish state," they said. According to TFI, BDS campaigns neglect "the complexity and nuances of the situation in the Middle East."
The Center for Jewish Life co-presidents Kerry Brodie '12 and Mendy Fisch '11 said in an e-mail statement Friday, "We are proud that the Princeton student body defeated the referendum."
"This is a victory for those who wish to foster open dialogue and honest discussion on campus. It is a victory for those who wish to continue to think, work and act to achieve peace," they added.
The CJL had previously contacted students on its mailing list to warn them of the possible impacts the referendum could have on Israel. The CJL's decision to comment on a political issue drew some negative attention, which Brodie and Fisch addressed in their statement.
"Our goal was that when students approached the ballot they would understand that the referendum was not simply about offering more hummus brands at the campus center, but that it was part of a larger plan to boycott an Israeli company because it made donations to its own country's army," they said.
"We want to reiterate that every student is welcome at the CJL, regardless of that person's position on Israel or on the referendum. Any student interested in Jewish life, whether consuming or boycotting Sabra hummus, is encouraged to find a home in the CJL."
The best antidote for this absurd secondary culinary boycott against Israel is simply is, for those of us addicted to a Mediterranean diet, to stock up on delicious Sabra brand products. As for campus Jewish leftist liberal students who support this BDS nonsense, they suffer from the absurdity of what Harvard Medical School Professor of Psychiatry Dr. Keneth Levin calls in his book, The Oslo Syndrome. They need some reality therapy and deprogramming big time.
UK businessmen get '50% more British' when in the US
From Newsbiscuit - and when I say biscuit, I don't mean those things you have with gravy:
Male British business travellers to the United States exaggerate their Britishness by an average of 50%, claims a new study issued by Accentia, the dialect, jargon and accent monitoring group.
'Use of 'Jolly good show' and 'Cheers mate' doubles as soon as they get off the plane, and by the time they reach their hotel, vowel sounds will tend toward either a self-deprecating Hugh Grant, or a laddish lothario Russell Brand - often in the same sentence,' commented author of the study, Rebecca Parkhouse. 'They will then spend the duration of their trip engaging baristas, waitresses and receptionists in cheerful and unnecessary banter until they are told that their accent is cute, whereupon they'll insist they have no accent, or return the compliment.'
The survey also points out that British businessmen will go out of the way to use words like 'gutted' and 'bloody knackered' and will pretend to be confused when American women mention 'chips' or 'fanny-pack', before going on to explain what they mean in Britain. Even American words that have entered common usage in the UK, like 'truck', 'movie' and 'closet gay' will be corrected by the UK visitors to their British forms, 'lorry', 'film' and 'cupboard poof'.
'It's thought that the men have at some point absorbed cultural messages that American women both love the British accent, and are sexually promiscuous, and that these beliefs have been internalised to a degree that their unconscious urge to get laid while away from their families forces them to adopt a caricature of Britishness, no matter how ill-suited the scenario is for sex to ensue,' continued Parkhouse, 'they're also under the impression that the American women don't know what they're really saying when they call them 'a sad wanker' after they proposition them with an offer of a properly made cup of tea in their hotel room.'
The survey finally noted that these same men adopt Americanisms on their return to the UK for very similar reasons, and with very similar levels of success.
Darn tootin'. By the way, is Obama a cupboard Muslim, or are the Septics getting their knickers in a twist over a storm in a teacup?
Hugo Williams gives us a few lines he wrote at the age of fourteen. From the TLS:
My "Happy Thoughts" opened: "Good morning fools! Disaster is the thread / with which I stitch my painful poetry" (true in both senses). School was an uphill struggle: "Is it strange to think of life / As one eternal downward strife?", I asked myself.
That last one is too cheery - adolescent poetry isn't supposed to rhyme, as E Js Thribb and Throbb will confirm. And "painful poetry" is too perky - you don't want to overdo the alliteration in this incessant cesspool of servile sycophants we call life.
Here are some more teenage poems. It's being so cheerful as keeps them going till twenty:
Down in the banks of misery I fade
Losing myself and friends I'd made
Lost in guilt
Lost myself to a stranger without a name
What's going on, you may well ask, as this fourteen-year-old did:
WHAT'S going on with all this killing each other?
WHAT happened to treating one another as a brother?
EVERYWHERE I turn there's hatred in the air.
THERE'S so much pain i have to bear!
WHAT'S going on to the love and heart?
WHAT happened to everyone respecting each other's art?
WHAT'S going on, i can't really get the understanding of the sorrow and demanding?
WHAT's going on why isn't anyone standing?
CAN YOU tell me,what's going on?
Nobody's standing, notwithstanding the art and the heart, because they're all lying in their beds. (And in their heads?)
I can hear my heart beat
Lying in my bed,
I can feel the blood rush
Pounding in my head,
Beating lie a bass drum
in an empty room,
I can hear my heart beat
Makes you feel quite desolate:
Now mind is clear
as a cloudless sky.
Time then to make a
home in wilderness.
What have I done but
wander with my eyes
in the trees? So I
will build: wife,
family, and seek
And so on. Actually, that isn't a deservedly unknown adolescent; it's Allen Ginsberg.
Veteran journalist Helen Thomas isn't content merely to stand by the comments she made earlier this year that led to ouster at Hearst Newspapers. Thomas resigned shortly after telling a rabbi in June that Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine" and "go home" to "Poland, Germany and America and America and everywhere else."
Thomas went further during remarks in Dearborn, Mich. on Thursday, in analyzing "the whole question of money in politics."
"Congress, the White House and Hollywood, Wall Street are owned by the Zionists. No question, in my opinion," she told 300 people gathered at a community center. "They put their money where their mouth is....We're being pushed into a wrong direction in every way."
"I can call a president of the United States anything in the book, but I can't touch Israel," Thomas said in an interview with the Detroit Free Press.
Arab-Americans and Islamists reacted in a variety of ways to Thomas' prior slurs. In October, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) gave her its 2010 "Lifetime Achievement Award." CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper asserted at the time that Thomas had apologized for the June comments urging Israeli Jews to "get the hell out." (Neither Hooper nor CAIR appear to have said anything about Thomas' comments in Dearborn.)
At least one institution is backing away from Thomas after this latest rant. Wayne State University is dropping its Helen Thomas Spirit of Diversity Award. As a public university, Wayne State encourages free speech and open dialogue, and respects diverse viewpoints," a school statement said. "However, the university strongly condemns the anti-Semitic remarks made by Helen Thomas ..."
We hardly needed WikiLeaks to tell us, among many other things, that Nicolas Sarkozy, the president of France, is a vulgar man with authoritarian inclinations, or that Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister, is interested in sex. It isn't even particularly reassuring to have our judgments confirmed for us by American diplomatic messages, for if they had said anything different we shouldn't have believed them in any case.
After the first slight frisson of pleasure at the discomfiture of powerful people and those in authority has worn off, a pleasure akin to that of seeing a pompously dignified man slip on a banana skin, the real significance of the greatest disclosure of official documents in the history of the world-without, that is, the military downfall of a great capital city-becomes apparent. It is not, of course, that revelations of secrets are always unwelcome or ethically unjustified. It is not a new insight that power is likely to be abused and can only be held in check by a countervailing power, often that of public exposure. But WikiLeaks goes far beyond the need to expose wrongdoing, or supposed wrongdoing: it is unwittingly doing the work of totalitarianism.
The idea behind WikiLeaks is that life should be an open book, that everything that is said and done should be immediately revealed to everybody, that there should be no secret agreements, deeds, or conversations. In the fanatically puritanical view of WikiLeaks, no one and no organization should have anything to hide. It is scarcely worth arguing against such a childish view of life.
The actual effect of WikiLeaks is likely to be profound and precisely the opposite of what it supposedly sets out to achieve. Far from making for a more open world, it could make for a much more closed one. Secrecy, or rather the possibility of secrecy, is not the enemy but the precondition of frankness. WikiLeaks will sow distrust and fear, indeed paranoia; people will be increasingly unwilling to express themselves openly in case what they say is taken down by their interlocutor and used in evidence against them, not necessarily by the interlocutor himself. This could happen not in the official sphere alone, but also in the private sphere, which it works to destroy. An Iron Curtain could descend, not just on Eastern Europe, but over the whole world. A reign of assumed virtue would be imposed, in which people would say only what they do not think and think only what they do not say.
The dissolution of the distinction between the private and public spheres was one of the great aims of totalitarianism. Opening and reading other people's e-mails is not different in principle from opening and reading other people's letters. In effect, WikiLeaks has assumed the role of censor to the world, a role that requires an astonishing moral grandiosity and arrogance to have assumed. Even if some evils are exposed by it, or some necessary truths aired, the end does not justify the means.
A "widespread belief among adherents of the Turk-Islam synthesis"
A quote from Eric Edelman, U.S. ambassador to Turkey, 30 December 2004, published by Wikileaks via Brussels Journal:
"We have also run into the rarely openly-spoken, but widespread belief among adherents of the Turk-Islam synthesis that Turkey's role is to spread Islam in Europe, 'to take back Andalusia and avenge the defeat at the siege of Vienna in 1683' as one participant in a recent meeting at AKP's main think tank put it. "
"The vast majority of people in the Arab world sympathize with al Qaeda only because it champions their issues and speaks their language and it's seemingly effective against their enemies." -- the egregious Shibley Telhami of the Brookings Institution and the University of Maryland
A nice example of deception and even possibly self-deception. It is not because it [Al Qaeda] "champions their issues." It is because Al Qaeda speaks the language of Islam, is deeply rooted in the canonical texts of Islam, and cannot be successfully refuted within Islam. Why not? Because it is true to the letter and the spirit of Islam -- to the Qur'an and Sunna, to the example of Muhammad, uswa hasana (Qur'an 33:21). The origins of Islam to justify and promote the Arab conquest of more advanced, richer, more populous tribes and groups of Christians and Jews, the role of Jihad-conquest in spreading Islam, the long record, over 1350 years, of the subjugation of non-Muslims of every kind, always and everywhere forced to endure the status of dhimmi (although sometimes the rigor of this was modified by the gentleness of an individual ruler, such as syncretistic Akbar in India), if permitted to live at all and to avoid forcible conversion -- all of this may have been forgotten in the Western world.
As The Legacy of Jihad (just out, and I can throw away the galleys I had and now read from the beautifully-bound book) demonstrates, Western scholars in the recent past (1880-1970) without exception understood Islam perfectly. But then something happened. A change of personnel, and a change in funding, and a change in world-views. Those experts on Islam died, or retired. They were not replaced by similar experts. The membership of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA Nostra, or MESA for short), for example, in 1970 consisted almost entirely of non-Muslim Americans: Muslims were about 3% of the membership. In 2005 more than half -- over 60% - of MESA Nostra's membership consists of Middle Easterners, Muslim and in most cases, Islamochristians. There are few Maronites, few Chaldeans or Assyrians, few Copts, but many, many Muslims and above all, the kind of Christians -- "Palestinians" -- who have chosen to identify with the Jihad against Israel and with Islam as the embodiment of Arabdom, Uruba. Some of these are smoother than others; after all, they want to be admitted to the corridors of power, to become "experts" who appear on this or that network, to be quoted -- so they learn quickly exactly how far they can go in their defense of Islam and their deflection of attention away from Islam.
The effect of this has been dramatic. It is hardly possible to learn about the main subject that one needs to learn about -- Islam - with any intelligent understanding of North Africa or the Middle East or the world wherever Muslims are now to be found and are aggressively promoting their demands, their Da'wa, their demographic conquest that proceeds, here fast and there slow, of the local Infidels. That is to say, it is hardly possible to get the truth about Islam almost anywhere you might once have expected to find it..
A near-monopoly has been established among academic centers by the army of apologists for Islam. Many, most of them, are themselves Muslims, with that absence of self-criticism, that quickness to defend -- often in the most transparent and absurd ways -- the claims of Islam against all who, having familiarized themselves with the Qur'an, Hadith, and Sira, and with the history of Muslim conquest and treatment of non-Muslims, dare to criticize it. There are the Iranians, who can be divided in two - on the one hand, there is the clownish Hamid Dabashi variety (google "Hamid Dabashi" and "Edward Said" right now -- I never fail to offer this as a surefire way to start your day, and float or row your boat, merrily, merrily, merrily, down the stream of Dabashi's lurid consciousness), who identify totally with the Arabs and Islam. On the other hand there are the Iranians in exile who may have begun to question Islam itself and realized how poisoned a gift the Arabs gave to Sassanian, Zoroastrian, Persia.
Then there are the largely, though not entirely, wacky or slightly off (in some cases) or simply career-minded play-it-very-safe Americans. Some of these are recipients of Arab money, at various academic centers bought-and-paid for by the Saudis and others, holders of Saudi-funded chairs who are not about to bite the hand that not only feeds them, but also holds a dagger. Others are people who simply want to get on with their work in medieval Islamic law, or the history of Islamic astronomy, but do not wish to cause themselves any unpleasantness as they seek tenure, or summer fellowships, or access to manuscripts. They simply wish to be left mostly alone when the hideous administrative assignments are handed out, or do not wish to be odd-man-out among hostile Muslims and their sympathizers. And so they sit silently at those horrible faculty meetings that one can hardly imagine such former teachers as Auden, Frost, Randall Jarrell, John Berryman, or for that matter Erdos, von Neumann, Morgenstern, Hans Bethe, and a few hundred others ever attending or managing to endure.
And let's not even speak of the undergraduates who have no way of knowing what nonsense they are being taught about Islam -- that they may discover afterwards. At this point they only want to regurgitate just the right amount for the desired grade. Then there are the graduate students whose professional advancement depends on being well-pleased pleasers (Joyce, prosti!) of those who rule over them.
I have my own ideas as to where, in this taxonomy, I'd place Shibley Telhami. You?
Reuel Gerecht: Why Negotiations With Iran Will Never Work
From The Weekly Standard, Reuel Gerecht appears have come around on the central importance of what is in the minds of Muslims -- Islam -- and this is particularly welcome, as he hasn't always written as if he understood things quite that way. Some have attacked him for this. I think his new understanding, now on display, should be welcomed.
Why negotiations with Iran will never work.
Reuel Marc Gerecht
December 13, 2010
Although it's way too soon to know how the WikiLeaks release of classified U.S. documents will play out historically, it is interesting to compare two cables brought to light by the document dump-one written by Bruce Laingen, the chargé d'affaires in Tehran at the time of the Iranian revolution in 1979, and the other written by a U.S. diplomat in Baghdad in 2007 recounting conversations between the British ambassador to Iran, Geoffrey Adams, and American civilian officials and military officers. Both cables are meant to tutor their readers on how to negotiate with the Iranian regime.
The two are similar to guides to negotiating with Iranians written for American officials in the Obama administration by the retired-then-rehired Foreign Service officer John Limbert. Like Laingen, Limbert was taken hostage in 1979 after the imam's "students" seized the U.S. embassy. Limbert is a master of the Persian language; the British ambassador has an academic and professional background in the Arab world; Laingen, who served in the Navy in World War?II, was a career diplomat who spent much of his career in the Greater Middle East (Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan). Looking at the counsel offered by Laingen, Adams, and Limbert across three decades allows us to appreciate how hard it is for Westerners to deal with faithful Muslims who see a clash of civilizations between Islam and the West.
President Obama has not yet publicly abandoned diplomacy with the Islamic Republic. In the European-led talks with Iran, in which the United States will also participate, slated to begin on December 6 in Geneva, the administration is undoubtedly hoping that Iran might chat seriously about halting uranium enrichment. The increasing pain inflicted by the American-led sanctions regime could, diplomats pray, make this time different. The Americans and the Europeans will certainly offer more carrots to Tehran even though the Europeans, who've endeavored to cajole the Iranians to stop uranium enrichment since 2003, have become even more pessimistic than the Americans about their chances.
Washington's Iran policy has now moved irreversibly in favor of economic coercion as the principal means to induce a change of behavior in Tehran. It's increasingly clear that the administration would, truth be told, prefer a change of regime in Iran-there has been real evolution since the "Age-of-Aquarius" early days of the Obama presidency-but intellectually and emotionally such sentiments are difficult for this administration to express. And such undiplomatic thoughts would be publicly upsetting for our European allies, even though, as WikiLeaks documents make clear, they are becoming common in private exchanges. (When French national security adviser Jean-David Levitte describes Iran's diplomatic engagement with the West on the nuclear issue as a "farce" and calls the Tehran regime "fascist," it's probably safe to conclude that the French no longer put much faith in "constructive engagement.")
So it is worthwhile to review what others who've had dealings with revolutionary Iran have thought about their encounters. Limbert's interesting 2009 book Negotiating with Iran was written before the tumultuous pro-democracy Green Movement challenged Ali Khamenei's dictatorship that June, and before Limbert rejoined the State Department as point man on Iran. It is a sober yet optimistic work.
Back in 1979, Limbert was sympathetic to the Khomeini revolution (and WikiLeaks-released State Department cables about the shah's mind-numbing police state show why a thoughtful U.S. diplomat would have been deeply uncomfortable with the Pahlavi dynasty). In his recent book, he can't quite bring himself to see the struggle between the United States and the Islamic Republic as an ideological/religious battle. Looking back at Obama's failed outreach to Ali Khamenei, Limbert concludes that "diplomatic efforts??.??.??.??foundered on mutual suspicion, political ineptitude, misreading signals, bad timing, and the power of inertia.??.??.??.??Officials on both sides seemed unable to get beyond their classic responses." Nothing about God. Nothing about Satan. Nothing about the evolution of Shiite Islamic militant thought in the 20th century. Nothing about Khamenei's vision of incompatible civilizations.
I strongly suspect that Limbert was Obama's alter ego and Persian pen: The president's words were really his. Obama's use of the Persian poet Saadi-a Sufi poet of brotherly love and no favorite of the revolution-in his outreach to Khamenei reflected the cultural lens through which Limbert sees Iran. The president's studied use of the official appellation "The Islamic Republic of Iran" in his addresses to the supreme leader mirrored Limbert's belief that such polite symbolism could aid in conflict resolution. And Obama was in perfect sync with Limbert in describing the root cause of America's problems in the Middle East as "negative preconceptions."
The failure to perceive irreconcilable ideological differences between Americans and the still-faithful disciples of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini is vividly on display in the reporting cable from the U.S. embassy in Iraq dated November 30, 2007. The cable summarizes a series of meetings in Baghdad where General David Petraeus and the American ambassador met and conversed with the British ambassador to Tehran. The meetings were called to prepare the Americans for the fourth round of the Iran-Iraq-United States trilateral discussions, to be held in Baghdad the following month.
According to Ambassador Adams, Iran had several goals, "both superficial and substantive." The Iranians wanted to "institutionalize talks with the US and keep open the possibility of broadening the agenda." The British ambassador predicted, per the State Department cable, that "the Iranians will seek to keep them going both to engender their prestige and to keep tabs on what the USG is thinking." Adams thought "the talks had triggered a useful internal debate [in Iran] in how to make the best use of the talks and their strategic interests." With nice English understatement, "Adams added that he believed there is a significant lobby in Iran against holding talks with the US." What we know now pretty clearly is that Khamenei hated these talks. Even while they were occurring, he gave the distinct impression that he held his nose when referring to the meetings.
The driving force behind the discussions was not Iranian curiosity about American intentions but Shiite Iraqi anxiety and anger at the Iranians. Although American and British observers of Iraq have a tendency to view Shiite Iraqis as pawns of the Iranians, the opposite is often closer to the truth. Iran got tied down in Iraq-its options complicated and limited by the fractious, increasingly anti-Persian sentiments of the Iraqi Shia, some of whom were being assassinated by Iranian-trained and Iranian-guided Iraqi hit teams (a point that Wiki-Leaks-released classified Pentagon documents make crystal clear). Iranian-backed assassinations were beginning to cause noticeable disquiet among Iran's clergy, many of whom are closely connected to the Iraqi clergy in the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala. The Iraqi Shia effectively dragged Ali Khamenei's representatives to these meetings with the Americans; the talks stopped precisely because the supreme leader opposed institutionalizing discussions and did not view them as enhancing Iranian prestige. The last thing in the world he wanted was to "broaden the agenda" between him and "Satan incarnate"-a phrase that Khamenei deployed against the United States after President Obama basically begged the supreme leader for unconditional talks.
Unlike Khamenei, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad didn't mind the Iranian-American chitchat in Iraq. (And according to Ryan Crocker, the American ambassador there, "chitchat" would be a generous description of what transpired in Baghdad.) Ahmadinejad has regularly given the impression that he enjoys going mano a mano with the United States. Unlike Khamenei, who has a traditional cleric's distaste for physical contact with impure things and people (chiefly women and unbelievers), Ahmadinejad sees Iranian-Muslim superiority as best displayed up close and personal. The president relishes his trips to the United Nations, which becomes a stage for Ahmadinejad's personal passion play of the righteous against the wicked. The supreme leader would probably rather have his toenails pulled out than ascend the U.N. dais or speak to unbelievers at Columbia University.
Adams and Limbert both give a good idea of the Iranian love affair with conspiracy, how it melds inextricably with reality. "Iranians assume," the Baghdad cable tells us, "that everything [the Americans] do or say has meaning and has been carefully thought out and coordinated, both internally and with the UK; there are no accidents." Less emotionally invested in Iran than Limbert, the British ambassador is a bit clearer in how he describes Iranian malevolence. Per Adams, "Iran sees the US as a tough, determined adversary that can be manipulated and wounded." The State cable, which is full of Adams's sensible tactical advice about Iranian habits and manners, contains not a word about how religion enters into Khamenei's perceptions of the United States. With Adams and Limbert, God doesn't seem to be a participant in Iranian-American conversations.
What's more striking is that God doesn't enter Bruce Laingen's ruminations either. For the chargé d'affaires during the most stressful time in Iranian-American relations, the embassy's problems lay more in Persian culture than in the explosion of the Iranian-Islamic identity. "In some instances," Laingen wrote shortly before the embassy takeover, "the difficulties we have encountered are a partial reflection on the effects of the Iranian revolution, but we believe the underlying cultural and psychological qualities that account for the nature of these difficulties are and will remain relatively constant." I suspect that Laingen would like to rewrite that sentence.
Laingen saw several pernicious cultural forces at work-"Persian egoism," the "incomprehension of causality," and the "Persian concepts of influence and obligation." Anyone who's ever been a case officer handling Iranian agents will instinctively grasp Laingen's discussion of "causality"-how time, cause, and effect are interconnected, which is why Westerners usually start conversations at "A" and work towards "Z." Iranians, even highly Westernized Iranians, can start at "P," work back to "D," skip erratically to "N," and then jump to "Y." Debriefing an Iranian-"decoding" is a more apt description-can take a great deal of patience and a very un-Western appreciation of contradictions. Laingen's cable is admirably free of political correctness (the idea was just germinating in universities in 1979) and is, as a practical guide for face-to-face discussions with revolutionary Iranians, rich. But again, it's impossible to overlook the lack of religious content in the chargé's reflections.
The ruminations of Laingen, Adams, and Limbert are all culture-heavy commentaries. They assume that culture and what we would describe as pragmatic political considerations override what revolutionary Iranians, like Islamic fundamentalists everywhere, call akhlaq, religious ethics. They also give little attention to how politics can rapidly warp culture-even age-old culture. The modern Middle East is the very sad story of ideological passion-socialism, communism, fascism, Arabism, nationalism, and Islamism-pulverizing traditional culture, with all its eccentricities and customs that allowed for human decency and so much mirth. As Westerners ought to know from their own modern history, good people fueled with the wrong ideology can quickly become monsters. Ideology can permanently scar a culture and transform it.
The colorful, humanistic side of Iranian culture, like the importation and deep absorption of Western democratic ideas, is fighting hard against the Islamic Republic's modern and authoritarian religious ideology. But God's faithful soldiers-which is how Khamenei, Ahmadinejad, and their backers within the Revolutionary Guards see themselves-remain powerful. You cannot take God away from these men. You cannot define their fundamental concepts of good, evil, and justice without making reference to the obligations that every believer owes to the Almighty. You cannot talk about Iran's nuclear program without understanding it within a religious context. How many times have we heard NPR or American (especially Iranian-American) academics and journalists talk about the irretrievable marriage of the nuclear program with Iranian nationalism? Whether that is true or not, the secular disposition of the analysts is telling. Secularism has transformed Western culture-or, as Ahmadinejad and Khamenei would say, has permanently debased it.
When the Americans, Europeans, and Khamenei's representatives gather in Geneva on December 6, we should keep in mind what Limbert, Adams, and Laingen teach us about the revolutionary Iranian psyche and how Iranians act among themselves and with foreigners. But we should also keep in mind what's missing from these gentlemen's fine commentary. If the Obama administration and the Europeans actually understood the opposing side, they would realize the sanctions now on the books are not nearly enough to make Khamenei blink. Islamic history is littered with defeated religious militants. But they were defeated. They didn't arrive at a new understanding of their faith through diplomacy and negotiations.
MESA Nostra is the professional organization in which, in order to become a uomo d'onore, or a donna d'onore for that matter, no kneecaps need be broken, no nightclubs broken up, no trucks hijacked, no girls put on the streets, no cocaine contraband prescribed by "los medicos" of Medellin be distributed. No, there are only two requirements to become a Made Man in MESA Nostra. The first is easy: you must view the entire Middle East through ideological blinkers, in which Islam scarcely matters, and in which, whatever happens, Jihad-conquest and dhimmitude will be ignored, so that contemporary expressions of millennium-old doctrines, attitudes, impulses will be interpreted without the slightest reference to those doctrines, attitudes, impulses.
That is content.
There is also form.
What would Shakespeare have been like had he not forced himself to squeeze his dramatic verse into the Elizabethan doublet of iambic pentameter? Or Spenser, without the Spenserian stanza? It is not only writers in Elizabethan England who found such constraints productive. How impressive that 20th century French writer who managed to produce a novel without using the letter "e," or that other one who composed a series of works based on a single device: the beginning and the final sentences of whatever he wrote were phonetically identical, though semantically wildly different, and he assigned himself the writerly task of beating a plausible path through the overgrown jungle of language, a path that led ineluctably from that first sentence to the same-sounding, but different-meaning, last sentence.
Many of those in MESA Nostra may not realize it, but they are akin to Shakespeare and Spenser, Georges Perec and Raymond Roussel. For them it is not a question of verse-forms, or lipograms, or homophonic puns. Their self-imposed constraint consists in limiting their scholarly lexicon to fewer than fifty nouns, and two-dozen verbs. They harness these exhausted nouns, these over-worked verbs, and put them to work, no matter the subject. No matter the subject.
Thus the prose produced by one member of MESA Nostra will sound remarkably like that of another. Here we mean the enthusiastic, full-throated members of MESA Nostra, those whose interests do not stray very far from "Iraq" and "Palestine" and "colonialism" and "empire," and the obvious ring-changing variants: "occupied Iraq/Palestine," "Iraqi/Palestinian people," "Israeli colonialism," "American empire." Many members of MESA Nostra membership have a deep and abiding personal and professional interest in these matters, as they do in little else. They can do no other.
But a few members of MESA Nostra are members-in-name-only, who remain different in mental makeup, and distant from the bureaucratic intrigues, the political tendentiousness, the anti-American,anti-Israel, anti-Western themes and variations. These "non-member" members do not write about the "construction of Palestinian identity" nor the "(de)construction of Israeli identity." Rather, they write about "The Methods of the Muhaddithin," or "Ephraim of Edessa," or "Xavier de Planhol and Agricultural Desolation in the Berber Heartland," or "Yemeni Jews as Chattel Slaves" or "The Destruction of the Coptic Churches of Upper Egypt," or "Schacht, Jeffery, Gottheil: Three Masters of Morningside Heights" or "Arabic but not Quran'ic: The Evidence of Numismatics" or "Twelver-Shi'ism in Mevlevistan" or "Ibn Battuta, the Rihla, and the Destruction of Hindustan" or "Why There Was No Arab Copernicus or Vesalius: An Inquiry" or "Aisha and Marriage in the Islamic Republic of Iran" or "Quran'ic Memorization and Comparative I.Q. Levels in Post-Independence India" or "Sir William Jones and the Re-Discovery of India" or "The Role of Hadrami Traders in the Muslim Conquest of the East Indies" or "The Story of Thomas Pellow" or "Indo-Persian Miniatures of Jihad-Conquest in the British Museum Collections: A Catalogue Raisonee" or "Table-Talk of a Mesopotamian Judge: A Critical Edition" or "Book-Binding at the Abbasid Court" or "The Role of Hungarian Converts in Ottoman History" or "The War Within Islam: Universalist Claims, Arab Supremacist Doctrine" or "The Treaty of Al-Hudaibiyya and Pacta Sunt Servanda: Muhammad and Grotius on the Law of War and Peace" or ... made these up just now to give you -- and some future doctoral candidates -- an idea. But these are not the people whom we have in mind when we discuss MESA Nostra at JihadWatch. We are talking about the other kind.
And it was with that other kind in mind - the card-carrying careerists, the blurb-and-reference swappers, the runners-for-office, the risers-high, the much-interviewed, the solemn dispensers of wisdom to the unwary, the True Believers - that we created the MESA Nostra Contest.
The contest is simple. Below is a single paragraph, itself consisting of a single sentence, transparently written in Mesanostran. Contestants are asked to identify the author.
"In conclusion, I feel that this work of analysis, by focusing on the implications of the phallic hegemony of Wehrmacht-helmeted Israeli troops and their supporters throughout the American empire, both equally unappeasable in their demonstrable need for "the Other," does what in a quasi-heuristic sense it was intended to do, as it manages to break away from all Eurocentric approaches to discourses of postcolonial subalternity, or even of meta-alterity, and comes so subversively close in its disjunctive interrogation of the counter- or, more exactly, anti-mimesis which is inherently essential to Mesopotamian or indeed to Cairene, Abbasid, Jordanian or Palestinian thought for, as a native of (Amman, Baghdad, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, Islamabad, Ramallah, Teheran, etc. - choose one) and hence a non-European, I am of necessity self-assigned to that category of people best placed to perform such a mission of interrogating all postcolonialist as well as narrativised specificity, but of equal necessity, not as one obviously intent on de-undermining or rather meta-determining the poststructuralist or post-postmodern universalism, with its customary relativised discourse analysis which seldom lends itself to anticipatory prolepsis, but on the other hand my critique is quite meta-consciously deeply para-rooted within, as well as up-rooted out of, and obviously from, Western thought with its inalienably alien constructions of meta-identity and hypersexuality, which necessarily give rise to post-essentialism which, in a larger sense, serves merely to violate all the strategic critiques of hegemonic historiographical constructions of essences, whether of the Orient or of scholars who deny the self-referentiality of all postcolonialist essentializing."
The prize for the first correct entry emailed to [email protected] will be a nicely framed copy of Professor Hamid Dabashi's celebrated Poem in Prose to Edward Said, which you may read now by googling "Hamid Dabashi" and "Edward Said." For many, that will be prize enough.
Can The Pentagon Spare A Million Dollars For Translating, Publishing, And Disseminating Important Works On Islam?
With all the trillions that have been spent in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, on ventures that cannot succeed and where, furthermore, the implied goals of the Americans -- to bring prosperity, unity, good government, etc. so as to "weaken the hold of terrorists" -- make no sense if the larger aim is to weaken the Camp of Islam (in which case, sectarian and ethnic fissures should be widened, not deplored, and economic misery -- the result of Islam itself and its inshallah-fatalism and stunting of mental growth -- makes Muslims less powerful, and thus less capable of doing harm to the non-Muslims of this world), I wonder if the Pentagon, or the State Department, have given any thought to paying for translations, and then subventions to publishers, of certain works that at this stage in the world's history need to be disseminated.
Here are several possibilities:
1) The most complete work on the legal status of non-Muslims under the Shari'a is by Antoine Fattal, a Lebanese professor (Maronite, bien entendu) which you can buy from a publisher in Beirut. But it remains only in French. It ought at least to be translated into English. I know of someone, trained in the law and bilingual in French, who is ready, willing, and able to translate this book. Who will pay for that translation?
For that matter, Fattal's should be translated into a half-dozen languages, including Spanish, Russian, German, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Hindi, Bahasa (choose the main literary form) and -- if it does not already exist in that language -- Arabic.
2) ibn Warraq's "Why I Am Not A Muslim" has been translated into just a few languages. This is peculiar. Why has the government not paid for good, well-vetted translations, into Arabic, Urdu, Farsi, Bahasa, as well as into those European languages into which it has not yet been translated (e.g., Russian).
3) Why have Bat Ye'or's books -- "Islam and Dhimmitude" and "The Dhimmi" and "The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam" not been translated into more than a handful of European languages?
4) Why does such an important book as Jean Peroncel-Hugoz's "Le Radeau de Mahomet" languish, out of print, when it ought to be re-printed, given heavy publicity, and distributed not only in the original French, but in a half-dozen European languages?
No one is paying attention.
No one is thinking, in official Washington, or elsewhere apparently, in the foundations, in the think-tanks, despite all their money, about this.
I can provide them with a half dozen suggestions right off the bat.
I can even suggest, in many cases, the proper translators -- or help to find them.
Why is this not being done?
During the Cold War, the C.I.A. paid for certain Russian books, including novels by Nabokov, to be published by publication "houses" that existed for this sole purpose. I have some of those "Editiions de la Seine" books myself -- copies in Russian of "the Luzhin Defense" and "Invitation to a Beheading." Oh, what does that have to do with weakening resolve in the Soviet Union? Ask Russians who lived in Russia, who read what Soviet tourists brought back from Paris, London, Rome.
There is a war-without-end on. The Americans, behaving like Baby Huey of cartoon fame,, lumber along -- tramp tramp tramp in those boots on the ground, those Seven-League-Boots On The Damned Ground, and planes in the sky, and hundreds of billions spent, spent, spent, but apparently cannot be bothered to set up anything truly clever, and when they do start an Arabic-language radio station, they place it in the hands of those who, in the end, don't dare, don't want, to say a word against Islam, but turn out to be sly apologists for Islam.
This can't go on.
If the American government won't act, is there an intelligent foundation, or Maecenas or a possible group of Maecensases, who understand why this should take precedence over other objects of their largesse?
Obama's Cairo Outreach All-Gods-Chillun Bomfoggery Speech To Win Over Muslims, An Offense Against History And The Truth, Is For The NEH Head "One Of The Great Humanist Speeches Of Our Time"
Former Congressman Jim Leach was appointed by Obama to be head of the NEH (National Endowment for the Humanities).
An article in the latest issue of The New Critieriononthe NEH notes that "[w]hen Obama delivered his notorious "new beginning with Islam" speech in Cairo in January 2009, Mr. Leach pronounced it "one of the great humanist speeches of our time."
Here is what former Congressman Jim Leach, current head of the NEH, describes as "one of the great humanist speeches of our time":
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you very much. Good afternoon. I am honored to be in the timeless city of Cairo, and to be hosted by two remarkable institutions. For over a thousand years, Al-Azhar has stood as a beacon of Islamic learning; and for over a century, Cairo University has been a source of Egypt's advancement. And together, you represent the harmony between tradition and progress. I'm grateful for your hospitality, and the hospitality of the people of Egypt. And I'm also proud to carry with me the goodwill of the American people, and a greeting of peace from Muslim communities in my country: Assalaamu alaykum. (Applause.)
We meet at a time of great tension between the United States and Muslims around the world -- tension rooted in historical forces that go beyond any current policy debate. The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of coexistence and cooperation,[which "centuries of ....cooperation" and "cooperaton" about what, could Obama conceivably have in mind?] but also conflict and religious wars. More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations. Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam.[no, Jihad as a doctrine and a duty, incumbent on all Muslims, to remove all obstacles to the spread, and then the dominance, of Islam, never disappeared. But for a time,when the West seemed obviously stronger, it was not emphasized.
Three things changed this:
1) the OPEC trillions, that gave Arabs and Muslims the wherewithal to become much stronger, miliarily, by buying vast armaments and having weapons projects of their own. These trillions also allowed Muslims to pay for mosques and madrassas all over the world, to buy up small armies of Western hirelings, to pay for "academic centers" and individual chairs that would promote the teaching and "scholarship" that would favor Islamic states and Muslim causes, and would create pockets of power in all the major capitals, where those jouranlists, businessmen, political figures, wishing to curry favor with the rich Arab states, would make sure to deflect criticism of, for example, Saudi Arabia or other Arabs.
2) the admission of millions of Muslim immigrants, from many different Muslim lands, into the generous, tolerant, innocent countries of the advanced West, whose media and political elites were unaware of what Islam taught, and disbelieving that there might be a problem with Muslim immigrants that was quite different than that presented by other immigrant groups
3) the appropriatiion by Muslims of technologies developed by non-Muslims, and putting them to use to disseminate the message of Islam. Thus audiocassettes were used by Khomeini to spread his message in Iran under the Shah. Videocassettes, satellite television, Youtube have all been used by Muslims, those who are fanatical in their faith, and those who merely seem to be conducting what some may misunderstand as "innocuous" Da'wa.
Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims. The attacks of September 11, 2001 and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians has led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries, but also to human rights. All this has bred more fear and more mistrust.
So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, those who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. And this cycle of suspicion and discord must end.
I've come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world [how can there be a new beginning" if the texts of Islam, the tenets of Islam, remain immutable? How?] one based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles -- principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.
I do so recognizing that change cannot happen overnight. I know there's been a lot of publicity about this speech, but no single speech can eradicate years of mistrust, nor can I answer in the time that I have this afternoon all the complex questions that brought us to this point. But I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly to each other the things we hold in our hearts and that too often are said only behind closed doors. There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground. As the Holy Koran tells us, "Be conscious of God and speak always the truth." (Applause.) That is what I will try to do today -- to speak the truth as best I can, humbled by the task before us, and firm in my belief that the interests we share as human beings are far more powerful than the forces that drive us apart.
Now part of this conviction is rooted in my own experience. I'm a Christian, but my father came from a Kenyan family that includes generations of Muslims. As a boy, I spent several years in Indonesia and heard the call of the azaan at the break of dawn and at the fall of dusk. As a young man, I worked in Chicago communities where many found dignity and peace in their Muslim faith.
As a student of history, I also know civilization's debt to Islam. It was Islam -- at places like Al-Azhar -- that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe's Renaissance and Enlightenment. It was innovation in Muslim communities -- (applause) -- it was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra [Sanskrit mathematicians given short shrift] ; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation [see Charles Singer, George Sarton, Toby Huff, and other historians of science and technology and compare what they write with what Obama declares in attempting to become a Professor And Encourager of Muslim Self-Esteem] ; our mastery of pens and printing [what does he mean here? The appropriation by Middle Easterners of the Chinese invention of paper? As for the printing press, surely he knows that the Muslims resisted such means of reproduction for many centuries after it had been developed in the West; the first publishers in the Middle East were Jews in Safed; the first printed Qur'an was the Paganini Qur'an, published by Venetians in Venice]; our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed. Islamic culture has given us majestic arches and soaring spires; timeless poetry [go ahead, name one example of "timeless poetry" produced by Muslims, poetry that is not written in a distinctly un-Islamic spirit] and cherished music; elegant calligraphy and places of peaceful contemplation. And throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality. (Applause.)
I also know that Islam has always been a part of America's story. The first nation to recognize my country was Morocco[and the first nation upon which the United States felt it had to make war was Morocco]. . In signing the Treaty of Tripoli in 1796, our second President, John Adams, wrote, "The United States has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Muslims." And since our founding, American Muslims have enriched the United States. They have fought in our wars, they have served in our government, they have stood for civil rights, they have started businesses, they have taught at our universities, they've excelled in our sports arenas, they've won Nobel Prizes, built our tallest building, and lit the Olympic Torch. And when the first Muslim American was recently elected to Congress, he took the oath to defend our Constitution using the same Holy Koran that one of our Founding Fathers -- Thomas Jefferson -- kept in his personal library. [yes, and for the same reason I, and you, possess Qur'ans -- to find out what is in it. Every encounter Jefferson had with real Muslims lead him to dislike and distrust them, and he left a written record of this which apparently Obama has not read.] (Applause.)
So I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed. That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn't. And I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear. (Applause.)
But that same principle must apply to Muslim perceptions of America. (Applause.) Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire. The United States has been one of the greatest sources of progress that the world has ever known. We were born out of revolution against an empire. We were founded upon the ideal that all are created equal, and we have shed blood and struggled for centuries to give meaning to those words -- within our borders, and around the world. We are shaped by every culture, drawn from every end of the Earth, and dedicated to a simple concept: E pluribus unum -- "Out of many, one."
Now, much has been made of the fact that an African American with the name Barack Hussein Obama could be elected President. (Applause.) But my personal story is not so unique. The dream of opportunity for all people has not come true for everyone in America, but its promise exists for all who come to our shores -- and that includes nearly 7 million American Muslims in our country today who, by the way, enjoy incomes and educational levels that are higher than the American average. (Applause.)
Moreover, freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one's religion. That is why there is a mosque in every state in our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders. That's why the United States government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab and to punish those who would deny it. (Applause.)
So let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America. And I believe that America holds within her the truth that regardless of race, religion, or station in life, all of us share common aspirations -- to live in peace and security; to get an education and to work with dignity; to love our families, our communities, and our God. These things we share. This is the hope of all humanity.
Of course, recognizing our common humanity is only the beginning of our task. Words alone cannot meet the needs of our people. These needs will be met only if we act boldly in the years ahead; and if we understand that the challenges we face are shared, and our failure to meet them will hurt us all.
For we have learned from recent experience that when a financial system weakens in one country, prosperity is hurt everywhere. When a new flu infects one human being, all are at risk. When one nation pursues a nuclear weapon, the risk of nuclear attack rises for all nations. When violent extremists operate in one stretch of mountains, people are endangered across an ocean. When innocents in Bosnia and Darfur are slaughtered, that is a stain on our collective conscience. (Applause.) That is what it means to share this world in the 21st century. That is the responsibility we have to one another as human beings.
And this is a difficult responsibility to embrace. For human history has often been a record of nations and tribes -- and, yes, religions -- subjugating one another in pursuit of their own interests. Yet in this new age, such attitudes are self-defeating. Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. So whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners to it. Our problems must be dealt with through partnership; our progress must be shared. (Applause.)
Now, that does not mean we should ignore sources of tension. [what are the sources of tension": that explain what happes to Christians and Hindus -- there are no Jews left to torment and persecute -- in Muslim-dominated lands? We know. Does Obama?]]Indeed, it suggests the opposite: We must face these tensions squarely. And so in that spirit, let me speak as clearly and as plainly as I can about some specific issues that I believe we must finally confront together.
The first issue that we have to confront is violent extremism in all of its forms.
In Ankara, I made clear that America is not -- and never will be -- at war with Islam.(Applause.)
[This is Missing-the-Pointness. Islam is at war, has always been at war, with the world of non-Muslims. That war is mandated in Qur'an, Hadith, Sira. It need not be open warfare. It can even take the form of smiles and wiles, as long as Muslim goals are steadily achieved, and the Infidels steadily yield. But how can obama say that "America is not -- and never will be -- at war with Islam"? He can say that only if he is willing to remain ignorant of Islam, or if not ignorant of Islam, williing to lie about the texts and tenets for what he perceives to be some greater good, a monumental wilful ignoring of history (the entire history of Islam) and the truth because neither he, nor his advisors, such as John Brennan, have the intelligence, understanding, and imagination to figure out all the things that could be done to weaken, to divide and demoralize and diminish the power, of the Camp of Islam.]
We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security -- because we reject the same thing that people of all faiths reject: the killing of innocent men, women, and children. And it is my first duty as President to protect the American people.
The situation in Afghanistan demonstrates America's goals, and our need to work together. Over seven years ago, the United States pursued al Qaeda and the Taliban with broad international support. We did not go by choice; we went because of necessity. I'm aware that there's still some who would question or even justify the events of 9/11. But let us be clear: Al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people on that day. The victims were innocent men, women and children from America and many other nations who had done nothing to harm anybody. And yet al Qaeda chose to ruthlessly murder these people, claimed credit for the attack, and even now states their determination to kill on a massive scale. They have affiliates in many countries and are trying to expand their reach. These are not opinions to be debated; these are facts to be dealt with.
Now, make no mistake: We do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan. [but Obama will stay in Afghanistan because he hasn't the ability to figure out how to extricate himself by recognizing, and then explaining to others, what ought by now be recognized: that is, America should end its expensive venture in Afghanistan not because Islam is no threat, but because it is and we have more to gain by allowing Musliim states to crumble than in proppping them up, more to gain from ethnic and sectarian and economic strife within Muslim lands than from preventing such strife] . We see no military -- we seek no military bases there. It is agonizing for America to lose our young men and women. It is costly and politically difficult to continue this conflict. We would gladly bring every single one of our troops home if we could be confident that there were not violent extremists in Afghanistan and now Pakistan determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can. But that is not yet the case.
And that's why we're partnering with a coalition of 46 countries. And despite the costs involved, America's commitment will not weaken. Indeed, none of us should tolerate these extremists. They have killed in many countries. They have killed people of different faiths -- but more than any other, they have killed Muslims. Their actions are irreconcilable with the rights of human beings, the progress of nations, and with Islam. The Holy Koran teaches that whoever kills an innocent is as -- it is as if he has killed all mankind. (Applause.) And the Holy Koran also says whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind. (Applause.) The enduring faith of over a billion people is so much bigger than the narrow hatred of a few. Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism -- it is an important part of promoting peace.
Now, we also know that military power alone is not going to solve the problems in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That's why we plan to invest $1.5 billion each year over the next five years to partner with Pakistanis to build schools and hospitals, roads and businesses, and hundreds of millions to help those who've been displaced. That's why we are providing more than $2.8 billion to help Afghans develop their economy and deliver services that people depend on.
Let me also address the issue of Iraq. Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq was a war of choice that provoked strong differences in my country and around the world. Although I believe that the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, I also believe that events in Iraq have reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible. (Applause.) Indeed, we can recall the words of Thomas Jefferson, who said: "I hope that our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us that the less we use our power the greater it will be."
Today, America has a dual responsibility: to help Iraq forge a better future -- and to leave Iraq to Iraqis. And I have made it clear to the Iraqi people -- (applause) -- I have made it clear to the Iraqi people that we pursue no bases, and no claim on their territory or resources. Iraq's sovereignty is its own. And that's why I ordered the removal of our combat brigades by next August. That is why we will honor our agreement with Iraq's democratically elected government to remove combat troops from Iraqi cities by July, and to remove all of our troops from Iraq by 2012. (Applause.) We will help Iraq train its security forces and develop its economy. But we will support a secure and united Iraq as a partner, and never as a patron.
And finally, just as America can never tolerate violence by extremists, we must never alter or forget our principles. Nine-eleven was an enormous trauma to our country. The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our traditions and our ideals. We are taking concrete actions to change course. I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States, and I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year. (Applause.)
So America will defend itself, respectful of the sovereignty of nations and the rule of law. And we will do so in partnership with Muslim communities which are also threatened. The sooner the extremists are isolated and unwelcome in Muslim communities, the sooner we will all be safer.
The second major source of tension that we need to discuss is the situation between Israelis, Palestinians and the Arab world.
America's strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.
Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust. Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich. Six million Jews were killed -- more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, it is ignorant, and it is hateful. Threatening Israel with destruction -- or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews -- is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.
On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people -- Muslims and Christians -- have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than 60 years they've endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations -- large and small -- that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: The situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. And America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own. (Applause.)
For decades then, there has been a stalemate: two peoples [google "Zuheir Mohsen" for more -- and try to find a single use of the phrase "Palestinian people" applied to the local Arabs before the Six-Day War] with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive. It's easy to point fingers -- for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought about by Israel's founding, and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history from within its borders as well as beyond. But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth: The only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security. (Applause.)
That is in Israel's interest, Palestine's interest, America's interest, and the world's interest. And that is why I intend to personally pursue this outcome with all the patience and dedication that the task requires. (Applause.) The obligations -- the obligations that the parties have agreed to under the road map are clear. For peace to come, it is time for them -- and all of us -- to live up to our responsibilities.
Palestinians must abandon violence. [See Qur'an, Hadith, Sira, passim] Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and it does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America's founding. This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia. It's a story with a simple truth: that violence is a dead end. It is a sign neither of courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That's not how moral authority is claimed; that's how it is surrendered.
Now is the time for Palestinians to focus on what they can build. The Palestinian Authority must develop its capacity to govern, with institutions that serve the needs of its people. Hamas does have support among some Palestinians, but they also have to recognize they have responsibilities. To play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, recognize Israel's right to exist.[what Obama calls "Palestinian aspirations" are not to build a state but to destroy Israel; state-building is not important, except insofar as it may be used as a way to obtain still more concessions from Israel, through more pressure from the Americans on Israel to not stand in the way of the "two-state solution" that is not a solution but a way to promote the war against Israel without requiring open warfare, though such a "solution" makes more likely, at a later date, such open confrontation for the Arabs are far more likely to think Israel will then be in a state vulnerable enough to attack].
At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel's right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine's. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. (Applause.) [the Jewish villages that Obama like almost everyone so tendentiously calls "settlements" are on land that was assigned to the Jewish National Home by the Mandates Commission of the League of Nations. It made sense then, it does not make less but even more sense today, now that the forces of Islam are far more powerful and dangerous]. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop. (Applause.)
And Israel must also live up to its obligation to ensure that Palestinians can live and work and develop their society. [what obligation? since when? What country or people owes any obligation at all to those who would destroy that country and that people? There is no obligation, none] Just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel's security; neither does the continuing lack of opportunity in the West Bank. Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be a critical part of a road to peace, and Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress.
And finally, the Arab states must recognize that the Arab Peace Initiative was an important beginning, but not the end of their responsibilities. The Arab-Israeli conflict should no longer be used to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems. Instead, it must be a cause for action to help the Palestinian people develop the institutions that will sustain their state, to recognize Israel's legitimacy, and to choose progress over a self-defeating focus on the past.
America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, and we will say in public what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs. (Applause.) We cannot impose peace. But privately, many Muslims recognize that Israel will not go away. Likewise, many Israelis recognize the need for a Palestinian state. It is time for us to act on what everyone knows to be true.
[what "everyone" should now to be true is that the texts and tenets of Islam inculcate permanent hostility to, opposition to, the existence of Israel as an Infidel nation-state on land once possessed by Muslims. This is an intolerable situation for Muslims; it can never be accepted. It may begrudgingly be lived with, if Israel proves to be too strong to remove -- but the only thing guaranteeing Israel's survival is the belief, among Arabs and Muslims, that it is and remains militarily overwhelmingly more powerful, and can wreak much more destruction on its enemies than it will receive. And for that to remain true, Israel cannot surrender any more of its rights, or of the land it possesses that it won by force of arms (as with the entire Sinai) or that it came into possession by force of arms, but with a title from the original Mandate for Palestine, as with those parts of Judea and Samaria that the Arabs have tricked the world into calling "the West Bank"].
Too many tears have been shed. Too much blood has been shed. All of us have a responsibility to work for the day when the mothers of Israelis and Palestinians can see their children grow up without fear; when the Holy Land of the three great faiths is the place of peace that God intended it to be; when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra -- (applause) -- as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed, peace be upon them, joined in prayer. (Applause.)
The third source of tension is our shared interest in the rights and responsibilities of nations on nuclear weapons.
This issue has been a source of tension between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran. For many years, Iran has defined itself in part by its opposition to my country, and there is in fact a tumultuous history between us. In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government. Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has played a role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians. This history is well known. Rather than remain trapped in the past, I've made it clear to Iran's leaders and people that my country is prepared to move forward. The question now is not what Iran is against, but rather what future it wants to build.
I recognize it will be hard to overcome decades of mistrust, [it's not "decades of mistrust" but 1350 years of Islam, that explain what has happened in, and happens still, in the Middle East, to Muslims and non-Muslims alike]but we will proceed with courage, rectitude, and resolve. There will be many issues to discuss between our two countries, and we are willing to move forward without preconditions on the basis of mutual respect. But it is clear to all concerned that when it comes to nuclear weapons, we have reached a decisive point. This is not simply about America's interests. It's about preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that could lead this region and the world down a hugely dangerous path.
I understand those who protest that some countries have weapons that others do not. No single nation should pick and choose which nation holds nuclear weapons. And that's why I strongly reaffirmed America's commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons. (Applause.) And any nation -- including Iran -- should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That commitment is at the core of the treaty, and it must be kept for all who fully abide by it. And I'm hopeful that all countries in the region can share in this goal.
The fourth issue that I will address is democracy. (Applause.)
I know -- I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years, and much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq. So let me be clear: No system of government can or should be imposed by one nation by any other.
That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people. Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people. America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election. But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn't steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. These are not just American ideas; they are human rights. And that is why we will support them everywhere. (Applause.)
Now, there is no straight line to realize this promise. But this much is clear: Governments that protect these rights are ultimately more stable, successful and secure. Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them. And we will welcome all elected, peaceful governments -- provided they govern with respect for all their people.
This last point is important because there are some who advocate for democracy only when they're out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others. (Applause.) So no matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who would hold power: You must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Barack Obama, we love you!
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you. (Applause.) The fifth issue that we must address together is religious freedom.
Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance. We see it in the history of Andalusia and Cordoba during the Inquisition. [what in god's name does he mean by this? Has he read Maimonides' "Epistle to the Yemen"? No? Why not? Just a little Maria Rosa Menocal -- is that it? ]I saw it firsthand as a child in Indonesia, where devout Christians worshiped freely in an overwhelmingly Muslim country.[a child under the age of 10, attending a single school, one of the most advanced in Indonesia, located in the most advanced city in Indonesia, Jakarta, while living in the tony quarter where diplomats lived, at a time when Indonesia was far more easygoing than it is today about non-Muslims -- is not someone to rely on, if you are President of the United States, even if that someone happens to be yourself, from the ages of six to nine] That is the spirit we need today. People in every country should be free to choose and live their faith based upon the persuasion of the mind and the heart and the soul. This tolerance is essential for religion to thrive, but it's being challenged in many different ways.
Among some Muslims, there's a disturbing tendency to measure one's own faith by the rejection of somebody else's faith. The richness of religious diversity must be upheld -- whether it is for Maronites in Lebanon or the Copts in Egypt. (Applause.) And if we are being honest, fault lines must be closed among Muslims, as well, as the divisions between Sunni and Shia have led to tragic violence, particularly in Iraq.
Freedom of religion is central to the ability of peoples to live together. We must always examine the ways in which we protect it. For instance, in the United States, rules on charitable giving have made it harder for Muslims to fulfill their religious obligation. That's why I'm committed to working with American Muslims to ensure that they can fulfill zakat. [unlike non-Muslims, Muslims make charitable contributions --- zakat -- that are required by the Shari'a, and that, furthermore, go only to other Muslims. Charity for non-Muslims is not encouraged, is not even allowed unless it somehow furthers the Cause of Islam].
Likewise, it is important for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practicing religion as they see fit -- for instance, by dictating what clothes a Muslim woman should wear. [Obama has not read Wafa Sultan, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, or Nonie Darwish on the pressures that force Muslim women to dress as men demand] We can't disguise hostility towards any religion behind the pretence of liberalism.
In fact, faith should bring us together. And that's why we're forging service projects in America to bring together Christians, Muslims, and Jews. That's why we welcome efforts like Saudi Arabian King Abdullah's interfaith dialogue and Turkey's leadership in the Alliance of Civilizations. [but these are propagandistic exercises, not real "dialogue" nor a good faith attempt an any kind of "alliance of civilizations"]Around the world, we can turn dialogue into interfaith service, so bridges between peoples lead to action -- whether it is combating malaria in Africa, or providing relief after a natural disaster.
The sixth issue -- the sixth issue that I want to address is women's rights. (Applause.) I know -- I know -- and you can tell from this audience, that there is a healthy debate about this issue. I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal, but I do believe that a woman who is denied an education is denied equality. (Applause.) And it is no coincidence that countries where women are well educated are far more likely to be prosperous.
Now, let me be clear: Issues of women's equality are by no means simply an issue for Islam. In Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, we've seen Muslim-majority countries elect a woman to lead. Meanwhile, the struggle for women's equality continues in many aspects of American life, and in countries around the world.
I am convinced that our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons. (Applause.) Our common prosperity will be advanced by allowing all humanity -- men and women -- to reach their full potential. I do not believe that women must make the same choices as men in order to be equal, and I respect those women who choose to live their lives in traditional roles. But it should be their choice. And that is why the United States will partner with any Muslim-majority country to support expanded literacy for girls, and to help young women pursue employment through micro-financing that helps people live their dreams. (Applause.)
Finally, I want to discuss economic development and opportunity.[The Muslim members of OPEC have taken in more than fourteen trillion dollars since 1973 alone. The Muslim populations in Western Europe are the recipients of vast amounts of aid, too, including free education and medical care, and free or subsidized housing, and in turn, cost the Infidel taxpayers a great deal in unemployment benefits, family support, and the cost of monitoring them as well as the much higher costs, including the costs of incarcerartion, for those whose criminal activity is many times higher than that of non-Muslim indigenes and non-Muslim immigrants]
I know that for many, the face of globalization is contradictory. The Internet and television can bring knowledge and information, but also offensive sexuality and mindless violence into the home. Trade can bring new wealth and opportunities, but also huge disruptions and change in communities. In all nations -- including America -- this change can bring fear. Fear that because of modernity we lose control over our economic choices, our politics, and most importantly our identities -- those things we most cherish about our communities, our families, our traditions, and our faith.
But I also know that human progress cannot be denied. There need not be contradictions between development and tradition. Countries like Japan and South Korea grew their economies enormously while maintaining distinct cultures. The same is true for the astonishing progress within Muslim-majority countries from Kuala Lumpur to Dubai. In ancient times and in our times, Muslim communities have been at the forefront of innovation and education.
And this is important because no development strategy can be based only upon what comes out of the ground, nor can it be sustained while young people are out of work. Many Gulf states have enjoyed great wealth as a consequence of oil, and some are beginning to focus it on broader development. But all of us must recognize that education and innovation will be the currency of the 21st century -- (applause) -- and in too many Muslim communities, there remains underinvestment in these areas. I'm emphasizing such investment within my own country. And while America in the past has focused on oil and gas when it comes to this part of the world, we now seek a broader engagement.
On education, we will expand exchange programs, and increase scholarships, like the one that brought my father to America. (Applause.) At the same time, we will encourage more Americans to study in Muslim communities. And we will match promising Muslim students with internships in America; invest in online learning for teachers and children around the world; and create a new online network, so a young person in Kansas can communicate instantly with a young person in Cairo.
On economic development, we will create a new corps of business volunteers to partner with counterparts in Muslim-majority countries. And I will host a Summit on Entrepreneurship this year to identify how we can deepen ties between business leaders, foundations and social entrepreneurs in the United States and Muslim communities around the world.
On science and technology, we will launch a new fund to support technological development in Muslim-majority countries, [it should, rather, be the goal of all Infidels to prevent the spread of technological knowledge and development in Muslim-majority countries, given what, inevitably, such scientific training will be used, in large part, for]and to help transfer ideas to the marketplace so they can create more jobs. We'll open centers of scientific excellence in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, and appoint new science envoys to collaborate on programs that develop new sources of energy, create green jobs, digitize records, clean water, grow new crops. Today I'm announcing a new global effort with the Organization of the Islamic Conference to eradicate polio. And we will also expand partnerships with Muslim communities to promote child and maternal health.
All these things must be done in partnership. Americans are ready to join with citizens and governments; community organizations, religious leaders, and businesses in Muslim communities around the world to help our people pursue a better life.
The issues that I have described will not be easy to address. But we have a responsibility to join together on behalf of the world that we seek -- a world where extremists no longer threaten our people, and American troops have come home; a world where Israelis and Palestinians are each secure in a state of their own, and nuclear energy is used for peaceful purposes; a world where governments serve their citizens, and the rights of all God's children are respected. Those are mutual interests. That is the world we seek. But we can only achieve it together.
I know there are many -- Muslim and non-Muslim -- who question whether we can forge this new beginning. Some are eager to stoke the flames of division, and to stand in the way of progress. Some suggest that it isn't worth the effort -- that we are fated to disagree, and civilizations are doomed to clash. Many more are simply skeptical that real change can occur. There's so much fear, so much mistrust that has built up over the years. But if we choose to be bound by the past, we will never move forward. And I want to particularly say this to young people of every faith, in every country -- you, more than anyone, have the ability to reimagine the world, to remake this world.
All of us share this world for but a brief moment in time. The question is whether we spend that time focused on what pushes us apart, [central to Islam is the division between Muslim and Infidel] or whether we commit ourselves to an effort -- a sustained effort -- to find common ground, to focus on the future we seek for our children, and to respect the dignity of all human beings.
It's easier to start wars than to end them. It's easier to blame others than to look inward. It's easier to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share. But we should choose the right path, not just the easy path. There's one rule that lies at the heart of every religion -- that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. (Applause.) This truth transcends nations and peoples -- a belief that isn't new; that isn't black or white or brown; that isn't Christian or Muslim or Jew. It's a belief that pulsed in the cradle of civilization, and that still beats in the hearts of billions around the world. It's a faith in other people, and it's what brought me here today.
We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning, keeping in mind what has been written.
The Holy Koran tells us: "O mankind! We have created you male and a female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another." [NOTE how different this verse is from the two that follow, from the Talmud and the New Testament, both about "peace"]
The Talmud tells us: "The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace."
The Holy Bible tells us: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." (Applause.)
The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God's vision. Now that must be our work here on Earth.
Thank you. And may God's peace be upon you. Thank you very much. Thank you
Shakespeare's Words, Or, Glad We Got That Straight
Here's one phrase whose appearance in Shakespeare undoubtedly unsettles a modern reader, and would continue to offend unless that reader had available the redemptive explanatory gloss that is provided by the authors of "Shakespeare's Words, A Glossary and Language Companion" by David and Ben Crystal -- a book I received yesterday and have been riffling through:
Love's Labors Lost, V.i.98 [Armado to Holofernes, of the King]:
with his royal finger dally with my excrement
It turns out that "excrement" meant, in Shakespeare's usage and day, "outgrowth [of hair]."
This word, famously made up by Shakespeare as a mock-Latin example of an inkhorn term, is uttered by Costard in Love's Labors Lost, V.i. , that is in the same scene of the same act of the same play where the Shakespearean words glossed by the Crystals was here. Professor Harry Levin wrote about that word in an essay on Love's Labors Lost, nd what's more, he taught his three-year-old grandson to memorize the word and to repeat it for visitors. I was one of those visitors, and I remember that three-year-old's distinctly-uttered "honorificabilitudinitatibus." The word means "the state of being able to receive honors." And I remember., too, Harry Levin, who, for many reasons, including this one not known to the great world, certainly was.
Robbins makes one or two questionable assertions, such as "Some Jews mistake criticism of Israel for antisemitism." (Whenever people say this, I wish they would provide specific examples of what they mean.)
But there are some powerful and spot-on interview segments, including this from Howard Jacobson, describing the response by some of Israel's opponents to the Gaza war:
"There is such a thing as intellectual violence. And intellectual violence was in the air. And it made me, and many other Jews that I know, and many gentiles too, ill to hear it- to hear it pounding out of the newspapers all the time. It was not simply news. It was that word that always tells you that something other than the event itself is being described. Everything was always a 'massacre.' Everything was always a 'slaughter.' There was never a fight. There was no understanding of what the provocation might have been. Any provocation was minimized. How many so-called massacres turned out not to be massacres, and have gone un-apologized for? You call it a massacre on Tuesday, it turns out not to be a massacre on Friday and it's forgotten about the following week. Except that word 'massacre' still dins in the head."
And this from Anthony Julius:
"Given that the principle of the Jewish state would be defended to the death by most if not all Jewish Israelis, to call for the dismantling of the Jewish state is to encompass the possibility of the wholesale death of its Jewish population. And if one can contemplate that with equanimity, one's cold-heartedness puts one in the company of antisemites even if it doesn't qualify one as an antisemite."
This is a good programme - unfortunately non-UK residents will not be able to get it on i-Player, but I will see if I can find it elsewhere. It makes the point that today's anti-Semites are not jackbooted Nazis but Muslims. Of course it then feels obliged to qualify this with "a minority of...", which is true but not the whole truth. And it makes no reference to the role of the execrable Jeremy Bowen and Orla Guerin in fuelling Jew-hatred with their lies about Israel.
Still, it's a good programme, and I look forward to Part 2.
Wilders Speech and Videos in Tel Aviv: "Jordan is Palestine"
Dutch MP Geert Wilders at Hatikvah Conference
Tel Aviv 12-5-10
Dutch MP Geert Wilders gave a masterful speech in Tel Aviv today at the Hatikvah conference (Hatikvah means 'the Hope' in Hebrew - Israel's national anthem) on the occasion of this fifth evening of Hanukkah. Hannukah, meaning "dedication" in Hebrew is a holiday commemorating the ancient Jewish resistance and salvation of its culture and religion under the leadership of the founder of the Hasmonean dynasty, a rural priest from Modiin, Mattisyahu and his five warrior sons, the legendary Maccabees. The Maccabees conducted a relentless guerrila war against the Helenist Syrian Greeks under the Seleucid Greek King Antiochus, eventually rededicating the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
Wilders was featured speaker at a conference convened by M.K. Arieh Eldad, of the National Union party in Israel's Knesset. Wilders speech was a coda to Eldad's thesis that some in Israel, many in the EU and the Obama Administration view as an extreme solution to the Arab -Israeli impasse of over six decades regarding the Palestinians. The thesis that Wilders propounds as the solution, quoting the late King Hussein of Jordan, is "Jordan is Palestine and Palestine is Jordan".
Wilders believes that only voluntary transfer of Palestinians to Jordan from Samaria and Judea, the ancient homeland of the Jewish people, will break the 60 year impasse over the Palestinian Refugee Problem and the unending failure of the West and America to achieve a two state solution with the divided Fatah leadership in the rump canton of the West Bank and the annihilationist Hamas leadership in Gaza.
To the skeptics, I say: What is the alternative? Leaving the present situation as it is? No, my friends, the world must recognize that there has been an independent Palestinian state since 1946, and it is the Kingdom of Jordan.
Allowing all Palestinians to voluntarily settle in Jordan is a better way towards peace than the current so-called two-states-approach (in reality a three-states-approach) propagated by the United Nations, the U.S. administration, and governing elites all over the world. We only want a democratic non-violent solution for the Palestinian problem. This requires that the Palestinian people should be given the right to voluntarily settle in Jordan and freely elect their own government in Amman. If the present Hashemite King is still as popular as today, he can remain in power. That is for the people of Palestine to decide in real democratic elections.
My friends, let us adopt a totally new approach. Let us acknowledge that Jordan is Palestine.
And to the Western world I say: Let us stand with Israel because the Jews have no other state, while the Palestinians already have Jordan. Let us stand with Israel because the history of our civilization began here, in this land, the homeland of the Jews. Let us stand with Israel because the Jewish state needs defendable borders to secure its own survival. Let us stand with Israel because it is the frontline in the battle for the survival of the West.
Watch these videos of Wilders' Hatikvah speech.
Wilders notes the historical precedent for this given the division of the original Jewish homeland , mandated by the League of Nations at the San Remo Conference in 1920, to establish the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan by Sir Winston Churchill in 1922, as a gift to Hussein's grandfather, King Abdullah. Abdullah who originally accepted the Jewish State following the Balfour Declaration only to join his Arab Legion with four Arab Armies to try and extinguish the nascent Jewish state by seizing Judea, Samaria and the Old city of Jerusalem during the 1949-1949 War for Independence. Abdullah was assassinated by a Palestinian extremist in 1951 during a visit to the Al Aqsa Mosque with his grandson, Hussein. Abdullah was murdered because of alleged secret negotiations with the late Golda Mier about a possible peace treaty that was finally realized between Jordan and Israel in 1994.
In our NER interview with MK. Eldad in Novembr 2008, he laid out the elements of the "voluntary transfer" plan:
Humanitarian resettlement of Arab refugees is neither original to me nor is it new. Arab refugees are not under the responsibility of the United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees, but instead are controlled by a special agency designated only for Palestinians. - The UN Refugee Works Relief Administration or UNWRA. 50-70 million refugees have been resettled since the end of World War II. More than four million Palestinians are the only ones still in these UNWRA refugee camps. Because the UNWRA camps are virtually administered by Palestinians, these UNWRA refugees, now in the third generation in 60 years, have been taught incitement to hate against Israel and Jews, all thanks to funding of nearly a half billion dollar annually donated by tax payers in the West. How bad are these UNWRA Camps? An average refugee family in the camp at Balata, near Nablus, has an annual income of $700 and lives in appalling conditions. I am convinced that these people must be resettled, preferably in Jordan. Jordan is effectively, Palestine. 70% of the Jordanian population are Palestinians. This is the de facto fulfillment of "the two state solution." If a large scale international program was created to bring water, energy, housing and jobs to a designated area in Jordan a willing transfer could happen. Within a few years we would be able to resettle 2-3 million refugees in Jordan.
Wilders pragmatically recognizes the daunting prospects this solution to the Gordian knot of the Israeli-Palestinian problem:
In 1988, as the first Intifada raged, Jordan officially renounced any claim of sovereignty to the so-called West Bank. In recent years, the Jordanian authorities have stripped thousands of Palestinians of their Jordanian citizenship. They do so for two reasons.
First, because the alien Hashemite rulers fear that the Palestinians might one day take over their own country. And second, because stripping Palestinians of their Jordanian citizenship supports the falsehood that Jordan is not a part of Palestine. And that, consequently, the Palestinians must attack Israel if they want a place of their own.
By arbitrarily reducing thousands of their citizens to statelessness, the Jordanian authorities want to force the Palestinians to turn their aspirations towards the establishment of another Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria. This decision is a great injustice committed by the Hashemite rulers of Jordan - this foreign clan which the British installed.
I am not naïve. I am not blind to the possibility that if Jordan were to be ruled by the Palestinians, this might lead to political radicalization in Jordan. However, a continuation of the present situation will most certainly lead to radicalization.
In Benny Morris's history of the Israeli War for Independence, 1948: A History of the First Arab Israeli War, , he noted the Ben Gurion cabinet debate that an opportunity was lost in the waning days of the existential conflict to reclaim Judea and Samaria from Abdullah 's Legionnaires and their British commander, John Glubb Pasha. That possible operation might have averted the establishment of a rump Palestinian state, but for fear of antagonizing the British and despite evidence that the Jordanian force had for all intents and purposes, "quit the conflict". Morris noted on pp. 350-351 of 1948 the quandary that faced Ben Gurion and his cabinet:
David Ben Gurion was still powerfully drawn to Judea and Samaria by historic-ideological and strategic considerations but international diplomatic considerations dictated caution and restraint. Besides, the Jordanians had made it abundantly clear that they were out of the fight, and the Israelis still feared British military intervention should hostilities with Jordan be renewed. Zvi Ayalon, the central front OC, assured ben Gurion that it would take only "5 days" to conquer the West Bank or large parts of it. But Israel's representatives at the General assembly meeting in Paris, Abba Eban and Rueven Shiloah weighed in firmly against it.
During the cabinet debate in December, 1948 about the scope of operations in the final phase of the conflict, Operation Horev, Peretz Bernstein Minister of trade and Industry, dithered about support for the offensive in the South that ultimately sealed the fate of the surrounded Egyptian Army in the Fallujah gap as to whether peace with Egypt was achievable. Morris notes on p. 355 what Bernstein articulated about the matter of the West Bank:
As to the West Bank, merely nibbling at its fringes would not improve Israel's strategic situation, he argued. But he fell short of recommending the complete conquest of the West Bank. He adamantly opposed the establishment of a Palestinian Arab West Bank state.
Thus, the Ben Gurion cabinet had to opt for pragmatic realities given the heavy burden of mobilization and the perceptions that the British would intervene on behalf of Jordan in any Israeli operation to take back the West Bank and the old City of Jerusalem. It was left to the stunning victory 19 years later in the June 1967 Six Days of War to reclaim the disputed territories of Samaria, Judea and unify Jerusalem as Israel's capitol. The daunting and costly Yom Kippur War of 1973 resulted in another surrounded Egyptian Army, this time, across the Suez Canal less than 91 miles from Cairo. That costly effort by Israel ,with support from President Nixon, lead to the cold peace and abandonment of the captured Sinai territory with the Treaty of 1992 with Mubarak's Egypt . That treaty followed the assassination of Mubarak's predecessor, strongman Anwar Sada t by Muslim extremists of Egyptian Islamic Jihad in 1981.
Given the over arching concerns about the Iranian annihilationist threat to Israel's existence, now may not be the time to seriously consider what both Israeli M.K. Eldad and Dutch MP Wilders propose the "voluntary transfer of West Bank Arab residents" to Jordan. Nonetheless with the peace process flagging and in tatters coupled with a weak US President Obama, "voluntary transfer" may be a solution that could become an eventual reality and solution to the Arab-Israel impasse.