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The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
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The Impact of Islam
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edited by S.B. Kelly
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Emmet Scott
Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy
Ibn Warraq
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The Left is Seldom Right
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Allah is Dead: Why Islam is Not a Religion
by Rebecca Bynum
Virgins? What Virgins?: And Other Essays
by Ibn Warraq
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by Norman Berdichevsky
The New Vichy Syndrome:
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Jihad and Genocide
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Spanish Vignettes: An Offbeat Look Into Spain's Culture, Society & History
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These are all the Blogs posted on Monday, 6, 2012.
Monday, 6 February 2012
MP's report “Roots of Radicalisation� - Radical Muslims 'target young inmates in prison’

Prison da'wa is well known, in the UK and the US, almosr certainly elsewhere. The question is, what to do about it. 
From The Telegraph.

Despite being sent to maximum security jails, extremists are preaching hate to new inmates, breeding a fresh generation of radicals willing to launch terror attacks. A nine-month inquiry by the home affairs select committee into the roots of violent radicalisation found that, in some cases, inmates were being persuaded to carry out suicide missions within days of entering prison.

Today’s report, “Roots of Radicalisation”, identified prisons as one of the major breeding grounds for terrorism-related extremism. It also recognised the dangers posed by the internet and the role played by universities, where it was claimed radical preachers were often invited to speak without being “robustly challenged”.

In compiling their report, MPs visited the maximum security Belmarsh Prison in south-east London, which detains some of the most dangerous extremists in the country and where 20 per cent of inmates are Muslim.

They said staff at Belmarsh, which currently houses more than 30 terrorist prisoners, believed extremist views were “widely disseminated” among Muslim inmates. The report found that while staff kept a record of who associated with terrorist prisoners, they intervened only if an individual presented “challenging behaviour”.

One inmate sent to Belmarsh on remand was persuaded to undertake a martyrdom mission within 72 hours of arriving. The unnamed individual was housed three cells away from the radical Jamaican-born preacher Abdullah al-Faisal who convinced him to become a suicide bomber within three days. The report stated: “He left prison [and] went straight to Yemen desperately looking for jihad, desperately seeking a training camp. . . "

Some 20 per cent of the inmates in Belmarsh are Muslim, compared with 12 per cent across the prison population.

Michael Spurr, of the National Offender Management Service, told the committee they had “some evidence of individual prisoners who may have attempted to say things or have indicated views that could attract people to a radical cause” but no evidence it was on the increase. However, Phil Wragg, the governor of Belmarsh, warned MPs that more needed to be done to share information about prisoners once they had been released.

The report stated: “Good aftercare [would ensure] prisoners who may have been vulnerable to violent extremist ideology in prison can make the transition safely into the community.”

* * * *

It was known during the 19th century that prisons were the Universities of Crime which is why the penitentiary system was tried. Prisoners were kept in single cells in solitude for two reasons, first to give them time to reflect on their crimes and repent (hence penitence) and secondly to prevent them being encouraged to continue in crime by their peers. Prisoners did not associate with each other; they only came together in chapel where they worshipped in separate booths.

The largest prison where this was tried was at Millbank on the banks of the River Thames. This establishment was hampered by size, being probably too vast, the marshy terrain affected the design and that design proved inadequate. It was later used as a holding station for prisoners being transported to Australia where they could depart straight onto the ships. The system was used on a smaller scale in Lincoln Prison where visitors to Lincoln castle can still see some of the cells and the chapel.

The system of seclusion (even down to the facecovering worn when a prisoner had to be moved within the prison) is very similar to the regime mandated for Muslim women. Their movements are restricted to the home. They are only allowed to leave it with permission of, and accompanied by their mahram (son, father, husband or brother). They are only allowed to associate with a very small group of family members, ie the other women and those males (brother, father, son) who they could not marry. Which, as they can and frequently do marry their cousins and brothers-in-law excludes most of what we outside Islam regard as 'family', never mind friends and neighbours.   They even call the burka 'portable seclusion'.

Therefore such a system of seclusion is familiar to the Muslim psyche. if their women can live so, then, surely, so can the men. What caused the poor mental health of the 19th century criminals (one of the reasons Millbank changed service) was probably the smallness of the cells, many of which lacked natural daylight. A modern high security prison would consist of compact cells spacious enough to contain toilet facilities and enable the prisoner to be kept busy with useful work. Satan makes work for idle hands. Knitting and sewing don't need much space although care would have to be taken to count and remove the needles each evening.

The 19th century prisoners only had a Bible in their cell. Muslim prisoners would not need even that - they learn to recite the koran by heart so have what they need/want already in their heads. Keep them away from non Muslim prisoners, keep them busy, keep them away from each other.

If they can't do the time, don't do the crime. 

Posted on 02/06/2012 1:51 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 6 February 2012
Diamond Jubilee

On the 60th anniversary of her ascension to the throne Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has re-dedicated herself to our service. This is her Diamond Jubilee message .

 Composer Ronald Binge wrote this piece in 1951 and later re-named it Elizabethan Serenade to reflect the optimism of the new Elizabethan age. It was originally orchestral but this is an arrangement for organ played by the organist of Neath Presbyterian Church, Glamorganshire.

This song isn't Handel or Elizabethan Serenade but the children are lovely, and from a lovely part of the country. 60 years on we have lost the optimism but these lovely children are reason to keep b*ggering on and never lose faith. 

God save the Queen.

Posted on 02/06/2012 5:22 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 6 February 2012
Stop nouning those verbs

If you're going to noun verbs (or verb nouns) there should be a takeaway. It should make your prose more impactful. In an otherwise competent review of the political thriller Borgen, The Guardian's Vicky Frost is trending silly:

Borgen has painted a skilful portrait of a woman whose political ambition arguably became more important than everything else: her marriage, her family, the friend who had supported her through everything, her ethics around press freedom. Even her face seemed to become harder as she became ever tougher. I found the final two hours in many ways a very difficult watch ...

That's a watch that winds you up rather than vice versa.

It did, however, feel something of a shame that after the reveal about Kasper's childhood last week, that the whole area of discussion was effectively shut down again ...

"The reveal about ...."? Stop it, please. Is that such a big ask?

Posted on 02/06/2012 6:24 AM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 6 February 2012
Cliché corner

In her Spectator review of Simon Callow's new book on Dickens, Judith Flanders writes: "a Niagara of clichés pours over these pages". Perhaps an editor needs to pore over the pages and root them out.

Still, a "Niagara" makes a change from the usual Tsunami. The Tsunami -- of paperwork, issues, money, protests -- is pouring all over the rocks and hard places of our lives. It started as a trickle, then became a flood, bringing multiple issues in its wake.

Posted on 02/06/2012 7:09 AM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 6 February 2012
A thought for anti-monarchists to chew on

Michael Deacon in The Telegraph:

Not everyone will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Queen's accession to the throne. There are still those who would prefer Britain to have an elected head of state. Let's imagine for a moment that the anti-monarchists got their way, the Queen were stripped of her crown, and we were asked to pick a president.

What sort of person would we want to vote for, if we were completely free to choose?

First of all, we'd want someone who is popular not only at home but abroad.

We'd want someone who could be relied on to act with grace, dignity, elegance and tact.

We'd want someone who would rise above the childish, bickering scramble of politics.

We'd want someone who would perform their duties untiringly and uncomplainingly.

And we'd want someone who could be guaranteed never to bring the nation into disrepute.

It's hard to think of candidates who would fulfil all those criteria. But one does spring to mind.

This is where anti-monarchism hits a snag. Because if the people of Britain were free to vote for anyone to be their head of state, the candidate they'd choose would surely be… the Queen.

Indeed. But it wouldn't be Prince Charles. Can't we have a pretender or two - age no barrier - like in the old days?

Posted on 02/06/2012 7:35 AM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 6 February 2012
Penny for your thoughts?

As I've said before, are some real bargains on Kindle, putting normal books to shame.  The paperback edition of "How Proust Can Change Your Life" by Alain de Botton will set you back a wapping £6.39. But on Kindle you can get all seven volumes of À la recherche du temps perdu (in English) for the non-life-changing price of £2.58. What's more, de Botton's words are a tenth of ten a penny: his book is about 58,000 words (215 pages, 10 words per line and 27 lines per page), cost per word 0.01 pence. But Proust's are as cheap as chips: £2.58 divided by1.5 million words is 0.000172 pence per word. That's actually cheaper than chips. It may be more in French, but let's not quibble.

Posted on 02/06/2012 8:03 AM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 6 February 2012
Colonel Daniel L. Davis: A Daniel Come To Judgment

From The New York Times:

Feb. 5, 2012

In Afghan War, Officer Becomes a Whistle-Blower

WASHINGTON — On his second yearlong deployment to Afghanistan, Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis traveled 9,000 miles, patrolled with American troops in eight provinces and returned in October of last year with a fervent conviction that the war was going disastrously and that senior military leaders had not leveled with the American public.

Since enlisting in the Army in 1985, he said, he had repeatedly seen top commanders falsely dress up a dismal situation. But this time, he would not let it rest. So he consulted with his pastor at McLean Bible Church in Virginia, where he sings in the choir. He watched his favorite movie, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” one more time, drawing inspiration from Jimmy Stewart’s role as the extraordinary ordinary man who takes on a corrupt establishment.

And then, late last month, Colonel Davis, 48, began an unusual one-man campaign of military truth-telling. He wrote two reports, one unclassified and the other classified, summarizing his observations on the candor gap with respect to Afghanistan. He briefed four members of Congress and a dozen staff members, spoke with a reporter for The New York Times, sent his reports to the Defense Department’s inspector general — and only then informed his chain of command that he had done so.

“How many more men must die in support of a mission that is not succeeding?“ Colonel Davis asks in an article summarizing his views titled “Truth, Lies and Afghanistan: How Military Leaders Have Let Us Down.” It was published online Sunday in The Armed Forces Journal, the nation’s oldest independent periodical on military affairs. “No one expects our leaders to always have a successful plan,” he says in the article. “But we do expect — and the men who do the living, fighting and dying deserve — to have our leaders tell us the truth about what’s going on.”

Colonel Davis says his experience has caused him to doubt reports of progress in the war from numerous military leaders, including David H. Petraeus, who commanded the troops in Afghanistan before becoming the director of the Central Intelligence Agency in June.

Last March, for example, Mr. Petraeus, then an Army general, testified before the Senate that the Taliban’s momentum had been “arrested in much of the country” and that progress was “significant,” though fragile, and “on the right azimuth” to allow Afghan forces to take the lead in combat by the end of 2014.

Colonel Davis fiercely disputes such assertions and says few of the troops believe them. At the same time, he is acutely aware of the chasm in stature that separates him from those he is criticizing, and he has no illusions about the impact his public stance may have on his career.

“I’m going to get nuked,” he said in an interview last month.

But his bosses’ initial response has been restrained. They told him that while they disagreed with him, he would not face “adverse action,” he said.

Col. James E. Hutton, chief of media relations for the Army, declined to comment specifically about Colonel Davis, but he rejected the idea that military leaders had been anything but truthful about Afghanistan.

“We are a values-based organization, and the integrity of what we publish and what we say is something we take very seriously,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Petraeus, Jennifer Youngblood of the C.I.A., said he “has demonstrated that he speaks truth to power in each of his leadership positions over the past several years. His record should stand on its own, as should LTC Davis’ analysis.”

If the official reaction to Colonel Davis’s campaign has been subdued, it may be partly because he has recruited a few supporters among the war skeptics on Capitol Hill.

“For Colonel Davis to go out on a limb and help us to understand what’s happening on the ground, I have the greatest admiration for him,” said Representative Walter B. Jones, Republican of North Carolina, who has met with Colonel Davis twice and read his reports.

Senator Jeff Merkley, Democrat of Oregon, one of four senators who met with Colonel Davis despite what he called “a lot of resistance from the Pentagon,” said the colonel was a valuable witness because his extensive travels and midlevel rank gave him access to a wide range of soldiers.

Moreover, Colonel Davis’s doubts about reports of progress in the war are widely shared, if not usually voiced in public by officers on duty. Just last week, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California and chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said at a hearing that she was “concerned by what appears to be a disparity” between public testimony about progress in Afghanistan and “the bleaker description” in a classified National Intelligence Estimate produced in December, which was described in news reports as “sobering” and “dire.”

Those words would also describe Colonel Davis’s account of what he saw in Afghanistan, the latest assignment in a military career that has included clashes with some commanders, but glowing evaluations from others. (“His maturity, tenacity and judgment can be counted on in even the hardest of situations, and his devotion to mission accomplishment is unmatched by his peers,” says an evaluation from May that concludes that he has “unlimited potential.”)

Colonel Davis, a son of a high school football coach in Dallas and who is known as Danny, served two years as an Army private before returning to Texas Tech and completing the Reserve Officer Training Corps program. He served in Germany and fought in the first Iraq war before joining the Reserve and working civilian jobs, including a year as a member of the Senate staff.

After the Sept. 11 attacks, he returned to active duty, serving a tour in Iraq as well as the two in Afghanistan and spending 15 months working on Future Combat Systems, an ambitious Army program to produce high-tech vehicles linked to drones and sensors. On that program, too, he said, commanders kept promising success despite ample evidence of trouble. The program was shut down in 2009 after an investment of billions of dollars.

In his recent tour in Afghanistan, Colonel Davis represented the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force, created to bypass a cumbersome bureaucracy to make sure the troops quickly get the gear they need.

He spoke with about 250 soldiers, from 19-year-old privates to division commanders, as well as Afghan security officials and civilians, he said. From the Americans, he heard contempt for the perceived cowardice and double-dealing of their Afghan counterparts. From Afghans, he learned of unofficial nonaggression pacts between Afghanistan’s security forces and Taliban fighters.

When he was in rugged Kunar Province, an Afghan police officer visiting his parents was kidnapped by the Taliban and killed. “That was in visual range of an American base,” he said. “Their influence didn’t even reach as far as they could see.”

Some of the soldiers he interviewed were later killed, a fact that shook him and that he mentions in videos he shot in Afghanistan and later posted on YouTube. At home, he pored over the statements of military leaders, including General Petraeus. He found them at odds with what he had seen, with classified intelligence reports and with casualty statistics.

“You can spin all kinds of stuff,” Colonel Davis said. “But you can’t spin the fact that more men are getting blown up every year.”

Colonel Davis can come across as strident, labeling as lies what others might call wishful thinking. Matthew M. Aid, a historian who examines Afghanistan in his new book “Intel Wars,” says that while there is a “yawning gap” between Pentagon statements and intelligence assessments, “it’s oversimplified to say the top brass are out-and-out lying. They are just too close to the subject.”

But Martin L. Cook, who teaches military ethics at the Naval War College, says Colonel Davis has identified a hazard that is intrinsic to military culture, in which a can-do optimism can be at odds with the strictest candor when a mission is failing.

“You’ve trained people to try to be successful even when half their buddies are dead and they’re almost out of ammo,” he said. “It’s very hard for them to say, ‘can’t do.’ ”

Mr. Cook said it was rare for an officer of Colonel Davis’s modest rank to “decide that he knows better” and to go to Congress and the news media.

“It may be an act of moral courage,” he said. “But he’s gone outside channels, and he’s taking his chances on what happens to him.”

Posted on 02/06/2012 8:26 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 6 February 2012
Rami G. Khouri Is Impressed With Singapore, But Misses The Point

Rami Khouri is an Arab, possibly Christian, apologist for Islam and the Muslim Arabs everywhere. He can hardly write a paragraph about anything without bringing up Israel. When, as on NPR a few weeks ago, another Arab -- Shadi Hamid -- tells the truth, and mentions almost casually that "all the Arabs hate Israel " Rami Khouri remains silent (but you can almost see him blanch), hoping listeners will ignore what they just heard, for he knows what Shadi Hamid said was perfectly true.

Occasionally, however, Rami G. Khouri gets out into the great world, outside Lebanon, the Middle East, and America where he grew up. Recently he was on a  a three-day junket to Singapore, complete with his bargaining and buying  in the presumably local-colorful silk market (on "Arab Street" as he keeps mentioning), and his personal experience led him, tom-friedman-like, to thoughts wider and deeper, though dimly assembled, about how the Arabs and Muslims might learn from the East. He was, you see, impressed with the East, and with the ability of the various ethnic groups -- Chinese, Indians, Musilms -- to get along in Singapore.

But he missed the point. Singapore, under Yee Kuan Yew and his successors, carefully has kept Islam at bay. First, Singapore, having been originally linked to Malaysia, obtained its independence precisely so that its Chinese population would not merely be harnessed for economic use, as they (and Indians) are in Malaysia, for exploitation, through the Bumiputra system, by the less entrepreneurial, and less hard-working Muslim Malays.

Nor does Rami Khouri know that the government of Singapore has put in place strict regulation of attempts at religious conversion -- such conversions must be reported to the government -- so as to keep[ careful tabs on Muslim efforts to expand their numbers. And there are a host of other regulations designed to constrain Islam. Lee Kuan Yew himself has made statements showing he understands perfectly the threat, to non-Muslims, of those who take Islam to heart.

But this, one assumes, was all unknown to Rami Khouri. Or perhaps he couldn't quite face -- so few even of the Arab "liberals" can -- that the problem with the Arabs, and one that learning from the Western world, or learning instead from the Chinese and Indians and the Eastern world, will not cure -- is Islam, with its rigidities, its legitimizing of aggression and violence against all non-Muslims, its encouragement of submission to authority (which in turn promotes despotism), its discouragement of free and skeptical inquiry, its collectivism, its inshallah-fatalism, the indifference or hostility it inculcates toward anything outside Islam.

None of this can be written about by Rami Khouri. None of it can even be thought about, by the likes of Rami Khouri. It would only serve to confuse and upset him. He wouldn't know quite what to do.

Posted on 02/06/2012 9:42 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 6 February 2012
Turkey Under Erdogan Is A Model For No One

From The Washington Post:

Feb. 5, 2012

Opposition being silenced in Turkey

By Kemal Kılıçdaroglu

Many in Washington have been debating whether Turkey’s governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) could be a model for the Arab Spring , as our neighbors in the Middle East aspire to get rid of totalitarian regimes and become true democracies. But the reality in Turkey makes clear that the AKP model does not hold.

On Nov. 9 I visited the Silivri prison where hundreds of journalists, publishers, military officers, academics and politicians are being held. Trials were opened in 2007 on charges that an ultranationalist underground organization had plotted for years to overthrow the government. Many of those indicted have been detained for years without trial. There has not been a single conviction to date. Justice is at stake — and, so far, has been flagrantly denied. At work is an insidious attack on the rule of law by Turkey’s governing party. These trials could have been an occasion for Turkey to achieve a much-needed catharsis for correcting past wrongs, but they have been turned into instruments to silence the opposition and suppress freedoms.

Among those being held are eight opposition members of parliament. Turkey’s high election board declared that these people were qualified to stand for elections, and all won seats in parliament. That they are incarcerated violates their rights under Turkish law as elected representatives of the people.

A universal norm of the rule of law is that one is innocent until proven guilty. Another is that evidence leads to the arrest of a suspect. In today’s Turkey, however, people are treated as guilty until proven innocent. One gets arrested; then authorities gather evidence to establish an infraction. Presumed guilt is the norm. Sadly, all opponents of the government are viewed as potential terrorists or plotters against the state.

The AKP is systematic and ruthless in its persecution of any opposition to its policies. Authoritarian pressure methods such as heavy tax fines and illegal videotaping and phone tapping are widely used to silence opponents. Even more disturbing is the AKP’s claim that such things are being done in the name of democratic progress. The latest government target is the primary vestige of our democracy, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), which I lead.

While at the Silivri center in November, I likened the conditions to those of a concentration camp and said that prosecutors and judges were not meting out justice and did not deserve to be called upholders of justice. This month, I learned that the prosecutor’s office had opened an inquiry into my comments, contending that I was “seeking to influence a fair trial” and “insulting public officials.” Never mind that not a day passes without some comment by government officials, such as the prime minister, on the process of law and justice. Clearly, an effort to single out the leader of the main opposition party ratchets up the pressures on freedom of expression. Meanwhile, the Constitutional Court penalized our party when we asked for the chief justice to recuse himself from particular cases. Our request was based on ill will, we were told when the $3,000 fine was levied, and the CHP was unnecessarily preoccupying the court’s time.

It all boils down to this: In today’s Turkey, when one criticizes the justice system, one is prosecuted. When one appeals to the courts, one is penalized.

But here is why I stand behind my words: I have the right and duty to be critical of all that is wrong in my country. It is my inalienable right to point to injustices and to ask for justice. If the courts are not performing their duty, one can, and should, stand up and say so. I do not ask for forgiveness. Rather, I want my own immunity as a member of parliament to be lifted so that I can be tried in a court for all to witness the outcome. Righteousness is the ultimate immunity.

Turkey today is a country where people live in fear and are divided politically, economically and socially. Our democracy is regressing in terms of the separation of powers, basic human rights and freedoms and social development and justice. Citizens worry deeply about their future. These points are, sadly, reflected in most major international indexes, such as Human Rights Watch, which rank Turkey quite low in terms of human rights, democracy, freedoms and equality.

Our party stands for democracy, secularism, the rule of law, human rights and freedoms. We envision a progressive Turkey where citizens, regardless of their faith, ethnicity, gender or political view, are equal before the law. Building political, economic and cultural walls between people is not consistent with democracy or social justice. Only a nation at peace with itself can be a model for its neighbors. A nation plagued by multiple forms of division and polarization is doomed to failure.

Tactics such as oppression, preying on fear and restricting freedoms can help sustain a government’s rule for only so long. Never in history has a government succeeded in ruling permanently through authoritarian measures. Oppression does not endure; righteousness does. Turkey will be no exception.

Posted on 02/06/2012 9:58 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 6 February 2012
Why Wasn't This, Why Weren't The Other Sanctions, Put In Place Years Ago?

Obama signs executive order freezing Iran assets in US

Reuters -
| WASHINGTON (Reuters) - US President Barack Obama signed an executive order on Monday imposing new, stricter sanctions on Iran and its central bank, saying a broader asset freeze was necessary because Iranian banks were concealing transactions.
Posted on 02/06/2012 10:03 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 6 February 2012
Barry Rubin: When Even The "Moderates" Are Radical

From the Jerusalem Post:

When the moderates are radicals, you’re in trouble

By BARRY RUBIN 02/05/2012

The hopes for moderation and real democracy in Egypt is limited; neither the Islamists nor many alleged moderates are moderate.

Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Egypt By Reuters Dear readers, I’d like to share a secret. Every day I read articles, or some form of writing, by people who claim to be experts on the Middle East. I have read them on land; I have read them at sea; I have read them in the air. And they will never surrender to reality.

Here are the two main causes of error:

• They think the Middle East is just like the West, so they can extrapolate from their own experience.

When someone would say, “If I were Yasser Arafat, I’d... ,” my response would be: stop right there. I must run out to the corner store and get a pack of cigarettes.

I have never smoked a cigarette. And I kept on running.

You are not Arafat or Khomeini or Saddam Hussein or whatever, and unless you have some understanding of how they actually think – and not your own Western idea of what they should think – there’s no sense in discussing it.

• They think the Middle East is just what they’d like it to be. Peace? Easy. They have a plan. My response: I’d love to hear your plan but I’m all booked up to hear Middle East peace plans for the next three years.

I’ll put you on the waiting list and get back to you.

By the same token, they sometimes lie to make things seem better. You can’t criticize the Palestinian Authority – or the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Turkish regime, etc. – even by telling the truth about them, because that would damage the cause of “peace.” They don’t understand that not telling the truth is the best way to undermine any chance for peace, or any understanding of why there is no peace.

THE MIDDLE East is so strange in Western terms, so different, that unless you are really aware of those differences, please pick something else to be an expert on.

And that brings me to a case in point that I have before me right now.

The Wafd is a “liberal,” “moderate” Egyptian party, right? It is the biggest non-Islamist party in Egypt’s parliament with 7.6 percent (pretty pitiful, huh?) of the seats. So if you are a Western reporter, policymaker, or “expert” you would say that it is one of the great hopes – perhaps the greatest – for moderate, liberal Egyptian democracy, right? And the same people, of course, explain that revolutionary Islamism isn’t really a threat because they are really just all greedy people who’d rather have US aid than Allah.

But how many “liberal,” “moderate” parties have had:

• A deadly shoot-out between two factions over control of their headquarters?

• An alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood – which might be renewed

• A deputy leader who explains that September 11 was a US-Zionist plot; the Holocaust never happened; and Anne Frank was a phony?

• And now this article, courtesy of the party’s official newspaper, appearing on January 27, 2012.

Thanks to MEMRI for catching and translating it.

You can read the whole thing for yourself if you want, but briefly the article charges that a small US Navy Medical Research Unit in Cairo that conducts research on tropical and Third World diseases is in fact engaged in plotting to send: “Medicines, pesticides, food products and seeds [to Egypt], after these have been dangerously tampered with so as to harm the Egyptians’ health” and handling “biological weapons which, if deployed, could exterminate the entire Egyptian nation, or any other nation.... They can also manipulate these Egyptian genes, alter their traits, and deform them by means of American medicines or vaccines that are sold dirt cheap to the poor Egyptian people, along with crop seeds and food products....”

It goes on to suggest that various disease epidemics in Egypt were caused by the United States and charges that the US installation “sees the Egyptian children as an opportunity to test new medicines,” turning the country’s children into lab rats and causing increases “in infertility, mental retardation and disability among Egyptians born in recent years... as well as [instances of] impotence.”

And all this is done “in accordance with America’s will, which has Israel standing forcefully behind it” to develop biological weapons for Israel against Egypt.

This one article is a rich source of knowledge about Egypt and the Arabic-speaking world, not so much in terms of health issues but in terms of political and intellectual structures. Of course, there are the common conspiracy theories and the idea that the Zionists are everywhere, but that’s only the beginning of the issue. Don’t be fooled into thinking that conspiracy theories are silly, funny, archaic ideas that don’t mean anything precisely because they are inaccurate.

Here are some of the implications:

• An American attempt to help Egypt (while also shielding itself from disease) is portrayed as a harmful and aggressive activity

• The priority for the nation is to fight foreign conspiracies, not to fix domestic shortcomings

• Since internal problems are blamed on outsiders they are thus made impossible to solve. Science and modernity are viewed not as solutions but with suspicion, as attempts to destroy one’s own society through imperialist takeover, social transformation, and atheism (or Christianity imposed on Islam)

• If Americans are so evil then it makes sense for people to become terrorists and to slay or drive out the horrible villains. Isn’t it reasonable to slay Americans in revenge or in self-defense? Now important Egyptians are also claiming that US embassy officials are running over Egyptians with their cars (apparently US embassy vehicles were stolen by criminals).

Together these four symptoms block progress, inflame hatred and extremism and produce conflict.

This is a common pattern in the Middle East whether aimed against Israel, the United States, or the West in general.

And guess what? Except for the last sentence of the third aspect, these are also the talking points of hegemonic Western leftism. It’s all there: the West is evil and wants to dominate; underdevelopment is not the result of traditional society and thinking but Western threat and conspiracy; fighting the West from outside and weakening it from inside are justified.

So, in short, the Islamists are not “moderate,” and many of the alleged moderates are not moderate.


Hence, the hopes for moderation and real democracy is limited by the small numbers of those who hold them. We were told not so long ago that the young, social-media using kids who made Egypt’s revolution would dominate the country thereafter.

Question: What percentage of the vote in parliamentary elections did the young, social-media using kids who made Egypt’s revolution get? Answer: 1.3 percent.
Posted on 02/06/2012 10:07 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 6 February 2012
Niall Ferguson On Why All The Arguments Against An Israeli Attack On Iran Are Bad

From Newsweek/The Daily Beast

Israel and Iran on the Eve of Destruction in a New Six-Day War

There are plenty of arguments against an Israeli attack on Iran. And all of them are bad.

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Jerusalem—It probably felt a bit like this in the months before the Six-Day War of 1967, when Israel launched its hugely successful preemptive strike against Egypt and its allies. Forty-five years later, the little country that is the most easterly outpost of Western civilization has Iran in its sights.

There are five reasons (I am told) why Israel should not attack Iran:

1. The Iranians would retaliate with great fury, closing the Strait of Hormuz and unleashing the dogs of terror in Gaza, Lebanon, and Iraq.

2. The entire region would be set ablaze by irate Muslims; the Arab Spring would turn into a frigid Islamist winter.

3. The world economy would be dealt a death blow in the form of higher oil prices.

4. The Iranian regime would be strengthened, having been attacked by the Zionists its propaganda so regularly vilifies.

5. A nuclear-armed Iran is nothing to worry about. States actually become more risk-averse once they acquire nuclear weapons.

I am here to tell you that these arguments are wrong.

Let’s take them one by one.

The threat of Iranian retaliation. The Iranians will very likely be facing not one, not two, but three U.S. aircraft carriers. Two are already in the Persian Gulf: CVN 72 Abraham Lincoln and CVN 70 Carl Vinson. A third, CVN 77 George H.W. Bush, is said to be on its way from Norfolk, Va.

Yes, I know President Obama is a noble and saintly man of peace who uses unmanned drones only to assassinate America’s foes in unprecedented numbers after wrestling with his conscience for anything up to ... 10 seconds. But picture the scene once described to me by a four-star general. It is not the proverbial 3 a.m. but 11 p.m. in the White House (7 a.m. in Israel). The phone rings.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: Mr. President, we have reliable intelligence that the Israeli Air Force is in the air and within an hour of striking suspected nuclear facilities in Iran.

POTUS: Damn. What should I do?

CJCS: Mr. President, I want to recommend that you provide the Israelis with all necessary support to limit the effectiveness of Iranian retaliation.

POTUS: But those [expletives deleted] never ran this past me. They went behind my back, goddammit.

CJCS: Yes, sir.

POTUS: Why the hell should I lift a finger to help them?

CJCS: Because if the Iranians close the Strait of Hormuz, we will see oil above $200 a barrel.

POTUS [after a pause]: Just a moment. [Whispers] How am I doing in Florida?

David Axelrod [also whispering]: Your numbers suck.

POTUS: OK, General, line up those bunker busters.

Mideast Israel Iran

Israeli soldiers conduct a drill in Tel Aviv., Ariel Schalit / AP

The eruption of the entire Muslim world. All the crocodiles of Africa could not equal the fake tears that will be shed by the Sunni powers of the region if Iran’s nuclear ambitions are checked.

The double-dip recession. Oil prices are on the way down thanks to concerted efforts of Europe’s leaders to reenact the Great Depression. An Israel-Iran war would push them up, but the Saudis stand ready to pump out additional supplies to limit the size of the spike.

The theocracy’s new legitimacy. Please send me a list of all the regimes of the past 60 years that have survived such military humiliation. Saddam Hussein’s survival of Gulf War I is the only case I can think of—and we got him the second time around.

The responsible nuclear Iran. Wait. We’re supposed to believe that a revolutionary Shiite theocracy is overnight going to become a sober, calculating disciple of the realist school of diplomacy ... because it has finally acquired weapons of mass destruction? Presumably this would be in the same way that, if German scientists had developed an atomic bomb as quickly as the Manhattan Project, the Second World War would have ended with a negotiated settlement brokered by the League of Nations.

The single biggest danger in the Middle East today is not the risk of a six-day Israeli war against Iran. It is the risk that Western wishful nonthinking allows the mullahs of Tehran to get their hands on nuclear weapons. Because I am in no doubt that they would take full advantage of such a lethal lever. We would have acquiesced in the creation of an empire of extortion.

War is an evil. But sometimes a preventive war can be a lesser evil than a policy of appeasement. The people who don’t yet know that are the ones still in denial about what a nuclear-armed Iran would end up costing us all.

It feels like the eve of some creative destruction.

Posted on 02/06/2012 10:14 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 6 February 2012
Sanctions Bite, But Still, It Appears, Too Little And Too Late

From Reuters:

Analysis - Iran economy could limp along under sanctions

Photo
2:23pm EST

By Andrew Torchia

DUBAI (Reuters) - Tightening international sanctions against Iran look set to shrink its economy, push up inflation and further erode its currency, but they may fail to deliver a knock-out blow that forces Tehran to compromise on its nuclear ambitions.

Few areas of Iran's economy now remain untouched by the sanctions. Because of payments difficulties, Iranian ships have in recent days stopped loading imports of Ukrainian grain. The United Arab Emirates has told its banks to stop financing Iran's trade with Dubai. Iranians are finding it more difficult to obtain hard currency to travel abroad.

But the history of sanctions against other countries, and the strengths of Iran's diverse and relatively self-reliant economy, suggest that as long as Tehran can find buyers for a large proportion of its oil, it will be able to limp along.

The pain will be felt throughout the country and could increase discontent with the government, but if President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad can cope with that political threat, there may be no overriding economic reason for him to back down.

"Iran can still scrape by," said Gary Hufbauer, a fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in the United States and a former U.S. Treasury official who has written extensively about the history of sanctions.

He ranks the measures against Iran - taken to stop what the West sees as Tehran's nuclear ambitions - as among the toughest international sanctions of the past 50 years, but not as harsh as those once imposed on Iraq, North Korea and Cuba - countries which defied economic pressure.

Posted on 02/06/2012 1:58 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 6 February 2012
Abu Qatada to be released within days

From The Telegraph

Abu Qatada, a radical Muslim cleric accused of posing a grave threat to Britain's national security, will be back on the streets within days after judges granted him bail. His defence team had argued his detention of six and a half years while fighting deportation was unlawful because he did not face any imminent prospect of being removed.

The cleric is wanted in Jordan to stand trial for alleged terror offences and Home Secretary Theresa May battled to keep him behind bars while British diplomats continue to seek assurances from the Jordanian authorities that evidence gained through torture would not be used against him.

Human rights judges ruled last month that sending Qatada back to face terror charges without assurances that evidence gained through torture would not be used against him would deny him his right to a fair trial and be a "flagrant denial of justice".

Qatada will be released despite the Home Secretary stating that he would be kept behind bars while she considered all legal options to send him back to Jordan. Mrs May wanted him kept in jail while British diplomats continue to seek assurances from the Jordanian authorities that evidence gained through torture would not be used against him.

But the judge ruled: "The time will arrive quite soon when continuing detention or deprivation of liberty could not be justified." He said Qatada should be "bailed on highly prescriptive terms for three months".

"If by the end of that, the Secretary of State is not able to put before me evidence of demonstrable progress in negotiating sufficient assurances with the government of Jordan ... it's very likely that I would consider that a continued deprivation of liberty is no longer justified," he said. "I will order in principle that the appellant is admitted to bail on essentially the same terms as those imposed on him in May 2008."

Law Lords ruled almost three years ago that he could be sent back to Jordan and Lord Phillips, now president of the Supreme Court, said torture in another country does not require the UK ''to retain in this country, to the detriment of national security, a terrorist suspect''. But the human rights court went against that judgment, agreeing with the earlier 2008 decision of the Court of Appeal which said there were reasonable grounds for believing he would be denied a fair trial in Jordan.

Tim Eicke QC, for the Home Secretary, said Mrs May did not accept that Qatada's detention was unlawful. The length of detention "has to be weighed against the risks" and "he poses a particularly serious risk to the UK". "The Secretary of State has also taken all steps to diligently try to achieve removal and deportation as soon as possible."

We are at war. This is like allowing Rudolph Hess out on bail in 1943.

Posted on 02/06/2012 12:04 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 6 February 2012
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Muslim Violence Against Christians, All Over The World

From The Daily Beast:

Ayaan Hirsi Ali:The Global War on Christians in the Muslim World

From one end of the muslim world to the other, Christians are being murdered for their faith.

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We hear so often about Muslims as victims of abuse in the West and combatants in the Arab Spring’s fight against tyranny. But, in fact, a wholly different kind of war is underway—an unrecognized battle costing thousands of lives. Christians are being killed in the Islamic world because of their religion. It is a rising genocide that ought to provoke global alarm.

The portrayal of Muslims as victims or heroes is at best partially accurate. In recent years the violent oppression of Christian minorities has become the norm in Muslim-majority nations stretching from West Africa and the Middle East to South Asia and Oceania. In some countries it is governments and their agents that have burned churches and imprisoned parishioners. In others, rebel groups and vigilantes have taken matters into their own hands, murdering Christians and driving them from regions where their roots go back centuries.

The media’s reticence on the subject no doubt has several sources. One may be fear of provoking additional violence. Another is most likely the influence of lobbying groups such as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation—a kind of United Nations of Islam centered in Saudi Arabia—and the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Over the past decade, these and similar groups have been remarkably successful in persuading leading public figures and journalists in the West to think of each and every example of perceived anti-Muslim discrimination as an expression of a systematic and sinister derangement called “Islamophobia”—a term that is meant to elicit the same moral disapproval as xenophobia or homophobia.

But a fair-minded assessment of recent events and trends leads to the conclusion that the scale and severity of Islamophobia pales in comparison with the bloody Christophobia currently coursing through Muslim-majority nations from one end of the globe to the other. The conspiracy of silence surrounding this violent expression of religious intolerance has to stop. Nothing less than the fate of Christianity—and ultimately of all religious minorities—in the Islamic world is at stake.

Egypt Coptic Christians

At least 24 Coptic Christians were killed in Cairo during clashes with the Egyptian Army on Oct. 9., Thomas Hartwell / Redux

From blasphemy laws to brutal murders to bombings to mutilations and the burning of holy sites, Christians in so many nations live in fear. In Nigeria many have suffered all of these forms of persecution. The nation has the largest Christian minority (40 percent) in proportion to its population (160 million) of any majority-Muslim country. For years, Muslims and Christians in Nigeria have lived on the edge of civil war. Islamist radicals provoke much if not most of the tension. The newest such organization is an outfit that calls itself Boko Haram, which means “Western education is sacrilege.” Its aim is to establish Sharia in Nigeria. To this end it has stated that it will kill all Christians in the country.

In the month of January 2012 alone, Boko Haram was responsible for 54 deaths. In 2011 its members killed at least 510 people and burned down or destroyed more than 350 churches in 10 northern states. They use guns, gasoline bombs, and even machetes, shouting “Allahu akbar” (“God is great”) while launching attacks on unsuspecting citizens. They have attacked churches, a Christmas Day gathering (killing 42 Catholics), beer parlors, a town hall, beauty salons, and banks. They have so far focused on killing Christian clerics, politicians, students, policemen, and soldiers, as well as Muslim clerics who condemn their mayhem. While they started out by using crude methods like hit-and-run assassinations from the back of motorbikes in 2009, the latest AP reports indicate that the group’s recent attacks show a new level of potency and sophistication.

The Christophobia that has plagued Sudan for years takes a very different form. The authoritarian government of the Sunni Muslim north of the country has for decades tormented Christian and animist minorities in the south. What has often been described as a civil war is in practice the Sudanese government’s sustained persecution of religious minorities. This persecution culminated in the infamous genocide in Darfur that began in 2003. Even though Sudan’s Muslim president, Omar al-Bashir, has been indicted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, which charged him with three counts of genocide, and despite the euphoria that greeted the semi-independence he grant-ed to South Sudan in July of last year, the violence has not ended. In South Kordofan, Christians are still subject-ed to aerial bombardment, targeted killings, the kidnap-ping of children, and other atrocities. Reports from the United Nations indicate that between 53,000 and 75,000 innocent civilians have been displaced from their resi-dences and that houses and buildings have been looted and destroyed.

Both kinds of persecution—undertaken by extragovernmental groups as well as by agents of the state—have come together in Egypt in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. On Oct. 9 of last year in the Maspero area of Cairo, Coptic Christians (who make up roughly 11 percent of Egypt’s population of 81 million) marched in protest against a wave of attacks by Islamists—including church burnings, rapes, mutilations, and murders—that followed the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship. During the protest, Egyptian security forces drove their trucks into the crowd and fired on protesters, crushing and killing at least 24 and wounding more than 300 people. By the end of the year more than 200,000 Copts had fled their homes in anticipation of more attacks. With Islamists poised to gain much greater power in the wake of recent elections, their fears appear to be justified.

Egypt is not the only Arab country that seems bent on wiping out its Christian minority. Since 2003 more than 900 Iraqi Christians (most of them Assyrians) have been killed by terrorist violence in Baghdad alone, and 70 churches have been burned, according to the Assyrian International News Agency (AINA). Thousands of Iraqi Christians have fled as a result of violence directed specifically at them, reducing the number of Christians in the country to fewer than half a million from just over a million before 2003. AINA understandably describes this as an “incipient genocide or ethnic cleansing of Assyrians in Iraq.”

The 2.8 million Christians who live in Pakistan make up only about 1.6 percent of the population of more than 170 million. As members of such a tiny minority, they live in perpetual fear not only of Islamist terrorists but also of Pakistan’s draconian blasphemy laws. There is, for example, the notorious case of a Christian woman who was sentenced to death for allegedly insulting the Prophet Muhammad. When international pressure persuaded Punjab Gov. Salman Taseer to explore ways of freeing her, he was killed by his bodyguard. The bodyguard was then celebrated by prominent Muslim clerics as a hero—and though he was sentenced to death late last year, the judge who imposed the sentence now lives in hiding, fearing for his life.

Such cases are not unusual in Pakistan. The nation’s blasphemy laws are routinely used by criminals and intolerant Pakistani Muslims to bully religious minorities. Simply to declare belief in the Christian Trinity is considered blasphemous, since it contradicts mainstream Muslim theological doctrines. When a Christian group is suspected of transgressing the blasphemy laws, the consequences can be brutal. Just ask the members of the Christian aid group World Vision. Its offices were attacked in the spring of 2010 by 10 gunmen armed with grenades, leaving six people dead and four wounded. A militant Muslim group claimed responsibility for the attack on the grounds that World Vision was working to subvert Islam. (In fact, it was helping the survivors of a major earthquake.)

EGYPTIAN COPTIC CHRISITANS

At least 13 people were killed and 140 injured on March 8, 2011, when participants in a large Christian demonstration in a Cairo slum were attacked by residents of a surrounding neighborhood., Mohamed Omar / EPA-Landov

Not even Indonesia—often touted as the world’s most tolerant, democratic, and modern majority-Muslim nation—has been immune to the fevers of Christophobia. According to data compiled by the Christian Post, the number of violent incidents committed against religious minorities (and at 7 percent of the population, Christians are the country’s largest minority) increased by nearly 40 percent, from 198 to 276, between 2010 and 2011.

The litany of suffering could be extended. In Iran dozens of Christians have been arrested and jailed for daring to worship outside of the officially sanctioned church system. Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, deserves to be placed in a category of its own. Despite the fact that more than a million Christians live in the country as foreign workers, churches and even private acts of Christian prayer are banned; to enforce these totalitarian restrictions, the religious police regularly raid the homes of Christians and bring them up on charges of blasphemy in courts where their testimony carries less legal weight than a Muslim’s. Even in Ethiopia, where Christians make up a majority of the population, church burnings by members of the Muslim minority have become a problem.

It should be clear from this catalog of atrocities that anti-Christian violence is a major and underreported problem. No, the violence isn’t centrally planned or coordinated by some international Islamist agency. In that sense the global war on Christians isn’t a traditional war at all. It is, rather, a spontaneous expression of anti-Christian animus by Muslims that transcends cultures, regions, and ethnicities.

As Nina Shea, director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, pointed out in an interview with Newsweek, Christian minorities in many majority-Muslim nations have “lost the protection of their societies.” This is especially so in countries with growing radical Islamist (Salafist) movements. In those nations, vigilantes often feel they can act with impunity—and government inaction often proves them right. The old idea of the Ottoman Turks—that non-Muslims in Muslim societies deserve protection (albeit as second-class citizens)—has all but vanished from wide swaths of the Islamic world, and increasingly the result is bloodshed and oppression.

So let us please get our priorities straight. Yes, Western governments should protect Muslim minorities from intolerance. And of course we should ensure that they can worship, live, and work freely and without fear. It is the protection of the freedom of conscience and speech that distinguishes free societies from unfree ones. But we also need to keep perspective about the scale and severity of intolerance. Cartoons, films, and writings are one thing; knives, guns, and grenades are something else entirely.

As for what the West can do to help religious minorities in Muslim-majority societies, my answer is that it needs to begin using the billions of dollars in aid it gives to the offending countries as leverage. Then there is trade and investment. Besides diplomatic pressure, these aid and trade relationships can and should be made conditional on the protection of the freedom of conscience and worship for all citizens.

Instead of falling for overblown tales of Western Islamophobia, let’s take a real stand against the Christophobia infecting the Muslim world. Tolerance is for everyone—except the intolerant.

Posted on 02/06/2012 2:00 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 6 February 2012
How Nancy Soderbergh Talks About Syria

I heard Nancy Soderbergh on NPR. She is called "Ambassador Soderbergh" because she was once the American ambassador to the United Nations.

She's full of United Nations talk.

In Syria, Assad "is murdering his own people." So far "he has killed over 5000 people."

"We" have a "duty to protect" those people.

The "International Community" is not doing its job.

And many more words to that effect.

But Assad is not "murdering his own people." He is fighting an uprising, by those who want him out.

And the people who are rising against him are Sunni Arabs Muslims. They want him out. Why? Because they want to rule, and if they rule, that rule would make things very unpleasant for not only Assad, but all of the Alawites, and all of the Christians, and indeed the Druse and Kurds.

Assad has not "killed over 5000 people." Over 5000 peoplehave died. But many, possibly 2,000 or so, of those who have died were supporters of Assad. Some were in the police and army, and others -- Alawite civilians, and now some Christians too -- have been killed by Sunni Muslims bent on revenge against Alawites and those suspected of supporting them.

"We" don't have a "duty" to protect anyone, even if the U.N. had that "duty to protect" business a few years ago. There is no international law, because there are norms without sanctions. And because the U.N. is mostly, though not always, in the grip of various powers -- and mostly, these days, the General Assembly, though not the Security Council, is manipulated by the Muslim and Arab states to pay most attention to those things those states think important, and to second whatever the Arab League decides. It's absurd.

For the West, the longer the conflict goes on in Syria, enough to drain Iran of more resources, and to focus the Alawites on their survival, and not on any longer thinking they can continue to cause mischief  outside of Syria. That means that a chastened Alawite regime will stopaiding Hezbollah in Lebanon, and give up what they once thought would win them a free-pass, their manic plus-royaliste-que-le-roi hostility toward Israel. And when Iran is taken care of, the Syrian regime should take care not to get in the way, because the last time something happened, when Hafez al-Assad sent his planes up to meet the Israelis, 82 Syrian planes (with presumably Alawite pilots) were shot down, without the loss of a single Israeli plane. The Alawites surely must now they can't afford such losses.

But otherwise, leave them alone, let them have their hands full, this year, next year, the year after. It's a perfect situation.

Posted on 02/06/2012 1:38 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 6 February 2012
If Azerbaijan Becomes Northern Azerbaijan, Can Southern Azerbaijan Be Far Behind?

You'd think Azerbaijan might have its hands full with one ongoing territorial dispute, but a group of lawmakers have apparently decided this is a good time to mix things up with Iran. EurasiaNet's Giorgi Losadze explains

The idea, pitched by minority lawmakers and applauded by representatives of the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan Party, spells trouble for the already less-than-neighborly relations between Azerbaijan and Iran. The name Northern Azerbaijan emphasizes the fact that the Azeri nation is split between an independent state, the Republic of Azerbaijan, and a province in northern Iran, known to many Azerbaijanis as Southern Azerbaijan.[...]

And why not?, asked Yeni Azerbaijan Party parliamentarian Siyavush Novruzov. We already have the examples of North and South Korea, North and South Cyprus, so “Azerbaijan, as a divided state, should be called Northern Azerbaijan,” he argued, Trend reported. The lawmakers have proposed to hold a national referendum on the name change.

The situation is a kind of inverse version of the ongoing naming dispute in Macedonia, which has had to labor under the ungainly name of "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" because Greece feels the name "Macedonia" implies a territorial claim on a region of Northern Greece historically known by that name. 

The Azerbaijan naming dispute takes place against the backdrop of what tightened international oil sanctions against Tehran will mean for the country's own oil market.

Posted on 02/06/2012 3:12 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 6 February 2012
Controversial Ali Abunimah of Electronic Intifada Spoke at PennBDS Conference

Ali Abunimah of Electronic Intifada at PennBDS Conference

Source: The Daily Pennsylvanian

This weekend Palestinian activists pulled a fast one at the University of Pennsylvania (U of P) and held a controversial anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) conference, PennBDS.  Over 200 anti-Israel BDS activists and speakers showed up.  The U of P President Amy Guttmann, who alleges opposition to BDS, was caught in the academic free speech dilemma created by one student activist and had to let the event proceed.  The Philadelphia Jewish community quickly deliberated and issued statements in opposition to the PennBDS forum and brought in Harvard law Professor Alan Dershowitz last Thursday to speak in opposition.   Prior to Dershowitz’s speech a letter from U of P President Guttmann was read by David Cohen, chairman of the Penn Board of Trustees:

“a commitment to open expression is fundamental to a great university like Penn. Occasionally that commitment gets tested, and that will certainly be the case this weekend.” She went onto say, “it is important that you all know that we have been unambiguous in repudiating the positions that are espoused by those supporting that conference… we are unwavering in our support of the Jewish state. Let me say it in the clearest possible words: we do not support the goals of BDS.”

 Z Street colleague, Lori Lowenthal Marcus, reported on the intense Jewish community deliberations in an American Thinker, article, “How Many Are Thy Tents, O Jacob??”  Marcus noted the schism within the Jewish community response, specifically the nuanced stand of J Street:

Whereas the Philadelphia Community Statement is officially one of solidarity with Israel and of condemnation of the BDS Conference, J Street’s is neither.

The Philadelphia Community Statement unequivocally condemns boycotting Israel, disinvesting from its companies, or sanctioning it. J Street’s statement criticizes the BDS tactics but explicitly recognizes, validates, and agrees with the underlying sentiments expressed by those advocating BDS, which include “the ongoing occupation and diplomatic stagnation” and the “legitimate and warranted” and shared “concern about the present and future of the Palestinian people.”

Of particular concern to J Street was a broad condemnation of BDS — one that lacked “nuance,” such as making exceptions for boycotting goods made in Judea and Samaria. Also, J Street refused to criticize Penn, even subtly, for allowing the conference to be held there. J Street was unwilling to include its voice in stating that “the outrageous claims of BDS campaigns do not stand up to the rigors of academic inquiry and as such, go against the sophisticated civil discourse that is a core element of the University of Pennsylvania.”

Worse, J Street seems to have issued even its own tepid statement with not even enough enthusiasm as to post it; the J Street statement does not appear on the J Street Philadelphia website. J Street also refused to be one of the more than thirty co-sponsors of the “We Are One With Israel” event with Alan Dershowitz.

Today’s Jewish Daily Forward had an article, “BDS Leader: ‘End game’ coming in the Middle East” that focused on one of the Penn BDS speakers, Ali Abunimah of Chicago, co-founder of the Electronic Intifada and a major backer of the international BDS campaign against Israel.  Note his rationale:

“This insane hysteria about the conference tells us something about the moment we are in,” said Ali Abunimah in his keynote speech at the conference. “In terms of the battle of ideas, we are in the end game.”

[. . .]

“We have seen the vilification and the pressure on the university to prevent [the conference]. I think it is for a simple reason. If our ideas are tested against each other in an equal forum, there is no defense for what Israel is doing.”

Watch this video of Abunimah’s  speech at the PennBDS conference.

The Obamas with the late Edward Said and wife

Chicago Arab community dinner May 1998

Ali Abunimah was a friend of President Barack Obama during the latter's Chicago days, when Obama was an Illinois state senator.  Obama cultivated the local Chicago Arab Muslim and Palestinian community at various dinners and public events.  One only need be reminded of the photo op of the Obamas' attendance at an Arab American community dinner seated with the late Edward Said and his wife in May 1998. Said gave the keynote speech at the 1998 event.  Perhaps the most controversial episode was Obama’s attendance at a 2003 dinner for then University of Chicago Middle East History Professor Rashid Khalidi who was leaving to assume the multi-million dollar endowed Edward Said Chair at Columbia U.  A controversial video of that event is alleged to be sequestered in a vault of the Los Angeles Times that refuses to release it.  Andrew McCarthy in a 2008 NRO article wrote that “the publisher didn’t consider the tape newsworthy”.  Abunimah bemoaned in 2007, his friend Obama's shift away from his prior pro-Palestinian sympathies. Abunimah was consternated by then US Senator Obama reaching out to liberal Chicago Jewish moguls for funding of his US Senate and Presidential races, engaging in AIPAC Washington Policy conference speeches supporting the special relationship with Israel. 

While the Philadelphia Jewish community quickly took collective action against the PennBDS conference this past weekend there is one thing that the Philadelphia Jewish Federation should do.  Approve and sign the Fogel Pledge against self-destructive support of pro-BDS and patently anti-Israel programs. The Pledge was developed as a living memorial to the slaughter of five members of the Fogel family by Palestinian villagers in Samaria on March 11, 2011.  To date only one Jewish Federation has signed, the Sarasota Manatee Federation in Florida on May 9, 2011.

 The PennBDS conference should be a warning to all concerned Jewish and Christian supporters of Israel that constructive actions have to be taken beyond speeches and letter exchanges with academic officers, whose free speech doctrine and student activity programs are used by Palestinian supporters to fund events like the PennBDS.  Programs like the much criticized Olive Tree Initiative (OTI) at UC Irvine and several other UCal campuses are mindlessly funded in part by Jewish Federations.   

The UC Irvine OTI  and the Rose Project  of the Orange County, California Jewish Federation were caught  by  Jewish activists  of Ha’Emet -The Truth   funding  encounters for “confused students” with Israel's enemies in the disputed territories; Dr. Aziz Dweik, Hamas speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council , and  pro-Hamas Israel Arab MK, Ibrahim Sarsour.  As demonstrated in Marcus’ American Thinker article, Jewish Federations have allowed self-destructive pro-Palestinian Jewish advocates like J Street Chapters, B’Tselem and Jewish Voices for Peace to join local Jewish Community Relations Councils.   March 11th will mark yahrzeit (memorial service) for the five members of the Fogel Family murdered in their home in Israel.  The Philadelphia and other Jewish Federations, should follow the example of the Sarasota-Manatee Federation and sign the Fogel Pledge.  For a copy of the Fogel Pledge, see our March 2011 NER article, “A Pledge Against Self Destruction of American Jews.”
Posted on 02/06/2012 5:01 PM by Jerry Gordon
Monday, 6 February 2012
Meet Iran's Oil Minister Rustam Ghasemi
From The Financial Times:

Iran to cut oil exports to ‘hostile’ European states

Rostam Ghasemi Iran oil minister

Iran is planning to cut oil exports to hostile European states, to pre-empt an EU embargo due to come into force on July 1, but putting European people under pressure in winter is not the country’s goal, said oil minister Rostam Ghasemi.

“We will certainly cut [oil exports] to some European states,” Mr Ghasemi said on Saturday. But he gave no indication on timing nor did he identify which countries would be Iran’s target because of their “more hostile positions”.

Mr Ghasemi’s comments will fuel suspicions that the Islamic regime may only symbolically pre-empt the European Union oil embargo.

By hostile European states, Iran usually refers to Britain, France and Germany, which do not buy much of its oil and were behind last month’s move to impose an oil embargo and ban member states from buying Iranian oil.

The EU’s July deadline is intended to alow time for Greece, Spain and Italy, Iran’s biggest European customers, to find supplies from other oil producers such as Saudi Arabia, Russia and Iraq. Saudi Arabia, Iran’s main regional rival has said it can meet any shortage in the oil market.

Iran’s oil exports to Europe constitute 18 per cent of the country’s total sales The EU embargo is intended to put pressure on Iran halt a nuclear programme that western governments believe is for military purposes.

He said Iran would not retreat from its nuclear programme, should the EU oil embargo go ahead in July, but did not anticipate any tensions in the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway through which a third of the world’s seaborne oil trade passes.

“Even if we do not sell one barrel of oil, we will not take one step back from our demands in the face of US [pressure],” he said.

Some Iranian parliamentarians pushed for legislation to pre-empt the EU’s embargo to deprive European states of time to find substitute sources of oil, a move that would have affected the economically weak countries of southern Europe. But the oil ministry is believed to be against the move on the grounds that it would harm Iran more than Europe.

Mr Ghasemi denied there were any differences between the oil ministry and the parliament over Iran’s response to the sanctions.

He said he hoped the EU would “revise” its decision even though said exports to Europe were not a considerable figure in Irans’s oil production.

Mr Ghasemi said he had recently written to the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, urging member states “to observe each other’s rights” and he hoped Saudi Arabia would respond positively to the demand.

It is not clear yet which countries would be Iran’s new customers amid signs that some non-western customers, such as Japan, South Korea and Turkey, may also reduce their oil imports from Iran.

Mr Ghasemi is due to visit China, Iran’s largest oil buyer, in the next 10 days.

He told reporters that Iran would not give any discounts on its oil to China nor any other country and has not done it so far. He said Iran had not yet resorted to barter deals in face of problems in financial transactions but “if one day it is deemed necessary, it will not be a complicated issue”.

But so far, he said, oil revenues are transferred into the country through “different ways” and “numerous friends”.

Posted on 02/06/2012 7:16 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 6 February 2012
Northern paedophile groomers face disapproval at Crown Court Liverpool

We have posted several times about the gangs of Muslim men, mostly in towns in the north of England who groom then sexually abuse under-age English girls; rape, prostitution, even murder.

A ring of over 40 men were apprehended in small groups, over a period of time, in Rochdale last year. The Manchester Evening Press reported thus about one such group at the time.

Eleven men are to stand trial accused of being part of a sexual exploitation ring involving under-age girls.

Kabeer Hassan, 24, Abdul Aziz, 43, Abdul Rauf, 42, Mohammed Sajid, 34, Adil Khan, 41, Abdul Qayyum, 43, Mohammed Amin, 44, Qamar Shahzad, 29, Liaquat Shah, 41, and Hamid Safi, 21, appeared at Liverpool Crown Court charged with conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child under the age of 16.

They all pleaded not guilty along with a 58-year-old man who cannot be named for legal reasons. He also denied two counts of rape, aiding and abetting a rape and trafficking within the UK for sexual exploitation.

Hassan, of Lacrosse Avenue, Oldham, and Shahzad, of Tweedale Street, Rochdale, also denied rape. Aziz, of Armstrong Hurst Close, Rochdale, denied two counts of rape and one allegation of trafficking for sexual exploitation. Khan, of Oswald Street, and Rauf, of Darley Road, both in Rochdale, also denied trafficking for sexual exploitation

Aziz, Khan, Safi and the 58-year-old were remanded in custody until their trial at Liverpool Crown Court on February 6. Qayyum, of Ramsay Street, Rochdale, and the rest of the defendants were granted bail.

And that was the last anybody heard of it in the press. Information was received by the Casuals that the Liverpool Echo had been warned by police not to report on the case so as not to upset “community cohesion”. The date was not forgotten and some 150 members of the public, including members of the Casuals and the EDL attended outside the Crown Court Liverpool today to make their disapproval known. They were opposed by about 30 members of the UAF and Unite (believed to include officials of Liverpool Council) who are prepared to support paedophiles if the EDL are against paedophilia.

Those defendants who were allowed bail attempted to leave the court building for a smoke break this lunchtime. They were surrounded by protestors chanting “paedo scum” and they and their lawyers made their way back inside as quickly as possible. Despite the presence of news cameramen from Sky News and others there has been no mention of this on tonight’s news.

However the UAF lost many of their banners which were destroyed.

This woman in the Che Guavara headband and her long haired companion expressed no shame about their support for alleged paedophiles.

The court list available to the public had today’s hearing listed as a trial. Whether it will continue tomorrow or is adjourned to another date I do not yet know. One thing I do know, it will not be allowed to fade away quietly and un-noticed.

Posted on 02/06/2012 5:22 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax

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