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



















These are all the Blogs posted on Sunday, 8, 2011.
Sunday, 8 May 2011
Israel’s Memorial Day- Yom Hazikaron

At Shabbat services yesterday at my small synagogue here in Florida’s panhandle, Rabbi Israel Vana called me to the bimah to talk about Israel’s Memorial Day-Yom Hazikaron that starts tonight.  Rabbi Vana, a native Israeli of Yemenite Jewish heritage who had served in the 1973 October War knew firsthand the pain of comrades in arms who fought and died for Israel’s survival and security.  As noted in this Arutz Sheva- Israel National News report, “Memorial Day: Israel’s 22,867,” Israel’s Memorial Day recognizes those valiant members of the IDF who have fallen in battle or died while in service, as well as the more than 2,443 Israeli civilians, victims of Jihadi Islamic terrorism since the founding of the Jewish State 63 years ago.

Watch this elegiac You Tube video commemorating the valor of IDF members:

INN noted the commemorations that will start tonight and continue tomorrow and end with the onset of Israel’s Independence Day, Yom Ha’Atzmaut, which will begin Monday evening:

On Sunday evening, a siren will sound at 8PM to commemorate the fallen. Israelis across the country will stand in silence. After the silence, official memorial ceremonies will begin including the central one to be held at the Western Wall (Kotel). President Shimon Peres and IDF chief of Staff Benny Gantz will attend.

A second siren blast will sound the next morning. The main daytime event will be held at the Har Herzl military cemetery (Israel’s version of our Arlington National Cemetery), and will be attended by Peres and by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

In my remarks I noted the comments sent to me by email of a Connecticut friend and Korean War combat veteran, Professor Emeritus of Microbiology at Wesleyan University, William “Velvi” Firshein:

 A sobering reminder how much suffering defending Israel has cost the Israelis. I do remember that there were 6000 deaths [out of an initial population of 600,000 Jews when Independence was declared in May, 1948] in the war against the five Arab armies determined to wipe out Israel after Independence was declared. That would have been comparable to about 2 million deaths based on the US population at the time. And this does not include civilian deaths.

My friend “Velvi” Firshein referred to the statistics on widows, orphans, when he noted it was “also hard to contemplate unemotionally.”

The INN article gave the details:

There are currently 4,999 women in Israel who lost a husband to war. . .2,543 Israeli children who lost a parent in service and 3,252 couples and 4,315 individual parents who lost a child. In total 18, 361 people are currently defined as bereaved relatives of the first degree, a number which does not include the siblings of fallen soldiers.

In my remarks I noted that during the past year 183 members of the IDF had died, and 13 civilians murdered in terrorist actions, most recently five members of the Fogel family in the Jewish community in Samaria of Itamar, slaughtered by Jihadis from a neighboring Arab village.

I talked about my own experience of having visited the Israeli Military Cemetery on Mount Herzl walking among the gravestones, noting the stones  and flowers left by surviving loved ones in recognition that they had paid a visit to honor the memories of the valiant hero defenders of the Jewish state.

I shudder at the thought of how many more young men and women will fall defending the sovereignty of the Jewish State of Israel , America’s only trustworthy ally in the Middle East, surrounded by Jihadis seeking its destruction.  Ever vigilant, Israel announced that effective Midnight Saturday that it was sealing  the West Bank in anticipation of the Memorial and Independence Days commemorations. Immediately following the conclusion of Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial day, comes the celebration of life,  the 63rd anniversary of its Independence,  Yom Ha’ Atzmaut.  This gives hope that through strength and determination, Israel will survive and flourish as a vibrant democracy with a world class economy.  Kol Hakavod Yisroel!

Posted on 05/08/2011 12:34 AM by Jerry Gordon
Sunday, 8 May 2011
Criticism of of Anjem Choudary's invitation to Hay-on-Wye philosophy festival.

From Wales on Line

Anjem Choudary – who praises Osama bin Laden and insists Islam will rule the world – has been invited to talk at a leading philosophy and music festival in Hay-on-Wye.

The father of Bombardier Sam Robinson, who was killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) in Afghanistan last July aged 31, said Choudary’s invite to speak was a disgrace. Dennis Robinson, whose son was the 100th British soldier killed in the Sangin area of Afghanistan, said: “I think it is disgusting that someone who promotes terrorism should be given a platform to air views that are contrary to the general feeling of this country. It shows a blatant lack of respect to all those who are fighting against terrorism and to all those who have lost lives in doing so.”

Christine Williams, who was Ukip’s Mid and West Wales candidate in Thursday’s Assembly election, demanded that organisers of the HowTheLightGetsIn festival withdraw their invitation. “His views are vile and he is a disgrace,” she said. “I am sure that the organisers thought they were being oh so radical when they invited him, but their description of him is utterly mealy-mouthed. Describing him as ‘controversial’ is like calling smallpox an infection. This man does nothing but create anger and discord. The organisers should be ashamed of themselves.”

After bin Laden’s death at the hands of US special forces, Choudary insisted al-Qaeda “cannot be killed nor assassinated for it lives in the hearts and minds of all Muslims”. On Friday, he led prayers to the world’s most notorious man outside the US Embassy in London.

“Hence, in the coming days and weeks, we will no doubt see increased activities from the Mujahideen and more intense fighting in the battlefields of Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Chechnya.” He added: “Even if Osama bin Laden has died, the Jihad will never stop until the whole world is dominated by Islam because that is the promise of Allah!”

Festival director Hilary Lawson said pushing unpopular views underground is “irresponsible and dangerous”. She said: “Choudary will take part in two debates. The first, When Women Rule The World, asks what would a world where women were dominant be like, and what will happen to masculinity in a modern, matriarchal society? Choudary will be up against Oxford evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar and feminist journalist Julie Bindel. In States Of Emergency, he will consider whether terror is a new tool of war with revolutionary philosopher Ted Honderich, Sunday Times columnist Minette Marrin and former Taleban prisoner and Express reporter, Yvonne Ridley.

“Inviting controversial figures isn’t about selling tickets or causing outrage. Instead we aim to address current topics that are central to our lives.”

Choudary is allowed to hold unpopular views because we are a free society. Or we were a free society and we aspire to return to that state. Preaching treason on the streets of London, which is what he did on Friday, is beyond that. And on the subject of 'mealy mouthed descriptions' I would also like to see Yvonne Ridley described more accurately in more robust terms.

Posted on 05/08/2011 4:48 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 8 May 2011
Brave Copts Defend Christian Women and Guard Pope Shenouda III

Copts have swung into action after  an attack by Salafists on false rumors (taqiyya)  that a church was allegedly holding against their two Coptic women married to Christian clergy, including   a woman and her son, who the fomentors  contend are converts to Christianity.    That attack reported by CNN  resulted  in six Christians being killed and more than 120 injured.  The inflammatory allegations about the alleged 'conversion' of 100% Coptic Christian women, in this instance  Camelia Shehata   and her son Anton  have led to this latest  assault  on the minority Orthodox Christian community in post-Mubarak  Egypt with overt  Jihadist violence promoted by Salafist clerics.

Here is the AINA report  from Mary Abdelmassih on the cordon of protection by Copts  thrown around  St. Mark's Cathedral, the seat of  Coptic Pope Shenouda III  and the status of Ms. Shehata and her son, Anton.: "Egyptian Coptic Youth Protect Cathedral During Pope's Sermon."

 

(AINA) -- Egyptian police and armed forces were heavily deployed around St, Mark's Cathedral in Cairo yesterday as Coptic Pope Shenouda III delivered his weekly sermon to nearly 10,000 church members. The sermon was also attended by the media and Muslim journalists to show their opposition to the Salafis and the actions against the church. A large number of veiled Muslim women were also in attendance.

Hundreds of Coptic Christians also guarded the Cathedral. The Maspero Coptic Youth Federation announced they will guard the Cathedral until Friday because the Salafis warned they will stage this Friday another demonstration in front of it, to "free" the Christian converts to Islam whom the church detains.

Islamists websites had warned Copts not to attend today's sermon and had called for retaliatory action against the Cathedral during the sermon in response to the church's decision not to release Camellia Shehata, who Muslims believe has converted to Islam and is being held against her will.

The Pope's sermon was titled "Forgive" and stressed the virtue of being good to the offenders. The Pope said every human being sins, even the saints, and "forgive the people so that you are forgiven."

Thousands of Salafists staged a march to the cathedral last Friday to demand the appearance of Camellia Shehata and Wafaa Constantine, both wives of clergy, whom they claim converted to Islam. The church has denied they converted to Islam (AINA 4-30-2011). The prosecutor requested of the appearance of Camellia to investigate the claims that she was allegedly kidnapped and detained by the Church. She is expected to appear before them in the very near future.

"Camelia said she was 100% Christian, is proud of her religion, has not converted to Islam and never went to AlAzhar for conversion," said Dr. Naguib Gobraeel, her attorney. "She confirmed that she had had a misunderstanding with her husband, Father Tedaos, and left their home and stayed a few days with some relations, until friends and relatives intervened and reconciled them." Dr. Naguib Gobraeel said she now lives a quiet and happy life with her husband and her two and half year old son Anton in Cairo.

Gobraeel said he advised Camellia to appear in the media to refute the claims of her conversion to Islam and that she is being held by the church, but she refused. He added that Camellia told him that her biggest wish is to return to the simple life, like any normal Egyptian woman, away from the media and the dispute between Copts and Muslims regarding her.

 

 

 

 

Posted on 05/08/2011 9:53 AM by Jerry Gordon
Sunday, 8 May 2011
Sunday, 8 May 2011
Those Now Sidling Up To Hamas
From Haaretz.com:
  • 6.05.11

Hamas' useful idiots

These are the same people who consider Israel-supporting evangelical Christians apocalyptic extremists, yet applaud the legitimization of religious fascists.

By James Kirchick
 

The reconciliation pact signed between Fatah and Hamas on Wednesday is a disaster. A disaster for Israelis, who for years have suffered rocket attacks from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, and for their government, which waged a war on Hamas in late 2008 and early 2009 and has subsequently tried to weaken the Islamist movement's hold on the Strip via an unpopular blockade. And it's a disaster for the West, which has attempted to isolate Hamas with sanctions while giving billions of dollars in aid to the Palestinian Authority government in the West Bank.

But most of all, it is a disaster for the Palestinian people, who have seen their chances of achieving statehood suffer a serious blow. [what "Palestinian people"?]

You wouldn't know this from reading the upbeat reactions of those people outside the region who consider themselves friends of the Palestinian cause. "If the United States and the international community support this effort, they can help Palestinian democracy and establish the basis for a unified Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza that can make a secure peace with Israel," former President Jimmy Carter wrote in The Washington Post on Wednesday.

In that same paper on the same day, Robert Malley of the International Crisis Group suggested that, "Washington should at least refrain from reflexively viewing [a unity government] as a setback and seeking to undo it." Support for this agreement goes back years. In 2009, Peter Beinart wrote in Time magazine that Hamas was nothing less than "U.S. Diplomacy's Final Frontier."

Supporters of Hamas' inclusion in the Palestinian government base their case on the movement's victory in the 2006 Palestinian elections. The West refused to recognize the result because Hamas is a terrorist organization that has yet to accept the Quartet's preconditions for negotiations - namely, renouncing violence and recognizing Israel. None of this mattered to Hamas' useful idiots in the West, however, who have been echoing the organization's grievances since it fought its way to power in the Strip nearly four years ago.

In July 2007, a month after Hamas' violent Gaza coup, prominent unity government advocate Daniel Levy told the Daily Telegraph that, "For any process to have sustainability, legitimacy, and to guarantee security, it will have to be inclusive, not divisive, and to bring in Hamas over time." Levy called Hamas a "bulwark against al Qaeda."

That would surely be news to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, who this week earned the dubious distinction of being the most prominent person to denounce Osama bin Laden's killing. "We condemn the assassination ... of an Arab holy warrior," Haniyeh said. "We ask God to offer him mercy with the true believers and the martyrs."

Contrast Haniyeh's remorse to the reaction of Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad - the most honest man in Palestinian politics, deemed a "traitor" by Hamas, and whose remarkable state-building efforts in the West Bank could be destroyed by this unity agreement should he be replaced. He expressed his hope that bin Laden's death would "mark the beginning of the end of a very dark era." Given the ideological solidarity of Al-Qaida and Hamas, Haniyeh's response to the death of bin Laden ought to have come as no surprise.

Most perverse has been the attempt by the unity agreement's Western backers to conflate it with the democratic movements sweeping the Arab world. As soon as rumor of the agreement broke, the Guardian editorialized that, "The Arab spring has finally had an impact on the core issue of the region, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." Carter deemed the agreement the "Palestinian contribution to the "Arab awakening.'" Earlier this year, on the sidelines of the Al Jazeera Forum, Levy told an interviewer that, "Islamists are going to be part of this democratic tapestry. Deal with it. Put aside your prejudices."

Note that these are the very same people who consider Israel-supporting evangelical Christians apocalyptic extremists, yet applaud the empowerment and legitimization of actual, not imagined, religious fascists.

Hamas is everything that self-professed liberals should be "prejudiced" toward: obscurantist, misogynistic, anti-Semitic, warlike and rejectionist. It calls for the death of homosexuals and bans dancing. Its charter beckons Muslims to hunt down Jews from "behind rocks and trees," claims that Muslims "have no escape from raising the banner of Jihad" and, in a prescient use of the rhetoric that has since united the radical Western left and the reactionary Islamic right, accused Jews of "Nazism." It picks fights with Israel that result in the needless deaths of Palestinian civilians. It could end the blockade in Gaza tomorrow if it wanted to, simply by laying down arms, renouncing terrorism and accepting Israel's right to exist - but no amount of Palestinian suffering will ever cause it to do so.

This unity deal breathes new life not only into Palestinian rejectionists but Israeli ones as well. A gift to the Israeli right, a unity government with Hamas will only strengthen the claims of Yisrael Beiteinu and Shas that there is no Palestinian partner for peace and thus no reason for making further concessions. Palestinian unity is indeed a prerequisite for a two-state solution, but it's fair to ask at what price that unity should come. Israelis, the majority of whom have long supported a two-state solution, cannot be expected to make deals with an organization constitutionally bound to the genocide of Jews.

Ever since it won the 2006 election, Hamas' apologists in the West have advocated for the terrorist group's inclusion in a Palestinian government. They have finally achieved their goal. But it will be the people of the region - the Palestinians most of all - who will reap the disastrous consequences of the credulity these useful idiots have sown.

Posted on 05/08/2011 2:04 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 8 May 2011
Pakistani Leader: Killing Of Bin Laden Second Greatest Tragedy In History Of Pakistan
From AKI:  

Bin Laden killing 'second biggest' national tragedy after loss of East Pakistan in 1971 war

 May 6, 2011


Islamabad, 6 May (AKI) - By Syed Saleem Shahzad - Pakistani opposition leader Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan reacted to the killing of Osama bin Laden by American special forces by declaring the act a national tragedy and demanding the resignation of many of Pakistan's top leaders.

 

 

Much of Pakistan's mood can be described as deeply shocked by the 2 May raid on bin Laden's compound by an American Navy SEAL team in the upscale town of Abbotabad. The operation was reputedly carried out without the knowledge of Pakistani authorities because of the suspicion by Washington that they could tip off the Al-Qaeda leader.

Mass demonstrations in Pakistan were called for Friday to protest the killing of bin Laden, while the country's biggest Islamist political party, Jamaat-e-Islami, called for protests s against what it said was a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty by the US raid.

The operation has further strained relations between the US and Pakistan as some American officials say that bin Laden could not have been living in a relatively luxurious mansion close to capital Islamabad without the knowledge of authorities. At the same time, many Pakistani's are indignant at the accusations and angry over a perceived breach of sovereignty by the Navy SEAL squad.

Some 1,500 Pakistani Islamists demonstrated on Friday against bin Laden's killing near Quetta, saying he other figuressimilar to him would emerge to wage holy war against the US.

Pakistani foreign secretary Salman Bashir on Thursday warned of "disastrous consequences" if the US staged a similar attack on its territory.

Posted on 05/08/2011 2:22 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 8 May 2011
"Et La Grèce, Ma Mère, Où Le Miel Est Si Doux" Or, You Shouldn't Rest On Your Laurels Quand Les Lauriers Sont Coupés

Greece: 'Only tourism can save our bankrupt land'

With debts of €340bn, Greece is turning to its cultural heritage to attract a better class of visitor and make tourism the engine of the Greek economy

Mykonos
Tourists relax on Mykonos. Photograph: Rene Mattes/ Rene Mattes/Hemis/Corbis

You come to Delos by way of its ancient harbour. This, one suspects, is just as Apollo would have wished. For it is here, under the shade of a palm, that they say the god of light was born. Far removed from the merry-go-round that is Athens – or the fears over Greece's economic plight that have reached fever pitch – the uninhabited isle is afforded a reverence that few others know.

But for those braving the wind-swept seas on a Delos-bound ferry from Mykonos last week, there was no escaping the realisation that that crisis has also reached these hallowed parts. With litter bobbing on a film of filth off its beaches, its museum shop flooded and closed, and treasures – including the island's famous lions – consigned to a building blighted by cracks, cobwebs and rusty scaffolding, the signs were hard to ignore. Lack of staff meant most of the gems had been roped off.

"What can I say?" spluttered Fani Iosifidou, one of three employees guarding the site's myriad, poppy-strewn temples, mosaics and statues. "The culture ministry was meant to dispatch more personnel at the beginning of the season but we're still waiting. There are simply not enough of us here. If we don't close off that space," she said, pointing to the lions, "people go and sit on them. It's a terrible thing."

The economic crisis that has engulfed Europe's periphery – peaking with reports, flatly denied by the government, that Athens was poised to exit the eurozone and reinstate the drachma as its currency – is hitting at the heart of the debt-stricken country where it first erupted. A year to the week after receiving rescue loans worth €110bn, the biggest bailout in western history, austerity-plagued Greece is still struggling to stave off economic collapse.

Amid frenzied speculation that it will soon have no choice but to restructure a debt load estimated at €340bn and climbing, eurozone finance ministers announced that they would meet to discuss whether Athens needs even more aid – a scenario bound to send further tensions through the EU.

But for the Greeks, who have dismissed the suggestion of a euro exit as a "joke", the answer lies closer to home – in tourism, a sector that accounts for one out of five jobs and 18% of GDP.

Even as places like Delos struggle to make the best of their antiquities and museums, there is a growing recognition that economic recovery lies with a sector that for far too long has relied on tour operators and cheap mass travel.

And in order to lure visitors, there is a sense for the first time that the nation must tap into its immense cultural wealth – a heritage too often neglected – as well as its natural beauty.

"Tourism can be the star of development … a model for economic development," said the socialist prime minister, George Papandreou, in a keynote speech to industry figures. "The reputation of our country is strengthened when the wealth of our monuments is displayed and when it is associated with myth, history, tradition, Greek produce and Greek diet."

Cultural riches could be promoted by being listed with the world heritage convention, the prime minister added, citing the case of Spinalonga, the Venetian fortress-turned-leper colony off Crete that was immortalised by the British novelist Victoria Hislop in her bestseller, The Island.

"Spinalonga is an example of the wealth we have around us, that we either don't know or have no idea about promoting in a proper and organised way," he said.

From the rolling hills of Arcadia to the plains of Macedonia and sun-baked palaces of Crete, examples of the thwarted efforts of cash-strapped Greek authorities to showcase that wealth are two a penny.

In provincial towns and islands, museums have been closed. For places like Plato's Academy, the world's first university, in the heart of Athens, funds have been so scarce that officials have been unable even to afford basic signs. With Greece mired in recession not seen since the reintroduction of democracy in 1974, and Athens's historic centre so crime-ridden that even its mayor recently conceded that he felt unsafe at night walking its streets, Papandreou's targets, then, might seem a bit of a pipe dream.

But the US-born premier is not without ambition. Greece, he says, should aim to become one of the "10 best" destinations in the world. To this end, he has gone out of his way to improve the country's image abroad.

Last year, the government banished visa requirements for non–EU citizens, waived landing and take-off fees for aircraft at airports nationwide and took steps to facilitate foreign investment in a sector that, like so many others, has been afflicted by corruption, cronyism and lack of competitiveness – the very ills that helped bring Greece to its knees. Last week, Papandreou announced plans to cut the price of costly ferry tickets.

The measures appear to be paying off. In a reversal of several lean years, Greece is bracing for a bumper season, with popular Ionian islands, like Zakynthos, reporting a 200% increase in the number of visitors over Easter. Bookings by Britons have shot up by 20%, according to Thomas Cook, as tourists who might normally go to Egypt and Tunisia have opted for the Aegean islands instead. "Suddenly Greece is all the rage," said a spokesman from the company. "It's set for a comeback."

For the first time, too, the country looks set to be besieged by visitors from neighbouring Turkey, as well as Russia, China and India, following the lifting of visa restrictions. Despite its dire public finances, Athens will stage the Special Olympics, a unique sports event for the intellectually disabled that is expected to bring in around 40,000 tourists over two weeks in June.

The hope is that a reinvigoration of the tourism sector – regarded as a heavy industry in a country that produces little else – will not only increase jobs but overturn the prevailing mood of uncertainty that, as in Portugal, has also seized Greeks. Unemployment, as a result of stringent austerity measures imposed in exchange for aid from the EU and IMF, recently topped an unprecedented 15%, with a disproportionate number of young Greeks affected.

"If Greece became one of the 10 best destinations in the world, the sector would account for 20% of GDP and provide one in four jobs," said Andreas Andreadis, the newly installed president of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises. "Then it would really be the engine of the Greek economy."

But officials also know that the hoary image of Greece as a sun, sand and sea destination brimming with smiling Zorbas no longer works and that the country will have to diversify. Arrivals might be up but revenues show only a slight increase due to discounts and special offers that hoteliers have been forced to offer to attract tourists.

"The country needs to be rebranded," said Andreadis. "The Greece that we Greeks know, the Greece of the mountains and hills, countryside and sea, is simply not promoted."

As the first of the spring flowers burst into life on Delos, its keepers couldn't agree more. In recent years inadequate protection has seen a flow of priceless objects being filched from the site.

"Delos is a world-class venue but it only has three guards to protect it at night and three during the day," lamented Mykonos's mayor, Athanasios Kousathanas-Megas, who has administrative control over the island.

For years, he says, locals have pleaded with the culture ministry to restore the island's ancient theatre beyond the villas and temples that look onto its ancient port.

"If it were restored and performances held, Delos, the island of Apollo, could come alive again," he says. "We Greeks may not have much money but we have pride. Our ancient heritage is our identity and it can help us get through this crisis."

 

Moral: You Shouldn't Rest On Your Laurels Quand Les Lauriers Sont Coupés

Posted on 05/08/2011 5:14 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 8 May 2011
On Memorial Day, We Are All Israelis

By Hillel Kuttler

Tonight through Monday, Israelis commemorate Yom HaZikaron, the annual Memorial Day for soldiers killed in the country’s defense. Traditionally, soldiers’ parents, spouses, siblings, children, grandchildren and friends attend somber ceremonies in their towns and sit graveside to mourn and reflect. They recite prayers and lamentations for the 22,867 lives extinguished and potential unrealized, but also for their own loves lost, smiles banished and hearts punctured.

It is a day whose immense suffering cannot be avoided, even by plugging one’s ears when sirens sound this evening and then again in the morning. A quarter-century later, my mind can readily conjure the image of the sobbing mother who prostrated herself on her son’s grave in Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl Military Cemetery. The faces of parents interviewed each year on commemorative programs and documentaries project deep pain and agony.

Worse yet is the surety that some Israeli television spectators will themselves become the grieving interviewees and cemetery visitors of Memorial Day 2012 and beyond. The country loses its best and brightest year after year, decade upon decade, to enemies who continue to challenge the Jewish state’s existence.

It is said that every Jewish household in Israel either mourns a loved one or knows someone who suffered a loss. But those in uniform are hardly the only lives cut down. Memorial Day also commemorates the civilians killed in terrorism attacks: more than 1,500 Israelis since the era of peace supposedly began with the signing of the Oslo Accord with the PLO in 1993. Like the soldiers killed, the murder of Israeli civilians shows no sign of abating. Those who hate Jews enough to kill them — to kill us — care little for civilization’s rules of engagement or for the formality of uniforms and battlefields. Israelis wearing jeans and shopping for hummus in Haifa are equally worthy targets to homicidal Jew-haters.

And that’s what the hatred and delegitimization of Israel, the stabbing and exploding of Israelis, is all about. It’s not about Israelis’ laundry (fatigues as opposed to t-shirts) or precisely where they walk when the end comes (Israel proper as opposed to the West Bank). It’s about Israel’s and Israelis’ very existence. Every Israeli has a red circle painted on his or her back. Thus, the day’s all-encompassing nature.

The circles on the calendar are as intimately connected as Israelis are to each other. Precisely one week ago was the annual observation of Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes’ Remembrance Day) to mark the ultimate catastrophe to befall the Jewish people, a nightmare that should have settled once and for all the need for a safe, secure, sovereign and recognized state in the Jews’ ancestral homeland. In the eyes of Israel’s enemies, though, it has not. The Shoah continues to be denied, minimized or relegated to the rear-view mirror by much of even the civilized world. Were its lessons sufficiently absorbed, Israel would be infinitely safer and the numbers of victims mourned each Memorial Day would not be increasing.

The thing is, though, that even Israel’s friends don’t effectively grasp the connection between the two commemorations.

If they did, they — England, France, Germany, the United States and others — would reflexively and intuitively (rather than conditionally and inconsistently) back Israel and its laudatory society in its continued struggle for security and peace.  They would follow the moral lead of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who last November told the Ottawa Conference on Combating Anti-Semitism: "[W]hen Israel, the only country in the world whose very existence is under attack, is consistently and conspicuously singled out for condemnation, I believe we are morally obligated to take a stand. Demonization, double standards, delegitimization, the three D’s — it is the responsibility of us all to stand up to them. ... [A]s long as I am Prime Minister, whether it is at the UN or the Francophonie or anywhere else, Canada will take that stand, whatever the cost."

If they did, perhaps Palestinian terrorists would question their assumptions (similar to Hitler’s assumptions) that Jewish blood is cheap.

If they did, such united, sustained support would project to Israel’s enemies that the West and the Jewish state are in this together: that the July 7, 2005, London subway attack and the August 9, 2001, bombing of Jerusalem’s Sbarro restaurant (to cite just two examples) were equally reprehensible Islamic attacks on the West rather than distinguishable by the excuses made to explain and justify terrorists’ murder of Israelis.

If they did, such obscenities as the 2009 Goldstone Report would gain no diplomatic traction, and the provocateurs behind last May’s blatantly anti-Israel Turkish flotilla stunt (again, to cite just two of many examples) would have been condemned.

“Today in the West there is a faulty conscience — indifferent to the parade of young Palestinians putting on explosive belts, the daily demonization inflicted on Jews in the Arab world, the crowds delirious over the lynching of two Jewish soldiers who had lost their way and whose dismembered bodies were displayed as trophies,” Italian journalist Giulio Meotti writes so powerfully in his heartbreaking and very necessary book, A New Shoah: The Untold Stories of Israel’s Victims of Terrorism. “This faulty conscience has obliterated the fate of thousands of Israelis murdered because they were Jews; it has erased one of the reasons for Israel’s existence.”

As Memorial Day begins in Israel, I believe that the rest of the civilized world must project solidarity by issuing a clear, unwavering and very firm message to the country’s detractors and enemies: “It took us far too long, but we are onto you. This is a black-and-white issue of conscience: Attacks against Israelis are as vile and intolerable as attacks against our own people. We unconditionally support Israel’s steps to prevent further murders, because we concur with her that Jewish blood is not cheap. You have not intimidated Israel, and you will not intimidate us in our defense of a fellow democracy. We will not cower before you.”

Better yet would be the more succinct: “Today, and every day, we are all Israelis.”

Hillel Kuttler is an American freelance writer-editor. He may be reached at [email protected].

Posted on 05/08/2011 3:15 PM by Hillel Kuttler
Sunday, 8 May 2011
A Musical Interlude: You Turned The Tables On Me (Benny Goodman Orch., voc. Helen Ward)

Listen here.

Posted on 05/08/2011 5:32 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 8 May 2011
Table Tournante

Posted on 05/08/2011 7:50 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 8 May 2011
In Cairo, It's The Arab Spring

From the Los Angeles Times:

12 dead in Muslim-Christian clashes in Egypt

Riot police disperse crowds outside a Cairo church burned by Muslim mobs. The violence raises questions about minority rights and Egypt's transition to democracy.

By Jeffrey Fleishman, Los Angeles Times

May 9, 2011

 

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Gunfire rang out as a priest and his congregation prayed Sunday inside a church that hours earlier had been set on fire by a Muslim mob in a wave of deadly sectarian violence [not "sectarian violence" but attacks by Muslims on Christians]  threatening Egypt's aspirations for a new democracy.

Riot police fired into the air to disperse the crowd outside the Virgin Mary Church in an impoverished neighborhood of Cairo. The noise startled about 30 Coptic Christians who had spent the morning sweeping up charred vestments and burned Scriptures after a night of clashes that left 12 people dead and more than 230 wounded.

"Welcome to hell," said Samuel Maher, standing in the scorched vestibule as a woman wept nearby in a pew beneath a melted ceiling fan. Congregants leaned against blackened walls in disbelief as Father Metias, a wooden cross in his hand, spoke into the light of a TV camera about the intensifying danger of sectarian hatred.

"A lot of Muslims and extremists are being manipulated in the name of religion," said Father Metias, who goes by one name. "They come to attack us after they are brainwashed and incited against us."

The bloodshed unnerved the country's military-led government. Acting Prime Minister Essam Sharaf canceled a trip to the Persian Gulf and called an emergency Cabinet session to deal with the crisis. The army said the 190 people arrested in the clashes would face military tribunals as a "deterrent to all those who think of toying with the potential of the nation."

The sharp rise in tensions come as ultraconservative Islamists have grown emboldened after the fall of President Hosni Mubarak in February. Attacks on Christians also point to the government's failure to establish law and order by rebuilding police and security forces. The deepening religious intolerance is hurting Egypt's image and further jeopardizing tourism and foreign investment. About 5,000 Copts staged a sit-in Sunday night in downtown Cairo demanding an end to persecution.

Copts make up about 10% of Egypt's population and have coexisted with Muslims for generations. Violence against Christians, however, became more pronounced last year after Muslim gunmen killed six parishioners outside a church in southern Egypt. In January, at least 21 people died in a church bombing in Alexandria. The attacks suggested that Mubarak's police state couldn't — or chose not to — stem extremist Islamic elements.

Mistrust between religions has spread since Mubarak was forced from power. Ultraconservative Islamists, known as Salafis, have taken to streets and mosques with fiery rhetoric. Stores selling alcohol have been attacked and a man accused of befriending prostitutes had an ear cut off by radicals. Muslim crowds stopped trains and protested in April against the appointment of a Christian governor in the southern region of Qena.

"This hatred is not new, but before, the Salafis were afraid of Mubarak's police," said David Saleeb, standing outside the Virgin Mary Church, a cross tattooed on his forearm. "But now there is no security and they are free to attack. They want to turn this neighborhood into a place of Sharia law. They want full control."

A Muslim nearby spoke the sentiments of many here by spinning out conspiracies behind the bloodshed.

"I've lived here 30 years and there have been no problems," said Hassan Ibrahim. "But people are trying to create trouble. Egypt is rising in power and this may not be in the interests of the U.S. and Israel. These things can be exploited by the Salafis or even former members of Mubarak's ruling par
ty."[the usual conspiracy theories that always arise to explain away Musilm violence toward non-Muslims]

The violence that erupted in the littered, pocked streets of the Imbaba neighborhood began Saturday evening when rumor spread that a Christian woman who converted to Islam after marrying a Muslim had been abducted and was being held in the Church of St. Mena. There was no proof that there was a woman in the church, but interfaith marriages have sparked a number of clashes in recent years.

One of incident involved Camilia Shehata, the wife of a Coptic priest. Salafis alleged for months that she had tried to leave her husband to become a Muslim but was locked inside a monastery. On Saturday, hours before the clashes in Imbaba, Shehata appeared on a television show saying she was "born a Christian and would die a Christian."

Hundreds of Copts hurried to protect the Church of St. Mena against growing crowds of Muslims. Gunfire erupted. Coptic homes and shops were attacked and gasoline bombs hurled. A group of Muslim men reportedly broke off later and headed toward the Virgin Mary Church. They burned it and clashed with parishioners for hours.

By morning, riot police and soldiers had surrounded Virgin Mary, pushing back onlookers and occasionally firing into the air to break up Christian and Muslims crowds. Cellphone cameras were pointed at the church's scorched walls. Parishioners slipped through security lines and toward the scent of smoke and soggy, black bags of debris stacked near a pew.


Father Metias, who had led a Mass earlier, sat in a blackened corner. A husband and wife held hands. A woman screamed. A child sobbed. Gunshots echoed and the small band of followers rushed toward the burned door but then hurried back inside, not knowing where was safer.

"It's an absolute mess," said Rania Roushdy, a parishioner at Virgin Mary for 20 years, who stood in the ashes with tears in her eyes. "We can't protect ourselves. Every time we call for foreign help they tell us to be quiet. These Islamists want a country without Christians. But we will never stop coming to this church, even if they turn it into empty land."

Samuel Maher stood in the dim light with stained hands and a tired face. He and other men put the fire out at 4 a.m. The firefighters arrived late and were scared and inexperienced. The men in the neighborhood, he said, took their hoses and fought the blaze themselves.

"When the crowd came there were five or six men dressed like Salafis, wearing beards. The rest were dressed normally," Maher said. "They started shooting into the air to chase people away. They broke in and burned four of the five floors. We found one dead man, the caretaker. He had been shot and burned."

Posted on 05/08/2011 7:54 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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