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The Real Nature of Religion
by Rebecca Bynum
As Far As The Eye Can See
by Moshe Dann
Threats of Pain and Ruin
by Theodore Dalrymple
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
















Friday, 30 November 2007
IPO Announcement
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"Roobart Sbunsar" mentioned his Russian connection, and mentioned the poet Naum Korzhavin. Speaking of whom, I just caught sight of Korzhavin walking on the Arbat, accompanied by his wife (he has lost his vision but his amazing knowledge -- with so much recallable by heart, long ago learned naizust'--of Russian poetry remains intact) and admirers. He must be on a visit here from his home in New England.

Why am I on the Arbat, you ask? Well, I came to the Millionaire's Fair to try to sell stock in myself, but had no takers. Turns out Russians do not see the Islamic handwriting on their southern wall. And I'm not turning out to be good at this game of self-fundraising that everyone else seems to be a past master at. I tried to explain, to at least one person in the hall, that I'm a good investment, with lots of upside potential, and while Kleiner, Perkins might not see what I meant by that, free-spending Russian ought to be able to, and if if they knew what was good for them they'd buy a share or fifty or a hundred, of me. But those who came to this grotesque event were not like the Russian rich in olden days, the Prince Bolkonskys or Volkonskys, chudaks who would willingly support on the estate or in town into a private theatre, or even a private orchestra (of serfs, bien entendu). No, these latter-day Russian rich were all too busy kicking the tires of the private planes and the Porsches. Hardly the maecenases of yore, the Shchukins and Morozovs and, in emigre exile, the tragic Fondaminskys, the wife dying before the husband, and the husband then murdered by the Germans. I once held in my hands a private memorial volume that Fondaminsky had put out in honor of his wife, a volume owned and signed by Bunin, part of the stock of the book-dealer Aleksey Struve, brother to Gleb and son of the Legal Marxist Ptyor. Alas, I couldn't afford it. That volume has, no doubt, ended up in the clutches of the relentless collector Guerra, like so much else, unless Guerra himself has now died.

Maybe I'll pitch the woo that went over so badly here at the Millionaire's Fair in Moscow back in the United States, or possibly right at this site. For all I know, a visitor here, or a relative of that visitor who has been properly alerted, will find the notion appealing. So Sergey Brin won't be visiting, but what about Sergey Brin's intelligent parents, who ought to teach their son about where to put his money? Okay, here goes.

So here's the IPO. Only $500 per share, and bound, like shares in Google, to go ever upwards. And just think, you can even give a share, or ten or a hundred shares, as a Christmas present. Or as a wedding gift, the kind never to be listed on those wish-lists provided by brides-in-waiting as visions of light-blue Tiffany boxes dance in their heads. Or it could be a cadeau de rupture, and you know that Breaking Up Is Hard To Do. Or possibly for a young girl, in her Confirmation Dress, or a boy, as a Bar Mitzvah gift. Yes, instead of "My son, today you are a fountain pen" you can say, especially if you are a lawyer, "My son, today you are, in pertinent part, Hugh Fitzgerald." He won't understand at the time. But someday he will.

Think about it. You know that wolf that keeps hanging round my kitchen door? I'd like to send him permanently packing.

And you know how some of those IPOs pan out, don't you?

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Posted on 11/30/2007 3:16 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Friday, 30 November 2007
Sudanese Teddy Bear Riots
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Protesters set fire to a photograph of Gillian Gibbons.

Blacks may be persecuted by the Arabs -- or rather, by those who, although they may indeed be black Africans, have been taught, having assumed Arab names and identities, to think of themselves as "Arabs" and thus superior to the blacks whom they are then taught to despise -- but they are also, in Khartoum, Muslims.

Are those depicted in this picture "Arabs" or "non-Arab blacks"? It depends on how they are regarded in Khartoum, and how they regard themselves. Indeed, that tiresome notion of race not existing but being merely a "social construction," if it fits anywhere, would fit the situation in the Sudan. That doesn't mean, by the way, that all black Africans can simply declare themselves Arabs and stop the war being made on them, especially in Darfur. But the clear-cut obvious delimitation between "Arab" and "non-Arab black African" here cannot be made always and everywhere.

In any case, this crowd with the BBC describing it, bizarrely, as "good-natured" -- yes, good-natured screaming for someone's good-natured decapitation -- is united in one thing. They are all Muslims, behaving as they think it right and proper for Muslims to behave, demanding what they think is right and proper for Muslims to demand.

There is nothing else that need, about that crowd, to be said.

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Posted on 11/30/2007 2:27 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Friday, 30 November 2007
A Musical Interlude: After You've Gone
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Posted on 11/30/2007 1:44 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Friday, 30 November 2007
Jacques Barzun: A Stamp, A Coin, A Presidential Proclamation
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A stamp, a coin, a presidential proclamation.

Yes, he'd be utterly indifferent to them all. But I wouldn't be, nor would you. I'd like to envelope my letters with a tutelary touch of Barzun in its franking, and would willingly kiss the lips of that unacquainted change, and find it fitting that American schoolchildren should listen in the serried ranks of their classroom desks to that presidential decree read out by the teacher, so that as they grow up some of them will find that name recallable, and will indeed recall it, and then in some cases be prompted to read the books by, and learn to appreciate, and to heed, that clear-headed and eloquent teacher and scholar, that phenomenon, Jacques Barzun.  

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Posted on 11/30/2007 11:09 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Friday, 30 November 2007
The "Solution" Metaphor, And What It Precipitates
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When something is described as a "problem" modern American man -- along with others in this U.N.-conferencing and busily resolutioning world -- immediately thinks there must be a "solution." Many things are not susceptible of "solution" in the sense of puzzle-solving, final resolve. Did World War II forever cause Fascism, or antisemitism, to disappear? Did the outcome of the Cold War, and Gorbachov's reforms, and Yeltsin's drunken-stupor breakup of the Soviet Union, cause communism to disappear? No, but at the moment they are manageable. Was Dickensian capitalism modified, or is it coming back, with a vengeance, in China? And what about Islam, with its immutable texts and tenets, and the amazing large-scale presence of Muslims now allowed, voluntarily, deep within the Lands of the Infidels, after 1350 years of Islamic aggression, tamed or tamped down only when the other side was irrefutably stronger? Is there a "solution" to that problem, or only steps taken to ameliorate the situation, and to deprive Islam's adherents of the wherewithal (weapons of mass destruction) to do great damage, and to halt and reverse the Muslim presence -- a permanent danger -- in the Lands of the Infidels?

As to that word "solution" -- it might be taken in a different sense. The "solution" in which something potentially solid, something that could precipitate out, is held. And there is that possibility of what is in solution, at some point, for reasons that would in each case have to be analyzed, precipitating out.

This very discussion of the word "solution" and indeed, of how metaphors affect us, can be found in the book on Metaphors by George Lakoff with someone else whose name now escapes me. Lakoff, who has written on the capture of language by Republicans, and urged the Democrats to go and do likewise, but better, would, were he reading this site, I suspect be first amused and intrigued, but also confused. For in the environment he is used to, and possibly cannot sufficiently distance himself from (or perhaps he can, perhaps I'm dead wrong), a site such as this has an easy label immediately and permanently affixed to is, something in the "conservative" or "right-wing" line, and that label sticks, even if it bears no relation to the reality. This site has provided the most ferocious, relentless, and unanswerable criticism of the war in Iraq, for example. But it is also a site that offers the most ferocious, relentless, and unanswerable criticism of the Total System that is Islam. And there are too many people, of the kind normally likely to be familiar with Lakoff's book on Metaphor and how metaphors do more than express but also mold our understanding of things, who will like the first, but deplore -- without investigating the nature, and therefore the menace, of Islam -- the second.

Tant pis., one might be tempted to answer. Except, of course, that it is all of us who are affected, in the Bilad al-Kufr, by the inroads of Islam.

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Posted on 11/30/2007 11:03 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Friday, 30 November 2007
Black And White And Red All Over
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So according to Secretary of State Rice both sides -- the Israelis and the "Palestinians" (that is, the Jews and the Arabs) are, at the same time, both blacks and whites in the Jim Crow south. Yes, they are both "black and white." And for that remark she should be red all over.

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Posted on 11/30/2007 10:57 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Friday, 30 November 2007
Groupies
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Our resident jesting pilot has complained that he doesn't get any groupies. What are you talking about? Here they are, albeit second hand:

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Posted on 11/30/2007 10:53 AM by Mary Jackson
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Friday, 30 November 2007
Richard Dawkins, Or, The Credulous Skeptic
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It may be dawning on Dawkins that his equal-opportunity dismissal of all religions was naive, and dangerous. Islam is a menace unlike any other, and Dawkins' belief that all religions are essentially the same in their message and in their goodness or badness puts him right smack in the same camp as George Bush, right in the same galere. Does he want that?

Dawkins may, if he now starts to find out about Islam -- perhaps has a little chat with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wafa Sultan, Ibn Warraq (whose first book he claims to admire), even come to regret his stupid and unsympathetic and ahistorical remarks about Israel and the attempts, sometimes maladroit, and always misunderstood, of that tiny state to resist the steady diplomatic, economic, propagandistic, and when possible military attacks and pressure on it, part of a Lesser Jihad. -- based on his credulous acceptance of what has been daily dripping from the BBC and The Guardian and The Independent and from the lips of "everyone" he knows in Oxford and London, during the last few decades. He might exercise a bit more of that skepticism on which he prides himself, start learning about Islam, really learning, and then about the history of non-Arab and non-Muslim peoples in the Middle East, and then even study such things as the cadastraland demographic records, and travellers' accounts, of that part of the Ottoman Empire that later became Mandatory Palestine. And then he might study that Mandate itself, and what it was set up to accomplish, and why. And then further he might start asking himself when the phrase "Palestinian people" started so suddenly to be used, and why.

Oh, there are lots of questions that Richard Dawkins, with his remarks about "the Jews" to a recent "Humanists Convention," might begin to ask himself, perhaps beginning to understand that if skepticism is good, then it should even be applied to the BBC, the Guardian, Robert Fisk, and so on.

Or is he limited in the areas to which he will apply such skepticism, and in which he is willing to inquire further, and then further still?

One waits, and wonders.

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Posted on 11/30/2007 10:49 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Friday, 30 November 2007
The Dunmow Flinch, Or, Bringing Home The Bacon
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Hugh, you say: "And we all thought it was just jesting Pilate who said 'there is no such thing as truth.' "

However Pilate's words were "What is truth?" Pilate was responding to Jesus' words "You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice."

There is no indication that Pilate took this issue in a jesting manner. Neither should we. --from a reader

My comment on Pilate relied on a recognition of a line that begins an essay by Francis Bacon: "What is truth? said jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer." I took the "jesting," and then played fast and loose with the truth of "what is truth," changing it to "there is no such thing as the truth" to update it to these academic days and daze, when some teach that "there is no such thing as the truth" which is, like (gender, race, your-most-troubling-category here) is "socially constructed" or "constructed" in some other way, but most definitely isn't there to be found, located, arrived at, and then held up for inspection, tested and re-tested for its efficacy in explaining both the data already collected, and data that will be collected in the future.

Just a joke, by a jesting pilot, in my little Cessna that for some reason never gets off the ground. Possibly I'll have to re-attach a wing, or two.

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Posted on 11/30/2007 10:40 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Friday, 30 November 2007
Not Both The Same
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Errata Sheet:

"Hugh Fitzgerald is combative, bombastic, verbose, undeniably prolific, and thoroughly, THOROUGHLY entertaining." --a reader

Well, I'd strike "bombastic" and "verbose" as not being the right words, not expressing what I know you are attempting to express. But that's okay.

The main point is that to assume that two clearly distinct individuals must be one, just because one of those two does not put up a photograph of himself, for someone's delectation, is absurd. When was the last time you saw a photograph of Ibn Warraq? Or of another dozen people who write about Islam in ways not likely to please Al-Qaradawi? Does one have some kind of obligation to do so? Why?

Robert Spencer and I clearly have different interetss (he's interested in Islam, and I'm bored silly by Islam), in books, in music, in art, in all kinds of things. He believes in God. I don't. What more do you want by way of distinguishing features. And surely only someone with a tin ear could conceivably mistake the prose of one for the prose of the other.

Nope, no multiple personalities or would-be Pessoas round here.

Of course, Robert does get all the groupies, while I sit at home by the telephone, waiting. But that's another story.

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Posted on 11/30/2007 10:33 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Friday, 30 November 2007
Good Natured Crowds
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"On Sky News Kay Burley was talking to an independent reporter (Rob Crilly) in Khartoum who said that the demonstration was quite ugly and that people had gestured to him by making slitting throat actions across their necks. He said he had to leave the area. He also mentioned that the Sufi sect of Islam were the ones runing the protest (their flags were seen)...Then switch to BBC 1 news. Adam Mynott claimed that the demonstrations were small in number and "good natured". --from a reader

Here are some pictures from "This is London" of what the BBC described as a small and "good-natured" group of demonstrators. Imagine yourself sitting in a Sudanese jail, and from your small window you can see those "good-natured" demonstrators, wielding their swords and calling good-naturedly for you to be good-naturedly decapitated.

"Good-natured." Lots of joshing in the crowd, out for a good time. What a relief.

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Posted on 11/30/2007 10:24 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Friday, 30 November 2007
The Teddy Bear Incident
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This is the kind of incident -- with one potential victim, and that victim in this case a 54-year-old schoolteacher who, newly arrived in Sudan, and naive as so many about Islam, meets with the primitive nature of Islam.

For we can all recognize, instantly grasp, the teacher's innocence, just as we could all see the innocence of those Bulgarian nurses held for eight years by the Libyans, raped and tortured and threatened repeatedly with execution. And we know the story, of how she allowed her little seven-year-old charges to vote on the name they wanted to give the little teddy bear, little seven-year-old Muslim children not yet sufficiently brainwashed into every element of Islam, just the way some of the younger children, the American soldiers in Iraq have found, are still....still touchingly sweet, human, recognizable in their behavior, even genuinely friendly and grateful. But just give those children a little time, a little more socializing into Islam, a few more years learning from their elders, and soon enough learn to be otherwise, learn to be shifty meretricious, hostile to those American soldiers handing them candy, soccer balls, whatever else those American soldiers, Thidwicks on the Tigris, are in the business of handing out.

The innocence of this lady was also the innocence of Daniel Pearl, who though he had written about Muslims, had grown up in a family with a mother who recalled, a bit too nostalgically, stories about her life in Baghdad as a Jew (which she had left as a small child, and no doubt the stories were those of her parents, who remembered only the good, at the very time when, because of the British and the aftermath of the British presence, Jews in Baghdad had temporarily flourished or, later, at least been left alone -- until the "Farhud" of June 1-2, 1941, when hundreds were killed), and who was unschooled in Islam and too trusting. And then there was that young American boy, who grew up in a household with a father of the far left, who was sure everyone in the world was fine, save possibly American right-wing capitalists, and gave his son the same terminally naive worldview, which son, Michael Berg, flew up, on his own, mind you, to Iraq to "help" the "people of Iraq" in building up their country. And for his pains, he was decapitated, to shouts of Allahu Akbar, on camera.

The schoolteacher in Khartoum, who taught not in a primitive village, but in a school for the children of Western diplomats and of the Sudanese elite -- akin to the American School in Kuwait City and other such schools, especially Christian-run schools, all over the Muslim world that the Muslim elite of course is eager to send its children too, recognizing that only the schools run, say, by Jesuits in Baghdad, or nuns in Pakistan, are likely to provide an education far superior to any offered by a Muslim-run school (that eagerness to have one's own children attend schools run by Americans or Europeans, often Catholic schools, and then to attend university in the West, does not translate into any recognition that something must be wrong with Islam and societies suffused with Islam -- and only the denial of such possibilities will force Muslims to begin to think in those terms, as they should, as we must create the conditions that will force them to do so).

The poor lady is no doubt very upset. But the case, from the viewpoint of Infidels, and the close-up look at the behavior of those screaming crowds calling for her death -- that is good, that is useful, that is the kind of thing Western television, which does not know how to cover something unseen -- the texts and tenets of Islam -- will be sure to cover.

Very welcome.

The Teddy Bear Incident.

It's like "Perdicaris Alive or Raisuli Dead." There is an individual life at stake -- the life of someone with whom all of us can identify, and whom none of us can fault. We might, any one of us, in the West, have asked our seven-year-old charges to "name that bear." We might, sweetly, have thought -- "Muhammad is the name of three-quarters of the kids in the class, so why not let them name the bear Muhammad."

We might. Once. But not now. Now we hear the screams for death and won't forget them. We know that the ludicrous government of an absurd place called the Sudan has tried and sentenced this lady. We are no longer in the mood, as we might have been, to take such places seriously. Or at least, to treat them with any respect. Why should we?

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Posted on 11/30/2007 10:17 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Friday, 30 November 2007
Jacques Barzun Is 100 Years Old Today
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Happy Birthday Professor Barzun!

The ultimate Barzun site is here.

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Posted on 11/30/2007 10:10 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Friday, 30 November 2007
Youths
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Although I disagree with Lawrence Auster on many things, I very much liked his post here:

According to Introduction to Youth, a concise and accessible summary of the doctrines and history of youth by renowned youth expert Karen Armstrong, the amazingly rapid youth conquest of much of the world in the 7th and 8th centuries had nothing to do with the youthful energies of the conquerors, but was driven solely by commercial and political factors completely extraneous to their chronological age. It is, therefore, the author says, a terrible slur on youth to suggest that their remarkable expansion had any connection with their tender years.

As for the so-called youth terrorism problem which right-wing American Christians and greedy corporate interests have been making so much of recently, Armstrong points out that it is only a reaction by a tiny minority of the more hot-headed youths to the lack of respect they have been receiving from the aging populations of the West. If the older part of humanity had welcomed the youth of the world with open arms, instead of excluding and marginalizing them, such events as the 9/11 attack on America, which has been vastly overplayed by the way, could have been easily avoided.

As I have observed, these youths occasionally make a rapid transition to "elderly" with nothing in between. For this and other M-word avoidance strategies, see my article here: Don't Mention the M******.

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Posted on 11/30/2007 9:08 AM by Mary Jackson
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Friday, 30 November 2007
Sic transitive
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Robert Spencer, an American, links to an audio clip of Ayaan Hirsi Ali debating Ed Husain.

With whom? What's to debate?

Update: apparently she is debating The Islamist. My inner American asks: "About what?"

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Posted on 11/30/2007 8:37 AM by Mary Jackson
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Friday, 30 November 2007
Khartoum rage
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It is absurd that teacher Gillian Gibbons has been sentenced to fifteen days in prison for naming a teddy bear Mohammed. Islam, as we know, is a religion of peace and tolerance, so I was delighted to learn from the BBC that there have been protests against the sentence in Khartoum. Oh, wait a minute:

Thousands of people have marched in the Sudanese capital Khartoum to call for UK teacher Gillian Gibbons to be shot.

Mrs Gibbons, 54, from Liverpool, was jailed by a court on Thursday after children in her class named a teddy bear Muhammad.

She was sentenced to 15 days for insulting religion, and she will then be deported.

The marchers took to the streets after Friday prayers to denounce the leniency of the sentence.

The protesters gathered in Martyrs Square, outside the presidential palace in the capital, many of them carrying knives and sticks.

Marchers chanted "Shame, shame on the UK", "No tolerance - execution" and "Kill her, kill her by firing squad".

A message for Mrs Gibbons and other well-meaning people who want to do some good in the Thirld World: there are plenty of non-Muslims who need our help. Let the Muslims stew in their own Islamic juice.

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Posted on 11/30/2007 7:20 AM by Mary Jackson
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Friday, 30 November 2007
The Altalena
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I would not have known that "Altalena" was the pen name of Vladimir Jabotinski, that the word means "swing" in Italian, or that it names a lodging in Florence; I would know that a ship of that name was at the center of the "Altalena Incident," in which Irgunists clashed with the nascent Israel Defense Force during Israel's War of Independence. Now I know why the ship was named Altalena. --from a reader

"Altalena..."

There's a book about the whole miserable episode, written by Eliyahu Lankin, who was, I think, possibly captain of the Altalena. Avraham Stern, of Lehi fame (the so-called "Stern Gang"), was killed by the Haganah during the Altalena incident. His widow later came to America, and married an art dealer, with a line in Henry Moores. One day, idly flaning up and down that famous avenue on a rare trip to New York, and stopping in every gallery just for the hell of it (I had no intention of getting into mischief or starting a slight rebellion off Madison), I walked into the Weintraub Gallery, and started to talk to the owner and his wife, and found out about her connection to the Altalena incident and to history. Amazing the things you can find out just by walking around, trying only to kill some time before, or possibly after, lunch.

I was wrong, I now realize, to have written that there was also a pensione in Florence called the "Altalena." No such pensione. It was called the "Annalena," and went from the Arno to the Porta Romana. Nothing to do with the "Altalena" or with Jabotinsky or anything else. However, I think the owners rescued people, by hiding them, during the war. The pensione no longer exists. My memory never ever used to let me down. Now it does.

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Posted on 11/30/2007 6:34 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Friday, 30 November 2007
5th Century B.C. Wall of Nehemiah Seems To Have Been Found In Jerusalem
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 (AP) - A wall mentioned in the Bible's Book of Nehemiah and long sought by archaeologists apparently has been found, an Israeli archaeologist says.

A team of archaeologists discovered the wall in Jerusalem's ancient City of David during a rescue attempt on a tower that was in danger of collapse, said Eilat Mazar, head of the Institute of Archaeology at the Shalem Center, a Jerusalem-based research and educational institute, and leader of the dig.

Artifacts including pottery shards and arrowheads found under the tower suggested that both the tower and the nearby wall are from the 5th century B.C., the time of Nehemiah, Mazar said this week. Scholars previously thought the wall dated to the Hasmonean period from about 142 B.C. to 37 B.C.

The findings suggest that the structure was actually part of the same city wall the Bible says Nehemiah rebuilt, Mazar said. The Book of Nehemiah gives a detailed description of construction of the walls, destroyed earlier by the Babylonians.

"We were amazed," she said, noting that the discovery was made at a time when many scholars argued that the wall did not exist.

"This was a great surprise. It was something we didn't plan," Mazar said.

The first phase of the dig, completed in 2005, uncovered what Mazar believes to be the remains of King David's palace, built by King Hiram of Tyre, and also mentioned in the Bible.

Ephraim Stern, professor emeritus of archaeology at Hebrew University and chairman of the state of Israel archaeological council, offered support for Mazar's claim.

"The material she showed me is from the Persian period," the period of Nehemiah, he said. "I can sign on the date of the material she found." ...

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Posted on 11/30/2007 6:11 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Friday, 30 November 2007
Mega Mosque - No Thanks
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Islamophobia Watch is a treasure trove of useful information. It picks up instances of "Islamophobia" which turn out to be common sense. So hijab-tip to that site for drawing attention to a new website and campaign by beleagured Newham councillor Alan Craig:

"A website has been launched by those campaigning against proposals for an enormous mosque close to the 2012 Olympic site. Newham councillor Alan Craig, of the Christian Peoples Alliance, says the site will counter 'misinformation and spin' put out by Tablighi Jamaat, the conservative Islamic organisation behind the plans." Waltham Forest Guardian, 30 November 2007

The anti-mega-mosque website is:

megamosquenothanks.com

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Posted on 11/30/2007 5:28 AM by Mary Jackson
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Friday, 30 November 2007
Larry's circular argument
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Condoleezza Rice has been pretty useless as a Secretary of State, no doubt about it. So it was only a matter of time before Lawrence Auster said that she was useless because she's a woman. Plenty of useless Secretaries of State have been men, but that doesn't matter. Jack Straw was a useless - and disgustingly anti-Israel - Foreign Secretary. Last I looked, he was a man. Doesn't matter.

Useless things Rice has been saying include:

"I know what it is like to hear to that you cannot go on a road or through a checkpoint because you are Palestinian," she said. "I understand the feeling of humiliation and powerlessness."

"There is pain on both sides. This has gone on too long."

A reader then points out that the first person to say "I feel your pain" was Bill Clinton. Yep, he's a man. Ah, says Auster, but that's because he's a man acting like a woman. You see, since women got all uppity and got the vote and went into politics, men have got all feminised.

And leaders like Margaret Thatcher and Golda Meir? They were not women as such, at least not politically - they were acting like men, that's why they were so good. Stands to reason. And you can't generalise from two women. Well you can if they're useless, but not if they're good.

Ironically, radical feminists used to say that Margaret Thatcher wasn't really a woman. Auster is in good company.

So let's sum up: a woman can't be as good as a man in politics because if she is she's like a man, so it doesn't count.  And a man can't be as bad as a woman in politics, because if he is he's like a woman so it doesn't count.

With his circular argument, Larry has made me all dizzy. But then I'm only a girly, so what do you expect?

Cue Henry Higgins:

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Posted on 11/30/2007 4:50 AM by Mary Jackson
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Thursday, 29 November 2007
Bin Laden:"I Am Responsible" for 9-11
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Just how much evidence do the 9-11 truthers need? And he's trying to split Europe from America - the obvious move, yawn.

(Thanks to Jeffrey Imm) DUBAI (AFP) - Osama bin Laden urged Europeans to break ranks with the United States and quit Afghanistan, while stressing he alone was behind the 9/11 attacks, in a tape attributed to him on Al-Jazeera television on Thursday.

The United States "insisted on invading" Afghanistan even though it knew that the Afghans were not behind the 2001 attacks, and "Europe walked behind it," the voice purported to be that of the Al-Qaeda chief said in a "message to the European peoples."

"It would be better for you if you (restrained) your politicians who flock to the White House and worked actively to end the wrong done to the oppressed," he said in the audiotape.

"I am responsible" for the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, the speaker said.

Qatar-based Al-Jazeera aired a head shot of a smiling bin Laden wearing a white headdress of the type used by Muslim fundamentalist clerics. There was no indication of the timing of the tape.

"The truth, as I said before, is that the Manhattan events were in retaliation for the killing of our kinfolk in Palestine and Lebanon by the US-Israeli alliance and that I am responsible for them," the voice said.

"I affirm that the Afghans -- government and people -- had no knowledge whatsoever of these events and America knows that," since it captured and interrogated some ministers from the Islamist militant Taliban movement, which was ousted from power by a 2001 US invasion.

By following in the footsteps of the US in Afghanistan after 9/11, Europe could only be a "subordinate" to Washington, as attested to by the fact that "you entered this war and US soldiers were exempted from accountability in European courts."

"That is why my message is addressed to you, not to your politicians," said the typically soft-spoken voice thought to be that of the world's most wanted man.

"It is no longer a secret that (former British prime minister Tony) Blair, (British Prime Minister Gordon) Brown, (former Italian premier Silvio) Berlusconi, (former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria) Aznar and (French President Nicolas) Sarkozy and their ilk like to be under the shadow of the White House," the speaker said.

"They're not much different from many Third World leaders."

The voice claimed that US influence was waning, saying US forces will go back home and "leave neighbours to settle scores."...

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Posted on 11/29/2007 6:33 PM by Rebecca Bynum
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Thursday, 29 November 2007
Britcom interlude and quiz
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It's buy one, get one free time again. BOGOF, as they say. This time the interlude and quiz really are rolled into one. I'm not sure how well "The Two Ronnies" will travel across the Atlantic, but what the heck. Ronnie Barker - Fletcher in "Porridge" -  was one of the finest comedians that ever lived. Ronnie Corbett was usually the straight man, and in a way he is in this sketch too. They're both straight men - it's the script that's funny. Click on the pic for a giggle. And if you're American and/or don't really get it, keep tuning into my Britcom interludes - you'll get the hang of them in time:

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Posted on 11/29/2007 5:17 PM by Mary Jackson
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Thursday, 29 November 2007
Identities Constructed Here
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BOTH "Palestinian" and "Israeli" are constructed identities. -- from a reader

What isn't these days presented as a "constructed" identity? Is being "French" or "English" (or "British") or "American" -- pace Hector St.-John Crevecoeur's "what is this new thing, this American?" -- a "constructed" identity? Yes? No? Mebbe? Yes, "identity," we are told, is "constructed" and "fluid." You can be anything you want to be, and no nasty Westerners have a right to hold onto an identity, their own, which of course doesn’t, being American or Western European, exist. Other lands have “identities” and can hold onto them. But the United States, England, France, and all those other places to which so many others, especially Muslims who arrive, their inculcated hostility undeclared at customs, packed carefully in their mental package, and to be unpacked as soon as they are safely in the country.

 We live in an age when so many things are claimed not to embody any truth based on the considerable evidence of one’s senses (including the “eyesight” that permits one to read books), but are claimed, rather, to be "socially constructed." Think of the kind of words Terri Gross, in those intolerable NPR interviews, likes to dwell upon with her quests, questioning them about “coming to terms” with, or “discovering” or something-or-other, with their own "Sexuality" and "Identity.” And of course “race” is merely a social construct, isn’t it, which is why the man who parachutes into Beijing, or Iowa, or the Congo, doesn’t notice the slightest difference in the kind of people he happens to meet..

Oh, did I forget to mention "reality"? Yes, nowadays "reality” also doesn't exist. It's merely "constructed." And we all thought it was just jesting Pilate who said "there is no such thing as truth." You can learn about all this from Gayatri Chakravarti Spivak, and Judith Butler, and even the equally-impenetrable-prosist Homi Bhabha (who, by the way, should mind his self-conscious manners and wait before attempting to walk out of a lecture-cum-concern when it only has a few minutes ago).

You, Roobart (isn’t that what they learn to mouth at RADA for the crowd scenes: “Roobart, Roobart, Roobart?) know perfectly well the "identities" which are being discussed here, and which you claim are equally "constructed,” are in fact not so. Get rid of those easy and pious symmetries that may please some, but not, I fear, Mnemosyne, a hard muse to please.

The war in the Middle East is that between Arabs and Jews, not between “Israelis” and “Palestinians” (you know, the Two Tiny Peoples business, each of those Tiny Peoples “struggling for its homeland). Long before there was an Israel, there were Jews living in Yemen, in Iraq, in Syria, in North Africa, in Iran (before expelled by the Muslims from the Jazirat al-Arab, they were even on the Arabian Peninsula; Hebrew lettering has been found on ruins in northwestern Saudi Arabia, Land of the Midianites). The appropriation of the term "Palestinian" -- as in "Palestinian people" -- and its deliberate promotion from adjective to noun (as in "the 'Palestinians'") -- was a deliberate and tendentious act of propaganda. The term "Israeli" per contra, is nothing more than a description of "the citizens of a nation-state called Israel" (not all of whom, by the way, are Jews), and it would be far more accurate to describe the business in Annapolis, or Camp David, and the conflict itself, as being not between "Israeli" and "Palestinian" but between Arab and Jew, or still more accurately, between Believer and Infidel, for the source of the conflict is to be located in Islam, and the refusal in Islam to countenance an Infidel state or power, of any size, controlling land, of any amount, that was once ruled over by Muslims.

If Israel happens to have been at the forefront of Arab Muslim efforts, that hardly means that the same claim is not made on Spain, Sicily, the Balkans, Greece, Bulgaria, Rumania, much of Hungary, almost all of India, and so on. Nor, of course, does the fact that places formerly part of Dar al-Islam are at the top of the Islamic To-Do List (Recover Lands), mean that the claim to the rest of the known world has disappeared, or would disappear, if the denizens of Dar al-Islam managed to recapture every inch of land once part of Dar al-Islam. No, they have bigger fish to fry -- the whole world. And surely at the SOAS there are books, if not courses, that will let you in on that not-exactly well-kept secret.

Tell me. If the Arabs of Iran, those around Ahwaz, where all the Iranian oil is pumped, in Khuzistan, were to go for broke and try to fight off "the Persians" and create a separate, well-funded state for the ethnic Arabs, and began, for the purposes of propaganda, to call themselves the "Khuzistanian people," would you claim that the term "Khuzistanian people" is not more of a "construct" than the term "Persian people" or "Persians"? Think about that for a bit.

You surely know, or perhaps you don't but I do, having read all the records myself, that nowhere in the thousands of pages of U.N. records in which Israel and the Arabs are discussed, prior to the Six-Day War, is the term "Palestinian people" used by any Arab diplomat, from Jamal Baroody, the Lebanese who represented Saudi Arabia for so long, on down. Nor did any of the Arab leaders, or their spokesmen, refer to the "Palestinian people." Care to explain why?

The leader of As Saiqa, one terrorist group under the PLO umbrella, Zuhair Mohsen, “is widely known for having made the following statement in a March 1977 interview with the Dutch newspaper Trouw”:

"The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct "Palestinian people" to oppose Zionism.

For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan."

And there are many other remarks like this, sometimes by Arabs, and sometimes even by those engaged in “Arab refugee” work before it was taken over completely by “Palestinians” and other Arabs.

See, for example, what Elfan Rees, the special advisor on refugees to the World Council of Churches, wrote in 1957 in The Refugee Problem Today and Tomorrow:

"I hold the view that, political issues aside, the Arab refugee problem is by far the easiest postwar refugee problem to solve by integration. By faith, by language, by race and by social organization, they are indistinguishable from their fellows of the host countries. There is room for them, and land for them, in Syria and in Iraq. There is a developing demand for the kind of manpower that they represent. More unusually still, there is the money to make this integration possible. The United Nations General Assembly, five years ago, voted a sum of 200 million dollars to provide 'homes and jobs' for the Arab refugees. That money remains unspent, not because these tragic people are strangers in a strange land, because they are not; not because there is no room for them to be established, because there is; but simply for political reasons."

You can read the U.N. records, the records of what every Arab said, threatening or cajoling, from 1948 or well before 1948, right up to the Six-Day War, and even for a short period beyond, and it is only then that, out of the blue, comes this phrase “the Palestinian people.”

Stop making me waste me time having to repeat what all educated people know, or should.

Treve de betises.

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Posted on 11/29/2007 4:41 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Thursday, 29 November 2007
Family Resemblance
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Tehran, 29 Nov. (AKI) - The word 'women' must now be replaced on Iranian state television by 'family', reformist Norouz news agency reports. --from this news item

And one may detect a family resemblance to these Muslim clerics in those Western women who used to noisily demand (the demand seems to have recently been muted, even possibly disappeared, in the face of widespread ridicule) the replacement of the word "woman" by the word "womyn."

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Posted on 11/29/2007 4:20 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Thursday, 29 November 2007
When You Have Nabokov, Stravinsky And Borges, Who Needs Desmond Tutu?
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"Nabokov was Jabotinsky's uncle? Now, THAT I didn't know." --from a reader

No, "the writer" referred to is, of course, Vladimir Nabokov, the Russian and American writer, and there is no ambiguity in my sentence. Nabokov, by the way, was always an unswerving admirer of Israel, expressed his delight at Israel's victory in 1967, was eager to visit Israel (an invitation had been extended to him by the Israeli ambassador in Switzerland, and indeed, donated money to an Israeli charity). His affection and admiration for Israel were two of the few things he shared with Igor Stravinsky and Jorge Luis Borges, though their names do come up, sometimes, for other reasons when Nabokov is being discussed.

Though it is true that Jabotinsky was a writer, he was clearly not being referred to in my sentence. In Russia he had translated many writers, including Dante and Poe, for the last producing versions superior to those of Bal'mont. Later, living in Western Europe, he worked as a journalist in Italy, writing under the name "Altalena" ("swing" in Italian, and also the name of a well-known pensione in Florence).

Incidentally, his rarest work (only 100 signed copies were printed, and probably fewer than ten still exist) was his memoir about the "Palestine Legion" that consisted of Jewish volunteers, and who were organized and trained by Colonel John Henry Patterson. He titled that memoir, written in Russian, "Slovo o Polku." A most witty title.

Don't you agree that's brilliantly witty?

And could you explain to me why that title is brilliantly witty?

Thank you.

...I was under the impression that Stravinsky was somewhat less-than-stellar when anything Jewish was concerned.

"Slovo o Polku." Never heard of this particular work, I must admit. Not sure why it's witty, though I must admit I'm a total ignoramus when it comes to wit of any kind. The title could be translated as "A Word About the Regiment," or just "About the Regiment." Not sure if "Regiment" and "Legion" are the same thing. --from the reader in answer

See the Stravinsky-Craft diaries, when they get to Stravinsky's visit to Israel where he conducted the orchestra and spent time with musicians. Craft reports him as describing Israelis as the "most egalitarian, and also the most aristocratic, people in the world." That sounds like high praise to me.

When you have Borges, Nabokov, Stravinsky, and others of that level in your corner, admiring you, rooting for you, then who needs Desmond Tutu, or the entire U.N.?

As for "Slovo o Polku" not ringing any bells in your belfry, I take it your instruction was in language, and never proceeded to the stage of literature? Or do I misunderstand?

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Posted on 11/29/2007 4:06 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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