Chaim Weizmann would turn in his grave were he aware of the public attacks on the Israeli government by some in the UK Jewish leadership.
Mick Davis, the South African-born chief executive of the powerful mining group Xstrata, is chairman of Anglo Jewry's United Jewish Israel Appeal (UJIA) - the principal fund-raising institution for Israel of the UK Jewish community.
He also heads a body known as the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) - essentially comprised of a group of wealthy British Jews and their acolytes who, by virtue of their financial largesse, assume a dominant influence on many levels of communal life. The power represented by their collective wealth enables them not to be accountable to anyone and few would dare question their policies.
Anglo Jewry has been blessed in the past with rich philanthropists, many of whom were also endowed with wisdom. Despite his immense wealth and access to the most important leaders in the land, Sir Moses Montefiore was devoted to his people and, far from radiating hubris or arrogance, generated respect and love.
In striking contrast, Mick Davis, also known as "Big Mick," displays characteristics associated with the nouveau riche, akin to the behavior of some of the Russian- Jewish oligarchs. His opinions are rarely challenged and he contemptuously rejects the suggestion that holding a communal role in any way precludes him from publicly expressing views which would normally be considered incompatible for anyone occupying such a position.
Needless to say, Davis is fully entitled to say whatever comes to his mind. Nobody seeks to deprive him of freedom of expression.
Many Jews are critical of Israeli governments.
But for a person holding senior public office in a major Diaspora community to indulge in crude public attacks on Israeli leaders and relate to Israel's security requirements in relation to their impact on his image in non-Jewish circles is surely bizarre and utterly unconscionable.
While occupying the role of chairman of the UIJA in a country in which hatred of Israel and anti-Semitism have reached record levels, Davis brazenly incites his fellow Jews to criticize Israel.
RESIDENT IN London, he had the chutzpa to berate the Israeli prime minister "for lacking the courage to take the steps" to advance the peace process, arguing that "I don't understand the lack of strategy in Israel." He also employed the terminology of our enemies, predicting an "apartheid state" unless Israel was able to achieve a two-state solution - unashamedly blaming Israelis rather than Palestinians for being the obstacle to peace.
His sheer arrogance was best demonstrated in his most outrageous remark: "I think the government of Israel has to recognize that their actions directly impact on me as a Jew living in London, UK.
When they do good things, it is good for me; when they do bad things, it is bad for me. And the impact on me is as significant as it is on Jews living in Israel... I want them to recognize that."
Aside from implying that Israel is responsible for the anti-Semitism he is encountering, Davis is effectively warning that when considering defense issues which may have life-or-death implications for Israelis, the government must be sure not to create problems for him in his non- Jewish social circles. From his London mansion, he blithely brushes aside suicide bombers, rockets launched against our children and the threat of nuclear annihilation because his gentile friends might complain about the behavior of his Israeli friends.
Jonathan Hoffman, vice president of the UK Zionist Federation (one of the few Anglo-Jewish leaders courageous enough to criticize Davis), expressed outrage that the UIJA chairman could make such a remark. "We are not aware that Hampstead is within range of Iranian or Hamas missiles, nor that its residents have to send their children to the IDF for three years," he said.
It is telling that over recent years, Davis has not been renowned for condemning the shameful policies of British governments in relation to Israel. And it is no coincidence that immediately after the UK abstained from the UN vote on the Goldstone Report, Davis chaired a JLC reception at which former foreign minister David Miliband was the key speaker. On that occasion, the "outspoken" Davis felt constrained not to express a single word of complaint or disappointment at the perfidious behavior of the British government in relation to this issue.
Admittedly, Davis' latest outburst is neither intellectually challenging nor persuasive.
But emanating from a Jewish "leader" in the anti-Semitic UK environment in which campaigns to boycott and delegitimize Israel are at an all-time high, and at a time when Israel is under siege and fighting for its existence, it surely represents a level of unprecedented vulgarity.
IN ANY self-respecting Diaspora Jewish community, Davis would have been obliged to tender his resignation immediately after making such outrageous remarks.
Not so in sunny London.
Instead of condemning him, the Anglo- Jewish establishment groveled. Many even seemed delighted that one of their leading spokesmen had distanced himself from what many of them may regard as the unsavory government which the people of Israel had democratically elected.
With the exception of Jewish National Fund head Samuel Hayek, not a single member of the JLC criticized Davis.
The president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Vivian Wineman, said, "Mick Davis is entitled to make his remarks - there are a wide range of views in the country and in Israel on these issues."
Simon Hochhauser, president of the Orthodox United Synagogue and a JLC trustee, may one day regret and feel ashamed for having stated that "there is nothing in the quoted comments I would disagree with."
Former UIA chairman Brian Kerner said that he was "broadly supportive" of the views expressed by Davis, but questioned voicing them in public because "it is only picked up by our enemies, distorted and used against us."
Harvey Rose, chairman of the Zionist Federation, also agreed with "much" of the position expressed by Davis, noting that "how Israel is perceived in the UK has a direct bearing on our comfort levels in Britain."
The non-Orthodox groups, some of whom had always been inclined against Zionism, applauded Davis as "a remarkable leader and a true Zionist leader."
Anglo-Jewish leaders share a long tradition of burying their head in the sand, avoiding confrontation and displaying a determination not to rock the boat under any circumstances. One of their leaders actually wrote in The Jerusalem Post, proudly boasting how their pro-Israel advocacy approach was based on "whispering" rather than "shouting."
Today, by lacking the courage to challenge the propriety of one of its most senior "leaders" indulging in coarse public condemnations of Israel, the trembling Israelite establishment has further undermined the standing of the UK Jewish community.
When one proudly recalls the outstanding contribution of British Jews to the development of Zionism, and the role played by leaders of the caliber of Chaim Weizmann, one is left with a sense of profound sadness. The Anglo- Jewish Zionist pioneers would turn in their graves were they aware of the irresponsible behavior of those who have currently assumed the mantle of leadership of their community. ["leadership" apparently means, in the context of Anglo-American Jewry, simply having a lot of money -- why should that entitle anyone to be listened to with respect? Why? This is absurd.]
Some belated reports from the Australian front: 1. Muslims meet resistance, claim victimhood
There are a number of stories that came up, during November, that are of some interest but that for one reason and another I didn't bring forward here at the time of their first appearance. I will post them now as a series, a little belatedly.
Here is the first one, from mid-November, in Sydney's 'Sunday Telegraph', Barclay Crawford reporting. Unsurprisingly, it features Muslims claiming victimhood when they do not get things all their own way. I have bolded certain passsages for emphasis.
'Muslims claim they are the targets of new planning laws preventing religious groups from taking over empty churches abandoned by other faiths in south-western Sydney.
'The controversial regulations have been proposed by Canterbury Council - which includes the Islamic community strongholds of Belmore, Campsie, Canterbury and Lakemba.
(At this point it is worth recalling to mind exactlyhow it was that these suburbs became 'Islamic community strongholds'. Good descriptions of the methods used by a significant percentage of Muslims, in order to precipitate the flight of non-Muslims from those parts of Sydney, are found in retired policeman Tim Priest's Quadrant article from Jan-Feb 2004, "The Rise of Middle Eastern Crime in Australia", which may be read here:
in which you will find, for example, the story of Sheehan's friend Jenny D., who "used to live in Lakemba. She began receiving insults from people in the street, usually Muslim women wearing headscarves, and sometimes Muslim men. If she wore a short skirt, she could expect abuse or comment. She left Lakemba". As did, Mr Sheehan discovered, many others - pursued by similar, or even worse harassment - CM).
'The move is being backed by the Labor mayor Robert Furolo, who is also the state MP for the seat of Lakemba, and residents opposed to a mosque on the site of an ex-Roselands church.
'The new planning controls would require all religious bodies to adhere to strict planning guidelines in residential areas.
'Planning laws in most NSW local government areas do not require religious organisations to make a new application to council if they buy a site zoned as a place of worship for use by another faith.
'But Canterbury's planning order would require a new approval of each purchase and restrict service times. Muslims pray five times a day. (And can, therefore, cause much greater traffic-and-parking problems in local streets than do the worshippers at your average suburban Christian church or, for that matter, Jewish synagogue - CM).
'The regulations follow a long-running controversy over the redevelopment of a former Chinese church as a mosque in Ludgate St, Roselands.
'Many in the Muslim community believe the council is playing the race card in the lead-up to the state election. (Did the Muslims use the word 'race'? Or is the reporter simply being sloppy? Either way, it's nonsense, for Islam is an ideology, not a race. - CM).
"Robert Furolo wants to stir up the anti-Muslim thing", Ahmad Kamaledine, who is a director of the Lebanese Muslim Association, said. "He wants people outside screaming and shouting and getting emotional about this".
(Now, let us recall all the news footage we've seen of huge Muslim mobs screaming and shouting and getting emotional about perceived - and in some cases, entirely trivial or even fabricated - insults or injuries to Muslims in places far, far away from themselves. Mr Kamaledine clearly thinks, however, that no non-Muslim outside of Roselands has any right to express an opinion about the impending Muslim makeover of a former Christian church in Roselands - CM).
'But Mr Furolo said the planning control would streamline processes. "The most controversial planning decisions are those surrounding places of worship. They create more controversy than brothels." He said he was not anti-Muslim.
'Ludgate St resident Ron Howe said he knew the official reason residents opposed the mosque was because it would bring too much traffic to the quiet residential area. (Which it will - CM).
'But there was another reason. "Of course it's got to do with the fact they are Muslim", the resident of 42 years said. "There's a real feeling they [Muslims] are taking over around here. (He is right. Read Paul Sheehan's article that I linked above. - CM). They already have at least three mosques in the area; why do they need another one?"
'Frank Waring, 72, feels the same way. "They will take over the whole neighbourhood if they open the mosque", he said. (Again, he is right.- CM).
'The mosque, which initially involved former Bulldogs star Hazem El Masri (who I understand may be going into politics - CM) and boxer Anthony Mundine, has been approved for three days a week but wants to operate from 4.30 am - 11 pm daily.
(Which is a very different kettle of fish from a church. Very few churches would have services at 4.30 am, DAILY. And note the pattern here. The Muslims, having gotten approval for one thing, instantly up the ante. It will be a minaret and a muezzin and the azan full-blast from loudspeakers five times a day, unless Canterbury Council and the remaining non-Muslim residents are prepared to confront them - CM).
The Islamic Foundation of the Maldives has reiterated calls to the Maldives government to "shun all medical aid from the Zionist regime" with a team of seven Israeli eye surgeons due to arrive in the country next month, claiming that Isreali doctors and surgeons "have become notorious for illegally harvesting organs from non-Jews around the world."
"The health authorities in Maldives have to take utmost caution in allowing Israeli medical surgeons into this country and Maldivians who apply for treatment from these doctors have to take precautionary measures to avoid any foul play," it reads.
A day after the government-run Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) announced the imminent arrival of the Israeli doctors, the Islamic Foundation called on the government not to normalise relations with the Jewish state or "accept any sort of assistance from Israel as long as they are in the lands of Palestine."
President of Islamic Foundation Ibrahim Fauzy told Minivan News last week that the Foundation does not recognise Israel as a state, asserting that "it is also against our religion to have relationships with Jews."
In November last year, Foreign Minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed narrowly survived a vote of no-confidence forwarded by the opposition for his role in the government's plans to normalise relations with Israel.
Speaking to Minivan News today, Political Counsellor at the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi, Itay Tagner, stressed that the delegation was coming to the Maldives "on a purely humanitarian mission". relations with Israel. The team of surgeons will conduct eye camps in Male', Gaaf Dhaal Thinadhoo and Addu Atoll Gan "for free, for no cost", Tagner explained, and will bring surgical equipment, including a mobile surgery unit. He added that a 10 to 15 minute procedure performed by the eye surgeon could restore eyesight to the blind: "Once you see a person come out after 15 minutes and his whole life has changed, that picture is worth more than ten thousand words."
Addressing supporters at a rally Thursday night, opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Afrashim Ali claimed that Israelis and other foreign elements that "should not be allowed to enter a 100 percent Muslim country" will gain a foothold in the Maldives as a result of handing over management of the Male' International Airport to Indian infrastructure giant GMR. "[The airport deal with GMR] will open a big doorway for the people of Israel, who are brutalising Palestinians without any justification, to come to the Maldives and take over," he said.
The leader of DRP's religious wing asserted that it is "expressly forbidden" to give any assistance to Israel as "they forced Palestinians out of their homes and brutalised them only because they say 'We are Muslims'." He added that "the loss of this airport from Muslim hands" would open "a huge door to help those who deliberately, antagonistically torture Muslims."
Warning of the consequence of foreigners exerting influence on domestic affairs, Dr Afrashim said that "when foreign kings and businessmen and company heads get a foothold in a small country like the Maldives, the result will be that they will never leave."
He added that the second step of the foreign invasion would be to "sow discord" and ferment chaos "to destroy the country". To back his assertion, Afrashim quoted from the Quran 27:34: "She said: 'Verily! Kings, when they enter a town (country), they despoil it, and make the most honourable amongst its people low. And thus they do.'"
"They will destroy Islam in the Maldives," he warned.
RADICAL Muslims scrapped a secret conference featuring hate preachers Omar Bakri and Sheikh Faisal after it was rumbled by police. They were due to appear by video link from overseas at the Islamic International Revival Conference on Saturday in London's East End.
Faisal was deported to Jamaica in 2007 for urging the murder of Jews, and Bakri fled to Lebanon in 2005 after praising the 7/7 bombers. Rabble-rousers Abu Izzadeen, just out of jail for inciting terrorism, and Anjem Choudary, who urges Sharia law in the UK, were to address followers in person.
Scotland Yard blocked a first venue, so the extremists switched to a second hush-hush spot. But they called off the meeting after finding cops knew of that one too.
An organiser whined yesterday that their right to freedom of speech had been infringed. He said: "The owner of the back-up premises was warned to cancel and not tell us till the last minute." Choudary, 43, said it exposed "a burning hatred" against Islam but vowed the seminar will take place.
"I was recently told by a media person that if something happens in this city, I'm toast."
So said Tom Potter, mayor of Portland, Oregon, on April 28, 2005 as he and the city council voted to bar Portland police from participating in one of the federal government's key anti-terrorism initiatives, the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force. In Portland's deep-blue precincts, there was intense opposition to the Bush administration's conduct of the war on terror; residents worried the task force might violate state anti-discrimination laws by targeting Muslims for their religious and political views. So city leaders forbade police from taking part in it.
They made brave statements. "Here in Portland, we are not willing to give up individual liberties in order to have a perception of safety," city commissioner Randy Leonard told reporters a few days before the vote. Yet there was still a little note of concern in Mayor Potter's words: What if there were a terrorist attack after we refused to work with the FBI to prevent it?
Last Friday, that nearly happened. FBI undercover agents arrested would-be jihadi Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a 19-year old Somali-born naturalized U.S. citizen, in connection with a plot to set off an enormous car bomb at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square. Mohamud told the agents he wanted to stage a "spectacular show" in which hundreds, perhaps thousands of Portlanders would die. He also said he wasn't worried about getting caught because the authorities in Portland "don't see it as a place where anything will happen."
Mohamud's plot -- uncovered by the very FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force that city leaders rejected -- has rekindled the security debate in Portland. Tom Potter is no longer mayor, but his successor, Sam Adams, says it is time to "re-think" the city's rejection of the FBI task force. Council members who weren't in office in 2005 say the same thing.
Looking back at the '05 debate, it's striking how deeply concerned city officials were with the well-being of possible terrorist suspects, and how relatively less concerned they were with the threat of actual terrorist violence. The debate focused on whether, if Portland allowed its cops to take part in the task force, the FBI would abide by an Oregon law strictly barring police from collecting "information about the political, religious or social views, associations or activities" of anyone unless that information directly related to a criminal investigation and there were reasonable grounds to suspect that person was involved in criminal conduct.
The mayor demanded the FBI give him top secret security clearance so he could keep an eye on any investigation his police were involved in, just to make sure the anti-discrimination law was being observed. The FBI said no. When the city council acted, the people who advocated breaking with the FBI framed the issue as one of secrecy and transparency. "Portland has stricken a blow against government secrecy by deciding to pull out of the Joint Terrorism Task Force," said ACLU associate legal director Ann Beeson.
Opponents of the FBI often cited the bureau's mistaken arrest of Brandon Mayfield, a Portland lawyer and convert to Islam, for the 2004 train bombings in Madrid, Spain. But there's little doubt that Portland officials were angry over the war on terror well before the Mayfield incident, slamming the Bush administration over the Patriot Act and efforts to question Muslims in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Portland wanted to strike a symbolic blow against Bush, and it did.
There was one dissenting voice on the council. Before the vote, Commissioner Dan Saltzman warned that the action was "a step backwards" and that "the threat of terrorism is...real." Now, after the Mohamud incident, Saltzman is again calling for Portland to change its mind. "The events of this holiday weekend have made it clear that we need to have seamless communication with our regional and federal law enforcement partners," he said in a statement Monday. "We need to rejoin the Joint Terrorism Task Force."
The bottom line of all this is that the FBI saved Portland from a potentially horrendous attack. But city leaders weren't involved in saving themselves because they were more concerned about the possibility of discrimination than the reality of terrorism. Even as he cast his vote, Mayor Potter worried that something might happen. And now that Portland almost experienced his worst fears, shouldn't someone be toast?
Dr. Turki Al-Hamad: "Modern Goals Can Only be Achieved through the Modern State with Modern Values - and this Does Not Occur in a Religious State"
Saudi author Dr. Turki Al-Hamad: "If we want to join the modern world and adapt ourselves to this era, I believe that we must sever the religious establishment from the state. The religious establishment should become part of the state, but should not have hegemony over it. Otherwise, the sovereignty of the state is lost.
"Hence, the modern goals can only be achieved through the modern state with modern values - and this does not occur in a religious state." [...]
Sheik Khalil Al-Mays, Mufti of the Beqa'a Valley in Lebanon: "Who were the Arabs before the advent of Islam, and who are the Arabs following the advent of Islam? The answer is known to all."
Mediator: "You mean to say that it was Islam that gave the Arabs their identity."
Sheik Khalil Al-Mays: "Of course. They opened up to the world through Islam."
Mediator: "And if not for Islam..."
Sheik Khalil Al-Mays: "They would not have left the Arabian Peninsula."
Mediator: "Let us be clearer. You see no justification for the separation of religion and state."
Sheik Khalil Al-Mays: "How can that be?"
Mediator: "You do not believe in such a separation?"
Sheik Khalil Al-Mays: "The Prophet Muhammad established a religious state, did he not?" [...]
Dr. Abd Al-Mun'im Abu Al-Futuh, Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt: "There can be no separation of religion and state. This holds true for the entire history of the human race - whether it is the religion of Islam, of Christianity, or of Judaism."
Mediator: "But in the West, they did separate religion and state..."
Dr. Abd Al-Mun'im Abu Al-Futuh: "The Queen of England is the head of the Church. Nothing is absolute. Everything is relative. The strange thing is that at a time when the Arab secularists - of course, I am talking about the extremists among them - are calling for the separation of religion and state, that Zionist lowlife, Benjamin Netanyahu, is demanding that Israel be a Jewish state.
"What we suffer from is the state's control over religion, not vice versa. Europe of the Middle Ages suffered from the control of religion over the people, but in our modern era, the state controls the religion." [...]
Sayyed Ayad Jamal Al-Din: "The State Should Provide Water and Electricity to Mosques, to Churches, and to Nightclubs"
Former Iraqi MP Sayyed Ayad Jamal Al-Din: "It is necessary, from both the religious and the human perspectives, to separate religion and state. There should be a buffer between the state and the religion, in order to protect religion from turning into a tool in the hands of politicians, as a result of the pressure exerted by the religious ideological system. [...]
"Religion belongs to the human being. The state cannot have a religion. The state is a legal institution that has no color, no flavor, and no smell. It should be a neutral institution that provides services to all. The state should provide water and electricity to mosques, to churches, and to nightclubs." [...]
Sheik Khalil Al-Mays: "Who rules us, the Arabs or the Muslims, as individuals? Allah does. Is it conceivable that Allah rules the individuals, but not society as a whole?" [...]
Dr. Turki Al-Hamad: "We should avoid making generalizations. When we say that Allah rules individuals as well as countries, that is a general statement. But the question is: Does Allah talk to us directly? There are people who write interpretations. They are human beings, and their own interests and notions make them paint religion in a certain hue. When we talk about 'religion,' we are necessarily referring to a specific denomination or interpretation. It is those who write these interpretations who impose their will, not Allah." [...]
Sayyed Ayad Jamal Al-Din: "The rule of the Prophet Muhammad in Al-Madina produced, among other things, a phenomenon unknown to the Arabs in pre-Islamic times: hypocrisy. Hypocrisy was completely unknown to the Arabs of pre-Islamic times. They were as free as a falcon, and even more.
"The Prophet Muhammad lived in Mecca 13 years, as a herald and a warner. He had no police force, no army, and no money. In Al-Madina, he lived for 10 years, as a herald and a warner, but he also had military power, and [political] authority.
"The hypocrites emerged in Al-Madina, and there is an entire surah in the Koran titled 'The Hypocrites.' Many verses concerning hypocrisy were revealed in Al-Madina. There had not been a single hypocrite in Mecca. People were either Muslims or polytheists. That's it."
Mediator: "What are you getting at?"
Sayyed Ayad Jamal Al-Din: "The first negative phenomenon of the ideological state - even under the rule of the Prophet Muhammad himself - is that it produces people with a split personality. Hypocrisy is a reaction not to religion but to the ideological state - even if this ideological state is ruled by the Prophet Muhammad himself, not to mention when it is ruled by others. [...]
"The goal of religion is to form a human being. When the rulers wanted to strengthen their grip on the people, they began to intimidate them with religion and the Hereafter, in order to tame these Muslims. My claim is that there should be a civil rule. All the prophets, not only the Prophet Muhammad, were sent in order to form human beings, not to construct buildings." [...]
Sheik Khalil Al-Mays: "The confusion about secularism has been exported to our society by the Church. Islam is secularism, and secularism is Islam. We have no hierarchy of clergy. There is no rule of clerics in Islam. What we have is the rule of the Koran and the Sunna, rather than people ruling according to their own will. This concept that was imported to us is peculiar. [...]
"The hypocrites appeared in Al-Madina because there were Jews living there. In Mecca, there were only Arabs, and so there was no hypocrisy there. The presence of the Jewish element in Al-Madina caused hypocrisy, even in the days of the Prophet Muhammad.
"As we can see today, the same Jewish element causes the greatest hypocrisy in politics worldwide. [...]
"You are I are ruled by Allah. I do not rule you, and you do not rule me. I am ruled by the Koran and the Sunna. I am ruled by the shari'a. I am not a ruler, I only implement the rule." [...]
Dr. Abd Al-Mun'im Abu Al-Futuh: "With all due respect to the sheik, I am sure he did not mean to say that we are ruled by Allah. No, the state is ruled by the majority of the people. The majority of the people determines the government system. Some people think that when we talk about an Islamic state, we mean that Islam, with all its values, principles, and rules, will be imposed upon the people, whether they like it or not.
"This is a grave mistake. This is bound to produce an army of hypocrites, because, as I once said in the American University in Cairo, we would simply be replacing the Socialist Abu Za'bal [prison] with an Islamic Abu Za'bal. [...]
"It is forbidden to rule any people - Muslim or non-Muslim - according to any law, constitution, or shari'a, unless this is in keeping with the will of the people. If the majority of the people refuse to be ruled by Islam, this is their right, and it is forbidden to impose Islam upon them." [...]
Sayyed Ayad Jamal Al-Din: "Sheik [Al-Mays] said that it is God that rules. My question is: Which God? The God of the Muslims? The God of the Christians? The God of the Jews? There is more than one [notion] of God. [...]
"Everybody says that they want to instate the law of Allah. Let us be specific: Are we talking about instating the shari'a, or not? I do not support the instating of the shari'a. The shari'a constitutes a personal commitment. Whether you are a Sunni Muslim, a Shi'ite Muslim, a Christian, or a Jew - that is your own business. As for the state, it should be a neutral institution, which implements the civil law - a man-made law, not one conveyed by Allah. [...]
"Sheik [Al-Mays] said that the hypocrites are the Jews. Absolutely not. Not a single one of the [Al-Madina] hypocrites was a Jew. They were all Arabs. In pre-Islamic times, the Arab was the 'Servant-of-Me.' In Mecca, the Arab was the 'Servant-of-Him' - the servant of Allah. And in Al-Madina, the Arab became the 'Servant-of-the-State.'" [...]
Dr. Turki Al-Hamad: "In my view, when religion becomes a state, or becomes politicized, it does not serve the interest of national unity or civil stability. In the modern state, the identity of its people is based on civic identity, which in turn, requires equality - between Muslims and Christians, blacks and whites, or men and women. But in a religious state, there is perforce discrimination, because religion discriminates between men and women, between free men and slaves, and so on. So the very basis of civic identity - equality - is nullified."
Sayyed Ayad Jamal Al-Din: "Under the Rule of Islam, There is No Equality among People"
Mediator: "Does proper civic identity exist in Arab countries?"
Dr. Turki Al-Hamad: "No. Everybody talks about equality in the eyes of the law, but the truth is that some groups are marginalized, while others are privileged." [...]
Sheik Khalil Al-Mays: "Did the Arabs, from the days of the Prophet until the fall of the Ottoman Sultanate, have any regime that was not religious - regardless of whether the ruler in question was just or not? There was the religion, and there were believers of other religions, and Islam did not exclude people of other religions. On the contrary, the shari'a gave them latitude... They have their own religious law, their beliefs, and so on. Thus, according to our jurisprudence, civic identity exists. Who says that Islam wishes to exclude others? Islam strives to guide others. Whether they accept it or not - that is their business." [...]
Dr. Abd Al-Mun'im Abu Al-Futuh: "The Western peoples, who respect human rights, maintain equality, and hold free elections - not forged elections, like in the Arab world... If you say that these values of the modern state run counter to Islam, it's not true. On the contrary, they were invented by Islam. The first covenant of citizenship was drawn up by the Prophet Muhammad in Al-Madina." [...]
Mediator: "Why doesn't this work with us [Arabs]? Because we do not implement it?"
Dr. Abd Al-Mun'im Abu Al-Futuh: "No, that's not the only reason. There are groups that purport to be Islamic, but they convey a mistaken notion of Islam to the nation's youth. If you teach the nation's youth that a woman is forbidden to drive - what does this have to do with Islam? When in the Gulf states, they claim that women are forbidden to vote, does this have anything to do with Islam?" [...]
Sayyed Ayad Jamal Al-Din: "First of all, the notion of civic identity is a completely Western notion. It has absolutely nothing to do with Islam. Even the Prophet's hadith, 'The love of the homeland is part of faith,' has nothing to do with the modern notion of civic identity, which is based on equality in the eyes of the law. Under the rule of Islam, there is no equality among people. Absolutely not. A Muslim is not like a dhimmi. The term dhimmi embodies a great deal of scorn and contempt. It is as if the Christian is saying: I am under your protection, under your thumb. This is what it means..."
Mediator (to Dr. Abd Al-Mun'im Abu Al-Futuh): "He didn't interrupt you..."
Sayyed Ayad Jamal Al-Din: "The notion of civic identity is based on equality in duties and rights, but under the rule of Islam, Muslims and non-Muslims are not equal - neither in their duties, nor in their rights. [...]
"The late regime of the Taliban in Afghanistan was a pure Sunni Islamic rule. A clear Shi'ite regime is that of the Jurisprudent Ruler, who claims to be substituting the Prophet Muhammad, and... He is Allah upon the Earth, more or less.
"Whoever wants the rule of the shari'a should turn to the Taliban government or to the Ayatollah's government in Iran. Or else he should select the Western, Crusader, infidel regime, which created New Zealand and Canada, for instance, as well as human rights and the notion of liberties. These human rights do not exist in Islam." [...]
Sayyed Ayad Jamal Al-Din: A Union of Secularism and Sufism Represents the Only Hope for the Future
Audience member: "I am a Christian, and I was exiled from Iraq. There are thousands of Christian refugees here, in Lebanon. I would like to ask Sayyed Ayad whether it was Islam or politics that exiled us from Iraq." [...]
Ayad Jamal Al-Din: "The combination of the Koran and the sword is dangerous. It is more dangerous than nuclear technology. Today, people are being exiled on religious and sectarian grounds. The Christians were exiled from Iraq, and so were the Sabians. The peaceful Yazidis of Iraq were attacked. There are hardly any Sabians left in Iraq, although they are a peaceful sect.
"The sectarian deportation is all done in the name of Allah. We were plagued with an emir who would slaughter the people while praising Allah. Now they are slaughtering in the name of Allah, deporting people in the name of Allah, and burning down their homes in the name of Allah.
"This is not something new. It happened in the past as well. One emir of the Muslims came from Tunisia, which was called Africa, and he sold one million boys into slavery in Damascus, the capital of the Umayyads. In addition, 300,000 girls, aged 5-6, were sold as slave-girls. 1.3 million children were snatched from their mothers and fathers, and were sold as slaves. Is this what the Prophet Muhammad was sent for?! Was he sent to enslave people, and to sell them as slaves in the markets of Damascus, Cairo, and Baghdad? [...]
"The union of the secularism of Ataturk and the Sufism of Jalal Al-Din Rumi is the only hope for the survival of the Muslims as a nation, for the survival of Islam as a religion, and for the survival of the human within the Muslim." [...]
This is kind of the reverse side of the forced-pre-teen-marriage coin. I was not aware of the term "adhl". Unfortunately, we are wasting more synapses learning additional nomenclature from the Religion of Peace Barbarity. By Maggie Michael for AP:
CAIRO - Year after year, the 42-year-old Saudi surgeon remains single, against her will. Her father keeps turning down marriage proposals, and her hefty salary keeps going directly to his bank account.
The surgeon in the holy city of Medina knows her father, also her male guardian, is violating Islamic law by forcibly keeping her single, a practice known as "adhl." So she has sued him in court, with questionable success.
Adhl cases reflect the many challenges facing single women in Saudi Arabia. But what has changed is that more women are now coming forward with their cases to the media and the law. Dozens of women have challenged their guardians in court over adhl, and one has even set up a Facebook group for victims of the practice.
The backlash comes as Saudi Arabia has just secured a seat on the governing board of the new United Nation Women's Rights Council - a move many activists have decried because of the desert kingdom's poor record on treatment of women. Saudi feminist Wajeha al-Hawaidar describes male guardianship as "a form of slavery."
"A Saudi woman can't even buy a phone without the guardian's permission," said al-Hawaidar, who has been banned from writing or appearing on Saudi television networks because of her vocal support of women's rights. "This law deals with women as juveniles who can't be in charge of themselves at the same time it gives all powers to men."
In a recent report by the pan-Arab Al-Hayat newspaper, the National Society for Human Rights received 30 cases of adhl this year - almost certainly an undercount. A Facebook group called "enough adhl," set up by a university professor and adhl victim, estimates the number at closer to 800,000 cases. The group, with 421 members, aims at rallying support for harsher penalties against men who misuse their guardianship.
An estimated 4 million women over the age of 20 are unmarried in the country of 24.6 million. After 20, women are rapidly seen in Saudi society as getting too old to marry, said Sohila Zein el-Abdydeen, a prominent female member of the governmental National Society for Human Rights.
Fathers cite adhl for a variety of reasons - sometimes because a suitor doesn't belong to the same tribe, or a prominent enough tribe. In other cases, the father wants to keep the allowance that the government gives to single women in poorer families, or cannot afford a dowry.
Islam's holy book, the Quran, warns Muslim men not to prevent their daughters, sisters or female relatives from getting married, or else they will encourage sexual relations outside marriage. But under Saudi judges' interpretation of Islamic Shariah law, the crime can be punished by lifting the male guardianship, nothing more.
If the Saudi judges have misinterpreted Islamic sharia law, how exactly have they done so? Who interprets sharia law to mean something else? Are these Saudi judges unfamiliar with the Qur'an, the Sunnah, and the fiqh? I don't think so. I think they understand exactly what Islam teaches, what it has always taught, what it will always teach.
Hardline judges refuse to go even that far. The founder of the Facebook group, who introduced herself only as Amal Saleh in an interview with Saudi daily Al-Watan, said she set up the group after courts let down adhl victims. She said her family threatened her with "death and torture" when she pressed for her right to get married while she was under 30. She is now 37 and still single.
Some judges even punish the women themselves for rebelling against their fathers. In one high-profile adhl case, a young single mother, Samar Badawi, sued her father and demanded he be stripped of his guardianship. She fled her house in March 2008 and spent around two years in a women's protection house in Jeddah, waiting for the court ruling.
In April, she got it - she was sentenced to six months in prison for disobedience.
She was released late October, under heavy pressure from local rights group. The judge transferred guardianship to her uncle, and it is not yet clear if her uncle will let her get married.
Badawi refuses to speak to the media after her release, but her lawyer, Waleed Abu Khair, said hardline judges hate the protection shelters because they say the shelters corrupt women.
In Saudi Arabia, no woman can travel, gain admittance to a public hospital or live independently without a "mahram," or guardian. Men can beat women who don't obey, with special instructions not to pop the eye, break an arm or leave a mark on their bodies.
In the Saudi public school curriculum, boys are taught how to use their guardianship rights.
"Be jealous, beat her hands, protect her and achieve superiority over her," reads page 212 of the Prophet Sayings textbook for 11th grade.
The concept of guardianship is interpreted in conservative [sic] Islam as meaning that men are superior to women. Moderate Islamic schools of thought, however, see the practice as an order for men to protect women, financially, emotionally and physically.
This kind of apologism on behalf of Islam is like an unwelcome trip in the way-back machine to the 1920's. I know many women who do not require, or want, the "protection" of men. Does Islam give them that option? Sorry to pop your bubble, AP, but treating "your woman" as a valuable tillable field rather than a worthless tillable field is not much of a step up.
Radwa Youssef, an activist, said the answer is not to abolish guardianship but to redefine it. Since 2009, she has collected 5,400 signatures for a campaign called "Our Guardians Know Best." She said many women who go against their male guardians' will marry the wrong men and bring shame on their families.
And we all know what happens next when a woman brings shame on her family.
"I see guardians as bodyguards who are serving women and protecting them; it is a responsibility, not a source of power," Youssef said. "If there is a male misusing his powers, he should be introduced to rehabilitation sessions to advise and guide him."
The Medina Surgeon, as the Saudi media tagged her, has been waiting for justice since 2006.
The surgeon, who has Canadian, British and Saudi certification, filed a lawsuit to drop her father's mandate. But despite a paper trail carrying testimonies from suitors turned away by her father, bank documents that show her father taking over her salary, medical reports showing physical abuse, and the fact that her four other single sisters over 30 face the same destiny, no ruling has yet been issued.
The only answer she gets from the judge is to go back to her father and seek reconciliation.
"He wants me to go to death," she told The Associated Press over the phone from Medina, speaking on condition of anonymity because she feared family retaliation. "Until when I am going to wait? ...The prophet Mohamed himself wouldn't have allowed adhl to take place."
The surgeon lives in a "protection house," one of dozens scattered around the kingdom for victims of adhl and domestic violence. Under a fake name, she gets escorted to courts accompanied by guards, fearing retaliation from her father.
She recalled her last encounter with her father inside the court: "I kissed his feet. I begged him to let me free, for the sake of God."
She turns 43 next month.
If she were to marry, I have my doubts that her husband would treat her (and any daughters) any better than her father. But the choice of whether to marry, and to whom, should be hers and hers alone.
Israel: Wikileaks Revelations Buttress Its Iran Policy
From The Christian Science Monitor:
Israel greets WikiLeaks cables as vindication of its Iran policy
The latest WikiLeaks release of documents gives Israel proof that its Arab neighbors, even those that are sworn enemies of the Jewish state, share its concerns about Iran.
Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, speaks during an annual meeting with journalists in Tel Aviv Nov. 29. Netanyahu said on Monday leaked US diplomatic cables had exposed widespread Arab fear of Iran's nuclear program and vindicated his priorities in peacemaking.
By Joshua Mitnick, Correspondent
posted November 29, 2010 at 10:00 am EST
Tel Aviv -
Wikileaks' publication of US diplomatic cables could have sparked a fresh controversy between Israel and its most important ally after a year of strained relations.
But instead, Wikileaks' release of the documents on Sunday has proved to be something of a public relations coup for Israel: on-the-record confirmation that its Arab neighbors are just as frightened as the Jewish state by a nuclear Iran. The cables confirmed previous anonymous reports that Israel has quiet partners in the region pushing the US to take bolder steps to stop what they consider an existential threat.
"I don't see any damage. Quite the opposite,' said Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, in an interview with Israel Radio. "Maybe there's an indirect benefit that the truth is coming out, that the entire Middle East, including Arab states, are very fearful from the Iranian nuclear threat, and are calling on the West to be much more aggressive toward Iran.'
Candid assessments from Arab states
Analysts and officials pointed to candid assessments from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt that Iran posed the biggest strategic threat to regional stability. The assessments even stressed the need for considering conventional attacks on Tehran before its nuclear program becomes operational. Other officials pointed to a US diplomatic report in which Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad is compared to Adolf Hitler.
The revelation of regional support for Israel's hard-line approach to Iran was seen as such a boon that Sever Plocker, a columnist for the daily Yediot Ahronot newspaper, quipped, "If the WikiLeaks site did not exist, Israel would have to invent it.'
"The massive leak of American diplomatic telegrams indicates a single picture, sharp and clear," he added. "The entire world, not just Israel, is panicked over the Iranian nuclear program.'
New details about Israel's Iran strategy and relations with Arab neighbors - such as Mossad chief Meir Dagan's plan for regime change in Iran, and repeated Israeli warnings about Tehran's looming nuclear weapons program - were played down by analysts and officials as unsurprising.
Cables could weaken US - and thus Israel
But beyond the momentary public relations dividend, one Israeli veteran of diplomacy said the widespread fear of Iran among America's Arab allies does not bode well for the Obama administration's foreign policy - particularly its efforts to engage Iran diplomatically.
"When Obama decided on negotiating with Iran, he was doing exactly the opposite of what the American allies are thinking,' says Shlomo Avineri, a political science professor at Hebrew University and a former director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry. "Obama has made all of his friends nervous, and the Iranians are spitting in his face."
Other observers said the publication of classified US communiques weakens the international standing of Israel's most important ally - a trend that could hamper Arab-Israeli peace mediation efforts and ultimately weaken Israel, which relies heavily on the diplomatic and military weight of the United States.
"The superpower looks weakened,' says Alon Liel, a former director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry. "The fact that the US doesn't look good especially in the Middle East ... lowers the chances for Israel to become an integral part of the region.'
[is this possible? Is it conceivable that a "former director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry would believe, for an instant, that Israel has "chances," has any chance at all, to "become an integral part of the [Muslim Arab] region"? Is Aron Liel completely oblivious to Islam? Why would he have thought Israel could ever "become an integral part of the region"? Not possible. An absurd idea, and even thinking in those terms is dangerous.
Apparently There Is Some Sort Of Vicious Anti-Israel Boycott Planned
I have learned that tomorrow, November 30th, a boycott of stores selling Israeli products tomorrow, at least on the east coast of the United States is planned by the usual antisemites ("anti-Israel activists") who want you to think that antisemitism has nothing to do with their devout devotion to principle.. I am not buying that claim, not for a minute. But for more than a minute I shall roll my cart dutifully up and down the aisles, seeking Israeli products, fruits, vegetables, humus, tabouleh, that sort of thing. I don't think Israel produces a local variant of Parmigiano Reggiano, but I'm mre than willing to risk, as the song says, an olive or two. And so, having read this far, if you live near stores that might be affected by such a boycott and thus in need of a vigorous counter-boycott, perhaps will you.
ISLAMABAD - A Pakistani man who says he lost his son and brother in an American missile attack in the northwest threatened Monday to sue the CIA unless he receives compensation, a move that will draw attention to civilian casualties in such strikes.
Kareem Khan and his lawyers said they were seeking $500 million in two weeks or they would sue CIA director Leon Panetta, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and a man they said was the CIA's station chief in Islamabad for "wrongful death" in a Pakistani court.
The United States does not publicly admit to firing missiles into northwest Pakistan close to the Afghan border, much less say who they are targeting or whether civilians are also being killed. Privately, officials say they are taking out al-Qaida and Taliban militants and dispute accounts that innocents often die.
Pakistani officials, who face criticism from their own people for allowing the attacks, rarely discuss them.
Khan said his 18-year-old son, Zaenullah Khan and his brother Asif Iqbal were killed on Dec. 31 last year in the town of Mir Ali in North Waziristan. The third victim was a mason who was staying at the house, he said. Khan said his son and Iqbal were teachers.
"The people who were martyred were innocent," Khan told a media conference in Islamabad alongside his lawyer, Mirza Shahzad Akbar. "They did not have links with any terrorist group, nor they were wanted."
"They did not have links with any terrorist group" can probably be translated from jihadispeak as "they were not part of the Crusader occupying force", "they were not Zionists". Of course the martyrs are innocent, they were striving for the cause of Allah.
There have been more than 100 such attacks this year, more than twice than in 2009. The attacks began in 2005, but picked up pace in 2007 and have increased ever since. The border region is out of bounds for non-locals and much of it is under the control of militants, meaning independent reporting on who is being killed is nearly impossible.
There is no proof that the dead are who Khan says they are, or that they are in any way related to Khan, or that they were not mujahadeen engaged in jihad, or that the C.I.A. was the one who killed them.Other than that, it sounds like an airtight case.
Half a billion dollars. Where did Khan get the idea that the wealthy, naive, and generous kuffar would hand out bags of money to Muslims as if they were meaningless trinkets, without any expectations in return?
One hundred famous Norwegians, led by the country's national football coach, have signed a petition demanding a cultural and academic boycott of Israel, accusing its educational institutions of "playing a key role in the occupation" and equating it with apartheid.
A Norwegian ex-premier denounced their boycott call.
Egil Drillo Olsen, coach for the national Norwegian football team, recently wrote in Aftenposten, the country's second largest paper, that the call to boycott Israel was "in line with what 90 percent of the world's population believes. There cannot be many other opinions."
So who are these "famous Norwegians"? If you have to ask, you can't a fjord it.
On a February trip to the Middle East, Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry (D-MA) told Qatari leaders that the Golan Heights should be returned to Syria, that a Palestinian capital should be established in East Jerusalem as part of the Arab-Israeli peace process, and that he was "shocked" by what he saw on a visit to Gaza.
Kerry discussed the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in a visit to Qatar during separate meetings with Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani and the Emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa, as revealed by the disclosure of diplomatic cables by the website WikiLeaks.
The emir told Kerry to focus on Syria as the path toward resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Kerry agreed with the emir that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is a man who wants change but pointed out that his arming of Hezbollah and interference in Lebanese politics were unhelpful. Kerry said that Assad "needs to make a bolder move and take risks" for peace, and that he should be "more statesman-like."Kerry also agreed with the emir that the Golan Heights should be given back to Syria at some point.
"The Chairman added that Netanyahu also needs to compromise and work the return of the Golan Heights into a formula for peace," the diplomatic cable reported.
As for the peace process, Kerry defended the Obama administration's drive to use indirect proximity talks (which were only being discussed at that time) as a stepping stone to direct talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians. He said the two sides should first agree on the amount of land to be swapped and then work on borders, followed by settlements.
Kerry also said that final agreement would have to include a Palestinian state with a capital in East Jerusalem.
"Any negotiation has its limits, added Senator Kerry, and we know for the Palestinians that control of Al-Aqsa mosque and the establishment of some kind of capital for the Palestinians in East Jerusalem are not negotiable," the cable stated, summarizing the meeting with the emir. "For the Israelis, the Senator continued, Israel's character as a Jewish state is not open for negotiation. The non-militarization of an eventual Palestinian state and its borders can nonetheless be resolved through negotiation."
In a separate meeting the day before with the prime minister, Kerry resisted the Qatari leader's assertion that Hamas was ready to accept the existence of the State of Israel, but he agreed that urgent action was needed to rebuild Gaza.
According to the leaked diplomatic cable, the prime minister told Kerry, "We need to broker a quick reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah and move forward quickly on rebuilding Gaza.... Senator Kerry asserted that HBJ [Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani] was preaching to the converted and told the PM he was 'shocked by what I saw in Gaza.'"
In a telling exchange at the end of his meeting with the emir, the Qatari ruler gave Kerry some advice for dealing with the Iranian government.
"The Amir closed the meeting by offering that based on 30 years of experience with the Iranians, they will give you 100 words. Trust only one of the 100," the cable said.
'A man wearing an Afghan police uniform has killed six NATO troops during a training session in eastern Afghanistan, making it the latest in a series of similar shootings.
(How many is it by now, exactly? I haven't been keeping track, but this sort of thing seems to have happened so often, by now, that it ought to be regarded, dismally, as the rule rather than the exception. And once it is, all sorts of other conclusions ought to follow. - CM).
"An individual in an Afghan border police uniform turned his weapon against International Security Assistance Forces [ISAF] during a training mission today, killing six service members in eastern Afghanistan" ISAF said.
'The man was also killed in the incident and a joint Afghan-NATO team is investigating, the military announced in a short statement.
'ISAF did not reveal the casualties' nationalities, in line with its policy, but Americans make up most of the foreign troops based in eastern Afghanistan.
'The United States is bankrolling a massive program to build Afghanistan's army and police so they can take over responsibility for security by 2014.
'But the program has been troubled by a series of shootings by insurgents dressed in Afghan security uniforms or rogue officers.
'This month NATO said it was investigating whether an Afghan soldier killed two coalition troops on a military base in the volatile town of Sangin in southern Helmand province.
'NATO troops share bases with Afghan soldiers and police, leaving coalition forces vulnerable to attacks by infiltrators.
(Infiltrators? There need not be an infiltrator as such; just a perfectly ordinary Afghan soldier or policeman, indistinguishable beforehand from the others, who decides at some point to act upon his core Islamic programming and - like a certain Muslim soldier did on American soil, at Fort Hood - Go Jihad on those so-temptingly vulnerable Infidels all around him. - CM).
Un malentendu ? Le 19 novembre 2009, un t�l�gramme diplomatique am�ricain envoy� de Tel-Aviv relate des propos de Nimrod Barkan, le directeur de la prospective au sein du minist�re isra�lien des affaires �trang�res. Celui-ci �voque un "r�sum� inexact", fait par des repr�sentants fran�ais, d'un briefing fourni par des officiels isra�liens, dans le cadre d'un s�ance r�cente du "dialogue strat�gique" franco-isra�lien, lanc� en 2008.
Le Quai d'Orsay, pr�cise ce document obtenu par WikiLeaks et consult� par Le Monde, avait "fait �tat d'affirmations isra�liennes selon lesquelles la Turquie, avec le plein accord du premier ministre Erdogan, avait facilit� la fourniture de mat�riaux d'ordre militaire au programme nucl�aire de l'Iran". Nimrod Barkan veut rectifier cette version fran�aise, livr�e aux Am�ricains. "D'apr�s Barkan, Isra�l est pr�occup� que la Turquie 'se transforme en plate-forme' permettant � l'Iran d'�chapper aux sanctions financi�res qui le visent ", �crit le diplomate am�ricain.
Le t�l�gramme am�ricain ajoute un commentaire : "Barkan a soulign� devant nous qu'il ne croyait pas que les Fran�ais aient pu mal comprendre son briefing. Affirmer, de mani�re erron�e, qu'Isra�l consid�re que la Turquie coop�re avec le programme nucl�aire militaire de l'Iran est suffisamment grave, estime-t-il, pour qu'il soit n�cessaire de r�tablir les faits."
Summarizing the above, the French Foreign Ministry, under the distinctly unreliable Bernard Kouchner, reported -- incorrectly -- that the Israelis had charged Turkey with furnishing military aid to Iran's nuclear program. The Israelis never made such a claim, and because of the gravity of such a matter (and the consequences for Israel if it had made such a wild charge), Nimrod Barkan made a point of communicating to the Americans as follows:
"Barkan emphasized to us [the American diplomats] that he didn't believe the French had misunderstood his briefing. To affirm, so erroneously, that Israel believed that Turkey was cooperating with the iranian government on its nuclear project was deemed sufficiently grave, in his judgment, as to require that the facts be set forth correctly."
Very little of what has so far been revealed in the documents released by Wikileaks was unknown or new, but some of it is piquant nonetheless. The Berlusconi-Putin friendship, for example, may be unknown outside Italy, but inside Italy, it is well-known because of the very large, California-Plus-Size bed that Putin gave to Berlusconi, That bed, known as Il Lettone di Putin, has been getting plenty of play over the past few years, as first one youthful demi-mondaine after another describes parties at Berlusconi's playhouse at Arcore, where girls were told "Aspettmi nel lettone di Putin" -- "wait for me in Putin's bed" while I, Berlusconi the Great, finish up some partying, and more joke-telling (Berlusconi is fond of barzellete, the jokes that are such an important part of Italian life) with my friends here.
Like so much of what is now being solemn-breathlessly reported as revelatory, the mutual admiration of those two caudillos, Berlusconi and Putin, was already well-known to tens of millons of Italians.
There is a Facebook page called "Il Lettone di Putin."
There is a website, run by Greg Petrelli, called "Il Lettone di Putin."
However, if the appearance in Wikileaks makes some more aware of this beds-make-strange-political-fellows alliance, that's fine. Berlusconi is a clown and a crook. Putin a non-clown and a crook. I haven't heard stories about Putin telling underage girls to "wait for me in Berlusconi's bed while these kind foreigners make out a check for my finder's fee."
It's hard to measure, from a distance, the ithyphallic impulse in this or that foreign leader, and perhaps Putin has less of a mania for such things than Berlusconi apparently does.