"I would simply say that it is our belief, and it's the belief that we express in these conversations, that supporting the Assad regime is placing oneself or one's nation on the wrong side of history," said White House spokesman Jay Carney.
La défaite de Nicolas Sarkozy, le 6 mai, a été comprise, par les liquidateurs de l’identité nationale, comme leur propre victoire. Pour eux, rien n’est plus insupportable à entendre que les références à l’histoire et à la civilisation occidentale. Mardi, dans L’Humanité, l’historien Nicolas Offensdadt invitait à "sortir d’urgence du "roman national "", en critiquant l’"héritage sarkozyste" qui reposerait "sur une histoire de "la gloire française" à vocation identitaire et bling-bling, conçue par des grands hommes, de grands événements" (1). Ce drôle d’historien, qui prône un "usage modéré de l’histoire avec des références républicaines valorisant la période postrévolutionnaire", espère bien que les socialistes abandonneront le projet de Maison de l’histoire de France, accusé d’avoir été "pensé comme une illustration historique de l’identité nationale". Aucune critique n’avait évidemment été portée quand il s’était agi d’ouvrir la Cité nationale de l’histoire de l’immigration, Palais de la Porte Dorée, à Paris. Et dans Le Monde daté de ce mercredi, un journaliste pose à Laurent Fabius, ministre des affaires étrangères, cette question : "La France doit-elle, selon vous, porter un message qui la démarque de la notion de "famille occidentale?"". Fabius : "Nous n’entrerons certainement pas dans une logique de "conflit de civilisation". Ce gouvernement croit à des principes comme le respect des droits de l’homme, la démocratie, le développement durable, l’internationalisme, la recherche de la paix".
Si les mots ont un sens, Fabius reconnaît donc implicitement l’existence d’un possible conflit de civilisation entre l’Occident et le monde musulman, qui n’est ici pas désigné mais suggéré. Ce choc, que nient les autruches, est bien sûr une réalité comme le rappelle Hamid Zanaz, qui sait de quoi il parle pour en être le témoin (2): "Il serait instructif de traduire aux Occidentaux les médisances et les insultes dont ils sont l’objet dans la presse, dans les prêches et dans les déclarations politiques… ! Le discours dominant dans le monde arabo-musulman est hostile à l’Occident et à ses religions. Pourquoi ne parle-t-on jamais d’ "Occidentalophobie" ?". La réponse évasive du numéro deux du gouvernement est à rapprocher du jugement de Jean-Luc Mélenchon, pour qui "La France n’est pas une nation occidentale mais une nation universaliste". Cette analyse laisse comprendre qu’au lieu de protéger la civilisation occidentale et ses valeurs laïques, égalitaires et humanistes (déclaration qui avait valu à Claude Guéant, ancien ministre de l’intérieur, d’être accusé de racisme et d’islamophobie), les socialistes sont prêts aux abandons nécessaires de l’encombrant héritage occidental. On sait où cette politique de l’apaisement a déjà mené la France avec Daladier. Ecouter Einstein : "La folie c’est de faire encore et toujours la même chose en s’attendant à des résultats différents".
(1) Mon confrère Pierre Darcourt rend un bel hommage aux héros militaires que se sont battus pour la France, dans un petit livre qui vient de paraître : L’honneur et le sang, Les guerriers sacrifiés, Edition Nimrod
(2) Hamid Zanaz: L’islamisme vrai visage de l’islam, Les éditions de Paris
Coup de chapeau également à l’écrivain algérien Boualem Sansal, qui se bat pour les libertés dans son pays, a qui le magazine Stiletto a remis, mardi à Paris, le prix du Roman-news pour Rue Darwin (Gallimard).
Rutherford County has no immediate plans revoke the building permit for an embattled Murfreesboro mosque.
“The county is going to look at all the possibilities,” said Jim Cope, attorney for Rutherford County. “This could take weeks.”
Construction at the new Islamic Center of Murfreesboro was set to continue today, despite a judge’s decision that voided the county planning commission’s approval of the project. But the judge did not order a stop to the construction.
Opponents of the mosque want construction to end immediately. Mosque officials say the work will continue until they get official word to stop.
“There are two sides here that disagree,” said Cope. “The county is not the umpire here.”
Cope said that county officials are waiting for a court order from Judge Robert Corlew III before taking their next step. They could file a motion to reconsider or appeal the judge’s decision.
Blocking the mosque project could lead to a federal lawsuit under the religious anti-discrimination laws.
Did the Justice Department make a threatening phone call? Most likely.
“There are a lot of moving parts in this,” said Cope.
Statement of Kevin Fisher Lead Plaintiff in Murfreesboro Mosque Case
Kevin Fisher, Protest Rally Organizer and Lead Plaintiff Rutherford County Courthouse July 14, 2010
The following is a official statement issued by Kevin Fisher, lead plaintiff in the successful Rutherford County Chancery Court case with the ruling issued yesterday by Chancellor Robert E. Corwell, III, Fisher has been in the forefront of protests and litigation regarding the Rutherford County Planning Commission decision on May 24, 2010 approving the construction of a Mega-Mosque for the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro.
Statement of Kevin Fisher
May 29, 2012
Statement of Kevin Fisher, lead Plaintiff in Victorious in Mufreesboro Chancery Court Proceeding
I would like to take a moment to thank all the citizens of Rutherford County who have stuck by us throughout this process. For two long years, we residents have had to unfairly be subjected to name-calling, false accusations of bigotry and religious discrimination, and having the very moral integrity of this fair and loving community questioned. We took the proverbial "high road," opting not to descend into the political and controversial madness of outsiders, agitators, and rabble-rousers, and chose instead to trust in our faith in God, in our community, our system of government, and in the bedrock principles and values upon which this great country was founded. This morning, we citizens of Rutherford County woke up to a new day full of hope, promise and an even stronger belief that justice is alive, well, and breathing freely in the USA!
We will continue our efforts. There is still a lot of work to do, far too many questions left unanswered, and too many concerns unaddressed. Even after two years, not one issue aside from the issue over adequate notice has been addressed concerning the project itself. Not one! Nothing has been said about lost property values, water drainage, traffic concerns, burials, to name just a few. I call on every citizen of this community to contact your commissioners, contact your planning committee members, and call your neighbors. Voice your concerns, and take part in this process. Make your voices heard. Joe Brandon and Thomas Smith have been pillars of strength, knowledge and integrity throughout this process, and true defenders of our rights and freedoms guaranteed to all citizens by the Constitution of this great land. God bless them, and please continue to uplift them, in prayer and in commerce. We simply could not have asked for two better, more determined guarantors of justice! At the beginning of this endeavor, we promised to challenge every blade of grass cut paving the way for this project, and thanks to Joe and Tom, we have done this!
Finally, this ruling by our honorable Judge Robert Corwell, III was more than a victory for us, the plaintiffs in this case. This was a victory for every hard working, taxpaying citizen of this great community. This victory shows that today, here in America, the rights of everyday citizens like you and I must be respected, and that our voices and our concerns must be heard and addressed. This ruling so clearly showed that this government, corrupted as it may be, is still beholden and fully accountable to its citizens, and not the other way around. We are that "shining city" President Reagan so often alluded to.
I am truly honored to say thank you to all my fellow plaintiffs, with a special thank you to Mr. Henry Golzynski. This man has been an inspiration to me throughout this process, and to Henry I say thank you and your family for the sacrifices made by your son Marc and other soldiers in defense of America and all its citizens. We have never, and will never forget. To Howard and Sally Wall, God bless you for standing with this community, as you always have. Lou Ann Zelenick, thank you for being a friend, a great source of information, and an inspiration to me and many others involved in this process. Finally, but certainly not least, to all the wonderful volunteers, families, associates and friends who have joined us along the way. Thank you for your countless hours of dedication and perseverance in the face of scathing adversity and unrelenting pressure. I am proud of my community, I always have been, and will forever be, a proud Rutherford Countian! Today, and every day are great days to be alive, and living in Tennessee.
One final note: to Mr. Saleh Sbenaty, a resident of this community for many years. Sir, I urge you and call on you now to refrain from unfairly criticizing and besmirching the wonderful, reputable members of this community with your false accusations of bigotry and religious discrimination. These tactics do nothing but incite fear, hate and make the process of ensuring the freedoms and rights of all citizens much more difficult. I'm sure this is not your intent; you seem to be a genuinely reputable man of great integrity, and I applaud you for your many years of service as an educator in this community. As a taxpayer in this community, you have earned your right to share in the political process of this community, and I welcome your input anytime, anyplace about relevant political and social issues facing this wonderful community, and about this proposed facility. However, it is highly inappropriate to continue to question the dedication of this community to fairness, equality, and opportunity for all its citizens, and I would welcome you to join us in addressing genuine concerns facing this project and to refrain from the hurtful name-calling which has wounded this beloved community to its core. Thank you.
Copts Are "Traitors" For Not Having Supported The Muslim Brotherhood
From AINA (Assyrian International News Agency)
-- The official results of the first round of the Egyptian presidential elections were announced today, the run-off will be between Mohamed Morsy, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, and Air Marshal Ahmad Shafik, Mubarak's last PM, who served for less than one month during the revolution and before Mubarak was ousted.
This results, which were expected since Friday, has enraged many Egyptians who feel that they are left with two options, each worst than the other, namely either going back to the Mubarak regime represented by Shafik or the Islamists who will drag Egypt into being another Afghanistan or Iran. Nasserist candidate Hamdeed Sabahy, favored by a great number of youth -- especially those who participated in the 25 January Revolution, came in third.
Many Islamists, fearing Shafik if he comes to power, especially after vowing to bring back order and security within one month of his election, are blaming Copts for voting for Shafik and bringing him to second place. Copts have been accused of being "traitors" and "anti-revolutionary" for voting to bring back the old regime.
Nearly 6,000,000 Christian Copts were eligible to vote, from a total Coptic population of 18,000,000 Copts (according to the Church's data).
These accusations against the Copts, which started last Friday after the preliminary elections results were released, are seen by many as a real threat to Copts. "These accusations are part of a terror and intimidation campaign to prevent them from voting again for Shafik," said Egyptian writer Saad Namnam, "or even boycotting the elections altogether, which would be the same as voting for Morsy."
Two days ago The Islamic group Gama'a al-Islamiyya issued a statement which said that the advance of Ahmed Shafik in the elections was due to several reasons. Firstly "sectarian voting, where the Copts gave their votes to Shafik at the direction of the church, which is unfortunate."
"We have been bombarded by the media by accusations from the revolutionary youths and prominent Islamist leaders," said Caroline Asaad, of Maspero Coptic Youths Federation. "Our friends at college, work and our neighbors all accuse the Egyptian Church of high treason by directing Copts to vote for Shafik." Caroline said she voted for Sabahi while her parents voted for Shafik.
"What did they want us to do?" said Coptic activist Mark Ebeid. "Whoever says that supporting Shafik is a crime against the '25 January Revolution', we ask him to advise us whom to vote for? The sea is in front of us and the Islamists are behind us."
Dr Emad Gad, MP and deputy director of Al-Ahram Centre for Strategic Studies, said this campaign against the Copts is a prepared strategy by the Muslim Brotherhood to increase the chances of their candidate in the run-off election, by promoting a lie that votes of the Copts helped Shafik to advance. "This is not true at all. The largest block of votes for Shafik was in the four provinces of the Delta, namely Sharkia, Gharbia, Menoufiah and Dakahila, where the Copts make up only 5% of the total population." He added that the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists usually say the total number of the Copts does not exceed 6% of the population. "So does this ratio have the ability to turn the election results upside down?"
Christian politician George Ishaq, of the Dostor Party, said that it is not true that the Coptic vote was behind Shafik getting second place. "To accuse the Christians of all voting for Shafik is not true, as the Christians are not one voting block. Christian youths voted for Hamdeen Sabahi, those who are older voted for Shafik and Amr Moussa." He added that those who voted for Shafik were the "remnants" of the Mubarak regime and members of his dissolved NDP Party, some Christians who fear a religious state as well as all those who fear the Revolution.
This was confirmed by results of a Coptic voting trends survey carried out by Coptic website Christian Dogma. The results were divided between Shafik, Ex-Arab League Secretary Amr Moussa and Hamdeen Sabahi.
Dr. Gad believes the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups want to bring religion into the elections again, as votes for their candidate Morsy have declined, having received only half the votes the Muslim Brotherhood got in the parliamentary elections.
"There is no better way to reap votes like getting religion into elections; to do so you have to mobilize people through religion," says Dr. Gad. "You also deprive your opponent of his supporters or the largest number of them, and the easiest way to do this in Egypt is to speak to uneducated or simple Egyptians, and tell them that your rival is the candidate of the Church, and Copts support him." He said that the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamists tried it in the parliamentary elections and succeeded. "Certainly, the Muslim Brotherhood's plan to seize the post of President during the run-off is to 'religionalize' the run-off on the one hand and intensify talk about Coptic support for Shafik on the other."
Some TV programs and their guests defended the Copts. "Copts should not be blamed, but blame those who terrorized them," said ex-presidential candidate Khaled Ali. Most media guests said the dismal performance of Islamists in parliament was the reason why voters turned away from them to other candidates, especially those looking for stability.
Egyptians who voted for Shafik believe that they would not re-elect him after four years if he fails them, but with the Muslim Brotherhood, they believe they would never get rid of them once they have control of all the organs of government.
Bishop Anba Pachomius, the acting Patriarch of Coptic Church, denied that the Church had any role in Shafik reaching the run-off election, saying that the Coptic citizen has the right to choose the next president who represents his aspirations, and no one has any right to dictate to him any opinion. He added that the church did not decide so far on a particular candidate to support for the run-off election before considering his stance on Article II of the Constitution, which is vital for this decision, as it should also ensure that Copts resort to their laws and their holy books with regards to their personal status laws. Article II states "Islam is the Religion of the State. Arabic is its official language, and the principal source of legislation is Islamic Jurisprudence [Sharia]."
In an interview published in al-Dostor Daily on Sunday, Bishop Pachomius pointed the necessity to specify the criteria that must be met in the presidential candidate, "mainly believing in a secular state, the principle of citizenship, the adoption of the common law for building of houses of worship, and the personal laws for non-Muslims." The Coptic Orthodox Church had issued a statement before the elections saying that it is not endorsing any candidate.
Tarek el Zomor, a prominent figure of the Gama'a al-Islamiyya "demanded an apology from the Copts "for voting for Shafik, as "this was a fatal error." This has enraged Copts.
"What if most Christians agreed among themselves to have allegiance to the candidate with the least inclinations towards a religious State? Where is the offense in it and why wonder about it?" commented Coptic activist Wagih Yacoub. "Did they really expect a Christian to choose a president to represent him from those who cut off the ear of a Christian (AINA 3-26-2011), blocked the railways in objection to the appointment of a Christian governor in Qena (AINA 5-3-2011), burn down several churches and who are diligently working to write a Constitution which undermines the rights of Christians? Then I do not know what apology is demanded from us Christians by Zomor? And to whom? And why?"
Tarek El-Zomor was convicted in 1984 for his role in the assassination of Egypt's former President Anwar Sadat and for belonging to the Islamic Jihad group. He was released by the military council in March 2011.
On Saturday May 26, during a TV interview on Al Nahar TV with prominent presenter Mahmoud Saad, Dr. Morsy said that Egypt is for everyone and that Muslims and Christians are equal before the law. Addressing the Copts, Morsy said that he cannot imagine that there is any Copt who would contribute towards the return of the former regime.
Morsy wondered whether over the past 80 years (since the Muslim Brotherhood was founded) if anyone has heard of any attack by a member of the Muslim Brotherhood against any Copt. He said that Copts took part in the Revolution and the bullets of the former regime did not differentiate between a Muslim or Copt. He vowed to the Copts that they will be Egyptian citizens before the law, in their rights and duties (video).
Addressing Morsy, popular anchor Amr Adib said yesterday during his program Cairo Today, which is viewed by millions of Egyptians,it is no good making promises on TV. "If you want the votes of the Copts then give them a signed document that it is possible for a Copt to be president or vice-president of Egypt, or even that a Copt could be allowed to be head of the Gynecology Department at a hospital, of which they are deprived."
Two successive administrations now have sought to appease Muslims by minimizing the threat from Islamists. Indeed, science has now been enlisted in that effort. Early stimulus came from the White House.
Hours after 9/11, a Republican president allowed a host of Saudi elites to flee the US by chartered aircraft before the blood was dry at the World Trade Center. Never mind that most of the Manhattan suicide martyrs were Saudis. The political cue then was meant for domestic and foreign consumption; to wit, America would not hold passive aggressors, sponsor nations, or Islamic propaganda, accountable for the atrocities of “extremists.”
From the beginning, the majority of Muslims were anointed “moderates,” on the authority of an asserted conclusion. Concurrently, fellaheen danced in the streets of Arabia. No matter; blame for the terror threat was still confined to specific non-government agents like al Qa’eda or the Taliban. By fiat, Islamic terrorism was fenced as isolated criminal phenomena with local motives; in short, militant jihad was represented as a perversion of, not a tenet of, Islamic theology or Muslim politics.
This politically correct illusion was reinforced by an Obama administration in a series of forays into the Ummah where the American president declared unequivocally that America, and NATO by extension, is not at war with Islam or Muslims. Never mind that NATO or American troops might be killing Muslims in four, or is it five, separate venues. “We are not at war!” was the party line. And never mind that Obama has yet to visit Israel as president.
Less well known is the “independent” science which now backfills or rationalizes the political Esperanto of the last decade. A RAND Corporation report, How Terrorist Groups End: Lessons for Countering al Qai’da, is an example. Notice the assumption embedded in the title; “counter” not defeat. The body of the report is devoted to asserting that terror (a military tactic) is best addressed by political, not military means. Separating war, an amalgam of tactics and strategy, from politics is not an assumption that Churchill or Eisenhower would have made. A politically correct world-view turns logic on its head; tactics are confused with strategy.
The RAND report ignores the larger strategic phenomena of jihadbis saif and protected Islamist hate mongering. But the bottom line of this “systematic” analysis is the most revealing: “Terrorists should be perceived as criminals, not holy warriors.” Such assertions are a kind of strategic masochism, not science; not even common sense.
How the West views Islam is more important then how Islamists act - or see themselves? By such logic, Arizona sheriffs might be deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, or Pakistan instead of the US Marines. And by such logic, where might the holy warriors, if caught, be tried; lower Manhattan? Treating terror as crime allows the lazy analyst with an agenda to dismiss the political implications of Islamism.
Another RANDpaper on another recent South Asia massacre, entitled “Lessons of Mumbai,” is an even better example of cooked books; a case where analysis and credibility is undone by evidence ignored.
The Mumbai attack was unique in two respects; a small Jewish center was targeted, the occupants were slaughtered; and the hotel hostages were then screened for religious affiliation – again, seeking Jews. It’s a safe bet that none of the Mumbai killers were ever stopped at an Israeli checkpoint or lost a building lot in east Jerusalem. This attack was planned and executed with motives removed from the usual; the India/Pakistan rift or the Israel/Fattah impasse. Mumbai was clearly motivated, in part, by a strain of virulent, contagious, and global anti-Semitism. No mention of this appears in Lessons of Mumbai’s “key judgments.”
The recent terror attack, against a religious school in Toulouse, France, is a macabre echo of Mumbai. A rabbi and four young Jewish children were shot at point blank range by Mohamed Merah, a home grown Arab terrorist of Moroccan origin. Let’s assume for sake of argument that Israeli intransigence is the source of Muslim anger. How does blowing a little girl’s brains out advance the “two state solution?”
The global bloom of anti-Semitism since the turn of the 21st Century is no accident. Those who ignore it, especially scientists at places like RAND, make it possible. Ironically, many of RAND’s most eminent researchers are or have been Jewish.
(This Mumbai report also reinforces suspicions about non-profit excess. Lessons of Mumbai is a mere 25 pages long, yet lists ten (sic) authors; an average of two and a half pages per analyst. Makes you wonder how many scientists are required to screw in light bulbs in Santa Monica. Clearly, featherbedding is not just restricted to government operations.)
Some recent RAND national security analysis may actually qualify as apologetics. The 2010 paper entitled Would-be Warriors analyzes the incidence of terrorism in the US since 9/11. The paper actually ends with the assumptions, concluding:
“There is no evidence (sic) that America’s Muslim community is becoming more radical. America’s psychological vulnerability is on display…panic is the wrong message to send.”
“No evidence” - or none that RAND can detect from the sands of Santa Monica? If sixteen US intelligence agencies didn’t connect the dots before 9/11, while suicide bombers were training in America; RAND’s statistical assurances ring more than a little hollow. Islamic terror didn’t begin with the barbarisms in lower Manhattan in any case. And assertions about psychological vulnerability or “panic” are straw men or worse. Who panicked in the wake of the Twin Towers atrocity? Indifference or political apathy maybe; but surely not panic.
And on US Muslim radicalization, clearly RAND statisticians rarely audit student sentiment at any urban “occupy” rallies or any California campus when an Israeli speaker appears. Nor does the RAND analysis account for the New Black Panther Party (NBPP) or the fact that this home grown political movement was recently hijacked by radical Muslim American bigots. Anti-Semitism is ever the canary in the geo-strategic coal mine. The NBPP’s most recent outrage was to threaten to burn the city of Detroit at a city council meeting.
In the interests of fairness, we should point out that other non-profits, PEW Research Center for example, also fail to account for the sea change in the very visible American Black Panthers. PEW claims to be non-partisan, but apparently that doesn’t rule out political correctness. Indeed, with modern pollsters and sociologists, American Muslim groups like the Panthers and the Nation of Islam seem to enjoy a double immunity; race and religion. Somehow such groups are, at the same time, Islamic; but not Muslim.
The growth of radical Islam in African American communities is complimented by a surge in prisons nationwide. Congress and Public Television seem to have access to prison data, but non-profits like RAND and PEW apparently do not work in those neighborhoods.
The creation of veiled apologetics is not as worrisome as the pervasive misuse of such “scientific” analysis. Part of the problem may lay with endowments. Like more than a few major universities, RAND courts Arab or Muslim good will for the same reason that Willie Sutton frequented banks. That’s where the money is.
Attempts to curry Arab favor are underwritten by a priori beliefs about Muslim “moderation.” Assumptions about what Muslims believe may make terror possible, providing a permanent rationalization, a kind of laissezpasser for militants.
Today, RAND has one of the richest nest eggs outside of Harvard yard. And clearly, the designation “non-profit” is an oxymoron. The more appropriate designation would be “untaxable” – for reasons yet to be justified. Successful think tanks may be a lot of things, but like wealthy universities, they are not “charities” by any stretch of logic.
Recent government sponsored national security research has reversed the poles in the “non-profit” equation. Think tanks are richer and government sponsors are going broke. If quality of analysis is the return on government sponsored research, national security research is nearing some kind of strategic default.
Financial success has allowed think tanks like RAND to diversify the study agenda and expand their physical plants. Yet, the ideas of geographic isolation, and keeping politics at a distance, have been jettisoned with a vengeance. Beyond the original site at Santa Monica; RAND now has offices in Virginia (near the Pentagon), Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Mississippi, Massachusetts, Mexico, England, Belgium, Qatar, UAE, and Abu Dhabi.
For objective national security analysis, the last three locales are the most worrisome. Hard to believe that systems analysis or scientific candor will put petro-dollars or Islamic theocrats at risk. Politically correct “science” allows universities and think tanks to work both sides of the threat equation. Call it the Ellsberg legacy.
While the overall cast of RAND Corporation national security research is cautious and in many cases politically deferential; the occasional old hand still puts mustard on his fastball. Jim Quinlivan wrote an essay in the RAND Review (summer, 2003), based on statistical analysis, that suggested under-manned American excursions against insurgents or terrorists in dar al Islam, were bound to end badly – using strict military measures of effectiveness. Today, that report might be considered prophetic. Unfortunately, such voices are seldom endorsed or underlined with corporate authority.
The Quinlivan essay was written shortly after 9/11 when “kinetic” solutions were all the rage; his paper flew in the face of the prevailing political winds. More recent RAND reports, as discussed above, tack with the prevailing political winds. The difference is integrity.
The early rhetoric from President Bush categorized the Manhattan attacks as “acts of war.” But since then, the Bush and Obama administrations, and government sponsored research, take great pains to confuse the issue with criminality – and policies where victory over Islamism is never a goal or an option.
First, there was the Iraq distraction, a theater that had little to do with world-wide terror or Islamism; and then came a period of dithering over Afghanistan, the so-called “war of necessity.” Throughout, neither political party could decide whether to treat the soldiers of Islam as prisoners of war or criminals. While Americans remained confused; Islamists made steady gains. For the West, the drift into the muck of appeasement and the humiliation of a Soviet-like retreat now seems inevitable.
America and NATO are headed for the exits in the Levant and South Asia. Yet, the greater problems of a nuclear Iran and the growing Arab irredentism are still metastasizing. And all the early political Pollyanna about democracy and freedom in Arabia hasn’t altered the vector of religious politics. Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, and now Syria, are on the cusp of clerical control. Like Iran, Turkey, Iraq, and Afghanistan; the political prospects for Muslims today are largely theocratic.
All of this seems to be a kind of pandering with junk science. Indeed, the decline of a Euro-American vision that made creativity, art, science, and democracy possible has been underwritten by the worst possible political “science” that borrowed money can buy. Insh’allah!
The author is a former Senior USAF Intelligence Research Fellow at RAND Corporation, Santa Monica. This essay is an excerpt from a longer treatment of the think tank phenomenon, and political pandering, to appear In the New English Reviewlater this year.
A radio host has been hospitalized after being cut 15 times by an unidentified criminal. Two weeks ago the journalist ventured to criticize the founder of Islam, the Prophet Mohammed, on air. Sergey Aslanyan, 46, was brought to Moscow’s hospital with numerous non-penetrating knife wounds to the chest, neck and arm.
According to the police report, on late Monday evening an unknown man called to Aslanyan’s flat over the building intercom and called him outside for a talk. When the journalist stepped out of the entranceway he was knocked over the head with a heavy object, after which the assailant brought the knife into play.
Aslanyan claimed that the attacker was shouting “you are Allah's enemy!” while slashing at the victim.
Izvestia newspaper made a guess that the attack could be linked to recent statements made by the journalist in a radio show. While discussing religion in general he made some “from zero to hero” remarks towards the Prophet Mohammed.
“The Prophet Mohammed, as we know, was not a religious figure. He was a businessman, but after getting considerable financial support built plans as to how to get to the top,” Aslanyan disclosed. He also said that the Prophet “rewrote the Bible” so that “now everyone would know the Prophet Mohammed was not a market shopkeeper, but an outstanding political figure.”
According to Aslanyan, the idea of Islam was a “business project from the very beginning,” and turned out to be successful due to “handsome financing.” Besides that, the journalist, who was an external expert at this radio show, speculated that the Prophet had some sort of sexual disorder.
Reportedly, the journalist later apologized on air for the harsh statements he had made, but that did not change public opinion much. . . There was a widespread angry reaction on the Islamic internet forums.
Muslims from the Republic of Tatarstan, where Islam is the dominant religion, wrote a letter to the Prosecutor General’s office saying Aslanyan’s statements had insulted them.
The radio host’s colleagues say Sergey Aslanyan was always extremely cautious about what he was saying and, despite being a well-known agitator, had never got into trouble and had even won several cases against him in court – only because of his close attention to the facts he was voicing.
Prison guards said they had a policy of “appeasement” towards the powerful and growing Islamic population, particularly convicted terrorists who were feared to be recruiting future extremists.
Non-believers avoided confrontation with any Muslim in case it led to retribution from the wider group, and said they even avoided cooking pork or bacon in communal kitchens or undressing in the showers in case it caused offence.
The report, written by researchers at the Cambridge Institute of Criminology, said: “Conflict and tension existed between and within faith groups. There were some intimidating ‘heavy players’ among the Muslim population, who appeared to be orchestrating prison power dynamics rather than propagating or following the faith. Many physically powerful prisoners ‘re-established their outside identities’ as leaders in the prison and used their (newly acquired) faith status as a tool for establishing influence. . . "
HMP Whitemoor is situated in a “remote Fenland town” far from most inmates’ families, and is home to 440 Category A and B prisoners, almost all of whom are serving more than 10 years behind bars and seven of whom are convicted terrorists.
Following concerns over Islamic radicalisation in a 2008 report by inspectors, researchers visited Whitemoor between 2009 and 2010 to interview staff and inmates. They found that more than a third (35 to 39 per cent) of prisoners are now Muslims, compared with 11 per cent across all jails.
Many of those they spoke to had converted while inside but they had mixed motivations for doing so, and not all had done so voluntarily. . . Loners including sex offenders gained safety from joining a large and dominant group, as fellow members would defend them.
Non-Muslims and prison officers claimed that it was an “organised gang” and a “protection racket” rather than a religion, which “glorified terrorist behaviour and exploited the fear related to it”. Others said they had felt under pressure to convert, with people leaving Islamic literature in their cells and telling them to “read this”, or promising they would be safe from physical assault if they changed faith. “The threat of assaults motivated by religious fanaticism or extremist ideology added weight to the atmosphere at Whitemoor.”
Guards said there were “proper Al-Qaeda” members in the jail, who were regarded with “awe” by younger inmates, but they avoided confrontation and had “runners” to do their bidding. Some prisoners described the place as a “recruiting drive for the Taliban” and fertile ground for hatred and a new generation of extremists.
One inmate said he was targeted because he wore a Remembrance Day poppy and his brother served in the Army, with people shouting “your wife’s burning in hell because she’s not a Muslim” at him.
The report concluded: “The new population mix, including younger, more black and minority ethnic and mixed race, and high numbers of Muslim prisoners, was disrupting established hierarchies in the prison. Social relations among prisoners had become complex and less visible. Too much power flowed among some groups of prisoners, with some real risks of serious violence. There were high levels of fear in the prison. In particular, there were tensions and fears relating to ‘extremism’ and ‘radicalisation’. More prominent, in practice, were pressures (and temptations) felt by some prisoners to convert to Islam. Conditions in the prison made participation in Islamic practices the most ‘available’ option for those looking for belonging, meaning, ‘brotherhood’, trust and friendship."
Luton: local Sikh community protesting over 'sex attack police failures'
This was on going last night when I went to bed but I didn't have enough links to make a proper post. This is the Telegraph, after midnight
Hundreds of members of the Luton Sikh community are protesting outside local police station amid claims police were failing to properly investigate a sex attack on a young woman. Police said they were negotiating with the protesters staging the “sit down” protest outside the Buxton Road police station.
It comes after a young Sikh woman, who has not been identified, was reportedly beaten and sexually assaulted in the Bedfordshire town by a "Muslim man". On Wednesday night, Bedfordshire Police confirmed they were “in talks” with the protesters to try and “resolve the situation” amid fears of rising tensions.
Reports suggested that more than 300 locals were involved in the protest because of “lack of action” from police over Monday’s attack.
There were reports that members of the English Defence League were also among the crowd.
Locals reported that the “community … feels the police could do more with regards to the investigation and current situation”.
Concerns were also raised that police were set to release the accused sex attacker amid fears it fuel rising tensions. Detectives have arrested a man, who has not been identified, in connection with the attack.
The local paper sent a reporter and his report was promised 'shortly' about an hour ago. The paper was criticised on twitter for responding to a news tip-off from the EDL - the news editor said she has a duty to talk to everybody.
The protest followed a meeting in the Luton Gurdawa - note the hooligan little old Sikh ladies in tunics and cardigans in the photograph left which I was shown last night. Actually I seriously wouldn't want to mess with a lady whose granddaughter has been raped - you wouldn't want to mess with me either in those circumstances.
Is Israel Behind the Latest Espionage Malware-Flame?
Flame Malware Infection Map
Source: Kaspersky Labs
Another malware surfaced in a flurry of technical reports from Russia to Silicon Valley called Flame. It is revolutionary as it engages in espionage on a vast scale. The focus of Flame espionage appears to be on Iran, but it has hit a wide range in other targets of interest in the Middle East such as Palestine, Sudan and Syria. Take a look at the Map of Flame Infections in the region.
The suspicion is that Israel’s crack cyber warfare Unit 8200 is the possible state supported developer of Flame.
In a statement, Iran’s National Computer Emergency Response Team said that “investigations during the last few months” had resulted in the detection of the virus, which has been dubbed Flame and is capable of stealing data from infected computers.
“It seems there is a close relation to the Stuxnet and Duqu targeted attacks,” the statement said, referring to two other viruses. Stuxnet damaged hundreds of centrifuges at the Natanz nuclear plant. Duqu, like Flame, was apparently built for espionage but shared characteristics with Stuxnet.
The Iranians also said they had developed tools to detect and remove Flame from infected computers.
Iran has in the past blamed Israel and the United States for creating Stuxnet, but there has been no proof of authorship.
Israeli Deputy Prime Minister for Strategic Affairs Moshe Ya’alon spilled the beans about the possible authorship of Flame in comments to the Jerusalem Post today, captured in an article, Officials: Military networks protected from cyber attacks” by military analyst Yaakov Katz. Note what Katz wrote:
Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon hinted on Tuesday that Israel might have been behind the latest computer virus to attack Iran.
Ya’alon fueled speculation of Israeli involvement in the cyber attack when he told Army Radio on Tuesday that “whoever sees the Iranian threat as a serious threat would be likely to take different steps, including these, in order to hurt them.”
Ya’alon went a step further and discussed Israel’s technological capabilities.
“Israel is blessed to be a nation possessing superior technology. These achievements of ours open up all kinds of possibilities for us,” he said.
Evidence suggests that the virus, dubbed “Flame,” may have been developed on behalf of the same nation or nations that commissioned the Stuxnet worm that attacked Iran’s nuclear program in 2010, according to Kaspersky Lab, the Russian cyber security software group that took credit for discovering the viruses.
Military Intelligence’s Unit 8200 is responsible within Israel for offensive cyber attacks and the Mossad is also presumed to have some independent capabilities of its own.
Flame effectively turns every computer it infects into the ultimate spy. It can turn on microphones to record conversations taking place near computers, take screenshots, and log instant messaging chats, gather data files and remotely change settings on computers.
Israel is the master of cyber warfare. Having launched Flame using gaming code back in 2010, Israel has revolutionized espionage by going high tech, alleviating the necessity of sending in agent handlers. Given how Iran and other countries in the Middle East have been penetrated by Flame, Israel may have information that enabled them to target first Stuxnet, then Duqu and the oil sector demonstrating how crippling that can be to both nuclear enrichment and oil production. Therefore, you can speculate about how Israel might 'successfully' disable the nuclear enrichment program and Iran's economy with greater deftness than the bludgeon of more legislated 'tougher sanctions'. Next, we'll probably read of how Flame has acquired information on Iran's hard currency reserves. Think about the implications of that future caper.
Connecticut Jewish Ledger publisher Rick Greenfield has similar comments in an op-ed to be published later this week. He wrote:
Short of a physical attack on Iran’s burgeoning nuclear production facilities, writing innovative and aggressive software programs looks to be the only other way to safeguard the world from a nuclear eruption. The UN continues to show its unwillingness to contain a belligerent Iran and the current US Administration seems equally disposed to avoid direct action vis a vis Iran. The sanctions legislated by the Senate are continually watered down or deferred by a State Department intent on mollifying Iran instead of deterring her. It seems like absent an aggressive software infection of this sort, Iran's weapons of mass extermination will be allowed to become a reality soon.
Lou Ann Zelenik Praises Victory in Stopping Islamic Training Center
Lou Ann Zelenik
Editor's note: The following is a news release from the campaign of Lou Ann Zelenik who is currently running in the GOP primary for Congress in the Tennesse Sixth CD that includes Rutherford County. The release expresses her views on today's ruling by Judge Robert Corlew,III Chancellor of the Chancery Court, regarding the failure of the Rutherford Planning Commission to provide adequate notice to citizens of hearings approving the expansion of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro on May 24, 2010. You may check Ms. Zelenik's campign website, here, for more information.
Mt. Juliet, TN----Sixth District Congressional Candidate Lou Ann Zelenik praised the court ruling today that denied the approval of “Islamic Center of Murfreesboro”, stating that adequate notice was not given to the public by the Planning Commission of the intentions of the Islamic group.
“This is a victory for the citizens of all Middle Tennessee who have been the victims of ‘taqqiya’ (Islamic lying for the sake of advancing Islam) during this entire process,” said Zelenik, a leading critic of the construction of the Islamic Center. Zelenik, as a 6th district congressional candidate in 2010, openly challenged the project resulting in numerous death threats. Since then, she has devoted countless hours as Executive Director of the Tennessee Freedom Coalition speaking out against radical Islam and its encroachment into American culture.
She is once again in the race for the Republican nomination for District 6. “For over 2 years my opponent has been and still is on the sidelines of this issue. This is not a partisan issue, but an American issue and her silence is deafening”, said Zelenik.
“This was not an issue of freedom of religion. Islam does not claim to be a religion, but a social and political system that intends to dominate every facet of our lives and seeks to dominate it’s host culture by any means including force and violence. This case was for equal treatment under the law. No Christian church or Jewish synagogue would have received this type of treatment from the Planning Commission.”
“I was criticized for being opposed to freedom of religion,” Zelenik stated, “but the reality is that I was speaking for the citizens of Tennessee who felt they had no voice. As a political figure, I was proud to stand with other brave citizens who were outraged by the denial of their due process rights. Those citizens and the attorneys deserve all the credit in the world.”
Mufreesboro Mosque Stopped for Lack of Adequate Public Notice of Hearings
Islamic Center of Murfreesboro Mosque
Source: Channel 4 WSMV-TV Nashville
Just after 1:00PM CDT, today, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Chancery Court Judge Robert Corlew issued his ruling in a case with potential national implications stopping the construction of the controversial Islamic Center of Murfreesboro (ICM). Judge Corlew ruled narrowly in a second trial held in April 2012 on a complaint brought by local mosque opponent, Kevin Fisher, and local residents near the mosque site. The complaint filed was about whether adequate notice was provided to the citizens of Rutherford County. The WSMV-TV report noted Judge Corlew’s ruling and the controversial background of previous hearings held since May 2010;
Judge Robert Corlew III ruled that construction must cease because not enough notice was given about the May 2010 public meeting.
Corlew ruled in favor of Kevin Fisher and other Rutherford County residents who sued claiming adequate notice wasn't given when the site plan was approved for the new Islamic center.
"Action of the Rutherford Regional Planning Commission is declared to be void," Corlew concluded. "There was insufficient notice for the public meeting held on May 24, 2010. Under the terms of the law, then, the decisions reached at that meeting are void ab initio."
Corlew notes that his opinion does not prevent the Rutherford County Planning Commission from reconsidering the issue and approving the mosque site plan again. Construction of the mosque is well under way.
Mosque opponents have fought construction for two years, arguing that Islam is not a real religion deserving of First Amendment protections and that the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro has terrorist ties.
The judge dismissed those allegations but held a trial on the narrower claim that the public meeting law was violated.
That was an overdue victory to many local and national opponents of mega-mosque construction in the heartland of America. The plaintiffs and Tennessee local counsel and their backers are to be commended for bringing the matter that resulted in this ruling from Judge Corlew.
The NER and its blog the Iconoclast has covered the Murfreesboro case that caught the attention of national news programs endeavoring to make this into a religious discrimination and freedom of worship issue with the backing of the US Department of Justice and the Anti-Defamation League. Both groups filed amicus briefs during the September 2010 hearing supporting the Rutherford County decision to approve the ICM expansion based in part on an arcane federal law, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 that exempted religious organizations from local zoning laws and approvals.
The irony is that if the four day April 2010 Rutherford County Chancery Court hearing on the plaintiffs' compliant about the lack of adequate notification and related issues had been held in place of the long and arduous hearing on the Islam as a religion matter filed in the September 2010 hearing, this result might have been achieved much earlier. That was the prudent advice provided local counsel from both nationally recognized and local legal experts and activists. If that advice had been the legal strategy adopted in the original hearing it might have possibly stopped the mosque project from being built. However, the local Muslim community and federal USDOJ, FBI and ATF authorities had been aroused by an alleged arson event at the ICM job site in late August 2010. That arson event, which has yet to be solved, occurred prior to the September 2010 hearing. Activists documented evidence of extremist Islamic texts at the ICM and support for terrorist group Hamas found on a board member’s website. That was preceded by packed Planning Commission and County hearings in June 2010 with aggrieved citizens complaining about the lack of adequate notice and a protest march in mid-July 2010 at the County Court House. As it now stands, the ICM project is nearing completion of its first phase in July 2012. Moreover, Judge Corlew’s ruling still would allow Rutherford County to review and approve the ICM project and let it proceed.
A background legal memorandum prepared for a Brentwood, Tennessee mosque zoning application that was withdrawn cited RLUIPA case law that affirmed the right of localities like Rutherford County to exercise appropriate local police powers to conduct due diligence on such applications.
As we have previously argued this matter was injudiciously brought before adequate underlying research and trial preparation was conducted by Plaintiffs attorneys. Further, many of the Tennessee Sunshine Law violations connected with public notification by the Rutherford Planning Commission and County approvals. . . should have been the subject of administrative hearings. However, the promoters of the legal action were in a rush to judgment about Islam.
On the evening of September 15, 2010, a conference meeting was held in a at a local hotel to discuss strategies. Among those who attended were Pete Doughtie, publisher of The Rutherford Reader and Lou Ann Zelenik, a past Rutherford County Planning Commission member and local business owner. She is a currently a Congressional candidate in the Tennessee 6th CD GOP primary. Those backing the litigation were advised to concentrate on the planning notification and due diligence issues and not become embroiled in the religious freedom of worship issues.
Zelenik commented on today’s ruling by Judge Corlew:
Local Planning Commissions should treat all applicants fairly and not be intimidated to rush a decision.
While the first trial in Rutherford County Chancery Court ended in favor of proceeding with the ICM construction, the second trial brought on grounds originally suggested in the mid-September 2010 Murfreesboro private meeting succeeded. One of the national legal experts who suggested that course of action was David Yerushalmi, Esq., the architect of the American Law for American Courts model laws that in various versions has been enacted into law in four states: Arizona, Louisiana, Kansas and Tennessee.
The Guardian's Nadiya Takolia, who should thank any God but Allah that she lives in the West rather than some ghastly Muslim hellhole, has the temerity and the depthless stupidity to drone on about the virtues of the hijab. It provides a refuge, you see, from the "slut walks" and the X-factor and the Max-Factor that is the sum total of Western culture for this self-stylederstwhile"pawn in society's beauty game". Our dead suffragettes should not not bother to turn in their graves, so puny is the mind-ette of this hijabette. It's clitch after clitch after clitch:
Women in the west as sex object: check
"My femininity is not available for public consumption": check
Check? Cheek. Brass neck. If hers is not, then by implication that of normal British women is. "Rape someone else," is her thinly veiled message, and, since Muslim men rape in such disproportionate numbers, this signal, like the Koran that spawned it, "empowers" them to do so with impunity.
When you think of the hijab, you probably don't think "political". Or "independent". Or "empowered". Feminist? Certainly not – feminism is far better known for burnt bras and slut-walks than headscarves.
There is much misunderstanding about how women relate to their hijab. Some, of course, choose the headcover for religious reasons, others for culture or even fashion.
But in a society where a woman's value seems focused on her sexual charms, some wear it explicitly as a feminist statement asserting an alternative mode of female empowerment. Politics, not religion, is the motivator here. I am one of these women.
Wearing the hijab was not something I deliberately set out to do. It was something I unexpectedly stumbled upon as a twentysomething undergraduate, reading feminist literature and researching stories of women's lives in the sex industry. From perfume and clothes ads to children's dolls and X Factor finals, you don't need to go far to see that the woman/sex combination is everywhere.
It makes many of us feel like a pawn in society's beauty game – ensuring that gloss in my hair, the glow in my face and trying to attain that (non-existent) perfect figure.
Subconsciously, I tried to avoid these demands – wearing a hat to fix a bad-hair day, sunglasses and specs to disguise a lack of makeup, baggy clothes to disguise my figure. It was an endless and tiresome effort to please everyone else.
Sure the hijab was not the only way to express my feelings and frustrations; but knowing that our interpretation of liberal culture embraces, if not encourages, uncovering, I decided to reject what society expected me to do, and cover up.
It was not a decision I made overnight. It took several months of agonising over the pros and cons – will it change the way others treat me? Will I get hot in a headscarf? Is it possible, at all costs to avoid the all-black look?
I rarely discussed the decision with others – I wanted it to be mine and mine alone. Like so many women, my main reservation was the discrimination I might face. Things like looking for a job, or socialising and being judged by others based on prejudices about Muslim women (because now I would look like one) before they even got a chance to know me. And not just the prejudices of non-Muslims, but also the simplistic assumptions of Muslims who think that a veiled woman is a holier woman.
The first day I stepped out in a hijab, I took a deep breath and decided my attitude would be "I don't give a damn about what you think". The reaction was mixed. One friend joked that I was officially a "fundamentalist". Extended family showered me with graces of "mashallah", perhaps under the impression that I was now more devout. Some, to my surprise (and joy), didn't bat an eyelid. I was grateful because, ultimately, I firmly believe that a woman's dress should not determine how others treat, judge or respect her.
I do not believe that the hair in itself is that important; this is not about protection from men's lusts. It is me telling the world that my femininity is not available for public consumption. I am taking control of it, and I don't want to be part of a system that reduces and demeans women. Behind this exterior I am a person – and it is this person for which I want to be known.
Wearing the hijab has given me a new consciousness of this. Though my mode of expression may appear Islamic, and my experiences carry a spiritual dimension, there is no theological monopoly on women's empowerment; I really believe that a non-Muslim woman could do this if she chose to. My motivations have been explicitly political, and my experiences human.
The result has been refreshing. In a world as diverse and changing as our own, the hijab means a multitude of things to the many women who choose to wear it. I speak as a woman who just happens to come from the Islamic faith, and for me the hijab is political, feminist and empowering. This dimension is increasingly important for many women who choose to wear it; it's a shame it is understood by so few.
Dozy bint: check
Ugrateful bint: check
Spoilt bint: check
Check out of this country: check, mate
Info-stealing malware takes Flame war to new level of cyber weapon ouch
You've heard of a flame war, but the newly discovered, extremely sophisticated info-stealing malware takes the flame war to an entirely new level of cyber weapon ouch.
The Laboratory of Cryptography and System Security (CrySyS Lab) calls the massively multifaceted spying malware "sKyWIper," while Kaspersky calls it "Flame" and Iran National CERT (MAHER) calls it "Flamer." Although security researchers are only beginning to unravel the mysterious malware, all signs point toward it being a nation state product created by an unknown government agency. Whatever you choose to call it, the functionality of the malware is fierce and fascinating.
Kaspersky said the malware targets and "systematically" collects data on various organizations in the Middle East such as Iran, Israel, Palestine, Sudan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. However, CrySyS spotted the malware in European countries like its home country of Hungary.
CrySyS Lab reported [PDF], "sKyWIper may have been active for as long as five to eight years, or even more." This incredibly complex, info-stealing malware uses five different encryption methods, three different compression techniques, and five or more different file formats. sKyWIper stores info from infected machines in "highly structured" SQLite databases as well as using the programming language Lua which is a peculiar choice for writing malware. It whitelists its own files and even has "suicide" files to kill the malware and remove all traces of infection.
According to the CrySyS Lab technical report [PDF]:
sKyWIper has very advanced functionality to steal information and to propagate. Multiple exploits and propagation methods can be freely configured by the attackers. Information gathering from a large network of infected computers was never crafted as carefully as in sKyWIper. The malware is most likely capable to use all of the computers' functionalities for its goals. It covers all major possibilities to gather intelligence, including keyboard, screen, microphone, storage devices, network, wifi, Bluetooth, USB and system processes.
It seems plausible that sKyWIper was not made by the same developer team as that of Duqu/Stuxnet/~D. However, we cannot exclude the possibility that the attackers hired multiple independent development teams for the same purpose, and sKyWIper and Duqu are two independent implementations developed for the same requirement specifications. This may be an approach to increase the robustness of an operation, which can persist even if one of the two (or more?) implementations is uncovered.
The malware authors went to great lengths to evade detection such as choosing specific extensions based on whichever security products are installed. "We found that the malware usually uses the .ocx extension, but this decision is based on how to get best under the radar." If, for example, McAfee McShield is installed, the malware morphs to the "preferred extension" of .tmp. CrySyS does not want to aid copycat malware writers, but compared the comprehensive list used to avoid discovery by security products to another (ccalc32drv.sys) file "where table DangerousProcesses contains 346 items."
Symantec sticks with the name "Flamer" while reporting that like Stuxnet and Duqu, the Flamer "code was not likely to have been written by a single individual but by an organized, well-funded group of people working to a clear set of directives." A Symantec spokesman told Computerworld, "Examination of the code also leads Symantec to believe the malware was developed by a natively English speaking set of developers." Richi Jennings pointed out that the Iranian CERT created a "Flamer" detection tool since "none of the 43 tested antiviruses could detect it."
From here on out, let's use Flame as the malware name. According to Kaspersky, Flame has about 20 plugins to perform various functions and it is quite the info-stealing thief; it can "hear" via the microphone and "see" via taking screenshots of interesting applications like IM's or email and then "talks" via command-and-control communications. It can "smell" via sniffing network traffic and the malware writers can probably almost taste the fear of those people who discovered their machines are infected. Kaspersky said the malware can connect to 80 different C&C domains, but that can easily be modified via the "updateable list" of C&C servers that receive the compressed screenshots, audio recordings and keystroke logs.
According to Wired, "The screenshot module grabs desktop images every 15 seconds when a high-value communication application is being used, such as instant messaging or Outlook, and once every 60 seconds when other applications are being used."
Lucian Constantin reported on Kaspersky's analysis of Flame which is much bigger than both Duqu and Stuxnet. "The size of all Flame components combined adds up to over 20MB and one file in particular measures over 6MB alone. Flame spreads to other computers by copying itself to portable USB devices and also by exploiting a now-patched Microsoft Windows printer vulnerability that was also leveraged by Stuxnet." However Kaspersky added that Flame can infect fully patched Windows 7 machines; this seems to lend credibility to the idea of a zero-day floating around and being exploited.
Kaspersky has seen multiple versions of the Flame attack toolkit in the wild and called Flame "the most sophisticated cyber weapon yet unleashed." If it's been floating around for a couple years at least before discovery, it would seem possible there are even more advanced attack toolkits, more sophisticated cyber weapons lurking, working and awaiting discovery.
(Reuters) - Fires broke out at an aviation college and a girls' school in Qatar on Tuesday, a day after 19 foreigners died in a shopping mall blaze, focusing concern on safety standards in the wealthy Gulf Arab state.
The country of 1.7 million people, most of them expatriates, has outlined public investment plans worth $95 billion over five years to 2016 as it prepares to host the 2022 soccer World Cup. This week it unveiled budgetary spending of $49 billion for the next fiscal year ending March 2013. [there are only 250,000 Qatari Arabs; the rest of the 1.7 million -- about six times as many non-Qataris as Qataris, consist of the wage-slaves who service them]
Thirteen expatriate children were among those killed in Monday's fire at the Villagio Mall in Doha's west end, including two-year-old triplets from New Zealand.
Officials said on Tuesday that a small fire broke out in the Qatar Aeronautical College while messages on social media said another was doused at the Fatima Bint Al-Mogeera school in Doha.
"There was a fire, but a very small one. It has been put out," a representative of the aviation college told Reuters, adding that the fire was believed to have been caused by an electrical fault. College Director General Ali al-Maliki said no one was hurt in the ground floor blaze.
The fires raised questions about safety standards in Qatar, the world's largest exporter of liquefied natural gas and one of the richest countries in the world.
"The fire ... is one of the worst tragedies to strike Qatar in living memory and drives home the fact that safety needs to take precedence over everything else when it comes to the country's ambitious future plans," an editorial in the Qatari English-language daily Gulf Times said on Tuesday.
The mall blaze erupted on Monday morning at Villagio Mall's Gympanzee nursery on the first floor in a hallway accessible only via a small passage with no emergency fire exit.
Dense smoke and extreme heat created a "death trap" in the corridor as the staircase collapsed, the interior ministry said, making it impossible for rescuers to directly enter the nursery and forcing an evacuation attempt from the building's roof.
"Lillie, Jackson and Willsher came into this world together and were inseparable as siblings, best friends and the joy of our life," the triplets' Weekes family said in a statement emailed to Reuters.
"Tragically they left together after only two short years."
An investigation has been launched into the blaze amid reports that security staff at the complex reacted slowly and in chaotic fashion. Several people at the complex told Reuters fire alarms did not go off or rang only faintly.
"That's the tragedy: no PA (public announcement) system, no sprinklers. It's a failure. A complete failure," said one civil engineer, requesting to remain anonymous as he works with the Qatari government.
Findings from the investigation are expected within a week, and Qatari authorities said late on Monday that a committee would be formed to monitor building safety standards.
(CNSNews.com) – After intervention by the State Department, the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday reworked an amendment to a foreign operations appropriations bill, watering down language that sought to establish the actual number of Palestinians that could legitimately be called refugees.
The issue of millions of “Palestinian refugees” and their claimed “right of return” to the places they left during the Arab-initiated war on the newly declared state of Israel in 1948 is one of the most sensitive “final status” issues to be resolved in any negotiated Israeli-Palestinian settlement.
An amendment by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) aimed to distinguish between those Palestinian refugees who were alive at the time and “were personally displaced as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict,” and their millions of descendants.
It also sought information on how many Palestinians currently receiving assistance from the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) live in the West Bank and Gaza – in other words, under Palestinian Authority (P.A.) rule – and how many live elsewhere, as well as information pertaining to citizenship.
The U.S. is UNRWA’s largest bilateral donor, providing it with almost $250 million in 2011. Since 1950, American taxpayers have accounted for more $4 billion in contributions to UNRWA.
The Kirk amendment did not link the requested data to any potential cuts to funding for UNRWA, but merely required the secretary of state within one year to produce a report with number counts of UNRWA beneficiaries in those various categories.
Nonetheless the State Department firmly opposed the move. The chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on State and foreign operations, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) read out excerpts from a letter from deputy secretary of state Thomas Nides, urging the senators to reject the amendment.
Nides argued that the status of Palestinian refugees “strikes a deep, emotional, chord among Palestinians and their supporters, including our regional allies,” noting that Jordan and Lebanon both host large populations of refugees.
“This proposed amendment would be viewed around the world as the United States acting to prejudge and determine the outcome of this sensitive issue,” he wrote.
Leahy told the committee that the study required by the Kirk amendment would probably cost “millions of dollars” and be seen in the Middle East as highly “provocative.”
The amendment would be interpreted as suggesting that Jordan, Lebanon and the P.A. “should take over caring for these people who UNRWA currently cares for, which neither Jordan or Lebanon or the Palestinian Authority are capable of doing,” he said.
Leahy said he had also spoken to the Jordanian ambassador about his government’s concerns.
But subcommittee ranking member Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) – speaking on behalf of Kirk who is recovering from a stroke – said that what supporters of the amendment “would like to know after all these years – what sort of inventory, who are in these camps and whether or not our money’s going to the targeted populations.”
Leahy then proposed a reworked amendment, requiring the report to indicate the approximate number of people receiving aid from UNRWA over the previous year who had been displaced by the 1948 conflict, and the number of those who were their descendants. The report would also have to indicate “the extent to which the provision of such services to such persons furthers the security interests of the United States and of other United States allies in the Middle East.”
Leahy’s language was accepted and added to the fiscal year 2013 bill, which was then approved by the committee. Overall the bill totals $52.1 billion – $2.6 billion less than the administration’s request and $1.2 billion less than the FY2012 appropriation.
This photograph taken in the early 1960s shows Palestinian refugee children on their way to school at UNRWA’s Khan Yunis camp in the Gaza Strip. More than half a century later, and 13 years after Yasser Arafat arrived in Gaza to set up the Palestinian Authority, Khan Yunis retains its refugee camp status, with UNRWA calling it home to 72,000 refugees. (Photo: UNRWA Archives)
From 750,000 to five million and counting
UNRWA is unique in that it is the only U.N. agency that deal exclusively with one group of refugees. All other refugees around the world fall under the aegis of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.
Also unique is the definition the U.N. uses – any Arab who had lived in the area for just two years before having “lost both their homes and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict” is regarded a Palestinian refugee. Later the definition was broadened to include their offspring.
UNRWA’s definition also does not account for the Palestinians – many of the two million in Jordan, for example – who have acquired citizenship of other countries. (Article one of the 1951 U.N. Refugee Convention states that refugee definition ceases to apply where a person “has acquired a new nationality, and enjoys the protection of the country of his new nationality.”)
According to Israel figures, an estimated 580,000 Arabs left their homes during the conflict, while Palestinian and U.N. figures at the time put the estimated number at 914,000. Some experts say the likeliest true number is about halfway between those estimates, around 750,000.
Today, UNRWA says there are more than five million “Palestinian refugees” in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan.
Israeli governments have long argued that the influx of so many Palestinians would permanently alter Israel’s demographics, and that they should be accommodated in a future Palestinian state and/or in neighboring Arab countries where many already live.
‘A force for stability’
With headquarters in Gaza and Amman, Jordan, UNRWA employs almost 30,000 staff, mostly locally-hired Palestinians. More than half of its staffers run schools and training centers.
UNRWA has long been a target for critics who see it as perpetuating the refugee situation – in collaboration with Arab governments – rather than focusing on rehabilitating and resettling refugees.
Appropriations bills in past years have cited concerns that U.S. funding may end up benefitting terrorists. In 2003, for instance, legislation required that UNRWA take all steps possible to ensure that no U.S. money helps any refugee who a member of any “guerrilla type organization or who has engaged in any act of terrorism.”
Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas attends an event marking the 60th anniversary of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in New York on September 24, 2009. (UN Photo by Mark Garten)
The Government Accountability Office was required to report on the matter, and found that the State Department did get UNRWA to certify that it was taking all possible steps to comply, but also found that “UNRWA does not ask beneficiaries if they are terrorists, owing to concerns for its staff’s safety and its inability to verify beneficiary responses.”
In Gaza, UNRWA’s relations with Hamas – the terrorist group that controls the territory – have been mixed. Hamas for years dominated the UNRWA schools’ teachers union in Gaza, a situation critics said was feeding anti-Israeli incitement in schools.
More recently, relations between the U.N. body and Hamas have undergone tensions, with the Islamist group trying to pressurize UNRWA to reduce the involvement of girls and women in public events.
In his letter to the senators, Nides of the State Department described UNRWA as “a force for stability in the region.”
“UNRWA’s institutions and programs serve as important counterweights to extremist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah, and any void left by UNRWA would be likely [sic] be filled by terrorist elements,” he wrote.
Uproar Over Fatwa By Moroccan Sheikh Permitting Necrophilia
In February 2012, former Moroccan MP Sheikh 'Abd Al-Bari Al-Zamzami, a founding member of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, headed by Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi, republished his fatwa from May 2011 on the issue of necrophilia. The fatwa permits a husband to have intercourse with his wife's corpse up to six hours after her death, on the grounds that the marriage contract between them still holds. Al-Zamzami is also the author of a fatwa permitting women to use vegetables to gratify their sexual desires.
Following the reissuing of the necrophilia fatwa, reports in the Egyptian and Arab press claimed that a draft law had been submitted to the Egyptian parliament, based on Al-Zamzami's fatwa, permitting necrophilia and various other offensive practices that violate women's rights. A report in Al-Ahram by journalist 'Amru 'Abd Al-Samih claimed that the head of Egypt's National Council for Women, Dr. Mervat Al-Talawy, had sent a letter to the parliament speaker demanding to reject this draft law. Al-Talawy denied this; she and Egyptian MPs stated that the draft law never existed and that the reports about it were unfounded rumors.
Egyptian MP Amin Iskandar, of the Al-Karama party, pointed out that the rumor was not surprising. "The general atmosphere in parliament," he said, "gives rise to rumors of this kind, especially after the [recent] submission of a draft law proposing to lower the age of marriage for girls from 18 to 14... These are dangerous draft laws, which sow confusion and fear in society." In his article, 'Amru 'Abd Al-Samih likewise mentioned "the [strained] cultural, social, and political atmosphere in Egypt, and the concern over how the new constitution will define the character of the state."
The fatwa and the rumored Egyptian draft law evoked angry and derisive responses from many in the Arab public, who protested what they called the moral depravity of some Muslim clerics and of the Egyptian parliament. Some articles saw the fatwa as a facet of the chauvinist mentality that regards women as inanimate objects to be used, while others expressed concern about other laws that the new Egyptian parliament might pass in violation of women's rights.
On May 9, several women MPs held a protest rally in Alexandria against discriminatory laws, attended by representatives of several local women's organizations. A communiqué issued after the conference called to "preserve the women's achievements; to include women in the committee for drafting the [new] constitution, as was done in Tunisia, where half the [members of the constitution-drafting] committee were women; and to amend or revoke laws that discriminate against women."
The following are excerpts from some of the articles published in response to this affair:
Saudi Journalist: Such Fatwas "Offend [Our] Noble Human Sentiments And Open The Door To Psychological Disorders..."
In an article in the government Saudi daily Al-Riyadh, columnist Dr. Hasna 'Abd Al-'Aziz Al-Quna'ir attacked the fatwa and warned against clerics who harm Islam and corrupt its moral character:
"In recent years, a [new] phenomenon has emerged, namely jurisprudential discourse that is preoccupied with people's sex life and is not part of the familiar framework of shari'a, and which sanctions sex between a man and an inanimate object, namely a man and a corpse – [practices] that deviate from man's natural sexual and psychological inclinations... It would not be an exaggeration to say that some [clerics] are more interested in sexual fatwas than in fatwas dealing with [any other] domain of life..."
Al-Quna'ir complained about the "porno" television clerics who love to pry into people's sex lives and to address bizarre sexual questions "that are of no real benefit" and only lend religious sanction to various perversions. As an example, she mentioned Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi, "who issued a fatwa on his Al-Jazeera [program] sanctioning oral sex while going into offensively immodest details..." Such clerics are causing moral deterioration, she said.
She continued: "In 2011, a Muslim preacher in Europe forbade women to touch fruits and vegetables of a certain shape, lest they become aroused, and recommended that the man of the house cut these [fruits and vegetables] into small pieces... before serving them to the women of the household. Conversely, a different cleric, in Morocco [i.e., Sheikh Al-Zamzami]... ruled it permissible for women to satisfy their sexual urges with such [fruits and vegetables], lest they sin [by having forbidden sex with a man]... What moral depravity, what perversion of human nature, which treats sexual desire as a means for propagating the human race, and not as an end in itself... Such bizarre fatwas make us wonder what these clerics wish to do with Arab society...
"A cleric who ignores the meaning [of such fatwas], and turns the fruit market and the kitchen into a bedroom, offends [our] noble human sentiments and opens the door to psychological disorders and the disruption of the family equilibrium...
"Our surprise grew when we discovered that the same [Moroccan] cleric also permitted a man to have sex with his dead wife. Clearly, a man who does such a thing is nothing but a barbarian who has lost all human feeling, for [the values of] compassion and the dignity of the dead [obligate us] to bring a dead body to burial as soon as possible, rather than use it for sexual purposes... The danger inherent in such fatwas obliges us to warn against them, and to demand that those in charge of satellite [TV channels] and [internet] search engines restrain these perverts... so that we can protect our children from their disregard for values and morals.
"Some might object that the programs and films aired on the satellite networks are even more dangerous for the youth. But [I maintain that] the fatwas issued by the clerics are more dangerous [than films and TV programs], because the clerics are respected and trusted by the public – especially by their followers and by the [common] people. Nobody, regardless of his status, can convince [these followers] not to heed a fatwa [issued by] a preacher or religious jurisprudent.
"The question which naturally arises is [the following]: Why is there such a proliferation lately of fatwas that deal in minute detail with sexual relations, especially with their physical aspects, as though man is a sexual animal that thinks of nothing but [carnal] relations? These fatwas also reflect the clear hostility towards women in our [society]. There has been a flood of fatwas on [women's] issues, for instance: a women may not sit on a chair immediately after a man has [vacated] it, because it still bears the warmth of his body, and this might arouse her; [a woman] is not allowed to watch television or [surf] the Net without a [male] guardian, lest she be aroused by [sexy] images; a man living without a wife must not own a female pet and a woman living without a husband may not own a male pet... Why give these [issues] priority over other aspects of the reality of Muslim women, such as poverty, ignorance, illness, violence and denial of rights?
"Who benefits from these fatwas that blacken the name of Islam, increase its isolation in the world, and give its enemies a chance to scoff at it? Until when will they continue to hang like a sword over the head of the woman, who is regarded as a sexual object?..."
Palestinian Journalist: The Islamists In The Egyptian Parliament Are Undermining Its Morality
Treating the Egyptian "necrophilia draft law" as a fact, Norway-based Palestinian journalist Nidhal Hamed warned against the moral deterioration of the Egyptian parliament, which is dominated by Islamists. He wrote on the website Middle East Online:
"With Egypt drowning in a sea of political, economic, social, and security problems, and problems that threaten its very existence, the members of the new Egyptian parliament, which is dominated by Islamists – the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis – found nothing more urgent to discuss than a draft law permitting necrophilia... Never in my life have I heard of such deterioration and such scary ideas, fueled by despicable sexual cravings. Unfortunately, there are sheikhs and imams, albeit few, who permit this...
"Naturally, one cannot remain silent in the face of such a backward law... Ideas and people of this sort destroy countries and nations. It is no surprise that this [draft] law has sparked a furor and evoked anger among Egyptians, in particular among women. This law regards [women] as sex dolls, like those that can be bought in sex shops in Europe and the West...
"It was some of those Islamists who [now] control the parliament that submitted this draft law. The reports [about it] embarrass the Egyptians who voted for these extremist groups, who are now wondering... about the nature of the laws that have recently been preoccupying the parliament. It is a parliament of beards and bizarre fatwas, a parliament that devotes all its time and energy to debating how one can have intercourse with a woman even after her death, when she is a lifeless corpse. Are these the people you [expect] to disseminate Islam and restore it to its days of glory?...
"It was the fatwa of the Moroccan cleric that made it possible for these people to submit such draft laws and to approve them in [Egypt's] first democratically-elected parliament...
"The danger lies in the internal enemy who [opposes] progress... [namely] the groups of political Islam that control the Egyptian parliament. This mentality and way of thinking will take Egypt back to the Stone Age. The Egyptians must carefully reconsider [the character of] their country, their future, and those whom they elect to the parliament and the presidency... These MPs... are yet another threat to Egyptian society..."
Egyptian Writer: Nobody To Defend Women's Rights In The Egyptian Parliament
Coptic Egyptian writer and columnist Karima Kamal warned that the Egyptian parliament is about to declare war on women: "The mentality that gives rise to such a draft law is likely to oppose all laws defending the women's freedoms and rights... [The Islamists] see the woman as nothing more than a body, a vehicle for sex even after her death. That is, her existence [as a human being] is not important. Only her body is important, even after her death.
"Should we leave it to these people to legislate laws pertaining to women? And don't anybody tell me that the women members of parliament will thwart [attempts] to harm women, alive or dead – because the [current] parliament includes no [real] women. Nor can anyone claim that it includes a party that represents the Egyptian woman, speaks for her or defends her rights. In this parliament women have no presence at all, except for a handful of female MPs, most of them from the [Muslim Brotherhood's] Freedom and Justice party... who represent nobody but themselves... [In fact] they attack women and harm their rights...
"Who will speak for Egypt's women and who will defend their rights against the [Islamists'] assault on the khul' law [divorce initiated by the woman, who must pay compensation to her husband]...? If that is their attitude towards [rights] anchored in Islam, what will be their attitude toward any other right or legislation? They started with khul' and ended with necrophilia, pausing on the way to lower the marriage age and harm the mother's right to raise her children... How can we trust this parliament to deal with women's issues?... We must realize that women can expect many additional blows from this parliament, in which women are not represented, since most of its female members are anti-feminist. We must realize that the war on [women] is growing near, that it is a real possibility, and that we are prepared for it..."
 See MEMRI-TV Clip No. 3426, "Moroccan Cleric Abd Al-Bari Al-Zamzami: Husbands May Have Sex with Dead Wife's Corpse; Women May Use Carrots as Vibrators," March 24, 2012, http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/3426.htm.
Al-Ahram (Egypt), April 24, 2012. Other reports claimed that the draft law was submitted by Salafi MP Hajji Ahmad. See, for example, Al-Siyassa (Kuwait), April 28, 2012.
Shaul Magid, Professor of Jewish Studies at Indiana U, asks What if the Left Abandoned Israel? and suggests that Israel would go to hell in a hand-basket. “Be careful what you wish for”, he warns.
For him, the left are “basically liberal-minded and believers in civil rights and the rights of the oppressed— at least in the abstract”. He suggests that the “messianics and revisionists” of the right, aren’t. Everyone believes in them in the abstract. It’s when you deal with reality other considerations and values come into place.
I also believe in the “rights of the oppressed” but differ with the left in that I see the Jews in Israel as the oppressed and not the Palestinians, at least by the Jews. We are oppressed by everyone including the UN, the State Department, the E.U., and the Muslims including the Palestinians. We are oppressed by 60,000 plus rockets aimed at us by our immediate neighbors and by threats of annihilation. And for what? It’s either because we exist, which the left and the Arabs think is a crime, or because we are “occupiers” which much of the world thinks is unconscionable. They forget that UNSC Res 242 authorized Israel to remain in occupation until she had recognized and secure borders. They argue that the Fourth Geneva Convention applies even though Israel is not occupying the land of another signatory to the treaty as provided therein. But even if it does apply, Israel’s primarily obligation is to treat the people occupied, humanely. In this regard, 95% of the Palestinians are totally governed by the Palestinian Authority. Nowhere in the treaty does it say that the occupier must end the occupation. In any event the relationship between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is fully set out in the Oslo Accords of 1995. There is no suggestion in it that Israel must end the occupation without a negotiated agreement. So spare me the crocodile tears about the “occupation”.
The condemnation of Israel is based on the belief that the disputed territories are Palestinian. How so? They have never exercised sovereignty over said lands. The Arabs rejected the Partition Plan in 1948 that would have led to their sovereignty and invaded Israel instead. For the next 19 years the West Bank was under Jordanian control and no one ever called for a Palestinian state. In 1967 the Arabs were utterly defeated in a war they began. As a result the UNSC passed Res 242 which does not require Israel to withdraw from all the territories. At the Khartoum Conference the Arabs rejected Res 242 and agreed on three no’s; no recognition, no negotiations and no peace. Arafat accepted Res 242 because such acceptance was a pre-condition to entering the Oslo Accords but he never agreed to its terms. .And now they reject negotiations.
Israel, on the other hand can claim sovereignty over these lands, pursuant to the San Remo Resolution of 1919 and the Palestine Mandate of 1922 which granted the Jews the right to reconstitute their homeland in Palestine and the right to close settlement of the land. She can also claim sovereignty over these lands by virtue of a continuous presence in the land for 3000 years, by virtue of 1000 years of sovereignty, by virtue of acquiring the land in a defensive war or by insisting that only the Jordan River would constitute secure borders.
Magid quotes Zachary Braiterman with approval who wrote:
“I used to think that American Jews had the right and obligation to stake ideological claims in Israeli politics. I was wrong. I don’t have anything to say. Legalize outposts? Go ahead. Beat the hell out of Hamas or Hezbollah? I won’t object. Hit the Iranians? I hope you all know what you’re doing, because the mess is yours if you make it, and there is not a lot that the American Jewish community will be (able) to do if things go south. Desecrate mosques, uproot olive trees, beat up a Danish demonstrator, pass racist legislation, muzzle criticism, and harass people at the airport?”
Each one of these complaints shows a profound ignorance of the law or the context. Either that or a strong bias. Each one can be rebutted to the satisfaction of a fair minded person.
“Historically, the Zionism of Braiterman was the norm. Even given the less-than-charitable things Ben-Gurion had to say about the Arabs and the ways in which Israel treated its Arab population during times of conflict, the Zionist mainstream was committed to a humanistic and liberal ethos, even as it failed in significant ways.“
This is true, but why did it fail? Because the Arabs would have none of it. And that’s the point; why it is no longer the norm. The Jewish left prefer to ignore the reality, namely, that the Arabs are dedicated to destroying the Jewish state, in phases if necessary. The Charters of both Hamas and Fatah say so. Sharia says so. The incessant preaching of hatred says so. Their support for terrorism says so. Their unwillingness to compromise their maximalist demands say so. Yet, the Left blame Israel for the lack of peace.
“The unspoken merger of the messianic and neo-revisionist right, coupled with the politicization of the Charedi has given rise to an increasingly uncompromising ethnocentrism and, arguably, a redefined Zionism.”
True enough. But by characterizing the new Zionism as “ethnocentric”, he is opening up a can of worms. He is embracing the canard that Zionism is Racism. He is arguing against the Jewish particular in favor of universalism or multiculturalism. Those values might be appropriate for America though I prefer the melting pot to multiculturalism. In fact, so do most Americans and Europeans. Multiculturalism has proven a failure and its bitter fruits have yet to be realized in full.
He regrets that Israel was not able to “attain a balance necessary for its rightful place as a society among the nations of the free world”. But why must Israel be like everyone else. Why can’t it remain pumpernickel in a world of white bread? Besides, Israel is in the Middle East which is not part of the free world. The Arabs are barring Jews and Christians from their countries. In Egypt and Nigeria and elsewhere they are killing Christians and burning churches. No multiculturalism for them. No universalism for them other than under an Islamic dominated world.
While the Jewish left embraces the Muslim Brotherhood at home and abroad, I believe to America’s detriment, Israel prefers to keep her distance from the forces which are bent on her destruction. In order to defend herself, she must embrace her ethnicity not eschew it. Her people must rally around the flag, not tear it to shreds.
I accept that many Jews who embraced the Zionism of their youth “understand quite well and are deeply informed — not only about the political realities but about the underlying history of the conflict.” But so do the Jews who embrace the new Zionism. The difference being that the former want Israel to be a state of all its citizens rather than a Jewish state. The latter apparently is too Jewish for them.
In the end, it’s not about the old or new Zionism, but about survival. The left wants Israel to give in to the demands of the Arabs and the international community to ensure her survival. It ignores that history teaches otherwise. It ignores the implacable hatred of the Arabs and their commitment to destroy her. The right believes that doing so would lead to Israel’s destruction. It prefers to achieve real peace through strength.
Israel doesn’t need the sanctimonious preaching of the Left to be moral or democratic. She doesn’t need the moral grandstanding of the left to save her from depravity. I have every confidence in the Jewish Israeli right to do the right thing.
Young Jews don’t “instinctively feel critical of Israel”. They have been indoctrinated by the constant and pervasive stream of demonization and delegitimization emanating from the media and academia. To suggest otherwise, as Magid does, is disingenuous. Real Zionists, whether old or new, defend Israel. The others are aiding and abetting her destruction.
WEST POINT, N.Y. — For two centuries, the United States Military Academy has produced generals for America’s wars, among them Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, George S. Patton and David H. Petraeus. It is where President George W. Bush delivered what became known as his pre-emption speech, which sought to justify the invasion of Iraq, and where President Obama told the nation he was sending an additional 30,000 American troops to Afghanistan.
Now at another critical moment in American military history, the faculty here on the commanding bend in the Hudson River is deep in its own existential debate. Narrowly, the argument is whether the counterinsurgency strategy used in Iraq and Afghanistan — the troop-heavy, time-intensive, expensive doctrine of trying to win over the locals by building roads, schools and government — is dead.
Broadly, the question is what the United States gained after a decade in two wars.
“Not much,” Col. Gian P. Gentile, the director of West Point’s military history program and the commander of a combat battalion in Baghdad in 2006, said flatly in an interview last week. “Certainly not worth the effort. In my view.”
Colonel Gentile, long a critic of counterinsurgency, represents one side of the divide at West Point. On the other is Col. Michael J. Meese, the head of the academy’s influential social sciences department and a top adviser to General Petraeus in Baghdad and Kabul when General Petraeus commanded the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Nobody should ever underestimate the costs and the risks involved with counterinsurgency, but neither should you take that off the table,” Colonel Meese said, also in an interview last week. Counterinsurgency, he said, “was broadly successful in being able to have the Iraqis govern themselves.”
The debate at West Point mirrors one under way in the armed forces as a whole as the United States withdraws without clear victory from Afghanistan and as the results in Iraq remain ambiguous at best. (On the ABC News program “This Week” on Sunday, the defense secretary, Leon E. Panetta, called the Taliban “resilient” after 10 and a half years of war.)
But at West Point the debate is personal, and a decade of statistics — more than 6,000 American service members dead in Iraq and Afghanistan and more than $1 trillion spent — hit home. On Saturday, 972 cadets graduated as second lieutenants, sent off in a commencement speech by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. with the promise that they are “the key to whatever challenges the world has in store.”
Many of them are apprehensive about what they will find in Afghanistan — the news coming back from friends is often not good — but still hope to make it there before the war is largely over. “We’ve spent the past four years of our lives getting ready for this,” said Lt. Daniel Prial, who graduated Saturday and said he was drawn to West Point after his father survived as a firefighter in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001. “Ultimately you want to see that come to fruition.”
At West Point the arguments are more public than those in the upper reaches of the Pentagon, in large part because the military officers on the West Point faculty pride themselves on academic freedom and challenging orthodoxy. Colonel Gentile, who is working on a book titled “Wrong Turn: America’s Deadly Embrace With Counterinsurgency,” is chief among them.
Colonel Gentile’s argument is that the United States pursued a narrow policy goal in Afghanistan — defeating Al Qaeda there and keeping it from using the country as a base — with what he called “a maximalist operational” approach. “Strategy should employ resources of a state to achieve policy aims with the least amount of blood and treasure spent,” he said.
Counterinsurgency could ultimately work in Afghanistan, he said, if the United States were willing to stay there for generations. “I’m talking 70, 80, 90 years,” he said.
Colonel Gentile, who has photographs in his office of five young soldiers in his battalion killed in the 2006 bloodshed in Baghdad, acknowledged that it was difficult to question the wars in the face of the losses.
“But war ultimately is a political act, and I take comfort and pride that we as a military organization, myself as a commander of those soldiers who died, the others who were wounded and I think the American Army writ large, that we did our duty,” he said. “And there is honor in itself of doing your duty. I mean you could probably push back on me and say you’re still saying the war’s not worth it. But I’m a soldier, and I go where I’m told to go, and I do my duty as best I can.”
Colonel Meese’s opposing argument is that warfare cannot be divorced from its political, economic and psychological dimensions — the view advanced in the bible of counterinsurgents, the U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual that was revised under General Petraeus in 2006. Hailed as a new way of warfare (although drawing on counterinsurgencies fought by the United States in Vietnam in the 1960s and the Philippines from 1899 to 1902, among others), the manual promoted the protection of civilian populations, reconstruction and development aid.
“Warfare in a dangerous environment is ultimately a human endeavor, and engaging with the population is something that has to be done in order to try to influence their trajectory,” Colonel Meese said.
In Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal so aggressively pushed the doctrine when he was the top commander there that troops complained they had to hold their firepower. General Petraeus issued guidelines that clarified that troops had the right to self-defense when he took over, but by then counterinsurgency had attracted powerful critics, chief among them Mr. Biden and veteran military officers who denigrated it as armed nation building.
When Mr. Obama announced last June that he would withdraw by the end of this summer the 30,000 additional troops he sent to Afghanistan — earlier than the military wanted or expected — the doctrine seemed to be on life support. General Petraeus has since become director of the Central Intelligence Agency, where his mission is covertly killing the enemy, not winning the people.
Now, as American troops head home from Afghanistan, where the new strategy will be a narrow one of hunting insurgents, the arguments at West Point are playing out in war colleges, academic journals and books, and will be for decades. (The argument has barely begun over whether violence came down in Iraq in 2007 because of the American troop increase or the Anbar Awakening, when Sunni tribes turned against the insurgency.) To Col. Gregory A. Daddis, a West Point history professor, the debate is also about the role of the military as the war winds down. “We’re not really sure right now what the Army is for,” he said.
To officers like Brig. Gen. H.R. McMaster, much of the debate presents a false either-or dilemma. General McMaster, who used counterinsurgency to secure the Iraqi city of Tal Afar in 2005 and returned recently from Kabul as head of a task force fighting corruption, said that without counterinsurgency, “There’s a tendency to use the application of military force as an end in itself.”
To John Nagl, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who fought in Iraq, wrote a book about counterinsurgency and now teaches at the United States Naval Academy, American foreign policy should “ensure that we never have to do this again.”
Does counterinsurgency work? “Yes,” he said. “Is it worth what you paid for it? That’s an entirely different question.”
From -- amazingly -- the account provided by the Qatari Arab and Muslim propaganda network, Al--Jazeera:
"It was not immediately clear what caused the blaze. Qatar's interior ministry confirmed that an investigation was under way.
Al Jazeera's Tarek Bazley describes the Villaggio mall fire
"There don't seem to have been any fire alarms or sprinklers at the mall," a relative of a two-year-old child who died in the fire said, speaking by phone from Doha's Hamad Hospital.
Unconfirmed reports said that two managers of the mall had been arrested after the blaze.
Al Jazeera's Tarek Bazley was in the shopping centre with his two children when the fire broke out, but they escaped unharmed.
"The volume of smoke coming out of it, it looked like you had 30 steam trains all pumping their smoke out above it," he said.
But he said there was a lack of urgency from officials in the mall when alarms went off and complained of a "complete lack of planning, a complete lack of co-ordination in terms of removing people from this area."
No one knows how the fire began?
Has no one considered what should be the obvous: that, fed up with Qatar's support for the Sunni Muslim uprising (support that now includes the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda), the Syrian government might well have told its agents to cause some problems in Qatar itself, so as to make the point that Qatari meddling will have its costs? A fire here, and a fire there, and promises of more fires to come, might scare away enough of the foreigners on whom the Qataris rely completely, and might cause the Al-Thani to bethink themselves.
The "Purs Et Durs" Of Ansar Al-Deen Now Rejected By The Tuareg
May 29, 2012
BAMAKO: Plans for Tuareg rebels and hardline Islamist group Ansar Dine to join forces and proclaim an Islamic state in northern Mali have collapsed due to fundamental differences, the two sides said Tuesday.
"We have refused to approve the final statement because it is different from the protocol agreement which we have signed," said Ibrahim Assaley, the Tuareg rebel National Liberation Front of Azawad (FNLA).
Moussa Ag Asherif, close to Ansar Dine head Iyad Ag Ghaly, confirmed the impasse in talks which came just 48 hours after the two groups announced their plans for joint domination of the remote desert region.
Regional and Western leaders have long feared a breakaway state in Mali's restive north could become Al-Qaeda's main safe haven. [but anywhere there are a sufficient number of Muslims can become such a "safe haven"]
A draft of the statement by Ansar Dine (Defenders of Faith) spoke of applying "pure and hard" Islamic Sharia law and banning non-Muslim humanitarian groups from the area, Assaley told AFP by phone from Gao, where the unity talks took place.
"It is as if they want us to dissolve into Ansar Dine," complained the representative of the secular Tuareg rebels. "That is unacceptable."
Asherif said the original accord had been merely a basis for working discussions and that the deal was on a "take it or leave it" basis. Ag Ghaly would travel to Gao on Tuesday morning "to solve the problem", he added.
Ansar Dine is backed by Al-Qaeda's north African branch, known as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
The original declaration of a separate Islamic state in Mali's vast desert north, an area larger than France, had come at the weekend.
The short-lived accord was hammered out after weeks of sometimes fraught discussions between two groups that have long held separate objectives and ideologies.
In January, the Tuareg rebels launched an offensive against the Malian army, which was heightened with the arrival on the scene of Ansar Dine, which wants Islamic Sharia law imposed throughout the land-locked west African nation.
A coup by Captain Amadou Sanogo and a group of low-ranking officers ousted the government in Bamako on March 22, saying it was handling the Tuareg rebellion incompetently.
But the coup only opened the way for the Tuaregs, Ansar Dine -- led by the charismatic Ag Ghaly -- and criminal groups to occupy the north.
Mali's embattled transitional government had swiftly rejected the embryonic rebel alliance's declaration.
"The government of Mali categorically rejects the idea of the creation of an Azawad state, even more so of an Islamic state," Hamadoun Toure, information minister in the transitional administration, told AFP on Sunday.
The West African bloc ECOWAS on Monday also rejected the rebel declaration of independence and repeated an earlier threat to take "all necessary measures" to keep Mali intact.
The 15-nation Economic Community of West African States "denounces in the strongest possible terms this opportunistic act," said a statement signed by ECOWAS head Desire Kadre Ouedraogo.
It said the move would "only worsen the situation for a population that has already been the victim of all sorts of atrocities and hardships in the occupied area of Mali, as well as expose the entire region to the most serious dangers regarding peace and security".
Mali's transitional leaders have stressed their wish to restore the country's territorial integrity but seem unable to guarantee their own safety, let alone mount a credible challenge against the north's new masters.
The uncertain security situation was highlighted by a recent assault on 70-year-old interim president Dioncounda Traore.
Some 50 people have been arrested in the investigation into the attack, the government announced Monday.
Traore's entourage said tests had revealed nothing alarming and that he was expected back in Mali in the coming week following a trip to Paris for medical attention.