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
















Saturday, 30 June 2012
Boston Senior Activists Fight Stealth Jihad and Dhimmi Reform Jews
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In April 2011, a group of concerned Reform Jews took out an ad  in the Los Angeles Jewish Journal and The Forward  excoriating the new leader of the Reform Jewish movement, Rabbi Richard Jacobs for his alliance with the anti-Israel pro Palestinian group, J Street.  Calling themselves, Jews Against Divisive Leadership (JADL), these committed defenders of the Jewish State of Israel included two remarkable treasures in the Boston Jewish community, Margot Einstein, a former principal and educator and Robert Abrams, Esq., a former Assistant Attorney General in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.   Both are active  well into their 80’s.  The ad attacked the new head of the liberal Reform Jewish movement in America, Rabbi Richard Jacobs, who was also a member of the J Street Rabbinic Cabinet.  In an Iconoclast post, we noted what concerned the JADL signatories:


The JADL signatories to the ad declared:


The Union for Reform Judaism’s nominee for President, Rabbi Richard Jacobs, does not represent the pro-Israel policies cherished by Reform Jews. He does not represent us.


He is . . . Anti-Israel and No Zionist  given his current and past memberships in the J Street Rabbinic Council, the board of the New Israel Fund (NIF), chair of its ‘Pluralism Grants Committee’ and co-chair of its Rabbinical Council.  


Einstein also defended our colleague Dr. Charles Jacobs of Americans for Peace and Tolerance.  Jacobs was the target of a letter authored by 70 members of the “Sanhedrin of foolish rabbis”  in Massachusetts accusing him of violating the Jewish principle of loshen hora (Hebrew for “evil tongue”) – not speaking ill of a co-religionist.  It is the equivalent of that expression uttered by Thumper the Rabbit in the classic Disney film, Bambi:  “ if you can’t say  something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all”. See our NER interview with Jacobs, “Fighting Muslim Brotherhood Lawfare and Rabbinic Fatwas.”  We noted what Einstein did to set the record straight in defense of Jacobs:


There was a free speech incident that involved Rabbi Stern and J Street leader, Jeremy Ben Ami, at Temple Beth Avodah.  A number of congregants had submitted suggested speakers to appear at adult education lectures, one of whom was Dr. Charles Jacobs.  Stern refused the congregants’ suggestions.  But then Stern was presented with an opportunity to have J Street Leader, Jeremy Ben Ami speak at Temple Beth Avodah, which caused an uproar among his congregants.   As a result he was forced by members of his congregation to change the venue to a local elementary school.


Doughty JADL signatory, Margot Einstein, stood up at the public school J Street presentation and said:


What kind of free speech is it when our rabbi said that Dr. Charles Jacobs would never set foot in my Temple?


So, the reform rabbinate in America is bound and determined to lead the Reform Movement into abject dhimmitude to Jihadist allies both in America and the chaotic Middle East.


Recently, Einstein and Abrams took out ads in The Jewish Advocate in Boston. The ads  explained  why they were leaving the Reform movement, in the case of Einstein, or switching membership to a Reform congregation whose rabbi was a defender of Israel.    Einstein drew specific attention to Reform Jewish  movement leader Rabbi Richard Jacobs and his outreach to Muslim Brotherhood front, the Islamic Society of North America and  Jew hatred in Qur’anic doctrine.  Abrams noted his pleasure at finding a reform rabbi and congregation more to his liking.  See both ads below:

                                      


Margot Einstein is a remarkable community activist defending her people against “stealth jihad”.  Einstein shames those Los Angeles Jewish Federation leaders who last weekend cancelled at the last moment a ZoA sponsored program on Islamic Jew Hatred with Pam Geller because they were fearful of Muslim protests at the Federation building. They had been spooked by emails from interfaith groups and Muslim Brotherhood front groups CAIR and MPAC protesting Ms. Geller and the ZoA sponsorship.   They gave new meaning to the term Judenraten, the Holocaust era Jewish councils in Nazi-occupied Poland.  They co-operated with the SS in the murder of their own people in the  mistaken belief that by sparing a few, the community could be preserved.  Fred Taub of Cleveland-based Boycott Watch said it best about this tawdry affair, “words scare Judenradt”.


Einstein is a protean protester and does not shrink from taking on Stealth Jihadis and dhimmis in her community’s midst.  
Note this profile by Sandy Calmas of Einstein  on the blog Jewish Women Inspired:


Margot Einstein, 88 years young and growing younger by every hill and dale and picket line


Margot stands up alone in our mainstream churches and takes the heat of an audience when she supports Israel with her incisive questions.  Margot carries picket signs in front of the Boston Public Library, Harvard University, and doesn’t hesitate to stand up when it is appropriate, needed and so few do.  Her spirit is indomitable.  When a group insisted that Israeli products be removed from Lord and Taylor, Margot made sure that was not going to happen.  When the Newton Schools recently were handing out anti-Israel materials to children, Margot and her cohort, Bob Abrams, Esq. took that issue to the highest levels.  When Dr. Charles Jacobs, the former head of the anti-slavery movement was verbally attacked by any number of reformed rabbis, Margot stood up for him.  Her work with Christians and Jews United for Israel is a testimony to her social skills.  She recently had over a large group of ministers to discuss the importance of Judea and Samaria.  Margot is a vivacious looking woman who walks her miles every day, swims, and is in shape to do her picketing.  Over the past years that I’ve known Margot, she truly does get younger, not only physically, but more mentally agile, and more and more energized.  May we all be Margots.  


P.S. In Israel there is an echocardiograph machine now named Margot.


Last year the Newton High Schools were caught in flagrante delicto  supporting stealth Jihad with materials from the  Arab World Notebook circulated by the Harvard University Middle East Studies program. The Harvard Islamic Studies program you may recall  is underwritten by a  multi-million grant from Saudi Billionaire Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal.


Einstein and American Israeli Tony Pagliuso led the fight in Newton, Massachusetts to expunge these noxious materials from high school world history classes that falsely accused IDF soldiers of alleged atrocities committed against Arab women in the West Bank.  The Newton South High School instructor  myopically thought it reflected the subject, Islam and Women in the Middle East. Their actions and those of others across the US, especially in Florida, drew attention to this demonizing propaganda defaming Israel and the soldiers of the IDF.  Pagliuso and Einstein were interviewed by Newton TV Civic Action moderator Jackie Morrisey. Einstein in this program  is poised and articulate.  She is a role model for all Seniors, Jewish and not, concerned about  confronting the stealth Jihad  in the US  perpetrated by Muslim Brotherhood front groups  triumphant in both the Middle East and in Washington.   Watch the Newton TV program with Pagliuso and Einstein. 

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Posted on 06/30/2012 8:11 PM by Jerry Gordon
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Saturday, 30 June 2012
Muslims In Mali Show Their Deep Respect For A World Heritage Site
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From VOA:

Militants Destroy Timbuktu Islamic Shrines

Fighters from the Islamist group Ansar Dine outside Timbuktu (file photo).

Nancy Palus
DAKAR -- In northern Mali, members of the Islamic militant group Ansar Dine are systematically destroying mausoleums and revered Muslim tombs in Timbuktu. UNESCO has listed the historic city as a World Heritage site for its ancient mosques and shrines.

Residents of Timbuktu told VOA that armed men from Ansar Dine began leveling the tombs early Saturday morning. The sites, including the tomb of 15th-century Muslim scholar Sidi Mahmoud, are considered sacred by the local population. Hardline Islamist groups like Ansar Dine regard such shrines as sacrilegious, but the sites are an important part of worship for Muslims around the world.

Anthadi Oumar Ascofaré was born in Timbuktu 64 years ago, and he talked to VOA from there. “Armed men encircled shrines and cemeteries in the city, while others destroyed tombs with axes, shovels and machetes,” he said. “It is painful for us to witness this destruction, but since we are unarmed we cannot react.”
 
Assoumane Maïga is a native of Timbuktu currently based in the capital, Bamako. He said he received calls throughout Saturday morning from people in Timbuktu who wanted to organize to stop the destruction. However, Maïga said, he was told that Ansar Dine's fighters threatened physical beatings for anyone gathering in a group of more than three or four people.
 
The shrines are an integral part of Timbuktu's Muslim culture, Maïga says: “Every Friday all the people from Timbuktu usually go to the cemeteries in the early morning to pray. Today it’s like you are taking a part of the soul of every single individual in Timbuktu."

Mali’s interim government condemned the “destructive rage” on display in Timbuktu. In a statement Saturday afternoon, authorities in Bamako said the desecration and destruction of shrines amounts to war crimes, and vowed to go after the perpetrators, possibly in the International Criminal Court. The communique said the violence in Timbuktu had nothing to do with Islam, and added, “The Malian people will continue to fight these reactionary practices that fly in the face of morality and cultural values.”

The attack on the ancient mausoleums comes just days after the United Nations cultural agency put Timbuktu on its list of sites that are in danger. UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee urged the African Union and the international community to help protect Timbuktu and its 16 ancient mausoleums.
 
During the past week Ansar Dine and other Islamic groups in northern Mali fought with separatist Tuareg rebels from the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, or MNLA. The Islamists succeeded in pushing the MNLA out of the main northern cities of Gao and Timbuktu.
 
Ansar Dine swept into northern Mali three months ago, fighting alongside Tuaregs campaigning for an independent state. Ansar Dine has said its objective is not an separate state in northern Mali, but the application of strict Islamic law throughout the western African nation.

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Posted on 06/30/2012 5:04 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Saturday, 30 June 2012
John Bradley On The Arab Spring Farce
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From The Daily Mail:

As hated leaders are replaced by even more brutally oppressive regimes, the Arab Spring has become a sick joke

By John Bradley

Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s deposed dictator, is reportedly still in a coma after being handed a life sentence earlier this month for complicity in the deaths of almost 1,000 protesters during last year’s mass uprising against his tyrannical rule.

He is a man utterly lacking in charisma, who has only ever been interested in enriching his family and the corrupt tycoons who surrounded him. Few will shed any tears when he dies.

However, while Mubarak was no better known for his political acumen than for his benevolent rule, he has been proven right about one thing at least.

Sweeping to power: Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Cairo's Tahrir Square at the weekend

Sweeping to power: Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Cairo's Tahrir Square at the weekend

A few days before he was forced to step down in February last year, he warned that sudden, dramatic change in the land of the pharaohs would lead only to anarchy, followed by a takeover by the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood party and the imposition of strict Islamic law.

Gradual political reform, in other words, was preferable to revolutionary upheaval that had no agenda other than ousting the current leader.

That advice, at the time mocked as the self-serving twaddle it partly was, now seems strikingly prescient. Indeed, Mubarak could have been talking about the consequences of revolutionary chaos not just for Egypt, but the Arab region as a whole.

Jonathan Evans
Hosni Mubarak

Warnings: Both MI5 Director-General Jonathan Evans, and former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak, said that the Arab Spring would allow extremists to seize power

On Monday, Jonathan Evans, the head of MI5, warned that the mayhem caused by the so-called Arab Spring has resulted in the creation of new Al Qaeda training camps throughout the Middle East, especially in Syria and Libya, where British jihadis are receiving training in terrorist tactics. They are intent, he added, on returning to Britain to launch attacks here.

The terrifying reality is indeed that Islamists of various factions are taking advantage of the febrile volatility in the regime to flex their muscles.

Egypt’s new president has just been announced. He is Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. His victory ends a year of political transition in the country during which the Muslim Brotherhood have thrashed their liberal opponents in every election that’s been held.

A wolf in sheep's clothing: The Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi has won the Egyptian Presidency

A wolf in sheep's clothing: The Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi has won the Egyptian Presidency

On Sunday, Morsi called for national unity. That will be a tall order. Like other so-called ‘moderate’ Islamist leaders throughout the region, he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The truth is that the Muslim Brotherhood will now set about implementing their real agenda: imposing Sharia law and encouraging the growth of extreme Islam.

Still championed by over-excited, ill-informed pundits in the West, and kept alive on the ground by a gaggle of equally naive, out-of-touch and mostly English-speaking local activists, the bitter truth is that the so-called Arab Spring has proved a dismal failure on every level.

Nothing good has come of it at all, if judged by the classic Western values of liberty, freedom of expression and democratic accountability.

Hijacked: Syria's initially moderate and peaceful uprising has been taken over by Islamist fighters

Hijacked: Syria's initially moderate and peaceful uprising has been taken over by Islamist fighters

From Egypt to Tunisia, Yemen to Libya, shockingly high crime rates, economies in free-fall and decimated tourism industries are the terrifying new realities Arabs must now confront.

And in each of those countries, radical Islamists have moved quickly to fill the social and political vacuum. They have used a simple strategy: relying on gaining a majority from the minority who vote, and blatantly disregarding rules that ban foreign campaign donations from neighbouring states, such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, looking to extend their influence in the region.

Both these countries, although Western allies, also subscribe to Wahhabism — the strictest and most austere interpretation of Islam that even bans contact between unrelated men and women. They also consider it their God-given duty to promote this ‘pure’ version of Islam whenever the opportunity arises, thus their attempts to exploit the Middle East’s disarray. 

THE ARAB SPRING SO FAR

TUNISIA

The ousting of staunchly secular Tunisian dictator Ben Ali in January 2011 marked the birth of the Arab Spring.

The country’s subsequent descent into religious extremism, lawlessness and economic ruin is a microcosm of what has happened throughout the region in all the countries caught up in the ongoing turmoil.

Elections last October brought to power Ennahda, the self-professed ‘moderate’ Islamist political party that is affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood and which was banned under Ben Ali. However, tens of thousands of more radical Salafi Muslims have been causing constant mayhem on the streets of Tunis and throughout the country, attacking liberal artists and filmmakers, firebombing shops that sell alcohol, and assaulting women who refuse to wear the veil.

In recent weeks, rumours have been rife in the country that the Salafis may be about to launch an armed insurrection. Their goal: creating a hardline Islamist state.

LIBYA

The National Transitional Council, which has ruled since last year’s Nato-led uprising in Libya, governs in name only. Since the fall of Tripoli in August 2011, Libya has been in turmoil.

Officials openly admit billions of dollars have been smuggled out of the country by corrupt officials and businessmen, while the country’s infrastructure is disintegrating.

Just this month, the British ambassador’s vehicle was attacked by rocket-propelled grenades, and the U.S. Consulate was bombed. The latter attack was claimed by a local Islamist group, which said it was angered by assassinations of suspected Al Qaeda members in Pakistan.

Parliamentary elections slated for this month have been postponed until July  7, with officials citing ‘logistical and technical’ reasons for the delay. Not that most people in this most tribal of Arab countries, as elsewhere in the region, are likely to care.

EGYPT

Since Mubarak was ousted, the Muslim Brotherhood has repeatedly shown it is  willing — indeed eager — to reach compromises with the elite group of generals overseeing the messy transition to democracy.

That co-operation will continue now that Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi is president.

The Muslim Brotherhood will leave policy decisions concerning the defence budget and foreign relations to the generals.

Instead, it will concentrate on radicalising Egyptian society through parliament — with devastating consequences for the liberal elite and religious minorities.

SYRIA

Exaggerated reports of the imminent overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad’s authoritarian regime have been a staple of the Western media for more than a year.

However, the initially peaceful street demonstrations have been hijacked by armed gangs of radical Islamists, whose members are drawn from both inside and outside the country. For the time being, the majority of the Syrian people are therefore sticking with the devil they know.

Still, with the Syrian regime’s crackdown on all dissent as ruthless as ever, the country could quickly descend into bloody civil war.

In Morocco, Kuwait and Algeria — the only Arab countries that have held parliamentary elections during the past year — affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood have swept to power.

Now the Muslim Brotherhood itself has also triumphed in both Egypt’s parliamentary and presidential elections. Meanwhile, Syria’s initially popular and peaceful uprising is in the midst of being hijacked by a band of fanatical international jihadists also intent on imposing Sharia law.

These more extremist Syrian insurgents, who employ classic terrorist tactics such as suicide bombings and kidnappings, are being funded by the most repressive, undemocratic Islamist theocracy in the region: Saudi Arabia. 

Ironically, because of the grip of its leaders, the repressive Saudi kingdom itself has witnessed no major uprising, apart from sporadic demonstrations among its repressed Shia minority.

Meanwhile, in Libya — despite Britain and France’s intervention — Islamist militias now rule the streets. The country is at serious risk of being torn apart along tribal and regional lines.

Just last week, more than 100 people were killed in clashes between rival tribes in Libya’s south, and a band of armed Islamists occupied the capital’s airport in protest at the arrest of one of their members. The Libyan transitional government exists only in name.

In neighbouring Tunisia, the birthplace of this Arabian nightmare, thousands of zealots last week rioted throughout the country — the latest violent agitations against artworks deemed insulting to Islam. What was once the most socially liberal and progressive Arab country has, like Egypt, in a year become yet another backwater for extreme Islam.

Tunisia, too, is now governed by a Muslim Brotherhood offshoot called Ennahda. Its electoral success, like that of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, is widely reported to have been achieved in part by substantial funding from the states of the Persian Gulf — Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Thus we are witnessing a ruthlessly successful counter-revolution led by these two countries. For both nations, secularism and democracy are anathema, as they are using their immense wealth to successfully install their extremist Islamist proxies.

The terrifying reality is that we are seeing once secular, tolerant cultures being dragged back to the Middle Ages — and with the implicit blessing of the West. Indeed, Saudi Arabia’s continued status as a vital Western ally holds up a mirror to the rank hypocrisy of the pro-democracy rhetoric we hear from the likes of Barack Obama and David Cameron.

How extraordinary it was to hear last week, for example, Western leaders’ gushing praise on the occasion of the death of Saudi interior minister Prince Naif. This was a man who, for decades, was at the helm of a vast army of internal security forces that had a repugnant record for crushing all political dissent.

The truth is from the outset of the Arab Spring, realpolitik dictated the Western powers’ determination to contain Iran and ultimately trumped any concerns about human rights and democracy. Sunni Saudi Arabia is Shia-dominated Iran’s arch-enemy. Saudi Arabia is Britain’s biggest trading partner and a reliable source of affordable oil.

Yet, despite all this, liberals in the West continue to call for more uprisings in the Arab world, more bravery from the protesters, more upheavals, more violence and chaos — all in the name of a democracy in which most Arabs have no interest in partaking, and which is being shamelessly manipulated by outside powers.

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Posted on 06/30/2012 11:36 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Saturday, 30 June 2012
A Cinematic Musical Interlude: Accentuate The Positive (from "The Singing Detective")
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Watch, and listen, here.
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Posted on 06/30/2012 9:52 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Saturday, 30 June 2012
Morsi Could Not Have Done Better, or, Accentuate The Positive
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In his first speech as the new president of Egypt, and in Tahrir Square, before a vast and hysterical crowd of his screaming and bearded supporters, promised that he would work to free Abdul Rahman, the Blind Sheik now in an American jail for his role in the first World Trade Center bombing, to bring him home to Egypt (Morsi may now try to claim he meant bring him home to an Egyptain prison, should he now need to assuage the Americans, but of course in Egypt he would be treated even in a prison as a prince, surrounded by admirers, treated with deference by everyone) and an inspiration to a generation of terrorists. In doing this, he made clear, even to the dullest, how he, Mohammad Morsi, and the Muslim Brotherhood for which he stands, see the world. The United States government has given Egypt $75 billion in aid over the past 30 years. It has done everything possible to ignore the violations, in every important respect, of the solemn commitments made under the Camp David Accords with Israel, and it has pretended to believe or, still worse, has believed, that Egypt is and has been an allly. But Egypt is not, and cannot, be an ally of any non-Muslim land, and the only hope for Egypt is the Pharaonism -- which means an Egypt First policy that rejects both pan-Arabism and pan-Islam (that is, solidarity with the Umma, which is to say, merely Islam). The American government can continue to supply Egypt with military aid which only makes it more, not less, likely, that Egypt will, under Morsi or someone else, threaten Israel and, in any case, will be much more of a headache for Israel's defense planners than would otherwise be the case. If one understands that what keeps the peace in the Middle East, that is what keeps the Arabs from being even more aggressive and threatening, is the deterrent power of the I.D.F., then the less money, and the less arms, an Egypt run or influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood will be, until the army comes to its senses and re-takes control, by force, and someone or some group, emulating Ataturk, tries to save Egypt from itself and from those who take Islam to heart.

Now it makes sense for Americans to demand that he publicly retract that remark, or Congress will end that farcical funding of Egypt, as it should have long ago -- or rather, should never have started to reward Egypt for receiving, from Israel, the entire Sinai, together with airfields and oilfields and infrastructure and the Red Sea resort, a real money-maker, that Israel built at Sharm el-Sheik. The Sinai, everyone forgets, was always, as a desert,  a corpus separatum, and until the 1920s was not considered part of Egypt. And Israel has won it, in war, twice, and twice, for the sake of promises then broken, given it to Egypt, in 1956 (after which Nasser broke, one by one, every promise made, about the Suez Canal, and the Straits of Tiran, and about keeping his own troops out of the Sinai) and a few years after the third, and last, tranche of the Sinai was scrupulously handed over by Israel to Egypt, and the main thing asked of the Egyptians -- that they encourage, through tourism, and such things as Israeli participation in Egypt's film fairs and book fairs, and through visits by the Egyptian leaders to Israel, and through an end to the campaign of anti-Israel hysteria and hate in the Egyptian press, radio, and television -- was never honored by the government of Egypt. As for the absence of war, Israel had no war with Egypt for the same reason it had no war with Iraq or Syria, or Saudi Arabia, or a dozen other members of the Arab League. And that did not depend on a peace treaty, but on the deterrent power of Israel's military. And the Egyptian military, whose members are interested in Egypt's national interests, understood -- something that now needs to be the subject of constant and open discussion -- that if they ever got into another war with Egypt, the Sinai would be retaken, and it would not ever again be given back. And the humiliation that Nasser experienced in 1967 (and died two years later from the unending stress), and that Sadat avoided in 1973 only because Kissinger prevented Ariel Sharon from destroying the Egyptian Third Army, and a myth of Egypt's "victory" -- a victory that was a defeat, but not as obviously and colossally so as in 1967 -- was created that allowed the Egyptian military to pretend to believe that it had won.

The military men in Egypt, the older ones, the ones who remember 1973, and what really happened, and even more, remember 1967, are the ones most intelligently bent on avoiding war. Morsi and his men think that they have a duty to remove the Infidel nation-state of Israel, sooner or later. That is Islamic doctrine. They take Islam to heart.

Morsi has now provided the perfect reason, for those who apparently need an obvious, urbi et orbi reason, to end American aid to Egypt. The military aid does nothing but help endanger Israel, and also to provide more money to which the ruling military and civilians have been partly helping themselves. Had there never been that American aid, there would have been less corruption, and less obvious, because less fantastic, the disparities of wealth. Had there been less corruption, there would have been less resentment of America. American aid to Arabs and Muslims never helps America, always makes its an object of local hatred. And had there been no American aid, it is likely that the Egyptian government would have had to deal with what no one else can deal with -- the population explosion, with Egypt now having 85 million people, double what it had under Sadat, and four times as many as when Nasser came to power. It is the same everywhere in the Arab lands; in 1932 there were 3 million people in Iraq and now there are 29 million. Why should the Western world, which has brought its own -- advanced -- population under control, continue to fund, and make possible, that Arab and Muslim explosion?

And why should not the recipients of the greatest transfer of wealth in human history, the Arabs and Muslims who happen to sit on oil and gas reserves, and who, as members of OPEC, have received since 1973 alone some sixteen trillion dollars, not be asked to share their wealth with fellow members of the umma, such as Egypt, or even non-Arab Pakistan? They won't, of course, but by constantly putting pressure on them, by making them and their money the focus of resentment by the poorer Arabs and Muslims -- fury at little Qatar, and the Emirates, and Saudi Arabia, countries whose rulers and people have no intention of ever sharing that wealth (though a subsidy to keep the Yemenis from completely drowning might be possible, since Yemen's condition immediately threatens Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arabian peninsula) -- the West can encourage the third of the great fissures within the Camp of Islam.

The first  fissure is sectarian: the Shi'a-Sunni split, which in its full venom, and dimensions, is hardly understood by those who make policy in the West, who not recognizing its depth, also fail to recognize its usefulness, and instead have tried, as in Iraq, to prevent that sectarian split from widening. 

The second fissure is the ethnic one: the contumely with which the Arabs regard all non-Arab Muslims, whom they are willing to use, for their own ends, and whom they regard as inferior to them - the Arabs, the "best of peoples" to whom the Qur'an was brought, and in their own language. Everything about Islam -- the need to read the Qur'an in Arabic, the requirement that Muslims pray five times a day turning toward Arabia, wherever in the world they might be, the need to emulate the manners and morals of seventh-century Arabs, the need to take as the Perfect Man (al-insan al-kamil) a particular Arab, one Muhammad, and ideally, Muslims want to pretend that they are Arabs, taking Arab names, even constructing comical Arab geneologies (millions of Pakistanis have taken names to show  their supposed connection to the family of the Prophet). Everyone in the Western world capable of thought can come to understand, and should then repeat ad nauseam, that Islam is and always has been a vehicle for Arab imperialism. And then repeat what I have listed here. Non-Arabs, especially those such as the Berbers in North Africa, and the Kurds, and the blacks in Darfur, all Muslims who have been on the receiving end of Arab imperialism -- with the Berbers and Kurds feeling keenly the linguistic and cultural imperialism, the forced arabization designed to make them forget their own histories and cultures and think of themselves as Arabs or suffer the consequences, and the Muslim black Africans in Darfur being non-Arabs, suffering in the same way as the Christians in the southern Sudan, from Muslim Arab violence and mass murder.

And finally, third great fissure within the Camp of Islam: the resentment, which the West through its colossal aid program has done nothing to encourage, and everything to deflect, of the poor Arabs and Muslims for the rich Arabs and Muslims. The 200,000 Qataris, every single one of whom enjoys fantastic wealth, and who have a staff of foreign wage slaves in Qatar itself (not to mention in all those houses and estates abroad that the Qataris are buying up, especially in France) nine times the number of native Qataris: nine foreign workers for every Qatari’s every need. The Emirates, that Rodeo Drive on stilts, is the same. And then there is Saudi Arabia, where a Franco-Armenian friend of mine summed up after several years there building military cities: “Money can buy everything, except civilization.”

Let the Egyptians think about all that money in Qatar, and the U.A.E., and Saudi Arabia. Let others, too – the Pakistanis, the Afghans – think about all that money that fellow members of the Umma received from Allah (for what else can a Muslim think, save that all that wealth comes from Allah, as a sign of his beneficence toward Muslims?) are spending on themselves, in ever more grotesque ways, and doing nothing, or almost nothing, to help them? That can only lead to one of two things: first,  greater resentment, and hostility, of many Muslims toward other Muslims, who are arrogating to themselves riches which Allah, of course, meant to be shared by all Muslims; second, a questioning of Islam itself, and of its principles, for if the solidarity of the Umma exists only in a shared inculcated hatred of non-Muslims,  but does not lead to sharing among Muslim states and peoples, then perhaps the very hold of Islam itself on the minds of at least some of its adherents will weaken. And because it is a fanatical, all-encompassing, and dangerous –not exclusively, but mainly to non-Muslims, who are the people we should most care about -- faith, anything that weakens that hold is a good thing.   

And so we come back, having paddled down the Plurabelle, and by the conventional commodious vicus, to “Doctor” Muhammad Morsi in Tahrir Square, in his first public address after his victory, telling a hysterical sea of his primitive followers that he would work to free the Blind Sheik, the inspirer of murder, Abdul Rahman, from American clutches. Oh, Morsi may now want to modify what he said, and no doubt we will be hearing that he only meant – “only”! –that Abdul Rahman should be brought back to serve his sentence in his native Egypt. Of course, in Egypt, in any jail, he would be feted, and no doubt that jail would be equivalent to a palace. And like so many prisoners who are responsible for killing  Americans, and then captured by them, and imprisoned by them, but then, with incorrigible gullibility, handed over by the Americans to the locals who promise to keep them in jail, are released, possibly Abdul Rahman will even be let out, from his luxurious quarters and the fellow prisoners who will treat him with respect and adoration, because to keep him imprisoned would not, in the eyes of Dr. Mohammad Morsi, be the right thing to do. And Dr. Morsi wants to do the right thing.

As far as the world’s Infidels are concerned, and especially those who would like a sense of reality to enter into the minds of those who make policy, Morsi has done a good thing, a wonderful thing. Morsi could have thought his thought, but not said it aloud, and certainly not said it in Tahrir Square, before a sea of his primitive followers, and the television cameras, and the Western reporters. He could not have done better, because he could not have done worse.

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Posted on 06/30/2012 9:46 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Saturday, 30 June 2012
Muhammad Morsi Promises To Work To Bring Sheikh Abdul Rahman Home
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From the New York Post:

Morsi’s infamous friend

 June 30, 2012

There’s disturbing news out of Egypt — whose first post-Mubarak elected president is taking office — and it has worrisome implications for America.

In a fiery speech yesterday to hundreds of thousands in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, Mohammed Morsi took the oath of office — and vowed to obtain freedom for the blind sheik, Omar Abdel Rahman.

“I see banners for Omar Abdel Rahman’s family, and for prisoners arrested according to martial rulings and detainees from the beginning of the revolution,” said Morsi.

“It is my duty to make every effort, and I will beginning tomorrow to secure their release, among them Omar Abdel Rahman.”

AFP/Getty Images
Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman

So much for those who insist that Morsi, the radical Muslim Brotherhood’s man, is a moderate — and that the group itself has moved beyond its Islamist origins.

After all, we’re talking about the same blind sheik now serving a life term in US prison for masterminding the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and plotting attacks on other New York landmarks.

The same blind sheik whose fatwa was cited by Osama bin Laden as religious justification for the 9/11 attacks.

The same blind sheik whose terrorist movement, Gamaa Ismaliya, elected members to Egypt’s new Islamist-dominated parliament.

Just last week, it was disclosed that one of those legislators had been granted a visa, in apparent defiance of US law, and been given a sit-down with Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough.

And what did he do with this valuable face time?

Why, demand the release of Omar Abdel Rahman — the blind sheik.

All of which raises troubling questions.

The White House says it wants to work with Egypt’s new leadership. But that will bear fruit only if the Muslim Brotherhood has in fact discovered political moderation.

Was Morsi tossing a rhetorical bone to the screaming throngs in Cairo?

Does it make any difference?

The challenge was issued loudly and in public, and America’s response must be equally high profile.

President Obama and his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, need to make it clear that they will not truck with terrorists — nor with their apologists in high places.

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Posted on 06/30/2012 9:42 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Saturday, 30 June 2012
Fitzgerald: Islamochristians And Israel
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Re-posted from Dec. 5, 2005:

Fitzgerald: Islamochristians and Israel

A kind of mental or conceptual paralysis prevents American, European, and even Israeli policymakers -- perhaps most intolerably, Israeli policymakers -- from recognizing the Muslim sources of Arab Muslim opposition to the well-being, or permanent existence, of a Jewish (i.e., non-Muslim) sovereign state in the middle of dar al-Islam. Of course, such opposition is also shared by certain "Palestinian" islamochristian Arabs, such as Naim Ateek, or the gunrunner for the PLO Archbishop Hilarion Cappucci, or Hanan Ashrawi, the good friend of Peter Jennings. Like the Christians who helped found the Ba'athist party (such as Michel Aflaq, who "reverted" to Islam at the end of his life), these Arab "islamochristians" have sought to make their own lives tolerable, and to find a way, as Christians, to survive in the midst of a permanently hostile Arab Muslim world. The only strategy they have discovered, once they realized that the European powers no longer were going to protect them (as France, for example, had helped protect Christians in Lebanon and Syria a century ago), is that of accepting, adopting, and promoting the Muslim worldview. They echo the refusal of Muslim Arabs to permanently accept Israel as a sovereign state, or for that matter the Maronites of Lebanon as autonomous in their own Lebanese redoubts, and thereby hope to curry favor, and deflect the violence, of the Muslims among whom they live.

And along with that, many "Christian" Arabs have been convinced of the intimate connection between Islam and "Arabtum" or "Uruba" or "Arabness." This is carefully encouraged by the Muslim Arabs, who believe that all Arabs, whether Christian or not, must somehow rally around Islam as the defining feature, the great achievement, the gift to all mankind, of the Arabs, in whose language the Qur'an was dictated to Muhammad, an Arab and the "best of men," who was a member of the "best of peoples." Those speakers or users of Arabic have been persuaded that this makes them "Arabs," though many of them, no doubt, are the descendants of the Christians and Jews who once populated the area before the Muslim Arab invaders arrived. They have been made to feel, they do feel, that their own ethnic identity is somehow wrapped up in the defense of Islam.

Of course they are wrong. Of course Islam does not now bode well, and never has boded well, for Christians in the Middle East (or anywhere else). Of course many of those "Christian" Arabs -- such as the Maronites and Copts -- are not Arabs at all, but rather indigenous peoples who were given Arab names, forced to use Arabic, and otherwise "arabized" -- as, over centuries, their own countries were islamized. "Christian" Arabs who, like Cappucci or Ashrawi, tried to fit in by adopting and promoting or parroting the Islamic agenda, and who as Arabs cannot bring themselves to turn their backs on Islam in the way that non-Arab Christians -- such as Christians in Pakistan and Indonesia -- have no trouble doing, may still not realize that they actually have a stake in Israel's survival as a strong and viable non-Muslim power. But not a few of the local Arab Christians, especially those who have clamored for Israeli residency cards or citizenship, or those who are simply fleeing the P.A.'s Islamic rule by leaving for Australia or Canada, have finally begun to realize that there is no hope for them under Muslim rule. For non-Muslims now used to the concept of equal treatment for minorities (word gets around, throughout the world), can no longer tolerate what they tolerated for centuries. Either the Muslims themselves will change, or the Muslim-dominated countries will empty out of non-Muslims -- as has been happening in Pakistan, in Bangladesh, and more recently, in Egypt and Lebanon, where Copts and Maronites have diminished in relative numbers and in power.

It is madness to give the "Palestinians" -- i.e., those local Arabs who appropriated that name post-1967 -- any weapons more than rifles and jeeps. But the Americans do not see this. They do not see that without Israel, there is no possible purchase for the West in the Middle East anywhere closer than Ethiopia or the southern Sudan. They do not realize, or choose to realize, that the "Palestinian people" business is a recent invention, a repackaging of the old Jihad that Ahmed Shukairy (Arafat's predecessor), Azzam Pasha (Secretary-General of the Arab League in 1948, and great-uncle to Ayman al-Zawahiri) discussed in such unambiguous and naked terms.

But nowadays, nothing is too ridiculous for some who make American policy, or for the obstinate and slightly demented Ariel Sharon (who once had an idea, and now that idea has him, no matter how obviously foolish and dangerous that idea has turned out to be). They know that the "solution" exists, and that this "solution" is two states, and no discussion of the worldview of Islam, unshakeable and immutable, will change their minds. Show them the discussion by Majid Khadduri of the Law of War and Peace in Islam, show them the model of the Treaty of Al-Hudaibiyya, and they will simply ignore it or attempt to explain it away, as if it could not possibly be true. For if it were true, if that were the basis of all Muslim treaties and agreements with Infidels, then all those treaties and agreements that have been the insane focus of the DennisRosses and the RichardHasses, and the Indyks, and Kissinger's shuttle diplomacy, and the Rogers Plan, and all the rest of it, would be seen -- as they should be seen -- as grotesque, as essentially missing the larger point. Which, of course, they all did.

Building up the "Palestinian" armory makes even less sense than buidling up the "Iraqi" army with American weaponry, or than supplying stingers to mujahideen in Afghanistan, or than allowing Pakistan to get away with its nuclear project, or than continuing to give malevolent and meretricious Egypt $2 billion in aid when Egypt is now spending $7.5 billion on arms purchases which can only conceivably be used against Infidels -- either Israel, at some future point, or possibly against Ethiopia.

Who cares if that weaponry will inevitably fall into terrorist hands, or be used by the people to whom it is given in the first place to make even more hellishly difficult the job of defending Israel? Israel itself has become an abstraction, a place where the odds are against it are unimportant, as is the ratio of length-of-border to area-of-country, and it is already the highest in the world -- why, who still remembers that phrase "secure and defensible borders" anyway? If that idea gets in the way of the "Two-State Solution," then the very idea has to go.

And since that Two-State "Solution" requires forgetting the Mandate for Palestine, forgetting the legal, historical, and moral claim of Israel to all of the territory now known as "the West Bank" (a toponym invented after 1948, for the same reasons the Romans replaced "Judea" with "Palestine"), then those claims will simply be ignored by the outside world. And many Israelis too, not less ignorant of their own history than outsiders, will forget or never knew of that claim, of their own rights.

Just look at how many people all over the world, without a moment's skepticism, have accepted the appropriation by the local Arabs of the designation "Palestinian" -- which then leads to the idiotic but plausible notion that since the place is called "Palestine" and there are these people called "Palestinians," ergo it must belong to them. What could be simpler, what could be more obvious? Many of those “Palestinians" are recent arrivals, with Egyptian or Iraqi grandparents who came in the 1920s and 1930s, illegal immigrants through borders that were, for the Jews, difficult to breach, but for the Arabs, porous. That is the kind of detail that, while well-known to both "Palestinians" and Israelis, never quite makes it to the Western press. That Western press is secure in the certainty of its own examined certainties. One of them is that Israel is an aggressor and thief of land, and that “Palestinian” Christians as well as Muslims will be better off under Islamic rule. It doesn't look that way in Bethlehem, or anywhere else where Christians live in the Middle East -- not in Alexandria, not in Cairo, not in Algeria, where all foreign Christians have been killed, not in Iraq, where new freedoms include the freedoom to kidnap, terrorize, and murder Christians, not in Syria, where only the Alawite military keep things from degenerating further, not in Lebanon where the Christians were a few decades ago a majority, but have seen their numbers, their power, their influence, their security, steadily reduced.

The day could come when “Palestinian” Christians long for the good old days in Israel, when they enjoyed complete freedom of worship, and physical security, from the very people -- the Jews of Israel -- that some of them are doing so much to undermine. They should look at the history of Christians under Islam, from Indonesia to Morocco. They might just have time to reconsider. But one doubts that enough of them will, in time, for their own good.

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Posted on 06/30/2012 9:40 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Saturday, 30 June 2012
Fitzgerald: The Phenomenon Of The Islamochristian
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This re-posting of an article from 2005 has been prompted by Dexter Van Zile's article today on Sami Awad, an Arab propagandist who, though Christian, is pushing the Muslim agenda, as so many "Palestinian" Christians do (but as Maronites do not, and as Copts, Assyrians, Chaldeans, once out of Egypt and Iraq, do not), that is to work relentlessly to undermine support for the State of Israel, though the State of Israel is the only certain protector of Christians and of the Christian Holy Places in the Muslim sea of the Middle East.

Fitzgerald: The phenomenon of the "islamochristian"

The phenomenon of the "islamochristian" deserves wider attention, and the word wider use. An “islamochristian” is a Christian Arab who identifies with and works to advance the Islamic agenda, out of fear or out of a belief that his "Arabness" requires loyalty to Islam. Islamization by the Arab Muslim conquerors of Mesopotamia, Syria, and North Africa was a vehicle for Arab imperialism. This imperialism, the most successful in human history, convinced those who accepted Islam to also forget their own pre-Islamic or non-Islamic pasts. It caused them, in many cases, to forget their own languages and to adopt Arabic -- and in using Arabic, and in adopting Arabic names, within a few generations they had convinced themselves that they were Arabs.

Some held out. The Copts in Egypt today are simply the remnants of a population that was entirely Coptic, and that has suffered steady and slow asphyxiation. How many of Egypt's Arabs are in fact Copts who fail to realize this, much less have any sympathy or interest in how their Coptic ancestors, out of intolerable pressure, assumed the identity of Arabs?

In Lebanon, the mountains provided a refuge for the Maronites, by far the most successful group to withstand the Muslims. And most Maronites are quick to make the important distinction that, while they are "users of Arabic," that does not make them "Arabs." When they claim that they predate the Arab invasion (which of course they do) and are the descendants of the previous inhabitants of Lebanon, the Phoenicians, they are greeted with ridicule. But why? Where did the Phoenicians go? Did they just disappear? It is far more plausible to believe that the Maronites and the others in Lebanon are, most of them (for how many real "Arabs" actually came from the Arabian peninsula to conquer far more numerous populations of non-Arabs?) the descendants of those Phoenicians. The Maronites recognize this; the Muslims do not, because for them the superior people, the people to whom the Qur'an was "given" and "in their language," are the Arabs. The sense of Arab supremacy comes not only from the fact that the Qur'an was written in Arabic (with bits of Aramaic still floating in it), but because the Sunna, the other great guide for Muslims, consists of, and is derived from, the hadith and the sira, and reflects the life of people in 7th century Arabia.

Thus one sees the forcibly-converted descendants of Hindus, the Muslims of India and Pakistan, full of supposed "descendants of the Prophet" who are identified by the name "Sayeed." It is as if, in the middle of a former British colony, say Uganda, black Africans gave themselves such names as Anthony Chenevix-ffrench or Charles Hardcastle, and dressed like remote Englishmen at Agincourt, or Ascot, and insisted, to one and all, that they were indeed lineal descendants of Elizabeth the Virgin Queen, or Hereward the Wake, or Ethelred the Unready.

Yet when those whose ancestors were forcibly converted to Islam (and force can be not military force, but the incessant and relentless pressure of dhimmitude, which will over time cause many to give up and embrace the belief-system of the oppressor) and adopted the names, and mimicked the dress and the manners and customs of Muslims -- which are essentially those of a distant time and place (Arabia, more than a thousand years ago) -- we do not smile or think it absurd. A few Muslim "intellectuals" in East Asia occasionally suggest that local customs and ways, even local expressions of music and art, ought not to be sacrificed to the Sunna of Islam, but to no avail.

And so strong is the power of Islam among the Arabs, so ingrained is their desire to ward off Muslim displeasure, that unless they do not feel themselves to be Arabs but a self-contained community (Copts, Maronites) that has managed to survive, they are very likely to reflect the Muslim views and promote the Muslim agenda.

Nowhere can this be seen better than among the "Palestinian" Arabs. Michel Sabbagh is only one example. The Sabbagh who gave $6.5 million to support Esposito's pro-Muslim empire at Georgetown was a "Christian." (Note to James V. Schall: can you convince Georgetown's administration to sever its now-embarrassing tie to Esposito? At some point he, and Georgetown, have to part ways, for the sake of Georgetown's reputation and continued support from alumni.) The gun-running icon-stealing Archbishop Hilarion Cappucci was, in name, a Melkite Catholic; he was, in his essence, a PLO supporter. Islamochristian promoters of the Jihad -- beginning with the Jihad against Israel -- include a few "Palestinian" Presybterians who have carefully burrowed within, and risen within, the bureaucracy of the Presbyterian Church in America (no names here, but you can easily find them out), and Naim Ateek, who comes to delude audiences of Christians about the "Palestinian struggle" even as the Christian population of the "Palestinian" territories has plummeted, since Israel relinquished control, from 20% to 2% -- out of fear of Muslim "Palestinians."

Nor, of course, do Michel Sabbagh and his ilk pay much attention to the situation of Christians in the Sudan, or Indonesia, or Pakistan. Why would they? It would get in the way of their promotion of the Islamic attempt not only to reduce Israel to the dimensions that will allow them to go in for the final kill, but to seize control of the Holy Land. What, after all, do you think would happen to that Holy Land if Israel were to disappear? Do you think the Christian sites would be as scrupulously preserved? As available to pilgrims? Would Christians walk around Jerusalem if it were under the rule of Muslims with quite the same feelings of security that they do now?

No? Why not? And don't expect Michel Sabbagh [or Sami Awad]  to give you a truthful answer.[

Originally posted Dec. 27, 2005]

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Posted on 06/30/2012 9:31 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Saturday, 30 June 2012
Poem America
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by Martin Burke (July 2012)


For Robert Gibbons, and in mourning for the death of the true American spirit

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Already the emptiness grows and America has begun to die so that even if I
     planted a tree the ground I planted it in would be useless

Summer says it is winter and I have no means to dispute this  more>>>

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Posted on 06/30/2012 9:31 AM by NER
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Saturday, 30 June 2012
Philip Glass Now 75
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by Richard Kostelanetz (July 2012)


Born 31 January 1937, to the day 140 years after Franz Schubert, Philip Glass grew up in Baltimore, the son of a record shop proprietor who fortuitously took home the modern-music discs that didn’t sell. As a teenager, Philip attended his city’s toughest public high school (called “City College”) while taking lessons in the flute at the local Peabody Conservatory. He matriculated early (at 16) at the University of Chicago, which has always been a more serious school, and then to Juilliard, then as now the most daunting music conservatory in America.  more>>>

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Posted on 06/30/2012 9:24 AM by NER
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Saturday, 30 June 2012
The Queen Comes to the Queen
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by NB Armstrong (July 2012)


St Peters church in Nottingham, a city nicknamed the Queen of the Midlands, is two hundred years old this year. The view from its elevated cemetery yard still presents an imaginable lingering trace of what this built up patchwork of inner city Nottingham once looked like when it was mostly fields and meadows as the nineteenth century began. It sits in the Radford area, in which Alan Silitoe’s 1958 boss and union resistant gruff hero Arthur Seaton drank and lathe turned in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. The new Opas student accommodation complex at the foot of St Peters Street has larded the population density and, according to one local resident, happily raised property prices.  more>>>

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Posted on 06/30/2012 9:17 AM by NER
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Saturday, 30 June 2012
Rooted in Poetry
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Bernard Kops Returns to Russia to Assassinate the Tsar

a book review by Thomas Ország-Land
(July 2012)


IN 1881, the St. Petersburg cell of the notorious anarchist organization Narodnaya Volya (The People’s Will) assassinates the tyrannical antisemite Tsar Alexander II of All Mother Russia, the flames of murderous pogroms sweep through the abused Pale of Settlements and a Jewish boy from Muswell Hill in 21st century London is rescued by the banned Yiddish Jericho Players company of Latvia... What?  more>>>

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Posted on 06/30/2012 9:06 AM by NER
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Saturday, 30 June 2012
The Dusty Shelf of History
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by Bryce Rogers (July 2012)


The past is a blind beast that devours all it meets; nothing escapes the oblivion of its maw without the greatest effort, and nothing is preserved perpetually. Works of genius—writings we call immortal—are merely nibbled and gnawed. There is no dispensation.  more>>>

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Posted on 06/30/2012 9:01 AM by NER
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Saturday, 30 June 2012
False Radicals
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by David P. Gontar (July 2012)

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There is a specter haunting Shakespeare studies today  -  the specter of the authorship controversy. Though countless exorcisms have been performed, the ghost hovers still, its chill breath fogging the laptops of the tonsured and tenured professoriate. "There is no question," they insist. "It is a bogus non-issue, on a par with flying saucers and the Loch Ness Monster." But they are hoist with their own petards: non-existent demons need hardly be cast out, only real ones.  more>>>  

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Posted on 06/30/2012 8:54 AM by NER
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Saturday, 30 June 2012
Privacy, And The Sinister Data-Collection And Data-Mining Services
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it is not so much this or that government that tracks our every move. When the Constitution was written, no one could have foreseen those massive, relentless, ever-more sinister data-collection services -- for that is what Google and Facebook and so many other so-called hi-tech companies really are -- amassers of data, which are then used by advertisers, the better to target you, Little Red Riding Hood, for advertisers, including those who gratefully advertise on Google, on Facebook.

Here's a story about a Sherlock Holmes, doing more than the government has, so far, to track the cruel and ruthless conspirators who are presented to the world as worthy of admiration and emulation

How a Lone Grad Student Scooped the Government and What It Means for Your Online Privacy

The FTC is going after big tech companies with no Wi-Fi, outdated BlackBerries, and computers that can't even access the websites they're supposed to watch over.

 Jun. 29, 2012

This story first appeared on the ProPublica website, where it was co-published with Wired.

Jonathan Mayer had a hunch.

A gifted computer scientist, Mayer suspected that online advertisers might be getting around browser settings that are designed to block tracking devices known as cookies. If his instinct was right, advertisers were following people as they moved from one website to another even though their browsers were configured to prevent this sort of digital shadowing. Working long hours at his office, Mayer ran a series of clever tests in which he purchased ads that acted as sniffers for the sort of unauthorized cookies he was looking for. He hit the jackpot, unearthing one of the biggest privacy scandals of the past year: Google was secretly planting cookies on a vast number of iPhone browsers. Mayer thinks millions of iPhones were targeted by Google.

This is precisely the type of privacy violation the Federal Trade Commission aims to protect consumers from, and Google, which claims the cookies were not planted in an unethical way, now reportedly faces a fine of more than $10 million. But the FTC didn't discover the violation. Mayer is a 25-year-old student working on law and computer science degrees at Stanford University. He shoehorned his sleuthing between classes and homework, working from an office he shares in the Gates Computer Science Building with students from New Zealand and Hong Kong. He doesn't get paid for his work and he doesn't get much rest.

If it seems odd that a federal regulator was scooped by a sleep-deprived student, get used to it, because the federal government is often the last to know about digital invasions of your privacy. The largest privacy scandal of the past year, also involving Google, wasn't discovered by federal regulators, either. A privacy official in Germany forced Google to hand over the hard drives of cars equipped with 360-degree digital cameras that were taking pictures for its Street View program. The Germans discovered that Google wasn't just shooting photos: The cars downloaded a panoply of sensitive data, including emails and passwords, from open Wi-Fi networks. Google had secretly done the same in the United States, but the FTC, as well as the Federal Communications Commission, which oversees broadcast issues, had no idea until the Germans figured it out.

Nearly every day, and often several times a day, there is fresh news of privacy invasions as companies hone their ability to imperceptibly assemble a vast amount of data about anyone with a smartphone, laptop or credit card. Retailers, search engines, social media sites, news organizations — all want to know as much as they can about their visitors and users so that ads can be targeted as precisely as possible. But data mining, which has become central to the corporate bottom line, can be downright creepy, with companies knowing what you search for, what you buy, which websites you visit, how long you browse — and more. Earlier this year, it was revealed that Target realized a teenage customer was pregnant before her father knew; the firm identifies first-term pregnancies through, among other things, purchases of scent-free products. It's akin to someone rifling through your wallet, closet or medicine cabinet, but in the digital sphere no one picks your pocket or breaks into your house. The tracking is done mostly without your knowledge and, in many cases, despite your attempts to stop it, as Mayer discovered.

The FTC is the lead agency in the government's effort to ensure that companies do not cross the still-hazy border between acceptable and unacceptable data collection. But the agency's ambitions are clipped by a lack of both funding and legal authority, reflecting a broader uncertainty about the role government should play in what is arguably America's most promising new industry. Companies like Facebook and Google are global brands for which data mining is at the core of present and future profits. How far should they go? Current laws provide few limits, mainly banning data collection from children under 13 and prohibiting the sale of personal medical data. Beyond that, it's a digital mosh pit, and it's likely to remain that way because more regulation tends to be regarded by politicians in both parties as meaning fewer jobs. Students will probably continue to beat the FTC to the punch: The agency just has one privacy technologist working in its Division of Privacy and Identity Protection and one in the Division of Financial Practices. "I don't think it's controversial to note that they seem to be understaffed," Mayer said in a phone interview between classes. "I think that's pretty clear."

This isn't the usual sort of story about regulation watered down by intimate ties between government officials and the industry they oversee. Unlike the U.S. Minerals Management Service, where not long ago a number of officials were found to have shared drugs and had sex with representatives of the oil and gas industry, key FTC officials hired by the Obama administration are privacy hawks who worked previously for consumer-rights groups like Public Citizen and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Under Chairman Jon Liebowitz, a Democrat appointed to the FTC in 2004 and tapped as chairman by President Obama in 2009, the FTC has pushed boundaries; its first privacy technologist, hired shortly after Liebowitz became chairman, was a semifamous activist who made a name for himself by printing fake boarding passes to draw attention to airline security lapses (the FBI, which raided his house, was not pleased). The agency is working with the tech industry to create and voluntarily adopt a Do Not Track option, so that consumers can avoid some intrusive web tracking by advertising firms. And it issued a report this year that called for new legislation to define what data miners can and cannot do.

Yet the FTC is ill-equipped to find out, on its own, what companies like Google and Facebook are doing behind the scenes. For instance, ProPublica discovered that the FTC's Privacy and Identity Protection technologist has a digital hand tied behind his back because the computer in his office has security filters that restrict access to key websites. While Mayer has an ultrafast Internet connection, top-of-the-line computer, an office chair he loves and tasty lunches for free ("Stanford students do not want in any way," he notes), the FTC technologist uses his personal laptop and, because there is no Wi-Fi at the agency, connects to the Internet by tethering it to his iPhone. He browses the Web at cellphone speed. There are no free lunches.

***

The FTC is headquartered in a landmarked building on Pennsylvania Avenue flanked by two sculptures of a man trying to restrain a muscle-bound horse that is straining to gallop away. The sculptures, completed in 1942, are entitled "Man Controlling Trade," and they explain a lot about the FTC's current dilemma. The notion of controlling trade, popular when the sculptures were erected a half-century ago, is not a vote-winner today. The FTC was an early battleground of the movement that began in the Reagan era to reduce government regulation. The agency had more than 1,700 employees in the 1970s, but is down to 1,176 today, even though the economy has more than doubled in that span. The FTC's responsibilities are vast: It must police everything from financial scams to antitrust activity, identity theft and misleading advertising.

Especially among Republicans, there is little interest in providing more resources. California Rep. Mary Bono-Mack, at a recent hearing on privacy legislation, warned that the government "has this really bad habit of overreaching whenever it comes to new regulations." Although the American Civil Liberties Union may see an epidemic of privacy violations, Bono-Mack said, "I haven't gotten a single letter from anyone back home urging me to pass a privacy bill." The skepticism is not just an outside-the-building phenomenon; it comes from within the FTC, too. One of the agency's five commissioners, Republican Thomas Rosch, dissented from its 2013 budget request, which asks for less money than the prior year budget of $312 million. Rosch said he believed the FTC still wanted too much. "In these austere times we should do more ... with fewer resources," his dissent said.

The cold shoulder is not entirely Republican. Earlier this year the Obama administration unveiled a "Privacy Bill of Rights" that sets a variety of enviable standards for consumer privacy. "American consumers can't wait any longer for clear rules of the road that ensure their personal information is safe online," President Obama said. The document, which among other things would allow individuals to control the data collected on them, was welcomed by consumer groups. But it's not legislation. It's a wish-list. The administration hopes that some of its wishes, like a Do Not Track list, will be granted through voluntary industry standards. But many of the wishes require Congress to pass laws that it is unlikely to pass anytime soon. The FTC's meager budget request would seem to be the best indication yet of the prospects for significantly greater federal privacy protection.

It's an old story with a new twist. Few industries have as many admirers in Washington, D.C., as Silicon Valley, which unlike the oil industry has what appears to be an equally large number of friends on both sides of the aisle. The tech industry is generally regarded as liberal-leaning — for instance, Eric Schmidt, the Google chairman, was an Obama campaign adviser and serves on the president's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. But Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was counseled in his presidential bid by both Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, and by Meg Whitman, the former CEO of eBay who now heads HP. Silicon Valley is one of the country's few global growth industries; politicians are reluctant to put restrictions on what it can and cannot do.

-- on Google, on Facebook. Google, Facebook, and other data-collection services, not the government, are the threats

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Posted on 06/30/2012 8:49 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Saturday, 30 June 2012
Sami Awad’s Back Pages
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by Dexter Van Zile (July 2012)


Sami Awad, the scion of a prominent family of Arab Christians from the West Bank is to pro-Palestinian propaganda what Bruce Springsteen was to rock and roll in the early 1970s – its future.

I’m not sure that’s a good thing.  more>>>

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Posted on 06/30/2012 8:48 AM by NER
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Saturday, 30 June 2012
Pilar Rahola, Woman of Conscience
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by Norman Berdichevsky (July 2012)


The final chapter of my book, The Left is Seldom Right (New English Review Press, 2011 and see interview with me by Jamie Glazov in FrontPage Magazine, Oct. 31, 2011)  deals with three outstanding women journalists and writers who were once saluted by the political Left internationally only to be later abandoned and then subjected to invective and scorn which the Left traditionally uses to castigate "turncoats and traitors." Their record of integrity and courage deserves to be better known. They are Orianna Fallaci, Pilar Rahola and Sigrid Undset. I will deal with each one in turn in subsequent articles.  more>>>

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Posted on 06/30/2012 8:43 AM by NER
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Saturday, 30 June 2012
Muslim Brotherhood Triumphant in the Middle East and Washington
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by Jerry Gordon and Mike Bates (July 2012)


In May, the Middle East verged on becoming a tinderbox with a possible proxy war between former allies Turkey and Syria. Syria shot down an aging Turkish Air Force F-4 reconnaissance aircraft on May 22nd. The Islamist Turkish regime of Prime Minister Erdogan invoked an emergency meeting of NATO as it is a member. While the Syrian action was condemned by NATO under Article 4, no immediate action was forthcoming as was the case with NATO’s aerial campaign in Libya.  more>>>

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Posted on 06/30/2012 8:36 AM by NER
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Saturday, 30 June 2012
Is “Moderate Muslim” an Oxymoron?
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Dr. Richard L. Benkin (July 2012)


Is “Moderate Muslim” an Oxymoron? As applied to individuals, absolutely not. Those of us who know individual Muslims will testify to that all day long. Our Muslim friends and colleagues are no different than our other associates, and we find it difficult to hear blanket statements categorizing all Muslims as open or closet jihadis. Condemn all Muslims that way, and you do more to condemn yourself. And that’s one of the reasons for all the distortions we encounter: our values make us uncomfortable condemning any religion or large group of people because of their adherence to it. But our existential struggle is not about individuals.  more>>>

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Posted on 06/30/2012 8:31 AM by NER
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Saturday, 30 June 2012
Tactical Candor and Strategic Illusions
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by G. Murphy Donovan (July 2012)


“Mendacity is a system that we live in. Liquor is one way out and death's the other.”
                                                                 - Tennessee Williams

Tennessee Williams had a flair for skewering hypocrites and pompous elites who refuse to deal with unpleasant facts or ominous futures. But, truth telling in a theater is not necessarily dangerous. In contrast, candor in a theater of war or in military politics is kin to tinkering with an improvised explosive device.  more>>>

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Posted on 06/30/2012 8:25 AM by NER
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Saturday, 30 June 2012
Coming of Age in the Judean Hills
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by Moshe Dann (July 2012)


"Hi, Abba." My 24-year old step-son, Yonatan ("Yonch") calls me. "I'm living in Maale Rechavam now. Want to visit?"

Delighted by the invitation, I was also apprehensive. We had drifted apart after his mother and I divorced a dozen years ago. After he'd graduated high school and joined the army I'd heard from him occasionally, hesitantly. Short conversations usually ended abruptly, his need for a relationship dangling on a string between us, a tightrope, my longing for him, for the closeness that I'd nurtured during the decade that I'd raised him and his two older brothers.  more>>>

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Posted on 06/30/2012 8:19 AM by NER
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Saturday, 30 June 2012
By Foot to Gombe
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by Geoffrey Clarfield (July 2012)


About a decade ago I drove a Landover into Kigoma town, with its pot holes, dust on the road, dukkas selling everything from imported South African granny smith apples to Kitenga cloth printed in the Congo and everything else that you might need to run a modern, or for that matter, traditional household at the end of the railway line from Dar. We handed my knapsack to Salim the boat driver and were introduced to various members of his family, all who seem to work for the Jane Goodall Institute at Gombe Streams National Park.  more>>>

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Posted on 06/30/2012 8:13 AM by NER
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Saturday, 30 June 2012
The Art of Writing Well
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by Matthew Walther (July 2012)




Style: The Art of Writing Well

by F.L. Lucas
Harriman House, viii+262 pp.


In June of 2011, the New Criterion published Joseph Epstein’s “Heavy Sentences,” ostensibly a review of Professor Stanley Fish’s How to Write a Sentence (and How to Read One). I write “ostensibly” because Mr. Epstein, finding nothing praiseworthy in the professor’s ludicrous little book, made his review the occasion for some general remarks about prose style.  more>>>

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Posted on 06/30/2012 8:07 AM by NER
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Saturday, 30 June 2012
Evenings with Kierkegaard
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by David Wemyss (July 2012)


A lot of people have heard of Kierkegaard but only a few have read him. He was born in Copenhagen in 1813, the youngest of seven children. By the time he was 21, four of his siblings and his mother were dead. It’s an amazing story of family melancholy, and even madness. Some think he was forged years before he was born, when his troubled father, little more than a boy at the time, cursed God on a blasted Jutland heath - and was still brooding over it at the age of 82! Kierkegaard certainly had a religiously claustrophobic upbringing - to say the least - but by the time he entered the University of Copenhagen in 1830 to study theology he had managed to reinvent himself as something of a young man about town.  more>>>

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Posted on 06/30/2012 8:02 AM by NER
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Saturday, 30 June 2012
Eliot the Adversary
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by Mark Anthony Signorelli (July 2012)


In an article published previously at the website called The Imaginative Conservative, entitled “T.S. Eliot as Conservative Mentor,” Roger Scruton attempts to make the case for Eliot as one of the great representatives of the conservative tradition in the twentieth century. Considering his achievements as both a poet and a critic, Mr. Scruton concludes that Eliot is a vital author, one who has reconciled an allegiance to the broad traditions of Christianity and conservative politics with the unique social conditions of modernity.  more>>>

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Posted on 06/30/2012 7:56 AM by NER
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