Tuesday, 10 December 2013
Turkish Tourists Heil Hitlering at Auschwitz
From INN (h/t: Jihadwatch)
Two Turkish tourists could face up to two years in prison for giving Nazi salutes outside the site of the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp in Poland.
The Turkish nationals - who according to Turkey's Zaman news site are a man and woman, both aged 22 - are apparently studying history at Budapest university in neighboring Hungary.
They reportedly took pictures of each other making the offensive gestures underneath the infamous "Arbeit macht frei" ("Work makes you free") sign, which stands at the entrance to the former death camp. The sign was one of the first - and for many, the last - things which the camp's estimated 1.1 million victims, approximately 90% of whom were Jewish, saw upon arrival, after being offloaded from crowded cattle carts.
The pair will likely face charges for publicly promoting Nazi symbols in public, which is a criminal offense in Poland.
This is not the first time Turkish students have been arrested for displays of fascism at the site of a former Polish concentration camp.
In a similar incident in October, two Turkish university students were arrested at the site of the Majdanik death camp after giving Nazi salutes to a group of Israeli students and shouting "Heil Hitler".
The two protested their innocence at the time, saying they had only meant the gestures "as a joke".
This latest incident once more shines a spotlight on growing anti-Semitism in Turkey, a phenomenon which has forced many young Turkish Jews to leave the country and which many analysts blame on the ruling Islamist AKP party, whose own leading officials have actively engaged in anti-Semitic rhetoric.
In July, Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister accused "Diaspora Jewry" of orchestrating the "Gezi Park" anti-government protests. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has a long history of anti-Semitic and racist remarks, including collectively comparing Jews to "Nazis" during his term as the mayor of Istanbul.
And in May, a shocking documentary revealed alarming levels of anti-Semitism among Turkish immigrant youths in Holland, where growing anti-Semitism has been blamed largely on the country's growing Muslim population.
Posted on 12/10/2013 6:55 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Tuesday, 10 December 2013
A Night at the Theatre
There is a tiny theatre in the little town in which I live and its programme offers a depressing insight into the taste of the English provincial public, and which supports my contention that we are about to enter the first era in history of the ageing adolescent. The next three productions at the theatre are to be Homage to the Bee Gees, Homage to Abba, and Homage to Elvis (the latter, of course, for the really old). Arrested development is never very attractive.
Recently, however, there was a put on a farce by Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall called Who's Who?, written in 1972. It is a sub-Feydeau bedroom farce in which two men, Mr White and Mr Black, meet in a Brighton hotel for what was then called 'a dirty weekend' with their respective mistresses, whom each of them mistakes for the other's wife. I went to it not in the expectation of seeing a masterpiece, but to support the theatre in its valiant but unavailing attempt to put on real plays rather than 'concerts' by fantasists who ape the epic bad taste of past stars of popular music.
As I expected, it wasn't a very good play to put it mildly. I cannot recall a single witty line in it; the dialogue was Feydeau weighed down by suet pudding. I doubt that the authors themselves would have counted it among their best works.
Nevertheless it was not without historical interest, for although only 40 years old it spoke of a way of life as different from ours as that of any Trobriand Islander. For it assumed that marriages were permanent, mothers-in-law were dragons, and extra-marital affairs in hotels were unusual, dangerous and difficult to conduct. There were still co-respondents in divorces, and presumably that once famous sartorial accoutrement of infidelity, the correspondent's shoes. To obtain a divorce, fault on one side or the other still had to be proved; and hotels still employed 'hotel detectives' to sniff out illicit liaisons taking place in them.
I need hardly say that this is a mental world away from what we take for granted now.
First published in the Salisbury Review.
Posted on 12/10/2013 6:23 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
Tuesday, 10 December 2013
The Inimitable Burak Bekdil On "The Great Islamic Democracy"
Burak Bekdil: "A Great Islamic Democracy"
According to the EU minister, Egemen Ba???, “it is indisputable that Turkey is now closer than ever to EU standards in terms of democracy, human rights and economic developments.” According to the foreign minister, Ahmet Davuto?lu, “Turkey is not a second-class democracy” – against which this columnist once wrote that Turkey must walk a long way and reform its crippled electoral democracy to earn that title.
According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, Turkey is a hybrid regime, a ranking that comes below “flawed” democracy. But in an interview with the Italian daily Corriera della Sera in 2010, President Barack Obama referred to Turkey as “a great Islamic democracy.”
Why did/does Mr. Obama not refer to his own country, or to his western European allies as “great Christian democracies?” Or why did he not refer to Turkey simply as “a democracy?” Why did democracy come with a religious prefix in Turkey’s case? Events after the Obama interview have powerfully illustrated that the president’s wording was not arbitrary.
In a speech during the weekend, the popular, elected leader of the great Islamic democracy once again roared about what he understands about democracy, “Whatever my nation wants, whatever direction it wishes… shall be implemented.” That is the heart of the matter with “a great Islamic democracy.”
Now, to test the merits of his great Islamic democracy, Mr. Erdo?an can put to referendum a number of subjects: Should Abdullah Öcalan, leader of the PKK, be hanged? Should Turkey invade the rest of Cyprus? Should the government abolish the income tax? Should the price of gasoline be reduced by 80 percent? Salaries be doubled? Non-Muslim Turks be expelled and their properties confiscated to be distributed to Muslim Turks? Apostates be jailed?
In fact, “whatever my nation wishes…” is a populist politician’s nicely-wrapped wording for the great Islamic democracy which a prominent Islamic intellectual described in his column recently. Hayrettin Karaman, a professor of theology and a columnist for the pro-government Yeni ?afak, wrote that, “The governments cannot protect, through law and order, any behavior the majority would dislike or view as harmful, illegitimate and ugly. The minority will have to give up some freedoms (disapproved of by the majority). The remedy… is democracy with a reference to Islam. Otherwise, the majority, whose values could be violated by the minority, will have a right to apply the neighborhood pressure [on the minority] (“Ignoring the majority,” Hayrettin Karaman, Yeni ?afak, Nov. 8, 2013).”
This seriously problematic understanding of democracy is perfectly legitimate for Mr. Erdo?an, as evidenced by his governance regarding issues that most Muslim Turks would probably view as “ugly, harmful and illegitimate,” like alcohol, dissent, opposite-sex dating, co-ed housing and even rock music.
But who, how and with what authority will decide what does and what does not look “ugly, harmful or illegitimate” for the majority? Ten referenda every week? And where is the pluralism and diversity that makes a democracy a democracy? But that’s precisely what separates a democracy from an Islamic democracy or, as in Mr. Karaman’s wording, “a democracy with a reference to Islam.”
Turkey is a great Islamic democracy; not a great democracy or even a democracy. And it is a “great” Islamic democracy, not just because Mr. Obama opted for his usual euphemism when dealing with the Middle East, but because that adjective denotes Turkey’s better democratic credentials than all of the Muslim countries in its region.
There is one problem, though, about the present state of Turkey’s great Islamic democracy, a major fault that may have prompted Mr. Karaman to complain about the minority’s “ugly, harmful and illegitimate” behavior. It is still too little Islamic, or too secular with millions of drinkers, protestors and crumbs of law.
For instance, in Mssrs. Erdo?an and Karaman’s Islamic democracy, journalist/lawmaker Mustafa Balbay could have been hanged by popular vote because of his “ugly, harmful and illegitimate behavior.”
Luckily, in the ¾ pious and ¼ secular Turkey, Mr. Balbay is –temporarily- free and will be paid compensation of $1.40 for each day he spent in prison because the Constitutional Court ruled that his lengthy imprisonment amounted to a violation of the law and of his right to be elected.
Posted on 12/10/2013 6:23 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 10 December 2013
On Listening to Handel’s Messiah in Concert
On Saturday evening December 7, my daughter took me to the annual concert of Handel’s Messiah by the Hartford Symphony and the Hartford Chorale in Hartford’s utterly magnificent Bushnell Theatre. The Bushnell seats 2,800 people, every seat of which was taken. Hannah goes almost every year with her husband, son or daughter. This year it was my turn.
Although I have listened to the Messiah many times, both at home and in concert, as I listened this year I once again marveled at the beauty, intricacy and complexity of the work, with its many voices, instruments, and emotions that Handel had flawlessly woven into a single harmonious work. Truly, it is one of the greatest musical works ever composed. I said to Hannah, “In our time, Handel might have been a designer of highly complex software.” Had Handel not been a believer, he could never have used his brain to compose this work. It was a plus for all of us that Handel lived at a time when one could truly believe. We would all be impoverished had Handel never been among us.
I attend services faithfully on the Sabbath and Holy Days at my congregation in Fairfield, Connecticut. Many of my best friends are members, but listening to the Messiah reminded me that, like much of Christian music, the Messiah is awesomely triumphant and nowhere as much so as in the Hallelujah Chorus and the choral finale. There is little of triumph in Jewish music, partly because our history has hardly been triumphant, but there is something else at work in the Messiah. It proclaims more beautifully and triumphantly than any other piece of music I know Christ’s victory over death, which if true, is the ultimate triumph. From the Messiah’s open lines, we know what is coming:
Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.
Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins.
The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. (Isaiah 40:1-3)
Handel’s message is clear: to partake of Christ’s resurrection is the ultimate comfort.
However, for Christians, Handel’s Messiah also proclaims another triumph, one that has echoed tragically over the years, Christianity’s triumph over Judaism. Some would say that it was no triumph, but the revelation of Judaism’s inner meaning, but that, of course, is not the way traditional Jews see it:
Why do the nations so furiously rage together and the peoples imagine a vain thing
…against the Lord and his anointed?
He that sitteth in heaven shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision (Psalm 2:1-2)
Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron;
Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel (Psalm 2:4)
When these verses were written, the Psalmist had in mind idolaters who worship a “vain thing,” but that is not what Handel meant or what Handel’s audiences understood. It was my people, who included the Psalmist, who, according to Handel, the Lord shall “hold in derision.”
The history of religion is my academic field. I understood clearly what both the Psalmist and Handel meant, yet I stood respectfully, as is traditional, when the Hallalujah chorus was sung and I was glad to see an audience of almost three thousand and a chorus and orchestra numbering in the hundreds rejoicing in this celebration of Christian faith and strength. I did so in full knowledge of the sufferings my people often endured under Christendom.
In today’s world, I welcome healthy expressions of Christian strength and fear Christian weakness. In spite of the refusal of Western political elites to recognize, what is all too obvious, that Christianity is under determined attack by a segment of Islam that seeks by subversion, terror, and dissimulation permanently to undermine the Western political order and its Christian roots. Whatever its faults, Christianity is capable of a saving power, therapeutic in its effects, that is difficult or impossible to find in Islam, the healing power of critical self-reflection.
Posted on 12/10/2013 5:50 PM by Richard L. Rubenstein
Tuesday, 10 December 2013
Why Won't Kerry Learn A Little More? From
From The Gatestone Institute, by Khaled Abu Toameh here,
Posted on 12/10/2013 5:24 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 10 December 2013
Mudar Zahran: Who Is Destroying Al-Aqsa Mosque?
From The Gatestone Institute:
Who Is Destroying Al-Aqsa Mosque?
In a recent visit to Jerusalem, where I visited and prayed at Al-Aqsa, it occurred to me that perhaps we, the Arabs and Muslims, are the ones causing harm to Al-Aqsa, and not, as we claim, the Jews.
"You see these scaffoldings? They [the officials] put them up to claim maintenance work is being done in order to beg donors for money. These scaffoldings have been here for years with nothing done....The sheikh here just takes photos of them to show to donors. Look at the donation boxes here; they collect an average of one million shekels ($284,000) per month. We have no idea where that money goes...The poor and the needy never see any of it." — Members of the Muslim security staff of Al-Aqsa Mosque
The Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, was built on the Temple Mount -- which is the holiest site in Judaism, where the Temple that was destroyed nearly 2000 years ago stood.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque has been one of the items at the center of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Almost every known Arab political organization has vowed "to liberate Al-Aqsa from the Jews." In a recent visit to Jerusalem, where I visited and prayed at Al-Aqsa, it occurred to me that perhaps we, the Arabs and Muslims, are the ones causing harm to Al-Aqsa, and not, as we claim, the Jews.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque, located on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. (Image source: Godot13/WikiMedia Commons)
In 1948, when the Jordanian government occupied Judea and Samaria, the Al-Aqsa Mosque was placed under the Jordanian Waqf Ministry, which oversees Islamic sites. In 1967, when Israel won the Six-Day-War and regained control over Jerusalem, it did not take control of Al-Aqsa. Instead, Israel transferred control of the mosque to the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf [trust], an independent religious body to oversee the Islamic holy sites there.
The Hashemite regime in Jordan continued to pay the salaries of the managers and the staff members of Al-Aqsa, in accord with what Jordan's King Hussein described in 1988 as a religious duty he had inherited as the alleged descendent of the prophet Muhammad.
Israel's responsibility has been limited to providing security and, when necessary, conducting patrols and searches. In addition, the Israeli security forces conduct a strict policy of refusing to allow non-Muslims -- including Israeli Jews -- into Al-Aqsa except for tourism purposes and only at certain hours of the day.
Upon entering the silver-domed mosque, one can quickly notice how neglected the mosque is, and badly in need of maintenance, with dirty walls, dust-covered ceilings and worn-out chairs, including the one on which the Imam sits. Fire equipment, tossed randomly in a heap in a corner, looks as if it has not been touched in a long time.
When they were asked about the shocking condition of the mosque, its staff members, although audio-recorded, spoke on the condition of anonymity:
"The officials themselves and the staff members are the reasons," one of the Mosque's Muslim security staff said. "This chaos and indifference rolls down from the senior officials here who enjoy huge salaries compared to the average staff member."
He pointed at scaffolding stretching to the Mosque's dome, "You see these scaffoldings? They [the officials] put them up to claim maintenance work is being done in order to beg donors for money. These scaffoldings have been there for years with nothing done... The sheikh here just takes photos of them to show to donors. "
He points to two large donations boxes at the center of the mosque. "Look at the donation boxes here; they collect an average of one million shekels ($284,000) per month. We have no clue where that money goes...The poor and the needy never get any of it."
At the center of Al-Aqsa, two glass cupboards exhibit tear gas shells used by the Israeli police during riots of the first Palestinian Intifada, which began in 1987. "We've had these since the first Intifada," an Arab security guard said. "The managers here use these to make visitors sympathize and give donations, they are beggars' tools, that is what they are."
At the mosque's washrooms where worshipers get cleansed according to Islamic precepts, graffiti on the wall states: "Sheikh Azzam Al-Khateeb has destroyed Al-Aqsa." Al-Khateeb is the mosque's general manager, who handles all financial and administrative affairs.
The custodians of the washrooms did not allow photos taken of the graffiti. Nonetheless, an elderly man beckoned and said: "They are slackers, we just have slackers in this place ... This mess you see here is our responsibility; the wrongdoers are from us...among us... We cannot properly pray here, they [the staff] are bad people."
When asked to name names, he refused, but said, "The wrongdoers are from our own folks, son. We are the ones who have destroyed Al-Aqsa... I have worked with the Jordanians, with the Jews, and the Palestinians, I have seen them all, and I know what is really happening."
Another of Al-Aqsa's custodians said: "There are no more Muslims left in the world who care for Al-Aqsa.... The money comes from Jordan not to the poor people, but just to be handed to those running it. They are all thieves. Al-Aqsa is like a plate of food that all dogs are attacking for a bite.... All of those inside the Waqf are thieves.... They all blame each other while actually they are working together. You should see the trash that mounts up here during Ramadan [when people come to visit]; the officials are not committed to their responsibility at all. All the donations and aid money paid for Al-Aqsa by Arab states do not filter here; we do not see any of it here. Jordan provides the money for salaries here, but it provides zero accountability for the staff handling the money."
Another staff member joins the discussion: "Jordan and all Arab countries that give money to Al-Aqsa must be collecting much more donations than what they actually give out, otherwise, trust me, they wouldn't be giving anything at all. Look at the washrooms, the government of Turkey provided $2 million dollars to fix and expand those, and then Al-Aqsa's administration collected $2 million more in donations [for the project]...still, nothing was ever fixed or built."
When a group of staff members having lunch was asked why Al-Aqsa was in such a poor state, one of them answered: "You should ask Azzam Al-Khatib [Al-Aqsa's manager]; ask him why Al-Aqsa is dirty and full of flies. All Arab countries donate money for Al-Aqsa; ask Azzam Al-Khatib where does that money go?!" Another man said: "We do not even have proper loudspeakers for the worshipers to hear the Imam. Would those Jews do that to us if Al-Aqsa were under their management?"
A staff member at the nearby Dome of the Rock, where the Quran states that Prophet Muhammad ascended to the sky and met God, said: "The staff here is careless, they play a role in all of this bad state of affairs." He added, "This is all the fault of the Jews; they are to blame for all of this."
When asked how the Jews were responsible for the dirty walls, the worn out furniture, and the neglected facilities, he did not answer.
At the Al-Aqsa Mosque manager's office, located within the mosque, there were no executive staff members with whom to meet. I was told no one was there.
Repeated calls to Al-Aqsa's designated office at the Palestinian Authority Waqf Ministry, to request a comment, were never answered, not a single time.
As a practicing Muslim, I was sad to hear that those managing Al-Aqsa were more concerned with donations and their personal welfare rather than with the mosque itself.
Which prompts the question: Is Al-Aqsa is an Islamically sacred site, or is it a tool to collect donations by trying to elicit global Islamic sympathy -- just a goose that lays golden eggs for its managers?
It seems that it is we Arabs and Muslims who are harming Al-Aqsa, not Israel or the Jews.
Posted on 12/10/2013 5:18 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 10 December 2013
Atheists Face Death In 13 Countries, "All Of Them Muslim"
Posted on 12/10/2013 5:08 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 10 December 2013
When Forgiving Is Merely Human, And To Err Divine
The erring -- think Milanese erre moscia
, think Petersburgian kartavanie
-- on the part of Hezbollah is reported here
Posted on 12/10/2013 4:12 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 10 December 2013
Lee Rigby trial: Court case of two men accused of Woolwich soldier murder adjourned for day
From the Mirror
The defence case for Michael Adebowale, accused of the murder in Woolwich of Fusilier Lee Rigby had been expected to begin. Mr Justice Sweeney told the jury there was 'good reason' why the case could not continue today but did not give any further explanation.
The case resumed this morning with David Gottlieb formally closing the defence case for the first defendant Michael Adebolajo. Mr Justice Sweeney then told the jury they would not be sitting for the rest of the day.
He said: "I am very sorry you have been kept waiting. Having discussed matters with counsel and for good reason, we can in fact go no further today. That therefore means I am going to release you for the rest of the day."
Posted on 12/10/2013 2:38 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 10 December 2013
A Literary Interlude: Microcosmos (Wislawa Szymborska)
When we first started looking through microscopes
a cold fear blew and it’s still blowing.
Life hitherto had been frantic enough
in all its shapes and dimensions.
Which is why it created small-scale creatures,
assorted tiny worms and flies,
but at least the naked human eye
could see them.
But then suddenly beneath the glass,
foreign to a fault
and so petite,
that what they occupy in space
can only charitably be called a spot.
The glass doesn’t even touch them,
they double and triple unobstructed,
with room to spare, willy-nilly.
To say they’re many isn’t saying much.
The stronger the microscope
the more exactly, avidly they’re multiplied.
They don’t even have decent innards.
They don’t know gender, childhood, age.
They may not even know they are—or aren’t.
Still they decide our life and death.
Some freeze in momentary stasis,
although we don’t know what their moment is.
Since they’re so minuscule themselves,
their duration may be
A windborne speck of dust is a meteor
from deepest space,
a fingerprint is a farflung labyrinth
where they may gather
for their mute parades,
their blind iliads and upanishads.
I’ve wanted to write about them for a long while,
but it’s a tricky subject,
always put off for later
and perhaps worthy of a better poet,
even more stunned by the world than I.
But time is short. I write.
Posted on 12/10/2013 12:17 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 9 December 2013
Rigby murder suspect tells court he should be 'ransomed back to the Mujhadeen', freed to an Islamic state or killed
From the London Evening Standard
Opening his defence from the witness box, Michael Adebolajo said he regretted nothing and insisted “I am a soldier, I am a soldier, I am a soldier”.
Asked what he thought should happen to him now, he replied that he should be “ransomed back to the Mujhadeen”, freed to an Islamic state or killed.
He said he was “disgusted” by the Iraq war and blamed the then Prime Minister Tony Blair for the death of one of his friends killed in an explosion.Adebolajo sat calmly in the witness box between the judge and the jury. He was in place dressed in a tunic jacket buttoned to the neck and surrounded by three seated prison officers when the eight-woman, four-man jury filed into court.
Asked by his barrister David Gottlieb for his name, he replied in a low voice, Mujaahid Abu Hamza, although he had been referred to in court by his birth name.
Questioned about al-Qaeda, Adebolajo told the jury: “I consider them as a mujhadeen group. I love them, they are my brothers, I have never met them but I love them, I consider them my brothers in Islam.” He went on: “I consider myself a mujhadeen, I hope.”
Earlier he told the jury that he drew his political opinions from Allah and the Koran and “not what the majority of people say.” “Most non-Muslims hate my guts because of my actions but that’s not my concern. My concern is: Does Allah love me?”
Adebolajo said he didn’t know 100 per cent that Lee Rigby was a soldier. But he added: “There were some steps that we took before we set out that day. I prayed and begged Allah that we did not target anyone outside the military. . . It continues to be my hope that the life of this one soldier might indirectly save the lives of many, many people both in the Muslim lands and this country. If you die truly and sincerely hoping for Allah’s pleasure than you will be considered a shaheed [martyr].”
The court heard that Adebolajo is married and has six children, including a seven-year-old boy.
He said that, growing up in Romford, the “vast majority” of his friends were white British, and one, Kirk Redpath, joined the Army and was later killed in Iraq.
Adebolajo said he had converted to Islam in his first year at Greenwich University where he was studying building surveying but did not complete his degree. He told the jury: “My religion is everything.
When asked about his attitude to people in authority, he said: “Generally speaking, I don’t get along with them, generally. In most instances I don’t get along with authority, except for my mother and my father.”
As ground rules were set out for his giving evidence, including not speaking over the judge, he said: “I don’t believe in the law.”
He became increasingly emotional, his head rocking from side to side as he told the court: " . . . The British and Americans and French... Allah commands me that I fight them."
Adebolajo has asked to be known as Mujaahid Abu Hamza in court, while Adebowale has asked to be called Ismail Ibn Abdullah.
The case continues.
Posted on 12/09/2013 11:42 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 9 December 2013
Jed Perl On Art And The Very Rich
on how the very rich --very far from the educated or well-advised medicis and maecenases of yore -- and those gagosians who lead them by the nose at Basel and Miami, do damage to the understanding, judgment, and reception of art. .
Posted on 12/09/2013 7:21 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 9 December 2013
Baby-faced Birmingham gang's reign of terror ends in ASBO
I have been on an underground train travelling through east London when something similar happened. It's an established technique in Israel against Jews walking their home districts. I doubt that an ASBO will be enough and I doubt that the courts will admit that the motive is well beyond hooliganism. These yobs’ are juvenile jihadists.
From the Birmingham Mail
A gang of baby-faced thugs – including one aged just 13 – have been banned from two Birmingham neighbourhoods for throwing rocks at terrified passersby. The schoolboy yobs struck fear into the hearts of law-abiding residents in Washwood Heath and Bordesley Green and laughed at the law despite being arrested dozens of times.
They also hurled racial insults at community members, vandalised buses and verbally abused other passengers.
None of the thugs was older than 15 and the youngest – 13-year-old Sajeer Khan – looked younger still on a West Midlands Police mug shot. Now Khan, his brother Kabir, 15, and Hamza Shafiq, 14, have all been hit with three-year anti-social behaviour orders banning them from parts of Washwood Heath and Bordesley Green.
Hassan Hussain, also 15, was banned from the same areas unless he was accompanied by his father.
The orders, which imposed overnight curfews on the Khans and Shafiq, were imposed after Birmingham Magistrates’ Court heard the gang, who all live in Alum Rock, caused months of misery.
Clockwise from top left: Hamza Shafiq, Hassan Hussain, Kabir Khan and Sajeer Khan
Posted on 12/09/2013 4:28 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 9 December 2013
Lee Smith: The Obama Administration And What It Won't Do In Iran
Posted on 12/09/2013 2:41 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 9 December 2013
Anjem Choudary: Muslim vigilantes who terrorised non-believers ‘deserve pat on back’
Posted on 12/09/2013 12:37 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 8 December 2013
ASIO cancels passports of Muslim men 'over jihad war fears''
From the Sydney Morning Herald
Australia's domestic spy agency ASIO has cancelled the passports of 20 men from across western Sydney, accusing them of being prepared to ''engage in politically motivated violence'' if they were allowed to travel overseas or of having a ''jihadi mentality'' that made them a threat to national security.
The move came without warning for some of the men, who only discovered their passports had been cancelled or were deemed to have been ''invalidly obtained'' as they tried to leave Australia on holidays to Thailand, Bali and Saudi Arabia.
Another of the men, 19-year-old Abu Bakr, who spoke to Fairfax Media on Friday, said the first he knew that ASIO thought he would become a foreign fighter was when he received a registered letter saying he was a threat to national security and must surrender his passport. ''It is a 10-page letter saying I had a jihadi mentality … I have never been approached by ASIO to talk about this,'' he said. ''We have been treated unjustly. My record is clean - shiny gold. I am not a criminal.'' Abu Bakr said he had not made any plans to travel overseas and the only reason he believed he had been targeted was because he was outspoken about atrocities taking place against Muslims. He said the cancellations were threats designed to scare people.
Australia's intelligence agencies believe that more than 100 Australians have travelled overseas to fight with groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria. A Brisbane man is believed to have become the first Australian suicide bomber in Syria in a truck bomb attack earlier this year.
Representatives of the group, who are aged from 17 to 40 and come from suburbs stretching from Lakemba to Penrith, have spoken out about the crackdown, saying they are outraged at the infringement on their human rights.
Wissam Haddad, owner of the former Al Risalah Bookstore in the Sydney suburb of Bankstown, who has not had his passport cancelled, but knows many of the men, said there was nothing to link them except their religion and their reputation for speaking up about discrimination.Mr Haddad said they knew of each other, but had little in common, and did not attend the same mosques or prayer halls.
Fifteen of the men have instructed lawyer Zali Burrows to seek a review of the cancellations. ''I anticipate it will be a battle,'' said Ms Burrows.
Posted on 12/08/2013 3:42 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 8 December 2013
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Israel and the Bedouins
Some of the usual suspects in the politically correct British company of Israel-bashers are at it again. This time, fifty public figures signed a letter in The Guardian on November 29, 2013 demanding that the British government protest what the letter called "forced displacement of Bedouin Palestinians" by Israel.
Not only should these automatic critics be ashamed of themselves for their insufferable ignorance and arrogance, but they are also espousing a politically reactionary, not progressive, point of view.
The letter was signed by "experts" on people, law, and conditions in the Negev in Israel, such as the actress Julie Christie, the filmmakers Mike Leigh and Ken Loach, and members of Parliament, including Jeremy Corbyn and Lady Jenny Tonge. Many of the signers have long exhibited their acute criticism or hostility on many occasions, having signed statements about alleged violations of something or other by Israel. It is less clear their "expertise" extends to mastery of the intricacies of Ottoman Land Law in the Middle East.
All can agree that the Bedouins, numbering 210,000 in the Negev, are the most impoverished group in Israel, and one with serious social problems. They have a high birth rate -- 5%, one of the highest in the world -- and about 120,000 are under 18 years old. They suffer from a high poverty rate and also a high crime rate. To help them over the years, Israel has provided and still is allocating considerable resources -- about 1.2 billion shekels -- for development in the Negev in areas of employment, education, infrastructure, and personal security.
The tribal Bedouin population is still partly nomadic, as well as partly settled. To foster their development and integration into mainstream society, Israel has attempted their settlement with so far partial success. Between 1968 and 1989, Israel built seven townships, including Rahat and Hura, in the Northern Negev for Bedouins and provided housing, health, utilities, public services, and education. About half of the Bedouins went there, and the rest remained in their villages.
As nomads, Bedouins have wandered across the area, and many in the Negev come from Arabia, Sinai, and Egypt. Slowly, they have been making the transition from animal husbandry to agriculture in the context of modernization and urbanization in Israeli society. The Bedouins face problems of tension between tradition and change. Most important, the problem of Bedouin ownership of land and the settlements in which they live has perplexed Israel for many years.
Israel has been confronted with a number of issues: settling Bedouin ownership claims to land, ending the villages built illegally, fully integrating the Bedouins into Israeli society and economic prosperity, reducing the economic and social gap between the Bedouins and Israel society as a whole, and in general developing the Negev with emphasis on employment, education, and the rule of law.
Instead of welcoming Israeli efforts to deal with these complex issues, the uninformed and prejudiced letter in The Guardian criticizes the Israeli Prawer-Begin plan to deal with them. This plan was presented by a committee chaired by Ehud Prawer, head of the Department for Policy Planning in the Office of the Prime Minister. The bill proposing the implementation of the plan was accepted in principle, after an impassioned debate in the Knesset, by 43-40 on June 13, 2013. It obviously will undergo revision on details before its final passage.
Land, appropriate settlement, and economic development are related. About 40% of Bedouins live in "unrecognized villages." These villages, 45 in the Negev, were built without official permission and therefore are not recognized or eligible for municipal services. More than 70,000 Bedouins live in homes that are not regulated, in buildings constructed illegally and with unresolved land ownership claims.
The Prawer plan would lead to decision on Bedouin claims to land ownership, based on land claims made according to the land survey in Northern Negev in 1971. In a general way, the Israeli plan is concerned with economic development and growth for all in the Negev, particularly focusing on employment, and education, including higher education. Specifically, the idea is to expand existing towns and to build 41 new villages or towns, and to relocate about 40,000 Bedouins with compensation to designated towns from their "unrecognized" villages. In the new towns, the homes would be equipped with modern utilities, and the inhabitants would have title to about a quarter of an acre of land.
A major controversial problem is that of land ownership. According to the Land Law of the Ottoman Empire, which ruled the area for almost five hundred years, lands that were not registered as private were considered state lands. Bedouins did not usually register, largely because of fear of taxation and military duties. Israeli law on the issue is derived from British Mandatory law, which incorporated Ottoman Law to a substantial degree. Bedouin claims to land rights are hard to prove. Nevertheless, the Prawer plan does not disregard Bedouin property rights, nor does it fail to recognize appropriate land ownership or refer to Bedouins in derogatory terms. The plan for reform does not have as its objective discrimination and separation.
Critics of Israeli intentions hold that the tribal structures and agricultural way of life should be maintained in the Bedouin villages, and that the "unrecognized" villages, which cover less than five percent of the area of the Negev, should remain. It is true that Bedouins have their own culture, honor code, and code of laws. But though the status quo may be sentimentally nostalgic, to fight for its existence amounts to a reactionary argument.
Not only is the claim of beneficial association of those "unrecognized" villages to historic ties overstated, but to honor it would also mean leaving Bedouins in a less developed, really backward condition, lacking basic services of water, electricity, telephones, roads, schools, and health clinics. Do the signers of the letter know that some of the villages, which they implicitly sentimentally admire, presently consist of a few shacks made from corrugated iron?
It is hard to believe that Julie Christie and the other 49 people, actors, writers, artists, musicians, who signed The Guardian letter really want the Bedouins to remain in this condition. If they really do not approve the modernization and economic development of the Bedouins and would like to see them remain in squalor, they should say so.
Michael Curtis is author of Jews, Antisemitism, and the Middle East.
First published in the American Thinker.
Posted on 12/08/2013 8:00 AM by Michael Curtis
Sunday, 8 December 2013
Measuring A Doctor's Performance
Some of the residents of Hyde, the town in Cheshire, England, where the late Dr. Harold Shipman practiced family medicine, used to say, “He’s a good doctor, but you don’t live long.” Indeed not: it is now believed that Dr. Shipman, over a period lasting a quarter of a century, murdered 200 or more of his elderly patients with injections of morphine or heroin.
If the preservation of life be not the definition of a good doctor, what is? Here is the definition published in a recent edition of the New England Journal of Medicine:
The habitual and judicious use of communication, knowledge, technical skills, clinical reasoning, emotions, values, and reflection in daily practice for the benefit of the individual and the community being served.
Whatever one thinks of this definition, it is clear that it would not make the goodness of doctors altogether easy to measure.
It does not follow from the unmeasurability of something, however, that it does not exist or is unimportant: nor, unfortunately, that what is measurable truly exists or is at all important. Nothing is easier to measure in an activity as complex as medical practice as the trivial, and nothing is easier to miss than the important.
The above definition of a good doctor appeared in an article on the need for Obamacare to ensure that doctors provide value for money so that they can be paid by result. This is a potential problem whenever there is a financial intermediary between the doctor and the patient. Thenceforth it is not the patient who decides what he wants from a doctor but an insurance company or, increasingly under Obamacare, the government.
But as the article points out, measuring a doctor’s performance is very difficult. Most doctors perform a large number of tasks, only a tiny proportion of which can be measured at the same time. Moreover, what is measured may not, and often does not, measure his performance as a whole. For example, radiologists have been graded according to the exposure time of patients during fluoroscopy, the taking of moving pictures under x-ray exposure. This is not unimportant, of course, because x-rays cause burns and exposure to x-rays increases the risks of developing cancer later; but fluoroscopy is only a small part of a radiologist’s work. As the article points out, a radiologist’s “primary role is to provide accurate and complete interpretations of imaging studies.” Time of exposure of patients to x-rays under fluoroscopy – which may vary with the patient as well as the radiologist – is not an adequate measure of the radiologist’s overall competence.
Like must always be compared with like for any valid comparison to be drawn, and this is difficult, time-consuming and expensive to do. Even if it were not the case that measuring a doctor’s performance is like trying to catch a cloud with a butterfly net, the gathering of information is not without cost, both financial and psychological (a point the authors do not make). It is not difficult to take up half or more of a doctor’s time by gathering from him the information necessary to prove that they are efficient in whatever the time is left to them. It reminds of what Karl Popper once accused Wittgenstein of doing: perpetually polishing spectacles but never actually looking through them.
He who pays the piper calls the tune (there is a very good reason why this should be a cliché). Moreover, there is a tendency for measurement in all modern systems to escape its ostensible purpose, to become an end in itself as well as an employment opportunity for bureaucratic mediocrities. The process seems as inevitable as ageing.
First published in PJMedia.
Posted on 12/08/2013 5:53 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
Sunday, 8 December 2013
Guy Bechor On Al Qaeda, American Credulity, And Israeli Security
The al-Qaeda takeover
Op-ed: Security arrangements suggested by Americans are irrelevant to Salafi Spring era
The "security arrangements" the Americans are talking about may have been relevant for the 1980s. the Salafi Spring changed everything. The Salafi gangs, al-Qaeda terrorists, have turned into one of the main threats. Using shoulder-fired missiles, they can bring Ben-Gurion Airport to a standstill, and in fact – the entire State of Israel. No force of "peace" or "security" will stop these terrorists, who are undaunted by regular deterrence; especially not the "security" systems of the Palestinian Authority, which no one in Israel trusts.
Would the Americans be willing to hand a large part of their capital Washington, DC to al-Qaeda terrorists and place the White House under the threat of missiles? Then why are they suggesting that Israel do that? would any country in the world be prepared to do that, what with the Salafi storm raging all over?
The Arab Spring turned out to be a Salafi Spring. The Fatah movement has already turned into a museum exhibit in Judea and Samaria, a remnant belonging to the past, and so has Hamas to a great extent. They are both hated by the local public.
A new force is growing in the territories: The Salafi movement, part of which is called the Party of Liberation ("Hizb ut-Tahrir") and whose center of activity is in Hebron. Two huge demonstrations of force held by the movement in central cities in Judea and Samaria were attended by tens of thousands, carrying the black al-Qaeda flags. They hate "the Authority" more than they hate Israel, and they hate Hamas too. They reject a Palestinian state and refuse to recognize any borders or negotiations. Their proclaimed aspiration is to establish Islamic caliphates all across the Middle East, and their point of solidarity is the Salafis in Syria, Lebanon and the rest of the Arab countries.
This week the al-Qaeda movement announced the establishment of its first branch in the Judea and Samaria territories, and the IDF has already killed three activists of this Salafi organization. The Salafis accused the Palestinian Authority of passing on the intelligence on their location to the IDF. Al-Qaeda admitted that the terrorists killed belonged to the movement and vowed to carry out additional acts of terror.
Let's just imagine a reality in Judea and Samaria without the permanent presence of the IDF and the defense establishment. Why, within several days the territory will turn into Salafland. Will Secretary of State John Kerry rush to defend Israel with the "security arrangements" his experts suggest? Not to mention the fact that the Palestinian leadership has announced that it plans to import to the independent territory hundreds of thousands and maybe even millions of "Palestinians" from Syria and Lebanon – in other words, trained Salafis with their weapons. What will the reality of life in Israel look like then, if there even is a life?
And what will be the fate of the last Christians still left in the Palestinian Authority territories? Expulsion and brutal oppression, just like what is happening to the few Christians still left in the Gaza Strip. And Christianity's holy places? It's enough to see what happened this week to a monastery in Christian Maaloula, north of Damascus. The Salafis cleansed it, and the poor nuns hiding inside. Perhaps Kerry's experts could bring a "security" plan for Syria. That would be a refreshing change.
The Salafi movement is taking over more and more areas in the Middle East: In Lebanon, in Egypt, in Iraq and in North Africa. Can Secretary Kerry visit all these places? The only place he can afford landing safely in is Israel, thanks to the Israeli security. If the Salafi expansion continues, he won't even be able to visit the Palestinian Authority territories, and even Israel may become dangerous for him.
So please bring security which is relevant to the present time; not to history or archeology.
Posted on 12/08/2013 5:28 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 8 December 2013
One Trillion American Dollars Later, It All Pays Off
Iraqi Shi'a, now in control in Baghdad thanks to the American military, have made clear they are not going to help in the sanctions against Iraq, and do not interfere with Iranian interference in Syria. They are friends to Iran, though they would like American military aid to "fight Al Qaeda" or, rather, to fight the Sunnis.
And in that other major theatre of American operations and squandering (of men, materiel, morale), Afghanistan, the inimitable Karzai, in Teheran today, signed a pact with his neighbor and new best friend. You can read about it on the Internet, or you can wait until tomorrow's newspaper. Why disturb your Sunday night?
Posted on 12/08/2013 5:02 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 8 December 2013
More French fly in to take on defiant Muslim fighters
This is the Sunday Times, behind the paywall, of course. However this article does recognise that the danger for the Central African Republic does lay with the Muslim Séléka, notwithstanding some Christian defensive retaliation (some of which, if the allegations are true, was indeed brutal) as a result.
French jets and helicopters mounted a show of force over the capital of the Central African Republic yesterday as Muslim fighters defied orders to disband following the massacre of 400 people at the end of last week. Another 200 French troops arrived to join 1,400 in position since Friday after the UN authorised France to intervene to halt a bloodbath in its former colony. Bodies still littered the streets of Bangui as French air and land patrols sought to deter armed Muslim groups known as the Séléka from further attacks on Christian neighbourhoods. Christians, who make up the majority of the population, welcomed the French troops as saviours.
“When people see us, they are coming out of their houses and applauding, especially in the Catholic districts,” said a French officer. “But we can’t stay long and as soon as we leave, the Séléka come in. That’s why we are telling people to stay inside to avoid attack.” Several churches around Bangui were packed with people fleeing the massacres that erupted last Wednesday with a rampage by the Muslim rebels who installed Michel Djotodia as President in March.
Posted on 12/08/2013 5:01 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 8 December 2013
In Syria, Greek Orthodox Cleric Calls Christians To Arms
Against whom? Against "the rebels." That is, against the Sunni Arab Muslims, and among that population those who take Islam most to heart, who are opposed, in turn, by the Alawites. who might best be described as honorary Muslims, and the Shi'a (to whose sect the Alawites would wish to be assigned), Druze, non-Arab Kurds, and Christians.
Posted on 12/08/2013 11:16 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 8 December 2013
A Thought Experiment: Role Playing as Israeli PM
Fred Leder, from Fairfield, Connecticut issued a challenge for me to respond to a thought experiment. He asked that I play the role of Israel’s Prime Minister confronted with a deepening divide with the Obama Administration over the latter’s engagement with nuclear Iran and simultaneously endeavoring to facilitate a final status agreement resolving the dilemma of the Israeli Palestinian conflict. This thought experiment challenge came on the cusp of the 10th Annual Saban Forum at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC with the topic: “Discussing U.S.-Israel Relations in a Dynamic Middle East”.
Major appearances by key figures in this Forum included Israel’s Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, US Secretary of State Kerry, President Obama and Israeli PM Netanyahu.
Watch their respective Saban Forum presentations and Question and Answer sessions here:
Webcast Sessions of the 2013 Saban Forum
Leder laid out the following challenge:
I challenge you to a thought experiment, ala Einstein:
If you were the PM of Israel and the following hypothesis were accepted as fact:
1. Barack Obama has essentially made it impossible for Israel to attack Iran, thereby insuring that Iran will have nuclear weapons.
2. Barack Obama has no regard for the safety and security of Israel. Further, he appears to be committed to some kind of parity between Islam and the West.
3. Barack Obama has spoken in favor of a border between Israel and another Arab country to be called Palestine based on the 1949 Armistice Line, with minor adjustments to be negotiated. All Jews outside of that border, 500,000 people, would have to be moved to 1949 Israel with US Security guarantees.
Given these hypotheticals and given that you are charged with the safety and security of the majority of the world’s Jews, what do you do?
My role as the hypothetical Israeli PM in this exercise is based, in part, on the following opinion poll findings of fellow Israeli citizens as recently reported by the Washington Post.
The key findings are:
A monthly poll carried out by the Israel Democracy Institute in Tel Aviv, one of the most respected surveys in the country, found that 77 percent of Israelis do not believe that the agreement between Iran and the world powers [P5+1] will lead in the end of what Israel suspects is an Iranian nuclear weapons program.
The survey also assessed Israeli opinion on Israel’s relationship with the United States and other potential allies. In response to a question on who is Israel’s greatest ally, 71 percent of Israelis said they believed the United States to be Israel’s most loyal and important ally.
Earlier this year a Gallup poll of Americans indicated support for Israel was at an all time high, while support for the Palestinians was flat in the low teens:
Americans' sympathies lean heavily toward the Israelis over the Palestinians, 64% vs. 12%. Americans' partiality for Israel has consistently exceeded 60% since 2010; however, today's 64% ties the highest Gallup has recorded in a quarter century, last seen in 1991 during the Gulf War. At that time, slightly fewer than today, 7% sympathized more with the Palestinians.
Noting results by political affiliation, Gallup reported:
Consistent with prior years, Republicans are substantially more likely than Democrats to favor the Israelis, 78% vs. 55%, with the preferences of independents -- currently 63% …
Support for Israel has increased among all three party groups since 2001, but particularly among Republicans and independents. The percentage sympathizing more with the Israelis has increased by 18 percentage points among Republicans (from 60% to 78%) and by 21 points among independents (from 42% to 63%). By comparison, Democrats' support has increased four points (from 51% to 55%).
Republicans' sympathy with Israel spiked to 77% in February 2003, likely associated with the run-up to the Iraq war, when Israel supported U.S. aspirations to remove Saddam Hussein from power.
Against this background here is what I would suggest as a hypothetical role playing Israeli PM.
Dealing with the Iranian Nuclear Threat.
As Prime Minister, I know that notwithstanding the Obama Administration’s agenda of engagement with a nuclear Iran seeking a final agreement, the reality is that it is not achievable. I would adopt a multiple pronged approach to assure that Israel’s sovereign right to protect its people is preserved.
- First, I would continue to directly lobby key members of Congress seeking passage of additional sanctions to both preserve and increase economic pressure on the Islamic regime under pending Amendment to the US Defense Appropriation legislation.
- Second, I would direct my military and strategic intelligence services to undertake a comprehensive covert program to disable the Iranian nuclear program and its means of weapons delivery directly or indirectly through terrorist proxies; Hezbollah, Palestine Islamic Jihad and Hamas.
- Third, I would suspend all military and strategic intelligence cooperation with the US.
- Fourth, I would instruct the Ministry of Defense to change the codes of their radars and IAF planes, so that the US can't track flight operations and thus allow Israel to attack Iran through Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan.
- Fifth, I would launch an international public diplomacy initiative directed at the IAEA to obtain Iran’s signature on the 1994 Nuclear Safety Agreement, which Israel has already signed. This should be coupled with demands to inspect Iranian facilities for adherence to earthquake construction, operations and maintenance standards.
- Sixth, I would ramp up funding and support of Iranian civil polity opposition via enhanced Farsi language programming, secure I satellite access and internal communications to foster regime change.
- Seventh, I would expand rapprochement with Putin and Russia to bring economic pressure on the EU via coordinated natural gas policies to force the EU to relent on use of tied trade restrictions tied to anti-settlement policies.
On the Palestinian intransigence regarding a possible final status agreement
As Prime Minister I would adopt a pro-active approach recognizing that the current PA leadership is plagued with corruption that seeks to delegitimize Israel through an active international boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign. The multi-pronged approach would have the following elements.
- First, a pro-active public diplomacy campaign documenting the evidence of undemocratic practices and diversion of foreign funding contributions by the President of the Palestinian Authority and PLO-Fatah leadership. Moreover, the PA as currently constituted does not meet the definition of statehood under the 1933 Montevideo Convention.
- Second, conduct of active Lawfare to bring suit in international and American jurisdictions for recovery of assets contributed by state sponsors of terrorism in commission of crimes of violence against Israeli and Jewish citizens.
- Third, promotion of Jordan with the requisite natural resources to foster repatriation and absorption of several generations of residents in UNWRA refugee camps in Jordan, the PA, Gaza, Lebanon and Syria.
- Fourth, abandon the UNWRA donor support program and replacement it with a regional Marshal Plan for development of Jordan backed by the Saudis and the Gulf Emirates.
- Fifth, hold free and fair elections for a Parliament in Jordan with a secular non-Sharia based Constitution.
- Sixth, expand the existing Israeli-Jordanian Free Trade Agreement with the US coupled with creation of private sector investment programs emphasizing light industrial manufacturing, energy development, commercial agricultural production, and water resource development.
- Seventh, maintain and expand internal security arrangements for Judea and Samaria.
- Eighth, amend existing treaties with Jordan covering control of the frontier between the two states.
- Ninth, transfer of control over Gaza to Egypt under possible amendments of the 1979 Camp David Accords.
These are entirely my own views and not those of the State of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Kingdom of Jordan, Republic of Egypt or the US Government. Comments and reactions are cordially invited.
Posted on 12/08/2013 7:23 PM by Jerry Gordon and Fred Leder
Sunday, 8 December 2013
Dr. Maya Angelou, On Behalf Of The American People, Pays Tribute
Posted on 12/08/2013 5:33 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 8 December 2013
A Small Israeli Musical Interlude
Posted on 12/08/2013 11:02 PM by John M. Joyce