Man remanded in custody over alleged assault of seven teenage girls at Sydney swimming pool
From ABC News Australia, courtesy of Christina. Something similar happened in Sweden some time ago. It's common in the UK. What common ideology links the men?
An asylum seeker accused of indecently assaulting seven teenage girls at a Sydney pool yesterday has been remanded in custody.Mohammed Nazari has been charged with five counts of indecently assaulting a person under 16 and two counts of assaulting with an act of indecency.
Police arrested him at the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre after seven girls, aged between 14 and 18, reported the 33-year-old for indecently assaulting them as they swam in the rapids section of the pool. Nazari is in Australia on a bridging visa, having arrived in the country from Afghanistan six months ago.
'Gender apartheid' is real in UK universities. So why aren't more people fighting it?
As 8,000 people sign a petition against gender segregation in British universities, a rally last night attracted only 100 protesters. Who is fighting the good fight, asks Emma Pearce.
last night, stood in front of the London headquarters of Universities UK, which claims to be ‘the voice for UK universities’, it appeared that the fight for equality is far from over.
Standing in Tavistock Square on a freezing December night, over 100 campaigners and students gathered to protest against the "shame of gender apartheid" at universities.
Last month, new guidelines from Universities UK suggested institutions could allow gender segregation during lectures given by external speakers, based on the teachings of their religion, as "there does not appear to be any discrimination on gender grounds merely by imposing segregated seating".
The rally last night was purposefully (I am sure they were purposeful, and steadfast and determined, but in context I think the young lady means purposely) held on International Human Rights Day and on the day of Nelson Mandela's memorial, to expose the fact that gender segregation is widespread.
A report in the spring revealed gender segregation, at events run solely by student Islamic societies or in the interests of Muslims, is widespread.
Student Rights, which carried out the research, found that radical preachers spoke at 180 events at universities including Cardiff and University College London (UCL) between March 2012 and March 2013. Segregated seating for men and women was promoted or implied at more than a quarter of the events, at 21 separate institutions.
“Words cannot fully describe what I feel today,” said Pragna Patel, director of Southall Black Sisters, a feminist group. “Rage, indignation and sorrow are just some that spring to mind.” And she went on to say “that the assertion of religious political power obliterates the very ideas of liberty and equality that so many people lived for and died for”.
‘Separate but equal’ is not equal at all was the message being spread by protesters. And of course it isn’t. By pursuing the appeasement of these religious fundamentalists anyone is right to question where this might end?
You would also be right to question why splitting people on race or sexuality would cause public outrage but splitting people on gender has received relatively little attention? We have been asking where the feminists are on even more serious issues like FGM, forced marriage, child rape etc for a very long time.
Geetanjali Normande, 20, from Oxford University, said: "It scares me that institutions like UUK which exist to represent universities and the student body find that it is acceptable to condone this. It sounds like they are so far removed from what it is to be a student and to be told that you can’t sit where you want to in your lecture.
Unlike many articles on the Telegrqph recently comments are still allowed on this one. The second best rated comment below answers Miss Pearce's question.
Jeez Louise, Emma - WAKE UP for Heaven's sake.
For the last 10 years radical Islam has moved into the UK lock, stock and barrel. Why do you think Al Medinah school was able to get off the ground and even the news of its atrocious practices received nothing like the national scandal that it should have done?
Why do you think that Islamic hate preachers are immune from prosecution and are the only people allowed to preach hatred and murder on our streets?
Why do you think Lee Rigby's murder is indeed a news item but not treated any different to any other stabbing that hits the news?
Because the Liberal elites (a liberal is someone of any country who detests and is ashamed of their country, its history, values, religion, ideals - every facet of that country and wants every one of them replaced by those of other peoples and cultures) want to get rid of Britain and all things British and replace them with other cultures, preferrably as different from the original as possible.
That is why Muslim communities in Britain are allowed to tear up 70 years of gender equalities movements, rights and equality without a whiff of complaint from anyone - least of all bogus and hypocritical human rights groups.
So be prepared to be blasted out of bed at 5.00 in the morning within a few years by the first Minorets calling people to prayer all over Britain because some councils are drawing up the plans NOW.
People who deny Britain is in the throes of Islamification are blind deniers or else liberal propagandists.
Defining Moment: Hillel International Confronts Swarthmore College Chapter on Zionism
Source: Inside Hgher Ed, The Chronicle of Higher EducationEric Fingerhut, Pres. & CEO Hilel International
For more than a decade we have been witness to Hillel Chapters on college and university campuses drifting to a policy of tolerating leftist Jewish ‘progressive’ and Muslim groups advocating delegitimization of Israel. We have seen it in Hillel chapters abetting efforts of groups like Jewish Voice for Peace, Students for Justice for Palestine, Muslim Student Association chapters putting on annual Israel Apartheid Awareness Weeks on college campuses across the US. In too many instances they were supported by local Jewish Federations in programming activities, as well as Jewish and Israel studies programs and faculty. This ‘tolerance of the intolerant’ by Hillel campus chapters may have been supported in the past by Hillel International: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life (HI). However, with the arrival in April 2013 of HI’s new President and CEO, Eric Fingerhut, this legacy of former HI President Wayne Firestone has ended.
The confrontation between the Hillel Chapter at elite Swarthmore College near Philadelphia and Fingerhut over the chapter’s so-called Open Hillel policy of presenting speakers delegitimizing Israel marks a new and potentially important development for this Jewish campus organization. The controversy has come to a head when recently the Harvard College Hillel Chapter barred a presentation by former Knesset Speaker, Avraham Burg, co-sponsored by an anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions group. Burg is a controversial leftist proponent of delegitimizing Israel internationally, who lives in self imposed exile in France. The incident at Swarthmore also comes at a time when two academic associations in the US, Asian American Studies and Council of the American Studies Association endorsed resolutions calling for boycott of Israel universities akin to similar efforts in the UK and EU higher educational professional groups. These developments are the focus of two articles, “Going Rogue” in the Inside Higher Ed blog of The Chronicle of High Education and another in The Jewish Press by US Correspondent, Lori Lowenthal Marcus, “Hillel CEO: You can’t use our name if reject Zionism”.
Swarthmore is not unlike other campuses in that the student groups have virtual autonomy from national affiliations, supported by local endowments and student activity fees.
We have written about these episodes at colleges and universities across the US. Professor Tammi-Rossman Benjamin at UC Santa Cruz went on a national speaking tour in 2012 to raise attention to the problem. We continually addressed the problems of the Olive Tree Initiative at UC Irvine and other major California campuses. We witnessed the indictment and conviction of 11 members of the combined UC Irvine/Riverside Muslim Student Association chapters on charges of conspiring to deny the free speech of former Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren in February 2010.
Watch this brief video of UC Santa Cruz lecturer Rossman –Benjamin’s presentation at Congregation Ahavath Torah in Stoughton, Massachusetts in 2012.
The current kerfuffle between HI’s Fingerhut and the Hillel Swarthmore chapter arose when the later published a series of rebuttals last weekend concerning the latter’s Open Hillel resolution in defiance of new standards adopted by HI. The Inside Higher Ed blog noted:
The student board at Swarthmore College’s Hillel chapter has unanimously passed a resolution saying it will not abide by the international Jewish student organization’s ban on hosting anti-Israel speakers.
The president of Hillel International has responded with a rebuke, describing the chapter’s position as “not acceptable” and saying that no organization that uses Hillel’s name can choose to violate its guidelines. Those guidelines stipulate that Hillel chapters will not partner with or host organizations or speakers that deny Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, or that seek to "delegitimize, demonize, or apply a double standard to Israel," or that support the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel
The premise of the Swarthmore Hillel chapter resolution was:
That Hillel International's rules have prevented campus chapters from cooperating with groups such as Breaking the Silence and Jewish Voice for Peace, and asserts that Hillel, “while purporting to support all Jewish Campus Life, presents a monolithic face pertaining to Zionism that does not accurately reflect the diverse opinions of young American Jews.”
Swarthmore sophomore Hillel student leader Wolfsun offered an olive branch via email to Fingerhut saying:
Although we stand by our resolution and our editorial, we look forward to a productive and fruitful dialogue with both you and with Hillel of Greater Philadelphia.
Fingerhut in his letter to the Swarthmore chapter noted Rabbi Hillel’s famed dictum “If I am not for myself then who a am I?” saying:
We here at Hillel international hold firm to his legacy. We encourage debate and dissent, but we draw the line at hosting groups who would deny the right of the State of Israel to exist. We will stand with Israel, the democratic, open, pluralistic home of the Jewish people. On that fundamental principle, we are unwavering.
Given our exposure to problems on US campuses over a decade, we applaud what Fingerhut at HI is doing. We presume that he has the backing of the principal funder of Hillel International programs, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Let us hope Fingerhut's arrival as President of Hillel International isn't too late to reign in anti-Zionist efforts like the Swarthmore Open Hillel initiative on many US college campuses.
A tip of the chapeaus to Judy Block and Lori Lowenthal Marcus.
La mandelamania est-elle justifiée ? L’unanimisme planétaire autour de l’exemplarité de Nelson Mandela est impressionnant. Seule la mort du chanteur Mickael Jackson avait suscité un tel engouement médiatique. Je le trouve pour ma part excessif, même si je suis admiratif de la cohérence de l'ancien chef d'Etat sud-africain dans son message de réconciliation nationale. La main tendue à l’adversaire et l’appel au pardon de l’ennemi, lancés par un homme ayant passé 27 ans en prison, gardent une résonance morale et religieuse qui force le respect. J‘observe néanmoins que ceux qui, en France, revendiquent le plus véhémentement son héritage sont les premiers à n’en tenir aucun compte. Jean-Luc Mélenchon rappelle : "Nelson Mandela était communiste. Le voilà, aseptisé, qui entre au paradis des braves types, encensé et acclamé par des gens qui ne mériteraient même pas l’honneur d’avoir le droit d’en parler". Le député (PS) François Eckert dénonce sur le même ton acide les "hommages hypocrites" de ceux qui s’opposent à l’Aide médicale d’Etat (AME)…J’ai cru un instant, ce week-end, que François Hollande allait appliquer la leçon de Mandela, en conviant Nicolas Sarkozy à l’accompagner demain à Johannesburgh. En fait, le président français s’est surtout aligné sur le geste de Barack Obama à ses prédécesseurs. Et les deux hommes ne prendront pas le même avion…
Ma réserve sur la mandelamania porte sur son support : cette "nation arc-en-ciel" que serait devenue, grâce à lui, l’Afrique du Sud. Or l’image reste malheureusement un mythe. Mandela a su, certes, briser l’insupportable apartheid. Mais il n’a pu construire une société pacifiée et prospère. Les mariages mixtes y sont très faibles, et le taux de chômage des jeunes Noirs est de 50% et plus. Comme l’expliquait hier Ela Gandhi, petite fille du Mahatma, dans le JDD : "Il va falloir sans doute arrêter de célébrer Mandela et la nation arc-en-ciel, de la vanter, d’en parler sans cesse. Pour la construire vraiment, pour obtenir des résultats. Oui, on le peut". Ce lundi, dans Le Figaro,Kofi Yamgnane, ancien secrétaire d’Etat de François Mitterrand et candidat à la présidence du Togo, dit sa crainte de voir l‘actuel président d’Afrique du Sud, Jacob Zuma, dériver "sur la pente de la corruption. De nombreux membres de l’ANC (NDLR : le parti de Mandela) sont encore animés par un désir de vengeance. Dans un continent où l’outil principal de la politique est la violence, la situation peut vite dégénérer". Et vous, que pensez-vous du bilan de Mandela ?
Will educated and progressive Americans ever start to recognize that the Islamic concept of a global caliphate is fueling thousands of Islamist terrorists, all of whom have explosives and some of whom have nuclear weapons? This stark reminder that many people fail to understand that evil and injustice truly exist comes from Phyllis Chesler, the well known personality, emerita professor psychology, psychotherapist, and feminist leader in her new book, An American Bride in Kabul.
Why does the Islamic world refuse to accept and observe international declarations on equality of women, human rights, and fundamental freedoms? On December 8, 1948 the UN General Assembly (UNGA) spoke of the inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family. It proclaimed a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.
In the Islamic world no such achievement has been attained. The inferior state of women in Islamic countries is well known. The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women adopted by the UNGA on December 18, 1979 called on nations to incorporate the principle of equality of men and women in their legal systems, and to end discrimination against women in political and public life, as well to ensure equality in education, health, and employment.
In spite of this declaration, gender inequalities remain entrenched in many societies. Women are often denied access to basic education and health care, suffer violence and discrimination, face occupational segregation, lack empowerment, and experience considerable gender gaps. States have not revoked their laws, or altered their customs, that discriminate on the basis of sex and gender bias.
In Islamic countries culture and tradition as well as sharia law are responsible for limiting the fundamental rights of women. The resulting stereotypes and norms explain the legal, political, and economic constraints preventing advancement of those rights. Change of social and cultural patterns are essential to eliminate the prejudices and the practices based on the idea of the inferiority of women.
There are many reasons for this unwillingness to draw attention to the refusal of Islamic countries to provide rights of women. One is the use of the concept of cultural relativism, the view, with some few exceptions, that all cultural beliefs are equally valid or at least that no one is superior to others in regard to individual or collective behavior. But in the globalized world today the argument advanced by spokesmen at the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) that "What might seem to be discriminatory in the eyes of some might not be discriminatory in the eyes of others" is unacceptable. Should anyone now approve of incest, cannibalism, female genital mutilation, or honor killings of women?
In her new book, Phyllis Chesler argues that honor-related violence against women and gender apartheid are human rights violations and cannot be justified in the name of cultural relativism or religious custom, or political correctness. This is wisdom learned from her romantic adventure more than 50 years ago. In her extraordinary, beautifully written story she recounts the short period of her life when at age 20 she, a nice Jewish girl from Brooklyn, NY, married an Afghan fellow student, a Muslim, and went with him to his home and wealthy family in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Chesler opens the book dramatically with a startling sentence, "I once lived in a harem in Afghanistan." But this is a tease since she explains that the harem simply meant women's private quarters, not a brothel as pictured in Hollywood films. She admired the country, or perhaps the image, of Afghanistan. She had, and perhaps still has, a fondness for exoticism, of perfumed gardens, and high ceremonial communal meals.
This naïve, romantic Jewish adventurer immediately encountered reality. Her American passport was taken from her and was never returned. She, the wife of an Afghan, had no rights as an American, and was to be trapped as property in a household in which her father-in-law had three wives. She had no privacy, she was starved, and was a virtual prisoner who was only able to escape by luck when she was ill which led her father-in-law to get her an exit visa to the U.S. The seemingly Westernized husband had been transformed into a uncaring if internally tortured individual. Her acute realization was that her "unexpected house arrest was not as shocking as my husband's refusal to acknowledge it as such." She now portrays him as a man torn between religious and family traditions and his appreciation of Western values.
Chesler's new understanding of callousness, violence, and sexual inequality propelled her not only into feminist activism when she returned to the U.S., but also to political understanding. She recognized the falsity of the Islamic charges against the West. Gender and religious apartheid in Afghanistan were indigenous to the region; they were not the result of Western imperialism, colonialism, capitalism, racism, or military occupation. She observes that the Islamists such as the Afghan Taliban want to turn the clock back to the seventh century.
The book is an absorbing account of an extraordinary love story which in a sense has never ended. She provides a vivid account of the exotic culture to which she was exposed, and indeed appreciates some of it. But the memoir is valuable as a firsthand account of the reality of the life of a woman, and the discrimination she and Muslim women face, in an Islamic society. Indeed, it is an indirect warning to those women prepared to marry Muslim men.
This is not a political or history book though she does discuss the impoverishment of Jews, and Hindus, in the 1930s, and the cordial relationship between Nazi Germany and Afghanistan, which sheltered Nazis after World War II. The book is important in two respects. Chesler reprimands the politically-correct cultural relativists who are not only unwilling to criticize but actually defend traditional practices such as honor killings and also the wearing of niqab (face masks) and burqas (veil), which she calls "a sensory deprivation chamber." These masks and veils are now seen in the U.S.; Afghanistan has thus landed in the West while the West is still deployed in hostilities in Afghanistan.
Perhaps most important is Chesler's account of the impact of 9/11 which did more than bring back memories of her days in Afghanistan. She now speaks to the world about the difference between freedom and tyranny, about the presence of "bad" Muslims, the disgraceful demonization of Israel, and the danger of radical militant Islam. One can only hope that the politically correct and the cultural relativists in the West will take heed.
Michael Curtis is author of Jews, Antisemitism, and the Middle East.
Only 2% of Stamp Collectors are Women. There used to be an advertisement that claimed that a certain brand of beer could reach parts of the world that other beers could not reach. I also once read of a certain traveller's ambition, which was to reach somewhere where no Nescafé had ever been drunk.
There is something more ubiquitous in the modern world, however, than beer and instant coffee: it is grievance. No degree of privilege or good luck can quell it entirely. It springs now much more eternal in the human heart than mere hope.
I happened quite by chance to pick up The Philosophers' Magazine the other day, and opened it to a short article entitled Philosophy's problem with sexism. It was no different from an article that might have been entitled Philately's problem with sexism (only 2 per cent, perhaps, of stamp collectors are women) or Herpetology's problem with sexism.
I supposed one might have expected, or at least hoped for, better from philosophers. Among other statistics cited in the article was that 'less [i.e. fewer] than 20 per cent' of people employed in philosophy departments were women, and that 'just 3.6 per cent of citations in top journals are of the work of female philosophers.'
Sally Haslanger, a professor of philosophy at the MIT, was quoted to the effect that these statistics prove that women are prevented from succeeding by, inter alia, 'stereotype threat' and 'micro-aggression.'
However, there is hope on the horizon, at least according to Jennifer Saul, professor of philosophy at Sheffield. Apparently the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy will henceforth ensure 'the citation of women and other underrepresented groups.'
There's progress for you! Henceforth philosophers will consider not what is said but the demographic characteristics of who says it. A banality will cease being such so long as it emerges from the mouth or pen of a member of a favoured [i.e. previously disfavoured] group. A profundity will cease being such if it emerges from the mouth or pen of a member of a disfavoured [i.e. previously favoured] group. We may expect a philosophical golden age to emerge.
Hitherto, philosophers have only interpreted the world; the point, however, is to change it. Haven't I heard that somewhere before? Weren't policies once followed in quite a large part of the world based upon this blinding insight? But then, as the man(!) who had the insight said elsewhere, history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce.
Neither Israel's President Shimon Peres nor Prime Minister Benaymin Netanyahu could attend the state funeral for the late South African President and liberation leader, Nelson Mandela. According to the Jerusalem Post they cited finance and security reasons instead sending a delegation headed by Speaker Yuli Edelstein and Knesset members as noted:
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein flew Monday night to the memorial service, along with the first female Ethiopian MK Pnina Tamnu-Shata (Yesh Atid), as well as MKs Dov Lipman (Yesh Atid), Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz), Gila Gamliel (Likud Beytenu) and Hilik Bar (Labor).
If you wonder why Israel's Peres and PM Netnayahu didn't join 90 world leaders in attending the late Nelson Mandela's state funeral, look no further than this column in the Jerusalem Post by Michael Freund, "Misrepresenting Mandela". It also struck me as indicative of the current ANC leadership that they would marginalize the late Helen Suzman, the lone member of the Progressive Party in the Pretoria Government of Botha, as the fiery oppoinent of Apartheid, suggesting that she had not done anything during her 13 years solitary role as opponent of Apartheid, See this April 2013 Mail & Guardian article, "ANC: Helen Suzman didn't act against apartheid".
Freund's Jerusalem Post, op ed, "Misrepresenting Mandela" chronicles his support for Israel's enemies, the late Muammar Gaddafi and Yassir Arafat, as well as, convicted Puerto Rican terrorists here in the US. Let us also not forget that he was an avowed Communist penning a pamhplet to that effect. Go no further than his ANC comrade Joe Slovo, whom the New York Times in its 1995 obituary labeled him as an "Anti-Apartheid Stalinist". Note this comment about the pivotal role that Slovo claimed:
But the men forged a friendship that grew into an unshakable political alliance. Over the years Mr. Slovo and other white Communists assumed influential places in the African National Congress. Mr. Slovo often said that his party's greatest role was in steering the A.N.C. away from black nationalism to a doctrine of nonracialism.
"The culture of nonracialism is now deeply embedded," he said in a recent interview, surveying the prospects of racial conflict in the future. "That has a great deal to do with the Communist Party."
Freund's assessment of Mandela's legacy is best captured in his conclusion:
Mandela was flawed human being, full of contradictions and shortcomings, a man who alternately extolled violence and reconciliation.
Read what Freund chronicles as the late Mandela's track record in his Jerusalem Post column.:
Mandela was flawed human being, full of contradictions and shortcomings, a man who alternately extolled violence and reconciliation.
Former South African President Nelson Mandela Photo: REUTERS/Elmond Jiyane/GCIS
Imagine a person who planned acts of sabotage and incited violence, resulting in the deaths of innocent civilians and damage to public property.
A man who embraced brutal dictators throughout the Third World, such as Libya’s Gaddafi and Cuba’s Castro, singing their praises and defending them publicly even as they trampled on the rights and lives of their own people.
A person who hugged Yasser Arafat at the height of the intifada, hailed Puerto Rican terrorists who shot US Congressmen, and penned a book entitled, How to be a good Communist.
Picture all this and, believe it or not, you will be staring at a portrait of Nelson Mandela.
The death of the South African statesman last week has elicited an outpouring of tributes around the world, with various leaders and media outlets vying to outdo one another in their praise of the man.
Highlighting his principled stand against apartheid, and his firm determination to erect a new, post-racial and color-blind South Africa, many observers have hailed Mandela in glowing terms, as though he were a saint free of blemish and clean of sin.
But such accolades not only miss the mark, they distort history in a dangerous and damaging way and betray the legacy of Mandela himself.
Take, for example, the editorial in The Dallas Morning News, which likened Mandela to Moses and labeled him “the conscience of the world.”
And then there was Peter Oborne, the UK Telegraph’s chief political commentator, who wrote a piece entitled, “Few human beings can be compared to Jesus Christ. Nelson Mandela was one.”
Even taking into account Mandela’s astonishing accomplishments and harrowing life story, he is far from being the angel that much of the media is making him out to be.
After all, in 1961, Mandela co-founded Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation), the armed wing of the African National Congress, which undertook a campaign of violence and bloodshed against the South African regime that included bombings, sabotage and the elimination of political opponents.
Indeed, in his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, Mandela justified a car-bomb attack perpetrated by the ANC in May 1983 which killed 19 people and wounded over 200, including many innocent civilians, asserting that, “such accidents were the inevitable consequence of the decision to embark on a military struggle.”
His record of support for the use of violence and terror was such that even the lefties at Amnesty International declined to classify him as a “political prisoner” because “Mandela had participated in planning acts of sabotage and inciting violence.”
No less distasteful was Mandela’s unbounded affection for international rogues, thugs and killers.
Shortly after his release from prison in February 1990, he publicly embraced PLO chairman Yasser Arafat while on a visit to Lusaka, Zambia. The move came barely a month after a series of letter-bombs addressed to Jewish and Christian leaders were discovered at a Tel Aviv post office.
Three months later, on May 18, 1990, Mandela decided to pay a visit to Libya, where he gratefully accepted the International Gaddafi Prize for Human Rights from dictator Col. Muammar Gaddafi, whom he referred to as “our brother.”
While there, Mandela told journalists, “The ANC has, on numerous occasions, maintained that the PLO is our comrade in arms in the struggle for the liberation of our respective countries. We fully support the combat of the PLO for the creation of an independent Palestinian state.”
The following month, on his first visit to New York in June 1990, Mandela heaped praise on four Puerto Rican terrorists who had opened fire in the US House of Representatives in 1954, wounding five congressmen.
“We support the cause,” Mandela said, “of anyone who is fighting for self-determination, and our attitude is the same, no matter who it is. I would be honored to sit on the platform with the four comrades whom you refer to” (New York Times, June 22, 1990).
Even in later years, he maintained a fondness for those who used violence to achieve their aims.
In November 2004, when Arafat died, Mandela mourned his old friend, saying that “Yasser Arafat was one of the outstanding freedom fighters of this generation.”
Now you might be wondering: why is any of this important? It matters for the same reason that the historical record matters: to provide us and future generations with lessons to be learned and pitfalls to be avoided.
By painting Mandela solely in glowing terms and ignoring his violent record, the media and others are falsifying history and concealing the truth.
They are putting on a pedestal a man who excused the use of violence against civilians and befriended those with blood on their hands.
By all means, celebrate the transformation that Mandela brought about in his country, the freedom and liberties that he upheld, and the process of reconciliation that he oversaw. But to gloss over or ignore his failings and flaws is hagiography, not history.
And that is something Mandela himself would not have wanted.
In 1999, after he stepped down as South African president after one term in office, he said, “I wanted to be known as Mandela, a man with weaknesses, some of which are fundamental, and a man who is committed, but nevertheless, sometimes he fails to live up to expectations.”
Sure, we all need heroes, figures who seem to soar above our natural human limitations and inspire us to strive for greatness.
But Mandela was not Superman. He was neither born on Krypton nor did he wear a large letter “S” on his chest along with a red cape.
He was a flawed human being, full of contradictions and shortcomings, a man who alternately extolled violence and reconciliation according to whether it suited his purposes to do so.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
Jed Perl 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. .
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.
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
Anjem Choudary: Muslim vigilantes who terrorised non-believers ‘deserve pat on back’
From the London Evening Standard
Hardline Islamic preacher Anjem Choudary today said two followers jailed for attacking non-Muslims “deserve a pat on the back”.
Convert Jordan Horner, 19, and Ricardo MacFarlane, 26, admitted being part of a “Muslim Patrol”, a group of vigilantes opposing Western culture on the streets of the East End.
They told one couple they could not hold hands because it was “a Muslim area” and said a young woman would face “hellfire” because of the way she dressed. Mr Choudary said the men regularly attended his lectures, adding: “Essentially, they didn’t do anything wrong. They didn’t harm anyone. What they did in essence, it’s commendable. They are trying to address issues like drug abuse and prostitution. . . I did have a word with them afterwards and said there are certain things that can’t be changed physically, but these guys should be patted on the back for some of the other work they have done. I don’t condemn them at all. They are upstanding, upright members of the Muslim community. . . "
And to prove how much he approves Anjem's latest tweet this morning is to publicise this. A Sharia Project rally against alcohol through the east End after lunchtime prayers this coming Friday. Stand against sin. Stand against vice. Stand for Islam
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.
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.