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Recent Publications from New English Review Press
Islam Through the Looking Glass: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J. B. Kelly, Vol. 3
edited by S. B. Kelly
The Real Nature of Religion
by Rebecca Bynum
As Far As The Eye Can See
by Moshe Dann
Threats of Pain and Ruin
by Theodore Dalrymple
The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Impact of Islam
by Emmet Scott
Sir Walter Scott's Crusades and Other Fantasies
by Ibn Warraq
Fighting the Retreat from Arabia and the Gulf: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly. Vol. 1
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Literary Culture of France
by J. E. G. Dixon
Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays
by David P. Gontar
Farewell Fear
by Theodore Dalrymple
The Eagle and The Bible: Lessons in Liberty from Holy Writ
by Kenneth Hanson
The West Speaks
interviews by Jerry Gordon
Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy
Emmet Scott
Anything Goes
by Theodore Dalrymple
The Left is Seldom Right
by Norman Berdichevsky
Allah is Dead: Why Islam is Not a Religion
by Rebecca Bynum

Sunday, 1 February 2015
What Needs To Be Said To "Churches Together" About Its Lenten Readings
The letter below was sent to me with the implied request that I post it here. Of course I am glad to comply.
Dear All
A few weeks ago I came across these Lenten Readings and raised my concern with various pro Israel groups in the UK and Ireland. The brilliant Steven Jaffe wrote up this excellent letter writing campaign. 
Can I please ask that you DO send a quick email, there are some points below to raise. Your email could be the one that persuades Churches Together to change their biased anti Israel Lenten Readings. 
Letter writing campaign: Churches Together Lenten Readings

 Churches Together in Britain and Ireland have produced a series of readings for the run-up to Easter ( ) which draw attention to the plight of Christians in the Middle East - on a country by country basis.
Whilst Christians in Syria and Iraq face crucifixion, beheadings and massacre, abductions and forced conversions, by the likes of Islamic State, some of the harshest words in the readings are directed against Israel (the villain of two of the six readings).
Many Christians have informed us they are embarrassed by these readings - both because of their unrestrained negativity towards Israel and their failure to focus on Islamist extremism as a cause of oppression of Christians in the region. So far as the Jewish community is concerned, the readings certainly do not reflect compassion and love, or even basic fairness.
We are therefore calling people who are concerned about this - both Jewish and Christian - to write a short and polite email to CTBI setting out their concerns. Emails can be addressed to Rev Bob Fyffe, General Secretary of CTBI at [email protected].
Here are some points to consider highlighting:
  • The reading about Israel nowhere refers to it as a democratic state, omits the fact that Israel allows freedom of worship for all, or that it is one of few countries in the region where its Christian community is growing (annual growth rate of 1.2%, Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, 2012).
  • Instead Israel's treatment of Christians is presented in the following terms: inequalities, discrimination, vandalism, desecration and deprivation. Whilst there are issues of discrimination against minorities in Israeli society, it must be highlighted that the Arab Christian community in Israel out performs all faiths in key educational markers, such as high school students who earn their diploma (64%, compared to 59% for Jewish Israelis and 48% for Muslim Israelis), and are very well represented in universities and the medical profession.
  • In contrast, the readings on Syria, Egypt and the Palestinian Territories, do not focus on Islamist radicalism, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas or IS (the Islamic State). Brave Christians from the West Bank are speaking out about persecution at the hands of the PA and Islamic extremists - but their story is ignored by the CBTI readings, and they are therefore left tragically to stand alone.
  • In Egypt the burning of over 80 churches and the murder of scores of Christians by car bombs, sectarian rioting and assassination is passed over in one sentence.
  • Israel is criticised for its security barrier, checkpoints and other restrictions. Nowhere is the justification put that these are unfortunately required to preserve life, Jewish and Arab, from violent attacks - such as the recent synagogue murders in Jerusalem and mass stabbings on a Tel Aviv bus.
  • Israel's law of return, enabling Jews to emigrate to Israel, is viewed in a negative light – with no reference to Jews fleeing persecution. It is suggested that "olim" without family in Israel have no connection to the land.
  • The concern is not just about preparing Christians for Easter by a hostile and insensitive reading about Israel and the Jewish community. Christians should also be concerned about the crass politicisation of their own Bible. The final reading describes Mary, the mother of Jesus, as "a young Palestinian Jewish girl".  The New Testament never describes the land as Palestine or its people as Palestinian. The land was designated Palestine by the Roman rulers a century later

 Shalom agus Slán

Posted on 02/01/2015 3:37 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 1 February 2015
A Musical Interlude: Sunday (Gene Austin)

Listen here.

Posted on 02/01/2015 3:31 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 1 February 2015
Salman Rushdie On How Blair's Bill To Outlaw Criticism Of Religion Was Blocked -- Just

And a little about his own, rather relaxed upbringing (neither parent seemed to care very much about Islam), which was possible in Mumbai,India, as it would not have been in Pakistan,  and about the efforts of Rowan Atkinson to stop Blair's bill -- a bill that would have outlawed criticism of religion, and that failed to pass by one vote. I had not been aware of that bill. One more reason for you to dislike Blair even more than you do.


Posted on 02/01/2015 3:25 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 1 February 2015
Cursing Verses In The Qur'an
Posted on 02/01/2015 3:03 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 1 February 2015
Praising The Tunisian Exception Without Understanding What Explains It

Here is a comment on the apparent ability of Tunisian democracy to work. There are so many like it. Their authors feel no need to explain why Tunisia might be an exception to the Arab-Spring rule, where the overthrow of a regime leads either to chaos (Libya, Syria, Yemen) or, after a brief experience with the Muslim Brotherhood, despotism, albeit enlightened and highly desirable despotism (Egypt).

There is no mention of Habib Bourguiba, of the Destour Party, of Bourguiba's determined suspicion of Islam, of the role played in his formation by the years he spent in France. There is no mention of the French Connection that has so benefitted the more advanced class of Tunisians, those who read the French-language press of both France and Tunisia, listen to French television, are able to travel back and forth from France, have their children study in France.

Whatever has made Tunisia an exception is explained by the influence -- the mission civilisatrice -- of France. Why is that so difficult for commentators to recognize, understand, and note? Is it because it seems condescending? Are we to pretend that those Muslims who study in Europe can, if their ties to Islam are as a consequence diminished, or have the access that a knowledge of French can provide, France still being a country that, unlike the United Kingdom, is still, in what most matters -- I think the famous phrase flatteringly fits -- "sûr de lui-même et dominateur." 

Posted on 02/01/2015 2:28 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 1 February 2015
Cathy Newman 'ushered out of mosque' on national open day

From the Telegraph

Cathy Newman, the Channel 4 News presenter, was ushered out of a London mosque, despite being “respectfully” dressed on Visit My Mosque Day, she has revealed. The journalist expressed surprise that she had been turned away and explained that she was there to mark the nationwide event organized by The Muslim Council of Britain. 

She wrote on Twitter: “Well I just visited Streatham mosque for #VisitMyMosque day and was surprised to find myself ushered out of the door.” “I was respectfully dressed, head covering and no shoes but a man ushered me back onto the street. I said I was there for #VisitMyMosque but it made no difference.” 

She later located the designated taqyiia mosque for the area where she received the 'warm welcome' laid on for the infidel. 

More than 20 mosques were expected to open their doors to the public for Visit My Mosque Day, an initiative designed to reach out to the public after heightened tensions caused by the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris. Streatham Mosque is not listed on the Muslim Council of Britain's list of participating mosques, although it is not thought to be exhaustive. 

Posted on 02/01/2015 12:51 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 1 February 2015
Six Degrees Of Separation, Or The Isnad-Chain (In Russian)

For the small but choice Russian delegation. You know who you are.


The one which links Obama to Tolstoy, in five easy pieces, is here.


Posted on 02/01/2015 12:26 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 1 February 2015
Da'wa in Manchester, the most bizarre one yet.

My daughter had business in Manchester last month, and spotted this da'wa stall setting up in the city centre.


She couldn’t stop but was able to take two photographs. She was totally bemused as to what the proselyters  were on about in this big poster which they presented to the passing crowd.

The injunction about not eating pork is clear enough. A straightforward quotation from Leviticus prohibiting the meat of the pig; the Muslims are ignorant of God’s instruction to Peter (Acts 10: 9-16) that anything wholesome that God has put on the earth is clean for His children to eat.

I can only imagine that the picture of King James I of England (VI of Scotland) is there to give authority to the quotations from the Bible below being from the version he authorised in 1611, which is the version they use.

I think the bit about Moses at the bottom is to make the point about the three Abrahamic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Which Muslims insist has always existed and  is the perfection of the earlier faiths, which have been corrupted from the perfection of always present Islam.

It is the bit in the middle which shows the complete lack of understanding of Christian worship. As we know Muslims dislike representations of the human form, although selfies on Facebook with or without an AK47 or a rude gesture seem to be de rigeur these days. In particular representations of Mohammed, even ones made respectfully, produce threats. Satirical or unflattering representations produce fits of murderous rage as seen in Paris recently.

I have been told by a Muslim that one day Jesus Christ will return and destroy the crosses, to the dismay of the ‘Cross worshipers’.  I could not make him understand that I do not worship the cross. I worship Jesus Christ, who died on the cross, and the presence of a cross in my church and on a chain round my neck is a symbol to remind me of His sacrifice and that He died to redeem me from my sins. Of course such an argument then brings us on to the divinity of Christ, which is not just a hard concept for anyone to understand, but to a Muslim attributing any partner to Allah is the darkest  blasphemy. It follows that any pictorial representation of Christ, which we know is merely an artist’s impression (possibly inspired by the Holy Spirit – and only the artist would know that) designed to educate, or inspire, or help focus prayer, could to a Muslim be interpreted as our worship of that ‘graven image’.

And the middle of the poster, the bit about Pope Alexander VI and his illegitimate son the notorious Cesare Borgia is a convoluted, clutching at straws attempt to undermine and discredit Christian faith. Cesare Borgia was, unlike his great- nephew St Francis Borgia not a saintly young man and so unsaintly he didn’t live to be an old man. But he was considered to be the most handsome man of his generation. And he was so notoriously violent that I don’t think any rivals would have set themselves up in opposition.

There are no contemporary absolutely 100% authentic portraits of him. But there are several portraits traditionally believed to be of him, several of which are however posthumous. The best known is this one, Portrait of a Gentleman, believed to be Cesare Borgia by Altobello Melone.  This is the one used, or copied onthe da'wa poster. On a purely prosaic level for the great artists of the day to use the son of the Pope and ‘the handsomest man of his generation’ as a model isn’t unlikely. Even using an unsaintly man as a model for Christ isn’t out of the question.

But a conspiracy theory has grown up around the idea. I have read the suggestion that Pope Alexander VI had his son’s portrait used as Christ to introduce the concept of a ‘white and blue eyed’ Christ, so that anyone slaughtering swarthy looking Muslims and Jews on crusade would not be reminded that they might look rather like Christ. Leave aside that the crusades were centuries earlier; there were still wars against the Ottoman Empire and the Barbary pirates. I have read the suggestion that the same use of Cesare’s portrait was to introduce the idea of the ‘white Jesus’ and thus deprive black people of their real Jesus, who was black.

This dawa group are quoting from the apocryphal book The Wisdom of Solomon, on the subject of a father’s grief for his son, which sounds rather like the pagans and ancestor veneration. And they suggest that Alexander dealt with his grief at Cesare’s death by making him godlike. A slight catch here is that Cesare outlived his father by 4 years. But why let facts get in the way of a good conspiracy theory?

I don’t know where the representation of Christ that they are using to illustrate the ‘resemblance’ to Cesare Borgia came from. It looks like any generic Sunday school picture, possibly Victorian. The most famous artist of the period was Leonardo da Vinci, and he is indeed one who had a lot to do with Cesare Borgia, although in the field of military engineering plans not religious imagery. Da Vinci painted two famous portraits of Christ. The Last Supper fresco and the Salvatore Mundi. There is a story that when painting the last Supper da Vinci used the same model for both Christ and Judas, but with 20 years between sittings, during which (unknown to da Vinci) the upright young man had fallen into wicked ways which showed on his ravaged face. This has been debunked. The Last Supper only took 3 years to paint, not over 20 years, and being a fresco the execution did not allow for lengthy sittings as if in a studio before an easel.

The Salvatore Mundi shows a man with long hair and a beard. Long hair and beard was the conventional way to show Christ from the 7th century onwards. It was a common style in general use. Compare this self portrait by Albrecht Durer.

But note, that no matter how the bizarre allegations about pictures of Christ may be, we know they are only an aid to prayer, or an illustration to help education, or similar.

We do not riot, we do not kill, we do not rage.

Photographs S Sto Helit January 2015

Posted on 02/01/2015 12:23 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 1 February 2015
Mais Où Sont Les Neiges D'Antan?

Here's one view.

And here's another, in Richard Wilbur's version:

FRANÇOIS VILLON: Ballade of the Ladies of Time Past.


O tell me where, in lands or seas,
Flora, that Roman belle, has strayed,
Thais, or Archipiades,
Who put each other in the shade,
Or Echo who by bank and glade
Gave back the crying of the hound,
And whose sheer beauty could not fade.
But where shall last year's snow be found?

Where too is learned Héloïse,
For whom shorn Abélard was made
A tonsured monk upon his knees?
Such tribute his devotion paid.
And where's that queen who, having played
With Buridan, had him bagged and bound
To swim the Seine thus ill-arrayed?
But where shall last year's snow be found?

Queen Blanche the fair, whose voice could please
As does a siren's serenade,
Great Bertha, Beatrice, Alice—these,
And Arembourg whom Maine obeyed,
And Joan whom Burgundy betrayed
And England burned, and Heaven crowned:
Where are they, Mary, Sovereign Maid?
But where shall last year's snow be found?

Not next week, Prince, nor next decade,
Ask me these questions I propound.
I shall but say again, dismayed,
Ah, where shall last year's snow be found?

Posted on 02/01/2015 11:26 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 1 February 2015
Tunisian Politician Neji Djelloul: Protocols A Forgery, "We Blame The Jews For Everything"

One minute of sense and decency during a television program in Tunisia, a country which, thanks to Bourguiba and more than a half-century of systematic secularizing by him and those who agreed with him, a part of the Tunisian population -- that part which reads the French-languagre press, sends its children to French-language schools (or do the C.N.E.D. at home), follows French television -- has had the chance to take its place on the rational planet of non-Muslims.  But what's amazing about this clip is that it is amazing at all -- that merely stating what all educated people in the West know to be true, that The Protocols was a forgery -- becomes in the context, a statement that requires bravery, from a singular figure, who meets only with opposition or embarrassed silence. And Djelloul then goes on to state a further home truth -- in Tunisia, as everywhere else in the Muslim Arab lands, "everything is blamed on the Jews."

Posted on 02/01/2015 8:28 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 1 February 2015
A Musical Interlude: Parlami D'Amore Mariu (Vittorio Di Sica)

Listen here.

Posted on 02/01/2015 8:23 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 1 February 2015
Mattarella Went First To The Site Of The Ardeatine Massacre


His vist here.

And this is what he said:


Il Presidente Sergio Mattarella ha scelto le Fosse Ardeatine - dove si è recato oggi pomeriggio in visita privata - come primo atto dopo la sua elezione. Dopo essersi fermato in raccoglimento nel luogo dell’eccidio compiuto dai nazisti nel quale furono trucidate 335 persone ha rilasciato la seguente dichiarazione: «L’alleanza tra nazioni e popolo seppe battere l’odio nazista, razzista, antisemita e totalitario di cui questo luogo è simbolo doloroso. La stessa unità in Europa e nel mondo saprà battere chi vuole trascinarci in una nuova stagione di terrore».

Quick translation:

President Sergio Mattarella chose, as his first act after his election, to make a private visit, this afternoon, to the site of the Ardeatine Caves massacre. After standing in silent prayer at the place where the Nazis murdered 335 people, he made the following statement: "The alliance between nations and people proved able to defeat the racist, antisemitic, totalitarian, Nazi hate, of which this site is the painful symbol. That same unity, in Europe and the world, will know the way to defeat those who wish to drag us into a new era of terror."

Posted on 02/01/2015 7:39 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 1 February 2015
Pistol clue ties London father of four to Jihadi John

More about this charming specimen from the Sunday Times and the Mail on Sunday

A FATHER of four from east London is suspected by western security services of being a right-hand man to the British member of Isis known as Jihadi John.
Nero Saraiva, 28, is thought have risen in the ranks to become one of ISIS's most senior fighters and has been posting images of firearms similar to those used by Jihadi John on social media. 

Saraiva is one of five young men from east London who all moved from their native Portugal to London, where they converted to Islam before adopting extremist views and travelling to Syria to join the terrorist network's ranks. Saravia, a father-of-four has posted several images of weapons on his Twitter, including a Glock 19 pistol with an extended magazine, similar to that carried by Jihadi John, the Sunday Times reports.

Ringleader Saraiva, a former engineering student was the first of the group to travel to Syria in the summer of 2012. The former engineering student, who moved to Britain from Portugal more than a decade ago, also seems to be privy to advance information about the beheading of hostages by Isis.  Saraiva was raised as a Catholic before converting to Islam in the UK and has relied on a Christian preacher in London to keep in touch with one of his young children.

Saraiva is believed to have three or four children in Syria by jihadist brides, including an Australian. He has a five-year-old son in the UK, who he has never supported financially On Twitter last year Saraiva asked one of his friends in Britain, an evangelical Christian preacher: “Do u have any pictures of my son?” In return he posted an image of himself in Syria — saluting Allah with his index finger while wearing a T-shirt from a home counties plumbing firm — for his estranged child to view.

Last year his name was linked to an alleged terrorist plot in east Africa involving al-Qaeda affiliate group al-Shabaab.

In July 2014 - 39 days before James Foley became the first Western hostage to be murdered - he posted a message on Twitter indicating he had advance knowledge of the American journalist's grisly fate. Saraiva tweeted: 'Message to America, the Islamic State is making a new movie. Thank u for the actors.'

This weekend it emerged that hours before Saraiva posted his prescient tweet, he sent a cryptic warning to The Guardian’s website. Signing on to the site with his real name, Saraiva responded to an article about Iraq with the comment: “America [h]as run out of options. Anyway, the Islamic State will sort them out, don’t worry.”

The postings have led intelligence officials to conclude that Saraiva and up to four other Portuguese immigrant jihadists from east London may be involved in the production and distribution of Isis videos showing the beheadings of western hostages in Syria. “He has an important position, influential inside the organisation, and is not just a foot soldier who went to fight and die in Syria,” said one security source.

A former Isis hostage — one of the few westerners to be freed alive — believes he saw Saraiva at a police and judicial building used by the terrorist group in the northern Syrian town of Manbij last summer.  Ahmad Walid Rashidi, a Danish charity worker who was captured while trying to rescue twin jihadist sisters from Manchester, said: “He had a gun at the office.” 

Posted on 02/01/2015 7:08 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 1 February 2015
Mattarella New President Of Italy

Sergio Mattarella, a member of Italy's Constitutional Court, is from a prominent Sicilian family, long involved in the anti-Mafia wars, was Renzi's candidate for the position of President. The holder of that office is supposed to be someone who has shown himself to be above ordinary political calculation, someone capable of setting a moral tone. Sometimes, as the previous president, Giorgio Napolitano, discovered, it is necessary for the president to do and be more than that, to try to arrange compromises, or end political paralysis, for the country's good. Napolitano had his work cut out  for him in the Berlusconi period of Italy's existence. Mattarella is 73. Napolitano was close to 90. The previous presidents had all been alive during the Ventennio (the 20-year rule of Mussolini) and the war he forced Italy into, and that experience gave them a certain weight a certain outlook. Mattarella's war was not that by and against Fascism, but against the Mafia, the Camorra, the 'Ndrangheta. 

Mattarella had been a university professor in 1980 when his brother, a magistrate, was murdered by the Mafia. He left his academic post and became a magistrate himself. He rose high, and has been serving as a judge of the Constitutional Court, the Italian equivalent of the Supreme Court. The day he was elected President, Mattarella went with his children to visit the Fosse Ardeatine, the site of a Nazi atrocity, in which more than 300 people, Partisans and Jews and others deemed enemies, were rounded up by German soldiers and shot, at the Ardeatine caves (Fosse Ardeatine) as a reprisal for an attack on German soldiers. He sounds good.

Posted on 02/01/2015 7:13 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 1 February 2015
Iran is a Real Threat

On January 16, 2015 President Barack Obama condoned a gross breach of diplomatic protocol. He allowed visiting British Prime Minister David Cameron to appeal directly to a number of U.S. Senators to reconsider their support for a bill imposing new tough sanctions on Iran.

Cameron explained he was not instructing the senators but simply informing them, presumably of what they might otherwise not have known, that the UK believed that stronger sanctions or threat of sanctions would not be helpful in bringing negotiations on nuclear issues with Iran to a successful conclusion. Perhaps at breakfast that morning Cameron was reading Psalm 105 which directed him to “bind his princes at his pleasure and teach the senators wisdom.”

The White House compounded this undiplomatic behavior by sanctimonious comments about the intended visit to the U.S. of another prime minister. An unnamed “senior American official” and also Josh Earnest, the White House spokesperson, called the invitation by House Speaker John Boehner to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address the U.S. Congress on the subject of Iran, a “departure from protocol.”  

Conveniently putting out of their minds the partisan nature of Cameron’s behavior, these officials spoke of Boehner’s invitation, made without consulting the White House, as an unwelcome injection of partisan politics into U.S. foreign policy. The unnamed senior official, perhaps Valerie Jarrett, Senior Adviser to the President and incidentally who was born in Shiraz, Iran, is quoted in Haaretz, the Israeli paper, on January 10, 2015 as having said that Netanyahu will “pay a price.”

The breach of manners by White House officials towards the leader of the only democracy in the Middle East and the only real ally of the U.S. in the region raises a number of questions, about the nature of democracy and of U.S. foreign policy. It may be true that Netanyahu’s appearance in Washington may help him to gain support in the Israeli parliamentary elections to be held on March 17, 2015. But that has little to do with the appropriateness of an address to Congress by a concerned Middle East political leader on the subject of Iran, a country that has threatened Israel with extinction.

In one of his essays E.M. Forster, the eminent 20th century British novelist, awarded two cheers for democracy: one because it admits variety, and two because it permits criticism. The Obama administration, through its strong harsh comments on the invitation to Netanyhu, was trying to preclude rather than admit variety of opinion. Two conclusions can be drawn from this attempt to disparage criticism. Constitutionally, the administration is irresponsible in its imperious attitude towards Congress, slighting, even insulting, the legislative branch, an equal partner in the governing of the country. On the sanctions issue Obama has pledged, even before the bill to maintain or increase sanctions has been fully written, to veto it. Politically, the administration’s ungraciousness towards Netanyahu implies that it feels it has a weak case domestically, if not internationally, concerning its policy on sanctions on Iran.

There is an immediate problem for the U.S. For some years a guiding principle, though one disregarded from time to time in practice, of American foreign policy is that “we do not negotiate with terrorists.” It is a truth universally acknowledged that Iran is the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world. It provides large amounts of weapons, funds, intelligence, and logistical support for terrorists. Since 1984 Iran has been on the State Department’s terrorist list, and the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, which is the regime’s main unit for supporting terrorists abroad, is on the list of Specially Designated Nations involved in terrorism.

Among its other activities, Iran has supported Hamas, Hizb’allah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, the Syrian regime of President Assad, the Houthi separatist rebels in Northern Yemen, and Shiite militias in Iraq. In direct violation of UN Security Council Resolutions, Iran has transferred large funds to Hizb’allah and has trained thousands of its fighters in Iran. Since 1991, Iran has been helping al-Qaeda in its operations, including enabling it to move funds and fighters to South Asia and Syria. In December 2011 a U.S. District Court judge, George B. Daniels, ruled that Iran directly supported al-Qaeda in the 9/11 attacks on the US.

The key issue now is Iran’s research on nuclear research and development, and its refusal to abide by the international regulations controlling nuclear proliferation. Since 2002 when the existence of Iran’s nuclear program became public the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been unable to determine in any definite manner whether Tehran’s nuclear activities are intended for peaceful purposes or for the production of nuclear weapons. The UN Security Council adopted a number of resolutions requiring that Iran stop enriching uranium to the level at which it can be used to make nuclear bombs. When Iran did not comply, sanctions were imposed to get Iran to accede to these resolutions.

An interim agreement was reached in November 2013 between Iran one hand and the EU and P5+1 (U.S., UK, France, China, Russia, plus Germany). Iran agreed, for a six-month period, to limit its uranium enrichment to the level appropriate for domestic nuclear power rather than the level used for developing bombs. In return, Iran was given “limited, temporary, targeted and reversible relief;” sanctions were suspended on a number of items, primarily on petrochemical exports and imports for the automobile sector.

However, other sanctions, on oil, banking, and financial sectors, remain in place. As a result, Iran’s oil exports in 2013 fell to 700,000 barrels a day compared with 2.2 million bpd in 2011. This led to a fall in the value of Iran’s currency, the rial, and in a substantial rise in inflation.  In 2015 its oil exports are 1 million bpd.

The negotiations are highly technical but the issues boil down to the fundamental problem of the magnitude of Iran’s uranium enrichment capacity and whether sanctions will be effective in preventing further growth. Will Iran allow the on-the-ground inspections and the limits on its program that have been proposed? Iran’s present position is that those limits are intrusive.

Experts differ on the time -- some say three months -- that it will take for Iran to have enough fissile material to make a nuclear weapon. This depends on the amount of 60% enriched uranium it is able to produce. Iran demanded it be allowed to keep all of its 19,000 centrifuges, but western negotiators want 4,500 at the most. Even that number depends on whether Iran is willing to reduce its existing stockpile of enriched uranium.

The present reality, as expressed by Yukiya Amano, the director general of the International Atomic Agency, is that Iran is still denying access to a sensitive complex, the Parchin military site, that is said to be a site of nuclear activities. He asserted that Iran has not complied with its obligations to be more cooperative and provide information on the possible military dimensions of the nuclear program.

The negotiations continue with new deadlines. The dispute between the U.S. and Israel, rests on the question of sanctions. The U.S. Administration argument is that maintaining or increasing sanctions will gravely undermine the effort to reach a nuclear agreement. Iran argues that sanctions have to be lifted as a sign of good faith.

But Iran’s argument is fallacious. Sanctions should be lifted only if Iran concedes to a comprehensive nuclear agreement and a process is in place that ensures that no bomb will be made.

The imposition of sanctions, or the threat of them, has made Iran more responsive, especially at this time when oil prices have dropped. They have brought Iran to the negotiating table. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, as well as Israel, understand the value of the sanctions that have succeeded in harming Iran’s economy, in slowing its nuclear program, and making it more difficult for Iran to obtain access to foreign technology. This lack of access has been particularly effective in preventing Iran from acquiring the components for a heavy water reactor that can be used to produce a bomb.

The maintenance of sanctions is vital. The Obama administration certainly has expressed its view that the imposition of sanctions on Russia has limited Putin’s actions in Ukraine. While making the case for sanctions on Iran, Senator Bob Menendez was unusually strong in accusing the White House of using talking points “straight out of Tehran.” President Obama is not a lackey of the Iranian Ayatollah Ali Housseini Khamenei but he should not make concessions to the Iranian regime before it is unambiguous that Iran will not continue its pursuit of a nuclear bomb. Whether a negotiated solution with Iran is possible remains to be seen, and international diplomacy may achieve this, but it is more certain that the maintenance of tough sanctions on Iran will strengthen the hand of U.S. negotiators.

First publihsed in the American Thinker.

Posted on 02/01/2015 6:47 AM by Michael Curtis
Sunday, 1 February 2015
Erdogan's Latest Conspiracy Theory: Gulenists And Mossad
Posted on 02/01/2015 6:23 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 1 February 2015
A Judicial Coup d’Etat

Very inadequate attention has been paid to the persecution of Joseph Groia, former director of enforcement of the Ontario Securities Commission and a prominent Toronto barrister. He has been the subject of an unfeasible charge from the Law Society of Upper Canada of “incivility” in the lengthy trial of John Felderhof, chief geologist of Bre-X, and sole and scapegoat defendant in one of the greatest fraud cases in Canadian history.

Tens of billions of dollars of gold reserves were alleged to have been found in Indonesia by Bre-X and it rose from a penny stock to $286 (adjusted for stock splits) before the ore samples were discovered to be fraudulent and the mining property to be commercially worthless. The stock price evaporated. Felderhof was charged with insider trading in 1999. His trial started in 2001, but was delayed four years by the OSC’s attempt to have trial judge Peter Hryn removed for bias, essentially because Hryn upheld the rules of evidence and did not allow the OSC to introduce herniating masses of uncatalogued exhibits.

Groia resisted this so successfully that, after he discovered in the Commission’s jungle of documents items helpful to the defence, the OSC felt obliged to require him to prove the authenticity of evidence it had originally sought to admit before it would agree to its admission. Hryn was sustained by the Superior Court and then, on appeal by the OSC, by the Court of Appeal. After this four-year diversion, Felderhof’s trial resumed in 2005.

Groia represented Felderhof very successfully and through most of the trial, he acted pro bono, as Felderhof ran out of money. But for Groia’s generous and principled nature, would have fallen into the morass of the public defender system and been steamrollered by the OSC. Felderhof was acquitted in 2007. The Commission had acknowledged from the outset that it had no evidence that Felderhof had any knowledge of the fraud that was the basis of the Bre-X fiasco, and insider trading was the mousey charge born of this mountainous scam (where $6 billion were lost by trusting investors, to the more astute or lucky shareholders who sold their Bre-X stock to those left holding the bag when the fraud blew up). The OSC did not appeal.

It was a classic case of someone being selected as the fall guy and symbolic defendant. It was also a classic example of the lawyer as heroic and disinterested champion of an innocent underdog. This is the stuff of much legal lore and many fine novels and films. But the greatest drama, and the most egregious persecution in this whole sequence, were yet to come. Before the trial ended, The Law Society of Upper Canada had begun to intervene, objecting to Groia’s “incivility.” Its internal committee that determines what activities merit close scrutiny examined the case and eventually told Groia to justify his conduct. A mystified Groia was unaware that there was any conduct he needed to justify. His apparent real offence was to have won a case and exposed the OSC’s effort at prosecution as unsupported by evidence and questionably motivated.

The trial judge had found nothing unprofessional in Groia’s conduct. The trial had been robust on both sides and the conduct of the OSC was frequently very bellicose. It was a no-holds-barred battle, but as far as is known, the OSC did not generate a complaint about Groia. This appears to have been a spontaneous brainwave of members of the enforcement apparatus of the Law Society. Their motives are not clear, but should be examined in sworn testimony before this grim saga ends.

The militants in the Law Society were heard initially by a three-person panel of the Society, only one of whose members had any criminal law experience. The opening gambit of Groia’s accusers was that Groia’s infractions of professional and barristerial standards had emerged indisputably in the Felderhof trial and that he had no right to defend himself at all before the hearing panel of the Law Society — indeed, that even attempting to do so was a abuse of process. No such offence had been alleged or found at trial and it was proposed to brush past the trial judge and the higher court jurists who confirmed his right to try the case and the rectitude of Hryn’s conduct. Groia was to be condemned on the sole authority of his almost-anonymous enemies in a Law Society Star Chamber.

The purpose of the hearing was to determine the penalty to be imposed on the pre-convicted Groia. The entire notion of an accused putting up a defence of his conduct was to be rejected as not only superfluous, but in itself an affront to the whole concept of due process. As I was myself rather distracted by legal travails at the time, I only followed this vaguely. But having known Groia professionally, I doubted that he would ever behave unprofessionally, and it did seem to me then, as it does now, profoundly disconcerting that officials responsible for ensuring probity and integrity in the legal system and profession should challenge the right of an accused person to any defence at all. Even the Red Queen would take evidence, albeit after the sentence (which also preceded the verdict and the charge, but given the chance, the Law Society might emulate that also).

Groia’s counsel in these proceedings is Earl Cherniak, another eminent barrister (who has acted successfully for me a number of times). As Groia gamely wrote in a monograph about the case, which has cost him most of the last 16 years and over $2 million dollars in costs and fees, it is rare that a lawyer has the opportunity to fight so clearly for such conspicuous matters of principle. It shortly emerged in the initial Law Society hearing that in addition to having the effrontery to contest his innocence of professional misconduct at all, Groia had used the word “government” as a supposedly pejorative adjective or noun in reference to the OSC, and had allegedly omitted the word “simply” in quoting a statement uncontestedly uttered by Frank Switzer, the OSC director of communications.

Groia was also held to have spoken abusively in court on a number of occasions, including when he said that the “prosecutors’ statements were not worth the transcript paper they were printed on,” though there was ample reason for such reflections, which, again, were not found objectionable by the presiding judge or the jurists to whom these matters were referred in the action to remove Hryn. The hearing panel was partly overruled by the Law Society’s appeal panel (which had no one on it with any criminal law experience). This panel confirmed Groia’s right to defend himself, but found that Groia was unreasonable in his reflections on prosecutorial misconduct, motives, and integrity, and this was held to have had a serious adverse impact on the trial, though these findings were all contrary to the opinions of the trial judge and reviewing judges. The appeal committee purported to impose a suspension of a month and costs of $200,000 on Groia, who has appealed to the Divisional Court, where the matter now sits.

Even I — after all the megalomania and intellectual corruption and professional hypocrisy I have witnessed in the last decade in the U.S. legal system, and its echoes among the Canadian Quislings, who abound in the entourages and committees of public institutions in this country, down to clubs and honours-dispensers, heavy with their own cowardice and inflated sufficiency — even I was astounded at the sanctimonious pettifogging of these nasty proceedings. The complainants are among our traditionally most decayed servitors (in Cromwellian terms), the authors of what in France in successive centuries has been called “the treason of the clerisy,” the abuse of petty office to betray the principles of the national society to envy, malice, faction, and self-interest. It is the shrivelled and bitter detritus of little, colonial Canada, the falsely obsequious greasers of the components of the system.

The underlying problem is that the secondary and often arbitrary or even spurious criterion of “civility,” after many centuries of judicial precedent have left the conduct of trials to presiding judges, is now being invoked by anonymous tinkerers in the bar bureaucracy to ignore and repeal the powers of judges and capriciously dictate the conduct of barristers. There is no precedent for such an intrusion, no legally authoritative mandate for it, no semblance of professional or legislative consultation. It is an outright usurpation, a coup d’etat judiciaire.

There has always been some doubt about the ability of the legal profession to regulate itself, and its attempts to do so have often amounted to a rather self-serving defence of the impermeability of the legal cartel to outside pressures whatever their merits. But this is an outrage — an unspecified faction within the bar administration emasculating the bench, ignoring most of the benchers, and randomly terrorizing the profession, the public and the public interest be damned. It must not succeed.

First published in the National Post.

Posted on 02/01/2015 6:19 AM by Conrad Black

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