As I watched the Sochi Winter Olympics, I thought of Putin’s long shadow was cast, malevolently, over the construction, the management, and the security of the event. I wondered what act of aggression he would get up to next. His smirking, self-satisfied, bullying presence thumbed a nose at the civilized world as he gloated over his support for totalitarian regimes in Chechnya, Syria, Moldova, and Georgia. His malevolent involvement in other countries and the blatant way he suppresses and imprisons opposition at home are chilling. His KGB nature reveals itself for what it is. Well, now we know. A leopard and his spots!
By way of contrast, Obama’s incompetence, the way his naive worldview and credulity have made a fool of him, is equally frightening. It means there are no red lines, and no ally can trust that he will actually step up to the plate in a moment of crisis. Perhaps a little tokenism here, bravado there. But is the EU any better? They need their deals with Russia. They are being very circumspect.
There is another perspective. You could argue that Putin has backbone and determination in trying to reestablish Russia as a world power, to revitalize an ethnic culture and religion that had all but been eradicated by Marxism. You might argue that in supporting Assad, Putin is the only bulwark against extreme, violent Muslim fanaticism.
Meanwhile in the West, the liberal, so-called chattering classes, or politically correct world, perpetuate the myths of the old order, excoriating the United States and its allies and capitalism as the real oppressors. They are cowards who will refrain from boycotting Russia or China but prefer to bully smaller fry.
Then comes the Jewish perspective. We tend naturally to side with freedom. But the freedoms of the European Union have created a world in which Jews are increasingly marginalized and vilified and Israel is boycotted. Their religious practices are increasingly restricted. Putin, on the other hand, has been very supportive of Jewish life in Russia. Ironically, it might just be easier to be a practicing Jew in Moscow nowadays than in Paris, Copenhagen, Oslo, or even Zurich.
We may cheer the Ukrainian opposition for trying to escape the Russian grip. But there’s another side to Ukraine too. The Chief Rabbi has warned that the lid the pro-Russian party kept on anti -Semitism is now lifted. Ukraine is arguably, more than any other part of the old Russian Empire, the cradle of the most virulent and violent anti-Semitism. It is the origin of the Chmielnicki atrocities (he is regarded today as a hero by many Ukrainians), the Beilis blood libel, and the Kishinev pogroms, to mention only the most notorious. Many of the demonstrators from Western, Cossack Ukraine were neo-Nazis and sympathizers; some wore swastikas and declared a desire to rid Ukraine of its remaining Jews (admittedly Eastern Ukraine and Western are very different) and the Cossacks are as divided as the Jews, some pro-Russian and others anti.
This has always been our dilemma. We Jews have to live somewhere. Nowhere is perfect. It’s often a matter of what compromises we have to make. So would you rather live under Putin? Not I.
Two and a half thousand years ago we were in a similar position. Yes, really. Egypt and Babylon were the two competing world powers. Both cultures were cruel, morally bankrupt but militarily strong. There were Jews living in both empires. The kingdom of Judah (the northern state of Israel had already been destroyed) was caught in between both powers, switching from one to the other as alliances were promised and then betrayed. We ourselves were torn apart internally; socially, religiously, and politically. In the end we backed the wrong horse. Despite being assured by our false prophets that we would be fine, we suffered horribly.
But thanks to the Persian Emperor Cyrus, Jews living in the Empire and in the renewed satrapy of Israel enjoyed an era of toleration. The Macedonian Alexander the Great followed suit. Toleration meant it didn’t matter what or who you worshipped, so long as you accepted the conqueror’s authority. Persia was an absolute dictatorship. Greece had a modified form of democracy. What Jews who lived under both regimes cared about was less the style of government than the practicalities of earning a livelihood. Conflict was over trade, rather than religion. But once again Jew argued with Jew, as the Maccabean revolt illustrated.
Under the Roman Empire, too, Jews lived and thrived, some in the East and some in the West. They had to choose which leader to back, of course. One moment it was Pompey. The next it was Caesar. I am sure they had PACS in those days too. Tensions between East and West resurfaced. Some Jews revolted against Rome and looked to the Parthians for support. Others, like Josephus, abandoned their people and chose to live acculturated in Rome. And there indeed they lived peacefully, flourished, and were (eventually) accepted. Then too disagreements between the Jews in Israel and those in the Diaspora were common.
With the rise first of Christianity and then Islam, we (along with home-born heretics) were persecuted most of the time, occasionally tolerated, rarely accepted. So we kept on moving, when we were not expelled, which proved our salvation, searching for safe havens in and between the rival camps.
On to modernity. Jews living in Germany were sure their cultural tradition put them at the comfortable and safe center of civilization. Like Napoleon, they looked down on Britain as a nation of shopkeepers. Jews fought on both sides in the First World War. Many supported the rise of fascism. And I recall both in England and Israel meeting refugees from Hitler who still believed that Germany was heaven, and Nazism had all been a terrible mistake.
I rehearse all this to make the point that we have always been faced with conflicting politics and realities and have tried to tread warily through the minefields. Sometimes we got it right. More often we got it wrong. I can’t think of a better example than the conviction of the ultra-Orthodox leadership, almost to a man, a hundred years ago that Eastern Europe would be safer for the Jews than anywhere else.
I am both rational and mystical. I am in part liberal and part conservative. The challenge most of us have is to make the right micro-decisions, even if we cannot make the right macro ones. If there is a metaphorical message in our holy texts, it is that in the end (and sometimes it’s a very long end) God (or history) sides with the ethical, regardless of their identity or their affiliation.
Positive Discrimination is the Anti-Semitism of Intellectuals
Twenty years ago I published a novella in which a purported serial killer, using all the arguments of liberal or radical criminology, proved to his own satisfaction that not only that he was as good as the average citizen, but better. To my surprise an eminent critic thought that my character expressed my own views, which he then criticized as if they had been meant seriously. Was the fault mine for not having made myself clear enough, or his for having been so obtuse?
He who expresses himself ironically must expect to be misunderstood, willfully or otherwise: and one purpose of willful misunderstanding is to avoid an argument suspected to be strong but that is also unwelcome. There was a good example of this avoidance in a headline two days ago on the news service of my internet provider. This service is a mixture of sugar and venom, and usually I ignore it.
This, of course, was a willful misunderstanding of what he actually said.
Lord Norman Tebbit
Tebbit, who is 83, was a British Conservative politician who was closely associated for a time with Mrs Thatcher. In 1984 he was injured slightly in the Provisional IRA bombing of the hotel in Brighton where the Conservative Party was having its annual conference, but his wife was permanently disabled in it and confined to a wheelchair. Anyone, regardless of his politics, who has seen him with his wife cannot but have been moved by the unostentatious and undemonstrative tenderness with which he looks after her.
Tebbit has always been outspoken and those who dislike him dislike him a lot. He always defends himself articulately, however, and no one has ever suggested that he lacked probity – a rare enough quality among modern politicians. The article that he wrote that provoked the derisive headline was against the view, very common nowadays, that parliament and the upper reaches of the civil service should be demographically representative of the population they serve. He wrote:
Try putting that into practice elsewhere. Who would feel safer if just before take-off the pilot of the airliner told the passengers that she had been promoted to command because they needed more transsexual Muslim captains to meet the airline’s inclusivity target? The senior ranks of the civil service, flight deck crews, surgeons, or any job should be comprised of the best candidates regardless of sexual orientation, gender, ethnic origin or religion.
Clearly the example of a transsexual Muslim airline pilot was meant as a reductio ad absurdum and not as a real or actual concern. One might argue as to whether the example was well or ill-chosen; but to mock it as if Tebbit were really worried about such pilots was to avoid the serious and important arguments against the allocation of jobs (actually any jobs, not just senior ones) on the basis of race or other demographic criteria.
These arguments from which attention is thus diverted are intellectually and morally very strong, despite often being presented by opponents as precisely the opposite, that is to say as bigoted, reactionary, racist, and even proto-fascist. Perhaps the most curious thing about the diversionary tactic is that it presents the attempt to ignore race as a valid criterion of occupational selection (an attempt that will almost certainly never be wholly successful) as openly or disguisedly racist. One is reminded of the notorious response to the man who protested that he was anti-communist: ‘I don’t care what kind of communist you are!’ Anyone who now claims to be non-racist will be met by the equivalent exclamation, ‘I don’t care what kind of racist you are!’
The arguments against quota systems are well-known and obvious, at least in tolerably open societies. Quotas are intrinsically divisive and discriminatory (in the worst possible sense) because the number of categories into which humanity can be divided is infinite: only some categories, therefore, can be favored, leaving others resentful and liable to seek political redress as their supposed salvation. Quotas therefore not only politicize life but embitter political life itself. They formalize favoritism, thus reinforcing the very problem they are meant to solve.
They necessarily inflate the role of government, for someone has to enforce them. Before long, the demand for equality (of a kind) undermines freedom because private associations are no longer able to make the rules they wish, a necessary condition for a truly liberal society in which government is not overweening or preponderant. The imposition of quotas is founded on the belief that everyone is a bigot unless forced by administrative fiat to be otherwise. This is a rather dismal view of human potentiality and underestimates the spontaneous changes in society brought about by, among other things, goodwill and market forces.
Quotas are condescending towards those favored but unjust towards those not favored. You cannot have positive discrimination without negative discrimination, often towards minorities (actually everyone is a member of many minorities). You will therefore end up with a virtual numerous clausus such as operated in elite universities in America against Jews until quite recently in history.
Those who are in favor of racial or other demographic quotas use, no doubt unconsciously or unintentionally, a form of argument very similar in form, and not dissimilar in content, to that used traditionally by anti-Semites. How come so small proportion of the population should achieve such prominence in important fields such as academia, publishing, journalism, the media in general, retailing, industry, banking and finance, and so forth? The only conceivable answer is that this sector of the population, through some subtle and conspiratorial informal organization, manipulates itself into prominence. On this view, the Swedish academy that awards the Nobel Prizes for science is some kind of front organization for a shadowy conspiracy. The only solution to the injustice that results is countervailing political action. This kind of argument, of course, featured prominently in Nazi propaganda and, alas, was highly effective. It appeals to Man’s reptile brain.
Anti-Semitism, it used to be said, is the socialism of fools. I think this is to get it the wrong way round. Positive discrimination, if not socialism itself, is the anti-Semitism of intellectuals and of their political and bureaucratic allies.
The mistreatment of the Arabs in Iran -- who happen to sit on 3/4 of the oil reserves in Iran -- for some reason doesn't come up at the U..N. or anywhere else. Why not? Isn't it a matter for Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, tutti quanti?
Part of the story of the Khuzistanian people -- who have existed since time immemorial, with their very own culture so different from that of all other Arabs, thus entitling them to being accorded a unique identity that must be politically fulfilled through independence, and that means all those oilfields belong to them, too -- can be found, at Al-Arabiya, here.
Religious slaughter of animals to produce halal and kosher meat should be banned if more humane methods are not adopted, the leader of Britain’s vets has said.
John Blackwell, who took over as president elect of the British Veterinary Association (BVA) last year, claimed killing animals by letting them bleed to death after slitting their throats causes unnecessary suffering.
The halal market is estimated to be worth up to £2 billion in Britain. Mr Blackwell said that he respected religious beliefs but “the Danish unilateral banning [was done] purely for animal welfare reasons, which is right”. He called on Muslims and Jews to allow the livestock to be stunned unconscious before they are killed. “As veterinary surgeons, it is one of the most important issues on our radar. This is something that can be changed in an instant.,” he told The Times.
“The Danish unilateral banning [was done] purely for animal welfare reasons, which is right,” he added, insisting it was not a question of religious freedom. We may well have to go down that route. One of the Jewish politicians said it demonstrates [that] a continuing undercurrent of anti- Semitism still pervades Europe. That’s very emotive, isn’t it? That’s the difficulty with engagement. . . We have tried to keep it out of the religious sphere. It is not an attack on religious faith, it is a view that we have taken on animal welfare.”
An investigation by The Times can also reveal:
· A large proportion of meat from animals killed by kosher and halal slaughterers goes unlabelled into the general food market;
· The European Commission is considering a “modified health mark scheme” to identify meat from animals slaughtered without stunning;
· Jewish campaigners, who fear any new labelling system could be seen as targeting the customs of religious minorities, are working with their Muslim counterparts to lobby in defence of their beliefs.
He said: “They will feel the cut. They will feel the massive injury of the tissues of the neck. They will perceive the aspiration of blood they will breathe in before they lose consciousness.”
Likening the feeling of blood in the windpipe to the pain felt when food is swallowed down the wrong way, he said: “When you check the lungs of these animals there is clearly blood that has been aspirated. People say we are trying to focus on the last five or six seconds of an animal’s life when it could be 18 months old. It’s five or six seconds too long. I don't think an outright ban is a long way off, there is enough of a view that this practice is inhumane and causes suffering at the time of death/ . . .It would be more productive if we can have a meeting of minds rather than to say, ‘You can’t do it’
Lewis Grant, of the Veterinary Public Health Association, said surplus cuts from religiously slaughtered animals were sold to the general meat trade for production into food such as burgers without consumers realising.
It is the first time a veterinary leader has called for an outright ban.
I think others must know something about me that I don't. Yesterday, for example, a newspaper called me to ask for my comment on the claim of some Finnish researchers to be able, by means of blood tests alone, to estimate statistically who was likely to die in the next five years. Would I want such a test, asked the newspaper?
The test offered statistical likelihood, not certainty. What would one do with the knowledge that one had a 23 per cent chance of dying within five years instead of, say, a 4 per cent chance according to life tables? The knowledge would be useless unless one also knew what one was going to die of and how to avoid whatever it was. A fortune teller at Battersea Fun Fair told me when I was sixteen that I was going to live to be 84, and that is good enough for me, though whether I will feel the same when I am 83 remains to be seen.
However, this morning through the e-mail I received an offer of funeral insurance so that, according to the advertisement, I and my relict could face the future with complete serenity. I know that as one ages one's horizons contract and one's ambitions cease, but this seemed to be a little unambitious even so. All I had to do to achieve this complete serenity was pay about £4 a month fixed premium for the rest of my life and I need never worry again. My life would be anxiety-free and, according to the picture, I could spend the rest of it frolicking on a beach.
How much does the average funeral cost? In 2012 in Britain it was about £3200. Does that mean that, assuming the growth in the value of the accumulated premiums more or less equalled the rate of inflation, the insurance company expected me to live another 800 months, that is to say about 67 years, or that I would have a much below average funeral?
Of course, I would only live 67 years if I didn't 'let alcohol win the battle,' 'broke the cycle of alcohol dependency' and went into 'a safe retreat and rehab centre' that was also offered me by e-mail this morning. Perhaps it was my drinking habits that caused the premiums for my funeral insurance to be so low.
According to this morning's e-mails I could also restructure my debts (before I die, of course) and avoid the forthcoming economic collapse (if I survive that long).
TORONTO - A Muslim man who wore a burka and women’s shoes before he strangled his estranged wife was sentenced Wednesday to life imprisonment with no chance of parole for 17 years.
Justice John McMahon passed the sentence for second-degree murder against Abdul Malik Rustam, who admitted he donned the headdress — which disguised his face — and wedge shoes when he killed his 21-year-old wife, Shaher Bano Shahdady, after she asked for a divorce. Rustam left their almost two-year-old son abandoned with his mother’s body for 15 hours before she was discovered in her Scarborough apartment.
“The accused demonstrated an exceptionally callous disregard for that young child’s well-being,” McMahon said. “It’s hard to fathom what that child went through. The only glimmer of hope is that he’s so young it will fade into that child’s memory.”
After the murder, the deeply-religious Rustam returned to his victim’s parents home and accompanied his father-in-law to mosque for prayers at 4:30 a.m. Later that day he confessed to his brother that he had “finished her by the throat.”
The brother alerted the victim’s family to go to her home. While they were knocking, Rustam showed up and opened her door. When he saw her corpse, he rushed away in grief and confessed the killing to police, saying he had “certain justifications for his actions.”
The judge sharply disagreed, saying women “have an absolute right to end their relationships” without fear of violence.
Shahdady had lived apart from her older, jealous husband from an arranged marriage for almost two years — using a cellphone and the Internet and expanding her social network while raising their son who had heart problems from birth. In May 2011, Rustam reunited with his wife in her parents’ home. But his wife refused to surrender her cellphone and the tensions flared again. The killing occurred only two weeks after the woman received social assistance and moved into an apartment at 3131 Eglinton Ave. E.
McMahon said that Rustam displayed elements of “planning and forethought” by donning a burka, women’s footwear and gloves. He manipulated the surveillance camera in front of the victim’s doorway away so that he couldn’t be seen when he went inside.
Defence lawyer Peter Zaduk insisted this homicide wasn’t an honour killing.
The Lost Spring: U.S. Policy in the Middle East and Catastrophes to Avoid
This month, my book The Lost Spring: U.S. Policy in the Middle East and Catastrophes to Avoid will be in libraries across America and online. This new book, published by Palgrave-McMillan in New York, is an analysis of the evolution of the Arab Spring and its future. It also addresses other democratic revolutions, upheavals and civil wars in the Middle East, including events in Iran, Turkey, Sudan, and beyond.
In Future Jihad (2005), a book that was selected for the U.S. House of Representatives Summer Readings 2006, I projected the rise of the global Jihadist movement, including its surge in the West. My previously most recent book published in English, The Coming Revolution: Struggle for Freedom in the Middle East (2010), predicted the Arab Spring, its successive waves, and the civil wars it would cause. I projected three cycles before they even happened: the rise of civil societies, the takeover by Islamists, and the comeback of the seculars to push back against the Islamists. And this is the very pattern we witnessed in both Egypt and Tunisia. My book in French, Du Printemps Arabe a l’Automne Islamiste (From the Arab Spring to the Islamist Fall), which was published in November 2013 in Paris and launched at the European Parliament in Brussels, described the global race between Islamists and seculars in the region.
My new book of 2014 is taking analysis and projections even further. It explains why the West and the United States failed to predict the Arab Spring and why they failed to handle it effectively. The book also addresses the direction these upheavals are headed and how to correct U.S. policy before irreparable catastrophe strikes the region. From bloody and expanding civil wars in Syria, Iraq and Libya to the fight against terror in Egypt, Lebanon and Tunisia; from genocide in Sudan, Darfur and beyond to the persecution of Christian and ethnic minorities and the rise of al Qaeda and Hezbollah; so much in the region appears hopeless, but one must also recognize the emergence of reformers, women, minorities and civil societies.
In The Lost Spring I tackle the deep impact the “Islamist lobby” in the West has developed regarding U.S. foreign policy and show the link between petrodollars influence, Middle East studies, and the political weapon of Islamophobia—designed by this influential network to weaken American support to Middle East, Arab and Muslim democrats actively opposing Salafists, Khomeinists, and Jihadists.
In essence, I argue that the Obama administration made strategic mistakes from the moment it took power in 2009—by striking the wrong alliances while simultaneously abandoning friends and ideological allies. I share with readers what could have been more effective policy had the election of 2012 had swung in the other direction. As a senior national security and foreign policy advisor of presidential candidate Mitt Romney, I had prepared alternative ideas for the Middle East — ideas a Romney administration could have adopted.
Introducing the book to the public, the publisher’s reviewer wrote: “One of the greatest unanswered questions after the massive and violent changes that hit the Middle East in 2011, known to some as the “Arab Spring” and to others as the “Islamist Winter,” is how the West failed to predict both cataclysmic seasons in world affairs and to meet their challenges. The so-called spring didn’t last long, quickly unraveling into a collection of civil wars, civil unrest, and secessions. The author argues that Washington is too hesitant to take action when necessary, that U.S. policy is highly disoriented on counterterrorism efforts, and that the effects of these errors have already proven costly. In Benghazi, U.S. foreign policy failed to see the explosions coming, didn’t meet the challenges of political transformation where and with whom it should, and failed in isolating the Jihadi terrorists worldwide. Too many strategic errors were committed. In this fascinating new book, the author, the only expert who accurately predicted the Arab Spring, will foretell a major demise in U.S. and Western policies in the Middle East, unless a deep change in strategies and policies is made in Washington and around the world.
Nevertheless, the book argues that although there is still a chance to avoid catastrophe if the current administration and Congress implement dramatic change in foreign policy, there will be a high price for the next administration to pay if Washington maintains its current direction. I know readers will enjoy reading this historical-future analysis, and I am looking forward to their reactions and the debate it will generate.
Dr Walid Phares is the author of The Coming Revolution and of the new book The Lost Spring coming out in March 2014. He advises members of the U.S Congress and the European Parliament on the Middle East. www.walidphares.com
Release of Heidegger’s ‘Black Notebooks’ Reignites Debate Over Nazi Ideology
When I read this article I asked myself, "When will European intellectuals finally admit that Heidegger was an anti semite Nazi?" Paul Hockenos writes in The Chronicle of Higher Education:
For decades, controversy has marred the legacy of Martin Heidegger, whose theories and complicity with the Nazi regime led many to brand him an anti-Semite.
Yet there was never a smoking gun in the late German philosopher’s expansive work, an explicit pejorative reference to Jews or Judaism as such. Heidegger admirers and critics battled over certain passages, concepts, and personal anecdotes. But neither side could issue unequivocal evidence to put to rest the long-running feud.
This, however, may change with the publication in March of Heidegger’s "black notebooks," a kind of intellectual diary he kept during the 1930s and 40s. Officially the new material is under embargo until publication, but leaked excerpts, as well as statements by Peter Trawny, the collection’s editor, seem to illustrate beyond a doubt that Heidegger harbored anti-Semitic convictions during the Nazi dictatorship.
The excerpts have also triggered their own acrimonious debate. In recent interviews and commentary, the German editor has faced withering criticism from philosophers in France, where Heidegger’s philosophy has long found favor, over his interpretation of the notebooks and of the true nature of one of the 20th century’s philosophical giants.
In his will, Heidegger, who died in 1976, stated the order in which his unpublished writings were to be released. That drawn-out process is why the 1,200 pages of the 1930s and 1941 notebooks are being published only now.
The new material "is something very surprising, something we’ve never seen before," says Mr. Trawny, director of the Martin Heidegger Institute at the University of Wuppertal. The scholar was chosen by the Heidegger family to edit the three volumes of the leather-covered black notebooks.
"In the late 1930s and early 1940s, Heidegger was very angry," says Mr. Trawny. By then, he says, the philosopher realized that both Nazi ideology and his own philosophical mission, which was predicated on a national revolution and Germany’s dominance in Europe, were going to fail. "In this anger, he makes reference to Jews, including some passages that are extremely hostile. We knew that he had expressed anti-Semitism as private insights, but this shows anti-Semitism tied in to his philosophy," says Mr. Trawny.
The editor says Heidegger’s references to a controlling "world Jewry" and to a collusion of "rootless" Jews in both international capitalism and communism are essentially the logic that informs the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the infamous, early 20th-century, anti-Semitic forgery that claims to show a Jewish conspiracy for global domination. "He doesn’t say he’s read The Protocols," says Mr. Trawny, "but that’s not necessary to share a certain kind of anti-Semitism with the Protocols. Nazi propaganda was full of exactly this kind of anti-Semitism."
According to the editor, some of the material became public when he sent several sections of his own forthcoming book on the wartime notebooks to a French colleague. The passages found their way to others in France, and fuming responses to the notebooks—and to Mr. Trawny’s interpretation of them—started appearing in the French news media and on blogs late last year. Mr. Trawny says one Heidegger supporter even lobbied the Heidegger family to have him removed as editor.
French Heidegger loyalists, like the Heidegger translator François Fédier, say Mr. Trawny erred egregiously by linking Heidegger’s thoughts about Jews to Nazi ideology. Heidegger’s remarks, Mr. Fédier told Le Nouvel Observateur, taken out of context, can indeed seem odious. But, understood in the context of Heidegger’s philosophical system as a whole, these notes have nothing to do with anti-Semitism. Mr. Fédier did not respond to a request for an interview.
Another critic of Mr. Trawny, the novelist Stéphane Zagdanski, wrote a long blog post that called the new interpretations "delirious." "Should we really accept Trawny’s conclusions that Heidegger’s theory of Being is contaminated by anti-Semitism?" he asked.
To be sure, Heidegger’s critics had already assembled a significant trove of evidence against him. For one, Heidegger was elected rector of the University of Freiburg in early 1933, just a few months after Adolf Hitler came to power. Heidegger joined the Nazi party shortly after that and remained a member until the end of the war, even though he stepped down from the rectorship in early 1934. As late as 1949, he talked about the "fabrication of corpses in gas chambers and death camps."
African Christians Tortured and Enslaved by Bedouin Muslims
I lived for one year among the Sinai Bedouin. Among them were an endogamous (intermarrying) group of former Sudanese slaves, whose elders told me how hard their fathers' lives were as slaves of these tribes. The British freed the slave in the 1920s but it seems that the practice has returned. Martin Barrilas writes in Spero News:
Reports are emerging from the Sinai Peninsula, currently controlled by Egypt, of Bedouin Muslim Arabs who abduct Christians from Africa and hold them for ransom for exorbitant sums of money. When their often destitute families are unable to pay for their release, the Christians are tortured to death in ways reminiscent of the earliest days of Christianity and also the 7th Century AD when Islam emerged from the wastes of the nearby Arabian Peninsula and swept through the Christian Mideast and North Africa.
Eritrean and Ethiopian Christians are fleeing their homelands, seeking safety in Europe and Israel. Frequently, they are abducted from refugee camps in the Horn of Africa and then smuggled to the Sinai Peninsula where their ordeal truly begins. The Christian Broadcasting Network reports, "Sinai was always a place for human smuggling, but since around two years ago -- even a bit more -- it started also to be a place of human torture," ShaharShoham, director of Physicians for Human Rights, told CBN News.
Shoham has documented more than 1,300 cases of torture in the Sinai. Those survivors ... made it to Israel. But most of the cases of torture are not documented.
"They torture them in horrible methods, like hanging upside down from the ceiling, like using electric shocks, like burning them on their bodies," Shoham said.
The abductors often ask for ransoms of $40,000 to $50,000, a huge sum many families cannot afford. A favorite method of torture for the Bedouins is crucifying the victims, a symbol of their Christian faith.
"They hang us the way He was hanged and they take off their clothes. While they are naked they will hang them. And they will just hit them with big bats like all day for hours."
The CBN article states that Egyptian authorities are aware of these torture camps, but so far have done nothing to close them down. Egypt's native Christians, whose presence predates the onset of Islam, have been subjected to bombings, assassination, rape and forced conversion and marriage in incidents that have only increased in frequency and violence since the beginning of the so-called Arab Spring that brought about the end of the Hosni Mubarak regime and ushered in the Muslim Brotherhood government of the now deposed Muhammed Morsi.
Arab enslavement of black Africans has gone on for centuries. Indeed, the Arabic word Abd is often used to mean either “slave” or “black.” Islamic scholar Ibn Khaldun of Medieval times once wrote, “The Negro nations are as a rule submissive to slavery, because they have attributes that are quite similar to dumb animals.” Muslim Arab enslavement of black Africans predated the trans-Atlantic slave trade by several centuries. Europeans who landed on the western shore of Africa took advantage of thriving slave markets that were established hundreds of years before by Muslim Arab and African slave traders. Slave traders from Muslim northern Africa once ranged into not only Mediterranean Europe but also into northern Europe to take white Europeans to slave markets in Africa and Ottoman Turkey, as documented in The Barbary Slaves by Stephen Clissold.
Her attempt at giving a history lesson, by making a false analogy, is here.
And presumably, for her the Crimea is just like the Sudetenland. But the Sudetenland ran along the northern and western border of Czechoslovakia, was often mountainous, and was well-fortified by the Czechs, who were also well-armed and many think, had they held onto that Benes line, might have put up fierce resistance to the Germans That's why it was so important for Hitler to have Konrad Heinlein, leader of the Sudeten Germans, to stage protests that would then be suppressed by the Czechs, who could then be depicted -- in a German-sponsored campaign -- as cruelly preventing self-determination. Hitler spoke about this more than once, and on the most memorable occasion, spoke for the "self-determination" of the "Sudeterns" and of the "Arabs of Palestine." And the Sudeteners were told to "make demands that can never be met." Mahmoud Abbas is doing just that. And just as the Czechs needed the Sudetenland to survive militarily, the Israelis need the territory they currently possess -- all of it -- if they are to survive militarily. The true analogy for Hillary to make is not between Putin and Hitler, but between the endless demands of the Nazis and the endless demands of those engaged in Jihad. These are ideologies for whose adherents there are no limits -- the entire world belongs to them. .
Stripped of the Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia was helpless before Hitler's invaders. The Crimea, however, was controlled by Russia and peopled by Russians for several centuries, becoming part of the Ukrainian SSR only when Khrushchev, thinking it hardly mattered, transferred it from the RSFSR to the USFSR.
There's a lot wrong with Putin and the mobsters. But too many indiscriminately employ the epithets "fascist" and "Nazi" and "racist" in an intolerable fashion, and invoking Hitler is another example of such insidious exaggeration and unvigilance.
Last week in this column, I expressed admiration of the line President Obama and other Western leaders had taken in supporting the ouster of Russian ally Viktor Yanukovych from the presidency of the Ukraine. It was easily foreseeable and widely predicted that Russian president Vladimir Putin would retaliate, as his Russian official ego is even pricklier than that of the Soviet leaders whom he served in the days when the USSR was America’s only rival as a superpower, and intermittently asserted an eminent domain over neighboring countries, including East Germany, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Afghanistan, all of which it occupied militarily. As I wrote last week, Crimea was assigned to Ukraine only in 1954, and that country’s claim to it now is not unquestionable. Given the fact that about 60 percent of the population of Crimea is ethnically Russian and that almost half the others are Tatars of no more affinity to Ukrainians than to Russians, the ability of the Ukrainian government to hold the loyalty of Crimea was always doubtful, especially as Russia has never officially acknowledged the legitimacy of an independent Ukraine. As I also wrote last week, it is galling for the Russians to rely on the Ukraine for a naval base for its Black Sea fleet.
It was not a matter of immense importance to the Soviet Union where its naval forces were until the mid Sixties, because Russia was never a very serious naval power, boxed in as it was in the Baltic, the Black Sea, and the White Sea, and at Vladivostok in the Far East. Its naval effort was in submarines and it did not have a large merchant fleet. But after the Cuban Missile Crisis, Nikita Khrushchev began, and Leonid Brezhnev continued, a major naval and merchant-marine build-up, which severely strained the Soviet economy and drove the United States to an even larger naval expansion. It was as ineffective as Kaiser Wilhelm II’s challenge to the Royal Navy in the 20 years prior to World War I, a challenge that strained world tensions and drove Britain into the arms of the French and Russians — and resulted in total failure: When war came, the German navy engaged in only two days of fighting and ultimately surrendered and scuttled itself. The Soviet navy achieved no more, but there was no war between the Great Powers and the fleet subsists, though it is aging, and the Black Sea Fleet is a tenant of the Ukraine, needs the agreement of the Turks to exit the Black Sea, and is shadowed in the Mediterranean by the U.S. Sixth Fleet and can get to an ocean only via the Suez Canal or through the closely watched Straits of Gibraltar.
As this is being written, Russia has effectively invaded Crimea, reestablished a Crimean semi-autonomous republic, and given Ukrainian forces in the area an ultimatum. The commander of the Ukrainian navy, such as it is, has defected to the new pro-Russian entity of Crimea. The new government in Kiev has appointed new regional governors to replace the Yanukovych loyalists, but it is not clear that the writ of the central government will run any more authoritatively in the largely Russian eastern regions around Donetsk and Dnepropetrovsk and along the Russian border, a rich coal and steel area, than it has in Crimea. The danger to the West is that it goes on autopilot and Western leaders blather a lot of self-righteous paraphrases of King Lear about “costs” and red lines, which Putin could hardly be blamed for ignoring, and yet which will incite increased skirmishing between Ukraine and Russia and could lead to Russian aggression against Ukraine as a whole. This would be no day at the beach for the Russians: The Ukrainians are fierce fighters, and they would be assisted, at least materially if not in combat forces, by the West; and if Brezhnev’s Soviet Union could not hold Afghanistan, Putin’s shrunken remnant of that country would have insuperable problems with three times the number of Ukrainians, on the borders of NATO (albeit in terrain less conducive to guerrilla war than Afghanistan is). The Munich parallel, incidentally, has been overdrawn: Britain and France could not go to war to prevent Czech Germans (in the Sudetenland) from adhering to Germany. Chamberlain’s mistake was in spurning Stalin, agreeing to such a fast timetable, not securing a serious guarantee of the surviving Czechoslovakia (which the Poles and Hungarians then attacked), and representing the shabby episode as the triumph of “Peace with Honour.” (There was neither peace nor honor.)
The European Union appears to be ready to commit $35 billion to Ukraine, and the urgency of conditions may cause the Ukrainian political class, a pretty self-interested group on its record, to regroup in the unity of oppressed peoples and try to earn the respect of its compatriots. The glamorous former premier, Yulia Timoshenko, whom Yanukovych spuriously imprisoned for three years, hit the ground running last weekend, and could be an important player again. There is no point in threatening Putin with nameless vengeance that won’t happen. All the huffing and puffing over Syria and Iran has not got us very far and Obama’s pious bunk about red lines has become a butt of international mockery. The morale of the American public has suffered, as the means of its government have been dissipated, by $2 trillion and 50,000 casualties in the Iraqi and Afghan wars that seem not to have yielded very satisfactory results. The country is unenthused about military expeditionary activities. And Obama’s rank abdication of his constitutional role as commander-in-chief to the Congress in the Syrian fiasco does not cause America’s adversaries to tremble in contemplation of his countermeasures, as Japan did with Roosevelt over the Panay incident (1937), Stalin did with Truman over the Berlin Airlift (1948–49), Khrushchev did with Eisenhower after threatening to attack France and Britain after Suez (1956), Kim Jong Il did with Nixon after shooting down an American reconnaissance aircraft (1969), and as Qaddafi did after Reagan was provoked into bringing the rafters of his house down on him (1986).
Even after everything that has happened, there is an astonishing volume of uncomprehending nonsense in the Western media about what is at stake in Ukraine. On February 20, former Italian premier Romano Prodi had a piece in the New York Times urging collaboration with Putin in integrating Ukraine into Western Europe (exactly what Putin does not want). The sequel, on March 1 in the same place, by Georgetown professor Charles King, urged an incomprehensible form of countercultural tolerance on the beleaguered Ukrainians and imputed to the Russian leader the chief motive of an obsessive desire to reveal Western hypocrisy. (There has been no shortage of that, but it is scarcely relevant to the preservation of the independence of Ukraine.) This crisis is not and never has been anything except a struggle for primacy in Eastern Europe between Russia and the West. And despite the feebleness and irresolution of the West, it is still much stronger by every measurement than Russia, which is essentially an imposture, a make-believe effort to reenact the conduct and strength of a Great Power in the absence of the sinews of that power.
The West converted Japan to the Occident’s social, political, and economic virtues, which are now being partly emulated by China and India, and have displaced the palsied inefficacies and inhumanities of the czarist and Communist Russians and Ottoman Turks in much of Eastern Europe. The correlation of forces is favorable even in this week, in which British foreign secretary William Hague warned Russia of “costs and consequences” while a photograph of a position paper in the hands of a junior British official revealed that Britain would not actually seek sanctions or do anything; and in which the Western response took on a Gilbert and Sullivan air of reprisals through visas and the Paralympics. If Western leaders utter dire threats but follow through with such ineffectual nonsense, in the fine tradition of the infamous Joe Biden pledge to hit the “reset button” in U.S.–Soviet relations, Putin will just partition off the most Russian parts of the Ukraine and leave a much more homogeneous Ukraine of about 33 million people, well-launched with (mainly) German money. If the Western leaders completely overplay their hand — and with John Kerry in Kiev, any hyperbole is possible before the “unbelievably small” proportions of any likely response are revealed — Putin may actually invade the non-Russian Ukraine, which would in turn accelerate the collapse of his thugdom, swaddled as it is in the costs and artifices of his masquerade as a collector or breaker of nations like Catherine the Great, Alexander I, or Stalin.
Ukraine will be independent, possibly after a partition to save Russia’s ill-favored face, possibly even after repulsing a general Russian assault, and it will join the West. German influence will prevail over Russian in Eastern Europe, and the West will ultimately show Russia the way to being a great nationality not only in cultural, folkloric, and geographic terms, but as a civil society. This is a contest we cannot lose, not because our leaders seem to have much idea how to deal with it, unlike some of their recent forebears, but because they have every moral and material advantage over Russia, and if their incompetence deprives Ukraine of a swift resolution of this conflict, it will only be because that incompetence will induce Putin into adventurism Russia cannot support, a minor updated reprise of the failed occupation of Eastern Europe after World War II and the insane foray into the unremitting primitiveness of Afghanistan. Putin’s ego and braggadocio will, if necessary, insure us against the maladroitness of most of the West’s current statesmen. We could do worse, though some days it seems otherwise.
French webmaster was handed a one year jail sentence in a Paris court on Tuesday after being convicted of inciting and glorifying terrorism. The Muslim convert translated Al Qaeda propaganda into French before uploading it onto the web, but said he regretted his actions.
The 26-year-old, identified as Romain, was detained in September last year in the Normandy department of Calvados, where he lives.
Prosecutors say he acted as administrator of the Ansar al Haqq website, a "reference" for the radical Islamist movement, and as a translator of "Inspire" magazine, which is put out by militant group Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Paris prosecutors said.
His arrest was the first made under a new law passed in the aftermath of the Toulouse shootings, carried out by self-proclaimed Al-Qaeda inspired gunman Mohamed Merah.
At his trial on Tuesday he said: "I had no intention of encouraging people to attack France or the United States. I regret it and if I could go back I would not have done it."
The Ansar al Haqq website that he manages "has more than 4,000 members including 685 that are active" and Romain published statements from Al-Qaeda's north African branch AQIM on it, they added.
They said an investigation also found that the suspect had "an active role in the translation into French and the distribution of the tenth and 11th editions of the magazine Inspire."
Romain's lawyer Thomas Klotz saidthat the charges were against the European Convention on Human Rights and that hisclient was the only person in France being held under the new law. Nevertheless judges were not convinced by the defense and handed Romain a one year jail sentence.
The PVV wants “jihad brides” from Gouda to lose their passports, and that they be apprehended and questioned upon their return from Syria.
MP for the PVV, Joram van Klaveren posed Parliamentary questions to Ministers Asscher, of Social affairs, and Opstelten, of Security and Justuce, about the muslim women who are traveling to war-torn Syria to support male fighters, the AD reports.
According to the AD, the women concerned include one Dutch, a Bosnian and three Moroccan women. The “jihad brides” frequently use social media to maintain contact with the Syrian fighters.
Van Klaveren wants to ban the phenomenon of jihad brides. If the women have two passports, then the Dutch one should be confiscated, the PVV urge.
Googling Gogol, Or What You Can See On The Via Sistina
At 47, via Sistina, in Rome, you can look up and see on the wall this plaque which notes, in Russian and Italian, that a famous Russian writer, or if you prefer a famous Ukrainian writer who wrote in Russian, or if you prefer something simpler, just a writer, lived in that very building between 1838 and 1842, when he wrote "Dead Souls."
And the same writer, Nikolai Gogol,who once planned to write a history of the world "in eight, or perhaps nine, volumes," also wrote a story, bearing a title some may find not inapposite today, about "How Ivan Ivanovich Quarreled With Ivan Nikiforovich."
The "Closing In" On Yabroud Goes Into Its Fifth Month With Iraqi Shi'a Help
From Asharq Al-Awsat:
Syrian government closes in on opposition stronghold in Yabroud
ISIS claims it has taken control of Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus
Soldiers loyal to Syria’s President Bashar Al-Assad stand with members of the media at Al-Sahl after the soldiers seize control from rebel fighters in this March 3, 2014, handout photograph distributed by Syria’s national news agency, SANA. (REUTERS/SANA/Handout via Reuters)
Beirut and London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Syrian government forces have intensified their attacks on the town of Yabroud, one of the most important remaining opposition strongholds in the mountainous Qalamoun area along the Lebanese border.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Tuesday that government forces attacked Yabroud with helicopter-borne barrel bombs, and that “these attacks come one day after the killing 15 opposition fighters in clashes near the town of Sehel.” The Observatory also quoted opposition activists as saying that fighting was continuing in the Sehel area, north of Yabroud.
Lebanese Al-Manar TV, which is operated by the Hezbollah movement, aired on Monday a video of government soldiers who had reportedly stormed Sehel and expelled armed groups.
The same day, a Syrian army officer was quoted by the news agency AFP as saying: “We noted a state of confusion and defeat among the armed groups” and that “Al-Sahl is very important because it is the first line of defense for the town of Yabroud.”
The battle of Qalamoun started at the end of 2013, when the Syrian army advanced on a number of towns and expelled armed rebel groups, resulting in the displacement of many residents of the area to nearby Lebanon.
The region is strategically situated, falling between Damascus and Homs, and is a key supply route for government forces, as well as linking rebel groups in the Rif Dimashq area around the capitol with sympathizers in Lebanon.
Hezbollah has also accused armed groups based in Yabroud of preparing car bombs for attacks on areas linked to its supporters in Lebanon.
Elsewhere in Syria, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) said its fighters had entered the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in southern Damascus.
In a statement published on their Twitter account, ISIS said that “ISIS fighters, along with fighting factions in Yarmouk, have succeeded expelling the ‘Shabihas of Ahmad Jibril,’” a reference to the fighters of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), which is reportedly allied with the Syrian government.
The director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdurrahman, told Asharq Al-Awsat that despite the fact that ISIS entered Yarmouk camp, the Al-Nusra Front remains the most organized jihadist force inside the camp.
Abdurrahman said the decision by ISIS to enter the Yarmouk camp may have been triggered on Monday by Syrian government threats to storm the camp if it was not cleared of Islamist fighters.
Abdurrahman said: “The situation on the ground in the camp on Tuesday was calm” but that he expected “an escalation in the coming hours.”
The Al-Nusra Front deployed in the camp two days ago, accusing the government of violating a truce signed in mid-January, and has allowed aid to reach the residents.
Opposition activists blame ISIS for the breakdown of the truce when the group’s fighters stormed the town of Bebella, where the truce was signed, and raised its flag over the municipal building.
Meanwhile, activists said Syrian government forces had used heavy artillery to bombard a group of Syrian refugees who gathered in a mosque and some houses in the town of Holah, in Rif Homs. The activists added that the town was suffering from difficult humanitarian conditions because of the constant bombardment and the government forces’ control of the roads leading to the town.
In Deir Ezzor, government forces made progress in fighting around the town’s military airport with help from the Iraqi Abu Al-Fadl Al-Abbas Brigade, according to Bashar Al-Abbad, spokesman of the rebel factions besieging the airbase.
Abbad said: “Opposition forces intercepted a wireless communication between Iraqi military elements in the airport area, which proves their participation in the fighting with the regime.”
Iranian Rocket Shipment Bound for Gaza Seized by Israeli Navy off Port Sudan
M-302 seized from Klos-C by Israeli Locatioon of Israeli Seizure of Klos-C off Port Sudan
Credit the Israeli Naval Commandos of Sayeret 13 and missile boats with another coup seizing the Panamanian flagged vessel, the KLOS-C packed with clearly marked Iranian M302 Rockets bound ultimately for Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza. You may recall the Sayeret 13 boarded the Turkish ferry the Mavi Mamara in the May 2010 Free Gaza Flotilla. This time Iran has used Syria for transshipment of a consignment of M302 rockets via Iraq in the Persian Gulf. The raid on the KLOS-C occurred in the Red Sea off Port Sudan just before off loading for shipment to Gaza via Salafist Jihadist helpers in the Egyptian Sinai peninsula . The M302 rockets have a range of 200 KM threatening all of the populous central Israel.
Watch this IDF video of the KLOS-C seizure of Iranian M302 rockets:
The Jerusalem and Washington Post accounts note this most recent episode in a more than 14 year history of IDF seizures, a credit to diligent naval intelligence as well as Israel’s special operations prowess. Here are some excerpts from the Washington Postreport :
The ship, the KLOS C, was carrying Syrian-made M-302 rockets and was intercepted more than 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) south of Israel off the coasts of Sudan and Eritrea, military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner told reporters.
Previously, Gaza militants have only been able to reach about 50 miles (80 kilometers) into Israel with their homegrown M-75 missiles. Hezbollah used M-302s in a 2006 war against Israel, the military said.
The operation, codenamed “Full Disclosure,” followed months of intelligence gathering. Lerner said the shipment originated in Syria. From there the weapons were flown to Iran and departed from the Bandar Abbas port. Lerner said the Iranians tried to “obscure their tracks” by shipping first via Iraq and then out to sea. The shipment was destined for Sudan, from where it was to be moved overland through Egypt to Gaza.
Lerner said the 17 crew members of the ship, flying under a Panama flag, were not suspects and were probably unaware of the content of their cargo. The vessel was being brought to the port of Eilat, Israel’s most southerly point, where the crew would be released and the cache unloaded. It was expected to arrive later this week.
The Washington Post chronicled the more than decade history of Israeli Naval seizures and air strikes against Iranian weapons shipments to Gaza:
Three years ago, Israel seized the cargo ship Victoria loaded with weapons allegedly sent by Iran to Gaza , including land-to-sea missiles.
In November 2009, Israel took over the Iranian Francop vessel off the coast of Cyprus and captured hundreds of tons of rockets, missiles, mortars, grenades and anti-tank weapons on board that it said were headed to Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon.
Israel is also suspected of carrying out airstrikes in Sudan on arms shipments believed to be bound for Gaza. Israel has never confirmed carrying out the strikes.
In January 2002, Israeli forces stormed the Karine A freighter on the Red Sea, and confiscated what the military said was 50 tons of missiles, mortars, rifles and ammunition headed for the Gaza Strip.
In May 2001, Israel captured the vessel Santorini off its coastline, packed with explosives Israel said were being sent from Hezbollah to Palestinian militant groups.
The Jerusalem Postreport drew attention to Iran’s use of Syria for transshipment of rockets and others strategic weapons to terrorist proxies in the Middle East:
The IDF Spokesman's Unit said that the operation was made possible by inter-agency intelligence cooperation and the IDF's enhanced capabilities. "This prevented the arrival of a shipment of deadly and advanced weapons, which was aimed at harming Israeli civilians, and intended to reach the terrorist organizations of the Gaza Strip who are waging confrontation against Israel."
The spokesman added that special commando navy teams acted in accordance with international law during the raid and boarded the ship for armed searches before uncovering the rockets.
Iran flew the rockets to an Iranian air field, trucked them to a sea port, and shipped them to Iraq, where they were hidden in cement sacks.
The ship then set sail from Iraq to Port Sudan, near the Sudanese-Eritrean border, on a journey expected to last some ten days.
Had the shipment of rockets not been intercepted the rockets would likely have been unloaded in Egypt and taken by land over Sinai to smuggling tunnels into Gaza.
One day before reaching its destination, the Israel Navy pounced, raiding the vessel and bringing it under its full control. There were no injuries in the incident.
"We have certain proof that Iran was behind this," a senior military source said.
"The final destination was the Gaza Strip, where Iran hoped to unload the rockets and transfer them to terrorist organizations," he added.
Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and smaller groups are constantly working to build up their rocket arsenal, and are believed to have several thousand short range rockets that threaten southern cities and dozens of medium-range rockets that can reach greater Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.
By the end of 2013, Hamas was estimated by Israeli intelligence to possess 5000 short-range rockets and dozens of medium-range rockets, placing 70 percent of Israeli civilians in its range.
Gaza today has some 25,000 armed fighters. Of those, 16,000 belong to Hamas divisions. The Islamic Jihad has 5,000 fighters, split up into five divisions, and is armed with more than 2,000 rockets. Smaller terror groups have over 4,000 terrorists among their ranks, and are armed with dozens of rockets, as well as a large quantity of light arms.
In addition to replenishing its rocket arsenal, Hamas is trying to create capabilities to launch terror attacks, and possesses anti-aircraft missiles as well.
Between 1920 and 1970, 900,000 Jews were expelled from Arab and other Muslim countries. The 1940s were a turning point in this tragedy; of those expelled, 600,000 settled in the new state of Israel, and 300,000 in France and the United States. Today, they and their descendents form the majority of the French Jewish community and a large part of Israel’s population.
In the countries that expelled Jews, a combination of six legal, economic, and political measures aimed at isolating Jews in society was instituted: denationalization; legal discrimination; isolation and sequestration; economic despoilment; socioeconomic discrimination; and pogroms or similar acts.
It is the custom to say that Zionism was responsible for this development. However, the region’santi-Semitism would have developed even without the rise of the state of Israel because of Arab-Islamic nationalism, which resulted in xenophobia.
The fact that these events have been obscured has served in the campaign to delegitimize Israel, and therefore to a large extent, the same population that suffered this oppression. The fate of Palestinian refugees, their proclaimed innocence, and the injustice they endured form the main thrust of this delegitimization. The Jewish refugees have suffered more than the Palestinian refugees and undergone greater spoliations. However, they became citizens of the countries of refuge, especially Israel and France, while Palestinians were ostracized from the Arab nations.
Another Day, Another Iranian Attempt To Smuggle Advanced Weaponry To Hamas
And look at the trajectory of those M-302 missiles, as they were flown -- without any thought of obtaining frequent-flyer miles -- from Damascus to Tehran, from Tehran to Bandar Abbas, from Bandar Abbasin southern Iran to Umm Qasr in southern Iraq, and then, by ship, from Umm Qasr, by ship, all the way down through the Straits of Hormuz, around the entire Arabian peninsula, and then up the Red Sea to Sudan, where the Israelis stopped, boarded, and seized the ship and its cargo.
(Reuters) - Street clashes marred an announcement on Wednesday that India's general election will start on April 7 as passions run high in a race that pits Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi against the unpopular Nehru-Gandhi family's ruling party.
Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath said 814 million people had registered to vote, a number larger than the population of Europe, making this the biggest election the world has ever seen. Results are due to be announced on May 16.
In Delhi and a regional city, members of Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) fought street battles with supporters of a young anti-corruption party hours after the announcement. Several people were injured and police used water cannons to disperse the crowds.
The violence broke out after the leader of the anti-corruption party was stopped by police during a campaign in Modi's state of Gujarat. Supporters gathered outside BJP offices to protest his detention.
The election follows growing anger amongst urban Indians over corruption as well as a sense that the centre-left government led by the Congress party has frittered away opportunities for rapid growth.
Modi has emerged in opinion polls as the favorite to head the next government, buoyed by his strong economic track record as chief minister of the state of Gujarat.
Exuding self-confidence, Modi has won the support of many middle-class Indians who even a year ago would not have voted for a man accused by critics of failing to stop, or even tacitly encouraging, a spasm of Hindu-Muslim bloodshed in Gujarat in 2002. Modi has denied any wrongdoing and the Supreme Court has said there is not enough evidence to pursue investigations.
Born of a street movement against graft scandals related to the sale of natural resources over the last decade, the anti-corruption Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party has also emerged as a major player, alleging corruption in both main parties.
It is not likely to win many seats, but is setting the agenda for other parties by harping on high utility prices and crony capitalism.
Starting on April 7, voting will be held in nine stages, staggered until May 12, to allow security forces to be effectively deployed during an exercise that has often been marred by violence, ballot-rigging and buying votes.
"Credible elections conducted at regular, prescribed intervals are the very soul, or hallmark, of any democratic system," Sampath said, adding that he was particularly concerned about over-spending by candidates and parties.
The introduction of electronic voting and staggered phases over the past decade has dramatically decreased fraud on polling days, and India's elections are largely free and fair.