The current controversy shows that the Democrats are tired.
by Conrad Black
The first opportunity for a successful end of the Second Civil War, between President Trump and the incumbent political class, has been squandered by the Democrats. Nothing could be done until Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker Paul Ryan accepted that they could no longer pretend to be happy neutrals in the mortal combat between Trump and the Democrats in Congress, waiting to see whether Trump would be impeached or not. Trump won the chicken game with his ostensible partisan colleagues in Congress, after the collapse of the Russian-collusion argument based on the spurious Steele dossier commissioned and paid for by the Clinton campaign ($10 million), and then cited by Democrats as objective evidence of Trump’s treason. It is the greatest political dirty trick in American history, still awaiting complete exposure and the full vengeance of public opinion.
The Clinton connection to the Steele dossier and the health-care debacle got McConnell and Ryan off the fence and behind the president on tax reform, and they all worked closely together to put it through. I believe that the president is delaying ordering Justice Department revelation of the vacuity of the Russian-collusion argument, not, as has been suggested, because he fears that nasty extra-legal gossip will also emerge, but because he wants to administer this bone-crushing defeat to his enemies closer to the midterm elections.
The North Korea nuclear-button exchange and the evanescent stink-bomb of the false Michael Wolff keyhole novel about the Trump White House enabled the Democrats to switch to ranting about Trump’s insanity and mental incompetence, which he dealt with in his 55-minute session in the White House, live on air, on immigration, last week, merely by behaving as the sane and civilized executive that he is. It was the most unexacting form of reality television that there is, a field in which he was formerly a star from his first to last performances (as a paid actor). There was a brief freshet of enthusiasm for the possibility of a bipartisan deal on immigration, but the DACA deal for the children brought in illegally by migrants worked up by six senators was basically a straight gift of citizenship to the DACA individuals with nothing of the rest of the Republican immigration objectives: a physical southern border; the end of “chain migration” (a phrase the Democrats refuse to employ, as it is held to be degrading — it is family integration); and ending the lottery and changing the policy to merit-based immigration, as practiced by such barbarous countries as Canada and Australia. There is a bipartisan consensus that the United States must have 1.1 million immigrants a year to make up for the low American birthrate and avoid having the U.S. become an over-aged population.
The fact is that DACA is a phony issue, as Democrats love more Latin Americans, as likely Democratic voters. (Whether they are technically qualified to vote legally as citizens is irrelevant. This is a better way to rig elections than enumerating the dead, as Lyndon Johnson famously used to do in Texas in the ’40s.) And traditional Republicans like cheap labor, so 12 million unskilled foreigners were admitted while the political class slumbered. But Trump and his Republicans are now the only champions of the endangered blue-collar American worker, and only about 10 percent of the 800,000 DACA group of migrants have graduated from university, joined the armed forces, or made any spontaneous attempt to naturalize themselves. It is essentially a fraudulent moral issue, but it is the peg on which the Democrats have hung their warrior’s helmet to reject the president’s olive branch and resume warfare. Russian collusion having boomeranged back on the Democrats as sleazy defamers, insanity and the Logan Act and obstruction of justice and misogyny all having bombed, it was back to the drawing board with racism, fueled by the president’s disputed vulgar reference to poor countries.
The president wants more-assimilable immigrants, in keeping with the Republican desire for merit-based immigration. Trump’s lamentation that there were not more Norwegian immigrants was unserious, as that country has a much higher standard of living than the United States and Norwegians have not been emigrating since the end of the Nazi occupation, before Trump was born.
Democratic senator Dick Durbin fired the opening shot in this new round of the Second Civil War by claiming that the president referred to “sh**hole” countries, meaning Haiti, El Salvador, and some African countries. Trump denied he said it, and was supported by Senators Sonny Perdue and Tom Cotton (Republicans), who are much more believable than Durbin. Senator Lindsey Graham expressed concern about the president’s disparagements of “poor and troubled” countries (Trump’s words), but has been commendably discreet. The Democrats have retreated to the slightly higher ground of acknowledging that the president might have said “sh**house.” Though absurdly picayune, and squalid, the difference excuses the president from the charge of applying a rectal slur to nationalities and makes clear he was using a socioeconomic description of the societies of origin of many migrants and immigrants. This ludicrous distinction alone knocks out the main prop, in so far as there was one, under the Democratic charge — that Trump is a racist. The charge is nonsense, and the campaign attempt to portray the president as hostile to anyone not of white pigmentation, or even to non-Anglo-Saxons, folded like a three-dollar suitcase long ago.
The Democrats have gambled again on their ability to score against the president by scandalizing politically correct opinion and having their shrill mouthpieces in the national media blast this one around the echo chamber one more time. Trump’s solid following of 40 percent of the country has heard it all before and continues to be grateful to have a president who doesn’t perform childish PC histrionics, whatever his other foibles. The independents, a shrunken community in Trump’s America, but still holding the balance of electoral power, are getting palpably tired of being summoned to the barricades by the Ancien Régime as its hysterical catalogue of denigration of the president slowly disintegrates and descends on the heads of Trump’s accusers like confetti.
As Senator Rand Paul has pointed out, there will be no deal on immigration while the Democrats call the president a racist, and the more plausible charge against Durbin of being a liar doesn’t much lighten the atmosphere either. Trump and the Republican congressional majority will not reprieve the beneficiaries of DACA (which was unconstitutionally proclaimed by President Obama anyway), without the Democrats’ acceptance of a large part of their immigration program, which is not now in the cards. The president might want to be explicit about his immigration proposals (or “comprehensive immigration reform,” as everyone complicit in not reforming it for the last 20 years calls it). He should do something to avoid taking the blame, as Republicans traditionally do, for shutting down much of the government. If it is possible, contingency plans should be made and implemented for laying off enough of the 96 percent of the residents of the District of Columbia who voted against Trump, while keeping the Defense Department and essential services going, to knock this last, Stone Age weapon of official shutdown from the Democrats’ hands. A great many Americans would rejoice if most of the government were shut down, permanently, and it would obviate discussion about the deficit, and deal with the public-service unions once and for all.
From here toward November, unless the Democratic leadership discovers the virtue of making the system work, as McConnell and Ryan finally did after the Steele-dossier implosion and the health-care fiasco, the president should work with the Republican congressional leaders to make their immigration and health-care plans explicit, order that the Justice Department lay bare the proportions of its politicization by Obama and the vacuity of the collusion nonsense, enjoy the 4 percent economic growth, and go to the midterm elections for a mandate to complete the president’s program, make the system work, and give the beleaguered detritus of swamp-dwellers the electoral execution they deserve. Democrats’ confidence in the results next November is as misplaced as was their certainty of winning the presidency in 2016. With a little more discretion in words and tweets, the president can stay the course and win the war. The country will follow, and the authors of fake news will have to get real jobs.
What is America to me, a name, a map, or a flag? In considering the answer, policy makers in Washington should confess publicly that as things stand, "this time the Dream's on me." Every reasonable American realizes the urgent need to fix the nation's immigration policy and to engage in a national conversation on it that is long overdue.
Obviously, the general issue is complex, and highly partisan, and can only be resolved by bipartian cooperation. But for Washington, more immediate, and related to the general issue, are the legal and humanitarian issues, of DACA, the Deferred Action for Children Arrivals program, initiated without a precise executive order by President Barack Obama in 2012. DACA, and the fate of the so called Dreamers, is the first step in immigration reform, and related to it is the TPS, the Temporary Protected Status program.
DACA provides temporary protection from deportation of thousands of undocumented immigrants who came into the U.S. as minors and have lived and worked in the U.S. since June 2007. They, now numbering about 800,000, mostly came from Mexico (618,000), El Salvador (28,000), Guatemala, and Honduras. Their legal status will begin expiring in March 2018 unless Congress passes legislation for temporary or permanent status.
One understands that the issue is complicated by its linkage with other factors such as the issue of stopgap government spending which requires 60 Senate votes. But it is imperative that Congress reach agreement on DACA and on whether it is a path to citizenship.
The question is twofold: the immediate one is the constitutionality of the original executive order by President Obama allowing Dreamers to stay; the larger one is the decision on President Donald Trump's question of why are we having "all these people from s...hole countries" coming here?
One of the great treasures of European culture is the music of Mozart, the sublime composer of some of the world's great orchestral works and operas. It always comes as a surprise, though one that is quickly forgiven, that in a number of his personal letters the divine Mozart sometimes expressed himself in scatalogical foul mouthed four letter words. But the Jupiter Symphony 41 in C Major and Don Giovanni alone are sufficient to ilustrate that attributes of divinity not vulgarity were the essence of his personality.
Those attributes cannot be said of American public figures now that American presidents who once knew better words engage, or are accused of engaging, in four letter words to address complex issues. Yet, whatever the precise nature of alleged inexcusable remarks by Trump, the core of the problem is not the use of foul language but remains: should the U.S. still host immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as undocumented childrem through no fault of their own, and who impose no threat to the country.
In his remarks on the subject, Trump made specific uncomplimentary mention of Haiti, El Salvador and unnamed African countries. First, it should be said that the bold headline of January 15, 2018 in New York Times that Trump's words "endanger Deal for Dreamers" is both excessive and not relevant to the main issue.
Three things can be said. One is that Trump made the immigration issue, the presence of immigrants at lower levels of education and income than the general population, and the need to reduce immigration a cardinal one, and he sees the continuation of that immigration from countries he considers undesirable as a cultural threat.
The second thing is that it is foolish to condemn a whole country. In his great House of Commons speech on March 22, 1775, on Conciliation with America, Edmund Burke remarked he did not know the method of drawing up an indictment against a whole country. Nor do current political leaders about developing countries.
A third thing is the need to separate immigration reform from the problem of funding a federal spending bill, a problem more politically controversal because Trump insists agreement on DACA must include enough funding for a border wall on the U.S. southern border.
Connected with the DACA issue is the Temporary Protected Status program, TPS, introduced as a form of humanitarian relief for countries affected by wars, natural, environmental, and climatic disasters. It has been extended to a number of countries: Haiti, El Salvador, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, Southern Sudan, Syria, Yemen. Simply stated, it allows people from a particular country living in the US to remain and work until their home country recovers from disaster.
There is a double issue, legal and humanitarian. The legal status of Dreamers will begin ending in March 2018 unless Congress passes legislation for temporary or permanent legal migration status, and Dreamers will lose legal status by March 2020. The legal issue is not finally decided. President Trump cancelled the program, that applies to 800,000 in September 2017, and gave Congress six months to resolve the issue.
However, on January 2, 2018, Judge William Alsup, Federal District Court for Northern California, appointed to the Court by President Bill Clinton in 1999, blocked the implementation of the progam, calling it arbitrary and capicious. A separate problem is that the Judge's decision ordering Trump to resume accepting renewal applications for DACA raises the problem of the impartiality of the judiciary in blocking a federal program.
The Trump administration argues that the whole DACA program resulted from an unconstitional exercise of authority in June 2012 by Obama when Congress refused to authorize a program.
The Trump administration also takes the view that TPS should be removed from immigrants, particularly Nicaraguans, Sudanese, and Hondurans, on the thesis that it should only apply to immigrants who are contributing to American society. The TPS recipients are normally undocumented immigrants already in the U.S., people who overstayed their visa, or hold some form of immigration status. These TPS people can work in the U.S., but they do not have permanent resident status, nor do they have a path to citizenship.
Trump is terminating the program, with qualifications for South Sudan, and Haiti, arguing that removing TPS from 200,000 Salvadorans is appropriate because conditions have improved in El Salvador, since the 7.7 earthquake of January 2001 that killed 1,100 and displaced more than 1 million.
Legally, in dealing with TPS, officials must look at "conditions in the foreign state." The key issue therefore is the degree to which recovery has occurred. Has Haiti, a poor and troubled country, the poorest in the Western hemisphere, and where 80% of the 9 million population live in poverty, recovered from natural and political disasters: the 7.0 earthquake on January 12, 2010 that killed 300,000 and left 1.5 million homeless; the cholera epidemic that killed 10,000, and then the 2016 earthquake? Arguably, Haiti cannot absorb the 59,000 that would no longer be covered by TPS.
Today, more than 6,200 Haitians hold mortgages in the U.S., and 27,000 are US born and therefore citizens. Their unemployment rate is over 10%, more than double the national average. Yet, Haitians have contributed both to US local comunities and also to Haiti since remittances from US are said to account for 25% of Haiti's total GDP.
Haiti has been unfortunate in its politics: it has suffered from political oppression, corruption, violence. Rulers have included the corrupt dictator Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier, 1957-71, under whose rule with secret police, milita, voodoo religion and cult of personality, thousands were killed and many more fled. He was followed by his young son dictator, Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier, who reigned by terror 1971- 86 .
The U.S. has been built on diversity, inspite of immigration laws like that of 1924 that was deliberately designed to encourage white immigrants from Western Europe and to ban applicants from Asia, The country must face the reality that in recent years, white Europeans, 98,000 in 2016, are far less likely to immigrate than Latin Americans and Asians: 443,000 Asians, half a million from the Americas, and 111,000 from Africa in 2016.
Everyone realises there must be practical solutions to the immigration problem. Yet, irrespective of the final legal decision on review of District Judge William Alsup's blocking the President's ending of DACA, the meaningful question for Americans is to what extent will the Statue of Liberty embrace a welcoming attitude to tired, poor and huddled masses?
“There are three “musts” that hold us back: I must do well. You must treat me well. And the world must be easy.” - Albert Ellis
Branding is everything if you are in the “activist” business.
More than a few bizarre brands are trending these days. Black Lives Matter and the Me Too (aka Times Up) movements come to mind. The first arrived with a melanin predicate and the second rides a wave of estrogen angst. Hyperbole, hysteria, and hypocrisy joins the two at the hip.
Black murder rates, nationally, are largely driven by mayhem in liberal (Democrat Party) sinecures like Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington DC, Baltimore, and New Orleans. For the most part, American blacks kill other blacks. The number of African Americans killed or injured by white racists or white cops is statistically insignificant compared to the number of blacks maimed by home boys.
Mark more irony. Only one of four murders in places like Chicago ever get solved. If black lives matter, they seem to matter little to other black Americans - or liberal, white urban politicians either.
Rap and hip-hop icons seldom cooperate with cops, insuring that abysmal closure rates are a permanent certainty. Biggie Smalls takes a bow here.
Three of four or more urban gun slingers are still cruising in a hood near you. Gun violence is worst in liberal cities where gun control laws are draconian.
Blaming cops for social pathology in African American neighborhoods is a little like blaming rest room/bath house sex and AIDS on Ronald Reagan.
The Me Too blame game suffers from similar confusion and contradictions. Such movements are propelled by ego, self-pity, and envy; not facts, data, science, or social justice. The “tell” for both memes is in the titles.
Shouldn’t all lives “matter?” Shouldn’t blue lives matter? Shouldn’t white lives matter? Shouldn’t junkie lives matter? Shouldn’t gay lives matter? Shouldn’t jihad victims matter?
Withal, shouldn’t behavior matter?
How does skin shade, and not behavior, have more to do with who gets help, goes to jail, who lives or dies in a liberal city? If the subject is social justice, as opposed to special pleading, then the movement might better be called “behavior matters.” Alas, personal responsibility is seldom in the mix when the subject is urban American racial, sexual, or cultural mores.
The problem with tropes is that too many, like tattoos, have evolved into stereotypes. The scabs are dry now. Behavior is, if we are honest, the mother of all stereotypes.
All of which brings us back to that other conversation, the Me Too crowd, the so-called “fourth wave” of feminism. Me Too and “me” millennials are sisters from the same litter. Note the emphasis is on “me,” not we or thee.
If you chose to emphasize the “too” part of the argument, you can’t help but ask where sisters have been for the last hundred years. Or better still, girls, where was the distaff left when Bill was getting a Monica and Hillary and a liberal press was trashing Billy’s chippies as bimbos?
Say what you will about Donald Trump, America dodged a real bullet with the collapse of Clinton’s second act. If contemporary feminists didn’t have double standards, they wouldn’t have any.
Take Megyn Kelly, formerly at FOX, now flashing her primaries for NBC News. Early on, she entertained her press colleagues with a slut strut and photo ‘spread’ in Gentleman’s Quarterly. Later she made headlines as Donald Trump’s sex inquisitor in the 2016 primary debates. Trump couldn’t believe he was being grilled about sexism by a cheesecake veteran.
Voters couldn’t believe it either. They elected Trump anyway.
Listening to Megyn whine about Donald was a little like listening to a Boston archbishop pontificate about pedophilia. Such is the moral banality of the feminist wing of the American left.
More recently, the feline feeding frenzy caught up with the media boys club with a vengeance. Notable casualties included creeps at PBS, CBS, NBC, and FOX. The most notorious were Charlie Rose and Matt Lauer.
Infamous because both are ‘sandwich anchors,’ newsboys usually squeezed between two almost-famous newsgirls. The wrap for Charlie Rose at CBS This Morning was provided by Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell. Over at NBC’s Today, Matt Laurer was flanked, most recently, by Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb. Laurer has had a virtual harem of vapid second ladies over the years.
The typical host sandwich at network news has man meat in the middle with distaff salt and pepper on the sides.
When decades of hanky panky finally castrated Rose and Laurer recently, lady co-anchors across the land were faking orgasms and throwing high fives - and pleading ignorance like campfire girls. For decades, apparently, not a single lady side-kick at CBS or NBC had a giblet groped, had a fanny pinched, or saw Charlie’s or Matt’s schlong.
Not just hard to believe. Simply impossible to believe.
The likely explanation for such vacuity is stupidity, cupidity, cowardice - or brain damage. Yet, the network party line for passive poseurs is that these gal pals are real “journalists” - victims too if you believe in tooth fairies.
You cannot claim to be a serious journalist and still claim not to have seen or heard of Charlie’s Johnson or Matt’s Willie at one time or another. Like Harvey out there in the land of fruits and nuts, media mashers are serial perverts, trashing and flashing a host of marks for decades.
Twas a bit of a jolt then, at ABC, when Brian Ross was caught conjuring fake news with his pants on. Ross now joins another Brian, erstwhile anchor (now posturing at MSNBC), on the fakir walk of shame. Brian Williams got canned for inventing a self-serving yarn about combat heroism.
The most righteous creep kill was National Public Radio’s Garrison Keillor, a major scalp for hypocrites and victims alike. Ever unctuous Keillor and the Washington Post got hung out for defending Barney Frank in print.
To be sure, the Keillor /Post collusion is consistent with a paterfamilias tradition. Iconic editor Ben C. Bradlee at the Post was notorious for conjugating with the help in the 60s and 70s when he wasn’t fronting for John Kennedy’s lechery, the Democrat Party, or the FBI.
Here’s a thought for journalists everywhere. If you wife can’t trust you, why should readers trust you?
One wag famously described Ben’s third mate, Sally Quinn’s contributions to writing as “cliterature.” Quinn is an exemplar of how far a woman can get in Washington by merging regularly with an aging married liberal oligarch.
Deep throats indeed!
Science now has a name for ‘me too’ egoism, careerism, or adolescent selfishness. The clinical community calls it musterbating. Yes, that spelling is correct.
Musterbation is, as irony would have it, a homophone homonym; in short, indulging yourself by other means; “me” and “must” posturing as mandates.
The neologism was coined by behaviorist Albert Ellis. According to Dr. Ellis, musterbation is a series of unrealistic expectations or “shoulds” that the egoist imposes on self - and those around them. Musterbation is not to be confused with aspiration. Should is a demand not simply a desire.
The mustabator is at once self-absorbed and judgmental about the world around them. Neither facts nor experience are relevant to the activist bound by self-serving rigid expectations of the cruel work outside the womb.
For the musterbator, introspection or reflection is impossible, personal and social problems are always someone else’s fault. “It’s your behavior, not mine, that is the problem,” might be their mantra.
Black Lives Matter and Me Too activists are now musterbating in unison. Both fail to see their behavior as relevant to social pathology. Whitey and “the man” is the excuse for BLM. Covetous men or an oppressive patriarchy are the culprits for Me Too mustabators. Courage in both cases is lacking because hindsight is not the same as a stout heart.
BLM excoriates a small, largely innocent demographic; cops. Me Too cuts a wider swath, demonizing men in general, nearly half the population. The two have much in common.
Hypocrisy is a hermaphrodite.
And yes, Ms. Winfrey; time is up. It’s time for professional victims and celebrity whiners, male and female, to grow up and act like adults.
Catherine Deneuve speculates that the Me Too fad is driven by man hate. Bingo!
Speaking of acting, black skirt feminism was a thing at the Golden Globes this year. Ironically, Hollywood press shills honored the lives of Katherine Graham, Ben Bradlee, and Carl Bernstien. Graham was a weak corporate enabler at the Washington Post, while Bradlee and Bernstein were flagrant womanizers. Bernstein cheated most prominently whilst his wife was pregnant. Heartburn anyone?
Adding insult to irony, black skirt prima donna Meryl Streep is the star vehicle in two films that now have turned two of journalism’s most notorious cheats into national icons.
Indeed, if egoists and special pleaders must do anything, they must take responsibility for their behavior at the moment of truth. Then we can all get on with judging Louie CK, Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump, Megyn Kelly, Sally Quinn, and Senator Pocahontas.
The author usually writes about national security, only occasionally wandering onto the minefield of social scrimmages.
Mark Heywood QC, prosecuting, said Haque had resolved in 2016 and early 2017 “to carry out one or more violent attacks in this country, with others if he could”.
Mr Heywood said Haque's plans “extended to the recruitment of yet others to the causes. Those others were not grown men, but youngsters. Youngsters aged about 11 to 14." He set out "to persuade them in due course to take part in action", the court was told.
Mr Heywood said: "His methods were to expose them to information and video recordings and then to have them, in instances, enact scenarios of violent action against the police in this country and others..."
He was under surveillance by the security services and was recorded chanting to himself: “We are a death squad sent by Allah and his messengers to avenge my Arab brothers’ blood.”
He taught at the Islamic boys' school in Leyton, east London, between September 2015 and September 2016, the court heard. Haque denies showing YouTube videos, featuring guns, burning passports and beheadings, at the Lantern of Knowledge school in Leyton, east London...
But he admits doing so later at the Riddle (sic - its RIPPLE) Road Mosque where he taught classes, jurors heard.
Mr Haque told his young pupils that he was in contact with Isis and was intent on dying in the cause of Allah as a “martyr”, the court was told. He said that if they mentioned it outside the mosque they would suffer after death and go to Hell and their homes would burn down.
The children were made to perform push-ups, races and grappling in order to train them in physical fitness, with Mr Haque allegedly yelling “Allahu akhbar” — God is greatest — as they did so.
In other sessions, it was alleged, the boys were told to engage in “role playing”, taking the part of police and attackers in attack scenarios with weapons and a car bomb. The activity became more specific and included demonstrating the use of imaginary knives, taking inspiration from video recordings he had shown to cut and to sever the head through the neck.
Mr Haque is further charged with preparing terrorist acts by leading exercises with children at the mosque and disseminating terrorist publications at the Lantern of Knowledge secondary school in London. Mr Haque worked as an Islamic studies teacher at the Lantern of Knowledge Islamic school in Leyton, east London, catering for children aged 11 to 16, where he was said to “range far beyond any curriculum”. Ofsted rated the school as "outstanding" but hopefully not for those reasons?
Mr Haque became “fascinated” by the Westminster Bridge attack on March 22 in which five people, including PC Keith Palmer, were killed, and discussed bringing a reign of terror across London in secretly recorded chat, the Old Bailey was told.
In a bugged conversation with one of his co-accused, four days after the March 22 attack, Mr Haque allegedly said: “So what I want to personally is launch different attacks in all the different areas, one in Westminster, one in Stratford, one in Forest Gate, one in so many different areas, yeah. Immediately there’s one focus to all the police. Get off the streets. Civilians get off the streets. London will be, not just Westminster attack, entire London...We’re here to cause terror, my brother. We are a death squad sent by Allah and his messengers to avenge my Arab brothers’ blood . . .”
Mr Haque allegedly discussed using a car, leaving bombs in a lift, and going for “a quick spin” around Westminster, and separately compared Isis gaining more territory to “us winning the world cup”.
The court heard that about five days before his arrest in May Mr Haque staged a role-playing exercise between some of the children in a tent behind the mosque, naming some as “martyrs” and others as police. While the rest of the class watched, he allegedly showed them how to kill police officers and responders.
Mr Haque came to the attention of authorities when he tried to travel to Turkey from Heathrow in April 2016, with the route closely watched after being used by hundreds of British jihadis who joined Isis in Syria.
Haque, of Manor Park, and Mamun, of Barking, deny preparation of terrorist acts between March 25 and May 18 last year. Haque and Patel, of Forest Gate, both deny one count of conspiracy to possess a firearm.
From L-R: Umar Ahmed Haque, Abuthaher Mamun and Nadeem Patel were present in court. No idea where fourth defendant Muhammad Abid is/was.
The Lantern of Knowledge school was not there when I lived in Leyton; of course that was then, this is now. The listed GCSE curriculum looks very narrow, but the pictures of the boys enjoying activities looks interesting and fun. They are visiting court and wearing legal wigs, listening to an English lady in 18th century costume, looking serious at the Jewish museum. Is this just window dressing? Did Haque have much success indoctrinating them? I hope we don't find out the hard way.
Man fascinated by IS planned attacks on Big Ben and other UK targets, court told
The Scottish and Irish papers are reporting the opening of this trial at the Central Criminal Court Old Bailey already. Despite the defendants meeting at a London mosque, and many of the possible targets being in London the London newspapers are still out to lunch. From the Aberdeen Evening Express and the Belfast Telegraph
An Islamic State-inspired terrorist plotted attacks in the UK on a range of targets including Big Ben and the Queen’s Guard, a court heard. Umar Haque, 25, allegedly enlisted the help and support of others at his local mosque where he also tried to groom children with roleplay and extremist videos.
Abuthaher Mamun, 19, Muhammad Abid, 27, and Nadeem Patel, 26, who knew Haque through the Ripple Road Mosque in Barking, east London, are accused of helping him in various ways.
Mr Heywood said: “Umar Haque was fascinated by the warped and extreme ideology of Islamic State. Hum - I suppose I shouldn't expect an establishment barrister to defy the convention that most of Islam is a 'religion of peace' but they shouldn't bother; few people are fooled any more.
“He had identified methods and targets. Those targets were numerous but included for example, the Queen’s Guard, the courts, Transport for London, Shia Muslims, Westfield, banks in the City of London, Heathrow, west London, Parliament, Big Ben, the English Defence League or Britain First, embassies, media stations.
“Mamun also agreed to, and set about, raising money to fund Haque’s plans.”
Haque and Mamun are accused of preparing acts of terrorism between March 25 and May 18 2017.
Haque is accused of researching and planning a terrorist attack while Mamun allegedly traded in options in order to finance it.
Haque is further charged with preparing terrorist acts by leading exercises in physical training and “role play” with children at the Ripple Road Mosque.
Religious teacher Haque is further accused of dissemination of terrorist publications.
The defendants, who all lived in east London, have denied the charges. The Barking and Dagenham Post has their report here.
Haque has admitted charges of collection of terrorist information and a further charge of dissemination of a terrorist publication. And Patel has admitted possessing a prohibited weapon.
EU “Closer Union” Advocates Have an Ally in the Separatist Movements
by Theodore Dalrymple
A minister of the Tsarist Russian regime once said that the paralytics of the government were locked in a struggle to the death with the paralytics of the revolution. The struggle, as we know, did not end well.
In present-day Europe, there seems to be, if not a struggle, at least a seeming contradiction between centripetal and centrifugal forces.
The centripetal forces are those that, in logic if not yet in practice, would lead to the ever-closer union proclaimed to be the ultimate purpose of the European Union in its current form. Ever-closer union must mean, if it means anything, eventual total union. In fact the leader of Germany’s Social Democrats, Martin Schultz, recently called for a full United States of Europe within seven or eight years.
Writing in Le Monde, the Austrian Professor Ulrike Guérot, founder of the European Democracy Lab, a Berlin think tank, quotes Victor Hugo’s 1872 declaration: “One thing is certain, we shall have that immense thing, a European republic!” Adds Guérot:
One market, one currency, one democracy ought to be the 21st Century’s project. In other words: one Euro, one International Bank Account Number, one social security number for everyone.
You can’t get a much closer union than that!
On the other hand, there are centrifugal forces. Flemish nationalists want independence from Belgium, which of course would then cease to exist. Scottish nationalists want independence from Britain, Catalonian and Basque nationalists from Spain, and Corsican nationalists recently won the local elections in Corsica. There is a northern Italian movement in favor of disembarrassing that prosperous part of the country of its perpetually impoverished south. Some Bavarians want independence from Germany.
But the differences between the two visions are by no means as stark or logical as might be expected. Consider that most of the separatist movements are strongly pro-European (that is, in the sense of favoring the European Union). This seems strange in so far as the EU would destroy or replace national sovereignty.
Moreover, at least some of the separatist feeling is thought to have an economic grievance behind it. Catalonia is more prosperous than the rest of Spain, and its taxes subsidize other parts of Spain. The same is true of Flanders, which subsidizes fellow Belgians in Wallonia. The same is, as mentioned, true for (or at least asserted by) the northern Italians.
It is not true of the separatists in Scotland, which receives subsidies—to say nothing of Corsica, totally dependent as it is on the rest of France. But to spend subsidies is hardly more blessed than to pay them, and gratitude is not a political emotion.
What of national oppression? Certainly, the Catalonians felt oppressed by the Franco regime. In Wales, another recipient of subsidies, and within living memory (I have a friend who remembers it), children could be punished for speaking Welsh on the playground. The language question is more complex than this might suggest: Certainly there were Welsh-speaking parents who did not want their children to grow up speaking Welsh, those of the great poet Dylan Thomas, for example. They felt that speaking Welsh was not merely useless but actually harmful to the prospects of young Welshmen and women. But still, the experience of being punished for speaking one’s native tongue in one’s native land is bound to create a certain resentment, even if it was now quite a long time ago.
Similarly, the longstanding asymmetry, in Belgium, in the status and prestige of French (which the Walloons speak) and Dutch (which the Flemish speak) created resentment. The Flemish aristocracy or haute bourgeoisie spoke French not Dutch; the educated Dutch-speakers learned French but the French-speakers didn’t learn Dutch. Even now, a hundred years after the Great War, many of the Flemish have neither forgotten nor forgiven that while the Belgian army officers in that conflict were French-speaking, the Belgian infantrymen, the cannon-fodder, spoke Dutch and could neither understand the officers nor be understood by them.
In contrast, the northern Italians can hardly complain about oppression by the southern; and unlike the Irish, the Scots have little to complain of at hands of the English at least in the past two centuries. The Scots were among the greatest advocates and beneficiaries of the British Empire; and far from being an anti-imperialist movement, Scots nationalism is a consequence of the decline and fall of empire rather than a rejection of British imperialism.
It is generally a fact that people dislike their near neighbors more, and even much more, than they dislike distant ones. Since dislike or hatred is by far the strongest political emotion, it is perhaps not surprising that people in search of an identity find it in distinguishing themselves, usually with dislike, from their nearest neighbors. Then too, there is the search for identity in modern conditions, in which even in supposedly small countries, large cities make anonymity the normal daily experience of the majority. In such conditions nationalism, like tattooing and piercing, becomes a shortcut to personal identity.
But having said all this, we still have not explained why nationalist centrifugalists, if I may so call them, are so eager to form an alliance with EU centripetalists, who wish to efface the very thing the nationalists claim to be seeking. Several hypotheses are possible, and none susceptible of final proof.
The first is that that these nationalists are not even aware of the contradiction. Few of us are logical calculating machines who work out the full implications of our beliefs, let alone always act in our own best interests. I am only too aware that I have no consistent doctrine of life, morality, or politics, that I am not even consistent from day to day or moment to moment, and am, on the whole, quite untroubled by this. Entirely consistent men are apt to be spine-chilling.
Second, nationalist dislike of immediate neighbors, whether the explanation for it be reasonable or unreasonable, may loom so large that it overcomes logical thought. Jumping out of frying pans into fires is a well-known human phenomenon.
There is a third explanation, which is that the leaders of the nationalist parties or separatist groups want there to be more places at the top table—vacancies that they would then fill. They might even rise to the dizzying heights of the former Prime Minister of Luxembourg, who has long bestridden the world, or Europe at any rate, like a colossus. This he could never have done without the existence of the EU. In other words, personal ambition and the megalomania of petty potentates.
But what should be the attitude of leaders of the European Union toward the potential fracturing of the EU member states as they are at present constituted? In the short term, EU leaders have to pretend to support the current arrangements, because for the moment power is concentrated in the hands of the leaders of those member states. If the power in Madrid or London begins, however, to seep away, the path to a Europe not of the nations but of (as Professor Guérot puts it) “the regions” is cleared. Then, as she says, the citizens of Europe “will elect their president by direct universal suffrage. Finished with the system of checks and balances . . . ”
I can’t wait for all those terrible checks and balances to be swept away. And, while we are at it, why should this process be confined to Europe? Is Professor Guérot a closet nationalist—even a racist? If Europeans can, why can’t the entire population of the world, elect their president (of a Republic of the World) by direct universal suffrage?
Police previously said they were treating case as a possible hate crime.
An 11-year-old girl's report last week that a man tried to cut off her hijab as she walked to school didn't occur, Toronto police said Monday. "After a detailed investigation, police have determined that the events described in the original news release did not happen," police said. "The investigation is concluded."
The girl reported Friday that a man attempted twice to cut off her hijab as she walked to school with her younger brother. Police said last week that the alleged attack was being investigated as a possible hate crime.
The girl, along with her mother and representatives from the Toronto District School Board, attended a news conference inside her school Friday during which she detailed the alleged attack for media. "This is terrible and I do not like it," Khawlah Noman, a Grade 6 student at Pauline Johnson Junior Public School, told reporters at a news conference at her school hours after the incident, with her mother and brother by her side. "I felt confused, scared, terrified."
Khawlah Noman, 11, leaves Pauline Johnson Junior Public School with her mother
Saima Samad (R) and brother Mohammed Zakariyya
The story quickly blew up on social media, drawing responses from John Tory, mayor of Toronto, Premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne and even the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Police said it was being investigated as a hate crime, and asked businesses or drivers in the area to check their security cameras and dash cams for footage of a man loitering in the area prior to the alleged assault.
Her story captured national attention, and drew public condemnation from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Toronto Mayor John Tory. In a new statement issued Monday afternoon, Tory said "it is good to know" that no attack actually took place.
Amira Elghawaby, a human rights advocate based in Ottawa, said she was saddened to learn that the girl's story was not true, adding it will likely only serve to embolden "those who do hold discriminatory views of Muslims."
Home Office worker 'was lynchpin of plot to let illegal migrants stay':
From the Daily Mail. A prime example of the law of unintended consequences. Or maybe it was intentional - I have my suspicions. But my generation of "Old School" incorruptible, honest and loyal Civil Servants were cleared out of several government departments in 2007-8, to increase diversity and save money. These 'gentlemen' kept their positions, and probably were promoted in our place.
A gang including a Home Office worker masterminded a conspiracy to allow illegal immigrants to stay in the country, a court has heard. Shamsu Iqbal was allegedly the lynchpin of the group that used his ‘trusted’ Home Office position to falsify documents – with investigators identifying 437 potential cases over five years.
The 61-year-old changed the records of migrants who had permission to stay in the UK, giving their identities to people who were in Britain illegally, jurors heard.Iqbal’s co-accused – lawyers Sheikh Muhammad Usman, 45, Mohammad Khawar Aftab Hussain, 49, and Mohammad Ibrahim Ali, 47 – would then allegedly contact the Home Office to ‘straighten out’ the status of ‘impostors’ who had taken on another identity.
Left to right Shamsu Iqbal, Mohammed Hussain, Sheikh Muhammad Usman, Mohammad Ibrahim Ali arriving at Crown Court Croydon
The court heard Iqbal had a secure log-on to a Home Office system known as the Case Information Database, which holds details of applications to remain in the UK.
Investigators found he had been ‘looking at data he should not have been looking at’ while allegedly changing details and issuing documents that could allow people in Britain illegally to remain.
Jurors were told one man, Azad Passa, came to Britain as a child in 1989 before being granted citizenship in 2005. It is alleged his Home Office record was manipulated to submit a fake request for a Biometric Residence Permit identity card – so that it could then be issued to another man, Gufranur Rahaman, who was in the UK on a time-limited student visa.
The court was told that, in the fake application, the address given to the Home Office for Mr Passa was linked to Usman, who represented Mr Rahaman.
The court heard that by February 2016, Home Office investigators had identified 437 potential cases, but these were narrowed down to more than 20 for the ten-week trial, which opened on Thursday, because there was not time to investigate them all.
Iqbal, an administrator working for the asylum workload and administration team, was suspended in May 2015 and sacked in October. Iqbal, Usman, Hussain and Ali had each other’s numbers saved on their mobile phones and data shows they corresponded with one another.
Miss Felix said money went in and out of an account of a south London restaurant in which Iqbal had a business interest, even though the restaurant was shut at the time.
Iqbal, from Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, Usman, from Wandsworth, south London, Hussain from Colliers Wood, south-west London, and Ali, from Ilford, Essex, all deny charges of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.
Ali also faces a count of unlawful possession of two British and 11 Bangladeshi passports relating to someone else, which he also denies. The trial continues.
One of the best rated primary schools in the UK has banned girls aged under eight years old from wearing hijabs.
St Stephen's primary school, in Newham, east London, has also forbidden Muslim pupils from fasting on school days during Ramadan.
Arif Qawi, chairman of governors at St Stephen's, which topped the Sunday Times school league tables in 2017, said the Department of Education should "step up and [take the issue] out of our hands". He told The Sunday Times: "We did not ban fasting altogether but we encouraged them to fast in holidays, at weekends and not on the school campus. Here we are responsible for their health and safety if they pass out on campus...it is not fair to us."
A campaign led by Amina Lone , of the Social Action and Research Foundation, is fighting for young Muslim girls not to have to wear the hijab in primary schools.
The Department for Education said: 'It is a matter for individual schools to decide how to accommodate children observing Ramadan, and to set uniform policies. We issue clear guidance on uniform and to help schools understand their legal duties under the Equality Act.'
Mr Qawi claimed some students were fasting when they were as young as eight years old, despite Muslim clerics typically advising they not start until they have reached puberty. The school had to deal with a “backlash” from parents, especially after it outlawed fasting, a ritual that lasts about 18 hours a day in the summer, on school premises.
He said that, although some parents had been critical of the new rules, it had received broad approval from many Muslim parents.
The headmistress, Neena Lall, said the school had made the changes to help pupils integrate into modern British society. “A couple of years ago I asked the children to put their hands up if they thought they were British,” she said. “Very few children put their hands up.”
Qawi said that despite the criticism from a few families, some parents were thrilled at the school’s stance on fasting.
He said he had met some mothers with children at the school: “I could not see their faces because they were fully veiled. But I could see their eyes — which were sparkling. They were pleased we had taken it out of their hands.
“I always ask, ‘Do you want your daughter to grow up to be like you or like Neena?’ They say, ‘Like Neena.’ When I hear that I think we have done our job.”
By now we have all heard about Peter Hoekstra, the new American ambassador to the Netherlands, who was repeatedly questioned by Dutch journalists on January 10 about a statement he had made in 2015: “There are cars being burned. There are politicians that are being burned,” he said then, at a conference hosted by a conservative group. “And yes, there are no-go zones in the Netherlands.”
He was immediately attacked for these remarks, and when asked — repeatedly — to name a no-go zone in the Netherlands, failed to offer any answer.
When the journalists began to ask Hoekstra about his remark that “politicians are being burned,” he again failed to answer.
At that point, Roel Geeraedts, one of the journalists present, asked Hoekstra about a John Adams quote — Adams was America’s first ambassador to Holland — that was mounted over a fireplace right behind the new ambassador.
“Hoekstra said he had read the quote, which expresses Adams’s hope that only ‘honest and wise men ever rule under this roof.’”
“If you’re truly an honest and wise man, could you please take back the remark about burned politicians or name the politician that was burned in the Netherlands?” Geeraedts asked.
“An uncomfortable silence followed the question.”
Several more times other journalists repeated the question.
Still no answer was forthcoming.
“Thank you,” Hoekstra said, and the meeting ended.
“On Friday [January 12] Mr. Hoekstra finally admitted to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf that he had made the remarks, to a right wing gathering in the US, and said he was “shocked” by them.
“That was a wrong statement. That was just wrong,” Mr Hoekstra said, adding that “clearly that was an inaccurate statement.” [He was speaking about his “no-go zones” remarks.]
“That one shocked me personally … because while you know there have been other issues in other countries in Europe, you know that has never been the circumstances here,” he said.
“I mixed up countries. I was wrong. I can’t recall how that could happen. I know: I was wrong,”
But his apology was not right, either, as it focused on his “no-go zone” comment, for which there is some support, and not on the statement about the “burning” of politicians, for which there is none. Not everything Hoekstra said could be dismissed out of hand, although — piling confusion on confusion — a chastened Hoekstra appeared all too willing to do so.
As for “No-Go zones” in the Netherlands, Hoekstra has been unable to identify them by name, but that does not mean they do not exist, as he now says. Despite his current claim, there is evidence that such zones exist in the Netherlands, though not nearly as widespread as in France and Sweden and Germany. Apparently the Dutch government agrees with what Hoekstra originally said, and not with the dismissive journalists, nor with his subsequent abject apology, for earlier this year it released a list of 40 “no-go” zones, mostly Islamic.
The Kolenkit area in Amsterdam is the number one Muslim “problem district” in the country. The next three districts are in Rotterdam – Pendrecht, het Oude Noorden and Bloemhof. The Ondiep district in Utrecht is in the fifth position, followed by Rivierenwijk (Deventer), Spangen (Rotterdam), Oude Westen (Rotterdam), Heechterp/ Schieringen (Leeuwarden) and Noord-Oost (Maastricht).
These are places where at least some of the following can be found: riots on a regular basis, extremely high crime rates, including street robberies, sexual assaults, attacks on businesses owned by non-Muslims, places where women feel it dangerous to walk alone, Jews and Christians may feel the need to hide their crosses or kippas, homosexuals may be attacked, DHL van drivers are reluctant to enter, vandalism of all kinds is rampant, including shop windows broken, trash cans overturned, the burning of cars for “fun,” especially on national holidays, firemen find they need police protection, and the police themselves are not welcomed, but treated as an occupying force.
It is too bad that Ambassador Hoekstra, during his encounter with the journalists, did not have at hand that Dutch government list of problem neighborhoods, and it’s too bad, in his subsequent apology, that he so sweepingly dismissed the possibility of any no-go zones in the Netherlands. Perhaps he could issue a more detailed and considered report. He might refer to that Dutch government list, but also raise the issue of when what is called a “problem” neighborhood become a no-go zone. Who decides what is a “no-go” neighborhood? The government, which in so many countries, including the Netherlands, appears to have a stake in minimizing fears of Muslims, and in under-reporting Muslim crime and hostility to non-Muslims? Or should we rely on reports by women, Jews, Christians, homosexuals, and others who have been made fearful? As part of his apology, Hoekstra could have said that he had wrongly conflated several European countries with no-go zones, instead of keeping them separate in his mind, and thus had confused the Netherlands with France, with Germany, and Sweden. which, he can add, “all of which have no-go zones.”
He ought to repeat that there needs to be a discussion over just how much mayhem, rioting, crime, attacks on non-Muslims, hostility to the police or firemen, is required for any locale to be considered a “no-go” zone. “Surely no one can object,” he can disingenuously continue, “to having such a discussion.” And whatever else it does, such a public discussion will force even the pollyannas to admit that there is mayhem, rioting, increased crime, and every kind of attack on, or intimidation of, non-Muslims, in Muslim neighborhoods — and that public admission is itself of value.
As to his original remark made about the ‘‘burning” of politicians, Hoekstra should certainly have expressed his regrets, and then, instead of that sweeping mea maxima culpa he provided, he should have offered an explanation for his mistake. He could have explained that when he made his original comments, he had had in mind the murders of the politician Pim Fortuyn, and the political activist Theo van Gogh, for being “anti-Muslim,” that he had retained the image of the Jordanian pilot burned alive by ISIS earlier that same year (2015), and had gotten things confused, for which he apologizes. He could have corrected his statement thus: “Political figures in the Netherlands have been threatened, and some have been murdered, for being outspoken in their criticism of Islam. I wanted to express my anguish at this but having been struck earlier that year  by the burning to death of Captain Muath Al-Kasasbeh, I misattributed their deaths to ‘burning,’ which was, of course, both incorrect and indefensible, and for that I am sorry.”
That makes sense. For surely the most important part of Hoekstra’s remark was not how those political figures were murdered, but that they were murdered at all for merely expressing their views on Islam.
To sum up so far: yes, in the Netherlands each year there are about two thousand cars burned by Muslims, the most in Europe after France and Sweden; yes, there are places in the Netherlands, according to a report of the Dutch government itself, that could be considered No-Go Zones; no, there have been no political figures in the Netherlands who were “burned” to death, but several who were murdered for their criticism of Islam — and surely that is what matters most.
That is what Hoekstra’s apology should have included.
Finally, he can refer to that lapidary statement by John Adams, that was pointed out to Ambassador Hoekstra by one of the Dutch reporters, which was clearly meant to serve as a reproach, the wish that “honest and wise men ever rule under this roof.”
Hoekstra might have used that as justification for ending his own “apology” thus:
“I was grateful to have my attention directed by Mr. Roel Geeraedts to the quote from John Adams carved over the fireplace in the American embassy. Not everyone is aware that his son, John Quincy Adams, had an even more extensive connection to the Netherlands. He accompanied his father in diplomatic missions to the Hague between 1780 and 1782. He even studied at Leiden University. And he served as the U.S.Minister to the Netherlands from 1793 to 1796, having been appointed by George Washington. So John Quincy Adams had a close connection to the Netherlands. Deeply knowledgeable in history, he is best known for what he did, long after he was president, in the Amistad case. A firm abolitionist, Adams successfully argued in 1841 before the Supreme Court for freeing the black slaves who had killed the captain of the Amistad, the slave ship on which they were being transported, and then had tried, but failed, to have it set sail for Africa. It was a great victory by ‘Old Man Eloquent’ for the anti-slavery movement. All his life John Quincy Adams was a stout defender of liberty and human rights, an early advocate for abolitionism, an enemy of every kind of oppression. He was also our most learned president; he knew the 1,200-year history of Islamic conquest and subjugation of non-Muslims. The horror at injustice and oppression that he felt for the slaves in the Amistad case can be seen, too, in his “Essay on Turks,” which includes his studied judgment of Islam. Some may, in this squeamish age, find that essay shocking in its forthrightness, and would no doubt wish to prevent his words from becoming known, would even block them if they could. Others, however, may find his views salutary and bracing.
“Here is an excerpt, so that you may judge for yourselves:
“In the seventh century of the Christian era, a wandering Arab [i.e., Mohammed] of the lineage of Hagar, the Egyptian, combining the powers of transcendent genius, with the preternatural energy of a fanatic, and the fraudulent spirit of an impostor, proclaimed himself as a messenger from Heaven, and spread desolation and delusion over an extensive portion of the earth. Adopting from the sublime conception of the Mosaic law, the doctrine of one omnipotent God; he connected indissolubly with it, the audacious falsehood, that he was himself his prophet and apostle. Adopting from the new Revelation of Jesus, the faith and hope of immortal life, and of future retribution, he humbled it to the dust, by adapting all the rewards and sanctions of his religion to the gratification of the sexual passion.”
“He poisoned the sources of human felicity at the fountain, by degrading the condition of the female sex, and the allowance of polygamy; and he declared undistinguishing and exterminating war, as a part of his religion, against all the rest of mankind. THE ESSENCE OF HIS DOCTRINE WAS VIOLENCE AND LUST: TO EXALT THE BRUTAL OVER THE SPIRITUAL PART OF HUMAN NATURE.” [capitals in original].
“Between these two religions, thus contrasted in their characters, a war of twelve hundred years has already raged. That war is yet flagrant; nor can it cease but by the extinction of that imposture, which has been permitted by Providence to prolong the degeneracy of man. While the merciless and dissolute dogmas of the false prophet shall furnish motives to human action, there can never be peace upon earth, and good will towards men. The hand of Ishmael will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him. It is, indeed, amongst the mysterious dealings of God, that this delusion should have been suffered for so many ages, and during so many generations of human kind, to prevail over the doctrines of the meek and peaceful and benevolent Jesus…”
“The precept of the koran is, perpetual war against all who deny, that Mahomet is the prophet of God. The vanquished may purchase their lives, by the payment of tribute; the victorious may be appeased by a false and delusive promise of peace; and the faithful follower of the prophet, may submit to the imperious necessities of defeat: but the command to propagate the Moslem creed by the sword is always obligatory, when it can be made effective. The commands of the prophet may be performed alike, by fraud, or by force.”
Hoekstra could have concluded thus:
“Yes, I know people seldom express their views in such strong terms anymore. But was John Quincy Adams, the celebrated defender of black slaves, wrong in his description of Islam? Did he grasp its essence, or was he wide of the mark? That, surely, needs to be discussed, and not just here in the Netherlands, but all over the Western world.”
A final suggestion:
There is one person, an American citizen, an articulate defender of the United States, fluent in Dutch as well as English, who might have been appointed as the American ambassador to The Netherlands, and who can still be appointed, should Ambassador Hoekstra be relieved of his duties. That person is Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
Political ambition in the United States should be made of sterner stuff than that possessed by successful performers who can and are increasingly manipulating their celebrity for material or political advantage. We know from Hamlet that the theatrical performer in a dream of passion can resemble reality, forcing his soul, with tears in his eyes and broken voice, whose whole function is to get listeners to accept a pretended state of mind. Today, in the U.S. successful performers, celebrities in the entertainment world, are going further in ambitious efforts to persuade listeners that they have the right stuff for high political office or can play a significant role in pubic affairs.
We are familiar in fictional representation with the impact of a celebrities on affairs and decision making. Almost everyone admires the now iconic film Casablanca, set in 1942 during World War II, in which the central figure, the seemingly cynical Rick, pretending to be neutral in the War, and played by the charismatic Humphrey Bogart, uses his charm and strong personality to inform us that the fight for a higher purpose, the struggle against Nazism, must be waged irrespective of romantic involvements.
It is however bewildering that so many celebrities, people who gain fame and public attention and who are known for being known, in the U.S. in the form of media and sports personalities, if not as appealing as Bogart, are now invading the arena of higher politics. Individuals lacking any serious political background or familiarity with internal or external affairs are proposing themselves as candidates to be taken seriously for political office, especially for the U.S. presidency.
We have entered a period of disenchantment with established authorities, as results of elections in Western Europe and the U.S. have shown, and voters have approved the desirability of accepting outsiders from outside the normal political arena to govern. Donald Trump showed that entry into politics and success of candidates need not require previously holding a political position, although he did have executive experience in other areas of social and economic life. That entry has become more inviting for celebrities with name recognition, who are good communicators, have moving personal narratives, and portray optimism.
Enter two formidable ladies, Oprah Winfrey and Catherine Deneuve, eager in different ways to influence public opinion on issues important to them. Oprah Winfrey, the 63 year old TV host, who won the Cecil B. DeMille award, the first black woman to do so, exhibited her star power and dazzled listeners with her acceptance speech at the Golden Globes ceremony in Beverley Hills, California, on January 7, 2018.
Winfrey is on cue as a role model for politics, the current celebrity on the block, very wealthy, self made, an attractive black woman devoid of ethnic complications, but with little or no experience in political matters, though shrewd in the ways of the world. She exhibited this and the extent of her influence among other ways when after she bought 10% of the company of Weight Watchers, the value of the company increased rapidly.
However her political outlook and intellectual horizon appears somewhat more imprecise. In her acceptance speech at the ceremony, she expressed her interest in saying "something about how men and women really behave," and maintained hope for "a brighter morning, even during our darkest nights." Her rhetoric seems to embody dream and reality in a manner resembling Vincent van Gogh's timeless painting Starry Night.
Not surprisingly in this period of accusations of sexual harrasment, Winfrey called for justice in a culture "broken by brutally powerful men." Women must speak the truth to the power of these men. Though it did not propose a run for office, Winfrey's speech ignited interest in her as a potential presidential candidate. However, not all women celebrities took a similar critical view of men, and some argued a more measured and precise standpoint.
Particularly more temperate than Winfrey were the comments of Catherine Deneuve, the beautiful and wealthy French actress, an icon of French culture, the official face of Marianne, France's national symbol of liberty. She took the lead of more than 100 French women in a public letter in Le Monde in implicit criticism of the Me Too movement and its French equivalent. Her argument is that using social media to discuss sexual misconduct, the Me Too movement has gone too far by publicly prosecuting private experiences and is stifling sexual freedom. Some men she held are being unfairly punished.
Deneuve did agree that rape is a crime, but held that insistent or clumsy flirting is not a crime, nor is gallantry a chauvinist aggression. Though critics of Deneuve hold she may have been lobotomized, she holds that liberation of speech has been turned on its head.
Two powerful women have spoken, one more politically ambitious than the other. The question arises whether they can or should be taken more seriously as commentators than non-celebrities? The world of politics is not the continuation or implementation of a film or TV show. It is true that people from the world of entertainment have occasionally occupied high office in the U.S. as elsewhere as with Silvio Berlusconi in Italy. The prime example as U.S. president is Ronald Reagan, but he was prepared to some degree by having been the president of the Screen Actor's Guild and twice Governor of California.
Obviously celebrity works for material advantage. A recent amusing non political example is of the popular Canadian rapper Drake using his fame to push sales of his whiskey company, the Bourbon Virginia Black, launched in 2016, by offering shares to investors. More seriously, the U.S. is familiar with views of entertainment celebrities on public issues, like Jimmy Kimmel, late night talk host, speaking on health policy issues, or Robert de Nero, Meryl Streep, or Stephen Colbert, on a variety of issues.
This use of celebrity is not limited to the U.S. In Liberia the distinguished soccer star George Weah is elected president of the country. The movie star Joseph Estrada became mayor, senator, vice president and then president of the Phillipines, 1998-2001. Gina Lolobrigida, international sex symbol, ran briefly though unsuccessfully for office, a seat in the European Parliament.
But the number of celebrities from various fields in the U.S. interested in the highest office, much larger than ambitious counterparts abroad, is alarmingly high, some more plausible than others. In the crowded field there are already Howard Schultz, former CEO of Starbucks, Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and CEO of Facebook, Dwayne Johnson, the Rock, charismatic actor and wrestler, seriously considering a run, without naming a political party, but who wants "to serve the people and create a better environonment for them," Robert Ritchie aka Kid Rock, and Tim McGraw, the country singer interested in Tennessee politics.
Most straightforward is Kanye West, the highly successful rapper and entrepreneur who has announced twice his run for U.S. president. He confesses he has no real views on politics, but "I just have a view on humanity, on people, and on the truth." Potential voters for West might remember that at various times he has compared himself to a variety of people, past and present, including Leonardo da Vinci, Shakespeare, Adolf Hitler, and Picasso. This may appear amusing or absurd, but so once did the candidacy of the professional wrestler Jesse Ventura, who became Governor of Minnesota, 1999-2003.
An axiom of the political world is that one can campaign in poetry, but one must govern in prose, able to deal with the multitude of complex policy issues, expected and unexpected, and prepared for the inevitable compromises that are needed to get policy agreement. Common sense demands a minimum of experience in political, economic, or military office.
There are two fundamenal issues with celebrity contenders. Do they have concrete or coherent policies to deal with the multiple issues they would confront if in power, and are they sufficiently flexible politically and intellectually to deal with the unexpected which always happens?
Two recent events may illustrate the way in which rulers need to exhibit compromise, flexibility, and judgement. One was the gesture by French President Emmanuel Macron in his visit on January 9, 2018 to Beijing, where he spoke briefly in Mandarin, and presented Chinese president Xi with an 8 year old horse, Vesusius, perhaps subtly reminding the Chinese that a horse may overcome dragons. The other is the surprising change in policy of President Trump that he intends to attend the meeting in Davos, the meeting in the Swiss Alps of the world's business executive leaders, and wealthy corporate executives, which he has hitherto belittled.
One can admire the achievements of Oprah Winfrey and others in the entertainment world, but the celebrity achieved there does not warrant shaping our politics or suggest their suitability or adequacy for the highest political office in the U.S.
Guatemala, the US and Israel share important values
by Steve Hecht
The U.S. news media don’t often cover news about Guatemala, the small Central American nation on Mexico’s southern border. As a result, many Americans were surprised to learn that Guatemala recently announced it would move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
Why is Guatemala aligning itself with Israel at a time when most United Nations member states have voted to oppose the move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and regularly support resolutions hostile to the Jewish state?
Contrary to widespread speculation, Guatemala’s support for moving both the U.S. Embassy in Israel and its own embassy there to Jerusalem is not motivated by a desire to curry favor with the Trump administration. Instead, Guatemala is motivated by its own longstanding ties to Israel and it commitment – shared with Israel – to the principles of liberty and economic development.
The claim that Latin American countries bow to President Trump is patronizing. In the case of Guatemala, it inaccurately portrays President Jimmy Morales as an unprincipled beggar.
Some Latin American governments seek economic growth; others do not. The first step is the rule of law, to reverse centralization and abuse of power in favor of individual rights as the basis of society.
That path often irks political and financial elites that favor the collective over the individual and put themselves above the law. Cuba, Venezuela and their socialist allies are the most extreme examples. On the other side are Guatemala, Panama and Chile, among others.
The close relationship between Guatemala and Israel dates to the latter's founding. The 1947 proposal to recognize the state of Israel was presented and lobbied for by Guatemala’s ambassador to the United Nations, Jorge García Granados. This led to Israeli statehood, and as a result Israeli street names remember Granados and his country.
Guatemala was the first nation to open an embassy in Jerusalem (later relocated to Tel Aviv) and the second to recognize Israeli statehood, after the United States.
When President Jimmy Carter ended aid to Guatemala during its internal armed conflict with Fidel Castro's communist guerrillas, Israel provided weapons, aircraft and training that helped Guatemala defeat the communists. Israel has also granted scholarships to thousands of Guatemalans and provided technical support for projects in Guatemala.
As George Gilder posits in “The Israel Test,” the pervasive opposition to Israel comes less from prejudice against Jews than from prejudice against liberty. Israel is a thriving and innovative democracy, and that’s precisely the example the autocratic and elitist leaders of its detractors want to avoid. Guatemala shares many ideals with Israel and so embraces the Jewish state.
Morales’s foreign minister has stated that the United States didn’t ask Guatemala to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The statement is believable, given Guatemala’s long-term relations with Israel and no reversal from President Trump of President Obama's Guatemala policy. Because the United Nations has frequently voted against Guatemala, that’s a likely factor in Morales's decision to defy the institution.
President Morales has much in common with President Trump. Both political novices won on anti-establishment platforms, and they face fierce opposition that includes efforts to sabotage them and remove them from office.
The successors to Castro-supported guerrillas struggle for power by any means necessary, and their agenda is collectivism, with inevitable economic destruction and the loss of liberty.
U.N. member nations are mostly autocratic governments and socialist democracies with illiberal values. The United States, by comparison, has had a mixed bag: globalist (Obama) and nationalist (Trump). The former opposed Israel because of its historic emphasis on the individual and universal values. The latter champions those values because they produce the best results for the greatest number of people.
The U.N.-created and mostly U.S.-funded International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) and the guerrilla successors are leading the charge against Morales. These adversaries work together and have co-opted the judicial branch, which they have used to illegally block Morales's August declaration of persona non grata regarding the CICIG commissioner.
The Obama-imposed, anti-American collectivists in Guatemala – who oppose Trump and his policies – fear Morales' embassy move to Jerusalem will attract President Trump’s attention. President Trump could realize that Morales values individual liberty and economic growth – as Trump does and the collectivists don’t.
If President Trump responds fittingly and reverses Obama administration policy toward Guatemala, as he has in other areas, it would benefit the United States and Guatemala, beyond their longstanding alliances with Israel.
There are elements of realpolitik in every country’s decisions, but one can predict which countries might follow Guatemala's lead in moving their own embassies to Jerusalem. Those most likely to do so value the individual and want economic progress. They are prepared, as President Trump is, to separate from the globalist group that values the collective above the individual.
Pro-Trump supporters crash Fabian conference in protest of Sadiq Khan
As I said some time ago, and several times, word is out about that which menaces us. The authorities were pleased that they thought the EDL was diminished by their persecution of Tommy Robinson and other members. Thankfully information once known cannot be widely unknowed. Small groups are forming and their, our voices WILL be heard. I know nothing about this group; I have heard of them only in the last 30 minutes.
But they embarrassed Sadiq Khan at the Fabian's Conference, venue the Quaker Meeting House on Euston Road, this morning and while the Telegraph calls them 'pro-Trump', and I expect that is accurate, I can see that they are also English patriots, with old style London accents.
Pro-Trump supporters disrupted a conference being held in London where Mayor, Sadiq Khan was set to make a speech.
The Fabian society, a socialist organisation, had their conference interrupted after a group of pro-Trump demonstrators shouted their support for the US President. The protest was apparently against comments made by the Mayor of London about Mr Trump's plans to cancel his trip to the UK.
Mr Khan was about to start speaking to the Fabian Society in London when he was disrupted by protesters from a group called the White Pendragons who shouted pro-Trump and pro-Brexit slogans.
In a video posted on social media, one man could be heard saying: "Ladies and gentlemen, we're here today to make a non-violent, peaceful citizen's arrest."
But a protester, unperturbed by the reception, said: ""We stand under Common Law jurisdiction. If you touch us, you'll be done for common assault. Please stand back, do not touch us. We're not leaving, we've paid for a ticket."
He also accused the Fabian Society of "subverting" the constitution.
The Chairlady, Scottish left wing MP Kate Green (who tweeted in the early hours about her excitment to be meeting such luminaries as Sadiq Khan, Kier Starmer, Wes Streeting and Polly Toynbee) tried to get the demonstrators to obey her instructions and move away but they argued with her, which I don't think she is used to. In the end they left in orderly fashion when asked to by the police. One wonders why so many police had to be present at a meeting of a bunch of woolly minded, woolly bearded, woolly hatted socialists. The Fabians were very nasty once - I fear they are so again.
Trudeau's jolly progressivism and America's revival will bring back the brain drain
The Liberals are courting disaster with feel-good measures, casual appropriation of income from those who earned it to those who haven’t.
by Conrad Black
Canada voted to change governments just a year before the United States did and the countries are taking more divergent policy tracks than at any time since Pierre Trudeau warned Ronald Reagan that his proposed missile defence system was destabilizing. (It was, in the sense that the Soviet Union collapsed, the Cold War ended, and there was only one superpower left in the world.) All indications from both governments are that the NAFTA free trade talks are not going well. It is time to recognize that Canada got a very good deal in free trade with the U.S., thanks in large part to the very high esteem then-prime minister Brian Mulroney earned with president Reagan and president George H.W. Bush. He was widely criticized at the time for being a White House lap dog, but in fact, he recognized that with the United States at the height of its preeminence in the world, the only way for Canada to have any influence was to be taken seriously by Washington.
No Canadian leader ever had higher credibility with an American administration than Brian Mulroney, and Canada gained from that. Margaret Thatcher and Brian Mulroney were by far the most highly regarded foreign leaders in Washington at that time, and when Mrs. Thatcher retired in 1990, that left Mulroney without a rival. (Both spoke at Reagan’s state funeral, by request of the deceased, the first time any such occurrence had happened.)
Mindful of the problems between Trudeau and Reagan, and of the domestic political backlash against Mulroney’s popularity in the White House, Jean Chrétien was correct but not close with the Clinton administration, and visited 34 capitals before he got round to Washington. But Clinton graciously demolished the separatist argument at a conference on federalism that Chrétien convened at Mont Tremblant in October, 1999. Stephen Harper also had correct but not at all intimate relations with Washington. Justin Trudeau and Barack Obama seemed to be soulmates: they were both environment crusaders, traditional believers in redistributing money, and doffing their caps at anything that was politically correct, ever on the lookout for new categories of victims to identify and reward.
The prime minister has enjoyed an extended political honeymoon, but after 27 months, there have been few substantial policy initiatives, and $40 billion of federal deficit spending (more than double what had been forecast). In the United States, as all Canadians know, the Trump administration was elected promising a scorched earth war on the entire preceding political system: all factions of both parties, the lobbyists, Wall Street, and the politically meddlesome entertainment industry. Trump promised lower and simpler taxes, deregulation, environmental protection but with no credence attached to claims of climate change, let alone global warming, and renegotiation or withdrawal from trade deals that were net losers for the United States. There would be no more appeasement of North Korea and Iran, and no more foreign nation-building either. America’s so-called allies would be invited to pay their promised share of alliance defence costs or contemplate dropping out from under the U.S. defence umbrella.
The two leaders could scarcely be more different temperamentally or ideologically, though they seem to get on well personally. Trudeau, the emollient charmer, has enjoyed a long honeymoon. Trump, who stormed Babylon, spitting fire and swearing to “drain the swamp” and revive the flat-lined economy, is still at war with the remnants of the Bush-Clinton-Obama regimes. Where Trudeau has not been legislatively ambitious, Trump has produced comprehensive changes in tax and immigration policy, general deregulation, and an about-face on environment and energy production, and radical change in health care.
It has been a tumultuous time in which his enemies, which include most of the American media, have bandied about presidential impeachment for collusion with a foreign power, violation of the 219-year old Logan Act for unauthorized attempts to conduct foreign policy, various imputations of obstruction of justice, and recourse to the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, under which the vice-president, the majority of the cabinet, and two-thirds of each house of the Congress can suspend a president for physical or mental incapacity.
It is all nonsense, but it has been a diverting spectacle. The Republicans in Congress have fallen in behind him and he has had the most successful first year after his inauguration since Eisenhower, if not Roosevelt. The Democrats are starting to sound a little more like a loyal opposition.
Trump has had the most successful first year after his inauguration since Eisenhower, if not Roosevelt
Trudeau ran a gracious and polite campaign for humane change, without having any swamp of massive discontent to drain. Economic growth in the United States has produced two million jobs in Trump’s first year and economic growth may reach four per cent this year, meaning that there will be no reduction in the still-large gap between the size of the American and Chinese economies for the first time since the great Chinese economic drive began 35 years ago. In Canada, economic growth is forecast by the Finance ministry and the Bank of Canada at 2.1 per cent this year and 1.5 or 1.6 per cent next year. About 10 per cent of the entire Canadian population consists of public-sector employees, compared to under seven per cent in the U.S., despite that country’s immense armed forces, and in Canada, public-sector pay scales are 11 per cent above the private sector.
According to the Fraser Institute, despite federal government claims to the contrary, 81 per cent of Canadian middle-class families and 60 per cent of lower-income families (and 100 per cent of higher-income earners), are paying higher taxes than they did two years ago. Seven of 10 provinces have top income tax rates above 50 per cent, and when HST (13 per cent in Ontario) and other taxes are added, more than 70 per cent of the income of most professionals, executives, and skilled workers goes to taxation. This is a policy of high economic and political risk.
Capital investment has substantially evaporated under the McGuinty-Wynne economic miracle in Ontario, and the NDP in Alberta and the unholy NDP-Green alliance in British Columbia are pursuing the same course. Business investment in Canada is the second lowest of the 17 most advanced countries; Canada has fallen out of the list of the 10 economically freest developed countries in the world, and the top 20 per cent of Canadian income earners ($186,875 and up) will pay 64 per cent of all personal income taxes and 56 per cent of all taxes in the country. Despite its enthusiasm for infrastructure spending, the federal government, by piling on regulations and grovelling to the complaints of native groups, has sandbagged many projects the private sector would carry out, including the Energy East and Eastern Mainline pipelines, which a united country requires. (According to Assembly of First Nations national chief Perry Bellegarde, the natives are aiming to get their hands on two per cent of GDP, $40 billion, or $30,000 for every native and Métis person in Canada, making most of them higher-income families. This government’s resistance to such demands cannot be assumed.)
Canada needed a rest from the tired, autocratic, toe-curlingly serious Harper regime. But the present federal government is courting disaster with a flower-child benignity of incentivized victimhood, feel-good jolly progressivism, and unctuous, indiscriminate appropriation of income from those who earned it to those who haven’t. Continuation by the U.S. and Canadian governments on their present courses will revive the brain drain and bring the Trudeau honeymoon to a rending stop, as a Trump honeymoon finally begins.
A 26-year-old Palestinian man on Friday confessed in front of a German court to killing one person and injuring six others in a knife attack at a supermarket in the northern German city of Hamburg.
The man, identified as Ahmad A. (in Germany, according to German law - elsewhere his full name is given, which is Ahmad Alhaw)made the confession as his trial got underway.
"He admits in all charges that he is expressly guilty," his lawyer said at the start of the trial.
Prosecutors charged the rejected asylum seeker with murder and six cases of attempted murder and grievous bodily harm, saying he likely acted with an Islamist motive. But investigators did not find evidence that he was part of the "Islamic State" (IS) group.
Ahmad A. told interrogators that the crime "had some connection with events on the Temple Mount" in Jerusalem, where Israeli authorities had recently imposed access controls for Muslim worshipers, prosecutor Yasemin Tuz told the court.
"It was important to him to kill as many German nationals of the Christian faith as possible. He wanted his actions to be viewed in the context of an Islamist attack, and understood as a contribution to jihad worldwide,"
The trial is expected to last until March 2, with the six people injured in the attack invited to attend the hearings from January 26. I don't know if under the German system those dates remain now that he has confessed.
Why U.S. policy toward Iran must focus on strategy
This is a historic moment that can be seized to assist peaceful political change in Iran
by Walid Phares
President Obama’s abandonment of Iranians on the streets of Tehran in 2009 was not some random tactical mistake; it was strategic policy that sacrificed democracy in Iran in order to establish an economic and political partnership with the regime, eventually the Iran deal. The mullahs were given the opportunity to crush the popular opposition, export their military and militias to four countries in the Middle East, build a fleet of missiles, and keep their options open to produce and deploy nuclear weapons.
Today, the world is watching — again — the many demonstrations taking place in Iran. People have become increasingly angry at the economic disparities and are now calling for the fall of the regime. This is a historic moment that needs to be seized by the United States and the international community to assist peaceful political change in Iran, a change that would end half of the war on terror and set the track for peace and social prosperity. But what exactly should the U.S. do?
• Speak and speak loudly, shatter the silence. Supportive tweets by President Trump are crucial because they can be read by Iranian youth, women and workers and can serve as a morale booster to Iran’s civil society and to ethnic minorities. However, the president’s tweets should present focused content that can help allies and the Iranian opposition to understand what Washington wants and can do. Presidential tweets can be a formidable game changer if they are prioritized. So are congressional tweets from both parties.
• U.S. diplomacy should raise the bar by speaking up as Ambassador Haley is doing at the U.N. Security Council. But beyond lamenting the actions of the Iranian regime, what is needed next is the formation of a large coalition of countries ready to act at the U.N., flanked by a larger alliance of NGOs ready to take it to communities and social media. If U.S. efforts at the U.N. Security Council are vetoed by Russia, Ms. Haley should call on a meeting in support of the Iranian people. Many Arab, Muslim, Latin American, Asian, and African delegates would participate. Some East European countries may also join in. The U.S. can convene a coalition of the willing to pressure Tehran.
• The Iranian opposition — particularly those in exile — must help the U.S. and the world mobilize by uniting themselves first. The Western based Iranian groups need to stop unproductive competition, think of the now and not of who will seize power later, and appear together and in solidarity on the international scene. Keeping in mind that the real actors on the ground inside Iran, that is the protesters, are the ones to be supported in their quest for democracy. The diaspora should back them up, and once the change is achieved, let a free competition be the fair game for all to form future governments.
• U.S. policy must present a rational and strategic agenda regarding Iran’s protests. The administration’s narrative must be unified, and the White House must tightly coordinate with Congress on a comprehensive strategy. A bipartisan platform needs to be built as a basis for a U.S. national approach to the matter. We strongly suggest the appointment of an “Iran coordinator,” as long as the crisis is ongoing, to maintain cohesiveness between all U.S. government entities and to reach out to regional and international players, as well as the Iranian opposition.
• The U.S. and its international coalition must provide strategic non-military support to Iranians, including efficient means of communication, including powerful Internet access along with broadcasting abilities, both those funded by the U.S. such as radio Farda and VOA Farsi, and private sector networks. It is vital to coordinate with partners in the region to broadcast into Iran in Persian and other languages, and work with humanitarian NGOs to assist the victims of violence in Iran.
• Extend assistance to civil societies in the region, particularly in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, targeted by Iran regime’s militias, so that they can also put pressure on Tehran to cease its interventions in the region.
• Continue to block the shipping of Iranian missiles to countries overseas, including in the Middle East, starting with Yemen.
Now that Iran’s civil society has risen, it is the moral obligation of the international community not only to express solidarity with them, but also to provide support — within the limits of international law — so that Iran’s silent majority can bring modern political change to that ancient country, so cruelly ruled by dictators since 1979.
• Walid Phares, a professor of political science, served as foreign policy adviser to presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Donald Trump. He is the author of “The Lost Spring: U.S. policy in the Middle East and Catastrophes to Avoid” (St. Martin’s Press, 2014).
A 26-year-old Palestinian man goes on trial in a German court on Friday over his deadly knife rampage in a Hamburg supermarket that prosecutors believe was an Islamist attack. Ahmad Alhaw took a 20-centimetre (eight-inch) knife from the shelves of a supermarket last July, using it to kill one and wound six in the assault. He was arrested after passers-by overpowered him.
Charging him with murder, as well as six counts of attempted murder and grievous bodily harm, prosecutors said he acted with a likely Islamist motive.
"The results of the investigation show that the accused sought out his victims indiscriminately, retaliating against people, who in his view represent perpetrators of injustice targeting Muslims," said prosecutors. "It was important to him to kill as many German nationals of the Christian faith as possible. He wanted his actions to be viewed in the context of an Islamist attack, and understood as a contribution to jihad worldwide,"
Investigators, however, did not find any evidence to suggest that Alhaw was a member of the Islamic State (IS) group.
Donald Trump blames cancellation of 'working visit' to Britain on 'bad' relocation of US embassy in London
US president Donald Trump said he would not travel to the UK to open the new American embassy next month, blaming the "bad deal" to relocate it. Theresa May was the first world leader to visit Mr Trump in the White House, and the US president accepted at the time an invitation for a state visit.
The visit was due to coincide with the opening of the new US embassy, at Nine Elms on the banks of the Thames in south London. Writing on Twitter, Mr Trump said he thought the embassy's move from Grosvenor Square was a "bad deal".
Donald J. Trump ? @realDonaldTrump Reason I canceled my trip to London is that I am not a big fan of the Obama Administration having sold perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London for “peanuts,” only to build a new one in an off location for 1.2 billion dollars. Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!
Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state, will represent the US at the embassy opening.
I have never been sure about the relocation of the US Embassy to Wandsworth. On one hand its off the beaten track so making it harder for mob demonstrations to gather. How much am I prejudiced as an east Londoner by a primal dislike of venturing south of the river (here be dragons)? Is the site really more practical financially and for security reasons? It is certainly not easy walking distance to the other major embassies as Grosvenor Square was; indeed the Canadian Embassy was the other side of the square immediately opposite. I always thought that was significant.
Mr Trump had also been scheduled to hold talks with Mrs May in No 10, with February 26 and 27 marked in the diary. Downing Street had hoped to confirm the dates this week
Ed Miliband suggested on Twitter the planned protests also dissuaded the president from coming.
I have spent six months finding Sadiq Khan's efforts to deter President Trump from visiting my home city very sad. Especially as it wasn't just the wannabe Sultan of Londonistan who was cool to the point of rudeness to the leader of a country that has been a valued ally for over a century. We have had the premier of China more than once, despite their recond on human rights, not to mention Tibet. In 2007 the Queen welcomed King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and I had to endure the sight of the green sword and shahida flag fluttering all down the Mall.
There were some of us who were planning to greet President Trump in London in February and counter the nasty mob who were planning rudeness. 26th Feb was pencilled into my diary as soon as I unwrapped it Christmas morning. London is no longer a city of friendly chirpy Cockneys; it isn't really even England at all any more But England still exists outside London and certain other pockets, and there are many of us who would welcome the POTUS, if for no other reason than affection for the millions of Americans he represents.
Michael Wolff and the Death Rattle of Trumpophobia
He has shamed the sane opponents of Trump into separating from the bloodless assassin.
by Conrad Black
Having encountered Michael Wolff and having had an acidulous public exchange with him, I attest that he is an utterly odious man. He can’t write properly, has no professional integrity, and is a sociophobic mud-slinger and myth-maker. His entry into the continuing Trump controversy in its twilight proclaims that we have reached the era of the swiftly evaporating, nausea-inducing nothingburger. And yet, in what will surely prove the one civically useful thing Wolff will have done in his adult life, he has performed almost the final evisceration of the throbbing pustule of deranged Trumpophobia. His book is so overtly and egregiously false, so completely worthless as an account of what is happening in the White House, the respectable elements of Trumpophobia are finally taking to the lifeboats. They can no longer do boat drill with, and wear the same uniform as, the psychotics, the displaced crooks and decayed servitors of Clintonia, and the violent riff-raff of the extreme Left and Right.
Attempting to mind-read Michael Wolff is a task for a rare specialist of psycho-zoology, a field where I have no standing, but I suspect he thought he could play a role in administering a death blow to the Trump administration. Instead he has produced a work of such filth that he delighted and exploited the politically insane elements of anti-Trumpism, picking their pockets while leading them into the no-go zone of claiming the president is an idiot, a lunatic, and a belligerent menace. Instead of taking the headship of an accelerating dump-Trump movement, Wolff shamed the sane opponents of Trump into separating from the bloodless assassins, the Carl Bernsteins and Maxine Waterses, and into beginning to reconstitute themselves as a loyal opposition. The initial enthusiasm for the Wolff demonography, replete with polite references to Steve Bannon, formerly represented as the puppet-master of the Trump dunciad, gave way to cooler heads recognizing that the game was up.
David Brooks, a civilized and erudite commentator in the New York Times, led the way out of the inferno for the conservative anti-Trump intelligentsia. He is far from the grace of conversion, but Mr. Brooks wrote:
The anti-Trump movement, of which I’m a proud member, seems to be getting dumber. It seems to be settling into a smug fairy tale version of reality that filters out discordant information. More anti-Trumpers seem to be telling themselves a “Madness of King George” narrative: Trump is a semi-literate madman surrounded by sycophants who are morally, intellectually and psychologically inferior to people like us. I’d like to think it’s possible to be fervently anti-Trump while also not reducing everything to a fairy tale.
Bingo! Mr. Brooks is on the up escalator. When he has a little altitude, he will recognize that what he has left behind him is not a fairy tale but a fictional horror story.
Trump has mannerisms and foibles that are legitimately unattractive to many, and that is certainly adequate reason to disapprove of him, if there is a better alternative. There isn’t. And as Mr. Brooks and kindred spirits, including another old friend with whom I have parted company on this subject but retained cordial relations, Bret Stephens, now also of the New York Times, acknowledges, what this president has done is actually quite good, and a vast improvement on his post-Reagan predecessors. Wolff had his three days of national prominence, like so many other Trumpophobes who have had cameo roles, from Khizr Khan to Gloria Allred, but the anti-Trump coalition fragmented. Alan Dershowitz, a Clinton voter in the last election, warned that the effort to escalate perfervid Trumpophobia from criminalization of policy differences (as well as sour grapes over the lost election) to “psychiatrization” was even more sinister and anti-democratic. The leftist media had a few vocal psychiatrists whom they have been trotting out from time to time to claim Trump is mad, and in the last few days they swanned through parts of the lockstep circuit of CNN-MSNBC-CBS-ABC-NBC (which briefly declared itself in favor of Oprah Winfrey for president on January 8, before retracting).
But then, as is his habit, the president sortied out of what David Brooks calls the “Potemkin White House” and dealt his enemies a shattering rebuff. He had the cameras present in the cabinet room for almost an hour as he led, rather magisterially, as all admitted, a discussion of immigration issues with 22 Democratic and Republican leaders of both congressional houses, and sat himself next to leading Democrats Senator Richard Durbin and Representative Steny Hoyer. The country saw that Donald Trump is reasonable, persuasive, and knowledgeable. To prove to skeptics that miracles occur, CNN’s ne plus ultra of fake-news authorship, Wolf Blitzer, uttered words of respectful admiration for the president. On a higher plane, relatively pro-Trump commentator Mollie Hemingway wrote in the Federalist (January 8) that the effort to portray Trump as mentally unbalanced and stupid and incompetent was an attempted “coup.”
That is exactly what it is. Bernstein especially, after coasting for 45 years on his co-assassination of Richard Nixon, who despite his amply publicized shortcomings was one of the most successful presidents in the country’s history, richly deserves a severe comeuppance. His emergence from the catacombs of leftist mythology as he padded around the usually suspect television studios and the overpaid after-dinner circuit, dilating with well-rehearsed earnestness on the “constitutional crisis,” should at least require that his mouth be publicly washed out with soap. For those unversed in the pathology of the over-bemedalled Watergate veterans, Bernstein means by his conjured constitutional crisis the 25th Amendment, which in the event of a severe medical incapacity, permits the combination of the vice president, the majority of the cabinet, and two-thirds of both houses of Congress to suspend the president. That he believes there is any chance of the 25th Amendment’s being taken seriously on the existing facts shows that he (and not the president) is mad.
It is to this pitiful, water-filled, rat-infested trench of last defense that the stragglers and quasi-deserters of the Trumpophobic flat-earth resistance have retreated, and the buglers urging them forward into no-man’s land against the Trump machine guns are the two most fraudulent scoundrels in all of the American information industry: Carl Bernstein and Michael Wolff. The nasty little secret, singing joyously above the battlefield like a lark, is that Donald Trump is a very capable president, and has had the best first year of any president since Nixon, if not Eisenhower, or even FDR. To appreciate what has happened, a little perspective is needed: Trump’s candidacy was a joke; then he was unelectable, then his election could be invalidated, then he could be impeached, and then he could be removed for past harassment of women, or violating the Logan Act, or obstruction of justice, and now mental incapacity.
Donald Trump is a strange cat and an acquired taste, but he is one of the most vivid, and one of the most astoundingly successful figures of American history. I predict that a year from now, David Brooks and Bret Stephens will be at least closet supporters, even if they have sociocultural clothespins on their noses.
Commenting on President Woodrow Wilson's "long overdue " decision to enter World War I, Winston Churchill wrote that if the president had acted acted earlier it would have meant abridgement of the slaughter, sparing of the agony, prevention of ruin and catastrophe. Even if the parallel is not exact, Israeli authorities are acting to prevent further harm to their country by imposing a travel ban blocking members of organizations supporting BDS, the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement from entering the country.
Mark Twain in his book Innocents Abroad wrote that travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow mindedness. Unfortunately, as Israel has found, hostile activists can also encourage those very qualities.
The travel ban implements the intention of the law passed in March 2017 that bars entry into the country of groups that actively promote anti-Israeli boycotts. The ban is virtual recognition of the adage, "Oh, I have taken too little care of this." Israel has now taken the offense against those who are not simply rational critics of Israeli policies and actions, but who either implicitly or explicitly refuse to acknowledge the legitimacy of the State of Israel or seek its elimination.
By banning any foreign activist who has knowingly signed a public call to boycott Israel or pledged to take part in a boycott, Israel is preventing potential harm to its citizens.
On January 7, 2018 Israel issued a ban on 20 world wide organizations, including 11 European and six U.S. groups, that are involved and active in BDS activities. They include the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Code Pink, the U.S. based Jewish Voice for Peace, the UK based Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, of which Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is a patron, the British group War on Want, and BDS organizations in France, Italy, Norway,and the Netherlands.
It is worth looking, if only as illustration of hypocrisy, at War on Want, an organization founded in 1951 in London as an anti-poverty charity. It supported liberation movements in Africa; for a time the anti-Israeli George Galloway was its general secretary though during that time there were accounting irregularities, and reports were "materially misstated." In 2006, War on Want launched its Palestinian Rights movement and advocated BDS, calling for an embargo on arms to Israel.
One controversial incident resulting from this policy of banning had occured in 2016 when Isabel Phiri, a Malawi citizen living in Switzerland, the assistant General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, WCC, in Geneva and former professor of African theology in South Africa, was refused a visa by Israel. Israeli authorities maintained she has been involved in BDS, and it was the first time a foreign national has been refused for that reason. Though the WCC has not formally called for an outright boycott against Israel, it believes that the "Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories is a tragedy for the Palestinian occupied."
Let us be straightforward on this controversial issue. The argument against the travel ban is that it violates freedom of expression, and of course to some extent this is true in a democratic country such as Israel. The problem with this is that not only does the freedom to call for a boycott exists everywhere, but that much of the expression on Israel is based on falsehood and misrepresentations and are based on the Palestinian Narrative of Victimhood.
Taking two examples illustrates the point. The AFSC that won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1947, announced extravagantly on January 8, 2018 that "for 51 years Israel has denied Palestinians in the occupied territories their fundamental human rights in defiance of international law." Or the absurdly disproportionate announcement issued on February 13, 2015 by over 100 British artists, including some well known personalities such as film directors Ken Loach and Mike Leigh, explaining their cultural boycott of Israel as based on the fact that "Palestinians have enjoyed no respite from Israel's unrelenting attack on their land, their livelihood, their right to political existence."
The BDS campaign calls for economic, cultural, and academic boycotts against the State of Israel and Israeli citizens. But its real intention is not to advocate measures to alleviate the condition of Palestinians but to implement the Palestinian campaign for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel mainly founded by Omar Barghouti to refuse to recognize Israel as a legitimate state.
What is important is that boycott activity is counterproductive, against peace. It results in increasing hatred, and as Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has remarked it symbolizes all that stands in the way of dialogue, debate and progress. It is against cooperation towards a peaceful solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
A reminder of the past may be helpfull in understanding the Israel travel ban. On November 9-10, 1938 Kristallnacht occurred in German cities, with a pogram against Jews, involving murders, beatings, destruction of Jewish property , business, and synagogues. At the core and the call to German citizens was boycott of Jews in all forms.
Obviously, actions such as calling for Israel to be excluded from international oganzations such as the world soccer governing body FIFA and the insistent commands by rock star Roger Waters to fellow performers not to perform in Tel Aviv are not on a par with the Nazi Holocaust, but it would be foolish to ignore the implications of BDS. Implicitly if not explicitly it promotes antisemitism as well as tolerating terrorist activity against Israel.
It does this by not criticizing the funds that the Palestinian Authority, PA, which by its Martyr's Fund gives to terrorists in Israeli prisons or to the families of those terrorists killed by Israel. It is encouraging that the U.S. Senate by the Taylor Force bill is considering the issue in an appropriate way. Named after the American citizen, a former U.S. army officer and a Vanderbilt University student, murdered in March 2016 by a Palestinian terrorist in the West Bank, the Taylor Force Act introduced in 2016 aims to stop all U.S. economic aid to the PA as long as it continues to pay those salaries to terrorists and families.
Israel is proposing to prevent foreign supporters of BDS from entering Israel, although ministers have the right to deny individuals entry on a case by case basis, as in the case of Omar Barghouti , one of the founders of BDS, who is married to an Israeli citizen of Palestinian origin. On January 7, 2018, Israel announced it plans to establish a taskforce to identify the hundreds of activists already in Israel and deport or deny entry to individuals who support the BDS.
The Israeli travel ban might be considered in the context of the continuing war on Jews. It is three years since Hyper Cache, the Jewish Paris supermarket was attacked by terrorists when four were killed. Coinciding with the Israeli travel ban, on January 9, 2018, an arson attack burnt down a French kosher grocery store in Creteil, suburb of Paris, and the store was completly gutted by fire. Already, six days earlier two stores in the area were targeted with paintings of swastikas. Hatred and antisemitism: this is the real essence of the boycott of Israel and Jews.
I did not watch the Golden Globe awards show, thus, I did not catch Oprah Winfrey's speech. Only today have I taken the time to watch it. Without nit-picking the content, I think we can all agree it was a powerful speech. She spoke without notes or a teleprompter and showed that she is a gifted public speaker.
I find it somewhat-though not altogether- curious that the left is rising up and declaring Winfrey to be the 2020 Democrat presidential candidate. One poll I saw today declares that she leads President Trump 48%-38%.
To which I say show me a great speaker, and I will show you-a great speaker. History is full of great public speakers who led their nations to disaster. Adolf Hitler was a great speaker who mesmerized millions of Germans. Josef Goebbels was an even greater speaker because he was more gifted with the language than Hitler and had a speaker's voice. I could add Fidel Castro and Benito Mussolini as gifted speakers. It didn't make any of them great men in the positive sense.
I am not in any way comparing Ms. Winfrey to the above people. Ms. Winfrey, I am sure, is a perfectly honorable person with good intentions. I doubt, however, that her great speaking skills would translate into a great president. Here I bring up former President Barack Obama. I would not lump him together with the above names either. However, in my view, Obama's undeniable speaking skills did not translate into him being a great president. Speaking as a conservative and a patriot, I believe he was a very bad president. I recall the speech he gave at the 2004 Democrat convention when he was a still-obscure Illinois politician running for the US Senate. His speech was a spell-binder and did not betray him as a leftist radical. Instantly, people took that speech and spoke of him as a future presidential candidate. Four years later, it happened and he was elected. Great speech-lousy president.
That doesn't mean I am dismissing Ms Winfrey as a presidential candidate, silly as it might seem. My first reflex is to ask, "Why not Ellen DeGeneres? Why not Barbra Streisand? Why not Tom Brady?" The problem is that we have changed the boundaries in electing Donald Trump. Who would have imagined a couple of years ago that we would elect a famous real estate man as president? But it happened, and now we can no longer dismiss someone like Oprah Winfrey. Can you imagine Winfrey traveling the country and making campaign speeches like that? It worked for Obama, and now that we no longer insist that our presidents come from the ranks of politicians, it just might work for Winfrey.
Full disclosure: I voted for Trump, and I support his agenda (while I often cringe at his style). I am sure that I could not vote for Winfrey because I would not support her agenda, which surely is liberal. What I am saying is this: Anything can happen.
Hamas praised a shooting attack near Nablus, in which 35-year-old Rabbi Raziel Shevach (left) was killed, calling it “heroic.” Shevach, who was a resident of the Havat Gilad outpost in the West Bank, came under fire on Tuesday evening while driving his car on Route 60, according to the IDF. He later died at a hospital in Kfar Saba.
“Hamas blesses the heroic Nablus operation that comes as a result of the Zionist occupation’s violations and crimes at the expense of our people in the West Bank, Jerusalem and al-Aksa Mosque,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in statement posted on the Islamist group’s official website on Tuesday. Barhoum added that the shooting attack is “an affirmation that our Palestinian people’s compass is Jerusalem and al-Aksa Mosque and that its choice is the resistance.”
Hamas’s armed wing, Izzadin Kassam, also spoke highly of the shooting attack.
“The Nablus operation is the first practical response with fire to remind the enemy’s leaders and those who support them that what you fear is coming,” its spokesman Abu Obeida said, without clarifying.
It is not clear who planned and carried out the shooting attack.
In October 2016 UNESCO plunged to new depths, adopting a resolution that, identifying Israel as the Occupying Power, obliterates the 3,000 year bond between Judaism and Jerusalem and splices the Christian connection to its Judaic source. As if naming the Temple Mount "Al-Haram al-sharif" could succeed where a century of Islamic violence has failed to annihilate Israeli sovereignty. Pitiful UNESCO. The resolution is a pornographic scrawl on a bathroom wall
The intrepid, dashing filmmaker Pierre Rehov has composed a crushing riposte to UNESCO negationists. Unveiling Jerusalem is a concise, incisive, supremely cinematographic demonstration of the reality of Jerusalem "the rebellious, the prophetic, the conquered..." Visually striking, energetically paced, graphically insightful, the film goes beyond a compelling argument for Israeli sovereignty and approaches the broader question of coexistence between Israel and the Palestinians, between Islam and the Other. How do you share a religious site, a city, a region with people that utter outlandish claims in support of outworn hopes of conquest?
Smartly captured by Rehov's camera, Shakh Omar Awadallah Kiswami, director of Al Aqsa mosque; Yussuf Natseh, Director of Islamic archeology; Mahmud Al Habbash, PA Minister of Religious Affairs; and an Al Aqsa mosque imam, betraying their albeit limited intelligence, outdo each other in preposterous statements. They praise the UNESCO decision confirming the Muslims' divine right to Haram al-Sharif, granted in the Quran and affirmed by Allah for 1400 years. Haram al Sharif and the Buraq wall [Kotel or Western Wall] are all purely Islamic assets. There is no sign of any Jewish temple on the so-called Temple Mount, no sign of any Christian presence. The whole area [Temple Mount] is al Aqsa, it is holy only for Muslims. "Others can choose their own places of worship without competing or trying to take this place which God and UNESCO both agree that it belongs only to Muslims." Since 1967 Jews have been excavating...they haven't found a shred of evidence of the "alleged temple." Al Aqsa Director Kiswami, standing straight and tall in his robes of dignity, his mind coiffed with a two-tone turban, spills out the ultimate truth: When Mohamed came, the mosques were already there. The first mosque (in Mecca) was built by Adam. The second (al Aqsa) came 40 years later, so it was built either by Adam or one of his sons. The PA Minister of religious affairs declares "they are purely Islamic and Palestinian assets." And the allegedly moderate PA president for life, Mahmoud Abbas splatters and blusters blessings on every drop of blood shed for Jerusalem. Jerusalem is ours, Al Aqsa is ours, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is ours...they [Jews] must not defile al Aqsa with their filthy feet.
These grotesque claims pronounced with guttural spitfire are skillfully interwoven with elements of archeological, historical, and theological evidence of the existence of the first and second temples. Genocidal temple denial is juxtaposed with passages from Flavius Josephus, excerpts from Islamic documents attesting to the existence of the temples, 3-D animations of the temples accompanied by words of praise for their sumptuous beauty, and artefacts from small shekels to huge vessels and cornices with Hebrew inscriptions that speak for themselves. Patient, painstaking labor, honest unbiased study, tireless devotion and exceptional skills compose, from beginning to end of this captivating film, the reality of Jerusalem based on concrete evidence, as rational human beings can perceive it.
Is Jerusalem the subject of a knotty debate between equally valid though conflicting interests? How can you debate with an "authority" who says the mosque was built by Adam? How can you negotiate with a political leader that declares "it is all ours and always has been"? We are reminded that then President Clinton was dumbfounded when Yasser Arafat claimed, at the July 2000 Camp David talks, that there never was a Jewish temple on the Temple Mount. The peacemaking American president had naively, perhaps stubbornly, believed that his role was to hash out competing real estate claims!
Unveiling Jerusalem exposes, by the sum greater than the whole of its parts, the fatal error of peace talks, peace process, two-state solution, and a two-faced Jerusalem capital. Rational pragmatic solutions cannot come from the minds of these authorities that make up the story as they go along, tell bald-faced lies, deny the evidence of history, artefacts, and the writings of their own people. Exterminationist Jew-hater Haj Amin Husseini nevertheless wrote that the existence of Solomon's temple is beyond dispute. The Temple Mount is labeled "Mount Moriah" on maps drafted by Jordanian authorities during their illegal occupation of Jerusalem. Tacitus cautioned Titus against destroying Herod's magnificent temple renowned throughout the civilized world.
Unveiling Jerusalem is punctuated by 3-D animations of Solomon's and Herod's temples, while treasures of that ancient past re-emerge in the foreground as patient archeologists sift through tons of dirt dumped when the Waqf excavated the foundations of Al Aqsa to build a hug underground mosque- a concrete action of replacement theology. MK Avi Dichter smiles: "From this criminal disaster we are making a treasure."
The rich and varied iconography -Persian miniatures, illuminated manuscripts, period documents, archive photos- is astutely incrusted in footage of interviews, interwoven with scenes of archeological digs, a film about Jesus, shabab violence at Al Aqsa mosque, the beauties of modern day Jerusalem... Words become images. Mordechai Kedar, with his jovial good sense and thorough knowledge of Arabic and Islam, restores geographical accuracy to tales of Mohamed's journey from the closer mosque to the further mosque... in the Arabian Peninsula... nowhere near 1erusalem. Later, in a period of internecine conflict, the Umayyads made Jerusalem a temporary substitute for pilgrims from Damascus forbidden to enter Mecca. Using the same technique we observe today, of making up the story as they go along, they gave Jerusalem a veneer of sanctity by situating the prophet's (dreamed) night journey there. From the Caliph Umar, led to the Temple Mount by a Jewish convert, to the present day purveyors of temple denial, the mechanism of mimetic jealousy works its destructive curse.
Reverend Dr. Petra Heldt pinpoints flare ups of incendiary Temple denial: in the 7th century Muslim conquest of Jerusalem, in 1948 with the establishment of the State of Israel, in the 1990s to the present day. These periods of infatuation alternate with centuries of neglect. Black & white photos from 1966 show the Dome of the Rock plaza overgrown with weeds. Reverend Heldt and the Greek Orthodox priest Gabriel Naddaf embrace the ties that bind Judaism to Jerusalem and Christianity to Judaism. They, along with all of the experts that appear in the film, acknowledge multiple connections to Jerusalem, from paganism through successive conquests, not excluding Islam, without diluting Jewish preeminence. Only under Jewish sovereignty can other religions enjoy their share of Jerusalem's sanctity. Avi Dichter concludes: They want to make it like Mecca, forbidden to non-Muslims. Jerusalem will remain under Israeli sovereignty. To think Israel will give it over to be labelled al Aqsa... No, that's not going to work.
By its talented visual composition, Unveiling Jerusalem goes beyond the qualities of the elegant filmed essay. Astute use of graphic material, skillful cutting and editing, and a sustained rhythm give a high concentration of information in a short time span, with great clarity that makes it possible to assimilate on first viewing, but invites repeated passages that yield even greater comprehension. This is definitely a film to buy, to own, to offer as a gift. And to place, somehow, in the hands of the foolish officials and opinion-makers that stumble blindly through veils of darkness.
Unveiling Jerusalem is a stunning rebuke to UNESCO and to all nations that voted for or did not vote against the shameful resolution. We often hear that it's no use presenting the facts to people who do not base their opinions on facts. Pierre Rehov's film is a brilliant demonstration of how it can be done effectively. By giving voice to the forces that contradict the facts, Unveiling Jerusalem shows that UNESCO is siding with the evil clownery of enemies of the civilization the organization purports to defend. The logical next step would be a resolution declaring that the Al Aqsa Mosque was built by Adam... or one of his sons.
Where was one to start trying to educate an adult student who thought the Great Depression began in the 1960s; who was unable to distinguish between the First and Second World Wars; who thought that Moscow was the capital of Missouri; who was convinced the native peoples crossed the Bering Strait in the 1940s (no less amazing, she believed the Bering Strait was the Panama Canal); who claimed that Christ’s parables were about “betting and gamibeling and explaining differently in alot of discussion”; who asserted that “analising a book one must lick your way to the center of the Tootsie Roll-Pop”; who reading Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose declared “This book is all about mid-evil times and the monk-persons in ministories”; who thought that Canada separated from the United States during the Civil War; who discovered that “the main characters in the story are talking among themselves by using language”; who called John Dryden, who became England’s first Poet Laureate in 1688, “a great poet and a great goaltender,” confusing him with Ken Dryden of the Montreal Canadiens; who thought Lawrence of Arabia was a Renaissance painter; who wrote that “Christ was at the stake and had nails in certain places”; who claimed that Alexander Pope “is the head honcho of the catholic church”; or who averred, in a paper on George Orwell’s Animal Farm, that “George Orwin, arthur of The Animal Firm, was heavily into natur.” You can’t make this stuff up. Responding to a brilliant reading and lecture by Doug Jones, a celebrated Canadian poet and critic I had invited to my class, many students fell asleep. Another said: “It was a crucification.” My files contain innumerable such solecisms -- booklets crammed full of them.