Saturday, 16 December 2017
As Trump boldly fires up American success, Canada stumbles along weakly
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Canadians should not be complacent about our tax rates and structure, nor about the state of our social services.

by Conrad Black

The year ends with Canada in an oddly satisfied state of mind, politically. The United States is about to pass a tax cut and simplification bill that will excuse a majority of Americans from personal income tax altogether, enable 80 per cent of income tax payers to file their returns on a post card, reduce the top personal rate to 37 per cent and the corporate rate to 21 per cent. No attention should be paid to Democratic claims that it is a giveaway to the rich — most middle class and lower class families would see significant tax relief under the plan. Predictions of deficit increases are also bunk. The main source of pessimism, the Congressional Budget Office, has not predicted anything accurately since the Eisenhower administration, and is basing its gloom on GDP growth at half what the Federal reserve predicts. If the Fed is right, the annual deficit will be eliminated in less than three years and the national debt will start to shrink as a share of GDP. GDP growth should be four per cent, generating nearly a trillion dollars of additional production and transactions with minimal inflation next year. This will effectively end the annual narrowing of the gap between the United States and China as the world’s two largest economies. It will reinvigorate the ethos and esprit of capitalism and bury the self-serving Obaman defeatist nonsense that one per cent annual economic growth and an ever-rising percentage of the population on some form of state benefit is the new normal. It will be the past abnormal.

Usually, this level of American economic activity backs very favourably into Canada. To some extent this positive influence may be mitigated by comparatively disadvantageous Canadian tax rates, which normally torques up the departure to the U.S. of a regrettable number of highly educated and prosperous Canadians. It is also possible that trade disagreements could somewhat mitigate the overflow of American prosperity into this country. The level of corruption and highly publicized violence in the United States can be relied upon to dissuade many Canadians who might otherwise contemplate moving, but avarice should not be underestimated as a motivation and life is very agreeable and not overly taxed for at least 70 per cent of Americans.

Trump will reinvigorate the ethos and esprit of capitalism

As has been predicted in this space before, the allegations of Russian collusion with the Trump campaign in the last election are fatuous — the investigation was nonsense from the beginning, was petulantly instigated by the now revealed liar James Comey when he was fired for cause as director of the FBI, has been riddled with Trumpophobic militants, and is, despite all, going to exonerate the president from anything to do with colluding with Russia in the election. Whatever his other foibles, Trump’s strategy of full co-operation with special counsel Robert Mueller will be vindicated, as Mueller and his embattled team are not seeking any more interviews with White House personnel.

This and other manifestations of the post-Watergate tendency to criminalize policy differences in the United States creates an extremely contentious ambiance in U.S. politics. But it could hardly be otherwise, given that what is at stake is a struggle between two sharply different views of the American future — the Obama-Clinton view of a lumpenproletariat sustained by the social safety network and half-sedated with Medicaid-provided tranquilizers, with little economic growth, high taxes, generous breaks for the rich Wall Street, Hollywood, and Silicon Valley champions of the regime, and a foreign policy of appeasement; and the Trump desire for popular capitalism, low taxes for less advantaged and middle income Americans, an end to pandering to special interest victim-groups, unitary Americanism, and a defined national interest that does not over-reach but is strenuously maintained. In such a contest, there is little room for the traditional centre of interchangeable candidates of the Bush-Romney-McCain-Carter-Mondale school. But nor is either option an extreme — Obama, Trump, and the Clintons are all well within the large ideological gulf between Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz. Trump will defeat his present opponents but his successor, of whichever party, will be a less startling personality and in policy terms, somewhere between Trump and the Clintons, and opinion will shift back toward the centre.

Whatever anyone thinks of Donald Trump or his policies, he has drastically deregulated, facilitated increased energy production and reduced petroleum imports (down to a third of the country’s needs and falling steadily), and reinforced the incentive economy; and he is setting out a clear range of policies. The reduction of air and water pollution is retained, but the suppositions of man-created warming or climate change is a matter of agnostic skepticism. Non-unionized schools locally directed are being favoured over the state system that has degenerated halfway towards a virtual daycare standard of instruction. The tax bill sharply reduces the deductibility of state income taxes from federally taxable income, so states who elect incompetent governments like those of the Cuomos in New York and Jerry Brown in California (coincidentally Democrats), will pay for it in their taxes. And the pending bill will lightly tax income on the endowments of immense, flaccid American universities (that have often ceased to be centres of free thought and expression encouraging vigorous discussion of a wide variety of viewpoints).

Trump will defeat his present opponents, but his successor will be a less startling personality

These events will have their consequences in this country beyond fluctuations of the trans-border brain drain. This country’s federal deficit is too high, and wildly beyond the government’s promises of comparative frugality. The current version of the proposed small business tax is only marginally preferable to the insane original bill presented for quick passage in the summer. (The Senate of Canada has done itself proud and shown its value by proposing that the whole concept of monitoring the legitimacy of “income-sprinkling” within family businesses by federal tax inspectors, for the purpose of collecting less than $200 million dollars a year for a government running an annual deficit of almost $18 billion, be abandoned. The Senate national finance committee was also right to call for a complete review and overhaul of the federal tax system as was conducted by the Carter Commission of 1966.) Canadians should not be complacent about our tax rates and structure, nor about the state of social services. As the Wall Street Journal pointed out in a prominent editorial on Wednesday, our health-care system isn’t working. Citing the Fraser Institute, it showed its readers that a single-payer system leads to impossible delays, and caused 63,500 Canadians to seek health care outside Canada last year, as more than a million Canadians are now awaiting doctor-recommended treatment, and that there is a 21-week average delay between referral by a general practitioner and specialist treatment. “The lesson,” the editorial noted, “is that Canada hasn’t repealed the basic law of economics that scarce resources must be rationed by price or time… Free treatment isn’t much good if it’s not available.”

The very complex American political system is struggling with health-care reform, and Americans know that their system is too expensive and is inadequate for probably a fifth of their population. The Republicans will likely repeal the coercive element of Obamacare in the current tax bill, but that is just a start. Canada should begin improving its system by creating the conditions that produce and retain more doctors. (Canada is 27th in the world in doctors per capita; if we were in the top five and made a few tweaks to the system, we would cut waiting periods by two thirds.)

A merry Christmas and happy 2018 to everyone, and let’s spend less of 2018 staring slack-jawed at our American neighbours, deluging money wastefully on poorly considered boondoggles for native people and climate change, and get serious about putting our own house in order.

First published in the National Post.

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Posted on 12/16/2017 8:13 AM by Conrad Black
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Saturday, 16 December 2017
Extremists target Ofsted over faith schools ruling
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From The Times, The Telegraph and the Daily Mail

The chief inspector of schools has accused hard-left activists and religious extremists of trying to stop her clampdown on illegal Muslim schools with a campaign of intimidation. Amanda Spielman revealed that one of Ofsted’s regional offices has been forced to take additional security measures after inspectors were repeatedly sent extreme Islamic literature.

Amanda Spielman said she had been the victim of some "pretty venomous stuff", receiving "nasty tweets" and threatening emails from what she believed to be a "mixture of Islamic extremists and the hard left".

She told The Times: "I'm not easily bruised. I don't fall over when I see a load of nasty tweets pointed at me but there has been some pretty venomous stuff. I had an email, which was the most threatening one, which was along the lines of 'We know where you live and we can get you any time we want to'. . . It’s a mixture of Islamic extremists and the hard left but if we let ourselves be intimidated out of discussing these issues it’s children who will suffer.”

References to her private home address in London, which could be found online, were subsequently removed as a precaution.

In an interview with The Times, Ms Spielman said that confronting unregistered faith schools, many but not all of them serving poor Muslim communities, had, against her expectations, proved the toughest part of her role as Ofsted’s chief inspector, which she began in January.

This week Ofsted had to hire security for one of its regional offices that has been heavily involved in work concerning radicalisation. In one incident at an unregistered East London Islamic school, Ofsted inspectors were called ‘Britain First paedophiles’ before being accused of performing sex acts in order to get their jobs. The police are now taking action against staff at the school for breach of the peace.

A head teacher at another faith school phoned parents during an Ofsted visit to say inspectors were asking the children if they were gay. The head then asked whether the inspection should proceed after telling inspectors that angry parents were lining up outside the school.

She is concerned by the number of primary schools that include the hijab as part of their uniforms. “Girls are made to think, ‘Am I immodest if I’m not wearing one?’ at an age when a child shouldn’t have to worry about being modest,” she explains.

Some people are willing to turn a blind eye to what is going on because they fear being targeted themselves. “You really notice that people who say to you privately that you’re doing absolutely the right thing very rarely want to stick their heads above the parapet on the sensitive stuff,” Ms Spielman says.

Inspectors had found private faith schools where children did not learn English and British values were “meaningless”, she said. Her report said schools were "deliberately choosing" not to meet standards due to the tensions between legal requirements and community expectations.

The chief inspector has no intention of being silenced. As she flicks through a dossier of material found in Islamic schools, she points to the cover of a book called Women who Deserve to go to Hell, filed next to a text on the “rights of beating women”.

Ofsted said: ‘Amanda Spielman is determined to root out unregistered schools wherever they may be operating. Illegal schools pose a real a risk to pupils’ safety and leaves them vulnerable to radicalisation. That is why, where we find them, we do everything possible to make sure they are closed and that the children are quickly transferred to registered schools.’

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Posted on 12/16/2017 5:18 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Friday, 15 December 2017
Israel and America
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Together Again

by G. Murphy Donovan

Say what you will about Donald Trump, but beyond ego, bluster, and stable manners; you will often find the courage of truth, a kind of candor too painful to ignore. The recent “official” recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is a dramatic example of Trumpian instinct or prescience.

Never mind that Jerusalem has been the geographic and emotional heart of Judaism for three millennia. Never mind that Jerusalem and the Temple Mount were taken by Calif Omar in 628 AD by conquest. Never mind that Mohamed’s alleged “ascension” from the Temple Mount is the most transparent example of “miraculous” cultural appropriation in the history of religious fiction.

Never mind that Mohamed never set foot on “Al Quds”. Never mind that Jerusalem is mentioned over 300 times in the Old Testament but not once in the Koran. Never mind also the knee-jerk angst of anti-Semites worldwide to the mere presence of Jews in Jerusalem today.

Just as Muslim conquest took “Al Quds” in the 7th Century, the IDF retook Jerusalem in 1967. Losing a war, then or today, has consequences.

Indeed, the modern state of Israel is now the Gates of Vienna once removed. Israel is the line-in-the-sand that defies contemporary revisionism and recidivism, fictions about Mohamed and toxic visions of global jihad.

          

What we now know to be culture, indeed civilization, is possible to imagine without Islam, but not possible to imagine without the Hebrew diaspora and the modern righteous state of Israel. We say righteous because if there were ever a people who earned a homeland, freedom, democracy, and recognition; it is the Jew. Indeed, Israel is a cultural beacon in the long night of Muslim cultural pathology that now metastasizes universally as the Ummah.

What Muslim sects, Shia and Sunni, could not win in war is now pursued through 50 years of terror. Palestine is a front line Arab tribal surrogate, not a state. The “two-state” chimera is an illusion, not an option.

What rational observer really believes that the solution to global Islamic terror is another Muslim terror state – at the UN or in the heart of Israel?

If religious polemics can be thought of as a battle for souls, no religion is more hostile to Jews, Christians, indeed reform or democracy than contemporary Mohamedism. A simple arbitrary charge of “unislamic” could be the occasion for a fatwa or beheading.

Flames of anti-Semitic terror are today blown white-hot by Shia and Sunni clerics and politicians alike.

Nevertheless, if the past is prologue, the children of Abraham are still on the right side of progress and history. And if truth, achievement, and morality are virtues, pound for pound, Jews have been fighting above their weight since Jesus Christ celebrated his bar mitzvah.

So what gives a parvenu like Trump the insight to find value in a political signal that the rest of the world excoriates? Surely the Donald is no scholar, historian, or philosopher.

Shooting from the mouth is not reflection.

Trump might simply be the categorical imperative with a comb-over, a strategic Queens street creature with the vision and moxie to just “do the right thing.”

He was swept into office by political instincts and the wisdom of crowds. He was probably more surprised than we. The “basket of deplorables” now has every right to expect their choice to deliver.

All the while, Trump haters exhibit two fatal flaws; excess and underestimates. With both, Trump critics run the risk of creating another victim or, better still, a populist saint.

Beyond the gutter brawl that passes for liberal politics today, history and fact conspire to validate Trump’s instincts: Washington is a swamp, the EU and NATO are weak sisters, Democrats did try to rig the last election, Hillary should be in jail, Putin is a strawman, and the Mueller inquisition is a partisan witch hunt, a transparent inside-the-Beltway campaign to undo an election. In sum, fake news is a thing.

Adding insult to augury, the usual suspects continue to live up to the worst of Trump’s allegations.

Say what you will about Trumps rhetoric or motives, but results to date speak for themselves. Trump beat a host of establishment Republicans like a drum; he then thumped leftist fixers in the general election. Call that poetic justice.

Throughout, he humiliated a dishonest biased media that was in the bag for Mrs. Clinton then and now. And today, Donald Trump presides over an American economy that is thriving. What’s not to like?

Trump now takes the same swagger that put him in the Oval Office to the foreign policy arena. Defying the usual suspects, Islam’s apologists, and a lactating US State Department; the President is all-in with Israel.

Shalom! Serendipity strikes again.

It’s Trump and Netanyahu against the conventional “wisdom,” against the two staters, against the anti-Semites, and against the EU hermaphrodites of globalism. Indeed, they are two against the world.

The Donald and Bebe are fighting above their weight class with relish. What’s not to like?

Beyond serendipity, there are facts and philosophical traditions to validate Trump’s instincts, beliefs that underwrite America and Israel as natural, permanent allies.

Trump may remember little about his Scottish antecedents. It doesn’t matter. He may have read Hume and Smith (Hamilton too) at Fordham or Wharton. That doesn’t matter either. Trump seems to have absorbed the verities of the Anglo/Scott/American Enlightenment by osmosis. His actions speak volumes.

The president is by any definition a mercantile pragmatist, a chap who knows that emotional appeals and romantic Utopians put no falafel in the oil and no bangers on the grill. Wishful thinking is not strategy.

The business of any business, or entrepreneurial nation for that matter, is success, concrete achievements and measurable results; without which the pieties of religion, social justice, and inclusion are bravo sierra. In this, we are not Roman so much as we are Jewish.

Jewish communities are still with us today because they honor family, survival, tradition, education, reform, democracy, justice, science, art, and entrepreneurship.

Jewish culture thrives today because it works. It works, not because it is godly or perfect, but because it is Talmudic; creative, reflective, adaptive, and tolerant. Not perfect, but ‘pretty’ good compared to the neighbors.

The same utilitarian values that made America great have made 21st Century Israel possible. The grand irony of modern politics is that these truths are again made self-evident by a buccaneer Presbyterian like Donald Trump.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!

God still works in mysterious ways.

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The author is an erstwhile Irish Catholic reprobate from the East Bronx. He writes regularly about the politics of national security, occasionally about New York or baked goods.

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Posted on 12/15/2017 4:42 AM by G. Murphy Donovan
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Friday, 15 December 2017
Nazareth cancels Christmas celebrations over Trump's Israel decision
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From Malta Independent

US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has caused a backlash in the region, particularly among Muslims, and the reaction's reverberated to Nazareth, where the town's mayor, Ali Salam, announced Thursday that all planned Christmas events would be canceled.

 “Our identity and faith cannot be bargained,” Salam, a Muslim, said, according to 10 News. “[Trump’s] decision has taken away the joy of the holiday and we will cancel the festivities this year.”

However The Jerusalem Post reports that Ali Salam has considered, or reconsidered the shekels involved

“Our message is we love Jerusalem, we’ll never abandon you under any circumstances,” he said at a press conference in which he announced that singing performances on outdoor stages that are normally part of Nazareth’s Christmas Market would be canceled. But he also noted that “there are commercial interests of the city and we are used to hundreds of thousands coming for this season.”

After the press conference, it was erroneously reported that Salam had canceled the Christmas Market. But, according to the Al-Arab website, the municipality issued a statement denying this. It said that “the cancellation only applies to artistic performances on stages,” and that outdoor stalls would remain, the lighting of the Christmas tree will take place Sunday as scheduled, programs in the Old City will proceed, and a parade will be held on December 23.

Christmas season in Nazareth is the season of good and blessing and we are completely vigilant that commercial interests won’t be damaged,” the statement said.

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Posted on 12/15/2017 4:02 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Thursday, 14 December 2017
Media’s Unhinged Attacks on Trump Recall the Treatment of Nixon
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Both presidents inspired a demented fury against them.

by Conrad Black

In this season of frenzied liberal assault on the incumbent president and the almost uniform view of the long-standing bipartisan political elite of the United States that President Trump is a maniac, any falsehood about him or act of obstruction is justified in damaging his presidency, impairing his ability to govern, and bringing forward the swiftest possible return of the status quo ante-Trump. It is now routine for the principal outlets of media mythmaking to invoke the legacy of Richard Nixon confected by his accusers of long ago. The particular myth that has for several years been the preferred falsehood to resurrect and hurl at Mr. Nixon as if it were a law of Archimedes is that he sabotaged the Vietnam peace talks when he was a presidential candidate in 1968. Journeyman liberal historian Robert Dallek in the preface to his recent biography of Franklin D. Roosevelt stated in passing as indisputable fact unworthy of elaboration that Richard Nixon had violated the Logan Act of 1799 at the end of the 1968 presidential election campaign when he secretly advised the government of South Vietnam to abstain from cooperating with President Johnson’s peace initiative.        

On December 4, the New York Times — in an editorial unequivocally stating that President Trump’s advisers had violated the Logan Act by undermining the foreign policy of the sitting U.S. president in his contacts with the Russians — invoked this left-wing truism about Nixon as if citing a clause of the Constitution that had not been challenged for centuries. It stated: “Richard Nixon once again proves useful. In the closing days of the 1968 presidential campaign Mr. Nixon ordered H. R. Haldeman, later his chief of staff, to throw a ‘monkey wrench’ into the Vietnamese peace talks, knowing that a serious move to end the war would hurt his electoral prospects. Mr. Nixon denied that he did this to the grave: Mr. Haldeman’s notes, discovered after his death, revealed the truth.” On examination, the Haldeman notes read: “re VN bomb halt news: Harlow-have Dirksen and Tower blast this. Dirksen call LBJ and brace him with this — any other way to monkey wrench it? Anything RN can do.” (Bryce Harlow was an adviser and Everett Dirksen and John Tower were Republican senators.)

There are indeed parallels between left-wing media treatment of President Trump and President Nixon. The fragmentary notes cited by the Times no more constitute proof of Nixon’s engaging in illegal activities than President Trump’s counsel’s writing a tweet (a tweet that could be read as indicating that the president might have known that General Flynn misinformed the Justice Department as he had misinformed the vice president about contacts with the Russians when he fired Flynn) is substantial proof of the president’s obstruction of justice and therefore of his impeachability. The wish is father to the thought. These liberal hysterics, in their demented fury against the elected leader of the country, in the case of Nixon and Trump, leap like gazelles from innocuous or ambiguous asides to an instant convention of certain proof of criminal wrongdoing; they imagine they build their feeble arguments by citing historical precedents flimsily constructed from the same whole cloth of their malicious imaginations.        

In fact, in the tumultuous election of 1968, the real skullduggery was President Johnson’s claim of a (completely fictitious) breakthrough in the peace talks in Paris a week before the election in order to generate, as subsequent history proved to be the case, a totally unjustified sense of optimism that peace might be near on an acceptable basis. It was an absolute falsehood from A to Z. There had been no breakthrough and yet Mr. Johnson announced that the talks should resume because of a positive response from Hanoi and that the South Vietnamese government and the Vietcong would be “invited” to attend. 

There is not one shred of evidence that Mr. Nixon or anyone acting for him had any direct contact at all with the government of South Vietnam at this time. The associate chairwoman of the Republican women’s campaign that year, Mrs. Anna Chennault (widow of World War II Air Force general Claire Chennault of the “Flying Tigers” in China), was a friend of the president of South Vietnam (Nguyen Van Thieu) and visited him occasionally. But there is no evidence whatsoever that she transmitted a message from Nixon or anyone else that constituted an attempt by her, acting for anyone, to conduct or influence the foreign policy of the United States. This is merely another in an apparently endless sequence of outrageous defamatory falsehoods of decaying Nixon-haters, throwing muck at his imperishable memory like people conducting a mockery of abstract art by throwing blobs of paint at a distant canvas. The South Vietnamese president needed no advice from anyone on the matter of which American presidential candidate he was likely to find more congenial. There is certainly a parallel between the diluvian imputation of discreditable motives and actions to Mr. Nixon, who was in fact one of the most successful presidents in American history, and the mindless portrayal of Donald Trump as a feckless monster slouching off every day to bring America into more profound perfidy and the world closer to destruction.      

Specialists in aberrant mass psychology will one day derive great interest and perhaps generate much enlightenment on what it is that has possessed a wide swath of highly intelligent and generally civic-minded Americans to lose their minds on the subject of President Trump. The hatred of Nixon was a little more comprehensible because of the role he played in generating support for the Cold War and resistance to Soviet encroachments and some of the gratuitous and nasty things that he said and did in those efforts, including some reflections on President Truman, Secretary of State Acheson, Congressman Voorhis, and the unfortunate darling of the contemporary left, former Soviet spy Alger Hiss.  

It is ironic that Donald Trump’s most fanatical critics in the media and among the Democrats have ever more frequent recourse to precisely the liberties with the truth that they find so irritating in him. The immensely representative congressman of the world capital of opinionated stupidity, Hollywood, Congressman Adam Schiff, has for over a year constantly incited the inference that the president has committed treason, and when even parrots of this view and lapdogs of the Trumpophobic left such as CNN’s Jake “drip, drip, drip“ Tapper (the quote refers to Tapper’s perception of accumulating revelations of Trump-Russian collusion, of which there have been none) ask Schiff to elaborate, he swaddles himself in unctuous references to his duty as a member of the House Intelligence Committee to be discreet. CNN’s lies about Trump have been so numerous and egregious and so widely recirculated, they now constitute one of the most disgraceful chapters in the modern history of the U.S. national media.    

This charade will not end in the premature departure of Trump from the presidency because nobody near him has done anything inappropriate. Comparisons with Nixon are unfounded except that there remains a very inconclusive amount of evidence that Nixon himself committed illegalities, though some around him certainly did. The best possible outcome is that in patiently waiting for the shabbily conducted Mueller investigation to clear him completely, Trump will not only be vindicated; his enemies will sustain such a bone-crushing humiliation that this practice of trying bloodlessly to assassinate presidents will end. In that atmosphere, Richard Nixon will receive the fair upward revision of collective historical opinion that he richly earned.  

First published in National Review Online.

 — Conrad Black is the author of Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom, Richard M. Nixon: A Life in Full, and Flight of the Eagle: The Grand Strategies That Brought America from Colonial Dependence to World Leadership.

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Posted on 12/14/2017 7:42 AM by Conrad Black
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Thursday, 14 December 2017
Muslim students who attend Catholic university lament that Christmas is over celebrated
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Muslim students who attend a Catholic university in Chicago recently lamented to the school newspaper that Christmas is overcelebrated while Islamic holidays are disproportionately undercelebrated.

The story, titled, “Religious Holidays Aren’t Represented Equally on Campus,” makes the case that all religious holidays should be celebrated equally on campus — despite a large disparity between religions at Loyola University. In fact, 60 percent of students at Loyola self-identify as Roman Catholic, while a large majority of the rest identify as a Protestant denomination. According to the Loyola Phoenix, there are only about 800 Muslims on a campus of nearly 17,000 students.

The story then follows Sajid Ahmed, a leader in the Student Muslim Association, as he laments about too much Christmas and not enough Islamic tradition. Ahmed told the Loyola Phoenix that the major Islamic holidays — Eid al-Fitr (in June) and Eid al-Adha (in August) — are “a bit dampened just because you have to go about your normal routine...At home, it’d be a big family thing, dress up and go to the mosque..."

Bryan Goodwin, associate director of the student complex, told the Phoenix that demographics don’t decide which religious holidays are celebrated campuswide and said Christmas isn’t about Christianity, but the feeling of the season. He added that the university has tried to disassociate Christmas with Christianity by saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” and that the school would be thrilled to celebrate other religious holidays.“We feel that we do a good job at the student center of allowing other faiths to [join the holiday season]. .."

Don't!  Actually Jewish and Hindu students probably do appreciate an effort to include them. But do not be ashamed of being Christians in a Christian institution. Celebrate CHRISTmas. 

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Posted on 12/14/2017 1:51 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Wednesday, 13 December 2017
Canada: Islam Themed Messages Spray-Painted On Bus Shelters, Windsor Star Building
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From Blackburn News

Police in Windsor are investigating after someone spray-painted several bus shelters and the Windsor Star building with Islam themed messages.

The messages on the bus shelters along Ouellette Ave. in downtown Windsor say, “Islam executes drug dealers”, and “#ShariaNow”. They also refer to a passage in the Biblical Book of Revelations.

In the King James Bible, the passage reads, “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates to the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolators, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.”

Sergeant Steve Betteridge confirms patrol officers are canvassing the scene, but can not say yet if it will be investigated as a hate crime. 

From experience, it comes in waves,” he says. “Quite often it’s a very small number of people that are responsible for it.” As offensive as the graffiti may be, Betteridge also says it is important not to wash it off. “You want to get it removed, but our advice is not prior to the police being able to do their investigation,” he explains.

In November, police investigated after graffiti reading, “Islam Will Rule the World” started popping up around the west end of the city. At the time, the Windsor Islamic Council denounced it as “a malicious attempt to divide our communities”.

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Posted on 12/13/2017 1:03 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Wednesday, 13 December 2017
ISIS releases sick propaganda poster of Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu kneeling before Jihadi John-style executioner
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From the Sun

ISIS fanatics have unveiled a sickening poster of US President Donald Trump kneeling in front of a hooded Jihadi John-style executioner. Outspoken Trump and Israel’s leader Benjamin Netanyahu are depicted as doomed prisoners in front of the Al-Aqsa mosque – a controversial holy site in Jerusalem.

The shocking image was released as fanatics pledged to carry out lone wolf attacks on US soil in terrifying propaganda pamphlets circulating online.

The Trump picture is accompanied with the chilling words: “O Jews and worshippers of the Cross. We swear to break your necks and shed your blood in Alaqsa front yard and everywhere else, this is the promise of Allah and we will make it come true. Beware. The coming will be the most terrible and bitter.’

The images were released a day after man wearing a homemade pipe bomb set off the explosive in a busy New York transit hub on Monday, injuring five and setting off panic during the morning commute. Officials said the suspect, 27-year-old Akayed Ullah, pledged allegiance to ISIS and said he acted in response to Israeli actions in Gaza.

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Posted on 12/13/2017 12:53 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Wednesday, 13 December 2017
Homage to a French Literary Giant of Moderate Conservatism
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by Michael Curtis


Jean d'Ormesson

The Chinese have a character for "double happiness." The French would benefit from a similar character of "double sadness" with the events of December 2017 when two giants of French culture, dissimilar in every way, died on successive days. This is not the first time that two equally dissimilar French icons, Edith Piaf and Jean Cocteau died on successive days in 1963. However, in December 2017, two striking figures died and were honored on successive days, Johnny Hallyday the champion of French rock aged 74, by an elaborate tribute at the Madeleine Church in Paris, and the writer and philosopher Jean d'Ormesson, embodiment of the French classical tradition, aged 92, at a less elaborate function at the Cathedral of the Invalides. Curiously though both men were national treasures , if not as symbolic as the Eiffel Tower or Mont-Saint-Michel, in their own country France, they were  essentially unknown abroad.

In a sense the two men illustrated complementary aspects of French civilization. Both loved life and both were seducers in their different ways. Johnny was a living legend whose music lives on. Jean was a prolific writer and latterly television personality, a graceful charmer with a playful spirit who loved life and communicated this. For Johnny, who appealed to emotion, music, beginning with rock, was his religion. For Jean language and literature was his rock of reason.

France is a country that admires its intellectuals and writers. Jean d'Ormesson, born in 1925 of an aristocratic and diplomatic family who died in Paris at age 92 on December 5, 2017, was the incarnation of French culture, defender of the French language, a charmer. He held right wing political views but was not dogmatic and was admired by the left, as his friendships with political opponents such as Francois Mitterand and Nicolas Sarkozy, to whom he was close, showed. He was Catholic but more agnostic than believer.

Jean in his writings and commentaries combined elegance with depth, humor with learning. At Jean's funeral service, President Emmanuel Macron, who put a simple pencil on the tomb as Jean wished, eloquently pointed out some of his complexities. If he was an egotist he was also modest and passionate about others. If he had shadows and racks, he was a master of clarity.

Jean was a prominent figure in the French literary world, publishing 40 books, novels and plays, many of them best sellers. He was general manager of Le Figaro for a few years, and for many other years a news commentator, and even in his last years a broadcaster and part time actor on television. He was never as influential a commentator as Raymond Aron who was more biting and penetrating, and never supported large causes or ideologies, rather addressing more specific issues from a conservative point of view. His prominance was recognized by the publishers of Pleiade which publishes the complete works of an author, an action which is considered to be a major sign of recognition of that author's significance.

Jean was officially honored, and made an Immortal, appointed in 1973 at age 48 to the Academie francaise, still a body of undeniable prestige, one representative of the French esprit. At his death, he was the Dean of the Academie, the longest serving member of it. In 1980 he sponsored Marguerite Yourcenar, whom he called one of the greatest living writers, as a member. She was the first woman to be elected to the AF. So far only 8 of the 729 members have been women. Jean in 2009 was also appointed to another high honor, Grand Officer, Grand Cross, of the Legion of Honor by President Francois Hollande.

Jean may have been an Immortal but he was a constant presence with his charm and wit, which he exhibited on TV screens, including an acting performance with Charlotte Rampling. He was a prince of letters who never took himself too seriously. His comments on politics and on language typifies classical French moderate conservatism and humane politics.

Jean can be considered a modernist, conscious that the world was changing. Moreover, though it was always changing, it was now changing at a faster pace, and in that changing world, the triumph of science must be reconciled with humanism.

He illustrated that change in at least three ways. The French language that he loved had become less important; it was hard to challenge English as the dominant language in the world. Similarly, Europe was no longer the center of world affairs, nor was France the first country in Europe that had become less important, though it was wrong to talk about decline all the time.

As a result of the weakness of European countries, populism had advanced in some of them. He insisted culture goes together with a flourishing economy and military power. Yet, though Africa was advancing, Europe must be praised and safeguarded; it had succeeded in forming a single currency and preventing war among its members.

Jean was concerned about the future of democracy. Europe must now be vigilant, specially concerned, against populism, and its manifestations with Brexit, elections in The Netherlands, in the U.S. with Donald Trump, but above all with his own country. Jean forecast accurately that Marine Le Pen would get 25-30% of the vote in the presidential election but would not win the election. He was fearful she might win in 2022, and posed a cultural as well as a political threat, especially a threat to freedom of the press. 

Some of d'Ormesson's assertations are debatable. He thought that the French people have changed. Once they were happy and carefree; now quoting the jocular Jean Cocteau, they had become “like Italians in a bad mood.”   The country was in bad shape. France is moving politically to the right, and the Communist and Socialist parties no longer seem to exit in France. He was critical of the five years of the Hollande presidency that had been disastrous. The danger of terroism remains and the problem of migrants is acute.

Nevertheless, writers are still a privileged group in France, and have a certain respected voice in society, even if the myth of the great influential writer, like Victor Hugo, or Francois Mauriac, or Andre Gide is no longer applicable to the present.

Jean did participate in the last year of his life in an interesting controversy about language and indeed about society.The present administration under President Macron is urging a gender neutral version of the French language that the AF including Jean thought poses a danger to the purity of French. The issue at hand is whether the language should be gender-neutral. Historically, the masculine takes prededence over the feminine. A group of women only is referred to in feminine way, but if it includes even only one man, the entire group wil be referred to as masculine. Propoents of change call for gender exclusiveness; opponents argue this would be an "aberation" that puts France in "mortal danger."

The controversy continues, and purists and others will disagree, but all should agree that the prolific writings of Jean d' Ormesson should be more widely translated. It would be particularly valuable to have the voice of moderate and sensible conservatism in English in the United States at the present time.   

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Posted on 12/13/2017 11:31 AM by Michael Curtis
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Wednesday, 13 December 2017
Perdue Prof: We must abolish rigorous standards in engineering
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The very word "rigor" smacks of white maleness while scientific knowledge itself is "gendered, raced, and colonizing."

Really. Apparently we need a more inclusive and holistic approach to designing buildings, bridges and tunnels. Who knew?

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Posted on 12/13/2017 8:28 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Wednesday, 13 December 2017
Are New Yorkers becoming like Israelis?
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It looks as though New Yorkers are becoming as resilient as Israelis in the face of terror. Is terror becoming a fact of life in New York?

by Phyllis Chesler

On 9/11, I typed, “Now, we are all Israelis.”

At the time, what I meant was that Muslim terrorists had come after us in New York CIty in a rather big way, just as they’d been attacking Israelis decade after decade, even as the world yawned indifferently or cheered the terrorists on.

Now, what I mean is that terrorist attacks have been normalized in the West, even in New York City, which has seen one attack after the other, beginning with the political assassination of Rabbi Meir Kahane in 1990 by El Sayyid Nosair, an Egyptian-born American citizen radicalized in Pakistan, who was later involved in the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993.

One can write that Palestinian Arabs export terrorists—not just terrorist ideology.

Let’s not forget that in 1994, Lebanese-born, Rashid Baz, shot at a van filled with Orthodox Jewish students, killing Ari Halberstam and wounding three children.

Who can forget the 1997 Brooklyn-based Palestinian bomb plot to blow up the New York subway trains—or the lone, Palestinian shooting attack on the 86th floor of the Empire State Building.

Then there was the 2010 attempted car bombing in Times Square by Pakistani Faisal Shahzad. Or Afghan Ahmad Khan Rahimi, an American citizen, who injured 31 people with a pressure-cooker in Chelsea in 2016. Or Uzbekistani Sayfullo Saipov, who rammed his rented truck into a crowd, killing eight people and wounding 12.

Earlier today, presumed Bangladeshi, Akayed Ullah, detonated a pipe bomb in the subway at 42nd Street, injuring himself and others. He said he’d been inspired by ISIS.

Now, what I mean is that New Yorkers have also become as resilient as Israelis; perhaps a little blasé as well. Life goes on for us. Streets are closed but the subways are running. Offices stayed open. Trials went forward. People lunched. Dinner plans have not been cancelled. 

I called my son to make sure he was fine. I made some other personal family calls too.

Ah, this is relatively new. The Israeli-like fear that someone one knows, and loves, might have become a statistic in the war against the Jews and against the West that lies heavily is upon us.

First published in Israel National News.

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Posted on 12/13/2017 7:26 AM by Phyllis Chesler
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Tuesday, 12 December 2017
Understanding the Rise of Zimbabwe
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by Theodore Dalrymple

The first political leader of any consequence whom I ever met (and I have not met many since) was Ian Smith, Prime Minister of the pariah state of Rhodesia, as it was then still called. I was working as a young doctor in the country, in Bulawayo, and someone said to me at a garden party, ‘Would you like to meet the Prime Minister?’

Of course I would. In a sense it was easy to meet him. It was like meeting someone who was the mayor of a medium size town, for Smith was the leader of no more than quarter of a million people: who, however, had control of a territory the size of California with a population of about six million.

Smith was much more important than the mayor of any town or city in the world, of course a figure of hate and contempt for right-thinking people in the West, a kind of lightning conductor who drew on to himself all the moral thunderbolts that the generous-minded intelligentsia could hurl.

He was dressed in a smart but everyday grey business suit. Behind him, at a distance, were two secret service men, who could not possibly have saved him had I wanted to assassinate him. (Neither anyone else nor I had been searched.) His manner was modest and normal in the extreme, if normality can be extreme. We shook hands; our conversation was brief and not memorable, though remembered by me.

He asked me what I was doing and how long I would stay. I told him that it was just for a few months. He suggested that I should stay for longer: he presumably wanted to boost the white population that, seeing the writing on the wall and already very small, was diminishing by emigration. If it had been fifty years earlier, I might have succumbed to Smith’s blandishments.

Young and callow as I was, with a mind filled with gimcrack ideas, I nevertheless correctly apprehended that the current situation was not tenable. Superficially it seemed stable enough, and life for the whites was still very pleasant. International economic sanctions, never totally watertight, made imported goods rare and expensive; but as Smith himself pointed out in an interview with William Buckley on Firing Line, sanctions also had the effect of stimulating economic diversification and import substitution that might never have happened without them. Rhodesian gin may not have been as good as English, but one drank it all the same without too much suffering. Sanctions made the occasional bottle of South Africa wine a luxurious delight rather than an everyday beverage; sanctions and the resultant shortages promoted not only import substitution but appreciation. And I learnt what should always have been obvious, that quality of life is not the same as level of raw consumption of goods.

I recall the arrival in Bulawayo of what was said to be the first white casualty in the region of the incipient guerrilla war. It was greeted, at least by the whites, as no more than a curiosity, of no greater import than a traffic accident, and certainly not as the harbinger of an unhappy future. The whites believed the blacks to be so disorganised that they were incapable of military action that could be anything more than a nuisance, and were convinced moreover that the majority of the black population would not support it.

I did not reflect at the time that Rhodesia of the time was a very efficiently administered state, or the reasons for it. I worked in a large general hospital for Africans which was extremely well run, though in many respects basic. It too was very well-administered; there was a clear concentration on the essential. The nurses were well-trained and disciplined; the medical staff was of the highest calibre. I worked for a surgeon who was the best I have ever known and who was trusted, such was his reputation, with an absolute trust by his patients: a trust that, in my opinion, was never more justified. The other staff were of like stature.

Patients would go to any lengths, and walk or be carried for days, to be treated at the hospital. Perhaps it was an indictment of the country’s medical services that they had to do so. In those days, medical services meant curative rather than preventive medical services, which, though more cost-effective at saving lives, were neglected, as was primary care. Even so, it was almost thirty years before life expectancy in Zimbabwe improved over the last years of Ian Smith’s rule.

One of the hospital’s patients was the famous African nationalist leader, Joshua Nkomo. I met him at his home through his sister, a senior nurse on one of the wards on which I worked. He was a large, amiable and jovial man, who called me Doc. I liked him immediately and felt none of the racial awkwardness that made normal human contacts between blacks and whites so difficult. He struck me as the reverse of a fanatic, certainly not as a hater of whites, and he trusted his white doctors to treat him to the best of their ability (which they did). He was one of the first black Africans in Rhodesia to agitate for ‘majority rule,’ as it was called, but his tragedy was that, though the father of Rhodesian African nationalism, he was himself a member of the Ndebele tribe, who were only a quarter as numerous as the Shona, Robert Mugabe’s ethnic group. He might have made a much better first president of Zimbabwe than Mugabe, for he was much more of an economic realist: but, strangely for a struggle that was carried out in the name of anti-racism, his ethnicity was an insuperable barrier to his rise to supreme office in the country.

Rhodesia’s currency was stable and even strong, despite Smith’s defiance of the world. The infrastructure of the country was, for its time and place, magnificent, and very well-maintained. The roads, for example, would make many of those in the United States today seem Third World by comparison. It hardly occurred to me to think of the reasons for this: with the callowness of youth, I accepted the efficiency of the administration as a given rather than as an achievement. But on reflection, there were two very good reasons (or necessary, though not sufficient, conditions) for it. The first was that the population from which senior administrators and civil servants could be drawn was very small. Clever people in Rhodesia could not be wasted. The second was the situation in which the country found itself. This meant that the scope for frivolous bureaucratic expansion was very slight. The country in its then current form was fighting for its survival and therefore the senior administrators were imbued with a very real and immediate, and not merely abstract or theoretical, sense of higher purpose. And sanctions meant that they had to be pragmatic and not hidebound by fatuous procedures.

Of course, the basic justice of the country’s social and political arrangements was quite another matter.

First published in the Library of Law and Liberty.

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Posted on 12/12/2017 9:05 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
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Tuesday, 12 December 2017
NYC Bomber's Family Outraged at Treatment by Law Enforcement
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They issued the following statement through a CAIR lawyer. ABC:

"We are heartbroken by this attack on our city today and by the allegations being made against a member of our family. Our family like all families is committed to the safety and wellbeing of all New Yorkers," the family said in a statement provided by the Council on American-Islamic Relations-New York.

"But we are also outraged by the behavior of law enforcement officials during this investigation. Today, we have seen our children, as young as 4 years old, held out in the cold, detained as their parents were questioned," the statement continued. "One teenage relative was pulled out of high school classes and interrogated without a lawyer, without his parents. These are not the actions that we expect from our justice system, and we hope to see better in the days and weeks to come. We also ask the press to respect our privacy and to give our family time to grieve this horrific development."

It's not clear who the children and the teenager referred to in the statement are. [But obviously they are the true victims here.]

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Posted on 12/12/2017 6:39 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Monday, 11 December 2017
ISIS Inspired Attack: Bombing on Manhattan Subway Platform
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UPDATE3: He seems to have come into the country through chain migration - he was sponsored by a "family member" and as luck would have it, he was just under the age when he would have been ineligible. Querulous sort that I am, I question both of these criteria. Was he really a relative (see the case of the Somalis) and was he really under 21? - see the case of the "children" among the migrants in Europe.

UPDATE 2: 4 confirmed reported injured and the suspect is reported to have non-life-threatening injuries. HIs name is Akayed Ullah.

UPDATE:  Police say the suspect tried to detonate some kind of strapped on device but it "did not go off completely." The suspect is said to be from Bangladesh but it's unknown whether is here on a visa, is a permanent resident, or is a citizen. Police also calling the event "ISIS inspired."

More information coming in,

An explosion was reported Monday near the Port Authority Bus Terminal, sending early morning commuters scrambling.

The NYPD said it's investigating the incident, and have cleared out the A, C and E subway lines that sit beneath the building.

Cops took one man into custody, who they intially believe was carrying an explosive that went off, per a police source. He appears to be the only one injured so far.

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Posted on 12/11/2017 7:33 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Monday, 11 December 2017
Becoming Zimbabwe
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by Theodore Dalyrmple


Robert Mugabe, Second President of Zimbabwe (1987-2017).

Though I lived in Rhodesia (as it then was) for only seven months, and returned to Zimbabwe (as it had by then become) ten years later for only a couple of weeks, the country has occupied my thoughts since then intermittently but quite often. It raised, at least in my mind, questions of political philosophy which I am still not sure that I can fully answer.

The Rhodesia in which I arrived as an almost untravelled youth was clearly a country with a history of injustice. Half the land – the more fertile half – was reserved to about 4 per cent of the population: black Africans could not buy it, however much money they had. While the current occupants had proper legal title to it, by purchase or inheritance, the law itself was based upon forceful expropriation of the original occupants almost within living memory – perhaps within the actual memory of a few exceptionally long-lived people. The black Africans had a rueful joke: when the white man came, he had the Bible and we had the land. Now he has the land and we have the Bible.

From the point of view of justice, then, restitution, or even restoration, was clearly due. Unfortunately, Man does not live by justice alone: he also has to eat. In the meantime, Rhodesia had become the breadbasket of Southern and Central Africa, not only feeding itself but exporting large quantities of grain to its surrounding countries. Its commercial farming sector, all white, was very productive. It is true that some experts claimed that African peasant farming on redistributed land could produce the same or even greater surplus (I read a book to this effect, if I remember right, by a learned nun and anthropologist, A. K. H. Weinrich), but this seemed to me more like wishful thinking that justice and economic benefit always went hand in hand than realism.

The thirst of the African peasant for land was understandable, all the more so as the population of rural Zimbabwe was among the fastest-growing in the world. But it was doubtful whether, in the long run, land would be any more equitably distributed under the new dispensation than under the old, with gross inefficiency thrown in for good, or rather for bad, measure. This is precisely what happened: under cover of righting injustice and rewarding heroism (that of the guerrilla fighters), land was redistributed by cronyism to people who were not farmers, and not surprisingly production plummeted. I have described elsewhere how I learned during my brief sojourn in Zimbabwe one of the reasons for the extreme or grotesque corruption that overtook post-colonial Africa, of its source in the otherwise commendable social obligation of Africans when they became prosperous to share wealth with their impoverished extended families and other dependents. This meant that for a man to become rich and live luxuriously, if such was his ambition, he had to make ten, twenty, a hundred times as much as a white counterpart, the easiest and often the only way being defalcation of one kind or another. This was not an auspicious beginning. It made the competition for political power all the fiercer, with its attendant cycles of violence, and it made political ruthlessness, not economic prowess, the main, and certainly the quickest, route to wealth.

Liberation

From being a country into which people from surrounding countries sought entry in order to work, Zimbabwe quickly went to being a country that exported a considerable proportion of its population. In what sense, then, was the overthrow of the Smith regime by Mugabe an advance, an improvement, a liberation, as it is often called? A truthful answer, I believe, would be highly disturbing to liberal sensibilities.

One of the first fruits of the change was a massacre on a scale and of a brutality not seen in Smith’s day, putting one in mind of the Vendée massacres. Within a year of taking office, Mugabe, fearing a revolt by the minority Ndebele tribe, allowed North Korean troops to carry out the killing of 20,000 people, 1 or 2 per cent of the civilian population of Ndebeleland. The acknowledged leader of the Ndebele, Joshua Nkomo, a token member of Mugabe’s government, fled to London; he returned years later to Zimbabwe and rejoined Mugabe’s government (though without any power), claiming that this was not a betrayal but an attempt to halt the continuing persecution of his people.

When Mugabe came to power, the Tanzanian president, Julius Nyerere, told him that he was inheriting a jewel and warned him not to ruin it (Nyerere had by then considerable practical experience of wrecking a country, namely his own). Nyerere’s was a curious tribute to a regime that he detested and did all he could to bring down.

Mugabe eventually turned the stable Rhodesian currency into the most depreciated in the history of the world. Framed on my wall is a series of banknotes from various hyper-inflations. Pride (or shame) of place goes to the Zimbabwean note: the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe promises to pay the bearer the sum of fifty trillion dollars – that is to say $50,000,000,000,000. This was worth about US$1: in my day, the Rhodesian dollar was worth more than the US dollar.

No one should underestimate the suffering caused by such hyperinflation, though also the possibilities for enrichment by a corrupt elite which was, in fact, considerably smaller in numerical than the white minority had been.

The Consequences of Mugabe’s Regime

And what of political freedom? Mugabe’s regime was never quite totalitarian: but neither had Smith’s regime been. Both had oppositions, but more for ornament than use. To judge from the publications that I retain from my time in Rhodesia, I should think that Smith’s regime was somewhat superior in freedom of expression.

Judged by various criteria, then, Smith’s regime was superior to Mugabe’s. The population did not flee it; it was economically more efficient; it was at least not inferior from the point of view of freedom of expression; and though of course this is mere speculation, had it per impossibile been allowed to persist, it is likely that Zimbabwe would have been far more prosperous than it is today.

And yet this does not capture everything. Mugabe was wildly popular when he came to power, and I do not think that any but a vanishingly small number of Zimbabweans would want the Smith regime back, even at the cost of having Mugabe in power. Once that regime was gone, there was no possibility on any ground whatever of resuscitating it. If you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs, equally you cannot put an egg together again from an omelette.

There are two explanations why people would vote against what might seem to be in their own best interest, if they were given the choice. The first is that, given the age structure of the population, the overwhelming majority of Zimbabweans have grown to adult consciousness since Mugabe came to power. They have been fed with great assiduity and with no possibility of contestation a historiography in which what they have experienced in their own, bad as it might be, counts as a liberation by comparison with what went before.

But I do not think this is the main reason why no one would wish the Smith regime back: it was conspicuously the regime of a racial minority, and no one wants to be ruled by people who are so very different from themselves, even if to be so ruled is advantageous to them. Better a bad us than a good them. This may not be rational, but it is a fact of human psychology. Of course, who is one of us is never quite cut and dried, and may even – in fact does – change. But whoever we are, we want to be ruled by us, not by them.

First published in the Library of Law and Liberty.

 

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Posted on 12/11/2017 7:12 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
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Monday, 11 December 2017
A Hopeful Sign
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RIYADH, December 11 (CIC) 

The Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information (MOCI) announced in an official statement on Monday that commercial cinemas will be allowed to operate in the Kingdom as of early 2018, for the first time in more than 35 years.

The Board of the General Commission for Audiovisual Media (GCAM), Chaired by the Minister of Culture and Information, Dr. Awwad Alawwad, passed a resolution today allowing GCAM to grant licenses to cinemas, including commercial providers.

Dr. Alawwad said: “As the industry regulator, the General Commission for Audiovisual Media has started the process for licensing cinemas in the Kingdom. We expect the first cinemas to open in March 2018.”

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Posted on 12/11/2017 6:41 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Monday, 11 December 2017
Trump and the Embassy: The Dogs Bark, The Caravan Moves On
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by Hugh Fitzgerald

If you’ve been listening to NPR or the BBC or almost any news channel, you’ve been told again and again these days that Jerusalem is a city “holy to three faiths.” This is comforting for those who don’t like to make distinctions; it doesn’t, however, adequately convey the fact that Jerusalem as an entire city means far more to Jews and to Christians than to Muslims. For Muslims, Mecca and Medina are the two supremely holy cities, off-limits to non-Muslims. The qibla, or direction toward which Muslims face while prostrate in prayer, is Mecca. For a very short period, when first in Medina, Muhammad, in an attempt to win Jewish converts, had his followers when praying face north toward Jerusalem. After this attempt failed, Muhammad turned against the Jews, killed many of them, and directed the qibla southward, toward Mecca.

Muhammad’s abandonment of Jerusalem explains the fact that this city is not mentioned even once in the Qur’an. After Palestine was occupied by the Muslims, its capital was Ramle, 30 miles to the west of Jerusalem, signifying that Jerusalem meant very little to them.

Islam rediscovered Jerusalem 50 years after Muhammad’s death. In 682 CE, ‘Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr rebelled against the Islamic rulers in Damascus, conquered Mecca, and prevented pilgrims from reaching Mecca for the Hajj. ‘Abd al-Malik, the Umayyad Caliph, needed an alternative site for the pilgrimage and settled on Jerusalem, which was then under his control. In order to justify this choice, he relied on Qur’an 17:1, which states:

“Glory to Him who caused His servant to travel by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque, whose precincts We have blessed, in order to show him some of Our Signs, He is indeed the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing.”

The meaning the Umayyad Caliph ascribed to this verse was that “the furthest mosque” (al-masjid al-aqsa) must have been in Jerusalem (although there was no mosque in Jerusalem during Muhammad’s lifetime) and that Muhammad was conveyed there from Mecca one night, on the back of al-Buraq, a magical horse with the head of a woman, the wings of an eagle, the tail of a peacock, and hoofs reaching to the horizon. He tethered the horse to the Western Wall of the Temple Mount and from there ascended to the seventh heaven together with the angel Gabriel.

And that is how Jerusalem, which is not mentioned even once in the Qur’an, took on the significance it has for Muslims, who simply appropriated it, at a time when Mecca was temporarily off-limits, and assigned it to be the place — the “farthest mosque” — to which  Muhammad travelled from Mecca (the isra), before he ascended to the seventh heaven (the miraj). That Night Journey begins from a rock on the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, upon which both the First and Second Temples were built. Muslims appropriated for their own purpose the Temple Mount, which they renamed Al-Haram al-Sharif, the Noble Sanctuary, upon which were built the Dome of the Rock, from which, Muslims believe, Muhammad ascended into heaven, and the al-Aqsa Mosque, where Muhammad prayed after his Night Journey. This appropriation of the main Jewish site — the Temple Mount — for the Muslim narrative, is not surprising: Islam has taken over a great deal from the prior monotheisms, including Moses and Jesus (as “prophets”); it is natural that it would also lay claim to physical sites holy to Judaism and Christianity.

For Christians, Jerusalem is central to the faith. It’s the site of the temple where Christ was taken to be circumcised, the temple where Mary was taken to be presented, the city into which Christ makes his entrance on “Palm Sunday,”  the place where Christ kicked out the moneylenders from the temple, the place where, on a hill, Christ was crucified after carrying the cross through its streets, and where He was buried, at the site of what is now the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Compare the role of Jerusalem in Judaism. It has been the center of Jewish life, and longing, since 3000 B.C. Some Orthodox Jews still turn physically toward Jerusalem in prayer, while other Jews, while praying, turn their thoughts toward Jerusalem. For centuries Jerusalem was the capital city of Jewish kingdoms, the city of King Solomon and King David, the location of Judaism’s holiest sites (the Western Wall, the Temple Mount), and the historical focus of Jewish political life. It has been continuously inhabited by Jews for nearly 5000 years. As the Psalmist says, “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.”

So we must remember that Jerusalem, then, is far less significant for Muslims than it is for Jews and Christians. Sites in Jerusalem important to the Jewish and Christian faiths — the Western Wall, the Temple Mount, the Via Dolorosa, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and many others — you do not need to be either a believing Jew or a Christian to know that those sites really exist, and that they are revered by both. But for you to believe that Muhammad flew on his winged steed Al-Buraq from Mecca to Jerusalem, and from there ascended to the Seventh Heaven, you have to be a Muslim.

Now that President Trump has become the first president to honor his campaign pledge to move the embassy to Jerusalem, showing up all those presidents before him who made similar promises but then refused to honor them, let’s remember the prevarications of his predecessors. It begins with Bill Clinton, who in his campaign attacked George H. W. Bush for not moving the Embassy to Jerusalem, and promised that he, Clinton would do so. When he became president, Clinton promptly forgot that promise, having decided it would merely complicate his incessant attempts at “peacemaking” with Arafat. That “peacemaking” led to nothing, since Arafat in the end rejected even the huge concessions, amounting to 96% of the West Bank, which Ehud Barak, in a fit of madness, had offered him.

Next came George W. Bush who, in his own campaign for president, criticized the failure of Clinton to follow through and move the embassy, a charge with which he also saddled  his opponent Al Gore. But when Bush was elected, he did nothing about moving the embassy himself. To be fair, he was president during the 9/11 attacks, and had many other Middle Eastern and Islamic matters on his mind, including the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, and that may help explain his failure to follow through on his embassy promise.

Barack Obama did not discuss the Jerusalem Embassy issue during his campaign, but he declared in a 2008 campaign speech, “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.” Sounds good. But not only did he backtrack on this almost immediately, but in his last press conference he warned against moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem. His administration also attempted, unfortunately with success, to prevent Americans born in Jerusalem from listing Israel as their place of birth. One wonders if, in light of Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, whether that issue will be re-litigated.

Tired of the earlier promises, and prevarications, from the Executive Branch, Congress had passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 on October 23, 1995. It was intended to initiate and fund the relocation of the Embassy of the United States in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, no later than May 31, 1999. It was an attempt to withhold 50 percent of the funds appropriated to the State Department specifically for “Acquisition and Maintenance of Buildings Abroad,” as allocated in fiscal year 1999 until the United States Embassy in Jerusalem had officially opened. The act also called for Jerusalem to remain an undivided city and for it to be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel. The proposed law was adopted overwhelmingly, by the Senate (93–5), and the House (374–37).

What Trump has done is extraordinary. He has forged ahead, despite all the grim warnings of terrible consequences; it seems fears of Middle East mayhem were grossly exaggerated. Several thousand Arabs, not more, in the West Bank, have rioted, and have been held well in check by tear gas and rubber bullets and water cannons; in Gaza, a total of 4,500 Arabs have gathered at six different spots along the border with Israel and thrown rocks and burning tires into Israel; two rockets were fired by Hamas into Israel. The Israelis returned live fire only against those identified as the ringleaders of the violence; two “Palestinians” have been killed. Compared to previous demonstrations, these have been comparatively small and restrained. “Days of wrath” is what Hamas’ leader Ismael Haniya promised. So far, not much wrath.

As for Arab leaders, most were muted in their protests. Egypt’s El-Sisi, who has good relations with Netanyahu, counselled “caution.” Right now El-Sisi is most concerned not with where the American embassy is placed, but with how to wipe out the terrorist groups — ISIS, and the more uncompromising members of Hamas — in the Sinai, and how to keep up the pressure in Egypt itself on the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been attacking Copts with impunity.

King Abdullah of Jordan, King Hassan of Morocco, and other Arab leaders have expressed dismay over the embassy move, claiming that it would be harmful to the “search for peace.” But there is already peace between Arabs and Israelis, a peace that remains durable as long as Israel is strong enough to repel any aggressors, whether or not such a peace is formally recognized in a treaty. The peace-keeping force in place — no other one is needed — is the IDF. And the basis for that peace-keeping is “deterrence.” It worked during the Cold War to keep the peace between the United States and the Soviet Union, and it’s been working fairly well for the Israelis ever since the Yom Kippur War. “Peace” is different from, and may even be undermined by, a “peace treaty” that would push Israel back to something like the pre-1967 lines with minor adjustments — that is, the 1949 Armistice Lines — for these are borders that would make it hellishly difficult for the IDF to defend Israel adequately, and would only invite further Arab aggression.

King Abdullah of Jordan has been warning ever since last February that, as he repeated after Trump made his announcement in early December, this week, “moving the embassy at this stage will have repercussions in the Palestinian, Arab and Islamic arenas and threatens the two-state solution.” But succumbing to Arab threats and not moving the embassy, after Trump has been discussing making that move ever since the campaign, would also have “repercussions in the Palestinian, Arab, and Islamic arenas.” It would make the Arabs, and especially Mahmoud Abbas and the “Palestinian” Arabs, think they can yet again make an American administration yield to their demands. One should not be surprised at King Abdullah, or Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi, or other Arabs, for their standard-issue warnings about the embassy move, but compared to protests in the past, the tone is relatively subdued, for they understand Trump will not be bullied, and besides, they have now far more important worries than the ever-present “Palestinians.”

As mentioned above, El-Sisi has a lot on his plate. He has to deal with the ISIS terrorists in the Sinai who recently killed more than 300 Sufi Muslims in a mosque.  But he has also been fighting a different terrorist threat from Hamas and its collaborators in the Sinai and in Gaza, who have preyed on Egyptian police and soldiers. He has to worry about attacks on Coptic churches and homes from the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt proper. He has used methods, in crushing these enemies, that the American Congress considers too harsh, and some $300 million of Egypt’s $1.5 billion in annual aid has been cut as a result. But in Arab terms, he’s an enlightened despot, an Egyptian nationalist, friendly to Netanyahu, eager to cooperate with Israel on security matters, unenthusiastic about wasting Egyptian resources and risking trouble with the Americans for the “Palestinians” who, to judge by their behavior in Gaza and the Sinai, are not well-intentioned toward El-Sisi. He has laconically expressed his dismay at the embassy move (it “would undermine the chances of peace in the Middle East”), been a measured voice of calm among his fellow Arabs, and put Egypt’s interests first — including its interest in maintaining good relations with its main supplier of arms and foreign aid, the United States.

King Abdullah of Jordan does not have a terrorist threat akin to that facing El-Sisi in the Sinai, but he does have a different worry: Syria seems now to be firmly in Shi’ite Iran’s camp. There are now more Iranian troops (70,000), including Revolutionary Guards, in Syria than there are troops in the Syrian army (50,000). In addition, Iran pays salaries for 250,000 mainly Shi’ite troops, consisting  of Lebanese Hezbollah, Afghan militias, and Palestinian, Pakistani, and other militiamen. Equally troubling to King Abdullah, in Baghdad the Shi’ites now control the government that, under Saddam, was firmly in Sunni Arab hands. King Abdullah would like the American government, and for that matter, though naturally he doesn’t talk about it, the Israeli government, to help contain both Hezbollah and, behind that group, the Iranians. He will utter the expected condemnation of the embassy move, but do nothing more. After all, he needs the $1.3 billion in annual American aid Jordan now receives.

As for Saudi Arabia, behind the scenes its relations with Israel have never been better. Israel and Saudi Arabia share intelligence because they share the same dangerous enemy: Shiite Iran. The Saudis have in recent years not always been happy with the “Palestinians”: two years ago they cut off aid to them over policy differences, then restored it, but they thereby demonstrated that the “Palestinians” cannot count forever on Saudi aid. Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman has  bigger fish to fry than Mahmoud Abbas, Saeb Erekat, and the perennially complaining “Palestinians.” He’s planning a complete overhaul of the Saudi economy, spending $640 billion on a new megacity that will emphasize high-tech companies and technically-advanced Saudi employees. He will need cooperation with the Americans for this project. And to keep an aggressive Iran at bay he is already getting intelligence help from the Israelis, who are certainly of greater value now to Saudi well-being than are the ever-demanding “Palestinians.” No wonder his father criticized Trump’s embassy announcement in the mildest possible terms as  “irresponsible and unwarranted,” which in the context of heated Muslim rhetoric, hardly counts as criticism at all.

In Yemen, where Sunnis ruled for decades, the Shi’a Houthis have managed to seize, and hold, both northwestern Yemen and also the capital, San’a. The day before Trump announced the embassy move, a Houthi sniper killed Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had ruled Yemen for 34 years. Though a Sunni himself, Saleh had in recent years been allied with the Houthi, but just this month had switched sides. Now he is dead and the Iran-backed Houthis, despite an intensive Saudi bombing campaign lasting many months, still control San’a and have tightened their grip. The Saudis cannot afford to lose to the Shi’a in Yemen.

Meanwhile, the Saudis are also worried about Iran’s ally Hezbollah in Lebanon. Even though the Lebanese Shi’a are only 27% of the total population, over the past few decades they have created the country’s most powerful military force, Hezbollah, and gained more and more power at the expense of Lebanese Sunnis. The recent opera-bouffe attempt by the Saudis to engineer the resignation of Said Hariri was prompted by their belief that he could not stand up to Hezbollah, whereas his older brother Bayaah, so the Saudis thought, might be made of sterner stuff. In the end Said Hariri changed his mind, took back his resignation, and decided to stay on as Prime Minister. For the Saudis, the worry about Shi’a Iran remains, a worry that focuses for now on Yemen, where the Houthis are holding their own, and on Lebanon, where Hezbollah pulls the strings, and on Syria, where both Hezbollah and the Iranians have helped ensure that Bashar al-Assad would not be toppled. For now, this Shi’a threat both to the north and to the south is far more important to the Saudis than where the American embassy may be built in Jerusalem several years hence.

With all this going on in the Middle East, two parties were most vocal in attacking Trump’s move.

The first was Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish leader who was his usual bombastic self. He declared that if Trump moved the embassy, that would be a “red line” for Muslims. He threatened  to break off relations with Israel were Trump to act on his promise. Perhaps Erdogan will wait, claiming that he meant the “red line” would be crossed only when the new embassy is actually built and open for business, thus giving him time to reconsider. He can always invoke “changed circumstances” at a later date.

Turkey has a lot to lose from breaking off relations with Israel. The huge natural gas fields Israel possesses just offshore were originally planned to be connected to Europe through a Turkish pipeline. Turkey was to be paid with gas, enabling the country to diversify its sources of energy. Furthermore, the extremely close military and security ties between Israel and Turkey, that ended with the Mavi Marmara incident in 2010, have over the past seven years been slowly and painfully re-established, under pressure from the Turkish military; now Erdogan threatens to undo all the progress that has been made. Because of the Mavi Marmara incident, the aerial reconnaissance capabilities of the Turkish air force suffered mightily from being cut off from Israel. A plan had already been prepared by the Turkish military to procure high-definition electro optics and radar pods from Israel to be used in RF-4E Phantom planes. But because of Erdogan, the contract with Israel was canceled. In another project with Israel planned before 2010, 170 Turkish M60 tanks had been modernized. Plans were made to upgrade another batch of 169 tanks and offer them to the international market, but they were shelved when relations cooled and Israeli know-how was no longer available. Finally, Turkish tourism suffered when Israeli tourists, once an important segment of the market, dropped by 90% from 2010, and only in the last year have the figures again started to rise. If Erdogan were to cut off relations, Israeli tourism, and the large sums it generates for Turkey, will again collapse.

So, as we have seen, were Erdogan to break off relations with Israel, as he threatens, Turkey would suffer in many ways: it would lose access to abundant and clean energy close to home  (Israel’s natural gas);  it would no longer be able to rely on the help it used to receive from the Israelis in defense matters, both  in the sharing of intelligence, and in the weaponry that Israel either manufactured and supplied to Turkey or, if the weaponry were American-made, that Israel’s military helped the Turkish military to upgrade. The loss of Israeli tourists, for a second time, would be a heavy blow to Turkey’s tourism industry. So would the loss of Israel as a major consumer of Turkish goods, including plastics and rubber, minerals, textiles, concrete, asbestos, ceramics, glass machinery, and cars. Finally, if Erdogan, who has few friends in Washington, were to break off relations with Israel, Turkey would undoubtedly pay a price, with both Congress and the Executive branch. And even if Turkey were no longer to have Israeli help in customizing or upgrading them, it will still need access to American weapons systems.

Along with Erdogan, the other most vocal party to denounce Trump consisted of the “Palestinians” — the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. Mahmoud Abbas repeatedly warned Trump not to announce any embassy move to Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state. He “warned of the dangerous consequences such a decision would have to the peace process and to the peace, security and stability of the region and of the world.” But there has never been a true “peace process” with the “Palestinian Arabs,” who’ve repeatedly claimed that they intend to make Jerusalem the undivided capital of their future Palestinian state, a state which, many “Palestinians” insist,  will be made free of all Jews and which, the “Palestinians” of Hamas claim, will include all of Palestine. Their rhetoric makes clear that their ultimate goal, whatever interim arrangement might be temporarily accepted in order to gain a base from which future attacks could be launched, remains a “Palestinian” Arab state from the Jordan to the sea.

The Hamas leader Ismail Haniya has gone even further than Abbas. He said the US decision on recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is a “war declaration against Palestinians,” and called for a new “Intifada”, or uprising.

Haniya said in a speech in Gaza City on Thursday that US President Donald Trump’s recognition “killed” the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

“This decision has killed the peace process, has killed the Oslo [accord], has killed the settlement process,” he said.

“The US decision is an aggression, a declaration of war on us, on the best Muslim and Christian shrines in the heart of Palestine, Jerusalem.”

The “peace process” between Israel and the “Palestinians” has been a farce for several decades. It was a farce when in 2000 Ehud Barak offered the “Palestinians” 96% of the West Bank, including even the Temple Mount, and Arafat turned the offer down. From the Muslim point of view, there cannot be a permanent “peace” between Muslims and non-Muslims that leaves the latter in control of land that was once Muslim, which must, therefore, revert to Muslim possession. Any outcome that left the despised Jews still in control of any land that had once belonged to Muslim Arabs would be intolerable for any Muslim population and would, therefore, be only a stopgap measure, needing further correction, whatever lip service might be given to that idea by some “Palestinian’ political figures hellbent on reassuring the West.

Then there was Hezbollah, which answered Trump by announcing in its Beirut newspaper Al-Akhbar “Death to America,” thereby outdoing, in the rhetoric of rage, both Hamas and the Palestine Authority. Now Hezbollah’s Nasrallah has just called for a third intifada against Israel.

Iran, Hezbollah’s powerful supporter, has been crying “Death to America” for nearly the past 40 years, and none of it seems to have scared  the Americans. But Hezbollah, and Iran, have managed to frighten the Sunni Arabs, who see them as more dangerous, right now, to their interests than either America or Israel. The Sunnis are all deeply worried about an aggressive Iran and its Shi’a proxies, from the Houthis in Yemen who threaten Saudi Arabia from the south, to the Shi’a who rule in Baghdad, to the Shi’a militia, Hezbollah, which helped to rescue the Alawite despot Assad in Syria, to Hezbollah’s home base in Lebanon, where it is now more powerful than the Lebanese army, and fills the Lebanese Sunnis with apprehension. The Shi’ite crescent of which Sunni leaders have long been warning now exists. The Sunnis in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon are more anxious about Iran and its Shi’a proxies than they are about whether the American government formally recognizes what, in all its dealings with the Israeli government, it has for nearly half a century informally recognized: that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. The embassy in Jerusalem is years away from being built, and  can be dealt with, if need be, at a later date. The threat from Iran and its allies is an immediate one. The Houthis are swaggering through San’a, unsubdued by Saudi bombs; Hezbollah is swaggering through Beirut, uncooked by the likes of Said Hariri. Right now Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan need both American military aid and, especially in the case of Saudi Arabia, Israeli intelligence assistance.

There have been surprisingly few protests in Muslim lands in Asia against Trump’s embassy announcement. Those that have taken place have been distinctly underwhelming, with pitiful turnouts: “hundreds” turned out in Pakistan, “a thousand” in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia). “Hundreds” again held a rally in Kashmir. In Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, with 260 million people, only “three hundred” people participated in a protest in front of the American Embassy in Jakarta, where they shouted “go to hell, Israel.” In Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, a few hundred demonstrators held up signs in front of the American embassy; only one protester set one American flag on fire. Not exactly massive demonstrations by Muslims anywhere in Asia. Those were the figures as of Saturday morning. Perhaps the protests are just off to a slow start.

In Arab countries, the turnout has also been unimpressive. As of Saturday morning, three days after Trump’s announcement, only a few hundred people had turned up to demonstrate at al-Azhar in Cairo to protest. The Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Ahmed El-Tayeb, announced he would not meet with Mike Pence when he visits Egypt. I’m sure the Americans can survive that. In Jordan, there were several protests around the country, each with a few hundred people, demanding that Jordan cut diplomatic ties with the American government. That, of course, would leave Jordan without the $1 billion in annual American aid it relies on. No demonstrations at all were reported in Saudi Arabia or the Gulf sheikdoms; the Saudis limited their comments to the bare minimum, first calling the planned embassy move “unjustified and irresponsible” and later describing it as “disappointing.” On Saturday, the Saudi government told media outlets in the kingdom to severely limit their coverage of Trump’s embassy decision. It also issued a statement warning Saudi citizens in Jordan not to take part in anti-American demonstrations. The Saudi imams of the Grand Mosques in Mecca and Medina — clearly under orders from the Royal Court — did not even mention Jerusalem in their Friday sermons. This is hardly the ferocious denunciation of Trump that the “Palestinians” expected from the most important Arab country. In Mogadishu, a few hundred Somalis marched, chanting slogans against Trump. In Istanbul, there have been reports of “thousands” of protestors, who left the mosques after Friday Prayers to join demonstrations, with no report more specific as to the number of those “thousands,” but clearly it was not in the tens of thousands. In Afghanistan, the biggest demonstration was in Herat, with 2,500 protesters. It appears that the largest demonstration outside Gaza and the West Bank was in Beirut, where close to 5,000 Palestinians and Lebanese marched to a cemetery near the Shatilla refugee camp where Christian Falange troops under Elie Hobeika carried out a massacre of “Palestinians” in 1982.

For all the dire warnings about the “Palestinian’’ response, there has actually been less violence, according to the Western  journalists on NPR,, in both the West Bank and Gaza than during previous Arab outbursts. About 3,000 in the West Bank threw rocks, marbles, Molotov cocktails. 28 people were arrested and about 65 injured. Two rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza by Hamas; in return, the Israelis bombed a Hamas training compound and ammunition warehouse. A grand total of two people have been killed in Gaza; no one has yet died in the West Bank. An NPR reporter in the West Bank, described most Arabs going about their business, not rushing to join demonstrations, which has become a young man’s game. Besides, there is no change on the ground: Jerusalem was Israel’s capital, and continues to be its capital. Trump was recognizing, not creating, a fact of life.

According to Bassam Tawil, an Arab journalist in Israel, the Arabs who demonstrate or riot often follow the same script: Western journalists are alerted by local Arabs that a protest is about to begin, or has just started, and they are told where to go to record the violence being staged accommodatingly for their cameras and the international news outlets. Tires are burned, rocks are thrown, molotov cocktails may be tossed by the Arabs, and, in response, water cannons are turned on, tear gas canisters are thrown, rubber bullets fired, as slowly, methodically, Israeli soldiers push the rioting Arabs back.

Demonstrations elsewhere in the Arab and Muslim world have been almost comically small. Arab leaders understand that Trump cannot be moved; about this embassy question he is, and in the best sense, implacable; many in the Arab world and in Western Europe tried for months to dissuade him, but having thought about the matter at great length, he had made up his mind, and was determined to follow through. He is unlikely to be swayed in the slightest by Arab threats that he’d better change his mind or else. If anything, this may make him more eager than ever to have the building of the embassy begin at once so that it is up and running during his first term.

And what can the “Palestinians” actually do? They are now refusing to meet with Vice President Pence. So what? In 2016, the “Palestinians” received, both directly and through UNRWA, over $712 million from the American taxpayers. They received this year close to $1 billion, directly and through UNRWA. That amount could be cut, or eliminated altogether, if the “Palestinians” continue to create whatever mayhem — such as that threat of a “third intifada”– they can, continue to excoriate their benefactors the Americans, and refuse to resume even the pretense of “peace” negotiations with the Israelis. But now, with Trump, they have to worry about the price they may have to pay.

Some have said this announcement was not good timing on Trump’s part. I disagree. I think this was a perfect time to announce the Embassy move. Trump becomes both the first president to honor his campaign promise on this matter, and the first, too, to abide by, rather than seek a waiver from, the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995. But even more to the point, Trump realizes that the most important Sunni countries in the Middle East feel themselves to be in a state of maximum peril, and it has nothing to do with Israel.

While this war between Sunnis, their camp headed by Saudi Arabia, and the Shi’a,  headed by Iran, is going on, many other countries — Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan — are also involved. The “Palestinian” claim on Arab attentions has dimmed; the war with Israel no longer dominates Arab hearts and minds.

As Bassam Tawil has written here, the “Palestinian” media circus has already begun. Photojournalists have, as Tawil described, been summoned by the Palestinian Authority to take pictures of “Palestinians” setting fire to posters of Trump and to flags of America and Israel. The scenes are arranged in such a way as to make it seem that a “handful” of violent protesters are really a multitude. In fact, Tawil says, whenever photographers do not appear for these staged demonstrations, the “spontaneous” group of indignant “Palestinians” also are known to disappear — apparently they  maintain their indignation only insofar as there are photographers to capture it.

To sum up:

1. President Trump has honored his campaign pledge, in contrast to his pusillanimous predecessors, to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem. In this he is also fulfilling the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, passed overwhelmingly by both houses of Congress. He has listened to, and rejected, the warnings of nearly a dozen Arab states.

2. The President is aware that this is a moment of maximum peril for the Sunnis of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon. Iran’s Shi’a Houthi allies have withstood a ferocious Saudi bombing campaign in San’a, and may yet win much more of Yemen, giving Iran a potential base from which to threaten the Saudis from the south. Hezbollah, battle-hardened from fighting in Syria, dominates Lebanon. Most of Syria is now firmly back in Alawite (Shi’a) control. Assad owes his survival in large part  to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and to Hezbollah.

3. In Iraq Iranian Revolutionary Guards have helped defeat ISIS. ISIS is gone, but the Guards are still in Iraq. The government in Baghdad, now Shi’a-controlled, is firmly in Iran’s orbit, much to Sunni Arab chagrin.

4. In Lebanon, even though the Sunnis are as numerous as the Shiites (both have 27% of the population) they have no separate armed force, equivalent to Hezbollah, to defend their interests.

5. The Sunnis are justifiably alarmed by the “Shi’a crescent” that now extends from Iran through Iraq and Syria to Lebanon and the Mediterranean. That is much more worrisome to King Abdullah than the embassy move about which he, like most other Arab leaders, has uttered only pro-forma warnings about possible damage to peace-keeping.

6. Though it is not undermined directly by any Shi’a power, Sunni Egypt has an interest in helping its fellow Sunnis in limiting Iran and its proxies (Hezbollah, the Houthis) from extending their power. That means supporting Saudi Arabia in Yemen, helping the Sunnis in Iraq from being overwhelmed by the majority Shi’a, and even, possibly, aiding Sunnis in Lebanon to create a militia of their own capable of resisting Hezbollah. This could even include supplying Egyptian soldiers, paid for with Saudi funds. In the Sinai, ISIS members (Wilayat Sinai) attack those whom they regard as not real Muslims, such as the more than 300 worshippers killed in a Sufi mosque a few weeks ago, and the soldiers and police of an Egyptian government they believe to be un-Islamic. El-Sisi has during the last year drawn closer to Hamas, which appears to have ceased its previous cooperation with ISIS, but ISIS remains potent in the Sinai even without such aid. Furthermore, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt proper continues to attack Coptic churches and worshippers. El-Sisi needs American military aid, and understanding, too, for there are Americans keen to punish his government  for supposed “human rights” infractions, insufficiently aware of what it takes to deal with enemies like ISIS, and the Muslim Brotherhood. El-Sisi has no interest in sacrificing good relations with America, and Egyptian national interests, for the sake of those “Palestinians” who never have been, and never will be, satisfied as long as Israel continues to exist. El-Sisi is one of those Egyptian nationalists who believes his country has done more than enough for the “Palestinians” by taking part in four costly wars (the 1948-49 war with Israel, the Sinai Campaign in 1956, the Six-Day War in 1967, the Yom Kippur War in 1973), and from now on his policy is strictly Egypt First.

President Trump has now heard from the likes of Mahmoud Abbas, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Jimmy Carter (they were all horrified by Trump’s embassy announcement). Many around the world have criticized him for the very thing that most deserves praise. He understands that appeasement of Muslim Arabs does not sate, but whets their appetites for more. Had he given in to Arab and “Palestinian”  threats, and decided that despite his campaign promise he should, just like Bill Clinton, George Bush, and Barack Obama, keep the American embassy in Tel Aviv, that would not have promoted peace negotiations, but only encouraged Arab intransigence. Trump grasped the significance of the Sunni-Shi’a split in the Middle East, and took advantage of the historical moment. The “days of rage” will come and go (more Israeli and American flags will be burned, more tires set on fire, more rocks thrown, and there will be more photo ops for Western journalists eager to exaggerate the Arab and Muslim response), and the “Palestinians” will discover that they no longer matter to other Arabs as they once did, and — it must be frightening for Mahmoud Abbas to realize — they never will again. The American embassy will be built, inexorably, in Jerusalem, Israel’s eternal capital. There’s no going back. The dogs bark, the caravan moves on.

First published in Jihad Watch.

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Posted on 12/11/2017 4:38 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Sunday, 10 December 2017
Death Takes a Hallyday in Paris
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by Michael Curtis

He and the song are gone but the melody lingers on. Outside of France he was the greatest rock singer you never head of. Yet on December  9, 2017 a large police convoy escorted his white coffin from the Paris suburb of Marnes-La-Coquette, via the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs Elysees to the funeral service at the Madeleine Church in central Paris. Thousands of people lined the route, waiting hours to be spectators at the ceremony, and to pay tribute to a legendary singer, now regarded as a French monument. The ceremony at the famous Church was attended by an astonishing assembly, French President Emmanuel Macron, ex Presidents Francois Hollande and old friend Nicholas Sarkozy, leaders of the church, and well known celebrities of stage and screen, such as Marion Cotillard and Jean Remo and others.  

This was not a state funeral, but it was ordered by Macron as a substitute, an extraordinary elaborate send off for a distinguished individual, one unusual in the French secular state, particularly when the proceedings included St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians. The event with its enormous crowds in attendance, presence of 1500 police officials, 700 motor bikers, helicopters, was unusual in a Church , a temple to Napoleon's army and the site of Chopin's funeral in October 1849, and normally reserved for France's important political leaders or great writers like Victor Hugo.

The city of Paris paid tribute. The Eiffel Tower was illuminated with a sign "Merci Johnny," honoring the remarkable  Johnny Hallyday, the singer who started life as Jean-Philippe Smet, and died after a long illness of lung cancer aged 74 on December 6, 2017.  Banners in the assembled crowd echoed the theme "Johnny, je t'aime."

At the funeral service President Macron spoke warmly of Johnny. "He was part of us, a part of France...we're here today because of him, almost 60 years in music and he is there, still there, always there." He is a monument of French song.

Hallyday was indeed that, a legend in France. Yet though he brought U.S. rock'n'roll to France, starting in the late 1950s as an American style rocker he never achieved similar fame in the United States as in his own country. His career as a singer started when he was influenced by U.S. rock'n'roll records, and a film of Elvis Presley, Loving You. He fell in love wth U.S. rock and translated it into French. He introduced France to U.S. songs, taking them from the most well known, like Presley and Chubby Checker and singing them in his own version in French.

Hallyday was essentially and unmistakenly French, but he had a love affair with the U.S. Early in his career, he sang an album of America's Rockin' Hits, but never made it big in the U.S. though he appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, in Las Vegas in 1996,  lived for a time in Los Angeles, and rode his Harley-Davidson in the California Desert. He did however have rapport with American performers, especially Jimi Hendrix who on a number of occasions opened Hallyday's act.

His career in France lasted 57 years, with changing and eclectic musical styles, rocker, hippie, performer of rock opera Hamlet in 1976, blues, and country, later developing a deep operatic tone, selling more than 110 million records, and appearing in more than 20 films, often with cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth. He was, as a result of the emotional response to his singing, one of the world's best selling performers. France heard music when it looked at him.

Halliday's fame and the hysteria surrounding him as a handsome, sexually charged rocker, matinee idol, was also linked, like that of the Beatles and Rolling Stones to a colorful lfe, at first with his blond hair in a pompadour, almost an imitation of James Dean. His life was turbulent, bad-boy image, five high profile marriages, two to the same woman, two attempted suicides, drugtaker, financial problems, dodging  high French taxes by residing in Gstaad, Switzerland, a motor cycle accident. One saving grace is that he appeared to be one of the few people in France who refused to be seduced by Edith Piaf. 

He was an extraordinary mixture of the old French values, hard work with non-stop tours, and plain speaking, love of country, on one hand, and adoption of  new technology, on the other hand. He was a mixture of enthusiam and depression, a victim of a colon cancer operation that went wrong, an individual who fell from the heights  and redeemed hinself. He was worthy of the honor when President Jacques Chirac awarded him Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor in 1997.

By coincidence the ceremony honoring Johnny, faults and all,  appeared in a week in which two other important personalities, faults and all, were presented on the TV screens. One was presented in the episode in The Crown  featuring the Duke of Windsor, formerly King Edward VIII. His less than admirable career included admiration for and a visit to see Adolf Hitler in 1937, his giving the Hitler salute on another occasion, and his meetings with Nazi leaders, Rudolf Hess, Joachim von Ribbentrop, and Joseph Goebbels. Britain was fortunate that he abdicated the throne so the country could meet the menace of German Nazism. Windsor would not be accorded burial in Westminster Abbey or St. Paul's Cathedral, the London equivalents of the Madeleine Church in Paris.

Another TV show presents an unexpected and unpleasant view of John F. Kennedy. He is portrayed less as the charming and inspiring leader, and popular President of legend and more as a womaniser, jealous husband, and taker of a mixture of drugs to cope with his medical problems, colitis, prostatitis, and Addison's disease.

By contrast, Hallyday the French bad boy who sang of love became, as the result  of the sound of his voice,  part of the glories of French life and the history of song in France. But also, with the songs he sang,  part of the United States culture has entered into the portals of the  national Pantheon in France. Johnny symbolizes a love affair between France and the United States.

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Posted on 12/10/2017 6:37 AM by Michael Curtis
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Saturday, 9 December 2017
Gothenburg and Malmö Sweden:Twenty masked men throw Molotov cocktails at synagogue
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From the Daily Mail, the Swedish edition of the Local and Sveriges Radio.

Twenty-one masked men have been seen throwing molotov cocktails at a synagogue in central Gothenburg.'Twenty-one seems very specific; twenty, or twenty odd, or two dozen would be more usual. 'We in place with a number of units,' said Peter Nordengard, police chief of the West Western region, told the Expressen newspaper.

Dvir Maoz, the World Bnei Akiva youth movement's emissary in Gothenburg, said the attack happened a little after 10 p.m. while youths from the local Jewish community were attending a party inside the synagogue complex. He described looking out from inside the synagogue lobby area and from the corner of his eye seeing 'a ball of fire' approaching the building. The guards saw it in the security cameras and called police right away. The children were stressed, it was the first time they had ever experienced a terrorist attack near them.'  

The attacked happened after several hundred people marched through the centre of Malmo on Friday night to protest against President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. 
Demonstrators shouted “we want our freedom back and we’re going to shoot the Jews”, among other slogans, according to a report by Sveriges Radio.

Sveriges Radio reports, according to on line translation, "We have announced the intifada from Malmö. We want our freedom back, and we will shoot the Jews." And  "the Jews should remember that the army of Muhammad will return" .

P4 Malmöhus tried to talk with some organizers, but no one could be identified as responsible for the demonstration. It was a spontaneous gathering, said several people we spoke to.

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Posted on 12/09/2017 6:25 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Saturday, 9 December 2017
Revealed: 84% of men convicted of grooming young white girls are Asian and see them as 'easy targets'
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From the Mail on Sunday

The vast majority of men convicted of grooming young white girls – 84 per cent – are of Asian origin, according to a report to be published this week. The study by the renowned counter-extremism think-tank Quilliam says that of these, seven in ten are believed to be of Pakistani-Muslim heritage.

Asian gangs have deliberately abused white girls because they hold entrenched racist attitudes towards them as being ‘easy targets’ for sex, according to the report, which is based on the testimonies of convicted Asian men during court hearings.

The study – likely to provoke controversy – is written by two British Pakistani authors, who say they hope it will encourage their community to ‘take responsibility’. . . The authors said in a statement: ‘In attempts to protect the ‘‘sentiments’’ of the British Pakistani community, we have failed vulnerable young girls who have suffered years of irreversible damage. . . Most of these men are of Pakistani (Muslim) origin, and the victims that have come forward so far are almost exclusively young white girls.’

The Quilliam report studied all court cases involving grooming gangs in England and Wales between 2005 and 2017. It said that 58 gangs had been prosecuted in that period, with 264 individual convictions.
They are a little late with this; it is something we have known for years. Maybe the home truths of Easy Meat have made hard reading for them.

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Posted on 12/09/2017 6:07 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Saturday, 9 December 2017
New book shines light on Muslim gender problems
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Farzana Hassan writes in the Toronto Sun:

Phyllis Chesler’s book, Islamic Gender Apartheid: Exposing a Veiled War Against Women, analyses some pervasive gender inequities in parts of the Muslim world that are enabled by culture and laws. The book comprises essays, columns and articles written over decades, from the time the author was a captive bride in Kabul in the 1960s to the present day.

The book, therefore, shows the historical progression of these injustices and confirms that they have become worse as fundamentalism continues to grow in many parts of the Islamic world. Some of this deterioration can be seen in the introduction of draconian legislation such as the adultery laws of Pakistan.

The author also notes with disdain that criticism of such practices has become taboo in some Western circles and that “with some precious exceptions, Second, Third and Fourth wave feminists are silent on the subject of Islamic gender apartheid.”

Feminist silence is deafening on all the gender issues that prevail in countries like Pakistan, such as the segregation, marginalization and forced marriages of underage girls, honour killings, polygamy, wife battery, confinement of women to homes, brutal laws on adultery, rape and sexual violence, and the exclusive right of a man to divorce his wife by simply pronouncing a divorce three times. These are issues the book discusses candidly.

The author concedes that “the subordination, marginalization and disenfranchisement of women may be a problem in all religions. However there is a difference between an evolved diversified and pre-modern Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism Sikhism and Hinduism as compared to a medieval and barbaric version of Islam.”

This comment points to the dire need for a change in social and cultural attitudes and related law reform in Islamic countries.

But the required reformation can take place only if individuals with a conscience are allowed to question these practices and to come up with solutions and ways of implementing them.

The truth is that in most parts of the Islamic world, any questioning of the status quo is summarily shunned. Even what Westerners would consider moderate dissent is punished severely, as in the case of Raif Badawi in Saudi Arabia. Draconian laws, such as those on blasphemy, slow the momentum needed to bring about social change in society.

Similar but subtler obstacles to freedom of speech have crept into Western society. Chesler notes with dismay that the left’s extreme liberalism and modern feminism have prevented healthy debate. Even legitimate concerns about certain cultural practices associated with orthodox Islam have come to be shunned as Islamophobia.

About feminists, Chesler notes: “They consider it “racist” to condemn gender apartheid of the most savage sort. And “racism” trumps their concerns about gender. Incredibly, those same Western feminists who condemn as patriarchal Western institutions of marriage, biological motherhood, heterosexuality and religion, now view Islamic face- and- body veiling, the hijab, purdah [seclusion of women], arranged marriage, and polygamy as sacred rights.”

The book is an incisive account of many of these pressing issues. It tends to be a little repetitive at times, as it is a compilation of essays written over many decades. However, the issues need to be reiterated in the present context as clearly and forcefully as Chesler has done in her book. A misguided notion of racism must not obstruct the welfare of Muslim women and girls.

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Posted on 12/09/2017 5:48 AM by NER
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Saturday, 9 December 2017
The Palestinians should take what they can get while they can
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All has changed in the Middle East. The Palestinians no longer benefit from the patronage of the Arab leaders to keep the pot boiling with Israel

by Conrad Black

The American decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is an inspired move and the Canadian government’s decision to respond judiciously is very commendable. Nothing useful in the Middle East peace process has occurred in 25 years, but the correlation of forces in the region and the ambitions of the Arab powers have evolved. For decades, Israel’s most fanatical enemies were Iraq, Syria and Saudi Arabia, and the first two countries have disintegrated and Saudi Arabia is now an Israeli ally with Egypt and against Iran. The Arabs dislike the Palestinians at least as much as they dislike the Jews and the Lebanese Christians — all are considered commercial elites where they have been minorities in Arab countries, and as there are no more Jews and very few Christians in Arab countries, that animosity has abated. For decades the Arab powers used the Palestinian question as a red herring to enflame the Arab masses and distract them from the chronic misgovernment the Arab rulers were inflicting on their peoples. Now, for the first time since the British relinquished Palestine, and Jordan and France vacated Lebanon and Syria, 70 years ago, there is a physical encroachment on the Arab world, from their ancient Persian enemy.

The Arab Spring was nonsense — the notion that democracy can easily take hold where it has never been and no institutions exist to promote it was a fantasy worthy of George W. Bush, whose aggressive championship of democracy handed Lebanon to Hezbollah and Gaza to Hamas, and contributed to the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, where it had been the 900 pound gorilla in the Arab house for 75 years. (By the dumb luck of the Brotherhood’s incompetence, the West dodged the bullet and the Egyptian army took back the government.) The only way forward is authoritarian government seeking economic growth and gradual social progress. This was essentially the course followed by the Shah of Iran, the most enlightened ruler Persia has had since Alexander the Great’s transitory regime 23 centuries ago, and he lost control of events to mad medieval theocrats. Saudi Arabia, a state that has been a joint venture between the House of Saud and the Wahhabi radical Islamic leadership, is now modernizing and becoming a benign and more secular dictatorship, leading the resistance to Iran. The new government of Saudi Arabia has proposed to the Palestinians a settlement of its affairs with Israel less generous than the Israelis have themselves offered, and it implicitly acknowledges that Jerusalem is Israeli.

The Arab Spring was nonsense

There will be no significant opposition to this move, apart from festive burnings of American flags and pictures of Donald Trump in the West Bank and Gaza. The Arab masses don’t care what happens to the Palestinians or Jerusalem (and the U.S. will presumably put its embassy in an uncontested section of Western Jerusalem). The Chinese and Russians object because they consider themselves rivals to the United States and are happy when the United States is mired in Middle Eastern conflicts as a prolonged, low-key Vietnam, as it was for 13 years under George W. Bush and Barack Obama. China has no dog in that hunt, and Russia fancies it has a role to play as champion of factions in several of the fictional or failed states in the region. The Western Europeans object because they think they have a role there as former colonial powers. In fact, there has never been a West European post-Second World War policy in that region except to await the American position and then stake out something more favourable to the Arabs.

We have just observed the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, which Jews, or at least Israel, have generously celebrated as the first recognition of Israel’s right to a Middle Eastern homeland. In fact, and as I have had occasion to remark in the British House of Lords (I am a member of it), the British, more than any other country, created this mess by selling the same real estate to two buyers at the same time, and inciting the right to possession of both, with the professed ambition to create “a Jewish homeland” without compromising the “rights of the Palestinians.” This was moonshine and Britain checked out, leaving the new Jewish state, established on the motion of Stalin’s U.S.S.R. at the United Nations, seconded by President Truman’s America, to fight for its life. The Jewish people effectively faced a second attempt at annihilation just three years after the liberation of the Nazi death camps.

There will be no significant opposition to this move, apart from festive burnings

While the Arab sections of Israel have been under-served, the Arabs enjoy liberties they cannot exercise in any predominantly Arab country and have a large representation in the Israeli Knesset and full civil rights. To some extent, Israel has carried out the second part of the Balfour Declaration and observed Palestinian rights, difficult though it is when the official policy of the Palestinian leadership is the eviction or extermination of the Jews, yet again, and as so often before. It ill behooves Britain’s prime minister, Theresa May, to say that President Trump has been “unhelpful.” The British dalliance in the Middle East was a disaster, except for British Petroleum, and ended in the ignominy of Suez in 1956, where Lester Pearson and Louis St. Laurent, with American encouragement, did what they could to salvage any decorum for Britain and France.

This recent and contemporary bunk about Israel as an apartheid state is the last gasp of the useful idiots of primeval anti-Semitism. The Jews are the majority, unlike the Afrikaaners; the Arabs have substantial rights; and Israel was not just admitted to the United Nations as a territory and jurisdiction, like Canada and the United States and other existing countries in 1945 were, but was created by the United Nations as a Jewish state. It is the ultimate, legitimate country. The agitation about Jerusalem as capital is nonsense — the Israeli Knesset and Supreme Court are there and Russia recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in April of this year, which makes their disapproval of Trump’s move this week a bit rich, even by the unvaryingly cynical standards of the Kremlin. Prior to 1967, when the Jordanians ruled East Jerusalem and the West Bank, Jews could not pray at the Western wall, could not attend the Hebrew University at Mount Scopus or be treated at the Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus, which Jews had founded decades before, and they could not live in the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem, where their ancestors had lived for 200 generations. Trump has undone the shame of Obama allowing the United Nations last year to condemn Israeli possession of these sites as “a flagrant violation of international law.”

The bunk about Israel as an apartheid state is the last gasp of idiots

All has changed in the Middle East. The Palestinians no longer benefit from the patronage of the Arab leaders to keep the pot boiling with Israel — they were happy to be cannon fodder, to prevent the improvement of the wretched settler camps or the resettlement of their inhabitants, as long as it made them personally rich and world famous. They could have had a Palestinian state any time in the last 40 years if they had been prepared to recognize the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state, its raison d’être. They preferred celebrity and violence and some of their leaders have called for a new Intifada this week; presumably, this time, the population will have the intelligence to resist the call — it’s not as if the last two Intifadas were a howling success. They have been abandoned by their former patrons and Israel is geometrically stronger than it was even 20 years ago, not at all isolated, and not threatened by Iraq and Syria.

The answer has been obvious since the Taba meetings in January 2001: the West bank becomes narrower and the Gaza Strip thicker and the Palestinians have a secure road between them. It isn’t Israel, which is primarily for the Jews, or Jordan, which is majority Palestinian but ruled by the Bedouins and the Hashemite kings, but it is a state, and with foreign assistance, which would be plentiful, and Palestinian tenacity, which is proverbial even by local standards, it would flourish. There are 198 countries in the world — not every newly created state can expect to be a Canada, Australia, or Brazil.

Donald Trump has recognized realities and done the Palestinians a favour, if they and their ancient terrorist leadership aren’t too punch-drunk to recognize the facts: the Palestinians were used and are no longer useful. Donald Trump is a realist and is not overly concerned with the American Jewish vote, which is now infested with Jew-hating Jews anyway. The Palestinians should take what they can get while they can get it.

First published in the National Post.

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Posted on 12/09/2017 4:42 AM by Conrad Black
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Friday, 8 December 2017
Sexual Hypocrisy in the United States and Britain
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by Michael Curtis

Some lies have consequences, others do not.  No real political consequence resulted from the declaration of a well known politician on TV on January 26, 1998, that "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Monica Lewinsky.  I never told anybody to lie, not a single time, never." It took six months before the manifest admission that indeed "I did have a relationship with Miss Lewinsky that was not appropriate. I misled people. It is time, past time to move on." The problem in American politics is that the time for dealing with sexual hypocrisy and moving on is taking more time than warranted.

The latest case came to a head on December 7, 2017. After a number of allegations of sexual harrassment and mistreatment of women, without admission of responsibility, and under pressure from most of his Senate colleagues, Senator Al Franken announced his somewhat equivocal decision to resign "in the coming weeks." The 66 year old Franken, acknowledging he was shocked and upset  by the allegations against him, explained that "nothing I have done as a Senator, has brought dishonor on this institution."

By coincidence the question of honor and dishonor in politics 50 years ago  has been evoked by the death on December 4, 2017 of the once notorious model Christine Keeler who has earned a place in British history as a high class "call girl." The sordid case in which she was key figure had everything, unrestrained sex, scandals, class privilege, the role of Soviet spies, fear of possible espionage, echoes of the Cold War, sexual hypocrisy, and lying to political colleagues.

The events involved Keeler, the hapless uneducated young former topless dancer, a figure in the sleazy sector of London society at the time, indiscriminately sexually promiscuous. On July 8, 1961 at the Cliveden estate of Lord Astor, the very rich aristocrat, she was spotted swimming naked in the pool by John Profumo who had the misfortune and bad timing to see her as she got out of the pool. Within a few days the 46 year old Profumo, the husband of famous actress Valerie Hobson began an affair with the 19 year old Keeler that lasted a few months.

It was Profumo's misfortune that the sexually promisiciscous Keeler was simultaneously having an affair both with Profumo, then Secretary of State for War, and with the senior Soviet naval attache and GRU official in London, Yevgeni Ivanov. No one geninely believed that secrets or military information were divulged by Profumo in pillow talk in Keeler's encounters with the two men. But though not directly connected with Keeler's relationships the years of these events were those embracing the Cuban missile crisis. In London, Soviet officials were attempting to persuade UK policians to avert developments in Cuba during the crisis.

It took a series of events, some violent and criminal, concerning other lovers of Keeler before the Profumo relationship came to public light in a court case. When it did, Profumo, like Bill Clinton in 1998, denied that the relationship with a his mistress was anything more than an innocent social friendship. 

This was Profumo's downfall. Descendant of a Sardinian background and a wealthy family, educated at Harrow and Oxford, he rose to the rank of Brigadier in World War II. He had had a sucessful political career, starting at age 25, when as a young man on May 8, 1940, after the fall of Norway, he had refused to support the government of Neville Chamberlain , voted against him and thus helped bring Winston Churchill to power as prime minister  Profumo became Secretary of State for War in July 1960. But on March 22, 1963 he made his mistake. To lie in the nude may be terribly rude, but to lie in the House of Commons is obscene.

In a statement on that day, in what is known as a "personal statement" when MPs can make a point of a personal nature, Profumo lied to the House of Commons. He stated there was no impropriety whatever in "my relationship with Miss Keeler." He would not hesitsate to issue writs for libel and slander of scandelous allegations that were made or repeated outside the House of Commons.

His explanation was inadequate, not accepted as true, and he resigned his ministerial post and his membership of the House on June 5, 1963.

Profumo was brought down, not on any moral or ethical issue. The Prime Minister Harold Macmillan in his speech in the House on June 17, 1963 explained to the House that Profumo had lied to his wife, to his legal advisers, to ministerial colleagues, and above all to the House of Commons. He had undermined one of the very foundations on which political life must be conducted. 

Profumo never again participated in politics, but spent the rest of his life, 40 years, as a voluntary  worker and chief fund raiser in Toynbee Hall, a charitable organization helping poor residents in the East End of London.

Profumo had violated the high standards, the set of expected values of parliament, honest speaking, and sought to make amends. By contrast, nothing in the Al Franken 11 minute speech of December 7 resembled this. There was no profuse apology to women who had made allegations against him. Rather, he asserted that "some of the allegations agsainst me are simply not true. Others I remember very differently." At first, Franken, though embarassed and ashamed by his behavior, said he would not resign. But in the present climate of revulsion over allegations of sexual harasssment, he was obliged to bow to pressure from his own Democratic colleagues in the Senate.

Finally, what is disconcerting is that after Franken's speech, those fellow members who had urged him to resign lined up to hug him, behavior that smacks of hypocrisy. Franken said he is  going to try to learn from his mistakes, but he should take his cue from John Profumo and do so outside the realm of politics. True feminists should insist on this.

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Posted on 12/08/2017 6:39 AM by Michael Curtis
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Friday, 8 December 2017
The Psalmist Sings of Jerusalem, Yerushalayim, and of the Temple, the House of the Lord, Many Centuries Before Ever Islam Was Concocted
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"PSALM 122.

"A Song of Degrees.  Of David.

"I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD.

"Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem.

"Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together:

"Whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, unto the testimony of Israel, to give thanks unto the Name of the LORD.

"For there are set thrones of judgement, the thrones of the house of David.

"Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.

"Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces.

"For my brethren and companions' sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee.

"Because of the house of the LORD our God I will seek thy good."

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Posted on 12/08/2017 6:31 AM by Christina McIntosh
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Friday, 8 December 2017
Trump’s Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital
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by Gary Fouse

As a supporter of Israel, I support President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. It is long overdue. The fact of the matter is that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and since Israel is our staunchest ally in the Middle East. we should recognize it as such.

We should also not wring our hands over the objections of the Arabs, the Europeans, or anyone else. First of all, the Europeans need to pay attention to their own problems. They are many and threaten the future existence of Europe. I am referring to the mass migration of millions of Muslims into Europe. They have not been invited, but come nevertheless. The Europeans (Eastern Europe excepted) have no clue as to what to do, so who are they to lecture us? The Czech Republic to its credit, has followed suit and recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

In addition, I am not swayed by arguments that Muslims in the Middle East and elsewhere will protest, riot or commit acts of terrorism in response. What else is new? They protest as I write and will likely riot in the coming days, not only in the Middle East, but as far away as Pakistan. So again: What else is new? It's what they do. If, in the coming days, Gaza launches rockets into Israel or some Palestinian motorists runs down pedestrians in an Israeli city, will that be Trump's fault? They already do it.

And what about Palestinian/Arab/Muslim claims to Jerusalem anyway? The main reason Palestinians lay claim to Jerusalem is because Islam claims it as its third most sacred site. Why? Well, it seems the Prophet Mohammad claimed to have ridden on a winged horse to "the Farthest Mosque" (Jerusalem) and from there ascended to Heaven to meet with previous prophets. Islamic historiography claims that the Farthest Mosque was, in fact, Jerusalem. Of course, Jerusalem was the capital of the Jewish nation of Israel centuries before Mohammad appeared in what is now present-day Saudi Arabia.

In addition, East Jerusalem was occupied by Jordan along with the West Bank from 1948-1967. During that period, Islam was declared the official religion, and Christians in East Jerusalem were restricted while Jewish sites and synagogues were destroyed. According to Islamist thinking any land that has come under Muslim control must remain so forever. Sorry, but American foreign policy must never be influenced by that kind of thinking.

Trump promised during the campaign that he would make this move, and this partially fulfills his promise. The next step is to find a site and begin construction of a new embassy. The Palestinians can register their objections, but they should do so in a civilized manner without resorting to attacks against American diplomatic personnel anywhere. Should such attacks occur, the world should take notice and take appropriate diplomatic measures in response, such as withdrawal of diplomatic recognition and/or a cutoff in aid to the Palestinians. Of course, I won't hold my breath on that. With Trump, however, the Palestinians should expect a suitable response.

 

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Posted on 12/08/2017 5:48 AM by Gary Fouse
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