Tuesday, 31 October 2017
Trooper Idriess, of the 5th Australian Light Horse: HIs Impressions of the Yishuv in Eretz Yisroel, 1917

From his book "The Desert Column", chapter 50, which is based on the personal diary he kept throughout his time in the army, both at Gallipoli and then in the Middle Eastern campaign.  Idriess witnessed the crucial battle that liberated Beersheba (though his regiment, the 5th, did not take part in the charge), and describes later stages of the campaign, up as far as Jaffa, where he received the wound that made him unfit for any further service (hence he was not present to witness and describe the liberation of Jerusalem).

What is clear from his account is the respect and liking he feels for the Jews of the yishuv; and he offers a pretty astute assessment of their situation when under Ottoman Muslim rule.

"I think this is the 17th (December 1917).  Yesterday we rode by numbers of vividly pretty little red-roofed towns.  The inhabitants are very fair-skinned, mostly Jews.  They are by far the most cleanly people we have yet met.  They are very hospitable although they do charge us a hefty price for brown bread, honey, and tobacco.

'Lots of them have had a hard time from the Turks.

And that is putting it mildly.  I understand - from Andrew Bostom and from NER's own 'Hugh Fitzgerald' - that in Adolf Boehm's history of the Zionist movement, he depicts in detail the way that the Young Turkish leader and Army Commander, Ahmet Cemal (Djemal), reduced the Jewish population of Ottoman Palestine by deportation and massacres, wiping out entire families of Jewish nationalist leaders.   Hugh quotes Boehm's sobering conclusion: "If Palestine had not been freed by the English at the end of 1917, the Jewish Yishuv (settlement) would have been exterminated by Djemal.  By the war's end it was reduced to 55,000 souls, that is, half of the pre-war population."  - CM

"They (that is, the Jews of 'Palestine' in 1917 - CM) seem to live between two devils, the Turk and the Arab.

Between two Muslim devils: the Turkish Muslim and the Arab Muslim. - CM

'Apparently the Turk prevents the Arab from massacring them outright, because the Jews are a very handy people to squeeze taxes from..".

Thus in three sentences this ordinary Aussie Light Horse trooper captures the precarious situation of Jewish dhimmis in the land of Israel under the Ottoman Muslim empire.  And of course, as pointed out in the passage from Boehm already mentioned above, such limited and self-interested 'protection-for-payola' as the Turkish Muslims had given, had been very much withdrawn by 1917, as the Jews of the yishuv were more and more perceived by those Muslims to be insufficiently submissive. - CM

'Distantly we see the city roofs of "Jaffa the beautiful" - very pretty in its hills and trees and orchards, even at this distance...  Some of our boys got wine yesterday from the  inhabitants of the little town near by, and things are bit lively.  I think the town is Richon [Rishon].

'Yesterday we rode through the place along a narrow road, the inhabitants in such queer garments lining the roads and shady lanes to stare at these brown sleeveless soldiers.

"We must have seemed queer fighting-men to them, for they stared as if they had expected to see supermen, not rough-clad Australians.

"I don't think that they could realize that we actually were the men who had driven back their taskmaster of centuries."

"They seem also to be on the verge of something they cannot believe, cannot understand; they tremble when they whisper of Jerusalem.

"It appears there is some prophecy, centuries old, that one day Jerusalem will fall, and will be taken from the Turk or from whatever infidel (in this context, Idriess's usage of the term 'infidel' seems to imply 'non-Jew' - CM) holds it."

Remember: Idriess wrote this in his diary in 1917, prior to the liberation of Jerusalem; and the book "The Desert Column" was first published in 1932, during the period of the Mandate, but before the restoration of the modern Jewish State of Israel. - CM

"We passed a quaint little building with "Hotel" prominently on a signboard, and other signs in Greek.  A fair Hebe was leaning over the verandah, with bared arms and a winning smile.  She had won, too, for the place was full of officers of the forces taking occupation; others seemed to be arriving per horse and lorry every minute.

"These towns (that is: Jewish, and also Christian? - CM) have plenty of flocks, plenty of wine, plenty of bread; the people are clean and civilized.  We are coming into orchard towns now. The green oranges have given the whole regiment the tummy-ache...

"...A beautiful period of our ride was after crossing the Wadi Hanein.  We rode through tall mimosa hedges, in perfumed bloom, into the colony of Nachalat (the heritage of Reuben).

Observe that ordinary Trooper Idriess, probably with a bit of help from the historically-informed army chaplains - some of whom were very keen archaeologists - is well up on the Biblical history and geography of the Holy Land. - CM

"Crowds of white men, women and children flocked the scented roads, shouting, "Shallome! Shallome! Shallome!"."

One fully understands that rapturous welcome, here recorded by Idriess, when one reflects, in light of Boehm's observations previously mentioned, that the swift advance of the Australians and the English had, very probably, averted a Muslim mass-murder and/ or expulsion of all 55,000 Jews that at that time remained in eretz Yisroel (some 55,000 of the pre-war population, 110 000 in 1914, having already been either expelled or killed).

I will add, furthermore, that Idriess like many other of the ordinary Australian soldiers who took part in the Mideast campaign, whilst warming to the Jews of the Yishuv, sensibly disliked and distrusted the local Muslims, especially the local Arab Muslims.  Speaking from much bitter experience in Egypt, Sinai, the Negev and 'Palestine', Idriess calls the Bedouin "the ghouls of the battlefield", referring to their habit of sneaking in to slit the throats of wounded men - whether Allied, German or Turk - after a battle, in order to rob those that they murdered; and their habit also of digging up the recently-buried dead - again, whether Allied, German or Turk - in order to strip the body of any possessions, and leave it lying like carrion.  He has no illusions either about their reliability as "allies"; he refers to them - the Bedouin Arab Muslims - as "the Turk's best spies".  No T E Lawrence, he!  It is clear too from certain passages in "The Desert Column" that Idriess and his fellow Aussie soldiers were baffled and indeed disgusted by the English fascination with and kid-glove treatment of the dangerous and infinitely-duplicitous Muslim Arabs.

Posted on 10/31/2017 10:02 PM by Christina McIntosh
Tuesday, 31 October 2017
Remembering Beersheba: On All Hallows' Eve, 100 Years Ago Today, 800 Australian Lighthorsemen Charged Turkish and German Trenches and Liberated Beersheba from Ottoman Muslim Rule

And that victory was the beginning of the end of over a thousand years of ruinous Muslim imperial dominance over the Holy Land, Eretz Yisroel.

Here are several articles reflecting on that epic charge of lightly-armed horsemen that took place on the evening of 31st October 1917.  There is a special memorial event happening in Israel on the anniversary this year, with a re-enactment of the ride of the horsemen, some of the riders being descendants or collateral kin of the original soldiers.

From the ABC's country program, "Landline".

"Battle of Beersheba: The Living Legacy of the Light Horsemen's Daring WWI Cavalry Charge."

'Peter Haydon has a treasured wartime relic he keeps in an antique tin.  It is a bullet, a small copper projectile that is both a grisly reminder of the horrors of war and a poignant link to his great-uncle, Captain Guy Haydon.

'The bullet was fired by a Turkish rifleman (a Turkish Muslim rifleman - CM) at Beersheba late on the afternoon of October 31, when 800 Australian Light Horsemen, men of the 4th and 12th regiments, made an audacious charge upon the heavily-defended, strategicallly-important town.

'The attack on Beersheba was aimed at breaking the stalemate of the Middle East Campaign.

'To get within striking distance of the town, the Australian Light Horsemen had already endured an arduous ride across scorching desert sands.  Their horses had not had water for 36 hours.  "It was a do-or-die thing.  They basically had to get those wells or they had no water", said Peter Haydon, who has pored over the diaries and letters left to him by his great-uncle.

'The charge was the last daring act of a day-long fight by British forces.

'The Light Horsemen, brandishing bayonets, galloped across an open plain into machinegun, rifle and artillery fire, surprising the enemy, who expected them to stop and lay siege to the town.

"The Turks just couldn't believe that these Australians would be mad enough to do it", Mr Haydon said.

Too used to bullying terrorised dhimmis such as the hopelessly-outnumbered and defenceless Armenians... and, therefore, totally 'thrown' when they encountered a force of fearless armed Infidels capable of fighting like tigers. - CM

'Famously, they charged so quickly that the Turkish gunners had no time to lower their rifle sights.

'The Australians swept into the town.

'In hand-to-hand fighting (and it was bloody ferocious fighting - Ion L Idriess's "Desert Column" contains some grimly vivid descriptions of what those fights were like, in the course of the campaign that proceeded from Egypt across Sinai into the Muslim-held land of Israel were like, although he personally was not part of the Beersheba charge - CM) they routed the enemy and gained a stunning victory.

"No-one was expecting a charge over a couple of kilometres at absolute top speed", said publisher and historian Tom Thompson.  "So it was a win and it took the breath out of everybody".

'They never hestitated or faltered for a moment", wrote Guy Haydon from a hospital in Cairo a few days later.  "It was grand".

'Midnight's sacrifice.

'By then, Haydon's war was over.  Somehow, he had survived a bullet which had lodged in his back, narrowly missing his spine but leaving a hole large enough to put your fist in.  He put the bullet in a tin and sent it back home to his mother in Australia as a memento. (!!! - CM).

'But Guy's horse, a celebrated black mare called Midnight, was dead.  Midnight was killed by the same bullet.

'As horse and rider had leapt a Turkish trench, a rifleman had fired up at his attackers.  "The bullet gets shot from underneath", said Mr Haydon, "so it goes through her stomach, through his saddle, through his bed-roll, and lodges in his back.  Just missed his spine by an absolute fraction."...

'Midnight was mortally wounded, but in absorbing the impact of a high-powered bullet at close range she inadvertently saved her rider's life.  "The romantic side of all that is that she did save his life", Mr Haydon said.  "This horse that he'd grown up with, she took the bullet [and] that saved his life. She died, but he manages to live."

'A 'blight on history'.

'Australia sent more than 135,000 horses to World War I, most of them as troop horses to the Middle East.

'Mr Haydon's family sent three of those horses.  His great-uncles Guy and Barney Haydon took their own horses to war, as did their neighbour and close friend Max Wright, who was given a horse by the Haydon family.  

'Barney Haydon and Max Wright rode those same horses until the end of the war; three years in the saddle, over many hundreds of kilometres of searing desert and rocky terrain.  By then the already-unbreakable bond between horse and rider had grown even stronger.  But at war's end, quarantine restrictions meant the horses could not be brought back to Australia.  Faced with them being sold to the  local population (which means, being sold to Muslims - and the Light Horsemen had seen how appallingly all animals were treated by those local Muslims - CM), many Light Horsemen preferred to shoot their own horses.  Though [it was] against military regulations, Barney Haydon and Max Wright chose that course.  Thinking about the fate of those loyal horses still moves Mr Haydon to tears...

'Mr Haydon's great uncles documented every aspect of their war service in letters, diaries and maps, and the records provide a vivid picture of the Australian LIght Horse and the little-known Middle East campaign.

'And there is also a living legacy.  Long renowned for its fine horses, Mr Haydon's "Bloomfield" horse stud, near Murrurundi in the upper Hunter Valley of New South Wales, still retains the same bloodlines of those warhorses of a century ago...

'The charge at Beersheba is often called the world's last successful cavalry charge.  As the centenary of the battle draws near, countless commemorations are planned across Australia in coming weeks (this article was published on 22 October - CM).

'The town of Beersheba will mark the anniversary with a major remembrance event.

The Israelis are well aware of the significance of this pivotal battle which was the beginning of the end of over a thousand years of ruinous Muslim imperial rule over eretz Yisroel. - CM  

'Mr Haydon proudly remembers the deeds of his great-uncles and the words of his great-uncle.  "And his accountwas, it was just complete gallantry," he said.  "And how they were just so courageous.  How these men just galloped into the face of these machine-guns, this fire, was just an amazing sight."

And another article, from 29 October 2017; Philip Williams reporting.


'Retracing the footsteps of our heroes at the Battle of Beersheba'.

'A century after Australian troops stormed out of the desert in what is now Israel, to overwhelm the Turkish post, we follow their descendants as they visit the battlefield.

'In a grassy paddock in the Capertee Valley, Lyn Richardson's thoughts are fixed on a machine-gun post in the desert sands of Israel.

'She is dressed in the Australian Light Horse uniform, much like her "Pop" wore when he stormed the Turkish position on horseback and wrote an immortal chapter in family lore.

'A hundred years on, Lyn is leaving her property in New South Wales for Israel, in the hope that she will soon stand on that patch of hallowed ground.  "I believe it's the left-hand-side machine-gun turret.  I want to find that", says Lyn..

Lyn and her husband are among dozens of Australians travelling to Israel this week to follow in the footsteps of their ancestors who rode in the famous Beersheba cavalry charge.

'The commemorations will culminate in a re-enactment of the charge on October 31, 100 years to the day after this extraordinary event in Australian military history.

'An unlikely attack from the desert.

There is a lesson here.  Do what the Mohammedans do not expect. Play offense, not defence. - CM

'In the year 1917, units of the Australian Light Horse had an audacious mission.

'The Turks (that is: the Turkish Muslims of the Ottoman Empire - CM) controlled Palestine (which they did not call 'Palestine'; neither they nor the other Muslim occupiers, the Muslim Arabs, ever thought of it as 'Palestine' nor even treated it as a discrete territory or single administrative unit - CM) and held a line from Beersheba to Gaza on the coast about 50 kilometres away.

'Thousands of Turkish troops supported by the Germans held well-fortified trenches defended with machine-guns, artillery, and even aircraft.

'Twice the British had been repelled, attempting to take Gaza.

'Beersheba was also protected by dry, barren deserts - surely no army would be foolish enough to attempt an attack on horseback from an inhospitable desert.  But that is exactly what happened.

Because many of the Australian horses and their riders were used to withering heat, used to harsh terrain and little or poor-quality water; not a few had been born and bred in the arid rangelands of the Outback, the Australian interior.  So they could survive and fight in Sinai and the Negev, in a way that perhaps men and horses from other more temperate infidel lands could not.  Again, I recommend Ion L Idriess's The Desert Column, based on his own diaries kept day-by-day throughout the campaign all the way from Egypt to Jaffa, for it gives good insight into precisely that.  General Chauvel, who was in charge of the Aussies, is famously claimed to have replied, when a British higher-up inquired of him "How do you find the land of the forty thieves?", "Forty thieves??  That's nothing. I've got forty thousand of them!" (the Aussies having gained something of a reputation for being good at 1/ evading enemy detection in the field 2/ scrounging, scavenging, and improvisation). - CM

'On the morning of October 31, 1917, the battle for Beersheba began.

'Thousands of British troops attacked defensive lines from the south and the wst of the town after an artillery barrage.  The Turks fell back but stillheld the all-important wells.

The wells that have made this town significant since the time of Abraham; the wells that give it its name - "Beer-Sheba", "the Well of the Oath" (see Genesis 21: 25-33, and 26: 18-33).- CM

'If the allies couldn't take the town with its vital water supplies, then many of the already-thirsty horses could die, and with them all hope of success.

'A high honour for a boy.

'Like many boys from the bush, Lyn's grandfather Henry "Harry" Peard was a teenager who lied about his age so that he could join the Light hOrse.

"My grandfather, he was in the 12th Light Horse which was the regiment which charged in Beersheba", she says.

'He was 15 years of age, went to Gallipoli, put his age up 10 years like so many crazy ones did for the excitement of war.

'What Lyn did not know was that her beloved Pop received a high honour, the distinguished conduct medal (DSM).

'He and another Australian charged at a Turkish machine-gun post, silencing the weapon and the Turks who had already killed men and horses.

'But like so many of his generation, Lyn's grandfather spoke little of his wartime experiences on his return to Australia.

'She mostly remembers him as a humble man who loved horses. "We had a fortunate time, Pop and I.  He taught me to ride, and I didn't even know how much of a hero he was", she says...."I want to go to Beersheba for Pop".

'But it's not just about the men.  Lyn now breeds the same types of horses the Australian soldiers rode on that very charge - a breed renowned for their strength, resilience, and sheer courage.  "The Turks totally honoured them; they were scared of the Australian Light Horse", she says.

Ahah. "The strong horse" principle... The 'bully mind' of the Ummah will always buckle when confronted with superior force.  - CM

'The riders were incredibly brave, but they wouldn't have done it without Australian stock horses, as we call them now.  But you know, the Walers, this breed, it's a really big part of our equine history."

'Machine guns cut down men and horses.

'At dusk the order came.  The Australian Light Horse units formed up and charged the Turkish lines.  Withering machine-gun and small-arms fire cut men and horses down, but the survivors galloped on.

'Some jumped the trenches and dismounted, attacking the Turkish soldiers in their own trenches in terrible hand-to-hand fighting.

As I said above: get, and read, Ion L Idriess's "The Desert Column". Idriess graphically describes what it was like, the grim battles in which he took part, hand-to-hand fighting with Turkish Muslims, both on foot at Gallipoli and on foot and on horseback in the Light Horse campaign from Egypt as far as Jaffa (where Idriess was wounded and invalided out of the war, so he was not present for the liberation of Jerusalem). - CM

'Another 150 men continued into the town, eventually securing the wells and grain.

'The battle was won.

'Thirty-one Australians died during that epic charge, and another 36 were wounded.  Seventy horses were slaughtered on that barren battlefield.

'Several hundred Turkish soldiers were killed and many more taken prisoner.

'The courage and determination of both the men and their extraordinary horses helped change the course of history.

'With lines broken, the Turks' (that is: the Muslim - CM) domination of Palestine (that is: of the land of Israel, eretz Yisroel - CM) was doomed.  Jerusalem was taken (sic: Jerusalem was liberated! - CM) and the prestige and power of the mighty Ottoman Empire (of the cruel and chaotic and infinitely-corrupt Ottoman Turkish Muslim empire - CM) would never be the same..... 

And it was on All Hallows' Eve.  I have sometimes wondered: what prayers of hundreds of thousands of persecuted, exploited, raped and robbed and mass-murdered dhimmis, Jews and Christians and Samaritans, what cries for justice uttered through the terrible centuries of Muslim invasion and Muslim imperial oppression and persecution, what angry ghosts, what avenging angels, rode on the shoulders of the Australians that day, or ran beside and before and behind their horses, guiding and protecting, invisibly on the battlefield on that All Hallows' Eve?  "Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses...". - CM

And so to my final two items pertaining to this anniversary.   First, an article by one Mark Frank, Jewish Australian now resident in Israel, which was published in "Finger on the Pulse", the online newsletter of the Zionist Federation of Australia, on 13.3.2007.

'The Battle of Beersheba'.

'Australian soldiers played a decisive role in the conquest of the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East, most tellingly so, in the Battle of Beersheba.  That victory at the end of October 1917 was the key to the campaign, and opened the gate to Jerusalem.

'Bir Shiba, or Beersheba, was the terminus of the railway north to Damascus, home to the headquarters of the Ottoman army in the Middle East.  Beersheba sat at the eastern end of the Gaza defence line, some 30 miles inland from the coastal garrison.  

'But Beersheba was not as strongly-fortified as Gaza, guarding the classic coastal route to the Fertile Crescent.

'The Turks expected that lack of water would limit British operations at Beersheba to mounted raids.

'The Ottoman logic was that the elements, in other words, the desert conditions, were a formidable enough foe for any prospective attackers, because enemy soldiers and their livestock, in particular, horses, would be in dire trouble without a good water source in the desert, and any resistance keeping the wells of Beersheba out of enemy hands for longer than a day would have the enemy retreating quickly to find water elsewhere in the Sinai or Egypt.'

(And with that in mind it's not surprising that more than 90 percent of British casualties over the whole Middle Eastern campaign fell to disease and heat rather than in battle).  The British understood this point well enough, so it was imperative to capture Beersheba and its wells by first nightfall.

And this is where the Australians proved the 'wild card'; for their horses and men, many of them raised in the arid rangelands of the Australian outback - indeed, in the desert - were as tough as nails, and used to hard commons, perishing heat and little water.  - CM

'The British opened attack on 30th October 1917, with artillery fire and the taking of some outlying positions, which progressed quite satisfactorily.  But the taking of the strategically-important and elevated Tel El Saba took much longer than expected.  So, once that stage had been reached, it was well into the afternoon, time and daylight were running out.  The mounted divisions who'd fought at the tel couldn't be in position in time to participate in the battle plan.

'General Henry Chauvel, the first Australian to receive command of an army corps (and if his name sounds familiar it's because his nephew Charles Chauvel directed that Chips Rafferty classic - Forty Thousand horsemen) had planned to make a dismounted attack on Beersheba, but now he was out of time.

The alternative was to make a cavalry charge.

'He had two brigades in reserve to the southwest of the town: the Australian 4th Light Horse Brigade, and the British 5th Mounted Brigade.  The British brigade was a proper cavalry brigade, armed with swords; however, the light horse brigade was closer to the town.  With time running out, Chauvel chose the Australian 4th Light Horse.

'This charge is disputably considered the last successful cavalry charge in history,.

'But the Australian light horsemen weren't actually cavalry but rather infantry soldiers who primarily fought dismounted and used their Waler horses to carry their arms and supplies to the battle front, or to make a quick retreat.

'Not surprisingly, they were superb riders, and were quickly rounded up and organised to make a charge that would turn the tide of history in the Middle East.

'Two regiments commenced the charge at 4.30 pm, the 12th on the left and the 4th on the right.  They moved off at the trot, gradually fanning out until there was five yards between each horseman.

'Trooper Elliot, acting as range-finder for artillery, had crept to a hillock within two miles of Beersheba.  "It was the bravest, most awe-inspiring sight I've ever witnessed, and they were... yelling, swearing and shouting.  There were more than 500 Aussie horsemen... As they thundered past my hair stood on end. The boys were wild-eyed and yelling their heads off."

'Speed and surprise were their main chance, and almost at once the pace was quickened to a gallop.  

'Four miles ahead lay Turkish trenches, many cleverly-concealed even from aircraft reconnaissance, and surrounded on nearby hills by machine-gun and artillery positions.  The Turkish defenders opened fire with shrapnel from long range, but it was ineffective against the widely-spaced horsemen.

'All this intensifying enemy fire only sped up the gallop.  Years later, Trooper Vic Smith remembered: "Of course we were scared, wishing to hell we weren't there, but out of it.  But you couldn't drop out and leave your mates to it; you had to keep going on".

'When the line of horsemen got within range of the Turkish riflemen in the trenches, they started to take casualties; but the speed of the light-horsemen's approach was so surprising that, once they were within half a mile of the trenches, the defenders failed to allow for their speed, so that the Turks' bullets started passing overhead as they forgot to adjust their sights.  Or maybe it was the dust thrown up by the thundering hooves?

'About half a mile from the town, the Brigade began to overrun fugitive troops and guns.  Some surrendered, but others elected to fight, and Light Horsemen here and there dismounted to capture them by rifle and bayonet.  Led by two ground scouts about 80 yards ahead, the charge swept on.  The light horsemen jumped the front trenches and engaged the Turks - who were in many cases so demoralised that they quickly surrendered.

Yes: when the Infidels strike suddenly, fast and hard, the 'bully mind' of the Ummah will often quickly give way. - CM

'The later waves continued through the town, which the Turks were abandoning in a panic. 

'Isolated resistance in the town continued for a little while, but by nightfall, the remainder of the garrison had been captured.

'So, eight hundred Aussie light horsemen had achieved what 50,000 British troops could not do; what even Napoleon could not do.  They had opened the doorway to Jerusalem.

'That's how the Gaza defensive line was broken, on 31st October, 1917.

'By December 1917 the Australian Light Horsemen rode triumphantly into Jerusalem, far from home, their emu feathers proudly fluttering in the breeze, to be greeted by cheering crowds of Jews and Christians.

'Centuries of Moslem rule was over....

And good riddance: even if the usual Useful Idiots, these days, moan and whine about how luvverly it was for everybody when Jews and Christians lived 'peacefully' under 'tolerant' Muslim overlords... i.e. when they eked out a precarious existence - humiliated, exploited, degraded and in constant physical peril - as grovelling Dhimmis under the iron boot of their Muslim invaders, occupiers and oppressors. - CM

'When the British launched their attack on Beersheba the Turks had been caught by surprise.

'A key feature to the British attack was to convince the Turks that, once again, Gaza was to be attacked, like the previous two attempts.  This deception campaign was extremely thorough and convincing.

'But the victory did not end the campaign, because the Turks redeployed some forces and largely held their position.

'On the 6th of November the second garrison in the Ottoman defensive line at Tal Esh Sheria was taken, and the next day, Gaza, the Ottoman forces retreating for fear of being cut off.  This meant that the Ottoman defence was now shattered.

'Allenby's forces went after the retreating Turks in hot pursuit, confronting defensive positions a few times, but by December 9th 1917 Jerusalem was captured".

Better to say, "Jerusalem was liberated". 

The  Australian War Memorial has a most interesting account of the battle here:


But I shall conclude this series of reflections on the Battle of Beersheba, 1917, with the eyewitness description given by Trooper Ion L Idriess, in his book "The Desert Column".  Idriess, though himself a lighthorseman, was not in the 4th Brigade which took the town; he was, however, close by, and saw the charge.

"... Then someone shouted, pointing through the sunset towards invisible headquarters.  There, at the steady trot, was regiment after regiment, squadron after squadron, coming, coming, coming!

'It was just half-light, they were distinct yet indistinct.  The Turkish guns blazed at those hazy horsemen, but they came steadily on.

'At two miles distant they emerged from clouds of dust, squadrons of men and horses taking shape.

'All the Turkish guns around Beersheba must have been directed at the menace then.

'Captured Turkish and German officers have told us that even then they never dreamed that mounted troops would be madmen enough to attempt rushing infantry redoubts protected by machine-guns and artillery.

'At a mile distant their thousand hooves were stuttering thunder

Strictly speaking, 800 horses times 4 hooves per horse = 3200 hooves.. but never mind. - CM

coming at a rate that frightened a man - they were an awe-inspiring sight, galloping through the red haze - knee to knee and horse to horse - the dying sun glinting on bayonet points.

'Machine-guns and rifle-fire just roared, but the 4th Brigade galloped on.

'We heard shouts among the thundering hooves, saw balls of flame amongst those hooves - horse after horse crashed, but the massed squadrons thundered on.

'We laughed in delight when the shells began bursting behind them, telling that the gunners could not keep their range, then suddenly the men ceased to fall, and we knew instinctively that the Turkish infantry, wild with excitement and fear, had forgotten to lower their rifle sights, and the bullets were flying overhead.

'The Turks did the same to us at [the battle of] El Quatia.

'The last half-mile was a berserk gallop with the squadrons in magnificent line, a heart-throbbing sight as they plunged up the slope, the horses leaping the redoubt trenches - my glasses showed me the Turkish bayonets thrusting up for the bellies of the horses - one regiment flung themselves from the saddle - we heard the mad shouts as the men jumped down into the trenches, a following regiment thundered over another redoubt, and to a triumphant roar of voices and hooves was galloping down the half-mile slope right into the town.

'Then came a whirlwind of movement from all over the field, galloping batteries - dense dust from mounting regiments - a rush as troops poured for the opening in the gathering dark - mad, mad excitement - terrific explosions from down in the town.

'Beersheba had fallen."


Posted on 10/31/2017 3:53 PM by Christina McIntosh
Tuesday, 31 October 2017
New York terrorist attack: Alleged killer Sayfullo Saipov has N.J. ties

He was born in Uzbekistan apparently. From NJ.com

The man taken into custody by the New York Police Department after Tuesday's terror attack that killed at least eight is 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov of Tampa, Florida, according to an ABC News report.

Saipov is an Uzbek national and came to the U.S. in 2010, NBC News reported. 

Videos posted online show Saipov dodging cars in lower Manhattan, horns beeping in the background. ABC interviewed a witness who said he saw Saipov run toward a group of children. Police have said the objects Saipov was holding were imitation firearms.

CBS and the Mirror have some photographs.  Above, a passport style photograph, a CBS exclusive, of  Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov. Below is is believed to be of the arrest

The White House says President Donald Trump has been briefed on the incident. Mr. Trump tweeted his first public response: "We must not allow ISIS to return, or enter, our country after defeating them in the Middle East and elsewhere. Enough!"

Posted on 10/31/2017 5:37 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 31 October 2017
New York: Jihad by Truck

I removed the question mark in the title. He ran over people down for 8 blocks. Schoolbus blocked him - caused crash and then he was waving a paintball gun and BB gun yelling "Allahu Akbar.". Officers shot him. 8 people dead, 15 injured.

A witness told ABC's New York station WABC that a truck hit multiple people on the bike path on the West Side Highway. The witness added that the truck crashed into a school bus and the driver got out and opened fire.

Police said officers responded to reports of shots fired in the area.

Police are said to have shot the suspect. Eyewitnesses report two dead.

Posted on 10/31/2017 2:49 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Tuesday, 31 October 2017
Lee Rigby's killer Michael Adebolajo has 'helped convert prisoners to Islam'

One of the killers of Lee Rigby is looked up to by other inmates and has played a part in converting some of them to Islam, a judge has heard.

The details have emerged as part of Michael Adebolajo's legal action against the Ministry of Justice. He claims he was injured by prison officers during an incident in a cell in July 2013 while he was awaiting trial and is seeking compensation.

Mr Justice Langstaff oversaw a preliminary hearing in the case at the High Court in London on Tuesday.

Lawyers representing the Ministry of Justice said prison officers likely to give evidence at any trial could be in danger if their names emerged in media reports, although the judge said any trial was some distance off. The judge made an order barring prison officers involved from being identified.

The lawyers gave the judge detail of the influence Adebolajo had in prison. "He forms relationships easily," said the judge. "He is charismatic. There is intelligence suggesting that he has had some influence on the conversion to Islam of some individuals. There is a large group of people who look up to Adebolajo."

Ministry of Justice lawyers told the judge that prison officers were "deeply unhappy" about being involved in legal proceedings.

Posted on 10/31/2017 1:33 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 31 October 2017
News From Mexico: “A Vibrant Muslim Community”

by Hugh Fitzgerald

A new report in The Independent on a small group of Muslim converts in San Cristobal de las Casas, gives itself away with its title: “Mexico’s Vibrant Muslim Community Lives in the Maya Heartland”:

A trip to Mexico’s indigenous Maya heartland showed me how a vibrant Muslim community had sprung up in this predominantly Roman Catholic country.

In the southern state of Chiapas, home to a lush mountainous landscape, I photographed members of a small Muslim community made up of hundreds of mostly indigenous Tzotzil men and women, many of whom converted to Islam from Catholic or other Christian denominations.

The Muslim men here are distinguished by their prayer caps, or kufis, and the women by their hijabs which take the form of traditional Maya shawls.

Locals say the conversions to Islam here began in the late 1980s, around the same time Mexico’s Zapatista movement  was gaining traction in Chiapas, as institutions including Christianity and capitalism came under increasing criticism.

According to the last census, some 83 percent of Mexicans are Catholic. And although Muslims make up less than 1 percent of Mexico’s 120 million population [actually, they make up only 1/10th of 1 percent], a disproportionate number are indigenous [sic] clustered in and around San Cristobal de las Casas, a highland city in Chiapas that mixes both Maya and Spanish identity.

“People gave us a weird look when we converted, they thought we were terrorists and were scared of us,” said Mustafa, a member of the nearby Ahmadia community. “But with the passage of time and our own actions, that opinion has changed,” he added.

Umar, an indigenous former evangelical pastor, converted to Islam in the late 1990s and now serves as a bridge between local Christians and Muslims.

“Ours is a monotheistic religion,” he said. “But we don’t worship saints.”

“I later met 55-year-old Mohamed Amin who invited me to his home, offering me cookies and tea. He showed me where he prays five times a day and introduced me to his family. He asked me if I believed in God and I said no. That did not appear to bother him.

“He went on to explain the main reason behind his conversion to Islam.

“I like to be clean and change my clothes,” he said. “This is a clean religion and that’s what originally drew me to it.”

What, in the first place, is the effect of such a news story, which has been getting significant coverage online? It feeds a narrative of Islam On The March, of Islamic triumphalism. Here we are, far from the ancient centers of Islam in the Middle East and North Africa, far even from the latest centers of Islam in Western Europe, and yet here, in San Cristobal de las Casas, in Las Chiapas, in a remote region of rural — carefully described as “lush” — Mexico, we are brought news of local converts to Islam. We are further told, in loaded language, that these converts constitute a “vibrant community of Muslims.” No evidence is presented for this putative “vibrancy,” but it is insisted upon, and the word has its effect. These people who are converting have created not just a community, but a “vibrant” community, pulsating with energy, alive, energetic, vigorous, vital, full of vim and vigor, animated, sparkling, effervescent, vivacious, dynamic, stimulating, exciting, passionate, fiery — get the picture? Then, in unspoken contrast to this vibrant community of Muslims for which the reporter is also a cheerleader, there is the dead hand of the Catholic Church, handmaiden of political and economic reaction, working hand-in-glove with the capitalist class. No wonder that these conversions started in the 1980s, “around the same time [as] Mexico’s Zapatista movement was gaining traction in Chiapas. The implications clear: support for the Zapatistas, and conversion to Islam, were two versions of the same movement for justice, two ways for the downtrodden indigenous Indians, those Mayans and Tzotzils, to demonstrate their disaffection. For, we must surely realize — it need not be spelled out — Islam promotes social and economic justice. But does it?

We are given to understand that Muslims are converting in other parts of Mexico, but with especial fervor, apparently, in San Cristobal de las Casas. And just how many Muslims are there in this land of 120 million? In 2010, the Mexican government counted 3,760 Muslims; the Pew Research Institute came up with a much larger figure, 111,000. Even if we were to ignore the official Mexican census figures, and accept the Pew figures instead, and rounded up that figure — to 120,000, in order to reflect an increase over the last few years, that would mean only one of every thousand Mexicans is Muslim [and not, as the reporter says, “less than 1%”]. By way of comparison, in the Muslim state of Algeria, which has a population of 40 million, or one-third that of Mexico, by 2015 the number of converts to Christianity numbered 380,000. Isn’t that a figure that might be better known, so as to undermine Muslim triumphalism?

Judging by the report, it appears that there was nothing terribly profound about these conversions. There is the economic justice aspect, with the Catholic Church viewed as giving aid and comfort to the ruling landowner class, while Islam is presented by its proselytizers as the faith of the downtrodden. The report could have injected a note of skepticism, pointing out that almost all Muslim states have been ruled, for much or all of their histories, by despots, including ruling families whose members routinely help themselves, and their confederates, to much of the nation’s wealth. The most egregious are the Al-Saud, but the ruling families in Abu Dhabi (the Al-Nahyan), in Dubai (the Al-Maktoum), Kuwait (the Al-Sabahs), Qatar (the Al-Thani), Oman (the Al Bu Said) help themselves on a smaller scale. Then there are the non-royal despots, such as the Al-Assads in Syria, Al-Sisi in Egypt, the late  Qaddafi in Libya, the oligarchs of the FLN in Algeria, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, who grab what they can. And Pakistan’s politicians are in a greedy class by themselves, for  a former president, Asif Ali Zardari, has accumulated a net worth of $35 billion, and a former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, has $30 billion, remarkable sums given their official salaries. If this were known, perhaps those Mexican converts might be disabused of their belief that Islam stands for greater economic justice, as no doubt they were told by those converting them. The record shows quite otherwise. In the West, a government’s legitimacy depends on how well it reflects the will of the people, as expressed, however imperfectly, through elections. In Muslim lands, the legitimacy of the government depends on how well it expresses the will of Allah, as set down in the Qur’an. A ruler can be a despot, as long as he is a good Muslim. This, too, is unlikely to have been explained to would-be converts in San Cristobal.

We learn in passing that there is an Ahmadia community in San Cristobal de las Casas. As many know, the Ahmadis have tirelessly conducted campaigns of outreach and conversion in the West, but not in Muslim countries, where it would be too dangerous for them to try to convert anyone, Muslim or non-Muslim, to Ahmadi Islam. An “Ask-A-Muslim” or “Open Mosque” event in the U.S. is most likely to be put on by Ahmadis. Their brand of Islam is indeed more appealing, because less violent, than mainstream Islam, no doubt because they are on the receiving end of so much Muslim violence; hence their success with conversions. The Ahmadis, of whom there are only ten to twenty million in the world, or about 1% of the world’s Muslims, are regarded with hostility by mainstream Muslims, because their founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, claimed to be the Promised Messiah. In Pakistan, they are prohibited by law from claiming to be Muslims (and on their official papers are listed as non-Muslims); they have been subject to persecution and murderous attacks by Muslims, mainly  in Pakistan, but also in Bangladesh, Indonesia, and the U.K. What, one wonders, would these Mayan and Tzotzil converts think of Islam if they knew how the Ahmadis are treated by the mainstream?

Indeed, what do these converts know about the treatment of women in Islam, as set out in the Qur’an and Hadith? Would they be surprised to learn about the practice of polygamy? To discover that a woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man, or that a daughter inherits half that of a son? Would they have been told that a Muslim father has the power of life and death over his daughters? That a Muslim husband can beat (lightly) a disobedient wife? Do you think these Mexican Indians were told before converting  about how, as Muslims, they should no longer take Christians (or Jews) as friends, “for they are friends only with each other”? No one will have told them that they must love fellow Muslims but to disavow, that is hate, for the sake of Allah, all non-Muslims, the doctrine known as Al-wala’ wa-l-bara.

What will they have learned about the 109 Jihad verses in the Qur’an? Anything? Nothing?  What will they have been told  about verses in the Qur’an that command not just jihad warfare, but the need to “strike terror” in the hearts of the Unbelievers?

They will  have been told nothing about any of this, at least not before conversion. They will not even have been told about the Hadith. They will have learned nothing about Muhammad’s marriage, and consummation of that marriage, to Aisha when she was nine years old. They will not have learned about Muhammad’s attack on the Jews of the Khaybar Oasis. They will have learned nothing about Muhammad’s taking the Jewish girl Saafiya as his sex slave the very evening of the day that he had her husband, father, and brother killed. They will not find out about how Kinana of Khaybar was tortured, on Muhammad’s orders, until he revealed where some treasure was hidden, and then, also on his orders, put to death after having given up the secret. They will learn nothing about  Abu ‘Afak, Asma bint Marwan, and Ka’b bin al-Ashraf, who, because they had mocked him, were killed by followers of Muhammad — and Muhammad was pleased.

When it comes to the Qur’an, they will have been told about  2:256 (“There is no compulsion in religion”) and 5:32 (which superficially seems to condemn killing, but read carefully, with 5:33, actually provides rules for when killing is licit). They will not have been told about 9:5, 9:29, 3:151; 8:12, 8:60, 47:4, or another 100 jihad verses. They will not learn that Muhammad said “war is deceit,” or that his last words were apparently “I have been made victorious with terror.”

They will not learn that Unbelievers were offered three choices by triumphant Muslims: conversion, death, or the status of dhimmi, that required them to pay the Jizyah, and endure other onerous requirements, in order to be protected from the Muslims themselves. They will be told that Muslims have a special relationship with the other two “Abrahamic faiths,” and that Muslims revere both Moses and Jesus as prophets, but not told how, for example, both figures are quite different in their Islamic versions.

One Tzotzil gave as his main reason for converting to Islam that by doing so he could better “keep clean and change my clothes.” That gives you some idea of how theologically profound was the conversion process. And those who have endured life in a Muslim society may question this misguided belief connecting Islam and cleanliness. Wudu (the pre-prayer ablutions) aside, the hygiene is not impressive. Unfortunately, as with “prison conversions,” sometimes the practical consequence is that the convert, as he slowly is allowed to learn more, is not necessarily repelled, but may sink ever deeper into the morass of Islam.

It would be interesting to know why the three converts mentioned felt they had to take Arabic names — Mustafa, Umar, and Mohamed. Indeed, that could prompt a conversation on all the ways that Islam is a vehicle for Arab supremacism. A Muslim must prostrate himself five times a day in the direction of Mecca, in Arabia; he should make the hajj, to Mecca, at least once in his lifetime; he should ideally read the Qur’an in Arabic; many Muslims take Arabic names as more appropriate to the faith; some have even given themselves false Arab lineages, as with the many Pakistanis who call themselves “Sayids,” indicating descent from the Prophet Muhammad.

One hopes that the Christians in Mexico, most of them Catholics, will not merely observe whatever inroads are being made by Islam, but will offer a campaign to counteract the proselytizers. No need to wait until the few become many. The Christians need to identify those communities where conversions to Islam are being made, as in San Cristobal de las Casas, to send out teams of Christians who have prepared themselves and can speak knowledgeably about Islam, and thereby to push back against the previously unopposed proselytizers for the Prophet. These Christians should meet with those recently converted, or who seem to be on the path to conversion, and stage what might be called an intervention. They should hold up for careful study a representative sample of the more than one hundred Jihad verses in the Qur’an, explain such concepts as dhimmi and Jizyah, compare the claim that Islam furthers economic justice with the reality of rich and poor in Muslim societies, examine the differing treatments of women in Islam and Christianity, and convey the contents of a dozen of the most disturbing episodes in the life of Muhammad, as reported in the Hadith. Finally, these well-informed students of Islam should present aspects of Islamic history that the converts almost certainly would not have been told about, including the vast Arab slave trade involving as many as 80 million black African victims, the killing of 70-80 million Hindus under Muslim rule in India, the false “convivencia” of Islamic Spain, and the ways in which Islam has been a vehicle for Arab supremacism, with particular attention to how non-Arab Muslims — such as the Kurds, Berbers, and Sudanese blacks — have recently suffered under Arab rule.

Then perhaps Umar, Mustafa, and Mohamed, having been given food for thought from the Qur’an, and Hadith, and Islamic history, material which had been skipped over by their converters, might rethink their allegiance to Islam, shed those names so redolent of Arab supremacism, and find a way back to Christianity which, considering the apparent alternative, hasn’t done so badly after all.

First published in Jihad Watch

Posted on 10/31/2017 7:49 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 31 October 2017
Why Trump Has to Clean up Obama’s Mess in Guatemala

by Steve Hecht

President Obama’s foreign policy of appeasement won him a Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 for merely being elected. In the Middle East, it led to a frightful deal with Iran. In the Western Hemisphere it led to the embrace of anti-American dictators, such as the Castro regime in Cuba, cheered on by the United Nations.

Now President Trump is suffering the unfortunate harvest of what President Obama sowed.

Just as the Obama administration changed America’s longstanding Cuba policy, it embraced Castro-supported allies throughout Latin America, including in Guatemala. This has created chaos on Mexico’s southern border and allowed the likes of the violent MS-13 criminal gang to run riot, and opened the way for more illegal drugs to flow into the United States.

U.S. control of the skies and seas makes land the safest alternative to smuggle people and contraband from Central and South America into our country. Guatemala’s porous 595-mile border – the only southern land route to Mexico – has become an unlocked backdoor and a gateway to the U.S., thanks to organized crime and Mexican corruption.

President Obama’s embrace of Marxists in Guatemala has kept that backdoor wide open, and traffic is flowing, including the opioids that President Trump just declared are a public health emergency.  

Navy Adm. Kurt Tidd of the U.S. Southern Command said in 2016 that transnational drug smuggling networks can also move people with known terrorist ties from the Middle East up through Central America and into the United States. A Southern Command spokesperson estimated in 2015 more than 30,000 people took that path from countries of terrorist concern.

Guatemala was the staging area for the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion that tried but failed to overthrow Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. After that, Castro supported, trained, and armed guerrillas in Guatemala, subjecting the country to a conflict that ended with the 1996 peace accords. The guerrillas then morphed into nongovernmental organizations and political parties.

The guerrilla successors won the lottery with the 2008 election of President Obama, whose State Department helped place their allies in powerful government positions, especially in the judiciary. Their magistrates collaborate with the United Nations-created International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), which was praised by liberal billionaire George Soros as a “potent potential model” for other countries.

The CICIG and the judiciary protect the Marxists from prosecution while targeting the opposition, including legitimate authorities, with false witnesses and phony charges.

I shudder to think how much of the $18 billion Soros has committed to his open-borders agenda is destined for Guatemala.

Guatemala’s rural areas, especially the border with Mexico, have little government presence. Protected by the Guatemalan judiciary – with the help of the U.S. State Department, the U.N. and Soros – the guerilla successors have made the region chaotically violent, forcing many residents to flee for their lives.

The U.N. high commissioner for refugees says that since 2008 there has been a nearly five-fold increase in Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras) asylum-seekers coming to the United States, “a staggering indicator of the surging violence shaking the region.”

In fact, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection: “In 2014, Central Americans apprehended on the southern border outnumbered Mexicans for the first time. In 2016, it happened again.”

President Trump has begun to reverse President Obama's policies, and the United States now treats Cuba as the dictatorship it is. The Trump administration has sanctioned Venezuelan human-rights violators, overruling Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Tom Shannon, an Obama holdover.

Aware of the turnaround, leftists in Guatemala are trying to consolidate their gains made under President Obama by, among other actions, attempting to remove Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales from office. They fear that if President Trump were to demand the rule of law be applied across Guatemala, Morales would agree. The Guatemalan president is a political novice but not a leftist.

The UNE Party is the agent of the push to remove Morales and illegally change Guatemala’s constitution. UNE members voted unanimously in Guatemala’s Congress against a resolution to condemn Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro for illegally changing Venezuela’s constitution, which was the impetus for President Trump's strong sanctions on that nation.

The Trump administration must look hard at Guatemala. Otherwise, those promoting the open-borders agenda – Obama holdovers like Shannon, their U.N. allies and Soros – will complete their subversion of the country that is vital to U.S. national security and public health.

The opportunity and the need to close the Guatemalan backdoor to the United States has never been greater. It cannot wait for our enemies to consolidate their gains. The time to act is now.

Steve Hecht is editor at large of the Impunity Observer and writes from Guatemala, where he has resided for more than four decades.

This article first appeared in Fox News.

Posted on 10/31/2017 6:59 AM by Steve Hecht
Monday, 30 October 2017
Is the Political Center Holding in Europe?

by Michael Curtis

The tension between political demands for self-determination on one hand and maintaining the sovereigny, the unity of a state on the other is a historically recognisable aspect of political life. Yet surprisingly, politics in Europe today are turpulent and unpredictable to an unexpected degree. The tumult and chaos in countries from Britain, Ireland, and Spain to Italy and the Czech Republic, and even in Russia, allows for a question, is it an earthquake or simply a shock, is it all  a charade or the real thing?

The basic dilemma is familar from Edmund Burke who wrote in his Reflections on the Revolution in France, "A state without the means of some change is without the means of its conservation. Without such means, it might even risk the loss of the constitution which it wished the most religiously to preserve."

There appear to be four fundamental and interelated problems; the challenge of a section of the population of a country to central authority; the nationalistic and populist opposition to the immigration policy of the European Union as stressed formerly by Germany; the restriction or ban on Muslims entering the EU, though a tough position on this was defeated in France and in the Netherlands this year; differences and even a possible split between the more prosperous and historically democratic countries of West Europe and the less prosperous former communist countries of Eastern Europe.

To take the most surprising issue. Russia as always is a dilemma, and predicting the past and perhaps even the present was a perilous occupation. Now, Russian TV in November 2017 is presenting a documentary on Leon Trotsky who was brushed out of history, physically and figuratively, by Stalin and about whom little is known by the younger generation. Perhaps Trotsky reappears to history because of President Vladimir Putin's explanation that he wants respect, an objective and honest analysis of Russia's common history. But unlike the situation in European countries there is no serious challenge to the unity of Russia.

Elsewhere in many countries in Europe there is an inherent struggle between unilateral demands for autonomous self government, and even independence, and the activities of a governing state to maintain the unity and sovereignty of the nation-state. Countries are beset by the presence of populist, anti-establishment political parties, and the challenge of part of the citizenry to central government. By far the most intense and volatile is in Spain with the ongoing unresolved dispute between the central goverment and the independence Catalon movement based on a distinct identity, language and culture, as well as economic issues.

Irrespective of the complicated issue of Brexit and the relations between the UK and the European Union other countries have problems with some of the functions and policies of the EU. The most recent example is the Czech Republic parliamentary election of October 21, 2017 that resulted in unexpected gains by the Populist Party Ano(Yes), Action of Dissastified Citizens getting 39% of the vote compared with 24% in 2013. The party is led by the 63 year old billionaire Andrej Babis, said to be worth $4 billion from food, biofuel, and fertilser companies, and substantial press holdings, and who campaigned as an outsider, though he had been finance minister for four years.

It is not clear if his political proposals such as abolishing the senate and establishing a first past the post electoral system indicate he is a threat to democracy in the country. What is important is that he is unwilling to join the euro, and above all is critical of EU migration policy, calling for reduction or end of Muslim immigrantion, as well as friendship with Russia.

Elements in two countries in particular, Spain and Italy, are involved in a challenge to central authority. Political  factions sometimes like scorpions court each other with kisses and dancing before delivering a fatal blow. This is not the case in Spain. Events in Catalonia have produced a political and constitutional crisis, as Catatans in a referendum on October 1, 2017 voted by over 90% in favor of seceding from Spain but the turnout was only 43%. Ambivalence was shown by mass violence and demonstrations, some of half a million, using pots, pans, and honking cars, while those opposed to secession waved Spanish flags and shouted Viva Espana. Catalan leaders hold the actions of Madrid resemble a coup d'etat against Catalan autonomy, the worst since the days of General Francisco Franco, 1939-1975. Graffiti in Barcelona read "Franco is back."

Catalonia has been virtually establishing a parallel goverment to the central one in Madrid, even to extent of establishing "embassies" in a number of foreign countries. Madrid has the overall law, power, and resources, on its side; Catalonia has enthusiastic supporters. Will the divisiveness mean the end of Spain as a political unit? Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is wondering how to remove the secessionist leaders from their positions of power in Catalonia, and to reinstate the legal order; Catalan lawmakers want self-determination and even a declaration of independence.   

The uncertain response of Madrid appears to be to  take control of Catalonia, and hold new regional elections within six months, establishing direct rule, jailing leaders of the seccessional movement, threatening to imprison the Catalan chief of police, and to arrest the Catalan President Carles Puigdemont if he tries to declare independence that was declared in the referendum on October 1. At the extreme, Madrid is considering implementing Article 155 of the Constitution, by which the government has the right to take "necessary measures" to get compliance. Spanish courts have held that Catalonia is breaking the law. Using 155 can suspend any of the self-governing powers of the 17 regions if they disobey constititional obligations or attack the "general interests" of Spain. However, Article 155 has never been invoked. If it is used it might cause difficulties for the maintenance of the 1978 constitution which set up the 17 autonomous communiies, largely to accomodate the Basque and Catalan regions.

Whatever the actions in Spain, they are a more modest counterpart to the Italian situation, though there is a difference. Unlike the Spanish situation, the Italian referendums have been aproved by the Italian constitutional court. Demand for more automony have come from 2 regions, Lombardy , with Milan as its center, and Veneto including Venice. Together the prosperous regions account for one quarter of the Italian population and 30% of economic output , thus contributing disproportionately to Rome. Referendums in the two regions on October 22, 2017 had overwhelming approval for more autonomy: Veneto, 98.1% and Lombardy 95.3%.

Though some in the two regions call for secession, in general dissidents want more authority over a variety of issues: environment, health, education, and above all security and immigration. The challenge for many years has come from the Northern League, Lega Nord, founded in 1991 by the poet Umberto Bossi, though apparently a relatively mild form of fiscal federalism  For Italy the problem is that referendums may spread to other areas, Liguria, and Emilia Romagna, and make unity more difficult. No one, not even Luciano Pavarotti, is likely to sing O Sole Mio, over that.

Posted on 10/30/2017 5:24 AM by Michael Curtis
Sunday, 29 October 2017
Pakistani Christian 'left for dead' by Muslims for 'displaying poppies on car'

The first national newspaper to rport this story was the Sunday Times, followed by the Star and the Sun

A Christian of Pakistani origin who was beaten and left unconscious in a car park says he was attacked by Muslims who objected to him displaying two large red poppies on the front of his car.

The food delivery driver from Derby was parked outside a restaurant and chatting to his sister on the phone when he claims a group of men attacked and beat him until he was unconscious. He believes that the people responsible for the assault in Littleover at around 8.45pm on October 20 were Muslims who objected to him showing his support for British troops.

He claimed that the men objected to him displaying two large poppies on his silver Toyota, which also had a cross dangling from the rear-view mirror.

“If I am not a brother, I am a kaffir. They left me for dead. They hit me as if they were playing on a football pitch,” he said. “I am a Christian. Because of the poppies on my car, because of the cross in my car, I have been hit. I put poppies on my vehicle because I support British forces for their good work around the world and I really salute them, British forces.”

Tajamal moved to the UK from Pakistan 10 years ago after being targeted in a drive-by shooting by Islamists who wanted to convert him.

It was the third time in 12 months he has been targeted in the UK by Muslims because of his Christian faith and the two poppies he displays on his motor all year round.  "Several times, local Pakistani people in Derby have taken offence from the fact that I am Christian. When they first find out, many stop talking to me. My wife and I have often been shunned."

He accused his attackers of 'trying to force Islam into this country’ and vowed not to give in to them by putting even more poppies on his car.

"Freedom of religion should be the right of any British citizen but today I feel unsafe, even then nothing will stop me going to church.

"I will pray for my attackers and hope they will change their hard-line approach to faith which is very dangerous for our society."

Wilson Chowdhry, chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said: "An innocent man has been hospitalised, he has had to take several days off work, and now he is living in fear of further reprisals, simply for adhering to the Christian faith."

At the time of the offence, a spokesman for Derbyshire Police said: "We were called to a report of an assault outside the Red Chilli restaurant, in Littleover, at around 8:45pm. It was reported that a 45-year-old man had been kicked and punched. He was hospitalised at the Royal Derby Hospital with a broken nose and we have not yet arrested anyone in connection with the assault."

Derbyshire police did not respond to questions about the assault, including whether it was being treated as a hate crime.

Posted on 10/29/2017 2:04 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 29 October 2017
The Canon Misfires at Cambridge University

by Michael Curtis

Shakespeare knew the realities of political life: Who loses and who wins, who's in, who's out. No one wants to be viewed by others as some untutored youth, unlearned in the world's false subtleties. Certainly this issue is apparent in the furor around a petition issued in October 2017 at Cambridge University, one of the world's great centers of learning. This petition is an open letter entitled "Decolonising the English Faculty" written by Lola Olufemi, the women's officer at the Cambridge University Student Union, signed by a group of 150 students, and circulated to the University. The letter asks for changes in how literature is taught to the elite youth at Cambridge.

The starting argument of Olufemi, Nigerian born and educated in England, is that the curriculum in English literature at Cambridge is based on a "traditional" and "canonical" approach that elevates white authors who dominate it. She contends that the curriculum is shaped by colonial ideologies and, taken as a whole, perpetuates institutional racism.  The curriculum, and all exam questions, should include post colonial and BME (black, and minority ethnic) and women authors.

The political factor meets the educational issue. Olufemi's petition asks the University to decolonize the syllabus of English literature. She holds the English Department cannot claim to provide students with the foundation knowledge of the literature canon while it refuses to decolonize the curriculum. It must be expanded. 

This argument has long been familiar in the United States, going back at least fifty years to criticism of the dominance of "dead white males." But it is surprising that an institution which is number two in the World Ranking of Universities, 2017-18 including in areas of languages, literature and linguistics, and has had 92 Nobel Prize winners associated with it, should only now be asked to address this issue. About 4,000 of its 18,000 sudents are international and come from 120 countries. Cambridge is not a hub of isolationism, in people or in thought.

Indeed, the Cambridge Faculty of English is already distinguished by the presence of Priyamvada Gopal, Dean of Churchill College, a person of Indian origin and education whose primary academic interests are in colonial and post colonial literature and theory. She has warned of a "gregarious tolerance" for the way things are. For her, the greatest danger to our exercise of freedom is lapsing into habits of thought where we acquiesce in thinking of the way things are rather than the way things ought to be. Beware, she says, of wielding cultural certainties against apparently lesser cultures rather than speaking truth about and against power.

Of course no reasonable academic would object to broadening the syllabus. It is appropriate that authors from minority groups and the global south be part of a good English literature curriculum. In the U.S. works like those of Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison, and James Baldwin, and possibly Gabriel Marquez and Chinua Achebe and other authors of color or from countries other than Western Europe are already part of the canon. At Cambridge an introductory course in English is already being considered to provide a perspective on the global contexts and history of English literature, on the belief that students should engage with empire, race, and identity .

The danger is to assume that post-colonial and BME texts provide the starting point for the critical and historical discourse on English literature is. These texts may add to the understanding of this body of literature but they must be considered within a broader context. Certainly it is debatable, that "empire" and "colonialism" are central to the understanding of books and contexts,

Most teachers would now agree that works of gifted authors, whose origin is outside Britain, should be taught. but this is different from altering the curriculum to fit the personal interests of students  or the political imperatives of those advocating change. Moreover, introduction and addition of different writers and texts and the widening of horizons is supposed not to elimate any of those already in the canon but educational time is short .

The issue is far more complex than simply addressing changes in the curriculum. Realistically, the introduction and addition of different authors and texts, and the widening of horizons might require lengthening of degree programs if some of those presently in the canon are not removed.

Underlying the present controversy are several factors: a question of power, refusal to be ignored or neglected in society; and the rise and assertion of identity politics. The problem goes further. Some advocating change hold that atempts by whites to participate in the life and traditions of non-whites is akin to theft. For white men to use cultural manifestations of other groups is seen as cultural appropriation.

In pracical terms there is a different if related issue. Both Oxford and Cambridge are criticised for the low levels of admittance of students from ethnic minorities. One third of Oxford colleges did not admit a single black A level student last year. Six Cambridge colleges did not admit one in 2015. Between 2010 and 2015  only 1% of offers of admission were made to blacks.

An interesting contrast is provided in a recently published a brilliant massive book the House of Government by Yuri Slezkine, dealing with the history of an apartment building which housed elite Bolsheviks and their children in the 1930s. He reports that youngsters instead of concentrating on the required canonical texts of Marx and Engels preferred non and pre-revolutionary works by famous 19th century Russian and especially European writers of fiction. Their personal canon included Shakespeare, Hugo, Goethe, Kipling and above all, Dickens, everyone's favorite writer, while Marxist texts were ignored.

Slezkine indictes that the Bolshevik children did not read the supposed vital texts, Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin at home but rather Pushkin, Gogol, and Tolstoy in school. He concludes that, partly as a result of that reading, the children of the Soviet elite "grew up resigned to the messiness of human existence, something their parents had rebelled against."

It appears that the Bolshevik children had much gretaer respect for the Western literary tradition and culture than some students at the most prestigous British universities, Oxford and Cambridge. It is reasonable to argue for a cultural shift, expanding criteria of good literature, and widening the cultural horizons, but it wise to consider the political connection. It is probably true that few students today can read Othello or The Tempest without considering the postcolonial context. It is appropriate that students should be able to discuss race, colonial history, post colonial thought, or texts that are not considered part of the usual canon. But more important, it is dangerous to patrol the curriculum to see if it accords with particular political views.

Finally, some remarks by Lola Olufemi reveal a political context for her educational proposals. She has said that students are doing nothing to help Africa by visting the continent as tourists. In addition, what drives middle class white people to travel abroad is an inherent selfishness. She believes that Cambridge can learn from Oxford's "Rhodes must Fall Campaign" with calls for removal of the statue of Cecil Rhodes because he was an imperialist. She may be right that questions of race, empire, identity, shoud be more central than they are in both texts and contexts. But it is wrong to accept that whatever Lola wants Lola should get.

Posted on 10/29/2017 10:54 AM by Michael Curtis
Sunday, 29 October 2017
Normalizing Anti-Semitism in Student Governments

Purging Jewish Students From the Israeli/Palestinian Debate

by Richard L. Cravatts, PhD

In the campus war against Israel, the all too familiar refrain from student anti-Israel activists, many of whom form the loose coalition of groups and individuals spearheading the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, is that their quarrel is only with Israel and its government’s policies, not with Jews themselves. But that specious defense continues to fall away, revealing some caustic and base anti-Semitism, representing a seismic shift in the way that Jews are now being indicted not just for supporting Israel, but merely for being Jewish.

At McGill University this week, as the latest example, three board members of the University’s Students’ Society were removed from their appointments after a vote at the Fall General Assembly due to what was reported to be their perceived “Jewish conflict of interest.” The ouster was led by a pro-BDS student group, Democratize McGill, which was campaigning against pro-Israel students in the wake of a September ruling by the Judicial Board that, once and for all, rejected the BDS movement on the McGill campus, stating that it was violative of the SSMU’s constitution because it “violate[d] the rights of [Israeli] students to represent themselves” and discriminated on the basis of national origin.

In retaliation, and to eliminate pro-Israel views on the board, Democratize McGill launched an effort to clear the board of BDS opponents, based on the cynical notion that these members harbored clear conflict of interests which arose from their purported biases, those conflicts of interests and biases stemming from the poisonous notion that because the students were Jewish or pro-Israel, or both, they could, therefore, never make informed or fair decisions as student leaders.

Ignoring their own obvious biases and the lack of any balance in their own views on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, the pro-BDS members nonetheless felt comfortable with suppressing pro-Israel voices and Jewish students on the board, asserting that they sought to remove these students because they “are all either fellows at the Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee (CJPAC), an organization whose explicit mandate is to promote pro-Israel discourse in Canadian politics, or primary organizers for the anti-BDS initiative at McGill.” In other words, they were being disqualified for having views that differed from those student leaders seeking to purge them from SSMU. The Jewish board member and two other non-Jewish, pro-Israel board members were subsequently voted off the board.

McGill has a previous history of seeking to suppress pro-Israel thinking by Jewish students, not in the student government but in its press. An example of that was the 2016 controversy involving The McGill Daily and its astonishing editorial admission that it was the paper’s policy to not publish “pieces which promote a Zionist worldview, or any other ideology which we consider oppressive.”

“While we recognize that, for some, Zionism represents an important freedom project,” the editors wrote in a defense of their odious policy, “we also recognize that it functions as a settler-colonial ideology that perpetuates the displacement and the oppression of the Palestinian people.”

Leading up to this revealing editorial, a McGill student, Molly Harris, had filed a complaint with the Students’ Society of McGill University’s (SSMU) equity committee. In that complaint, Harris contended that, based on the paper’s obvious anti-Israel bias, and “a set of virulently anti-Semitic tweets from a McGill Daily writer,” a “culture of anti-Semitism” defined the Daily—a belief seemingly confirmed by the fact that several of the paper’s editors themselves are BDS supporters and none of the staffers were Jewish.

An attempted purging of a pro-Israel student from student government, very similar to the inquisition that just occurred at McGill, took place in February of 2015 at UCLA, when several councilmembers on the USAC Judicial Board, UCLA student government’s highest judicial body, grilled Rachel Beyda, then a second-year economics student, when she sought a seat on the board.

The focus on her candidacy was not her qualifications for the position (which no one seemed to doubt), but specifically the fact that she was Jewish and how her “affiliation with Jewish organizations at UCLA . . . might affect her ability to rule fairly on cases in which the Jewish community has a vested interest in the outcome, such as cases related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” as the student newspaper described it.

“Ruling fairly” in this case, of course, meant that she was likely not to support the increasingly virulent anti-Israel campaign on the UCLA campus, so she failed to pass the political litmus test that so-called progressive students, enthralled with their pursuit of social justice, see as their default position—namely, being pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel.

It was the same thinking that inspired a similarly discriminatory proposal the previous May by two members of UCLA’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) which attempted to bar Jewish candidates from filling council positions if they had taken trips to Israel subsidized by the Anti-Defamation League, American Jewish Committee, or other organizations, which, according to the sententious activists, “have openly campaigned against divestment from corporations that profit from Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights.”

Of course, there was no mention in this debate of trips paid for to send pro-Palestinian students to Israel or the territories on propaganda excursions designed to malign Israel and teach visitors an alternate, anti-Israel narrative. Once again, in addition to trying to stack the deck against the pro-Israel argument, this grotesque and inequitable proposal took as a given that anyone not committed to the Palestinian cause was by default not to be trusted, incapable of making unbiased decisions, morally compromised, and unjustified in even harboring pro-Israel opinions.

Another odious attempt to rid a campus of Jewish and pro-Israel voices took place in 2015 when student council leaders at Durban University of Technology (DUT) in South Africa floated a proposal that suggested, apparently without the slightest shame or moral self-awareness, that Jewish students should actually be expelled from the institution, that, as the student body’s secretary, Mqondisi Duma, put it, “We took the decision that Jewish students, especially those who do not support the Palestinian struggle, should deregister.” This is, one would think, a rather shocking sentiment from students who themselves benefited from a world-wide campaign in the 1970s and 1980s to end South Africa’s racist apartheid system.

The moral arrogance of the South African student’s proposal was breathtaking, not only because of its grotesque version of the anti-Semitic practice of making any and all Jews responsible for the political actions of Israel; more serious than that, it revealed that the pro-Palestinian movement is so enthralled with the righteousness of its cause that anyone who harbors or expresses other views is considered a pariah, unworthy to even express his or her ideas in the marketplace of ideas on campus.

Progressive students have decided, in their own moral self-righteousness, that the Palestinian campaign for self-determination is such a sacred cause that anyone who questions it or speaks for the Israeli point of view is a moral retrograde. To even support Israel is to risk being deemed a racist, an imperialist, a tacit supporter of apartheid. And more than that: now, if you are Jewish and even a student in South Africa—nowhere near or involved in the affairs of Palestinian Arabs and Israelis—if you have not publicly proclaimed your allegiance to the Palestinian cause and denounced the Israeli one, you can be deemed morally unworthy of serving as a student leader or even attending a particular university.

The student leaders who, in the context of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, now try to suppress all thought of which they disapprove have sacrificed one of the core values for which the university exists. In their zeal to be inclusive, and to recognize the needs and aspirations of victim groups, they pretend to foster inquiry but have actually stifled and retarded it.

And as this otherwise noble purpose for the university has devolved, the first victim in the dilution of academic free speech and debate, unfortunately, has been the truth.


Richard L. Cravatts, PhD, President Emeritus of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, is the author of Dispatches From the Campus War Against Israel and Jews.

Posted on 10/29/2017 7:57 AM by Richard L. Cravatts
Sunday, 29 October 2017
Concentration on the Inessential

by Theodore Dalrymple

The other week there was a town meeting at which our local Police and Crime Commissioner spoke. First he explained what he did in return for his £100,000 a year, though I cannot now remember what exactly it was. Did he commission crime? This is a very important role, for what would the army of lawyers we have trained do without crime (and regulation) to keep it employed?

The Commissioner, fat and badly-dressed, was in an elected position, but I doubt that on this occasion he won many votes for himself. His tactic seemed mainly to be to contradict the observation of the townsfolk that they never saw a policeman on the beat. He said that he had seen policemen on the beat.

Was he hallucinating? Did the townsfolk suffer from a collective negative hallucination, that is to say the erasure of a perception to produce a gap where in actual fact there existed something to fill it?

The commissioner went on to explain in what ways he intended to improve the service to the police’s customers. The term seemed to cover everyone from little old ladies to serial killers. He confessed that in the past, his officers had concentrated too exclusively on trying to catch the culprits and not enough on what amounted to the pastoral care of the victims.

The editor of the local newspaper, the Journal (which my neighbour calls the Gerbil), piped up, ‘How many of the culprits have you actually caught?’

This question the commissioner dismissed with contempt as if it were a low blow in boxing. Surely anyone with the slightest brain could see that it is far easier to identify the victims than the culprits, and that therefore it was a far more efficient use of police time (in very short supply) to attend to the former rather than to the latter? It did not seem to have occurred to the commissioner – a Conservative, by the way – that most victims of crime would be more reassured by the arrest and punishment of the culprit than by counselling carried out by men or women in stab-proof vests.

I didn’t dare ask, of course, why so many of our police now dressed like the paramilitary arm of some extremist political party, or why they seemed to repress everything except crime and disorder. Their operational motto is taken from that of our psychiatric services. Concentrate on the inessential: it will give you far less trouble.

First published in Salisbury Review.

Posted on 10/29/2017 5:36 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
Saturday, 28 October 2017
Fear and Loathing of the Founders

What happens when George Washington and Thomas Jefferson (and other Founders) are so feared and reviled and deconstructed that their plaques and monuments must be removed?

What happens when the errors of the past cause "fear" and "discomfort" rather than stand as the basis of learning important lessons?

Finally, when the men who made the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States are discredited, attacks on their creations are sure to folllow. If the men who made these foundational documents are so flawed and disreputable, then the documents themselves and the country built upon them must then be unworthy, too. That's the "logic," right?

These are dark, revolutionary times of the deepest moral and ethical confusion. 

I'll close with a pertinent quote from diet guru Susan Powter from back in the 1990s: Stop the insanity!


Posted on 10/28/2017 11:39 AM by daniel mallock
Saturday, 28 October 2017
Kuwait-based cleric asks youths not to study maths, chemistry, zoology

From the Times of India

Gaya: (ancient historical city in Bihar) Kuwait-based cleric Arshad Mohsin on Friday exhorted the Muslims to stop studying arithmetic, chemistry and zoology as these subjects taught things against the basic tenets of Islam.

Delivering the Friday special speech at the White House Compound Mosque of the town, he said even nursery rhymes should not be taught to the Muslims as the likes of 'Johny Johny Yes Papa, eating sugar no Papa' polluted impressionable young minds and glorified telling a lie.

Referring to zoology, the cleric said Darwin's 'Theory of Evolution' negated the Islamic concept of the process through which the universe came into being. Anybody who studied Darwin automatically ceases to be a Muslim, he said.

Explaining his opposition to the teaching/learning of chemistry, the cleric said chemical elements like cobalt and titanium derived their nomenclature from idols worshipped in the pre-Islamic era. He said it was part of the larger design to promote idol worship, which is most abhorred by Islam.

The cleric also said the Quran contained everything required for success in this world and thereafter. He also exhorted all Muslims to study Arabic and offered his services for its propagation at Gaya.

A section of the Muslims present there objected to the cleric's sermon and condemned the mosque management for allowing people to deliver sermon without proper scrutiny of their credentials. Such orthodox and regressive views can only push the community further down in the gutter of ignorance and illiteracy, they said. (How far down the gutter do they admit they are they already?) 

Posted on 10/28/2017 7:57 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 28 October 2017
'Don’t tell me about facts. I don’t need no facts.'

The Intellectual Arrogance of Suppressing Campus Speech 

by Richard L. Cravatts, PhD

Seeming to give credence to Bertrand Russell’s observation that “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts,” a student-written op-ed that ran in the September 25th issue of The Daily Princetonian argued that conservatives should not have the benefit of free speech, and do not even have the right to expect its protection because, given their ideological stance, “they are appealing to a right that does not exist” for them.

“In my belief," student Ryan Born continued in this astounding piece of sophistry, “when conservative ideas are opposed, there is no right that is being infringed.” In fact, he seemed to be saying, the essential worthlessness of conservative ideology—as opposed to the virtue and fundamental truths embodied in progressive thought—means that instead of debating their ideological positions, conservatives should recognize the errors in their thinking and abandon their views. “Some ideas will already have been judged wanting,” Born wrote, and “Conservatives ought to question why some ideas are so stringently opposed and then adapt their arguments, instead of begging for ‘free speech.’”

And unlike progressives and leftists like himself, who Born apparently felt have the right to unbridled free expression without having to actually defend their ideas in the marketplace of ideas, conservative speech “is something much different,” he claimed, while exhibiting behavior that psychiatrists term projection, because “conservatives are interested in being able to propose their ideas without any political opposition to their right to speech.”

Where did the colossal intellectual arrogance of this op-ed come from which allows liberals to make the leap from purporting to endorse freedom of expression for all on their campuses to reserving that right, in actual practice, only for favored groups? For many on the Left who were students and young faculty members during the 1960s, it was the influence of Marxist philosopher Herbert Marcuse, who believed that the repressive force of the existing establishment could not be weakened unless its ability to control speech—and ideas—was diluted. That would only be accomplished, according to Marcuse, by favoring “partisan” speech to promote “progressive” or revolutionary change, and that speech would be, by necessity, “intolerant towards the protagonists of the repressive status quo.”

For evidence that academia is currently awash in this type of execrable sentiment, one only has to look at the number of campuses which, just in the opening months of this semester, have experienced the actual shutting down or exclusion of conservative speech—purportedly with the intention of rejecting “hate speech,” right-wing thought, white supremacy, fascistic ideology, and a host of related extremist modes of thought the progressive left on campuses has conjured up as being an imminent threat to their emotional safety and well-being.

Now, any speech that the left wishes to suppress or avoid, it categorizes as being equivalent to violence; conservative ideology is thought of as being weaponized as “hate speech” and potentially harmful to listeners. Any speech that is labeled as “hate speech” condemns that expression to lacking the protection of free speech, and because it thereby falls outside the bounds of acceptable expression, it is undeserving of being heard and justified in being suppressed. Conservatives in general are accused of harboring racist, sexist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, and homophobic views, and they are deemed unworthy of expressing those views precisely because they are thought to represent unacceptable, hateful beliefs. Speakers who question prevailing liberal orthodoxy are said to be committing virtual “violence” against marginalized victim groups on campus who might be exposed to these extremist ideas and be injured by them in some way, and speakers are disinvited or obstructed proactively to ensure that victims are never threatened by ideas they do not wish to hear or tolerate.

Because campus progressives have shown themselves perfectly willing to shut down speech that they themselves have decided is unworthy of even being heard, it is no surprise that, fortified with moral arrogance and boundless self-righteousness, liberal activists have repeatedly sought to, and have been successful at, silencing speakers with opposing views. This behavior is not surprising given a 2017 national survey of 1,500 current undergraduate students at four-year colleges and universities conducted by John Villasenor of Brookings Institute. When asked if it is acceptable for students to shout down and disrupt a speech by a “very controversial speaker     . . . known for making offensive and hurtful statements,” 51 percent of those polled agreed that, yes, shutting down such speech with the “heckler’s veto” is justified. Even more troubling was the response to a follow-up question which asked respondents if they believed in using violence to interfere with and shut down the controversial speaker’s appearance; astonishingly, 19 percent of students answered affirmatively that a violent response to the controversial speaker’s ideas and words was appropriate and justified.

These intolerant liberals are not even interesting in engaging with their ideological opponents. At a Rutgers University panel discussion in October, “Identity politics: the new racialism on campus?,” sponsored by Spike, “a British anti-misanthropy current-affairs magazine,” audience members began interrupting the panelists with chants of “black lives matter!”  When one of the panelists attempted to explain his position, a woman from the audience shouted out that she did not “need statistics,” further complaining that, at any rate, “the system” controls facts. “It’s the system. It’s the institution,” she raved. “Don’t tell me about facts,” she shouted, most revealingly. “I don’t need no facts.”    

Since the presidential election last fall, a new trend has shown itself on campuses in progressive activism and the assault on conservative speech. As part of the paroxysms of moral indignation liberals have shown in response to what they see as the ascension of white supremacy and alt-right extremism in the wake of President Trump’s victory, any student groups to right of center are subject to being smeared as extremists, racists, and white supremacists, and their very presence on campus a threat to victim groups. At the University of California, Santa Cruz, for instance, a meeting of the school’s College Republicans was disrupted after students responded to a Facebook post that urged protesters to come to the meeting and shut it down. “We need a movement of people on this campus that rejects the ‘right of assembly,’ or ‘right of free speech’ for white supremacists and fascists,” the Facebook post read, and activists eventually did force open the door to the meeting space and screamed that the members were “fascists,” “racists,” and “white supremacists.”

Also in October, a similar scene took place at Columbia University where activists mounted “an anti-fascist rally . . . where Tommy Robinson, founder of the far-right Islamophobic hate group English Defense League,” was scheduled to speak. Protesters announced “that alt-right speakers like Tommy Robinson are NOT WELCOME on our campus,” another common phrase used by activists that suggests that they believe they, and only they, are the moral conscience and voice of the entire university community, when that is clearly not the case. A video taken of the event shows protesters attempting to block entrances to the building, storming the area where the speech was to be held, shouting “black lives matter” and “white supremacy,” banging the outer walls of the auditorium to drown out any speaking, and dominating the room with random screaming directed at audience members, and loud, repetitive chants of, “Whose campus? Our campus!”

At an October event at University of Michigan, in in yet another example, Charles Murray, political scientist, libertarian, and author of the controversial 1994 book, The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life, was scheduled to speak but protestors screamed out continually for 40 minutes, “Charles Murray go away; sexist, racist, KKK! Charles Murray go away; sexist, racist KKK!,” occupying the majority of the seats in the venue and ultimately preventing Murray from speaking at all. When an administrator asked the protestors to cease their heckling, they screamed back at him, “We’ve been silent too long!” and “stop silencing students of color!”

Administrators have been slow to respond to these outrageous outbursts and out of control protests by leftist students who have unilaterally decided that their ideology is the only acceptable one and that they have the moral right to suppress the speech of others whose views they marginalize, condemn, and abhor. But the frequency and intensity of these disruptions, and the virulence of the left’s reaction to conservative speech, has finally pushed at least one institution to take a firm moral stand and address this serious problem head-on. The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin recently drafted a new policy, titled “Commitment to Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression,” which will enact penalties for any individual who exercises the “hecklers veto,” disrupts the speech of others, or otherwise prevents others from enjoying freedom of speech on campus.

Anticipating the mistaken belief that many students now have that certain speech—such as that speech referred to as “hate speech”—does not deserve protection, the policy asserts that “[I]t is not the proper role of the university to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they, or others, find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive.”

Maintaining civility on a campus is, of course, a worthy goal, but it is a secondary, not primary, consideration. “Although the university greatly values civility,” the policy states, “concerns about civility and mutual respect can never be used as justification for closing off discussion of ideas, however offensive or disagreeable those ideas may be to some members within the university community.” For a second infraction, a student will be subject to a formal investigation and a disciplinary hearing, and multiple infractions will result in suspension and eventually expulsion.

Shutting down speech is not only unconstitutional, it violates one of the university’s primary values. When members of the academic community ignore those values and violate regulations, there have to be swift and significant consequences, and these sanctions must be publicized in advance of any event, as the Wisconsin policy will do. Students should not and cannot be allowed to take over a campus and hijack the robust exchange of ideas—even if they think they have the best intentions and are promoting a virtuous, progressive agenda.

“If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education,” observed the champion of free speech, Justice Louis D. Brandeis, “the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.” 


Richard L. Cravatts, PhD, President Emeritus of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, is the author of Dispatches From the Campus War Against Israel and Jews.

Posted on 10/28/2017 5:47 AM by Richard L. Cravatts
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