The term Bizarro is used to describe anything that utilizes twisted logic, confusion of cause and effects, timeline that goes backwards, or that is the opposite of something else, as in this interview:
"In an interview with [the London daily] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat on October 10,
2005, you described the people who carried out the 9/11 operation as
'magnificent.' You said that Sheikh Osama bin Laden revived the neglected duty
of jihad, and that Allah will reward him for this."
Sheikh Omar Bakri:
"Yes. The duty of jihad - and in this case, I'm referring to defensive jihad -
had been neglected by the Islamic nation for a long time, because of the
arrogance and injustice or America and its allies against the Islamic nation,
and because of their support of Israel, and what we see now in the region is the
best proof of this. The 9/11 operations were a response to great acts of
aggression by America - its attacks on Afghanistan, on Iraq, on Sudan, not to
mention the historic Crusades from long ago, and so on."
"Martyrdom operations in Palestine, in particular, are
justified, for two reasons. First, the Palestinians do not have weapons to
defend themselves. They have no tanks, artillery, and so on. This is the only
means available to them. Therefore, it is justified, especially since it is the
Israeli soldiers that are targeted. When I say 'soldiers' -
the entire Israeli people is recruited. The women are the most vicious of them
all. Therefore, this is justified. I consider this to be martyrdom. Even
if they harm a woman - all the women serve in the army. All the men serve in the
army. Only the small children remain, and the fact is that these are only very
rarely harmed. I believe that these are martyrdom operations, and are
The Contentious Centrist
"Civilization is not self-supporting. It is artificial. If you are not prepared to concern yourself with the upholding of civilization -- you are done." (Ortega y Gasset)
Saturday, March 31, 2007
The term Bizarro is used to describe anything that utilizes twisted logic, confusion of cause and effects, timeline that goes backwards, or that is the opposite of something else, as in this interview:
Multiculturalism debate: here is yet another essay on the consolations of Buruma and Garton Ash's version of "Moderate" Islam:
Those willing to trawl through Ramadan’s written and recorded output will find no shortage of material calling into question his supposedly liberal intent. It’s clear that what Ramadan wants isn’t a modernised, secular Islam, but an Islamised modernity. In Les Messages Musulmans d’Occident, Ramadan shares his vision of an Islamised Europe:
“The West will begin its new decline and the Arab-Islamic world its renewal… The Qur’an confirms, completes, and corrects the messages that preceded it.”
This triumphalist tone is continued in Islam, le Face à Face des Civilisations:
“References to Judaism and Christianity are being diluted, if not disappearing altogether… Only Islam can fill the spiritual void that afflicts the West.”
In Pouvoirs (164, 2003), Ramadan goes further:
“The revelation of the Qur’an is explicit: whoever engages in speculation or cultivates financial interests enters into war against the transcendent… Muslims who live in the West must unite themselves to the revolution… from the moment when the neo-liberal capitalist system becomes, for Islam, a theatre of war.”
Pascal Bruckner, who tries to disabuse Buruma and Garton ash of their besotted fantasies about Ramadan's "moderateness" clearly and unambiguously states
“It's not enough to condemn terrorism. The religion that engenders it and on which it is based, right or wrong, must also be reformed.”
However, reform and evolution in Islam seem increasingly like a distant fantasy right now, with the powers-that-be colluding to stifle any criticism of it:
The United Nations top human rights body condemned "defamation" of religion on Friday and, in an apparent reference to the storm over the Prophet cartoons, said press freedom had its limits.
With the support of China, Russia and Cuba, Moslem and Arab states comfortably won a vote on the 47-state Human Rights Council to express concern at "negative stereotyping" of religions and "attempts to identify Islam with terrorism."
"The resolution is tabled in the expectation that it will compel the international community to acknowledge and address the disturbing phenomena of the defamation of religions, especially Islam," said Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
What we see is a de-facto alliance between representatives of "enlightened" liberalism, a Muslim Brotherhood charismatic dissembler promoting Sharia sensibilities as a desirable ethos for Europe, and a UN body, mandated with safeguarding universal justice, held hostage to reactionary failed regimes and fanatical theocracies. More specifically: Buruma, Garton Ash, Ramadan, China, Russia and Cuba, Moslem and Arab states.
Friday, March 30, 2007
Heard about this news on Ynet this morning:
Teddy Kollek, the legendary mayor of Jerusalem, lent a hand to the British authorities in their 1940s crackdown against right-wing underground movements that sought to drive the British out of Palestine, secret MI5 documents have shown.
Teddy was indeed a legendary mayor. He was Jerusalem. Patron of the Arts and actively engaged in consolidating the "Greater Jerusalem" concept. I never liked him. He was a snob of the first order. But he was also a Zionist who cared deeply about Israel.
This news is only a rubber stamp for what has always been known about this period of coallboration between the Jewish Agency and the British Mandate administration, labelled as the "Saison". There are no squeaky clean moral heros in this tale. Just leaders, deeply concerned about the future State of Israel doing some pragmatic thinking.
Here is what Wikipaedia has to say:
"The extremist Lehi group assassinated Lord Moyne in Cairo 1944. The two assassins, Eliyahu Hakim and Eliyahu Beit-Zouri were captured and executed. Though the Irgun joined the Jewish community of Palestine in condemning the murder, the Zionist leadership demanded that both separatist underground movements immediately disband. The Irgun refused. The Haganah initiated what is known as the Saison "The Hunting Season", in which it attempted to paralyze Irgun activity by arresting its members and turning them over to the British. Though many captured Irgun members were tortured, and some deported and even executed, Menachem Begin forbid them to fight the Haganah forces. The Irgun's costly determination to place the concern for national unity over the concern for its fighting ability or even the safety of its members gradually raised sympathies for the marginalized group, and serious disputes within the Haganah command. All in all, over 1000 members of the Irgun and Lechi were arrested and interred in British camps during the Saison. Several hundred were deported to camps in Kenya and Eritrea. "
Of course there is a great pain in the memory of that time. The Irgun thinking short-term (removing the Brits from Mandate Palestine) and the more conservative socialist leadership (funny combination that, isn't it?) worrying about the future international status of the State-to-be and its need for allies, if it wants to function as a nation among the nations.
So what the news does is nothing new except provide a name, an icon, to a policy during a time of great emotional upheaval and moral ambiguity. We must not forget the the years of the saison roughly correspond to the years of the Holocaust. The Yishuv's main concern was to bring about a change in British policy of prohibiting Jewish immigration. It could be seen as a policy of appeasement but its motivation must not be in doubt here.
And I'm not even sure the policy has not paid off, eventually. After all, Britain to this day, does not seem to hold the less salutary aspects of Israel's birth pains against it. Of all European countries, Britain is still Israel's best friend, second only to the US.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
The United Nations Human Rights Council : The Justice of Ogres
Last Monday we featured video of an amazing speech to the United Nations Human Rights Council by Hillel Neuer of UN Watch, in which Neuer blasted the hypocrites and despots of the Council and then was threatened with having his statements removed from the record, by a furious council president.
UN Watch has now put together another must-see video, showing the kinds of disgusting, evil speeches that are NOT banned by the UN Human Rights Council—including support for the execution of homosexuals, support for terrorist groups, Holocaust denial, and the inevitable demonization of Israel (to a frightening degree).
The United Nations at work.
There is an Israeli joke about a swimming pool life guard scolding a man caught peeing in the swimming pool.
So what of it, asks the man, everyone urinates in the swimming pool.
Yes, indeed, retorts the lifeguard, but not from the diving board.
Well, it looks like this Council has stopped even trying to keep up the charade of fairness, justice, universality by peeing from up on the diving board. And the honourable president thanks them for it ...
"I Will Not Express Thanks
March 30, 2007
New York Sun
...It shows actual film clips of the president of the Human Rights Council, Luis Alfonso de Alba of Mexico, thanking various diplomats for their testimony. He thanks a speaker for Zimbabwe talking about the ignorance of a delegate who has criticized human rights under President Mugabe. He thanks the delegate from Cuba for insulting a human rights expert who exposed abuses of the communist regime. When the permanent observer of Palestine asserts that the one that has a "monopoly on human rights violations" is Israel, which, he adds, is the darling of not only the ambassadors of America and Canada but also of the human rights commissioner, Louise Arbour, the observer is thanked by Mr. de Alba. On the clip one can see Mr. de Alba thanking the delegation of Sudan for a statement saying that reports of violence against women in Darfur has been "exaggerated."
Then one can watch and hear an envoy from Nigeria assert that "stoning under Sharia law for unnatural sexual acts … should not be equated with extrajudicial killings …" Or watch an envoy of Iran defend the Holocaust denial conference. Or watch a defense of the Hezbollah terrorist organization. Or speaker after speaker liken Israel to the Nazis, only to get thanked by Mr. de Alba or whoever is presiding. Then one can watch Mr. de Alba lean back demonstrably in his chair and fold his arms across his face and adopt a disapproving visage as Mr. Neuer of UN Watch begins his recent testimony. He notes that 60 years ago, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rene Cassin, and others gathered on the banks of Lake Geneva to reaffirm the principle of human dignity and created the Commission on Human Rights. He asks what has become of "this noble dream" and offers a devastating answer with a reprise of all the human rights abuses on which the council has been silent.
"Why has this council chosen silence?" Mr. Neuer asks. "Because Israel could not be blamed." ...
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Hillel Neuer is an unsung hero. Speaking truth to power, he addressed the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva, where human rights have been perverted to protect murderers and despots and to serve as an effective tool for demonizing Israel across the globe, in this speech (Via LGF):
"Let us consider the past few months. More than 130 Palestinians were killed by Palestinian forces. This is three times the combined total that were the pretext for calling special sessions in July and November. Yet the champions of Palestinian rights—Ahmadinejad, Assad, Khaddafi, John Dugard—they say nothing. Little 3-year-old boy Salam Balousha and his two brothers were murdered in their car by Prime Minister Haniyeh’s troops. Why has this Council chosen silence?
Because Israel could not be blamed. Because, in truth, the dictators who run this Council couldn’t care less about Palestinians, or about any human rights."
Strangely enough, some bloggers found Neuer's straightforward criticism too raw for their dainty stomachs. I wonder how this message, which is indisputably correct and easily verifiable, could have been delivered in a more "diplomatic" way, so as to allow il Presidente to pretend that it was something else.
Is the truth to be judged by a pretty turn of a phrase rather than the substance of accumulated facts and records? It appears to me that Neuer was trying to avoid any misunderstanding here. His short speech was not meant to be another "J'accuse". He had a message to deliver, in the 4 minutes or so that he was given to make it and he was not going to waste it on stylistic embellishments.
How do you make such a clearly biased council face up to its hypocrisy? At what point do you give up on the great pretense that this council is interested in anything like human rights and tell it like it is?
I was very gratified by the chairman's response. Some blogger felicitously compared his barely contained outrage to Jack Nicholson's Col. Jessup's condescending remark in "A few good men":
"What I do want is for you to stand there in that faggoty white uniform and with your Harvard mouth extend me some fucking courtesy. You gotta ask me nicely."
I prefer to give the council president Luis Alfonso De Alba the benefit of a doubt as to what I suspect was really going on in his mind.
Pascal Bruckner : Some final thoughts on the multiculturalism debate.
This is why I continue to prefer the position of Ayaan Hirsi Ali over that of Tariq Ramadan, even now that he has become a friend of tolerance and a prophet of anti-capitalism. In his laudatory portrait of Ramadan - that borders on hagiography despite minor reservations - Ian Buruma still manages to reveal some worrying traits in his new champion. I will refer to only one. While propagating the feminine sense of shame and recommending that Muslim women should abstain from shaking men's hands and using mixed swimming pools if they wish, Tariq Ramadan states that for his part, he does shake women's hands. Yes, you read it right: in 2007, a self-styled "progressive" Muslim preacher who has received the support of the entire French extreme Left for his anti-liberalism, pushes audaciousness to the point of admitting that he shakes women's hands. He should be named secretary of state for the condition of women!
In his response to my essay, Ian Buruma argues for Islamic hospitals on the grounds that there are Christian and Jewish hospitals. Similarly, he justifies beaches reserved for Muslim women with the existence of nudist beaches, passing the difference off as a matter of taste. Necla Kelek has rightly pointed out that Islamists aim to establish an out and out segregation of men and women right across society, in medical care, in leisure and education, and so to install a regime of voluntary apartheid within open societies. The problem with this defence of multiculturalism in the name of tolerance is clear: it leads to the end of the common world. The right to difference gets us very quickly to the difference of rights, with which believers may be preserved from contamination from impious – and so impure - ideas and behaviour.
Or, put another way: I have secured my rights. Now let's see how I can agitate your rights to better conform with my rights...
Thursday, March 22, 2007
An alarming trend...
"Hate is a ticking time bomb in Canada and anti-Semitism is the fuse," said Frank Dimant, executive vice-president of B'nai Brith Canada.
The group's annual audit revealed a 12.8 per cent increase in anti-Semitic incidents reported to its anti-hate hotline in 2006.
There were 935 cases, ranging from slurs on university campuses to street violence, spray-painting swastikas on synagogues and the firebombing of an Orthodox Jewish school in Montreal.
Anti-Semitism also reared its head in federal politics last year, when there was a behind-the-scenes campaign at the Liberal leadership convention in December to shun candidate Bob Rae because his wife, Arlene Perly Rae, is Jewish.
"This integration of hatred into the political process is one that is alarming, frightening and something that should be of concern to every single Canadian," Dimant told a news conference.
What's more frightening is the argument from Canadians who like to look the other way when antisemitism rears its ugly head, that it's not really antisemitism. Because it is mostly triggered by events in the Middle East. In other words, blame-the-victim fallacy...
You will never hear Canadians excuse Islamophobic incidents as not really Islamophobia because they are triggered by events in Iraq or Afghanistan...
Pity the kindergarten children...
Act two (Via: Mick Hartley)
Rim's story seems to have been more complicated than the version given by her Hamas handlers. Which makes the manipulation of her children even more cynical. As though the deed they forced her to carry out, and the blood shed, were not enough to cleanse her of her transgression. Her daughter is being groomed to follow in her footsteps.
I want to know this: where is the outrage from the Palestinian mothers? From UNICEF? Is someone going to save these children?
And in another theatre, application of similar idea: Children as weapons:
BARBARITY IN IRAQ:
Is there no limit to the barbarity of which Iraqi Arabs are capable? None? An AP dispatch in this morning's International Herald Tribune reports that a car gained entrance to a shopping area over the weekend when its driver pointed out that he had his two children in the back. He did indeed have two youngsters in the back and he left them there when he and a comrade jumped out. The vehicle then exploded. Among the dead were three bystanders and the kids. Seven people were wounded. This, of course, is a result of Israeli mistreatment of the Palestinians.
The Diameter of the Bomb
The diameter of the bomb was thirty centimeters
and the diameter of its effective range about seven meters,
with four dead and eleven wounded.
And around these, in a larger circle
of pain and time, two hospitals are scattered
and one graveyard. But the young woman
who was buried in the city she came from,
at a distance of more than a hundred kilometers,
enlarges the circle considerably,
and the solitary man mourning her death
at the distant shores of a country far across the sea
includes the entire world in the circle.
And I won’t even mention the crying of orphans
that reaches up to the throne of God and
a circle with no end and no God.
-- Yehuda Amichai
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
A new book by Martin Gilbert claims that Churchill, contrary to common opinion, was a fierce supporter of Zionism who spoke and acted against antisemitism insistently and consistently. Some of Churchill's quotes cited by Gilbert could be made today with perfect acuity, which is sort of depressing.
Anti-Semitism was anathema to Churchill. In a letter to his mother he described the French anti-Semitic campaign against Dreyfus as ‘a monstrous conspiracy’. His main criticism of the Conservative government’s Aliens Bill in 1904 was that the proposed immigration controls could be abused by an ‘anti-Semitic Home Secretary’.
When, in the House of Commons in 1921, Churchill spoke in favour of Jewish land purchase in Palestine, a fellow Member of Parliament warned him that, as a result of his advocacy, he would find himself up ‘against the hereditary antipathy which exists all over the world to the Jewish race’. This was indeed so: in 1940 a senior Conservative gave as one reason for Churchill’s unsuitability to be prime minister his ‘pro-Zionist’ stance in Cabinet, protesting against the Chamberlain government’s restrictions on Jewish land purchase.
During the second world war, Churchill suggested the removal of ‘anti-Semitic officers’ from high positions in the Middle East. This led one of those officers, his friend General Sir Edward Spears, a Liberal MP, to warn me, as Churchill biographer, that ‘Churchill was too fond of Jews’.
Following the Jewish terrorist bombing of the King David Hotel in 1946, at a time of strong anti-Jewish feeling in Britain, Churchill told the House of Commons: ‘I am against preventing Jews from doing anything which other people are allowed to do. I am against that, and I have the strongest abhorrence of the idea of anti-Semitic lines of prejudice.’
I've been reading some British blogs for a few months now. There are some fascinating discussions happening there, on blogs like Harry's Place and Engage. Most contributors are Leftists who strongly support Israel (as a Jewish state, not as a candidate for annihilation via the one "bi-national" state solution). Many discussions revolve around their ideological feuds with fringe "ultraleft" groups that advocate the destruction of Israel with all the seriousness and zealotry of a medieval Savonarolla. It is very difficult to figure out all the nuances that they discuss at times, when they seem to distinguish one extreme group from another based on some difference that I, personally, cannot even see. But they all appear to understand the language and the different political hues with relative ease.
Anyway, I have come to learn about some pretty extraordinary characters through these discussion, one of whom is Gilad Atzmon, an Israeli jazz player who calls himself an "ex-Jew" and is busy proclaiming a belief that antisemitic cabals are justified and possibly even true. I have been interested in these sort of "black sheep" since I made the acquaintance of Pablo Christiani, a notorious medieval apostate. Having studied under two prominent rabbis, he converted in 1230 and joined the Dominicans. He then spent the rest of his life attacking Jews and the rabbinical scriptures.
Such types are known throughout Jewish hirtory. They are as much a logical product of the virulence of anti-Jewish hatred as the gas chambers were.
This is how the Russian writer Alexander Herzen described this kind of "condition" in his great nineteenth-century work on the topic, My Past and Thoughts:
"I do say ... that exile, not undertaken with any definite object, but forced upon men by the triumph of the opposing party, checks development and draws men away from the activities of life into the domain of fantasy... cut off from the living environment to which they have belonged ... [they] grow more and more acclimatized to a closed, fanatic circle consisting of inert memories and hopes that can never be realized."
It can't be a coincidence that the first CD by that jazz player I was referring to was entitled: "Exile".
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Here is a selection from a satirical poem ,originally published on February 28, 2007 on MEMRI:
"When," By Saudi author and journalist Wajeha Al-Huwaider (Via: Omedia)
"When you cannot find a single garden in your city, but there is a mosque on every corner - you know that you are in an Arab country…
"When you see people living in the past with all the trappings of modernity - do not be surprised, you are in an Arab country.
"When religion has control over science - you can be sure that you are in an Arab country.
"When clerics are referred to as 'scholars' - don't be astonished, you are in an Arab country.
"When you find that the large majority of people oppose freedom and find joy in slavery - do not be too distressed, you are in an Arab country.
"When you discover that a woman is worth half of what a man is worth, or less - do not be surprised, you are in an Arab country…
"When you see that the authorities chop off a man's hand for stealing a loaf of bread or a penny, but praise and glorify those who steal billions - do not be too surprised, you are in an Arab country…
"When young women students are publicly flogged merely for exposing their eyes - you are in an Arab country…
"When land is more important than human beings - you are in an Arab country…
"When minorities are persecuted and oppressed, and if they demand their rights, are accused of being a fifth column or a Trojan horse - be upset, you are in an Arab country…
"When women are [seen as] house ornaments which can be replaced at any time - bemoan your fate, you are in an Arab country.
"When birth control and family planning are perceived as a Western plot - place your trust in Allah, you are in an Arab country…
"When at any time, there can be a knock on your door and you will be dragged off and buried in a dark prison - you are in an Arab country…
"When fear constantly lives in the eyes of the people - you can be certain that you are in an Arab country."
More on what people like to get wrong about Ayaan Hirsi Ali:
Christopher Hitchens does not mince words:
The Feb. 26 edition of Newsweek takes up where Garton Ash and Buruma leave off and says, in an article by Lorraine Ali, that, "It's ironic that this would-be 'infidel' often sounds as single-minded and reactionary as the zealots she's worked so hard to oppose." I would challenge the author to give her definition of irony and also to produce a single statement from Hirsi Ali that would come close to materializing that claim. Accompanying the article is a typically superficial Newsweek Q&A sidebar, which is almost unbelievably headed: "A Bombthrower's Life." The subject of this absurd headline is a woman who has been threatened with horrific violence, by Muslims varying from moderate to extreme, ever since she was a little girl. She has more recently had to see a Dutch friend butchered in the street, been told that she is next, and now has to live with bodyguards in Washington, D.C. She has never used or advocated violence. Yet to whom does Newsweek refer as the "Bombthrower"? It's always the same with these bogus equivalences: They start by pretending loftily to find no difference between aggressor and victim, and they end up by saying that it's the victim of violence who is "really" inciting it.
To flirt with this equivalence is to give in to the demagogues and to hear, underneath their yells of triumph, the dismal moan of the trahison des clercs and "the enlightenment driven away." Perhaps, though, if I said that my principles were a matter of unalterable divine revelation and that I was prepared to use random violence in order to get "respect" for them, I could hope for a more sympathetic audience from some of our intellectuals.
And here is Tjark Kunstreich connecting dots. He attacks the prevailing mindset of European "intellectuals" for " failing to counter Islamic anti-Semitisim":
"And so there is a general concession that "the Arabs" have been humiliated - either at the hands of Israel, the USA or the former colonial powers – and this is why they have run riot. This is similar in tenor to the arguments used in relation to the first rumblings of National Socialism in Germany and the "Dictate of Versailles." Another argument is that Islamists are fighting poverty. There is as much unwillingness today to acknowledge the ideological cost of Hizbullah's social work, as there was in the past towards the social policies of the Nazis – quite apart from the fact that this sort of social politics now as then means alms for good behaviour. Another thing that smacks of the appeasement is the reaction towards the dismantling of human rights under the sign of anti-Semitism, racism and the persecution of political opponents. This is being underestimated and trivialised as a cultural issue. This goes not only for the countries in the Middle East, but also for the way immigration to Europe is being handled. Europe is no longer a safe haven for people fleeing Islamic rule. The appeasement of political Islam is already claiming its victims, think of Theo van Gogh and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. And this is precisely the climate in which the executors of Islamist justice feel at home. At demonstrations where German peace activists walk side by side with people calling "Death to the Jews", the friends of peace do not even register it, let alone distance themselves.
Unfortunately, similar manifestations of obtuse insistence on "tolerating the intolerable" have been visible and audible among North American chattering circles, as well. It is not so rare to meet persons who snigger at and belittle Jews for being insulted when Muslims refer to them as "apes and pigs"*, or who dismiss a state-sponsored conference on Holocaust denial as a minor event of no significance whatever. Those pesky Jews. So thin-skinned when it comes to being slandered and reviled.
I agree with Kunstreich's conclusion that
"As diverse and sometimes divergent as the rhetoric of European governments and NGOs might be, when it comes to the crunch it is they, with their "critical dialogue" and culturally-obsessed interpretations, not to mention their playing down of an anti-Semitism bent on destruction, who have contributed to the continued boiling of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."
* This really belongs to what a friend of mine calls the "galactically stupid" comments one risks running across when wandering about the Internet:
" Well, Jews are descended from apes just like everyone else despite the outcome of the Monkey Trial. Straight out of Darwin. The outcome of the Monkey Trial was the fundamentalist won (creationists won).."
I believe this example suffices to illlustrate my point.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
A few weeks ago I saw in interview with Nicolas Sarkozy on the Charlie Rose Show. I was impressed in two ways: the first, at how fierce and unapologetic he was about his ambitions and vision. He repeated a few times that his life had been a constant struggle, from the bottom up, each step upwards as likely to lead to a slide down the ladder of political power and recognition as up. In this he reminded me of Benjamin Disraeli, whose life up to a certain point, reads like a slipsliding tale of climbing up a greasy pole. And here I come to my second impression about Sarkozy, that he lacked wit and charm, two qualities which Disraeli had in abundance. That got me thinking, how much more strenuous his hike up the French power structure must have been, due to the absence of these qualities, which the French admire so much. And how strong is the case he presents to the French electorate, if they are going to vote him into power.
Here is a portrait of Sarko:
Sarkozy is the closest to a neoconservative, free market libertarian, pro-American, pro-Zionist, unapologetic nationalist, pro-globalization candidate who could make it onto the ballot in France. Though many Jewish voters will probably maintain their leftwing voting habits, a significant sector of the Jewish community loves him like a brother. Jewish people are prominent in French public life; some assert their identity proudly and others flash it as a permit to trash Israel, some soft pedal it to avoid charges of parochialism, some never mention it, some are Christian converts, many have Frenchified their names.
Sarkozy is Catholic, but does not hide his Jewish affinities. His parents divorced in 1959, when he was four. His charming but unreliable Hungarian father went off to new adventures, his mother and the three boys moved in with her father, Benedict Mallah, a Jewish immigrant from Salonika who converted to Catholicism in 1917 when he fell in love with a widow from Lyon. Sarkozy’s wife Cecilia has similar mixed origins: her father is Jewish, from Eastern Europe, her mother is a Spanish Catholic. Nicolas Sarkozy has been openly, enthusiastically, abundantly friendly to the state of Israel and the French-Jewish community… particularly in the past seven years of explosive Jew hatred and virulent anti-Zionism. At every major incident, he has promised—as Minister of the Interior—that the culprits will be found, tried, and punished. The results have been meager but he is judged on his intentions.
Come to think of it, he also shares with Disraeli a converso identity.
Friday, March 16, 2007
Thursday, March 15, 2007
More on the debate on Multiculturalism which I've been following in my blog, from Peter Tatchell in the Spring 2007 edition of Democratiya:
Some critics blame multiculturalism for this political and ethical mess, arguing that respect for diversity has degenerated into a free-for-all, where anything goes. The right to difference has become a trojan horse, subverting human rights, they say. I agree with this view, up to a point. But I also believe that plurality and diversity are valid, providing they don't diminish the rights and freedoms of others. It would be a big mistake to dump multiculturalism on the basis of its sometimes oppressive interpretation and application.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Pity the Kindergarten children...
"Interviewer: What did mama do?
Dhoha: She committed martyrdom.
Interviewer: She killed Jews, right?
Interviewer: How many did she kill, Muhammad?
Interviewer: How many Jews did mama kill?
Muhammad: This many...
Interviewer: How many is that?
Interviewer: Do you love mama? Do you miss mama?
Where is mama, Muhammad?
Muhammad: In Paradise.
Interviewer: Dhoha, what would you like to recite for us?
Dhoha: In the name of Allah the Merciful the Compassionate. "When comes the help of Allah, and victory, and you see people entering the religion of Allah in troops, then celebrate the praise of your Lord, and ask His forgiveness, for He is ever ready to show mercy."
God pities the kindergarten children,
School children He pities less.
Grownups he pities not at all.
He drops them by the wayside,
And sometimes they have to crawl on hands and knees
In the scorching sand
To reach the first aid station,
He may spare some pity for those who love truly
He favours them
And extends his shade over them
Like a tree bows over
The homeless man
That sleeps on the public bench
Perhaps we too can take out
The few talents of grace
Mother left us.
Perhaps their happiness will shield us
Today and for the rest of time
This article by Halleh Ghorashi joins the debate about Multiculturalism that has been taking place here.
Why Ayaan Hirsi Ali is wrong
Ayaan Hirsi Ali's ideas on the incompatibility of Islamic faith and the emancipation of women are reductionist and dogmatic. Only openness to migrants' decisions can help Western society steer clear of cultural fundamentalism.
Homage to Jacques Chirac :
You can add up all the mistakes in Iraq and tuck them into Chirac’s handkerchief pocket and there will still be a three-piece suite to chalk up with his domestic and international failings.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
An edited extract from What's Left? How the Liberals Lost Their Way, by Nick Cohen, here.
At some point, he says:
"In Bridget Jones's Diary, her retelling of Pride and Prejudice, Helen Fielding summed up the kudos of liberal interventionists when she made her modern version of Mr Darcy, not a landed aristocrat but a "top-notch human rights barrister" and "total sex god": there was no more worthy or desirable occupation for the modern hero."
It's a bit of a misreading, since, Mr. Darcy, while being a sexy "top-notch human rights barrister", is also conservative. To me, personally, the combination is very desirable, because it takes the important issue of human rights from the radical left which applies it only in as much as it serves its political anti-Imperialist, anti-American and -Israel agenda.
Michael Ignatieff, in his book “Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry” looks at the depreciation of the term “human rights”:
“Global human rights consciousness, moreover, does not necessarily imply that the groups defending human rights actually believe the same things. Many of these NGO’s espouse the universalist language of human rights but actually use it to defend highly particularist causes: the rights of particular national groups or minorities or classes or persons… The problem is that particularism conflicts with universalism at the point at which one’s commitment to a group leads one to countenance human rights violations towards another group.”
Ignatieff is claiming here that a noble term which was supposed to uphold an ideal of universal justice, the kind that safeguards the equity and inviolability of all human beings, has been devalued by different interest groups to the point where it is nearly worthless. Politicization of an ethical principle can only lead to the kind of confused, dislocated application of the term “Human rights”, where some NGO’s use it to justify their support of terrorist activities.
Bridget Jones's Darcy is a virtuous man. Virtue is very much a conservative quality, in that it rejects moral relativism. In his character Darcy compromises between solicitude for human suffering (as distinct for exclusive pity, which Hannah Arendt warned against) and the law which he practices in order to bring relief to this suffering. He represents in fiction the practical wisdom, that the Euston Manifesto tries to articulate.
(Hat tip: NWO)
Saturday, March 10, 2007
Michael Waltzer, here, responds to Jerome Slater's article on the Lebanon War:
From the introductory paragraph:
Israel needs its supporters, because it is the only state in the world whose legitimacy is widely denied and whose destruction is publicly advocated and threatened. And it needs its critics so that its response to those denials and threats is held within the necessary moral limits.
And from its conclusion, which makes an important demand upon those who genuinely wish to see peace:
A final word. I do not like Jerry Slater’s attempt to distinguish me from my friends Alan Dershowitz and Martin Peretz (I don’t know Abraham Foxman). I have agreements and disagreements with them, but the agreements are far more important. I hope that is true of Slater too, but the reference at the end of his piece to the political power of American Jews leaves me wondering. He is playing with a very dangerous trope here, and he must know the dangers. It is not right to suggest that U.S. policy toward Israel/Palestine won’t change unless American Jews support the change. If the leaders of the Palestinians renounced terrorism and repressed the terrorists in their midst, the U.S. government would support a rapid move toward Palestinian statehood, whatever American Jews wanted (most of them would favor the move) and whatever their lobbyists in Washington were saying (some of them would oppose the move). American foreign policy is determined by American interests and American sympathies, and if the Palestinians looked as if they wanted a state alongside Israel, and nothing more than that, it would be in our interest to help create such a state, and the project would enlist our sympathies. It would be a small help along the way if critics of Israel like Slater conveyed this message to their Palestinian friends—with the appropriate mix of defense and critique. Two states will never be the result of the one-sided politics he displays in this polemic.
Friday, March 09, 2007
More on pushing European buttons...
"While we don't think the outcome of this songfest is worth a moment's consideration by any serious person, the notion that a pop plea to let Israelis "sit in the sun" rather than vaporizing them is worth thinking about, however controversial.
It is, in fact, part and parcel of the current European political culture that seems to view Iran's genocidal intent with a degree of equanimity. As such, this song contest has now moved from being a piece of popular silliness into yet another sinister expression of the growing European tide of Jew-hatred. "
Marvin Kalb has published a new study about the way this summer's Israel/Lebanon War was reflected in media report. The abstract says:
"Based on content analysis of global media and interviews with many diplomats and journalists, this paper describes the trajectory of the media from objective observer to fiery advocate, becoming in fact a weapon of modern warfare. The paper also shows how an open society, Israel, is victimized by its own openness and how a closed sect, Hezbollah, can retain almost total control of the daily message of journalism and propaganda."
Here's one excerpt that caught my eye:
"... the Israelis were quickly accused of hitting civilian targets with an indiscriminate callousness amounting to war crimes. On August 3, Human Rights Watch specifically accused Israel of war crimes.8 Few seemed to note that before the war, on May 27, Nasrallah had actually—and publicly—embraced the guerrilla tactic of hiding soldiers among civilians. "[Hezbollah fighters] live in their houses, in their schools, in their churches, in their fields, in their farms and in their factories," he said, adding, "You can’t destroy them in the same way you would destroy an army."9 By war’s end, it was clear that Nasrallah was right. Hezbollah, though severely wounded, remained a fighting force in defiant objection to all U.N. resolutions calling for it to be disarmed.
Israel defended its military operations by citing two relevant articles in international law: using civilians for military cover was a war crime, and any target with soldiers hiding among civilians was considered a legitimate military target.
Israel’s foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, framed her government’s argument in cold language. "When you go to sleep with a missile, "
Having read the entire study (38 pages) I concluded that we are now firmly within a whole new media-dominated era, where ethics and rationality are trumped by decontextualized, fast, easy to digest images. The advance of technology seems to encourage a need for unambiguous messages, in small, swallwable, sugar-coated capsules. In other words, the more advanced our technologies, the more simplified we want life to be. Context, understanding, knowledge, these take time, personal commitment, sophisticated thinking. Our media cannot provide these kinds of information and news. There is no time and the attention span of viewers and readers* is very short. Emotions and sentimentality are much easier to pander to, much more satisfying than asking questions and urging scepticism.
When I first read the following quote, written by an acquaintance of mine about three years ago, I did not get its prophetic insight into the very foreseeable future. As I read the Kalb's study, I remembered it:
"The amount of data and the speed at which it is transmitted may magnify small anomalies into systemic failure.
More is less.
Conversely, what, in perspective, are small (on the scale of a war) events are magnified by hypermedia into hyperevents, which may be inherently uncontrollable.[..]
Hi-tech armed forces get lots of data, really fast, and launch a lightning strike on a perceived threat.
Small errors in data are magnified by all that blistering speed, and, oops--mistakes happen.
Hypermedia picks up this relatively small event, acceleration and amplification turn it into a hyperevent."
* Viewers and readers whould be more appropriately tagged as : consumers of news and information.
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Little Green Footballs is a website I rarely visit. Though I usually like and agree with the chief blogger's views on Israel and Islam, two subjects which worry me deeply, I don't like some of the comments that follow some posts. At times so ascerbic and angry, that they remind me of their counterparts on Far-Leftist websites.
Anyway, I visited the blog today and found this post which is interesting:
"True voices of moderation are the delegates to the Secular Islam Summit, who insisted in their declaration that mosque and state should always be separate. They also called for tolerance for non-Muslims, and an end to violent jihad. CAIR should take notes.
So what if many of them are ex-Muslims? They risked their lives to leave Islam and now dare to openly criticize an ideology that everyone else is afraid to criticize. What these brave souls have to say carries far more weight than anything said by CAIR, which couldn’t even bring itself to condemn Osama bin Laden in the wake of 9/11.
Yes, Bedier argued, but the summit’s “funding is coming from the neoconservatives.” An article posted by CAIR suggests “Israeli intelligence” is behind the movement.
In CAIR’s kooky world, the Zionists are behind everything, even 9/11.
But if anyone was behind 9/11, it was the Saudis. And guess who bankrolls CAIR? Right: the Saudis.
Fittingly, CAIR’s Bedier balked when summit delegate Tawfik Hamid, a former terrorist, challenged him to denounce Saudi sharia law for “killing apostates, beating women and stoning women.”
I'm not sure I fully understand why the delegates are referred to as "ex-Muslims". Since the conference is called "Secular Islam Summit" I assumed the delegates were secular Muslims. Being myself a secular Jew (and an atheist) I still consider myself fully Jewish. Unless these ex-Muslims have all converted to some other religion, why are they called "ex-Muslims"? Why is the choice of practicing your cultural identity in a relaxed form, be tagged by a term that could be interpreted, wrongly, as apostasy?
And related to the above, here is a worried article from Bruce Bawer, whose While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam Is Destroying the West from Within is from Doubleday:
No, most Danes don’t want to be dhimmis: In poll results released in late January, 79 percent of them said Fogh Rasmussen owed nobody an apology. (This is, let it be remembered, the only European country that stood up to the Nazi “final solution” by ferrying its own Jews to safety.) But millions of Europeans have already internalized Islamic taboos and accepted the need to curb liberties in order to “keep the peace.” For them, Muslim rage—and its expression in acts of violence and death threats—is already an accepted part of life that is simply not to be questioned or criticized; in their view, the fault lies with those who provoke the rage by failing to be good enough dhimmis. “There is something wrong with a democracy,” read a typical viewer SMS on a Norwegian news discussion program, “where an editor can put the whole country in danger!” EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson was one of many who spoke of outraged Muslims as if they were a force of nature—every re-publication of the cartoons by other European newspapers, he said, “is adding fuel to the flames.” Across Europe, the same kind of leftists who reflexively cheer art for outraging Christians now uphold Muslims’ sacred right not to be offended.
What the Arab world is watching:
Remember this interview with Al-Jazeera Editor-In-Chief Ahmed Sheikh some time ago?
"Q: At whom are you angry?
A: It's not only the lack of democracy in the region that makes me worried. I don't understand why we don't develop as quickly and dynamically as the rest of the world. We have to face the challenge and say: enough is enough! When a President can stay in power for 25 years, like in Egypt, and he is not in a position to implement reforms, we have a problem. Either the man has to change or he has to be replaced. But the society is not dynamic enough to bring about such a change in a peaceful and constructive fashion.
Q: Why not?
In many Arab states, the middle class is disappearing. The rich get richer and the poor get still poorer. Look at the schools in Jordan, Egypt or Morocco: You have up to 70 youngsters crammed together in a single classroom. How can a teacher do his job in such circumstances? The public hospitals are also in a hopeless condition. These are just examples. They show how hopeless the situation is for us in the Middle East.
Q: Who is responsible for the situation?
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the most important reasons why these crises and problems continue to simmer. The day when Israel was founded created the basis for our problems. The West should finally come to understand this. Everything would be much calmer if the Palestinians were given their rights.
Q: Do you mean to say that if Israel did not exist, there would suddenly be democracy in Egypt, that the schools in Morocco would be better, that the public clinics in Jordan would function better?
A: I think so."
Here's another illustration of Al-Jazeera's version of "unfiltered truth". One has to read it to believe it:
"There is a term I frequently use: 'neo-Goebbelism.' 'Goebbelism' as in Goebbels..."
Interviewer: "You lie and lie until you believe it yourself."
Faysal Al-Qassem: "Exactly. Or until some of it gets into the minds of the masses. It goes back to Goebbels, Hitler’s famous information minister. In my opinion, these Goebbels deserves our sympathy… By Allah, he deserves our sympathy. They curse him, spit on him, and call him a liar, yet today, they have developed the theory of Goebbelism a thousand times more than during the Nazi period, because of the huge budgets of the media outlets, and because of the diversity of the media - the Internet, TV, journals, and so on. Goebbelism was never more prosperous than today."
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Spot the connection between a Israeli (?) rooster, an Israeli (?) sacrifice and the truth of the blood libel:
Interviewer: "In some Israeli newspapers and media, we have seen that they take an Israeli hen or rooster, and shed its blood, and they say that this is a form of Israeli sacrifice that brings blessing. We have witnessed this on several occasions. The question is why this important book, Bloody Passover, provoked the Jews throughout the world, who said that this renowned Israeli historian is antisemitic."
You, reader, must not miss this interview. It's chokeful of wisdoms and useful information: here.
And another gem of high thought and civility from the land of the Nile:
“‘Hillary’ and ‘Obama’ – A Woman and a Negro are Participating in the Campaign for the American Presidency”
The religious man in the foreground is saying: "This is another sign of the collapse of the Western civilization"
An interesting view, which considers the election of a woman or an African-American to the American presidency as a dire omen for the disintegration of Western civilization. I also wonder what women, and black people in Egypt feel like when they observe this cartoon. I also wonder what Black Muslims in America would think about such a message.
Monday, March 05, 2007
Pushing European buttons...
Yonah Tamar makes a valid point:
Anyone who takes offense to Israel's song choice, and says it is not proper for the Eurovision contest, need only look at last year's entry that actually WON the contest. They were dressed like 'Decomposed Monsters who were part Klingon, part Viking, part Hounds from Hell. They donned metalic garb with sharp spikes, and had fingernails that looked like it could slice a person in half. They even brought on stage a killer axe. Their song entry contained these lyrics below:
...Wings on my back
I got horns on my head
My fangs are sharp
And my eyes are red
Not quite an angel
Or the one that fell
Now choose to join us
or go straight to Hell...
This group was none other than Finland's own heavy metal band called LORDI.
Yes, like hypocrisy and double-standards are so unknown to the Europeans . . .
Friday, March 02, 2007
You can hear here the Israeli song picked to represent Israel in the next Eurovision Song Context.
Push the button...
The song's (partial) lyrics are as follows:
The world is full of terror
If someone makes an error
He’s gonna blow us up to biddy biddy kingdom come
There are some crazy rulers they hide and try to fool us
With demonic, technologic willingness to harm
They’re gonna push the button
Push the button push the bu push the bu push the button
And I don’t want to die; I want to see the flowers bloom
Don’t want a go capoot ka boom, and I don’t want to cry
I wanna have a lot of fun, just sitting in the sun
But nevertheless - he’s gonna push the button
Push the button push the bu push the bu push the button
Messages are exploding on me
Missiles are flying and also falling on me
Police and thieves are running all over me
They jump on me and feed on me
My God, my God, give me answer my God, Hashem
This nightmare is too long
When I'm barely alive and everyone is aiming at me,
Perhaps it's too early to sing
When I gave you my life
Oh, Oh - the Police
Whoa, Whoa - Rescue Unit
Here is a song without a scale
Red is not just a color, it's more like blood.
There is a very good possibility that the song will not be allowed to compete in the Eurovision song contest. Because "It's absolutely clear that this kind of message is not appropriate for the competition". So they say.
Ah, Scandinavian discriminating good taste and impeccable manners in full display again. They really don't want to make it uncomfortable for some audiences. Does anyone remember this story?
Different countries, different contexts, yet somehow... the stench that wafts in the air smells the same..
But as Kobi Oz says, "the lead singer, told the Israeli newspaper Maariv: “The song has a line that talks about ‘some crazy leaders,’ but we didn’t mention names. The state of Israel has gone through enough so that it can laugh at terrorism. The Israelis chose the song because that is the best way: not to be afraid, but to laugh in their faces.”