Sunday, April 29, 2007

Bizarro world:

"We are a people who have never attacked others."

"Haniyeh: What do I have to do to receive an invitation from (German) Chancellor Angela Merkel to attend the World Cup games?

SPIEGEL: For that to happen, you would also have to recognize Israel's right to exist and renounce violence.

Haniyeh: Then I'd rather watch the World Cup on television."

Der Tagesspiegel

The Iraqi writer Abbas Khider who lives in Munich points out in an interesting article that Iraqi society has been bound up in the process of militarisation for decades. "The daily violence in Iraq, which we have seen on our TV sets since 2003, has not come out of the blue. It's part of a long process which began with the Iran-Iraq war. In 1980 the Iraqi government decided that the war should not only be fought on the front, but also in schools and on the streets. The militarisation of life was the leading principle of the Baath party and its leader. So over the course of the years, violence has secured a hold in the consciousness of Iraqi society – and in its subconscious. All Iraqis had to learn how to use a gun. Alongside the regular army, the government founded a 'children's army', a 'youth army' and a 'people's army'.... During this and all subsequent wars in Iraqi, Baath was the ruling ideology. There were public executions, deportations of Shiites as 'an impure Iraqi race' and imprisonment of political opponents. The country knew almost only one colour: khaki, the colour of the military."

Saturday, April 28, 2007

In honour of Israel's Independence Day which took place a few days ago, many blogs published lists of its achievements. I didn't think of that at the time but I guess it is never ever too late to praise a person, let alone an entire country. Here is the full list . Lack of space compells me to post only part of the items described, chosen according to my fancy:

The Middle East has been growing date palms for centuries. The average tree is about 18-20 feet tall and yields about 38 pounds of dates a year. Israeli trees are now yielding 400 pounds/year and are short enough to be harvested from the ground or a short ladder.

Israel, the 100th smallest country, with less than 1/1000th of the world's population, can lay claim to the following:

The cell phone was developed in Israel by Israelis working in the Israeli branch of Motorola, which has its largest development center in Israel. Most of the Windows NT and XP operating systems were developed by Microsoft-Israel.

The Pentium MMX Chip technology was designed in Israel at Intel. Both the Pentium-4 microprocessor and the Centrino processor were entirely designed, developed and produced in Israel.

The Pentium microprocessor in your computer was most likely made in Israel.

Voice mail technology was developed in Israel.

Both Microsoft and Cisco built their only R&D facilities outside the US in Israel.

Israel has the highest ratio of university degrees to the population in the world.

Israel produces more scientific papers per capita than any other nation by a large margin - 109 per 10,000 people -- as well as one of the highest per capita rates of patents filed.

In proportion to its population, Israel has the largest number of startup companies in the world. In absolute terms, Israel has the largest number of startup companies than any other country in the world, except the U. S. (3,500 companies mostly in hi-tech).

With more than 3,000 high-tech companies and startups, Israel has the highest concentration of hi-tech companies in the world -- apart from the Silicon Valley, U. S.

Outside the United States and Canada, Israel has the largest number of NASDAQ listed companies.

On a per capita basis, Israel has the largest number of biotech startups.

Twenty-four per cent of Israel's workforce holds university degrees -- ranking third in the industrialized world, after the United States and Holland - and 12 per cent hold advanced degrees.

When the U. S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya was bombed in 1998, Israeli rescue teams were on the scene within a day -- and saved three victims from the rubble.

Israel has the third highest rate of entrepreneurship -- and the highest rate among women and among people over 55 - in the world.

Israel was the first nation in the world to adopt the Kimberly process, an international standard that certifies diamonds as "conflict free."

Israel has the world's second highest per capita of new books.

Israel is the only country in the world that entered the 21st century with a net gain in its number of trees, made more remarkable because this was achieved in an area considered mainly desert.


Israeli scientists developed the first fully computerized, no-radiation, diagnostic instrumentationfor breast cancer.

An Israeli company developed a computerized system for ensuring proper administration of medications, thus removing human error from medical treatment. Every year in U. S. hospitals 7,000 patients die from treatment mistakes.

Israel's Givun Imaging developed the first ingestible video camera, so small it fits inside a pill. Used to view the small intestine from the inside, the camera helps doctors diagnose cancer and digestive disorders.

Researchers in Israel developed a new device that directly helps the heart pump blood, an innovation with the potential to save lives among those with heart failure. The new device is synchronized with the heart's mechanical operations through a sophisticated system of sensors.

A new acne treatment developed in Israel, the ClearLight device, produces a high-intensity, ultraviolet-light-free, narrow-band blue light that causes acne bacteria to self-destruct -- all without damaging surrounding skin or tissue.

An Israeli company was the first to develop and install a large-scale solar-powered and fully functional electricity generating plant, in southern California's Mojave desert.

All the above while engaged in regular wars with an implacable enemy that seeks its destruction, and an economy continuously under strain by having to spend more per capita on its own protection than any other country on earth.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Bat-Yeor, author of Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis, is interviewed here, on JBlog Central. She furnishes her angle on the recent clamouring from European institutions and unions to boycott things Israeli:

"All this creates important Euro-Arab links and pressures which determine a policy based on economic opportunism. The European Union (EU) runs several student programs for Arab foreigners; it finances countless pro-Arab NGOs, and has established strong Euro-Arab networks to coordinate a common position against the U.S.A. and Israel between academics, opinion-makers, journalists and union workers. European states fund and structure the ideological Palestinian war against Israel. We have seen recently that the Britain National Union of Journalists voted for a boycott of Israeli products. Last year it was the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE) which voted to adopt a "silent boycott" of Israelis universities, professors and students. This policy is instituted by the
Euro-Arab networks that bind together European and Arab syndicates.

There is a weighty, almost iron collaboration at all institutional level between Europe and the Arab League countries. European anti-Americanism and anti-Zionism are built within this Arab and Muslim political nexus. Unless America accepts to enter into the same parallel disintegrative process of surrender and moral support to jihadist ideology that is rotting Europe, Europe hostility will not pass; on the contrary, it will increase. Europe now is chained to the Arab-Muslim world and cannot disengage or change direction. Blair tried to do it and failed miserably. In fact, after ten years at the head of government, he bears the main responsibility for this
hapless situation."

Here is one reviewer's opinion about Bat-Yeor's book.

"Engage" is a British website set up by a group of Left-thinking intellectuals for the purpose of exposing antisemitic strains in Leftist media and intellectual circles, as well as resisting boycotting attempts of Israel.

Posted on "Engage" today is this short speech by Anthony Julius ("T. S. Eliot, Anti-Semitism and Literary Form") a British solicitor who who combines knowledge of the law as well as literary analytical competence when he tries to make sense of events and trends. I am always impressed when a person can dissect a subject which is raw with emotions and laden with historical symbolism in such a cool, commensensical and decent way. This is just an excerpt, in which he explains the right of Freedom of Speech. He makes an interesting point about this right losing its meaning if severed from its moiety: the ability to communicate, to address:

Freedom of speech If we reflect upon the three terms in the title of this section of today’s proceedings, “political engagement, academic integrity, and freedom of expression,” there is a temptation I think, to regard freedom of expression as, so to speak, the instrumental item of the three. "Academic integrity" is plainly an object, an end in itself, and so is "political engagement." But freedom of expression seems merely to be the means by which we might practice our academic integrity, or the way in which we might practice our political engagement.

There is some truth in thinking about freedom of expression in this way, but it seems to me that to do so creates the risk that we simply, so to speak, leave it at that, and we don’t go on to recognize that freedom of expression has its own substantive value. This would be a grievous error, because freedom of expression is indeed an end in itself. It has its telos, as it were. And this is the case, it seems to me, for two reasons.

The first reason is that by speaking or writing, we discover who we are. (It is a common experience for people who write that it’s only when we write down what we think, that we discover what it is that we think). Expression is a principal form of self-realization. To limit or deny self-expression is thus an attack at the root of what it is to be human.

The second reason is that freedom of expression must incorporate freedom of address. Freedom of expression for an individual on a desert island is hopeless, destructive, pointless, except for the most narcissistic of souls. It is not sufficient for my freedom of expression for me simply to be free to speak. What matters to me is that people should be free to listen. I should have a sense of dialogue, or at least the possibility of dialogue. Boycotts exist in order to put a barrier in front of the speaker. He can speak but he cannot address. He cannot communicate. And this is a form of
exclusion, isolation, it is a kind of casting out. And to speak in this language, of course, is to approach the question of anti-Semitism.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Consider the "new" debate that takes place within academia and some circles of the "Left" about Israel's right to exist, as she celebrates her 59th birthday today. If Israel were a person, that would be like her parents are still debating whether they should have aborted the baby, or used better birth control.

Anyway, happy birthday, Israel, my poor, beleaguered, persecuted, brilliant and beautiful Israel. May you live to see many many happy returns of this day.

Here's Hatikva, sung by the punk who will represent Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest, next week. It's a nice illustration of authentic Israel voices, the kind noone but Israelis and a handful of upbeat Jews are interested in.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

French Election: Sarkozy wins first round, followed by Royal

ASTONISHING TURNOUT - 85%! French Hit the Polls --
New Estimates for Second Round; Sarkozy 54%, Royal 46%

Friday, April 20, 2007

The scandal of Paul Wolfowitz - neocon

The etymological meaning of scandal:

"1581, "discredit caused by irreligious conduct," from M.Fr. scandale, from L.L. scandalum "cause for offense, stumbling block, temptation," from Gk. skandalon "stumbling block," originally "trap with a springing device,"

The documented history of the latest "trap with a springing device" can serve as an anatomy of the witch hunt targeting Paul Wolfowitz.

"All of this is so unfair that Mr. Wolfowitz could be forgiven for concluding that bank officials insisted he play a role in raising Ms. Riza's pay precisely so they could use it against him later. Even if that isn't true, it's clear that his enemies--especially Europeans who want the bank presidency to go to one of their own--are now using this to force him out of the bank. They especially dislike his anticorruption campaign, as do his opponents in the staff union and such elites of the global poverty industry as Nancy Birdsall of the Center for Global Development. They prefer the status quo that holds them accountable only for how much money they lend, not how much they actually help the poor."

(Via: Stephen Pollard)

From IMRA, here is the latest First Amendment melee (Hat tip: Lois):

Joshua H. Stulman, the former Penn State art student whose anti-terrorism artwork was censored by Penn State, and who was labeled a racist propagandist for Israel by two professors, filed a Complaint in federal court last night, claiming violations of his First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and expression and of association, and that he was defamed by School of Visual Arts Director Charles Garoian.

Stulman created a series of paintings, "Portraits of Terror," to address the issues of Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism in Israel. Each of the paintings in the series is based on news articles, photographs and well-documented research.

Penn State officials and the Muslim Student Association advisor who professed concern about Stulman's work refused Stulman's repeated efforts to meet with them.

Penn State art professor Robert Yarber, also a named defendant in this lawsuit, labeled Stulman a racist propagandist who promoted Islamophobia, and said Israel was a terrorist state that had no right to exist.

An art professor slandering a student and putting the kaibash on that student's artefact? I might expect such craven ethics from a Cambridge university, but I still trust American universities to be of sturdier moral and academic material. Yet here is a university of some prestige and standing decides to ban an art exhibit, because its message offends the received wisdom of its Muslim Students Association.


Well, I checked further into this story. It looks like I misspoke. This is not the "latest" incident since it happened a year ago. I should have verified the date before posting.

Anyway, it's hard to find out exactly what happened. But apparently, the initial ban was removed due to the interference of the President of Penn State University and the exhibit was allowed to go on. Whether it did, after all, is not clear. Also, the student in question and the Hillel Student Organization which sponsored him demanded an apology from the School of Visual Art director. I could not find anywhere that such an apology was offered. Maybe this is the incentive for the complaint submitted by Stulman, who is no longer a student there.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Why do they hate us?

...But it was an unplanned reaction by some of the protestors in attendance that made the biggest—and most disturbing—statement of the night.

That came after Dr. Wafa Sultan, a secular Syrian-American writer, misspoke while referring to the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl by using Pipes’ name instead. Laughing at such a mistake is understandable, but there were some people who clapped enthusiastically at what they undoubtedly viewed as a legitimate punishment for Mr. Pipes. His crime? Warning others of the threat posed by Islamic totalitarianism.


When asked about radical Islamists on campus, Pipes brought up the broader issue of the love affair between the far left and radical Islam. The alliance works because the two groups share the same enemy: George W. Bush. The far left has been waiting for decades for the “revolution,” and with totalitarian Islam it has finally arrived. Islamists, meanwhile, take advantage of the fact that the left is established in many national institutions. Brook then reminded the audience that the French left loved the Islamic revolution because they viewed it as a snub to capitalism.


Here is one example of the French Intellectual infatuation with the Islamic Revolution:

Progressive and leftist intellectuals around the world were initially very divided in their assessments of the Iranian Revolution. While they supported the overthrow of the shah, they were usually less enthusiastic about the notion of an Islamic republic. Foucault visited and wrote on Iran during this period, a period when he was at the height of his intellectual powers. He had recently published Discipline and Punish (1975) and Vol. I of History of Sexuality (1976) and was working on material for Vol. II and III of the latter. Since their publication, the reputation of these writings has grown rather than diminished and they have helped us to conceptualize gender, sexuality, knowledge, power, and culture in new and important ways. Paradoxically, however, his extensive writings and interviews on the Iranian Revolution have experienced a different fate, ignored or dismissed even by thinkers closely identified with Foucault's perspectives.

Attempts to bracket out Foucault's writings on Iran as "miscalculations," or even "not Foucauldian," remind one of what Foucault himself had criticized in his well-known 1969 essay, "What Is an Author?" When we include certain works in an author's career and exclude others that were written in "a different style," or were "inferior," we create a stylistic unity and a theoretical coherence, he wrote. We do so, he added, by privileging certain writings as authentic and excluding others that do not fit our view of what the author ought to be: "The author is therefore the ideological figure by which one marks the manner in which we fear the proliferation of meaning" (Rabinow 1984).

Throughout his life, Foucault's concept of authenticity meant looking at situations where people lived dangerously and flirted with death, a site where creativity originated. In the tradition of Friedrich Nietzsche and Georges Bataille, Foucault embraced the artist who pushed the limits of rationality and he wrote with great passion in defense of irrationalities that broke new boundaries. In 1978, Foucault found such morbid transgressive powers in the revolutionary figure of Ayatollah Khomeini and the millions who risked death as they followed him in the course of the revolution. He knew that such "limit" experiences could lead to new forms of creativity and he passionately threw in his support. This was Foucault's only first-hand experience of revolution and it led to his most extensive set of writings on a non-Western society.

The Imus Fiasco:

I was never interested in Don Imus. He always seemed like a mulish aging teenager to me, too well pleased with his own image as a heedless and rakish "bad boy". So romantic. So rich. So frowning. So gum-chewing. So buccaneerish! So... damned if I care poseur. When the last scandal broke, I thought it was about time. No more no less. But then I surfed the internet and got another flash insight into American bigotry.

How shall I say it?

Well, it seems that Imus's bigotry was not news to anybody. But it became a launching pad for sanctimonious outrage when he made this offensive, gratuitously malicious comment about a nice group of black female athletes.

Dissent magazine published this opinion article on its website:

The Gotcha Game: Don Imus and his Critics, by Nicolaus Mills.

In it, Mills tries to puncture the moralistic posturings by the reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton by reminding us of their own past bigotted expressions against Jews. Who are they, asks Mills, with their own history of dismissive contempt and even activist hatred, for the Jewish community, to point the finger at Imus?

"The search for common standards of decency becomes irrelevant, and the winners and losers never look to change who they are. They are too busy putting new notches in their belts and leaving the rest of us to figure out how we keep score in a fight in which the rules keep changing and double standards are the norm."

I'm a little astounded by Mills' account of the main characters in this cheap drama. I'm astounded that he ignores the "common standards" that Imus, Sharpton and Jackson do share. Is there any difference in the venom, prejudice and contempt manifested in any of the following expressions speaking of Jews?

"these money-grubbing bastards" "their scummy little heads.”

“that boner-nosed . . . beanie-wearing little Jew boy”

“thieving Jews” is “redundant.”


The bigotry that Mills decries is much more layered and problematic. While Imus was reprimanded and punished for his insult to a group of black women, while his main accusers have an history of no less vicious bigotry of their own type, an eerie silence remains over the lack of outrage at Imus' past antisemitic invective which he shares with his detractors.

What does it mean? That a new rhetorical coalition will undoubtedly emerge as a consequence of this fiasco, dictating extreme care in the use of language when directed at people with certain minimum level of pigment in their skin. This re-invigorated code of speech will further serve to harmonize and consolidate black and white solidarity, while united by intrinsic antisemitism.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


My few readers will have to indulge me a bit as I seem to go into one of my introspective moods. This particular mood is caused by a subject I'm researching now for a paper. Generally speaking, I'm trying to link my understanding of social and personal responsibility to an understanding of the intrinsic value of friendship as a social good. But it's hard for me to think in abstract terms. I always have to tie these notions to actual examples, either from literature or life experience. I also try not to sentimantalize the topic.

When we think of friendships, we usually distinguish between those that are based on genuine caring reciprocity and others that are about usefulness. but I have come to realize that we may mistake one for the other, easily. Friendships formed in times of great personal loneliness and neediness may wear the guise of genuine intimacy but in fact they are just a sort of infatuation, burning intensely and shallowly, and then.. poof! .. gone. All that is left is a sinking feeling of some shamefulness. And its inevitable silence. It's not the shame of being duped, because no duping was ever intended. It's the realization of how much our self-judgment can depreciate under the pressure of life circumstances. Do you see how this realization necessarily problematizes the issue of personal responsibility?


Some of our most basic and powerful life choices are predicated upon the presence or absence of two uniquely human qualities: love and friendship. By “love” I mean what the Greeks referred to as “Eros”, by “friendship” I mean basically Agape.

It seems that as we progress from childhood to old age, the two concepts, Love and Friendship, tend to undulate considerably in their importance to our selves and in our life. Friendship is important in childhood. With teenage and young womanhood come puberty, sexual initiation and courtship. Love then takes a definitive precedence over friendship. As we progress through life, sometime around the midpoint of a natural lifespan, we become more acutely aware, yet again, of the importance of friendship as a good, an asset, in our wellbeing. The two forces of love and friendship are always present, but friendship is more dominant as a perceived goods in childhood and maturity.

The crucial importance of friendship in childhhood was captured with vehement insistence by Canadian author L. M. Montgomery in her book “Anne of Green Gables”. Eleven year old Anne Shirley longs for a bosom friend and invests in her friendship with Diana all the fervour, intellectual energy and gratitude of a child who had known all too well the loneliness and vulnerability of a friendsless orphan. And what child reading that story cannot relate to the desperation for an ideal friend, a kindred spirit, with the mandatory mutual admiration of each friend’s uniqueness?

And none described friendship in more astute and uplifting prose than Montainge, from the other end of his life. About his friendship with La Boetie: “ If any one should demand that I give a reason why I loved someone, I feel it could no otherwise be expressed than by the answer, “Because he was he; because I was I”.

Of the interim period, that comes between Anne’s childhood friendship and Montaigne’s mature one, we can insert Jane Austen’s courtship novels, in which friendship plays a minor role and mainly a negative force upon the happiness of the heroine.

Great friendships that are known for their uniqueness are rare: Achilles and Patroclus from the Greeks; David and Jonathan from the Bible. We have Montaigne and La Boetie in the sixteenth century. And we have Martin Amis and Christopher Hitchens, a modern day version of Montaigne’s model of friendship, described by Amis this: “ My friendship with the Hitch has always been perfectly cloudless. It is a love whose month is ever May.”

People who have written about friendship have always found it necessary to differentiate it from erotic love. And this is an intuitive need, I think, as my introduction seems to suggest. It was the only natural entry into the subject of friendship, by first explaining what it is not.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Quotably irresistable....

" could argue that Iran is probably the most democratic country.”

New Yorker journalist Seymour Hersh's pearls of wisdom on Iranian radio.

(Via: Pajamas Media)

This report from the Guardian:

The National Union of Journalists has voted at its annual meeting for a boycott of Israeli goods as part of a protest against last year's war in Lebanon.

"The vote on the motion was taken after it was split from a larger motion that condemned the "savage, pre-planned attack on Lebanon by Israel" last year.


This motion, known as Composite B in Order Paper 4, was carried by a large majority and also condemned the "slaughter of civilians by Israeli troops in Gaza and the IDF's [Israeli Defense Forces] continued attacks inside Lebanon following the defeat of its army by Hezbollah".

The motion called for the end of Israeli aggression in Gaza and other occupied territories."

In 1966 movie "What's Up, Tiger Lily?", Woody Allen removed the voice track from a Japanese spy movie, and replaced it with one of his own creation. He never even bothered with the original script at all. The result was very entertaining.

The motion of the National Union of Journalists and its provided rationale reads like Allen's adduced script. It has very little to do with the actual events that unfolded last summer, or their conclusions. And the result is not very entertaining. It is actually quite frightening in its insistence on disowning knowledge. It cannot be excused away as merely an interpretation. It is an assault upon historical truth. And it is a new concept in academic scholarship, determining what truth is by a vote; those who voted for the boycott were voting for its moral underpinnings, presented as unquestionably factual and true in the motion's proposal.

This is the third beat in a series of events which have gained prominence in the war against the idea of Israel's legitimacy and survival as a Jewish state and a democracy: The cancelation of the lecture by Keuntzel, the appointment of a self-declared anti-Zionist historical revisionist for a History chair at Exeter University, and now this, from a union of journalists, no less.

As I gaze at this concentration of events from a distance of an ocean, I wonder what's happening to British intelligentia. Haven't these journalists been given a "carte blanche" now to report about and interpret anything concerning Israel and its Arab enemies in light of these "amendments" to the events of last summer as we know them? Here is another example of such guidelines, meant to poison public attitudes towards israel.

The unfolding of the events was recorded by the UNSC, hardly known for its sympathy for Israel.

There is a de-facto symbiosis between what journalists report and interpret and how they are sustained by academic scholarship that provides the ethical support for their interpretations. The two prosessions, journalists and scholars, depend on, validate and feed each other to a certain extent, with journalists practicing what scholars theorize about.

So here we have three events in rapid succession, the silencing of a lecturer whose thesis suggests Islamic culture has fostered a legacy of nazi-type antisemitism, the honouring of a anti-Israeli intellectual whose thesis strays from verifiable history into the fantasy world of a dedicated anti-Zionist, and now a union of journalists boycotting Israeli goods.

There is a mood in British academia, and among its chattering classes, which sustains these decisions, which tolerates tinkering with facts and ethical principles, which easily disregards information that sympathizes with Israelis, and that seeks to criminalize Israel.

Hitchens Yanked...

Looks like Hitchens has finally and officially given up on constitutional monarchies and has landed firmy on the side of Jeffersonian democracy...

ACERBIC Brit Christopher Hitchens refers to Washington,
D.C., as his hometown - and now he's making it official. Hitchens was in Paris
Wednesday, where he told a group of journalists that he was about to officially
become an American citizen, having applied for his green card years back. "His
first item of business as a Yank will be to start a U.S. cricket team," our
source giggled.

Saturday, April 14, 2007



"I jumped in, explaining that the sort of coffee he’d asked for is indicative of coffee that’s been over-roasted, and though the beans look like what he thinks good coffee should look like, all black and oily, in fact, they’ve had all the subtleties incinerated out of them. Too dark a roast obliterates the soft chocolate tones of a Guatemala Medina, the intense blueberry hit of an Ethiopian Harrar…."

I feel somewhat vindicated in my choice of coffee taste which has always inclined towards “medium-roast”. Real manly men, like Johnny Bravo, seem to attach a certain significance to their liking a coffee that is dark-roast. As though a preference for drinking a coffee dark, bitter, sugarless and milkless is somehow indicative of a certain tough virility as well as continental connaisseurship... Well, I never had any pretensions for European elegance. It's all a myth, anyway. I have always liked my coffee medium roast and I have a preference for the way the Italians roast their coffee beans. But I always welcome new flavours, as long as they are not "dark roast". I am a coffee multiculturalist moderate: curious and respectful.


Nidra Poller tries to make sense of the inscrutability of French politics:

Something more profound is at work, a slow process of
dhimmitude that is setting up its own laws and prohibitions. It does not mean
that the young man (will we ever know his name?) who pushed the policeman to his
death is a Muslim. What it does mean is that French society has internalized an
attitude of self-indictment.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Diary of a 13 year old boy..

Serendipity it is not. What to call this convergence of synchronisities? God playing practical jokes? The universe rattling the knob on our backdoor? Consider an added wrinkle on this enigma the fact that debris from the shuttle Columbia was found in a town called "Palestine" in Texas.

"Still, underlying the frequent yet seemingly unconcerned entries is a sense of growing alarm - if not for Petr, then certainly for his reader - and he occasionally allows this unease to slip through.
"In the morning I did my homework," he writes on Jan. 1, 1942.

"Otherwise nothing special. Actually, a lot is happening, but it is not even visible. What is quite ordinary now would certainly cause upset in a normal time." But then Petr just as soon moves on. The next day, he offers only one line: "In the morning I did my homework, in the afternoon went for a walk."


"The diaries came to light in 2003, discovered because of another tragedy: the explosion of the space shuttle Columbia on Feb. 1, the day Petr would have turned 75. On the flight Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli astronaut and the son of an Auschwitz survivor, had taken a pencil drawing by Petr, borrowed from the collection of the Yad Vashem museum in Israel. When the shuttle exploded over Texas and the story of Petr's drawing was told, a man contacted Yad Vashem saying that he had discovered Petr's old copybooks in the attic of his home in Prague."

" when in the Rome, one must do as the Romanians do"

This is a real funny from The Pajamas Media's The Manolo. Poor Nancy Pelosi, who tried to curry favour with a tyrant and turned herself into of object of ridicule and resentment in the process.

Indeed, it is the rule of the Manolo that when one is the visitor one should try to show sensitivity to the customs and beliefs of the hosts, especially when the personal cost is so very low.

All the Speaker Nancy did was put on the scarf. It is not as if she was showing her cultural sensitivity to Islam by helping to stone the adultress, or giving the fifty
lashes of vigor to the woman driver.

Yes, a bit of an unfair jibe but still quite incisive. There is some truth there about the craven inclination to avert one's gaze when in the service of public relations.

Compare and contrast with that other petty-minded, self-aggrandising buffoon, the perpetually sullen Imus, with his gratuitous slur "nappy-headed hos".

And having touched upon this subject, let me state that I support his being ejected from his CBS spot. Here is why, courtesy of Oliver Kamm's argument pertaining to another debate about freedom of speech:

"My rationale drew on a story given by the late philosopher Sidney Hook about a conversation he once had with Bertolt Brecht. Hook was a socialist who did much to expose for American audiences the fraudulence of the Moscow Trials. When Brecht paid a visit to Hook's New York
apartment in 1935, the two men discussed the issue . Of Stalin's victims, Brecht said: "The more innocent they are, the more they deserve to be shot.” Having checked he had heard Brecht correctly (Hook was fluent in German), Hook brought the man his hat and coat and showed him the door. My attitude to an indefatigable Holocaust denier - and not only to him - who used to litter my blog with his comments is like that. I hold left-wing opinions and libertarian social views.
I am close to being an absolutist on freedom of expression (I strongly opposed the gaoling in Austria of David Irving, for example). But I see no logic in the notion that defending freedom of speech requires me to extend a platform of my own - my home, my dinner table or my web site - to others to use as they will."

I try not be a coward when engaging in subjects that are very close to my heart, such as Israel and antisemitism. So every now and then I venture into the netherfields of radical Leftism and challenge their prevailing wisdom with some of my own positions. My most recent attempt unfolded here. Another futile engagement took place here. There were other attempts on other websites but the vituperative level of the responses does not merit any further acknowledgement.

Someone like Mike, from the Sojourner blog, gains my respect for merely being civil, or relatively so. He benefits from the principle of the rabbi's goats.

What is that principle?

Here is the folktale on which it is based:

A poor man comes to his rabbi to complain about how difficult life is for him, his wife and their six children in a small one-room hovel. The rabbi refelects a bit.

Then he asks: Do you have any chickens?

- Yes.

- Good. You must now keep them inside your home.

The poor man, astounded, nevertheless does as advised. Returning a few days later, he complains to the rabbi that things are even worse now. What to do?

- Do you have any goats?

- Yes, two.

- Good. So you must keep them inside your home with the chickens and all the rest of you. Things will get better.

A week later, the man returns: Rabbi, your advise does not work. The noise, the filth, we can't sleep, we can't breath properly. What kind of advise is this?

The rabbi reflects and tells him: OK. Now go home and remove the chickens and the goats from your home.

The man returns a few days later and hugs the rabbi in gratitude: rabbi, you have no idea what relief your last advice gave my family. We suddenly feel so much better, breathing fresh air in our tiny but comfortable home!

The principle? I guess it's a version of relativity. The extra abrasive element, which should not have been there in the first place, once removed, changes the entire culture of the exchange. A dialogue can actually take place when the gratuitous constant noise of invective and insults is ejected.

Cass Sunstein was addressing this type of engagement when he wrote about the way presidential candidates interact with their opponents. His points can easily extend to any discussion:

The antonym of respect is disdain or (better) contempt; the
antonym of charity is selfishness or (better) stinginess. It is much worse to be
disrespectful than to be uncharitable. Politicians who show respect--Senator
McCain is a good example--tend not to attack the competence, the motivations, or
the defining commitments of those who disagree with him. Politicians who show
charity as well as respect--Senator Obama is a rare example--tend to put
opposing arguments in the best possible form, to praise the motivations of those
who offer such arguments, and to seek proposals that specifically accept the
defining commitments of all sides.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Surprising lucidity in confronting myths and beliefs from Saudi columnist Yousef Nasser Al-Sweidan, via MEMRI:

"Clearly, the refugee problem is mainly the result of cumulative mistakes made by the countries where [the refugees] live... such as Syria and Lebanon, which have isolated the refugees in poor and shabby camps lacking the most basic conditions for a dignified human existence. Instead of helping them to become fully integrated in their new society, they let them become victims of isolation and suffering... Later, the worst of all happened when Arab intelligence agencies used the Palestinian organizations as a tool for settling scores in internal Arab conflicts that probably have nothing to do with the Palestinians...

"The Israelis, on the other hand, were civilized and humane in their treatment of the thousands of Jewish refugees who had lost their property, homes and businesses in the Arab countries, and who were forced to emigrate to Israel after the 1948 war. The Israeli government received them, helped them, and provided them with all the conditions [they needed] to become integrated in their new society...

"The lies of the Syrian Ba'th regime, and its trading in slogans like 'right of return,' 'steadfastness,' 'resistance,' 'national struggle,' and all the other ridiculous [slogans], are evident from the fact that, to this day, dozens of Palestinian families [remain] stranded in the desert on the Syrian-Iraqi border, because the Syrian regime refuses to let them enter its horrifying Ba'th republic and return to the Yarmouk [refugee] camp.

"The Arab countries where the Palestinians live in refugee camps must pass the laws necessary to integrate the inhabitants of these camps into society. [In addition, they must] provide them with education and health services, and allow them freedom of occupation and movement and the right to own real estate, instead of [continuing] their policy of excluding [the refugees] and leaving the responsibility [of caring for them] to others, while marketing the impossible illusion of return [to Palestine]..."

As pro-Western, pro-democracy voices manage to rise above the angry murmur of rejectionist Arab-Muslim populism, with such fierce speakers as Nonie Darwish and Buthayna Nasser , Ali Hirsi Ali and Irshad Manji, some media outlets will not support their struggle. Why aren't there more liberal thinkers, activists and general palaverers more involved in giving their support to moderate, reasonable, freedom-craving Muslims? Where are they? Instead, what we get is silencing, nixing of programmes as in the following example. I ask, is this not the modern version of book-burning?

Producer Martyn Burke claims that PBS, in order to be
allowed to continue with the project, tried to make him fire some of his
associates on the film because they belong to a Conservative Think Tank and that
they still axed his film anyway when all was said and done.

So, what is all the fuss over with this film?

Burke wrote that his documentary depicts the plight of moderate Muslims
who are silenced by Islamic extremists, adding,

"Now it appears to be PBS and CPB who are silencing them."

Apparently PBS, is so afraid of even appearing to say that some
Muslims' actions are problematic that they would rather suppress the whole show
then deal with the truth.

Subtitled Voices From the Muslim Center, Burke says his film "attempts
to answer the question: 'Where are the moderate Muslims?' The answer is,
'Wherever they are, they are reviled and sometimes attacked' " by extremists.

(Hat tip: NWO)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

"... my face, which constitutes my identity.. "

The clear and vigourous voice of a woman asserting her equality before God and all is as yet a rare sound in Saudi society. And this voice in particular resonates with authority and conviction. It is the voice of Saudi TV Newscaster Buthayna Nasser as she confronts Saudi cleric Nasser Al-Huneini over Initiative to Prevent Women from Appearing on TV. On the same occasion she takes a swipe at Muslim indoctrination of the faithful. What a superb punchline!

Buthayna Nasser: Sir, when I appear on TV, and when I
claim my right to play a role in this professional field, I demand that my face,
which constitutes my identity, be seen. Under no circumstances am I prepared to
allow my identity to be obliterated.

Walid wondered how I, as a newscaster, can describe
Saudi society as being brainwashing. There is nothing to be surprising about,
Dr. Walid. From the age of six or seven, from elementary school until high
school, when we reach the age of 18, and even later, when we go to university -
we memorize, memorize, and memorize. Whoever dares to argue or to question
anything is called upon to ask for Allah's forgiveness. He is told that this
will get him into Hell. You, who frighten people with Hell, have brought them a
hell upon earth. You have banned books of the various intellectual streams.
You've prevented the mind from operating, thinking, comparing, and choosing,
even though it is the same mind that the Creator gave people in order to choose
between Paradise and Hell. Our Lord honored Man by giving him the freedom to
choose his path in this life, and the consequences are revealed in the world to
come. Deeds are measured by the intent, and, as the Great Teacher taught us,
good intentions steer our behavior. Yes sir, we are being brainwashed on a daily
basis, through schools, through the Koran memorization schools. We always demand
that these schools not be places of memorization, but for places for teaching,
for interpretation, and for learning the keys to the Arab language, which is the
secret to understanding the Koran and mysteries.
Enough memorizing like parrots.
Yes, we are all brainwashed, except for the few spared by God.

Here is the transcript (Hat Tip: EU Referendum)

Shalom Lappin, a Leftist British intellectual whose opinions I don't always share (I am, after all, a centrist, which means I am to his right), has written a patient and penetrating analysis of the recent events in British academia which bear directly on the question of academic freedom. He does not shy away from looking, describing and interpreting the troubling scenes without flinching.

The current controversies imply two deeply troubling
conclusions. First, large parts of the academic community and the press remain
indifferent to serious violations of academic freedom when committed against
people perceived as holding pro-Israel views. Second, the policy of anti-racism
is applied selectively on campus and in large sections of the British press.
There is admirable concern for defending many minority groups against
expressions of prejudice, but anti-Semitism is not generally recognized as a
serious issue unless it is explicitly identified with right wing groups. Use of
extreme anti-Zionism as a vehicle for group defamation against Jewish students
and the Jewish Community is not, for the most part, perceived as a problem
across the political spectrum, and particularly among what passes itself off as
the left today. Even careful, well documented charges of anti-Jewish incitement
are frequently dismissed as a cynical distraction designed to censor criticism
of Israel and the “lobby” associated with it.

While the government has expressed
support for the recommendations of the All-Parliamentary Committee on
Anti-Semitism, it has done little, if anything, to provide effective political
leadership in dealing with the issues that the report highlights. In particular,
it has refrained from discussing these issues as important questions of public
policy and so defining them as matters of serious social concern on a par with
other varieties of racism and bigotry that blight British society. The
leadership of the British Jewish Community has aggravated the problem by
adhering to its traditional historical model of “quiet diplomacy” and
accommodationism in responding to the growing tide of hostility that we are

In this somnolent environment the breakdown in the universal
application of academic freedom and anti-racism has been permitted to move into
mainstream university institutions and large sections of the media. It is not
generally identified as a challenge to the democratic institutions of the
country precisely because it is focused on a relatively small ethnic group which
is associated with an increasingly unpopular cause. In fact, as we have seen so
often in the past, when democratic norms are breached for a specific group (and
particularly for the Jews) their viability is invariably threatened for other
groups as well.

Monday, April 09, 2007

"Kike like me"- a Canadian documentary to watch for:

"- Are you a Jew? Don't ask Jamie Kastner. The question annoys the Canadian documentarymaker. He gets asked it a lot.

So Kastner shot "Kike Like Me," a road movie bowing at Toronto's Hot Docs documentary festival on April 24. In the film, Kastner answers a hypothetical "yes" when asked whether he's Jewish, followed by an equally terse "Why do you want to know?" to gauge how friend and foe reacts.

"I saw theatrical possibility from seeing how Jewish identity plays out in so-called civilized cultures where we've gotten over all 'that,'" Kastner explains.

The results are revealing. Kastner underwent a shotgun bar mitzvah from proselytizing Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn asking passersby "Are you Jewish?"; got turfed from Pat Buchanan's living room after asking why the TV pundit attacks Neocons for being Jewish; debated Israeli-born Gilad Atzmon, a self-described "devoted opponent of Israel and of Zionism," in London; and partied with Amsterdam soccer hooligans proudly calling themselves "Joden" (Jews).

The film's title is a play on "Black Like Me," John Howard Griffin's classic 1961 book about a white reporter dying his skin black to experience bigotry first-hand.

But there's more of a connection with Elia Kazan's 1947 movie "Gentleman's Agreement," where Gregory Peck plays a crusading reporter pretending to be Jewish for a magazine article exposing racial intolerance.

Kastner does the same for his documentary. Like Peck's character, he is at first peeved by early prejudice, until Kastner gets more than he bargained for when asking Parisians of Middle Eastern background what they think about Jews. And his breaking point comes at Auschwitz when Kastner abruptly tells his cameraman they won't be joining the tourist hordes visiting the original ovens, and instead will just go home.

"They were perceived as Jews, and died for it. And I'm perceived as a Jew, and it suddenly doesn't sound like ancient history," Kastner says at the end of a personal journey in which he appears aloof and wise-cracking as the film begins, to experiencing profound menace at its end.
Not surprisingly, the 10 broadcasters who prelicensed "Kike Life Me" -- including BBC Storyville, the U.S. Sundance Channel, Canada's TVOntario, AVRO in Holland, Denmark's TV2, YLE in Finland and Australia's SBS -- felt equal menace over the film's title.

But Kastner says only one broadcaster, Toronto-based Chum Ltd., rejected the "Kike Like Me" title and chose instead "Jew Like Me."

Chum production executive Charlotte Engel insists the word "Kike," while suitably in context in the film, might be considered discriminatory by some.

So, is Kastner Jewish?

"Why do you want to know?" he shoots back, with the barest trace of a smile.

Funny coincidence here. This morning as I was composing a comment over here, I thought of referencing the movie A Gentleman's Agreement, in trying to explain my intuitive abhorance of of the phrase describing Jews as enjoying "white skin previlege" .

"Phil Green: Dark hair, dark eyes. Just like Dave. Just like a lot of guys who aren't Jewish. No accent, no mannerisms. Neither has Dave."

What's missing from this quote? "White skin"!

A white man pretending to be a Jew because he can fake it, due to his white skin and black hair. A Jew with white skin and black hair can fake it, be seen as a white man, exploit that similarity. The white man is ennobled for trying to pretend to be a Jew (downgraded). The title of Phil Green's article was to be: "I Was Jewish for Six Months." And after he is done with his little expreiment, he can wipe his brow in relief and go back to being a non-Jew and marry the quietist woman who could not even finish those six months with him, but not before she sacrifices some of her own social prestige by renting her house to a Jew!

Would the Jew be likewise ennobled for pretending to be white, make use of his "white skin previlege"?

Not bloody likely. The assumption is that white skin "upgrades" the Jew and therefore the Jew is twice suspect: for being an upstart, and for leading a double life. Which is exactly why I find this line of argumentation so sordid and pejorative, an antisemitic argument, rooted in the primitive fear that a Jew could not be easily identifiable as one.

Esther Delisle, who wrote a book about the legacy of Lionel-Groulx and antisemitism in Quebec, talked about how the idea of the invisibility of the Jew was a source of national paranoia during the thirties and forties. A Jew named Goldberg could change his name to Godbout and there would be no way of telling him apart from non-Jews.

Mordechai Richler had an ironic twist on this paranoia when he discussed Jews as being designated "an invisible minority". "My people", he used to say with some acerbity, "are anything but invisible".

The term "invisible minority" was much bandied about when Multiculturalism was just beginning to be the big Canadian invention. Another popular term without any Jewish content to it was "hebridity". Fortunately, both phrases have more or less vanished from the public discourse. And there is a reason why they vanished. They are simply racist. They use racial markers to denote some added value, but the value is that of a diminishing, which is always the case when you try to assort and categorize human beings according to the colour of their skin, whether literally or metaphorically.

But apparently, in the lexicon of the Radical Left, talking about Jews enjoying the previlege of white skin is perfectly legitimate.

Go figure.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The spectre of Nancy Pelosi shaking Assad's hand has some liberal Arabs seething with indignation.

According to MEMRI:

"Instead of demanding [Al-Labwani's] immediate release [from prison], Pelosi went to reward the hangman, and turned her back on the victim. Did Al-Labwani fall victim to the trust he placed in America's promises to support democracy and those demanding it?

"This is more than saddening; it is disgraceful to the highest degree. But not all of the blame falls on Ms. Pelosi alone. Over the last four months, more than 10 U.S. members of Congress, from both parties… have made the pilgrimage to Damascus and met with Assad… What is certain is that support for reform and democracy in Syria was not on their agenda.

"Any observer cannot help but be astounded how elected representatives of the American people, which loves liberty and humanity and is devoted to democracy, can engage with a first-rate dictatorial regime..." ( , April 6, 2007.)

Having forgotten that submission is not a strategy against tyranny, Pelosi seems to have also forgotten John F. Kennedy's own faith in freedom and decency for all: "Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free."

She chose to look away. But why wonder? Tremulous fawning and silence in the face of fascist dictatorship and butchery are considered the better part of wisdom today, aren't they?

Friday, April 06, 2007

As per bizarro: A three part essay presented by O-Media explaining how the West tends to view the Arab world through the lenses of Western culture, which leads to distorted perceptions and mistakes in dealing with the Middle East.

Arab Culture Through Western Eyes

Tunisian author and researcher, Ikbal Algharbi, paints
an even worse picture, showing that as a people, Muslims still adhere to the
principles of the Bedouin tribes before the Islamic era, which received
religious reinforcement with the rise of Islam.

We still insist that we are always the victims and
always innocent. Our history is monarchical, our imperialism is welcome
occupation, our invaders are liberators, our violence is holy jihad (war), our
murderers are shahids (martyrs) and our misunderstanding of the Koran and the
daily violations of the rights of women, children and minorities are forgiving
religious law (“shariya”)
… Violence, conquest, savage acts of destruction are
engraved on human history. But what distinguishes us (Muslims) today is our
level of historical awareness… and the extent to which we justify the values of
the past in the name of Islam” [3].

Because of this clash of civilizations, those in
“liberal” professions, such as journalists and lawyers have to undergo a “Middle
East adaptation” so that their opinions fit in with the rules of society [4].
Scientists for their part struggle with constant denunciation from the religious
scholars who consider science “an opinion”, a human invention aimed at
questioning the actual existence of God [5]. It is worthwhile mentioning that
ambivalence toward scientific development causes many to give science a wide
berth [6] even if they have studied it and to strengthen the fundamentalist view
which sees science simply as a military tool

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

I mentioned an alarming trend some time ago. Looks like things are accelerating:

MONTREAL – A small explosion outside a Jewish community
centre is sending a chill through Passover celebrations in the city by recalling
the dramatic firebombing of a Jewish school three years ago.

Workers at the Ben Weider Jewish Community Centre
in Montreal's west end reported hearing an explosion late Tuesday

"A homemade bomb exploded and there was a small
fire," said police spokesperson Lynne Labelle.

The crude device resulted in no injuries and what
little damage it caused was washed away by today's rain, she said.

But with the explosion coming right in the middle
of Passover week and two days before the third anniversary of the firebombing of
the United Talmud Torahs elementary school library, many in the Jewish community are concerned.

M.E.M.R.I. posts some interesting snapshots from Middle Eastern media:



Do you agree that as a rule,
peoples whose lands have been occupied have the right to conduct resistance and
to fight?"

Nonie Darwish:

"As Arab countries, we must grant
Israel some security. From the days of Abd Al-Nasser until today, with
Ahmadinejad in Iran, all they hear is that we want to throw Israel into the sea.
All they hear are ugly things. Can you believe that we accused Israel of 9/11?
In mosques in America, Egypt, and the Arab countries, they say that Israel was
the cause of 9/11. It is wrong for the Muslims to say such things about

Watch the video, here. A must-see!


Turkish Radio and TV Council Issues Warning to Turkish Radio
Stations for Broadcasting Islamist Messages and Calling for Jihad.

""My dear brother, there is no such thing as 'religions.' There is
no other religion to which Islam is superior. Islam is the one and only religion
in universe."[...]

And then:

When we wanted to explain the value of our faith, [why
didn't we launch] social initiatives... or harness our economic resources to
inform the world about the noble nature of Islam and shari'a? Nothing [of this
sort] was done, except for a few conferences organized by Muslim preachers - and
even this came only after the situation had deteriorated.

"These conferences did not have as much impact as the
actions of the rabble... the bombing of buildings, the abduction of innocent
people, and the murder of peaceful individuals. These spread more quickly and
made a greater impression than lectures aimed at changing [the Western
perception of Islam]...

"Our insistence [on reacting] by
chopping off heads is a paradigm no less dangerous to humanity than paradigms
like Nazism and Fascism. Why isn't there a single Muslim who has not heard about
the [offensive] cartoons [of the Prophet Mohammad] - but when [a Belgian paper]
plans to print and distribute translations of our Holy book [the Koran], this is
taken for granted?..."

"Not to look away"

On reading this interview with Andre Glucksmann, I found that much of what he says resonates with me deeply. Here is a selection of thoughts I found particularly acute:

.. "The intellectual is incompetent [who] flouts his own expertise without having any. And at the same time, he presents himself as judge." ... intellectuals abstain from preaching goodness. *

Two weeks ago, Glucksmann kicked up yet another stink with an article that appeared in Le Monde titled "Why I'm voting for Nicolas Sarkozy." ... It is Sarkozy, not the socialists, who took up the case of Bulgarian nurses in Libya who were condemned to death (more), who protested the massacre in Darfur, who recalls the 250,000 Chechnyans killed. Glucksmann always felt more at home with the Left, he explains in conversation, but the distinction has now become misleading. It was Sarkozy, and not a leftist, who provided the only realistic answer to the uprisings in the banlieues: these people need work, the French economy needs a kick start. Glucksmann argues that if you look at content and not words, you have to vote "right" on occasion.


... most problems in the world come from people who need identity at all costs. Most wars are, among other things, wars of identity [-] ... "If you have a solid identity, there's no problem. If you don't have one, and that's increasingly the norm in today's world, you can either accept that or try to create one, with violence or at the expense of others." A large portion of the world's population today lives somewhere between the old world of agrarian certainties and Western democracies, where various groups live together according to rules; in a violent zone of uncertainty and conflict over identity. This is an ideal climate for nihilism... The nihilist... may pose as a nationalist, a Marxist or a Muslim fundamentalist, but these are all just alibis. In fact, he is just empty, without a base, and his only motivation is to hate and to destroy the other.

In his last book "Le Discours de la Haine" (more): .. misery and repression... are just taken as an excuse to give brutality free rein. In elaborated cases, an entire ideology is constructed. It's never the cause of hatred, it's an alibi that's put there in retrospect. And therefore, the rebuttal of ideologies does not lead to a disappearance of destruction. .. "Some feel they've been called upon by God, others feel liberated by the absence of God and all conventions. Both work with or against each other and kill profligately, because they feel they have the right to do everything.

"None of that speaks against the right to revolt. Glucksmann remains full of admiration for the engagement of his mother and her comrades in the French Resistance. For him, the Resistance is a perfect example of how partisans must not copy the methods of their oppressors.

When I asked him about the essence of his thinking, he said: "Nicht wegschauen" (Not to look away). On this particular afternoon, these are the only two words he says in German, his mother's language in which she once lulled him to sleep in occupied France.


* Here Glucksmann provides an example:

...On the scales of world opinion, some Muslim corpses are light as a feather, and others weigh tonnes. Two measures, two weights. The daily terrorist attacks on civilians in Baghdad, killing 50 people or more, are checked off in reports under the heading of miscellaneous, while the bomb that took 28 lives in Qana is denounced as a crime against humanity. Only a few intellectuals like Bernard-Henri Lévy or Magdi Allam, chief editor of the Corriere della Sera, find this surprising. Why do the 200,000 slaughtered Muslims of Darfur not arouse even half a quarter of the fury caused by 200-times fewer dead in Lebanon? Must we deduce that Muslims killed by other Muslims don't count - whether in the eyes of Muslim authorities or viewed through the bad conscience of the west? This conclusion has its weak spots, because if the Russian Army - Christian, and blessed by their popes - razes the capital of Chechnian Muslims (Grosny, with 400,000 residents) killing tens of thousands of children in the process, this doesn't count either. The Security Council does not hold meeting after meeting, and the Organization of Islamic States piously averts its eyes. From that we may conclude that the world is appalled only when a Muslim is killed by Israelis.

Should we thus presume that the public at large implicitly endorses the ideas that Ahmadinedjad shouts at the top of his lungs? And yet so many of those sceptics who display consternation over bombings in Lebanon seem shocked if you suspect them of anti-Semitism. I want to trust them. We don't want to imagine that the entire planet is mired in anti-Jewish paranoia! But then the matter becomes even more puzzling. What is the source of this hemiplegia? Why is the world frightened by Israeli bombs alone?

Monday, April 02, 2007

Christopher Hitchens holidays in Iraqi Kurdistan:

'Yet Kurdistan continues to demonstrate how things could have been different, and it isn't a place from which the West can simply walk away."

I tremble for the Kurds. How will they survive if the US army up and leaves? On every expectation placed on Iraq before the toppling of Saddam - they made good. They created a democracy out of their shambles, with economic opportunities and decent institutions. They are grateful to the Americans for making it possible for them to regain their humanity, their dreams, their future.

What's to become of them if the rejectionist forces in the US have their way? Hitchens' generous descriptions will be sneered at, by hard-core leftists who don't even want to know about this one third of Iraq where democracy is now enjoyed and taken full advantage of - a neocon dream come true. How can they know about this success story and simultaneously demand troops' withdrawal? It must be disowned, then.

Teaching in schools about the Holocaust considered too offensive for Muslims:

"Schools are dropping the Holocaust from history lessons to avoid offending Muslim pupils, a Government backed study has revealed.

It found some teachers are reluctant to cover the atrocity for fear of upsetting students whose beliefs include Holocaust denial. " (Hat Tip: Lois)

I wonder if the West is about to enter into another dark age, reversing the evolution of truth, enlightenment, reason and human rights.

"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)