A new event . . .
Paul Berman writes a mammoth essay about Tariq Ramadan. He asks all the questions that Ian Buruma omitted to address, or addressed only superficially in his Ramadan portrait for The New York Times. Berman did not talk with Ramadan personally, but he did read his books. With extreme patience and exactitude (the printed version is 47 pages long!) he examines clues, contradictions and possible interpretations. At the end he comes to the Bruckner-Buruma debate launched by signandsight.com and its sister site Perlentaucher, and identifies a "reactionary turn in the intellectual world." The comment refers to authors - among them Ian Buruma and Timothy Garton Ash - who have polemicised against Ayaan Hirsi Ali. "Something like a campaign against Hirsi Ali could never have taken place a few years ago. A sustained attack on an authentic liberal dissident crying out against
injustices in remote parts of the world and even in the back streets of Western
Europe, a sustained attack that appears nearly to have erased the very mention
of women's oppression and the struggle for women's rights from discussion - no,
this could not have happened yesterday, except on the extreme right. This is a
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)
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
A new event . . .
Israele Siamo Noi (Israel is Us)is a new book by Fiamma Nirenstein, an Italian journalist who grew up in a communist Zionist household and now has become a version of the American neo-con: "No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece
So I turned to the students and asked them, “If you were threatened, like Israel is, would you go into the army?” And they all said no. Then I asked them if their brother or sister were being threatened, would they go into the army, and they said no.
Then I thought about what I wrote in the book about Israeli youth. And I thought of the stupid saying by Bertolt Brecht, “Unhappy the land that is in need of heroes.”
Well, I think, “Happy the land that is in need of heroes,” because it gives the people the possibility of loving and being committed to something. Of course, I’m not referring to warriors against democracy and for conquering the world, like the Islamists do. I’m referring to wars of defense, like those of Israel. When you speak to Israeli boys and girls - even during this time of the Winograd Committee findings about the failures of the government and upper echelons of the IDF - you realize how unique they are. None of this stops them from wanting to serve in the army. Nor does it stop them from wanting to go to pubs at night. This duality is a fantastic creation of the State of Israel. Indeed, Israel is special for the fantastic men it has created. Which is why I feel so bad whenever I see it despised and destroyed by Israelis themselves.
Brecht's dictum is indeed stupid. Of the same kind of (galactic) stupidity that motivates a blogger to post this Kipling's quote:
"If any question why we died,
Tell them, because our fathers lied"
on the very day that America mourns and honours its fallen soldiers.
They both mean that every cause or principle which may need fighting for is a manufactured lie and therefore not worth fighting for: not when your own life and country are threatened, not when your brother's life is threatened and certainly not when the life of some far away strange human being is threatened.
It is the opposite sentiment and principle of the universal brotherhood which John Donne immortalized in his famous homily
of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less, as well as if promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy
friend's or of thine own were. Any man's death diminishes me, because I am
involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
it tolls for thee";
"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece
And which Hemingway brought to fictional llife in his novel and George Orwel actually practiced in his life, as he recounts in his book: Homage to Catalonia, ending on this note:
"..Earthquakes in Japan, famines in China, revolutions in Mexico? Don't worry, the milk will be on the doorstep tomorrow morning, the New Statesman will come out on Friday. . . the green bosoms of the elms, the larkspurs in the cottage gardens; and then the huge peaceful wilderness of outer London, the barges on the miry river, the familiar streets, the posters telling of cricket matches and Royal weddings, the men in bowler hats, the pigeons in Trafalgar Square, the red buses, the blue policemen--all sleeping the deep, deep sleep of England, from which I sometimes fear that we shall never wake till we are jerked out of it by the roar of bombs.
Monday, May 28, 2007
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Undocumented? Illegals? What, what are these people?
The Daily Dish brings something about the language limitations that confound the good people who discuss the issue of illegal immigration and its many discontents in America today:
"Undocumented may be the most decent word that's available to us, but something was lost in that translation, too. It isn't just that undocumented adds a bureaucratic note, but that it focuses on the government's records rather than the immigrants themselves. Visitors who overstay their visas may not be undocumented in the strict sense of the term, which is why the INS ultimately decided to stay with "illegal." But those people are still without papers in the more suggestive European sense, people who have to live without any official status in the shadow of a modern state.
Aliens, illegals, even undocumented -- over the past hundred years, it has been in the nature of the language of immigration to suppress the human side of the story. Yet language can't wholly obscure those realities. As the Swiss writer Max Frisch wrote in 1965 about the European experience with immigration, "We called for a labor force, but it was human beings that came."
This is not trivial pursuit. I firmly believe that we need to use as accurate a language as possible if we wish to minimize the negative fallout which inevitably will follow when we try to describe such very fluid situations.
We know what we feel but we don't always manage to translate that directly into words. I think it is impossible to calibrate our words to the notions that form in our minds so as to avoid completely any misunderstanding. The poets are the most adept at keeping close to the nexus of thought and feelings which is why we are often made breathless when reading a particular poem that is so compatible with something we feel or think. But most of us aren't poets and many of us are too lazy to bother with accuracy, which results in sloppy hyperbolic analogies or making the kind od galactically-stupid statements I like to post here every now and then.
Even the author of this article I'm citing has not bothered to be too accurate in his historical analogies.
"It's only your immigration status that can qualify you as being an illegal person, or that can earn you the honor of being "an illegal" all by itself. That use of illegal as a noun actually goes back a long ways. The British coined it in the 1930's to describe Jews who entered Palestine without official permission, and it has been used ever since as a way of reducing individuals to their infractions."
The Brits were not inhabiting Palestine, only managing it, in accordance with the mandate they had received from the League of Nations. They were not mandated to suppress immigration but rather to facilitate it through regulations and coordination with the Jewish Leadership. And most importantly, most of those "illegals" were fleeing a Europe that had become too menacing for their survival. So, the Brits coined an illegal term to designate Jewish immigrants into Palestine and Nunberg cites their example as spawning a precedent. I wonder what role indeed did that term play in the choice of the American government to name those millions-strong individuals who came looking for work without their host state's permission "illegal aliens".
Still, it is a neat little theory, isn't it, to have managed to sneak in the equivalence between thousands of persecuted Jews escaping the horrors of Europe and millions of Mexicans looking for a better work market? As well as, of course, the implied similarities between Imperialist Britain and the USA?
Time ro revisit George Orwell's "Politics and the English Language"...
A-propo my previous post about freedom, here is a satirical poem, 'This Is Not a Western Conspiracy' by Saudi Reformist Wajeha Al-Huwaidar:
"When all the years of your life are stolen from you… and your vitality, your mind, and your soul are wrested away, all in the name of religion, customs, traditions… and an outmoded heritage - and you know that this has usurped your right to life - don't weep and don't cry, and don't imagine that this is a Western conspiracy against you; these are actions and behaviors that are a product of your own country. "
The poem describes the highly restrictive life imposed on women and minorities in the totalitarian corrupt "Monarchy" of Saudi Arabia. I try to imagine what it must feel like, to have to be covered in black garments in the heat of the desert, to be unable to move freely, run, walk unhindered by the heavy blanket you are forced to wear, see properly where you are going when your vision is restricted to a small peephole, as you try to carry out such a simple chore as grocery shopping or picking your child from school. To be told you cannot go to university not because you do not qualify but because of who you are, what your faith is. I must admit, I cannot. I can only admire those minds who, despite being stripped of their human identity, managed to get away and soar.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Sighted on the Internet, this galactically-stupid statement from a blissfully befuddled mind:
"We all are free, that is a given. Even people in the most totalitarian environments, be it a family or a nation are free."
Like these girls or this kind of life.
This is one good work done by Amnesty International, otherwise an organization increasingly prone to self-caricaturization or incoherence.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
A nice deconstruction of Jimmy Carter's pompous stupidity by Christopher Hitchens. Here are some choice passages:
Here is a man who, in his latest book on the Israel-Palestine crisis, has found the elusive key to the problem. The mistake of Israel, he tells us (and tells us that he told the Israeli leadership) is to have moved away from God and the prophets and toward secularism. If you ever feel like a good laugh, just tell yourself that things would improve if only the Israeli government would be more Orthodox. Jimmy Carter will then turn his vacantly pious glare on you, as if to say that you just don't understand what it is to have a personal savior.
It was not just because of the president's dire lectures on morality and salvation and his weird encounters with lethal rabbits and UFOs. It was not just because of the risible White House "Bible study" sessions run by Bert Lance and his other open-palmed Elmer Gantry pals from Georgia. It was because, whether in Afghanistan, Iran, or Iraq—still the source of so many of our woes—the Carter administration could not tell a friend from an enemy. His combination of naivete and cynicism—from open-mouthed shock at Leonid Brezhnev's occupation of Afghanistan to underhanded support for Saddam in his unsleeping campaign of megalomania—had terrible consequences that are with us still. It's hardly an exaggeration to say that every administration since has had to deal with the chaotic legacy of Carter's mind-boggling cowardice and incompetence.
He also went on the British Broadcasting Corporation to make spiteful and cheap remarks on the retirement of Prime Minister Tony Blair, calling him "loyal, blind, apparently subservient." Yes, that's right, Mr. Carter. Just the way to make friends and assert "America's basic values." Show us your peanut envy. Heap insults on a guest in Washington: a thrice-elected prime minister who was the first and strongest ally of the United States on the most awful day in its recent history. A man who was prepared to risk his own career to be counted as a friend. A man who was warning against the Taliban, against Slobodan Milosevic, and against Saddam Hussein when George Bush was only the governor of Texas. Leaders like that deserve a little respect even when they are wrong—but don't expect any generosity or courtesy from the purse-mouthed preacher man from Plains, who just purely knows he was right all along, and who, when that fails, can always point to the numberless godly victories that he won over the forces of evil.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
"MARTHA GELLHORN, novelist, journalist, and former war
correspondent, has recently returned from a journey to the Middle East, where
she went to see the "Palestinian Refugee Problem" in terms of real life, real
people. Here she reports how the Arab refugees and the Arab Israelis live, and
what they say about themselves, their past and their future."
Amazingly enough, this article was written in 1961!
"The unique misfortune of the Palestinian refugees is
that they are a weapon in what seems to be a permanent war….[T]oday, in the
Middle East, you get a repeated sinking sensation about the Palestinian
refugees: they are only a beginning, not an end. Their function is to hang
around and be constantly useful as a goad."
"It is hard to sorrow for [the Palestinian refugees]
who only sorrow over themselves. It is difficult to pity the pitiless. To wring
the heart past all doubt…[they] cannot have wished for a victorious rewarding
war, blame everyone else for their defeat, and remain guiltless….
Arabs gorge on hate, they roll in it, they breathe it. Jews top the hate list, but any
foreigners are hateful enough. Arabs also hate each other, separately and, en
masse. Their politicians change the direction of their hate as they would change
their shirts. Their press is vulgarly base with hate-filled cartoons; their
reporting describes whatever hate is now uppermost and convenient. Their radio
is a long scream of hate, a call to hate. They teach their children hate in
school. They must love the taste of hate; it is their daily bread. And what good
has it done them?"
The validity and clairvoyance of this harsh criticism have only magnified exponentially in the intervening decades. Martha Nussbaum, who has written extensively and honestly about compassion and pity, once wrote that pity is not totally unconditional, that it is very hard to pity someone whose suffering was brought upon themselves not through some lapse of momentary judgment but through malevolent intent. Our pity towards others is triggered by the knowledge that their misery was caused by the bad luck of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, that it was not mediated through their own agency or choices.
More than ever, I think, Palestinians are in limbo. They are waiting for some miracle to happen, like the disappearance of Israel. Their leaders are playing cruel mind games with their people's future and concept of normalization and encourage them to believe that a cult of death, self-mutilation and destruction will bring them closer to their past paradise, a past that never was.
I often wonder if anything can ever save the Palestinians from disappearing into the pit of their bottomless self-pity. Where are their bright and energetic young men and women? Why aren't they telling their leaders and their false Arab friends: enough!? Why aren't mothers reclaiming their life, their right to decide for a future of life for their children?
Thursday, May 17, 2007
While Hitchens suggests that the West pay more attention to what jihadists are preaching in its own backyard, voices from the Islamic world are raising the alarm against Islamophobia, calling it "The Worst Form of Terrorism" (Via: Mick Hartley).
Here is what Hitch is saying:
"Yet Britain's former head of domestic intelligence, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller (and you can't get much more British than that, either), said last year that there are more than "1,600 identified individuals" within the borders of the kingdom who are ready to follow Tanweer's example (including those in whose honor we now all have to part with our liquids and gels at the airport). And, according to Manningham-Buller, "over 100,000 of our citizens consider the July 2005 attacks in London justified."
And here is what Foreign ministers of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) express, speaking of the same events:
"Islamophobia became a source of concern, especially after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, but the phenomenon was already there in Western societies in one form or the other,” they pointed out. “It gained further momentum after the Madrid and London bombings. The killing of Dutch film director Theo van Gogh in 2004 was used in a wicked manner by certain quarters to stir up a frenzy against Muslims,” the ministers pointed out. Van Gogh had made a controversial film about Muslim culture."
Mick has got it right:
"It gained further momentum after the Madrid and London bombings. Now why on earth should that be? And as for the killing of Theo van Gogh, well, as the foreign ministers helpfully point out, he'd made a controversial film about Muslim culture. What did he expect? Of course he got nearly decapitated and had a knife stuck in his chest with a note warning others - notably Ayaan Hirsi Ali - that this was the fate they could expect if they criticised Islam."
I suppose it is clear that the OIC equates criticism of Islam with Islamophobia (no examples of actual persecution of Muslims are provided. The main concern appears to be the reputation of Islam).
If Islamophobia is criticism of Islam,
and if Islamophobia is "The Worst Form of Terrorism",
then criticism of Islam is "The Worst Form of Terrorism".
One of the major criticisms levelled at Islamism is its militant antisemitism. The OIC does not seem to distinguish between Islamism and Islam, so neither will I. Which ultimately means that pointing out the antisemitism being preached by (some) Muslim preachers in (some) Western Mosques and the general quietism with which this is recieved in the wider community, is worse than this (graphic gore, be warned!).
Read here and here about how Islamists think and what they aspire to do.
"Finally Husain ends up with David, a Muslim convert and a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir. “The world today,” David tells him, “suffers from the malignant cancers of freedom and democracy.” No Nazi ideologue could have put it more succinctly. "
Monday, May 14, 2007
This is an excerpt from Chrstopher Hitchens' Vanity Fair June article:
For the British mainstream, multiculturalism has been the official civic religion for so long that any criticism of any minority group has become the equivalent of profanity. And Islamic extremists have long understood that they need only suggest a racial bias—or a hint of the newly invented and meaningless term “Islamophobia”—in order to make the British cough and shuffle with embarrassment...
Anyway, you can’t be ulticultural and preach murderous loathing of Jews, Britain’s oldest and most successful (and most consistently anti-racist) minority. And you can’t be multicultural and preach equally homicidal hatred of India, Britain’s most
important ally and friend after the United States. My colleague Henry Porter sat
me down in his West London home and made me watch a documentary that he thought had received far too little attention when shown on Britain’s Channel 4. It is
entitled Undercover Mosque, and it shows film shot in quite mainstream Islamic
centers in Birmingham and London (you can now find it easily on the Internet).
And there it all is: foaming, bearded preachers calling for crucifixion of
unbelievers, for homosexuals to be thrown off mountaintops, for disobedient and
“deficient” women to be beaten into submission, and for Jewish and Indian
property and life to be destroyed. “You have to bomb the Indian businesses, and
as for the Jews, you kill them physically,” as one sermonizer, calling himself
Sheikh al-Faisal, so prettily puts it. This stuff is being inculcated in small
children—who are also informed that the age of consent should be nine years old,
in honor of the prophet Muhammad’s youngest spouse. Again, these were not
tin-roof storefront mosques but well-appointed and well-attended places of
worship, often the beneficiaries of Saudi Arabian largesse. It’s not just the
mosques, either. In West London there is a school named for Prince Charles’s
friend King Fahd, with 650 pupils, funded and run by the government of Saudi
Arabia. According to Colin Cook, a British convert to Islam (initially inspired
by the former crooner Cat Stevens) who taught there for 19 years, teaching
materials said that Jews “engage in witchcraft and sorcery and obey Satan,” and
incited pupils to list the defects of worthless heresies such as Judaism and
Marriage Counselling, Saudi-style: The husband's rights are very great. Therefore, according to a reliable Hadith, a woman said: "Oh Prophet of Allah, I will not marry before you tell me what my husband's rights from me are." The Prophet said: "Do you really want to know?" She said: "Yes." He said: "If pus or blood comes out of your husband's nose and you lick is up, you still will not have observed all his rights. " The rights of the husband are great, and you must observe them. " Sometimes its hard to be a woman Giving all your love to just one man You'll have bad times And he'll have good times Doing things that you don't understand Stand by your man And tell the world you love him Keep giving all the love you can Maybe M.E.M.R.I. too is only interested in the "sexual objectification of [Muslim] women.."
The husband's rights are very great. Therefore, according to a reliable Hadith, a woman said: "Oh Prophet of Allah, I will not marry before you tell me what my husband's rights from me are." The Prophet said: "Do you really want to know?" She said: "Yes." He said: "If pus or blood comes out of your husband's nose and you lick is up, you still will not have observed all his rights.
" The rights of the husband are great, and you must observe them. "
Sometimes its hard to be a woman
Giving all your love to just one man
You'll have bad times
And he'll have good times
Doing things that you don't understand
Stand by your man
And tell the world you love him
Keep giving all the love you can
Maybe M.E.M.R.I. too is only interested in the "sexual objectification of [Muslim] women.."
Saturday, May 12, 2007
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
This "duel" between two French intellectuals from Le Nouvel Observateur about which candidate is best positioned to serve France's interests:
Andre Glucksmann and Bernard-Henri Levy conduct a passionate discussion in the Nouvel Obs about their engagement in the French election campaign. Although it took place two weeks before the second round of elections, it opens up a number of perspectives for the future. Levy, who backed Segolene Royal, speaks openly with the interviewer about how irritated he was by Glucksmann's support for Sarkozy. "What surprises me, was that he was so quick to rally to Sarkozy's side and with such fire – a passion that for thirty years, we have reserved for Bosnian resistance fighters, Chechen martyrs and Soviet dissidents, to whom we were grateful for vital lessons in the taste and meaning of freedom." BHL accuses Sarkozy, who during the election campaign called for a ministry for immigration and national identity, of a populism reminiscent of Le Pen. Glucksmann replies: "As for this splendid 'ministry', you know as well as I do that Sarkozy's concept of national identity is not ethnic but republican and touches on successive waves of immigration in which his own family also took part. Sarkozy has freed us from the burden imposed by the Front National on democratic life in France."
Here is a translation of their respective replies to the opening question:
For thirty years they have not disagreed. The two prominent figures of the “New Philosophy” have shared many a-project. Now the Sarkozy/Royal presidential campaign pulled them to opposite sides. They agreed to cross their proverbial swords for “Le Nouvel Observateur” in a spirited and enlightening debate:
The Nouvel Observavteur –
To begin, can each of you provide three reasons why you voted for Ségolène Royal or Nicolas Sarkozy?
As you know, I repeatedly explained in your pages that initially Ségolène Royal was not my ideal candidate since I was a supporter of Strauss-Kahn. But right now, and since you ask us for three reasons, here are mine. First, because the candidate is a woman. Her election would have been a real leap forward for our sexist and misogynist country which has yet to totally discard the feudal mindset and which has some real problems with equity and equality. Secondly, because of her style, flexibility, her embrace of participatory democracy, even her Girondist  leanings, all of which seem to me to place her in a better position to effect the much-needed reforms in France today. And finally, her stated positions on a number of pressing subjects in the international arena: On Iran, for example, she expressed determined resolve; on Darfur, and like Bayrou, she took up a courageous stance on the possible boycott of the Olympic Games of Beijing…
Nicolas Sarkozy is capable of drawing up and carrying out a radical and courageous accountability report, in which he puts the blame on adversaries and partisans alike. France’s malaise did not start five year ago, it goes back thirty years. Three decades marked by an absence of clear-cut and thoughtful reforms plunged our country into stagnation unlike any of our neighbours. Sluggish growth levels, record unemployment rates, accumulated frustrations: France could not, did not know how, to get aboard the forward-moving European train. Sarkozy’s platform puts forth three ambitions: First, he dares to puncture the Franco-French socio-economic model that leaves so many of our compatriots on the sidelines. He wants to set free our crippled labour market. Secondly, with the victory of “No” vote in the 2005 referendum, France caused Europe to stop in its tracks. The notion of European reconstruction means we dare to say that a new referendum will likely injure the European Union further. In order to re-ignite European vigour, Sarkozy promises to adopt the minimal necessary constitutional amendment in parliament. Lastly, my third reason: For a long time now Nicolas Sarkozy, criticized the French realpolitik vis-à-vis international relations. He was the first to keep the subject of human rights firmly within the French debate over Chechnya or Françafrique. He held on to his positions even at the risk of a total split with Jacques Chirac, Dominique de Villepin, Hubert Védrine or Jean-Pierre Chevènement. These three purposes converge into a coherent movement to revitalize the political will, and that presupposes the inevitable divisions that are essential in a vibrant democracy.
 The Girondists represented the principle of democratic revolution within and of patriotic defiance to the European powers without. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Girondins
(Translated by contentious N)
The general criticism levelled at Royal was that she lacked an articulate programme for the rehabilitation of France, that she speaks from a place of emotion and conviction but with very little substance and factuality. BHL's response above seems to re-affirm that perception: while Glucksmann speaks of Sarkozy's positions by citing concrete examples and coherent, fact-based planning, BHL can only conjure up Royal's gender, "style, flexibility, her embrace of participatory democracy". In my humble opinion, France chose well.
However, it is early days yet and some sceptics are already voicing their concerns that he may not be able to "ditch the accordion" ...
Sunday, May 06, 2007
"It's President Sarko." Sarkozy - 54.5%. Royal - 45.5%
"Sites Calling It for Sarkozy Big Time. 30 Cars Burned. Riot Police on Alert. French Voter Turnout Gigantic."
More from the Winograd Report:
"The Israelis tend to launch their wars of choice in the summer, in part because they know that European and American universities will be the primary nodes of popular opposition, and the universities are out in the summer. This war has nothing to do with captured Israeli soldiers." --Juan Cole at his blog, Informed Comment, July 23, 2006.
This comment by the venerable Juan was laughingly dismissed at the time by the knee-jerk pro-Israeli advocates. But guess what? Juan Cole may have been on to something here. Actually, it appears that he had a personal mole ferreting in Israeli General Staff meeting in the lead-up to the war. This excerpt from the Wingrad Report deals with this aspect of the unprovoked war-mongering consideration to destroy Hizzbala, the excellent humanitarian Lebanese organization which resists peacefully Israel's aggression and occupation of Lebanon:
Chief of Staff: Good morning. At the top of the agenda, I want us to take up a crucial issue, related to the timing of our planned operation in Lebanon. We've already considered several key factors: the preparedness of our troops, the situation on the ground in Lebanon, coordination with the Americans. But there's a paramount matter that I want to revisit before we present the plan to the Cabinet. It's the academic calendar in foreign universities.
Neutralizing anti-Israel professors has always been a key ingredient of our strategy. We all know how vastly influential they are: just think of Juan Cole, Rashid Khalidi, Norman Finkelstein. So part of our strategic doctrine in past years has been to launch operations in summer, when academics are non-operational. Even the French work harder in summer. That's partly why two of my predecessors chose June to launch the Six-Day War and the 1982 Lebanon war.
But it's an issue I feel we should revisit. We take a slice of our strategic doctrine from the Americans. Our own intelligence was surprised three years ago, when the Pentagon informed us that Operation Iraqi Freedom would be launched in March, smack in the middle of the academic year. All our early estimates assumed that the Americans would hold off until after the last graduation ceremonies in June.
For our discussion today, I've invited Gentleman C, head of Middle East 101, the Mossad unit that tracks American and European academics. I think we'd all benefit greatly from his insights in planning the timing of our operation.
Gentleman C, why don't you give us a quick summation of your analysis?
(Read the rest of this astounding record at: Martin Kramer's Sandbox, Via: Normblog)
Thursday, May 03, 2007
It appears that both the blogosphere and traditional journalism are all abuzz with their interpretations of the Winograd report. I thought this was a good evaluation of its import, even though I don't at all share Freedland's hopeful expectations of good things coming out of the current Israeli government. This is not a window of opportunity. No leadership this discredited and injured can hope to make a meaningful movement in the conflict with the Palestinians, or the Arab world. It does not have the trust of the people.
"This round of self-flagellation was not prompted by concern that the 2006 pounding of Lebanon was "disproportionate", to recall the word of that hour. Israelis still believe they had every right to take on Hizbullah, who had abducted two Israeli soldiers from Israeli soil and had thousands of rockets aimed at Israeli civilian towns. The criticism is not that Olmert fought the war but that he fought it badly. That he didn't achieve his stated aims of freeing the soldiers and de-fanging Hizbullah; that he sent troops in harm's way with no coherent plan and insufficient protection; and that a non-victory against a mere guerrilla movement has shattered the IDF aura of invincibility essential to deter Israel's enemies. It's for that series of failures that he has been slammed."
This point, in particular, should be fully clarified. This is not a report that criticizes Israel's actions in response to Hizzbala's provocative acts of war. Quite the contrary: the report pillories the leadership for not pursuing the war with the single-minded determination, tenacity and resourcefulness that Israelis have come to expect from their military. Anyone seeking to make anti-Israel political fortune out of it, in the form of the Indecent Left's mantra over "disproportuinate response", had better read very carefully what the report says.
Clearly, Olmert and Peretz have to go. Peretz should not be allowed to spend even one more day as Defence Minister. He would be a joke if his responsibilities did not extend to safeguarding Israeli life. Olmert should come to terms with his own mediocrity and vacillation, two traits that Israel simply cannot afford to have in its leaders.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Limoncello is an Italian after-dinner alcoholic drink. I like things Italians, from Sambucca to tiramisu to sliced Bocconcini Cheese served with sliced fresh tomatoes and oregano.
Here is a recipe for making Limoncello at home. It seems easy enough, requires a little extra care with the details but surely worth the trouble.
Next weekend the Farmer's Market opens after its winter hiatus at the Marché de l'Ouest, an old fashioned part open air, part indoor market with an Italian flavour, though not exclusively so. The best pizza can be found there, at PizzaRoma, and across Le Premiere Moisson specializes in breads of any type (they even offer "pain-fesses", a double bread-loaf shaped like human buttocks) as well as salads and sandwiches. Recently I've been favouring céléri rémoulade which is very well made, fresh tasting.
So I may be able to get some nice large plump and juicy lemons to start my Limoncello making. Vodka can also be gotten there. There is a SAQ store. I'll report in 5 to 6 weeks about success or failure.
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Iranian Holocaust-Denial Documentary Series On Iranian TV: 'Merchants of the Myth'
Georges Thiel: "It's simple. The Nuremberg international military tribunal is an ignominy, something that cannot be called true. In fact, the Nuremberg trials were not real trials, because they were staged. Everybody was from the Western Allied forces, except for the Russians. Russia was managing things in Moscow. People who opposed Moscow and stood in its way were put to death by Russia. If you ask me whether this was an international tribunal, I would have to say that it wasn't. Nuremberg was not an international tribunal, because it was established by the Allied forces. It was a tribunal formed by the victors to place the vanquished on trial. In my opinion, we have examples of this in present times, but I will not mention names."
To Obtain Reparations, "The Number of Those Who Had Suffered in the Holocaust Suddenly Began to Multiply By the Hundreds"
Voiceover: "Many survivors unaffected by the events in the labor camps passed themselves off as prisoners, in order to benefit from the high reparations. This is why the number of those who had suffered in the Holocaust suddenly began to multiply by the hundreds."
Presenter: "By 2000, Germany had paid out some $60 million in reparations to the Zionist regime and to the Jews. These reparations were so important to the Zionist regime that Ben Gurion, the first prime minister of the Zionist regime, expressed his delight in a letter to Nahum Goldman, president of the World Zionist Organization: 'You and I have had the pleasure of experiencing two miracles: The creation of the state of Israel and the signing of the agreement with Germany. I was responsible for the first, and you were responsible for the second.'"
Georges Thiel: "It is people like Faurisson who can demolish this lie. He is a very benevolent and loving human being. He can be compared to Louis Pasteur, who served humanity by inventing medicines. Faurisson, too, by exposing historical truths, has performed a very great service to humanity."
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