Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mumbai: a strictly Islamist analysis of a terrorist attack

H/T: your friend in the north:

The piece below is a snippet from an article on the website of the Muslim Brotherhood concerning the slaughter of scores of innocent civilians by Islamist death squads in Mumbai. It provides an intriguing analysis of the massacre:

"Our worst fears have come true. It is clear that Mossad is involved in the
whole affair. An entire city has been attacked by Mossad and probably units of
mercenaries. It is not possible for one single organization to plan and execute
such a sophisticated operation. It is clear that this operation was backed by
communal forces from within the Indian State. The Home Minister Shivraj Patil
should resign. The RSS-BJP-VHP-Bajrang Dal should be banned. Advani and others ought to be arrested. Today is a day of shame for all Indians and all Hindus.
Muslims and secular Hindus have been proven right. RSS type forces and Israel
are all involved in not only destabilizing but finishing India. India should
immediately snap all relations with Israel."

Or, in other words, Muslims are just too dumb and incompetent to carry out such a well-orchestrated, successful attack...

Friday, November 28, 2008

On Islamic antisemitism

Jewcy posts:

"There are incontrovertible and overwhelming hard data-pathological and epidemiological-which demonstrate a major causative role for smoking in both the predominant form of lung cancer (i.e., adenocarcinoma), and premature coronary heart disease. Smoking is to these diseases as the Islam in Islamic Antisemitism is to this scourge of Jew-hatred, past and present. It is as destructive to our social and moral health to deny this reality, as it is to human public health disease prevention efforts to deny the causative link between cigarette smoking and adenocarcinoma of the lung, or premature coronary heart disease. "

Important to understand what we are faced with, if we are to attempt to solve a problem, don't you think? Clarity and sobriety are not as attractive as sentimentality and kumbaya. While the latter are soothing and misleading, dulling one's sense of impending danger, the former force you to think in hard, angular terms.


* The New Centrist offers a panoramic report, here.

* "A mystery is only a high sounding term for a muddle. No advantage in stirring it up, in either case. Aziz and I know well that India is a muddle.", this is a quote from E.M. Forster's novel, A Passage to India. It is also as good a description as can be found of the already three day on-going terrorist attacks on Mumbai. Watching CNN, with its close scrutiny does not bring any relief or more clarity or definition to this bloody event. What is certain, though, is that this particular terrorist onslaught will not be easily erased from memory. It will form one more episode of gore and mayhem in the story that broke out on 9/11/2001 in New York, soon to be followed by Madrid and London.

* Nayan Chanda, of the New Republic, says:

The other sinister message of the terrorists this time is that they have an international agenda. Despite their talk of Indian Muslims being oppressed and Kashmiris being killed, their focus on Americans and British citizens and Jewish nationals shows their global concern. The U.S. has emerged as a key ally of India, but Britain is not any closer than other European countries like France and Germany. The search for American and British citizens most probably has to do with the Iraq war, echoing the terrorist attacks in Britain on charges of British involvement in the suffering of Muslims.

he terrorists’ global objective was clearly demonstrated in their targeting of a little-known Jewish outreach center in Mumbai. Before the terrorists burst into the Chabad Center located in an office and residential complex to take the rabbi, his wife, and assembled Jewish visitors hostage, most in Mumbai had no idea about their existence. Only six years earlier, a young Brooklyn rabbi and his wife set up the Chabad Center to quietly offer Jewish visitors kosher meals, Torah classes, and a place to stay. That anonymity was no protection from a group that wants to hurt the Jews as part of a global struggle. The attack on the Jewish community is particularly poignant, as over a thousand years ago, India offered the earliest shelter to persecuted Jews; the wall of an old synagogue in Kerala shows a mosaic image of their early arrival by boat.

A commenter remarks:

"Someone must have made up a list of targets, someone who took the trouble to find out about life and practices of the few Jews living in Mumbai. This is the kind of obsession with Jews that the Muslim brotherhood or Iran has shown.

A Muslim brotherhood web site, btw, has accused Zionists and Hindus of carrying out the attack.
This is worthy of Goebbels."

* Contrary to rumours that Israeli commando units have been dispatched, Andy David, deputy spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, in a phone interview, "denied reports that Israel has sent a military commando team to India to assist in the security operations there, and said only Israeli medical personnel trained to handle emergency situations have been sent to Mumbai."


Update 1:

Later in the day: From Terry Glavin's blog:

Ali's Counterpunch analysis is actually not an analysis, but a transparent exercise in evasion. It's all somebody else's fault. It's about the beastly behaviour of the Indian government in Kashmir, the "anger within the poorest sections of the Muslim community against the systematic discrimination and acts of violence carried out against them," and so on. As if this could somehow explain why the "Deccan Mujahadeen" chose to target the Jews at Mumbai's Chabad house, where we now learn that the young rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka are among the dead.

Something is strangely missing, in other words, from Ali's account. Perhaps if Counterpunch had given him more space, or if he'd had more time in his busy schedule, Ali might have explained how the disaffection of some minority within India's vast Muslim population should result in a bloothirsty attack on Mumbai's small and cheerful community of Lubavitchers. Why? Was it their sinister candle-lightings, their poverty-eradication program, their kosher meals for young Israeli backpackers?

Tariq Ali is in the habit of addressing Jewish critics of his strange progressivism as "you people", characteristic haughty impatience. His mitigation for Palestinian terrorism is of a piece with the recent apologia Glavin pointed to. Except that he is usually not so restrained when he speaks of Israel's occupation, etc etc. The omission of any mention to the massacred rabbi and his wife is well in line with Ali's general sneering indifference to Jewish suffering. It is also a spike, a singularity, in his tale of Muslim woes in India. It does not fit the "narrative" he is trying to press upon his readers.

Update 2: Saturday:

In a comment referringto Oliver Kamm's blogpost, the commenter Norman bar notes:

Most noticeable about BBC coverage and discussion that I have heard are [1] the casual and tangential reference to the targeting and murder of Jews in the barbaric attacks in India, and [2] no discussion whatever about the significance of this targeting and murder.

Widespread antisemitism in many parts of the Moslem world, and its dissemination in Moslem media, come as no surprise. But you'd never know it if your source was the BBC. 1,400,million Moslems, 13 million Jews. That explains a good deal to me I'm afraid.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

"People we assume innocent"

Dear Noga,

I’m sorry for the long delay. I missed you all.

Life is as busy as usual…but what keeps me from writing is the fact that i have promised my father to be careful and avoid politics as much as I can …

And yet …When people we assume innocent are dying …writing about other things doesn’t feel fair …

I was avoiding the English blog altogether for a while … I’ll be back soon. Thanks a million times for asking. It feels great to know someone out there reads this blog!

'This blog" belongs to Selma, a poet and translator, from Tehran.

Who are the innocent people?

I don't know what Selma is talking about. But I read this at Terry Glavin's place.

Truth be told, I'm almost afraid myself to write this post. A fanatical regime with an ever narrowing base of support, becomes even more crazy and brutal.


This is the story

"[D]emoralizing it would be to allow women to drive."

Reading this post from a Saudi female blogger, I felt as though I was looking through a peephole into a world galaxies away from my own.

Judge for yourself:

Upon return from a training trip to Cairo, I found myself accompanied by a young Saudi (23) in the waiting lounge. Our conversation started when he asked me if departure times were set according to Saudi or Egyptian time.

The boy was from Jeddah, pursuing his Bachelor in Alexandria. Jeddah folks are known to be frequent travelers to Egypt, while people from Riyadh tend to either LOVE Egypt or HATE it. Our conversation fell into that category: how do you like the country, where to go and how to have fun.

He told me that Egypt is the type of place you want to visit with friends, but not family. When I asked him to elaborate, he mentioned that though he didn’t drink alcohol, he enjoyed going to bars and observing people. It is hard to do that with family. Family travel is restrictive and by travelling with friends to countries like Egypt one had the choice to go where he pleases.

As the conversation lost stamina, the boy surprised me by stating, “You must be one of those who want women to drive?” The question caught me off guard, because until then I was an avid listener to him—and quite impressed by his brightness and high spirits. On the other hand, his question –stated in the form of an accusation- struck me as shallow.

“Why?” I asked him, but he didn’t answer. Instead, he said told me how demoralizing it would be to allow women to drive.

“Why?” I asked again.

“It will only lead our sisters and daughters to ruin,” he said.“Allowing women to drive is not the same as forcing them to drive, right?” I responded but he gave me no time.

“Don’t kid me, you will all want to drive and hit the streets as you please and there will be no way to control anything anymore.”

At this point I stopped taking the conversation seriously. I realized that I was talking to a boy who is recently learning to demand personal choice and has yet to learn that with personal choice comes the responsibility of accepting the choices of other people.

Unfortunately, however, if there’s a boy who is yet to learn—remains people who have grown and progressed on so many professional levels yet when it came to defining the world there was:- Their controlled utopia – the tamed virtuous queen which they visit on intervals.-

Their wild ride – the mistresses.

Update: Here is another wondrous ban, discussed on the Saudi blog "American Bedu":

"...Sadly though if you are a woman and visiting Jeddah and wish to see this resting place, you would be prohibited from entry as women are not allowed in the graveyards of Saudi Arabia. "

There is some learned discussion in the comments, disputing that there is such a ban. However, it appears to be inconclusive.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Punishment: none is too much

Germans seem to be very easily swayed in favour releasing terrorist convicts, even when they are not at all compelled to, by either a gun-to-the head or for humanitarian concerns.

Martin in the Margins comments on the most recent such a release, here:

It's ironic, to say the least, that far left sects such as Baader-Meinhof justified their use of revolutionary violence on the basis of the supposed fascist tendencies of capitalist postwar Europe, when (as Herf shows) their own ideology and actions exhibited many of the symptoms of fascist reaction, including a love of symbolic violence and an increasing tendency towards antisemitism, demonstrated in their alliance with Palestinian terror groups and their notorious treatment of Jewish passengers during the Entebbe hijacking. Herf suggests that the antisemitism of the German far left, and particularly its caricature of Israelis as 'new Nazis' in their treatment of the Palestinians (sound familiar?), can be seen as part of the complex and tortuous process of expunging collective national guilt about the Holocaust. [-]

One of the most poignant features of Herf's piece is his detailed listing of the innocent victims of Baader-Meinhof violence, something he argues has been missing from many accounts of the events, with their tendency to glamorise the perpetrators. This quotation from Gabriele von Lutzau, a stewardess on the hijacked Lufthansa flight to Mogadishu, when asked if she wished to meet one of her former captors in order to discuss her motives, can stand as a riposte to all those who urge us to try to 'understand' terrorism:

I'm not interested in the background, in her history or in understanding her. This woman acted without a single moment of humanity. Her attitude was 'we are better than you. We're going the righteous way against Western imperialism'. Her distorted view of reality is not one I ever want to face again.'

Having surfed the Internet for reactions to this move, what I found most disturbing is the ease with which people seem to shrug off this reprieve. What's the point, they ask, of keeping a person in jail? Citing two explanation for their leniency they say: It won't bring back the dead; and the idea that a man should be kept in jail because it helps the victims' families to know he is punished does not really seem a very compelling argument. How can it help their loss to know that the perpetrator is rotting in jail?

Of course I have no ready answer for such very humane approach to the question of murder and punishment. Except maybe to cite the Niemoller poem, First they came, about the passivity of people who do not stand to lose anything when other people are persecuted and murdered for no other reason than they are different.

It does, however, become a very urgent issue when the menace of terrorism comes too close to home, as in the case of Rouba Elmerhebi Fahd, mother of the United Talmud Torah fire bomber, who had received a sentence of only twelve months probation after having been found guilty in September of being an accessory after the fact in the firebombing. The trial judge qualified the attack on the Jewish school as a terrorist act.

Writes Beryl Wajsman, the editor in chief of the Montreal weekly, The Suburban:

I am by no means a believer in punitive punishment. Much evidence exists that incarceration does little toward rehabilitation. Tough sentences may not even be much in the way of deterrent. But the severity of sentences on terrorist acts do go very much to the character and courage of a society in how it confronts terror.

For Mrs. Fahd to not even receive a sentence of community service, and received what amounts to a suspended sentence for complicity in a terrorist act, is an abomination. Just last week we wrote that the sentence meted out to convicted race crime perpetrator Azim Ibragimov was a joke. Ibragimov committed three criminal acts motivated by hatred of Jews, including a firebombing of another Jewish school. The sentence given to Rouba Elmerhebi Fahd makes Ibragimov’s term look serious. The judge stated that he could understand the actions of a mother seeking to get her son out of the country and “protect” him. Hers were not the actions of a mother. They were the actions of a co-conspirator.

The editorial below quotes Gemma Raeburn’s poignant question, “If we can’t even recognize racism, how can we ever cure it?” Gemma asked the question of police authority. The same question may be asked of judicial authority after the Ibragimov and Elmerhebi Fahd sentences. After all the talk of Quebec “values” this past year, reasonable people may ask whether those “values” apply to protecting citizens from anti-Semitic terror. Or is Quebec too politically cowardly and too ready to pander to the most retrograde elements in our society?

The answer is by no means clear. What is clear is that there is a malaise in Quebec. From the judiciary to the streets. Ironically, today’s sentence came down on the same day that the provincial police arrested four people in the investigation of several anti-Semitic attacks in the Laurentians this past summer. If they are charged and convicted, it will be instructive to see what their sentences will be. Is Quebec ready to stand for something, or will it fall for anything? Will it draw a line in the sand on what two judges have called “terror”? The answers to these questions are also by no means clear. We should all be saddened by that.

In the land of "none is too many" and l'Abbe Lionel Groulx, where it's a Canadian virtue to jump on the wagon, no matter what message-in-vogue is emblazoned on its side, why would we be surprised, or even mildly exercised, about such perversions of justice?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Jews for Jesus

Israeli company gets a key to the kingdom:

Israeli technology will be securing Vatican City, Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported on Thursday.

Herzliya-based intelligent video appliances company ioimage has been selected to secure sensitive areas of the Pope's state.

The contract includes the placement of smart cameras along a 60-kilometer (37.3 mile) perimeter of sensitive areas, including entry and exit gates and the wall surrounding the Vatican.

Sources in the security market estimate the deal to be valued at some $4-$5 million.

Of course. Who else could be entrusted with Jesus's reputation and treasures?

Isn't there something so ironic about this information that it almost defeats verbalization?

What do the Iranian regime and media inform their people about Pres. Obama?

Via: The corner

In an 11 November commentary, Borna News Agency, which is close to Ahmadinezhad, called Obama a "house slave," adding that those who "trust such a politician lack maturity, if they are not committing treason" ....


In an editorial entitled "A Dark Person Rises to Remove Darkness From America," Sobh-e Sadegh.. published by Supreme Leader Ali Khamene'i's representative ... wrote that "Obama's acceptance of unconditional negotiations with Iran" would signal a "new beginning" only if "coexistence with a nuclear Iran and acceptance of its regional role are part of the US negotiating position." It added that the "appointment of the extremist Jew Rahm Emanuel as the [White House] chief of staff is not a good sign" (10 November).


In an editorial entitled "The Great Satan Masked as Obama," the official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) said that the "United States is the embodiment of Satan. Hence, in this circus, for anyone but the slaves of Satan to take charge of the government is impossible." It added that Iranians "who are ecstatic about Obama are either ignorant or have a plot [against Iran]" (5 November).


Raja News, which closely reflects the views of Ahmadinejad and his supporters, wrote on 10 November that the Iranian President's letter "resembles the Prophet Muhammad's letters to the 7th century leaders of the Byzantine, Persian, and Abyssinian empires." Those letters warned leaders at that time to submit to Islam or suffer military attacks.


In another commentary on 13 November, Raja News compared Ahmadinejad's letter to one from Ayatollah Khomeyni to Mikhail Gorbachev, which it said set the stage for the "collapse" of the Soviet Union, suggesting that Ahmadinejad's letter is the harbinger of the "collapse of the US."


Raja News: ...Ahmadinejad's letter was written from an "offensive position" and warning that "if the elected president [Obama] does not listen to the letter's advice, he and his country will suffer the same fate [as the Soviet Union]." He added, "this letter is a final warning" (10 November).


In an editorial referring to Obama as a "black immigrant" and praising the "brave and intelligent Iranian nation" ... the hard-line Jomhuri-ye Eslami ... wrote that the "powers-that-be" have "already trained Obama to function within a predetermined framework" (6 November).


Update: Following Ahmadinejad's letter to P-E Obama, the editor of the Iranian reformist website

, Manouchehr Honarmand, responded by penning a mock-letter of response from Obama:

"Dear Mr. Ahmadinejad,

"I learnt of your letter to me when my chief of staff Emanuel Rahm informed me that we had to send three dollars to the post office to cover the postage [due]. Next time, please put enough stamps on the letters you send me. I had a hard time with my wife, Michelle, over this. She asked why we had to pay postage due on a letter from someone who calls us 'the Great Satan' and collaborates with the likes of Hugo Chavez. You know that in the States, it's the wives who have the last word. It's not like in your country, where one can shut them up by giving them a sharp whack over the head.

"Dear Mahmoud, I hate to tell you that your letter caused us quite a bother. The White House translators couldn't or wouldn't translate it, saying it was a job for the department of religious propaganda. Eventually we had to ask for the help of our friends the Israelis who know Persian better than us and even maintain trade relations with you guys on the quiet.

"In your letter, you congratulated me on 'taking' the majority of the votes in the election, which I found quite puzzling. You should know that, in the U.S., presidential candidates do not 'take' votes but receive them from the public. People here do not go to bed on the night [of the election] and then wake up in the morning to find out who has seized the presidency... I have been told that, in one of your elections, a candidate took an afternoon nap, only to discover that, [while he was sleeping,] he had been eliminated from the running and someone else had won the election. Is that a true story?

"Mahmoud, darling, in another part of your letter you asked my country to pursue a policy based on 'justice, respect for the rights of human beings and nations, friendship and non-intervention in the affairs of others.' Frankly, this surprised me, because if you are alluding to executions, you guys execute as many people as we do. However, in this country, a capital case is debated for 17 years on average, while in your country, 17 is the age of some of those who are executed... As for intervention in the affairs of others, [you have a point:] We Americans do invest considerable funds [in Afghanistan] in order to enable the children there to attend school. [We also invest funds] in order to prevent Russia from imposing its will on Georgia, and so on. But you guys also intervene in the affairs of others - only instead of sending children to school you strap explosive belts around their waists. A few days ago, the media reported that a three-month-old baby had joined an [Iranian] suicide squad.

"Dear Mahmoud, I have no patience to read nonsense and respond to it, so next time you feel like talking to me, please call me on the phone - only please don't make it collect."

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The fairest comment on Sara Palin

to date, came from Judge Judy on Larry King Live, which I saw at the rerun of the CNN program tonight:

KING: Governor Palin, who Anderson just mentioned, will be a guest on this program on Wednesday night. I know you voted for her opponent. What do you make of her?

SHEINDLIN: I think she's -- I think she's smart. I think she started from very humble beginnings. We heard her father speak. This was clearly -- she is probably an aberration in her family. She raised a family of her own. She became a mayor of a little town. Then she became a governor of a state in the United States. And anybody that thinks that this woman is stupid is just plain mean- spirited and wrong. I think that if she had sought this job that was foisted upon her, and not prepared for it, that would be one thing. But I think she got a call one day and said, listen, we would like you to be vice presidential ...running mate in Alaska, where she was dealing with her kids, with a pregnancy. She was dealing with all kinds of things and not necessarily those things involving international politics, involving the national economy. And she walked into a situation, really pretty much cold. She took over a room and she took over -- that night she took over a country.

So you may have some issue as to whether she was ready to be vice president or ready to assume the office of president, were she called upon to do that. But to suggest that this is a stupid woman is just idiotic.

KING: Was the press unfair to her?

SHEINDLIN: Yes, I think they were. I think they looked for her to make mistakes. I think there was a certain gloating when that unfortunate prank was pulled on her with the president of France. I think instead of being outraged that somebody did something like that, as they would have been for another candidate, they sort of were snickering that she was so dumb that she fell for it, or that someone wasn't smart enough in her office to have put her on the phone.

I think there was a mean-spiritedness that I sensed. And I didn't vote for her. But there was a mean-spiritedness that I find objectionable, I don't know if it was because she was a woman. I don't know if she was a woman that came into the national attention after Hillary Clinton, who was a very popular woman, and there was a sense that maybe they were trying to change one woman out for another, which I think is sort of ridiculous. You can't do that with people. But I think she is a smart lady. I think she was underrated. I think she needs a little more time if she wants to get into the national picture. But I think that the criticism and the vitriol and the mean- spiritedness have to stop. It's disrespectful.

Jung put to good use

There is a something about self-testing on the Internet that makes even very serious people give them time and space on their blogs. The latest belongs to this website which offers an X-ray diagnosis of one's personality type or gender, by the simple act of reading one's blog name.

So I entered my http:// and from the Typealyzer got this highly gratifying analysis of the blogmaster under review (That's moi):

INTP - The Thinkers

The logical and analytical type. They are especialy attuned to difficult creative and intellectual challenges and always look for something more complex to dig into. They are great at finding subtle connections between things and imagine far-reaching implications. They enjoy working with complex things using a lot of concepts and imaginative models of reality. Since they are not very good at seeing and understanding the needs of other people, they might come across as arrogant, impatient and insensitive to people that need some time to understand what they are talking about.

Quite Bingo! What an insightful tool, such accuracy, such delicacy of nuance... how does it do it?

So I went on to the next test, The Gender analyzer, which claims that, by using "Artificial Intelligence" it can "determine if a homepage is written by a man or woman".

The result: "We think is written by a man (77%)."

Apparently I'm much more male than Normblog or Mick H.

The priorities of the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva


This, as well

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Following in the footsteps of Yusuf Islam ..

Michael Jackson, , the 50-year-old pop star "changed his is name to Mikaeel, pledged allegiance to the Koran at a friend's house in Los Angeles. An Imam was summoned from a nearby mosque to hold the shahada, the declaration of belief in Allah and Mohammed's prophecy. " (source)

Not surprisingly, Al-Qaeda welcomes Michael Jacksons conversion to Islam

Initial reports are already filtering through that Al-Qaeda has warmly welcomed Michael Jackson into their faith and are confident that this high profile conversion will prove to be the turning point whereby millions of young Americans, already disillusioned by the economic crisis that is sapping Americas confidence will turn to the Koran for inspiration. Sources close to Al Qaeda leadership are said to have have confirmed the open satisfaction of senior figures including Deputy Ayman Al-Zawahiri regarding the pop star's conversion, according to some Pakistani news services.

It is claimed that the Al Qaeda leadership were already most surprised by the fact that Americans were prepared to vote in as President a candidate with some recent Muslim heritage, even if the President-elect is a practising Christian. This did not of this stop Ayman Al-Zawahiri referring to Obama as a ‘house negro' recently, although Malcolm X was lavishly praised within the same speech he made the rather controversial comment in. Now with this latest celebrity conversion Al-Qaeda are hopeful that the west is finally moving religiously towards Mecca.

Generally, intelligence sources agree that Al Qaeda is very interested in attracting disaffected African-Americans into the fold and the recent criticisms of Obama were very much in line with this aim. Obama is unlikely to solve all the problems that exist within Africa-American communities and might not be seen as acting sufficiently in the interests of fellow Black Americans by some. Most observers agree that Jackson's conversion amidst his financial troubles is something that Al Qaeda would welcome. Interestingly Jackson is off to London today to dispute a large debt supposedly owed by him to a Bahrani prince. Perhaps his new found faith will soften the heart of his alleged creditor?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Unpopular Bush video - oopsy

CNN’s never-too-sharp anchor Rick Sanchez was nearly "orgasmic with schadenfreude as he touted a video of President Bush apparently being ignored by other world leaders at the G20 summit. Sanchez described Bush as “the most unpopular kid in high school… You know the one with the cooties.”

This is the video Sanchez touts as evidence.

Would you ever believe this person again, once you have seen this?

I would like to hope that this may cure Sanchez's girlishly over eager proclivity to opine on some emotionally-gratifying perception of news, rather than a verified, and actually meaningful, news itself. I would have expected a little bit more savvy from such a self-satisfied, seasoned broadcaster.

On teachers, civilization and courage

I. Bertrand Russell, in one of his Unpopular Essays, tries to explain that the role of a teacher is to be the guardian of civilization. A teacher, says Russell, "should be intimately aware what civilization is'.

But what does Russell mean when he invokes the term "civilization"?

It's much more than advanced technology. It is "a thing of the mind"

"it is a matter partly of knowledge, partly of emotion... A man.. should see his own country not only as home but as one among countries of the world, all with an equal right to live, and think, and feel. He should see his own age in relation to the past and the future".

The danger and impossibility to fulfill the true role of the teacher is much less present in democratic countries. A teacher, however, in totalitarian countries, cannot hope to serve his noble goal, for

"In each of these countries fanatical nationalism was what was most emphasised in the teaching of the young, with the result that the men of one country have no common ground with the men of another., and that no conception of a common civilization stands in the warlike ferocity". In such countries, he goes on to say, "Collective hysteria, the most mad and cruel of all human emotions, is encouraged instead of being discouraged".

II. I was reminded of Russell's unpopular wisdom when I watched this video of an an interview with Syrian actress Amal 'Arafa, which aired on Al-Hiwar TV on October 4, 2008:

"Policies may change, but there is something that is already in my genes. We've been brought up to hate Israel. It's in our genes. If Arab countries make political decisions, and there is peace, and so on and so forth... First of all, who would be against peace? I am not against peace.

...But as far as I am concerned, Israel will continue to be a black, dark, and murky spot in my memory, in my genes, and in my blood. Even though I am Syrian and not Palestinian, the Syrian upbringing we received and by which we lived – we've sucked it with the milk of our mothers. There is no playing around with this, it's in our genes, and we will pass this down for many more generations."

III. Yet sometimes we do encounter the miracle of civilization doing its work, despite the indoctrination, the teaching of implacable hostility, as evident in the figure of the Egyptian author and intellectual, Ali Salem. David Price-Jones is witness that genuine teaching is possible even in authoritarian states:

"The world needs men like Ali Salem. He’s one of Egypt’s most distinguished writers, aged 72, with a long list of books and plays behind him. In every way, intellectually and physically, he’s very big. There is tremendous humour in his face. He’s not afraid to say what he thinks, being an outspoken critic of Islamism and an active campaigner for a real peace with Israel. In 1994 he first visited Israel, and the book he wrote about it was a runaway best-seller. Since then, he’s been to Israel many times, and has received an honorary doctorate there. He keeps saying that Arabs have nothing to fear from Jews, that there’s no place for hate, and that peace is better than war. Back home in Cairo, the elite boycott him and his writings, and those on the street can kill anyone who talks and acts as he does.

Yesterday he was awarded the Civil Courage Prize which comes with a handsome check....

What an occasion! Ali Salem’s humour came out the moment he started his acceptance speech. He quoted the scene in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesarwhen a citizen attacks Cinna the poet, shouting, “Tear him for his bad verses.” He also gave a great and apposite example of an Egyptian joke, told about a man going home one evening, only to find himself surrounded by an armed mob who demand “Are you with Us or The Others?” With Us, he replies, whereupon they shoot him dead declaring that they are The Others."

How appropriate, from a Russellian point of view, that this particular Arab teacher should be awarded a prize named "Civil courage".

President-Elect Obama: the view from the Left

Self - ironization:

Abu Nimah's cognitively dissonant comment:

During the United States election campaign, racists and pro-Israel hardliners tried to make an issue out of President-elect Barack Obama's middle name, Hussein. Such people might take comfort in another middle name, that of Obama's pick for White House Chief of Staff: Rahm Israel Emanuel.

Abunimah's cognitive dissonance derives from his complete denial of the fact that it was Obama's Hussein middle name that made him so attractive and appealing to him and his ilk in the first place. And that his own preoccupation with Rahm's middle name is just as jeerable as his point about those "racists and pro-Israel hardliners", though much more pertinent in his case. Please note how he groups together the racists and pro-Israel hardliners. For Abinumah, to be pro-Israel is to be a racist, or at least, one very sympathetic to racists. In the next sentence, he pointedly focuses on Emanuel's "Israel" name. The proximity of name and ethnicity, you see, must mean that Rahm is in that reprehensible group of pro-Israel hardliners, which are so closely related to racists. Thus we have the Al-Jazeera type of argumentation which takes mere facts, emotions, suspicions, and prejudices and amalgamates the lot into some sort of gigantic, indisputable truth.

Let me just point out to him, that Obama's "Hussein" name is much responsible for the swooning of Hamas and other so-called Islamic "anti-imperialists" over him. Was he not born of a Muslim father? Was not his step father also a Muslim? Is not his name Hussein? Surely, these facts alone are enough to guarantee that he will share the Islamic view of Jews, America, and such like? For them, , as for their less congenial counterparts on the American Right, the name "Hussein" invariably invokes this man, rather than that man. Wonder why they would rather think of Hussein the genocidaire who handsomely rewarded Palestinian families who lost their sons in suicide missions, and not of Hussein who could never bring himself to hate Israel, or Israelis with the red hot viciousness considered mandatory in the Arab world?

The spineless capitulator:

The Daily Kos is really pissed off:

In the spirit of post-partisanship, and in spite of the American people's overwhelming votes for change in 2006 and 2008....

Shit, that wouldn't be any worse than appointing fierce Obama critic and Iraq War supporter Joe Lieberman to the Homeland Security committee.

But in all seriousness, I think we've now learned that Joe Lieberman is the smartest politician in DC. He knew Democrats were spineless capitulators who would cave at the merest threat no matter how many times he shit in their face.

He's probably having a great laugh about it just about now.

More, later.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hitchens on Antisemitism


Money quote:

".. if one ever needed a working definition of an anti-Semite, it might perhaps be an individual who esteemed everything about Ezra Pound except his Cantos."

Monday, November 17, 2008

The wages of the war in Iraq

According to Muhammad al-Ta'i, chief editor at the Basra-based liberal Iraqi satellite TV channel Al-Fayhaa:

'Give a dirham and kill a Zionist!'

This slogan used to be inscribed on the walls of elementary schools in Iraq, like the Al-Mirbad Elementary School in Al-Khandaq and the Al-Futuwwa School in the Al-Jumhuriyya neighborhood in Basra.

"When I was young, I used to collect the requested dirham - which was 50 fils - by putting aside 10 fils each day from my daily allowance. This way, at the end of the week, I could give [the dirham] to the school, after I had deprived myself of eating the tasty sweet called burmah, settling for buying half a sambusa, or bread and chickpea soup for just 15 fils, in my attempt to implement the 'nationalist' slogan!

"When we grew up... it didn't take long before we discovered that this 'nationalist' slogan, like the others, was a lie [as were] the 'Nationalist and Pan-Arab Education' books that were distributed by the ruling Ba'th party in order to play with our feelings and emotions and to steal our dirhams - just as [the Ba'th party] stole our oil for four decades, while the pockets of those who proposed and inscribed the slogan were lined with our dirhams!"

"The terms 'collaboration,' '[dirty] machinations,' 'treason,' and, [on the other hand,] 'the good of the nation,' 'nationalism.' and 'love of nation' used to be repeated constantly, with only the government knowing the standards and principles that explained and governed them - the same government that sacrificed the entire people in the name of defending national unity. This is what the leader of the previous regime did in his wars in the name of nationalism - those 'nationalist' wars that were nothing but defense of the dictator's throne.

"Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis disappeared because of 'love of nation,' and millions emigrated in an attempt to save themselves from the dictator's 'nationalism.'

"This scene is still being repeated in many Arab countries. We would see the 'citizens' of these countries executed, arrested, and tortured for treason because they had (supposedly) made contact with foreigners. At the same time, the state-owned newspapers in those countries would write about the government's 'nationalism' when they achieved some diplomatic victory - through a deal with that same country that [ordinary] citizens had been executed for having contacts with…"

People Were Left with "A Restricted Manner of Thinking Based on a Huge Number of Slogans"
"All of these contradictions left the citizens everywhere - and especially in Iraq - in a state of confusion. These contradictions cast them into a cultural crisis and a restricted manner of thinking based on a huge number of slogans…

"Perhaps the issue of accords with [other] states is the best example of this - especially those accords or understandings with the countries called 'colonialist,' or described as 'imperialist.' In general, these accords were depicted as treason, or those who signed them were accused of being foreign agents.

"This left the traumatized citizens with the following questions: Should the government of Qatar be considered treasonous and a collaborator in the eyes of its people, given that the U.S. has its largest military base there? Should Saudi Arabia be considered a collaborator because of its excellent and warm strategic relations with the U.S.? Is Jordan a collaborator and a traitor because of its direct relations with Israel? And should the same be applied to Egypt, the land of Arabism?...

"In this way, talk about sovereignty becomes preferable to attaining the good of the nation and of the citizens. The traumatized citizen does not know that [true] subservience [to foreign powers] is when his children starve and die of illness and become mentally disturbed due to poverty - while he walks on a sea of oil! And he doesn't know that [true] independence is improved living standards, good education, and free quality health care…

"Let us leave the slogans to those who want to shout them repeatedly, so we can get back the dirhams that were stolen in the name of the slogan with which I opened this article - and likewise the dinars that are stolen every day under various designations and terms that are not much different than that slogan.

"This is just a call to think, far removed from the slogans and from the political and psychological traumas that the dictatorships produced [in the past] - and are still producing, to this day.

Things are getting constantly better in Iraq and will soon reach, if not have already
done so, the point of no return.The point of no return can be more or less defined as the point where Iraqis will weigh the wages of capitulation to terrorist Jihadism against the benefits of a peaceful normalcy of life in a political system which no longer uses intimidation and deadly violence by way of settling differences of opinions. The above article is still something of a rarity in the Iraqi intellectual circles, traumatized by decades of relentless brutality. But it is not a lonely voice in the dark, either.

Memo to President-Elect Obama: Tread very carefully, and don't rush into anything. The future of a people, a country and a region may well depend upon your decision on this issue. Easy yet to undo the progress. Much easier to maintain the current momentum.

Israel's impending Apocalypse

Bob offers a truly mirthful way for starting this week, in the documentary film "Farewell, Israel". Mirthful, that is, if you are an Islamist...

Here is a summary:

Farewell Israel: Bush, Iran and The Revolt of Islam is an historic journey, from the birth of Islam, through its 1,200 year reign over the civilized world, to the last 300 years of Islamic decline, overtaken and dominated by the West -- then humiliated by a Jewish state. Islam's historic trials with Jews, and its relationship with conquered non-believers, help illustrate the Islamic world view - all through the eyes of Muslims.

In this groundbreaking film, the total rejection of Israel by Muslim states since its inception in 1948 comes to light as a religious duty for Believers. The Islamic roots of Anwar Sadat's 1977 Camp David Accords with Israel are exposed as "The Diplomatic Strategy Against Israel," by which Egypt sought to defeat Israel through diplomacy, rather than establish "Western Peace." Israel's misunderstanding of Islamic goals and values are highlighted by its enthusiasm for Yasser Arafat and the 1993 Oslo Accords.

Next, President George Bush's tragic misunderstanding of 9/11 as a "War Against Freedom," in which the United States played into the hands of Al-Qaeda and the Islamist cause by advocating democratic reform across the Middle East, is revealed. Finally, the Iranian agenda for acquiring strategic weapons to eliminate Israel comes clearly into focus.

Today, at the direction of Iran, Islamists are preparing for a fateful coming war for Islam - and Israel is the number one target and obstacle in the path of Islamic revival. For Muslims, Israel embodies "injustice", and is the ultimate symbol of Islam's decline - a Western, secular society imposed by the West on former Islamic lands. Only with the return of Jews to their historic status as "Dhimmi" or "Tributaries," tolerated and protected within Islamic society, can Islamic revival succeed - resulting in "Islamic Peace" in the Middle East.

Farewell Israel: Bush, Iran and The Revolt of Islam reaches the unavoidable conclusion that Western and Israeli misunderstanding of Islam is leading to a coming war - which will have devastating consequences for the West, and worst of all for Israel - Farewell Israel


"Joel Gilbert is a graduate of the University of London where he studied at the School of Oriental and African Studies and the London School of Economics (BA 1986). He was a student of Islam under renowned Middle East experts, Professors Eli Kedouri, P.J. Vatikiotis, Michael Cook, Michael Heyward, and Abbas Kelidar."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Internet friendships

Writer Roger Scruton tries to delineate the qualitative difference between the ephemeral friendship formed on the Internet and "real life" friendships which involve physical and not just cerebral, presence.

Real friendship, says Scruton, "involves risk. The reward is great: help in times of need, joy in times of celebration. But the cost is also great: self-sacrifice, accountability, the risk of embarrassment and anger, and the effort of winning another’s trust. Hence I can become friends with you only by seeking your company. I must attend to your words, gestures and body language, and win the trust of the person revealed in them, and this is risky business. I can avoid the risk and still obtain pleasure; but I will never obtain friendship or love. "

This description, however, applies just a validly to cyber friendships. They involve opening of the self, a willingness to trust, being attuned to moods and nuances, a range of human emotions which are present in any relationship. They feel quite real, even when they are merely "virtual". Scruton, however, diagnoses with great acumen the limitation of such friendships. They rarely last, because:

"When I relate to you through the screen there is a marked shift in emphasis. Now I have my finger on the button. At any moment I can turn you off. You are free in your own space, but you are not really free in mine, since you are dependent on my decision to keep you there. I retain ultimate control, and am not risking myself in the friendship as I risk myself when I meet you face to face. Of course I may stay glued to the screen. Nevertheless, it is a screen that I am glued to, not the person behind it. "

In living friendships, the friends do not have ultimate control over the other's presence or absence from their sphere of living. A chance meeting, a ring of the doorbell, can undo the damage of a quarrel or a misunderstanding. A turned off computer is just as dead a machine as can be. You need to press button to bring it back to life. In other words, it's completely under your control. As is the fate of that cyber friendship you cultivated with such panache until it went cold.

(H/T: Norm)

On Afghanistan and abdication

Terry Glavin, trying to straighten a crooked picture:

“Today, the blunt reality and central problem in Afghanistan is that most of its people believe they were better off under the Taliban than they are under President Hamid Karzai.”

This is the opposite of the truth, and on a matter of such critical importance - what the Afghan masses actually think - it is an inexcusable error. I am now aware of 14 public opinion polls and focus group surveys conducted in Afghanistan that refute this fashionable and persistent falsehood, which has been making the rounds from almost the morning after the Taliban were routed from Kabul in 2001,

A lot more from Terry Glavin, currently on humanitarian duty in Afghanistan, here.

Weizmann Institute, Hebrew University: top world ranking

According to this source:

The Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem topped the list compiled by The Scientist magazine as the best places to work for academics outside the United States....

Surveying 2,300 academics at 73 institutions around the world, the bimonthly publication awarded points based on over 40 criteria fields, including pay, the state of the campus facilities, resources at the disposal of researchers....

The Weizmann Institute has employed 236 researchers over the past decade, who published 4,505 articles in peer-reviewed journals. Over that same period the Hebrew University has employed 513 life sciences researchers, who published 10,346 articles.

Related past post.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Contrast and Compare:

Arab Racism and Israel's against-all-the-odds democracy, as described by Prof. Ira Sharkansky, of Shark Blog:

One of the questions that bother political scientists is, "Why is Israel a democracy?"

We can put aside the minority of tendentious scholars who insist that Israel is not a democracy, due to how it treats its minorities, or due to its treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Such scholars do not compare Israeli Arabs with American minorities, or those of Western Europe; and they do not compare Israel's policies toward the West Bank and Gaza with Americans' behavior toward Iraq and Afghanistan.

Israel scores high on scales of democracy that measure the incidence of free and critical media, political competition, peaceful transition between those who lose and those who win elections, and the access of minorities to the voting booth and parliament.

On the basis of international comparisons, Israel should not have developed as a democracy.

And one likely explanation suggested is:

".. a theme in Jewish culture and religion: the support for criticism. The theme is prominent in the Biblical prophets, who were less concerned with predicting the future than with criticizing the kings, priests, other elites, and one another. Jews view those critics as messengers from the Almighty, worthy of inclusion in religious ritual.

[...] Jesus followed the prophetic tradition with his shrill criticism of established elites. He resembled countless generations of Jewish nudniks who have not tolerated existing practices, and have made life difficult for their teachers and other contemporaries. If Jesus' disciples had not taken his lessons as the basis of a competing religion after his death, and given him the flavor of anti-Jewishness, he might have been enshrined in the Hebrew Bible as yet another prophet who expressed the ideals of those who came before him.

.... Among the explanations of Israeli democracy, however, may be traits of Jews that others have found difficult. We are quarrelsome and critical, and do not lightly accept authority or established conventions. Success in business, science, and the arts may also derive from the same characteristics.

"Arabs Are The Epitome of Racism"

Via MEMRI: 'Al-Quds Al-Arabi' Editor Abd Al-Bari Atwan:

"What a paradox this is. In the U.S., not only is the change of power carried out by peaceful means, but there is [now] a black president - [who came] from the lowest ranks of society to the top.

"If Obama was in an Arab country, like Saudi Arabia or one of the Gulf states, they might have required him to have a 'guarantor' [like any foreign worker]. Under no circumstances - even if he died - would they have given him citizenship. They'd say to him: You are a slave, you are black, you need a 'guarantor,' you are a Kenyan, and your origins are unknown.

"I'm sad to say that we Arabs are the epitome of racism. Look at the foreign [workers] in the Gulf - they have no rights. These workers demonstrate, demanding to be placed 10, rather than 20, in a room, demanding to be transported in buses like human beings, rather than in trucks like beasts.

"We are the epitome of racism, and I believe that Obama will demand that these Arab countries carry out reforms: First, to abolish the 'guarantor' system, and then to grant rights not only to the blacks, but even to the Arabs themselves, to the whites. The whites in the Arab world are humiliated. Unless you have the 'holy' citizenship of a certain country - you are humiliated.

"Obama should impose the American model of equality, rights, and opportunities on all the Arab countries."

The highlighted statement caught my eye. Wasn't this exactly what George W. Bush was doing, when he toppled Saddam Hussein and provided the Iraqis with an opportunity to form a society of more "equality, rights and opportunities"?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Between the Two Messrs Hitchens:


Proper books, recording his sordid associates, his cowardly voting record, his astonishingly militant commitment to unrestricted abortion and his blundering trip to Africa, are little-read and hard to find.

If you can believe that this undistinguished and conventionally Left-wing machine politician is a sort of secular saviour, then you can believe anything. He plainly doesn’t believe it himself. His cliche-stuffed, PC clunker of an acceptance speech suffered badly from nerves. It was what you would expect from someone who knew he’d promised too much and that from now on the easy bit was over.


There is an element of the "wannabe" about all this—something that suggests that, if the clock were to be rolled back, every living white person would now automatically stand with John Brown at Harper's Ferry and with John Lewis at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. All the evidence we have is to the contrary: Abraham Lincoln ringingly denounced John Brown, and John F. Kennedy (he of the last young and pretty family to occupy the Executive Mansion) was embarrassed and annoyed by the March on Washington. In other words, there is something pain-free and self-congratulatory about the Obama surge. This has happened before, of course, with the high-sounding talk about the "New Frontier," the "Great Society," and "Morning in America." It's just that this time it's more than usually not affordable. There are many causes of the subprime and derivative horror show that has destroyed our trust in the idea of credit, but one way of defining it would be to say that everybody was promised everything, and almost everybody fell for the populist bait.

More worrying still, there are vicious enemies and rogue states in increasing positions of influence throughout the world (one of the episodes that most condemned the Republican campaign was its attempt to slander Sen. Joe Biden for his candid attempt to point this out), yet many Obama voters appear to believe that the mere charm and aspect of their new president will act as an emollient influence on these unwelcome facts and these hostile forces. I can't make myself perform this act of faith, and I won't put up with any innuendo about my inability to do so.

Advice for Michelle

I've encountered some murmurs of disapproval on the blogosphere about Michelle Obama's choice of a dress on victory night. As you may recall, she was wearing a red-and-black Narciso Rodriguez dress (a designer she seems to favour). The whole family was colour-coordinated, with Sasha in black, Malia in red and black, and Obama's red and black striped tie.

If there is some subliminal symbolism attached to the choice of these two particular colours, it's a pretty eclectic one, according to Wikipedia:


Absence, modernity, power, sophistication, formality, elegance, wealth, mystery, style, evil, death (Western cultures), fear, anonymity, anger, sadness, remorse, mourning, unhappiness, sex, seriousness, conventionality, rebellion, anarchism, unity, sorrow, life, rebirth(ancient Egypt), slimming quality(fashion) January (Northern Hemisphere only).


Passion, strength, energy, fire, love, sex, excitement, speed, heat, arrogance, ambition, leadership, masculinity, power, danger, gaudiness, blood, war, anger, revolution, radicalism, socialism, communism, aggression, summer, autumn, stop, Mars (planet), respect, Aries (star sign), December, the Roman Catholic Church[citation needed], martyrs, the Holy Spirit, conservatism (U.S. politics), wealth (China).Studies show that red can have a physical effect, increasing the rate of respiration and raising blood pressure; red also is said to make people hungry; the red ruby is the traditional 40th wedding anniversary gift. Red is also the color of the devil in modern Western culture.

Manolo has not weighed in on the dress issue, but has recommended a suitable footwear, answering a plea from Michelle:

Dear Manolo,

My husband has just gotten the dream job of a lifetime, an assignment that literally puts him at the top of the heap. So now we’re going to celebrate with a giant party in January when the new job officially starts. This party will be a dressy affair, with tons of important people, toasts, dancing, dining, a real blowout. What would you recommend in the way of shoes? I’m thinking of wearing gown by Narciso Rodriguez.


I wonder if there is a hint in the relatively lighter colour of the suggested shoes for Michelle Obama to opt for a cooler coloured dress than the one picked for victory night. Manolo has a good eye for these things.

In my humble opinion, she looks very good in electric blue or soft purple.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Then and now: JFK and BHO

Neo-neocon has commented on P-E Obama's first Press Conference gaff about Nancy Reagan, interpreting it as a symptom of his dismal non-funniness. I think he can be funny, as attested here. The momentary lapse of his customary decorum, for which he is rightly famous, could be blamed on a certain laid back mood, since he can now let go a little of the iron control over every word he had to maintain throughout the campaign.

Anyway, neo-necon posted a clip of JFK fielding questions during Press conference to press on the difference between the two men, whom some have declared to be alike.

I liked this part:

QUESTION: Mr. President, Congressman Alger of Texas today criticized Mr. Salinger as a "young and inexperience White House publicity man,"--(laughter)--and questioned the advisability of having him visit the Soviet Union. I wonder if you have any comments?

THE PRESIDENT: I know there are always some people who feel that Americans are always young and inexperienced, and foreigners are always able and tough, and great negotiators. But I don't think that the United States acquired its present position of leadership in the Free World if that view were correct.

Also, as I saw the press, it said that Mr. Salinger's main job was to increase my standing in the Gallup Polls. Having done that, he's now moving on to--(more laughter)--to improve our communications.

It seems odd that the American people has lost its nerve in the last forty years, and now has adopted the view of "some people" which the President mocks, as its more common position about America and the "foreigners". Michael Moore is a good and popular example of this mood:

"The Americans are so stupid. Completely idiotic. Ignorant. 85% of 18 to 25 year olds can't even find Iraq on the map! Wouldn't that be a good UN resolution? Before George Bush can bomb a country, his countrymen need to first take a test. And if they don't know where the country is, they have to bomb themselves. Wouldn't that be something?"

Perhaps one of Obama's greatest achievement will be in restoring that sense of pride and confidence that seems to have come so naturally to JFK, over forty years ago, even as he still had to contend with the disgrace of a segregated South, and rampant racism.

By sheer coincidence, Norm was musing along similar lines, from a different aspect:

It didn't require a revolution to elect Barack Obama, a reordering of the entire political constellation; it required only an election at its due time and a campaign to win that election.

And it didn't need a trip to some deep well of recondite wisdom to be be able to see these things before 4 November 2008. It needed only some elementary knowledge of US political history and a few basic facts from a textbook in political science. One delusion of the Bush years has been punctured. Others will be punctured in their turn. There'll be time enough to comment on those.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

New Zealand elects a new Prime Minister:

Key, like Obama, is 47 years old and belongs to a minority group in his country. Key's mother, Ruth Lazar, is a Jewish immigrant from Austria and is considered an active member of New Zealand's Jewish community of about 5,000.

Key has been less than forthcoming about his positions regarding Israel, but stresses in interviews that he is a friend of Israel and wants to visit Jerusalem. Members of the Kiwi Jewish community point out that Key took part in Israel's 60th anniversary celebrations, and has donated to Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem.

Key has promised a more right-leaning government than Clark's, which for almost a decade made global warming a key policy issue and led the international condemnation of scientific whaling.

"¡No pasarán!"

"They shall not pass" is a propaganda slogan used to express determination to defend a position against an enemy.

It was most famously used during the Spanish Civil War by Dolores Ibárruri Gómez in her famous "No Pasarán" speech. "¡No pasarán!" became an international anti-fascist slogan.

The battle against fascism takes many forms, as many, probably, as the term fascism does.


Terry Glavin is in Afghanistan these days. You must read his occasional posts from there, on his blog.

Here is a most recent comment from him, on the Drunk Trots blog:

What I’m finding is that the safest thing for a fair-skinned kaffir like me to do here is go unarmed and “embedded” with the people, because the people know the Taliban wants to kill you. They know the assassinations and kidnappings of foreigners is what’s making the “international community” wet its pants and want to cut a deal and abandon Afghanistan again. So you don’t keep routines, you behave sensibly, you run with savvy Afghans, and then you find it’s as safe as anyplace, if not safer.

Ordinary people, total strangers, watch your back. They have you in for tea, give you advice, keep an eye out for you, invite you to weddings, and tell you about the prayers they’re going to pray for your kids.

No fucking pasaran,

My very best vibes are sent to Terry. As Ben Cohen, from Z-blog, said: he is a prince among men.

Musical Break

My friend Bat-Sheva came to visit me some time ago from Israel and brought me a CD featuring the songs of Yehudit Ravitz, an Israeli singer of a sophisticated turn and taste.

Here she is in a duet with Matti Kaspi: Samba for two , which is a Brazilian song.

Here is another samba, this time an Israeli original:

You took my hand in yours
and said to me:
Let's walk out into the garden
Things you see from there
you cannot see from here...

And her pièce de résistance, "Ba-a me'ahava..", coming from love..

The ligtness in her step
The wrinkle in her dress
They say, they confess
that she has had a taste
of love...

Friday, November 07, 2008

Coalition of the willing

I. There is a scene in Driving Miss Daisy, in which the old Jewish lady and her black chauffeur have stopped by the side of the road, to have a picnic. Two policemen arrive and tell them to move on. They drive off in somewhat of an anxious hurry. One of the Alabama troopers squints after them and drawls: An old nigger and an old Jew woman takin' off down the road together... that is one sorry sight!

II. The New Republic's Marty Peretz, a besotted Obamist, and Commentary's Noah Pollak, a determined Obama sceptic, are in perfect agreement about two subjects: Rahm Emanuel, and Rabbi Michael Lerner.

Says Marty, with barely restrained jubilation:

No one wants to play with "Rabbi" Michael Lerner, the editor of Tikkun. And one wants to sing his songs either. At least that's what he's written in a slightly hysterical "news alert" announcing that "Rahm Emanuel is No Reason for Hope or Celebration."... as soon as the appointment of Congressman Emanuel as White House chief-of-staff was announced Lerner began to sulk. And no one would sing such songs in the White House.

Noah Pollak, wryly:

" Leftist alienation with Obama is already setting in, and it is hilarious. Here is “Rabbi” Michael Lerner...

You get the sense that Lerner wants to be shut out. Complaining about being shut out or silenced or marginalized or othered comprises approximately three quarters of Lerner’s day; how would he fill his time if it was otherwise?...

For some of us, reading missives from jilted progressives is a healing experience"

Looks like Rahm Emanuel's new appointment set off a furor on the blogosphere. My usually more sedate sitemeter registered nearly a 100 hits today on this post I wrote about Rahm's name. And the day is not over yet. That's quite a lot, for my little blog.

III. On Pajama Media someone was saying:

"Since Emanuel is a hard-core pro-Israel supporter does this mean that the next President of the US will be under control of the Zionists running the white house and the world?

Wasn’t “Neo-con Zionists running the White House” the main reason why the Progressive Left and their Buchananite allies Hated President George W Bush?"

I have to admit, the same thought crossed my mind. Is this the harbinger of the coming together of the neo-cons and the liberal hawks, which I have been predicting for three years now? Has Obama signed on to the Euston Manifesto? And how does this fit into the Mearsheimer & Walt doctrine? Does it refute, or confirm it?

IV: Interesting times, ahead. Here is a taste:

America, now you've done it. You just elected an African-American from Chicago President, and traveling with him to the White House will be his good friend Rahm Emanuel. Congressman Emanuel will probably be the new Chief of Staff, which is quietly the most important job in most administrations. Emanuel is the powerful young former head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and his reputation is that of a political bruiser. The Emanuel selection demonstrates that unlike Clinton in 1992, Obama is not fucking around.

Education by shaming

Watch the video, here.

The school superintendent responds:

...While neutral discussion of the political process is appropriate, at no time, particularly with elementary students, should a teacher infuse his/her political views into the discussion. Most disconcerting was the military slant that made its way into this discussion. We are a military community, serving over 15,000 military students and their families. We value the sacrifices, not only of the military parents but also those of their families.

We believe that military children are our children, military spouses are many of our employees, and military service men and women are our heroes. We proudly serve our military children and have received national awards for our support of military families.

I was particularly disturbed to see the uncomfortable position in which our children were placed due to the inappropriate actions of one of our teachers. Please be assured that the actions exhibited in this video are not consistent with the vision of the CCS. Moreover, the actions of one teacher do not represent the 7000 employees in our organization.

Once the video was brought to my attention, I immediately launched an investigation. Personnel laws prevent me from releasing information regarding individual employees and personnel action taken. I can assure you that upon completion of the investigation, I will take appropriate action.

Dr. William Harrison
CCS’ Superintendent

(H/T: Solomonia)

Update: Here is a video of a conversation with the teacher, the gist of which is: She should not have said what she did, and it was wrong, but she did nothing wrong. Seems to me it is a case of a person who suffers from cognitive dissonance:

"Cognitive dissonance is an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously. The "ideas" or "cognitions" in question may include attitudes and beliefs, and also the awareness of one's behavior. The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance by changing their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors, or by justifying or rationalizing their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors...

Dissonance normally occurs when a person perceives a logical inconsistency among his or her cognitions. This happens when one idea implies the opposite of another.... A powerful cause of dissonance is when an idea conflicts with a fundamental element of the self-concept, such as "I am a good person" or "I made the right decision." This can lead to rationalization when a person is presented with evidence of a bad choice. It can also lead to confirmation bias, the denial of discomfirming evidence, and other ego defense mechanisms."