Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The rockets stopped

"...seven long months after the conclusion of Operation Cast Lead, the rockets out of Gaza
have finally stopped. Israelis will no longer put up with indiscriminate attacks on their houses and schools. Many Palestinians in Gaza have likewise had their fill of Hamas’s self-destructive campaign of “resistance.”

Corruption of the youth

From here:

"... the United Nations has been running summer games throughout the Gaza Strip for 240,000 children. These games, run by UNRWA, are being held at over 150 locations. The participants are mostly between the ages of six and 15 and engage in sports, arts and crafts, swimming and other cultural activities

Last week, senior Hamas official Dr. Younes al-Istal told Al-Arabiya TV the UNRWA summer camps were part of a plan to corrupt the younger generation and prepare it for normalization with Israel."

Hamas offers its moral palliative to this massive child abuse:

"According to Israeli defense officials, more than 120,000 Palestinian children are spending the summer in Hamas-run camps. In addition to religious studies, the children undergo semi-military training with toy guns.

At a recent summer camp graduation ceremony, the children put on a show reenacting the June 2006 abduction of Schalit. "

A tradition of "No"

Monday, July 27, 2009

A fireman can't let people burn

The other day I was pondering the issue of radical evil, following this blogpost as I continued to check my favourite lurking places on the Internet. As it sometimes happens, a series of comments/posts emerged from the cyber fog and left their imprint upon my mind, for a variety of reasons. Only later did I realize that these comments --each from very different authors-- were somehow in conversation with each other, in that they offset the deeply riven difference in the moral principles that animate the positions declared in them.

I have decided to post the relevant quotes from each venue and let a certain picture emerge:

I. Two Comments by two posters in conversation on some message board:

First comment:

It's interesting to think about Rwanda. Everybody believes not sending massive foreign troops in there was a ghastly mistake. We assume that would have ended the war and prevented the genocide and everything would have been fine. But why do we assume that? What makes us think even more people might not have been killed over a longer period of time in some endless power struggle with us westerners trapped in the middle, unable to fix it and unable leave? Of course, it's assumed we could have just run in, stopped the genocide and left. As it is, the Rwandans had no choice but to fix their problem themselves, and it seems like they've done not a bad job so far.

Second Comment:

There are a lot of black Africans (safe ones of course) suggesting that aid to Africa is simply allowing Africans to put off reform, both by tamping down the extreme violence that would lead to massive continent-wide revolt, and by enriching those already in power. That may also be the case in Afghanistan. If we pulled out altogether, conditions could get much worse for civilians in the short term, but bring about the kind of peoples' revolution that would result in a stable government.

II. Via Terry Glavin: "David Aaronovitch
: "And if we were to pull out now (and forget here the question of relationships with our allies, and imagine that they do the same), what then? Happy, peaceful Taleban, alone to do what they will with their statues and women, free to find their own way to God and content to allow everyone else to do the same? Happy fundamentalists of Swat, uninflamed by trans-border bombings, taking their part in a peaceful Pakistan?"

III. From Sign and Sight:

In a highly moving article the physicist Janusz Ostrowski describes (here in the German version) his experience of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising as a fireman. The Polish fire brigade was hired by the Germans to ensure that the houses with people in them were razed to the ground, while those containing goods remained standing. One day the firement discovered some young girls crying for help in a burning house. "The sergeant ordered us to ascertain whether szkopy (German Soldaten) or szaulisy (a derogatory term for Lithuanian, Latvian, or Ukrainian guards) were nearby. Once we'd given the all clear, he said: 'Any one who wants to can head for the other truck, but if you're feeling brave, we going to them out of there.' Three men headed off. Jurek said: 'I'm not risking my life for a couple of Jewesses who the Germans are going to kill sooner or later, if not here then somewhere else. There's no point. And if you get them out the szaulisy will come along, rape the prettiest ones and shoot the rest! This is an idiotic risk of life.' And he left. Somewhat hesitantly, as if he was ashamed. I agreed with him in principle. But the sergeant caught my eye and then, looking up at the windows, he said: 'A fireman can't let people burn.'"

To recap:

I: The Rwandan genocide came and went without outside intervention. Consequently, things have worked out not too badly for the Rwandans. There is a lesson to be learned from this chapter in history.

II: If we were to abandon Afghanistan now, what would happen to those targeted by the Taleban, namely, women and girls?

III: A fireman can't let people burn, even if he knows that the human beings he rescues will be murdered soon after.

In considering the above, I think we need to recall this document:

Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide

And this Meditation XVII by John Donne: Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind"

And this, from Elie Wiesel:

The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference.

The Essence of Evil II


"The former military captain says it was in the early 1990s, that he watched his then commander wrestle with giving up his 12-year-old daughter who was mentally ill.The commander, he says, initially resisted, but after mounting pressure from his military superiors, he gave in. Im watched as the girl was taken away. She was never seen again. One of Im's own men later gave him an eyewitness account of human-testing.Asked to guard a secret facility on an island off North Korea's west coast, Im says the soldier saw a number of people forced into a glass chamber. "Poisonous gas was injected in," Im says. "He watched doctors time how long it took for them to die. "Other North Korean defectors have long alleged that the secretive nation has been using political prisoners as experimental test subjects. Some have detailed how inmates were shipped from various concentration camps to so-called chemical "factories". But Im's is the first account of mentally-ill or physically challenged children being used."

Essence of Evil I was here


Sidebar to the concept of Evil:

In this series of short youtube videos, entitled: Axis of evil: Christopher Hitchens explains the accuracy of this title and why George Bush was right to tag Iraq/Iran/North Korea as such.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

History Lesson

Here: "In recent years, Palestinian leaders, writers and refugees have spoken out in the Palestinian media, blaming the Arab leadership for the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem. According to these accounts, and contrary to the Palestinian myth that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were deported by Israel in 1948, the vast majority of the Arab exodus from Israel was voluntary, and the result of orders by the Arab leadership."

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Gaza War: Numbers

Ben-Dror Yemini provides a summary and some conclusions:

Prof. Arnold Toynbee, who was no friend of Israel, wrote in one of his books, "In the history of man's endeavors to develop culture, there has never been a society whose progress and cultural level were so advanced that in time of revolution or war, its members could be depended upon not to commit evil acts." That is true of Israel and it is true of every country that finds itself in a state of war. So I will reiterate that every deviation should be investigated. But by the same token, there is no need to hide the true picture: with regard to the fact that Gaza is controlled by an entity whose way is terrorism, whose platform is anti-Semitic, and whose official objective is the destruction of the State of Israel, the number of innocent casualties in the course of the operation was far smaller than the stories fabricated by Palestinian organizations, human rights organizations and newspapers in Israel and around the world, such as Ha'aretz, which feeds many news agencies worldwide. We can, and should, publicize serious claims of deviations. But we also can, and should, at least to the same extent, present the serious research.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Strange Bedfellows


Monday, July 20, 2009

The Essence of Evil


Mick Hartley brings us today t
his monstrous story:

"At the Jerusalem Post, an interview with a Basiji - one of the Iranian People's Militia - after his release from detention for the "crime" of having freed two Iranian teenagers - a 13-year-old boy and a 15-year-old girl - arrested during the post-election disturbances:


When he was 16, "my mother took me to a Basiji station and begged them to take me under their wing because I had no one and nothing foreseeable in my future. My father was martyred during the war in Iraq and she did not want me to get hooked on drugs and become a street thug. I had no choice," he said.
He said he had been a highly regarded member of the force, and had so "impressed my superiors" that, at 18, "I was given the 'honor' to temporarily marry young girls before they were sentenced to death."
In the Islamic Republic it is illegal to execute a young woman, regardless of her crime, if she is a virgin, he explained. Therefore a "wedding" ceremony is conducted the night before the execution: The young girl is forced to have sexual intercourse with a prison guard - essentially raped by her "husband."
"I regret that, even though the marriages were legal," he said.
Why the regret, if the marriages were "legal?"
"Because," he went on, "I could tell that the girls were more afraid of their 'wedding' night than of the execution that awaited them in the morning. And they would always fight back, so we would have to put sleeping pills in their food. By morning the girls would have an empty expression; it seemed like they were ready or wanted to die.
"I remember hearing them cry and scream after [the rape] was over," he said. "I will never forget how this one girl clawed at her own face and neck with her finger nails afterwards. She had deep scratches all over her."


Some people doubt the veracity of the report, mainly because the source is the Israeli daily "The J-post". One poster claims:
"According to the Jerusalem Post? LOLOL Demonizing people when you plan to exterminate them is par for the course."
Another joins him:
Only a Zioshitstain, or a christian zio-shitbag would believe such garbage. Shows the true intellect of the creature who posted it, along with that of his hangers on.


Since they presented their scepticism with such reasonable arguments and elegant restraint, I thought their claim deserved some consideration. After some googling, I found that knowledge of this practice has been available for quite some time, at least on the Internet.
For example, a post in the AFU&Urban legend website, from 14 Apr 1993 asked the question and answers:

"I seriously doubt that the story has any validity to it because the few articles that I've read about the "severity" of the Shari'a (e.g., cutting off hands, execution, etc.) have never mentioned anything about something like this. It's the sort of item that the media would love to write up about.
+So this story is obviously part of the general campaign +of fear mongering against Islam, the new "Evil Empire", +in the eyes of the West. Often these stories start with +malicious intent, but then are transmitted and propagated +due to lack of information and ignorance."
An article in Al Jadid magazine, a review of Arab Culture and Arts, By Chahla Chafiq,Paris, 2002, reports:

-->"A woman's rape is frequently the last act that precedes her execution. This is explained by the rule in Iranian political prisons that the sentence of execution cannot be carried out if the woman is a virgin. Since there is a theological belief that if a woman dies a virgin she will go to heaven, the politically active virgin is forced to "marry" before her execution and thus to insure she will go to hell. She is forced to "marry" the hangman who will carry out her execution.. This marriage is conducted as a legitimate and official contract which includes, among other things, an estimated dowry. This "dowry" is subsequently paid to the family of the victim; it simultaneously becomes the equivalent of an official notification that she was executed."
From the book "Defying the Iranian revolution" By Manouchehr Ganji (2002), p. 103:

Before execution a virgin girl is forced to become the “temporary wife” of a prison guard, who rapes her, so that at the time of the execution, she would no longer be a virgin and “innocent” someone who is said to be “destined to go to heaven”

The Charleston Gazette, an anti-capital punishment article from
--> -->

-->Bahais were hanged for refusing to convert to Shiite Islam. Women were stoned for adultery. Gays were put to death. Torture, flogging and chopping off hands and feet under Islamic law became rampant. Amnesty International counted 5,195 Iranian executions in the first four years of the new government. "60 Minutes" reported that, because the Islamic code forbids execution of virgins, some condemned young women were raped by guards before being shot.


I think there is, by now, a certain accumulation of sources agreeing with the information provided in the J-Post interview that may suggest this is indeed a practice that is at least sometimes applied. And it is known to be applied. 

We also find out the reason why. A sexually innocent girl is bound for heaven after her death. The judgment by law requires that she be condemned to death, but her human judges do not trust God in his all-embracing compassion, to make the correct judgment about her afterlife. So they, human creatures, purport to pre-empt any possibility of reprieve for the girl. They decide that she will spend her eternity in Hell, and then they make sure that she will have no case, no mitigation, to submit to her maker. Not content with deciding her fate in life, they condemn her in the after life. 


-->According to Paul Ricoeur “Evil is, in the literal sense of the word, perversion, that is, a reversal of the order that requires respect for law to be placed above inclination. It is a matter of a misuse of a free choice... The propensity for evil affects the use of freedom, the capacity to act out of duty – in short, the capacity for being autonomous.”
Emmanuel Levinas:
"The essence of evil is its instrumental ambiguity." 

When I read this story, I recalled an episode in the BBC drama series "I, Claudius" in which the family of the conniving Sejanus is being murdered, including a very young girl. Even as fiction about Rome, I thought at the time it must have been highly exaggerated:

Guard: "The girl is a virgin. It's unprecedented to kill a virgin. It will bring bad luck to the city."

Macro: "Then make sure she's not a virgin when you kill her. Now GET ON WITH IT."

One commenter corrected me about the fictionality of the practice. Apparently, the historian Tacitus recorded it in the Annals, book 5, chapter 9:

"It was next decided to punish the remaining children of Sejanus, though the fury of the populace was subsiding, and people generally had been appeased by the previous executions. Accordingly they were carried off to prison, the boy, aware of his impending doom, and the little girl, who was so unconscious that she continually asked what was her offence, and whither she was being dragged, saying that she would do so no more, and a childish chastisement was enough for her correction. Historians of the time tell us that, as there was no precedent for the capital punishment of a virgin, she was violated by the executioner, with the rope on her neck. Then they were strangled and their bodies, mere children as they were, were flung down the Gemoniae. "

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A few of my favourite things

Bob from
, my socialist-internationalist-Marxist blogo-friend from across the pond, tagged me for the following meme:

List 7 things I love
Tag 7 other people

First, a soliloquy:

The last few months I have been living under a very heavy cloud of anxiety for my first-born. Some of it was exacerbated with my own inclination to worry myself sick over things that might not merit that kind of profound fearfulness. But I am always afraid that if I don't conjure up the worst possible scenarios, life would ambush me with one of its more unpleasant surprises and then I might not be ready with an action plan. So I purposefully imagine the worst and consequently and naturally I begin to sink into despair. Despair is not a good state of mind for writing and thinking.

I offer this explanation by way of apologizing to my Internet friends and readers for being very remiss in the last few months.

Things have been improving gradually but steadily, and seem to be gathering a good momentum, which is all I ask for. If I were a religious person, I would give thanks to God for this small gift. I even attempted to pray to a God I don't believe in, so distressed I was. And now I'm no longer sure that there is not some benign immanence in the universe upon which we can draw at times of great need and channel some of its good energy into helping us cope, resolve difficulties which seem so hopeless.

I can't say I'm bouncing off the walls with joy and lightness but I am feeling optimistic enough to answer Bob's tag with genuine liveliness and even some delight.


In answering the question, I tried to divide my life into several unscientific categories and chose one thing that I love best from each one:

Family - My two children, a son, 19, a daughter, 9.

Work - Literary translation; it's the closest I'll ever get to writing fiction and poetry.

Hobby - Walking. I used to love walking along the river that traverses the city of Fredericton, New Brunswick, where I lived for a few years. Especially in the morning, on sparkling summer days, when a soft breeze was blowing, immediately after dropping off my daughter at her kindergarten school. Always strangers would walk by and greet me with a smile and an empathetic good morning. I miss that. Montreal has its compensations but nothing comparable to that hour of almost pure peace of mind.

Music - Guitar Flamenco

Amusement - Reading, almost anything, anytime, anywhere.

Food - coffee

If I can't drink my bowl of coffee three times daily,
then in my torment I will shrivel up
like a piece of roast goat.

Mm, how sweet the coffee tastes,
more delicious than a thousand kisses,
mellower than muscatel wine.
Coffee, coffee I must have,
and if someone wishes to give me a treat,
ah, then pour me out some coffee!

(From JS Bach's Coffee Cantata)

People - Jane Austen, whose wisdom, wit and infinite understanding for human folly and potential for good leaves me often wondering how so much genius could be contained in the relatively short and uneventful life of such a person, at such a time as she lived. She understood the importance of writing and had a great value for the company of people:

"My idea of good company, Mr Elliot, is the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company."

"You are mistaken," said he gently, "that is not good company; that is the best. "

(Jane Austen's Persuasion)

I'll tag the New Dad on the block, Selma, Dvar Dea, Modernity, Sojourning Mike (because there is no reason without opposition), Terry, and the wandering Internationalist

With Bob's caveat: No obligations, and apologies if you've done it already!

Update: The New Centrist, who usually dislikes tags, obliged! And what a wonderful (and honest!) list

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Martin Amis and Christopher Hitchens

in conversation about Antisemitism and Saul Bellow

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

I have long estimated that Hitchens has somewhat mellowed on Israel and Zionism since the time he was friends with Edward Said and could hardly contain himself when given half a chance to vent. He still indulges from time to time but one can see that his heart is not in it. The change of tone and, may I suggest, substance, is quite explicit in this conversation.

When I saw this Hitchens’ honest tribute to Bellow’s talent I found it strangely moving. The last time I read about the two of them mentioned in tandem was in Martin Amis’s book “Experience” where a meeting between the two is described as nothing short of disastrous.

Amis recounts his memory of a visit during the 1970’s to Bellow’s house with Hitchens (the same incident is discussed by Amis and Hitchens in the conversation above). Saul Bellow was Amis’s hero; he loved him with the loyalty of a son. The evening they all spend together is like a runaway train, when Hitchens launched a “cerebral stampede” against Zionism and Israel’s “crimes”.

Amis says in his book: “a silence slowly elongated itself over the dinner table. Christopher, utterly sober but with his eyes lowered, was crushing in his hands an empty packet of Benson & Hedges. The Bellows, too, had their gazes downcast. I sat with my head in my palms, staring at the aftermath of the dinner. . . . My right foot was injured because I had kicked the shins of the Hitch so much with it.”

In the vids here, Hitchens shows great affection, respect and understanding for Saul Bellow. Is it possible that his disllusionment with Edward Said’s politics after 9/11, has eventually wrought forth a different, more sympathetic view of Israel and Zionism?

I am now thinking maybe it's time I began to take an interest in this author. I have a collection of short stories of his, I'll start from there.

We are flying to Tel-Aviv at the end of the month. I'll take it with me for the 13+ hours long Cross Atlantic flight.

A conspiracy of silence

Eamonn MacDonagh reminds us that justice has yet to be done, fifteen years after a truck bomb destroyed the headquarters of the AMIA Jewish community organization in Buenos Aires, in which 85 people were killed and hundreds injured:

2. Carlos Menem’s government saw to it that the initial investigation was carried out with the intention of protecting the authors of the attack rather than apprehending them. Judicial investigations of the cover-up have been going on since 2000 but no one has been brought to trial. The chief whistleblower in the original investigation continues to be the victim of threats and intimidation.

3. A group of corrupt police officers and a dealer in stolen cars was eventually tried on charges of having played a secondary role in the attack. They were all acquitted. A subsequent Supreme Court decision upheld the acquittals but deemed the basic narrative of how the attack occurred to have been proven. It also ordered further inquiries into the role of the car dealer in the attack but nothing has been done about this.

4. Argentina has been ruled by Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner for more than 6 years now. During this period there has been an improvement in the quality of the lip service paid by the authorities to the need to find those responsible for the attack. International capture orders have been issued for a number of Iranians suspected of involvement in it. The government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has thumbed its nose at them. No one in power appears to be unduly bothered by this and Argentina continues to have diplomatic relations with Iran.

5. It’s very unlikely that anyone involved in the planning and execution of the AMIA massacre is ever going to be convicted and sentenced for their part in it.

Hatred has no use for music and art

No explanations needed.

Two recent cancellations:

Palestinian anger with Barenboim prompts him to cancel Ramallah visit

Leonard Cohen
concert planned in Ramallah on the West Bank in September has been cancelled


Previous scandals involving music and cancellations:

One voice concert in Jericho- cancelled

A West Bank peace concert for supporters of a two-state solution to the conflict with Israel has been called off because of security concerns, the organizer said late Thursday. The concert was to have been held simultaneously in a football stadium in the Jericho and in a park in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv on Oct. 18.

The New York-based One Voice organization said the concerts were aimed at bolstering its campaign to collect one million signatures of ordinary Israelis and Palestinians demanding that their leaders sit down and finalize an agreement on a Palestinian state living at peace with Israel.
The concerts were to have been free, but concertgoers would have been asked to sign the One Voice petition.

Palestinian youth orchestra disbanded over concert for Holocaust survivors

Palestinian authorities disbanded a youth orchestra from a West Bank refugee camp after it played for a group of Holocaust survivors in Israel, a local official said on Sunday.

Adnan Hindi of the Jenin camp called the Holocaust a political issue and accused conductor Wafa Younis of unknowingly dragging the children into a political dispute.

He added that Younis has been barred from the camp and the apartment where she taught the 13-member Strings of Freedom orchestra has been boarded up.

And yet, it is Israel that needs "to engage in serious self-reflection."

Thursday, July 16, 2009

2012 London Olympics - A Zionist Conspiracy

Some Muslims are obsessed with Jews, or, as they like to say 'Zionists". They see Zionist plots everywhere.

Here is the latest I encountered:

... You may well remember the pride we all felt when as Londoners and Muslims our City beat Paris with considerable support from the Muslim world to secure the bid. In addition, you may also recall the bid video of black and Muslim faces and Seb Coe highlighting the importance of London's diversity in securing the Games.

However, scratch beneath the superficiality of the growing number of spin merchants at 2012 and ask yourself what exactly are they doing with our London Muslim council taxpayers money and how are they reflecting London Muslims in their work.

The first thing they do is appoint a millionaire banker from Goldman Sachs to be their Chief Executive. A man who seems to spend an inordinate amount of time taking "holidays" in Israel. Coincidentally, 2012 seem to have a very good relationship with Israel's IOC member Alex Gilady. Interestingly, he's often to be seen in the company of 2012 and when required for the world's media can always be relied on for a sympathetic quote.

The next thing they do is appoint Alex Balfour as their head of New Media. So what you may ask. Ah, Mr Balfour is the grandson of the infamous Lord Arthur Balfour former British PM who was responsible for the Balfour Declaration that led to the creation of the state of Israel. Have a guess how many Muslims Mr Balfour employs, I'll give you a clue, its below the number 1.

So what you may still ask bet they have a community relations team. Well, yes they do, but why is it their focus seems to be managing the concerns of a small minority of Zionist extremists who appear determined, at the behest of their political masters in Israel, to get a memorial built in London to mark the 30th anniversary of the Munich massacre of Israeli athletes. Have a guess how many Muslims they employ, again, I'll give you a clue its below the number 1.

"The cultural Olympiad" a so called celebration of culture has already been launched. What celebration of muslim culture and civilasation is included in the plans. Have a guess how many Muslims are employed by their culture team. No more clues.

Oh, and you may know that 2012 is being held during Ramadan. Oh thanks guys, so while we Muslims will be primarily although not exclusively focused on fasting, prayer and contemplation the rest of our great city will be focused on the world's biggest sporting event in our backyard.

I'll be returning to 2012 in future posts to try and uncover what return 1 Million Muslim council taxpayers are getting from an organisation that increasingly seems to be taking us for a ride.

Here is from one of the comments:

Personally I think enough Muslims have worked to build homes in illegal Israeli settlements, enough Muslim doctors have nursed Israelis in illegal Israeli settlements, enough Muslims have collected rubbish in Israeli areas and worked for the gutter elite in general (Tescos, M&S, Loyds etc). It is time for us sell out Muslims to stop offering our services to the gutter elite and zionists.

Paranoia, fantasy and megalomania ("Muslim doctors have nursed Israelis in illegal Israeli settlements"???).

At what point do you stop coddling and excusing this type of hatred in the name of the multiculturalist God?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Demonising Israel is a lucrative business:

Two stories:

I. Greeks bearing gifts get duped: Here is the report:

The hospital that was the focus of a campaign, which included the participation of Greece’s president and foreign minister, never actually existed.

For nearly a week in February, Greece’s official state television network inundated viewers with news about a telethon that would take place Feb. 9 to raise money to “rebuild the Christian hospital in Gaza that Israelis destroyed with their bombs” during the Israeli army's operation there in January.

In its announcements, the network made clear that it was referring to a specific Christian hospital destroyed by Israel.

The telethon included recorded video messages by Greek President Carolos Papoulias and Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyianni, along with a parade of Greek politicians, singers, public personalities and trade unionists. Many used the telethon to cast broadsides at Israel.

The campaign raised $1.67 million, according to telethon organizers, who said little Greek children had gone so far as to break their piggy banks to offer $14 to Palestinians in need.


No one was taking responsibility for the situation.

The spokesman for the Greek Foreign Ministry, Gregory Delavekouras, said, “Along with the Ministry of Health, it was our intention to raise money for the restoration of schools and hospitals, and more specifically for the medical center,” he said. Delavekouras could not say how the “medical center” morphed into “the Christian Hospital of Gaza” on TV.

One thing is certain: In a six-hour telethon loaded with Israel bashing, the Greek public was deceived that money contributed would go to rebuild a Christian hospital destroyed by the army of the Jewish state.

What remains unclear is whether organizers deliberately perpetrated the fraud or the telethon had fallen into the deception by accident.

II. Human Rights Watch fundraising in Saudi Arabia:

A delegation from Human Rights Watch was recently in Saudi Arabia. To investigate the mistreatment of women under Saudi Law? To campaign for the rights of homosexuals, subject to the death penalty in Saudi Arabia? To protest the lack of religious freedom in the Saudi Kingdom? To issue a report on Saudi political prisoners?

No, no, no, and no. The delegation arrived to raise money from wealthy Saudis by highlighting HRW's demonization of Israel. An HRW spokesperson, Sarah Leah Whitson, highlighted HRW's battles with "pro-Israel pressure groups in the US, the European Union and the United Nations." (Was Ms. Whitson required to wear a burkha, or are exceptions made for visiting anti-Israel "human rights" activists"? Driving a car, no doubt, was out of the question.)

... some would defend HRW by pointing it that it has criticized Saudi Arabia's human rights record rather severely in the past. The point of my post, though, is not that HRW is pro-Saudi, but that it is maniacally anti-Israel. The most recent manifestation is that its officers see nothing unseemly about raising funds among the elite of one of the most totalitarian nations on earth, with a pitch about how the money is needed to fight "pro-Israel forces," without the felt need to discuss any of the Saudis' manifold human rights violations, and without apparent concern that becoming dependent on funds emanating from a brutal dictatorship leaves you vulnerable to that brutal dictatorship later cutting off the flow of funds, if you don't "behave."

More, here.

Update: Jeffrey Goldberg, having enquired specifically, comes to this conclusion:

In other words, yes, the director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East division is attempting to raise funds from Saudis, including a member of the Shura Council (which oversees, on behalf of the Saudi monarchy, the imposition in the Kingdom of the strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islamic law) in part by highlighting her organization's investigations of Israel, and its war with Israel's "supporters," who are liars and deceivers. It appears as if Human Rights Watch, in the pursuit of dollars, has compromised its integrity.


"Human Rights" as practiced by these NGO's is a travesty. If they wish to pursue only human rights violations within democratic states then they should re-define their mission statements. If they are only interested in representing the human rights of Palestinians, they should state it, openly. They cannot however pose as a universal human rights organization which cares equally for all and then do something like this:

"Human Rights Watch, which was largely created and funded by Jewish donors to promote traditional human rights concerns, is now cooperating and seeking funding from the leaders of Saudi Arabia – one of the major violators of the norms that HRW claims to promote. This is consistent with HRW’s central role in the demonization of Israel, and based on the exploitation of the rhetoric of human rights. Under the leadership of Kenneth Roth, HRW has been active in the campaigns condemning Israeli responses to attacks from Gaza, as well as during the 2006 Lebanon War, the Palestinian mass terror campaign, and in many other examples, as documented by NGO Monitor.

An article in the Arab News praised Human Rights Watch for “gaining more recognition and support in Saudi Arabia and the Arab world.” The article notes that “[d]uring their recent visit to the Kingdom, senior members of the organization were given a welcoming dinner in Riyadh hosted by prominent businessman and intellectual Emad bin Jameel Al-Hejailan. Other prominent members of Saudi society, human rights activists and dignitaries were invited to the dinner held to honor the guests….Al-Hejailan said the credo of human rights is rising in the Kingdom. He commended Human Rights Watch (HRW) for its work on Gaza and the Middle East as a whole.” Indeed, HRW’s anti-Israel obsession was the major reason for Saudi fundraiser: “The group is facing a shortage of funds because of the global financial crisis and the work on Israel and Gaza, which depleted HRW’s budget for the region.”



Update: July 23:

Amnesty publishes a report on Saudi atrocities. That's great, says David Hazony, but why now?

And I ask: how can they have compiled a 65 page report since May, yet a complete silence characterized their scrutiny of the kingdom before that? Could it be that these incidents recorded in the report were allowed to collect dust in some shelved files somewhere until it became... expedient.. to publish them?

It's the Jews what did it

Libido-boosting chewing gum:

A Hamas police spokesman in the Gaza Strip Islam Shahwan claimed Monday that Israeli intelligence operatives are attempting to "destroy" the young generation by distributing such materials in the coastal enclave.

Shahwan said that the police got their hands on gum that increases sexual desire that, according to him, reaches merchants in the Strip by way of the border crossings. According to him, a Palestinian drug dealer admitted that he sold products that increase sex drive. The dealer said that he received the materials from Israeli sources by way of the Karni crossing.

Palestinian in-fighting - Israel's fault:

It is easy to say, and to a certain extent true, that
Palestinian divisions are the Israelis’ doing. But that does not excuse them, and it will not win them freedom. In Europe during World War II, ideological divisions between different resistance groups in Nazi-occupied countries resulted all too often in their betraying each other. Their divisions robbed them of the power to defeat the real enemy. Their liberation came not through their own efforts but from outside forces — the Americans the British and the Soviets. The Palestinians are playing the same destructive game — but there is no outside army about to free them.

Zionists killed Michael Jackson (It's a spoof, I suspect, but one that accentuates the bizarreness of all the other crimes laid at the Zionists' feet).

This was blamed on the Jinn

A family in Saudi Arabia has taken a genie to court, alleging theft and harassment, according to local media.

The lawsuit filed in Shariah court accuses the genie of leaving them threatening voicemails, stealing their cell phones and hurling rocks at them when they leave their house at night, said Al-Watan newspaper.

An investigation was under way, local court officials said.

Jews and Jinns

Sheikh Abu Khaled, an exorcist, said the number of possessed Muslims has more than tripled: "I suspect that Jewish magicians send Jinns to us here in Gaza. In fact most of my patients are possessed with Jewish Jinns.: Both Jewish and Christian Jinns are reported to be black in color, but the Jewish ones are distinguished by the horns growing from their heads.

(From: "Robert S. Robins and Jerrold M. Post"
Political Paranoia, the Psychopolitics of Hatred
Yale University Press 1997)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Two measures, two weights

“The outrage of so many outraged people outrages me.
On the scales of world opinion, some Muslim corpses are
light as a feather, and others weigh tonnes.
Two measures, two weights."
(Andre Glucksmann)

Z-word's Eamon McDonagh posts:

"Writing in
El País today, Moisés Naím condemns the silence of the Muslim world in the face of Chinese repression of the Uighurs and contrasts it with the indignation produced the the publication of a few cartoons in Denmark. Readers will be able to figure out for themselves the relevance of all this for the themes with which this blog mainly concerns itself. The following is my translation of Naím’s article."

Caroline Fourest wrote in Le Monde (translated by commenterPaula):

“The Arab world gets inflamed over the Palestinians but never over the Uighurs. Rebiya Kadeer [the Uighur leader who lives in exile in the U.S.] has an explanation: “In their eyes we are just Asians, and foremost, we are not oppressed by either the United States or Israel, therefore they are not interested.” Whereas 12 small Danish drawings sent shockwaves, the fact that Korans are burn by Chinese officials in Xinjang (information given by Rebiya Kadeer which I have not been able to verify) doesn’t give rise to the slightest of murmurs. When Uighur dissidents seek refuge in Muslims countries, they are immediately sent back to the Chinese authorities.”

Reminder: Martha Nussbaum about the silence of the world following the massacre of Muslims in Gujarat:

"I am made uneasy by the single-minded focus on Israel. Surely it is unseemly for Americans to discuss boycotts of another country on the other side of the world without posing related questions about American policies and actions that are not above moral scrutiny. Nor should we fail to investigate relevantly comparable cases concerning other nations. For example, one might consider possible responses to the genocide of Muslim civilians in the Indian state of Gujarat in the year 2002, a pogrom organized by the state government, carried out by its agents, and given aid and comfort by the national government of that time (no longer in power). I am disturbed by the world’s failure to consider such relevantly similar cases. I have heard not a whisper about boycotting Indian academic institutions and individuals, and I have also, more surprisingly, heard nothing about the case in favor of an international boycott of U.S. academic institutions and individuals. I am not sure that there is anything to be said in favor of a boycott of Israeli scholars and institutions that could not be said, and possibly with stronger justification, for similar actions toward the United States and especially India and/or the state of Gujarat.

I would not favor an academic boycott in any of these cases, but I think that they ought to be considered together, and together with yet other cases in which governments are doing morally questionable things. One might consider, for example, the Chinese government’s record on human rights; South Korea’s lamentable sexism and indifference to widespread female infanticide and feticide; the failure of a large number of the world’s nations, including many, though not all, Arab nations, to take effective action in defense of women’s bodily integrity and human equality; and many other cases."

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Field of vision

Do you remember the Seinfeld episode "The Shoes" in which George is caught leering in the direction of a young woman's appealing cleavage? It nearly costs him and Jerry the chance of a pilot, since the leeree was none other than the producer's teenage daughter.

MOLLY: Daddy? Are you okay?

RUSSELL (from bathroom): Yeah, sweetie. I'm fine.

Molly takes her jacket off. Jerry nudges George to sneak a peek at Molly's cleavage as she bends over and looks in her backpack. Jerry has a quick look, but George stares, hypnotized. Russell comes up behind George.

RUSSELL (angrily): Get a good look, Costanza?

Later in Jerry's apartment.

JERRY: What were you doing?

GEORGE: Well, it's not my fault. You poked me!

JERRY: You're supposed to just take a peek after a poke. You were like you just put a quarter into one of those big metal things on top of the Empire State Building.

GEORGE: It's cleavage. I couldn't look away. What am I, waiting to win an Oscar here? This is all I have in my life.

JERRY: Looking at cleavage is like looking at the sun, you don't stare at it. It's too risky. You get a sense of it and then you look away.

GEORGE: All right. So, he caught me in a cleavage peek, so big deal. Who wouldn't look at his daughter's cleavage? She's got nice cleavage.

JERRY: That's why I poked.

GEORGE: That's why I peeked.

A few days later:

JERRY: You know, it's a funny thing, because after the pilot got cancelled, we hadn't heard from you.

GEORGE: Didn't hear anything...

JERRY: Didn't know...we were wondering...what happened.

RUSSELL: It just didn't seem to be the right project for us right now.

So, what were you saying?

GEORGE: Oh...uh, because if it had anything at all to do with what you perceived as me leering at your daughter, I really have to take issue with that. I did not leer. Did I leer?

JERRY: No leer.

ELAINE (to Russell): Excuse me, are you using that ketchup?

RUSSELL (not noticing Elaine's cleavage): Uh, no.

GEORGE: Because, if I'm looking straight ahead, and something enters my field of vision, that's merely a happenstance.

RUSSELL: Under the circumstances, I don't really feel that we should be in business together.

ELAINE: Here's your ketchup back. You know, I had the hardest time trying to get some out. I mean, I just kept pounding and pounding on the bottom of it. Do you have any trouble?

RUSSELL (still not noticing Elaine's cleavage): No.

ELAINE (leaning forward): Do you have a...ketchup secret?

RUSSELL: No, I... ...don't have a ketchup secret.

ELAINE (flirtatiously): Because if you do have a ketchup secret, I would really, really like to know what it is.

RUSSELL (to Jerry and George, reconsidering about the pilot): Field of vision, huh?

This is what brought that episode to my mind:

"Manolo says,
the American and French
share the matters of mutual interest.

Poor Obama, who did not have the presence of mind to look away immediately. No one minds Sarkozy's appreciative grin, but Obama's fleeting admiration was made much of. After all, this sort of thing is expected from a French guy. But woe to the American President should he get caught ogling.

I Actually find his weakness for the female attractions quite endearing. Of course it happened exactly as George described and he is not to be faulted
if something entered his field of vision at an opportune moment ... merely a happenstance.

Overcoming Defencelessness

Posted on Sign and Sight is an interview with Claude Lanzmann, the fabled creator of the 9 1/2 hour documentary film "Shoah" about the murder of the European Jews in the death camps.

Lanzmann, according to the introduction by Max Dax has an impeccable Leftist provenance:

"The 83-year old was a Resistance fighter, a signatory of the Manifesto of 121 against the war in Algeria, he was a member of the red circle surrounding Jean-Paul Sartre, he was Simone de Beauvoir's partner for many years and is currently the publisher of Les Temps Modernes, France's left-wing intellectual conscience."

In 1994 he released another long documentary, "Tsahal",
a film about the Israeli army. The new release of this documentary includes a discussion between Lanzmann and Ehud Barak.
I found interesting Lanzmann's sober look of appreciation and respect for Israel's military power and ethos. I recommend reading the whole interview.

Here is a key passage:

In "Tsahal" I also knew exactly what I wanted to tell: the creation an army, the construction of an army, the creation of courage. This army represents a victory of the Jewish people over themselves. There had never been a Jewish army before. My film tells how Jews took their fate into their own hands to avoid ever become victims again. I show how they overcame the victim role and overcame a mental predisposition.

In the Israeli army life is valued higher than anything else. And yet every soldier in the Tsahal is prepared to give his life. Unlike other armies of the world, the soldiers of the Tsahal do not die for the glory of their fatherland, they die for life alone. You should not forget that the genocide of the Jews in the Second World War was not just a murder of innocents. It was also a genocide of the defenceless. My film describes the path to overcome defencelessness. It describes how the Jewish people empowered themselves with weapons and it describes the psychological metamorphosis that the people had to undergo, in order to build an army like the Tsahal, in order to be able to defend themselves, to be able to kill.

For decades, young Israelis have been growing up with the insecurity of knowing that no-one can guarantee that "Israel will still exist in 2025".

In this interview Lanzmann clarifies in no uncertain terms the repeated mistake made by nearly everyone who cares to weigh in on the I/P conflict, that Israel seeks to justify its very existence by making political fortune out of the Holocaust. Not so. Says Lanzmann, and I agree. Israel has vowed that the Holocaust was the last time the world witnessed the extermination of defenceless Jews. Israel makes sure that Jews living within its borders will never again be victims.

I know this is a troublesome concept for many Far Leftist Jews, represented by the likes of Rabbi Lerner, Richard Silverstein, Norm Finkelstein, Jerry Haber, Jews Sans Frontiers, to name but a few. They appear to prefer, seriously, the diasporic Jew. Hannah Arendt was sympathetic to this hankering for righteous powerlessness, up to a point, as she elaborated in her 1964 interview for German TV:

"..one pays dearly for freedom. The specifically Jewish humanity signified by [Jewish] worldlessness was something very beautiful... it was something very beautiful , this sundering aside of all social connections, the complete open-mindedness and absence of prejudice that i experienced... Of course a great deal was lost with the passing of all that. One pays for liberation. I once said in myLessing speech. . .

Gaus : Hamburg in 1959 . . .

Arendt: Yes, there I said that "this humanity... has never yet survived the hour of liberation, of freedom, by so much as minute" You see, that has also happened to us.

Gaus: You wouldn't like to undo it?

Arendt: No. I know that one has to pay a price for freedom. But I cannot say that I like to pay."

Arendt is a courageous thinker who is not easily frightened by the cards dealt by reality. Surely it is not a desirable condition for Jews, or any human group for that matter, to live in a state of perpetual guardedness, on the cusp of existential disaster, the way Israelis are required to do. But, she says, this is the price paid for the loss of the condition of defenceless victimhood. In a way, once Israel has lost its victim status, it has also lost what
Bertrand Russell called the fallacious claim to the superior virtue of the oppressed.