Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Broken Wills

From Selma in Tehran:

Rumors, you’ve rejected with hope…‎

What will you do with them, when they become news?‎

‎“Confirmed” becomes an axe…hitting you on the back…resting on your shoulders…‎

And when you breathe ‎If you breathe

Life burns a whole into you

Mourn, mourn, mourn

Hear their shrieks in your sleep…See their faces covered in blood …‎

When you look into the mirror…It’s batons and fragile bones

Walk around like wandering ghosts…worn away by memories that once, where reasons ‎to live

Hear your self cry, from far far away… hear yourself beg ‎‎

“Please! He is not strong enough…”

‎Sleeping on concrete floors, dark cells jammed with bodies, swollen, aching, bleeding…‎

Broken bones, broken jaws, broken hearts…broken wills.‎

‎ Hear your self cry, from far far away…

‎Where are my friends?‎


Update (Comment left by Selma):

Sitting here in Tehran, I feel even more useless. ‎
My boyfriend and five other friends were arrested 5 days ago, midnight, at their homes. ‎For 5 days we didn’t know if they were really arrested or were they hiding. The news is ‎confirmed now. They were arrested. ‎
The mere thought of them being tortured is crushing. I can’t sleep. I can’t think.‎
And there is nothing I can do. I don’t even know where they are. ‎
Every night I sit in the dark wondering whether I’m next. ‎
Wondering where he is sleeping tonight… Is he hurt? Is he getting anything to eat? Are ‎they going to keep him for days? Months? Years?‎
What will happen to them?‎
I’ve heard of some families who were called in to collect the bodies of their loved ones. ‎
I live here, and yet there is nothing I can do.‎
Walking the streets of Tehran for five hours…As if in a coma… looking around, i ‎wondered why the shops were open, why people were going about their daily business, ‎why nobody did anything to help my friends … but then, there is nothing we can do … ‎
I shouldn’t mention his name anywhere, because they’d put him under more pressure if ‎they assume that he is supported by people outside Iran. ‎
It’s crazy!‎

Update 2: Wednesday, July 1:

For anyone who imagines the fears expressed by Selma are exaggerated, read these latest reports:

Iranian authorities hanged six people in Tehran on Wednesday, state media reported.

All six were hanged in the morning, according to Esmatollah Jaberi, a judiciary official. The state-run news agency ISNA, which did not identify the six, said they were hanged in Tehran's Evin Prison. All six were accused of murder.

Iranian authorities routinely execute dissidents on bogus charges such as armed robbery and drug trafficking....


As the Iranian authorities warned the opposition on Tuesday that they would tolerate no further protests over the disputed June 12 presidential elections, a report emerged of the hangings of six supporters of defeated candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi.

Speaking after Iran's top legislative body upheld the election victory of incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, sources in Iran told this reporter in a telephone interview that the hangings took place in the holy city of Mashhad on Monday. There was no independent confirmation of the report.

Underlining the climate of fear among direct and even indirect supporters of Mousavi's campaign for the election to be annulled, the sources also reported that a prominent cleric gave a speech to opposition protesters in Teheran earlier this week in which he publicly acknowledged that the very act of speaking at the gathering would likely cost him his life.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

"Pray that God will accept my martyrdom."

From The Iconoclast, comes this report of the Mumbai killers as they were recorded during their murder spree:

At the other end of the line, 500 miles away, Akasha, a 25-year-old Pakistani, is squatting on the floor inside a besieged building in the centre of Mumbai with a murdered rabbi's mobile phone in one hand and a Kalashnikov in the other. He knows with complete certainty that this will be his last night on Earth. For his mission to be a success, he must be killed.

The two women hostages are on a bed nearby, trussed up and blindfolded. Another gunman, Umer, is dozing.

Now Wasi comes back on the phone. His manner is warm and paternal - the kind of calm, commanding voice you instinctively trust.

Wasi: 'Listen up...'

Akasha: 'Yes sir.' Akasha speaks in a gentle, dopey murmur. He sounds exhausted.

Wasi: 'Just shoot them now. Get rid of them. Because you could come under fire at any time and you'll only end up leaving them behind.'

Akasha: 'Everything's quiet here for now.'

Wasi: 'Shoot them in the back of the head.'

Akasha: 'Sure. Just as soon as we come under fire.'

Wasi: 'No. Don't wait any longer. You never know when you might come under attack.'

Akasha: 'Insh'Allah' (God willing).

Wasi: 'I'll stay on the line.'

The whole thing is here, including the deed itself.

Havel Havalim

assembled by snoopy the goon.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

About a dead celebrity, camels, humps and irony

I have nothing to say about the death of Michael Jackson. I think this post says pretty much all. However, I could not resist bringing you this snippet of a conversation I overheard on the Internet (as I sometimes do...) on the subject of Jackson. Not because there is anything valuable to be learned from it about Jackson. It caught my eye because of its exemplification of irony in its purest sense. I am very interested in irony.

In drama, irony is created when in a conflict, the spectator is provided with an item of information --an argument, a claim, an accusation-- that at least one of the characters in the narrative is unaware of, but the contrary of that item of information is known to be true. It is doubly ironic when the provider of that information actually passes judgment on himself, unaware that he is himself behaving in exactly the same way he accuses the other. Or more succinctly put, the camel never sees its own hump, but that of its brother is always before its eyes.

So here is the exchange. I changed the wording a little so as to prevent detection by google of the source:


Poster A: He was accused of something as disgusting as pedophilia. There wasn’t a shred of proof to support this accusation. That isn't just loony. That is an appalling accusation

Poster B: He paid off several parents of young boys in private settlements in the 7 figures to pre-empt their going to court. Do you think he just wanted to be nice to them? That’s quite apart from the evidence presented by the prosecution when he was brought to trial.

Poster A: He was found not guilty.

Poster B: That he got away in court does not mean that he was not guilty. Think OJ!

Poster A: Yes, so he paid them off. What of it? Those parents saw a good opportunity to make a little cash out of a big star, and succeeded. Give me a break. Why must you always think the worst of everyone?

Poster C (unaccountably): It's essentially the same argument that's raged over the Iraq invasion and the use of torture. If good comes out of Iraq, does it compensate for the present death and mayhem?


Pogroms and Death Camps

On Sign and Sight website:

Frankfurter Rundschau 23.06.2009

The author Isabel Fonseca reports on the scandalous treatment of the Roma in East Europe (also Italy), but primarily in Kosovo. Ten years ago when the Roma were driven out of their settlement areas by "ethnic Albanians", the UN refugee commission put them up in provisional camps, which just happened to be next to an old lead mine. They are still living- or rather dying - there today. "Ten years after the UN took over Kosovo, and after a series of unnatural deaths, miscarriages and countless newborn babies suffering from chronic brain damage (over half of the Roma living in the camp are under 10, every child born in the camp has some form of brain damage) there are no more than 700 Roma left. In 2007 the UN cancelled all medical supplies for cases of poisoning" and it has done nothing to get the Roma out of the death camp.

The anti-Roma plague does not remain on the Balkan outskirts of Europe. It can be found in different shape in such a place as Belfast, as we can see here:

One house in Belgravia Avenue was attacked by crowds of up to 15 on three separate nights, with police response times being hours later, and in one case, lunchtime the next day. The police have been heavily criticised for their failure to respond to the numerous calls the family and concerned residents had placed. The residents have since abandoned the house. Families at two other houses on Wellesley park and Wellington Park had also been targetted, with reports of one house being threatened with a gun, that family had also chosen not to stay in its house last night. The crowds that had gathered to attack the houses have been reported to have been posting literature containing passages from Hitler's Mein Kampf.

Friends of the Ayatollahs

It looks like Selma was right. The world, Western media and American media have found a new toy to play with. Iran has grown silent over the recent few days, and the interest has waned. But some of us are still looking, and finding out, about the kind of thug who is now installed for a second term in Iran and the regime that sustains him.

Here is an article by Karl Pfeifer on Z-word blog:

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was part of a death squad that killed three Kurds in Austria, according to Green party security spokesman Peter Pilz. He said Ahmadinejad had been involved in the killings in Vienna in 1989 and may have pulled the trigger on one of the guns used to kill the men. [-]

Khatami justified those executions like this:

“We’re at a university, the cradle of science, so we can speak of it scientifically. In all schools of thought and in all religions there is punishment and punishment is not a form of violence. Punishment is seen as a response to violence or deviance in society and if there is no punishment in a society a society cannot run effectively (…) As an expert of Islamic sciences I tell you that capital punishment is accepted in Islam (…) So yes you are correct homosexual activity is a crime in Islam. And crimes are punishable. (…) And that we must differentiate between punishment and violence.”

Khatami has also spoken out against women’s emancipation:

“One of the major mistakes in the West has been women’s emancipation which has disintegrated the family… Staying in the home does not mean being pushed to the sidelines. Looking after the home does not prevent one from a say in the destiny… We must not think that being social beings means having work outside the home. Housekeeping is among the most important tasks.” Salaam, May 11, 1997

Khatami described Israel during a meeting with Jordanian politicians when he was president as a “plague” and “the greatest enemy of Islam and humanity.” Iranian state radio quoted the president as saying during the meeting that in order” to resist this plague there is no solution except for unity among Muslim countries.”

Ben Dror Yemini, an Israeli journalist, asks:

Tell us, where is everyone? Where did all the people who demonstrated against Israel's brutality in Operation Cast Lead, in the Second Lebanon War, in Operation Defensive Shield, or even in The Hague, when we were dragged there unwillingly after daring to build a separation barrier between us and the suicide bombers, disappear to? We see demonstrations here and there, but these are mainly Iranian exiles. Europe, in principle, is peaceful and calm. So is the United States. Here and there a few dozens, here and there a few hundreds. Have they evaporated because it is Tehran and not here?

All the peace-loving and justice-loving Europeans, British professors in search of freedom and equality, the friends filling the newspapers, magazines and various academic journals with various demands for boycotting Israel, defaming Zionism and blaming us and it for all the ills and woes of the world -- could it be that they have taken a long summer vacation? Now of all times, when the Basij hooligans have begun to slaughter innocent civilians in the city squares of Tehran? Aren't they connected to the Internet? Don't they have YouTube? Has a terrible virus struck down their computers? Have their justice glands been removed in a complicated surgical procedure (to be re-implanted successfully for the next confrontation in Gaza)? How can it be that when a Jew kills a Muslim, the entire world boils, and when extremist Islam slaughters its citizens, whose sole sin is the aspiration to freedom, the world is silent?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Is there anybody out there?‎

The following message was left on my blog by Selma, the translator and poet blogger from Tehran:

"It's 3 am in Tehran. I'm sitting in the dark, waiting for a miracle to happen. ‎
Two of my friends who were at the protests today are missing. No sign of them, their cell ‎phones are off, no one knows where they are. We know a large number of people were ‎arrested today, but there is no list of detainees, no place to refer to, we don’t know who is ‎arresting them and where they are taken.‎
Tonight of all nights, I feel that “loneliness” with my flesh and blood.‎
I don’t dare write this in my own weblog. Just visited your blog to read your recent posts ‎and couldn’t help writing this comment here.‎
Yes, we have fought this lonely fight for a long time…‎
But is the world hearing our voice? Is there anybody out there?‎

From Tehran with Love - Selma"

A Visual Compare and contrast:

The blog Just Opinions offers a detailed exegesis of Jimmy Carter's body language as it is captured in a photo he share with Hamas leader earlier this month:

If he is saying anything, nobody is paying attention. Looked at as “body architecture,” the total effect is one of extreme instability and weakness. Carter looks inconsequential.

Out of curiosity I went looking for a photo-op from Carter's recent visit with the settlers of Gush-Etzion; the photo on the right it is. The difference could not be more pronounced, could it? The atmosphere is relaxed, the two men are equally and mutually engaged in the conversation, the facial expressions amiable, Carter himself seems to be a lot more at ease, an equal. Interesting, isn't it? What to make of it?

Here are a few links to photos of Carter's meetings with Arab leaders, and Israeli leaders. Is there a pattern to be perceived? Don't you get the feeling that when he is meeting Arab leaders, Carter assumes the role of a humble supplicant, almost palpably in awe of his hosts?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

When Human Rights fail...

In her speech before the Freedom Forum in Oslo,
Elena Bonner, wife of the late Andrei Sakharov, asks the attending human rights activists this question:

And another
question that has been a thorn for me for a long time. It's a question for my human rights colleagues. Why doesn't the fate of the Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit trouble you in the same way as does the fate of the Guantanamo prisoners?

You fought for and won the opportunity for the International Committee of the Red Cross, journalists and lawyers to visit Guantanamo. You know prison conditions, the prisoners' everyday routine, their food. You have met with prisoners subjected to torture. The result of your efforts has been a ban on torture and a law to close this prison. President Obama signed it in the first days of his coming to the White House. And although he, just like president Bush before him, does not know what to do with the Guantanamo prisoners, there is hope that the new administration will think up something.

But during the two years Schalit has been held by terrorists, the world human rights community has done nothing for his release. Why? He is a wounded soldier, and fully falls under the protection of the Geneva Conventions. The conventions say clearly that hostage-taking is prohibited, that representatives of the Red Cross must be allowed to see prisoners of war, especially wounded prisoners, and there is much else written in the Geneva Conventions about Schalit's rights. The fact that representatives of the Quartet conduct negotiations with the people who are holding Schalit in an unknown location, in unknown conditions, vividly demonstrates their scorn of international rights documents and their total legal nihilism. Do human rights activists also fail to recall the fundamental international rights documents? [...]

Returning to my question of why human rights activists are silent, I can find no answer except that Schalit is an Israeli soldier, Schalit is a Jew. So again, it is conscious or unconscious anti-Semitism. Again, it is fascism.

Indeed. How else to explain the discrepancy between the great outrage some Canadians feel for the fate of Omar Khadr, (the Canadian al-Qaeda child-soldier at Guantanamo, who was captured when he was fifteen years old while engaged in fighting American forces in Afghanistan and the total lack of interest, the deafening silence, about Gilad Schalit's fate?

The moral bankruptcy of such voices defies belief. These are supposed to be thoughtful, well-read people who think they are able to distinguish between right and wrong.

There is something malicious about that indifference, the sort of malice I thought had disappeared from Europe once the Holocaust became known, a malice allied to, or fuelled by, a sense of sanctimonious outrage. I think Bonner is correct that the only explanation can be antisemitism, in its post - modern incarnation.

The issue is not who takes the hostages, it's about those who are selectively active , who choose to ignore the righteous victim and go out of their way to protect the "human rights" of not so righteous victims. It's about that kind of rupture in the basic understanding of what the good and moral is.

This seems like an opportune moment to quote Martin Amis:

... when you come up against this question, you can feel the intelligence and balance leaving the hall with a shriek, and people getting into this endocrinal state about Israel. I just don’t understand it. The Jews have a much, much worse history than the Palestinians, and in living memory. But there’s just no impulse of sympathy for that . . . I know we’re supposed to be grown up about it and not fling around accusations of anti-Semitism, but I don’t see any other explanation. It’s a secularised anti-Semitism

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Hypocrite:

Last week, in Gaza: "Tragically, the international community too often ignores the cries for help and the citizens of Palestine are treated more like animals than like human beings," ... The starving of 1.5 million human beings of the necessities of life -- never before in history has a large community like this been savaged by bombs and missiles, and then denied the means to repair itself," Carter said.

Last week, at Gush Etzion: "This particular settlement is not one that I envision ever being abandoned or changed over into a Palestinian territory," the former U.S. president said Sunday after meeting with settler leader Shaul Goldstein, head of the Gush Etzion Regional Council in the West Bank settlement of Neve Daniel. "This is part of the close settlements to the 1967 line that I think will be here forever."

Sherry Mandel reports about her meeting with Jimmy Carter:

Carter may very much want to be a prince of peace like Christ. But a prince has to practice both kindness and justice, not just compassion. The danger of grace is that one will pardon those who practice cruelty. Carter believes that if we give enough to the Palestinians they will respect Israel and create a state that will not be an enemy to Israel. But that thinking has no precedent in the reality in which we live.

Look at what happened in Gaza. As soon as we "gave" the Palestinians the land, they elected a leader who is sworn to abolishing the Jewish state.

Kindness, giving without limits or conditions, can also be destructive. And giving with the wishful thinking that kindness will transform the Palestinians is a kind of delusion. We Jews have a saying: he who is kind to the cruel, will end up being cruel to the kind.

Sherri Mandell is perhaps best known as the mother of Koby Mandell. On May 8, 2001, Koby and a friend, Yosef Ish-Ran, played hooky from school to hike in a canyon close to their home in Tekoa. Koby and Yosef were found bludgeoned to death with stones, an act attributed to Palestinian terrorists, although the murderers were never found.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

History Class

When Egypt was in Gaza:

When I first visited the Gaza Strip after the Six Day War, I encountered a territory that bore stark witness to Egyptian aggression, callousness and inhumanity. For 19 long years, the area had been run directly by the Egyptian army. Under a "constitution" drawn up by the Egyptians, all legislative powers were invested in the Egyptian military commander, who controlled the civil administration. All political parties, except one endorsed by the Egyptians, were banned. The military governor also acted as the judiciary, and there was no appeal.

There were no elections. A puppet government automatically ratified all legislation that the governor brought before it. In 1965, even this façade of local autonomy collapsed when the Egyptian army dismissed the legislature.

The secret police probed everywhere. No one was immune from sudden arrest and unlimited imprisonment without trial or, at best, a secret trial. The jails were always full and torture was common. There was official censorship of the press and mail, and telephone lines were regularly tapped.

For nearly 19 years, the inhabitants of the Strip were prohibited from leaving their homes from 9 p.m. until dawn on pain of death. This curfew was enforced by roadblocks. Men between 18 and 40 were prohibited from traveling to Egypt unless they were fortunate enough to secure permits. If they failed to return at the expiration of their permit, the military authorities took steps against their families.The Egyptians seized property at will, while refugees were prohibited from owning land. Thousands of young refugees were forcibly conscripted into the Egyptian army. Many were sent to fight Gamal Abdel Nasser's war in Yemen; others were sent into Israel to murder, sabotage and disrupt communications.

Three-quarters of the able-bodied were unemployed. Medical and social services were almost nonexistent The Egyptians did nothing to help farmers, create housing or develop industry. The majority of Arabs in the Strip outside the town of Gaza were left to rot, without sewage, running

HATRED of Israel started at the very tenderest years. I saw pictures which children had drawn, with the encouragement of their teachers, depicting themselves killing Israeli children. The textbooks dripped venom. One text for the third grade, entitled Arabic Islamic History read: "The Jews are always the same, in every time, every place. They live only in darkness. They secretly plan to do evil; they fight only from hidden places because they are cowards. We must purify holy Palestine from their filth in order to bring peace back to the Arab homeland."

The Arabs of Palestine

In 1961, MARTHA GELLHORN... returned from a journey to the Middle East, where she went to see the "Palestinian Refugee Problem" in terms of real life, real people. In this Atlantic monthly article she reports:say about themselves, their past and their future.

"ACCORDING to Arab politicians and apologists, this is what happened, this is the authentic view, these are the facts. Doubt is treasonous. There can be only one truth, according to Arab politicians and apologists, and it belongs to them:

In 1948, war took place between five Arab nations of the Middle East and the Jews in Palestine. This war was caused by the United Nations, whose General Assembly resolved to partition Palestine into two states, one for the Palestinian Arabs, the other for the Jews. The Arab nations and the Palestinian Arabs would not accept this monstrous decision. They were obliged to protect themselves against it, with force. The United Nations operated as the tool of the Western Imperialists, notably Great Britain and the United States. The United Nations wanted the Jews to proclaim the upstart state of Israel. Because of the Western Imperialists, who favored Israel, the Arabs lost the war. By massacre, threatening broadcasts, pointed bayonets, and the murderous siege of cities, the Jews drove hundreds of thousands of Arabs out of their homeland. For thirteen years, these Arab refugees have languished in misery around the borders of Israel. The United Nations (Western branch) bears the blame for these events and must repair the damage. The condition of the refugees is a sore on the conscience of honorable men. The Israeli government refuses to welcome back to their homeland the refugees, now swollen to more than a million in number. This refusal demonstrates the brutality and dishonesty of Israel, an abnormal nation of aliens who not only forced innocent people into exile but also stole their property. There is no solution to this injustice, the greatest the world has ever seen, except to repatriate all Palestinian refugees in Palestine. Palestine is an Arab country, now infamously called Israel. Israel has no right to exist, and the Arab nations will not sign peace treaties with it but will, by every means possible, maintain the state of war."

It's well worth the read, how little has changed since then:


A lonely fight

What gets through:

“Can’t the United Nations help us?” one woman asked me. I said I doubted that very much. “So,” she said, “we are on our own.”

The world is watching, and technology is connecting, and the West is sending what signals it can, but in the end that is true. Iranians have fought this lonely fight for a long time: to be free, to have a measure of democracy.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

What do Palestinians make of the Iranian Events?

According to this report:

"Palestinian Hamas members are helping the Iranian authorities crush street protests in support of reformist presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, two protesters told The Jerusalem Post On Tuesday."

"Hamas formally welcomed incumbent Ahmadinejad's ostensible reelection victory on Saturday. The Palestinian Islamist movement receives arms and funding from Iran, and its members have often received training there, including in terror tactics and weapons manufacture."

"Amid the violence, confusion and government restrictions on communication, the accuracy of conflicting accounts is hard to ascertain.

"The most important thing that I believe people outside of Iran should be aware of," the young man went on, "is the participation of Palestinian forces in these riots."

Another protester, who spoke as he carried a kitchen knife in one hand and a stone in the other, also cited the presence of Hamas in Teheran.

On Monday, he said, "my brother had his ribs beaten in by those Palestinian animals. Taking our people's money is not enough, they are thirsty for our blood too."

It was ironic, this man said, that the victorious Ahmadinejad "tells us to pray for the young Palestinians, suffering at the hands of Israel." His hope, he added, was that Israel would "come to its senses" and ruthlessly deal with the Palestinians."

On CNN today it was reported that there were very strong rumours about the presence of foreign, non-Farsi speaking elements among the forces which try to clamp down on the demonstrations, though no specific nationality was mentioned.

In Iran, the presidential elections on June 12 saw 63 per cent of the electorate give incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad another term in office. Though the supporters of Mir Hussain Mousavi, the incumbent's closest rival with 34 per cent of the vote, claimed the election had been rigged, it is more likely that the Iranian people wanted to deliver a powerful message to the West despite the so-called 'Obama effect'. Elected on a platform of continued opposition towards US hegemony and the assertion of Iran's right to develop its nuclear capacity, Ahmadinejad will prove a resilient counterweight to the new American president's undeniable charm.

The US and the western media have seized upon the continuing demonstrations by Mousavi supporters in Tehran, hoping they are a prelude to some kind of 'velvet revolution' which will undermine the Iranian religious establishment. The fact that most of the demonstrations have taken place in Tehran and not in smaller cities and rural areas strongly suggests that they represent the position of the well-heeled elite, rather than the poor Iranians who form Ahmadinejad's core support group.

The Palestinian Bari Atwan makes light of the demonstrators and dismisses the legitimacy of their complaints. He may yet get to be right. Or not. Or maybe...

Atwan wishes that the world will stop hoping for an Iranian counter-revolution, which, he tells us, does not at all reflect the true will of the Iranian people. Perhaps he suspects that a genuinely democratic Iran with a sane leadership more concerned with the interests of its own citizenry will not be a Palestinian champion any longer, and thus the Palestinian cause will be demoted to what it always was: a local political dispute over borders.

As Martin Kramer observes in his pithy analysis:

"...the Middle East doesn't revolve around the Palestinians, and young Iranians don't intend to wait for Mahmoud Abbas (emir of Ramallah, where there is a "good reality") to get off his derrière before demanding their freedom. Iranians rightly think they're no less worthy of the world's sympathy than the Palestinians. (One of the chants of Iran's protesters: Mardom chera neshastin, Iran shode Felestin! "People, why are you sitting down? Iran has become Palestine!") Events in Iran have left Obama's simplistic mental map of the Middle East, first learned from a few Palestinian activists and an old Hyde Park rabbi, in shreds."

"We'll see"

As decreed by the wisdom in one of my favourite scenes from "Charlie Wilson's War"

Gust Avrakotos: There's a little boy and on his 14th birthday he gets a horse...

and everybody in the village says, "how wonderful. the boy got a horse"

And the Zen master says, "we'll see."

Two years later The boy falls off the horse, breaks his leg, and everyone in the village says, "how terrible."

And the Zen master says, "We'll see."

Then, a war breaks out and all the young men have to go off and fight... except the boy can't cause his legs all messed up. and everybody in the village says, "How wonderful."

Charlie Wilson
: Now the Zen master says, "We'll see."


June 26 Update:

From Z word blog:

On June 24, they published a letter by “Y.B., activist from within 48 Palestine“ (meaning Israel) under the headline: “In Palestine Ahmadinejad could win any election with much bigger margins.”

“I’m aware of the crazy defamation of Ahmadinejad in the west, where the hypocrisy of the left is converging with the self interest of the exploiters and the oppressors to pose ‘democratic’ racist Israel and the ‘moderate’ Saudi royal family and the Egyptian police state as natural allies for the western democracies. Here in Palestine, where people experience Western imperialism at its sharp edge, Ahmadinejad could win any election with much bigger margins without even campaigning…At last, Iran is one of the few states in the world where there are meaningful elections where people can make real choice. In this sense it is one of the most democratic states in the world. Of course, nothing is perfect, and we always aspire for the better, but in the Iranian election the Iranian people had to choose and they did choose the leadership that proved its readiness to serve their interest best, and not those of foreign imperialism or the local elites.“

Free Elections in a Muslim Country

While we all watch with held breath, the radical events that unfold in Iran, how typical it was to have missed this news:

Significantly, there was a high turnout of voters in the Moroccan Western Sahara region. Though this area is still the subject of international dispute, the local inhabitants' active participation demonstrated their self-identification as Moroccan citizens. The Saharans clearly prefer Morocco's reform-oriented government to Algeria's repressive regime.

Morocco's efforts to unify its diverse population of Arabs, Berbers, Jews and other small minorities are impressive. To attract more members, the Islamist Justice and Development party abended its religious rhetoric. Although it gained relatively more votes in the big cities, it came in sixth, with only 5% of the votes. In contrast, the royalist, modernist, and reform-oriented Authenticity and Modernity Party came in first with roughly 18% of the votes and won almost 22% of seats.

In this Muslim country--where Jews and Christians can practice their religions freely, conversion from Islam is permitted by law, a big church stands in the center of the capital Rabat, and alcohol is freely sold in the supermarkets--the regionalization reforms underway promise that Morocco will become even more tolerant. Indeed, Morocco should be used as model by its neighbors in the region and beyond.

Human Rights Watch: Urinating from the Diving Board

"In May 2009, leaders of Human Rights Watch (HRW) visited Saudi Arabia – one of the major violators of the norms that HRW claims to promote – to raise funds for the organization. Arab news reported that “senior members” of HRW – including Middle East Division director Sarah Leah Whitson, and Hassan Elmasry, a member of the International Board of Directors and the ME Division’s Advisory Committee – attended a “welcoming dinner” and encouraged “prominent members of Saudi society” to finance their work. HRW’s anti-Israel obsession was stated as the major reason for holding this 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.”

Whitson’s appeal for Saudi support and money acknowledged and cited HRW’s anti-Israel focus extensively, claiming that “Human Rights Watch provided the international community with evidence of Israel using white phosphorus and launching systematic destructive attacks on civilian targets.” As NGO Monitor’s systematical analysis demonstrated, HRW’s allegations were based on false and unsupported claims. But in pitching HRW to the Saudis, Whitson invoked the canard of “pro-Israel pressure groups,” which, she declared, “strongly resisted the report and tried to discredit it.”

Similarly, Whitson told the Saudi leaders about HRW’s role in anti-Israel activities in the US Congress and the United Nations, boasting that this propaganda campaign was instrumental in the UN’s “fact-finding mission to investigate the allegations of serious Israeli violations during the war on Gaza,” to be headed by Justice Richard Goldstone, who was also a member of HRW’s board at the time. (He resigned after the investigation began; as NGO Monitor noted, his membership on HRW’s board was a conflict of interest.)

Whitson also visited Libya in April, praising the totalitarian regime for its “spirit of reform,” and wrote about this visit in the publication, Foreign Policy." (Source)

There is a joke in Hebrew about a life guard in a swimming pool chasing away one of the swimmers for urinating in the pool.

“So what? Everyone urinates in the pool”, protests the culprit.

“Yes, indeed”, agrees the life guard, "But not from the top of the diving board”.

What it means is that some contemptible or at least unbecoming behaviours are done by lots of people, but those who indulge in such mischiefs at least have the grace to feel ashamed about it, enough to try to keep it as much as possible out of sight of public knowledge.

When, however, someone is caught with practically their pants down, oblivious to the odiousness of his or her behaviour, then we are dealing with some sort of psychosis, the death of shame, or awareness of indecency. It is one thing when a mentally disturbed person behaves inappropriately. It is quite a different matter when such behaviour is deliberately taken up by people who have full command of their faculties. It is no longer a behaviour. It is a calculated, purposeful policy.

Apparently, HRW not only does not bother masking its anti-Israel bias; it boasts of it, uses it as a tool to lure the appropriate constituencies for such a bias to give it moneys.

I don't know what you may call such fund-raising policies, legitimate criticism of Israel?

The minds that yield this kind of evil fruit, what could they be producing next?

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Obama: "The United States are "one of the largest Muslim countries of the planet"

In an interview with LAURENCE HAIM, CANAL+, reported in Le monde Barack Obama made some perplexing statements:

"The United States are "one of the largest Muslim countries of the planet", underscored US president, Barack Obama on Tuesday June 2, on Canal+, as he is set to make on Thursday an important reconciliation speech towards the Muslim world from Cairo, (see interview of Barack Obama on Canal+ here).

"The United States and the western world must learn to know Islam better. If we count the number of American Muslims, we can see that the United States is one of the largest Muslim countries of the planet" he says.

" Whatever their confession, it is those that build and not those that destroy who leave behind them an enduring legacy,” he continues. " I think there is currently a genuine conflict between those who believe that Islam is irreconcilable with modern life and those who think quite the contrary, that Islam has always evolved, keeping pace with progress”, he added.

Original French:

“Les Etats-Unis sont "l'un des plus grands pays musulmans de la planète", a souligné mardi 2 juin sur Canal+ le président américain, Barack Obama, qui doit prononcer jeudi au Caire un important discours de réconciliation en direction du monde musulman (voir l'interview de Barack Obama sur Canal+ ici).

"Les Etats-Unis et le monde occidental doivent apprendre à mieux connaître l'islam ; d'ailleurs, si l'on compte le nombre d'Américains musulmans, on voit que les Etats-Unis sont l'un des plus grands pays musulmans de la planète", a-t-il dit.

"Quelle que soit leur confession, ce sont ceux qui construisent et non pas ceux qui détruisent qui laissent derrière eux un héritage durable", a-t-il poursuivi. "Je pense qu'il y a un véritable conflit actuellement entre ceux qui soutiennent que l'islam est irréconciliable avec la vie moderne et ceux qui pensent qu'au contraire l'islam a toujours su évoluer en même temps que le progrès", a-t-il ajouté.


I'm tempted to speculate that this report cannot be for real. Is it an Onion spoof?

How many Muslims are in the United States?

A. According to an academic review of available survey-based data in 2001, informed by information provided by Muslim organizations and mosques, the highest reasonable total number of Muslims in the United States is 2.8 million.

A more realistic number, supported by statistically significant survey data comparable to what has been used to to calculate the sizes of other religious groups, is less than 2 million Muslims in the United States, or about 0.5% of the total population.

Estimates of the U.S. Muslim population of 6 million, 8 million, 10 million or more may indeed be correct, but are not supported by empirical data. Such numbers may best be understood as "spiritual" numbers, rather than actual numbers.

Can he mean that the US is spirit is one of the greatest Muslim countries in the world?

What does it mean?