Belgian multicultural frustrations:
After this story, comes this policeman's report:
Twenty years ago I was convinced that the young new-Belgians would quickly be assimilated. But now a generation of rebels without a cause grew up in Brussels who always feel offended and wronged. Never responsible for anything, it's always the fault of somebody else: of the government, of the racist Belgians. And also within their own families the young Maghrebian men remain unassailable. When the police in Molenbeek arrested a boy, the father immediately organized a protest because his son 'wouldn't even steal an apple'.
The efforts of the government in the problem-neighborhoods ensured that the youth don't feel the need to leave them, an ULB study showed last year. Thus you create the confines of a village in the big city.
Indeed, you never see young women alone in the neighborhood. And certainly not in the cafes: there they're not even tolerated. When a worker of the municipality asked for a coffee there, it was quickly made clear to her that she shouldn't count on being served. When I bike into the Merode-neighborhood, I know that far past the Zuidstation, I won't see one woman on a cafe terrace
Maybe we should ask ourselves once how it happens that we accepted that principles such as the freedom of the artist and equal rights for men and women don't hold for everybody in this country. Why don't we dare stand up for what is really essential: respect for the laws and values of the land where we live? A headscarf ban is no solution. But maybe we should consider how can assertively make clear that we dare defend what we think important?
It was to the credit of the Left to ask for more attention for discrimination and the social gap. The problem is sadly deeper: we were afraid to force our values on immigrants. Those values are really too dear for me to forfeit them.
The Contentious Centrist
"Civilization is not self-supporting. It is artificial. If you are not prepared to concern yourself with the upholding of civilization -- you are done." (Ortega y Gasset)
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Belgian multicultural frustrations:
Norm Geras of Normblog profile has a weekly Friday morning feature, in which a blogger is given a set of questions to answer. One of the questions asked is:
What would you do with the UN?
Here is just a sampling of the answers provided to this question:
I'm opposed to the attempts being made in the UN Human Rights Council to outlaw religious defamation.
I would replace it with a League of Democracies.
Have the UN Human Rights Council disbanded and replaced with representatives from countries vetted by a group like Amnesty International on the basis of their perceived respect for such things.
Expand Security Council membership and end the unilateral veto; but domestic political change in China would do more to change the UN than any institutional reform.
Move them to Sierra Leone or Rwanda.
I'd appoint Susan Rice as US ambassador - strike that, wish also granted.
Rename it as the Nearly League of Nations.
Reform it to reflect a non-Post-War era, perhaps better reflecting population trends right now, rather than who won the Second World War.
Make it rent its offices in downtrodden areas of town, and generally make it more of a humble organization. I'd like to decrease its bureaucracy by about 95 per cent, but don't know how to go about that.
I think the UN should be dealt with in the spirit immortalized in the words of former UN Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick's deputy Charles Lichenstein. Shortly after the Soviets shot down KAL 007, murdering all those people, legislatures in New York and New Jersey denied Soviet aircraft landing rights. Some at the UN raised the question of whether that body should remove from the United States. And Lichenstein, fed up and in no mood for 'diplomacy', said, 'We will put no impediment in your way. The members of the US mission to the United Nations will be down at the dockside waving you a fond farewell as you sail off into the sunset.'
Scrap it. It's an obscenity. Saudi Arabia on the Human Rights Committee? I ask you! It once served a purpose, I suppose, but the majority of UN representatives do not even speak for the people of their own countries, let alone articulate their interests.
Send them all packing and turn the building into condos.
Shrink it and keep it in a snow globe.
Turn it in to an international talking shop. Er... wait...
The biggest criticism of the UN, that it doesn't get things done, that it's useless, is false because it's committing a category error. The UN isn't an actor on its own behalf in world affairs, it is merely a forum through which actual actors (countries and the like) can co-operate if they choose to do so. So I'd leave the UN alone. It may be that there's a case for making a new club that only democratic countries can join. (But who counts as democratic?)
I would convert its headquarters into New York's most striking shopping mall. The murderers and thieves who rule over many of the countries represented there should be dressed in ridiculous costumes (I mean more ridiculous than their current ones) and made to stand behind a display glass. The oppressed people of their nations should then be flown into town to point at them and spend the contents of the human mannequins' Swiss bank accounts under their noses
And now, for something completely different:
Dubai Jazz (hearts) Holocaust-Denying Cartoonist Latuff:
It appears that Arabs have hard time recalling that there was history before they had come to a place and proclaimed it their own. Thus they are shocked when they realize that the world largely knows the Persian Gulf as the Persian Gulf and not the Arabian Gulf, which they had renamed after they subjugated the heathen Persians. Thus they believe they have a claim to Al-Andalus, or Palestine, or Chechnya, or Hertzgovia, or Kashmir ...
In a typical reversal of logic, Buj and DJ refuse to accept that the territory better known by the world as "The West Bank" also has a history of being known as Judea and Samaria, which is fully acknowledged in history books and even by the world.
response came in the shape of cartoons designed by a Holocaust-denying cartoonist.
There is something very strange about talking to you, guys. It's like stepping into a world where the rules of logic and knowledge no longer apply. A bit like Bizarro Superman:
" Superman's exact opposite, who lives in the backwards bizarro world. Up is Down. Down is Up. He says "Hello" when he leaves, "Good bye" when he arrives."
Here is a history of the Arabs in Spain, an example of how Arabs like to imagine their history to be:
Update: Dubai Jazz is filtering comments, too.
Too bad. Both these UAE bloggers are so afraid of verifiable historical records, names, records. It's as if their Dream Palace will come crashing down all around them if they actually faced up to the truths of history rather than continue to nourish their myths and illusions.
Monday, September 28, 2009
"Inglourious Basterds": The Poetics of Unexpectedness
I went to see “Inglourious Basterds” the first week it came out. The theatre was full. I was sitting next to a group of young men who were speaking in Arabic amongst themselves, and who seemed strangely elated, almost giddy with excitement and anticipation. When the movie ended, they were the only people in the audience who applauded enthusiastically. To this day I cannot quite make sense of a group of young Arabs getting so excited about a movie in which a bunch of tough Jews goes about Europe killing Nazis and scalping them. It will probably remain one of those enigmas, having to do with the least fathomable exhibitions of the human mind.
The two words of the film’s title “Inglourious Basterds” are misspelled. The correct spelling is: “Inglorious Bastards”.
If this were the title of the film, what would it signify?
Inglorious, according to the dictionary, means ignominious; disgraceful, obscure, deserving of neither glory nor respect.
A bastard started as the designation of an illegitimate child but has evolved in the popular mind to a derogatory term for a person who is mean or disagreeable.
So, when we read an “inglorious bastard”, what we should be conjuring from the noun and its adjective is a negative character, a villain to despise and shun, if possible. However, that is not quite the affect of “Inglorious Bastards”, is it? We seem to accept, apriori, a slightly ironic take on the traditional meaning of “inglorious” and “‘bastard”. What we look forward to is a sort of a lovable rogue, like Blondie from “The good, the Bad and the ugly” or more recently, Llewelyn Moss, from “ No Country for Old Men” .
In other words, audacious, sympathetic characters, pursuing morally-ambivalent goods by being thoroughly and uncompromisingly bloody-minded about it..
But what about the deliberately idiosyncratic misspelling of the titled?
Two possible explanations come to mind:
1. It is meant as an eye dialect, that is the deliberate use of non-standard spelling to draw attention to pronunciation.
2. It indicates a deeper, poetic motivation.
The acclaimed Canadian poet, Anne Carson explains in "Essay on What I Think About Most,"
...what we are engaged in when we do poetry is error,
the willful creation of error,
the deliberate break and complication of mistakes
out of which may arise
The first time I learned about Tarantino’s movie was sometime during 2008, when I read it in Noah Pollak’s post in “Contentions”. Here is what he said:
"Inglorious Bastards, in a nutshell, focuses on the escapades of eight Jewish-American soldiers who are parachuted behind enemy lines and ordered by their commanding officer to “git me 100 Nazi scalps”. It is not a Holocaust movie, as such. But it uses the death camps as a touchstone and therein lies the danger.
Of course, this would have to be made by a Gentile. A Jewish filmmaker would have the soldiers scalp some Nazis and then agonize over the moral implications of their actions for six hours, rather than getting on with the important business of scalping more Nazis."
Of course, Jews being Jewish should be superior human beings, clean of any suspicion that they might harbour anger or vengefulness towards anyone, least of all those who succeeded in decimating them.
And almost right on cue, Jeffrey Goldberg’s review of the movie fully lives up to Pollak’s prognostication:
The ending Tarantino wrote includes the mass incineration of Nazis and their wives, with Shoshanna screaming “This is the face of Jewish vengeance!” and the very last scene features one final forehead swastika-carving.
“Why isn’t that all right?” Tarantino asked me, when I noted the cruelty of that final image.
“Well, it’s torture,” I said. “Isn’t torture wrong?”
Ten seconds went by as Tarantino weighed the question.
“He’s a Nazi,” Tarantino said, finally. “They’re giving him a scar. I don’t know if I would even go so far as to call that torture. He’s scarring him. He’s not torturing him. What he’s doing isn’t so ridiculously painful.”
I asked if he’d ever had a swastika carved in his forehead.
“I’m sure it hurts,” he said. But torture, he said, is something different: an attempt to elicit information by inflicting extreme pain. In other words, the pain inflicted by Tarantino’s Jews on the Nazis was inflicted only to terrorize.”
“Given the chance, of course, I would still shoot Mengele in the face. That would be a moral necessity. But I wouldn’t carve a swastika into his forehead. That just doesn’t sound like the Jewish thing to do.”
Goldberg is treating the fantasy as a real life likelihood, (he is not the only one) and then tries to imagine what he would have done in similar circumstances, only to reject the possibility that he could ever be so vicious.
It’s not unlike all these people today who fantasize that had they lived under the Nazi regime they would surely have behaved differently; they would shelter Jews and would not betray them to the Nazis. Never mind the statistics. Tarantino, strangely enough, does try to assess this fantasy, in the first chapter of the movie.
Here is what I think:
The film is done in chapters. And the first chapter is the only segment in the movie which fully and accurately mirrors the reality of Jewish precarious existence during the Second World War in Europe. A family of Jews , sheltered by a virtuous French farmer, is found out and killed on the spot. Shoshana, the daughter, manages to escape somehow from the bloodbath and streaks across a green and freshly harvested field towards a wooded area. Landa, the spectacularly-acted Gestapo officer, nicknamed “The Jew Hunter” (a retroactive ironic fast-forward reversal play, I presume on the term “Nazi Hunter”) watches her as she runs, aiming his gun at her back. But he seems to give up on the idea that he can shoot her and lustily yells after her: I’ll see you later, Shoshana…
It is my opinion that the scene in which we watch her run for her life is a very important moment in the movie. She seems to run without arriving, running away without much distancing. There is some infinitesimal shift during those seconds which, even as I’m writing this, I cannot be absolutely sure whether I saw it or just imagined it.What I think is happening is a rupture in reality. At some point during her run, the action shifts from the actual, irreversible past as we know it, into the future fantasy which Tarantino concocted. From that point onwards, everything that unfolds is clearly in the realm of impossibility.
Of course the film is a fantasy about an impossibility: What characterized Jewish existence during the Holocaust years was their utter defenselessness, despite a few scattered and mostly unsuccessful small eruptions of Resistance, as in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, or the survival of a few hundreds Jews depicted in "Defiance".
I agree with Pollak, that this is a film whose premise could only be invented and made by a Gentile. This in turn, reminded me of a conversation I once read about, between Stanley Kubrick and Frederic Raphael, as they were working on the film script for “Eyes Wide Shut”:
S.K.: Another thing: that scene where Bill and the other guy walk away down the street. You say they're talking. What about?
F.R.: What does it matter? It's the end of the scene and they're a long way from the camera, with their backs to it.
S.K.: But what are they talking about?
F.R.: What would you like them to? They're a couple of doctors, right? So what do doctors talk about? Golf; the stock market; the tits on that nurse who's on nights...uh...holidays.
S.K.: Coupla Gentiles, right?
F.R.: That's what you wanted them to be.
S.K.: And we're a coupla Jews. What do we know about what those people talk about when they're by themselves?
Well, maybe Tarantino is giving us some insight into that mystery.
Update: January 18, 2010: The actor who plays Landa, Cristoph Waltz, won a Golden globe for his role in the film.
Christoph Waltz’s character [of Nazi officer Hans Landa] was amazing. I would have been very interested to see how, if Waltz had come to the museum, he would have been received.
Well, you know, Waltz’s son is a rabbi.
Yes. And I’m actually kind of glad about that. There are several qualities in Christoph that are very similar to Landa. Not the Nazi part, obviously, but his erudition and his cleverness. Because of that, I can actually make parallels between him and Landa and not get too worried about calling him a Nazi.
A rabbi… where?
In Israel. I had to check on a Yiddish word, and Christoph called his son in Israel, who is actually a Yiddish expert. Christoph is obviously a language expert himself as well.
Yom Kippur The liturgical, spiritual, introspective and biblical traits of Cohen's repertoire suited the pre-Yom Kippur timing of Thursday's performance well, with far too many poignant and resonant moments to enumerate here. Descended from members of Judaism's priestly caste, Cohen concluded the concert by raising his hands and reciting the traditional Priestly Blessing, one of the anchors of the High Holy Day services in synagogues around the world. One concert-goer was overheard smilingly and favorably comparing the experience to having been through Yom Kippur's arduous if elating prayer services, while others brought the liturgical link to more literal levels, taking the opportunity to convene for an Aravit prayer minyan in the intermission between the show's two halves. This is the only youtube clip from the concert I could find, Hallelujah
Bradley Burston has a fine piece in Haaretz, drawing lines of meaning between the cowardice, the vanity, the sin of boycotting Israel and this most sacred and observed of holidays:
This week we observe the ancient boycott known as Yom Kippur. We ask forgiveness for sins of a hardened heart, of judgmentalism and hatred, of a willful deceit of others and an unknowing deceit of ourselves.
For the sin of demanding that only others search their souls and repent. And for the sin of finding others guilty and passing sentence, without having the courage to allow the accused to face their accusers.
To the BDS people and their spiritual kin in Toronto, let me say just this: When you criticize Israel, for God's sake - if only for the Palestinians' sake - tell the truth. The whole truth. Not just your carefully composed cardboard cutout, the cartoon of the Jewish villain and the Arab martyr. And not from a distance.
Leonard Cohen was in Israel last week, in splendid form, from the report of it.
The liturgical, spiritual, introspective and biblical traits of Cohen's repertoire suited the pre-Yom Kippur timing of Thursday's performance well, with far too many poignant and resonant moments to enumerate here.
Descended from members of Judaism's priestly caste, Cohen concluded the concert by raising his hands and reciting the traditional Priestly Blessing, one of the anchors of the High Holy Day services in synagogues around the world.
One concert-goer was overheard smilingly and favorably comparing the experience to having been through Yom Kippur's arduous if elating prayer services, while others brought the liturgical link to more literal levels, taking the opportunity to convene for an Aravit prayer minyan in the intermission between the show's two halves.
This is the only youtube clip from the concert I could find, Hallelujah
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Comment Trail for Sunday:
Buj- al-Arab's sense of fun:
My comment: I don't think you fully appreciate the genius of this cartoon. It is a spoof on the myth that vampires are terrified of crosses. Netanyahu is depicted as a vampire while "Mother Palestine" is the virtuous Christian, who chases away the blood sucker with her version of the cross: the key.
Latuff, who won a prize in a contest of caricatures mocking the Holocaust, would have that kind of mindset. The Holocaust could happen because people had been conditioned to accept cruelty to Jews by centuries long indoctrination in the myth of the blooducking Jew, the anti-Christ Jew and what not. Latuff is one cog in the vast anti-Israel propaganda machine which works hard at making people think of Israelis (actually, Jews) in a certain way. He is doing his faithful part in building up for a second Holocaust, by dehumanizing and demonizing Israelis.
And it is little wonder that you, who spoke of the Hebron "massacre" would find this kind of humour appealing.
BTW, it is also a misreading of the vampire myth. Because obviously Israelis are not going anyway no matter how many keys are thrust at them. It is more of a wishful thinking rather than any realistic projection of the status quo.
Certainly this kind of cartoon and your admiration for it are unlikely to persuade Israelis that they can trust their Palestinian Arab neighbors to make genuine peace
But this comment by another blogger (a self-designated poet, no less) deserves attention:
He is doing his faithful part in building up for a second Holocaust
Oh one could only wish hope and dream!
UNclear Israel? Buj-Al Arab opines about a resolution that urges Israel to put all its atomic sites under UN inspection and join the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
"So, fanatic racist Israel can have nuclear weapons (and not much nuclear power) and (equally?) fanatic Iran is not allowed to have any of the above? Perhaps it's worth noting that Israel is Jewish and Iran is Muslim."
What I found interesting is the blogger's pathological inability to deal with historical realities. Check it out:
Here is my comment.
Remembering the Hebron Massacre: The blogger Solomon2 reminds readers of this event, points to the way an Arab blogger dismisses it, and asks:
"Would Israel even have to exist as a separate Jewish State if events like the Hebron Massacre hadn't demonstrated the failure of Arabs to stand for justice within their communities, so that if Jews were to live in their internationally-endorsed homeland, they would have to fight to establish justice themselves? And is this not similar to the struggles other minority population in the middle east have today?"
FWIW, I think Buj is a decent enough fellow who has a hard time dealing with a different version to truth than the one he was brought up upon. I do not read Arabic so I rely on Arab sources written in English or translations to learn about Muslim and Arab attitudes. Al-Jazeera is one such source. Al-Ahram is another. What I have noted in these two media outlets is the inability to differentiate between editorializing and facts, between inclination and opinion, between belief and recorded, verifiable history. Their reports overflow with sarcasm and hateful asides. I have been thinking there is little surprise that the much dreaded "Arab street" is simply simmering with anger and indignation against Israel, Jews and the West. Angry people do not think. When people are kept at a constant, low-level of anger and resentment all the time, they lose all capacity for self-reflection or self-criticism.
The dark history of Hebron The blogger, somewhat subtly, re-writes the event of the Hebron massacre:
Israel's West Bank settlers are often religious nutters who claim a divine right to live anywhere in Biblical Israel. This is true of the Hebron settlers, but they also cite another justification for their presence in the town. Before the foundation of the state of Israel, Hebron also had a Jewish presence. In the British mandate period, increasing Jewish immigration to Palestine from those committed to political Zionism led to increasing tension. In 1929 in Hebron, many of the local Palestinians turned on their Jewish fellows.
Reading this one comes away with the impression that the only Jewish presence in Hebron was relatively recent and consisted of "Zionist nutters". Since there has been recorded Jewish presence in Hebron since the early 15th century, the question is what is there about the real, recorded history of the Jews of Hebron that is so threatening to the blogger's view of the I/P conflict?
Your account is seriously misleading. There has been recorded Jewish presence in Hebron since the early 15th century. You can read about it here:
Since the material is all too available through the google tool, one can only conclude that the author of this account is at best willfully ignorant.
Witness in Palestine is a usual lachrymose account of Palestinian suffering, as compressed through the heated the heated imagination of the "witness". In her telling of the Hebron massacre she writes: "In 1929, some 30 Jews were brutally murdered by Palestinians who resented their growing presence in Hebron... the vast majority of Jews killed in the massacre were recent immigrants from Europe, because most of the native Hebron Jews were saved by their Muslim neighbors who hid them in their homes."
In my comment I corrected her about the number. There were 67 Jews who were massacred.
Surely a detail such as this would not have been all that hard to find out, would it? Why would she try to reduce the number of Jews killed in Hebron, I wonder?
What's in a name: @ Z-word blog
"...examining how racists of both leftist and rightist varieties will vilify a person not because of what they say, but because of what they are called. Barack Hussein Obama. "
Friday, September 25, 2009
High Heels and Muslim Prayer
Via: Islam in Europe
"A work by a young French artist, put up in a display window in Brussels, has caused negative reactions. The display had to be taken down.
The work is by Mehdi-Georges Lahlou. It displays a prayer area for Muslims, and in the middle of men's shoes, a pair of women's shoe with high heels.
The work caused negative reactions from passers-by. People threw stones at the shop window, spit at it, and the shop window was vandalized."
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Facts and Opinions and Cognitive Dissonance
The UAE blogger Buj Al Arab, to whom I introduced you here and whose further contributions you can also read here, posted a critique of the website "Palestine Facts" which I linked to during our discussion to explain to him that there was no such defined and separate polity as a Palestinian people before 1964.
He makes a good case about the anonymity of the editorial stuff:
"No one seems to want to claim responsibility for this website, as this paragraph quoted from the FAQ section demonstrates:
"There is no one individual editor. The site has been prepared by a team of writers and editors who are knowledgable of the history, politics, economics and military situation in the Middle East, based on information compiled from the best available sources. They have developed Palestine Facts to provide much-needed factual information to everyone who may be interested in the current situation in Israel, how it evolved to today's status, and what might be reasonable policies for the future."I wonder how many of those "team of writers" are Zionist? or Arab? Would you trust the opinion of someone without a name?
However, I have a quibble with his objection. The source "Palestine Facts" provides facts and interpretation (Or, what Buj calls "propaganda"). "Opinion" belongs in the latter category.
Opinion need not be trusted. That is why it is called an opinion. An opinion can make sense if it relies on good arguments and verifiable facts. For example, when Ahmadinejad states that the Holocaust never took place, then he is obviously offering his opinion on the matter. Since his opinion is neither based on facts or knowledge or rationality, then of course all intelligent people reject it out of hand.
Facts are a different species. According to John Adams, the second president of the United States) “Facts are stubborn things,” and, as Simon Schama, in a very recent article, further elaborates here "democracy stands or falls with the courage of its history... .History beckoned ... to be brave, eloquent and indignant on behalf of the imperishable truth."
Facts can be checked, scrutinized, rebutted or verified. So, when the website under discussion refers to the area known as the West Bank as Judea and Samaria, it is basing its reference on historically verifiable facts and records. The region was politically renamed by the Jordanians "West Bank" after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, when the territory was unilaterally incorporated as Jordanian-controlled territory . The areas of Samaria and Judea conquered by Jordan were renamed the West Bank (of the Jordan river). (wiki)
In other words, whether the authors of this website are anonymous or not does not affect the status of the facts the provide. Those facts will not be any differentwhether the editors choose to name themselves or not. Why they prefer it this way, I have no idea. However, I know I prefer to preserve my anonymity and I suspect that Buj Al Arab is not the blogger's name, hence, he too prefers anonymity.
As you can infer from his bad-tempered comments, Buj Al Arab seems to have a problem separating fact from fiction, and continues to substitute inclination for opinion, and invective for argument.
You can check out Buj Al Arab's blog here. His latest post, comparing Israel and Iran is a case in point.
I could make these points on Buj al Arab's blog but as you can see from the overflow of sarcastic venom in which he and his guests couch their opinions when it comes to Israel, it seems like an exercise in futility. Somehow he doesn't seem to follow his own demand for civilized discourse when it comes to the Jewish ("Zionist") members of the universe. And considering how and what Arabs are taught to think of Jews, I am hardly surprised. To paraphrase one commenter here: Most Arabs view the existence of an independent Jewish State as a "cosmic insult".
Update: A link, automatically generated to the post under discussion, which was there last night, disappeared this morning. A blogger can delete any unwanted links and the link to this post of mine was deleted, probably by Buj al Arab. Apparently, he cannot bear his arguments and facts to be challenged. It is a strange type of cognitive dissonance, after the promise of fairness and responsibility he makes:
"...we're not perfect.. but we have a responsibility to be fair towards ourselves and those we disagree with."
Update2: The link has been restored.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Canada's Moral Courage
Norm points out how easy it is to show moral leadership, even in the UN:
"..Canada will boycott Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech at the United Nations on Wednesday, saying his outbursts about the Holocaust and Israel are "shameful."
And , adds Norm,
"Germany is urging a walkout if Ahmadinejad repeats his denial or any other anti-Semitic statements."
Sadly, for the prevaricating Germans, Ahmadinejad's solid public record as a Holocaust denier, an antisemite and a would-be genocider is insufficient at this point to merit a more decisive gesture of rebuke and moral disgust.
Book Burning and Book keeping
I wrote about Farouk Hosni, here.
Now it appears that, contrary to expectations, he will not be the next Director-General of UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
I share Solomonia's pleasure,
and am little surprised that the civilized Egyptian (who lost the nomination by only 4 votes) blames who-but-the-Jews in the failure of his pitch for the prestigious seat:
Egypt's culture minister says a Western conspiracy "cooked up in New York" prevented him from becoming the next head of the U.N.'s agency for culture and education.
Farouk Hosny says "European countries and the world's Jews" wanted him to lose.
He really cannot wrap his mind around the possibility that a public statement such as this: "if any Israeli books were found in Egyptian libraries, he would burn them" may not be an asset when you seek a role whose defining commitment is the promotion of cultural pluralism and rapprochement among the nations.
No self-reproach. No self-reflection. No growth.
Update: Norm has the last word
A Handsome and Eloquent Man Makes a Brilliant speech at the UN
"Stunning" would be a euphemism.
The Libyan leader, making his first trip to America, is obviously discomfited by his jet lag. He complains to the General Assembly that he woke up at 4am New York time "because it was morning in Libya". Mr Gaddafi has the answer: Move the UN somewhere "comfortable'.
That would have the added advantage of security, he says, suggesting al-Qaeda may try to attack the UN in New York. "American may be targetted again, perhaps by a rocket, and tens of heads of state may die," he warns. Moving the UN "is not an insult to America. This is a service to America."
He tells the assembled world leaders: "You will thank me for the proposal of (reducing) the suffering of flying for hours to come to this place."
For Mr. Obama personally, however, he had only warm words, calling on the collected nations to welcome “our son” on the occasion of his first United Nations appearance. “We are content and happy if Obama can stay forever as the president of America,” he said, and added that he feared America would return to its old ways after the end of Mr. Obama’s term.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Sword and Satire
When a little known Danish magazine published its series of cartoons satirizing Islamic historical figures,
"this led to protests across the Muslim world, some of which escalated into violence with police firing on the crowds (resulting in more than 100 deaths, all together), including setting fire to the Danish Embassies in Syria, Lebanon and Iran, storming European buildings, and desecrating the Danish, Dutch, Norwegian and German flags in Gaza City. While a number of Muslim leaders called for protesters to remain peaceful, other Muslim leaders across the globe, including Mahmoud al-Zahar of Hamas, issued death threats. Various groups, primarily in the Western world, responded by endorsing the Danish policies, including "Buy Danish" campaigns and other displays of support. Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen described the controversy as Denmark's worst international crisis since World War II" (wiki)
When a little known Swedish magazine published a blood libel against the state of Israel, it led to the journalist being awarded some fame and fortune for "Excellence in Journalism". It also led to some horrendous violence being perpetrated by some Israeli punks in what is the mediatic equivalent of hissing and sticking out one's tongue.
Here is the youtube (careful, graphic content!)
(primi- primi- primi-tive and phlegmatic
Soul of a troll, brain the size of a nut
Always a repugnant putz...)
Apparently, sticking out the tongue is a civilized evolution to the more effective measure of spitting at someone by way of demonstrating contempt.
According to Simply Jews the video
"became an instant success in Scandinavia, where thousands of viewers were followed by hundreds of indignant commenters - in all languages. Quite funny and educational at the same time.
So, what is the lesson of that story? Sometimes, it appears, a swift grass roots slap in the face reaches the desired goal much quicker than a slow and ponderous diplomatic demarche that hasn't any chance to start with."
HRW's Zionist Credentials
Saudi Jeans cannot figure out why Israelis think that HRW is “maniacally anti-Israel”:
Few weeks ago, when Human Rights Watch criticized Saudi Arabia for detaining thousands of terror suspects without charge or trial, he came out saying he has strong evidence that HRW is a zionist organization, because according to him they overlook Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians. Well, Israelis think that HRW is “maniacally anti-Israel” because the organization have recently done some fund rising efforts in Saudi Arabia. Go figure.
I tried to provide an explanation, but I wouldn't count on anyone reading that blog trying to see the sense of it.
I have a theory. Is it possible that HRW periodically publishes routine lengthy anti-Israeli rants in the form of "Human rights" abuses "reports" in order to be able to criticize Saudi atrocities? Is this methodology a sort of Mephistophelean transaction, that would allow HRW to actually do some good in the darker parts of the world? And should Israel give a damn about the goals of HRW's satanic deals with itself in the service of a more equitable universal justice?
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
Happy New Year
We are ringing in year 5770 (Hebrew: ה'תש"ע , abbr.: תש"ע).
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
"The leather SS jacket makes my blood go cold it is so COOL!”
We heard about the most recent Human Rights Watch kerfuffle involving one of their star military "experts", Marc Garlasco. He is an aficionado collector of Nazi memorabilia and an enthusiast whose Internet name is flak88, accompanied by a screen logo of German badge with a swastika.
In a 2005 comment, responding to a posting of a photo of a leather SS jacket, Garlasco wrote, “That is so cool! The leather SS jacket makes my blood go cold it is so COOL!” The jacket owner replies, “Great feedback mein Freund! . . . Gott mit uns [God is with us]!]. (Source)
This barely suppressed giddy admiration for a piece of military uniform came into my mind when, a couple of days ago, as I was looking for some information about Golda Meir, I happened upon this quote from her:
"We have been obliged to become good soldiers, but not with joy," she said. "We are good farmers with joy. It's a wonderful thing to go down to a kibbutz deep in the Negev and remember what it was--sand and sky, maybe a well of brackish water--and to see it now green and lovely. To be good soldiers is to our extreme necessity, but there is no joy in it."
She said this many years ago, but the sentiment has not much changed. To be a good soldier is to be a disciplined being, in control of one's body and emotions, in the service of a future and defense of life. The life of family, friends, nation. It is a duty and an honour to be undertaken with motivation and readiness. Israeli boys and girls do their military service, wear their uniform, carry out their duties. When they come home, the first thing they do is take off the uniform. They would much rather forget for a day or two that they are soldiers. Mom washes the discarded uniform, irons them with all creases in the right place so as not to get her precious baby in trouble. The army has rules about everything. The feeling of pride that Israeli parents get from looking at their offspring in army uniform has to do with the realization that these are already adults, that they do their duty and do not whine about the hardships.
David Mamet captured that special kind of pride when he wrote this (#7):
He is Michael Oren, the Horensteins' cousin, author of the piece on Wingate and, incidentally, of "Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East." He is a scholar and saw the eponymous war (1967), and several others, as a paratrooper in the IDF. With him is his son, Yoram, an 18-year-old on half-day leave from his unit, an ultra-elite helicopter rescue squad in the IDF. The young man leaves, and Michael says, "When he came home last night, he was short one of his uniform shirts, so I lent him one of mine." This offhanded statement is the greatest expression of parental pride I have ever heard.
The uniform is not an object of admiration. Once the military service is done, the uniform goes into the back drawer, to be taken out only when reserve duty calls or a war has broken out. There is nothing playful or awe-inspiring about these uniforms.
What a military uniform is not, and should not be, is a source of joy. Joy should not be inspired by the sight of a military uniform, certainly not the kind of nearly orgasmic pleasure that flak88 (Marc Garlasco) feels when he looks at a leather SS jacket. There is something seriously disturbing about such a gushing over such an object.
Garlasco, of course, is no longer a soldier. The US Military should congratulate itself on that. Imagine, after the disgrace of Abu-Ghraib, if it were revealed that one of its finest warriors nearly faints with delight whenever he sees a leather Nazi-uniform.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
“He asked me why I was once again slandering the Islamic Republic. ‘Nothing illegal is taking place here. Everything that has happened has been religiously sanctioned by the Leader in his battle against you, Mousavi and Karoubi scum. Now sign.’. I again refused. He punched me in the face and then hit me above my eye with his pistol,” Ardeshir said.
After being beaten and raped again by two Basiji Ardeshir finally signed the “confession” which said that opposition leaders and the foreign media had encouraged him to engage in anti-regime activities, and was released."
A commenter on Mick Hartley's blog reminded us that "These people will have the bomb some day'
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Random Sightings on the Internet
There is a song by the Israeli singer Yehudit Ravitz which says:
Things you see from there
you cannot see from here.
Sometimes I wander about the Internet and stumble upon some comment or post that for some reason draws my attention. So, I decided to visit a few Arab blogs written in English. Here are a few of the comments that caught my eye. If I had to describe what mostly strikes me about the positions expressed in these blogs, I would have the say first of all "cognitive dissonance":
".. an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding two contradictory ideas, attitudes and beliefs, the awareness of one's behavior, and facts. 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" (wiki)
I was happy when 9/11 happened...
Am I sad that 3000 people had to die for them to learn this lesson? NOPE. People die every day. The US has CAUSED more deaths in the last 3 decades than any terrorist, combatant, or whatever has. ...
Still not sorry it happened. Infact I kind of wished a 3rd plane had hit the statue of liberty.
The words "Innocent" and "American" dont go together in my mind. Sorry. NO American is innocent.
... As for Islam, technically it means Submission to the will of God. Salam is peace.
.... islam is a religion that is peaceful EXCEPT when you are in a state of war.
We are in a state of war. And every time I see an American soldier die on CNN I laugh my ass off.
It really is what they deserve.
The above two comments were made by a blogger whose profile is for the most part a rather predictable catalogue of American movies, American music, American authors. Ironically, he who laughs his ass off whenever he hears about the death of an American soldier cites C.S. Lewis as one of his favourite reads. Go figure.
Here is from a post on a blog named "Muphrida":
She is not only Jewish, but a flamin’ Zionist and proud of it. Israel all the way and by any means. She is aware of her impartiality and doesn’t hide it. However living in North America has given her a taste of what it is like to live outside a conservative society where everyone knows who you are and what you’re doing and your business is everyone and their mother’s business. She dated some non -Jews and she liked them. But her zionism prevented her from admitting to herself that she was okay with dating and marrying a non-Jew. Actually, what really prevented her was her family’s view on the topic. As an Arab girl I could completely relate to the threat of death, hanging and sequestration if we so as much look at a guy, let alone if he was a foreigner . Every trip back to the Jewish quarter renewed her allegiance to the Israeli cause, and she repeated again and again that she DID want a Jewish husband because he will be the only one that understands her. What’s funny is that all the Jewish guys she dated didn’t.
"I treat every person with the same respect that they deserve and I wish all Emaratees would do the same. When I ask the dekan guy for Chips Oman from my cushiony car seat, I say please and thank you, and I don’t yell because a lot of locals seem to think those guys are deaf. When I enter the bathroom and there’s the Napkin woman sitting in the corner, I acknowledge her presence with a smile. I’m not better than her. She’s sure as hell stronger than me to take a job inhaling people’s stinky odors all day to participate in the survival race. I would be twitching by the gutter by now."
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
A Fanatic Jewish Zionist Settler Snake
Eyewitnesses said a snake at least one meter long bit a woman on farmland near Salfit...
Locals, who have often accused Ariel settlers of releasing wild boars into villages and farmland, said the snake was likely released from the nearby settlement, noting it escaped after the attack toward the confiscated land.
Monday, September 07, 2009
The Double Standard
Eamon McDonagh on Z-Word blog about proportionality in time of war and the political hypocrisy of Europeans:
... it may have escaped your attention that last Thursday Spanish forces killed 13 members of the Taliban without suffering so much as a scratch on their own side.
We know that they were members of the Taliban because there were independent NGO or ICRC people on the spot who checked and made sure that none of the dead were civilians who grabbed the family AK47 and stuck their heads outside when they heard the firefight start, don’t we? It’s inconceivable that the Spanish soldiers on the spot might have sought to avoid future embarrassing questions by making sure there was a weapon close to each dead Afghan, isn’t it? Even to hint at the possibility of such a thing would be to stain the honor of a noble army, wouldn’t it?El País of Madrid is the newspaper that reports the story. If a Palestinian falls over and twists his ankle within sight of Israeli soldiers El País is quick to talk of the thirst for blood inherent in the makeup of the only army in the world that has mostly Jewish members.
The Israeli journalist, Ben Dror Yemini, in the past, drew attention to the exact same double standard in the reporting and attention given to events in war time. Here is a reminder, via Solomonia:
We, Israelis, owe no explanations to the Europeans. They owe us explanations. The Taliban has not fired any rocket into any European city. Hamas shoots into Israeli towns. The Taliban does not proclaim a sacred desire to kill all Europeans. Hamas promotes the killing of Jews in its charter and Hamas leaders repeat this instruction religiously in their sermons. Yet Europeans continue fighting in Afghanistan, justifying their war on the grounds that they are at war against a central faction of Islamic fanaticism, just like Israel fights against the Hamas. Moreover, the Hamas' threat to Israel's security and future is far greater and more immediate than any threat the Taliban poses to Europe.
So why are Europeans allowed to conduct a war on territory that is thousands of miles removed from their homes, kill hundreds or thousands of innocent civilians and claim that their cause is necessary, while Israel cannot do the same? By what right do they absolve themselves while condemning Israel?
Thousands of Taliban fighters die each year as compared with "just" a few tens of European soldiers. Hundreds or thousands of civilians die in Afghanistan, as compared to zero civilian casualties in Europe. So you, in Europe, purport to lecture to us, Israelis, about war ethics and "proportional responses?" Are you for real?Just so as to remind and to ask you why you think Europeans' blood boils at such high temperatures when it is Israel, engaged in a defensive war against an implacable and relentless enemy, that does the killing? What exactly is it about Israel that causes this aberration?
Very Funny: One tsunami too far
There is no accounting for some people's sense of humour, or what they imagine passes for satirical comment.
Take this picture, for example, and note the narrative (and subsequent comments) tacked on to it.
The logic adduced to this poster by the blogger suggests that the fifteen jihadists who perpetrated 9/11 were not human beings carefully hand-picked and groomed to carry out their evil scheme but were rather a random force of nature whose indiscriminate violence was not under the control of thinking, planning, deliberative human intelligence. Therefore, some people find American reaction funny in the extreme, since there is no way of retaliating and preventing natural disasters.
I would caution against identifying the exterminationalist Islamism which produced 9/11 (and Madrid, and London, and Indonesia etc etc) with uncontrollable forces of nature. It does not represent great intelligence on the part of those who find such analogies entertaining.
If any of you find this kind of bizarre "satirical" humour disturbing, I'd like to remind you that it is just one small example of a "new" type of thinking about America, 9/11 and the war on terrorism which has become pretty popular among an increasing number of members of the so-called "left".
Martin Amis once described it in a sort of "modest proposal":
... I started looking from face to face in the audience, and what I saw were the gapes and frowns, not of disagreement, but of disbelief. Then a young woman spoke up, in a voice near-tearful with passionate self-righteousness, saying that it was the Americans who had armed the Islamists in Afghanistan, and that therefore the US, in its response to September 11, “should be dropping bombs on themselves”! I had time to imagine the F16s yowling in over Chicago, and the USS Abraham Lincoln pumping shells the size of Volkswagens into downtown Miami – in bold atonement for the World Trade Center, for the Pentagon, for United 93, United 175, American 11, and American 77. But then my thoughts were scattered by the sound of unanimous applause. We are drowsily accustomed, by now, to the fetishisation of “balance”, the ground rule of “moral equivalence” in all conflicts between West and East, the 100-per-cent and 360-degree inability to pass judgment on any ethnicity other than our own (except in the case of Israel). And yet the handclappers of
Question Time had moved beyond the old formula of pious paralysis. This was not
equivalence; this was hemispherical abjection. Accordingly, given the choice
between George Bush and Osama bin Laden, the liberal relativist, it seems, is
obliged to plump for the Saudi, thus becoming the appeaser of an armed doctrine
with the following tenets: it is racist, misogynist, homophobic, totalitarian,
inquisitional, imperialist, and genocidal.