Friday, April 30, 2010

They have difficulties learning about the Holocaust

Via: Islam in Europe

A fifth of history teachers in the four major Dutch cities have had to deal with not being able to or rarely bringing up the Holocaust because Muslim students in particular have difficulties with it.

This according to a survey among history teachers in secondary education by the Elsevier weekly and research agency ResearchNed. Teachers in VMBO schools in particular encounter resistance, reported. The teachers said that in the VMBO schools four major cities, in particular, immigrant students were less interested than ethnic Dutch.

One commenter asks:

when students have difficulty with a subject you give them a #FAIL grade- not change the course materials
If Muslims are failing math should we say 2+2=5??

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Ending with a handshake

Via Solomonia comes this clip of the Pakistan-India border closing ceremony: a choreographed dance of soldiers in bizarre head gears strutting around, kicking their legs up high, deadly serious, and ending in a handshake before the gates from both sides slide shut.

There is not much love lost between Indians and Pakistanis but if they can translate ancient enmities into a kind of dance, march and trumpet ceremony, then I would say they probably can and do co-exist.

I look forward to the when similar ceremonies will take place between Israelis and Palestinians, symbolic of a deadly rivalry of a violent past but minus the actual violence and ending with a handshake.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Watching Israel:

What are news and editorials saying about Israel?

Israel's new secret weapon:

Before long, the military calls in one of its most dreaded weapons.

A white armored truck rumbles toward the scene. Protesters dive for cover as a small cannon on the vehicle's roof takes aim and fires — not bullets or tear gas, but a heavy stream of the foulest-smelling liquid imaginable.

Is it the sickly sweet odor of decomposing flesh? A trash dump on a hot day? Vomit? Those who've been doused wax on in vain, trying to find a worthy description for the stench that won't go away, no matter how hard you scrub, for several days.

Israeli soldiers call the truck the Skunk, and they say it has become one of their favorite tools in confronting the rising challenge of West Bank demonstrations.

As Palestinians have reshaped their resistance in recent years from suicide bombings and armed attacks to civil disobedience and nonviolent demonstrations, Israel's military is grappling with how to alter its tactics as well.

Israel, Egypt's Enemy, What would Carter say?

The Israeli ambassador to Egypt has lodged a protest over Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit's description of Israel as "the enemy" during a visit to Beirut.

Egyptian officials say Gheit's words weren't understood correctly. Yitzhak Levanon formally protested to the government Monday in Cairo, reported.

Gheit was asked last week during a news conference in Beirut whether his trip to Lebanon was a warning to the government there. He responded his visit wasn't aimed at sending messages from "the enemy to a sister state."

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Comment Trail:

I've been spending too much time on The New Republic:

Editing as a strategy to win friends and defeat enemies

Discombobulating American Jews

Job search in Israel

Art thou contented, Jew? Margaret Drabble picks up her skirts and tip toes among the Jews and the antisemites, while trying to keep herself clean of both as well as a friend of both. though she seems singularly deaf to antisemitic music around her.

I left the following comment:

"...the BBC probably gets it right, and its veteran reporter on the Middle East, Jeremy Bowen, is reassuringly reliable, rising calmly above the waves of partisan extremism." [Drabble opines]

1. "In a significant ruling, the BBC's highest body has substantially upheld CAMERA's complaint that BBC News's Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen violated the broadcaster's guidelines that require impartiality and accuracy. Below is CAMERA's press release on the breaking development."

2. Following the terrorist massacre at a Jewish religious highschool in Jerusalem, the BBC's Jeremy Bowen enters the mind of a murderer to make excuses:

."..the school was no ordinary seminary. It was the ideological cradle of the settler movement in the West Bank, which could be the reason it was targeted."

3. "A BBC mole has sent me this briefing for BBC staff from the BBC's Middle East Editor, Jeremy Bowen, on what lies ahead this year.

It’s all too predictable. The "fragmentation" of Palestinian society has, in Mr Bowen’s view, nothing to do with the Palestinians and everything to do with Israel (“the death of hope, caused by a cocktail of Israel's military activities, land expropriation and settlement building – and the financial sanctions imposed on the Hamas led government�). Indeed, Israel is to blame for almost everything. The Palestinians are not responsible for anything; Israel is the culpable party.

He has contempt for every Israeli politician he mentions; Ehud Barak, for instance, is described as having killed "various Palestinians", written as if he did so for the sake of it.

If this is what passes for high-level analysis at the BBC, is it any wonder its reporting is so poisonous?"


These are the expressions and reports of Drabble's "reassuringly reliable, rising calmly above the waves of partisan extremism." Bowen. Her words, with the testimonials so divorced from the image she wishes to invoke, remind me of Anne Carson's description of liars:

"What really connects words and things?

Not much, decided my husband

and proceeded to use language

in the way that Homer says the gods do.

All human words are known to the gods but have for them entirely other meanings

alongside our meanings.

They flip the switch at will. "

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The memory of a goldfish

Abravanel is a blog about the Jews of Greece. I have a special interest in the subject because my father-in-law, whose story I mention here, was Greek.

In this post
he talks about the shortness of Greek memory and the real historical reason why there are so many streets in Greece named "Palestine Street":

"Cephalonia may not have forgotten but some deem that gratitude may have an expiration date, but ungratefulness never. I am talking about Dionisis Georgopoulos, president of the Teachers association of Cephalonia-Ithaca which asks to “Rename Israel Street in Argostòli in Palestine Street”.

Somebody might ask what do I care: that’s where the memory of a goldfish comes in, which I mentioned in the beginning and the abysmal ignorance which exists for the recent past of our country.

“Palestine Street(s)” already exist and in quantity in our country, Greece. We have them in Volos, in Athens, in Larisa and in other cities. We also had one in Salonica in the Hirch Quartier but the Municipality of Salonica erased all jewish names from the streets in 1943, taking advantage of the opportunity that his undesirable Jewish citizens were murdered in Auschwitz and refused to restore them after the war.

The unsuspecting wayfarer may think that these are the material proof of the muslim-friendly sentiments of our country but alas, they do not know these are the expression of the unadulterated philo-zionism in Greece. Greece philo-zionist and unadulteratedly on top ? Let’s make a small trip into the history of “Palestine Street”."

The rest is here (scroll down for the English version).

Friday, April 16, 2010


I find the notion that American security interests are threatened by the lack of progress on Israeli-Palestinian peace is an interesting outsourcing of blame.

It reminded me how Ahmed Sheik, the Al Jazeera editor, when he was interviewed by Pierre Heumann of the Swiss newspaper Die Weltwoche, blamed all the problems that affect Arab societies on Israel or "Zionism":

"Who is responsible for the situation?

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the most important reasons why these crises and problems continue to simmer. The day when Israel was founded created the basis for our problems. The West should finally come to understand this. Everything would be much calmer if the Palestinians were given their rights.

Do you mean to say that if Israel did not exist, there would suddenly be democracy in Egypt, that the schools in Morocco would be better, that the public clinics in Jordan would function better?

I think so."

Or a more recent Canadian example:

" To quote from Canadian Foreign Service veteran Gar Pardy, whom Tremonti interviewed:

“The other issue [aside from oil] that I think has diminished what little bit of influence we have in Saudi Arabia is our current policy toward Israel. Saudi Arabia plays a very important role on Middle Eastern issues, and they have been very active over the last five years in terms of trying to negotiate some sort of agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and Syria for that matter. And the fact that we have taken ourselves out as a balanced observer on those issues, I’m sure is not looked at with any degree of friendliness in Saudi Arabia.” ...

“Let me just clairfy then: Are you suggesting that Canada’s Israel policy could leave young Canadian women in limbo?”

Pardy: “Yes.”


It's not Saudi revanchist misogynist ethos that creates problems for the young Canadian woman; it's Canada's support for Israel that does.

It's not Arab rejectionism and Muslim fundamentalism that cause problems for American soldiers. It's Israel's building in Jerusalem that does.

You continue to feed this beast and you risk turning a surrealistic scenario into a very plausible future. At what point does Jewish existence on this planet stop being the obstacle and irritant for American or Canadian or Arab interests? If Israel were to disappear tomorrow in a puff of nuclear smoke, how long before someone feels that the presence of Jews in Europe causes the radicalization of European Muslims who then take it out on non-Jewish Europeans? And then what to do?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Those Far Right but Very Wealthy Jewish-American organizations

For the first time I took a peek today at Juan Cole's blog.

As expected, he was commenting about the recent tensions in US-Israel relationship with barely restrained exhilaration. He appears very excited by the new fashion in Washington these days to demonize Israel, but his main target remains American Jews, some of whom he describes in the following paragraph:

But the supposed ban on saying these things was always a project of a small number of far-rightwing but very wealthy Jewish-American organizations such as the Zionist Organization of America and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.

Let me repeat: "... a small number of far-rightwing but very wealthy Jewish-American organizations "

I was wondering what Juan meant to say by designating "Jewish-American organizations" as Far right. So I looked up "Far right politics" and found that the term

" involves supremacism, believing that superiority and inferiority is an innate reality between individuals and groups and involves the complete rejection of the concept of social equality as a norm.[1] Far right politics supports segregation and separation of groups deemed to be superior from groups deemed to be inferior.[2] Far-right politics and political views commonly include authoritarianism, homophobia, nativism, racism, sexism, and xenophobia."

The terms have been used by different scholars in somewhat conflicting ways.[4]

The ideologies associated with the far right are fascism, Nazism, racial supremacists (especially neo-fascists and neo-Nazis group), religious extremists, and other ultra-nationalist or reactionary ideologies and movements.[5][6][7][8][9] The terms are often used to imply that someone is an extremist." (wiki)

I expect Juan Cole can provide the necessary support for his use of the terminology he has employed in his post and prove that these rich Jews are indeed promoting racial segregation, authoritarianism, homophobia, nativism, racism, sexism, and xenophobia.

Perhaps he is relying on the latest scholarly study produced by the collaboration of two great minds:

They have organized all the wars and organized all the disorders on this planet. They were involved in the slave trade. We should know that 90% of the ships that relocated the Africans to the West Indies belonged to Jews, and the majority of slave traders were Jews.

I left a comment on his website, asking the above question. It awaits moderation.

Next day Update: My comment does not seem to have made it past moderation.

Might it be because Juan Cole does not like to be challenged?

UpdateII: I left another comment, here. It awaits moderation.

3. Israeli policy toward East Jerusalem could itself be the cause for a war. Jerusalem is sacred to Muslims and Christians as well as to Jews.

Surely, Dr. Cole, you are not suggesting that it is the Jews who dispute that “Jerusalem is sacred to Muslims and Christians as well as to Jews.”. I have not heard any Israeli leader deny these allegations. But I have heard many Palestinian, Arab and Muslim leaders deny Jewish history in Jerusalem.

“During the July 2000 negotiations at Camp David, Yasir Arafat refused to acknowledge Jewish ties to the Temple Mount, claiming the Jewish Temple never existed there. When talks resumed in Taba later that year, the Israelis agreed to full Palestinian sovereignty on the Temple Mount, but requested Palestinians acknowledge the sacredness of the Temple Mount to Judaism. They refused. According to then-foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami:

What particularly outraged me on that occasion wasn’t only the fact that they refused, but the way in which they refused: out of a kind of total contempt, an attitude of dismissiveness and arrogance. At that moment I grasped they are really not Sadat. That they were not willing to move toward our position even at the emotional and symbolic level. At the deepest level, they are not ready to recognize that we have any kind of title here. [Interview with Ari Shavit, Haaretz, Nov. 25, 2001]”

Muslims Killing Muslims:

Nothing to report

Survivors and a government official say up to 71 civilians were killed in a weekend strike by Pakistani jets near the Afghan border, confirming an incident that risks undercutting public support for the fight against militants.

The army denied any of the dead were civilians, but a government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, said authorities had already handed out the equivalent of $125,000 in compensation to families of the victims in a remote village in the Khyber tribal area.

The official declined to say how many of the dead were civilians, but said Shafiullah Khan, the top official in Khyber, had apologized to local tribesman and admitted the victims were "mostly" innocent villagers.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Comment trail:

@ The New Republic: Norman Finkelstein hosted by the UN

@ The Spine: Obama's Seder

@ The Spine: Asperger's Syndrome as legitimate argument about Israel

@ Mick's: Captivated by Politics

@ Jonathan Chait: Scatology as political punditry

@ TNR: Washington Diarist: Showdown

Memorable quote from one commenter:

The Arab peoples, one language, a shared culture, have millions upon millions of square miles of the planet. The differences between Palestinian Arabs and the rest of the Arab world are probably less than the differences between New Yorkers and Texans. If, somehow, Native Americans were to be given the eastern half of Long Island for a sovereign state, do you suppose one could claim that the American Long Islanders who ended up relocating to western Long Island, Westchester, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and the rest of the American continent could justly claim that they had been given only crumbs? Is it not the case that "Palestinians" are the overwhelming majority in Jordan? How did they come to be there? They are not migrants from the west or refugees from Israel. Aren't they indeed the very same people who occupy the West Bank and Gaza? Then is it not apparent that Jordan too is part of the Palestinian patrimony? How does that not get counted?

It is the Jews in Israel who have had to accept less than all of what is rightfully theirs. And it is only by reference to the political borders of the Jews, now and historically, that Palestinian Arabs can be described as being left with anything other than their share of the vast Arab territory. This is but another example of Moslems claiming the religious, historical, and geographical heritage of others and then taking great offense if those others don't concur. I look forward to Turkey returning Hagia Sophia to the Eastern Orthodox Christians. Don't you?

I quite agree that it is unacceptable that the Palestinians should remain a subject people, but the idea that they are prospectively forced to accept "crumbs" because they too cannot have everything they want is just silly. There are many smaller and denser states, and, if the Palestinians would take advantage of their adjacency to Israel, they could quickly enjoy the highest standard of living in the Arab world. They are going to have to give up their revanchist ambitions sooner or later, because Israel is not going anywhere.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Look at the facts and Love is better than hatred

A look into the incandescent mind of Bertrand Russell whom I mentioned in the past:

A message to humanity

Of course, all we need is to be able to recognize what a fact is and how to understand the difference between love and hatred.