Wednesday, July 28, 2010

News you will not find on The NYT:

Khaled Abu Toameh reports:

In many ways, these Palestinians are not different from the African immigrants who try to infiltrate Israel every day through Egypt. The immigrants come from Sudan, Ethiopia, Eretria, Nigeria and other African countries.

Like the Palestinians, the Africans are prepared to pay a lot of money to get into Israel. Egyptian traffickers charge up to $1,000 for each immigrant.

But for the African immigrants, the journey is also a very dangerous one. In the past three years, Egyptian border guards have shot and killed dozens of African men and women who tried to cross the border into Israel.

Last week a 23-year-old Sudanese man was fatally shot by Egyptian troops as he tried to enter Israel. Another four asylum-seekers were taken into custody.

While the Egyptians are killing the African immigrants, Israel is providing the lucky ones who manage to cross the border with jobs, as well as medical and social services.

True, Israel is not 100% perfect. But an African Muslim or Christian still prefers Israel to countries like Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iran. As a "refugee" from Darfour, Sudan, who now lives in Tel Aviv, explained: "I feel more secure in the Jewish state than in Sudan or any Arab or Islamic country."

For many Palestinians, it is easier to find a job in Israel and Canada than in any Arab or Islamic country, most of which impose strict travel and work restrictions on them. Palestinians cannot enter most Arab and Islamic countries without a visa.

One can understand why a Palestinian needs a visa to enter the US or any European country. But why does a Palestinian need a visa to visit his relatives in Syria, Lebanon and Egypt?

Many Palestinians from the West Bank who visit Arab countries often find themselves thrown into detention centers for weeks, months and years without trial. Hundreds, if not thousands, of Palestinians are believed to be languishing in prisons throughout the Arab world, especially in Syria and Egypt.

Comment trail July 26-30:

Obama visits the View ladies

Ahmedinejad's human perfection:

Agonizing over burqas and chadors:

I, Octavia:

Catholics and ethnic-cleansing accusations:

Islam/Islamism: Malnommer les choses..


Prayers and presidents:

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Rashid Khalidi

Then (in 1998):
"Rashid Khalidi on Benjamin Netanyahu: Drive a Stake through Him like a Vampire"

And in recent news:

Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University, has signed an appeal for funds to outfit a ship--to be named The Audacity of Hope after Barack Obama's second book--that will challenge the Israeli blockade of Gaza in September or October, according to a report by Robert Mackey at The Lede, a blog of the New York Times. His wife Mona is also a signatory.

The appeal is posted at the site USTOGAZA.ORG, which says the ship will sail from the US to the Eastern Mediterranean, where it will join ships from "Europe, Canada, India, South Africa and parts of the Middle East." The appeal employs the word "we" when speaking of the upcoming trip, which gives the impression that the signatories intend to be aboard.

The site's opening paragraph is laden with falsehoods of commission and omission:

This is an important moment in history. In the aftermath of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla massacre and increased world-wide scrutiny of Israel's blockade of Gaza, the Israeli government has mounted a huge public relations campaign spreading the lie that by letting a few more items into Gaza the blockade has been lifted. This is not the reality. Gaza is still under siege, vital building materials and other supplies are banned, exports of goods from Gaza are denied and neither ships nor people can travel without permission from Israel, permission which Israel will not give. Gaza is essentially an open-air prison under a U.S.-backed Israeli blockade.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Israeli Children Excluded

from the readership of a children's book written by Queen Rania of Jordan.

Here is the story:

Queen Rania of Jordan has turned down several offers to publish a Hebrew version of a children's book she recently wrote. The book, which was published in the United States by Hyperion under the title "The Sandwich Swap" for children between 4 and 8 years old, was co-written with Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by Tricia Tusa.

Some facts about book exclusions in the Arab world:

No gay subjects allowed

"Three Little pigs" offensive to Muslims

Ali Salem - an exceptional writer

No Bibles allowed

Kundera - banned

Egypt's Minister of Culture: He will burn Israeli books

Arab books and human development

Flotilla Update:

French judge: I knew Turkish group behind Gaza flotilla had terror ties in 1996

"I haven't had professional reasons to visit Israel," he stresses. "Most of my activity in recent years has focused on the financing of al-Qaida and its offshoots, and in this respect Israel can be pleased. Thus far, I have not found any operational or financial ties between Hamas an al-Qaida." Despite this, a possible indirect link between the two organizations has been discovered recently via the Turkish group IHH, the organizers of the flotilla of aid ships that sailed to Gaza in late May, which resulted in an Israeli naval raid that left nine Turks dead. IHH has past ties to al-Qaida affiliates, and Bruguière says he is proud of the fact that – already in 1996 - he came to the conclusion that IHH "is a terror organization and not a charity group," he says. Bruguière was asked to investigate the Turkish group after French intelligence discovered that Canadian couriers were sending forged Moroccan passports to France for use by Islamic militants intent on carrying out attacks in France and other European countries."

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Comment Trail:

@ Engage: Eve Garrard's brush with a polite antisemite

@ The Spine: Islam/Islamism - the newspeak

Saturday, July 10, 2010

After the Heat Wave:

Waking up in the early morning to a cool breeze, a luminous sky and the carefree sound of birds chirping in the boughs of the great pine tree that grows in my garden, I remembered Anne Carson's Short Talk on:

Le Bonheur D’Etre Bien Aimee:

Day after day I think of you as I wake up. Someone has put cries of birds on the air like jewels.
On a morning like this, for a brief moment, I caught an echo, a faint memory, of the feeling I used to experience a lot more often in my younger days, of certain optimism and a sense of joy in the simple fact of being alive.

Yehudit Ravitz sings:

Four in the morning


Friday, July 09, 2010

Shlomo Carlebach

In a conversation on The New Republic yesterday, I happened to be reminded of the singing Lubavitcher, rabbi Shlomo Carlebach .

Which is why I thought I would link to a couple of his songs here:

Let there be peace

Lemaan Achai Ve- reai (For my brothers and friends)

Comment Trail:

@ Bob: Gnome Chomsky embroiled in a cat fight (of sorts)

@ Solomonia: Octavia Nasr mourns the passing of Hezbollah Mentor and pays a price

BTW, intrigued by her name I checked to see who her namesake was. Here is what I found:

"Octavia the Younger (69 - 11 BC), also known as Octavia Minor or simply Octavia, was the sister of the first Roman Emperor, Augustus (known also as Octavian), half-sister of Octavia the Elder, and fourth wife of Mark Antony. She was also the mother-in-law of the Emperor Tiberius, great-grandmother of the Emperor Caligula and Empress Agrippina the Younger, maternal grandmother of the Emperor Claudius, and paternal great-grandmother and maternal great-great grandmother of the Emperor Nero.

One of the most prominent women in Roman history, Octavia was respected and admired by contemporaries for her loyalty, nobility and humanity, and for maintaining traditional Roman feminine virtues."

I'm not too worried about Octavia's future prospects. No doubt Al-Jazeera will snap her up, or, more likely after a certain cooling-off period she will get her CNN job back. I saw a few segments where she appeared and she seemed to enjoy a very robust affection and admiration from some of her co-presents (like Rick Sanchez). I imagine a small Octavian lobby is getting organized on her behalf even as I write these words.

The whole thing reminded me of a 2004 story in which a BBC journalist, Barbara Plett, reported how, watching "the helicopter carrying the frail old man [Yasser Arafat] rose from his ruined compound, I started to cry" . Of course to anyone familiar with Plett's reportage, her steep pro-Palestinian bias was hardly a surprise. But she could always defend herself by pointing to including "balancing" factors in her reports. In this particular instant she was either feeling particularly emotional or felt secure enough to allow her true sentiments to peep through. Is this what happened to Octavia?

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”.

IraqPundit opines more extensively, here.

@ Terry Glavin's
: We are treated to a few beautiful photos from Afghanistan, a country and a people with which Glavin seems to have fallen in love. His is a rare voice in Canada of robust support for the Afghanis, especially women and children.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Two cool beats for a hot morning:

Friday morning and Verdi at Dizengoff Center, Tel Aviv

IDF soldiers demonstrate Saramago's judgment: "… those experts in cruelty with doctorates in disdain"

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Forgiving myself..

This week's horoscope offers this consolation prize after a week marked by devastating mistakes, and really screwing up a situation (I'm exaggerating but never mind, the point remains the same).

There's no one wiser, deeper, and more amazing than a Scorpio who's had a chance to really evolve (a process which usually takes several decades or more). Of course, the inverse is also true—no one's more likely to be cruel, make devastating mistakes, or just really screw up a situation than an "unripe" Scorpio. Of course, that's exactly what makes you so wonderful once you've circled the block a few dozen times. If you're still in the process of "ripening"—that is, still prone to occasionally being cruel or screwing up horribly—recognize that it's precisely these things that will make you so wise and wonderful late in life, and forgive yourself.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Little heard of News, or, news of human rights violations no one cares about

Report on Iranian Azerbaijani Human Rights Abuse

Baha’i Leaders Face Trial on Iran’s Election Anniversary

Bahá’ís living in Iran have faced intense persecution since 1979. Around 200 Bahá’ís have been killed and 10,000 have been dismissed from government and university jobs. Holy places have been destroyed, many Bahá’ís have been arrested and thousands of students have been denied access to university education.