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)
Monday, August 30, 2010
Sunday, August 29, 2010
History Lesson: The Jews of Lebanon
"When Christian Arabs ruled Lebanon, Jews enjoyed relative toleration. In the mid-50’s, approximately 7,000 Jews lived in Beirut. As Jews in an Arab country, however, their position was never secure, and the majority left in 1967.
Fighting in the 1975-76 Muslim-Christian civil war swirled around the Jewish Quarter in Beirut, damaging many Jewish homes, businesses and synagogues. Most of the remaining 1,800 Lebanese Jews emigrated in 1976, fearing the growing Syrian presence in Lebanon would curtail their freedom. Most Jews went to Europe (particularly France), the United States and Canada.
In the mid-1980’s, Hizballah kidnapped several prominent Jews from Beirut — most were leaders of what remained of the country’s tiny Jewish community. Four of the Jews were later found murdered." (Here)
"1930s: Anti-Jewish measures introduced, economy in crisis. 2,868 Jews move to Israel.
Nazi propaganda and incitement by the Mufti of Jerusalem spreads.
5, 286 Jews leave.
1945: 1,000 Jewish children go on aliya.
1945: Riots against Jews of Tripoli, Lebanon: 14 die. Temporary closure of Alliance Israelite School. End of French mandate.
1945: Syrian school curriculum becomes compulsory.
1947: Partition riots devastate Aleppo. All 18 synagogues, five schools, 150 shops, orphanage and youth club destroyed. Great synagogue of Aleppo badly damaged. Many Jews killed.
Jews cannot buy property. Hundreds arrested. Jews expelled from university of Beirut.
1949: Jewish bank accounts seized in Syria, property frozen, no freedom of movement.
1949: grenades thrown at al-Menashe synagogue, Damascus: 13 dead, 32 wounded.
1950: Jews of Qamishli banned from working in agriculture.
1950: Influx of provincial Jews to Beirut. 10,000 Jews move to Lebanon from Iraq and Syria. Only 5,700 remain in Syria.
1950: Syria passes a law seizing Jewish property. Palestinian refugees move into Jewish quarter of Damascus. Attacks on Jews in Damascus, Aleppo and Qamishli. Property and shops looted.
1951: Bomb explodes at Alliance Universelle Israelite school in Beirut. Jewish youth organisations banned. Civil servants sacked. Otherwise protected by Phalange militia and free to travel and do business.
1958 - 62: Jews can leave Syria on payment of a ransom. 2,800 Syrian Jews flee to Israel.
1962: Travel ban introduced.
1965: Arrest of Israeli spy Eli Cohen. Attacks increase.
1967: Anti-Jewish riots in Syria. Muslims control two Jewish schools. Travel ban. Jewish chemists and doctors sacked. Jewish jobs given to refugees from Golan Heights. 2,264 Jews go to Israel.
1967 - 70: Of 6,000 Jews in Lebanon, all but 2,000 leave.
1971: Wave of kidnappings. Albert Elia, community leader, abducted and murdered in Lebanon.
1973: following Yom Kippur War, Jewish homes in Syria have their telephone lines cut off, allowed no radios or postal links with outside world.
1974: four Syrian Jewish girls raped and murdered.
1975: rescue campaign for remaining Syrian Jews, including many single girls, initiated by Canadian Judy Feld Carr.
1978: 450 Jews left in Lebanon. Between 1979 and 1980, 30 Jews killed ( some estimates say 200) in civil war.
1992: President Assad allows 2,800 Jews to leave on tourist visas without assets.
1994: Jews allowed to leave with their assets. Syrian Chief Rabbi Abraham Hamra leaves for Israel.
1999: 60 Jews remain in Lebanon and between 50 and 100 in Syria."
The above history lesson is an important reminder as recently we have been regaled by a tale of wonderous tolerance told by Fareed Zakaria about how Hizzbolla, unlike its image in America and elsewhere, is actually not too far from being a model of ethics on par with Mother Theresa's, when it comes to Jews:
"And now for the "Last Look." With all the talk about places of worship and where they do and don't belong, I wanted you to see this. This is the Magen Abraham synagogue. It's not in Miami. It's not in Tel Aviv. It's in Beirut. That's right, Beirut, Lebanon.
The synagogue is just now emerging from a painstaking restoration project. When the repairs began over a year ago, the temple was literally a shell of its former self. So why did this nation, often teetering on the brink of religious hostilities and hostilities with Israel, restore a Jewish house of worship? To show that Lebanon is an open and tolerant country.
And indeed, the project is said to have found support in many parts of the community, not just from the few remaining Jews there, but also Christians and Muslims and Hezbollah. Yes, Hezbollah -- the one that the United States has designated a foreign terrorist organization.
Hezbollah's view on the renovation goes like this. "We respect divine religions, including the Jewish religion. The problem is with Israel's occupation of Arab lands ... not with the Jews." Food for thought."
This, hard on the heels of his disgraceful attempt to humiliate the ADL over the very same issue not two weeks ago.
Quo vadis, ya Zakaria?
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Monday, August 23, 2010
Europe's New Realities
@ Islam in Europe
Q: We we must surely give Islam the same religious freedom as other religions?
"Absolutely. But it's important to understand that Islam is not just a religion like all others. Islam set rules for how society should be organized. The rules can only be implemented in practice if Islam has power in society. Therefore strong Muslim forces are trying to influence the form of European societies. We reject that. Muslims should have freedom to practice their faith. But Islam shouldn't have power," says Ralf Pittelkow.
"We point out that Islam's power shows up in different ways. It can be religious Islamists who want to implement their principles. But at the opposite end, it can also be Muslims gangs, who take control of a neighborhood. Even if they don't comply to the principles of Islam, it is clear that many of them identify strongly with Islam."
Q: Why are you so afraid of parallel societies? Isn't it an expression of diversity?
"It's not a positive diversity, but on the contrary, a deeply damaging fragmentation and dissolution of society. We're getting a society where there are deep rifts between the population groups. It undermines one of the most important qualities of a society, namely the trust between people. Denmark is a country with a lot of trust, and it will be a tragedy if we squander it," says Karen Jespersen.
And on the same subject, here is Bill Moyers in conversation with Bruce Bawer:
Sighted on Twitter:
When you read this kind of comment:
"Breaking: black man is harassed, mistaken for a Muslim at a racist rally. Who wuda thunk it.
Is not what you expect to see.
Standing up to racism, the antisemitic way
(Note please how the speakers at least on this video do not address the mosque issue. They are talking about something else? What is that? The Pakistani-looking speaker spells it out: "We’re not going to sit there and back these Zionist Jews”. Interesting how the building of a mosque near the site of an atrocity committed by Muslims (of the extremist strain) is thus translated directly into an anti-Israel and antisemitic position. This is the message being disseminated about the meaning of this mosque. )
Friday, August 20, 2010
Comment Trail August 20 -30
Scandinavians making scummy comments
Imam Rauf's Moderate Islam
@ Simply Jews: Shorn foreskins
Israel and taking risks
Dr. Laura's martyrdom
More about the megamosque for the betterment of human society in Lower Manhattan
Irish and Jewish whatever
Mosque and Obama
The discussions that swirl around the Ground Zero Mosque begin to take on the characteristics of this fight scene in one of my favourite movies.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Encore for Christine
Friday morning and Verdi at Dizengoff Center
Tuesday, August 03, 2010
Comment Trail for the week of August 2 - 9
A little Megamosque in Manhattan:
(As Dubai Jazz tends not to tolerate my presence on his ultra pluralistic blog, here is the comment I dropped:
Your little piece of satire is quite a masterpiece of wit and humour, DJ.
I think I get it: Israelis are idiots and bumbling wannabes, and all Israeli women are whores.
There is a fine Arab tradition of belittling Israel's achievements and yours is one little cog in upholding that tradition:
To quote Mark Twain:
"Even if the Jews have not all been geniuses, their general average of intelligence and intellectuality is far above our general average...
It is the swollen envy of pigmy minds--meanness, injustice."