Friday, October 30, 2009

When Peace is War, and Human - a restricted category

@Solomonia: Sophia, an occasional contributor to Solomonia wrote about Yglesias' momentary epiphany in which he confesses:

" My J Street button said “Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace.” It’s not a subtle aspect of the messaging. But when we moved to the Q&A time it became clear that a number of people in the audience really were quite uncomfortable self-defining as “pro-Israel” in any sense and that others are uncomfortable with the basic Zionist concept of a Jewish national state. I was, of course, aware that those views existed but it had seemed to me that it was clear that that wasn’t what J Street is there to advocate for. Apparently, though, it wasn’t clear to everyone."

I left this comment:

The term "pro-peace" has undergone the same kind of bastardization that the term "human rights" has. Peace no longer means cessation of hostilities and violence between the two sides of the I/P conflict. Examples of what it has come to mean we can see when we cast back to all those "peace" demonstrations that took place during the 2006 Lebanon war and "Cast Lead". We all witnessed what sort of placards were being flaunted, openly and insouciently by the conscientious marchers: "We are all Hizzbala" and "Israel must be wiped" (or at least in one recorded instance, "Jews to the gas chambers"), etc. Those rallies were referred to in the media as "peace" rallies.

Just as "human rights", at the hands of the UNHR Council, have come to mean, exclusively, Palestinian rights, and by inference, if Palestinian is human, then Israelis are not, or less, human.

No wonder that people who are bitterly aligned against Israel have come to use these two terms in their highly deformed and exclusivist meaning. It's a genuine example of the Orwellian "doublespeak", language constructed to disguise and distort its actual meaning, often resulting in a communication bypass.

And the naked hatred to Israel expressed by those people who crowded those rallies (and to a lesser degree glimpsed at that famous panel where Elie Wiesel became the target of mockery by the execrable Max Blumenthal) reminded me constantly of Orwell's "Two Minutes Hate".

Therefore, for these J-street supporters to be "pro-peace" as they understand it is simply incompatible with being "pro-Israel". Peace has to be "no peace" for Israelis or else the term is vitiated of its moral power.

They no doubt feel they were duped into believing the organization to be their kind of "pro-peace" and not what the dictionary tells us "peace" is.

In today's Normblog's Friday blog profile, featuring Point of no return, in answer to the question: What is your favourite proverb? Bataween responds:

'Mal nommer les choses, c'est ajouter au malheur du monde' (Not to call things by their correct names is to add to the troubles of the world) - Albert Camus.

Enfin, La Voila! Someone who gets it :)


Update: Nov 3:

Here is a sight for sore eyes:

"In a recent column in the UAE daily Al-Ittihad, columnist Dr. As'ad 'Abd Al-Rahman wrote about the Jewish-American advocacy group J Street, arguing that its importance is in that it provides the U.S. administration with "political and media ammunition" against Israel, especially in the absence of an Arab lobby in the U.S."

Funny how it emerges that the "pro-Israel, Pro-peace" J-street, de-facto, acts in lieu of an Arab Lobby.

Sometimes clarity arises from the least expected quarters.

Vindication of the Zionist "Narrative" by a formerly "Post-Zionist" Historian

This is an important milestone in arresting the momentum of the attempt to delegitimize Israel's existence and continued survival by Benny Morris. One of those "Post-Zionist" historians, he used to lounge next to the execrable Ilan Pappe but now has re-invigorated the original history of the birth of Israel by delving into new material and taking note of other parts of the picture which he had initially ignored.

Avi Beker explains:

More than anyone else, Morris provided the historical sources for the argument that the State of Israel was born as a result of a conspiracy to carry out the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.

His books and articles provided the basis for an indictment of the State of Israel, something that helped the Palestinian and Arab leadership reject all peace efforts right after the Oslo Accords, at Camp David in 2000 and in discussions of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's peace proposal in 2008.

The narrative built by the New Historians changed the parameters of political negotiations: A peace agreement is not meant to correct the 1967 "occupation" and create a framework for territories in exchange for peace, but to atone for the atrocities of the nakba. It became apparent to all that the main obstacle is the problem of the right of return to all parts of the State of Israel.

Morris did not make any shocking revelation when he argued that during the War of Independence there were also incidents of killing and expulsion of the civilian population. His wrongs as a historian focused on overlooking the uncompromising Arab hatred and the dynamic of war that persisted for 18 months in civilian areas, the siege of Jewish cities and communities and the constantly reiterated threats of annihilation.

Then suddenly, 20 years later, Morris discovered that the Arabs had declared a jihad against Zionism already back in 1948. He explains his new approach as stemming from the opening of archives, including the Israel Defense Forces' archive, which were closed to researchers until now. He also adds that "in the current book, I placed the refugee problem within the overall context of the War of Independence," and with the help of recent studies, "I tried to present a new and comprehensive description of the war, and primarily of the connections between the military processes and the diplomatic processes."

"A new description"? The exact opposite, in fact. Morris returns to what was so detested by the New Historians, or as they put it: to the canonical version of the official Zionist narrative.

He feels no need to apologize for presenting a sharp indictment of all of post-Zionism, claiming that "historians tended to belittle the importance of the religious rhetoric during the war," and the central role of "religious motivation."

The dismissal of the threats of jihad was intentional and critical for the rewriting in order to turn the nakba into a "holocaust", but the jihad was apparent to all: threats of annihilation were heard from all sides and even from the dais of the UN in 1947 and 1948.

The mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin Al-Husseini repeated it over and over again; and religious scholars in Cairo issued an official manifesto calling for jihad two days after the resolution on the partition plan was passed on November 1947.

The translation of the religious order into military action was the invasion of the Arab armies, which were called the Arab Liberation Army and the Jihad al-Mukades (Holy War) Army.

The new writings also question attempts to debunk "the few against the many myth" that present the IDF in 1948 as the most organized and strongest army in the Middle East, while overlooking the assessments of everyone: the majority in the interim Jewish government prior to the establishment of the state, the Arabs, the British and the Americans, who all thought the Arabs would defeat the Jewish army in Palestine.

Finally, Morris returns to one of the most important arguments in the historical context and clarifies that the 1948 war created two refugee problems: Jews and Arabs.

The Jewish refugees, originally from Arab countries, explains Morris, are a clear product of the war, after pogroms and persecutions (including threats of destruction) on the part of the Arab regimes.

As for the responsibility of the Jewish side, Morris makes a correction: Many of the Arab refugees left of their own accord and the others were not expelled but "moved to flee" amidst the chaos of the war and the threats of jihad, and in effect he defends the right of David Ben-Gurion to expel even more given the threats of jihad.

The new Morris is even less apologetic than the Zionist historians and stresses the difference is, of course, that Israel absorbed the Jewish refugees and the problem disappeared, whereas the Arab countries did not absorb the Palestinian refugees and the problem has not been resolved to this day.

(Via: Kramer's sandbox)

It is an appropriate footnote to a discussion which unfolded here in which the younger Benny Morris's writings, and especially his first book, are made much of by the usual consumers of any theory that holds Israel culpable for the worst atrocities.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Sighted on the English-speaking Arab blogosphere:

Saudi Jeans reflects on Lashing as legal punishment

I am astonished by the very liberal use of lashing sentences by our right honorable judges. Is this some sort of fetish, as Asmaa once said? Do these sentences say something about struggle to reform the judicial system? Personally, I think that except for the few cases explicitly specified in Quran, lashing should be stopped once and for all. No human being should be given the power to inflect this kind of punishment on another human being, simply.
And one commenter, Abu Layth, exclaims in response:
"Bro, lashing does not even hurt! I’d rather a lashing than years in prison!

It turns out the same commenter has a blog of his own. Apparently he is a convert to Islam and here he states his view of Halloween:

The Nabi ‘alayhis salam said, “Whomever imitates a people, is from them!” [Sunan Abu Dawud; authentic]

That should be enough of a warning against this insanity! Why would anyone even exploit their children by becoming a “good capitalist” and buying in to the whole celebrate everything we can so we can better the economy! Or why would someone dress up their child in a stupid costume, and parade them around like a doll? Why would people try and scare each other out of their wits? The list of reasons go on and on!

I find it disappointing to say the least, that Muslims are so insecure with themselves, that they have to imitate a pagan holiday so their kids can “fit in” and so that they can “assimilate”!?

Abu Layth's better half blogs at "The Muslima" who asks:

¿ How can I expect acceptance When I myself don’t accept?

¿ How can I call people to change and hope
When my heart is debilitatingly weak?

¿ How do I expect to be forgiven
When I’m so good at bringing up people’s pasts?

¿ How do I expect to be healed
When I help break people down?

¿ How am I a part of the solution
When I am a part of the problem?

¿ How do I expect to help others
When I don’t even help myself?

Words of wisdom indeed.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunday's Sightings on the Internet

Due to some preoccupation with other projects* in my life I have neglected writing on my blog, though I have not stopped commenting in some of my favorite haunts. It's not as though I have no thoughts to communicate. I do.

I have a post in preparation concerning a really good and well-acted play I saw in Israel in August, called "The banality of love" about Hanna Arendt's love affair with Heidegger ;

Having only recently seen the movie "The Reader" there are things I need to say about it;

I also want to comment on an "alternative" weekly magazine issued in Montreal which seems to affirm a certain tradition on the Left of which I only recently became aware: the combination of lurid sexual material with a sharp anti-Israel bias which seems to be all the rage among the more rabid Leftists. I don't mean that the sexuality is embedded in the bias. I mean that the two trends seem to reside alongside one another quite comfortably. I wonder about it and I will write something as soon as I can figure some intelligent coherence between the two, or why the magazine seems to be awash with readers and commenters who walk very carelessly on the razor edge of soft core Holocaust denial.

But since I'm so caught up in my other daily doldrums, all these are still in supposition, so to speak.


But here is a comment trail from last week:


@ Marty Peretz's The Spine: Here and here.

@ The Bitter Single Guy
(a bit off the path usually beaten in my blog)

@ Solomonia: (about the moral authority of "asajew")


And here a couple of curiosities sighted on the English-written Arab blogosphere:

@ Rowdy Saudi:

"The evil eye can also cause organic damage, like rashes, speech impediments and arthritis. These ailments are not curable by medical procedures, as they will reoccur like a demonic spore. The only way it can be removed is if the person whom originally gave the deadly gaze would spit on the victim (or the victim drink after the perpetrator, essentially, an exchange of bodily fluids must occur).
Many attribute their misfortune to the eye, losing in the stick market, a car braking one day after warranty expiration, or cake falling on their new carpet.
Overall, there would be some truth to this, but having the eye as a scapegoat for every misfortune is just an escape from reality. Just be careful if you have a bit of visual appeal, as beauty might end with the evil eye of the beholder."

Commenter on "Saudi Jeans"
[Saudis will be able to buy handguns and other personal firearms

"its exactly all we need! education? infrastructure? valid income for when we run out of oil soon? who needs that!
know that saying: اللي تعرف ديتو، إقتلو+? taken pretty literally."

+ Translation found by googling: whoever you know their Diyah ["blood money"], kill them.


*By "project" I mean family demands, weekly readings for a course I'm taking on the question of whether, why and how women think, trying to organize material I have assembled for a course I'm designing on friendship, and nursing a husband who has just lost his job...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Saturday (and Sunday) Morning Miscellany

Quote of the week:

"Art can be described as a psychopathic response of the race to the stresses of existence..." the goal of art [is] to be " not the rupture of appearance and the emergence of a traumatic "Real," but rather the purposeful adaptation of appearance to Reality"

(Without Criteria:
Kant, Whitehead, Deleuze, and Aesthetics", Steven Shaviro)

Sighted on the Internet:

"President Obama has literally changed the direction of the world, from one teetering on the brink of a third world war to one placing value on peaceful solutions, mutual respect, and working together to solve common problems. In the meantime he saved this country from another major Depression - probably other countries along with us. Yeah, Obama definitely deserved that prize."


And from the Arab Blogosphere, a revealing discussion of hymenoplasty and its cheaper alternatives ( what's that? Read on, and be enlightened...)


"By the way, why were the jews kicked to the desert without a homeland for 2000 years???? I think it is because they were just as rotten, evil, murdering dogs back then as they are now. I guess i will just wait and see what God will do to them this time:):):) I'll make the popcorn and wait for those jews who never experienced the holocaust to start wah wahing about their suffering every time they committ an atrocitiy and use that as their excuse to murder and maim other innocents. History will always repeat itself for those dirty jews because they are evil and God always gives them another chance to redeem themselves, but it is impossible once someone has made a pact with the devil. And this is an original American saying this. So answer first, and then i will answer.

Charlotte Osborne proud to be Amrican but not not proud that our country kisses jewish ass" (source)

Worth your time:

@ Mick's: The Chicago Street: a photo gallery

Comment Trail:

@ Solomonia: here and here

@ The Spine: here and here

Musical Break:

Stephen Harper and Yo Yo Ma , a Beatles song

Hodja Story: God's way

Nasreddin Hodja One day four boys approached Hodja and gave him a bagful of walnuts.

"Hodja, we can't divide these walnuts among us evenly. So would you help us, please?"

Hodja asked,

"Do you want God's way of distribution or mortal's way?"
"God's way," the children answered.

Hodja opened the bag and gave two handfuls of walnuts to one child, one handful to the other, only two walnuts to the third child and none to the fourth.

"What kind of distribution is this?" the children asked baffled.

"Well, this is God's way," he answered.

"He gives some people a lot, some people a little and nothing to others. If you asked for mortal's way I would have given the same amount to everybody."

Friday, October 16, 2009

Col. Richard Kemp on the Goldstone Report

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Plight of Palestinians

Spengler explains why "Palestinian issue is "hopeless, but not serious":

The Palestinians cannot form a normal state. They cannot emigrate to Arab countries without accepting a catastrophic decline in living standards, and very few can emigrate to Western countries. The optimal solution for the Palestinians is to demand a state and blackmail Western and Arab donors with the threat of violence, but never actually get one.

That is why the Palestinian issue is "hopeless, but not serious"..., As long as all concerned understand that the comedy is not supposed to have an ending, the Palestinians can persist quite tolerably in their "intolerable" predicament.

Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian authority president, would seem to agree with Spengler:

In an interview with the Washington Post Mahmoud Abbas made the following astonishing statement:

“I will wait for Hamas to accept international commitments. I will wait for Israel to freeze settlements,” he said. “Until then, in the West Bank we have a good reality . . . the people are living a normal life.”

and of course I pointed out to the optical aberration manufactured by so-called pro-Palestinian activists, a long time ago, here.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Unknown Occupations

Oslo-Based Palestinian Writer Ahmad Abu Matar, in a televised debate with the former head of the Arab Writers Union, asks a question:

“Ahmad Abu Matar: “My colleague, Dr. ‘Ali ‘Oqla ‘Orsan, said, regarding the question of why we have forgotten Alexandretta, that it is all a question of priorities. To be honest, I do not understand these priorities. Alexandretta was occupied in 1936, and we have forgotten about it, and Al-Ahwaz was occupied in 1925, and we have forgotten about it. Palestine was occupied in 1948 - so what are the priorities? Do you want to liberate the first region to fall, or the last? If you want to start with the last region - go ahead and issue just one statement about the UAE islands occupied by Iran. This proves that there is a defect in the thinking of the anti-normalization committees.”

He is asking why the Palestinian cause is privileged by the Arab world, while other similar cases have been completely forgotten and even discarded from the Arab nationalist agenda?

It is a variation on the question asked by Andre Glucksmann:

“…On the scales of world opinion, some Muslim corpses are light as a feather, and others weigh tonnes. Two measures, two weights…. why do the 200,000 slaughtered Muslims of Darfur not arouse even half a quarter of the fury caused by 200-times fewer dead in Lebanon? Must we deduce that Muslims killed by other Muslims don’t count? This conclusion has its weak spots, because if the Russian Army - Christian, and blessed by their popes - razes the capital of Chechnian Muslims… killing tens of thousands of children in the process, this doesn’t count either. The Security Council does not hold meeting after meeting, and the Organization of Islamic States piously averts its eyes. From that we may conclude that the world is appalled only when Israelis kill a Muslim.

Should we thus presume that the public at large implicitly endorses the ideas that Ahmadinedjad shouts at the top of his lungs? And yet so many of those sceptics who display consternation over bombings in Lebanon seem shocked if you suspect them of anti-Semitism. I want to trust them. We don’t want to imagine that the entire planet is mired in anti-Jewish paranoia! But then the matter becomes even more puzzling. What is the source of this hemiplegia? Why is the world frightened by Israeli bombs alone?”

Here is some information about the two cases:

1. Alexandretta:

There is a deep rooted disagreement between Turkey and Syria over the Hatay Province.

Syrians hold the view that this land was illegally ceded to Turkey by France, the mandatory occupying power of Syria in the late 1930s. Syria still considers it an integral part of its own territory. Syrians call this land Liwa' aliskenderun (Arabic: لواء الاسكندرون‎) rather than the Turkish name of Hatay.

The referendum which was organized in 1939 by the French-backed Republic of Hatay remains a cause of tension in relations between Turkey and Syria. The referendum has been labelled phoney by the journalist Robert Fisk [3]. Official Syrian maps still show Hatay as a part of Syria (e.g. [4]). Historical details of this transfer of land from Syrian sovereignty to Turkish rule are given in "The Alexandretta Dispute" article published in the American Journal of International Law [5].

The French decision to cede the province to Turkey influenced Syrian President Hashim al-Atassi to resign in protest at continued French intervention in Syrian affairs, maintaining that the French were obliged to refuse the annexation under the Franco-Syrian Treaty of Independence of 1936. However, under the leadership of Syrian President Bashar al Assad from 2000 onwards there was a lessening of tensions between Turkey and Syria over the Hatay issue. Indeed, in early 2005, when visits from Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer and Turkish prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan opened a way to discussions between two states, it was claimed that the Syrian government announced it had no claims to sovereignty concerning Hatay any more.[6]. On the other hand there has been no official announcement by the Syrians relinquishing their rights of sovereignty.

Following changes to Turkish land registry legislation in 2003 a large number of properties in Hatay were purchased by Syrian nationals, mostly people who in fact had been residents of Hatay since the 1930s but had retained their Syrian citizenship and were in fact buying the properties that they already occupied. By 2006 the amount of land owned by Syrian nationals in Hatay exceeded the legal limit for foreign ownership of 0.5%, and sale of lands to foreigners was prohibited. [3] (see Foreign purchases of real estate in Turkey for more details}.

There has been a policy of cross border co-operation, on the social and economic level, between Turkey and Syria in the recent years. This allowed related families divided by the winded border to freely visit each other during the festive periods of Christmas and Eid. In December 2007 up to 27,000 Syrians and Turks crossed to border to visit their brethren on the other side. [7][8]

2. The Ahwazi Arab in Iran:

The Governor of Dashte-Azdegan in Khuzestan, a province in southwestern Iran where the majority of inhabitants are indigenous Arabs, declared that this region has the highest incidence of malnutrition among children in comparison to other cities and regions in Iran. [-]

What is the fault of the Ahwazi Arab indigenous people of Khuzestan that their children are being subjected to this hunger and malnutrition? ...

How would the Iranian ruling class in Tehran, which considers itself to be a part of the “Aryan Race” and habitually disrespects the indigenous Arabs of Iran, explains this tragedy? ... Why should the Arab inhabited province of Khuzestan, which produces over 4 million barrels of oil per day, be left backward and hungry, while the Persian provinces of Tehran, Yazd, Isfahan and Fars benefit from all the wealth generated by Ahwazi produced oil?

During the previous regime of the Shah, the name of this part of Khuzestan was changed from the Arabic name of Khafajieh to Dashtmishan. The current regime changed it to Azedegan. Both names were forced on the indigenous Ahwazi Arab inhabitants. Why? To de-Arabise and Persianize the area? Was this done to negate its historical identity?

Past and present Iranian regimens have attempted, but failed, to completely eradicate indigenous Ahwazi Arab identity, is it now the time to starve them to death? so as to force them off their oil-rich land? Is this why there is a new campaign of ethnic cleansing and hatred in Tehran led by individuals such as Mr. Mohsen Rezaie, Varjavand, Bavand, and Mirmehrdad Sanjari, or racist newspapers and websites in Tehran such as Shargh, Baztab and similar racist publications and websites that promote hate and ethnic cleansing against the indigenous Ahwazi Arabs of al-Ahwaz (Khuzestan). Is there an end in sight?

Past and present Iranian regimes have forcefully confiscated the lands of indigenous Arab peasants in Shoush, Dash-Azedagen, Ahwaz and other places, changed their names, degraded, disrespected , humiliated their indigenous Arabs inhabitants, and continuously mock them in their textbooks and publications. Is the ultimate aim total annihilation of over 4.5 million indigenous Ahwazi Arab inhabitants of Southwestern Iran through hunger and malnutrition?

Two facts strike me as I read of these disputed territories.

In the case of Alexandretta, even though Syria still considers it an integral part of its own territory, there has been a policy of cross border co-operation, on the social and economic level, between Turkey and Syria and even a renunciation of claims of sorts. Which means that where there is a will, there a way of coming to grips with territorial losses...

In the case of the Ahwazi Arabs, what strikes most is the total silence in the Arab world, and in the world, about their obviously wretched plight. Why the silence? Why the acceptance of such crimes against the humanity of the Ahwazi Arabs?

Which tells me that there is no will to continue the conflict with Turkey, and there is no will to compassion when it comes to the Ahwazis.

Which tells me that the whole moral outrage whipped up against Israel in its dealings with Palestinians is just a cynical ploy. And this suggests that its success relies on ingrained contempt for the dhimmi Jews. It's the outrage that ensues when age-old social orders are toppled, when the last become first, when the trampled, the despised, the cowering caste of Jews suddenly become sovereign, independent, and implacable in their resolve of never again.

It is the rage experienced by a deeply-racist culture against those whom the culture holds to be inferior.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Deviancy Defined Down

Via: Martin Kramer's Sandbox

Mr. Woolsey, a former director of Central Intelligence under President Clinton writes in WSJ:

Yet rather than promoting the rule of law in a future Palestine, the Obama administration essentially urges us to accept that, because Palestinians will kill unprotected Jews, Jews cannot be permitted in a Palestinian state.

This is what the late New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan called "defining deviancy down." Will it provide the basis for peace in the Middle East for us to define deviancy for Palestinians in such a way that essentially accepts Fatah's goal of a Jew-free Palestine? As Mr. Moynihan once wryly understated it, such a move would simply be our deciding to "get used to a lot of behavior that is not good for us"—let alone for Israelis and Palestinians.

So the premise that Palestine will be Judenrein is thus enshrined as a law unto itself, self-evident and self-explanatory.

Why would it stop with this premise?

How about sanctifying, by law, the antisemitic preachings in the Quran so that they become immune, in the West, including the US, from being noted, published or criticized? At what point will it be forbidden to object to that kind of preaching, because the premise of the perfidious Jew is part and parcel of Islamic sacrosanct scriptures?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

S(l)ights from the Arab Street

Solomonia posted about Haim Saban, a Jewish mogul of Hollywood fame, the following missive:

"Former Israeli billionaire Haim Saban is holding negotiations for the purchase of 50% of the al-Jazeera television network from the Qatari government, Egyptian newspaper al-Mesryoon reported Wednesday. The negotiations are said to be conducted through an Egyptian mediator.

According to the report, the television network is experiencing financial trouble despite its immense popularity. This is the second time Saban is negotiating with the Qatari emir."

On the comment thread following the post, Arabian, a young visitor from Abu-Dhabi made his position clear:

...from observations its clear that peace to arabs is forcasting the end of israel.
as to muslims is a much bigger and broader meaning. the endless struggle between devil and believers, where the devil is represented through people.

as for selling aljazeera in the age of capitalism, and arabs are extreem capitalist, these things cant be totally impossibale. but i have trust in the pure blood of althani )qatar rulers) and their substence. because they know money which god gave them is from god and not from jews or americans, who if they owned oxygen they wouldnt let qataries breath it.

O people of al alyia (the high places"althani")
when the crowds clash you have the last word
under you the pure horses are exhusted to the extreem
and you are the people of tradations and well known deeds

I recently discovered the Arab Street on the blogosphere and posted sights glimpsed of them


and here.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Nobel Prize for Literature

Even though the Israeli author Amos Oz was the #1 favourite, it is
Romanian-born German author Herta Müller who wins the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Says the Guardian article: "According to the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, Peter Englund, Müller's "moral momentum" means she fits the criteria for the award "perfectly".

"On one hand she's an excellent author with truly fantastic language," he said, "and on the other she has the capacity of really giving you a sense of what it's like to live in a dictatorship, also what it's like to be part of a minority in another country and what it's like to be an exile."

I guess Amos Oz's oeuvre did not quite live up to these important and necessary literary criteria.

Ah, well. I guess Israelis will have to do with just one measly Nobel Prize this year. What a bummer.

Maybe next year, after perhaps the Swedes will get Israel to apologize for the anti-semitic newspaper article in the Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Guardian's Shenanigans


This is a NASRADDIN HODJA moment. The discerning reader will make the intellectual leaps necessary to see the relevance of the story:

One day, an old friend asked Hodja to lend him a donkey, so that he could take some property to the market. Hodja replied that the donkey was busy at his brother's house. As the words left Hodja's lips, there was the sound of a donkey braying loudly, coming from just around the side of Hodja's house.

"I am shocked that you tried to trick me," said the friend. "We have known each other for so many years."

"Not enough years, perhaps," complained Hodja. "Don't you know yet that I am an honest man? You don't want to take my word but you are prepared instead to believe an old donkey!"

Comment Trail:

@ Bob's:

@ Ami Isseroff's ZionNation: About Gilad Shalit

@ Terry Glavin's: Of Myth-interpretation

@ Solomonia: Redgrave surprises...

Norwegian Precogs give Obama the Nobel Peace Prize

On October 3, 2009 SNL casts a satiric assessment of President Obama's list of achievements, here.

On October 9, 2009, The Norwegian Nobel Peace Prize committee published its decision to give the award to President Obama.

Are the two events linked? Is the award served to Obama as some sort of consolation prize by this august European body of political commentators? Is it a warning to the American people, not to start treating Obama as a mere mortal elected to be their president, but to continue to worship him as the messiah he really is, born to lead not only America but the entire world to.. somewhere?

Is it maybe much more simple than that?

Norman Spector speculates that it be that "the Committee’s decision to cite Mr. Obama at this stage of his presidency is that he is not George W. Bush."?


"The more generous interpretation is that the decision is hortatory; that is, it is designed to encourage the President to follow a path in U.S. foreign policy that is preferred by Committee members."

The gist of the two explanations is of course the same: That Obama pleases the anti-American sentiments still harboured by many Europeans. We like you, they say, because you made an appeasing speech to the Muslim world in Cairo, you went to great lengths to modulate your condemnation of Iranian atrocities in suppressing the demonstration of their own citizenry, you collaborated with the Egyptian representative to UN Human Rights commission to put restrictions on freedom of expression and to hold media ethically and legally accountable to "defamation of religions".

I wonder if this premature accolade will not end up being a source of great embarrassment, a millstone around the president's neck.

I am reminded of Spielberg's movie "Minority Report" in which a futuristic world experiments with pre-emptive crime prevention:

"In 2054, John Anderton is a member of an experimental Washington, D.C. police force known as Precrime, which uses future visions generated by three "precogs", mutated humans with precognition abilities, to stop murders."

The Peace Nobel Prize committee in its decision today acts very much like the precogs upon whose delirium the police apprehends criminals who have yet to commit their crimes.

The awarding of the prize is given not in recognition of actual, palpable, computable, countable, recorded, achievement but upon precongnition, "also called Future Sight, refers to perception that involves the acquisition of future information that cannot be deduced from presently available and normally acquired sense-based information."

The flaw in this system is of course that the picture glimpsed by the precogs can be awfully misleading, leading to a travesty of justice. They can only see the image, they cannot tell how it was generated, or what chain of events and circumstances coalesce into the making of that, as it happens, damning image. So the police acting on that kind of information have to rely to a great extent on blind faith ...

These are the signs of the time that we live in, in which prophetic visions replace empirical thinking, in which a myth gains all the legitimacy of verifiable factual truth, in which a blood libel is hailed as a UN Report, in which "human rights" is a term used to demonize and criminalize an entire nation for exercising the right to keep its people safe from harm.

It's as if "peace" and "truth" have now acquired other meaning, which reside alongside the meanings commonly and previously known for these terms.

As Anne Carson, the great Canadian poet, wrote:

"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. "

It would appear that Homer's gods have awarded President Obama a Peace Prize.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Barking Dogs and Moving Caravans

Remember this post?

Buj the Arab blogger brings glad tidings to his readers: Israel will not survive beyond the next five years

The same Buj delights in antisemitic cartoons

And encourages others to follow his inclination to publish the emetic cartoons produced by the feverish imagination of a Holocaust-denying cartoonist

Holocaust denial and a yearning for the destruction of Israel seem like the two pet-peeves of much of the Arab world. These two bloggers represent a mainstream position, even moderate when you compare it with some others.

Well, Israel may be doomed to disappear in five years but in the meantime it is doing pretty well for itself:

Americans and an Israeli won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work on how the DNA code is translated into life, findings that have been used to fight infectious disease.

Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, 57, who heads the Structural Studies Division at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England; Thomas A. Steitz , 69, Sterling Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale University in Connecticut, and Ada E. Yonath, a professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, will share the 10 million-krona ($1.4 million) award, the Nobel Assembly said at a press conference in Stockholm today.

Their work revealed what ribosomes, which produce proteins that control the chemistry in all living organisms, look like and how they function at the atomic level. The Laureates also created three-dimensional models that show how different antibiotics bind to the ribosome, research that has been applied to develop new anti-infective medicines. Yonath is the first woman to win the chemistry accolade in 45 years.

Well, then, to borrow an Arab saying that illustrates with great Arab pithiness the superiority of the movers and doers to the populist appeal of "swollen envy" and futile clamour:

"Though the dog may bark the caravan (kafila) moves on."


Update: More brave barking from Buj: Latuf caricaturizes Israel's outrage towards the Goldstone Report, the modern day blood libel, about which Ari Shavit, in today's Haaretz, wrote:

For decades the Goldstone bunch has been conducting an insane incitement campaign against Israel. Israel contributed its part to this campaign with the occupation, the settlements and its arrogance. But the Goldstoners are not driven by an honest attempt to divide the land, create peace and establish universal justice that would apply to all nations. They are driven by a deep need to isolate Israel, condemn it and destroy it.

Although some of the leading Goldstoners are Jews and Israelis, they don't recognize Jewish history, the Jewish tragedy and the difficult circumstances in which the Jewish state is trying to survive. They treat Israel like a wicked, omnipotent power that is responsible for all the conflict's sins and the region's ills.

The Goldstone report would never have been written without the joint work, joint bias and joint Israel-hatred of all the Goldstoners. Thus the report reflects both the Goldstoners' holy fury and their complete belief that the Palestinians can do no wrong.

That belief is now endangering not only Israel but calm and stability. In their fanaticism and extremism, Goldstone and the Goldstoners have brought us closer to bloodshed.

Buj has recently discovered the very gratifying art of Jew-baiting. He learned that the publication of a Holocaust denying cartoonist's caricatures is deeply offensive to Jews, so naturally, what would a peace-loving Arab blogger who does not have an antisemitic thought in his mind, do but post in rapid succession a variety of the cartoons he can find by this Holocaust-denier? Exactly the sort of thoughtful conduct and universal morals one would expect from someone who prays for peace...

Update: More pygmitania from Buj: He is cool he likes motorcycles. Are you impressed yet? Too bad he doesn't manage to keep up his cool appearances: "Shame the artist is Israeli, ". To paraphrase George Orwell, Buj wears a mask but his face never grows to fit it. The mask keeps slipping off ..

Anyway, Let's give thanks for one blessing: that Buj is not an Israeli.

21st Century Blood Libel

I. The Goldstone Report was commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council following Israel's military action in Gaza. The Council's objective was the political defeat of Israel by gutting any lawful exercise of the country's right of self-defense.

The Council set a mandate to focus only on Israel and its predetermined violations of international law. The Council selected investigators who had already publicly expressed the view that Israel was guilty.

This video contains footage of the Council's consideration of the Goldstone report. Lining up to congratulate Goldstone are some of the world’s leading human rights abusers. They understood the report as granting a license to declare Israel guilty of a "holocaust," "concentration camps," "genocide," and "crimes against humanity."

Also in the video are statements by Israel's accusers which illustrate the political agenda behind the Goldstone mission.

The video includes Anne Bayefsky's response to Goldstone during his "dialogue" with states and non-governmental organizations at the Council, and Goldstone's Israel/South African apartheid analogy as an answer to her cricitism. While the President of the Human Rights Council castigates Bayefsky for her remarks, he has no difficulty thanking Israel's attackers for their hate-filled demonization of the Jewish state.

Watch video, here

(Via: Eye on the UN)

II. Listening to member states in their eagerness to condemn Israel, one keeps hearing

"Israel guilty of a "holocaust," "concentration camps," "genocide," and "crimes against humanity."

However, a few days later, Richard Goldstone sat with the very obliging Fareed Zakaria where the following exchange took place:

ZAKARIA: When you look at these crimes against humanity, these war crimes, how do they compare? You have a long career. You've seen many of these kinds of things, investigated some. Where does this stand? How should we think of it?

GOLDSTONE: Well, you know, I don't like making comparisons because each situation is so different. But certainly one can compare what has happened here to situations that I've investigated in the former Yugoslavian genocide. One doesn't here in respect of Gaza get anywhere in my view anywhere near that sort of situation.

It's very different. Many people are comparing what's happening in the occupied territories to apartheid South Africa. I don't like that comparison. There's some similarities, but there are more differences.

The the testimony of the author himself, who wrote what amounts to a harsh prosecutorial indictment of Israel, severe enough in its findings to merit being labeled as a "blood libel" (a judgment I concur with), objects to comparisons --equivalences-- suggested between the events he investigated and such enterprises as genocide, holocaust or apartheid.

So one wonders if even one of those who rushed with such glee to condemn Israel of genocide and what not, actually read the report or even paid the scantest attention to what Goldstone was saying (as perfidiously slanderous as it is).

And what kind of moral weight, then, would we give a commission that does not even bother to read the reports it has initiated in the first place.

It appears that facts, records, legal opinions are of little use for the UNHR Commission.

UPDATE: Richard Goldstone himself now seems to be backing away from the report’s conclusions

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Selma's Prayer

From Tehran with Love

I was thinking that I wanted my children to live…

Because I have not.

I want them to live a life that is nothing like what I’ve lived…

I want them to know how it feels to kiss a lover in the streets and proudly let every passer watch you. I want them to make love without feeling guilty. I want them to love without fear.

I want them to wear all the colors of rainbow in one go, and feel safe. I want them to know that the police are out there watching the rapists and criminals, not young girls wearing skinny jeans and laughing a free spirited laugh. I want them to drink…I want them to party…I want them to let the breeze caress their hair… I want them to think of headscarves as occasional accessories, for fun, a fashion statement …not a fascist obligation for everyday…I want them to join face book without the need for anti-proxy software.

don’t want them to know how it feels to sleep in a bomb shelter, when you are five. I don’t want them to know what a red alert siren before the bombings sounds like. I don’t want them to watch anti air craft rockets against the dark sky, and remember that every time they see a shooting star when they are 27. I don’t want them to shiver at the sound o thunder storm.

I don’t want them to know what revolutionary executions are. I don’t want them to know revolutions never create the idealistic heavens they preach.

I don’t want them to be tortured and killed for their vote. I don’t want them to sigh every time they hear “civil liberties”. I don’t want them to cringe at the thought of another 4 years…40 years…who knows…

I was thinking that I wanted my children to live…because I have not.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Selective Compassion:

Modernity Blog has a very pithy post about world indifference to the torments of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

When "Alan Johnston, the journalist, was held in Gaza for some 114 days..

Western media were full of stories about him, delegates of worthy citizens pleaded for his safe return, so many column inches were expended on his plight.

Compare that with Gilad Shalit, who was kidnapped from Israel’s territory during an attack in June 2006, pulled down a tunnel back into Gaza.

Held as a POW by Hamas, but afforded none of the rights, no visits, no Red Cross, etc.

Gilad Shalit’s family, until now, had no confirmation if he was alive or dead. No information was forth coming from Hamas, nothing, nada, zip.

After a brokered agreement by the Egyptians and Germans a video of Gilad Shalit and some letters were exchanged for 20 female prisoners in Israel’s jails.

Gilad’s captors, Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic resistance movement Hamas, even made him state how wonderful their treatment of him was, here’s a cached copy of their web site.

If you followed the Western media you’d hardly see anything about the Israeli solider, kidnapped, deny the basics under the Geneva convention, held in incommunicado for three and a half years.

Hardly a sausage in the media about Gilad Shalit’s treatment, yet plenty about Gitmo or even Abu Ghraib."

To steal a phrase from Bibi Netanyahu's UN speech: Have you no shame? Have you no decency?

In Canada, gallons of ink have been poured over the fate of Omar Khadr, this young Gitmo prisoner, a bit older than Gilad.

When Khadr was fifteen years old, he provided support to terrorism and allegedly threw a grenade that killed a US soldier.

When Gilad was 11 years old, he wrote a short story about an impossible friendship between a shark and fish who become friends and stay playmates even as their parents pressure them to remain enemies. In the end, the characters' friendship leads to peace between their species.

Canadian "Progressives" have been lobbying relentlessly to bring Khadr home, to restore him to his family, a family that actively supported BinLaden's efforts.

About Gilad, it was mainly silence and indifference.

Compare and contrast. Have they no shame? Have they no decency?

Jail and 100 lashes for "adultery"

Saudi Gazette reports:

JEDDAH – A 23-year-old unmarried woman was awarded one-year prison term and 100 lashes for committing adultery and trying to abort the resultant fetus.

The District Court in Jeddah pronounced the verdict on Saturday after the girl confessed that she had a forced sexual intercourse with a man who had offered her a ride. The man, the girl confessed, took her to a rest house, east of Jeddah, where he and four of friends assaulted her all night long.
The girl claimed that she became pregnant soon after and went to King Fahd Hospital for Armed Forces in an attempt to carry out an abortion. She was eight weeks’ pregnant then, the hospital confirmed.

According to the ruling, the woman will be sent to a jail outside Jeddah to spend her time and will be lashed after delivery of her baby who will take the mother’s last name.

As can be noted from the comments, the " reporter used the term the court used to hand down its verdict. The court ruling did not mention it as a 'rape incident.' The court, however, did not release further details about its decision. We just report the story like it is told."

(Via: Saudi Jeans)

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Two Unrelated Matters about Israel

I. From the Dubavian (from Dubai) blogger Buj al-Arab I get to read a charming article by one Jeff Gates who predicts, with sanguine malevolence that in five years Israel will not longer exist. Read Buj's pleasure in this prediction and the comments left on his blog:

Online reports of a study by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency cast doubt over the survival of Israel beyond the next two decades. Regardless of the validity of the report, with what is now known about the costs in blood and treasure that the U.S.-Israeli relationship has imposed on the U.S., its key ally, Israel could fall within five years.

Commenter says:

No one can claim that land is their "birth right" if they dont exist. I hope that next time, the Muslims who do end up in that situation commit mass genocide to make sure it's the last time.

Muslim Arabs should also start killing off christian Arabs in places like Egypt and lebanon... Jordan...

It will show it's benefits in the future.

In the interest of full honesty, Buj once remarked that above commenter is known among UAE bloggers as a nutcase. However, when I read Buj's blog and I read the presumably nutcase comments, I notice only a difference in style and sincerity, but not in substance: Buj clearly relishes the idea of an Israel destroyed without considering what this will mean to the 6 million Jews who currently live there. The other one only takes Buj's pleasure in the thought of Israel's destruction to its logical conclusion. They both pray for peace, though it is hard to figure out what they mean by "peace".

II: It is Nobel Prize season, and the nominees have been published.

From Israel,

YAKIR AHARONOV was nominated for the Physics Nobel.

Prof. Yakir Aharonov is on the faculties of the University of South Carolina and Chapman University in Orange County, California. He, together with Prof. Michael Berry of the UK's University of Bristol, discovered the Aharonov-Bohm Effect and the related Berry Phase. The two theoretically predicted the effect, which was later proven experimentally and had a wide influence on the development of the basic principles of quantum mechanics. The effects clearly show that in quantum theory, the essence of electromagnetic forces is significantly different from the way in which they function in classical physics."

And for the Nobel in literature apparently Amos Oz is the favourite:

"According to the betting site Ladbrokes, Israeli author Amos Oz has the best odds of winning--the 4 to 1 favorite. The long shots are William H. Gass and Paul Auster, both with 100 to 1 odds. Bob Dylan clocks in with 25 to 1 odds. Americans Joyce Carol Oates and Philip Roth both have strong 7 to 1 odds. Haruki Murakami and Thomas Pynchon both weigh in with respectable 9 to 1 odds."

Considering this is a Swedish panel deciding I don't think Oz stands much of a chance to win this honour, considering the recent kerfuffle. But still, it appears that most literary pundits would like to see him take the award.

I myself am not a great fan of Oz. I read some of his novels and recall with special fondness "My Michael".

There are 8 Nobelists from Israel:

  1. Robert Aumann, Germany, Economics, 2005
  2. Aaron Ciechanover, Chemistry, 2004
  3. Avram Hershko, Hungary, Chemistry, 2004
  4. Daniel Kahneman, Economics, 2002
  5. Yitzhak Rabin, Peace, 1994
  6. Shimon Peres, (then Poland, now Belarus), Peace, 1994
  7. Menachem Begin, (then Russia, now Belarus), Peace, 1978
  8. Shmuel Yosef Agnon, (then Austria-Hungary, now Ukraine), Literature, 1966

I am discounting #5 and #6 since the peace for which the two leaders were awarded the prize never materialized. So, only 6 significant Nobels have gone to Israel thus far, one for each million, or one for each decade of its existence, or one for each war ...

Why I placed these two stories in proximity to one another should be obvious to anyone who has intelligence and some sense of irony.

Glatt Kosher Muslim - the Ultimate Self-Hating Jew

Norm has the story, here.

And Solomon, too.

Can you imagine the kind of boot licking this person has to do in order to persuade the ayatollahs he is a Kosher Muslim?


Update: Some disagree. Amen!

Musical Break for Saturday

It's a long time since I thought about the Israeli singer Matti Kaspi, a favourite of mine from long ago. Mick Hartley's post about Gilberto Gil reminded me, both because Kaspi had a very fruitful "Brazilian" phase in his career, as well as the deadpan, low-key style of singing.

So here are three songs:

Veotach (And you...or: After you left)

I didn't dream you would leave me... (This version performed at the Memorial Service of the song's lyricist, one of Israel's greatest artists, Ehud Manor who had passed away all too soon from this world).

Eliezer Ben Yehuda
(With Hava Alberstein and the Parvarim Duo)