Deja vu - Judith Apter Klinghoffer
Dr. Judith Apter Klinghoffer taught history and International relations at Rowan University, Rutgers University, the Foreign Affairs College in Beijing as well as at Aarhus University in Denmark where she was a senior Fulbright professor. She is an affiliate professor at Haifa University. Her books include Israel and the Soviet Union, Vietnam, Jews and the Middle East: Unintended Consequences and , International Citizens' Tribunals: Mobilizing Public Opinion to Advance Human Rights
Two people fired shots from a vehicle towards a synagogue in Oslo, Norway, on Saturday night, sources from the Foreign Ministry reported. No injuries were reported in the incident. The local police are investigating the case.
My heart skipped a bit reading this report. My husband and I visited the synagogue a number of times during our 1995-96 stint as fellows of the Nobel Institute there. I mention it because even then, less than a year after the Institute gave the Noble prize to Rabin, Peres and Arafat, we were surprised by the stringent security measures at the synagogue. We were told they were a response to previous attacks and ongoing threats against this tiny Jewish community.
The same is true this time. The Synagogue was vandalized in the beginning of August. The incident was captured by the building's cameras. Community leader Anne Sender asked for additional protection because the Jewish community feels particularly exposed:
This is both psychological and quite real. There was a very concrete example a few weeks ago. At the same time it is important not to exaggerate. Most Norwegians do not hate Jews. But we cannot protect ourselves from this unprovoked violence, even though we try.
One of the way they tried to protect themselves was by placing surveillance cameras around their neighborhoods. The local authorities ordered their removal as it was the job of the police to protect them.
Earlier this month it was revealed that the Jewish Community was not being paranoid. Their synagogue was, indeed, a terror target:
"I can confirm that we received information that an attack was planned against the synagogue," Anne Sender of The Mosaic Religious Community in Norway (Det Mosaiske Trossamfund, DMT) told newspaper VG on Monday.
Sender said the threats were so credible and alarming that they were taken"very seriously," and the synagogue's security went on high alert. She wouldn't say who provided the information to DMT, nor would Norwegian intelligence officials comment on the terror threat.
VG reported, however, that the threats came just as police in Italy were rounding up several members of an Algerian-linked group, GSPC, believed to be tied to al-Qaida. Two of the members reportedly had checked airline ticket prices to Norway just before they were arrested.
The two also are believed to have been in Norway earlier, in 2004, using false identity documents they obtained in France. Police believe they were in contact with several persons in Oslo who support the GSPC.
Once source told VG that two Norwegian Muslims and a third person would take part in attacks on two terrorist targets in Oslo. One of the targets was the synagogue, located on Bergstien in the capital's St Hanshaugen district.
The other alleged target wasn't revealed.
Will Norwegians march in solidarity with their fellow Jewish citizens and prove they are no longer a nation of Quizlings? Sadly, this quote from Bill Kristol's article Anti-Judaism on the Rise causes me to doubt it:
Meanwhile, over in Europe, Norwegian writer Jostein Gaarder, author of"Sophie's World," announced in Norway's leading newspaper, the Aftenposten, the end of Israel:"There is no turning back. It is time to learn a new lesson: We do no longer recognize the state of Israel . . . . We must now get used to the idea: The state of Israel in its current form is history. . . . Fear not! The time of trouble shall soon be over. The state of Israel has seen its Soweto. . . . May spirit and word sweep away the apartheid walls of Israel. The state of Israel does not exist. It is now without defense, without skin. May the world therefore have mercy on the civilian population."
Mr. Gaarder's distaste for Israel seemed to be based on his dislike of Israel's policies, his revulsion against the God of Israel ("an insatiable sadist"), and his anger that,"for two thousand years, we have rehearsed the syllabus of humanism, but Israel does not listen." It's not clear who that"we" has been for two thousand years. But since Israel has only existed since 1948, it is presumably the Jews, not merely, Israel, who have not listened. (It was, however, generous of Mr. Gaarder to call for mercy for the Jewish civilian population.)
Posted on Monday, September 25, 2006 - 13:48
Dear readers, this is no place or occasion to reply to the charges brought up against Islam and its followers. Anyone who has sincerely attempted to study the faith and its history would agree that it has nothing to do with extremism or violence. In fact, unlike the Catholic Church that went through a tumultuous transition with unpleasant epochs such as the Inquisition and encounters with other faiths and sects, Islam has always remained faithful to its original message of peace.
It is this lack of honest reckoning with the past, not to mention the present that makes interfaith dialogue so difficult.
Posted on Monday, September 25, 2006 - 13:50
Posted on Monday, September 25, 2006 - 13:50
The six nations offering Iran talks on a package of trade and other incentives are the five permanent members of the Security Council -- Britain, France, Germany, Russia and the United States -- plus Germany.
It was the first time a leader of one of the six has said the suspension of uranium enrichment could be done during, and not as a precondition, for talks. . . .
Chirac’s new stance also jarred with that of the European Union which said in a statement Monday that suspending enrichment activities was ‘no longer a voluntary confidence-building measure but an international obligation’ for Iran.
It does bring France more in line with two other veto-wielding permanent Security Council members -- China and Russia -- who have also balked at the prospect of sanctions.
An EU diplomat told AFP that Chirac’s comments severely undermined the three-nation group leading EU negotiations on Iran, which includes France itself, along with Britain and Germany.
‘It weakens our position, that is clear,’ the diplomat said on condition of anonymity.
Why? What Happened? Try simple bribery.
TEHRAN, Sept. 17 (MNA) – Despite the U.S. sanctions and business restriction on Iran, the coming Wednesday is to witness the inking of a finance agreement between National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and French Societe General Bank for development plans in oil- and gas-rich southern Iran.
The $2.7b figure is going to finance the development projects at phases 17 and 18 of the South Pars Oil and Gas Field and the capital return will be satisfied by the revenues coming from gas and condensate sales.
Of course, Chirac's anti-Americanism and anti-Sarkozy (he shook Bush's hand!) sentiments bolster his delight at being able to outmaneuver yet another American Secretary of State.
Posted on Monday, September 25, 2006 - 13:52
Four men were arrested. More expected. They planned to attack the American and Israeli embassies. More arrests expected.
Posted on Monday, September 25, 2006 - 13:53
"We do not discuss politics," explain the only French teacher in the country who was the focus of this report by France 2. He tells of being startled and a bit scared by the lack of cars on the streets and the dark which descends on the city at night. The public transportation is in shambles and people"walk quite a bit."
France 2 called the country, the last Stalinist country on earth. It is worse. It is a true Orwellian universe, a place where indoctrinated slaves believe they are free. It is a place ruled by an elite that could not have maintained its stranglehold on its people without outside support. It is also a regime which could not have been able to divert its meager resources to the development of missiles bearing nuclear bombs without the rest of the world helping it feed, heat and cloth its people.
Diplomatic sophisticates urge the US"to conduct a dialogue," i.e., aid and abet even more this despicable regime which would soon be able to lobe nuclear missiles at territorial US. Fortunately, the Bush administration has not yet succumbed to their advice but in line with UN resolution, it instituted some targeted financial sanctions on those companies tied to the nuclear developments and welcomed the decision of her allies, Australia and Japan to adopt similar action. Mind you, these sanctions are still loser than the one which were in place before the Clinton administration embarked on its self defeating appeasement of Kim Fils.
As could have been expected, China expressed its unhappiness with the Japanese and Australian sanctions. After all, North Korea is to China what Syria, Hezbollah and Hams are to Iran, a stick with which to threaten indirectly its neighbors. So, recent revelations relating to Chinese nuclear and missile technologies transfers to North Korea should not come as a surprise.
Making it cheaper for China to sustain the North Korean regime should not be in anybody's interest. But that, of course, is not the thrust of France 2 report. Instead, it bemoans the absence of diplomatic relations between France and North Korea.
Posted on Monday, September 25, 2006 - 13:54
Youths wielding iron bars beat up two riot policemen patrolling a rough housing project in a southern Paris suburb, police officials said Wednesday.
One officer was hospitalized with a double fracture of the skull during Tuesday night's incident in Corbeil-Essonnes, a police source said. His colleague reportedly sustained facial and body injuries. Police were called in to disperse the gang of up to 30 youths who stoned the unmarked police car as it patrolled the area, police officials said.
The police got out of their car, were encircled and attacked. Some of the youths were armed with iron bars, according to reports.
No arrests were made following the incident, police said.
"These youths fear nothing," a police union official said on LCI television.
France 2 reports that the suburbs have remained lawless. Police is scarce and gang crime is out of control. Socialists blame Sarkozy for not having enough police in the area. Le Monde published parts of a letter sent by the"mayor" of one of the worse suburbs, Seine-Saint-Denis where evidence not only of past arson but on going arson and crime are everywhere:
Jean-Francois Cordet, prefect of the Seine-Saint-Denis region north of Paris -- where the riots began -- sent an angry letter to Sarkozy in June complaining about a 14 percent increase in physical violence, a nearly 23 percent increase in theft with violence and the sense of impunity of juvenile delinquents. The daily Le Monde published excerpts of the letter.
Sarkozy, whose chances of becoming succeeding Chirac may be damaged by his failure to bring crime under control, blames the courts for not being tough enough on the perpetrators. As evidence he cites statistics demonstration that as gang crime increased in the past year, the number of prisoners decreased by over 15%. A judge said that the answer was not sending" children" to prison. The reporter showed the worsening economic blight which accompanies the crime spree.
These recent developments provide an interesting counter point to an apologist Le Monde Diplomatique article I posted bellow entitled "France: state of the estates." It argues that there is nothing to worry about since the French urban riots were far less destructive than those in Los Angeles and Mumbai. It also opposed any attempt to get rid of the high rises in which these gangs thrive. Indeed, it praises the gang counter culture. I suspect the judges, who refuse to do anything to rid the suffering communities of these"destroyers", share Denis Duclos's views.
What really happened in november ’05?
France: state of the estates
By Denis Duclos
With the benefit of hindsight it becomes clear how hasty were many of the conclusions drawn by analysts on both the left and the right after the urban unrest in France in November 2005. They took little account of the many in-depth studies on the subject (1) and generally failed to put the troubles in their proper perspective, both in time and in their relation to similar events elsewhere in the world.
Inside and outside France, there have been three main explanations for the troubles. One was that ethnic, cultural and religious tensions, exacerbated by a failure to integrate successive waves of immigrants, caused the problems on underprivileged banlieue estates. This view was defended by Alain Finkielkraut (2) and Hélène Carrère d’Encausse (3), but disputed by Olivier Todd (4).
Another explanation was that the structure of immigrant families had broken down, the only remedy for this being to restore the moral, educational and disciplinary standards of the young generation and of their parents.
It was also suggested that the root problem was mass unemployment of the young on sink estates, and the wider socio-economic deprivation of their inhabitants.
Comparing the crisis in France to similar events elsewhere may help to clarify and put in perspective these explanations, and in some cases contradict them. There are even specific features of the French events that might encourage some optimism, which is seldom the case elsewhere. For example, racial, cultural and religious strife were not in fact major factors in the banlieue revolt, which partly explains why there were so few casualties. Urban riots triggered by religious hatred can cause thousands of deaths (as was the case in India in 1992-3 when members of Mumbai’s Muslim and Hindu communities clashed). Fighting between racial groups has claimed lives elsewhere, including during urban riots in the United States, particularly in Los Angeles, between the 1960s and 1990s.
In other situations, local enmity, which may become a political issue, can cause the sort of recurrent, long-term suffering that is still experienced in Palestine and Northern Ireland (5). It may suddenly change and escalate, especially with outside interference, into civil war (Beirut at the end of the 1970s) or genocide (Rwanda in 1994).
These examples remind us that extreme urban violence may erupt in situations in which the “problem”, often minority, population (African Americans, Indian Muslims, Northern Irish Catholics) is not foreign, but has been settled for centuries. It may even, as with the Northern Irish Catholics, be the indigenous population. Just as in any social class, the opposing groups have similar mores and are only differentiated by faith. So it seems unreasonable to put all the blame for the French troubles on conflict between the cultures of recent immigrants and the national culture.
Not a recruiting ground, yet
The social and political unrest in France does involve young people of foreign parentage, but religious activists have so far failed to turn that to their advantage. As even the police have emphasised, fundamentalist Muslim clerics have not tried to find new recruits among young rebels. Perhaps egalitarian, liberal forces already exert too great an influence over them, since they seem more sympathetic to republican, perhaps even anarchist, ideals than to some quest for spiritual purity. The unrest has not caused a deep rift in the identity of these youngsters.
However, once a separatist identity has taken root in a community of believers it becomes far more durably dangerous than sudden outbursts of juvenile resentment. To rely on community and religious leaders, and their pacifism, to restore order, as some politicians and analysts advocate, would be a serious mistake. This would merely contribute to the climate of religious and racial confrontation increasingly rife in northern Europe, especially the Islamophobia gripping Holland, Denmark and the Flemish part of Belgium.
It would make little sense to do so in France anyway, there being no open conflict between ethnic groups, though a return to racist beatings and victimisation by the police, as happened in the past, is always possible. The remaining far-right groups are not strong enough to risk provoking the “foreigners” in their “ghettos”, unlike the British National Party in Britain, which was responsible for baiting Pakistani and Bangladeshi youth, thus indirectly triggering riots in Oldham and Bradford in 2001.
We should ask a rather different question. France has a secular tradition and a reasonably open mind on differences of race, culture and religion (6). And it has no religious or political groups that would dare openly to provoke the youth in a particular community. So how has it been possible to foment rage in one location and for that rage then to spread to other parts of the country?
It seems clear that only the state is in a position to trigger or restrict confrontation, a view borne out by recent events. Successive rightwing governments since 2002 have deliberately demolished all the real or symbolic firewalls, such as the youth employment scheme, which were introduced by their socialist predecessors to reduce social tension in underprivileged areas. Last autumn they began to pay the price.
Upholding law and order
In a country such as France only the government can incite officials to behave in a hostile or aggressive manner. Political leaders and the government have taken the place of popular antagonism, in the process reaping several indirect benefits. They can claim to be upholding law and order, whereas in fact they contribute to unrest. This may seem a dangerous political gamble, but it may also be seen as a last stand before some final acknowledgement of the Other, whose existence cannot be denied much longer without causing people to suspect that the political leaders and government have malicious designs, possibly against a wide range of citizens (7).
So there is no need to look far for the basic, recurrent cause of urban revolt, even among the young. It mostly results from a lack of respect. The authorities have failed to recognise people on the problem estates, particularly youths, as cultural and political subjects in the sociological sense. This is the fault of the representatives of the authorities, and is reflected in their indifference, implicit distrust and sense of superiority. This causes harassment by police or officials and deliberate attempts to make it difficult for the estate-dwellers to find work.
We know that a climate of official distrust inevitably provokes trigger events. There have been comparable outbursts in the US, and each time the pattern is strikingly similar, with a member of a “difficult” minority being wrongfully pursued, arrested or sentenced, or beaten up during a police raid. (Rodney King was assaulted in 1991 by Los Angeles police; boys running away from the police in Clichy-sous-Bois were electrocuted in a substation.)
Friends soon find out what has happened to the victims. The community quickly hears the news thanks to modern media, prompting an immediate response, particularly among the young. Their anger focuses on symbols of authority and economic power, rather than other groups or individuals. They cause considerable material damage, although serious injuries or fatalities are unusual unless the police deliberately provoke confrontation in a show of force.
There is a guaranteed ratchet effect. The more a repressive state consciously or unconsciously seeks vengeance, the more deaths there will be. The French state has so far exercised a certain restraint, avoiding mass confrontation and the risk of involving older members of the community, who would use the many firearms readily available but usually reserved for crime. Perhaps the authorities remember May 1968 or the Malek Oussékine affair in 1986 (8). It is possible that police on the ground now have a better understanding of what is at stake.
However, the more the government authorises educators, social workers and above all the police (or in future the army) to adopt the approach of controlling people, the more likely it is to cause humiliation, inevitably sowing the seeds of further urban unrest. Preparing for the worst with plans for armed occupation of estates would lead straight to what such measures are meant to prevent: civil war.
Keep the tower blocks
About the physical context of urban unrest, and drawing on the work of Loïc Wacquant (9) and other commentators, we should consider a few points which suggest that the wholesale demolition of the much-maligned banlieue tower blocks is not really advisable.
Contrary to the claims of some sociologists, the arrangement of the flats within each block hinders the formation of ethnic or religious ghettos. The film director Mathieu Kassovitz (10) noted that groups of young people were relatively mixed and research has since confirmed this.
Luckily, a melting pot really exists, which is not true in Britain, where poor whites seem relatively segregated from coloured communities. Nor is such exchange possible in segregated US neighbourhoods, where a fear of other minorities prevails (11). The 1992 riots in South Central, a poor suburb of Los Angeles, were partly due to friction between three “racial” communities - Latinos, Asians and African Americans (12); there continued to be an annual average of 300 murders until the end of the 1990s. Just as the American poor are lumped together in racially defined units, so the rich are self-isolated in ethnically exclusive gated communities (13). The spread of such estates is fuelling forms of racial hatred almost unheard of in France.
The tower blocks, which rise like medieval fortresses, are difficult to police, but do help discourage provocation by racist thugs, unlike the small terraced houses so common in Britain. The towers are also too visible for it to be possible to hide Albanian slaves labouring for the local population as has happened in Italy and Greece.
France’s large out-of-town housing estates are generally the preserve of people, with all the necessary permits, who have demonstrated their ability to support themselves; unlike the slum dwellings still found in town centres, often occupied by unofficial immigrants. Income on the estates is nevertheless 30% below the national average and youth unemployment two or three times higher (14). Many of those who want to find work must drive to a distant workplace without a licence or insurance. But thanks to government grants and subsidies, a range of public and community initiatives and a genuine local economy, people do not die of hunger in the banlieues.
Some of the estates are in a poor state of repair, but this is due as much to real economic difficulties as to banlieue culture. Vandalism owes much to impotent rage, a sentiment often shared by the young in more prosperous quarters with their streets of detached houses. This raises the issue of recognition. Ideas such as delinquency, anti-social behaviour and cultural disintegration do not much help engagement with the need for recognition. They tend to encourage observers to disregard the issue.
Ready for life outside the nest
Some commentators have suggested, groundlessly, that certain lifestyles are incompatible, citing the deculturation caused by transplantion to a new setting, especially for the youngest members of an immigrant community. Pre-adolescents in Africa enjoy considerable freedom and it is traditional for them to form gangs, grouped by gender and age group. But this does not mean families have lost control of their offspring, rather that it is an early trial period for life outside the nest (15), corresponding to ancestral practices designed to prevent incest.
There is no doubt that problems can arise when the chill control of European society replaces the village’s more congenial authority. But that should perhaps encourage us to consider the solitude and disregard for the law to which our own, supposedly superior, system leads.
Analysts have found many ways of describing the banlieue as an inferno where mental and moral decline is inevitable, but such terms only partly describe a material reality, and mostly fail to convey the perceptions of people actually living there. Such descriptions are often a part of the denigration of the homes of working people from distant countries by the prosperous, fashionable classes. The well-off like to believe the occupants of poor estates are overwhelmed by their afflictions and terrorised by their neighbours. The rich forget that a neighbourhood is often the only thing that the young can call their own. It is a place about which to complain and joke, a patch to defend and a base for petty crime. The young estate-dwellers long to escape, but surely anyone who is young dreams of leaving his or her childhood environment. Many French rap songs remind us how often such dreams are shattered, but they also stress the solidarity that prevails on the estates. They may want to leave but they are nevertheless proud of their concrete jungles.
Segregation in the US is far worse than in France, but even there it has been exaggerated by commentators and outside observers. Even today people live quite normal lives, sending their children to school in Watts, a neighbourhood of Los Angeles where just venturing out is supposed to be hazardous. Insufficient attention has been paid to the effects of automatic vilification, the way it helps destroy a sense of neighbourhood solidarity and fosters a gang spirit, provoking widespread antagonism and revolt, even if it does not contribute directly to the development of organised crime (16).
The unruly behaviour of gangs can be unbearable, but a distinction needs to be made between rebelliousness and the ordinary explosive energy of the young. Exuberant young people make a noise, but no more than they do in many middle-class homes. Nor is it unusual for the young to take less interest than their elders in the problem of employment, or the matter of work. Sometimes the authorities want to quell this exuberance (labelled as hyperactivity or lack of inhibition in repressive psycho-speak), thus provoking a spiral of hatred (17).
Some commentators have been irritated by the way that this turbulent vitality has produced an expansive culture which is much easier to share than the middle-of-the-road culture of the commentators. They implicitly attack not rootlessness or poor integration but the enthrallment of French youth and media by banlieue culture. The hip-hop movement, which came out of poor estates, is making banlieue culture into a force for integration, perhaps even more powerful, given its international inspiration, than the working-class culture it replaces.
The intrinsic value of rap music is uneven, as is the case with most other popular music, but it often contains political and philosophical comment, even moments of poetry, that make it preferable to the bland material that schools serve up as art. Cultural integration is speeding up, but it is moving in the opposite direction from that expected. Young people in remote French country villages pick up banlieue accents as the bourgeois youth of Paris used to imitate working-class speech. They listen to the misfortunes of Diam, take lessons from Doc Gyneco (particularly N’oublie jamais d’où tu viens), and hear appeals from Disiz la Peste, 113, Busta Flex, or La Brigade. There are even new versions of numbers from the mid-1990s by artists such as NTM, MC Solaar, Passi, Assassin, Menelik and IAM, whose rage has been sublimated in artistic and political expression.
A different French
No one will be surprised to learn that they do not speak the same French on the estates as they do on highbrow radio stations. Culture, especially in hard times, is not a top-down process, but may rise phoenix-like from suffering. The West Indies slave trade may have destroyed much of the original African cultures of its victims; however, the children of imported slaves, forbidden by their masters from speaking their mother tongues (18), invented a new creole language and culture from the scraps of what they heard around them, from orders shouted at them and conversations between the whites.
We are a long way from creole culture. French schools do a good job and the media reach people on the estates as they do everybody else. Estate youngsters show considerable technical skill with mobile phones and the internet, and considerable organising ability, surprising and fooling police who try to predict trouble spots.
We must stop vilifying the estate adults, youths and children who draw on their predicament, sometimes unwillingly, to produce this dynamic part of modern French culture. They are part of the switch “from an atavistic culture to a composite one” along with the global market (19).
The events of October and November were unpleasant for the owners of the 8,000-10,000 burnt cars and for taxpayers who “own” the many wrecked public facilities. But we should perhaps consider the participants not as rioters but as the protagonists in a crisis of integration. By crisis we mean the upheaval that happens in adolescence, which is in fact a rite of initiation. We could see the changes in France’s relationship with its estate youth as a successful experiment, made possible here because ethnic and religious factors play a fairly minor role. If this experiment proves successful, it may offer a new way to achieve greater solidarity in society.
In which case tough talk about enforcing stricter, military-style discipline on difficult families makes no sense. It will only perpetuate the inability to accept the current osmosis, and underpin policies that turn the state into an agent provocateur (20).
Only a genuine integration policy can achieve both short and long-term results for those youngsters playing outlaw games with the police and fire service. But to succeed it has to fulfil two conditions. First it must coincide with a radical shift in attitude and discard any paternalism or unconscious denigration, acknowledging that the Other has a right to his or her place in a more unified world. We demand just that when we retire, en masse, to Morocco’s sunnier climes to make our pensions stretch further.
The second condition is not specific to the banlieue young. We cannot expect all French pupils to appreciate the process of going through state school to get a job some day, while aligning pay and working conditions with the lowest levels prevailing in emerging countries. As a wise old man suggested: “We must find an occupation for the young. But we have to give them jobs that pay. That way, one day they will become nice and friendly” (21).
Posted on Monday, September 25, 2006 - 14:00
It is within this context that the Pope's provocative comments are so important. Brooks is right:
The core of the dispute is: Do the extremists play by the normal rules of geostrategy, or are their minds off in some mystical sphere that is utterly alien to our categories?
The transnational elites strenuously argue that the reactionary Islamists are normal; the average Joe is unsure. This is the point where opinion makers matter. On Tuesday night, I participated in a show on Iran called"It's Your Call with Lynn Doyle." The poll question was: We asked you,"Is Iran A Threat To The U.S.?" The people were asked to choose between yes, no and potentially. Initial poll results posted after the first minutes of the show were as follows: 29% believed Iran was a threat. 51% said no and 20% chose potentially.
Our argument focused on the right of Iran to continue to enrich uranium. Hafeez Malik, a political science professor from Villanova University and Faeze Woodville, the president of Dialogue International argued that Iran was within its rights under IAEA regulations and efforts to stop her were inherently unfair. Joe Corsi, the author,"Atomic Iran" and I argued that Iran was different and, hence, should be subjected to different rules. Joe emphasized that it was a terrorist state which exported its weapons to terrorist groups as it has been demonstrated in the recent Lebanon War. I focused on the mystical aspects of the regime and, especially, that of Ahmadinejad, demonstrated that not only Jews and the Jewish state (to which Professor Malik immediately tried to redirect the attention) feared an Iranian nuclear weapon but so did Gulf state and Turkey.
I also pointed out that Iran has demonstrated its untrustworthiness by lying for 18 years to the IAEA about its nuclear development. Indeed, just as the American right to bear arms does not preclude denying a license to carry weapons to individuals who fail the background check, the UN should not be precluded from denying nuclear weapons to countries proven untrustworthy.
By the time the show ended the numbers changed significantly. Those believing it a threat went up to 52 %. Those who did not went declined to 32% and those who chose potentially to 16%. In other words, the arguments forwarded mattered.
As the Kremlin learned, the Pope does have plenty of divisions. Hs comments reached an entirely new audience and as demonstrated by this letter to the editor which responds to a NYT editorial which called on the Pope to act in a conciliatory manner by curtailing his demand that Muslims act reasonably and demonstrate his contrition by reinstituting Michael Fitzerald:
Re your Sept. 20 editorial:
I, too, am offended, but not by the pope’s remarks.
I am offended that Muslims went on a murderous rampage over a cartoon, but expressed no anger when a Dutch filmmaker was murdered in the name of Islam.
I am offended that moderate Muslims believed that an Afghan should be executed for converting to Christianity. I am offended that many Muslims refuse to believe that Muslims perpetrated the 9/11 massacres.
Most of all, I am offended that when Islamic terrorists strike, Muslims offer no expressions of outrage.
At most, there is polite regret mixed with equivocations, rationalizations and qualifications from Muslim leaders and a deafening silence from the Muslim street.
Yet you would have us believe that the problem stems from the pope’s absence from an interfaith conference.
Joseph Borini, Las Vegas, Sept. 20, 2006
Lessons From U.N. Week
By DAVID BROOKS
One of the lessons of this past week is that the international system is broken. The world community might make declarations — on preventing Iranian and North Korean nukes, disarming Hezbollah, or preventing genocide in Darfur — but when it comes to actually uniting to take action, words and resolutions lead nowhere. Thanks to a combination of American errors, European escapism, and Russian and Chinese greed, the worst people in the world now drive events while the best people do nothing.
The second big lesson of the past week is that five years after 9/11 we are farther from reaching a consensus on the nature of the threat than ever before. Instead of clarity, there is a cacophony of theories that attempt to explain the extremists — emphasizing religion or ideology or feelings of historic humiliation or some combination of all three.
The core of the dispute is: Do the extremists play by the normal rules of geostrategy, or are their minds off in some mystical sphere that is utterly alien to our categories?
Do they respond to incentives and follow the dictates of what we call self-interest? Can they be deterred by normal threats to their security? Or, alternatively, are they playing an entirely different game? Are the men who occupy the black hole that is the Iranian power elite engaged in a religious enterprise based on an eschatological time frame and driven by supernatural longings we can’t begin to fathom?
The definition of the threat determines the remedies we select to combat it, and yet what we have now is a clash of incongruous definitions and an enemy that is chaos theory in human form — an ever-shifting array of state and nonstate actors who cooperate, coagulate, divide, feud and feed on one another without end.
The third lesson is that a huge gap is emerging between the way ordinary Americans see the Arab world and the way members of the political, media and intellectual elites see it.
Elite debate is restrained by a series of enlightened attitudes that amount to a code of political correctness: be tolerant of cultural differences, seek to understand the responses of people who feel oppressed, don’t judge groups, never criticize somebody else’s religion.
As anybody who has traveled around the country or listened to talk radio of left, right and center knows, these genteel manners do not inhibit the masses. Millions of Americans think the pope asked exactly the right questions: Does the Muslim God accord with the categories of reason? Are Muslims trying to spread their religion with the sword?
These millions of Americans believe the pope has nothing to apologize for. They regard the vicious overreaction to his speech, like the vicious overreaction to the Danish cartoons, as another sign that some sort of intellectual disease is sweeping through the Arab world.
What these Americans see is fanatical violence, a rampant culture of victimology and grievance, a tendency by many Arabs to blame anyone other than themselves for the problems they create. These Americans don’t believe they should lower their standards of tolerable behavior merely for the sake of multicultural politeness, and they are growing ever more disgusted with commentators and leaders who are totally divorced from the reality they see on TV every night.
The fourth lesson is that we are drifting toward a policy that does not match the threat we face. Extremism is not an isolated cult in the Muslim world. It is a diverse and vibrant movement, which inspires the smartest of the young and treats the psychological wounds of those who are trapped between tradition and modernity.
The Muslim millenarians possess a habit of mind that causes them to escalate conflicts. They seem confident they can prevail, owing to their willingness to die for their truth. They don’t seem to feel marginalized, but look down on us as weak, and doubt our ability to strike back.
With America exhausted by Iraq, with the threat of Iranian sanctions dissolving before our eyes, Western policy is drifting toward the option that most resembles passivity. That is containment — accepting Iranian nukes and trying to deter their use with our arsenal.
In other words, a policy that was designed to confront a secular, bureaucratic foe — the Soviets — will now be used to confront a surging, jihadist one. The survival of Tel Aviv, and maybe New York and Washington, will depend on the Clausewitzian rationalism of the Iranian mullahs, or the angry younger brothers who will replace them.
Posted on Monday, September 25, 2006 - 14:03
Whence comes the phenomenon known as fundamentalist Islam or Islamism? Some French analysts from a range of disciplines (international affairs, Orientalism, security studies, journalism) have come to an agreement: it comes from. . . the United States. Despite the inherent implausibility of viewing a movement engaged in a sustained attack on Americans as a diabolical U.S. plot, this argument has considerable persuasive power. It presents Islamism as an American attempt to retard progress in Muslim countries and divide them from their natural allies in Europe. Such ideas come at once from the Right and the Left, representing both nostalgia for the French empire and a residual"Third-Worldism." They have as their common denominator a hatred of the United States and all it stands for. Although still marginal, these ideas about Islamism have spilled over into policy-making circles and have had a skewing effect on French policies toward the Middle East.
This is truely a sign of a civilization in decline. When reality seems too painful to confront directly conspiracy theories abound. These ones are reminiscent of the infamous forgery of"Protocols of the Elders of Zion" concocted during the last years of Tzarist Russia. France needs an intellectual revolution soon or it is doomed.
Posted on Saturday, September 23, 2006 - 05:16
You see what your so-called prophet never told you is that people can worship anything. Banning images does not stop it.
By the way that you ACT, as opposed to all your talk, you clearly worship Mohammed, the Koran and the system of Islam. These are more important to you than being just to innocent people of Denmark. They are more important to you then the lives and property of others. You have made idols of these things because they are more important to you than acting like civilized people and letting others live in liberty. The definition of idolatry is to make more of some created thing than you make of your duties to God and man.
I see you worship these things, you Idolators. Calm down and repent of your actions and act like grown ups and then we will respect you. I will never respect millions of" children" having a temper tantrum over some cartoons.
Posted on Friday, September 22, 2006 - 02:36
In any case, this morning the editors and the Danes are feeling better. Major European Paper such as The Welt and France Soir have also published them. France Soir headline is"Yes, we have the right to caricature God." Under it a cartoon of Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim and Christian gods floating on a cloud. The caption reads:"Don't complain, Muhammad, we've all been caricatured here."
I am informed that papers in Iceland, Finland, Italy and Mexico did the same. In Spain, ABC and the Catalan paper El Periodico also published the cartoons as did the Italian papers La Stampa and Il Corriere della Sera. In the Netherlands, the Volkskrank daily apparently had published them in November and will do so tomorrow.
Send me links to such publications, please. The media is beginning to understand that it has a dog in the fight for freedom. These ones are perfect: Cartoons in Czech MSMs:Aktuálně.cz (online only), Hospodářské noviny (economical daily) and Lidové noviny (published only in printed version)
Now how long will the American MSM remain behind? How long until it gets it?
Don't forget, Buy Danish!
Posted on Thursday, September 21, 2006 - 12:54
Finally, Ibrahim Hamed, the Hamas mastermind of the July 31 bombing of Hebrew University was arrested. Hebrew University is my alma mater and I ate many a meal in its cafeterias. Actually, this was the second bombing and I was looking for the date of the first one. It took place on March 6, 1968 and it wounded dozens of students including some of my classmates. I must admit that even I found the list shocking. It should put an end to the fashionable misconception Israeli transgressions are responsible for Palestinian terror.
Arab terrorist attacks against Jews began in 1920. In other words, it began long before there was a Jewish State, an"Israeli occupation" or by a supposedly"unbalanced" American policy run by today's"Elders of Zion," the"Jewish Lobby." To fully appreciate the true nature of the phenomenon, one must visit the relentlessly factual website I have just come across. It is entitled A History of Terrorism in Israel.
But Judt, like Mearsheimer and Walt, willfully ignores Israel's ongoing terrorist problem. For example, in his op-ed published yesterday in the Financial Times the word"terror" is entirely absent. This absence leads him to argue that only"the little attention paid to the Palestinians or to Israel's collusion with France and Britain in the disastrous Suez adventure" explains the overwhelmingly pro-Israeli Cambridge university pro Israeli student sentiments before the 6 Day War. Judt clearly seeks to imply that Israel was wrong to go to war in 1956.
But the truth is that Israel went to war in 1956 to end the Egyptian blockade of her Southern port in Eilat and to stop the terrorist attacks emanating from Gaza. For example, on April 11, 1956"terrorists opened fire on a synagogue full of children and teenagers, in the farming community of Shafrir. Three children and a youth worker were killed on the spot, and five were wounded, including three seriously." One of my most vivid childhood memories was the news photo of a desk covered with bloody school books.
Indeed, Israel retreated from Gaza and the Sinai only following the establishment of a special UN force to prevent the Gaza Palestinians from terrorizing Israeli villages. Hence the terror moved to Jordan and Syria and it was that terror along with the eviction of the UN force precipitated the Six Day War.
Judt complains that no major American foreign policy journal would publish Mearsheimer & Walt's anti-Semitic diatribe. Of course not. Like Judt's argument, it is based on embarrassingly poor scholarship. More importantly, it propagates the myth that Western policy rather than Islamism; Israel rather than Arab rejectionism; victims of terror rather than the terrorists are responsible for the unwanted global struggle in which we are currently engaged.
So, let's return to reality. 9 people died in the 2002 bombing for which the West Bank commander of Hamas was responsible. Amongst the dead were 5 Americans. Peter Willner, National Executive Director of the American Friends of The Hebrew University (AFHU), issued the following:
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), the Israeli Defense Force, and the Border Police have our deepest gratitude for their bravery and dedication, which continue to prevent terror attacks and save the lives of countless people in Israel every day.
At this time, we remember those who were killed on that tragic day in July 2002. We honor their memories with a promise that long-delayed justice will finally be served. But perhaps even more importantly, we honor their memories with renewed hope that Israel, the United States and our allies will soon defeat terrorism, wherever it may occur.
The diversity among those who were murdered and wounded in the attack attests to the fact that when Hamas terrorists struck Hebrew University's International Student Center, they not only murdered the innocent, but they also symbolically attacked the aspirations of understanding, tolerance and the quest for peace."
The nine victims of the attack were:
* Marla Bennett, from San Diego, CA, a student at the Rothberg International School of The Hebrew University and at the Pardes Institute for Jewish Studies.
* Benjamin Blutstein, from Harrisburg, PA, also a joint student at Rothberg and Pardes.
* Dina Carter, who emigrated to Israel from North Carolina in 1990, an employee of the Jewish National and University Library at The Hebrew University.
* Janis Ruth Coulter, from Boston, MA, assistant director of the Office of Academic Affairs of The Hebrew University in New York.
* David Gritz, from Paris (a French and U.S. citizen), who was about to begin his summer ulpan at the Rothberg School.
* David Diego Ladowski, from Argentina, a graduate of The Hebrew University who was about to begin a diplomatic assignment for Israel in Peru.
* Levina Shapira, head of the Student Services Department of The Hebrew University.
* Dafna Spruch, an employee of the Student Services Department;
* Revital Barashi, who worked at the Faculty of Law of The Hebrew University.
Posted on Thursday, September 21, 2006 - 02:04
This new Palestinian music video tries to convince both young men and women that the road to a rewarding relationship is to be found in Paradise.
The perverse sexual aspects of Islamist martyrdom is not new. As noted in Al Qaeda Women
The pressures of sexual frustration in this life and the lure of sexual as well as spiritual rewards in the next are exploited as part of a cynical spiel by jihadist recruiters looking for boys and men to be suicide bombers. Hizbullah in Lebanon, Hamas and Islamic Jihad among the Palestinians, and the various incarnations of Al Qaeda have all played on Muslim teachings that promise 72 houris—virginal beings with black eyes and alabaster skin—to attend the martyr's desires in paradise.
The directions for physical and spiritual cleansing that Muhammad Atta gave out to his fellow hijackers before the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States advise them to"feel complete tranquillity, because the time between you and your marriage [in heaven] is very short." Atta's own personal will, written in 1996, is a study in obsessive carnality."Women must not be present at my funeral or go to my grave at any later date," he wrote."He who washes my body around my genitals should wear gloves so that I am not touched there." In the mind of such a man, suicidal sacrifice is a path to ecstasy. There would have been no place in Atta's Qaeda for the women suicide bombers of today.
It should be noted that in this aspect too, Islamism is similar to Nazism. They are both part of a wish to "Escape from Freedom" so accurately described by Erich Fromm.
Posted on Thursday, September 21, 2006 - 00:38
One joke tells of a man who has died and gone to hell, where he sees the famously strait-laced Mr Ahmadinejad dancing with the Hollywood star Jennifer Lopez."Is this Ahmadinejad's punishment?" he asks.
"No," goes the reply."It is Jennifer Lopez's punishment."
Posted on Wednesday, September 20, 2006 - 03:30
Every day that passes, more innocent men, women and children suffer in Darfur. Every day, women and young girls are raped as they venture from refugee camps to find firewood.
I suspect"moral authority" Kofi Annan who would rather visit totalitarian tyrant's Castro will never forgive him and neither will those who would rather celebrate post holocaust victimhood than lift a finger to stop the ongoing one (200,000 already).
If you wish to help visit the website set up by Bill Frist and make a call. For ongoing updates, visit Pam at Atlas Shrugs. No blogger cares more about the issue or worked harder to bring about the Bolton confirmation.
Posted on Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - 09:27
Greek officials not only reject such limits but go out of their way to offend holocust survivors and their offspring. Why else would they invite an Iranian involved in the organizing of the Iranian Holocaust denial cartoon exhibit to function as a judge of a contest entitled:"The Cartoon as a Bridge Between Civilizations."
As the Wisenthal Center correctly pointedly asserts:"THOSE WHO BESMIRCH VICTIMS OF GENOCIDE CANNOT BUILD BRIDGES BETWEEN CIVILIZATIONS"
Can you believe that the contest was supposed to be part of a celebration of"World Press Freedom Day?"
It's all so absurd and, yet, it's all so deadly serious.
Posted on Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - 09:30
For example Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University, the leader of Sunni Islam used to tell his followers that the Koran considered Jews as"enemies of Allah [and] descendants of apes and pigs."
Now, he seems to have issued a new edict: declaring that it is now forbidden to describe"present-day Jews as 'monkeys and pigs'."
albawaba.com claims that the decision was the result of a request by Egypt's Foreign Ministry, because"there was objection among Americans to the use of this description of the Jews." Yes, indeed.
Posted on Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - 09:31
Recent polling has shown a sharp disparity between Republicans' and Democrats' support for Israel. A NBC/Wall Street Journal poll in late July also showed a strong gap between Republicans and Democrats when it comes to support for Israel. The poll showed that among Republicans, an overwhelming 84% say they sympathize more with Israel (1% sympathize more with Arab states); by comparison, just 43% of Democrats do so (12% sympathize more with Arab states).
Democrats can no longer claim to be strong supporters of Israel. In a poll by the Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg at the very end of July, when asked whether the U.S. should be more neutral in the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah or whether the U.S. should align itself with Israel, Democrats supported neutrality over alignment, 54% to 39%. However, by comparison, Republicans strongly supported alignment with the Jewish state 64% to 29%.
With the exception of Blacks, the Democratic party had no more loyal members than Jews. These statistics beg the question, until when?
Posted on Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - 09:33
Perhaps the most significant victim of the new approach was Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, the former head of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, who was sent to Cairo as pro nuncio, a move seen as a demotion.
His department, effectively decapitated, was put under the care of the head of another office.
I first met the Archbishop, then the highest-placed Englishman in the Vatican and possibly its leading expert on Islam, about five years ago. On a blazing Rome day, we met in his office near St Peter’s Square and had lunch in a little trattoria nearby.
I found him a charming man, very modest about his status. An Arabic speaker and acknowledged scholar of Islam, he was often summoned by the Pope, sometime with very little notice, to provide expert advice.
Although he was understandably discrete, he was able to give me a flavour of the febrile atmosphere in Rome as Pope John Paul II was increasingly incapacitated by Parkinson’s Disease.
In other words, he used to call the shots. He also knew that Benedict is unlikely to let him continue to do so.
We next met between John Paul II’s funeral and the conclave to elect Benedict XVI at his well-appointed flat. He said that it was an odd experience, after such a long papacy, to feel job insecurity, as an incoming Pope was likely to reshuffle the Curia.
While he did not indicate that he would have a particular problem if that Pope was Cardinal Ratzinger, he did foresee that such a choice would result in a change of emphasis in his department.
"We might not have more events like Assisi," he said, referring to the spectacular interreligious prayer summits first hosted by John Paul II in 1986.
Many people in Rome believe that Archbishop Fitzgerald would have spotted the minefield into which Benedict XVI has now walked. Perhaps it is time to recall him from Cairo.
The man knew what he was talking about. Pope Benedict wasted no time and moved to reshuffle the Vatican in a manner more attune to his vision. Now, Fitzerald's forces see their opportunity to take back the Vatican. MSM and the Arab media are filled with calls for returning Fitzerald to his old post and for letting him vent future Pope pronouncements on Islam.
As the hilariously demonstrated in that excellent comedy series Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister (if you have not seen it rush to rent a copy, its priceless, it was Margaret Thatcher's favorite), bureaucracies believe that elected officials be they Presidents or Popes should preside over them not run them or, G-d forbid, make or CHANGE established policy. Hence, the appeasers who are the Islamists best friends will be found in the Vatican just as they were found in Foggy Bottom and the CIA. One thing is for sure, the Jihadists will show no more respect for the spiritual head of the Catholic church than they show to the American head of state, they compare both to Hitler. The pertinent questions are will Pope Benedict prove to be as tough as President Bush and will his Catholic constituency stand by him?
Posted on Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - 12:06
An exhibition of cartoons about the Holocaust, some suggesting it was fabricated or exaggerated, has been a flop in Tehran. It drew audiences of fewer than 300 a day in its first week and now, three weeks after sparking international furore when it opened, attracts just 50 people a day.
Most of those approached in central Tehran said they had not heard of the exhibition and insisted the slaughter of six million Jews by the Nazis was a historical fact."I'm sure the Holocaust was true - I've heard all about it from newspapers and television," said a housewife from a religious family."I don't know why some say it didn't happen."
Posted on Sunday, September 17, 2006 - 21:43