Friday, August 29, 2008

Abie Nathan, Israeli peace pioneer, dies aged 81

from Haaretz: Israeli peace pioneer Abie Nathan dies aged 81

Abie Nathan - Israeli peace pioneer, pirate radio station founder and former Royal Air Force pilot - has died in Tel Aviv at the age of 81, officials at the city's Ichilov Hospital said Wednesday.

Nathan burst onto the world of Middle East diplomacy in 1966 with a dramatic solo flight to Egypt in a rattletrap single-engine plane, more than a decade before Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty.

Although he failed in his initial bid to talk peace with the Egyptians, his daredevil escapade won the affection of many Israelis, and he launched a long and often eccentric one-man crusade to end the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Over time, he earned a reputation as a maverick peace activist who often took diplomacy into his own hands. He was called a crackpot and a prophet. But many admired the daring of the former Israel Air Force fighter pilot as he pounded on Egypt's doors, sailed his pirate radio ship into hostile Middle East waters or risked his life on hunger strikes for peace.

Yossi Sarid, the former leader of the leftist Meretz party, said Nathan paved the way for Israel's peace movement. "He was ahead of his time, and he did everything himself," he said.

Abraham Jacob Nathan was born April 29, 1927 in Iran, educated in India, and served in Britain's Royal Air Force as a fighter pilot, before joining the Jewish immigrant influx into newborn Israel in 1948.

A short, dark man, he flew for Israel's national airline and ran an art gallery and restaurant that became the center of Tel Aviv's bohemian life. His American-style diner even helped pioneer the hamburger in Israel.

Convinced that people power could succeed where the diplomats had failed, Nathan bought a 188-foot, 570-ton freighter that was partially funded by John Lennon. He anchored it off the coast of Tel Aviv and turned it into a pirate radio station, The Voice of Peace, with a mix of pop songs and peace messages.

"Shalom, salaam and peace to all our listeners," Nathan declared in his maiden broadcast in 1973. "The Peace Ship is a project of the people. We hope through this station we will help relieve the pain and heal the wounds of many years of suffering of the people of the Middle East."

Over the next 20 years, The Voice of Peace became especially popular among youth. It was the only radio station in the Middle East that broadcast music from the world's Top 40 charts and used English as its primary language, yet offered both Israeli and Arabic news.

Apart from his peace efforts, Nathan flew or shipped emergency supplies to victims of war, earthquakes and famine around the world, including to Biafra, Cambodia, Nicaragua, Lebanon and the former Zaire.

In the 1970s, Nathan went on repeated hunger strikes to try to force the Israeli government to make concessions for peace with Egypt and talk to the Palestine Liberation Organization.

He saw the first wish come true when Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty in 1979. But it would be years before Israel would reverse a law making meetings with the PLO a crime. Nathan broke the law several times by meeting with members of the PLO.

In recent years, he had been confined to a retirement home and had rarely been seen in public. In a 1996 interview with The Associated Press, Nathan said that during one of his prison hunger strikes, he was certain he was going to die. He bought a grave and a tombstone.

When asked what he would want written on the stone, he replied "Nisiti" - the Hebrew for "I tried."


from Haaretz: Abie Nathan laid to rest; Peres: 'he was greatest freedom fighter'

Hundreds of people attended the funeral, including President Shimon Peres who eulogized Nathan, saying "he was the greatest freedom fighter." Uri Avneri, a close friend of Nathan's said "Abie did not address people's minds, but rather their hearts. He wanted to bring peace, and did that through feeling."


from the Jerusalem Post: Abie Nathan - from right to left

Even Abie Nathan's detractors spoke warmly of him on Thursday, a day after the maverick peace activist passed away in Tel Aviv at 81 years of age.

Abie Nathan.

Abie Nathan.

I believe that he always meant well," said Pinchas Wallerstein, former head of the Binyamin Regional Council in northern Samaria. "And I was absolutely inspired by him and his tactics, just in the opposite direction. If it weren't for his radio station, we wouldn't have Arutz Sheva."

Others praised Nathan's global charity work, spanning from Guatemala to China.

"I was with Abie in Rwanda in 1995," said former Meretz MK Yossi Sarid. "We were there during the civil war delivering humanitarian aid, and Abie was told that a village full of sick children was out in the jungle. We made our way through the brush, and when we got there, the children were in their last moments of life - they were all suffering from cholera.

"And I remember seeing Abie take them in his hands, bringing them to our field hospital for help. They were all treated and every one of them survived."

"It's still unclear if the time he spent sitting in jail brought peace," said Meretz MK Yossi Beilin. "But that he traveled the world and helped so many different people, that can be said without a doubt. He made an enormous contribution to the world."

Others said they had never personally met Nathan, but were moved by his efforts at starting dialogues between enemies. Rabbi Menachem Fruman, the rabbi of the Gush Etzion settlement of Tekoa, spoke of Nathan as he took part in the Sulha Peace Project at Latrun - a three-day gathering of Israelis and Palestinians that aims to begin the process of dialogue and reconciliation.

"My children often say that I meet with all the crazy people in the world," Rabbi Fruman said. "But I never got a chance to meet Abie Nathan. That said, I think that what he did was an inspiration to all of us. Pursuing peace is not a natural desire... It's truly a holy task."

"I feel that I am following in his footsteps," said Jeff Halper, an Israeli professor who was on board one of the two boats that sailed into Gaza port last week to protest the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. "I don't compare myself to him, but I certainly draw from him as an inspiration."

Halper made two correlations between Nathan's efforts and his own, the first regarding Nathan's own sea voyage to Gaza in 1972.

"He sailed there in '72 to bring toys to kids in Gaza, and later he organized a summer camp in Ashdod for Israeli kids and kids from Gaza," Halper said. "The second thing is that he said in 1966 that Nasser wanted to talk peace with the Israelis, and no one listened to him. If they had, think of the countless lives that might have been saved and the terrible violence that might have been prevented."

Rabbi Yehiel Grenimann, who works for Rabbis For Human Rights, called Nathan "a very positive figure. I'm a rabbi that belongs to a dovish group, and we're a bit of a minority. But something about Abie Nathan that is in contrast to Peace Now and other peace groups is that he was not anti-religious.

"He seemed to rise above the divisions on the left and was a character that put his money where his mouth was. I think that's something that he was respected for even on the right, even if they didn't agree with him."

Magyar Garda and the Resurgence of the Right in Hungary

from Dissent Magazine: Marching Back to the Future

One Sunday morning in December 2007, some three hundred extreme nationalists dressed in black uniforms marched in military formation through a Hungarian village, protesting against what they called “Roma [Gypsy] delinquency.” They then gathered at a rally, where speakers demanded that Roma be segregated from mainstream society. The protesters were members of the Magyar Garda (Hungarian Guard), a new ultranationalist organization whose members pledge to defend Hungarian values and culture. The Magyar Garda is an offshoot of the far-right Jobbik Magyarországért Mozgalam (Movement for a Better Hungary), generally shortened to Jobbik. Jobbik is a play on words in Hungarian, meaning both “better” and “more to the right.” Jobbik has no members of Parliament, but is represented on several local councils, where its representatives often cooperate with Fidesz, the main conservative opposition party. Opinion polls usually give Jobbik 2 percent or 3 percent support, and the Garda boasts around 650 members.

Yet these numbers are deceptive: in Hungary’s febrile political atmosphere, the Garda dominated the political and media agenda for several months last year, continues to receive substantial press coverage, and has an effect on political life out of all proportion to its numbers. The Garda has triggered anger and consternation across the spectrum, soured the parliamentary atmosphere, increased social tension between Roma and non-Roma, and disrupted relations with Hungary’s neighbors. Jewish and Roma groups have demanded that the Garda be banned. The late U.S. Representative Tom Lantos, himself a survivor of the Hungarian Holocaust, angrily warned that no Garda member would ever be allowed to enter the United States; Hungarian prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsany proclaimed dramatically that “Fascists were gathering.” Yet paradoxically, the Garda may also have inadvertently provided a useful service for this post-communist country that in some ways is still in transition between two systems, by defining the limits of free—and hate—speech.

THE GARDA was launched in August 2007, when its first fifty-six members—a number chosen to commemorate the 1956 revolution—were inaugurated by Lajos Fur, a former minister of defense in Hungary’s first post- communist government, run by the Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF). They paraded in Budapest’s historic Castle District, in front of the home of Hungary’s president, Laszlo Solyom, holding the Hungarian flag and the ancient “Arpad” banner of red and white stripes. They wore black boots, black trousers, black sleeveless vests and white shirts, and black caps emblazoned with the Arpad stripes. The symbolism seemed obvious: a homage to Mussolini, if not Hitler, and to the fusion between race, state, and national unity. The “Arpad” stripes are a part of Hungary’s coat of arms, but are now associated with the far right, as the Nazi Arrow Cross regime, which ruled the country in the winter of 1944–1945, incorporated the stripes into its flag. Three priests, from Hungary’s Catholic, Calvinist, and Evangelical churches, blessed the Garda’s flag. (The churches later claimed the priests were acting in a personal capacity.) Among those attending the inauguration was Maria Wittner, a member of Parliament for Fidesz. Wittner is a former ’56er, as those who fought in the revolution are known. Her death sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment, although her cellmate was executed, and her traumatic experiences mean she is granted a certain indulgence. Several dozen members of an even more extreme group, the Nemzeti Orsereg, also attended, wearing khaki paramilitary uniforms. The whole spectacle has so far been viewed on YouTube more than 33,000 times.

LAST EUROPEAN extremists usually fall into one of two categories: disheveled, obsessed pseudo-intellectuals spouting obscure conspiracy theories (Radovan Karadzic, the former leader of the Bosnian Serbs now wanted for genocide, was a wild-haired “poet” and psychiatrist) or “skinheads” who like beating people up. Gabor Vona, leader of both Jobbik and the Magyar Garda, is neither. An articulate and well-groomed twenty-nine year-old former history teacher, from Gyongyos, a small town east of Budapest, Vona describes himself as a “first-generation intellectual” from a paraszt background. Paraszt is usually translated as “peasant,” and is often used by city dwellers as a term of abuse, meaning “hick.” But in Hungarian it has another nuance, of a genuine son of the soil, a true “Magyar,” uncorrupted by the cosmopolitan city, with its slick ways and foreign influences.

Vona spotted a gap in the nationalist market after the decline of the Hungarian Justice and Life Party (MIEP), which lost its fourteen parliamentary seats in 2002. Jobbik and MIEP campaigned together in the 2006 elections, but neither has a single member of Parliament, and the two groups have grown apart. MIEP is led by the elderly playwright Istvan Csurka, who is obsessed with the Jewish ancestry of some of Hungary’s former communist leaders as well as with Israeli investors, who he believes are buying up Hungary on the cheap. MIEP’s focus on anti-Semitism still resonates on the far right, but the political agenda here has shifted somewhat since the early 1990s, when forty years of suppressed anti-Semitism (albeit cultural and political rather than violent) erupted after the collapse of communism. The Garda’s message is based not on negative but positive reinforcement. The Garda is absolutely not anti-Semitic, Vona says. It is not against anyone or anything but only for Hungary. Those who feel themselves to be truly “Magyar” can join, no matter what their faith. The Garda is not against Roma as such, only Roma criminals and “delinquents.” Even Roma can join, he claims, if they fit the membership requirements, although it is more or less unimaginable that any would want to.

read the rest here...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Palestinian fashion statement

from the Jerusalem Post: Fight between Hamas-Fatah spreads to upper lips in mustache war by

Hamas has resumed its policy of shaving mustaches of political opponents to humiliate them, Fatah officials said Wednesday. Hamas resorted to this form of punishment in the past after arresting senior Fatah representatives in the Gaza Strip, the officials said. Hamas, for its part, accused the Palestinian Authority security forces of shaving the beards of detained Hamas officials in the West Bank.

The latest victim of the mustache-shaving policy is Nafez al-Namnam, a top Fatah operative in the Strip. Namnam, 51, is one of the commanders of Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, in Gaza City. He and his son Rami were arrested by Hamas policemen shortly after the mysterious explosion that killed five Hamas men on the beach in Gaza City last Friday. The father and son were among more than 150 Fatah members who were rounded up by Hamas in the aftermath of the bombing. Namnam wore an unusually large mustache for more than 30 years. But while in prison, his Hamas interrogators shaved it off before finally releasing him. The Aksa Martyrs Brigades issued a statement strongly condemning the shaving of Namnam's mustache and threatening retaliation. It said that Namnam and his son were also tortured while in detention.

Earlier this year, another senior Fatah official, Ibrahim Abu al-Naja, also lost his mustache in the power struggle with Hamas. Fatah officials held Hamas responsible, saying the act was designed to humiliate Abu al-Naja, who is one of the most senior leaders of Fatah in the Gaza Strip. Hamas, however, said Abu al-Naja's kidnappers were former Fatah security officers who were angry because the PA had not paid them their salaries. Abu al-Naja had worn a mustache for nearly 35 years.

(seen in The Forward's Bintel Blog)

Palestinian Ibrahim Abu al-Naja, a member of Fatah's executive committee for political operations, talks to jounalists about his arrest by Hamas after being released at his home in Gaza City on August 2, 2008. Naja, a high ranking member of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas' Fatah movement, was among a number of Fatah members rounded up by Hamas security forces in the wake of the July 25 beach bombing that the Islamist movement blamed on their secular rivals. Three Palestinians were killed and dozens hurt in running street battles today between militants of the rival Islamist Hamas and Fatah movements in Gaza City, prompting Israel to sound an alert. From Getty Images by AFP/Getty Images.
Abu al-Naja pre-shave

Palestinian Fatah supporters have their hair and moustaches shaved in solidarity with the head of the Fatah high committee, Ibrahim Abu al-Naja, who was arrested two days ago by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, 02 January 2008 in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Abu al-Naja was released several hours later, but his moustache was shaved off in an apparent attempt to humiliate him, his son said. From Getty Images by AFP/Getty Images.
Fatah supporters' Ramallah shave-in

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Republican Dennis Prager advocates shooting graffiti "taggers"

Start with an untenable, extreme position; defend it in spite of its obvious flaws; then posit it as representative of a basic distinction between left and right. That's exactly how Republican radio chatterer, columnist and opinion-mongering cottage industry Dennis Prager ends up writing what must be one of the most howlingly funny examples of unintentional self-parody in recent memory.

from Townhall.com: Dennis Prager "On Shooting Taggers: Why Conservatives and Liberals Differ"

Earlier this month Andrew Sullivan, a well-known writer, once in the center, now on the left, nominated me for what is apparently his lowest badge of distinction for defending citizens who shoot to wound graffiti vandals, or "taggers," while committing their vandalism.

Under the heading, "Malkin Award Nominee," Sullivan provides a quote from my radio show:

"'So you will now say -- I hear the voice of an ACLU member -- 'Dennis, do you think that this guy should have shot these people spray painting graffiti on his shop?' To which my answer is yes. I do. Not to kill. Not to kill. But if he shot them in the legs or in the arms I would have considered the man one of the great advancers of civilization in my time. And that is what divides left from right. Because anybody on the left hearing this would think that this is barbaric whereas I consider not stopping these people in any way that is necessary to be barbaric.' -- Dennis Prager, on his radio show."

Mr. Sullivan provides no commentary because, as I predicted in the excerpt he cites, what I said is so obviously morally offensive to him, no commentary is necessary. It is self-indicting.

To those on the left.

Their differing reactions to graffiti vandals further clarify the philosophical differences between liberals and conservatives.

-cut-

(C)onservatives tend to view higher civilization as more fragile than the left views it. Conservatives believe the line between civilization and barbarism is under constant assault and is not necessarily enduring. That is one reason the right tends to have a higher regard for the police than does the left. Conservatives see the police as "the thin blue line" that separates civilization from barbarians.

So, it is natural that conservatives would see graffiti as vandalism, as an undermining of the very notion of higher civilization, as a public scorning of the common good, as essentially an "F---- you" to society.

Liberals are far more inclined to see graffiti as a mere nuisance, or even as an example of the downtrodden trying to have a voice in a civilization that oppresses young people who are usually members of historically oppressed minorities.

To the conservative, graffiti is an assault on civilization; to the liberal, graffiti is the result of civilization's assault on those who paint the graffiti.

-cut-

My first wish is that taggers be arrested and punished. I also wish for world peace and a cure for cancer. But the real-life choice is almost always between taggers getting away with their vandalism and an irate citizen taking action. Given the destructive nature of tagging -- the moment one sees graffiti, one knows one has entered a largely lawless and violent environment where thugs terrorize innocents -- I prefer something, even if violent, rather than nothing be done.

I have no desire to see a graffiti vandal killed -- my position has always been that only those who cause death deserve death (that is why I oppose the death penalty for any crime except murder). But if enough taggers are wounded, their assault on civilization will decline dramatically. And if one accidentally dies? That would be a tragedy. But here is the bottom line: More innocent people will die if tagging is not stopped than if it is. Graffiti unchecked leads to worse crime.

Those who deface private and public property are not otherwise decent kids who are oppressed and not allowed any other form of self-expression. My sense is that the vast majority of graffiti vandals are headed toward, if not already involved in, a life of sociopathology, including violence.

Indeed, increasingly those graffiti vandals do engage in violence. Citizens who so much as flash their headlights or yell at them to stop have been shot and sometimes murdered.

As in so many other areas, with regard to taggers, right and left see life through opposing moral prisms. On the left, the tagger is viewed as society's victim; on the right, society is viewed as the tagger's victim.

If graffiti can reasonably be countered with small arms fire, what would be appropriate for misuse of eggs, toilet paper and shaving cream on mischief night? Bow and arrow? Machette? (Note for non-U.S. readers: that's a reference to the night prior to Haloween, when young troublemakers traditionally make a mess.)

Based on Prager's use of the phrase "(m)y sense is..." directly preceding his assertion that taggers are violent, his conclusions are better described as "truthy" than true. Readers of this blog or Prager's prattlings should feel free to request from Prager evidence to the contrary. His email address is DennisPrager@DennisPrager.com.

(By the way, did anyone else notice that Prager gratuitously uses the "F" word in his piece, albeit without its other letters -- this in a piece that supposedly defends tradional values of public behavior? WTF?)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Hungarian far right and David Irving's U.S. tour

Eva S. Balogh's blog, Hungarian Spectrum, has a very interesting post on The Hungarian far right and David Irving, about which read more below.

You may or may not be aware that Irving has been on tour in the U.S., having been hosted by the likes of the University of Oregon's Pacifica Forum, led by Professor Emeritus Orval Etter and columnist George Beres (read here and here and here). Pacifica Forum billed Irving as a "legendary British historian and martyr for free speech". (Read more about Pacifica Forum's journey through the rabbit hole from leftist peace activism to far right racism here.) Someone who heard Irving speak at Pacifica Forum said he used the term "Jewish tragedy" instead of the term "Holocaust", explaining that "he meant the tragedy was not that all those Jews were killed, but rather that 'Jews never asked themselves why they were killed … why they are hated so.' " (read letter to editor here: "Irving statements reprehensible". The Eugene, Oregon Register-Guard naively reported (read here) only that Irving called the Holocaust a tragedy, missing the point of the statement entirely.)

The logistics for Irving getting an audience can by tricky. His technique for speaking in public generally goes something like this: 1) anti-Semitic nut job sees ad for Irving appearance on racist website (like this or this); 2) nut job submits application for ticket and prepays by credit card (tickets available here or here, Hitler posters available here); 3) having been approved, nut job receives notice of the details of Irving's appearance and is told to keep them hush hush.

Before his July 16 speech in New York City, Irving's website announced the location as the Primavera Restaurant, an upscale Italian restaurant on the Upper East Side. When ticket holders arrived, however, they were directed instead to the St. Stephen of Hungary Catholic Church, located nearby. (Read a news account here, Max Blumenthal's blog account with video here including a virtually identical statement to the one quoted above blaming the Jews for the Holocaust, and a brief piece on the L.A. Jewish Journal blog here.) Below is Blumenthal's video. Money quotes from Irving: "Hitler...was probably not at all anti-Semitic..." and "(t)he Jews are the architects of Auschwitz".



With that, you should read Eva Balogh's post at Hungarian Spetrum for her view of who and what was behind Irving's appearance, and also to check out the deluge of right wing lunatics in the comments. According to Balogh, Hungary's far right, including neo-fascist and neo-Nazi elements, has a significant, pernicious influence in Hungarian politics. She presents the evidence that Hungarian rightists in New York City helped set up Irving's speech. Here's her take on David Irving and the far right's New York - Hungary connection:

David Irving made several trips to Hungary where there are no laws against those who deny the Holocaust. Loránt Hegedüs, a Hungarian Reformed minister, was his host, and it was in Hegedüs's church that he spread his ideas.
...and...
New York Hungarians claim that an extreme right-wing Hungarian group headed by Ernő Hóka often uses (New York's St. Stephen of Hungary Parrish) for some of his gatherings and that Hóka has close relations with Ákos Szilágyi, the founder of the New York Polgári Kör, part of the network of civic circles of right-minded people who were supposed to rally when the call came from Viktor Orbán. These civic cells at one point seemed to be critically important vehicles of Orbán's political strategy. Orbán put Csaba Hende, formerly an MDF member of parliament, in charge of the network of cells. Hende by now is so far to the right that only a few days ago he shocked the country by suggesting that when Fidesz takes over the government they will fire all 45,000 policemen and build the force from scratch. Obviously, only those who share the values of Fidesz will be rehired. The establishment of the New York civic cell was inspired by Hende during one of his visits to New York. From the beginning the cell espoused extreme right-wing ideas and had close ties to kuruc.info.hu, a notorious neo-Nazi site advocating the overthrow of the Hungarian government. Recently the American server hosting both of these sites shut them down.

This morning Zoltán Szabó, an MSZP member of parliament, responding to the news from New York had a few choice words about Fidesz's cozy relations with extreme right-wing groups. What Szabó wanted to know was how far Fidesz is willing to go. How long can a so-called "moderate" right of center party maintain close ties with the extreme right? Szabó said that he understands that hard-core right-wing voters are important to Fidesz since they make up between 8% and 10% of the electorate, but surely, he continued, a serious party can't afford such nefarious association with neo-Nazis.

On György Bolgár's call-in show this morning Zoltán Szabó reiterated his assessment of the situation. A split second after the conversation with Szabó ended, Ákos Szilágyi, straight from New York, phoned in. He denied that he had anything to do with the invitation. That, he alleged, is the figment of the imagination of László Bartus, editor-in-chief of the Amerikai-Magyar Népszava Szabadság, who, according to Szilágyi, is a liar whom he is suing because of another article he wrote. I checked Amerikai-Magyar Népszava and there was no mention of either Szilágyi or the New York Polgári Kör. It simply said that "according to many people, the St. Stephen Parish of New York has long been a meeting place of people with Nazi sympathies." Szilágyi, by the way, also claimed that it wasn't even Hungarians who invited Irving. That is hard to believe. I became especially suspicious when ARA supporters were described as homosexuals and communists. It sounded all too familiar.



First Eva Balogh's facts, then the deluge of hate. Michael Santomauro (founder of a New York website designed to find people roommates) one of the city's most vocal anti-Semites (view his websites here and here) and also a Ron Paul supporter (read here), quickly submitted a comment defending Faurisson and Holocaust denial. Santomauro was followed in short order by Danish Holocaust denial blogger Balder (also an apparent Ron Paul supporter, his website features a portrait of Paul as its banner). (View Balder's websites here and here.) After this, a multitude of others voicing overt hatred of the sort that all too often occurs under cover of screen name. (I know I'll hear from people asking "why bother covering bigotted comments?" I understand that hate-filled blog comments are commonplace, but, in this instance, two of the commenters are bloggers, and the content and context of their comments seem notable. I also felt bad for the recipient of these comments, having received similar comments here.)

Let me give the voice of reason the last word. The pastor of St. Stephen of Hungary Parish apparently knew nothing about the nature of the talk before it began, beyond the fact that it was a talk about a book. Father Angelo Gambatese, speaking on behalf of the church, said "(w)e are outraged because we do not cater to this kind of bigotry, and we are sorry that it happened."

New Yorkers at David Irving speech, July 16, 2008

Irving greeting well-wishers after speech

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

What Palestinians want more than a state

Although I disagree with the absolute statement which is the premise of the below-linked piece (i.e. that Palestinians do not want a state), I believe the contrast between Israel's willingness to compromise and Palestinian unwillingness to do so is very telling. In fact, it's essential to understanding Zionism's success and the impasse in efforts to reach Arab-Israeli peace.

Palestinians do want a state, but want one without compromise. They want a state, but want military victory more. In other words, they don't want any state that is conceivably possible. This unwillingness to compromise has been at the heart of the Arab leadership's inability to contend with Zionism from the time of the First Aliyah. Nothing has changed in this regard except the rationalizing rhetoric, which has evolved in two discreet and contradictory paths in response to two groups of supporters: the European and American left on the one hand, and the Muslim masses on the other. The European and American left produce and consume the rhetoric of a peace movement and remain largely oblivious to the violent fantasies of eliminationist anti-Zionism which dominate the media in the Muslim world. Sadly, these two sets of rhetoric frequently replace the facts in public debate. That's why you should click on the link below.

from Elder of Ziyon: More proof that Palestinian Arabs don't want a state

Monday, August 18, 2008

Hate radio some Republicans love

You most likely have never heard of a radio program called "The Political Cesspool" or its host James Edwards. Edwards describes himself as a "white separatist" and unabashed racist (read here and here). His program works with and promotes one of the country's largest racist organizations, the "Council of Conservative Citizens". That's what they renamed the "White Citizens Council" after too many church bombings and police beatings of women and children gave segregation a bad name. (Read here and here and here.) But Edwards is a throwback to simpler times. He promotes bigotry against African-Americans and Jews without subtlety or apology. When writing about someone who's Jewish, Edwards tends to use the Goebbels locutions "the Jew so-and-so" or just "Jew so-and-so" (read here). If the target of his hate speech is gay, he'll say "that homosexual so-and-so" (read here). When he provides a forum for David Duke, he doesn't say "neo-Nazi Klan leader David Duke". For him, it's "author and former Louisiana state representative", "a Christian man above reproach" and his "favorite radio patriot".

Besides David Duke, Edwards also promotes the views of people such as Nick Griffin of the British National Party, Professor David Ray Griffin of the "9/11 truth" movement and Professor Walter Block of Jews for Ron Paul (don't ask). (Here's the complete rogues gallery: a list of guests on The Political Cesspool.) While listening to these "esteemed guests", you may hear ads for the Holcaust denial outfit "Institute for Historical Review" which sponsors Edwards' broadcasts (read here).

Edwards also provides a forum for Republican authors like respected television pundit and Nazi apologist author Patrick J. Buchanan (on whose 2000 presidential campaign Edwards worked). Now he's promoting anti-Obama swiftboat smear monger Jerome Corsi. In case you can't pick up Edwards' broadcast where you live and would have missed the Jerome Corsi interview, the neo-Nazi website Stormfront kindly presented the show live via internet stream (read here). Republican bigwig Mary Matalin, who publishes and promotes Corsi's abominable book about Obama (read here), has not revealed whether she listened to the interview on the radio or the neo-Nazi webstream.

Matalin might be interested to see what else is being promoted alongside her star author. Edwards recently posted on his blog a bizarre musical video tribute to Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel (viewable here, but don't bother). Now he's promoting a speech by David Irving, who has been conducting a speaking tour of sorts around the U.S. Edwards calls his promo "Your chance to hear a real Holocaust survivor":

from JAMES EDWARDS:

If you’re anywhere near Alabama, and you want the chance to meet a real hero, mark August 26th on your calendar. That’s the day David Irving, a survivor of the Jewish Holocaust against free speech, will be speaking at the Prattville Holiday Inn. There will be a dinner, followed by a lecture by Mr. Irving. The cost is $20 at the door, but it’s only $16 if you pre-register online here [link deleted] . He’ll be speaking in other places on different dates, so by all means check his schedule at that link and see if he’ll be near you.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Lithuanian Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism still rampant. President promises change.

Regular readers of this blog have noticed several posts relating to the small Baltic state of Lithuania and its horrendous record of official Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism. (Read here and here and here). The government of Lithuania has been engaged in a campaign designed to silence or discredit eyewitnesses and scholars who have revealed Lithuanian collaboration in Holocaust atrocities.

This campaign is of the same type as much contemporary anti-Semitism. Rather than seeking to portray Jews as worthy of oppression, it targets Jews as oppressors. In this instance, Jews who reveal Lithuanian collaboration are slandered as collaborators in Soviet oppression of Lithuanians.

Now comes word from the blog Rootless Cosmopolitan that at least one recent chapter of official Lithuanian Holocaust denial may be coming to a close (read here), largely as a result of the intervention of the Simon Wiesenthal Center (read here). Of course, it remains to be seen whether the Lithuanians truly cease this attempt to rewrite history and persecute those who witnessed it.

Below, I've posted a brief article written by the cousins of Rachel Margolis, one of the Lithuanian Jewish survivors of the Holocaust who has spoken up about the role of Lithuanian collaborators. In addition to being a survivor and eyewitness to the Holocaust, she is a scholar who has uncovered other eyewitnesses. It is her role as scholar which brought her to the attention of the Lithuanian security service. Below that, I've posted an excerpt from an article published recently in Haaretz dealing with the same set of facts.

The book mentioned below, Ponary Diary, 1941-1943: A Bystander's Account of a Mass Murder by Kazimierz Sakowicz is available from Amazon here. Excerpts are available from Google Books here. More background, featuring photographs of Rachel Margolis, is available in this article (pdf). This piece from BBC News (read here) also provides some useful background to the case.


from the Cleveland Jewish News:

From hero to harassed: Lithuania’s campaign against Holocaust survivors

Our cousin Rachel Margolis is not in her native Vilnius this summer, as she has been in summers past, to teach visitors from around the world about Lithuania’s role in the Holocaust.

Despite the fact that the Lithuanian prime minister honored her three years ago as a war hero, the Lithuanian government is now turning on her and the country’s other few surviving Jews.

As a member of the EU, Lithuania is obligated to research and reconcile its role in the Holocaust. However, it has failed to convict a single one of its citizens of the war crimes documented in the Sakowicz diary, an eyewitness account by a non-Jew of the mass killings of Jews and Poles at Ponary, Lithuania. (See related article on p. 39.)

Instead, Lithuanian prosecutors are culling the memoirs of survivors like our cousin Rachel to find evidence of deaths of Lithuanian citizens at the hands of pro-Soviet partisans. (Rachel wrote a memoir recounting her escape from the ghetto and her experiences as a partisan.)

This is the government’s shameless attempt to divert attention away from its failure to ever seriously punish a single mass murderer.

Against this European context, the local shenanigans against survivors have unfolded. In 2005, Holocaust survivor and resistance fighter Yitzhak Arad, who for 21 years was director of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, was persuaded to join a Lithuanian commission investigating Nazi and Soviet crimes. A short time later, a blatantly racist newspaper article accused him of “war crimes” based on passages in his book The Partisan. On the heels of that, an equally racist prosecutor followed suit.

The same pathetic sequence unfolded again on Jan. 29, 2008. a blatantly anti-Semitic and vicious article appeared in a daily newspaper in Vilnius misquoting and misusing a passage in our cousin Rachel’s memoir (published in Russian) as “evidence” against Fania Brantsovsky, now 86 and librarian of the Vilnius Yiddish Institute at Vilnius University.

In response to these outrageous and unwarranted claims, the Yiddish institute organized a certificate of honor for Brantsovsky, as did the American Embassy in Vilnius. Both were awarded to her on April 30.

Five days later, however, men in dark suits came to Rachel’s home looking for her as a “witness against Fania.”

Even more recently, on Aug. 9, erev Tisha b’Av, which marks the fall of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, the Jewish Community Center in Vilnius was vandalized. Anti-Semitic grafitti was scrawled on the walls and windows of the building.

Lithuania’s hatred for its few remaining Jews grows worse and worse, seemingly daily.

Incredible! The country with the worst Holocaust record in Europe, while failing to punish any of the mass murderers of its Jewish population, has decided, in 2008, to continue its campaign of defamation, harassment and intimidation against the tiny handful of Holocaust survivors who are alive precisely because they joined the anti-Nazi partisans and fought valiantly against the German war machine in the forests outside Vilna

But you haven’t heard the greatest absurdity: The European community has bestowed on Vilnius the status of “Capital of European Culture” for 2009. Alas, a more apt description would be Capital of European Racism, Anti-Semitism and Holocaust Denial.

We do not want the Lithuanian government to benefit from the injustices it has committed. We do want the interrogation, defamation and harassment of people like Yitzhak Arad, Fania Brantsovsky, and Rachel Margolis to stop; we want these bona fide heroes to be welcome in Lithuania so that they can continue their Holocaust education of others.

Budd Margolis is a native Clevelander, and his cousin Marjorie Margolis joined him and other Cleveland teens on two teen tours led by his father Henry Margolis, director of the Cleveland Bureau of Jewish Education in the ’70s.

Lithuanian Nazi war criminals

Algimantas Dailide- Former operative of the Saugumas (Lithuanian Security Police), Vilna District. A Cleveland-based realtor, Dailide remains in Cleveland.

Aleksandra Lileikis (died mid-trial)

Kazys Gimzauskas (suffers from Alzheimer’s)

All three were denaturalized and ordered deported, but for various reasons were never punished.


Haaretz had this to say about Rachel Margolis' run in with the Lithuanian security service (read here):
A few months ago, Lithuanian policemen and agents from the security service knocked on Rachel Margolis' door in Vilna. Fortunately she was not home, and was thus saved the humiliation of an interrogation. Margolis, almost 90, was a Jewish partisan during World War II, and is finding it difficult to recover from the trauma even now, when she is living in her daughter's home in Rehovot.

"My sin in the eyes of the nationalists and the anti-Semites in the Lithuanian government," she says, "was that I was a partisan and fought against the Nazis and their collaborators."

The Lithuanian policemen and agents wanted to interrogate her about her memoir, in which she told about her partisan colleagues who in January 1944 attacked the village of Koniuchy (or in Lithuanian, Kaniukai).

The Lithuanian partisans, who operated under the aegis of the Central Partisan Command of the Soviet Union, had information that there was a German garrison in the village. After the fact, it turned out that the Germans had abandoned the place. In the battle that ensued, 38 villagers were killed, including women and children. In independent Lithuania, with a tendency to rewrite history after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, they describe this attack as a "massacre," and a special prosecutor opened an investigation.

Margolis says she was not even in Lithuania at the time of the attack, and was active in another partisan unit in White Russia.

"I wrote a book about the war, and in it I mentioned in a few lines that I had heard from partisan friends about the attack," she says.

In the book she mentions another partisan friend who was among the attackers, Fania Brantsovsky, and another partisan, Sara Ginaite, both of whom are also suspects and wanted for interrogation.

"That's Lithuanian chutzpah," says Dr. Efraim Zuroff, director of the Israeli branch of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. "To date, Lithuanian governments have not punished a single Lithuanian war criminal. In spite of our considerable efforts and the large amount of information we have given them, they handled three cases with astonishing slowness. Not one of the three served a single day in prison. On the other hand, they're not ashamed to persecute and harass Lithuanian partisans who fought the Nazis. What is common to all these cases is that they're all Jews. Instead of punishing Lithuanian criminals who collaborated with the Nazis and murdered Jews, they're harassing the partisans, Jewish heroes."

Perhaps the height of chutzpah was the attempt by Lithuania to investigate Dr. Yitzhak Arad, a Holocaust historian and one-time partisan, a former brigadier general and a chief education officer in the Israel Defense Forces, and the chairman of the board of Yad Vashem.

The Lithuanian claim against Arad was that he served in a Soviet security services, the NKVD, which engaged in murder and looting, and that he was involved in the murder of innocent Lithuanians. In the Lithuanian newspaper, Republika, they even published an article two years ago entitled "The expert with blood on his hands."

Arad explained that the Lithuanian claims against him were false. The Foreign Ministry and Yad Vashem sharply protested the Lithuanian demand, and refused to cooperate with the request.

Here's a thumbnail of the what Rachel Margolis uncovered about what happened at Ponary:

The Polish journalist W. Sakowicz, noted in his diary:

Bonfires burn near the station - They were kindled by policemen. Again a train from Vilna – they have arrived. The people were driven out from the carriages, and immediately a small batch was taken to the pit. The ones with poorer clothes on weren’t even undressed.

They were driven to the pit, and shooting began immediately.

Another batch of people were standing nearby and, on seeing what had happened to their nearest, began to yell. Some started running. A little lagging behind the others with her hair dishevelled, a woman is running pressing her child to her breast. The woman is chased after by a policeman, he smashes her head in with the rifle butt, the woman collapses

The policeman seizes the child by its leg, drags it to the pit. Among those participating in the Ponary massacre of 5 April 1943 was SS Sergeant Wille. “While shooting,” noted a German Security Police report, Wille “was attacked by a Jew” and wounded “by two knife blows in the back and one blow in the head.”

He was immediately taken to the military hospital in Vilna. “His life is out of danger,” the report continued, and added: “A Lithuanian policeman was fired at while some fifty Jews tried to escape, and he is badly wounded.” In Vilna the poet Shmerl Kaczerginski was standing not far from the ghetto gate. “I saw a young fellow sneaking in,” he later recalled, “bloody, weary, disappearing quickly into a doorway.”

In the security of someone’s home, the young man then pulled of his clothes, washed away the blood, tied up his wounded shoulder and whispered to those who had crowded around him: “I come from Ponary.” Kaczerginski added- “We were petrified. The young man told them: “Everyone – everyone was shot!” The tears rolled down his face. “Who”, he was asked. Did he mean the four thousand who were being sent to Kovno? Yes.”

In 1944 at the Ponary execution site Szloma Gol was among seventy Jews, and ten Russian prisoners –of – war suspected of being Jewish, who as members of a “Blobel Kommando” , had to dig up and then burn the bodies of those who had been murdered during the years 1941 – 1943.

Each night the eighty prisoners were forced to sleep in a deep pit to which the only access was by a ladder drawn up each evening. Each morning, chained at the ankles and waist, they were put to work to dig up and burn tens of thousands of corpses. These eighty prisoners were supervised by thirty Lithuanian and German guards and fifty SS men. Their guards were armed with pistols, daggers, and automatic guns – one armed guard for each chained prisoner.

Two and a half years later Szloma Gol recalled how, between the end of September 1943, when their work began, and April 1944:

We dug up altogether 68,000 corpses. I know this because two of the Jews in the pit with us were ordered by the Germans to keep count of the bodies – that was their sole job. The bodies were mixed, Jews, Polish priests, Russian prisoners-of –war. Amongst those that I dug up I found my own brother. I found his identification papers on him. He had been dead two years when I dug him up, because I know that he was in a batch of 10,000 Jews from the Vilna ghetto who were shot in September 1941.

The Jews worked in chains, anyone removing the chains, they were warned, would be hanged. As they worked, the guards beat and stabbed them. “I was once knocked senseless on to the pile of bodies,” Szloma Gol recalled, “and could not get up, but my companions took me off the pile.”

Then I went sick.” Prisoners were allowed to go sick for two days, staying in the pit while the others worked. On the third day, if they were still too sick to work, they would be shot. Szloma Gol managed to return to work. As the digging up and burning of the bodies proceeded, eleven of the eighty Jews were shot by the guards – sadistic acts which gratified the killers, and were intended to terrorise and cow the prisoners.


But inside the pit, a desperate plan of escape was being put into effect – the digging of a tunnel from the bottom of the pit to a point beyond the camp wire, at the edge of the Ponary woods.

While the tunnel was still being dug, a Czech SS man alerted the Jews to their imminent execution, “They are going to shoot you soon”, he told them, and “they are going to shoot me too, and put us all on the pile. Get out if you can, but not while I am on guard.”

One of the sixty-nine surviving prisoners, Isaac Dogim, took the lead on organising the escape. Dogim had been placing the corpses in layers on the pyre one day, when he recognised his wife, his three sisters and his three nieces.

All the bodies were decomposed, he recognised his wife by the medallion which he had given her on their wedding day. Another prisoner, Yudi Farber, who had been a civil engineer before the war, joined in the preparations for the escape.

On 15 April 1944 the prisoners in the pit at Ponary made their bid for freedom. Forty of them managed to get through the tunnel, but a guard, alerted by the sound of footsteps on the pine branches, opened fire.

In the ensuing chase twenty- five Jews were shot, but fifteen managed to reach the woods, later most of them joined the partisans in the distant Rudniki forest. Five days after the escape, the remaining twenty-nine prisoners were shot.

Lithuanian militiamen in Kovno round up Jews, June 25-July 8, 1941


Shooting at the edge of a pit





Ponary near Wilno (Vilna)/Vilnius, Lithuania,
Jewish victims of execution before the mass burial, 1943.

The President of Lithuania, Valdas Adamkus, has apologized for the recent investigation and promised Dr. Shimon Samuels of the Wiesenthal Center that the case is closed. Here's the Simon Wiesenthal Center's press release:

Vilnius, 7 August, Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus today received the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's Director for International Relations, Dr.Shimon Samuels, at the Presidential Palace in Vilnius. Samuels raised the following issues of concern in the Jewish-Lithuanian context: -the poisonous political climate conflating the fate of Jewish Holocaust victims mass murdered in Ponar with that of Lithuanians exiled to the Soviet Gulag
-- the subsequent antisemitic media attacks and judicial harassment of elderly Jewish partisans, Fania Brantsovskaya and Rachel Margolis - as also Yad VaShem Chairman emeritus, Dr.Yitzhak Arad
-- the restitution of Jewish community property and the dispute over the Jewish cemetery
-- the lack of Holocaust education

Now a member of European and Western international organizations, Samuels urged Lithuania to comply with their provisions on tolerance and anti-racism,with a special historic responsibility to join the campaign against resurgent antisemitism at the UN Durban Review Conference in Geneva next April. The Centre, likewise, called on Lithuania to "celebrate the anti-Nazi resistance by both Jewish and non-Jewish partisans." Samuels acknowledged the President's statement denouncing Skinhead violence,the banning of Nazi insignia and his wreath laying at the AMIA Jewish Centre bombsite on his State visit to Argentina. "Mr.President, all these measures are eclipsed by the offense to the Jewish partisans," continued Samuels, "as a respected international statesman and Ambassador of Goodwill of UNESCO, our Centre calls on you to invoke your moral authority for prompt closure on this issue...the United States Congress has just registered its own discontentment." "Next month's 65th anniversary of the liquidation of the Vilna Ghetto is perhaps a fitting occasion for a Presidential major statement honoring the anti-Nazi resistence by inviting Fania, Rachel and Dr. Arad as guests of the State," concluded Samuels. President Adamkus responded by condemning the Holocaust as, "the most horrible crime of the twentieth century," adding, "Lithuania, a small country, lost its leading Jewish intellectuals and doctors to the Nazi genocide and its leading citizens to the Soviets." He added, "I recognize the crimes committed by my fellow Lithuanians. This group destroyed our image...our Righteous Gentiles, though few, showed what should have been our true principles. These were moments of which I am ashamed." "Regarding the cemetery, it was first desecrated by the Soviet Sports Palace in the 1950's. The open space in front of it - even if privately owned - is to be sequestered and dedicated to Jewish memory for generations. Our Prime Minister agrees that it must be untouched." "On the partisans, I have spoken with the Attorney General, the Arad case is closed. Neither are the two women suspects. If they would give their expertise in a historical investigation, that would be welcome." Samuels advised that this formula would be construed as continued implication in a judicial process and requested a public statement confirming the definitive closure of this painful crisis. The Centre thanked the President looking forward to the implementation of these oral commitments.


Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus (L) with Dr. Samuels.

With Fania Brantsovskaya

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Lithuanian desecration of Jewish mass-grave from Holocaust halted

Nations which participated in the Holocaust and subsequently suppressed that history are having a problem. The bones of their victims keep on turning up unexpectedly in the most inconvenient places.

As you read these reports, keep in mind the following which I reported on this blog recently (read here). According to Dr. Efraim Zuroff, director of the Israeli branch of the Simon Wiesenthal Center:

"To date, Lithuanian governments have not punished a single Lithuanian war criminal. In spite of our considerable efforts and the large amount of information we have given them, they handled three cases with astonishing slowness. Not one of the three served a single day in prison. On the other hand, they're not ashamed to persecute and harass Lithuanian partisans who fought the Nazis. What is common to all these cases is that they're all Jews. Instead of punishing Lithuanian criminals who collaborated with the Nazis and murdered Jews, they're harassing the partisans, Jewish heroes."


from JTA:

Construction plans at the site of a Jewish mass grave in Lithuania have been scrapped. A site near Marijampole where tens of thousands of Jews were killed during the Holocaust recently had been sold to a company that had begun demolishing buildings at the site, disturbing the remains there.

Bones began to appear after concrete pavement at the site was dismantled. Heavy rains sometimes would wash new bones to the surface.

Jewish community leaders asked that the town halt work at the site, and Lithuanian authorities said this week the construction work would cease.

A local newspaper, Lietyvoa Zinios, reported that the remains that had risen to the surface would be buried with the cooperation of Jewish community leaders.

The site is located behind a czarist-era military town near Marijampole. Most of the Jews and other victims of the massacre there were killed by Nazis and their Lithuanian collaborators on a single day: Sept. 1, 1941. The site had been marked by a memorial, and the bodies had remained under heavy slabs of concrete and buildings.

more from the Baltic Times:

Authorities of the Lithuanian Jewish community and municipality administration of southern Lithuanian city Marijampole agreed there will be no more digging in the location of mass extermination of Jews. The remains of the killed will be buried, Lietuvos Zinios daily reported.

According to the Marijampole Municipality official in charge Gedeminas Kuncaitis, mass killings of inhabitants on the bend of Sesupe behind a military town built during the reigning of the tsars, took place in 1941.

On September 1st of that year alone, Germans, with the help of some Lithuanians, killed over 5,000 inhabitants here, most of whom were Jews, also killing some Lithuanians and Marijampole's inhabitants of other ethnic origins.

"Approximately some 8,000 people were killed here. The killing site is marked by a memorial, but there are no burial grounds of the victims in the area that is identified in documents as a protected Jewish extermination territory, as they all buried under the buildings of the former military town and its vicinities. This was confirmed by archeological inquiries conducted in 1996", Kuncaitis said.

According to the chief specialist, officers had erected a few military equipment storehouses and an ammo warehouse, and made embankments on the massive killing sites during the Soviet times. After the occupational army left Lithuania following the restoration of its independence, the said buildings were given over to the State Property Fund.

A company owned by Vidas Kalasinskas and Daiva Kalasinskiene bought the buildings this year for demolition. Officials of the Municipality of Marijampole issued a permit for taking down the buildings without prior coordination with specialists of the Department of Cultural Heritage. Human bones were found when tidying up the area and dismantling the concrete pavement. Even though construction works were halted at once and bones lying around on the ground were all gathered, any larger downpour of rain washed new bones afloat to the surface.

According to Kuncaitis, no more demolition works are planned on the burial ground site of massive Jew killings, even though a part of it is still covered in concrete. "It is about a meter thick there, therefore it will be impossible to dismantle it without heavy machinery. It hasn't been decided what to do with embankments made by Russian officers, which also contain the remnants of a large number of people's remains.


An excellent thumbnail sketch of the town is provided by the “Marijampole” chapter from Pinkas Hakehillot Lita translated by Yad Vashem and made available online by the Jewish Geneology website. The following is an excerpt dealing with the massacre:

On Sunday, June 22, 1941, German airplanes bombed Marijampole at dawn and destroyed the center of the city. Some 20 civilians, most of them Jews, were killed. Those made homeless in the bombing found shelter with other Jewish families. The German army entered Marijampole on the following day, June 23, 1941, after they had surrounded the city and blocked the roads leading eastward. Most of the Jews who fled the city were forced to return. Many were murdered by Lithuanians who ambushed the returning Jews. Very few did succeed in fleeing to the Soviet Union. Even during the first days of occupation many Jews were arrested on various and sundry charges. All those arrested were subsequently murdered in a forest 4 kilometers from the city in the direction of Vilkovoshok (cf)[Vilkaviskis]. Every morning Jews were required to leave on various work details; the men in clearing bomb damage and the women in farm work and domestic service. The elderly, including the town's rabbi, R. Heller, were occasionally required to sweep the local streets. Some of the Jewish youth who actively opposed the Germans and their Lithuanian helpers were murdered and some were hanged at the market square.

On July 15, 1941, the Lithuanian regional governor issued an order that prohibited Jews from being found on certain streets, at the local bathing areas, city parks, coffee houses and restaurants, libraries, and other public places. They were forbidden from purchasing food from street vendors, markets, or on the road, but were restricted to stores at fixed hours, which were set by the governor. They were not permitted to make use of services offered by non-Jews and they were required to wear yellow stars on both the front and back of their clothing. One day a group of Jews was brought to the courtyard of the synagogues and were forced to remove the Torah scrolls from the arks and all the other sacred texts from the shelves, gather them into a pile, and set them on fire. That same month an order was issued that required the Jews to abandon their homes and gather in the synagogues and some adjacent houses. In this packed area, it was easier for the Germans to rob the Jews, take them for forced labor, and abuse the young women at night. The Germans would occasionally choose strong young men for forced labor and then murder them on the city's outskirts.

In August, the Germans forced the Jewish youth to dig trenches behind the barracks along the Sesupe River. They knew that these trenches were meant for the Jews. When they told their parents, there were strenuous efforts made to prevent [their mass murder] but to no avail. At the end of the month Jewish communal workers were summoned to the Lithuanian governor who informed them that a large ghetto would soon be established in the cavalry barracks and that all the surrounding area was to be turned over to the Jews. To further mislead them, they were told by the Germans that as long as the war continued, they would be permitted to control the economic and social aspects of their lives [in the ghetto]. The Jews packed their belongings and in a long procession made their way in the direction of the barracks. When they arrived, the men were separated from their families and squeezed into the stables. The following days the men were subject to severe mistreatment that the Germans referred to as 'sporting activities.' Jews from Kazlova-Roda (cf) [Kazlu-Ruda], Ludvinova (cf) [Liudvinavas], and other surrounding localities were also brought to the barracks. On August 30 they were joined by the Jews of Kalvarija. On Monday, 9 Elul, 5701 (September 1, 1941), the Jews of Marijampole were among the 7,000 to 8,000 Jews and 1,000 members of other nations who were murdered in the valley next to the Suspe River. They were all buried in the eight trenches previously dug. Each trench was 70 meters long and 3 meters wide. The mass executions continued from 10 o'clock in the morning until 4 o'clock in the afternoon. The majority of the murderers were Lithuanians and among them were many high school and university students. The men, stripped completely naked, were brought to the trenches in groups of between 100 and 200. They were forced to lie in rows and were shot from above by machine guns. When the turn of the women and children came, chaos reigned. The drunken murderers pushed their victims into the pits and smashed the skulls of the children with clubs and spades. Eyewitnesses among the Lithuanian workers who were brought the following day to cover the trenches said that the earth there continued to move for days. Two Jewish families committed suicide -- Dr. David Rosenfeld poisoned himself, his wife and his daughter. Cantor Lansky did likewise with his wife and three children.


The site of the mass graves near the military barracks and the Monument at the site. The inscription in Yiddish and Lithuanian says:

"Here blood was spilled of about 8000 Jewish children, women, men and of 1000 people of different nationalities, that the Nazis and their local helpers cruelly murdered in September 1941"


Friday, August 15, 2008

Anti-Obama smear author on racist radio

Swiftboat smear monger Jerome Corsi is flogging his scurrilous anti-Obama screed in such friendly forums as the Sean Hannity radio show and the Sean Hannity TV show, where he accused Obama of supporting infanticide. More about that in a future post, but chew on this for now: Corsi's had a friendly interview on the overtly racist, anti-Semitic show Political Cesspool, previously a forum for neo-Nazis, neo-confederates and the Klan. He fits right in. In fact, he's scheduled another interview for Sunday, Aug. 17.

Read the following and then tell me what Mary Matalin is doing promoting and publishing this guy and even touting his "scholarship". I saw a Republican flack on the Larry King show going so far as to claim that Corsi wasn't associated with the Republicans. He's not? They're just publishing and promoting him as they did with the 2004 swfitboating book.

The Republicans must clearly and emphatically disavow the racist anti-Semitic Corsi and stop using neo-Nazi radio shows to promote their views. More on this to come.

, from Hatewatch | Southern Poverty Law Center:

Perhaps Corsi’s most telling appearance, however, has been on The Political Cesspool, an overtly racist, anti-Semitic radio show hosted by self-avowed white nationalist James Edwards. Corsi was interviewed on the Cesspool on July 20 and is scheduled to appear again this Sunday, August 17, joining a recent guest roster that has included Christian Identity pastor Pete Peters, Holocaust denier Mark Weber and former Klan boss David Duke.

Along with promoting Corsi’s appearances, Edwards is boasting on his website that the three-hour weekly show will join the Republic Broadcasting Network in September. This conspiracy-minded network, heard via satellite and the web, features talk about a sinister “New World Order” and wild theories about the causes of 9/11. Shows that air on the network include The Piper Report, named after host Michael Collins Piper, who has contributed to the holocaust denial magazine The Barnes Review, and Mark Dankof’s America, which has interviewed Weber, director of the Institute for Historical Review, a leading Holocaust denial group.


Jerry Wexler Is Dead at 91

Here's the New York Times obit -- a little unfocused, and saddled with an odd headline that transformed him from producer and record company exec to "impresario", a term which is pretty much meaningless, but important for the background about his early life. As a journalist, he invented the term "rhythm & blues" to replace the then current "race music" -- a term notable for being both a euphemism and offensive. Working as a producer and executive with Atlantic Records, he was one of the leaders of the invasion of independent record labels that freed popular music from the death grip of major label hacks with no taste or interested in black music. He helped create the music known as R & B, soul and rock & roll. Read the obit, then read his memoirs (available here):

from the New York Times: Jerry Wexler, R&B Impresario, Is Dead at 91 - Obituary

Jerry Wexler, who as a reporter for Billboard magazine in the late 1940s christened black popular music with the name rhythm and blues, and who as a record producer helped lead the genre to mainstream popularity, propelling the careers of Ray Charles, Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin and other performers, died on Friday at his home in Sarasota, Fla. He was 91.

The cause was congestive heart failure, said his son, Paul.

Mr. Wexler was already in his 30s when he entered the music business, but his impact was immediate and enduring. In 1987, the Rock and Hall of Fame recognized his contributions to American music by inducting him in only its second year of conferring such honors.

Mr. Wexler actually didn’t care for rock ’n’ roll, at least as it evolved in the 1960s and ’70s. Though he signed a British band called Led Zeppelin and eventually produced records by the likes of Bob Dylan, Carlos Santana, Dire Straits and George Michael, his main influence came in the 1950s and ’60s as a vice president of Atlantic Records, working largely with black artists who were forging a new musical style, which came to be called soul music, from elements of gospel, swing and blues.

“He played a major role in bringing black music to the masses, and in the evolution of rhythm and blues to soul music,” Jim Henke, vice president and chief curator for the Hall of Fame, said in an interview. “Beyond that, he really developed the role of the record producer. Jerry did a lot more than just turn on a tape recorder. He left his stamp on a lot of great music. He had a commercial ear as well as a critical ear.”

Mr. Wexler was something of a paradox. A businessman with tireless energy, a ruthless streak and a volatile temper, he was also a hopeless music fan. A New York Jew and a vehement atheist, he found his musical home in the Deep South, in studios in Memphis and Muscle Shoals, Ala., among Baptists and Methodists, blacks and good old boys.

“He was a bundle of contradictions,” said Tom Thurman, who produced and directed a documentary about Mr. Wexler in 2000. “He was incredibly abrasive and incredibly generous, very abrupt and very, very patient, seemingly a pure, sharklike businessman and also a cerebral and creative genius.”

The title of Mr. Thurman’s documentary, “Immaculate Funk,” was Mr. Wexler’s phrase for the Atlantic sound, characterized by a heavy backbeat and a gospel influence. “It’s funky, it’s deep, it’s very emotional, but it’s clean,” Mr. Wexler once said.

Though not a musician himself, Mr. Wexler had a natural rapport with musicians, who seemed to recognize his instinct for how best to employ their gifts. In 1950, while he was still at Billboard, he encountered the young singer Patti Page and hummed for her a 1947 song he liked, “The Tennessee Waltz.” Her subsequent recording of it sold three million copies in eight months.

A few years later he was a partner at Atlantic, presiding over the 1954 recording session of Ray Charles’s breakout hit, “I’ve Got a Woman.” He said later that the best thing he had done for Charles was to let him do as he pleased.

“He had an extraordinary insight into talent,” Charles, who died in 2004, said in “Immaculate Funk.”

Mr. Wexler wasn’t always a mere listener. In the mid-1960s, at a recording session with Wilson Pickett, Mr. Wexler wanted more of a backbeat in the song “In the Midnight Hour” but couldn’t explain in words what he wanted, so he illustrated it by doing a new dance, the jerk.

In the late 1960s and ’70s, he made 14 Atlantic albums with Ms. Franklin, whose musical instincts had been less than fully exploited at her previous label, Columbia. Mr. Wexler gave her more control over her songs and her sound, a blend of churchlike spirituality and raw sexuality, which can be heard in hits like “Respect,” “Dr. Feelgood” and “Chain of Fools.”

“How could he understand what was inside of black people like that?” Pickett asked in the documentary. “But Jerry Wexler did.”

Gerald Wexler was born in New York City on Jan. 10, 1917, and grew up in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan at a time before the building of the George Washington Bridge, when swimming in the Hudson River was a summer pastime.

His parents were mismatched. His father, Harry, was a Polish immigrant who spent his entire working life as a window washer. His headstrong mother, Elsa, had higher aspirations for herself and especially for Jerry, the older of her two sons: she wanted him to be writer.

Young Jerry didn’t care for school much, however; he frequented pool halls and record stores instead, and he went to Harlem jazz clubs at night. In 1936, as something of a last-ditch effort to straighten out her wayward son, Elsa Wexler enrolled him at Kansas State College of Agriculture and Applied Science (known today as Kansas State University) in Manhattan, Kan. There he first encountered a rural musical sensibility, and 100 or so miles away, in the lively musical scene of Kansas City, Mo., he could immerse himself in the blues.


READ THE REST HERE...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Jewish anti-Israel activist and "9/11 truth" advocate disrupt Pelosi speech

CINDY SHEEHAN SUPPORTERS INTERRUPT SPEECH AT L.A.'s UNIVERSITY OF JUDAISM


Here, in their own words, are the stories of anti-Israel activist Marcy Winograd and "9/11 truth" advocate and 2006 Green Party state assembly candidate Peter Thottam disrupting a speech by Nancy Pelosi.

I've written about Winograd, a leader of L.A. Jews for Peace, before here. In that piece, I quoted Winograd to the effect that she does not support the existence of Israel and that she is reluctant to state this to the media because it may alienate voters. Ya think? She made this statement in a speech to the pro-Palestinian group Friends of Sabeel entitled "Call For One State", which is available here (cached here).  Here are two quotes:

Not only do I think a two-state solution is unrealistic, but also fundamentally wrong because it only reinforces heightened nationalism.   You cannot establish a democracy in a state founded on the institutionalized superiority or exclusivity of one of religion, ethnicity or culture.  I do not support the notion of an Islamic state or a Christian state any more than I support a Jewish state.  As a citizen of the United States, I do not want my tax dollars to support institutionalized racism. 

and...
You are a supporter of Israel’s right to exist, aren’t you? she said.
Well, I told the CNN reporter, I certainly support the right of all people to exist. No one should be persecuted for their religion and everyone deserves protection from religious persecution.
She gave up trying to get a straight answer out of me, but she covered our protest in front of the Holocaust Museum...



Here is a photo of Winograd (below left) and her fellow LA Jews for Peace members demonstrating outside the Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.



Thottam, a hard-core "9/11 truth" conspiracy advocate ran for the California state assembly on the Green ticket in 2006. His website still lists him as a candidate for the assembly but does not state his party. Based on some of the content of his website, Thottam may have gone through the rabbit hole of the far left and come out in the nether region between far left and far right. Thottam's website prominantly features both photos of him with Howard Zinn and a link to the far-right anti-Semitic conspiracy website American Free Press, publisher of Michael Collins Piper (read here) and promoter of Christian Identity theology. Here's a quote from their mission statement:

The average American has no idea that super-rich predators with names like Rockefeller, Rothschild, Bronfman, Newhouse, Murdoch and Redstone are making vast profits and achieving immense power through their stranglehold on the American media (and, increasingly, on media around the globe.)

� These shadowy media controllers decide which politicians are “in” and which politicians are “out.” (They made Bill Clinton overnight. They also broke Richard Nixon overnight.)

� The Masters of the Media decide which issues can—or cannot—be debated. (Imagine a public de bate (sic) over the Federal Reserve system on Ted Coppell’s (sic) Nightline. It will never happen!)

� The Masters of the Media promote the perverse, anti-Christian Cultural Communist ideology that permeates publishing and broadcasting today.


[photo]Thottam's website has a lot of stuff about what he calls the "NWO" which is the term far right conspiracy buffs use for "New World Order" (read here):
3 IMPORTANT LINKS WITH NWO ANALYSIS & RELATED CONTENT:

#1: JFK's '63 assassination, Federal Reserve, ZION & Crown Corp. relationships; Misc. NWO & Related Links

While Thottam lets his political freak flag fly and makes no pretense of being a Democrat, Winograd actually has a leadership position in the Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles, a position from which she can recklessly hurt the Democrats. Should she be called a DINO of the left? She and the PDLA advocate much that I and other liberal Democrats support, then attach to that position poison pills that harm the Democratic Party and its nominees. To that end, she supports Cindy Sheehan's candidacy to unseat Rep. Pelosi. And she does it with such class. Notice how Winograd gloats in her piece about how scared Nancy Pelosi looked when Winograd leapt to her feet in the audience and began shouting at the stage. For Winograd, that's apparently a point of pride. Rep. Pelosi, who is undoubtedly the subject of constant threats, probably feared that she was about to be the victim of a physical attack, not a harangue. If activists like Code Pink, the "9/11 truth" crowd and Winograd wish to be considered non-violent advocates of peace, how can they take such pleasure in subjecting people to this sort of implicit threat? Let them get their jollies scaring people in some other way -- like telling the truth about their extremist positions instead of burying them in blizzards of good intentions.

Here, from Peter Thottam's website, are first person accounts and video. Here are first person accounts posted on the Impeach Bush For Peace website. Here's a link to a photo showing Code Pink's Linda Milazzo holding up a dust jacket of Pelosi's book on which she's written a pro-Cindy Sheehan slogan. DINOs of the left?

Here's a quote from Winograd's account:

Jumping up, a few seats back from the stage, Thottam shouted, Who gave you the right to destroy the Constitution and take Impeachment off the table? Our first, second, fourth, fifth and eight Constitutional amendments are being annihilated. 1 million Iraqis are dead. 5,000 Americans including Cindy Sheehan's son. We've spent over 1 trillion taxpayer dollars on a war that should never have been started. Our constitution is being destroyed, Nancy. Bring back our Constitution… Bring it back … Security moved in on Peter, took him away, arrested him and threw him in jail for the night.
Quote from Peter Thottam — Security Guard called the LAPD officers and made a citizen's arrest. Spent the night in jail. The police officers were sympathetic and agreed about the role of big money in Congress. They agreed that Pelosi and these reps are just tools.
Seconds after Peter's challenge, I shot up, two rows back from the stage, smack dab in the center of the audience, asking, Nancy, were you fully briefed on torture? Were you briefed on torture? Then came Jodie Evans, co-founder of Code Pink, holding out a copy of the US Constitution, offering it to Pelosi, just in case she missed the repeated mentions of impeachment as a remedy for abuse of power. Security moved in on Jodie, too, whisking her out of the auditorium at American Jewish University, high atop Sepulveda, just past the fifty protestors (sic) who came to greet Pelosi with Impeachment is on Our Table and Out of Iraq Now! and No Attack on Iran! signs and banners.
During Pelosi's entire book talk, some of us — Sara Nichols, Jodie Evans, Linda Milazzo, Marcy Winograd, Tighe Barry – held up our Nancy books with messages we scrawled in big black letters on the inside cover — Protect Iran - Honor Your Oath - Impeach! - Hold Bolton and Rove in Contempt — Nancy, Torture? Torture? Torture? and more about specific articles of the Constitution which called for impeachment. Security personnel whispered, watched us — seemingly unsure of how to respond to this act of subtle, yet distracting resistance. (continued below)
At one point during her talk, Pelosi, visibly nervous, looked right at us, those of us sitting two rows back, front and center, and told us, almost apologetically, "I was an activist too, I am a progressive, I want the war to end, too. I want to get out of Iraq" and then — "We need to move our troops into Afghanistan, not Iraq."


In case any reader of this blog hasn't figured it out yet, I am a Democrat and a liberal one at that. I proclaim in strong terms my opposition to the Bush administration and the war in Iraq. Both have been and continue to be disastrous for this country and the world. But the answer is not to descend into the madness of 9/11 conspiracy theory. The answer is not to terrify innocent people with childish, sometimes malicious, theatrics. And it certainly helps no one except the Republicans for Thottam, Winograd and other Sheehan supporters and DINOs of the left to try to do locally what Nader supporters did nationally in 2000.

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