Saturday, June 30, 2007

Traditional British understatement takes on apologists for Islamic terror

from normblog:

Moderate democrats in disguise

According to this piece by Alistair Crooke, Hamas are 'Islamism's moderates'. This moderation is one they share, he thinks, with Hizbollah. Crooke is one of the directors of Conflicts Forum. On its website, the remit of the Forum is quoted as including a desire 'to challenge the prevailing Western orthodoxy that perceives Islamism as an ideology that is hostile to the agenda for global democracy and good governance'.

Moderation is a relative thing, so there is doubtless an extreme next to which Hamas and Hizbollah look moderate. The trouble is, not everything is relative in quite this way. Whether Israel is a legitimate state and whether the Jewish people have a right to national self-determination within its pre-1967 boundaries are yes-or-no questions. Both the Hamas charter and the programme of Hizbollah give non-moderate answers to these questions. They say things like: 'Israel will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it as it had eliminated its predecessors'; and 'our struggle will end only when this [Zionist] entity is obliterated'.

The totalizing claims in Part I of the first document and the opening paragraph of the second (with the 'obeying the orders of one leader' stuff) suggest that the Conflicts Forum have a rather limited conception of what democracy and good governance require. (Thanks: SC.)

Is Darwin Kosher? Yes, thanks to Maimonides.

from the Wall Street Journal: OpinionJournal
Did we come from monkeys? Ask the Zoo Rabbi.

Friday, June 29, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Last month, 600 people turned out for a Yeshiva University fund-raiser at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. The museum, which stands as a monument to science, houses one of the world's most extensive collections of dinosaur fossils. The dinner itself was held in the dramatic Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, which features a massive blue whale that hangs suspended in midair; intricate dioramas modeled on the flora and fauna of the planet's oceans line the walls. Everything about the affair suggested that Yeshiva, the intellectual epicenter of Modern Orthodox Jewish life in America, is very much at ease in the world of secular science.

This impression is confirmed by Carl Feit, who is an ordained rabbi and Talmudic scholar as well as chairman of the science division at Yeshiva College. Prof. Feit says that in nearly a quarter-century of teaching introductory biology, he has always taught evolution--supported by traditional Jewish source material--and that 'there has never been a blip on the radar here.' His assessment echoes the official line of the Modern Orthodox rabbinical association, which states that evolution is entirely consistent with Judaism.

The seeming ease with which this branch of Judaism has embraced science can in large part be credited to the towering intellectual legacy of Moses Maimonides. In his 12th-century masterpiece, "Guide to the Perplexed," Maimonides opened the door to a Judaism unfettered by a literal reading of religious texts. For many Jews the persuasive case for evolution does indeed amount to a crisis of faith, but the Maimonidean precedent of figurative interpretation provides a framework within which conflicts arising between Torah and science can be argued away. To be sure, some arguments are more compelling than others (and a great many are not compelling at all). But in contrast to many observant Christians, there is a greater willingness of these believers to live with such inconsistencies.

This practice has long been on display even in the more rigid Orthodox precincts of the Jewish world, where many prominent rabbis were quick to reconcile the Torah with the truths of science. "It is the power of the Torah that all theories can be included," wrote one Montreal-based Orthodox rabbi in the summer of 1925, at the time of the Scopes trial. A few years earlier, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, chief rabbi of pre-state Palestine, assured his followers that evolution, "more so than all other philosophical theories, conforms to the kabbalistic secrets of the world."

Yet there are important exceptions to this tradition of moderation, and in certain parts of the ultra-Orthodox world, Darwinism has always been denounced as subversive and dangerous. Take the case of Rabbi Natan Slifkin. A boyish-looking ultra-Orthodox Israeli scholar and science writer, Mr. Slifkin, who publishes his books in English, is popularly known as the "Zoo Rabbi" because of his consuming fascination with the animal kingdom and his Steve Irwin-esque pedagogical style. In recent years he has emerged as a central figure in the ultra-Orthodox struggle to define the proper place of science within Judaism.


Cairo U. Professor Hassan Nafaa finally uncovers Israeli conspiracy for world domination!

from Elder of Ziyon: An example of Arab Jew-hatred masked as intellectualism

Al-Ahram in Egypt printed an op-ed, by a professor of political science at Cairo University, where the author starts off saying what is wrong with Arab conspiracy theories, and then swallows one hook, line and sinker. It has to be seen to be believed:

Many, I believe, share my sense of alarm over current events in the Arab world. Many wonder what will become of a region home to the world's worst crises. In Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon, Somalia and Sudan millions are being killed and repressed, imprisoned and tortured, expelled and displaced, brutalised and starved. No sooner do explosions abate in one location that they would flare up in another. Places of worship, the traditional safe haven for those in need of protection, have not just been caught up in the cycle of murder, but have become a target for destruction and bombing. Amid the dust cloud rising from chaos, everyone seems to be grabbing each other's throats. Often, we don't know what the fighting is about.

The most disturbing thing is that the crises present in the aforementioned countries keep escalating, finding new twists, and spilling over elsewhere in a whirlwind of intersecting disasters. Like a deadly disease slowly working its way across the region, some of our countries are in utter turmoil while others appear quiet on the surface. We don't hear explosions in these countries, nor do we see rivers of blood flowing. But if we look beneath the surface, we soon discover that these countries are neither immune nor sturdy. An eruption can happen at any moment.

There is no denying that the crises gripping the Arab world, whether evident or latent, have various roots. The causes may differ from one country to another, but there is a common thread somewhere -- a common thread that makes all vulnerable to civil war, to the kind of turmoil that may redraw the map of the region along ethnic or sectarian lines. How did we get into this fix? Is it self-destruction? Or is it the handiwork of outside powers? If so, what are their plans and intents?

So far, so good - the esteemed professor identifies a large undercurrent of problems throughout the Arab world and is seeking a common thread.
The mere asking of such questions causes controversy in the circles of the Arab elite. Any attempt to answer such questions inevitably puts one in one of two camps: the camp of conspiracy theory and the camp of self- deprecation. The camp of conspiracy theory has a ready- made interpretation for every disaster. It blames all sorts of evil on outside powers that hate the Arabs and the Islamic world -- mainly the US and Israel. The camp of self- deprecation takes the opposite point of view. It argues that our troubles are due to pitfalls latent in the nature of Arab and Islamic political systems. Both camps are busy ridiculing each other's thinking. So you can only challenge one or both at your own risk.

The conspiracy theory people tend to overlook aspects of inertia in the structure of Arab and Islamic regimes, as if the latter have no influence on our dismal reality. The self- deprecating people hate to admit that certain powers are plotting against the Arab world, and are therefore responsible for many of our current tribulations. I believe that it is time to get over the polarisation between those two schools of thought. We should start assessing events on the Arab and Islamic scene from various angles and dimensions, both domestic and foreign. We need to look at the entire picture. No conspiracies, however elaborate, can succeed without the inbuilt drawbacks in our systems.

OK, perhaps a little biased, but on the whole an admirable attempt to realistically come to grips with reality. Right?
I would like now to discuss the way the Zionist mind works and how it hopes to establish a major and dominant Jewish state in the region.
Ah, an analysis of the Zionist mind! Things are getting interesting!
To shed light on that issue, consider an article entitled "A strategy for Israel in the 1980s". Oded Yinon, a former Israeli journalist and diplomat, wrote the article in Hebrew. It appeared in February 1982 in the newspaper Kivunim. The article drew the attention of the Association of Arab-American University Graduates, which asked Israel Shahak, the well-known Israeli human rights activist, to translate it into English and comment on it. The article was then republished under the title, "The Zionist plan for the Middle East."
Yes, out of the hundreds of articles written by Israelis and Zionists about foreign affairs in the past six decades, our good professor seems to have decided - based on commentary by one of the most outstanding Jewish anti-semites of recent history - that this one is emblematic of all of Zionist thought.

Some may wonder why I am interested in an article written by an obscure journalist, even if he was a former employee in the Israeli Foreign Minister. Why would I treat that article as if it were an official document released by the Zionist movement or Israel, instead of relying on the many documents released by official figures and organisations? To those, I would say that Professor Shahak, an authority in Zionist thinking, described the article as the most extensive on the subject and as faithfully mirroring the thinking of the Zionist mainstream on the matter of dividing the Arab world.
Just as an example, Shahak wrote in his book Jewish History, Jewish Religion. The Weight of Three Thousand Years that orthodox Jews worship Satan during ritual hand-washing before meals and that Jewish children are taught a curse to say when they walk outside non-Jewish cemeteries. Yes, the professor has found his authority.
Does it make sense, you may ask, for the Zionist movement to publish a paper that would reveal its true intentions, even if it were written in Hebrew? Shahak provides the answer to this question. First, he points out that the aim of the document is to educate the new generations of the Israeli elite, especially in the military, of the thinking of the founding fathers, whose teachings were up to then relayed orally. Secondly, the Zionists doubt the ability of the Arab mind to react sensibly to any threats, however devastating those could be.
Now that we've solved that problem, time to see what this clearly seminal article from that obscure journal that is the blueprint of Zionist thinking actually says.
The Zionist strategy at stake involves two main aspects. One is its perception of the structure of the region surrounding it from the demographic, social and cultural perspectives. The other aspect is its perception of the security of the Jewish state and of the means to defend this security in an absolute manner, which is the ultimate aim of the Zionist movement.

Concerning the first aspect, the Zionist movement sees the Arab world not as an integral entity that is ethnically, socially, or religiously cohesive, but as a region of immense diversity, a mosaic of countries inside which tribes, sects and minorities are in continual conflict. Current entities, or Arab states, have been created through historic and political coincidences related to the ambitions of foreign powers (the imperial powers that inherited the Ottoman Empire) and the interplay of domestic interests (of tribes, clans and political and social movements). The Zionist movement believes that these units, or Arab states, cannot endure in their current form and can easily be dismantled, which would allow for the region to be reshaped on completely different foundations.

Concerning the second aspect, the Zionist movement believes that Israel's security cannot be achieved through military superiority alone, however important that military superiority may be. So no other major central state should be allowed to exist in the region. The Zionist movement is determined to break up any central state in the region and divide it into small entities created on ethnic or sectarian lines. Once this is done, Israel would become vindicated, for its ethnic foundations would be no different than that of other countries in the region; and Israel would become the biggest, strongest, and most advanced country in the Middle East. This would give it the clout it needs to lead the region and control its future course. In other words, Israel would be the region's mastermind, the country that calls the shots and tells others what to do.
I can imagine a serious article talking about how fractured the Arab world is, and even how it is in Israel's interests to encourage indigenous ethnic Arab subgroups to assert themselves. But it takes a special kind of paranoia to see this article as a blueprint for regional Zionist domination that echoes, in nationlistic terms, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. And now that this Egyptian professor feels that his arguments are air-tight, he is free to see the world since 1982 in terms of Jewish - um, Zionist - domination:
The above is a short synopsis of Yinon's article, and yet the article is worthy of further discussion. First, because the article was published for the first time years after Egypt signed a peace agreement with Israel, a few months after the assassination of President Anwar El-Sadat, and a few months before Israel pulled out of Sinai on 25 April 1982. When Israel invaded Lebanon, less than four months after the article was published, it was literally doing everything Yinon recommended. ...

Second, it has now become clear, beyond any doubt, that the Zionist movement, led by Israel, has played a pivotal role in prodding the current US administration to invade Iraq. The US administration acted like a tool in the hand of a Zionist movement that wanted Iraq partitioned at any cost, and that hopes to see other countries in the region follow suit.

Third, it is the right of future generations of Arab citizens to be aware of plots against their countries. We must encourage the young generations to keep an open mind about all ideas, including those attributed to conspiracy theories, before they wake up one day and discover that their future has been shattered or their land taken away.

I will dedicate three more articles to a detailed discussion of Yinon's essay. In the first article, I will discuss Zionist schemes against Egypt, focussing on Israel's hope to restore Sinai and divide Egypt into two states, a Coptic one in the south and a Sunni one in the north. In the second article, I will discuss Zionist designs on the eastern part of the Arab world; namely, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. In the third, I will discuss Zionist schemes for the Gulf and North Africa. Again, I do not wish to promote conspiracy theories per se, but some risks of naïvety are too real to ignore.
There you have it. A secret Zionist plan, cleverly leaked out to the public where only the most far-seeing Arabs can see its huge importance, for regional dominance and the destruction of the Arab world.

This is how the elite academics and intellectuals of the Arab world - in a country that is supposedly at peace with Israel - think. (I would rather not fall into the trap this author does of generalizing one article - if someone can find me Egyptian political science articles that do not think that there is a Zionist plan to dominate the Arab world or the world at large, I will be happy to give it equal space. But I've never seen it.)

Friday, June 29, 2007

Islamists targeted NJ/NY PATH trains

read "The PATH Tunnel Plot"

Court Jews: Pro Basketball s Forgotten History

Mention the names Leo Gottlieb, Sid Hertzberg, Ossie Schectman, Ralph Kaplowitz, Nat Milotzok and Hank Rosenstein, and the image that probably comes to mind is that of the board of directors of a Florida retirement village rather than half the roster of the 1946-47 New York Knickerbockers basketball team.

But Knicks they were, during the team’s inaugural season in the old Basketball Association of America (BAA), one of two leagues whose eventual merger created the National Basketball Association, which next week begins its 60th season of competition.

The Knicks won their first-ever game, defeating the Toronto Huskies 68-66 at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. “Most of the fans in Toronto were pretty nice,” recalls Ralph Kaplowitz in Garden Glory, Dennis D’Agastino’s oral history of the Knicks, “but some of them kept yelling ‘Abe! Abe! Abe! Throw the ball to Abe!’ You know, sort of mocking the Jewish people. Of course, we ignored it. But you can’t help remembering that this is what went on.”

read it here

Oliver Kamm: The Milibands, the Jews and foreign policy

Stephen Pollard, on his Spectator blog, cites an interesting case of "idle and gratuitous mindreading" in a BBC correspondent's analysis of how Tony Blair will be perceived in his new role. The technique is clearly standard among the corporation's journalists: this is from a profile of the new Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, by the BBC World Affairs correspondent Paul Reynolds:
David Miliband's Jewish background will be noted particularly in the Middle East.

Israel will welcome this - but equally it allows him the freedom to criticise Israel, as he has done, without being accused of anti-Semitism.

I find this an extraordinary remark. Reynolds is an experienced correspondent, yet I can't begin to work out what he means. Surely he can't be saying that Israel regards it as relevant to its diplomatic goals whether the foreign minister of a particular democracy is a Jew. If that premise is what Reynolds is insinuating, then the least you can say is that he's plainly wrong. I have had the good fortune to speak in recent years to some of the most senior figures in Israeli politics and diplomacy, and I have never heard such a suggestion, even by implication, from any of them.

Perhaps they just determine on keeping it from me - but even then, such an aim would make no sense. Has Reynolds never heard of, say, Bruno Kreisky, Chancellor of Austria from 1970 to 1983? Kreisky, who died in 1990, was the most ferociously anti-Israel politician to lead any Western democracy since the founding of the Jewish state. Nor did he confine his invective to Israel. In a notorious statement to an Israeli interviewer, Zeev Barth, and reported in Der Spiegel on 17 November 1975, Kreisky described the Jews - not "the Zionists", or some similar equivocation - as "a wretched people" (ein mieses Volk). Kreisky was, of course, a Jew. I know of no evidence that a statesman’s being Jewish – not only incendiary figures such as Kreisky but also urbane politicians such as Sir Malcolm Rifkind - is any predictor of his views on foreign policy. Nor, I surmise, does Reynolds. Nor, I further surmise, does Reynolds have any evidence that Israeli statesmen believe there is. If he does, and he happens to be reading this, I'll be glad to acknowledge my error; but I'm sure he's making it up.

The problem with the sort of unsubstantiated and implausible notion that Reynolds has trailed here is that you don’t have to take it much further before you get into dangerous territory. Why might a Foreign Secretary of Jewish background be expected to favour Israel, not just historically and emotionally, but in current diplomatic disputes? The answer is, of course, that he might if he has some sort of “dual loyalty” – to Israel as well as to the UK. You don't need me to explain why that's an illegitimate and pernicious charge to make in political debate, against anyone. It’s an accusation about someone’s mental states and as such is unfalsifiable; it is thereby not a criticism but always and in all cases a slur. (A few years ago the writer Will Self, on an edition of BBC's Question Time, exemplified this technique by demanding of Melanie Phillips whom she would support if Great Britain were at war with Israel. I have, incidentally, an objection on similar grounds to the charge that someone – say, Norman Finkelstein or Noam Chomsky – is a “self-hating Jew”, and I never use the term.)


...David Miliband's antecedents give us no clue whatsoever to his stance as Foreign Secretary.

read the rest here: The Milibands, the Jews and foreign policy

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Daring escape from Auschwitz revealed

Slovakian Jew, Alfred Wetzler, escaped the Nazi concentration camp with his friend Rudolf Vrba in 1944 and smuggled a ground plan of it to Allied forces.

The map was used by Winston Churchill to order the bombings of government buildings in Hungary, killing Nazi officials in charge of deporting Jews to Auschwitz.

It showed details of gas chambers, crematoriums and a label from a Zyklon gas canister inside the camp.

Wetzler was arrested in Slovakia in 1942 by the Nazis and was held in Auschwitz for two years before escaping and hiding under a woodpile for four days until a search for him was called off.
The book, Escape from Hell: The True Story of the Auschwitz Protocol, was originally written in 1963 in Slovakian but only recently translated.

He writes, “It is incredible how tough human life can be, how quickly a person, even with a broken arm, a dislocated foot, a broken head, and bitten by dogs, will do what is asked of him when over him hangs the cudgel waved by the good will of the Reich.”

More about the story will be told later this week...

read the article at

From the Ron Paul Library: "America's Entangling Alliances in the Middle East"

Ron Paul has figured out the Middle East. Let him explain:

"We are forced, by domestic politics here at home, to support Israel at all costs, with billions of dollars of aid, sophisticated weapons, and a guarantee that America will do whatever is necessary for Israel’s security.

Political pressure compels us to support Israel..."

U.S. support for Israel is not motivated by desire to support the only democracy in the Middle East, not to mention our most loyal ally. No, he says. It's just the political pressure.

Another Ron Paul foreign policy howler

Another funny from the "Ron Paul Library". This speech, which he gave on the floor of the House on November 19, 2004, is classic. Ron Paul rose to oppose taking any action to prevent the genocide in Darfur because, as he says, "we do not know and cannot understand the complexities of the civil war in Sudan..." Comically, he then goes on to demonstrate just how little he does know by stating:
"Supporters of our intervention in Sudan argue that this is a clear-cut case of Sudan’s Christian minority being oppressed and massacred by the Arab majority in the Darfur region. It is interesting that the CIA’s World Factbook states that Sudan’s Christians, who make up five percent of the population, are concentrated in the south of the country. Darfur is a region in the mid-western part of Sudan. So I wonder about this very simplistic characterization of the conflict."
I wonder about it also, especially because anyone with any knowledge at all about Darfur understands that all the parties involved: the residents of Darfur, the Janjaweed, and the Khartoum regime are all Muslim.

Dr. Paul goes on to say that he knows what motivates those who oppose the Darfur genocide. Greed. That's right, he said:
Why does it always seem that when we hear urgent clamor for the United States to intervene, oil or some other valuable commodity just happens to be present?

More from the Ron Paul Library: opposing violence against Israel "endorses a foreign policy that I do not endorse"

Here's what Dr. Paul said on the floor of the House of Representatives on Dec. 5, 2001:

Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to the resolution and not, obviously, because it condemns violence. We all condemn the violence. But there is more to this resolution than just condemning the violence. I have a problem with most resolutions like this because it endorses a foreign policy that I do not endorse, and it does that by putting on unecessary demands. So the demands part of this resolution is the part that I object to, not the condemnation of violence. By doing this, we serve to antagonize.

read it here: Ron Paul Library, Ongoing Violence in Israel and Palestine

Here's the resolution he was so strongly opposed to (from the House of Representatives website):

H.Con.Res. 280—Expressing solidarity with Israel in the fight against terrorism (Hyde)
Order of Business: The resolution is scheduled to be considered on Wednesday, December
5th, under a motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill.
Summary: H.Con.Res. 280 would resolve that Congress:
· “condemns the vicious terrorist murders of 26 civilians in Israel within 14 hours
during December 1–2, 2001, and extends its deepest sympathies to the Israeli nation
and to the families of the victims;”
· “expresses outrage at the ongoing Palestinian terrorist campaign and insists that the
Palestinian Authority take all steps necessary to end it;”
· “demands, specifically, that the Palestinian Authority take action immediately to:
--destroy the infrastructure of Palestinian terrorist groups
--pursue and arrest terrorists whose incarceration has been called for by Israel;
--either prosecute such terrorists, provide convicted terrorists with the stiffest
possible punishment, and ensure that those convicted remain in custody for
the full duration of their sentences; OR render all arrested terrorists to the
Government of Israel for prosecution;”
· urges the President to suspend all relations with Yasir Arafat and the Palestinian
Authority if they fail to take the actions described above;
· “further urges the President to insist that all countries harboring, materially supporting,
or acquiescing in the private support of Palestinian terrorist groups, end all such
support, dismantle the infrastructure of such groups, and bring all terrorists within its
borders to justice;” and
· “expresses the solidarity of the United States with Israel in our common struggle
against the scourge of terrorism.”
Additional Background: The resolution would also point out that in addition to the 26
civilians killed by Palestinian terrorist attacks on the first two days of December, 175 Israelis
were wounded. Proportionally, these figures would be the equivalent of 1200 deaths and
8000 wounded in the United States.
Cost to Taxpayers: The resolution would authorize no expenditure.

Ron Paul: what the Holocaust teaches us

What lessons does Ron Paul take from the Holocaust and attempts to keep its memory alive? I had no idea until I stumbled upon the below-posted document from the "Ron Paul Library". (Is Ron Paul the only presidential candidate in history to have a library BEFORE being President? Quite a distinction! )

Here's what he learned: 1) Gun control is bad; 2) co-operation between business and government is bad; and 3) attempts to remember the Holocaust are part of some nefarious conspiracy. (I also learned that Dr. Paul has invented a new word " abhorration". )

Read it here:
Ron Paul Library, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Authorization Act:

or just check it out here:
  • Mr. Chairman, I rise today in hesitant opposition to H.R. 4115, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Authorization Act. We as vigilant Americans must never forget the horrific lessons of the past and those attendant consequences of corporatism, fascism, and tyrannical government; that is, governmental deprivation of individual rights. A government which operates beyond its proper limits of preserving liberty never bodes well for individual rights to life, liberty and property. Particularly, Adolph Hitler's tyrannical regime is most indicative of the necessary consequences of a government dominated by so-called `government-business' partnerships, gun-confiscation schemes, protectionism, and abandonment of speech and religious freedom in the name of `compelling government interests.'
  • Ironically, this measure's language permanently authorizes the appropriation of such sums as may be necessary for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; a purpose which propels our very own federal government beyond its constitutionally enumerated limits. This nation's founders were careful to limit the scope of our federal government to those enumerated powers within Article One, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. These limits were further instilled within the bill of rights' tenth amendment which reserves to States and private parties those powers not specifically given to the federal government.
  • Evidence that such private contributions can properly memorialize this most important historical abhorration can be found given that this museum receives approximately $20 million in private donations annually.
  • Mr. Chairman, while I agree it is most important to remember and memorialize with a heavy heart the consequences of tyrannical governments operating beyond their proper limits, ignoring our own government's limits of power and, thus, choosing a means incompatible with its ends to do so must not be tolerated. Hence, I must oppose H.R. 4115.

What's wrong with the springs of Ein Gedi?

The stream flows again... but with raw sewage | Jerusalem Post

Driving south along the Dead Sea on Route 90, from Jericho to Ein Gedi, one sees awe-inspiring, thundering waterfalls flowing from the desert plateau to the right, out of a canyon a road sign identifies as Nahal Kidron. The stream then runs strongly toward the salt sea.

But a few hundred meters from the road, the flow's stench becomes overwhelming. Its water is brown, and its banks littered with refuse.

The Gihon Spring's waters used to flow down the Kidron Valley, until they were diverted to provide water to local communities. Nahal Kidron is flowing again, but this time... with raw sewage.

And Jerusalem is once again central to a key environmental issue with serious political ramifications.

The beautiful wadi (desert stream) runs from east Jerusalem, where it cuts past the walls of the Old City (and the appropriately named "Dung Gate") and the Mount of Olives, becomes a deep canyon as it whirls eastward through the Judean Desert plateau, passes several Arab localities, and finally gushes into the Dead Sea.

But the stream is no longer beautiful, as every single drop of its 28,000 cubic meters (280 million liters) per day is comprised of sewage from Israeli and Palestinian urban areas. The spectacular waterfalls and the rock faces at its end are blackened by the brownish, scum-filled flow.

And a few dozen kilometers to the south, tourists bathe in a Dead Sea revered for its skin-enhancing properties.

Eighty-five percent of that sewage comes from east Jerusalem, according to the Jerusalem Wastewater and Purification Enterprises, a subsidiary of the Gihon Company (Jerusalem's water company), including Arab and Jewish neighborhoods on the far side of the Green Line, such as East Talpiot and Har Homa.

The remaining 15% originates from Bethlehem and Beit Sahur, both cities administered by the Palestinian Authority.

And since Israel has annexed east Jerusalem, it is responsible for treating wastewater from this area. A joint Israeli-Palestinian solution has been sought for years, but now Israel is looking for unilateral solutions.

read the rest

Methodists bordering on anti-Semitism

The ADL reacts to the New England Methodist call for anti-Israel divestment | Ynetnews


Foxman furiously condemned recommendations made by the New England branch of the Methodist Church for its members to divest "from twenty companies identified as supporting the Israeli occupation in Palestine."

The recommendations were made by a "task force" of clergy and church members set up to implement a "resolution to end the Israeli occupation," a statement by the Church added.

Foxman, who is currently in Israel, said it was "sad that a religious institution whose job should be to reconcile continues to be biased and bigoted."

He added that in the past two years, "there has been a war perpetrated by Hizbullah, katyushas rockets, and terrorist acts. Now Hamas, that does not recognize Israel's right to exist and perpetrated violence, has gotten itself elected, and is in control of a million and a half Palestinians. And the Methodists are still there to teach Israel a lesson."

"My reaction is one of outrage to this biased decision, which borders on anti-Semitism. The facts show that any decent fair-minded, spiritual, godly person would not come to a conclusion to boycott the victim, the one that has been praying for peace, suing for peace, hoping for peace. To make Israel the target is just outrageous," Foxman added.

In the Church's statement, William P. Aldrich, chairperson of the 'Divestment Task Force,' was quoted as saying: "Selective divestment is consistent with the United Methodist commitment to a just and sustainable peace for all the people of the Middle East." He added that the divestment campaign "offers a tangible way of working toward this goal."

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Trove of F.B.I. Files on Lawyers Guild Shows Scope of Secret Surveillance

read it here: New York Times

Japan Says U.S. Sex Slave Resolution Won't Harm Ties

Here's more complete coverage directly from New York Times:

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan said on Wednesday that its ties with Washington would not be shaken by a U.S. Congressional move to seek an apology for forcing women to serve as sex slaves during World War Two.

The non-binding resolution introduced by Japanese-American lawmaker Mike Honda was approved 39 to 2 by the House of Representatives' International Relations Committee on Tuesday and is expected to pass to the full house.

"Japan-U.S. ties are unshakable. That will not change in the future," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki told a news conference.

Shiozaki said Japan would not comment on proceedings in another country's legislature, a stock response apparently aimed at keeping a lid on emotions over the sensitive issue.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe caused an uproar in March when he said there was no proof that the government or the military had forced thousands of women, mostly Asian, into sexual servitude.

He has since apologized to the "comfort women," as the sex slaves are euphemistically known in Japan, and reiterated that he stood by a 1993 government statement acknowledging official involvement in the management of the brothels.

"The prime minister explained his views when he visited the United States in April," Shiozaki said, referring to Abe's apology at a summit with U.S. President George W. Bush.


The House committee's chairman, Tom Lantos, called Japan one of the United States' "closest partners in the world."

But he criticized persistent attempts by some conservative Japanese politicians to deny official involvement.

"The continued efforts by some in Japan to distort history and play a game of blame-the-victim are also highly disturbing," Lantos said during the committee's debate.

A group of Japanese lawmakers and commentators placed an advertisement in the Washington Post this month, stating that the women had worked as licensed prostitutes -- a stance Lantos termed "a ludicrous assertion totally counter to the facts."

A group of Japanese activists supporting former sex slaves welcomed the U.S. resolution.

"The women ... have been constantly attacked and abused by the repeated denial from ministers, high ranking officials and professors," the group said in a statement.

Historians say thousands of women -- by one estimate as many as 200,000 -- were taken to frontline brothels to provide sex for Japanese soldiers.

The Congressional panel's passage of the resolution comes at a time when some analysts see a possible rift between Tokyo and Washington over their North Korea policy following last week's surprise visit to Pyongyang by a top U.S. envoy.

Signs of progress towards getting North Korea to abandon its nuclear arms program have put pressure on Japan to change its stern stance toward Pyongyang.

But Abe has said Tokyo would not provide aid to the North without progress in a dispute over Japanese citizens kidnapped decades ago by Pyongyang's agents.

Japan Plays for Time in Sex Slavery Standoff

from History News Network

Source: NYT (6-27-07)

Even before a United States Congressional panel overwhelmingly passed a resolution on Tuesday urging Japan to apologize for its wartime sex slavery, the Japanese government said it would have no comment.

But the vote of 39 to 2 by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs has set the stage for an adoption by the full House of Representatives next month, at which point Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will face pressure to respond in some way or another.

Already Mr. Abe, who initially said Japan would not apologize even if the resolution passed, has quieted his defiance in a bid to minimize its impact. In a news conference before the vote, Mr. Abe said he had no comment on the resolution, saying only that ties between Japan and the United States were “unshakable.”

Nick Cohen on "the unholy alliance that damns Rushdie"

This is a great piece by Nick Cohen on Britain asking whether or not to appease Islamist terror:

On 23 June 2005, Sir Derek Plumbly, the British ambassador to Egypt, wrote to the Foreign Office's political director, John Sawers, about his colleagues' determination to 'engage' with the radical Islamists in the Muslim Brotherhood. Its motto is: 'Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Koran is our constitution. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.' Hassan al-Banna, its founder, was an admirer of European fascism and its most terrible ideologist, Syed Qutb, inspired the wave of Sunni terror that is sweeping the world.

Given that the brotherhood's leaders came from the far right and upheld an explicit far-right programme, Sir Derek wondered if these were the kind of chaps the FO should be doing business with. In a letter leaked to the New Statesman, he said that he detected a 'tendency for us to be drawn towards engagement for its own sake; to confuse "engaging with the Islamic world" with "engaging with Islamism"; and to play down the very real downsides for us in terms of the Islamists' likely foreign and social policies, should they actually achieve power in countries such as Egypt'.

What was Britain hoping to achieve? How did a country under a left-of-centre government expect to influence religious rightists? Did it hope that a conversation with Foreign Office ministers would persuade them to repent and become converts to the noble cause of the emancipation of women? Would an invitation to tea with a high commissioner be enough to shake them out of their hatred of homosexuals, Jews, free thinkers, liberals and secularists?

Get real, said Sir Derek: 'I suspect that there will be relatively few contexts in which we are able significantly to influence the Islamists' agenda.' Plumbly lost the power struggle against the pro-brotherhood faction in the Foreign Office, but the questions he raised then remain pertinent now, as the disgraceful reaction to Salman Rushdie's knighthood shows. Across the political spectrum, the ignorant and the terrified are arguing that if only Britain didn't provoke the zealots in Pakistan and Iran - and, indeed, in Sparkbrook and Tower Hamlets - by defending liberal values and honouring a great writer, their fury would pass and we would be safe.

In theory, they may have a case. We all appease in our daily lives and make concessions in order to get concessions in return. In practice, the Labour government has tested appeasement to destruction and, thankfully, turned back to principled politics

If you haven't read The Islamist, Ed Husain's memoir of his life on the religious right, it is worth doing so because he uses his inside knowledge to describe how Labour placated reactionaries who hated every progressive principle the centre-left holds. To take one of many examples, Husain tells how his journey into the wilds began when he joined the east London mosque, which was controlled by Jamat-e-Islami, the Muslim Brotherhood's south Asian sister organisation. After his disillusionment with far-right politics, he returned to the mosque bookshop and found Qutb's work on sale: '... with chapter headings such as "The virtues of killing a non-believer" and ideas such as "attacking the non-believers in their territories is a collective and individual duty". Just as I had done as a 16-year-old, hundreds of young Muslims are buying these books from Islamist mosques in Britain and imbibing the idea that killing non-believers is not only acceptable but the duty of a good Muslim.'

For all that, the mosque had received public subsidies and an apparent endorsement from Prince Charles. Labour ministers had flattered Jamat and Muslim Brotherhood sympathisers from the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), invited them into Downing Street and put them on policy commissions, even though in Bangladesh, Jamat thugs terrorise Bengali leftists who have every right to expect the support of their European comrades.

Labour's indulging of Jamat and the Muslim Brotherhood is over. Engagement for engagement's sake led nowhere and ministers got nothing in return for going along with the Islamists. The MCB was too willing to blame the 7/7 attacks on Iraq, while its refusal to participate in Holocaust Memorial Day showed that it had no commitment to either multiculturalism or anti-fascism. In the end, Tony Blair, Ruth Kelly and Tony McNulty at the Home Office shrugged their shoulders and walked away. Government policy is now to support British Muslims who uphold liberal values and oppose those who do not. Rushdie's knighthood was a sign of the changing mood. Labour politicians might have tried to impose a veto a few years ago; instead, they said: 'Are we going to allow British policy to be decided by dictatorial bigots, who want to inflame religious passion to divert attention from their own corruption?'

There is only one possible answer to that question and it remains astonishing how many people who profess liberal sympathies refuse to grasp it. Watch the discussion about Rushdie on last week's Question Time on the BBC website. You will see Shirley Williams, the representative of the Lib Dems and member of the great and the good, fail to offer a word of protest against men who would murder authors. All she does is condemn the government for honouring a novelist, until Peter Hitchens, a Mail on Sunday columnist who is usually dismissed as a spittle-flecked loon, reminds her that she needs to clear her throat with a few words of criticism for his would-be assassins, if only for form's sake.

Labour should stop worrying about the baroness and her kind and relax. If a liberal intelligentsia that is neither liberal nor noticeably intelligent and a Liberal Democrat party that can't stand up for liberalism and democracy want to attack the government, let them. They will pay a price for their moral cowardice one day.

Salman Rushdie and British Backbone

from Middle East Forum

by Daniel Pipes
New York Sun
June 26, 2007

Is the knighting of Salman Rushdie, 60, by the queen of England "a sign of the changing mood" toward British Muslims, as Observer columnist Nick Cohen wrote? Is it "a welcome example of … British backbone," as Islamism specialist Sadanand Dhume described it in the Wall Street Journal?

I think not. Rather, the knighting, announced June 16, was done without heed of its implications.

Most of the uproar against the honor is taking place in Pakistan, as it did in 1988, when Sir Salman's novel, The Satanic Verses, was initially published. "We deplore the decision of the British government to knight him," a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said The lower house of parliament unanimously passed a government-backed resolution calling Rushdie a "blasphemer."

Most extraordinarily, Pakistan's minister of religious affairs, Mohammed Ijaz ul-Haq, endorsed suicide bombing against the United Kingdom. "If someone exploded a bomb on his body, he would be right to do so unless the British government apologizes and withdraws the ‘sir' title." Ijaz ul-Haq later added that "If someone commits suicide bombing to protect the honor of the Prophet Muhammad, his act is justified."

A trade union offered a $160,000 reward to anyone who beheads Rushdie. Iran's speaker of parliament, Gholamali Haddadadel, threatened that Muslims "will not leave this imprudent and shameless act without response."

Islamists demonstrate in Pakistan.

Such reactions from on-high spurred Islamists to the streets in many cities, including London's, burning effigies of Rushdie and Queen Elizabeth and chanting slogans such as "Death to Rushdie! Death to the queen!"

Fortunately, some Muslims decried these reactions. Canadian writer Irshad Manji noted that the Pakistani government had nothing to say about "assaults on fellow believers" in Kabul and Baghdad, where Islamist terrorism killed more than 100 Muslims. "I am offended that amid the internecine carnage, a professed atheist named Salman Rushdie tops the to-do list," she wrote.

These Islamist threats extend a drama begun on Valentine's Day, 1989 when Ayatollah Khomeini issued his death edict against Rushdie, stating that "the author of the book entitled The Satanic Verses – which has been compiled, printed, and published in opposition to Islam, the Prophet, and the Qur'an and all those involved in its publication who were aware of its content, are sentenced to death. I call on all zealous Muslims to execute them quickly."

That very day, I went on television and predicted that the novelist would never escape the edict. He, however, experimented with appeasement in 1990 and with self-delusion since 1998, when the Iranian foreign minister declared his government no longer intent on murdering him. Rushdie wishfully deemed this "a breakthrough," concluding that the Khomeini edict "will be left to wither on the vine."

I warned Rushdie in 1998 against his giddy insistence on being in the clear. For one, the edict remained in place; Iranian leaders do not believe themselves competent to undo it (a point reiterated by an ayatollah, Ahmad Khatami, just the other day). For another, freelancers around the globe could still nominate themselves to fulfill Khomeini's call to action.

But Rushdie and his friends ignored these apprehensions. Christopher Hitchens, for example, thought Rushdie had returned to normal life. That became conventional wisdom; such insouciance and naïveté – rather than "backbone" – best explains awarding the knighthood.

I welcome the knighting because, for all his political mistakes, Rushdie is indeed a fine novelist. I wish I could agree with Dhume that this recognition of him suggests "the pendulum has begun to swing" in Britain against appeasing radical Islam.

But I cannot. Instead, I draw two conclusions: First, Rushdie should plan around the fact of Khomeini's edict being permanent, to expire only when he does. Second, the British government should take seriously the official Pakistani threat of suicide terrorism, which amounts to a declaration of war and an operational endorsement. So far, it has not done that.

Other than an ambassadorial statement of "deep concern," Whitehall insists that the minister's threat will not harm a "very good relationship" with Pakistan. It has even indicated that Ijaz ul-Haq is welcome in Britain if on a private visit. (Are suicide bombers also welcome, so long as they are not guests of the government?) Until the Pakistani authorities retract and apologize for Ijaz ul-Haq's outrageous statement, London must not conduct business-as-usual with Islamabad.

Now that would constitute "British backbone."

Mr. Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, is author of the 1990 book, The Rushdie Affair.

Eichmann's Phony Passport Found in Argentina (update w/ photo)


The Holocaust Museum in Buenos Aires has obtained a recently discovered passport used by Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann when he entered Argentina under a false name in 1950.

The passport, issued by the International Committee of the Red Cross in the name of Riccardo Klement, was unearthed in May by a federal judge while going through old files. The document was included in a 1960 petition by Eichmann's wife, Veronica, for a court to investigate his disappearance. In the filing, she also disclosed Klement's true identity.

When she filed the petition, Veronica Eichmann didn't know her husband had been abducted by agents of Israel's Mossad secret service.

``This is the first document of a Nazi criminal that we have,'' said Graciela Jinich, 57, executive director of the Holocaust Museum in central Buenos Aires, which received the passport from Judge Maria Servini de Cubria on May 23.

A facsimile of the passport will be on view at the museum starting tomorrow.

The International Committee of the Red Cross's office in Buenos Aires said the document, which it describes as a ``temporary safe-conduct,'' was issued to Eichmann after he presented a false name and identity papers. The organization has never had the means to check the identity of applicants, the office said in an e-mailed statement.

The Red Cross has issued more than half a million such documents since 1945 to enable people without valid travel papers, including former prisoners of war and survivors of concentration camps, start a new life in another country, the statement said.

Mass Murder

The faded beige document bears stamps showing it was issued in Genoa, Italy, on June 1, 1950. On the first of its eight pages there is a Red Cross seal, a fingerprint and a photo of Eichmann wearing round-rimmed spectacles.

According to the passport, Klement was born on May 23, 1913, in Bolzano, Italy. He sailed from Genoa on June 17, 1950, and disembarked in Buenos Aires 27 days later.

The Mossad smuggled Eichmann out of Argentina to Israel, where he was convicted of mass murder and executed on May 31, 1962. Eichmann was head of the Gestapo's Jewish Department, which sent millions to their death in Nazi concentration camps.

Eichmann was one of hundreds of Nazis who fled to Argentina after World War II, said Carlos De Napoli, a 56-year-old historian and author of the book ``Nazis in the South.'' Part of the country's appeal was a large community of Germans who had immigrated since the end of the 19th century, De Napoli said.

Angel of Death

Adolf Hitler had chosen Argentina's sparsely populated Patagonia region as a possible place for exile if he lost a power struggle with Ernst Rohm, head of the Nazi paramilitary group known as the Stormtroopers. In early 1934, Hitler sent aviator Hanna Reitsch to Argentina, where she arranged for 100,000 hectares (240,000 acres) of land to be at his disposal if needed, De Napoli said.

Among those who sought refuge in Argentina after the war was SS officer Erich Priebke, who lived in the mountain resort of Bariloche before being extradited to Italy in 1995. There he was tried and sentenced to life imprisonment for supervising a 1944 massacre of 335 men and boys.

Josef Mengele, a physician known as the Angel of Death who conducted experiments on inmates of the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland, also fled to Argentina. Mengele entered the country on June 20, 1949, using the name Gregor Helmut. He later lived in Paraguay and Brazil, where he died in 1979.

``Some of the Nazis entered the country with fake names on Red Cross passports, others paid for the right to enter,'' De Napoli said. ``There are still many Nazis in Argentine streets, it's impossible to calculate how many,'' he added.

Like other governments at the time, Argentina invited German scientists to immigrate and continue their research. Friedrich Bergius, a joint winner of the 1931 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, was among those who went to Argentina.

The Holocaust Museum, founded in 1994, has a permanent exhibition of photos, books, newspaper clippings and other objects, many donated by Holocaust survivors. Argentina has Latin America's largest Jewish population.

Outside the building, concrete posts prevent vehicles from reaching the sidewalk. The security measure is taken at most Jewish associations, synagogues and schools in Buenos Aires after the bombings of the Israeli Embassy and the city's main Jewish community center in the 1990s that killed a total of 107 people.

A facsimile of the false Eichmann passport will be on view at the Holocaust Museum, Montevideo 919, Ciudad de Buenos Aires starting tomorrow. Information: +54-11-4811-3588 or .

Zyklon B on the US Border

Alex Cockburn has a very interesting column in the July 9, 2007 Nation recounting a bit of history that I found totally unfamiliar and incredibly interesting. The piece is only available online by subscription. Here's an excerpt. (The first sentence is an eye-catcher.)

Zyklon B arrived in El Paso in the 1920s courtesy of the US government. In 1929, for example, a Public Health Service officer, J.R. Hurley, ordered $25 worth of the material--hydrocyanic acid in pellet form--as a fumigating agent for use at the El Paso delousing station, where Mexicans crossed the border from Juárez. Zyklon, developed by Degesch (short for the German vermin-combating corporation), was made in varying strengths, with Zyklon C, D and E representing gradations in potency and price. As Raul Hilberg describes it in The Destruction of the European Jews, "strength E was required for the eradication of specially resistant vermin, such as cockroaches, or for gassings in wooden barracks. The 'normal' preparation, D, was used to exterminate lice, mice, or rats in large, well-built structures containing furniture. Human organisms in gas chambers were killed with Zyklon B." In 1929 Degesch divided the Zyklon market with an American corporation, Cyanamid, so Hurley likely got his shipment from the latter.

As David Dorado Romo describes it in his marvelous Ringside Seat to a Revolution: An Underground History of El Paso and Juárez: 1893-1923 (Cinco Puntos Press, El Paso), Zyklon B became available in the United States when, in the early 1920s, fears of alien infection were being inflamed by the alarums of the eugenicists, most of them political "progressives." In 1917 Congress passed, and President Wilson--an ardent eugenicist and pro-sterilizer--signed, the Immigration Act. The Public Health Service simultaneously published its Manual for the Physical Inspection of Aliens.

The manual had its list of excludables from the US of A, a ripe representation of the obsessions of the eugenicists: "imbeciles, idiots, feeble-minded persons, persons of constitutional psychopathic inferiority [homosexuals], vagrants, physical defectives...anarchists, persons afflicted with loathsome or dangerous contagious diseases...all aliens over 16 who cannot read." In that same year Public Health Service agents "bathed and deloused" 127,123 Mexicans at the bridge between Juárez and El Paso.

The mayor of El Paso at the time, Tom Lea Sr., represented, in Romo's words, "the new type of Anglo politician in the 'Progressive Era.'" For Lea, "progressive" meant a Giuliani-style cleanup of the city. He had a visceral fear of contamination and, so his son later disclosed, wore silk underwear because his friend, one Doc Kluttz, had told him typhus lice don't stick to silk. His loins thus protected, Lea battered the US government with demands for a quarantine camp on the border where the Feds could protect El Paso from typhus by holding all immigrants for fourteen days. Health officer B.J. Lloyd thought this outlandish, telling the surgeon general that typhus fever "is not now and probably never will be, a serious menace to our civilian population."

Lea sent his health cops into the city's Mexican quarter, forcing inhabitants suspected of harboring lice to take kerosene and vinegar baths and have their heads shaved and clothes incinerated. After barging into 5,000 rooms, inspectors found only two cases of typhus, one of rheumatism, one of TB and one of chicken pox.


The delousing operations provoked fury and resistance among Mexicans still boiling with indignation after a lethal gasoline blaze in the city jail some months earlier. As part of Mayor Lea's citywide disinfection campaign, prisoners' clothes were dumped in a bath filled with a mixture of gasoline, creosote and formaldehyde. Then the prisoners were forced, naked, into a second bath filled with "a bucket of gasoline, a bucket of coal oil and a bucket of vinegar." On the afternoon of March 5, 1916, someone struck a match. The jail went up like a torch. The Herald reported that about fifty "naked prisoners from whose bodies the fumes of gasoline were arising" caught fire. Twenty-seven died. In late January 1917, 200 Mexican women rebelled at the border, prompting a riot and putting to flight police and troops on both sides.

Now, Zyklon B is fatal when absorbed through the skin in concentrations of more than fifty parts per million. How many Mexicans, many crossing daily, suffered agonies or died after putting on those poisoned garments? Through oral histories, Romo has documented cancers, birth defects and deaths that he estimates could go into the tens of thousands and yet, as he told a reporter, "This is a huge black hole in history."

The use of Zyklon B on the US-Mexico border was a matter of interest to the firm of Degesch. In 1938 Dr. Gerhard Peters wrote an article in a German pest science journal, Anzeiger für Schädlingskunde, which called for its use in German Desinfektionskammern and featured photos of El Paso's delousing chambers. Peters went on to become the managing director of Degesch, which supplied Zyklon B to the Nazi death camps. He was tried and convicted at Nuremberg. (In 1955, he was retried and found not guilty.)

In the United States, the eugenicists rolled on to their great triumph, the Immigration Restriction Act of 1924, much admired by Hitler, which would doom millions in Europe to their final rendezvous with Zyklon B twenty years later. By the late 1940s, the eugenicists were mostly discredited, but the Restriction Act, that monument to racism, bad science and do-gooders, stayed on the books unchanged for forty years.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

BBC Employs Hamas Terrorist

read it at little green footballs

Updike takes apart Amity Shlaes' revisionist history

Laissez-faire Is More: Books: The New Yorker

Professional Protester, Jihadi-style: rage-boy

read it here

(this is really quite funny)

Finkelstein was denied tenure because he's a sexist ass

This comes as no shock. Anyone who jokes maliciously, without real humor, about the Holocaust, as Finkelstein does, has a demonstrated record of intemperate, hate-inspired speech. The fact that he speaks so harshly to subordinates in the workplace is entirely predictable. Unprofessional behavior is his stock in trade.

The more you read about Finkelstein, the more you listen to him, the worse the aftertaste. There's just something wrong with the guy--something unreasonable and angry.

read it here at YID With LID

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Jeff Weintraub: "Nobody saw it coming" (Condoleezza Rice)

A number of people have noticed this little gem by George Will from a pundit roundtable on the ABC TV show "This Week with George Stephanopoulos":
When, against the urgings of the Israelis, we pressed for the elections that overthrew Fatah, who we were backing and put in Hamas, Condoleezza Rice said nobody saw it coming. Those four words are the epitaph of this administration.
Too true. Other people may see disasters coming up, but they never do.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Japan's ruling party disputes 'Rape of Nanking' death toll

from the International Herald Tribune:

A group of about 100 lawmakers from Japan's ruling party claimed Tuesday that after a monthslong review they have determined the number of people killed by Japanese troops during the infamous "Rape of Nanking" has been grossly inflated.

Nariaki Nakayama, head of the group created to study World War II historical issues and education, said documents from the Japanese government's archives indicated some 20,000 people were killed — about one-tenth of the more commonly cited figure of from 150,000-200,000 — in the 1937 attack. China says as many as 300,000 people were killed.

"We conclude that the death toll in the Nanking advance was nothing more or less than the death toll that would be expected in a normal battle," Nakayama told a news conference.


Toru Toida, another member of the group, demanded that photos portraying the Japanese military in a negative light be removed from Chinese war memorials.

"We are absolutely positive that there was no massacre in Nanking," Toida said.


Nanjing suffered a rampage of murder, rape and looting by Japanese troops in 1937 that became known as "The Rape of Nanking," using the name by which the city was known in the West at that time.

Historians generally agree the Japanese army slaughtered at least 150,000 civilians and raped tens of thousands of women.

Nakayama's group is right of center within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, but many Japanese conservatives are disgruntled over what they claim are exaggerated stories of Japanese brutality during World War II.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Glenn Beck wouldn't want a Jewish president...

Media Matters - Beck wouldn't vote for Lieberman for president "because of the way the Middle East would use it"

On the May 10 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, CNN host Glenn Beck said that he "wouldn't vote for [Sen.] Joe Lieberman [I-CT] as president ... because of the way the Middle East would use it," but also asserted, "That's not saying the same thing as I wouldn't vote for a Jew for president." He did not explain the distinction he drew between asserting that he would not vote for Lieberman, who is Jewish, and asserting that he wouldn't vote for any Jew for president. He stated that although he believes Lieberman "knows how to fight this war," and "even if I didn't disagree with him on so many social issues," he would refrain from voting for him because of the "complications it would add in this country or on the planet right now."

From the May 10 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program:


BECK: Now, I have said on this program, "I would not vote for Joe Lieberman as president of the United States." I think Joe Lieberman knows how to fight this war. I think Joe Lieberman really gets it. However, even if I didn't disagree with him on so many social issues, I wouldn't vote for Joe Lieberman at this time because of the complications it would add in this country or on the planet right now because of the way the Middle East would use it. That's not saying the same thing as I wouldn't vote for a Jew for president.

( isn't?

Fatah's Torture Chamber

read it here: ''Hamas Opens Doors of Notorious Prison: A Visit to Fatah's Torture Chamber'' -- SPIEGEL ONLINE

Where is the outrage over Gaza?

from CAMERA:

Still, the Silence

When gunmen start throwing one another off of rooftops, most people would recoil in horror and offer some word of criticism for those responsible. Most people would have no problem stating explicitly that it is wrong to murder men in front of their wives and children. Most people would also say, without much prodding, that cutting the legs off of the corpses of your political opponents in the street is a bad thing. Not only does such behavior make people think poorly of you, it is wrong. It is disgraceful.

Nevertheless, there is one group of people in the United States who did not feel compelled to comment on this behavior as it took place in the Gaza Strip last week. The leaders and peace activists of mainline Protestant churches in the U.S. who have been ardent supporters of the cause of Palestinian nationalism and vocal critics of Israeli policy, have said little if anything about the violence that resulted in Hamas’s brutal takeover of the Gaza Strip during the second week of June.

Churches that have been quick to blame Israel had a frog stuck in their collective throats when three children of a Palestinian Authority official were murdered outside their school in late November 2006. These same churches remained silent when the violence began again in earnest on June 11 and said nothing when Hamas claimed victory on June 14. Instead of speaking about the violence on their own, they have for the most part, relied on statements issued by Christian leaders in Jerusalem and by the the World Council of Churches to serve as their "prophetic witness."

This might be tolerable if the statements from the Christian leaders in Jerusalem and from the WCC were authentic and truthful responses to Hamas's brutal takeover of the Gaza Strip, but predictably, the message from both groups is, in effect, "It's Israel's fault."

In their statement, Christian leaders in Jerusalem called on Hamas and Fatah to stop the “domestic fighting” so that they can address the real problem facing the Palestinian people – the occupation. Last week, links to this statement on denominational websites and blogs served as a fig leaf (Gen. 3:7) to cover the silence of mainline churches over the violence in the Gaza Strip.

Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia, general secretary of the World Council of Churches barely mentioned the violence in the Gaza Strip in his speech to an international peace conference in Amman, Jordan. "The chair beside you may be empty because our conferees from Gaza could not come," Kobia told those in attendence, failing to mention that Christians in the Gaza Strip are essentially under siege.

In a press release issued by the WCC, the organization stated the "the occupation hurts human dignity on both sides." The same could be said about Palestinian terrorism, but for some reason the WCC's prophetic imagination could not make it up that hill.

For some reason, the World Council of Churches, the Christian leaders in Jerusalem, and their enablers in the U.S. seem unable to acknowledge one salient fact. The intra-Palestinian violence and bloodshed exploded in the Gaza Strip after Israel withdrew in August 2005.

Rev. Cally Rogers-Witte, Executive Minister of UCC Wider Church Ministries and co-executive of Global Ministries, did offer one interesting exception to the general silence from mainline churches about the violence in the Gaza Strip. Rogers-Witte prefaced the statement from Christian leaders in Jerusalem with an acknowledgement of the “terrible suffering and the problems” in the Gaza Strip, but also asserted that they were “exacerbated by the lack of a negotiated peace with Israel.” While it’s nice to see that Witte is honest enough not to blame the “occupation” for Palestinian-on-Palestinian violence in the Gaza Strip, she still fails to explain how the lack of a treaty with Israel (which Arafat scuttled in 2000 and 2001) causes Palestinians to shoot each other and throw one another off of rooftops.

At what point will mainline churches, and the institutions they support, stop viewing Palestinian suffering exclusively through a lens of Israeli misdeeds and call on Palestinian leaders to guard against the sin crouching at the door? When will mainline churches, and the institutions they support acknowledge moral agency (and failure) on the part of Palestinian leaders?

Condemning Palestinian leaders for the violence in the Gaza Strip should have been a no-brainer for the leaders and peace activists in so-called progressive churches in the U.S. By condemning Palestinian leaders for the bloodshed in the Gaza Strip, Christians who have been so quick to blame Israel for the suffering in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip could have easily inoculated themselves against persistent charges of bias against Israel and its leaders. Instead, they said nothing about the violence in the Gaza Strip as it was happening and waited to sing along with the choir once it found the "blame Israel" hymn it was looking for.

This episode is not part of any “secret history.” It’s part of a larger pattern well-known to anyone with eyes to see. Mainstream Jewish groups in the U.S. have long been critical of the one-sided narrative offered by mainline churches in the U.S.

They condemned the Presbyterian Church (USA) in 2004 when its General Assembly voted to initiate a process of phased selective divestment from companies that did business with Israel’s military. They condemned the general synods of the United Church of Christ and the Disciples of Christ (the Disciples) in 2005 when they passed resolutions telling Israel to take down the security barrier – without asking the Palestinians to stop the terror attacks that prompted its construction.

More recently, the Anti-Defamation League condemned the leaders of the UCC and the Disciples for failing to acknowledge that Israelis have been killed by Arab violence in the years since the Six Day War in a statement issued by the two denominations on June 5. (The way these two denominations talked about the 40th anniversary of the Six Day War, the worst things that happened in Israel since 1967 is ongoing debate about what to do in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and mandatory military service. The suicide bombings, the sniper attacks, the Yom Kippur War? Not even mentioned.)

The sad reality is this: Mainline Protestant leaders have never found Arab animosity toward Israel all that remarkable. They sometimes offer vague calls affirming Israel’s right to exist, but they never explain why such calls are necessary. Instead, they continually affirm Palestinian nationalism, all in the name of ending Palestinian suffering and humiliation, which is nearly always portrayed as the result of Israeli actions. The empirical truth is that progressive church institutions remain largely silent about Palestinian suffering that cannot be blamed on the Israelis. This has been the case for years, decades.

Take a look at the statements about the Arab-Israeli conflict issued by churches and para-church institutions in the U.S. and you will see that the prophetic voice of the progressive church community in the U.S. is not triggered by Arab enmity and violence, but by Israeli actions.

For example, Churches for Middle East Peace, a group that complained in February about Israeli excavating near the Mughrabi Gate in the Old City. The CMEP, however, has offered little if any condemnation of Palestinians murdering each other in the street, or of Fatah and Hamas "militants" throwing one another off roofs in the Gaza Strip. Instead, its website highlights its efforts to lobby the U.S. Senate to pass a resolution calling on the Bush Administration to engage in a “robust diplomatic effort” to bring peace between Israel and its adversaries.

Mainline churches and the institutions they support put more emphasis on the 40th Anniversary of the Six Day War than they did the ongoing violence in the Gaza Strip. A forty-year-old Israeli victory against Arab leaders and armies intent on destroying the Jewish state evokes greater objection from these churches than Palestinian children being murdered outside their school, husbands being murdered in front of their families, and corpses being mutilated.

Mainline silence about Arab hostiltity toward Israel -- and its impact on Arab societies -- is nothing new.

In July 1967, the Christian Century published a two-part essay by A. Roy Eckhardt and Alice Eckhardt, prominent commentators on Christian-Jewish relations. The essay titled "Again, The Silence," condemned the failure of church institutions in the U.S. to speak forcefully about the threat faced by Israel in the weeks before the yet-unnamed Six Day War. For the Eckhardt’s the failure of Christian churches and institutions to name and condemn the annihilationist rhetoric put forth by Arab leaders was similar to the failure of Christian churches in the U.S. to fully acknowledge the horrible violence perpetrated against the Jews in Europe during the 1930s and 40s.

The guilt of the Christian community for its dominant silence amid the nazi slaughterers of the Jewish people has been increasingly confessed within both Catholic and Protestant circles. Yet within the past weeks the extermination of the entire nation of Israel almost occurred, once again there was silence in the churches.

Again the silence?


Still, the silence.


"Austria’s Past Cannot Be Buried With Kurt Waldheim -"

from the Forward:


For two decades, Kurt Waldheim was the most ignominious name associated with modern Austria and a permanent black spot on its international reputation. But even though the former Austrian president and U.N. secretary general, who died last week at age 88, never showed true remorse for lying about his past, he inadvertently turned out to be a blessing for his country.

Waldheim’s 1986 election to the ceremonial post of the federal presidency in a campaign dominated by revelations about his role as a Wehrmacht officer forced Austria to reconsider its Nazi past and take responsibility for the crimes committed by some of its citizens. The postwar myth of Austria as the first victim of Hitler’s aggression was shattered.

The process, however, is not yet finished. Even though Waldheim is gone, Austrians, just like Germans, will have to grapple with the difficult legacy of their parents’ and grandparents’ crimes for years to come.

This “victims thesis” was the political foundation upon which Austria was reconstructed as a stable democracy after 1945. The country’s elites were determined to put behind them the civil strife between left and right that had paralyzed the country in the 1930s and paved the way for the German Anschluss of 1938. They also chose to repress the subsequent events — the mass cheers for Adolf Hitler, the systematic theft of Jewish property, a widespread rush to join the Nazi party and a disproportionate number of Austrians serving as concentration camp guards and fighting in SS or Wehrmacht units involved in war crimes and genocide. Austrians, the official line went, were victims of Nazi aggression, not perpetrators of Nazi crimes.

To underscore that point, tens of thousands of former Nazi party members were quickly rehabilitated and rose to prominence in the country’s political, business and academic life. In contrast, hardly any Jewish refugees were asked to return home, and the restitution offered was limited to a pittance. When children asked their fathers what they had done during the Nazi period, they usually were met by a deafening silence.

Kurt Waldheim followed the same course when he returned home from the front. As he climbed up the political ladder to the post of foreign minister and then rose to global prominence as U.N. head from 1972 to 1981, he never looked back to his time as a junior officer in the Wehrmacht. In his resume, he mentioned his earlier stint on the eastern front, but he conveniently left out his subsequent posting in the Balkans, where he served on the staff of convicted war criminal Alexander Löhr. It was in Bosnia and Northern Greece where Waldheim must have at least seen and heard of massacres of Yugoslav partisans and mass deportations of Jews. Waldheim’s personal involvement in war crimes was never proven, but as a political leader striving for the highest positions, it would have been his responsibility to speak out.

Instead, Waldheim reacted with shock and anger when reports about his dishonesty emerged during his 1986 presidential run. He painted himself as a victim of a concerted smear campaign driven by his domestic political rivals and a Jewish-Israeli-American conspiracy set on revenge for pro-Arab positions he took as U.N. chief. Faced with a barrage of attacks from the World Jewish Congress and the international media, the presidential campaign turned increasingly xenophobic and antisemitic. To Austria’s disgrace, the tactic of rallying the nation around the flag succeeded as Waldheim was elected with an overwhelming majority.

But Austrians soon woke up from their frenzy with a massive hangover. The sight of a president who was barred from entering the United States and shunned by most democratic countries did not sit well with the country’s self-image of a peaceful “island of the blessed.” A younger generation stood up to challenge not only Waldheim but the whole cult of forgetfulness. The 1988 commemorations of the 50th anniversary of the Anschluss turned into a national exercise in soul-searching and self-criticism. National television was full of programs on the Holocaust and the search for traces of Jewish culture. The school curriculum was rewritten to let young people hear about the crimes of their grandparents. And among historians and other intellectuals, the “victims thesis” was discarded once and for all. When Chancellor Franz Vranitzky stood up in parliament in 1991 to acknowledge Austria’s responsibility for Nazi crimes, his words were widely praised.

Waldheim remained isolated until the end of his six-year term and decided not to run for re-election. When he left office, he had not changed, but the country had. In the subsequent years, the government finally accepted its financial obligations. It set up a fund to give $10,000 to all Jewish refugees and Holocaust survivors and then went on to compensate wartime slave laborers. The final act was the agreement in 2000 for the restitution of Jewish property, a complex process that is still not completed.

Today, the majority of Austrians accept the complicity of their forefathers in Hitler’s wars of aggression and the Holocaust. As the country learned to cope with its past, it became intellectually more open and cosmopolitan, even though the opening of the borders to the east and increasing immigration gave rise to another form of bigotry. And a vocal minority, which is not limited to far-right maverick Jörg Haider and his supporters, still resist that view of history. Some are driven by ideology, others by loyalty to their fathers who served in the Wehrmacht or the SS. They insist that Waldheim was the victim of unfair charges and will privately rail against Jewish vindictiveness.

The debate over Austria’s past still dominates political and intellectual life to a surprisingly large extent. There is hardly a week when the issue does not make it into newspaper headlines. Even though Waldheim is dead, his ghost will not be so easily buried.

Why "vote caging" matters...a lot

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