My name is Fred and I am a gay conservative living in Ottawa. This blog supports limited government, the right of the State of Israel to live in peace and security, and tries to expose the threat to us all from cultural relativism, post-modernism, and radical Islam.
I am also the founder of the Free Thinking Film Society in Ottawa (www.freethinkingfilms.com)
Sekou Jackson is used to the questions: Why does he need to leave a work meeting to pray? Don't black Muslims convert to Islam in jail? Why would you even want to be Muslim?
"It's kind of a double whammy to be African-American and Muslim," said Mr. Jackson, who studies the Navy at the National Academy of Science in Washington. "You're going to be judged."
Mr. Jackson's struggle may have gotten harder when the FBI on Wednesday raided a Detroit-area warehouse used by a Muslim group. The FBI said the group's leader preached hate against the government, trafficked in stolen goods and belonged to a radical group that wants to establish a Muslim state in America. The imam of the group's mosque, a black American named Luqman Ameen Abdullah, was killed in a shootout with agents. The FBI says he resisted arrest and fired a gun.
On Friday, the Masjid Al-Haqq mosque in Detroit, where Mr. Abdullah served as prayer leader, dismissed as "utterly preposterous" the FBI's allegations that Mr. Abdullah was part of a radical Islamic group. Mr. Abdullah was a "recognized and respected member of numerous mainstream Muslim organizations and leadership bodies," the mosque said.
"The slanderous allegations of his being a national leader of a radical Islamic sect is utterly preposterous. ... These allegations are contrary to what we as a community stand for," the mosque said.
Although the FBI was careful to say those arrested in Detroit were not mainstream Muslims, it has accused other black Muslims of similar crimes, most recently in May, when four men were charged with plotting to blow up New York synagogues and shoot down a military plane.
Yet the Muslim faith continues to convert many average black Americans, who say they are attracted by Islam's emphasis on equality, discipline and family.
"The unique history African-Americans have faced, we're primed for accepting Islam," said Mr. Jackson, 31, who grew up in a secular home and converted to Islam when he was about 18.
Gee, why aren't they attracted to Judiasm's emphasis on equality, discipline and family?
When historians look back at the much-touted Copenhagen "climate conference" of December 2009, they may be unable to resist a wry smile at all the last-minute efforts made to keep warmist hysteria at fever pitch.
Inevitably the biggest coverage last week went to Lord Stern's call for us all to save the planet by giving up meat. He presumably means that we should kill off all cows, sheep and pigs, say goodbye to wool and leather, and abandon large tracts of our countryside to brambles and bracken (and the wind turbines his lordship is also keen on).
This coincided with a new book by two New Zealanders, solemnly explaining that a major part of the climate change catastrophe is due to meat-eating pets. A large dog, they claim, is the cause of more greenhouse gas emissions each year than a Toyota Land Cruiser driven 6,000 miles. So goodbye also to dogs and cats.
Then there was the official Australian report, supported by their quaintly named Minister for Climate Change, Penny Wong, calling for a ban on all new buildings anywhere near the sea, lest warming should plunge them below the waves (this in a country 80 per cent of whose people live on the coast).
Finally, as if to confirm that belief in global warming has become a substitute for religion, we had the statement from Lambeth Palace on behalf of all Britain's "faith groups" (led by the Archbishops of Canterbury and Westminster, but also including Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Jains, Zoroastrians and presumably Rastafarians). They called on the governments of the world to ban fossil fuels, thus restricting any further warming of the planet to precisely 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Presumably we shall see wind turbines sprout from every church, mosque and synagogue, to keep all those clerical word-processors churning out yet more "faith-based" advice to the world's politicians.
An official decision to ban women from wearing jeans and pants in West Aceh is stirring uproar in the Indonesian province, amid accusations of violating women’s rights.
"The enforcement of the regulation is an accumulation of the negative views against women," Norma Susanti, Head of the woman and children's division at Aceh Human Rights NGO Coalition, told The Jakarta Post Saturday, October 31.
Officials in West Aceh have forbidden women from wearing jeans and tight pants as of January.
Under the decision, Shari`ah police, tasked with enforcing Islamic law, will shred any offensive clothing and ask women to change the outfit into government-issued skirts.
The West Aceh district has already ordered 7,000 skirts of various sizes.
The Institute for Jewish & Community Research (IJCR) announced the release of The UnCivil University: Intolerance on College Campuses, Revised Edition. The Revised Edition revisits rising levels of campus anti-Semitism and the corrosion of university norms detailed in the first edition.
Released in 2005, The UnCivil University exposed how American Universities had become politicized institutions; where ideological bias trumps good scholarship, protest drowns out reasoned debate, and stakeholders fail to live up to their responsibilities. Within this environment, the twin ideologies of anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism have flourished as a prime example of the systemic ills afflicting the university.
The Revised Edition shows that universities have largely failed to reform. Anti-Israel propagandists continue to target college campuses, and intimidation of Jewish students and faculty go unaddressed. "Jewish and other students are embattled and the university system remains incapable of responding," explains co-author Aryeh Weinberg. "There is no quick fix to the problem and we have to be careful not to let our concern fall victim to short attention spans." The findings of the Revised Edition underscore the need for university stakeholders, including the federal overnment, to fulfill their roles in helping the university reassert its core values.
Based on these findings, IJCR has launched an initiative to address campus anti-Semitism. Initiative Director Kenneth L. Marcus explains, "The federal government is failing in its duty to protect college students from anti-Semitic harassment. We are calling for Congress and the President to act." Marcus, served as Staff Director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (2004-08).
Free copies of The UnCivil University: Revised Edition are available to members of the media for review. Also, a free downloadable executive summary and a link to purchase the book are available at www.UnCivilUniversity.org.
After three days of encounters with America-bashing Pakistanis -- who rejected her contention that the U.S. and Pakistan face a common enemy -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday that "we're not getting through."
Prominent women and tribesmen from the North West Frontier Province delivered the same hostile message that she'd heard the two preceding days from students and journalists: Pakistanis aren't ready to endorse American friendship despite an eight-year-old anti-terrorism alliance between the countries and a multi-billion-dollar new U.S. aid package.
Clinton put her case directly to the public Friday in televised appearances in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, fielding angry questions about the alleged activities of U.S. contractor Blackwater in Pakistan, the tough conditions that came with a $1.5 billion-a-year American aid package and alleged U.S. favoritism toward Pakistan's archenemy, India.
One tribesman bluntly told her: "Your presence in the region is not good for peace."
"We are fighting a war that is imposed on us. It's not our war. It is your war," journalist Asma Shirazi told Clinton during the women's meeting. "You had one 9-11. We are having daily 9-11s in Pakistan."
Amid a rise in anti-Semitic violence and terrorist activity in the country, the US State Department recently spirited nearly 60 Yemini Jews from Yemen and resettled them in the United States, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday.
According to the report, nearly 350 Yeminite Jews lived in the country before the operation. Those who have already moved to the US are likely to be joined by 100 more, while the remaining number will most likely move to Israel.
"If we had not done anything, we feared there would be bloodshed," Gregg Rickman, former State Department Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, told the paper.
In August, Israeli sources confirmed that the overwhelming majority of the final remnant of Yemen's ancient Jewish community was looking to leave the country.
"About 120 of the Yemeni Jews want to move to Israel, 100 want to move to the US," a source told the Jerusalem Post. "And between 20 and 30 want to stay."
Some of the Jews wishing to leave are unable to do so because they are having trouble selling their property, the source said.
An Iraqi immigrant accused of running down his daughter in Arizona with his car because she was becoming "too Westernized" has been arrested in Georgia, authorities said Friday.
Jim Joyner, a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service in Atlanta, said Faleh Almaleki was arrested Thursday when he arrived at Atlanta's airport. He had been sent from the United Kingdom after authorities denied him entrance.
Almaleki, 48, awaits extradition to Arizona and will face two counts of aggravated assault, according to Peoria police.
He is accused of striking and then running over his 20-year-old daughter and a family friend with his Jeep on Oct. 20 as the women were walking across a Peoria parking lot.
Noor Almaleki remains hospitalized in serious condition after undergoing spinal surgery. The friend, Amal Khalaf, is in serious but stable condition, according to family members.
A devout Muslim woman says she slashed her husband's neck with a kitchen knife as he slept because he forced her to eat pork, wear short skirts and drink alcohol in violation of her religious beliefs.
Rabia Sarwar, 37, pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and was freed on $25,000 bail. She told police in a written statement that she was emotionally abused by her husband, Seikh Naseem, and forced to violate her religious beliefs.
"He made me do so many things that are against Islam," she wrote in a statement to police.
"I did all that just to make him happy but inside me there was a war," she continued.
Naseem suffered cuts to his neck, cheek and hand early Wednesday before fighting Sarwar off and dialing 911 from his Staten Island home, authorities said.
"I did my best to cut his throat," Rabia Sarwar wrote. "But the next moment he jumped on me and grabbed me."
Sarwar's attorney, Joe Licitra, said she had previously been treated for depression. Her husband told the New York Post that Sarwar, a native of Pakistan, was having a hard time adjusting to American culture.
"There was no gun pointed to her head to do these things," Licitra told the Post.
Calls to Naseem by The Associated Press went unanswered.
Sarwar's statement to police paints a picture of a frustrated, confused woman angry that her husband of five months was not what he appeared to be during their brief courtship. Naseem went to her family to ask for a bride and she agreed to marry him, she said in her statement.
But after they were wed, she discovered he had previously dated mostly "white" women, had been married before and liked to go out to drink, she wrote. He said he was Pakistani and a devout Muslim, but in New York he claimed he was half-Pakistani and half-Norwegian, as well as a Unitarian Christian, she said.
He often yelled and cursed her family, she said, and one of his favorite writers was Salman Rushdie, author of "The Satanic Verses," which caused violent protests by Muslims in several countries because the book was perceived as an irreverent depiction of the prophet Muhammad.
"He hates Pakistan and he hates Pakistanis then why did he marry a Pakistani girl?" she wrote.
They fought about her leaving, and he threatened to hurt her family, saying they would have to pay him $30,000 or he would sue them and leave them penniless and homeless, she wrote. Her family is in Pakistan.
Militants who control parts of Somalia's capital city are beating women in broad daylight for violating their radical brand of Islamic law, according to local officials and witnesses in Mogadishu.
"Just today, Al-Shabaab dispatched men with whips to the streets around Bakara market and they are flogging any woman who is found not wearing socks," according to a female maize trader at the Mogadishu market, who spoke Thursday.
She did not want to be named for security reasons.
In the past two days, more than 130 people, including women who were not wearing headscarves and men chewing dried khat leaves, have been detained for violating Al-Shabaab's interpretation of sharia, or Islamic law, according to witnesses and officials.
Hooded Al-Shabaab gunmen rounded up 50 women on Wednesday from Mogadishu's Bakara market for not wearing the veil that is required for women under some interpretations of Islamic law, according to the maize trader.
Two years ago, a United Nations scientific panel won the Nobel Peace Prize after concluding that global warming is "unequivocal" and is "very likely" caused by man.
Then came a development unforeseen by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC: Data suggested that Earth's temperature was beginning to drop.
That has reignited debate over what has become scientific consensus: that climate change is due not to nature, but to humans burning fossil fuels. Scientists who don't believe in man-made global warming cite the cooling as evidence for their case. Those who do believe in man-made warming dismiss the cooling as a blip triggered by fleeting changes in ocean currents; they predict greenhouse gases will produce rising temperatures again soon.
The reality is more complex. A few years of cooling doesn't mean that people aren't heating up the planet over the long term. But the cooling wasn't predicted by all the computer models that underlie climate science. That has led to one point of agreement: The models are imperfect.
"There is a lot of room for improvement" in the models, says Mojib Latif, a climate scientist in Germany and co-author of a paper predicting the planet will cool for perhaps a decade before starting to warm again -- a long-term trend he attributes to greenhouse-gas emissions. "You need to know what you can believe and can't believe from the models."
The renewed discussion of inherent shortcomings in climate models comes on the cusp of potentially big financial commitments. In five weeks, diplomats from around the world will meet in Copenhagen to try to hash out a new agreement to curb global greenhouse-gas emissions. The science continues to evolve.
The goal of climate models is to project how rising greenhouse-gas emissions will interact with natural forces to affect the global temperature. The models are technological marvels. Using supercomputers, they divide the world into grids of roughly 4,000 cubic miles apiece. The grids are stacked, one on top of the other, up through the atmosphere.
It is complicated stuff. The models consist of dozens of equations written to reflect how liquids and gases move about the planet. Just as a symphony's sound is affected by the crash of symbols or the pluck of a violin string, the planet's future temperature is influenced by powerful ocean currents and tiny specks of sea salt. In between are other players, such as sunlight, clouds and rain.
Added to the equations are such measurements as past temperatures, barometric pressure and sea salinity. Calculations about the influence of sunlight are entered. Then various projections of greenhouse-gas emissions are factored in. The computers run the equations and generate projections of global temperatures.
The models are only as good as the information they are fed. One big uncertainty is ocean temperature. Oceans trap huge amounts of heat, and they process by which they release it over time affects the temperature of the planet. But there isn't a lot of actual data, because the vastness of the oceans makes gathering temperature data costly and arduous.
The success of the models also depends on the soundness of their assumptions. The effects of clouds, for example, are unclear. Depending on their shape and altitude, clouds can either trap heat, warming the earth, or reflect it, cooling the planet. The way that greenhouse gases affect cloud formation -- and how clouds in turn affect temperature -- remains a subject of debate. Different models treat these factors differently.
Belgian judicial authorities have arrested a Moroccan faith healer following the death of 18-year-old Layla Hachichi. The woman died as a result of burns. Her lifeless remains were recovered from her parents' home three weeks ago.
Lawyer Abderrahim Lahlali says that the faith healer was called in to deal with "psychological problems".
Newspaper reports suggest that the woman had a lesbian orientation.
The lawyer claims that the healer read from the Koran at the family's home on several occasions:" At no point did he perform any act of extortionism."
Mr Lahlali says that the Koranic reader has nothing to hide and went to the police station of his own accord.
The dead woman's parents do not face any charges at the moment. Judicial police staged a short reconstruction at the home of the deceased on Monday.
The blitz continues: After the Human Rights Watch and Goldstone reports (which were only the two most prominent among many, including some homemade ones), Amnesty's rocket, "Troubled Waters," has landed. The gist: Israel is drying out the Palestinians.
Any libel involving discrimination against Palestinians immediately makes headlines and is repeatedly broadcast in Israel more than anywhere, usually without fact-checking and sometimes without even a request for a comment from the authorities. The news editor knows, for example, that there are around 300,000 settlers and not 450,000 (if only there were) - guzzling rogues that they are of the Palestinians' water (some may say the blood). The motive for the Israeli media's extensive coverage of lies that besmirch their country is not very different from the motive of the foreign organizations themselves: undermining Israel's moral standing in its own eyes and those of the world.
Since military efforts have failed to damage Israelis' motivation to sustain the Jewish state, those who want to destroy the country have focused recently on trying to demonize that state, to make life in it unbearable (by directing their lies at the Jews' soft underbelly or soft heart: sensitivity to injustice), and to shake the Zionist sense of justice. Not only did we come from far away (some add in the service of colonialism) to plunder the Palestinians' land, but even after driving most of them out, we continue carrying out war crimes (in Gaza) and drying up (Suha Arafat even said poisoning) their wells (in Judea and Samaria). Jews are among those gleefully jumping onto this bandwagon of anti-Israel psychological warfare, including many whose wages are paid by foreign governments and organizations like Amnesty. Advertisement Amnesty's accusations on the water issue are groundless. Most of the settlements get their water piped in by the Mekorot water company from inside the Green Line not, as the organization claims, from wells in Judea and Samaria that belong to the Palestinians. And the Palestinians do not "have to make do" with 70 liters a day ("or less") per capita. According to the Oslo 2 accords they signed, they are entitled to 23.6 million cubic meters a year - but in fact they pump, with Israeli consent, 70 million cubic meters. On top of this, the Israeli Civil Administration supplies, over and above the Oslo requirements, water to villages that really are suffering from a shortage. A key question the Israeli media has left unasked is why doesn't Israel prevent the wildcat pumping in violation of the Oslo agreement that is both draining and polluting (along with the sewage that seeps through) the mountain aquifer?
Amnesty and the rest of the pro-Palestinians do not ask where the millions of dollars that flowed to the Palestinian Authority for the construction of an efficient and economical water system have vanished, or where the money is that the World Bank and other aid agencies have provided for a sewage system that would protect the environment and prevent the seepage of wastewater into the aquifers.
Another Amnesty lie: On the Jewish side, the report says, agriculture is flourishing while the Palestinians' fields are dry. The truth is that Jewish agriculture only existed in the Gush Katif settlements in the Gaza Strip. Yields there reached world records and provided a handsome living for those who worked the soil, before the blade of the uprooting fell on them. Most Jews in Judea and Samaria - and this is actually one of the arguments used against them - work outside the settlements and return only at night. One reason for this is that apart from some orchards here and there that are irrigated by rainwater, there is no income-providing agriculture in Judea and Samaria in the classical sense because of the hilly terrain. -These facts are certainly known to the Israelis who work as researchers for these organizations. But the end, or the wages, justify the means.
UNIFIL - the UN's 13,000-strong peacekeeper force in southern Lebanon - is doing a good job of preventing Hizbullah from operating out in open areas, but dares not enter the hundreds of villages which dot the area, and which have become the central bases of operation for the Shi'ite terrorist group, an army source told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
Lebanese army forces discovered on Wednesday morning four rockets mounted on launch pads in the Lebanese village of Houlo - from where a Katyusha rocket was fired at the Upper Galilee region of northern Israel on Tuesday evening.
The rockets, which were reportedly ready for launch, were neutralized by Lebanese troops.
Tenenti condemned Tuesday's rocket fire as a threat to regional stability, adding that UNIFIL had launched an investigation into the incident. "These attacks constitute serious challenges for all parties and for UNIFIL. Of course we condemn the launch of rockets violating Resolution 1701."
But Tenenti also expressed concern over the IDF's artillery shelling response to the rocket, saying, "I would add that harsh attacks [by the IDF] aimed at renewed hostilities undermine security and stability in southern Lebanon." Tenenti described the past three years as "one of the calmest periods in southern Lebanon in recent history. Besides a few sporadic incidents, the general situation in the South has been quiet."
The calm is, however, deceptive, Israel believes. Recent explosions of weapons caches in Lebanese villages offered more than enough proof of Hizbullah's rearmament efforts, the army source said.
"There are facts on the ground which speak for themselves," he added. Earlier this month, the IDF released surveillance video taken from a drone of a building in the town of Tirplesi following an enormous explosion of what the army says was an illegal Hizbullah arms cache.
Various long objects covered by a fabric can be seen being removed from the building, loaded onto a truck, and driven away. The objects were medium-range rockets that can strike deep into northern Israel, security sources said.
"What can be more clear than that?" the source asked.
A FEW weeks ago in London, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband told me that 75 per cent of the terrorist plots aimed at Britain originated in the federally administered tribal areas of Pakistan. Some 800,000 Pakistanis live in Britain.
The vast majority, it goes without saying, are law-abiding citizens. But there is a link between uncontrolled Muslim immigration and terrorism.
The real historic significance of the illegal immigration crisis in our northern waters is that this could, if things go wrong, be the moment Australia loses control of our immigration program, and that would be a disaster.
It is extremely difficult to talk honestly about Muslim immigration. All generalisations about it are subject to countless exceptions. Muslims are very different from each other. Most are reasonably successful.
But a much bigger minority end up with social, political, extremist or other problems resulting from a lack of integration than is the case with any other cohort of immigrants in Western societies. A lack of honest discussion about this results in bad policy.
The most enlightening book you could possibly read on this is by USjournalist Christopher Caldwell, Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam and the West. It is by far the best book on public policy of any kind I have read for a long time. It is wittily written but attempts to be neither provocative nor politically correct. It is dense with data but its greatest strength lies in laying bare the intellectual, political and social dynamics that have led to the mess in Europe. The way the Australian debate is reprising what were profoundly destructive and misguided European debates, dominated by moral sanctimony and a failure to grasp reality, is eerie.
Caldwell is enlightening on the way asylum assessment processes are so easily scammed, and the sophisticated, intense exchange of information that means the slightest change in attitude by a receiving country is instantly relayed throughout illegal immigrant networks. He writes: "An easily game-able system was in place that made admissions automatic to prospective immigrants who understood it. Various immigrant advocacy NGOs in Europe made sure they understood it... migrants knew the best countries to claim to come from. They also knew the best countries to go to ... (There was an) incredible sensitivity of prospective migrants to shifts in immigration law, and to countries' moods towards immigrants."
Caldwell also shows that once an illegal immigrant route is established as reliable it becomes immensely popular. This is what the struggle in the waters to Australia's north now is really all about. He further demonstrates how completely subjective and plastic the asylum-seeker assessment procedures are. In 2001 Denmark approved a majority of asylum applicants. By 2004, when the mood had changed, it approved only one in 10, though of course in Europe rejected applicants basically don't go home.
Former ambassador to the UN Dore Gold should probably buy himself a flak jacket. Gold is scheduled to debate Richard Goldstone at Brandeis University next Thursday and the anti-Israel forces are organizing quite a reception for him.
Goldstone, who chaired the UN Human Rights Council's commission charged with accusing Israel of committing war crimes in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead, has become a darling of the anti-Israel Left in the weeks since his report accusing Israel of committing both war crimes and crimes against humanity was published last month. And anti-Israeli leftists don't like the idea of someone challenging his libelous attacks against Israel in a public debate at a university.
In an email to a campus list-serve, Brandeis student and anti-Israel activist Jonathan Sussman called on his fellow anti-Zionists to disrupt the event that will pit the "neutral" Goldstone against Gold with his "wildly pro-Zionist message." Sussman invited his list-serve members to join him at a meeting to "discuss a possible response."
As the young community organizer sees it, "Possibilities include inviting Palestinian speakers to come participate, seeding the audience with people who can disrupt the Zionist narrative, protest and direct action." He closed his missive with a plaintive call to arms: "Fk the occupation."
Pakistani troops fighting Islamist militants in the mountains of South Waziristan have picked up the trail of a leading al-Qaeda figure wanted in connection with the attacks on America on September 11, 2001.
The Times was shown yesterday the German passport of Said Bahaji, a close associate of the September 11 hijacker Mohammed Atta. The army said that it found the passport and other documents in a mud compound in the village of Shawangai.
The documents, which show that Bahaji, 34, has been in Pakistan since early September 2001, appear to provide the strongest evidence yet of a direct link between Pakistani militants and al-Qaeda’s high command.
The army said that the village, captured this week in the latest effort to drive out militants who have been extending their operations ever closer to the capital, Islamabad, served as al-Qaeda’s command base. The Times saw documents showing the recent presence of other European citizens.
The battle for Shawangai lasted several days. “They were ferocious fighters and we had to battle hard to capture the village,” Lieutenant-Colonel Inam Rashid, the commanding officer who led the assault, said. His men had killed some of the militants but many others had escaped. Bahaji’s fate was unknown.
Another officer said: “We do not know whether he was killed or fled.”
Bahaji, a German citizen born to a Moroccan father and German mother, briefly served with the German Army before coming into contact with al-Qaeda. He was part of the Hamburg cell, sharing an apartment in 2001 with Mohammed Atta and Ramzi bin al-Shibh, the alleged mastermind of the September 11 attacks.
The passport showed that Bahaji arrived in Karachi on September 4, 2001. A senior Pakistani investigator said that he was accompanied by Abdullah Husayni, a Belgian, and Ammar Moula, an Algerian with a French passport. Both were closely linked with al-Qaeda.
Malaysian authorities have seized some 15,000 bibles imported from Indonesia because they use the word "Allah" as a translation for God which is banned here, a church leader said Thursday.
"The church uses the bible and it is part of the worshipper's life. There is no reason why it should be confiscated," said Reverend Hermen Shastri, general secretary of the Council of Churches of Malaysia.
"The bibles are used in the church," he said, dismissing suggestions by Islamic officials that they could be used to help convert Muslims who make up some 60 percent of the 27 million population.
Shastri said the latest confiscation happened in September when airport authorities in Sarawak state on Borneo island seized 10,000 copies of the Indonesian-language bibles which feature the disputed word "Allah".
Another 5,000 copies were confiscated in March, he said.
"The reason given for the detention of the Scriptures was because they contain banned words," he said.
Lebanese President Michel Suleiman claimed Tuesday's Katyusha rocket attack on Kiryat Shmona was in Israel's interest, and suggested that an Israeli agent may have launched the projectile.
In an interview with the Lebanese Arab-language newspaper Al Akhbar published Thursday, Suleiman said that an Israeli agent may have launched the rocket, stressing that one "must not rule out" the possibility that Israel was behind the attack.
On Tuesday night, a Katyusha fired from the Mount Dov (Shaba Farms) area slammed into a field not far from Kiryat Shmona, causing a fire but no casualties. The IDF immediately shelled the Lebanese territory from which the projectile was launched, using several rounds of artillery.
Such a remarkable story could only happen in the midst of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A young gay Palestinian man, who is in grave, life-threatening danger and cannot return to his home with his Israeli partner, was saved by a stranger who came to his aid – a religious West Bank settler.
The Palestinian, T., and the Israeli, Doron, became a couple 10 years ago. Eight years ago, they drafted a marriage agreement between them, but this did not help on the bureaucratic side. T. is tormented: The State has yet to authorize family unification with Doron. As a result, he has yet to receive permanent authorization to live in Israel. He does not have health insurance, a bank account, or a drivers' license. Nor can he take out a mortgage.
"We live in a difficult reality," said Doron on Tuesday. "It's been many years that they are checking him out, but he hasn't done anything wrong. T. is a goody-two-shoes."
Recently, T.'s father, who lives in a West Bank village, fell ill, and his son wanted to go visit him. Because going to the village is life-threatening for him because residents there are not willing to accept his sexual orientation, a father-son meeting was held outside of the village.
About ten days ago, T. entered the West Bank via one of the checkpoints. His sick father, accompanied by his mother, waited for him a short distance from the checkpoint. It was an emotional meeting. The family members finally got to see one another and T. gave them a sum of money that he had been saving for them.
However, following the brief meeting, all started to go wrong. T. started making his way back to Israel, but was surprised to discover at the checkpoint that he was not allowed re-entry. Even though he is currently under consideration for family unification and despite the fact that a yearly temporary residence permit was authorized for him, it was decided not to allow him back into Israel for security considerations.
T. found himself in an impossible situation: he was not allowed to return to his home in Israel, but returning to his parents' home in the village would put his life in danger. Left with no other choice, he turned to the only person he knew in the area who could help him – a religious settler who has known him for some years. The man decided to give asylum to T. even though he knew it would not be looked upon favorably in the settlement.
So, this is how it came to be that T., a gay Palestinian, has been hiding out in the home of a religious Jewish family in a settlement.
"I can't go back to my home in Israel; I can't enter the village. The only option left for me is to hide out in a settlement, in a home that accepts me in a humane way," said T. on Tuesday.
T. has been trying to get back home for the past 10 days: "They took my residence permit. At first they told me, 'It got lost. Come back tomorrow and we'll find it.' Later they said to me: 'You need to submit a new application for a permit.' On Tuesday they said: 'Go to the Palestinian District Coordinating Office and ask them for a permit.'
"On Wednesday, they asked me to show up in Palestinian court and to bring a declaration that the permit was lost. I brought them all the documentation, but every day they say, 'Come back tomorrow.' I already don't know where to put myself. Every day I arrive at the checkpoint, wait many long hours, and when my turn finally comes up, they tell me, 'Go home.' I'm lucky that they have agreed to host me in the settlement."
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel has already contacted the defense establishment and other government officials on the issue, but has failed to receive a clear explanation on the reason for T.'s detainment. Following questions submitted to the defense establishment, T. was summoned for a hearing to establish whether he can be allowed to return to Israel.
"They are intentionally endangering his life," said Doron on Tuesday. "A few years ago, he was arrested by the Palestinian Shin Bet, tortured for two weeks, and now my country is causing me terrible anxiety. He has been in Israel since the age of 13. He grew up within the Israeli reality. Anyone who brings a foreign woman is sorted out with family unification. But we – who live a normative life and don't impose any burden on the State, work, pay taxes – experience this suffering all the time. Ultimately, I ask for a little understanding, a little humanity, a little emotion."
T. also asked for help: "My situation is unusual. I can't return to my village. All I want is to return home."
The Defense Ministry reported that the reason for barring T.'s entry into Israel is security-based.
I hope the Israelis allow T to go back to Israel as soon as possible...
Human rights lawyers and pro-Palestinian activists in a number of European countries hold lists with names of Israel Defense Forces soldiers allegedly linked to war crimes committed during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip. Existing legislation enables arrest warrants to be issued against these officers if they enter those countries.
Lawyers in Britain and other European countries have been collecting testimonies of Palestinians and other data from Gaza since January, which they maintain proves that war crimes were committed by the IDF during the offensive. The evidence is linked to IDF officers holding ranks of battalion commander and higher, who were in command during various stages of Cast Lead.
The other nations who have lawyers collecting information on the matter include the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium and Norway, whose laws, as well as Britain's, allow the issuance of arrest warrants against foreign citizens suspected of war crimes.
Attorney Daniel Makover from London is coordinating the efforts in Britain. One of his colleagues visited the Gaza Strip several weeks after the fighting in order to collect testimonies. Palestinians civilians also gave the legal assistant their approval, and asked that he file the suits in their name, in line with British law.
Few people outside of Denmark have heard of Tingbjerg. It’s a residential neighborhood in northwestern Copenhagen. About 6500 people live there, down from about 10,000 in the 1970s. Today the great majority of those residents are Muslims. As the neighborhood has become increasingly Muslim, it’s also been increasingly plagued by gang violence, burglaries, car-burnings, vandalism, and other offenses. Over the years, the members of Tingbjerg’s non-Muslim minority have come to feel increasingly vulnerable and ill at ease in their community. Many have moved out.
Among the latter is Ulrich Vogel. He is German and gay – and until recently he also happened to be the pastor at Tingbjerg Church. But now, after seventeen years in that position, he’s fled – moved out of the church residence, gone underground, taken sick leave, and begun psychological treatment.
Why? Because in recent years Vogel has been the repeated target of crime and harassment by local Muslims. Vogel refused to discuss his situation with Uwe Max Jensen, who reported on the story for sappho.dk on October 6. But Jensen found police reports in local newspapers that describe acts of vandalism at the church on March 26 and August 5 of this year and a break-in at the church residence on August 16. The latter crime involved the destruction and robbery of much of Vogel’s personal property, including his computer. And this is apparently only the tip of the iceberg: a member of the church congregation told Jensen that the residence has been broken into “countless” times.
In any case, Vogel has given up. And so, apparently, has the church council: instead of opening up a search for a substitute pastor who’s willing to live in the church residence at Tingbjerg, they’ve decided to sell it.
For days, the rumor circulated that Vogel was tormented by the young Muslims because he’s gay. Then, on October 17, Lea Holtze and Jannie Iwankow Søgaard of Kristeligt Dagblad reported that Vogel had broken his silence in order to deny that rumor. No, he insisted: he was tormented not because he’s gay but because he’s a pastor, and thus “a picture of an institution and a normality that is not welcomed by this group of young people.” Vogel also noted, truthfully enough, that he was hardly the only person in the neighborhood who had been victimized by local youth.
Canadian travellers have been told they're not welcome in Libya, in an apparent reprisal for Canada's near tongue-lashing of Moammar Gadhafi.
Mr. Gadhafi cancelled a planned stopover in Newfoundland last month after the Harper government made public its intention to scold the Libyan Leader over the hero's welcome Libya gave a man convicted in the Lockerbie bombing.
Since then, Mr. Gadhafi has made clear to officials within Libya's travel documentation offices that no visas are to be granted to Canadians wanting to enter the country.
Twelve people accused of promoting Satanism have been arrested in northwest Iran, a newspaper reported on Sunday.
"A number of people in the city of Orumiyeh who engaged in the promotion of Satanism through underground music and the production of blasphemous video clips were arrested," the daily Resalat quoted senior police official Kheibar Tiba as saying.
For those of you who have never even heard of a “Special Rapporteur,” you may be surprised to find out that one has been appointed by the United Nations (UN), under a special mandate from the UN Human Rights Council (the successor to the corrupt and anti-Israel UN Commission on Human Rights), to open a probe—for the first time ever— into human rights violations by the United States because of a perception that there isn’t enough affordable public housing in urban areas.
Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman reports that Raquel Rolnik, a Brazilian urban planner and the UN’s choice for the task, will be investigating issues of concern to the UN vis-à-vis the United States, including public housing, homelessness and foreclosures. As part of her fact-finding mission, she will visit New York City, Chicago, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Washington, a South Dakota Indian reservation, and Wilkes-Barre, Pa. She will then compile a report on her findings, which will be submitted to the UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council in March.
The UN Human Rights Council believes that housing is a human right, and, because housing (especially “affordable housing”) is so tough to come by in places like New York City, there is a strong likelihood that the United States Government is guilty of gross human rights violations.
UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing Raquel Rolnik: If we take housing as a human right, you have to go back to the idea that housing is a social issue before and more priority than housing as a commodity, as a financial asset.
Now, having the UN send an investigator to the United States to report on “human rights violations” due to a perceived lack of housing availability—when it turns a blind eye to real human rights violations in places like Communist China, Sudan and Venezuela—should be enough to raise some eyebrows. But Rolnik’s impartiality is highly suspect, as she appears to have already made up her mind as to the existence of these “violations .”
Consider the following statements Rolnik made, before even beginning her “tour,” which have the same flavor as the Marxist rhetoric one is accustomed to hearing from Democracy Now!:
• [I am going to] hear the voices of those who are suffering on the ground.
•I am representing the right of adequate housing as a human right.
•Affordable housing here [in the United States] is not that affordable
•I see this mission as an opportunity to open a dialogue, to open a movement, towards the achievement and implementation of the right to adequate housing.
•We know very well that changes will come only if people organize.
Plans to open branches of a Malaysian "Polygamy Club" in Indonesia have upset women's groups and religious leaders in the world's most populous Muslim nation, who say the search for multiple wives should be handled privately -- not by a matchmaking service.
Under Islamic law, Muslim men are permitted four wives. The club claims a noble aim of helping single mothers, reformed prostitutes and women who feel they are past marrying age meet spouses. It also offers counseling to people facing problems in polygamous households.
The Malaysian owners say they want to "change people's perception about polygamy, so that they will see it as a beautiful rather than abhorrent practice," club chairwoman Hatijah Binti Am said as members from around 30 families attended a gathering in Bandung, west Java, for the opening of the first Indonesian branch last week.
Others will soon be added, including in the capital, Jakarta, said spokeswoman Rohaya Mohamad.
"Indonesia is a Muslim-majority country, so polygamy can be a way of life there too," Rohaya said.
The Government is sending British police and intelligence officers to the West Bank to try to stop a wave of brutal torture by Palestinian security forces funded by UK taxpayers.
Their mission is to set up and train a new ‘internal affairs’ department with sweeping powers to investigate abuse and bring torturers to justice.
The department is being paid for by Britain, with an initial planning budget of £100,000 – a sum set to soar as it becomes established. Palestinian Authority policemen on operational duty in Nablus
Yesterday a senior official from the semi-autonomous Palestinian Authority (PA), which runs the West Bank and its security agencies, admitted for the first time that torture, beatings and extra-judicial killings have been rife for the past two years, with hundreds of torture allegations and at least four murders in custody, the most recent in August.
Haitham Arar, head of the Palestinian Authority interior ministry’s human rights department, said: ‘This is a shame on the Palestinian Authority. We are determined with the help of our British colleagues to instill respect for human rights as part of the security forces’ daily behaviour and to teach them how to treat prisoners properly.’
She said planning for the new department was well advanced and it should be operational in four months’ time.
Besides investigation, British detectives will train the Palestinian police and ‘Preventive Security’ forces in how to question suspects without torturing them.
The next step would be for officers from MI5 and MI6 to train the PA’s Mukhabarat intelligence agency.
‘Obviously police cannot train intelligence officers,’ Ms Arar said. ‘For that you need other intelligence officers. We need all the help we can get.’
Support for the new department follows the disclosure by The Mail on Sunday in January that Britain spends £20million a year funding the forces responsible for the abuse.
Most of their victims are accused of involvement with Hamas, the radical Islamist party that seized power through violence in the Gaza Strip in 2007. The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank is controlled by the rival Fatah party.
‘A lot of people were talking in a bad way about the PA and saying they wanted the West Bank to be like Gaza,’ Ms Arar said.
‘There were people who had weapons and others who were money-laundering to support terrorism.
‘We had to bring these people to order. But there were violations because not all the security officers were aware of human rights standards. We need oversight over the security forces’ actions.’
On the ground in the West Bank last week, however, it was clear that realising Ms Arar’s aspirations is some way from fulfilment.
In the region’s largest city, Nablus, Nasser al-Shaer, a former Manchester academic who was deputy prime minister in the short-lived Hamas Palestinian Authority government elected in 2006, said many of those released from detention in recent months were telling the same story – of torture, including beatings, being suspended from the ceiling and electric shocks.
Violent acts or threats against French Jews in the first half of this year outnumbered all similar incidents in 2008, a Jewish community group said Saturday, pointing to a wave of anti-Semitism following Israel's attack on Gaza.
In the period from January to June, 631 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded, the Paris-based Protection Service for the Jewish Community (SCPJ) said, compared to 474 for the whole of 2008.
Some 360 of those took place in January -- the month when Israel launched its military offensive on the Gaza Strip.
From this year's numbers, 113 were violent attacks and 518 were threats of violence.
The data was based on records from the French interior ministry and the SCPJ's own figures.
The SCPJ said anger over Israel's offensive on Gaza was one of the main reasons for the rise in attacks on or threats of violence against Jews.
"The pro-Palestinian movement of January 2009 paved the way for numerous anti-Semitic attacks," the group said in a statement.
"This trend continued over the following months," the SPCJ said.
Jacques Attali, a leading French Jewish intellectual and former adviser to the late French president Francois Mitterrand, sparked controversy earlier this week when he told an Israeli newspaper there "was no problem of anti-Semitism in France."
Richard Prasquier, the head of the CRIF, an umbrella group of secular Jewish organisations, responded to Attali's comments by saying "there is a climate of hatred against Jews (in France) that manifests itself through insults and often physical attacks."
In the avalanche of publicity stunts being staged in advance of December's Copenhagen conference on climate change, none was more bizarre than the meeting of the cabinet of the Maldives government 20 feet beneath the waves. President Mohammed Nasheed and his ministers sat before desks in scuba gear to discuss the forthcoming submergence of their country, due to global warming.
This prompted an open letter to President Nasheed from Dr Nils-Axel Morner, the former head of the international Inqua Commission on Sea Level Change. The Swedish geologist, who has been measuring sea-level change all over the world for over 30 years, reminded the president that his commission had visited the Maldives six times in the years since 2000, and that he himself had led three month-long investigations in every part of the coral archipelago. Their exhaustive studies had shown that from 1790 to 1970 sea-levels round the islands had averaged 20 centimetres higher than today; that the level, having fallen, has since remained stable; and that there is not the slightest sign of any rise. The most cautious forecast based on proper science (rather than computer model guesswork) shows that any rise in the next 100 years will be "small to negligible".
President Nasheed is well aware of this, because in 2001, Professor Morner offered to explain his team's findings on the local TV station, to reassure viewers that their homes were not about to disappear underwater as they had been told. The government refused to allow his film to be shown. Egged on by climate alarmists, successive Maldivan leaders since the 1980s have pleaded for vast sums of international aid to save them from rising sea levels.
"For Heaven's sake," writes Prof Morner in his open letter, "lift the terrible psychological burden you have placed on the shoulders of all people in the Maldives", who have been made to live with "a wholly false notion that is nothing but an armchair fiction artificially constructed by mere computer modelling consistently proved wrong by meticulous real-world observation".
Iranian authorities have detained 35 relatives and supporters of jailed reformists, including wives and children, the reformist Sarmayeh newspaper reported on Saturday.
In a separate report reformist website norooznews said "armed, masked guards" on Thursday raided a prayer ceremony in Tehran attended by families and supporters of jailed reformists who opposed the June re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Sarmayeh reported that initially 60 people were arrested, among them the wives and children of jailed reformists including from the Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF) party, and that 35 remain in detention.
Hardline Somali Islamists publicly whipped and jailed two men for watching pornography on their mobile phones, witnesses said on Saturday.
Shebab security officials caught the two Friday and were flogged by hooded men before hundreds of residents in the southern Kismayo town controlled by the hardline militia.
"The two young men were caught watching porn movies on their mobile phones by the security forces and after admitting their crimes they were punished according to the Islamic sharia," Sheikh Omar Mohamed, an Islamist official, told AFP by phone.
"Each of them got 25 lashes and 15 days imprisonment for involvement in evil deeds," he added.
Actually, isn't the 25 lashes quite light??? Afterall, that Saudi women got 60 lashes...
A Saudi court on Saturday convicted a female journalist for her involvement in a TV show, in which a Saudi man publicly talked about sex, and sentenced her to 60 lashes.
Rozanna al-Yami is believed to be the first Saudi woman journalist to be given such a punishment. The charges against her include involvement in the preparation of the program and advertising the segment on the Internet.
Danish police said on Thursday that a Palestinian father had hit a primary school teacher and bitten his ear after he had shaken the hand of the man's daughter.
The 47-year-old Danish teacher of Moroccan origin had invited the father and daughter for a meeting at the school in the town of Vollsmose on Wednesday when he had been "repeatedly hit and bitten in the ear", the police said.
"The father, a Palestinian, apparently became furious that the teacher had greeted his daughter just before a meeting," said Joergen Andersen, the police superintendent in the nearby city of Odense.
The 33-year-old father, a Muslim, said the teacher had "gone too far and offended his honour", Andersen said.
"The man is apparently not a fundamentalist," Andersen said. But he "could not accept this handshake between the teacher and his daughter".
The father told the police he had "lost his cool" because of what he considered the teacher's "indecent" behaviour.
The teacher was treated at a hospital and put on sick leave.
The father was charged with assault on a public service employee. He was arrested and released on Thursday.
It is a cynical but time-honoured practice in Middle Eastern politics: the statesmen who decry the political and humanitarian crisis of the approximately 3.9 million Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and in Gaza ignore the plight of an estimated 4.6 million Palestinians who live in Arab countries. For decades, Arab governments have justified their decision to maintain millions of stateless Palestinians as refugees in squalid camps as a means of applying pressure to Israel. The refugee problem will be solved, they say, when Israel agrees to let the Palestinians have their own state.
Yet in the two decades since the end of the Cold War, after two Gulf wars, and the rise and fall of the Oslo peace process, not a single Palestinian refugee has returned to Israel – and only a handful of ageing political functionaries have returned from neighbouring Arab countries to the West Bank and Gaza. Instead, failed peace plans and shifting political priorities have resulted in a second Palestinian "Nakba", or catastrophe – this one at hands of the Arab governments. "Marginalised, deprived of basic political and economic rights, trapped in the camps, bereft of realistic prospects, heavily armed and standing atop multiple fault lines," a report by the International Crisis Group (ICG) in Lebanon recently observed, "the refugee population constitutes a time bomb."
The fact that the divided Palestinian political leadership is silent about the mistreatment of the refugees by Arab states does not make such behaviour any less reprehensible – or less dangerous. Some 250,000 Palestinians were chased out of Kuwait and other Gulf States to punish the Palestinian political leadership for supporting Saddam Hussein. Tens of thousands of Palestinian residents of Iraq were similarly dispossessed after the second Gulf war.
In 2001, Palestinians in Lebanon were stripped of the right to own property, or to pass on the property that they already owned to their children – and banned from working as doctors, lawyers, pharmacists or in 20 other professions. Even the Palestinian refugee community in Jordan, historically the most welcoming Arab state, has reason to feel insecure in the face of official threats to revoke their citizenship. The systematic refusal of Arab governments to grant basic human rights to Palestinians who are born and die in their countries – combined with periodic mass expulsions of entire Palestinian communities – recalls the treatment of Jews in medieval Europe. Along with dispossession and marginalisation has come a new and frightening turn away from the traditional forms of nationalism that once dominated the refugee camps towards the radical pan-Islamic ideology of al-Qa'ida.
Ben-Gurion Airport was the setting for an unusual scene late Tuesday night, as seven young Chinese men wearing kippot arrived via Uzbekistan to make aliya.
The newcomers, who were brought here by the Shavei Israel organization, are all descendants of the Jewish community of Kaifeng, China, which flourished on the southern banks of the Yellow River for more than 1,000 years.
It marked the first time that an organized group has moved here from Kaifeng.
"I am very excited to be here in the Holy Land," said Yaakov Wang, one of the new immigrants. "This is something that my ancestors dreamed about for generations, and now, thank God, I have finally made it."
Wang said he eventually hoped to become a rabbi, so that one day he could help other Kaifeng Jewish descendants to learn more about their heritage.
Wang and the other young men will spend their first few months in the country learning Hebrew at an ulpan on a religious kibbutz in the North, after which they will prepare to undergo conversion.
From the airport, the group went straight to the Western Wall, where they recited the "Shehehiyanu" blessing with great emotion, and then burst into a chorus of traditional Hebrew songs.
"It took more than two years to get the necessary permission from the Interior Ministry to bring them over, but it was well worth the wait," said Shavei Israel chairman Michael Freund, who is also a Jerusalem Post columnist. Freund said he hoped this group's arrival and absorption would serve as a pilot, and if successful, would open the door to bringing more potential olim.
"This is an historic event," he said, adding that "Kaifeng's Jewish descendants are a living link between China and the Jewish people, and it is very moving to see the remnants of this community returning to their roots."
At its peak, during the Middle Ages, Kaifeng Jewry numbered about 5,000. But widespread intermarriage and assimilation, as well as the death of the community's last rabbi, brought about its demise by the middle of the 19th century.
According to Freund, there are still hundreds of people in Kaifeng who cling to their identity as descendants of the city's Jewish community. In recent years, a growing number have begun to express an interest in studying Jewish history and culture. The building where the synagogue stood is now a hospital. In the basement, there are still signs of a mikve.
Of the approximately 1,000 descendants of the Jewish community, about half, if given the opportunity, would make the move to Israel, Freund said.
Starting with the new recommendations: Why do women wishing to start enterprises deserve government-backed credit more than men? Women are as well educated as men in this country, and since they make something like 70% of household purchases, are far better placed to tap into networks and targeted markets than men. Let them get their loans the usual way; if their idea is good, they'll get the loan. If it's bad, why fund hobbies?
As for the toll-free line for abuse, that's a swell idea; how about we make it gender-free? Memo to Women's Caucus: Men suffer abuse from women, nearly as much as the other way around, and there are virtually no resources in this country for even severely abused men. So why should a national toll-free line serve only one gender?
Literacy? This is a women's issue? How so?
As for a gender commissioner, if the Women's Caucus really wants to go there, they might start by recommending the abolition of equity programs in university. Enrolment in most programs is so female-skewed, an outsider might think men have fallen victim to some mysterious plague. And given the dropout rates of boys, one might call it a plague, because gender-wise the education system is sick. Boys are disadvantaged K-12, with teaching methods geared for girls and a very poor understanding of how boys learn best. Just this week Toronto proposed sweeping changes to education to make up for years of apathy toward the eroding performance gap.
Maybe this putative gender commissioner could ask why Ontario health units only screen for abuse in incoming female patients 12 and older, not male patients, even though male adolescents suffer nearly as much sexual abuse as girls.
And how about a thorough investigation of the family court system, where almost 90% of contested custody cases end up with sole custody going to mothers? How about support for equal parenting, a long-overdue gender-fair initiative that can't get traction because groups like the Liberal Women's Caucus aren't interested in gender fairness?.
The Ottawa police hate crime unit has launched an investigation into another defacement of a Jewish cemetery.
The Jewish Memorial Gardens near Greely was vandalized sometime Wednesday night.
Nazi swastikas and anti-Semitic epithets were sprayed on the walls that mark the entrance to the cemetery. Eight headstones were also defaced, police said.
A neighbour alerted police to the vandalism Thursday morning.
Mitchell Bellman, president of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa, said the incident has shaken the community to its core.
“It’s horrible to see these images and see such hatred in a spot that’s there to bring comfort to the deceased and their families,” he said. “It’s very disturbing to see these images and see what people would do to what we consider sacred space.”
Aren't the British sickened by the moral confusions of their government? First, we have the weasel words to justify the unjustifiable release of the Lockerbie bomber. Now we have the sickening spectacle of Britain failing to stand by Israel, the only democracy with an independent judiciary in the entire region.
It was to be expected that the usual suspects of the risible UN human rights council would be eager to condemn Israel for war crimes in defending itself against Hamas. If you treat people as the Chinese do the Tibetans or Uighurs ("Off with their heads!"); or as the Russians eliminate Chechen dissidents; or as the Nigerians tolerate extrajudicial killings, the evictions of 800,000, rape and cruel treatment of prisoners; or as the Egyptians get prisoners to talk (torture) and the Saudis suppress half their population … well, go through the practices of all 25 states voting to refer Israel to the security council for the Gaza war, and you have to acknowledge they know a lot about the abuse of humans. Anything to divert attention from their own atrocities.
Only six refused to join the farce – Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Slovakia, Ukraine and the US. Britain didn't just abstain. It shirked voting at all (along with those beacons of civilisation Angola, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, and surprisingly, France).
Of course, here the fig leaf for being scared of dictators, especially oil-rich abusers, is the report by the South African judge Richard Goldstone. Poor Judge Goldstone now regrets how his good name has been used to single out Israel. The Swiss paper Le Temps reports him complaining that "This draft [UN human rights council] resolution saddens me … there is not a single phrase condemning Hamas as we have done in the report. I hope the council can modify the text." Fat hope.
The truth is he was suckered into lending his good name to a half-baked report – read its 575 pages and see. He said that, as a Jew himself, he was surprised to be invited. He shouldn't have been, and should never have accepted leadership of a commission whose terms of reference were designed to excuse the aggressor, Hamas, and punish the defender, Israel. The council's decision was to "dispatch an urgent, independent, international fact-finding mission … to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by the occupying power, Israel, against the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, due to the current aggression, and [it] calls upon Israel not to obstruct the process of investigation and to fully co-operate with the mission".
Israel is not an "occupying power" in Gaza in either fact or international law. Four years ago it voluntarily pulled out all its soldiers and uprooted all its settlers. Here was a wonderful chance for Gaza to be the building block of a Palestinian state, and for Hamas to do what the Israelis did – take a piece of land and build a model state. They didn't. Instead of helping the desperate Palestinians, they conducted a religious war.
In signing on for the UN mission – with others who had already condemned Israel – it seems to have escaped the judge that Hamas is committed not just to fight Israeli soldiers; it is a terrorist organisation hellbent on the destruction of the state of Israel. The terms of reference he accepted validate the torment of Israeli civilians. Hamas launched 7,000 rockets – every one intended to kill as many people as possible – then contemptuously dismissed repeated warnings from Israel to stop or face the consequences.
The rockets were war crimes and ought to have been universally condemned as such. While new rockets hit Israel over many months there was no rush by the world's moralisers – including Britain – to censure Hamas, no urgency as there was in "world opinion" when Israel finally responded. Then Israel was immediately accused of a "disproportionate" response without anyone thinking: "What is a 'proportionate' attack against an enemy dedicated to exterminating your people?" A dedication to exterminating all of his?
Israel risked its own forces by imposing unprecedented restraint. In testimony volunteered to the human rights council (and ignored), Colonel Richard Kemp, a British commander in Bosnia and Afghanistan, stated: "The Israeli Defence Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare." The "collateral damage" was less than the Nato allies inflicted on the Bosnians in the conflict with Yugoslavia.
No doubt there were blunders. A defensive war is still a war with all its suffering and destruction. But Hamas compounded its original war crime with another. It held its own people hostage. It used them as human shields. It regarded every (accidental) death as another bullet in the propaganda war. The Goldstone report won the gold standard of moral equivalence between the killer and the victim. Now Britain wins the silver. Who's cheering?
Although they were granted all the necessary security clearances, a team of Israeli breast cancer researchers and advocates was denied entry to Egypt earlier this week.
The team had hoped to participate in breast cancer awareness and advocacy programs and workshops organized by the American-based Susan G. Komen For the Cure, but was informed just before departing that Egyptian Health Minister Hatem el-Gebaly had decided they would not be allowed to attend.
"The situation is very serious," said Yossi Levy, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry. "Everything was taken care of, [the team] had the necessary documentation. We still don't know why they weren't allowed in."
Levy also said his office was in discussion with Egypt about clarifying the decision.
In addition to the ministry's efforts, the Anti-Defamation League called on Susan G. Komen For the Cure on Tuesday to help ensure the Israelis' participation in the event.
"We respectfully urge the leadership of Susan G. Komen for the Cure to make clear to Egyptian authorities, including the breast cancer program's patron, First Lady of Egypt Suzanne Mubarak, that this exclusion of Israeli breast cancer researchers and activists is unacceptable," wrote ADL national director Abraham H. Foxman. "This decision must be immediately reversed to enable them to participate in these programs."
However, as of Wednesday afternoon, no progress had been made, and the team remained in Israel.
A Toronto-area imam is under fire for using derogatory language against Jews and Christians, calling for Allah to “destroy” the enemies of Islam from within and calling on God to “damn” the “infidels.”
The address, given last Friday by Imam Saed Rageah at the Abu Huraira Centre and then posted on YouTube (watch it above), is an attack on those who have been calling for a ban on the niqab and burka, both of which cover the faces of women.
“Allah protect us from the fitna [sedition] of these people; Allah protect us from the evil agenda of these people; Allah destroy them from within themselves, and do not allow them to raise their heads in destroying Islam.”
Tarek Fatah, a Canadian Muslim author and commentator, said that type of language could be interpreted as a call to violence. As well, the imam asks Allah to “damn” Christians and Jews.
“The cleric’s ritual prayer asking for the defeat of Christians and Jews and the victory of Islam is not unique,” Mr. Fatah said. “It is uttered by many clerics across Canada spreading hate instead of harmony. There should be no room in Canada’s mosques for such hatred, especially when most of these institutions get [tax-free status].”
The Abu Huraira Centre attracts about 800 to 1,000 people to a typical Friday service. A man who worked at the centre said that many women who attend only wear the hijab, which covers the head, and do not wear any covering on their faces.
The National Post repeatedly attempted to reach Mr. Rageah for an interview, but was unsuccessful.
Throughout the 35-minute speech he uses the word “kuffar” to describe non-Muslims.
In referring to those Muslims who would seek allies outside the Muslim community to bring about legislation that would ban face coverings, the imam said: “You will see a lot of them going to the kuffar, taking them as friends and allies. The wrath of Allah is upon them. If they were true believers they would never take them as allies.”
I have lived in Norway for almost eleven years now, and for most of that time, while I have observed with deep concern the developments in Europe related to Islam, immigration, and failed integration, two of the greatest sources of hope for me have been Hege Storhaug and Rita Karlsen of Human Rights Service (HRS). It is an honor to call these two brave women my friends. They have made tremendous efforts, taken immense risks, and endured an unimaginable amount of unjust abuse in their struggle to defend the human rights of the most vulnerable people in Norway and to preserve the liberty of all Norwegians. There are few people for whom I have as much respect as I have for Hege and Rita, and few people in whose personal integrity I have as much confidence. They have made an immeasurable contribution to the enlightenment of the public and the development of policy in Scandinavia, and their job, in my view, has only begun.
I have contributed to rights.no on several occasions in the past, and I am now returning to these pages in connection with the expansion of the website to include regularly updated English-language pages. My role will involve not only writing a monthly column but also translating and editing essays by contributors in Scandinavia and around the Western world. I have taken on this task because I know that HRS and I share a strong belief in certain core values – among them freedom of speech, freedom of religion, individual liberty, secular democracy, equality before the law, and sexual equality – and because I think that an expanded rights.no that includes frequently updated contents in English can perform an invaluable service in a time when those values, owing to catastrophic immigration and integration policies as well as to certain aspects of Muslim law, belief, and custom, are under increasing threat throughout the Western world.
One thing that has long struck me about the public discussion of the problems that face the West is that, to a remarkable extent, politicians and commentators in each country have addressed those problems almost as if they were peculiar to their own country – as if they did not afflict their neighbors as well. Here in Norway, the only other countries that regularly figure in these debates are Denmark and Sweden. In short, the insularity of national cultures in the West is even greater, and the barriers of language and culture considerably higher, than we may suppose. As a result, European governments that might learn from the experience of their counterparts elsewhere on the continent have failed repeatedly to do so. A site in English that features astute reporters and commentators from a range of Western nations, not just in Europe but in North America and Australasia – and that is read in all of those countries – can, it seems to me, do a great deal to help bridge these gaps.
There are already, to be sure, widely read “anti-jihad” sites that are based in Europe and written in English. But in my view there is a crying need for a site that features a range of strong, intelligent international voices and that can be counted upon to be solidly supportive of democratic values and free of racism, anti-Semitism, and homophobia. The Islamization of the West is enough of a challenge by itself; what complicates the situation, and intensifies the challenge facing us, is that Europe is also confronted by a growing specter of far-right nativism and xenophobia, which represent as serious a threat to those values as does Islamism. It is my desire, and I know it is Hege’s and Rita’s as well, that in the present atmosphere the new, expanded rights.no will provide an important corrective and counterweight to those parlous forces.
A few words about myself: I was born and raised in New York City, I have a doctoral degree in English, and I began my career as a literary and film critic and poet (further details can be found at my website). But my concern about social and political developments in the U.S. led me to write A Place at the Table: The Gay Individual in American Society (1993), which Frank Bruni summed up in the Detroit Free Press as "[o]ne of the most sensible assessments of the gay rights movement that's ever been written, as well as one of the most eloquent arguments for acceptance of gays that's ever been made,” and which author and law professor Dale Carpenter described as having ”changed gay politics forever.” That book was followed by Stealing Jesus: How Fundamentalism Betrays Christianity (1997), a critical study of the ways in which fundamentalist Protestantism distorts the gospel message; the book is still widely used in discussion groups in mainstream Protestant churches across the United States. What these two books share is a dedication to individual identity and freedom and an opposition to groupthink, oppression, and tyranny – a perspective rooted in my fealty to the values articulated in the American Declaration of Independence and Constitution.
This same perspective underlies the two books that I have published since moving to Europe in 1998. While Europe Slept (2006), which grew out of my experience as an American expatriate living in Amsterdam and then Oslo, sounds a warning about the threat that the Islamization of Europe poses to Western liberties; in Surrender (2009) I expand my canvas to include North America while narrowing my focus to concentrate on the ways in which the responses by the Western political, media, and cultural elite to Islamist pressure endangers freedom of speech. My association with HRS is a reflection of my continued commitment to this struggle to safeguard democratic values and human rights in these menacing times. I look forward to this collaboration and hope that it will help to bring together partisans of liberty throughout what was once called the free world.
Human Rights Service has now added English language pages, and this will allow a much wider audience to see the incredibly good work this organization does on a daily basis. Plus, you get to read Bruce Bawer!
It began with a rash of unusually assertive police patrols. Armed Hamas officers stopped men from sitting shirtless on the beach, broke up groups of unmarried men and women, and ordered shopkeepers not to display lingerie on mannequins in their windows.
Then came an effort to force female lawyers to abide by a more conservative dress code, and intense pressure on parents to dress their daughters more conservatively for the new school term. Last week police began enforcing a new decree banning women from riding on motorbikes.
For the first time since Hamas won Palestinian parliamentary elections nearly four years ago, the group is trying to Islamise Gazan society. In public, Hamas leaders say they are merely encouraging a social moral code, and insist they are not trying to imitate the religious police who operate in some other rigid Islamic countries. But to many it feels like a new wave of enforcement in what is already a devoutly Muslim society.
Asmaa al-Ghoul, a writer and former journalist, was one of the first to run up against the new campaign. She spent an evening with a mixed group of friends in a beachside cafe in late June. After dark, she and another female friend went swimming wearing long trousers and T-shirts. Moments after leaving the water they found themselves confronted by a group of increasingly aggressive Hamas police officers. "Where is your father? Your husband?" one officer asked her. Ghoul, 27, was told her behaviour had not been respectable. Five of her male friends were beaten and detained for several hours.
As I read the very latest UNHCR report, I could not believe that I was not looking at an Onion parody. It is but the latest outrage from a would-be human rights commission set up by the United Nations, and which to our nation’s embarrassment, President Obama has seen fit to have the United States sign up as a member.
As Martin Peretz points out, “America’s new membership on the Human Rights Council has had no results in the fairness of the process. Did anyone imagine it would? Well, I suppose the president did.” Peretz is right. And the current administration’s reversal of staying out of the farcical body is one of the affronts to dignity of our current Chief Executive.
As for the latest broadside, “The report therefore discusses, besides the human rights of women, the gendered impact of counter-terrorism measures on men and persons of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities, and addresses how gender intersects with other prohibited grounds of discrimination, such as race and religion.” What this gobbledygook legalese means is that when the Israelis engage in counter-terrorism against terrorists and suicide bombers, they are threatening the rights of trans-gendered individuals. How? When a man dresses as a woman, the Israelis might embarrass an honest cross-dresser by subjecting him/her to a humiliating search, thereby interfering with the person’s sexual identity and human rights. They state:
The report identifies the ways in which those subject to gender-based abuse are often caught between targeting by terrorist groups and the State’s counter-terrorism measures that may fail to prevent, investigate, prosecute or punish these acts and perpetrate new human rights violations with impunity. These violations are amplified through war rhetoric and increased militarization in countering terrorism, both of which marginalize those who challenge or fall outside the boundaries of predetermined gender roles and involve situations of armed conflict and humanitarian crisis in which gender-based violence and gendered economic, socialcand cultural rights violations abound.
They add: “The report then draws attention to the fact that contrary to these international human rights obligations to ensure equality, some Governments have used the human rights of women and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex individuals as a bartering tool to appease terrorist or extremist groups in ways that have furthered unequal gender relations and subjected such persons to increased violence.”
On page 19 the report says: “Enhanced immigration controls that focus attention on male bombers who may be dressing as females to avoid scrutiny make transgender persons susceptible to increased harassment and suspicion.” (my emphasis.)
Think about this one moment. We all know that Islamist and Arab regimes think nothing of stoning homosexuals to death, throwing them in jail, hanging them, or simply making life hell for them at every possible level. We also know that scores of gay Palestinians and Arabs do their best to flee to Israel, the only government that affords them human rights, allows them to exist freely, and even has an annual gay rights parade. Yet the special rapporteur on human rights of the UN is accusing Israel of violating the rights of gays, lesbians and trans-gendered people, by its counter-terrorism measures.
With this kind of political correctness gone amok, the Human Rights Commission and its Special Rapporteur have reached the level of complete absurdity.
Forty York University faculty members contributed personal funds to “defray” the $1,000 fine that was imposed on the Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) York student group for participating in an anti-Zionist demonstration in Vari Hall last winter.
The group that calls itself “Concerned Faculty For Palestinian Human Rights” issued a press release dated Oct. 1 in which they outlined that they decided to pay SAIA’s fines because they say it is “part of a larger pattern of repression” of free speech in defence of Palestinian human rights.
Ali Mustafa, a member of SAIA at York, said the faculty members wanted to remain anonymous because they fear being “targeted” by the university administration.
My name is Fred and I am a gay conservative living in Ottawa. This blog supports limited government, the right of the State of Israel to live in peace and security, and tries to expose the threat to us all from cultural relativism, post-modernism, and radical Islam.
I am also the founder of the Free Thinking Film Society in Ottawa (www.freethinkingfilms.com)