Weapons found on the ship...
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)
The Deputy Head of the Israeli mission to the UN at the Security Council...
What kind of Humanitarian activists demand to bypass the United Nations, the Red Cross, and other internationally recognized agencies? What kind of peace activists use knives, clubs and other weapons to attack soldiers who board a ship in accordance with international law? What kind of Humanitarian activists, some with known terrorist history, embrace Hamas, a terrorist organization that openly shuns a two state solution and calls for Israel destruction, defying conditions set by the international community and the Quartet? The answer is clear: they are not peace activists; they are not messengers of good will. They cynically use a humanitarian platform to send a message of hate and to implement violence.
Let me remind the Council that a state of armed conflict exists between Israel and the Hamas terrorist regime controlling Gaza. Let me remind the Council that rockets and mortars are still being launched by Hamas and others toward southern Israel. Let me remind the council that Gaza is occupied by terrorists that ousted the PA in a violent coup, and that arms are continuously being smuggled, including by sea. Let me stress that a maritime blockade is a legitimate and recognized measure under international law that may be implemented as part of an armed conflict at sea.
The country still won't cooperate with the IAEA....
SYRIA has told the UN atomic watchdog about past nuclear experiments, but is still refusing to cooperate over allegations that it was building a secret nuclear reactor with North Korea's help, a new report revealed on Monday.
In a restricted four-page report obtained by AFP, the International Atomic Energy Agency said that Syria 'provided the Agency with information concerning previously unreported uranium conversion and irradiation activities' at a small research reactor in Damascus.
Syria insists the scale of the experiment was small, 'involving tens of grammes of nuclear material' and took place in 2004.
A senior diplomat familiar with the IAEA investigation said it was too early to determine whether the experiments were purely of a small scientific nature, as Syria claimed, or part of wider, more extensive research.
At the same time, the IAEA complained that Syria had not cooperated with its investigation into allegations that Damascus had been building an undeclared reactor at a remote desert site called Dair Alzour until it was bombed by Israeli planes in September 2007.
The IAEA has been investigating the allegations since 2008 and has already said that the building bore some of the characteristics of a nuclear facility.
More Muslims killing Muslims...
The assault came three days after two teams of Islamist extremists armed with guns, grenades and suicide vests killed more than 80 worshipers belonging to a minority Muslim sect.
One of the captured militants and about 30 survivors of the Friday attack were being treated at Jinnah Hospital in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore.
Witnesses said visitors, hospital staff and security guards were killed when at least three gunmen dressed in police uniforms opened fire shortly before midnight.
"They barged into the hospital building and opened indiscriminate fire," said Javed Ikram, chief executive of the hospital.
Armoured police vehicles raced to the scene as one militant climbed on to the roof and began shooting at officers.
The attackers later fled in a police vehicle without rescuing the injured gunman.
One witness said he counted four dead police.
One of my favorite journalists...
But one of the main players appears to be Turkey. It was a Turkish ship, the Mavi Marmara, which after a big sendoff from Turkey apparently took the lead in the flotilla, its passengers professing nonviolence while waiting with knives and metal cudgels to start a fight. And in Turkey, a lead player in this bloody exercise has been a Turkish Foundation, the radical Islamist IHH, or Foundation for Human Rights. Liberties, and Humanitarian Relief. The IHH enjoys consultative status with the UN as a non-governmental organization, or NGO, has an office in Gaza, and has apparently been taking part in this Gaza stunt with the blessing of Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan. Far from serving as a seal of good housekeeping for the IHH, such ties ought to call into question the judgment of both the UN and Erdogan.
For details on what led a French magistrate in the 1990s to explore IHH connections to terrorist organizations, including Al Qaeda, a piece of required reading is a working paper released in 2006 by the Danish Institute for International Studies: “The Role of Islamic Charities in International Terrorist Recruitment and Financing.” The entire report is illuminating, but for the section on the IHH, scroll to pages 10-14. When this report was written, the IHH was active in providing “charitable donations” to what were then “rebel-dominated areas of restive Sunni central Iraq.”
The real crisis here is not the fate of the Gaza Terror Flotilla per se, whose organizers have now got the headlines they wanted. The blood is on their hands. The real crisis involves the profound unwisdom of a democratic world that finds it easier to criticize and condemn Israel than to face the mortal threats proliferating in the Middle East. While the headlines, the political grandstanders and the UN Security Council now focus on this propaganda coup prepared by supporters of Hamas, Hezbollah is rearming in Lebanon, Turkey is engaged in a dangerous shift from its old alliances with the West toward new partnerships with Syria and Iran, and Iran continues its march toward the nuclear bomb. Does anyone in the West really believe that the threat here is to Israel alone? In this latest clash over the terrorist enclave of Gaza, the real question that wants answering is why did no democratic country send its ships to Israel’s aid, to make common cause against this terror-loving flotilla? Or – with the blessings of the UN, Turkey and armed “peace activists” — are terrorist-run enclaves such as Gaza, dedicated to the extermination of entire nation states, now to become an accepted feature of the international system?
And, nobody is going to do anything...
Iran has amassed more than two tons of enriched uranium, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Monday in a report that heightened Western concerns about the country preparing to produce a nuclear weapon.
Two tons of uranium would suffice for two nuclear warheads, although Iran says it does not want weapons and is only pursuing civilian nuclear energy.
On enrichment, the report said Iran had now enriched 2,427 kilograms to just over three percent level. That means shipping out 1,200 kilograms (as proposed by the IAEA late in 2009) now would still leave Iran with more than enough material to make a nuclear weapon. That makes the deal brokered by Turkey and Brazil unattractive to the U.S and its allies.
I attended the anti-Netanyahu protest in Ottawa. About 400 people turned out, and they brought with them huge 'B, D, and S' letters (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) to carry with them through the streets.
Pakistan lifted a ban on Facebook on Monday after officials from the social networking site apologized for a page deemed offensive to Muslims and removed its contents, a top information technology official said.
The move came almost two weeks after Pakistan imposed the ban amid anger over a page that encouraged users to post images of Islam's Prophet Muhammad. Many Muslims regard depictions of the prophet, even favorable ones, as blasphemous.
"In response to our protest, Facebook has tendered their apology and informed us that all the sacrilegious material has been removed from the URL," said Najibullah Malik, secretary of Pakistan's information technology ministry, referring to the technical term for a Web page.
Facebook assured the Pakistani government that "nothing of this sort will happen in the future," Malik said.
Here's the maritime law...
1. A maritime blockade is in effect off the coast of Gaza. Such blockade has been imposed, as Israel is currently in a state of armed conflict with the Hamas regime that controls Gaza, which has repeatedly bombed civilian targets in Israel with weapons that have been smuggled into Gaza via the sea.
2. Maritime blockades are a legitimate and recognized measure under international law that may be implemented as part of an armed conflict at sea.
3. A blockade may be imposed at sea, including in international waters, so long as it does not bar access to the ports and coasts of neutral states.
4. The naval manuals of several western countries, including the US and England recognize the maritime blockade as an effective naval measure and set forth the various criteria that make a blockade valid, including the requirement of give due notice of the existence of the blockade.
5. In this vein, it should be noted that Israel publicized the existence of the blockade and the precise coordinates of such by means of the accepted international professional maritime channels. Israel also provided appropriate notification to the affected governments and to the organizers of the Gaza protest flotilla. Moreover, in real time, the ships participating in the protest flotilla were warned repeatedly that a maritime blockade is in effect.
6. Here, it should be noted that under customary law, knowledge of the blockade may be presumed once a blockade has been declared and appropriate notification has been granted, as above.
7. Under international maritime law, when a maritime blockade is in effect, no boats can enter the blockaded area. That includes both civilian and enemy vessels.
8. A state may take action to enforce a blockade. Any vessel that violates or attempts to violate a maritime blockade may be captured or even attacked under international law. The US Commander's Handbook on the Law of Naval Operations sets forth that a vessel is considered to be in attempt to breach a blockade from the time the vessel leaves its port with the intention of evading the blockade.
9. Here we should note that the protesters indicated their clear intention to violate the blockade by means of written and oral statements. Moreover, the route of these vessels indicated their clear intention to violate the blockade in violation of international law.
10. Given the protesters explicit intention to violate the naval blockade, Israel exercised its right under international law to enforce the blockade. It should be noted that prior to undertaking enforcement measures, explicit warnings were relayed directly to the captains of the vessels, expressing Israel's intent to exercise its right to enforce the blockade.
11. Israel had attempted to take control of the vessels participating in the flotilla by peaceful means and in an orderly fashion in order to enforce the blockade. Given the large number of vessels participating in the flotilla, an operational decision was made to undertake measures to enforce the blockade a certain distance from the area of the blockade.
12. Israeli personnel attempting to enforce the blockade were met with violence by the protesters and acted in self defense to fend off such attacks.
A first-hand report on what happened on the Gaza flotilla...
Our Navy commandoes fell right into the hands of the Gaza mission members. A few minutes before the takeover attempt aboard the Marmara got underway, the operation commander was told that 20 people were waiting on the deck where a helicopter was to deploy the first team of the elite Flotilla 13 unit. The original plan was to disembark on the top deck, and from there rush to the vessel’s bridge and order the Marmara’s captain to stop.
Officials estimated that passengers will show slight resistance, and possibly minor violence; for that reason, the operation’s commander decided to bring the helicopter directly above the top deck. The first rope that soldiers used in order to descend down to the ship was wrested away by activists, most of them Turks, and tied to an antenna with the hopes of bringing the chopper down. However, Flotilla 13 fighters decided to carry on.
Navy commandoes slid down to the vessel one by one, yet then the unexpected occurred: The passengers that awaited them on the deck pulled out bats, clubs, and slingshots with glass marbles, assaulting each soldier as he disembarked. The fighters were nabbed one by one and were beaten up badly, yet they attempted to fight back.
However, to their misfortune, they were only equipped with paintball rifles used to disperse minor protests, such as the ones held in Bilin. The paintballs obviously made no impression on the activists, who kept on beating the troops up and even attempted to wrest away their weapons.
One soldier who came to the aid of a comrade was captured by the rioters and sustained severe blows. The commandoes were equipped with handguns but were told they should only use them in the face of life-threatening situations. When they came down from the chopper, they kept on shouting to each other “don’t shoot, don’t shoot,” even though they sustained numerous blows.
The Navy commandoes were prepared to mostly encounter political activists seeking to hold a protest, rather than trained street fighters. The soldiers were told they were to verbally convince activists who offer resistance to give up, and only then use paintballs. They were permitted to use their handguns only under extreme circumstances.
The planned rush towards the vessel’s bridge became impossible, even when a second chopper was brought in with another crew of soldiers. “Throw stun grenades,” shouted Flotilla 13’s commander who monitored the operation. The Navy chief was not too far, on board a speedboat belonging to Flotilla 13, along with forces who attempted to climb into the back of the ship.
The forces hurled stun grenades, yet the rioters on the top deck, whose number swelled up to 30 by that time, kept on beating up about 30 commandoes who kept gliding their way one by one from the helicopter. At one point, the attackers nabbed one commando, wrested away his handgun, and threw him down from the top deck to the lower deck, 30 feet below. The soldier sustained a serious head wound and lost his consciousness.
Only after this injury did Flotilla 13 troops ask for permission to use live fire. The commander approved it: You can go ahead and fire. The soldiers pulled out their handguns and started shooting at the rioters’ legs, a move that ultimately neutralized them. Meanwhile, the rioters started to fire back at the commandoes.
“I saw the tip of a rifle sticking out of the stairwell,” one commando said. “He fired at us and we fired back. We didn’t see if we hit him. We looked for him later but couldn’t find him.” Two soldiers sustained gunshot wounds to their knee and stomach after rioters apparently fired at them using guns wrested away from troops.
During the commotion, another commando was stabbed with a knife. In a later search aboard the Marmara, soldiers found caches of bats, clubs, knives, and slingshots used by the rioters ahead of the IDF takeover. It appeared the activists were well prepared for a fight.
Some passengers on the ship stood at the back and pounded the soldiers’ hands as they attempted to climb on board. Only after a 30-minute shootout and brutal assaults using clubs and knifes did commandoes manage to reach the bridge and take over the Marmara.
It appears that the error in planning the operation was the estimate that passengers were indeed political activists and members of humanitarian groups who seek a political provocation, but would not resort to brutal violence. The soldiers thought they will encounter Bilin-style violence; instead, they got Bangkok. The forces that disembarked from the helicopters were few; just dozens of troops – not enough to contend with the large group awaiting them.
The second error was that commanders did not address seriously enough the fact that a group of men were expecting the soldiers on the top deck. Had they addressed this more seriously, they may have hurled tear-gas grenades and smoke grenades from the helicopter to create a screen that would have enabled them to carry out their mission, without the fighters falling right into the hands of the rioters, who severely assaulted them.
An interesting look at the Kurds...
Twenty-two years ago, in this dusty town hard up against the mountainous border with Iran, Saddam Hussein's military used chemical weapons to murder 5,000 Kurdish men, women and children.
The Halabja massacre was only the most infamous atrocity of Operation Anfal, a name Saddam took from a sura of the Koran that details permissible conduct against enemies of Islam. Of course, most Kurds are Muslims. But they are not Arabs. Kurds have had their own distinctive culture and language since long before armies from Arabia embarked on the first wars of Islamic conquest in the seventh century.
The goal of Operation Anfal was genocide. At least 150,000 Kurds were slaughtered, many having first been herded into concentration camps. More than a million Kurds were driven from their homes.
Six months after the collapse of Saddam's regime, the Kurds erected a memorial on the edge of Halabja. It includes haunting photos; those of mothers clutching babies to their breasts as they died in the streets are perhaps the most heart-wrenching. A sign, in fractured English, reads: "Live and victory for all nations. Death for all kinds of racism."
Kurds see Americans as their allies and friends. "We appreciate the sacrifices Americans have made to liberate Iraq and bring the possibility of freedom," Masoud Barzani, president of the Kurdish Regional Government, tells me and other members of a delegation of journalists and think-tank analysts.
Many Kurds also have empathy for -- and even feel an affinity with -- Israelis and Jews. Unusual as this is within the "Muslim world," it makes sense: Like Kurds, Jews are an ancient Middle Eastern people. Like Kurds, Jews have been targeted for genocide. Like Kurds, Israelis face an uncertain future among neighbours who range from merely hostile to openly exterminationist.
At a university in the Kurdish capital of Erbil, students meeting with our delegation express admiration for Israelis' courage. A Kurdish driver launches into a lively conversation that begins with praise for America. He soon tells me there is one other country he'd like to visit: Israel. A Kurdish journalist says that Iran's Islamist rulers cannot be trusted, noting that they
recently executed five Kurds "because they were Kurds." He adds that Iran "supports Hezbollah. And we know what Hezbollah does to Israel."
Publicly, Kurdish officials state that Iraq ought to have peaceful relations with all its neighbours -- without exception. Some go farther: "We have no problems with Israel," explains Falah Mustafa Bakir, head of the Kurdistan Regional Government's Department of Foreign Relations. "They have not harmed us. We can't be hating them because Arabs hate them. And the day after the Israelis open an embassy in Baghdad, we will invite them to open a consulate here."
I am told that it’s been 32 years since an Israeli Prime Minister came to Toronto. Well, now everyone knows what they’ve been missing.
To the thousands of people inside this arena and outside this arena, I want to say thank you. Thank you for one of the warmest receptions I have ever received. Thank you for what is surely one of the warmest receptions any Israeli Prime Minister has ever received.
It is wonderful to be in Canada. The ties between Israel and Canada have never been stronger.
I want to take this opportunity to thank Prime Minister Harper. Prime Minister Harper has been an unwavering friend of Israel. He’s a great champion of Israel’s right to defend itself. He stands against all the efforts to deligitimize the Jewish state.
We deeply appreciate his support. I also want to thank the Canada-Israel Committee – a devoted group of leaders, both Jewish and non-Jewish, who work tirelessly to strengthen the bonds between our two countries.
I want to thank the Toronto Jewish Community and the Toronto Jewish federation. This community has a reputation for its passionate commitment to Israel.
Year after year, you march for Israel.
Year after year, you march for truth.
Year after year, you show us that we are not alone.
Though you are thousands of miles away, you are standing right by our side. Some Canadians do even more than that. A few weeks ago, I went up to Northern Israel to watch a military exercise. I met a young man named Jonathan Fader. He had a dirty uniform and his face was covered with camouflage paint.
Jonathan came to Israel for the first time on a Birthright Trip. He eventually made Aliyah as part of Nefesh B’Nefesh. Jonathan is here with us today. Jonathan, please stand up. Thank you for defending the one and only Jewish state.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I came here with a simple message: March with pride. March with clarity.
Because what you are marching against and what you are marching for could not be any clearer.
You march against those who hate freedom.
You march for those that cherish it.
You march against those who reject peace.
You march for a people that have yearned for peace since the day Israel was born.
You march against terrorists who target civilians.
You march for an army that targets terrorists.
You march against tyrannies whose laws repress women.
You march for a country whose Supreme Court, like Canada’s, is led by a woman.
You march against dictators who murder and torture their own people.
You march for a liberal, pluralistic democracy.
You march against those who glorify death.
You march for those who celebrate life.
You march for the values and ideals that Canadians and Israelis hold dear.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Israel faces great challenges faced by no other nation.
First and foremost is the challenge of preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons. We must ensure that a regime that is the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism and shamelessly denies the Holocaust not acquire the weapons of mass death.
Second, Israel must ensure that peace is anchored in security. We must not repeat the mistakes of the past. When Israel left Lebanon, Iran moved in. When Israel left Gaza, Iran moved in.
We cannot afford to put a third Iranian terror base on the hills overlooking Tel Aviv. We must ensure that a future Palestinian state is effectively demilitarized. The people of Israel are prepared to make compromises for peace. But Israel will never compromise its security.
And I will insist that just as we are being asked to recognize a nation-state for the Palestinian people, the Palestinians will have to recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.
For there to be peace, the Palestinians will have to recognize the Jewish state once and for all. The third challenge for Israel is repelling the escalating attacks on our legitimacy.
In the United Nations or on a college campus, we must fight back against the lies and distortions. We must learn the truth and defend it in every forum.
The challenges we face may seem truly daunting. But if anyone here has any doubt about what Israel can achieve, think about what Israel has already achieved. When the State of Israel was established, only 5% of the world’s Jews lived there. Today, nearly half of the world’s Jews live in Israel.
Israel began as a poor country with hardly any natural resources. Today, it is a high tech power. A few days ago Israel was accepted as a member of the OECD, the world’s most developed economies.
Israeli technology is powering the world’s computers, our scientists are winning Nobel Prizes, and our doctors are curing rare diseases. Our agricultural know-how is irrigating arid lands and our expertise is bringing aid to disaster victims around the globe.
Israel has defeated armies bent on its destruction, overcome terrorists that obey no moral code and fight the greatest slanders that have been directed against any people.
Alone among nations, Israel is openly threatened by annihilation. Alone among nations, Israel must constantly defend its very right to exist. But Israel is also a nation that has defied the laws of history. After thousands of years, we restored our sovereignty in our ancient homeland, revived an ancient language, and ingathered exiles from across the globe.
We realized the ancient dream of our people to rebuild Jerusalem, the eternal united capital of the Jewish people. Most important, we regained the power of self-defense after being a powerless people subject to every evil under the sun.
Those who thought that the establishment of Israel would stop the attacks against the Jewish people were wrong. They did not stop. Not even for a single day.
But Israel has given us the power to repel those attacks. There are those who want to strip Israel of that power. I promise you that they will fail.
Israel will never, ever give up the power to defend itself.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for being here today.
Thank you for standing up for truth.
Thank you for standing up for democracy.
Thank you for standing up for Israel.
It's about time...
Britain’s premier scientific institution is being forced to review its statements on climate change after a rebellion by members who question mankind’s contribution to rising temperatures.
The Royal Society has appointed a panel to rewrite the 350-year-old institution’s official position on global warming. It will publish a new “guide to the science of climate change” this summer. The society has been accused by 43 of its Fellows of refusing to accept dissenting views on climate change and exaggerating the degree of certainty that man-made emissions are the main cause.
The society appears to have conceded that it needs to correct previous statements. It said: “Any public perception that science is somehow fully settled is wholly incorrect — there is always room for new observations, theories, measurements.” This contradicts a comment by the society’s previous president, Lord May, who was once quoted as saying: “The debate on climate change is over.”
The admission that the society needs to conduct the review is a blow to attempts by the UN to reach a global deal on cutting emissions. The Royal Society is viewed as one of the leading authorities on the topic and it nominated the panel that investigated and endorsed the climate science of the University of East Anglia.
Sir Alan Rudge, a society Fellow and former member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Committee, is one of the leaders of the rebellion who gathered signatures on a petition sent to Lord Rees, the society president.
He told The Times that the society had adopted an “unnecessarily alarmist position” on climate change.
Sir Alan, 72, an electrical engineer, is a member of the advisory council of the climate sceptic think-tank, the Global Warming Policy Foundation.
He said: “I think the Royal Society should be more neutral and welcome credible contributions from both sceptics and alarmists alike. There is a lot of science to be done before we can be certain about climate change and before we impose upon ourselves the huge economic burden of cutting emissions.”
And, just what is Obama going to do about this???
Afghan insurgents are being trained inside Iran and given weapons to fight security forces, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces said on Sunday, joining a rising drumbeat of criticism of Iran's role in the country.
General Stanley McChrystal said coalition forces were working to stop Iran from giving material help to the Taliban who have stepped up the campaign to force foreign forces out of Afghanistan in a nine-year conflict.
"The training that we have seen occurs inside Iran with fighters moving inside Iran," he said at a news conference in response to a question on Iran's influence. "The weapons that we have received come from Iran into Afghanistan."
And, what's Obama going to do about it???
UN nuclear inspectors revisiting an Iranian laboratory suspected of involvement in a nuclear weapons program discovered that equipment has been removed, diplomats said Friday.
Senior officials within the International Atomic Energy Agency are concerned that the removal was part of a cover-up.
The equipment can be used for pyroprocessing, a procedure used to purify uranium metal used in nuclear warheads.
Iran had confirmed that it carried out pyroprocessing experiments, but then backtracked in March.
The experiments prompted IAEA experts to revisit a site where they had apparently already seen the equipment, the Jabr Inb Jayan Multipurpose Research Laboratory in Tehran, but they found some of the equipment had been removed to an undisclosed site.
Three diplomats speaking anonymously, said an electrolysis unit used in separating out impurities from uranium metal was among the apparatus that had been removed. Another said chemical apparatus used in the process were now missing.
And, just where is Obama on this???
Hezbollah is running weapons, including surface-to-surface missiles, from secret arms depots in Syria to its bases in Lebanon, according to security sources.
The Times has been shown satellite images of one of the sites, a compound near the town of Adra, northeast of Damascus, where militants have their own living quarters, an arms storage site and a fleet of lorries reportedly used to ferry weapons into Lebanon.
The military hardware is either of Syrian origin or sent from Iran by sea, via Mediterranean ports, or by air, via Damascus airport. The arms are stored at the Hezbollah depot and then trucked into Lebanon.
“Hezbollah is allowed to operate this site freely,” said a security source. “They often move the arms in bad weather when Israeli satellites are unable to track them.”
These aren't really pro-Palestinian....they just really hate Israel...
A group of pro-Palestinian demonstrators sailing toward Gaza with humanitarian supplies on Thursday have refused a request by the father of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit to deliver a package and letter to his son.
Lots to be proud of here...
The Jewish state of Israel is a diverse nation that has absorbed people from more than 140 countries. Among its population are about 1.5 million Arabs, including Israeli Knesset member Ahmad Tibi, who in a May 23 Times interview lashed out at Israel, using inflammatory words like "racist" and "fascist." As is his style, Tibi failed to back up his white-hot rhetoric with hard facts.
In 1947, Arab leaders rejected a United Nations resolution to form an Arab state alongside a Jewish one. This caused the displacement of some 600,000 Palestinian refugees. From that point forward, Arab nations have denied these Palestinians and their descendants citizenship and basic civil rights, including the right to own property, get an education or take out loans — rights held by Israeli Arabs.
Arab Israelis, who make up about 20% of the nation's population, enjoy equal rights, government representation and protection in Israel. They live freely in all parts of Israel, can use all public facilities, attend Israel's top universities and are contributing members of society. By no means is Israel the epitome of perfection, but we do aspire for equality for all our citizens. According to the Abraham Fund Initiative, since Israel's establishment in 1948, the number of schools in the Arab Israeli school system increased by more than fifteenfold; Hebrew schools grew by only five times. The number of classes offered in the Arab Israeli system increased more than seventeenfold, and since 1961 the literacy rate of Arab Israelis jumped from 49.6% to 90%, a clear indication of the educational opportunities offered to all our citizens.
Not only are Arabs treated equally as individual citizens, but their minority status is also recognized in some aspects by the government, with Arabic being an official language in Israel (alongside Hebrew) and Israeli Muslims having their own jurisdiction on religious issues (Sharia law) pertaining to members of their community, just like Jewish religious law at the Rabbinical courts. Additionally, Arab Israelis are citizens with full voting rights and can serve as elected members of the Knesset, as lawmaker Tibi does. It is true that Arab Israelis hold about 10% of the Knesset seats, a number that is disproportionate to their population. Perhaps this is because Arab Israelis are opting instead to vote for non-Arab parties or exercising their democratic right not to vote at all.
In his interview, Tibi made it clear that he has no intention of serving as a bridge between Israeli Arabs, Palestinians and Israeli Jews. But he also made it clear that he would never give up his Israeli citizenship or passport for a future Palestinian identity. And why would he? Would a Palestinian parliament allow a member to travel freely to an enemy state, such as the Arab Knesset members' recent public visit to Libya? Would a Palestinian parliament allow one of its members to serve as an adviser to a hostile government? For those who may not know, Tibi served as Yasser Arafat's adviser on Israeli affairs while simultaneously serving as a member of the Knesset.
Tibi knows that no Arab country would afford him the freedoms that the Jewish state does. After all, Arab Knesset members are even allowed to travel to Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas, the terrorist organization that vows to exterminate the Jewish state. Israeli Arab lawmakers travel there to express their support, then return to their Knesset offices to make their case to Israeli and international media. Is any such freedom available in the Arab world? Of course not! Tibi knows this; he relies on such freedoms to do his work.
Yes, other groups in Gaza are ever crazier and more dangerous....
Bandleader Jamal Al-Bayouk said he and his musicians would not risk performing in the southern Gaza Strip any more after militant Islamists threatened to kill them at a wedding party.
They had just finished performing east of Khan Younis when armed militants burst in, set fire to $40,000 worth of instruments and fired shots between the legs of band members.
"One gunman told another: Don't shoot between the legs. Shoot at the legs!" Bayouk told Reuters.
"Another told me: Prepare for death, you immoral infidel," the 49-year-old man said, at the Gaza shop where he fixes musical instruments and rents sound systems.
He said several other singers and members of bands had been beaten up by al-Qaeda style jihadists who disapprove of their music and added that in his opinion there could be further attacks as summer begins and people hold weddings and parties.
"I am afraid and I am not optimistic but I will continue because there are 20 families depending on my profession," Bayouk said.
The threat comes from Salafi jihadists whose agenda of global holy war against the West is against the nationalist goals of Gaza's rulers Hamas, an Islamist movement which denies seeking to create a theocracy in the enclave.
While seen in Israel as a dangerously fundamentalist Palestinian enemy force, Hamas is not Islamist enough in the eyes of hardline groups which have stepped up attacks in the Gaza Strip over the past several months, targeting Hamas security men and offices.
Hamas accuses them of attacking wedding parties, Christian sites, internet cafes and women's hair dressing salons. The groups deny the accusations.
Toameh is one of my favorite reporters...
The former PLO "ambassador" to Australia, Ali Kazak, believes that an Arab journalist who writes about financial corruption and theft in the Palestinian Authority is a "traitor" who should be murdered the same way as collaborators were killed by the French Resistance.
Kazak told the newspaper, The Australian: "Khaled Abu Toameh is a traitor. Traitors were also murdered by the French Resistance, in Europe; this happens everywhere."
Asked why he calls the journalist a traitor, the former PLO representative, who lives in Australia, explained: "Palestinians are the victims. He shouldn't write about them, he should write about the crimes of the Israelis."
Kazak's threat does not come as a surprise to those who are familiar with the methods used by Arab dictatorships to silence anyone who dares to demand reforms and transparency.
The threat reminds journalists like me how lucky we are that we live in Israel and not under the jurisdiction of the PLO or Hamas.
We are also fortunate that Kazak and his radical supporters are sitting far away in Australia and not in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, where they would be lining up journalists and critics against the wall and shooting them like the "traitors who were murdered by the French Resistance."
The PLO, like most of the Arab dictatorships, has a long history of targeting journalists who refuse to "toe the line." This clampdown is one of the main reasons why the Palestinian media is still far from being independent and free.
One of the first things the PLO did when it entered the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1994 was to wage a campaign of intimidation and terror against Palestinian reporters and editors.
Another photographer had his two arms broken by members of Fatah's armed wing, the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, apparently after he had been heard bad-mouthing senior officials associated with Arafat.
A photographer who took a picture of a donkey strolling along the beach of Gaza City was arrested and beaten by Palestinian security agents on charges of "defaming the Palestinian cause" by distributing a picture of the animal instead of documenting the "suffering" of his people.
This really has to stop...
As someone who teaches at a Canadian university, I'd like to think that when my students graduate and apply for jobs, each applicant will be considered on his or her merits. Unfortunately, that's not how things work at many universities today.
Although some people have expressed concern that the first round of Canada Excellence Research Chairs have all gone to men, much more common are university job searches that are biased in favour of women.
In one recent job search, a Canadian arts faculty encouraged only women candidates to apply. Once applications were received, only women were considered and only women were interviewed. This kind of restriction didn't happen in the case of the Canada Research Chair searches where both men and women were considered for positions.
Discrimination against men isn't always so extreme. Most departments allow men to apply, but almost always "give preference" to women. For anyone who favours non-discriminatory hiring, even this is a shameful practice.
For those of us who have worked in Canada all our lives, is this the kind of job market we want to leave to our children and grandchildren? For the many people who immigrate to Canada each year, is this the kind of non-discriminatory society they're hoping to discover once they arrive? Probably not.
So why do such practices persist?
Partly it's because they're supported by a small but active group of ideologues, people who mistakenly believe they'll be able to prevent the perceived wrongs of 50 or 100 years ago from ever recurring by refusing to hire a generation of young men who had no role in past discrimination.
More often it's because such practices are encouraged in today's world of identity politics. Twenty years ago, many people expressed tremendous moral outrage when slightly more men than women were enrolled in Canadian universities. Now that the percentages have reversed and university degree programs are filled with many more women than men, there's not word of complaint.
Far from wanting to introduce a few temporary, gender-neutral procedures intended to help advance the cause of non-discrimination, it turns out that what most advocates of affirmative action really wanted was to advance the interests of a few favoured groups. Pretending to be friends of the merit principle, they convinced governments and universities that temporary discriminatory measures were essential for combatting so-called "systemic discrimination." What was never mentioned was that this newly discovered form of discrimination was to be found only in male-dominated disciplines, never in female-dominated ones.
It was a neat trick. As one colleague memorably put it, "Saying you will hire someone preferentially in order to combat discrimination is like saying you would give your right arm to be ambidextrous."
Well worth reading...
‘This House would put Economic Growth before combatting climate change’
Last month the World Bank was asked to approve a $3 3/4 billion loan to South Africa to build a massive new coal-fired power station - Said to be the fourth largest in the world.
The South African government maintained that the power station was essential for the country’s economic development and for the relief of poverty that only economic development can bring.
The global environmental movement conducted a strident campaign against it, urging the rest of the world’s governments to block the proposal.
As a result, the United States, the United Kingdom and three other European countries declined to support it. But all the developing world Board members voted in favour, and the loan was agreed.
And, I put it to you, quite right, too.
This is the practical reality of the motion before the House tonight.
Are we, or are we not, in favour of the ending of world poverty?
Are we, or are we not, in favour of bringing to an end, as quickly as is humanly possible, the widespread malnutrition, preventable disease and premature death that acute poverty brings, which currently afflicts tens, if not hundreds, of millions of people around the world today?
That is what this motion is about.
“Combatting climate change” – attractively alliterative though it is – is a curious phrase.
The climate changes all the time. It always has and it always will, and in different ways in different parts of the world.
What is presumably meant is combatting global warming.
Now here I have to make a confession of ignorance.
Strictly between ourselves, and unlike so many much cleverer people, it seems, I don’t actually know what the temperature of the world is going to be in 100 years time.
But what I do know is that, if it is warmer than it is today (and maybe it will be, although we know that there has been no recorded warming at all over the past 10 years or more), mankind, which is nothing if not adaptable, will use all the resources of modern technology to mitigate the adverse effects of any warming, while taking advantage of the many benefits that warming may bring.
The opposition will tell you that that isn’t good enough; that we must move urgently and swiftly to decarbonise every aspect of our economies, in the arrogant and hubristic belief that by doing so we can determine the temperature of the planet and prevent it from rising more than a further degree or so.
Happily, that ain’t gonna happen.
I say ‘happily’, because the economic cost, and the human cost, of decarbonisation at the present time would be appalling.
Which is why it won’t happen.
The reason the world relies overwhelmingly on carbon-based energy at the present time is not because of the political strength of the oil industry.
It is because carbon-based energy is far and away the cheapest form of energy, and is set to remain so – no doubt not forever – but for the foreseeable future.
Decarbonisation, in other words, means moving from relatively low cost energy to high cost energy, thus slowing down very substantially the pace of economic development.
Which is why the great global climate change conference in Copenhagen last December ended in total and predictable failure.
Its purpose, as you will recall, was to agree on a successor to the Kyoto accord which required the developed world to cut its carbon emissions to 5% below 1990 levels by 2012.
And the successor was to be a legally binding accord to cut global emissions by 50% below 1990 levels by 2050.
This is much more than 10 times as demanding as Kyoto was.
If the Kyoto 5% cut is achieved – and it is far from clear that it will be – the principal reason will be that the developed world has, through the migration of manufacturing industry, effectively outsourced a large part of its emissions to countries, such as China and India, without Kyoto constraints.
Except in the unlikely event of world industry migrating to Mars, a global target removes the escape route of outsourcing emissions.
Mind you, the world recession has also helped temporarily to reduce emissions and thus make it possible that the 2012 target may be attained.
After last year’s G20 meeting in London, a Mr Gordon Brown announced that he had ‘saved the world’ by securing agreement on measures to bring the recession to an end.
If our political leaders has actually meant what they say about climate change, the G20 meeting would have been about how best to perpetuate the recession.
Be that as it may, it is scarcely surprising that, at Copenhagen, the major developing nations, notably China, already the world’s largest emitter, and busily building a massive new coal-fired power station every week, and India, whose population is set to exceed that of China within the lifetime of most of you here today, said ‘no way’.
Making it clear that their overriding priority was the fastest possible rate of economic development, and thus the fastest possible eradication of poverty, they declined to play ball.
So does it matter that carbon emissions are going to carry on rising, as they most certainly will do?
Let’s have a look at what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, had to say in its most recent Report.
The IPCC is, it has to be said, a somewhat compromised organization, but its conclusions represent the conventional wisdom on the issue.
On the IPCC’s own projections, if nothing is done to curb carbon emissions, the worst case scenario is that, in 100 years time, average living standards in the developing world, instead of being more than 9 times as high as they are today, will ‘only’ be more than 8 times as high as they are today.
If this relatively benign outcome seems surprising, the explanation is that the IPCC assumes continuing rapid economic growth in the developing world over the next 100 years.
I hope they are right.
But if they are not, then on the conventional growth/emissions/temperature nexus on which their projections depend, there won’t be the warming, either.
So does it really make sense to condemn tens of millions of people in the developing world today to preventable malnutrition, disease, and premature death in the hope of preventing this scarcely disastrous misfortune?
Of course not.
Moreover, the projected adverse consequences of warming, should it occur, are in fact the marginal exacerbation of already existing problems, such as hunger, drought and disease.
These problems can – and should – be addressed directly, to much greater effect, and at a fraction of the cost of global decarbonisation.
Fortunately, as I have said, global decarbonisation isn’t going to happen.
The Chinese and the Indians aren’t stupid.
And they have made their position clear.
Other countries, too, are now discreetly watering down their decarbonisation policies and commitments.
Sadly, this country alone, although we account for less than 2% of global emissions, has made a unilateral (and thus entirely pointless) commitment to rapid and virtually total decarbonisation.
Although the commitment was made by the previous Labour Government, it has been endorsed with even greater enthusiasm by the new Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition.
As if our economic predicament were not bad enough as it is.
Truly, those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad.
Finally, let me congratulate the Union on the framing of this motion.
Argument over this issue far too often focuses overwhelmingly on the science of global warming.
But while that may well be the most interesting aspect, it is not the most important.
It is essential to recognise, as this motion implicitly does, that – even if you accept the conventional wisdom on the science – it does not follow that decarbonisation of the global economy, even if it were politically achievable, which it isn’t, makes either economic or human sense.
I put it to you that to seek to condemn tens, if not hundreds, of millions of people in the developing world to unnecessary poverty, and to the malnutrition, disease and premature death that acute poverty brings, so that politicians and environmentalists can strut the world stage claiming that they are saving the planet, is morally contemptible.
I ask you to support the motion.
Editor's Note: The motion was carried by 135 votes to 110.
Yesterday, we blogged that the US was thinking of talking to moderate elements in Hezbollah...
John Brennan, deputy national security adviser for homeland security, has come up with a new way to waste the foreign-policy establishment’s time — locate the so-called “moderate elements” within Hezbollah and somehow promote them.
“There is [sic] certainly the elements of Hezbollah that are truly a concern to us what [sic] they’re doing,” he said. “And what we need to do is to [sic] find ways to diminish their influence within the organization and to try to build up the more moderate elements.”
There are no moderates within Hezbollah, at least not any who stand a chance of changing Hezbollah’s behavior. Sure, the terrorist militia has sent a handful of its members to parliament, as Brennan says, and once in a while they sound more reasonable than its secretary-general, Hassan Nasrallah, but these people are employees. They don’t make policy.
If you want to catch a glimpse of Hezbollah’s org chart, just rent a car in Beirut and drive south. You’ll see billboards and posters all over the place in the areas Hezbollah controls. Some show the portraits of “martyrs” killed in battle with Israel. Others show the mug shots of Hezbollah’s leadership, most prominently Nasrallah and his deceased military commander, truck bomber, and airplane hijacker Imad Mugniyeh. Alongside the pictures of Hezbollah’s leaders, you’ll also see Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the two “supreme guides” of the Islamic Republic regime in Iran.
It’s obvious, if you know who and what you’re looking at, that Hezbollah is still subservient to Khamenei. His face is almost as ubiquitous as that of Nasrallah and the deceased faqih Khomeini himself. Hezbollah’s state-within-a-state doesn’t even look like it’s in Lebanon. It looks like, and effectively is, an Iranian satellite. Iran’s heads of state appear everywhere down there, while Lebanon’s heads of state are personae non grata.
I’ve met those you might call moderate supporters of Hezbollah, Lebanese citizens who believe Hezbollah is there to defend Lebanon from Israel rather than to attack — which is not at all what anyone at the top thinks. Even if second-tier leaders were less belligerent, it wouldn’t matter. The organization takes its order from Tehran. Hezbollah won’t change until its masters change in Iran, and the U.S. is no more able to “build up” any imagined moderates within its ranks than it is able to replace Khamenei’s hated dictatorship with the Green Revolution.
I guess there are some loopholes...
A draft U.N. resolution that would impose sanctions on Iran, including limits on global arms transfers, will not block the controversial transfer of Russian S-300 missiles to the Iranian military, according to U.S. and Russian officials.
The Obama administration had opposed the S-300 sale because the system is highly effective against aircraft and some missiles. The CIA has said the S-300 missiles, which have been contracted by Tehran but not delivered, will be used to defend Iranian nuclear facilities.
A key provision in the resolution made public this week states that all U.N. member states will agree to block sales or transfers of weapons. It lists tanks, armored vehicles, artillery, combat aircraft, warships and "missiles or missile systems as defined for the purpose of the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms."
A close reading of the missile section of the register defines those included in the ban as missiles and launchers for guided rockets, and ballistic and cruise missiles, and missile-equipped remotely piloted vehicles. However, the register states that the missile system category "does not include ground-to-air missiles," such as anti-aircraft missiles and anti-missile interceptors like the S-300.
Ignored by the press...
What has been described as an “overzealous clerk” at Israel’s border crossing with Jordan refused to allow Noam Chomsky, the anti-Israel American-Jewish academic, and darling of the international Far Left, to enter the country.
Chomsky had been invited by Palestinians to lecture at Bir Zeit, one of the West Bank’s most radical universities, where incitement is rife against Israel and against Jews in general.
Israel has barred two other prominent American Jews from entering in recent months – Professor Richard Falk and Norman Finkelstein. In Falk’s and Finkelstein’s cases both had agitated in a way that could help terrorist groups and adversely affect Israel’s national security (in Finkelstein’s case arising in part from his liaisons with Hizbullah on a visit to Lebanon).
Their language is also notorious. Last year, as I pointed out at the time, Norman Finkelstein told The Tehran Times that Israel is a “vandal state,” an “insane state,” a “lunatic state,” a “terrorist state,” a “satanic state” from “the boils of hell” which “is committing a holocaust in Gaza”.
Although Chomsky has made many odious political pronouncements, and his seeming justification for various massacres during the twentieth century, notably those carried out by Communists, is repugnant, his agitation against Israel is not in the same league as Falk’s and Finkelstein’s. It was clearly a mistake of Israel to refuse him entry, as indeed the Israeli government acknowledged as much, saying Chomsky would be welcome if he returned.
Nevertheless, given how much else is happening in the world, it is still an amazing judgment by news editors to lead their world news pages with Chomsky’s non-entry into Israel as The Times of London, The New York Times-owned International Herald Tribune, and other papers did. (The Tribune printed a further editorial on it yesterday, calling the treatment of Chomsky “outrageous” and saying “Israel has lost its last remnants of tolerance” – I don’t recall them ever calling America’s killing of civilians in Afghanistan and elsewhere “outrageous”.)
Israel’s interior ministry said the official at the border crossing who had refused Chomsky entry was being reprimanded – not that most international papers mentioned this in their often hysterical stories about Israel’s behaviour.
“There is no change in our policy,” said Mark Regev, a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “The idea that Israel is preventing people from entering whose opinions are critical of the state is ludicrous; it is not happening. This was a mishap. A guy at the border overstepped his authority.”
After being barred from entering, Chomsky was quoted as comparing Israel with “Stalin’s regime.” As everyone knows (perhaps even Chomsky) Stalin murdered tens of millions of innocent people.
In contrast to the breaking news surrounding Chomsky, very few Western news outlets reported on the banning two weeks ago of British pop star Elton John from performing at a private concert in Egypt for being gay. The news was widely reported in the Middle East and by international agencies like the DPA. Elton John was forced to call off his concert there by the government-controlled Egyptian Musician Union, but will still perform in Israel, where gays are welcome.
Well, they are illegal houses....
The Hamas government in the Gaza Strip plans to raze another 180 Palestinian houses, on top of the 20 it recently demolished in the southern town of Rafah, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights charged yesterday.
The 20 houses already destroyed were home to some 150 people, who are now homeless and living in tents, the organization said.
The government said it razed the houses because they were built illegally on government land. The organization said that Hamas plans to use the same pretext to demolish houses in Khan Yunis and other towns.
Most of these houses' inhabitants are poor, the organization said, and several saw their previous houses demolished during the years of fighting with Israel.
Palestinians sources told Haaretz that the area in question, comprising around 200 dunams (some 50 acres ), had been given by the Hamas government to a charitable organization called Fadila so that it could build a religious study center there comprising a school, a college and a mosque. But when Fadila sought to begin construction, it discovered that dozens of houses had been built on the site. In most cases, these houses were built by owners whose original homes had been destroyed by the Israel Defense Forces.
Fadila applied to the Hamas government, which asked the residents to leave. When they refused, saying they had nowhere to go, the government went to court, and the court ordered them to leave. The government then began razing the houses.
Hamas halted the demolitions after they sparked outrage among ordinary Gazans and the Palestinian media. But the Palestinian Center for Human Rights fears they are slated to resume soon.
Does he realize that there is no moderate Hezbollah????
The Obama administration is looking for ways to build up "moderate elements" within the Lebanese Hezbollah guerrilla movement and to diminish the influence of hard-liners, a top White House official said on Tuesday.
John Brennan, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, met with Lebanese leaders during a recent visit.
"Hezbollah is a very interesting organization," Brennan told a Washington conference, citing its evolution from "purely a terrorist organization" to a militia to an organization that now has members within the parliament and the cabinet.
"There is certainly the elements of Hezbollah that are truly a concern to us what they're doing. And what we need to do is to find ways to diminish their influence within the organization and to try to build up the more moderate elements," Brennan said.
He did not spell out how Washington hoped to promote "moderate elements" given that the organization is branded a "foreign terrorist organization" by the United States.
I keep repeating...where are the western leaders on this???
A judge sentenced a couple to the maximum 14 years in prison for unnatural acts and gross indecency Thursday under Malawi's anti-gay legislation.
The harsh sentence had been expected in this conservative southern African country after the same judge convicted Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza earlier this week under laws dating from the colonial era.
Chimbalanga, a 20-year-old hotel janitor, and his unemployed partner were arrested Dec. 27, the day after they celebrated their engagement with a party at the hotel where Chimbalanga worked -- an apparent first in Malawi.
"These offenses carry with them a sense of shock against the morals of the Malawi society," Magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwa Usiwa said Thursday, explaining why he felt compelled to impose the harshest sentence.
Michelle Kagari, deputy Africa director of Amnesty International called the sentence "an outrage."
Her rights watchdog has adopted Chimbalanga and Monjeza as prisoners of conscience, and would "continue to campaign on this matter and to work tirelessly to see that they are released unconditionally as soon as possible," Kagari told The Associated Press by telephone from her office in Kampala, Uganda.
Mark Heywood, director of the South Africa-based AIDS Law Project called the sentence "outrageous and a violation of human rights." He said activists should hold protests around the world against Malawi.
Malawi's government has been defiant in the face of international criticism over the couple's prosecution.
Betsy Chirambo, an adviser to President Bingu wa Mutharika, expressed concern over calls by some activists for the West to withdraw aid to Malawi because of the case. Up to 40 percent of Malawi's development budget comes from foreign donors.
"It is not our culture for a man to marry a man," Chirambo said this week. "That is not even in our constitution. Some of these rights are not good for our culture."
The government has been backed by religious leaders in the country who have equated homosexuality with Satanism.
I just had to reprint this op-ed in its entirety...
The State of Israel is not on trial in the ASUC Berkeley initiative to divest from US companies that sell arms to Israel. Fair minded people realize that Israel acted in self defense in Operation Cast Lead, after withdrawing from Gaza unilaterally, watching Hamas seize power by suppressing its opposition, and then launching a war against innocent Israelis in which hundreds of daily rockets paralyzed the country's southern region. Left with no alternative, Israel's military exercised the force necessary to protect its citizens, which is how international law understands proportionality. Tragically this caused the deaths of many innocent Palestinians because Hamas cynically launched its assault from within religious, educational and medical institutions using its own civilians as human shields.
Rather, the supporters of the initiative stand accused of seeking to deny Israel the basic human right of self defense by singling out Israel rather than opposing arms sales in general; of seeking to deny Jews the right to cultural self-determination in a country of their own by minimizing Hamas treachery and supporting its aim to destroy Israel as a Jewish and democratic state; of seeking to deny Jews self respect by attributing to the Jews alone the power to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict; asserting a false analogy between democratic Israel and Apartheid South Africa; shamelessly asserting the vicious libel that the IDF intentionally targets innocent Palestinian children; and of seeking to deny supporters of Israel the right to feel welcome at their own university by ignoring hundreds of students who have complained that this initiative marginalizes them.
Supporters of divestment claim to harbor no ill will towards Jews, and that any disparaging rhetoric is unintended. But more than half of the world's Jews live in the State of Israel today, and many more identify with its cause. They embrace a national and political form of Jewish identification. To deny them this fundamental right in fact does unjustifiable harm to those Jews.
Supporters complain that it is an insult to the many Jews in favor of divestment to call it hateful. But the measure should not be granted immunity from criticism because Jews endorse it. Israel is a pluralistic society whose citizens are free to criticize their government and the Jewish community represents a diversity of opinions on most matters. It is a sign of respect for Jews who support the measure to subject their ideas to hard criticism; to do otherwise would be intellectually dishonest.
Supporters also claim that the evidence of Israel's crimes is overwhelming, endorsed by the UN Commission on Human Rights. But many organizations that claim to speak in the name of human rights, including the UN Commission which was previously headed by such serial human rights violators as Syria and Libya, have hijacked the human rights agenda to engage in a sustained, systematic and biased assault against Israel. Neither the mob nor the majority can prove that this assault is grounded in truth or justice. Only the preponderance of evidence can do this, beyond a reasonable doubt.
This question here is not about a particular group of students, but all people everywhere. For if one country is denied the right to self defense, all countries can be denied that right, if one national culture is forbidden then all cultures can be subjected to ideological discrimination, if one people is despised then all peoples can be despised, and if one group is unsafe then everyone is unsafe.
The brave student senators at Berkeley who withstood extraordinary pressure to block divestment grasped the true meaning of the struggle for free speech and social justice that began there many years ago. Their deeds embody the message of the Hebrew Prophets who called for justice to flow like a river and righteousness like a mighty stream. They deserve our sincere thanks and our deepest respect.
Hanan Alexander is Goldman Visiting Israeli Professor at UC Berkeley and Professor of Philosophy of Education, University of Haifa.
Here is what the PLO want...
Senior PLO official Nabil Shaath said Wednesday that the Palestinians must strive for the isolation of Israel in the international community, attempt to expel it from the UN and prevent a deepening of Israeli ties with the EU.
Are there links between these anarchists and radical Islamists???
However, the recent RBC attack demonstrates an escalation in the level of violence on the part of a small core group. Furthermore, over the past several years, we have seen an ongoing convergence between the "extreme left" in Canada and various radical Islamist groups. The most visible manifestation of this "convergence" could be seen at the Cairo conferences in Egypt from 2002 to 2007. The presence of Canadians from a variety of "peace and social justice" groups was a regular occurrence. The Cairo Anti-War Conference was started by the British Socialist Workers Party (Trotskyites and Fourth Internationalists) and it was attended by Hamas, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood and other extremist organizations. Why Canadian organizations felt the need to spend their money by sending individuals to this conference is a question all Canadians should be asking.
Labour MP, Denis MacShane writes to the President of Brazil Lula da Silva...
You don’t remember me but we met now and then nearly 30 years ago when you were an inspiration to labor movements around the world. Your struggle to create a strong, independent trade union in Brazil helped take your country to its democratic future.
I wrote articles about the great workers’ rights movement in the ABC region around Sao Paulo, where you organized strikes for fair pay and decent labor conditions. Proto-globalization helped you. European companies like VW and Renault had opened plants in Brazil. Your appeals for solidarity from European comrades were transmitted via the International Metalworkers Federation where I worked in exile from Margaret Thatcher’s anti-labor England. We sent over senior officials of German unions who sat on the boards of VW and Mercedes-Benz. It was one thing for Brazilian bosses to beat up Brazilian union organizers. It was another for European managers to disrespect powerful German trade-union leaders.
America’s United Autoworkers’ union also adopted you and made clear via the American labor federation that democracy in Brazil was now in your hands, not in those of the generals and oligarchs who held sway over the country. You came to Washington and I raised your case at the International Labor Organization. Don’t misunderstand me. Brazil was already en route to democracy, but you helped give it a final, decisive push.
Something similar was happening in Poland, in South Africa, and in South Korea, where worker-based organizations and independent trade unions that rejected communist and capitalist cruelties were created and helped open the way to the great democratization of the last quarter century.
That is why it is with the most profound sadness that I see you embracing the incarnation of everything that denies human rights, social justice and all the good that liberation trade unions stood for. The picture of you alongside the Iranian tyrant, President Mahmoud Ahminedejad, as if he was the best friend of democratic Brazil, has shocked all democrats around the world. This man presides over a regime that tortures, kills, imprisons and humiliates those of its citizens who dare to call for freedom and democracy. Teenagers are hanged from cranes. Street protesters are killed with impunity. Women are treated as second-class citizens and stoned to death. Writers and journalists are routinely imprisoned, their publications censured, and trade unions do not exist. Iranian gays live in terror that their sexuality will come to the notice of the fanatic, human-rights-hating clerics who rule the country with Ahmadinejad as their puppet.
Your new friend is an exterminationist who has called for the Jewish people in Israel to be wiped off the face of the earth. Your new companheiro sent rockets and bombs to Hezbollah, those terrorists and Jew-killers. He swaggers around the world threatening every democracy with his wrath. His regime is racing to obtain a nuclear bomb that would utterly destabilize the region, as Sunni powers would no doubt demand their own nuclear weapon to defend against this irrational Shia order that believes a second coming of the “Hidden Imam” and conflagration are just around the corner.
As a result, Russia faces a renewed threat from Islamist terrorism, and America and Europe have to spend billions to protect their citizens from the hate and terror encouraged and financed by your new chum.
What on earth happened to the Lula I supported and built solidarity for? I never had any illusions about Castro and the decadent, corrupt prison camp that is today’s Cuba, where writers rot in prisons and pro-democracy oppositionists like Orlando Zapata are allowed to die in jail. I did once hope that Hugo Chavez would use his charisma to make Venezuela a democracy where social justice would have more say and play. But he’s just another populist latter-day Perón. His opponents are often loathsome but his authoritarianism is not the answer.
Your global role as a champion of human rights, though, was admired everywhere. And yet, you stand with Ahminejehad, who is the negation of everything you once stood for, and everything the democracies of Europe and the rest of the world have built. Why has it come to this?
I enjoy flying in Embraer jets and support better trade and contacts with Brazil. Your great country has much to contribute to a better world, just as you once contributed to its arrival as a full, modern democracy. So why take tea with tyranny and shame your own life story?
Iran’s present leadership attacks every decent value you once represented. I still believe in those values that led me to support you against your dictators. I wish you would once again become the Lula who inspired the fighters for democracy and social justice around the world.
The Green police are coming...
A 95-year-old widow in Britain was threatened with legal action after accidentally putting an empty butter tub in the wrong recycling bag.
The woman -- who had washed 15 tins and put them in the correct bag for collection -- mistakenly put the tub in a green bag instead of a black one.
A recycling crew refused to collect the green recycling bag after spotting the empty butter tub. An official notice was also stuck to the bag at the pensioner's home in Swansea. The notice advises householders why the bag was not collected, and includes a line saying that mixing up recycling can lead to prosecution.
The son of the widow, who did not want to be named, saw the notice before his mother did and took the bag for recycling.
Karen Walters, the woman's 42-year-old granddaughter, told the South Wales Post newspaper, "She is a really law-abiding citizen. If she had seen the warning, she would have had a heart attack. It's the fact that a 95-year-old was threatened with prosecution. It's scary."
Here's a short clip from today's Ottawa Citizen:
Edmonton apartment residents might get a blast of the blues next time they lift the lid on their recycling bin. Motion sensors being mounted in about 400 blue bins will trigger a 30-second song by performer Hank Leonhardt telling people what material is acceptable. The battery-operating devices costs $10 each.Gee, what next? Can't they just leave us alone?
Looks like dangerous anarchists....
An anti-establishment group claimed responsibility for the firebombing of a Glebe bank early Tuesday morning.I never liked their silly protests at various international meetings...but this goes way too far. Thank to Vlad Tepes for the tip.
The group also vowed to “be there” at the upcoming G8 and G20 summits in an online video that shows a massive fireball exploding from the front window of a Royal Bank of Canada branch on Bank Street and First Avenue.
In the short clip, one person emerges from the branch’s side door and is then silhouetted against a vivid orange flash. Another person follows him out the door and the pair begin to head east across First.
The video abruptly cuts to scrolling text.
“The Vancouver Olympic games are over, but a torch is still burning,” the text reads.
Firefighters responded to the blaze at about 3:30 a.m. Tuesday, and had it under control just after 4 a.m. No one was injured.
The video was posted on an anti-establishment website at 11:59 a.m. Tuesday. It appears to have been shot on a handheld camera from the northwest corner of the intersection.
“Resistance continues,” the text reads. “An RBC branch can be found in every corner of Kanada (sic).”
In the next paragraph, it mentions the G8 and G20 conferences that are to take place at the end of June in Huntsville and Toronto, where “‘leaders’ and bankers (will) make decisions that will further their policies of exploitation of people and the environment.
This is just horrible....
A COURT in Malawi yesterday convicted a gay couple of gross indecency and unnatural acts in a case that has highlighted the persecution of homosexuals in Africa and drawn international condemnation.
Steven Monjeza, 26, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, who will be sentenced tomorrow, face at least a decade behind bars. They were arrested in December after testing Malawi's anti-gay laws with a public "engagement ceremony" before a wedding planned for this year.
The action outraged authorities in the deeply conservative country, one of the poorest in Africa. The men have been in prison ever since, despite an international campaign for their release and reports of maltreatment.
Judge Nyakwawa Usiwa-Usiwa, sitting in the old colonial capital of Blantyre, convicted both men of engaging in gay sex, which he said was "against the order of nature". The couple's lawyer argued that their actions had not victimised anyone.
"Unlike in a rape case, there was no complainant or victim in this case," he said. "Here are two consenting adults doing their thing in private. Nobody will be threatened or offended if they are released into society."
That argument fell on deaf ears in a country in which gays are now in hiding. Large crowds have jeered and pilloried the men on each occasion that they have been brought to court. At a previous court appearance Mr Chimbalanga, who was sick with malaria, was forced to return to the court room to mop up his vomit.
It's so-called deal with Turkey and Brazil is just smoke and mirrors...
In the long-running diplomatic battle between Iran and the West, Iran appears to have scored a victory on Monday.And, of course, Iran says they will still be enriching uranium...
By striking a deal to ship some of its low-enriched uranium abroad, Iran has created the illusion of progress in nuclear negotiations with the West, without offering any real compromise to the United States and its allies, who have demanded substantive negotiations on Tehran's broader program.
Nearly eight months ago, the United States, France and Russia proposed a swap of nuclear fuel -- to support Iran's research reactor -- as a confidence-building measure that would have, in effect, paused the Iranian program and allowed for international talks to proceed. Now, however, in reaching a similar agreement with Turkey and Brazil, Iran has succeeded in narrowing the discussion. What was supposed to be a sideshow has become the main event.
As initially laid out, the swap proposal would have removed about 70 percent of Iran's stockpile of low-enriched uranium for conversion into fuel for a nuclear reactor. But because Iran has continued to enrich uranium since the plan was first raised, a deal based on the same terms would remove only about 50 percent of the country's stockpile.
In the meantime, Iran has started enriching uranium to an even higher level -- from 3.5 percent to 19.75 percent -- and Iranian officials said they will keep doing so, even though the need for that enrichment has now been negated by the swap deal announced Monday.
The Obama administration now faces the uncomfortable prospect of rejecting a proposal it offered in the first place -- or seeing months of effort to enact new sanctions derailed.
Ironically, the swap proposal has nothing to do with the sanctions under consideration by the U.N. Security Council, which relate to Iran building another nuclear facility in secret and failing to heed previous demands to stop enriching uranium.
And the brief text of the deal makes only glancing reference to the possibility of talks with the countries that had previously led the negotiations -- the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China -- citing "the common concerns based on collective commitments according to the common points of their proposals."
Significantly, the text does not mention whether Iran's nuclear program would be on the table in future talks. Tehran, which insists the program is solely for energy purposes, has repeatedly said it is not up for discussion, and the Brazilian-Turkish deal reaffirmed Iran's right to enrich uranium and even offered the prospect of cooperation "on nuclear power plant and research reactors construction."
The text gives Iran the right to terminate the deal at any point. It also says the new fuel must be delivered within a year, which might be a technical impossibility.
He withdraws from two concerts in Israel....
It is after considerable contemplation that I have lately arrived at the decision that I must withdraw from the two performances scheduled in Israel on the 30th of June and the 1st of July.Well, bad judgement is not ususual for musicians...
One lives in hope that music is more than mere noise, filling up idle time, whether intending to elate or lament.
Then there are occasions when merely having your name added to a concert schedule may be interpreted as a political act that resonates more than anything that might be sung and it may be assumed that one has no mind for the suffering of the innocent.
I must believe that the audience for the coming concerts would have contained many people who question the policies of their government on settlement and deplore conditions that visit intimidation, humiliation or much worse on Palestinian civilians in the name of national security.
They make up an interview with their prisoner Gilad Shalit...
In yet another move possibly aimed at putting pressure on Israel to release Palestinian prisoners, Hamas on Monday published a fabricated interview with captured IDF soldier St.-Sgt. Gilad Schalit.
The interview was published in the movement's official newspaper, Falasteen. The 'interviewer,' a political commentator, wrote that he had interviewed the soldier in captivity with a translator at his side, only to wake up and realize that it was all a dream.
The writer described Schalit as looking healthy and weighing about 60 kilograms. “I am now on the verge of completing my fourth year in captivity since falling hostage to the resistance movement,” Schalit was quoted as saying in the 'interview.' “I was injured, but I underwent treatment and now I am in good health, as you can see.”
Schalit was described as looking favorably upon his Hamas captors. “It would not be an exaggeration to say that I did not expect to be treated so well,” he was quoted as saying. “We were taught at school and in the army that Arabs are murderers and criminals who ought to die … [but] they are people who have feelings and love life.”
The captors, Schalit 'said,' “treat me in a cultured and humane manner, the opposite of what has been said.” The writer ended the fabricated interview with a plea from the captured soldier to his “people,” to “help” set him free.
I love the comment below about reading between the lines...
In a fresh fatwa, Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deboand has said that Islam does not permit celebrating birthdays.
Responding to a query posed by a woman, the country's biggest Islamic seminary observed that the tradition to celebrate birthdays was started by the Jews and Christians, but Islam does not permit this practice.
The Darul Uloom Deoband has in recent days issued edicts declaring that working in banks and opting for an insurance policy was against the tenets of Islam, sparking a debate.
The seminary had also decreed that it was illegal according to the Sharia or Islamic law for a woman to work and for a family to accept a woman's earnings.
Leading Islamic body Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind's spokesman Abdul Hameed Nomani had maintained that fatwas should not be generalised and should be seen in the context in which they have been issued.
"People must read between the lines and not generalise the fatwas," Nomani had said.