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 (

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Jewish community in Venezuela shrinks by 50%...

And Chavez wants to see more Jews leave the country....
If someone were to rank the most embattled Jewish communities in the world today, the Jewish community of Venezuela would certainly be high on that list. Over the past decade the community has shrunk by half its size.

“Ten years ago we had about 18,000 members,” said Salomon Cohen. “Now we have about 9,500.”

Cohen, head of the Confederacion de Asociaciones Israelitas de Venezuela (CAIV), an umbrella group representing the South American country’s Jewish community, spoke with The Jerusalem Post Tuesday on the sidelines of the World Jewish Congress.

The 55-year-old leader of the Jewish community cited three main causes for the community’s current state.

“First, the economy is not going like it was 10 years before,” he said.

“Second, security in general is very, very bad. We have too many killers in Venezuela.”

Indeed, violent crime is a major issue plaguing Venezuela. According to recent reports the number of civilian deaths in Venezuela in 2009 was approximately 19,000, almost three times higher than that in Iraq.

The third factor cited by Cohen was anti-Semitic attacks on the Jewish community.

“We had about 200 attacks on the community,” Cohen said. “When they want to speak about Venezuela negatively they call it the ‘Israel of South America,’ for instance.”

Part of the problem is that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is a strong ally of Iran, an avowed enemy of Israel. Chavez is a strong critic of Israeli policy and severed ties with Jerusalem in 2009.

Anti-Israel sentiment is widespread and supported by the state. In the halftime of the recent soccer World Cup final, local television aired an ad which showed soccer players wearing jerseys with Israel and Zionist emblazoned on them on a soccer pitch with Palestinian women and children.

“This is not a game, this is a massacre,” the ad declared.

The director Oliver Moan...

Terrorist attack in Israel....

Gee, are Fatah and Hamas blaming each other...or trying to take the credit???
Terrorists murdered four Jewish civilians in a shooting attack at the Bani Naim junction just south of Hevron Tuesday evening. Emergency service paramedics could do nothing to save the victims whose bodeis were riddled with numerous bullets. The terrorists reportedly made sure their victims were dead by shooting them from close range after the initial fusillade.

According to report on Channel 2 television, the victims are two couples, and one of them is a pregnant woman. The IDF is combing the area, searching for the terrorists.

Initial reports said one of the victims had a license for a firearm that was suspended shortly before the attack.

Hamas and Fatah are blaming each other for the terror attack.

200 vessel convoy to Gaza????

This sounds like pure bravado....
Sixteen non-governmental organisations (NGOs) under the Lifeline For Gaza (LL4G) are collecting RM7mil for a humanitarian aid mission to Gaza in November.

LL4G chairman Dr Noorazman Mohd Samsuddin said the NGOs hope to collect the amount in two months via several programmes including a mammoth rally for Palestine at Bukit Jalil Stadium in October.

"A charity dinner for corporations, charity sale, talks, campaigns and collection via SMS will also be held," he said after launching the 'Malaysian Humanitarian Voyage' exhibition and campaign here Monday.

He said money collected would be used to buy a vessel for the mission, medicine, educational tools, basic needs and building materials for wells, operating theatres, dialysis and trauma centres.

Malaysians' involvement with the last flotilla had attracted volunteers from Asean members Brunei, Thailand, Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia and European countries to join this convoy.

"The attack on Mavi Marmara made the world community realise atrocities committed by Israel's zionist regime and that it should be tried."

Noorazman said the mission would be prepared for attacks with strategies, doctors and sophisticated media communication system for global broadcasting and to monitor vessel movement.

The convoy of over 200 vessels will involve some 600 international NGOs.

The NGOs include Aman Malaysia, Haluan Malaysia, Dewan Pemuda Masjid, Yayasan Amal Malaysia, Pertubuhan Mawaddah Malaysia, Muslim Care Malaysia, Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (ABIM) and Viva Palestin Malaysia.

Meeting for the first time...

Ye old Arafat gift shoppe....

I wonder if you can order via the web....
When Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 it sparked the most serious political division in Palestinian history. But you might not realize that from a visit to Gaza City’s “Chairman Arafat Gift Shop.”

It is the only souvenir shop in the Gaza Strip and may be the only one in the world that sells both olive-wood rosary beads and scarves emblazoned with the logo of the militant group Islamic Jihad. Owner Tareq Abu Dayyeh says the eclectic shop has been around since 2000.

Some of his souvenirs are apolitical, but others demonstrate an equal opportunity approach to Palestinian politics, with neat rows of brightly colored T-shirts, banners, scarves, and headbands devoted to warring factions such as Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Mr. Dayyeh says he has never had a problem.

“Everyone comes in and shops and thinks it is all very funny,” he says, pointing to a poster of the deceased former leaders of Fatah and Hamas, Yasser Arafat, and Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, smiling in front of Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock. Mr. Arafat wears a checkered kaffiyeh while the sheikh wears a green baseball cap.

Most of the customers used to be foreigners or have lived abroad. But because of the three-year-long siege after Hamas took power, that crowd has been scarce. “I hope it will get better soon,” says Dayyeh.

Good Hamas rockets....

Nice way to start off the day...
Hamas has completed a series of experiments on its advanced Fajar rocket, which has a range of almost 80 kilometers (roughly 50 miles) and can as far Kfar Saba, northeast of Tel Aviv, experts say.

In a few months, Hamas will be able to begin manufacturing the rockets, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Tuesday.

The progress made by the Gaza group on the rocket front is huge, considering that Hamas' original Qassam rockets had a range of around 1.5 km (roughly 1 mile.)

The long-range rockets acquired by Hamas are of the Fajar-5 type, and it is believed that they arrived in the Strip via the Sinai peninsula.

Israel believes that the rockets were developed by scientists working for the organization and for research institutes located in Arab countries in the region that have been working non-stop to arm Hamas in Gaza.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Jews starting to leave Turkey....

A warning sign.....
About a week ago, Turkish Jews invited about 200 Muslims to break the Ramadan fast at the main synagogue in Istanbul. The response was overwhelming, and even Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbas, a supporter of the Jews, was present at the event.

"I have many Jewish friends even back from my studies," he said to those present. "The recent events are not only difficult for Israel, but also for us Turks. I ask of you to tell the Israelis to return to our country. It is a mistake to think that the Turks will not accept the Israelis with cordiality."

Topbas' warm words on Turkish Jewry's contributions to his country did not mitigate the concerns of the Jews present. "We all live in fear," said one of them in the presence of the distinguished guest. "The street is affected by what happens in politics, and we are on the brink of desperation from life here. We love Turkey, but will not be able to live so long in fear."

There are currently 17,000 Jews living in Turkey. Most of them live in Istanbul and Ankara, with smaller concentrations in Izmir, Adana, Bursa, and a number other smaller cities.

The Marmara raid, which prompted many Turks to take to the streets, did not leave the Jews many options. "The situation has not calmed down, but has only gotten worse. The Jews feel isolated," one participant expressed a sentiment shared by many Jews in the community.

The Jewish Agency and the Israeli government have tried for decades to convince the Jews of Turkey to move to Israel. However, they felt safe in Turkey and few immigrated. Ever since the flotilla incident and the anti-Israeli statements made by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, however, the situation has changed.

"Eighty-five Jews immigrated in the first half of this year," said Jack Aboursi, chairman of the Organization for Turkish Immigrants in Israel. "Turkey has already become a country in which it is not good to live as a Jew. There is anti-Semitism, and the street is very affected by the prime minister's inflammatory statements. I used to visit Turkey a few times a year, but it has been two years since I have visited. Nor do I see myself visiting."

Refael Saadi, 55, one of Erdogan's classmates, is also hurt by the situation. "Most of the Jews of Turkey made a living in textile. But recently there is a feeling that they are trying to take the textile industry from the Jews. The Turks decided to damage Jews' incomes so they would flee.

"There has been a large emigration wave in recent years. If about 100 people would typically move to Israel every year, the wave has increased and many more are looking into the option of making aliyah. I told Erdogan there is anti-Semitism in his country, but he rejected my remarks claiming they are empty words. Despite his denial, the Jews feel horrible."

Nissim Yochai, 54, a successful textile businessman, immigrated to Israel on Friday with his wife and son. "It's a scary situation," he said. "I think that in another five years, there won't be any Jews remaining in Turkey. It is a community in serious distress, not just politically, but economically as well. Most of the Muslims tend not to buy from Jewish shops, especially in textiles.

"In the period when Israelis were coming to Turkey en masse, we had buyers, and we felt very safe. We spoke a little bit of Hebrew, and we heard from them about experiences in Israel. Now, they also have decided not to come, and we are left by ourselves. Turkey is moving towards Iran. Therefore, most of the community wants to get out before it's too late."

Dutch police arrest two men on arrival at Schiphol airport...

Not that much information is out yet...
Dutch airport police have confirmed that two men have been arrested in Amsterdam after their arrival from Chicago, as American media said the men had been charged with "preparation of a terrorist attack."

"Two men were arrested at the request of the judicial police" Monday morning at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport, Robert van Kapel, spokesman for the airport police, told AFP early Tuesday.

"The two were arrested on board a plane from Chicago," he added but said he was unable to give any more details because an inquiry was underway. The Dutch prosecution service could not be reached for comment.

America's ABC News identified the men as Ahmed Mohamed Nasser al-Soofi and Hezam al-Murisi, and said Soofi was from Yemen, citing one of the man's neighbors.

The men were apparently allowed to board a United Airlines flight from Chicago, Illinois to Amsterdam despite a slew of security concerns, beginning in Birmingham, Alabama, where Soofi appears to have started his journey.

Hezbollah opens a museum in Lebanon...

I can't wait till the cable cars are fucntioning....
A new tourist attraction in southern Lebanon is causing controversy. It's dedicated to the political party and Shi'ite militia Hezbollah, which controls large swaths of southern Lebanon. Hezbollah fought a month-long war with Israel in 2006, firing deadly rockets at Israeli towns and cities. The museum opened three months ago and already has attracted more than 300,000 visitors. Some critics, though, say it's pure propaganda.

The tanks on display once belonged to the Israeli army. They were abandoned by Israeli soldiers and are now museum pieces, just a few of the so called attractions at Lebanon's Resistance Museum in the mountain town of Mlita. The museum was built by the militant Shi'ite group Hezbollah on a hilltop about 90 kilometers from the Israeli border.

Guns, ammunition, and other equipment, dating to Israel's 1978 incursion into Lebanon, are meticulously displayed, along with detailed maps of former Israeli military positions, and flowcharts of its army's rankings.

Mohammad Kawtharani, a spokesman for Hezbollah, said, "The history of the people of this country is filled up with disasters and sadness and celebrating and taking hope is something new that we are trying to establish."

The museum cost more than $4 million. It extends more than 60,000 square meters and includes a hilltop forest that Hezbollah fighters once occupied, their likenesses re-created. Many of their original weapons remain intact.

A bunker once used as a war room is displayed, and tourists are encouraged to pray where former Hezbollah Chief Sayyed Abbas Moussawi once sat. He was assassinated by Israel in 1992.

One tourist brought her two children. She said the museum is a great honor. "I came to see the resisters, their lives, how they sat, how they fought, how they defeated Israel, how they sacrificed their lives for us."

In the 2006 war, more than 1,200 people in Lebanon were killed and Israel flattened several villages in southern Lebanon before agreeing to a UN-backed ceasefire.

Not all Lebanese are happy with the museum. Lokman Sleem, director of Hayya Bina, a pro democracy organization, says the museum sanitizes war and is polarizing.

"There is no trace of pain, no trace of suffering, of how much war could be awful," said Sleem. "It's a kind of superman land."

Sleem says many secular Lebanese also died fighting the Israelis, which Hezbollah doesn't address.

Israel has condemned such museums, saying they promote hatred.

Kawtharani says the museum eventually will expand to include a hotel, restaurant, swimming pool and cable car.

PA threatens war over Jerusalem...

Bruce Bawer on the Ground Zero Mosque...

I've stayed away from the controversy, but Bruce's essay is well worth reading...
The principal argument made by these defenders of Park51 is that Imam Rauf is a moderate and a “bridge-builder.” In Time magazine, Bobby Ghosh describes Rauf and his wife, Daisy, as “the kind of Muslim leaders right-wing commentators fantasize about: modernists and moderates who openly condemn the death cult of al-Qaeda and its adherents.” But anyone who has followed the spread of Islam in Europe over the last decade or so has repeatedly seen imams identified as “moderate” and as “bridge-builders” only to learn that they are anything but. We have been told a thousand times, for example, notably by former London mayor Ken Livingstone, that Yusuf al-Qaradawi is a moderate bridge-builder, when in fact he supports the death penalty prescribed by sharia law for apostates, rape victims, and gays. Western intellectuals and journalists have applied the term “bridge-builder” countless times to Tariq Ramadan, who purports to represent a liberal, reformed “Euro-Islam” but who, as Paul Berman, Caroline Fourest, and others have conclusively demonstrated, shares the extremely illiberal views of his theological mentor, Qaradawi, and of his illustrious grandfather, Hassan al-Banna, founder of the terrifying Muslim Brotherhood.

Over the years we have been told that this or that mosque is “moderate” only to see videotapes of sermons, filmed with hidden cameras, in which gays, Jews, and infidels are compared to pigs and dogs and described as deserving of death. We have been told that this or that mosque is “moderate” only to have undercover reporters discover that it has connections to terrorist groups and that its library is full of books advocating violent jihad.

“Moderate”? As Douglas Murray notes, “No major Islamic leader in the world today preaches a message even remotely close to what most of the new American ‘let’s build the mosque’ crew would find even barely tolerable.” So it was that when the mosque controversy began, my years-long experience with claims about “moderate imams” led me to view the statements about Rauf’s moderation with great suspicion. And indeed, as the days and weeks have gone by, more and more information has surfaced that, to put it as mildly as possible, raises serious questions about Rauf’s theology. For example, it turns out that he has refused to condemn Hamas (Ghosh refers to this, absurdly, as a “perceived reluctance to condemn Hamas”), that in comments he made in the wake of the Madrid and London bombings he seemed primarily concerned with dodging the uncomfortable truth about the perpetrators, that he is an admirer of Qaradawi, and that he strongly supports the tyrannical religious government of Iran. Any of these facts alone should be enough to silence the claptrap about Rauf’s moderation and love of American liberty. Though Christopher Hitchens supports allowing the mosque, even he has written about Rauf that “the more one reads through his statements, the more alarming it gets.”

Still, virtually the entire media establishment in the United States has rushed to stand shoulder to shoulder with this dubious figure – and to slander as bigots those who have dared to question his motives or criticize his religion.
But, go and read the whole thing...

More PA Television...

Qaddafi gives lesson on Islam to models in Italy...

It doesn't get much weirder than this...
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi gave a lesson on Islam and copies of the Quran to a few hundred young Italian women Sunday as he arrived in Rome for his fourth visit in a year.

It was the second time the Libyan leader, who travels with female bodyguards and fancies himself a self-styled feminist, had staged such an event for Italian women, who were recruited by a modeling agency and paid an undisclosed sum to attend.

Michela, who asked that her last name not be used, told Associated Press Television News that three of the participants converted to Islam on the spot.

"It was a really beautiful meeting and went very well," she said. "He is very easygoing and he gave us a copy of the Quran. Three girls converted themselves to Islam during the ceremony. It was a beautiful event."

Other participants, though, identifying themselves as Roman Catholics in this overwhelmingly Catholic country, said Gaddafi had urged others to convert and had dismissed Christianity as unimportant.

Between 200 and 500 young women attended, arriving in 10 buses at the Libyan ambassador's residence just as Gaddafi's plane was landing at Rome's Ciampino airport at the start of a two-day visit.

The visit, amid steadily improving business ties between Libya and its former colonial ruler, also marks the second anniversary of a friendship treaty in which Italy agreed to pay Libya $5 billion as compensation for its 30-year occupation, which ended in 1943.

When Gaddafi was in Italy in November for a UN food summit, he hosted 200 young Italian women who had been recruited and paid 50 euros (about $75) by the same modeling agency to attend. Then, too, he gave a lecture on Islam and handed out copies of the Quran.

This time around, the women wouldn't say how much they had been paid, only that they had received a small "reimbursement."

During his first visit to Italy in June, 2009, Gaddafi invited 700 prominent Italian businesswomen and female politicians to listen to a lecture in which he criticized Islam's treatment of women but also suggested male relatives should decide if a woman can drive.
I wonder how the private meetings went...

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Egyptian forces find another missile, TNT in Gaza....

Some more information on the weapons found in the Sinai...
Egyptian police raided three arms depots in the central Sinai Peninsula Saturday containing nearly 200 surface-to-air missiles apparently headed for Gaza, the Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported.
Palestinian in Rafah tunnel AP April 2009

Israeli sources confirmed the report and said a considerable number of similar armaments had probably already been transported through Sinai to Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other Islamist militant groups.

Israeli sources said the weapons appear to be Russian-made SA-7 missiles. The missile, commonly known as the Strela, is not generally considered a highly advanced weapon, but its very presence in Gaza could have far-reaching implications for Israeli air mobility over the coastal territory.

The quantity of missiles in the depots seems to indicate that Palestinian terror groups possess a higher number of projectiles than previously thought, and that in any renewed fighting with Israel, may try to shoot down not only military helicopters and fighter jets, but also civilian aircraft such as crop dusters.

Game changer

Hamas has often touted the depth of its homemade, short-range Qassam rockets, but has not yet said whether its arsenal also includes anti-aircraft weapons like the SA-7. The group's military wing, the Iz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, has never confirmed it has long-range missiles, which with their 60-kilometer range could strike at the greater Tel Aviv area.

According to Ma'an, one of the arms caches, containing 100 missiles, was uncovered in Al-Hasana in the northern Sinai. A second depot of 90 projectiles was discovered in the central Ad-Daqqaq region, and a third, containing 1,500 bullets of various calibers, was found in nearby Nakhl.

The news agency reported that Egyptian forces also uncovered several secret weapons stashes in the city of Rafah, just three kilometers from the Egypt-Gaza border, that included around 10 anti-tank mines. They also found two stores of machine guns and explosives in Sheikh Zuwayid.

In recent months, Egypt has stepped up its operations in the Gaza border region, and nearly every week reports emerge of Egyptian forces unearthing weapons-smuggling tunnels into Gaza.

One of Cairo's deepest concerns is that Iran and Syria - the chief sources of weapons bound for Gaza - could arm radical Islamist factions in the Sinai Peninsula against President Hosni Mubarak's government. Israeli experts also believe that Tehran and Damascus have sent the ordnance in a bid to give Hamas more advanced weapons of the kind employed by Hezbollah.

Meanwhile, Egyptian Bedouin and Palestinian tunnel operators in the Rafah area have been able to penetrate Egypt's so-called iron wall in several places, and through it, to dig tunnels for continued weapons smuggling.

The Palestinian news agency SAFA recently released photographs of smugglers using welding equipment to pierce large holes in the wall, even removing several large iron plates. The wall, built along the Philadelphi Route dividing Sinai and Gaza, has been at the center of Egypt's attempts to stem the illicit transport of weapons.

Iran to replace google with "Oh Lord"....

Oh, I am sure this search engine will be popular!I
t all began in the early 1990’s with Internet search engine startups like Excite, Galaxy, Lycos and Webcrawler.

Then Yahoo and Alta Vista moved in, followed only a few years later by what would become the neighborhood bully: Google.

Now Iran would like to introduce the new kid on the block...

Ladies and Gentelmen, please welcome ‘Oh Lord,’ a homegrown Iranian search engine sure to highlight very high resolution photos of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the regretful testimony of green movement opposition activists.

Hadi Malek-Parast, Director General for Research and Development at the Iranian Information Technology Company, told the Iranian Mehr News Agency on Sunday that Iran has started developing a national search enginged dubbed ‘Ya Haq’, a Persian expression meaning “Oh Lord.”

Speaking of the need for faster search capacity and higher security for the country’s online communications, Malek-Parast said Ya Haq would be ready to launch in 2012 and referred to the project as a domestic Intranet, as opposed to an international Internet.

“They are not just developing a search engine, they want to develop an Intranet, instead of an Internet, which would be some kind of local Internet and only give access to state institutions and internally approved sites,” Pujan Ziaie, a senior IT strategist in Iran’s ‘green’ opposition movement told The Media Line. “The discussion began a few years ago and is based on a feeling that the Internet is a Western weapon. They are threatened by it but they cannot ignore it so they are trying to imitate what China has done.”

“The problem,” Ziaie said,” is that the infrastructure, knowledge and technicians are all not there to do this properly, at least not for the next few years.”

Niusha Boghrati, an Iranian online journalist, argued that despite the official reasoning, the Iranian Intranet would boost the government’s surveillance capacities.

“The official reasons they give for such a project is it’s cheap, faster and more secure in terms of data,” he told The Media Line. “But they are trying to replace Google and Yahoo and create a parallel Internet in order to have more surveillance on the Internet users of Iran. They are certain to follow this with a launch of a national email service.”

Boghrati said the announcement was a direct response to last year’s unrest following the disputed reelection of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“After the protests, the government tried very hard to curb online communications,” he said. “But with these new secure formats that Google and Yahoo have launched, it has become much more difficult for Iranian intelligence to monitor civil society.”

Dr Mehrdad Khonsari, a former Iranian diplomat, now Senior Research Consultant at the Centre for Arab and Iranian Studies, argued that the announcement should be seen in light of a larger Iranian attempt to prove the country’s independence.

“There are two things going on,” he told The Media Line. “One is the fact that they are anxious to be able to filter any electronic communications in any conceivable way that they can, or at least to scare people into believing they are capable of doing this, so that they enter the process of self censorship. Another is to portray this image that they are punching above their weight in trying to convince people that they are able to do things that they are not.”

Swedish cosmetics firm tries to topple Iranian regime.... kind of cosmetics company...
Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi accused Swedish cosmetics firm Oriflame on Saturday of trying to harm Iran's security after five of its employees were arrested amid allegations of espionage.

"Oriflame intended to fight the (Iranian) system. There are no economic reasons behind the company," Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi was quoted by state television as telling reporters at the Imam Khomeini mausoleum in Tehran.

"We realised through the evidence that the arrogance (Western powers) and intelligence agencies sought to create security problems for the country through this company," he said.

In Stockholm, an Oriflame representative said the firm is not involved in any political activities.

"We are a cosmetics company, we are selling direct. We are of course not involved in any political activities in the country (Iran). It is very very difficult to comment on" the accusations, chief financial officer Gabriel Bennet told AFP.

Iranian authorities on August 22 closed the Tehran office of the direct-sales cosmetics firm and arrested five of its employees amid allegations that it was running a pyramid scheme and was possibly backed by a spy agency.

One of those being held is a dual Swedish-Iranian national.

Oriflame says it has not yet received information as to why its office was shuttered and its employees detained.

"It's very difficult to comment on this because we don't know why our colleagues have been detained, we don't know why the company has been shut down," Bennet said.

"We are seeking a dialogue with the authorities but we need to know more about why we are in this situation before we can make any comments.

"We are doing our utmost to solve the situation in Iran and especially for our colleagues being detained," he added.

Moslehi's latest charge comes just days after he accused firms such as Oriflame of being backed by intelligence agencies.

"These companies operate with outside support and are not engaged in economic activities. They are under the guidance of spy agencies," he said on Wednesday.

Bennet said last Monday Oriflame believed the closure and arrests may be linked to its business model.

He told AFP then that the firm's business model was to "sell cosmetics and give 40,000 Iranians, mainly women, a possibility to earn money through direct sales."

Vandals attack Israeli cosmetics store....

Is nothing sacred?
An Israeli skin care shop has had red paint thrown across its windows in a suspected targeted attack.

The Ahava store – famous for its Dead Sea products – was covered in the paint during the incident in Covent Garden, central London, on Wednesday night.

Staff discovered the damage when they arrived for work on Thursday morning.

Shop assistant Rita Trindad said: “We don’t know exactly what happened. I came in this morning and there was red paint all over the windows. We cleaned the windows this afternoon and we are still open – it’s business as usual.”

She said the attack had been reported to police who are now investigating.

The Ahava store has been the scene of regular anti-Israel demonstrations. Neighbouring shopkeepers have repeatedly called police as protestors have driven customers away and disrupted business in the busy shopping area.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Check it out on TicketWeb - Crossing, a film about North Korea at Library & Archives Canada - Auditorium on 09/14/10

Check it out on TicketWeb - Crossing, a film about North Korea at Library & Archives Canada - Auditorium on 09/14/10

Fulford on Martin Gilbert's new book....

His new book is a history of Jews in Islamic lands...
One of the 2002 Bali bombers, Amrozi bin Nurhasin, on trial in an Indonesian courtroom and headed toward execution, shouted out the message he wanted his crime to convey: “Jews: Remember Khaibar. The army of Muhammad is coming back to defeat you.”

This was his explanation of the murder of 202 people eight years ago. Of those who died, 88 were Australians, 38 Indonesians, 24 British. None were Jews. So what was Amrozi, a Java-born Indonesian, raving about? It’s a question worth considering as we assess the recent arrests for terrorist conspiracy in Ottawa. Islamic terrorists can finds motives in ancient struggles the rest of the world long ago forgot.

Martin Gilbert, the author of some 80 books, including the official biography of Winston Churchill, explains Amrozi’s meaning at the start of his alarming chronicle, In Ishmael’s House: A History of Jews in Muslim Lands, published this week.

Amrozi was remembering an event 1,375 years in the past, when Muhammad attacked Jewish farmers living in the oasis community of Khaibar, in what is now Saudi Arabia. More than 600 Jews were killed and the survivors lost all their property and had to pledge half of their future crops to Muhammad.

Today, few Jews know the word Khaibar. But among certain Muslims it has permanent resonance. Khaibar set a precedent, endorsed by the actions of the Prophet. After Khaibar, non-Muslims who were conquered had to give up their property and pay heavy permanent tribute to their Muslim overseers. That form of discrimination lasted for centuries. It was this incident and its aftermath that nourished Amrozi’s homicidal ambition.

Muslims love to recall that Jews once lived in peace among them. Of course, Jews were always second-class citizens, their rights sharply limited. Still, it was sometimes better than settling among Christians. Bernard Lewis, a major authority on Islam, says that Jewish lives under Islam were never as bad as in Christendom at its worst, or as good as in Christendom at its best.

In the 20th century, Arab hostility to Jews took an ugly turn. Some claim that the new state of Israel “caused” the trouble. But well before Israel’s creation in 1948, Arabs were identifying Jews as enemies.

In 1910, in the now-Iranian city of Shiraz, mobs robbed and destroyed 5,000 Jewish homes, with the encouragement of soldiers. In 1922, in Yemen, an old decree permitting the forcible conversion of Jewish orphans to Islam was reintroduced. The government searched towns and villages for children without fathers, so that they could be given Muslim instruction. The children were chained and imprisoned till they agreed to convert. In 1936 in Iraq, under Nazi influence, Jews were limited by quota in the public schools, Hebrew teaching was banned in Jewish schools and Jewish newspapers were shut down.

Anti-Semitism intensified when Israel was created, and grew still worse after Israel won the Six-Day War of 1967. By the 1970s, about 800,000 Jews, perhaps more, had been forcibly exiled from Arab countries, their property seized. According to the World Organization of Jews from Arab Countries (WOJAC), they lost property now valued at well over $100-billion.

This is our future...

David Harris on the years we have wasted in not putting in place a system to vet immigrants and refugees...
This is your future. That was my wretched thought on behalf of Canadians as I watched Thursday's Project Samossa news conference.

Samossa was the major national security investigation that erupted this week in counterterrorism raids and the arrest of four Muslim-Canadians. The government's charges against three of them imply a wealth of evidence that will shock the conscience of Canadians.

These charges and limited revelations suggest that we could be front-row witnesses to the most vile of manifestations of the Islamist jihad in this country. The allegation is that people living among us and enjoying the immense privileges of Canadian citizenship, are siding with enemy forces aiming to kill and maim our boys and girls serving in Afghanistan -- and maybe residents of Ottawa and other Canadian centres, too.

We shouldn't be surprised.

The Toronto 18 showed us the savagery of the 7th-century war that is being imported into our 21st-century neighbourhoods. Defendants included those who should have been a credit to educated youth. From some we would have expected gratitude of immigrants who had been welcomed to a gentle and generous nation. Canadians' reward was instead a conspiracy to rent Toronto with explosives, and blast our Parliament with invasion and a prime ministerial beheading.

Further hints -- and only hints -- of our growing predicament come from a series of recent convictions.

Think of Momin Khawaja, the handsome Department of Foreign Affairs software consultant and moonlighter in international bomb-making. Then there was Said Namouh, Quebec-based Moroccan bomb-plotter, and the Groupe Fatah Kamel, which drove a French counterterror magistrate to pin Canada as an international centre of North African Islamic extremism.

These threats were headed off by good luck and good security work, but are auguries of future violence, economy-defying instability and further pressure on civil liberties.

But why must this be our future? Because we refuse to heed warnings, learn basic lessons and act in a responsible way to preserve our well-being.

To understand this in the context of Islamic radicalism is to account properly for the main sources of Canada's escalating extremism. These sources are immigration and refugee influxes, and the homegrown extremist phenomenon.

Liberal politicians long ago turned immigration and refugee streams into vote-importing mechanisms. Conservatives continue to do so at the expense of Canadians' safety and tens of billions in net per annum immigration costs, plus attendant and overwhelming security costs. So pronounced is the pathology that not even a terrible recession could prevent Immigration Minister Jason Kenney from hiking immigration and refugee levels from what were already roughly the highest per capita in the world. These levels are too great to allow for reliable vetting in a world where war and ideological struggles rage, and we are a target.

Then there is the near-intractable problem of homegrown or self-radicalizing extremism. Here, we need vigorous efforts by Muslims to take up the work of Dr. Tawfik Hamid and others. They must interpret constructively the portions of the Koran and Hadiths that are routinely invoked to justify brutalizing infidels and non-radical Muslims. This requires challenging those people who embrace the Koranic interpretative doctrine of abrogation by which later militant "sword verses" can supersede earlier, more open and charitable verses.

As part of this, we must put a halt to Saudi funding and similar fundamentalist influence in Canada's Islamic and other institutions. Most emphatically, Islamist front organizations and fellow-travelling "Islamic rights" groups should be barred from the legitimizing table of security outreach.

The full story of Israel's bombing of the Syrian reactor...

From an upcoming book...
London, end of July 2007. A guest at a large Lexington hotel left his room in the evening, took the elevator down to the lobby, and stepped into a vehicle waiting for him outside. He was a senior Syrian official who arrived from Damascus a short while earlier and rushed to a meeting downtown.

The moment he left the hotel, two men rose from their seats at the corner of the lobby. They stepped into the elevator, reached the guest's room, and opened the door using keys. They searched the room professionally but did not need to work too hard. The Syrian's laptop was right on the desk. The two men installed a Trojan Horse - spyware that created a "backdoor" to the computer. Using this door, it became possible to monitor the computer remotely and copy all the material saved on it. Within minutes, the two men left the room.

The above story, and the information to follow, is based on both foreign and Israeli reports. The laptop provided Mossad with invaluable information, which for the first time exposed Syria's secret nuclear program. The findings were stunning: The blueprints of a nuclear reactor in the Dir al-Zur area; correspondence with North Korean officials; photographs showing the reactor covered with cement. The evidence was unequivocal. It complemented other information accumulated during 2006 and 2007 by Israel's top intelligence officials. According to this information, the Syrian government secretly built a nuclear reactor in the desert, near the Turkish border and roughly 100 miles from the Iraq border. Officials were surprised to discover that the reactor was constructed with Iranian funding and with the help of North Korean experts.

The "love affair" between Syria and North Korea started with the Korean prime minister's visit to Syria before the Gulf War, on then-President Hafez Assad's invitation. The two countries signed a military and technological cooperation agreement. Although the nuclear issue was brought up, Assad decided to put it aside and make do with developing chemical and biological weapons. During his father's funeral in June 2000, Bashar Assad met with members of the North Korean delegation. At that time, they started to secretly push forward the construction of the Syrian reactor. In July 2002, a three-way deal was finalized, with an Iranian representative pledging to finance the reactor's construction (roughly $2 billion.) As it turns out, for five years Israel's and America's intelligence agencies were in the dark.

During those years, some warning signs emerged, yet nobody took notice. The American intelligence community misinterpreted the information it received, while Mossad and Military Intelligence officials in Israel estimated that the Syrians have no interest in or ability to acquire nuclear weapons. Hence, nobody bothered to look for information that would shatter the "conception." The Syrians adopted another tactic meant to lull Israel and the US into a false sense of security: They enforced a complete communication moratorium on all employees and experts at the nuclear site. Cellular and satellite phones were banned, and all communication was undertaken via messengers. The activity at the site was not exposed even though American and Israeli satellites photographed it regularly. However, a subsequent dramatic development stunned both Israel and the US.

On February 7, 2007, Iranian General Ali Reza Askari, formerly a senior Revolutionary Guard official and deputy defense minister, arrived in Damascus from Tehran. He stayed in the Syrian capital until he ensured his family was on its way out of Iran, before continuing to Turkey and disappearing in Istanbul. A month later, it turned out that Askari defected to the West in an operation planned by the US in conjunction with Israel. He was questioned in a US base in Europe – apparently in Germany – and revealed some of Tehran's and Damascus' deepest secrets. Askari exposed the three-way relationship involving Syria, North Korea, and Iran. He told his interrogators that Tehran was encouraging and funding the establishment of the Syrian nuclear reactor. He provided further details about the reactor's condition and about the Iranians assisting and advising the Syrians.

The information prompted Israel to go into operational alert. The Mossad earmarked manpower and resources to verify the details provided by the Iranian general. Then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert convened Israel's security chiefs for a special meeting; during the session they agreed that Israel must act urgently to acquire credible proof of the reactor's existence. It was clear to all that Israel could not accept the prospect of Syria, its bitter, belligerent rival, turning into a nuclear power. Within a few months, Mossad and Military Intelligence chiefs were able to present the prime minister with the incriminating evidence he sought. Five months after Askari's defection, the search took its next turn: The material uncovered in the Syrian official's computer in London. Meanwhile, Mossad registered another success: It managed to recruit one of the reactor's employees, who provided numerous photographs and a video shot inside the building gradually taking shape.
There's a lot more to read....

190 anti-aircraft missiles found in Sinai....

On their way to Hamas...
Egypt has prevented a shipment of antiaircraft missiles and explosives from entering Gaza. Security forces uncovered stores of ammunition in the northern Sinai Peninsula, probably intended to be smuggled into the Strip.

Palestinian news agency Maan reported that Egyptian police exposed a hidden arms arsenal containing explosives, in a desolate area near at the center of the peninsula.

The storage contained 100 antiaircraft missiles, which were meant to be smuggled into the Strip through a network of tunnels. Egyptian authorities also seized 90 antiaircraft rockets in another arms cache in the central city of al-Hasna.

Egyptian forces raided Rafah on its Egyptian side, as well as the town of Sheikh Zuwayid, where additional arsenals with explosives and automatic weapons were uncovered.

According to the report, one of the weapons cache contained 10 antitank demolition charges, which were also designated for the Gaza Strip.

Top prize for Hitler at Austrian school...

What was this teacher thinking of???
The head teacher of an Australian school has issued an apology after awarding a child dressed as Adolf Hitler a prize for best costume.

At a fancy dress event at the Catholic primary school in Perth a pupil arrived dressed as the Nazi leader. Staff judged the costume, complete with swastika, as worthy of first place in the competition.

After parents complained about the decision the school sent out a letter of explanation, describing the costume and prize as “inappropriate.”

But the head teacher said it was not “sinister” as the children had been asked to dress as a well-known figure.

He said: “Hitler was a fairly famous person.”

The head teacher said “in retrospect” he would have acted differently, but added: "To me it's a mountain out of a molehill. I just think it's a one-off thing.”

Friday, August 27, 2010

In praise of corruption....

An interesting take on Afghanistan...and as a bonus, the article quotes Terry Glavin (whose blog is a must-read....)
Terry Glavin, the cofounder of the Canadian-Afghanistan Solidarity Committee and a firm supporter of Western intervention in Afghanistan, tells a joke that has made the rounds in Kabul. The United Nations, sick of the corruption that is rife in the Afghan government, demands that Karzai clean things up. “Of course, of course,” Karzai replies. Then he whispers, “How much will you pay me to do it?”

Read almost any article criticizing the war in Afghanistan for The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, or The New Republic and you will quickly come upon the complaint that the Afghan government is hopelessly corrupt: that the United States is in bed with a gang of thieves and drug dealers. “Karzai and corruption” is practically a trope of public debate. Google the two terms and you get over one million results. And the recent Wikileaks dump has only reinforced this idea with its stories of bribery and extortion.

But forgive me if I register some skepticism about the motives of these critics. I think many of them care less about corruption than about getting out of Afghanistan, and they are fixated on corruption simply as a way to further that cause. Even more important, I think they do not understand a crucial point: Corruption can in fact help us in our battle to achieve a stable Afghanistan.

I’m told that if you want to buy a house in Italy, you had better know whom you have to pay off. That’s probably true in at least 50 countries around the world, and I’m willing to bet that Afghanistan is one of them. I’m equally sure that the tribal chiefs who are our allies against the Taliban maintain their positions through a system of patronage and payoffs. How can I be so sure? Not because I’m an expert on the ethnic communities of Afghanistan, but because I know something about American history.

In the nineteenth century, American politics ran on bribes, kickbacks, and payoffs. Before the Civil War, Andrew Jackson famously remarked: “If there is a job that a Democrat can’t do, then abolish the job.” During the postwar years, patronage became systematized into a comedy of hypocrisy. Politicians out of office would routinely accuse the ins of rewarding their friends, only to do exactly the same thing when they got the chance. Washington, Henry Adams declared, was “one dirty cesspool of vulgar corruption.”

There were good-government types, of course, but they were pathetically ineffectual, largely because they were self-righteous elitists out of touch with reality. Blinded by their own good intentions, they failed to see that corruption benefited not only the politicos who used their power for personal gain, but also ordinary people who relied on the bosses to help them with their daily problems.

One of our best historians, Richard Hofstadter, wrote about the reformers: “Single-minded concern for honesty in public service is a luxury of the middle and upper classes. The masses do not care deeply about the honesty of public servants unless it promises to lead to some human fruition, some measurable easing of the difficulties of life. If a choice is necessary, the populace of an American city will choose kindness over honesty.” In 1884, these bumbling, out-of-touch elitists had a delightfully comical label attached to them—Mugwump. The complaints you hear about corruption in Afghanistan these days are emanating from our modern Mugwumps.

Recently, I came upon a gruesome but very specific way in which corruption benefited people in need. A writer in Tablet magazine was describing the Nazis’ Starachowice slave labor camp, and explaining that this camp had a higher survival rate than other similar camps. (The author’s mother was one of the survivors.) The reason, he said, was that the camp was run by civilian managers, who could be bribed, and not by the SS, who were too idealistic to accept money to save Jews. We have to hope that in Afghanistan we can find members of the Taliban who are corrupt enough to take payoffs to change sides. (Glavin, for one, thinks this is possible.)

But if corruption can facilitate our efforts in Afghanistan, why did Richard Holbrooke recently go before Congress to announce that “rampant corruption” is the Taliban’s “No. 1 recruiting tool,” and why is Washington now forcing a confrontation with Karzai to get him to clean house? One possibility is that the Obama administration really is under the Mugwumpish illusion that we can end corruption in Afghanistan. If so, that should concern us all.

But there is a likelier explanation. Holbrooke has been in the game for a long time; he is used to dealing with bad guys. That means he knows there is corruption that works for you and corruption that works against you. (In the nineteenth century, the Tammany bosses made a distinction between “honest graft” and “dishonest graft.”) The corruption that works for you consists of payoffs we make to win allies and buy loyalty. (In some situations, it’s called foreign aid.) The kind that works against you are the bribes we pay without getting anything in return—money that just goes down a rathole.

Under some circumstances, ratholes can be considered a cost of doing business, but in Afghanistan, where blood is being shed, the American people are paying attention, and like anyone else, they don’t enjoy being played for suckers. So the wrong kind of corruption can damage the war effort. Insofar as the Afghan government refuses to deliver on the promises our money has purchased, it has to be challenged. It has to be made to understand that a failure to take at least some steps toward reform will eventually produce unpleasant consequences, as American support, already wavering, dwindles down to a few hardcore neocons gathered together in a single room. All of which is to say, Washington’s current fight against corruption is mainly about American, not Afghan, hearts and minds.

There’s nothing elevating, or even especially satisfying, about any of this. You can, if you want, call it the ethics of Tony Soprano. But so what? New Jersey probably has a lot to teach us about how Afghanistan really works.

WikiLeaks in new scandal...

Every week they do something either stupid or malicious....arrest Assange asap...
WIKILEAKS is at the centre of a new row after publishing uncensored police files from the investigation into a child-killer.

This includes lurid evidence and wild accusations against one of Belgium's leading politicians.

A senior prosecutor vowed to try to block the 1235-page dossier, much of which is drawn from interviews with rent boys and Marc Dutroux, a pedophile jailed for life in 2004 for killing four girls and a former associate.

It is the latest controversy to engulf the whistleblowing website, whose founder, Australian Julian Assange, is being investigated in Sweden on suspicion of molesting a 30-year-old woman who helped organise his lecture tour. Mr Assange denies any wrongdoing.

Last month, WikiLeaks was widely condemned for publishing uncensored secret reports on the Afghan war, some of which named informants now said to be at risk of reprisals.

The Dutroux case left a deep scar on the Belgian psyche because it exposed a hidden world of child sex abuse but also triggered unproved conspiracy theories of a pedophile network reaching into the highest levels of society.

A leading Belgian politician was cleared of any suspicion of pedophilia or connection with Dutroux in 1996 after being named during the investigation. The dossier published by WikiLeaks revives those allegations, adding to the sense of outrage in Belgium.

"There is some true, some false, some very disparate information here, involving some people who have done nothing wrong, who have simply been mentioned in an investigation and are thus exposed to public contempt, whereas all this material should have remained classified," said Cedric Visart de Bocarme, Liege's prosecutor-general. "There is some wild stuff in these documents. Some witnesses are prejudiced and would say anything to try to blacken their neighbour."

Mr de Bocarme said he was trying to find a way to block access in Belgium to the document on the WikiLeaks website but would not say how this might be possible. He rejected any suggestion the publication was in the public interest.

"This is a false defence in my view because WikiLeaks is giving information which is false and which invades private life," he said.

Mullahs have a new hate in Iran: Cats and Dogs..

Why not? They hate people....
FRESH from banning women from watching wrestling, the Iranian regime is targeting a new source of Western subversion: dogs and cats.

All advertisements for pets, pet shops, pet food and products are to be prohibited, the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance has announced.

The edict is based on a fatwa issued by Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi, 86, a hardliner who lives in the holy city of Qom but has an office in Harrow Road, North London, to promote Islam in Britain.

He declared dogs to be unclean under sharia law, condemned dog owners for "blindly imitating the West" and warned that their infatuation would lead to "evil outcomes", according to the state-run Mehr news agency.

"Many people in the West love their dogs more than their wives and children," Ayatollah Shirazi declared -- although some commentators believe the pronouncement was driven more by politics than religion.

Owning pets, particularly dogs, has become popular in recent years among Iran's wealthy urban elite, many of whom loathe the regime. The police sometimes stop people from walking their dogs in parks and other public places.

Ayatollah Shirazi has in the past issued fatwas against smoking, and women attending football matches, but he faces competition when it comes to censoriousness. Last month the regime cracked down on "decadent" Western hairstyles. The same Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance published a guide to male haircuts that approved of short, neat hair and appeared to allow quiffs and gel but ruled out mullets, ponytails and mohawks. Many young Iranians sport elaborate hairstyles as a silent act of rebellion against the repressive government.

Economic boycott of Israel expanding...

This is worrying, to say the least...
The decision by Norway's oil fund to withdraw its investment from Africa-Israel and Danya Cebus citing their involvement in settlement construction is the latest step in an ever expanding list of European private and governmental companies boycotting Israeli firms for political reasons.

Most of the cases pertain to claims of products being manufactured outside the Green Line and therefore in "occupied territory." Some of the cases serve as political protest against Israel's policy towards the Palestinians.

Yet, one point is uncontested: Recent months have seen a climb in the scope of the boycott of Israeli products imposed for political reasons.

"Since the Palestinians declared a boycott of settlement goods, there has been a 40% drop in production," Avi Ben Zvi, owner of the Plastco glass factory in Ariel said. "Export to Europe has ceased in its entirety and traders from the territories have stopped working with us. The damage is huge," he added.

According to Ariel Mayor Ron Nachman, the region's factories have taken a massive hit. "We need to initiate a wide-scale governmental campaign threatening the boycotting countries they will not participate in the political process," he said.

Last March, a large Swedish pension fund decided to boycott Elbit Systems for its part in the construction of the separation fence. The fund declared it had sold its Elbit holdings after its ethics committee recommended pulling out investment from companies involved in a violation of international treaties.

In September, Norway's governmental pension fund made a similiar move and divested from Elbit.

Last May, Germany's Deutsche Bank announced it had sold all its Elbit stocks, apparently after being pressured by anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian organizations.

Two years ago, Swedish giant Assa Abloy, owner of the Israeli company Mul-T-Lock Ltd., issued an apology for the fact that its factory in the Barkan Industrial Park was located outside the Green Line. The company promised to move the plant into "Israeli territory" following pressure from a Swedish-Christian human rights group.

Shraga Brosh, president of the Manufacturers Association, said Tuesday that "from time to time, organizations, mainly Scandinavian, boycott certain Israeli bodies. At the end of the day, these are isolated occurrences which do not affect the whole trade with Israel."

Soda Club was also hit by boycott: The city of Paris was forced to deny the Israeli company's participation in a large-scale fair for the promotion of tap water after receiving threats from pro-Palestinian elements.

On July, it was reported that the French transport firm Veolia, which operated the light rail project in Jerusalem had decided to sell its shares in the project without citing any motives. The decision may well be connected to the fact that several months earlier a French court agreed to discuss a lawsuit against Veolia and its involvement in the rail's construction in east Jerusalem.

A New Terror Wave in the UK???

This all relates to Islamic radicalisation going on in prisons....
Michael Clarke, a former government adviser and the head of the Royal United Services Institute, says he believes the security services could struggle to cope with a new generation of extremists seeking to carry out "lone wolf" attacks.

In a report published today, Prof Clarke says that, over the next five to 10 years, about 800 prisoners – in jail for non-terrorism offences – are due to be released on to the streets having been radicalised in jail.

They will be joined by convicted terrorists serving short sentences who, once freed, are likely to be just as committed to the cause of jihad as before they were jailed, the report claims.

Prof Clarke, who advised Gordon Brown as a member of the National Security Forum and is a visiting professor at King's College London, warns that this "new wave" will pose a significant challenge to the security services responsible for identifying and monitoring them.

While previous al-Qaeda tactics involved so-called "spectacular" attacks, the report warns that the terrorist group's leaders, such as Yemeni preacher and US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, are encouraging individuals to launch less sophisticated but equally deadly attacks on crowded places.

Their targets have also changed from concentrating on aircraft to including attacks on trains, hotels and sporting events. The report will serve as a stark reminder to the Government and public that the threat from Islamist terrorism remains severe, even though there has not been a fatal attack on British soil since 2005.

The current government threat level stands at "severe", indicating a terrorist attack is considered "highly likely". The level was raised from "substantial" in January.

In the Western world, Britain has the "greatest to fear" from home grown terrorists, the report says.

One of the major threats in Britain, according to Prof Clarke, is from released prisoners who may have been convicted of terrorist offences or may have been radicalised while in jail. "British prisons still house more terrorists than in any other European country, though not for very long periods," he warns.

He points out that just 23 people, around 19 per cent of those convicted of terrorism offences, have been given life or indeterminate sentences. Twenty per cent have been sentenced to more than 10 years, and the largest single proportion, 32 per cent, received between eight months and four years. "It raises immediate questions about the motivations of those now released, or soon to be released: are they more or less inclined to reoffend?" he says.

Postal Workers want to go to Gaza, but can't deliver mail in bad weather.....

Matt Gurney makes CUPW look downright silly (for their plan to sail to Gaza), not a hard thing to do....
Also, isn’t it a bit weird that Canadian postal workers are suddenly willing to brave the power of the Israeli Navy to get mail to Gazans when they’re so easily deterred getting mail to you and me? If it snows more than a centimetre or two in Toronto, little notices get put into mailboxes announcing that delivery is suspended until safety conditions in front of the house are improved — i.e. the steps gets shovelled. (Of course, postal workers have to risk death on slippery front steps to deliver the warning, but that’s just another example of their heroic devotion to duty.)

In Moose Jaw, delivery was recently cancelled due to the danger of mean birds.
Home mail delivery in Moose Jaw, Sask., is being disrupted — again — following renewed aerial assaults on letter carriers by protective hawks that have taken up residence in a neighbourhood. Residents of four city blocks were notified Friday that service was being suspended due to safety concerns.
The hawks were nesting in a pine tree, and swooping at postal carriers. They tried to “outwit” the birds by sending carriers down both sides of the street at the same time, but the birds were too smart for that. So, no mail, for the second year in a row. The hawks don’t seem to bother the streets’ residents, or their kids, but kids are evidently made of sterner stuff.

A dusting of snow? Territorial birds? Perfectly justifiable reason for Canadian postal workers to stop delivering mail to Canadians. Israel enforcing an embargo of weapons and potential weapon-building material on people who have repeatedly fired rockets blindly at civilian targets? That’s outrageous and will not stand! Thanks so much, Canadian postal workers. Nice to know where your priorities lie.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Meet an observant gay couple with 3 adopted children now settling in Israel....

This can only happen in Israel....
Almost 10,000 olim have made aliya so far in 2010, of whom 2,426 came from English-speaking countries, according to data released by the Jewish Agency on Tuesday. Each one has a unique story to tell.

Some, however, are more unique than others.

Take Ian and Daniel Chesir-Teran, for example, an observant gay couple from New Jersey and their three adopted black children – Eli, Yonah and Tamar.

The Chesir-Terans made aliya last week through the Jewish Agency in collaboration with Nefesh B’Nefesh, but unlike most newcomers, the members of this unusual family are no strangers in a strange land. In fact, they’re already minor celebrities. Earlier this year they took part in the Israeli version of the reality TV show Wife Swap, which has members from two families with very different backgrounds trade places for two weeks.

“Channel 2 decided to air our episode immediately after we moved to Israel,” Ian said, barely audible over the din of his young children playing in the background, in an interview over the phone from his new home in Kibbutz Hanaton.

“Suddenly, we were on TV commercials all the time and have been recognized on a daily basis in an overwhelmingly positive way.”

Ian, 39, is a rabbinical student and lawyer. His partner, Daniel, 40, is a psychologist. Both wear kippot and observe Jewish rituals. The couple have been together for 15 years and decided to move to Israel permanently after a one-year stint in Jerusalem.

“We were living in Jerusalem last year as part of my rabbinical training and we had a transformative year and experience,” Ian said. “When it came time to plan to come back to America we realized it would be very difficult for us to do that, so we decided to make our move back to Israel permanent.

It’s a place where we see ourselves being able to build our family.”

Their aliya hasn’t been without sacrifices.

Ian said he wants to continue his rabbinical studies but he has yet to find a place that would accept him.

He will have to moonlight as a lawyer to make ends meet. Daniel will focus on raising the kids for the time being, but wants to resume lecturing on the university level, as he did in the US.

After a long and busy week Ian expressed his frustration with Israeli bureaucracy and its discrimination against same-sex couples.

“Just today we faced a challenging situation where we tried to sign up for an HMO, but they wouldn’t list us in the same way as they would a heterosexual couple. When I went to the post office they gave me a separate registry, too.”

Asked if the red tape and bias against gays has weakened his resolve to become part of Israeli society, he said it had the opposite effect.

“If anything, this just emboldens us to do more so that we are recognized by the government, not only for our own sakes – although certainly for our own sakes – but also for future lesbian and gay couples who make aliya. But there’s a lot of work that still needs to be done in Israel, just like in America.

We know that to receive the blessings of aliya there is a responsibility to give back to the community.”

What about the kids? Do they worry that their children, being black, might suffer discrimination? Ian said he isn’t more or less worried than he would be in the US. Here, at least, all the other kids at school are Jewish, he said.

Tony Blair on the delegitimisation of Israel....

From a speech this week...
There are two forms of de-legitimisation. One is traditional, obvious and from the quarters it emanates, expected. It is easier to deal with. This is attack from those who openly question Israel’s right to exist. It is easier to deal with, because it is so clear. When the President of Iran says he wants Israel wiped off the face of the map, we all know where we are. This is not to minimise the threat of course. It remains and is profound. It is just to say that were this the only form of de-legitimisation, it wouldn’t warrant a conference of analysis; simply a course of action.

The other form is more insidious, harder to spot, harder to anticipate and harder to deal with, because many of those engaging in it, will fiercely deny they are doing so. It is this form that is in danger of growing, and whose impact is potentially highly threatening, in part because it isn’t obvious.

I would define in it this way: it is a conscious or often unconscious resistance, sometimes bordering on refusal, to accept Israel has a legitimate point of view. Note that I say refusal to accept Israel has a legitimate point of view. I’m not saying refusal to agree with it. People are perfectly entitled to agree or not; but rather an unwillingness to listen to the other side, to acknowledge that Israel has a point, to embrace the notion that this is a complex matter that requires understanding of the other way of looking at it.

The challenge is that this often does not come from ill-intentioned people; but well-intentioned. They would dispute vigorously such a characterisation of their mindset. They would point to the injustice of Palestinian suffering, acts of the Israeli Government or army which are unjustifiable and they would say, rightly, that you cannot say that to criticise Israel is to de-legitimise it. Such minds are often to be found in the west. They will say they advocate a two state solution and they will point to that as proof positive that they accept Israel’s existence fully.

The problem is that though this is true in theory, in practice they wear Nelson’s eye patch when they lift the telescope of scrutiny to the Israeli case. In a very real sense, they don’t see it.

So, for example, on Gaza they won’t accept that Israel might have a right to search vessels bringing cargo into Gaza, given that even this year over 100 rockets have been fired from that territory into Israel Leave aside the multiple investigations relating to the flotilla, upon which there will naturally be heated debate. I mean a refusal to accept that, however handled, no Israeli government could be indifferent to the possibility of weapons and missiles being brought into Gaza.

I often have a conversation about the West Bank which goes like this. Someone says: Israel must lift the occupation. I reply: I agree but it has to be sure that when it does so, there will be security and a Palestinian force capable of preventing terrorism. They say: so you’re supporting occupation. I say: I’m not: I’m simply pointing out that if Hamas, with an unchanged position on Israel, were running the West Bank, Israel would have a perfectly legitimate right to be concerned about it’s security.

A constant conversation I have with some, by no means all, of my European colleagues is to argue to them: don’t apply rules to the Government of Israel that you would never dream of applying to your own country. In any of our nations, if there were people firing rockets, committing acts of terrorism and living next door to us, our public opinion would go crazy. And any political leader who took the line that we shouldn’t get too excited about it, wouldn’t last long as a political leader. This is a democracy. Israel lost 1000 citizens to terrorism in the intifada. That equates in UK population terms to 10,000. I remember the bomb attacks from Republican terrorism in the 1970’s. There weren’t many arguing for a policy of phlegmatic calm.

So the issue of de-legitimisation is not simply about an overt denial of the State of Israel. It is the application of prejudice in not allowing that Israel has a point of view that should be listened to.

One thing I state repeatedly in interviews about Gaza – despite disagreeing with the previous policy on it – is to say to western media outlets: just at least comprehend why Israel feels as it does. In 2005 it got out of Gaza i.e. ceased occupying it, took over 7000 settlers with it and in return got rockets and terror attacks. Now I know all the counter-arguments about the unilateral nature of the withdrawal, the 2005 Access and Movement agreement and the closure of the crossings. But the fact remains: there is another point of view and you can’t describe it as illegitimate.

This is then hugely heightened by the way things are reported. Here the televisual images – whether in Lebanon, Gaza or indeed any field of conflict – in Afghanistan for example, are so shocking that they tend to overwhelm debate about how or why conflict began. Because Israel – like the US or the UK – has superior force and because in such situations the horrible tragedy is that the innocent die – these images arouse anger, sympathy and a disgust that at one level is completely understandable but at another obscures the difficult choices nations like ours face, when they come under attack.

The combination of all of this is curious disjunction of perception. I spend large amounts of time in Israel, and outside of it in different parts of the world. To those outside, Israel is regularly perceived as arrogant, overbearing and aggressive. To Israelis, there is a sense that the world is isolating it unfairly and perversely refusing to see they too have a right to have their voice heard. Hence this conference.

The issue is how to respond. First, there is a clear and vital principle that needs to be established: to criticise is not per se to de-legitimise. The fact is there are plenty of Israeli and Jewish voices that passionately disagree with Israeli policy. I am a friend of Israel and openly avow it. I have plenty of criticisms. De-legitimisation is qualitatively different. It can seem the same sometimes. But it isn’t. The one is valid. The other is not. Friends of Israel should be the first to make the distinction.

Having done that, however, we should highlight the fact that de-legitimisation is happening, and be vigilant and vigorous about identifying and countering the instances of it. This needn’t be done stridently. But it should be done insistently. The aim: not to make people agree necessarily with Israel’s point of view; but to insist they listen to it and persuade them at least to the position of understanding. Where there is incitement, expose it. Where there is a one-sided account, argue the other side. Always have a voice out there – and not just the politicians – but the voices of the people. And do it systematically and with unity.

Second, Israel should always be a staunch and unremitting advocate and actor for peace. What I mean by this is not that it should simply be for peace; it should advocate it and act to achieve it. Tzipi Livni’s and Ehud Olmert’s negotiations under the previous Israeli Government and previous US administration, were an immensely important part of showing to the world that whatever else they might say, they had to accept that the Government of Israel was genuinely trying to bring about peace. The re-start of the direct negotiations to be launched next week is important in itself; important because it shows that PM Netanyahu on behalf of the new Government of Israel is an advocate for peace; important because, with a l year time frame being indicated, it shows that there is a sincere yearning on the part of the people of Israel to live in an enduring and honourable peace with their Palestinian neighbours. I know some are cynical. I know some say it’s all for show. I reject that view. I think if Israel can receive real and effective guarantees about its security, then it is willing and ready to include a negotiation for a viable, independent Palestinian state. This is a brave decision by the PM and the right one.

Third, there will be no successful negotiation unless all the final status issues are on the table. I’m not going to try to negotiate solutions here and now. That is for later. We can think creatively and constructively. Indeed we must do so. But proposals on these issues will be a litmus test of seriousness.

Which brings me to a fourth point. A crucial response to de-legitimisation is to deal with the legitimate criticism. What is it? Let me answer based on my experience. It is that we can and should do more and more quickly to improve the daily lives of Palestinians. Now there has been real progress here in the past year. We should deepen it. I am a convinced persuader for the bottom up approach – I continue to believe that no top-down negotiation will work without it. I also think we have visible empirical evidence to support it: the improvements in Jenin and the opening of the Jalameh crossing to Israeli Arabs; changes to A & M in response to the hugely improved capability of the PA on security; the very successful PIC in Bethlehem that yielded hundreds of millions of dollars of investment; the modus operandi with the new department under DPM Shalom that has resulted in significant gains; and I hope in time a new approach to tourism and to development for Palestinians in Area C.

Such change does not only lead to improvements to Palestinian lives. It also deals with what is the most potent fuel – especially in Arab media – of hatred against Israel. That is the idea that Palestinians suffer not injustice alone; but a form of humiliation. Dignity is a very important concept. Consistent with security, Israel should be constantly looking for ways to compensate for the indignity which inevitably results from the security measures taken and should seek to avoid any unnecessary indignities.

I was pleased and heartened when the Government changed policy on Gaza. The truth is you can justify restrictions in Gaza taken for reasons of security. But with a Gazan population, half of whom is under the age of 18 and 300,000 of whom are under the age of 4, security is the only arguable basis upon which to put such restrictions. Of course Gilad Shalit should be released immediately. His detention is a profound denial of human rights, as is the way he is being treated. But a policy based on threats to Israel’s security is the only one its friends can defend.

This leads me to my final point. It is our collective duty – yours and mine – to argue vigorously against the de-legitimisation of Israel. It is also our collective duty to arm ourselves with an argument and a narrative we can defend and with which we can answer the case against Israel, with pride and confidence.

Let me tell you why I am a passionate believer in Israel. This is a democracy. It’s Parliament is vibrant. Its politics is, well, not notably restrained, let’s say. Its press is free. Its people have rights and they are enforced. I had an argument with a friend about Israel. I said to them: ‘ok let’s assume you are charged with a crime you didn’t commit and the penalty is 20 years in prison. And you’re a critic of the Government. Tell me: under which country’s legal system, in this region, would you prefer to be tried?’ He struggled for a bit and then said: ‘that’s not the point.’ ‘But it is’ I replied.

Look around the world about what we admire about the Jewish people: their contribution to art, culture, literature, music, business and philanthropy. It’s a spirit that is identifiable, open and rather wonderful. Whatever bigotry is, it is the opposite of it. It is a free spirit. On holiday I read the new biography of Einstein. Having in early life taken not much interest in the issue, he became an ardent supporter of Israel. But look at the character of the Israel he supported: like Einstein himself – a free thinker, a rebellious thinker even, but one supremely attuned to the future.

That is the Israel people like me support. So guard it; keep it. I am a religious person myself. But the society I want to live in, is one that treats me no better as a result; makes my view one amongst many; and pursues science, technology and progress with vigour and without prejudice. The best answer to the de-legitimisation of Israel lies in the character of Israel itself and in the openness, fair-mindedness and creativity of ordinary Israelis. That character and those people built the State of Israel. They remain it’s guardians. They are why to de-legitimise Israel is not only an affront to Israelis but to all who share the values of a free human spirit.

Thank you.

Wind power may lead to higher CO2 emissions....

Wind power will not save the planet...
The wind industry has achieved remarkable growth largely due to the claim that it will provide major reductions in carbon dioxide emissions. There's just one problem: It's not true. A slew of recent studies show that wind-generated electricity likely won't result in any reduction in carbon emissions—or that they'll be so small as to be almost meaningless.

This issue is especially important now that states are mandating that utilities produce arbitrary amounts of their electricity from renewable sources. By 2020, for example, California will require utilities to obtain 33% of their electricity from renewables. About 30 states, including Connecticut, Minnesota and Hawaii, are requiring major increases in the production of renewable electricity over the coming years.

Wind—not solar or geothermal sources—must provide most of this electricity. It's the only renewable source that can rapidly scale up to meet the requirements of the mandates. This means billions more in taxpayer subsidies for the wind industry and higher electricity costs for consumers.

None of it will lead to major cuts in carbon emissions, for two reasons. First, wind blows only intermittently and variably. Second, wind-generated electricity largely displaces power produced by natural gas-fired generators, rather than that from plants burning more carbon-intensive coal.

Because wind blows intermittently, electric utilities must either keep their conventional power plants running all the time to make sure the lights don't go dark, or continually ramp up and down the output from conventional coal- or gas-fired generators (called "cycling"). But coal-fired and gas-fired generators are designed to run continuously, and if they don't, fuel consumption and emissions generally increase. A car analogy helps explain: An automobile that operates at a constant speed—say, 55 miles per hour—will have better fuel efficiency, and emit less pollution per mile traveled, than one that is stuck in stop-and-go traffic.

Recent research strongly suggests how this problem defeats the alleged carbon-reducing virtues of wind power. In April, Bentek Energy, a Colorado-based energy analytics firm, looked at power plant records in Colorado and Texas. (It was commissioned by the Independent Petroleum Association of the Mountain States.) Bentek concluded that despite huge investments, wind-generated electricity "has had minimal, if any, impact on carbon dioxide" emissions.

Bentek found that thanks to the cycling of Colorado's coal-fired plants in 2009, at least 94,000 more pounds of carbon dioxide were generated because of the repeated cycling. In Texas, Bentek estimated that the cycling of power plants due to increased use of wind energy resulted in a slight savings of carbon dioxide (about 600 tons) in 2008 and a slight increase (of about 1,000 tons) in 2009.

The Arab Lobby.....

Alan Dershowitz reviews a book about The Arab Lobby...
"One of the most important distinguishing characteristics of the Arab lobby is that it has no popular support. While the Israeli lobby has hundreds of thousands of grass root members and public opinion polls consistently reveal a huge gap between support for Israel and the Arab nations/Palestinians, the Arab lobby has almost no foot soldiers or public sympathy. It's most powerful elements tend to be bureaucrats who represent only their personal views or what they believe are their institutional interests, and foreign governments that care only about their national interests, not those of the United States. What they lack in human capital in terms of American advocates, they make up for with almost unlimited resources to try to buy what they usually cannot win on the merits of their arguments."
This is a critical distinction for a democracy. The case for Israel (though not for all of its policies) is an easy sell for pro-Israel lobbyists, especially elected representatives. Voting in favor of Israel is popular not only in areas with a large concentration of Jewish voters, but throughout the country, because Israel is popular with Evangelical Christians in particular and with much, though certainly not all, of the public in general. Lobbies that reflect the will of the people are an important part of the democratic process. Thus, the American Association of Retired People (AARP), the principal lobbying group for the elderly, is extremely powerful because there are so many elderly people in this country who want to protect social security, Medicaid, and other benefits. The National Rifle Association (NRA) is a powerful lobby precisely because so many Americans, for better or worse, love their guns. And The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is a powerful lobby because Americans, in general, support the Middle East's only democracy and reliable American ally.

But why is the Arab lobby, and most particularly the Saudi lobby, also powerful? Saudi Arabia has virtually no support among Americans. Indeed, it is widely reviled for its export of terrorists such as Osama bin Laden, its manipulation of oil prices, its anti-Christian and anti-Semitic policies, its total deprivation of any semblance of freedom of speech or dissent, and its primitive forms of punishment that include stoning and amputation. Yet, as Bard demonstrates, the Saudi lobby has beaten the pro-Israel lobby over and over again in head-to-head conflicts, such as the sale of sophisticated weapons to a regime that doesn't even have the technical skills to use them, and the conflict over whether to move the United States' embassy to Jerusalem. Even now, Saudi Arabia is lobbying to obtain a multibillion-dollar arms deal, and it is likely to succeed over the objections of Israel.

How then does a lobby with no popular support manage to exert influence in a democratic country? The secret is very simple. The Arab lobby in general and the Saudis in particular make little effort to influence popularly elected public officials, particularly legislators. Again, listen to Bard:

"The Saudis have taken a different tact from the Israeli lobby, focusing a top-down rather than bottom-up approach to lobbying. As hired gun, J. Crawford Cook, wrote in laying out his proposed strategy for the kingdom, 'Saudi Arabia has a need to influence the few that influence the many, rather than the need to influence the many to whom the few must respond.'"

The primary means by which the Saudis exercise this influence is money. They spend enormous amounts of lucre to buy (or rent) former state department officials, diplomats, White House aides, and legislative leaders who become their elite lobbying corps. Far more insidiously, the Saudis let it be known that if current government officials want to be hired following their retirement from government service, they had better hew to the Saudi line while they are serving in our government. The former Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar, who was so close to the President George H.W. Bush that he referred to himself as "Bandar Bush," acknowledged the relationship between how a government official behaves while in office and how well he will be rewarded when he leaves office. "If the reputation then builds that the Saudis take care of friends when they leave office, you'd be surprised how much better friends you have when they are just coming into office."

Islamophobia doesn't exist....

And, here are the stats...
Here's a thought: The 70% of Americans who oppose what amounts to an Islamic Niketown two blocks from ground zero are the real victims of a climate of hate, and anti-Muslim backlash is mostly a myth.

According to the FBI, hate crimes against Muslims increased by a staggering 1,600% in 2001. That sounds serious! But wait, the increase is a math mirage. There were 28 anti-Islamic incidents in 2000. That number climbed to 481 the year a bunch of Muslim terrorists murdered 3,000 Americans in the name of Islam on Sept. 11.

Now, that was a hate crime.

Regardless, 2001 was the zenith or, looked at through the prism of our national shame, the nadir of the much-discussed anti-Muslim backlash in the United States. The following year, the number of anti-Islamic hate-crime incidents (overwhelmingly, nonviolent vandalism and nasty words) dropped to 155. In 2003, there were 149 such incidents. And the number has hovered around the mid-100s or lower ever since.

Sure, even one hate crime is too many. But does that sound like a anti-Muslim backlash to you?

Let's put this in even sharper focus. America is, outside of Israel ,probably the most receptive and tolerant country in the world to Jews. And yet, in every year since 9/11, more Jews have been hate-crime victims than Muslims. A lot more.

In 2001, there were twice as many anti-Jewish incidents as there were anti-Muslim, again according to the FBI. In 2002 and pretty much every year since, anti-Jewish incidents have outstripped anti-Muslim ones by at least 6 to 1. Why aren't we talking about the anti-Jewish climate in America?

Because there isn't one. And there isn't an anti-Muslim climate either. Yes, there's a lot of heated rhetoric on the Internet. Absolutely, some Americans don't like Muslims. But if you watch TV or movies or read, say, the op-ed page of the New York Times — never mind left-wing blogs — you'll hear much more open bigotry toward evangelical Christians (in blogspeak, the "Taliban wing of the Republican Party") than you will toward Muslims.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Egypt announces site of its first nuclear power plant....

Just what we need - a country where the Muslim Brotherhood is on the verge of power - to get nuclear weapons...oops, I meant nuclear power...
Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak announced Wednesday afternoon that the country's first nuclear power plant will be built at El Dabaa on the Mediterranean coast.

The Associated Press reported that Energy Minister Hassan Younis said the decision is intended to "prioritize national interests and gives a big boost to the Egyptian nuclear program."

The plant will cost an estimated $1.5 billion, some of which will be financed by the government. Tenders will be issued by the end of the year.

Shame on Xtra....

Canada's gay newspaper is no longer capable of any interesting thought - so they have to resort to being crude....
Maybe Toronto City Councillor Rob Ford just needs to take it up the butt. And I'd love to be the one to give it to him.

Introduction to the sublime, transformative pleasures of receptive anal intercourse might be just the thing to allow Ford to "open up" and move beyond the miserly ideology of fear and insularity that's characterized his tenure since first rising to power in Etobicoke in 2000.

Some might consider teaching Ford how to be a back-door man a dirty job but somebody's got to do it. And I'm happy to volunteer — both for my own personal interest and for the broader public good.

Deflowering husky-sized guys is actually a personal specialty of mine. I know how to put their minds — and butts — at ease. I think I'm the kind of man Ford could relate to — I'm around the same age, and we've both got the same over-the-hill, ex-jock look going on. And, while my endowment has certainly received compliments, I'm no pornstar — so nobody's going to get hurt.

Admittedly intimacy with another man might be a bit too advanced for Ford, an avowed heterosexual. But there's still hope. Ford's wife could certainly do the deed herself. By now we've all likely heard about the increasingly popular phenomenon of "pegging" — women harnessing the power of strap-ons to penetrate their men folk. After all there's nothing intrinsically gay about taking it up the butt.

Many men experience a sense of dirtiness and shame about their assholes. Some of us even experience that same uneasy, awkward guilt about being an asshole. After his boozy tirade from the stands of the Air Canada Centre, Ford admitted that his behaviour stemmed from "personal problems." Indeed.

It's time for some emotional honesty, Rob. You've admitted there's a problem. Now change can only "come from within." Let me help you get started.

UNIFIL says Israel did not cross over into Lebanon....

They confirm that Lebanon was NOT provoked...
United Nations peacekeepers have released a report concluding that Israel did not cross the border with Lebanon before IDF soldiers were fired on in a border fatal clash at the beginning of August.

Lebanon had claimed that Israel provoked the attack, which took place after soldiers were spotted carrying out maintenance work on a tree at Israel’s northern border.

But the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said that a subsequent investigation had reinforced their original finding that Israel was working within its sovereign territory.

Paris synagogue gets death threats...

Ahhh, the latest from France....
A letter containing bullets and death threats to Jews was sent to a synagogue in a northern Paris suburb, where an infamous transit camp for Jews was set up during World War II, sources said.

The letter to the synagogue in Drancy also bore a swastika, said Sammy Ghozlan, head of a national body monitoring anti-semitism.

He said the letter had been sent on August 14 and discovered on Tuesday after the summer break.

He urged authorities to "beef up security in all places of worship" ahead of the Jewish New Year next month. Ghozlan said a similar letter had been sent to a synagogue in Stains, another northern suburb, but this claim could not be verified by AFP.