Friday 30 December 2011

"Radical Islam and the Holocaust"

This article quotes a Saudi who learnt about the reality of the Holocaust, in contrast to what he had been taught in Saudi text books. He quotes from p92 of a textbook printed in Saudi in 2006-07, which draws on “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, the 19th Century invention of Russian anti-Semites in Czarist Russia. This is from the Saudi textbook:
 ‘As one reflects on the nature of the Muslim-Jewish conflict, it becomes evident that it is basically a religious conflict; it is not a political, or a national, or an ethnic one, or about a piece of land, as some claim. It is a struggle between truth and falsehood, between a belief in the Unity of God and Shirk [worst type of unbelief]. This enmity can only disappear when Jews embrace our faith, or when we embrace theirs, (Allah forbid!) Thus, if we understand the true nature of this conflict, and that there is no end to it, we would realize how misguided are those who talk about finding a solution for the conflict.’
Anyone who thinks that giving land to the Palestinians will solve the problem in the middle east has not read the history or understood the driving philosophy behind current "peace" efforts, which amount to  delegitimising, demonising and ultimately destroying Israel.
That's not to say that Israel does not offer peace.  It does.  (According to UN Resolutions 181 and 242).  But it requires security in return.  It requires recognition of its state in return.  Neither of these has been offered in the years since 1949. 

"Europe's Inexorable March Towards Islam"

... As the rapidly growing Muslim population makes its presence felt in towns and cities across the continent, Islam is transforming the European way of life in ways unimaginable only a few years ago.
What follows is a brief summary of some of the more outrageous Islam-related controversies that took place in Europe during 2011....
Read more from Soeren Kern, in Hudson New York, December 29, here.

Thursday 29 December 2011

"Jihad" means war in the name of Islam.... and the clash of civilisations

PS: I've got into various arguments with people here in Hong Kong, including those in the Islamic community and local political types, in the press and elsewhere, about the meaning of the word "Jihad", which they take to mean "struggle" and only struggle. Of course it does mean that, but it also has another meaning, namely "holy war".  This is by far its more common meaning.  I have quoted authoritative sources on the issue, including the classic manual of Islamic Jurisprudence (The Umdat Al-Salik).  So what's quoted below is in support of my contention re the meaning of "jihad" as commonly understood in Islamic circles today.
It's by noted Islamic scholar Andrew Bostom:
"... there is just one historically relevant meaning of jihad despite contemporary apologetics. Jahada, the root of the word Jihad, appears 40 times in the Koran—under a variety of grammatical forms. With 4 exceptions, all the other 36 usages (in specific Koranic verses) are variations of the third form of the verb, i.e. Jahida. Jahida in the Koran and in subsequent Islamic understanding to both Muslim luminaries—from the greatest jurists and scholars of classical Islam (including Abu Yusuf, Averroes, Ibn Khaldun, and Al Ghazzali), to ordinary people—meant and means “he fought, warred or waged war against unbelievers and the like”, as described by the seminal Arabic lexicographer E.W Lane. Indeed, Lane’s, An Arabic English Lexicon (6 volumes, London, 1865) is still used to this day by Muslim and non-Muslim scholars for definitive Arabic to English translation. Thus Lane, who studied both the etymology and usage of the term jihad, observed, “Jihad came to be used by the Muslims to signify wag[ing] war, against unbelievers.”"
[Emphasis added]
And, earlier in Bostom's piece, a quote from Huntington's "Clash of Civilisations", a view I hold to, rather...
"The overwhelming majority of fault line conflicts,…have taken place along the boundary looping across Eurasia and Africa that separates Muslims from non-Muslims….Intense antagonisms and violent conflicts are pervasive between local Muslim and non-Muslim peoples….Muslims make up about one-fifth of the world’s population, but in the 1990s they have been far more involved in inter-group violence than the people of any other civilization. The evidence is overwhelming. There were, in short, three times as many inter-civilizational conflicts involving Muslims as there were between non-Muslim civilizations….Muslim states also have had a high propensity to resort to violence in international crises, employing it to resolve 76 crises out of a total of 142 in which they were involved between 1928 and 1979…When they did use violence, Muslim states used high-intensity violence, resorting to full-scale war in 41 percent of the cases where violence was used and engaging in major clashes in another 39 percent of the cases. While Muslim states resorted to violence in 53.5 percent, violence was used the United Kingdom in only 1.5 percent, by the United States in 17.9 percent, and by the Soviet Union in 28.5 percent of the crises in which they were involved…Muslim bellicosity and violence are late-twentieth-century facts which neither Muslims nor non-Muslims can deny."
Says Bostom: 
"The underlying problem for the West is not Islamic fundamentalism. It is Islam, a different civilization whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture."
[Though of course, it can make tactical and strategic sense to act as though there are moderate versions of Islam.]

Tuesday 27 December 2011

Islamapologist sites are pusillanimous pissants

Any time you want to comment on Islam apologist sites (eg, Loonwatch, Islamophobiawatch, Politicusa), they want to "moderate" your comment before it's posted: then, often as not, they don't publish it. That's if it's critical of Islam, even if it's soberly, calmly and factually so.  By contrast, sites like Jihadwatch, RaymondIbrahim, Blazing Cat Fur and DanielPipes all allow comments to be posted straight away, without moderation (they reserve the right to remove posts that are offensive, racist, etc).  They let the hurly burly of free speech take care of any idiocy that may pop up; the readers do it.
This suggests to me that the Islamapologist sites can't face the facts.
Just recently, I made two posts to Politicusa, and neither one was published.
One post was in response to an absurd Chomskyan assertion in the comments section that the US military are the "American Taliban", and they had caused 9/11.
His statement, in part:
Corey Mondello on December 20, 2011 at 5:16 pm: "... Fundamentalists from ANY religion are terrorists, and the conservative Christians here in the USA who have infiltrated the US Military and the US Congress, are America’s terrorist, the ‘American Taliban’. They are the reason why 9/11 happened…it wasnt “our freedoms”..."
My response:
You should read “The Al Qaeda Reader”, in which Osama bin Laden and other Qaeda leaders write about why they attack the West — and it’s nothing to do with the nonsense of the “American Taliban” or any other such post-modern relativist slush.
It has to do with the fact that the west are unbelievers. This is stated clearly and repeatedly in their writings.
Infidels have three choices: (1) convert to Islam;(2) pay the jizya tax (the tax on non-Muslims); or (3) be killed. OBL had “invited” the US to Islam several times, which it had ignored, and since it was not paying the Jizya, they had to attack and kill.
It’s all there in his own words.

And my comment on the main article:
From main article:“Muslims in this country by and large seem content with the set-up. I am never accosted at my door, in my yard, or in Wal-Mart parking lots by Islamic missionaries wanting to hand me literature or witness for Mohammed.”
My comment:
The Muslim Brotherhood in the US operates through many fronts and have said that their aim is to overthrow the Constitution and replace it with the Koran. The head of the Council of American Islamic Relations has said the same. There is push for courts in the US to instal Sharia law. Many Muslims have tried, and in some cases succeeded, in killing fellow Americans in the name of Islam. At least five studies — including one by a Muslim Sheikh — have shown that 80% of mosques in the US promote and sell publications of violent jihad against infidels.
Saying Christian fundamentalists are the greatest danger is a complete nonsense (I’m atheist, btw) and counter-factual.
The fact that you meet nice friendly Muslims at the local Wal-Mart is irrelevant — “analysis” by anecdote. The real concern are the opinion makers such as Hamas-linked CAIR and the various MB fronts (ISNA, MSC, etc). These are profoundly anti-American, better organized and greater in number than the Christian Fundamentalists.

"Was the Arab Spring a Victory for Extremism?": Jeffrey Goldberg

.... The big news out of Cairo late this fall was not the Muslim Brotherhood’s triumph in parliamentary elections, even though the Brotherhood-affiliated party took 37 percent of the popular vote. The main news was made by the more extreme Nour Party, which is affiliated with Egypt’s Salafists. The Salafists, who believe that the world should be made over to look as it did during the time of the Prophet Muhammad, took almost 25 percent of the popular vote. In other words, the majority of voters in the Arab world’s most populous country chose either a party whose motto is “Islam is the Solution” or a party that believes that medieval Arabia is an appropriate state model.
Terrific article, thanks to BCF.

We were there!

"Kim Jong-il, North Korean dictator, dies".  NYT, 19 Dec
Huang Wenguang recalls being in Peking in 1976, when Mao Tse-tung died (The Dear Leader is dead, again, IHT, Dec 26).  I was there as well, a young, new student of Chinese, newly landed in the capital.  And also there was a 14-year old, about the age of Huang, I guess, called Jing and she was to become my wife about two decades later. I recall, as does Huang, the tears on the street, some of them real, some crocodile, squeezed out to make sure that one didn't get reported for being less than fully caring of the Great Leader.
And that leads him to thoughts about Kim Jong-il's death, and the outpourings of grief and "grief".
He wonders if the new "leader", Kim Jong-un, might lead to opening up in North Korea.  He's too smart to commit himself.  For my part, I'd simply observe that we thought there might have been an opening in the 80s when we first went there to do some coking coal business. That was the time that Deng Xiaoping had begun the full opening up of China, and it seemed opportune for the "little brother" to follow in those steps.  But they didn't.
And I bet they don't again. At least while "un" is there... My bet is that Jong-un will be the same as his dad, as long as he can, but that that that may not be long.
There will be a power struggle, he will be overthrown and then we might get something happening.  But not with him there.
At least that's my bet.

Saturday 24 December 2011

Regulate Marihuana Like Wine

Just in from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition:

Five Law Enforcement Against Prohibition speakers have been busy this past year launching a new California initiative,REGULATE MARIJUANA LIKE WINE (RMLW). I'd like to take this opportunity to tell you a little bit about RMLW and ask you for your support on this initiative.

LEAP speaker Judge Jim Gray (Orange County Superior Court ret.) and LEAP Executive Board member Deputy Chief Stephen Downing (LAPD ret.) played a major role in writing the initiative. LEAP speakers Lieutenant Diane Goldstein (Redondo Beach P.D. Ret.),Deputy Nate Bradley (former deputy sheriff, Sutter County) and Officer Kyle Kazan(former police officer, Torrance P.D.) joined Judge Gray and Deputy Chief Downing as part of RMLW's executive board to put their professional skills to work on the complex - - and expensive - - process of signature gathering, volunteer coordination,  campaign appearances and fund raising.

LEAP's Board of Directors viewed RMLW as a great step forward because the initiative will repeal prohibition of marijuana for adults and regulate and control its growth, processing, packaging, distribution and sales just like the wine industry in California, in addition to allowing hemp agriculture and products. An added benefit, as reported by California's independent Legislative Analyst, is that RMLW will save California's justice and prison systems tens of millions and provide tax revenues in the hundreds of millions.

The LEAP Board of Directors has fully endorsed the Regulate Marijuana Like Wine initiative and has encouraged participation by LEAP's speakers to help get RMLW on the November 2012 ballot in California. Today we are calling on all of you, as LEAP supporters, to help our partners at RMLW in California. They need your help to get the job done. If you live in California, GET INVOLVED. Volunteer to gather signatures, take speaking engagements and DONATE, $5, $10, $15, $25 or more if  you can afford it. If you don't live in California, please DONATE as much as you can as quickly as possible.

The campaign urgently needs money for more petitions, press announcements, validation of signatures already collected and hard costs to cover volunteer expenses. They also urgently need to end this quarter with as much money in donations as possible, since the media will look at their Form 460 report in January to decide whether this important initiative is serious or not. Please make a generous donation today, so we can celebrate the end of marijuana prohibition in California a year from now and continue the leadership for all states that has consistently come from California.

Thank you,

Friday 23 December 2011

On Gingrich and the Palestinians

You know, I have to simply bite the bullet: most of my friends and relatives are Islam apologists (it's a "Religion of Peace", the "extremists" have "hijacked" it, and so on), and pro the Palestinian narrative (the Jews invaded and stole the land from long-term residents of Palestine, and so on).
The other night I was at a dinner party, when someone raised the issue of Newt Gingrich's recent statement about the invention of "Palestine".  They were getting all huffy about him, silly right-wing Republican, and all that.  I intervened and said that his statement, if you parsed it closely, was 100% correct.  I happened to have just read the evidence for this, and when I mentioned it, they stopped with their line, I think cause they recognised that I had facts on my side.  Then they asked about what was the true story about the Middle East, as all they read and watched was the main-stream media, so I got into that a bit too, as, again, I had some knowledge and facts on my side.
What's interesting, and kind of sad, is that none of them had done any research on any of the issues, relying instead on just what they saw in the MSM.
Anyway, I'm going to halt this here, as I'm not feeling that well, and maybe will update later. For now, I'll just note some references on Newt's statement.
Update: the fact that Palestinians are an "invented" people is not to say that they shouldn't have their own land -- after all, Jordanians are an "invented" people, Pakistanis too, and many others. It's just that the basis for getting their state should not be that they've "always" been there in Palestine, as "Palestinians" and were only "driven out" by the Jews, for that's not the truth either.  
Meantime, it seems to me that the writers on the right of the question -- that is, those that support the Gingrich statement -- do so in a crunchy way, like carrots.  That is, with facts and figures.  On the other side, you have soft squishy stuff, like fairy floss, emotion as "argument". An example of the latter is "We are Palestinians", by Daoud Kuttab, which is mere ipse dixit as "argument".

Gingrich's statement:
"Remember there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire. And I think that we've had an invented Palestinian people, who are in fact Arabs, and were historically part of the Arab community," Gingrich said. "And they had a chance to go many places. And for a variety of political reasons we have sustained this war against Israel now since the 1940's, and I think it's tragic." 

Read more

Tuesday 20 December 2011

"Second period of Islamic power"

...if Islamism is capturing Libya, Tunisia and Egypt, and will capture other Muslim nations as the Arab Spring advances, where is the historic evidence that these Islamic regimes can convert their states into manufacturing and military powers...
The simple answer, which is also the accurate one, is that there ain't....

North Korean People's Army Funky Get Down Juche Party

As a regular visitor to North Korea in the early 80s (for some coking coal business) -- the craziest, weirdest, but most fun thing you could do standing up -- I really appreciate the funky stuff of this crazy place.  This vid courtesy old mate, and co-visitor to the DPRK,  SF.
Update: Hitchens on North Korea: "A Nation of Racist Dwarfs".

Muslima (?) and Child

[Postscript: this post was linked at BCF, and one comment was: "now, if he had drawn Muhammad in the Manger"...]

I got the card at left from an old school mate of mine, a fine fellow I've known and loved for near on 50 years now, and for those many years an artist and teacher in Australia.

He makes his own Christmas cards each year, always a little original wood-block print, always thoughtful, simple, elegant.
But I must say, this one got me thinking: it's provocative and ambiguous.

Is the message (a) that we're all one folk, all humans, all love our babes; that -- with the church and mosque in the background -- all religions are the same? Or is it (b) a satirical take on Muslims' claim to Jesus as the "first Muslim", Jesus as a "prophet" of Islam?

I suspect it's the former, but would rather like to know from my mate, in case it's the latter.

So I wrote him a letter in response (he doesn't really do email), the first draft of which I showed my son who said it was a bit "preachy", which I agreed it was.

So I just sent him a simpler one and simply questioning "what's the message?"-- assuming, that is, that it's ok to question an artist on the meaning of his art.  Isn't the standard artist's response supposed to be that you take the piece on its own terms and make up your own mind about it?

In any case, I find this card has certainly got me thinking, and that's also one of the aims of artists, is it not? [And if the aim really is point (a), maybe then I can get "preachy".  After all, that's one of aims of we counter-jihadis, isn't it: to enlighten our friends on Islam!...].

20th December 2011
G’day Mate,                                                                                 
Got your card yesterday and it’s sure provocative!  I’m also wondering about its meaning. 
Is the message (A) that we're all one folk, all caring humans?  That despite this woman (if indeed it is a woman; you can’t really tell, can you?) being in a body bag [*], she still cares for, still nurtures her babe.  That -- with the church and mosque in the background -- all religions are the same?
And then the Babe: is it baby Jesus?  It looks a lot like the small Da Vinci painting we saw in the Hermitage in June last year; indeed surely it takes its inspiration from it, for there's no other similar "Madonna and Child" that I can find:
Madonna and Child: photo taken by me at the
Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, June 2010

Of course, Islam’s claim of Jesus being the “first Muslim” is consistent with Muhammad’s plagiarism of much of Judaic and Christian doctrine at the time, half-understood and partly-digested as his “understanding” of it was.  But, to Muslims, Jesus is not divine; he was just a person, albeit a “prophet” (of Islam!), and Christianity’s claim of Jesus as one of the Trinity is blasphemy to a pious Muslim.  Hence, pious Muslims not only don’t celebrate Christmas, but also say that Muslims should not even congratulate those who do celebrate it, since the birth of Christ, as a deity, is “shirk”, the association of others with the One God, Allah, and is “the worst of crimes”. So maybe your message is (B) a satirical take on Muslims' claim to Jesus as the "first Muslim", Jesus as a "prophet" of Islam?

So, in all, a very provocative and thought-provoking card at this time of Christianity’s most important festival, (itself of course plagiarised from earlier pagan celebrations. Then again, it's been appropriated to rather more peaceable outcomes….)

BTW:  I came across this photo of you [not included here]... at Amalfi, July 2005.  Just at the time, I now recall, that the above body-bag person’s co-religionists showed their love of tolerance and diversity in the UK by bombing and murdering their fellow citizens.

I’ve been sailing and driving through Africa this year.  Not sure what’s on next year, but would love to see you, you and family, here in Hongkers.  If you’d like to see my blogs on the travels, let me know and I’ll send you the links.

I remain an atheist, but now term myself a "Judaeo-Christian Atheist": in that our culture and civilisation, its reformation and enlightenment – its tolerance of we atheists -- are grounded in those two Abrahamic faiths, and not at all on the other allegedly Abrahamic faith.

So.. as a Judaeo-Christian Atheist, I wish you a very Merry Christmas!   

(And hope you keep me on your Christmas Card list, after this bit of a rant…)
Cheers, ...

[*] PS: “body bag person”: bit rude innit?  Well, consider the Da Vinci painting above: the love of the Virgin for her Babe shines from her face.  It's important that we see her face.
But what is the person in the body bag thinking?  Given that leaders of Hamas have said babies are viable tools in suicide bombing??  What’s s/he thinking?  Is it love of child?  Or hatred of infidels? One can't tell. There are many good reasons to revile the burka.  Many free-thinking Muslim women revile it.  Just one of the reasons is security; seeing the face; judging.
[Click on "Burka" at the left under "Labels" to see other posts on it]

Monday 19 December 2011

Long Live the Hitch!

Hitch at home, Washington D.C.
April 26, 2007.  
Christopher Hitchens died on December 15th and the memorials since have been prolific and warm.

A mark of the greatness of this essayist and polemicist -- perhaps the best since his hero Orwell --  is that the obits were as generous from the left as the right.  In the "counter-jihad" and usually right-ish bloggosphere, he was remembered for his sound stance on the "religion of peace", even as he savaged their icons like Kissinger.  For example, Robert Spencer salutes him here. (With great vid of Hitch tearing apart the world's favourite "moderate" Muslim, Tariq Ramadan). While on the left, his deft wit and independence were celebrated, even as he savaged their icons like Michael Moore.

Graydon Carter, the editor of the rather lefty Vanity Fair said something like -- and I paraphrase -- "if you read Hitchens, you felt you knew him; if you knew him, you felt blessed".  That's one wonderful RIP, right there. Carter's in memoriam is here.

From, where he wrote a regular column "Fighting Words", the main link to memorials and his essays is here.

From Vanity Fair: the main links and essays are here.

Author Ian McEwen, in the New York Times, "Christopher Hitchens, consummate writer, brilliant friend".

He was described as the world's most important public intellectual. I read all his stuff and was a great fan.  Though he did surprise me a touch with his bottom line on Israel, towards the end of his memoir "Hitch-22"...

We miss you, Hitch!  Long live Hitch!
PS: there's a rare vid of Hitch taking apart Chris Hedges a leftie columnist at Truthdig and making some pungent points on Islam and suicide bombing, here.
A sample:
.... the evil nonsense taught by Hedges and friends of his, who say the suicide bombers in Palestine are driven to it by despair. Have you read the manifestos of these suicide bombers? Have you seen the videos they make? Have you seen the manifestos they put out? The propaganda that they generate? These are not people in despair. These are people in a state of religious exultation. Who are promised everything. Who are in a state of hope. Who are in a state of adoration for their evil mullahs. And for their filthy religion. It’s this that makes them think they have the right to kill others while taking their own lives. If despair among Palestinians was enough to create psychopathic criminal behavior, there’s been enough despair for a long time, and enough misery to go around. It is to excuse the vicious, filthy forces of Islamic jihad to offer any other explanation but that it is their own evil preaching, their own vile religion, their own racism, their own apocalyptic ideology that makes them think they have the right to kill everyone in this room, and go to paradise as a reward. I won’t listen, nor should you, to anyone who euphemizes or excuses this evil wicked thing.
PPS: Death of the execrable Kim Jong-Il has just been announced. Here's Hitch on North Korea: "A Nation of Racist Dwarfs" (!), Slate, Feb 1 2010. 

"Off with long beards and Muslim Veil"

What the Chinese authorities are concerned about, of course, is that these outward dress and facial hair choices are markers of Islamic piousness, and that piousness is in turn a marker for potential violence -- the Koran and Hadith are clear on what the pious Muslim must do to infidels such as the Chinese communists....
From the South China Morning Post, 16th December 2011:
A city in the heavily Muslim Xinjiang region has begun a campaign to discourage veils and long beards so as to "dilute religious consciousness", media reports said yesterday.
The notice by the government in the city of Yining was uploaded by several mainland news websites and by Hong Kong-based Phoenix Television, though it then vanished from the Yining government's website, 
Many Uygurs, Muslims native to Xinjiang, resent the rule of Beijing and controls on their religion, culture and language.
The region has seen sporadic cases of violent unrest.
The notice said the government in the Dunmaili district of Yining had decided to "further implement the party's activities to dilute religious consciousness and advocate a civilised and healthy lifestyle".
One of the campaign's aims, it said, was to end "the abnormal phenomenon" of ethnic minority people wearing Arab dress, growing long beards or covering their faces in veils.Women who had "been transformed" would be invited to hold talks to discuss their experience, as would women who had launched successful careers. Yining government officials declined to comment.
Hou Hanmin , a Xinjiang government spokeswoman, said she was not aware of the notice but that generally people in the region, including ethnic minorities, were free to wear what they wanted.
"However, for certain jobs and in education there are rules about what you cannot wear, simply as a matter of convenience," she said by phone.
Yining has a population of some 515,000 people, about 46 per cent of whom are Uygur, according to the 2010 census figures. It was the site of deadly riots in 1997.
Parts of Xinjiang have become more conservative and Islamic over the past few years, despite government efforts to reverse that trend.

Wednesday 14 December 2011

"Criticism of Islam could soon be a crime in America"

This is a terrific article by Clare Lopez.
It is suicidal for a free society willingly to collaborate with those, like the Muslim Brotherhood and the OIC, which are determined to destroy Western civilization from within—and have told us so, repeatedly, consistently, and publicly. [Read it all]

Roger Cohen: "Come home to Israel".... should really be "Come down on Israel"

... I know several Israeli expatriates or would-be expatriates and their feelings are consistent. They are troubled by the illiberal drift of Israeli politics, the growth of a harsh nationalism, the increasing influence of the ultrareligious, the endlessness of the “situation,” and the tension inherent in a status quo that will one day threaten either Israel’s Jewishness or its democracy.
They have left or seek to leave because they don’t want all that and no longer believe there is going to be significant change. The ads play to Israeli patriotism, but it’s not patriotism that expatriates lack. It’s hope that their Israel can be salvaged and a two-state peace achieved.
My second reaction is that if Netanyahu could show a fraction of the nimbleness evident when American Jews are offended in instances where Turks are offended (by the killing of their citizens in international waters), or where President Barack Obama is offended (by ongoing settlement expansion in the West Bank against his express request), or where Egyptians are offended (by Israel’s dismissal of their democratic aspirations), then Israel would be in a better, less isolated place today.
That's Roger Cohen, expiating on a recently nixed Israeli ad campaign to try to entice Israeli expatriates back to Israel. ("Come Home to Israel", NYT, December 6).
My feeling about Cohen's comments is this: that he must be either a Fool or a Knave.
He's a Fool if he believes that "reaching out" to surrounding countries is going to save Israel's Jewishness of its Democracy.  All of history since 1948 indicates otherwise [*].  Acceptance of UN Resolution 181 in 1947 and its two states led to war on the new Israel by surrounding Arab countries; acceptance of Resolution 242 by Israel was countered by non-acceptance by Arab countries; Camp David 2000 gave the Palestinians 97% of what they demanded, but led to the Second Infifada.  Handing back Gaza led to intensified rocket attacks on Israel, indiscriminate in their aim. What on earth is there to suggest -- in a much more violently inclined region -- that being "nimble" in dealing with these states, reaching out, to them, would be met with warm huggie-feelies?  Answer: nothing.
He's a Knave if he knows all this, but suggests what he does above, anyway. If he knows and still promotes reaching out by Israel, he's advocating suicide by Israel.  And maybe that's his real agenda, in common with many left-leaning "pro-Palestinians" in the West, including many Jews in America, and increasingly much of the MSM.
Perhaps the status quo is dangerous -- indeed, it certainly is.  But "reaching out", being "nimble", with no acceptance on the other side of Israel's right to exist in security (per Res 242) is more than dangerous. It's suicide.
Why, oh why, don't critics of Israel, if they're genuine in seeking a "two-state" solution, put the heat on where it needs to be: on the feet of the Palestinians, for having failed over sixty years, to offer any genuine security for a recognised Israel, all that's required for peace.
The old saw is true: "If Palestinians lay down their arms there will be peace; if Israel lays down its arms, it will be annihilated".

[*] See also: "31 Opportunities Squandered in Favor of Genocide. Part I", David Meir-Levi, FrontPage Magazine, July 15, 2011. Part II here.

Tuesday 13 December 2011

The Muslim Brotherhood is "moderate... non-discriminatory... a terrific partner for the West"... NOT!

Chit-chat over a hummus and all is right, right?  Right??
Kristof chows down on his research on the Muslim Brotherhood.
Nicholas Kristof has anointed himself -- or I so anoint him -- the spruiker-in-chief for the Muslim Brotherhood.
Take his latest piece, "Democracy in the Brotherhood's Birthplace" in the New York Times of December 11, a follow up to one just days ago "Joining a Dinner in a Muslim Brotherhood Home", of the 8th.  It's what I call "analysis by anecdote".  It includes the quotes in the headline above: "moderate... non-discriminatory... a terrific partner for the West".  What nonsense!
This is the style: you find someone -- a taxi driver most simply and obviously, or someone at a coffee shop near the town square -- you interview them, and, if they fit your world view of the situation, you quote them.  Thus: "so-and-so has seen it all in her young life.  Father in the Party, before the revolution, she has suffered in the aftermath of the breakdown of law and order in [insert country here], but her resilience and courage has seen her struggle through the worst of post-revolutionary [xxx].  She says 'da di da di da....', revealing a key aspect of the current situation which is [insert you bias here]".
Kristof does this "analysis by anecdote" by doing dinner.  Thus (from "Joining Dinner" above):
First, meet my hostess: Sondos Asem, a 24-year-old woman who is pretty much the opposite of the stereotypical bearded Brotherhood activist.
So, you see, she is "moderate", and therefore so must the Brotherhood be.

And, (from "Democracy in the Brotherhood's Birthplace"):
“They do good social work,” acknowledged Ahmed Kenawi, himself a social worker who hasn’t yet decided whom to vote for.

“The other parties, we just don’t see them,” said Samah Abdulkarim, a 25-year-old teacher who said she is supporting the Salafis. “Or, if we do see them, it’s only during the election season.”
I asked her if the Salafi parties would curb female professionals like herself, and she looked puzzled. No, she said, Salafis are good for women because they help needy women.
So, you see, the Muslim Brotherhood is a caring charity and "good for women".


The way the Muslim Brotherhood has been covered in the MSM since the start of the revolutions in Arabia is like this: first was "who is this 'Muslim Brotherhood'? Never heard of them".  Then, after a month or so, as they'd had a chance to read up on them, it was "my goodness me, they may be something not quite nice and democratic".  Then, a while later when they realised that the MB was going to win big in the Egyptian elections it was back to default mode which is "well, they won big, but they're really just a social-working outfit and we can certainly work with them".  Which is where we are now.

But the MB is a patient and clever outfit.  It practiced its patience during the time, from Nasser to Mubarak, when it were suppressed and outlawed. Now it has power in its grasp, it's not about to endanger it by coming on all strong about their aims for establishment of Sharia law and abrogating the treaty with Israel. It will wait until its Brothers are firmly empowered and then implement their program.  To remind what that program is, the motto of the MB is:
[just a minute here!  I happened to be on the New York Times' website, so I thought I'd do a search of the Brotherhood motto there.  It's nowhere on the site. Instead, just as an example of the liberal-left  rosy-eyed view of the Brotherhood, I found this bit of nonsense, updated 9th Dec 11 (I wonder if the update is to make it more of the wussy pussy that Kristof argues it is):
The Brotherhood, a group that virtually invented the Islamist movement eight decades ago, is at its core a middle-class missionary institution, led not by religious scholars but by doctors, lawyers and professionals.] Source.
Oh dear.  I'm sure there are "doctors, lawyers" and so on. But there are also many, many out and out Islamists, like Sheikh Al-Qaradawi, its spiritual leader.

For the record, the motto of the Muslim Brotherhood is:
Allah is our objective
The Prophet is our leader
Koran is our law
Jihad is our way
Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.

Now, if anyone is in any doubt is that still remains its motto, you need only read the writings of the many Brothers who are not the keepers of the sandwich and soup kitchens Kristof writes about above.  In short, the men, and they're all men, who control the organisation.  The most senior of whom is Al Qaradawi (passim), the "spiritual head" of the Brotherhood, who is a vicious anti-semite, would-be mass murderer, hater of infidels.

And then, in contrast to the naive ramblings of Kristof, we have the insights of Raymond Ibrahim, who is an Islamic, editor of the essential guide "The Al Qaeda Reader", who points out, inter alia, that the Brotherhood is the progenitor of Al Qaeda. And that they are patient, yet firm, in their resolve to bring Sharia -- and all its viciously sectarian, anti-semitic, misogynist, homophobic, 'honour-crime'-excusing doctrine -- to rule in Egypt.

This video is Ibrahim testifying before the Human Rights Commission at the US Congress, and here is the follow up.

Which do you believe?  The naive anecdotal meanderings of Kristof?  Or the doctrine-based, scholarly and learned observations of Ibrahim?

I know which one I do.  I hope the Administration does too, though I doubt it. That's not to say they should not "deal" with the MB.  But they should be clear-eyed about what they stand for. And that's simply this: a medieval view of the world, in which Jews are hated and to be killed, in which women are chattels, in which infidels are to be tolerated only if they pay a tax to Islam, in which Islam has to be spread to the world, preferably by proselytising, but by violence if necessary.

"Moderate"? "Non-discriminatory"? "A terrific partner for the West"?  Not.

Update 27 Dec, Related:
Was the Arab Spring a Victory for Extremism? Jeffrey Goldberg, Bloomberg, Dec 24

Update 14 Dec, Related:
Middle East: We're Going to Have a Revolution and We Can Do it the Hard Way or the Easy Way, by Barry Rubin, PJ Media, December 13. With more info on Yusuf al-Qaradawi, spiritual head of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Another NYT columnist "does dinner" with the Salafists and finds them pussies. "In Egypt a Conservative Tradition Transcends Religion", by David Kirkpatrick, NYT, December 10.  This was linked from the Rubin article above.

Friday 2 December 2011

The Arab "Spring": how 'naive' do you have to be, before you're just stupid?...

The Left were surprised by the Venus Fly
Trap.  The conservative bloggers weren't
I was in Egypt a few weeks back, just before the latest round of convulsions in Tahrir square.  So when I watched the news here in Hong Kong, I was, like "there!  right there!  That's where I was, right on that spot!" and so on.... making me realise just how these things can be just beneath the surface, yet you don't know they're there, ready to pop.
I went around Cairo, for example, "looking for trouble", that's how I put it to my mates: looking for signs of the earlier violence, looking for signs of the violence against Coptic Christians, that had happened literally the day before we arrived in Cairo. So I went to Tahrir and past the burnt out government building on its eastern corner, and over to the Christian quarter, where there were cops (and Copts) but nothing simmering, and no damage visible, and then to Al-Azhar university campus -- this being the oldest Uni in Islam and the seat of Sunni learning, and then to the Al-Azhar park, newly reopened, where young pre-veiling age giggling girls want to talk to me, happy as can be, and older veiling-age girls look on and chat as well, happy families on the grassy knoll overlooking the Citadel.
And yet, just a week later and they're back in the square and the Army's busy shooting them.  (well, by "they", I mean men, for it's a men-only thing now, this on-going revolution...)
And then I hear someone on the BBC say that maybe, earlier, when they'd all been giddy with the "Arab Spring", maybe they'd been "naive".  Gee, d'yah think?

"Reducing attacks is Israel's aim"

Goodness me, I can hardly keep up!  Below letter was published today in the South China Morning Post, the third of my letters published in the last few weeks, this one also about Israel, as was the one in the International Herald Tribune (the international edition of The New York Times) earlier this week.
Reducing attacks is Israel's aim
I. M. Wright makes allegations about stolen land and apartheid ("Israel intends to 'segregate' with policies", November 25).
When Israel was created in 1947 by UN resolution 181, Jews were in the majority in the region. They had not become so by driving Palestinians from their "traditional homes", but by a combination of long-term residence and 19th century immigration.
The immigrants bought their land from landlords often resident in Syria - to the extent that the area was often referred to as "Southern Syria".
Moreover, the partition of the British Mandate gave the majority of land to today's Jordan, which could easily have taken more Palestinians fleeing a war initiated by surrounding Arab states, but did not do so for political reasons (to keep the heat on Israel).
To talk of Israel's "apartheid" policies is to confuse intent with outcome. The intent of Israel's defensive tactics, including the wall, is to reduce attacks on its citizens, not to separate based on race and religion. That the outcome affects the "race and religion" of Arab Muslims is because that's who is attacking Israel.
Surrounded by hostile states intent on its destruction, is Israel meant to take no defensive action? To suggest giving land for peace, without ironclad security guarantees, would be national suicide. Israel has offered peace in return for security, and repeatedly been rebuffed.
The conclusion is: if Palestinians lay down their arms there will be peace; if Israel lays down its arms it will be annihilated.
Peter Forsythe, Discovery Bay

Thursday 1 December 2011

With friends like these... the pseudo "ally" Pakistan: serial lier and violent west-hater

The most open "secret" in the world is becoming ever more open: Pakistan supports and funds terrorism, even as it takes American money to fight terrorism.
There's a BBC series on at the moment, forgotten its name, that is all about how wretched an "ally" Pakistan is: that it is duplicitous, that it uses US military aid to fund the Taliban and other terrorist bodies that kill US and its allies' troops. It's scathing.  The BBC is a lefty outfit and has not been of a mind in the past to be critical of places like Pakistan: poor, third world, afflicted by colonialism, Islamic, and so on, all hot-button I-must-feel-sorry-for markers of the left. That the BBC is now critical of Pakistan and trenchantly so, is significant.
[Update, 2 Dec: the BBC series is called "Secret Pakistan", airing at the moment.  I see news that the BBC World News TV Service has now been blocked in Pakistan because of the series.  The much maligned (as being too "lefty") Beebs, deserves kudos for this one, for telling the story as it is: Pakistan, a putative "ally"uses  military aid money from the US to fund outfits that are killing American and allied soldiers.  And that's just the start: they're also funding the most viciously fundamentalist Islamist forces in Afghanistan, the salafist Taliban].
The second significant story on Pakistan's perfidy is in the Atlantic Monthly: in an article titled The Ally from Hell.
Like the BBC's, it's trenchant and unforgiving. And like the BBC, the Atlantic is generally lefty. So it's great stuff, that they're getting on side to the Pakistan threat, something the conservative bloggosphere has been on about for a long time.
Only thing is: in both cases they end up saying something along the lines of "this is all awful, the lying of the Pakistanis, the way they support Taliban while pretenting to help the US find and kill terrorists.  But, for all that, we have to keep them as an ally for if we don't things will be worse.  We need them to help us in the fight against Al Qaeda."
Yet, as the Atlantic concedes: focus only on Al Qaeda is too narrow and detracts from the wider fight against bodies like the Taliban, who may prove to be greater and tougher enemies than Al Qaeda.
Christopher Hitchens made a good case for dumping this "Ally from Hell", in his From Abbotabad to worse.
Maybe this is the beginning of the end-game of western, especially US, funding for Pakistan.  I hope so.  As it goes now, it's dreadful and there's no possible optimism to be gleaned.
Update, 2 Dec: Letter to the Beebs:
Congratulations on a great series and please DON’T be tempted to apologise or resile in any way in response to the Pakistani’s banning of your World Service TV cable!  You’ve done the right, honest and brave thing: told it like it is in Pakistan.  They are an “ally” in word only, in reality undermining all efforts to reduce terrorism in the region and allow the development of stable people-friendly governments.
As a long-time follower of the BBC — and a frequent critic -- this is one time you definitely deserve bouquets, not brickbats!

Yours, etc, Peter F. Hong Kong

"A pinkwash? Hogwash"

The International Herald Tribune (The New York Times international edition), published my letter yesterday.  This is unusual, as they don't often publish letters that are not pro-Palestinian or are critical of Islam.  So I guess I should say: good on 'yer!  Click the logo for link to the letter.  The Pinkwash article is here.  Another great critique is here.
Update 2 Dec: a number positive resonses, eg: I wanted to congratulate you on your New York Times letter. It was a very well articulated response. Thank you! Kind regards, Erica L. November 28, 2011
A Pinkwash? Hogwash
Regarding Sarah Schulman’s “Israel and ‘pinkwashing”’ (Views, Nov. 24): For some people Israel can do no right. Israel is the only gay-friendly country in the Middle East, but for Ms. Schulman that’s just a smokescreen for “co-opting” people into a pro-Israel stance. It is offensive to suggest that one can’t make a judgment on Israel because it’s gay friendly, that we are part of a “pinkwash.” Hogwash.
Israel remains the only true democracy in the Middle East; its Arab population is the most satisfied with its lot of any in the region.  Israel has offered Palestinians peace many times since 1947, always rebuffed, sometimes violently.
The fact that there are homosexuals in other Middle Eastern countries is irrelevant.  Of course there are: there are homosexuals in every society.  What matters is how they're treated.  The only place they are treated well, both in law and in practice, is Israel.  Yet for Ms. Schulman Israel is just out to "blind us".  Shame on her. 
Peter F, Hong Kong

Saturday 26 November 2011

Mona Eltahawy: assaulted by Islam... for wearing pants?

I see that journalist Mona Eltahawy was assaulted in Tahrir Square. There's a graphic account with pictures here.

One quote from Eltahawy jumps out at me:
".... I lost count of the number of hands that tried to get into my trousers..."
The thing is: it may be exactly about trousers. Let me explain.  Eltahawy has spoken out against the mistreatment of women in Islam.  Fair and brave enough.  But in calling for better treatment of women, she has signally failed to address the crux of the problem: that mistreatment of women is core to Islamic doctrine.  She's said for example that there's no sanction in Islam for women wearing trousers.  Wrong, Mona.

I recorded back in August 2009 how she had tackled the mistreatment of Muslim women, but had failed to name the reason for that mistreatment, and specifically about wearing "men's clothing":
Mona Eltahawy claims that there is no sanction in Islam for the various “crimes” (her quote marks) such as women wearing trousers, having sex outside marriage and drinking alcohol (“Abusing Women and Islam”, IHT August 15-16).  She is wrong on all counts.
The standard manual of Islamic jurisprudence, the ‘Umdat al Salik  is the accepted authority of all Sunni schools of Islamic, Sharia law (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i and Hanbali).  It is certified, inter alia, by Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, co-sponsor of Obama’s recent speech to Muslims and the chief centre of Islamic learning in the Sunni world.
Of women wearing trousers, it says: “The Prophet cursed men who wear women’s clothing and women who wear men’s clothing.” (p28.1.3). [more...]

It would seem that Eltahawy has been hoist on her own petard, pants in this case.  Naiveness or ignorance of the tenets of Islam is what caught her out.  There's no excuse for her awful mistreatment.  Just that if you're going to call out the abuse of women, you have to tackle what's at the core of that abuse.  Islamic doctrine. If you don't do that, no amount of "Arab Springs" is going to change the fundamental misogyny of Islam.

Note in all the coverage of Tahrir: the extent to which it's (1) Men only and (2) Very Islamic.
Update: From the The New Yorker, no less!


Tahrir Square was packed Friday. The crowd was as large and dense, with as much pushing and shuffling and squeezing as I have seen since the night Mubarak fell. Most of those present were Islamists, with untrimmed beards and close-shaved mustaches, wearing white knit prayer caps or the red tarboosh and white turban of scholars from Al Azhar, Cairo’s venerable Islamic University. Many, perhaps most, had come from distant governorates, in buses organized by the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist organizations and parties. Read more...

Israel and "Pinkwashing" -- "Whitewashing the truth"

I was going to take apart a recent article by Sarah Schulman in the New York Times, called "Israel and 'Pinkwashing'", but, as so often happens, my natural laziness and the Chinese principle of "Wu Wei" came to my aid.  Wu Wei is a Taoist concept, meaning in its simplest terms: "do nothing".  Often you face a problem: do nothing for a while and bingo! it sorts itself out.  So the tearing apart of Schulman's shoddy piece has been done, and done much better than I could have, by David Harris, in his piece "Israel and 'Pinkwashing'": what was the New York Times thinking?
[Update: 25 Jan '12: just came across an article on Schulman's piece by the redoubtable Bruce Bawer, here.  The money quote:
To be sure, it never stops being remarkable to me that anyone who professes to care about human freedom – especially someone who is gay and a woman and a Jew! – can be anything but a fervent supporter of Israel, a small free country surrounded by Jew-hating, woman-oppressing, gay-killing neighbors that are intent on destroying it.  But then this is what happens, alas, when a mind is so besotted with ideology as to blind itself to even the most obvious of realities.]
I did however overcome my indolence to a little extent, by writing to the NYT, as below.  Sometimes they print my letters, though I have a lot more success with the local rag, the South China Morning Post.  It's quite difficult to get a letter in the NYT that's critical of Islam or Islamism, or is supportive of Israel, because that's just their left-of-centre bent, but they do from time to time. Anyway, here's my letter: [Update 1 Dec: The New York Times did publish my letter... see here]
For some people Israel can do no right (Israel and "Pinkwashing" by Sarah Schulman, NYT Nov 22).
Israel is the only gay-friendly country in the Middle East, but for Schulman that’s just a smokescreen for “co-opting” people into an anti-immigration, anti-Muslim stance.  I find offensive the suggestion that I can’t make a judgement on Israel because it’s gay friendly and that I’m somehow subject to a “pinkwash”. Hogwash, I say. [btw: Schulman’s remarks concentrate on the “global gay movement”, though they no doubt are meant also for the straight community, people such as myself — straight white guys]
Israel remains the only democracy in the Middle East, its Arab population -- both Muslim and Christian -- is the most satisfied with its lot of any in the Middle East, as attested to by many polls.  It has offered the Palestinian leadership peace on numerous occasions, beginning in 1947.  That leadership has always rebuffed peace, sometimes violently, as in the second intifada after the Camp David summit.  And the view that Israel is an “apartheid” state is gross calumny.
The fact that there  are gay communities in other Middle Eastern countries is irrelevant.  Of course there are: there are homosexuals in every society on the earth.  What matters is how they’re treated.  The only place they are treated well, both in law and in practice, is Israel. Yet for Schulman — herself gay -- that’s all just out to “blind us”.  
Shame on Schulman.
Yours, etc, Peter F.

Friday 25 November 2011

Israel is NOT an apartheid state

My letter to the South China Morning Post:
I.M. Wright should study his history before making allegations about stolen land and apartheid. (Israel intends to 'segregate' with policies, Letters, 25 Nov).

When Israel was created in 1947 by UN resolution 181, Jews were in the majority in the region.  They had not become so by driving Palestinians from their “traditional homes”, but by combination of long-term residence and 19th century immigration.  The immigrants bought their land from landlords often resident in Syria – to the extent that the area was often referred to as “Southern Syria”.  Moreover, the partition of the British Mandate gave the majority of land to today’s Jordan, which could easily have taken more Palestinians fleeing a war initiated by surrounding Arab states, but did not do so for political reasons (“keep the heat on Israel”).

To label Israel as an “apartheid” state is to confuse intent with outcome. The intent of Israel’s defensive tactics, including the wall, is to reduce attacks on its citizens, not to separate based on race and religion.  That the outcome affects the “race and religion” of Arab Muslims is because that’s who is attacking Israel.

Surrounded by hostile states intent on its destruction, is Israel meant to take no defensive action?  To suggest giving land for peace, without ironclad security guarantees would be national suicide. Israel has repeatedly offered peace in return for security, and repeatedly been rebuffed.  The conclusion is: if Palestinians lay down their arms there will be peace; it Israel lays down its arms it will be annihilated.

Yours, etc,
Peter F.
I.M. Wright's letter

Israel intends to 'segregate' with policies
I refer to the letter by Robert L. Meyer ("Allegations about Israel incorrect", November 16) in reply to my letter ("In backing Israel, US is out of step", November 4).
Your correspondent makes the premise that a connection to antiquity lends legitimacy to land rights. The analogy of the English connection to Stonehenge is untenable as this ancient monument pre-dates the establishment of England by more than 3,000 years.
I doubt that Mr Meyer is suggesting that all the Norsemen, Danes, and Germanic tribesman who invaded and stayed on be disenfranchised and sent back across the North Sea?
However, such a proposition was enacted in Israel in 1948 when 700,000 Palestinians were driven from their traditional homes, most fleeing across the Jordan River.
Mr Meyer is correct that Israel is not now an apartheid state. However, it is difficult not to reach the conclusion that Israel's settlement and control regimes in the occupied Palestinian lands of the West Bank and Gaza are apartheid policies, as their intention is to segregate by race and religion.
The hackneyed US statement of a "shared goal of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East" in the context of Israel's actions in the occupied lands is most surely a mirage.
I. M. Wright, Happy Valley

Thursday 24 November 2011

"Article 23 is aimed at unruly mob": my response to a thuggish letter

My letter tackling Philip Fang's brutish article received more positive stars than any letter this year, averaging 4.5 out of 5 stars.  From a reader re that letter, one of a number in support:
Great letter to the SCMP. Thanks for sticking up for Hong Kong.
“Give me a break.” Yes, give us all a break.
I guess you kne
w that Philip Fang is Anson Chan’s younger brother. [P: actually, no I didn't and wonder what he's doing attacking his well-known sister.  Happy families. Not]
Most other letters in response to Fang's article take him on, but one on Monday supports Fang's line and the introduction of the so-called "Article 23" legislation [*] in Hong Kong: that is, legislation to outlaw "treason, secession, sedition, subversion..." etc.  It is a requirement of Hong Kong's Basic Law, though the timing of implementation is up to Hong Kong.  Suspicion of the intent of the proposed law is high in Hong Kong and the last time a serious endeavour was made to implement it on the 1st of July 2005, some 500,000 people took to the streets (I was there).  The concern was (and is) that that in Beijing's eyes -- and hence in the eyes of Hong Kong's Chief Executive, who hews closely to Beijing's wishes --  "treason, secession" and the rest would weave a net with very fine holes: many could get caught in it, simply by exercising their right to free speech, a right in Hong Kong that's been sacrosanct to date and freely exercised (unlike in China, where it is not, despite being guaranteed in their constitution)
Now it appears there's a move again to put the promulgation of Article 23 back on the front burner.  Fang's article pushes for this, and a reader, Peter Lok, shines his shoes.  Lok's letter below and mine yesterday in response below that: