In London, the Islam Channel recently held its annual “Global Peace and Unity Event.” According to their website, the purpose of this gathering is:
To encourage understanding and positive interaction between Muslims and Non-Muslims.
To introduce British Muslims and Non-Muslims to the true face of Islam.
To dispel the myths surrounding the Islamic faith and to promote dialogue.
To build bridges across faiths, communities and societies.
Well, that all sounds very nice. But, I guess one of their keynote speakers–our favorite Talibanette Yvonne Ridley–didn’t get the memo. Here’s some of the text of her speech:
Muslims who choose to be more western than Westerners make me laugh – do they realize how silly they look to the rest of the world? They hide behind such descriptions as moderate – again what sort of message does that send to our young people? If we ask them to be moderate does that not suggest that there is something wrong with Islam that it needs to be toned down, diluted?
I am afraid that we can no longer put our trust in to someone just because they might wear Islamic dress. There are those Muslim leaders who claim to guide and protect us but not all of them have our interests at heart….There are individuals who for years rallied the masses to stand up for justice and support mujahideen groups around the world and now some have become embarrassingly silent while others condemn armed jihad, portraying mujahideen as terrorists and extremists who follow a distorted version of Islam…..Our greatest shame has been our silence while martyrdom operations in Palestine and other occupied lands have been condemned as acts of terror….Our young people have to be taught that what is happening in Palestine, Kashmir, Chechnya, Iraq and Afghanistan is legitimate resistance against a brutal military occupation….
The new slaves of the West criticize Islamist parties and governance by shari’ah. I call them the Happy Clappies. They are being flown in by the Government from the US, Canada, Yemen and Mauritania to preach a diluted form of Islam.
This is a world where Arab leaders belly-danced shamelessly in front of America while handing Iraq over on a plate.The same Arab leaders look the other way as our beautiful Palestine is continually raped and sodomized…
The jihad we are witnessing in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kashmir and Chechnya is something noble, a just war against injustice and tyranny.The actions of the jihadists pose absolutely no threat to the West or Western lifestyles and their resistance is not only justified but embraced and encouraged by international law.
Well, I give Yvonne credit. George Galloway only said that Palestine was being raped by foreigners…Yvonne decided to up the stakes by adding “sodomy.”
So, congrats to Yvonne and the Islam Channel–it looks like the Global Peace and Unity Event was a smashing success in building bridges “across faiths, communities, and societies.”
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has published three reports this month critical of the Palestinian Authority (PA). First, this 101-page report faults the PA for failing to prevent violence against Palestinian women and girls. Next, HRW declared that the Palestinian Authority “should stop giving a wink and a nod to rocket attacks against civilians and take immediate steps to halt them.” And, one week ago, HRW issued this press release:
Calling civilians to a location that the opposing side has identified for attack is at worst human shielding, at best failing to take all feasible precautions to protect civilians from the effects of attack. Both are violations of international humanitarian law.
On Monday, the BBC reported that the IDF had warned Wael Rajab, an alleged Hamas member in Beit Lahiya, that that they were preparing to attack his home, and that a call was later broadcasted from local mosques for volunteers to protect the home.
“There is no excuse for calling civilians to the scene of a planned attack,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Whether or not the home is a legitimate military target, knowingly asking civilians to stand in harm’s way is unlawful.”
Various media have reported that other Palestinian officials and armed groups have voiced support for these tactics. In a visit to Baroud’s house on Sunday, Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority reportedly said: “We are so proud of this national stand. It’s the first stop toward protecting our homes … so long as this strategy is in the interest of our people, we support this strategy.”
“Prime Minister Haniyeh and other Palestinian leaders should be renouncing, not embracing, the tactic of encouraging civilians to place themselves at risk,” said Whitson.
Apparently, this latest press release was the last straw for our favorite defender of truth, justice, and free speech, Norman Finkelstein. He’s just written an article for Counterpunch (of course) titled, “Human Rights Watch Must Retract Its Shameful Press Release”:
In what must surely be the most shocking statement ever issued by a human rights organization, HRW indicted Palestinian leaders for supporting this nonviolent civil disobedience.
Why this headlong rush to judgment?
Was HRW seeking to appease pro-Israel critics after taking the heat for its report documenting Israeli war crimes in Lebanon?
After Martin Luther King delivered his famous speech in 1967 denouncing the war in Vietnam, mainstream Black leaders rebuked him for jeopardizing the financial support of liberal whites. “You might get yourself a foundation grant,” King retorted, “but you won’t get yourself into the Kingdom of Truth.”
HRW now also stands poised at a crossroads: foundation grants or the Kingdom of Truth? A first step in the right direction would be for it to issue a retraction of its press release and an apology.
Similar fighting words can be found over at the blog of Helena Cobban, “a writer and internationally syndicated columnist on global affairs” who contributes to the Christian Science Monitor, Boston Review, New York Times, Salon, and the Economist.
Cobban sits on the Middle East advisory committee of Human Rights Watch–and, not so long ago, she was defending her colleagues against the smear attacks of “Israel’ s blindly ardent defenders.”
But, hey that was then, this is now. HRW’s latest publications have prompted her to denounce “Sarah Leah and the rest of HRW’s very comfortably paid apparatchiks” and to lash out against “Human Rights Watch’s august leaders sitting in their comfy homes in New York.” (By the way, what’s the view from Cobban’s window? “The fall colors here in central Virginia are just spectacular this year.”)
Cobban argues no crime, no foul since “there has been no suggestion of any coercion being applied on anyone to participate in this quite voluntary human-shielding action.”
Maybe Cobban should pay a visit to the Crimes of War Project website, which, just prior to the invasion of Iraq, published this important reminder about prohibited behavior during times of war:
They further include prohibitions against the use of human shields or hostages, whether voluntary or involuntary, and whether by attackers or defenders, in order to protect military objectives.
Both attacking and defending military forces have independent and non-derogable legal obligations toward civilians in the course of combat operations. Their respective obligations merit equal emphasis in media reporting and commentary as well as in monitoring by human rights organizations and other concerned individuals, non-governmental organizations, and governments and international institutions.
They key words here are “voluntary or involuntary.” There’s a reason for that prohibition. By holding governments accountable–even for “volunteers”–it (hopefully) minimizes civilian casualties in times of war. And by including “voluntary” human shields under that umbrella, it prohibits governments from later claiming that civilians herded into military facilities were there of their “own free will.”
Bending these rules sets a deadly precedent, whether it’s done by the Palestinian Authority or Israel.
Much of the publicity surrounding the recently released film “Casino Royale” has dwelt on the new, blond-haired James Bond, Daniel Craig. The actor is no stranger to the spy world; he played a Mossad agent in Steven Spielberg’s “Munich.” But, as the Forward reports, “The notion of a Jew with a license to kill most likely would have aroused little enthusiasm in either Bond or his maker, Ian Fleming. Most of the 13 original Bond books made a point of disparaging Jews, a feature that was purged from the film versions”:
In “Casino Royale,” the monster is Le Chiffre, a major Soviet operative. Like all Fleming villains, he is a racial hybrid, “a mixture of Mediterranean with Prussian or Polish strains,” and has “large lobes, indicating some Jewish blood.” Goldfinger, possibly Fleming’s most famous villain, is only suspected of having Jewish ancestry, but his fierce obsession with gold pretty much erases any doubt. Ernst Stavro Blofeld (“On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”) was supposedly baptized, but he has a Semitic-sounding name and a set of those telltale “enlarged lobes.”
Even when Fleming’s Jews are not sinister or demonic, they are confined to only a few avarice-driven professions, like banking and diamond dealing.
Leave it to the Guardian to put an anti-Israel spin on an article critcizing Holocaust denial.
Behold, the latest column by Jasper Gerard:
So it is back to the phone book for TV producers after this newspaper’s fascinating revelation that BBC pin-up Asghar Bukhari sent a donation to the Hitler-apologist David Irving. We mediaistas overuse the word ‘shocking’, but how else to describe Bukhari’s anti-Jewish rant?
Sure, criticise Israel. I felt decidedly queasy reading interviews with British Jews serving in Israel’s army in Gaza. They can return here as respected citizens, yet a Brit who fights for the Palestinians might be spirited away to a privatised, off-shore torture camp on behalf of MI6. There is a moral distinction between Israel’s army and, say, Hamas, but it is not absolute.
So I hope you accept I am no Knesset propagandist. But to be so blinded by hatred of Israel is irrational. Should Bukhari and his Muslim Public Affairs Committee be grounded from BBC airspace? Perhaps not. If – and it is an if – he represents a chunk of Muslim opinion, we should try to understand him. But, please, don’t besmirch the word by billing him a ‘moderate’.
So much glib idiocy crammed into just a few words. What should I find most offensive? (1)Gerard’s assertion that there is virtually no moral distinction between Hamas and the IDF, or (2) The fact that Gerard felt compelled to demonstrate his anti-Israel credentials before criticizing a prominent Muslim public figure for endorsing Holocaust denial?
Writing in the journal Transitions, Tihomir Loza ponders the “mystery” of anti-semitism in the Balkans:
A lot of Balkan anti-Semitism is of the Mel Gibson type, drunken nonsense which, short of a major world crisis, is unlikely to have any serious consequences for anything anywhere. But its mere existence is a bit of an oddity. In fact, it is rather interesting that there should be any significant anti-Semitism in the Balkans at all. What on earth, a Croatian philosopher once wondered, could have made Franjo Tudjman the anti-Semite that he was? The first Croatian president was born in a small provincial town unlikely to have ever attracted any significant Jewish presence….What’s more, working for most of this time as a communist official, he functioned inside a system that cared as much about preserving its anti-racist credentials as promoting communism. Yet, as a nationalist leader in latter years, Tudjman couldn’t help letting anti-Semitic remarks slip into his books and public speeches, something that did not exactly help his cause internationally.
Jews never played any significant role in the region’s politics. While small and well-integrated Jewish communities lived in all major Balkan cities before World War II, very few survived the Holocaust. And most of those that did later emigrated. It is estimated that only about 500 Jews now live in Belgrade, a city of two million. In fact, very few of today’s former Yugoslav citizens have ever even had any first-hand contact with Jews and Jewish culture.
So why do so many in the Balkans seem to be anti-Semitic? Aren’t they all busy hating each other? How do they find time and energy to hate the Jews on top of those presumably more pressing hatreds for which they are known the world over?
One important point here is that anti-Semitism never happens in isolation; it tends to be accompanied by other forms of racism. And the Balkans is, of course, far from unique in this regard. Tudjman didn’t say that he was happy for the fact that his wife was not Jewish. No, he felt elated every time it crossed his mind that she was “neither Serbian, nor Jewish.” And he was not particularly fond of anyone else, least of all the Bosniaks. The Serb politicians behind the memorial to the anti-Semitic politician noted above are from a party whose leader is currently on trial for war crimes against Croats and Bosniaks.
The hatred of Jews is part of an overall hatred package that an average Balkan anti-Semite carries around. He – and it is nearly always a he – hates quite concretely, or harbors a milder degree of prejudice toward groups he actually comes across in his everyday life. But he rants against Jews when he wants to show that he knows a thing or two about the great big world out there. There is, of course, much more to this, but I think it is also important to consider that, along with anything else, much of today’s anti-Semitism is a form of escapism exercised by a particular type of frustrated men (let’s perhaps call them small-time fascists) whose ideas of intellectual engagement often revolve around conspiracy theories. And what is the world of conspiracy theory if not the escapists’ paradise?
In the beginning, there was Heeb–and it was (pretty) good. And then, lo, the “New Jew” media market became fruitful and multiplied, and begat numberous other print publications such as Guilt & Pleasure, American Jewish Life, Presentense, and so on, and so forth.
As JTA reports, the “New Jew” niche has become a little overcrowded:
“The fewer people read in America, the more they write,” Gary Shteyngart, bestselling author of “The Russian Debutante’s Handbook,” said with some exasperation during a panel discussion earlier this month at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco. “We live in a culture where expression trumps everything.”
But some people wonder whether there’s a market to sustain all these ventures. One kid with a PC who doesn’t sleep much can run a blog, but a print publication — or an extensive Web presence sustained by advertising — requires real money.
Ilana Sichel, 23, editor of the 15-year-old Jewish student magazine New Voices, is doubtful. “I’m surprised every time a new one is launched,” she says. “There’s so little money for print journalism.” Rather than a surfeit of ventures all seeking the same young adult readers, she would prefer “one or two terrific publications” where the best writers could work together. “How many sub-niches in the Jewish literary world can really exist?” she wonders.
Heeb editor Joshua Neuman suspects that the young people behind these new ventures saw Heeb’s success and imagined they could do the same. “For the past five years I’ve said over and over again that I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemies,” he cautions.
I wish that I didn’t have to keep blogging about Gilad Atzmon. In a sane world, he’d be a marginal crackpot shouting his conspiracy theories on street corners and constantly readjusting the fit of his tinfoil hat.
But, it’s not a sane world, and Atzmon remains a favorite among the anti-everything Left. As Bob from Brockley reports, Atzmon was invited to give a talk by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, despite the protests of leftist, anti-Zionist Jewish organizations (such as the Jewish Socialist Group and Jews Sans Frontieres) who speak out against Atzmon’s anti-semitism.
The Palestine Chronicle has just published an excerpt of Atzmon’s speech before the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign. In Atzmon’s view, not only is Zionism a fascist ideology, but anti-Zionist Jews are now also deemed fascists:
Now if you, Scottish activists stop for a second, ask yourselves why Dershowitz starts his book tackling the colonial aspect of Israel rather than facing its Fascist characteristics. My answer is simple. We are afraid to admit that Israel is indeed a Fascist State. It is predominantly the politically correct groups that furnish Dershowitz with a Zionist fig leaf. In fact, it is the Jewish gatekeepers on the left who have managed to reduce Zionism merely into a colonial adventure. Why did they do it? I can think of two reasons:
1. If Israel, the ‘Jews Only State’ is wrong for being a racially orientated adventure, then ‘Jews for peace’, ‘Jews against Zionism’, ‘Jewish Socialists’, ‘Jews Sans Frontieres’ etc. are all wrong for the very same reason (being a racially orientated adventure).
2. To regard the Israeli Palestinian conflict as a colonial dispute is to make sure it fits nicely into their notion of working class politics. May I suggest that a universal working class vision of Israel implies that the Jewish State is nothing but a Fascist experiment.
I would use this opportunity and appeal to our friends amongst the Jewish socialists and other Jewish solidarity groups. I would ask them to clear the stage willingly, and to re-join as ordinary human beings. The Palestinian Solidarity movement is craving for a change. It needs open gates rather than gatekeepers. It yearns for an open and dynamic discourse.
Re-join as ordinary human beings?!? Yes, it’s gotten that ugly on the pro-Palestinian, far-Left: Even anti-Zionist Jews are deemed untermenschen for speaking out against anti-semitism.
Meanwhile, Marry Rizzo, the Atzmon apologist who published this defense of him in Counterpunch, is circulating an internet petition that is a thinly-veiled tirade against anti-Zionist Jews. The petition–titled “Palestinians are the Priority: An Open Statement of Commitment to the Palestinian Solidarity Cause”–currently has more than 600 signatories (including Jeffrey Blankfort). An excerpt:
To: Those in solidarity with the Palestinian People
There are individuals within the Palestinian solidarity movement seeking to create divisions by:
* imposing unilateral agendas by presenting both sides as victims;
* sabotaging service to the just cause of the Palestinian people;
* utilising the platform of the Palestinian discourse to argue about anti-Semitism, which is not a Palestinian problem and not created by Arabs. Our primary and single concern is solidarity with the Palestinian people.
Any attempts at censoring reasoned critique of Israel and Zionism must be refused a priori, as it is in conflict with the goal of seeking to protect and support the Palestinian people – as their empowerment is the only way to peaceful coexistence for all the populations of the Middle East. We demand free speech for sincere critics of Zionism and call for an end to campaigns created in order to ostracise its most vocal critics.
It just keeps getting creepier and creepier….
An article in The Tyee describes the alliance between Islamists and Canada’s “anti-war” Left, and the response from progressive Muslims:
Earlier this week George Galloway, the vice-president of Britain’s Stop the War Coalition and the darling of Canada’s “anti-war” left, was on a whirlwind run of speaking engagements in Ontario — one of which was a celebration to commemorate the 74th anniversary of the founding of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party….For decades, the SSNP was known mainly as a shadowy terrorist organization distinguished by its practice of turning emotionally-disturbed young women into suicide bombers.
If you’re already wondering how any of this could possibly have anything to do with being opposed to war, just hang on. You’re not alone. There’s a reason, and it’s directly related to what the historian Taj Hashmi, a former vice-president of the Canadian Muslim Congress, calls a “curtain of fear” that has fallen upon Canada’s writers and intellectuals in the matter of addressing political currents at work in Canada’s Muslim communities.
It’s mainly a fear of being called Islamophobic, and because of it, too many people on the left in Canada have been reluctant to openly side with progressive Canadian Muslims in their struggle against elements that Hashmi says are “ultra-conservative and really, really reactionary,” and which have found a particularly comfortable home for themselves in Canada’s anti-war coalition.
“My personal view is that we should crush fascism wherever it comes up,” Hashmi told me, “but many people on the left don’t even see it when it’s there. And one of the most dangerous things that is happening is that the left and the Islamists have found common cause, and it’s very frightening.”
Earlier this year, Hashmi and ten other prominent and progressive Canadian Muslims issued a warning, which first appeared in the Toronto Star, calling on all Canadians to reject the Islamist agenda and to stand shoulder to shoulder with Canadian Muslims to reject both Islamophobia and Islamism. “Islamism is not the new revolutionary movement against global forces of oppression, as a section of the left in this country erroneously perceives,” Hashmi’s declaration pointed out.
You can read the full text of Hashmi’s declaration here.
Two new articles critique Walt and Mearsheimer’s essay on the “Israel Lobby”:
Martin Kramer of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy seeks to outflank the two professors by outlining the “realist case” for the U.S.-Israel alliance:
The corner of the Middle East along the eastern Mediterranean has been free of crises requiring direct American military intervention. This is due to American support for Israel–a support that appears so unequivocal to the Arabs that they have despaired of overturning it.
Compare this to the situation in the Persian Gulf, where American allies are weak. There, the absence of a strong ally has bedeviled American policy and forced the United States to intervene repeatedly. The irresolute Iranian shah, once deemed a United States “pillar,” collapsed in the face of an anti-American upsurge, producing the humiliation of the embassy seizure and a hostile, entrenched, terror-sponsoring regime still bent on driving the United States out of the Gulf. Saddam Hussein, for some years America’s ally, launched a bloody eight-year war against Iran that produced waves of anti-American terror (think Lebanon), only to turn against the United States by occupying Kuwait and threatening the defenseless Saudi Arabia.
Absent a strong ally in the region, the United States has had to deploy, deploy and deploy again. In the Kuwait and Iraq wars, it has put something like a million sets of boots on the ground in the Gulf, at a cost that surely exceeds a trillion dollars.
In the Gulf, the United States has no true allies. It has only dependencies, and their defense will continue to drain American resources until the day Americans give up their SUVs. In Israel, by contrast, the United States is allied to a militarily adept, economically vibrant state that keeps its part of the Middle East in balance. The United States has to help maintain that balance with military aid, peace plans and diplomatic initiatives. But this is at relatively low cost, and many of the costs flow back to the United States in the form of arms sales and useful Israeli technological innovations.
Meanwhile, over at Commentary, senior editor Gabriel Schoenfeld debunks their scholarship, and notes that, when it comes to anticipated accusations of anti-semitism, the professors doth protest too much:
Clearly mindful of the disreputable connotations of the ideas they propound, not to mention the disreputable company they thereby put themselves in, Mearsheimer and Walt are careful to cover their enterprise with a whole series of disclaimers. Identifying themselves as members of the mainstream foreign-policy establishment, with “impeccable, even boring, middle-of-the-road credentials,” they assure us that they “recognize that all of us have many commitments and affinities,” and they concede that it is “entirely permissible for those different commitments and attachments to manifest themselves in politics.” Categorically rejecting the charge that they are in any way anti-Semitic, they have gone so far as to write in the British Guardian that “both of us are philo-Semites and strongly support the existence of Israel.”
Their own rhetorical tropes, sure signifiers of well-worn themes and accusations, give them away. Thus, these boring, middle-of-the-road scholars speak with something other than scholarly precision of the “stranglehold,” no less, that the “Lobby” exercises over Congress; of Jewish “manipulation of the media”; of Israel as the “tail wagging the dog” of the United States; of the “Lobby” working overtime to “squelch debate”; of Jews in the U.S. government “manipulat[ing] intelligence” to steer the U.S. into a war against Iraq on Israel’s behalf; of these same Jews pursuing policies that will give Israel a “free hand” while “the United States does most of the fighting, dying, rebuilding, and paying”; and much more of the same.
The wonder is that those ideas, thinly camouflaged in professorial doubletalk, are being seriously peddled not by the likes of Ford and Coughlin but by two highly respected professors from the heart of the American academic establishment. An even greater source of wonder, and of dismay, is that those ideas have met with a large degree of acceptance in the elite circles from which Walt and Mearsheimer hail.
Speaking in Des Moines on September 11, 1941, at a moment when Europe was awash in genocidal anti-Semitism, Charles Lindbergh mounted a brazen effort to introduce age-old gutter concepts about the Jews into mass circulation here at home. Great American hero though he was, he failed. Back then, the center, especially the liberal center, held: Lindbergh was roundly denounced, and terrible world events, beginning with a direct attack on the United States, soon foreclosed further progress along his sinister path. Today we are witnessing something like the reverse. In the wake of terrible world events, including a direct attack on the United States and a global resurgence of anti-Semitism, the citadels of learning—the great and vital center of liberal thought—are hosting and defending the jackals.
Well, this has been a long time coming.
Anti-semitic French comic Dieudonné and the far-right National Front Party led by Jean-Marie Le Pen have been wooing one another for months.
In February 2006, Le Pen’s daughter Marine Le Pen told the European Jewish Press: “I don’t think Dieudonne is a danger to anything….Let him do what he wants. I accept dialogue with anyone. I would consider eventually discussing with him. “
In April 2006, the far-right journal Le Choc du mois (The Shock of the Month)–which hadn’t been published since 1993, when it ran an interview with Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson on the “myth” of the gas chambers–published an exclusive interview with Dieudonné. The newspaper Le Monde reported on the interview: “Dieudonné parades the notion of a common destiny with the leader of the National Front: ‘He is the true Right, I am the true Left, the New Empire does not like either one of us.’ He admits to being “culturally left”, and feels an affinity for Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela. “
And now, the Independent reports:
There is a political saying in France that the “extremes touch”. Even in France, however, the extremes rarely shake hands in public.
Mouths gaped last week when Jean-Marie Le Pen, veteran xenophobe and leader of the powerful French far right, chatted amiably in public with Dieudonné M’bala, a black comedian, one-time anti-racist campaigner, now the champion of a conspiracy-obsessed and anti-Semitic segment of the far left.
Dieudonné (always known by his stage name) turned up at the annual Red-White-Blue festival of Mr Le Pen’s National Front at Le Bourget, allegedly on a whim and “just to have a look”. It later emerged that the visit, and “chance” meeting between the two men, was planned by senior NF officials, with Mr Le Pen’s and Dieudonné’s knowledge, though the two men managed to avoid being photographed together.
What was going on? Dieudonné, 40, who has his own political comedy theatre in eastern Paris, has broken with many former friends on the left by insisting that all the ills of the world, and especially the problems of black people, can be traced to Israeli and Jewish influence. He was convicted earlier this year of making anti-Semitic statements.
Mr Le Pen, 78, was once a scarcely disguised anti-Semite and racist himself. Even last summer he was complaining that there were too many black faces in the France football squad at the World Cup. But he has tried to re-invent himself in recent months as a democratic nationalist and patriot, open to French people of all races and religions. Being seen with Dieudonné could help to enlarge his appeal in next spring’s presidential election.
But Mr Le Pen’s National Front is riven by internal quarrels. Unreconstructed racists within the party jeered and insulted Dieudonné when he turned up at the NF festival, forcing him to leave early.