December 21, 2012

Protecting the Child from Darkness

I have been meaning to write several posts of late, but here it is that I finally get around to it. What was timely then has since been passed by events. In the interim came the Connecticut elementary school killings, a momentous tragedy, exploited by the media until it becomes just another spectacle for mass consumption, diversion, indoctrination, until the next thing comes along. My heart goes out to all those whose lives have been altered. One can hope something positive may result from this darkness.

Darkness affects the child in other ways. The first post I planned to write dealt with children, too, and education, but along the much different lines of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, adopted in 1959 by the UN General Assembly as a precursor to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which codified its principles into international law. Principle 10 of the Declaration says:
The child shall be protected from practices which may foster racial, religious and any other form of discrimination. He shall be brought up in a spirit of understanding, tolerance, friendship among peoples, peace and universal brotherhood, and in full consciousness that his energy and talents should be devoted to the service of his fellow men.
How far astray the international community has drifted from its role to give protection when it refuses to take a stand against something so basic as this:

No behavior by others, like building settlements (even if illegal), can justify or absolve responsibility for this behavior, as a type of offset. It is a violation of the child in every instance. States have an independent legal duty under the CRC treaty to protect the child against all other forms of exploitation prejudicial to any aspects of the child's welfare.  

How far away has the international community drifted when it actually promotes the very things it agrees in law and spirit not to do? Recently, a poem read by hosts of a youth program on Palestinian Authority TV glorified plane hijackings, terror, and hatred of Israel and the US, including:
“Expect us always, expect us where least expected. We’re in every airport, and in every ticket… A small rifle in the hand of a small boy can kill the big one.”

The program, Speak Up, is co-produced with the Palestinian youth NGO PYALARA, funded by the EU, the World Bank, Switzerland, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden. It has also praised suicide terrorists in their TV programs, saying that they are "role models."

What boggles my mind even more is the ignorance I observe in many well-intentioned, highly educated people, who define themselves as progressive, when it comes to the matter in general, combined with a tendency toward overall indifference that sees things as tit for tat, unable to discern a qualitative distinction concerning the ongoing conflict between Arabs and Jews.

That is the other post I intended to do, and it will follow relatively soon.

(Hat tip to Elder of Ziyon and Palestinian Media Watch)

December 3, 2012

Expanding on a comment I wrote at Harry's Place

Watching how the reaction has been to Israel's decision to build more settlements, it seems that the  instantaneous world, built on the sensational 24 hour news cycle and ability to manipulate the audience, has outstripped human capacity to think and reflect. Actions are reflexive and usually for the worst because, to a large extent, they are not self-driven.

Ironically, at a time of so much knowledge and technology, you'd think we could create a better world.

If some states and people cannot yet see through the Arab inspired Islamist imperialism, laced with genocidal intent and incitement, then it will require more of it. One can only bring the mule to the water trough, and you know the rest of that story.

It is particularly sad to see the lack of morals in Europe, where states entertain the status of diplomatic relations towards Israel, due to settlements as yet unbuilt, while giving reward to Palestinian violations of the most fundamental obligations of war to civilians, not to mention international agreements. The ability to see right from wrong appears lost.

On one level, it's as if they use Israel to try and purge their own history, putting the collective Jew in the worst place, blind to the fact that their disparate treatment constitutes and is a continuing pattern of antisemitism. Would their states in a similar circumstance live up to the standard of perfection imposed on Israel, the singular Jewish state?

In this environment it becomes easier to look the other way concerning basic facts about unlawful Arab aggression after the the lawful creation of a Jewish homeland and state, the unlawful occupation by Arab forces between 1948 and 1967, or the other clear indicators of malicious intent, such as poisoning the minds of their children toward Jews and even Europe itself. To the contrary, they act from fear of the aggressors combined with greed for resources. Eurabia has arrived.

A web post by Greg Lukianoff made an interesting point about how "smart" some people are, in the context of speech and toleration of thought at the university. It applies in Europe, too, particularly among the so-called intelligentsia that seeks out ways to prop up the "oppressed" at the expense of seeking a balanced narrative. He says:

If higher education were living up to its goal of making people deeper, sharper, and better critical thinkers, we could reasonably expect to live in a golden age of discourse. After all, more of our population is college educated than ever before. But I don’t believe anybody thinks that’s the case. By tolerating censorship and by making it risky for students to honestly speak their minds, universities encourage students to play it safe and talk only to those students with whom they already agree — a tendency that can’t help but spill over into the world off campus once those students leave. This means that higher education, an institution that should be opening people’s minds to new ideas and dissenting opinions, may actually be supercharging our political polarization.

One of the most intriguing pieces of data I came across while researching Unlearning Liberty is that there is an inverse relationship between how much education people have and how frequently they talk to those with whom they disagree politically (this research is covered briefly in Diana Muntz’s excellent Hearing the Other Side: Deliberative versus Participatory Democracy). In other words, there is evidence that the more schooling you receive, the tighter your echo chamber becomes. A truly educated person, however, should develop the intellectual habit of actively seeking out challenging debates rather than settling into a self-affirming clique.

I think Mutz has nailed it. The smartest are just too smart to hear anything from others besides agreement of how smart they are, so it must be right!

Hard to believe, but actions at the UN and in world affairs will need to deteriorate further before enough people become more cognizant of the forces at work, so that elitist, monotone high theories, developed in echo chambers, will garner the repudiation they richly deserve.

The tragedy is that, but for prevention, so much despair could have been halted and even reversed.

(Link to Harry's Place)

November 22, 2012

Words Are Weapons of Mass Destruction

This is a must read argument by David Keyes, Executive Director of Advancing Human Rights and co-founder of

Keyes was called a "pioneer in online activism" by The New York Times and contributes to Newsweek/The Daily Beast. He has written for The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, Reuters, The Huffington Post and many other leading publications, has appeared on MSNBC, PBS and Bloomberg TV, and has spoken on human rights in the US Congress. He created the First Annual Saudi Women's Grand Prix. He graduated from UCLA in Middle Eastern Studies and completed a Masters in Diplomacy at Tel Aviv University. He speaks Arabic and Hebrew.

Here is Keyes in a short video from 2011, discussing the rights of women in Saudi Arabia.

Keyes's article appeared in Foreign Policy, regarding Hamas, whose leaders commonly call the death of all Jews and all Americans. In other words, for genocide. As the world blinks and looks the other way.

How comforting for a Jew or Israeli, threatened with extermination, to understand that only others are seen as victims of hatred and aggression.

Keyes says:
Instead of welcoming independent thought, Hamas has filled Gaza’s airwaves, summer camps, and schools with the most incendiary rhetoric imaginable. Children are taught a mix of unremitting hatred and wild conspiracy. Perhaps most troubling is glorification of death. Hamas leaders like Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh proudly declare that “death for the sake of Allah is our most supreme desire.” The deputy speaker of the Hamas parliament, Ahmad Bahr, explicates a hadith by saying, “When a man is having sex with his wife, he should be praying for a son who would wage jihad for the sake of Allah.” Of Americans and Israelis, he adds, “They are cowards, who are eager for life, while we are eager for death for the sake of Allah.” How can children in Gaza love life over death when their leaders teach the opposite?
Democracy in Gaza cannot succeed under such conditions. Language is both a reflection of society and a self-fulfilling prophecy. Hamas’ rhetorical war on liberalism, dissent, sanity, and compromise is strangling any hope of civil society and democratic transition in Gaza. It’s hard to arrest every dissident, but make an example of a few and threaten the rest, and you’ve achieved the same goal. Tolerance does not occur in a vacuum. It is cultivated in families, schools, media, and the language of everyday life. Stifle free speech and mindless policy has a way of making it to the top.
Some are tempted to draw equivalency between incitement in Gaza and incitement in Israel. It goes without saying that there is a degree of hate-speech in every society.
For those that only seem able to see things by way of comparison:
More important than the clear quantitative difference between the extreme rhetoric that sometimes occurs in Israel and the government-sponsored hate-speech in Gaza is the space allowed to confront such extremism. In open societies such as America and Israel, radicalized speech is countered by a vibrant free press in which political leaders are routinely castigated and held accountable for their words. Closed societies like Gaza do not allow for dissent to challenge authority, and therefore hate-speech reigns supreme.
Perhaps the message Keyes tries to deliver will be heard and understood in the larger context of this struggle, not only when it comes to the war of words, but analysis of the actions that follow and the manner in which the actors treat both others and their own.

Talk about a little media bias

Came across this video clip at Honest Reporting of a BBC interview of Gil Hoffman, the chief political correspondent and analyst for The Jerusalem Post, concerning Operation Pillar of Defense. To me the anti-Israel bias is evident, and becomes most pronounced as the seconds pass. Watch and decide for yourself.

The sheer logic adopted by the questioner is perplexing. Jeffrey Goldberg asks if such a person, that obsesses over proportional body counts, believes there is a moral difference between attempted murder and successfully completed murder. He states further:
[T]he Israeli body count isn’t low because Hamas is trying to minimize Israeli casualties. Quite the opposite: Hamas’s intention is to kill as many Israelis as possible. Without vigilance, and luck, and without active attempts by the Israeli Air Force to destroy rocket launchers before they can be used, the Israeli body count would be much higher. The U.S. judges the threat from al Qaeda based on the group’s intentions and plans, not merely on the number of Americans it has killed over the past 10 years. This is the correct approach to dealing with such a threat.
When the "objective" media uses its pedestal in a biased manner, it contributes to the dysfunction and ignorance that exists among us. This video is a drip in what is no longer a bucket, but a barrel, and which is in jeopardy of turning into a tank of bias.

And don't even get me started about Pallywood.

Addendum: Honest Reporting has compiled The Media War Hall of Shame. It is worth a perusal.

November 14, 2012

Human Rights and Abuse at the UN

Last September, Sudan withdrew its candidacy to join the Human Rights Council (HRC) that already included systematic abusers of human rights like China, Cuba, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Mauritania, where up to 800,000 people in a nation of 3.5 million live as chattel. Perhaps the withdrawal occurred as a consequence of the indictment of its presidentOmar Al-Bashir, by the International Criminal Court for genocide, war crimes and and crimes against humanity.

Then again, no worries, Mr. President! By a vote of 176 of 193 member states, Sudan was just elected to the 54-member Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). ECOSOC is the main UN body for addressing matters related to “promoting respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.” This includes making resolutions, recommendations and drafting conventions.

Al-Bashir's regime will now, among other things, help to select members of the Commission on the Status of Women, the executive board of UN Women, and UNICEF. Since ECOSOC accredits and oversees human rights groups at the UN, Sudan will also help decide which groups may participate at the HRC. The Committee on NGOs, comprised of 19 ECOSOC states, has often led to the rejection or expulsion of human rights groups that dare criticize repressive member states.

In 2004, the US Ambassador walked out of ECOSOC after Sudan was elected. The Obama Administration has since claimed to be "working overtime to keep the worst offenders off UN bodies," and would:
"assert a common-sense principle across the UN: if a member state is under Security Council sanction for weapons proliferation or massive human-rights abuses, it should be barred, plain and simple, from leadership roles.... [W]e are fighting, quite simply, to ensure that member states’ actions at the UN match up to the UN’s."
So what has been heard from the US, not to mention the European Union, UN chief Ban Ki-moon, or human rights commissioner Navi Pillay? According to Hillel Neuer of UN Watch, not much of a whimper.  
"On the same day we hear that Sudan is killing babies and burning homes in Darfur -- precisely the kind of dire situation ECOSOC should be urgently addressing -- the UN has now made vital human rights protection less likely than ever. ... It's inexplicable that 176 of 193 UN member states voted to support the blood-soaked regime of Omar Al-Bashir...."
"By granting the seal of international legitimacy to a mass murderer, the UN human rights system has today diminished its own credibility, and cast a shadow upon the reputation of the organization as a whole. ... Why have world leaders lost their moral voice? Those who failed to prevent it must at least now speak out for the victims of Darfur, and for basic decency and morality.”
Until the UN is able to reign in this tendency to allow abusers to pervert the institution both to shield themselves from scrutiny and permit them to point fingers at others, it will never become the bastion of human rights where the individual can hope for protection, despite what portends in the UN Charter, "to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women," that the abusers claim allegiance to, then flaunt with virtual impunity.

November 7, 2012

Can you open your mind? (with Update)

I read at another blog an open message to those on the losing side, an attempt to come together, that ended as such:
So what I am asking of my Republican and conservative friends, family, and readers is this:  IF, in four years, America is not a socialist hellhole, if in four years there have been no moves to limit freedom of religion or Second Amendment rights, if in four years the divorce rate is the same or lower, if in four years Iran does not have a nuclear weapon and Israel is in the same or a better security situation than today and has not been abandoned by this administration...

will you open your mind to the possibility that the above mentioned entities, the Fox Channels, the Allan Wests, the Barry Rubins and Dinesh D'souzas, have all been misleading you?  Will you open your mind to the possibility that these people are simply incorrect, when their predictions don't come true?
Having an open mind is not a one way street. Being misled is not exclusive to one side.

However well intentioned, the premise that only one side must open its mind to the possibility of being misled, or that its leaders may be incorrect, is a shaky one. An open-minded person, as I see it, would also acknowledge that the dire predictions of Democrats about Romney, often seen at such partisan blogs, would likely not have come true either.

If Romney had won, would those who imply only others are incorrect or misled be open enough to give the same they ask for? Those inside echo chambers may believe they are tolerant and open-minded, but they too often seem hardly different in behavior than the opponents they criticize. They are so attuned to the echoes that, I suggest, they are the more easily manipulated and misled as a result. 
A recent Pew poll found that MSNBC was more biased than Fox. It featured 71 percent negative coverage of Mitt Romney whereas Fox coverage of Obama was only 46 percent unfavorable. Positive Romney stories on MSNBC reached all the way to a soaring three percent!

Indeed, Chris Matthews, in an egregious example,  last night said, "I’m so glad we had that storm last week."

There are tons of examples to show it's not just a one-sided affair when it come to dire predictions, fear-mongering and demonization.

In the next four years, it is impossible to know what will happen. Unlike many of those who ask others to be open-minded, Obama does not come off to all as possessing the prowess he wants us to believe. So have these followers been misled? The lead-up and aftermath of Benghazi is nothing to brag about, and may involve instances of negligence and pre-election deception, such as illustrated here and here. Adopting an international approach that seems as interested in protecting defamation of religion as freedom of expression does not necessarily serve our fundamental interests or values, and it is not a close-minded or a dire prediction to believe this will make things more dangerous over time, here and abroad.

As to the election overall, assuming the Democratic candidate is not black in 2016, will he/she start with 95% of the black vote as a built in advantage, not to mention the high turnout? How much of a difference did this one aspect make in 2008 and 2012? In real terms. Ironically, things have become worse for blacks (see here, here, and here), who are subjected to a trickle down economic approach by the Administration. There are many issues and anomalies concerning the election, and I have a suspicion that all will be covered, more than is necessary, and new diversions will arise.

To me, no one should be proud of what just ended, a spectacle awash with money and deception that illustrates the crumbling of democracy and polarization of the polity. Bottom line, however, is that the status quo remains in effect. We are set for another round of seeing if Obama can govern as well as he runs for office. So far he seems much better at the latter, and I don't think I am misled any more than those that tout him in an overly altruistic manner.

UPDATE: Of course, Chris Matthews rightly apologized for saying he was glad for Sandy. The road is littered with apologies by Mr. Matthews, but what else could he do? The point remains that his first utterance was not unique, and tended to show that he and MSNBC have at least as much bias as Fox. Some are just unable to discern this obvious fact.

October 31, 2012

"A clear example of child abuse."

It's not just the religion that provides the basis for hatred of Israel in the Islamic world, but also the way the religious hatred is spread, starting with the indoctrination of children. How else to account for the following video, from MEMRI, seen on Egyptian TV:

Some will say that Israel is equivalent, with nasty settlers who control Israel. Like this?

Where are the videos of Israeli children preaching on state controlled television a religious call for Muslims or others to be destroyed? These Arab children call for genocide.

Indoctrination spreads into education. It is commonplace, not just in Egypt, but throughout the Arab and Muslim world. Hillary Clinton, addressing the antisemitism in Palestinian textbooks and education as a senator several years ago, defined what occurs, encouragement to see martyrdom and armed struggle and the murder of innocent people as ideals to strive for, as "a clear example of child abuse."

Senator Clinton said:
These textbooks do not give Palestinian children an education; they give them an indoctrination. When we viewed this report in combination with other media that these children are exposed to, we see a larger picture that is disturbing. It is disturbing on a human level, it is disturbing to me as a mother, it is disturbing to me as a United States Senator, because it basically, profoundly poisons the minds of these children. Hate has no place in the curriculum of schools, and the glorification of violence has no place in the education of children.
One example Clinton mentioned was "portrayal of the region in both maps and text in which Israel does not exist." Abbas, the leader of the Palestinians, does this, too.

The next video created by Elder of Ziyon, called "Peace" - Palestinian Style, helps to show how deep this view appears ingrained in Palestinian society.

So, the question again arises: Do Palestinians really want a state, to live in peace, or is their goal a state to continue to pursue the destruction of Israel and subjugation or eradication of Jews?

October 29, 2012

To my friends and others who say...

the basis of animosity toward Israel and Jews by Arabs and Muslims is not religion, but the settlements and occupation, I offer the following video clip from several days ago showing Egyptian President Morsi of Muslim Brotherhood fame entranced in prayer.

This stuff is standard fare for anyone that cares to look. What puzzles me is why it seems that hard to recognize what is perfectly apparent?

September 13, 2012

Ayaan Hirsi Ali on the Philosophy of Islam

While looking for information about human slavery, I came across this 2010 video of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who I find a true hero. For anyone who happens across this post, I think it's worth an hour to listen to her talk and Q & A below, or follow the link above and to learn more elsewhere. She is a fearless fighter to protect women's rights against the oppressive power of religious dogma, and a relativism in society that fears to judge any culture lest it be considered intolerant. She provides insight and substance that many simply do not know. Her contribution is important and her views appropriately part of any rational discussion of human rights and Islam.

Ali concludes that we must fight with ideas to show Muslims there are alternatives, yet so many seem afraid to allow alternative ideas to be raised or examined? Or they practice self-censorship? If we are really so smart, why is it so difficult to acknowledge the obvious dichotomy she explains?

And if you don't have the hour, then take several minutes and watch this:

August 28, 2012

The "Pro-Palestinians"

It has been suggested that I should be adding to the debate more by writing, but I see most of what is written is a repeat of different noise. Not to mention the too frequent refusal to hear what others are saying. So deeply are imbued the partisans and activists who populate the blogoshpere. I am considering if it would just not be more noise.
I just finished reading a good piece over at Gatestone, The "Pro-Palestinians", that helps crystalize the mind set of some people that are truly obsessed, but not in a positive way. The author, Hisham Jarallah, is a journalist based in the West Bank. He says, in part:
Once again, it has been exposed that Americans and Europeans who claim to be pro-Palestinian are actually just Israel-haters. These activists seem to have a problem only with Israel. For them, the Palestinian issue is just a vehicle for vomiting their hatred toward Israel, and most likely all Jews. They are your grandmother's recycled anti-Semites.
For most of these international activists, Palestinian leaders such as Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad are "traitors" because they say they believe in the two-state solution and conduct security cooperation with Israel.
These activists are on the side of the radicals in the Palestinian camp. They are closer to Hamas and Islamic Jihad than to moderate Arabs and Muslims. The Palestinians do not want support from Westerners who pretend to be more Palestinian than the Palestinians.
The Palestinians need support from people who promote democracy, moderation, accountability and coexistence with Israel. It is time that the "pro-Palestinian" activists leave the Palestinians alone and search for another cause to advance their messages of hate and violence. (Emphasis added.)
With so much human suffering and immediate wrongs occurring in the world today, in violation of humanitarian principles, the question is raised why it matters so much for some to negatively obsess over the only Jewish state while turning a blind eye elsewhere, where real crimes against humanity are taking place. How are they unable to see the discriminatory result in such action, that the effect of it is antisemitic? One can hope that time will reveal how short-sighted and misguided some folks were in the case of advocating against Israel by assisting factions that want to eliminate Jews and even themselves.

It's time to leave the Palestinians alone. But if I was another cause, I might have trepidation.

June 21, 2012

Western Muslims and the Voice of Egyptian Voters

Was over reading FrontPage Magazine this morning. To some people that I have communicated with, this alone defines me as a neocon of the highest order. No less than the abusers in the neocon crowd, these definers look for ways to tear down the people they disagree with, instead of their ideas. This personalization is a significant factor of why people get so divided over ideas.

Anyway, I read FrontPage AND Daily Kos. So what does that mean? That I am not afraid of different sources and ideas, but need them all to help develop my own thoughts. I am wary of the echo chamber, especially when the issue is controversial. Indeed, how is it possible to make an intelligent decision without consideration of competing views? Deliberative discourse is the food of an informed citizenry and democracy. Except to the partisan that could actually care less. More important to them is winning and imposing ideology.

All of this leads me to an essay by Nonie Darwish about the election in Egypt and Muslims in the West. Born in Egypt, Darwish is an Egyptian-American, the daughter of an Egyptian Army Lieutenant General, Mustafa Hafez, assassinated by the Israeli army in 1956. Her father was sent by Gamal Abdel Nasser to serve as commander of the Egyptian Army Intelligence in Gaza, then under supervision of Egypt, and he founded the fedayeen who launched raids across Israel’s southern border, killing some 400 Israelis between 1951 and 1956. During his speech announcing the nationalization of the Suez Canal, Nasser vowed that all of Egypt would take revenge for Hafez’s death. More about Darwish can be found here

Darwish noted that half of the voters in Egypt voted against the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood and Sharia, while Egyptian voters in the USA supported the Islamist agenda in far greater percentages, perhaps even 95%. She finds that these voters in the USA are more radical than the Egyptian populace overall.

As to those who live in societies where there is relative freedom, Darwish raises a larger point:
Muslim immigrants to the West have, in general, rejected taking the hard role of positively changing their countries of origin and inspiring them with new ideas of freedom, democracy and human rights. Instead, Muslims in America have focused on building mosques with aid from Saudi Arabia rather than protesting against Iran’s execution of apostates and stoning of women. They have focused on defending and lying about Sharia in America rather than teaching values of life liberty and pursuit of happiness to their countrymen. They have focused on a message of anti-Semitism, blaming America and holding Israel apartheid weeks, rather than on assimilating in America, initiating peace dialogue or holding an olive branch out to Jewish students.
Contrary to logic and to the brotherhood of all humans and cultures, American Muslim groups have maintained the same high levels of hate, anger and victim mentality that exists in many areas of the Muslim world. And now Muslim Egyptians in the West have not only ignored the welfare of the 50% Egyptians who do not want to live under Sharia, but have also ignored the reasonable fears from Islam by the American public and instead insulted them as racists and “Islamophobes.”
Why are there so few Arabs and Muslims that speak out in favor of Western values and advocate adoption in their countries? Who better to address the issues than members of a group? Because of their position, they could have profound influence in helping to bring progress, democracy and peace, both at home and internationally, using a realistic approach to existing, intractable problems, and offering positive alternatives based on principles of human dignity and self-determination.

I hope that more voices like Darwish, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Simon Deng and the "Son of Hamas" are heard, unafraid to be truthful and self-critical. So far there are just a handful of individuals, and they are often shunned, but I think they offer our best chance.

June 20, 2012

The "Son of Hamas" and "Ijtihad"

Mosab Hassan Yousef is the eldest son of Sheikh Hassan Yousef, one of the founders of Hamas. He spent his early years as a Hamas activist. He then became a spy for Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and helped prevent dozens of terrorist attacks during the second intifada, saving hundreds of Israeli lives.

Now, Yousef is planning a movie depicting the life of Muhammad, Islam’s holiest prophet. He insists that the film will be faithful to Muslim texts, an historical depiction of Muhammad’s life as told through Ibn Ishaq, an Arab historian from the eighth century who is believed to be one of the most reliable biographers of the prophet. He notes that scholars and others examine the lives of many figures of history, but Muhammad is somehow off limits to discuss or even depict in a simple cartoon.

I hope you watch the video below because it speaks for itself, and read the news article from which it came.


Yousef is engaging in ijtihad, the exercise of critical thinking and independent judgment. Such behavior was once the norm in Islam, but became impermissible as the ideology became more authoritarian, until Muslim scholars decided that, as all questions had been addressed, there was no longer any need to debate new issues that arose or to accept differing views, differing conclusions and differing sorts of influences that arose as part of the cultures of its large empire.

Harold Rhode has explained the evolution in his latest essay, Can Muslims Reopen the Gates of Ijtihad? He puts the matter in context:
The Chinese peasants who went to work as laborers for the British in Singapore in the 19th century managed to produce the economic marvel that Singapore is today. Similarly, South Korea went from a semi-medieval kingdom 50 years ago to the tenth largest economy in the world. The Muslims of Aden in southern Arabia, however, lived under British rule, like the Singaporeans, yet they remain as underdeveloped as their neighbors who never lived under foreign domination. Singapore's Lee Kuan Yu, for example, once asked a well-known scholar of Islam, "Why is it that whatever we do to help our Muslims advance fails? We provide them with educational opportunities, give them financial incentives, and so on, but nothing works. They still remain at the bottom. Why?"
In any event, I commend the "Son of Hamas" and wish him well in his venture to engage in ijtihad, not to mention all the other brave folks that seek to to express themselves freely -- without fear of reprisal, rather than merely follow the forces which now control Islam

I further commend Rhode's essay, especially to those who care to better understand the state of modern Islam and how it may become as it used to be, a center of science, creativity and tolerance.

June 2, 2012

Existential Questions Facing the Muslim World

I never had a distinct awareness of Harold Rhode until I read Existential Questions Facing the Muslim World, his recent article at Gatestone Institute

Rather than getting into a debate over who he is, as many prefer to do, perhaps a better route is to examine what he says. You need not agree with the substance, but in my mind there is certainly value to look at different sides of the issues, particularly when they are controversial in scope.

The article begins:
Many parts of the world, such as Korea, China, and India - basically medieval kingdoms fifty or sixty years ago -- are now among the pacesetters of the modern world, both producing, and improving on, existing inventions. The Muslim world, however, often better off than these countries just half a century ago, has remained as it was, or has even, in many instances, deteriorated.

This inertia in the Islamic world seems to stem not from any genetic limitations, or even religious ones, but purely from Islamic culture.

Although one can gain some insight into Islamic culture from books and other written material, if one is to really understand the Muslim world, there is no substitute for sitting in coffee or tea houses, spending time with Muslims, and asking them questions in their own surroundings and in their own languages. A result of these approaches would seem to indicate, with respect, some of the factors citizens of the Arab and Muslim world might wish to consider to use their extraordinary talents even more fully:
Whether anyone reading here wishes to delve into the factors with Rhodes is a personal choice. The topics he addresses are:
  • The Ability to Question
  • The Role of the Individual vs. the Role of the Group
  • Encouraging Creativity
  • The Ability to Admit Failure and Learn from It
  • The Learning Process
  • Taking Responsibility for One's Actions
  • How Information Is Passed On To Others
  • The Western Concept of Compromise
  • The Western Concept of Peace
  • Book Publishing
  • The Status of Women
  • The Oil Curse
He concludes with reference to Palestinians and Jews:
Palestinians, as well, are easily capable of accomplishing what anyone else does, if only their education, governance and cultural incentives were changed from destroying their neighbor, Israel, to building a felicitous society. Palestinian political leaders, however, seem to have decided that the rewards from the international community, at least for them, will be greater if they are seen as victims receiving perpetual handouts, rather than as leaders receiving rewards linked to accomplishments. The economic system seems to have evolved into bribes in exchange for promises that are never kept, followed later by the request for still more bribes.
Ironically, all genetic analyses of the many ancient Muslim Palestinian families indicate that they are largely from the same genetic stock as Ashkenazi Jewry. [...] So what is the difference here? The Jewish culture encourages questioning and thinking from an early age, whereas the Palestinian Muslim culture does not. What is encouraged instead is the unexamined acceptance of whatever is set before one, whether on government-run television or in government-written textbooks. Religion has nothing to do with this situation; Islam therefore is not the problem: Islamic culture is. Only when Muslims address their culture head-on can there be any real hope for their world to overcome its self-imposed limitations and start fully contributing to the wonders of the 21st century.
I suggest the article is both informative and thought provoking, and worth a full read, no matter one's persuasion, including those who habitually reject most anything uttered by political adversaries, and will leave it at that.

May 21, 2012

David Littman has died.

I never heard of David Littman before I started to learn about human rights, and then as it connects to Israel and an international "cooperation" that holds the only Jewish state to a standard of perfection different from any other state. This phenomenon is seen best at the United Nations, and particularly the Human Rights Council. Littman served as representative of the World Union for Progressive Judaism in Geneva, where the HRC meets. I first saw him excoriate the HRC in no uncertain terms for hypocrisy in promoting political rather than humanitarian concerns. Here is an illustration:

He spoke out repeatedly and appropriately, and here he explained his recent activities promoting human rights at the HRC:

I learned what an extraordinary life this man lived. That his wife, Gisele, writes under the pen name Bat Ye'or about the status of Jews and Christians in Muslim lands and authored Eurabia. How many that condemn this book have read it?

I learned later that in 1961 he helped rescue of 530 Moroccan-Jewish children in a secret Mossad mission, posing as a tennis-playing, Christian English gentleman living with his wife and baby in Casablanca. The details of "Operation Mural" only came to light when a documentary was made in 1986.

For his service, Littman was conferred the "Hero of Silence" Order by the Israeli government in 2009.

To me, Littman defines what it means to be a liberal Zionist. This liberal is not opposed to the nation state because it is the mechanism for which self-determination and human rights are most optimally obtained by peoples and individuals. This liberal speaks against violations of human rights by using a single 21st Century standard of universality as a point of departure, based on principles of individual liberty and dignity that states and non-state entities must respect, protect and fulfill, free from discrimination. Rights do not include freedom not to be insulted, or protection of ideology, or freedom to destroy the system on which the rights are secured. This liberal believes that the worst violations that involve the most people and suffering deserve the spotlight of action and attention. There are limited resources overall for implement and enhance human rights protection.

Littman knew all this only too well. The world is less because he represents too few, and this post is, among many, a small testament to his accomplishments to better humankind.

I hope you will take the opportunity to learn more about this champion of human rights for all, but especially those most vulnerable with the least voice.

May 11, 2012

This is "Islamophobia"

You see, it's all in the head, this claim about Muslim hatred of Jews. If it does exist, it's just a few, extremists, which does not include the Muslim Brotherhood, which is moderate and meets with our government officials.

Pro-Israel advocates, Israel, the Jewish people are in fantasy land. There is nothing to be concerned about.

Indeed, the above is a simply a figment of the imagination or a Zionist deception and existential threat against 1.5 billion adherents of Islam.

So it goes.

May 9, 2012

A World Divided Between the Antagonistic Right and Left

As of late, there is little desire or inclination to blog about much of anything. Does all the energy I see expended in the blogosphere even matter when it comes to making change? There exists a proliferation of posts, to be sure, that day after day cover the same old things, adding to the white noise. Does it accomplish anything of substance?

A problem in blogging is the need to imagine every insight is unique and indispensable. Nothing could be further from reality. To read, think, reflect and learn is more personally satisfying than trying to knock heads with others that do not care for any views besides their own, mockingly so, based on narrow agendas, paying lip service to toleration of others, yet adopting the fundamental approach of us versus them.

All of which brings me to this post. Peter A. Joseph is chairman of the Israel Policy Forum, a think tank that supports responsible U.S. diplomacy to achieve a sustainable, negotiated two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Joseph wrote an op-ed a couple of days ago that captures some of what I've expressed above. His subject matter was the boundaries dividing American Jewish opinion on Israel, and its policies regarding Palestinians. He says:
In truth, American Jewish advocacy, like Israel’s political realities, is complex and cannot be addressed effectively through sound bites. But that is exactly what voices on the fringes have offered as their efforts have been directed at rallying political bases rather than advancing reasoned policy concepts. Instead of staking out principled, nuanced positions that reflect an understanding of competing narratives, both sides have adopted an oversimplified rhetoric that feeds fierce debate in the American Jewish community and shrinks political space for pragmatic policy.
Ironically, while the American Jewish left is more vocal than ever, it also has become more irrelevant. While correctly promoting the idea that there is not only one way to be pro-Israel, the left has joined with the right to fuel a with-us-or-against-us paradigm that has resulted in the highly charged debate. The left’s vocal and consistent condemnation of the Israeli government, as well as its lack of sensitivity to Israeli public opinion, has significantly undermined its pro-Israel claims. Consequently, it has never been more politically expedient for politicians and community leaders to disassociate from liberal Zionists.
The American Jewish right shares equal blame. It has sought to capitalize on the left’s failings, seeking to turn Israel into a partisan tool that can be wielded against President Obama and undermining bipartisan consensus support for the Jewish state. Faced with a choice, many organizations, community leaders and politicians quite naturally align themselves with the right, lest they risk alienation from a comfort zone of support for Israel. Others are disengaging from Israel advocacy altogether to avoid the seemingly endless debates that often resemble a dog chasing its own tail.
Similar divides extend into political discourse between activists. This helps illustrate why knowledge and durable solutions often are beyond grasp of activists. So long as the divisive mind set predominates, which denies the existence of any other truth besides one's own, the path to obtain a secure environment where humans take precedence over ideologies will be much longer and rockier than might otherwise be experienced.

April 27, 2012

"Peddling" the Palestinian cause

We have seen and heard too much of this. One occasion is illustrated by the following, courtesy of MEMRI, the Middle East Media Research Institute, without whom we would continue to be in greater ignorance as to what is being said in Arabic, so often different from what we are told in English.

MEMRI is called a "tool" of Israel by many who "peddle" the Palestinian cause, but rebuttals to the substance of what is being communicated are rarely, if ever, heard. As if what is being said does not matter in the least. It comes from MEMRI and that is all that counts. This way of looking at things escapes me. 

Now to the story, and a brief comment afterwards. .

Faysal Al-Qassem: A Gazillion Times More Syrians than Palestinians Have Been Killed

Following are excerpts from an interchange between Al-Jazeera TV host Faysal Al-Qassem and Lebanese journalist Salem Zahran, on a program that aired on April 10, 2012 :
Faysal Al-Qassem : How do you account for this denial? The Syrian media give you the impression that nothing is happening there. The Syrian people are concerned only with barbeques, and they all hang out in the parks. Today, Syrian TV has run programs on the massacre of Deir Yassin in Palestine, at a time when the Syrian people is being massacred in Idlib, in Deir Al-Zour, in Homs, and in Hama. By God, how can you make a mockery of the people this way? Is this the time to be talking about the massacres in Palestine, when the Syrian people is being massacred in all the towns…
Salem Zahran : No, Dr. Faysal
Faysal Al-Qassem : How do you respond to this denial? Go ahead.
Salem Zahran : First of all, it's beneath your dignity not to talk about Deir Yassin…
Faysal Al-Qassem : Just answer the question, don't give me a lesson in morals. I'm asking you a question, so answer it!
Salem Zahran : Just a moment
Firstly, it's an honor for Syria and its media to deal with the Deir Yassin massacre…
Faysal Al-Qassem : What about the massacres of Deir Al-Zour, Hama, and Idlib? Thousands are being massacred on a daily basis. Who are you kidding?
Salem Zahran : The Deir Yassin massacre is part of our history and heritage. Palestinian blood is our blood.
Faysal Al-Qassem : What about the Deir Al-Zour massacre?
Salem Zahran : Don't interrupt me.
Faysal Al-Qassem : What about the massacres of Deir Al-Zour and Idlib? People are being salvaged from the rubble, and you direct your camera at Deir Yassin?!
Salem Zahran : When you're done, let me know.
Faysal Al-Qassem : Go ahead.
Salem Zahran : First of all, Palestinian blood is our blood.
Faysal Al-Qassem : It's the same old record: "Palestinian blood." What about the Syrian blood?
Salem Zahran : You should not disparage our history, our heritage, and our culture. We've lived for Palestine, and we will die for Palestine.
Faysal Al-Qassem : And you are also "peddling" the Palestinian cause.
Salem Zahran : Don't interrupt me or I won't talk.
Faysal Al-Qassem : Is this the time to be talking about Palestine? A gazillion times more Syrians than Palestinians have been killed.
Salem Zahran : You make tens of thousands of dollars in Doha, so you don't care about Palestine. But for us, Palestine is the frontier, the land of return, the main cause. All the rest are trivial details…
Faysal Al-Qassem : Right, hundreds of thousands dead and homeless are trivial…
Salem Zahran : Palestine is the main cause, and the Syrian media should be commended for mentioning Palestine. We will not make Palestine disappear for the sake of anything else. Dr. Faysal, I didn't think you would fall into such errors…
Faysal Al-Qassem : Call me a traitor and a collaborator. Anyone who doesn't believe your lies is a collaborator. […]
The loaded clip does not run, but can be found here.

"Peddling" is standard fare for many Arabs to deflect that Arabs cause more Palestinian people to suffer than Israel does. This type of "concern," exposed by the TV host as a ruse, is too easily promoted with the adoption of the Palestinian narrative as a form of incontrovertible truth.

I see the deception in how Palestinian refugees are treated compared to international refugees, particularly by their brethren. Why does collective "right of return" cancel the individual's right not to return, but resettle? I think many Palestinians would choose the path to live anywhere in the Arab world, like any other Arab may, according to my understanding. This would allow them to exercise their rights and decrease those who wish to return to Israel.

Many that violate human rights, and others, want to get rid of Israel and Jews, for essentially religious or ideological reasons. Here again "peddling" occurs, to obscure negative intentions, under the guise of self-determination and human dignity, while most Palestinians are denied agency to choose or take responsibility.

These situations are not hard to connect when one is able to step away from the singular narrative as the only truth. Stepping away can be difficult, particularly when a one sided consensus predominates a group and creates an echo chamber where ideas are not rigorously tested against each other. Without honest and deliberative discourse, the quality of analysis is average, and leads to poor decision making where democratic Western values ultimately pay the price.

April 24, 2012

Progressive Zionists and the Chilling of Intellectual Expression

Another excellent post over at Israel Thrives about Progressive Zionists, asking what do they stand for? Where I sadly concur is with the following:
But perhaps the worst disservice that progressive-left Jews do to their fellow Jews is in the stifling of discussion and debate. Because progressive Jews have absorbed much of the Palestinian narrative, they find all sorts of topics verboten.
They won't discuss the centuries of Jewish dhimmitude under the boot of Islamic imperialism. They won't discuss the recent construction of Palestinian identity, its connection to Soviet Cold War politics, and how this is an Arab people with a Roman name that refers to Greeks. They won't discuss Arab and Palestinian Koranically-based racism as the fundamental source of the conflict. They won't discuss the Palestinian theft and appropriation of Jewish history. They won't discuss "Pallywood." They won't discuss the historical connections between the Nazis, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Palestinian national movement. They won't discuss the perpetual refusal of the Palestinian-Arabs to accept a state for themselves in peace next to the Jewish one. They won't discuss the Arab-Palestinian indoctrination of children with Jew hatred. And they won't discuss Human rights violations against women, children, and Gay people in the Muslim Middle East. And they would much rather discuss the virtually non-existent white supremacist threat over the real threat of the rise of radical Islam throughout the Muslim world under the false banner of "Arab Spring."
I have been planning to write about a recent study, The Corrupting Effect of Political Activism in the University of California, by the California Association of Scholars, that illustrates, among other things, how one sided intolerance results from what is an activist approach, rather than a scholarly approach, to learning about controversial issues.

This helps explain why the narrative of the anti-Israeli proponents and many Progressive Zionists is disproportionately Palestinian to the exclusion of others. The activist desires social "justice" for the oppressed and includes an expectation that disadvantaged groups have the right not to be offended (except for Jews) in the educational and political landscape. It allows for reaction to ordinary insults and disagreeable opinions to be classified as intolerable acts of bigotry.

But it gets worse. According to the report, activist politics, "sharply lowers the quality of academic teaching, analysis, and research," and results in "troubling deficiencies" in student knowledge and achievement, "an inevitable consequence of any substantial influence of radical politics in academia, because its characteristic interests and modes of thought are the very antithesis of those that should prevail in academic life."

The report maintains that colleges are the primary breeding ground in the USA for anti-Western and anti-Zionist values to take hold, as compared to other institutions where a different orientation prevails. Not to mention, when one half of the spectrum of political thought is virtually missing in action, how can the education itself be considered competent?

John Stuart Mill famously said: "He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that." Can we really understand the case for one side without thoroughly grasping the case for the other side? Each answers and helps define the other.

Here, the result is that many students are woefully uniformed in terms of issues like the Arab-Israeli conflict, US and Western civilization, and matters of domestic and international affairs. Instead, there is reliance on a singular ideological narrative, full of holes, where true believers attempt to outdo one another to prove bona fides, as those that dare to scrutinize the dogma are stigmatized.

My view is that Progressive-Zionists will have to resolve the competition between the two competing interests. It seems they are so afraid of doing something wrong that they cannot act in furtherance of what is right.

April 15, 2012

The topic of "Humanitarian Racism"

Over at Israel Thrives, the topic of humanitarian racism is under discussion. It is an important topic for several reasons. Racism should not be tolerated in any form.

Those who loudly proclaim to be "anti-racist" should not practice racism under the guise of acting as humanitarians or proponents of human rights. One need only examine the Durban Conference in September, 2001, and particularly the NGO Forum, to understand. Read about Durban here. Check out the narrative of Tom Lantos here. Look at some photos here. The photos below say it better than anything.



This from "humanitarians," no less.

As was mentioned in the Israel Thrives post, Manfred Gerstenfeld addresses contemporary humanitarian racism head on. The humanitarian racist considers that the non-white or weak cannot be held responsible for their acts, even if they commit major crimes. Humanitarian racists also deny the existence of racism among people of color. He quotes Ayaan Hirsi Ali:
“I studied social work for a year in the Netherlands. Our teachers taught us to look with different eyes toward the immigrant and the foreigner. They thought racism was a phenomenon that only appears among whites. My family in Somalia, however, educated me as a racist and told me that we Muslims were very superior to the Christian Kenyans. My mother thinks they are half-monkeys.”
Her foundation to protect and defend the rights of women in the West from oppression justified by religion and culture is here.

The underlying views of humanitarian racists are welcome in mainstream media and prevalent among the intelligentsia, who happen to disproportionately identify as progressive or Left. Regarding Israel, this comes out through the almost complete acceptance of the Palestinian narrative and its many falsehoods, its continuous promotion that Palestinians are purely victims and not also perpetrators of criminal acts. By adopting such a skewed and intellectually crude perception of reality, humanitarian racists have become supporters, allies and enablers of the worst Palestinian behavior.

Despite what else one may be, to consider Palestinians responsible for their criminal acts and aggression, including war crimes and crimes against humanity, like any human being should similarly be responsible, is not racist at all, humanitarian or otherwise. Except if one trends into Orwellian territory that "humanitarian" racists generally occupy.

March 31, 2012

GOP Hate Causes American Problems, While Europe is So Cool

I read a diary post this morning, written by an American who lives in Germany, which purports that life across the European continent is similar for all, and certainly better than in the USA, a place from which he "survived" to become an expat. Over time, through numerous posts, this diarist seems duty bound to argue from his German perch that Europe is somehow a better place, and America is to be admonished because of its problems.

Today, we are told, Republicans cause the problems. They are a scourge and hate Progressives more than they love America, so much that they want to bring us the scenario of "The Hunger Games," a story of a post-apocalyptic world controlled by a highly advanced metropolis that holds absolute power, where children are selected by lottery to compete in a televised battle in which only one person can survive.

I do not support Republicans in most of what they say, but do black and white approaches that demonize generally help to resolve issues? Or do they help reinforce preconceived notions and take us farther away?

When some say the GOP hates Progressives more than they love America, I ask myself if they have considered how much Progressives hate the GOP? More than they love America? To read the prevailing Progressive narrative, one would think only the GOP engages in hate and only Progressives love America. 

Surely, America is a mess, but to me the truth is that both of the political parties have contributed, and we kid ourselves to believe it is just the other side.

I was also interested to see how easily a work of fiction, made for profit and entertainment, can be used to paint, in black and white, a complicated world, showing how subject people are to manipulation. Many who think they know better are no less immune from being indoctrinated by simple narratives that push their buttons.

As to the substance of the diary, that America is not fair and needs to improve, there are few among the readers unaware that other industrialized nations provide broader health coverage than in the USA. Or that average and especially poor Americans are under the gun economically. Yet there has been little concern for the vulnerable, in truth, and much more focus on the IPhone than on poverty, by Democrats and Republicans alike. Why pretend otherwise, as if one side has done so great and it's the fault of everyone else?

Yes, America has many problems that rise from the pull between liberty and equality. But the perception from a relatively secure, wealthy environment is perhaps skewed? So far as I know, the European economic picture is in its own shambles, particularly in places removed from the wealthier regions. Europe is not just Germany, but Belarus, Spain, Georgia, Kosovo and Greece, too. Just under the surface, across the continent are racial, ethnic, religious and political tensions that appear far more threatening than what exists in the USA. There is a growing democracy deficit occasioned by the EU, and a climate of human rights and tolerance where freedom of expression has become a criminal activity. 

Europe does some things fine. Good for Europe. But does that really have to do with American inequities? I would rather fix what is wrong here, absent demonization that makes progress virtually impossible, than be like Europe as it presently exists, or to imply that it is so much better because an expat in Germany has health care coverage. Europe has problems galore and and is in no less trouble than the USA, and perhaps much more so than many critics surmise.

March 28, 2012

What is the matter with Western pride?

At FrontPageMagazine is an article entitled, Western Survival Depends on Western Pride, by David J. Rusin.

Rusin implores that Westerners take care to protect and promote our core values. Not only have they improved humanity by their theory and practice, but they serve as our best weapon to defend ourselves and help the liberals and democrats living under illiberal systems.

It is absurd, yet necessary, to note that reading or citing FrontPage does NOT make one a (fill in blank). Actually, diverse sources help in the liberal search to understand the issues. Far too many ideologues from both sides adopt an echo chamber approach that requires conformity and examines sources as more determinative than the substance offered. I think that such an approach helps explain why there is so much demonization and corresponding inability both to hear what others actually say or to acknowledge one's own errors.

Rusin says:
Warraq declares that if their system is to endure, Westerners must acknowledge that “the great ideas of the West — rationalism, self-criticism, the disinterested search for truth, the separation of church and state, the rule of law and equality under the law, freedom of thought and expression, human rights, and liberal democracy — are superior to any others devised by humankind.” Likewise, it is critical to compare Western ideals to those of the Islamists, which are antithetical to liberty and increasingly threaten it.
Many Progressives these days fail to adequately see that the very Western system they oppose, through Israel and the USA, is the one that in reality affords them the opportunities and freedoms that are limited or nonexistent elsewhere. What do they offer as a replacement to the Western model? A dream? Imagine their situations if they were in Egypt, Iran, China, if they opposed the state or system similarly.

Daniel Greenfield put the matter into perspective in the context of his article discussing the crisis of Jewish Leftists, when he said:
When Peter Beinart praises the Muslim Brotherhood as non-violent, does he imagine that when Qaradawi praises Hitler for doing Allah’s work and calls for Jewish genocide that the Brotherhood cleric means every Jew but Beinart?
I think this applies to these Progressives by analogy. When it's all said and done, they are also seen as the enemy by those who wish to impose their ideology over us all. Yet, they assert that to stand for Western values, under attack, is somehow to hate, when it is actually confronting a hatred and intolerance that no one should have to endure in a peaceful world that cares for human dignity.

March 14, 2012

Abuse and Intolerance practiced by a "Progressive" Blogger

I usually refrain from things like this, but today I decided it was better to address what I see as a matter of intolerance and hypocrisy.

Sometimes I like to comment at a site called "The Progressive Zionist." (TPZ) One would imagine, with that moniker, it is a place where tolerance and respect for different opinions would prevail. After all, that is part of what "progressive" means to me.

Often, when I comment there, I am treated with great disrespect, told that I hate ALL Muslims, or that I am a Republican and should just admit it. My comments have been censored. Ironically, the last time I was called the a Republican I had just made a comment that was to the ideological left of the position being proffered. No matter. Although I NEVER use profanity or initiate gratuitous and personal insults or attacks on integrity, I cannot report the same in return.

Many at TPZ, in my experience, love to invoke name calling as a means of discourse, even as they pretend to occupy the high, honest, intelligent road. Although the site says it is "A haven for those seeking intelligent conversation on Zionism, Culture, Politics and Life" it is often just the opposite. Demonization is frequent. Censorship  Others are called deranged, dishonest. Take, for example, this comment directed at me and a blog where I contribute, "Israel Thrives," from about 10 days ago, by a fellow named livosh1:
Wow, volley. Just came to this now. I, for one, am very glad to have seen you give a dishonest right-wing troll all the respect he deserves. And count me in as one who favors taking whatever action is necessary to prevent hateful, lying, Republican bigots from vomiting all over your blog. As you said, they have their own hate site where they spew their vitriol; you should feel no obligation to tolerate such dishonesty and hatred here.
I can only speak for myself, but this seems like a hate filled comment, much more so than anything I write. It illustrates what I have noted above.

Today, a diary was written at TPZ about Gilad Atzmon, infamous to many for his antisemitic, anti-Zionist beliefs and writings. Yet to some anti-Israel Palestinians, like Ali Abunimah, Joseph Massad, Omar Barghouti, and a host of prominent professors and activists, Atzmon is now considered to agree with the ideology of Zionism and Israel.

The diary I refer to is here. It was penned by a contributor named fizziks. He used this post by Elder of Ziyon as his source.

Elder of Ziyon's site is one of the best. The Elder exposes the anti-Israel mentality that predominates among far too many. He looks at Arab news media, much like MEMRI and Palestinian Media Watch. He is also critical of many on the Left that comprise or enable the anti-Israel movement. He actually admires Robert Spencer and others that speak out against Jihad and Jew hatred. Comments at his site can be vicious, especially toward Progressives, and I have objected to some on occasion, as a Liberal. Fizziks, however, can source The Elder and receive glowing comments.

Of course, I know that fizziks is not a Muslim hater or Republican, even as he relies on The Elder. In jest, I "warned" fizziks in a comment that doing might risk him being called a hatemonger and Republican, while also addressing the content concerning Atzmon. I wanted to point out a clear example of a practice where TPZ treats some people differently than others, for basically offering the same kind of content. Such disparate conduct in other venues would be classified as discrimination.

Never one to pass up an opportunity, in steps the person of Volleyboy1, the main administrator of TPZ. What follows is his response to me, and my replies. I am sorry that my first comment has gone to the hereafter, censored by him, but I suggest that one can read what follows and come to his/her own conclusion as to what transpired.
volleyboy1 Mar 14, 2012 11:59 AM
Note to oldschool: You're post was delected because you are not welcome to come in here and simply start talking crap about what I may or may not think about this.
Unless you have something to say about the issue - please refrain from posting here. This is not high school and if your previous post is going to be how you want to do things then you are not welcome to post here.
Oh and if you come back with another "BUT I'M BIENG CENSORSED... " comment - that too will be deleted. There are other sites on the web in which to trash me or other Center / Center Left Zionists - but you sure as shit are not going to do it here.
oldschooltwentysix Mar 14, 2012 01:02 PM
I trashed no one, but merely pointed out the disparate treatment, that a contributor here can approvingly use a source that many here would be deem a hate site based on the content, while others who offer the same content are labeled haters.
I did speak to the issue as well, by offering more of what The Elder wrote and a remark about Atzmon.
If you want to practice discrimination, by treating like circumstances differently, you have that power, but I think you abuse it.
Perhaps if you did not take EVERYTHING so personal so as to make every grain of sand into a mountain, there would be more diversity and ability to discuss things. But it seems you only approve that which pleases or adores you.
You may not see yourself as a censor, but that is exactly what you are doing here, and I fail to see a good reason why. What is the problem with letting me make a point and adding to the conversation, which I did with a good-natured comment that seems to have struck a nerve by showing the disparity one encounters at your site. Or is it now above any reproach?
Why are you so oversensitive that you cannot see that my mild poking at people here that rush to label me and others was amply illustrated through the diary? After all, I am not the one that labels. Or must I now contribute anonymously to avoid the discriminatory treatment?
oldschooltwentysix Mar 14, 2012 01:14 PM
One more thing. Your first sentence really takes the cake. You were not the diarist and my now censored comment in no way at all simply started talking crap about what YOU may or may not think about this.
Are you REALLY of the view that YOU, as compared to issues presented, are so important to me? I suggest you look at what you wrote and how it sounds.
The irony that the diary created has played out to a tee.
If you had not made such a big deal about it, my comment would have come and passed. It is just my view, after all. But the fact that you censored what was a completely appropriate comment and opinion not only deprives others the chance to consider the opinion, but gives it a greater prominence because you seem to fear the message itself. And that says something important about tolerance and the respect for real discourse.
In an abusive act of censorship, these comments were scrubbed from the site, but before that happened, a note appeared that the last one above was removed by the moderator. In response, I wrote: 
oldschooltwentysix Mar 14, 2012 01:30 PM
It's too bad that I did not save the original comment. You leave the impression that it was improper and deserved to be censored, and tarnish me as a consequence. That is wrong, but no one will ever know. That is why you abuse your power. Yet you call this progressive? I will henceforth make copies of my comments.
The most surreal part is that you not only make it seem as if I wrote something directly to you, which is not at all the case, but that you make yourself so important. Honestly, I think you are the one with the obsession, so much so that you cannot tolerate disagreement from me, it seems, in any fashion, which says a lot about the values you instill at your site.
Carry on!!
Predictably, this was then scrubbed.

Interestingly, shortly after my remarks, I noticed the sourcing to Elder of Ziyon also vanished! It was replaced by one to the Electronic Intifada (probably obtained from The Elder). The title of the diary was also changed, from "Pal. Arab" to "Anti-Israel" activists, even though the letter was sent by, according the the new source, "Palestinian writers and activists," and described by The Elder as rabid Israel-haters whose "single-minded aim is to take away the Jewish right of self-determination."

I wonder if fizziks make these changes? Or is this just another example of a person who takes liberty to change the editorial content of a writer?

Yes, I suppose to some this is boring stuff. However, it shows that some who profess to stand for progressive values and open discussion will not hesitate to quash the slightest criticism. It serves as an example of the intolerance and abuse that can be found inside the "Progressive" world, especially from those that accuse the same negative conduct by others. It seems overly dogmatic and authoritarian to me, and I therefore felt it was worthwhile to show this episode in the light of day.

March 7, 2012

Jewish right to State of Israel NOT recognized under International Law

So says Boston University Law Professor Susan M. Akram at the One-State Conference held at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University last weekend.

There is no legal basis for a Jewish state, let alone the right of the Jewish nation to self-determination.

Take a listen:

Here are the words in black and white:
Israel’s claim of a state, on the basis of exclusive and discriminatory rights to Jews [sic], has never been juridically recognized. In other words, the concept of the Jewish people as a national entity with extraterritorial claims has never been recognized under international law. 
But Professor, Israel's claim of a state is not exclusionary or discriminatory, but the opposite.

Court recognition is not necessary under international law. Sovereignty is what matters, either a state’s assertion of its sovereignty within the territory it exclusively controls or when when it is recognized as such by other states in a legal sense. Israel meets both international tests, among other indications. It has been recognized by the vast majority of states, the UN, the International Court of Justice, and scores of other intergovernmental and international organizations. 

Recognition is not a matter for the court to determine anyway. It is not "justiciable," meaning capable of being decided by legal principles or by a court of justice.

As for the recognition under international law of the Jewish people "as a national entity with extraterritorial claims" the Professor could not be more wrong.

The Jewish people have legal rights going back to the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine of 1922. It took responsibility placing Palestine "under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish national home." It recognized "the historical connexion of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country."

Not to mention the findings of the Peel Commission of 1936 and UN Resolution 181 in 1947 that both recommended a Partition that would include a Jewish state. 

I suspect that Professor Akram would say that the 2004 advisory opinion of the ICJ in Wall Case was terrific. If so, even though I dispute its findings, I would suggest that it recognizes Israel is sovereign and that Jews have self-determination.

There are excellent resources that fully discredit Professor Akram. In 2011, several world-renowned experts joined to present an authoritative exposition of Israel’s Rights as a Nation-State in International Diplomacy, published jointly by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and the World Jewish Congress. It explains clearly why the Jewish people deserve a state of their own and refutes all the major claims against Israel’s rights.

One must therefore ask why Professor Akram would promote what is completely wrong and misleading?

Which gets to the Conference itself. Harvard really dropped the ball. I agree with Harvard Hillel president Sara Kantor that:
Harvard’s name has a certain power and it seemed to be presented as a Harvard one-state conference. It lends a certain legitimacy that this conference didn’t necessarily have.
This was not a "Harvard" conference at all, but one organized by anti-Israel students and supporters, created to:
Educate ourselves and others about the possible contours of a one-state solution and the challenges that stand in the way of its realization.
The Conference was sponsored by several student groups - namely, Justice for Palestine (HLS), the Palestine Caucus (HKS), the Arab Caucus (HKS), the Progressive Caucus (HKS), and the Association for Justice in the Middle East (GSAS).

Shmuel Rosner, senior political editor for The Jewish Journal said in the International Herald Tribune:
The event was less an academic forum than an activists’ party ... The program included just one speaker with first-hand familiarity with the peace negotiations.
The one speaker referred to was Diana Buttu, former legal advisor to the PLO and also an organizer of the event. Buttu is vehemently anti-Israel, and is not above giving false information in pursuit of the cause. (See video here and here).

As such, the reader may decide for him or her self about the Conference and Harvard's role. A CAMERA article offers more information about the main participants and responsibility of the university.

I would ask many of those who proudly call themselves Progressives AND Zionists, why is the Progressive Caucus part of this scene, so eager to hear and promote the likes of Ms. Buttu and other speakers at the Conference like Ilan Pappe and Stephen Walt, all avowed anti-Zionists? Where is the opposition to these people and what they stand for and are trying to do?

And to go further, is all this REALLY so small a part of the Democratic Party that all Democrats should see it as the work of a fringe? If so, how can one explain the Gaza 54, all Democrats, and the 91 Democrats that did not sign the Hoyer-Cantor letter

It is not as if the matter is pervasive, but is it prudent or wise to look away or treat as pariahs and deranged the people that identify what is actually taking place, such as what is shown above?