Thursday, October 31, 2013

Is there no refuge, even in our smallest rooms, from the EU's insufferable instinct to boss us about?

Where would we be without the European Union?
All right, it has its little drawbacks, such as destroying democracy in the continent of its birth by placing all the most important decisions in the hands of unelected, unsackable bureaucrats.
And, yes, I grant you that the empire-building ambitions of Brussels have caused enormous economic damage throughout the eurozone.
Indeed, the one-size-fits-all straitjacket of the single currency has forced youth unemployment in Italy up to a record 40.4 per cent, in Spain to 56.5 per cent and in Greece up to 57.3 per cent, crushing the hopes of a whole generation in three volatile countries where fascism thrived within living memory. Even once-wealthy France is staring into the economic abyss.
I’m prepared to concede that here at home, our membership of the EU may have brought with it a disadvantage or two.
For example, it has meant that we’re banned from restricting immigration from our partner nations to these crowded islands — which is part of the reason record numbers of our not-so-young (no names, no pack-drill) are forced to live with their parents for ever and a day.

Eroded

For another, it means we can’t conclude bilateral trade agreements with booming markets overseas, such as China, Brazil or even our own Commonwealth nations, where our historic links ought to give us a huge trading advantage.
Instead, we have to leave all the negotiating to the eurocrats — for whom Britain’s national interests are the last thing on their minds.
Sticklers may also argue that the human-rights culture tied up with our membership of the Brussels club has seriously eroded our ancient liberties — not to mention our national security — by banning the Government from showing any favouritism towards British citizens and preventing us from deporting foreign terrorists.
The nit-pickers may add that the EU’s ambition to harmonise the justice system throughout its empire further jeopardises our quaint attachment to such insular principles as the presumption of innocence, habeas corpus and trial by jury.
But who cares about democracy, prosperity, security or liberty? The truly wonderful news from Brussels this week is that the eurocrats, in their tireless quest to improve our lives, have made gigantic strides … towards standardising the quantity of water we’re permitted to use when we flush our lavatories.
So, yes, the EU enterprise may be going down the pan, taking with it the livelihoods of millions of its citizens. But what a comfort it is to know that it still has time and money enough to ensure that when it goes, it will be washed away by a standard, Brussels-approved, five-litre euroflush.
All right, it’s high time I dropped the leaden irony and confessed that the European Commission’s three-year study of the loo-flushing habits of its 500 million citizens has set me fizzing with anger against the EU and all things eurocratic.
Why is it so often the little things that enrage us — the strict rules on the classification of bananas of ‘abnormal curvature’, for example (not an urban myth; see directive EC 2257/94) — while we allow such matters as the crushing of democracy to pass with a weary shrug?
By EU standards, after all, the study of WC-cistern capacity cost practically nothing — a mere £76,000, if the commission’s accountants are to be believed (which, of course, they’re not; but we’ll let it pass).
I should also admit that, as I understand it, there are no immediate plans to outlaw cisterns that deliver more than the eurocrat-approved quantity of water — five litres for a full flush, three for a half-flush and one for a urinal.
Indeed, so far, the plan seems merely to lay down the rules under which cisterns will qualify for an EU ‘eco-label’, so as to guide lavatory-buyers, including businesses and local authorities, on the most environmentally friendly options. But you can bet your bottom euro, on past form, that the next step will be compulsion.

Infuriating

No, it’s not the expense that gets my goat. It’s the sheer, infuriating, what-the-hell-has-this-got-to-do-with-them factor.
Steam pours out of my ears at the very thought of the EC’s working party, snooping around with their clipboards, tut-tutting at the UK for permitting the sale of six-litre cisterns and using five per cent more of our domestic water supply for flushing than the European average.
Is there no refuge, not even in our smallest rooms, from the EU’s insufferable instinct to interfere and boss us about?
I’m old enough to remember how the European project was pitched to us before the 1975 referendum, when we are asked if we wanted to remain members of what was by then officially known as the European Economic Community, though we all still called it the Common Market.
There was much talk about bringing peace and brotherhood to our continent, after centuries of bloody strife. There were many fine speeches about the wonderful business opportunities, coupled with solemn assurances that we wouldn’t have to sacrifice a shred of our sovereignty.
But I can’t for the life of me remember Harold Wilson, Ted Heath, Jim Callaghan, Denis Healey or any of the other euro-enthusiasts telling us that one of the joys of membership would be a comprehensive audit of Europe’s lavatories or a move towards a bog-standard euroflush (forgive the irresistible schoolboy pun).
Why this mania for uniformity in everything? I’m not denying that in dryer parts of the EU — including England — it makes sense to guard against wasting water.
But other parts are literally awash with the stuff. Why should anyone in the Lake District, listening to the rain gushing into an overflowing reservoir, be expected to buy a smaller cistern, simply because the land may be parched in central Spain?

Petty

As it happens, it was a similarly petty matter that finally convinced me, after years of uncertainty, that we should pull out of the EU.
This was in 2006, when the Blair government rubber-stamped directive 2003/20/EC, which required that all car passengers up to the age of ten — and 11-year-olds less than 135 cm in height — would have to sit on booster seats.
It occurred to me that there had been no mention in any party’s manifesto of this footling, bossy-boots law, which would either criminalise or cause unnecessary expense to a great many grandparents, uncles and aunts who occasionally help out with the school run.
As I wrote at the time, it was a mere fleabite on the ankle of freedom. But for me it was one too many.
Since then, of course, the fleabites have come thick and fast, with this nonsense about the euroflush only the latest.
So I suppose it’s no wonder that the Tories are haemorrhaging support to Ukip — a trend confirmed by this week’s poll of members of the once true-blue Countryside Alliance, which showed the Conservatives’ rating down by an alarming 20 per cent.
Heaven knows, I understand their frustration with David Cameron. We’re all well aware, too, that the Prime Minister will use every trick in the book to try to convince us that we should stay in the EU.
In this, he can count on strong support from the eurocrats, who will pretend his doomed attempts to repatriate powers from Brussels have been a triumphant success.
But no matter how much he wriggles, he surely cannot escape from his solemn promise to offer us an in/out referendum on Europe in 2017, if he is returned to power next time.
Which leaves us with the agonising irony that a vote for Ukip in the coming General Election will be the surest way to deny the country its say.
For that reason, and that almost alone, I will be holding my nose and voting Tory again.
The EU, with its over-regulated statist culture, is going down the pan. But I don’t see why we should go with it.

dailymail

Belgian Minister of Culture defends antisemitism on Facebook page

A Belgian professor wrote an opinion piece on the website of RTBF, Radio Télévision Belge Francophone, saying that Israel is a racist state. (He based this mostly from reading Ha'aretz.)

RTBF has a Facebook page as well, and this article was linked there as well.

Some of the comments, predictably, are insanely antisemitic.

You know, having killed Christ is not enough for them...the Jews in France are also racist! :)

Every Jew is racist to another human because for Jews they are like dogs ... they can kill a non-Jew and will not be condemned ...

Goldstein refused to do anything to save the life of a Gentile - this was not a personal quirk, but simply an command of the Talmud on which it is based.
These comments remain up on the page after moderation.

The Philosemitism blog reports that the person in charge of the page, Ms. Françoise De Their, answered that "Comments are moderated as soon as possible by the editorial departments concerned, in accordance with professional, legal and ethical requirements."

The French Community of Brussels Minister of Culture and Media, Fadila Laanan, responded that "I was assured that the comments are still on RTBF page of this social network are within the limits of the debate and are acceptable."

Incidentally, Laanan's parents were born in Morocco.
elderofziyon

CAMERA: Methodist Church of Britain Survey ‘Presumes Israel’s Guilt’

JNS.org - The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) is urging its members to contact the Methodist Church of Britain to persuade them not to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.
The media watchdog’s campaign comes in response to a recent survey posted online by the Methodist Church of Britain. The 14-question survey asks respondents a series of questions on their view of the BDS movement and whether or not the Methodist Church should be involved.
CAMERA Christian Media Analyst Dexter Van Zile believes the survey is biased against Israel and designed to produce a pro-BDS outcome.
“There is no acknowledgment that maybe the Palestinians have done anything wrong. Israel or Israeli is mentioned at least 10 times in the list of questions. It’s a kangaroo court that presumes Israel’s guilt,” Van Zile told JNS.org.
The Methodist Church of Britain has a history of involvement in the BDS movement. In 2010, it approved a boycott resolution targeting products produced by Israeli companies in the West Bank. But the church received significant pushback over the resolution, including a lawsuit by one of its preachers, David Hallam, who claimed the resolution was “discriminatory” and a “misuse of church funds,” The Telegraph reported.
As a result, the church said it is seeking to open a debate over its position on the BDS movement. According to the church’s website, the survey is a result of motion passed during the July 2013 Methodist Conference that “requests the production of a briefing on the arguments for and against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.”
CAMERA’s Van Zile told JNS.org that the Methodist Church of Britain “has been targeting Israel with a lot of criticism while remaining relatively silent about the misdeeds of its adversaries.”
algemeiner

Kristallnacht 75th Anniversary: Berlin Shops to be 'Shattered'

Storefronts in the German capital will next month once again be marred by the jagged pattern of broken glass to mark the 75th anniversary of the Kristallnacht pogrom.

Adhesive film will be used to cover shop windows to create the illusion of large holes and hairline fractures to commemorate the violence unleashed during the infamous event.

Around 100 Berlin businesses are expected to put the large stickers in their windows to commemorate the attacks which took place on November 9 and 10, 1938, and "take a stand against intolerance, racism and anti-Semitism," according to the organizers.

The pogrom, also known as 'The Night of Broken Glass', saw Nazi thugs plunder Jewish businesses throughout Germany, torch some 300 synagogues and round up about 30,000 Jewish men for deportation to concentration camps.

Some 90 Jews were killed in the orgy of violence.

Berlin had a "particular significance" in the pogroms, write historians Christoph Kreutzmueller and Bjoern Weigel in a new publication to accompany the remembrance event.

Violence in the capital city was fuelled by Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's propaganda minister and the local Nazi party leader.

"There was so much to destroy, so the violence in Berlin was particularly long-lasting," write Kreutzmueller and Weigel in "Kristallnacht? Bilder der Novemberpogrome 1938 in Berlin" ("Kristallnacht? Pictures of the November Pogroms in 1938 in Berlin").

The store window stickers will be concentrated in areas in downtown Berlin targeted by the Nazi looters, including a major shopping street that was a center of the arts and theater during the Weimar Republic.

A major luxury department store, KaDeWe, will participate, organisers said.

The installation is part of a year-long series of events in Berlin recognizing the 80th anniversary of the Nazi party's accession to power and the 75th anniversary of the November pogroms.
israelnationalnews

Eurozone unemployment at record high and Greece downgraded out of the developed world… but America says it is Germany’s fault

The number of unemployed in the 17-nation eurozone reached a record high in September as the bloc's nascent recovery failed to generate jobs, official data revealed today. The news came as S&P Dow Jones Indices said that Greece no longer classifies as a developed market and the US accused Germany of hampering economic stability in Europe and hurting the global economy. The ranks of the jobless swelled by 60,000 to a record 19.45 million, according to Eurostat, the European Union's statistics agency. Though the unemployment rate remained steady at 12.2 percent, the previous month was revised up from 12 percent. A sharp and unexpected drop in inflation also cast doubts over the recovery of the eurozone, which just emerged from recession, and put pressure on the European Central Bank to act. The euro dropped from above $1.3700 to about $1.3640 in midday trading. The ECB has already cut its key interest rate to a record low to spur lending. But banks, companies and households are still too afraid to lend or borrow money. The ECB may be pushed into action eventually if the inflation rate keeps dropping. Eurostat said the annual inflation rate fell to 0.7 percent in October from 1.1 percent a month earlier, marking its lowest level in about four years. The ECB is tasked with keeping inflation close to, but below 2 percent. 'Latest developments reinforce our view that the ECB will end up cutting interest rates from 0.5 percent to 0.25 percent sooner or later,' said IHS Global Insight's analyst Howard Archer, adding the ECB might take such action as early as in December. While other analysts think a rate decrease is unlikely in coming months - not least because of resistance from powerful ECB players such as Germany's central bank - the ECB still has other means at its disposal. It can, among other things, provide more cheap loans to banks to improve their finances and encourage them to lend. It already issued such loans three times, helping stabilize the financial system, and ECB President Mario Draghi hinted several times in recent months that the central bank might consider issuing another round. A particularly gloomy stat was youth unemployment - it rose to 24.1 percent from 24 percent in August. It was lowest in Germany and Austria, with 7.7 percent and 8.7 percent, and highest in Europe's southern economies, which have been hit hard by the debt crisis and government austerity measures. They were around 57 percent in Greece and 56 percent in Spain. The overall unemployment rate showed similar disparities. Germany and Austria had low rates of 5 percent.
By contrast, joblessness was 26.6 percent in Spain. In Greece, where the latest figures available were for July - it stood at 27.6 percent. The unemployment rate for the wider 28-nation European Union remained unchanged in September at 11 percent.
S&P Dow Jones Indices, said that Greece no longer classifies as a developed market, reported Greek Reporter.The general consensus among participants is that emerging market status is a more appropriate classification due to the reasons including failing a minimum credit ratings criteria, and dramatic and consistent reduction in market size over the past few years.
Meanwhile Angela Merkel's conservatives today rejected U.S. criticism of Germany's dependence on exports but her likely future coalition partner agreed Europe's bulwark economy must do more to spur domestic demand.
The United States has long called for countries like China and Germany with trade surpluses to do more to spur imports but the Obama administration's reprimand in a semi-annual report to Congress on Wednesday stood out for its stark language. Both Merkel's conservatives and the centre-left Social Democrats, who are in talks to form a coalition government after a September election, retorted that Germany would continue to strive to be competitive globally. 'We have always been a strong export country and we are proud of that,' said Ilse Aigner, the conservatives' lead negotiator in coalition talks for economic issues. The U.S. criticism comes at a tricky juncture in relations between Washington and Berlin. German envoys met the White House national security adviser in Washington on Wednesday after reports the United States monitored Merkel's cellphone. Germany argues that it has more than halved its trade surplus within the euro zone as a share of GDP since 2007. Trade is expected to subtract rather than contribute to economic growth this year, with imports outpacing exports, while domestic demand, albeit still weak, will drive growth.
dailymail

The Impossible People: Lynne Hybels

Lynne Hybels should not be criticized for seeing her activism on behalf of the Palestinian Christians as a “calling from God” for after all, Palestinians deserve to be treated as human beings. And she shouldn’t be condemned for her belief that modern Israel is not a fulfillment of biblical prophecy. Many Jews don’t believe it either, so why should she be singled out? While she claims to be unbiased, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein wrote: “Lynne Hybels…enthusiastically embraces the Palestinian ‘Christ at theCheckpoint’ movement, which reduces Zionism to ‘a modern political movement’ that ‘has become ethnocentric, privileging one people at the expense of others.’” The rabbi, who has close ties to Christian Zionists, states that Hybels supports “Christian Palestinianism…a movement that…traffics in anti-Israel propaganda and historical misinformation.” In other words, Hybels’ visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial didn’t convince him that she has a genuine concern for Israel. Lynne, the wife of Pastor Bill Hybels of Willow Creek mega-church in Illinois, serves on President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. This church has stepped into the Middle East arena in an attempt to bring “reconciliation and peace,” yet such an ambitious undertaking requires some kind of empathy toward Israel. Hybels tries to show even-handedness, but her affiliation with extreme anti-Zionist Christian groups and her friendship with Israelis on the far, pro-Palestinian left shows where her heart is. One such Israeli friend is Roni Keidar, an activist in Kol Acher (Other Voice), which propagates lies such as Israel targeting “primarily innocent [Palestinian] civilians.” Another is Hagit Ophran of Peace Now, an NGO that informs the US and European Union about Israeli settlement construction. On the Palestinian side, Hybels is close friends with Nora Carmi of Sabeel, an organization that pushes vitriolic anti-Israeli propaganda in the name of “peace and justice.” All of this eclipses Hybels’ attempts to become a neutral peacemaker. While certainly not an anti-Semite, she is guilty by close association with those who accuse Israel of everything from genocide to deicide. Perhaps unwittingly, she is carrying on Christianity’s awful anti-Semitic legacy.
israeltoday

Austrian Jews laud museum boss who quit over restitution issues

Austrian Jews praised the director of a Vienna museum who resigned because of board members’ ties to an art collection that belonged to a pro-Nazi film director. “The resignation of the director of the Leopold Museum, Tobi G. Natter, is a bold step,” the Jewish Community of Vienna, or IKG, wrote in a statement Tuesday. Natter resigned that day to protest ties between board members from his museum — the home to one of the largest collections of modern Austrian art — and a new foundation set up to manage a Nazi film director’s collection of Gustav Klimt paintings. The collection managed by The Gustav Klimt Wien 1900 Foundation, which was established in September, used to belong to Gustav Ucicky, Klimt’s son, who produced pro-Nazi propaganda during World War II. Board members include Peter Weinhaeupl, the business director of the Leopold Museum; his partner, Sandra Tretter; his brother; and the lawyer Andreas Noedl, also on the board of the Leopold Museum, according to the Bloomberg news agency. The Klimt Foundation said its collection was the subject of a single unresolved restitution claim: “Portrait of Gertrud Loew,” which is undergoing provenance research in agreement with the heirs of the Felsovany family, a Jewish family of Hungarian origins. Other works lost by Jewish collectors due to Nazi persecution and purchased by Ucicky have been restored to the original owners, the foundation told Bloomberg.
jta

Saudi Arabia: Shocking Video Highlights Abuse of Migrant Workers

A video apparently showing the brutal beating of a migrant worker in Saudi Arabia has gone viral, and once again shone a spotlight on the issue of human rights violations in the gulf kingdom.
The victim - who the publisher of the video claims is an Indian national - can be seen pleading for his life as his Arab employer accuses him of looking at his wife. Despite his repeated denials, the victim is then subjected to a horrific and sustained beating. His employer then chillingly asks him "do you want to die?" immediately before the camera stops recording.
It is a disturbing illustration of a phenomenon that rights groups say is all too common in Saudi Arabia and other Arab states in the Middle East. Migrant workers have few, if any rights and no means of representation, leaving them entirely at the mercy of their employers. They are even required to surrender their passports upon arrival, leaving them trapped and helpless, often under conditions akin to slavery.
According to a CNN report, the Saudi government-sponsored "Human Rights Commission" has said it has launched an official investigation into the incident, and that it is attempting to locate the victim to offer help. The group has also called on his attacker to be arrested and tried.
But even if justice is served in this case, there will be plenty of skepticism over the Saudi government's commitment to human rights - and particularly minority rights - in general.
A recent report by Amnesty International slammed the worsening state of human rights abuses in the country. Among the myriad criticisms levelled in the report, it was noted that migrant workers and other minorities regularly suffer abuse and "excessive use of force" at the hands of authorities.
The video includes violent scenes. Viewer discretion is advised.

israelnationalnews

Gestapo’s Muller buried in Jewish mass grave, research confirms

Gestapo chief Heinrich Muller was buried in a Jewish mass grave following World War II, a Berlin political scientist confirmed.
Muller, who as head of Nazi Germany’s secret police helped organize the mass murder of Jews during the Holocaust, was buried with about 2,400 others, many unidentified, in the Jewish cemetery on Grosse Hamburgerstrasse in Berlin’s Mitte section, the German newspaper BILD reported.
Research by Johannes Tuchel, head of the Berlin-based Memorial for German Resistance, brings closure to the question of what happened to Muller, said Andreas Nachama, head of the Topography of Terror archive and memorial located at the site of the former Gestapo headquarters in Berlin.
Nachama told JTA that evidence of Muller’s having been buried at the Jewish cemetery was uncovered in the late 1990s but not confirmed. The name appeared on a list in the Jewish community archive of bodies and body parts buried in an anti-tank trench dug in the cemetery. Still, rumors that Muller had actually fled to the north persisted.
Now that Tuchel has found written evidence — the report from a burial commando about the discovery and identification of Muller’s body in a provisional grave in August 1945 — such rumors can be laid to rest, Nachama said. Muller’s military photo ID was still in his uniform pocket.
“It is grotesque that he is buried there, but it was not an anti-Jewish measure,” said Nachama, noting that any human remains found in the area were buried together.
Nachama, who is a practicing rabbi and former head of the Berlin Jewish community, in the late 1990s had suggested moving the contents of the mass grave out of the Jewish cemetery, but the idea was rejected on halachic, or Jewish legal, grounds due to the likelihood that historic Jewish graves might be disturbed.
jta

Watch on the Rhine

By Andrew Stuttaford

Writing in the World Politics Review, Richard Gowan  lists “three good reasons” why the U.S. should be spying on  Germany (although he’s a touch squeamish about Chancellor Merkel’s mobile phone), specifically that country’s relationships with Russia and China, and above all, “Berlin’s central role in shaping European fiscal and trade policies.” All fair enough, and there are many other reasons besides.
That said, it’s worth returning to the question of Germany’s role in Europe. There’s been a lot of commentary, based neither on history nor commonsense, to the effect that allies do not spy on each other and, therefore, that the U.S. should not be snooping around the Bundesrepublik.
This, of course, assumes that Germany is an ally. In one (not in any way to be downplayed) sense, of course, it indisputably is. It’s a longstanding member of NATO and it has often proved itself a very good friend to America. Germany is, however, also a critically important participant in the effort to create a more federal EU, a proto-federation designed (implicitly and sometimes explicitly) to act as a counterweight  and, on occasion, something as a challenge to the U.S.
Here’s a selection of quotes drawn from an article by Charles Kupchan that appeared in The Atlantic in late 2002:
The French used to be alone in looking to the EU as a counterpoise to America, but the other members have now joined in. Tony Blair has asserted, “Whatever its origin, Europe today is no longer just about peace. It is about projecting collective power.” Germany’s Chancellor Gerhard Schröder called for a “more integrated and enlarged Europe” to offset U.S. hegemony. According to Romano Prodi, the President of the European Commission, the EU’s executive body, one of the chief goals of the union is to create “a superpower on the European continent that stands equal to the United States.” Göran Persson, the Prime Minister of Sweden, a country that long ago renounced power politics, recently remarked that the EU is “one of the few institutions we can develop as a balance to U.S. world domination.”
And there have been plenty more comments like that in the decade that has followed.

So yes, Germany is an ally, but Germany-in-Europe, not quite so much.
nationalreview

British Progressives Join the Sunni-Shia War in Syria

By Paul Austin Murphy

The UK's Leftist-Islamist coalition (or alliance) has, at least in part, fallen apart recently.
The well-known and notorious George Galloway is facing some stick from Sunni Muslims in the Bradford branch of the UK's Respect party. (Bradford is a city in the north of England with a very large Sunni-Muslim population of a Pakistani and Bangladeshi heritage.)
Galloway is getting it in the teeth primarily for his support of the Alawite (Shia) leader Bashar Assad during the on-running Sunni-Shia civil war in Syria (as well as for his parallel support for Shia Iran).
Five Sunni councilors left Galloway's Bradford Respect party last week. However, the remaining members of Respect, including Galloway, claimed they were effectively sacked. Nonetheless, the sacking email is reported to have been sent after the Sunni Muslims had already resigned.
(These internal disputes within Respect began the moment the party was formed by various renegades of the Trotskyist/'progressive' Socialist Workers Party. That's what ideological purity, mixed with cynicism and opportunism, will necessarily lead to.)
The official reason for the Bradford Respect rupture -- although this reason will at least be a part of the story -- is that certain 'unnamed figures' (i.e., George Galloway), have, in the words of Bradford's Islamist councilors, 'no interest in transparency, accountability and equity'.
George Galloway is also an important leader of the UK's Stop the War Coalition (StWC). One other leader -- and a founder -- of the StWC, its 'national officer', is John Rees; who's also of Counterfire and the very recent Trotskyist front group, the People's Assembly. Rees also effectively works for the Iranian state and does its propaganda business via Press TV and the Islam Channel. (Here's a CST link on John Rees's work for the Islam Channel and here he is on Press TV.)
Let that sink in for a moment. John Rees will be receiving a substantial paycheck each month from the Iranian state. Rees, as a leader of the People's Assembly, also once said that he'd support Iran in a war with Britain.
Now I wonder what John Rees thinks of the hanging of sixteen revolutionary Sunni fighters by the Iranian state last week. That had nothing -- directly -- to do with the Syrian conflict. It's all do to with Iran's other borders with Pakistan and Afghanistan. (There is no Iranian border with Syria.) Come to think of it, what does John Rees think of the Iranian state killing gays, persecuting Christian and Sunni minorities, and oppressing women? Actually, he doesn't think that any of this is wrong. Why? Because Iranians have brown skin and they're also -- or the state is -- anti-West and officially anti-capitalist. That's all it takes for Trotskyist progressives like John Rees to reverse their previous deeply-held political standards. Change the oppressor's skin color from white to brown (or to black) and the oppressor simply ceases to be an oppressor. That's how simply Trotskyist, or John Rees's, logic is.
Now set John Rees views on Iran within the context of the Trotskyists -- now called 'progressives' -- in Britain who believe that black and brown people can simply never be racist; or even be held responsible for criminal activity or political violence. This, apparently, is true by (Marxist) definition. Why? Because brown and black never have 'political power'. This means that they are always 'oppressed' and always victims. Thus, like a mathematical equation, they simply cannot do either political or criminal wrong -- just like children really. This is the stipulation/diktat behind the hypocrisy and (positive) racism of the Left. It is a thoroughly normative pronouncement, or even a moral law, on racism which comes after some pretty mindless theoretical (Marxist) mumbo-jumbo.
Similarly with Iran -- it too can never do wrong. It can do no wrong because it is a state of mainly brown people. That is, it's not white, not Western and not capitalist. (However, it is, at least in part, capitalist; but brown capitalism is better than white or Israeli capitalism.)
The Trotskyists -- such as the ex-SWP Lindsey German -- who set up and run (not every supporter/member is a Trotskyist) the Stop the War Coalition weren't against military intervention in Syria because they are against war. They are certainly not pacifists. (They strongly believe in 'revolutionary violence'.) They were against military intervention for two main reasons:
1) British Trotskyists are strong supporters of Iran. Iran is a strong supporter of Assad's regime in Syria. (Here's John Rees saying 'Don't Attack Iran'.)
2) 'Western capitalist states' would have carried out the military intervention in Syria. Therefore it would automatically have been wrong because, by Marxist logic, it would have been exclusively driven by the 'inevitable laws of capitalist accumulation and imperialism'
In other words, the Stop the War Coalition isn't against war at all. It's only against 'Western' or 'capitalist' wars. Mass murder and oppression carried out by brown or black people, or when carried out by Leftist regimes, does not even register in the Trotskyist or Progressive mind.
More examples of John Rees's work for Iran's Press TV:
John Rees with Tariq Ramadan.
John Rees talking about Syria.
Rees talking about 'drone attacks'.
americanthinker

Terrorists Can Win

There is something horrible that we don't understand about Islamic terrorism.

By Giulio Meotti

While terrorists were executing innocent people inside the Westgate Mall of Nairobi, from the outside, Samantha Lewthwaite gave orders and inspired the carnage. This British woman, who converted to Islam after marrying one of the London suicide bombers, Germaine Lindsay, is also known as the “white widow”.
She left a poem of love for the founder of al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden. The text of Samantha Lewthwait's poem was found by British police after an examination of her computer found in a house of Mombasa, Kenya. “Sheikh Osama, my love for you is unmatched...”.
But the police found something even more precious: the diary of the white terrorist. Handwritten in A4 pages, in this testament Samantha Lewthwait called Muslims to a life of “loyalty, duty, respect, self-sacrifice, honor, integrity and courage”. The woman also says that the 9/11 was a great success because “after that many embraced jihad”.
The diary reveals an obsession for killing Westerners. Having proclaimed that “a death with honor is better than a degraded life” and that she left “the comfortable lifestyle of the West”, Lewthwait explains that Muslims will get the “glory” by killing non-Muslims, “including women and children”.
In Aylesbury, in the heart of England, people are still wondering how it is possible that a girl so “polite and courteous”  became such a terrorist. The diary was found together with photos of Samantha with her two sons, Abdur -Rahman and Abdullah, whom she is raising to become “holy warriors”.
Lewthwait then speaks of the marriage with the July 7 suicide bomber: “Allah has blessed me with the best husband”. In many passages of the diary, Samantha justifies the mass murder of civilians.
This is the second document written by the woman. In 2010, the British intelligence bursted into another apartment of Mombasa where a terrorist cell led by Jermaine Grant, another jihadist with a British passport, was manufacturing attacks with acetone and hydrogen peroxide, the agents used to make the bombs in London’s underground.
The agents found a diary which looked like a school notebook, in which Samantha Lewathwait gave “advice to the wives of suicide bombers”: be “discreet and obedient”, understand that the “call” to your husband is blessed by Allah, “be happy” because thanks to his sacrifice “your life in the hereafter will be much more sweet”.
Among the civilians killed by Samantha Lewthwait’s gunmen in Nairobi was Kofi Awoonor, a great poet who in 1975 was thrown in jail on charges of complicity in a coup against the military junta in his country, Uganda. Bernard Malamud, Jerzy Kosinski, Allen Ginsberg and Alfred Kazin rallied for his release.
Awoonor, at the United Nations, directed the Committee against Apartheid. For the terrorists, Awoonor was the perfect target: humanist, dissident, literary. Like the Algerian intellectuals killed by Islamists in the summer of 1993, such as the writer and poet Tajar Djaout Youcef Sebti, slain in his house under a reproduction of the executions of the 3rd of May by Goya.
I downloaded from the Daily Mirror the diary of Samantha Lewthwait. You see her calligraphy, words such as “death” and “non believers” catch your attentinon like magnets. Then I watched some videos from the Westgate terror attack, masterminded by this mysterious and lethal woman who converted to Islam.
The footage show mothers and children running for their lives, older men killed indiscriminately. Then occasionally, the terrorists stopped the slaughter to remove their shoes and turn to pray.
You understand at that point not only that this war will go on forever. But that people who have the power to shoot children and then stop to pray, who feel that these two acts are one and the same, can ultimately win over us.
israelnationalnews

Who’s the Real Iron Lady of Norway?

By Bruce Bawer

As Norway’s non-socialist coalition government has been settling in, I’ve been poking around in New Wind over Norway, an assemblage of sixteen essays “about freedom and responsibility” edited by Hanne Nabintu Herland, a historian of religion, and written by some of the country’s more prominent non-socialist voices, including the heads of the two governing parties, Erna Solberg (Conservative) and Siv Jensen (Progress Party). Writing in Aftenposten, Knut Olav Åmås – who after the installation of the  new government on October 16 left his job as that newspaper’s opinion editor to accept an appointment in the Ministry of Culture – described the book as “an expression of the ideological mobilization that has taken place on the right in recent years, especially around the think tank Civita and the journal Minerva, but also in Christian conservative circles.”
Ideological mobilization or not, it’s not every day one reads a Norwegian book in which (among much else) leftist groupthink is condemned, the EU is called “morally confused,” America’s “pluralistic melting pot” and “American values” are celebrated, and writers like Tocqueville, Hayek, John Stuart Mill – and even Ann Coulter and Mark Levin (!) – are quoted respectfully. How cheering to read a Norwegian author (Herland, in this case) who actually recognizes how absurd it is that many Norwegian cabinet ministers “have never had an ordinary job but nonethless direct policy in sectors they have little or no education in or practical knowledge of.” What a pleasure to see a professor from the University of Oslo casting a critical eye on the Norwegian political class’s obsession with minimizing economic differences – and, by extension, with encouraging sameness and uniformity across the board. How remarkable to find a Norwegian writer who dares to suggest that socialists view freedom as “the right to take part in the development of socialist society” and that they regard their ideological opponents as “obstacles on the road to utopia.”
The book is quite a smorgasbord. Position papers by the two party leaders – about which more presently – are followed by a series of “ideological reflections” in which Minerva editor Nils August Andresen wonders what Edmund Burke would make of today’s Europe, veteran Conservative politician Lars Roar Langslet calls for efforts to improve students’ Norwegian language skills and preserve Norway’s artistic heritage, Asle Toje of the Nobel Institute sums up the post-Soviet history of European socialism, and Torbjørn Røe Isaksen, the new head of the Ministry of Education, contrast socialist utopianism with the need for pragmatism. “Politics,” he writes, “is where the world of ideas meets reality….One ignores reality at one’s own risk.” (Such a proposition may seem self-evident, but not necessarily in the world of Scandinavian politics.) There’s a section on religion, consisting of a long, sweeping overview of Western Christianity by Herland and several shorter essays – it wouldn’t be too far off to call them sermons – in which theologians and pastors hail the enduring significance of Norway’s religious heritage.
Although there’s quite a degree of ideological variety here, there’s also plenty of overlap. In the political pieces, we’re told more than once about our debts to John Locke and Edmund Burke; in the sermons, we hear repeatedly about laïcité and about rendering under Caesar, etc. While there’s a good deal here that’s of genuine value, moreover, there’s more than a bit too much abstraction and generalization. And there’s a pronounced lack of bite, with some of the writers apparently reluctant to take on anybody by name. We’re reminded frequently that several of Herland’s contributors are politicians: Isakson, for example, in classic Conservative Party style, seems to try to have it both ways on immigration, reciting the tired mantra that Norway has been culturally enriched by its newcomers but adding that he wants tighter rules, and saying that integration “doesn’t work well enough, but much of it works well.” (Which, of course, can mean anything you want it to.) It’s the last part of the book – about the challenges posed by the influx of non-Westerners into Europe – that has some real edge. In a stirring philippic, Hege Storhaug deplores the death threats against Islam’s critics in Europe and the vituperation directed against them by politicians and the media. Hallgrim Berg denounces the lingering, toxic impact of Sixties radicalism on European democracy. And Iranian-Norwegian author Walid al-Kubaisi, in the book’s most personal (and only emotionally moving) essay, mounts a strong argument that Norwegian nationalism is not necessarily a bad thing.
Perhaps the most striking thing about Herland’s collection, however, is the contrast between the two opening essays by Solberg and Jensen, which reflect – and provide a vivid capsule lesson in – the contrast between the two parties that make up Norway’s governing coalition. Solberg, the Conservative leader, has barely finished clearing her throat before she’s telling us about her recent visit to a Ahmadiyya mosque, whose members, she writes, “experience peace because they’re Muslims, but…also find that it’s difficult to be accepted in society because they make some choices based on their faith, just by following the commandments they believe in.” Balderdash. In fact, Norway is a refuge for Ahmadiyya Muslims, who are oppressed, persecuted, beaten, and even executed throughout much of the Islamic world, where they’re considered infidels. But that reality doesn’t fit into the phony picture Solberg wants to paint of innocent Muslims being denied social acceptance by bigoted Norwegians.
That aside, exactly which Islamic “choices” and “commandments”  is Solberg standing up for here? Female subordination? Forced marriage? Female genital mutilation? The stoning to death of adulterers, apostates, gays? Solberg insists that Norwegians must “respect” Islamic belief – if they don’t, she maintains, Norway will fail in its “family policies” and in its integration efforts. What, exactly, is she trying to say here? What’s her logic? What is she calling for? She doesn’t explain anything. And she can’t, because it’s all just empty, feel-good, head-in-the-sand rhetoric – in other words, vintage Solberg. She’s always dealt with the challenge of Islam by turning the truth on its head – by turning inside-out the fact that Islamic family values are utterly incompatible with real integration and that if one seriously wishes to integrate Muslims into a free society, the first step is to dismiss entirely the idea of “respecting” the tenets of their faith. This is, one is reminded, the woman who, in 2004, as Minister of Integration, welcomed a Pakistani Muslim leader to Norway by bowing to him with one hand on her chest – a gesture which, as she plainly knew, betokened female submission.
While Solberg’s essay is painfully toothless, Jensen’s is a call to arms. In her second sentence, in italics, she declares that her party is engaged in a struggle for values. “People who flee the Islamist regime in Iran,” she pronounces, “do not flee to Norway to encounter that negative culture here, too. It’s that negative culture that they’re fleeing from!” Also: “People who come here and want religious freedom…must also tolerate the fact that along with their right to practice their religion comes the right to criticize religion. People with Christian beliefs have had to accept this, and people of other faiths must do so as well. That’s how it is here in this country, and that’s how it will stay.” Unlike Solberg, Jensen tackles head-on the Muslim leaders in Norway who spread conspiracies about Jews and who refuse to reject the death penalty for gays. Perusing her essay, you’d scarcely know she was talking about the same country as the bland, sanguine Solberg, for whom the only Islam-related problem in Norway, one would assume from her essay, is anti-Muslim prejudice. Jensen is, moreover, terrific on Israel, individualism, and the free market; she approvingly quotes Ronald Reagan’s observation, in his farewell speech, that “’We the People’ are the driver; the government is the car.”
I happened to read this book at a time when I’ve also been making my way through the one-volume edition of Margaret Thatcher’s memoirs. It’s impossible not to notice that the contrast between Jensen and Solberg bears more than a passing resemblance to that between Thatcher and the timid Tory establishment in the period before she came to power. On one issue after another, Thatcher’s party colleagues were reluctant to assert first principles, loath to articulate a vision, content for their party to be a somewhat milder version of Labour – just as Norway’s Conservatives today basically stand, more or less, for socialism lite. While her fellow Tories supported détente, Thatcher, whose “gut instinct was that this was one of those soothing foreign terms which conceal an ugly reality that plain English would expose” (isn’t that a wonderful line?), felt that “too many people in the West had been lulled into believing that their way of life was secure, when it was in fact under mortal threat”; while in the wake of Enoch Powell’s sensational 1968 “Rivers of Blood” speech about the perils of immigration “it had been the mark of civilized high-mindedness among right-of-centre politicians to avoid speaking about immigration and race at all, and if that did not prove possible, then to do so in terms borrowed from the left of the political spectrum, relishing the ‘multi-cultural,’ ‘multi-racial’ nature of British society,” Thatcher refused to snobbishly dismiss the concerns of hard-working citizens whose lives were being transformed by radical sociocultural changes that didn’t affect upper-crust Tory suburbanites at all.
Most politicians in the Norwegian parties (other than the Progress Party) that are generally deemed non-socialists exhibit this same deplorable tendency to echo leftist and multicultural formulas – it’s this go-along, get-along attitude that has made them acceptable to the left. What has set the Progress Party apart from the beginning – and exposed it to the very same kind of patronizing criticism and ridicule, from both left and right, to which Thatcher was subjected throughout her career – is its stubborn, uncompromising belief in the same things Thatcher believed in: namely, individual freedom and the free market. Solberg and Jensen are both formidable women, and over the years both of them have been likened, sometimes by admirers and sometimes by detractors, to Lady Thatcher; but there’s no doubt in my mind which of these two leaders is Norway’s real Iron Lady.
frontpagemag

Britain: "A World Capital for Islamic Finance"

 By Soeren Kern
"I want London to stand alongside Dubai and Kuala Lumpur as one of the great capitals of Islamic finance anywhere in the world." — David Cameron, Prime Minister, Great Britain.
But critics say that British ambitions to attract investments from Muslim countries, companies and individuals are spurring the gradual establishment of a parallel financial system based on Islamic Sharia law. The Treasury also said some sukuk Islamic bond issues may require the government to restrict its dealings with Israeli-owned companies in order to attract Muslim money.
The London Stock Exchange will be launching a new Islamic bond index in an effort to establish the City of London as one of the world's leading centers of Islamic finance.
Britain also plans to become the first non-Muslim country to issue sovereign Islamic bonds, known as sukuk, beginning as early as 2014.
The plans are all part of the British government's strategy to acquire as big a slice as possible of the fast-growing global market of Islamic finance, which operates according to Islamic Sharia law and is growing 50% faster than the conventional banking sector.
Although it is still a fraction of the global investment market -- Sharia-compliant assets are estimated to make up only around 1% of the world's financial assets -- Islamic finance is expected to be worth £1.3 trillion (€1.5 trillion; $2 trillion) by 2014, a 150% increase from its value in 2006, according to the World Islamic Banking Competitiveness Report 2012-2013, published in May 2013 by the consultancy Ernst & Young.
But critics say that Britain's ambitions to attract investments from Muslim countries, companies and individuals are spurring the gradual establishment of a parallel global financial system based on Islamic Sharia law.
British Prime Minister David Cameron announced the plans during a keynote speech at the ninth World Islamic Economic Forum, which was held in London from October 29-31, the first time the event has ever been held outside the Muslim world.
"Already London is the biggest center for Islamic finance outside the Islamic world," Cameron told the audience of more than 1,800 international political and business leaders from over 115 countries.
"And today our ambition is to go further still. Because I don't just want London to be a great capital of Islamic finance in the Western world, I want London to stand alongside Dubai and Kuala Lumpur as one of the great capitals of Islamic finance anywhere in the world."
Cameron said the new Islamic bond index on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) would help stimulate fixed-income investments from Muslim investors -- especially investors from oil-rich Persian Gulf countries -- by helping them identify which listed companies adhere to Islamic principles.
Investors who practice Islamic finance -- which is said to be structured to conform to a strict code of ethics based on the Koran and Sharia law -- refuse to invest in companies that are linked to alcohol, gambling, pornography, tobacco, weapons or pork. Islamic finance also forbids collecting or paying interest and requires that deals be based on tangible assets.
Unlike conventional bonds, sukuk are described as investments rather than loans, with the initial payment made from an Islamic investor in the form of a tangible asset such as land. The lender of a sukuk earns money as profit from rent, as in real estate, rather than traditional interest.
Cameron says the British Treasury will issue £200 million (€235 million; $320 million) worth of sukuk as early as 2014. The objective is to enable the government to borrow from Muslim investors. The Treasury plans to issue fixed returns based on the profit made by a given asset, thereby allowing Muslims to invest without breaking Islamic laws forbidding interest-bearing bonds.
The Treasury also said some sukuk bond issues may require the British government to restrict its dealings with Israeli-owned companies in order to attract Muslim money.
Although Britain has already established itself as the leading secondary market for sukuk -- the LSE has listed 49 sukuk bonds worth $34 billion during the past five years -- such bonds have rarely been issued from local firms and never from the government.
"For years people have been talking about creating an Islamic bond, or sukuk, outside the Islamic world. But it's never quite happened," Cameron said. "Changing that is a question of pragmatism and political will. And here in Britain we've got both."
According to Cameron, this "pragmatism and political will" is being influenced by the fact that Islamic finance is "already fundamental" to the success of the British economy. Indeed, it is.
Britain is already the leading Western center for Islamic financial and related professional services. It is a leading provider of Sharia-compliant finance, with reported assets of $19 billion, according to Islamic Finance 2013, a new report published by The City UK, a financial sector lobby group.
Britain is home to 22 Islamic banks, of which six are fully Sharia-compliant. This is substantially more than in any other Western country or offshore center and is more than double the number in the United States.
In addition, 25 law firms are now supplying services in Islamic finance, which is increasingly being used for major infrastructure projects in London.
Islamic investment has financed London's Shard skyscraper -- the tallest building in the European Union -- and the 2012 Olympic Village. Middle Eastern investors own Harrods, London's most famous luxury department store, and the Manchester City football team.
Muslims also invested in projects such as the massive London Gateway port, the redevelopment of Battersea Power Station and Arsenal Football Club's Emirates Stadium.
Qualifications in Islamic finance are being offered by four professional institutes and at least 16 universities and business schools.
London is also a leader in Islamic retail banking services, with institutions offering a range of Islamic banking products, such as mortgages and car loans.
The growing demand for Islamic retail banking services is being propelled by the demographic transformation taking place in Britain. The Muslim population of Britain will top 3.3 million sometime before the end of 2013 to reach around 5.2% of the overall population of 63 million, according to figures extrapolated from a recent study on the growth of the Muslim population in Europe.
This demographic earthquake -- which is being attributed to large-scale immigration, coupled with high Muslim birth rates and growing numbers of British converts -- is transforming the country's business landscape.
More than one-third of all small- and medium-sized companies in London are believed to be Muslim-owned, and British Muslims contribute at least £30 billion to the economy, according to a new report published by the Muslim Council of Britain.
The demographic changes are also contributing to the establishment of parallel Islamic financial and legal systems in British public life.
In 2012, the British government began offering Muslim workers a Sharia-compliant pension fund in the public sector. A new government agency, the National Employment Savings Trust (NEST), will give Muslims who do not already have a company pension the option of investing in the HSBC Life Amanah Pension Fund, a Sharia-compliant pension scheme. The initial target market comprises some 200,000 Muslims in Britain.
In June 2011, Pointon York, an independent financial services company based in Leicestershire in central England, announced that it will begin offering four Sharia-compliant Self-Invested Personal Pensions (SIPP) products that comply with Islamic law.
Pointon York was the first specialist SIPP provider to receive Sharia-compliant accreditation by the Islamic Bank of Britain (IBB), which has pioneered Islamic retail banking in the United Kingdom. The IBB will supervise the entire life-cycle of Pointon York's pension funds to ensure full compliance with Sharia legal principles.
Muslim families in Britain can already acquire Sharia-compliant baby bonds under the British government's Child Trust Fund scheme. In 2008, Britain's Financial Services Authority (FSA) authorized the establishment of the country's first Islamic insurance company as well as the country's first Sharia MasterCard, called the Cordoba Gold MasterCard.
In addition, takaful, a type of Islamic insurance, reached a new high in 2012, with premiums estimated to have reached around $30 billion, according to The City UK, the financial services lobby group.
PM Cameron told the economic forum that Britain has also taken steps to ensure that Muslims are not discriminated against by implementing measures ending "double taxation" on Islamic mortgages and introducing alternative forms of student and start-up loans to comply with a ban on interest payments. "Never again should a Muslim in Britain feel unable to go to university because they cannot get a student loan simply because of their religion," he said.
But some are saying that Britain should go even farther in aligning its financial system with Sharia law. In an interview with the newspaper London24, Jodie Ginsberg of Demos Finance, a financial services research firm, said: "David Cameron is right to throw Britain's doors open to the Muslim world to showcase our trading wares. But we should also use this forum as an opportunity to consider how the principles of Islamic finance itself, not just the money generated in the Muslim world, might be applied in the UK. Islamic finance is one of the few models successfully to have weathered the 2008 credit crunch and its aftermath."
Speaking on a stage that included Jordanian King Abdullah and the Sultan of Brunei, Cameron dismissed criticism of increasing foreign ownership in Britain: "I know some people look at foreign companies investing in our businesses, financing our infrastructure or taking over our football clubs and ask, shouldn't we do something to stop it? Well, let me tell you, the answer is no."
gatestoneinstitute

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Vatican and Israel

By Michael Curtis

On October 15, 2013 the Vatican took a decisive, unambiguous action against Nazi Germany. It refused to grant Erich Priebke, an SS Nazi war criminal, a church funeral in Rome where he had died aged 100. In a sense it was compensating for the fact that Roman Catholic clerics after World War II helped him avoid prosecution and to escape, after a short stay in Vatican City, to Argentina where he lived for 50 years. Priebke was always unrepentant about his part in the massacre of 335 Italian civilians, including 75 Italian Jews, in the Ardeatine Caves in Rome on March 24, 1944. He was not simply a Holocaust denier but also, in a final interview in July 2013, made a repulsive contribution to history. He argued that the film of the death camps in Bergen-Belsen directed by Alfred Hitchcock was made specifically for propaganda purposes. Priebke, the brutal Nazi, complained that "the cynicism and total absence of human feeling in the movie are indeed horrifying."
The relationship between the Vatican and the representatives of other faiths is a complex one but sometimes there are lighter moments that reveal moves towards greater collaboration. A more delightful, unexpected, and rather enchanting announcement was made by the Vatican in October 2013 that it was forming its own cricket team, to be called St. Peter's Cricket Club, and that it would like to play a game with a Church of England team at Lord's in London next year. This would symbolize the boosting of interfaith Christian dialogue.
A more serious and even more symbolic demonstration of interfaith collaboration is the negotiation also in October for a tentative agreement between the Vatican and the State of Israel on some difficult issues, along with consideration of the complex mixture of religious, political, and material factors involved in the relationship between the two states.
It is no secret that since the creation of Israel harmonious relations and signs of reconciliation between the Vatican and the Jewish State took some time to develop. Full diplomatic relations were not agreed upon until June 15, 1994. Since the first agreement with Israel on property questions in 1993, the remaining thorny issues of property rights and tax exemptions for the Catholic Church in Israel have been unresolved in spite of years of negotiations. According to the tentative arrangement reached in 2013, among other things, the properties owned by the Church in Israel will be exempt from property tax.
The high level negotiations in Rome during 2013 have concentrated on a land deal mainly relating to a Vatican desire to build two centers in Israel. The first real estate issue concerns the building of a new church (one that the Catholic Church has wanted for some time) in the Caesaria National Park. This, an area where a church dedicated to St. Paul once stood, is now an archaeological and tourist area. Israel is prepared to approve the construction of a church provided it does not display religious symbols on the exterior.
The second issue concerns some land on Mount Zion in Jerusalem owned by the Vatican. The Holy See wants to build a church on that property which is currently used as a parking lot. Israel has not agreed to this proposal but has offered an alternative piece of land on which a church can be built. Israel has also decided to allow an area on Mount Zion, known as the Cenacle, the highest point on the Mount, where the Last Supper supposedly took place, to become open to Catholic worshippers, a decision which the Vatican has long requested. The site, presently a tourist attraction, will be administered by the Franciscans, who hold that they were guardians of this site before the Ottoman Empire took it over in the 16th century. Under this agreement Israel will retain ownership of the land.
This area, the Cenacle, has been controversial for two reasons. Christians venerate it as the site of the Last Supper, Jews see it as a holy site because it rests above what some believe to be King David's Tomb, and Muslims also consider it to be David's burial site. Secondly, the territory of Mount Zion is disputed territory. It lies in East Jerusalem which Palestinians consider an occupied site. The Palestinians hold that it should be subject to international, not Israeli law. For the Vatican, and also for Jordan, there is a dilemma. If a future agreement with Israel recognizes Catholic institutions in East Jerusalem, this agreement is tantamount to the Vatican giving de facto recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the area. Jordan is involved because it regards itself as the guardian of the holy sites in Jerusalem. It is not prepared to accept a Vatican-Israeli agreement concerning those sites. Therefore, both the Palestinians and Jordan want the Vatican to consider East Jerusalem as "occupied territory" until there is a final status agreement on the city.
Unquestionably, relations between the Holy See and Israel have been steadily improving. There are differences but not storms or obstacles that prevent some accommodation. Clearly there are still strong differences of opinion over the actions, and non-actions, of Pope Pius XII. If one side considers him a saint and a man who raised his voice in favor of Jews during World War II, others see him as more concerned with protecting the interests of the Church and its institutions and personnel, against both Nazi Germany and Soviet communism rather than with the fate of Jews. Those strong differences are particularly focused on the events of October 16, 1943 when the Nazis rounded up and imprisoned more than 1,000 Jews at a site close to the Vatican: most of the Jews rounded up during the incident were killed at Auschwitz. The behavior of the Pope, and his apparent silence, is still a matter of dispute. On the other hand, a number of Jews found safety within the Vatican. It is wise to suspend final judgment until the Vatican archives on wartime events are revealed.
More cordial actions towards the Jewish people in general and to Israel in particular on the part of the Vatican have take place since then. The first important step was in 1965 when the Vatican ended the longstanding accusation that the Jewish people as a whole was responsible for the killing of Jesus. A draft of Nostra Aetate was made in November, in the pontificate of John XXIII (958-1963) and was promulgated on October 28, 1965 under Pope Paul VI. It repudiated the charge of Jewish deicide, that Jews living now can be held guilty for the death of Jesus. It also decried all displays of anti-Semitism.
The Vatican has now accepted the existence of Israel. Pope John Paul II spoke of the "right of the people of the State of Israel to live in peace and security." In an address on April 10, 1997 to Aharon Lopez, Israeli Ambassador to the Vatican, he said, "The Holy See and the Catholic Church as a whole are deeply committed to cooperating with the State of Israel in combating all forms of anti-Semitism and all kinds of racism, and of religious intolerance."
More recently, Pope Benedict XVI in a nuanced and balanced speech in Rome on May 15, 2009 stated, "Let it be universally recognized that the State of Israel has a right to exist, and to enjoy peace and security within internationally agree borders. Let it be likewise acknowledged that the Palestinian people have a right to a sovereign, independent homeland, to live in dignity and to travel freely."
The Vatican has somewhat modified its position on Jerusalem. For many years the Vatican has sought the internationalization of Jerusalem and the Holy Places. It approved the UN General Assembly Resolution 181 of November 29, 1947 which called for two states and for a "corpus separatum" for Jerusalem and its environment, giving it an international character and international guarantees." It has altered this formula to agree to a "special statute, internationally guaranteed" for Jerusalem and the Holy Places. For its part Israel has recognized the juridical personality and authority of the canon law in the Catholic Church and its institutions.
There have been hints that Pope Francis may visit the Holy Land in 2014. So far Popes have made only three trips: Paul VI was in Jerusalem for half a day in 1964; John Paul II was there in 2000; and Benedict XVI visited in 2009. It would be an important signal of the growing harmony between the Vatican and Israel if Pope Francis did make the journey.
americanthinker

Congressional Leaders Honor Churchill at Bust-Dedication Ceremony

By Alec Torres

A ceremony was held on Wednesday morning dedicating a new bust of Sir Winston Churchill to be put on permanent display in the Capitol. The event took place in the National Statuary Hall and featured speeches by government leaders and Winston Churchill’s grandson as well as a musical performance by Roger Daltrey, former lead singer of The Who.
The event was conceived by the office of Speaker John Boehner, who hosted the ceremony and who spoke along with other U.S. officials, including Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and John Kerry. Each spoke about America’s enduring friendship with Great Britain and how Churchill in particular was, as Boehner put it, “the best friend the United States ever had.”
Kerry noted the irony of the event, saying, “To think that in Statuary Hall, [in] a building British troops tried to burn down, that the bust would stand along Samuel Adams, the founder of the Sons of Liberty — as well it should.” Kerry went on to praise Churchill for his originality and ability to understand America sometimes better than Americans do.
Following these speeches in honor of Churchill, Laurence Geller, chairman of the Churchill Centre, and Nicholas Soames, Winston Churchill’s grandson, praised the great friendship forged by Churchill between America and Great Britain.
Many of the speakers discussed how Churchill was the son of an English father and American mother, who admired the United States, particularly Lincoln, well before he rose to prominence. Churchill was also the first, and so far only, non-American to ever be awarded honorary U.S. citizenship, bestowed upon him by an act of Congress in 1963.
The dedication of this bust comes after President Obama removed a bust of Churchill from the Oval Office, a move that generated criticism early in Obama’s presidency.
Roger Daltrey capped off the ceremony with a performance of The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”
nationalreview

Australia: Israeli Civil Rights Group Sues BDS Academic

In an unprecedented legal move, Israeli civil rights group Shurat HaDin has filed a lawsuit in Australia's Federal Court against an academic for supporting the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, the Australian Broadcast Corporation reports. The suit states that Sydney University professor Jake Lynch's public allegiance to the BDS movement is discriminatory to Israelis and Jews.
 The BDS campaign has gained international publicity for its use of political and economic pressure on Israeli individuals, organizations and companies to protest perceived indiscretions against Palestinian Arabs. BDS is most well-known for its propaganda, and for reports that some of its efforts have turned to violence. Most recently, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)'s report naming the top 10 most anti-Israel groups used support of the BDS movement as a criterion for an organization to be involved in anti-Israel, anti-Semitic activity.
The announcement also comes in the wake of the horrific anti-Semitic hate attack last week where four people where beaten on Shabbat evening while walking through a Sydney suburb.
In an interview with Australian news anchor Leigh Sales, Shurat HaDin representative Andrew Hamilton defends the landmark initiative. "BDS is racist and discriminatory by attacking private individuals and organizations based on their racial background or ethnic national background of being Israeli and being Jewish. By attacking them, by depriving them of their human rights, their freedom of expression, that is racist and unlawful."
Meanwhile, in response to allegations that the Executive Council of Australian Jewry has declared the move "inappropriate and counterproductive" and that "the most effective means of protest [. . .] is just a publicity campaign", Hamilton points out that Australia's anti-hate Racial Discrimination Act was designed to "protect individuals and organisations from discrimination, from boycotts, from divestment, from sanctions based on their national ethnic origin" and stresses that while legitimate means of free speech like the Israeli media, "which criticizes Israel's policies every single day" is acceptable, "targeting individuals because you dislike the policies of the country where they're from is against the law" and "crosses the line."
A representative for Lynch, in an attempt to defend the professor's offensive actions, explained the situation. "My colleague refused to give his signature on the request for approval of a scholarship. There are 3,000 other academics at Sydney University who could and have given those signatures," said Stuart Rees, a fellow professor. He claimed that the objection is not because the scholarship applicant, Hebrew University professor Dan Avnon, is Israeli, but rather "because the campus is on occupied land."
Hamilton responded by pointing out the diversity intrinsic in Hebrew University's philosophy, as a place where "Arabs and Jews and Christians and Muslims all learn together," and by reiterating the fact that BDS discriminates against "Israelis and Jews, because that is the critical link" which binds every BDS campaign together.
Hebrew University has not yet released a public statement confirming the incident.
israelnationalnews

UKIP condemns culture of soft justice

UKIP has condemned Britain's ‘soft justice culture’ that led to 150,000 criminals last year having 15 prior offences. Home Affairs Spokesman Gerard Batten said: "This is evidence enough that soft sentencing simply doesn't work. "The fact that the proliferation of serial re-offenders has increased by 14% since 2008 is a worrying sign that if we don't get serious about sentences then Britain is going to end up with a hardcore criminal base that has no fear of breaking the law. "These people have committed millions of crimes between them. Our soft justice culture and prison system clearly aren’t working. If these offenders had faced longer sentences for early offences, with a stronger focus on proper rehabilitation rather than making the life of the prisoner as comfortable as possible then I am confident that that number would be much reduced."
ukip

French Jewish Leader Says Climate for Jews in Country is ‘Not Pleasant’

By Zach Pontz

The head of the umbrella organization of French Jewish institutions told Israel’s i24 News Wednesday that France was not an anti-Semitic country, but that for Jews there is “a climate in which it is not pleasant to live.”
Roger Cukierman, the head of CRIF (Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France) added that the “correlation between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism” is a new phenomenon.
“Describing oneself as anti-Zionist but not anti-Semitic is in vogue nowadays,” Cukierman told the network.
According to a recent survey, some 40% of French Jews are afraid to openly identify as such in public, a much larger percentage than the 25% in the EU overall who harbor similar fears.
According to i24 News, Curkierman said France “is facing three distinct forms of anti-Semitism. First, there is the rise of the far right, including the growing public acceptance of National Front party; on the other hand, there is the anti-Semitism of the far left, originating with pro-Palestinian activists calling for a boycott of Israel. Cukierman described this type as ‘anti-Semitism dressed up as anti-Zionism.’
Finally, anti-Semitism prevails among young suburban immigrants, ‘predominantly Muslims,’ who are ‘eager to commit violence when they see a Jew a yarmulke.’”
Cukierman was, however, complimentary of French government officials, including Prime Minister Francois Hollande and Interior Minister Manuel Valls, and applauded their efforts to fight anti-Semitism.
“Holland and Valls are friends of Israel,” he said.
Cukierman also weighed in on current peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, saying, “Unless we opt for two states, sooner or later the Jews will be a minority and Israel will lose its democratic status or will become an apartheid state.”
algemeiner

Christian Support for 'Palestinian Cause' Ascendant

An interview with an American Christian commentator published by Israeli media this week reveals just how far the Evangelical Church has moved into the "Palestinian camp" when it comes to the Middle East conflict. For decades, Israel's most stalwart supporters were to be found among Evangelical Christians, the bulk of whom saw the rebirth of the Jewish state as a fulfillment of biblical prophecy and evidence of God's faithfulness. But a new generation of Evangelical leaders are "committed to spreading the Palestinian version of the conflict," said Jim Fletcher, a long-time Christian publisher, in an interview published to Israel National News. "These pro-Palestinian leaders currently control the narrative within the Church." According to Fletcher, there is a "massive effort...in the heart of the American Evangelical Church to lure its members to the Palestinian side." As a result of that effort, it is now "severely mistaken to think that all Evangelicals are pro-Israel." Among those Evangelical leaders one should be wary of are Willow Creek Pastor Lynne Hybels, Saddleback Community Church Pastor Rick Warren, Dr. Gary Burge of Wheaton College and Christian publisher Cameron Strang. Hybels and Burge were speakers at last year's Christ at the Checkpoint conference in Bethlehem, where local and foreign Evangelical leaders painted modern Israel as a nation wholly disconnected from its biblical roots and prophecies pertaining to it. Furthermore, this movement interprets Yeshua's own teachings in a more humanistic light in order to use them against Israel. "In the Palestinian narrative, emotion is predominant. The emphasis is on ‘land confiscations, checkpoints, detentions, beatings.’ What they call the ‘apartheid wall’ is also mentioned frequently," explained Fletcher. But, perhaps most disconcerting, is the lack of a strong response from those who still love Israel and see her for what she truly is, warts and all. "To my knowledge, there are no broad-based Evangelical leaders in the U.S. who will speak out about this problem, which is developing into an epidemic," said Fletcher, warning in conclusion that "the way things are going, support will completely flip from Israel to the Palestinians in the next generation." For those of us sitting in Israel, there is another worrying effect: more and more Israelis are starting to feel that, once again, they cannot trust or rely on Christians. The mere fact that this interview was published on a religious Israeli media website demonstrates that Israeli Jews see the strong wall of Christian support eroding, and as a result the bonds that were built up over the past century are beginning to unravel.
israeltoday

French president persona non grata in Knesset

French President Francois Hollande is not welcome in the Knesset, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein declared Wednesday. Hollande decided to speak to university students, not the Knesset, during his visit to Israel in three weeks, and Edelstein responded to the snub in kind. "Whoever disrespects the Knesset does not deserve the Knesset's respect," Edelstein wrote on Facebook. "International leaders cannot belittle the Knesset, the elected parliament of the State of Israel, and ignore it. As speaker of the Knesset I am determined to protect the dignity of our nation and its representatives, the MKs. I will not allow Israeli democracy to be humiliated and turned into a doormat." Previous French Presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac gave speeches in the Knesset's plenum, and Hollande was scheduled to do so as well, but canceled. Explaining why a lack of a speech is grounds for not even meeting with Hollande, Edelstein told Army Radio "there are 119 other MKs. If Hollande chose to speak to students, imagine how those MKs would feel if he came and met with me and we had our picture taken together." New French Ambassador to Israel Patrick Maisonnave will not be invited to any official Knesset ceremonies, nor will any other French dignitaries or ministers visiting Israel. "There are plenty of events in universities. I'm sure the French officials will be too busy to find time for the Knesset," Edelstein remarked sarcastically. As for how Hollande is different from US President Barack Obama, who also chose to address students and not the Knesset, Edelstein said he was disappointed then, too, but Obama visited Israel shortly after the government was formed and the situation in the Knesset was messier than it is now. Former Knesset speaker MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud Beytenu) said that Hollande's decision not to speak in the Knesset, right after Obama did the same "is a worrying sign for Israeli democracy and expresses a lack of faith in the representatives of the people to whom he is speaking." "The Knesset is a symbol of Israeli sovereignty and with all the respect we have for the French, avoiding speaking to the people from the Knesset's stage is wrong," Rivlin wrote on his Facebook page. A French Embassy spokeswoman said she was "surprised" to see Edelstein's reaction, because Hollande's schedule is not finalized yet. "There is no need to react like this. The president wants to show his attachment to Israeli democracy and its representatives and wants to go to the Knesset. We are in touch with the Knesset to find the best time for [Hollande] to come, working with the Knesset's scheduling constraints. We're working on options and trying to be accommodating," the French Embassy spokeswoman stated.
jpost

Islamerica, Eurabia and Eurasia

By Daniel Greenfield

Obama has claimed that the United States is “one of the largest Muslim countries in the world.” While the actual number of Muslims is in dispute, Islamerica is no match for Eurabia or Eurasia.
Europe has 44 million Muslims. If Turkey crawls into the European Union, that number will climb to 118 million. That’s more than double the number of Latinos in America.
If Obama decided to take in all of Syria and Somalia, just to be extra generous, his Islamerica still wouldn’t have a hope in hell of catching up to Eurabia or to the Eurasian Union.
The new evil empire in the east isn’t the USSR; it’s Eurasia, a replacement for the Warsaw Pact that turns away from the troubled economies of Eastern Europe toward the population-rich and resource-rich Muslim republics providing a growing share of Russia’s military and labor force.
The Eurasian Union, which is to include Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and possibly Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, is on track for 2015. A Eurasian Union would double Russia’s Muslim population and triple it if Putin is able to bring all the members he wants into his own EU.
These numbers are only placeholders. The real numbers are powered by demographic change. The Muslim birth rate is double that of the Russian birth rate. A similar situation exists in Europe.
Some demographers are forecasting a Muslim majority in Russia by 2050. Europe’s Muslim population is projected to hit 58 million by 2030. By 2050, the United Kingdom and France could have majority Muslim populations if current birth rates as well as immigration and welfare policies continue.
A Muslim population race might seem irrational, but consider that those same numbers also forecast that a Muslim Great Britain will be the biggest country in Europe by 2050. Going from the UK to the UC, from a United Kingdom to a United Caliphate, would seem like a poor tradeoff just for sheer size, but with low birth rates, weak economies and a lack of local energy, there is no shortage of experts who think that bringing in immigrants with high birth rates and lots of youthful energy is the answer.
If Americans find that attitude baffling, they might want to consider how much bipartisan support there is for amnesty and open borders among their political and expert classes. The men at the top have done the math, or at least some of the math, and determined that current birth rates mean an impossible tilt in entitlements spending as too many younger workers collapse under the burden of an aging population that failed to have enough children because it put its faith in government instead of family.
The two EUs, the European Union and the Eurasian Union, are trying to solve the problems of low birth rates and decadent societies the same way that we are. The difference is that their favorite brand of immigrant is even more destructive and dangerous.
European and Russian leaders are thinking in terms of quantity rather than quality. That’s the same mistake our leaders have made. Everyone is looking forward to competing with China by having 500 million people, without really thinking about who those people will be or noticing that there are shrinking numbers of workers and entrepreneurs off the dole who are doing any actual competing.
Chinese leaders know that a large population is a weakness that invites disharmony. The People’s Republic of China, like its ancestor regimes, seeks to balance growth with stability. It would never occur to it to import millions of hostile strangers. It has a Great Wall and an ample historical memory to remind it of all the times it fell apart from internal tensions and barbarian invasions.
Russia’s Eurasian Union is less foolish than the European Union because it is a tyranny and exercises close control over its Muslim (and non-Muslims) population. There is little tolerance in Russia for the likes of an Anjem Choudary who would sooner or later be the victim of a “mugging” by an assailant in a black leather coat with a silenced pistol. But a vehement critic of Islam might meet the same fate.
The Eurasian Union is a less dishonest version of the European Union, dispensing with the nonsense and getting right to the point. It recognizes that Muslim demographics are inevitable and wants to harness them for regional power while having little interest in the first EU’s obsessions with Green Energy or human rights. It won’t even bother with the fake elections whose results the first EU ignores.
Both EUs are leagues ahead of Islamerica when it comes to sheer self-destructiveness, but Islamerica is still in the race. The 2.6 million Muslims of 2010 America will hit 6.2 million by 2030. Those numbers aren’t as catastrophic as anything coming out of London or Moscow, but numbers can be tricky things. Population growth has a way of sneaking up on you even with a perfectly predictable growth trend.
Europe did not pay very much attention to the Muslim demographic bomb because the numbers were at first too slight and the only places to notice their effects were in the streets of working class towns. And then the numbers seemed too inevitable to do anything about except mumble reassuring things about integration.
America is still at that opening stage where the numbers seem to be too slight to be worth worrying about. Even 6.2 million doesn’t seem worrisome in a country as large as the United States of America. And that is a dangerous oversight. Demographic bombs don’t go off overnight. They tick away as they double and double again until, like interest rates and the march of time, they explode in your face.
The European and Eurasian Unions confuse large Muslim populations with international influence. Obama made that same mistake when he asserted proudly that the United States was one of the world’s biggest Muslim countries. Having a large Muslim minority is a source of conflict, not power.
Advanced countries with large Muslim minority populations include the United States, France, Thailand and Israel. In all of these countries, the Muslim minority has been an explosive element spurring conflict, terrorism and cycles of violence that are never broken.
China understands that stability is more important than size. The younger world powers trying to compete with it would do well to learn that simple lesson.
Eurabia, Eurasia and Islamerica aren’t the future. They’re multicultural roadmaps to national suicide.
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