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Monday, March 31, 2008

Moses, Khidr and free will

Saudi Gazette includes an Koranic story in today's issue:
THE story of Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) with Khidr, mentioned in Surah Al Kahf, the Cave (65:82), is one of the most important didactic stories in the Qur’an.
The story begins when Moses was delivering a sermon and one of his followers suddenly asked him “Who is the most knowledgeable person on earth” and Moses (peace be upon him), immediately answered him: ‘I (am the most learned).’ Allah admonished him for this answer and told him that there was a man who was more knowledgeable than he was and ordered him to search for that man to learn from him, “So they found one of Our servants, on whom We had bestowed Mercy from Ourselves and whom We had taught knowledge from Our own Presence.”
We will notice that Moses’ relationship with Khidr is that of a student and his teacher that should be based on politeness, obedience, respect and patience and this is clear from Moses’ first question, “Moses said to him: “May I follow you, so that you teach me something of the (Higher) Truth which you have been taught (by Allah)?” Khidr reminds him during his stay with him that he has to be patient indicating that he (Moses) would see things that require a lot of patience, “He (Khidr) said: “Verily you will not be able to have patience with me! And how can you have patience about things about which your understanding is not complete?”
Moses declares that he would stick to his promise, “Moses said: “You will find me, if Allah wills, (truly) patient: nor shall I disobey you in aught.”
But what Khidr did was beyond the toleration of Moses; he scuttled the boat of the poor people who helped them, killed a boy for no reason and then built the wall (which was about to fall down) in the village that refused to offer them some food.
Then Khidr explained these mysterious events to Moses “This is the parting between me and you: now will I tell you the interpretation of (those things) over which you were unable to hold patience.
As for the boat, it belonged to certain men in dire want: they plied on the water: I but wished to render it unserviceable, for there was after them a certain king who seized every boat by force.
As for the youth, his parents were people of Faith, and we feared that he would bring them to grief by obstinate rebellion and ingratitude (to Allah and man). So we desired that their Lord would give them in exchange (a son) better in purity (of conduct) and closer in affection. As for the wall, it belonged to two orphan youths, in the town; there was, beneath it, a buried treasure, to which they were entitled: their father had been a righteous man: So your Lord desired that they should attain their age of full strength and get out their treasure - a mercy (and favor) from your Lord.
I did it not of my own accord. Such is the interpretation of (those things) over which you were unable to hold patience.”
The moral lessons that we can elicit from the story include the following:
• A student’s relationship with his teacher has to be based on obedience, respect and above all patience because gaining knowledge requires a lot of patience on the part of the learner.
• There is wisdom behind every event that takes place in this world, but we might not understand this wisdom immediately. Nothing happens haphazardly on earth.
• Knowledge has no limit and you always have to know that if you are very knowledgeable, there is someone who is more knowledgeable than you are.
I quoted the entire article so no one would think I took it out of context.

This story really is in the Koran (chapter 18, verses 62-85) although Khidr is not named.

Is no one in Islam bothered by these verses? Here is the actual translation of the episode of Khidr murdering a boy:
[18.74] So they went on until, when they met a boy, he slew him. (Musa) said: Have you slain an innocent person otherwise than for manslaughter? Certainly you have done an evil thing.
[and Khidr later answers...]
[18.80] And as for the boy, his parents were believers and we feared lest he should make disobedience and ingratitude to come upon them:
[18.81] So we desired that their Lord might give them in his place one better than him in purity and nearer to having compassion.
al-Khidr murdered a boy, not because of any sins he committed, but because he "knew" that the boy was going to be disobedient and his parents would be better off with a replacement child.

One can forgive the 8th century mentality of children being disposable, but the entire concept of free will - which is supposedly integral to Islam - is being thrown out the window here, as the boy is punished for sins he has yet to commit. Khidr knew prophetically that the child was predestined to be "disobedient" (this translation makes it sound more like he was guessing, though) and it was considered a kindness to kill him now. Meaning that this child had no free will.

Is it not strange that Moses is being scolded for his impatience and his being upset at the killing, but the cold-blooded murder of an innocent child is celebrated as a triumph of wisdom?

This story may illuminate more about Islam than the Saudi Gazette intended.

NYT notices that Hamas really hates Jews

A milestone in mainstream journalism, as the august New York Times recognizes that Hamas' rhetoric is not only the Western-acceptable, rabidly anti-Zionist type but it includes real Jew-hatred:
In the Katib Wilayat mosque one recent Friday, the imam was discussing the wiliness of the Jew.

“Jews are a people who cannot be trusted,” Imam Yousif al-Zahar of Hamas told the faithful. “They have been traitors to all agreements — go back to history. Their fate is their vanishing. Look what they are doing to us.”

At Al Omari mosque, the imam cursed the Jews and the “Crusaders,” or Christians, and the Danes, for reprinting cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. He referred to Jews as “the brothers of apes and pigs,” while the Hamas television station, Al Aksa, praises suicide bombing and holy war until Palestine is free of Jewish control.

Its videos praise fighters and rocket-launching teams; its broadcasts insult the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, for talking to Israel and the United States; its children’s programs praise “martyrdom,” teach what it calls the perfidy of the Jews and the need to end Israeli occupation over Palestinian land, meaning any part of the state of Israel.

Such incitement against Israel and Jews was supposed to be banned under the 1993 Oslo accords and the 2003 “road map” peace plan. While the Palestinian Authority under Fatah has made significant, if imperfect efforts to end incitement, Hamas, no party to those agreements, feels no such restraint.

Since Hamas took over Gaza last June, routing Fatah, Hamas sermons and media reports preaching violence and hatred have become more pervasive, extreme and sophisticated, on the model of Hezbollah and its television station Al Manar, in Lebanon.

Intended to indoctrinate the young to its brand of radical Islam, which combines politics, social work and military resistance, including acts of terrorism, the programs of Al Aksa television and radio, including crucial Friday sermons, are an indication of how far from reconciliation Israelis and many Palestinians are.
While it is refreshing to see the NYT face some facts, even now it skittishly avoids the biggest fact of all - that more Palestinian Arabs support Hamas than Fatah and that Hamas handily defeated Fatah in the last elections.

(h/t EBoZ)

Today's madrasahs: "Young minds are not for thinking"

A nice article from Foreign Policy that highlights the differences between madrassahs in decades past and today. Excerpts:
As a 9-year-old boy, I knelt on the bare floor of the neighborhood madrasa (religious school) in Karachi, Pakistan, repeating the Koranic verse, “Of all the communities raised among men you are the best, enjoining the good, forbidding the wrong, and believing in God.”

Hafiz Gul-Mohamed, the Koran teacher, made each of the 13 boys in our class memorize the verse in its original Arabic. Some of us also memorized the translation in our own language, Urdu. “This is the word of God that defines the Muslim umma [community of believers],” he told us repeatedly. “It tells Muslims their mission in life.” He himself bore the title hafiz (the memorizer) because he could recite all 114 chapters and 6,346 verses of the Koran.

The madrasa I attended, and its headmaster, opposed the West but in an apolitical way. He knew the communists were evil because they denied the existence of God. The West, however, was also immoral. Westerners drank alcohol and engaged in sex outside of marriage. Western women did not cover themselves. Western culture encouraged a mad race for making money. Song and dance, rather than prayer and meditation, characterized life in the West. Gul-Mohamed’s solution was isolation. “The umma should keep away from the West and its ways.”

But these were the 1960s. Although religion was important in the lives of Pakistanis, pursuit of material success rather than the search for religious knowledge determined students’ career choices.

And so it was for much of the four decades before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001... A few weeks after September 11, I visited Darul Uloom Haqqania. Taliban leader Mullah Omar had been a student at Haqqania, and the madrasa, with 2,500 students aged 5 to 21 from all over the world, has been called “the University of Jihad.” The texture of life in the madrasa still has elements that represent a continuum not over decades but over centuries. But at Haqqania, I saw that the world of the madrasa had changed since I last bowed my head in front of Hafiz Gul-Mohamed.

In a basement room with plasterless walls adorned by a clock inscribed with “God is Great” in Arabic, 9-year-old Mohammed Tahir rocked back and forth and recited the same verse of the Koran that had been instilled into my memory at the same age: “Of all the communities raised among men you are the best, enjoining the good, forbidding the wrong, and believing in God.” But when I asked him to explain how he understands the passage, Tahir’s interpretation was quite different from the quietist version taught to me. “The Muslim community of believers is the best in the eyes of God, and we must make it the same in the eyes of men by force,” he said. “We must fight the unbelievers and that includes those who carry Muslim names but have adopted the ways of unbelievers. When I grow up I intend to carry out jihad in every possible way.” Tahir does not believe that al Qaeda is responsible for September 11 because his teachers have told him that the attacks were a conspiracy by Jews against the Taliban. He also considers Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden great Muslims, “for challenging the might of the unbelievers.”

Maulana Samiul Haq, headmaster of the Haqqania madrasa, is a firebrand orator who led anti-U.S. demonstrations soon after the beginning of the war in Afghanistan. When I asked if he thought it appropriate to involve his 5- and 6-year-old charges in political demonstrations, Haq remarked, “No one is too young to do the right thing.” Later, he added, “Young minds are not for thinking. We catch them for the madrasas when they are young, and by the time they are old enough to think, they know what to think.” Students and teachers carried militant Islamic ideology from one madrasa to another. On one of the walls of the madrasa of my youth, someone had written the hadith “Seek knowledge even if it takes you as far as China.” Across the road from the madrasa at Haqqania, some of Tahir’s classmates have written a different hadith: “Paradise lies under the shade of swords.”

Tahir’s teacher carries a cane and can often be brutal. One madrasa in Pakistan has resorted to the practice of chaining students to pillars until they memorize the day’s lesson. But compared with life in a squalid refugee camp, the harshness of the madrasa probably is a blessing.

Muslim states are now calling upon Western governments to support madrasa reform through financial aid. The proposed recipe for reform is to add contemporary subjects alongside the traditional religious sciences in madrasa curriculum. But madrasas will probably survive these reform efforts, just as they survived the introduction of Western education during colonial rule. Can learning science and math, for example, change the worldview shaped by a theology of conformity? I asked Tahir if he is interested in learning math. He said, “In hadith there are many references to how many times Allah has multiplied the reward of jihad. If I knew how to multiply, I would be able to calculate the reward I will earn in the hereafter.”

What $2 billion a year buys you - today's peaceful Gaza news

PA prime minister Fayyad said that fully 60% of the PA budget has been going to Gaza (up from 58% last month) and that the PA has given Gaza $962 million in the past six months.

This money, of course, allows the Gaza infrastructure to go on so that Hamas can make sure that 100% of the money it smuggles into Gaza goes towards weapons and none of it to help real Palestinian Arabs.

Here's how some of the money was spent recently:

Al Azhar University created a policy banning Hamas rallies, and Hamas didn't take to it kindly. Many were injured as Hamas militias invaded the university. Both professors and students - including females - were hurt, and many abducted. One injured woman was refused treatment at Shifa Hospital at Hamas' instruction. Some of the women's veils were ripped off in the clashes. Apparently, Hamas poured some sort of caustic liquid on students.

Pictures from Firas Press:





Also, a Gazan was seriously injured after being shot in Gaza City. And 3 Fatah members were abducted by Hamas in Khan Younis, showing how much Hamas appreciates its billions it gets from Fatah - and our tax dollars.

Let's play the Peace Process Game

The Peace Process Game, which in no way should be confused with anything peaceful, is the game that Palestinian Arabs play with gullible Westerners to prove that their intent is something different than ultimately genocidal towards Jews in the Middle East.

One of the earlier incarnations of the game was when Arafat promised that he changed the PLO charter to not advocate the destruction of Israel, something that never occurred (unless anyone can point me to a copy of the revised charter, ten years after it was supposedly changed.) He even faked an entire "vote" in front of President Bill Clinton pretending to nullify parts of the charter. It was a classic move in the Peace Process Game.

More recently, this past September the PA announced that they had "dismantled" the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades in the West Bank. Nothing of the sort ever happened but they got brownie points in the West for this bold, imaginary move.

Dozens of similar examples come to mind - the "clean-up" of Nablus from terror and the "condemnation" of Abbas for the Mercaz HaRav massacre are two more recent ones.

Today, we find out about the latest wrinkle in the game, courtesy of Ha'aretz Hebrew (translated by Daily Alert:)
Israel recently authorized the deployment of 500 PA police in Nablus. According to a report that reached Defense Minister Barak, these forces are working in coordination with local terrorists.

The terrorists neutralize the bombs they have prepared when the PA police enter the Casbah, and hook them up again when they leave.
Another elaborate charade of the PA, meant to show the West that it is honoring commitments while it shows the terrorists whose side it is really on.

Let's give them more money for their peaceful moves!

Kuwait building synagogue?

A recent Al-Arabiya article on the race among Gulf states to build huge mega-skyscrapers - one planned to be a full mile high in Saudi Arabia - included this detail:
Kuwait has unveiled a plan to build a 1,001-meter (3,284 foot) tower. Its height is a reference to the classic work of Arabic literature, One Thousand and One Nights.

Three blades that will be built near the top of the tower will carry a mosque, a church and a synagogue to signify the unity of the three monotheistic religions.
They might have a hard time getting a minyan for Shabbos. Unless they install a Shabbos elevator, walking up some 6000 steps might be difficult for most worshippers.

Luckily, they probably won't have that problem - there are no known Jews in Kuwait, and there haven't been any for eighty years.

Then again, it is very easy to say you respect a religion when you can make sure that none of its adherents pollute your country.

Saudi murders daughter. Saudi news blames Facebook.

I don't know why I'm coming across so much Saudi news lately, but....
A woman was beaten up and shot dead by her father for talking online with a man she met on the website Facebook.

The case was reported on a Saudi Arabian news site as an example of the "strife" the social networking site is causing in the Islamic nation.

A leading Saudi preacher told Al-Arabiya.net that Facebook was a "door to lust" for women and called for it to be blocked.

Sheikh Ali al-Maliki said women were posting "revealing pictures" and "behaving badly" on the site, which has become popular with young Saudis.

See what happens when you allow kids to run loose on the Internet? Their virtuous fathers are forced to kill them!

Novel Saudi idea: Treat maids as if they're human

The Saudi-based Arab News, which goes out of its way to appear progressive to Western audiences, shows again its racist mentality with this unreal article:
JEDDAH, 31 March 2008 — Spoil your housemaid if you want to keep her. Give her a salary hike, a day off each week and above all be gentle with her. This is the advice people should heed if they want to ensure their maids do not begin looking for employment elsewhere.

An estimated 7,000 maids run away from their Saudi employers each year. “Spoiling maids is the best way to keep them. Employers don’t want to lose their maids and go through the hassle of spending SR7,000 and reams of red tape to get a new one,” said a Saudi who went through the bitter experience.

The Kingdom is home to around 3 million foreign maids. Many work here illegally after arriving on pilgrim visas. Most housemaids in the Kingdom are Indonesian, around 1 million according to sources at the Indonesian Embassy. Filipinos, Sri Lankans, Indians and Moroccans follow.

Labor experts say that the main reasons for maids running away include low pay and abuse. ...
Abdul Qader Hussein, a teacher, has seen several of his housemaids run away.

“I used all means, such as locking the maid in her room at night and securing windows with iron grills, but they were of no avail. I can’t do without a maid because my wife is also a teacher,” he said.

“Finally, a friend of mine told me the secret of keeping a maid for long term. Give her a pay hike and treat her well. From SR700 I raised her salary to SR1,200, the highest amount she is likely to earn if she runs away. It worked. She is with us now for over two years. None of the maids in the past stayed for more than a couple of months,” he said, adding that he also gives his maid occasional gifts in the form of cash or clothes.

Maj. Muhammad Al-Hussein, spokesman of the Passports Department in the Makkah region, said that in most cases maids run away with the help of middlemen of their own nationality.

“They promise them new jobs with better pay and work atmosphere, including a weekly holiday, which Saudi sponsors seldom give,” he said.

“It has also been reported that some ill-treated maids have resorted to acts of vengeance before running away,” Al-Hussein added. According to one such report, two Indonesian and Filipino maids made their employers consume food containing urine, stool and blood.

Ahmad Al-Ghamdi, who runs a recruitment firm in Jeddah, said maids could be stopped from running away only if Saudi families learn to treat them with kindness like family members. “They should never be viewed with suspicion and prejudice,” he added.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Saudis don't go to prostitutes. They "marry" them.

Everyone knows that it is a farce, but their "moral codes" are so strong that they all pretend anyway.

From Saudi Gazette:
Single men, and even married ones who are unhappy or just bored and don’t mind polygamy, can easily find a foreign matchmaker in the Holy City.

All a man has to do is contact one of them, and she will find him a bride from among the numerous overstayers in town. Most probably, she will be Indonesian, Mauritanian, Burmese or, if he’s the talkative type, Egyptian or Moroccan, which takes care of the language barrier.

“God the Almighty will bless me because I seek to unite two people in matrimony,” says one matchmaker who would only identify herself as Umm Ayman, “and to find women husbands who can shelter them, particularly of Saudi nationality.”

The matchmaker’s ostensible keenness to observe Shariah extends as far as letting the suitor eyeball his prospective wife. If an agreement is reached, the rigorous process of negotiating the dowry and the matchmaker’s fees begins in earnest. The more interest the groom shows, the more expensive it can get for him.

In this kind of deals, everything, no matter how personal, is bound to have a price tag. Depending on how pretty the would-be bride is, the dowry could range from SR10,000 to SR20,000 – and those are the bare minimums. If the groom shows too much interest, the figure could go well beyond that.

Standard fees for the matchmaker begins with SR500 just for starting the work, plus SR1,000 to SR1,500 once the marriage contract is made.

The service is hardly shoddy. The matchmaker takes on the easy task of producing the two witnesses who should attest to the marriage, and they probably are the same nationality as the bride’s. They get a paltry SR50 each, and the marriage “official” gets a princely fee of SR100.

And that’s it. There are no more expenses for the groom to pay and, of course, to keep things under a lid, no wedding ceremony is ever held, and the two are hitched happily ever after.

There are, however, two little conditions the brides usually set for the marriage to be consummated.

First off, having children is a definite no-no.

Then there is the small matter of the groom having to give a one-hour prior warning that he’s about to show up at the love nest.

According to Umm Ayman, the wife usually takes all necessary precautions not to get pregnant.
“The last thing she wants is to bear the responsibility of motherhood, what with being illegal and all,” she says. “Then there is the ever-present elephant in the room – the almost certain possibility that the marriage would not last for long anyway.”

The one-hour notice makes about as much sense as the marriage itself. While the pretext is always that the wife needs time “to get herself ready,” a number of these women are often married off to more than one man, and they don’t want to get caught.

On the night of consummation, it is considered “appropriate” for the groom to buy dinner for his new-found wife and in-laws. Of course, all of this is hush-hush – not even the neighbors find out.

Sheikh Abdulmohsen Al-Obaikan, Counsel at the Ministry of Justice and a member of the Shoura Council, says this kind of marriage is both illegal and un-Islamic.

“If the intention is to break up the marriage after a while, this marriage would be one of pleasure, which isn’t part of Shariah.”

He further added that being married to several men at the same time amounts to prostitution.

Saudi Vice, episode 13: Lockdown!

We have already seen many of the adventures of our heroes, the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice. But what happens to the perps after the crime was committed? How does the Commission ensure that these lowlife immoral scum - especially the women - are never allowed to corrupt upstanding Saudi citizens any more?

The brilliant mullahs who guide our heroes have a foolproof, fail-safe method of ensuring the purity of Saudi society. From the Saudi Gazette, referring to Saudi women's prisons:
[S]ome inmates who had been indiscriminately arrested by the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice on charges of illegal actions stay in custody indefinitely, simply because the commission never gets around to pressing charges...
Brilliant! If they never get charged, they can never go free!

And what about those that did manage to get sentenced? As the National Human Rights Society found:
In a surprise visit to the Berman Prison in Jeddah last week, the National Human Rights Society (NHRS) found that four female inmates have AIDS, and two others suffer from Tuberculosis.

She said the delegation was stunned to learn that King Saud Hospital in Jeddah had turned down repeated requests to conduct HIV tests for the female inmates, claiming that the test is too expensive.

The NHRS’s team, headed by Jawhara Al-Anqari, the Society’s Deputy Chairman for Family Affairs, also found that there were Saudi women who were still in prison after they had completed their jail terms, because their families refused to receive them....

Furthermore, the delegation found that all the prisoners were being kept in the same dormitories, regardless of age and crime records.
So the Commission wisely throws women in prison when they are suspected of horrific crimes like "khulwa" and while in prison they might be stuck there forever, exposed to other prisoners who are only murderers or the like, and exposed to diseases that can kill them.

Thus ensuring that they never, ever get back on the streets where they might entice young men into a meal at a public restaurant.

Our heroes have saved Saudi society's purity yet again!

Saudis block access to human rights websites

From Saudi Gazette:
RIYADH – The National Society for Human Rights is seeking to unblock some internet sites of some Arab and international human rights organizations, the Arabic daily Al-Watan reported on Saturday.

Dr. Saleh Al-Khathlan, head of the Observation and Followup Committee at the society and a professor of politics at the King Saud University, said the society had taken note of the bans applied to some websites like those of Human Rights Watch, Reporters Sans Frontiers and the Arabian Network for Human Rights Information.

Al-Watan quoted Khathlan as saying that the blockage goes against the Kingdom’s commitments as a member of the UN’s Human Rights Council. He added that those sites are committed to international standards regarding their online content.

He said blockage is in breach of article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – which states the rights of freedom of speech and obtaining information.

It is also in breach of article 23 of the Arabian Pact of Human Rights, adding that Saudi Arabia is the head of the Arab League’s permanent oversight committee on human rights, an image that the block might harm.
You'd almost think that they were trying to hide something....

I wonder if they are just as vigilant against porn websites?

Tunnel collapse!

From JPost:
An Egyptian security official says a tunnel used for smuggling between Egypt and Gaza has collapsed and killed at least one Palestinian.

The official says Sunday's collapse occurred when the tunnel's fragile sand ceiling fell under its own weight. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

He says Palestinian rescue workers are trying to extract the Palestinian man's body from the Gaza side of the border where he entered the tunnel.

The 2008 PalArab self-death count is now at 52.

Bahrainis fear: "Soon we'll see Israelis living among us"

The ultimate nightmare scenario for some Bahrainis:
A PROTEST group pushing for the re-opening of the Israel Boycott Office in Bahrain is hosting a major conference next month to highlight its cause.

It claims that as a result of the office being closed, Israeli produce is now finding its way into the Bahrain market.

The group also accused the US military of bringing in Israeli goods to be consumed at its naval base in Bahrain.

The Bahrain Society Against Normalisation with the Zionist Enemy is behind next month's event, which is expected to bring together MPs and young activists to highlight issues relating to the office's closure.

Mr Abdulmalik said closing the boycott office was a dangerous first step on the road to opening diplomatic ties.

"Israeli products won't rush into the country as soon as the office is shut, but closing it is the first step in building Zionist trade and diplomatic relations and soon we'll see Israelis living among us," he added.

First Zionist produce, then real Zionists. Horror upon horror!

Gazans claim to have hit Kiryat Gat with rocket

Palestine Today quotes a Reuters report I cannot find anywhere that claims that a Qassam rocket hit Kiryat Gat on Saturday, some 30 kilometers from Gaza. Firas Press quotes the same report, although it looks more like they copied the PalToday report.

Seems unlikely.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Fitna

The release of the Dutch film Fitna has provoked much reaction in the blogosphere, and not a huge amount yet worldwide.

If you haven't been following the story, Wikipedia describes it like this:
Fitna is a film by Dutch politician Geert Wilders, leader of the Party for Freedom (PVV) in the Dutch parliament. The movie offers his views on Islam and the Qur'an. The film's title comes from the Arabic word fitna which is used to describe "disagreement and division among people", or a "test of faith in times of trial". The movie was released to the Internet on 27 March 2008.

It was originally hosted on a video streaming site LiveLeak, but today LiveLeak removed the video in the face of very real death threats.

Here is a copy from Google Video, which may or may not stay up:


There are two issues to be dealt with here, and it is important not to mix them up. One is the message of the film, and the other is the entire idea of censoring media that offends a group of people.

The message seems to be that Islam is inherently evil, as Wilders takes Quranic verses and juxtaposes them with images of terror and hate speech by Muslim clerics. While there is plenty to criticize about Islam and how it is practiced by many today, this is a bit oversimplistic and smacks more of propaganda than a documentary. A much better example, in my opinion, was Obsession, a 12-minute version is here:


To judge Fitna as objectively more offensive than any number of rabidly anti-semitic videos that are allowed on YouTube is absurd, however. The fact that it is being censored is more troubling than any perceived offense it is guilty of, and really, it does not show anything more than Jihadi videos already do.

A possible Freudian slip by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon illustrates the problem well:
"I condemn in the strongest terms the airing of Geert Wilders' offensively anti-Islamic film," Ban said in a statement.

"There is no justification for hate speech or incitement to violence. The right of free speech is not at stake here."
Normally, when one says that something is an incitement to violence, it means that the people watching it would be moved to act violently against the players portrayed in the medium. In this case, though, the only people being incited to violence are the very violent people the film is about, not the viewers. Moon is, perhaps subconsciously, saying that the reason he is against the film is because it can cause Muslims to riot and kill. Ban is effectively giving Muslims veto power over any medium that they deem offensive - he is advocating censorship. Despite his protests, the right of free speech is exactly what is at stake here.

Whether he meant it or not, the vehemence of his reaction is way out of proportion to the objective amount of offensiveness that this video contains. It is well within the bounds of any reasonable definition of free speech and it does not come close to hate speech or incitement to violence, unlike any number of anti-semitic sermons that can be seen broadcast weekly on Islamist TV stations, like this recent example.

The only way to fight this obscene censorship - even if you disagree with the film's message, as many sober people do - is to make sure that it is uploaded and available to everyone who wants to find it, on video sharing sites large and small. It may be a tempest in a teapot but the symbolism of the Islamists managing to shut it down portends much worse things to come.

Muslim expert weighs in on pedophilia (MEMRI)

The depths of depravity and ignorance of "Islamic legal experts" is mind boggling.

Check out this guy:


Iraqi Expert on Islamic Law Calls to Allow Young Girls to Get Married: In Islamic Countries, Girls Get Their Periods at the Age of 8-10. Westerners Criticize the Prophet Muhammad for Having Sex with His 9 Year Old Wife, But Allow Fornication with Underage Girls

Following are excerpts from an interview with Dr. Abd Al-Hamid Al-'Ubeidi, an Iraqi expert on Islamic law, which aired on Al-Rafidein TV on March 14, 2008:

Dr. Abd Al-Hamid Al-'Ubeidi: There is no minimum marriage age for either men or women in Islamic law. The law in many countries permits girls to marry only from the age of 18. This is arbitrary legislation, not Islamic law. Why? Because there might be cases in which it is impossible to keep the girl [single] until the age of maturity.

For example, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Serbs killed many Albanian Muslims, and there are many mass graves there. [Muslim] families fled from that war, and so did small children, who were not yet at the age of marriage. But if a man takes such a girl in, he might desire her, and eventually commit a sin, even though his intentions were noble. So he can formally marry her, but without having sex with her. She will remain like that until she grows up, and then someone will ask to marry her, or he will find her a husband – this happens in many Islamic countries with girls from Bosnia-Herzegovina – and when he finds her a husband, he will divorce her, so that she can marry again. In such a case, there should be no waiting period. So there is no need for the girl to be of age.

Most of the time we act according to what is acceptable to most people, and indeed, most men do not marry a girl until she is of age. In some Islamic countries, the age of maturity can be 8 or 10 years. In Yemen, a girl might get her period at the age of 8. In cold countries, such as Russia, Belarus, Scandinavia, New Zealand, Canada, and so on, a girl might not reach maturity until she is 22 years old. She might not get her period until then. Therefore, the greatness of Islamic law is manifest in the fact that marriage is not just for pleasure. True, it is the basic objective for marriage, but there are some cases that require solutions.

[...]

Many criminals, the enemies of Islam, ask: "How could the Prophet Muhammad, at 52 years of age, marry 'Aisha when she was only 8 years old, and consummate the marriage when she was 9 years old?" I say to them: People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Why do you permit your young girls to fornicate? They consider it one of their liberties. Therefore, in these stupid countries, you rarely find girls aged 10 or 12 who are still virgins. They permit this. They have even legislated laws stating that if a girl is under the age of 18, and her girlfriend [sic] or whatever has had sex with her, she has the right to have an abortion. How can you permit the outcome without accepting the cause? Why do you allow your girls to have sex and say this is an individual liberty? It is okay to fornicate with girls there or force them to have sex, and so on, and they have the right to have an abortion. If you permit all this before the age [of 18], without a marriage contract and without any legal grounds – how come you forbid marriage?

That's easy - to stop creepy guys like him from marrying them!

PA "cuts salaries" of Gaza Al Aqsa Brigade terrorists

Firas Press (Arabic) reports that after much negotiation, PA prime minister Fayyad decided to "cut" the salaries of the Al Aqsa Brigades terrorists in Gaza.

The PA had offered to let them keep their salaries if they would promise not to shoot rockets at Israel and they rejected that offer.

This means, of course, that up until now the PA has been using western funds to pay salaries of terrorists in Gaza - for many months after the Hamas coup, when they had literally no jobs to do besides make and shoot rockets at Israeli children.

It also means that the PA continues, today, to pay known members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades in the West Bank with US and European tax dollars.

I've already shown that the bulk of the PA payroll goes towards Gaza, and Gazans get more than double per capita from the PA than the West Bank Arabs.

Given past experience, it is entirely possible that the PA will relent in the face of pressure and restore these salaries anyway. Some Western leaders will undoubtedly think that it is preferable for terrorists to be funded by the West via the PA than by Iran via Hamas.

And so it goes.

Peacekeeping, PalArab style (grim milestone watch!)

Ma'an Arabic reports on a clan clash that happened while the two families tried to reconcile:
Twowere killed and eight others injured, four of them seriously, when a reconciliation took place this afternoon to end a family quarrel in the ancient town of Kafr third, south of Qalqilya.

Eyewitnesses said that Kamal Kassim Mara'abe (45 years old) and Muhammad Qasim Mara'abe were killed this afternoon and injured eight others on the background of an old quarrel between the Mara'abe, Nahed families.

The eyewitnesses added that during the reconciliation between both families to end the dispute, the oldest members of the Nahed family attacked Mara'abe family members with guns, which led to two deaths and injuring eight others.
And the cycle of violence continues...

We have now reached a Grim Milestone as 50 Palestinian Arabs are known to have been violently killed by each other this year so far.

UPDATE: 3 dead, 12 wounded. 51.

UPDATE 2: The IDF may have stopped much worse bloodshed.

UPDATE 3: One of the victims was a 13-year old boy, shot in the head.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Today's Gaza news you won't see anywhere else

Hamas abducted two teachers in Khan Younis, suspected of Fatah activities

Hamas also arrested one of their own, suspected of spying for Israel

Hamas arrested three students in Khan Younis from a secondary school

It is reported that Hamas was searching cars to prevent the firing of rockets by Islamic Jihad towards Israel today.

Newsweek: Let's blame the non-Muslims for Muslim violence!

An unreal article by Christopher Dickey in Newsweek, who bends over backwards to minimize Muslim violence and to blame it all on stupid mistakes by non-Muslims who end up provoking the violence. With the equally unreal title:
Christian Rage and Muslim Moderation

Some lowlights:
If the satellite networks allow their lenses to zoom back from the book burners, they may discover there's no raging crowd there, just the usual collection of unemployed malcontents on any street in Karachi. And what is most important, we may find that the Muslims of this world are just as weary of this sorry spectacle—maybe even more so—than the Christian, Jewish and secular publics in the West.
We may, and we may not. His examples of Muslim moderation are an interesting combination of cherry-picking and wishful thinking.The Turkish government is "supporting theological scholarship intended to modernize—and moderate—traditional Islamic teachings." A single Lebanese Ayatollah is not openly calling for violence anymore. Saudi Arabia's king is acting against al-Qaeda-style terrorism. And then:
But even with many qualifications and reservations, in my view the conciliatory trends in Islam make an interesting contrast with renewed provocations coming out of Europe.

There's no use wasting much space on the Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders, the dyed blond with ugly roots who is promoting a film he says will prove his belief that "Islamic ideology is a retarded, dangerous one."
Yes, freedom of speech is such a nuisance sometimes.
....Danish cartoonists and editors previously unknown to the wider world garnered international attention when they published caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in 2005 that brought on bloody riots in several Muslim countries in 2006. Having sunk once again into obscurity, the editors decided to publish one of the cartoons again last month, reportedly after the arrest of an individual plotting to kill the cartoonist. Great idea. Take one man's alleged crime and respond with new insults to an entire faith.
What a wonderful use of sarcasm, Mr. Dickey! I especially like how you characterize the people who were murdered by the cartoon riots as being the victims of publicity-seeking cartoonists in Denmark. The fact that the riots were stoked by Muslim leaders - months after their initial publication - just don't fit your recollections of the events, so we will just ignore those inconvenient facts for now.
The most problematic event of late, however, was Pope Benedict's decision to baptize the Egyptian journalist Magdi Allam in Saint Peter's on the night before Easter, thus converting a famously self-hating Muslim into a self-loving Christian in the most high-profile setting possible. Perhaps Benedict really thought, as the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano opined, that the baptism was just a papal "gesture" to emphasize "in a gentle and clear way religious freedom." But I am not prepared to believe for a second, as some around the Vatican have hinted this week, that the Holy Father did not know who Allam was or how provocative this act would appear to Muslim scholars, including and especially those who are trying to foster interfaith dialogue.
What Dickey refuses to face up to is that even if the Pope's timing was provocative, it doesn't justify any violent reaction. Luckily, it didn't happen this time, but Dickey is justifying it before the fact. Ironically, the progressive Dickey is assuming that Muslims will act like animals and writes his column with that assumption in the forefront.

(h/t Global Freezing)

Israeli saving the world's birds

This is the sort of story that almost never gets told about Israel.

From Science Alert (Australia):
Each northern spring an awesome aerial torrent of 500 million birds pauses at a tiny fleck of a sanctuary at the tip of the Gulf of Aqaba, en route from the heart of Africa to the vastnesses of Europe and Asia.

Many birds have flown non-stop from the Central Highlands of Ethiopia, devouring their own muscle and intestines in the 40-hour flight. When they sink to rest at Eilat, in southernmost Israel, they are at the very limits of their endurance. Without this stopover on their ancient migratory path, most of the birds would never complete their journey. Food from its lakes and vegetation is vital to rebuilding their strength for an onward trek that, in some cases, bears them as far as Wales or the Bering Strait.

For 15 years a stoic, courageous and grittily determined Israeli ornithologist, Dr Reuven Yosef, has fought with all the means at his disposal to keep intact this remaining claw-hold on survival for the world’s dwindling migratory bird populations.

Flash floods, savage vandalism, a suicide bombing, landmines and relentless development are among the challenges he has faced in striving to hold open this everconstricting highway of the natural world. If it closes, ornithologists warn, a major route will be sundered and many of the 280 migratory bird species of Europe, Asia and Africa using it may vanish.

Dr Yosef ’s visionary International Birding and Research Centre, Eilat (IBRCE) gained worldwide recognition with an Associate Laureateship in the Rolex Awards for Enterprise. Developed from an old rubbish dump and lovingly restored to 64 hectares of lakes, wetlands, visitor facilities and natural vegetation to harbour birds, the Centre is today acknowledged as one of the world’s ornithological wonders, inspiring projects as far afield as Kenya, Tibet, China, Mongolia and North America.

...Gradually the dry salt marshes fringing the sea succumbed to a concrete plague of hotels, promenades, marinas and gaudy attractions. A strip of wasteland lying between the town and Jordanian border to the east, beneath the smoky thunder of low-flying passenger jets, became a rubbish tip. Nobody wanted it, except a keen-eyed Indian-born ornithologist, Reuven Yosef, who saw its pivotal significance to the wildlife of the planet.

...Wounded and invalided out of the army, he took up studies as an aspiring ornithologist at Ben Gurion University and then at Ohio State University in the US, carrying out field research at the Archbold Biological Station in Florida, famous for the study of migratory birds. While there, he was invited to set up a nature reserve near Eilat that would enhance the town’s appeal to visitors.

Yosef was delighted, both at the chance to help protect bird migration in a world where it faced growing pressures from human activity, but also at the opportunities for scholarship the site presented – sampling each year an astonishing cross-section of the world’s avifauna.

Of the 120 000 hectares of salt marshes that once sustained billions of birds on their migratory journey, only a few hundred remained. The land was poisoned by mining activities extending back almost 3000 years. The rest was a garbage dump, filled with heaven-knew-what. Raising money from friends and supporters, Yosef purchased 64 hectares, and with the help of local earthmoving contractors, effluent from the sewage works, fresh water from the local desalination plant and brackish water from the local saltworks set about creating several lakes – fresh and saline – and restoring vegetation.

Gradually the sanctuary became a welcoming haven to the exhausted airborne travellers, offering seeds and brine shrimp to nourish and restore them. With the birds came scholars from around the globe to study the unending avian throng, 100,000 visitors a year to witness one of Nature’s marvels and 60,000 wide-eyed schoolchildren to learn about a phenomenon that, without great care, their own children may never see.

Not only is he saving untold numbers of bird species, but he is helping Israel gain a hundred thousand bird-loving tourists annually.

The Mufti's Blue Eyes

Earlier this week I posted a link to a Time article from 1948 that parenthetically mentioned a number of blonde Palestinian Arab leaders.

It turns out that at least one's Aryan features helped cement his bond with Heinrich Himmler. From the March 28, 1948 Palestine Post:

Himmler understood then what most people stubbornly refuse to acknowledge today - the Arab enemy has always been Jews, not Zionism.

AFP's biased article of the day

Just the first paragraph tells you all you need to know:
JERUSALEM (AFP) — Amin al-Siyam says he is awakened nearly every night by the sound of Jewish settlers tunneling under his east Jerusalem house towards the Old City's deeply sensitive Al-Aqsa mosque compound.
Settlers are digging tunnels, willy-nilly, under the Old City? Only at night? Are they building apartments to live in?

Well, later in the article, if you parse it correctly, you can see that it is the Israel Antiquities Authority who are unearthing a 2000-year old tunnel, not "settlers:"
The Silwan project has aroused similar suspicions, in part because people are not allowed to see the tunnel, but primarily because the work is being funded by the Ir David Foundation, an Israeli settler group.
Here are the aims of Ir David:
The Ir David Foundation is committed to continuing King David’s legacy and strengthening Israel’s current and historic connection to Jerusalem through four key initiatives: archaeological excavation, tourism development, residential revitalization and educational programming.
To dismiss that all into just calling it "a settler group" is more than dishonest - it reeks of bias.
Meir Margalit, a spokesman for the Israeli Committee Against Housing Demolitions, says "the problem is not the archaeological digging, it is the agenda of the people who are behind the digging."

He and other Israeli activists fear that sensitive projects like Silwan, if left in the hands of right-wing groups, could one day be used to detonate the Middle East peace process.

"For a long time this has been a problematic issue, but now it is a dangerous issue," Margalit says.

Quoting someone from the ICAHD to talk about archaeology only proves that the main people with an agenda are those opposed to associating anything Jewish with Jerusalem. Similarly:
Yoni Mizrachi, an Israeli archaeologist critical of Ir David, says IAA reliance on it for funding ties them to its agenda.

"They need the money, and they are not just doing this for the benefit of archaeology," Mizrachi says. "It's one of the few sites operated by private organisations and it is the only one run by a right-wing organisation."

So to these critics, the existence of Jewish archaeological treasures are better not found at all, rather than being funded by "right wing" organizations. There's commitment to science and knowledge for you.

But perhaps the most dishonest part of this entire article is the picture used to illustrate it. Captioned "File photo shows a trench being dug as part of an archaeological dig in the Al-Aqsa mosque compound," it is simple a lie. No archaeological digs have taken place in the "Al Aqsa mosque compound" since before 1948. It in fact shows a trench that was not being dug by archaeologists but by the Wakf on the Temple Mount - with backhoes! - which destroyed untold numbers of priceless treasures. Every criticism that the article levels against the Jews digging to unearth history is refuted by that episode - the IAA didn't stop the illegal Muslim dig proving that if it has any bias it is against Jewish sensibilities; and the Temple Mount is infinitely more politically and religiously sensitive than Ir David/Silwan.

Giving money to real archaeologists to do their job seems much less problematic than having them stand by and allow the wholesale desecration of the world's most sensitive real estate.

This article shows that the AFP has no interest in truth or accuracy - it simply parrots anti-Jewish positions without any real reporting.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

That old black magic

From the Saudi Gazette:
Education authorities in Bisha are investigating accusations a father made against the principal of his daughter’s school, saying she threatened students with black magic.
The parent, Fayez Al-Shahrani, accused the principal of claiming that one of the students, who is 23 years old, is possessed by a genie and that she uses the student to terrorize the others.
Al-Shahrani added that the student banged the head of his 16-year old daughter into a wall, causing her physical and psychological harm.
A school where 23-year old women and 16-year old girls study together? And where the principal threatens girls with black magic?

There was another genie/fairy (=Djinn) story in Firas Press, one which I really tried to understand in autotranslation but failed. If someone knows Arabic, please translate this for me:
Advisory opinion on the use of fairy

The Mufti of Nablus province said in a statement issued in Dar Al / Nablus concerning the question of creation and ANSA JANA prevention and privacy, and the total came Fataawa Ibn Taymiyah 1 / 181 (and the creatures in question originally forbidden, but to take the necessary) have Del on the right say that the Almighty God and: (Eyak worship and Eyak draw) chapeau 5, and telling the Prophet: (If enlisted Fight God).
Has shown that it is permissible to use the texts in Palance is possible to the meaning: (and help one another in righteousness and piety do not help one another in sin and aggression) Round 2. The remainder use Jinn on the prohibition, because this section of dissension, as it is known on the issue of lying, jinn prepare them and contact them full of guilty until proven innocent.
The Mufti of Nablus Reacting to what happened recently to claim some people using fairy treatment and surgery admit that this matter is that it was actually not be religiously, and that this is an issue related to the subject Metaphysical This is not evidence of APPROVAL, said that scientists They say: ((that the request for the mother's name is a sign of the Magician Juggler as agreed among them)), and stressed that the use of fairy in any order of things people today is religiously incompatible with the doctrine ballots.

Weeds, part 2

As a followup to my first Weeds post:

I just found another book showing a large number of photographs of Jerusalem and the rest of the Holy Land, these from 1904. Called "The Cruise of the Eight Hundred to and Through Palestine: Glimpses of Bible Lands" it is a pictorial recounting of a trip of 800 Sunday School teachers to Palestine.

It is fully downloadable in PDF format, as was the book I referred to yesterday.

Here again is a scene of the Dome of the Rock, from a different angle, showing the steps to go into it (click to enlarge):

Again, notice the huge number of weeds, even on the steps. Notice also what is not in the picture - people.

In contrast, once again, here is a similar photograph of the Western Wall of the Temple from the same book:
No weeds, lots of people. And the descriptions of the Wall in all of these books are similar, as the writers are struck by the heartfelt sadness that the praying people felt for the destruction of the Temple.

The book includes hundreds of photographs and is a lot of fun to browse through.

Hate crimes against Jews underreported in NYC

From Northeast Intelligence Report (h/t JammieWearingFool):
By Douglas J. Hagmann, Director

25 March 2008: A source inside the Manhattan District Attorney’s office admitted to me during a telephone conversation yesterday that “hate crimes,” specifically those occurring against Jews, are frequently omitted from such classification. Meanwhile, acts that victimize Muslims, regardless of their motivation, are usually reported as "hate crimes." Consequently, crimes against Jews and other religions fail to garner the same media focus as crimes against Muslims and skew the figures used to track criminal motives. Although this is not a new phenomenon, it has recently been accentuated by the incident that took place on a New York subway last week.

At about 6:20 last Tuesday, March 18, 2008, 25 year-old Uria Ohana, a rabbinical assistant, was assaulted by three Muslim men inside the subway station at Fourth Avenue and Ninth Street in Park Slope. As Ohana proceeded through the turnstile, 18 year-old Ali Hussein grabbed Uria Ohana’s yarmulke from his head; Ohana gave chase, and was assaulted by Hussein’s accomplices who were shouting “Alla hu Akbar” - Arabic for “God is great.” The chase ended when Hussein was struck by a vehicle as he ran onto Fourth Avenue. Hussein’s friends abandoned him at the scene, fleeing in a late model GMC Suburban.

The incident received very little media attention, and the motive was not initially recorded as a bias or “hate crime.” "This happens frequently,” admitted this source, adding that the pressure from Muslim special interest groups is much greater than from other similar organizations. “It seems that there is a far greater propensity for law enforcement to recognize and classify crimes against Muslims as motivated by religious bias, and there more pressure from watch dog groups to insure that crimes against Muslims are immediately classified as having their origins in religious bias. What it does is that it skews the actual numbers,” added this source.

He also stated that since 9/11, law enforcement officials have acquiesced to the pressure and demands by Islamic special interest groups to treat most crimes against Muslims as "religiously motivated," even in the absence of any proof. Acts such as graffiti randomly sprayed on a mosque, for example, is classified as a "hate crime." It does not matter that the mosque might be one of several buildings in a specific area that has been tagged or sprayed by vandals. "We are compelled to classify such acts as having a religiously motivated bias, despite evidence that would indicate otherwise. Ordinarily, people would not think it is such a big deal. But when you have many such incidents, it obviously has a significant impact on criminal statistics. It definitely skews them."

Even with this skewing, Jews are far more likely to be the victims of official hate crimes than Muslims, despite the amount of whining by CAIR.

Arab summit a failure before it begins

From Monsters and Critics:
A deep inter-Arab rift over Lebanon's political standoff has hit the upcoming summit of Arab heads of state hosted by Syria, with leaders of Saudi Arabia and Egypt staying away and lebanon boycotting it.

Yet the Syrians are pretending the non-attendance is not uncommon, and saying the Lebanese absentees are missing a 'golden chance.'

But the absence of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Egyptian President Hosny Mubarak, two regional heavyweights, masks irreconcilable differences with Syria over Lebanon.

... Adding to the climate of tension overshadowing the Arab meeting, Saudi Arabia's envoy to the Arab League Ahmed Katan, who will represent it there, predicted the summit was doomed to failure.

'How can a summit be successful while some parties are trying to undermine it and circumvent its decisions,' Katan told the Saudi daily Okaz.

'Resolutions are made but some countries are obstructing them,' Katan said.

The Saudi official was hinting at Syria, which is blamed for blocking the implementation of a plan adopted by members of the Arab League to resolve the political crisis in Lebanon.

It is not uncommon for Arab leaders not to turn up at summits, but they usually send representatives. Lebanon's total boycott, however, is the first of its kind by the country, which is of one of the founding members of the Arab League.

.... The acrimonious Arab exchanges preceding the meeting might have been behind the decision of the Arab League and Syria to keep all its sessions closed to the media.

The failure of a pre-summit meeting of permanent representatives at the Arab League to reach draft resolutions on the Lebanese crisis and inter-Arab ties does not augur well for the summit.
Pan-Arabism is deader than ever.

Ten Qassams so far today

As of 10:12 PM Israel time, ten Qassams have been shot into Israel from Gaza so far today, the highest number in two weeks.

Yet I cannot find any newspaper articles anywhere talking about this. Nothing about the rockets being a "threat to the calm" or "endangering the tacit cease-fire" or anything like that. In fact, I have yet to find anyone who even added the numbers for today up (you can see the individual Qassam reports on the YNet Updates page - three attacks of two rockets each in the morning, three more attacks in the afternoon.)

Some "calm."

UPDATE: 17.

International Federation of Journalists admits its pro-PalArab bias

In a press release condemning Hamas for restricting press freedom, the International Federation of Journalists states:
“This intimidation and political bullying of journalists does great damage to the Palestinian cause,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “It undermines efforts of journalists throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip to work together to build a unified media movement in favour of stability and democratic development.”
So the major reason to push for more press freedoms in Gaza isn't to help inform the world about truth, but rather to further the "Palestinian cause."

Can you imagine a statement from any international agency professing support for the "Zionist cause" the way that these supposedly objective journalists explicitly support the "Palestinian cause?"

Apparently, press freedom is only important when it goes towards issues that the press supports. In 2002, the union gently chided Palestinian Arab journalists for unilaterally deciding not to take pictures of Palestinian Arab children with weapons - because those pictures were being used by some people to show PalArab depravity. No condemnation, just a statement that "We understand the deep frustration that journalists feel about those who try to manipulate the media message, but journalists need more freedom to do their job in Palestine, not less."

The subtext is that of course it is the journalists who decide what is important and which should be highlighted - and which ignored. They choose the message and they aren't thrilled with those who "manipulate" it.

The IFJ claims to represent over 500,000 journalists in 110 countries. It includes members from the US - four unions are members - as well as Israel.

Today's peaceful Gaza news

So far today, six Qassams were fired from Gaza into Israel, but at least one of them landed near Gaza's Beit Lahia, seriously injuring a 65-year old man.

A leader of the Army of Islam in Gaza was abducted by Hamas two days ago, tortured and killed.

Egyptian president Mubarak was revealed to have referred to Rafah a few weeks ago as "Egypt's border with Iran."

The International Federation of Journalists condemned Hamas for intimidating journalists and restricting freedom of the press.

Gaza bakeries went on strike today, demanding to be able to raise the price of bread.

The 2006 Palestinian Arab self-death count has risen to 46.

UPDATE: Two more terrorist bodies were found from a tunnel collapse last week. 48.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The second-most hated people in the Middle East

The most hated people in the Middle East? That's easy.

But who comes in at #2?

It is, hands down, the Iraqis of Palestinian origin.

Saddam Hussein gave huge privileges to Palestinian Arabs (short of citizenship, of course.) He gave them subsidized housing, forcing Iraqi landlords to charge less for Palestinian Iraqis. When Saddam fell, jealous Iraqi landlords started evicting them - and worse. Many were killed and blamed for terror attacks.

Hundreds fled Iraq, but found that none of their Arab brethren had any interest in taking them in. They have been stuck in real refugee camps - not the towns that the UNRWA runs in Jordan and the territories that it calls "refugee camps" - on the Iraqi borders with Jordan and Syria. And for years, the UNHCR has been trying to find countries to take them in.

Arab countries - even those that accepted thousands of other Iraqi refugees - refused to take the Palestinian Iraqis.

Yet, in 2006, when Canada offered to take a few dozen of the Palestinian Iraqis as refugees, both Hamas and the PA complained to the UNHCR, not wanting them to leave the area - preferrring that they stay in miserable conditions.

The reason? As an Arabic Falasteen editorial said, it is because happy Palestinian Arabs don't support their idea of "unity" - once they go to the West they have little interest in "returning" to the place where their Arab brethren can treat them like dirt:
We have warned and others in more than one location and an article about the dangers to be dissipating refugee diaspora Palestinians, since this will negatively impact on the fabric of their unity and their syndicated in the areas of asylum...these will lead to migration to other European countries and therefore as a result of this disruption to the bloc refugees in Lebanon and the resulting in the end of the negative impact on their right to return to their homes and property.
Today, the situation is similar:
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today warned that the situation of the more than 2,700 Palestinians who have been stranded and are living in inhumane conditions in two camps on the Iraqi-Syrian border continues to deteriorate.

“Over the past 22 months, UNHCR has been calling for urgent humanitarian solutions for this group and – even if only temporary – relocation elsewhere, preferably in the Arab region,” the agency’s spokesperson Ron Redmond said at a press briefing in Geneva.

In 2006, Canada received 64 Palestinians from Iraq, while last year, Brazil accepted 107. Recently, Chile, which itself was once a refugee-producing country, offered to resettle an initial group of 117 Palestinians, who are expected to leave Iraq for the South American nation in April.

Additionally, Sudan has extended an offer to accept 2,000 Palestinians, and UNHCR and Palestinian representatives are currently working to finalize a plan to allow the operation to take place.

The agency welcomed these responses from third countries, but reminded countries that there is a further need to help in dealing with acute cases.
So whenever you hear people from Saudi Arabia or Jordan or Syria or Egypt or Kuwait or any other Arab state complain about how terribly Israel treats the Palestinian Arabs, ask them politely what exactly they have done for this group of less than 3000 refugees - who can be easily absorbed by any Arab country. Ask the oil-rich states how much money they contribute for the upkeep of these camps. Ask them whether they would allow temporary visas or work permits to this group of their beloved Palestinian brethren.

And then ask them why not.

"Bomb voyage" - Lebanese girl panics at SMS, plane emptied

From AFP:
A Beirut-to-Paris flight was grounded today after a passenger who had left her boyfriend behind said she feared he might have put a bomb in her luggage to keep her from leaving.

"The girl, Katia Salha, was either in love with this guy called Hussein Mughnieh, or they were engaged, and as the plane was taxiing to the runway she got an anonymous message on her phone telling her that he wished her bon voyage," a security official said.

"She got scared and she alerted a hostess that she feared her boyfriend might have left a bomb in her luggage."

An airport official said the pilot of the Air France flight taxied back to the gate for the plane to be searched.

It is curious that a woman would want a boyfriend who she suspects would want to kill her and a couple of hundred other people.

March Qassam Calendar

As usual, this is far from complete, and it is more to show how ignored the Qassam issue is rather than to show how many are being fired. Many Qassams never make it in the news, and the rare times that the IDF publishes statistics shows that I am usually undercounting by about 50% (although that number os probably less in recent months.) Also, these are Qassams that don't make it to Israel; many that are fired explode in Gaza itself (March 10 and 30th are examples.)

This list does not include mortars being shot from Gaza, which are usually much more numerous on any given day. It also does not count the occasional rocket from Lebanon. It does count Grad rockets from Gaza.

March

Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa






1






48
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
40
17
10
12
9
1
1
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
1

1
13
28
4

16 17 18 19 20 21 22
2
1
3
2
1
3
2
23
24 25 26 27 28 29

4
3
17 3
3
1
30 31




0*
2





230 total

Previous calendars:

February 2008
January
December 2007

November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February

The funniest anti-semite of the week

Hamas' Al-Aqsa TV has brought us a real winner in the shape of Wael Al-Zarad. Check out the video courtesy of MEMRI and then let's look at his words:
In short, these are the Jews. As Muslims, our blood vengeance against them will only subside with their annihilation, Allah willing, because they tried to kill our Prophet several times.
Hmmm...all Jews deserve to die because they supposedly tried to kill someone many centuries ago. Sounds familiar, but I cant quite put my finger on it...
What should we do with these people? What is the best solution for them? Should it be by shamelessly bestowing kisses, regardless of our religion and our morals, on satellite TV and in clear view of the whole world?
I hope you aren't drinking something when hearing this dud talk about "morality."
Should it be through futile meetings, which are usually conducted on carpets red with the blood of martyrs?
I like the imagery, personally. It seems logical that peace will only occur after the terrorists are dead.
Or should it be through an exchange of despicable smiles and ugly handshakes?
I guess that this sounds better in Arabic.

What is the best solution for these people, who have perpetrated every possible thing against us?
Every possible thing? This guy doesn't have much of an imagination, does he?
They have turned our mosques into pubs and bars, where they drink alcohol and get women drunk.
Which is, of course, more immoral than advocating genocide from those same mosques.(The next time I'm in Israel, someone please tell me where to find a bar in a converted mosque, because I'll make a special trip there, to get a woman drunk.)
From the dome of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, they proclaim that Ezra the Scribe is the son of God.
Say what? I must thank Robert Spencer for mentioning that this is in the Koran, because such a weird claim deserves a source.
By Allah, people, the Jews do not deserve such a fuss. They do not deserve to be feared. The Jews are not a terrorizing bogeyman. The Jews are nothing but human scum, who came as scattered gangs to occupy our land.
Of course, if these human scum managed to defeat the mighty armies of Allah, that doesn't say much for those armies, does it?
By Allah, if each and every Arab spat on them, they would drown in Arab spit. By Allah, if each and every Muslim spat on them, they would drown in saliva. By Allah, if the Arabs and Muslims turned into flies, the Jews would die from their buzzing.
And yet, when they actually try to fight those pathetic Jews and get defeated, they whine to the infidels at the UN that it wasn't a fair fight! Once again making one wonder - if the Jews are so pathetically weak and frail, what does that make the Arabs who run away from them so easily?
Therefore, my dear brothers, the Jews do not deserve to be feared so much. Therefore, I ask with pain and sorrow: Isn't there a single reasonable man in any of the Arab air forces? Isn't there a single reasonable man among them, who will break through these aerial borders, and bomb the Jews deep in their own land? Where are all the Arabs and Muslims?
This is my favorite part - this genocidal maniac, frothing at the mouth with his hatred of all things Jewish, himself admits that the Jews are living in their own land!

Rockets? What rockets?

Snapped Shot points to this beauty from Reuters:

Israeli army officers stand in front of the remains of rockets, fired by Palestinian militants in Gaza, during a military briefing at the police station in the southern town of Sderot March 25, 2008. REUTERS/Yiorgos Karahalis (ISRAEL)


Is it just me or is this picture framed to highlight something other than hundreds of Palestinian Arab rockets that have been shot towards Jewish civilians?

Nah, I'm sure that the Israeli policeman just happened to walk in front of the cameraman at the precise moment that he snapped the picture.

Gaza news you won't hear anywhere else

On Sunday, Hamas militias attacked the Egyptian embassy in Gaza City. The embassy officially moved to Ramallah but it still seemed to maintain a skeletal presence in Gaza. According to Palestine Press Agency, Hamas assualted a guard and ransacked the building, taking down the Egyptian flag.

100 truckfuls of food entered Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing, including 10 trucks from Egypt.

Israel also sent some 61,000 animal vaccines to Gaza and is coordinating their distribution and the analysis of blood samples.

Hamas abducted more Fatah officers in Gaza.

Weeds

In 1901, Dwight L. Elmendorf set out to visit Palestine and document it with photographs (his "only weapon," as he put it.) He published the pictures in a 1912 book called "A Camera Crusade Through the Holy Land."

The photographs are quite good, but two are of particular interest.

The first is of the "Mosque of Omar," the Dome of the Rock:
And another is of the "Wailing Place of the Jews":
Notice the huge amount of weeds poking through the stones in the "third holiest place in Islam." It is desolate, and it looks like it was rarely visited.

Compare the floor of the Temple Mount - where Jews wouldn't visit because of its holiness - with the smooth floor in front of the Kotel.

In 1901, it was clear which people venerated Jerusalem and which people ignored it.