This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Another PA Boycott

Imagine, Tony Blair, the special rapporteur for the Middle East Quartet is in bad odour with the Palestinian Authority. Who believe him to be rather too sympathetic to Israeli interests. However would they arrive at that consensus of opinion? They're threatening to take action that will effectively neutralize him; neuter him at the very least, giving his 'special envoy' status a heave into the garbage dump.

"There is no one within the Palestinian leadership that supports or likes or trusts Tony Blair, particularly because of the very dangerous role he played during our UN bid", said one Palestinian official. "He is considered persona non grata in Palestine. Although we can't prevent him from coming here, we can hopefully minimize the role he can play because he is not a mediator. He is totally biased on one side."

Could've fooled the Israelis, methinks. He does have rather impeccable credentials, nonetheless. There's his wife Cherie and her leftist enthusiasms, and her sister, Lauren Booth, who was inspired to become a Muslim; surely their influence has canted his bias toward the Palestinians...?

Let's face it, Mr. Blair was quietly going about doing his job to the best of his abilities. He didn't shout from the rooftops: "Give the Palestinians their State!" because it might have seemed rather at odds with his mandate on behalf of the Quartet. His mission was to bring Israel and the Palestinian Authority to the negotiating table.

To prod them to find enough common ground to reach an agreement whereby each country would, through some form of sacrifice in abandoning some aspirational goal for the greater good of peace between them, find a peace agreement within reach. And with that agreement signed, sealed and delivered, progression to a Palestinian State.

Which state would continue to be reliant for a goodly portion of its economic success on ongoing placid relations with its neighbour. Receiving much of its energy resources through a compliant Israel, and trade opportunities, as well as the sharing of security, and guidance in best practises of all sorts, inclusive of social services, education, manufacturing, and the judiciary.

That's the pie-in-the-sky aspect of the situation, reflecting what the world at large feels should be happening, and which the PA has put the skids on. Removing themselves from the peace process in an orchestrated huff over something that has offered them a way out of an arrangement they are not fully invested in.

After over 60 years of being 'refugees', hugely dependent on the generosity of the international community for their ongoing financial support, the Palestinians still refuse to acknowledge to themselves that their drive to destroy Israel by whatever means possible; either violent revenge, or malicious reputation-bashing, will not gain them what they most wish for.

And that is, of course, to go back in time, to that era when they felt they were the inheritors of the land that was contested by Egypt and Jordan and eyed by others in the region as well. When Israel pulled the rug out from under their assurance of being masters of the geography the choice to divide the land simply wasn't a palatable option for them. Nor for their Arab neighbours.

That's all water under the dam, but the damn dam keeps bursting.

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An Affront To Islam

"He has frequently denied the prophethood of the great prophet of Islam and the rule of the sacred religion of Islam. And he has proven his apostasy by organizing evangelistic meetings and inviting others to Christianity, establishing a house church, baptizing people, expressing his faith for others and denying Islamic values."
This is how an argument for a death sentence is expressed. The denial of Islamic values becomes grounds for meting out death to apostates. What are Islamic values? After all, isn't Jesus Christ accepted in the pantheon of Islamic historical figures of great respect? Did not Islam come to being through a synthesis of Judaism and Christianity? Is not Islam part of the "Abrahamic" Faith?

How can it conceivably be possible, even remotely logical, that the wellspring of Islam is a predecessor religion that is deemed to be respected because it is part of that Abrahamic faith, yet it becomes a deadly sin punishable by a death sentence to leave Islam and embrace Christianity? How is it possible that such a life-denial can be construed as a "value"?

Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani is a devout Christian and has been since the age of 19, although he was born a Muslim, in his country of Iran. He is a member of a Protestant evangelical church, and he refuses to abandon his faith in Christianity. "Repent means to return. What should I return to? to the blasphemy that I had before my faith in Christ?"

That statement alone qualifies him for death. He is to be put to death; this is what sharia law offers the unrepentant apostate; and Pastor Nadarkhani is scheduled to "be executed by being hung until somehow his soul is taken from him". This is the judgement put forward at a hearing in his place of residence in Iran, Rasht, on the shores of the Caspian Sea.

The court has ordered Mr. Nadarkhani to "return to the religion of your ancestors - Islam", and he responded by saying "I cannot". The Supreme Court of Iran finds this unacceptable. It is also unacceptable to Iran that 100,000 Christians are resident in the country, along with 350,000 Baha'i. These insults to Islam corrupt and derange the Iranian population of 78 million.

They are an affront to Islam. A religion which its faithful claim to be one of peace. Apostasy and evangelizing Muslims are both capital offences deserving of the death penalty. Pastor Nadarkhani's wife was originally sentenced to life imprisonment, but was released on appeal.

Islam is much misunderstood. That is, of course, the fault of those indulging in Islamophobia.

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Bad Brand/Pakistan

Once again the world sees Pakistan facing another catastrophic flood. The country that chose to build their own nuclear infrastructure and produce fissionable material to become the only Muslim nation to have nuclear bombs because of its incendiary hatred of India, has also chosen to leave their vulnerable flood-prone populations to their own devices.

Work might have been advanced on ameliorative defences against flood potential, but the plight of millions of Pakistanis came in a distant third to the imperative seen by the administration of President Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who was voted into power on the strength of his food aid promises to the indigent of Pakistan. Nonetheless, Pakistanis take great pride in their nuclear 'strength'.

And now, once again, another flooding disaster, under the watch of Bhutto's son-in-law, even as those who were impacted by last year's floods still have not been assisted by their government busy with so many other vital matters, like strengthening their military, buying up new arms with U.S. funding; effectively diverting funding that should be going to safety infrastructure, instead to Islamist militants.

Last year the international community responded generously to the plight of Pakistan's flood refugees. this year, the monsoon rains have killed 430 people and impacted on the lives of nine million people, left to camp out in the open, desperate for food, water and shelter. This year the international community has not been responding to open appeals by the International Red Cross and the United Nations for direly-needed assistance.

Pakistan's unenviable reputation as a haven for terrorists, its training camps and madrassas that turn out jihadis versed in the chapters of the Koran that inspire to violent jihad, has won it few friends. Its hosting of the Afghan Taliban and their great good friends, al-Qaeda, its ongoing squabbles with allies with whom it insists it struggles to contain terror, has diminished its reputation to the point of no return.

The September 13 attack on the U.S. embassy in Kabul, conducted by the Haqqani network, supported by Pakistan's military and the ISI, have finally, on top of the covert and successful raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad put the nail in the coffin of trust - which was, in any event, misplaced - between Pakistan and western donors.

That the poor people of Pakistan are left to fend helplessly for themselves, with little international aid forthcoming and the government of Pakistan itself doing little-to-nothing, is simply the ill fortune of the disadvantaged in an unfair world.

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Show Up, To Vote

There they go again, squawking about the unfairness of it all. Although it is a bit of a puzzle. The fact that the major Canadian political parties all vie for the Jewish vote. Knowing that in doing so in a very public manner they will alienate a lot of other votes.

The number of Jews in Canada is only one-third that of the Muslim population, for example, and while the Muslim population is steadily growing in numbers both through natural birth and immigration, the Jewish population is slowly declining in numbers (by the same criteria in reverse).

The popularity of gaining the Jewish vote through involvement in affairs that impact tangentially on Canadian Jews seems, therefore, peculiar under those circumstances.

Jews have been a part of Canada for longer than Muslims in any significant numbers, and have managed to attain some influence, as a result, and perhaps that partially answers the question. An inter-parliamentary committee of which there are many within Parliament, called the Canada-Israel Friendship Group has raised partisan ire.

These associations are considered generally to be non-partisan in nature, with memberships from across the political spectrum as both general and executive committee members. Parliamentarians arrived on Parliament Hill recently to elect a new executive committee for this particular group.

Instructively, given the current Conservative-led government's active support of Israel, between 50 and 60 Conservatives came out, while only three Liberals managed to find their way, and no NDP MPs whatever could find the time or the inclination to vie for a spot. Little surprise then, that a secret ballot resulted in six Conservatives being elected to the executive committee.

"If you take a quick look at the elected people, you might be forgiven for thinking that only Conservatives care about Canada-Israel relations", observed Mark Garneau, Liberal House leader, sourly. Neither he nor Caroline Bennett, both of whom had placed their names on the ballot, won seats.

"I was quite surprised by this juggernaut approach to taking over 100% of the executive positions on what is supposed to be a parliamentary friendship group", the famously outspoken Ms. Bennett complained. On the other hand, and more to the point, wouldn't anyone with a teaspoon of intelligence be able to predict just that outcome given the attendance?

"It was a free vote. Everybody had an opportunity to participate. (but) they have to show up to vote."

No kidding, fellas.

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Saudi Munificence

There exist within Canada Muslim schools which Saudi Arabia has generously funded. Saudi Arabia does lovely things like that; using its vast wealth to advance learning. Of course, it is not just Canada that is so generously endowed by Saudi altruism. It is also most of Europe where huge migrating Muslim populations have settled. And it is also the United States of America.

One should not overlook the fact that madrassas, as they are called, where young Muslim boys are indoctrinated into the finer points of Koranic precepts and law in the only language which has the sublime right to the Koran, Arabic, exist first and foremost, in Muslim countries. Muslim countries, that is, as diverse as Pakistan and Indonesia, for example.

Indonesia, using an example, is a most populous country, in fact the most populous Muslim country in the world. It has also been historically an open society, respectful of other religions, ethnic groups, that kind of open-mindedness. So it is interesting to note that Saudi Arabian generosity has been witnessed there with some degree of skepticism. Some might term it hostility.

Which might appear to be mightily ungrateful. After all, here is Saudi Arabia, willing to share its wealth through the publishing and dissemination of badly-needed school texts. Free! If any country might be responsible to be helpful in teaching young minds about Islam, it seems right that it be Saudi Arabia, since that country is, after all, the steward of the holiest sites in Islam.

And Saudi Arabia takes its responsibilities to the world of Islam seriously indeed. Just as it is serious about the brand of Islam that it adheres to, promotes and shares.

Yet that ingrate, Abdurrahman Wahid, in 2005, as then-president of Indonesia wrote of the danger of Saudi ideology, claiming it to be responsible for a "well-financed, multifaceted global movement that operates like a juggernaut in much of the developing world, and even among immigrant Muslim communities in the West".

Oh my, whatever would bring Mr. Wahid to that unkind conclusion? Anyone curious enough to find out on their own can do so by seeking online information where the texts are posted at the official Saudi Education site. As, for example, the following excerpts from school texts exported from Saudi Arabia to international destinations:
  • A grade 8 text: "The Apes are the people of the Sabbath, the Jews; the Swine are the infidels of the communion of Jesus, the Christians";
  • Lesson for Grade 8 class: As an exercise, students can spend time listing "Jews' condemnable qualities";
  • A Grade 10 text regarding abominable The Protocols of the Elders of Zion from 19th Century Czarist Russia: "These are secret decisions that aim at achieving domination of the world. They were exposed in the 19th Century and the Jews have tried to deny them, but evidence exists to prove their validity and their reproduction by the Elders of Zion";
  • For Grade 11: "Baha'ism: is one of the most destructive esoteric sects in the modern age".
The Saudis had promised to undertake to reform their school texts four years ago, and to "eliminate all passages that disparage or promote hatred toward any religion or religious groups". They simply haven't got around to it. It's a busy kingdom, after all, serving all those clients in other Muslim countries, and stressing the Wahaabist ideology of violent jihad in the struggle for Islamist domination.

A reminder of Saudi Arabia's perfidious position as an honoured 'friend' of the United States proven so adequately when fifteen of the 19 9/11 suicide-attack 'martyrs' were of Saudi origin is timely. Which is precisely one of the items that Nina Shea, director of the Washington-based Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom pointed out.
"Because of the Saudis' great oil wealth, it is able to disseminate its textbooks far and wide", she wrote in her report, Ten Years On. "These textbooks are posted on the Saudi Education Ministry's website and are shipped and distributed free by a vast Saudi-sponsored Sunni infrastructure to many Muslim schools, mosques and libraries throughout the world.

"This is not just hate mongering, it's promoting violence." Nina Shea

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Dividing Jerusalem

Wailing Wall (series) -12

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept when we remembered Zion.
We hung our harps upon the willows in the midst of it.
For there those who carried us away captive asked of us a song, and those plundered us requested mirth, saying, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!"
How shall we sing the Lord's song in a foreign land?
If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill!
If I do not remember you, let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth-- if I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy.
Remember, O Lord, against the sons of Edom the day of Jerusalem, who said, "Raze it, raze it, to its very foundation!"
O daughter of Babylon, who are to be destroyed, happy the one who repays you as you have served us!
Happy the one who takes and dashes your little ones against the rock!

Whose sacred city is this if not that of the ancient Israelites handed down through posterity to the nation of the Jews who inherited it? Next Year In Jerusalem, that ancient yearning for return has become reality, the re-establishment of a Jewish nation in a Jewish country as a Jewish state was achieved in the dark shadow of mass Jewish annihilation. The return to Zion was accomplished.

Now Zionism is held in scorn by the international community, claimed within the United Nations to be apartheid in nature, racially discriminatory, criminally bigoted, unsupportable. Those who have newly charged that Zionism is equated with racism have found a receptive audience world wide among others who are only too engaged in general agreement fostering anti-Semitism.

The scourge that will not die. Where once it was Europeans that promoted anti-Semitism for useful deployment in blaming Jews for all the ills that afflicted Europe, now it is the Muslim/Arab community that has found great use in the hateful slander. The ancient city of the Jews now is held to be the rightful inheritance of Palestinian Arabs. Not just any part of Jerusalem but the Old City where stands the most holy relic of Judaism's past.

When Jordan took 'possession' of the Old City of Jerusalem, it was made Judenrein, no Jews were permitted to remain there or to enter its confines, or to worship at the Temple Mount; the Wailing Wall. When Jordan saw fit to attack the State of Israel yet again, and lost, Israel took re-possession of the Old City, and with it Judaism's most sacred holy place.

Three thousand years of possession retained; yet the city's international legal position remains in bitter dispute.

"Gilo is not a settlement nor an outpost. It is a neighbourhood in the very heart of Jerusalem about five minutes from the centre of town", explained Mark Regev, a spokesman for the Netanyahu government, in response to the declarations of concern by the international community in the wake of news of the planned construction of a thousand new homes on annexed land.

Claims that peace talks would be further compromised ring out.

What peace talks? Would those be the intermittent and always-failed talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and its predecessor, both of whom always managed to find fault with any and all concessions, however painful that Israel offered? Each of those peace plans that were proffered included an intact Jerusalem, inclusive of Gilo, as Israel's prime possession.

U.S. Secretary of State Clinton insists new settlement building to be "counter-productive". The question is, counter-productive to what, exactly? First off, Gilo is not a settlement, and an extension of needed housing that is being planned for the area, irrespective of the Palestinian Authority's insistence that this area must be considered as a future capital of a Palestinian state.

The Palestinians have a capital city and it is called Ramallah. The Jews have a capital city as well and it has always been, from antiquity to the present - except for the 16 years when it was under Jordanian domination, Jerusalem. Indivisible. The pre-condition that Mahmoud Abbas has declared for resumption of peace talks is an entirely new invention, one that earlier such talks were never predicated upon.
"As the navel is set in the centre of the human body,
so is the land of Israel the navel of the world...
situated in the centre of the world,
and Jerusalem in the centre of the land of Israel,
and the sanctuary in the centre of Jerusalem,
and the holy place in the centre of the sanctuary,
and the ark in the centre of the holy place,
and the foundation stone before the holy place,
because from it the world was founded."
The dire insistence on immediately halting settlements before peace talks may once again resume, assumes that those peace talks could conceivably conclude with a reasonable settlement satisfactory to each of the protagonists. In the mind of the Palestinians nothing the Jewish State could offer would be grounds for peace. In the mind of the State of Israel, past offers however conciliatory and sincere, have been futile.

A studied look at the history of the area of the past 70 years by an observant and open mind could only conclude that the differences between the two antagonist-protagonists are irreconcilable. Even when a desperate effort is put forward to conclude a peace treaty, the other side withdraws, while declaring it is that side which has invested an effort to be at fault.

A little-observed fact that Jordan was invested as a 'country' where none had been before, and in the process took up the major portion of the land dedicated to the Palestinians is simply overlooked. There, in Jordan, is Palestine.

As for Gaza, Egypt may reclaim it, and best of wishes.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The World's Newest Nation

It was only a matter of time. Not very much time, at that. Any onlooker might have predicted that it would come to this, and worse. In fact, it never stopped; it's just now in the process of escalating, and escalating to the point of no return. The bloodshed that Sudan saw in its civil war in which two million people died, and which the long-awaited partition vote resulting in the creation and UN acknowledgement of the country of South Sudan, will soon be re-visited.

Squabbling and violence between the north and the south never really ceased. It was land, of course, and the use of the land, the nomadic sheep-herders versus the traditional farmers. It was territory of course, that the north did not wish to surrender to the south. Above all, it was oil wealth that complicated the issue beyond measure. The threats that ominously emanated from the north to the south did not, however, deter the people of the south from claiming their autonomy.

But even though the two countries are now separate, and they are, for all intents and purposes, irreconcilable, there are other areas of Sudan that pose a challenge to the domination of the government in Khartoum. It is an area of the world where tribalism, clan warfare, religious strife and ethnicity all conspire to continue the war footing.

The Islamic government that rules Sudan and which violated the human rights of its black African farmers in Darfur, by mass deportation, mass rape, mass murder is set to repeat the crimes that the International Criminal Court found its president, Omar al-Bashir guilty of: genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

2010_Sudan_<span class=Bashir.jpg">

Al Bashir is contemptuous of the charges and has refused the court's summons to appear before it. He has the support of all the Islamic countries of the Middle East and Africa. He will not be held to account, to stand before any elements of the West representing the international community and he is free to continue his oppression, exploitation, human rights abuses, and war against Black Sudanese.

The Arab/Muslim dominated north is free to and will continue to dominate the non-Muslim, African-populated south. Sudan's military, with its bombers, fighter jets, ground troops, armoured personnel carriers, battle tanks and artillery is prepared to mount their offensive against the ill-equipped people of the south.

Assaults against various southern regions of the country are ongoing to drive out the rebels battling the Muslim forces. Hundreds of thousands of people have fled the areas under attack, some crossing over into Ethiopia as refugees. As for the new nation of South Sudan, UN agencies point out a chronic food shortage, a refugee problem, and security problems.

Stressed additionally by inter-communal conflicts that are so common in Africa with battles over tribal entitlements, land, animals, access to water, a famine situation is emerging where a third of the population is said to be "moderately or severely food insecure".

Not a very auspicious coming-out for the world's newest nation.

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Cost-Bleeding Bilingualism

The problem of escalating municipal costs being faced by most cities in Canada and the need to re-adjust budgets and priorities are being visited everywhere. In the capital of Canada's one officially bilingual province, the taxpayers are facing, like taxpayers everywhere, the options of having their taxes raised and/or looking hard again at some services to determine their cost-effectiveness and necessity.

Fredericton is like the federal government in respect of its official status on bilingualism. Committed to providing information in the language of choice to its residents. Equal representation. Respect of each of the two founding languages and cultures. And the cost burden of ensuring that the letter of the law is continued weighted against the benefit seems rather askew and even absurd.

New Brunswick's Official Languages Act requires municipalities to produce all official business in both languages; by-laws, agendas, minutes of meetings must be translated. Fredericton City Council meets every two weeks and for those meetings, regardless of how long they take, two translators must be present in case someone in the audience requests an oral translation.

$1,214.75 is the price-tag for each of those meetings for the two-translator services who sit through the meetings whether or not anyone requests meeting translations. "They have been there since 2003 and I only recall using the headset once. Once in eight years", mused a councillor. The entire translation effort costs Fredericton $281,000 annually.

Francophones represent roughly 7% of the population in the Fredericton area.

"It's not an attack on the French-language people in our city. It is a cost-cutting idea and times are tough all over. This seems like an easy fix and is common sense", said the councillor who is recommending a change in routine. That anyone desirous of having translation done at a meeting inform the city in advance, filling out a form. Which would enable the city to bring in a translator for that particular event.

Effectively precluding the need to have two translators on hand every other day at meetings just in case someone might wish to have the meeting translated. "From my experience on council, that's seven-plus years, I really haven't seen the translation devices used very often, perhaps ever", explained yet another councillor.

Typically, as soon as the discussion aired in public, there were complaints. And the councillor who put forward the idea for intelligently reasonable change and the resulting saving to the taxpayer through cost-cutting has now been informed that she may now expect more francophone residents will be requesting the use of the translation service.

That brilliant cost-saving measure will doubtless be abandoned. In fear-bondage to manipulated offence.

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Chicago of the North

The problem truly exists. It is even more troubling than we had thought, and organized crime has made itself at home.

"Of course we have to nab the crooks who are bleeding us dry, but we also need continuous action on a system that is constantly rebuilding itself. A public commission of inquiry is the only way to reassure the public and to correct problems that have become structural.

"For a lot of people, colluding, defrauding the government, increasing prices and shoving aside the competition, that's just the way business is done. Trying to prove it is an enormous burden." Jacques Duchesneau
Premier Jean Charest is vocal and confident in denying that there could conceivably be any government collusion in public institutions and big crime, in the Province of Quebec. Yes, it is unfortunate that criminal gangs have infiltrated the construction industry, but what has that to do with government? What it signifies is that crime has got a toehold in the province, and the police should be working harder to diminish their influence.

Government itself is unassailable for its honesty. It has only the welfare of the province, of its people, the taxpayers, at heart. It is nothing but scandalous that anyone could conflate the government with the working of organized crime. Government agencies and the province's elected politicians are beyond suspicion; corruption lies in the imagination of fevered minds prepared to see fault where they will.

There is not, however, complete consensus on this. Speaking before a committee of the National Assembly, former Montreal police chief Jacques Duchesneau, head of Quebec's anti-collusion squad, testified otherwise. The very individual whom Premier Charest had tasked to look into collusion in the highway construction industry has concluded that the very worst-case crime-and-politico-suspicion is justified.

"Organized crime is not simply a problem of public order. It is an economic and social phenomenon that has penetrated all of society, including the procedures in place at the Transport Department. Our investigators have understood well. Organized crime is not simply a parasite but a true state actor. Ultimately it is we, the taxpayer, who end up with the bill." Jacques Duchesneau
The bill spikes the construction industry, giving kick-backs to the election campaigns of provincial politicians, while enriching the coffers of the crooks who have taken administrative possession of the construction and transportation industry in the province. And the violence that occurs from time to time represents another aspect of challenges to law and order. Crime is violent, an affront to civil society, a threat and a palpable danger.
"It's not the little drug trafficker who is now pulling all the strings in organized crime. They are businessmen who try to give themselves a certain nobility in taking up all kinds of causes, and you all, each and every one of you, are inevitably going to see them at your party fundraising activities, whether you want it or not ... They are vultures who are going to try to get close to you, in every party."
Quebec is not yet Mexico.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Martyrdom-Prone Jihadis

Saddam Hussein, though he boasted that he had the capability to be eminently destructive to those who opposed him, did not actually possess weapons of mass destruction. The United Nations had been treated to an expose of Saddam Hussein's diabolical plans by George W. Bush's administration when Colin Powell, against his better judgement, was dispatched to lecture on the hypothesis-turned-reality that there were moving caravans of nuclear materials and laboratories full of deadly pathogens floating through the desert on wheels, undetected.

The plan was, obviously, to give the American public the indelible impression that Saddam Hussein, that truly mendaciously evil man, had intentions beyond mass slaughter through conventional means, but that he posed a dire and direct danger to America itself, however improbable that might seem. If not America itself, then its European allies, and American troops stationed in the Middle East, who must be protected at all costs. Those costs would include an invasion of Iraq, to rescue Iraqis from the tyranny of evil.

An invasion which, with America's reliable (and gullible) allies, would take no time at all, to sort things out and set things to rights. Above all, Iraq would become the Arab world's first real and true democracy thanks to American temporary oversight, introducing that country to the delights of freedom and opportunities never before imagined. The new world of republican democracy teaching the old world of antique regency how to suck eggs big time. Which set the stage for a grand display of atrocities as one Islamic sect set upon the other, settling old scores.

But that's Iraq. Now, in Libya, the discovery of a number of casually neglected sites that represent military stockpiles of uranium offer another story. Another country, another ruthless and dedicated purveyor of terror and mayhem, erstwhile ally-cum-enemy. This is the Middle East and North Africa, after all, Arab and Muslim countries for whom yesterday is as near and dear as today, and old animosities and tribal vengeance are as vibrant and necessary as the air breathed there.

Niger yellowcake meant to be maintained under a regimen of strict security lest it and its deadly potential for refinement into nuclear-weapons-grade be accomplished, simply left to moulder and seethe. Causing, according to the newly-alerted tribeal Bedouin living nearby, any number of dreadful birth defects in the babies born in the general vicinity.

Iran might have been amenable to taking the yellowcake off Moammar Gadhafi's hands after he assured Western nations that he no longer harboured the ambition to become a nuclear state.

And of course, al-Qaeda affiliates would have been more than a trifle interested, even eager to acquire it as well, for their fledgling ambition also to become nuclear-armed. Whether some of the depots were discovered for what they contained, and whether they were depleted of their stock may yet to be determined. Discovered, however, were some ten thousand drums with a total capacity of two million litres rather carelessly stored, the barrels rusting.

The IAEA has been alerted and is in the process of arranging for those depots to be safeguarded in their desert dumps. Presumably, it is unknown where the blueprints for developing nuclear weapons obtained from the estimable and ever-so-accommodating A.Q. Khan might be located. These are irritating little details that may or may not be sorted out in days to come. The public may or may not hear further on the subject.

Weapons of mass destruction? Presumably lethal gases and deadly disease pathogens fall into that category, should the means for delivery be secured; in some cases poisoning municipal water systems would do quite well; one such was a source of the Black Plague that historically decimated Europe on several occasions, after all. Such scourges occur naturally from time to time, but there's no gainsaying that diabolical plans to deliberately impose such horrors could not succeed.

And of course, the ultimate achievement, the procuring of nuclear warheads to tip ballistic missiles. Now there's a wet dream for the growing community of dedicated martyrdom-prone jihadis.

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Canada's Principles

Outspokenly courageous in a place without honour. How else to characterize the speech delivered by Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird? How many others have expressed themselves as frankly? For the most part government representatives to the United Nations seek to obey the unspoken rules of harmony within that body, accepting without question what the majority declares.

Free democracies representing enlightened populations do not represent the majority at the United Nations.

Who might ever have imagined that it would be Canada that would take the plunge and separate itself from the majority of Western countries for whom sitting on the fence represents the most acceptable policy of non-committal, to express indignation and denounce the ongoing and by-now familiarly predicable litany of accusations against one single country that accounts for more slights and slanders than the entire UN body-membership.

Including China in his denunciation of offences against human rights highlighting the right to freely practise one's religion without fear of government interference and state-imposed alternatives is yet another courageous stand. In light of the obvious, that China is a hugely productive and influential country with whom the whole world strives to achieve a remunerative trading partnership.

"Canada will not accept or stay silent while the Jewish state is attacked for defending its territory and its citizens. The Second World War taught us all the tragic price of going along just to get along", he reminded the body.

A useful reminder in light of the fact that it was the unspeakable atrocity of the Holocaust that forced the world to examine itself a little more closely, and to admit to itself a certain level of responsibility for the fairly successful extinguishing of six million lives in the effort to demolish the entire Jewish population of Europe.

Had the Thousand-Year Reich been victorious in its quest for world domination, that Final Solution would have been extended to encompass the rest of the world, where concentration camps and accompanying slave-work camps, and the inevitable death camps would have proliferated until the final job was accomplished, ridding the world of Jews, Gypsies, Homosexuals, political dissidents.

In point of fact, there are governments who express dismay that the job was not completed, that Jews lived to see another day, and that the diaspora in its agony, understood that only a country of its own would suffice to protect its people from the destiny that Jew-haters sought to impose upon them. Countries like Iran are enabled to have their representative speak to the General Assembly obliquely of another Holocaust.

John Baird's address emphasizing Canada's acceptance of a duty to help protect the persecuted whether they are Christian minorities in Iran, Iraq and Egypt, or Muslims in Burma, or "Roman Catholic priests and other Christian clergy, and their laity, driven to worship underground in China", represent decent common sense.

It represented a speech that one would expect to come from a representative of the United States, as a country with similar concerns, but which has seen fit of late to be less confrontational and positive about these matters within the UN.

It serves no practical purpose to be modest and discreet about such declarations. There is an immutability about justice and honour and the intrinsic right of every person to experience freedom, denied them in their home countries because they are ruled by despots and thugs. There is no need to evince an air of tolerance and respect toward such intolerant and human-rights-abusing countries as those that pose as a danger to their own populations and the world at large.

Yet many of those brutal regimes are welcomed to speak in the most demeaning, insulting terms of enlightened liberal democracies, and those human-rights-abusing dictatorships are enabled to assume positions of influence on the world stage through various United Nations committees such as the Human Rights Committee, making a mockery of justice and truth. And it was to these regimes that Minister Baird spoke directly.

Bringing into the discussion also those governments who know better, but who remain unwilling to represent themselves as critical of the abusers, for fear of bringing attention to themselves, for fear of being cast as 'friendly' toward Israel and the United States, for fear of being shut out of trade opportunities and energy sources to keep their industries alive.

"The greatest enemies of the United Nations are those who quietly undermine its principles and, even worse, those who sit idly watching its slow decline. We cannot sit idly."
"In the defence of freedom and human rights, form cannot prevail over substance. While multilateral action should be preferred, failure to achieve consensus must not prevent the willing from acting to uphold human rights and the founding principles of the United Nations." John Baird
The $60,000 question, however is, can the United Nations be saved from itself?

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Keeping Questionable Company

"The Ontario Ministry of Finance has looked at this situation from left, from right, from up, from down. They're conscious of how much debt has gotten piled on. They're going to be trying to get the message across that something has to change."

Ontario represents "a jurisdiction that has just not even mentally started to come to grips with the problem. Ontario isn't Greece by a long shot, but time isn't really on our side."
William Robson
Ontario simply doesn't have its house in order. There are multiple reasons, there always are. An inefficient, incapable government to begin with. The inevitable impact on the economy dependent on trade and manufacturing connections with its largest trading partner suffering an economic slowdown of huge proportions. Some things are outside the control of government, many things are not, and the current Liberal-led government of Dalton McGuinty has made some unfortunate decisions that have impacted deleteriously on the province.

When Dalton McGuinty came to power eight years ago, promising no new taxes, the net provincial debt was considered to be high but manageable. It was under $139-billion. Eight years later it is over $240-billion and it is alarming financial experts who see it accelerating to reach $285-billion in two more years. That, in the space of ten years, represents a doubling of the provincial debt. This does not represent good fiscal management on the part of the government on behalf of the taxpayers of the province who elected D. McGuinty.

Including the provincial share of the federal debt the burden for taxpayers represents close to 72% of the gross domestic product for Ontario. For international comparisons that brings us alongside Ireland, Spain and France. We hear much of the parlous state of California's financial situation and can't quite believe it when we hear that the state may not be able to pay its workers in key public institutions from time to time.

How's this for perspective; every Ontarian, thanks to Premier McGuinty's fumbling waste and poor decision-making, effectively owes over $18,000 to the province's creditors. It is entirely possible that continuing on this trajectory Ontario's credit rating may be downgraded. If that should occur, the province will be forced to pay a much, much higher rate of interest on its debt. Interest on the debt already cost us $9.7-billion for 1010-11.

Our budget deficits are endangering our fiscal future and that of our grandchildren. "Neither Dalton McGuinty nor Tim Hudak nor anyone has talked realistically to Ontarians about what needs to happen in order to make sure our children, when they;'re our age, will be in a situation that will be economically or politically tolerable", advised William Robson, C.D. Howe Institute CEO.

So how're you voting on October 6th? See many tempting choices? Do we have a voice of common sense anywhere in the mess we've landed ourselves in?

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On Suspicion of Espionage? Hardly

American hiker freed by Iran has Israeli father

Jacob Fattal, Josh Fattal's father, immigrated to Israel from Basra, Iraq in 1951, beginning in a transit camp with his family, later moving to Pardes Katz; after his military service, he left for the United States.

By Rutie Zuta

For more than two years, relatives of Josh Fattal, one of the two American hikers freed from prison in Iran last week, managed to hide a vital piece of information from his captors: Fattal's family is Israeli.

Jacob Fattal, Josh's father, immigrated to Israel from Basra, Iraq in 1951. He lived with his parents and siblings in the Kiryat Ono transit camp, and later in Pardes Katz. After his military service, he left for the United States, where he studied engineering and raised a family. Today, he is the publisher of a high-tech magazine distributed in the United States, Europe and Asia.

Iran students - Reuters - September 24, 2011

Shane Bauer (L), Josh Fattal (C) and Sarah Shourd, U.S. hikers who were held in Iran on charges of espionage, wave before boarding a flight back home in Muscat September 24, 2011.

Photo by: Reuters

"We're very happy; it's the greatest gift we could have dreamed of receiving for Rosh Hashanah," Jacob Fattal told Haaretz yesterday.

Jacob's two sisters and his brother, who live in Israel's central region, knew about the arrest from the first day.

"The problem was their being American, not Jewish," Fattal said of the freed hikers. "The Iranians used them as a political weapon for two years."

To avoid drawing attention to the family's background, Josh's brother and mother led the campaign to free him, while Jacob refrained from giving media interviews.

"I want to thank the media in the United States and Israel for cooperating with us," Fattal said.

Now that his son is back home in a Philadelphia suburb, Fattal can contact the family of another Israeli captive.

"I listen to Israeli radio here and every now and then I hear Aviva Shalit talk," he said, referring to the mother of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. "I wanted very much to call her and encourage her, tell her my heart is with her and [her husband] Noam, but I stopped myself because we were making a special effort not to make a big deal of it. Now I can talk to her."

Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, both 28, and Bauer's girlfriend Sarah Shourd, 32, were arrested by Iranian soldiers in 2009 as they were hiking near the unmarked border between Iran and Iraq. Shourd was released about a year ago following heavy international pressure. Fattal and Bauer were freed last week on $1 million bail, following mediation by Sultan Qaboos of Oman.

As published online at Haaretz.com, 27 September 2011

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Monday, September 26, 2011

He Has A Vision

Whoops, Saudi Arabian oil is on the verge of becoming respectably acceptable. Before we know it, say in five years or so, it will be 'ethical oil'. For look here, King Abdullah has been so stung by criticism from the international community on the plight of Saudi women's utter lack of civil liberties and rights that should append to the individual, that he has taken the initiative to launch an inevitable (perhaps) alteration in the situation.

He is prepared to advantage Saudi women. Finally. To offer them the opportunity to almost be as free in the country as men are. They may, from the next election, seek to take municipal office. They may seek to have a voice. They will have to wait, of course, since King Abdullah did specify that this change will, if it proceeds, take place only from the next term. At which time much will change for women in Saudi Arabia.
"Women will be able to run as candidates in the municipal election and will even have the right to vote". King Abdullah
Women in Saudi Arabia must be beside themselves with expectant glee. They will even have the right to vote. Can they take that to the bank? Might it be possible too that women in Saudi Arabia may eventually have the option of dressing without an all-enveloping tent? In public, that is. That they may make, eventually, choices for themselves like normal people? Say, for example, appearing in public unescorted by a man?

Saudi women are grateful beyond words. Almost: "This is a huge step forward. On the Shura Council the women will be highly visible. People wills see them talking. It will be much more powerful", said one women's rights activists, seeing pearls where pebbles have been tossed. Of course her enthusiastic expectations will have a lapse in time before becoming reality; she must wait four years.

It is in 2015 that this wonderful news of Saudi female emancipation may take place. Still, this is the kind of response that has been elicited from Saudi women, poor things:
"Friends have called me, crying, still not believing it. This is the first time Saudi women will be part of the decision-making. Of course conservatives will criticize the King but he has a vision. Soon we may see the first female minister."

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The Darkest Place

Photo by Reuters

Hail the returning conqueror. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, having plead the case for the poor, abject Palestinians within the forum of the United Nations, is welcomed home a hero. It was balm to his wounded soul to be the subject of all that anxious grovelling on the part of the United States, the European Union and others all inspired to make an additional effort to sway him from his objective.

Objective? Why to continue the track the PA has found so successful to date. Urging the international community to view the Palestinians as wronged, dreadfully wronged, and the State of Israel and the Jews therein - and elsewhere wherever they taint the geography - as fiendishly racist, merciless occupiers determined to refuse justice for the Palestinians.

Highly successful a public relations move, too. Inspiring those sanctimonious Jew-baiters on the left who have managed to proclaim themselves as spiritually high-minded and practically progressive, to champion the plight of the Palestinians and in revenge take steps to slander, embarrass, challenge and delegitimize Israel.

That it was the Palestinians who in 2000 and 2008, when offered their demands in exchange for peace, spurned the final offers appears totally irrelevant. Mahmoud Abbas stood in that great Hall of Shame and Blame and spouted the nonsense that it was Israel, time and again that had shut down the peace talks, not the Palestinian Authority.

Never before during talks was it demanded that settlement abandonment be the primary requisite for talk-resumption. That elusive resumption of talks must hinge on something that presents as unachievable is now a given; if it is not the settlements, it is the right of return, if it is not the right of return it is the status of Jerusalem for it is Israel alone that must sacrifice; Palestinians are entitled.

The Prime Minister of Israel, a skilled diplomat who had once frequented as an ambassador the very halls and assemblies he now addressed, sought to put perspective and balance into the discussion, while acknowledging that neither were a recognizable commodity in discussing the place of the State of Israel within the confines of the United Nations.
‘Remember that even in the darkest place the light of a single candle can be seen far and wide.’ Today I hope that the light of truth will shine, if only for a few minutes, in a hall that for too long has been a place of darkness for my country.”
Mr. Netanyahu made his own appeal:
"I came here to speak the truth. The truth is that Israel wants peace. The truth is that I want peace. The truth is that in the Middle East, at all times but especially during these turbulent days, peace must be anchored in security. The truth is that we cannot achieve peace through UN resolutions, but only through direct negotiations between the parties. The truth is that so far the Palestinians have refused to negotiate. The truth is that Israel wants peace with a Palestinian state, but the Palestinians want a state without peace. And the truth is you shouldn't let that happen."
What Mr. Netanyahu has allowed to slip his mind is that truth is an inconvenience, a deterrence, an irrelevance, an absurd delirium and an obstacle within the United Nations. Truth may be absolute, like reality, but the reality and the truth that prevails in the United Nations is quite unlike what is recognized outside of its confines.

A total perversion of recognizable truth and reality is what takes place within the United Nations. For from its noble inception it has undergone an inconceivable alteration, a total corruption of responsibility and integrity, honesty and reliability. Look for truth there if you will. Prepare not to be taken unaware.

Prepare to witness expedience's stranglehold on truth, aided and abetted by group interests by bodies whose interests are totally and explicably inimical to truth.

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Political Disputes

Interesting what is revealed that is suspected to have occurred. Wikileaks has certainly gone far in its capacity to elucidate details through its publication of many 'leaked' documents. Embarrassment for public officials and their governments obviously rank very high indeed in the raison d'etre of Wikileaks' formidably reason-resistant founder.

Here is the news that a cable from the American embassy in Mali is critical of the Government of Canada: "paying ransom will only make citizens of the ransom-paying nations targets of future hostage taking attempts". Well, yes. Governments are all in agreement that none should succumb to paying ransom to terrorists for the release of their nationals.

In this particular instance two Canadian diplomats who were doing work for the United Nations appear to have gone off on a private tangent in North Africa where they were captured and abducted by members of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Robert Fowler and Louis Guay, the two distinguished gentlemen. Who, after 130 days of being held captive, were released, along with a few others.

Obviously not a good-will gesture on the part of their captors. Obviously not released for no quid pro quo, since the purpose of their abduction was to acquire some advantage; the release of some of their AQIM members from prison, or the payment of a substantial amount of money - to help further the cause. Both, it would seem, on this occasion, procured their freedom.

The Government of Canada, needless to say, takes umbrage at the very suggestion it would resort to breaking an international vow not to advantage terrorists by giving them what they seek. Someone, of course, paid the ransom. A friend of Canada from within the international community. Wikileaks is not, evidently, in possession of a document that would reveal solid fact, apart from speculation.

So the two Canadians returned to Canada. Enabling Robert Fowler to spew venom upon the Conservative-led government of Stephen Harper. Who, if he truly did see it as necessary to rescue abducted Canadians, may very well feel that, having done his duty to them, he might have thought a trifle deeper in hindsight about managing to rescue the two while abandoning the principle of not enabling terrorists' agenda.

There's just something about Westerners who fault their own countries and feel a sense of admiration and brotherhood with those countries who harbour or encourage terrorism. Admiring the courage of the people living under repression and the stranglehold of endemic poverty, lack of justice and freedom. Their affinity for those places affords them no protection.

They are, withal, forgiving. Fowler, while excoriating his own government, has nothing but praise for Africa. And the two American hikers just released from Evin prison in Iran? Two (three with their female companion, earlier released) innocent American youth, hiking on the border between Iran and Iraq and imprisoned as Big Satan's spies? Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal could protest all they wanted that they were not spies, Iran knew otherwise.

Who do the two young men blame in their heart of hearts for their long incarceration as 'hostages' of the Islamist Republic of Iran? Why of course, the United States of America. "The irony is that Sarah, Josh and I oppose U.S. policies towards Iran which perpetuate this hostility", Arabic-speaking Shane Bauer explained.
"The only explanation for our prolonged detention is the 32 years of mutual hostility between America and Iran. We were convicted of espionage because we are Americans. It's that simple".
That simple. Quite. And, of course, it was not the United States government that undertook to free the two young men from their mind-impoverishing imprisonment. It was the Gulf State of Oman that handed over a cool one million $ to Iran, as "bail".
"It was clear to us from the very beginning that we were hostages. This is the most accurate term because, despite certain knowledge of our innocence, Iran has always tied our case to its political disputes with the U.S."
Those boys certainly know their history, do they not?

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Drama King

He's had his shining moment, with huge applause for the dramatic content of his impassioned, carefully choreographed Dance With Destiny. Posing as a responsible, prepared, independent government-in-waiting, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has presented the United Nations' general body with his anguished plea on behalf of the world's longest-reigning, most-internationally-assisted people, the ill-done-by Palestinians.

The strategy, to pull the rug out from under Israel's expectation that the PA will eventually behave in a state-mature manner and sincerely seek the peace it has successfully evaded for over 60 years in the belief that it would eventually succeed in pulling statehood legitimacy out from under the State of Israel, enabling it to recapture, even by default, (since violent militancy didn't work), what they believe to be rightfully theirs.

Repeated efforts by outside parties, most particularly various presidents at various times of the United States, to bring the Palestinians and the Israelis to agreement on peace parameters have failed. The Palestinians insist that it is their right to expect preconditions to apply. None, obviously, may apply for Israel. The Right of Return, Jerusalem, and borders afflict the process. If Israel surrenders to those demands there will be no Israel. Precisely.

The Palestinians see fit to surrender none of their expectations to practicality. They will not, under duress, or any consideration, acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state. The anticipated 'return' of six million Palestinians in lieu of the 540,000 that fled in 1948, not taking into account the 600,000 Jews expelled from Arab countries, whom no international agency stepped forward to help to secure their forfeited possessions represents a dreadfully askew picture of self-entitlement.

In his speech to an adoringly-receptive audience at the United Nations, Abbas spewed a blame-filled tirade against Israel, accepting no responsibility whatever for the Palestinians who had turned down the opportunity of forming their own state immediately on Partition, and who sought instead, repeatedly, to enlist the assistance of their Arab brethren in rousting Israel violently from its perch.

Israel, he insisted, was responsible for consistently evading each and every opportunity to reach a peace agreement. When in a forum that eats hypocrisy for breakfast, evades responsibility for lunch, blames others for all the ills they have themselves brought upon themselves for dinner, he was in the right setting. Israel's popularity as a pariah state with no standing, no respect, the victim of slander and reproach is unparalleled in that august body.

Nowhere did Abbas acknowledge that he has been personally responsible for ensuring that an invidious aura of 'resistance' equated with violent bloodshed continues to prevail. Nowhere does he state that he and Fatah celebrate the terrorists who inflict suicide-murder on Jews, as blessed martyrs. Nowhere does he happen to mention that school textbooks and curricula paint Jews as dangerous, threatening oppressors to be defeated, and that the future State of Palestine consumes the current State of Israel.

On those several occasions when Israel finally accepted most of the Palestinian demands, it was not Israel that pulled back from the brink of a peace agreement, but the Palestinian negotiators. On the first occasion it was Yasser Arafat, fearing the reaction of his own PLO militant wing, who snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

On the second occasion, when Mahmoud Abbas himself made the ultimate decision to turn down the opportunity to reach an accord when his demands had been accepted by former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, it was obvious that nothing would appease the insatiable need for the Palestinians to own all of the territory, bar none.

His bid on behalf of the Palestinians at the United Nations is beyond unrealistic. The Palestinian Authority is utterly dependent upon Israel's goodwill for its electricity, water and gas. And for trade opportunities. More Palestinians were employed in Israel, making better wages, than the PA can make available to them with their current economy sustained by international welfare.

The encouragement to violence by the PA to the Palestinians laid the groundwork for the importation of foreign workers from abroad to take the place of Palestinian workers in Israel.
Construction work on the detested West Bank settlements gainfully employs Palestinian workers who have no opportunity to work elsewhere profitably in the West Bank.

Fatah and Hamas have incendiarily hateful relations with one another; one rules in the West Bank the other in Gaza; how will the Palestinians profit from a state that includes one, precludes the other?

Are these inconvenient truths of no interest whatever to the nations who will vote in the General Assembly?

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The Failure Of The United Nations

"This is why our government has lost faith in the Durban process ... We will not support an agenda that exculpates undemocratic and oppressive regimes or glosses over violence against Jews and Israel." Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, Government of Canada
Clear-sighted and conscience in full display, the Government of Canada has stated its stance, unpleasing to many, but without prevaricating, demonstrating that it fully understands the perverse double standard that exists within the United Nations and its creature committees.

When countries like Lebanon, where the terrorist militia Hezbollah holds the country to ransom and has become an effective government, or Libya and Iran, which have demonstrated their credentials as sponsors of terrorism, and repressive Cuba can all hold meaningful seats of authority and from their perches point a collective finger of denunciation toward one single country that offends much of the world because it is Jewish it becomes abundantly clear that something is dreadfully awry.

The United Nations is dominated by these country-cliques that have made their own pernicious pact with setting one ethnic, religious group aside for ongoing, deliberate and vicious persecution. Mr. Kenney simply pointed out the obvious, the odious fact that the "world's most notorious human rights violators" have gained the podium within the United Nations and they are intent on attacking primarily the United States and Israel.

The nations of the world that were once, centuries earlier, colonized by more socially and economically advanced countries that held them as outposts signifying their power and status in the world of that time, while draining those countries of their wealth in natural resources, have turned the United Nations into a modern-day forum of scalding disdain for their historic oppressors and continue to launch ongoing demands for reparations.

Reparations, for the most part, have been ongoing for the past century, with the wealthy countries of the world extending their influence, their practical assistance, and their treasury in a concerted effort to bring developing countries into a state of self-actualization advancing toward good self-governance and budding economies. Where once, however, the colonizing countries raped the undeveloped countries of their wealth, it is now their rulers and their governments that have undertaken that invidious task.

Typically, such governments who violate their own peoples' human rights and shut off opportunities for their people to access education, medical treatment and full employment, highlight these problems as not emanating from their own corrupt practises, but as themselves as ongoing victims of the decadent, grasping Western nations who refuse to account for their past plundering of resources, and continue their predations to the present day; effectively making claims that bear no resemblance to reality.

That elusively treacherous unwillingness to face reality, to continue to grovel in the obnoxious stench of racism, while claiming to be defending the world against racism in all its forms, has become the true face of the United Nations. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has been busy tasking her investigators to inspect the human rights obligations of countries whose constitutions protect human rights, while ignoring those countries whose state institutions blatantly violate human rights.

She has expressed shock and disbelief that Canada and some other western democracies have chosen to boycott the infamous Human Rights Commission's various "Durban" inquests singling out Israel as a human-rights abusing, Apartheid state. "It's hard to imagine a better example of the upside-down world of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights", Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said on behalf of his country during his speech at the Perils of Global Intolerance conference, set up to oppose Durban III.

The unctuously sanctimonious attitude of the UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights belies the reality of Durban II's triumvirate of Libya, Iran and Cuba chairing the event. While the Durban III conference celebrated the original Durban's 2001 statement titled Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, which called for reparations and compensation, but failed to address the corrupt regimes that supported the call, and slandered Israel as a racist Zionist entity, the alternate conference became an antidote to the failure of the UN.

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Acknowledging A Reality

Spain recognizes Israel as Jewish homeland, for first time

FM Jimenez's UN speech is particularly dramatic since Spain is considered a leading EU country to support Palestinian rights.

By Barak Ravid Tags: Palestinians Palestinian state

Spain’s Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez presented a new policy for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on Saturday, declaring Israel as the homeland of the Jews for the first time and saying that the issue of Palestinian refugees should be solved in such a way that it does not compromise Israel’s current demographic makeup of a Jewish majority.

Jimenez’s speech before the United Nations General Assembly is particularly dramatic in light of the fact that Spain is considered the leading EU country to support Palestinian rights. Adopting such a pro-Israel stance may lead to other countries to follow suit.

Spanish FM

Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez meeting with President Shimon Peres, Jerusalem, February 8, 2011.

Photo by: AP

The foreign minister stressed Spain’s commitment to Israel “as the embodiment of the project to create a homeland for the Jewish people.” She recounted how since Israel’s inception, it has suffered through many wars and terrorism against its people, adding that Israel’s security is a top priority for Spain.

Jimenez called for the establishment of a Palestinian state along 1967 lines, with agreed swaps and Jerusalem as a shared capital with Israel.

“The security of Israel and Palestine will require effective guarantees in the future peace agreement, including a possible international participation, should the parties request it,” the Spanish foreign minister said. She made clear that the best way to achieve such a deal would be through a negotiated peace treaty.

The Spanish foreign minister also addressed “the painful drama of the Palestinian refugees”, presenting a new policy on this issue as well. She said that the refugee problem should be justly agreed upon by both Israel and the Palestinians, while still preserving Israel’s character as a Jewish state.

Jimenez said that Spain supports the General Assembly granting Palestine the status of a non member observer state, explaining that the international community must show that it is committed to the creation of an independent Palestinian state.

“Effective, sustainable peace can only be achieved through negotiations between the parties,” she stressed, clarifying that “Spain believes that the Palestinians could find in this new status a stimulus for the prompt resumption of negotiations.”

She also warned that this new status should not be abused or used in a way that is incompatible with the spirit of negotiations.

Jimenez recounted Spain’s longstanding support for the Palestinians’ struggle against the occupation; however, she also emphasized Spain and the Jewish people’s centuries-long relationship.

“Spain’s identity cannot be understood without her Arab and Jewish heritage,” she added.

As published online at Haaretz.com, 25 September 2011

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Speaking To A House of Many Lies

Netanyahu to Abbas: Let's Just Negotiate Peace!
by Elad Benari, Canada Netanyahu to Abbas: Let's Just Negotiate Peace!


Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addressed the United Nations General Assembly on Friday, just a short time after Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas officially submitted his bid for membership of a Palestinian state in the world body.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addressed the United Nations General Assembly on Friday, just a short time after Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas officially submitted his bid for membership of a Palestinian state in the world body.

Netanyahu began by saying that he extends his hand to peace to all the surrounding nations, including Egypt, Jordan and Turkey with whom relations have been rough lately, and also to Libya, Tunisia, Syria, Lebanon, and Iran.

“But most especially I extend my hand to the Palestinian people with whom we seek a just and lasting peace,” Netanyahu said.

He spoke of Israel’s hope for peace which never wanes, and reminded the audience of all the good things Israel has, such as doctors, scientists, innovators who work to improve the work of tomorrow, and its artists and writers who “enrich the heritage of humanity.”

Netanyahu added, “I know that this is not exactly the image of Israel that is often portrayed in this hall. After all, it was here in 1975 that the age-old yearning of my people to restore our national life in our ancient biblical homeland was branded shamefully as racism. It was here in 1980 that the historic peace agreement between Israel and Egypt wasn’t praised. It was denounced. And it’s here, year after year, that Israel is unjustly singled out for condemnation. It’s singled out for condemnation more often than all the nations of the world combined.”

Netanyahu said that “this is an unfortunate part of the UN institution. It doesn’t only cast Israel as the villain it often casts real villains in leading role. Qaddafi’s Libya chaired the UN Commission on Human Rights. Saddam’s Iraq headed the UN Committee on Disarmament.”

“You might say that’s the past,” he added, “but here’s what’s happening now: Hizbullah-controlled Lebanon now presides over the UN Security Council. This means in effect that a terror organization presides over the body entrusted with guaranteeing world security.”

He recalled what the Lubavitcher Rebbe told him in 1984, when he became Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations. “He said to me, ‘You’ll be serving in a house of many lies’, and then he said: ‘Remember that even in the darkest place the light of a single candle can be seen far and wide.’ Today I hope that the light of truth will shine, if only for a few minutes, in a hall that for too long has been a place of darkness for my country.”

Netanyahu then proceeded to address the conflict with the Arabs, saying: “I came here to speak the truth. The truth is that Israel wants peace. The truth is that I want peace. The truth is that in the Middle East, at all times but especially during these turbulent days, peace must be anchored in security. The truth is that we cannot achieve peace through UN resolutions, but only through direct negotiations between the parties. The truth is that so far the Palestinians have refused to negotiate. The truth is that Israel wants peace with a Palestinian state, but the Palestinians want a state without peace. And the truth is you shouldn’t let that happen.”

He said that the greatest danger facing the world is militant Islamic fanaticism, such as that of Iran and its president. He warned against Iran arming itself with nuclear weapons.

“Can you imagine that man, who ranted here yesterday, armed with nuclear weapons?” Netanyahu said, referring to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s tirade on Thursday. “The international community must stop Iran before it’s too late.”

“We must do our best to shape the future, but we cannot wish away the dangers of the present,” he said, warning that militant Islam wants to tear apart the peace treaties Israel has with Egypt and Jordan and saying that it “opposes not the policies of Israel but the existence of Israel.”

“Some argue that the spread of militant Islam - especially in these turbulent times - if you want to slow it down, Israel must hurry to make territorial compromises,” added Netanyahu. “The theory sounds simple. It goes like this: Leave the territory and peace will be advanced. The moderates will be strengthened, the radicals will be kept at bay, and don’t worry the pesky details of how Israel will actually defend itself. International troops will do the job.”

Netanyahu noted, however, that Israel has tried that theory and it hasn’t worked. He reminded the audience how in 2000 Israel made a sweeping peace offer that was rejected by then PA Chairman Yasser Arafat, and how former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made an even more sweeping offer in 2008, to which current Chairman Abbas didn’t even respond.

He also reminded the audience that Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000 and from Gaza in 2005, moves which resulted in rockets being fired at Israel from north and from south.

Netanyahu said that given the failure of the Gaza expulsion, Israelis rightly ask what’s to prevent this from happening again in Judea and Samaria. He reminded that while most of Israel’s major cities in the south are within a few dozen kilometers of Gaza, in the center of the country, Israeli cities are a few hundred meters or at most a few kilometers from the edge of Judea and Samaria.

“Would any of you bring danger so close to your cities? Would you act so recklessly with the lives of your citizens? Israel is prepared to have a Palestinian state in [Judea and Samaria] but we’re not prepared to have another Gaza there.”

Netanyahu reiterated Israel’s needs to have security solutions and long-term military presence in critical strategic areas, an arrangement that Abbas refused. He stressed Israel’s concern over the fact that the Ben Gurion International Airport is near Judea and Samaria and that without peace airplanes could be targets for terrorists.

“I believe that in serious peace negotiations, these needs and concerns can be properly addressed,” he said. “But they will not be addressed without negotiations….Israel needs greater strategic depth and that’s exactly why Security Council resolution 242 didn’t require Israel to leave all the territories it captured in the Six Day War. It talked about withdrawal from territories to secure and defensible boundaries.”

“These are not theoretical problems,” he emphasized. “They’re very real, and for Israelis they’re life and death matters. All these potential cracks in Israel’s security have to be sealed in a peace agreement before a Palestinian state is declared. Not afterwards. If you leave it for afterwards, they won’t be sealed. The Palestinians should first make peace with Israel and then get their state. But I also want to tell you this: after such a peace agreement is signed, Israel will not be the last country to welcome a Palestinian state as a new member to the United Nations. We will be the first.”

Netanyahu reminded the audience that soldier Gilad Shalit has been held captive for five years by Hamas. He reminded that Hamas is violating international laws by not allowing Shalit to receive visits by the International Red Cross, and said that Shalit is “the son of every Israeli family. Every nation represented here should demand his immediate release. If you want to pass a resolution about the Middle East today, that’s the resolution you should pass.”

He reminded of his Bar Ilan speech in which he outlined his vision of a demilitarized Palestinian state which recognizes the Jewish state, and said it’s about time the Palestinians recognize the state of Israel.

“Israel will always protect the rights of all its minorities, including the one million Arab citizens of Israel,” said Netanyahu. “I wish I could say the same thing about a future Palestinian state, for as Palestinian officials made clear the other day, the Palestinian state won’t allow any Jews in it. They’ll be Jew free – Judenrein. That’s ethnic cleansing.”

He called the PA to give up its fantasy of flooding Israel with millions of Arabs, and dismissed Abbas’ claims that the core of the conflict is the Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria. Netanyahu said that the issue remains the refusal of the Arabs to recognize a Jewish state under any border.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I continue to hope that President Abbas will be my partner in peace,” said Netanyahu. I worked hard to advance that peace. The day I came into office, I called for direct negotiations without preconditions. President Abbas didn’t respond. I outlined a vision of peace of two states for two people. He still didn’t respond. I removed hundreds of roadblocks and checkpoints, but again – no response. I took the unprecedented step of freezing new buildings in the settlements for ten months. Once again, there was no response.”

Netanyahu concluded by calling Abbas to end the generations-old conflict and start negotiating. He quoted the Arab adage that one cannot applaud with one hand, adding that one cannot make peace with only one side talking either.

“President Abbas, why don’t you join me?” said Netanyahu. “We have to stop negotiating about the negotiations. Let’s just get on with it. Let’s negotiate peace! Now we’re in the same city. We’re in the same building. So let’s meet here today, in the United Nations!”

There was perfunctory clapping at the end of Netanyahu's speech, except for the Israeli delegation, a sharp contrast to the waves of applause that greeted Abbas' inflammatory words.

To view video click HERE

As published online at ArutzSheva, 25 September 2011

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sarajevo, Beirut, Damascus, Ramallah Won With Erdogan

"Believe me, Sarajevo won today as much as Istanbul. Beirut won as much as Izmir; Damascus won as much as Ankara; Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin, the West Bank and Jerusalem won as much as Dyarbakir", Recep Tayyip Erdodan crowed when he delivered his victory speech on his third consecutive national election win.
Ah, those WikiLeaks, making life edgily difficult for diplomats whose secret missives have now become discussion fodder for the common folk. Telling us things that we may already have observed through careful follow-up of the news as it is disgorged day by day. Particularly of late, in a restive world where East keeps banging its petulant nose against the stability of the West's more sturdy, even-tempered chin.

Isn't it then, a surprise to heard that Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a haughty autocrat with a thin skin and a sense of himself as being infallible, his decrees inviolable, his riotous anger justified. A ruler, in effect, who has circled himself with an "iron ring of sycophants (but contemptuous) advisors", understanding little beyond Ankara, and who foster "exceptionally dangerous", "neo-Ottoman Islamist fantasies".

Precisely. Well put. Quite an excellent summation. Give that man a cigar.

Erdogan has distinguished himself as a capable politician. His party, first by careful stealth, then with growing confidence, has been in charge of a growing economy. His party has also, first stealthily, then with a clarified self-assurance, began distancing itself and the country from a historical alliance with the State of Israel, claiming itself more pure in intent and practise than the other.

Israel attempts to protect its population from constant attacks from militant (read terrorist) Palestinians representing all manner of violent factions from Fatah to Hamas, none of which have any intention of recognizing the legal reality of the existence of Israel a Jewish state, all of which insist on destroying Israel so the Palestinians may once again 'own' the geography.

Turkey refuses to admit it conspired to destroy Armenians in a mass, violent slaughter. Its ongoing argument with Greece over the disputed territory in Cyprus mark it as a country that invites the prospect of violence. And its brutal repression of the Kurds, the world's largest ethnic group without a country of their own, distinguishes Turkey as a human rights violator; it protects its territory, while violating the rights of its own citizens.

While the world sits in apprehension over the long-range plans of the Islamic Republic of Iran which is determined to create and own their own nuclear weaponry, just as Pakistan did, to become the second Muslim country to proudly boast of its destructive potential, threatening its neighbours and the stability of the geography, Turkey, although a member of NATO, applauds the exploits of official Iran.

Turkey has refused the consensus opinion of the UN special investigation into the Mavi Marmora incident where Turkish thugs were killed by Israeli naval personnel who had been violently set upon by those thugs. That opinion being that Turkey should have made more of an effort to dissuade its nationals from their rash and dangerous intention, and emphasizing that Israel was within its rights in its response. The blockade of Gaza is internationally justified.

Turkey refuses to acknowledge the Greek Cypriot government, despite that it is internationally recognized. Erdogan has visited the 'Arab Spring' countries of Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen to congratulate its citizens for throwing off the yoke of dictatorship, extolling the virtues of democracy. Arab-style democracy brought Hamas to Gaza, and Hezbollah to Lebanon, both utter social, civil, economic, failures.

Revelling in his growing popularity on the Arab street because of his approval rating resulting from casting Turkey's traditional relationship with Israel aside, he has felt empowered to challenge Greece and Israel militarily in the Mediterranean, claiming that he has ordered jet fighters, frigates and torpedo boats to patrol those waters where gas exploration is being conducted.

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