Friday, July 31, 2009

Das Bier Summit-Post Thoughts

Great summits in world history

Munich Summit 1938

Yalta Summit-1944

Potsdam Summit 1945

Kennedy-Khrushchev Summit in Vienna 1961

Nixon-Mao Summit in China 1972

The Beer Summit-Washington 2009

Biden: I tell ya, guys, we need to go to Ukraine. The babes are hot!! Hey, you heard this one? Knock-knock."

Gates: "Who's there?"

Biden: "Sgt Crowley."

The news media had a ball with this week's "beer summit" at the White House. Some cable outlets were featuring a countdown ticker until the beer was served, while another was showing viewers an aerial map of the White House grounds to show exactly where the Big Moment would take place, We even know what beers each man drank, for crying out loud. In the end, Joe Biden was invited to the party-to lighten things up I guess.

I thought that Sgt Crowley acted with with class in his post-beer interview-being careful not to fan any more flames (since he never fanned the flames to begin with) but also not backing off from his position that he acted properly in the arrest of Henry Louis Gates.

Of course, we don't know what the four gentlemen said to each other, but it is my hope that Crowley spoke up for the policemen of America who are so frequently accused of racial profiling every time they have to encounter a black person on the street. I am sure he got a lot of lecture from Gates (and Obama) about the insidiousness of racial profiling. Since he himself teaches the subject at the police academy, I am sure he is well versed on the topic and the past history of arbitrarily harassing blacks (which is what I would define racial profiling as). I have an idea that Sgt Crowley spoke just as frankly to Gates as Gates did to him on the subject of being called a racist every time a white man and black man have a disagreement. It is not fair and it has become very tiresome.

What the teachable moment is that President Obama is talking about I have no idea. Hopefully, he has learned not to jump into an issue in which, by his own admission, he has no personal knowledge, and declare that one side acted stupidly-then have to waste the next several days of his precious time trying to clean up his mess. Any "teachable moment" would have involved taping the conversation, which, in itself, would have destroyed any usefulness.

At this point, I would like to share a story from my youth. When I was 14 years old and growing up in Los Angeles, I was a punk, pure and simple. I thought I was a tough guy and liked to get into fights. One night, I was thrown out of an amusement park for some stupid thing I didn't do and escorted out by an LAPD cop. He was an older guy probably burned out and counting the days to retirement. He took me into a side room and filled out a card on my (field Identification card). I was angry because I didn't deserve to get thrown out of the park. Three times I called him a "dirty cop". The third time, he proceeded to kick my butt. After that, I started listening. In the end, perhaps realizing he had crossed the line, he became friendly let me go since my attitude had dramatically changed. So was he wrong in what he did? Sure. Did I deserve it? You bet.

None of that suggests that Professor Gates should have been roughed up for his verbal tirade. But the point is that my incident had nothing to do with race. The cop was white and so was I. (I still am.) The lesson is when you engage in a dispute-verbally or physically-with the police, only bad things will happen. Gates was out of line and engaged in disorderly conduct. A couple of days after the incident, I caught a snippet of Gates being interviewed by someone in front of an outdoor crowd (I assume it was at Harvard.) I only caught a part, but I heard Gates talk of how this white cop was obviously not prepared for a black man to "get in his face". (I am paraphrasing, but that is an accurate description of what Gates said.) So, I am now satisfied that Gates, as other witnesses have said, was being verbally abusive and acting in a disorderly manner that would have justified a charge of disorderly conduct. To say that Crowley was engaging in racial profiling is absurd. He was called to the scene of a possible home break-in and acted accordingly. He had no idea who he was going to encounter, and I have heard no witness state that Crowley was being other than professional in his behavior.

Again, teachable moment? Aside from the fact that white and black Americans view race through entirely different lens, which we know, I would like President Obama to tell us what we should learn from this.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

California's Three-Card Monte Budget

You may have read that California finally passed a budget last week (with some cuts and no new taxes) and that Governor Schwarzenegger has signed it. So everything is cool,now, right? No more of that bad old 26 billion dollar budget deficit. Well not quite. This budget is nothing more than shifting numbers around and robbing Peter to pay Paul.

It's a complicated arrangement, but what California has done is really little more than smoke and mirrors. First, they are taking billions away from local governments, who are screaming bloody murder. In addition, other expenditures are pushed over from June 30 to July 1 (new fiscal year). There are also cuts to the prison system, which are expected to result in about 27,000 prisoners getting early releases. When the Republicans objected to that idea, the Democrats cut a deal with them so that the voting looked like a Democrat plan rather than Republican; thus, the Republicans got cover from their base. Governor Schwarzenegger (aka Katzenjammer) has assurred the public that there is no reason to be alarmed. Safety and security is the number one priority. Therefore, these parolees will be fitted with ankle bracelets and instructed to stay inside their homes after dark-or some such nonsense.

Keep in mind that this is the state that has been issuing IOUs since July 1 for their debts. This is the state that is talking about legalizing marijuana so they can tax it and make more money.

Anyway, here are the cuts:

$6 billion from K-12 schools and community colleges over two years
$3 billion from the University of California and California State University systems
$1.3 billion from Medi-Cal, the state's healthcare program for the poor
$1.2 billion from the state prison system

Critics say that this budget deal just pushes the can down the road and delays the day of reckoning. A few months from now, we will be billions more in the deficit. Actually, we still are now, but thanks to a few accounting tricks, it doesn't look that way.

Let's Play, "Name That World-Class City!"

Which world-class city is pictured below?

a Paris
b London
c Rome
d Tokyo
e Buenos Aires
f Los Angeles

This should be easy. After all, only one city can boast:

Stunning skyline

Slow-paced lifestyle

World-class literature

World-class art

World-class dining

World-class auto racing

The world's greatest sports fans

High society

Famous celebrities (whose homes you can visit)

International festivals

And a friendly mayor who is always accessible to the local news media. In fact, he and his spokesman told the media that theirs was a world-class city for hosting a celebrity funeral memorial which cost this world-class city almost $4 million!

By now, the answer is obvious (f).

(Ok, Frisco. Now we're even- I mean San Francisco.)

Another Proud Grad of UC Santa Cruz?

This YouTube video was taken at a Santa Cruz City Council meeting. What I want to know is this: Is this a student, graduate or even professor at the University of California at Santa Cruz (America's wackiest university)?

Or a dean, perhaps?

If so, which department would she be from? Perhaps, Community Studies-or History of Consciousness? (That's Angela Davis' department.)

At any rate, this is a monument to the failure of our educational system.

And throwing more money at it won't solve the problem.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Another Account of UC-Irvine's Anti-Israel Hate Fest

Amir Abdel Malik Ali-on a previous visit to UCI

George Galloway-British MP-and buffoon, who spoke May 21.

Ex-Congresswoman-and buffoon Cynthia McKinney at UC-Irvine, May 13, 2009 with her "security" in red and black t-shirts

I am cross-posting an article by Aaron Elias, a pro-Israel student at UC-Irvine. He describes last May's Muslim Student Union-sponsored Israel-bashing, which featured plenty of radical speakers and frayed tempers. Of course, these are the same events as I have written about for over two years, but it might be refreshing to read the accounts from another voice.

"To see a firsthand example of Islamic fundamentalist anti-Semitism, you need look no further than the University of California, Irvine.

The campus’ Muslim Student Union is nationally infamous for their annual anti-Israel week (which they unsuccessfully christen “Palestine Awareness” week) and for the vitriolic anti-Semitic language of some of their speakers. The MSU is the type of organization proud to invite the scholar-wannabe Norman Finkelstein, which it did in 2008.

This past May, the MSU’s anti-Israel week was perhaps more gorged with controversy than ever before. A number of campus groups organized in order to petition the co-sponsors of the week-long carnival of misinformation of the nature of the event they had agreed to co-sponsor. As it turned out, many of these campus groups were unaware of the controversial nature of anti-Israel week, as the MSU delegates who pitched it to them failed to objectively and accurately describe it. As a result of the petition, five co-sponsors reneged their participation. In addition, one of the MSU’s scheduled speakers — Gideon Levy, a Jerusalem Post journalist — also canceled his attendance.

The anti-Israel event this year was dispersed over three weeks rather than one, with the second week serving as the main course. The wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing cast of speakers the MSU invited this year featured Reem Salahi, a National Lawyers Guild delegate; Anna Baltzer , a so-called “renowned” humanitarian voice on the Israeli-Arab conflict who has colored Zionism as a “racist movement”; Cynthia McKinney, a Green Party candidate and former member of Congress who was nearly arrested in 2006 for punching an officer at Capitol Hill; and the coup de grace of every anti-Israel week across the Western U.S., Amir Abdel Malik Ali — an Oakland imam who has repeatedly accused Jews of controlling U.S. media, the economy, and perpetrating

Reem Salahi hosted an event during the first week exploring Israeli “war crimes” during the Gaza offensive in the beginning of the year, broken down into six sections designed to systematically refute pro-Israel claims (Israel does not target civilians, Israel alerted Palestinian civilians before airstrikes). Salahi force-fed the audience a warped, hobbled logic to reject these claims (civilians died in Gaza as a result of collateral damage, so Israel is targeting them. Salahi only saw one flyer during her trip to Gaza, so Israel didn’t warn civilians about airstrikes).

Anna Baltzer and Cynthia McKinney gave speeches of no notable interest during the second week, aside from the usual “Israel is a criminal state” and “Israel is unjustly perpetuating a holocaust.” McKinney did recount her experience of attempting to sail to Gaza during Operation Cast Lead and expressed outrage as she said her boat was “rammed” by an Israeli warship — an action she for some reason did not predict before she tried to illegally cross a military naval blockade meant to block weapons smuggling.

Malik Ali, as usual, stole the show with his inflammatory anti-American and thinly veiled anti-Semitic rhetoric. A Muslim radical who glorifies the image of the militant rebel and hails Hamas and Hezbollah as “brothers,” Ali spoke first at a noontime public event in the thick of student traffic and then later at a more private evening event.

The contrast between the two speeches was incredible. Where he at least attempted to conceal his Jew-hate in the daytime with monikers like “Zionist Jew,” Ali let loose with both barrels in the nighttime like some sort of anti-Semitic werewolf. Ali accused the Zionist students on campus of controlling the school’s administration, blamed the Jews for 9/11, and rejected the idea that the situation in Sudan could be a genocide and instead blamed the U.S. for it. Ali also declared that the Jews worship Satan, described world class Jew-hater Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a “pretty good guy,” and named Hamas as “victims of Israeli oppression.” Ali even proudly called Allah a “terrorist.” Most astonishing, though, was his blatant call to the students to engage in violence:

"Stand up to the dean … and those policies and unjust rules you [the dean and Zionist students] just made up. … We are moving into a phase of civil disobedience — there’s no other choice except to disobey."

That Ali would have dared to express any of these beliefs at his public speech amidst a throng of students is laughable.

In recent years, it seems the MSU has become less concerned with distribution of fact and more concerned with constructing offensive and misleading displays on the campus. Students this year witnessed an Israeli flag torn, burned, and splashed with red paint drooping from a mock “apartheid wall” covered in incriminating photos of Palestinian victims (often taken out of context) and what is meant to be information on the conflict. A cardboard Israeli tank was introduced as an extension to the wall this year. It sported a picture of Anne Frank wearing a kaffiyeh, suggesting that the Jewish icon of Holocaust suffering would oppose the idea of a Jewish state. A few days after it was put up, however, the picture was covered up (with a kaffiyeh, what else?) and taken down.

Speculation was that the UCI administration had finally put on its big-boy pants and told off the MSU, but an MSU student soon admitted that Anna Baltzer told the organization to remove the photo.

One would assume that the UCI administration would eventually step in and declare that that such behavior is unacceptable and the rhetoric that the MSU’s speakers spew is offensive and risks inciting violence. However, despite petitions and urging by countless groups both on and off campus, the administration has refused to denounce the MSU’s activities as hateful and dangerous. People can only speculate as to why this is. Some believe that the chancellor of the school fears being sued should he single out the MSU for hate speech. Others believe they simply don’t have the chutzpah.

In addition to all the disguised bigotry and half-truths that color the MSU’s anti-Israel week, it now seems they are resorting to underhanded thuggish tactics in order to discredit the opposing perspective. During Malik Ali’s public daytime speech, a number of pro-Israel students set up a booth and walked around holding boards with damning excerpts from the Hamas charter. After the speech, these students were confronted by a group of Muslim students.

“So I hear you guys like killing babies,” a student at the group’s fore said to the group of pro-Israel students, the first statement any of the Muslim students made.

The confrontation quickly dissolved into hostility and almost became physical if not for the students on both sides who attempted to separate the two factions. However, even before the situation degenerated, a female Muslim holding a camera was seen hovering around the group of Muslim students and switching it back and forth between the two groups. When the situation almost became a fight, she rushed to the fore of the Muslim students and held the camera ready to take pictures.

This behavior, coupled with the blatantly childish and irrelevant statement the Muslims chose to greet the Zionist students with, suggests that the entire situation was premeditated in an attempt to goad the pro-Israel students into a fight, which the MSU could then take pictures of and tell their own story about. As despicable as it was, the Zionist students walked away and refused to respond to the taunting.

While criticism of Israel is perfectly legitimate (there is a saying that nobody criticizes Israel more than Israelis), outright damnation of it, fabricating information, and calling students to violence are not activities any school organization should be allowed to exercise.

If not stopped, whether by its own incriminators, school administration, or outside forces, it can lead to some dangerous situations. If you need an example of the dangers of allowing hate speech as free speech, look back to February of this year, when Zionist students at a college in Toronto were chased by an anti-Israel mob and forced to barricade themselves inside the campus’ Hillel office. Their attackers pounded on the glass doors and shouted things like “Die bitch, go back to Israel” and “Die Jew — get the hell off our campus.” The students had to wait for the local police to arrive and safely escort them from the office.

Another incident erupted at University of California, Berkeley last year in November, when members of Students for Justice in Palestine disrupted a Zionist Freedom Alliance concert featuring rapper Kosha Dill z by hanging PLO flags from a balcony directly over the stage. When ZFA member Gabe Weiner attempted to remove the flags, SJP member Husam Zakharia punched him in the head. Zakharia was promptly beaten to the floor by Weiner and Yehuda De Sa. Yehuda told Israel National News: “Several other members of SJP, including female students, attempted to attack Weiner and De Sa but when three more ZFA activists entered the scene, the male members of SJP — who regularly use physical intimidation to silence Zionist students — hid behind female members of their group and refused to step forward and fight.” The school paper published the SJP version of the events, and the administration asked leaders of both groups to meet with each other.

The problem of not only verbal but physical hostility directed at Jewish and Zionist students on college campuses is becoming a bigger problem. It is important to remember the aforementioned incidents when witnessing such blatant anti-Semitism on college campuses and anywhere else. One can only hope that people will recognize it for the inane and bigoted antagonism that it is, and it goes without saying that one certainly cannot afford to allow for this destructive and dangerous mindset within society.

As Winston Churchill said, “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.”'

Fousesquawk comment: Excellent description by Elias of this latest round of MSU events, which were labeled: Israel-The Politics of Genocide" and which featured, as always, a veritable who's who of misfits and mad-hatters as speakers.

By the way, if you are not aware, the National Lawyer's Guild was originally founded in the 1930s as a legal arm of the Communist Party USA. It was not the first time one of their reps had spoken at UCI. To this day, you will see them involved in any legal issue designed to make the USA look bad.

As for the confrontation described, I happened to witness part of it. The MSU had a table in the area and it was there that they were engaged in a long back and forth with pro-Israel students. Tempers did flare, and at one point, the pro-Israel students were told by an MSU member to get away from the table and the area. I asked a bored-looking campus policeman to go over and make sure there was no fight. Fortunately, no fight erupted.

Rest assurred in a few months, this will all be back at UCI with another group of misfits speaking (Malik Ali will surely be back.) The one common thread almost all of them have is that they hate Israel. And you know what? They hate America too.

And I will be there to point it out.

Frank Gaffney on Hizb ut Tahrir

Fox News recently interviewed Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy regarding the conference last week by the radical Islamist group, Hizb ut Tahrir. It is worth watching. Here it is.


As Gaffney says, this is a group that should not be allowed to enter the US. It is a group that intends to subvert the entire world to Shariah law. They should be exposed, which Fox News, to its credit, has done. I wonder what other mainstream news outlets have covered this conference and tried to delve into what Hizb ut Tahrir is all about.

Below is a photo that appeared in Little Green Footballs in September 2007. It shows the Hizb ut Tahrir booth (The Shield) adjacent to a Dept of Homeland Security booth at the 2007 Islamic Society of North America convention.

The bottom line here is that what we need here is real vigilance. I can only hope that the FBI is all over this bunch.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Let's Play, "Name That City!"

The below pictures were taken in which city?

That's the mayor (on the left)

I'm not sure when this photo was taken. Since it is black and white, possibly about ten years ago.

This is some sort of "pride" parade, but I can't quite figure out what they are proud about.

Some of the local yokals. Hey! For you University of California at Santa Cruz students (and professors), there's a clue in the background.

a Calcutta, India
b Karachi, Pakistan
c Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia
d Kabul, Afghanistan
e Baghdad, Iraq
f Lagos, Nigeria
g San Francisco, California

If you guessed "g", you are a winner! If you live in "g", you are a loser!

Loren Spivak on Blog Talk Radio (Political Vindication)

I am pleased to pass on this note from Shane Borgess, my pal and colleague at Political Vindication:

Loren Spivack, who owns the Free Market Warrior kiosk in the Concord Mills Mall in North Carolina, is facing exile from the mall after his lease expires this month because he dared sell merchandise that wasn't too flattering of our Dear Leader, Barack Hussein Obama. That's right, despite all the rhetoric from the Left about having an open debate during the Bush Presidency, a few 'impeach Obama' bumper stickers has libtards bursting their pampers, and working to have Mr. Spivack's business thrown from the mall! Tonight, Loren Spivack joins us on Political Vindication Radio to discuss his battle against the agents of political correctness. Must he fight alone? No! Call in tonight and let him know you're supporting him!

Show time starts at 6pm PST, chat room opens 15 minutes before we go live on the air. If you want to join in on the conversation, the call in number 646-652-4598.
Posted by Shane at 4:00 PM

Pro-Palestinian Storm Troopers at the San Francisco Jewish Film festival

On July 23, I posted an article on the upcoming San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, in which the film "Rachel" was to be shown. To repeat, Rachel Corrie was a young Jewish American activist and member of the International Solidarity Committee (ISM), a group devoted to the destruction of the Jewish state. She went to Gaza in 2003 and was accidentally struck and killed as she sat in front of a bulldozer in the process of taking down a house connected with a terrorist tunnel used to transport weapons to be used against Israel. Her parents have since become anti-Israel activists and travel around giving speeches, associating themselves with some pretty radical and vile groups and individuals both in the Middle East and here in the US.

The Corries meeting with that great man of peace, Yassir Arafat

The presentation of the film about Rachel Corrie and a scheduled speech by her mother, Cindy Corrie had led to many objections from Jews, not only in the San Francisco area, but world-wide. On July 25, the film was shown, and Mrs Corrie gave her speech. The crowd was mostly composed of members of the Jewish Voice for Peace (another anti-Israel group) and the International Solidarity Movement as well as the American Friends Service Committee, all leftist groups opposed to Israel. Two of the principle figures are Donna and Darlene Wallach of the ISM, two Bay Area Jewish activists who have traveled to Gaza and met with Hamas officials.

The usual riff-raff (Top: Donna and Darlene Wallach of the International Solidarity Movement), second from top: Darlene Wallach applauding) -Photos by SFJFF Watch

After Corrie's speech, only three questions were allowed. The one critical questioner was greeted with jeers and catcalls from the loons in the audience.

Prior to the film, Dr Mike Harris, a pro-Israel speaker was given the podium and spoke for 10 minutes presenting his case against the film. The video is below. Listen and hear the catcalls, insults and disruptions from this crowd of storm troopers wearing Palestinian kaffiyas (head scarves with the black and white doo-dads). In spite of the jeering and attempts to shut him down, Mr Harris courageously goes through his speech and makes his points.

Keep in mind that these three groups who were involved in this event claim they are for peace-though they will never condemn Palestinian rockets and suicide bombers against Israelis. Some laughed when the names of Jewish victims of Palestinian terrorism in Israel were mentioned. Ar one point, someone cried "Sieg heil". And when Mr Harris pointed out the fact that the ISM had put on a dinner for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during his visit to the US, the audience cheered.

Another interesting fact should be mentioned; funding for the event was provided by the Jewish Federation of San Francisco, which bills itself as a Jewish advocacy group. I really wonder just what it is this organization does. If they are like the Jewish Federation of Orange County, they are pretty questionable in my humble view. (The director of the Orange County chapter feels-he told me himself-that there is no anti-Semitic problem going on at UC-Irvine in regards to the annual hate-fests put on by the local Muslim Student Union. Enough said about them.)

What I find especially troubling is that while many Jews are active in speaking out against anti-Semitism (and yes, defending Israel), so many other Jews either turn a blind eye-or completely go over to the other side and align themselves with those who would destroy not only Israel, but Jews world-wide if they could. In the case of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, while I am not in favor of censorship, I wonder what is the purpose of having a Jewish film festival if you are going to feature speakers, films and events which defend those who would murder Jews.

There is a term that many Jews use to describe these types; "self-hating Jews". Since I am not Jewish, myself, I have chosen not to make this judgement about others. But sometimes, I really wonder.

It is so perplexing.

Monday, July 27, 2009

"Why Does Britain Ignore Anti-Semitism?"

Denis MacShane, British Member of Parliament

I am cross-posting this excellent article by UK politician Denis MacShane, which appeared in the Guardian on July 25, 2009. It is entitled: "Why does Britain ignore anti-Semitism?"

"Here is a non-story. There were more than 600 attacks on British Jews in the first six months of the year. This is twice as many as the same period in 2008. Most consisted of verbal abuse – frightening enough for elderly Jews or Jewish schoolchildren – but 77 of the attacks were violent, including an attempt to kill a Jew by running him over.

So far, no British paper has reported this increase in antisemitic attacks. Why? There are six to seven times as many Muslims as Jews in Britain. If since January there had been – scaled up proportionately – 2,000 attacks on British Muslims, it would make headlines everywhere. Those whose language and discourse created an atmosphere that denied British Muslims their right to a peaceful life under law would be the object of investigation – journalistic and intellectual – and put under pressure.

But, in today's Britain, to be anti-antisemitic is to invite scorn, as if no problem existed. Those arguing that a broad antisemitic discourse is sadly not something of the past and is relevant today find themselves more likely to be criticised in the national media than those who promote language that belittles Jews.

Last year, two men, Simon Sheppard and Stephen Whittle, were convicted by a jury in Leeds crown court of posting violent anti-Jewish hate on the net and sending a pamphlet entitled "Tales of the Holohoax" to a synagogue and Jews. They jumped bail and fled to the US expecting that the American tradition of free speech enshrined in the first amendment to the American constitution would protect them. But a Los Angeles court decided to respect British law and extradited the two men. They are now serving prison sentences.

This story combines the problem of British Jew-hate and the currently tricky question of extradition. Yet, other than the estimable Yorkshire Post, this tale of rank antisemitism received no news coverage.

So the news blackout on the rise in antisemitic attacks this year comes as no surprise. Instead, there is a convoluted discussion on this site and in the Jewish Chronicle about an intellectually challenging essay discussing whether comparing Israeli Jews to Nazi killers is acceptable.

I think it is not. Criticism of Israel is not only healthy but necessary. Just read Ha'aretz or any number of Israeli writers and activists. But the portrayal of Israeli Jews as SS Nazis which is widespread in the cartoons published in the Arab press is not an attack on Israel as a state but an attempt to dehumanise its Jewish citizens – and Jews everywhere. There is a rich vocabulary of abuse, invective and denunciation that can be used to attack Israel. But in using Nazi imagery the crudeness of the antisemitism is obvious.

Moreover, it is utterly counter-productive making those Jews critical of Israeli behaviour feel under attack as reason and normal political discourse go out the window. President Obama and Hilary Clinton are making major efforts to solve the Middle East conflict by asking Israel to make concessions. Their task is made much harder by, first, those who carry out antisemitic attacks without press exposure and condemnation. Second, by those who pretend that antisemitism is not a major problem with a range of state backers as well as ideological justification for positions hostile to Jews from the BNP or the Polish politician Michal Kaminski, who is a political group leader in the European parliament. Third, by those who think, like Silvio Berlusconi, that branding political opponents as Nazi camp guards is acceptable political insult.

Like Voltaire, I will defend the right to say what is wrong save where it leads to violence and hate against my fellow citizens for being what they cannot change. To call Jews Nazis is wrong. I think it is antisemitic. Others may disagree. But attacks on British Jews are a 21st-century reality and that should worry us."

Fousesquawk comment: On May 21, British Member of Parliament (and buffoon) George Galloway, an anti-Israel demagogue appeared at the University of California at Irvine, where I teach. During the Q&A which followed his anti-Israel diatribe, I recited to him a list of recent pro-Palestinian rallies in the US and Canada, in which pro-Palestinian supporters had shouted, "Long live Hitler!", Hitler didn't finish the job!" and "F--- Jews!". He broke into my words by calling me a lair (even though all the incidents are on YouTube) as a crowd of 600 Muslims in the audience cheered as if they were at a soccer stadium. After an exchange of words, I finished my question by asking about similar anti-Semitism against Jews in Britain-a question he never answered.

The fact is that anti-Semitism is a problem and growing, both in Europe and the Americas. It must be addressed openly and the practitioners of it identified and condemned.

The Big White House Beer Bash

"We have Muenchner Loewenbrau, Kronenbourg, Beck's, Guiness, Pilsner Urquell and Bud Lite."

It looks like President Obama has stopped a national crisis dead in its tracks. He has invited Sgt James Crowley of the Cambridge Police and Professor Henry Louis Gates to join him "for a beer" at the White House-possibly this week.

Only one?

How'd you like to be a fly on that wall? I wonder what it will look like. Will there only be one beer, at which time, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel walks in and tells the president,

"Mr President, the Chinese Ambassador is here."

"Thanks, Rahm. If you'll excuse me, thanks for coming."

Or will it be the informal little get together that Obama has intimated, just three guys shootin' the breeze over maybe ....more than one, two perhaps?

Or three?

Or four?

"Here's to yer mama!"
"Same to yers."

Or maybe a couple of six-packs?

"Mr President, the Chinese........."

"Later, Rahm."

"Mr President......."

So will it all end well for our protagonists? You never know how these beer drinking sessions turn out.

"You're a lousy cop!"

"And you're a lousy professor!"

"And you're a lousy president!"

Will it all end up like this?

"Where's Obama?"

Or this?

Is One Culture Better Than Another?

I've posted a couple of articles in the past week that have some harsh comments on certain cultural traditions brought to the US and Canada by certain immigrant groups. Some readers may think my language was too intemperate, and perhaps it was. That does not mean I want to "clarify" anything I wrote. It stands. Yet, I have been thinking that the point deserves a deeper discussion, and that is what I will attempt to do here.

As I said, values that condone or practice traditions like "honor-killings", female genital mutilation or stonings have no place in Western society-nor in most Asian societies. If they are practiced in the Middle East, Africa, Afghanistan or Pakistan, we have no control over that, but we can control their spread to our societies-if we have the will. But it does raise the question; are certain cultures around the world superior to others? Of course the multi-culturalists in academia will insist they are not. All are equal, and all should be "celebrated" equally, to use their jargon. I disagree-with certain reservations, which I will lay out.

For example, if you compare headhunters and cannibals, who still exist in certain parts of the world, you cannot seriously argue that their culture is equal to that of the West or the East, Japan, China or Korea for example. So yes, I will argue that cannibals and head-hunters living in jungles have a more primitive culture to the rest of the world because of their primitive traditions. They will never put a man on the moon, will they?

But at the same time, let's look at our modern cultures. Europe, for example, with all its great culture and learning, was noted for centuries for its never-ending wars. Only the destruction of World War II woke them up to seeking better ways to live together- with a few exceptions like Yugoslavia, of course.

Japan, today, a respected democracy with a great culture and loads of traditions, was nothing to brag about when it was known as Imperial Japan. Ask the Koreans and Chinese.

But let's concentrate on the US. We love to brag about our culture, technological know-how, work ethic and values. True enough, but there are a lot of aspects of today's American culture that are most troubling:

Violent crime
drug use
political corruption-a growing problem
abortion and even more-partial-birth abortion
prostitution-though not legal except in Nevada
child sexual exploitation
high illegitimate birth rates
family breakdown
old people being dumped into nursing homes-and rarely visited by their children

How's that for culture? And how much of that are we spreading to other parts of world, wittingly or unwittingly?

A couple of years back, I was commenting on another blog thread, and read a comment from a Hispanic guy about Mexican migrants risking their lives to leave their own nation-rich with culture- to get to America-a "country with a culture as dry as dust." I responded with a suggestion that he might want to examine his own racism, but the more I thought about it, the more I could understand what he was talking about. Mexico, first of all, in my view, has one of the richest cultures in the world-which the people try to maintain in their music, dance, art etc.

Yet, one of the most important aspects of our culture is what we call our traditional American values; honesty, work ethic, generosity, and respect for the law. Sadly, some of these seem to be on the decline for a variety of reasons. Because of that, I view (legal) immigration as a positive thing for America. We need some new blood-people who bring traditional values when it comes to family and work; people who bring an appreciation for the greatness and freedom of our country-which all too often, we take for granted.

This brings me to a point I want to make about those particular immigrants I have criticized recently-and let's be clear-they are Muslims.

I suspect that almost all recent Muslim immigrants who come here are shocked at many of the problems that I cited above, and they feel a need to shelter their families from these evils. I respect that. But they should recognize that most Americans also look with alarm at these problems. We are not happy about drug use, crime, child-exploitation and what have you any more than they are. However, it is a price we pay for our freedom. Some things we can try to enforce within the constitutional limits of our law and some things we simply must tolerate and try to educate our children away from. Sometimes, we succeed, and sometimes we fail. There are two basic issues which I feel that immigrants in general must accept:

1 If your intent is to immigrate to America, your children are going to be influenced by American culture and will assimilate. They will be exposed to influences that were not present back home. They are going to become Americans and have American friends of other cultures and religions. They are going to do American things.


Because if not, what we will see is a community cloistered off from American society. If you want to enjoy the freedoms and opportunity that we offer in America, eventual Americanization of your kids and grand kids is a process almost impossible to stop. And yes, that includes one of your sons or daughters marrying from outside the nationality or even outside the religion. It also means that one of your kids or grand kids may decide to choose another religion-or not to have one at all. That is part of our American freedom.

That's what goes with being an American, which brings me back to my second point and the original point in the previous posts. The penalty for misbehavior, not living by your parents' rules or apostasy is not death-not here in America. If your daughter is raped, rest assured that the police will do everything in their power to catch the perpetrators and punish them. Your daughter, however, is a victim in our eyes-not someone who has brought shame to the family. She is to be protected. We do not recognize "honor killings" because they are against everything our culture and system of justice stands for. If you cannot accept these two basic points, you have no place in our society.

To sum this up, we can get lost in endless and useless discussion about whether French culture is superior to Japanese culture or Canadian culture is superior to Argentinian culture etc. etc. Suffice to say that we don't need cannibals or head-hunters running around over here. The same goes for "honor killings", stonings, female genital mutilation and all that.

Fousesquawk's Big Scoop on Honduras.

Hugo Chavez (l) greets Manuel Zelaya

(Based on inside sources whose identities cannot be revealed-just like the New York Times)

I happen to work with two fellow-teachers who are married to Hondurans. Therefore, I hear a lot of the concern that they have that the situation in that country may turn violent in the continuing saga of ousted-president Manuel Zelaya.

The father-in-law of one of my colleagues has just arrived in the US from Honduras, and here are a couple of tidbits that he reports:

Since the removal of Zelaya, the Honduran public has shown a dramatic increase in reading the country's constitution, and they are now fully immersed in current events.

Zelaya has very little public support-perhaps 15-20%. His recent "crossing" into Honduras with a few supporters (he apparently crawled through barbed wire at a non-controlled point) has further turned Hondurans away from him. The removal of Zelaya based on constitutional grounds has wide-spread public support.

My colleague's father-in-law has also expressed amazement at the outside news coverage of the events in his country, which in his view are slanted toward Zelaya and inaccurate.

So there you have it, folks. It may be the view of one man and his family, but it goes against the proclamations of the UN, the OAS, and our own government.

Zelaya was not removed based on the US Constitution. He was removed under provisions of the Honduran Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court, the Honduran legislature and the Honduran military. Maybe, just maybe, we and the OAS and the UN (and Hugo Chavez) should butt out of this and let the Hondurans decide what they want (hopefully, without bloodshed). President Obama's knee-jerk reaction that the removal was unconstitutional was a mistake on his part, and any planned meetings between Hillary Clinton (or her representatives) and Zelaya would only legitimize this would-be dictator.

Presently, Zelaya and his followers are camped out in Nicaragua near the Honduran border. That seems like a good place for him. Besides, he has his trademark cowboy hat to ward off the hot sun.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Another "Honor Killing" in Canada

The "honorable" Mohammed Shafia in police custody

It appears that Canada has suffered its fifth case of honor killing since 1999-accounting for nine dead victims. This month, police in Kingston, Ontario have announced the arrest of three family members in the death of four other family members. The motive?


The family involved is that of Mohammed Shafia, who immigrated to Canada two years ago with his family consisting of two wives, three teenage daughters, a teenage son, and three other children. The family is originally from Afghanistan, but also lived for a period of time in Dubai.

It was last month that the bodies of Shafia's first wife, Rona (50) and his three daughters, Zainab(19), Sahar (17), and Geeti (13) were found dead in the family car submerged in a canal near Windsor, Ontario. The car had entered the canal backwards. Shafia had earlier reported the car missing, telling police that his daughter Zainab had taken it joy-riding. The family had reportedly been driving from Montreal to Niagara Falls when the incident happened.

It appears that the motive for the crime was that the three daughters had been living like typical Canadian teenagers live, which displeased the father and second wife, Tooba Mohammed Yahya. In addition, it has been reported that Zainab had a Pakistani boyfriend whom the father disapproved of and that Youth Protective officials had been called to the Shafia home on three occasions in the past two years. It is theorized that Rona, the first wife, may have defended the three daughters in their choice of a Western life-style. Rona's sister has reportedly told police that Rona had been reciving death threats centered around "family honor".

Days ago, Shafia, his second wife, Tooba, and their son, Hamed (18), were arrested by police as they were en route to Montreal airport and charged with pre-meditated murder. Police say that, contrary to Shafia's claims, Zainab was not driving the car, rather it was driven by one of the three surviving family members.

Three other children belonging to the family are reportedly in child protective custody.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Persecution of the Baha'is in Iran.

The seven Baha'i community leaders now on trial for their lives in Iran

Iranian Baha'i women hanged in 1983 for teaching Baha'i classes to Baha'i schoolchildren

Among the other disturbing issues going on in Iran-with their nuclear development and crackdown on protesters, one other issue has been largely lost to public attention; that is the severe persecution of the Baha'i religious minority in Iran. What kind of persecution are we talking about? We are talking about arbitrary arrests, imprisonment, rape, murder, torture, a denial of education-just about anything you can imagine.

The Baha'i faith was born some 150 years ago in Iran (then Persia)under its founder and Messenger Baha'ullah. It is a peaceful religion, which recognizes one God and places great emphasis on the brotherhood of all human beings. Baha'is are not troublemakers in Iran; on the contrary, they are model citizens, who adhere to obeying established authority. Their religion, which counts some 3 million world-wide, has spread to other parts of the world as well, including the US, which has about 100,000 adherents. Since its inception, however, the followers of the faith, some 300,000 in Iran, have been subjected to some form of persecution at various levels-not only in Iran, but also in other Middle Eastern countries such as Egypt.

In 1896, subsequent to the assassination of then-Shah, the Baha'i community in Yazd was attacked by mobs, and several people were killed. In 1933, the Government of Iran banned Baha'i literature, refused to recognize Baha'i marriages, and the Baha'i national center in Tehran was demolished. Under the Islamic Republic, which began with the revolution of 1979, this persecution has worsened dramatically as a part of official government policy.

The present-day Iranian constitution recognizes only Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism (an ancient Persian religion) as legitimate religions. Such recognition is denied to Baha'ism, which the mullahs consider an apostasy of Islam. Thus, under the present Islamic regime, persecution has been the order of the day for the Baha'is, many of whom have left Iran.

In 1983, four years after Khomeini seized power in Iran, ten female Baha'i schoolteachers were arrested, tortured, prosecuted and executed by authorities for teaching religious classes to Baha'i children. The women, aged 17-57, refused to recant their faith in exchange for being spared. They walked bravely to the gallows and died for their religious belief.

In August 1983, the prosecutor-general of Iran, Hojatoleslam Hossein Musavi Tabrizi, ordered that all Baha'i organizations in the country be shut down, to which the Baha'is obeyed. It did not stop the attacks. According to a Time Magazine article dated February 20, 1984, in the ensuing months, a Baha'i farmer was lynched and a Baha'i woman was killed by a mob just after having given birth. A spokesman for the Baha'i HQS in Wilmette, Illinois told Time that "unless things change, Baha'is in Iran are going to be annihilated." Indeed, thousands lost their homes and possessions, while Baha'i facilities and cemeteries were sacked and desecrated including their holiest shrine, The House of the Bab in Shiraz.

Baha'i temple in Wilmette, Illinois

And it continues. Presently, the Iranian government continues to persecute this minority in a systematic manner. Since 1979, it is estimated that over 200 Baha'is have been killed or executed, hundreds imprisoned, and tens of thousands have lost jobs, pensions and educational opportunities. (Baha'is are precluded from attending universities). In addition, Baha'i holy places, cemeteries and shrines have been seized or desecrated by authorities. Also largely lost among the recent mass arrests of young dissidents in Iran's streets is the fact that seven leading Baha'is (two women and five men)have been imprisoned since last year and were scheduled to go on trial for their lives this month, a trial that was just postponed a couple of weeks ago.

The seven Baha'i leaders – Behrouz Tavakkoli, Saeid Rezaie, Fariba Kamalabadi, Vahid Tizfahm, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Affif Naeimi and Mahvash Sabet – have been charged with a variety of crimes, according to official Iranian news reports. They include "propaganda against the system," "insulting religious sanctifies," and "being corrupt on earth," a charge that is punishable by death. The seven prisoners have not been allowed to see a lawyer. (The nature of the charges gives you an idea of the mentality of the Iranian authorities.)

The plight of these Baha'is has been protested by various human-rights organizations and governments including Australia and Canada. The UN has passed resolutions on Iranian human rights issues specifically mentioning the Baha'is. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has also taken up the issue of Baha'i persecution in Iran.

All, unfortunately, to no avail.

Why, you might ask, are the Baha'is so threatened in Iran? It is simple; since their inception, they have been considered a threat to the dominant religion-Islam. Under the Islamic Republic, this has especially been the case. The mullahs who run Iran simply will not tolerate what they consider an apostate religion that threatens Islam. Therefore, Baha'ism and its adherents must be persecuted, imprisoned, killed, raped and their assets seized or destroyed.

Part of the "Axis of Evil"? You bet.

So how will the fate of the 300,000 Baha'is in Iran play out? Despite international protests, the Iranian government seems determined to continue its mistreatment of this religious minority until they have disappeared-one way or the other. Maybe they feel they can terrorize this "apostate" group into renouncing their faith in favor of Islam. If the 1983 example of the ten courageous schoolteachers is an example, it will not work. Will the government allow these 300,000 people to emigrate? While I have recently been critical of the US resettling certain refugee groups into the US, this seems like a group worthy of refugee status, a group that would make a positive contribution to wherever they go.

Ultimately, it may take the downfall of this evil regime to save its Baha'i community. In the meantime, public exposure is necessary, which is why I am making this small contribution.