Saturday, March 31, 2007

Mehr News: "Iran warns EU about 'unmeasured statements' on British soldiers"

More creepy attempts to use the hostages to control what is said.
In a statement issued on Saturday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry formally asked European countries to “seriously avoid unmeasured and irresponsible statements” over the British sailors held by Iran.

to Iranian armed forces arrested 15 British marines and sailors on March 23 after they illegally entered Iran’s territorial waters in the northern Persian Gulf.

Pointing to convincing and unambiguous documents about the trespassing of Iran’s territorial waters by the British navy personnel, the Foreign Ministry advised European Union to study the existing documents before expressing “illogical support” to Britain.

The ministry warned the EU to avoid “unwelcome intervention” in a subject which is of “completely bilateral nature” and urged EU to “encourage the British government to adopt bilateral approaches for resolving the problem and seriously avoid any move which would lead to a more complication and prolongation of the matter.”

Gathering in Bremen, Germany, on Friday EU foreign ministers gave their full support to Britain and claimed that the arrest of the sailors and marines amounted to a breach of international law.

“The European Union deplores the continued arrest of 15 British citizens and underlines the EU's unconditional support for the government of the United Kingdom,” the EU statement said.

IRIB on the Iranian Hostage Situation

There are another ten headlines or so at the IRIB site relating to the hostage situation, but these seem especially interesting:

"UK sailors undergo legal proceedings":
Legal proceedings against British naval personnel who illegaly entered Iranian waters have begun, the Islamic Republic of Iran's Ambassador to Moscow said in comments distributed on Saturday.

"No kind of apology has been received from the British side and as a result the case has taken on a juridical form," Ambassador Gholamreza Ansari told Vesti television in comments quoted on the channel's internet site.

"If their guilt is really demonstrated, naturally it will result in punishment. I want to underline that legal proceedings have already begun," said Ansari.
This doesn't sound good at all.
Friday, a British sailor confessed to trespassing in the Iranian waters.
"Most Arabs support arrest of sailors":
Most Arabs support Islamic Republic of Iran's measure in arresting British sailors who intruded the Iranian territorial waters, according to a poll conducted by al-Jazeera website Saturday.

More than 83 percent of Arabs believe that the arrests of 15 British sailors is a right and justifiable measure by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Less than 17 percent of the participants opposed the measure.

8390 Arabs have so far participated in the poll. It will last until Monday.

IRNA: "Zionists determined to implement their new plan in Palestine"

Zionphobia, thy name is Iran:
Armed Forces Chief of Staff Major General Hassan Firouzabadi declared on Saturday that the international Zionism and the Zionist regime, being supported by American neoconservatists, are determined to implement a new plan in the center of Palestinian occupied territory.

The remark was part of a speech delivered at the Saturday morning's flag hoisting ceremony at the Armed Forces General Headquarters.

Major General Firouzabadi added that such a plan will not be beneficial to any country.

He urged that the heads of the state and Muslim brothers of Palestine's neighbors face the serious threat of the Zionists attacks.

"In the first place, neither Lebanon nor Syria, and not even Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia will be immune to the attacks of Zionists," he added.

Firouzabadi said that the plan, which is due to be implemented in the coming summer, aims to prevent withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and the region, given that in addition to exploitation of the regional oil reserves, the incentive for US presence in the Middle East is to incite the Israeli Zionists.

He urged that agreement on a national coalition government should soon be reached in Lebanon among its leaders and domestic solidarity should be developed in the country to resist against such conspiracy.

Firouzabadi called on heads of state of the Zionist regime's neighboring countries to fortify their front in the face of Israel, defend the oppressed Palestinian nation and take the necessary decisions to thwart the Zionist plan.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Fars News: "Security Measures Increase around British Embassy in Tehran"

In the meantime Iran has released a third letter from Faye Turney. I have not seen the text of it yet, [Update: Here it is.] but the second letter did not seem to have been written by a native speaker of English. I wonder if the current one is going to declare that Iran will smash the plots of the World Arrogance through its courageous stances:
Following increased tensions between Tehran and London over the detention of 15 British marines who entered Iranian waters illegally and likely gatherings by protestors in front of the embassy compound, the police increased security measures and arrangements around the embassy here in Tehran on Friday.

According to FNA dispatches, different units of the Iranian law enforcement police have stationed in the northern and eastern sides of the British embassy while several police squads are guarding walls of the embassy building.

Thousands of protestors staged a rally following Tehran's Friday Prayers at Tehran University Campus to cry out their protest against the trespassing of Iranian waters by the British troops. Protestors called for the trial of the trespassers.

A large number of people gathered around the British embassy but police squads prevented them from forming any demonstration or convention.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Castro says biofuel to kill over 3 billion

That's about half of the world's population. He probably won't live to see it. From Newsmax:
Cuba's Fidel Castro published his first editorial since his July surgery on Thursday, signing his name to a scathing article on U.S. biofuel plans for Thursday's edition of the Communist Party newspaper Granma. [...]

In Thursday's article, Castro said more than 3 billion people in the world were condemned to die prematurely of hunger or thirst from plans by his ideological foe, the United States, to convert foodstuffs like corn into fuel for cars.

"This is not an exaggerated figure, it's more likely cautious," Castro wrote in the ruling Communist Party's daily newspaper. "I've been meditating quite a bit since President Bush's meeting with North American automobile makers."

He was commenting on a proposal by the Bush administration to cut gasoline use by 20 percent by 2017, mostly by increasing the use of fuels such as ethanol, made from home-grown corn. [...]
The version of this editorial at Cuban News Agency contains the following paragraph:
Even if the President is speaking about producing fuel out of switchgrass or wood chips, any person could understand that these phrases are far from realistic. Listen well: 35 billion gallons, 35 followed by nine zeros! Beautiful examples of the productivity of men per hectare achieved by the experienced and well organized US farmers will come next: corn will be turned into ethanol; corn wastes will be turned into animal fodder, with a 26 percent of proteins; cattle manure will be used as raw material for the production of gas. Of course, all of this will happen after a great number of investments, which could only be afforded by the most powerful companies whose operations are based on the consumption of electricity and fuel. Let this formula be applied to the Third World countries, and the world will see how many hungry people on this planet will cease to consume corn. What is worse, let the poor countries receive some financing to produce ethanol from corn or any other foodstuff and very soon not a single tree will be left standing to protect humanity from climate change.

Daily Mail: "Iran releases woman sailor's 'anti-war' letter"

As was the case during the Holocaust Conference, when Iran is at its creepiest, it conveys the odd impression that it thinks it is scoring propaganda points. It isn't so amusing when there are hostages involved.
Iran has released a second letter from kidnapped British soldier Faye Turney in which she calls on Tony Blair to withdraw British troops from Iraq.

The letter was released by the Iranian embassy in London, which stated that Turney was the author.

"Isn't it time for us to start withdrawing our forces from Iraq and let them determine their own future?" said the letter, addressed to the British parliament.

Turney's release is on hold after Iran accused Britain of having an "incorrect attitude".

The move comes on the day when Iranian television released footage of the operation to seize the 15 British naval personnel last week and presented what it claimed was evidence of the Britons encroaching into Iranian territory.

But Britain said the sailors and marines were detained in Iraqi waters and said global positioning data proved its position.

he announcement that Turney's release is on hold by the head of Iran's supreme national security council Ali Larijani reperesented a clear u-turn and dashed hopes that the 26-year-old mother would be released "very soon".

But Mr Larijani said on state television today: "It was announced that a woman in the group would be freed, but (this development) was met with an incorrect attitude. Naturally, (the release) will be suspended and it will not take place."
The hostage crisis also took a sinister new turn today as a hate mob in Tehran demanded that the 15 captured British Navy personnel be hanged.

Protesters waved placards demanding "15 British aggressors must be executed" outside the foreign ministry.[...]
(Hat Tip: LGF)

IRIB: "FM warns Arabs against Zionist scam"

Turks and Persians "on the sidelines" at the Arab Summit--interesting image:
Minister of Foreign Affairs Manouchehr Mottaki said on Tuesday that participants in the summit of leaders of Arab states should not allow the Zionist regime to undermine national aspirations of Palestinians.

In the meantime, Mottaki held talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the 19th summit of the Arab leaders in Riyadh.

He underlined the need for unity, cooperation and coordination among Islamic countries in line with the sublime objectives of Muslim world.

Mottaki also expressed IRI's readiness to cooperate with Turkey in the field of implementing development projects including in energy, gas and electricity sectors.

The Turkish Premier, for his part, pointed to the entities which sow discord among Muslims, saying that the Riyadh Summit should have constructive and effective role to develop solidarity among Muslims of the world.

Mottaki and Erdogan held talks on the important issues of the Muslim world, the latest developments in the region including Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Arab News: "Thirteen post-graduate female students are seeking temporary husbands so that they can fulfill a Saudi Ministry of Education requirement."

Believe it or not, I try to avoid Muslim-bashing posts. Let's just call this "interesting":
Thirteen post-graduate female students are seeking temporary husbands so that they can fulfill a Saudi Ministry of Education requirement. There is a lot in that sentence so let’s at least try to make things as clear as possible to those unfamiliar with the ways of the Kingdom.

The ministry has published a list of conditions and requirements that women who wish to go abroad on a scholarship must fulfill. The main one of course is that the women will have to be escorted — accompanied — by a male guardian. Many women were initially very excited about the possibilities of scholarships to study abroad; many of them had dreamed of such a thing for years. Their enthusiasm, however, quickly evaporated when they heard of the new requirement. What is interesting is how the women have taken the news of the requirement. At one time, the women would simply have accepted things and begun a hectic search for a guardian who could sacrifice several years of his life to spend as a baby-sitter and moral policeman. Now in the 21st century, the women are looking for a temporary husband to go with them since it seems they cannot be trusted to go alone. I wonder about Saudi women who go abroad to study at their own expense; they are apparently exempt from this requirement.

In a survey conducted by a Ministry of Education team, 20.9 percent of the women (387) said they saw no harm in entering into one of these marriages of convenience. (This particular kind of marriage is called “mesfar” and is designed for women travelers. The remaining 79 percent apparently accepted the requirement. It may be the only way most of them would have a chance to study abroad. However you look at it, we must be given credit for inventing something new — and the mesfar marriage seems to be gaining in popularity.

Seriously, doesn’t this send a worrying message to the authorities? That people are willing to go to any extremes to cheat the system? And wouldn’t such a state of insincerity on both sides — man and woman — indicate that maybe it is time to evaluate this particular situation and give women back their former freedom to study abroad? After all, many Saudi women have studied abroad without any male member of their family accompanying them. What is the reason for the sudden change?

A writer in Al-Watan newspaper put her finger on a sore point indeed when she said that the country’s system is taking away the individual’s power to choose and decide for himself. Even men in this equation cannot decide if they want to let their wives and daughters travel alone to study. The state’s permission is required. This is very similar to the requirement that forces a Saudi woman to get government permission if she wishes to marry a non-Saudi. In that case, it does not matter if her guardian approves of the marriage; it cannot happen without state approval. All of us know that people have developed all kinds of systems to get around these rules — which are not at all Islamic but spring rather from tribal customs and traditions. Cheating the system is certainly a possibility but what does that tell us about the relationship between the individual and the establishment? Just that you can do anything you want as long as you have the right cover. [...]
If only Religious Policeman was still blogging!

The Age: Gaza sewage flood "blamed on residents stealing sand from an embankment"

Someone at Daily Kos inevitably commented "The spectacle of Gazans drowning in their own sewage yesterday was a tragically powerful metaphor for their suffering under occupation." You could take that a lot of ways:
Further deadly sewage floods are feared after a wave of stinking waste and mud from a collapsed septic pool inundated a Gaza village, killing five people, including two babies.

The collapse has been blamed on residents stealing sand from an embankment.

It highlighted the desperate need to upgrade Gaza's overloaded, outdated infrastructure - but aid officials say construction of a modern sewage treatment plant has been held up by constant Israeli-Palestinian fighting.

However, construction of a new plant did not appear to have been affected by year-old international sanctions on the Palestinian Authority. The Gaza City mayor blamed the collapse on local people digging dirt from an earthen embankment around the structure and selling it to building contractors. [...]
(Hat Tip: Daily Alert)

Daily Star: "Peacemakers need a new way of negotiating the 'right of return'"

The prospects for peace between Fatah and Hamas are very bad right now, never mind a "two-state solution" to the Arab-Israeli conflict. However, there is some good sense in this interesting piece, courtesy of one Nihad Ghadry:
The primary goal of the Arab-Israeli conflict - liberating Palestine and terminating Israel - has gradually changed over the years, and it has become enough just to liberate the land that was occupied on June 7, 1967.

Accordingly, all of the international and Arab initiatives and plans regard the two-state formula as the only possible solution. However, the dispute has continued over the exact location of the border, though the contested territory doesn't exceed a few square kilometers.

Yet it is no longer appropriate to manage the conflict on the same old basis, unless one or both parties have hidden intentions inconsistent with their announcements concerning peace conditions. In other words, if Israel rejects the concept of having a Palestinian state, and Palestinians and some or all Arabs refuse to recognize Israel as a state, we'll be back to the starting point and the conflict will continue.

However, the continuous talks on the need to find a solution consistent with two main pillars - the settlement of the border dispute and the "right of return" - make us believe that this is what the two parties are really seeking and all the states concerned have to present their views concerning the solution.

In principle, the border issue is not the main problem among all the other ones, despite its importance. The fundamental issue is what is called the "right of return" of Palestinian refugees, who live in miserable refugee camps throughout the Middle East and other states that have not always embraced them with open arms.

Those refugees consist of three groups. The first group comprises emigrants were expelled from their land in 1948. Only a few of them are still alive and due to their age and numbers, their return won't really cause a vast demographic or political change. The second group comprises Palestinians who fled or migrated during the aftermath of the 1967 war, after which the United Nations Security Council convened and adopted Resolution 242, which requires Israel to withdraw from the land it occupied at that time. Those are also few in number and most of them are elderly people. The third group comprises new generations of Palestinians who were born outside Palestine to Palestinian parents. They constitute the highest percentage of living Palestinians.

Building on this background, international and regional decision-making bodies could opt to recognize only the "right of return" of Palestinian refugees born in Palestine. Such a decision might set the stage for a potential solution to be discussed by the two struggling parties, as it would limit the number of refugees that return to a number that can be easily absorbed.

On the other hand, the status of the Palestinian Diaspora could be viewed as similar to that of Lebanese emigrants, especially the Maronites, whose number exceeds 10 million. They live in their new homelands as regular citizens and are committed to their new countries, despite their nostalgic feelings for their native land and the visits that a few pay to it.

The law in most countries worldwide states that any child born in a country acquires the citizenship of that country and the rights afforded to its citizens. Accordingly, the new generations of Palestinians could be considered citizens of the countries where they were born, except in Lebanon due to certain considerations that have to do with its religious, sectarian and political makeup. However, this won't represent an obstacle, since with a dose of wisdom and understanding, they can be absorbed into any other Arab community.

The Arab-Israeli conflict is draining energy and resources. I believe that if the Arabs had invested the money they currently spend on arms on various development issues - such as education, economy, health, construction and technology, just as Germany and Japan did during the aftermath of World War II - they would have overcome their miserable undeveloped status. They would have realized that the resources they are exploiting would provide their new generations with prosperity, well-being, and real strength. They would have understood that the manufactured disputes that they have embraced have given birth to systems justified only by imaginary disputes.

This is just an idea for those who really believe in peace, not for those who only talk about it while triggering struggles and igniting endless wars. It is not for those who use the conflict to legitimate their suppressive systems that rise up in the name of Palestine and remain in place so long as the conflict continues. Then the continuation of the Arab-Israeli conflict becomes an objective to every system by itself for a purpose far removed from its Palestinian one. So it's better to be clear: Either we reject peace and bear all of the consequences of preserving suppressive systems in the name of liberation, but without achieving liberation, or we really negotiate peace on its feasible conditions.

IRNA: "British marine apologizes for entry into Iranian waters"

Let's see, how did Jill Carroll put it? "The Mujahedeen are merciful and kind that’s why I’m free and alive."
British marine Mrs. Faye Turney from F99 Royal Navy on Wednesday admitted entry into Iranian territorial waters and apologized for doing so.

Turney, who is going to be freed soon, said that Iranian coast guards treated them friendly and with hospitality.

"My name is Faye Turney. I come from England, I live in England at present. I have served on F99. I have served in Navy nine years, I was arrested on Friday on 23rd of March which obviously has passed internal waters.

"I was treated friendly and hospitable they are nice people, they explained why we were arrested, and there is no aggression, no hurt, no harm, they are very very compassionate," she said in an interview.

Meanwhile, she forwarded a letter to her family to inform them about her well-being.

An Iranian foreign ministry official handed over the letter to British Ambassador to Tehran Jeffrey Adams on Wednesday.

"I want you all to know that I am well and safe. I am being well looked after.

"The people are friendly and hospitable, very compassionate and warm. I have written a letter to the Iranian people to apologise for us entering into their waters.

"Please don't worry about me; I am staying strong. Hopefully it won't be long until I am home, she said in part of her letter to her family.

Iran announced that she will be freed soon.

15 British marines, who had violated Iranian territorial waters in the Persian Gulf, were arrested on Friday.
Update: Iran is now denying that she will be released soon. Mottaki reportedly said "I was probably misquoted." Funny how it was reported in IRNA, isn't it?

IRIB: "Mashal urges Arab summit to be brave"

The Left seems to think that the Palestinians are extending the olive branch of peace at the moment:
The Arab League summit is a good chance for a "Palestinian-Arab unity" to defend the rights of the Palestinian nation, Khaled Mashal, Head of the Political Bureau of the Palestinian Resistance Movement Hamas, said on Wednesday.

According to Qods News Agency, Mashal expressed hope that the Arab League summit would have positive outcomes for the Palestinian cause.

"We expect leaders of the Arab world to take a brave stance and work towards unity and take the required practical steps to break the seige on the Palestinian nation," he said.

"The Arab leaders must in a united stance recognize officially the Palestinian Unity Government and cooperate with it," he added.

He stressed that the Arabs must respect the Palestinians' national rights, adding, "We are against giving concessions. The process of giving concessions must end."

Mashal reiterated that Hamas will never relinquish Qods city or al-Aqsa mosque and the right of the Palestinian refugees.

Referring to the leadership crisis in the Zionist regime's cabinet, the Head of Hamas Political Bureau said, "Currently, the Zionist enemy is facing leadership crisis and only two percent of the Zionist community accept Ehud Olmert as a good option for regaining the Zionist regime's premier post.
Those eagerly searching for signs of moderation from Hamas should also not forget about the loveable folks at Islamic Jihad: "Islamic Jihad warns Arab League"
Islamic Jihad rejected in advance Tuesday any decisions that might be adopted at the imminent Arab League summit in Riyadh that could lead to the recognition of the Zionist regime.

"Any decisions or initiatives accepting the existence of the Zionist entity are an affront to our people, and we consider them illegal," Islamic Jihad announced in a statement.

Elsewhere in the statement the movement reiterated its position that it would never recognise the Zionist regime and vowed to continue its struggle against the regime.

(North) Korean News: "National Self-Respect, Powerful Weapon for Building Prosperous Country"

Sometimes I wonder whether Korean News is actually ever updated:
National self-respect is a powerful weapon for building a great prosperous powerful nation and a mighty treasured sword for ushering in a great heyday of Songun Korea, declares Rodong Sinmun in an article Tuesday. The author of the article continues:

The deep national self-respect of the Korean people serves as an ideological and moral source giving full play to the political and ideological might of the DPRK and the motive force in building an economic power with their own efforts, forcing the way through whatever ordeals and difficulties.

To consider that our leader and party are the best and so are our idea and socialism of our style is the Korean nation-first spirit cherished in the hearts of all the people.

All the miracles and feats rendered by the Korean people in building a great prosperous powerful nation and their creations in the era of Songun represent the unshakable faith of the servicepersons and people of the DPRK in their endeavors to make the country stand high in the world and their unflinching pluck to build a prosperous powerful nation with their own efforts.

The deep national self-respect of the Korean people is also the fundamental source of a fuller blossom of the nation's excellent culture and tradition in all aspects of social life.

The steadfast faith that the superior socialist life and culture of the Korean people can never be exchanged for anything and their unswerving will to build a paradise of the people with their idea, morality and culture of which the world people are envious are the mental basis to firmly uphold the Juche character and national identity in all spheres of social life.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

LA Jewish Journal: Magen David forms in oatmeal

It isn't too late to post about chametz:
"Quick, come here," Gary Marcus yelled to his wife. "Bring a camera."

Marsha Marcus came running into the kitchen of their Northridge home. She saw her husband staring into the pot of oatmeal he was cooking on the stove. As she peered inside, she saw why her husband had summoned her.

There it was, in the pot of simmering oatmeal, rising out of the foam, a perfectly formed Star of David.

"It's because of the rabbi's blessing," she immediately said, snapping three photos with her cell phone camera while the image retained its symbolic shape for several minutes.

The rabbi's blessing had arrived via e-mail three days earlier, stating "May God grant you his abundant blessings that you merit to find gainful employment to your heart's content -- very soon."

It came from Chabad of the Valley's Rabbi Joshua Gordon, whom Marsha Marcus had contacted regarding her husband's job status and who routinely extends e-mail blessings to people needing assistance.

To Marsha Marcus, the Star of David was confirmation. She believed her husband, a global purchasing and sourcing manager who had worked for the same company for 24 years, would soon be gainfully re-employed.

A friend of hers from the sisterhood at Temple Ramat Zion, where the Marcus family, including daughter, Alison, 22, and son, David, 20, are members, agreed.

"This means something," the friend said.

To Marsha Marcus, a Star of David has always held special meaning. Literally representing the shield of King David and a universal symbol of Judaism, it signifies protection to her.

In fact, soon after she and Gary were married, 34 years ago, she commissioned a jeweler to make a gold Star of David for her husband. He stopped wearing it after a while and it sat in a drawer for decades. But several weeks ago, feeling the need for its protective powers, Marsha Marcus started wearing it herself.

"I'm very spiritual," Marsha Marcus explained.

Gary Marcus, however, takes a more rational approach.

"I figure things happen because they happen, not because of someone or something," he said. [...]
Click on the title link to visit the original article and see a picture of the oatmeal.

IRNA: "Global arrogance trying to sow discord among Muslims"

"Global arrogance trying to sow discord among Muslims"--is that a classic Iranian press title or what? Sort of like seeing a Korean News article entitled "Intensified Actions against Imperialists' Ideological and Cultural Poisoning Called for."
An Iranian official said here Monday that the global arrogance, after failure of its policies in Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq, is trying to sow discord among different Muslim sects.

Head of International Committee for Supporting Palestinian People, Ali-Akbar Mohtashamipour, made the remark while addressing the 5th International Qods Conference.

He warned Muslims against Zionists conspiracies aimed at sowing discord among various Islamic sects.

The Holy Qods is the axis of Muslims' unity, he said stressing, "The victory of Qods is the victory of the entire Muslim world." He laid emphasis on following the late Imam Khomeini's path until freedom of Palestinians from the oppression of the Zionist regime and liberation of the Holy Qods.

The three-day conference kicked off in the Algerian capital Monday with participation of over 200 political and religious figures from different Arab and Islamic states.

Monday, March 26, 2007

"Al-Aqsa Brigades attack Zionists," "Int'l bodies . . . tools to support Israel," and more on the British sailors

IRIB: "Al-Aqsa Brigades attack Zionists":
Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the military branch of Fatah Movement, on Monday accepted the responsibility of setting off a bomb in the way of Zionist regime's patrol in the West Bank city of Nablus.

The blast had been carried out on Sunday.

"Combatants of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades on Sunday detonated a strong bomb in the way of Zionist regime's patrol in Nablus that made damages to them," Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades said in a statement.
IRNA: "Speaker: Int'l bodies serve as tools to support Israel":
Majlis Speaker Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel said here Monday that at present the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) are tools supporting entities such as Israel rather than world countries.

Haddad-Adel told IRNA that by clearly declaring possession of atomic bomb, Israel overlooks its membership in the specified international bodies.

He noted that these international organizations serve the interests of Israel and disregard the interests of countries such as Iran, which neither intend to produce nuclear weapons, nor deviate from peaceful path in their nuclear activities.

"In practice, those countries willing to comply with international regulations are pressurized through UN as a consequence of the world powers' bullying and irrational approach.

"This is while, those states intending to proliferate atomic weapons are supported," he added.

The speaker said that such an approach by international bodies certainly does not indicate a good future for the world. [...]
IRNA: "Tehran is legally examining case of British sailors: FM":
Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said here Sunday that the charge against the British sailors arrested in Iran is illegal entry into Iranian waters and that the issue is being examined legally.

Talking to reporters at the United Nations in New York, he added that the British charge d'affaires in Tehran was summoned to the Foreign Ministry to be informed of Tehran's protest regarding the illegal entry of British forces into the Iranian territory.

"Iranian authorities detained the sailors in Iranian waters. This issue is not unprecedented and is being examined legally," Mottaki said.

Expressing his regret over the recent resolution issued against Iran's nuclear program by the UN Security Council, Mottaki said, "There have been two options to deal with Iran's nuclear issue:
nderstanding or confrontation. The resolution was the wrong choice which of course will have its own consequences."
When the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) repeatedly confirmed that no deviation from peaceful path had been observed in Iran's nuclear programs, it is a wrong decision to send the case to the UN Security Council, Mottaki said.

Tehran believes that the Iranian nuclear case should be examined at the IAEA and not at the Security Council, he added.

On Tehran-Washington direct talks, he said Tehran will study the US official request in this regard, he noted.

As to the current developments in the occupied Iraq, Mottaki said several mistakes were made in Iraq. If the wrong process continues, the main objective which is Iraq's security would be forgotten, he added.

As to the abduction of Iranian officials in Iraq, he said Tehran condemns such illegal acts and believes that Washington is responsible for this illegal act. Tehran also expects the Iraqi government to fulfill its commitment and make greater efforts to release them, Mottaki added.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

How is this Huffpo post different from all other Huffpo posts?

It appropriates the Haggadah, that's how:
There are four traditional questions that are recited at the Passover Seder. But the real first question is this:

"Is Pharaoh our god, or is the Breath of Life?"

From Rabbi Jesus marching in Jerusalem against the Roman Empire just before Passover time ("Palm Sunday") down to Fannie Lou Hamer chanting Black American freedom songs like "Go Down, Moses," the Exodus story has been used for centuries as an inspiration for resistance to tyrants.
Rabbi Jesus? That's Rebbetzin Jesus, you Patriarchal shill!
We should also pay attention to the other side of the story: its brilliant description of Pharaoh's addiction to top-down, unaccountable power. We should pay attention because we are living through this history in America today.

The story begins at the end of the Book of Genesis with a Pharaoh who feeds the whole nation during famine -- at the price of taking over all their land, turning yeoman farmers into serfs. Then comes a Pharaoh who turns his absolute power into a military addiction -- an aggressive army of chariots and an internal police that scapegoats the Israelite "foreign element," enforces slavery, and attempts genocide. Finally this addiction to coercion shapes a Pharaoh who cannot step back from his own need for control and violence, even though it brings about disaster for himself and his country.

Pharaoh begins by hardening his own heart to the plight of the poor and powerless, and after a series of disasters (the "plagues") brought on by his own arrogance, his addiction takes over.

God -- read "Reality" -- takes over, and from then on it is God Who hardens his heart.

What is this like? -- Use heroin once, twice, thrice - and you are making a free choice. But at some point the addiction takes over, Reality takes over, God takes over. Now it is the heroin that is doing you, not you doing heroin.

If you choose hard-heartedness so long you get addicted to it, at some point you are no longer choosing: God, Reality, is hardening your heart.

And arrogance is not only a moral and spiritual malady. It breeds stupidity. For those who are utterly convinced of their own absolute rightness cannot hear the warnings of others, cannot pay attention to the signals from the world around them.

Pharaoh depends more and more on violence to control the rebellious world --- rebellious workers, his own rebellious daughter, the rebellious earth itself. Even when Pharaoh's own advisers shriek at him, "You are destroying Egypt!" he can no longer turn back.

At each stage, at each plague, Pharaoh pauses for a moment, but then falls back into its addictive march to disaster.

We have seen this happen in Washington -- twice. In June 2002, the Environmental Protection Agency reported to the UN a bleak picture of the probable effects of global "warming" on the US itself. A few weeks later, a reporter asked the President what he thought of the report. "Ohhh, bureaucrats!" sneered the president. Even a warning from his own advisers that his policies were endangering America did not deter him.
If only he'd listened. Those icecaps would be firming back up already.
Just a few months ago, the same scenario. The Iraq Study Group, made up of Establishment luminaries (structurally, our equivalent of "Pharaoh's own advisers"), warned that the Iraq war was weakening America. They called for a staged withdrawal of troops from Iraq and for direct discussions with Syria and Iran. But the Bush Administration's pharaoh-like addiction to power and violence took over once again, and it decided to send more Americans to die in Iraq and decided to threaten - and perhaps to consummate - a war against Iran.
Did I mention that this was written by Rabbi Arthur Somebody?
Today, we face not merely a single person but a set of interlocking institutions that are our "Pharaoh" -- Big Oil, the swollen military, the Imperial White House. This Pharaoh has so addicted itself to its own uncontrollable power that it can no longer make a free choice.

Unfortunately, when those who have great power insulate themselves in arrogance and violence, the disasters they create do not wound only themselves. They wound the whole society.

* They chose to ignore evidence that Al Qaeda was preparing a major strike inside the US,

* chose to ignore warnings of plans for a airliner hijacking,

* chose to ignore scientists' warnings about the onrushing climate crisis of global scorching,

* chose to ignore all the warnings that an invasion of Iraq would mire the US in a disastrous and unending occupation,

* chose to ignore all the evidence that Saddam had no mass-destruction weapons, and chose to invent evidence that he did,

* chose to smear, humiliate, and fire honest officials who questioned these falsities;

* chose to ignore warnings of hurricane disaster in New Orleans and chose to ignore the plight of hundreds of thousands of people who could not evacuate the city,

* chose as Attorney-General, Chief Justice, and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court supporters of Presidential power to order the use of torture despite US and international law,

* chose to ignore the health and educational needs of Americans in order to funnel obscene amounts of money to those already rich.

The results of this arrogance have been enormous disasters. Plagues:


New Orleans.

The advance of global scorching and the melting of the Arctic ice.

The disappearance of health insurance for one-fourth of the American people.

The debacle of care for veterans at Walter Reed Army Hospital.[...]
The plague of disappearing health insurance!

Fars News: "British Aggressors Transferred to Tehran"

The Iranian Press is now going to produce one story after another in which various officials all say essentially the same thing. These are all from Fars News (which still resizes your browser window):
Aggressor British forces were transferred to Tehran.

The 15 British marines who had been arrested by the Iranian border forces on charges of inattention to the international borders and trespassing of the territorial waters of the Islamic Republic of Iran in northwestern Persian Gulf, were transferred to Tehran on Saturday to provide more explanations concerning their aggressive measure.

The British forces include 8 sailors and 7 marines known as Royal Marines who were fully equipped with arms and advanced recording devices.

A female marine is also among the British military staff.
"FM Protests at Illegal Entry of British Troops into Iran's Waters":
British Charged' affairs to Tehran, Kate Smith was summoned to the Iranian foreign ministry in the absence of the ambassador of that country and Iran's serious protest was expressed to her.

The protest comes following illegal presence in Iran's territorial waters, of the British navy marines in Arvand River.

The Director General of the west European affairs of the Iranian foreign ministry, Rahimpour in this meeting elaborated on the details of the event and stated that, following occupation of Iraq, it was the umpteenth time the British forces trespassed on the territorial waters of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Arvand River and were arrested by the Iranian border guards for further investigations.

Rahimpour called on the British party to provide immediate explanations concerning this obvious aggression against the Iranian waters and reiterated that such incidents should not be repeated in future.

The British Charged' affairs to Tehran responded by saying that she would soon inform her respected government about the case and present the response to the Islamic Republic of Iran immediately.

The British ambassador to Tehran who is currently in London, arrives in Tehran today to exchange views with the Iranian officials.
"FM Spokesman: British Forces' Trespassing of Iranian Waters Dubious":
Spokesman of the Iranian Foreign Ministry termed trespassing of the territorial waters of Iran by the British forces as dubious and illustrative of unusual objectives pursued by them.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Seyed Mohammad Ali Hosseini considered the illegal and interventionist entry by the British forces into the Iranian waters as a dubious act which contradicts international laws and regulations and condemned it.

He further made reference to the hostile nature of such moves and reiterated that violation of the sovereignty of other states and trespassing of their territories is illustrative of unusual objectives, contradicts international obligations and cannot be justified at all.

The Iranian foreign ministry spokesman again made reference to the efforts made by the British forces to hide and cover their illegal act and advised the British officials to compensate for their mistakes instead of trying to justify their illegal and unauthorized act.

The Aljazira TV network had, on Friday, reported of the arrest of 15 British marines by the Iranian forces.

Linkim 3/25/07

Haveil Havalim 111 is up! Carnival of the Insanities is up! J-Pix 4 is up! Soccer Dad has more round-ups.

Someone at Daily Kos proclaims "I love Israel, I hate AIPAC" and gets 240 comments.

Israel Matzav asks "Who will take on Iran?"

Ever read Martin Kramer on "Islamists and the Relentless Drive for Power"?

IRNA: "British ambassador confers with foreign ministry official"

The Independent: "Mugabe clings on as party faithful rebel"

Der Spiegel: "Israel Goes on the Virtual Offensive"

Walid Phares: "Royal Navy Incident: Iran's Plan to Drag the US and the UK"

BBC: Brigitte Mohnhaupt is now free

What will she do with her freedom? Appear in a critically-acclaimed television series? Kidnap and kill bank presidents? Become the acting head of the PFLP? Stay tuned.
A former member of the Baader-Meinhof gang has been released after serving 24 years for her involvement in kidnappings and murders in the 1970s.

Brigitte Mohnhaupt, 57,was released from the Aichach prison in Germany on Sunday, a prison official said.

Last month a German court ruled that Mohnhaupt qualified for early release after serving a minimum proportion of her five life sentences.

The group was also known as the Red Army Faction.

The prospect of Mohnhaupt's release sparked a fierce debate in Germany.

Mohnhaupt was convicted of involvement in nine murders. Victims included a judge, a banker and the employers' federation president.

The BBC's Steve Rosenberg, in Berlin, says she was once described as the most evil and dangerous woman in West Germany.

Separately, another prominent Red Army prisoner, Christian Klar, is seeking early release.

He has applied to the German president for a pardon. [...]

One of the group's most prominent targets was the German industrialist Hans Martin Schleyer - who was kidnapped in September 1977 and shot six weeks later.

Speaking before the court ruling, Mr Schleyer's son Joerg said members of the group had expressed no remorse for the killing.

"I can't understand that we would take [let] them out because within the last 30 years there's nothing they said - 'OK we're sorry we murdered your father, sorry for that, we murdered policemen, sorry for that.' Absolutely no word."

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Fars News: "British Forces Admit Aggression against Iran's Territorial Waters"

The Iranian press has been staying away from this story, or at least they have been avoiding it in English. These items are the first I have seen from them:
Manager of the Cultural and Defensive propaganda division of the general staff of the armed forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran reported of the availability of evidence and documents concerning arrest of the British forces in Iran's territorial waters.

Alireza Afshar confirmed the arrest of 15 British marines by the naval force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps within the Iranian territorial waters on Friday and added that the said individuals are under prosecution and have confessed that they have aggressed against the waters of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

He further stated that the Iranian armed forces are fully prepared to defend the country at all times.

Alireza Afshar concluded by saying that the US and its allies are aware that in case they make a mistake in their estimations and invade the Islamic Iran, they will not be able to control the dimensions and period of the war, in the same manner that the US expected the war imposed on Iran by the US-backed Saddam would achieve their expected results in 6 days, however, that war lasted 8 years and ended up in the failure of Saddam.
IRNA: "Arrested British sailors confess violating Iran's waters":
Deputy Commander in Chief of Armed Forces General Staff by confirming arrest of 15 British sailors by Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) naval forces in Iran's territorial waters on Friday March 23, 2007, said the sailors were under interrogation and have confessed violating Iranian territorial waters.

According to Armed Forces Media Department report on Saturday, General Ali-Reza Afshar said," the arrest shows our forces' readiness to defend the country at all times."

Deputy in Cultural Affairs and Defence Advertisement said repeated threats of enemies have caused promotion and growth of country's defence abilities adding the US and its allies know if they make a mistake in their calculations over the issue of invasion of Iran, they would not be able to control the dimensions of that miscalculation.

He pointed out the US was hopeful to end imposed war against Iran (by Iraq) in six days, but it took 8 years and Iraq was finally defeated too.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini had already condemned illegal entrance of British forces into Iran's territorial waters and called it a suspicious act and against international law and regulations.

15 British sailors were arrested on Friday morning by Iran's naval force in Iran's territorial waters in the Persian Gulf.

They were arrested in Arvandroud area in the northern coast of the Persian Gulf.
Drudge links to this article from the London Times.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Mehr News: "Leader warns of 'psychological war' against Iran"

The reference here to the "internal enemy" is interesting. The goofy overconfident rhetoric of totalitarian regimes often contains hints that not all is well:
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said here on Wednesday that the global powers have waged a “psychological war” against Iran in order to deter Iran’s great technological and economic progresses.

“Psychological war is the most important plot of the enemy,” the Leader told thousands of pilgrims at Imam Reza (AS) shrine in Mashhad, northeast Iran, in the first day of Iranian New Year.

The Leader said scaring the officials and scholars, weakening the public determination, a constant repetition of unrealistic subjects for changing the people’s understanding of the facts, weakening self-confidence, damaging the unity of people and officials, fomenting tribal, religious, political differences are part of the enemies’ psychological war against Iran.

Ayatollah Khamenei stated that the Iranians want a free, wealthy, and scientifically developed country.

He said Iran’s nuclear activities are legal and under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA.

“In gaining access to nuclear technology Iran has been observing international regulations but if they are going to behave illegally by using the Security Council as a tool and ignore the absolute right of the Iranian people we also can act illegally.”

He also warned if the enemies try to use “violence” against Iran for its peaceful nuclear program Iran will undoubtedly use all its power to strike them.

Iran is a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and it has legal right to use nuclear energy for civilian purposes.

The Leader went on to say in order to sustain successes the “dear Iranian nation” should be aware of its status and know about the challenges facing the country and how to deal with those challenges.

The Iranian nation basically wants to serve as a model for other Muslim nations and in order to realize this great objective it should make use of all its capacities, he explained.

Even though hegemonic powers and the puppet rulers blocked Iran’s progress for about 200 years the scientific and political progresses made since the victory of the Islamic Revolution have proven that Iran can serve as an example for other nations, he underlined.

He said the achievements made by Iranian scientists in nuclear technology, stem cells, and many other fields have won international praise.

He added the Iranian nation has been able to introduce new concepts such as “religious democracy” and “religion-based politics” to the world and the realities in the last three decades show that the Iranian nation can achieve unbelievable successes in international scientific, political, industrial, economic, and cultural competitions.

He said the future awaiting the nation is very promising but with many challenges ahead.

“The Iranian nation is facing the two internal and external enemies; and internal enemy means characteristics such as laziness, lack of motivation, hopelessness, and pessimism.

“And lack of national self-confidence is more dangerous than external enemy and the nation should counter these germs and destructive ants.”

The Leader called the international hegemonic system the “external enemy” of the Iranian nation, saying, “The international Zionism and the current government of the United States of America symbolize the external enemy of the Iranian nation.”

He added the enmity of the international Zionism and the U.S. toward Iran began after the revolution and it is still continuing.

Ayatollah Khamenei called “psychological warfare, economic war, and countering the scientific development of Iranian people” the three main approaches of the enemies.

He said the U.S. itself symbolizes terrorism, human rights violations, evilness and interference in other countries’ affairs, but it accuses Iran of such behaviors and tries to “change the place of the accused and the plaintiff.” However, he said, all nations believe that the U.S. should be held accountable for its misdemeanors.

The Leader stated frightening southern neighbors of Iran is another aim of the U.S. psychological warfare.

“Such efforts have been continuing since the beginning of the revolution and some of our neighbors in the Persian Gulf have cleverly realized this conspiracy and some others many fall in its trap.”

Referring to Iran’s readiness to sign “joint defense treaty” with Persian Gulf littoral states, Ayatollah Khamenei said “Like all years after the revolution Iran has extended hand of friendship to these neighbors and believes that the Persian Gulf countries themselves should provide security for this important region through cooperation.”

The Leader also advised the local writers not to pursue the intentions of the enemy willingly or unwillingly. He said anyone who hurt the people’s confidence in the officials and the system and make the people pessimistic about the future and promote division is helping the enemy.[...]

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Mark Arkovitz: "Complex Thought and the Middle East"

Joseph Massad is up for tenure at Columbia. This piece explains why he shouldn't get it:
About 2 months ago I attended a "round table discussion" about the Middle East and the State of the academy where our president, Lee Bollinger was a participant. During the discussion President Bollinger essentially stated that he thought universities should be a place for "complex" thought and discussion. I couldn't agree with him more. Unfortunately, the sad reality is the "discussion" about the Middle East at our University, and many others like it, is anything but complex.

I am a member of the faculty of medicine and make no claims to expertise on academic freedom of speech or the Middle East . However, as a natural scientist it has become obvious to me that the two critical components missing from this discussion are data and debate. For example, over a year ago I attended a conference sponsored by Qanun, the Middle East law students association. Two prominent members of our faculty, Rashid Khalidi and Joseph Massad, spoke in addition to Haifa University faculty member Ilan Pape. Khalidi started by stating that Israel "systemically prevents the growth of the Palestinian population." It took less than 3 minutes on the Internet to sort that one out. According to the United Nations, the Palestinians have one of the highest fertility rates of any country in the world.1 So, evidently Israel isn't actually "preventing" the growth of the Palestinians or they aren't doing a very good job of it.

Perhaps the most repugnant speaker was Ilan Pappe who equated Israel's treatment of the Palestinians with genocide. He of course offered no facts as to why this is or how exactly Israel's behavior met the definition of genocide set forth by the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in 1948.

Next up was Joseph Massad, who has already made a name for himself by his behavior, or lack thereof, towards students who disagree with his views on Israel. In less than 20 minutes Massad managed to call Israel a "racist apartheid" state more than 30 times (averaging once every 45 seconds or so). In fact, he didn't actually say anything else. He gave no data for this premise and offered no rhyme or reason why he thought this way or why anyone in the audience should believe him or agree with him. He was, of course, met with huge cheers and ovations by the mostly student audience. As someone, perhaps the only one in the audience, who actually worked in a black hospital in Soweto, South Africa during apartheid, I wondered if anyone in attendance actually knew the definition of "apartheid." [...]
Read the rest. (Hat Tip: Martin Kramer)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Asharq Alawsat: "Hamas Between Two Languages"

This calls on Hamas to stop being two-faced. Don't hold your breath:
The Hamas movement will save the Palestinian people a lot of time and effort if it takes advantage from the formation of the new government to change its political language, particularly as it has accepted this government's program that includes respect for the resolutions of international legitimacy, the agreements signed by the PLO, and also the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 territories.

What does this government program really mean? In a clear Arabic language, it means recognizing that there are two states, one of them Israel. It means negotiating the last solution with Israel. In plain Arabic, it means Hamas's recognition of Israel as a state and the political process as a procedure.

There is an attempt to make the people believe that Hamas has not recognized Israel or the Oslo agreement as evidenced from statements by some of its leaders on a number of satellite news channels, which is inconsistent with the new government's program that Hamas approved.

We realize that there is a problem between Hamas and its public and members. The movement's bases have been politically educated for many years to refuse to recognize Israel and to consider the resistance, not negotiating, the only route to liberation. There is a broad religious utilization of these utterances and incitement against the PLO and the Fatah movement "which betrayed" the Palestinian cause by its signing of the Oslo agreements and the White House meetings between the leaders of Palestine and Israel.

The Hamas leadership has a chance to tell its bases the truth with courage. Since it has become convinced of the political program for negotiating and respecting the international agreements, then it must make this the political conduct of all its leaders and stop the distribution of roles between hard-line hawks talking to the street and the movement's bases and doves talking in another language to the international community. If Hamas acts boldly and clearly, it will create a solid ground for ending the unfair blockade on the Palestinians, put Israel in an embarrassing position, drive the peace process forward, and find real backing from the entire international community.

Hamas has new obligations that it must not avoid. There is no exit other than to stop talking with two different languages and facing the new facts with courage. The Palestinians have come of age and learned from their bitter experience that political clarity and political initiative are the only way for retrieving the rights and embarrassing Israel and that playing with words or stands are one of the main reasons for the cause's retreat and repeated defeats.

Ahmadinejad on preventing evolution through ballyhoo

Can you spot the sentence that refers to the Holocaust? From IRIB:
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in a message, congratulated the nation on the occasion of Nowruz, the new year saying today the Islamic Republic of Iran and Iranians are renowned worldwide as symbols of morality, faith, piety, kindness, unity and firmness.

Referring to measures taken by certain big powers and the psychological warfare waged by them to obtain their illegitimate interests including distortion of history, making films to mar the image of Iran and Iranians and other nations, he said, "They have been defeated in the face of the strong logic of the Iranian nation and have been ostracized by other nations, too.

"They intend to prevent progress of the Iranian nation and other nations by waging psychological warfare and through efforts to misuse organizations they have created themselves and are ruling over them by way of monopoly," he added.

The President said that the problem of the world today is a handful of racist Zionists who intend to keep the world in a state of hardship, poverty and hostility by appropriation of power and media centers in order to stabilize their rule.

"The Iranian nation is opposed to this process and is firmly sticking to its legitimate stance. They, however, are not aware that they have risen to challenge human values, human civilizations and nations, the Iranian nation in particular, with their defeated mechanisms," he said.
I think we have a Juche sentence of the day.
The President stressed that the enemies are well aware that they cannot hurt the Iranian nation but are trying to force us retreat through ballyhoo and in this way prevent human evolution.

"Surely they cannot attain their wishes and the best way for them is to attest to the rights of the Iranian nation and giving in to law and justice.
Times like these call for the "Powered by IRIB" button.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Islam Online: "the world's first Muslim superheroes"

I am not posting this to sneer at it. I mean, you could have a lot of fun at the expense of Widad the Loving, but perhaps this is something positive.
The world is always in need of saving. It could not be any more obvious, being a recurring theme in many of the stories that we human beings create. It is the stuff of mythology and folklore and, in these modern times, of comic books. The comic book industry has thrived on heroes with extraordinary abilities who save entire cities and fight against the forces of evil that threaten to destroy the world. Sometimes they do it single-handedly like Superman and Spiderman, with side-kicks like Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder, or as a big group like the Justice League or the X-Men.

The 99 fits in just beautifully. They're a big - and still growing - group of teenagers and adults with super powers. They've got the funky outfits and hairdos. Most of them have either mysterious or angst-filled backgrounds. Looking at them is like looking at the United Nations: You've got one from every corner of the world. And the thing that makes them truly unique? They are the world's first Muslim superheroes.

The characters are based on Middle Eastern and Islamic cultures. The 99, apart from being the name of the series, also refers to the 99 attributes of God which the characters will personify. Yet only 70 characters will be introduced, says series creator Naif Al-Mutawa, because only God possesses all 99 qualities. The characters are in search of the 99 Noor Stones scattered all over the world centuries ago when the dome of the Great Fortress of Knowledge exploded as King Ferdinand of Spain's troops approached the stronghold in Granada. Dr. Ramzi Razem is a present-day psychiatrist who has made it his life's work to find these precious gems and the people who possess them, in the hopes that he can teach these chosen ones to harness their new-found powers for good, both within themselves and in the world.

Another thing that makes The 99 distinctive is that they do not use weapons, but instead use the gifts they are given. Take for instance Jabbar the Powerful, who has superhuman strength; Widad the Loving, who can induce good feelings in others by controling chemical processes in the brain; Noora the Light, who has the power to see the truth, and Hidayeh the Guide, who is like a human GPS feeling for the right direction and finding uncharted places. The superheroes work in threes, and because of the diversity of cultures and powers among them, the message of tolerance and acceptance is highlighted. Also, none of the heroes have more than one power: Every character manifests one of the powers of God but to a much lesser degree. [...]

Efraim Karsh on Arafat's Egyptian Accent

This is from Arafat's War: The Man and his Battle for Israeli Conquest; New York: Grove Press, 2003, pp. 11-12:
. . . during his decades at the helm of the PLO, Arafat has never been able to overcome the widespread displeasure among the organization's rank and file with his strong Egyptian accent. Dialects and accents constitute a central element of collective identity in Arab societies, not least among Palestinians with their persistent sense of loss and the attendant attempt to construct a national consciousness. Every Arab can detect, on the basis of dialect, accent, or intonation, his interlocutor's regional origin, and Arafat's accent leaves little doubt as to his Egyptian, rather than Palestinian origin. Salah Khalaf (better known by his nom de guerre, Abu Iyad), Arafat's close associate throughout their political careers, recalled his deep dismay at discovering, during their first meeting in Cairo in the 1950s, the heavy Egyptian accent of an aspiring chairman of the Palestinian student union. He wasn't the only one to feel this way. When in the spring of 1966 Arafat was arrested by the Syrian authorities for involvement in the murder of a Palestinian activist, Abu Iyad rushed to Damascus together with his fellow Fatah leader Farouq Qaddoumi, to secure his release. In a meeting with General Hafez al-Assad, then Syria's defense minister, the two were confronted with a virulent tirade against Arafat. "You're fooled that he is a Palestinian," Assad said. "He isn't. He's an Egyptian agent." This was a devastating charge, especially in the light of the acrimonious state of Egyptian-Syrian relations at that time, and one that rested solely on Arafat's Egyptian dialect. Yet for Assad this was sufficient indictment. "You can go to Mezza [the prison} and take [him] away," he said eventually. "But remember one thing: I do not trust Arafat and I never will." Assad was true to his word until his death on June 10, 2000.

Such is the extent of Arafat's sensitivity to his Egyptian origin that in his meetings with his subjects in the West Bank and Gaza, whom he has come to rule since the mid-1990s as part of the Oslo process, he is regularly accompanied by an aide who whispers in his ear the correct words in Palestinian Arabic whenever the chairman is overtaken by his Egyptian dialect.

Monday, March 19, 2007

George Soros on "The Blunder"

George Soros's article "On Israel, America and AIPAC," which advocates "demolishing the wall of silence that has protected AIPAC," is receiving a lot of attention currently in the blogosphere. The following excerpt, describing "The Blunder," will give you the flavor of it:
[...] Then came the blunder I am talking about. Israel, with the strong backing of the United States, refused to recognize the democratically elected Hamas government and withheld payment of the millions in taxes collected by the Israelis on its behalf. This caused great economic hardship and undermined the ability of the government to function. But it did not reduce popular support for Hamas among Palestinians, and it reinforced the position of Islamic and other extremists who oppose negotiations with Israel. The situation deteriorated to the point where Palestine no longer had an authority with whom it would have been possible for Israel to negotiate.

This was a blunder because Hamas is not monolithic. Its inner structure is little known to outsiders but according to some reports it has a military wing, largely directed from Damascus, which is beholden to its Syrian and Iranian sponsors and a political wing which is more responsive to the needs of the Palestinian population that elected it to power. If Israel had accepted the results of the election, that might have strengthened the more moderate political wing. Unfortunately the ideology of the "war on terror" does not permit such subtle distinctions. Nevertheless, subsequent events provide some ground for believing that Hamas has been divided between different tendencies. It was not willing to go so far as to recognize the existence of Israel but it was prepared to enter into a government of national unity which would have abided by the existing agreements with Israel. No sooner was agreement reached than the military wing engineered the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier, Corporal Gilad Shalit, which had the effect of preventing such a government from being formed by provoking a heavy-handed military response from Israel. Hezbollah then used the opportunity to stage an incursion from Lebanon across the internationally recognized border, kidnapping several more Israeli soldiers. Despite a disproportionate response by Israel, Hezbollah was able to stand its ground, thereby gaining the admiration of the Arab masses, whether Sunni or Shia. [...]
The idea of a division into a "political wing" and "military wing" suggests specialization and this notion is often used to try to absolve terrorist leaders of responsibility for terrorist acts. Soros's novel twist on the "wings" idea is to present it as factionalism. I suppose Soros would associate Mashaal with that "military wing" which is "directed from Damascus," but he is usually described as the "head" or "chairman" of the Hamas "political bureau." Oh well.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Mehr News: "Plots," "Crazy Moves," and the "Train of Resolutions"

"Iranian general warns enemy not to make any crazy moves":
Army Commander Major General Ataollah Salehi said here on Friday that if the bullying enemy wants to do something “crazy” it will surely be surprised by the firepower of the Iranian armed forces.

“Now, Iran’s defense capabilities are incomparable to the time of the Sacred Defense (1980-88 Iran-Iraq war),” Salehi said at an inauguration ceremony for the new projects of the army ground forces.

The Iranian military has developed a new air defense system with a boosted ability to hit targets by firing two missiles simultaneously, AFP quoted Iranian state radio as saying.

“This new air defense system which can shoot one or two missiles simultaneously... has been designed by army ground forces and tested successfully,” the report continued.

“It has high mobility and flexibility and can pursue aerial targets in any type of weather. Simultaneous firing increases the chances of defense missiles hitting” their targets, state radio said.
"'Train of resolutions' can be stopped through unity":
Supreme National Security Council Deputy Secretary Javad Vaeedi believes that the “train of resolutions” against Iran can be stopped if Iran’s nuclear officials and citizens maintain unity and make earnest efforts to prevent other UN Security Council resolutions from being adopted.

“The resolutions are meant to pressure the country from the inside, but if the Westerners see that they have no effect on the will of the Iranian people and government, they will be neutralized,” Vaeedi told the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) in an interview published on Friday.

The Security Council’s five veto-wielding permanent members -- Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States -– plus Germany agreed on a package of broader UN sanctions against Iran on Thursday.

UN ambassadors from the six countries announced a deal on a new sanctions resolution that was submitted to the Security Council's 10 non-permanent members ahead of a vote expected next week.

Vaeedi said that if the world powers feel that the adoption of a resolution cannot divert Iranians from their path, “they will give it up.”[...]

Opposing the Islamic Republic is the United States’ standard policy, he said, adding, “One day they supported Saddam Hussein in his attack on Iran, the next day they downed an Iranian passenger airliner, and now they want to pressure us to halt our nuclear program.

“They said ‘no’ to our Islamic Revolution, resistance, and territorial integrity, but we stood against them firmly.” [...]
"U.S. behind all problems in Mideast":
Expediency Council Chairman Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said here on Thursday that the United States is behind all problems in the Middle East region.

“The problems in the regional countries especially in Iraq stem from U.S. plots to create division and today we can see the United States behind all problems in the region,” he said during a meting with Syrian Prime Minister Muhammad Naji al-Utri.

The two officials held talks on major regional issues especially Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine.

Rafsanjani said that formation of joint committees and exchange of delegations can help Iran and Syria boost cooperation on oil and automobile industries, agriculture, and transportation.

The former president added Tehran, Damascus, and Baghdad have great potential for cooperation to boost security and stability in Iraq.

Al-Utri said Damascus is keen to use Iran’s industrial and scientific experiences in all areas.
Tags: Iran, Syria, Iraq, nukes

Linkim 3/18/07

Haveil Havalim 110 is up! Carnival of the Insanities is up!

Treppenwitz explains "The value of perspective."

Martin Kramer urges Jacob Weissberg to "Apologize to Bernard Lewis."

EOZ reports "Peaceful PalArabs attack UNRWA chief. Reuters downplays it."

Joel Mowbray: "U.S.-financed Al-Hurra is becoming a platform for terrorists."*

Bradley Burston: "The Plot: Use the UN to rid the world of Israel"**

Daily Kos: "US faces tough choices in Palestine"

Daily Kos: "How Barack Obama learned to love Israel"

Daily Kos: "The last Israel-Palestine diary we ever need"

Arab News: "Muslims Mute on Terrorism?"

*(h/t: Captain's Quarters) **(h/t: DTPW)

Al Ahram: "Remember who built Jerusalem"

Al Ahram gives full credence here to all the hysteria about the current construction around the Temple Mount. The final paragraphs contain a remarkable comparison of current Israeli activities to the destruction of the Buddha statues in Afghanistan and also mention ancient hiroglyphic references to "'the Plast people'", clearly the Palestinians":
[...] The secretary-general of the 57-member Islamic Conference Organisation (ICO), Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, yesterday expressed his anguish and dismay at the world's silence on Israel's blatant moves to "Judaise" Jerusalem and change the holy city's historic character. The ICO was formally established in September 1969 after the burning of Al-Aqsa Mosque.

"When the Buddhist statues were being demolished in Bamiyan, the whole world rose up against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan," Ihsanoglu said in an exclusive interview with Arab News yesterday. "UNESCO was very active then, but not a word is being said against what Israel is doing to the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Nobody utters a word against the Israeli aggression. Nobody is really taking any action. There is silence all over."

Ali Radwan, head of the General Arab Union for Archaeologists, told Al-Ahram Weekly that Israel's encroachment upon Al-Aqsa Mosque had not been sporadic, but, rather, a systematic endeavour that began when it occupied Jerusalem, an attempt to change the cultural history of the city and rewrite its past.

Over the last 50 years Israel has made continuous attempts to rewrite the cultural history of the Middle East. Back in 2001, two years after enrolling as a member of the World Heritage Committee, Israel submitted an official request to place 28 Palestinian sites on its World Heritage list as belonging to Israel, among them the historic Arab city of Jerusalem. The move was naturally contested by Arab countries because it went against international law -- including the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, and the International Convention of the Protection of International Cultural and Natural Heritage of 1972. Israel nevertheless succeeded in registering three areas as its own: the old city of Acre, the Bow Houses in Tel-Aviv, and the Roman fortress at Masada. Two further attempts were made three years ago. One concerned the countries that fall within the Great Rift Valley, and the other Jerusalem.

Radwan announced that according to historical evidence "Rowa-Lem- Shem-Yem" or Jerusalem, is an Ancient Egyptian word, written in hieroglyphs in manuscripts and documents dating back to the reign of the Middle Kingdom Pharaoh Senusert III, about 1830 BC. This is much earlier than any existing Hebrew texts. References to the "the Plast people", clearly the Palestinians, are found written in hieroglyphics in New Kingdom manuscripts. Rowa-Lem-Shem-Yem means a city of Canaanite origin and does not mean Jewish or Hebrew land. Radwan pointed out that Jerusalem was completely destroyed in 70AD by Titus, son of the Roman emperor Vespasian and that Emperor Hadrian prohibited any Jew from entering Jerusalem.
So "Plastic" would mean "pertaining to Palestinians"?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Further Shameless Neocon Exploitation of Benny Morris: The Grand Rock-throwing Tradition

We continue with something I didn't know about rock-throwing. From Righteous Victims, p. 11:
At least initially, Jews may have been concentrated in the late Middle Ages in urban mellahs (ghettos) for their own protection, but this segregation was certainly also a sign of their isolation and marginality. Certainly the mellahs established in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were founded with the intent of ostracism rather than protection. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries the Jews of Ottoman Islam prospered in comparison with their coreligionists in Western Europe. But during the following centuries the condition of the Jews grew increasingly debased and precarious as the empire grew progressively weaker and, as a result, less tolerant, prey to the European powers baying at its heels. A Western traveler spoke of the Jews as "the. . . most degraded of the Turkish non-believer communities. . . their pusillanimity is so excessive, that they will flee before the uplifted hand of a child. . . a sterling proof of the effects of oppression."

One measure and symbol of Jewish degradation was the common phenomenon--amounting in certain places, such as Yemen and Morocco, to a local custom--of stone-throwing at Jews by Muslim children. A nineteenth-century Western traveler wrote: "I have seen a little fellow of six years old, with a troop of fat toddlers of only three and four, teaching [them] to throw stones at a Jew, and one little urchin would, with the greatest coolness, waddle up to the man and literally spit upon his Jewish gabardine. To all this the Jew is to submit; it would be more than his life was worth to offer to strike a Mahommedan."
(The photo does not appear in Righteous Victims, of course. Aussie Dave's blog was useful for verifying that the person in the photo is indeed Edward Said.)