Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Gut Yom Tov!

Sukkos is called "Zeman Simchaseinu"--the "time of our rejoicing." Thus, the holiday is particularly associated with rejoicing, and I hope you have an especially joyous one. I usually don't post on Chol Hamo'eid--see you after Simchas Torah.

Monday, September 20, 2010

ISNA: "Iranians stage protest rally against brutal Quran burning"

They're taking out their anger on the English language:
Massive turnouts staged protest gatherings in Tehran to show wrath against barbarous measure of Quran burning by some extremists in the US.

The marchers including education staff, merchants, Quran activists and some Judiciary staff chanted "God is Great", "Any Muslim's Silence is Treachery to Quran" and "Islam is the Victorious, the US is Annihilated."

Demonstrations were held in different parts in Tehran.

Also Iranian Deputy Minister of Education taking part in a rally, said "Muslims will take large steps, the measure (burning Quran) promoted willingness towards Quran, Iranian nation has created a situation that leaves no fame for White House officials."
Glad they clarified that.
He also called for Muslim countries and freedom-seeking people to stand against the failed move.
That is one of the most Iranian-sounding sentences I have ever read.
Also Iranian students staged a massive gathering in Tehran on Monday to show wrath and fury against barbarous Quran burning.

The gathering came in front of Swiss embassy which represents the US interests following Quran burning on September 11.

Iranian students were carrying posters and placards which read "Down with the US", "Down with Zionist Regime","Down With Enemies of Quran" and "The God Is Great."

They also crashed a symbolic coffin on which it was written liberal democracy.

The brutal insult to the Holy Quran met with anger and severe criticism from Iranian officials.
They couldn't muster wrath and fury?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sacramento Co-Op rejects Israel boycott?

According to Sacramento News and Review:
Matzo and bath salts are stirring up controversy over at the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op, where a fraction of its 12,000 owner-members is moving to boycott products that come from Israel . . .

Len Feldman, director of the Sacramento JCRC, cited a study in which 80 percent of SNFC owners surveyed opposed boycotts for political ends.

“You have a small group of people trying to turn Co-op members into political pawns,” he said outside of the meeting.

A five member Co-op policy committee will investigate the boycott request for the next three months. The committee will make a recommendation to the Co-op board for a final decision
I looked at the Co-Op's website and found the following:
From the "Committee reports" section of "August 2010 Approved Minutes . . . Board of Directors Meeting":
Policy Committee: The committee unanimously voted against joining the proposed boycott of Israeli products sold in the store.
(Ahem, hat tip: Angry Arab)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Yom Kippur

Gemar Chasimah Tovah!

Easy Fast!

Here is "Yom Kippur in a Nutshell" from
Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year--the day on which we are closest to G‑d and to the quintessence of our own souls. It is the Day of Atonement -- "For on this day He will forgive you, to purify you, that you be cleansed from all your sins before G‑d" (Leviticus 16:30).

For twenty-six hours--from several minutes before sunset on Tishrei 9 to after nightfall on Tishrei 10--we "afflict our souls": we abstain from food and drink, do not wash or anoint our bodies, do not wear leather shoes, and abstain from marital relations.

Before Yom Kippur we perform the Kaparot atonement service; we request and receive honey cake, in acknowledgement that we are all recipients in G-d's world and in prayerful hope for a sweet and abundant year; eat a festive meal, immerse in a mikvah, and give extra charity. Late afternoon we eat the pre-fast meal, following which we bless our children, light a memorial candle as well as the holiday candles, and go to the synagogue for Kol Nidrei services.

In the course of Yom Kippur we hold five prayer services: Maariv, with its solemn Kol Nidrei service, on the eve of Yom Kippur; Shacharit--the morning prayer; Musaf, which includes a detailed account of the Yom Kippur Temple service; Minchah, which includes the reading of the Book of Jonah; and Ne'illah, the "closing of the gates" service at sunset. We say the Al Chet confession of sins eight times in the course of Yom Kippur, and recite Psalms every available moment.

The day is the most solemn of the year, yet an undertone of joy suffuses it: a joy that revels in the spirituality of the day and expresses the confidence that G-d will accept our repentance, forgive our sins, and seal our verdict for a year of life, health and happiness. When the closing Ne'illah service climaxes in the resounding cries of "Hear O Israel... G-d is one" and a single blast of the shofar, followed by the proclamation, "Next year in Jerusalem." Then joy erupts in song and dance (a Chabad custom is to sing the lively "Napoleon's March"), followed by the festive after-fast meal, making the evening after Yom Kippur a Yom Tov (festival) in its own right.
Have a good sweet year!

Would Angry Arab post this if a Muslim had said it?

Just wondering:
Elie Frizli (a pro-Syrian sectarian Greek Orthodox politician, and a former deputy speaker of the parliament) yesterday said that the American minister in Gainesville, Florida who wanted to burn the Qur'an is in fact a "rabbi who had worked in a synagogue." He said so on NBN TV.

Ayatollah Jannati on the "Satanic Step" and more!

Every Ayatollah gets a turn:
Tehran's provisional Friday Prayers Leader Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati condemned the recent insult to the Holy Quran in the US, and stressed that the move is a sign of US weakness.

"Do you think the Quran belongs to Iran that you torch it?" Ayatollah Jannati said, addressing a large and fervent congregation of people on Tehran University campus.

"The Qur'an belongs to 1.5 billion Muslims and belongs to one generation after the other until the Judgment Day," Ayatollah Jannati stressed.

Elsewhere, Ayatollah Jannati blamed the 9/11 attacks on arrogant masterminds who intended to defame Islam, and stated, "They fabricated the 9/11 but opinion polls indicate 84 percent of American people believed the [US] administration itself is behind this move (the 9/11 attacks)." [...]
The secret is out. There never were any twin towers . . .

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Book desecrated on 9/11 turns out to be Merriam-Webster Official Scrabble Player's Dictionary, Fourth Edition

Seventeen civilians, including a woman and a police constable, were killed and many more injured in eight different incidents of firing by police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) after protests broke out across the occupied Kashmir on Sunday against alleged desecration of the holy Quran in New York. Protesters turned violent at certain places and torched government buildings besides a Christian missionary school. Protests began after an Iranian News Channel, Press TV, broadcast the images of desecration on Saturday evening and the clippings were circulated among the Internet users through the Facebook and other social networking sites. The IHK government has now banned the TV channel. “The transmission of Press TV in held Jammu and Kashmir has been banned with immediate effect,” occupied J&K’s state chief secretary SS Kapur said in a news conference.

As soon as the news of the desecration spread, protests began in the city outskirts and rural areas that continued throughout the night. Slogans condemning the desecration and in support of independence were heard from mosque loudspeakers at several places across the valley. The government had earlier clamped down a strict curfew across Srinagar and six major towns in the valley after three government offices were torched on Eid. As soon as the day began, protests broke out with people taking to the streets and defying curfew at many places.

Five persons were killed in north held Kashmir Tangmarg town when protesters torched a Christian missionary school and several government installations. Later, the mob ransacked the local police station. Police fired at the mob, injuring several of them. Five of them later succumbed to their injuries.

Sources told our sources that an inflammatory speech by a ruling National Conference worker instigated the people that had assembled in the town from neighbouring villages. "It all went out of control. There was so much of violence," said Abdul Razak, a local resident. "I have not seen so much of violence ever in this place, and now it turns out it was all over a Scrabble Dictionary." [...]
Source: PakTribune, additional reporting by Yitz.

Fars News: "Judiciary Chief Warns about Zionists' New Plot against Divine Religions"

This is going to dominate the Iranian Press for some time:
Iran's Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani cautioned that the recent insult to the Holy Quran in the US was part of a new plot hatched by international Zionism against all divine religions.

"Followers of the Abrahamic religions should be vigilant that a new plot is being hatched by international Zionism. Insult to Quran is (indeed) insult to all the divine religions," Ayatollah Larijani said in a message issued on Tuesday, condemning the desecration of the Muslims' holy book on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in the US.

Ayatollah Larijani stressed that desecration of the Holy Quran in front of the White House was "a premeditated act in line with Islamophobia and confrontation with Islam-seeking movements of the world oppressed nations", and reiterated that the move was in fact "an insult to all divine and Abrahamic beliefs". [...]
Funny, I am an adherent of the first and only authentic Abrahamic faith, and I don't feel the slightest bit insulted.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Another detail of the Koran desecration conspiracy comes to light

Tehran Times:
Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Fazel Lankarani says such a vicious plan was drawn up by the CIA and Israeli security services.

The Supreme Leader connects the dots

From Mehr News:
Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei issued a statement on Monday censuring the desecration of the Quran, saying the global arrogance has launched a fight against Islam and Quran . . .

The Leader said the “mad and hateful” action of burning the Quran in the United States before the eyes of police is a bitter incident which cannot be simply attributed to a stupid move by some mercenary elements.

"It was a thought-out move that was started years ago by centers that have put Islamophobia and anti-Islamism on their agenda and launched a campaign against Islam and the Quran through hundreds of ways and thousands of propagandistic tools and operations," he explained.

This is another link in a chain of sinister acts which was started by the treason of apostate Salman Rushdie and continued with the move of the wicked Danish cartoonist and tens of anti-Islam films in Hollywood and now it has reached this hateful show," he noted.

America: Scourge of Islamophobes

I trust this will lead to massive pro-US rallies in Iran:
A would-be Koran-burner in Amarillo, Texas was foiled by a 23-year-old Texas skateboarder named Jacob Isom, who was among a group of people protesting a planned burning on Saturday. As Isom described it: "I snuck up behind him and took his Koran, he said something about burning the Koran, I said 'Dude you have no Koran,' and ran off."
(h/t: Discarded Lies)

The Koran burning may have fizzled, but Iran over-reacts anyway

Here is the IRNA article. IRNA is Iran's most official news-agency, but this one doesn't even attempt to couch the reaction in tolerant-sounding gloop about "respecting divine religions":
Thousands of angry university protestors staged a protest in front of Swiss embassy in Tehran on Monday to condemn desecration of Holy Quran which injured sentiments of the world Muslims.

The angry university students set fire to US flag and trampled upon a coffin postured as “liberal democracy”.

These students chanted various mottos and slogans such as Allaho Akbar (God is the greatest), Death to America, Death to Israel and Death to Zionists.

They also carried placards in support of the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution vowing to sacrifice their lives whether the Supreme Leader issues decree of Jihad against infidels.
Fars News has three headlines on its main page about the "Satanic Step," including this one, informing us that "US Quran-Burning Plan Aims to Hide Real Causes of 9/11 Incident":
The US plan for burning Muslims' divine book on the 9/11 anniversary is a move to divert attention of the public opinion from the real causes of the incident, a high-ranking Iranian military official said on Monday.

"The event (burning the holy Quran) rather than being a reaction to Muslims is a tool to prevent the American people from gathering any further knowledge about the September 11 incident," Head of the Foundation for the Remembrance and Promotion of the Holy Defense's Values Brigadier General Seyed Mohammad Baqerzadeh told FNA.

Baqerzadeh reiterated that 9 years after the September 11 incident in 2001, the American people have grown more aware of the hidden facts behind the incident and realized that different US administrations have lied to them in the last 9 years to wage different wars in the Middle East. [...]
At IRIB, Larijani threatens a "crushing response":
Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani said today that the US awaits a crushing response from world Muslims in case sacrilege continues against Islamic sanctities.

According to IRNA, in a message to his counterparts of Muslim states, he strongly criticized the insult to the holy Qur'an, saying if Washington does not abandon support for these savage acts, it must expect a crushing response from the Islamic ummah.

Dr. Larijani urged his counterparts of Muslim states to coordinate a decisive reaction to the desecration of the holy Qur'an in the US. [...]

The Majlis Speaker, warning US authorities of the impending doom if they fail to take appropriate measures on the issue, he said the recent sacrilege to the Islamic sanctities has hurt the religious and spiritual sentiments of over 1.5 billion Muslims all over the globe. [...]
Also at IRIB, a spokesman for Iranian Jews, demonstrating a clear grasp of what is expected of him, declares that the Koran is "as holy as Torah":
Representative of Esfahan's Jewish community, Sion Mahgerefteh, declared outrage of the province's community over desecration of Muslims holy book in several US states.

In a statement issued on Monday, Mahgerefteh said even raising the very issue of burning the Koran which is as holy as Torah and Bible, is blasphemous in view of all divine religions.

The statement added, Esfahan's Jewish community condemns this offensive act of a few unwise people who are only after sowing discord among religions without any knowledge about a solid association between divine faiths.
IRIB also has an article about how Iran's Christians condemn the "blasphemous action." Meanwhile, the NY Times reports that protests in Afghanistan have already claimed two lives. The irony, of course, is that if Muslims go into apocalyptic rage at the mere thought that a few non-Muslims in the West, denounced in advance by Western leaders, might disrespect them, then the West can hardly be guilty of any offense against mutual respect. It would be nice to see some examples of Muslim, or even Mainstream Media, ability to grasp this.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

Sunday, September 12, 2010

AP: "Fellow Americans' suspicions frustrate US Muslims"

According to the first three sentences:
Nine years of denouncing terrorism, of praying side-by-side with Jews and Christians, of insisting "I'm American, too." None of it could stop a season of hate against Muslims that made for an especially fraught Sept. 11. Now, Muslims are asking why their efforts to be accepted in the United States have been so easily thwarted. [...]
If only the media could fawn over them even more than this article . . .

Fars News: "Iranian FM Warns Washington to Show Reaction to Insults to Holy Quran"

Great title. We also learn that "The minster blamed Zionists for such provocative moves."
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki on Sunday lambasted Washington's inaction in the face of the burning and tearing of the holy Quran on the 9/11 anniversary in the US, and asked the US statesmen to take a clear stance on the insult to the Muslims' divine book.

"American statesmen and authorities should give a clear answer to the Muslim nations over this bold and insulting act," Mottaki told reporters in a joint press conference with his Malawian counterpart here in Tehran today.

The minster blamed Zionists for such provocative moves, which he said are aimed at sowing discord among believers of different faiths and religions.

He further warned about the negative consequences of insult to the values of 1.5 billion Muslims, and said, "This seed of hatred sown by the West and its resulting fire will cause trouble for them themselves."

The remark by the Iranian foreign minister came after a group of conservative Christians have sent shock waves across the world after they tore the pages of Quran outside the White House. They tore the pages from an English paperback edition of the Holy Book.

Also some blasphemers in the US on Saturday took the satanic step of burning some copies of God's final and most comprehensive revelation to mankind, the Qur'an, and posted video clips of their devilish deed on the net.

The blasphemer appeared near the location of the twin-tower centre in New York and set ablaze a copy of Quran in front of the camera.

Several photographers, cameramen and others took pictures and clips of the blasphemous act carried out under the protection of FBI on the pretext of freedom of action.

The move has shocked the civilized world and hurt the sentiments of over 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide and billions of other believers.
I hear the Hindus are really broken up about it.

Michael Moore wants the Temple Mount returned to Jewish control

That's what he is saying, right?
And I believe in an America that says to the world that we are a loving and generous people and if a bunch of murderers steal your religion from you and use it as their excuse to kill 3,000 souls, then I want to help you get your religion back. And I want to put it at the spot where it was stolen from you.

What a little Peach Juice can do . . .

He's lucky she was French. If she had been Spanish, he would now be one of the world's most influential Scientologists. From MPAC-UK:
It was the sight of peach juice dripping from the chin of a teenage French female nudist, that led a Cambridgeshire public schoolboy to convert to Islam. Thirty-five years later, Timothy Winter – or Sheikh Abdul-Hakim Murad, as he is known to his colleagues , has been named one of the world's most influential Muslims.

The hitherto unnoticed Mr Winter, who has an office in Cambridge University's Divinity Faculty, where he is the Shaykh Zayed Lecturer of Islamic Studies, has been listed ahead of the presidents of Iran and Egypt, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, and the chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, Mahmoud Abbas. "Strange bedfellows," he concedes.
Everyone knows the greatest influence on Ahamadinejad was a glass of pear juice . . .

Saturday, September 11, 2010

"The Islamic Iran turned into an illuminant constellation," but the headline is "Palestinians will cut hand of Zionists"

IRIB's account of the Supreme Leader's Eid al-Fitr speech. We learn that "the hopeful and motivated Iranian nation would indeed reach all apexes of dignity and honor" and then comes the attack on Israel:
The Islamic Iran turned into an illuminant constellation of worshippers to God Friday as the faithful Iranian people thronged in mosques or grounds of worship countrywide to ask God in their Eid al-Fitr prayers to confer His blessings on the nation as it once conferred on the noblest messenger of Allah Hazrat Muhammad (S.A.) and his immaculate household.

In Tehran, the landmark prayers ceremony was led by the Islamic Revolution Leader Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei in the campus of Tehran University, downtown Tehran.

Ayatollah Khamenei in his post-prayer speech said spirituality and monotheism have been institutionalized in the hearts of Iranian people and thereby the nation would be successful in all arenas.

Ayatollah Khamenei also noted that the blessing of understanding the virtues of the Month of Divine Feast was a large blessing.

Ayatollah Khamenei began the second part of his speech by appreciating a sense of dignity and resolution people from different strata of society or ranks showed in their separate pre-iftar meetings with the Leader during the month of Ramadan, adding that the hopeful and motivated Iranian nation would indeed reach all apexes of dignity and honor.

Ayatollah Khamenei then thanked the nation for its high turnout in the International Quds Day rallies, adding that world domineering powers seek to marginalize the issue of Palestine but the auspicious Quds Day ceremonies showed that Muslims worldwide, led by the Iranian nation, are filled with hope and enthusiasm.

“31 years have passed since the day the late Imam designated the day as the Quds Day. Enemies expected that the Day would lose its importance with the passage of time but to no avail. Their intentions to marginalize the Quds Day further motivated the Iranian nation to mark the occasion,” he said.

Ayatollah Khamenei then called the Palestinian issue as the number one issue of the world of Islam and denounced the ongoing 'peace' talks in Washington, saying “The so-called peace conference aims to cover up Zionist regime’s crimes."

"The US and the West have sat idle, witnessing suppression of the Palestinian nation and holding a session for peace. What a kind of peace? Which peace? With which parties? Will such peace have any meaning in light of the realities on the ground in the occupied Palestine?” he added.

Ayatollah Khamenei called the Zionist regime's judaization of Quds as a large atrocity and called on the Islamic natuons and governments to live up to their duties in countering against the conspiracy.

Calling the Palestinian nation a strong nation that stands pressures, the IR Leader said Palestinians can cut hands of the aggressor and put an end to the fake Zionist regime’s presence in the land of Palestine. [...]
I wonder if the usual Khomeinist Two-Minutes' Hate is doing such a good job these days of distracting the Iranians from the jackboots on their necks. In a similar vein, according to a current offering from Fars News: "President Describes Quran Burning Plan as 'Zionist Plot'":
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad described the plan of a Florida evangelical church for burning Muslims' divine book on the 9/11 anniversary as "a Zionist plot" that will accelerate the collapse of the Zionists.

President Ahmadinejad said Friday that Florida Pastor Terry Jones' plans to torch Quran was a "Zionist plot, and against the teachings of all divine prophets."

"The Zionists and their supporters are on the path to collapse and decline and such desperate actions will not save them, but will accelerate their fall and annihilation," Ahmadinejad said during a meeting between Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei and senior Iranian officials in Tehran.

Meantime, thousands of demonstrators here in Tehran voiced their strong protest at US priest's Quran burning plan.

The demonstrators shouted slogans against the US and Israel, urging Muslim unity to prevent the desecration of other Islamic sanctities by Zionists.

The protesters carried placards and banners displaying messages of respect for all prophets and saying that they would respond to the violation of Islamic sanctities by the Zionists through showing respect for the prophets.
I, for one, highly resent the notion that a Zionist Plot would involve anything as crude and obvious as burning Korans. We don't burn Korans, we infiltrate them. At least the Fars story comes with a swell picture of Gangsta-'Moud.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Rosh Hashanah: The blowing of the Shofar

The central observance of Rosh Hashanah is the blowing of the shofar. The famous chassidic sage Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev explains the significance of the shofar with a parable. From
A king was once traveling in the forest and lost his way, until he met a man who recognized that he was the king and escorted his master out of the forest and back to his palace. The king later rewarded him with many presents, and elevated him to a powerful minister's post.

After a while, however, the man committed an act which was considered rebellious against the king, and he was sentenced to death. Before he was taken out to be executed, the king granted him one last request.

The man said: “I request to wear the clothes I wore when I escorted His Majesty when he was lost in the forest, and that His Majesty should also wear the clothes he wore then.”

The king complied, and when they were both dressed in the garments they wore at the time of their meeting, he said, “By your life, you have saved yourself,” and called off the execution.

The meaning of the parable is that when G-d gave the Torah to Israel, he offered it first to all the nations of the world. They all refused, except the people of Israel, who willingly accepted the yoke of Heaven and fulfilled the commandments of the Creator.

But now we have transgressed and rebelled, like the man in the parable, and with the arrival of the Day of Judgment we are fearful indeed. So we blow the shofar to recall the shofar blowing that accompanied our original acceptance of the Torah and coronation of G-d. This merit stands by us, and G-d forgives us all our sins and inscribes us immediately for a year of goodness and life.
May you be sealed and inscribed for a good and sweet year!

Monday, September 06, 2010

Some Brief Items

The Guardian has another (fairly negative) review of Martin Gilbert's In Ishmael's House. This reviewer claims the following:
the great Moses Maimonides was one who temporarily converted to Islam to escape death during that period . . .
I don't believe it, but I think the claim is made in Muslim sources, and here is another example of it being given recent currency. Anyone have a Jewish source that refutes the claim?

EOZ has a post about that Time "Why Israel Doesn't Care about Peace" cover (and article). So does Mere Rhetoric, along with some earlier covers.

According to Ynet:
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas threatened to halt the recently launched direct talks with Israel should he be pressed to make concessions regarding the 1967 borders, the return of Palestinian refugees and other issues.

"I'll grab my briefcase and leave," he said Monday during an official visit to Libya.
Glad to hear it. If Abbas is going to be inflexible about the "right of return," then maybe Bibi can be trusted not to give away the farm. And not giving away the farm probably means that the only possible favorable outcome is no agreement at all. I can't figure out what Bibi thinks he is doing.

Remember all the Israel-bashing about the case of "rape-by-deception"? Yaakov Lozowick informs us that it is "Time to Demand Retractions." Victor Shikhman, the author Lozowick links to, we learn, is "demanding an apology from Andrew Sullivan, which is unlikely to be forthcoming." "Unlikely to be forthcoming"? Perish the thought!

A recent Huffpo article--"Who's Afraid of Shariah?"--claims that only a "miniscule percentage of Muslims" advocate stoning. According to Wikipedia "Stoning is practiced in Afghanistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, and Nigeria." Just sayin' And speaking of Iran, here is the latest on the Ashtiani case.

A Kos diary reveals that Pamela Geller is an "Israeli Secret Agent." It isn't fair. I run a reasonable, mild-mannered, and rather bookish blog and nobody accuses me of being anything cool.

Angry Arab favors Sheitlach

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Mizrachi Jews and new sorties in the "War of Ideas in the Middle East"

As you may know, Martin Gilbert has just published a book called "In Ishmael's House, a history of Jews living in Muslim lands." The book includes what happened to the Mizrachi Jewry after 1948 and Gilbert joins the not terribly large group of historians who have tackled this important subject in any detail. (The Jews of Islam by Bernard Lewis, if I remember correctly, deals with its subject in very general terms.) MondoWeiss excerpts the final four paragraphs from a review of the book by New Historian Avi Shlaim:
Nowhere is Gilbert more strikingly one-sided than in his account of the consequences of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. In the course of this war, the name Palestine was wiped off the map and 726,000 Palestinians became refugees. In its wake, around 850,000 Jews left the Arab world, mostly to start a new life in the newborn State of Israel. For Gilbert, these Jews are simply the other half of the “double exodus” and he persistently refers to them as "refugees." With few exceptions, however, these Jews left their native lands not as a result of officially sanctioned policies of persecution but because they felt threatened by the rising tide of Arab nationalism. Zionist agents actively encouraged the Jews to leave their ancestral homes because the fledgling State of Israel was desperately short of manpower. Iraq exemplified this trend. The Iraqi army participated in the War for Palestine, and the Arab defeat provoked a backlash against the Jews back home. Out of a population of 138,000, roughly 120,000 left in 1950-51 in an atmosphere of panic and peril.

I was five years old in 1950 when my family reluctantly moved from Baghdad to Ramat Gan. We were Arab Jews, we spoke Arabic, our roots went back to the Babylonian exile two and a half millennia ago and my parents did not have the slightest sympathy with Zionism. We were not persecuted but opted to leave because we felt insecure. So, unlike the Palestinians who were driven out of their homes, we were not refugees in the proper sense of the word. But we were truly victims of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Despite all its shortcomings, Gilbert’s book is an illuminating and a moving account of the history of the Jews in Arab lands. But he is psychologically hard-wired to see anti-Semitism everywhere. The picture he paints is consequently unbalanced.

By dwelling so persistently on the deficits, he downplays the record of tolerance, creative co-existence and multi-culturalism in Muslim lands which constitutes the best model we have for a brighter future.
One has to wonder (and certainly the inquiring minds of MondoWeiss don't inquire in that direction): does Shlaim appreciate his freedom? Does he think he would be free, or as free, to pursue his intellectual interests and speak his mind if somehow the Jewish community of Iraq had survived and he was part of it? What do all those nice distinctions ("victims," but "not refugees in the proper sense of the word") mean? Since he has introduced his own family into the discussion, did they have property? If so, what became of it?

The story of the Mizrachi Jews in Modern times is, in all frankness, not that lachrymose in its ending. The great ugly truth that everyone is too polite to mention is that having one's property looted by one's Arab Muslim overlords is not such a bad deal if the package includes ultimately being free of them. Mizrachi Jews left under various circumstances, as did the Palestinians. And while Mizrachi Jews may ultimately have encountered a happier fate than the Palestinians did, there is no justification for the suffering and injustice imposed on them by an Arab world that turned on its loyal Jewish citizens in a spirit of revenge.

As far as supposed wrongs to the Palestinian people as a whole are concerned, I don't think any serious historians argue that the Yishuv could have acted differently in 1947 and 1948. The New Historians have perhaps corrected an erroneous David-Goliath sense of the relative strength of the two sides, and the more extreme views regard 1948 as the rinse-cycle of the born-in-sin Zionist movement, but in practical terms, non-Goliaths who threaten your existence have to be defeated. The Mizrachi Jews, in contrast, did not threaten anybody.

And Shlaim's conclusion is breathtaking. Muslim "multi-culturalism" is "the best model we have for a brighter future"? Really? Is there a contemporary example of it somewhere we could hold up as a shining banner? If downplaying this supposed "best model" is the book's major shortcoming according to Shalim, I'd say that counts as an endorsement.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

Friday, September 03, 2010

Arab Knesset member in the LA Times

He says the predictable things. I was wondering before I even read it whether his eagerness to attack Israel was going to interfere with his coherence. Of course.
. . . no Palestinian negotiator I know of will bow before the Israeli demand — put forward only recently, but increasingly adamantly — that Israel be recognized as an exclusively Jewish state . . .

The only way out of the impasse is for Jews to recognize Palestinians as their equals and negotiate with them on that basis. A fair two-state solution requires the abrogation of all laws, both in Israel and the occupied territories, that raise Jews above Palestinians.
Won't a "fair two-state solution" mean that there will be a Jewish state and a Palestinian state and nothing called "occupied territories"? (And don't we all know which state will be the "exclusive" one?)

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Give even greater play to the might of Songun and pass the crumpets?

Is this real?
The Stoke-on-Trent Branch of the British Group for the Study of the Juche Idea was formed on August 21 with the 50th anniversary of General Secretary Kim Jong Il's start of the Songun revolutionary leadership as an occasion.

Shawn Pikford, secretary general of the group, was elected chief of the branch.
Narrowly beating out Paula Nancy Millstone-Jennings?

Update: More Juche study:
The Dutch Group for the Study of the Juche Philosophy was inaugurated with due ceremony in Amsterdam on August 25 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of General Secretary Kim Jong Il's start of the Songun revolutionary leadership.

The inaugural ceremony elected chairman and secretary general of the group.

The chairman at the ceremony underscored the need to widely introduce and disseminate the Juche idea, the Songun idea among the Dutch people by making media and Internet give publicity to works of the peerlessly great men, steadily expand the ranks and conduct brisk solidarity activities supporting the cause of the Korean people in various forms and by diverse methods.
The latest Haveil Havlim conducts brisk solidarity activities.

Washington Post editorialist seeks to generate sympathy for the Palestinians by admitting everything we Hasbaristas have been saying all along

This is close to the weirdest thing I've ever read. Here are some examples:
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is the head of a stable state with the ability to deliver on his commitments. Celebrations of supposed institution-building notwithstanding, Palestinians have no robust central authority. Their territory is divided between the West Bank and Gaza. On their own, Palestinians would find it difficult to implement an agreement, however much they might wish to. Israel controls all material assets; Palestinians at best can offer intangible declarations and promises. [...]

What happens should negotiations fail? The status quo, though sub-optimal, presents no imminent danger to Israel. What Israelis want from an agreement is something they have learned either to live without (Palestinian recognition) or to provide for themselves (security). The demographic threat many invoke as a reason to act -- the possibility that Arabs soon might outnumber Jews, forcing Israel to choose between remaining Jewish or democratic -- is exaggerated. Israel already has separated itself from Gaza. In the future, it could unilaterally relinquish areas of the West Bank, further diminishing prospects of an eventual Arab majority. Because Israelis have a suitable alternative, they lack a sense of urgency. The Palestinians, by contrast, have limited options and desperately need an agreement.
He should have written "they desperately need the agreement that will result in the denunciation as a traitor, collaborator, and lackey of any negotiator who achieves it," but the man has no sense at all of the tidal wave of irony he has unleashed. Read the rest and don't put anything you don't want crushed under your jaw.

Winners of most recent Palestinian elections vow to continue attacks

From Maan News:
Attacks by Hamas' armed wing will continue "in any form and in any place,” including inside Israel and in Gaza, a spokesman said Thursday.

The Al-Qassam Brigades claimed responsibility for killing four settlers in a drive-by shooting near Hebron on Tuesday evening, and for injuring two Israelis in a similar attack by Romodin Junction near Ramallah a day later.

Al-Qassam Brigades spokesman Abu Obeida said the second attack was "a slap in the face" for those who said the deadly shooting near Hebron would not be repeated.

Abu Obeida said the Ramallah shooting was timed "according to field circumstances" but added that it conveyed a message to negotiators who "conceded and went along with the forces of the occupation and made their efforts to chase the resistance fighters in the wake of the heroic Hebron attack. [...]
According to another Maan headline, "Islamic Jihad calls for more attacks." Will we now hear from all the leftists who have been insisting that Hamas is actually willing to make peace? As Gideon Levy once wrote, "You . . . don't make peace with half a people, in half of the territory."

Update: Angry Arab (whose salary is paid by US taxpayers?) comments on the peace talks:
Of course peace won't emerge from the masquerade in Washington, DC but will eventually emerge--but only after the demise of Israel and the elimination of Zionism from historic Palestine.
The man obviously thinks in Farsi, so maybe Juan Cole will tell us what he really meant.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Another Music Lesson

In this new installment of my Music Lesson series, we will learn just one important thing. If you have not yet digested the first installment, stop reading this and keep working on that. You now hopefully are familiar with half-steps and whole-steps and it is time to think about the major scale. A basic hummable melody that you might hear in America or Europe (not a blues, nothing described as a "haunting minor key melody," certainly nothing that sounds Arabic or Indian) probably uses the major scale. Think "Twinkle twinkle little star" or "I have a little Dreidel" or "Stars and Stripes Forever" or "Mama hated diesels." What is a major scale? Consider the piano keyboard diagram again:A piano is, among other things, a giant audio-visual aid, teaching you about the major scale. Look at the series of just the white keys, starting with any "C": CDEFGABC If we describe that series of notes by its intervals, it looks like this:

Whole-step, Whole-step, Half-step--Whole-step--Whole-step, Whole-step, Half-step.

It might help to picture it like this: C _ D _ E * F [_] G _ A _ B * C

The "*" is a half-step and everything else (all those underscores) is a whole step. The half-steps, as we have pointed out before, fall between E and F and also B and C. (If you noticed that the eight notes of this pattern can be broken down into two groups of four notes, each going whole-whole-half, give yourself a high five and play three seconds of air guitar.) This scale is called C-Major because it is a major scale that starts on C. If you know how to sing "Do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti-do," that's how it sounds.

(If it started on G it would go G A B C D E F# G. "F#" means "F-sharp." We play the black key to the right of the F instead of the F itself because a major scale always ends with a half step and always has a whole step before that final half-step. Sharping the F, playing that black key instead, accomplishes both things.)

Let's stop there. You might even want to stop before that last explanation of how G-major is constructed. I called all that "one thing," but it took some explaining. Make sure you have learned what we have covered so far before going on. Every new thing you learn at this stage adds a whole new dimension to your understanding of music.

Great News! "Iran to guard universities against 'plots'"

A "liberal democratic environment"--horrors!
Minister of Science, Research and Technology Kamran Daneshjoo says the "enemies" of Iran are plotting a cultural invasion of the country's universities.

"The enemies are making efforts to replace the Islamic atmosphere in [Iranian] universities with their liberal democratic environment," Daneshjoo said Sunday, referring to remarks by the Leader of the Islamic Revolution.

Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei told a gathering of university students in Tehran last week that higher education institutions had become the main "target" of plots hatched by domineering powers.

The Iranian minister added that Tehran would publish evidence proving the involvement of several foreign spy agencies in efforts to "negatively influence" students, Fars News Agency reported.

Daneshjoo went on to add that neither the nation nor the students would ever tolerate universities that disrespect Islamic values.

On the large-scale emigration of individuals with technical skills or knowledge from Iran, the Leader said on August 22 that "moral and religious" motivation could make expatriate elite return to serve their country.
Threatening family members also works wonders. Iran is currently putting out almost as much blog fodder as it is enriched uranium. Another heartwarming current PressTV headline reads "'World resolute to annihilate Israel.'"
Iran's Association for liberation of the holy al-Quds (Jerusalem) slams Western and US support for Israel, insisting that global resolve to annihilate the Israeli regime has strengthened.

"The US and European Union, as staunch allies of the occupying Zionist regime (Israel), and certain Arab and Muslim governments are openly and covertly supporting the illegitimate Israeli regime and its extensive crimes, particularly the oppression of the Palestinian people," the association said in a statement on Wednesday, two days before the International Quds Day.

Initiated by the late founder of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Imam Khomeini, the International Quds Day marks the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims throughout the globe are urged to hold rallies in support of the Palestinian resistance against what Imam Khomeini commonly referred to as "the illegitimate Israeli regime occupying Palestine."

The statement also censured US-led efforts to bring "betraying and compromising" Palestinian elements to the negotiating table with Israel . . .
From IRIB we learn that the "Quds occupier," i.e. Israel, is the "main enemy of Islam":
Heidar Jamal, the founder of the Islamic Renaissance Party and the head of the Islamic Committee of Russia says the Quds occupying regime is the number one enemy of Islam and of the world Muslims.

Jamal urged the Muslim world to get united in the face of the Zionist regime.
I thought they were already united. Oh, that elusive unity of the ummah! Evo Morales also puts in an appearance at IRIB, informing us that Iran is the "most revolutionary country in world."
"Superpowers plunder the natural resources of other countries with low price and sell the goods made by the materials to same countries with higher prices," Bolivian President added.

"Iran, Venezuela and Bolivia should coordinate their knowledge, experience and human resources and use the natural resources to expand the living standard of their people," Morales added.
Iran, Venezuela, and Bolivia. El axis del evil? Like Western press agencies, who tend to call them "settlers," IRIB also tends to avoid words like "Israelis" and "people." The IRIB headline on the opening salvo of Operation Flood of Fire: "Four Zionists killed in West Bank"
[...] Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri said the attack was a natural response by the Palestinian resistance to the enemy's crimes.

Hamas Spokesman Fuzi Barhoum too underlined continuous resistance against the Zionist regime after four Israelis traveling in their vehicle south of the occupied Palestinian territory of the West Bank were killed on Tuesday night.

"The recent shooting attack against the Zionist settlers shows that resistance would continue until it ends Israeli occupation," Barhoum reiterated.

"Resistance is our main approach for regaining our land. We will not surrender to occupation and will continue resistance," Barhoum added.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement for its part has lauded the al-Khalil operation and called it the first sign of failure in the direct negotiations with 'Israel'.
It has been a common meme in places like Mondoweiss and Mondocole that all Israel has to do to avoid attacks by Hamas is to be faithful in observing cease-fires. I guess they should also avoid peace talks.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad