Monday, February 28, 2005
And of course, if you set up an institute with the professed aim of freeing Judaism from the corrupting influences of Zionism or to protect Judaism from itself, then there'll be uproar to the rafters. There is a body of opinion that holds that Judaism has been so corrupted even within Orthodox Judaism itself, but the mainstream media rarely give them the time of day for that. Now stand up Daniel Pipes, a man who's made a career of vilifying Islam under the cloak of academic concern. Now that Bush, after pressure from many people, has decided not to re-nominate him to the board of the United States Instutute of Peace (go Google it yourself, I'm not making it up), he's come up with another brilliant idea, the Anti-Islamist Institute. And the purpose? To expose the legal political activities of 'Islamists', to protect the US and the Western World from the influences of radical Islamists, and to promote 'moderate' Islam in the US and internationally.
"In the long term...the legal activities of Islamists pose as much or even a greater set of challenges than the illegal ones." This, according to the Inter Press Service News Agency (IPS) was what they found in the grant seeking proposal produced by Pipes' Middle East Forum. Of the stated intent in this draft document, this one's perhaps most telling: "(T)he delegitimation of the Islamists. We seek to have them shunned by the government, the media, the churches, the academy and the corporate world."
Such is the vigour of Pipes in his anti-Islamist pursuits that not only has he set up the Middle East Forum, he's also been the force behind Campus Watch, which looks out for anti-semitic, anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian and Islamist bias among teachers of Middle Eastern studies in US Colleges or Universities. Campus Watch was recently instrumental in preventing Tariq Ramadhan, a man named by Time magazine as one of the world's top 100 scientists and thinkers form taking up a post in the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. Among the reasons used by Pipes in his arguments against Ramadhan are that his maternal grandfather Hassal al-Banna founded the Muslim Brotherhood, and that Osama bin Laden studied with Tariq's father in Geneva, "suggesting that the future terrorist and the future scholar might have known each other."
If those bases for rejection are disconcerting enough, they are not totally out of character. He once wrote that Muslim immigrants were "brown-skinned peoples cooking strange foods and not exactly maintaining Germanic standards of hygiene".
This campaign of vilification of Muslims, turning anyone who publicly expresses his or her religion into bogeypersons is the new approach of the pro-Israel lobby who are now running scared of open debates, or the acceptabce of Islam or Muslims into mainstream dialogue. In America Pipes has worked against the legitimisation of 'Islamist' organisations such as CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) and the Arab American Institute. His organisations have demonised any articulate Muslim that appears on the scene and shuns open debates on the Palestinian issue. The Palestinians, Pipes once said, had to be psychologically crushed, and he seems to be trying just that now on anyone who questions his reason.
§Daniel Pipes As An Example Of McCarthian Silencing
§Daniel Pipes, Peacemaker?
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Poor Syria is now pilloried, accused of having a hand in the assassination of Rafiq Hariri, the only hope Lebanon had in recent times of regaining its former glory. How could Hariri — who, last St Valentine's day had a meeting with Walid Muallim, Syria's deputy foreign minister about his planned visit to Damascus — could have been a threat to Asad?
Students of strange phenomenology will not have failed to notice that once an area is targetted for 'democratisation', things start to happen there with a bang. My friends, cynics who're privy to the secrets of Tesla technology, are even now saying that the earthquake in Iran was also part of that democratisation; and the recent tsunami too, which hit everyone except that bastion of world democratisation, Diego Garcia. But the US have already told us that they didn't receive any warnings from where they are in the Indian Ocean, I protested. Harrumph, harrumph, were the only noises my cynical friends could make. Then, when theiur thorats were sufficiently cleared, they said: a funny thing to say especially as one of their tsunami monitoring bases is actually with them in Diego Garcia.
Now, our 2000 year old friends may not have had a hand directly in assassinating Hariri, but in Lebanon they have many friends. Before operation Peace in Galilee — which sent Lebanon reeling into decades of instability — the Falangist strongman Gemayel had meetings with his Israeli supporters. And this time the Falangists once again may have acted as their honorary sayanim.
The Lebanon is now used as launching pad for an attack on Syria, just as the nuclear programme will be the cause for Iran. What has Syria got to gain from killing Hariri? Nothing at all. Who gains from instability in the region? Well, let's see, from an unstable Lebanon, home of their Falangist friends there's water, from the soon to be unstable cauldrons of Iran and Iraq there's oil.
Of course this peacemaking venture is a worldwide project. Bush is now on a tour of Europe decrying Syria's interference in Lebanon. Er, perhaps you'd want to read that again: Syria's interference in Lebanon, from a man whose soldiers are in Iraq. But, there's peace now in Iraq now can't you see? Democracy is coming back. Well, that depends on how far you want to stretch your justifying logic. You attack a country on a lie, you bombard its population — women and children — with powerful bombs, you steal a great part of its wealth, then you introduce an election that's rigged. Is that justification for anything?
Hear Scott Ritter who's got something to say on how the election was rigged [see link below], whatever it's worth. And I'll not spoil your fun by telling you now what he's got to say about Iran. But easier by far to believe that the results of the elections in Iraq were predictable and desired at that; because the instability that'll follow will be just right for people with ideas in that space. I may be a bad student of democracy, but I'm convinced that a strong ruler with benign intent is a lot better than a democracy that leaves the place in pieces, not peace.
§Ritter lashes out.
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
Everyday in my mailbox I receive at least two offers from erection and demolition experts, two more with nudity or c**t in the subject line, and many, many more with gibberish unfurled. I delete them all without even taking a peek. But today, somehow, I thought I'd open one, and lo, it's none other than the joy of man's desiring, Mrs Suha Arafat, and what a state that's got into her!
Dear Friend, I am Mrs. Suha Arafat, the wife of Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader who died recently in Paris. Since his death and even prior to the announcement, I have been thrown into a state of antagonism, confusion, humiliation, frustration and hopelessness by the present leadership of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the new Prime Minister. I have even been subjected to physical and psychological torture.And she's healthy and wealthy for all that. I'll let her take up the story —
As a widow that is so traumatized, I have lost confidence with everybody in the country at the moment. You must have heard over the media reports and the Internet on the discovery of some fund in my husband secret bank account and companies and the allegations of some huge sums of money deposited by my husband in my name of which I have refuses to disclose or give up to the corrupt Palestine Government. In fact the total sum allegedly discovered by the Government so far is in the tune of about $6.5 Billion Dollars.But this is the part I like best:
And they are not relenting on their effort to make me poor for life. As you know, the Moslem community has no regards for woman, more importantly when the woman is from a Christian background, hence my desire for a foreign assistance.And so it goes on, into more familiar territory — money deposited into my account ($21 million, with promises of more), Presidency of the Palestine National Council, as many as I desire of the famed kefiyya and may God bless you and your household.
Well, I've made up the Presidency and the kefiyyas, but who cares, I'd rather be seen in that than in Nigeria.
All Talk And No Kefiyya
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
Al-Jazeera reports Rime Allaf of the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London as saying, "This is the work of an intelligence service, not a small group." Intelligence groups have always played a major role in Lebanon, not least in the destabilising of it. A stable and prosperous Lebanon sucked the prosperity away from the bankers of Zurich and other parts of the Western world, so playground Lebanon had to be rocked, sending the sheikhs of Araby fleeing to other financial capitals. For the destabilisers it was an easy task, Lebanon had the ruling sunnis, the disaffected shiahs, falangist Christian militias, and the troubled Druze.
The most eager to intervene in Lebanon was an army officer named Ariel Sharon, who played military chess with CIA's William Casey. Casey himself admitted that Sharon was just looking for reasons to intervene, and it came so conveniently when an attempt was made on the life of the Israeli ambassador in London. Three days later on June 6, 1982, Operation Peace in Galilee began, ostensibly to sweep the PLO out of the country, with bombs, guns, and irony. Never mind that the people actually behind the attempt in London wasn't Arafat and his men, but Abu Nidal, Mossad's regular guy with whom even Arafat was at war.
Lebanon never recovered its former glory, but recently Hariri, with his own resources and Saudi money, brought hope back to the country. But now that Iraq elections have taken place as planned, Lebanon has to be pulled back in again into the calculations, while the chorus are singing: Poor Iyad Allawi, Bush's favoured son, swept aside by the bearded men of Sistani. But who wanted Allawi in the first place? No one, not even the Americans. They all wanted the dancing Shiites and Sistani, especially for peace in Galilee.
With Iraq now facing long term destabilisation after its democratically concocted volatility, its time now to stir the hornets in Iran so the Iraqi Shiahs will not only have to contend with each other and the dissatisfied Sunnis (and foreign fighters and Galilee peacemakers), but will also have to go to the aid of fellow Shiahs across the border. And then the Galileans will move closer to Kurdistan, the better to see you my dear.
Amid all that, poor Asad will be poked by Lebanon and blamed for the assassination, and taunted by the coalition of the willing, while cries for withdrawal will come from all quarters. Maybe it's time to offer him a dose of democracy too, like the Iraqis.
Oil On Troubled Waters
Saturday, February 12, 2005
I was thinking this today when travelling on what used to be public transport to a place just outside Londra. What used to be British Rail is now a mass of discordant tracks, ungoverned by time-tables, unregulated by any central authority that we can see. The tracks are maintained by a separate body from the one that runs the trains. In fact, the trains are run by bodies so disjointed, so totally divorced from logic that most structure their ticketing prices to a system so intricate that the sellers have a task to explain all the complexities of going from here to there. The hospitals that used to be run by a central authority and paid from the public purse are now outsourcing and resourcing and bidding with one another for the removal of an appendix.
But of course the world has changed and what worked before will not in the present light. But who changed the world? Who dimmed the lights? And for whose benefit? Why must the world be globalised now when it has always been a globe, and for whose profit?
We're living in a time of growth unshackled and privatisation gone mad, in the pious hope that it will all bounce back. Time was when we thought that Thatcher was mad, but even her madness stalled at the railtracks. It took another, a Labourite come to that, to sell off the train and tracks, and then he hung on to the coat-tail of Bush to invade Iraq. And now maybe Iran too, so hold on to your hat if you still have one, and wait for his re-election in May when he'll come back fully charged.
"What is the world coming to?" I asked a senior friend who's now more morose in years. He sighed and said it's all a plot to marginalise everyone and to put everything out of reach. "It's all about control now, and sod-all to those old notions of service. You phone up any company now and all you get is a chain of recorded messages." he said.
I tried phoning up an embassy in Londra — Malaysian as it happened — and that was what I got.
On the loftier side, it's just as bad. Schools are offering subjects such as PE or Media Studies for A-Levels so that students can have easier options to pass. Universities are now competing with High Street English schools to teach beginner's English for goodness sake, because that's what earns their keep. And then they quietly drop the non economically viable subjects like Literature and Mathematics. Because it's all about power and profit, and the spirit of privatisation breeds just that.
Coming back from Davos, the Malaysian deputy Prime Minister urged Malaysian students here in Londra that we must all now be prepared for Globalisation lest all will be lost. Maybe that's what they told him in Davos, that globalisation is the empowering light that'll give us all a new gloss. Come the day my man, we'll all see it for all it's worth: just plain old colonialism in a new frock.
Friday, February 11, 2005
It was an easy mistake to make, especially as the Prime Minister's spinmeisters had put word out in the morning that the apology was to be made in the Commons, in response to a question from an MP. It was an unusual move for the Prime Minister to announce his answer in advance, and, as it happened, the Speaker of the House, hearing that such arrangement had been made, refused to allow the manipulation, even if the questioning MP bobbed up and down in the chamber trying to draw his attention. So Blair had to retreat to his Commons room instead to make the statement.
As I said yesterday, it struck me as odd that here was a Prime Minister going out of his way make an apology for a wrong that was done decades ago, and yet ignore the suffering of people — Muslims, all of them — who are now detained in Belmarsh prison without charge, and without any intimation of the wrong they have allegedly done. The mental pressure from being in a confined place, sometimes in complete isolation, of being separated from their loved ones and not knowing how long they will remain there have been intense. Some have snapped, and are in need of psychiatric attention; one wife of a detainee has suffered a complete mental breakdown.
It is a mystery why Blair has chosen this moment to voice his apology to the Irishmen and women who have been free many years now. They were arrested and convicted on unsafe evidence for acts of terrorism that injured many people and killed seven. Some say Blair did it to put the stalled peace talks in Ireland back on track, especially in this election year. If so, it's an act of cynicism to speak of justice for a group who were wrongly imprisoned yet deny it to another now languishing in prison.
Yes, it was terrorism then, a familiar word, but this was before terrorism acquired a religion; even though the IRA was largely a Catholic movement in Ireland. Even when terrorism was spreading in Latin America in the seventies, fired by turbulent priests in what they conceived as Liberation theology, terrorism wasn't then branded Christian. The Catholic terrorism of the IRA killed many people, maimed thousands, destroyed property worth millions. The validity of attacks on a civilian population is a questionable one, no matter who does it. If the IRA did detonate those bombs all those years ago, then they deserve condemnation, and the perpetrators sentenced — after a fair trial that is. If, in the course of seeking them out, innocent people suffer incarceration on trumped up charges, then they should be released, and an apology is owed to them. That is the decent thing that Blair as a lawyer should understand. This, in essence, is the majority judgment in the House of Lords in an appeal case against indefinite detention under the new Emergency regulations.
There are now more than 30 Muslim prisoners not just in Belmarsh, but also in Woodhill and Broadmoor. Broadmoor is both a prison and a high security psychiatric hospital. One prisoner now held there in Canterbury Ward, Mamdouh Abu Rideh, has suffered torture in an Israeli prison, and is said by his lawyer to be suffering from severe post traumatic stress. He has attempted suicide many times.
The Independent newspaper, which saw court papers relating to these prisoners said in a report published last month that the intelligence used to detain 12 men in Belmarsh are seriously flawed. One of the charges against Abu Rideh is that he sent funds to Afghanistan, but the funds were sent to orphanages run by a Canadian priest. Men who were on an outing to Dorset to get away from their wives were accused of being out to hatch a terrorist plot, and one charge of terrorism against a detainee is based on newspaper reports.
Terrorism, by the state or individual, is a heinous act. Deprivation of a person's liberty without satisfactory evidence or without due process is not an act of a civilised state, and is tantamount to state terrorism.
Room For Regret
Thursday, February 10, 2005
Yesterday Tony Blair said something dissonant. He stood in Parliament to say sorry to 11 Irish men and women for an injustice done to them when they were falsely imprisoned for bombing incidents that killed seven people. Those men and women who became known as the Guildford Four and the Maguire 7 all went to prison, but in 1989 the Appeal court ordered the four released. Then in 1991 they found the same lack of evidence and ordered the release of the seven. Unfortunately one had died while serving sentence, so only six came out of prison.
The reasons for the quashing of their convictions are the litany of the modern: manufactured evidence, forced confessions, prejudice even, against the Irish, when the Irish were potentially guilty men with Papist intentions.
So stay healthy Moazzam Begg, Martin Mubanga, all those British detainees recently released from Guantanamo without charge, thirty years from now maybe a British Prime Minister will stand up in Parliament.
But our concern is for the here and now, when a British Prime Minister — a lawyer himself — can stand up in Parliament to say sorry for an injustice when in Belmarsh prison some seventeen Muslims are in detention under the harshest of conditions, without rhyme nor reason.
Maybe that's not quite true, because they're all under the suspicion of 'Islamist terrorism' for which, it now appears, no charges are necessary, nor trial, nor the adducing of evidence. This point was noted by the House of Lords in a recent judgment when they highlighted the incompatibility of the emergency legislation — passed after 9-11 — with the European Convention on Human Rights. But the Government is now busily engaged in finding ways of getting even around that.
Belmarsh is a terrible place from all accounts. It has been dubbed the British Guantanamo where one detainee, named only as prisoner G, had tried suicide many times. Now he's so mentally deranged that a court has ordered his removal from prison, to be placed under house arrest, under very strict conditions.
M, another Muslim detainee, whose release from Belmarsh was ordered by the Courts because of lack of evidence, said in an interview with the Guardian newspaper last April that being held without charge or without time limit had sent his fellow prisoners up the wall. "Three or four of them have become mad, exactly mad," he told the newspaper.
The wife of another detainee went literally mad from the pain of having her husband detained without opportunity to clear his name. Their young son had to be taken away to be cared for by his grandmother abroad.
What crimes so heinous have been done? Well, this one's the hardest to fathom as even the detainees themselves aren't told of that, nor have they been charged.
A year ago, a man said this in an official paper: "While it would be possible to seek ... powers to detain [without trial] British citizens who may be involved in international terrorism, it would be a very grave step. The government believes that such draconian powers would be difficult to justify."
He was then Home Secretary in Blair's Cabinet, a man named David Blunkett. Now his successor Charles Clarke is proposing to do just that. Barely 24 hours ago Blair stood to voice regret for injustice, while in Belmarsh men are being held without being charged by the very Government he stood up for in the House.
Photo: Belmarsh prison — Britain's Guantanamo.
Sorry Isn't Just A Word
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
Happy New Year to my Chinese readers, this year of the Yiyou 4702.
Kong Hee Fatt Choy! Gung Xi Fa Chai!
Sunday, February 06, 2005
Martin, a convert to Islam, said that his arrest in Zambia was aided by the British MI6. He spoke to the London Observer today, telling about his life of hardship in Guantanamo, where he was repeatedly humiliated and tortured. But his spirit isn't down. In Guantanamo he wrote a series of raps and became the inmates' resident poet. The following — reproduced in the Observer — are the choruses to two of them:
Dem labelled me a terrorist
Calling me a thug.
Dem labelled me a terrorist
Calling me a slug...But
I never did join bin
Laden's crew anyway
And now me know to be
a Muslim is a hard core
And I got no love for
the American government
Dey can go suck and I
don't mean pepermint.
Now hear da bombs
As de Muslim babies,
dem a die,
Now hear de bombs
As de Muslim mothers
dem a cry
Now hear de bombs
As de Muslim soldiers
dem a fly
Why? Because dey no
want fe die.
Martin Mubanga. Respect!
§ Stories From the Inside
§ The Abu Ghraib Scandal You Don't Know
The heir anointed was sent inside a gleaming prison that, ironically, was planned by him when he was still looking at Malaysia as a post-doctoral excursion. Among the charges: buggery and corruption. Among the evidence proferred: a scene of crime that was not even there when the allged offence was said to have taken place, a mattress hauled into court by two hefty policemen, said to carry specimen of seminal ejaculation, and laboratory reports of samples that had been burnt, and a whole array of odds and sods were paraded in court to proffer damning evidence.
The number two man had fallen out in a bad way with the doctor in charge, but was he guilty of all those acts that would've done credit to Fellini's Rome? Truth is I don't know, not on the basis of such evidence in any case, but the Malaysian judges read them differently and sent the man inside, into the gleaming prison.
Now the man inside is outside once again, and has a lot to say about the business of Malaysian politics to anyone who'd care to listen. Trouble is, Malaysians in Londra who're able to attend — students mainly — have been warned not to be seen cavorting with the man. So last Saturday, when the man from the Inside was invited by FOSIS (the Federation of Students Islamic Societies) to give a talk at London University, it was attended by only a handful of Malaysian students and two hands full of non-Malaysians.
The Man from Inside said this about the scene outside:
— That Malaysia is fast catching up with Indonesia in the corruption stakes;
— That the recent Indonesian election was fairer than perhaps even the one in those United States;
— That so-called civilised nations should take due process as the natural sequel to their detention of terrorism suspects, and not adopt the practises of those nations they're trying to lecture on the rudiments of good government.
Malaysians who love their country will have no quarrels with the first of the above; and freedom lovers the world over will go along with the rest.
The man from Inside was once himself on the inside of government, but neither he nor his followers made much public issue of blatant corruption; though he related one interesting story to the small crowd at London University on Saturday afternoon, that when , as Cabinet Minister, he attempted to introduce an anti-Corruption legislation based on the Hong Kong model, there was strong objection from the inside to one clause in particular, and that pertained to the prosecutability for corruption of politicians even when they're already in retirement.
Now that's a wonderful thing, and I'll hold you to that Man from Inside who's now on the outside, if and when you're once again in Government.
Man From Inside
Wednesday, February 02, 2005
Take the Iraqi elections, and I make no apologies for going on about this and on and on. For the moment I think that's where our eyes should be because it's going to define many more elections that will take place in other parts of the world. So far I've seen only one bone of dispute in our daily media, and that's between the Independent's Robert Fisk and the rest of them. Fiskie was getting quite irritated by his colleagues' Pied Piper fixation of calling it historic. What's so historic about it? Fiskie asked them all, never mind that the very word appeared in his own newspaper just a few pages later. It will only be 'historic' when the US pulls out, Fiskie says, and I can't agree more.
For the rest it's crowds milling, people voting, not a dry eye in the whole voting area. But as Dahr Jamail puts it in his blog, why hasn't anybody in the mainstream media highlighted the fact that most of the voters voted because they wanted the US out of Iraq? Now, go back to those reports and read them again in this light; it sure does light up a different fire doesn't it? Dahr Jamail should know, he was there, and I commend to you his blog which is less self-regarding than the Baghdad blogger's.
Well, how do we know what we know? For the Western media, most of what they know come from a source close to their heart. Israel. Debka is the child of Israeli intelligence, as is MEMRI, and I've looked at MEMRI before. In news stories coming from the established media you'll often see, in relation to events in the Middle East, the familiar phrase 'according to intelligence sources', and whose intelligence would that be? And isn't 'intelligence' in the business of spinning a spin their way? Sometimes though, it can be more blatant than that: according to voice analysts at the CIA, it is the voice of Osama/Zarkawi, whoever. The same CIA who's now telling you that Saddam Hussein gave up his weapons of MD a long, long time ago.
But let's get back to MEMRI. As you already know, it was set up by a high-ranking former Israeli intelligence officer, and one of its roles is to provide translations of reports in the Arab media. And who planted those stories in the Arab media in the first place? Maybe we'll have to look a little closer at this another day.
Truth To Tell
Tuesday, February 01, 2005
Suspenseful days these are. After Iraqi elections and the legitimisation perhaps, of a thuggish Prime Minister by sleight of hand, it's Iran's turn now. You can almost hear the signals. Halliburton withdrawing from Iran, maybe to return after Isfahan's flattened, and they've bombed and bombed the Shiite triangle over there — and one hell of a triangle that will be. We even hear now that it was Iran after all that gassed the Kurds in Halabja, and the Americans knew it all along. Gassing the Kurds is a heinous act, no matter who the perpetrators. And they knew it all along? And they bombarded Iraq on that lie, that it was Saddam Hussein and his Chemical Ali what did the act? That's made murderous liars of them doesn't it; and you want murderous liars to come and free your country now?
Look at what they've done to Iraq now aided by their CIA trained thugs. First Chalabi, now Allawi. Then they reined in all their scientists under accusations of various acts in preparatrion for war. Not to mention the number of educated elites who've been snuffed by mysterious assassins; well, no mystery to that really if you look closely to see who stands to benefit from all that. That is the kind of freedom that is top of their agenda, freedom from these dangerous people, scientists, engineers, anyone who can make the country strong again to face up to a bullying neighbour.
Iran is a suitable place for that levelling out, to make it safe for democracy now.
Levelling Out the Playing Field