Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Good terrorists need not live

Recently, an Israeli teacher killed a student. Precisely, Rabbi Bar-On shot a Palestinian student of Bir Zeit University who brandished a knife at him. What really bothered me was a universally gleeful response of Israeli media. The rabbi killed an attacker, good, but it cannot be a matter of joy. There are tremendous issues boiling behind the incident.

The Arab kid was not a professional terrorist, even though a Fatah-Al Aqsa offshoot claimed him a member. The kid went for essentially a suicide mission: he did not try to knife down Jews in Tel Aviv where he would be merely arrested, but at a junction near Shilo, in the dreaded “territories” where many Jewish males are armed and someone would certainly kill the Arab. Yet, he mustered only two knives. He was unfamiliar with this weapon and frightened, shaking. The Arab student was willing to sacrifice his life for a minimum damage to Jews.

He was not a stereotypical terrorist. We are dealing here with the example of popular war. Palestinian society breeds hatred to “Zionist occupiers,” and Palestinian universities provide ample grounds for nationalist propaganda. It is not incitation, but realistic and truthful nationalist education.

Here lies the nightmare of primitive rationalism: Jews and Arabs are both right. Both defend their religious, nationalist, and homestead rights to the land. Arguing the fine points is senseless: Palestinians believe that they are a nation, and Jews won’t be able to convince them otherwise. There can be no compromise; people don’t compromise over their basic religious and national rights, not if they want to remain a self-respecting religious community or a nation. Those Jews who are looking to compromise do so because they don’t believe they have any rights here: assimilated atheists, what do they have to do with the Holy Land?

Palestinian Arabs, on the contrary, believe in their rights. If Jews abandoned to them Hebron and Schem, the ancient Jewish cities, how much more do the Zionists owe them Haifa and Jaffa, the towns with originally Arab majority? Jews act like the classic People of the Sea, foreign marauders who settled the shores of Canaan time and again without venturing deep into the hilly country. If Judea is not Jewish, then what rights do the Jews possibly have to any other place in Palestine?

In the real life, situations where both conflicting parties are right, arise often. When the contended issues are critical to the opponents, no mild solution is possible. Olmert-Barak-Peres-Netanyahu can give away Judea and Samaria to Arabs, but should a decent Jewish leader arise he will drive the Arabs out. Fatah-Hamas-PIJ can accept Israel, but should a more militant Palestinian leader arise, they will restart terrorism against Jews. And millions of Arabs living in Israel will help them.

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Why are Arabs Portrayed as Evil in Hollywood?

Always the villain? With author Jack Shaheen, actor Ahmed Ahmed and producer Abdullah Omeish, this episode of the Riz Khan show on Al Jazeera English looks at stereotypical portrayals of Arabs in Hollywood and asks why these continue.

If you do not see the Youtube video above click here.

At the 00:32 second mark we are shown a clip from the film The Kingdom (2007) where an Arab suicide bomber sets off a suicide vest full of explosives in a crowded American compound in Saudi Arabia. I fully agree with Riz Khan that it was totally unnecessary and stereotypical to use an Arab Muslim in this scene. Wouldn't it have had the exact same impact and meaning if instead they had used Russian agents of the former KGB? There is one problem though: this attack, which was the inspiration for the film, actually happened on 12 May 2003 and unfortunately for Hollywood scriptwriters the perpetrators were Arab Muslims and not KGB agents. I suppose Arabs/Muslims would prefer that we dispense with truth and accuracy if it offends or insults their culture/religion.

Read the rest here.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

grovel grovel grovel

From ACT for America

A festival of groveling to terrorists

If works of art are withdrawn because of fear of reprisal, we lose the chance for open debate

Mick Hume

Have you heard about the first novel by a young American woman that has become the “new Satanic Verses”, sparking terrorist attacks on the publishers and riots by Islamic militants that make the protests against Salman Rushdie's book look like an English tea party?

No, you probably won't have, since there is no book for anybody to riot about. The US publishers Random House pulled The Jewel of Medina by Sherry Jones, due out today, on the ground that it “might be offensive to some in the Muslim community” and “could incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment”. An executive told the author that they had stopped her racy historical novel about Aisha, young wife of the Prophet Muhammad, out of “fear of a possible terrorist threat from extremist Muslims” and concern for “the safety and security of the Random House building and employees”.

There had been no acts of violence or terrorism, nor even threats or protests. All that happened was that one non-Muslim associate professor of Islamic history at the University of Texas, who was sent a proof copy, apparently cautioned that the book would be seen as “a declaration of war... explosive stuff... a national security issue” and more offensive than The Satanic Verses. There swiftly followed a riot of retreating publishers, and the book was blown out before anybody had the chance to set light to it for the cameras.

It looks like another example of a quiet wave of self-censorship and cultural cowardice sweeping Western art circles. Two years ago, when the Deutsche opera in Berlin scrapped a production of Mozart's Idomeneo for fear that it might offend some Muslims, I described it as “pre-emptive grovelling”. This now appears to be the modus operandi of the transatlantic arts elites.

It has just been reported that the BBC has dropped a big-budget docu-drama, The London Bombers. A team of journalists had spent months researching it in Beeston, Leeds, home of some of the 7/7 terrorists, and a top writer was preparing the final draft, when it was scrapped. The journalists were reportedly told by BBC executives that it was Islamophobic and offensive.

Last year, the New Culture Forum published a survey of similar cases, from the BBC hospital soap Casualty changing Muslim terrorists into animal rights activists, to the Barbican cutting out scenes from Tamburlaine the Great and the “cutting-edge” Royal Court Theatre cancelling an adaptation of Aristophanes' Lysistrata, both for fear that they might offend some Muslims.

The threat to freedom here does not come from a few Islamic radicals, but from the invertebrate liberals of the cultural establishment who have so lost faith in themselves that they will surrender their freedoms before anybody starts a fight. The mere suggestion of causing offence to some mob of imagined stereotypes is enough to have them scurrying for a bomb shelter, their creative imaginations blowing up small protests into the threat of a big culture war. Of course, such pre-emptive grovelling only encourages any zealot with a blog to demand even more censorship.

Who needs book burners if “offensive” books are not allowed to be published in the first place? Why bother to protest against provocative plays if the theatres will turn the lights off for you beforehand? There is no need even for a polite exchange on Points of View if the controversial programmes never get made.

The quality or lack of it in the self-censored works is not the issue here. That associate professor from Texas condemned the novel about Muhammad's wife as “soft porn”. But so what if it was? Free expression should mean freedom for what others see as filth, too. If there are artists childishly causing offence for its own sake, feel free to ignore them, but not to gag them.

Pre-emptive grovelling, encouraged from the top down by our illiberal authorities, is bad for the arts and for society. The arts can only flourish in a climate of cultural anarchy rather than compulsion and conformity. The attempt to limit what can be said must have a chilling effect, encouraging other writers and artists to pull in their horns.

Such self-censorship is also dangerous for those who don't much care about high culture. There is indeed a lesson from the Satanic Verses controversy, but not the one often cited. The dominant response to that clash of cultures was to try to bury it beneath worthy multicultural claptrap about celebrating difference. After more than 15 years of such attempts to suppress honest debate, the tensions festering beneath the surface exploded on the London transport system. As one female Muslim writer critical of the decision not to publish The Jewel of Medina says: “The series of events that torpedoed this novel are a window into how quickly fear stunts intelligent discourse about the Muslim world.”

As an old libertarian of the Left, who has long upheld the Right to Be Offensive, what makes me most angry today is to see fearful self-censorship and pre-emptive grovelling in the name of liberal values. That really is something worth intellectually rioting about.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sponsored Buzz : Leptitrex

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Read the review here.


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Blogroll Buzz : Pakistani Honor Rapes

Blogroller Layla Gonzales of "The Hill Chronicles" highlights the sad truth about the backwards thinking people of Pakistan.

Today, this is one of those topics that is dear and near to me. We have all heard of honor killings. But what I never heard of was honor rapes. A reader of mine here at The Hill sent me this link from YouTube.

Be fore warned that this is a disturbing and upsetting video. But I do believe we must know what is happening to people around the world be they young or old, feeble or weak, mhale or female - adult or child.

We cannot continue with a pre-9/11 mindset. Nor can we act like ostriches with our heads stuck in the sand. The line in the sand has been drawn here, and it stops here.


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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Difference Between Jews and Muslims

Biblical legend tells us that a long time ago (1500 to 1200 B.C.) a certain Pharaoh of Egypt did a terrible thing to all the firstborn of the Hebrews: he had them thrown into the Nile. Whether one accepts the Exodus story as really happening or not (the written version as we know it was most likely composed around 450 B.C.), it is indisputable that Jews did not take it personally. They never went back to Egypt to kill Egyptians for payback nor do you ever hear Jews urging each other to kill Egyptians for long ago enslaving the Israelites.

Jews have lived continuously in Egypt since 650 B.C. In 1922 there were almost 80,000 Jews in Egypt living peacefully as they have always done. Today there are fewer than a hundred [Wiki].

587-586 B.C. the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar invades Jerusalem and destroys the city and the First Temple [Westmont College]. Babylon is located in what we today call Iraq. You will never hear a Jew urging his fellow Jews to kill Iraqis wherever we find them for destroying the Holy City and the Second Temple and carrying off the Jewish people into captivity.

Jews have lived continuously in the area of present-day Iraq since 586 B.C. Iraqi Jews constitute one of the world's oldest and most historically significant Jewish communities [Wiki]. In 1948, there were approximately 150,000 Jews in Iraq, living peacefully as they have always done. In 2003, there were 100 left.

In 70 A.D. the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Second Temple. Tens of thousands of Jews were crucified, many nailed in ridiculous postures to amuse the Roman soldiers. You will never hear a Jew urging his fellow Jews to kill Romans wherever we find them.

Read the rest here.

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