Saturday, 30 November 2013
National Post: Canadian Iraqi Jews Fight US Return of Stolen Archives to Baghdad
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Dr. Caroline Bassoon Saltzman, Iraqi Jewish Refugee and Canadian Citizen

Source: National Post

It is auspicious and coincidental that we published today  a New English Review interview with former Pentagon aide, Dr. Harold Rhode,  entitled, “The Savior of the Iraqi Jewish Archives”.  The National Post in Toronto published the story of an Iraqi Jewish refugee and Canadian citizen, Dr. Caroline Bassoon-Zaltzman, “Iraqi Jews Who Fled Persecution fight to stop US from Returning Stolen Artifacts to Baghdad”.  Dr. Bassoon-Zaltzman as a 14 year old fled Iraq with her family in 1971 under the reign of the late Ba’athist dictator Saddam Hussein.  Hussein had ordered his Mukhabarat (Intelligence service) to raid the synagogues, community centers and homes of Baghdadi Jews to build files for a so-called Israel and Jewish Section.  Dr. Rhode,  a civilian advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority, and colleagues found a vast trove of sodden documents under water in the basement of the Iraqi Mukhabarat building in Baghdad in May 2003.  Our interview with Dr. Rhode tells the story of the discovery and the generous efforts of the Bush government in facilitating the recovery and restoration of the Iraqi Jewish Archives by the National Archives and Records Agency (NARA).  NARA has mounted an exhibit of selected items from the Iraqi Jewish Archives currently on display at the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery in Washington, DC.  One of those items in the NARA exhibit is a report card of Dr. Basoon-Zaltzman that she will view when she visits Washington, next week.  Perthaps she may even meet with Dr.  Rhode who acts as a docent leading groups through the exihibit.

Both Drs. Rhode and Bassoon-Zaltzman are protesting the return of the Iraqi Jewish Archives to Baghdad under the terms of an agreement between the CPA of the US Government and the interim Iraqi government in July 2003.  Rightfully, the Iraqi Jewish Archives should be returned to the Baghdadi Jewish Community, 85% of whom settled in Israel. Perhaps the archives  be placed on permanent exhibit at the Babylonian Jewish Heritage Center. After all, the archives were stolen from the ancient Jewish community that numbered more than 130,000 in Baghdad at  the time of their expulsion and expropriation of property and rescued in the wake of the Israeli War of Independence in 1950-51.  There are perhaps a handful of elderly Jews left in Baghdad. 

The National Post article quoted Dr. Rhode saying, “Like sending back art that Nazis looted”.

Canada’s Foreign Minister John Baird wrote the following to the National Post:

“It is unfortunate that Iraq is simply not prepared to openly chronicle this tragic history as a monument for the people of Iraq, towards a meaningful reconciliation, or towards the historical preservation of archives and other itmes that document the ancient heritage of Iraqi Jewry.

“There also ought to be justice for those who were forced to leave with nothing and have an opportunity to reclaim not only their irreplaceable personal property, but crucial pieces of a past that is so vulnerable to being forever lost.

“For the last Jews in Baghdad and their descendants in Canada and beyond, Iraqi Judaica is ultimately their history to preserve and cherish.”

47 members of the US Congress on November 13, 2013 delivered a letter to US Secretary of State John Kerry stating, “Government of Iraq has no legitimate claim to these artifacts”. 

Dr. Rhode here in the US, and hundreds of  thousands  of  Iraqi Jewish refugees  like Dr. Bassoon-Zaltzman in Canada, Israel and elsewhere in the West are waiting for an answer from Secretary Kerry. 

As Jews around the world observe this Fourth night of Hanukkah, they light candles in commemoration of the revolt by the ancient Israelites, led by the Maccabees, who wrested their country from Syrian Greek tyranny denying religious freedom.  The Fourth light is the light of Mercy. “Do Justice and love Mercy” was the teaching of Micah, the prophet.  We hope that Secretary Kerry notes that message when discussing return of these precious Iraqi Jewish Archives stolen from this vibrant and resourceful community safeguarded and repatriated to the Land of Israel.

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Posted on 11/30/2013 12:00 AM by Jerry Gordon
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Saturday, 30 November 2013
The Day Of The Goddess
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by Bibhu Padhi (December 2013)


Here, in Puri, the goddess

of plenty is only a kilometre away.

On the last Thursday of Margasira,

she is invited early in the morning,

long before the arrival of light and day;  more>>>

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Posted on 11/30/2013 12:00 AM by NER
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Saturday, 30 November 2013
Free Astray
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 —shipping industry jargon for lost freight

by Len Krisak (December 2013)

Atop dark straits of squawking treads worn down

In dimness, six souls out of Hawthorne sat,

Light rarely shafting motes with dull relief.  more>>>

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Posted on 11/30/2013 12:00 AM by NER
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Saturday, 30 November 2013
Dancing with Shadows
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by Moshe Dann (December 2013)


Sitting at the check-out counter, Doreen saw him the moment he walked into the pharmacy. She watched him hand in his prescription, his ponytail dangling, the tight fit of his jeans and wondered if he was gay, or had a girlfriend, or too many of them.  more>>>

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Posted on 11/30/2013 12:00 AM by NER
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Saturday, 30 November 2013
Crisis of the President
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by NB Armstrong (December 2013)


Former President Sam W. Marsh looks back on the events of "The Crisis," which began with the hijacking of
a Russian nuclear bomber. The president’s commentary has been excerpted from an interview he gave with Paul C. Rubin on the nearly eighth anniversary of those events. Sometimes the president’s unusual pronunciation of certain words has been retained in spelling to heighten his folksiness. The abbreviation PSFTRP signals those moments in which the president Paused and Searched For The Right Phrase.

“If anyone ever has any information about a possible attack on America, I want them to call the homeland.”
                    - Sam W. Marsh  more>>>

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Posted on 11/30/2013 12:00 AM by NER
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Saturday, 30 November 2013
SoHo: Unplanned Urban Renewal
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by Richard Kostelanetz (December 2013)


Although the creation of a single work of art may be an individual effort, artists have often clustered together to share ideas, offer mutual support, and provide a sympathetic audience for one another. The dynamics of rapid change in artistic styles over the past forty years have required that artists who want to remain current with the latest developments in art be close to the important galleries as well as accessible to others working in their particular field.
            —James R. Hudson, The Unanticipated City (1987)


What I experienced in Artists’ SoHo was a cultural hothouse unlike anything anywhere else or any community before in American life. I’d already known about “artist colonies,” to be sure, but this was an urban oasis created by hundreds of artists, if not more, acting independently.  more>>>

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Posted on 11/30/2013 12:00 AM by NER
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Saturday, 30 November 2013
From Albert to Arik: There Has Been None Like Einstein
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by Norman Berdichevsky (December 2013)


Jewish sages honored the memory of the august philosopher “Maimonides,” also known as Moshe ben Maimon, 1134-1205, proclaiming that from the time of “Moshe” (the first Moses, flourished ca. 1450 B.C) there had been no other like him, thereby expressing their admiration in the highest form of an accolade extending across 2,500 years. The same, to a somewhat lesser degree, might well be said of the late Israeli singer Arik Einstein. ”That from the time of the first Einstein (Albert), there had been no other figure so revered as the current Einstein (Arik)” – at least by the Israeli public.  more>>>

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Posted on 11/30/2013 12:00 AM by NER
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Saturday, 30 November 2013
Wasting Away in Taqiyyaville
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by Richard Butrick (December 2013)


Forgive me for being somewhat confused. It turns out that Muhammad was a man of peace, love and understanding. I had formed the impression that he was a ruthless warrior who advocated terror, subterfuge and slaughter of the defeated. But here is one account typical of the numerous accounts given on various websites run by Muslim organizations:

Muhammad was as kind as he was polite.  more>>>

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Posted on 11/30/2013 12:00 AM by NER
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Saturday, 30 November 2013
Hizb-ut-Tahrir Statement On Australian Politics – Mendacious, Or Refreshingly Honest?
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by CatStrangler101 (December 2013)


I have been inspired to write this essay due to a statement from Hizb-ut-Tahrir that was brought to my attention recently. The statement was written in September 2013, before the Australian election, and although there has now been a change of government in Australia and there have been promises of a crackdown on illegal immigration, especially in regards to the so-called “boat people” arriving from Indonesia and beyond, I feel that many issues that Hizb-ut-Tahrir have touched upon in this statement are likely to remain unaddressed. They should indeed be addressed, but perhaps not in the way that Hizb-ut-Tahrir intended.  more>>>
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Posted on 11/30/2013 12:00 AM by NER
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Saturday, 30 November 2013
The New Orientalism: Why Posh Leftists Adore Muslims & the Muslim World
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by Paul Austin Murphy (December 2013)


I feel that we in the West could be helped to rediscover those roots of our own understanding by an appreciation of the Islamic tradition's deep respect for the timeless traditions of the natural order." – Prince Charles

"Where else can you sit down in a single evening and listen to senior people from Hamas, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood…?" – John Rees (ex-SWP, now Counterfire/ Stop the War Coalition (StWC), and a regular contributor to Iran's Press TV and the Islam Channel)

Leftist Posh Boys and the Brown Exotic

There is a long tradition of posh Trotskyists/progressives condescending what they take to be the brown exotic. (Prince Charles, who's not a Trot, also indulges in this pastime with all things Islamic and Arabic; just as Sir Richard Francis Burton, another upper-class gentleman, did in the 19th century.)  more>>>

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Posted on 11/30/2013 12:00 AM by NER
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Saturday, 30 November 2013
An Alternative Israeli-Arab Peace Plan
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by Robert Wolfe (December 2013)


The main reason for the constant drift of Israeli public opinion towards a two state solution to the conflict with the Palestinians is the failure of those in the Israeli national camp to articulate a viable alternative.  Attempting to perpetuate the status quo indefinitely is no longer an effective strategy in the face of the growing pressure from the United States as well as the EU and the UN to accept a Palestinian state.  more>>>

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Posted on 11/30/2013 12:00 AM by NER
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Saturday, 30 November 2013
Appeasement in Geneva?
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by Jerry Gordon and Mike Bates (December 2013)

       with Jonathan Schanzer and Shoshana Bryen

The topsy turvey developments in the Middle East made for high drama on the international and regional stage in the waning months of 2013.

Desperate to stave off swooning  domestic poll approval ratings caused by the unraveling  the Affordable Care Act, the Obama  Administration was hopeful that an Interim agreement via the P5+1 in Geneva might bolster public opinion of its conduct of foreign affairs. On November 10, 2013, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius upended discussions in Geneva calling the interim deal by the P5+1 with a Iranian delegation a “fool’s game.”  more>>>

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Posted on 11/30/2013 12:00 AM by NER
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Saturday, 30 November 2013
Not Quite Midnight’s Children; The Karma of Kathmandu
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by Geoffrey Clarfield (December 2013)

karma  n

1. (Non-Christian Religions / Hinduism) Hinduism Buddhism the principle of retributive justice determining a person's state of life and the state of his reincarnations as the effect of his past deeds

2. (Christian Religious Writings / Theology) Theosophy the doctrine of inevitable consequence

3. destiny or fate

They say that Karma is your fate and that regardless of what you want, you will eventually fulfill your karma. But it may not be that simple. The concept of Karma is a complex piece of Hindu philosophy, which I have never claimed to fully understand, but when invited to work in Nepal for four months at the age of 59, I think my Karma took me by surprise.  more>>>

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Posted on 11/30/2013 12:00 AM by NER
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Saturday, 30 November 2013
Literary Funambulism
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by G. Murphy Donovan (December 2013)


Let us tenderly and kindly cherish therefore, the means of knowledge. Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write.” 
                            -  John Adams           
                         


Our niece is about to finish high school. Geography is a major concern as she considers a university. She wants to be as far from home as possible, but close enough to some big city. Like many an American teen, she can’t see herself too far from the fashionistas.  more>>>

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Posted on 11/30/2013 12:00 AM by NER
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Saturday, 30 November 2013
Jake Barnes: Secular Father Confessor in Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises
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by Sam Bluefarb (December 2013)


If the 12th and 13th centuries are now seen as the pinnacle of an age of faith, and the 18th, an age of reason, the consensus (at this time) appears to be that the 20th Century was a secular age. As for the 19th Century—that transitional age of relative peace—its world did not end in 1900, but in 1914, with the outbreak of the First World War; a war in which a generation of young men died, and those who survived were physically and emotionally scarred forever. That is now a largely accepted consensus. But if Jake Barnes was a member of that ("lost") generation, given the nature of his wound (chronic impotence), his is the most traumatized of his circle of spiritually empty friends—Mike Campbell, Brett Ashley, Robert Cohn. A discussion of Barnes as a secular father-confessor in a secular age must take those particulars into account. more>>>

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Posted on 11/30/2013 12:00 AM by NER
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Saturday, 30 November 2013
The Ensign's Conversion
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by David P. Gontar (December 2013)


And let thy soul be instructed.    --  Iago

The seventh novel of the third decade of "Cinthio's" (Giovanbattista Giraldi's) Hecatommithi (1565), is The Moor of Venice. This is the tale adapted by Shakespeare for his The Tragedy of Othello, circa 1604. (Bate, 2474)  In Cinthio,  the bad guy is nameless. He appears simply as "the Ensign." Unlike his disposition in Shakespeare's version, Cinthio's Ensign is in love with the Moor's young bride, called "Disdemona." The figure later known as "Cassio" in Othello is referred to with equal abstraction, as "the Captain." As Shakespeare reworked the plot he perforce refashioned its characters. It stands to reason, then, that if we would understand and appreciate Shakespeare's dramatis personae in Othello, we should ascertain the key changes he introduced in the figures bequeathed him by his Italian predecessor.  more>>>

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Posted on 11/30/2013 12:00 AM by NER
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Saturday, 30 November 2013
The Savior of Iraqi Jewish Heritage: an interview with Dr. Harold Rhode
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by Jerry Gordon (Decemebr 2013)


In May 2003, Ahmed Chalabi, prominent secular exile Shiite leader and the head of the opposition Iraqi National Congress(INC) received a visitor, the former Head of the Israel and Jewish Section of Saddam Hussein’s Mukhabarat, Intelligence Service. The visitor was seeking a safe passage document from the Coalition Provisional Authority in exchange for disclosing that there was a vast trove of ancient Jewish artifacts in what was the water-logged basement of former Intelligence headquarters in Baghdad. The Mukhabarat building had been severely damaged by a massive unexploded bomb that had pierced the water lines placing the basement under four feet of water.  more>>>

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Posted on 11/30/2013 12:00 AM by NER
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Saturday, 30 November 2013
Fighting Hitler from the Sidelines
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by Conrad Black (December 2013)

     an excerpt from Flight of the Eagle: The Grand Strategies That Brought America from Colonial Dependence to World Leadershipreprinted from the National Post.

In 1940, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was still keeping his countrymen in the dark about his political intentions, and there was teeming curiosity about whether he would break a tradition as old as the Republic and seek a third term. As the Soviet Union occupied Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, bringing to 14 the number of countries that had been occupied, starting with Ethiopia, Roosevelt staged another of his political masterstrokes, by firing his isolationist war secretary, Harry Woodring, and bringing into his administration preparedness advocate and former Republican secretary of war and state Colonel Henry Stimson and, as navy secretary, the previous Republican candidate for vice president and comrade in arms of Theodore Roosevelt, Colonel Frank Knox.  more>>>

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Posted on 11/30/2013 12:00 AM by NER
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Saturday, 30 November 2013
Lord Black: Enemy of the People
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by Rebecca Bynum (December 2013)


A Matter of Principle
by Conrad Black
Encounter Books, 2012
ISBN: 978-1594036590

Watching two days of Conrad Black's trial is a demoralizing experience for anyone who loves America and loves the law. - Ezra Levant


Americans who have had no personal experience of being prosecuted by the government imagine that the television show Law and Order is a true reflection of reality. more>>>

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Posted on 11/30/2013 12:00 AM by NER
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Saturday, 30 November 2013
No More Honor-Killings of Women in the Middle East
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There are some very active women's organizations and international units attempting to curb abuse of and violence against women. They work to bring awareness to the cultural, and sometimes religious, norms, laws, and practices that have created and preserve these conditions. But those efforts are too small-scale. This violence still occurs in many countries in the world, and it is most prevalent, especially in its most acute forms, in countries with a predominantly Muslim population. What is needed is a large-scale attack by national governments and international organizations.

At the base of this violence is the concept of honor, which women supposedly embody. Because of their lack of education and empowerment, women affected by this concept have rarely been able to challenge the nature and consequences of it.

Women are said to dishonor the community; family; and, for Muslim women, perhaps the Islamic religion if their actual or perceived behavior is regarded as violating ingrained cultural or religious norms. They may do this by obvious acts of sexual indiscretions, but also by not abiding by instructions and demands of men, family, or community, such as refusal to enter into an arranged marriage, seeking a divorce, or even wearing Western-type clothes. Sometimes "honor" has been even more misused to refer to disagreements over inheritance or to prevent women from marrying someone they have freely chosen.

Violence against women takes many forms: verbal abuse and physical beatings; being stoned or burned; disfigurement by acid; threats; false imprisonment; sexual abuse; forced marriages, in which the female is threatened to enter a marriage against her own will; female genital mutilation; and at the most extreme, murder, or "honor-killing."

The custom of honor killings of women in Arab Muslim societies is well-known. Among many others, Phyllis Chesler, in an important article, "Are Honor Killings Simply Domestic Violence?" (Middle East Quarterly, Spring 2009), pointed out that this kind of murder of women differed significantly from common domestic violence and that this is part of Islamic culture.

The United Nations Population Fund estimates -- certainly an underestimate -- that 5,000 women are killed each year for "dishonoring" their families. UNICEF calculates that about two-thirds of all killings in Palestinian territories are honor-killings. In those territories, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, 54 women were killed between 2007 and 2010, and 25 have been murdered in 2013.

Law in the patriarchal Arab countries, as in the Ottoman Empire, has sustained the cultural tradition that women have an inferior status. Men are only mildly punished or not punished at all for murdering a female relative whose behavior is judged as bringing dishonor to the family.

The leniency toward honor-killings is in practice in Arab countries. In the territories ruled by Palestinians, it is based on a clause in the 1960 Jordanian penal code that is still used. In one section of the clause, Article 340, men are completely exempt from liability for honor-killing; in another section, a "lesser penalty" is imposed. In Jordan and Iraq, the penalty for honor-killings is much lighter than for other crimes. Even more, according to the Iran Penal Code, Article 630, a husband is allowed to murder his wife without penalty if he suspects her of adultery.

The violence against women is discussed in a powerful film, Honor Diaries, a documentary written by Alex Traiman, with Ayaan Hirsi Ali as one of it producers. It consists of a roundtable discussion by nine courageous and highly articulate women of different ages, all from Muslim majority countries, who are advocates of women's rights.

In the film they discuss key issues already mentioned affecting women: lack of freedom of movement, right to education, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, lack of participation in society and politics, and honor-killings. They speak eloquently, with reasoned passion, about their personal experiences and of threats against them, and talk of their efforts to change the situation of women in their country of origin and in the wider world. They don't propose any particular scheme of action, but rather are concerned primarily with raising awareness of the plight of women and calling for reform.

For the most part, the nine women chose not to be identified with any particular party, nor do they focus on religion. Their main concerns are the cultural practices that are the basis for the abuse of women. They are critical of Western political correctness and cultural relativism. They go farther and decry the reluctance of many in the West to condemn cultural norms in other societies that justify the abuse of women.

The nine women criticize the lack of action in censuring specific practices. Why has no one been charged with conducting female genital mutilation, a fate they say suffered by 140 million women? Nor has there been any real punishment for the murder each year of at least 5,000 women in honor-killings. Little attention has been given to the more than 3,000 forced marriages having occurred during the last two years in the U.S., or the thousands of girls at risk of being forced to undergo female genital mutilation.

These nine women call for understanding and change and for help in fostering a movement that will create awareness of the present fate of women. Too often, national and international groups have spent endless energy and resources on boycotts of Israel. That energy and resources could be more profitably devoted to creating a movement to end violence against women and honor-killings in the Arab Muslim countries. It should be a high priority and is the honorable way to go. 

Michael Curtis is the author of Jews, Antisemitism, and the Middle East.

First published in the American Thinker.

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Posted on 11/30/2013 12:00 AM by Michael Curtis
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