Sunday, 30 November 2014
A Short Musical Interlude: Shanghai Nights (Zhou Xuan)
clear

Listen here.

clear
Posted on 11/30/2014 8:52 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
clear
Sunday, 30 November 2014
Ma Ying-jeou
clear

Yes, the name stumped me too. 

Now why is that? 

clear
Posted on 11/30/2014 8:36 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
clear
Sunday, 30 November 2014
How The Alevis Are Treated By The Sunni Regime In Turkey
clear
clear
Posted on 11/30/2014 5:19 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
clear
Sunday, 30 November 2014
Iraqi Army 'Had 50,000 Ghost Troops' on Payroll
clear

From the BBC:

An investigation into corruption in the Iraqi army has revealed that there were 50,000 false names on its payroll.

Known in the military as "ghost soldiers", they either did not exist or no longer reported for duty, however their salaries were still paid.

A statement from the PM's office said the payments have been stopped.

Correspondents say rampant corruption in the Iraqi army is seen as one of the reasons why it has struggled to contain Islamic State militants.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, quoted by AFP news agency, said the investigation began when the latest salary payments were made.

"Over the past few weeks, the prime minister has been cracking down to expose the ghost soldiers and get to the root of the problem," said Rafid Jaboori.

It is thought that the salaries were siphoned off by corrupt officers.

An unnamed officer told AFP that the 50,000 names include soldiers who had deserted or were killed in recent fighting.

The US has spent billions of dollars trying to build up the Iraqi army.

But security forces were caught by surprise by an IS offensive last summer and lost huge swathes of territory in northern and western Iraq.

clear
Posted on 11/30/2014 2:53 PM by Geoffrey Clarfield
clear
Sunday, 30 November 2014
Inside and Outside of Gerineldo-From the Gardens of Spain and the Mountains of Morocco
clear

At its best, not only is the Alliance Française a private institution that promotes French language and culture, but it is also an umbrella organization that provides a haven for all that remains true, good and beautiful in France and among French speaking countries, a cultural entity that the French call “La Francophonie.”

Quebec is very much part of this cultural world and so is Ontario, to a lesser degree, with its surviving French speaking communities outside of Toronto and, a bilingual college at Glendon Campus, part of York University in Toronto. On November 2 the Alliance Française of Toronto demonstrated its commitment to this wider, inclusive definition of La Francophonie, by hosting one of Canada’s most remarkable musical treasures, an ensemble that was founded in Montreal, called Gerineldo.

In 1492, the year that Columbus crossed the Atlantic and discovered the New World, his patrons, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella ordered the forced conversion or expulsion of the remaining Jews of Spain, a country which had had a Jewish presence since the time of the Romans. Despite a seven hundred year period of Moorish, Arabo-Islamic cultural florescence, within which the Jews of Spain had played a major role, by the time of the expulsion, many of the regional languages and dialects that eventually became modern Spanish had become their mother tongue and so, these Jews sang the songs of Spain, including ballads whose texts can sometimes be traced back to medieval Spain.

This latest branch of the tree of Israel then found refuge in the Sultanates of Morocco (and in the Ottoman Empire), just across the straits of Gibraltar in what the Arabs call the ‘Far West,’ “Al Maghreb al Aksa.” There, they joined the patchwork of well-established ancient Jewish communities, which included the Berber speaking Jews of the Atlas Mountains, and the Arabic speaking communities of the coastal plain, as well as the Saharan borderlands. These recent immigrants from Spain were so confident of the excellence of their culture that they called the earlier Jewish communities of Morocco “forasteros” or wanderers, as if to imply that their less sophisticated culture made them somehow less substantial than the newcomers!

For centuries, these Spanish speaking Jews, or Sephardim, kept themselves apart from the other Moroccan Jewish communities, but over time there was some intermarriage and cultural exchange. However, the Jews of Northern Morocco, in particular in the towns of Tetuan and Tangier and nearby settlements, continued to speak varieties of Spanish in their homes and sang the songs of Spain, while in their synagogues they continued to teach their children Hebrew, living lives according to Jewish law, the Halacha.

At the same time, as the Sephardim also spread to nearby Algeria and Tunisia, they and their Arab Muslim neighbours together kept alive the Arabic court music that had been brought by Muslim and Jewish émigrés from newly reconquered Spain, what is now called the music of Al Andalus. Many Jews were great exponents of this complex tradition (such as Raymond Leyris, late father in law of the French pop music star, Enrico Macias). They often adapted its melodies to the needs of the synagogue, especially to an ancient tradition of Hebrew religious poetry (the Piyyut). As we do not have a clear idea of which way musical influences went, it is quite possible that synagogue melodies may have found their way into this secular repertoire of their hosts, as once occurred among Jewish musicians of the classical musical tradition in Iran.

barrio_hebreo_tetuan
Tetuan, Northern Morocco, The Jewish Ghetto (eSefarad.com)

On November 25, the ensemble Gerineldo performed a selection of secular and sacred songs in a style that was and remains remarkably close to the musical tradition of the Spanish speaking Jews of Morocco, yet aesthetically available to any outsider who knows how good music should sound.

The performance consisted of just over twenty songs, which included four Hebrew poems, Piyyutim (sometimes with Spanish refrains). One was sung with what I can only call that typical “sandiness” which informs the singing style of so many Spanish speakers, such as Moroccan born singer and scholar Solly Levy, whose good nature and love of life spilled out of his renditions. For those who associate the sacred with the austerity of Gregorian chant, his rendering of a religious Jewish hymn surged with enthusiasm, giving us a distinctly different take on what it means to be “spiritual.”

Later in the evening Solly’s grandson (Matan Boker), amazed the audience with his young rich voice in the rendition of a Hebrew Piyyut sung in the style of the masters of the classical music of Al Andalus. He was well accompanied on the oud by Demetrios Petsalakis, a recent migrant from Greece to Toronto, from the younger tradition of Greek folk music revivalists, who are rediscovering the once profound participation of Greek musicians in the 19th and 20th century Ottoman musical world, a world where so many Sephardic musicians rose to eminence in Greek and Turkish musical circles (one of the most famous being Rosa Eskenazi, a Ladino speaking Sephardic Jew who sang in Turkish and Greek and is now considered by Greeks as one of the founding divas of modern Greek popular music).

The artistic director of Gerineldo, Oro Anahory Librowicz, who like Solly emigrated from Spanish Morocco to Montreal decades ago, introduced the songs alternatively with Judith Cohen. Oro, Solly and his grandson Matan, are all indigenous carriers and explorers of their own musical traditions and are able to express their erudition with charm and sophistication. Oro is a solid singer with a fine sense of rhythm, and maintains a friendly yet dignified (and sometimes mischievous) stage presence, which often becomes humorous and a bit risqué, as so many of the Spanish songs have obvious or hidden erotic meanings. She shares these with the audience with appropriate wit and subtlety.

Sex, both licit and illicit, permeates the lyrics of so many ballads, for example the variations of the ballad Gerineldo. As Oro explained to the audience, according to one of the optimistic renditions of this song, among Spanish-speaking Jews of Northern Morocco, in times of trouble one hopes to have “the good fortune of Gerineldo” (who instead of a death sentence, was made a prince for seducing the daughter of the king). This is the kind of contextual information that so often comes from an insider to a tradition.

Several songs were performed traditionally, i.e. a capella, or only with percussion. All in all, the complex division of labour that supports the ensemble, both on and off stage, consists of Oro’s PhD and repertoire research, her back up singing and rhythmic clapping , her finely honed introductions and, Solly’s meaningful interpretation of both Spanish and Hebrew melody. Then there is Judith’s PhD and repertoire research, her vocals and performance on bowed vielle, traditional hand percussion, recorder and introductions. Tamar sings, does traditional hand percussion and dances while Demetrios plays oud and riqq. It is a well-honed group.

If Solly, Oro and Matan are “insiders” to the tradition of Spanish Sephardic music, having been born and raised within that branch of the tree of Israel, who are the outsiders in the ensemble? And at this point, are they really outsiders?”

Judith Cohen is an Ashkenazi Jew from Montreal who has spent her life exploring, documenting, teaching and performing the music of the Mediterranean with a focus on the Sephardic tradition, as it was rediscovered by performers, scholars and musicologists (like herself) during the last one hundred years. She has spent days, weeks and months at a time, living among Sephardic and Mediterranean communities both here and abroad and, she inhabits a soundscape that is distinctly non North American.

As the late great ethnomusicologist, Mantle Hood once advocated, she has become “bi-musical,” as at home in North American Anglo and French musical folklore and performance as she is in the Mediterranean music world, from medieval times to the present. A former oud student of the late Sami Al Maghribi, one of modern Morocco’s greatest singers (and a chazzan in a Montreal synagogue) her renditions of Sephardic music pass the muster for those who were born into the tradition. And that is why, so many years ago, Solly and Oro invited her to join their ensemble. But to everyone’s pleasant surprise, some years later, they ended up getting “two for one.”

Being of a peripatetic nature, Judith has travelled and performed extensively in Morocco, the Balkans, France, Spain, Turkey and Israel with her daughter Tamar Ilana, who from an early age, imbibed the folklore of the Sephardim and related Mediterranean peoples, at her mother’s feet and, who started performing with her on stage when still quite young. Last night Tamar played drums, danced and sang to the delight of her fellow musicians and the audience.

As a well trained Flamenco dancer and singer, she performed a stunning version of the ballad Gerineldo as it is sung by the contemporary Flamenco musicians of Andalucía; the people whose ancestors, along with the incoming Gitanos (Roma, or Gypsy as they were once called) inhabited southern Spain after the Jews were expelled. In an eerie and uncanny way, these people who came to Andalucía after the Jews left, now sing the ballads that the Jews took with them from their ancestral homes in Spain, into the wider diaspora. The people are long gone, but the song has remained. Had Garcia Lorca lived, no doubt he would have written a poem about this.

The living musical tradition of the Jews of Morocco now resides among the 3000 Jews in Casablanca, and the even smaller, remnant communities in Marrakech, Tangier, Essaouira, Fes, Meknes, and Agadir, among immigrants in Europe and the Americas and, in the land of Israel where it flourishes and has influenced the wider national musical culture. In homage to this phenomenon, three representatives from the office of the Consul General of the State of Israel in Toronto, were official guests of the Alliance at Gerineldo’s performance.

The range and authenticity of the performance would not have been possible without the efforts of a number of scholars going back to the turn of the last century. The first group was Spanish scholars who discovered that Jewish communities in Morocco and in the Ottoman Empire were speaking a form of what they considered ancient Spanish. They focused on the ballads that were still sung, largely by Moroccan and Ottoman Turkish Jewish women in the household and community. They began to write them down and compare them to the ballads that had survived in Spain. They then realized that they had a common origin in the daily life of medieval Spain.

The next group was the musicologists and the ethnomusicologists such as Levy, and Armistead and Silverman, among many, many others. These were and remain largely Israeli, European and North American Jewish scholars who were not only interested in Spanish balladry but, who began to explore the musical basis of these Spanish ballads as well as the non-Spanish, Hebrew, Aramaic and Arabic musical repertoires of the Sephardim. These scholars were and continue to be influenced by ethnomusicological theory. Many hoped that because these ancient ballads had survived in oral tradition, perhaps the music of the ballads retained some trace of ancient Spanish melodies.

Alas, after a century of investigation, no written trace has ever been discovered of melodies that may go back to the time of the expulsion. In the case of the Jewish women of Morocco and the Ottoman Empire, ballad melodies reflect the wider musical culture, and in the specific case of Northern Morocco, so close to Spain, the influence of modern Spanish music, both folkloric and popular, is evident.

Since WWII, as this repertoire of music became more widely known, through publications and recordings, a number of ensembles in the Jewish cultural world have attempted to bring it to the stage. Gerineldo is just one of them. In my opinion they are among the best, as they balance solid research with the needs of giving a good show.

But there have been other performers who have harmonized the music, added strings and choral polyphony or even turned many of the songs into “fusion” like pieces. Some of these interpretations, such as those sung by the Israeli duo the Parvarim, can be quite beautiful. Admittedly, their interpretations sound like Simon and Garfunkel singing in Hebrew and Spanish but, they have developed a loyal following in and outside of Israel. They are just one group among the many that have dipped into this music.

Many of the songs that people now think of as the “top ten Ladino hits” are actually songs from the late 19th-early 20th century. Some were learned from Spanish singers on tour in the former Ottoman lands, some from early phonograph recordings (from a phonograph industry that began in Constantinople around 1906), and in Morocco from Spain during the Spanish Protectorate years. One of Gerineldo’s strengths is the fact that they bring this old repertoire of ballads (narrative ballads, not ballads in the modern popular sense) as well as related life and calendar cycle songs back to life, and leave most of the “modern” love songs to other performers, many of whom do them very well.

Then amidst all this confusion, a generation of largely non-Jewish musicians who have been researching and recreating the music of the European Middle Ages, has discovered the Sephardic Jewish repertoire. They now mingle it among their interpretations of songs of the troubadours from early Europe, whose oral tradition died out centuries ago. These musicologists and performers also draw deeply on the folklore of rural Europe and the music of North Africa and the Middle East, hoping that since these musics may have changed less than the music of Europe during the last one thousand years, then, they may actually be closer in spirit to the music of people like the Sephardim and living models for the recreation of medieval music.

Finally, one is confronted with an official Spanish government supported tourist policy that highlights the exploration of the sites where Jews once lived in Spain, often supported by supposedly “medieval Jewish musical ensembles,” usually made up of non-Jewish Spaniards claiming that they are playing authentic Jewish music from before the expulsion (which does not exist!).

Actually, these musicians are playing somewhat souped-up up versions of archival recordings collected by ethnomusicologists and interpreted in a loosely pan Mediterranean style for the consumption of American and other tourists. But such a “purist” and “traditionalist” take on Mediterranean music is now out of fashion among contemporary musicologists and post modern thinkers who argue that “anything goes,” in the words of the once famous Jazz composer, Cole Porter.

The good news is that because of the scholarship of people like Oro, Judith and Solly we can better hear and understand the last strains of a musical and lyrical tradition that survived for more than five hundred years. When we hear Gerineldo perform, we are hearing music that is as close as we can hope to the sounds of Jewish family and community life as it was lived, once upon a time, in the gardens of Spain and the mountains of Morocco, centuries ago.

First published in the Times of Israel.

 

clear
Posted on 11/30/2014 2:41 PM by Geoffrey Clarfield
clear
Sunday, 30 November 2014
There's So Much One Could Say About Ben Rhodes, Why Bother With This?
clear

In the belief that ex ungue leonem, and that there is no claw-clue as telling as carelessness with language, I put into evidence this: 

In the Dec. 1 issue of The New Yorker, in an article about Angela Merkel, on p. 60:

"Benjamin Rhodes, Obama's deputy national-security adviser, told me that 'the President thinks there's not another leader he's worked closer with than her.'

And re-read, study even more closely, the speech Barack Obama delivered in Cairo on June 4, 2009, in which he expressed his admiration and affection for Islam, a faith which shared so many of the American ideals, including the respect for the rights of people everywhere, and a faith that he, Barack Obama, would personally make sure was  not slandewred or spoken ill of, and he continued in this vein, even alluding to the important (though non-existent) Muslim contribution to America, for in his view Muslims have always been part of the rich fabric of America That absurd and offensive and dangerous speech, we are told, was one that Benjamin Rhodes played a major part in drafting. Rhodes his ignorant of Islam, of American history, and now there's one other thing I'd like to add: he's semi-literate to boot. He's par, that is, for the Washington course and all those people taking those leadership roles.    

clear
Posted on 11/30/2014 11:33 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
clear
Sunday, 30 November 2014
First Sunday in Advent
clear

Finding a version of the Advent hymn Hills of the North Rejoice with the traditional words, not the politically correct modern verson, took a little effort. This is the Choir of Guildford Cathedral in Surrey, uploaded only a few weeks ago. It hasn't had many listens yet; it deserves more.

clear
Posted on 11/30/2014 11:40 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
clear
Sunday, 30 November 2014
Danes fighting for Isis in Syria on welfare benefits
clear
Denmark has one of the world's most generous unemployment insurance systems, with those on the dagpenge scheme receiving up to 801 kroner per day (108 euros, $134) for up to two years. However, some of the jihadists were on the significantly more modest basic unemployment benefit known as kontanthjælp
 
Denmark has the second largest number of foreign fighters in Syria relative to its size among Western nations, after Belgium, according to some estimates.Germany's intelligence agency said last week it believes 550 Germans have joined extremist groups in Syria and Iraq. Authorities had previously estimated the number at 450. Britain believes around 500 of its citizens are fighting for Isis.
clear
Posted on 11/30/2014 11:26 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
clear
Sunday, 30 November 2014
Profile of a Jihadist: terror arrestee revealed
clear

According to a report in the Austrian daily Kronen Zeitung, the ring-leader of the 13 alleged jihadists who was arrested in a series of raids in the early hours of Friday morning was a major player in a global terror network. The Local looks at the profile of the alleged Bosnian-Serb mastermind.

The 105 square meter apartment in Vienna's modern Donau City residential neighbourhood was invaded without warning around 4 a.m. on Friday morning by Austria's elite heavily-armed police special forces team WEGA.

Their target, a 33-year-old Bosniak imam (preacher) known by the nom-de-Guerre of Abu Tejma, is officially unemployed, but has been very busy over the past few years.  According to security sources, Mirsad O. is allegedly at the heart of a network of Islamic extremists who have been promoting jihadism, actively recruiting cannon-fodder for the wars in Iraq and Syria.

Furthermore, he is likely to be charged with coordinating financing for jihadism and possible terror operations far away from the peaceful city he makes his home. Despite having no apparent income, the welfare recipient Tejma maintains an expensive car, as well as five children with another one on the way, his pregnant young wife swathed in a full-body veil.

Originally from the small Serbian town of Tutin in Sandzak region, Tejma was known in Bosnia-Herzegovina as a preacher of hatred and intolerance, who very soon found himself allied with the extreme form of Islam known as Wahabism, which has been aggressively promoted -- and heavily funded -- in former Yugoslavia by Saudi Arabia.

According to Austrian anti-terrorism authorities, Tejma turned up on their radar more than three years ago, when he began uploading videos onto his Youtube channel.  Since two years, intelligence officials began to tap his communications, monitoring his phone calls and presumably developing a network of his associates and friends, patiently gathering evidence.

One of those connections is allegedly a direct line to the caliph of Isis terrorism, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi from Syria, making Abu Tejma a very important player in the Austrian jihadist scene. Tejma speaks excellent German, ... guiding the faithful and attracting the disaffected to a life of jihad ... two teenage girls originally from Bosnia started attending sermons given by the charismatic Imam.  Within a few short months, they were radicalized, and traveled to Syria to marry jihadists.

Based on the evidence gathered by authorities, Tejma is far more than a sympathizer, but has been actively engaged in coordinating the collection of funding for Isis, as well as recruiting jihadists to fight in Iraq and Syria. Even more sinister was his recent questioning of the faithful in Vienna's mosques about whether they had daughters of marriageable age, presumably to entice and reward the jihadists joining the fight under the black banner of Isis. 

Tejma now sits in prison ...Police in Austria believe that they have struck a major blow against a likely terrorist network 

clear
Posted on 11/30/2014 11:16 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
clear
Sunday, 30 November 2014
Fitzgerald: Occupation? What Occupation? [Re-posting]
clear
clear
Posted on 11/30/2014 9:55 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
clear
Sunday, 30 November 2014
Fitzgerald: Judea, Samaria, And "Occupied Lands"
clear

Re-posted from a previous re-posting, here.

clear
Posted on 11/30/2014 9:53 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
clear
Sunday, 30 November 2014
Take On, Expose, Attack, Make War On, That Jihad-Propagandistic Use Of The Word "Occupation"
clear

That's what counts most. Explain what the word "occupation" means, when used correctly. Explain that the misuse of that word, its misapplication, to Israel in relation to the territories that were allocated to the Mandate for Palestine, that is for the future Jewish State (the exclusive purpose of that particular Mandate -- others were for other peoples,  including the Arabs, who ended up with 22 states), is part of a vast propaganda jihad, one directed not only at Israel, but at the entiire non-Muslim world, and non-Muslim peoples who accept and promote this part of the propaganda jihad are weakening a present and future ally, encouraging Muslim aggression, and endangering themselves. For the Jihad doesn't stop with a little sliver of territory on the edge of Asia. It makes claims on the whole world.

This, and nothing else, is what matters most: the forgetting or obscuring of history, the ignorance of Islamic doctrine, the refusal to listen to those who, despite the failure of so many Israelis (see Haaretz for examples every day) to correctly or convincingly make their own case, know exactly what's going on. All the rest, for now, the attention to this or that particular tendentious reporter or editorial board, the misstatement of this or that evidence of Arab malevolence, such as the long-distant myth of Al-Dura -- that's part of the propaganda Jihad, but above all else right now, is that damned word "Occupation." Its use has to be held up for inspection, and everything that has led to that misuse,, including ignorance of history, of   the League of Nations' Mandates system, of the many non-Arab and non-Muslim peoples in lands dominated by Muslim Arabs, of the failure of that mandates system when the mandatory authority for the Mandate for Palestine failed in its responsbilities, and when the Mandate for an independent Kurdistan was undone by Turkey, and when the assumption that Christians would continue to remain demogrpahically strong and dominant in Lebanon, and when the local Arabs were still weak, still dependent on the West, and rulers despoticcally able (Saddam Hussein, the Assad dynasty) to hold in check those who would attack the Christian, who, as Christians, were a source of economic growth with their higher degree of education and civilization, who were a welcome source of whatever cultural enlightenment was possible (even a symphony orchestra, even museum curators), and those Christians, most important for the despots who held the real Muslims in check, never constituted a threat to those despots who protected them.

Don't let the word "occupation," the word "occupied" pass, the way so many let pass that absurd construct, the  "Palestinian people." Re-impose the truth, or at least show what the truth is, and make them self-conscioius and force them to be apologetic -- the BBC, NPR, tutti quanti -- in misapploying that  word "occupationl." Don't allow yourself to think that it's too late, nothing can be done, that battle has been lost, and  so on. It's not true.

clear
Posted on 11/30/2014 9:34 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
clear
Sunday, 30 November 2014
When Austerity Isn’t Austere
clear

What’s in a word? Sometimes, I think, quite a lot. The use of a single word can amount to a subtle lie. Reading French newspapers, I’m struck by how often the word “austerity” appears to discuss current economic policy in Europe, particularly in France. I am not concerned here with whether the policies that European countries have followed are wise or foolish, or whether deflation is a greater danger than inflation. When you find yourself in an impossible situation, all policies have their dangers. But misleading language that goes uncorrected is always dangerous.

According to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, austerity means “severe self-discipline, abstinence, asceticism.” Is that the word to describe the policy of, say, the French government?

Suppose that, for a number of years, my spending had been larger than my income, so that I had accumulated a large debt. Suppose also that I had nothing to show for my excess expenditure, which has all gone to increase my level of current consumption. Interest payments on my debt now exceed my outlays on such items as food, clothing, and shelter. The bank to whom I owe the money tells me that things cannot continue like this.

I agree that things cannot go on in the same way, and, as a token of my seriousness, I promise that henceforth, I shall not drink my nightly bottle of Meursault but only half a bottle of Chablis. This will reduce my excess expenditure from, say, 6 percent of my annual income to 4 percent. I call this sacrifice of Meursault for Chablis “austerity.” Would anyone take me seriously?

But by using the word “austerity,” I convince myself that I am really making a huge sacrifice, beyond which no one can reasonably expect me to go. Indeed, I am already suffering horribly from my austerity, for I really like Meursault with my scallops. But is forgoing it really “severe self-discipline, abstinence, asceticism”?

Analogies, by definition, are inexact, and household accounts are not the same thing as national accounts. Nevertheless, to call a reduction of excess government spending “austerity” seems to be, in essence, a lie designed to give the impression that government spending has been cut to the bone. Perhaps it ought not to be cut to the bone, and perhaps it would be unwise to try to do so; but that is another question entirely.

While the newspapers report government austerity, they also report that fewer French people are taking holidays this year and more are staying at home. Whether this has anything to do with government “austerity” is an open question: the answers given by various writers seem as much dependent upon their preconceptions as upon any new evidence. Is deciding not to go on holiday “austerity”? It certainly requires more self-discipline than the government has shown, but whether it amounts quite to abstinence and asceticism is, again, another question.

Meanwhile, across the Channel, government “austerity” even greater than the French government’s seems to be working. This year, the British government will need to borrow only $179,859,000,000 to meet its current expenditure, whereas last year, it was $192,217,000,000. Actually, the difference was accounted for by an increase in tax receipts on property transactions, thanks to a government-fueled housing boom. Surely you can’t get more austere than that?

clear
Posted on 11/30/2014 9:02 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
clear
Sunday, 30 November 2014
Jordanian MP Khalil Attieh, On Why It's So Right To Hate The Jews
clear

Here.

And Reason #16 -- Jews are the "sons of apes and pigs" -- the Islamic phrase, Islamic attitudes, Islamic thoughts, are always at the forefront of Khalil Attieh's troglodytic forehead. 

clear
Posted on 11/30/2014 8:15 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
clear
Sunday, 30 November 2014
An Epithalamium In Pictures On The N Train
clear
clear
Posted on 11/30/2014 7:29 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
clear
Sunday, 30 November 2014
Jeremy Taylor, Thou Shouldst Be Living At This Hour
clear

You might then publish a new book, and sell it, along with a brand-new reprinting of that one you wrote so long ago, in a two-volume boxed set. 

The title of that new book? 

Assisted Living and Assisted Dying

clear
Posted on 11/30/2014 7:01 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
clear
Sunday, 30 November 2014
Start With Abdulla Ahmed Ali
clear

Google his name. See what he had planned to do, had worked so busily on in Pakistan, to perfect his soft-drink bombs that were to be placed in luggage. Then read about his being "observed," and then arrested, and then about his trial, and his conviction, and then his appeal to the European Court in Strasbourg based on his claim of a violation, by the government of Great Britain, of his "rights." Go ahead. Add up the amount of man-hours devoted to this one case, and the amount -- the many millions of pounds spent -- on this one man, who lived in Great Britain, who had a chance to see a non-Muslim society, to observe non-Muslims, and who decided, his Islam having decided it for him, that he hated those Infidels, and wanted to destroy them. And then add up the numbers, the hundreds of thousands whom, at a minimum, live in Great Britain are his fervent supporters, and the millions more who do not denounce him, and who become indignant if anyone even suggests looking into what is actually to be found in the Qur'an and Hadith, that is who are intent on preventing the non-Muslims in whose countries they have been allowed to settle to inform themselves about Islam. And think of how their numbers grow, and how those growing numbers are an ever-increasing expense and drain, and cause the indigenous non-Muslims to reconsider their own plans, their own careful attempts to limit their families because of the less-attractive, more-disturbed atmosphere that the large-scale  presence of Muslims in so many places has helped create, and the greater expense, it is now silently understood, from the multifarious state support (education, housing, medical care) freely given to Muslim immigrants and their brood, and the security apparatus required to monitor, and then to deal with in the courts and prisons, such a large percentage of those same Muslims. And it's the same everywhere in the countries of Western Europe, not with "all immigrants" but, overwhelmingly, with Muslim immigrants. By now everyone understands this. Why is not being discussed, continuously and openly, while the problem is still - just -- manageable? What is the point of delay? What do those who pretend otherwise, who look away, or who keep squawking about how the latest atrocity, the one this hour, somewhere in the world, has nothing nothing nothing to do with Islam? 

clear
Posted on 11/30/2014 6:30 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
clear
Sunday, 30 November 2014
The Temple Mount Controversy
clear

Jerusalem is sacred to Jews and has been for over 3000 years. According to the Tanach, (Hebrew Bible) King Solomon built the First Temple (aka Solomon’s Temple) there around 960 BCE according to the building specifications in the Torah. He intended it as a permanent resting place for the Ark of the Covenant which contained the Ten Commandments. Upon completion, he invited Jews and non-Jews to pray and sacrifice there and urged God to pay particular heed to their prayers by saying:

"Thus all the peoples of the earth will know Your name and revere You, as does Your people Israel; and they will recognize that Your name is attached to this House that I have built" (I Kings 8:43).

And there it stood for 500 glorious years until the Babylonians conquered the city, sent the Jews into exile and destroyed the Temple in 586 BCE. Seventy years later many Jews returned from exile and rebuilt the Temple (Second Temple).

During the first century B.C.E., Herod, the Roman appointed head of Judea, made substantial modifications to the Second Temple. He built a huge plateau (600’ x 700’) around it which necessitated the erection of enormous walls (Herodian Walls). It is to the remnant of these walls, otherwise known as the Kotel, the so-called Wailing Wall, that the Jews pray.

In 70 CE, the Romans destroyed the Second Temple, tore down much of the walls, massacred hundreds of thousands of Jews and exiled many more.

Since then Jews have lamented the destruction every year on Tisha B’Av, repeated in their prayers, “next year in Jerusalem” and prayed three times a day for the Temple's restoration.

The 1947 UN Partition Plan denied Israel the Old City, preferring to make it a Corpus Separatum (Latin for "separated body) due to its shared religious importance.

After Israel declared its independence in 1948, Jordan and other Arab countries attacked Israel.

The Armistice Agreement signed in 1949 formalized an armistice line where the fighting stopped leaving Jordan in possession of all land east of the line including the Old City in Jerusalem. This agreement obligated Jordan to enable "free access to the holy sites and cultural institutions and use of the cemeteries on the Mount of Olives." Nevertheless, Jordan barred Israelis from entering the Old City and other holy sites. Jordan systematically destroyed the Jewish Quarter and its ancient synagogues and used gravestones from the Jewish Cemetery on the Mount of Olives to build latrines for Jordanian army barracks.

In 1950 Jordan formerly annexed these territories, but such annexation was only recognized by Britain, Pakistan and Iraq. All Arabs living there became Jordanian citizens.

But Jordan spent no money on Jerusalem and totally ignored it. And so it remained until 1967 when Israel, in a defensive war, conquered Jerusalem and all lands claimed by Jordan west of the Jordan River. These lands became known as the West Bank to some, but not to the Jews who saw them as Judea and Samaria from biblical times.

The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, (JCPA), recently published The Israeli Relinquishment of the Temple Mount as part of a series of articles explaining the “Al-Aksa is in danger” libel.

From it one learns that the legendary Moshe Dayan, Israel’s Minister of Defense who was in charge of these conquered lands at that time, announced  “We did not come to conquer the sacred sites of others or to restrict their religious rights, but rather to ensure the integrity of the city and to live in it with others in fraternity.”

The Prime Minister Levi Eshkol Eshkol, for his part, announced to the chief rabbis of Israel that they would be responsible for arrangements in the vicinity of the Western Wall, and promised the religious leaders of the Christian and Muslim communities that they would continue to determine the arrangements at the places holy to them: namely, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Temple Mount.

“Dayan decided to leave the mount and its management in the hands of the Muslim Wakf, while at the same time insisting that Jews would be able to visit it (but not pray at it!) without restriction. Dayan thought, and years later even committed the thought to writing, that since for Muslims the mount is a “Muslim prayer mosque” while for Jews it is no more than “a historical site of commemoration of the past…one should not hinder the Arabs from behaving there as they now do.”(8) The Israeli defense minister believed that Islam must be allowed to express its religious sovereignty – as opposed to national sovereignty – over the mount; that the Arab-Israeli conflict must be kept on the territorial-national level; and that the potential for a conflict between the Jewish religion and the Muslim religion must be removed. In granting Jews the right to visit the mount, Dayan sought to placate the Jewish demands for worship and sovereignty there. In giving religious sovereignty over the mount to the Muslims, he believed he was defusing the site as a center of Palestinian nationalism.”

This arrangement became known as the Status Quo.

JCPA published an article by Nada Shragai, in Nov 2014, titled The “Status Quo” on the Temple Mount.

“The basic elements of the status quo he (Dayan) devised included:

“The Waqf, as an arm of the Jordanian Ministry of Sacred Properties, would continue to manage the site and be responsible for arrangements and for religious and civil affairs there.

“Jews would not be permitted to pray on the Temple Mount, but they would be able to visit it. (This right of freedom of access to the Mount was also eventually anchored within the context of the Protection of Holy Places Law.)

“Israel, by means of its police force, would assume responsibility for security in the sacred compound, both within the site itself and regarding the wall and gates surrounding it.

“Israeli sovereignty and law would be applied to the Temple Mount as to the other parts of Jerusalem, to which Israeli law was applied after the Six-Day War. (This stipulation was approved more than once by the Israeli High Court of Justice.)”

This status quo changed over time due to Arab threats of violence. This article concludes by saying,

“The old status quo on the Temple Mount no longer exists. It has changed fundamentally in major ways that greatly strengthen the status of the Muslim side on the Mount and greatly weaken the status of the Jewish side there. At the same time, one of the main elements of the old status quo, the one that prohibits Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, has been zealously maintained.”

Now when Jordan demands that the “Status Quo” be maintained and Prime Minister Netanyahu swears to do so, they are referring to the current status quo and not the original one.

The JCPA article first referred to above continued:

“According to the Protection of Holy Places Law (1967), the religious affairs minister is indeed authorized to exercise his power and lay down regulations for Jewish and Muslim prayer on the mount; but those who have held this post have avoided doing so, conforming with the governmental decree. The Supreme Court as well, to which Jews have appealed numerous times to change this policy and allow Jews to pray at their holiest of places, has backed the government’s policy for considerations of “maintaining order and public security. The court has determined that the right to pray is not enforceable without regulations, and that implementing the right without such regulations would pose a grave danger to public peace.(10) In its ruling in the case of The Temple Mount Faithful(11) v. Tzahi Hanegbi (the internal security minister at the time),(12) the court clarified that, ‘every Jew has the right to ascend the Temple Mount, to pray on it, and to commune with his Creator. That is part of the freedom of religious worship; that is part of the freedom of expression. At the same time, this right, like other basic rights, is not an absolute right, and in a place at which the likelihood of damage to the public peace and even to human life is almost certain – this can justify limiting the freedom of religious worship and also limiting the freedom of expression’”.

But Jordan is also involved. Art 9 of the Peace Treaty between Jordan and Israel signed in 1994 included:

“2. In this regard, in accordance with the Washington Declaration, Israel respects the present special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in Muslim Holy shrines in Jerusalem. When negotiations on the permanent status will take place, Israel will give high priority to the Jordanian historic role in these shrines.

“3. The Parties will act together to promote interfaith relations among the three monotheistic religions, with the aim of working towards religious understanding, moral commitment, freedom of religious worship, and tolerance and peace.”

" apd-campid="85" apd-clickurl="http://cdn.firstimpression.io/delivery/ck.php?oaparams=2__bannerid=1865__zoneid=99336__cb=9d7ceab2c4__oadest=" apd-contenttype="html" apd-event="load" apd-filename="" apd-height="250" apd-id="apdel9933601" apd-logurl="http://cdn.firstimpression.io/delivery/lg.php?bannerid=1865&campaignid=85&zoneid=99336&loc=%2Farticles%2F2014%2F11%2Fthe_temple_mount_controversy.html&cb=9d7ceab2c4" apd-options="{" apd-shown="1" apd-type="incontent" apd-width="300" apd-zoneid="993360" appendedad="true" campaignid="85"> 

In practice, freedom of religious worship on the Temple Mount is denied only to Jews. King Abdullah makes a point of screaming for the protection of Al-Aksa Mosque in order to placate the Palestinians living in Jordan and Judea and Samaria. He announced “Jordan will continue to confront, through all available means, Israeli unilateral policies and measures in Jerusalem and preserve its Muslim and Christian holy sites, until peace is restored to the land of peace," and that he will oppose any Israeli attempt to change the "status quo" regarding holy sites in Jerusalem. Pure grandstanding. PM Netanyahu has sworn to uphold the status quo.

 

Israel could pass regulations with respect to praying on the Temple Mount in which event Jews could pray there. But she is loath to do so for the same reasons that Dayan turned the keys over to the Waqf; fear of making this a religious dispute rather than a territorial dispute.

But the truth of the matter is, it is a religious dispute even if Israel maintains the Status Quo.

Daniel Pipes in his article, The Muslim Claim to Jerusalem, enlarged on the attachment of Jews to Jerusalem and then asks “Where does Jerusalem fit in Islam and Muslim history? “

“It is not the place to which they pray, is not once mentioned by name in prayers, and it is connected to no mundane events in Muhammad's life. The city never served as capital of a sovereign Muslim state, and it never became a cultural or scholarly center. Little of political import by Muslims was initiated there.”

In contrast, Jerusalem or Zion appears in the Torah, 823 times and in the Koran, not once.

Pipes posits that Jerusalem now looms so large in Muslim consciences:

“Because of politics. An historical survey shows that the stature of the city, and the emotions surrounding it, inevitably rises for Muslims when Jerusalem has political significance. Conversely, when the utility of Jerusalem expires, so does its status and the passions about it. This pattern first emerged during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad in the early seventh century. Since then, it has been repeated on five occasions: in the late seventh century, in the twelfth-century Counter-crusade, in the thirteenth-century Crusades, during the era of British rule (1917-48), and since Israel took the city in 1967. The consistency that emerges in such a long period provides an important perspective on the current confrontation.”

What motivates the Arabs is not their fundamental attachment to Jerusalem or the Temple Mount but their desire to prevent Jews from exercising sovereignty over both.  Similarly they are not motivated to create a 23rd Arab state, Palestine, but to destroy the one Jewish state, Israel. In order to achieve their goals, they create false narratives which they fortify with propaganda, lies and threats of violence.

Not mentioned in this rundown is the Arab destruction and disregard of the ancient remains that would advance our knowledge of the temple periods.

During the Rabin government, at the time the Oslo Accords were signed, Manfred R Lehmann wrote: Palestinians Destroy Remnants of the First and Second Temples. I can do no better but to quote a major part of the article.

[T]he Waqf has now been found to have perpetrated extensive vandalism and destruction and has wrought terrible destruction on the Mount of important archaeological remains. All this came out when a vigilant Jewish group, "The Temple Faithful," brought suit against the Waqf in Israel's Supreme Court. Watching ancient property being tragically and wantonly destroyed, the Temple Faithful first brought suit in 1986, but the decision was only handed down a few months ago. The verdict came out in favor of the Jewish claimants, the Waqf was found to have violated the Antiquities Law of 1978 and the Planning and Building Law of 1965 by building over archaeological remains and covering them with dirt and by planting olive trees, whose roots would damage any archaeological remains below. The verdict listed 35 violations involving irreversible destruction of important archaeological remains. For example, the Waqf had destroyed the remains of a wall belonging to the Temple built of huge hewn stones, which were part of the foundation of the eastern wall of the Second Temple. Other stones thought to be part of the First and Second Temples were covered with dirt, where structures were built or trees planted on top. All these remains had more sanctity than even the Kotel (the Wall).

Defying Jewish concerns with impunity, the Waqf went right ahead with further desecration and destruction of ancient Jewish remains on the Temple Mount, even while the Supreme Court considered the case. The Court found that this destruction resulted in irreversible damage to historic sites of the greatest importance to Jews and Jewish history. The total indifference of the Israeli government to these horrendous losses is shown by the fact that the Court was advised that "for political reasons" its verdict cannot be implemented and that no one wanted to force the Waqf to abide by the law because of the "sensitive religious and political nature of the case and the need to preserve public order." The case also brought out that the Israeli government never even carried out a survey of the Temple Mount, which would have yielded a scientific "inventory" of all the remains from the First and Second Temples. It would also have helped fix the exact location of the Temple, which is still being argued by scholars.

Very few have heard of the lawsuit and the favorable verdict and the cowardly and weak response from the Israeli government. Surely national religious and historical Jewish interests should have outweighed the groundless argument of the "the need for preserve public order." How about preserving Jewish pride and vital links with the Temple Mount? A terrible hole has now been torn into the fabric of the continuity of Jewish presence in Jerusalem and the anticipation of the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple. Long ago the American Biblical Archaeological Society urged the Israel antiquities authority to carry out exactly such a survey -- but the request was ignored.

The neglect of the Temple Mount and its Jewish remains by the Rabin government is nothing short of a major scandal.

A few years later in 1999, Hershel Shanks and Suzanne F. Singer wrote, Digging at Temple Mount Verges on the Unholy:

Without the required authorization from the Israel Antiquities Authority, the Waqf--the Islamic Religious Council in charge of the Old City's Islamic sites, including the Temple Mount--has been illegally excavating and hauling off truckloads of earth and unceremoniously dumping the precious cargo into the Kidron Valley. The excavated dirt is carted off at night to avoid attention.

The excavation is being carried out underneath the Temple Mount in an underground vault, known as "Solomon's Stables," in which a mosque is also located.

In a protest published last week in the Hebrew daily Haaretz, archaeologist Ronny Reich, who is directing the most important excavation in Jerusalem, bemoaned what we might have learned from the Waqf excavation had it been carried out properly.

What about all the pottery and coins we could have discovered," he asked, "some still sealed in datable foundation trenches?" Several people claim that the dumped material is laced with architectural fragments as well as pottery shards.

Another prominent Jerusalem archaeologist, Gabriel Barkay, says his students saw remains from both the First and Second Temple periods in the excavated and dumped material.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time the Waqf has destroyed ancient archaeological features on the Temple Mount. In the 1980s, an unauthorized trench dug by the Waqf to relocate utilities uncovered an ancient wall thought by an archaeologist who briefly saw it to be from the time of King Herod and Jesus. It was probably a wall of one of the courts of the Second Temple, Herod's Temple. The wall was six feet thick, and more than 16 feet of it was exposed, but the entire wall was quickly removed and the area covered before Israeli archaeological authorities could study it.

What may be priceless archaeological treasures from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem are being destroyed, and the government is standing by helplessly.

First published in the American Thinker.

 

clear
Posted on 11/30/2014 6:20 AM by Ted Belman
clear
Sunday, 30 November 2014
'Terror link’ charities get British millions in Gift Aid
clear

Andrew Gilligan in The Telegraph

Charities accused of supporting jihad in Syria and other forms of terrorism have been paid millions of pounds by British taxpayers. Groups under investigation for allegedly aiding Syrian militants have used the Gift Aid system to claim large sums from the public purse.

Among them is Al-Fatiha Global, a Midlands-based charity which is being investigated by the Charity Commission after the chief executive’s son was apparently pictured in Syria with his arms round two masked men holding AK47s. He denies the photograph is of him.

Unpublished accounts seen by The Telegraph show that Al-Fatiha’s donation income went from just £4,038 in the calendar year 2012 to more than £1.2 million in 2013. The auditors refused to approve the accounts, saying that “sufficient records were not kept” of “goods distributed to beneficiaries in Syria.”

Remember Al-Fatiha is the charity that murdered English hostage Alan Hemming was with when he was kidnapped. He ended up beheaded and the rest of the party (pictured here) got home unscathed, although they won't talk about how they got away. I wonder what the going rate to supply and fit up one English hostage is these days? 

However, even the accounts show that goods worth £27,159 were donated to IHH, an organisation banned in the Netherlands and Germany and raided by Turkish police this year after accusations, which it denies, of terrorism. 

Al-Fatiha has been paid at least £20,000, and almost certainly far more, by the British Government under Gift Aid, a scheme which allows participating charities to claim back the tax paid by their donors. For any donation given under Gift Aid, the charity is paid at least a further 25 per cent “top-up” by the Government. More than £1 billion was paid to charities under the scheme last year.

Khalid Mahmood, Labour MP for Birmingham Perry Barr, said: “If the allegations against some of these charities are proven, it seems clear that British taxpayers could actually have funded Isil and other terrorists in Syria. That is a deeply disturbing prospect.”

Others paid thousands of pounds of public money in Gift Aid include IERA, a charity closely linked to a number of the “Portsmouth jihadis” - six young men from the Hampshire city who travelled together to fight for Islamic State (Isil) in Syria. At least two of the six, Mehdi Hassan and Ifthekar Jaman, and possibly as many as five, were members of the “Portsmouth Dawah [Prayer] Team,” a group which proseltyses in the streets of the port. 

Other recipients of thousands of pounds in Gift Aid include Aid Convoy and Worldwide Ummah Aid, both of which have been placed under investigation after police seized substantial amounts of cash from? some of their trustees, which they were unable to account for, as they left the country. Children in Deen, which is under investigation after taking the first British suicide bomber in Syria, Abdul Waheed Majeed, to the country, has also received Gift Aid.

The charity Muslim Aid, which is also under Charity Commission investigation after “irregularities” in two of its overseas field offices, received £1,263,000 in Gift Aid from the Government in 2013. The investigation is not Syria or terrorist-related. However, Muslim Aid has admitted funding organisations closely linked to the banned terror groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad and is itself banned in Israel as a funder of terrorism. It is closely linked to the extremist Islamic Forum of Europe, which wants to create a sharia state in Europe. 

Not all charities declare their Gift Aid income, but for those which do not The Sunday Telegraph has examined records from websites such as JustGiving, Charity Giving and MyDonate, which act as umbrella platforms channelling donations to charities. These sites do show which donations were made to charities under Gift Aid.

They are by no means a complete record since only around 30 per cent of charitable donations are made through these sites. Several, including JustGiving, have also removed Al-Fatiha and other suspect charities from their platforms, meaning that many records of Gift Aid donations made through them have also vanished. Many records remain accessible through internet archives and caches, however. 

Read it all

clear
Posted on 11/30/2014 2:24 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
clear
Saturday, 29 November 2014
Listen to Lisa Benson Show Sunday 11-30-14 with Sarah Stern of EMET and Kris "Tonto"Paronto on 13 Hours in Benghazi
clear

clear
Posted on 11/29/2014 10:53 PM by Jerry Gordon
clear
clear
Showing 1-21 of 405 [Next 20]