Saturday, 31 August 2013
Georges Mandel
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On TV Cinq Monde last night, I saw a film devoted to that great man and memoirist Georges Clemenceau. It takes the form of a tale about how a French Canadian journalist, Mlle. Beausejour, attempts to write about Clemenceau, and has to get to Clemenceau through his chief aide and adviser, Georges Mandel. I had not realized how important Mandel had been for Clemenceau.

I did, however, know about  his refusal to leave France, when he could, and about his fate in Occupied France..

You can read about Georges Mandel here.

And if you have the time -- oh for god's sake make the time  -- you might want to read Clemenceau's memoirs.These memoirs never descend to  the Johnson-Nixon-Ford-Carter-Bush-Clinton-Bush-Obama level. Those were different times. And Clemenceau had a different formation.

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Posted on 08/31/2013 12:00 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Saturday, 31 August 2013
A Musical Interlude: Was Kann Der Sigismund Dafür Daß Er So Schön Ist (Siegfried Arno)
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Listen here.
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Posted on 08/31/2013 12:00 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Saturday, 31 August 2013
Famous Speeches In American History
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Barack Obama has described the speech Martin Luther King delivered in Washington as "one of the five best in American history." I assume the other four, in his view, would be 1) Washington's Farewell Address 2) Lincoln's Gettysburg Address 3) Lincoln's Second Inaugural and 4) Franklin Roosevelt's "Nothing to Fear But Fear Itself" Speech.

Looking ahead, the next Great American Speech is likely to be delivered by the person who is president, or possibly one of the co-presidents, in 2020.

The  subject, and indeed the title, of that speech (running approximately 2 1/2 minutes in length, which is all the audience in 2020 should be expected to endure) are perfectly predictable:

"We're way more the same than we are different."

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Posted on 08/31/2013 12:00 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Saturday, 31 August 2013
Muslim conference cancelled after Quebec objects to speakers
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From CTV News and the Globe and Mail

MONTREAL - A Muslim conference has been cancelled after the PQ provincial government objected to the participation of four speakers invited from France.

The conference, entitled Between Heaven and Earth, was to take place at the Palais des congres convention centre in downtown Montreal on September 7 and 8.

About 1,000 to 2,000 people were expected to attend the conference, which the convention centre cancelled Saturday morning due to security concerns after some groups threatened to protest against the event.

It is not clear whether the organizers will now attempt to hold the conference elsewhere.

The Independence Collective, which had organized the event, held a press conference Friday to defend itself against charges of embracing a radical view of Islam and denounced what they said was a vilification campaign against the event..

The speakers who were expected to come from France to address the conference include Mohamed Francois, president of the Information Culte Musulman, Farid Mounir, President of the Islamic Sociocultural Centre, Nader Abou Anas, president of the D’CLIC Association and Mohammed Patel an expert on legalities of Islamic finance.

The four are experienced speakers who frequently address Muslim crowds and many of their speeches can be seen on YouTube.

The Quebec authorities objected to some of their ideas, which include a critique of what they consider the sometimes too-liberal clothing habits of western women.

One speaker, Nader About Anas, had previously said that women are "servants of Allah" and are "not free to do what they want in this world."

In a letter to her federal counterpart last week, Quebec’s minister responsible for the Status of Women, Agnes Maltais, said some of the speakers were circulating ideas that violated the “principles of equality.” Maltais said the PQ government is against the sexism of speakers, who have reportedly said that not wearing the veil is worse than cancer.

This year’s edition has four speakers, including Nader Abou Anas, the head of a Muslim youth association in France, according to the conference website. In online videos, Anas is seen warning women against wearing revealing clothing and tells them to wear the hijab.

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Posted on 08/31/2013 12:00 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Saturday, 31 August 2013
The Consequences of President Obama’s Challenge to Assad’s Syria
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President Obama sought political cover when he announced Saturday, August 31, 2013, in a televised broadcast from the White House Rose Garden that he was seeking authorization and support from Congress for a limited military assault in Syria to confront the “menace” posed by Chemical Warfare (CW) attacks on Syrian civilians.  From polls taken this weekend the US is virtually divided. Thus, whatever Congressional debate over authorization of President Obama’s announced intent to punish the Assad regime will doubtless allow more time for receipt and consideration of the results of the UN inspection team. 

Watch this You Tube  video of President Obama's announcement on August 31, 2013:

Separately there were conflicting reports about the realities on the ground in Syria.  Abigail Esman in an Investigative Project, guest column, “Bombing Into Unintended Consequences in Syria” , drew attention to the likely outcome of the proposed bombing, expansion of the Sunni supremacists.

Note these comments:

True, it is a proud and longstanding facet of the American psyche to intervene in the face of human suffering, to protect the citizens of the world from the abuses of their leaders. But the question Washington needs to consider as well is not just whether we can afford another war with a still-struggling economy and a military exhausted by two others. Nor is it simply whether we should be involving ourselves in a war against a country that has brought no direct threat to the U.S. The bigger question is whether, in Syria, we are ultimately aiding those who seek our destruction. Speaking to reporters for The Hill recently, former Congressman Dennis Kucinich put it in the clearest possible terms: "So what," he asked rhetorically, "we're about to become Al-Qaeda's air force now?"

U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., has also expressed reservations, based in large part on his own visit to Syria in February. "There were a number of people who came out of Damascus to meet with me," he told me, "and conditions have only gotten worse since then. You have brutal people involved – and what if they got our weapons? How would we control it all?"

The window of opportunity for safe involvement in Syria, he feels, closed about a year ago. "Maybe two years ago we knew who the Free Syrian Army (FSA) was," he noted, "but now we don't. Maybe the CIA does, but I certainly don't." That uncertainty, for Wolf, is just a part of what makes the stakes so high. "It takes just two hours to drive from Jerusalem to Damascus," he said. "Now Jordan is in trouble. There are bombings in Lebanon. Egypt is in crisis. Syria is falling apart. What a war we'd be facing

Contrast this with the myopic piece by Elizabeth O'Bagy: On the Front Lines of Syria's Civil War, which appears to follow the Obama Administration line that bombing may help the FSA with Saudi supplied weapons   to create enclaves that would protect the various ethnic and religious minorities. This despite the inchoate attempts to establish an internal and exile opposition coalition.  O’Bagy who is a senior analyst at The Institute for the Study of War bases her assessment on observations of what is occurring on the ground in Syria.  Based on her investigations in the field in Syria she concludes:

Where does this leave the U.S. as the White House contemplates a possible strike? The Obama administration has emphasized that regime change is not its goal. But a punitive measure undertaken just to send a message would likely produce more harm than good. If the Syrian government is not significantly degraded, a U.S. strike could very well bolster Assad's position and highlight American weakness, paving the way for continued atrocities.

Instead, any U.S. action should be part of a larger, comprehensive strategy coordinated with our allies that has the ultimate goal of destroying Assad's military capability while simultaneously empowering the moderate opposition with robust support, including providing them with anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapon systems. This should be combined with diplomatic and political efforts to first create an international coalition to put pressure on Assad and his supporters, and then working to encourage an intra-Syrian dialogue. Having such a strategy in place would help alleviate the concerns of key allies, like Britain, and ensure greater international support for U.S. action.

The U.S. must make a choice. It can address the problem now, while there is still a large moderate force with some shared U.S. interests, or wait until the conflict has engulfed the entire region. Iran and its proxies will be strengthened, as will al Qaeda and affiliated extremists. Neither of these outcomes serves U.S. strategic interests.

However, there are overarching consequences of the proposed bombing campaign by the US in Syria. One is unleashing a more dire threat alluded to in President Obama alluded to in his White House Rose Garden announcement, Assad’s using Biological Warfare (BW).  Dr. Jill Bellamy van Aalst, an expert on Syria’s BW  noted  in an opinion article for  Israel Hayom , the immediate threat to America’s only reliable ally in the conflict zone, “Israel:  Are Biological Weapons Next on Assad’s Agenda?”:

Assad's use of chemical weapons should serve as a wake-up call on his ability to use highly portable and devastating biological warfare agents. National security echelons in Washington should view this as an important message.

Given Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's remarks this past weekend, Israel knows that use of both chemical and biological weapons by the Assad regime represents a clear and present danger. If Assad is capable of using chemical weapons near Damascus, he is equally as capable of launching biological weapons, which pose a global pandemic threat. After increasing evidence of a mass-casualty chemical weapons attack in Syria, the international community no longer has the luxury of standing by and seeing what is next on Assad's weapons-of-mass-destruction agenda.

An area that perhaps, Ms. O'Bagy didn’t visit was the Kurdish heartland in Syria’s northeast that is teetering on the break of a major humanitarian disaster because of al-Qaeda threats and conflicting divisions among the Syrian Kurdish leadership.  Kurds have fled in the hundreds of thousands to the adjacent Kurdish Region in Iraq.  Robert Sklaroff and Sherkoh Abbas (see our interview  with Abbas in the June 2012 NER Will There Be Room for Kurds and Other Minorities in a Post-Assad Syria ) noted this in an article published this weekend in the blog Israpundit, “The Kurds Can Lead a Reborn Syria, At Peace with ALL of Her Neighbors”.

They noted:

American ships are rushing to the Levant, presumably preparing to launch a bombing-campaign in reaction to the mass-gassing that Assad again directed at his citizenry. Although pundits could analyze the reasons for—and consequences of—the delay of this effort, it is only necessary to “get into the weeds” far enough to identify how a “coalition of the willing” can quickly be assembled to stop the slaughter…and to build a stable, peaceful Syrian society. The Kurds have been issuing humanitarian appeals to the international community to save the Syrian Kurds, but it seems their plight is finally being “heard”…or maybe not!

Minority ethnic and religious groups hope to create a secular democratic federal republic led by secular Sunni Kurds, Arabs, Alawi moderates, Christians, Druze, and Turkmen.  Kurds played a substantial role as Syria gained independence from France. Inasmuch as they are the country’s second largest ethnic group, the Kurds can play a very positive, democratic role in forging its future. 

Those who claim that there is only one choice in this matter (arming Assad or the “Rebels”) must be helped to view the conflict within a larger context. Opposition is not homogeneous. Urgently acting upon humanitarian concerns could dovetail with the need to help long-term friends of the United States who can be depended upon to help others build a modern Syria.  The Syrian Kurds could be the leading contingent in a post-Assad Syria and deserve our help.

Ms. O'Bagy's comments belie the tragedy unfolding in Syria's Northeast-the heartland of the country's Kurds. Division among Kurdish factions and the presence of Al Qaida fighting units have driven hundreds of thousands into the sanctuary of adjacent Iraqi Kurdish Region. There is a looming humanitarian crisis that Kurds will likely face this winter, as the civil war has deprived them of cultivation of the bread basket of Syria in their northeastern enclave. Moreover, that is also where Syria's oil reserves are located.

There is vastly more catastrophic Biological Warfare (BW) threat and the ease by which the Assad could transfer pathogens to terrorist proxy Hezbollah. Think of Iranian supplied drones already in the possession of Hezbollah making a swarming attack on Israel with releases of pandemic pathogens.

O'Bagy praises the FSA fighting contingents and the help from the Saudis using Croatian supplied 1990's gear in Syria's south. However, without a Syrian government in Exile composed of moderate Sunnis, Alawites, Druze and Kurds backed by the US, UK, France and others there is no future for Syria.

Where is the future for Syria? Perhaps one should revert to the past under the French Mandate when Syria had a weak central government with ethnic semi-autonomous provinces.

But the aftermath of a possible strike on Syria's meager air assets and command and control echelons may achieve nothing more than havoc for the beleaguered population.  A rush of weapons and supplies to Assad's forces from Iran and Russia along with more IRGC Qods force and proxy Hezbollah contingents could occur.

Syria's civil war looks eerily familiar. Think of the actors in the Spanish civil war and the outcome. George Orwell in Homage to Catalonia portrayed the betrayal of the Republican government by Stalinist Communists that faced National forces supplied by Mussolini and Hitler's Condor Legion. 

The Syrian geo-politics are dissimilar from those operating in 1930’s Spain.  Unlike the West’s position in the Spanish Civil War with weapons embargoes against the Republican side, the US, Qataris and Saudis have been beavering away supplying weapons for questionable opposition forces.  The most effective of those opposition forces are seeking to overcome Assad’s military in the coming battle for control of Damascus and its suburbs.  Bombing and filtering of arms to the opposition will only embolden these Jihadis seeking to establish a Sharia governed Syrian Sunni Emirate.  That would threaten any freedom for Syria’s religious and ethnic minorities, especially the Alawites, Syriacs Orthodox Christians, Druze and Kurds.

Sic Gloria Transit, Syria Mundi.

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Posted on 08/31/2013 12:00 AM by Jerry Gordon
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Saturday, 31 August 2013
A Literary Interlude: Self-Portrait In A Convex Mirror (John Ashbery)
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Posted on 08/31/2013 12:00 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Saturday, 31 August 2013
Imagined Worlds
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by Bibhu Padhi (September 2013)


for Milmun

There is this wish to recognise

oneself in light, in darkness.  more>>>

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Posted on 08/31/2013 12:00 AM by NER
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Saturday, 31 August 2013
Redemption
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by Moshe Dann (September 2013)


Mendel the shofar-blower was a loser, a nebbech, a shlep. Neither learned nor successful, a man of no special talents or features, you could tell by his clothes he had no taste. Tall, thin with a scraggly beard, his rumpled pants and mismatched jacket hung on him like a scarecrow’s rags. At middle age, with no family and few friends it seemed that he’d always been that way. Yet, once a year, on Rosh Hashanah, he stood in front of the congregation with his shofar to open the ears of the Almighty.  more>>>

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Posted on 08/31/2013 12:00 AM by NER
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Saturday, 31 August 2013
HRH Queen Elizabeth II's 2013 Speech in the Event of a Nuclear War
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by NB Armstrong (September 2013)


When I spoke to you less than nine months ago, we were all enjoying the warmth and fellowship of a family Christmas. Now we must face up to the hardships brought about by a full thermonuclear exchange. Who would have guessed it?

If you are hearing these words on satellite then the worst of it may have passed. If you are hearing them in the form of Morse code, god help you. And if you are watching them through the signing for the deaf woman in the bottom corner of the screen at least you didn't hear the explosions. They were a right bloody racket.  more>>>

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Posted on 08/31/2013 12:00 AM by NER
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Saturday, 31 August 2013
So Why Tower Hamlets? This is Why.
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by Esmerelda Weatherwax (September 2013)


So why Tower Hamlets?

That is the rhetorical question asked by one “Jo Makepeace” writing in Indymedia about the EDL’s forthcoming demonstration in Tower Hamlets on 7th September. Now there may genuinely be a lady christened Josephine by her loving parents Mr and Mrs Makepeace. But Jo Makepeace is also the persona of a group of left-wingers based in Brighton.  more>>>

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Posted on 08/31/2013 1:57 PM by NER
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Saturday, 31 August 2013
Alger Hiss Yet Again
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by Richard Kostelanetz (September 2013)


It’s good to see a third edition of Allen Weinstein’s Perjury (Hoover Institution) some thirty-five years later, because it has survived as definitive, to use an encomium more persuasive to academics than the rest of us. Thanks to exhaustive research, Weinstein concluded decades ago that Alger Hiss did indeed spy for the Soviet Union and thus was indeed guilty of perjury.  more>>>

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Posted on 08/31/2013 12:00 AM by NER
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Saturday, 31 August 2013
Gerstenfeld Notes The Antisemitism, But Not Israel's Repeated Failures To Adequately Defend Itself
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When the Israelis, and those who are horrified by their plight, begin to explain the nature of the war being waged against Israel -- and that means discussing Islam, letting facts be submitted to a candid world, and discussing as well the without-end nature of the Jihad, it will never begin to get the hearing it ought all along to have received.

The Israelis tend to wait and wait. They waited -- why? -- while Hezbollah was allowed to acquire 65,000 missiles in Lebanon. Only now do they begin to bomb when the Syrian government tries to send more weaponry to Hezbollah.

They waited, and waited, and did nothing, and even seemed to validate, the determined and relentless Arab campaign to convince the world that there exited a "Palestinian people" and that the Jihad against Israel was not a Jihad but, rather, a "struggle" of another "tiny people" -- the "Palestiinians" -- who because of what they were named, surely had a claim to a place that in the Western world, since the Roman re-naming, has been known mainly as "Palestine."

The Israelis missed their chance in the summer of 1967 when they ought to have told the world that, in accordance with the Mandate for Palestine, they were now permanently annexing what the Jordanians had called "the West BanK" and that they were prepared to negotiate over the Sinai and Gaza. Furthermore, they could have said, of course we hope to give the local Arabs -- no one then called them "the Palestinian people" -- as muc autonomy as will be consonant with our security.

That would have accomplished a lot.

Why they have repeatedly been so ill-equipped to defend themselves against the most transparent of propaganda campaigns is a fascinating question. I've offered one answer before: that the Israelis could not themselves see that the heart of the matter was Islam, because for years they had tried to cultivate good relations with non-Arab (largely secular) Muslim states and regimes, especially Turkey and Iran. Now Turkey is ruled by Erdogan, and Iran by the epigones of Ayatollah Khomeini. Fond hopes and wishful alliances have proved temporary, the malice and menace of Islam is forever.
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Posted on 08/31/2013 12:00 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Saturday, 31 August 2013
Edward Gorey’s Peculiar Talent
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by John Broening (September 2013)


Was there ever a book more at odds with its age than Amphigorey, Edward Gorey’s collection of morbidly droll illustrated primers, alphabets, limericks and children’s’ tales, which appeared in 1972?

In fashion, art and design, the early 70s were the era of the prolonged psychedelic hangover, and everywhere you looked at the time-in shop windows, on book and album covers and cereal boxes, on sports uniforms (as in the notorious Houston Astros getup) you saw a garish sherbet rainbow; Gorey’s illustrations, by contrast, were in stern monochrome; he worked almost exclusively in black and white, and even his whites seemed infected with black.  more>>>

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Posted on 08/31/2013 12:00 AM by NER
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Saturday, 31 August 2013
Culture Wars: To Discipline the Devil's Regions
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by David Hamilton (September 2013)


The subtitle is from line 4 of Hexagram 64 of the legendary Chinese Book of Change, the I Ching. The following is taken from David Hamilton's new book.

Art

How does Vermeer's Delft differ from contemporary works of art? There is no intent to provoke negative feelings and the vision is realised by a remarkable technical talent; the content is appropriately expressed by the form. It shows a beautiful partly cloudy sky in the early morning, and beneath the skyline of Delft is clearly demarcated. There is a shaft of sunlight illuminating the rooves of the houses along the Lange Geer canal, the tower of the Church and a striking contrast between where the light falls and the tower and their shadowy surroundings that creates a sense of depth.  more>>>

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Posted on 08/31/2013 12:00 AM by NER
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Saturday, 31 August 2013
The Decreasing Freedom of Free-Speech
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by Jake Neuman and Jon MC (September 2013)

Universal Free Speech

The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states in article 19:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and to seek, receive and impart information through any media and regardless of frontiers." UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 19. (1948)

In its formulation the UDHR drew on two earlier declarations, the US Constitution (1776-1789) and its first 10 amendments - collectively called the “Bill of Rights” (1791) and the French “Declaration of the rights of man and citizen” (1793), both of which enact free-speech clauses.  more>>>

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Posted on 08/31/2013 12:00 AM by NER
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Saturday, 31 August 2013
“Truth is on the March”: an Interview with Philippe Karsenty on the Al Dura Hoax Trials
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by Jerry Gordon (September 2013)

Many in France, Israel and the West consider Philippe Karsenty as “the Emile Zola of the 21st century” given his role unraveling the al-Dura film hoax and blood libel. Karsenty in France has been at the center of the al-Dura blood libel trials since 2004. These have involved accusations of defamation by France 2 TV news and Charles Enderlin, an Israel-based Jewish producer of the French TV news network. The al Dura affair began at the start of the Second Intifada on September 30, 2000 with a staged video of a Palestinian father Jamal al Dura sheltering his 12 year old son Mohammed allegedly dying from gunfire near the IDF Netzarim outpost in Gaza. It was used as agit-prop by Palestinians and even the late Usama bin Laden to accuse Israel and World Jewry as being child killers. Several investigators in Israel, France, Germany and the US after looking at the film and forensic evidence declared it a staged hoax.  more>>>

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Posted on 08/31/2013 12:00 AM by NER
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Saturday, 31 August 2013
Beware! Global Jew-Hatred Rising
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by Jerry Gordon (September 2013)





Demonizing Israel and the Jews
By Manfred Gerstenfeld
RVP Press  ISBN 978-1-61861-336-3




A new book, Demonizing Israel and Jews, elucidates anti-Semitism which originated over 2,000 years ago in ancient Egypt. The earliest known instance is a different version Exodus story told by an Egyptian priest named Manetho in the Third Century BCE, who reverses the Biblical Exodus account and instead depicts the Jews being ejected as “unclean people.” A pogrom against Jews in Alexandria was witnessed by Philo in the First Century CE. That strain of violent anti-Semitism subsequently found fertile ground in both Christianity and Islam. Both doctrines accused Jews of deicide and blood libel.  more>>>

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Posted on 08/31/2013 12:00 AM by NER
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Saturday, 31 August 2013
Anti-Israelism is Anti-Semitism: an Interview with Manfred Gerstenfeld
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by Jerry Gordon (September 2013)


Manfred Gerstenfeld, the former Chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is a noted author and commentator on European and World anti-Semitism. He recently published a book of interviews, Demonizing Israel and the Jews. The book presents important themes on how prevalent anti-Semitism, anti-Israelism and what Gerstenfeld terms "humanitarian racism" are in the West today. See our review in the current edition of the New English Review. Vienna-born Gerstenfeld is a Holocaust survivor who grew up as a child of Jews hidden in Holland not far from Anne Frank’s hiding place in Amsterdam. A product of a strongly Zionist and Orthodox Jewish family he left Amsterdam for Paris in 1964 to become a premier pharmaceutical industry stock analyst for Eurofinance - a consortium of 16 international banks.  more>>>

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Posted on 08/31/2013 12:00 AM by NER
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Saturday, 31 August 2013
The Portrait
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by Geoffrey Clarfield (September 2013)


Recently I received a picture in the mail. It is a painting of a man in his mid forties. He wears blue pants, a brown leather belt and a loose fitting long sleeve shirt with an open collar. Underneath is a simple blue t-shirt. A container for sunglasses sticks out of his breast pocket and he wears a light canvas hat with a rim. You can’t see all of his face, which is covered by a trimmed beard. There is a touch of gray above and below his lip and he stands like someone in his mid forties, with one hand in his pants pocket.  more>>>

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Posted on 08/31/2013 12:00 AM by NER
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Saturday, 31 August 2013
Answers
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1) Everyone knows about the Mayflower, which took the Pilgrims to Plymouth in 1620. And some think they  know that the ship that took John Winthrop and his fellow Puritans to Salem in 1630 was called the Arabella. But it wasn't the Arabella. It was the Arbella. The  epenthetic "a" is pleasing, and more natural, to the ear, and what's more, may possibly be reinforced by American childhood memories of Clarabell, the clown on The Howdy Doody Show. Yes, "Arabella" is understandable. It is also wrong.

2) These articles are commonly referred to as "The Federalist Papers." But they should be referred to as "The Federalist." Or, in a pinch, as "The Federalist papers." I was wrong in describing them as appearing anonymously. They appeared, instead, under the name "Publius." Perhaps Publius was a relative of Junius, whose letters had such an impact in the pre-revolutionary period of America's existence.

3) Dolley, not Dolly, Madison. And even if lively Mrs. Madison may have been Dolley at school, I doubt that she was ever Dolores on the dotted line.

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Posted on 08/31/2013 12:00 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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