Friday, March 16, 2007

Muslim distortions about Israel brought to you from UCLA courtesy of the Israel-hating "Los Angeles Times"

Post excerpted from SCA

The LA Times published an Op-Ed piece, Why Does The Times Recognize Israel’s ‘Right To Exist’?, by Saree Makdisi. The piece is a toast to drivel,absurdity and deceit, masquerading as ‘informed thought.’ Mr Makdisi provides a textbook look at malignant narcissism and the consequences of that behavior (an accurate, if unflattering review by his peers can be found here).

In the Op-Ed piece, Makdisi begins his remarks with outright and characteristic deceit:

First, the formal diplomatic language of “recognition” is traditionally used by one state with respect to another state. It is literally meaningless for a non-state to “recognize” a state. Moreover, in diplomacy, such recognition is supposed to be mutual. In order to earn its own recognition, Israel would have to simultaneously recognize the state of Palestine. This it steadfastly refuses to do (and for some reason, there are no high-minded newspaper editorials demanding that it do so).

It is not “meaningless” when a ‘non-state’ not only refuses to ‘recognize’ a state, but also insists on destroying that state, her inhabitants and publicly promises a new genocide (Mr Makdisi cannot make those pesky audio tapes, video tapes, newspapers, school curricula and ‘religious’ broadcasts go away).

In addition, Mr Makdisi also cannot make the opposite true- if the Palestinians are a non-state, they are not automatically entitled to any kind of special recognition or support by Israel or the international community any more than are the more deserving Kurds or a thousand and one other indigenous groups.

The Palestinians are a recent political construct and no more, who came into being after Egypt and Jordan washed their hands of them. Makdisi would predictably argue that Israel too, is a recent political construct, and to some extent, he would be correct. The reality of course is that the Palestinian political entity came to the show later on and as such, are a day late and a dollar short. Mr Makdisi is free to adopt an Orwellian dance of historical revisionisim and deny Jewish history and ties to the Holy land as do some of his colleagues, but it seems clear he wants to maintain the facade of intellectual credibility.

Makdisi continues:

Second, which Israel, precisely, are the Palestinians being asked to “recognize?” Israel has stubbornly refused to declare its own borders. So, territorially speaking, “Israel” is an open-ended concept. Are the Palestinians to recognize the Israel that ends at the lines proposed by the 1947 U.N. Partition Plan? Or the one that extends to the 1949 Armistice Line (the de facto border that resulted from the 1948 war)? Or does Israel include the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which it has occupied in violation of international law for 40 years - and which maps in its school textbooks show as part of “Israel”?

For that matter, why should the Palestinians recognize an Israel that refuses to accept international law, submit to U.N. resolutions or readmit the Palestinians wrongfully expelled from their homes in 1948 and barred from returning ever since?

What mindless drivel! Makdisi is attempting, in his own words, ‘recycle meaningless phrases than to ask - let alone to answer - difficult questions.’

Israel’s borders were absolutely defined until the Arab world insisted that they would redefine them, permanently, in 1967.

In 1967, Egypt kicked out UN peace keepers from the Sinai Peninsula. They massed troops on Israel’s borders and threatened her destruction. Radio broadcasts at the time, monitored and recorded, exhorted Arab troops to an orgy of destruction, rivers of blood and rape- literally, saying these was Islamic destiny. Syria followed suit, massing borders on Israels northern flank. The Gulf of Aqaba was blockaded (an act of war in itself) and despite pleas from Israel to Jordan’s King Hussein, he too was to enter the fray.

In response, Israel called up it’s armed forces and reserves and on June 5, 1967, launched a preemptive strike against Egypt, Syria and Jordan. It was over in 6 days. By then, Israel has crossed the Suez Canal and had taken Gaza (Dayan said, “Give me 12 hours and I can be in Cairo…”

Israel offered the land back, for peace, secure borders and mutual recognition. The Arab countries said no and ratified that ‘No’ in The Khartoum Declaration of 1968. There it was decided that violence would not cease until Israel and her inhabitants were destroyed.

Makdisi seems oblivious to the reality of realpolitick. Virtually every nation in the world came into existence by way of conflict of one kind or another. Further, Makdisi makes no mention of Palestinian and Arab world textbooks that make no recognition of Israel at all. Nor does he deal with the reality that the Palestinian curricula and media have made the physical destruction of Israel- and Jews- a reality. Makdisi also does not address the perverted religious component of that reality.

Makdisi’s concern for the Palestinians is touching. That said, his concern for the equal number of Jews booted out of Arab nations at the time is non existent. He seems to conveniently forget that UN Resolution 194 was intended to address the rights of all refugees in the region.

Saree Makdisi and UC Berkeley’s Sandy Tolan (we wrote about Tolan here) share a similar ideological platform. They differ in a few significant ways, however.

Tolan is self serving- that is, Sandy Tolan has found a niche to exploit and does so with great solemnity and with an all knowing, didactic approach (”let me explain what is really happening”). That is ideal for the NPR pablum that allows Tolan a showcase for his shallowness. That he needs to break with reality is a necessary trompe L’oeil, much like that of the Three Card Monte huckster that needs to deceive to make a living. He knows he’s deceiving everyone watching, but hey, it’s a living and besides, he means well.

Saree Makdisi is another story. His kind of deceit is much more significant, because his deceit is predicated on defending and then promulgating an agenda of hate.

Makdisi wants you to believe he ’speaks our language’ and shares ‘our cultural values,’ his ideas are meritorious and his interpretation of events in the Middle East are correct. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.

He says say the Palestinians are `just like us,' only misunderstood, because of the Israel, AIPAC, and the conspiracy theory du jour. They have kids, go to work, come home and have dinner, and they want the exact same thing we do. Sounds reasonable, right. The Palestinians are just like the Israelis, right? They are the same, right?

Well, there are a few differences Saree Makdisi neglects to mention. He would have you believe that just because Palestinians agree that hamburgers, fried chicken and pizza are terrific, we are all the same

The same Palestinians who come home and have dinner and worry about report cards are also teaching their children to hate and sometimes, even to kill some people of different races or religions. They believe in the racist and bigoted rhetoric of their society and swell with pride as their children march to the latest Hamas marching ditty, ‘Hamas! Hamas! Jews to the Gas!‘ and they listen attentively as Palestinian media reinforce racism, bigotry and hate as ‘honorable’ expressions of Palestinian ‘dignity.’

That is like saying the Ku Klux Klan is a fine and upstanding organization because they have bake sales and sponsor Little League baseball teams. Truth be told, there is very little, if any, difference between what is taught in Palestinian schools and what is KKK ideology.

Makdisi and his ilk blur the the lines in the Middle East out of contempt for democracy and freedom and to further a racist agenda.

His claim to be motivated by ‘justice’ or `peace' is laughable. In supporting causes whose fundamental underpinnings are hate, intolerance and for the denial of participation by those who are different from themselves, he is exposed for who and what he is and who and what he believes in.

Saree Makdisi is no more concerned about `justice' or `peace' than is the Ku Klux Klan- and he knows it.

From a political standpoint, Israel has every right to demand recognition and renunciation of violence from the Palestinians. For decades, the ‘occupation’ of the West Bank and Gaza, brought on by the Arab world and their subsequent refusal to negotiate for peace, has been the most benign occupation in history.

That said, Israel does not need recognition from the Palestinians or even the Arab world. They are among the most backward, corrupt and dysfunctional regimes in history. Israel stands to gain absolutely nothing from diplomatic ties with the Arab world.

Outside the Arab world, Israel has relations with almost every single nation on earth. Even nations that do not have formal relations maintain a not so discreet ‘open door policy.’ Israel and the rest of the civilized world maintain world class exchanges of scientific, educational, technological and cultural programs.

According to the UN Human Development Report, the Arab world is at the bottom of the education barrel. If Saree Makdisi really cared about the welfare of the Palestinians or the Arab world, he would be demanding that the Palestinians and Arab world forge ties with a nation that could offer them so much- and would, despite their mistreatment. That alone speaks volumes about the differences between western democracies and democratic values and the dysfunctional Arab world.

After Hate Speech, the war against ‘Mate Speech’

As the language police turn their attention to banter between buddies and football-ground chants, no area of life is safe from the censors.

Over the past 10 to 15 years, governments in the West have instituted laws against ‘Hate Speech’. To varying degrees they have criminalised the use of racist, misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic, anti-Semitic or anti-religious words by groups or individuals on the basis that they might incite hatred and possibly even violence against vulnerable minorities.

Now, if recent cases in Britain are anything to go by, the language police are turning their attentions to what we might call ‘Mate Speech’. They’re cracking down on banter between buddies, throwaway chants at football matches, and words uttered in informal, behind-the-scenes settings, on the basis that someone somewhere, if they ever caught drift of these words, might possibly be offended by them.

Welcome to the humourless society, where no off-the-cuff remark, gag or utterance is beyond the sanction of the sanctimonious word-watchers.

Last week, Conservative MP and former army colonel Patrick Mercer was sacked from the Front Bench by party leader David Cameron for saying the words ‘black bastard’ in an interview with The Times. Mercer said: ‘If someone is slow on the assault course [in army training], you’d get people shouting: “Come on you fat bastard, come on you ginger bastard, come on you black bastard.”’ Cameron said Mercer’s words were ‘completely unacceptable’ and within three hours of their being published in The Times he had kicked Mercer out of the shadow cabinet.

Also last week, eight schoolboys aged 15 and 16 were arrested in Hertfordshire, England after a couple of them chanted ‘Yid Army’ at a leaving do for Jewish teacher David Appleman. ‘Yid Army’ is a knowing term used by fans of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club to describe themselves, in recognition of the fact that much of Spurs’ traditional support came from the Jewish community in north London. Apparently Mr Appleman was ‘smiling and shaking hands with the boys’ when the incident occurred, but when he later saw a video of it on YouTube he made a complaint to the police.

Meanwhile, the police force investigating allegations of racist behaviour in the Celebrity Big Brother house in January have announced that they’re dropping the case. Who can forget the CBB incident (however much we might have tried), when an argument over Oxo cubes between reality TV has-been Jade Goody and Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty – which reached its heady conclusion when Goody said the phrase ‘Shilpa Poppadom’ – caused an international stink? The Crown Prosecution Service said that while what occurred in the house ‘was clearly offensive, it was not criminal’.

Phew. It’s not a crime – yet – to say someone’s name and then put the word ‘Poppadom’ after it.

Perhaps the most striking thing about these ‘Mate Speech’ incidents is the separation of words from intent. No one really thinks Patrick Mercer is a racist. Even those denouncing him for using ‘insensitive words’ point out that he isn’t racist and has probably done some good work in the army. The schoolboys chanting ‘Yid Army’ were using a football-ground chant that is not remotely anti-Semitic in intent; indeed it is chanted by Jewish fans of Tottenham Hotspur. And the police investigating the CBB affair have failed to uncover any evidence that the words used in the house – which ranged from ‘liar!’ and ‘fake!’ to a suggestion that Shilpa Shetty should ‘spend a day in the slums’ – had racist underpinnings.

The lack of any racist intent is clear from the fact that there are no ‘victims’ in these cases. Mercer did not say ‘black bastard’ to one of his black constituents or to a black journalist; he merely described, in a quiet and polite interview with The Times, what sometimes gets said on army training courses. Likewise, despite their best efforts, the police looking into CBB did not find anyone who thought they were a victim of racism. In interviews with the housemates, ‘everyone stated that they had not witnessed or perceived they were the victim of any racist behaviour’.

It would seem that schoolteacher David Appleman did not think of himself as a victim of an anti-Semitic slur at the time that the schoolkids were chanting ‘Yid Army’, but later changed his mind when he saw a video on YouTube. And now there are demands for Spurs fans to rethink their ‘Yid Army’ tag, despite the fact that no one in Spurs circles thinks of it as an insult that harms them: they’re the ones who chant it!

The fact that you can have an outcry, even a police investigation, over words that are not racist in intent, and which have not harmed anyone, takes censorship to a terrifying new level. These days, it doesn’t matter what your words mean, or who you say them to. It doesn’t even matter if they are true; for example, whether you think it is right or wrong that this kind of thing happens, Patrick Mercer is no doubt correct to state that during army training the phrase ‘come on you black bastard’ is used to spur on black soldiers doing obstacle courses. Rather it is assumed that there are certain words and phrases you simply cannot say these days – anywhere, anytime, to any person, or for any reason whatsoever.

So Jade Goody may not have been racist when she said ‘Shilpa Poppadom’, but you just cannot use cultural references to have a pop at people you don’t like these days. Patrick Mercer was not being racist when he pointed out that those responsible for training soldiers sometimes say ‘come on you black bastard’, but you cannot say those two words – ‘black bastard’ – anymore. The ‘yiddos’ of the Yid Army have ‘taken back’ the word yid and turned it into a badge of footballing pride – but don’t they know that you shouldn’t say the word yid in any context or at any time?

Some are understandably perplexed by this censorship of individuals who have not attacked or slurred anyone else (and who are sometimes referring to themselves!). In The Sunday Times, Rod Liddle confesses to being ‘poleaxed by the strange logic’ behind the Mercer incident, where a shadow cabinet minister is given the boot for saying something that was intended to be neither racist nor offensive, but rather was an attempt to ‘explain, with candour, what he’d observed during his time serving this country as a soldier’. Where does this perplexing censorship come from?

The idea that words can be offensive, even racist, even if they are not intended as such – and even if they are not aimed at anyone else or if the person they are aimed at does not consider them to be racist or harmful – was institutionalised by the Macpherson Report of 1999. Based on an inquiry into the investigation of the racist murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence in London, the Macpherson Report established a new definition of a racist crime and racist slur. It said that an incident should officially be deemed racial if anybody – not just the victim, but ‘anybody else’ – considers it to be racial. Such a sweepingly relativistic view of offensive speech and criminal action has become institutionalised in policing, politics and public debate in Britain.

And it has given rise to a stultifyingly censorious climate.

Speech is no longer a matter for the speaker and the listener; rather it has been laid open to third parties, to the perceptions, sensitivities and judgements of ‘anybody else’.

So what was once par for the course on army training courses – where soldiers may have been called ‘ginger bastard’ or ‘black bastard’ in order to toughen them up – is now seen as ‘completely unacceptable’ because others outside of the army culture judge it to be racist. Where Shilpa Shetty did not consider Jade Goody’s mouthy insults to be racist, they were still widely discussed as such – by numerous journalists, quango officials and politicians – because people outside of the CBB house perceived them as racist. And while ‘yid’ is used as a term of endearment by Spurs fans – tough, because there are people outside of Spurs who reckon it is anti-Semitic and thus should never be uttered.

In post-Macpherson Britain, ‘offence’ is no longer something specific between two parties, where one person might intend offence and another person might take it. Rather, offence has become a moral judgement that can be made by anyone against your words and their meaning. Words are no longer judged in context, or in terms of the impact they made on the person they were aimed at; rather they are judged by an ever-broadening category of offensiveness that can be wielded by anybody who heard your words, whether in person or, in the case of Patrick Mercer, through a newspaper story, or in the case of CBB over the TV airwaves. 

This policing of our words by the catch-all category of ‘anybody else’s offence’ alienates us from what we think, say and believe. Our words are no longer our own; anyone who hears them can attach a meaning and intention to them, beyond what we ourselves meant and intended. This massively dents our right to speak freely with one another, and it undermines our own responsibility for what we say. Apparently it is no longer for us to decide with our friends or colleagues or fellow football fans what kind of words and phrases to use, and how and when to use them; rather it is the judgements of others that really count. And, of course, it will always be the most over-sensitive souls, those who make a profession of seeking out and exposing ‘offensive words’, who will butt into our everyday exchanges and declare that they are offensive.

I always hated the campaigns against Hate Speech. They were underpinned by an insulting view of the public, who were thought to be easily cajoled into becoming hate-fuelled racists or anti-Semites. And they were more concerned with brushing prejudice under the carpet – silencing its practitioners – rather than having the argument out and really doing something to challenge inequality. The new campaign against ‘Mate Speech’ that the post-Macpherson politics of offence has given rise to is far, far worse. It has turned ‘offence’ from something real and direct into a free-floating moral code that can be used to judge anybody’s words at any time. And it intrudes into the most intimate aspects of our lives.

When any words said by anyone in any context can be perceived by anybody else who hears them, or who hears of them, as offensive, then really no area of life is free from censorship: not the football stadium, the workplace cafeteria, the rough and tumble of a training course, the school playground. And when our words can end up being judged as racist and harmful even when we meant them innocently, the end result can only be self-doubt and self-policing: we become uncertain about what to say and when to say it. We internalise the new censoriousness; our words stick in our throat.

This is deeply troubling. We need areas of life that are free from the judgements of officialdom. It is in these areas where we experiment with words and ideas and forge friendships with like-minded individuals. Football fans bond through stadium chants; soldiers become a coherent squadron by developing their own codes of conduct and lingo, however bizarre they might seem to the rest of us; schoolchildren take risks with words in the playground, away from the formal, stuffy classroom. Closing down these informal arenas - by opening them up to the sensibilities of ‘anybody else’ - is not only illiberal; it does harm to our ability to make and sustain real and humane relationships.

It is time we took back responsibility for working out amongst ourselves what we should think and say, and responsibility for the consequences of our utterances. Our thoughts and words should not be the business of ‘anybody else’, that sly codeword for the new thought and speech police who believe they know what’s best.


John Howard: Australia's "strong horse"

Comment from America by former Harvard sociologist Thomas Lifson

One foreign leader who makes me stand up and cheer is John Howard, Prime Minister of Australia. In the last year, Howard has gained increased prominence for his willingness to stand up  for a truth too few other leaders in the democratic West are willing to speak:

The truth is that people come to this country because they want to be Australians. The irony is that no institution or code lays down a test of Australianness. Such is the nature of our free society.

It would however be a crushing mistake to downplay the hopes and the expectations of our national family. We expect all who come here to make an overriding commitment to Australia, its laws and its democratic values. We expect them to master the common language of English and we will help them to do so.

When leaders lead with courage, others are inspired. Howard's Treasurer, Peter Csotello when one step further, and told immigrants who want to bring sharia law to Australia that they should move to a country where they will be more comfortable. Howard backed him up!

Now, further proof that leadership in these matters works

FIVE of the nation's most powerful Islamic clerics, including Sheik Taj al-Din al-Hilali, have been banned from talking to the media by Muslim leaders for delivering "anti-Australian" messages.
Australia's Lebanese Muslim Association (the largest group of Muslim immigrants to Australia are the Lebanese) is concerned that comments to the effect that women who dress immodestly deserve to be raped harm them.

LMA president Tom Zreika yesterday told The Australian the letter was issued to end the "perceived un-Australian viewpoints given by some clerics".

"One of the big issues is the double-speak by the various imams," Mr Zreika said.

He added that the messages some clerics delivered in Arabic contradicted comments given in English while talking to the mainstream media.

"They go on to the Voice of Islam and talk about something which really isn't in accordance with our views as Australians.

"(While) most of our clerics are selected on the basis that they have Australian values and Australian characteristics ... some of them haven't (lived) up to that."
If only CAIR would take such a position! But don't hold your breath.


Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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