Friday, May 07, 2010

The British elite are misleading the public about Israel

Israel is being “delegitimised and demonised” by misinformed British public opinion, the country’s ambassador to the UK has claimed. Ron Prosor told The Times that there was a discrepancy between the Westminster government’s treatment of Israel and the position adopted by members of the public, media and universities which, he argued, could result in suppression of balanced discussion.

“Sometimes we feel people from the outside are pointing fingers at us instead of giving us a big hug, which is what we need in this region,” Mr Prosor said. “We are the only democracy in this region and the challenges we have against us are enormous. People are not aware of that — or not enough aware of that.

“I think governments are more aware of the challenges — and the relations between governments are very, very strong — but I am afraid because there is a gap between the Government and the public opinion this will, at the end of the day, go against Israel in the long term.”

Last month Mr Prosor’s deputy, Talya Lador-Fresher, was forced to flee anti-Israel activists after she gave a talk at Manchester University. A previous lecture she had agreed to give was cancelled after alleged threats.

The incident was condemned at the time by Mr Prosor, who said that it was indicative of the extremism in British universities. Speaking before a lecture and question and answer session hosted by the International Politics Association (IPA) of the University of St Andrews, he praised British-Israeli economic and scientific relations.

However, he added: “There is a feeling that the government relations are much better than the perspective of public opinion as is defined in the media, at the university level and at the NGO level. We have a serious situation where Israel is being delegitimised and demonised on a variety of issues which convey Israel as if it were really not the way we really are — a democratic country.”

Defending Israel against criticism of its settlement policy, which has strained relations between the state and the US, he said that it was not only reaching for peace but making concessions for it. “This is the first government in Israel, under Binyamin Netanyahu, who has basically put a freeze on settlements,” he said. “Is it the full monty? Probably not, but it shows what Israel wants to do.”

Speaking as Israeli-Palestine proximity talks were due to get underway, he welcomed the discussions but indicated that he believed them to be an unnecessary precursor to direct talks: “I am very, very happy we are beginning them. I personally don’t believe we need proximity talks but if they are the framework to go back into negotiations then so be it. We should be talking to each other.”

Although Mr Prosor did not face the same opposition in St Andrews as his colleague encountered in Manchester, a small band of protestors, alerted by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, assembled outside the building where he was due to speak. Last month a Scottish court threw out the case against members of the campaign who had been accused of racial aggravated conduct by protesting at a Jerusalem quartet concert during the Edinburgh International Festival.

Brandon Soeiro, the president of the IPA, defended his decision to invite the ambassador to speak. “The point of our society is to provide a platform for all speakers and provide insight to all the most pressing geopolitical questions of the day,” he said. “If we are not willing to engage in reasoned debate with reasonable people in a reasoned forum, then there can really be no hope for peace.”


Muslim fundamentalists want to ban tale of One Thousand and One Nights

The epic tale of One Thousand and One Nights may soon be banned in Egypt if a group of concerned citizens gets its way. A little-known organisation calling itself Lawyers without Restrictions recently filed a lawsuit calling for the iconic story collection to be confiscated and its publishers imprisoned.

The publishers, in this case, would be the Egyptian Government’s own General Authority of Culture. Efforts to contact Lawyers without Restrictions for comment were unsuccessful.

According to local press reports, the group’s lawsuit cites Article 178 of the Egyptian criminal code, which bans publication of material deemed “offensive to public decency”. Violations of that code bring a jail sentence of up to two years.

If successful, the action will deprive Egyptian readers of one of the most enduring cornerstones of ancient Middle Eastern literature. A hodge-podge collection of stories dating back as far as the 10th century and drawn from Arab, Persian and even Indian folktales, One Thousand and One Nights has no single author and no one definitive version. The tales are framed as a series of bedtime stories told to the King Shahrayar by his new wife Scheherazade. The bloodthirsty king was in the habit of marrying a new woman every night, then executing her in the morning.

But the crafty Scheherazade avoids this fate by telling her husband a series of stories. The nights usually end with a cliffhanger, leaving Shahrayar unable to carry out the death sentence if he wants to hear the ending. She is able to string out her storytelling for more than three years.

Many of the tales certainly do contain aspects that would be objectionable to readers with delicate sensibilities. These include plenty of Canterbury Tales-style bawdiness, including premarital and extramarital sex.

“There’s lots of sex and some of it is quite descriptive depending on what version you get,” said a Cairo-based professional translator.

The suit is the latest example of the hesba phenomenon at work in modern Egypt. A long-established aspect of Islamic jurisprudence that allows private citizens to police societal values, hesba claims have had a resurgence in recent years with critics saying it has become a convenient tactic for publicity seekers and fanatics. Recent targets of hesba suits include Nawal El Saadawi, the outspoken feminist writer, Naguib Sawiris, the Christian business tycoon, and Sayed al-Qimni, the secular intellectual who was awarded the State Award for Merit in Social Sciences in 2009.

Egyptian writers condemned the complaint, calling for the Prosecutor-General to dismiss it. “Those who want to destroy our heritage are taking the same path as the Taleban when they destroyed Buddha’s statutes,” Mohammed Salmawy said, promising to file a counter-complaint.

Ultimately, the lawsuit may not get far in court. But previous hesba lawsuits have proven successful, occasionally with surreal results.

The most notorious case was in 1995 when Nasr Abu Zayd, the prominent Cairo University linguist, lost a hesba suit based on his writings. A local court declared Abu Zayd an apostate, and involuntarily divorced him from his wife.


Leftist love of destruction on show in Australia

They're happy with anything that tears down the civilization they live in

By Andrew Bolt

I am told I've engineered the sacking of The Age's most popular columnist, noted barbarian Catherine Deveny. But I'm told that for this service to the state I must now be sacked in turn. The Left demands it. To even the score.

Yes, that really is how adolescent and tribal are the howlers who, like Deveny, have drowned out so much civilised debate. But first the background.

Deveny was fired on Tuesday by Age editor-in-chief Paul Ramadge for having sent more of her spittle-flecked tweets. This time she'd been lolling on her couch on Sunday, watching the Logies, when she spotted on the screen the demure Bindi Irwin, just 11.

Cleverly using her opposable thumbs, Deveny banged out this tweet: "I do so hope Bindi Irwin gets laid." This, she later explained, was one of her "grown up jokes".

Here's another, also sent this same wild night after she saw comedian Rove McManus with Tasma Walton, whom he married after his first wife died of cancer: "Rove and Tasma look so cute ... hope she doesn't die, too."

Still, it wasn't until two days later that Deveny was fired, with Ramadge declaring it was because "the views she has expressed recently on Twitter are not in keeping with the standards we set at The Age".

This startled me, I admit, because until then I had no idea The Age kept any standards at all. Until then, Ramadge seemed happy to pimp a woman whose one trick was to throw a tantrum with as many foul words as she could get away with, in the hope that this would be seen as "brave", "courageous" and "challenging", as she rather forlornly put it this week.

Until then, The Age had promoted as its marque columnist a woman whose fame rested on yelling "get your rosaries off my ovaries" to Opposition Leader Tony Abbott on television, or calling conservative broadcasters "c---s", or Anzacs "racists", or Liberal MP Peter Dutton a "boong" hater with the "face of a rapist".

I do not wish to speculate on what drove Deveny to scream so frantically for attention. But more than six months ago I warned The Age on my blog that it was exploiting someone it should instead help, and not simply because she was trashing its brand - or, indeed, pandering to a rising tide of f--- you barbarism that threatened us all.

The cause of my warning then was that Deveny had just written of standing up at a meeting to shout at Cardinal George Pell that she'd aborted her baby and wanted to know if it would go to hell.

Any wise and compassionate adult would consider this a scream of pain, fear and rage, and not at all a "grown up joke" or exercise of reason. Yet The Age continued to employ Deveny, applying that feral abacus of our dark age - subtracting sales gained from today's educated barbarians against those lost from the truly civilised, and calculating that our modern morons were many and monied.

Only this week did Ramadge conclude that in setting fire to herself, Deveny was now scorching his paper as well, as he could no doubt judge by the scathing coverage in the Herald Sun, and on A Current Affair and Today Tonight. And, who knows, maybe he read my blog as well.

IT'S that final possibility that stuck in the craw of some tribalists of the Left - who, like all collectivists, defend not principles but sides, and decided to save Deveny, or at least not lose her without an equal sacrifice from the "Right".

I read all this in the witterings of, for instance, Jonathan Green, who edits The Drum, blogsite of the ABC, once a bulwark of our culture rather than the hole in our hull. I'll quote him at length, because he's typical in both his arguments and in two critical evasions:
Age columnist Deveny was dumped yesterday by The Age's editor-in-chief Paul Ramadge, not because of anything she wrote for the paper, but because of some off-colour gags she sent out on Twitter ...

Ramadge ... gives the appearance of acting not as an immediate response to the Sunday night tweets (would Bindi get "laid" would Rove's new partner die etc) but rather in response to the heated kerfuffle drummed up by the usual stern guardians of media probity: Andrew Bolt, Neil Mitchell, A Current Affair and Today Tonight ...

All of which presents the unfortunate impression of The Age, a once fearless champion of journalistic diversity, caving to the sort of hypocritical, faux indignant cant that propels trash talk radio and tabloid TV.

LET'S ignore the fact that my contribution to this "heated kerfuffle" was, pre-sacking, a single blog item written when the outrage was already bubbling on The Age's own website.

But here we're already brought to Green's first evasion. Many Age readers - even its editor-in-chief, perhaps - have actually shared my disgust with Deveny's comments, despite being as of the Left as Green would demand.

This alone suggests that the prime author of her downfall is not me or some other "stern guardian of media probity" but Deveny herself. She sought fame and wealth through shocking people, and cannot now complain at finding those people genuinely shocked and her services no longer thought worth the expense.

Indeed, if there wasn't an edge beyond which lay disaster, no comedian such as Deveny would be able to profit by testing where it lay. They'd be merely pretending to be teetering on the painted edge of a fake volcano, and what's the daring in that?

As for my own role, I criticise many things about The Age, but never has its editor-in-chief shown any sign of taking notice. I suspect, then, that what made Ramadge sack Deveny was, above anything else, his own judgment on what she herself had done. Deveny set out to shock, Ramadge's readers were shocked, transaction complete.

But rather than blame Deveny for yet one more catastrophic lapse of taste, Green claims that any disgust at her comments cannot be honestly felt - or, as he puts it, is mere "hypocritical, faux indignant cant".

The most damning thing he can say himself is that Deveny told "off-colour gags" - in which benign category, I guess, you'd put Benny Hill sketches.

That brings me to Green's second typical evasion. As you may have noticed, not once has he repeated in full what Deveny tweeted on Logies night.

This evasion is astonishingly common among those of the pro-Deveny media Left. Check also the articles by comedian Ben Pobjie, Meanjin editor Sophie Cunningham, or the Leftist gossip site Crikey.

I suspect none of these Deveny defenders quoted the words that were the immediate cause of her sacking because they secretly knew that almost anyone with a skerrick of moral sense reading them afresh would instinctively know Deveny indeed crossed a deeply dug line, and that any revulsion was quite likely to be genuine.

Indeed, what's most likely to be faux is a Greenish reaction of sophisticated nonchalance. He is a father, after all, and cannot be so dead to disgust, despite having himself once called the Down syndrome child of conservative politician Sarah Palin "a mongrel".

There's another reason that Green, the Meanjin editor, the comedian and the Crikey writer may have been reluctant to quote Deveny's words. To do so would have destroyed their other petulant defence of one of their own - that the other side is just as bad. Most, for instance, complain that if Deveny is to be sacked, then so must I.

Deveny herself complains of double standards and says this is "about gender". Or as Cunningham puts it: "It just doesn't pay to be a badly behaved woman in this town, but it certainly seems to pay pretty well to be a badly behaved man - just how much is Andrew Bolt paid again?"

But as any fool but these would know, had I been so vile as to write as Deveny did, I guarantee I'd be hounded out of my job, too, and by some of these very same people now defending Deveny. But, of course, conservatives like me are more inclined to maintain moral standards than kick at them.

Yet there are indeed questions raised by Deveny's sacking. She is indeed to some extent correct to say "nobody's editorial policy should be dictated by 'Offended from Balwyn'."

BUT this is not because of any high-minded principle of free speech. After all, Deveny remains free even now to say all she likes about the need for child stars to be "laid".

The issue is solely whether The Age is obliged to print them, and whether it's in its interests to do so. In fact, there are more than 20 million people in this country whose columns The Age won't run, and there's no reason Deveny has any more right to publication than anyone else.

Still, in making the specific decision not to publish her, The Age runs the risk every media outlet takes when it restricts the range of views it presents.

By not running a Deveny, The Age may now lose the support of barbarians and a certain kind of resentful arts graduate, almost inevitably female and poor, who mistakes rage for truth, abuse for integrity, and unreason for mystic insight.

So be it. Or, more seriously, The Age may lose the last shred of its reputation for publishing truly daring stuff.

But wait. This is the newspaper that some years ago let go its last on-staff conservative columnist, no doubt to placate "Offended from Fitzroy" - the kind of Leftist Age reader who is offended by opinions contrary to her ill-founded own.

That's why The Age for years rarely, if ever, published opinion articles questioning global warming, and still won't run one pointing out its sacred "stolen generations" are a myth.

No screams then from Deveny that The Age should publish "challenging voices". No demands then from a Green that it must be "a fearless champion of journalistic diversity". No hour-long debate then on Jon Faine's show on ABC 774 on the silencing of a different point of view.

No, to such folk it is now a greater scandal for The Age to fire a Leftist who wanted an 11-year-old to get "laid" than to drop the last staff columnist who wanted John Howard to get elected.

That's all. The tribe rages for the loss not of a principle, but of a fellow barbarian. And for the civilised, that's one thing to fear, and another to almost cheer.


For Australia's sake, we need to ban the burqa


The burqa is no longer simply the symbol of female repression and Islamic culture, it is now emerging as a disguise of bandits and n'er do wells.

In Sydney this morning a man was robbed by a burqa wearing bandit who further disguised his (or her) identity by wearing sunglasses. The bandit was described by police as being of "Middle Eastern appearance". Well of course he was (assuming it was a he) because the only characteristics the victim could see were the burqa and the sunglasses. Now unless the sunglasses had 'made in Iran' stamped on them, it's fair to say that the 'Middle Eastern appearance' line was attributed to the head to toe veiling of the Islamic burqa.

In my mind, the burqa has no place in Australian society. I would go as far as to say it is un-Australian. To me, the burqa represents the repressive domination of men over women, which has no place in our society and compromises some of the most important aspects of human communication. It also establishes a different set of rules and societal expectations in our hitherto homogenous society. Let me give you a couple of examples.

As an avid motorcyclist I am required to remove my helmet before entering a bank or petrol station. It's a security measure for the businesses and no reasonable person objects to this requirement. However, if I cover myself in a black cloth from head to toe, with only my eyes barely visible behind a mesh guard, I am effectively unidentifiable and can waltz into any bank unchallenged in the name of religious freedom. Little wonder bank bandits in the UK are now becoming burqa bandits.

The same can be said for any number of areas where photographic identification is required. How many of us would ask for the veil to be dropped so we can compare the photo with the burqa wearer's face? I suspect the fear of being called bigoted, racist, Islamaphobic or insensitive would prevent many from doing what they would not think twice about under normal circumstances. Put simply, the burqa separates and distances the wearer from the normal interactions with broader society.

But there is a greater reason the burqa needs to be binned. Equality of women is one of the key values in our secular society and any culture that believes only women should be covered in such a repressive manner is not consistent with the Australian culture and values.

Perhaps some of you will consider that burqa wearing should be a matter of personal choice, consistent with the freedoms our forefathers fought for. I disagree. New arrivals to this country should not come here to recreate the living environment they have just left. They should come here for a better life based on the freedoms and values that have built our great nation.

The burqa isolates some Australians from others. Its symbolic barrier is far greater than the measure of cloth it is created from. For safety and for society, the burqa needs to be banned in Australia.



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 INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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