Some choice quotes from a lecture, via MEMRI, of Egyptian-German scholar and Muslim apostate Hamed Abdel-Samad, speaking in Rome:
Islam has managed to turn hatred into a religious duty. It has managed to turn war into a holy duty, a religious rite...
So the story is not about hatred and wars; it is about turning this ugly thing into a virtue - turning hatred into a virtue and war into a religious precept.
Islam is currently the only religion in which the term "non-believer" is used not to describe one's ideology, but instead is used to condemn a person to death.
Political Islam continues to spread and prosper because Muslims claim that it is theoretically sound, and that the mistake lies in its implementation. This is the belief that this theory comes directly from Allah, and tge only problem is that human beings do not implement it properly. I have never encountered a theory that is as ill-implemented as this one.
The Islamists always try and present Islam and the Muslims as if they were a single entity. Sadly European politician make the same mistake. They think that the optimal way to assimilate Muslims in Western society is through Islamic organisations and through Islamic education at mosques. No! The solution is to separate the human from the ideology....
It's eight minutes, but worth watching.
Here's a shorter piece from the same man, Hamed Abdel-Samad - an excerpt from a German TV discussion this September. He responds to a Muslim woman who, we presume, has been explaining that Islamism in general, and ISIS in particular, have absolutely nothing to do with Islam. He's very good:
I doubt Donald Trump's supporters are going to lose too much sleep over this. Isn't the China-Taiwan situation exactly the kind of absurd political fudge that a plain-speaker from outside the Washington bubble, like Trump, was supposed to cut through anyway? - even though, as seems most likely, it was a blunder rather than a calculated strategic move on his part. [I imagine this will become a common theme under President Trump: blunders explained away by his team as cunning political manoeuvres.]
A couple of primers for those unfamiliar with the background:
David Graham in the Atlantic - So, Why Can't You Call Taiwan?
Max Fisher in the NYT - Trump, Taiwan and China: The Controversy, Explained.
Whatever reputation journalist Robert Fisk had left - which, to be honest, is not much - is blown away by this devastating report by Muhammad Idrees Ahmad in which Fisk is, um, fisked to devastating effect. The man has become a shameless apologist for President Assad:
The Syrian war has been deadly for healthcare services. Physicians for Human Rights (P4HR) has recorded 382 attacks on medical facilities of which 344 were carried out by the regime and Russia; they were also responsible for 703 of the 757 medical personnel killed in the war. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have both condemned their targeting of hospitals “as a strategy of war”.
In its report to the UN Human Rights Council last September, the Independent Commission of Inquiry into Syria wrote that the “pattern of attacks [by pro-regime forces], and in particular the repeated bombardments, strongly suggests that there has been deliberate and systematic targeting of hospitals and other medical facilities during this reporting period”.
The report adds: “Perhaps nowhere has the government assault on medical care been felt more strongly than in the opposition-controlled areas of Aleppo city and governorate, where at least 20 hospitals and clinics have reportedly been destroyed since January. By October 7, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) had recorded “at least 23 attacks on eastern Aleppo’s eight remaining hospitals since the siege began in July”.
In this context when one of Britain’s more celebrated war correspondents—a person known for his acerbic diatribes against docile western journalists—enters Aleppo and sees a destroyed ambulance righteous fury is sure to erupt. And Fisk doesn’t disappoint. There is the familiar bombast of superlatives. Things are “ghostly”, “ghastly”, “frightening”, and “horribly relevant”.
But it is the object of Fisk’s fury that takes one by surprise. Fisk is not angry at an ambulance being bombed. Indeed, he heavily implies that the bombing was merited. Fisk devotes much of the article to implicating the Scottish charity that donated the ambulance. In his curious legal brief against medical aid, Fisk’s allies are not facts but suggestion, insinuation and innuendo. His method is insidious and part of a pattern. It merits closer scrutiny.
For the past four years Fisk has reported from Syria embedded with the regime. The regime herds him to the places it wants him to see and the people it wants him to interrogate—and Fisk appears to yield to the controlling arms of his handlers with the somnambulant innocence of a debutante. On more than a few occasions he has echoed the regime line without demur....
But read it all.
More defector news from the Daily NK:
Approximately 30 North Korean defectors have been arrested by Chinese public security officials in the city of Shenyang and are facing repatriation.
Three groups of defectors totaling approximately 30 individuals, including children under the age of five, were arrested while in transit from Shenyang (China) to Vietnam. They have been transported to the border city of Dandong, and are likely to be repatriated to North Korea soon, a source close to North Korean affairs in China reported to Daily NK on November 30.
"North Korea’s State Security Department [SSD] is exchanging gold produced at state-run mines in the border area to the Chinese authorities in return for the repatriation of defectors. For this reason, leaflets and placards have been posted in Chinese cities advertising rewards for reporting defectors to the police. This has made it more difficult for defectors to hide," the source added.
"North Korea and China appear to have reached an agreement on active detection and repatriation of North Korean defectors. With the end of the year approaching, Chinese public security forces and North Korea’s SSD are planning a massive detection operation."
In addition, the North Korean authorities have recently announced a domestic 'reward system' in order to prevent defection attempts before they occur.
A source in North Hamgyong Province added, "Recently, the atmosphere around the border regions has become tense, as Kim Jong Un issued orders to 'prevent defections no matter the cost.' Security agents have informed residents that the reward for reporting a planned defection is 5 million KPW (approx 600 USD)."...
"With the severe crackdowns, no one is bold enough to attempt defection. The brokers that normally aid defectors are saying, “It is hard to make a living because no one wants to defect anymore," the source concluded.
The edges of London, by German photographer Philipp Ebeling:
From his new book:
Coming to London from a small village in Germany, I was both overwhelmed and bewitched. I felt compelled to know every last corner of the place, to understand it as fully as I could. For years I crisscrossed the city on my bike, finding new routes to places, exploring new neighbourhoods, getting lost and soaking up every detail...
Well now. As his political career languishes in the doldrums after that Brexit debacle, Michael Gove is keeping his hand in by writing columns for the Times. And the latest one on Syria is rather good:
(O)ur failure to intervene has been followed by the killing of hundreds of thousands, with millions more driven from their homes. We hear constantly from some quarters about the failures of intervention. We hear far less about the terrible consequences of non-intervention.
Our intervention in Iraq in 2003 now finds few defenders. Mistakes were undoubtedly made. But had we not intervened then, the country would have remained a torture chamber above ground and a mass grave below. Power would have passed to Saddam’s murderous sons Uday and Qusay, who would have waged genocidal conflict on the Kurds and the Shia, while also exploiting western sanctions fatigue to re-stock their chemical and biological weapons arsenal.
More than that, Iraq enjoyed a new stability and security as a result of President Bush’s troop surge in 2007. The winding down of the US military presence following President Obama’s election was a foolish retreat from responsibility which allowed Islamic State to occupy a vacuum of the West’s creation.
And Obama failed again when he did not follow through on his threat to punish Bashar al-Assad for using chemical weapons on his own people. His failure to intervene in 2013, following the failure of our parliament to sanction intervention, has been a global disaster.
We threw away any respect for western security guarantees, we failed to save the Syrian people from mass murder, we failed to support those we called our allies on the ground, we allowed Islamic State, once again, to exploit another vacuum and develop a new global terror network and we signally failed to put any pressure worth the name on Vladimir Putin for aiding, abetting and funding tyranny, so he grew in power and prestige at our expense and strengthened the hold of his secret police state over the Russian people.
That’s not the worst of it. Our biggest failure has been our inability to check the advance of the Iranian regime — Assad’s puppet masters. The Khomeinist rulers of the Islamic Republic have been identified by the US state department as the world’s principal state sponsors of terrorism. Driven by eliminationist antisemitism and hatred of western values, they are intent on bringing yet more bloodshed to the Middle East — and beyond. Iran’s rulers describe Israel as a “cancerous tumour” and their Revolutionary Guards have promised to export violence to Europe and the US.
History warns us that it is seldom a good idea to acquiesce in the military advance of a regime which makes explicit its desire to purge the world of Jews. And doesn’t care how many other people it kills along the way.
Only Nina Simone could manage a song like this:
There's not that much live Nina Simone on YouTube. This 1968 London performance of Ain't Got no, I Got Life is good - though the song (in fact a medley of two songs from Hair) isn't, to be honest, one of my favourites. Then there's the Aardman claymation from 1987 of the 1958 classic My Baby Just Cares For Me.
Meanwhile, in Riyadh:
A woman in Saudi Arabia pictured without a hijab is facing calls for her execution.
Some social media users reacted with outrage after the emergence of the image taken in capital city Riyadh, with one man calling for the state to “kill her and throw her corpse to the dogs”.
The photo was allegedly first posted by an account under the name of Malak Al Shehri, which has since been deleted, reports the International Business Times.
An unnamed student who reposted the image told the website that Ms Al Shehri had announced she was going out to breakfast without either a hijab or abaya; a traditional Saudi body covering.
The student said she started receiving death threats after posting proof in response to followers who had asked to see a photo....
A hashtag which translates into English as “we demand the imprisonment of the rebel Angel Al Shehri” subsequently went viral.
One user wrote “we propose blood", while another demanded a "harsh punishment for the heinous situation".
Paul Berman, typically, finds a new angle on the death of Castro: the left-libertarians of Cuba, who were crushed just as mercilessly as all the other "enemies of the people":
All over the world during the course of 1959 and for several years to come, well-meaning people continued to believe ingenuously in Castro’s democratic protestations and his claim not to be a Communist. But the Cuban libertarians, in their sophistication, knew the history of the Bolshevik Revolution—knew the story of how Lenin and the Communists emitted a fog of misleading slogans and meanwhile exterminated every current of the Russian left except the Communist current. They knew the history of the Spanish Civil War, in which the Communists tried to do the same. Their knowledge allowed them to see at a glance that, under Castro, the prisons of Cuba were going to swell to proportions far larger than in Batista’s day. They knew that Cuba itself was going to be a prison, along Soviet lines. They knew that Castro’s conversion of the old Cuban labor movement into a government transmission-belt was going to be permanent and that Cuba’s working class was going to lose whatever small degree of power it once could claim. They knew that, under a Communist dictatorship, their own fate was to be shot. And the libertarians right away launched a guerrilla insurgency, this time against the new dictatorship. Only, the nature of the dictatorship was not yet obvious to other people. The insurgency got nowhere. The insurgents were rounded up, imprisoned, tortured, and shot. Their unions were taken over completely, their publications shut down. And the survivors escaped as best they could, some of them to Miami, others to Caracas and beyond, where they joined what was left of the ragtag libertarian diaspora from Spain.
Here was truly a friendless group of people. All over the world, conventional left-wingers denounced the enemies of Fidel Castro as wealthy and reactionary enemies of social justice, exactly in the way that Lenin’s fellow-travelers used to denounce the exiles from Russia after 1917. In reality, the labor libertarians of Cuba were stalwarts of the proletarian left in the most classic or perhaps antique of versions—the disciples of Bakunin and Kropotkin, and genuinely proletarian, too, unlike Castro, the aristocrat—yet they, too, came under the indiscriminate denunciation. They were slandered as wealthy agents of imperialism, puppets of the CIA, proponents of every possible reactionary idea. And who, anywhere in the universe, was their friend?...
I attended occasional solidarity meetings in New York for the oppressed Cubans. I even organized a reception to welcome to New York a distinguished Cuban dissident, Raúl Rivero, the poet and journalist—a man of the left, with more modern ideas—who had just then been released from a Cuban prison. And I learned something from those meetings. The only people who bothered to attend were Cubans, with a few exceptions, as if no one but a Cuban would dirty himself by taking up the Cuban cause. At some point during every one of those meetings, one or another elderly gentleman would stand up, creaky and upright, his bones clattering like sticks, and would explain that he had spent many years in the windowless cells of Castro’s prisons, and had undergone torture, and, even so, had remained faithful to his anti-dictatorial principles—had refused to buckle to the regime—and was refusing to buckle even now. The people in the rows of seats would nod their heads in awe—some of them likewise veterans of the prisons, frail and anguished-looking—and would whisper about dignity and courage. And when the speech-making or the poetry recital was over, everyone would stumble out to the street, painfully aware that, in the wide world, the victims of the dictatorship and the exiles and the unbreakable heroes have always been reviled as gusanos, or worms, and in many places are slandered even now as the enemies of progress.
Cubans danced in the streets in Miami on Saturday. Every single thing we know about Marxist-Leninist dictatorships all over the world should tell us that ordinary people in Cuba—surely a great majority of them—must likewise have been filled with emotion; maybe not with joy, but with a tingling expectation that someday soon the shadow over their country will begin to recede. But someday is not yet.
November 3oth, yesterday, is the day Israel commemorates the expulsion of the Jews from the Arab countries and Iran. In Haaretz, the forgotten story of Aden in 1947, when riots against the local Jewish population broke out after the UN approved the partition plan for Palestine, paving the way for the founding of the State of Israel:
In Aden, which at the time was a British colony and today is part of Yemen, there was an ancient community of Jews numbering around 5,000 people, who lived alongside the local Arab population. The rioting began on December 2, 1947 and lasted three days. “On the night of December 2 the Arabs started to burn Jews’ cars in the streets,” Sasson recalled. “The next day they invaded our neighborhood. The streets were totally empty. We threw bottles at them.”
A day later Arabs started to torch Jewish stores, businesses, and homes. “A few families fled their homes and ran to our house, which was in the middle of the neighborhood. I opened the door and took in five families,” whose names he still remembers.
The Jewish leaders asked the British for help. In response, they sent a unit of Bedouin policemen under British command. “That’s when the disaster started,” Tuvia wrote. “The hooligans started to loot Jewish stores. The policemen stood aside and smiled. Another minute and you could see them assisting in the looting and pillaging.”
The British declared a curfew. “I didn’t know what a curfew was, so I went up on the roof to see what was happening in the street. I saw a soldier there with a rifle. I ducked and he shot at me.” The bullet didn’t hit him, but hit a 15-year-old girl who had found refuge in his house. “The bullet hit her in the head. She died on the spot,” he said. “There was great turmoil in the house.” They had to wait three days until they could put the body out for burial in a collective grave.
“Any Jew who called out for help or who went up to the roof to put out the fires in his house or to escape it was greeted with a hail of bullets,” wrote Tuvia, who had been born in Aden in 1920, immigrated to Palestine and returned in 1945 to organize aliyah to the soon-to-emerge state. “The mad cries in the Jewish neighborhood tore the heavens. All the Jewish homes were pockmarked with bullet holes. One house was burned. Dozens of bodies fell, one after the other.”
Gavriel David, who was an infant at the time, lost his grandfather, Yihye, in the riots. His recollections are based on the stories he heard from relatives. “Eighty-seven Jews were shot, slaughtered and burned to death. My grandfather was shot in the head by a sniper,” he said. “He didn’t die on the spot. He bled all night at home.” Yihye was evacuated to a hospital the next day, but died of his wound.
After three days, when the British army finally came into the Jewish quarter, the rioting stopped. “On Friday morning they went out to collect the dead,” Tuvia wrote. “A truck went from street to street to collect them. Every home brought down its dead to the middle of the street and Yemenite refugees buried them in a collective grave, with no funeral and no ceremony. The streets were filled with crying and wailing.”