Ayaan Hirsi Ali interviewed by Israel Hayom ("Israel Today"):
Israel Hayom: In your lectures you made numerous references to the situation in the Middle East. You claim that people in the West do not understand that what is taking place in the Middle East is not a dialogue.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: More than one issue is at stake here. Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian context, the main problem is that you may speak of a peace process, but what you get is a process, not peace. And why is this process so prolonged? Because for the Israelis this issue is a territorial problem. For the Palestinian negotiators, on the other hand, it is not a territorial problem but a religious and ethnic one, It is not only about Palestinians but about all Arabs. Most of all, it is a religious problem.
From the perspective of the Arab leaders, reaching a two-state solution is to betray God, the Koran, the hadith and the tradition of Islam.
Israel Hayom: Even though they are portrayed as secular?
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: The presumption that the Palestinian negotiators are secular is not supported by facts. Were they secular, there would already be a settled territorial agreement of some kind. But there is no agreement as of today, because on one side it has become religious jihad of all or nothing, while on the other side it is still a territorial issue. Of course I know that there are Israelis who also perceive this as a religious problem; but their numbers pale in comparison to the Muslim side. Reaching a settlement that brings about two states is a religious betrayal -- not only for the leadership but for most Muslims today. The West does not understand this....
Islam is an Orthopraxy, Islam has a goal. So if you are a true Muslim, you must fight for that goal. You can achieve a temporary peace or truce, but it is not ultimate, not everlasting. It is not just about the territory. Because the territory does not belong to the people; it belongs to God. So for a Palestinian leader -- even if he is secular, even an atheist -- to leave the negotiating room with the announcement of a two-state solution would mean that he would be killed the minute he walks out....
In a culture dictated by honor and shame - in addition to the religious issue - defeat of any kind, accepting a compromise, is to leave the room empty-handed. Compromise is loss in this culture. It is very hard to explain this to contemporary Westerners.
From an In Focus gallery on protests world-wide, from Istanbul to Rio to Sofia, comes this photo from South Africa: "Protesters carry placards as they protest against the visit of U.S. President Barack Obama to Pretoria, South Africa, June 28, 2013."
For some background, here's the Washington Post:
It’s hard to take Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, the spokesperson of the South African wing of the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, too seriously when he says that President Obama will be welcomed by “the mother of all protests” when he visits a University of Johannesburg campus Saturday. After all, both Obama and the United States are very popular in South Africa: Recent data from Pew found 74 percent confidence in Obama there, nearly double George W. Bush’s 32 percent.
Still, there is a segment of South Africa that is not happy to see Obama visiting their country and are planning several protests, some of which have already begun. There’s been such an outcry within the University of Johannesburg at Soweto, where Obama will visit to receive an honorary degree, that university officials have defended the move by saying that the degree will recognize only Obama’s personal merit and not necessarily endorse his leadership of U.S. foreign policy. On Friday, Daniel Howden, a reporter with the Independent, said on Twitter that 300 protesters had gathered in front of the U.S. Embassy in the capital of Pretoria, denouncing Obama. He posted a photo showing them burning an American flag. The Muslim Lawyers Association of South Africa called on the South African government to arrest Obama on “war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.” It’s joined with two dozen other left-wing national organizations, including student groups, the country’s communist party and one of its most powerful trade unions in the “NO-Bama Coalition” protesting his arrival.
What's not emphasised - apart from that BDS reference - is what's a deal more explicit in the pictures: the one above, or the one in the Post article with the protester holding a sign with the legend "Obama Zionist Uncle Tom", or the picture here from the same demonstration, with more captions (all, strangely, in the same red writing) such as "Bush, Blair, Netanyahu, Obama R War Criminals". In other words, it's the same mixture that you get on leftist demos anywhere nowadays, with the US as the Big Nasty, or Great Satan ("Under Satanic Administration" as one sign has it), but with a curious yet hard-to-miss obsession with Israel.
It's barely worth arguing the old anti-Zionism-isn't-always-anti-Semitism line here. Obama as Netanyahu's slave, or as a Zionist Uncle Tom - of course this is anti-Semitic. And it's instructive to see it so brazenly displayed, along with the usual leftist boilerplate. They go together so well. It's just that in South Africa they're not so bothered about hiding the anti-Semitism that swirls around in the hard-left circles that drive these kind of demonstrations.
After last week's report on political re-education and mass surveillance comes a new Human Rights Watch report on Tibet, detailing - in a chilling echo of Stalin's forced re-settlements in the Soviet Union - the mass re-housing over the past few years of over two million Tibetans:
The Chinese government is subjecting millions of Tibetans to a policy of mass rehousing and relocation that radically changes their way of life, and about which they have no say, Human Rights Watch said in a new report published today.
Since 2006, under plans to “Build a New Socialist Countryside” in Tibetan areas, over two million Tibetans have been “rehoused” – through government-ordered renovation or construction of new houses – in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), while hundreds of thousands of nomadic herders in the eastern part of the Tibetan plateau have been relocated or settled in “New Socialist Villages.”
The 115-page report, “‘They Say We Should Be Grateful’: Mass Rehousing and Relocation in Tibetan Areas of China,” documents extensive rights violations ranging from the absence of consultation to the failure to provide adequate compensation, both of which are required under international law for evictions to be legitimate. The report also addresses defects in the quality of the houses provided, absence of remedies for arbitrary decisions, failures to restore livelihoods, as well as a disregard for autonomy rights nominally guaranteed by Chinese law in Tibetan areas.
“The scale and speed at which the Tibetan rural population is being remodeled by mass rehousing and relocation policies are unprecedented in the post-Mao era,” said Sophie Richardson, China director. “Tibetans have no say in the design of policies that are radically altering their way of life, and – in an already highly repressive context – no ways to challenge them.”
And it's still going on:
The authorities in the Tibet Autonomous Region have announced plans to further rehouse and relocate more than 900,000 people by the end of 2014.In Qinghai province, on the eastern part of the Tibetan plateau, the authorities have relocated and settled 300,000 nomadic herders since the early 2000s, and have announced their intent to turn an additional 113,000 nomads into sedentary dwellers by the end of 2013....
The Chinese government has deliberately obscured the full impact of its policies by refusing to allow any independent fact-finding investigations in Tibetan areas. Closed at the best of times to human rights investigations, access to the Tibetan plateau – especially to the TAR – has remained extremely limited for journalists, diplomats, academics, and even foreign tourists since the March 2008 protests and the ensuing crackdown. Yet analysis of open source satellite imagery reveals the magnitude of change faced by some Tibetan communities. In several cases, images show traditional villages entirely demolished, while a pre-planned “New Socialist Village” made of identical houses in parallel rows is erected nearby.
The full report (pdf) is here.
Back in April the hacker group Anonymous broke into a website run by the North Korean official news agency KCNA, and released the personal information of the site's subscribers. They promised a second wave of attacks starting at noon 25 June, to commemorate the launch of the Korean War.
Well...it's all a bit vague, but it's fair to say that the results so far are less than earth-shattering. From the Daily NK:
“Anonymous” revealed the details of 13 people it claims are high-level North Korean cadres, citing the release as evidence that they are capable of hacking into North Korea’s key internet architecture.
The list, which includes Kwak Jong Gu, Kim Seok Il, Ri Cheol Seok and ten others, cites names, dates of birth and parts of phone numbers, as well as current locations.
Releasing the list, Anonymous described the thirteen as “high-level North Korean military cadres;” however, it is not clear that they can be described in that way. In particular, one of the individuals is in his mid-20s (born in 1989) and two are in their early 30s, making it unlikely that they are currently in the elite group.
The locations of all thirteen appear to reside outside North Korea: two list only mobile numbers with no location, while the remaining eleven are cited as residing in different areas of China, primarily Jilin Province, which borders North Korea.
Speaking via Twitter, one alleged member of Anonymous explained, “We have obtained tens of thousands of important North Korean documents on things like missiles and weapons,” before adding that the full collection of documents would be made available via the whistle-blowers’ site Wikileaks at the appropriate time.
Could the current wave of info disclosure, via Wikileaks and Edward Snowden and the like, finally be used to target a genuinely repressive regime?
Marcus Noland has more:
Perhaps the most interesting threat was not to bring down the North Korean intranet but rather to open it up: Anonymous has indicated that they are ready to take control of the North Korean intranet and make the entire World Wide Web available via a “Ninja Gateway.” One group member told Yonhap that the purpose would be to “give unrestricted access to the Internet to the North Korean people and leak information into North Korea."
Now that would be something. Except only a select few have any sort of internet access anyway.
KCNA pre-emptively ran an editorial last week titled “The illusion of the crazy dogs barking toward the moon” in which they asserted that Anonymous is “under the control of the U.S. and South Korean spy agencies” and that the North Korean intranet system doesn’t exist.
In which a young man comes home, interrupts the iceman in the kitchen canoodling with his sweetie (this time, the iceman cometh not) and then finds Meade Lux Lewis playing boogie piano in the front room:
A "Soundie" from 1944, featuring actor Dudley Dickerson lip-synching to Big Joe Turner's vocals.
(Nor is Meade himself playing live. Maybe that's why he's looking so grumpy. And he doesn't seem especially thrilled by the girl's attentions.)
This is classic blues sexual paranoia, hilariously brought to life, where as soon as the hard-working man shuts the door behind him, his girl shares her favours with a succession of local tradesmen, not to mention the preacher and sundry neighbours. It's a common-enough theme, but Little Johnny Taylor had the best songs in this line, for me: "Open House at My House" ; "Everybody Knows About My Good Thing"...."Call the plumber darlin', there must be a leak in my drain"; or the classic double entendre:
"I was talking to the butcher, he said you always look neat,
I guess that's why my box is always filled full of meat"
I wonder if the choice of a black man as the wronged party here, with both the woman and her wonderfully over-the-top smoothie lothario boyfriend played by lighter characters, was a deliberate choice, or it just happened that way...some hint perhaps of the way the naive innocent black man is exploited by those more familiar with the ways of double-dealing (white) society. But maybe I'm reading too much into it.
I'm not quite sure why. What was noticeable - and I'm not sure if this had anything to do with my lack of enthusiasm - was the number of self-portraits this time around. You always get self-portraits, of course, but this year they made up, at a rough estimate, something like a third of all the entries. That's an awful lot of self-obsession. It'd be pushing it, no doubt, to draw some conclusion about the zeitgeist from just one year's worth of contributions - and anyway, the Culture of Narcissism was so last century. Maybe it's just that much easier to get a mirror and paint yourself rather than go to all the bother of getting someone to sit for you, with all that messy person-to-person engagement and so forth. But then half the joy of looking at portraits is what it says about one person's efforts to capture another's personality on canvas.
My favourite artist at the show was Carl Randall, who had one large piece, Shinjuku, in the main exhibition, and then a number of pieces in a mini-exhibition, In the foosteps of Hiroshige: Portraits of Modern Japan, as winner of the 2012 BP Travel Award.
Here's Zen Garden, Kyoto, from his website:
Memories of Robert Fisk being attacked by Afghans - "They had every reason to be angry - I've been an outspoken critic of the US actions myself. If I had been them, I would have attacked me" - as leader of the ultra-orthodox anti-Zionist Neturei Karta is attacked in Amsterdam (via Snoopy):
Dutch police said that Joseph Antebi, 50, was attacked yesterday by Muslim men in Amsterdam. According to information obtained by the police, several Muslim men came over to his stopped car, pulled him out from his vehicle, beat him and spit on him. The suspects then fled from the scene.
The rabbi begged passers-by for help, but his pleas were ignored.
According to the police report, Antebi called the police and was able to provide cell phone images of the suspects to the police. "Rabbi Antebi is in the hospital and in stable condition. Antebi is suffering from severe pain, nausea and vomiting. He is also suffering from internal bleeding," according to a statement released by Neturei Karta.
However, the group remained defiant in defending radical Islamic militants. “This incident just shows how the Zionist are fanning the flames of anti-Semitism throughout the world,” the group said in a statement.
Tragic news, of course.
Neturei Karta are regular participants in such cultural highlights as Iran's Holocaust-denial conference.