Archive for April 2008
“I’ll get straight to the point: This is my final post. I am shutting down Judeosphere.
I did not arrive at this decision lightly. I began blogging for two reasons: (1) I felt that I could offer some value-added information and commentary on such vital issues as anti-semitism and anti-Zionism. (2) I found it rather cathartic to vent on these issues, and I discovered that blogging is far less disruptive than shouting at strangers on street corners.
So, what’s changed? For starters, it is increasingly difficult to find time to write quality blog posts. Various other matters (aka “real life”) keep interfering. Second, blogs that cover the issues that concern me are flourishing (see, for example, recently launched Z-Word). The blogosphere is in good hands.”
I hope to do a best of Judeosphere shortly, but as a starter try this post:
“Judeosphere’s List of Top Ten Double Standards On the Middle East ™
(1) Christian fundamentalists who support Israel are religious fanatics; Jewish fundamentalists who oppose Zionism are individuals of deep religious and moral conviction.
(2) Comparing Israelis to Nazis is a poignant political statement; comparing Saddam Hussein and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Hitler is a gross distortion of history with the intent of demonizing foreign leaders and justifying imperialist military campaigns.
(3) Palestinian nationalism reflects the inherent right of all people to self-determination; Jewish nationalism is an archaic form of tribalism and racial supremacy.
(4) Criticizing academics that legitimize hateful stereotypes of African-Americans and Arab-Americans is a proper response from minority groups who oppose racism; criticizing academics that legitimize hateful stereotypes of Jewish-Americans is an attempt to stifle free speech.
(5) Iran has the right under international law to pursue nuclear power for peaceful purposes; any other country that pursues nuclear power is endangering the environment and increasing the risk of nuclear proliferation.
(6) Jews who cite the lessons of the Holocaust as a rationale for opposing Israel are moralists; Jews who cite the lessons of the Holocaust as a rationale for opposing authoritarian regimes in places like Yugoslavia and Iraq are neocon warmongers.
(7) Israeli policies are said to be tantamount to “genocide”; accusations of genocide in Darfur are a Zionist plot to divide the Muslim community.
(8 The war on terrorism is driven by Islamophobia; the “new anti-semitism” is a myth created to deflect legitimate criticism of Israel.
(9) Efforts to oppose anti-semitism on college campuses undermine academic freedom; academic boycotts against Israel infringe upon academic freedom but serve a greater good.
(10) Burning flags with Muslim symbols is desecration, burning the Israeli flag and the Star of David is political protest.”
“Al-Qaeda’s deputy leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has blamed Iran for spreading the theory that Israel was behind the 11 September 2001 attacks.
In an audio tape posted on the internet, Zawahiri insisted al-Qaeda had carried out the attacks on the US.
He accused Iran, and its Hezbollah allies, of trying to discredit Osama Bin Laden’s network.
Correspondents say the comments underline al-Qaeda’s increasing public hostility towards Iran.
In a two-hour audiotape posted on an Islamist website, Osama Bin Laden’s chief deputy responded to questions posted by al-Qaeda sympathisers.
In response to a question about persistent rumours in the Middle East that Israel was involved in the 9/11 attacks, Zawahiri said the rumour had begun on the Hezbollah television station, Al-Manar.
“The purpose of this lie is clear – [to suggest] that there are no heroes among the Sunnis who can hurt America as no-one else did in history, he said.
“Iranian media snapped up this lie and repeated it.”
Zawahiri went on to criticise Iran for co-operating with the US in its 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, that helped to oust the Taleban.
Dissent has two interesting articles on Tibet:
“What happened in Tibet and the neighboring provinces might best be called an intifada. I won’t attempt a comparison with the first and second Palestinian intifadas (the first is closer to the Tibetan uprising, though it lasted much longer and probably involved a larger proportion of the population). But I want to tell the Tibetan story with the Palestinian story in the back of my mind.
We don’t have much detailed information about the recent demonstrations or about the repression. Accounts from Tibetan sources tell of peaceful marches broken up by police and soldiers with clubs and then with guns. Journalists confirm these accounts but tell also of riots that involved the looting and burning of Chinese shops and attacks on individual Chinese settlers. Official sources in Beijing emphasize the attacks and insist that police and soldiers fired only in self-defense. Most commentators assume what I will also assume, that whatever the violence of the demonstrators, the violence of the repression has been greater. It has also been highly effective very quickly—a sign of its massiveness and probably of its brutality.”
“Almost everywhere the Olympic torch goes on its 21-country, 85,000-mile relay from Athens to Beijing, it runs into demonstrators protesting China’s occupation of Tibet and its role in the genocide in Darfur. In London, thirty-five demonstrators were arrested by the police after numerous clashes, and in Paris, the Olympic flame was extinguished five times before those carrying it canceled their relay run.
A similar set of events took place in San Francisco, the Olympic torch’s one stop in America. The day before the torch arrived activists unfurled “Free Tibet” banners on the Golden Gate Bridge, setting the stage for the demonstrations that followed. The route of the Olympic torch was kept secret by city officials as long as possible, and then as the torch made its rescheduled trip, it was protected by police on motorcycles, who finally decided the best way to deal with the demonstrators they faced was to place the torch on a bus and drive it to the San Francisco airport.
But the failure of these global protests to have any discernible effect on Chinese foreign policy raises the question, What’s next?”
Update: The Chinese rulers of Tibet are enforcing “re-education” on the Tibetans, The Times reports:
“From civil servants to yak herders, barley farmers and street traders, the residents of the Tibetan capital and surrounding countryside are being subjected to a two-month re-education campaign to combat anti-Chinese sentiment.
Under the latest drive to instil a sense of patriotism — titled “Oppose splittism, protect stability, encourage development” — those involved in the anti-Chinese Lhasa riots of March 14 will be asked to denounce their actions and condemn others who took part.
China says that 22 people died when Tibetans rampaged through Lhasa, stabbing and stoning ethnic Han Chinese and burning shops and offices.
For thousands of monks across the restive Himalayan region and in adjacent provinces, such campaigns have become part of life in the monasteries.
Reminiscent in tone and rhetoric of the Cultural Revolution, patriotic lessons attack the “wrongs” of taking part in anti-Chinese protests or demonstrations in support of the Dalai Lama as China tries to persuade Tibetans to renounce their exiled spiritual leader.
Political education, an occasional if unwelcome interruption into monastic life, has become a daily ritual for monks such as Wangchuk — not his real name — who no longer have the freedom to watch the latest DVD, surf the internet or chat with friends on their mobile phones.
Wangchuk’s monastery has been his home since he was a child. He gets up at dawn, offers holy water and lights a yak butter lamp to honour the Buddha protector of his temple and the Dalai Lama — in all his 14 reincarnations.
Under more peaceable circumstances Wangchuk’s afternoon would have comprised an array of different activities, from saying prayers for the dead “to help their soul reach Heaven” to debates with his fellow monks or time spent with his teacher.
Now, the monasteries have been closed to the public and a very different study session forms part of his timetable: patriotic education:
“This is compulsory. There’s no excuse for not attending — unless you’re ill and then you have to have a note from doctor.”
The sessions used to be called for a week once every two or three months. They now take place almost daily. “We gather in the main hall and Communist Party officials deliver a speech telling us to be patriotic and they give each monk a paper to read.”
This session takes place in the morning; in the afternoon the monks are summoned to answer questions. “Usually it’s pretty relaxed. If I can’t remember my answers then I just repeat the same as the monk in front of me.
“Sometimes it turns more serious. That is when the police arrive. They stand beside each monk listening carefully to make sure each answer is correct. If the police come we have to lie. We have to say, ‘I love the Motherland. I don’t love him’. They don’t require you to explain who ‘him’ is, because we all know.”
Beijing has blamed the recent violence on the Dalai Lama and his followers. “We learn from the patriotic education that many things are banned. For example, we can’t have pictures of the Dalai Lama and we mustn’t listen to what people outside China tell us.”
In the past few weeks groups of Tibetan monks have staged highly publicised protests, including hijacking official tours of the region put on for foreign journalists.
The latest re-education campaign, which will include films and television programmes, suggests that China fears the spread of the discontent. “
(Hat tip: Ami)
Charles Darwin’s work, Origin of the Species published in 1859, was both controversial and breathtakingly simple. It sparked the development of many modern branches of science and his contribution to our understanding of humanity cannot be understated, so it is with great pleasure that I present Darwin On-line, with many of his original notes.
“Iranian Trade Unionist, Mahmoud Salehi, Freed
TUC welcomes release of Iranian bakery workers’ leader Mahmoud Salehi The TUC has welcomed the news today (Sunday 6 April) that Iranian bakery workers’ leader Mahmoud Salehi was released from the City of Sanandaj‘s central prison at 3pm. He had completed a one-year jail sentence for trade union activities nearly two weeks ago, but the authorities had refused to release him. The TUC reiterated its call for the Iranian Government to release bus workers’ leader Mansour Osanloo from the notorious Evin prison in Tehran, to free all jailed Iranian trade unionists, and to abide by international labour laws”
“On April 9, 2007, a commanding officer of the Saqez security forces appeared at Mahmoud Salehi’s work and asked him to attend at the office of the prosecutor to negotiate with the governor and the prosecutor about this year’s celebration of the international workers’ day, which was being organized by Salehi and his colleagues. However, in the prosecutor’s office, Salehi, the former President of the Bakery Workers’ Association of the City of Saqez and a well-known labour activist in Iran, was told that the Kurdistan Appeal Court has reached the final verdict on his May Day 2004 case and that he has been sentenced to one year imprisonment and a three year suspended prison sentence. They immediately put Salehi under arrest. Salehi objected to the deceitful and illegal way in which his arrest took place and refused to sign the order. After that Salehi was taken immediately to the Sanandaj Central Prison. This way, the government authorities did not allow Salehi to contact his family, lawyer and colleagues, and he was not even allowed to take his medications with him. Salehi has major kidney problems, as one of his kidneys has stopped working and the other one is almost failing and without medications and continuous treatment his life would be endangered. Thus far, the verdict of the appeal court has not been handed down to Salehi’s lawyers.”
(Hat Tip: Jim Denham)
“I wonder if Hamas will now be subjected to similar criticism by the concerned of the world for endangering the supply of fuel to the civilian population of Gaza. And I wonder what arguments one might reasonably offer to Israelis workers to persuade them to to take up the vacancies left by the men murdered today.”
“Gaza’s only power plant will be shut down in two to three days unless Israel resumes fuel shipments, power plant director Rafik Maliha said Saturday.
Maliha warned that half a million Gazans would be left without electricity.
Israel halted supplies last week after Gaza terrorists attacked the Nahal Oz fuel depot on the Gaza-Israel border and killed two workers.
The power plant’s fuel reserves have been low in recent months, after Israel restricted fuel supplies in hopes of forcing terrorists to halt rocket attacks from Gaza. “
China in Tibet will be an ongoing issue for months yet, and with the provocative torched procession scheduled to go through Tibet before arriving in Beijing.
When that happens I imagine that there will be more protesting by the Tibetans, who will probably feel the brutal repressive measures so perfected by the Chinese State.
My sympathies with the Tibetans are fairly obvious, but there are many who are asking questions, such as:
is it right for people in the West to criticise China? aren’t we being hypocrites too?
What right do Westerners have to rebuke China over Tibet, whilst troops are still in Iraq?
Isn’t it all just a CIA funded plot to overthrow China? etc
Or do you think that universal human rights should apply to every corner of the planet? Including Beijing?
“The riots began on March 10th (the 49th anniversary of the first independence uprising) when peaceful independence marches were smashed off the streets by the state. The protests escalated into violence and rippled out into other areas (including Beijing and neighbouring countries like Nepal). The protests became riots with wide spread looting, fighting with state forces and attacks on immigrant Hans.
There have been some hilarious contributions to the debate defending the actions of the Chinese authorities. One line is that Tibetans are better off living within the bounds of China’s thriving economy than they were under feudal Tibet prior to the invasion. False choice, bad conclusion. The Tibetan economy is better than it was fifty years ago so the Chinese government has the right to kill and torture those who want to voice a legitimate political opinion? It’s better in Wales now than it was fifty years ago, will any protest there be caricatured as wanting to reintroduce dripping sandwiches and pit accidents?
Another line is that to support the demands of the protesters is to support ethnic cleansing of the Hans. Well, firstly Hans became victims of attack after the repression began – in other words when the Chinese government cut off access to passive resistance those with nothing turned on the nearest identifiable targets weak enough to harm – those people that were associated with the occupation of Tibet in the minds of many native Tibetans due to long term demographic manipulation by the Chinese state. Now, these attacks are quite wrong, but they stem from a real grievance and we need to understand where any anti-Hans racism may come from.
Mark Steel was particularly good on this the other day when he lambasted the Morning Star for its attempts to blame outside agitators (in this case the Dalai Lama) “So Tibetans are defying a powerful army because they’ve been brainwashed by a 72-year-old with glasses who presumably chants his orders up a mountain, and as they echo round the valleys his followers stare into the distance and say robotically “Orders – from – master – must – get – crushed – by –tank.”" As if anyone needs to be told to hate oppression. Frankly the claims that it was bjork who started it all off seem plausible in comparison.
Of course wealth, power and oppression has many critics, but it also has many admirers, and not just the more stale minded leftists. Like Yahoo and MSN for instance, who are helping the Chinese authorities root out the “most wanted” of those who oppose them, just as Google have been helping the CIA.
The simple truth is that if you’re with those who roll their tanks over the heads of the poor then you’ve chosen the well trodden path of complicity with dictatorship. It’s time to rethink.”
I do hope that the Green Party will expose China’s flagrant exploitation of Tibetan raw materials and the extent of environmental damage.
“LONDON: A website specialising in family geneaology launched a massive online searchable register of slaves of the British Empire Wednesday, allowing descendants of slaves to discover their origins.
The social history website Ancestry.co.uk has compiled the details of more than 2.7 million slaves and 280,000 slave-owners from 17 former British colonies for Internet users to explore.
Stretching from 1812 to 1834, the records of the slaves are searchable by name, year of birth and gender, as well as by the name of their holder.
According to the website, more than half a million Britons are originally from black Caribbean former colonies, the majority of them descended from slaves.
“The slave registers are a vital resource and are for many the only record of their ancestor’s existence,” said Simon Harper, a spokesman for Ancestry.co.uk.
Last year, Britain commemorated 200 years since it outlawed slavery. The Abolition of the Slave Trade Act was passed on March 25, 1807, imposing a 100-pound fine for every slave found aboard a British ship.
The 1833 Slavery Abolition Act outlawed slavery itself throughout the British Empire. However, some slaves did not gain their final freedom until 1838.”