ModernityBlog

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Posts Tagged ‘Politics

Whisky, West Dunbartonshire Council And Fakes.

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In response to the symbolic boycott of Israeli products by West Dunbartonshire Council some people are organising a boycott of Scotch whisky.

It all seems to me a bit petty, given that West Dunbartonshire Council doesn’t actually import any Israeli products. Certainly, they use technology which is derived from Israeli know-how, that includes but isn’t limited to Intel chips, Microsoft XP software and Kinect.

However, the Council and the posturing Councillors are hardly going to inconvenience themselves by really boycotting Israeli technology, lest it proves too troubling, like giving up using Google (their key search algorithm was developed by an Israeli).

As for the retaliatory boycott, well I am not sure it makes the required point, but Drink Business Review explains:

“FJMC Executive Director Rabbi Simon’s boycott urge followed after Israeli-Anglo blogger and pro-settlement activist, Jameel Rashid publicized on his website a letter to several distilleries located within West Dunbartonshire.

In his letter he stated, the global counter boycott of Scottish whiskey products, distilled in the West Durbanshire council region, is beginning, and requested officers to cease the purchase of any goods that made or grown in Israel.

The West Dunbartonshire Council, while it has not responded publically to calls endorsing a boycott of locally manufactured spirits, has defended the decision which sparked the protest.

The council’s boycott only relates to goods ‘made or grown’ in Israel. The vast majority of mainstream books by Israeli authors are published in the UK, and are therefore not affected by this boycott. “

The intense interest in this issue has revealed an exceedingly unsavoury side to the instigator of the boycott, Councillor Jim Bollan.

Bollan seems perfectly comfortable contextualising the decapitation of a three-month old baby, as the JC reports:

“”Violence breeds violence. Have you any idea what may have motivated this man [Awad] to commit this crime? Could it have been because he may have seen Palestinian children slaughtered by the IDF?”

Udi and Ruth Fogel and three of their children were murdered in the West Bank settlement in March. The youngest victim, three month old Hadas, was decapitated.

Responding to another pro-Israel activist, Mr Bollan declared: “Hamas was elected and are freedom fighters alongside the Palestinians fighting an illegal occupation of Palestine by Israel.”

Mickey Green of Scottish Friends of Israel said: “I’m not surprised he has sunk to this level. This is a man with pre-conceived ideas and a mental block to reason. He is functioning at a nasty, visceral level.

Judy reports that the fake Gay Girl in Damascus had form, as, er a “anti-Zionist” or something like that.

Marko at Greater Surbiton points out the Guardian’s complicity in this issue, The Guardian’s disgraceful treatment of Jelena Lecic.

Over at Though Cowards Flinch, Carl has a superb post on Chavez, anti-Zionism, and antisemitism. It is noticeable how the thread is almost monopolised by a particular “anti-Zionist”, who is keen to quibble and nitpick on these issues, but he can’t see any anti-racism. Well, not when it is aimed at Jews, that is.

Finally, Tim Marshall has a provocative post, The ‘Arab Spring’ And The Conspiracy Of Silence:

“Across the Middle East from the Arab leaders you can hear the sound…… of silence. A similar sound emanates from many Muslim ‘activists’.

Take the most glaring example – Bahrain. The allegation, backed by human rights groups, is that the Sunni ruled state opened fire with live rounds on peaceful protesters from the majority Shia population, killed large numbers of people, then followed up with a wave of arrests which resulted in widespread torture.

The response from Arab leaders? In the Gulf, the 6 nation Gulf Cooperation Council quickly sent troops to assist in the repression whilst most Western nations, aware of the US military fleet based in Bahrain did little to upset the old order. Elsewhere, the Jordanians, Egyptians, Syrians, Algerians et al – just kept quiet.

During the Egyptian upheaval the House Of Saud was quietly horrified at how quickly the Americans let the Generals get their way and remove Mubarak. In private they let Washington know their displeasure, but to have complained openly would have been to do what you don’t do in the Arab political world in public (and to a lesser extent in our own systems) which is to tell the truth.

Update 1: This is a thoughtful perspective on Tom MacMaster, the fake blogger, Understanding #amina.

Another Weekend Of Assortments.

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The world is a busy place and events move on at a pace, so here are a few assortments I nearly missed:

Colonel Qaddafi sends a thank you note to some members of the US Congress.

Andy on the Australian Defence League.

Tel Aviv’s Gay Pride is very colourful, according to the Guardian.

Blogger arrested for filming a Council meeting.

And for the Polyglots amongst you, the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism in many, many languages, including, but not limited to Mongolian and Estonian.

Jen Campbell’s blog is enjoyable. Book lovers will like her series, weird things customers say in bookshops.

The Atlantic Wire has picked apart many of Palin’s emails and it is as you might expect, stunning!

Top 10 trends on Twitter, not sure about this.

Washington Post finds that Palin had a third email account, which is amazing. It shows a hitherto hidden aspect to Palin, dexterity with a PC, who would have thought it?

Are the Iranian Revolutionary Guards helping to kill Syrians?

In Japan, an anti-nuclear protest.

Syria And Assorted News.

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The news coming out of Syria is terrible, Left Foot Forward covers it.

Amnesty International highlights the plight of medical staff in Bahrain that are scheduled to go on trial on Monday.

It seems that the Iranian state is getting people accustomed to the idea of a nuclear test, or at least that is one plausible reading coming out of this piece in the Guardian.

This extract is for Sally Hunt, UCU General Secretary lest she forget what institutional racism means. [Thanks to Flesh Is Grass.]

Apparently, a Tory MP has sexually assaulted a woman, and guess who he blames? The woman. Then he proceeds to cast doubt on the veracity of the victim’s account of the assault. I am sure if UCU members read the Indy article with a critical eye they will see a message there.

Another EDL thug.

An eyewitness account from Syria.

Finally, the Washington Post has a page on the Palin emails. I liked this bit, Sarah Palin emails hint at her governing style.

The Pain of Palin And Gingrich.

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It can’t be easy to be a potential party nominee to the Presidency of the United States. Aside from the intrusion, the fact you need millions and millions to run and years spent climbing the greasy pole there are other obstacles in the way of ultimate power, emails and ex-aides.

A vast treasure trove of emails from Sarah Palin have just been released and I am sure that we will hear much more about her idiocy, parochialism and self-conceit.

The Guardian, Slate, ABC News, New York Times and Huff Post are excited by what these, presumably self-serving, emails will tell us about Sarah Palin.

I can’t help thinking it will be very little, although they will probably confirm that Palin hasn’t read the US Constitution and the questions that Katie Couric asked were just too easy!

Newt Gingrich isn’t having it easy either, as his political aides resign en masse, the Atlantic Wires explains:

“Will Rogers: quit as Gingrich’s Iowa political director on May 31 Where He Griped: Also the Register

“I’d say, ‘Oh, great. Thanks for inviting us. We’ll get this sent up to the Washington, D.C., folks.’ … And then I’d send it to the D.C. folks and it would be radio silence. A few days later, you’d ask again and you’d ask again and you wouldn’t hear anything back. At first I thought it was the staff. And then I came to find out it was the candidate.”

“I decided I wasn’t going to continue to spend 60, 70 hours a week away from my family while begging GOP activists and friends around the state to be involved in the campaign.”

But the really bitchy stuff remains, of course, off the record. It also focused on Gingrich’s wife, Callista, portraying her has a Yoko Ono dividing the team and encouraging her man to fritter away his genius. It was Callista, they say, who insisted on the couple’s two-week luxury Greek cruise, the last straw for many staffers.

“He does whatever she wants,” a source complained to Politico’s Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman.

“She insisted on the cruise,” a source told Politico’s Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns.

“It’s how much time that his wife thinks that he should spend on this… It’s not a hobby. This is a full-time, 80-hour-a-week job,” a staffer told The Daily Beast’s Peter J. Boyer.

“The problem was the wife. Aides to Newt Gingrich have resigned from his presidential campaign in protest of what they felt was a takeover by Callista Gingrich… The euphemism offered by departing staffers was they disagreed with Gingrich’s ‘strategy’ for the campaign. Indeed, they did disagree. But it was a strategy–a part-time campaign, in effect–that Gingrich’s wife favored,” In fact, the Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes reports. “

How Newt Gingrich’s Campaign Imploded by Peter J. Boyer.

All most amusing, couldn’t happen to nicer people !

Update 1: One of the “almost” Palin quotes (really from Tina Fey, but you could imagine Palin saying it, “I can see Russia from my house):

A Thin Skinned SNP Councillor, The Middle East And Boycotts.

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I was going to forward a good letter on West Dunbartonshire Council’s boycott of all Israeli products to the Council and Councillor Jonathan McColl, but alas they are blocking communications on Twitter.

They seem naive and thoughtless, to imagine that their actions would not receive a response, but worse than that they haven’t really adjusted their positions. Instead they have become truculent and defensive, which is a pity for the Scottish National Party, as it makes them look small-minded and parochial.

This letter from Pete Tobias‎ to Councillor Jonathan McColl of the SNP is well worth a read:

” June 1st 2011

Dear Councillor McColl,

I have just watched your video blog on YouTube and would like to apologise for the abuse that you and your fellow council members have received from members of the public who are responding inappropriately to your council’s decision to impose a (somewhat selective) ban on goods produced in Israel. I shall refrain from commenting on your interesting views how items such as mobile phones purchased in stores Glasgow owe nothing to Israeli technology, or how you seek to avoid any accident that might require you to receive medical treatment pioneered in the country you and your council seem to have singled out as the sole perpetrators of human rights abuses and atrocities.

Please allow me to be slightly more constructive and make some suggestions as to how you might restore the image of your council as a legitimate and sensible authority rather than appearing to be anti-semitic by focusing exclusively on the State of Israel for your ‘symbolic’ gesture.

Why not propose a motion at your next Council meeting condemning the violent and oppressive treatment of the Syrian people by their own government? And in case you think what is currently happening is an isolated incident, check this out: http://bit.ly/mBGcr9 . Worth a symbolic protest of some sort, don’t you think?

Or how about the Democratic Republic of Congo? www.savethecongo.org.uk. Darfur? Burma? Tibet? Sadly, the list of places in which human rights abuses are perpetrated by one group of people against another is a long and painful one.

As a rabbi, I have consistently found myself being vilified by my own community for comments that I have made criticising Israel’s actions. We are, after all, a people who are taught to think of ourselves as ‘poor we us’, as you so rightly observe, and how dare one of the Jewish people’s own leaders dare to add his voice to those who demand no less than Israel’s destruction? But when I do so, I try to balance my arguments (eg http://bit.ly/kLFUky , http://bit.ly/bYbSAI) – and I also recognise that there are other regimes in the world worthy of criticism.

That last point, I am afraid, is where your claim that West Dunbartonshire Council’s venture into international relations represents a genuine concern with human rights smacks of the anti-semitism that you seek to deny. Your council’s actions are unbalanced, are directed towards one individual country’s failings, but do not even try to take into account the numerous other human rights’ abuses that exist in our troubled world.

Councillor McColl, if you are genuinely concerned about human rights, and you genuinely want to demonstrate that West Dunbartonshire Council is similarly dedicated to such issues, might I suggest that you seek out one or two other causes to champion in your Council Chambers, some different human rights’ violations over which to make a ‘symbolic’ gesture? Otherwise, I am afraid, your protests that you are not behaving in an anti-semitic manner founder on the knee-jerk reaction your Council has made to one situation while ignoring numerous others.

I look forward very much to hearing that West Dunbartonshire Council has passed a resolution condemning the actions of the Syrian government, the Libyan government, the Egyptian government, the Burmese government, or any other cause of your choice. If you are unable or unwilling to do this, then I am afraid you are guilty as charged, and your position in singling out Israel is indefensible.

Yours sincerely,

Rabbi Pete Tobias”[My emphasis.]

Wikipedia, Sarah Palin And Dodgy History.

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If you ever wanted an example of why Wikipedia is flawed, if occasionally informative then this Slate piece should do the job:

“This is a hell of a get by Charles Johnson. Starting on Sunday, as Sarah Palin kept explaining that her version of the Paul Revere “Midnight Ride” was historically accurate, Palin fans emerged on Wikipedia to “fix” the Revere biography. Palin’s taking heat for saying Revere “warned the British”? No problem: Just add the line in italics.

Revere did not shout the phrase later attributed to him (“The British are coming!”), largely because the mission depended on secrecy and the countryside was filled with British army patrols; also, most colonial residents at the time considered themselves British as they were all legally British subjects.

That revision is deleted with the explanation “content not backed by a reliable sources (it was sarah palin interview videos).” The people who keep cleaning this up are getting sort of bored now.

- I would strongly suggest locking this page until the Palin controversy blows over and her supporters lose interest in trying to rewrite the page to conform with her erroneous version of Revere’s ride.

- Wiki rules apply to Palin fans the same as anyone else; they are free to add material to the page as long as it is reliably sourced. IIRC, it does look like Palin’s supporters have a published source that partially agrees with her version of events, although the concept of relating Revere’s ride to gun control or 2nd Amendment rights is nonsense. However in her defense, I think Palin herself was using that as a metaphor – not a literal interpretation of this event. In any case,Palin doesn’t claim to be a professional historian so her words don’t belong on this page.

- If you mention Sarah Palin you’re doing it wrong. This article is about Paul Revere, a historical figure who died nearly two centuries before Sarah Palin came to prominence. She has absolutely nothing to do with the article. I would expect to see contemporary sources and theories proposed by modern historians, but Sarah Palin is neither here nor there.

- Sarah Palin is intent on destroying wikipedia, isn’t she? First we had huge wars over the blood libel article, now this. But Obama’s supporters do not support claim that there are 57 states! Amazing!

The original video, from Channel 7, really makes it look like Palin got a historical question she wasn’t expecting, and then flubbed it. The way she grits her teeth on the phrase “riding HIS HORSE THROUGH TOWN!” is agonizing, for all involved. And look, if someone asked me, on the spot, to explain exactly what happened during Paul Revere’s ride, I’d struggle a bit to access my elementary school memory banks. The twist, with Palin, is that she has a bona fide army of supporters who will sic themselves on anyone and anything that threatens to damage her image. One example: Last week I looked at the new CNN poll and made a mundane point about Herman Cain’s poll surge being more compelling than Palin’s narrow lead. This was interpreted in the Palinverse as “Exhibit A in the Stop Palin campaign.” “

Basically, Palin’s supporters wanted to change a Wikipedia entry to match the contents of one of her rants, then claim she was accurate as Wikipedia said so. Loopy.

Leaders’ Judgment?

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I wanted to cover more of events in Syra and Yemen, but this piece in the New York Times is very relevant.

So I am not the only one with a low opinion of Binyamin Netanyahu:

“Journalists recalled that Mr. Dagan, who had refused contact with the media during his time in office, called a news briefing the last week of his tenure and laid out his concerns about an attack on Iran. But military censorship prevented his words from being reported.

“Dagan wanted to send a message to the Israeli public, but the censors stopped him,” Ronen Bergman of the newspaper Yediot Aharonot said by telephone. “So now that he is out of office he is going over the heads of the censors by speaking publicly.”

Mr. Dagan’s public and critical comments, at the age of 66 and after a long and widely admired career, have shaken the political establishment. The prime minister’s office declined requests for a response, although ministers have attacked Mr. Dagan. He has also found an echo among the nation’s commentators who have been ringing similar alarms.

“It’s not the Iranians or the Palestinians who are keeping Dagan awake at night but Israel’s leadership,” Ari Shavit asserted on the front page of the newspaper Haaretz on Friday.

“He does not trust the judgment of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.”

It was Mr. Shavit who interviewed Mr. Dagan on stage at Tel Aviv University this week. And while Haaretz is the home of the country’s left wing, Mr. Shavit is more of a centrist.

“Dagan is really worried about September,” Mr. Shavit said in a telephone interview, referring to the month when the Palestinians are expected to ask the United Nations General Assembly to recognize their state within the 1967 border lines. The resolution is expected to pass and to bring new forms of international pressure on Israel. “He is afraid that Israel’s isolation will cause its leaders to take reckless action against Iran,” he said.

Nahum Barnea, a commentator for Yediot Aharonot, wrote on Friday that Mr. Dagan was not alone. Naming the other retired security chiefs and adding Amos Yadlin, who recently retired as chief of military intelligence, Mr. Barnea said that they shared Mr. Dagan’s criticism.

“This is not a military junta that has conspired against the elected leadership,” Mr. Barnea wrote. “These are people who, through their positions, were exposed to the state’s most closely guarded secrets and participated in the most intimate discussions with the prime minister and the defense minister. It is not so much that their opinion is important as civilians; their testimony is important as people who were there. And their testimony is troubling.”

This concern was backed by a former Mossad official, Gad Shimron, who spoke Friday on Israel Radio.

Mr. Shimron said: “I want everyone to pay attention to the fact that the three tribal elders, Ashkenazi, Diskin and Dagan, within a very short time, are all telling the people of Israel: take note, something is going on that we couldn’t talk about until now, and now we are talking about it. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark, and that is the decision-making process. The leadership makes fiery statements, we stepped on the brakes, we are no longer there and we don’t know what will happen. And that’s why we are saying this aloud.” “

Update 1: Letters From a Young Contrarian does a great job, The Arab Spring into Summer: Today’s Events.

Update 2: Not forgetting Left Foot Forward’s Arab Spring latest: Murder, civil war and motor racing.

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