The Lobbies, Rounding Up Before The Weekend.
I shall be away for a good few days and thought that rounding up news worthy bits and my random thoughts might be easier.
I admit I can’t stand the NewStatesman, but if you have to read it then Kevin Maguire’s column is good and sharp on domestic British politics.
A pessimistic Yaacov Lozowick says Peace Impossible; Progress Needed:
“Compared to long periods of Jewish history, deligitimization is a reasonable problem to have. For that matter, deligitimization compounded with a low level of violence isn’t an existential threat, either. Yet Jews haven’t become one of history’s oldest living nations by passively suffering circumstances. They have always tried to improve their lot, often with surprising success; Zionism is merely one of the more spectacular improvements. The Zionist tradition of activism requires we confront the present threat, rather than wait. The way forward is to disable the weapons of our enemies. Since the single most potent weapon in their arsenal is our occupation of the Palestinians, we must do as much as we reasonably can to end it.
Ending the occupation as a maneuver in an ongoing conflict is not the same as making peace. Making peace requires that all side to the conflict accept mutually agreed terms. There’s a reason this hasn’t yet happened, namely that the two sides cannot agree; even if they could, however, no Palestinian government could reconcile all Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims to Jewish sovereignty, nor convince the western supporters of ongoing violence to desist from aiding and abetting it. The aim of ending the occupation is to severely weaken the enemies of Jewish sovereignty by reducing the wind which currently blows in their sails.”
I don’t agree with him on much but he too is worth a read.
Meanwhile in Bahrain:
“Bahraini opposition groups and rights organizations say hundreds of public employees were dismissed on the grounds that they took part in protests. Bahrain says it had taken steps only against those who committed crimes during the protests.”
The yearly Orwell Prize is upon us, and bloggers haven’t been forgotten. I do find the self-promotional nature of this event somewhat disappointing, you have to submit your own work, rather than someone proposing you. It seems that the Orwell Prize has become another major happening, where the middle classes slap each other on the back and say what jolly good chaps/chappettes they are. Is this what Eric Blair really wanted? The Metropolitan elites congratulating each other? Probably not.
Interested in the Middle East? Use Google’s Chrome and check out the BBC’s Arabic page, which Chrome will automatically translate into any appropriate language. It’s a good read and has a slightly different perspective than the English language one.
Donald Trump and the Birther idiocy has compelled President Obama to release his birth certificate, view as a PDF. Gary Younge was good on the issue about 2 years ago, not much has changed since then. This is the White House blog on it, and I didn’t know it existed!
Gulf leaders are worried about Egypt.
Searchlight on the BNP’s Young, angry and on the rise.
Howard Jacobson on Ofcom and The Promise, sharp as ever:
“In a morally intelligent world – that’s to say one in which, for starters, Jews are not judged more harshly than their fellows for having been despatched to concentration camps – The Promise would be seen for the ludicrous piece of brainwashed prejudice it is. Ofcom’s rejection of complaints about the drama’s partiality and inaccuracy was to be expected. You can’t expect a body as intellectually unsophisticated as Ofcom to adjudicate between claims of dramatic truth and truth of any other sort. And for that reason it should never have been appealed to. That said, its finding that The Promise was “serious television drama, not presented as a historical and faithful re-creation”, is a poor shot at making sense of anything. You can’t brush aside historical re-creation in a work of historical re-creation, nor can you assert a thing is “serious television” when its seriousness is what’s in question. A work isn’t serious by virtue of its thinking it is. Wherein lies the seriousness, one is entitled to ask, when the drama creaks with the bad faith of a made-up mind.
I’m an art man, myself. Aesthetics trump the lot. And “seriousness” is an aesthetic quality or it’s nothing. But you will usually find that bad intentions makes bad art, and bad art, while it might be solemn and self-righteous, forfeits the right to be called serious. From start to finish, The Promise was art with its trousers round its ankles. Yes, it looked expensive, took its time, was beautifully shot and well acted. But these are merely the superficies of art, and the more dangerously seductive for that. “Gosh, I never knew such and such had happened,” I heard people say after one or other simplifying episode, as though high production values guarantee veracity.”
The Obama administration and Syria, conflicting policies?
When people start shouting about Mosques, remember what company you’re in, BNP man arrested at mosque protest.
In Bahrain Tweeters get a warning from the State:
““Think twice before posting, forwarding, or reTweeting messages. Are they mere propaganda or could they be libelous? Think Twice before posting, forwarding or reTweeting images. Are they appropriate in their content? Are they likely to cause offense? Could they cause harm?” “
British Foreign secretaries are normally not that naive, but William Hague seems to think Bashar al-Assad is a reformer, even after 400+ Syrians were killed by the state security apparatus, police and army. Chronically stupid doesn’t even sum up Hague in this matter.
Remember 9/11? Imagine that you were one of the first people on the scene, that you risked your life to help people. How would you be treated by Congress? Pretty damn poorly, Medialite has more:
“Jon Stewart tonight tackled the absurdity of a provision in the recently passed 9/11 first responders bill that requires any potential beneficiaries to first have their name run through the FBI’s terrorism watch list before they could collect any money. Some commentators described it as “adding insult to injury,” but Stewart more bluntly called it Congress’ “final kick to the nuts” of the first responders.
This issue is somewhat personal to Stewart given that many credited him with helping to get public support for the bill’s passage. Yet Stewart went to town, lampooning anyone who could possibly think a terrorist’s grand scheme after all of these years was to trick the U.S. government into handing over money to now pay for their cancer treatment.”
HRW seems to think that Hamas will investigate itself concerning the death of Adel Razeq. Great idea, but it ain’t going to happen:
“(Jerusalem) – Hamas authorities in Gaza should order a criminal investigation into the death of a man whose body was returned to his family five days after Hamas security officials arrested him, Human Rights Watch said today.
Relatives of ‘Adel Razeq, a 52-year-old father of nine, told Human Rights Watch that when security officials arrested him on April 14, 2011, they did not present a warrant and took him away under false pretenses. Security officials would not tell his family where he was being held. When his brother examined the body, it was badly bruised and appeared to have broken bones, he told Human Rights Watch. That, if true, would cast doubt on a Hamas Interior Ministry statement that Razeq died of an unspecified illness. “
“How does a small, energy-poor and serially misbehaving Middle Eastern regime always seem to get a Beltway pass? Conspiracy nuts and other tenured faculty would have us believe that country is Israel, though the Jewish state shares America’s enemies and our democratic values. But the question really applies to Syria, where the Assad regime is now showing its true nature.
Washington’s Syria Lobby is a bipartisan mindset. “The road to Damascus is a road to peace,” said Nancy Pelosi on a 2007 visit to Syria as House Speaker. Former Secretary of State James Baker is a longtime advocate of engagement with the House of Assad. So is Republican Chuck Hagel, who in 2008 co-wrote an op-ed with fellow Senator John Kerry in these pages titled “It’s Time to Talk to Syria.” The Massachusetts Democrat has visited Damascus five times in the past two years alone.
The argument made by the Syria Lobby runs briefly as follows: The Assad family is occasionally ruthless, especially when its survival is at stake, but it’s also secular and pragmatic. Though the regime is Iran’s closest ally in the Middle East, hosts terrorists in Damascus, champions Hezbollah in Lebanon and has funneled al Qaeda terrorists into Iraq, it will forgo those connections for the right price. Above all, it yearns for better treatment from Washington and the return of the Golan Heights, the strategic plateau held by Israel since 1967.
The Syria Lobby also claims that whoever succeeds Assad would probably be worse. The country is divided by sect and ethnicity, and the fall of the House of Assad could lead to bloodletting previously seen in Lebanon or Iraq. Some members of the Lobby go so far as to say that the regime remains broadly popular. “I think that President Assad is going to count on . . . majoritarian support within the country to support him in doing what he needs to do to restore order,” Flynt Leverett of the New America Foundation said recently on PBS’s NewsHour.
Now we are seeing what Mr. Leverett puts down merely to the business of “doing what he needs to do”: Video clips on YouTube of tanks rolling into Syrian cities and unarmed demonstrators being gunned down in the streets; reports of hundreds killed and widespread “disappearances.” Even the Obama Administration has belatedly criticized Assad, though so far President Obama has done no more than condemn his “outrageous human rights abuses.” ”
It is something to see, how tanks, snipers and the slaughter of civilians doesn’t to rile policy makers in DC, or political activists in Britain as witnessed by the non-existence demonstrations outside the Syrian embassy by the usual suspects! And that something that has struck me over the pass few weeks coverage of events in the Middle East, how little real indignation they invoked in the West.