Randy's Corner Deli Library

26 February 2006

Parisians Stare at the Evil Within

What is it about Jews that brings out the thugs? What a ridiculous byline.

Parisians Stare at the Evil Within
The torture and slaying of a young Jewish man raises the specter of anti-Semitism, but officials say it had more to do with thug culture.
By Sebastian Rotella and Achrene Sicakyuz, Times Staff Writers
February 26 2006

BAGNEUX, France — She could not stop thinking about Ilan Halimi.

And when Marie-Beatrice thought about the young Jewish man tortured to death by her neighbors during 24 days of squalid captivity in the basement a few floors below her apartment, she could not stop crying.

"I try not to blame myself, but I can't avoid it," said the weary 46-year-old, wrapped in a purple bathrobe after work Friday. "It happened next door, and I can't believe it happened. I would want to tell Ilan that if we'd heard his suffering, we would have reported it. I tell myself that Ilan surely must have thought there was noise, people lived upstairs. And he hoped someone would hear. I imagine him in the boiler room, and I want to ask him to forgive me."

Marie-Beatrice sat alone with her guilt in the aging, 11-story apartment block on Prokofiev Street in this working-class immigrant enclave on the southern edge of Paris. On a table was a summons from the police, who are canvassing neighbors to have them testify about anything they witnessed during Halimi's recent ordeal.

Marie-Beatrice, who asked that her last name not be used out of fear for her safety, said her housing project was relatively calm. But people steer clear of hoodlums and drug dealers who prowl cellars, garages and hallways — urban no man's lands ruled by fear, silence and machismo.

At the entrance to her building, someone posted an accusatory newspaper headline proclaiming that the neighborhood had refused to see the evil within: "They knew."

Marie-Beatrice's building was a hide-out for a multiethnic gang that called itself the Barbarians. They kidnapped Halimi, a 23-year-old cellphone salesman, authorities say, because he was Jewish and they thought Jews were rich. They subjected his family and a rabbi to hundreds of abusive phone calls and e-mails demanding ransom.

But greed gave way to sadism in the makeshift dungeon guarded by cigarette-smoking youths. Halimi's captors beat, burned, stabbed and poured toxic fluid on him, prosecutors say. One youth snapped at Halimi that he didn't like Jews, and then stubbed out a cigarette on his face.

Halimi died soon after the gang dumped him, bound and naked, beside railroad tracks Feb. 13. No money had changed hands.

Police have made 15 arrests, tracking down the accused ringleader Thursday in the West Africa nation of Ivory Coast. Eleven suspects face charges of conspiracy, kidnapping and murder motivated by anti-Semitism. The case traumatized the Jewish community and was condemned by President Jacques Chirac, political parties across the spectrum and Muslim groups. Tens of thousands of people are expected to march today in Paris in Halimi's memory.

In a society recovering from recent riots in predominantly Muslim areas, the slaying forces new attention on anti-Semitism, which has played a role in French history.

Halimi's family and many others in the Jewish community are convinced that the atrocity was the result of religious hatred. Even among some Jewish leaders, however, questions persist.

Rather than a premeditated anti-Semitic murder, it seems a more complex result of dysfunction in the narrow world of thug culture: a poisonous mentality that designates Jews as enemies along with other "outsiders," according to investigators and other observers.

"They mix everything together; they are against Jews, Americans, France, the West," said Sammy Ghozlan, a retired police chief and activist who tries to combat anti-Semitism. "If they could have gotten their hands on a French cop in the same way, they probably would have done the same thing…. I don't think the violence in this case was the original purpose, it developed progressively."

In contrast with the riots, which mainly targeted property and the police, the killing resembled crimes of gratuitous cruelty that have occurred in the concrete badlands around Paris: gang rapes involving as many as 17 youths, women burned to death by spurned suitors, a visiting photographer beaten to death on the spot.

The Barbarians were driven by a tribal, predatory code that glorifies brutality, authorities say, a subculture nourished on violent films; rap music that curses France and politicians; Islamic fundamentalist literature; and jihadist videos. The photos that the kidnappers sent via e-mail of a bound, battered Halimi with a gun to his head resembled images of hostages and prisoners in Iraq, authorities say.

"There are only two idols in the projects today: [French NBA star] Tony Parker and Abu Musab Zarqawi," the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, said author Stephane Bartome, a former anti-terrorism detective. "And unless you're a really good basketball player, it's easier to emulate Zarqawi."

Although investigators found Islamic fundamentalist and pro-Palestinian literature during one arrest, the suspects are not known extremists, a police intelligence official said. Some gang members were not Muslims. And several deny being anti-Semitic. But they admit setting out to kidnap Jews, prosecutors say. Police are also investigating the gang in extortion attempts on Jewish doctors that featured a hand-grenade attack last year at a medical office in Paris' fashionable Passy Street.

The gang had the swaggering, violent personality of its accused leader: Youssouf Fofana, 26, a shaven-headed son of immigrants from Ivory Coast. Police describe him as a small-time gangster with 13 arrests for crimes that include armed robbery and assault on a law enforcement official. He adopted the nickname Mohamed as well as a moniker in clumsy English: "Brain of Barbarians."

Not only do accomplices accuse Fofana of delivering the fatal stab wounds to Halimi, police say he taunted the victim's mother by phone on the day of her son's funeral.

"I saw Fofana's face and I recognized him," said white-haired Nicole Jibard, 61, sitting in a cheerful, cottage-like office of the project's social center in the concrete plaza where retired state workers mix with immigrant families. "I saw him grow up. These are youths whom you saw every day. Even the little kids are scared. They ask themselves now about these youths who gave them candy sometimes, who said hello to them."

The tactics Fofana used during Halimi's captivity stymied police who are usually skilled at complex investigations. Now they must answer questions about failing to prevent a horrific death.

Fofana traveled to Ivory Coast at least once during the 24 days. Ransom demands were sent from cyber cafes in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, and Paris, authorities say. The ransom demand plummeted from more than half a million dollars to about $5,000; a seeming lack of effort to collect any ransom suggests that Fofana was playing a perverse game.

Halimi's mother said that on Feb. 6 police instructed her not to respond to phone calls from the kidnappers. For an agonizing five days, she dutifully let her phone ring unanswered. The police may have been trying to draw Fofana back from Africa by cutting off communication.

Fofana's 14 alleged accomplices have roots in sub-Saharan and North Africa, Portugal and France. One is the 18-year-old son of an Egyptian newspaper correspondent. Another is Giles Serrurier, 39, the burly, blond manager of the building, who has been charged with taking cash in exchange for access to an empty studio apartment on the third floor and the boiler room where Halimi was tormented.

Serrurier had a reputation as an operator, said Joseph Boyer, 61, a diminutive, tattooed former soldier from the French territory of Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean. Boyer lives in a first-floor apartment — filled with crucifixes and Catholic art — near Serrurier's.

"He grew up on welfare, he grew up on the street," Boyer, who preceded Serrurier in the manager's job, said with dignified disdain. "He got a lot of advice from here and there, but he didn't do his job well…. I get the feeling he couldn't do anything without hustling. He did things in the shadows."

Some Jewish leaders and police officials think others in the project knew about Halimi's captivity but didn't report it, either because they were afraid of or loyal to the kidnappers.

"That's the law of the projects," the police intelligence official said. "People know that drug dealing, squatting, criminal activity goes on in the basements and halls — the turf of the mafias. The last thing they are going to do is report it."

Neighbors say they noticed a crew of youths hanging out day and night in the hallway and stairwell; they now realize the gang was standing guard. But Boyer said, "We were used to that. Usually with the kids in the hall things are OK, though sometimes they make noise and you call the police and they don't ever come."

The ethnic diversity of the gang was unusual, the police intelligence official said, as was the use of female accomplices who were paid to lure victims. The gang sent a young North African woman to the store where Halimi worked on a commercial strip of Voltaire Boulevard in a middle-class Jewish area. A tanned young man with a ready smile and close-cropped hair, Halimi was not rich. He lived with his mother, an immigrant from Morocco who works at a Jewish social agency.

Charmed by the young customer who seemed more interested in him than in buying a mobile phone, Halimi agreed to go out with her on the night of Jan. 20, a Friday.

"Here's proof that Jews are not clannish as some have said — he goes out with a woman from another ethnic group," said Ghozlan, the retired police chief. "Now the young people are going to be more defensive, more suspicious. I don't know what the young people are going to think…. They all felt that at that moment that they could have been Ilan Halimi."

Six years ago, when a flare-up in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict set off attacks of arson and vandalism against Jewish targets in France, Ghozlan put 31 years of police experience to work and created an agency to monitor anti-Semitism. France's 600,000 Jews are largely migrants from North Africa. Many share cultural traits and neighborhoods with an Arab community from the same region that is 10 times larger.

A dapper, sturdy 63-year-old who also leads a Hasidic music band, Ghozlan was born in Algeria and speaks Arabic as well as Hebrew. He recalls that his aging mother lived in a housing project where Arab neighbors held doors and carried groceries for her.

"It's because they saw her as someone from the project," he said. "They treat you well if you are not an outsider. Unless you dare to express political ideas."

In the building on Prokofiev Street that has become a symbol of hate, the neighbors think money, not anti-Semitism, was the motive.

"We all live together here, black and white," said Marie-Beatrice, who is white. But she couldn't explain the actions of the "barbarians" next-door. And the guilt gnaws.

"I want to address myself to his mother and ask her forgiveness," she said. "I didn't do anything, see anything, hear anything."

20 February 2006

No Doubt About It - Idiot of the Week

Yes, well said. Funny how Jews get blamed for everything, even antiSemitism -- sort of creates an existential quandary (for those that believe the crap coming out of this schmuck's poison pen.).

Monday 20 February 2006
Idiot of the week: Israeli politics today make a holocaust the day after tomorrow credible

Self-designated "Half-Jew" Christian Priest: "Israeli politics today make a holocaust the day after tomorrow credible""I began with the recognition that the cancer of anti-semitism has not been cured. Tragically, Israel’s policies feed it - and when world Jewry defends Israeli policies right or wrong, then anger turns not only against Israel, but against all Jews. I wish it were mere rhetoric to say that Israeli politics today make a holocaust the day after tomorrow credible".

Paul Oestreicher in today’s Der Guardian.

Die Juden sind IHR Unglück?

Classic anti-Semitism: "We’re not anti-Semites, the Jews make us anti-Semites". And as though that were not enough, Jews, writes Paul Oestreicher, if they continue defending their right to live as a nation, will disappear as a nation through "a holocaust the day after tomorrow". As deservedly as the first time around, Herr Oestreicher?

Oestreicher, a self-designed "half Jew", was a member of the Church of England’s general synod and director of the Centre for International Reconciliation, Coventry Cathedral; he is now a chaplain at the University of Sussex

Should any doubt still linger about the priest’s moral compass, here is a letter to the editors of Der Guardian (May 21, 2004) by a man old enough to know the difference between French resistance fighters attacking armed Nazis and Islamic radicals murdering and maiming unarmed Israeli commuters and diners:

"Those old enough to remember will recollect that the French Resistance were held to be heroes when they killed the German occupiers. I did not rejoice at German deaths then, any more than I rejoice at Israeli, American and, yes, British deaths now. But there is no difference".

Canon Paul Oestreicher
Former chairman
Amnesty International

And thus we have the pleasure to crown British Desmond-Tutu-wannabe Paul Oestreicher Judeoscope’s first Idiot of the Week. Way to go Paul! We are sure you won’t let us down in the future either!


19 February 2006

Living In a Parallel Universe

Dateline San Diego, CA: 2/19/06


If you would like to have a peek at the mentality of the Islamic world that has called for, among other things, the beheading of the dangerous Danish cartoonists who dared to draw the image of the Prophet Mohammed, see the below article. And don't forget about the title of the article. It does not tell you what the article is about -- for that, one must read about 2/3 of the way down the page.


I strongly encourage you, in light of the severe rioting the cartoons have set off, to try to get a flavor for the remaining informative 1/3 by reading the first 2/3 of the page. And try to put it into some context.


What are the author/editor's definitions of "peaceful" and "secular"? They are not adjectives that immediately pop to MY mind when I think of Islamics who seek to behead Danish cartoonists or for that matter those Islamics who go on riotous rampages over the transgressions committed against Islam by Danes in Denmark, ostensibly because they were so upsetting to Islamics world-wide.


Give 'em a corned beef, some rye bread and good, plain Yellow mustard and a diet Dr. Brown's Cherry Soda and give 'em a booth in the corner so they can calm down and return to their “peaceful” and “secular” ways. First 50 to visit get $2.00 off their sandwich. It’s worth at least $100 to spare ONE Dane his/her head.




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The Middle East's Leading English Language Daily


Sunday, 19, February, 2006 (20, Muharram, 1427)



Top of Form

Bottom of Form

Indian Minister Offers Bounty

Nilofar Suhrawardy, Arab News —


NEW DELHI, 19 February 2006 — A minister in India’s Uttar Pradesh state government has offered a reward of $11.5 million to anyone who would kill any of the cartoonists who drew the images of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Muhammad Yaqoob Qureshi, minister of state for Haj and Minorities Welfare in the Uttar Pradesh government, told a rally in Meerut, 65 km east of New Delhi, after Friday prayers that he would give “the avenger” 510 million rupees ($11.5 million) and his weight in gold.

“Drawing a cartoon of the Prophet is blasphemous and Muslims will not tolerate this insult,” he said in a speech that was broadcast by Indian television stations. “The money will be paid by the people of Meerut,” said Yaqoob.

The cartoons, drawn by 12 artists, were first published in Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in September and later reprinted in a number of other mainly European dailies. They have sparked Muslim protests worldwide.

The minister’s remarks sparked a nationwide furor and demands for his immediate arrest and resignation. When contacted by Indo Asian News Service yesterday, Qureshi repeated his declaration and said: “Muslim women of Uttar Pradesh have decided to give away their jewelry to weigh in gold any one who beheads the cartoonist, while I would collect 510 million rupees and donate it to him.

“Our protest is against none other than the United States which is solely responsible for masterminding a war against the Muslim world,” he said. “The Indian government should sever all diplomatic ties with the United States and recall its ambassador,” Qureshi said by telephone from Meerut.

Qureshi also said he had made these comments as an individual and not as a minister.

The government of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state that has a large Muslim community, said the minister’s statements were “his personal wish” and did not violate government rules.

The state’s Principal Home Secretary Alok Sinha said: “Mere announcement of this kind does not amount to a crime.’”

“Let me clarify that he did not make the announcement in his capacity as a minister.

“Secondly, the reference is being made to something that has happened outside the geographical boundaries of India. Lastly, he was simply expressing the common feeling of members of his community,” Sinha said.

The home secretary also denied that such an announcement could cause sectarian tension.

“I am sure the minister has no intention of inciting communal passions and his statement is not intended to hurt the sentiments of any other community,” Sinha said. “But, of course, I am aware that the issue is a sensitive one. We are taking due precautions to ensure maintenance of law and order.”

In the state capital, Lucknow, most establishments owned by Muslims kept their shutters down as a mark of solidarity with the protesters in Meerut.

But the influential All-India Muslim Personal Law Board, an authoritative national body of Muslim scholars, slammed the announcement as “anti-Islamic and anti-humanity.”

The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party demanded immediate arrest and dismissal of Qureshi from the state government. BJP leader N. Venkaiah Naidu said: “He should be dismissed forthwith and arrested. He should also be tried under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code.”

Describing Qureshi’s comments as cheap, vote-buying tactics, Naidu said told reporters in Madras that he hoped the Uttar Pradesh government, governor and the federal government would take immediate action against the minister.

On the cartoons, Naidu said: “I can understand sentiments of the community being hurt by such caricatures. The BJP strongly disapproves and condemn such acts.”

In Indian-administered Kashmir, some 1,000 people yesterday protested the publication of the offending drawings and demanded punishment for the cartoonists.

Carrying banners and shouting slogans, the protesters marched through the streets of Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir state, before handing over a memorandum to United Nations officials posted in the state.

“We love our Prophet” and “Down with enemies of Islam” read some of the banners carried by the protesters, who were led by the mayor of Srinagar, Ghulam Mustafa.

The protesters demanded that the governments of the countries where the drawings were published “tender unqualified apologies for such drawings and deal with the editors and publishers with an iron hand,” Mustafa said. “We are peace loving and secular people. Such acts outrage us,” he said, before the protesters peacefully dispersed.

— Additional input from agencies


Relativism and Hate Speech

This article has created appropriate condemnation. This is a blatant example of the logical fallacy called "reductio ad absurdum", a concept I learned about in sophomore logic class. Not only is Caldwell's argument (and those of like thinkers) logically fallacious, it is morally so as well, as it yields to a supposed desire on the part of governments and people not to want to make judgments about certain events (e.g., the systematic killing of 6 million Jews qua Jews...) as being worthy of official condemnation. That this is still being bandied about in papers such as the FT is in itself absurdum. Have they taken a position on the very real violence that cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed have supposedly wrought? I take the FT every day; I see nothing in that regard, ostensibly for the same reason that Western Officialdom has not seen fit to condemn the violence and its perpetrators: they have the oil or, in the case of the FT, advertising revenue, and they can't offend the oil or the money, heaven forfend!


Christopher Caldwell: Historical truth speaks for itself

By Christopher Caldwell
Friday, February 17, 2006
Posted: 03:35 PM EST (20:35 London)

At the height of the worldwide demonstrations over caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed, some protesters claimed the west did not value free speech as much as it said. After all, the argument ran, many western countries ban Holocaust denial. Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, the Iranian leader, has recently thumbed his nose at the west by denying the Holocaust himself. A Belgian Arab group released a cartoon showing Adolf Hitler in bed with Anne Frank. "Europe, too, has its sacred cows," said the group's leader, Dyab Abou Jahjah, "even if they are not religious sacred cows." The gesture may be tawdry, but the point is essentially correct. In much of Europe, there is a legislated "official truth" about the Holocaust. France passed its so-called Gayssot law, making Holocaust denial a crime, in 1990. Germany and Switzerland soon followed suit. Denying or minimising the Holocaust is now also a crime in Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia.

The problem with this official truth is not that it is untrue. The problem is that policing fringe opinion about the second world war creates more problems than it solves. Some are constitutional. In The Guardian last week, Ronald Dworkin, the legal philosopher, wrote: "If we expect bigots to accept the verdict of the majority once the majority has spoken, then we must permit them to express their bigotry in the process whose verdict we ask them to respect." He suggested using the European Convention on Human Rights to strike down laws banning Holocaust denial.

Madeleine Rebérioux, the late leftist historian, warned of the biggest danger of the Gayssot law as soon as it was passed. "One day", she wrote, "it's going to lead into other areas besides the genocide against the Jews – other genocides and other assaults on what will be called 'historical truth'." She was right. A law declaring the Turkish killings of Armenians early last century to be a "genocide" was passed in 2001; later that year, another law defined the slave trade as a "crime against humanity"; a year ago, legislation mandated that teachers stress the "positive role" of the French presence in north Africa. Each new officialisation of remembrance calls into being more "moral lobbies", which press their claims with ever more insistence, in ever more obscure corners of political life, and with ever more legal clout.

Since the Gayssot law, sanctions against "crimes of opinion" have proliferated in all walks of life. Already in 1995, Bernard Lewis – probably the most important scholar of Turkey in the past century – was condemned in a French court for refusing to apply the term "genocide" to the Armenian massacres. Muslim and human-rights groups have brought complaints and suits against the novelist Michel Houellebecq, the journalist Oriana Fallaci, the philosopher Alain Finkielkraut and (for printing cartoons of Mohammed) the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. In January, a member of the national assembly who had said he found "heterosexuality superior to homosexuality on the moral level" became the first Frenchman convicted of homophobia.

Last year, Olivier Pétré-Grenouilleau, the best-known French historian of slavery, criticised the 2001 slave-trade law in an interview. A pressure group of "descendants of slaves" took him to court for "disputing a crime against humanity". In recent weeks, two petitions have urged the repeal or gutting of all memory laws – and have won the support of much of the intellectual world in Paris. The first, "Freedom for History", signed by the historians Pierre Nora, Michel Winock and Mona Ozouf, among others, noted the way claims to official memory multiply. The second, "Freedom to Debate", authored by Paul Thibaud, the anti-colonialist essayist, and signed by several of the country's most distinguished historians and philosophers, deplored the recent "competition of memory".

The Gayssot law, Mr Thibaud argues, unleashed "a variety of anti-Semitism more dangerous than the one it restrained". Groups formed to promote the memory of slavery, for example, increasingly allege that Jews controlled the slave trade – a favourite myth of Louis Farrakhan's US-based Nation of Islam. In principle, what was done to the Jews of Europe during the second world war holds universal lessons. In practice, minority groups have not seen the Gayssot law that way. They reason that there are other prejudices in society besides anti-Semitism. Once the state admits the principle of protecting minorities by restricting certain utterances about their history, new groups pop up to agitate for special protections against the prejudice that threatens them most.

Mr Dworkin's case for abolishing laws against Holocaust denial, on grounds of political legitimacy, is the right one. Of course, no one should be under the illusion that being able to go out and deny the Holocaust will add much to any "debate". The official truth of western governments about the Holocaust happens to be the truth. Allowing delusions or anti-Semitic propaganda to masquerade as "opinions" will not change that. So those western countries with laws against Holocaust denial are now in a tricky position. They must undo laws that have proved unworkable and counterproductive, and at a moment when some of those laws' most vocal detractors are violent people of ill will.

The writer is a senior editor at The Weekly Standard

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12 February 2006

11 February 2006

So much has been written lately about the protests all over the world about the publication (in September of 2005 in a little known Danish newspaper,) of cartoon depictions of the Prophet Mohammed that it hardly deserves more attention than it already has received. But the extent of the mob response is symptamologic of a greater problem (given the pervasiveness of Islamics in Western and especially European society) : this is a signal to everyone -- including the Norwegians who instigated a boycott of products from Israel over the so-called "occupation" of the West Bank and Gaza -- that our fundamental principles, not just freedom of the press, but freedom generally, are all under attack from this element which, as Krauthammer describes, is attempting to dictate to us, through fear, how we run our lives and governments. As the Israeli experience shows, if the West lies down to this, it would be doomed, and we may as all move to Mars.

Today it was reported that Arab mobs erupted in violence in East Jerusalem over the Danish cartoons. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3214442,00.html What is the point of these protests? They happened in Denmark...and only recently were republished in other papers throughout the world as a sign, presumably, of solidarity with the Danes who have been savaged for allowing a free press.

I would say to those who don't appreciate the free press in the liberal democratic Western European countries they chose to emigrate to -- LEAVE. Go back to the bastions of liberal democracy you came from like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Algeria, etc. And this time, stay there. And leave the rest of the world alone. Just make sure that you leave the oil spigot on. God knows that we don't want to lose THAT.


Curse of the Moderates

By Charles Krauthammer

Friday, February 10, 2006; A19

As much of the Islamic world erupts in a studied frenzy over the Danish Muhammad cartoons, there are voices of reason being heard on both sides. Some Islamic leaders and organizations, while endorsing the demonstrators' sense of grievance and sharing their outrage, speak out against using violence as a vehicle of expression.

Their Western counterparts -- intellectuals, including most of the major newspapers in the United States -- are similarly balanced: While, of course, endorsing the principle of free expression, they criticize the Danish newspaper for abusing that right by publishing offensive cartoons, and they declare themselves opposed, in the name of religious sensitivity, to doing the same.

God save us from the voices of reason. What passes for moderation in the Islamic community -- "I share your rage but don't torch that embassy" -- is nothing of the sort. It is simply a cynical way to endorse the goals of the mob without endorsing its means. It is fraudulent because, while pretending to uphold the principle of religious sensitivity, it is interested only in this instance of religious insensitivity.

Have any of these "moderates" ever protested the grotesque caricatures of Christians and, most especially, Jews that are broadcast throughout the Middle East on a daily basis? The sermons on Palestinian TV that refer to Jews as the sons of pigs and monkeys? The Syrian prime-time TV series that shows rabbis slaughtering a gentile boy to ritually consume his blood? The 41-part (!) series on Egyptian TV based on that anti-Semitic czarist forgery (and inspiration of the Nazis), "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," showing the Jews to be engaged in a century-old conspiracy to control the world?

A true Muslim moderate is one who protests desecrations of all faiths. Those who don't are not moderates but hypocrites, opportunists and agents for the rioters, merely using different means to advance the same goal: to impose upon the West, with its traditions of freedom of speech, a set of taboos that is exclusive to the Islamic faith. These are not defenders of religion but Muslim supremacists trying to force their dictates upon the liberal West. And these "moderates" are aided and abetted by Western "moderates" who publish pictures of the Virgin Mary covered with elephant dung and celebrate the "Piss Christ" (a crucifix sitting in a jar of urine) as art deserving public subsidy, but who are seized with a sudden religious sensitivity when the subject is Muhammad.

Had they not been so hypocritical, one might defend their refusal to republish these cartoons on the grounds that news value can sometimes be trumped by good taste and sensitivity. After all, on grounds of basic decency, American newspapers generally -- and correctly -- do not publish pictures of dead bodies, whatever their news value. There is a "sensitivity" argument for not having published the cartoons in the first place, back in September when they first appeared in that Danish newspaper. But it is not September. It is February. The cartoons have been published, and the newspaper, the publishers and Denmark itself have come under savage attack.

After multiple arsons, devastating boycotts, and threats to cut off hands and heads, the issue is no longer news value, i.e., whether a newspaper needs to publish them to inform the audience about what is going on. The issue now is solidarity.The mob is trying to dictate to Western newspapers, indeed Western governments, what is a legitimate subject for discussion and caricature. The cartoons do not begin to approach the artistic level of Salman Rushdie's prose, but that's not the point.

The point is who decides what can be said and what can be drawn within the precincts of what we quaintly think of as the free world.The mob has turned this into a test case for freedom of speech in the West. The German, French and Italian newspapers that republished these cartoons did so not to inform but to defy -- to declare that they will not be intimidated by the mob. What is at issue is fear. The unspoken reason many newspapers do not want to republish is not sensitivity but simple fear. They know what happened to Theo van Gogh, who made a film about the Islamic treatment of women and got a knife through the chest with an Islamist manifesto attached.The worldwide riots and burnings are instruments of intimidation, reminders of van Gogh's fate.

The Islamic "moderates" are the mob's agents and interpreters, warning us not to do this again. And the Western "moderates" are their terrified collaborators who say: Don't worry, we won't. It's those Danes. We're clean. Spare us. Please.

For those of us with a fascination at the capacity of man to be cruel others, I invite you to read the following review. It looks as though the book and DVD under discussion ought to be in the library of those with an interest in Holocaust studies in general and in the German response to it following the cessation of the war.

What is this book's place in the literature that include's Goldhagen's _Ordinary Germans_? Or Hannah Arent's _Eichmann in Jerusalem: The Banality of Evil_? Did it take sensationalism in the local press for Germans to take a look at what they had, in one way or another, permitted? Why was the subject Court placed in essentially the same position as the Nazi tribunal that looked at "corruption" at Auschwitz in 1943 -- looking only, really, at those people who went beyong the "call of duty" to satisfy their own bloodlust? What about the "duty" itself? Was that ever called into question during the trial? Or were these statistical "outliers"?

I think that Arendt's book concerning the Eichmann trial and its motivations and conduct is quintessential reading to answer some of these questions which certainly, because of newly available documentation, is first exposed in the subject book. But the trial of Eichmann in Israel in 1962 exposed, if these trials did not, the sense of the overall involvement, the banality if you will, of the "duty" of "ordinary Germans" to make Germany "Judenrein". This book will go on my "to read" list to fill in some holes in my understanding at the very least with the hope that it will demonstrate its worth on its own merit based on the newly available documentation.

Published by H-German@h-net.msu.edu

(February 2006) Rebecca Wittmann. _Beyond Justice: The Auschwitz Trial_. Cambridge andLondon: Harvard University Press, 2005. ix + 336 pp. Illustrations, notes,bibliography, index. $35.00 (cloth), ISBN 0-674-01694-7.

Digitale Bibliothek. _Der Auschwitz-Prozeß_. Herausgegeben vom Fritz BauerInstitut Frankfurt am Main und dem Staatlichen Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau.Berlin: Directmedia, 2004. EUR 45.00 (DVD-ROM), ISBN 3-89853-501-0.

Reviewed for H-German by Caroline Sharples, Department of History,University of Southampton

Putting the Past on Trial

The Auschwitz trial was the largest Nazi war crimes trial to take placeunder the jurisdiction of the Federal Republic. Staged in Frankfurt am Mainbetween December 1963 and August 1965, the proceedings against twenty formerextermination camp personnel lasted over 180 days and called upon 254witnesses. The trial commanded massive media attention, both within the WestGerman state and abroad. It stood in stark contrast to earlier West Germantreatment of Nazi atrocities. During the late 1940s, popular voices calledfor an end to the Allied-imposed denazification process, and for theamnesties of those already sentenced by Allied tribunals. Once the FederalRepublic gained its sovereignty in 1949, the number of war crimesprosecutions fell rapidly. The Allies rendered 5,006 convictions between1947 and 1950; in 1954, there were just 44.[1]

It was not until the UlmEinsatzkommando trial in 1958 and the subsequent establishment of theZentrale Stelle der Landesjustizverwaltung zur Aufklärungnationalsozialistischer Verbrechen in Ludwigsburg that the West Germanjudiciary was seen to be taking the Nazi past more seriously.As a result, the Auschwitz trial--together with the 1961 prosecution ofAdolf Eichmann in Jerusalem--has been popularly regarded by historians asone of the key factors in inspiring a more critical West German engagementwith the legacy of the Third Reich.

Ian Buruma insists that, for the WestGerman people, the Auschwitz trial "was the one history lesson thatstuck."[2] Similarly, Mark Osiel argues that the trial "captured theimagination of millions of young Germans as virtually nothing about thecountry's past had done before."[3] Despite such claims, however, there hasbeen little critical analysis to date of the trial and its impact upon theWest German population.[4]

This absence of work on the Auschwitz trial stems from the fact that primary source material on the proceedings was not made available to researchers until fairly recently. Federal German law precludedthe release of trial documents until thirty years after the case's conclusion, while the proceedings themselves had been audiotaped rather than transcribed. Only in the last few years has the Fritz Bauer Institute in Frankfurt completed the transcription of some fifty hours worth of tape recordings.

Rebecca Wittmann's new book thus represents the first detailed study on the trial, a valuable contribution that draws upon previously untapped evidence and fills a significant gap within existing war crimes historiography. A glance at Wittmann's work reveals that the long wait for a detailed account of the Auschwitz trial has proved worthwhile.

Over the course of six chapters, the entire history of the trial is laid bare in meticulous detail from its inception to the final sentencing. For those unfamiliar with thehistory of Nazi war crimes trials up to this point, the first chapter provides a concise overview, exploring earlier Allied policies as well as competing political interpretations of the Nazi past played out between Adenauer and Schumacher during the formative years of the Federal Republic. Wittmann explains the nature of the West German penal code and its capacity for dealing with Nazi crimes, together with the ongoing political debates onthe Statute of Limitations that came to characterize the 1960s.

The remaining five chapters deal in turn with pre-trial investigations leading up to the Auschwitz trial, the indictment, the course of the trial itself, the judgment and, finally, the response leveled at the verdict by Fritz Bauer (Attorney General for the State of Hesse), the media (including theWest German and international press), Holocaust survivors and other contemporary observers.Wittmann's chief argument rests in her claim that--despite all the educational ambitions invested by prosecuting agencies in the run up to the trial, and despite the subsequent claims made by historians--the Auschwitz trial produced a paradoxical result.

It certainly brought the history of the extermination camp to a far wider West German audience, inspiring Peter Weiss's 1965 play, _The Investigation_, and producing much excitement among the West German media. The press followed the proceedings avidly, with dramatic headlines relaying each day's events to their readers. Yet the very nature of this press coverage distorted reality. Sensationalized articles demonized the defendants and emphasized the most sadistic acts described in the Frankfurt courtroom. Wittmann comments, "It was almost a pornography ofthe Holocaust, that both sold papers and distanced the general public from the monsters on the stand whose actions were reported in graphic detail"(p.176).

This implicit distinction between the perpetrators of the Holocaust and the"ordinary" West German population, though, could be traced back to the nature of the proceedings themselves. Indeed, as Wittmann argues, the language of the indictment revealed how the basis for bringing the defendants to trial rested on "the maltreatment of prisoners and excessive cruelty leading to death, rather than murder per se" (p.101). During the trial itself, lesser crimes were relativized, not least as a result of a reliance on the testimony of former SS personnel.

In 1943, the Morgen Commission was sent to Auschwitz to investigate allegations of corruption among the camp staff. Its leader, former Nazi judge Konrad Morgen, now appeared in Frankfurt, outlining examples where defendants had used their own initiative to follow their sadistic instincts. As a result, the Auschwitz proceedings became a trial of excess perpetrators, men who could clearly be seen as going beyond the call of "duty" to satisfy their own bloodlust. Wittmann notes that "the limitations of the law obscured more than they revealed, by making the prosecution dependent on the same standards of illegality the Nazis themselves had used to investigate criminal activity in the camps" (p.271-2).Wittmann's book thus provides a refreshing corrective to previous scholarlyclaims about the impact of the Auschwitz trial. Through her careful and immensely detailed analysis of the proceedings, Wittmann offers new evidence of the trial's impact upon the West German people, and the extent to which it really can be said to have altered popular attitudes towards the Nazi past.

Her findings highlight the contradictory nature of war crimes trials and their treatment within the media, underlining the need to go beyond conventional historical narratives and acknowledge the complexities involved within any study of _Vergangenheitsbewältigung_ in 1960s West Germany.

As Wittmann concludes: "There is no doubt that the Auschwitz trial did, at least for a short time, bring the atrocities of the Nazi regime to the fore.The daily press coverage and most especially the widely staged, important and sensational play _The Investigation_ by Peter Weiss, provided constant reminders to the public of the crimes committed by former Nazis who were then living in freedom in Germany.... At the same time, though, most people saw the grisly crimes of the sadistic defendants as if they were part of a macabre fantasy world...and did not make a connection between the perpetrators on trial, the harmless neighbors living peacefully beside them, and their own role in the Nazi past.

To them the trial seemed to have done its job, properly punishing the real monsters and leaving the rest, people who had been confused, coerced or brainwashed into collaborating with the Nazis, to go on with their lives" (p.247).

A perfect accompaniment to Wittmann's study comes in the form of a newDVD-ROM compiled by the Fritz Bauer Institute and the Auschwitz-Birkenau museum. This resource provides a good starting point for examining the trial. It contains a wealth of documents, photographs, plans and transcripts from the Auschwitz trial, including witness statements. A brief overview of each of the twenty defendants is included, citing their date of birth, former SS rank and role in the Nazi regime and the charges leveled against them. Users are able to follow the key moments in the trial from start to finish, or look up key terms or individual names within an easy to use search facility. The program even includes some of the audio recordings from the proceedings, enabling us to hear the testimonies for ourselves andliterally bringing the case to life.

Thus, after decades of neglect, the history of 1963-65 Frankfurt Auschwitztrial has suddenly become accessible as a result of these two new resources, marking a long overdue but vital contribution to the field of war crimes trials and the history of _Vergangenheitsbewältigung_.

Notes [1]. Statistics taken from C.M. Clark, "West German Confronts the Nazi Past:Some Recent Debates on the Early Postwar Era, 1945-1960," _The EuropeanLegacy_ 4 (1999), p. 122. For details on the amnesty campaigns of the late1940s and 1950s, see Norbert Frei, _Adenauer's Germany and the Nazi Past:The Politics of Amnesty and Integration_, translated by J. Golb (New York:Columbia University Press, 2002), pp. 203-233.

[2]. Ian Buruma, _The Wages of Guilt: Memories of War in Germany and Japan_(London: Vintage, 1995), p. 149.

[3]. Mark Osiel, _Mass Atrocity, Collective Memory and the Law_ (NewBrunswick: Transaction, 1997), pp. 192-193.

[4]. Existing works on the Auschwitz case have been confined to publications during the 1960s by trial observers. See Bernd Naumann, _Auschwitz: A Reporton the Proceedings Against Robert Karl Ludwig Mulka and Others Before theCourt at Frankfurt_, translated by J. Steinberg (London: Pall Mall Press,1966); and Hermann Langbein, _Der Auschwitz-Prozess: Eine Dokumentation_(Vienna: Europa Verlag, 1965).

Copyright (c) 2006 by H-Net, all rights reserved. H-Net permits the redistribution and reprinting of this work for nonprofit, educational purposes, with full and accurate attribution to the author, web location, date of publication, originating list, and H-Net: Humanities & Social Sciences Online. For other uses contact the Reviews editorial staff: hbooks@mail.h-net.msu.edu.
The following is an interesting article from the University of Pittsburgh's student newspaper. It discusses the nature and findings of a Pitt professor who (contrary, really to the title of the article) makes more sense out of the "theory" of evolution in light of advances in our knowledge of molecular cell biology.

The Pitt News - Professor challenges evolution

What is fascinating is are the responses to the article. Some are obviously from professors; others are from those who would cram "Intentional Design" theory (creationism in new clothes) down the throat of people who would look to some rational explanation of the basis for the evolution of the earth and its multifarious inhabitants, including bugs, fish, and of course humans.

What had brought this subject to light was the amusing notion that the Bush administration had in censoring an NOAA scientist for stating the truth concerning global warning, something that the Bush Administration apparently does not recognize as something particularly troubling, but that scientists are warning will, if not checked, cause the melting of the polar ice caps, causing (more) disasters of Biblical proportions. Subsequently it was discovered that the Bush Administration had put a 24 year old gentleman who (it turns out) misrepresented himself to his employers as having a college degree, but who nonetheless was given an appointment as the head of the Public Affairs department at the NASA. Mr. Deutsch, the subject individual, apparently sent around a memorandum ordering that all references to the "Big Bang" be followed by the word "theory". All of this was covered in detail by the oft-criticized New York Times which did an excellent job of exposing this clear case of censorship, with those who defied the diktat facing "dire consequences" according to the memorandum.

For a good discussion, see

Censorship Is Alleged at NOAA
Scientists Afraid to Speak Out, NASA Climate Expert Reports
By Juliet EilperinWashington Post Staff WriterSaturday, February 11, 2006; Page A07
NEW YORK, Feb. 10 -- James E. Hansen, the NASA climate scientist who sparked an uproar last month by accusing the Bush administration of keeping scientific information from reaching the public, said Friday that officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are also muzzling researchers who study global warming.
Hansen, speaking in a panel discussion about science and the environment before a packed audience at the New School university, said that while he hopes his own agency will soon adopt a more open policy, NOAA insists on having "a minder" monitor its scientists when they discuss their findings with journalists.

James E. Hansen, NASA's leading climate scientist, told a New York audience that NOAA scientists are being censored on global warming. (Melanie Patterson - AP)
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"It seems more like Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union than the United States," said Hansen, prompting a round of applause from the audience. He added that while NOAA officials said they maintain the policy for their scientists' protection, "if you buy that one please see me at the break, because there's a bridge down the street I'd like to sell you."

NOAA Administrator Conrad C. Lautenbacher denied Hansen's charges, saying his agency requires its scientists to tell its press office about contacts with journalists but does not monitor their communications.

"My policy since I've been here is to have a free and open organization," Lautenbacher said. I encourage scientists to conduct peer-reviewed research and provide the honest results of those findings. I stand up for their right to say what they want."

Hansen prefaced his speech, which focused largely on how quickly humans must act in order to prevent irreversible climate change, by saying he was speaking as an individual. "I'm not speaking for the agency or the government," he said.

Most scientists who study climate change have concluded that Earth's current warming is being driven by the burning of fossil fuels. The administration does not question the link between human activity and climate change, but it has called for more research and supports solutions other than mandatory limits on carbon emissions.

After the panel discussion -- which also featured Princeton University professor Michael Oppenheimer, American Enterprise Institute fellow Steven Hayward and Stanford University professor Paul Ehrlich -- Hansen said he knows of NOAA scientists who are chafing at the administration's restrictions but are afraid to speak out.

New School President Bob Kerrey, a former Democratic senator from Nebraska, said he invited Hansen to speak because he was "very concerned" about what he called the administration's efforts to steer the debate over global warming: "It's not only inappropriate; it stifles the very debate we're trying to have today, and that we need to have on this issue."

Kerrey said of Hansen, "He's not a radical; he's a scientist who's studied the issue. Let the disagreement occur without stifling one side of the argument."

After Hansen told the New York Times and The Washington Post in late January that political appointees at NASA had made it hard for him and other researchers to convey their findings on climate change to the public, NASA Administrator Michael D. Griffin e-mailed agency employees last week and vowed to support "scientific openness."

Griffin, who had been chastised by House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood L. Boehlert (R-N.Y.) over the issue earlier in the week, said he would draft a new policy that would respect scientists' right to speak out.

In an interview Friday, Boehlert -- who has met personally with Griffin and spoken on the phone with him several times since the controversy erupted last month -- said he was satisfied Griffin was taking the necessary steps.

"The administration should make it abundantly clear, as Michael Griffin did in his letter to NASA employees, that there will be no effort, in any way, shape or form, deliberate or hinted at, that would stifle a respected scientist working for the government, doing research paid for by the American taxpayers, from talking about their work," Boehlert said.

He added that he had not received "outpourings from the scientific community" alleging government censorship and that, to his knowledge, "there are no plans in place to intimidate or stifle science."

Also Friday, George C. Deutsch, 24, a NASA spokesman who resigned this week after allegations that he had edited scientists' writings to conform to administration views and tried to limit reporters' access to Hansen, e-mailed reporters to say there is a "culture war" in the government over climate change. Deutsch's resignation came after it was learned he had not graduated from Texas A&M University, as he claimed on his resume.

"There is no pressure or mandate, from the Bush administration or elsewhere, to alter or water down scientific data at NASA, period," Deutsch said, adding that after being tasked to work with Hansen, "I quickly learned one thing: Dr. Hansen and his supporters have a very partisan agenda and ties reaching to the top of the Democratic Party.

"Anyone perceived to be a Republican, a Bush supporter or a Christian is singled out and labeled a threat to their views. I encourage anyone interested in this story to consider the other side, to consider Dr. Hansen' s true motivations and to consider the dangerous implications of only hearing out one side of the global warming debate," Deutsch said.

10 February 2006

Today I was sent a copy of the first chapter of David Horowitz's new book _The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America_ which was published on a website I rarely visit since it is basically a "conservative" rag which doesn't hold terribly much for me. (The reality is that these labels have, over the course of the past few years become less and less meaningful, so that dear ol' mom's turn of the phrase "you can learn from a worm" holds very true, though mostly these people aren't worms.)

The posting is http://www.frontpagemagazine.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=21249

The following is some commentary I had to someone who hadn't seen the article and to whom I had sent it:

That bastard Ward Churchill is a real peach. I saw him interviewed on Charlie Rose, and you just wanted to beat the shit out of him for what he said about the people who died on 9/11 being "little Eichmanns". As if this git ever even opened Hannah Arendt's _Eichmann In Jerusalem: The Banality of Evil _ to know who or what Eichmann was. I thought at the time that he really was an American Indian, so I gave him a little slack. Not that I didn't think his statements were any less outrageous because of his supposed background. Just that he might have some unresolved anger issues.

Now Horowitz tells us that he's a regular white guy who doesn't even have the qualifications to shine my shoes, not to mention poisoning minds at a relatively major state university. The problem with the professors at the major universities is that they aren't idiots: they are just hateful, vile individuals who just hate _____________________________ . (you name it)

I am the first to defend a professor's right to his/her opinions. In college in Madison, you knew that if you took Goldberg's political science course, you were going to get a dose of Marxism --- he was a Marxist. But in these cases (especially among the so-called Middle East Studies Departments at, for example Harvard) they are funded in large measure by Islamic foundations and oftentimes directly by the government of Saudi Arabia or individuals who are in it. And they all have their money to spend. And have done so lavishly at our finest universities to keep the professors apologizing for their colleagues who don't, for example, think cartoons of the prophet Mohammed are particularly amusing, whether or not they are editorial in nature or not. Then there are those who just hate Israel and Jews and won't hear any commentary in response. It's gotten, for Jewish kids on major university college campuses, so bad that they cannot express their views for fear of a) pissing off the wrong professor or b) getting beaten up by the local Arabs. Check out www.campuswatch.com for what I am talking about.

Academia has really run wild. Beyond the pale of reasonable discourse at institutions of higher learning. There has to be some balance between academic freedom and hate speech. Maybe that isn't even the standard; I don't know. . .