Randy's Corner Deli Library

24 May 2007

Fatwa Against Hamas for Having 'Jewish Characteristics'

Fatwa Against Hamas for Having 'Jewish Characteristics'
8 Sivan 5767, 25 May 07 08:30by Nissan Ratzlav-Katz(IsraelNN.com)

A Muslim cleric, apparently from the Palestinian Authority, has released a fatwa (religious ruling) permitting the killing of members of the Hamas terrorist organization. In support of his position, the heretofore unknown sheikh declared Hamas to have "Jewish characteristics;" yet, he said that "the Jews have more mercy" on the Arabs than Hamas.

The fatwa and accompanying argumentation appeared in two articles, one in the Saudi newspaper Al-Watan and the other published on the website of the Fatah terrorist organization, headed by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

According to a report and translation of the articles provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), the Islamic cleric, identified as Sheikh Shaker Al-Hiran, labeled Hamas "Khawarij." This term is a reference to a group of Muslims that rebelled against the leadership of seventh-century Islam.

Among other affronts, the Fatah-backed sheikh declared, Hamas is willing to ally itself with non-Muslims and to battle co-religionists. Al-Hiran then said that Hamas-backed scholars should be confronted about the activities of their organization. "If they say that what they [i.e., Hamas members] do is prohibited, then you should kill them cold-bloodedly, [and you will] be rewarded by Allah for ridding Muslims of their influence and evil. Jews have more mercy towards our nation than [Hamas]. If they [i.e., the scholars] say that their conduct is permitted, then kill their scholars.... They are all the same."

In his article entitled "The Common Characteristics of Hamas and the Jews," Al-Hiran wrote that the Islamist group has "Jewish characteristics." For the PA sheikh, this means hypocrisy and a lack of trustworthiness, including breaking agreements reached with the Fatah leadership of the PA.

MEMRI analysts noted, "The articles triggered condemnation, such as a statement by Palestinian Authority Mufti Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, who labeled Al-Hiran's articles as a clear call for fitna (civil strife)." In particular, MEMRI reported that the article comparing Hamas to the Jews "triggered harsh reactions and prompted online messages from readers questioning Al-Hiran's existence." www.IsraelNationalNews.com© Copyright

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21 May 2007

Was Churchill a Friend of the Jews and Zionism?

Was Churchill a Friend of the Jews and Zionism?

Was Churchill a Friend of the Jews and Zionism?
By Daniel Mandel

Dr. Daniel Mandel is a Fellow in History at Melbourne University and author of H.V. Evatt and the Establishment of Israel: The Undercover Zionist (Routledge, 2004). His blog can be found here.

When I recently published a piece debunking the recent crop of revisionism (including his attitude to Jews) surrounding Winston Churchill in the American Spectator, a number of familiar and important questions came in from readers expressing doubt as to Churchill's partiality for Zionism and Jews. Their objections can be split into three:

1. Since Churchill in 1922 excised Transjordan from Palestine, thus denying to Zionism more than half of the territory earmarked for the Jewish National Home, is Churchill perhaps not overrated as a friend of the Jews?

2. If Churchill was such a good friend to the Jews, why did the restrictive provisions of the 1939 White Paper, which limited Jewish immigration into Palestine to 15,000 annually for the period 1939-1944 after which any further immigration would be dependent on Arab approval, remain in force under his leadership?

3. Since the failure of the RAF to bomb Auschwitz and of the British Army to stop the farhud (pogrom) against the Jews in Baghdad in 1941 have been attributed respectively to the RAF and the British Foreign Office, are we to surmise that Churchill lacked control of his own government and armed forces?

These are my answers:

1. The excision of Transjordan in 1922 from the territory in which the development of the Jewish National Home was to proceed was one of a number of decisions that was made during Churchill's visit to the region as Colonial Secretary, which included the creation of Iraq. Transjordan was then, as now, a largely arid tract of territory with no Jewish settlements. As such it was established as emirate for Abdullah, son of Sherif Hussein of Mecca and a British ally, by way of payment for services rendered during the First World War.

It was said by his deeply pro-Zionist political adviser, Richard Meinertzhagen, that Churchill saw the force of his argument that this decision deprived Zionism of room for development, but by then the decision had been made and could not be undone. Undoubtedly to Zionism's loss, the decision was not aimed at harming the movement, support for which was in fact reaffirmed as being unchangeable British policy in the 1922 White Paper. Nonetheless, it is a justified point that Churchill's decision caused a major part of Palestine to be lost to Zionism.

2. It is perfectly true that upon becoming Prime Minister in May 1940, Churchill did not overturn the 1939 White Paper, whose terms he had so eloquently denounced at the time in the Commons. The White Paper was retained because such was then the weakness of the British position that disowning it at that point was thought likely to precipitate a calamitous Arab revolt. This was probably a mistaken calculation, but in the circumstances of May 1940, it prevailed.

However, the question remains as to why Churchill did not discard it later and it was one I put to the Churchill biographer, Martin Gilbert, when I interviewed him in 1987. He responded that, from the outset, Churchill fought a Cabinet almost uniformly hostile to permitting Jewish refugees into Palestine. When Churchill was effectively overruled on this point by the Cabinet in March 1942, he and his Colonial Secretary, Lord Cranborne, bypassed its decision by devising a new policy that, contrary to the White Paper, permitted all Jews who might arrive in Palestine to stay there. The arrival of so few Jews and the failure to fill even the existing 15,000 annual quota was attributed by Gilbert to the virtual impossibility that by then existed for Jews to escape from Europe, which, he noted, the Mufti of Jerusalem, a Nazi collaborator, worked hard to achieve.

When the White Paper's absolute ban on Jewish immigration was due to come into effect in May 1944, Churchill refused to sign it into law. Gilbert's 1993 address, "Churchill and the Holocaust: The Possible and the Impossible," concisely elaborates this and other matters which, viewed in combination, provides a different picture to that of unfulfilled friendship and sympathy.

To name some further significant facts: as First Lord of the Admiralty (1939-40) Churchill ended the practice of Royal Navy vessels intercepting refugee ships bound for Palestine when he discovered the Foreign Office and Colonial Office had initiated this policy without his knowledge. When the British Commander in the Middle East, General Archibald Wavell, sought to have deported from Palestine a group of Jewish refugees who had entered the country aboard the Patria, Churchill intervened to prevent it. He also pressured a BBC that was then reluctant to report on the Nazi targeting of Jews for murder, to do so.

In January 1944, Churchill's Cabinet approved in principle a new partition plan for Palestine, which was due for adoption in the very week in November 1944 that the British Minister of State in the Middle East and Churchill's friend, Lord Moyne, was assassinated by Lehi (Stern Gang) members. Churchill's support of Zionism thereafter became subdued but endured and he withstood demands at home for a military crackdown on the Jewish community in Palestine. The Cabinet however shelved partition.

The same year, in the face of persistent opposition from the British military establishment, Churchill pushed through the creation of a Jewish military force. Indeed, such was the perception of his concern for Jewish causes that, on two occasions, callous members of his own inner staff withheld from him Jewish requests out of fear that he would respond positively to them. In short, Churchill, virtually singled-handedly, fought an indifferent and hostile bureaucracy to help the Jews and Zionism.

3. Gilbert has explained in Auschwitz and the Allies that the failure of the RAF to bomb Auschwitz et al. was the result of its commanders overriding Churchill's directives on sometimes spurious logistical grounds. The farhud in Baghdad was permitted to occur due largely to the defective judgement of the British ambassador, Sir Kinahan Cornwallis and Wavell, not Churchill, who at one stage even had to prod the latter to use the forces at his disposal to establish British authority in Iraq. Elie Kedourie has a typically authoritative account of these matters in the last two chapters of his Arabic Political Memoirs and Other Studies.

Therefore, we are not to conclude that Churchill was a poor friend of the Jews or that he had lost control of his own government. Rather, even the most formidable of democratic war leaders have to contend with contrarily-minded bureaucracies and must perforce delegate important decisions to diplomats and commanders in the field. So much of the tragedy (and glory) of history is the role played by individuals in the situations they find themselves.

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14 May 2007

Earth to G.O.P.: The Gipper Is Dead - New York Times

Earth to G.O.P.: The Gipper Is Dead - New York Times

This is the brilliant, tragic truth about the President and his party. Every word is the truth. If we as a nation put another one of these hacks into office in 2008, it will spell the continuation, deserved, of the national nightmare we have lived under since 2000. What will it mean for the American polity? God help us.


May 13, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
Earth to G.O.P.: The Gipper Is Dead
OF course you didn’t watch the first Republican presidential debate on MSNBC. Even the party’s most loyal base didn’t abandon Fox News, where Bill O’Reilly, interviewing the already overexposed George Tenet, drew far more viewers. Yet the few telling video scraps that entered the 24/7 mediasphere did turn the event into an instant “Saturday Night Live” parody without “SNL” having to lift a finger. The row of 10 middle-aged white candidates, David Letterman said, looked like “guys waiting to tee off at a restricted country club.”

Since then, panicked Republicans have been either blaming the “Let’s Make a Deal” debate format or praying for salvation-by-celebrity in the form of another middle-aged white guy who might enter the race, Fred Thompson. They don’t seem to get that there is not another major brand in the country — not Wal-Mart, not G.E., not even Denny’s nowadays — that would try to sell a mass product with such a demographically homogeneous sales force. And that’s only half the problem. The other half is that the Republicans don’t have a product to sell. Aside from tax cuts and a wall on the Mexican border, the only issue that energized the presidential contenders was Ronald Reagan. The debate’s most animated moments by far came as they clamored to lip-sync his “optimism,” his “morning in America,” his “shining city on the hill” and even, in a bizarre John McCain moment out of a Chucky movie, his grin.

The candidates mentioned Reagan’s name 19 times, the current White House occupant’s once. Much as the Republicans hope that the Gipper can still be a panacea for all their political ills, so they want to believe that if only President Bush would just go away and take his rock-bottom approval rating and equally unpopular war with him, all of their problems would be solved. But it could be argued that the Iraq fiasco, disastrous to American interests as it is, actually masks the magnitude of the destruction this presidency has visited both on the country in general and the G.O.P. in particular.

By my rough, conservative calculation — feel free to add — there have been corruption, incompetence, and contracting or cronyism scandals in these cabinet departments: Defense, Education, Justice, Interior, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, and Housing and Urban Development. I am not counting State, whose deputy secretary, a champion of abstinence-based international AIDS funding, resigned last month in a prostitution scandal, or the General Services Administration, now being investigated for possibly steering federal favors to Republican Congressional candidates in 2006. Or the Office of Management and Budget, whose chief procurement officer was sentenced to prison in the Abramoff fallout. I will, however, toss in a figure that reveals the sheer depth of the overall malfeasance: no fewer than four inspectors general, the official watchdogs charged with investigating improprieties in each department, are themselves under investigation simultaneously — an all-time record.

Wrongdoing of this magnitude does not happen by accident, but it is not necessarily instigated by a Watergate-style criminal conspiracy. When corruption is this pervasive, it can also be a byproduct of a governing philosophy. That’s the case here. That Bush-Rove style of governance, the common denominator of all the administration scandals, is the Frankenstein creature that stalks the G.O.P. as it faces 2008. It has become the Republican brand and will remain so, even after this president goes, until courageous Republicans disown it and eradicate it.

It’s not the philosophy Mr. Bush campaigned on. Remember the candidate who billed himself as a “different kind of Republican” and a “compassionate conservative”? Karl Rove wanted to build a lasting Republican majority by emulating the tactics of the 1896 candidate, William McKinley, whose victory ushered in G.O.P. dominance that would last until the New Deal some 35 years later. The Rove plan was to add to the party’s base, much as McKinley had at the dawn of the industrial era, by attracting new un-Republican-like demographic groups, including Hispanics and African-Americans. Hence, No Child Left Behind, an education program pitched particularly to urban Americans, and a 2000 nominating convention that starred break dancers, gospel singers, Colin Powell and, as an M.C., the only black Republican member of Congress, J. C. Watts.

As always, the salesmanship was brilliant. One smitten liberal columnist imagined in 1999 that Mr. Bush could redefine his party: “If compassion and inclusion are his talismans, education his centerpiece and national unity his promise, we may say a final, welcome goodbye to the wedge issues that have divided Americans by race, ethnicity and religious conviction.” Or not. As Matthew Dowd, the disaffected Bush pollster, concluded this spring, the uniter he had so eagerly helped elect turned out to be “not the person” he thought, but instead a divider who wanted to appeal to the “51 percent of the people” who would ensure his hold on power.

But it isn’t just the divisive Bush-Rove partisanship that led to scandal. The corruption grew out of the White House’s insistence that partisanship — the maintenance of that 51 percent — dictate every governmental action no matter what the effect on the common good. And so the first M.B.A. president ignored every rule of sound management. Loyal ideologues or flunkies were put in crucial positions regardless of their ethics or competence. Government business was outsourced to campaign contributors regardless of their ethics or competence. Even orthodox Republican fiscal prudence was tossed aside so Congressional allies could be bought off with bridges to nowhere.

This was true way before many, let alone Matthew Dowd, were willing to see it. It was true before the Iraq war. In retrospect, the first unimpeachable evidence of the White House’s modus operandi was reported by the journalist Ron Suskind, for Esquire, at the end of 2002. Mr. Suskind interviewed an illustrious Bush appointee, the University of Pennsylvania political scientist John DiIulio, who had run the administration’s compassionate-conservative flagship, the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. Bemoaning an unprecedented “lack of a policy apparatus” in the White House, Mr. DiIulio said: “What you’ve got is everything — and I mean everything — being run by the political arm. It’s the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis.”

His words have been borne out repeatedly: by the unqualified political hacks and well-connected no-bid contractors who sabotaged the occupation and reconstruction of Iraq; the politicization of science at the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency; the outsourcing of veterans’ care to a crony company at Walter Reed; and the purge of independent United States attorneys at Alberto Gonzales’s Justice Department. But even more pertinent, perhaps, to the Republican future is how the Mayberry Machiavellis alienated the precise groups that Mr. Bush had promised to add to his party’s base.

By installing a political hack, his 2000 campaign manager, Joe Allbaugh, at the top of FEMA, the president foreordained the hiring of Brownie and the disastrous response to Katrina. At the Education Department, the signature No Child Left Behind program, Reading First, is turning out to be a cesspool of contracting conflicts of interest. It’s also at that department that Bush loyalists stood passively by while the student-loan industry scandal exploded; at its center is Nelnet, the single largest corporate campaign contributor to the 2006 G.O.P. Congressional campaign committee. Back at Mr. Gonzales’s operation, where revelations of politicization and cover-ups mount daily, it turns out that no black lawyers have been hired in the nearly all-white criminal section of the civil rights division since 2003.

The sole piece of compassionate conservatism that Mr. Bush has tried not to sacrifice to political expedience — nondraconian immigration reform — is also on the ropes, done in by a wave of xenophobia that he has failed to combat. Just how knee-jerk this strain has become could be seen in the MSNBC debate when Chris Matthews asked the candidates if they would consider a constitutional amendment to allow presidential runs by naturalized citizens like their party’s star governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger (an American since 1983), and its national chairman, Senator Mel Martinez of Florida. Seven out of 10 said no.

We’ve certainly come a long way from that 2000 Philadelphia convention, with its dream of forging an inclusive, long-lasting G.O.P. majority. Instead of break dancers and a black Republican congressman (there are none now), we’ve had YouTube classics like Mr. Rove’s impersonation of a rapper at a Washington journalists’ banquet and George Allen’s “macaca” meltdown. Simultaneously, the once-reliable evangelical base is starting to drift as some of its leaders join the battle against global warming and others recognize that they’ve been played for fools on “family values” by the G.O.P. establishment that covered up for Mark Foley.

Meanwhile, most of the pressing matters that the public cares passionately about — Iraq, health care, the environment and energy independence — belong for now to the Democrats. Though that party’s first debate wasn’t exactly an intellectual feast either, actual issues were engaged by presidential hopefuls representing a cross section of American demographics. You don’t see Democratic candidates changing the subject to J.F.K. and F.D.R. They are free to start wrestling with the future while the men inheriting the Bush-Rove brand of Republicanism are reduced to harking back to a morning in America on which the sun set in 1989.

Palestinian Interior Minister Resigns - New York Times

Palestinian Interior Minister Resigns - New York Times

This would be funny if it weren't so sad. How are the Palestinian poeple suppposed to agree to a comprehensive peace if they cannot even have a government with members who will refrain from shooting each other? What is their credibility to be able to even agree to anything meaningful when they cannot or will not put their own house in order? I think that, if given a choice, the average Palestinian would rather be living in peace and quiet and get about the business of their lives rather than fighting all the time. Their so-called leaders -- they have no real leaders, they admit this -- only see job security in perpetuating the nationalistic angst created by the refugee/return issue. They will not accept Jews in their midst. Or, rather, Jews with a political entity -- a state -- as this is, from a strict Islamic point of view, completely contrary to the notion of a caliphate, which is what every true-believer would like to see. As if it were the 1200s again. Somebody needs to tell these people that it isn't 1200 any more and that time only goes forward, not backward. This is a scientific, demonstrable truth. So what is the answer? If I knew it, I would gladly offer my services to the parties, but all I can see is right and wrong, admittedly from my own perspective. And what is happening in Israel is just intolerable -- for everyone. What the solution is to poverty and despair as well as the hatred toward Jews that has been inbred to the "Palestinians" since the beginning of the notion of a Jewish state in the late 1890s, I don't know. The world didn't welcome Jews then, didn't welcome Jews in 1948, and still has a problem with us having a political entity to call our own to which every Jew can flee, just in case. You mean they hate us just because our belief in one God, without any interpreters (e.g, Jesus, Mohammed) is therefore the existential negative of both of the world's other major religions? You mean, if it weren't for Jews, Christians and Muslims could relax about their religion? Gee, I don't get it. Or maybe...

Good night, and good luck.

Randy Shiner, doing his best Ed Murrow

A Contrarian on Retirement Says Wait - New York Times

A Contrarian on Retirement Says Wait - New York Times

At some point, the discussion of retirement and lifestyle becomes somewhat esoteric. What did we do with our lives while we were active? Save/Help people or fix leaky pipes? Surely the latter has a value, but what is the value to the world in general of the former as compared with the latter? The world cannot long live without doctors and lawyers (sadly as to the latter, I suppose) and surely plumbers have a value. Just think what the world would be like without pipes to run potable water to homes and apartments. Disease and resultant death would flourish and do in those areas of the world that are still without running water. But if we look to a modern industrial society, shouldn't society place some value on a person who takes the time and spends the money to become educated in order to directly serve people and care for their lives? I dunno. Just asking.