Saturday, June 28, 2008
British journalist Melanie Phillips writes that a boy of that name died in a Palestinian hospital two hours before the alleged shooting by Israeli soldiers took place. Read about it here. People are comparing this case to the famous Dreyfus Affair 100 years ago. Then a French Jewish army captain was falsely accused of treason; now the state of Israel is falsely accused by French TV of child murder. (Thanks to Jihad Watch.)
As the head of the school supervisory board in Fairfax County is also running for Congress, his handling the school (he characterized criticism of it as slander) has become a political issue. And Congressional pressure on State is mounting. Frank Wolf, head of the House State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, wrote to Condi Rice that "The State Department is not doing its duty." (Thanks to Jihad Watch.)
Friday, June 27, 2008
On the other hand, a workshop in the Yemeni parliament just concluded that 18 should be the minimum age for anyone to marry; it also recommended banning female genital mutilation. See the report in the Yemen Times (thanks to Dhimmi Watch).
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Here's his main goal: "The aim must be to ensure that negative sentiments and day-to-day grievances toward the U.S. and its allies do not manifest themselves in violence." Huh? Did Osama Bin Laden launch the 9/11 attacks because of day-to-day grievances? This is what happens when you can't bear to use words like jihadist - you deny yourself the ability to say what's wrong.
But wait, it gets better. Here's Glassman's formula for describing the threat posed by Iran: "What we seek is a world in which the use of violence to achieve political, religious or social objectives is no longer considered acceptable..." So we shouldn't have invaded Iraq? Is that what he's trying to say?
Glassman previously was chair of the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors, so he's not a novice at this stuff. The only consolation is that most political appointees depart their posts during a change of administration. Which will happen within the year.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
So how do Arab Israelis (not the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza) feel about their lot? Well, 77% of Arab Israeli citizens surveyed by Harvard University's Center for Public Leadership said they would rather live in Israel than in any other country in the world. That's only one of several surprising conclusions in the study, which you can access here. Next time you hear someone say that Israelis are Nazis, suggest they read this study. (Thanks to Judith Klinghoffer at Political Mavens.)
Monday, June 23, 2008
The New York papers have all done numerous articles on the subject, with the Times sympathetic to Almontaser and the Post and Sun critical. Daniel Pipes of the Mideast Forum has been a highly visible critic of the school, and posted an extensive history of the dispute online here. For a more sympathetic view of Almontaser, see a recent Times article by Andrea Elliott.
Pipes' critique extends not just to the particulars of the school (as it was supported by CAIR, he doubted it was non-political; with an advisory board of Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders, he doubted it was secular). Beyond that, though, he argues that the bias embedded in most Arabic-language curricula makes it difficult from the very start to conduct balanced study. He also notes that Khalil Gibran is but the latest of a number of Arabic language public schools in the United States; you can read about them here.
However, 2006 data just released by the European Environment Agency show that EU member states reductions are too small to meet the 2012 target, assuming current trends continue. So what to do? Environmentalists want the European Commission to be given the power to ensure that EU states comply with their targets - whatever that means. And the Central and East European members got a scolding from the EU environment commissioner because their carbon dioxide emissions continued to climb. (Of course, these are also the countries that suffered severe economic declines in the 1990s as they switched to market economies - now they're growing out of that hole.)
For more info, see this euobserver.com piece. Let's hope that American enthusiasts for Kyoto and other types of constraints will at least look at the track record so far of implementation by other industrial economies. Yes, I know that Schadenfreude is a bad thing, but it's irresistible when someone who has badgered and defamed you so consistently falls short himself.
Friday, June 20, 2008
TiZA, named for the Muslim general who conquered Spain in the eighth century (although the Academy's website describes him only as an activist, leader, explorer, teacher, administrator and peacemaker), opened in 2003. In the intervening years, TiZA has thrived. Its example inspired the founding of the Ben Gamla Charter School, named after a Jewish high priest in the first century who encouraged education (according to the AP). It opened in August 2007.
TiZA is housed in the same complex as the Muslim American Society of Minnesota (MAS-MN), an organization identified by the Chicago Tribune in 2004 as belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood, and its executive director is an imam. MAS-MN certainly has a political profile; in 2006 it was a proponent of a fatwa telling taxi drivers not to accept travelers at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport who were carrying duty-free alcohol. See here.
The Ben Gamla school, like TiZA, offers religiously mandated food in the cafeteria, and its executive director is an orthodox rabbi. Reports of terrorist connections have yet to surface.
As this Wall Street Journal article says (thanks to Campus Watch), these and other charter schools are probing the limits of what publicly funded schools can do. That is a legitimate issue that needs to be addressed in the context of American tradition and experience. But there is another issue: whether what a school is teaching supports or undermines the American system. We won't be able to answer that question until we decide what the limits are to such behavior in general.
These improved ties aim to bring the Israeli economy and society closer to European norms and standards, and increase the competitiveness of Israeli companies in the European market. Given the powerful pro-Palestinian tilt of European media and elites, this is a welcome development. (I got this info from an article by Herb Keinon in the Jerusalem Post.)
Dalrymple expects that the European political elite will not let the Irish vote come in the way of progress. (When the Irish voted against the previous Treaty of Nice, they were told to vote again until they got it right. They did.) He warns, however, that if the elite continues to ignore the wishes of the electorate, "tensions and frustrations in Europe have a history of expressing themselves in nasty ways."
Iranian youth is quite critical of the regime, but as Institute researcher Shayan Arya points out, if even 100,000 are indoctrinated, they represent a big problem for the West. See this webpage for further details (thanks to the Hudson Institute's News & Review).
These similarities include: a one-party state, militarization of the country, brainwashing, the falsification of history, exaltation of the race, a Manichean vision of the world, a tendency to claim victimhood, constant assertions of a conspiracy against the nation, racism and anti-Semitism, glorification of the supreme leaders, etc. If Islamists come to power, things will get even worse. Says one of Sansal's protagonists, "When I see what the Islamists do here and elsewhere, I say to myself that if they ever come to power, they'll outdo the Nazis." Needless to say, Sansal expects his book to be banned in Algeria. For more details, see the translation by John Rosenthal of an interview with Sansal that appeared in the Le Nouvel Observateur.
Monday, June 16, 2008
The Islamic Saudi Academy, as its name suggests, is run by the Saudi government. The Saudi ambassador in Washington serves as chairman of its board and it operates on two properties, one of which is owned, the other leased, by the Saudi Embassy. This official connection brought it within the purview of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), which for years now has sought to obtain copies of textbooks in use at the Academy to see if they promote intolerance and hatred. The Academy had previously come to the attention of the general public when its 1999 valedictorian, Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, was convicted of terrorism and attempting to assassinate President Bush.
The Saudis reportedly gave copies of the textbooks to the State Department, which has so far not given them to USCIRF. From other sources, however, USCIRF obtained copies of a number of textbooks. Its latest press release cites passages which state, for example, that it is permissible for a Muslim to kill an apostate, adulterer, or simply someone defined as a 'polytheist' (Shia and Sufi Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus or Buddhists).
The Commission wants the State Department to hand over the textbooks, so that their content and compliance with international human rights standards can be assessed. It also wants to set up a formal mechanism to monitor Saudi implementation of their commitments to revise the textbooks.
Meanwhile, a grassroots organization sought to delay renewal of the Academy's lease until this issue was resolved. The Fairfax County Supervisory Board, however, unanimously backed the Academy in a May 19 hearing, with the Chief Supervisor apologizing to Abdallah I. Al-Shabnan, the principal of the school, for slanderous, bigoted and unfounded accusations. Since that hearing, USCIRF has issued its analysis of textbooks and Al-Shabnan has been charged with obstruction of justice: he deleted the paperwork of a child abuse case, told the parents, and recommended that the child receive counseling. His hearing is set for August 1. For details on the curriculum battle, see Jihad Watch and Islamist Watch; for these other stories, see the Smooth Stone blog here.
Obama can't control what other people say about him, of course, but he's certainly collecting a rogues gallery of endorsements.
Friday, June 13, 2008
Obama's views on U.S. relations with the Islamic world, and with Muslims in the United States will be issues to watch in the coming months. I suspect that Obama's lack of experience and knowledge (both on display as he awarded Jerusalem to Israel) will hurt him. He will be tapping into broad public support for change in U.S. foreign policy - but how will he know which changes make sense and which ones don't? Nor will he find it easy to satisfy Islamists at home; they're likely to keep raising the ante on him.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
I wish I felt more confident that the EU was likely to defend either freedom of speech or freedom of religion.
Friday, June 6, 2008
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Wafa Sultan deserves a Medal of Honor - too bad that her bravery and intelligence pass virtually unnoticed in the United States.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
If you were about to meet Ahmedinejad face-to-face, what would you ask for - what would you expect him to concede? And what would you be prepared to offer him in return? This isn't an imaginary issue: EU leaders have been trying to meet with him for some time now. Several years of abject failure at negotiating with him have not yet dulled their appetite. Nor can anyone (like the CIA, for example) pretend he has no nuclear ambitions, since the International Atomic Energy Agency has just published a list of worrying indicators.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
According to analyst Walid Phares, Nasrallah's speech nevertheless hinted at several weaknesses. While he has for now neutralized the Lebanese army by making its commander President of Lebanon, he did not fare so well in actual military confrontations, even with local Druze peasants. Although Phares thinks Hezbollah can influence perhaps 25% of the Lebanese army, that still leaves 75% who oppose him. Nasrallah won this latest round with the help of Qatar, which blocked Security Council action that would have supported the Lebanese government, then brokered the current arrangement - now being sold as "peace on our time" to the Western press.
Conventional wisdom has long said that Washington cannot focus on more than one crisis at a time. Perhaps the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have used up all the circuits, but I hope not. Allowing Hezbollah to take over Lebanon is not at all in our interests, let alone in the interests of the Middle East. For Phares' analysis, click here.
Monday, June 2, 2008
Sunday, June 1, 2008
Perhaps the UK should look more closely at this model; Islamist Watch reports that UK prison officials at the Whitemoor maximum security jail appear to be losing the battle with their Islamist inmates (about one third of 500 inmates). The officials are increasingly intimidated, yet unable to figure out what to do about it - except to get more sensitivity training. Other inmates reportedly feel endangered by Islamist gangs; I wonder if anyone will conclude that, for starters, the bad actors must be isolated from the other inmates.