Archive for the ‘Saudi Arabia’ Category

Clinton lauds Arab peace initiative on Saudia Arabia’s National Day

September 22, 2010 Leave a comment

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Press Release)–On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the Custodian of the two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud, and the people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on your national day this September 23.

King Abdullah’s leadership on key challenges, from developing the Kingdom’s institutions and economy to establishing an enduring dialogue promoting moderation and tolerance, has put Saudi Arabia and the region on a path towards a stronger, more prosperous, and more secure future. We also honor King Abdullah’s steadfast support for the Arab Peace Initiative. This groundbreaking initiative provided a far-sighted vision for comprehensive regional peace when the King first proposed it. As we continue working to support direct talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians, the principles enshrined in the Arab Peace Initiative are more important than ever.

Our cooperation ranges from science and technology to health and safety – including raising awareness of breast cancer and helping Hajj pilgrims stay healthy – to trade and investment and our shared goal of expanding opportunities for women and youth. We are also working to increase opportunities for student exchanges and to strengthen our educational partnerships, something I discussed with King Abdullah in depth on my visit to Saudi Arabia earlier this year and with the women of Dar Al-Hekma College in Jeddah.

As we join in celebrating this special day, we reaffirm the commitment of the United States to broaden and deepen our partnership with Saudi Arabia in the years to come. I wish all Saudis a safe and joyous National Day.

Preceding provided by U.S. State Department

Words of controversy: It’s ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ to some, ‘Cordoba House’ to others

August 26, 2010 Leave a comment

By Ira Sharkansky

Ira Sharkansky

JERUSALEM– The Ground Zero Mosque as its opponents call it, or Cordoba House according to its promoters, has become a mirror of  politics in the United States and elsewhere, and not always the best of those politics. Bottom feeders in New York see strong opposition as their best road to a nomination. Some who claim a posture of high principle do not go beyond the slogans of religious freedom or property rights to the problem that there are no rights without limits.

Relevant here is the counter slogan against those who would call fire in a crowded theater. A song in the style of American country music shows that the issue has gone far beyond New York City. Europeans are chiming in to focus on American naivite, and urging the sane to do something like their own campaigns against large mosques proposed for city centers.

Somewhere is a report that the project has only been able to raise $18,000. Insofar as the total cost is estimated at $100 million, the issue of money has been a prominent topic of speculation. The promoter has not ruled out relying on money from Saudi Arabia or some other Middle Eastern source. That raises the possibility that it may come from some of the pockets that paid for 9-11, making that tragic event into a project of urban renewal that will produce a Muslim icon in lower Manhattan instead of the World Trade Center.

Trust is an element in the controversy.

Important to those supporting the project is the notion of Islam as a religion that deserves protection in the fabrics of American society and politics. Some have signed on to the concept of Abrahamic religions to replace Judeo-Christian as the inclusive adjective for the United States. The word has an attractive ring, but I am not aware of how many Muslims subscribe to something that considers their faith as only one among equals. Also, Abrahamic religions does not include Hindus and others who may be as well represented as Muslims among immigrants who came to the United States since the 1960s.

Opponents do not deny that Islam is a religion, but they assert that it is associated with a political agenda, ancient and modern violence, and aspirations to dominate wherever it can. The principal promoter of the mosque, Feisal Abdul Rauf, has caused problems for those who admire him by refusing to speak clearly about funding, or to condemn Islamic groups widely identified as terrorist, like Hamas and Hizbollah.

Rauf has sought to convey an Islam that is not aggressive toward others, but skeptics doubt that his sentiments will assure that the lessons taught over the years in the community center, and the sermons offered in the mosque will overcome other themes that have been more prominent in Islam.

Accommodationists have endorsed the rights of the Muslims to create something like Cordoba House, without putting it on what many view as the sacred location of Ground Zero. President Obama backed off from an endorsement offered at a Ramadan ceremony to express his concerns about the wisdom of that location. The archbishop of New York indicated that he had no strong feelings about the project, but that it was his “major prayer” that a compromise could be reached.

He refered to the actions of Pope John Paul II in ordering Catholic nuns to relocate a convent from the location of the Auschwitz death camp in response to protests from Jewish leaders. According to the archbishop, “He’s the one who said, ‘Let’s keep the idea, and maybe move the address’ . . . It worked there; might work here.”

Intrade is a pari-mutual internet site that accepts bets and adjusts the odds about a large number of public events. On the subject of “Construction of ‘Ground Zero mosque’ to commence before midnight ET 30 Jun 2011,” the odds shifted during August from showing a bit over 60 percent positive probability to only 20 percent positive probability.

Sharkansky is professor emeritus of political science at Hebrew University

Please explain where your true sympathies are, Mr. President

August 20, 2010 Leave a comment

By Rabbi Ben Kamin

Rabbi Ben Kamin

SAN DIEGO — Muslims themselves should not take too much solace in President Obama’s recent avowal of support for the Cordoba House and mosque project at the cusp of ground zero.  Spoken in the midst of a Ramadan gathering at the White House, the president‘s jaw driven outward in a now trademark signal of thrust conviction, his eyes staring upward rather than at the audience he is actually addressing,  he nonetheless began to disavow his guttural outburst almost immediately.

I didn’t actually say I was in favor of that mosque, what I meant was even though I do feel Muslim Americans should build a mosque wherever they e pluribus unum, I probably was thinking more generally though I may or may not have had the ground zero mosque, er, community center in my mind.  Or maybe not.

Jews should mark the occasion with a great deal of interest and concern.  We heard from the president’s soul when he was so uncharacteristically “incautious” at the White House.  We heard from his political advisers when he cynically back-pedaled on his revelatory burst so expediently. 

In Holland, for so long wrongfully considered a benevolent place via its exported Anne Frank / anti-fascist mythology, Muslims account now for 10% of the population and the bulk of its harrowing wave of anti-Semitic harassment, hate-mongering, and personal violence.   A lot of extremist Muslims, including those building a nuclear weapon in Iran, will see the ground zero mosque as nothing less than Koranic affirmation of their unhinged war against Judeao-Christian civilization.

We see stark evidence of radical Islamic brutality via the systematic mutilation of women’s faces, breasts, and reproductive organs—not to mention stoning to death.  Blackberry units, You Tube, and rock music are shut down, from northern Africa to Saudi Arabia.  Our efforts to save Afghanistan from its Taliban essence (Mr. Obama’s benighted and/or naïve strategy at the expense of American lives) are doomed, even as we share goals with the country’s thoroughly corrupt and ungrateful presidential-despot.

No, President Obama is not a Muslim, and these charges about his background are ignorant and devilish.  That whole discussion is steeped in bigotry and contempt.  But if he is deeply sympathetic to a highly questionable and hurtful project that insults American sensibilities and memories, that gives the radical Muslims who want us all vaporized or veiled a stunning triumph at the expense of our 9/11 grief, let him just say so.

Who are you, Mr. President?  We want to know more than whom you are not.

Rabbi Kamin is a freelance writer based in San Diego

Poll finds Arabs in support of nuclear Iran

August 16, 2010 Leave a comment

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WJC)–An opinion poll conducted in several Arab countries has found that 57 per cent of respondents believe Iran wants to acquire nuclear weapons and regard this as a positive outcome for the Middle East.

The 2010 Arab Public Opinion Poll was carried by University of Maryland professor Shibley Telhami in conjunction with the polling firm Zogby International. This year’s poll surveyed 4,000 people in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, during the months June and July.

Among the most striking findings is that US President Obama’s popularity in the Arab world has declined sharply over the past 12 months, and only 20 percent of those surveyed approve of him now. Last year, following his Cairo speech, 45 percent of respondents viewed him positively. Professor Telhami said much of the decline in Obama’s ratings was due to disillusionment about the president’s position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, identified by 61 per cent of respondents as the US policy they were most disappointed with.

Asked to name which world leader they admire most, respondents for the first time favored Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, who launched a number of verbal attacks on Israel following the deadly raid of the Gaza-bound ‘Freedom Flotilla’. President Obama’s name did not even show up on this year’s most-admired leaders list.

Only 3 per cent of respondents said they empathized with the Jewish people if they watched programs about the Holocaust, with 88 per cent saying they resented such material, or had mixed feelings.

Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress

The Jews Down Under~News of the Jews of Australia and New Zealand

August 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Garry Fabian

By Garry Fabian

New Zealand Jewish Community goes to court

WELLINGTON, New Zealand, 10 August– The following announcement was released by the  New Zealand Jewish Community:

As we informed the community last week, we filed  legal proceedings against the Minister of
Agriculture, seeking a restoration of the right  to practise shechitain New Zealand.  We are  pleased to report that an interim agreement has
now been reached with the Minister, which will  enable the continued practice of shechita in the  period up to trial (which is likely to take place during 2011).

Court orders were made by consent in the  Wellington High Court this morning, giving legal effect to that agreement. Every effort is being
made to get chicken and local lamb”back on the table”as soon as possible.

The community would like to acknowledge the  tremendous contribution the legal team at Russell McVeagh have made in putting together our
case to achieve this positive outcome in such a short period.

The memorandum was signed by Jewish community leaders Garth Cohen, Michael Stiassny and Geoff Levy.

Church resolution reveals failure of interfaith

MELBOURNE, 13 August -The National Council of  Churches of Australia’s resolution encouraging a  boycott of Israel is absolutely indefensible, and  makes a mockery of both mutual tolerance and  “interfaith” dialogue. It is abundantly clear in  the case of Israel, as in countless instances in Jewish history, an exception has been made of Jews.

If the churches were fair  about their  human rights concerns they would have boycotted  Sudan, Saudi Arabia and so many other Islamic
countries for their real human rights abuses and  treatment and discrimination of non-Muslim minorities.

No mainstream church group has ever openly sided  with Jews, publicly criticising Iran’s President  Amadinajad over his promotion of Holocaust denial and anti Semitic rhetoric or criticising Arab/Muslim anti-Semitism. There are so many other examples of the church’s hypocrisy in singling out the Jewish state as their ‘pet’ cause. Even some Christians who have seen the NCAA statement find it incomprehensible that it
does not mention Palestinian/Hamas discrimination of Christians in Gaza.

Jewish interfaith advocates should start  insisting on some reciprocity and public support for the Jewish narrative in the Israel/
Palestinian, Arab Muslim conflict otherwise they are wasting their time


Contemporary Antisemitism: What We Can Do

Contemporary antisemitism turns Israel into a collective Jew among the nations, demonizing and delegitimizing the Jewish state. Irwin Cotler
defines its expression in the genocidal antisemitism of Ahmadinejad’s Iran; the political antisemitism  that denies Jews the right to national selfdetermination; the racialised antisemitism that defines Zionism as racism; the legalized antisemitism that makes a mockery of the UN Human  Rights procedures, and the “new protocols of the elders of Zion”, which blames Israel for  everything from 9/11 to swine flu.

But, Cotler argues, we can act. We have  opportunities through Holocaust memory and education, through pressuring for the implementation of the  legal procedures of the Genocide Convention,
through reforming the UN, through government  initiatives and through working to reframe the narrative that blames Israel and Jews for all
Middle East conflict and ignores human rights abuses in other parts of the world..

The Hon. Professor Irwin Cotler MP is an eminent  human rights lawyer and Canadian statesman. A former Canadian Attorney-General and sitting  member of the Canadian Parliament, he has been outspoken on issues of human rights in the  former Soviet Union, South Africa and Rwanda.

The ADC was honoured to host him recently as our ADC Gandel Orator. This special report is an edited transcript of his Oration.

Australian Foreign Minister charts positive Israel course

CANBERRA,  13 August – The diplomatic relationship  between Australia and Israel has resumed on its normal course, less than three months after Stephen Smith expelled an Israeli diplomat from Canberra.

And despite a frosty few months, the two  countries – which both share a desire to see Iran’s nuclear weapons program halted immediately
– never ceased to share intelligence on the rogue state.

In a wide-ranging interview during a campaign  stop in Melbourne, Smith spoke about the resumption of that relationship. He made no
pledges about the foreign policy direction a  future Gillard government would take, but spoke in depth about some of the decisions made over the past almost three years.

“I am now very confident that things are now back to business as usual,” he said of the diplomatic ties between Australia and Israel.

“Often when you have a difficult issue that you’ve got to manage, your capacity to manage that and then to move reasonably quickly off it,
reflects the strength of the relationship.

“Yes it was a difficult time and I obviously  thought very carefully about all of the issues and came to the decision that, as I said
publicly, we could not turn a blind eye to what had occurred.

“I’m very confident now that in terms of agency-to-agency relationship,
government-to-government, nation-to-nation, it is business as usual.”

He added that at no time during the diplomatic impasse, did the two countries stop cooperating to quash the rogue Iranian regime.

“One area [of the Australia-Israel relationship] we did not want to see disturbed was the ongoing cooperation and exchange of information on Iran,” he said.

Asked whether he thought the forthcoming direct talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians means that the time for peace is right, Smith showed some trademark diplomacy.

“I think your attitude has got to be that it is always right,” he said. “You always have to try and take the opportunity and often when things
appear to be at their worst is often a time when you can move forward.”

“We’re very supportive of President [Barack] Obama’s efforts, we’re very supportive of  Ambassador [George] Mitchell’s efforts and we
make the point to all of the players in the Middle East that it is absolutely essential that we get long-term enduring peace.

“The issues are complex, complicated and there are strong views respectively on both sides, but we can’t give up because solving these Middle East issues is very important to peace and security, peace and stability throughout the entire world,” he said.

Jewish Music Festival hits Sydney

SYDNEY, 16 August – SHIR Madness, Sydney’s first  large-scale Jewish music festival, brought Bondi Beach to life with more than 40 performers from Australia and around the world, eclectic food stalls, kids activities and an art exhibition centred around Bondi Pavilion on Sunday, August 15.

The festival is the brainchild of Gary Holzman, who has dreamed of staging a music festival for many years.

“I’ve always felt there would be somebody better  equipped to put it on than myself, but as it never eventuated, I finally decided to do
something about it,” says Holzman, who is the festival director.

The festival will feature four stages, with musical styles covering klezmer, choral, Latino, Chassidic, Israeli, jazz, cabaret, folk, blues, pop, rock, funk, reggae and rap.

Among the local performers are Deborah Conway, Monsieur Camem­bert, The Mark Ginsburg Band,  Alana Bruce, Joanna Weinberg, the Emanuel choirs and the Sydney Jewish Choral Society.

Leading the line-up of international performers are Israeli singer Ido Lederman, Alex Jacobowitz from New York and the Jew Brothers Band from New Zealand.

Lederman began his music career as lead singer of Israeli rock band Amstaf, and was bass player for the reggae group Hatikvah 6. He will also perform in Melbourne on August 21.

Holzman says: “It’s just going to be an amazing atmosphere and an absolute smorgasbord – what I would call a ‘mixed salad’ of musical delight.

“People should come to appreciate the amazing variety of musical talent within the Jewish community, both from Sydney and from other places as well.

“With the incredible variety of music on offer, a food court full of tempting delights, market stalls, kids entertainment and an exhibition of
Jewish art, this is going to be a fantastic festival for the whole family to come and enjoy.”

Holzman hopes the festival will be an annual event.

“We certainly want to make sure that it’s not going to be a one-off, but will become a highlight of the Sydney cultural calendar.”

One of the international performers from upstate New York is  Jacobowitz, a master of the marimba who has plied his trade across the world, most notably in Germany. An Orthodox Jew, he focuses
on the traditional klezmer music of his ancestors.

“My music is spiritual, natural, totally  unexpected and riveting,” he says. “It brings European music, African sound and Jewish geist together.”

Jacobowitz says his Jewish identity is an integral part of his music.

“Judaism is my spirit, and my spirit energises and breathes life into my music. Whether I’m playing Bach, flamenco or klezmer, my music is 100 per cent kosher.”

Jacobowitz is thrilled to be in Australia and taking part in Shir Madness.

“To be part of the first Jewish music festival in Sydney makes me proud and humble at the same time, and I hope that the music finds a special echo there.”

For AJN Ghetto Blasterz competition winner Shannon Gaitz, Shir Madness is the highlight of her fledgling music career so far.

“I’m extremely excited, especially to be able to get my name and my songs out there,” says Gaitz, 17, from Bondi, who describes her music as country pop.

“It’s very honest – it’s all based on personal experience and very emotional.”
Gaitz is grabbing the opportunity to perform at Shir Madness with both hands.

“It’s just a huge opportunity of being able to get performance experience, especially with my original songs, and I’m going to be playing with
Philip Foxman, he’s my mentor and that’s also a really big honour.”

Gaitz will also spend a day recording tracks at  the Green Sound Music studios in Sydney’s Castle Cove as part of her prize.Sydney band The Naked Parade has been causing quite a stir with its  infectious brand of alternative pop-rock.

Singer Talya Rabinovitz explains with a laugh: “We’ve been told that we are the love child of Jeff Buckley and No Doubt if they went travelling
though Eastern Europe and South America.”

“We definitely have a Middle Eastern vibe to our music, with the violin, melodies and the drumbeats.”

Rabinovitz is excited to be performing at Shir Madness.

“It just looks like an amazing music festival,” she says. “This will be a different age group for us as well –

I know that a lot of my family like my aunts and uncles are coming and they don’t usually come to our gigs. I’m excited to see their reaction and put on a show.”

Local singer Natan Kuchar has spent the past four years plying his trade in the United States.

Kuchar has performed solo at Carnegie Hall, but the humble performer speaks more enthusiastically about his recent album release at a small Surry Hills venue in Sydney.

“It made me feel like people really dig what I have and were really interested in me,” he says. “It was a really great confidence booster and it
helped propel me to apply for Shir Madness.”

Kuchar describes his music as “a really raw sound, merging pop music and soul music.”

“I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from people like Stevie Wonder and Regina Spektor for their  melodies and for their storytelling within their music,” he says.

“I really love to subtly add melodies from synagogue services or from High Holy Days or just lyrics that are found in certain religious texts
that help to support some other kind of contemporary story that I’m trying to tell in my songs.”

Fabian is Australia bureau chief for San Diego Jewish World

Open letter to Fareed Zakaria concerning the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’

August 14, 2010 3 comments

Isaac Yetiv

Dear Mr Zakaria:

As an assiduous viewer of your Sunday TV show  (CNN/GPS), which I have always enjoyed for your judicious commentaries, the choice of your experts, and your well-prepared and deeply-probing questions, I have earned the right to express my disappointment.

The case in point is your position on the  controversial decision to build a mosque on Ground Zero in New York (your program of Sunday 8 Aug. 2010.)  I believe that your support for building the mosque was a knee-jerk reaction to ADL’s strong opposition to it, and that if you dig deeper, you might revise your opinion.  ( Already, in your interview with Anderson Cooper a few days later, you seemed less sanguine; I even detected some regretful tone) . The following analysis will hopefully help:

First, unless I missed something, you deliberately talk about “a center:” I didn’t hear you say the word “mosque.”  This is, of course, disingenuous and misleading. A “center” without a “mosque” is a less loaded proposition, and would have aroused less resistance and outrage.
Second, you call Imam Raouf a “moderate” or “a Bin Laden nightmare” while conveniently occulting from your discourse his own pronouncements such as ” America was the accessory to the crime of 9/11 ”  or “Bin Laden is made in the U.S.” and that he, Rauf,  would like “a Sharia-compliant America” (where , as you know, an adulteress is stoned and an apostate is HALAL to be killed etc.) He also  could not bring himself to admit that Hamas is a terrorist organization (“I am not a politician,”he said, “and terrorism is a complicated problem.”) There are also rumors I can’t ascertain that he has indirect links with terrorist organizations and that his father was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Besides, even if all that is not true, there is no guarantee that he will not be “used” as Imam for a short time, and then replaced with a more radical Islamist  (the type of Al-Awlaki who was Imam in a mosque in Virginia frequented by two of the 19 hijackers of 9/11) who  will use the mosque as a hotbed for radical  Islamists, a center of recruitment, and as a MADRASA  to inculcate the Wahabi extremist religious ideology that has produced 9/11 and other violent eruptions elsewhere, notably in the Muslim world and with mainly Muslim victims.

Rauf refused to say where the money (100 millions !!) will come from. A foreign country? a sponsor of terrorism? the terrorists themselves? It is clear that those who will finance the project will dictate its content and its programs. Recent events clearly demonstrate that an “investment” of such magnitude can only come  from a few oil-rich theocracies that have produced nine-eleven and other terrorist calamities. Is that scenario not plausible?  Do you want to take that risk?

The fact that Imam Raouf was (or is being ) sent to the Middle-East by the State Department to “explain” to the Muslims that we, Americans, are nice people, and we love them etc…was used by the proponents to prove that he is, as you said, a “moderate.”
This initiative was already tried by the Bush State Department with Karen Hughes, at great cost, and failed lamentably. It only shows once more the naivete and gross ineptitude of the Arabists who dominate the Agency and who still “don’t get it.” Would that the love of the radical Islamists could be acquired with some logical explanation ! Instead, the fear is that Imam Rauf will enjoy a junket at American taxpayer expense which he will use as a fundraiser for his projected mosque from those same oil-rich potentates.
Third, this is absolutely not a case of freedom of religion or first amendment rights, as it was demagogued by the politicians, including ,most recently, the president,after a few weeks of reflection and hesitation . (A better case of violation of the first amendment can be made with what was recently discovered, namely that our taxpayer money has been spent –by Bush and Obama–to build and refurbish mosques in Egypt, Tanzania, and Iraq,  maybe elsewhere too. So much for the separation of church (!) and state .) But not in this case: America is a free country and we cherish all freedoms. There is no “establishment of religion” or preventing “the exercise therof.” There are more than a hundred mosques in New York only, about 3,000 in the US. (How many churches and synagogues in Saudi Arabia? Syria?Jordan?)        
                                                                                                                                                It is a case of what I would call ” zoning for reasons of security, sensitivity to the feelings of the victims of 9/11, common decency,and domestic peace.” The onus of proof is on the proponents of building the  mosque precisely at that point and not a few miles away.
Many experts believe that a 15-story-100 million dollar mosque (at odds with the beautiful tenet of Islam which is modesty) ,towering above other religions’ houses of worship in the heart of New York ,or even elsewhere, and funded by the most extremist ideologues of the Wahabi doctrine of Islam, is a high-security risk. They ,of course, rely on past performance. A former CIA operative and expert on terrorism sees it as “a magnet for militants,” a training ground for future agents of mischief, and a center for proselytizing.
But security is not the only concern for the opponents. Their cry of outrage is fueled by the arrogant insensitivity to the feelings of the families of the victims of 9/11 (including Muslims) and of the majority of Americans (recent poll shows 69 % opposed against 28 % approving.) This project is also fomenting confrontation and threatening domestic peace.
There seems to be an awakening of the masses, as opposed to the lethargy of the leaders, in other places, too. In Temecula, California. in Wisconsin, in Tennessee, we see the same opposition to building mosques, and in Germany, the authorities have just closed a mosque in Hamburg which was frequented by Mohammed Atta and his acolytes.
Many real moderate Muslims spoke out against the project which they see as an unnecessary provocation. One of them, a prominent woman, president of an Islamic organization, Raheel Raza, explained at length on TV why she opposed the project. Another Muslim woman, originally from Iran, Neda Belurchi, published an article in which she lamented the loss of her dear mother as a passenger in one of the planes destroyed  in nine-eleven. She called the proposed mosque “a symbol of victory for militant Islam.”
So why, one might ask, the insistence on building the mosque precisely at ground zero? Why did they reject a compromise solution by the Governor of New York who offered them another area that will not stir the enormous controversy? You, Fareed,  may be more familiar with a  view of Islam, that of South East Asia, which is very different from the Middle-East interpretation and implementation . The latter  is stricter and more fundamentalist and ideologist, especially the Wahabi kind. As you surely know, in the study of conflict resolution, we distinguish between “conflicts of interest,” readily amenable to compromise solutions acceptable to both sides, and “conflicts of ideology” that brook no compromise, especially if the ideology is of the religious kind and involves the “word of God,” or if one side demands the destruction of the other “before it can negotiate” as in the case of Hamas and Hizballah toward Israel.
Those who want to build the mosque at ground zero, and their financiers in the Middle-East, want to make a point: that a mammoth shrine of Islam towering above all other minuscule houses of worship of other faiths, in the heart of New York, in the heart of America,
with the mellifluous stentorian voice of the MUEZZIN resonating far away and calling the flock to prayers five times a day, with Allahu Akbar exclamations full of symbolism, is a vivid proof of  victory of fundamentalist and militant Islam (just as Belurchi said.)
This act of triumphalism is in keeping with medieval war and lore . It was the norm for the victors (not only Muslims) to erect their own house of worship on the ruins of their defeated enemies’ shrines. We can see many examples in Spain , or in Turkey such as the Hagia Sofia mosque in Istanbul which was a Byzantine church in Constantinople, or the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem built on the Jewish Temple Mount.

The 9/11 atrocities were seen by the perpetrators and their sponsors (to be sure, a minority, to be distinguished from real moderate Muslims, and certainly from Islam as a respectable religion no less than the others)

as a “victory.” They danced in the streets to celebrate it. For them, what better way to triumph than enshrine the place with the projected mammoth mosque?
Historically, triumphalism uses symbolism to enhance its effect: the selected title to the project, “The Cordoba initiative,” was intended as a reminder of the “Golden Age” in Muslim Spain where different religions lived in peace and harmony (which is true), but in the 11 th century,the Almohades invasion changed all that with its persecutions of Jews and Christians of whom many fled for their life (the most famous were the scholars Maimonides and Averroes.) It was reported , whether true or false, that the organizers of the project planned to inaugurate the mosque …on September 11 of next year “as an act of commemoration for the souls of the victims,” but many see that,if true, as adding insult to injury. A Muslim lady said on TV: “that is sticking it in your face.”
One may ask: ” If it is so bad, why have the mayor of New York and some elected officials, all Jews, thrown their hats in the arena  on the side of the promoters? The answer is simple: it is political correctness run amok. The Muslim ladies quoted above called them “bleeding-heart liberal elites.”

I dare to go farther: as an avowed foe of political correctness of any kind– I believe it is our collective enemy number one because it obscures the truth, and afflicts us with willful blindness, and the truth, for me, remains the supreme criterion for any judgment– I say with sadness that the Jewish leaders on the Left, in general, suffer from the Jewish disease of what I call “universalitis.” They can’t take their own side in a dispute, the others are always right. They speak in the abstract, on what should be rather than what is.  To parody a popular adage, they don’t see the log in the eye of the others but they see the straw in their eye.

They indulge in self-deluding pieties on liberty, rights, constitution, and they defend those who reject them violently. In the words of Lenin in another context (speaking of the Communists in the West) they are “useful idiots.” To the point that they even brave the 69 % and growing opponents among their constituents. I believe they will not be re-elected.

I also believe the mosque will not be built on ground zero. As for Obama, safely protected by those Jewish politicians, he has an uncanny ability to do things against the majority of the people’s wishes. And he, too, will pay politically.

Conclusion: As documented above, I do not see the controversy as “religious,” akin to the “disputations” in Spain and France during the Inquisition. It is not a matter of theology, on which religion is right. I see it as matter of security even more than sensitivity to the sufferers. Can you, or anyone of the defenders, declare with some degree of certitude, that a mosque of this magnitude in America does not present any danger to our security?  If not, it is irresponsible to let it happen. We should use common sense: “when in doubt, abstain !”  Use caution, be prudent.

Maybe we should prohibit all religions, for the sake of fairness, to limit their houses of worship to no more than  2-3 floors. We should “respect and suspect” everyone,and not endanger the security of all because of political correctness. And if it is difficult to decide, I suggest to use “Le Pari” (the Wager) of Blaise Pascal. He wrote :” Let us wager that God exists. If we are right, we gain eternity; if we are wrong, what did we lose, a few pleasures or sacrifices, nothing.”

Applied here, it will be: ” If we build such a mosque, we expose ourselves to a potential huge danger but if we don’t, we avoid such catastrophe even if  we will annoy some group by limiting their “rights.” For me, the choice is clear.
I hope you reconsider your position, and you will have the courage to proclaim it. Thank you for your attention.
Prof. Isaac Yetiv
La Jolla, CA

Commentary: Inappropriate for U.S. State Department to send Muslim cleric to Arab countries

August 11, 2010 1 comment

By Shoshana Bryen

Shoshana Bryen

WASHINGTON, D.C. –The State Department has confirmed that Feisal Abdul Rauf – who wants to be the imam of a mosque at Ground Zero – is taking a State Department funded trip to the Middle East to foster “greater understanding” about Islam and Muslim communities in the United States.

“He is a distinguished Muslim cleric,” said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley. “I think we are in the process of arranging for him to travel as part of this program, and it is to foster a greater understanding about the region around the world among Muslim-majority communities.” Rauf is reportedly going to Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Qatar.
What a load of hooey.
We know a lot of rabbis, some ministers and a few priests. We would be appalled to have the government of the United States, which by law favors no religion, sending a rabbi to Israel – or the former Soviet Union or France or Argentina, where there are communities of Jews – to talk about how Jews live in the United States. Having a priest travel to the Vatican, Honduras, Ireland or the Philippines to describe the lives of American Catholics would be outrageous. Likewise, ministers to Sweden.
What business is it of the American government to send a Muslim to Muslim-majority countries to talk about Islam? How offensive is it to think that the American government is using American tax dollars to fly a non-government person around the world to promote the activities and lifestyle of a particular religion? Better to send a non-Muslim American government official to talk about American religious freedom, cultural diversity and the virtues of the secular, democratic state. 
To the speculation that Rauf will engage in fund raising for the proposed mosque at Ground Zero, Mr. Crowley said, “That would not be something he could do as part of our program,” he said. 
We’re so relieved. And we’re so sure he will do only as the American government desires.
But Debra Burlingame, a 9/11 family member told The New York Post, “‘We know he has a fund-raising association with Saudi Arabia,’ … noting that the Saudis have contributed money to underwrite programs by the American Society for Muslim Advancement, a not-for-profit that Abdul Rauf runs with his wife and that is one of the sponsors of the Ground Zero mosque. ‘He’s going to the well, and how can they say they do or don’t know what he’s doing?'”
To be entirely clear, JINSA believes Ground Zero is a battlefield cemetery – the site of a battle for the liberal democratic state. We oppose the building of a Muslim sectarian monument there because regardless of what its supporters say, it will be widely understood in the Muslim world as a battlefield monument in the name of Islam. 
Does the State Department really think Rauf (who said in English that the United States bears responsibility for 9-11) will tell the Saudis, Bahrainis and Qataris that he is building a monument to cultural understanding, interfaith relations and peace in New York because America is a good, safe and decent place for Muslims as long as they understand the secular, democratic nature of the United States? And that he doesn’t want their money because Americans will fund the mosque?
And how will the State Department know?

Bryen is senior director of security policy of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.  Her column is sponsored by Waxie Sanitary Supply in memory of Morris Wax, longtime JINSA supporter and national board member.

Report: U.S. to sell 84 F-15s to Saudi Arabia in $30 billion deal

August 9, 2010 Leave a comment

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WJC) — The United States government is set to sell Saudi Arabia 84 Boeing F-15 fighter jets worth US$ 30 billion over a ten-year period, despite Israeli “reservations” to the deal, the ‘Wall Street Journal’ reports.

However, the package would not include on-board targeting systems as advanced as those used in US or Israeli fighter aircraft in part to garner Israeli approval, the newspaper says in its report published on Monday. Otherwise, Israel could exert pressure on Congress to block the agreement.

Though overseas weapon sales are packaged and approved by the Defense Department, Congress can still hold up any deal or demand assurances of its own. It would be one of the biggest single arms deals of its kind. The Obama administration is expected to formally notify Congress of its plans as early as next month.

According to the ‘Wall Street Journal’, it has been a source of behind-the-scenes tensions, with Israeli officials having repeatedly conveyed concerns in private that the US risked undermining its military advantage by equipping regional rivals with new technologies. US officials told the paper they had provided “clarifications” in recent weeks to allay Israel’s fears.

Large-scale weapons deals with Saudi Arabia were spearheaded by President George W. Bush as a way of checking the regional influence of Iran. However, Iran is far from the only security challenge facing Saudi Arabia. Earlier this year, Saudi armed forces sustained heavy losses during extended skirmishes with Yemeni rebels on the southern border.

Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress

Adventures in San Diego Jewish History, November 26, 1954, Part 3

August 8, 2010 Leave a comment

Compiled by San Diego Jewish World staff

Free Jewish Press Makes Better Jewish Community
Southwestern Jewish Press, November 26, 1954, Page 5

(Jewish Communal Leader in Los Angeles)

It is not enough for the Jewish business or community leader to insert an occasional “greeting” in the independent Jewish newspaper. They must, instead, recognize their economic soundness is the only solid foundation upon which a newspaper’s editorial freedom can be built.

Without support from the business community, to augment that of the readership, the free press cannot expand in terms of more service to the community.  More expansion, of course, means more readers who will be informed, integrated and made aware of their Jewish heritage and its values for today.

Such support will provide more direct contact, on a genuine readership level, with a vast and growing audience whose cultural and spiritual heritage is both Jewish and broadly American.

Such support will return extra dividends to both advertisers and the community in the form of alert and loyal readers.

Pioneer Women Plan Bazaar and Carnival
Southwestern Jewish Press, November 26, 1954, Page 5

The annual Bazaar and Carnival of the Pioneer Women Negba Club has been set for January 30, according to Rose Brooker, chairman.  She is assisted by Rose Abrams and Goldie Kitaen in the task of encouraging members to collect and make articles to be sold. Proceeds from the Bazaar will be used for Pioneer projects in Israel.

Pioneer Women have launched a collection of Chanukah gifts for children in Israel, with clothing the most needed item.

An interesting program has been planned for the next regular meeting of the Negba Club on Thursday, Dec. 2, at noon, at Beth Jacob Center.

Harmony Homes Offers ‘College View Estates’
Southwestern Jewish Press, November 26, 1954, Page 5

Harmony Homes is showing one of the finest community of homes ever to be offered in San Diego.  “College View Estates” was planned and designed by Charles and Arthur Schreiber, nationally known architects who are associated with Harmony Homes in this development.

College View Estates will be open to the public for the entire month of December and is reached by driving out Montezuma Road to 55th Street and then turning north.

Israel-Arab Problem At Open Forum Dec. 5th
Southwestern Jewish Press, November 26, 1954, Page 5

The San Diego Open Forum, 1541 Sixth Ave., will present twin speakers on Sunday, Dec. 5, at 8:00 p.m. at the Unitarian Church. This will be the first pro and con discussion held at the forum in many years. The topic, “The Israel-Arab Conflict” is one of the world’s most controversial issues.

Dr. Guy Davis, Professor of Religion at Chapman College, has recently returned from Israel and the Arab states.  Many people in the community have heard him and know of his sympathetic interest in the new state. Taking the Arab side will be Dr. John Boles, a Moslem, who is professor of Economics at Loyola University, formerly with the U.S. Government in Saudi Arabia.

Admission is free to the public after 7:45 p.m.

Birdie Stodel Hold A.D.L. Workshop

Southwestern Jewish Press, November 26, 1954, Page 5

An open board meeting in which all members are invited is set for Dec. 6 at noon by Birdie Stodel B.B. board members. Cake and coffee will be served while members become better acquainted with the function of the board.

An Anti-Defamation League Committee Workshop under the direction of Mrs. Ted Brav will be held on Dec. 2 at 590 N. Vermont, Los Angeles at 10:30 a.m.  As Southern Area Americanism Chairman, Mrs. Brav has announced “Our Concern and Responsibility in Public Education” as the subject for discussion. For further information regarding attendance at the Workshop, call AT 4-3434.

As the Psychologist Sees You
Southwestern Jewish Press, November 26, 1954, Page 6

Irving Stone

By Irving R. Stone

Childhood Fantasies—The late Fanny Brice is remembered for her many roles but that of her later years as Baby Snooks stands out in our memories as being one of her most beloved.  Among the many atnics of Baby Snooks was the telling of fanciful tales about lions jumping in the window or elephants walking about the room.  Her exaggerations, perhaps, were real to her just as to the young child, calling out in the middle of the night, “Mommie, there’s a bogey man in my room,” it may be as real as the atomic bomb is to adults. It is a threat that is not easily banished.

Childhood fantasies often are a source of irritation to adults because they seem to be so far from reality that they are without basis of fact and not even containing an ounce of probability. As a result, they scold, scorn, and shriek at the children because they believe that the youngster is “making it up,” trying to get attention or doing it to get out of some disliked activity such as going to bed.

Fantasy to the child is as real as taxes, germs and the need to make a living. What we know has been the result of our experiences and as we grow in age, so do we grow in experience.  The ability to differentiate between fantasy and fact is possible only when the store of experiences reaches the point where reality outweighs fantasy.

The child sees Captain Jet, Superman, and Space Patrol as being entirely within possibility because they have no other yardstick of measurement. When the younger child plays house and fills the role of father, mother or baby sister, she is using the one means of instruction open to her, the daily experiences in her own home.  How she behaves is merely how she sees the household and its members.

The child who swaggers around in a cowboy suit feels like a real cowboy, and attempts to act like one. Too often we are prone to criticize him because we view his antics through adult eyes, forgetting that the child sees thing on another level of experience. Let him have his moment of childhood for too soon will he have to face reality. As he grows older there will be a gradual shift so that fact will become greater than fantasy.  Only the emotionally immature remain in that childlike state where reality cannot be accepted and fantasy remains dominant.

Israeli Teacher On Exchange Visit Here
Southwestern Jewish Press, November 26, 1954, Page 6

San Diego has an official visitor from Israel in the person of Haim Dagan. For the next month, Mr. Dagan will be the guest of the City Schools on a grant from the Office of Education, to participate in the Teachers Education Program of the Department of State and the U.S. Office of Education.  Mr. Dagan specializes in the field of administration and supervision.

The visitor, who lives in Tel Aviv with his wife and daughter, is a supervisor in the youth bureau in the Ministry of Education and will spend his time in San Diego studying the City Schools and the recreation features in our community.

To give Mr. Dagan an opportunity to meet the Jewish community, plans have been made for him to live with different families during his stay,.

Jewish War Veterans

Southwestern Jewish Press, November 26, 1954, Page 6

It is expected that Hy Weitzman, Dept. of California Commander will shortly confer with JWV leaders  in San Diego concerning the sale of tickets which is a statewide project to retire the Department debt.  Tickets are offered by all Post members.

The next meeting will be at the War Memorial Bldg., Balboa Park, December 1st.

Jewish Center News
Southwestern Jewish Press, November 26, 1954, Page 6

Ballet and Creative Dance Classes—Classes are now being held at the Jewish Community Center for juniors, ages 5 to 10, in ballet and creative dance and arts and crafts. Mrs. Irene Timen, dance teacher, has had many years of teaching, both classical and modern ballet.  She has studied with Mikhail Mordkin, Doris Humphrey, Charles Weidman, Jose Limon and Pavley and Oukrainsky.  Classes are divided according to the age group.  Miss Ethel Mallinger, J.C.C. staff member is in charge of the Arts and Crafts Classes.

Winter Day Camp—Two weeks of guaranteed fun are available to all youngsters participating in the Winter Camp JC program sponsored by the Jewish Community Center beginning Monday, Dec. 20th and continuing for 10 days through Friday, Dec. 31. Parents are urged to register their children ages 5 to 11 before Dec. 15, as registration will be limited.

Among the special events scheduled are roller skating, swimming, hiking and trips to interesting local sites.  Several member of the summer day camp JC staff including Dave Anfanger, Dorothy Hess, Mike Soule will assist in the program. Limited pick-up and delivery service will be provided. The fee for the two weeks is $20.00 to Center members with an additional charge for pick-up and delivery.  For further information, call the Jewish Community Center, AT 1-7744.

Rhythmic Exercise Class—An opportunity for all women to relax is provided on Tuesday morning 10 a.m. and Wednesday evening 8 p.m. in the rhythmic exercise and modern dance classes held under the leadership of Mrs. Eugene Berger at the Jewish Community Center. Baby care is provided for the housewife on Tuesday mornings at a slight additional charge.  All women are ivnited to participate in the stimulating activity.

An Invitation to Good Living (Advertisement)
Southwestern Jewish Press, November 26, 1954, Page 6

The Foreign Club Restaurant Café and Hotel in Tijuana Old Mexico offers your family and friends the best in food—fun—entertainment.  International dishes, Mexican specialties, Italian food. Courteous and rapid service. Nice atmosphere.  Plus the finest in drinks, in our most modern bar. Fifty spacious rooms, modern in every respect. Good music for your pleasure.  Dancing to make your evening a gay one. We solicit your patronage.  We invite banquets, weddings, club meetings and conventions, plus your personal private parties… You will enjoy every minute you spend in Old Mexico.  Our location is … 364 Revolucion Ave. (Next to Capri Restaurant).

Nathan Golden and Simon Silvershotz, Props.
For Reervation Phone in San Diego, the Jewish Press, Belmont 3-8992.  Tijuana phone 1701-1305. 
We wish you one and all a happy Chanukah.

Baja Opens 15-Day Festival of Freedom
Southwestern Jewish Press, November 26, 1954, Page 7

A 15-day fiesta opened in Baja California Saturday with continuous day-to-day entertainment scheduled at Tijuana, Mexicali, Ensenada and Tecate.

The fete was announced at Mexicali today by Gov. Braulio Maldonado, first elected governor of Baja California. The start of the statewide celebration was set for Saturday—Mexico’s Labor Day – as a salute to labor, the governor said.

The fiesta then will continue through Dec. 5 in commemoration of Baja California’s first year as a free Mexican state, and in recognition of Maldonado’s first year in office.

Events schedule3d include a 24-hour telethon, or TV broadcast in which funds to be contributed to the Committee for Social Assistance, which is headed by the Governor’s wife.

Sra. Maldonado reported all funds realized from the telethon and the two-week fiesta will be earmarked for construction of a hospital for victims of tuberculosis.

Events planned at the four cities include parades, carnival attractions, street dancing, fun rides for youngsters, athletic contests including boxing and wrestling matches, and dog and horse races. There will be an international yacht race Dec. 2 from Newport-Balboa, north of the U.S. Mexican border, to Ensenada.

On Dec. 5, bull fights and a Governor’s Ball are planned at Tijuana.

Hollywood movie stars have booked for many personal appearances. Gov. Knight and several other American officials have been invited to participate in one or more of the statewide events, according to Frank Leyva and Herman Prujan, fiesta directors.

Seven Danger Signals

Southwestern Jewish Press, November 26, 1954, Page 7

According to the American Cancer Society, the 7 Danger Signals are (1) Any sore that does not heal; (2) A lump or thickening in the breast or elsewhere; (3) Unusual bleeding or discharge, (4) any change in a wart or a mole; (5) Persistent indigestion or difficulty swallowing; (6) Persistent hoarseness or cough; (7) any change in normal bowel habits.  They may not mean cancer, but they should always mean a trip to your doctor.

(Efficient Transportation)

Southwestern Jewish Press, November 26, 1954, Page 7

When the Chicago subway was being dug a drunk stopped beside the excavation and called down to the man at the bottom of the pit, “Shay, watcha doin’ down there?”

“We’re building a subway,” the workman responded.

“How long is it goin’ to take to build it?”

“Three years,” came the answer.

“Three years! (hic) To heck with it, I’ll take a cab.”

Promotes Good Will
Southwestern Jewish Press, November 26, 1954, Page 7

Popular Frank A. Thornton, Collector of Customs, Port of San Diego, has been in that position for two years. In that time he has made many friends on both sides of the border. As far as the Mexican nationals are concerned, he has sold America and San Diego to them.  The U.S. Government has a brilliant and loyal servant in this thrifty Scotch-Irishman.

“Adventures in San Diego Jewish History” is sponsored by Inland Industries Group LP in memory of long-time San Diego Jewish community leader Marie (Mrs. Gabriel) Berg. Our “Adventures in San Diego Jewish History” series will be a regular feature until we run out of history.  To find stories on specific individuals or organizations, type their names in our search box.  

Commentary: American ‘liberals’ supporting Palestine miss the point

August 7, 2010 Leave a comment

By Ira Sharkansky

Ira Sharkansky

JERUSALEM –Two items came to my mailbox this morning. One is another demand from a well-intentioned innocent in Olympia that I butt out of the issue about the Food Coop’s boycott of Israel. This friend is a political maven who seems to be operating according to the Introduction to Political Science he learned many years ago. He thinks that concession and compromise are the routes to conflict resolution.

Okay as a general tip, but not always applicable.
He would engage the know-nothings of Olympia in a dialog by conceding Palestinian suffering, which he links with Israel rather than with Palestinian behavior. His acceptance of “Arab land” is to sign on to an incredible narrative as historical truth. In that mode, he might think about Indian land (God knows which tribe), and move somewhere else. If, that is, he can find a place that isn’t claimed by someone insisting on their priority.
Another note came from an American student of urban architecture who visited with me as part of a class project about Jerusalem. He sent me the typescript of his interview with me, along with interviews with nine other people he found throughout Jerusalem and asked for their views of the city.
The link between the notes was the portrayal of the Palestinian narrative that appears strongly in the student’s interviews with Arabs, similar to that adopted by boycott advocates in Olympia.
We all know the components of the narrative: Israeli conquest, occupation, discrimination and persecution; police and soldiers who use deadly force against individuals who are innocent of any wrongdoing, and most likely were set up by someone wanting to kill an Arab..
The lessons of Introduction to Political Science do not work in a context where there is a religious infrastructure that produces, justifies, and reinforces the narrative. Truth and reasoned argument cannot compete with belief of this depth. 
One does not have to insist that all Israelis are angels to demand the right of defense against those motivated by  such a narrative. Here the divide between civilized democracy and Islamic extremism is not across the ocean but across the street. 
Conceding debating points might work in Olympia when the issue is where to build a new school or locate a site for solid waste disposal. When it comes to the justice of a conflict affected by a century of history and religious doctrine that is hateful of others, concession of things like Israeli oppression and Arab land is pathetically naive. 
You don’t think that all Muslims are hateful? 
Neither do I. The Muslims I encounter on a daily basis do not raise my hackles or my fears.
But turn to for samples of preachings from the mosques of Gaza and Jerusalem, and the madness from religious leaders of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan.
Their hatred is what moves a substantial incidence of our neighbors. Reasoned argument has its limits. Occasionally it is necessary to use force. That is seldom pretty, and it is likely to upset people who live far away, and express nothing but hatred for hate. For some of those people, reasoned argument has no more chance than with the mad mullahs of the Middle East.
Israel will survive whatever decision comes from the Olympia Food Coop. One can predict that some will scream at one another, and some will pose as politically sophisticated compromisers and negotiators. Whether they win or lose, individuals may gain a feeling of victory, a sense of having contributed to a major event, and betrayal. 
I will let them wonder if the good life of Olympia is worth the effort.

Sharkansky is professor emeritus of political science at Hebrew University