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Global Economics and America

Understanding Shariah Finance and Islamic Banking in American Finance

September 8th 2008

Islamic Topics - Shariah Finance

The Middle East, with its exotic tropical sirocco winds, is also now the haven and leader of a new form of finance that is enticing the world with the alluring scent of its petrodollars. Substantial profits are to be made, and gold plated Bentleys, mansions on the Palm Jumerah Island, and golf courses designed by Tiger Woods only add to the mystique behind the veils. However, more than Dubailand and dreams of riches lurk behind the Islamic ideologues who invented the concept of Islamic Finance, and they are ones who are promoting this form of "interest-free, Muslim friendly, ethical investment" worldwide.

From behind the walls of opulent palaces and banks, there are many people with militant backgrounds who are seeking to promote this new type of religious finance to spread a form of militant Islam throughout western civilization. That militancy, they believe, can be financed by co-opting American financial institutions. Many in this movement wish to replace traditional western capital systems with Islamic economic values.

Islamic Finance was conceived by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in the 1920s. Decades later, it is a viable modality for spreading the Islamist movement of Jihad against the West.

To understand the concepts of Shariah one needs to understand and the doctrines that Shariah compliancy commands. Strict Shariah adherence is the sole criterion of whether a financial institution can be deemed “Islamic.” When HSBC, Citibank, or Deutsche Bank open “Islamic Windows” those are not just another place to deposit money. The banking operation must adhere to constants common to all Islamic banking institutions. Read more ..


Edge on China

China's Yellow Brick Road Rise to Global Superpower

September 1st 2008

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong Williams Headshot
Armstrong Williams

Modern China has always posed a perplexing question for the West. From the Western perspective, China is a closed society, whose greatest symbol is a wall designed to keep invaders out. However, rather than using its isolation to protect and nourish its people, the Chinese government has ruthlessly suppressed political freedom, and all but stamped out cultural expression. Why, one wonders, would China go through such lengths to defend itself, when on the other hand it seems to want to destroy the very thing worth preserving?

The debate about China in the West has been largely speculative and intensely ideological over the last half century. Speculation arose because of the West’s relative ignorance of Chinese civilization, its traditions and aims.  However, because it was aligned with the Soviet Union during the cold war, the West believed that China was an expansionist empire that threatened to thwart democratic progress in Asia. So much so in fact that the United States fought proxy wars in Korea and Vietnam hoping to halt the spread of communism. A closer look at China in the post-cold war years reveals a much different picture: it reveals a country facing inward to develop the brains, heart and courage to make the most of the modern world.

While China’s inexorable economic advance over the past two decades has made it now a force to be reckoned with, doubts about its true strength have remained prevalent. Despite evidence to the contrary, Westerner’s assumed that China’s economy would not really thrive unless it began to adopt Western-style democracy, observe international human rights conventions, and develop the technological proficiency to begin producing specialized, non-commodity goods.All of this has proven to be false. Read more ..


The Lingering Disaster in Burma

Reign of Terror in Burma Requires Genuine U.N. Action - Not Just Official Visits

August 25th 2008

Burma - Burmese Generals
Burma's Generals

On July 27, Nhkum Hkawn Din, a 15 year-old school girl in Kachin State, northern Burma, was brutally gang-raped and then murdered by Burma Army soldiers. Her skull was crushed beyond recognition, her eyes gouged out, her throat cut, she was stabbed in her right rib cage and stomach, and all her facial features were obliterated. Her body was found after a three-day search, naked and mutilated, 200 meters from an army checkpoint near Nam Sai village, Bamaw District. She was on her way to bring rice to her brother.

Against this backdrop, UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari has just completed another visit to Burma last week for more talks with the country’s brutal, illegitimate military regime. But instead of taking the regime to task for human rights violations, he spent two days talking with the regime and its cronies, and just twenty minutes with the leaders of Burma’s democracy movement, the National League for Democracy (NLD). Even though his previous visits have yielded no change in the junta’s behavior, and Burma’s human rights record continues to deteriorate, Gambari rejected calls from activists to drop the diplomatic niceties and photo-calls and set out unambiguously the requirements for change. Read more ..


Election Edge

Brown Skin, White Mask—Obama’s Racial Awakening

August 11th 2008

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong Williams Headshot
Armstrong Williams

Black conservatives are flirting with the idea of supporting Senator Obama’s campaign for president. While the media has assumed it’s because of Obama’s race and curb appeal, everyone seems to be overlooking the deeper issue they might actually have in common—each has undergone a racial reawakening that has put them at odds with the mainstream civil rights establishment.

Although Obama is classically liberal on most issues, he has taken the audacious step of moving beyond traditional racial politics in order to inherit the mantle of an American populist. He has been tried by fire in the national media for his affiliation with racialist political ideologues. In making a firm choice to disavow the politics of victimization – as difficult as it was for him apparently – Obama now joins the august ranks of those public figures who are often ostracized by the American black establishment.

The son of an African immigrant, Obama does not share the legacy of slavery and oppression in this country with most Americans who happen to be black. His forefathers never picked cotton in the brutal South, and his grandmother never had to sit on the back of the bus. He writes of feeling outcast from the circle of black elites he encountered in Ivy League and other elite institutions. Though he shared their skin color, he could not quite share their struggle. In order to fit in, he went the extra mile. He joined a radical black church in Chicago after law school and became, literally, a born-again Negro. By eschewing the usual high-powered law firm job in favor of community organizing, Obama further solidified his street credentials. But ultimately, this was not enough. When asked to take the final, incorrigible step of damning America, he refused to drink the Kool-Aid. Read more ..


The Next Mideast War

The "Battle of Lebanon" Awaits Western and Arab Action Against the Iran-Syria Axis

August 4th 2008

Arab Topics - Assad and Ahmadinejad
Presidents Assad & Ahmadinejad

Lebanon remains a major front in the confrontation pitting the Iranian and Syrian regimes against the US, the West, most of the Arab world, and Israel.

The fact that Lebanon is occupied by a powerful sectarian militia that represents an extended military arm of the Iranian regime, and that additional diverse armed Lebanese and Palestinian militias receive orders directly from the Syrian regime, allows both dictatorships to present a formidable challenge to their Lebanese and international foes. Ahmadinejad and Bashar Assad enjoy the luxury of conducting remote battles away from Iran and Syria. They can indefinitely continue to wage their proxy wars in Lebanon, Iraq, Palestinian territories and other parts of the region, because they do not suffer any direct and deterring consequences for their actions.

While previous experiences proves that the military option is the only effective one, the US and other Western powers still continue to accept futile negotiations and ineffective sanctions as valid courses of actions. They continue to reward the bullishness of Syria and Iran with overtures serving only to increase their defiant arrogance while perceived by the US allies in the region as signs of wavering and abandonment. The latest case of shortsighted diplomacy was triggered by France’s reversal of Assad’s international isolation during Bastille Day celebrations.

The Syrian regime was quick to exploit the opportunity by sending a delegation to Washington DC. Assad believes that if he could stall till November then the upcoming US elections might bring an administration that would allow him more room to maneuver. The members of the visiting Syrian delegation brought the same old blackmailing rhetoric. Their claims, that asymmetrical conflicts will continue as long as the Syrian regime is targeted, are a reminder of the regional racketeering that kept the Ba”athist dictatorship afloat since 1970.

Meanwhile those Lebanese politicians who are opposed to the Syrian and Iranian influences in Lebanon are apprehensive of any moves of rapprochement with Syria and Iran by their Western allies. This, added to the prevalent fears of their barbaric opponents, led some Lebanese politicians to act in defensive manners especially in matters concerning Israel. When the recent Hezbollah prisoner exchange occurred, these politicians lined up to greet a man that many call a barbaric murderer, Samir Kuntar, and other fighters who belonged to the party that continues to terrorize and intimidate them especially after the last invasion of Beirut. Their attempts to appease Hezbollah compelled these politicians to participate in a grand “welcome home” event that was a disgrace to them and to every decent Lebanese family. The internal balance of powers in the country makes it obvious that the battle of Lebanon could not be won from within. Read more ..


Election Edge

Obama’s Gold Medal in Berlin

July 28th 2008

Contributors / Staff - Ken Bobu headshot
Ken Bobu

In 1936 Jesse Owens was the star of the Olympics held in Berlin. Although historians now largely agree that the so-called snub of Jesse actually didn’t take place, the fact remains that the then National Socialist government of Germany under the leadership of Adolf Hitler believed itself to be the Master Race and followed politics and policies to that end. Jesse Owens didn’t fit that mold, and interestingly enough, Berliners – contrary to expectations – gave Owens what he later recalled as having been the "greatest ovations of his career."

Last week, a scant few hundred yards from the Führerbunker where the end of National Socialism was swept up in a tide of Soviet fire, and in a city largely dominated by the subsequent East-West conflict of the Cold War, Barack Obama scored his own gold medal in this, his political Olympics. And again, Berliners demonstrated that which continues to make them particularly cosmopolitan and special among Germans – over 200,000 came to hear Obama speak, and to deliver their own snub to George W. Bush.

Certainly it is no secret that Europeans on the whole have struggled with President Bush. The administration’s penchant for ignoring friends and allies and pursuing policies that express distain for reflection and contemplation are contrary to the policies with which the U.S. helped rebuild Europe after the conflagration of World War II, and this has met with resistance. In that sense, Bush represents to most Europeans, and in particular most Germans, the typical Texas loudmouth braggard, boasting about how everything is bigger and better in Texas, and how they’ll show you how things are done.

It is difficult to imagine a candidate who for all intents and purposes appears to be more opposite George Bush than Barack Obama. Leaving aside the obvious racial and class distinctions, that which has set Senator Obama apart, and that for which he is most appreciated, is his intelligence and ability to reason.

While attending law school, Obama was elected the president of the Harvard Law Review, a prestigeous position and one where Obama honed his skills at managing others’ strong and diverse opinions while steering the publication effectively. Despite his oratory skills never being questioned, he impressed less with what he had to say, than with his willingness to listen to others. Read more ..


Election Edge

Citizen McCain Needs to Cure his Achilles Heel or Stumble in November

July 21st 2008

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong Williams Headshot
Armstrong Williams

Senator McCain's staff shakeup could not have come at a better time. Hopefully it will address what many feel is the Achilles heel of the campaign: the failure to forge a coherent, compelling theme for his candidacy and the equally damaging policy contradictions. If allowed to continue, these repeated missteps will fatally cause his presidential candidacy to stumble.
 
Exhibit A of inconsistency is McCain’s approach to energy and climate change. As the cosponsor of one of the leading climate bills, and as a known supporter of environmental progress, Senator McCain is in an ideal position to nullify the Democratic Party's traditional grip on the environment as a hot electoral issue. While in the past (and especially during times of economic turmoil), the environment has rarely ranked as highly as the economy as an electoral issue, the interrelationship of climate change with energy security and high oil and food prices provides a unique opportunity for Senator McCain to break new Republican ground. But thus far, he has botched the opportunity.  Read more ..


Facts and Myths of Israel

Does Israel Use its Checkpoints to Humiliate Palestinians and Deny them Rights?

July 14th 2008

Islamic Topics - Palestinian Rally
Palestinian rally

Does “Israel uses checkpoints to deny Palestinians their rights and humiliate them?”

It is not unusual for nations to guard their borders and to establish checkpoints to prevent people from illegally entering their countries. The United States has checkpoints at its borders and airports and, as Americans saw on September 11, these are necessary but not foolproof security precautions.

In the case of Israel, the necessity for checkpoints has been created by the Palestinians. By pursuing a violent campaign of terror against Israel’s citizens, they have forced Israel to set up barriers to make it as difficult as possible for terrorists to enter Israel or travel through the territories to carry out acts of violence. The checkpoints are an inconvenience to innocent Palestinians, but they also prevent terror and save lives.

For example, on June 8, 2008, an 18-year-old Palestinian was arrested at the Hawara checkpoint near Nablus after he was discovered carrying six pipe bombs, an ammunition cartridge and bullets, and a bag of gunpowder. “It’s routine to find bombs at this checkpoint…every day, we find knives and other weapons,” said Cpl. Ron Bezalel of the military police. Just three weeks earlier, another Palestinian was arrested at Hawara carrying five pipe bombs, which he had attached and strapped to his chest to act as an explosives belt. Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

When Will Israel and Iran Reach the Point of No Return?

July 7th 2008

World Citizens - Micah Halpern headshot
Micah Halpern

Ever since the Friday June 20th piece in The New York Times describing an Israeli air force training exercise into Iran, analysts and prognosticators have been busy commenting, speculating and, in many cases, downright fantasizing.

The front page piece detailed an exercise involving hundreds of Israeli fighter jets flying over nine hundred miles and refueling mid-air on a practice run into Iran in order to destroy Iran's nuclear capability. Now everyone is busy speculating if and when Israel will invade and attack Iran—for real, not merely as an exercise.

The truth is that Israel might invade Iran, but only when there is no other alternative, only if the international community falls down on its job and allows Iran to achieve independent nuclear capability. That time is not now. And should that time come, Israel will not announce it anywhere, not in the Israeli press, not in the international press, and certainly not on the front page of The New York Times.

The story was not released by Israel, the story was released by the United States. Publicly announcing Israel's ability to target Iran is not in Israel's best interests—it is in the interest of the United States. This story was pitched not by Israel in an attempt to place pressure on Iran, but rather by the United States, a public relations ploy, a way for Washington to apply pressure on Iran. True, Israeli defense and diplomatic channels have neither denied nor confirmed the activity, and they have probably collectively chuckled over the speculative effect this story is having, but it was not their leak.

Washington is telling Teheran that there is a third party and that party is acting independently. Washington is telling other European capitals to look out for Israel, because Israel can do it on its own—and Israel will destroy Iran's nuclear capability on its own if they do not hurry up and act to get Iran under control. Read more ..


The Politics of Energy

Washington's War on Energy

June 30th 2008

Politics - Lincoln Headshot

Most Americans have little faith in the federal government to represent their interests. Who can blame them, when their fears are constantly affirmed by Washington’s shenanigans? According to polls, presidential and congressional approval ratings are hovering around an all time low. Just 17 percent of American voters believe the federal government represents the will of the people.

That this skepticism is well placed is bad news for citizens who are looking to Washington to solve the problem of rising fuel and energy prices. It’s even more dire news for Americans on fixed and limited incomes.

With energy prices already skyrocketing, federal lawmakers wreaked more havoc by trying to pass heavy-handed regulatory legislation known simply as “cap and trade.” The legislation would impose stringent emission limits on energy and manufacturing industries. At the same time, many environmentalists admit that the legislation would have little to no impact on climate change. However, the bill would greatly increase hidden taxes and costs on consumers. The poor and middle class would be hardest hit.

The religious left and even some evangelicals are supportive of the legislation, rallying around a supposed “green” policy at the expense of the economically marginalized. With their support come odd statements like this one from the Rev. Jim Ball of the Evangelical Climate Initiative, “We agree that a cap-and-trade policy will spur innovation and will create new markets.” But even many expert economists who support cap and trade admit that it will have a negative effect on the economy. Read more ..


Election Edge

Terrorist Rights Ruling Rallying Point for McCain

June 23rd 2008

Contributors / Staff - Ronald Kessler
Ronald Kessler

Conservatives seeking a reason to rally behind John McCain for president need look no further than the Supreme Court’s 54 decision to give foreign enemy combatants the same rights as American citizens to challenge their detention.

Writing for the liberal majority, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said, The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times.

By this reasoning, illegal aliens should be given access to the federal civilian courts to contest their expulsion from the country. Nazi soldiers taken prisoner during World War II and held on American soil should have been allowed to argue their cases in federal court. Instead of shooting terrorists on the battlefield, American soldiers should read them their rights and ship them off to American jails.

In fact, under the majority opinion in Boumediene v. Bush, suspected terrorists are given more rights than our own soldiers are afforded when charged with crimes. Their cases are restricted to the military courts.

The court acknowledged it was the first time it had ruled that noncitizens detained by our government in territory over which another country maintains de jure sovereignty have any rights under our Constitution. It said such a constitutional right can be suspended by Congress only in times of rebellion or invasion.

Justice Kennedy noted that we are not currently under invasion or rebellion. But that has nothing to do with a war overseas. When the Constitution was written, no one envisioned that a non-citizen who is captured overseas and held outside the U.S. could claim the right of habeas corpus to challenge his detention.

What the ruling means is that a large segment of the 270 detainees still held at Guantanamo Bay may have to be let go because soldiers in battle cannot possibly be expected to accumulate the sort of evidence that is expected in a civilian arrest.

Read more ..

Election Edge

Obama's Life Story Seems More Republican than Democratic

June 16th 2008

Contributors / Staff - Star Parker right crop
Star Parker

The words we're hearing most during this presidential campaign are "historic" and "change." But what I see is "paradox."

Take our new Democratic Party nominee, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois.

This is a man, to be sure, of extraordinary talent and ambition. But what a gap between the reality he manifests and the reality he talks about.

No one could have predicted, even a year and half ago, that today Obama would stand as leader of his party, running for president of the United States. It's the possibility of this type of surprise -- allowing for the inconceivable and the unpredictable -- that makes freedom so powerful and speaks to the sham and pretense of government and political planning. Who can question that the success and prosperity of this country -- with its vast cast of individuals who have changed the world through creativity and innovation, with our long list of Nobel Prize winners -- is due to freedom?

And yet, Obama's prescription for the many challenges we face today, whether it is health care, education, or global competition, is increased government planning and control. Here is a man who now stands where no "expert" could have predicted, yet wants to tether our nation's future to the mind games of the same kinds of "experts", rather than letting what truly drives America's unique success -- free individuals and free markets -- work. A paradox. Read more ..


The Next Mideast War

Thinking the Unthinkable—Attacking Iran

June 9th 2008

Contributors / Staff - David Horovitz
David Horovitz

In the baking heat outside the Washington, DC Convention Center on Tuesday afternoon, a single, bearded protester stood on the pavement holding a single, homemade placard proclaiming that a president Barack Obama would be "bad for Israel, bad for America."

Inside the center's vast main hall the next day, some 7,000 participants in the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) gave the would-be president himself every reason to believe that they did not share this bleak assessment.

A year ago, at this same event, when Barak Obama was only one of half a dozen presidential candidates who held receptions late one night designed to persuade these leading American Jewish activists of their pro-Israel credentials, several of AIPAC's leading lights demonstrably attended Obama's gathering and stood applauding warmly when he addressed an overcrowded room; some of them had even had their names printed as Obama supporters on his reception invitations.

Since then, of course, Obama the largely unfamiliar force for change has also become Obama the Jeremiah Wright congregant, Obama the candidate with the problematic Middle East advisers and Obama the innocent abroad who hopes to talk President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad out of pursuing the nuclear bomb.

But on Wednesday before the AIPAC full house, the senator from Illinois plainly set out to silence the critics and assuage the doubters. In what had coincidentally turned out to be his first major address since effectively securing the Democratic presidential nomination, Obama presented himself as a lifelong friend of Israel who would preserve the "unbreakable" bond between the US and the Jewish state. He was the candidate whose great-uncle had liberated the Ohrdruf concentration camp, who had been seared by his visit to Yad Vashem and who, to insure that the words "never again" kept their meaning, would "never compromise when it comes to Israel's security." Read more ..


Election Edge

McCain’s Pastor Problem--Hagee Now a Factor

June 2nd 2008

Contributors / Staff - Star Parker right crop
Star Parker

John McCain wants Americans to elect him to provide tough leadership in a dangerous world. But when mud slung from a few left-wing websites is all it takes to drive him under a rock, some must certainly wonder.

Columnist Robert Novak wrote this week: “While the McCain campaign feels it has secured the party’s conservative base, we feel that is not the case. The McCain problem here is that he does not recognize he has a problem.”

If any doubt that McCain has a problem, just look at the Intrade.com contracts. These are futures contracts in which private investors can purchase “bets” on political contests.

The value of a contract at any point in time reflects the market’s probability assessment of the outcome of that contest. A contract trading 70 cents on the dollar on Candidate A means that the market is giving Candidate A a 70 percent chance of winning.

Because the volume of trading is large and individuals are putting up their own cash, these contracts are proving to be more accurate predictors than the polls. They successfully predicted the outcome of every Senate race in 2006, and called 49 out of 50 states correctly in the 2004 Presidential election. Read more ..


Hate on Campus

A California Campus Event Intended to Encourage Violence and Spread Hate

May 26th 2008

 - Brad Sherman
Rep. Brad Sherman

In mid-May, I wrote a letter to Chancellor Michael Drake expressing my concern with the University of California at Irvine’s (UCI) Muslim Student Union’s campus event entitled "Never Again? The Palestinian Holocaust," which was held on the campus from May 7th to May 15th. This event appears to have intended to encourage violence against the State of Israel and propagate the spread of anti-Semitism.

The title of the event itself is particularly inflammatory. Comparing current Israeli policies to the Holocaust, the systematic murder of the Jewish people of Europe, is clearly anti-Semitic. It wholly demeans the Jewish victims of the Holocaust and vilifies the Jewish citizens of Israel. The United States Department of State has officially declared that such a comparison is a prototypical example of anti-Semitism. In a recent report to Congress, the State Department adopted the following definition of anti-Semitism:

"Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities. Such manifestations of anti-Semitism could also target the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity . . . . Contemporary examples of anti-Semitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to: Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis." [emphasis supplied] (Contemporary Global Anti-Semitism Report, Released by the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, U.S. Department of State, March 2008).

The titles of some of the lectures at the event -- "Death to Apartheid: A Farewell to Zionism" and "Silence is Consent: Stop the Palestinian Holocaust" -- are also disturbing. And, the guests invited to give these lectures have a record of making anti-Semitic statements. As is observable on YouTube, one of the lecturers, Amir Abdel Malik Ali, stated in a speech at UCI in May 2006, "The truth of the matter is: [Israel’s] days are numbered. We will fight you until we are either martyred or until we are victorious." It should be of concern that a speech given at UCI calls for "martyrdom" – the euphemism for suicide bombing. Read more ..


Edge on Disaster

The Time to Invade Burma is Now—and Time is Running Out

May 19th 2008

Unknown - Burma Cyclone
Burma cyclone corpses

ALSO SEE: Burma Generals

Every day, the death toll in Burma rises, following Cyclone Nargis over two weeks ago. Every day, the calls for international action grow. Every day, the diplomats and politicians talk. Every day, the efforts to negotiate with the regime yield little result. And every day, the regime tightens the noose around its people.

Even today, although there are reportedly small signs of improvement, aid is still restricted. Aid workers are obstructed. British Foreign Office minister Lord Malloch Brown, visiting Rangoon, claims the aid operation is “starting to move,” but admits that only 25% of the cyclone victims have received assistance. The regime now claims 78,000 dead, but the real figure is much, much higher. Several days ago the International Committee of the Red Cross put the death toll at almost 130,000 – and that figure has certainly increased further by now. The UN has said as many as 2.5 million people are in urgent need of help, and has called for an air or sea corridor to be opened to channel aid to Burma. Lord Malloch Brown has called the crisis “a huge human catastrophe.”

Even if more aid reaches the country, the suffering will continue unless international aid workers are allowed in to monitor the distribution, assess the situation and provide much-needed expertise. Yet Burma’s military regime continues to refuse access. Last week the military put up roadblocks to prevent foreigners from entering the affected areas, saying the situation is under control.

An under-reported but important dimension to this, is that a large proportion of the population in the affected Irrawaddy Delta region come from the Karen ethnic group. The Karen ethnic group has been the target of the military regime’s policies of ethnic cleansing bordering on genocide for decades. The regime is hostile not only to all forms of opposition, but to non-Burmans and non-Buddhists. The fact that the Karen are a different ethnicity, and that many of them are Christians, may well have featured in the regime’s decision to put a stranglehold on aid efforts. Read more ..


Edge on Burma

Cyclone’s Winds May Change Burma’s Political Landscape as Well

May 12th 2008

 - Lord DAvid Alton
Lord David Alton

Throughout the 18 years since Aung San Suu Kyi has been under house arrest, the Burmese military regime have repeatedly promised and failed to deliver democratic change. These are the same secretive leaders who gave orders for Buddhist monks to be mown down in the streets and who are now impeding rescue efforts as hundreds of thousands of their countrymen die following the decimation of their homes and land by Cyclone Nargis. They are the same men who have ignored 28 United Nations General assembly and Human Rights Commission resolutions.

What is sometimes less well known and reported on is the way in which they have accelerated their cruel campaign of attrition against the country's ethnic minorities. In the case of the brave Karen people it is nothing short of genocide.

Take, for instance, the story of a nine-year-old Karen girl who was shot at point blank range, having watched her father and grandmother being killed. There are also shocking reports of beheadings and mutilations of Karen villagers - 18,000 of whom have been displaced in the past few weeks. Some will doubtless join the 120,000 who have lived for years in make shift camps along the Thai border - which, as I have seen for myself - barely allow people to do more than cling on to life. Read more ..


Election Edge

Democrats Still have a Race Problem

May 5th 2008

World Leaders - Clinton-Obama

Oh, what a tangled web the Democrats have woven these past few months. I almost feel sorry for them. The latest Reverend Wright diatribe has the Obama campaign scrambling to contain the fallout from such a radioactive figure who has publicly endorsed both Obama and the Reverend Louis Farrakhan in their escapades. That's quite a duo, and I, for one, know Obama doesn't want that spread around too much.
 
Gone for now are the nostalgic references to Kennedy; the days-gone-by comparisons to MLK. In their place are questions about Obama's judgment and his choices of the company he keeps; more importantly, those he chooses to put on his campaign advisory panels. If ever there was a seminal moment for this campaign, it is now. If Senator Obama doesn't shut up those bombastic, moronic voices, his campaign will be forced to shut down. Yet it appears the spin cycle on the Obama Campaign washing machine is broken for now. New polling out this week shows the Wright spectacle has cost this most famous churchgoer seven points in the national polls – down to 47% favorability from a 54% high just 8 weeks ago.
  
But all this talk lately of Wright is a mere symptom of the larger problem with the Democratic Party I've written about before– their failure to deal with the massive undercurrent of identity politics. After all, they created this cottage industry, but they clearly don't know how to manage it. Read more ..


The Struggle for Holocaust Justice

HR1746 and Beyond---Addressing Holocaust-Era Insurance Inequities

April 28th 2008

Headshots Leaders - Barnie Frank headshot
Rep. Barney Frank

Congress is now debating the Holocaust Insurance Accountability Act (HR1746). This Act aims at overcoming the many deficiencies that has thwarted the process of repaying Holocaust victims or their heirs for the numerous insurance policies stolen by the Nazis and their collaborators. The International Commission of Holocaust Era Insurance Claims (ICHEIC) had been formed to do that in a speedy fashion. While ICHEIC was a good idea, its results were significantly undercut by ineffective management. In the end only about three percent of the value of the unpaid life policies were returned, no non-life policies were paid, and the process took nine years instead of the two or so originally anticipated. In current prices, conservatively more than $17 billion remains unpaid.

In addition, a major ICHEIC failure was its handling of unpaid policies. ICHEIC early on recognized that no matter what steps are taken to find claimants, many policies will remain unpaid. This is because whole families were wiped out by the horrific events of the Holocaust, leaving only distant relatives with little knowledge of the policyholders, especially when dealing with events that occurred more than a half century ago. It was also understood that many records no longer exist. An example is the extensive search for life insurance records in Germany. Only about a quarter of the policies outstanding in the late 1930s were found.  Read more ..


Inside the Middle East

Syria Becoming Isolated in Arab World While Drawing Closer to Iran

April 21st 2008

Howard Kohr headshot
Howard Kohr

Syria has become such a pariah that even the Arab world is giving it the cold shoulder.
 
At the recent Arab League summit in Damascus, the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan embarrassed Syrian President Bashar Assad by sending low-level officials to the meeting. Lebanon boycotted the summit altogether, accusing Damascus of interference in its stalled presidential election. The U.N. Secretary General is normally invited as a guest of honor, but he did not attend this year, either.

Syria’s isolation in the Arab world was not lost on Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi. “We meet in Syria, which is an Arab country,” he said. “But the relations Syria has with Russia, Iran or Turkey are a thousand times better than its relations with its Arab neighbors.”

Indeed, Syria has been allied with the Iranian regime for almost three decades, cooperating with the Islamic Republic in supporting Hizballah, Hamas and other terrorist groups. Furthermore, Qaddafi could have added North Korea to the list: As has recently been exposed, the two rogue regimes are cooperating not only on the development of surface-to-surface missiles, but also on a nuclear program. Read more ..


The Angry Olympics

Wrong Then on the Hitler Olympics; Wrong Now on the Beijing Olympics

April 14th 2008

Rep Dana Rohrbacher
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher

In 1936, the world made the mistake of providing Hitler with a global platform to showcase his fascist propaganda by participating in the Olympics hosted by Nazi Germany. It was wrong to support the Olympic venue then and it’s wrong for the United States to support this prestigious event being held in a similarly fascist regime in 2008.

Since the days of the ancient Greek Olympics, the games have represented the noblest elements of humanity. That cannot be said of the murderous Communist Chinese regime in Beijing. The Olympic torch is supposed to be a beacon of light shining upon mankind’s higher aspirations in the world and it is a travesty to have that torch hosted by a regime that is the world’s worst human rights abuser.

China pledged to improve its human rights record and promote political progress during their 2000 lobbying efforts to host the Olympics. However, according to Amnesty International, China is responsible for over 80 percent of all executions documented in the world and continually holds thousands of political prisoners without charge or trial because political opposition is strictly prohibited. The government also continues to enforce the “One Child” policy per family, oftentimes leading to forced abortions and sterilizations.

The Communist Chinese regime regularly denies the right to freedom of conscience, expression, religion and association and engages in the horrific practice of human organ harvesting without consent on live prisoners, especially Falun Gong practitioners and Christians. The recent violent crackdown on the peaceful protests in illegally occupied Tibet and the ethnic cleansing of the Uygar Moslems in East Turkistan are just a few examples of the unacceptably heavy-handed tyranny inflicted by the Chinese regime. Read more ..


Inside the War in Iraq

The Next Stage Now that the Surge Has Weakened Terrorism and Militias in Iraq

April 7th 2008

Waliid Phares headshot
Walid Phares

President Bush’s March 27th assessment of the state of the war in Iraq raised important strategic assertions that warrant greater attention from the public, and the defense and national security sectors. The principles announced by the President with regard to the measurement of success and the risks of failure on the Iraqi battlefield constitute a series of components of what I would coin as the next stage in the confrontation against the forces of terror in the region.

The 2007-2008 military surge executed in significant parts of Iraq has indeed denied terrorist entities like al-Qaeda in Iraq and the Mahdi army the capacity to achieve their objectives. The surge has weakened the ability of al-Qaeda to reach what they perceive as a potential “Emirate” in the Sunni triangle. Moreover, not being capable of reconstituting a Fallujah-like enclave anywhere is a defeat for al-Qaeda in Iraq, regardless of their ability to strike urban areas and to assassinate prominent leaders.

Similarly, the recent successes in the fight against pro-Iranian militias, such as the Mahdi Army or other Pasdaran-trained forces, are a relative (albeit temporary) victory over the Islamic Republic and its efforts to expand direct control over Shia Iraq. Iranian political and intelligence influence is certainly present in the institutions and public life in the country. But the specific Iranian goal of creating non-states enclaves in addition to political influence has failed so far. Read more ..


Election Edge

Barack Obama—Is it a Message of Hope for the Future or a Plea to Forget his Past OK

March 31st 2008

Barack Obama headshot
Barack Obama

BRAVO, Senator Obama. You gave a speech of inspiration which this country greatly needed. However, it’s a matter of too little--too late, and smacks of self-serving damage control.

Why not give this speech when you announced your presidential candidacy? How truly inspiring it would have been then: a message of solidarity and unification that would have been a catalyst for all races to set aside their differences, work together, and fight together to raise our country to its feet once again. It would have been a message of hope that potentially all of America could have believed in.

Now it simply resounds as a plea for the American public to forget that for 20 years you have supported a man whose hate for the United States of America and many of its residents is apparent. Read more ..


The Barack Obama-Pastor Wright Controversy

Barack Obama Wants to be a Healer

March 24th 2008

Ken Bobu headshot
Ken Bobu

Presidential candidate Senator Obama is in a pickle. His years of affiliation with his pastor have put him center stage in a controversy arising from the pastor’s unbridled and passionate rants which run contrary to public opinion (and common sense for that matter), and that same pastor’s complex relationship with an even more controversial Black Muslim, Mr. Farrakhan.

Granted, Senator Obama’s recent speech on the controversy has clarified many of his points of view on this subject, but his detractors remain dissatisfied with his retaining a relationship of any kind with his now former pastor. Their argument is a wonderfully crafted triple straw man argument that asserts that because he didn't distance himself personally from the pastor, who in turn peddles hatred and seeks commonality with Farrakhan; Ergo Obama is an anti-US black separatist Farrakhan-loving-black-Muslim.

It isn't so, and intellectuals know it. Everyone who heard the entire speech knows it.

There are some who suggest that until now, Senator Obama had successfully managed to keep his race out of the contest for the White House. But now having said that he could no longer disown his pastor than he could his black community, he had himself now identified himself as the “black” candidate. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy if ever there were one: First you attack the candidate because of the self-proclaimed and vocal “blackness” of his friends, then when the candidate distances himself from their remarks but not from his friends, you by proxy force him to defend his color, thus making him the black candidate. Read more ..


The Struggle to Recover Holocaust-Era Insurance

Congress should pass HR 1476 to restore Holocaust survivor insurance rights and reject shocking interference by ADL and other Jewish organizations

March 12th 2008

Tom Lantos headshot
Rep. Tom Lantos (deceased)

I testified on February 7 before the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee on the subject of my parents insurance policies. I did so with very mixed feelings. On the one hand, I appreciated the opportunity to address this committee to urge the immediate passage of HR 1746, the Holocaust Insurance Accountability Act of 2007, and I was and remain extremely grateful to Chairman Barney Frank for holding the hearings and giving this very important issue the public airing it so desperately needs.

On the other hand, I was very distressed and even angered that 10 years after this committee first held a hearing in 1998 under Jim Leach on Holocaust survivors’ insurance claims, and 7 years after I first testified in Congress in 2001, the insurance industry has managed to escape having to fully account for its handling of our family policies, and has retained so many billions that we survivors should have received decades ago. Today, in 2008, there is no more time for talk. If Congress wants to do the right thing, passage of this measure is imperative with no more delays.  

This legislation would restore the basic rights of survivors. It isn’t asking for very much, really. Is it too much for Holocaust survivors to have the right of access to American courts to sue insurance companies who cheated our families out of our insurance proceeds? Is it too much for Holocaust survivors to make decisions for themselves about their property rights?  Is it too much to require insurance companies who want to do business in the United States to disgorge information about its customers and give a complete accounting of its conduct during and after the Holocaust? I don’t think it is asking for too much to have the same rights as any other American citizen to hold insurers accountable. The survivors I represent and those I am in contact with every day are confused and frustrated that Congress would stand by and allow the status quo to prevail. Read more ..


The New France

Bravo, President Sarkozy

March 12th 2008

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Nicolas Sarkozy

It is early days but initial signals from the Elysee Palace suggest that President Nicolas Sarkozy is genuinely committed to opening a new chapter in Franco-Jewish relations.

Since 1967, French Middle East policy has been consistently hostile and displayed cynical disregard for Israel's security needs.

In the course of a keynote speech delivered at the annual banquet of the French Jewish umbrella organization CRIF, Sarkozy outlined his views on a wide variety of issues related to the Jewish people and Israel. This was the first time that a president of the Fifth Republic had ever accepted such an invitation.

Sarkozy's remarks resonate well. Besides warm expressions of friendship and admiration for the Jewish people and Israel, he vowed to do his utmost to promote a Middle East peace settlement adding the caveat that "France will never compromise Israel's security." He also predicted a marked improvement in relations between Israel and Europe as a whole when France assumes the EU Presidency in July 2008. Sarkozy reiterated his pledge to combat anti-Semitism and undertook never to meet or shake hands with representatives of any country that refused to recognize Israel.

But what stunned the audience was his unexpected bombshell about Holocaust education, which, due to frenzied opposition was subsequently slightly modified.

Read more ..

The Struggle for Africa

Rep. Donald Payne's Misguided Africa Policy Ignores Eritrean Terror Ties While Undermining Somalia and Ethiopia--Why?

March 3rd 2008

Rep. Donald Payne
Rep. Donald Payne

The current violence in Kenya and Chad brings renewed focus upon the serious challenges in Africa, and underscores how important it is that America act wisely and send consistent and appropriate messages. During a recent trip to Eritrea—just as Kenya was beginning to erupt—Rep. Donald Payne did neither.

With the United States fighting a global war on terror, the notion that a Member of Congress would sit silently beside a terror-sponsoring dictator as he criticizes America is appalling. Yet that is reportedly what happened during Rep. Payne’s January visit to Eritrea, a country without press or religious freedom that openly supports al-Qaeda linked jihadists.

It is bad enough for any U.S. official to behave this way—but far worse when you consider that Payne chairs the House Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, an influential leadership post that has an impact on U.S.-Africa relations. Read more ..


Election Edge

Obama, Clinton, McCain--Picking the "Best for Israel" is a fool's game

February 20th 2008

Gary Rosenblatt
Gary Rosenblatt

What am I to say when people ask me, as they frequently do these days, which presidential candidate is best for Israel?

When I sometimes ask, in response, what they mean by “best for Israel,” they may think I’m being facetious or evasive, but I’m not.
So I start with recent history before examining the current Democratic and Republican candidates.

Was Bill Clinton best for Israel when he spent so much time and energy trying to knock heads at Camp David in 2000 and bring about a peace agreement between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority President Yasir Arafat?

Or was Clinton’s successor, George W. Bush, best for Israel with his hands-off approach to forced peace negotiations (at least until Annapolis, late in his second term) and his look-the-other-way attitude toward Israel’s forceful response to the second Intifada, allowing Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to send the army into Palestinian cities to root out the terrorists whose bombings were destroying Israeli lives and morale?

Two very different men, Clinton and Bush, and two very different approaches to the Mideast conflict. But they ended up in the very same place, pushing the Israelis and Palestinians for an unrealistic peace process. And you could make a case for either that what they did, with the best of intentions, ended up leaving Israel more vulnerable.
It seems clear to me that Clinton not only appreciated, admired and supported Israel — and leaders like Barak and the late Yitzchak Rabin — but that he genuinely wanted to bring Israel a new level of security and an end to violence. Read more ..


Election Edge

Scapegoating Mexicans--A Familiar and Dangerous Political Tactic

February 4th 2008

Liz Black headshot
Elizabeth Black

About the so-called immigration debate, I’m pretty sick of it—the presidential candidates trying to outdo each other by being tough on illegal immigrants. The problem is, every time one of them makes a fiery, impassioned promise to rid our nation of those illegal aliens, they get thunderous applause, which further fans the flames of demagoguery. And a candidate who refuses to engage in inflammatory language is reviled for it.

Furthermore, somehow I got on the email-forwarding bandwagon of immigration bellyaching, which as far as I can tell is thinly disguised hatred of Mexicans. I am really disheartened by these email campaigns and even more so by TV and radio hosts spewing such stuff: They are taking American jobs, they are ruining our economy, they refuse to speak English, they’re causing a crime wave—the accusations go on and on. Face it.

The inflammatory language is aimed primarily at border crossers along our southern edges, with little worry expressed about mafia toughs or sex slaves smuggled in from Eastern Europe, or human cargo stuffed in shipping containers from Asia to be sold as slaves, or fanatics who come in from Saudi Arabia to preach death to America or organize radical student organizations on American campuses. The send-em-back rhetoric is mostly aimed at Mexicans.

I want to preface the next few paragraphs with the statement—and please pay attention—that I have never heard even one illegal immigrant use the following as a justification for illegally crossing the border. I can only conclude that Mexicans don’t know history any better than we do. What is presently Texas, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, Nevada and California was once Mexico. We took it away from them by force in something called the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), which was settled by the coercive Treaty of Hidalgo ceding 55 percent of Mexico’s territory to the U.S. It started over Texas. American settlers who had moved into the territory revolted against Mexico in 1835, declaring themselves to be an independent state. (Remember the Alamo?) Read more ..


The Bad Arolsen Conflict

USHMM Bad Arolsen program does not go far enough

January 28th 2008

Washington Jewish Week logo

For more than five decades, the International Committee for the Red Cross maintained millions of Holocaust records—detailed information that would allow people to find out what happened to family members during that dark period of history. In some cases, it would help them verify memories of their own horrific stories. But, those records were in Bad Arolsen, Germany, inaccessible to both historians and individuals. The backlog plaguing the Red Cross' International Tracing Service was unbearable for those seeking information.

 

Finally, documents 68 million digital images of invaluable material, with nearly another 40 million images expected have been released to the 11 nations that run the ITC, with each nation entitled to a single repository. In the United States, that repository is the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.  The museum recently announced that it has dedicated 20 on-site computer terminals to the tracing service, and has trained 25 researchers to do searches. It is a remarkable and welcome step, but does go not far enough.

Read more ..

Inside the Media

"I implore you"… Israel wants "to be raped"

December 27th 2007

Isi Leibler headshot
Isi Leibler

In the course of a visit to Israel by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, approximately 20 heads of the most senior Israeli think tanks and media leaders were invited by the American Ambassador to Israel, Richard Jones, to a dinner at his private residence to receive a confidential briefing from the Secretary of State. The event took place on September 10.

A bizarre exchange took place at this gathering between one of the participants and the Secretary of State. It was initially broadcast on Israel TV Channel 2 by Ehud Yaari, one of Israel's most highly respected commentators, who had not attended the dinner but had verified the details with colleagues who were present. The public did not appreciate the seriousness of the incident because Yaari failed to disclose that the person involved was none other than Haaretz editor David Landau.

I have independently verified details of what transpired and in response to questioning by Yaari and in an interview with Gary Rosenblatt, the editor of the New York Jewish Week, Landau himself confirmed the veracity of the events.  Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

Iran Threat only Reinforced

December 19th 2007

Howard Kohr headshot
Howard Kohr

Despite some headlines to the contrary, the new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran only reinforces our understanding of the danger posed by Tehran’s ongoing pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability.

The NIE’s dramatic revelation that the Islamic Republic had a clandestine nuclear weapons program is perhaps the clearest official confirmation to date that Iran’s nuclear efforts—which the regime illegally concealed for more than 18 years—are ultimately intended to produce an atomic bomb.

If Iran is trying to suggest otherwise, the regime’s actions are unconvincing. Iranian leaders boast, and the NIE confirms, that Tehran is pressing ahead with its efforts to enrich uranium—the most important and difficult step in developing a nuclear weapon. Thus, Iran could restart its weapons program any time the regime chooses to do so. Read more ..


Venezuelan Regime Anti-Jewish

Raid Another Manifestation of Anti-Jewish Sentiment in Venezuela

December 11th 2007

Abraham Foxman Color cropped

Last week’s police raid at Club Hebraica, a Jewish community center in Caracas, was another manifestation of a government-sanctioned campaign of intimidation against the Venezuelan Jewish community. The raid occurred only hours before Venezuelans voted on constitutional changes proposed by President Hugo Chavez. During the raid, members of a police unit that investigates drug trafficking and terrorism reportedly broke the main gate of the center and searched the premises. Needless to say, no arrests were made and they left empty handed.

This is the second time that Club Hebraica was raided since Chavez came to power. In November 2004, a police incursion occurred in the early morning as children were being bused to school. In the three years since, no clear government response has been given as to why Jews were targeted. It seems far-fetched to think one will be offered to explain this latest incident.

It is especially dangerous when law enforcement commits these kinds of unfounded acts, as some may interpret them as justification to commit violence against Jews. When a community is singled out and bullied in this way, the danger exists for xenophobes to seize on the government’s actions to spread their hate. Read more ..


Mortgage Crisis

An Overnight Fix to the Housing and Mortgage Crisis--Bring Back Assumable Mortgages

September 24th 2007

Edwin Black

No one needs to be reminded that a significant segment of our population has become geographically and financially immobilized by an infectious condition known generally as “the housing and mortgage crisis.” Make no mistake. The crisis involves not just the so-called “sub-prime” business, but ordinary creditworthy consumers battered by financial misconduct and over-speculation by developers.

People can’t move on because far fewer people can move in or move out. Too many houses exist for too few buyers. Prices have tumbled. Inventories of unsold parcels have skyrocketed. The whole concept of property as “a sure bet” in America has been threatened. For each person who cannot sell a house, buy a house or suffers a foreclosure, the pain and hurt is multiplied like a slow-moving epidemic throughout the domino-structured housing market. Our national housing crisis in turn is flattening or eliminating hundreds of thousands of jobs and economic vitality.

Now to the overnight fix: Bring back “the assumable mortgage.” The financial world abolished this age-old method of home buying and selling during the financially turbulent seventies and eighties when President Jimmy Carter’s double-digit inflationary society inspired the rapacious mortgage lending industry to pressure the last one to five percent assumable loans out of existence and contractually prevent any new ones. Read more ..


Discriminatory Insurance

Stop Life Insurance Discrimination Against Travelers

September 23rd 2007

Abraham Foxman Color cropped
Abraham H. Foxman

The U.S. House of Representatives finally has passed a bill to protect consumers from unfair life insurance discrimination on the basis of past or future foreign travel. This is a much needed and welcome development. For far too long, insurance companies have routinely denied coverage to individuals because of their travel plans.

This unfair practice has adversely impacted everyone from tourists to corporate executives to students studying abroad. Insurance companies typically ask questions on life insurance applications about past or future travel destinations. Those travelers listing countries appearing on the U.S. State Department’s advisory list – including Israel - have too often found themselves rejected for coverage.

We understand that the insurance industry relies on risk assessment to determine whether to provide coverage, but denials should only occur when bona fide statistical differences in risk or exposure have been substantiated. Read more ..


Gonzales Resignation

Resignation First, A Special Prosecutor Second

August 28th 2007

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Rep. Jerrold Nadler

I was pleased to learn that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has finally decided to resign. The person entrusted with enforcing our nation’s laws must also abide by them – a duty that Mr. Gonzales apparently failed to live up to. In his many appearances before both chambers of Congress, the Attorney General did little more than display his complete disrespect for both the rule of law and the oversight responsibilities of Congress. For these reasons, I have long demanded his resignation.  The administration has a choice: this can be a fresh start for the nation or it can be a ploy to continue the stonewalling of the truth. 

While we must move beyond the scandal plagued tenure of Alberto Gonzales, many questions still remain. The problems with this Administration’s actions go far beyond Mr. Gonzales and rest firmly with President Bush. A Special Prosecutor is still needed to investigate the Attorney General’s false statements to Congress and to investigate the apparent criminal violations of law by Attorney General Gonzales and others, including President Bush, by initiating the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping program. I hope, and urge, that the President now nominate an Attorney General who has fundamental respect for the rule of law and the oversight responsibilities of Congress so that both our civil liberties and personal safety are protected.
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Rep. Jerrold Nadler represents New York’s 8th Congressional District, which includes parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn, and is the Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.


Armenian Genocide Conflict

Armenian Genocide is a Historical Imperative

August 27th 2007

World Scenes - Armenian Genocide1 Bodies

Armenian Genocide Victims 

From 2000 to 2002, I led a graduate seminar entitled "Post-Holocaust Ethical and Political Issues” at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. Among the topics covered was the politics of memory.

One of the case studies we explored was the controversy surrounding language and its power. We looked in depth at the massacre of Armenians and how its depiction had become a subject of fierce debate, primarily between Armenians, who insisted on calling the events of 1915 a genocide, and Turks, who adamantly refused to countenance the "G word." Essentially, this was a zero-sum game.

Either one supported the Armenian or the Turkish position, whether for historical or political reasons, but neither side allowed room for compromise. The basic Armenian argument was that up to 1.5 million Armenians were deliberately targeted and massacred by the Ottoman Empire, eight years before the modern Turkish Republic came into being. At the time, the word genocide didn’t exist. Read more ..


Palestine and Israel

No to Israeli Historical Pandering and No to "Nakba"

August 26th 2007

Abraham Foxman Color cropped
Abraham H. Foxman

As a member of the executive committee of the Jewish community interagency task force on Israeli Arabs, the Anti-Defamation League believes that it is very much in the interest of Israel and the Jewish people to ensure full equality for Israel’s Arab citizens. This is for pragmatic, moral and diplomatic reasons. To get there requires leadership and responsibility on both sides, Jewish and Arab.

Thus Israel’s Or Commission to investigate the Intifada delineated many areas of practical discrimination, such as funding for the Arab sector, which needed attention by the Israeli government. On the other side, Israeli Arab intellectuals produced a document entitled “Future Vision” which reinforced many of the Or Commission findings but also, disturbingly, asserted that true equality could never exist without the state giving up its “Jewishness” in its symbols and other practical laws and regulations.

It is in this context that one needs to examine the recent decision of the Israeli Ministry of Education to include in the curriculum of Arab schools a reference to the belief in the Arab world that Israel’s founding was viewed as a “Nakba,” that is, “a catastrophe” for the Palestinians. Is this a legitimate recognition by the government of Israel as part of the effort to make Israel’s Arabs comfortable as equal citizens? Or is this self-destructive political correctness which rather than make Israeli Arabs more at home will reinforce beliefs that the future demands a distancing by the descendants of the founders of the state from its original meaning and purpose? Read more ..


Bad Arolsen Conflict

Holocaust Museum Must be Honest about Bad Arolsen Internet Records Offer

August 21st 2007

Edwin Black

A bitter, public war has erupted between grass-roots Holocaust survivor organizations and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) over some sixteen miles of Holocaust-era records held by the International Tracing Service (ITS) at Bad Arolsen, Germany. The Bad Arolsen archive contains some 42 million records of the incarceration and enslavement of 17 million Nazi victims, about 70 percent of which are digitized and in many cases scanned by sophisticated optical character readers. Until recently, the files were secret.

A 2006 special treaty among the eleven nations of the International Tracing Commission that control the records will distribute copies to each country once approved. However, France and Italy have yet to ratify the treaty. Italian sources have gone on record to declare that their domestic treaty ratification process may take an additional year or two. That delay is heartbreaking to hundreds of thousands of elderly Holocaust survivors dying daily of old age and desperate to trace the fate of their loved ones.

But Bad Arolsen’s files could be made Internet ready within three to four months, say senior ITS technology officials. However, the USHMM, the prime mover in the international release, is intent on sequestering the data to its own on-site terminals in Washington instead of making them available on the Internet or via remote secure database accessible to survivors in local libraries or their homes the way most government documents are accessible these days. The Museum’s physical transfer approach involves a complicated, costly, time-consuming process of data exports, system reintegration and a computer infrastructure built from scratch.

The idea outrages Holocaust survivors. Read more ..


Palestine and Israel

Will Abbas Finally Seize the Opportunity?

August 20th 2007

Howard Kohr headshot
Howard Kohr

Following the violent Hamas overthrow of the Palestinian Authority (PA) government in Gaza, President Mahmoud Abbas fired the Hamas ministers and created a new PA government in the West Bank. This seismic shift presented Israel with a potential partner for peace in Abbas and his new government.

In the two months since Hamas’ coup, Israel has taken bold steps to bolster Abbas and his new prime minister, Salam Fayyad. These measures include releasing Palestinian tax monies, freeing 250 Palestinian prisoners, offering amnesty to wanted Fatah militiamen and sending over 50,000 tons of humanitarian aid to Gaza’s civilians Read more ..



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