Friday, November 26, 2010
“For air passengers already fed up with being hauled off to the side of the security line for a pat-down or facing aggressive questions about bulky clothing or odd items in their luggage, advocates for the disabled have this to say: Welcome to our lives.
“For the disabled and infirmed — many forced to go through security lines in wheelchairs with ample hiding places for contraband, wearing prosthetic limbs that could harbor drugs or explosives or lugging oxygen tanks that could really contain god-knows-what — the added discomfort and inconvenience that many travelers are now experiencing is something they've put up with for years.”
But what really caught my eye is this-
"I didn't mind; it wasn't really that bad," 89-year-old Marquerite Aswad, who
uses a wheelchair, said Tuesday after arriving at Newark Liberty International
Airport from Fort Myers, Fla. "It was a lady, and she didn't pat me very hard.
She said, 'You look like a nice woman; I don't think you're hiding anything in
Is the TSA kidding? Looking “like a nice woman” brings gentility in the scanning or search process? What kind of stupidity is this? OK, you terrorists, get yourself an old lady in a wheelchair and get a free ride to martyrdom.
Seriously, don’t they know at the TSA training sessions that one’s level of niceness has nothing to do with the security process? Instead of forcing the wheelchair-bound into pat downs, or the removal of artificial legs, why don’t the TSA folks learn how to question people like Mrs. Aswad before they board a flight.
“How long have you lived in Fort Myers? Where did you live before? Who helped you pack your luggage? Did anyone give you anything to bring with you? Why are you traveling to Newark? Who are you visiting? Where do they live? Where are the gifts you are bringing them? Where did you buy them? Who drove you to the airport?”
These are the types of questions I’ve been asked on international air travel before and since our Muslim brothers turned American airliners into missiles. The purpose of this type of questioning is to not only hear what the traveler has to say, but to watch how he answers. It’s the style of answer—maybe you’re too pat in your reply, and the body language—maybe the glance away, that leads to further questioning and examination of your luggage and private parts.
I know it’s not going to happen soon, but maybe, just maybe, one day the folks at TSA will wake up and realize that the present system is just plain silly.
Read the full story.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Can Palestinians abide a single free-thinking blogger in their midst?
Should the United States offer—and Israel accept—diplomatic guarantees, plus $2 billion worth of fighter jets, for the sake of a 90-day settlement freeze? Er, no. Israel can afford the planes, or at least it can afford them better than the perception that it's getting a free ride from U.S. taxpayers. The U.S. should not put a price on things it ought not to do anyway, like recognizing a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood. And bribery is generally a bad idea, particularly between friends.
Then again, bad ideas are what you get when you're operating from bad premises. Premises such as: There is a deal to be had between Israelis and Palestinians, or that the settlements are the core of the problem.
So what is the core of the problem? Consider the predicament faced by a Palestinian named Walid Husayin from the West Bank city of Qalqilya. Mr. Husayin, 26, is suspected of being the blogger known as Waleed al-Husseini and author of an essay, posted on the Proud Atheist Web site (proud-a.blogspot.com), titled "Why I Left Islam."
The pseudonymous Husseini makes no bones about his opposition to religions generally, which he says "compete with each other in terms of stupidity." But nothing seems to exercise his indignation more than the religion he used to call his own. Islam, he writes, is "an authoritarian religion that does not respect the individual's freedom of choice, which is easily noticeable from its barbaric verdicts such as stoning the adulterous, pushing homosexuals off a cliff and killing the apostates for daring to express a different viewpoint."
And that's just Husseini getting started. The essay proceeds by way of a series of questions, such as "Is Islam a religion of tolerance?" Answer: "The sacred texts of Islam also encourage blatant war and conquest of new territories." What about equality? "Islam has legitimized slavery, reinforced the gap between social classes and allowed stealing from the infidels." Women's rights? "I have a mother, a sister and a lover and I cannot stand for them to be humiliated and stigmatized in this bone-chilling way." The prophet? "A sex maniac" who "was no different than barbaric thugs who slaughtered, robbed and raped women." And so on.
This being the Arab world, it should come as no surprise that Mr. Husayin has spent the past 24 days in detention, that he has been forbidden from receiving visitors or speaking to a lawyer, that he faces a potential life sentence, and that people in Qalqilya have called for him to be burned alive.
The systematic violation of Palestinian rights by Palestinian officials is an old story, as is the increasingly Islamist tilt of what was once supposed to be a relatively secular, progressive society. Whatever might be said in favor of freedom for Palestine, there has been to date precious little freedom in Palestine, whether in the Hamas-controlled statelet of Gaza or in the parts of the West Bank under Fatah's dominion.
That's a problem. It's also a problem that when the Associated Press covered Mr. Husayin's ordeal, reporter Diaa Hadid offered that "the Western-backed Palestinian Authority is among the more religiously liberal Arab governments in the region," and that "Husayin's high public profile and prickly style . . . left authorities no choice but to take action."
How nice to see AP reporters sticking up for free expression. Indeed, the consistent willingness of Western news organizations to downplay stories about Palestinian illiberalism and thuggery goes far to explain why so much of the world misdiagnoses the nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Settlements are a convenient alibi: They foster the illusion that the conflict can be resolved by Israeli territorial concessions alone. But if that were true, Gaza would have turned peaceful the moment settlements were withdrawn five years ago. The opposite happened.
Why did Gaza become more violent, internally as well as toward Israel and Egypt, the moment it was rid of Israelis? That's the central question, and one too few observers seem willing to address for fear of where the answer might lead. Yet it ought to be self-evident. The culture of Palestinian illiberalism gave rise to the discontents that brought about civil war and then Hamas's swift rise to power. Hamas is theologically committed to Israel's destruction. That commitment is politically popular: It shapes, and limits, what even the most progressive Palestinian leaders might be willing to concede to Israel in any deal. The result is what we now have: Negotiations that are going nowhere, at an increasingly heavy price for all parties, including the United States.
Like George W. Bush before him, President Obama has observed that the U.S. can't want peace more than Israelis or Palestinians themselves do. But America can, uniquely, stand for freedom like no other country. Mr. Husayin—assuming he's the author of those blog posts—surely knew how much he risked by speaking his mind, and it's tempting to conclude he had it coming.
But if Palestinians cannot abide a single free-thinker in their midst, they cannot be free in any meaningful sense of the word. And if the U.S. can't speak up on his behalf, then neither, in the long run, can we.
If you want to read the column on-line go here but I do not guarantee the link will work because of WSJ.com policies.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Anyway, there was a debate last month at Cambridge University. As reported in the Jerusalem Post,
When Cambridge University’s prestigious student debating society hosted a debate last month on the motion “Israel is a rogue state,” Israel’s supporters bleakly anticipated another hostile, demonizing and divisive event, and braced, too, for acceptance of the motion in the final vote.One speaker, student Gabriel Latner, spoke for the motion and demonstrated that Israel is a rogue state. For that reason, the motion was defeated.
But the motion was surprisingly and firmly defeated, with 74 percent of the votes opposing it.
Read the full report on-line, including portions of Latner's presentation, When Gabriel Latner turned tables on the Israel-bashers. The full text of the news story is below.
Nice going Mr. Latner.
The Jerusalem Post
When Gabriel Latner turned tables on the Israel-bashers
By Jonny Paul
Canadian law student won Cambridge University student union debate for Israel... despite losing it.
LONDON – When Cambridge University’s prestigious student debating society hosted a debate last month on the motion “Israel is a rogue state,” Israel’s supporters bleakly anticipated another hostile, demonizing and divisive event, and braced, too, for acceptance of the motion in the final vote.
But the motion was surprisingly and firmly defeated, with 74 percent of the votes opposing it.
Is Israel ‘a rogue state’? You’d better hope so
At the root of that thoroughly unexpected result was the extraordinary content of the speech delivered by one of the proposers of the motion – content that subsequently prompted students unsympathetic to Israel to protest the result and demand an apology from the Cambridge Union Society.
For Gabriel Latner, a 19-year-old, second-year law student from Toronto, advanced an argument in support of the motion that “Israel is a rogue state” that would have made any Israeli diplomat proud.
Proposing the motion was Lauren Booth, an arch anti- Israel activist and sister-in-law of the Quartet’s Middle East envoy, former prime minister Tony Blair. Booth recently converted to Islam after a religious experience on a visit to Iran.
Alongside her were Mark McDonald, founder of the group Labor Friends of Palestine, and Latner.
Opposing the motion were Ran Gidor, the Israeli Embassy’s counsellor for political affairs, Shiraz Maher, a former Islamic extremist, and and Paul Livingston, a third-year law student from Glasgow.
Since that remarkable October 21 night at the Cambridge Union Society, Latner has been celebrated by the pro- Israel camp, and vilified by the not so pro-Israel camp. His performance has been discussed heatedly on Facebook and on a range of blogs; he’s become a figure of interest on campuses; and he has been the focus on ongoing interest at the Union, which initially banned him for life for allegedly swearing at Booth at the event, then reinstated him after he apologized.
The young man himself says he has been somewhat shocked at the attention.
“The fact that a rough draft of my speech went viral surprised me, I really didn’t think anyone would care,” he told The Jerusalem Post this week. “I’ve been getting on average 15+ emails and Facebook messages a day since the debate – some positive, some not.
“I’ve been sent links to dozens of sites that carried the story and scanned copies of newspaper articles about it. I even got a call from family in Australia who read about it in their local paper. I’ve received notes from Cambridge Dons and MPs about this. I expected people in Cambridge might care, but no one outside the bubble."
So how did Latner, arguing that evening for the motion that “Israel is rogue state,” become a new hero for supporters of Israel, and a villain for the detractors? He had applied to the Cambridge Union Society, which had circulated a request for student volunteers to participate in the debate, with the offer to speak for either side, and was – rather to his surprise – invited to appear for the proposers of the motion.
He was not required to submit any of his content ahead of the event.
Latner, who said he comes from a Reconstructionist Jewish background and has been to Israel several times, including reportedly as an IDF volunteer, said he was galvanized by a strong desire to win – even though, as it turned out, “winning” on behalf of Israel meant his side losing the debate.
Describing himself as a “classical civil libertarian,” Latner set out his argument to show that Israel is indeed a “rogue state” – but in the very best sense of the term. And he did so, in a 10-minute address before the approximately 800-strong audience, by highlighting the anomalous nature of Israel.
He began as follows: “I’m tempted to do what my fellow speakers are going to do – simply rehash every bad thing the Israeli government has ever done in an attempt to satisfy those of you who agree with them.”
And indeed, he continued, “It would be so easy to twist the meaning and significance of international law to make Israel look like a criminal state. But that’s been done to death.
“It would be easier still to play to your sympathy,” he acknowledged, “with personalized stories of Palestinian suffering, and they can give very eloquent speeches on those issues. But the truth is that treating people badly, whether they’re your citizens or an occupied nation, does not make a state ‘rogue’. If it did, Canada, the US and Australia would all be rogue states based on how they treat their indigenous populations.
Britain’s treatment of the Irish would easily qualify [it] to wear this sobriquet. These arguments, while emotionally satisfying, lack intellectual rigor.”
If his direction was becoming visible at this point, Latner now made it explicit: “By the end of my speech,” he declared, “I will have presented five pro-Israel arguments that show Israel is, if not a ‘rogue state’ than at least ‘rogue-ish’. Let me be clear, I will not be arguing that Israel is ‘bad’. I will not be arguing that it doesn’t deserve to exist. I won’t be arguing that it behaves worse than every other country. I will only be arguing that Israel is ‘rogue’,” he said.
The speaker, having noted that the word “rogue” is actually “value-neutral” even though it has “come to have exceptionally damning connotations,” now highlighted the five promised areas to demonstrate the extent of that Israeli ‘rogue-ness’.
“The fact that Israel is a Jewish state alone makes it anomalous enough to be dubbed a rogue state,” was his first argument. After all, he had calculated, “the chance of any randomly chosen state being Jewish is 0.0051%.”
Next he showed how Israel’s treatment of Darfurian refugees is “anomalous.”
Asking why refugees from Darfur cross deserts to reach Israel, he continued: “Why would they take the risk? Because in Israel they are treated with compassion – they are treated as the refugees that they are – and perhaps Israel's cultural memory of genocide is to blame. The Israeli government has even gone so far as to grant several hundred Darfurian refugees citizenship. This alone sets Israel apart from the rest of the world.”
For his third argument, Latner suggested that Israel’s readiness to negotiate with terrorists complies emphatically with the dictionary definition of ‘rogue’ – “behaving in a way that is unexpected, or not normal.”
Sticking with the dictionary, he invoked the definition of “rogue” as “occurring at an unexpected place or time.” “When you compare Israel to its regional neighbors, it becomes clear just how roguish Israel is,” he exclaimed. “And here is the fourth argument: Israel has a better human rights record than any of its neighbors.
At no point in history has there ever been a liberal democratic state in the Middle East – except for Israel. Of all the countries in the Middle East, Israel is the only one where the LGBT community enjoys even a small measure of equality. In Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar and Syria, homosexual conduct is punishable by flogging, imprisonment, or both. But homosexuals there get off pretty lightly compared to their counterparts in Iran, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, who are put to death.
“Israeli homosexuals can adopt, openly serve in the army, enter civil unions and are protected by exceptionally strongly worded ant-discrimination legislation. Beats a death sentence,” he said. “In fact, it beats America.”
For his final argument, Latner pointed to Gidor, the Israeli diplomat, who was present as the lead speaker of the opposing side, arguing against the motion.
“Ran Gidor’s presence here is the all evidence any of us should need to confidently call Israel a rogue state,” he asserted.
“Consider, for a moment, what his presence here means. The Israeli government has signed off to allow one of their senior diplomatic representatives to participate in a debate on their very legitimacy. That’s remarkable.
“Do you think for a minute, that any other country would do the same?” he asked. “If the Yale University Debating Society were to have a debate where the motion was ‘This house believes Britain is a racist, totalitarian state that has done irrevocable harm to the peoples of the world,’ [do you think] that Britain would allow any of its officials to participate? No. Would China participate in a debate about the status of Taiwan? Never.
“And there is no chance in hell that an American government official would ever be permitted to argue in a debate concerning its treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay,” he said.
Speaking to the Post this week, Latner stressed that “My speech wasn’t motivated by ‘pro-Israel’ or ‘anti-Palestinian’ sentiment.
I’m not an Islamophobe, even though some Islamophobes who read my speech think I am. I’m not a neo-conservative, even though critics of my speech think I am, as do some of my supporters. I’m all about freedom of speech, freedom of conscience and freedom in general. I’m a civil libertarian, and a fan of democracy,” he said.
“The philosophical underpinning of my support for Israel, and for the Palestinians for that matter, isn’t based on my Jewishness or any historical arguments: I believe that each person has an innate right to self-determination, and national, cultural, regional or political groups have the right to exercise that personal autonomy as a collective.
"Zionism, as well as Palestinian national aspirations, is simply an expression of the underlying philosophical maxim that people are born free and that each of us has the right to plot our individual course through life,” he added.
In the aftermath of the debate, a group of student union societies – which included the Palestinian, Socialist Workers, Arab, Islam, Pakistan and Turkish societies – sent a letter of protest to Cambridge Union Society President James Counsell.
“How can the Union justify inviting a speaker who clearly lacks any credibility to speak on behalf of the proposition?” they asked in the letter. “Who was responsible for selecting Latner to be on the program? Undermining the fairness of debate in such a fashion can only have negative consequences for the reputation and credibility of the Union itself.”
Calling for an investigation, the signatories said: “Our issue is not with the outcome of the debate, but with the unprofessional manner in which the debate itself took place. The events which transpired undermined its credibility, and also that of the Union. As such a prestigious and renowned society, we are perturbed by the fact that the basic values that the Union stands for were not upheld. It shows a great deal of disrespect to Union members and the other speakers involved in this debacle.”
The signatories also called for “a full and unreserved public apology for the offence caused by sanctioning a debate that lacked the basic and necessary prerequisites of balance and fairness, and for the lack of respect that entails to the members of the Cambridge Union... In addition, we would like assurances that for future events an equal opportunity is given to the relevant societies in suggesting speakers that best represent their cause.”
But the Cambridge Union itself said it had received “no letters from any groups regarding the phrasing of the motion prior to the debate.”
It noted: “The Cambridge Union tries to spark interest amongst its membership by producing pithy motions, as is evident from other debates this term such as ‘Is Islam a Threat to the West,’ and ‘This House Hates Human Rights.’ However, the caliber of our guest speakers should dispel any notion that we seek to simplify extremely complex contemporary issues.”
Other students praised Latner’s speech and the event itself.
“I think Gabriel’s speech was really wellinformed,” the Union’s President-Elect Lauren Davidson told the independent student newspaper Varsity. “The Union exists to provide a platform for free speech, and so we don’t check speeches in advance. In almost all our debates, speakers from each side twist the motion and it’s usually thought very clever and funny.”
Davidson added, “The motion was not asking ‘Is this house pro or anti-Israel?’ It was asking whether Israel is a rogue state, which Gabriel argued exactly according to the motion. So, he was not arguing for the wrong side.”
Incidentally, Latner said he’s now running for the presidency of the Union.
Monday, November 22, 2010
The only reason we tolerate the airport security hassle is that people are too cowed to question the absurd taboo against profiling.
We've been cowed too long and need to state the obvious--Arab Muslims brought us airplane hijackings and airborne murder as a political statement. Show me a septuagenarian with a bomb strapped to his or her backside and I'll change my opinion.
We have to thank John Tyner for calling attention to the stupidity of present airline screening procedures by announcing clearly and loudly, "don't touch my junk" as we was about to have a thorough pat-down before boarding a flight. According to Krauthammer,
Don’t touch my junk is the anthem of the modern man, the teaparty patriot, theHe's right, it's time to call a spade a spade, put political correctness to the side and do a little profiling in order to catch the next would be terrorist and let us regular folk get to the airport gate a little bit earlier.
late-life libertarian, the midterm election voter.
Read the full Krauthammer column as it appeared in the Jerusalem Post, Don’t touch my junk!
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Michael Gerson, writing in the Washington Post, takes Holder and the Obama Administration to task for using the civilian court to try Ahmed Ghailani and losing the case. (A minor conviction was gotten.)
The case of embassy bomber Ahmed Ghailani - the only Guantanamo Bay detainee the Obama administration has brought to trial in the United States - was intended to increase public faith in civilian prosecutions. But a terrorist hugging his lawyers in victory can’t be considered a confidence builder. Days before the Ghailani verdict, the White House admitted that Mohammed, because of massive, public resistance, would not be seeing the inside of a Manhattan courtroom anytime soon. “Gitmo,” one official told The Washington Post, “is going to remain open for the foreseeable future.”
We’ve been personally through this type of trial before. The case of Sami Al-Arian. The weaknesses in both cases was pretty much the same-- the trial took place years after the event in question, many charges were brought, and the evidence is confusing. In my opinion, more than the layperson can digest.
So, Gerson asks the question,
Where do these developments leave Holder, for whom failure is not only an option but a habit? A recent profile by Wil Hylton in GQ attempts to put his tenure in the best possible light - the lonely, naive man of principle undone by politics. But the portrait is unintentionally devastating. Holder clearly views the war on terrorism as a distraction. “The biggest surprise I’ve had in this job,” he told Hylton, “is how much time the national security issues take.”
By insisting on civilian trials for terrorists, the Obama-Holder team embarked on a dangerous course of action. Obama needs a way to back off this course and get the next trials before military tribunals, where they belong.
National security is not a traffic infraction violation. It’s life and death stuff and we should learn to play by the rules need for it. And that’s what I think.
Read the full Op-ed.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Why do I think he’s an anti-Semite? Watch this video.
Siddique and his anti-Israel, Holocaust denying is the subject of an op-ed by Richard L. Cravatts, PhD. in the Jewish Press. He asks, "should academic free speech accommodate Holocaust denial?"
If you scratch a Holocaust denier long enough, you may reveal an anti-Semite, but not always. You will, however, probably find someone like the morally repellant Kaukab Siddique, a Pakistani-born tenured associate professor of English and journalism at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, who seemingly puts great faith in conspiratorial dramas in which a crafty and all-powerful enemy (i.e., Jews) weaves oft-repeated claims about the Holocaust just to elicit the world's sympathy and promote Zionism and the creation of Israel.
Siddique has been embroiled in an intellectual firestorm ever since his paroxysms of hatred toward Israel were exposed in a video taken during his appearance at a Labor Day rally in Washington and posted by The Investigative Project and reported on by the Christian Broadcasting Network. Siddique was filmed crying out to the crowd: "I say to the Muslims, 'Dear brothers and sisters, unite and rise up against this hydra-headed monster which calls itself Zionism...we must stand united to defeat, to destroy, to dismantle Israel, if possible [apparently not necessarily] by peaceful means."
It seems that Lincoln University will take no action because the above language was uttered at a non-university event. So what?
Imagine for a moment that a tenured professor at Lincoln was discovered to be a white nationalist, with his postings sprinkled on the pages of a hatesite such as Stormfront.org in which he railed, as visitors to that odious site do, against the dangers of non-whites to white culture, the harm non-whites do to society through criminality, high birthrates, and low morals, and the overall superiority of the white race to other groups.
Ask yourself, would that professor long survive at Lincoln University? I don't think so. But Lincoln University is not going to take action in the case of Siddique.
Therefore, I think it right that we complain to the Lincoln University administration about its refusal to address adquately Siddique's remarks and his continued presence on campus.
Read the full Op-ed.
That's what I think.
Saturday, November 6, 2010
OK, here's a guy who calls it as it is. The "it" is, of course, the root cause for the need for travelers to be searched before boarding flights, Muslim terrorists.
“While you’re spending that much time on Sikh Americans, who have absolutely no incidents of terrorism in the country, other people are getting through,” Jasjit Singh said.
It is Arab and Muslim terrorists who have brought the curse of body scans and searches upon us. It started with the Palestinians who hijacked airliners in their self-proclaimed war with Israel and the West, and it's now Muslim Islamists who use airlines to wreak havoc upon unsuspecting civilians.
But the Sikhs? What's done them in? Well, their turbans may not be susceptible to accurate scanning even with the new body scanners. And so,
Lots of luck to our Sikh neighbors.
Three national Sikh advocacy and civil rights organizations have said federal transportation officials plan to always search turbans at airport screening stations, even if wearers pass through state-of-the-art body imaging scanners.
Read the full news report.
Go here for more information on Sikhim.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
"Kuwaiti-Palestinian relations are historical and excellent. It is a great honor for us that the Fatah movement was launched in Kuwait."Does he have amnesia? Where was he when Kuwait expelled thousands upon thousands of Palestinian Arabs from the country following the Gulf War. (That was the war when missile attacks by Iraq against Israel were greeted by parties in the streets of Palestinian cities and towns in the West Bank.)
Author Hassan A El-Najjar writes
Following the 1991 Gulf War, Palestinians in Kuwait were reduced from a thriving immigrant community of more than 400,000 to less than 30,000 in 1998. Kuwaitis forced them out of the country using a systematic and violent campaign of ethnic cleansing. The Palestinian official support for Iraq during the crisis was used as an excuse for that campaign.
So, with friends like the Kuwaitis who needs enemies. Rather than tour the Middle East gathering support for his policy of delaying negotiations, he should be sitting down with the people who can resolve his problems for once and all time--the Israelis.
Well, that's what I think.