The Exhausted Soldier

An American soldier, serving in World War II, had just returned from several weeks of intense action on the German front lines. He had finally been granted R&R and was on a train bound for London.

The train was very crowded, so the soldier walked the length of the train, looking for an empty seat. The only unoccupied seat was directly adjacent to a well-dressed middle-aged lady and was being used by her little dog.

The war weary soldier asked, “Please, ma’am, may I sit in that seat?”

The English woman looked down her nose at the soldier, sniffed and said, “You Americans. You are such a rude class of people. Can’t you see my little Fifi is using that seat?”

The soldier walked away, determined to find a place to rest, but after another trip down to the end of the train, found himself again facing the woman with the dog. Again he asked, “Please, lady. May I sit there? I’m very tired.”

The English woman wrinkled her nose and snorted, “You Americans! Not only are you rude, you are also arrogant. Imagine!”

The soldier didn’t say anything else; he leaned over, picked up the little dog, tossed it out the window of the train and sat down in the empty seat.

The woman shrieked and railed, and demanded that someone defend her and chastise the soldier.

An English gentleman sitting across the aisle spoke up, “You know, sir, you Americans do seem to have a penchant for doing the wrong thing. You eat holding the fork in the wrong hand. You drive your cars on the wrong side of the road. And now, sir, you’ve even thrown the wrong bitch out the window.”

18-Year-Old Basel Yazouri’s Photographs of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza

“Prodigies in photography are singularly rare,” observed art historian Abigail Solomon-Godeau, in a seminal essay about Francesca Woodman, a photographer who committed suicide at the age of 23. Her words immediately sprang to mind when I first encountered the photographs of Basel Yazouri, an 18-year-old from the Gaza Strip.

In January, Yazouri became the youngest-ever recipient of the prestigious Magnum Foundation Human Rights Fellowship, in part for his work during the 51-day Israeli military action in Gaza last summer, when he photographed the crowded, bleak terrain of Gaza, documenting the impact of the conflict at home. He was 17 years old, completely self-taught, with no training operating a camera and little familiarity with other photographers’ work, yet he created an incisive, visually arresting, and strikingly mature photographic record of life in Gaza during the invasion. Of that formative time, he told me recently in New York, where he now lives, “I didn’t remove my finger from the shutter for 51 days.”

On the one-year anniversary of the Egypt-brokered ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, we are presenting a slideshow of Yazouri’s photographs, many published here for the first time, all taken during Operation Protective Edge. The photo essay, published with photographer’s captions, announces a prodigious new talent in the field of documentary photography.


Belfast Pastor on Trial for Offending Islam

An evangelical Christian pastor in Northern Ireland has made his first court appearance after he was charged with making “grossly offensive” remarks about Islam.

James McConnell, 78, appeared at Laganside Magistrates Court in Belfast on August 6, after local Muslims complained that he delivered a sermon in which he described Islam as “heathen” and “satanic.”

According to Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service (PPS), McConnell — whose sermon was streamed live on the Internet — violated the 2003 Communications Act by “sending, or causing to be sent, by means of a public electronic communications network, a message or other matter that was grossly offensive.”

Pastor McConnell’s prosecution is one of a growing number of examples in which British authorities — who routinely ignore incendiary speech by Muslim extremists — are using hate speech laws to silence Christians.


Erdogan’s Kurdish War Gamble Fails Spectacularly

Analysts revealed that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) launched an unofficial war on Kurdish forces last month as a ploy to make up for its historic failure in June elections – but new polls on Friday show Erdogan may have shot himself in the foot ahead of snap elections.

After an Islamic State (ISIS) suicide bombing against Kurdish activists in Turkey last month, several Kurdish militants conducted attacks on police, given that Turkey has cooperated with ISIS. Erdogan leaped on the events by launching a two-pronged crackdown against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), breaking off peace talks with the militant group and leaving hundreds dead, as well as a campaign against ISIS that has yet to truly materialize.

But a new poll by Gezici shows that despite the attempts to take on the Kurds after its failure in the last elections – particularly vis-a-vis a pro-Kurdish party – the Islamist AKP has only lost power since the June 7 elections even as the pro-Kurdish party gains support.

AKP currently has just 38.9% support, an even lower figure than the 40.7% it received in the election, reports Reuters.


Canada: “Hate Speech” Proposal Threatens Free Speech

It’s not just Canada. It’s everywhere. In America, voices of freedom are prohibited from speaking at college campuses. Mainstream media outlets blacklist those who oppose jihad terror. Curt Schilling gets fired from ESPN for a tweet against Islamic extremism.Years ago I said “truth is the new hate speech.” I was right, and now it is becoming law.


News Agency Reports Failure of Impending S-300 Missile Deal Between Russia and Iran

A senior Iranian official said his country and Russia have not been successful in finalizing a widely contested sale of advanced S-300 missile systems due to a disagreement over the sale price, Israel’s NRG reported on Thursday citing the Turkish Anadolu news agency.

According to the report, the Iranian official, in Moscow for an international aviation and aerospace exhibit, said, “Though there are no legal obstacles [to the sale], the two sides failed to agree on a price, so the deal was not completed.”

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, a Russian news agency reported that the deal hit a snag over a different issue.