After our Brexit article some inquired why we claimed the European Union would die, or more aptly, implode, as we had stated at one point. A few expressly pointed to the fact that there were signs of economic recovery and that the steps taken by the European Union were working to bring the troubled nations, especially Spain and Italy, back from the brink. While it would be quite a blessing should the European Union make a recovery of unparalleled dimensions resembling the great periods of the post-World War II era but the likelihood is slender as there is not about to be another Marshall Plan as the United States too is facing lean years and will be working on their own recovery for the immediate future. The challenges to the Western World are mounting and if not addressed and some mitigation found the refugees flowing into Europe and North America…
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Pope Francis, on his recent visit to the Greek island of Lesbos, said that Europe must respond to the migrant crisis with solutions that are “worthy of humanity.” He also decried “that dense pall of indifference that clouds hearts and minds.” The Pope then proceeded to demonstrate what he believes is a response “worthy of humanity” by bringing 12 Syrian Muslims with him on his plane to Italy. “It’s a drop of water in the sea. But after this drop, the sea will never be the same,” the Pope mused.
The Pope’s speech did not contain a single reference to the harsh consequences of Muslim migration into the European continent for Europeans. Instead, the speech was laced with reflections such as “…barriers create divisions instead of promoting the true progress of peoples, and divisions sooner or later lead to confrontations” and “…our willingness to continue to cooperate so that the challenges we face today will not lead to conflict, but rather to the growth of the civilization of love.”
The Pope went back to his practically migrant-free Vatican City — those 12 Syrian Muslims will be hosted by Italy, not the Vatican, although the Holy See will be supporting them — leaving it to ordinary Europeans to cope with the consequences of “the growth of the civilization of love.”
There is nothing quite as free in this world as not practicing what you preach, and what the Pope is preaching is the acceptance of more migration into Europe, and more migration — much more — is indeed what is in the cards for Europe.
At the UN’s Geneva conference on Syrian refugees on March 30, Italy’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Paolo Gentiloni, put the total number of asylum seekers into Italy in the first three months of 2016 at 18,234. This is already 80% higher than in the same period in 2015.
According to Paolo Serra, military adviser to Martin Kobler, the UN’s Libya envoy, migrants currently in Libya will head for Italy in large numbers if the country is not stabilized. “If we do not intervene, there could be 250,000 arrivals [in Italy] by the end of 2016,” he said. According to France’s Defense Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, the number is much higher: 800,000 migrants are currently in Libyan territory waiting to cross the Mediterranean.
In Iran’s political establishment, as in others, there are often opportunistic figures who change their colors and views, apparently based on what they might gain politically and economically.
A current example is Reza Moridi, a Canadian citizen originally from Iran, who is currently a Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) in Ontario and the provincial government’s Minister of Research and Innovation.
Originally, to benefit from the votes of Iranian-Canadian constituents, Moridi strongly opposed human rights abuses committed by the Iranian regime and rejected the idea of rapprochement with Iran, currently the world leader per capita in executing people.
Previously, he had written a letter to Canada’s then prime minister, Stephen Harper, urging “the Government of Canada to continue speaking out against the restrictions on free speech and democracy in Iran” and arguing that “The Iranian people must have the opportunity to voice their opinions freely and without fear of harm.”
But his position soon changed dramatically. Suddenly, the Iranian regime’s human rights violations, oppression, and interventions in other countries became less of an issue. He recently met with Canada’s External Affairs Minister, Stephane Dion, to discuss further rapprochement with Iran’s regime, and is currently calling on the Canadian government to re-open its embassy in Tehran.
Growing public concern about immigration and Britain’s ability to control its borders over recent days has been a boon to the Leave side, we report this morning. A new ORB poll gives Remain 51%, down 4% on last week, and Leave 46% of the vote, up 4% from seven days ago, which has effectively halved the gap between both sides (from 13% to just 5%). Official revelations like the latest migration statistics and the forecast that immigration would add 4 million people to Britain’s population have provided Leave with an ideal campaign backdrop. Leavers, Sir Lynton Crosby writes, have put “increasing focus” on this and offered improved message discipline, but will immigration be enough for them to clinch victory?
Remainers hope not, as they prefer to fight the referendum on the economy (hence Lord Sugar wading into the fray today). The ORB poll says that Leave is nipping away at the pro-EU side’s lead on this, but still remains markedly behind as 9% more voters think Remain is the better option for Britain’s economy and 7% more do for jobs. Europhiles will also be encouraged by a letter in today’s Telegraph in which more than 200 Cambridge University professors, dames, knights and Nobel prize winners have expressed their “grave concern” at the impact on British universities of leaving the European Union. Some of the university’s biggest names including Lord Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, and Sir Richard Evans, the historian, have signed up, so this will provide some intellectual firepower to the Remain side.
However immigration is not going to go away as an issue. The father of Aylan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian boy whose body washed up on a Turkish beach last year and became a tragic emblem of Europe’s migration crisis, says his son died for nothing because refugees are still drowning at sea. Meanwhile Sir Ian Botham has backed Boris Johnson (a “nicer” Donald Trump according to Ken Clarke) and the Brexit campaign with a warning that the country could get “cluttered” if the UK votes to remain. With nearly three weeks to go until the referendum, both sides will be pushing their key messages until polling day since, as Sir Lynton points out, it is when voters “start to pay real attention to the choice they are being asked to make”.
After Britain has voted, should we be prepared to do it all over again? William Hague suggests not, and urges both sides in today’s paper to accept the result come what may. “On June 24 there will be defeated members of a serving government who must immediately focus on implementing the opposite of what they wanted,” he writes. “As the rallies and interviews reach their climax, there needs to be clear thinking about how to live with the result – whatever that might be.”
Israel’s rejection of the French peace initiative proves it does not want peace
The President of France is trying to fill the vacuum left by the failures of the Obama administration to advance the peace process. Unfortunately, he seems intent on repeating the mistakes of past leaders who believed that an international gathering can substitute for direct negotiations between the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority. While Francois Hollande’s initiative is well-meaning, and he would like France to be a player in the peace process, he knows that only the United States can play the role of mediator because Israel will only feel safe to make the difficult compromises necessary for peace if Israelis believe America has their back. Israel also has a well-founded distrust of the Europeans whose policy toward the Arab-Israeli conflict has historically tilted disproportionately in support of Palestinian demands.
It should come as no surprise, therefore, that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told President Hollande he opposed the planned conference. Instead, Netanyahu repeated his frequent invitation for PA President Mahmoud Abbas to sit with him face to face to seek a mutually agreed upon agreement to establish a Palestinian state beside the Jewish state. “Any other process [like the French initiative] just pushes peace farther away and gives the Palestinians an escape hatch to avoid confronting the root of the conflict, which is the recognition of the state of Israel [as Jewish state],” Netanyahu said754 He told the press on May 12, 2016, “I am willing to meet President Abbas today, right now. He can come to my home here in Jerusalem or I can go to his home here in Ramallah.”755
The bartender at the Communist-themed pub in former East Berlin scrunches up his face and readjusts his glasses. Lenin looms on the wall beside him. “This is from Berlin?” I ask him.
“No, it’s from a little town, you’ve probably never heard of it,” he says of the bottle of doppelkorn liquor he has just poured me.
“What’s it called?” I inquire, taking a tiny sip from the clear liquid.
“Nordhausen,” the barkeep replies.
“Sure, I know it.”
“You do?” he gasps, amazed an American should know of a Podunk village in Lower Thuringia.
“Sure, my great-uncle liberated a concentration camp there,” I tell him.
I have a great idea for a holiday. It’s called Fuck-Off Day. One day a year, every year, everyone in the country stays home. No get-togethers, no barbecues, no nothing. We’ll make it August 1, a slow time of the year, holiday-wise. Stores can even have special Fuck-Off Day sales: 10 percent off dead bolts and peephole kits. People will buy each other Rottweilers and rifles. What a holiday that would be, don’t you think?
Jesus Christ, Shal, said my wife. If you don’t want to go, just don’t go.
I didn’t want to go.
We had been invited to a Memorial Day barbecue, and I was feeling guilty. I’d been buried in work for months now—writing, rewriting, editing, copyediting—and I thought it would be good for my son to see me behaving like a human being, interacting with neighbors, nursing a beer while standing around the grill with the other dads.
It’ll be fun, Dad, said my son.
Of course it will be, I said. I can’t wait.