Our Feckless World

Beyond the Cusp

The escalation of the Islamic world’s war is against those who are insufficiently pure in their Islam practices and are not as obedient as desired or worse, not a worshipper of Allah and Muhammad and the true chain of the roots of Allah’s path from Abraham through Hagar, Sarah’s maidservant which she gave Abraham so he could produce an heir, a son. This son was Ishmael, who eventually fathered the progeny from Abraham and Hagar, presumably producing Muhammad, thus spawning Islam many centuries later. This new religion of Islam was supposed to be a furtherance of the Judeo-Christian lines and bring peace and one final message for humankind by which to live in peace and harmony, or at least that was how it presumably started. After being rebuffed, scorned and thrown out of Mecca, Muhammad went to Medina where the prophesy continued and changed its flavor and methods as Muhammad…

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Political abuse of Jo Cox murder is a threat to democracy

Last week’s heinous murder of Jo Cox MP sent shock waves throughout Britain, leading to a justified chorus of condemnation. Her assassination was a direct attack on a dedicated and hard working MP and a cruel blow to her family. It was also a paralysing assault on democracy itself.

While her killing highlighted the most odious elements of British life, the immediate reaction showed up the best parts of the national character.

Cross party rancour was replaced by unanimity and space was given to honour her memory. But what is inexcusable are the repeated attempts to draw political capital from her murder. This is precisely what many in the Remain camp have done to their discredit.

The liberal commentariat, having long ago decided that much of the British public was infected with prejudice and bigotry, turned this shocking event into a story about right wing extremism.

First there was a quite chilling headline in the Daily Star titled ‘MP dead after attack by Brexit gunman’. The clear insinuation was that there was a political motive behind the crime, effectively tarnishing the Leave camp.


Time to Leave UNESCO – Again

On April 11, 2016, the Executive Board of UNESCO adopted a resolution called “Occupied Palestine.” The title immediately exposes it as a biased document. That is not surprising. All the texts adopted by UNESCO concerning the Middle East are biased.

However, those who read it carefully can see that a further step was taken.

UNESCO’s resolution is not only biased: it is negationist. All traces of Jewish presence in Jerusalem and Judea in ancient times are eliminated at the stroke of a pen. The Temple Mount is never mentioned. It is only called by the name al-Aqsa Mosque / Haram al Sharif. The name “Western Wall” is placed between quotation marks, to indicate that it is an invalid name: Al Buraq Wall is used without quotation marks. The graves of Jewish cemeteries are described as “Jewish fake graves.”

It is a radical anti-Semitic resolution: denying historical fact, claiming that what exists does not, presenting the history of Judaism and the Jews as lies. Accusing Jews of “planting Jewish fake graves” is the lie. It is saying that Judaism is a sham and Jews are liars and falsifiers.

The document is absolutely anti-historical, anti-fact and “anti-Zionist”: it tries unambiguously to “prove” that Israel was founded on an imposture and has no reason to exist. The document constantly describes Israel as the “occupying power” and presents it as a predatory and arbitrary country.


Morning Briefing – The Telegraph

Good morning.

The referendum campaign is nearly at its end, with Britons set to start voting tomorrow, but it made sure to end on a high with a big debate in Wembley arena before a 6,000 strong audience. This meant, as Michael Deacon noted, that “every halfway coherent answer was being met with deafening acclaim”. “The crowd nearly blew the roof off”, he wrote, after Boris Johnson suggested that this week’s vote could see “independence day” for Britain from the European Union. His Mayoral successor Sadiq Khan was on feisty form for the Remain side, accusing Leavers of running “project hate” on immigration.  James Kirkup saw jibes like this from Khan as a sign that immigration “will decide the referendum”. Meanwhile, Ruth Davidson took on the role of Chief Boris Basher played  by Amber Rudd from last week’s ITV debate, harrying him with a raft of awkward statements he had made in the past about issues like Turkey. “Boris largely wriggled free from her direct attacks, but she kept going and wasn’t afraid to show passion,” thought Juliet Samuel. There is one more debate tonight on Channel 4, which looks to be hectic in its own way as the cast includes Rick Astley for Remain and Ulrika Jonsson for Leave.

David Cameron has sought to show the referendum isn’t all about who comes out on top in these debates, telling the Telegraph’s Peter Dominiczak about how he will use Britain’s upcoming presidency of the EU to push for tougher migration controls.. “Reform doesn’t end on Friday,” he declared. The Prime Minister mentions the key Remain lines, the economy is the “most important thing” and Brexit is “irreversible”, but what is especially interesting is his admission that the task of reuniting the Tories “starts on Friday”. This suggests he is planning a reconciliation, rather than a revenge, reshuffle after the vote, which means Boris Johnson and Michael Gove (who has said he would “reflect” on his cabinet future) will be set for big positions. He’ll have to make sure not to irk his Europhile colleagues at the same time, as some are feeling quietly confident about Remain’s chances and want him to do little to appease Brexiteers. “There needs to be a reckoning,” one pro-EU MP told me, “some of them have gone beyond the pale [in their rhetoric]” 

But pro-EU Tories will want to keep their heads down if Britain votes to Leave, which remains a distinct possibility as neither side is breaking into a decisive lead. The latest Survation poll had Remain just one point ahead, with that reflected across recent polls on average. The campaigns are pressing home their preferred issues, with over 1,280 executives writing a letter – organised by the Remain campaign – to the Times saying that Brexit “would put jobs at risk”. The Leavers have taken David Cameron to task over whether he would stop Turkey joining the EU in the next few years, with the Prime Minister insisting that it wouldn’t join until the year 3,000. That remark has sparked a backlash from Turkey, with President Erdogan’s chief adviser telling Newsnight how “flabbergasted” he has been left by that assessment. This diplomatic flare-up may be awkward, but it will help Cameron look like he isn’t rolling out the red carpet for Turkey’s entry into the EU.

It’s the final day of campaigning, so both sides will be hammering their messages home in order to mobilise their voters. Be sure to follow our liveblog to stay on top of it all. The Queen has reportedly been canvassing opinion on the EU debate by asking dinner companions: “Give me three good reasons why Britain should be part of Europe.” Royal sources pointed out that the words attributed were a “question not a statement”, suggesting she would pose it like this in order to – as her biographer Robert Lacey said – spark some “forthright discussion”. Philip Johnston has put a robust case in today’s paper for why you should vote Leave if you want a reformed EU. Bryony Gordon demurs, writing that she’ll be voting Remain, but asks that whatever the result – please don’t go complaining online if it doesn’t go your way.

The Ghosts of Fukushima

Hisao Yanai, a one-armed, chain-smoking, retired yakuza boss, stands alone behind the bar at Ippei, the restaurant he owns in the Japanese town of Naraha. There are no customers today. The streets outside the restaurant are deserted. Five years ago, on March 11, 2011, a powerful earthquake and tsunami triggered a triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, located ten miles north of Naraha, forcing the evacuation of roughly 160,000 people. Half of them still cannot go home. Last fall, Naraha became the first town in Fukushima’s mandatory evacuation zone to reopen fully, allowing all 7,400 residents to return. Nothing like it had ever been attempted before. Could a town despoiled by radiation be summoned back to life?

When I visit Naraha in the fall of 2015, not long after it reopens, only 150 residents have returned. (The number has since risen to 500.) Most are elderly. The town seems abandoned, like a seaside resort in the off-season. With no functioning banks, schools, or even a post office, Naraha has reverted to the rural backwater that Yanai escaped 50 years ago as a high school dropout. At 15, he ran off to Tokyo and learned to drive a dump truck during the construction boom leading up to the 1964 Olympics. At 16, he lost his left arm to a conveyor belt at a quarry. Eventually, he returned to Naraha and went to work at Fukushima Daiichi, which was flooding the area with high-paying jobs and government subsidies. Naraha, once known in Japan as “the Tibet of Fukushima,” had suddenly been thrust into the nuclear age.

“The nuclear plant changed the history of this town,” Yanai says. “They told us it was 100 percent safe.”


Female Knesset Members Break the Silence About Sexual Harassment

At the end of May, the top-rated Israeli news program broadcast a statistic that made waves in the Knesset: Of the 32 female lawmakers at the time (there are now 33), 28 had experienced sexual harassment or assault. Channel 2 Knesset reporter Daphna Liel dedicated nearly 15 minutes of the prime-time news hour to having nine Israeli MKs tell their stories, ranging from experiencing humiliating comments to assault.

“I never told my mother about this, I’m afraid to see how she’ll react,” MK Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin (Zionist Union) told viewers. “When I was 13 or 14, I was roller skating, and an older man pulled me into a stairwell. He looked down my shirt and said he was looking for pretty girls. It took me years to understand.”

Nahmias-Verbin told another story, about a family friend who inquired about her sex life shortly after her marriage and tried to touch her: “I’ll never forget it; it was such a disgusting experience. I had to push him off me, literally push him, with force, and scream ‘get out of here.’ ”

Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel and MK Anat Berko, both from Likud, recounted being fondled by strange men on buses and being too shocked and afraid to speak out. MK Michal Biran (Zionist Union) was pinched inappropriately by a coworker. Zionist Union MK Ksenia Svetlova said that when she moved to Israel as a teenager, in the wave of immigration from the Former Soviet Union, people would make comments to her and touch her blonde hair, to the point that she would avoid leaving the house and dyed her hair.


The French Peace Initiative: From de Gaulle to Haaretz

When I hear about the current French peace initiative for Israel and the Palestinians, I have to keep pinching myself to make sure that I am not dreaming. After the powerful United States tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully to bring peace between these protagonists, what makes the French think that they can do better?

France’s boldness is particularly shocking, since France long ago lost the right to be considered a friend of Israel. In 1967, French President Charles de Gaulle imposed an arms embargo on Israel when the Jewish nation was under threat from a coalition of Arab countries. In doing so, de Gaulle threw the Jews under the bus in order to improve France’s relations with the Arab world. Thanks to Israeli ingenuity and resiliency, Israel still defeated the Arab coalition in the Six Day War and impressed the United States, which then replaced France as Israel’s main ally.

France’s peace initiative, which includes an international summit in Paris on May 30 to discuss the “parameters” of a peace deal, is French President François Hollande’s equivalent of de Gaulle’s betrayal of Israel. France has already announced that if the peace initiative fails, France will recognize a Palestinian state. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rightly concluded that “this ensures that a conference will fail.”


We Need More Islamophobia, Not Less

The media say President Obama is good at sharing condolences with victims of terrorism. It would be better for him to apologize to the victims and their families. He should start by saying, “I’m sorry that my FBI failed to stop this radical Islamic killer. I bear responsibility for this failure of intelligence.”

Orlando is where we really need an Obama apology tour to begin. In the past, he has apologized to foreigners for American foreign policy. Now he needs to apologize to Americans for allowing a foreign ideology to flourish in the United States, one which he has refused to name and condemn.

On Tuesday, when he rejected a ban on Muslim immigration, Obama said, “The Orlando killer, one of the San Bernardino killers, the Fort Hood killer—they were all U.S. citizens.” What was his point? That the Muslim refugees are not a threat but their children are? Is that supposed to be reassuring? Does it make sense to import more Muslims and let them raise children as Americans who then assume the foreign identity of the jihadists who want to kill us? Is that somehow acceptable? Doesn’t that increase the odds of having more killers on American soil?

Clearly, Obama is gambling with American lives, and Americans are losing their lives as a result. How many more will die, only to be remembered by Obama as he hugs the relatives of the victims?