Monday, July 18, 2005

"Moderate" Muslim leaders condemn terrorism against Londoners, but not against Israelis or Iraqis (BBC News)

As background, it should be noted that the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) is wisely considered the most "moderate" and "mainstream" of the main Muslim umbrella organizations in Britain. (It's true that earlier this year it refused to participate in ceremonies commemorating the liberation of Auschwitz, but moderation is a relative thing.) The Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), one of its affiliates, is a more heavily fundamentalist/Islamist group linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Senior figures of the MAB have openly endorsed the terrorist murder of Israeli civilians. The MAB and others have also hosted and praised some prominent foreign clerics who do likewise, including the notoriously anti-semitic and homophobic theocratic reactionary Yusuf al-Qaradawi.
Well, although Dr Qaradawi has condemned the London suicide bombings unequivocally here when it comes to Israel he says - and I'm quoting here an interview he gave: "We must all realise that the Israeli society is a military society - men and women. We cannot describe the society as civilian...they are not civilians or innocent".

He's also supported the use of child suicide bombers. During a TV debate in the Gulf - according to BBC monitoring - he said: "The Israelis might have nuclear bombs but we have the children bomb and these human bombs must continue until liberation".

Following the BBC report quoted below, the BBC gave a spokesman of the MCB, Inayat Bunglawala, an opportunity to indicate clearly that they do, indeed, reject terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians. The MCB spokesman does not actually go so far as to endorse them--which would sound bad, from a public-relations perspective, right after the London bombings. But even under those circumstances, he firmly and repeatedly refuses to condemn such attacks, and instead finds various ways to evade, confuse, or obscure the issue.
We always condemn the taking of innocent life anywhere. But can I just make it clear here, it's quite misleading to compare the situation here in the UK with that in Israel. [etc., etc.]
The message is clear enough.

Unfortunately, all this is typical, not exceptional. Whenever one reads news reports about Muslim clerics "unequivocally" condemning terrorism and the murder of civilians as un-Islamic, always check to see whether they added explicitly that this condemnation includes attacks on Jewish and Israeli civilians. If not, then the claim that they have "unequivocally" rejected terrorist attacks on civilians should be viewed with skepticism.

--Jeff Weintraub

======================
BBC News
Thursday, 14 July, 2005, 13:52 GMT 14:52 UK

Transcript: John Ware on Muslim Council of Britain

All but a tiny fringe of Muslim organisations in the UK have condemned the London suicide bombings. But are those organisations condemning in London what they are failing to condemn abroad? Panorama reporter John Ware is examining the role of the country's main Muslim organisation, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB).

Here is a transcript of an interview with Mr Ware on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, followed by a response from the Muslim Council of Britain:

Carolyn Quinn: John first, the Muslim Council of Britain's Secretary General is Sir Iqbal Sacranie. He has condemned the London suicide bombings in forthright terms, hasn't he?

John Ware: Yes he has. He says that 'Islam can never justify evil actions of bombers' and he has urged everyone to 'look to our shared values and common humanity,' as he puts it.

Quinn: Two years ago, there were two British suicide bombers, like the London bombers both of Pakistani origin. They went to Tel Aviv to blow up Mike's Bar. Three people were killed. What did Sir Iqbal say then?

Ware: Well, on this occasion, he said that the loss of civilian life, and he mentioned both Palestinian and Israelis, couldn't be condoned. The Islamist group Hamas claimed the bombing. Their founder Sheikh Yassin was later assassinated by the Israelis. Now, what happened then was that, a year or so later, several Muslim organisations here in London held a memorial service for Sheik Yassin at the Central Mosque in Regents Park, and Sir Iqbal chose to attend the service and organisation, the MCB described Sheikh Yassin as "the renowned Islamic scholar."

Quinn: But doesn't Hamas have a political wing?

Ware: It does, although the Israeli government would say that Hamas's political and military agenda was set by Sheikh Yassin. Certainly he was the chief ideologist of an organisation whose charter seeks the destruction of Israel. And Hamas has conducted a fair number of the 160 or so suicide bombing attacks since the second intifada, which have killed over 500 people in total - again many of them civilians just as in London.

Quinn: One senior theologian whose Fatwas have been used to provide justification for suicide bombings directed at Israeli civilians is Dr Yusuf Qaradawi - the man who the mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, welcomed to City Hall last year and described as "moderate".

Ware: Well, although Dr Qaradawi has condemned the London suicide bombings unequivocally here when it comes to Israel he says - and I'm quoting here an interview he gave: "We must all realise that the Israeli society is a military society - men and women. We cannot describe the society as civilian...they are not civilians or innocent".

He's also supported the use of child suicide bombers. During a TV debate in the Gulf - according to BBC monitoring - he said: "The Israelis might have nuclear bombs but we have the children bomb and these human bombs must continue until liberation".

Quinn: What's the Muslim Council of Britain had to say about Dr Qaradawi?

Ware: Like the Hamas leader Sheikh Yassin, the Muslim Council of Britain has also described Dr Qaradawi in fairly flattering terms. They've said he's " a distinguished Muslim scholar...a voice of reason and understanding."

Quinn: What's his position been on Iraq?

Ware: Dr Qaradawi's position on Iraq has supported the resistance which he has described as " valiant". I'm quoting here from the Lebanese National News agency website, where he is reported to have said "We call for material, military and human support ...the Muslims want the scholars to show the Arab and Muslim person's duty is towards this cause." So this, I guess, would imply support for attacks on British soldiers as well as American obviously.

Quinn: One of the Muslim Council's main affiliates is the Muslim Association of Britain which also claims to speak for Muslims here. What have they said about suicide bombings in Israel and Iraq?

Ware: A senior member of the MAB, the Muslim Association of Britain, Dr Azzam Tamimi, has said he supports suicide bombings in Israel. I should stress Dr Tamimi has condemned unequivocally the London bombings but he says that if he got the chance in Israel "I would sacrifice myself it's the straight way to pleasing my God".

Quinn: What has the government said about suicide bombings in Israel?

Ware: The government's position is clear cut: targeting civilians wherever they are is terrorism and Mr Blair has said so in terms. "We want nothing to do with people who support suicide bombers in Palestine or anywhere elsewhere" he has said.

=============

Here is the response from Muslim Council of Britain spokesman Inayat Bunglawala.

Carolyn Quinn: Do you have any thoughts about the rather serious charges John Ware is making, alleging the Muslim Council of Britain never expressly condemns all suicide bombings.

Inayat Bunglawala: Well let me make clear then, once and for all, we condemn the killing of all innocent people, wherever they are. Human lives everywhere are of equal value, whether they are British, American, Iraqi or Palestinian. Jewish lives are not worth more than Palestinian lives. All are worth equal and it's been quite nauseating over the past week to see how Israel and its highly-placed supporters in the media have been trying to make political capital out of last week's atrocities against Londoners. It is shameful on them and shameful on those who are trying to help Israel improve its PR image after the brutalities it commits against the Palestinian people.

Quinn: This is now your chance to answer those charges, whether you failed to condemn in the Middle East what you have now condemned in London.

Bunglawala: We always condemn the taking of innocent life anywhere. But can I just make it clear here, it's quite misleading to compare the situation here in the UK with that in Israel. The 1.6 million Muslims in the UK live in peace. They are free to practice their faith and they are free to go about their daily lives without let or hindrance. The Palestinians, by contrast, live under a very brutal occupation, a very repressive Israeli military occupation, seeing their land every day being gobbled up by illegal Jewish settlements.

Quinn: But that still can't be justification for suicide bombing.

Bunglawala: No it cannot. But many of our own columnists, even members of parliament, have said that if they were Palestinians, if they were living under those conditions, if they were seeing their children humiliated in the way the Israelis humiliate their children, if they saw their children being blown to pieces, they would consider doing what the Palestinians do. Our own parliamentarians have said that. If they can say that, then of course Muslims will feel a greater affinity for the Palestinians.

Quinn: But you are now saying you must not, you should not, do that. That the Koran does not say that that's an acceptable practice.

Bunglawala: Absolutely. The Koran says you cannot take innocent life. But, again, to explain is not to justify. When we try and explain why the Palestinians are being driven to what they are doing it is not to justify it. It's trying to explain why they are doing what they are doing. Even our own parliamentarians have tried to do the same.

Quinn: Ok. Two other very brief points. Sheikh Yassin, the support that Sir Iqbal Sacranie has mentioned for him, as John Ware was saying, was that misguided?

Bunglawala: No it was not. Sheikh Ahmed Yassin is an Islamic scholar, was an Islamic scholar, was renowned throughout the Muslim world as an Islamic scholar and the Israelis assassinated him. Let's remember that. The Israelis broke international law. He was a quadriplegic man, a disabled man. He was coming out of the morning prayers and the Israelis sent F-16 fighter planes and they blew him up.

Quinn: He was the chief ideas man behind an organisation whose charter seeks the destruction of Israel.

Bunglawala: Well, just wait, if Israel claims to be a democracy, which it does at every opportunity, then it should bring people to justice by the courts of law, not blow them up by missiles.

Quinn: Ok, and the other person mentioned, a senior member of the Muslim Association of Britain, Dr Azzam Tamimi, whose said he supports suicide bombings in Israel. Now that group is one of your main affiliates.

Bunglawala: Well, the Muslim Council of Britain has over 400 affiliates.

Quinn (interrupting): So what do you say to them?

Bunglawala: There is a whole range of Muslim organisations. If he makes that comment he should answer for that.

Quinn: Well can't you cut him off?

Bunglawala: Well, Dr Azzam himself is a Palestinian. I can understand why he feels such pain for the Palestinians and why he can understand why others are driven to what they are doing. Dr Azzam Tamimi again, is respected. If our own parliamentarians can say they can understand why Palestinians are doing this, of course other Palestinians themselves will express similar feelings.

Quinn: But if your message now is one of solidarity here in Britain and that you are condemning suicide bombings across the world, then wouldn't a strong message be to cut off affiliation with people like that, to say you no longer can be regarded as one of us.

Bunglawala: No, then we would have to throw out our own members of parliament. I think what Dr Azzam is doing is trying to explain...

Quinn (interrupting): What do you mean? They've all been...are you talking about the members of parliament here?

Bunglawala: Yes, they've said they could understand. I mean, we have had Jenny Tonge, a senior member of the Liberal Democrats, Cherie Blair, the prime minister's wife, explaining why she could understand why the Palestinians are doing what they are doing. So this is not to justify...

Quinn: It is not condoning...

Bunglawala: It is not condoning. No, it's not condoning. It's trying to explain why they do what they do.

======================

Boston Globe
July 16, 2005

Muslim scholars condemn London attack

LONDON --Muslim leaders and scholars condemned the London bombings Friday but stopped short of criticizing all suicide attacks, with some of them saying those targeting occupying forces are sometimes justified.

The 22 imams and scholars meeting at London's largest mosque said in a joint statement that the perpetrators of the subway blasts had violated the Quran by killing innocent civilians and that no one should consider them martyrs.

In a later press conference, the conferees were repeatedly asked if they also condemn suicide bombings in countries such as Iraq and Israel.

"There should be a clear distinction between the suicide bombing of those who are trying to defend themselves from occupiers, which is something different from those who kill civilians, which is a big crime," said Sayed Mohammed Musawi, the head of the World Islamic League in London.

"The media in the West are mixing the difference between these two, and the result is that some of our Muslim youth are becoming more frustrated and they think that both are the same, even though Muslim law forbids killing any innocent lives," Musawi said.

All the leaders at the news conference appeared to agree with Musawi.

Both Prime Minister Tony Blair's office and the Defense Ministry declined to comment on the remarks, saying they had seen neither the statement or heard the comments.

In their statement condemning the London bombings, the imams and scholars said the terrorism by a small group of radicals had victimized Muslims around the world by raising "Islamophobia" among the general public.

"We are firmly of the view that these killings had absolutely no sanction in Islam, nor is there any justification whatsoever in our noble religion for such evil actions. It is our understanding that those who carried out the bombings in London should in no sense be regarded as martyrs," the statement said.

It urged all Muslims and non-Muslims to help authorities investigate the crime and to punish those who helped plan it.

The statement also said that racism, unemployment and economic deprivation that Muslims face in poor sections of cities such as Leeds -- where three of the suspected bombers lived -- "may be alienating some of our children and driving them toward the path of anger and desperation" in ways that are prohibited by Islam.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

[Fwd] Unite Against Terror in London, Baghdad, and Israel

I just signed this statement, Unite Against Terror, put together by several left-of-center British academics and political activists associated with Labour Friends of Iraq and, in some cases, "Engage". I recommend that other people consider signing it as well.

'Organisers Jane Ashworth, Alan Johnson and Simon Pottinger said "Those who sign the statement are saying no to terror. We are calling time on apologists like Tariq Ali who says terror is 'not a pretty thing' but must be supported against 'imperialism'. We dont think the slaughter of 24 Iraqi children last week was a blow against 'imperialism'. We don't think the murder of two 16 year-old girls in Netanya was a blow against imperialism. Nor the senseless death of 54 Londoners. Enough is enough. We hope to link together ordinary people under terrorist attack, from Israel to London to Baghdad, in the name of a common humanity, human rights and justice".

Even if you don't like signing on-line statements and petitions, or you consider it an empty gesture with no practical point (which it often is) ... I nevertheless want to pass on this statement and urge you to read it, since what it says strikes me as correct and important.

I do have one quibble. The statement notes that "Muslim community leaders [in Britain] have condemned the London attacks unequivocally." Everything I've read indicates that this is correct. However, it is only fair to add that when it comes to terrorist attacks against Iraqi civilians, they tend to be much more ambiguous. And as far as I'm aware, very few (if any) significant "Muslim community leaders" in Britain have unequivocally condemned the terrorist murder of Israeli civilians. But this doesn't affect the main thrust of the statement.

A selection of early names on the signature list includes the following (from Britain, Iraq, Australia, the US, Sweden, France, and elsewhere):


Brian Brivati (Professor of Modern History, Kingston University, London, personal capacity)
Ahmed (http://iraqiexpat.blogspot.com)
Omar (Iraq the Model)
Peter Tatchell [prominent human-rights campaigner]
Alan Johnson (Westmorland and Lonsdale Labour Party, UK)
Hak Mao (Australia, blogger)
Christopher Hitchens
Oliver Kamm (Columnist, The Times)
Debbie Williams (Transport and General Workers Union, UK, personal capacity)
Micheline Ishay (Director, International Human Rights Program, University of Denver, personal capacity)
Osama Al-Moosawi (Iraq)
Harry (Harry's Place blog)
Gary Kent (Director Labour Friends of Iraq, UK, personal capacity)
Merlijn de Smit (Sweden)
Nick Cohen (The Observer)
Pierre-André Taguieff (France, CNRS Research Director)
Shalom Lappin (King's College London, UK)


Yours for political sanity,
Jeff Weintraub

Friday, July 15, 2005

Theodorakis's Jewish problem (2004)

In light of some recent events, it may be worth recalling a notorious speech by the famous Greek composer, political activist, and former member of parliament & government minister Mikis Theodorakis in November 2003. Theodorakis, of course, is no ordinary musician (or obscure blowhard). He is a major cultural and political icon, not just in Greece but in Europe as a whole ... and the sentiments he expressed in this speech seemed common-sensical enough that no one in the audience (which included high officials in the Greek government) thought to object.:
We are two nations without brothers in the world, us [Greeks] and the Jews, but they have fanaticism and are forceful. ....

Today we can say that this small nation [i.e., the Jews--not Israel] is the root of evil, not of good....
--------------------

=> Theodorakis in a 2004 interview (with Ari Shavit of Haaretz), trying to "explain":
Question: Mr. Theodorakis, on November 4, 2003 you said in this house the words that shocked Jews and non-Jews across the world. You said that the Jewish people are at the root of evil. What did you mean?

Answer: "For me the root of evil today is the policy of President Bush. It is a fascist policy. I cannot understand how is it that the Jewish people, who have been the victims of Nazism, can support such a fascist policy. No other people in the world support those policies but Israel! This situation saddens me. I am a friend of Israel. I am a friend of the Jewish people. But the policy of Sharon and the support for the policy of Bush darkens the image of Israel. I am afraid that Sharon is going to lead the Jews - just as Hitler led the Germans - to the root of evil."

Even today, 10 months later, you don't think you made a mistake when you uttered those words?

"No, but it's important for me to emphasize that I never said that the Jews are the root of evil. I said they are at the root of evil."

So you have no regrets?

"No. And I was very much hurt by the Jewish reaction to what I said. It was not a civilized reaction. I got hundreds and hundreds of poisonous e-mails from Jews all over the world. I couldn't understand this hatred toward me. I fought against racism all my life. I was for Israel. I wrote "Mauthausen." After all that, how could I become from one day to the next an anti-Semite?"

Let me explain to you the context for this reaction. Many Jews have a renewed fear of Europe. We are afraid that there is a new kind of anti-Semitism in Europe. So when you said what you said there was a feeling of thou too, Brutus. There was a feeling that even our old friend Theodorakis turned against us.

"I don't believe there is anti-Semitism in Europe. There is a reaction against the policy of Sharon and Bush. I think it's artificial to think there is a new anti-Semitism. It's an excuse. It's a way to avoid self-criticism. Rather than ask themselves what is wrong with the policy of Israel, Jews say the Europeans are against us because of the new anti-Semitism. Because they don't love us. And even Theodorakis says we are at the root of evil. This is a sick reaction."

Why? In what way is it a sick reaction?

"Because this kind of reaction is relevant to the psychopathology of the Jewish people. They want to feel victims. They want to have this comforting feeling. We are in the right, we are again victims. Let's create another ghetto. It's a masochistic reaction."

The Jews are masochists?

"There is psychological masochism in the Jewish tradition."

Is there sadism as well?

"I'm certain that when Diaspora Jews talk among themselves, they feel satisfied. They feel that now, when we are so close to the greatest power in the world, no one can do anything to us. We can do whatever we like. This is why the claim of new anti-Semitism is not only a sick reaction, it's a sly reaction as well."

In what way is it sly?

"Because it really allows the Jews to do whatever they want. Not only psychologically, but also politically, it gives the Jews an excuse. The sense of victimhood. It gives them a license to hide the truth. There is no Jewish problem in Europe today. There is no anti-Semitism."
[....]
"... [I]n the Jews' battle for self-defense they became distinguished. There are 200 Jews who won Nobel prizes. Christ, Marx and Einstein were Jewish. The Jews offered so much to science, art and music. They hold world finance in their hands. So it's only natural that they would see themselves as very strong. This gives them a feeling of superiority."

The Jews have international finance in their hands?

"They control a great deal of the world's finances."

So today's globalized capitalism is controlled very much by the Jews?

"Since we speak frankly, I will tell you something else. The Jewish people control most of the big symphonic orchestras in the world. When I wrote the Palestinian national anthem, the Boston Symphony was planning a production of my work. It is controlled by Jewish people. They didn't allow the concert to go on. Since then I cannot work with any great orchestra. They refuse me."

You ran into this problem with other orchestras too?

"Wherever there are Jews. Wherever there are orchestras controlled by Jewish people, they boycott my work."

You really feel Jews control much of the music world?

"Yes."

And the same applies to world finance?

"In America the Jewish community is very strong. It controls much of the economy. Certainly the mass media.

"Let me make myself clear: When the State of Israel was established, we were on the side of Israel. There was great sympathy toward Zionism because of what they suffered in the war. This is one side of the Jews. But the international Jewish community is also a negative phenomena [sic]. The Jewish people now appear to control the big banks. And often the governments. So whatever bad or evil comes from the governments, it's natural for ordinary people to associate that with the Jewish people."

You yourself think that the Jews, the international Jewish community, have control of the banks, Wall Street, the mass media?

"Yes."

And you say that now, through its influence on Bush, it has control of world affairs?

"Yes."

What is the Jewish influence on the Bush policy?

"I believe that the war in Iraq and the aggressive attitude toward Iran is greatly influenced by the Israeli secret services."

The Jews have so much power that they can direct the policy of the world's only superpower?

"There is a group of Jews who surround Bush and control the policy of the United States."

So the Jews pull the strings behind Bush?

"No. They are in the front."

America, the great superpower, is actually controlled today by the Jews?

"Yes."

[....]
Let us go a bit deeper. Let us go back in time. When you were a child, before the Holocaust, what were your impressions of the Jews?

"The Jews of Greece were not different from the Greeks. They were entirely Greek. They loved their work and loved their family. At school they were the best. Good friends, good neighbors. No problems."

But there must have been something problematic as well. They were the other. They were different.

"The Jews were picturesque. I remember that for the old women, the Jews were the ones that crucified Christ!

"In 1932 I was in Ioannina. There was a very big Jewish community there. I played with the Jewish boys all the time. My grandmother was very religious. She had a room full of icons. She sang psalms. Much of my music was influenced by her religious singing. And I remember that in springtime she said to me: Now that it's Easter, don't go to the Jewish quarter. Because during Easter the Jews put Christian boys in a barrel with knives inside. Afterward they drink their blood."

Was this story imprinted in your young mind?

"It was a very powerful image. Years later, before I became a communist, I was a member of a fascist youth movement. It was a state-sponsored movement during the dictatorship of Ioannis Metaxas. We walked up and down the streets in uniform and heiled all the time. It was a bit like the Hitler Youth but comical. One day they gave me an assignment: to talk the next day about communism. I went home and asked my mother what is communism. She said she didn't know but she thinks it's something evil. What kind of evil, I asked. Evil like the Jews, she said. So I asked her if the communists also put little boys in barrels with knives and drink their blood.

"What do I want to say by telling you all this? These things exist. I wasn't aware of it before, but now, through your questions, I realize it is there."
=> Commentary seems almost superfluous ... but some commentary (from 2004) is below. (See also this Ha'aretz editorial, which is cogent and on-target.)

Cheers,
Jeff Weintraub

===========================

-------- Original Message --------

Subject: Theodorakis's Jewish problem
Date: Mon, 30 Aug 2004 15:08:20 -0400
From: Jeff Weintraub
To: X

Hi X,

If you haven't seen it yet, it's worth reading Ari Shavit's recent interview with Theodorakis in Ha'aretz--not only because Theodorakis himself is an important figure , but because it seems clear that his statements illustrate some wider patterns (and pathologies) in current European thinking about "the Jews."

I found this interview fascinating (also bizarre, infuriating, alarming, and in some places disgusting--but still fascinating and illuminating at a number of levels). The undercurrents of psychological ambivalence, contradiction, and denial regarding Jews reminded me in some ways of the hero of Gregor von Rezzori's novel Memoirs of an Anti-Semite, with which I trust you're familiar.

One of the more bizarre elements of the interview was Theodorakis's repeated claim that, after he had made these blatantly anti-semitic statements, he was shocked and hurt when a lot of Jews got upset (due to the well-known "psychopathology of the Jewish people") ... and what is even more bizarre (and significant) is that, at some level, I suspect he was genuinely surprised. As someone else said to me:

[X responded, in part:
I agree with what you say about Theodorakis; it is bizarre - almost like a caricature written by a Jew to lampoon an anti-Semite in denial. What also interested me about it, though, is how close it is, its bizarre features notwithstanding, to some of the 'shufflings' one hears these days from serious people who should know better. ]
As I ponder this socio-psychologically complex and illuminating discussion, one small point does puzzle me a bit. Theodorakis tries to "clarify" one formulation in his original November 2003 speech by drawing a linguistic distinction whose significance is not immediately obvious (at least, in English):
"No, but it's important for me to emphasize that I never said that the Jews are the root of evil. I said they are at the root of evil."
It's clear that Theodorakis believes that saying the Jews are "the root of evil" and saying the Jews are "at the root of evil" is different in some significant way, and that the second formulation is somehow more benign. If I understand correctly, the "root of evil" in the world today is the Bush administration--and the Jews run the Bush administration (along with everything else). If so, then can Theodorakis really be unaware that this kind of claim is an example of classic political anti-semitism? But this is partly speculation.

Of course, whatever he has in mind, no possible "clarification" of this line affects the anti-semitic drivel that pervades his entire discussion. But I can't help feeling curious. It might help to have the original speech in Greek. (Not that I know Greek myself, but I could show this passage to people who do--including my wife.) Have you seen a copy of the original speech in Greek, by any chance?

Shalom,
Jeff Weintraub
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Harry's Place (a mostly-British democratic-left group weblog)
Posted by Gene at August 30, 2004 12:10 AM | TrackBack

August 30, 2004
Theodorakis and the Jews

Last November I linked to a report on a bizarre antisemitic rant by the famous Greek composer and anti-fascist Mikis Theodorakis.

Now, on the occasion of the Athens Olympics, Haaretz writer Ari Shavit has met with Theodorakis for a series of interviews. The result is, in many ways, even more troubling than the original report.

Theodorakis basically reaffirms his antisemitism while protesting his innocence of it and proclaiming, "I am a true friend of the Jewish people."

There's something about this sneaky mixture of love and hate, admiration and resentment of "the Jews" that is even more infuriating than flat-out antisemitism. And, I suspect, far more common.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Nat Hentoff on Darfur - What are we waiting for? (Village Voice)

The veteran independent-left journalist Nat Hentoff, who has been actively concerned for more than a decade with the many dimensions of the long-term Sudanese catastrophe, once again gets it right on Darfur:

Nicholas Kristof, after showing grisly photographs of the genocide in the February 23 New York Times, wrote: "What will really stop this genocide is indignation." And he quoted the late Illinois senator Paul Simon after corpses had filled the rivers in Rwanda:
"If every member of the House and Senate had received 100 letters from people back home saying we have to do something about Rwanda, when the crisis was first developing, then I think the response would have been different."

Now, as polarized as this nation is, if the evangelicals and other Christian activists in the Bush base were to join with George Soros and the other billionaires financing moveon.org and other such liberal engines of mass information, even the media—to which Darfur is not at all a priority—would also insistently spread the word of these horrors. [....]

To hell with again lamenting "never again" when millions will have been destroyed in Darfur. [....] The International Crisis Group's new Zogby poll reveals, says Kristof, that "Americans [by] six to one favor bolder action in Darfur." What are we waiting for?

This last question is directed to Americans, as it should be. But others should take it seriously, too--especially those of you who are citizens of western European countries, whose governments have so far done even less than the US government to try to halt the Darfur atrocity. What are we all waiting for?

--Jeff Weintraub

===========================

Village Voice
July 5th, 2005 12:29 PM

Bush Averts His Eyes
With rape as an official weapon in Darfur, Sudan officials are now welcome here
by Nat Hentoff

Refugees fleeing . . . from a village called Saleya described how nine boys were seized by the janjaweed, stripped naked and tied up, their noses and ears cut off and their eyes gouged out. They were then shot dead and left near a public well. Nicholas Kristof, reporting from Sudan about the genocide in Darfur ("Uncover Your Eyes," The New York Times, June 7)

I took Nicholas D. Kristof's advice and wrote to both of my United States senators [Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton]. When I went to their Web sites, I was asked to pick from a drop-down list of about 50 topics. . . . Nowhere was there anything that would be a good category to address the genocide in Darfur. Eliav Bock of New York City in a letter to The New York Times, February 24


When I was 12, in the Jewish ghetto of Boston—at the time, a chronically anti-Semitic city—I heard on the radio, to which I was addicted, about Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass, when in Germany and Austria the windows of thousands of Jewish stores and homes were shattered; 100 Jews were murdered; 30,000 were arrested and were to end up in concentration camps. The Holocaust had begun.

I figured then that if I were a boy in Germany, I'd never be an adult. Years later, after that holocaust was over, Elie Wiesel, a survivor of the Nazis' genocide, wrote in his memoir Night: "How could it be possible for them to burn people, children, and for the world to keep silent?" I had the same question, with no answer.

The question has often reverberated for me, particularly in 1994 when the world was silent as 800,000 were massacred in Rwanda because Kofi Annan, then head of the peacekeeping operations at the U.N., absolutely refused, though he had advance warning, to send more troops. And Clinton administration officials ordered the State Department, while that swift genocide was going on, not to use the word genocide, because then the United States would have to do something to stop it.

Unlike Rwanda, where the killing ended in 100 days, the world has known about Darfur for two years. More than 400,000 black Muslim Africans have been slaughtered or have died of disease. And as Eric Reeves, the premier historian of this genocide, wrote on June 1 (sudanreeves.org), "The case for international humanitarian intervention remains as clear as ever. Without such intervention, hundreds of thousands of Darfuris will die in the coming months and years, compounding the staggering catastrophe and moral failure to date." (Emphasis added.)

Khartoum insists it will not cooperate with the International Criminal Court's investigation of the war crimes in Darfur, and although there are purported "peace" negotiations under way between Sudan's government and Darfurian rebel groups, Khartoum has violated every agreement it has signed—while the killings go on.

Bush has lost interest in the relentless destruction of these black Africans because, as the June 7 Financial Times reported, "US officials say Sudan is [now] a valuable partner [with the United States] in the 'global war on terror.'"

Accordingly, on June 4, Sudan's maximum murderer, President Omar Bashir, said on state-owned television (there's an independent channel?) that there has been "a positive change" in the American position on Darfur.

On the Sudan Tribune website, the same dispatch adds that when U.S. deputy secretary of state Robert Zoellick met in Khartoum on June 3 with Sudan foreign minister Moustafa Osman Ismail, they "agreed for a Sudanese delegation to visit Washington soon to discuss bilateral relations in more detail in order to restore relations between the two countries." (Emphasis added.)

Franklin D. Roosevelt was far too slow to recognize and condemn Hitler's Holocaust—thereby having been complicit in the slaughter of many Jews and other "impure" victims—but at least FDR didn't warmly act "to restore relations" with Hitler.

Even now, with the comradely warm relationship between the CIA, Bush, and Khartoum, will Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton, for so long indifferent to the genocide in Darfur, object? Will Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Howard Dean, and others in what passes for the Democratic leadership get themselves arrested at Washington's Sudanese embassy?

Nicholas Kristof, after showing grisly photographs of the genocide in the February 23 New York Times, wrote: "What will really stop this genocide is indignation." And he quoted the late Illinois senator Paul Simon after corpses had filled the rivers in Rwanda:

"If every member of the House and Senate had received 100 letters from people back home saying we have to do something about Rwanda, when the crisis was first developing, then I think the response would have been different."

Now, as polarized as this nation is, if the evangelicals and other Christian activists in the Bush base were to join with George Soros and the other billionaires financing moveon.org and other such liberal engines of mass information, even the media—to which Darfur is not at all a priority—would also insistently spread the word of these horrors.

Eric Reeves, Nicholas Kristof, and others would be an invaluable source of specific information for them on these crimes against humanity, including what Kristof wrote in detail from Sudan on June 5 about Khartoum's "systematic campaign of rape to terrorize civilians and drive them from 'Arab lands'—a policy of rape" that includes banning rape kits. (Emphasis added.)

During the Nazi Holocaust, there were attempts to awaken this nation to those horrors, but though admirable, they were too little and too late. To hell with again lamenting "never again" when millions will have been destroyed in Darfur. George W. Bush should not be allowed to keep his eyes averted. The International Crisis Group's new Zogby poll reveals, says Kristof, that "Americans [by] six to one favor bolder action in Darfur." What are we waiting for?