Thursday, March 31, 2011

Weinstein/Schnabel UN Ploy Couldn't Lift Miral's Box Office

 Just for fun check out Elder of Ziyon's riff on the Miral 
poster that asks: 'Is this the face of a terrorist?'

Miral (2011) - International Box Office Results - Box Office Mojo: I'm rotten, I know, but this is another schadenfreude moment for me. Yes, I'm harping on about this, but for all its publicity, all the "movie they tried to stop" nonsense, all those celebs and diplomats mixing it at the UN, NY Times ads depicting a barbed-wire star of David, all the interviews given by Schnabel about how his film will open up a much-needed dialogue; all of that and still no box office to show for it. For Schnabel it may not be a big deal, but for Weinstein? Ouch. So, let it be a lesson: next time you want to peddle a mediocre film consider going straight to video instead of trying to play to the anti-Israel zeitgeist. It doesn't seem to pay.

So, the numbers so far:
Domestic Total as of Mar. 30, 2011: $84,797 (4 theaters)

Country Total Gross As Of Release Date
  • France and Algeria, Monaco, Morocco and Tunisia - released 9/15/10 - $145,944
  • Germany - released - 11/18/10 - $87,162
  • Italy - released 10/13/10 - $240,435 
  • United Arab Emirates - released 2/3/11 - $16,935
  • United Kingdom and Ireland and Malta - released 2/12/11 - $35,813

International Total: $527,227 (since first opening date of 9/15/10)

Not a great response in North Africa and United Arab Emirates. Why aren't they clamoring to see a film from the Palestinian perspective?

In comparison, Schnabel's The Diving Bell and The Butterfly, which opened in NY without all this hoopla, grossed $75,721 during its first weekend in 3 theaters. Just saying...

** Update: in an article in Daily Caller, Schnabel contends that "there’s a plan to undermine this thing because people wish that it would go away.” Hmm... conspiracy theory. Now where have I heard that before? For more, read this.

Confirmed: Hamas and Hezbollah Site Weapons in Densely Populated Civilian Areas

AP photo: Gaza weapons factory blast hurts 50 civilians. 

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights, as reported in the NY Times, accuses Hamas of building the weaponry it uses against Israel in the middle of densely populated civilian areas. Running a series of assertions in the midst of their mostly Israel-blasting posts, the PCHR , "...said that it had investigated recent rocket explosions and found that locally produced projectiles had fallen on homes in Gaza or exploded in factories where they were made or stored. Shrapnel severely wounded several people, including a 22-year-old woman and her 7-month-old baby.

"It called on the Hamas government, which controls Gaza, to investigate “and take measures to protect Palestinians and their property.” It added that “members of the Palestinian resistance continue to store explosives or to treat such explosives in locations close to populated areas.”
'“This poses a major threat to the lives of the Palestinian civilians,” it said.
"Israel has long accused Hamas and other groups of endangering Palestinian civilians by carrying out militant activities in densely populated areas.
"Hamdi Shaqura of the rights center said conducting such investigations was risky in Gaza. Militant groups generally deny responsibility. He noted that the Hamas Interior Ministry Web site blamed Israel for the landing of what were locally produced rockets on Palestinian targets."
In a related story, Israel released a map of South Lebanon showing over 1,000 underground bunkers, weapons storage facilities and monitoring sites built by the militant Hezbollah guerrillas.
Part of map released by Israel showing military installations
scattered among villages in South Lebanon

As Haaretz reports, "Israeli intelligence officials believe that the 550 underground bunkers identified have been stocked with weapons transferred from Syria since the 2006 Second Lebanon War, according to the report. The map obtained by the Washington Post also details 300 surveillance sites and 100 other facilities Israel believes belong to Hezbollah militants.
"The map indicates Israel's deep concern regarding relations between Syria and Hezbollah, according to the Washington Post, which cites Israeli officials as having said in interviews that most of Hezbollah’s weapons are secretly transferred from arms depots near Damascus to facilities in southern Lebanon.
"The Washington Post surmised that in releasing the map, the Israel Defense Forces was making a preemptive bid to dispel condemnation of any future Israeli attacks on civilian areas marked in the map.
"A senior Israeli commander told the Washington Post that Israel's interest in providing those details was "to show the world that the Hezbollah organization has turned these villages into fighting zones."

H/T: JG, Caesarea

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Time Out

I don't know how the great bloggers do it, but this week is fraught with all sorts of personal and business issues so I need to take a break from blogging. In the meantime, though, have a look at a great video posted on Daphne Anson's site: Douglas Murray, speaking at Royal Holloway College, University of London, asks, "Are we too critical of Israel?"

Monday, March 28, 2011

Nir Rosen's Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weenie LSE Gig

Nir Rosen resigns from LSE, after two days | The Jewish Chronicle

A little schadenfreude on a gloomy Monday: Nir Rosen, famous for his nasty Twitter comment about Lara Logan's attack in Egypt had to give up his unpaid fellowship at the London School of Economics just two days after boasting of his appointment (guess where), precisely because of that remark. Did he think the news wouldn't follow him to London?

Nir Rosen, star of the anti-Zionist left.

Unfortunately, he will probably land on his feet again because he is a star of the anti-Zionist sub-intelligentsia. He will have gone down for his Lara Logan snafu but, I have no doubt, glorified by some for a more egregious statement made in the ever-awful webzine, Counterpunch: "I find myself in the unique and painful position of calling for international sanctions against Israel and wondering if a punitive bombing of Tel Aviv, the city I love, until it complies with international law, might be a good (albeit quixotic) idea." Given that some in Norway are proposing bombing Israel a la Libya should it be provoked into action by Hamas rocket-fire, I wouldn't be surprised if this idea soon catches fire. 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Argentina Ready to Forget Iran's Bombing of Jewish Center

The AMIA Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires: 85 killed,
more than 300 injured.

From Haaretz: "In secret negotiations with Iran, Argentina has offered to "forget" the bombings of the Israeli embassy and the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, in 1992 and 1994, respectively, in exchange for improved relations between the two countries."

Further: "According to the Argentine weekly Perfil, which broke the story yesterday, Foreign Minister Hector Timerman is personally involved in the talks. The Argentinean Foreign Ministry has so far declined comment."

"According to the article, Timerman made the offer via Syrian President Bashar Asad and Foreign Minister, Walid Moallem, who were brought in as mediators."

To recap what happened: "In the 1992 embassy bombing, 29 people were killed and 242 were injured. In the bombing at the AMIA Jewish community center, two years later, 85 people were killed and more than 300 were injured."

Read the rest here.

Stephen Walt Pats Himself on the Back for 'The Israel Lobby'...Again

Mearsheimer and Walt protecting the White House

Stephen Walt's latest Foreign Policy post asks, Did The Israel Lobby Change Anything? I'm going to leave to smarter critics than I to answer this but I do have one particular takeaway from his self-congratulatory reflections. Nowhere in the article does he mention the main reason The Israel Lobby received so much negative attention: the spurious thesis that “the Israel lobby ... played a key role in the decision to invade Iraq in 2003.” And it was this thesis that led to the charges that Walt and Mearsheimer were sailing awfully close to the ideas promulgated in The Elders of Zion -- that Jewish power is omnipresent.

In a response to Walt's re-assertion of this claim last year, John Judis has a rather good article worth reading in its entirety: Rinse,Wash, Repeat: For the last time, Stephen Walt, Israel did not send the U.S. and Britain into Iraq.

Instead, in this year’s self-pat, Walt takes credit for ‘opening up the discussion about Israel’ within the Jewish community. He credits The Israel Lobby for birthing J Street, Jewish Voices for Peace and for opening up the space for David Remnick’s and Peter Beinart’s critical articles about Israel and American Jews. You would think the Jews were waiting for permission to start arguing.

What he also doesn’t mention is his partner, John Mearsheimer’s more audacious opening up of the space to speak of Good Jews and Bad Jews as he did in his speech at the Palestine Center The Future of Palestine: Righteous Jews vs. New Afrikaners.” Good Jews being those anti-Zionists, the bad, obviously, Israel’s supporters. And he named names:

“Righteous Jews have a powerful attachment to core liberal values…..To give you a better sense of what I mean when I use the term righteous Jews, let me give you some names of people and organizations that I would put in this category. The list would include Noam Chomsky, Roger Cohen, Richard Falk, Norman Finkelstein, Tony Judt, Tony Karon, Naomi Klein, MJ Rosenberg, Sara Roy, and Philip Weiss of Mondoweiss fame, just to name a few. I would also include many of the individuals associated with J Street and everyone associated with Jewish Voice for Peace, as well as distinguished international figures such as Judge Richard Goldstone. Furthermore, I would apply the label to the many American Jews who work for different human rights organizations, such as Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch.
“On the other side we have the new Afrikaners, who will support Israel even if it is an apartheid state…..I would classify most of the individuals who head the Israel lobby’s major organizations as new Afrikaners. That list would include Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, David Harris of the American Jewish Committee, Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Ronald Lauder of the World Jewish Congress, and Morton Klein of the Zionist Organization of America, just to name some of the more prominent ones. I would also include businessmen like Sheldon Adelson, Lester Crown, and Mortimer Zuckerman as well as media personalities like Fred Hiatt and Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post, Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal, and Martin Peretz of the New Republic. It would be easy to add more names to this list.”
So, five years after publication, The Israel Lobby has made Jew-baiting quite the intellectual option, hasn't it?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Harvard Also Fell For Asma al-Assad's Charm Offensive

Asma al-Assad addressing the 6th Arab World Conference of
Harvard Arab Alumni Association

Before it hit the fan, Syria's Assads -- with Asma serving as the patron-saint -- had been very busy building a facade of growing movement towards progressive, democratic reform and apparently lots of highly educated folks bought into it. 

In January, 2010 Asma (is that a Valentino she's wearing?) convened a conference for the Syria Trust for Development about "the emerging role of civil society in development." As reported in Harvard's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs website, Mme. Assad, "...opened the conference by declaring that the state wanted to open more space for civil society to work, develop and partner with the government in designing and implementing development-oriented policies. We will learn from our mistakes, she said, and a law will be passed soon -- after consultations with civil society -- to provide non-governmental organizations the safeguards they need to operate effectively. She challenged them, for their part, to rise to the occasion and achieve higher levels of efficacy and professionalism. Her overall theme of partnership reflected a realization that the government alone could not provide all the expertise or services needed to develop the country at the pace that its citizens expect." You couldn't make this up if you tried.

Then, just a couple of weeks ago, Syria hosted a conference of Harvard's Arab Alumni with Asma leading the event. In a fantastic post, Syria's Charming Offensive, on Reuters blog site, Chrystia Freeland nails the Harvard for its willful blindness especially given that, "On Wednesday, the day before the planned Harvard alumni event, security officers beat and detained a group of nonviolent demonstrators who gathered to call for the release of the estimated 3,000 to 4,000 political prisoners in the country.

Freeland then goes on: "On its Web site earlier this week, the Harvard Arab Alumni Association highlighted its connection with the dictator’s wife: ‘‘We are greatly honored to hold our Arab World Conference under the esteemed patronage of Her Excellency Mrs. Asma al-Assad, The First Lady of Syria, and are privileged that Her Excellency will deliver the conference’s keynote address. A thought-provoking, inspiring and tireless leader and advocate, the First Lady’s address will certainly be the highlight of our event.’’
The Web site was enthusiastic about Mrs. Assad’s role in Syrian national life and the connection between her work and that of her husband’s regime: ‘‘In her role as Syria’s first lady, Her Excellency Asma al-Assad applies her experience, energy and influence to her country’s social and cultural development. Her role reflects the significant economic, political and social change that is happening in Syria today. Asma al-Assad’s work supports that of President Bashar al-Assad by fostering the emergence of a robust, independent and self-sustaining civil society.’’
As Martin Kramer wrote on his Facebook page, "Harvard didn't get the Arab-dictators-are-no-longer-cuddly memo. Harvard Arab alumni are meeting in Damascus, "Under the Patronage of H.E. Mrs. Asma al-Assad, The First Lady of Syria." And who's showing up? "We are honored that Harvard Vice Provost for International Affairs, Prof. Jorge Dominguez, will be joining us in Damascus to deliver the Harvard Guest Address." Libya, Syria... Despots don't faze Harvard."

We've already reported Vogue's preposterous puff piece about Asma. But it seems that that academics are even more vulnerable to certain types of flattery. Just as the London School of Economics fell for the 'new & improved' Gadaffis, Harvard fell for the Laboutin wearing Asma al-Assad.

Here is how Harvard alum, Charles Jacobs' of the American Anti-Slavery Group put in a letter to the editor of WJS referenced in the website of The Reform Party of Syria :

"Not only has Asma al-Assad, wife of the brutal Syrian dictator, charmed the editors of Vogue, it looks like she's also captivated fair Harvard. Under Mrs. al-Assad's patronage, Harvard's Alumni Association is sponsoring a conference in Damascus on March 17, at the posh Four Seasons Hotel. The university's vice provost for international affairs, Prof. Jorge I. Dominguez, will deliver the Harvard guest address.

"At a time when the peoples all across the Middle East are risking their lives to be free of tyranny, why in the world would Harvard partner with a ruling family that has brutally dominated Syria for 40 years and runs a country on the State Department's terror list? Since the al-Assad family took power in 1970, a state of emergency has remained in effect that gives security forces sweeping powers of arrest and detention. 

"Syria, a one-party state with no free elections, harasses and imprisons human-rights activists and other critics of the government. The most basic human freedoms-of expression, association and assembly-are strictly controlled. Indeed, Facebook, which has functioned as a tool for liberation across the region, is blocked by the Assad regime.

"Clearly today Harvard would not sponsor events with the Ben Alis of Tunisia, the Mubaraks of Egypt or the Gadhafi clan. Must Harvard administrators witness a bloody revolt by Syria's freedom-starved people to withdraw from the embrace of a tyrant?"

NY Times 'Duh' Story: Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood Takes the Lead

Yusuf Al Qaradawi's return to Egypt was received rapturously
in Tahrir Squre

Against all the fatuous predictions by its commentators, The NY Times' Michael Stackman reports this morning: "In post-revolutionary Egypt, where hope and confusion collide in the daily struggle to build a new nation, religion has emerged as a powerful political force, following an uprising that was based on secular ideals. The Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group once banned by the state, is at the forefront, transformed into a tacit partner with the military government that many fear will thwart fundamental changes."

Further: "In the early stages of the revolution, the Brotherhood was reluctant to join the call for demonstrations. It jumped in only after it was clear that the protest movement had gained traction. Throughout, the Brotherhood kept a low profile, part of a survival instinct honed during decades of repression by the state.
"The question at the time was whether the Brotherhood would move to take charge with its superior organizational structure. It now appears that it has.
'“The Brotherhood didn’t want this revolution; it has never been a revolutionary movement,” said Mr. Zarwan of the International Crisis Group. “Now it has happened; they participated cautiously, and they realize they can set their sights higher.”'
For all those who pooh-poohed the fears -- expressed by Israel and other less-than-infatuated observers -- that the Muslim Brotherhood was just biding its time, this reality bites straight into their naiveté. It seems that the reason the MB folks were keeping a low profile was they were simply hedging their bets, not because they had no interest in power. Slackman tries very hard to tone down the alarm:
"This is not to say that the Brotherhood is intent on establishing an Islamic state. From the first days of the protests, Brotherhood leaders proclaimed their dedication to religious tolerance and a democratic and pluralist form of government. They said they would not offer a candidate for president, that they would contest only a bit more than a third of the total seats in Parliament, and that Coptic Christians and women would be welcomed into the political party affiliated with the movement.None of that has changed, Mr. Erian, the spokesman, said in an interview. “We are keen to spread our ideas and  and our values,” he said. “We are not keen for power.”' 

OK we'll give it time but please do not be surprised if in another few months Slackman reports back with further evidence of the MB's power grab. I hope I'm wrong but it seems as though their rise should have been predicted when Yusuf Al Qaradawi returned to Egypt to a thunderous welcome.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor's Films Were Banned in the Arab World

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor at the Wailing Wall in 1975

JTA reported this about Elizabeth Taylor today upon her death:

"Taylor converted to Judaism following the death of her third husband, Mike Todd, who was Jewish, in a plane crash and before marrying Jewish singer Eddie Fisher.
She denied that she had converted because of her Jewish husbands, saying that she had wanted to do it "for a long time." Her 1959 conversion at Temple Israel of Hollywood was well attended by the press.
Taylor made a point of traveling to Israel and fundraising for the Jewish state during the Arab boycott in the 1970s. Her films were banned in much of the Arab world. She was a supporter of the Kabbalah Center in Los Angeles.
She reportedly offered herself as a hostage for the more than 100 Air France hijack victims held by terrorists at Entebbe Airport in Uganda in July 1976. " 
From Time Magazine's 1959 article about the Arab boycott of Israel comes this:
"Last February, after Elizabeth Taylor bought $100,000 worth of Israeli bonds, the United Arab Republic banned any further showing of her films in Syria and Egypt. Presumably the boycott will apply even to her next movie announced last week: Cleopatra."

Obama to Clinton: Stop Getting So Hysterical About the Middle East!

Hmm...she needs to learn to relax.
On top of all the reports blaming the warrior-women of the White House for pushing us into military action in Libya, I think it was rather patronizing (disgusting?) for Obama to joke about Secretary of State Hilary Clinton's passion for the changes taking place in the ME and her humanitarian concern for the people of Libya. This is what he said at the Gridiron Club Dinner last weekend:

"I do have a couple of regrets to pass along. My Secretary of State could not be with us. I dispatched to the Middle East to talk about how these countries can transition to new leaders. Though I got to be honest. She's gotten a little passionate about the subject. These past few weeks, it's been tough falling asleep with Hillary out there on Pennsylvania Avenue, shouting, throwing rocks at the window."

For a report round-up about Hilary and the Hysterics you can read these:

Robert Dreyfuss, The Nation: Obama's Women Pushed War Against Libya 

Upsurge in Palestinian Terror - Guide for the Perplexed

Today's bombing outside a Jerusalem bus station following ten days of rocket launches into southern Israel following the Itamar murders seem to be telling a story: intensify attacks on Israel so that it will be forced to respond and resume its place as the Middle East's bully. Hamas and the Palestinian Authority may not be reconciled into the one voice of the people but there seems to be a telepathic tango going on in which they are the two partners. What better way to kiss and make up than by provoking the same enemy.

Paramedics treat woman suffering from shock
after a Grad rocket hit Be'er Sheva

And it is precisely this: provocation. Hamas played that game in 2007-8 with thousands of rockets launched into Israel inciting the Gaza War in which many of their own died. But remember, for Hamas, what is bad is good. The more casualties (often of human shields) the better. When Hezbollah played the same game culminating in the death and kidnapping of Israeli soldiers, it too got what it (really) wanted, a full-blown Israeli military attack. The PA, for its part, is keeping the flame alive by allowing -- no, promoting -- incitement against Israel in all its authority-owned media.

So, we seem to be edging up to the same thing again. No doubt Syria and Iran are finding this a propitious time to be mentoring their acolytes in the ways of terror because they will benefit from attention diverted from revolts against their own tyrannies and from new rounds of international condemnation of Israel.

Some recommended reading on this subject:
Elder of Zion: Islamic Jihad Admits the Purpose of Rockets is Terrorism
Rubin Reports: Thousands Rally for Palestinian Reconciliation
Just Journalism: BBC Elides Palestinian Culture of Incitement
CIF Watch: More Rockets Fired into Israel (Guardian Reporting Only on Israeli Retaliatory Strikes)
Haaretz: Syria May Provoke Israel to Distract from Domestic Unrest

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bob Geldof's Ben Gurion U Prize: Will He Fend Off the Boycotters?

Geldoff with children in Africa, 1985 (The Guardian)

From the Jerusalem Post: Ben Gurion University of the Negev will be bestowing Bob Geldof with an honorary doctorate in recognition of  his charitable activities to raise funds to fight famine in Africa. While in Israel, Geldof will also participate in the IsraAID conference, “Israel in Africa – Past, Present and Future."

I love the chutzpahdig game that BGU is playing in taunting the PACBI and BDS crowds. So far The Alternative Information Center has issued this predictable statement on behalf of PACBI and I'm sure there will be a barrage before the show is over when he accepts the prize in late May. Let's hope he's been eating his Wheaties:

"The Palestinian Academic and Cultural Boycott Initiative (PACBI) was launched in Ramallah in 2004 and called on the international community to comprehensively and consistently boycott all Israeli academic and cultural institutions until Israel withdraws from all lands occupied in 1967, removes all colonies on these lands, abides by UN resolutions concerning Palestinian refugees’ rights and dismantles its apartheid system. This call later fed into the 2005 united Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel until it complies with international law and universal principles of Human Rights.

"Palestinian civil society is thus clear in asking Bob Geldof and all artists not to collaborate with Israeli institutions, including universities. Furthermore, Ben Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) is an active collaborate with and perpetuator of Israel’s occupation and discrimination against Palestinians...

"In September 2010, over 250 South African academics initiated a campaign calling on the University of Johannesburg (UJ) to end its long-standing relationship with Ben-Gurion University...

"The Alternative Information Center will be joining with the thousands of Palestinian, international and anti-colonial Israeli activists who will be calling on Bob Geldof in the coming days to personally honour his commitment to human rights and refuse to accept the honorary degree from Ben Gurion University."

And elsewhere they're also saying, "Bob Geldof, who do you think you are."

Monday, March 21, 2011

Oriana Fallaci on Gaddafi: Oh, no! He is stupid!!

Watch a little clip of Oriana telling Charlie Rose what she thought of Gaddafi and then read the full article on the NY Times website. Unfortunately it is only available in PDF so you'll need to put on your glasses. Oh, where oh where are the Orianas of today. We only get the likes of Arianna.

And here's another special treat: Oriana on anti-Semitism:

H/T: Eamonn Fitzgerald

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Miral's Utterly Cynical NY Times Full Page Ad

I hadn't planned on posting anything else on Schnabel/Weinstein's tiresome Miral but the full page color ad in today's Sunday Times forced me to. This is my scan of the offending image: a barbed-wire Star of David. And the words: The movie they tried to stop is coming to New York this Friday. Who tried to stop the movie? The Jews? The Zionists? As far as I am aware "they" only wanted to stop its premier at the UN? But why mess with a good line? Why mess with an image that's working so well for the Israel delegitimization campaign? Cynical and, I must say, a page out of the anti-Semite's handbook. Hmm...anything for a buck?

Arab League's Amr Moussa Says Oops re No-Fly Zone - Update*

Amr Moussa, Gaddafi and Yemen's President Saleh just last March
at an Arab League meeting in Libya.

A week after pleading with the West to impose a no-fly zone, the Arab League has changed its mind: '"What has happened in Libya differs from the goal of imposing a no-fly zone and what we want is the protection of civilians and not bombing other civilians," Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa told reporters.' He is calling for an emergency Arab League meeting to discuss the situation.

Amr Moussa, we remember, appears to be the leading candidate for the presidency of Egypt. It appears he is covering all bases: on the one hand urging help for the Libyan resistance but then pulling the anti-West card once the intervention starts. Could be a nice little ploy for winning votes.

* Jeffrey Goldberg thinks it should have been predictable to all that the Arab League would backtrack on the no-fly zone.

Who Stoned El Baradei As He Tried to Vote in Egypt Referendum?

'Hired thugs' or 'Islamists'?

AFP reported that, "Islamists hurled stones and shoes at Mohamed ElBaradei, Nobel Peace laureate and a secular contender for Egypt's presidency, as he tried to vote Saturday in a referendum on constitutional amendments. ElBaradei was hit in the back by a stone thrown from the crowd of hundreds but managed to escape unhurt and slammed as "irresponsible" the holding of a referendum without adequate law and order."

Al Ahram: ElBaradei has been urging Egyptians to vote “No” to the 
constitutional amendments, while many Islamic groups have been 
campaigning for a “Yes” vote. (Reuters photo)

"We don't want you," the mob shouted, throwing stones, shoes and water at the former UN nuclear watchdog chief as he turned up at a Cairo polling station, five weeks after president Hosni Mubarak was ousted by mass protests.

"He lives in the United States and wants to rule us. It's out of the question," one of them said. "We don't want an American agent," said another. ElBaradei beat a retreat to his car and left without voting at the polling station in Muqattam, a largely poor district in south Cairo.

"Members of the crowd interviewed by AFP before the assault identified themselves as Islamists without elaborating on their precise allegiance. An official from the Muslim Brotherhood, the largest and most organised opposition movement, denied members of his group were involved."

Meanwhile, the New York Times' reported the incident only towards the very end of its celebratory article, 'Euphoric, Egyptians Vote on Future,' which featured interviews with Muslim Brotherhood activists: "Mohamed ElBaradei, a presidential hopeful and the former chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, had announced ahead of time that he would vote in a suburban Cairo polling place in the Moqattam hills. Unusually, a crowd of hundreds of people gathered. When he first alighted from the car, people in line jumped to have their picture taken. But then “hired thugs” in the crowd began throwing rocks and bottles and Mr. Baradei had to flee into his car under the barrage, said Ahmed al-Gohary, a campaign aide. They broke all the windows in his car, witnesses said."

Is the NY Times purposely evading the possibility that Islamists were responsible for the attack because it has been investing so heavily in its contention that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt was nothing to fear? 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Bill Maher Must Drive the Knee-Jerk Left Crazy

Bill Maher is a wonderfully inconsistent left-wing liberal. He believes in all the correct things (as I do) -- universal healthcare, environmentalism, racial equality, fairer distribution of wealth, etc. But he also believes in Israel. Last night on Real Time, he welcomed Michael Oren, Israel's Ambassador to the US with great respect. He joked kindheartedly, asked some pointed questions about settlements and negotiations but basically allowed Oren to express himself without the usual snarky, "Do you mean to say???" accusatory finger pointing.

Last year, he dared to remark that most of the MSM was tilting towards the Palestinians -- so here is Oliver Stone giving him a what-for:

Friday, March 18, 2011

Aisha Gaddafi: Unrepentant Cyanide Blonde

Cyanide Blonde: The
clever blog, Beautiful
Atrocities, has got her
Another fine example of the United Nations' deaf, dumb and blind attitude towards ME despots was the appointment of Aisha Gaddafi as Regional Goodwill Ambassador in 2009. Gaddafi, an attorney who had served on Saddam Hussein's defense team, acted primarily as goodwill ambassador for her father's regime. As illustrated in this 2010 Telegraph interview and recent video above, she is an unapologetic apologist for tyranny everywhere:

"What about those who say Libya’s criminal justice system does not respect human rights?
I have tried to understand why people say that, and where Libya is violating human rights, but I have not found anything. Those criticisms are completely groundless.
Why did you choose to join the defence team for Saddam Hussein’s war crimes trial?
I studied law and I felt duty bound to defend anyone who feels he is wrongly accused. The reason I felt so commited was because there was so much of a campaign to discredit him in the media - pictures of him wearing underwear, having his teeth checked and so on. It was all designed to make him look inhumane. I also felt a drive to defend the Iraqi people.
But he wasn’t he also accused of killing roughly 300,000 of his own people? There were many Iraqis who were delighted when he was hung.
It is only normal that some people are against you and some are with you. You are bound to meet people who may be against your policies.

But wasn’t Saddam guilty?
Let me put it this way. If you want to talk about the crimes that they claim Saddam committed, let's talk about what is taking place in Iraq. More than 1 million Iraqis have been killed, and the whole civilisation of Iraq has been wiped out.
In 2000, you gave a speech at Speakers’ Corner in London in favour of the IRA. Why do you support them?
I have always been a supporter of all liberation movements."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Iran Pits Child Soldiers Against Protesters

Child soldiers being trained to fight anti-government protests.

The Guardian/Observer this Sunday exposed Tehran's use of boys, some as young as twelve, as anti-riot squads to quell a resurgence of Green Movement protests. "The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran says troops aged between 14 and 16 have been armed with batons, clubs and air guns and ordered to attack demonstrators who have tried to gather in Tehran. The youths – apparently recruited from rural areas – are being deployed in regular riot police roles and comprise up to one-third of the total force, according to witnesses.

"One middle-aged woman, who said she was attacked by the youths, reported that some were as young as 12 and were possibly prepubescent. They had rural accents, which indicated they had been brought in from villages far from Tehran, she said.

"Some told her they had been attracted by the promise of chelo kebab dinners, one of Iran's national dishes."
This is a horrific reminder of the hundreds of thousand boys sent out as cannon-fodder during the Iran-Iraq War. According to a Brookings Institution report, Iran was the first nation in the Middle East to use child soldiers:
“The first modern use of child soldiers in the region was actually during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. Iranian law, based on the Koranic sharia, had forbid the recruitment of children under 16 into the armed forces. However, a few years into the fighting, the regime began to falter in its war with its neighbor, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. So it chose to ignore its own laws, and in 1984, Iranian President Ali-Akbar Rafsanjani declared that “all Iranians from 12 to 72 should volunteer for the Holy War.”

"Thousands of children were pulled from schools, indoctrinated in the glory of martyrdom, and sent to the front lines only lightly armed with one or two grenades or a gun with one magazine of ammunition. Wearing keys around their necks (to signify their pending entrance into heaven), they were sent forward in the first waves of attacks to help clear paths through minefields with their bodies and overwhelm Iraqi defenses. Iran’s spiritual leader at the time, Ayatollah Khomeini, delighted in the children’s sacrifice and extolled that they were helping Iran to achieve “a situation which we cannot describe in any way except to say that it is a divine country.”

So, we have here a sign that the Tehran regime may be getting nervous and realizes that the opposition, at least in Tehran, is reviving. As Hadi Ghaemi of the International Campaign for Human Rights remarked, the children are "...being used to ensure there is a good ratio of government forces to protesters and because the average policeman in Tehran could have some kind of family connection to the people they have to beat up. It's a classic tactic to bring people from outside, because they have no sense of sympathy for city dwellers."

And how interesting it is that, once again, the regime is willing to discard Sharia Law when the going gets rough.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Weinsteins' 'Miral' Produces Buzz... taunting Jews

Publicity 101: How to fill seats.
... and I fell right into it. I should've realized that the Weinstein brothers, publicity genies, and Julian Schnabel, master of self-promotion, knew exactly what they were doing when they proposed premiering Miral at the UN General Assembly. This was a case of publicity, publicity, publicity meets location, location, location. I should've remembered who helped generate buzz for Mel Gibson's outrageous The Passion of the Christ? Hello? Jews. 

And how much fun are the Guardians and the BBCs and the M. J. Rosenberg-types of the world having in poking Israel and the American Jewish Committee etal for the futile attempt to reason with an organization that ignored Sudan's outrages in Darfur while condemning Israel 22 times. An organization that privileges the Palestinian cause beyond all the rest of the world's troubled groups. As UNWatch reports, "There are three special UN entities dedicated to the Palestinian cause. The oldest is the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, created in 1968. In 1975, the General Assembly added the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. Supporting its work is the Division for Palestinian Rights. Lodged within the UN Secretariat, the Division boasts a sixteen-member staff and a budget of millions, which it devotes to the constant promotion of anti-Israel propaganda throughout the world." Let's not forget, UNRWA, the agency set up to handle only Palestinian refugees.

And, really, for all Schnabel's bluster and justification like,"I love the state of Israel. I believe in it and my film is about preserving it, not hurting it," it seems awfully handy to have found the one venue in the world that would guaranteed immediate, gigantic, international buzz. Hmm...too clever by half. Now it's my/our turn to smarten up.

Last word and them I'm gonna shut up about this:  Harvey Weinstein tried to tar those who have problems with Miral showing at the UN with Islamophobia. Chutzpah yes, but he knows how to fill seats.