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Emet m'Tsiyon

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Pollyanna "Liberals" Were Wrong about Iran & Khomeini; Now Wrong about PLO/PA and the Muslim Brotherhood

A lot of the so-called "liberals" & "progressives" in the United States have long championed the causes of tyrants abroad, whether Stalin or Castro or --more recently-- the Muslim Brotherhood and so on and so forth. This has often been done by presenting the tyrants or would be tyrants as representing the democratic will of the people or as being liberal, progressive and tolerant themselves. A classic case of how this was done appeared not long after Khomeini's regime took power in Iran. The new regime was extolled for its civil libertarian commitment.

We now know that Khomeini and his successors were and are anything but devoted to liberal values, to civil liberties, democracy, etc. However, Kai Bird, a very prominent "leftist" and "progressive" in the 1960s and 1970s fought valiantly to present this false image of Khomeini & Co. to the American public. When you read Mr Bird, think of the academic and media advocates of the Iran regime or the Muslim Brotherhood or Hamas or Fatah/PLO, and so on, today.

Bird wrote the following in an article that was featured on the front page of the "Liberal" weekly The Nation magazine [31 March 1979]:

. . .  there is every reason to believe that the still unpublished Constitution [of the brand new Iranian Islamic Republic] will include all the elements of a liberal democratic system. Minister of Information Nasser Menachi,  a close confidant of Bazargan and a man with impeccable civil libertarian credentials, told The Nation that "the new Constitution --which has been drafted by five foreign-trained jurists-- contains the strongest possible civil libertarian guarantees. . . . and Khomeini himself  has approved the document with but the most minor changes, a fact which should be read as an extremely good sign." The Ayatollah will reportedly have no formal office in the proposed Islamic Republic. Elections are scheduled to be held within several months after the adoption of the Constitution.
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Isn't this all just too noble, too precious, too lofty to be believable? It hardly corresponds to how the Ayatollah Khomeini and his successors have actually ruled Iran.

Does everyone see the pattern in this excerpt here? Consider the style here against the background of the tens of thousands --or hundreds of thousands or millions-- of victims of the Iranian regime over the years? Look at the grand phrases in this not very long paragraph: liberal democratic system & impeccable civil libertarian credentials & the strongest possible civil libertarian guarantees. 

How many readers of Emet m'Tsiyon would want to depend upon the civil libertarian guarantees of the Iranian regime? Now just how is it that Kai Bird and his editors at The Nation could not foresee what the Khomeini regime would produce, a regime that tramples civil liberties and pays lip service to them at best? A regime that is a caricature of democracy where the leading ayatollah, called the Supreme Guide, has the final say on everything, whatever the parliament may think?

Why couldn't Bird and his The Nation friends understand that the books that Khomeini had written, books in which he expressed a desire for a political regime based on Islam, Shiite Islam, explained what he would do if and when he took power? That that was the kind of regime he would erect and that civil liberties would bow before the needs of the regime of ayatollahs implementing Islam as they saw it and interpreted it? Did they ask what would happen to ethnic and religious minorities in Iran, such as Jews, Bahais, or Sunni Muslims, for that matter? Did Bird & Co. ask how women would fare under the ayatollahs who would apply strict Shiite Muslim rules to them? Did they ask whether Khomeini's ostensible loyalty to or tolerance for democracy and civil liberties, and the comforting, liberal-sounding slogans that he and his associates threw out from time to time might not have been mere dissembling for the purpose of gaining and consolidating power?

Were Bird and his friends naive, ignorant, simpleminded or simply deceitful? We may ask the same question today about Washington policy specialists and American academics who promote the cause of the Muslim Brotherhood or Hizbullah or Hamas or Fatah or the so-called "palestine liberation organization."
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Now that we know what "liberal" establishment journalism and its predictions are worth in the United States -- and elsewhere, let's talk a little about Kai Bird. He was known as being hostile to Israel back in the 1960s, when that was less fashionable than today. He had been in Israel during his rather privileged childhood when his father, an American diplomat, and his family lived in the Jordanian-occupied sector of Jerusalem from which all Jews were driven out, starting in December 1947. Young Master Bird crossed the Armistice Line, the Green Line, every day that he went to school. This was the Anglican school on Street of the Prophets [רחוב הנביאים] in "west Jerusalem" under Israeli control. The school is still there although in the past 20 or 25 years it has raised its stone outer wall by three or four feet. Little Master Bird crossed on every school day the Mandelbaum Gate, actually a border crossing built partly over the home of a family named Mandelboym [the proper Yiddish pronunciation]. The house had been destroyed in the fighting in 1948. The colony of Westerners living in Jordanian-occupied Jerusalem was notorious in those days for being fanatically anti-Israel and anti-Jewish. Bird and his family lived in the Sheikh Jarrah quarter near the Orient House, the American Colony Hotel, and the old Jewish neighborhoods of Shimon haTsadiq, Nahalat Shimon, and Siebenbergen Houses from which the Jewish residents had been driven out in December 1947 and January 1948.

From the Mandelboym Gate crossing Bird and his schoolmates from the Jordanian sector traveled down Tribes of Israel Street [Shivtey Yisra'el שבטי ישראל], formerly St George Street under the British, which name Jordan kept for the street on its side of the armistice line. The pupils traveled for about one-half kilometer down to Street of the Prophets, turning right into and traveling on it for about a kilometer or more. They were escorted, to my knowledge, by armed Israeli troops. But they were also protected by the power and prestige of the empires and governments that they and their families represented.

As to Kai Bird's honesty, I have read several reviews of his autobiography for this blog post, and I don't find any reference to his  activity with the American "New Left" in the 1960s, 1970s and afterwards. I have to conclude that he left that information out of his book. He apparently decided that references to his "New Left" activism would not be useful or beneficial to him or his political purposes.

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Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Edward Said Falsifies History -- But You're Not Surprised, are you?

Lying seems to have come naturally and comfortably to the late Professor Edward Said, a prof of comparative lit at Columbia University, who was somehow able, with the help of the organized American communications media, to change how Americans, especially would-be intellectuals saw Islam and the Arab-Israeli Conflict. Here is one of his gems:

p56 ". . . . both [Zionism & Judaism] speak of Palestine as the land of Israel. . . . Zionism sees itself as redeeming the land whose natives [Said means the Arabs] have called it 'Palestine' for over a millenium." [emphasis added, seeEdward Said, Peace and Its Discontents (New York: Vintage Books 1995), p 56]

Said was a professor so he could get away with a Big Lie as long as he delivered it in a very Authoritative manner, allowing no contradiction or nuance. In fact, Jews have traditionally called the Land the Land of Israel. This usage appears in the Christian New Testament [Book of Matthew, chap. 2, vv. 20-22]. So Christians have been aware of the name Land of Israel since the New Testament circulated among them in the first centuries of the Common Era. Indeed, Said was right about what Jews called the Land, and this usage was maintained by Zionists. However, Jews were not the only ones to be aware of it. Christians who read the New Testament were too. The New Testament also calls the country Judea, which was the usual Greek and Roman/Latin name for the whole country up to the Bar Kokhba Revolt [approx 131-135 BCE]. So Said is not lying as to the name that Jews and Zionists used for the country -- Land of Israel. Watch out for the usage in the New Testament. In some places in the NT Judea refers to the whole country. This is the broad Greco-Latin usage. However, in some passages in the NT, the term "Judea and Samaria" is used. In these passages, Judea refers only to the south of the country, including Jerusalem. That is, the former kingdom of Judah. This is the narrow Jewish usage of the term Judea [and Judah], whereas  Greek and Latin writers used the broader meaning of the name.

His lie has to do with what the Arabs and Muslims in the country and beyond generally called it.  After the Crusades, the Mamluk and Ottoman Empires saw the country as an undefined, indistinct part of bilad ash-Sham [variously translated as Levant, Syria, Greater Syria]. The Muslim Arab majority did not call the land Palestine.

Few except for the rare scholars among them [and illiteracy was very high] even knew that once, before the Crusades, the Arab and Muslim rulers had used the term Filastin for the southern part --roughly speaking-- of the country, of the Land of Israel. Filastin did not mean the whole country but only what today we call southern Samaria, Judah [not Judea but Judah, the territory of the southern Israelite kingdom], and the southern and middle coastal plain and coast. The Arabs took the term Filastin from the Roman district of Palaestina Prima which had roughly speaking the same borders. Palaestina Secunda, northern Samaria, the Galilee and Golan as well as territory east of the Jordan River was called Urdunn by the early Arab conquerors.

Judea was in fact in Roman usage the name for --roughly speaking-- what the Jews called the Land of Israel. See an authentic Roman document, a metal military discharge certificate [called a diploma] which attests to a veteran of the Roman legions having served in Judea [IVDAEA in Latin]

Another of Said's lies was calling the Arabs in the country the "natives." The Jews were the indigenous population of the Land, inhabiting it long before the Arab invasion of the 7th century. The Jews were reduced by the Crusader massacres to a small fraction of the population but Jews have always lived in the country since ancient times, for more than 3000 years. So out of three assertions that Said makes in this short excerpt, two are false.

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Historical sketch of the land  and its name [here]

Jewish exile from Jerusalem [here]

The usage of the name Judea or PROVINCIA IVDAEA by Rome [here]

My assertion that the Arabs generally did not call what is today Israel by the name "Palestine"  or "Filastin" is acknowledged by one of Said's professorial Arab friends, none other than Rashid al-Khalidi, who just so happens to be a good buddy of one Barack Hussein Obama, the previous president of the United States. Khalidi acknowledged this, for instance, in an article in the journal International Journal of Middle East Studies in the year 1988 or about then. I do not now have the exact citation but you can check the journal for the years 1988, 1987, and 1989.

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Sunday, August 06, 2017

Erdogan's Turkey Goes for Teaching "Good Jihad"

If you are one of those who dislike President Trump, however much you may dislike him, remember all of Obama's kind gestures, his love of peaceful Islam, his friendship with Erdogan, his thwarted efforts to put the Muslim Brotherhood in power in Egypt and to keep it there, and so on. And you may mellow on Trump.

Obama was notoriously close to Erdogan in the first few years of his regime, so much so that he and Erdung were called BFFs [best female friends]. Obama was apparently in cahoots with Erdung over the Mavi Marmara siege-breaking affair [2010], among other things. Now the would-be sultan of a restored Ottoman Empire is introducing "good jihad" into Turkish schools. Excerpt translated below with original:

Starting with the return to school in September, the concept of "jihad" will be taught in most schools in the country, according to the new curriculum conceived by the Islamo-conservative government and made public on July 18. It is not a matter of learning holy war but rather "the good jihad," the jihad that exalts "love of the fatherland", Ismet Yilmaz, minister of national education, hastened to clarify. "Jihad exists in our religion and it is one of the duties of the ministry of education to see to it that this concept is taught in a correct and appropriate manner," he insisted.

À partir de la rentrée scolaire, en septembre, le concept de « djihad » sera enseigné dans la plupart des écoles du pays, selon le nouveau programme conçu par le gouvernement islamo-conservateur et rendu public mardi 18 juillet. Il n’est pas question d’apprendre la guerre sainte mais plutôt « le bon djihad », celui qui exalte « l’amour de la patrie », s’est empressé de préciser Ismet Yilmaz, le ministre de l’éducation nationale. « Le djihad existe dans notre religion et il est du devoir du ministère de l’éducation de veiller à ce que ce concept soit enseigné de façon juste et appropriée », a-t-il insisté.
Marie Jego, Istanbul, for Le Monde 7-28-2017
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More on Erdogan: here & here & here & here

The role of Qatar and Washington insiders in the Mavi Marmara affair here

Quality Turkish Education? Whither? [here]

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