Coffee Shop Talk -  Dr Yacoob and MUIS to their RESCUE (75794 views) Notify me whenever anyone posts in this discussion.Subscribe
 
From: SaraLeck5/17/09 11:54 PM 
To: All  (2386 of 3931) 
 1440.2386 in reply to 1440.2385 

AWARE to SCREEN this DURING racial HARMONY WEEK for Malays only ?!! ... to appeal to the Children of Singapore on the greater meaing of acceptance and inclusiveness? -

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJC0BzBzat8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8LuBJ4HuOwk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6JZ8c0_Duvg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGO9KmwQ6WU
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jSjm6y4alQU
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHQSN3m9dLs

 
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From: TodayNews5/18/09 2:52 AM 
To: SaraLeck  (2387 of 3931) 
 1440.2387 in reply to 1440.2381 

Christians Pressed as Pakistani Military Battles Taliban

Residents flee Swat Valley where fight rages with Islamist insurgents.

By Michael Larson

ISTANBUL, Pakistani Christians in Swat Valley are caught between the Taliban and Pakistan’s military as it assaults the stronghold where sharia (Islamic law) rules.

Nearly 15,000 troops have been deployed in the picturesque Swat Valley in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and neighboring Afghanistan. Troops came after months of peace negotiations collapsed between the Taliban Islamist insurgents who have imposed sharia in the valley and the central government last month. Hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis have fled the war-ravaged area for fear of a full military assault.

On May 10 (Sunday) the army ordered residents to flee Swat Valley during a lull in fighting. Aid groups estimate that as many as 1.3 million could be displaced by the fighting, according to The Guardian.

Christians are particularly vulnerable in the mass exodus. Working as poor day laborers, they occupy the lowest rung of the social ladder and have little money for costly transport or to stock up on resources before fleeing.

“Christians are poor, and like in any conflict, the prices of transportation and commodities skyrocket,” said Ashar Dean, assistant director of communication of the Church of Pakistan Peshawar diocese. “Some had to go on foot to flee the valley.”

The Taliban had ratcheted up pressure on Christians, other religious minorities and liberal Muslims in Swat to live according to Islamic fundamentalist norms. They were forced to grow beards and don Islamic attire for fear of their safety in an attempt to blend in with Muslim residents of Swat.

Many Christians also fled for insufficient funds to pay the jizye, a poll tax under sharia paid by non-Muslims for protection if they decline to convert to Islam.

In February the Pakistani government ceded control of Swat valley to the Taliban, who imposed their version of sharia and established clerical rule over the legal system. But Christians had seen warning signs long before the formal sharia announcement. In the past year the Taliban burned or bombed more than 200 girls’ schools in Swat, including one that housed a Catholic church.

Religious minorities live in a precarious situation in the Muslim-dominated country. The legal system informally discriminates against non-Muslims, and in recent years Christian villages have been ransacked by Muslim mobs incited by dubious reports that a Quran had been desecrated.

The Taliban’s attempts to spread out from Swat into neighboring areas, however, have increased feelings of insecurity among the nation’s 3 million Christians.

“The threat of the Taliban is a hanging sword above the necks of Christians,” said Sohail Johnson, chief coordinator of Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan. “Christians could be in the situation where they would have to accept Islam or die.”

Swat Christians Flee

Approximately 40-60 Christian families lived in Swat as congregants at the Church of Pakistan. But since Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani on April 8 announced a military mission into Swat, nearly all have fled to nearby districts.

Most are in refugee housing in Mardan in the NWFP. They stay in a technical school owned by the Church of Pakistan, a congregation composed of Anglicans, Presbyterians, Methodists and Lutherans

The school dismissed its students for the school year early to make room for the refugees. Opening its doors to the displaced Christians was necessary due to government inaction toward religious minorities, said Yousaf Benjamin of the National Commission for Justice and Peace.

“The government is giving protection to Muslims, but the Christians are through waiting for their services,” he said.

Similar measures are being employed in hundreds of schools. To provide for the massive influx in refugees, the Pakistan government ended the school year early in districts near Swat and opened the schools to refugees for temporary housing. Teachers are also assisting in the humanitarian relief effort, Benjamin said.

Some Christians have complained of facing discrimination in refugee camps. Government relief workers forbade Christians, Hindus and Sikhs from setting up tents or eating with Muslim refugees, according to online news site Christian Today.

But ultimately Christians will not be able to return to Swat Valley unless the Taliban threat is completely removed, Christian relief groups said. Their possessions and property will otherwise always be under threat.

“Christians will face terrible persecution if the Taliban is not controlled by the government,” Johnson said. “They will easily attack churches, schools and other Christian institutions.”

Rehman Malik, the interior minister, said Pakistan’s military operation would continue until the last Taliban fighter had been ousted. Since April 8, government troops have killed an estimated 751 militants.

There are believed to be 5,000 Taliban militants in Swat Valley. The government hopes to minimize civilian casualties through precision air strikes and delivering emergency humanitarian aid.

Pakistan’s government has come under harsh national and international criticism for its negotiations with the Taliban and ceding control of Swat. They fear the Taliban could seize control of the nation’s nuclear weapons.

 

 
From: TodayNews5/18/09 2:53 AM 
To: SaraLeck  (2388 of 3931) 
 1440.2388 in reply to 1440.2373 

Issues: `Islamophobia undermines RI-US ties'

Mon, 05/18/2009 1:43 PM | Opinion

The persistent Islamophobia among Americans and anti-Americanism among Indonesian Muslims are still undermining diplomatic relations between Indonesia and the United States, a lawmaker told a seminar. Sidharto Danusubroto, deputy chairman of the House of Representatives' international relations commission, said Indonesia was still perceived by some Americans as a haven for Islamic radicalism, while the US was still "cynically perceived as an imperialist country" by Indonesian Muslims.

Your comments:
I agree that Islamophobia makes problems everywhere, while anti-Americanism is - in my opinion - just reaction to this. Dual-standards that are used by the US administration must be abolished to convince the Islamic world that the US has good faith in its relations with other countries.

From my observations, the US administration in fact knows much about the Indonesian Muslim community's basic characteristics from its communications with NU, Muhammadiyah and even individually with potential Indonesian Muslim leaders. This communication is facilitated through the US ambassador to Indonesia.

Indonesian people are very tolerant, welcoming and understanding as long as others do not intend to do anything to hurt them. So, better and more communication is preferable.

And again, from my own observations, Obama has started to direct his administration to build better understandings that must be followed by others.

Obama's administration also must make efforts to reform American perceptions (among politicians, economists, journalists and the common people) on Islam and Muslims, by providing more information about Islam.

I saw a good little effort that was conducted by the Muslim community in the UK this month to provide better information and communication with others about Islamic values by organizing an "open day" mosque program.

This program was very interesting and I saw it was really appreciated by more than 200 non-Muslim visitors during the two-day program. So, I absolutely agree that a wider intensive communication can be promoted not only under official missions, but also social and cultural ones.

Taukhid

Islamophobia still occurs because of many recent new laws popping up from local to national levels of government - laws that are clearly sharia-based that show a blatant disregard for any other people's personal beliefs and religious inclinations.

In addition, since the fall of Soeharto, every subsequent president has allowed increased controls to be established by extremist Muslim parties and groups, further degrading the religious harmony in Indonesia.

In a country where other religions find it extremely difficult to build places of faith, yet every three blocks a mosque is either being built or blaring out Islamic prayers, is it any wonder that the international community views Indonesia as a hotbed of Islamic radicalism?

On the other hand, this so-called view of American Imperialism is a view fostered by all the Islamic radicals in our country which is a view they commonly share with terrorist groups throughout the world. Where is the support for the US to change under the Obama administration that we saw during the US elections?

I wonder if people here remember Hillary Clinton coming to Indonesia and asking certain members of the Indonesian radical groups to come and meet for dinner, yet they (I forget who or which one) flatly rejected the invitation, stating "It's a waste of time."

It sort of amuses me that a lot of Islamic groups have a lack of sensitivity for creating relationships with other religions and government bodies.

David
Jakarta

 

 
From: TodayNews5/18/09 2:58 AM 
To: SaraLeck  (2389 of 3931) 
 1440.2389 in reply to 1440.2374 

Choice of speech site affirms Egypt’s importance in world
By SAMEH SHOKRY
Eygypt's ambassador to the United States

The White House recently announced that President Barack Obama will deliver his much-anticipated address to the Muslim world from Egypt in early June. This decision has been warmly received and appreciated by Egyptians, Arabs and the Muslim world at large. Some may wonder why President Obama chose Egypt rather than other attractive venues.

In my view, President Obama chose to address the leaders and people of the Muslim world from the very heart of the old world. His decision reflects an understanding of Egypt’s rich civilization and its valuable contributions to intellectual thought and cultural exchange throughout the millennia. Along with its promotion of international tolerance, understanding and reconciliation in the modern world, these factors make Egypt the springboard of U.S. engagement in the Middle East.

Moreover, Egypt has long been the locomotive for political, economic and social development in the modern Middle East. It was in Egypt that the region saw its first constitution, its first parliament, and indeed the first to embody the institutions of a modern nation state, all of this dating to the early 19th century.

Thirty years ago, Egypt became the first Arab country to sign a peace accord with Israel and established the framework by which other Arab states and Israel have created their own peace. To this day, Egypt continues to work toward fostering a lasting peace between its neighbors, brokering a permanent cessation of hostilities in Gaza, holding Palestinian unity talks and confronting radical ideology within its own borders. In many ways, Egypt is the arbiter of peace and the force of moderation in the Middle East.

With more than 500 newspapers, journals and magazines and an estimated 162,000 bloggers, making up 30 percent of Arab bloggers worldwide, political discussion and debate within Egypt about the future of the Arab and Muslim world is extensive, and tends to set the tone for such debate among Arabs and Muslims.

Beyond the politics of the Middle East, Egypt is the Arab world’s largest and most populous nation. Long at the center of Islamic intellectual thought and learning, Egypt’s tradition of religious tolerance and cultural diversity embodies the ideals and values of moderate Islam. The Al Azhar University in Cairo is considered among the oldest seats of Islamic learning and has historically embodied the tradition of moderation and tolerance that characterized Egypt’s religious heritage. Egypt is also home to the largest and one of the oldest Christian communities in the Middle East, making it a melting pot of religions and civilizations.

Egypt’s broad efforts at economic liberalization have also been recognized by global leaders. For the third year in a row, Egypt has been named the top economic reformer in the Middle East by the World Bank’s Doing Business project. This year, Egypt was also named one of the top 10 global reformers, and when many countries are seeing their economies contract, Egypt is expecting sustained growth.

Bilaterally, the United States and Egypt have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship for decades. Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently stressed from Cairo that the United States considered Egypt one of its most important partners.

As President Obama eloquently put it, America “is not and will never be at war with Islam.” His initiative comes at a very opportune time, and Egypt, America’s longstanding friend and ally, is eager to work with the U.S. in advancing the causes of peace and stability in today’s troubled world, and mending current relations between the West and Islam.

Sameh Shoukry, Egypt’s ambassador to the U.S. since September 2008, spoke in Kansas City last week.

 

 
From: TodayNews5/18/09 3:00 AM 
To: Mohdatta1  (2390 of 3931) 
 1440.2390 in reply to 1440.2375 

hahaha....

If Arabs are brothers of Jews, are you saying that Jews are related to pigs and apes???

 

 
From: TodayNews5/18/09 3:01 AM 
To: Mohdatta1  (2391 of 3931) 
 1440.2391 in reply to 1440.2376 
So is in Jerusalem!
 

 
From: TodayNews5/18/09 3:02 AM 
To: Mohdatta1  (2392 of 3931) 
 1440.2392 in reply to 1440.2377 

You should read this article to understand what halal means.

Thursday, May. 14, 2009
Halal: Buying Muslim
By CARLA POWER

Khalfan Mohammed has long been buffeted by culture shock while staying in five-star hotels. As a devout Muslim he has learned to ask staff to remove the minibar's alcohol. He loathes lobbies with loud discos and drunken guests. When traveling with his parents, it is the bikinis that rankle most. "It was quite shocking for my mother to sit in a restaurant with undressed people," the Abu Dhabi-based businessman says. "My mom and dad are not used to seeing people in public wearing their underwear." To avoid such embarrassment, the Mohammeds took to renting furnished apartments.

No longer. On a trip to Dubai last year, Mohammed stayed in the Villa Rotana, one of a growing number of hotels catering to Muslim travelers. In the lobby — all white leather, brick and glass, with a small waterfall — quiet reigns. Men in dishdashas and veiled women glide by Westerners who are sometimes discreetly reminded to respect local customs. Minibars are stocked not with alcohol, but with Red Bull, Pepsi and the malt drink Barbican. (See pictures of migrant workers in the Gulf.)

Time was, buying Muslim meant avoiding pork and alcohol and getting your meat from a halal butcher, who slaughtered in accordance with Islamic principles. But the halal food market has exploded in the past decade and is now worth an estimated $632 billion annually, according to the Halal Journal, a Kuala Lumpur-based magazine. That's about 16% of the entire global food industry. Throw in the fast-growing Islam-friendly finance sector and the myriad other products and services — cosmetics, real estate, hotels, fashion, insurance — that comply with Islamic law and the teachings of the Koran, and the sector is worth well over $1 trillion a year.

One reason for the rise of the halal economy is that the world's 1.6 billion Muslims are younger and, in some places at least, richer than ever. Seeking to tap that huge market, non-Muslim multinationals like Tesco, McDonald's and Nestlé have expanded their Muslim-friendly offerings and now control an estimated 90% of the global halal market.

At the same time, governments in Asia and the Middle East are pouring millions into efforts to become regional "halal hubs," providing tailor-made manufacturing centers and "halal logistics" — systems to maintain product purity during shipping and storage. The increased competition is changing manufacturing and supply chains in some unusual places. Most of Saudi Arabia's chicken is raised in Brazil, which means Brazilian suppliers have built elaborate halal slaughtering facilities. Abattoirs in New Zealand, the world's biggest exporter of halal lamb, have hosted delegations from Iran and Malaysia. And the Netherlands, keen to maximize Rotterdam's role as Europe's biggest port, has built halal warehouses so that imported halal goods aren't stored next to pork or alcohol.

Such arrangements cost, of course, but since the industry's anchor is food, business is booming, even in the economic crisis. "What downturn?" asks Nordin Abdullah, executive director of the Halal Journal. "You don't need your Gucci handbag, but you do need your hamburger."

Not just hamburgers. Drug companies such as the U.K.'s Principle Healthcare and Canada's Duchesnay now sell halal vitamins free of the gelatins and other animal derivatives that some Islamic scholars say make mainstream products haram, or unlawful. The Malaysia-based company Granulab produces synthetic bone graft material to avoid using animal bone, while Malaysian and Cuban scientists are collaborating on a halal meningitis vaccine.

In the Gulf, the Burooj real estate company is carving out a niche, not just because it deals exclusively with Islamic banks, but because it designs spas and swimming pools that segregate the sexes. For Muslim women concerned about skin-care products containing alcohol or lipsticks that use animal fats, a few cosmetics firms are creating halal makeup lines.

The burgeoning Islamic finance industry is using the global economic crisis to win new non-Muslim customers. Investors are attracted by Islamic banking's more conservative approach: Islamic law forbids banks from charging interest (though customers pay fees) and many scholars discourage investment in excessively leveraged companies. Though it currently accounts for just 1% of the global market, the Islamic finance industry's value is growing at around 15% a year, and could reach $4 trillion in five years, up from $500 billion today, according to a 2008 report from Moody's Investors Service.

Those who define the halal market in the traditional sense — as a matter of meat, and no more — see the industry stopping at Islamic food standards. But the movement's more bullish advocates envisage Muslim cars and halal furniture built in accordance with Muslim finance, labor and ethical principles. Citing the kosher and organic industries as successful examples of doing well by doing good, some entrepreneurs even see halal products moving into the mainstream and appealing to consumers looking for high-quality, ethical products. A few firms that comply with the Shari'a code — the religious laws that observant Muslims follow — point out that already many of their customers are non-Muslim. At the Jawhara Hotels, an alcohol-free Arabian Gulf chain run by the Islam-compliant Al Lotah conglomerate, 60% of the clientele are non-Muslims, drawn by the hotels' serenity and family-friendly atmosphere. Dutch-based company Marhaba, which sells cookies and chocolate, says a quarter of its customers are non-Muslims, mostly people concerned not about religious edicts but about food safety. "People are always looking for the next purity thing," says Mah Hussain-Gambles, founder of Saaf Pure Skincare, which markets halal makeup.

Read: "Should a Pious Muslim Practice Yoga?"

See pictures of the end of Ramadan

Going Mainstream
Today, though, the big business is in working out how to serve the increasingly sophisticated Muslim consumer. "The question now for companies is: What products and services are you going to provide to help Muslims lead the lifestyle they want to lead?" asks the Halal Journal's Abdullah. It's a code worth cracking. A 2007 report from the global ad agency JWT describes the Muslim market thus: "It's young, it's big, and it's getting bigger." Parts of it are well-educated and wealthy. The buying power of American Muslims alone is estimated at a hefty $170 billion annually. But with few exceptions, American marketers ignore them, says Ann Mack, JWT's director of trendspotting. "Muslims don't feel that brands are speaking to them," she says. "When we did the study, it was very difficult to find mainstream companies that were making significant programs geared toward the Muslim population."

That's less of a problem elsewhere. Indeed, the most innovative new halal products and services often come out of Europe and Southeast Asia, places where your average food supplier or bank may know little, if anything, about halal. In Europe — the biggest growth region according to the Halal Journal — young devout Muslims are hungry for Islamic versions of mainstream pleasures such as fast food. "The second- and third-generation Muslims are fed up with having rice and lentils every day," observes Darhim Hashim, CEO of the Malaysia-based International Halal Integrity Alliance. "They're saying, 'We want pizzas, we want Big Macs.' " Domino's now sources halal pepperoni from a Malaysian company for the pizzas it sells from Kuala Lumpur to Birmingham; KFC is testing halal-only stores in Muslim areas of the U.K., and the Subway sandwich chain has halal franchises across Britain and Ireland. (See pictures: "The Hajj Goes High-Tech".)

Swiss food giant Nestlé is a pioneer in the field. It set up its halal committee way back in the 1980s, and has long had facilities to keep its halal and non-halal products separated. Turnover in halal products was $3.6 billion last year, and 75 of the company's 456 factories are geared for halal production.

For non-food companies like South Korea's LG and Finnish cell-phone giant Nokia, targeting Muslims is also big business. LG offers an application to help users find the direction of Mecca, while Nokia has free downloadable recitations from the Koran and maps showing the locations of major mosques in the Middle East. Such offerings increase brand loyalty, according to market research by the Finland-based Muslim lifestyle portal Muxlim.com. "There's a lot of room out there for mainstream brands to appeal to Muslims without making changes to their products," says Muxlim.com's CEO Mohamed El-Fatatry. "It's just about their marketing messages, about showing that this brand is interested in them as consumers."

It's also about understanding the nuances. The hypermarket run by French supermarket giant Carrefour at the Mid Valley Megamall in Kuala Lumpur is overwhelmingly halal, with an elaborate system to keep halal foods separate from the haram ones. Goods that divide scholars on whether they're halal or haram because they could have trace elements of wine — Balsamic vinegar, say, or Kikkoman Marinade — get slapped with little green stickers to alert customers. More blatantly haram items are confined to La Cave, a glassed-in room at the back of the store for goods containing alcohol, pork or tobacco. Wearing special blue gloves, La Cave's staff handle haram goods and seal them in airtight pink plastic wrapping after purchase, so as not to contaminate the main store. "I'm so scared," said Norini Razak, a 23-year-old regular Carrefour shopper in a grey-and-white hijab. "It's difficult for one to know what is halal and what is not, so I'd prefer to go to a shop with labels [to help me]."

Read: "Should a Pious Muslim Practice Yoga?"

See pictures of the end of Ramadan

It's Not Just Business
The rising concerns of consumers like Razak herald not just a global economic trend, but a cultural one. During the 1980s and '90s, many Muslims in Egypt, Jordan and other Middle Eastern countries expressed their religious principles by voting Islamic. Today, a growing number are doing so by buying Islamic, connecting to their Muslim roots by what they eat, wear and play on their iPods. Rising Muslim consumerism undermines the specious argument often heard after 9/11: that Muslims hate the Western way of life, with its emphasis on choice and consumerism. The growing Muslim market is a sign of a newly confident Islamic identity — one based not on politics but on personal lifestyles. "Muslims will spend their money more readily on halal food and products than on political causes," says Zahed Amanullah, European managing director of the California-based Zabihah.com, an online guide to the global halal marketplace.

Like many Muslim Americans, Amanullah grew up eating Jewish kosher food in order to conform to Muslim strictures on animal slaughter. But increasingly, there's no need for Muslims to go kosher. Zabihah offers tens of thousands of reviews of halal restaurants, from fried chicken joints in Dallas to pan-Asian restaurants in Singapore. Says Amanullah: "We can't keep up."

The dazzling range of new products and services also reflects the seismic social changes under way in the Muslim world. One of the reasons why halal frozen food, lunch-box treats and quick-fix dinners are growing in popularity is that many more Muslim women, from Egypt to Malaysia, have full-time jobs.

Western Muslims, whose minority status sharpens their sense of identity, are also helping refine the notion of a Muslim lifestyle. In Britain, advertisers are increasingly embracing the power of the "green" pound (that's Islamic green, not environmental green), says Sarah Joseph, editor of Emel, a glossy lifestyle monthly for British Muslims. When Emel launched in 2003, the notion of a Muslim lifestyle barely existed. "People were confused that we could present everything from food, fashion, travel and gardening, all from a Muslim perspective," says Joseph. But Muslims are the fastest-growing segment of the middle class in Britain; they have big families — an average of 3.4 children against the national average of 1.9 — so they buy big cars; they spend money on home decoration and twice-yearly vacations — "not just going back to Pakistan or Bangladesh, like their [immigrant] parents did," says Joseph. Bucking the current publishing trend, Emel is hiring extra staff and planning new magazines to cater to Muslim readers. Advertisers include British Airways and banking giant HSBC.

To keep growing, halal firms know they can't simply rely on religion. "Ideology does not fit within a consumer mindset," observes Amanullah of Zabihah.com. "At the end of the day, people will not buy halal simply because it's halal. They're going to buy quality food. Ideology doesn't make a better-tasting burger, a better car, or a better computer." But it sure makes a powerful marketing pitch.
With reporting by Shadiah Abdullah / Dubai

By the numbers ...
16% — Halal's share of global food industry
$632 billion— Annual halal food market
1.6 billion— Worldwide Muslim population

A Halal Shopping Cart
From fast food to fashion, the sector is thriving

Food
Non-Muslim multi-nationals such as KFC and Nestlé dominate the halal food market. But Muslim-
owned manufacturers such as Dubai-based Al Islami — which sells everything 
 from chicken burgers to packaged ingredients — are growing fast.

Lifestyle
Muslims — many of them young and increasingly middle-class — are buying more magazines, such as U.K.-based Emel, and halal cosmetics made, like these Saaf products, without alcohol or animal fats, which Islam considers haram, or forbidden.

Services
Hotels run along Islamic lines, such as Dubai's Villa Rotana, offer quieter and more family-friendly places to stay. Banks that operate according to Shari'a law 
 are doing well during 
 the global downturn because they tend to be 
 more conservative.

 

 
From: TodayNews5/18/09 3:03 AM 
To: SaraLeck  (2393 of 3931) 
 1440.2393 in reply to 1440.2378 

Yusuf embraces Cat Stevens legacy on new CD
By CHARLES J. GANS
Associated Press
2009-05-18 08:08 AM

The singer-songwriter Yusuf enjoys the reaction he gets driving through London in his '60s-vintage VW Kombi van which is custom-painted with artwork from his days as the artist known as Cat Stevens _ including images depicting such huge hits as "Peace Train" and "Moonshadow."

"Every time we rode that thing across town we'd get this amazing buzz. People would just look at it and smile and that's the kind of message I'm sending out with my music," said Yusuf, now 60.

The VW van is prominently displayed on the gray-bearded Yusuf's new CD "roadsinger (to warm you through the night)," symbolizing his desire to embrace his Cat Stevens legacy. He is picking up where he left off 30 years ago when he became a Muslim, changed his name to Yusuf Islam and walked away from the "Catmania" of pop stardom.

Yusuf, who prefers to use only his first name to foster a more intimate relationship with listeners, now feels he can square his Muslim beliefs with a return to the introspective folk-tale and storytelling songs that made Cat Stevens one of the most popular artists of the 1970s, with career sales of more than 60 million albums.

"I wanted to prove that there's music in this Muslim," Yusuf said by telephone from his headquarters in London, near one of the Islamic schools he founded as part of his charity work using royalties from his Cat Stevens recordings.

"I think Muslims should work a little bit harder at making people a bit more at ease and to create an atmosphere of happiness, which is what we need. I think that's what this record does, that's what my music used to do and it still does," he said, a few days before heading to Los Angeles for his first West Coast performance in 33 years, mixing tunes from the new album with past hits like "Wild World" and "Father and Son."

After his singer-songwriter son, Yoriyos (Muhammad Islam), inspired him to pick up the guitar again, Yusuf tested the waters with the 2006 comeback album "An Other Cup," his first collection of pop songs in 28 years. That record mixed Eastern and Western influences, using new technologies and overdubbing that sometimes overshadowed his voice and guitar.

On "roadsinger," Yusuf says he's returned to the "very stripped-down musical approach" _ with minimal overdubbing _ that he adopted for his introspective 1970 folk-rock album "Mona Bone Jakon" and the breakthrough "Tea for the Tillerman" after he had nearly succumbed to tuberculosis.

"A lot of people were very complimentary about `An Other Cup' and they were extremely surprised that I still sound like me," he said. "The only other point they made was that they wished there were more of the bare guitar-style songs which I used to do in the `Tea for the Tillerman' days."

Yusuf had a further epiphany on a flight to the U.S. when he listened to an inflight music channel featuring the L.A. vibe of the 1970s with singer-songwriters like Joni Mitchell, Carole King, James Taylor and Jackson Browne.

"I realized that I was so much a part of that sound and perhaps it wouldn't be a sin if I just got back to doing some of that kind of style again," he said with a laugh. "I've come back to a very simple approach to songwriting and recording."

Yusuf says the album's opening song, "Welcome Home," symbolizes his return to what he does well. The darker "The Rain" _ about Noah and the flood _ was reworked from a song on a '60s demo tape. The gentle piano melody of "Sitting" (from 1972's "Catch Bull at Four" album) introduces a new song featuring a phrase by the 13th century German theologian Meister Eckhart, "To be what you must/ You must give up what you are," that Yusuf says sums up his own spiritual journey.

Yusuf also deals with the prejudice he's encountered as a Muslim. "The Roadsinger" tells of a troubadour who's treated like a stranger on returning to his hometown but then finds "the path to heaven ... in the desert sand" of a foreign country. The singer now spends part of each year in Dubai, which he describes as "a modern Muslim country with a futuristic approach."

A father of five, Yusuf says he was "quite horrified" at some newspaper headlines about him. In 1989, he says, British media misinterpreted his remarks in a lecture as supporting the Iranian fatwa condemning author Salman Rushdie. In 2005, he won libel damages from two British papers after they falsely claimed he supported terrorism.

"I couldn't recognize myself, and so it's no wonder that no one else could either," said Yusuf, whose charitable organization Small Kindness helps children in the Balkans, Iraq, Darfur and Indonesia. "That's why again, it's so important that I've come back to singing what I feel and people can get much closer to me that way than by reading the headlines."

"Boots and Sand," a bonus track on the CD sold through iTunes and Best Buy, with backup vocals by Dolly Parton, Paul McCartney and Allison Krauss, takes a lighthearted look at the 2004 incident when he was denied entry into the United States because his name was similar to one on a U.S. government "no-fly list."

Three of the songs on "roadsinger" _ "World O' Darkness," "This Glass World," and the instrumental "Shamsia" _ were written for "Moonshadow," a musical about a boy's journey from a world of perpetual night to a world of light, that Yusuf hopes will open on London's West End next year. The score also includes such older songs as "Father and Son," "On the Road to Find Out" and "The First Cut Is the Deepest."

The musical takes Yusuf back full circle to his pre-Cat Stevens days when the child born as Steven Demetre Georgiou heard music coming from West End theaters near his parents' Moulin Rouge restaurant.

"Musicals were my first love and then came the Beatles," said Yusuf. "It's amazing that after all this time, after having written so many songs and lived so much of my life, now having the opportunity to put all that into a musical is quite a miracle."

He started relating again to his past songs in 2000 when he was asked to help produce a boxed set of his work. Then he gradually began performing his old songs again, at first for benefits, such as an a cappella version of "Peace Train" he did as a message of unity for the post-9/11 Concert for New York City in October 2001.

"That whole process ... kind of helped me realize that perhaps my legacy should not be totally forgotten ... that I had contributed something and it was worth revisiting."

But Yusuf has no misgivings about leaving pop music for so many years. "I don't really regret not having been involved in the music business because I think I made my exit at an appropriate time ... and if you look at what was happening musically at that time, it was probably the right time to go," he said.

"But there are more interesting things happening today with the advent of the Internet. ... A lot of people my age as well as youngsters appreciate this style of music because I've always written from the heart and I've always written what I believe to be true so that's got to be valid."

 

 
From: TodayNews5/18/09 3:05 AM 
To: SaraLeck  (2394 of 3931) 
 1440.2394 in reply to 1440.2379 

Cultural Identity in the Islamic World
by Navid Kermani

A colleague of mine who now works as an editor at a large German daily newspaper told me about an experience he had while enroling in Jewish Studies. Since the main currents of Judaism and Islam both flow through the same cultural space with a strong Arab influence, he thought it would be wise to pursue a minor in Islamic Studies. When he informed his academic adviser of his plans, she quizzically replied: "You want to study both? Well, you'll just have to decide if you're for the Arabs or the Jews." Although she was a young university lecturer, and this example is not typical, it does say a lot about how Europe projects its own, modern categories on the history of the Orient -- which you must admit also includes Judaism and Christianity.

Many large universities have departments for Islamic, Jewish and Christian Oriental Studies. However, as a rule these are almost never interconnected. Only very few students in Islamic Studies take any note of the relevant works of non-Muslim authors -- even though these texts may have been written at the same time, in the same city, possibly even in the very same street, as the treatise or poem they are currently reading. For example, students in Christian Oriental Studies often know little more about the great poems of Jewish Arabs than that they exist -- despite the fact that, like much of Muslim poetry, their motifs and ideas are often enough not specifically Jewish, but rather secular. These works grew out of the immediate context of Arab poetry and its various genres, and out of a shared tradition that is Islamic in character. Similarly, only very few students in Jewish Studies learn Arabic, despite the fact that the authors of significant works of Jewish philosophy, poetry and mysticism spoke Arabic, and wrote their works in Arabic for an Arabic-speaking audience.

The various artistic and religious traditions, and the literature and cuisine of the Arab cultural space are historically so tightly interwoven -- often to the point of being indistinguishable from one another -- that they must be portrayed and studied together. Thus Islamic theology consists to a considerable extent of answers to questions that emerged from Judaism and Christianity, either through their respective religious traditions, or through direct, person-to-person contact at the courts and intellectual centres of Baghdad, Kufa or Cordoba. One needs to know the questions to be able to understand the answers. Much the same holds true for Judaism: recent research suggests that the way not only Europe, but also rabbinic thought, absorbed the heritage of antiquity was strongly influenced by Islamic culture. Without knowledge of Islamic culture, it is almost impossible to realize the effect that Judaism had on Islam and, at a later date, Islam on Judaism -- in the area of theology and, even more noticeably, in literature and mysticism.

In the formative phases of Judaism and Islam -- and of Christianity -- identities were barely as clear-cut as it appears today. For example, the "we" in Arab philosophy and poetry often enough does not mean "we Muslims" or "we Jews", but rather "we philosophers", and is thereby opposed to the "you" of Islamic or Jewish mysticism and legal science. Reading these texts from an exclusively Jewish or Islamic Studies perspective automatically limits the depth of their meaning and places too strong an emphasis on religious-confessional aspects in their interpretation. As a result, texts, authors and historical developments that originally by no means referred to any specific religious identity, are today read in a confessional light. In a fashion that bears astounding resemblance to Islamist views, early Oriental Studies hypothesized a primordial state of Islam and aimed to determine to what extent the history and culture of Islam conforms to, or diverges from, it. As a result, any non-religious phenomena, discourses or schools of thought were almost automatically judged by these scholars to be unorthodox, instead of being viewed as autonomous subjects -- as would be the case, for the sake of argument, with Shakespeare, World War II or the Phenomenology of Mind, which all have a religious dimension but cannot possibly be reduced to it. Despite the fact that this essentialist view has long been questioned in Islamic Studies, it still dominates much of public discourse. Islamic scholar Aziz Al-Azmeh goes so far as to say that there exists "almost a complicity between Western commentators and Islamist ideologues", since both portray every phenomenon in the Islamic world as being rooted in the religious source texts of Islam (Die Islamisierung des Islam, Frankfurt am Main 1996). Such a normative approach to the history and present-day situation of the "Christian world" would automatically discredit itself. The West's secular worldview excludes the Orient, which it considers to be the typical example of a religious region where all cultural and political developments and events must be viewed from the perspective of religious faith.

This development is more than just another deplorable, yet given low student enrolment figures, negligible consequence of the German and European education system which has grown out of a hundred years of ossification in academia, it is a veritable scandal which endlessly reproduces historic falsification. Not only have the outlined views become a generally accepted, even exaggerated, part of Western perception, the much greater problem is that Jewish and Arab-Muslim societies have long since internalized the Western principles that separate Islamic, Jewish and Christian Oriental Studies from one another -- with catastrophic political consequences. The past decades have seen traditions in the Middle East retroactively nationalized and confessionalized, whereby a common -- not peaceful, but certainly intellectually open -- space was subdivided into many individual cells. Thus over the course of the modern age, Jewish philosophy, mysticism and literature were taken out of their Arab context and placed within a newly-fabricated national Jewish tradition; many Israeli philosophy books barely mention the fact that Maimonides, for example, spoke Arabic, constantly referred to his Muslim fellow philosophers, and engaged in inter-religious philosophical debate. In turn, Arab cultural history has been retroactively "Islamicized", that is, purged of its multi-religious dimension. In much the same way that Judaism has cut off the great Jewish-Arab poets and philosophers from their cultural and linguistic background in order to incorporate them into a national Jewish history, thereby negating the fact that they are deeply rooted in the Arab cultural space, the Arab world has chosen to ignore the fact that its identity was by no means shaped exclusively by Islam, and that its Jewish (and Christian) roots and branches have borne ample cultural fruit. It is important to recall that in a city like Baghdad, the ancient cultural centre of the Arab world, up until well into the 1940s Jews made up the largest segment of the population. A disproportionately large number of them were members of the intellectual elite, leaving their mark on the culture, the country and the renaissance of Arab literature in the modern age. Quite a few were even leaders in the Arab nationalism movement.

The reason why all of this has nearly completely vanished from our collective consciousness is obvious: it is due to the political conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, in which Arab nationalism is pitted against Zionism. To make the other side the enemy, the notion of "the other" had to be invented. With the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, this process is increasingly threatening the identity of Arab Christians, who have no place in a conflict with religious overtones between Jews and Arabs. Political in the beginning, the conflict has acquired a mythical dimension due to its being increasingly laden with religious meaning -- a primordial battle of sorts between peoples that one or two hundred years ago did not even view themselves as being distinct from one another. This supposedly age-old struggle urges people to profess ethnic loyalties that are themselves a product of modernity. The pressure to choose between Jewish and Arab identities becomes most painfully clear when one examines the situation of the Oriental Jews as illustrated by Samir's film "Forget Baghdad" and the writings of the Israeli intellectuals Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin and Ella Shohat.

Europe's cultural exchange with the Middle East reproduces the political fault lines rather than helping to close them. By engaging in cultural dialogue with either Israel or the Islamic world, Europe is once again tearing Judaism out of its current geographic and cultural context -- and incorporating it into the West. This is another reason why to all appearances Israel is today nothing more than a Western colony in the Middle East, thus fanning the fire of both Israeli and Arab resentment, and certainly not promoting prospects for the peaceful coexistence of Muslims, Christians and Jews. Peace will come to the Middle East only when Israel no longer behaves like an "implanted" Western colony in the Arab world and, in turn, when the Middle East is "Israelized", that is, when the Arab world moves beyond reluctantly accepting a Jewish state in the region because it is too weak to change this fact, to once and for all professing Israel's right to exist, also by recalling its own Jewish history.

German theories, in particular, on what shape a cultural dialogue should take almost never envision the Middle East as a common, multireligious area -- or as one day possibly even becoming a transnational unit. If anything, Germany views itself as a "moderator" between enemies. Viewing the parties to the conflict as fixed entities, not only in a political, but also in a cultural sense, merely reinforces the very same mind-sets of Jewish-Muslim confrontation that were originally brought about by anti- Semitism, followed by the Holocaust, and which led to the founding of the State of Israel and the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. By the same token, anyone in Germany or Europe who harbours resentment against either Jews or Muslims is most happy to express solidarity with their respective declared "enemies". Anti-Semitism always likes to point out the suffering that Israel imposes on the Palestinians, just as almost all radical critics of Islam in the West emphasize the special responsibility they feel for Israel.

The political conflict has continuously escalated since the Camp David and Taba peace talks broke down. At the same time, however, and to a great extent unbeknownst to the European public, a significant and increasingly vocal countermovement is emerging in the Muslim and Jewish world, and among Oriental Christians. It is a movement in literature, art and music -- and above all among theologians and historians -- that is striving to overcome national boundaries and religious barriers and to once again jointly think in terms of a common culture and history. However, these intellectuals must first free their own tradition from the fundamentalist stranglehold of both Western and their respective own ideologies, and subsequently develop a new, secular hermeneutics in the areas of religion, art and the humanities. This way of thinking champions religion, and precisely for this reason seeks to protect religion from being usurped by politics and nationalism. Although it is a budding movement within Judaism and Islam, there is no space for it to put down roots in the Middle East: no seminars exist in which the Torah and the Qur'an, or midrash and tafsir, can jointly be read by Jewish and Muslim scholars. There is no academy at which the threads of Jewish, Christian and Islamic Middle Eastern art and culture could be woven together, and even Arabic-Hebrew literary exchange has shrunk to a bare minimum. Some dialogues do exist, however these presuppose separate entities that are attempting to communicate with one another. Middle Eastern Jews, Muslims and Christians viewing and studying their cultures as a common heritage -- as opposed to each assuming a supposedly unique role -- remains a utopia. Festivals that provide a forum for Arab and Israeli art and culture, and universities and academies that offer joint courses in the Qur'an and the Bible, midrash and tafsir, cabbalah and Sufism, thereby placing them in their original relation to one another, are today only feasible in exile -- in the West, of all places, which bears part of the blame for the present-day impossible situation.

I therefore call for the entire region with a Mediterranean influence (in the broadest sense, the region between Berlin and Tehran, including Jerusalem, Haifa, Istanbul, Cairo/Alexandria, Beirut, Palermo, Sarajevo, Seville, Barcelona, Marrakesh and many other centres) to be viewed as constituting a common cultural space. There would then no longer be any point in speaking of a dialogue, because "we" would be one "of them". It is not sufficient to simply reject America's neoconservative vision for the future that hypothesizes a New Europe and an Americanized Middle East --as was the case during the debate on the war in Iraq. Instead, Europe must develop its own cultural vision for its relations with the Middle East, a vision not based on dichotomy. By doing so, Germany and Europe would underscore their historical responsibility for the entire Middle East, not only for Israel. Rather than viewing the literatures, performing and visual arts of the Middle East as being opposed to European art, they should be understood and presented as an integral aspect of a culture that has jointly shaped the history of the Middle East and Europe. Emphasizing the intellectual and artistic significance of Jewish-Islamic cultural heritage for Europe is important in particular with regard to the current discussion on European identity. Europe is a secular project that owes its present-day shape and power of attraction not least to the historic catastrophes it brought on itself. As bloody as these experiences were, the humanism that transcended the dark chapters of European history to ultimately prevail in Europe, more than anywhere else in the world, is of inestimable value. In fact, this humanism is so valuable that one is tempted to call upon all people, regardless of their origin, to defend it against the self-appointed so-called "defenders of Europe". They are making Europe a creed, even a race, thereby turning the project of European enlightenment upside down, a project which, after all, is special precisely in that it constitutes a secular community of will that in principle is open to all citizens. Europe only has a future if it embraces the diversity of its religions, nations and languages. Considering its past and present, this also means that Europe only has a future if it embraces Judaism and Islam.

 

 
From: TodayNews5/18/09 3:05 AM 
To: SaraLeck  (2395 of 3931) 
 1440.2395 in reply to 1440.2380 

Obama’s Jewish Problem
Author: Joan Swirsky Bio
By Joan Swirsky Monday, May 18, 2009

imageIn times past, coalminers working in the depths of the earth took along caged canaries. As long as the canaries warbled, the miners knew they were safe from the methane and carbon monoxide that would kill them in minutes. But when the tiny songbirds stopped singing, the miners knew to run for their lives.

Jews have always been the canaries in the coal mines of civilization, serving as a warning of impending doom to those who believed, as Churchill said, that the crocodile—of tyranny—would eat them last. The Jews of Hitler’s Germany who listened carefully to the savage dictator’s early words, and watched as his promises of hope and change morphed into incremental losses of freedom and ultimately genocide, fled their country and survived, while the six-million who said “it can’t happen here”—as well as six-million non-Jews who believed they were immune—perished in the largest mass-murder in history.

After Hitler’s brutal annihilation of half the Jews on earth, the straggling survivors established the State of Israel, which in less than 50 years became a formidable power, and also a world obsession—admired and respected but also envied and loathed.

Since Israel’s founding in 1948, America has been the Jewish state’s most steadfast supporter, even when this or that president was not particularly enamored of “the Jews”—with the stark exception of Jimmy Carter who, to this day, oozes Jew-hatred from his aging pores. Why? Because, unlike every state in the Middle East and every anti-freedom regime on earth, Israel embodies all of our country’s values—the ideal of democracy, the rule of law, a determination to fight the enemies of Western civilization, and a fidelity to the Judeo-Christian ethics that have made both America and Israel shining lights among freedom-loving nations.

Today, with the advent of the Obama administration, Israeli canaries are chirping loudly, warning the entire world, particularly America but also Europe, that if Israel is sacrificed to Obama’s far-left anti-Israel and anti-American agenda, then freedom-loving, God-fearing countries around the world will be suffocated and sacrificed to a new American caliphate—to the harsh and inflexible rule of Islamic theology, philosophy and law.
SHARPENING THE MACHETE

To prepare for his meeting on May 18 with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Obama prepared a menu of poison pills—the kind given to people with the same Hobson’s Choice that Mafia attorney Tom Hagen gave to the imprisoned and about-to-testify-before-Congress Frankie Pentangeli in “Godfather Two”—either commit suicide or we’re going to kill you. Examples abound.

* Just the other day, Obama announced he will be addressing the Arab and Muslim world from a mosque in the city of Al-Azhar in Egypt—a location writer Ruth S. King has described as “the locus of Koranic-inspired Jihad.” Indeed, this Sunni bastion supports suicide-bombings. And only last week, according to JihadWatch.org, Sheikh Ali Osman of the Egyptian government said “Pigs are Jews cursed by Allah, and thus can be lawfully slaughtered.”
* This week, by Executive Order, Obama directed the expenditure of $20.3 million—of U.S. taxpayers’ dollars—in “migration assistance” to the Palestinian refugees and “conflict victims” in Gaza, which allows hundreds of thousands of Palestinians with ties to Hamas and its Islamic Resistance Movement to resettle in the United States. Presidential Determination No. 2009-15 of January 27, 2009 was recorded in the Federal Register on February 4.
* Also this week, Obama submitted a budget to Congress that while increasing military aid to Israel for the Arrow 3, cut in half aid for the Arrow 2 and significantly reduced aid for short-range missile interceptors, just as Iran is strengthening its conventional ballistic missile force.
* This month, Obama refused to meet with Netanyahu for the P.M.’s planned visit to address the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Conference in D.C.

* At the same AIPAC meeting Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel reportedly told donors that America’s ability to face Iran depended on Israel’s ability to make progress with the Palestinians, once again echoing the tired Leftist canard that all conflicts in the Middle East are the result not of the jihadist mentality, but rather the failure of Israel to accept their virulently anti-Semitic propaganda (in the media and in schools), non-stop homicide bombings, and relentless rocket attacks..
* In numerous Obama-sanctioned public statements, his henchmen have, in the common vernacular, put the screws to Israel, among them Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who threatened: “For Israel to get the kind of strong support it’s looking for vis-√†-vis Iran, it can’t stay on the sideline with respect to the Palestinians and the peace efforts ... they go hand in hand,” and National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones who recently told a European foreign minister that the U.S. is planning to build an anti-Israel coalition with the Arabs and Europe to compel Israel to surrender Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem to the Palestinians.
* Obama let it be known that his plan for a “two-state solution” was perfectly in-sync with the wipe-Israel-off-the-map crowd, including terrorist-sponsoring Syria and Saudi Arabia, among others. And what sweet nothings do you suppose Obama whispered into the ears of Iran’s Ahmadinejad that just prompted the sudden release from jail of the Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi?
* And let’s not forget that Obama’s first phone call to a head of state was to Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Fatah party in the Palestinian territory, and who also wrote his doctoral thesis denying the Holocaust. Did I mention Abbas’ loyal second-in-command fealty to “the father of terrorism,” Yasir Arafat?
* Or that Obama gave his first TV interview to Al Arabia television.
* Or that Obama summarily dismissed all charges against the Muslim murderers of 17 American sailors on the USS Cole in Yemen in 2001.
* Or that Obama, according to David Patten at Newsmax.com, “is preparing to reinstate a fraud-riddled immigration program that has brought over 36,000 Somalis into the United States under questionable circumstances.”
* Or that Obama bowed so repugnantly on his recent European trip to the Saudi Arabian potentate.

This “genocidal hostility toward Israel,” as writer Mona Charen describes it, is Obama & Co.’s way of insuring that they succeed where former administrations have failed in bringing about the ever-elusive “two-state” solution—a “solution” Leftists like Obama have cravenly tried to delude much of the world into believing will magically resolve the world’s other conflicts.

Anne Bayefsky of www.eyeontheun.org explains Obama’s nefarious plans perfectly: “President Obama unveiled a new strategy for throwing Israel to the wolves. It takes the form of enthusiasm for the United Nations and international interlopers of all kinds. Instead of ensuring strong American control over the course of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations or the Arab-Israeli peace process, the Obama administration is busy inserting an international mob between the U.S. and Israel. The thinking goes: If Israel doesn’t fall into an American line, Obama will step out of the way, claim his hands are tied, and let the U.N. and other international gangsters have at their prey.”

The Obama formula, based not on an American or Israeli plan but rather on the “Saudi Peace Initiative,” involves:

* Forcing Israel to withdraw to 1967 cease-fire lines, or as the late Israeli foreign minister Abba Eban called them, “the borders of Auschwitz.”
* Demanding that Israel withdraw from the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, the Golan Heights and eastern Jerusalem, leaving behind important Biblical sites, the Temple Mount, and the country’s border security.
* Surrendering of over one-third of Israel’s water supply.
* Dividing Jerusalem in half, to make way for a Palestinian capital.
* Coercing Israel to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which writer Ariel Cohen of the Heritage Foundation said is tantamount to “demanding that a man in a rough neighborhood give up his shotgun when the criminal next door is getting a Kalashnikov.”
* Inundating Israel with millions of Palestinian refugees and their relatives from 1948, thus stripping the country of its Jewish ethos.
* De facto surrounding Israel with jihadists who live and die to kill the “infidel” Jews. As Judith Apter Klinhoffer writes, “Let us not forget, Iranian satellite Hezbollah is perched on Israel’s Northern border and Iranian satellite Hamas on the Southern one. An Iranian satellite on the Western one would complete the encirclement.”

As King Abdullah of Jordan told journalists after his recent meeting with President Obama—clearly referring to the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC)—“That is not a two-state solution; it is a 57-state solution.” Mmmm...Obama himself said during his campaign that he had visited “all 57” of the United States! And let’s not forget that during an interview with George Stephanopoulos, he said ..."in my Muslim faith...”—which he didn’t correct but his host rushed to correct.

GOING IN FOR THE KILL

In spite of more than a half-century of Arab belligerence, war-mongering, suicide bombings, and virulent anti-Israel propaganda blaring from mosques and the media, brainwashing school texts, maps that eliminate the Jewish state,and obdurate resistance to all peace initiatives, Caroline Glick says that “as far as the Obama administration is concerned, Israel is the only obstacle to peace....the Obama White House’s bald attempt to force Israel to take full blame for the Arab world’s hostility toward it is not the only way that it is casting Israel as the scapegoat for the region’s ills. In their bid to open direct diplomatic ties with Iran, Obama and his advisors are also blaming Israel for Iran’s nuclear program.”

“Even Ethan Bronner of the The New York Times pointed out,” Glick continues, “that Obama’s Middle East policy is not based on facts. If it were, the so-called ‘two state solution,’ which has failed repeatedly since 1993, would not be its centerpiece. Obama’s Middle East policy is based on ideology, not reality. Consequently, it is immune to rational argument. By blaming Israel for the absence of peace in the Middle East while ignoring the Palestinians’ refusal to accept Israel’s right to exist; by seeking to build an international coalition with Europe and the Arabs against Israel while glossing over the fact that at least the Arabs share Israel’s concerns about Iran; by exposing Israel’s nuclear arsenal and pressuring Israel to disarm while in the meantime courting the ayatollahs like an overeager bridegroom, the Obama administration is telling Israel that regardless of what it does, and what objective reality is, as far as the White House is concerned, Israel is to blame.”

Sound familiar? As I documented in recent articles—“Obama’s Revenge” and “The President Who Hates His Country”—Obama and his Leftist cronies revile Western civilization and all those evil white men who established the U.S. Constitution and the most productive, most generous and freest country in world history, as he so amply demonstrated in his recent apologize-for-America trip to Europe.

In an article, “The United Hates of America,” David Solway comments on “...the long and destabilizing campaign of the American Left against the political interests of its own country and its rush to embrace the dictatorial agendas of America’s most resolute enemies...’the unholy alliance’ between the radical Left and the Islamic Right.” Solway also comments on a new book by Jamie Glazov, “United in Hate”:

“Glazov’s “analysis,” Solway continues, “seems the only conceivable means of making sense of the leftist orgy of national treason, betrayal of genuine liberal principles, and passionate support of tyrants and demagogues. It also clarifies the bizarre and singular marriage between the Left and Islamism. Glazov writes that the ‘common denominator’ between two such improbable bedfellows—the one ostensibly promoting gender equality, freedom of speech, and a pluralistic society, and the other predicated on gender apartheid, theocratic coercion, and conformity to Sharia law—is a belief in redemptive violence. This is why so many on the secular Left...exulted in the carnage of 9/11, as did their fundamentalist counterparts in the Islamic world, like the Palestinians who danced in the street and handed out candies to celebrate the great event. For the members of the anti-American Left, their papers and speeches were the candies they distributed to mark this sublime and long-awaited triumph.

“Yet another important common denominator, Glazov explains, between the Western Left and Islamism is their shared hatred for the state of Israel, the only true, democratic nation in the Middle East and the West’s forward position in the war against an undeviating adversary. The Left abominates Israel as a mini-America, that is, as a colonial occupier of third world innocents, and as a symbol of all the things it loathes: ‘modernity, freedom, corporate capitalism and globalization—all things reviled by Muslim fundamentalists. It has thus allied itself with militant Islam on the principle that ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend.’”

So we know where Obama and his henchmen-and-women stand. And we know that they’ve read every Jew-hating, Israel-hating word of The Fatah (Palestinian) Constitution and agree with every defamatory, racist, genocidal tenet of this kill-the-Jews-and-destroy-Israel manifesto, which they apparently find less objectionable than the U.S. Constitution.
OBAMA’S ANTI-ISRAEL COLLABORATORS

Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State, has long and deep ties with the enemies of America and Israel. This is what Dick Morris, former advisor to President Clinton, and his wife, Eileen McGann, wrote last year:

[Hillary’s] relationship with terrorists began in the mid-1980s when she served on the Board of the New World Foundation, which gave funds to the Palestine Liberation Organization [when] the PLO was officially recognized by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization. In 1996, the First Lady initiated an outreach program to bring Muslim leaders to the White House.But, as terrorism expert Steve Emerson noted in the Wall Street Journal, ‘Curiously, nearly all of the leaders...came from Islamic fundamentalist organizations....Among these radical groups was the American Muslim Alliance (AMA) and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, both groups that support Hamas...The Palestinian terrorists know that Hillary hears their point of view...Abu Hamed, leader of the Al Aqsa Brigades in Gaza, [said], ‘We just hope that she will go until the end and change American policy.”

Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, has advocated ending all U.S. military aid to Israel. Ed Lasky at TheAmericanThinkercom writes that “Rice was John Kerry’s chief foreign policy adviser when he ran for President. One of the major steps Kerry suggested for dealing with the Middle East was to appoint James Baker and Jimmy Carter as negotiators. When furor erupted at the prospect of two of the most ardent foes of Israel being suggested to basically ride “roughshod” over Israel, Kerry backtracked and blamed his staff for the idea. His staff was Susan Rice.”

Lee Hamilton, asLasky writes, is a key Obama advisor on Middle Eastern affairs. A former Indiana Representative, Hamilton led the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group, which concluded, among other things, that the withdrawal of troops from Iraq should be coordinated with Syria and Iran! And that the U.S. should develop Syrian “goodwill” by pressuring Israel to surrender the Golan Heights and leave the West Bank—but not a word about dismantling Hamas or Hezbollah! Hamilton wrote in the NY Times that Hezbollah’s “hatred was created by Israel; it wasn’t there at the beginning.”

Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter’s National Security Advisor, has been one of Israel’s most consistently hostile critics and Hamas’s most ardent supporters, as well as a staunch admirer (both in writing and verbally) of Stephen Walt’s and John Mearsheimer’s virulently anti-Israel book, “The Israel Lobby,” which, among other things, contends that Jewish pressure, and not shared values, binds America and Israel together.

James ("F… the Jews") Baker, among the harshest detractors of Israel, has often engaged in raw anti-Semitic remarks, is known for coddling Middle East dictators (including Syria’s Assad), and has been heavily invested (through the Carlyle Group) in the Israel-hating country of Saudi Arabia. In fact, Baker’s law firm defended the Saudi Defense Minister who was sued for alleged complicity by the families of the World Trade Center victims.

Samantha Power, now on Obama’s National Security Council, has advocated ending all U.S. military aid to Israel and written of her willingness to “alienate a domestic constituency of tremendous political and financial import [American Jews]...it may more crucially mean sacrificing...billions of dollars, not in servicing Israel’s military, but actually investing in the state of Palestine.”

Believe me, the above is the short list. As Glick has written: “In the past, while anti-Israel politicians, policy makers and opinion shapers were accepted in Washington, they would not have felt comfortable brandishing their anti-Israel positions as qualifying credentials for high position...today in Washington there are powerful circles of political players for whom a person’s anti-Israel bona fides are his strongest suit.”
OBAMA’S COURT JEWS

Oh, I can hear the blather as I type: But what about all the Jews who voted for Obama and are in his cabinet and among his advisors? Make no mistake—Obama’s Court Jews are identical to those of the past who financed, supported, licked the boots of and sold out their people in order to gain the personal influence, privileges, wealth, and protection that the “nobles” afforded them. They helped Roman emperors kill Jews. They helped Hitler kill Jews. But after their groveling and traitorous service, they were blamed for economic downturns and used as scapegoats to explain away the failures of the evil regimes and leaders they abetted. Fools and dupes, to a person!

Journalist Melanie Phillips writes that “Obama is attempting to throw Israel under the Islamist bus, and he’s getting American Jews to do his dirty work for him...none of this, however, should come as the slightest surprise to anyone who paid any attention to Obama’s background, associations and friendships before he became President and to the cabal of Israel-bashers, appeasers and Jew-haters he appointed to his administration, with a few useful idiots thrown in for plausible deniability.”

In an article entitled THE FINAL SOLUTION—What Hitler didn’t finish, Obamawill, blogger Daniel Greenfield (Sultanknish.blogspot.com) explains:

Obama has been clever about putting his Jewish appointees front and center. Like many minorities, some American Jews suffer from self-esteem problems that are soothed when they see a seeming acceptance. Of course what they fail to realize is that exploitation is not acceptance. And that Obama’s appointees are creatures of his backers, Nazi collaborators like Soros, who have nothing but contempt for Jews, individually or collectively.

While outwardly courting Jews, Obama’s people have also been quietly shoving Jewish organizations and their leaders into a corner. Within the Jewish organizational world there has been a silent but deadly takeover of major Jewish groups by left wing radicals. Former alumni of the far left wing and anti-Israel groups like Breira or Coname in the 70’s have been elevated to key positions in such organizations as the UJA Federation. Behind the scenes any Jewish leaders who expressed even doubts about Obama during the primaries were intimidated and silenced. The overall idea is to keep a happy face pasted on American Jewry while the knives are out in the dark.

But why would people who hate Jews surround themselves with so many of them? As Don Vito Corleone warned his son Michael, “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” As much as the enemies of Jews hate them, they also fear them. They can’t figure out how a historically besieged people—whose population today is about 14 million, as compared to, say, Muslims, whose population is 1.3 billion—have not only managed to survive the Jew-targeting Inquisition, Crusades., pogroms. Concentration camps and pandemic outbreaks of anti-Semitism, but to flourish and rise to the top echelons of any community they’ve ever lived in. In short, they want the brains of the Jews and also the ability to blame them when things go wrong.

But don’t these smart Jews know they’re being used? Yes and no. They’ve studied history, but they think that the passage of time has made them immune from mistakes of the past. Of course they’re wrong. Fools and dupes always get fooled and duped. Unfortunately—actually, stupidly—too many Jews, over the ages, have been seduced by the hope-and-change rhetoric of the Left, so yearning are they to be “included” and “accepted” into cultures that have ultimately rejected them.
Just who are Obama’s Court Jews?

Rahm Emanuel, White House Chief of Staff and, in my opinion, Chief of Dupes. As writer Judith Apter Klinghoffer reminds us: “By choosing a Jewish chief of staff to do the dirty work, Obama showed himself a ‘worthy’ successor to LBJ. Arthur Goldberg was LBJ’s point man to read the riot act to Israel. It was his Jewish U.N. representative that was charged with berating Israel for daring to retaliate against Palestinian acts of terror in 1966 and to inform Israel that it should not rely on any American assistance against Nasser in may 1967.” And now Emanuel is taking the bait, currying favor for his figurative 10-minutes of fame, the better to sell out his Israeli-born father and the land his father heroically fought for in the early years of Israel’s existence.

David Axelrod, the chief strategist and media advisor for Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and now a White House insider, is not front-and-center about his hero’s antagonism toward Israel. But as the old chestnut says: Silence is Consent!

Robert Malley is another fan of Hamas and Hezbollah. According to Wikipedia, Malley is the son of Simon Malley, an Egyptian-born Jewish journalist, and Barbara Silverstein, a New Yorker who worked for the U.N. delegation of the Algerian National Liberation Front. Both loathed Israel and apparently passed their toxic DNA onto their son. Malley has often called for an end to all aid to Israel.

Dennis Ross, Obama’s special adviser for the Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia, which includes Iran, participated in 12 years of failed Israeli-Palestinian “peace” efforts. In 2001, he suggested that future negotiations ought to be based on “something the parties have put on the table, and not [what] the United States has put on the table.” Translated today, that would mean listening to the 22 hostile states that surround Israel and saying “majority rules!”

George Soros, the Budapest-born multibillionaire (and Nazi collaborator) has devoted his entire life, as writer Srdja Trifkovic points out, to supporting “increased government spending and tax increases, drug legalization, euthanasia, open borders and immigration, immigrant entitlements, feminism, free abortion-on-demand, affirmative action, and gay rights” and “remains primarily committed to destroying the remaining bastions of the family, sovereign nationhood, and Christian Faith...” He is also devoted to vilifying Israel and funding numerous groups that work unstintingly to bring about its destruction.

Again, this is the short list. But the entire list of Obama “advisors” on Middle East affairs is comprised of hard-core Leftists who want nothing more than to see America humiliated and Israel destroyed. AsLaskyhas said, “This is thecompany Barack Obama keeps.”
CONSEQUENCES BE DAMNED

Melanie Phillips calls the Obama administration’s “malice” toward Israel “incomprehensible in its suicidal stupidity.”

It is trying to make Israel play the role of Czechoslovakia in 1938, when Britain under Neville Chamberlain told it that if it didn’t submit to the Nazis it would stand alone—with the result that the following year, Hitler invaded Poland. Determined to prove that history repeats itself the second time as tragedy, America is trying to force Israel to destroy its security by accepting the creation of a terrorist Iranistan on its doorstep, under the threat that otherwise the U.S. will not help protect its security by de-fanging Iran...but in doing so, the Obama administration is jeopardizing the security of America itself and the free world, not to mention the Arab states which have good reason to fear Iranian regional hegemony.

Indeed. As DEBKAfile reports:

* Tehran itself will not let Washington dictate the limits of its expanding influence (or) nuclear aspirations.
* Cairo and Riyadh will resist with all their might the U.S. bid to anoint Iran the crowning Middle East-Gulf power [and are] extremely concerned by Obama’s public endorsement of Turkey as the senior Muslim power in the Eastern Mediterranean and Central Asia, a boost for Ankara’s aspirations to resuscitate the Ottoman Empire.
* Jerusalem will resist being cast into a peripheral role in the strategic and military processes going forward with regard to Iran, the Palestinians, Syria and their terrorist arms, Hezbollah and Hamas, all of which bear pivotally on Israel’s future existence.
* Like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the Netanyahu government may not accept being crushed between two hostile regional powers, Iran and Turkey, whose aggressive pretensions Washington is promoting.

Amil Taheri points out: “Convinced that the Obama administration is preparing to retreat from the Middle East, Iran’s Khomeinist regime is intensifying its goal of regional domination. It has targeted six close allies of the U.S.: Egypt, Lebanon, Bahrain, Morocco, Kuwait and Jordan, all of which are experiencing economic and/or political crises...Khomeinist propaganda is trying to portray Iran as a rising ‘superpower’ in the making while the United States is presented as the ‘sunset” power.’ The message is simple: The Americans are going, and we are coming...with pro-American and other democratic groups disheartened by the perceived weakness of the Obama administration, Tehran hopes its allies will win all the elections planned for this year in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.

And writer Tom Gross says that “the threat of a nuclear arsenal in the hands of the only government in the world (Iran) that promotes suicide bombing as a matter of state policy (by its client militias in Gaza, Lebanon, Iraq and elsewhere), and celebrates ‘martyrdom of its fellow Muslims’ in such attacks, is a threat quite unlike any the world has ever seen. The combination of weapons of mass destruction and jihadist ideology poses a problem of much greater magnitude than that when secular dictatorships and semi-dictatorships, such as Russia, China and North Korea and Pakistan, possess nuclear bombs. In addition to posing an existential threat to Israel, a nuclear Iran could mean the end of American influence in the Middle East. Tehran, not Washington would dominate oil in the region.”

But none of these threats, not only to the Middle East but also to America, are of any import to President Obama. In his single-minded obsession to appease our enemies and get rid of his “Jewish problem,” he is willing to sacrifice the safety and security of America, the country he can’t stop apologizing for. Or is that he has a Muslim problem and the Jews and Israel are simply in the way?

 

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