Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Holocaust Remembrance Sans Jewry: Whassup With That?

In a crazy world which esteems victimhood above all else, it sticks in the craw of many that, because of the Holocaust, the Jews have a shot at claiming the all-time numero uno victimhood "prize" (an award which, in a saner world, no one would want to claim). Hence an unseemly and perplexing sight, one examined by James Kirchick--Holocaust memorials that memorialize all genocides in a bid to "deny the specific suffering of Jews in the Shoah" as the memorializers try to "de-legitimize the Jewish state":
On Thursday, Israel will mark Holocaust Remembrance Day, Yom HaShoah. As has been the custom for over six decades, a 2-minute air raid siren will be blared across the entire country and citizens from all walks of life will interrupt their daily routines for a moment of solemn reflection. Jan. 27 of this year also marked the decade anniversary of the United Nations-designated International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which member states are encouraged to commemorate. Though an Israeli initiative, International Holocaust Remembrance Day has gradually been subjected to the universalizing prescriptions of those who would water down the particularly Jewish aspect of the Nazi extermination of the Jews. 
The evolution of two different days of Holocaust commemoration and the ways they increasingly run counter to each other are symptomatic of the seizure of Jewish history and suffering for ulterior purposes. This victim displacement appropriates the most traumatic experience in Jewish history, pointedly erases the specificity of the events supposedly being commemorated, and then harshly chides Jews for inserting their own particularistic concerns into the discussion. At a certain point, these phenomena become a continuation of a specific form of oppression and erasure rather an antidote to “hatred.”
Kirchick describes two strains of universalization--the malign sort that's being exercised by the likes of Britain’s National Union of Students, and the "innocuous" sort, say like Justin Trudeau's:
Sometimes, the speaking of a Holocaust without Jews can be innocuous, the result of a muddle-headed utopianism that desperately avoids singling out any one group’s suffering as having been worse than any other’s. When Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau omitted any mention of Jews or anti-Semitism in his first commemorative statement for International Holocaust Remembrance Day, it was not due to any conscious bigotry on his part but a sort of purblind, mushy progressivism. Still, it is distressing that the sort of Holocaust revisionism that was always the sole province of the far right and Arab nationalists—simultaneously denying the Shoah while hijacking it to bully Jews as “the new Nazis”—is, in newfangled form, becoming a badge of progressive virtue.
The point to make here is  that "purblind, mushy progressivism" can be every bit as dangerous/damaging as the splenetic Jew-hate of the "conscious" bigots.

Tarek Fatah Eviscerates Harpoon Siddiqui--and It's a Thing of Beauty

The other day I posted a letter to the National Post written by Harpoon Siddiqui. A response to another letter to the editor, Harpoon's contended that he was not in any way hateful toward Israel. It's just that, over the years, he has felt the need to condemn that awful "Occupation," and that many Jews have done exactly the same. (An argument that, sorry Harpoon, sounds a lot like that "some of my best friends are Jewish" line, the one that's a perennial favorite among Jew-haters.)

Today in the Toronto Sun, Tarek Fatah takes Harpoon apart piece by piece, accusing him of having "fanned the flames of victimhood among Muslims, while looking the other way as Islamism spread":
In the post-911 era, Siddiqui was often the champion of all things Islamist, including Muslim mediation/arbitration courts for divorce proceedings in Canada, while attacking Muslim opponents of sharia. 
Siddiqui, for example, mocked a Quebec Muslim legislator, Fatima Houda-Pepin, who led the charge against creeping sharia, as “reportedly not a practising Muslim” and suggested she was “reviled” by many Muslims. 
On Jan. 21, 2001, during an infamous case of a young Nigerian woman who was sentenced by a Nigerian sharia court to 100 lashes, he trivialized the outcry against the punishment. 
Defending sharia as “good law,” Siddiqui wrote, “The sharia, however, is popular. It has restored order to a corrupt, lawless society.” 
Instead of falsely accusing others of Islamophobia, perhaps Siddiqui should reflect on his own lack of contribution in fighting the forces of international jihadism.
Read my lips: Never. Gonna. Happen.

Not in a jillion years.

The UN Asks: "Can Tweets Recruit for Terror"?

This infograph depicts how the UN unpacks and hopes to remedy the sort of generic, non-specific "radicalization"/"extremism" that often leads to generic, non-specific "terror":
Oh, is that how it works? And here I thought it had something to do with young Muslims who are looking for meaning in their lives succumbing to the siren call of jihad.

Just goes to show how much I know.

Desperate for More Shekels, UNRWA Begs Saudis, Gulf States to Pony Up Big Bucks--Again

Were I on the receiving end of these recurring demands, I'd be pretty fed up by now. Then again, to not fund UNRWA would be to terminate the Palestinians' permanent refugee condition before it had the desired effect of terminating Israel--so you can expect the oily ones to come through once again.

Camperon Trips Up Corbyn With His Own Pro-Hamas Language

David Cameron sets a trap for Corbyn, and, foolishly, the Labour leader walks right into it:
David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn have repeatedly clashed in the Commons over Labour’s antisemitism crisis and the Labour leader’s past comments on Hamas and Hizbollah. 
The Prime Minister asked the Labour leader four times to withdraw his previous references to Hamas and Hizbollah as “friends”. 
Mr Corbyn did not withdraw the comments but said “obviously” anyone engaged in antisemitic acts was not his friend. 
Answering a question from a Conservative backbencher, Mr Cameron opened by saying it was important to “be clear about Hamas, they are a terrorist group intent on killing Jews and that’s why…combatting antisemitism in the Labour party will mean nothing until he [Mr Corbyn] withdraws the remark that they were his friends. He needs to do it and he should do it today.” 
Mr Corbyn responded: “Later today commemorations begin for Holocaust Memorial Day in Israel. I hope there is agreement…in sending our best wishes to those commemorating the occasion and sending a very clear statement that antisemitism has no place in our society whatsoever and we all have a duty to oppose it.” 
But the Prime Minister hit back by quoting Mr Corbyn’s comments made when the Labour leader described it as “an honour and a pleasure” to host a Parliamentary meeting where “our friends from Hizbollah will be attending”. Mr Cameron read out a section where Mr Corbyn also referred to “our friends from Hamas”. 
Mr Cameron said: “Hamas and Hizbollah believe in killing Jews, not just in Israel but around the world. Will he take this opportunity – withdraw that they are your friends.” 
Reading a prepared statement, Mr Corbyn said he had “made it very clear, Labour is an anti-racist party”...
"Anti-racist"--yes. But "anti-anti-Zionist"? No way.

The Lawfare Project's Victory Over Kuwait Airways Exposes Adamant Nature of Arab Hatred for Israel

First the victory, which was set in motion when an Israeli living in Geneva tried—and failed—to book a ticket on a Kuwait Airways flight. The Israeli then launched an anti-discrimination lawsuit and the rest, as they say, is history (H/t--VR):
The Lawfare Project has won an extraordinary victory against Kuwait Airways Corporation (KAC) and the Arab League boycott of Israel. A week after Lawfare Project Swiss Counsel Philippe Grumbach filed civil and criminal complaints against KAC in Geneva, the airline has halted all inter-European routes, effective immediately. 
All KAC flights between the United States and Europe were previously terminated last December, after the U.S. Department of Transportation determined that the airline was unequivocally operating in violation of federal anti-discrimination laws.  
After the filing of the Swiss actions, the airline was put on notice that "other KAC flights in Europe not routed through Kuwait may be targeted for similar complaints." LP had in fact engaged French counsel Pascal Markowicz and German Counsel Nathan Gelbart for parallel actions, but before they could file in their respective jurisdictions, KAC proactively terminated all of these routes to avoid further civil and criminal charges. The airline was obviously aware of its acute vulnerability to judicial findings of illegality and the levying of crippling associated penalties.
Here's the part that exposes the adamant nature of Arab hatred:
By cancelling these lucrative flight paths rather than admitting Israelis on KAC flights, the airline--a wholly owned instrumentality of the Kuwaiti government--is demonstrating its commitment to discrimination even while exposing itself to enormous pecuniary loss. 
Got that? Their hatred of Israel is so demented and so profound that they would sooner scupper their own business than not discriminate against one particular nationality.

"Funny" Question: Is Justin Trudeau "Good for the Jews?"

That's the theme of a May 15th event that, fittingly, is being held on the campus of York University. (Maybe afterwards they can discuss whether York U. is "good" for us.) Here are the deets (with my bolds):
A panel discussion that explores a wide range of issues and questions that Canadian Jews are asking about the switch in our Federal government, from Conservative to Liberal, and what is at stake for Jews both domestically and internationally on account of this change in leadership. Instead of debating a yes or no answer to the tongue-in-cheek question "Good for the Jews?" , the three panelists, all well-known public figures whose political positions appear to span the spectrum, will engage in a thoughtful and engaged discussion, moderated by the editor-in-chief of the Canadian Jewish News. Panelists: Jonathan Kay: Journalist, author and editor-in-cheif (sic) of The Walrus, and the editorial assistant on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s 2015 memoir. Karen Mock: Community activist, former National Director of the League of Human Rights of B’nai Brith, and the Liberal candidate for Thornhill in the 2011 federal election. Michael Taube: Troy Media syndicated columnist, Washington Times contributor, and speechwriter for former Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
It isn't entirely clear to me why the question is being asked "tongue-in-cheek." Considering what's at stake--and the Trudeau government's ongoing Syrian refugee madness--it seems pretty damn serious, I'd say.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

What Are Books By Arab Muslims (Including One About the Idyllic Times In Jerusalem Pre-"Nakba") Doing in the Toronto Public Library's "Asian Heritage Month" Booklet?

So I happened to be at the library earlier today, where I happened to pick up a booklet about Asian Heritage Month. The booklet, created by the Toronto Public Library, is a guide to programs being offered in conjunction with this "city-wide celebration of Asian culture"--things like a "Korean Traditional Dance and Drum Workshop" and a "Japanese Swordsmanship Demonstration" (which, I have to say, sounds pretty cool).

And, this being a library booklet, there's a section devoted to "Asian Heritage" books which the TPL has selected especially for adults, teens and kids.

Imagine my surprise when, turning to the books section, I found these two titles topping the adults' list:
Mazigh, Monia.
An intricate story follows the lives of three immigrant mothers who are guardians of traditions and their daughters who have the freedom to make their own choices.

Boullata, Issa J., 1929-, author.
A memoir of growing up in 1930s and 1940s Palestine and a love letter to the Jerusalem of his boyhood. 
Now, I'm no librarian--nor am I Asian--but it seems to me that Monia Mazigh, a Syrian-born Arab Muslim, qualifies as "Asian" only if you consider Syria to be part of Asia.

Similarly, Issa J. Boullate qualifies as "Asian" if you think "Palestine" is in Asia and not in the Middle East.

So why, pray tell, has the TPL selected these books for Asian Heritage Month?

Damned if I know.

One thing I do know, however: the blurbs about these books don't exactly capture their essence.

Here's a smidge more about Mazigh's book, from the TPL site:
In the spirit of Amy Tan's international bestselling novel The Joy Luck Club, Mirrors and Mirages is an intricately woven, deftly told story that follows the lives of women and their daughters. 
In Mirrors and Mirages, Monia Mazigh lets us into the lives of six women. They are immigrant mothers -- Emma, Samia, and Fauzia -- guardians of tradition who want their daughters to enjoy freedom in Western society. They are daughters -- Lama, Sally, and Louise, a young woman who converted to Islam for love -- university students who are clever and computer savvy. They decide for themselves whether or not to wear a veil, or niqab. Gradually, these women cross paths, and, without losing their authenticity, they become friends and rivals, mirrors and mirages of each other.
M'kay. But tell me what that's got to with Asia, Asians or Asian culture and we'll both know.

Here's some more about idyllic Palestinian boyhood book, also from the TPL site:
The distinguished Arabic scholar, author, and translator Issa J. Boullata grew up in a Palestinian family in the Jerusalem of the 1930s and 1940s, when Palestine was under the British Mandate. His memoir, The Bells of Memory, is delightful in its reflections on an idyllic youth and detailed in its recollections of family members, classmates and teachers, remembered scents and foods, the pleasures of reading, and his early experience of the working world. This is a love letter to a Jerusalem that was changed immeasurably by Al-Nakba, the Palestinian Catastrophe of 1948 that dispossessed the Palestinians of their homeland and dislocated many as refugees when Israel was established.
Oy vey! Not only is that not the least bit "Asian," it sounds like a bunch of anti-Israel propaganda. (Notice how there's nothing in the lengthier blurb about, when the Jews declared statehood following the UN vote, the combined armies of the Arab world launched an all-out war gainst the Israel. Meaning that Israel wasn't merely "established," it was forged in the fire of a bitter war--which the Arabs lost--and at the cost of many Jewish lives. There's also nothing about how the Arabs living in a newly-declared Israel were told by Arab leaders to leave until the Jews had been duly dispatched, at which point the Arabs could all return. But I suppose if you're pushing the Nakba narrative of eternal suffering and victimhood, that sort of stuff--a.k.a the truth--is, you should pardon the expression, a no-go zone.)

Turning to the titles recommended for kids, this one leapt out at me:
Sharafeddine, Fatima, author.
Join Ibn Battuta as he embarks on his journey to Mecca in 1325, where he travels through the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Asia.
Okay, at least he traveled to Asia. But the man himself was an Arab. From Morocco.

You know, the country in Africa?

Far be it from me to accuse anyone at the Toronto Public Library of having some sort of agenda. That said, though, the fact that these books made it into a TPL booklet for Asian Heritage Month seems more than a little odd--and way too "inclusive"--to me.

A Doodle Named Google Helps an 11-Year-Old Girl

So adorbs (both dog and child)!

Where's the "Queers Against Abu Dhabi Slave Labour"; The Raft of UN "Human Rights" Resolutions Condemning Abu Dhabi; The "Boycott, Divest & Sanction" an Oily Emirate?

Robert Fulford examines "What happens when high art meets hard labour?" More specifically, what happens when the Guggenheim Foundation greenlights the latest Guggenheim art museum edifice, another Frank Gehry extravaganza, to rise--and to be built by what amounts to slave labour--in Abu Dhabi:
Like most of the UAE, Abu Dhabi is suspected of underpaying its workers and otherwise mistreating them. Human Rights Watch and scores of other non-government organizations keep busy detailing the abuse of migrant construction workers in the region. 
Governments there do all they can to keep foreign organizations from studying the construction sites; police ban every journalist who sets out to interview workers. Commonplace headlines keep appearing along the lines of “Domestic Workers Trapped, Exploited and Abused in the UAE,” but they tend to be quickly forgotten. 
By all accounts the workers (most of them from south Asia) are among the wretched of the earth. They are there to send money home for their families, which means there’s no chance to build savings. Just to get the job many go into debt at the beginning for a recruitment fee of about USD $2,000. They can’t leave till they pay it back, which makes them prisoners. They find that police take only one side, the employer’s. 
The involvement of Gulf states in cultural enterprises and the welcome they get from institutions in the West raise moral questions. Should museums collaborate with the dubious practices of Gulf government? Should artists?
I would answer no to both questions, but it is clear, to paraphrase a familiar line, that "money corrupts, and Gulf state oil money corrupts absolutely."

World Press Freedom Day: A UN Initiative Meant to Press for the UN Agenda?

I heartily agree with the assertion that a free press is an essential element of a free society.  I have serious reservations, however, when the UN enters the fray and piggybacks its own Utopian agenda--one which has nothing to do with freedom--on such an occasion. Here, for instance, is what the UN considers to be a crucial aspect of this year's WPFD:
Furthermore, the year 2016 is also the first year of the 15 year life-cycle of the ambitious new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted in 2015 Press freedom and the right to information have a direct relevance to achieving these goals, and can also be seen as implicit goals themselves. The SDGs will set the agenda for many policy decisions in coming years, impact on resource mobilization and flows, and highlight the common interest in humanity in a durable process of improving the lives of every person.
That sounds an awful lot like Utopian Socialism to me--and the UN viewing freedom of the press as the "freedom" (its opposite, really) to carry water for one of the UN's 15 Year Plans (which are as likely to be as successful as any of Stalin's 5 Year Plans).