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Archive for the 'Middle East' Category

Fellow Travelers [updated]

July 8th, 2008 by Vincent

Over at the always-excellent Harry’s Place, I ran across this thought provoking piece about modern anti-Semitism which I thought was particularly illuminating, given this University’s continuing controversies surrounding the Pacifica Forum and certain of their guest lecturers.

The author, Anthony Julius, makes explicit a crucial distinction that I think has long been missing from the debate over anti-Zionism/anti-Semitism, that of the “fellow traveler”. The out-and-out anti-Semite is usually not difficult to spot. These are the David Irvings and Hassan Nasrallahs of the world. Their distaste for Jews is barely concealed, if at all.

The “fellow travelers”, on the other hand, are like their counterparts who rooted for the Soviet Union (and the author makes clear that the comparison is deliberate) in that they dissemble and downplay actual instances of anti-Semitism, often unconsciously. Sometimes, as in the case of Palestinian terrorism, anti-Semitic acts are explicitly justified as being appropriate (or even automatic) responses to “oppression” at the hands of Zionists (read: Jews). In many cases, however, the very same people would find, say, the vandalizing of a synagogue here in Eugene appalling. As with the Soviet Union’s fellow travelers, a distinction is draw between what is considered normal and acceptable elsewhere and what is intolerable at home.

The article is especially timely, as the Register Guard has, within the last week, published letters like this one today (July 8) by George Beres (you might have to scroll down… the RG’s letter’s page doesn’t allow linking to specific letters) and this one on July 5 by Valdas Anelauskas, who should already be familiar with readers of the Commentator for his comments regarding a piece written by former Oregon Daily Emerald columnist Deborah Bloom:

Even if the author’s name wasn’t Deborah Bloom, after reading your opinion piece in the Emerald (Feb. 7) there is no doubt that it was written by someone who is Jewish. Because only from people of that peculiar tribe can we expect such Talmudic hatred for humanity. There is even a famous saying that wars are the Jews’ harvest.

In any case, the piece is rather long (11 pages + 9 pages of footnotes), so I won’t attempt to summarize it any further; it really does merit reading all the way through. Julius’ recognition of the “fellow traveler” is, I think, an important and useful addition to the lexicon of the debate.


Here’s a fine (if somewhat nauseating) example of the “fellow traveler” phenomenon, though it’s not really so much about anti-Semitic themes as an apologia for Islamic fundamentalism from a hardcore Marxian perspective. (Also via Harry’s Place)

Israel’s 60

May 5th, 2008 by Sean Jin

With Israel’s 60th birthday coming up (May 14th), both our friendly neighborhood Jews, their proponents, and their opponents have been making a lot of noise. I’m not the biggest fan of Israel’s operations in Palestinian land, and I think a lot of the settlers use the victim mentality to justify pushing injustices on others. And no, criticism of Israel’s foreign and domestic policies does not equate to Anti-semitism.

But signs like “Israel @ 60: Celebrating Genocide” do not help the discussion of a convoluted and complicated issue. And yes, I saw those over campus today, including other ones that said “Celebrating Racism” and “Celebrating Terrorism”. I’m interested to see what else these clowns come up with.

THROWDOWN: The Anti-Imperialists Take on China

April 17th, 2008 by Vincent

In Sean Jin’s post about Zach Besaraba’s characterization of the furor over Tibet amounting to little more than “propaganda with the aim of maintaining US imperialism (for his part, Besaraba makes an attempt to clarify his position in the comments section), I suggested that the “anti-imperialism” crowd (substitute “anti-war”, if you like) has little time to waste on protesting against “imperialism” on the part of anyone besides the United States and Israel.

Well, I’m glad to say that in a letter to the editor of the Eugene Weekly, Pete Mandrapa has proven me wrong, taking China to task for its “deplorable” “actions” in Tibet. Indeed, “some human rights activists’ calls for the boycott of Beijing Olympics and disruption of the Olympic torch travels across the globe”, he says, are “understandable. Good for Pete Mandrava for joining the ranks of the decent left and unequivocally condeming totalitarian aggression wherever he sees it.

But wait! What’s this?

Not satisfied to merely take a principled stand against Chinese imperialism, Mandrapa cites actual horrors like Abu Ghraib alongside such hoary old chestnuts as the “hundreds of thousands of Iraqis” “slaughtered” by American troops (la resistance presumably murders civilians for a higher cause) and the “physical destruction” of that country to argue that as awful as the annexation and decades-long Chinese occupation of Tibet might be it isn’t nearly as bad as the American invasion of Iraq. Evidently, Mr. Mandrapa doesn’t spend much time reading the news, since the only way his comparison would really hold is if the Tibetian “resistance” was butchering mourners with suicide bombs and the Chinese military was working with the UN to restore habitat for oppressed minority populations as well as repairing decaying infrastructure and opening schools.

But never mind all that. This is the Eugene Weekly we’re talking about, and high rhetoric (not to mention high drama) is de rigueur.

Expect this meme to become increasingly common as the Olympic trials draw ever nearer. When moral equivalence is the name of the game, it’s safer to suggest that perhaps American athletes should be barred from competing than it is to risk your activist cred by looking like you’re siding with the neo-con imperialists. China might be bad, but the U.S. is always worse.


A similar dodge, this time from The Guardian.

Suicide Animals

September 2nd, 2007 by Sean Jin

So, as I sit here, watching the last 2 and a half hours of my teenage years ago by, I had a thought regarding Islamic extremist suicide bombers. My brother had told me earlier today about how the ancient Chinese military used oxen with explosives strapped to them as the first, primitive weapons delivery vehicles. Unfortunately for the oxen, they were used only once.

The oxen idea got me thinking…how long will it be before Islamic suicide bombers think…”Wait a minute! We don’t have to do this! We’ll get something like goats…or PIGS! Yeah, we hate pigs anyways, we’ll send them to blow up the infidels.” I’m surprised they haven’t figured it out yet. Hopefully they don’t find this blog and take my invention.

Osama bin Gulley

July 9th, 2007 by Sean Jin

Question: Sen. Nate Gulley and Osama bin Laden. What do they have in common? Answer to follow.

So this weekend, I took an experimental INTL class on ‘Militant Islam’, taught by Sociology/International Studies prof. Anita Weiss. We first studied the roots of Islam, how it started, and what some of its core values are. The general point of the class was to study the foundations of the faith and how it has become, in the average American mindset, such a militant and feared religion and culture.

Stemming from burns and wounds from the Crusades and European colonialism, many Islamic communities started different reform movements in the 1700s-1900s. Some called for more acceptance of the West, others said that Islam should be completely autonomous from the West, and yet others felt that the correct path of action was to overthrow their own governments and leaders for appeasing the infidels.

These are the roots of current Islamic extremism and militant-ness. At the core level, Islam actually has a check-and-balance system that says when the Islamic spiritual and political leaders are not following the religion, then the followers have a holy obligation to overthrow those leaders.

Osama bin Laden stated his mission as to destroy “infidel regimes, apostate rulers, and the ‘Crusader Alliance.'” The first and last are clearly the United States, Europe, and Israel. However, the second target, ‘apostate rulers’, refers to those Islamic leaders that have been lead astray by the West and gone against their roots and religion.

When I realized this, it resonated with something much closer in proximity. Something on campus. In essence, Osama bin Laden and these other militant groups are telling their spiritual and political leaders that they have ‘forgotten where they came from.’

Wait…where have I heard this before? Oh yeah. It seems like Osama bin Laden and Sen. Gulley have more in common than either thought. Perhaps bin Laden’s web-crawler will find this, realize how much he is like Gulley, and kill himself in shame.

This Day In History: The Six-Day War Begins…

June 5th, 2007 by Sho

IDF Soldiers at the Wailing WallOkay boys and girls, it’s history time!

Forty years ago, the Israeli Air Force launched Operation Focus, a massive airstrike that destroyed more than 450 Russian-built warplanes belonging to Egypt, Jordan and Syria. Nearly 200 Israeli aircraft participated in the strike, which allowed the Israelis to claim air superiority and permitted their jets to effectively support ground units. Egypt’s air force, which had been the largest and most modern air force in the Arab world at the time, was demolished and rendered nearly useless, while the Israelis lost only 19 planes.

The Israeli victory is one of the most astonishing in modern military history, with Israel tripling the area of its territory, humiliating the Arab community and stunning the international community. However, the victory was bittersweet as it led to the growing perception of Israel as a neo-colonial power rather than a scrappy underdog. More importantly, it dragged Israel into the never-ending conflict in the now occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Anyway, if you have the time, it’s interesting to take a look at a historical moment that has lasting repercussions to this day.

Hamas-keteers, anyone?

May 11th, 2007 by CJ Ciaramella

The Hamas government recently pulled a Palestinian children’s television program from the air that included a militant Mickey Mouse clone. Farfour, which means “butterfly,” bore an uncanny resemblance to the Disney icon. He appeared on the show “Tomorrow’s Pioneers” where he taught kids about the important things in life: being confident, setting goals, and working together.

“You and I are laying the foundation for a world led by Islamists,” Farfour squeaked in a recent episode. “We will return the Islamic community to its former greatness, and liberate Jerusalem, God willing, liberate Iraq, God willing, and liberate all the countries of the Muslims invaded by the murderers.”

Well, you got to start ’em early these days. Thankfully, Veggie Tales is the only religious cartoon subverting American children. On a side note, I would love to see an army of Disney lawyers bring down the hammer on this.


Political Censorship

December 21st, 2006 by Ian

You don’t see me linking to the New York Times very often, but this is worth reading.

Reports: Abu Musab al Zarqawi is dead

June 8th, 2006 by Michael G.

It’s 12:15 AM and reports are coming in on Eugene TV channel 16 stating that Abu Musab al Zarqawi was killed by U.S. Special forces. Nothing on Google news or Fox news on it just yet, so I’m leaving that question mark in the title until I see some more sources come in.

Update: Ian points out (in comments) that MSNBC has also stated that Zarqawi is dead
Update 2: Fox News is now reporting it as well, says it was a bombing attack that got him. Gabrielle also points out CNN‘s headline (story) (it feels so good to have gotten this online before they did!)

Update 3: Reuters UK reports that one of his key aides was captured.

Update 4: 12:55 AM, the Fox News site no longer has the Zarqawi headline. 12:58 Now they’ve replaced it with a story.

Reports are now all over Google News.

Three Things That Don’t Go Together: The State, The Press, and Religion

February 2nd, 2006 by Ian

Why? Because the people who do think they go together are insane:

In continuing protests, Palestinian gunmen shut the European Union office Thursday in Gaza City, writing on the door that the office would remain closed until the Europeans apologize to Muslims, Palestinian security sources told CNN.

Wearing masks, the men — from Islamic Jihad and the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of Fatah — fired bullets into the air and one of them read demands.

On Monday, a similar demonstration occurred in Gaza City to protest of a series of cartoons in a Danish newspaper considered offensive by many Muslims.

Palestinian officials said the gunmen were threatening to kidnap European workers if the European Union did not apologize.

Incredibly, a newspaper editor in France may even be worse:

Following the publication in Paris, according to the authoritative daily newspaper Le Monde, the publisher of France Soir, Raymond Lakah, fired the editorial director of the newspaper, Jacques Lefranc.

According to Le Monde, which described Lakah as “Franco-Egyptian,” the publisher issued a statement saying he had decided to fire Lefranc as president and director of the newspaper in “a strong sign of respect to the intimate convictions and beliefs of each individual.”

By “convictions and beliefs” he must mean the idea that threats and violence should overcome freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

Al Qaeda condemned to Supercuts

October 15th, 2005 by Skeletor Ogboggle

Al Qaeda’s barber arrested
Walid Muhammad Farhan Juwar al-Zubayadi, also known as “The Barber”, has been arrested by U.S. forces. Zubaydi actually is a professional barber who altered the hair and beard colors and styles of senior Al Qaeda members in order to help them evade capture. I guess from here on out the worlds most dangerous terrorists will have to sneak into the mall for their perms and custom dye jobs. One wonders how long they’ll last now.

Another Beheading in Iraq

June 22nd, 2004 by Sho

This time the victim is translator Kim Sun-il, 33, who worked for a South Korean company supplying goods to the U.S. army.