Thursday, December 31, 2009

The madness of Michael Scheuer

Michael Scheuer, who headed the CIA's so-called "bin Laden unit" during the Clinton presidency and in that role helped develop and put into practice "extraordinary rendition", has taken a trajectory toward increasingly radical and, frankly, batty thinking in recent years. That may explain his attraction to the equally batty Ron Paul, for whose 2008 presidential campaign Scheuer served as chief foreign policy adviser and legitimacy fig leaf. Scheuer's ideas on foreign policy now sometimes encompass contradictory extremes concerning the United States' role in the world -- a sort of cognitive dissonance tolerable only to an ideologue with an inflated opinion of his own abilities. Thus Scheuer the advocate for American exceptionalism and extraordinary rendition is also Scheuer the critic of American intervention who blames the United States for creating terrorism. His latest piece, published on Antiwar.com, is a case in point. It's title alone speaks volumes about Scheuer's confusion: Barack Obama, Interventionist and Ultimate Jihadi Hero. Here's a quote:

Then there is Iran. Listening to Obama as he spoke gave the impression that he was eager to get the Detroit-attack stuff out of the way so he could rhetorically intervene in Iran’s internal affairs. Joining with our allies — read other Western interventionists and pawns of Israel — Obama said he wanted to condemn the Tehran regime’s at-times-lethal crackdown on opposition demonstrators. He said that Ahmadinejad and the ruling clerics were trampling on the "universal rights" of Iranians, and that such actions must stop. There are, of course, no universal political rights; this idea is the pipedream of Western secular intellectuals and interventionists, and is part and parcel of the interventionist nonsense Obama included in his Nobel speech about the "perfectibility" of the human condition through the efforts of "enlightened" men and women.

Obama’s mind is emerging as a mind filled with war-causing secular theology of the French Revolution. That revolution was all about enlightened leaders "perfecting" the common man for what the revolutionary elite deemed to be his own good, and using the vehicles of government edict, fanatic secularism, and force to do so. (Sounds a bit like the universal health-care plan, doesn’t it?) The French Revolution went on to father Hitler, Stalin, the Khmer Rouge, and other mass-murdering regimes. In the American context, the revolution’s impact has been the slow but increasingly complete replacement of the Founders’ sturdy non-interventionism — which recognized the pivotal and necessary role religion plays in all polities — by our current bipartisan elite’s obsession with interfering in other peoples’ internal affairs, especially if those internal affairs are interwoven with religion. For Obama and most members of our governing elite, today’s Iran fairly screams for Western intervention to break the mullahs’ backs and install secularism; to destroy an Israeli foe and ensure AIPAC funds to continue to flow into their pockets; and to make them feel good about themselves, no matter the cost to Americans and their children.


Bad writing doesn't always reflect bad ideas, but in this case that connection is clear. Let's take the errors in that excerpt in order:

1) President Obama's reaction to the attempted airline bombing in Detroit has not been to avoid dealing with it, as Scheuer and others on the right (such as Dick Cheney) contend. The president has ordered immediate reviews of the errors which allowed the bomber to get a visa and board a plane with a bomb before issuing an official, in-depth response. That decision to get as much information about the issue as quickly as possible before he acts seems a wise one for any leader in such a situation, regardless of their ideological orientation. (The previous administration had no need for such a deliberative process considering that they predetermined their course of action before a review of facts. Their only consideration was how to sell that decision to the public in light of those facts.) When President Obama does issue a comprehensive official statement on the attack, such pointless criticisms as those made by Scheuer, Cheney, etc. will disappear to be replaced, no doubt, by other criticisms similarly motivated mostly by a desire to sling mud. Such criticisms really say nothing about the president's policies or his decision-making processes, but say a great deal about the partisan motivation of the critics.

2) Criticizing the horrendous human rights abuses committed by the Iranian regime hardly constitutes "rhetorically interven(ing) in Iran’s internal affairs" as Scheuer puts it. Those words, which could have come directly from the mouth of a spokesman for Ahmadinejad, set a ridiculous standard of what constitutes intervention. Scheuer's isolationism, in this instance, excludes any response whatsoever to the outrages committed by Iran's leaders against those unfortunate enough to live under their rule. That simply takes isolationism, or as he would term it "non-interventionism", to an absurd extreme.

3) Scheuer argues against the idea of universal rights, calling the very concept "the pipedream of Western secular intellectuals and interventionists". Setting aside the evident anti-intellectualism of the comment (and its inexplicable use of the word "secular"), Scheuer's idea that the concept of inalienable human rights -- the sort advocated by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison -- is somehow the product of elitist war-mongers is simply astounding. Scheuer, like Ron Paul, argues that he is motivated by a desire to restore the U.S. to a state envisioned by its founders, yet is painfully ignorant of American history. He absurdly links the Jeffersonian ideas embodied in the Declaration of Independence to "Hitler, Stalin, the Khmer Rouge, and other mass-murdering regimes", tenuously arguing that the French Revolution believed in those same ideas and (he says) that revolution went on inspire Hitler, Stalin, et al. As if that French connection weren't tenuous enough, Scheuer finds a way to throw the idea of universal health care into this logical morass, saying it's all a part of a plan by elites to control the lives of the masses. (Scheuer previously demonstrated a weak grasp of U.S. history by attributing the "America First" slogan of World War II isolationists to the founding fathers. Read here.)

4) Speaking of elites, Scheuer has no trouble identifying the "elite group" he claims to be behind the president's criticism of the Iranian regime's brutality: it's the Zionists. The president's condemnation of Iranian abuses, he says, is just part of a conspiracy to vanquish a foe of Israel which is being carried out by cash-wielding agents of AIPAC. Scheuer's anti-Israel paranoia is nothing new. In the past, he accused those who wanted to build the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum of putting Israel's interests before those of the United States. (Read here.) He also accused Americans who serve in the IDF of disloyalty, singling out for criticism Rahm Emanuel who actually served Israel in a civilian capacity. (Read here.) Scheuer likes to accuse Jews of being traitors.

The absurdity and bigotry of these paranoid views is evident. What remains unclear to me is how this man still maintains a good enough reputation as an expert on foreign affairs to qualify him to be interviewed on topics such as Afghanistan, about which he was interviewed recently by BBC World Service. How on earth can anyone read his ravings and continue to maintain that he is an expert on anything? It is bad enough when paranoid views are promoted on Fox News by a self-described "rodeo clown" such as Glenn Beck. Scheuer may be a clown, but he doesn't describe himself as one. Neither does the BBC. Maybe they should.

Judging by that BBC interview, Scheuer seems to have broken his habit of compulsively addressing his interviewers as "sir" or "ma'am" at least once per answer. That odd mannerism of excessive politeness just sounded a little quirky. However, he has already shown himself in many interviews and columns to be a proponent of paranoid views concerning Jews, dangerously ignorant about history, and biased beyond reason against President Obama. Now that he has added this column defending the right of the Iranian regime to oppress its people, condemning those who criticize that horror, and summarily dismissing the Jeffersonian ideals upon which this country is based as being of a piece with Nazism and Stalinism, maybe its time for news organizations and presidential candidates to stop giving Scheuer a forum.


http://farm1.static.flickr.com/219/512483040_7bfae51f15.jpg

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"'Palestinians drove Iraqi Jews to Israel"

from MEMRI via Point of no return: 'Palestinians drove Iraqi Jews to Israel':
At last, an Iraqi tells it like it was: the Palestinian Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini, who incited the 1941 Farhoud attacks, was guilty of the political stupidity of driving the Jews of Iraq into Israel. The following are excerpts from an interview with Iraqi author Dr. Rashid Al-Khayoun, which aired on Al-Arabiya TV on December 4, 2009. (With thanks: Sacha, Lily)

Here is the MEMRI clip.

Dr. Rashid Al-Khayoun: When you meet an Iraqi Jew today on the streets of Europe or elsewhere, he remembers his co-existence with his Muslim or Christian neighbor.

Interviewer: When did the Iraqi Jews begin to lose that sense of security and tolerance?

Dr. Rashid Al-Khayoun: When pan-Arab nationalism grew stronger in Iraq, from the late 1940's to the early 1950's. The Jew began to be the target of deliberate affronts. Iraqi Jews are known for their patriotism. They have nothing to do with Israel. The issue of Israel and Zionism...

Interviewer: But many of the Jews moved to Israel.

Dr. Rashid Al-Khayoun: They were coerced to move.

Interviewer: Who forced them?

Dr. Rashid Al-Khayoun: The wave of pan-Arab nationalism within Iraq.

Interviewer: So they thought that Israel would be better for them than Iraq?

Dr. Rashid Al-Khayoun: They did not go [straight] to Israel. First, they went to European countries, to Iran*... They tried to find an interim region from where they could later return to Iraq. You shouldn't be surprised if I told you that the first to study [the possibility] of expelling the Jews from Iraq was the so-called Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin Al-Husseini.

Interviewer: What, Amin Al-Husseini banished the Jews of Iraq to Palestine?

Dr. Rashid Al-Khayoun: Yes, Amin Al-Husseini played a significant role, along with German Nazism, in dragging the Jews out of Iraq.

Interviewer: How?

Dr. Rashid Al-Khayoun: In the days of the "Farhoud" pogroms, at the end of May and the beginning of June 1941 – which was called the revolution of Rashid Ali Al-Kilani... This is well known. The "heroes" of the Farhoud were Amin Al-Husseini, and some Syrian and Palestinian teachers. I am not accusing these people of collaborating with Israel, but I am accusing them of political stupidity. You drive out a group of peoples who are doctors, blacksmiths...

Interviewer: How did this happen? How did they pressure the Iraqi Jews to move to Israel?

Dr. Rashid Al-Khayoun: By organizing the Farhoud. This was determined by government investigations...

Interviewer: Tell us the story.

Dr. Rashid Al-Khayoun: Amin Al-Husseini was in Iraq then, and so were teachers from Palestine and from Syria. They believed that every Jew was a Zionist, but they failed to understand the mentality of Iraqi Jews. Iraqi Jews lived in Iraq 3,500 years ago. When Cyrus, the Persian king who invaded Babylon and occupied it, he issued a decree, inscribed on a clay cylinder – which can be found at the British Museum. The decree stated that any Jew who wants to return to his country, to Jerusalem, may do so. Only very few returned. The [others] said: This is our country. At the beginning of the modern Iraqi state, the French commander met with the dignitaries of Iraqi Jewry – the English commander, pardon me – and talked to them about the Balfour declaration. They said categorically: "This is our country, and Jerusalem and Palestine are holy places, and we go on pilgrimage there, like the Muslims go to Mecca." This was the position of the Jews.

Interviewer: In the case of Farhoud specifically, how can you accuse Amin Al-Husseini and German Nazism?

Dr. Rashid Al-Khayoun: It is not me who is making accusations. These are legal investigations by the government. The pan-Arab nationalist incited the mob to attack the Jews for two days.

* Hundreds of Jews did leave for Iran and India after the 1941 Farhoud and some returned to Iraq, but it is incorrect to say that most Jews went to Israel 'indirectly': 90 percent of the community was airlifted to Israel in 1950 -51, although the first flights were routed via Cyprus.

Read transcript in full

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Nat Hentoff: "Obama is possibly the most dangerous and destructive president we have ever had."


Former Village Voice columnist Nat Hentoff has given a startling interview to John W. Whitehead, a conservative attorney who runs something called the Rutherford Foundation. (I hadn't heard of Whitehead before reading this interview. The Rutherford Foundation website portrays him as a constitutional scholar who has argued several cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, but the cover of his memoir which is prominently displayed on the website bills him as "The Man Who Defended Paula Jones".)


Whitehead's interview with Hentoff is cross-posted on the paleo-conservative Lew Rockwell website (read here: America Under Barack Obama by John W. Whitehead) where I found it. Here are some excerpts.



Nat Hentoff: I try to avoid hyperbole, but I think Obama is possibly the most dangerous and destructive president we have ever had. An example is ObamaCare, which is now embattled in the Senate. If that goes through the way Obama wants, we will have something very much like the British system. If the American people have their health care paid for by the government, depending on their age and their condition, they will be subject to a health commission just like in England which will decide if their lives are worth living much longer...

I am beginning to think that this guy is a phony. Obama seems to have no firm principles that I can discern that he will adhere to. His only principle is his own aggrandizement. This is a very dangerous mindset for a president to have.

JW: Do you consider Obama to be worse than George W. Bush?

NH: Oh, much worse... Obama is a bad man in terms of the Constitution. The irony is that Obama was a law professor at the University of Chicago. He would, most of all, know that what he is doing weakens the Constitution..."

...and...


NH: I am an atheist, although I very much admire and have been influenced by many traditionally religious people. I say this because the Left has taken what passes for their principles as an absolute religion. They don't think anymore. They just react. When they have somebody like Obama whom they put into office, they believed in the religious sense and, of course, that is a large part of the reason for their silence on these issues. They are very hesitant to criticize Obama, but that is beginning to change. Even on the cable network MSNBC, some of the strongest proponents of Obama are now beginning to question, if I may use their words, their "deity."

JW: Is the so-called health commission that you referred to earlier what some people are referring to as death panels? Is that too strong a word?

NH: That term was used with hyperbole about the parts of the health care bill where doctors are mandated, if people are on Medicare and of a certain age or in serious physical condition, to counsel them on their end-of-life alternatives. I don't believe that was a death panel. It was done to get the Medicare doctors to not spend too much money on them. The death panel issue arose with Tom Daschle, who was originally going to be the Health Czar. Daschle became enamored with the British system and wrote a book about health care, which influenced President Obama.

In England, you have what I would call government-imposed euthanasia. Under the British healthcare system, there is a commission that decides whether or not, based on your age and physical condition, the government should continue to pay for your health. That leads to the government not doing it and you gradually or suddenly die. The present Stimulus Bill sets up the equivalent commission in the United States similar to that which is in England. The tipoff was months ago on the ABC network. President Obama was given a full hour to describe and endorse his health plan. A woman in the audience asked Obama about her mother. Her mother was, I believe, 101 years old and was in need of a certain kind of procedure. Her doctor didn't want to do it because of her age. However, another doctor did and told this woman there is a joy of life in this person. The woman asked President Obama how he would deal with this sort of thing, and Obama said we cannot consider the joy of life in this situation. He said I would advise her to take a pain killer. That is the essence of the President of the United States.

JW: Do you think Obama is shallow?

NH: It's much worse than that. Obama has little, if any, principles except to aggrandize and make himself more and more important...

JW: What do you think of the Tea Party protests?

NH: I spent a lot of time studying our Founders and people like Samuel Adams and the original Tea Party. What Adams and the Sons of Liberty did in Boston was spread the word about the abuses of the British. They had Committees of Correspondence that got the word out to the colonies. We need Committees of Correspondence now, and we are getting them. That is what is happening with the Tea Parties. I wrote a column called "The Second American Revolution" about the fact that people are acting for themselves as it happened with the Sons of Liberty which spread throughout the colonies.


Over the course of a long career, Hentoff achieved fame as a jazz critic and as a liberal columnist advocating free speech and civil rights. Since his firing by the Voice last year, he has worked for the libertarian Cato Foundation.



Viva Palestina supporters ask where their money's going

Solomonia has a report of Southern California supporters of Viva Palestina who have asked Galloway and the other leaders of the group where their money has been going. Their requests for an accounting of the funds has been met by Galloway's resounding silence on the subject and continued requests for more funds.

Read here: Solomonia: Do You Know Where Your Free Gaza Money Is Going?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Protestant missionaries: the Palestinians are like Jesus and Israel is like the Romans

Representatives of several U.S. Protestant denominations have published a letter comparing Israel to the Roman Empire and the Palestinians to Jesus. (Read it here: "O Come, O Come Emmanuel!") The letter, which takes the form of an Advent prayer quoting Isaiah's prayer for the coming of the messiah, was signed by missionaries representing, among other denominations, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, United Church of Christ, and the United Methodist Church.

Their letter starts on a religious note (" 'O Come, O Come Emmanuel!' we will sing and pray as we make the advent journey to Christmas"), but it quickly shifts gears. The second paragraph provides a distorted, one-sided outline of Israeli actions in Gaza and the West Bank over the past year, using the typical tactics of describing the incursion into Gaza in isolation from its historical background, using casualty numbers which do not differentiate combatant casualties from civilian ones, and suppressing information about Hamas use of human shields.

The letter also claims that Israel in 2009 evicted hundreds of Palestinian families in the West Bank and destroyed their homes in order to expand Israeli settlements. In support of this shocking claim, the letter cites a webpage at the Palestine Monitor website (read here) which in turn cites an unnamed study by the U.N. Rather than supporting the letter's claim that hundreds of West Bank homes were destroyed, the U.N. study figures quoted by Palestine Monitor claim only 43 homes were demolished (excluding those damaged in the Gaza war) and makes no mention whatsoever of settlement expansion. The Palestine Monitor article does go on to claim without citing a source that hundreds of Palestinian homes are "threatened by Israel’s policies", however, that article simply does not support the claim made in the missionaries' letter concerning hundreds of West Bank home destructions to expand settlements in 2009.


The letter then goes on to compare Israel's actions to those of the ancient Romans, stating:

Reflecting on the society into which Jesus was born, we see many similarities to life here today. The ancient Israelites were occupied and suffered at the hands of a foreign power. The Roman occupied lived freely, able to use and abuse the local population at will, while the subjugated peoples lived in constant uncertainty and anxiety, never sure how they would be treated or whether they would be singled out for random punishment. This is being repeated today for Palestinians living under the longest occupation in modern history, generally trying to live life and survive, but sometimes crossing the line into illegal and counterproductive violence, such as firing rockets from Gaza into Israel. O Come, O Come Emmanuel!

To put this comparison in perspective, remember that the Roman forces in Judea are said to have massacred tens (if not hundreds) of thousands including woman and children, literally festooning roads with their crucified victims. The Roman war against the Jews included the Romans burning Jerusalem, including the temple, to the ground.

And of course, there was that whole Christ-killing thing... The letter goes on to subtly invoke that old standby, Jewish deicide:

What the Palestinian community faces, Jesus knew when he walked these stony hills.


True to form, the letter concludes with both a prayer and a pitch for members of these denominations to put their religious commitment to promoting peace and justice into action through participation in church-sponsored anti-Israel activism. It provides links to various websites which purport to even-handedly promote peace but, in fact, focus mainly on Israel-bashing -- for example, one maintained by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America entitled "Peace Not Walls". (Read here.)

That ELCA webpage touts a fraudulent series of four maps purporting to show Palestinian losses and Israeli gains since 1946. In fact, it offers free of charge laminated cards bearing that series of maps to those who request them. These maps (which are commonly promoted by anti-Israel activists) utterly distort the history of the region by conflating several categories of "having land" (individual ownership, various forms of political control, etc.), by completely ignoring the historical context of Arab losses and by simply lying. The first map (labeled "Palestinian and Jewish land 1946", see below), shows land owned by Jews or Jewish agencies in white and all other land in the area, including the Negev and Judean wilderness, in green. It claims that the green was "Palestinian land", although, in fact, most of this land was not owned by either Jews or Arabs, was under the political control of the British Empire and was vacant.

http://weblogs.asp.net/blogs/rosherove/WindowClipping%20(6)_3u9DbQ.png

Thus a map of the 1947 U.N. partition plan which divided the area between Jews and Arabs appears to show a massive loss of "Palestinian land", reflecting the fact that the largely vacant and inarable Negev desert was partitioned by the U.N. to Israeli political authority. The third map in the series (labeled "1949 - 1967") shows further decline in "Palestinian land" which resulted from Arab losses in the 1948 war. That map fails to mention that that war was a war of aggression started by the Arab states, thereby absolving them of responsibility for those losses. That map also describes the Egyptian-occupied Gaza Strip and the Jordanian-occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem as "Palestinian land". The last map (labeled "2000") inexplicably shows more than half of the West Bank, including the entire Jordan Valley excluding Jericho, as "Israeli land".

http://deutsche.files.wordpress.com/2007/10/palestine-2disrael-2dloss-2dland-2d1946-2dto-2d2000.jpg


All prayers for peace and for the coming of the messiah aside, it doesn't take much to see this sort of thing for what it is: deliberately distorted anti-Israel propaganda dressed up in sheep's clothing. It would do every party to this conflict so much more good if those who purport to advocate peace would do so by promoting accurate, well-balanced views of the history of the conflict and by avoiding deliberately inflammatory invocations of Christ-killing imagery. At this or any other time of year, is that too much to ask?


NOTE: For those interested in following up on this letter, either by researching its signatories or by replying to them, the names of the signatories are listed below:

  • Allison K. Schmitt, deployed staff member, Global Mission, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America;
  • Bethany Fullerton, Bethlehem;
  • Rev. Ian W.Alexander, Global Ministries – UCC/Disciples;
  • Heather & Ryan Lehman, Jerusalem
  • Janet Lahr Lewis; United Methodist Liaison in Israel and Palestine
  • Rev. Mark K. Holman, Pastor of the English-speaking Congregation at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, Old City, Jerusalem
  • Peter Miller, Jerusalem

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Moldovan Priest Leads Mob in Destroying Menorah Display

from Ynet via The Vicious Babushka



Dozens of people led by an Orthodox priest smashed a menorah in Moldova's capital capital Chisinau, using hammers and iron bars to remove the candelabra during Hanukkah, officials said.

The 1.5 meter (5-foot)-tall ceremonial candelabrum was retrieved, reinstalled and is now under police guard.

Police said they were investigating but there was no official reaction from Moldova's Orthodox Church, which is part of the Russian Orthodox Church and counts 70 percent of Moldovans as members.

The national government said in a statement that "hatred, intolerance and xenophobia" are unacceptable.

Jewish leader Alexandr Bilinkis called on the Orthodox Church to take a position over the priest's actions.

The Jewish community was thriving before World War II but there are now estimated to be just 12,000 Jews in the former Soviet Republic. Twenty years ago there were 66,000 Jews. Many immigrated to Israel.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The neglected story of the Holocaust in North Africa

from JTA: Roundup of Tunisian Jews remembered


Holocaust memorial institutions in France and Israel commemorated the roundup 67 years ago of Tunisian Jews.

Ceremonies Wednesday at Yad Vashem and Sunday at the Memorial de la Shoah in Paris marked the Dec. 9, 1942 roundup of Tunisian Jews as part of an effort to raise awareness of Jewish suffering in Nazi-occupied North Africa during the Holocaust.

Jews in Tunisia were forced to wear yellow stars and work in labor camps; some were deported to Auschwitz. Jews in other Vichy France colonies in Algeria and Morocco, as well as in Italian-occupied Libya, suffered similar fates.

Martin Gilbert, the pre-eminent Holocaust historian, also marked the anniversary with a statement.

"In my historical work over the past 50 years, I have been struck by the neglect of the story of the Jews of North Africa and the dangers facing them under Vichy French and Italian Fascist rule," Gilbert said in his statement, released Wednesday.

"The story of the persecution of the Jews in North Africa during the Second World War is an integral part of the history of the Holocaust in France; the fate of the Jews living in French North Africa was directly connected to the fate of the Jews living in Metropolitan France. The collaborationist Vichy France extended its anti-Jewish laws -- passed in France -- to its three North African colonies. Thousands of Jews were sent to camps for slave labor between 1940 and 1943."


For those who haven't read Robert Satloff's great book Among the Righteous: Lost Stories from the Holocaust’s Long Reach into Arab Lands, a chapter of it called “The Arabs Watched Over the Jews” is available here in pdf. Here's the first paragraph:

At every stage of the Nazi, Vichy, and Fascist persecution of Jews in Arab lands, and in every place that it occurred, Arabs helped Jews. Some Arabs spoke out against the persecution of Jews and took public stands of unity with them. Some Arabs denied the support and assistance that would have made the wheels of the anti-Jewish campaign spin more efficiently. Some Arabs shared the fate of Jews and, through that experience, forged a unique bond of comradeship. And there were occasions when certain Arabs chose to do more than just offer moral support to Jews. They bravely saved Jewish lives, at times risking their own in the process. Those Arabs were true heroes.


You can get a copy of that book here. A podcast interview with Statloff is available here.

This article from a Tunisian Jewish website concerns the heroic acts of Si Khaled Abdelwahab which saved the lives of several Tunisian Jews. It makes the point that North African Arabs largely resisted the financial incentives to assist in rounding up Jews. It also very pointedly quotes Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center concerning contemporary Holocaust denial in the Arab world:

"If you deny the Shoah, you also deny that there were noble Arabs and Muslims, those who put their lives on the line to rescue Jews."

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Holiday cheer

Jonathan Hoffman blogs at Harry's Place about a Christmas program at a London church by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. The piece explores what some folks consider Christian values, and how they use that term as a wedge to distinguish themselves from Jews, who they portray as intrinsically evil. Amazing how that rationalization for self-righteous hate never seems to die. Read the post here: Carols with Caryl and more. Embedded below is a video of two interviews outside the church conducted by Jonathan Sacerdoti.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Hungary: Catholic Church dignitary peddles racist flyer of neo-Arrow Cross party

Written by Karl Pfeifer, cross-posted from Engage – the anti-racist campaign against antisemitism

Their tongue is as an arrow shot out: it speaketh deceit: one speaketh peaceably to his neighbour with his mouth, but in heart he layeth his wait

Jeremiah 9:8

Sometimes even a hardboiled observer of Hungary can be surprised by what is possible in a member country of EU. I had to write one year ago about antisemitism inside the Catholic and the Reformed Churches of Hungary[1]. But usually I do not look into Hungarian Catholic or Reformed Church website. A leaflet of the neo-Arrow Cross party Jobbik distributed in Budapest – an invitation to the ceremony of the installation of a cross on a big place in the centre of Buda, part of Budapest, on the western side of the Danube – sent to me by snail mail not only astonished me, but made me curious. Could it be that a catholic priest is peddling explicit racism? Could it be that a Calvinist bishop gives a speech at such an event?

The answer is an unequivocal YES.

The organizer of his event, dean Antal é Musits organized this event according the leaflet. So I looked into the website of his church [2] and I found the mentioned Jobbik leaflet in jpg [3]. On this Jobbik leaflet peddled by dean Musits I found the following sentence:

“The society of Christian gentlemen is expecting people of our race with hot tea with rum.”

(A Keresztény Úriemberek Társasága forró, rumos teával várja a magunkfajtákat.”)

In order to understand exactly what this means, one should know that the word ‘Christian’ in this Hungarian context means not a member of a Christian church, but non-Jewish. The word ‘magunkfajta’ is based on the word ‘faj’ which means ‘race’. The word ‘fajta’ has more than one meaning, it means ‘of our kind’, but also ’somebody of our race’. In the context of a Jobbik leaflet ‘magunkfajta’ means our race.

I thought I’d surprise a Hungarian Catholic in my acquaintance with this news, but he told me that in Hungary it is not uncommon for Catholic bishops to promote, in church and usually implicitly, the political right-wing party Fidesz, and even Jobbik. A Catholic priest peddling in Budapest a racist leaflet on the web site of his church did not surprise him. Cistercian monk Ákos Előd Brückner declared that Hungarians should feel proud to have such organisations as Jobbik. This is not surprising either.

I am not amazed by the fact that a Bishop of the Calvinist church is speaking at an event organized and promoted by racist and antisemitic Jobbik. After all I had to write several times about Lóránt Hegedüs junior, who also racist and antisemitic, and appears at the events of the infamous Hungarian Guard [4].

So I did some research on this bishop. Tamás Csuka is a Bishop of the Reformed Church and a retired brigadier (formerly chief pastor of the Hungarian Army) and as of September 2009, still active in his church [5]. Bishop Csuka consecrated the flags of the Hungarian Guards [6] and gave an antisemitic speech at this gathering in Budapest on November 28.

I wrote in 2007: “The violence is a particular concern in view of Jobbik’s belief that the coalition “should not be able to finish its term”, which ends in 2010″.

To collaborate with a racist party when violence is rampant is a dangerous policy. The Catholic and Reformed Churches feel the need to declare publicly their antagonism to racism and at the same time to be “realistic” and cater for that a substantial part of their members who are racist and antisemitic.

They do SPEAK OUT OF BOTH SIDES OF THEIR MOUTH, to the world they say “We are against racism” but in Hungary, by promoting the political business of the right and extreme right more or less implicitly, church dignitaries signal that racism and antisemitism are acceptable for believers.

1) http://www.hurryupharry.org/2009/07/26/hungary%E2%80%99s-biased-justice/

http://blog.z-word.com/2008/10/the-cosmopolitan-parasite-class-antisemitism-in-hungary/

2) Szent Imre Plébánia: http://www.szentimre.hu/archives/1455

3) http://www.szentimre.hu/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/keresztallitas.jpg

4) see 1

5) http://www.reformatus.hu/archiv/2009/folytat_hirek.php?cikk=1249299678

6) http://www.searchlightmagazine.com/index.php?link=template&story=210

As far as I am informed, the Hungarian ministry of defence did not take action against Tamás Csuka. K.P.

http://esbalogh.typepad.com/hungarianspectrum/2007/08/th-hungarian-gu.html

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