But there is a deeper problem, says Mr Fajrul [Rahman]. “Last year the [Indonesian] government ordered that tens of thousands of schoolbooks be burnt because they dared to suggest that the official version of events surrounding Suharto’s rise to power in 1965 [that he defeated a communist-led coup] should at least be questioned,” he says. “Any nation that is still burning school textbooks in 2007 still has a long way to go before it can call itself civilised.”
A special investigation by NEWS.com.au infiltrating these global networks has identified jihadi references to the “embarrassing collapse” of the Howard government and cites Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s Iraq withdrawal as a “victory”.
The stories are embarrassing in their fear-mongering. One section is titled “laughing at us”, suggesting that Islamists, some of whom are unpleasant figures, mocked former Prime Minister John Howard’s defeat in last year’s election. I think you would have found millions of Australians having similar thoughts on November 24.
There is no doubt that Islamic extremism is a problem for Western societies, but this kind of “investigative” report is little more than trawling through some forums and chat-rooms and finding comments that celebrate the defeat of Western forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The clear implication appears to be that withdrawing troops from Iraq is being cheered by jihadis and perhaps Australia should reconsider doing so.
The fact that the war is both illegal and immoral is apparently irrelevant.
The internet is filled with material from across the political spectrum and much of it may be objectionable, but that’s hardly cause to parade flimsy stories on Murdoch’s leading local news-site suggesting that Islamists are “laughing at us” and therefore determined to kill Australians wherever and whenever they can. We seem to forget that occupation forces in a country like Iraq and Afghanistan are legitimate targets for resistance, however unpalatable that may be for Westerners to accept.
Israel’s Winograd Commission has reported on the 2006 Lebanon war and concluded “we are all guilty.”
The fact that the Israeli leadership is likely to survive the report reflects the dysfunctionality of the Jewish state. Clearly launching an immoral and futile war and massacring innocent civilians is all in a good day’s work for Ehud Olmert et al.
But Amira Hass focuses on the shift in Gaza:
The fall of the Rafah wall was a fitting combination of planning and the precise reading of the social and political map by the Hamas government, mixed with a mass response to the dictates of the overlord, Israel.
Quite a few people in Rafah knew that “anonymous figures” had secretly been destablizing the foundations of the wall for several months, so that it would be possible to knock it down easily when the time came – but the secret didn’t leak. The hundreds of people who began leaving Palestinian Rafah right after the wall was breached did so despite the risk, and the precedent of the Egyptians shooting at those who infiltrate through the border.
The leadership and public of Gaza, as two elements of the occupied people, were partners in the courageous and necessary step of breaking the Israeli rules of the game. The breach of the wall is a clear manifestation of the conception and temperament of a popular resistance among the Palestinian people, which for various reasons, were dormant in recent years.
When an occupied and oppressed people have little more than resistance, the international community should support them wholeheartedly.
Keep a blogger locked up at home long enough with nothing but Chinese state TV and an internet connection to keep them occupied and they’re bound to subvert something eventually.
Chinese President Hu Jintao has told officials to breathe new life into propaganda efforts, putting renewed emphasis on a key pillar of Communist rule ahead of this summer’s Beijing Olympic Games.
Any attempt to use the Beijing Olympics to discredit China or force it to change policy is doomed to failure, the leading Communist party newspaper insisted in a commentary piece yesterday.
Let nobody believe that human rights will improve before the August Olympic Games. Tragically, the opposite is occurring.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan explaining why it is a positive development that the country’s ban on women wearing headscarves at universities has been lifted:
“What do they say — only citizens without head scarves can be secular? They are making a mistake falling into such segregation. This is a society of those, with and without head scarves, who support a democratic, secular social law state.”
Yet another example of Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad taking his country in the wrong direction:
Iran’s most important women’s magazine, Zanan, (Women) has been forced to close after 16 years of publication, after being accused of painting a “dark picture” of Iran.
Zanan’s founder Shahla Sherkat is considered a prime example of Islamic Iranian feminism.
She has been accused of “offering a dark picture of the Islamic Republic through the pages of Zanan” and of “compromising the psyche and the mental health” of its readers by providing them with “morally questionable information.”
The magazine, has for years been considered a place where controversial topics in Iranian society have been discussed, ranging from domestic violence, to cosmetic surgery and relationships.
It has been at the forefront in the fight for fundamental women’s rights in Iran.
The magazine has also used very subtle and creative language in order to avoid being shut down.
I have often made the statement that the destinies of the Israeli and Palestinian people are inextricably linked and that there is no military solution to the conflict. My recent acceptance of Palestinian nationality has given me the opportunity to demonstrate this more tangibly.
When my family moved to Israel from Argentina in the 1950s, one of my parents’ intentions was to spare me the experience of growing up as part of a minority – a Jewish minority. They wanted to me to grow up as part of a majority – a Jewish majority.
The tragedy of this is that my generation, despite having been educated in a society whose positive aspects and human values have greatly enriched my thinking, ignored the existence of a minority within Israel – a non-Jewish minority – which had been the majority in the whole of Palestine until the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. Part of the non-Jewish population remained in Israel, and other parts left out of fear or were forcefully displaced.
In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict there was and still is an inability to admit the interdependence of their two voices. The creation of the state of Israel was the result of a Jewish-European idea, which, if it is to extend its leitmotif into the future, must accept the Palestinian identity as an equally valid leitmotif.
George Bush, in his annual state of the union address, highlighted so-called Iranian-backed extremism in the Middle East.
The reality in Iran, however, is rarely examined by the mainstream media. Noted Iranian writer Nasrin Alavi, now based in London, argues that Ahmadinejad’s regime is decreasing in popularity due to its economic failures and overblown rhetoric:
The disillusion with the United States among many Iranians has meant that the hopes and energies for change are increasingly grounded in the domestic troubles of the regime. The people’s frustrations with the government’s economic mismanagement are rising at a moment when an important electoral test – elections to the 290-seat majlis (parliament) on 14 March 2008 – is approaching.
In routine circumstances, the leadership of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his supporters would at such a time seek to heighten the confrontational rhetoric against the US, mobilising nationalist sentiment against revolutionary Iran’s number-one enemy. On this occasion, the tactic may be less effective, for two reasons.
First, the US’s national intelligence estimate (NIE) published on 3 December 2007 controverted the White House’s portrayal of the alleged Iranian nuclear peril, thus going a little way to defuse tension and undermine the portrayal by Iranian authorities (and in particular by Ahmadinejad himself) of an immediate threat from the US (see “Iran: the uses of intelligence“, 6 December 2007). Second, most Iranian citizens are so hard-pressed by their daily circumstances that their concern is not with foreign policy or how their country’s nuclear-energy programme is perceived, but with their economic condition and how to improve it.
This is bad news for the president. Ahmadinejad had campaigned for the presidency in June 2005 on an economic platform, and won power by tapping into the vein of popular anger against corruption and cronyism and promising to create jobs and security for Iran’s poor and deprived. In the middle of his third year in office, the hopes he raised have largely dissipated: the government has introduced petrol rationing, and there has been disruption in gas supplies and more than sixty deaths amid a spell of severely cold weather – all this in the country that is the fourth-largest oil producer in the world, and has the second-largest natural-gas resources.
None of this suggests that a greater reformist period is coming, Alavi writes, but rather a new governing order.
While the international community continues to try and ignore the reality of Hamas in Gaza – now suggesting that Fatah should control the border between Gaza and Egypt – one of Israel’s leading Rabbis calls for ethnic cleansing:
Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger has been quoted as calling for Gazans to be transferred to the Sinai Peninsula, to a Palestinian state which he said could be constructed for them in the desert.
In an interview in English with the British weekly The Jewish News, the chief rabbi also said that while peaceable Muslims should be allowed to pray in Jerusalem mosques, they should recognize that Jerusalem belongs to the Jews. Muslims have Mecca and Medina, he was quoted as saying, adding that “you don’t need a third place.”
Metzger called for Britain, the European Union and the United States to assist in the construction of a Palestinian state in Egypt’s Sinai Desert.
According to Metzger, the plan would be to “take all the poor people from Gaza to move them to a wonderful new modern country with trains buses cars, like in Arizona – we are now in a generation where you can take a desert and build a city. This will be a solution for the poor people – they will have a nice county, and we shall have our country and we shall live in peace.”
If a Muslim sheik or cleric suggested that all the Jews in Israel should move to Europe, he’d be accused of extremism and inciting genocide. But when a Jewish Rabbi calls for the complete removal of Palestinians, it’s listened to and considered.
Personally, he was a friend…It took a while to get him to come out of his shell, but when he did, he was utterly decisive. He was able to take quick decisions…
What’s a few million murdered Indonesians between friends?