Sunday, June 25, 2006

The resolution condemning terrorism passed by the Presbyterian Church USA at the General Assembly sends a clear and moral signal...

The Presbyterian Church USA passed a resolution condemning terrorism and suicide bombings. Jeff Weintraub weighs in with his analysis and the reporting by Ami Isseroff.

"This follows up my recent item about the vote by the US Presbyterian Church, at its 2006 General Assembly, to condemn terrorism and suicide bombing--"no matter who is the perpetrator or the target"--in explicit and unequivocal terms. (For further details, see HERE.)

In some ways, it's easy to sympathize with this slightly exasperated reaction (from an exchange between two other correspondents):
Your comment about the Presbyterians pretty much sums up what constitutes a victory these days -- Christians coming out against suicide bombers! Well, I guess that's something. Perhaps tomorrow they will take a courageous stand against beheadings.

And it is also worth noting that a quarter of the delegates voted against this resolution, so it's clear that condemning terrorist suicide bombing was not considered at all non-controversial.

But in fact that is part of what makes this action by the Presbyterian Church significant and potentially valuable--if it proves to be a first step that inspires imitation. As Ami Isseroff correctly points out (on MidEastWeb):

This resolution is astonishing because it is so obviously right that it was almost impossible to expect that it would happen. It is a moral "enabling act" that gives everyone a banner that can be used as the standard of anti-terror forces. If it is carried out conscientiously, and emulated by other religious groups and NGOs, it can at last create an effective lobby against terrorism. It is a lobby that does not further the narrow interests of any political opinion, religion or ethnic group. It is a lobby that can be and should be supported by every religion and non-religion from Atheists to Zoroastrians, and every nation and ethnicity from Arabs to Zulus.

If we want to have any future for the Middle East, we have to hope that the PCUSA, and everyone else, will realize the potential of the moral force of this resolution.

We'll see whether or not this turns out to be overly optimistic. Read the rest below.

--Jeff Weintraub
Ami Isseroff (MidEastWeb)June 24, 2006

Presbyterian anti-terror resolution: A lifeline for the Middle East

A little heralded resolution of the 217th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA may have extended a lifeline to the Middle East on a critical issue.
Sooner or later, everyone will understand that the Middle East is doomed unless we can lick terror. There will be no bright future, no democracy, no freedom, nothing worthwhile, if different groups of bandits are allowed to hold the world hostage to their whims. The entire Middle East will increasingly resemble Beirut during the civil war. The rest of the world is involved too, but the Middle East is the prime target and the major arena of terrorist action.


Because terrorism is an international plague, it cannot be beaten without international action. International action has been impossible because governments, communities, NGOs and religious leaders have insisted on manipulating definitions of terror to exclude their own particular brand of terror, or to advance the particular political cause they espouse. A near-universal conspiracy of journalists has euphemized the people who cut off heads and blow up people during religious observances as "militants," a word that used to be applied to advocates of women's suffrage. In the Middle East, these malefactors are often termed "martyrs" and terrorism is often called "resistance." Fatuous academic doctrines teach that suicide bombing is an act of altruism.

The term "terrorist" is only used when the explosions happen in one's own country, and the victims are members of one's religion or ethnic group. When a small U.S. Muslim organization tried, not long ago, to organize a Muslim protest against terror, the attempt fizzled because it was ridiculed by the U.S. Muslim community.

Since then, the Middle East has slowly learned a few lessons, paying a terrible tuition. As Jeff Weintraub points out, people are unwilling to condemn terror as long as it might advance their favorite cause, and will only rally to condemn terrorism when they finally understand that it is aimed at them:
Most people are willing to condemn this sort of "terrorism" in vague and general terms, but in practice their attitude often depends in large part on whom they see as the targets of terrorist attacks. When the targets seem appropriate, then there is a common tendency to make excuses for terrorism, to find special justifications for it, to try to change the subject, or even to deny that these particular attacks really constitutes terrorism at all (as opposed to, say, "resistance"). Unfortunately, even when people claim to oppose "terrorism" in general, in practice they often make exceptions until they feel that their group is being targeted.
The terror strikes in Sinai, the strike in Jordan that killed about 60 people at a wedding, and the continuing use of terror in Iraqi sectarian violence, have finally changed a few minds about terror. At least, most normal people now agree that Abu Musab Al Zarqawi was filth. Typically, there is an attempt to blame the filth on someone else and insist he was an American "asset" (agent) or an Israeli agent. This dawning recognition has not as yet, really coalesced into an international will to wipe out terror, whatever its source. Tortuous verbal and moral acrobatics are used to justify the proposition that whereas it is an evil crime to kill Shi'a worshippers in a mosque in Baghdad, or Muslim worshippers in the cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, it is "legitimate resistance" for a suicide bomber to kill people celebrating a Passover Seder in a hotel in Nethanya. A large portion of "liberal" opinion lends legitimacy to the execrable means and ends of the Hamas ("democratically elected") and the Hizbullah ("legitimate resistance"), and there is, a sector of opinion, much smaller, but equal in moral and logical folly, that is willing to praise - or justify - the mad thuggery of Baruch Goldstein and other Israeli settler extremists.

The Presbyterian General Assembly, overruling their commissioners, approved the following resolution:

We, the 217th General Assembly (2006) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) declare that any suicide bombing, no matter who is the perpetrator or the target, constitutes a crime against humanity.

While international law, through various treaties and international consensus affirms the criminality of such acts when linked to a government, it is crucial that the church and the world affirm the culpability of individuals and groups that assist in carrying out suicide bombings [and terrorism] through financial or logistical support and that civil or military authorities who fail to exercise adequate powers of control over perpetrators and fail to take appropriate measures, be held accountable. The international community and faith community as a whole are obligated to prevent and call for international judicial prosecution of all those aiding and abetting these crimes.

We instruct our Moderator and Stated Clerk to encourage our leaders in the U.S.A., our ecumenical partners, our interfaith partners, the National Council of Churches, the World Council of Churches, and the United Nations Security Council to make suicide bombing a matter of declaration and legislation under national laws, and to raise this issue with all appropriate international agencies as appropriate.

We hereby pledge and instruct the Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Washington Office of the PC(USA), and the Presbyterian UN representatives to take every opportunity to publicly and officially condemn suicide bombings [and terrorism] and to help empower victims of such attacks to be able to bring those who plan and inspire suicide bombings to the bar of international justice. Further to instruct the Stated Clerk to notify the United Nations, the World Court, the U.S. State Department, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and other appropriate human rights organizations of the 217th General Assembly (2006)'s position on this topic, and ask for their collaboration in amending international law, especially international criminal court elements of crime; Article 7 entitled "Crimes Against Humanity."

This resolution is astonishing because it is so obviously right that it was almost impossible to expect that it would happen. It is a moral "enabling act" that gives everyone a banner that can be used as the standard of anti-terror forces. If it is carried out conscientiously, and emulated by other religious groups and NGOs, it can at last create an effective lobby against terrorism. It is a lobby that does not further the narrow interests of any political opinion, religion or ethnic group. It is a lobby that can be and should be supported by every religion and non-religion from Atheists to Zoroastrians, and every nation and ethnicity from Arabs to Zulus.

If we want to have any future for the Middle East, we have to hope that the PCUSA, and everyone else, will realize the potential of the moral force of this resolution.

Ami Isseroff

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Presbyterian Church USA approves committee motion re divestment

Presbyterian Church USA approves committee motion re divestment
The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA approved the committee motion by a vote of 483 to 28.

I wish to extend my appreciation to those who have helped us in the Presbyterian Church USA replace the Israel divestment resolution approved in 2004 with a much more even handed resolution regarding affairs in the Middle East.

The exact wording of the approved motion is below.
Larry Rued
Presbyterian Church USA

After careful consideration of the overtures brought before the Assembly Committee on Peacemaking and International Issues of the 217th General Assembly (2006), we offer the following recommendations.

1. We acknowledge that the actions of the 216th General Assembly (2004) caused hurt and misunderstanding among many members of the Jewish community and within our Presbyterian communion. We are grieved by the pain that this has caused, accept responsibility for the flaws in our process, and ask for a new season of mutual understanding and dialogue.

To these ends, we replace the instructions expressed in Item 12-01 (Minutes, 2004 Part I, pp. 64–66) Recommendation 7, which reads

“7. Refers to Mission Responsibility Through Investment Committee (MRTI) with instructions to initiate a process of phased selective divestment in multinational corporations operating in Israel, in accordance to General Assembly policy on social investing, and to make appropriate recommendations to the General Assembly Council for action.”

with the following:

“7. To urge that financial investments of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), as they pertain to Israel, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank, be invested in only peaceful pursuits, and affirm that the customary corporate engagement process of the Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investments of our denomination is the proper vehicle for achieving this goal.”

2. Direct Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI) to ensure that its strategies for engaging corporations with regard to Israeli and Palestinian territories

a. Reflect the application of fundamental principles of justice and peace common to Christianity, Islam, and Judaism that are appropriate to the practical realities of Israeli and Palestinian societies.

b. Reflect commitment to positive outcomes.

c. Reflect awareness of potential impact upon the stability, future viability, and prosperity of both the Israeli and Palestinian economies.

d. Identify affirmative investment opportunities as they pertain to Israel, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank.

3. We call upon the church:

a. To work through peaceful means with American and Israeli Jewish, American and Palestinian Muslim, and Palestinian Christian communities and their affiliated organizations for an end to all violence and terror against Palestinian and Israeli civilians.

b. To work through peaceful means with American and Israeli Jewish, American and Palestinian Muslim, and Palestinian Christian communities and their affiliated organizations to end the occupation.

c. To work through peaceful means with American and Israeli Jewish, American and Palestinian Muslim, and Palestinian Christian communities and their affiliated organizations towards the creation of a socially, economically, geographically, and politically viable and secure Palestinian state, alongside an equally viable and secure Israeli state, both of which have a right to exist.

d. To encourage and celebrate efforts by individual Presbyterians, congregations, and judicatories of our church to communicate directly and regularly with Jewish, Christian, and Muslim communities, sponsor programs likely to improve relations among Christians, Jews, and Muslims, and engage in peacemaking in the Middle East.

4. The 217th General Assembly (2006) does not believe that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) should tell a sovereign nation whether it can protect its borders or handle matters of national defense. The problem with the security wall, in 2004 and presently, is its location. The 217th General Assembly (2006) supports fair criticism of the security wall insofar as it illegally encroaches into the Palestinian territory and fails to follow the legally recognized borders of Israel since 1967 demarcated by the Green Line. To the extent that the security barrier violates Palestinian land that was not part of Israel prior to the 1967 war, the barrier should be dismantled and relocated.

5. Recognizing that the situation on the ground in the Israel-Palestine area is rapidly changing, the General Assembly Council (GAC) is directed to carefully monitor ongoing developments of the situation in the Middle East and to examine the polices of the PC(USA) related to the Middle East, in order to make a comprehensive report to the 218th General Assembly (2008).

6. Instructs the Stated Clerk to communicate Recommendations 1. through 5. above to the United States’ president, vice president, secretary of state, and members of Congress; to Israeli and Palestinian leaders in the Middle East; to the membership of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.); to leadership of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faith bodies and denominations in the United States and the Middle East with whom we are in communication.

Comment: The Assembly received twenty-six overtures pertaining to the Middle East. The recommendation is the result of the General Assembly’s honest and sincere effort to address the issues and concerns that appeared in the overtures in a comprehensive and concise document.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Presbyterian Church USA:Divestment Motion to be voted Tomorrow

Rabbi Jonathon Miller said on Friday's hearing , "I pray that you not divest. I pray that you invest. If you play this card, you are out of the game. Divestment is a clumsy and painful weapon." He added that the divestment threat brought by painful memories for Jews, who remember that Nazi Germany's prelude to the Holocaust was an economic boycott.

Presbyterian Divestment -- Where do we stand? This report by Solomonia accurately depicts the divestment motion passed by committee. The entire General Assembly votes on the divestment motion Wednesday afternoon.

Presbyterian Divestment -- Where do we stand?

By now you've heard that the committee responsible for examining and rendering a recommendation on the PC(USA)'s divestment policy has recommended that the General Assembly remove language of divestment from the PC(USA)'s policy: Committee recommends replacing language calling for divestment

The recommendation - passed by a 53 to 6 vote, with 3 abstentions - says:

"We acknowledge that the actions of the 216th General Assembly caused hurt and misunderstanding among many members of the Jewish community and within our Presbyterian communion. We are grieved by the pain that this has caused, accept responsibility for the flaws in our process, and ask for a new season of mutual understanding and dialogue..
To these ends, we replace the instructions expressed in Item 12-01 (Minutes, 2004 Part I, pp. 64-66) item 7, which reads:

"7. Refers to Mission Responsibility Through Investment Committee (MRTI) with instructions to initiate a process of phased selective divestment in multinational corporations operating in Israel, in accordance to General Assembly policy on social investing, and to make appropriate recommendations to the General Assembly Council for action."
with the following:

To urge that financial investments of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), as they pertain to Israel, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank, be invested in only peaceful pursuits, and affirm that the customary corporate engagement process of the Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment of our denomination is the proper vehicle for achieving this goal."

The two-page recommendation contains additional items, including affirmative investment opportunities, an end to all violence and terror against Palestinian and Israeli citizens and interfaith cooperation.

Yes, there's a lot of wiggle-room in there. Yes, MRTI still has a strong raison d'etre and can pretty well continue doing what they've been doing -- is Caterpillar a peaceful investment? Yes, Presbyterians will still have work to do and a watch to keep. On the wider issue though, since the battle over divestment was always really a rhetorical battle, the fact that "divestment" is being affirmatively removed is a victory.

The PC(USA), should this recommendation be adopted, will no longer be an advocate of it, and cannot be used as a club with which to beat Jews.

Joel Mowbray, writing in to Power Line, is very positive:
The leftist/Palestinian political push for divestment from Israel--in other words, to institute the campaign waged against apartheid South Africa in the 1980's--is on the verge of being dealt a severe body blow...

...While full assembly embrace of the committee vote would be a huge defeat for pro-divestment forces, it is clear that significant animus toward Israel exists among some conference delegates. Many Presbyterian officials seemed apologetic not about the vote for divestment itself, but rather the "hurt feelings" and "misunderstandings" it caused. Still, disavowing divestment as the explicit aim of the church represents a sea change from just two years ago.
One thing is certain: the full Assembly ratifying the committee action would be devastating for the divestment forces. "The big mo" is critical for any nascent movement, thankfully including those who want widespread demonization of the Jewish state.

The final vote of the General Assembly is Wednesday, and no one should count any chickens before the final vote is in given the experience in the United Church of Christ of late in which divestment was re-inserted at the last moment under similar circumstances.

Should this go through as is, it looks like some people should give themselves a pat on the back, especially considering the resistance at the highest level of insiders. It's not everything we could have hoped for, but it is very, very positive.
Committee member Noel Anderson blogs on the discussion that lead to the decision [a snip -- emphasis mine]:

...There were good speakers and bad. The worst speakers by far were the representatives of the permanent GA committees. ACREC (Advisory Council on Racial Ethnic Concerns) put forward a Palestinian member who wants the committee to make a clear statement to the effect that all the trouble is the ultimate result of Israel's "illegal occupation." So, after all the peace-loving talk, our ACREC wants us to just blame Israel. The committee will disregard this advice. Another speaker was the chair of MRTI (MIssion Responsibility Through Investment). Generally, this committee seeks to ensure that Presbyterian investments "do no harm" and if possible, do some kind of good in the world. Unfortunately, it has become a lair for leftist political interests. As the chairperson spoke (and I could be mistaken here, but when I lived in Cambria and met several members of the "Dykes on Bikes" motorcycle club, I met her twin sister), she flagged in zeal over MRTI's wonderful work. There was no acknowledgment whatsoever:

1. That the "divestment" statements of 2004 were a blunder.
2. Of the public relations snafus associated with these bad choices.
3. Of the need to make amends and/or reparations for the above mistakes.
4. Of the need to re-establish a positive connection with American Jews...

Gossip from sources on the floor:
"I was sitting right behind Noel Anderson and I agree with his commentary. Bill Somplatsky-Jarmin on the Staff of MRTI had the most condescending and arrogant attitude towards the Presbyterians who ultimately pay his salary. It was like: "How dare you question my right to harass whatever corporation I choose."

Presbyterian blogger James Berkley also has a good post on the meeting: Failing grades on the test of truth
...Yesterday [during the open hearings in committee], we heard some statements that simply don't meet the test of truth. Let me name a few.
We heard that "Israel has shown no willingness to give up land." Wrong. Israel HAS given up land several times, including Gaza recently.
We heard, "Israel has hundreds of nuclear weapons and so doesn't need a security barrier." Let me get this straight: Do we expect or want Israel to combat snipers and suicide bombers with nuclear weapons? Not me!
We heard, "Israeli actions have devastated the Palestinian economy." That's scapegoating! Graft, corruption, and armed battles between Hamas and Fatah gunmen will ruin any economy.
We heard, "Commissioners are just scared of offending the Jewish community." Such statements demean your faith and courage as commissioners. How false to make this out to be a case of mean Jews making Presbyterians cower in fear! PRESBYTERIANS are offended too, not just our Jewish friends!...
There's more there.

More gossip from the floor:
I observed this "face time" discussion between Susan Andrews and a representative (Evan Feltson?) of the Jewish community. My second hand information about this discussion is that at a noon luncheon on Saturday, Susan Andrews had been heard to say to a couple of GA commissioners that Jonathan Swartz of AJC had agreed with the Rick Ufford-Chase proposal to create a 7 person study team and that MRTI would continue their divestment action. Susan Andrews had apparently told those GA commissioners it was a done deal and that is the way the GA would be voting---no matter what the committee recommended.
Here's the "face time" my source is talking about: Former moderator declares her argument with adversary in public hallway was private
Former General Assembly Moderator Susan B. Andrews became embroiled in a loud argument Saturday with a Jewish man over the divestment resolution approved by 216th General Assembly.
The argument occurred in the large and open hallway outside of the room where the 217th General Assembly's Peacemaking and International Issues Committee was considering whether to rescind the divestment proposal, which has been condemned internationally by Jewish groups.
When reporters heard about the argument, they joined a small throng around Andrews and began taking notes. Realizing their presence, Andrews responded harshly, declaring that she was having a "private conversation" and reporters were not allowed to quote her...
...Andrews was arguing that the denomination's divestment policy was intended to pressure Israel to support a two-state solution for the warring Israelis and Palestinians. She also repeated her strong opposition to Israel's defensive wall that was built to protect Israeli citizens from terrorist suicide-bombers.
Her opponent was arguing that Palestinians must cede to Israel's right to exist and to maintain the defensive wall to protect its civilians. She and he agreed that the Palestinians had suffered during their long conflagration.
Andrews was at the committee meeting to lobby, along with 216th General Assembly Moderator Rick Ufford-Chase, for a proposal that called on the General Assembly to approve a small task force to advise the General Assembly Council on Jewish-Christian-Muslim relationships.
With that advice, which would not have derailed the move toward divestment, the council would have made a proposal to the 218th General Assembly.
But the Peacemaking and International Issues Committee gave scant attention to the General Assembly Council's proposal, choosing instead to craft its own recommendation...
Remember that the powers that be had sought to circumvent the whole process by appointing a committee to study the issue and not face this fight at the GA, thus allowing the process to go forward for another two years as-is until that new committee was able to issue a report at the next General Assembly. So it sounds like someone is, indeed still thinking to go around this committee's recommendation.
Therefore, the book is not closed, but we're almost there. If someone pulls a last-minute parliamentary trick in order to smother the committee report it will look very bad for the PC(USA), but so far, so good.

This just in. Jim Berkley has an excellent report on the whole thing, here: Presbyterians May Dispatch Divestment

Monday, June 19, 2006

On Desinformatzia...."sometimes more than 90% of the content of disinformation is true. The thing that is important is to find the part that is false"

Top Scholar of `Dezinformatsia' Still Expert at Telling It Like It Is

by John Berlau
Published: Monday, May 26, 1997 (Internet pages...)

During the twenties and thirties, Natalie Grant worked alongside top foreign-policy experts such as George Kennan at the American Legation in Riga, Latvia, then the State Department's window to the Soviet Union. At age 96, Grant herself is a window to the world affairs of the 20th century. She still writes monographs and articles on foreign policy and meets with members of the intelligence community in her brick home atop a Virginia mountain.

Born the daughter of a judge under the Russian Czar Nicholas II, Grant fled the country as a young woman after the Bolsheviks took control in 1917. Married to an American, Grant went to work as a translator for the American Embassy in Latvia. Fluent in Russian, French, German and English, she studied and became expert at identifying a new kind of sophisticated Soviet propaganda to which the comrades referred as "dezinformatsia" or disinformation.

Grant reported on the means by which the Reds suppressed dissident movements while feeding the West false information through operatives and front groups that claimed to be independent or even anticommunist. "Everyone who has worked in the field of countering Soviet disinformation either learned it from her or learned it from someone who learned it from her," says veteran Soviet intelligence expert Herbert Romerstein.

A fervent anticommunist, Grant left the State Department during the fifties because of disagreement with liberal colleagues and officials about international policy and strategy.

INSIGHT: Let's go back and look at your long life. You were born in 1901.

Natalie Grant: Don't remind me. I was born with this century, and I will die with this century.

INSIGHT: Tell us about your childhood. Where were you born?

NG: Estonia, of all places, but I only stayed there for six weeks. My father was a judge, and he was transferred from one place to another. I have lived in the south of Russia, the west of Russia, the center of Russia. Every time my father was transferred, we would move. His last post was as head of the court of appeals.

INSIGHT: How would you describe your childhood in that long-ago time?

NG: Wonderful. We were a happy family.

INSIGHT: You were a teenager during the Russian Revolution. When did you first realize what the Bolsheviks were about and what their intentions were?

NG: I spent one year under Bolshevism - enough to know what it's like. It was not pleasant.

INSIGHT: How did you begin to study disinformation?

NG: I started out working with the American Embassy in Latvia. They found me because I spoke very good English. Then I got into the Russian section of the embassy, which was very important at that time. We took care of all the reporting on Russia. We were the window on Russia. If, for example, our embassy in Turkey picked up some information on Russia, they would send it to us immediately. We were the center for analysis. There I learned everything I know about the USSR, and there I learned how to express my views and how to work.

After that, gradually, I began noticing that there were conflicts between what I knew and what the Soviets told us, and I began investigating these conflicts. How did it happen that my knowledge was not the same as what they told me? And that is where I discovered disinformation.

INSIGHT: What's the difference between disinformation and propaganda?

NG: One is obvious, and the other is not. Propaganda is obvious to anybody with any brains, but disinformation is not.i Sometimes more than 90 percent of the content of disinformation is true. The thing that is important is to find the part that is false.

INSIGHT: You've studied the ancient Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu's book, The Art of War, in which he advised leaders to feign weakness to keep enemies from attacking even as the state grows stronger. We know Sun Tzu is important in China. What importance has he in Soviet affairs?

NG: Tremendous importance. If you followed Soviet affairs you quickly realized the Soviets are terribly taken by Sun Tzu, even today. The KGB published 10 books about him. They used his principles, his doctrine in politics rather than war. He wrote everything for a battle, to avoid fighting, to avoid killing his soldiers. But they have transferred Sun Tzu's methods and principles to politics, and they have used his politics as part of their efforts to destroy their enemies, opposition leaders, opposition among the public, their foes outside the Soviet Union. And they used his methods to undermine the countries that they consider dangerous to Russia.

INSIGHT: How have they used his methods?

NG: Well, for example, a long time ago when the Soviets first seized power there was a group of allies who decided, in 1920, that they would not trade with the Soviet government. The Soviet government then took a cooperative that had existed under the czars and was well-known and turned it into a communist organization. They appointed a member of the Communist International as head of the cooperative, and they sent that member of the Communist International abroad under the guise of chairman of the co-op, and he sold the idea of trading with the co-op instead of trading with the Soviet government. It's complicated.

INSIGHT: Didn't they also set up front groups, posing as opposition groups, that were in fact Soviet operations?

NG: There were dozens of them.i The opposition was infiltrated by a Communist agent who found out everything he could about the opposition group and then betrayed it. A group called the "Trust" has become famous because it was uncovered by the Soviets themselves. Far more important was this group, "Sindikat."

INSIGHT: What was the Sindikat?

NG: It pretended to be a left-wing movement against communism. There was a man named Boris Savinkov [an migr living in Poland] who had a big following in Russia and who tried to use that following to overthrow the Soviets. At first he was more or less successful. Then he was betrayed by using Sun Tzu methods. He was fooled into believing that there was still an organization [of his followers] in Russia awaiting his personal leadership, and he crossed the border [in 1925], and that was the end.i He was seized and killed.

INSIGHT: Do you think the Soviets and the Communist movement were bent on world domination from the beginning.

NG: Not world domination exactly, though maybe it was at one time. It's simply complete influence so that what they want they can get. Complete influence, by every and any means.i

I'm going to make you think I'm insane, but the effort still exists, having changed only its mode of action. Before, they had the idea that they would cause a revolution from below, and all the governments would topple. Today, they're working from another angle. Instead of pressure from below, they're applying pressure from above.


NG: One of the principles of communism that they're trying to achieve is to bring noncommunists under communist influence. By creating a movement, let us say, on the environment, they will bring in a lot of people who are sincere environmentalists. But they will have communists in key positions of the movement who will influence the innocent to a certain extent and work to change their ideas.

INSIGHT: Do you see China as a threat in the next century?

NG: It's a big threat. They are very energetic, and they want to rule as much of the world as they can.

INSIGHT: Are you familiar with the Chemical Weapons Convention that the Senate recently ratified?

NG: I don't like it.i I believe Russia has not ratified it.

INSIGHT: Any reflections on the 20th century, since you've lived through most of it? What will people see when they look back on this century.

NG: Confusion. Look at what has happened. The world has been turned completely over. Nations have been chopped into bits. Countries have expanded. It has been complete confusion.

INSIGHT: What are your secrets to living so long and being so healthy?

NG: I don't know. I've always been interested in things. I think that has a lot to do with it. When people stop being interested, they fade. As long as you're interested, you live.

*****PERSONAL BIO*****

BORN: March 8, 1901, in Tallinn, Estonia (then Russia).

CAREER: Until 1939, translator and analyst, American Legation, Riga, Latvia. Served American consuls during World War II, first in Brussels and then in Bern, Switzerland. After the war was assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Paris. Analyzed international communism at State Department headquarters in Washington in the late fifties and accompanied Soviet delegations that visited the United States. A research associate at the Hoover Institution at Stanford during the sixties.

WHAT SHE READS: "The best is the Washington Times, and it is the journal I rely on for information on foreign affairs. The [Washington] Post has zero. The New York Times - I don't like their tendencies. I don't read that." Grant also reads Pravda and literature from the Gorbachev Foundation.

OTHER INTERESTS: "I like food ... Not every kind, just good food. I like vegetables of every kind. I eat as many fruits and vegetables as I can cook ... I like chocolate. I like nuts. I eat everything."

Friday, June 16, 2006

Desinformatzia and the Islamic Agenda

Last night I attended the New York screening of the documentary American Zeitgeist: crisis & conscience in an age of terror, shown at the New York Society for Ethical Culture.

The documentary recommends itself as one that “ resists political agenda”, “presenting a a bigger picture in a wider historical perspective” beginning with the Afghan-Soviet War in 1979 and ending with the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Forty “leading brains” ( amongst well known policy makers, academics and journalists, together with Imams, and terrorists, ramble on presenting their views. According to the film’s advertising and reviews it’s “aim is to awaken the consciousness-and conscience-of the audience” (a mixed group of professionals, students and the curious like me, who received the invitation because of this blog) “within a wider historical framework…rather than play the blame game…”

Two years ago in Spain I discovered a series of articles labeled Disinformatzia, (the Goebbels-Soviet-KGB-state-of-the art-manipulative schemers of influencing public opinion by subtle misinformation) which would present to the reader, under a shocking title, a verbatim account of the article (usually negative and filled with distortions) that appeared in the mainstream media.

The author , who misrepresented himself as a conservative American spokesperson, was a local self labeled ex-communist. He explained to me on more than one occasion that his goal was to salvage the US Constitution by exposing the country’smainstream media’s negative articles on US foreign and domestic policy and countering that information with valid facts.

The reason I bring this up is because what I saw yesterday brought back to me the nightmare I encountered two years ago. I spent several months convincing people of what I perceived. The film, is in essence a documentary and shows Bin Laden and terrorists in Afghan camps riding on horseback and living in filth, romantically described as “cowboys”(wishful thinking) with scenes of the horrible attacks on the WTC, the Pentagon, the USS Cole, and going back to the Carter years plus interviews to these 40 individuals, whose actual words may have been taken out of context to fit the plans of the “evil” orchestrators.

In my most humble opinion, behind this Disinformatzia documentary must be the tentacles of an Islamic organization bent on influencing American public opinion.

Since they cannot bomb us in our homeland, thanks to our valiant troops out in the Middle East theatre and the perseverance and backbone of this Administration, they are financing and pushing the “useful idiots”, westerners and traitors with a communist agenda, who, in their passion to find fault in our heritage and values allow themselves to be used and manipulated. How on earth would one have to listen and view on the screen an irate Imam crying blood and death on Americans while at the same time viewing flashes of juxtaposed scenes of President Bush with Mubarak or Prince Saud of Saudi Arabia… The idea, which again, in my mho, was very obvious and the underlying premise for the whole documentary, is that the US is responsible for the chaos in the Middle East, and all these “terrorists” were created by all the Administrations, past and present. In other words, it’s all our fault.

This of course also reminds me of the article I placed on this blog and which I copied under my title, “Are we Christians the “useful idiots” and willing executioners of Islamic Terrorism?” . The article: “ Divestment: the how to Manual” is authored by David Meir Levi in FrontPage Magazine, an eye opener for those of us who are not academics, journalists or “leading brains".

“First in universities, then in main line churches, and now in the Green Party, anti-Israel left-wing activists are taking their instruction from this manual and launching divestment campaigns “by the book.” The almost cookie-cutter character of these campaigns is strong evidence that their perpetrators have followed the Arab manual’s instructions step by step. The same is true of the academic boycotts of Israel in the USA and the UK.”

Another poignant comment by the author is the statement that ‘ What many of us do not know, is the degree to which that fifth column infiltration has been successful. Our failure in this first rule of warfare is due in part to the sophistication of that infiltration, its use of western operatives of all religions, and the degree to which those operatives have insinuated themselves into so many aspects of the woof and warp of our society.

The clearest example of this infiltration is the divestment strategy”. (

Food for thought. Food for action.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Latest News! Latest News!: Al Gore: From inventing the INTERNET to saving the PLANET


Presbyterian Church USA to debate ISRAEL Divesment Resolution on June 16th

PCUSA is counting the days

As Presbyterians count the days until their General Assembly meets in Birmingham, Israpundit provides this insight of the Israel Divestment Movement within the Presbyterian Church USA. (PCUSA)

Two years ago PCUSA leaders caught the world by surprise when they overwhelming voted to start a process of divesting from corporations doing business with Israel.

Israpundit, along with hundreds of others in the blogosphere, have shown through extensive analysis the inherent bias and misinformation used by PCUSA leaders to promote and afterwards defend its divestment action. They also showed the genesis of the resolution.

For example, Seraphic Secret Reveals Secret Divestment Tactics

This important note, with some shocking revelations, just came in from a concerned Christian reader who wishes to remain anonymous.

Perhaps the most stunning revelation here is that someone who is working towards divestment, has been mailing out Norman Finkelstein’s most recent book to hundreds of Commissioners of the Presbyterian Church USA’s General Assembly. Finkelstein, for those who might not be aware, is a notorious antiSemite who camouflages his pathological hatred under the guise of a benign academic antiZionism. He and Noam Chomsky are twin Kapos.

Whomever is mailing out this loathsome creature’s book is indeed making use of the most diabolical of antiSemitic tactics: using a Jewish traitor against his own people.

Also, Israpundit posted Deception at the root of Israel’s de-legitimation

Stop the ISM reports in The ISM is a cult and not to be tolerated that

“The ISM was originally set up by leadership of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the primarily Christian Arab and communist wing of the PLO, with Yasser Arafat’s blessing in 2002. It was designed to ally with foreign anarchist and anti-capitalist groups in the West in a common goal of making worldwide revolution that would include the dismantling of the Jewish state of Israel as a top priority.”

The handiwork of that endeavour can be witnessed in the recent anti-Israel resolutions the following groups have adopted; World Council of Churches, CUPE, NATFHE, PCUSA

Here is how the pro and anti divestment forces in the PCUSA seem to line up going into the General Assembly beginning June 15.

PCUSA leaders want to continue the divestment process and create a working group to study the Middle East issues for another two years. In contrast, PCUSA churches sent 34 overtures to the General Assembly with two thirds calling for divestment to be rescinded or suspended now!

Supporters on each side of the divestment issue

Let’s first look at the organizations and individuals supporting the PCUSA leaders. They include Jewish Voice for Peace, Tikkun, Global Exchange, End the Occupation, Norm Finkelstein, International Solidarity Movement, Palestinian Solidarity Movement, Sabeel and Friends of Sabeel NA, and the Socialists. These organizations are on the fringes of society.

The PCUSA churches demanding an end to divestment now have the following organizations and individuals in their camp. The Democratic National Committee opposes divestment from Israel. Members of the US Senate and US House of Representatives have stated their opposition to divestment. (No Congressperson supports divestment.) The mainstream Jewish groups include the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Anti-Defamation League, American Jewish Committee, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Hadassah, American Jewish Congress, Jewish Labor Committee, B’nai B’rith International, National Council of Jewish Women, and Union for Reform Judaism. Alan Dershowitz and Dennis Prager are two of many nationally known commentators opposing divestment.

It could not be clearer.

PCUSA leaders are aligned with radical fringe groups in their quest to demonize Israel through a divestment movement. Many of these radical organizations giving moral support to the PCUSA leaders not only demonize Israel, but also call for Israel’s demise.

PCUSA churches demanding an end to divestment are aligned with mainstream organizations and individuals.

Past actions by each side of the divestment issue.

Actions speak louder than words and for the PCUSA leaders we know: In October 2004 the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP) met with Hezbollah terrorist leaders and one committee member had this to say: “I’d like to say that, according to my recent experience, relations and conversations with Islamic leaders are a lot easier than dealings and dialogue with Jewish leaders.”

In February 2004, before the PCUSA approved its Israel Divestment Resolution, top PCUSA leaders Clifton Kirkpatrick and John Detterick were on a fact finding tour of the Middle East. In a subsequent speech by Detterick he told his audience. “The delegation visited Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Palestine and Egypt. They met with fellow Christians and government officials, including, among others, the President in Lebanon and the Prime Minister of Syria (no Israeli officials were available).”

PCUSA leaders find it difficult to talk with or to even locate Jewish and Israeli leaders.

PCUSA churches seem to have no difficulty meeting with all parties in the Middle East as reflected in a recent trip report by a group of Presbyterians from churches across the USA.

“Completing a five-day fact finding mission throughout Israel, Gaza and the West Bank, a group of eleven Presbyterians announced divestment is flawed and called on the PCUSA’s voting commissioners to rescind the policy. The eleven member fact finding mission met with a broad cross section of religious, government, business and NGO leaders including: Pro-divestment Palestinian activist Naim Ateek, Director of the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center; Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Archishop Anba Abraham; Former Israel Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau; Beit Hagefen Arab-Jewish Center Director General Dr. Moti Peri; Former Israel Housing Minister Natan Sharansky; Jerusalem Post journalist Khaled Abu Toameh; Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav; Uzi Dayan, Israel General and Former National Security Advisor to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon; Shfaram Mayor Ziad Yassin; Jaffa Institute Executive Director Dr. David J. Portowicz; Israel National Security Council Deputy Director for Foreign Policy Eran Etzion Jerusalem Center For Public Affairs Scholar in Residence Justice Reid Weiner; Municipality of Tel Aviv-Yafo Deputy Mayor Yael Dayan, Director of International Relations Eliav Blizowsky; and Israel commentator Ehud Yaari.”

Money is an issue in the divestment debate
The Middle East resolutions passed by the 216th and prior General Assemblies have created a network run amuck of headquarters staff, GA committees, and outside organizations receiving PCUSA funding. The amount of money spent by PCUSA leaders to organize and now defend Israeli divestment is in the millions of dollars. As the estimates show, PCUSA leaders have directed 4% of the national budget to staff, committees, and outside organizations dedicated to promoting a propaganda attack on Israel.

PCUSA leaders seem to have no conscience spending the church’s money in promoting their flawed and biased attack against Israel.

Israpundit commends the work by volunteer Presbyterians who have created websites and networks to inform their fellow members about the Israel Divestment Movement being promoted by the leadership in their church.

Those Presbyterians are:
Bearing Witness
Committee to End Divestment Now
Concerned Presbyterians

Latest News! Latest News!: Al Gore: From inventing the INTERNET to saving the PLANET

June 13, 2006
Tipper Gore Ready to Support Another White House Run

Gore Says She Doesn't Think About What Might Have Been
She's spent five years recovering from the last run at the White House, but Tipper Gore says she's ready if her husband wants to do it again.

"If he were going to run in the future, of course I would support him," Tipper Gore told ABCNews' Claire Shipman in her first television interview in four years. "I think he'd be a fantastic president. He already got a majority of votes of people in this country once, and so that says something."

Al Gore is back in the political spotlight with his new documentary on global warming, "An Inconvenient Truth," and some are wondering if he'll make another run for president.

"I can't say yes, can't say no," Tipper Gore said. "He is saying he's not interested in running in '08."

At the premiere of his film, Al Gore was more circumspect, however. His exact words were, "I don't have plans to be a candidate again." His wife said not to read too much into the phrasing, however.

"Let me say it exactly," Tipper Gore said. "He has said, 'I'm not interested in running in '08.' Now, as he also says, he's 58. He's got many more years. He probably figures, 'Who knows what might come?' He never imagined he'd be in the movies, walking up a red carpet in Cannes."


Monday, June 12, 2006

Reverse globalization: re-primitivized man.

Here are a couple of paragraphs of Mark Steyn's incisive it all.

Writing about the collapse of nations such as Somalia, the Atlantic Monthly's Robert D. Kaplan referred to the "citizens" of such "states" as "re-primitivized man." When lifelong Torontonians are hot for decapitation, when Yorkshiremen born and bred and into fish 'n' chips and cricket and lousy English pop music self-detonate on the London Tube, it would seem that the phenomenon of "re-primitivized man" has been successfully exported around the planet. It's reverse globalization: The pathologies of the remotest backwaters now have franchise outlets in every Western city. You don't have to be a loser Ontario welfare recipient like Steven Chand, the 25-year-old Muslim convert named in the thwarted prime ministerial beheading. Omar Sheikh, the man behind the beheading of the Wall Street Journal's Daniel Pearl, was an English "public" (i.e., private) schoolboy and graduate of the London School of Economics.
If you think the idea of some kook beheading prime ministers on video is nutty, maybe you're looking at things back to front. What's nutty is that, half a decade on from Sept. 11, the Saudis are still allowed to bankroll schools and mosques and think tanks and fast-track imam chaplaincy programs in prisons and armed forces around the world. Oil isn't the principal Saudi export, ideology is; petroleum merely bankrolls it.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

What's the common denominator among the 17 terrorists from Canada?

Why can't we call a spade a spade? Robert Spencer clearly addresses the cancer that is spreading among us in the West:

Canadian officials are congratulating themselves for insisting, as did Police Chief Blair, that the jihadist suspects were “motivated by an ideology based on politics, hatred and terrorism, and not on faith.”

How does he know that? The suspects met in a mosque. They discussed their plot in the context of religion. Their fellow students and mosquegoers knew they were preaching and studying violent jihad, and did nothing to stop them. Instead of going out of his way to claim that Islam had nothing to do with this, and devoting all their attention to trying to prevent backlash attacks, Blair and other Canadian officials should be asking the Canadian Muslim community some tough questions, including:

- Why didn’t you come to us when you knew that violent jihad was being preached in Ontario?
- What other Muslims are preaching violent jihad in Canada, and where?
- What is the extent of support for jihad and the imposition of Sharia among Muslims in Canada?
- Would you yourselves like to see Canada become an Islamic state, even by peaceful means?

How much longer can officials in Canada and elsewhere in the West wait to ask these questions, and to follow through on the implications of the answers? If the jihadists just arrested in Canada had carried out their plans, they would have beheaded the Prime Minister of Canada and other members of Parliament, and destroyed the Toronto Stock Exchange and other Canadian landmarks.

Will it take a successful jihad attack of this kind for Western officials to wake up and do what they must do in order to guarantee the security of the societies they have been entrusted with protecting?

Read it all in

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Gentleman's Agreement:"Britain allowed itself to be taken hostage by militant gays, feminists, "anti-racists" and.... radical islamists"

The Times June 06, 2006

Come to Londonistan, our refuge for poor misunderstood Islamist victimsMelanie Phillips

ACCORDING TO REMARKS attributed in the past few days to security sources, no fewer than 1,200 Islamist terrorists are biding their time within British suburbs. Yet does Britain even now fully understand the nature of the threat it is facing, let alone have the will to deal with it?

The recent report by the Commons Intelligence Committee on last July’s London bombings barely scratched the surface of the failure by the security establishment. It failed to note, for example, Britain’s dirty little secret: that from the 1990s, Islamist radicals had been given free rein in Britain in a “gentlemen’s agreement” that if they were left alone, they would not turn on the country that was so generously nurturing them. The result was “Londonistan”, as Britain became the hub of al-Qaeda in Europe.

This intelligence debacle, however, was only the tip of the iceberg. Among Britain’s governing class — its intelligentsia, its media, its politicians, its judiciary, its Church and even its police — a broader and deeper cultural pathology persists to this day. Londonistan is more than the physical presence of Islamist extremists. It is also a state of mind. To a dismaying extent, the British have signed up to the false narrative of those who are laying siege to their society.

The problem lies in a refusal to acknowledge that Islamist extremism is rooted in religion. Instead, ministers and security officials prefer to think of it as a protest movement against grievances such as Iraq or Palestine, or “Islamophobia”. They simply ignore the statements and signs that show unequivocally that the aim is to Islamicise the West.

In large measure, this is the outcome of a profound loss of cultural nerve. The doctrines of multiculturalism and minority rights, themselves the outcome of a systematic onslaught by the British elite against the country’s own identity and values, have paralysed the establishment, which accordingly shies away from criticising any minority for fear of being labelled as bigoted.

As a result, it ignored the radicalisation of many British Muslims by extremist Islamic institutions. Worse still, “grievance culture” has meant that instead of fighting the paranoia and lies driving the Islamists’ hatred of the West, British society is afflicted by the very same pathology.

Minority rights doctrine has produced a moral inversion, in which those doing wrong are excused if they belong to a “victim” group, while those at the receiving end of their behaviour are blamed simply because they belong to the “oppressive” majority.

Britain effectively allowed itself to be taken hostage by militant gays, feminists or “anti-racists” who used weapons such as public vilification, moral blackmail and threats to people’s livelihoods to force the majority to give in to their demands. So when radical Islamists refused to accept minority status and insisted instead that their values must trump those of the majority, Britain had no answer.

This was disastrous because Islamist violence is fuelled by precisely this false sense of victimisation. The mendacious message preached by Islamist leaders, that Britain and America are engaged in a war on Islam rather than a defence of their societies, is a potent incitement to terror by whipping up a hysteria that Muslims are under attack.

So any attempt by the West to defend itself against terror becomes a recruiting sergeant for that terror. The more atrocities committed against the West, the more the West tries to defend itself; and the more it does so, the more hysteria among Muslims rises that they are under attack, and the more they are thus incited to hatred and to terrorism.

The circle is completed by British fellow-travellers who promulgate the same morally inverted thinking, and thus help further to incite both Muslim extremism and Western defeatism. After the London bombings, this gave rise to the widely expressed view that the major problem was not Islamic terrorism but Islamophobia.

It is impossible to overstate the importance — not just to Britain but to the global struggle against Islamist extremism — of properly understanding and publicly challenging this moral, intellectual and philosophical inversion, which translates aggressor into victim and vice versa. For it has destabilised debate by allowing Muslims to argue that British and American foreign policy is unfair and aggressive towards the Muslim world.

So profound is the fear of being branded a bigot among British liberals that the obvious examples of illogicality, untruths and paranoia in such discourse have never been challenged.

The British Establishment also ignores this because it is in a state of denial. With few exceptions politicians, Whitehall officials, senior police and intelligence officers and academic experts have failed to grasp that the problem to be confronted is not just the assembly of bombs and poison factories but what is going on inside people’s heads that drives them to such acts.

Transfixed instead by the artificial division it has erected between those who actively espouse violence and those who do not, the British Establishment rejects the idea that the hatred of Jews, Israel, America and the West that suffuses the utterances of the Muslim Brotherhood forms an ideological conveyor belt to terrorism.

The result of this institutionalised denial has been that the Government has settled upon a disastrously misguided strategy. Believing that Islamist terrorism is merely about grievances, it thinks it can appease Islamist rage by pandering to extremism and inviting Muslim Brotherhood radicals into the heart of the British Establishment as advisers.

In Britain, hundreds of thousands of Muslims lead law-abiding lives and merely want to prosper and raise their families in peace. But truly moderate Muslims are finding that, through such appeasement, the host community is cutting the ground from under their feet and delivering them into the hands of the extremists. This is a deliberate policy of riding the Islamist tiger. But those who ride a tiger may get eaten.

Extracted from Londonistan by Melanie Phillips, published next week by Gibson Square

Islamic imperialism.

Here are some highlights from an illuminative review of Efraim Karsh's Islamic Imperialism: A History, by Theodore Dalrymple:

In his new book, Islamic Imperialism: A History, Professor Efraim Karsh does not mince words about Mohammed’s early and (to all those who do not accept the divinity of his inspiration) unscrupulous resort to robbery and violence, or about Islam’s militaristic aspects, or about the link between Islamic tradition and the current wave of fundamentalist violence in the world. The originality of Karsh’s interpretation is its underlying assumption that Islam was, from the very beginning, a pretext for personal and dynastic political ambition, from the razzias against the Meccan caravans and the expulsion of Jewish tribes from Medina, to the siege of Vienna a millennium later in 1529, and Hamas today.

Contrary to its universalistic pretensions, Karsh argues, Islam has never succeeded in eliminating political power struggles within the Muslim world, where, on the contrary, such struggles have always been murderous. Islamic regimes, many espousing in the beginning the ascetic principles of what one might call desert Islam, invariably degenerate (if it be degeneration) into luxury- and privilege-loving dynasties. Like all other political entities, Islamic regimes seek to preserve and, if possible, extend their power…

In short, Islamic imperialism, in Karsh’s view, illustrates three transcendent political truths: the Nietzschean drive to power, Michels’ iron law of oligarchy, and Marx’s economic motor of history. Religious feeling, on this reading, is but an epiphenomenon, a mask for what is really going on.

…Karsh seems to oscillate between believing that Islamic imperialism is just a variant of imperialism in general—imperialism being more or less a permanent manifestation of the human will to power—and believing that there is something sui generis and therefore uniquely dangerous about it.

I hesitate to rush in where so many better-informed people have hesitated to tread, or have trodden before, but I would put it like this. The urge to domination is nearly a constant of human history. The specific (and baleful) contribution of Islam is that, by attributing sovereignty solely to God, and by pretending in a philosophically primitive way that God’s will is knowable independently of human interpretation, and therefore of human interest and desire—in short by allowing nothing to human as against divine nature—it tries to abolish politics. All compromises become mere truces; there is no virtue in compromise in itself. Thus Islam is inherently an unsettling and dangerous factor in world politics, independently of the actual conduct of many Muslims.

Karsh comes close to this conclusion himself, when he writes at the end of the book:

Only when the political elites of the Middle East and the Muslim world reconcile themselves to the reality of state nationalism, forswear pan-Arab and pan-Islamic dreams, and make Islam a matter of private faith rather than a tool of political ambition will the inhabitants of these regions at last be able to look forward to a better future free of would-be Saladins.

The fundamental question is whether Islam as a private faith would still be Islam, or whether such privatization would spell its doom. I think it would spell its doom. In this sense, I am an Islamic fundamentalist. The choice is between all and nothing.

Viva Italia!

Twenty-seven wounded veterans from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington and the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda, Md., and their family members were treated to an Italian fest last Friday at the Italian Embassy. The Stars and Stripes reports that

The Friday dinners are a two-year-old tradition started by Hal Koster, co-owner of the Fran O’Brien’s Stadium Steak House in Washington, and his friend and fellow Vietnam veteran, Jim Mayer.

The Italian Ambassador, Gianni Castellaneta, and his wife, Lila, heard about Fran O’Brien’s dinners through an Italian sponsor and offered to have the wounded servicemembers over to the embassy at some point as well, according to Shoshana Bryen, a member of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, another sponsor.

After Fran O’Brien’s lost its lease at the Hilton Hotel in Washington, the Italian ambassador and his wife decided to make good on their plans to welcome the wounded veterans...

Read the full story and check out the neat pictures here and here.

Friday, June 02, 2006

A counterweight to Murtha's & co.'s frenzy: Sgt. Rafael Peralta's courage: a story of a proud Marine.

A Hero's sacrifice
Submitted by: 1st Force Service Support Group
Story by: Computed Name: Lance Cpl. T. J. Kaemmerer
Story Identification #: 2004123102943

FALLUJAH, Iraq(Dec. 2, 2004) -- "You’re still here, don’t forget that. Tell your kids, your grandkids, what Sgt. Peralta did for you and the other Marines today."

As a combat correspondent, I was attached to Company A, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment for Operation Al Fajr, to make sure the stories of heroic actions and the daily realities of battle were told.

On this day, I found myself without my camera. With the batteries dead, I decided to leave the camera behind and live up to the ethos "every Marine a rifleman," by volunteering to help clear the fateful buildings that lined streets.

After seven days of intense fighting in Fallujah, the Marines of 1/3 embraced a new day with a faceless enemy.

We awoke November 15, 2004, around day-break in the abandoned, battle-worn house we had made our home for the night. We shaved, ate breakfast from a Meal, Ready-to-Eat pouch and waited for the word to move.

The word came, and we started what we had done since the operation began – clear the city of insurgents, building by building.

As an attachment to the unit, I had been placed as the third man in a six-man group, or what Marines call a 'stack.' Two stacks of Marines were used to clear a house. Moving quickly from the third house to the fourth, our order in the stack changed. I found Sgt. Rafael Peralta in my spot, so I fell in behind him as we moved toward the house.

A Mexican-American who lived in San Diego, Peralta earned his citizenship after he joined the Marine Corps. He was a platoon scout, which meant he could have stayed back in safety while the squads of 1st Platoon went into the danger filled streets, but he was constantly asking to help out by giving them an extra Marine. I learned by speaking with him and other Marines the night before that he frequently put his safety, reputation and career on the line for the needs and morale of the junior Marines around him.

When we reached the fourth house, we breached the gate and swiftly approached the building. The first Marine in the stack kicked in the front door, revealing a locked door to their front and another at the right.

Kicking in the doors simultaneously, one stack filed swiftly into the room to the front as the other group of Marines darted off to the right.

"Clear!" screamed the Marines in one of the rooms followed only seconds later by another shout of "clear!" from the second room. One word told us all we wanted to know about the rooms: there was no one in there to shoot at us.

We found that the two rooms were adjoined and we had another closed door in front of us. We spread ourselves throughout the rooms to avoid a cluster going through the next door.

Two Marines stacked to the left of the door as Peralta, rifle in hand, tested the handle. I watched from the middle, slightly off to the right of the room as the handle turned with ease.

Ready to rush into the rear part of the house, Peralta threw open the door.

‘POP! POP! POP!’ Multiple bursts of cap-gun-like sounding AK-47 fire rang throughout the house.

Three insurgents with AK-47s were waiting for us behind the door.

Peralta was hit several times in his upper torso and face at point-blank range by the fully-automatic 7.62mm weapons employed by three terrorists.

Mortally wounded, he jumped into the already cleared, adjoining room, giving the rest of us a clear line of fire through the doorway to the rear of the house.

We opened fire, adding the bangs of M-16A2 service rifles, and the deafening, rolling cracks of a Squad Automatic Weapon, or “SAW,” to the already nerve-racking sound of the AKs. One Marine was shot through the forearm and continued to fire at the enemy.

I fired until Marines closer to the door began to maneuver into better firing positions, blocking my line of fire. Not being an infantryman, I watched to see what those with more extensive training were doing.

I saw four Marines firing from the adjoining room when a yellow, foreign-made, oval-shaped grenade bounced into the room, rolling to a stop close to Peralta’s nearly lifeless body.

In an act living up to the heroes of the Marine Corps’ past, such as Medal of Honor recipients Pfc. James LaBelle and Lance Cpl. Richard Anderson, Peralta – in his last fleeting moments of consciousness- reached out and pulled the grenade into his body. LaBelle fought on Iwo Jima and Anderson in Vietnam, both died saving their fellow Marines by smothering the blast of enemy grenades.

Peralta did the same for all of us in those rooms.

I watched in fear and horror as the other four Marines scrambled to the corners of the room and the majority of the blast was absorbed by Peralta’s now lifeless body. His selflessness left four other Marines with only minor injuries from smaller fragments of the grenade.

During the fight, a fire was sparked in the rear of the house. The flames were becoming visible through the door.

The decision was made by the Marine in charge of the squad to evacuate the injured Marines from the house, regroup and return to finish the fight and retrieve Peralta’s body.

We quickly ran for shelter, three or four houses up the street, in a house that had already been cleared and was occupied by the squad’s platoon.

As Staff Sgt. Jacob M. Murdock took a count of the Marines coming back, he found it to be one man short, and demanded to know the whereabouts of the missing Marine.

"Sergeant Peralta! He’s dead! He’s f------ dead," screamed Lance Cpl. Adam Morrison, a machine gunner with the squad, as he came around a corner. "He’s still in there. We have to go back."

The ingrained code Marines have of never leaving a man behind drove the next few moments. Within seconds, we headed back to the house unknown what we may encounter yet ready for another round.

I don't remember walking back down the street or through the gate in front of the house, but walking through the door the second time, I prayed that we wouldn't lose another brother.

We entered the house and met no resistance. We couldn't clear the rest of the house because the fire had grown immensely and the danger of the enemy’s weapons cache exploding in the house was increasing by the second.

Most of us provided security while Peralta's body was removed from the house.

We carried him back to our rally point and upon returning were told that the other Marines who went to support us encountered and killed the three insurgents from inside the house.

Later that night, while I was thinking about the day’s somber events, Cpl. Richard A. Mason, an infantryman with Headquarters Platoon, who, in the short time I was with the company became a good friend, told me, "You’re still here, don’t forget that. Tell your kids, your grandkids, what Sgt. Peralta did for you and the other Marines today."

As a combat correspondent, this is not only my job, but an honor.

Throughout Operation Al Fajr, we were constantly being told that we were making history, but if the books never mention this battle in the future, I’m sure that the day and the sacrifice that was made, will never be forgotten by the Marines who were there.

The Iraqi Reuters reporter who "broke" the Haditha story was jailed by the US for 5 months, released, and then detained again for 2 weeks.

Sweetness & Light points out that

..we have heard nothing about the curious background of one of the first journalists to report the story, Ali Omar Abrahem al-Mashhadani, from the "restive town" of Ramadi.

It turns out Mr. al-Mashhadani might not have felt the kindliest intentions towards the US, having been imprisoned for five months mere weeks before his Haditha scoop.

Al-Mashhadani was detained because images found on his camera and because of his t"ies to the insurgents," according to US officials.

Indeed, al-Mashhadani has since been detained by the US again, for two weeks. In fact he was only released today.

The troubling concept of "blood money".

There is a troubling piece written by Andrew Walden that poses questions relating to the Haditha situation. The on-going investigation is that: on-going. But, before jumping to the conclusion that the Marines involved are all guilty (without benefit of the presumption of innocence until proven guilty), Mr. Walden’s piece brings out into the open the reliability of Iraqi witnesses, the question of their credibility, and the role “blood money” plays in Iraq.

All accounts of the incident describe 15 civilians being killed—with the cause of death in dispute. There is dispute over whether the nine other deaths were hostiles. The total is 24 deaths. Is it possible that Marines entered two separate homes, killed seven or eight civilians—including women and small children--in each home and in each case left a young girl in each home as the sole witness? Is it not impossible—but since all the reports depend entirely on Iraqi witnesses and the possibly coached testimony of two young girls, it is worth taking a look at other cases where these type of charges fell apart at trial.

There is another case which speaks directly to the credibility of local Iraqi witnesses and to the Iraqi tradition of “blood money”. On trial were seven British soldiers charged with murder stemming from a May, 2003 incident in Ferkah, Iraq. The trial collapsed November 3, 2005 after it became clear that many of the key Iraqi witnesses were lying in order to gain “blood money”. The BBC describes the collapse of the trial as follows:

“…it has become clear to everyone involved as the trial has progressed that the main Iraqi witnesses had colluded to exaggerate and lie about the incident.”

…The logic in the British case and possibly in Haditha is simple: If the coalition did not have a fight with the insurgents, the deaths would not have occurred. Therefore the coalition owes blood money regardless of who actually killed the 24 people in Haditha or the circumstances of those deaths. In this system the payment of blood money is not an admission of guilt, it is a balancing of tribal obligations.

…Would Muslims lie in order to obtain blood money payments? Some insight comes in this response to the collapse of the British trial posted online by a Baghdad-based US contractor.
I’ve been in Iraq for about 18 months now performing construction management. It is simply not possible for me to exaggerate the massive amounts of lies we wade through every single day. There is no way - absolutely none - to determine facts from bulls*** from these people.

To be fair to individual Iraqis, lying and deception is an integral part of their culture. It is not even considered lying to them; it is more akin to being clever - like keeping your cards close to your chest. And they don’t just lie to westerners. They believe that appearances--saving face--are of paramount importance. They lie to each other all the time about anything in order to leverage others on a deal or manipulate an outcome of some sort or cover up some major or minor embarrassment. It’s just how they do things, period.

I’m not trying to disparage them here. I get along great with a lot of them. But even among those that I like, if something happens I’ll get 50 wildly different stories, every time. There’s no comparison to it in any other part of the world where I’ve worked. The lying is ubiquitous and constant.

Obviously in the case of these soldiers, the “witnesses” were lying with malice for profit - saving face had nothing to do with it.

But every Westerner here has been taken totally by surprise by the lies upon lies upon BS and lies. It makes it impossible to form any agreements, impossible to plan anything, and impossible to investigate anything….

Remember this every time you see news reports where Iraqi “witnesses” say that American planes killed a bunch of civilians somewhere…. First, those people are living under the threat of terrorists in their midst - what do you think they are going to say when a western camera is thrust into their face, nice shot America! Death to the terrorists! They’d be dead in 5 minutes. It drives those of us who work closely with the Iraqis absolutely mad. It makes me sick and alarmed to think of any westerner being brought up on charges of any kind based strictly on the words of an Arab. I’m sure the prosecutors were informed by field officers and others about the Iraqi propensity to lie about everything all the time. Shame on them (the British Ministry of Defense) for going forward without any other evidence.
[Emphasis is mine.]

40 million immigrants coming to the US in the next 20 years. 80% of Americans don't want this, yet the White House and the Senate do! What gives?

Anyone ever wonder what the "real numbers" of immigrants are behind the immigration reform? Here, in a nutshell, is the information, courtesy of Rush Limbaugh:

...Remember when we reported the numbers from the Heritage Foundation would be between a hundred million, two hundred million immigrants, legal and illegal over the next 20 years, and everybody said, "That's so outrageous! That is not true," and then they went in the Senate and they changed the bill a little bit and so the Heritage Foundation, Robert Rector, revised the number down to 60 million, between 60 and 90.

[Robert] Samuelson said, "This is crazy!" The White House just put out their own figures, and the number is 40 million! Forty to 60 million over 20 years, legal and illegal, and Samuelson said, "Where's the media on this? It's been plain as day for anybody to see. I'm a columnist. Why has nobody reported it?" We all have been talking about it, and those of us talking about it have been smeared. This was the topic Brent Bozell was talking about last night with [Joe] Scarborough. The question: "Why didn't Americans learn about these immigration figures from the mainstream media long before now?"

BOZELL: You will get more news from talk radio than you will get from the news media today, because in a truncated, five-minute news fluff format on CBS News. There just isn't any substance being reported.

SCARBOROUGH: But Brent, they call Rush Limbaugh, on TV they call Pat Buchanan, all bigots. Because if you're against this immigration bill, you are a bigot, and yet 80% of Americans and the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, they don't want to admit that 80% of Americans are with Rush Limbaugh. They're not with the editorial pages of the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal.

BOZELL: That is exactly right.

SCARBOROUGH: Do these people really believe that 80% of Americans are bigoted?

BOZELL: No, they don't, but they want to create that. Look, this is an activist press. They want to create a momentum for this agenda. The Senate, meanwhile, you know, why does the Senate vote against the wishes of 80% of the American public? Why? Because they think they can get away with it. Why? Because the media won't report the facts of what they're doing on Capitol Hill. That's why I'm saying, "Thank God for talk radio."

RUSH: This is why I have always said that we are "doing the job here that the mainstream media used to do," and Bozell is exactly right. ...

Read Robert Samuelson's informative article here: What You Don't Know About the Immigration Bill - Robert J. Samuelson

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Tired of the doom and gloom? Here are encouraging signs.

Am I the only one who failed to read or see anything relating to the town council election that occurred in Sabeaa Al-Boor, Iraq, on May 21, 2006? Here is one photo of the interesting photo essay that captures what has been going on. Check out Defend America.

Iraqi citizens write their votes on pieces of paper during an election to elect new members for council in Sabeaa Al-Boor, Iraq, May 21, 2006. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Larson

An interview with Oriana Fallaci.

There is a marvelous interview with the formidable Oriana Fallaci in The New Yorker magazine, written by Margaret Talbot. Here's a sample:

...Muslim immigration is turning Europe into “a colony of Islam,” an abject place … [called] “Eurabia,” which will soon “end up with minarets in place of the bell-towers, with the burka in place of the mini-skirt.” …Islam has always had designs on Europe, invoking the siege of Constantinople in the seventh century, and the brutal incursions of the Ottoman Empire in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. …contemporary immigration from Muslim countries to Europe amounts to the same thing—invasion—only this time with “children and boats” instead of “troops and cannons.” … the “art of invading and conquering and subjugating” is “the only art at which the sons of Allah have always excelled.” Italy, unlike America, has never been a melting pot, or a “mosaic of diversities glued together by a citizenship. Because our cultural identity has been well defined for thousands of years we cannot bear a migratory wave of people who have nothing to do with us . . . who, on the contrary, aim to absorb us.” Muslim immigrants—with their burkas, their chadors, their separate schools—have no desire to assimilate… And European leaders, in their muddleheaded multiculturalism, have made absurd accommodations to them: allowing Muslim women to be photographed for identity documents with their heads covered; looking the other way when Muslim men violate the law by taking multiple wives or defend the abuse of women on supposedly Islamic grounds. …
“If you speak your mind on the Vatican, on the Catholic Church, on the Pope, on the Virgin Mary or Jesus or the saints, nobody touches your ‘right of thought and expression.’ But if you do the same with Islam, the Koran, the Prophet Muhammad, some son of Allah, you are called a xenophobic blasphemer who has committed an act of racial discrimination. If you kick the ass of a Chinese or an Eskimo or a Norwegian who has hissed at you an obscenity, nothing happens. On the contrary, you get a ‘Well done, good for you.’ But if under the same circumstances you kick the ass of an Algerian or a Moroccan or a Nigerian or a Sudanese, you get lynched.”

Europe's woes: will we be there to help out?

Victor Davis Hanson tells us that the Europeans publicly blame their frustrations on

"crass Americans" - and particularly George Bush. The Iraq war has poisoned the alliance, the Europeans insist. They contend that America's greedy consumers warm the planet, siphon off its oil and trample foreign cultures.
Yet privately, some of them admit that this is a European problem, not an American one. Soon,
[s]ome brave soul soon is going to have to inform the European public: Work much harder and longer for less money; defend the continent on your own; move out of mama's house and start changing diapers - and from now on expect far less from the state.
What will be the response to this "splash of cold water"? Maybe an
European populist will soon appear on the streets in Rome, Berlin or Madrid once again to deceive the public that it was someone else who caused these disappointments?
Victor Davis Hanson ends in a sad note:
We in America should take note of the looming end of this once seemingly endless summer. We've been there, done that with this beloved continent all too many times before.
Read it all in Real Clear Politics.