Friday, March 04, 2005

Blair, Academic Balance, Disappearing Folks, etc...

1) I remember protesting in London in Fall 2003, and
the whole time the Blair government kept insisting
that no commitment had been made to go to war:

The Crawford Deal: did Blair sign up for war at Bush's
Texas ranch in April 2002?

We know that arguments raged about the legality of the
war right up to a crucial cabinet meeting on 17 March
2003, two days before the attack began. But now new
evidence pieced together by the 'IoS' strongly backs
the suspicion that the PM had already made the
decision to strike a year earlier. By Raymond Whitaker
27 February 2005

It was one of the most tense cabinet meetings Downing
Street had seen in living memory. "We were on the
brink of war," recalled Clare Short, who was there.
The consequences would be dramatic, not only for those
round the table, but for millions of Iraqis and
hundreds of thousands of British and American troops.

The date was 17 March 2003, only two days before the
war to oust Saddam Hussein was launched. "The
atmosphere was very fraught by then," Ms Short, then
International Development Secretary, said last week.
Experts in international law were saying the impending
conflict was illegal, her officials were concerned,
and the military was demanding a clear statement of
the legal position....

2) On Academic Balance:

What Does It Mean to be “Balanced” in Academia?
By David A. Hollinger

Mr. Hollinger is Preston Hotchkis Professor and
Department Chair at the University of California,

On Sunday January 9, 2005 a panel devoted to the
history scandals was held at the American Historical
Association's annual meeting. Mr. Hollinger delivered
the following paper.

One of the apparent academic scandals recently
publicized by the media is the alleged lack of balance
in the academic profession, including the discipline
of history, but also the other social sciences and
humanities, and even the physical and biological
sciences. This scandalous lack of balance, often said
to follow from a scandalous pattern of discrimination
in faculty hiring, is measured in several surveys
given wide attention in the New York Times, other
mainstream newspapers, and especially on cable news
channels. The surveys measure the number of
Republicans and Democrats in various academic
departments and campuses and they measure the degree
of sympathy faculty express for the government of
Israel and for the Palestinian opposition to that
government. Balance, in the discourse to which I
refer, is defined in terms of political orientations
in general and party affiliation in particular.

I thought of this putative scandal while reading the
highly engaging papers by Ron Robin and Jon Wiener. I
want to discuss this additional scandal, which I
believe marks an important moment in the relationship
of academia to society, by way of extending the scope
of the inquiry that Ron and Jon have undertaken.

I note that in all of the cases Ron and Jon analyze,
the parties all assume that there is a set of rules
that governs the behavior of the scholar, and that the
points at issue are exactly what those rules are, how
important or trivial the rules are, who sets the
rules, who decides what shall count as a violation of
the rules, and who actually enforces the rules. Hence
a vital element of any perspective on academic
scandals, we learn from the two papers before us, is
the location and texture of the boundary between a
professional community on the one hand, and the larger
society on the other. Jon especially explores the
power of constituencies outside academia to determine
just which violations of academia’s own rules shall be
treated as important and how severe or mild the
penalties shall be....

3) Disappearing folks in Italy. Perhaps the Italian
rule of law was insufficiently brisk. Considering
that the individual in question has disappeared, how
is this different than contractors' kidnappings in
Iraq? A lack of TV footage?:

Italy probes possible CIA role in abduction

Fri Feb 25, 9:40 AM ET Top Stories - Chicago Tribune

By John Crewdson Tribune senior correspondent

An Italian prosecutor investigating the apparent
kidnapping of a suspected Islamic militant in the
streets of Milan served military authorities this week
with a demand for records of flights into and out of a
joint U.S.-Italian air base in northern Italy.

Italian newspapers have reported that the prosecutor,
Armando Spataro, is investigating the possible role of
the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (news - web
sites) in the disappearance of Osama Nasr Mostafa
Hassan, better known as Abu Omar, a popular figure in
Milan's Islamic community who vanished Feb. 17,

4) Iraqi Marshland Article:

"Restoring the Marshlands of Iraq

The marshes of southern Iraq were once the largest
wetland in the Middle East and home to an indigenous
population of tens of thousands of marsh dwellers.
They were also a major flyway for migrating birds.
Today, less than 10% of the marshes in Iraq remain as
fully functioning wetlands because of extensive
drainage and upstream agricultural irrigation programs
on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers implemented during
Saddam Hussein's regime.

Richardson et al. (p. 1307) provide an assessment of
the ecological status of the Iraqi marshes since the
2003 war. Nearly 20% of the original 15,000-
square-kilometer marsh area was reflooded by March
2004. Reflooding has partly restored some of the
former marsh areas. However, high salinity and
toxicity may persist in reflooded marshes unless
flow-through of fresh water is maintained by careful
hydraulic design. It seems that the marshes can be
restored as long as sound ecological restoration
principles are followed."

The Restoration Potential of the Mesopotamian Marshes
of Iraq:
Curtis J. Richardson, Peter Reiss, Najah A. Hussain,
Azzam J. Alwash, Douglas J. Pool
Science, Vol 307, Issue 5713, 1307-1311 , 25 February
[DOI: 10.1126/science.1105750]

5) Rumsfeld Article:

February 22, 2005

Rummy Dropped from the Loop?
By Nick Turse

I first noticed the pattern last year with the Abu
Ghraib torture scandal exploding. By now it's beyond a
trend. Closer to an established fact. Plain for all to
see -- and it suggests a significant breakdown of some
unknown sort at the Department of Defense.

On April 28, 2004, with Sy Hersh about to scoop them,
the journalists at CBS ran a story about crimes
committed by American soldiers at Iraq's Abu Ghraib
prison on its 60 Minutes II program. It included the
now infamous torture photographs as well as
information on the military's own "scathing report" on
the subject, which would later become known (by its
author's name) as the Taguba Report....

6) This is incendiary stuff. I do not mean to imply
full endorsement of Mr. Shamir's views by posting them

Israel Shamir

A Jewish folk tale relates the story of a mute child
who had never said a word despite all the efforts of
the doctors. Then one day, at the ripe age of ten, he
dropped his spoon and cried out, "The soup is too
salty!" His parents asked him in amazement why he had
kept silent for years, and the child replied, "Until
now, everything was all right".

That is the story of Israel Shamir's sudden appearance
in the English-language media. This leading
Russian-Israeli intellectual, writer, translator and
journalist did not write in English until January
2001, when Israeli attacks on Palestinians forced him
to give up literature and turn to politics.

A native of Novosibirsk, Siberia, a grandson of a
professor of mathematics and a descendant of a Rabbi
from Tiberias, Palestine, he studied at the
prestigious School of the Academy of Sciences, and
read Math and Law at Novosibirsk University. In 1969,
he moved to Israel, served as paratrooper in the army
and fought in the 1973 war. After his military service
he resumed his study of Law at the Hebrew University
of Jerusalem, but abandoned the legal profession in
pursuit of a career as a journalist and writer. He got
his first taste of journalism with Israel Radio, and
later went freelance. In 1975, Shamir joined the BBC
and moved to London.

After returning to Israel in 1980, Shamir wrote for
the Israeli daily newspaper Ha’aretz and the newspaper
Al Hamishmar, and worked in the Knesset as the
spokesman for the Israel Socialist Party (Mapam). His
work was published and reprinted many times in both
Israel and in Russia. His most popular work, The Pine
and the Olive, the story of Palestine/Israel, was
published in 1988. Its cover carried a painting by the
Ramallah painter, Nabil Anani.

As the first Palestinian Intifada began, Shamir had
left Israel for Russia, where he covered the eventful
years 1989-1993. While in Moscow, he reported for
Ha’aretz, but was sacked for publishing an article
calling to the return the Palestinian refugees and the
rebuilding of their ruined villages. He wrote for
various Russian newspapers and magazines, including
the daily Pravda and the weekly Zavtra. In 1993, he
returned to Israel and settled in Jaffa.

In response to the second Palestinian Intifada, Shamir
has abandoned his literary occupation and resumed his
work as a journalist. In the midst of the endless talk
of a "Two State solution", Shamir, along with Edward
Said, has become a leading champion of the "One Man,
One Vote, One State" solution in all of
Palestine/Israel. His most recent essays have been
circulating widely on the Internet and are now posted
on many prominent media sites. With every new article,
Shamir is establishing himself as a journalist whose
work speaks to the aspirations of both the Israelis
and the Palestinians.

Shamir (55) lives in Jaffa, he is father of two sons.

Jews and the Empire
By Israel Shamir

(A Talk given in the House of Lords, Westminster, on
February 23, 2005)

Ladies and Lords, Gentlemen, Friends,

It is a great honour for this small writer from
far-away Jaffa to speak to you in this ancient abode
of democracy and aristocracy intertwined, and I wish
to thank my host tonight, my dear brother, his
lordship Nazir Ahmed of Rotherham in the heather-bound
Yorkshire. I would give much to have another dear
friend present here, the late Sir Robin, Lord
Phillimore for much of my love and understanding of
England is due to this friendship. I was but a pup, a
young journalist, who came to work at your renowned
BBC, and the Lord Phillimore was my bridge and my
guide to the good old England of Pickwick Papers, for
his home stood in this most English swat of land near
Henley-on-Thames. Thus England became a love of my
youth, England of pubs serving Brakespear Old
Fashioned ale, of neat green squares of Kensington
where I lived, of milk bottles on doorstep, of the
punchy smell of bacon-and-eggs and burned toast in the
morning, of the pleasant feel of the Guardian pages,
of the calm bonhomie of English people, of your lovely
maidens who are able to propose and prepare a nice cup
of tea in the least suitable moment, of your men with
their fair play, the green sweet and somewhat
parochial England of Blake, Hopkins, Waugh and G K
Chesterton, England as opposed to the Empire.

Much as I love England I came to dislike the Empire.
The Empire was a vile 19th century invention. The
Empire ruined Iraq and used poison gases against its
citizens long before the present Bush-and Blair
offensive. No land was too far or too near to be safe
from the Imperial assaults: from Shimonoseki in South
of Japan to Gondor in mountains of Ethiopia, from
Beijing to Archangelsk, from the fishermen’ city of
Oriente in Brittany to Baghdad, from Dublin to
Kandagar, from Dresden in Saxony to Akka in Palestine,
the Empire bombed them all. And I do not speak of some
long gone days of Queen Anne, but of last hundred
fifty years since the fateful accent of your first
Zionist ruler, Lord Beaconsfield.

In our country, in Palestine, much of present sorrows
are result of the Imperial intervention. The first
Intifada, the great Arab revolt of 1936-1939, caused
by the creeping Zionist takeover, was crushed by the
Imperial forces with great severity. Thousands of
native Palestinians were killed, executed, hanged,
expelled from their land. The Arab defeat, al-Nakba of
1948 can’t be understood without the context of the
previous Imperial war against the Palestinians. The
Zionist armies administered the coup-de-grace to the
disarmed, bleeding, powerless rural population whose
elite and best fighters were eliminated by the Empire.

Oh, you say, why should we remember it now? We can’t
let bygones be bygones for the Empire is not a thing
of past. Like a monstrous parasite it migrated after
sucking the juice of the Brits. Its capital was
relocated to Washington and New York, while England
remained a subservient part of Empire, a Greece to the
New Rome, or rather a Tyre to the new Carthage. Not
only your RAF assists the Americans, but your BBC,
once a paragon of objectivity, became a propaganda
tool for the New Empire.

I did not come to condemn you but to offer my
condolences, for England is one of the Imperial
victims. I came first time to your land some thirty
years ago, and since then the Empire eats you up as
much as it eats everybody else. London became a
faceless cosmopolitan city, your cinema is destroyed,
your streets are taken by international chains of
shops, your newspapers belong to Zionists, and there
is a danger the English will be turned into human dust
by the Imperial burden as the Romans and Macedonians
of old, to be followed by the Americans.

The Empire is not particularly good for people,
including the people of the mother country. Let us
consider Palestine. Thousands of young British men
died in order to conquer Palestine and give it to the
Jews. They committed many atrocities, killed a lot of
natives, and enforced Jewish supremacy in Palestine.
They received no gratitude. Elder people maybe
remember the subsequent Zionist terrorist attacks on
the British troops, the assassination of Lord Moyne,
maybe they remember the two British sergeants who were
kidnapped and hanged by the Jews, and their dead
bodies were defiled, booby-trapped by the killers.
Menachem Begin, our late Prime Minister, was
particularly proud of it. Younger people won’t even
know it, for your media, the mind and the nervous
system of the nation, is hijacked by Zionists like
Conrad Black and Murdock, and they won’t allow this
knowledge to be remembered.

But it is vital to remember, for the new empire
continues the ways of the old. Now in Iraq, the US and
its British dependency continue the same old fight for
ensuring Jewish supremacy in the Middle East, for
England – or even English business – has no need to be
in Baghdad and Basra. Indeed, in the Middle East we
have just one reason for wars, terror and trouble –
and that is Jewish supremacy drive. In our country,
Israel or Palestine, we can have peace today, if we
were to agree to equality of Jew and non-Jew. But this
principle, so carefully observed in Europe, is
anathema to the Jews in Israel. Like in England before
the reforms of 1832, your predecessors would not agree
to equality of a lord and a commoner before the law;
or in Rhodesia of Ian Smith, the white settlers did
not want to be equal with the blacks.

Well, so Jews do not want to be equal. But why should
you assist them in their pursuit of supremacy? There
is an American joke [of Jay Leno]: "If God doesn’t
destroy Hollywood Boulevard, he owes Sodom and
Gomorrah an apology." Indeed, if England keeps
supporting the apartheid Jewish state, it owes an
apology to Rhodesia and South Africa. Why, indeed, it
does? This is not a rhetoric question. Why the New
Empire went to war, committed itself to the vast
expenses and dangers, antagonised bigger part of the
world – and all that in the interests of Jewish

In my book – that is the one I came to promote – I try
to explain why the Jews have a special place in the
Imperial conscience. Superficially, one can explain it
by personalities, by the special position of the
Neo-cons in Washington and of the Jewish media-lords
in the US and elsewhere. Jews indeed own, control and
edit a big share of mass media, this mainstay of
Imperial thinking; just last month a Rothschild bought
the French daily Liberacion, and an Israeli citizen
bought a TV 4 channel in Sweden. This is a valid
observation, but not sufficient.

The New Empire, even more than the old one, is infused
with Judaic values on an ideological and theological
level. This is the thing I try to deal with, because
preoccupation with ethnic or religious origins of a
person is not only improper but often misleading.
Indeed, the strongest enemies of the Judaic values are
often people of Jewish origin. Allow me to mention St
Paul, Karl Marx and Simone Weil to make my point
clear. Another example can be provided by Sir Carl
Popper, a colleague of yours who referred to the
Judaic concept of chosen-ness as ‘vile’. He also
rejected an approach of a Jewish Year Book to have him
included, for he said, he does not believe in race and
has nothing to do with Jewish faith or values –
despite his Jewish origin. Do not concentrate on
ethnics, look for ideology. In your case, Michael
Howard is less Judaic than Tony Blair, for the first
objects to removal of British liberties and to
sweeping anti-Muslim legislation, while the second
brought this country into the Iraqi war for Israeli

While a Judaic tendency is just an ideological
tendency, a special feeling towards Jews is a symptom
of certain pro-Imperial predisposition. For instance,
Tony Blair is a great supporter of the Empire. But
even if we would not know that, we would be able to
guess: for he expressed unlimited support of the
Jewish state. The Jewish state is the country where a
Jew has more rights than a non-Jew. Three to four
million of our native residents have neither right of
vote nor citizenship rights for a single fault: they
are not Jews. Do not forget, Rhodesia was dismantled
for the equal sin of ethnic or racial supremacy.

This feeling that ‘Jews are special’ found now its
_expression in the story of Ken Livingstone and his
sin coming hard on the heels of Prince Harry and his
mishap. Actually, I have heard that at the next
costume ball, Prince Harry will be dressed as Ken
Livingstone. The Ken’s story is simple: the Mayor was
rude to a hack. Being a journalist, I sympathise with
the journalist; but being rude to is our professional
hazard. However, the insult was blown well over normal
proportions. If Ken would be equally insulting to a
member of Royal family, he will be forgiven if not
encouraged. But here – even the Students’ Union
decided to ban Ken.

Your anti-racist feelings do not come into it. Some
time ago I watched the Hard Talk with Tim Sebastian on
the BBC. Tim was grilling a Uganda Asian businessman
living in England. He told him: well, you Asians in
Uganda were heavily engaged in the black market
activities, smuggled hard currency abroad, despised
the natives and refused to marry them. Actually the
same accusations were traditionally levelled against
Jews. If Tim would just try to say it to a Jew he
would be kicked out of his job same day. But applied
to the Muslims – they did not cause a stir. It was
just a Hard Talk. So it is not ‘anti-racism’. In my
view, this unbelievable out-of-proportion response to
Ken’s affair shows again a mysterious connection of
Jews and the new Empire.

One reason is that Jews like an Empire. If there is a
choice between an England and an Empire, the Jews
prefer an Empire. Benjamin Ginsberg, the Professor of
Political Science at John Hopkins University, wrote a
book on this subject, called Jews and the State: The
Fatal Embrace and he attests to this Jewish love of
Empire. Any Empire: Franz Josef, the last Emperor of
Austro-Hungarian Empire, used to say that Jews are the
most loyal of his subjects. In your country, Disraeli
was equally proud of his Jewish ancestry and devoted
to the Empire-building.

A Jewish joke tells of two Jewish brothers in
revolutionary Odessa; one of them emigrated to England
and became a peer of the realm, another one remained
in Russia, suffered as much as anybody, and eventually
the Russian brother was invited by his British brother
to London. The brother arrived, received English
citizenship, had whale of time, went to Covent Garden,
maybe to the Palace, at night the brothers come home,
and the Russian brother began to cry. “Oh do not cry,
told him the English brother, you had your life, I had
mine, it could happen other way around.” “You did not
understand me, - says the Russian brother, - I weep
for India we have lost”.

This love of Empire explains the easiness Jews change
their allegiance – indeed, the same people who were
all for the Russian or French or British Empire now
became ardent supporters on the new American Empire.
Simple minds call it ‘treacherous behaviour’, but it
is actually love of Empire per se, and it does not
matter who is the titular head of this Empire: Jews
are good for an Empire, as long as they feel the
Empire is good for them.

Now, there is a large and thriving Muslim community in
England. In my view, Islam is a form of Christianity,
even nearer to the Nicene Creed than some Pentecostals
or other American denominations. What is more
important, they are now on the side of freedom,
against the Empire, and they are not afraid of
enforcers of Judaic values, Jewish or Gentile. This
community is very important in order to turn the tide.
Let us hope that its introduction will be important
for England’s future.

This is the right time to overcome left-right divide:
if Michael Howard stands on the right –for liberties -
and Blair stands on the left – and for anti-Muslim
legislation, for police control and for war, the terms
have little relevance today. There are friends and
enemies of the Empire in all your major political
parties, and equally all the parties are
Zionist-infiltrated. There is a need for new
realignment in order to unite anti-Imperial forces for
full withdrawal of British troops from overseas, for
independence of England from the American Empire.

In the Apple Cart by Bernard Shaw, the US makes a bid
to take over England, and a wise monarch keeps its
independence. Disentanglement of England from the US
embrace is much needed, an answer to the Boston Tea
Party is called for.

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