No beards (burqas) on the (Xinjiang) bus

…..prohibit those who wear veils, head scarves, jilbab, clothing with the crescent moon and star, long
beards from boarding buses
in the northwestern city of Karamay...Urumqi ban….cigarette lighters, yogurt and water,
in a bid to prevent violent attacks.

We are admittedly in favor of banning religion-inspired parties. After receiving feedback from liberty-conscious people we have reformed a bit (all lefty-s are secret Stalinists) and propose a more incremental (and hopefully, practical) approach.

We have in mind a directive principle (constitutionally desirable but not enforceable, just like the uniform civil code) that India being a federation of states, all political parties (as represented by their state units) must strive for cross-community representation both in primary membership as well as candidates for positions at all levels (gram-panchayat, municipality, state assembly).

A nationally recognized party (there are specific qualification rules in place) must (in addition to the above) work towards having a designated number of cross-community candidates for Lok/Rajya Sabha. Currently, the BJP does not have a single muslim MP in the Lok Sabha (there were a few muslim BJP candidates), and only a couple of MPs in the Rajya Sabha.

Thus in Bengal, where muslims are 40% of the population, the BJP has to ensure a certain minimum of party members and candidates which are muslims. Same goes for hindu representation in Muslim League (Kerala), AUDF (Asom), AMIM (Telengana), National Conference (Jammu and Kashmir) and Akali Dal (Punjab). If the minority numbers fall below some threshold in a state this principle may not apply.

The idea is to encourage broad based agenda for political parties and discourage polarization as a vote-winning approach. If we do not take this seriously then the social fabric will continue to be damaged over time. Food for thought.

There is another way ahead and the Chicoms have just indicated how they would like to tackle the “diversity problem.” We feel that such a heavy-handed approach is counter-productive, but it is certainly better than shooting/starving tens of thousands of people (like what is going on in Iraq right now). Not that the Chicoms are shy about killing, 59 people were gunned down in reaction to the recent uprising last week.

A city in China’s restive western region of Xinjiang has banned
people with head scarves, veils and long beards from boarding buses, as
the government battles unrest with a policy that critics said
discriminates against Muslims.


Xinjiang, home to the Muslim
Uighur people who speak a Turkic language, has been beset for years by
violence that the government blames on Islamist militants or

Authorities will prohibit five types of passengers —
those who wear veils, head scarves, a loose-fitting garment called a
jilbab, clothing with the crescent moon and star, and those with long
beards – from boarding buses in the northwestern city of Karamay, state
media said.

The crescent moon and star symbol of Islam features
on many national flags, besides being used by groups China says want to
set up an independent state called East Turkestan.

The rules were
intended to help strengthen security through August 20 during an
athletics event and would be enforced by security teams, the ruling
Communist Party-run Karamay Daily said on Monday. “Those who do not comply, especially those five types of passengers, will be reported to the police,” the paper said.

July, authorities in Xinjiang’s capital Urumqi banned bus passengers
from carrying items ranging from cigarette lighters to yogurt and water,
in a bid to prevent violent attacks.

Exiled Uighur groups and
human rights activists say the government’s repressive policies in
Xinjiang, including controls on Islam, have provoked unrest, a claim
Beijing denies.

“Officials in Karamay city are endorsing an
openly racist and discriminatory policy aimed at ordinary Uighur
people,” Alim Seytoff, the president of the Washington-based Uyghur
American Association, said in an emailed statement.

While many
Uighur women dress in much the same casual style as those elsewhere in
China, some have begun to wear the full veil, a garment more common in
Pakistan or Afghanistan than in Xinjiang.

Police have offered money for tips on everything from “violent terrorism training” to individuals who grow long beards.

have died in unrest in Xinjiang in the past 18 months, but tight
security makes it almost impossible for journalists to make independent
assessments of the violence.

About 100 people were killed when
knife-wielding attackers staged assaults in two towns in the region’s
south in late July, state media said, including 59 “terrorists” shot
dead by police.


Chinese police gunned down 59 people and
arrested 215 during a violent uprising last week in the Xinjiang region,
the government said Sunday, in a statement that shed fresh light on
what dissident groups had earlier described as a major clash in the

In coordinated predawn actions on
July 28, unnamed assailants attacked civilians, state buildings and
vehicles in two Xinjiang towns, including Elixhu, according to police
descriptions reported by the government-run Xinhua news agency.

The agency said 37 civilians were among the
96 people who were killed during the attack. Sunday’s statement called
the assailants terrorists and said the attack had foreign support.

new figures, which emerged from a high-level meeting of the Communist
Party over the weekend in Xinjiang, according to Xinhua, illustrate the
seriousness of continued violence in China’s largely Muslim province of
Xinjiang. The area abuts Central Asia and has seen minor clashes
reported weekly.

The Xinhua report said
assailants displayed banners declaring a “holy war” and were coordinated
by a banned group called East Turkestan Islamic Movement that China’s
government says aims to make Xinjiang independent. Sunday’s report said
civilians were stopped at roadblocks and slashed with knives if they
refused to join the rally.

mastermind of the attack was Nuramat Sawut, the report said. Xinhua
described him as the local leader of the movement and responsible in the
past year for spreading audio and video calls for separatism and
religious extremism. Mr. Sawut wasn’t reachable and Xinhua’s report
didn’t say whether he specifically participated in the attacks.

report didn’t say where overseas the group had obtained assistance,
though in the past China’s government has cited training of separatists
by religious extremists in Pakistan.

Ethnic tensions between Han Chinese migrants
and Xinjiang’s Turkic-speaking, mostly Muslim Uighur ethnic group have
remained high for years, with religious, political and economic

But as violence has at times
spilled outside Xinjiang and appeared to target civilians, China’s
government in May launched a one-year crackdown on terrorism and has
since reported numerous raids, arrests and clashes, often involving

Uighurs complain that Han
Chinese control the government and economy, crimp religious activity and
are too aggressive with policing. China’s government cites its
financial investments in the region.and says only a small majority of
Xinjiang’s people are responsible for the troubles.

last week’s clash, near the city of Yarkand, took place a day before
the mostly Muslim area was set to celebrate the end of Ramadan.

with knives rampaged through town slashing people and smashing symbols
of government power, state media said. In its initial reporting on the
attack, Xinhua had said dozens of civilians were killed while at least
36 cars were smashed or set on fire. The initial report also called it
“an organized, premeditated and carefully planned terrorist attack of
vile nature and tremendous violence.”

Later in the week, assailants, identified by Chinese authorities as Uighurs, knifed to death the government-appointed imam of Id Kah Mosque in the nearby city of Kashgar. On Friday, police in Xinjiang had shot dead nine suspected terrorists and captured another in Xinjiang’s Hotan prefecture.

Link(1): http://china-bans-beards-veils-from-xinjiang-citys-buses

Link(2): http://china-says-violent-xinjiang-uprising-leaves-almost-100-dead




The story of Karim

….Karim’s father refused to go along…“Let them
kill me in my town, but I will never leave it.” Fortunately, the
father’s paralyzed cousin, pleaded with him, and at the last minute the two old men joined the
exodus….Thousands of other Yazidi families had to flee on foot into the
mountains: “They couldn’t leave. They didn’t know how to leave. They
waited too long to leave,” Karim said….

For the Yazidis in Iraq, things are right now in extremis.

Similar brutalities happened during Partition (I) in South Asia (first Bengal and then Punjab), indeed some of our own family members were affected. There
is a hill-top temple near Chittagong (also called Chattagram or Chatga
in short, now Bangladesh). During Siva-ratri night (February), thousands
of pilgrims were visiting. The extremists closed off the hill and
massacred everyone within. Almost everyone. Our grand-uncle survived by
being buried under corpses. He was a very talented young man and never
quite recovered for the rest of his life.
Stranded on a barren mountaintop, thousands of minority Iraqis are
faced with a bleak choice: descend and risk slaughter at the hands of
the encircled Sunni extremists or sit tight and risk dying of thirst.


Humanitarian agencies said Tuesday that between 10,000 and 40,000 civilians remain trapped on Mount Sinjar since being driven out
of surrounding villages and the town of Sinjar two days earlier. But
the mountain that had looked like a refuge is becoming a graveyard for
their children.

Unable to dig deep into the rocky mountainside,
displaced families said they have buried young and elderly victims of
the harsh conditions in shallow graves, their bodies covered with
stones. Iraqi government planes attempted to airdrop bottled water to
the mountain on Monday night but reached few of those marooned.

are children dying on the mountain, on the roads,” said Marzio Babille,
the Iraq representative for the United Nations Children’s Fund
(UNICEF). “There is no water, there is no vegetation, they are
completely cut off and surrounded by Islamic State. It’s a disaster, a
total disaster.”

Most of those who fled Sinjar are from the
minority Yazidi sect, which melds parts of ancient Zoroastrianism with
Christianity and Islam. They are considered by the al-Qaeda-inspired
Islamic State to be devil worshippers and apostates.

A humanitarian crisis that could turn into a genocide is taking place
right now in the mountains of northwestern Iraq. It hasn’t made the
front page, because the place and the people are obscure, and there’s a
lot of other horrible news to compete with. I’ve learned about it mainly
because the crisis has upended the life of someone I wrote about in the magazine several weeks ago.

Last Sunday, Karim woke up around 7:30 A.M.,
after coming home late the night before. He was about to have breakfast
when his phone rang—a friend was calling to see how he was doing. Karim
is a Yazidi, a member of an ancient religious minority in Iraq.
Ethnically, he’s Kurdish. An engineer and a father of three young
children, Karim spent years working for the U.S. Army in his area, then
for an American medical charity. He’s been waiting for months to find
out whether the U.S. government will grant him a Special Immigrant Visa
because of his service, and because of the danger he currently faces.

is from a small town north of the district center, Sinjar, between
Mosul and the Syrian border. Sinjar is a historic Yazidi area with an
Arab minority. Depending on who’s drawing the map, Sinjar belongs to
either the northernmost part of Iraq or the westernmost part of
Kurdistan. Since June, when extremist fighters from the Islamic State in
Iraq and al-Sham captured Mosul, they’ve been on the outskirts of
Sinjar, facing off against a small number of Kurdish peshmerga
militiamen. ISIS regards Yazidis as devil worshippers,
and its fighters have been executing Yazidi men who won’t convert to
Islam on the spot, taking away the women as jihadi brides. So there were
many reasons why a friend might worry about Karim.

“I don’t know,” Karim said. “My situation is O.K.” “No, it’s not O.K.!” his friend said. “Sinjar is under the control of ISIS.”

Karim had not yet heard this calamitous news. “I’ll call some friends and get back to you,” he said.

the cell network was jammed, so Karim walked to his father’s house. His
father told him that thousands of people from Sinjar were headed their
way, fleeing north through the mountains to get out of Iraq and into
Kurdistan. It suddenly became clear that Karim would have to abandon his
home and escape with his family.

ISIS had
launched its attack on Sinjar during the night. Peshmerga militiamen
were outgunned—their assault rifles against the extremists’ captured
fifty-caliber guns, rocket-propelled grenades, mortars, anti-aircraft
weapons, and armored vehicles. The Kurds began to run out of ammunition,
and those who could retreated north toward Kurdistan. By dawn, the
extremists were pouring into town. Later, ISIS posted triumphant photos on Twitter: bullet-riddled corpses of peshmerga in the streets and dirt fields; an ISIS
fighter aiming his pistol at the heads of five men lying face down on
the ground; Arab locals who stayed in Sinjar jubilantly greeting the new

Karim had time to do just one thing: burn all the
documents that connected him to America—photos of him posing with Army
officers, a CD from the medical charity—in case he was stopped on the
road by militants or his house was searched. He watched the record of
his experience during the period of the Americans in Iraq turn to ash,
and felt nothing except the urge to get to safety.

By 9:30 A.M.,
Karim and his extended family were crowded into his brother’s car and
his father’s pickup truck. They’d had no time to pack, and for the drive
through the heat of the desert they took nothing but water, bread,
canned milk for Karim’s two-year-old son, and their AK-47s. At first,
Karim’s father refused to go along. A stubborn man, he said, “Let them
kill me in my town, but I will never leave it.” Fortunately, the
father’s paralyzed cousin, who had been left behind by his family,
pleaded with him, and at the last minute the two old men joined the
exodus. Karim’s twenty or so family members were the last to get out of
the area by car, and they joined a massive traffic jam headed northwest.
Thousands of other Yazidi families had to flee on foot into the
mountains: “They couldn’t leave. They didn’t know how to leave. They
waited too long to leave,” Karim said.

Karim drove in a convoy of
two hundred and fifty or three hundred cars. They stuck together for
safety. The group decided against taking the most direct route to
Kurdistan, which would have taken them through the Arab border town of
Rabiya. ISIS wasn’t the only danger—Yazidi Kurds have
come to regard Sunni Arabs generally as a threat. So they drove across
the border at an unmarked point into Syria, where Kurdish rebels—who
form one side in the complex Syrian civil war—were in control of the

The rebels waved the convoy on, while Syrian Arab villagers stared
or took videos with their mobile phones. A relative of Karim’s happened
to be a cigarette smuggler and knew the way across the desert once the
roads disappeared. (“Everyone and everything has his day,” Karim told
me.) The undercarriage of Karim’s car began to break off in pieces. They
drove for hours through Syria, crossed back into Iraq, and shortly
afterward reached a checkpoint into Kurdistan, where the line of cars
was so long that they had to wait for hours more. It wasn’t until
nightfall, nearly twelve hours after they had fled their home, that
Karim and his family reached the Kurdish town of Dohuk, where he
happened to have a brother who gave them shelter in his small apartment.

with other people here, I’m in heaven,” Karim said by phone from Dohuk.
“Some are in camps for refugees. It’s very hot and very hard. We are
safe, but thousands of families are in the mountains. Thousands.”

Karim heard that one young man had been executed by ISIS
for no reason other than being Yazidi. A friend of Karim’s was hiding
in the mountains, running low on supplies, and out of battery power in
his phone. Another friend, an Arab (“He is not a religion guy, he’s
open-minded, it doesn’t matter if you’re Christian or Yazidi,” Karim
said), had stayed in Sinjar and was trapped in his home. Now ISIS
was going house to house, with information provided by locals, looking
for Iraqi soldiers and police, for people with money, for Kurds. They
had already taken away the friend’s brother, a police officer. No one
knows for sure how many people ISIS has killed since the attack on Sinjar. Karim heard that it is many hundreds.

Prince Tahseen Said, “the world leader of the Yazidis,” has issued an appeal
to Kurdish, Iraqi, Arab, and European leaders, as well as to Ban
Ki-moon and Barack Obama. It reads: “I ask for aid and to lend a hand
and help the people of Sinjar areas and its affiliates and villages and
complexes which are home to the people of the Yazidi religion. I invite
[you] to assume [your] humanitarian and nationalistic responsibilities
towards them and help them in their plight and the difficult conditions
in which they live today.”

It’s hard to know what, if anything,
is left of the humanitarian responsibilities of the international
community. The age of intervention is over, killed in large part by the
Iraq war. But justifiable skepticism about the use of military force
seems also to have killed off the impulse to show solidarity with the
helpless victims of atrocities in faraway places. 

There’s barely any
public awareness of the unfolding disaster in northwestern Iraq, let
alone a campaign of international support for the Yazidis—or for the
Christians who have been driven out of Mosul or the Sunni Arabs who
don’t want to live under the tyranny of ISIS. The
front-page news continues to be the war in Gaza, a particular Western
obsession whether one’s views are pro-Israel, pro-Palestinian,
pro-peace, or pro-plague-on-both-houses. Nothing that either side has
done in that terrible conflict comes close to the routine brutality of ISIS.

couldn’t help expressing bitterness about this. “I don’t see any
attention from the rest of the world,” he said. “In one day, they killed
more than two thousand Yazidi in Sinjar, and the whole world says,
‘Save Gaza, save Gaza.’ ”

It was encouraging to learn that humanitarian supplies might be on the way, but we always seem to be at least a step behind as ISIS rolls over local forces and consolidates power. ISIS
is not Al Qaeda. It operates like an army, taking territory, creating a
state. The aim of the Sinjar operation seems to be control of the Mosul
Dam, the largest dam in Iraq, which provides electricity to Mosul,
Baghdad, and much of the country. 

According to one expert, if ISIS
takes the dam, which is located on the Tigris River, it would have the
means to put Mosul under thirty metres of water, and Baghdad under five.
Other nearby targets could include the Kurdish cities of Erbil and
Dohuk. Karim reported that residents of Dohuk, inundated with refugees,
felt not just a sense of responsibility for Sinjar but also alarm, and
that they were stocking up on supplies in case of an attack.

One way to protect the innocent and hurt those who are terrorizing them would be for the U.S. to launch air strikes on ISIS
positions. That option has been discussed within the administration
since the fall of Mosul, in June, but it runs against President Obama’s
foreign-policy tendencies. “The President’s first instinct is, ‘Let’s
help them to do it,’ ” the official told me. “The minute we do
something, it changes the game.” 

This time, unlike in Syria, it isn’t
hard to figure out how to “help them to do it”: send arms to the Kurds,
America’s only secular-minded, pluralistic Muslim allies in the region,
and the only force in the area with the means and the will to protect
thousands of lives. (Dexter Filkins wrote, on Monday, about the possibility of American military aid to the Kurds.)
Perhaps the U.S., Europe, and the U.N. can’t or won’t prevent genocide
in northwestern Iraq, but the Kurds can. The fact that the peshmerga
were outgunned by ISIS and ran out of ammunition in Sinjar says that we are a step behind on this front, too. According to the Times,
Washington has turned down Kurdish requests for American weapons for
fear of alienating and undermining Iraq’s central government in Baghdad.

The official said that peshmerga forces are organizing
to retake Sinjar. Karim heard the same thing in Dohuk, and he said that
he wants to be in the first group that returns to his hometown.
Meanwhile, he’s volunteering with the American medical charity he used
to work for, helping other refugees in Dohuk. He told his children that
they’re on an extended vacation in Kurdistan.


Link (1): http://iraqi-yazidis-stranded-on-isolated-mountaintop-begin-to-die-of-thirst/

Link (2):




“Jews, your end is near”

…synagogues attacked….in the Paris suburb of Sarcelles, firebombed by a
400-strong mob….the crowd’s chants included “Slit Jews’ throats”…..Germany, molotov cocktails were lobbed into the Bergische synagogue
in Wuppertal – previously destroyed on Kristallnacht…….notable slogans included: “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas”…..

Pakistanis in the UK and others (in our opinion) need to exercise a bit more care as to how to put on display their (genuine) grievances. One suggestion is to make the protests more inclusive, to demonstrate that Muslims in Europe are capable of feeling empathy toward the Christians of Iraq (for example). And yes, please do stuff the Hitler/Nazi love – from what we know of him and his Aryan values – he would not have hesitated to stuff Muslims (and Hindus and other unter-mensch) in gas chambers.
Destroying Jewish property in Paris, displaying ISIS flags in London, chanting “Death to Jews” in Berlin will not
make things better in Gaza, but will tear apart the social fabric in


Right now there is a powerful Muslim-Left coalition in Europe aligned against Israel. Western societies are facing tremendous stress, impacted not only by the Gaza war but also other events unfolding in the Middle East and North Africa, whereby some people/sects are doing incalculable harm to other people/sects.

It is alarming to see anti-semitism has been spreading thick and fast making a come-back across Europe, even amongst the middle class, and even in Germany (see below).

If things become truly insufferable for Jews, they can migrate to Israel (indeed large numbers are doing so), or the USA. However the same option is not available to Euro-Muslims. Remember, if the hell-fires break out, it will not make any distinction between Jews and Muslims.
A black flag with white Arabic writing, similar to those flown by jihadist groups, was flying at the entrance of an east London housing state near Canary Wharf.
a highly provocative gesture, the emblem was planted on top of the
gates of the Will Crooks estate on Poplar High Street, and is surrounded
by flags of Palestine and slogans.

The flag bears similar writing to the jihadi flags that have been
flown by the extremist group in Iraq and other jihadi groups since the
1990s. When the estate was approached last night, a group of about 20
Asian youths swore at Guardian journalists and told them to leave the
area immediately. One youth threatened to smash a camera.

When a
passerby tried to take a picture of the flag on a phone, one of the gang
asked him if he was Jewish. The passerby replied: “Would it make a
difference?” The youth said: “Yes, it fucking would.” Asked if the flag
was an ISIS flag, one local man said: “It is just the flag of Allah.” But another man asked: “So what if it is?”

local man said that the flag has been there for several days. “People
were taking photos of it last night,” he said. A Metropolitan police
spokesman said on Thursday that they had received no complaints about
offensive flags in the Tower Hamlets area. The Dutch government has
banned the public display of the Isis flag, but it is not illegal in the

In the space of just one week last month, according to Crif, the
umbrella group for France’s Jewish organisations, eight synagogues were
attacked. One, in the Paris suburb of Sarcelles, was firebombed by a
400-strong mob. A kosher supermarket and pharmacy were smashed and
looted; the crowd’s chants and banners included “Death to Jews” and
“Slit Jews’ throats”. That same weekend, in the Barbes neighbourhood of
the capital, stone-throwing protesters burned Israeli flags: “Israhell”,
read one banner.

In Germany
last month, molotov cocktails were lobbed into the Bergische synagogue
in Wuppertal – previously destroyed on Kristallnacht – and a Berlin
imam, Abu Bilal Ismail, called on Allah to “destroy the Zionist Jews …
Count them and kill them, to the very last one.” Bottles were thrown
through the window of an antisemitism campaigner in Frankfurt; an
elderly Jewish man was beaten up at a pro-Israel
rally in Hamburg; an Orthodox Jewish teenager punched in the face in
Berlin. In several cities, chants at pro-Palestinian protests compared
Israel’s actions to the Holocaust; other notable slogans included: “Jew,
coward pig, come out and fight alone,” and “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas.”

Across Europe,
the conflict in Gaza is breathing new life into some very old, and very
ugly, demons. This is not unusual; police and Jewish civil rights
organisations have long observed a noticeable spike in antisemitic
incidents each time the Israeli-Palestinian conflict flares. During the
three weeks of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in late 2008 and early 2009,
France recorded 66 antisemitic incidents, including attacks on 

Jewish-owned restaurants and synagogues and a sharp increase in
anti-Jewish graffiti.But according to academics and Jewish leaders, this
time it is different. More than simply a reaction to the conflict, they
say, the threats, hate speech and violent attacks feel like the
expression of a much deeper and more widespread antisemitism, fuelled by
a wide range of factors, that has been growing now for more than a

“These are the worst times since the Nazi era,” Dieter
Graumann, president of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, told the
Guardian. “On the streets, you hear things like ‘the Jews should be
gassed’, ‘the Jews should be burned’ – we haven’t had that in Germany
for decades. Anyone saying those slogans isn’t criticising Israeli
politics, it’s just pure hatred against Jews: nothing else. And it’s not
just a German phenomenon. It’s an outbreak of hatred against Jews so
intense that it’s very clear indeed.”

Roger Cukierman, president
of France’s Crif, said French Jews were “anguished” about an anti-Jewish
backlash that goes far beyond even strongly felt political and
humanitarian opposition to the current fighting: 

“They are not screaming
‘Death to the Israelis’ on the streets of Paris,” Cukierman said last
month. “They are screaming ‘Death to Jews’.” Crif’s vice-president
Yonathan Arfi said he “utterly rejected” the view that the latest
increase in antisemitic incidents was down to events in Gaza. “They have
laid bare something far more profound,” he said.

Nor is it just
Europe’s Jewish leaders who are alarmed. Germany’s chancellor, Angela
Merkel, has called the recent incidents “an attack on freedom and
tolerance and our democratic state”. The French prime minister, Manuel
Valls, has spoken of “intolerable” and clearly antisemitic acts: “To
attack a Jew because he is a Jew is to attack France. To attack a
synagogue and a kosher grocery store is quite simply antisemitism and

France, whose 500,000-strong Jewish community is one of Europe’s
largest, and Germany, where the post-war exhortation of “Never Again” is
part of the fabric of modern society, are not alone. In Austria last
month, a pre-season friendly between Maccabi Haifa and German Bundesliga
team SC Paderborn had to be rescheduled after the Israeli side’s
previous match was called off following an attempted assault on its

The Netherlands’
main antisemitism watchdog, Cidi, had more than 70 calls from alarmed
Jewish citizens in one week last month; the average is normally three to
five. An Amsterdam rabbi, Binjamin Jacobs, had his front door stoned,
and two Jewish women were attacked – one beaten, the other the victim of
arson – after they hung Israeli flags from their balconies. In Belgium,
a woman was reportedly turned away from a shop with the words: “We
don’t currently sell to Jews.”

In Italy,
the Jewish owners of dozens of shops and other businesses in Rome
arrived to find swastikas and anti-Jewish slogans daubed on shutters and
windows. One slogan read: “Every Palestinian is like a comrade. Same
enemy. Same barricade”; another: “Jews, your end is near.” Abd al-Barr
al-Rawdhi, an imam from the north eastern town of San Donà di Piave, is
to be deported after being video-recorded giving a sermon calling for
the extermination of the Jews.

There has been no violence in Spain,
but the country’s small Jewish population of 35,000-40,000 fears the
situation is so tense that “if it continues for too long, bad things
will happen,” the leader of Madrid’s Jewish community, David Hatchwell,

The community is planning action against El Mundo after the daily
paper published a column by 83-year-old playwright Antonio Gala
questioning Jews’ ability to live peacefully with others: “It’s not
strange they have been so frequently expelled.”

Studies suggest
antisemitism may indeed be mounting. A 2012 survey by the EU’s by the
Fundamental Rights agency of some 6,000 Jews in eight European countries
– between them, home to 90% of Europe’s Jewish population – found 66%
of respondents felt antisemitism in Europe was on the rise; 76% said
antisemitism had increased in their country over the past five years. In
the 12 months after the survey, nearly half said they worried about
being verbally insulted or attacked in public because they were Jewish.

organisations that record antisemitic incidents say the trend is
inexorable: France’s Society for the Protection of the Jewish Community
says annual totals of antisemitic acts in the 2000s are seven times
higher than in the 1990s. French Jews are leaving for Israel in greater
numbers, too, for reasons they say include antisemitism and the
electoral success of the hard-right Front National. 

The Jewish Agency
for Israel said 1,407 French Jews left for Israel in 2013, a 72% rise on
the previous year. Between January and May this year, 2,250 left,
against 580 in the same period last year.

In a study completed in
February, America’s Anti-Defamation League surveyed 332,000 Europeans
using an index of 11 questions designed to reveal strength of
anti-Jewish stereotypes. It found that 24% of Europeans – 37% in France,
27% in Germany, 20% in Italy – harboured some kind of anti-Jewish

So what is driving the phenomenon? Valls, the French
prime minister, has acknowledged a “new”, “normalised” antisemitism that
he says blends “the Palestinian cause, jihadism, the devastation of
Israel, and hatred of France and its values”.

Mark Gardner of the
Community Security Trust, a London-based charity that monitors
antisemitism both in Britain and on the continent, also identifies a
range of factors. Successive conflicts in the Middle East he said, have
served up “a crush of trigger events” that has prevented tempers from
cooling: the second intifada in 2000, the Israel-Lebanon war of 2006,
and the three Israel–Hamas conflicts in 2009, 2012 and 2014 have “left
no time for the situation to return to normal.” In such a climate, he
added, three brutal antisemitic murders in the past eight years – two in
France, one in Belgium, and none coinciding with Israeli military
action – have served “not to shock, but to encourage the antisemites”,
leaving them “seeking more blood and intimidation, not less”.

In 2006, 23-year old Ilan Halimi was kidnapped, tortured and left for
dead in Paris by a group calling itself the Barbarians Gang, who
subsequently admitted targeting him “because he was a Jew, so his family
would have money”. Two years ago, in May 2012, Toulouse gunman Mohamed
Merah shot dead seven people, including three children and a young rabbi
outside their Jewish school. And in May this year Mehdi Nemmouche, a
Frenchman of Algerian descent thought to have recently returned to
France after a year in Syria fighting with radical Islamists, was
charged with shooting four people at the Jewish museum in Brussels.

the French establishment has harboured a deep vein of anti-Jewish
sentiment since long before the Dreyfus affair, the influence of radical
Islam, many Jewish community leaders say, is plainly a significant
contributing factor in the country’s present-day antisemitism. But so
too, said Gardner, is a straightforward alienation that many young
Muslims feel from society. “Often it’s more to do with that than with
Israel. Many would as soon burn down a police station as a synagogue.
Jews are simply identified as part of the establishment.”

While he
stressed it would be wrong to lay all the blame at the feet of Muslims,
Peter Ulrich, a research fellow at the centre for antisemitism research
(ZfA) at Berlin’s Technical University, agreed that some of the
“antisemitic elements” Germany has seen at recent protests could be “a
kind of rebellion of people who are themselves excluded on the basis of
racist structures.”

Arfi said that in France antisemitism had
become “a portmanteau for a lot of angry people: radical Muslims,
alienated youths from immigrant families, the far right, the far left”.
But he also blamed “a process of normalisation, whereby antisemitism is
being made somehow acceptable”. One culprit, Arfi said, is the
controversial comedian Dieudonné: “He has legitimised it. He’s made
acceptable what was unacceptable.”

A similar normalisation may be
under way in Germany, according to a 2013 study by the Technical
University of Berlin. In 14,000 hate-mail letters, emails and faxes sent
over 10 years to the Israeli embassy in Berlin and the Central Council
of Jews in Germany, Professor Monika Schwarz-Friesel found that 60% were
written by educated, middle-class Germans, including professors,
lawyers, priests and university and secondary school students. Most,
too, were unafraid to give their names and addresses – something she
felt few Germans would have done 20 or 30 years ago.

Almost every
observer pointed to the unparalleled power of unfiltered social media to
inflame and to mobilise. A stream of shocking images and Twitter
hashtags, including #HitlerWasRight, amount, Arfi said, almost to
indoctrination. “The logical conclusion, in fact, is radicalisation: on
social media people self-select what they see, and what they see can be
pure, unchecked propaganda. They may never be confronted with opinions
that are not their own.”


Link (1):

Link (2):


Hinduism is a “banyan tree”

…..The essence of
Hinduism is that it has no essence……What defines Hinduism and sets it apart
from other major religions is its polycentricity, its admission of multiple
centers of belief and practice, with a consequent absence of any single
structure of theological or liturgical power….Hinduism is
a banyan tree, in the shade of whose canopy, supported by not one but many
trunks, a great diversity of thought and action is sustained….

A wart-free, sanitized version, but nevertheless (in our opinion) a good first primer…

Most Hindus would be hard-pressed to define Hinduism (we say this as a non-believer but with deepest sincerity). Having said that it is our observation that Hinduism is evolving fast and becoming a very different entity than what it was even a few decades ago. In our opinion (and in our little corner of the world) this is just as important as the transformation of Islam into a more austere, back to the roots version (which is also very different from what it was a few decades ago).

Take the example of caste. We are admittedly a bit too fond of the – ”Syrian Christians are Brahmins” – gag (thus, Arundhati Roy is a Brahmin from her mother’s side).  Even though people have called us haters for saying this but still…we have met a fair, few SyCh-s and they have (even in short conversations) always managed to bring up this “fact.” In a country where lot of people (majority) equate folk-lore with history, such a deeply held belief probably should be accepted as fact.

In our (non-scholarly) opinion, caste is but a tribe, we have a million castes and a zillion tribes in modern India. We would even go so far as to argue that the Kayasthas of Uttar Pradesh (Saxena, Srivastava, Mathur, Bhatnagar, Gaur, Asthana, Nigam, Kulshrestha,…) are a different tribe than the Kayasthas from Bengal (Ghosh, Basu, Mitra, Dutta,…), even though folk-lore states that Kayasthas (and other super-castes) were “imported” from UP to Bengal any centuries ago.
What is the relationship between Hinduism and caste? Without delving too deep into the question (we do not have the knowledge base to do so) we ask another related question. Which came first: association as Hindus or dissociation as castes? If caste=tribe assumption is correct, then it may well be that society was divided into castes before developing a common set of rituals that we now recognize to be as part of Hinduism. The philosophical foundations of caste were possibly added post-hoc by Hindu scholars.

What is the significance of Gotra? It is possible of people from different castes to have the same gotra (and vice versa). To us, this seems like a contradiction in terms, unless it is also recognized that caste is not defined (and was not originally) defined rigidly.

The march towards a common Canon-feasible? The left-liberals assure us that such a thing is inconceivable. However (again as an outsider) it seems that this is exactly what the Hindutva project is all about. To the extent this process is influenced by the Arya Samaj, Hinduism should be ready to abolish idolatry, caste and ancestral worship (starting with cremation rituals). The Hindu religion (official version) will look a bit like Islam!!! But unofficially, we doubt that Hindus will ever be able to get rid of idolatry- it is actually the one big differentiator.

Is it possible to abolish caste? We are seeing this in both ways. The opinion makers- the middle class (derived from all castes and from other religions) – have become more protective about caste identity. At the same time urban lifestyle (and western values that are creeping upon us all the time) is anti-caste. Remove the iron rod of religion and no guardian can stop a Hindu boy falling in love with a Muslim girl (to take the most extreme case of societal bridge building).

Eventually we are hopeful that caste will become ceremonial in nature: yes, we like to know where you came from. But that is not your only identity or even the primary identity. You are a human being, first and foremost. Make this society (and country and world) a better place to live (preferably through non-violent means), or step out of the way. This will only happen when the Dalits get their fair share (starting with a Dalit Prime Minister).

The USA has managed to elect a black man (twice) as top dog (if one chooses to be picky about ancestry, having a Kenyan papa is not the same as having a black-american dad). In India, a Maha-Dalit (the lowest in the caste ladder) became the Chief Minister of Bihar (after Nitish Kumar was crushed by the Tsunamo and stepped aside).

The USA is also getting prepared to elect a Madame President in 2016. If Mayawati manages to secure the top spot she would do so as the first unmarried, Dalit woman, who was also mentored by a Dalit (Kanshi Ram, no relation). That would be a truly defining moment for modern India.  

Religion will probably stay with us (unfortunately). It helps define the “other” as much as it defines ourselves. Canon or no canon, Hinduism will be defined as the un-Islam, Sikhism as un-Islam and un-Hindu, and so on….

Gary Gutting: How might looking at Hinduism
alter philosophical approaches to religion that take Christianity as their
primary example?

Jonardon Ganeri: Taking
Christianity as the exemplar of religion skews philosophical discussion towards
attempts to solve, resolve or dissolve difficult philosophical puzzles inherent
in monotheism: problems about God’s powers, goodness and knowledge; attempts to
provide rational arguments for God’s existence; the problem of evil; and so on.
Hindu philosophers have traditionally been far more interested in a quite
different array of problems, especially questions about the nature of religious
knowledge and religious language, initially arising from their concerns with
the Veda as a sacred eternal text and as a source of ritual and moral law.

G.G.: Does this mean that
Hinduism is a religion without God?

J.G.: Many Hindus believe in God, but not
all in the same God: For some it is Vishnu, for others Shiva, for others again
it is rather the Goddess. Some of the more important Hindu philosophers are
atheists, arguing that no sacred religious text such as the Veda could be the
word of God, since authorship, even divine authorship, implies the logical
possibility of error. Whether believed in or not, a personal God does not
figure prominently as the source of the idea of the divine, and instead
non-theistic concepts of the divine prevail.

G.G.: What do you mean by
“non-theistic” concepts of the divine?

J.G.: One such concept
sees the text of the Veda as itself divine. Its language, on this view, has a
structure that is prior to and isomorphic with the structure of the world and
its grammar is complete (although parts may have been lost over the centuries).
The divinity of the text inverts the order of priority between text and author:
Now, at best, assignment of authorship is a cataloging device not the
identification of origin. Recitation of the text is itself a religious act.

Another Hindu conception of the divine is that it is
the essential reality in comparison to which all else is only concealing
appearance. This is the concept one finds in the Upanishads. Philosophically
the most important claim the Upanishads make is that the essence of each person
is also the essence of all things’; the human self and brahman (the
essential reality) are the same.

This identity claim leads to a
third conception of the divine: that inwardness or interiority or subjectivity
is itself a kind of divinity. On this view, religious practice is
contemplative, taking time to turn one’s gaze inwards to find one’s real self;
but — and this point is often missed — there is something strongly
anti-individualistic in this practice of inwardness, since the deep self one
discovers is the same self for all.

G.G.: Could you say
something about the Hindu view of life after death? In particular, are Hindu
philosophers able to make sense of the notion of reincarnation?

J.G.: Every religion has
something to say about death and the afterlife, and hence engages with
philosophical questions about the metaphysics of the self. While Christian
philosophy of self tends to be limited to a single conception of self as
immortal soul, Hindu philosophers have experimented with an astonishing range
of accounts of self, some of which are at the cutting edge in contemporary
philosophy of mind.

G.G.: Could you give an

J.G.: The self as an
immaterial, immortal soul is consistent with the Hindu idea of survival through
reincarnation. But some Hindu philosophers have concluded that mind and the
mental must be embodied. If so, reincarnation requires that mental states must
be able to be “multiply realized” in different physical states. …
This led to the
idea, much later popular among analytic philosophers of mind, that the mental
is a set of functions that operate through the body. Such an approach supports
the idea that there is a place for the self within nature, that a self — even
one that exists over time in different bodies — need be not a supernatural

G.G.: What sort of ethical guidance does
Hinduism provide?

J.G.: One of the most important
texts in the religious life of many Hindus is the Bhagavadgita, the Song of the
Lord. The Gita is deeply philosophical, addressing in poetic, inspirational
language a fundamental conundrum of human existence: What to do when one is
pulled in different directions by different sorts of obligation, how to make
hard choices. The hard choice faced by the protagonist Arjuna is whether to go
to war against members of his own family, in violation of a universal duty not
to kill; or to abstain, letting a wrong go unrighted and breaking a duty that
is uniquely his. Lord Krishna counsels Arjuna with the philosophical advice
that the moral motivation for action should never consist in expected outcomes,
that one should act but not base one’s path of action on one’s wants or needs.

G.G.: This sounds rather
like the Kantian view that morality means doing what’s right regardless of the

J.G.: There are ongoing
debates about what sort of moral philosophy Krishna is proposing — Amartya Sen
has claimed that he’s a quasi-Kantian but others disagree. More important than
this scholarly debate, though, is what the text tells us about how to live:
that living is hard, and doing the right thing is difficult; that leading a moral
life is at best an enigmatic and ambiguous project. No escape route from moral
conflict by imitating the actions of a morally perfect individual is on offer
here. Krishna, unlike Christ, the Buddha or Mohammed is not portrayed as
morally perfect, and indeed the philosopher Bimal Matilal very aptly describes
him as the “devious divinity.” We can but try our best in treacherous

G.G.: How does the notion
of “karma” fit into the picture?

J.G.: Let me be clear. The
idea of karma is that every human action has consequences, but it is not at all
the claim that every human action is itself a consequence. So the idea of karma
does not imply a fatalistic outlook on life, according to which one’s past
deeds predetermine all one’s actions. The essence of the theory is simply that
one’s life will be better if one acts in ways that are ethical, and it will be
worse if one acts in ways that are unethical.

A claim like that can be
justified in many different ways. Buddhism, for example, tends to give it a
strictly causal interpretation (bad actions make bad things happen). But I
think that within Hinduism, karma is more like what Kant called a postulate of
practical reason, something one does well to believe in and act according to
(for Kant, belief in God was a practical postulate of this sort).

G.G.: How does Hinduism
regard other religions (for example, as teaching falsehoods, as worthy
alternative ways, as partial insights into its fuller truth)?

J.G.: The essence of
Hinduism is that it has no essence. What defines Hinduism and sets it apart
from other major religions is its polycentricity, its admission of multiple
centers of belief and practice, with a consequent absence of any single
structure of theological or liturgical power. Unlike Christianity, Buddhism or
Islam, there is no one single canonical text — the Bible, the Dialogues of the
Buddha, the Quran — that serves as a fundamental axis of hermeneutical or
doctrinal endeavor, recording the words of a foundational religious teacher.
(The Veda is only the earliest in a diverse corpus of Hindu texts.) Hinduism is
a banyan tree, in the shade of whose canopy, supported by not one but many
trunks, a great diversity of thought and action is sustained.

G.G.: Would Hinduism
require rejecting the existence of the God worshiped by Christians, Jews or

J.G.: No, it wouldn’t. To
the extent that Hindus worship one God, they tend to be henotheists, that is,
worshiping their God but not denying the existence of others (“every individual
worships some God,” not “some God is worshipped by every individual”). The
henotheistic attitude can accept the worship of the Abrahamic God as another
practice of the same kind as the worship of Vishnu or Shiva (and Vaishnavism
and Shaivism are practically different religions under the catchall rubric

Without a center, there can be no
periphery either, and so Hinduism’s approach to other religions tends to be
incorporationist. In practice this can imply a disrespect for the otherness of
non-Hindu religious traditions, and in particular of their ability to challenge
or call into question Hindu beliefs and practices. The positive side is that
there is in Hinduism a long heritage of tolerance of dissent and difference.

One explanation of this tolerance of difference is
that religious texts are often not viewed as making truth claims, which might
then easily contradict one another. Instead, they are seen as devices through
which one achieves self transformation. Reading a religious text, taking it to
heart, appreciating it, is a transformative experience, and in the transformed
state one might well become aware that the claims of the text would, were they
taken literally, be false. So religious texts are seen in Hinduism as “Trojan
texts” (like the Trojan horse, but breaking through mental walls in disguise).
Such texts enter the mind of the reader and help constitute the self.

The Hindu attitude to the Bible
or the Quran is the same, meaning that the sorts of disagreements that arise
from literalist readings of the texts tend not to arise.

G.G.: What ultimate good
does Hinduism promise those who follow it, and what is the path to attaining
this good?

J.G.: The claim is that
there are three pathways, of equal merit, leading in their own way to
liberation. Hindu philosophers have employed a good deal of logical skill in
their definitions of liberation. To cut a long story short, for some it is a
state defined as the endless but not beginingless absence of pain; others
characterize it as a state of bliss. The three pathways are the path of
knowledge, the path of religious performance and the path of devotion. The path
of knowledge requires philosophical reflection, that of religious performances
various rituals and good deeds, and that of devotion worship and service, often
of a particular deity such as Krishna.

G.G.: Could you say a bit
more about the path of knowledge and its relation to philosophy?

J.G.: Knowledge can
liberate because epistemic error is the primary source of anguish, and
knowledge is an antidote to error. I might err, for example, if I believe that
I only need to satisfy my current desires in order to be happy. The antidote is
the knowledge that the satisfaction of one desire serves only to generate

According to the Nyaya
philosopher Vatsyayana, this is why philosophy is important. Doing philosophy
is the way we cultivate our epistemic skills, learning to tell sound doxastic
practices from bogus ones, and the cultivation of epistemic skills is what
stops the merry-go-round between cognitive error and mental distress. So it
isn’t that philosophy and religion are not distinct, but that there is a
meta-theory about their relationship.

G.G.: The liberation
you’ve described seems to be a matter of escaping from the cares of this world.
Doesn’t this lead to a lack of interest in social and political action to make
this world better?

J.G.: The great narrative texts of Hinduism are
the two epics, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. These epics are drawn on as
resources in thinking about ethical conduct; forms of just society; and the
possibility of various kinds of political and social agency. They are vast
polycentric texts, and are read as such by Hindus. ….
One of the important virtues
of these epics is that they give voice to a range of participants within Hinduism
that tend to go unheard: women, the disenfranchised, the outsider, the migrant.
They provide these groups with important models for social and political
intervention. That’s one reason they have always been very popular works within
the Hindu diaspora.

The mirror image of the idea that
liberation consists in the absence of distress is that a free society consists
in the absence of injustice; thus the removal of injustice, rather than the
creation of a perfect or ideal society, is the target of political action. Just
as the absence of distress is a minimal condition compatible with many
different kinds of human well-being (we are back to the theme of
polycentricism), so the absence of injustice is compatible with many different
types of well-ordered community or society.

G.G.: How do you respond
to the charge that Hinduism has supported the injustices of the caste system in

J.G.: I think it is
important to see that Hinduism contains within itself the philosophical
resources to sustain an internal critique of reprehensible and unjust social
practices that have sometimes emerged in Hindu societies. The Upanishadic idea
that all selves are equal, and one with brahman, for example, can be
drawn on to challenge the system of caste. There are thus forms of rational
self-criticism that the diverse riches of Hindu philosophy enable, and an
individual’s social identity as a Hindu is something to be actively fashioned
rather than merely inherited.






What the West must do

The West needs to get over multi-culturalism and back to “Core” values (which transcend race & ethnicity) and I saw this as a Brit-Pak:
(1.) Immigration needs to be completely overhauled to be in the interest of the host society (intra-Western migration should be seamless, outside the West should be on a reciprocal basis, citizens allowed to immigrate should be from countries that won’t flood i.e Japan/Korea).
(2.) Race & ethnic quotas should be completely abolished. In the extraordinary case of US history proven descendants of slaves & Native Americans (at least quarter ancestry verifiable) should be eligible for some affirmative action but the system has gotten out of hand and is easily gamed.
(3.) Core Anglo-American values (or Western) should be emphasised. Sober historical assessments (sans jingoism or recrimination) reaffirm how lucky one is to be born or a citizen of the West.
Mind you this is what I would recommend for any country or civilisation. 

Hannibal re-born (in Jerusalem)

….after Goldin
was reported missing, the I.D.F. enacted the Hannibal Directive
.“No soldier will be kidnapped….he has to detonate
his own grenade along with those who try to capture him…..his unit will now have to fire at the getaway car”

So…who is this Hannibal of Carthage (after whom the Hannibal Directive is named) who drank poison rather than be captured by Romans?

Hannibal, son of Hamilcar Barca (247 – 183/182/181 BC) was a Punic Carthaginian military commander, generally considered one of the greatest military commanders in history. His father, Hamilcar Barca, was the leading Carthaginian commander during the First Punic War.

Hannibal lived during a period of great tension in the Mediterranean, when the Roman Republic established its supremacy over other great powers such as Carthage, the Hellenistic kingdoms of Macedon, Syracuse, and the Seleucid empire. 
One of his most famous achievements was at the outbreak of the Second Punic War, when he marched an army, which included elephants, from Iberia over the Pyrenees and the Alps into northern Italy. 
After the war, Hannibal … fled into voluntary exile. During this time, he lived at the Seleucid court, where he acted as military advisor to Antiochus III in his war against Rome. After Antiochus met defeat at the Battle of Magnesia and was forced to accept Rome’s terms, Hannibal fled again, making a stop in Armenia.  
His flight ended in the court of Bithynia, where he achieved an outstanding naval victory against a fleet from Pergamon. He was afterwards betrayed to the Romans and committed suicide by poisoning himself.

Buried deep inside a Times report
last weekend about Hadar Goldin, the Israeli soldier who was reported
captured by Hamas, in the southern Gaza Strip, and then declared dead,
was the following paragraph:

The circumstances
surrounding his death remained cloudy. A military spokeswoman declined
to say whether Lieutenant Goldin had been killed along with two comrades
by a suicide bomb one of the militants exploded, or later by Israel’s
assault on the area to hunt for him; she also refused to answer whether
his remains had been recovered.

what those circumstances were began to filter out early this week, and
they attest to deep contradictions in the Israeli military—and in
Israeli culture at large.

temporary ceasefire went into effect last Friday morning at eight. At
nine-fifteen, soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces headed toward a
house, in the city of Rafah, that served as an entry point to a tunnel
reportedly leading into Israel. 

As the I.D.F. troops advanced, a Hamas
militant emerged from the tunnel and opened fire. Two soldiers were
killed. A third, Goldin, was captured—whether dead or alive is
unclear—and taken into the tunnel. 

What is clear is that after Goldin
was reported missing, the I.D.F. enacted a highly controversial measure
known as the Hannibal Directive, firing at the area where Goldin was
last seen in order to stop Hamas from taking him captive. As a result,
according to Palestinian sources, seventy Palestinians were killed. By
Sunday, Goldin, too, had been declared dead.

Opinions differ over
how this protocol, which remained a military secret until 2003, came to
be known as Hannibal. There are indications that it was named for the
Carthaginian general, who chose to poison himself rather than fall
captive to the Romans, but I.D.F. officials insist that a computer
generated the name at random. Whatever its provenance, the moniker seems
chillingly apt. 

Developed by three senior I.D.F. commanders, in 1986,
following the capture of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah, the
directive established the steps the military must take in the event of a
soldier’s abduction. Its stated goal is to prevent Israeli troops from
falling into enemy hands, “even at the cost of hurting or wounding our

While normal I.D.F. procedures forbid soldiers from firing in
the general direction of their fellow-troops, including attacking a
getaway vehicle, such procedures, according to the Hannibal Directive,
are to be waived in the case of an abduction: “Everything must be done
to stop the vehicle and prevent it from escaping.”

Although the
order specifies that only selective light-arms fire should be used in
such cases, the message behind it is resounding. When a soldier has been
abducted, not only are all targets legitimate—including, as we saw over
the weekend, ambulances—but it’s permissible, and even implicitly
advisable, for soldiers to fire on their own. 

For more than a decade,
military censors blocked journalists from reporting on the protocol,
apparently because they feared it would demoralize the Israeli public.
In 2003, an Israeli doctor who had heard of the directive while serving
as a reservist, in Lebanon, began advocating for its annulment, leading
to its declassification. That year, a Haaretz investigation
of the directive concluded that “from the point of view of the army, a
dead soldier is better than a captive soldier who himself suffers and
forces the state to release thousands of captives in order to obtain his

For years, Israeli soldiers on the battlefield had
hotly debated the directive and its use. At least one battalion
commander, according to the Haaretz investigation, refused to
brief his soldiers on it, arguing that it was “flagrantly illegal.” And a
rabbi, asked by a soldier about the order’s religious aspect, advised
him to disobey it. 

Major General Yossi Peled, one of the commanders who
drafted the directive, told Haaretz that its purpose was to
assert how far the military could go to prevent abductions. “I wouldn’t
drop a one-ton bomb on the vehicle, but I would hit it with a tank shell
that could make a big hole in the vehicle, which would make it possible
for anyone who was not hit directly—if the vehicle did not blow up—to
emerge in one piece,” Peled said. It’s understandable that soldiers
would scratch their heads over formulations such as these.

To be
clear, there is no evidence that Goldin was killed by friendly fire. But
military officials did confirm that commanders on the ground had
activated the Hannibal Directive and ordered “massive fire”—not for the
first time since Operation Protective Edge began, on July 8th. (One week
into the ground offensive, in the central Gaza Strip, forces reportedly enacted
the protocol when another soldier, Guy Levy, was believed missing.) 

Since the directive’s inception, the I.D.F. is known to have used it
only a handful of times, including in the case of Gilad Shalit. The
order came too late for Shalit and did not prevent his abduction—or his
eventual release, in 2011, in exchange for a thousand and twenty-seven
Palestinian prisoners. 

That year, as part of the military’s inquiry into
the circumstances leading to Shalit’s capture, the I.D.F.’s Chief of
Staff, Benny Gantz, modified the directive. It now allows field
commanders to act without awaiting confirmation from their superiors; at
the same time, the directive’s language was tempered to make clear that
it does not call for the willful killing of captured soldiers. In
changing the wording of the protocol, Gantz introduced an ethical
principle known as the “double-effect doctrine,” which states that a bad
result (the killing of a captive soldier) is morally permissible only
as a side effect of promoting a good action (stopping his captors).

soldiers have heeded this change in language, and how they now choose
to interpret the directive, is difficult to assess. If past experience
is any indication, the military hierarchy’s interpretation remains
unequivocal. During Israel’s last operation in Gaza, in 2011, one Golani
commander was caught on tape telling
his unit: “No soldier in the 51st Battalion will be kidnapped, at any
price or under any condition. Even if it means that he has to detonate
his own grenade along with those who try to capture him. Even if it
means that his unit will now have to fire at the getaway car.”

On Sunday, a decade after its initial investigation of the Hannibal Directive, Haaretz revisited the subject with a piece
by Anshel Pfeffer that tried to explain why, despite the procedure’s
morally questionable nature, there hasn’t been significant opposition to
it. Pfeffer wrote:

Perhaps the most deeply engrained
reason that Israelis innately understand the needs for the Hannibal
Directive is the military ethos of never leaving wounded men on the
battlefield, which became the spirit following the War of Independence,
when hideously mutilated bodies of Israeli soldiers were recovered. So
Hannibal has stayed a fact of military life and the directive activated
more than once during this current campaign.

Bergman, author of the book “By Any Means Necessary,” which examines
Israel’s history of dealing with captive soldiers, further explained
this rationale in a recent radio interview:
“There is a disproportionate sensitivity among Israelis [on the issue
of captive soldiers] that is hard to describe to foreigners.” Bergman
traced this sensitivity back to Maimonides, the medieval Torah scholar,
who wrote: “There is no greater Mitzvah than redeeming captives.”

line of argument, while historically true, is worth pausing over—if
only to unpack the moral paradox within it. In essence, what this
“military ethos” means is that Israel sanctifies the lives of its
soldiers so much, and would be willing to pay such an exorbitant price
for their release, that it will do everything in its power to prevent
such a scenario—including putting those same soldiers’ lives at
risk (not to mention wreaking havoc on the surrounding population). 

is the dubious situation that Israel finds itself in: signalling to the
military that a dead soldier is preferable to a captive one, while at
the same time signalling to the Israeli public that no cost will be
spared to secure a captured soldier’s release. (It’s worth recalling
that, three years after Shalit was traded for more than a thousand
Palestinian prisoners, the captive U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was
traded for five Taliban prisoners. This isn’t to suggest that Israel
cares more about its troops than the United States does, but rather that
no crime is greater, in the eyes of Israelis, than the kidnapping of
“our boys.”)

Daniel Nisman, who runs a geopolitical-security consultancy, told the Times that
the Hannibal Directive “sounds terrible, but you have to consider it
within the framework of the Shalit deal. That was five years of torment
for this country, where every newscast would end with how many days
Shalit had been in captivity. It’s like a wound that just never heals.”

Tuesday, as a seventy-two-hour ceasefire went into effect and the
I.D.F. pulled its ground forces out of Gaza, I spoke to Assaf Sharon,
the academic director of Molad, a progressive Israeli think tank that
focusses on social policy. While he accepted Nisman’s logic, he
questioned the Hannibal Directive’s social ramifications. “I don’t know
that you can draft clear-cut rules that would apply to any situation,
but I do think that a certain risk of a captured soldier’s life should
be allowed. I think the real problem starts with the hysterical
discourse, of the kind that says, ‘This must be stopped at any cost.’ 

From there, the path to the horrors we’ve seen over the last few days,
in Rafah, is a short one. What we’ve seen wasn’t only putting a
soldier’s life at risk but intentionally targeting anything that
moved—whether relevant or irrelevant.”

Sharon added that the
mixed consequences of the directive are typical of the behavior that now
characterizes the Israeli public at large. “On the one hand, we are
willing to risk soldiers’ lives recklessly and without need, but on the
other hand we have zero tolerance for the price that this might entail.”

sixty-seven Israelis and more than eighteen hundred Palestinians
killed, ground forces have completed their withdrawal from the Gaza
Strip. The Hannibal Directive will soon be tucked away, along with the
worn bulletproof vests, until the next time the military wades into
hostile territory. But its moral implications will linger. It’s time for
the painful reconstruction, both in Gaza and in Israeli society, to
slowly start.






The Tunnels of False Hope

devoted so much  to war preparations, by some estimates 40 per cent of
its budget, Hamas created the capacity for a major strike on
…..the capacity to launch a  co-ordinated attack involving thousands
of the approximately 15,000 fighters…..

Imagine the 26/11 attack in Mumbai (2008) multiplied 100 times, this would be a veritable nightmare for Israel with hostage situations continuing for days and body-count in the 1000s. As an attack it would rate ahead of 9/11, 7/7 and all others. The ummah would be chanting the names of the Hamas fighters for the next thousand years.  

The problem is that while bending Israel, such an attack will probably not break it. In the larger scheme of things, tunnels, even sophisticated ones constructed more than 60ft below the ground can be blown up (again). Israel will be thinking out a cavalry of defensive measures (for example, strictly regulate the cement that passes through its checkpoints).

As of now Hamas has only two solid allies in the Sunni Middle-East: Qatar and Turkey. Shia Hezbollah sat out this war when it could have lent a hand. Shia Iran will not probably mind bank-rolling a few more misadventures but its own boundaries have suddenly become shaky. Israel may well choose to play a tit-for-tat game in Kurdistan – it supports full independence for the Kurds. Jordan and Egypt are definitely hostile to Hamas (and they matter the most as Israel’s neighbors). Syria is in utter chaos and will never recover to be a threat to Israel (if it ever was). All this will be a serious cause of concern for Hamas going forward.
Hamas also can not depend on anti-semitism in the West to be able to get to score free-kicks. The West may not like Jews, but it likes Muslims even less, forget islamists such as Hamas. To a non-muslim Westerner (majority Christian background), there is not much distinction between the Taliban (Malala shooters), Boko Haram (Chistian girl kidnappers), and the ISIS (Christian church destroyers).

How about China, Russia, India? Simply put, they all have their own Palestines and they hate islamists. Only in Latin America (and especially Brazil) do we see unequivocal support for Hamas/Palestine. 
Israeli security thought it had adequate intelligence about Gaza. It
was in for a surprise. It was not just the labyrinth of tunnels
discovered, much more extensive than expected, but the stockpiles:
thousands of weapons, Russian anti-tank missiles, explosive devices, and
large amounts of tranquillisers, handcuffs, syringes, ropes. The tools
of capture on a large scale.

Some of the tunnels are very deep,   big enough to hold vehicles.
They were dug with electric jackhammers, mostly about 20 metres below
ground, and reinforced with concrete made on site, in workshops adjacent
to the tunnels.

The tunnels served as command centres, infiltration points into
Israel, weapons stores, rocket-launcher hiding sites, and the means to
move and conceal fighters during urban combat. The tunnels dug into
Israel were created in parallel pairs, with multiple shafts to the
surface for multiple entry points. Inside urban Gaza, the labyrinth
could allow fighters to move unseen between homes and alleys.

Gaza had been wired for war. On a scale more advanced than Israeli
military intelligence realised, which is why the Israel Defence Forces
lost more than 40 soldiers in the first phase of Operation Protective

Areas of cities were laced with hundreds of booby-traps. The
commander of the IDF Gaza Division, Brigadier-General Mickey Edelstein,
said that in a single street in Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, his
soldiers had found booby-traps in 19 of 28 homes. Three Israeli soldiers
were killed by an explosive device when they entered a building
designated as a United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine
Refugees. The IDF has conceded it was surprised by the scale of the bomb
traps across Gaza.

Israel is thus engaging in very limited ground combat in Gaza, given
the whole area is a booby-trap of explosives, ambush and civilian
targets. The largest known military control centre for Hamas was placed
in the basement of a hospital.

The IDF’s use of bombing has created a heavy civilian cost.

‘‘Hamas planned these tunnels for years, and planned to use them to
kidnap soldiers,’’ chief spokesman for the IDF Brigadier-General  Moti
Almoz told a recent media briefing.

Actually, since then it has emerged that Hamas had a much broader
agenda. Kidnappings can deliver psychological blows to Israel but not
strategic ones. Hamas wanted strategic blows. It wants jihad. ….

devoted so much  to war preparations, by some estimates 40 per cent of
its budget, Hamas, with Iran, created the capacity for a major strike on

Israeli intelligence is assembling evidence from the tunnel labyrinth
and from captured Hamas members, that the scale of the effort was to
have the capacity to launch a  co-ordinated attack involving thousands
of the approximately 15,000 fighters Hamas has trained in Gaza.

Hamas had also doubled its rocket arsenal between 2012 and this year,
with hundreds of missiles with the range to reach Jerusalem and Tel
Aviv, according to head of IDF military intelligence research
Brigadier-General Itai Brun. Bigger missiles had been on their way in
March, supplied by Iran and sourced in Syria. But the cargo ship Klos-C,
an Iranian vessel under a Panamanian flag, carrying a load of M-302
surface-to-surface missiles, was intercepted by Israeli Navy special
forces in the Red Sea.

With each revelation in recent weeks, the mood in Israel is that
Operation Protective Edge has averted a catastrophe for the country, a
mass terror attack, emerging from underground, incubated by the
implacable hatred of Hamas.

The sheer scale of the war infrastructure revealed guarantees that
Israel is far from done with this operation. It does not yet know the
full scale of what was built and it wants this springboard of war and
attrition destroyed. Tunnels have also been discovered in the West Bank,
some stocked with bomb-making materials.

This is why the Israel government and  public reacted with fury when
US Secretary of State John Kerry suggested last week that Israel agree
to a ceasefire which included a cessation of its operation to find and
destroy tunnels. The proposal was deemed preposterous. (Numerous
references to Kerry’s facelift reflected the scorn with which his
intervention was held.) 

Even famously pacifist Israeli author Amos Oz
has been moved to condemn Hamas for creating a web of warfare through
the civilian population of Gaza. At the other end of the political
spectrum  Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, the leader of the
nationalist Jewish Home party, said of the war preparations uncovered:
‘‘Without the ground operation, we would have woken up one day to an
Israeli 9/11.’’

Such is the nature of the Israel-Palestinian debate that many people
regard all this as Israel reaping what it sows. Even as Israel strikes
against a war machine, it is blamed for creating the conditions which
created the threat.  

The result of this logic trap – and the differing
standard applied to killings by Jews and killing by Muslims – is that
more media coverage and outrage has been directed at Israel for the
unintended deaths of children in Gaza than has been directed at the
butchery of Muslims by Muslims, on a massive scale, in  Iraq and
elsewhere. In Syria alone, three years of  war have seen between 120,000
and 170,000 people killed, including more than 11,000 children. This
violence has spilled into Iraq, with atavistic massacres of prisoners by
jihadis from Islamic State.

The deep animosities which are the ultimate source of this bloody
absolutism could even be heard on the streets of Sydney last week, in
the chants of demonstrators, some waving the black flag of the Islamic
State: ‘‘Palestine is Muslim land … Jew and Christian will not stand
… From Lakemba to Gaza … You can never stop Islam.’’






A ring side view of the war

….the boom of artillery fire was briefly
drowned by the whoosh of Hamas rockets taking flight…..In the
street outside, whistles and cheers rose. Why the jubilation, I asked?
Surely the rockets were a prime reason for Gaza’s catastrophe?
…..You don’t understand, I was told. The Arab countries dare not throw
so much as a tennis ball at Israel. But Gaza can launch 100 rockets a day…..

Now that the dust is settling down, difficult questions will be asked and will need honest answers. There will be very few unbiased people in this fight.

We fully expect (and so does the world) that there will be another war just around the corner. It is important (as they say) to keep learning the lessons that hopefully will postpone, delay, and slow down the conflict. It will be vital to keep reaching for the middle ground, even if it looks impossible and sounds foolish.
I thought that killer drones were silent and practically invisible –
until I counted seven of the silver objects circling in the summer sky
overhead, buzzing endlessly like angry bees.

If you believe that all guns sound the same and one explosion is much
like another, then Gaza’s ceaseless symphony of war will provide an
education. Soon, you will be able to distinguish the staccato
thunderclaps of a naval bombardment from the deep and steady boom of an
artillery barrage.

You will learn that Hollywood is wrong and bombs do not whistle when
they fall – and you rarely see, or even hear, the jet fighter that
destroys the building in the next street. At first, this rib-shaking
explosion and its mini-mushroom cloud of black smoke appear to have
erupted from nowhere.

You will discover that salvos of Hamas rockets take off with a
prolonged “whoosh”, leaving trails of white smoke in the sky; that a
falling bomb does not explode on impact but drills a gaping void in the
centre of a building, smashing its way methodically through one storey
after another, before detonating under the foundations. Then you will
learn that when human beings are shredded and eviscerated, the street
runs with blood.

From previous wars, I knew that explosions have a strangely
capricious quality. But it was still a surprise to come across a single
surviving door, standing intact and defiant on a sea of rubble that had
once been a home. At another scene of destruction, a new television lay
beneath a mountain of white concrete, apparently unscathed; nearby, a
large bathtub had been hurled upwards to perch precariously on top of a
heap of debris.

After a few days in Gaza, however, you stop being surprised by the
extraordinary. Dinner takes place outdoors to the accompaniment of
explosions. Soon, you mentally phase out all but the most thunderous
blasts, just as someone who lives near a busy street will tune out the
sound of traffic.

But what if every blast is thunderous? That happened on Tuesday
morning when an ear-splitting, heart-pounding, wall-shaking bombardment
broke over Gaza City from midnight until 5.30am with barely a pause. 

those hours, I had some sense of what London must have sounded like
during the Blitz.

Most of all, you learn that conflict in Gaza is fundamentally
different – more intense, more soul-destroying and more perilous for
ordinary people – than just about anywhere else in the world.

Why is that? First and foremost because Gaza serves as Exhibit A for
the dictum that you can run, but you can’t hide. In other wars I have
covered, civilians who find themselves in the path of battle simply take
what they can and move. They walk to safety, travelling as far as they
need to go.

In January, I was in South Sudan at the outset of that country’s
civil war. When the town of Bor was besieged and bombarded, most of its
people crossed to the far bank of the White Nile and set up a vast
refugee camp.

This was a dangerous journey and the conditions that awaited them
were terrible. But at least they were safe on arrival. Once on the west
bank of the river, only the distant boom of artillery reminded the
refugees of the perils from which they had fled.

The 1.8 million people of Gaza have no such option. Their world
measures 25 miles in length and seven in breadth at its very widest
point – and just about every location within that tiny area has come
under attack. Thanks to the partial blockade enforced by Israel and
Egypt, Gaza’s inhabitants cannot leave: they have no means of escape.

The best that families can do is take refuge in the nearest United Nations property, usually a school, and hope for the best.

During my 12 days in Gaza, the number of people displaced in this way
grew by leaps and bounds. When I arrived, some 30,000 refugees were
sheltering in UN premises; by Friday, that total was close to 240,000 –
or 13 per cent of the territory’s entire population.

And that does not count the hundreds of people sleeping in the open
outside Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, nor the tens of thousands more who
have packed into the homes of relatives.

Remember one other fact: about half of Gaza’s people are under the
age of 18. No one fights in Gaza without maiming, killing, displacing or
traumatising legions of children. This not a campaign waged in empty
desert, mountain or plain – forget Iraq or Afghanistan – but a battle
fought in narrow alleyways crowded with infants and families.

So when Israel sends troops and tanks into Gaza, understand what that
means. First of all, the inhabitants of the targeted area receive an
order to leave, delivered by voicemail, text message or a leaflet
fluttering from the sky. I happened to arrive a few hours before the
ground invasion began and the 100,000 people of the towns of Beit Hanoun
and Beit Lahiya, lying squarely in Israel’s intended line of advance,
were receiving these alerts.

Israel says that its prime concern is the safety of the people: only
by emptying an area can its troops fight Hamas without killing even more
civilians. The warnings also offer clear reassurance that everyone will
be able to return once the operation is over.

I do not question the sincerity of Israel’s argument and I recognise
the dilemma of its battlefield commanders. 

I would simply offer three

First, these eviction orders presently apply to everyone inside an
Israeli-controlled buffer zone stretching for two miles along Gaza’s
northern and eastern borders. That amounts to 44 per cent of the
territory’s entire surface area. So almost half of Gaza has been
deliberately – if temporarily – cleared of its people.

Second, events have demonstrated the stark truth that nowhere is
safe. Twice, Israeli forces have bombarded UN schools housing the
displaced; in Jabaliya on Wednesday, they killed at least 16 people,
including children in their sleep.

Third, if Israel’s leaders act on their threat to expand the ground
operation and send their troops and tanks still deeper into Gaza, even
more Palestinians will be forced from their homes. Suppose Israel
decides to increase the area under military control from 44 per cent to,
say, 50 or 60 per cent. Every street and every block that Israeli
forces capture will represent thousands more refugees.

Where will they all go? Every available UN school is already packed.
Whatever threadbare system exists for sheltering the fugitives is, in
the words of Chris Gunness, the local UN spokesman, “overwhelmed” and
“at breaking point”.

Make no mistake: if Israel escalates this operation still further,
then the people of Gaza will be herded and corralled into
ever-shrinking, and ever more squalid, pockets of supposed safety.

What cause could possibly justify such suffering? This brings us to
the second reason why Gaza’s tragedy is different. Even by the standards
of wars down the ages, this one is singularly futile.

Israel, on its own account, is not fighting to destroy Hamas or solve
the humanitarian and security problem posed by Gaza. No, the purpose of
its campaign is to punish the radical Islamist movement for firing
rockets at Israeli cities, destroy its tunnels and delay the moment –
note the word delay – when Hamas will be able to resume launching
missiles. This is a struggle not for victory, but for temporary tactical
advantage in a campaign that Israel expects to have to repeat, time and
again, into the indefinite future.

And Hamas? Its rocket barrage is primarily intended not to solve a
problem, but to achieve psychological solace. Over dinner in a
Palestinian home last week, the boom of artillery fire was briefly
drowned by the whoosh of Hamas rockets taking flight nearby. In the
street outside, whistles and cheers rose. Why the jubilation, I asked?
Surely the rockets were a prime reason for Gaza’s catastrophe?

You don’t understand, I was told. The Arab countries dare not throw
so much as a tennis ball at Israel. But Gaza – little, impoverished,
blockaded Gaza – can launch 100 rockets a day. Never mind that Israel’s
“Iron Dome” missile shield minimises the damage they cause. What matters
is that they are fired at all.

My hosts, I hasten to add, did not share this view – and Palestinians
are enduring their nightmare with profound courage and stoicism. Even
in the midst of privation and terror, they greet visitors with dignity
and courtesy. Yet they are trapped in a vortex of suffering – and one
that has no discernible end.






A (muslim) man looks for the (secular) truth

..“In order for Israel to become part of the alliance against religious barbarism… it’ll have to dispense with the occupation… can’t govern other people against
their will….It can’t continue to steal their land in the way that it
does every day…… And it’s unbelievably irresponsible of Israelis….to continue to behave in this unconscionable way”

Pro-Palestine or Pro-Israel? A silly question (yet one with deadly import) in the middle of a vicious tribal war. The real question: do we identify with Muslims or Jews as victims, from this key point all other conclusions (blindly) follow.

But then we are not really interested in the (rhetorical) questions. We are looking for honest answers. And as they say, the truth is the first casualty in war. We are tired of all the lies that are flying around.

What do we mean by secular truth? Well, if you are from South Asia you know that there is (at the least) a Hindu truth and a Muslim truth – this is the 1-line definition of the 2-nation theory. There are as many versions of truth as there are divisions between people. A secular truth springs from the concept that no special privilege is to be given to religion or to the religious. No special justifications, narratives, victims,…etc. based on religion.

Regardless of which camp we belong to, we all agree that the killings (of civilians on both sides) must cease. But as Palestinians correctly point out, even with a cease-fire in place the oppression will not cease. They expect (at the least) border restrictions by Egypt and Israel to be lifted for good, compensation money for re-building, and war crimes trials against Israel.

Then again, as many non-muslim groups will point out how they have encountered one Nakba after another at the hand of unrepentant muslims. If Palestinians do not identify with the Sindhis (Hindus) of India why should they expect solidarity in reverse? How about the hundreds of Ahmadis and Christians from Pakistan who are currently claiming asylum in Sri Lanka due to persecution back home (which is no less deadly  than Gaza). Should the Islamic “civil rights” organizations in the USA (many of whom have a substantial desi presence) worry about such trivialities, or do they have a single point agenda??

We have seen on BP a number of masterly, eloquent articles by Dr Omar Ali and Prof Ali Minai on the Gaza conflict. Here is one more by Ali Rizvi that we really liked, one which deals with the truth in an unvarnished manner.

We do want to comment on one metric that has proven to be very popular:  in terms of per capita massacre (meaning people killed per unit population), Gaza is worse than…Syrian war, World War I…etc. We respect the argument but we still feel it trivializes war  and conflicts.  
The idea should be that even one life is so precious that it should not be lost in vain. The better argument is for non-violence. Mandela was for violence before he turned to non-violence and defeated apartheid.

Non-violence is the true weapon of the weak and it is also the best. But you have to believe in it, sincerely and in full measure. Are any of the middle-eastern tribes even willing to give it a try? All the evidence points to the fact that they would not only not try it, they would completely reject it. 

The truth is that Palestinians still yearn for a full-on military victory against Israel, one that will push every single Jew into the sea. That may yet happen, if Iran hands over an A-bomb to Hamas (this is the scenario in which the entire Middle East blows up, including the Temple and the Mosque). For all of you arm-chair warriors, think about such a doomsday scenario, as you plan ahead for the next war (it will happen for sure).

1. Why is everything so much worse when there are Jews involved?

Over 700 people have died in Gaza as of this writing. Muslims have
woken up around the world. But is it really because of the numbers?

Bashar al-Assad has killed over 180,000 Syrians, mostly Muslim, in
two years — more than the number killed in Palestine in two decades.
Thousands of Muslims in Iraq and Syria have been killed by ISIS in the
last two months. Tens of thousands have been killed by the Taliban.
Half a million black Muslims were killed by Arab Muslims in Sudan. The
list goes on.

But Gaza makes Muslims around the world, both Sunni and Shia, speak
up in a way they never do otherwise. Up-to-date death counts and
horrific pictures of the mangled corpses of Gazan children flood their
social media timelines every day. If it was just about the numbers,
wouldn’t the other conflicts take precedence? What is it about then?

If I were Assad or ISIS right now, I’d be thanking God I’m not Jewish.

Amazingly, many of the graphic images of dead children attributed to Israeli bombardment that are circulating online are from Syria, based on a BBC report.
Many of the pictures you’re seeing are of children killed by Assad,
who is supported by Iran, which also funds Hezbollah and Hamas. What
could be more exploitative of dead children than attributing the
pictures of innocents killed by your own supporters to your enemy
simply because you weren’t paying enough attention when your own were
killing your own?

This doesn’t, by any means, excuse the recklessness, negligence, and sometimes outright cruelty
of Israeli forces. But it clearly points to the likelihood that the
Muslim world’s opposition to Israel isn’t just about the number of

Here is a question for those who grew up in the Middle East and other
Muslim-majority countries like I did: if Israel withdrew from the
occupied territories tomorrow, all in one go — and went back to the 1967 borders — and
gave the Palestinians East Jerusalem — do you honestly think Hamas
wouldn’t find something else to pick a fight about? Do you honestly
think that this has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that they are
Jews? Do you recall what you watched and heard on public TV growing up
in Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Egypt?

Yes, there’s an unfair and illegal occupation there, and yes, it’s a
human rights disaster. But it is also true that much of the other side
is deeply driven by anti-Semitism. Anyone who has lived in the
Arab/Muslim world for more than a few years knows that. It isn’t always
a clean, one-or-the-other blame split in these situations like your
Chomskys and Greenwalds would have you believe. It’s both.

2. Why does everyone keep saying this is not a religious conflict?

There are three pervasive myths that are widely circulated about the “roots” of the Middle East conflict:

  • Myth 1: Judaism has nothing to do with Zionism.
  • Myth 2: Islam has nothing to do with Jihadism or anti-Semitism.
  • Myth 3: This conflict has nothing to do with religion.

To the “I oppose Zionism, not Judaism!” crowd, is it mere coincidence
that this passage from the Old Testament (emphasis added) describes so
accurately what’s happening today?

“I will establish your borders from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, and from the desert to the Euphrates River. I will give into your hands the people who live in the land, and you will drive them out before you. Do not make a covenant with them or with their gods.” – Exodus 23:31-32

Or this one?

“See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of
the land the Lord swore he would give to your fathers — to Abraham,
Isaac and Jacob — and to their descendants after them.” – Deuteronomy 1:8

There’s more: Genesis 15:18-21, and Numbers 34 for more detail on the
borders. Zionism is not the “politicization” or “distortion” of
Judaism. It is the revival of it.

And to the “This is not about Islam, it’s about politics!” crowd, is this verse from the Quran (emphasis added) meaningless?

“O you who have believed, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies.
They are [in fact] allies of one another. And whoever is an ally to
them among you–then indeed, he is [one] of them. Indeed, Allah guides
not the wrongdoing people.” – Quran, 5:51

What about the numerous verses and hadith quoted in Hamas’ charter? And the famous hadith of the Gharqad tree explicitly commanding Muslims to kill Jews?

Please tell me — in light of these passages written centuries and
millennia before the creation of Israel or the occupation — how can
anyone conclude that religion isn’t at the root of this, or at least a
key driving factor? You may roll your eyes at these verses, but they
are taken very seriously by many of the players in this conflict, on
both sides. Shouldn’t they be acknowledged and addressed? When is the
last time you heard a good rational, secular argument supporting
settlement expansion in the West Bank?

Denying religion’s role seems to be a way to be able to criticize the
politics while remaining apologetically “respectful” of people’s
beliefs for fear of “offending” them. But is this apologism and “respect” for inhuman ideas worth the deaths of human beings?

People have all kinds of beliefs — from insisting the Earth is flat
to denying the Holocaust. You may respect their right to hold these
beliefs, but you’re not obligated to respect the beliefs themselves.
It’s 2014, and religions don’t need to be “respected” any more than any
other political ideology or philosophical thought system. Human beings
have rights. Ideas don’t. The oft-cited politics/religion dichotomy in
Abrahamic religions is false and misleading. All of the Abrahamic
religions are inherently political.

3. Why would Israel deliberately want to kill civilians?

This is the single most important issue that gets everyone riled up, and rightfully so.

Again, there is no justification for innocent Gazans dying. And
there’s no excuse for Israel’s negligence in incidents like the killing
of four children on a Gazan beach. But let’s back up and think about
this for a minute.

Why on Earth would Israel deliberately want to kill civilians?

When civilians die, Israel looks like a monster. It draws the ire of even its closest allies.
Horrific images of injured and dead innocents flood the media.
Ever-growing anti-Israel protests are held everywhere from Norway to
New York. And the relatively low number of Israeli casualties (we’ll get
to that in a bit) repeatedly draws allegations of a “disproportionate”
response. Most importantly, civilian deaths help Hamas immensely.

How can any of this possibly ever be in Israel’s interest?

If Israel wanted to kill civilians, it is terrible at it. ISIS killed
more civilians in two days (700 plus) than Israel has in two weeks.
Imagine if ISIS or Hamas had Israel’s weapons, army, air force, US
support, and nuclear arsenal. Their enemies would’ve been annihilated
long ago. If Israel truly wanted to destroy Gaza, it could do so within
a day, right from the air. Why carry out a more painful, expensive
ground incursion that risks the lives of its soldiers?

4. Does Hamas really use its own civilians as human shields?

Ask Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas how he feels about Hamas’ tactics.

“What are you trying to achieve by sending rockets?” he asks. “I don’t like trading in Palestinian blood.”

It isn’t just speculation anymore that Hamas puts its civilians in the line of fire.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri plainly admitted on Gazan national TV that the human shield strategy has proven “very effective.”

The UN relief organization UNRWA issued a furious condemnation of Hamas after discovering hidden rockets in not one, but two children’s schools in Gaza last week.

Hamas fires thousands of rockets into Israel, rarely killing any
civilians or causing any serious damage. It launches them from densely
populated areas, including hospitals and schools.

Why launch rockets without causing any real damage to the other side,
inviting great damage to your own people, then putting your own civilians
in the line of fire when the response comes? Even when the IDF warns
civilians to evacuate their homes before a strike, why does Hamas tell them to stay put?

Because Hamas knows its cause is helped when Gazans die. If there is
one thing that helps Hamas most — one thing that gives it any
legitimacy — it is dead civilians. Rockets in schools. Hamas exploits
the deaths of its children to gain the world’s sympathy. It uses them
as a weapon.

You don’t have to like what Israel is doing to abhor Hamas. Arguably,
Israel and Fatah are morally equivalent. Both have a lot of right on
their side. Hamas, on the other hand, doesn’t have a shred of it.

5. Why are people asking for Israel to end the “occupation” in Gaza?

Because they have short memories.

In 2005, Israel ended the occupation in Gaza. It pulled out every
last Israeli soldier. It dismantled every last settlement. Many Israeli
settlers who refused to leave were forcefully evicted from their homes, kicking and screaming.

This was a unilateral move by Israel, part of a disengagement plan intended to reduce friction between Israelis and Palestinians.
It wasn’t perfect — Israel was still to control Gaza’s borders,
coastline, and airspace — but considering the history of the region,
it was a pretty significant first step.

After the evacuation, Israel opened up border crossings to facilitate commerce. The Palestinians were also given 3,000 greenhouses which had already been producing fruit and flowers for export for many years.

But Hamas chose not to invest in schools, trade, or infrastructure. Instead, it built an extensive network of tunnels to house thousands upon thousands of rockets and weapons, including newer, sophisticated ones from Iran and Syria. All the greenhouses were destroyed.

Hamas did not build any bomb shelters for its people. It did, however, build a few
for its leaders to hide out in during airstrikes. Civilians are not
given access to these shelters for precisely the same reason Hamas tells
them to stay home when the bombs come.

Gaza was given a great opportunity in 2005 that Hamas squandered by
transforming it into an anti-Israel weapons store instead of a thriving
Palestinian state that, with time, may have served as a model for the
future of the West Bank as well. If Fatah needed yet another reason to
abhor Hamas, here it was.

6. Why are there so many more casualties in Gaza than in Israel?

The reason fewer Israeli civilians die is not because there are fewer
rockets raining down on them. It’s because they are better protected
by their government.

When Hamas’ missiles head towards Israel, sirens go off, the Iron
Dome goes into effect, and civilians are rushed into bomb shelters.
When Israeli missiles head towards Gaza, Hamas tells civilians to stay in their homes and face them.

While Israel’s government urges its civilians to get away from rockets targeted at them, Gaza’s government urges its civilians to get in front of missiles not targeted at them.

The popular explanation for this is that Hamas is poor and lacks the
resources to protect its people like Israel does. The real reason,
however, seems to have more to do with disordered priorities than
deficient resources (see #5). This is about will, not ability. All
those rockets, missiles, and tunnels aren’t cheap to build or acquire.
But they are priorities. And it’s not like Palestinians don’t have a handful of oil-rich neighbors to help them the way Israel has the US.

The problem is, if civilian casualties in Gaza drop, Hamas loses the
only weapon it has in its incredibly effective PR war. It is in
Israel’s national interest to protect its civilians and minimize the
deaths of those in Gaza. It is in Hamas’ interest to do exactly the
opposite on both fronts.

7. If Hamas is so bad, why isn’t everyone pro-Israel in this conflict?

Because Israel’s flaws, while smaller in number, are massive in impact.

Many Israelis seem to have the same tribal mentality that their Palestinian counterparts do. They celebrate the bombing of Gaza the same way many Arabs celebrated 9/11. A UN report recently found that Israeli forces tortured Palestinian children and used them as human shields. They beat up teenagers. They are often reckless with their airstrikes. They have academics who explain how rape may be the only truly effective weapon against their enemy. And many of them callously and publicly revel in the deaths of innocent Palestinian children.

To be fair, these kinds of things do happen on both sides. They are
an inevitable consequence of multiple generations raised to hate the
other over the course of 65 plus years. To hold Israel up to a higher
standard would mean approaching the Palestinians with the racism of
lowered expectations.

However, if Israel holds itself to a higher standard like it claims — it needs to do much more to show it isn’t the same as the worst of its neighbors.

Israel is leading itself towards increasing international isolation
and national suicide because of two things: 1. The occupation; and 2.
Settlement expansion.

Settlement expansion is simply incomprehensible. No one really
understands the point of it. Virtually every US administration — from
Nixon to Bush to Obama — has unequivocally opposed it.
There is no justification for it except a Biblical one (see #2), which
makes it slightly more difficult to see Israel’s motives as purely

The occupation is more complicated. The late Christopher Hitchens was right when he said this about Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories:

“In order for Israel to become part of the alliance against whatever
we want to call it, religious barbarism, theocratic, possibly
thermonuclear theocratic or nuclear theocratic aggression, it can’t,
it’ll have to dispense with the occupation. It’s as simple as that.

It can be, you can think of it as a kind of European style, Western
style country if you want, but it can’t govern other people against
their will.

It can’t continue to steal their land in the way that it
does every day.And it’s unbelievably irresponsible of Israelis,
knowing the position of the United States and its allies are in around
the world, to continue to behave in this unconscionable way.

And I’m
afraid I know too much about the history of the conflict to think of
Israel as just a tiny, little island surrounded by a sea of ravening
wolves and so on. I mean, I know quite a lot about how that state was
founded, and the amount of violence and dispossession that involved.
And I’m a prisoner of that knowledge. I can’t un-know it.”

As seen with Gaza in 2005, unilateral disengagement is probably
easier to talk about than actually carry out. But if it Israel doesn’t
work harder towards a two-state (maybe three-state, thanks to Hamas)
solution, it will eventually have to make that ugly choice between
being a Jewish-majority state or a democracy.

It’s still too early to call Israel an apartheid state, but when John Kerry said Israel could end up as one in the future,
he wasn’t completely off the mark. It’s simple math. There are only a
limited number of ways a bi-national Jewish state with a non-Jewish
majority population can retain its Jewish identity. And none of them
are pretty.

Let’s face it, the land belongs to both of them now. Israel was
carved out of Palestine for Jews with help from the British in the late
1940s just like my own birthplace of Pakistan was carved out of India
for Muslims around the same time. The process was painful, and
displaced millions in both instances. 

But it’s been almost 70 years.
There are now at least two or three generations of Israelis who were
born and raised in this land, to whom it really is a home, and who are
often held accountable and made to pay for for historical atrocities
that are no fault of their own. They are programmed to oppose “the
other” just as Palestinian children are. At its very core, this is a
tribal religious conflict that will never be resolved unless people
stop choosing sides.

So you really don’t have to choose between being “pro-Israel” or
“pro-Palestine.” If you support secularism, democracy, and a two-state
solution — and you oppose Hamas, settlement expansion, and the
occupation — you can be both.





No country for young Sikhs (or old)

Last week (July 26) we had three Sikhs dead in Saharanpur (Uttar Pradesh, India). Due to the way these action-reactions occur in South Asia (in the words of a very famous and powerful person), this week we encounter a repeat action in Peshawar (Khyber Pakhtunwa, Pakistan).

We extend our deepest sympathies to all minority communities without a safe haven to call their own. The list even includes Hindus (Pandits) in India, Muslims (Biharis) in Bangladesh, and many others…….

No one should have to die before their body and/or mind dies a natural death.
Members of the Sikh community in Peshawar came under attack on Wednesday, with one killed and two injured in a firing incident.
officials said unidentified armed men opened fire at members of the
Sikh community when they were at Shabab market in the Hashtnagri area.

reported that Jasmot Singh, Bahram Singh and Manmit Singh were attacked
when they were at their respective shops in the market. The victims
were rushed to the Lady Reading Hospital immediately after the attack,
where one died.

Members of the Sikh community took to GT
Road to protest the attack on their community, with some burning tires
and vowing not to leave till they were given justice.

A large number of protestors shifted the
body of the deceased Sikh man to GT Road and demanded that the
government give them security. One member said that this is not the
first time the community has been attacked and that the government
should tell them an alternative if it cannot give them security.

a number of kidnappings from among the Sikh community in
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and other tribal areas, some members have
decided to wind up their shops in KP and relocate to Rawalpindi.

In a report
published earlier this week, one Sikh man Saroop Singh said,
“Hasanabdal is a much safer place for the Sikhs to live, as it is one of
our holiest sites. Our families feel much secure there, living among
other Sikhs in Gurdwara Punja Sahib. Peshawar is not safe,” said Singh.


Link: gunmen-shoot-at-sikh-men-in-peshawar-market-one-dead