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Posts Tagged ‘UN

From Tehran, for a Clearer Picture

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Iran has supplied sophisticated radar to Syria that can monitor Israeli air force sorties and threaten its ability to attack Iranian nuclear targets by surprise, Reuters quotes the Wall Street Journal. The WSJ quotes – unnamed by Reuters – Israeli and US officials.

A spokesman for the Syrian embassy in WashingtonAhmed Salkini, denounced the allegation as “classic Israeli PR stunts aimed at diverting the world’s attention from the atrocities they are committing in Gaza and other occupied territories”.

The tech transfer was reportedly carried out about a year ago. In 2007, Israeli fighter jets bombed a Syrian site that the Israelis said housed a nuclear reactor in the final stages of construction. The BBC points out that there has been a UN ban on Iran since 2007 to sell or supply weapons to other countries.

Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad travelled Venezuela, Cuba, Brazil, and Argentina last week. MercoPress (Montevideo) writes that Syrian communities are very strong and economically influential in Venezuela, Brazil, and Argentina, advocating the establishment of “a new and more just international order” by including Brazil in the U.N. Security Council.

On June 29, Radio Damascus, in a commentary, noted that

The countries currently visited by president al-Assad – Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, and Cuba – all adopt stands that support the just Arab cause. At the same time, their stands confront the policies of hegemony, war, and terrorism in the whole world. Those states have suffered a lot from the American policies and interference in the affairs of states and peoples. The previous American administrations supported dictatorial regimes, and supported them against their peoples.

Now, Damascus apparently believes, it is time for America to support Syria’s dictatorial regime. And no more distractions, please.

Written by taide

July 1, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Bishop Käßmann: Emo-Bomb on Afghanistan

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“Nothing is good in Afghanistan.”

The statement is from the Germany’s leading protestant bishop, Margot Käßmann, made in her New Year’s Sermon on January 1 this year, and I believe the words she has chosen show what is bad with the Evangelical church here.

Words are central media in a protestant church. In some of the churches Käßmann is heading, words weigh more heavily than the sacraments. There is no excuse for saying that “nothing is good” in whichever country.  Not even if your country has stationed liberating or occupying forces there.

That was bad enough. Eight days earlier, in an interview with the Berliner Zeitung, she criticized the forces that ended Germany’s Third Reich for not having strategies before the war: “Why didn’t they strengthen the opposition? Why didn’t they bomb the railtracks that lead to Auschwitz?” (Warum gab es vorher keine Strategien? Warum wurde die Opposition in Deutschland nicht gestärkt? Warum wurden die Gleise, die nach Auschwitz führten, nicht bombardiert?).

Appeasement hadn’t impressed Hitler, the interviewing reporter suggested.

“Still, war releases a potential of violence I see no justification for. There is injustice, destruction, rape in its tow line. I have seen soldiers recently who can’t cope with their experiences.” Yes, Mrs Käßmann, sure. That’s what our troops are there for, in Afghanistan. j

And there was no storm of protest among the sheep.

This is no longer a church. It’s a sect. I’m off then.

Swiss Ban on Minarets: Philistine Cowardice

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So they’ve dunnit. The Swiss have voted in favour of a ban on building further minarets in their country. Four minarets atop mosques had been built until yesterday, reports the Los Angeles Times, and if yesterday’s referendum is turned into law, it will have been the first a and the last four minarets. Unless the Swiss will start to fear the consequences: boycotts from Muslim countries, or being locked out from the European Council, for example. The latter could happen because a ban on minarets may count as a refusal of an elementary human right: the freedom of worship.

I’m not trying to discuss if minarets to a mosque are an essential ingredient to freedom of worship. And I have no doubt that many Muslims do view minarets in European country as demonstrations of power indeed. I have no illusions about Islam – if I’m unrealistic at all, it is in that I view Islam more negatively than facts would demand. What interests me most, as a non-Muslim, are the reasons for the Swiss decision, and for the secret or not-so-secret approval among Germans here.

The Los Angeles Times

Aleppo, Minaret: Not very Long, but Still Longer than Yours

Aleppo, Minaret: Not very Long, but Still Longer than Yours

interprets the Swiss referendum as a sign of latent fears of Islamic influence in Switzerland. That’s probably a safe bet. The referendum’s result may also, to some degree, stem from the fact that many non-Muslims in Islamic countries are denied the degree of freedom of worship that Muslims enjoy in Europe. If the Swiss tick the same way many of my compatriots do, they will also have rebelled against a politically-correct elite, a political left or against Muslims who try to brand all opposition against foreign religions as “reactionary” or somehow “Nazi”. As a basis for public discussion, yesterday’s referendum may be a lucky event (for us in Germany, anyway).

But a ban on minarets must not stand in a free country. Islam is a an ideology, rather than a religion. Still, we must not deny Islam formal recognition as a religion. There is no way for a free society to deny any follower of any religion the freedom of worship. This is no question about if Islam is good or bad for Europe. It isn’t good for us to betray our own convictions. Human rights are an elementary conviction. Islamism and reactionary religious or political views in general (many of those who oppose minarets are as reactionary as many of those who are advocating them) can’t be defeated by restrictive legislation.

As Amelia Earhart, an American pilot, once said, courage is the price, that life exacts for granting peace. Banning minarets won’t make cartoonists who depict Prophet Mohamed any safer. Talking about Amelia Earhart, banning minarets won’t keep certain European airlines to refuse European citizens a seat in their planes once they have been targeted by a “fatwa”.

Only conviction and courage can stand up to Islamism, and to all kinds of totalitarianism. “Learning from Switzerland” and acting likewise elsewhere in Europe would be a mere act of compensation for real decisions we need to take if we want to defend our liberties successfully. And there may be some Muslims who will actually support our concept of freedom – if we respect and support their freedom.

UN “Racism Conference” – Cui Bono?

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The ‘Ndrangheta is asking for a rule that would ban “derogatory remarks” on the mafia. Besides, the UN Racism Conference starts looking like my mom’s kitchen garden – only bigger and messier.

To prepare yourselves mentally for the Conference, here is a nice piece of music for you. Omerta, Onure e Sangu means Silence, Honour, and Blood. Exactly the kind of stuff the religion behind the conference’s key document makes me think of. Silence and Blood, anyway. Silencing and blood.

This is no conference to attend for decent people. Let the hypocrites stay among themselves.

Written by taide

March 14, 2009 at 7:41 am

Bloody Postcards from the Middle East

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The end of the year was an adequate time for Hamas and Israel to end the truce (or whatever that agreement was really about). At a time when people wish each other a peaceful new year, they are reminded that there are places which are not peaceful at all.
It doesn’t look like if either side had kept to the “truce” anyway. Hamas kept firing Qassam rockets into Israel, and Israel kept the borders of the Gaza strip closed for much or most of the time – and whatever bits of a Palestinian “economy” exist are squashed by blockades.
The current Israeli raids on the Gaza strip seem to reflect both the strengths and weaknesses of a government’s accountability to its people. Israel’s government can’t afford to keep the borders to Gaza open despite the rocket fire by Hamas (or its proxies). It has to act to protect its people, or at least to leave the impression that it does protect them. Such an obligation is good in many ways, but not necessarily in this conflict. The current raids make no difference between perpetrators and innocents. They have killed hundreds of Palestinians, and injured many more, according to Knut Dethlefsen, representative for the Friedrich-Ebert foundation in the Palestinian territories. And they are unlikely to finish Hamas off.
Israel’s government doesn’t assume its responsibilities either – the settlements in the West Bank keep growing. But at least Israel’s government can be held accountable by the people at home, and it has to mind their interests.
It could have been helpful if Fatah had put the Palestinian people’s interest before its own during the past decades. It could be very helpful now if the Hamas rulers put their peoples’ interests and well-being first, rather than their Islamist agenda. Hamas appears to be looking at the Palestinian people as a tool, rather than as a people.
Arsonists make weird fire detectors.

Written by taide

January 2, 2009 at 5:41 am

Does Vernor Muñoz need to speak German?

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In February, Vernor Muñoz , the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the right to education, repeated his criticism of Germany’s educational system of last year.
He explained that children of migrants were looked at in connection with their migration background in the first place, and as children only in the second, according to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung online edition.
He also said that he was still waiting for an answer to his 2007 report. There, he had reported to the UN General Assembly that the German school system disadvantages children of low socio-economic backgrounds, in particular, the children of immigrants – both the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung report and an American Library of Congress document refer to this statement.

Heike Schmoll, a specialist in German studies, a theologian, and a critic of educational politics at the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, is apparently not amused.

“Brazen and dishonest” is her verdict on Muñoz. He had only taken a cursory look on Germany’s system, she is quoted by Die Zeit from Hamburg, and that he was a representative of the international “comprehensive school cartel”. Last but not least: Muñoz “barely speaks German”.
Die Zeit seems to have had a good laugh when noting Schmoll’s findings about the special representative’s language skills. “If only he had gone to school in Germany, one is tempted to add.”
Die Zeit then quotes a particularly mean (but funny) comment by the Süddeutsche Zeitung from Munich: “UN representatives are used to dealing with unreasonable politicians. Potentates of shady regimes don’t like to be exposed to the international community. Unfortunately, Germany is acting like a rogue state which doesn’t want to listen to the UN. “That comment from Munich strikes home”, comments Die Zeit.

To be fair to the public, many people outside the editorial departments in Germany wouldn’t agree with Muñoz’ critics, either.
Federal education minister Anette Schavan, in 2006, promised that “our education system will change so that all pupils can decide on their school careers at every age”. (The question today is: where is the answer to Muñoz report, two years later?) Also, as soon as in February 2006, German parents organizations welcomed Munoz’s visit and said that hints from outside were needed at this stage.

Yes, they are needed. What we do not need are philistine comments from our national upper classes, who apparently fear the mere mention of comprehensive schools more than the snafu.

Written by taide

March 25, 2008 at 6:02 pm

Posted in education

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