November 03, 2009
Iran to Obama: "Fuck you, strong letter to follow..."
Today's WaPo has an interesting piece reporting on a speech Tuesday by Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
"Iran's supreme leader, spurning what he described as several personal overtures from President Obama, warned Tuesday that negotiating with the United States would be "naive and perverted" and that Iranian politicians should not be "deceived" into starting such talks."
So much for diplomacy. . .
December 19, 2007
Update on Steven Vincent & Nour Khal
Today's LAT has an excellent feature by Erika Hayasaki following up on the Steven Vincent story. Vincent, as you may remember, was an independent journalist murdered in Iraq by radical Shiite militiamen in Basra during August 2005. He was also the author of In The Red Zone, which chronicled his travels in Iraq. If you haven't already read it, it is worth a look.
The story is accompanied by several great photos by Carolyn Cole of Vincent's widow, Lisa Ramaci, and Nour Khal, his friend and translator who was seriously wounded when Vincent was killed. Khal is now living with Ramaci in the East Village apartment she and Vincent had shared.
November 21, 2006
Our Man in Al Queda
Sunday's UK Times featured an excerpt from a book written by a former Al Queda trainee, "Omar Nasiri" (a psuedonym). If the excerpt is representative of the rest of the book, Inside the Jihad: My Life with Al Qaeda: A Spy's Story, looks to be an interesting read. Here is a taste:
Abu Hamza looked at me with his one good eye as we were introduced. “Masha’Allah, brother,” he said. “Can you meet me in the office after prayers?” “Of course,” I told him.
When prayers were finished I stood outside the office on the first floor of the Finsbury Park mosque in north London. Hamza approached with a young boy by his side. He gestured with his hook and the boy opened the door for him. We sat on the floor and Hamza asked the boy to bring us tea.
Hamza asked me which of the camps in Afghanistan I had been in, and I told him. Then I leant forward slightly. “I met someone you know,” I said in a conspiratorial voice. Hamza raised his brow just slightly.
“I trained with Assad Allah,” I told him. “He told me about the nitroglycerine, and how you lost your hands.” Hamza looked away. “Brother,” he whispered, not meeting my gaze, “please don’t share that story with anyone.”
As I was to learn later, Hamza claimed he had lost his hands defusing a landmine on the front lines in Afghanistan. I knew the real story.
October 19, 2006
New Thinking on Iraq
Jonah Goldberg has an excellent column in today's LAT with some new ideas regarding Iraq. Essentially, he suggests holding a referendum in Iraq on whether or not US troops should remain in that country until the Iraqi government decides they are no longer needed or to leave immediately.
It's an interesting idea.
October 03, 2006
Death of a Hero
Marine Lance Corporal Christopher Adlesperger was killed during combat operations in Fallujah in December last year. He has been nominated for the Congressional Medal of Honor for his bravery under fire during the battle to retake the city the previous month. If his nomination is approved, he will be the first Marine awarded the Medal since Vietnam.
The LAT's Tony Perry has an excellent piece describing Corporal Adlesperger's life and how he risked his life to protect fellow Marines. It is well worth reading.
August 30, 2006
Hamas, blaming the victims!
From today's UK Telegraph:
Ghazi Hamad, the Hamas government's official spokesman, said Palestinians had been "attacked by the bacteria of stupidity".
"The anarchy, chaos, pointless murders, the plundering of lands, family feuds … what do all of these have to do with the occupation?" he asked in the opinion piece published in the Palestinian newspaper, al-Ayyam. "We have always been accustomed to pinning our failures on others, and conspiratorial thinking is still widespread among us."
He was particularly scathing about the failure of the Palestinians to make a success of the Gaza Strip, the territory that Israel effectively surrendered a year ago.
"When you walk around in Gaza, you cannot help but avert your eyes from what you see: indescribable anarchy, policemen that nobody cares about, youth proudly carrying weapons. From time to time you hear that so-and-so was murdered in the middle of the night, and the response comes quickly the next morning. Large families carry weapons in tribal wars against other families.
"The reality in which we are living in Gaza can only be described as miserable and wretched, and as a failure in every sense of the word."
August 26, 2006
City of Brotherly Love vs Military Service in Iraq
According to an analysis in the Washington Post, being a young black man in Philadelphia is more dangerous than being a US soldier in Iraq. . .
August 17, 2006
Today's WaPo runs a Reuters story by Parisa Hafezi reporting on the opening of Iran's holocaust cartoon contest at the Museum of Palestine Contemporary Art in Teheran. (You remember this contest, which had been announced by one of Iran's leading newspapers in the wake of the furore over Muslim protests of the Danish Islamic cartoons.) According to Masoud Shojai, the head of Iran's Cartoon House, the contest "is a test of the boundaries of free speech espoused by Western countries."
While the exhibit consists of more than 200 cartoons, the only one shown on the organizer's web site is pretty tame:
While there are plenty of links to photos of various Iranian dignitaries touring the exhibition (including Iran's Minister of Culture, who appeared to be enjoying himself), it's hard to find any images of the actual cartoons. (Perhaps because most of them are terrible, but I suppose the murder of more than 6 million people is tough material for any cartoonist to work with.) However, I did manage to track down some of the cartoons at an Iranian website called IRFP.
If the Iranian editors expect these cartoons to provoke outraged public demonstrations against Iran, violent riots, and mobs of angry Zionists burning down Iranian embassies throughout the world, they are going to be sadly disappointed. (The IRFP's website has this amusing warning: "Attention Regarding to clarification of the issue of "Holocaust" this website possibly will be closed by United States, in this case please refer to the following address: www.irancartoon.com www.adlroom.com www.sharifnews.com [sic]")
As far as I can tell, the only Israeli reaction has come from the privately run Israel News Agency, which has launched a marketing campaign to ensure that people searching for "iran holocaust cartoons" will be directed to the INA's web site where holocaust cartoons are interspersed with photos and facts about the real holocaust. Also worthy of note is the Anti-Defamation League's web page showing examples of the Arab media's routine portrayals of jews and Israel.
I guess the Western commitment to free speech and religious tolerance has withstood this "test."
August 11, 2006
Old time religion
You've gotta love how becoming a devout Muslim seems to often lead directly to study of bomb-making techniques.
This fellow Mohammed (pbuh) has a lot to answer for.
August 07, 2006
I Remember . . .
. . . sometime after 9/11, driving somewhere in Manhattan in a yellow taxi driven by a middle aged guy from Saudi Arabia. I asked him, as I often did with middle eastern looking people at that time, whether people were treating him badly because of 9/11. Perhaps touched by my concern, he turned to me and asked me why Mayor Giuliani had rejected a $10 million donation for disaster relief from Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal? He seemed to be genuinely confused about why New Yorkers were offended by this generous offer.
I remember trying to explain to him that people were angry because the Prince's statement about US policies towards Israel and the Palestinians were inappropriate, that they sought to justify the terrorists' violence against American civilians. The poor man was puzzled by my response. He said it was all so simple: if the US were only to stop supporting Israel, "this whole problem" would go away. The Saudi people had no quarrel with the American people, they only objected to our government's policies towards Israel.
I was reminded about this incident by Bernard-Henri Lévy's piece about Israel in this week's NYT Magazine. It's worth reading for many reasons, but Levy drives home the point that Israel is on the front line of the West's fight against Islamofascism. And as I tried to explain to my Saudi cabbie, the US will never abandon Israel, not because it is a Jewish state, but because it is the only western democracy in the Middle East.
I only hope I was right about that.