Have you heard?


One of Israel’s most ardent enemies, Syria, says it wants peace with the Jewish state.  In fact, according to this particular Syrian diplomat, Israel has the chance to have peace with all of the Arab world, not just Israel’s contiguous neighbors. The latter part most likely is bluster on the part of this diplomat; he can’t possibly equate his one country with all of the Arab world, except that he’s most likely egomaniacal, but this is what he says:

Syria is interested in securing a peace agreement with Israel that would see a normalization of ties and end to the longstanding state of war between the two countries, Damascus’ envoy to the U.S. has said.

“The negotiations are a historic opportunity for Israel to make peace, not just with Syria and Lebanon, but with the whole Arab world,” Ambassador Imad Moustapha said, according to an interview broadcast on Army Radio on Monday.

*snip*


In response to the statements, Peace Now Secretary General Yariv Oppenheimer called on Israel to complete negotiations with Syria while the current Knesset is still in office.

“The government of Israel has an obligation not to miss this chance for peace with Israel, and to present a full peace agreement to the public,” Oppenheimer told Army Radio.

This is pretty significant, because Israel has always said it wanted recognition by its neighbors of its right to exist, which it seems the Syrian is saying is on the table.  But because this is such a desirable result it almost certainly means  there will be a casus belli for Israel to attack the border with Syria and exacerbate tensions so that peace won’t be possible, because peace is not in the long term interests of Israel, territory and natural resources are.   Let’s see how long before such an attack takes place.

Another lie debunked


Remember the July 7, 2005 London city bombings where fifty-six people lost their lives?  It inevitably came down to blame going to Al-Qaeda, although alot of what happened that day was clouded in confusion and open to a lot of speculation.  The actions of the UK government didn’t help matters because they refused to hold any type of inquiry that would answer questions being asked by all in British society, citing how security concerns would be undermined by such efforts!(?)   A great deal was made of the fact that the severity of the blasts, both in damage to property as well as loss of human life, was not characteristic of the Irish Republican Army, an organization which has been at odds with the British government for years, and could only be the work of Al-Qaeda.  By default, the blame has stuck for the last three years.  Now, comes word from the UK, that al-Qaeda is NOT the biggest threat of all the terrorist groups on the British horizon, but rather…..surprise…….the IRA!

Dissident republicans from Northern Ireland are engaged in suspicious activity more than any other radical group in the UK including Islamic extremists, according to security sources.

Statistics from the Home Office of the UK reveal dismal figures regarding arrests and convictions of people for terrorism. More than half of all arrests made for terrorism related offenses were bogus and the people were released without further charges, while the conviction rate for terrorist activity  stands at a paltry 18%.  However, since that fateful day in July,2005, two anti-terrorism laws were inflicted upon UK society which arguably led to the diminished  rights of British citizens and the increased powers of the State which claims to protect them.  Al-Qaeda has served as a useful tool for governments who while claiming to fight it, even when it poses no threat, are also fighting its own citizens.

Quote for the day


“The care of human life and happiness and not their destruction is the first and
only legitimate object of good government.”
Thomas Jefferson

The Bush Administration takes its marching orders


Not long after the Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates said a war with Iran would be disastrous on a number of levels, with his Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen adding he too wasn’t interested in fighting Iran, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak called on the Administration to tighten sanctions against Iran and keep all military options on the table.

The Bush Administration has already passed legislation enacting sanctions against Iran, and Gates in the speech linked to above already said all options should be kept on the table, so what is the significance of Barak’s comments to the Israeli media?   The Israelis are insisting on the logistical use of American military bases in Iraq to strike the Iranians.  If they are not able to convince the Americans to hit Iran, then the next best thing would be to use American materiel to do the job, and as we’ve already noted some forward American bases are five minutes from Iranian nuclear targets.

However, what is more likely is this talk coming from Israel is meant to sabotage any attempts at rapprochement currently being made by Iran to America.  The Iranian president has gone on record with American media saying they, the Iranians, want good relations with the US and will do everything they can to foster such a cordial atmosphere if the US stops being confrontational.  He also repeated his denial that Iran is building nuclear weapons.  Such talk coming out of Tehran has to be somewhat disconcerting to Israel which has built its entire existence on threats of its demise due to hostile neighbors.  Even when there were none able to be a suitable threat, Israel made them up, as they are doing presently with Iran.

No Comment


America, Afghanistan and the Taliban


We were all told how the US had to rid the world of al Qaeda’s Osama bin Laden, the Taliban and save the Afghans from the evil scourge of Islamic fundamentalism.  A lot of people bought into that and/or signed up for it.  Even Laura Bush signed on with her own rhetoric about the need to help the women of Afghanistan overthrow their shackles of oppression represented by the burkha, the Taliban and Islam.  Rarely are acts of imperialism done in the name of the people who live in the occupied country, but  rather in the interests of the occupier.  Therefore, America isn’t really concerned about OBL, the Taliban or Afghans themselves and this news item underscores that point:

Under the far harsher regime of Afghanistan, death for apostasy is still on the statute book, despite the country’s American-backed “liberation” from the tyranny of the Taliban. The Western world realised this when Abdul Rahman, an Afghan who had lived in Germany, was sentenced to die after police found him with a Bible. After pressure from Western governments, he was allowed to go to Italy. What especially startled Westerners was the fact that Afghanistan’s parliament, a product of the democracy for which NATO soldiers are dying, tried to bar Mr Rahman’s exit, and that street protests called for his execution.

One can only wonder what other left overs from the Taliban are being used by the occupiers to oppress the citizens of Afghanistan.

Guess what some are saying is the greatest threat America has ever faced?


And it ain’t al-Qaeda, jihadists, or surprisingly my choice, the press. It’s Republicans! I’m not so sure I wholeheartedly support this notion because there have been a few Republicans who’ve called a spade a spade and denounced what’s going on in the American body politic, but there is a fringe, mentioned in the article whose mention I would like to underscore in the excerpt below.

The neoconned Republican Party is the greatest threat America has ever faced. Let me tell you why.

Republicans think the United States is the salt of the earth and that American hegemony over the rest of the world is not only justified by our great virtue but necessary to our safety. People this full of hubris are incapable of judgment. People incapable of judgment should never be given power.

Republicans have no sympathy for anyone but their own kind. How many Republicans do you know who care a hoot about the plight of the poor, the jobless, the medically uninsured? The government programs that Republicans are always adamant to cut are the ones that help people who need help.

I have yet to hear any of my Republican friends express any concern whatsoever for the 1.2 million Iraqis who have died, and the 4 million who have been displaced, as a result of Bush’s gratuitous invasion. Many tell me that the five- and six-year long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are due to wimpy Americans “who don’t have the balls it takes” to win. Killing and displacing a quarter of the Iraqi population is just a wimpy result of a population that lacks testosterone. Real Americans would have killed them all by now.

Macho patriotic Republicans are perfectly content for US foreign policy to be controlled by Israel. Republican evangelical “christian” churches teach their congregations that America’s purpose in the world is to serve Israel. And these are the flag-wavers.

Neoconservatives, such as Billy Kristol, insist that loyalty to the country means loyalty to the government. Thus, criticizing the government for launching wars of aggression and for violating constitutionally protected civil liberties is, according to neoconservatives, a disloyal act.

In the neoconservative view, there is no place for the voices of citizens: the government makes the decisions, and loyal citizens support the government’s decisions.

In the neocon political system there is no liberty, no democracy, no debate. Dissenters are traitors.

The neoconservative magazine, Commentary, wants the New York Times indicted for telling Americans that the Bush regime was caught violating US law, specifically the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, by spying on Americans without obtaining warrants as required by law. Note that neoconservatives think it is a criminal act for a newspaper to tell its readers that their government is spying on them illegally.

Judging by their behavior, a number of Democrats go along with the neocon view. Thus, the Democrats don’t offer a greatly different profile. They went along with the views that corporate profits and the war on terror take precedence over everything else. They have not used the congressional power that the electorate gave them in the 2006 elections.

The author of this essay is a former official in the Ronald Reagan administration, most probably making him a Republican himself! I applaud him for his courage and honesty. I disagree with him however, when he states towards the end of his article, that Democrats can’t be any worse. In due time, with the same forces at work on the Democratic party they can produce equally disastrous results as we’ll come to see in the near future.

A Quote


The practice of arbitrary imprisonments, has been, in all ages, one of the favorite and most formidable instruments of tyranny. - Alexander Hamilton, Federalist

Don’t quit your day job!


Someone please tell me this candidate for US Senate in Kentucky is NOT a  serious candidate, nor a libertarian! In a radio interview in Kentucky, US Senate candidate Sonny Landham had this to say in response to questions posed to him about his fellow Arab/Muslim Americans.

there has been a holy war going for thousands, and thousands, and thousands of years. Long before we were ever thought of. The Muslims look at infidels. Anyone who is not a Muslim is an infidel. Whether you are a Jew, a Bhuddist, a Catholic, a Protestant, or an atheist, you are still an infidel. They will lie to you, and they will not tell you the truth because it is not a sin for a Muslim to lie to a infidel.

If I had my way, I would stop Arabs coming into this country. And I would take all, uh, non citizens of the United States, finger printing them, and having a complete background check before they set foot into this country.

Tom Dec: Uh, pretty good, how are you? Uh, um, why do you support bombing the OPEC countries if they don’t turn over oil to us, and how exactly is that a libertarian position?

Sonny Landham: Uh, this, that was not quite what I said. My first statement was, do the steps that we have in the switch and drill, and somebody said, well that’s not my diplomatic way and if that doesn’t work, I said I would bomb those camel dung-shovelers back into the sand, and you’re going to wind up having to do it. Now, I’m pro-Israel all the way. As far as my book goes, Israel can do no wrong, Israel has a right to survive. It’s the camel dung-shovelers that say Israel does not have a right to survive, we don’t recognize Israel. Well, pal, I am for Israel. The biggest thing we ever did was to stop Israel…Israel in the six day war.

In case you’re wondering, the other candidates in the race are Democrat Bruce Lunsford and Republican Mitch McConnell, the incumbent.

Knee jerk


The ADL is upset about the appearance of political cartoons in Arab publications throughout the Middle East.  This one is my favorite.

Saying such cartoons are ‘perverse, bogoted and age-old conspiracy theories that portray Israelis and Jews as controlling the candidates’ the ADL published an entire group of them on their website. I would like to offer up, without comment, one of my own caricatures.

Could it be American Jews are Israel’s worst enemy?


There’s no reason for the United States to go to war with Iran or conduct a military strike against Iranian targets.  The only reason such talk graces the printed pages of American newspapers and magazines or finds its way on American airwaves or the ethernet is because of Israel.  It appears however, some in Israel don’t think it’s such a good idea either.  Again and again, former Mossad chief Halevy has downplayed the Iranian threat in articles published in Israeli sources, and again and again his proclamations have been ignored by American media!  What gives?  Could it possibly be that American Jews, many of whom are former leftists turned neocons, are believers in the notion of “permanent revolution“?  Such a notion surely sounds like the global war on terror proclaimed by Bush, which has no end in sight nor success markers and which with the choice replacement of capitalism with democracy would be enough to get the hearts and minds of most Americans enlisted and on board.  More insidious however are those American Jews who are Israel firsters, who put the interest (or rather their perceived interests of Israel) above those of the United States.  In a misguided attempt to help their country of choice, they believe using the full power and might of the US military is enough to keep Israel safe.  The problem is they do so from afar, in the relative safety of the US, whereas some Israelis on the ground in Israel have different ideas of what’s Israel’s interests.

I do like that such leftists turned neocon Israel firsters are easily spotted.  The tactics they are using to engage America with Iran are the same faulty, deceitful tactics they used with Iraq.  Here and here are other examples of  lies straight out of the play book of the Office of Special Plans’, formerly run by Doug Feith  where the reality is completely different.  No doubt there are some Israelis who want war with Iran as there are some Americans but such a war would not serve either of the countries’ long term interests, inflict very high civilian casualties in Iran, Iraq, possibly Israel and could have a more devastating effect globally than the Iraqi war has had to date.

Overstating Our Fear


I was surprised to find an editorial in the corporate press that has some semblance of reason to it regarding the phony war on terror. Written by a veteran CIA employee/operative/bureaucrat, several of the points bear mentioning here and any place else during this election season. It appears both of the presidential candidates are giving in to the war party in Washington which wants an indefinite war against global jihadists. Carle stresses there is no global jihad movement but rather disparate nationalist movements in various parts of the world. One could go on and speculate that what they all have in common is a desire to rid themselves of occupying forces.

The author dismisses al-Qaeda calling them small men and a secondary threat to the United States. Such a statement will not make him popular in the halls of a government that has spent the last seven years building up al-Qaeda as the second Russian coming. In fact Carle says the threat posed by al-Qaeda is an exaggerated one made by this Administration, and cautions Americans not to be fearful. The “nationalist” movements, Carle says hate America because of its freedoms, a rather typical neocon refrain, but he goes on to say such movements are neither interested in attacking America nor capable of overtaking their own societies. The unspoken point there being America need not get involved fighting them.

What I like the most about this piece is the timing. The emotional rollercoster the public has been on because of the bluffs, threats, intimidations of the Administration has taken its toll and seems to have prompted some to take a step back and call for cooler heads to prevail. The author didn’t come right out and say we’ve been fed lies by Bush and company but he says things aren’t as bad as they are made out by some to be. There is no mention of Iran in this peice, but one can certainly draw the same conclusions about that country as has been made about the global war on terror. Good editorial; it’ll take a lot more like these to restore my confidence in the main stream media so I’m not holding my breath.

No comment


The evil of Christian zionism


Two of America’s more quoted Christian evangelists are in the news for the same reason.  Pat Robertson and John Hagee are calling for another war in the Middle East against Iran.  In Robertson’s case he wants the Israelis to hit at or strike Iran.  In one of his more delusional interviews, Robertson asserts:

But with Israel, it’s not a question of whether they can be moderate or extreme. The question is the survival of their nation. And if Iran gets nuclear weapons, they have announced in advance they’re going to use them against Israel. And Israel has no choice but to make some kind of a strike against the Iranian nuclear facilities, and to do so fairly soon.

Nobody wants to do it, but nevertheless, they’re going to have no choice. They do have nuclear submarines they can launch cruise missiles from. I don’t believe the U.S. would allowing a refueling in Iraq, although some people have mentioned something like that.

This is 2002 all over again.  Completely ignoring his own country’s NIE of 2007 which states Iran does not presently have the capacity to build nuclear weapons has dismantled any weapons building program and has shown no signs of starting one, even surreptitiously, Robertson makes more than a leap of faith in his declaration, ‘ when Iranians get nuclear weapons they’ll use them against Israel’.  In fact, the leading religious figure in Iran has said his country is prohibited from using nuclear weapons, nullifying any statement anyone else may or may not make on behalf of Iran.  One interesting note about Robertson’s  statement on Israel not being able to refuel in Iraq is Israel and the US are coordinating closely on tactical issues surrounding Iran.  In fact, Israeli jets have used American military bases in Iraq for some time and the forward most base puts Israel within a 5 minute strike of an Iranian nuclear facility.

John Hagee’s Christian’s United for Israel held their convention in Washington, which could be seen as no more than a political rally for John McCain, who by the way has tried to distance himself from Hagee, and which has as its theme, ‘Your chance to vote for Israel’.  One of the workshops of the convention was Iran: Eye of the storm, which talked about the need to get rid of a “nuclear” Iran.  Israel firster Joe Lieberman spoke at the convention, despite cries from Israeli Jews for him to kick Hagee to the curb, to make the case for sanctions against Iran and warning of an attack if they don’t work.  Lieberman used the same fear mongering expressions based only on conjecture, alleging

A nuclear Iran is a mortal danger to all of our allies in the Middle East–both to the Arabs and Israel–and it is a threat to us. A nuclear Iran would transform the balance of power in the region in the worst possible way. As Iran continues to expand the reach of its missiles, it will soon not just be the Middle East that is threatened, but Europe as well.

The President of Iran has made his genocidal intentions toward Israel clear. And he regularly leads his Iranian audiences in chanting “Death to America.”

It’s interesting Americans and Israelis both want the US to attack Iran but for different reasons.  The US wants  to protect its ally, while the Israelis want Americans to do it in order to spare Israelis the nuclear option. Either way, the use of religious Christian figures to call for war increasingly makes Islam seem like the ‘religion of peace’ indeed.

Are the Brits finally catching on?


It’s not enough the US relied on the faulty Downing Street memo and used its existence as an excuse to go to war in Iraq.  Effectively blaming the British for America’s mistake, the British government still seemed to be in synch with US policy in Iraq.  Well, maybe not anymore.  Now it appears the British government is questioning the integrity of US leaders, including George Bush when it comes to torture.    There is a very long paper trail  which indict the Bush Administration in it’s decision to torture, or bend the rules concerning torture of people it has captured in this phony war on terror, so there is plenty for the British to hang their hat on when condemning US policy.  Citing a committee report which

said there were ‘serious implications’ of the striking inconsistencies between British ministers continuing to believe the Bush administration when it denies using torture. ‘The UK can no longer rely on US assurances that it does not use torture, and we recommend that the government does not rely on such assurances in the future,’ said the committee. ‘We also recommend that the government should immediately carry out an exhaustive analysis of current US interrogation techniques on the basis of such information as is publicly available or which can be supplied by the US.’

it marks a definite shift in British attitudes towards  America.  This observer only wishes such a shift began four years earlier before headlines such as these graced papers around the world:

British troops in torture scandal

British troops accused of sexually abusing Iraqi boy, 14

British soldiers tortured Iraqi civilian to death…

What’s up with the NYT


The New York Times’ track record over the last seven years has been dismal. First off their reporters were nothing more than mouthpieces for this Administration’s call to war, which led to one of them Judith Miller leaving that paper. They followed up her departure, sometime later, hiring William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, who also has a losing track record when it comes to reporting or commenting on the Iraq war. The NYT has on its staff the likes of Thomas Friedman, whose ‘suck on this’ explanation of why we went to war in Iraq is something no one should take seriously, including his managers. So I see where they’ve brought on another loser, who graced the editorial pages with a piece that is both incendiary as well as pathetic.

Benny Morris’ editorial entitled, Using Bombs to Stave off war, is already a contradiction in terms, because usually bombs are a sign of war, and it gets progressively worse after that. The only saving grace to this editorial is the opening sentence, word, which seems to be placed there either as foreboding, or tongue in cheek. What really bugs me is the nonchalant attitude Morris uses to talk about killing people with whom he disagrees. We won’t even talk about the factual errors in his piece which he uses to promote, incite war, such as his assertion that Iran’s on a march toward nuclear weaponry or that the President of Iran has threatened the existence of Israel, and therefore the Israelis are afraid of him. (The latter is hilarious, even Morris’ own generals have said Iran poses no existential threat to their country.) But this is the kind of misleading reporting, editorializing the NYT has come to be known by the last seven years, and there’s no indication it’s going to get any better. If you’re interested in a good laugh however, or want to be reminded of just how bad a job the Times does informing its readers, then check out the Morris editorial here. Remember, Li-on!

The convergence of zionism and Judaism


I believe it’s an unspoken truth that the two are inextricably related so much so that the lines are blurred and many people see them as one.  I don’t however, for in my opinion zionism is a political movement dedicated to the return of Jews to a certain part of the world at the expense of the people already living there, whereas Judaism is a belief in God, or G_d as I’ve seen some people write it while not quite knowing why they do it that way, that has some semblance of justice and fairness for all His creation.  Perhaps that’s my projection of ANY religion that takes off from the point of a benign and benevolent Creator, which I see wholly inconsistent with oppression and genocide, the likes of which are taking place in the occupied territories of Palestine.

I was very happy to hear that the Saudi regime initiated an interfaith meeting where they invited people from the major religions to Spain to talk about what they have in common and how they could foster better relations with one another. There’s certainly a lot to talk about there in this atmosphere of Islamophobia,  although I’m sure members of other faiths have plenty to talk about with Muslims.  The Saudis are generally very non-confrontational so they avoided inviting any religious representatives of Christianity, Islam or Judaism, from Palestine or Israel and there was the beginning of a conference whose doom was sealed before it ever got started.  Jews wanted Israeli Jews present probably because they thought their presence would indicate de facto recognition of Israel by the Saudis who until now have not recognized that state.  Moreover they were not to pleased with the mention of “zionism” in anything other than a good light.  Most likely, the conference organizers don’t equate zionism with Judaism as some Jews would like.  That criticism of “zionism” which I think had no place in an interfaith conference but whose defense by some Jews highlights the confusion between religion and politics, as it pertains to Judaism.  Some of the Jewish participants, and most notably one Rabbi David Rosen of the American Jewish Committee said the conference would be little more than a photo opportunity unless it led to a follow-up in Saudi Arabia with Israeli Jews which seems to mean Jews won’t participate in a follow-up conference unless those two conditions are met: Israeli Jews are invited and it take place in Saudi Arabia. However,  not all Jewish participants were in such a conundrum about their religion and the state of Israel and were optimistic about the chances for the future.  The identification of a religion with a nation state has no place in an interfaith dialogue, especially one with as poor a human rights record as Israel.  That some Jewish members made that connection is more than unfortunate.

Because they can


US tax dollars at work in the West Bank of Palestine.

The “Ten Commandments” of race and genetics


A recent article from newscientist.com which talks about the genetics of humanity puts to rest, sort of, all the “science” of yesterday which was used to denigrate people based on race, to a lower status in society.

1. All races are created equal

No genetic data has ever shown that one group of people is inherently superior to another. Equality is a moral value central to the idea of human rights; discrimination against any group should never be tolerated.

2. An Argentinian and an Australian are more likely to have differences in their DNA than two Argentinians

Groups of human beings have moved around throughout history. Those that share the same culture, language or location tend to have different genetic variations than other groups. This is becoming less true, though, as populations mix.

3. A person’s history isn’t written only in his or her genes

Everyone’s genetic material carries a useful, though incomplete, map of his or her ancestors’ travels. Studies looking for health disparities between individuals shouldn’t rely solely on this identity. They should also consider a person’s cultural background.

4: Members of the same race may have different underlying genetics

Social definitions of what it means to be “Hispanic” or “black” have changed over time. People who claim the same race may actually have very different genetic histories.

5. Nature and nurture play an important part in our behavior

Trying to use genetic differences between groups to show differences in intelligence, violent behaviors or the ability to throw a ball is an oversimplification of much more complicated interactions between genetics and environment.

6. Researchers should be careful about using racial groups when designing experiments

When scientists decide to divide their subjects into groups based on ethnicity, they need to be clear about why and how these divisions are made to avoid contributing to stereotypes.

7. Medicine should focus on the individual, not the race

Although some diseases are connected to genetic markers, these markers tend to be found in many different racial groups. Overemphasising genetics may promote racist views or focus attention on a group when it should be on the individual.

8. The study of genetics requires cooperation between experts in many different fields

Human disease is the product of a mishmash of factors: genetic, cultural, economic and behavioral. Interdisciplinary efforts that involve the social sciences are more likely to be successful.

9. Oversimplified science feeds popular misconceptions

Policy makers should be careful about simplifying and politicising scientific data. When presenting science to the public, the media should address the limitations of race-related research.

10. Genetics 101 should include a history of racism

Any high school or college student learning about genetics should also learn about misguided attempts in the past to use science to justify racism. New textbooks should be developed for this purpose.

A tale of two cultures


This or that?

Differences in east vs west were highlighted by two different stories about the actions and beliefs of people different from the indigenous people of the society where they lived. First off there is the story of Faiza M. a Moroccan woman who is married to a French citizen and has three children, all of them born in France with him, but who is herself not a French citizen yet. She wears the abaya and niqaab and claims to be a salafi which means, according to French press, she

showed up with the robes of a woman from the Arabian peninsula, with a veil covering her face and leaving only a slit for her eyes.

The couple had admitted that they are Salafi, a movement of Islam which advocates a literal and rigorous reading of the Koran, following the lifestyle of Mohammed’s original followers.

Faiza M. had confirmed that she was not veiled when she lived in Morocco and that she had adopted the dress after arriving in France at the request of her husband, and that she does so more out of habit than conviction.

The government commissioner says that her statement show that she leads leads a secluded life, cut off from French society. She does not know about laïcité or the right to vote and she lives in total submission to the men in her family. Faiza M. appears to think that this [is] normal and doesn’t think of contesting this submission. Prada-Bordenave says this is indicative of the lack of adherence to the basic values of French society.

At the same time, Faiza M. speaks French, which is a criteria for citizenship, and during her pregnancy was checked by a male gynecologist.

On the basis of that she was denied her request for appeal to the original court order which denied her immigration status. The denial was based on the principle of gender equality which it’s claimed she had not internalized nor practiced. It was the first time in France the Council of State took into account the level of religious practice to determine a foreigner’s ability to integrate.

I don’t understand why the signs of this weren’t seen years earlier when France banned the hijab in public schools for young Muslim women. If the alternative of private schools is available to Muslims then the public school ban is not insurmountable, but there is no alternative to belief. You either have one and practice it or you don’t. I think the logical extension of what’s going on in France is people will not be allowed to pray in houses of worship not sanctioned by the Government of France, nor will people be allowed to give their children names they feel are indicative of their culture. Most likely I’m being alarmist but the Islamophobia that reigns in western Europe and the US has unlimited potential, and this recent decision shows that. Until now the Muslim response to this has been muted.

Contrast that with what took place in Dubai, UAE recently.  Michelle Palmer is facing six years in prison and expulsion from the UAE for being found having sex on a public beach, public intoxication and assaulting a police officer.  Ms. Palmer had been living in the UAE for three years before her run in with the law, working and living large like most other British expats in that country.  One of the manifestations of that is they get together for brunches which include alcohol, socializing with one another according to their customs in the UK.  However, not all of those customs fly in the UAE so when Ms. Palmer,  who had been drinking all day long,and her suitor were caught once in a rather intimate position by a member of the local constabulary and warned and caught a second time she was taken to police headquarters where she became belligerent and found to be under the influence of alcohol.  Dubai is pretty lenient when it comes to excesses of the flesh….as long as they don’t become an embarrassment to the establishment, and most expats there know that.

As well as attracting lurid headlines, Miss Palmer’s case has focused attention on the fast-paced lifestyles of Dubai’s young British expats who are arriving in ever-increasing numbers seeking tax-free wealth and good times.

‘It is the new land of opportunity,’ said commercial property lawyer Nick Armitage, who has been based in Dubai for two years. We live in a bubble, a kind of fantasy world of luxury living and, if you want it, endless partying.’

*snip*

In Dubai, Friday brunch has grown into an institution and offers an ideal opportunity to witness the British expats at play. The parties are held at hotels and range from the sedate to the raucous – and none is more raucous than brunch at the Meridien.

For about £70 a head the guests – lawyers, property developers, airline crew, building workers, architects, but few, if any, tourists – are given unlimited Bollinger champagne and a buffet meal.

‘It all starts off quite sophisticated,’ said property consultant John Burdon, 31, originally from Weston-super-Mare. ‘But when it gets going that wears off and the spirit of Magaluf takes hold. People just want to have fun and get absolutely smashed.

‘I was thinking of going back to England because I do miss it,’ said Mr Burdon. ‘But we are all earning much more than we did back home and life here is good. You can fill up your car with petrol for six quid. So with the fuel crisis and the credit crunch I’m staying here.

‘I’d miss these brunches if I left – there is nothing like them in Britain. I love them.’

Life is good in the UAE for expats, and especially those who are prudent.  If Ms. Palmer wanted a tryst with her lover I would suggest either a hotel room or the residence where either of them lived, but if that’s not available and you happen to find yourself on the beach, heed the first warning given to you by the police and cease and desist from lascivious behavior.

So here are two stories where cultures collide.  In one a person is denied participation in a society because of religious beliefs that are interpreted as being against the values of a country and in the other a person is found to have broken the law because of actions that are clearly stated as illegal, recognized as such by most governments of the world and well known  by the offender.

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