South Africa and her Muslims got it right!


America needs to sit back and take a page from the South African playbook on how to handle religious bigotry.

A judge in Johannesburg, South Africa, has blocked a plan by a Muslim to burn Bibles on the anniversary of Sept. 11.

An Islamic intellectual organization, Scholars of the Truth, had sought the order. It bans the burning of any holy books. “I’m very pleased the judge came to this decision. Not only did he ban this protest but he also banned other people from burning the Bible,” The Christian Scientist Monitor quoted plaintiff’s lawyer Yasmin Omar as saying.

The order also covers the burning of other holy books, including the Koran. Mohammed Vawda planned to burn the Bibles in response to a plan to burn hundreds of copies of the Koran in Gainesville, Florida. The preacher pushing the Florida book burning has backed down.

“What Mr. Vawda wanted to do is not just morally wrong but is an affront to Islam. We regard Jesus as a prophet who is part of the Koran so if he burns the Bible, he is burning part of the Koran,” said Omar.

There are an estimated 1 million Muslims in South Africa and 30 million Christians. Judge Sita Kolbe issued his ruling after a four-minute hearing.

Did anyone notice how, a) it was a Muslim organization that sought the ban and b) it was such a no brainer it took only 4 minutes for the judge to assent and set it in motion?!?  Too bad the wheels of American justice don’t turn as quickly in such matters.  We could learn a thing or two from our brothers in South Africa.  Viva Mandela!

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Main Stream Media At it Again-What the AP left out of Obama’s speech


The AP posted a transcipt of Obama’s speech in Cairo, but this is what they left out:

Threatening Israel with destruction — or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews — is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.

On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people — Muslims and Christians — have suffered in pursuit of a homeland.  For more than 60 years they’ve endured the pain of dislocation.  Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead.  They endure the daily humiliations — large and small — that come with occupation.  So let there be no doubt:  The situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable.  And America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.  (Applause.)

For decades then, there has been a stalemate:  two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive.  It’s easy to point fingers — for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought about by Israel’s founding, and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history from within its borders as well as beyond.  But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth:  The only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security.  (Applause.)

That is in Israel’s interest, Palestine’s interest, America’s interest, and the world’s interest.  And that is why I intend to personally pursue this outcome with all the patience and dedication that the task requires.  (Applause.)  The obligations — the obligations that the parties have agreed to under the road map are clear.  For peace to come, it is time for them — and all of us — to live up to our responsibilities.

Palestinians must abandon violence.  Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and it does not succeed.  For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation.  But it was not violence that won full and equal rights.  It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America’s founding.  This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia.  It’s a story with a simple truth:  that violence is a dead end.  It is a sign neither of courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus.  That’s not how moral authority is claimed; that’s how it is surrendered.

Now is the time for Palestinians to focus on what they can build.  The Palestinian Authority must develop its capacity to govern, with institutions that serve the needs of its people. Hamas does have support among some Palestinians, but they also have to recognize they have responsibilities.  To play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, recognize Israel’s right to exist.

At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel’s right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine’s.  The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.  (Applause.)  This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace.  It is time for these settlements to stop.  (Applause.)

And Israel must also live up to its obligation to ensure that Palestinians can live and work and develop their society.  Just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel’s security; neither does the continuing lack of opportunity in the West Bank. Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be a critical part of a road to peace, and Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress.

And finally, the Arab states must recognize that the Arab Peace Initiative was an important beginning, but not the end of their responsibilities.  The Arab-Israeli conflict should no longer be used to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems.  Instead, it must be a cause for action to help the Palestinian people develop the institutions that will sustain their state, to recognize Israel’s legitimacy, and to choose progress over a self-defeating focus on the past.

America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, and we will say in public what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs.  (Applause.)  We cannot impose peace.  But privately, many Muslims recognize that Israel will not go away.  Likewise, many Israelis recognize the need for a Palestinian state.  It is time for us to act on what everyone knows to be true.

Too many tears have been shed.  Too much blood has been shed.  All of us have a responsibility to work for the day when the mothers of Israelis and Palestinians can see their children grow up without fear; when the Holy Land of the three great faiths is the place of peace that God intended it to be; when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra — (applause) — as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed, peace be upon them, joined in prayer.  (Applause.)

The third source of tension is our shared interest in the rights and responsibilities of nations on nuclear weapons.

This issue has been a source of tension between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran.  For many years, Iran has defined itself in part by its opposition to my country, and there is in fact a tumultuous history between us.  In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government.  Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has played a role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians.  This history is well known.  Rather than remain trapped in the past, I’ve made it clear to Iran’s leaders and people that my country is prepared to move forward.  The question now is not what Iran is against, but rather what future it wants to build.

I recognize it will be hard to overcome decades of mistrust, but we will proceed with courage, rectitude, and resolve.  There will be many issues to discuss between our two countries, and we are willing to move forward without preconditions on the basis of mutual respect.  But it is clear to all concerned that when it comes to nuclear weapons, we have reached a decisive point.  This is not simply about America’s interests.

Hat tip to Kabobfest.

Time to stop being afraid of Israel


The title above comes from a very well written piece which explores what’s behind the US’ inactivity or paralysis when it has to confront the crimes of the Israeli government.  In it, the author states

Every time Israel doesn’t something mean, cruel or stupid you can almost hear the sound of liberals and progressives rushing for a place to hide. Strip away the rhetoric and the excuses and the problem basically comes down to the fact that people don’t like being called anti-Semitic.

Israel’s attack on Gaza, for example, is not only vicious, inexcusable and a violation of international law, it is a direct attempt to interfere with American politics by making sure Obama’s hands are completely tied.
If, the other hand, one feels that it is far worst to support a cruel and unnecessary war than it is to be labeled an anti-Semite then it may be time to be as brave in the face of right wing Jewish accusations as we are confronting criticism by Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh. It is, after all, a partner in illogic – of the sort where unsupportable accusations are used to drown actual facts – such as the constant evocation of the Holocaust in which past victims are shamefully dishonored by using them to justify the creation of still more victims. Once you take the simple liberating step of saying that you don’t give a damn what Abe Foxman says about you, then the whole Mid East issue takes on a new look.

For example, you are suddenly free to wonder whether some sort of boycott against Israel might not be worthwhile. Such a boycott might include all of the following: AOL Time Warner, Coca-Cola, Disney, Estee Lauder, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, L’Oreal, Nokia, Revlon, Sara Lee, Home Depot, Starbucks, Timberland, or McDonald’s. Or it might include just one for ease of organizing.

Another approach would be a campaign to cut aid to Israel. A modest ten percent – $300 million – would start to make the point.But whatever the approach one prefers, we should all take a New Year’s vow not to be afraid of pro-Israeli extremists anymore. They are bullies and it’s long past time that we started treating them as such.

The Israeli lie machine keeps rumbling on in the absence of the western media’s presence in Gaza.  They are purposely keeping out corporate media from Gaza.  This is the same media that usually passes on every Israeli excuse and propaganda generated by the government’s spin doctors,  so the atrocities being committed in Gaza must be of a magnitude bad enough to keep others from witnessing them. The massacre of Palestinians at the UNRWA school is one example where the Israelis tried to explain away their crime in the absence of media intrusion and presence, by blaming Hamas, but it backfired on them.  Initially the Israelis claimed they were responding to Hamas fire from the school and in the process killed 46 or more Palestinian civilians, but had to back down from the assertion after being pressed hard by the UN to put up or shut up.

What the Israelis and the media are hoping is the initial shock over the mounting death toll will be replaced with indifference and eventually ignored altogether, and in the absence of any attention at all the killing and expulsion of people from their homes can continue.