Bad news from The Jerusalem Post

July 29, 2006 at 4:56 am (Islamism, Israel, Middle East, News, The United States)

A few days ago, a burnt body was found in the trunk of an Israeli car. Israeli police began investigating. From “Aksa Brigades claim murder of Yakir resident” by Staff of The Jerusalem Post, we learn:

The Aksa Martyrs’ Brigades claimed responsibility on Friday night for the murder of 60-year-old Yakir resident Dr. Daniel Ya’akovi.

Ya’akovi was reported missing before his remains were found. For reference, Yakir is in the West Bank.

So: Arab terrorists killed and burned the remains of an Israeli.

News number two: an assailant claiming to be a Muslim American entered into the building of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle in downtown Seattle and opened fire, killing 1 and injuring 5. More can be read in “1 dead, 5 wounded in attack on Seattle Jewish Federation” by the Associated Press, available through The Jerusalem Post.

I’d say I’d wait breathlessly for Muslims worldwide to denounce this attack, but I don’t want to die of asphyxiation.

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Reading and writing Urdu vs. Hindi

July 28, 2006 at 9:46 pm (Languages, Urdu/Hindi)

Reading Hindi is far easier than reading Urdu. This is because Urdu is based on Arabic, which is a script that indicates consonants for the most part. So when I come across a word in Urdu I have not come across before, I have to guess what the vowels may be. It doesn’t help that consonants used as vowels have no standard use: it could indicate a short vowel or a long vowel or a consonant. In some cases, pronunciation may not correspond exactly with the script. An example is the Urdu for “forgiveness”: according to its script (and the Arabic it came from), it should be pronounced as “mucāf”; instead, it is pronounced as “māf.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Going to Pakistan

July 28, 2006 at 9:15 pm (Pakistan, Personal, South Asia)

I am going to be in Pakistan for about two weeks. I don’t really want to go, but my parents made an executive decision. Rather than annoy them any more, I’m going along with my father.

I don’t really like being in Pakistan for a number of reasons. Some of them are:
1. The heat. No matter what time of the year it is, it’s too hot for me. I prefer the cold. Even in the winter I need a fan or air conditioner.

2. Brownouts and blackouts. A brownout is when electricity fluctuates or comes in less-than-optimal amounts, dimming light and, more importantly, shutting down air conditioners and slowing down fans. A blackout is when electricity goes out completely. In Urdu when we say that the electricity is out (referring to a blackout) we say بتی چلی گئ; बत्ती चली गई; battī chalī ga’ī; “the light has gone away,” or بجلی چلی گئ; बिज्ली चली गई; bijlī chalī ga’ī; “the electricity has gone away.”

Both بتی / बत्ती / battī (“light”) and بجلی / बिज्ली / bijlī (“electricity”) are feminine. Don’t know if this says anything about feminine nature. 😉

3. Dirt. Pakistan is very dirty and messy. Yech. So dusty, so much pollution. Very unpleasant.

4. Idiotic people. Let us just say that some people can make one doubt how humans ever got to be intelligent and capable of progress.

5. Water. When in Pakistan, I can only drink bottled water. Not even boiled water will do. Carrying around bottles of bottled water becomes tedious after a while.

In an unrelated issue, tt times there is a shortage of running water. Where we are located, this is not so much the case, but if it happens I get very irritable. I need my daily shower. Water issues complicate this.

6. Need for caution. One has to be careful what one says and does in Pakistan. What I can get away with here in the United States I cannot get away with in Pakistan. I usually don’t do anythign stupid, but it gets annoying knowing I am not free and having to put up with Pakistani society’s restrictions.

7. Food. I love the food, no question about it. Problem is that I cannot eat everything, even what I’d like to eat. I have to be careful or else I might get sick. I cannot eat anything that has not been cooked. Even good food from certain restaurants cannot be had because they (the restaurants and their cooking facilities) are unsanitary.

I could go on and on. But I’m going anyway, so I hope to entertain you all with more tales of Pakistan.

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History: neither here nor there

July 28, 2006 at 5:58 am (Blogs, History, Personal)

One of the courses I took while in college was American history. I expected the course to be the regular regurgitation of liberal claptrap: whites are evil, they enslaved peoples, so on and so forth. But I needed to take the course for a distribution requirement.

I was actually quite surprised. The latest post of Matthew Brown of Socrates’ Classroom, “Does Anybody Really Know What Time, er Truth Is?”, actually reminded me of this.

The one issue that was perhaps most indicative of how history ought to be taught was how the professor and his TAs dealt with the issue of slavery. We read a number of accounts and versions of the issue, which truly opened my eyes. Whereas I was wary of the old “white men enslaved the black man” canard, I truly did not expect to become aware of how racially nuanced this issue actually is. (It also made me begin smirking when Americans of African descent said they converted to Islam (or to the Nation of Islam) as their ancestral religion, shaking off the shakles of the white man, when Muslims in Africa were some of the primary enslavers and slave traders in Africa. The much-maligned “white man” bought the slaves from other Africans, Africans who enslaved other Africans. My, what a tortured story we weave in society nevertheless!)

History is truly something quite marvellous to study. It helps to view issues from different perspectives and to keep in mind that various debates continue to rage within the academic community regarding history: what happened, how important it was, and so on.

I recommend reading Matthew Brown’s post.

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July 27, 2006 at 1:52 pm (Personal)

Sorry for the lack of posting.

Lackage may continue for a few more days. Busy running errands.

Thanks for your patience!

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Icke: I’m not an anti-Semite; they’re reptiles, not Jews.

July 24, 2006 at 9:25 pm (Amusement, Blogs)

In Wikipedia’s article for some guy named David Icke, it is written (emphasis added):

Icke has further claimed that a small group of Jews, namely the Rothschild family — who are really a “reptilian humanoid bloodline” — secretly financed Adolf Hitler and supported the Holocaust. As a result, Icke’s speaking tours at one time attracted the interest of British neo-Nazis such as Combat 18, and he continues to face opposition from Jewish and anti-racist groups such as the Anti-Defamation League in Canada. Icke has strongly denied that he is an anti-Semite, stressing that the Rothschilds are reptiles, not Jews.

I don’t know why, but that just cracks me up.

In other news, HayZeus of HayZeus, Inc. may in big trouble because of me, it seems. Me and my inquisitiveness and my big mouth.

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Some good points from The Jerusalem Post concerning Lebanon and Palestinians

July 24, 2006 at 1:45 am (Arabs, International community, Islamism, Israel, Middle East, Palestinian Territories)

“In Washington: Lebanon is different” (July 20, 2006) by M.J. Rosenberg of The Jerusalem Post makes a number of interesting points:

The attacks on northern Israel are not about the Palestinians. Nor are they the result of any legitimate grievance Hizbullah may have with Israel. There are no such grievances. Neither Hizbullah nor Lebanon has outstanding claims against Israel.

It is interesting that besides invoking Hezbollah prisoners in Israel, Hezbollah has no reason to attack or oppose Israel. Hezbollah brought this situation on themselves.

Israel and the US should be exploiting the differences between Palestinian factions, helping to create new alignments of relative moderates rather than relegating all Palestinian nationalists to the category of terrorists and thereby virtually forcing all Palestinians into radical unity.

That is not necessary with Hizbullah. They are simply thugs who have to be defeated or rendered harmless. But Israelis and Palestinians are destined to share one land. Their fates are intertwined.

I am still somewhat wary of dealing with terrorist organizations. But there is nevertheless some wisdom here.

But first the violence has to stop. If it doesn’t, the noisy but relatively harmless Kassams will soon be replaced by missiles which reach farther and inflict far more damage.

I am sure this is what Israel is fearing, and why, for example, it imposed a naval blockade on the Gaza Strip once Hamas came into power. But, where there is a will, there is a way. If Hamas does launch a missile, I’m afraid Israel will reoccupy the Gaza Strip and eradicate every terrorist cell. Whatever suffering has been and will be “inflicted” on the Palestinians is ultimately the fault of the terrorist groups.

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Hezbollah sleeper cells activated

July 23, 2006 at 8:52 pm (Islamism, Israel, Middle East)

Hezbollah has activated its international cells with the aim of striking at Israeli and Jewish targets.

For more information, please read “Sleeper Hizbullah cells overseas have ‘reawakened'” by Yaakov Katz of The Jerusalem Post.

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US giving Israel leeway: win-win

July 23, 2006 at 8:42 pm (Islamism, Israel, Middle East, Palestinian Territories, The United States, US Government)

In a previous post (“America: Right and Wrong Reasons for Inaction”), I fisked an article by Nathan Guttman of The Jerusalem Post, disagreeing with his opinions on why America has not sought to become directly involved in the Arab-Israeli War.

On July 20, he wrote another article (“US Affairs: Seal of approval”) revising his opinion:

What seemed in the first days of the conflict to be just another demonstration of the administration’s helplessness in facing international crises turned out to be a well-devised strategy led by the White House and State Department. It wasn’t because President Bush was too busy with the G-8 gathering, nor was it the fact that the US has little power to pressure any of the sides in the region. The reason for the administration’s inactivity was simply the belief that there was no need to intervene, that Israel was doing a fine job and that it deserved to be cut some slack to make the most of the military operation.

But giving Israel leeway is not an expression of a sudden American belief that Middle Eastern countries should be left to their own devices. It is mainly a result of a combination of American interests and a sense that an opportunity is looming for getting some things straight in the troubled region.

He also points out:

Veteran Middle East mediator Dennis Ross suggested this week that the surprising reaction of Saudi Arabia, condemning Hizbullah and blaming it for dragging Lebanon into war, could be the sign of a significant shift.

According to Ross, the Saudi understanding that Iran is using the Lebanese conflict, and perhaps the Palestinian one too, for its own interest, can lead to a joint “Arab umbrella” in which Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan join forces to help strengthen the Lebanese government and keep Hizbullah sidelined. Further down the road this “umbrella” could maybe even take action to bolster the moderate forces in the Palestinian Authority to curb Hamas. Such a grand plan may be just a pipedream right now, but if the current conflict ends with anything similar to such a change in the reality on the ground, this would be the first and most important achievement the US has had regarding the Iranian issue for years.

His entire article is edifying: I’d recommend reading it.

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The real reason for the Arab-Israeli War

July 23, 2006 at 3:41 am (Amusement, Arab society, Homosexuality, Islam, Islamism, Israel, Judaism, Middle East, News, Palestinian Territories, Religion)

(Warning: This posts contains an attempt of dark humor. Please do not proceed if such humor may offend you.) Read the rest of this entry »

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Indian singing and dancing

July 22, 2006 at 9:03 pm (Amusement, South Asia)

I posted these in the comments for one Mrs. Peel’s posts, and thought I’d post them here as well.

For your entertainment, I present the following two Indian (Bollywood) movie song videos courtesy of YouTube:
“Kaahe Chhed Mohe” (Hindi: काहे छेड़ मोहे; Urdu: کاہے چھیڑ موہے; kāhe cheṛ mohe) from the movie Devdas (Hindi: देवदास; Urdu: دیوداس; devdās).

“Main Vari Vari” (Hindi: मैं वारी वारी; Urdu: میں واری واری; main vāri vāri) from Mangal Pandey (Hindi: मंगल पांडे; Urdu: منگل پانڈے; mangal pānḍe).

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Sunni disunity concerning Hezbollah

July 22, 2006 at 8:13 pm (International community, Iran, Islamism, Israel, Middle East, Religion, The West)

Courtesy of “Saudi Wahhabi Sheik Issues Fatwa Against Hezbollah; Rally Planned in Cairo” of Vital Perspective, “Leading Saudi Sheik Pronounces Fatwa Against Hezbollah” by Eli Lake of The New York Sun (article archived in case link becomes inoperational; please let me know if this happens) reveals an interesting division within the Muslim world regarding Hezbollah’s actions. Read the rest of this entry »

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Quick note on 2 Arab boys killed in Nazareth by Hezbollah

July 22, 2006 at 6:38 pm (Arabic, Islamism, Israel, Languages, Middle East, Persian)

According to “Nasrallah: Children killed in Nazareth – shahids” (no author given) by Ynetnews, the leader of Hezbollāh1, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah2, said that he apologized for the deaths of the two Palestinian boys who were killed when a Hezbollāh Katyusha rocket hit Nazareth3. He also said that he considered them to be martyrs4 for Palestine. How convenient of his paradigm. However, from what I understand, a martyr usually choses his/her martyrdom rather than having it imposed on him/her, as is the case here.

For all the world’s concern for Palestinians/Arabs and their suffering, the world’s silence on this tragedy is quite deafening.

Notes (these were fun!):
1. Arabic/Persian: حزب اللہ; hezbollāh (Persian) or ḥizbullāh (Arabic); “the Army of God”

2. Arabic/Persian: شیخ حسّن نصر اللہ; shaykh hassan nasrollāh (Persian) or shaykh ḥassan naṣrullāh (Arabic); “nasrollāh/naṣrullāh” means “the help or victory of/from God”

3. Arabic: انّاصرۃ; an-nāṣirah (Arabic), an-nāsirah (Persian, et cetera); Hebrew: נצרת; natzerat (Sephardi) or natzeras (Ashkenazi); English: Nazareth

4. Literally shaheeds:
Arabic/Persian/et cetera singular: شھید; shahīd; literally, “witness,” often used to mean “martyr” in the sense of a witness for the faith

Arabic dual: شھیدان (nominative; rare), shahīdān; شھیدین (oblique; usual), shahīdayn; “two witnesses/martyrs”

Arabic plural: شھداء; shuhadā’ (Arabic), shohadā (Persian); “witnesses/martyrs”

Update: replaced regular haa’ with taa’ marbootah in the Arabic for Nazareth.

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Islamist militant organizations: remember what they are

July 21, 2006 at 1:55 am (Islam, Islamism, Middle East, Palestinian Territories, Religion, South Asia)

A common feature of many Islamist militant organizations is embracing a wide variety of activities. In addition to preaching jihad, recruiting militants, and waging jihad, they also build and operate schools, hospitals, public welfare facilities, mosques, and other amenities. Read the rest of this entry »

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Also at fault: The United Nations

July 19, 2006 at 4:24 am (International community, Israel, Middle East, News, The United Nations)

The Israeli-Lebanon War is a manifest failure of The United Nations. When Israel unilaterally withdrew from its self-imposed buffer zone in southern Lebanon, it was promised a secure border by The United Nations and Lebanon. As despicable as Hezbollah was in unprovokedly violating that border, what is to be said about The United Nations whose incompetence emboldened Hezbollah, who was unable to stop this incursion? What use was there for a United Nations force if it was to be unable to do anything? Why is it permitted to waste resources in such evidently futile efforts? What does this say about international agreements and pledges?

No. Along with Hezbollah, I unreservedly condemn The United Nations. I demand an investigation into its forces’ incompetance, and I demand the resignation of Kofi Annan for this unacceptable failure.

The United Nations has lost all relevance (of what little remained) in my eyes.

Tomorrow, if I remember and if I have time, I’m going to write another critique of idealism/liberalism in international relations and why realism is still relevant and true.

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I learn something new every day

July 18, 2006 at 4:28 pm (International community, Israel, Middle East, The United Nations)

According to “Israeli strike kills 11 Lebanese soldiers” by Sam F. Ghattas of The Associated Press (courtesy Yahoo! News):

The current U.N. force in southern Lebanon has proven impotent and a larger, stronger force could hamper any future Israeli attacks, should any deal fall apart.

Oh. So there is supposed to be a UN force preventing clashes between Israel and Hezbollah? I did not know that. Especially considering with what impunity Hezbollah acted, it’s as if the UN force doesn’t exist.

It’s smart of the Israelis to not trust UN forces.

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A post and a cartoon re Israel

July 18, 2006 at 1:44 pm (Amusement, International community, Israel, Middle East, The United States)

The Hatemonger’s Quarterly chimed in on the Arab-Israeli War on July 14, 2006. The end thereof was quite poignant:

We know what you’re thinking: Israel suffers an outrageous attack and yet, in the eyes of much of the world, it can’t do right. Which country does that remind us of?

And people wonder why the US feels such a close kinship with Israel.

Do read the rest of their post, “Preliminary Thoughts on Israel” at The Hatmonger’s Quarterly.

And here is Cox and Forkum‘s latest cartoon, which is on the international response to Israel’s operations in self-defense:

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Four articles

July 18, 2006 at 6:38 am (International community, Iran, Islamism, Israel, Middle East, Military, News, Palestinian Territories, The United States)

According to “The Lebanese army and the Hizbullah question” (July 17, 2006) by Paula Margulies of The Jerusalem Post, Lebanon is politically unwilling to oppose Hezbollah and, on top of that, unable to do so militarily. I think this is a consequence of Syrian occupation and the fact that Lebanon has not been able to build up a suitable military yet (despite The United States’ help). Other important points by Margulies were that Lebanon is still divided among competing groups; that the Lebanese military is also divided; that the Lebanese military has been assisting Hezbollah. These do not point a very positive picture of Lebanon.

“Sneh calls for negotiated withdrawal” (July 18, 2006) by Sheera Claire Frenkel of The Jerusalem Post, Brigadier-General (reserve) Ephraim Sneh, who led Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon, advocated negotiated withdrawal and is even more convinced of the need for negotiated withdrawals. He does have a point: Israel withdrew from Lebanon, and now is militarily engaged with Lebanon again; Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip, and now is militarily engaged with the Gaza Strip again. Negotiated withdrawals seem to be what is needed. But regarding this, Israel is in a major dilemma: it needs to withdraw and it should negotiate but the people with whom Israel needs to negotiate do not want to negotiate or, if they do, will not honor any agreements made. Israel cannot afford to stay in places which it needs to leave, and so resorts to unilateral withdrawals out of frustration and annoyance with hostile parties unwilling to cooperate. (It’s almost ironic: the Arabs complain of Israel’s occupation but the Arabs themselves are hindering Israel’s withdrawal.)

According to “New York Jews rally in support of Israel” (July 18, 2006) by Gal Beckerman of The Jerusalem Post, thousands of people rallied in New York in support of Israel. Attending the rally were dignitaries. Two of them were Senator Clinton and Dan Gillerman, Israel’s ambassador to The United Nations. Beckerman points out that there was no discussion or even mention of diplomacy, international intervention, or other options in solving the wars. As one woman interviewed in the article, the rally brought together people from the entire spectrum of political ideology. Leftists marched with rightists. Jews were united. This is a good sign. That Senator Clinton would speak and not bring up diplomatic solutions to the issue is also a good sign. This endorsement of Israel’s current tactics is what is needed and what, I would argue, The Government is doing in its own way. There was an anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian protest, but it was dwarfed by the pro-Israel rally.

According to “Israel: Long-Range Missile Destroyed” on, “An Israeli airstrike in Lebanon on Monday destroyed at least one long-range Iranian missile capable of hitting Tel Aviv, military officials said.” (Emphasis added.) There should be no illusion that Iran is uninvolved. This is clearly a proxy war by Iran against Israel – and perhaps more than simply a proxy war. The support given to Hezbollah, and certainly the clout Iran has over Hezbollah, would imply that Hezbollah is more a group linked to Iran: Hezbollah may in fact be an extension of Iran’s military forces.

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Heaven vs. The Vatican – JP2 reports

July 18, 2006 at 5:55 am (Amusement)

News from The Onion: “Heaven Less Opulent Than Vatican, Reports Disappointed Pope”.

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Having choices: good!

July 18, 2006 at 1:36 am (Amusement)

Using pro-Western Cold War propaganda for advertising. This ad by Wendy’s on YouTube, “Wendy’s – Soviet Fashion Show Ad,” always makes me chuckle. I thank God for YouTube, where such amusing stuff can be found.

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