Wednesday, March 26, 2008
A Tale of Two Peoples
By Dennis Prager
FrontPageMagazine.com | 3/25/2008
The long-suffering Tibetans have been in the news. This happens perhaps
once or twice a decade. In a more moral world, however, public opinion
would be far more preoccupied with Tibetans than with Palestinians, would
be as harsh on China as it is on Israel, and would be as fawning on Israel
as it now is on China.
But, alas, the world is, as it has always been, a largely mean-spirited
and morally insensitive place, where might is far more highly regarded
Consider the facts: Tibet, at least 1,400 years old, is one of the world's
oldest nations, has its own language, its own religion and even its own
ethnicity. Over 1 million of its people have been killed by the Chinese,
its culture has been systematically obliterated, 6,000 of its 6,200
monasteries have been looted and destroyed, and most of its monks have
been tortured, murdered or exiled.
Palestinians have none of these characteristics. There has never been a
Palestinian country, never been a Palestinian language, never been a
Palestinian ethnicity, never been a Palestinian religion in any way
distinct from Islam elsewhere. Indeed, "Palestinian" had always meant any
individual living in the geographic area called Palestine. For most of the
first half of the 20th century, "Palestinian" and "Palestine" almost
always referred to the Jews of Palestine. The United Jewish Appeal, the
worldwide Jewish charity that provided the nascent Jewish state with much
of its money, was actually known as the United Palestine Appeal. Compared
to Tibetans, few Palestinians have been killed, its culture has not been
destroyed nor its mosques looted or plundered, and Palestinians have
received billions of dollars from the international community. Unlike the
dying Tibetan nation, there are far more Palestinians today than when
Israel was created.
None of this means that a distinct Palestinian national identity does not
now exist. Since Israel's creation such an identity has arisen and does
indeed exist. Nor does any of this deny that many Palestinians suffered as
a result of the creation of the third Jewish state in the area, known --
since the Romans renamed Judea -- as "Palestine."
But it does mean that of all the causes the world could have adopted, the
Palestinians' deserved to be near the bottom and the Tibetans' near the
top. This is especially so since the Palestinians could have had a state
of their own from 1947 on, and they have caused great suffering in the
world, while the far more persecuted Tibetans have been characterized by a
morally rigorous doctrine of nonviolence.
So, the question is, why? Why have the Palestinians received such
undeserved attention and support, and the far more aggrieved and
persecuted and moral Tibetans given virtually no support or attention?
The first reason is terror. Some time ago, the Palestinian leadership
decided, with the overwhelming support of the Palestinian people, that
murdering as many innocent people -- first Jews, and then anyone else --
was the fastest way to garner world attention. They were right. On the
other hand, as The Economist notes in its March 28, 2008 issue, "Tibetan
nationalists have hardly ever resorted to terrorist tactics." It is
interesting to speculate how the world would have reacted had Tibetans
hijacked international flights, slaughtered Chinese citizens in Chinese
restaurants and temples, on Chinese buses and trains, and massacred
The second reason is oil and support from powerful fellow Arabs. The
Palestinians have rich friends who control the world's most needed
commodity, oil. The Palestinians have the unqualified support of all
Middle Eastern oil-producing nations and the support of the Muslim world
beyond the Middle East. The Tibetans are poor and have the support of no
nations, let alone oil-producing ones.
The third reason is Israel. To deny that pro-Palestinian activism in the
world is sometimes related to hostility toward Jews is to deny the
obvious. It is not possible that the unearned preoccupation with the
Palestinians is unrelated to the fact that their enemy is the one Jewish
state in the world. Israel's Jewishness is a major part of the Muslim
world's hatred of Israel. It is also part of Europe's hostility toward
Israel: Portraying Israel as oppressors assuages some of Europe's guilt
about the Holocaust -- "see, the Jews act no better than we did." Hence
the ubiquitous comparisons of Israel to Nazis.
A fourth reason is China. If Tibet had been crushed by a white European
nation, the Tibetans would have elicited far more sympathy. But, alas,
their near-genocidal oppressor is not white. And the world does not take
mass murder committed by non-whites nearly as seriously as it takes
anything done by Westerners against non-Westerners. Furthermore, China is
far more powerful and frightening than Israel. Israel has a great army and
nuclear weapons, but it is pro-West, it is a free and democratic society,
and it has seven million people in a piece of land as small as Belize.
China has nuclear weapons, has a trillion U.S. dollars, an increasingly
mighty army and navy, is neither free nor democratic, is anti-Western, and
has 1.2 billion people in a country that dominates the Asian continent.
A fifth reason is the world's Left. As a general rule, the Left demonizes
Israel and has loved China since it became Communist in 1948. And given
the power of the Left in the world's media, in the political life of so
many nations, and in the universities and the arts, it is no wonder
vicious China has been idolized and humane Israel demonized.
The sixth reason is the United Nations, where Israel has been condemned in
more General Assembly and Security Council resolutions than any other
country in the world. At the same time, the UN has voted China onto its
Security Council and has never condemned it. China's sponsoring of Sudan
and its genocidal acts against its non-Arab black population, as in
Darfur, goes largely unremarked on at the UN, let alone condemned, just as
is the case with its cultural genocide, ethnic cleansing and military
occupation of Tibet.
The seventh reason is television news, the primary source of news for much
of mankind. Aside from its leftist tilt, television news reports only what
it can video. And almost no country is televised as much as Israel, while
video reports in Tibet are forbidden, as they are almost anywhere in China
except where strictly monitored by the Chinese authorities. No video, no
TV news. And no TV, no concern. So while grieving Palestinians and the
accidental killings of Palestinians during morally necessary Israeli
retaliations against terrorists are routinely televised, the slaughter of
over a million Tibetans and the extinguishing of Tibetan Buddhism and
culture are non-events as far as television news is concerned.
The world is unfair, unjust and morally twisted. And rarely more so than
in its support for the Palestinians -- no matter how many innocents they
target for murder and no matter how much Nazi-like anti-Semitism permeates
their media -- and its neglect of the cruelly treated, humane Tibetans.
March 24, 2008
By JAMES TARANTO
March 24, 2008
On Friday we noted1 that Barack Obama's "spiritual mentor," the Rev.
Jeremiah Wright, had reprinted a Hamas op-ed in his church bulletin. It
turns out that Obama issued a quiet condemnation of Wright's editorial
decision, as the Jewish Telegraphic Agency2 reports:
"I have already condemned my former pastor's views on Israel in the
strongest possible terms, and I certainly wasn't in church when that
outrageously wrong Los Angeles Times piece was re-printed in the
bulletin," Obama said in a statement emailed to JTA late Thursday, and
referring to critics who noted that Obama had been in church when Wright
had made controversial statements. "Hamas is a terrorist organization,
responsible for the deaths of many innocents, and dedicated to Israel's
destruction, as evidenced by their bombarding of Sderot in recent months.
I support requiring Hamas to meet the international community's conditions
of recognizing Israel, renouncing violence, and abiding by past agreements
before they are treated as a legitimate actor."
That could hardly be clearer, could it? But a year-old article from
ElectronicIntifada.com3 suggests that Obama has, fairly recently, held
views on the subject that are completely at variance with those he now
espouses. The author, Ali Abunimah, is a co-founder of the site:
I first met Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Barack Obama almost
ten years ago when, as my representative in the Illinois state senate, he
came to speak at the University of Chicago. He impressed me as
progressive, intelligent and charismatic. I distinctly remember thinking
"if only a man of this calibre could become president one day." . . .
Over the years since I first saw Obama speak I met him about half a dozen
times, often at Palestinian and Arab-American community events in Chicago
including a May 1998 community fundraiser at which Edward Said was the
keynote speaker. In 2000, when Obama unsuccessfully ran for Congress I
heard him speak at a campaign fundraiser hosted by a University of Chicago
professor. On that occasion and others Obama was forthright in his
criticism of US policy and his call for an even-handed approach to the
The last time I spoke to Obama was in the winter of 2004 at a gathering in
Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood. He was in the midst of a primary
campaign to secure the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate
seat he now occupies. But at that time polls showed him trailing.
As he came in from the cold and took off his coat, I went up to greet him.
He responded warmly, and volunteered, "Hey, I'm sorry I haven't said more
about Palestine right now, but we are in a tough primary race. I'm hoping
when things calm down I can be more up front." He referred to my activism,
including columns I was contributing to the The [sic] Chicago Tribune
critical of Israeli and US policy, "Keep up the good work!"
Abunimah argued that Obama, in an effort "to woo wealthy pro-Israel
campaign donors," had made an "about-face":
He is merely doing what he thinks is necessary to get elected and he will
continue doing it as long as it keeps him in power.
It is possible that Obama had a sincere change of heart--that he came to
see the merits of the Israeli side of the argument. It is also possible
that Obama has no sincere views on the subject--that when he was traveling
in radical-chic Chicago circles, he told people like Abunimah what they
wanted to hear, and now that he has gone national, he has switched to
telling a more mainstream Democratic constituency what it wants to hear.
But what does Obama really believe--about the Middle East, about Wright's
"black liberation theology" or about any other complicated and sensitive
topic? The question is a Rorschach inkblot; the answer reveals more about
one's emotional response to Obama than about Obama's intellectual response
to the world.
If Obama makes you feel good about yourself, you will give him the benefit
of the doubt and assume that his beliefs are similar to yours. See, for
example, Obama enthusiast Marty Peretz4 expounding on Obama's sympathy for
the Jewish state, or Douglas Kmiec5, a judicial conservative and onetime
Romney adviser, explaining that even though Obama has shown no sign of
agreeing with him on "important fundamentals," he is "convinced based upon
[Obama's] public pronouncements and his personal writing that on each of
these questions he is not closed to understanding opposing points of view,
and as best as it is humanly possible, he will respect and accommodate
If you are unmoved by Obama, by contrast, there is ample reason to be
skeptical about whether he holds beliefs congenial to yours, or indeed any
beliefs at all. This skepticism is only amplified by over-the-top
accolades for Obama, such as this one from Frank Schaffer6, a
self-described "survivor" of "an evangelical/fundamentalist childhood":
Obama offers civility in the midst of a drunken national bar fight. Obama
speaks in complete sentences, well-turned paragraphs, offers thoughts with
intellectual depth, nuance, humility and compassion. Obama is a reasoned
essay cast before sound-bite swine who seem ready to tear anything that
falls into their sty to shreds.
By providence or blind luck, we are being given a second chance. In Obama
our founders appear once again stepping from the mists of time to offer a
wayward great, great grandchild an opportunity for redemption. . . .
Obama stands in the tradition of our founders, a citizen running for
office, not a "professional" striver. But the cry goes up, "He doesn't
have the experience!" Experience? At what? Playing games with our
country's soul while the only real game in our nation's capitol is hanging
on to power, enriching oneself at the political trough through
connections, taking us to war after war, making us hated throughout the
world by catering to our insatiable, unreasoning fears.
Obama is the man who reaches out to help a dying passerby and the passerby
snarls, "What do you really want?"
Obama's supporters are proud that they are acting out of "hope" rather
than, as Schaeffer puts it, "insatiable, unreasoning fears." But what kind
of "hope" is it that dehumanizes detractors, deeming them "swine"? And
isn't fear, or at least serious unease, an appropriate response to a
politician who, however soothing his own demeanor, seems to have a knack
for inspiring such unreason?
Damning With Faint Praise7
Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico endorsed Barack Obama Friday, and we
got a kick out of Obama's praise for Richardson, reported by CNN:
Obama said, "I am extraordinarily grateful to have the support of one of
the great public servants of these United States."
"He's done the kind of work that you want from your public servants,
somebody who's driven not just by raw ambition, not just by an interest in
personal aggrandizement," Obama added. "He's been somebody who's been
motivated by the desire to make the lives of his constituents and working
people a little bit better."
So according to Obama, Richardson is driven in part by "raw ambition" and
"an interest in personal aggrandizement." But he also is interested in
making people lives "a little bit better," and that's enough to make him
"one of the great public servants of these United States."
Obama sure is cynical about his fellow politicians, isn't he?
See also http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3523359,00.html , by
Israeli leftist journalist.
3. Make you proud to be an Israeli?
4. Gathering Storm:
5. Feminazis against Israel:
6. Islam and Free Speech
By PETER HOEKSTRA
March 26, 2008; Page A15
The Netherlands is bracing for a new round of violence at home and against
its embassies in the Middle East. The storm would be caused by "Fitna," a
short film that is scheduled to be released this week. The film, which
reportedly includes images of a Quran being burned, was produced by Geert
Wilders, a member of the Dutch parliament and leader of the Freedom Party.
Mr. Wilders has called for banning the Quran -- which he has compared to
Hitler's "Mein Kampf" -- from the Netherlands.
After concern about the film led Mr. Wilders's Internet service provider
to take down his Web site, Mr. Wilders issued a statement this week that
he will personally distribute DVDs "On the Dam" if he has to. That may not
be necessary, as the Czech National Party has reportedly agreed to host
the video on its Web site.
Marked for death: Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
Reasonable men in free societies regard Geert Wilders's anti-Muslim
rhetoric, and films like "Fitna," as disrespectful of the religious
sensitivities of members of the Islamic faith. But free societies also
hold freedom of speech to be a fundamental human right. We don't silence,
jail or kill people with whom we disagree just because their ideas are
offensive or disturbing. We believe that when such ideas are openly
debated, they sink of their own weight and attract few followers.
Our country allows fringe groups like the American Nazi Party to
demonstrate, as long as they are peaceful. Americans are permitted to burn
the national flag. In 1989, when so-called artist Andres Serrano displayed
his work "Piss Christ" -- a photo of a crucifix immersed in a bottle of
urine -- Americans protested peacefully and moved to cut off the federal
funding that supported Mr. Serrano. There were no bombings of museums. No
one was killed over this work that was deeply offensive to Christians.
Criticism of Islam, however, has led to violence and murder world-wide.
Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for Muslims to kill Salman
Rushdie over his 1988 book, "The Satanic Verses." Although Mr. Rushdie has
survived, two people associated with the book were stabbed, one fatally.
The 2005 Danish editorial cartoons lampooning the prophet Muhammad led to
numerous deaths. Dutch director Theodoor van Gogh was killed in 2004,
several months after he made the film "Submission," which described
violence against women in Islamic societies. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a former
Dutch member of parliament who wrote the script for "Submission," received
death threats over the film and fled the country for the United States.
The violence Dutch officials are anticipating now is part of a broad and
determined effort by the radical jihadist movement to reject the basic
values of modern civilization and replace them with an extreme form of
Shariah. Shariah, the legal code of Islam, governed the Muslim world in
medieval times and is used to varying degrees in many nations today,
especially in Saudi Arabia.
Radical jihadists are prepared to use violence against individuals to stop
them from exercising their free speech rights. In some countries,
converting a Muslim to another faith is a crime punishable by death. While
Muslim clerics are free to preach and proselytize in the West, some Muslim
nations severely restrict or forbid other faiths to do so. In addition,
moderate Muslims around the world have been deemed apostates and enemies
by radical jihadists.
Radical jihadists believe representative government is un-Islamic, and
urge Muslims who live in democracies not to exercise their right to vote.
The reason is not hard to understand: When given a choice, most Muslims
reject the extreme approach to Islam. This was recently demonstrated in
Iraq's Anbar Province, which went from an al-Qaeda stronghold to an area
supporting the U.S.-led coalition. This happened because the populace came
to intensely dislike the fanatical ways of the radicals, which included
cutting off fingers of anyone caught smoking a cigarette, 4 p.m. curfews,
beatings and beheadings. There also were forced marriages between
foreign-born al Qaeda fighters and local Sunni women.
There may be a direct relationship between the radical jihadists'
opposition to democracy and their systematic abuse of women. Women have
virtually no rights in this radical world: They must conceal themselves,
cannot hold jobs, and have been subjected to honor killings. Would most
women in Muslim countries vote for a candidate for public office who
supported such oppressive rules?
Not all of these radicals are using violence to supplant democratic
society with an extreme form of Shariah. Some in the United Kingdom, the
Netherlands, Germany and Denmark are attempting to create parallel Islamic
societies with separate courts for Muslims. According to recent press
reports, British officials are investigating the cases of 30 British
Muslim school-age girls who "disappeared" for probable forced marriages.
While efforts to create parallel Islamic societies have been mostly
peaceful, they may actually be a jihadist "waiting game," based on the
assumption that the Islamic populations of many European states will
become the majority over the next 25-50 years due to higher Muslim birth
rates and immigration.
What is particularly disturbing about these assaults against modern
society is how the West has reacted with appeasement, willful ignorance,
and a lack of journalistic criticism. Last year PBS tried to suppress
"Islam vs. Islamists: Voices from the Muslim Center," a hard-hitting
documentary that contained criticism of radical jihadists. Fortunately,
Fox News agreed to air the film.
Even if the new Wilders film proves newsworthy, it is likely that few
members of the Western media will air it, perhaps because they have been
intimidated by radical jihadist threats. The only major U.S. newspaper to
reprint any of the controversial 2005 Danish cartoons was Denver's Rocky
Mountain News. You can be sure that if these cartoons had mocked
Christianity or Judaism, major American newspapers would not have
hesitated to print them.
European officials have been similarly cautious. A German court ruled last
year that a German Muslim man had the right to beat his wife, as this was
permitted under Shariah. Britain's Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan
Williams, stated last month that the implementation of some measure of
Shariah in Britain was "unavoidable" and British Muslims should have the
choice to use Shariah in marital and financial matters.
I do not defend the right of Geert Wilders to air his film because I agree
with it. I expect I will not. (I have not yet seen the film). I defend the
right of Mr. Wilders and the media to air this film because free speech is
a fundamental right that is the foundation of modern society. Western
governments and media outlets cannot allow themselves to be bullied into
giving up this precious right due to threats of violence. We must not fool
ourselves into believing that we can appease the radical jihadist movement
by allowing them to set up parallel societies and separate legal systems,
or by granting them special protection from criticism.
A central premise of the American experiment are these words from the
Declaration of Independence: "All men are created equal, that they are
endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these
are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." There are similar
statements in the U.S. Constitution, British Common Law, the Napoleonic
Code and the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights. As a result, hundreds of
millions in the U.S. and around the world enjoy freedom of speech, freedom
of assembly, freedom of religion and many other rights.
These liberties have been won through centuries of debate, conflict and
bloodshed. Radical jihadists want to sacrifice all we have learned by
returning to a primitive and intolerant world. While modern society
invites such radicals to peacefully exercise their faith, we cannot and
will not sacrifice our fundamental freedoms.
Mr. Hoekstra, who was born in the Netherlands, is ranking Republican on
the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary, on
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