Friday, October 02, 2009
Miscellaneous readings to ponder in your Succah:
The Polanski Hypocrisy
By ANTHONY PALETTA
Amid the many reactions to director Roman Polanski's arrest last weekend
in Switzerland more than 30 years after he fled the U.S. after pleading
guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, none have been as
strong as those of the international film community. A petition demanding
his release has attracted over 100 film-world signatories, including
luminaries from Martin Scorsese and Costa-Gavras to David Lynch and Wong
Reading the petition, you could be forgiven for thinking that the dispute
was over some obscure diplomatic codicil. Its principal focus is on the
mechanics of the arrest, namely Switzerland's detention of Mr. Polanski on
a U.S. request as he was traveling to the Zurich Film Festival. It cites
Switzerland's status as a "neutral country" and the "extraterritorial
nature" of film festivals. The substance of his guilty plea and the
circumstances of the crime receive only glancing mention, in a single
line: "His arrest follows an American arrest warrant dating from 1978
against the filmmaker, in a case of morals."
One would never know that those easily brushed off "morals".rape and
pedophilia.have actually been a central concern of some of the petition's
Pedro Almod.var, the daring Spanish director, created a fascinating study
of a pedophiliac relationship between a priest and an altar boy in "Bad
Education." There's a frank mutual attraction between the characters, but
Mr. Almod.var never leaves any question that their relationship is
exploitative at its core, and he makes clear the scars such manipulation
can create. If a petition were being circulated for Father Manolo instead
of Mr. Polanski, it's doubtful we'd see Mr. Almod.var's signature on it.
Asia Argento, international cinematic siren, is no stranger to depictions
of rape. In her father Dario Argento's "The Stendahl Syndrome," she is
raped twice, each occasion a source of transformative psychological
trauma. If that doesn't seem experience enough, her own adaptation of the
J.T. Leroy novel "The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things" features two of
the queasiest rapes of modern cinema, with the adopted son of her
character (portrayed by a 7-year-old actor) brutally assaulted by his
stepfather and then by another of her boyfriends.
Harmony Korine, a devotedly weird filmmaker, is no stranger to the
frequent pairing of strong drugs and assault; the harrowing end of his
screenplay for "Kids" features a character raped while under the influence
of an unnamed depressant. In "Kids," the assailant didn't give her the
drug; there's no question about Mr. Polanski plying a 13-year-old with
Quaaludes. Yet Mr. Korine's name is there on the petition.
That's far from the extent of the scabrous depictions of rape in the
signatories' work. Monica Bellucci appeared in perhaps the longest
single-take rape sequence ever filmed, a nine-minute segment of Gaspar
Noe's stomach-churning "Irreversible."
In their depictions of these acts, the directors and actors in question
seem keenly aware of the extreme violence of rape and the terrible
psychological consequences that follow its victims for years afterward.
But for them, apparently, life doesn't imitate art.
Still, some film-world names were notable for their absence from the
petition. Director Luc Besson refrained from signing it, noting, in an
interview with RTL Soir, "I don't have any opinion on this, but I have a
daughter, 13 years old. And if she was violated, nothing would be the
same, even 30 years later."
Perhaps the only group more incoherent than the cinematic community in its
reaction has been Polish officials. Mr. Polanski, who was born and raised
in Poland, has received much support from his countrymen. In an irony
evidently lost on Polish bureaucrats, government ministers of the Civic
Platform Party began protesting Mr. Polanski's arrest on Saturday, one day
after their government successfully passed a law making chemical
castration mandatory for pedophiles in cases involving victims under 15.
Now there's a thought.
.Mr. Paletta is an editor at the Manhattan Institute's Center for the
2. Another week, another Neve Gordon act of Sedition. Gordon backs
the violence of "anarchists", writing in the leftwing Neo-Nazi pro-jihad
The Mufti of Berlin
Arab-Nazi collaboration is a taboo topic in the West.
By DANIEL SCHWAMMENTHAL
One widespread myth about the Mideast conflict is that the Arabs are
paying the price for Germany's sins. The notion that the Palestinians are
the "second victims" of the Holocaust contains two falsehoods: It suggests
that without Auschwitz, there would be no justification for Israel,
ignoring 3,000 years of Jewish history in the land. It also suggests Arab
innocence in German crimes, ignoring especially the fascist past of
Palestinian leader Haj Amin al Husseini, who was not only Grand Mufti of
Jerusalem but also Waffen SS recruiter and Nazi propagandist in Berlin.
When a German journalist recently tried to shed some light on this
history, he encountered the wrath of the Arab collaborators' German
Karl R.ssel's exhibition "The Third World in the Second World War" was
supposed to premier on Sept. 1 in the "Werkstatt der Kulturen," a publicly
funded multicultural center in Berlin's heavily Turkish and Arab
neighborhood of Neuk.lln. Outraged by the exhibition's small section on
Arab complicity in Nazi crimes, Philippa Eb.n., who runs the center,
cancelled the event. Among the facts Ms. Eb.n. didn't want the visitors of
her center to learn is that the Palestinian wartime leader "was one of the
worst and fanatical fascists and anti-Semites," as Mr. R.ssel put it to
The mufti orchestrated the 1920/1921 anti-Jewish riots in Palestine and
the 1929 Arab pogroms that destroyed the ancient Jewish community of
Hebron. An early admirer of Hitler, Husseini received Nazi funding.as did
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.for his 1936-1939 Palestinian revolt, during
which his thugs killed hundreds of British soldiers, Jews and also Arabs
who rejected his Islamo-Nazi agenda. After participating in a failed
fascist coup in Iraq, he fled to Berlin in 1941 as Hitler's personal
guest. In the service of the Third Reich, the mufti recruited thousands of
Muslims to the Waffen SS. He intervened with the Nazis to prevent the
escape to Palestine of thousands of European Jews, who were sent instead
to the death camps. He also conspired with the Nazis to bring the
Holocaust to Palestine. Rommel's defeat in El Alamein spoiled these plans.
Hezbollah terrorists practicing a familiar salute in 2008.
After canceling the exhibition, Ms. Eb.n. clumsily tried to counter the
impression that she had pre-emptively caved to Arab pressure. As a
"non-white" person (her father is Cameroonian), she said, she didn't have
to fear Arabs, an explanation that indirectly suggested that ordinary,
"white," Germans might have reason to feel less safe speaking truth to
Berlin's integration commissioner, G.nter Piening, initially seemed to
defend her. "We need, in a community like Neuk.lln, a differentiated
presentation of the involvement of the Arabic world in the Second World
War," Der Tagesspiegel quoted him as saying. He later said he was
misquoted and following media criticism allowed a smaller version of the
exhibit to be shown.
Palestinian leader Haj Amin al Husseini inspecting a Muslim SS parade in
Mr. R.ssel says this episode is typical of how German historians, Arabists
and Islam scholars deny or downplay Arab-Nazi collaboration. What Mr.
R.ssel says about Germany applies to most of the Western world, where it
is often claimed that the mufti's Hitler alliance later discredited him in
the region. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the Mideast, Nazis
were not only popular during but also after the war.scores of them found
refuge in the Arab world, including Eichman's deputy, Alois Brunner, who
escaped to Damascus. The German war criminals became trusted military and
security advisers in the region, particularly of Nazi sympathizer Gamal
Nasser, then Egypt's president. The mufti himself escaped to Egypt in
1946. Far from being shunned for his Nazi past, he was elected president
of the National Palestinian Council. The mufti was at the forefront of
pushing the Arabs to reject the 1948 United Nations partition plan and to
wage a "war of destruction" against the fledgling Jewish state. His great
admirer, Yasser Arafat, would later succeed him as Palestinian leader.
The other line of defense is that Arab collaboration with the Nazis
supposedly wasn't ideological but pragmatic, following the old dictum that
"the enemy of my enemy is my friend." This "excuse" not only fails to
consider what would have happened to the Jews and British in the Mideast
had the Arabs' German friends won. It also overlooks the mufti's and his
followers' virulent anti-Semitism, which continues to poison the minds of
many Muslims even today.
The mufti "invented a new form of Jew-hatred by recasting it in an Islamic
mold," according to German scholar Matthias K.ntzel. The mufti's fusion of
European anti-Semtism.particularly the genocidal variety.with Koranic
views of Jewish wickedness has become the hallmark of Islamists
world-wide, from al Qaeda to Hamas and Hezbollah. During his time in
Berlin, the mufti ran the Nazis' Arab-language propaganda radio program,
which incited Muslims in the Mideast to "kill the Jews wherever you find
them. This pleases God, history and religion." Among the many listeners
was also the man later known as Ayatollah Khomeini, who used to tune in to
Radio Berlin every evening, according to Amir Taheri's biography of the
Iranian leader. Khomeini's disciple Mahmoud Ahmadinejad still spews the
same venom pioneered by the mufti as do Islamic hate preachers around the
Muslim Judeophobia is not.as is commonly claimed.a reaction to the Mideast
conflict but one of its main "root causes." It has been fueling Arab
rejection of a Jewish state long before Israel's creation.
"I am not a Mideast expert," Mr. R.ssel told me, but "I wonder why the
people who so one-sidedly regard Israel as the region's main problem never
consider how the Mideast conflict would have developed had it not been
influenced by fascists, anti-Semites and people who had just returned from
their Nazi exile."
Mr. R.ssel may not be a "Mideast expert" but he raises much more pertinent
questions about the conflict than many of those who claim that title.
4. Those patriotic israeli Arabs:
5. Demo-brats: http://frontpagemag.com/?p=22916
7. Ledeen: We been talking to Iran for 30 years:
We've Been Talking to Iran for 30 Years
The seizure of the U.S. embassy followed the failure of Carter
administration talks with Ayatollah Khomeini's regime.
By MICHAEL LEDEEN
The Obama administration's talks with Iran.set to take place tomorrow in
Geneva.are accompanied by an almost universally accepted misconception:
that previous American administrations refused to negotiate with Iranian
leaders. The truth, as Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said last October
at the National Defense University, is that "every administration since
1979 has reached out to the Iranians in one way or another and all have
After the fall of the shah in February 1979, the Carter administration
attempted to establish good relations with the revolutionary regime. We
offered aid, arms and understanding. The Iranians demanded that the United
States honor all arms deals with the shah, remain silent about
human-rights abuses carried out by the new regime, and hand over Iranian
"criminals" who had taken refuge in America. The talks ended with the
seizure of the American Embassy in November.
President Jimmy Carter announces that the U.S. will seek economic
sanctions against Iran, Dec. 21, 1979. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance
The Reagan administration.driven by a desire to gain the release of the
American hostages.famously sought a modus vivendi with Iran in the midst
of the Iran-Iraq War during the mid-1980s. To that end, the U.S. sold
weapons to Iran and provided military intelligence about Iraqi forces.
High-level American officials such as Robert McFarlane met secretly with
Iranian government representatives to discuss the future of the
relationship. This effort ended when the Iran-Contra scandal erupted in
The Clinton administration lifted sanctions that had been imposed by
Messrs. Carter and Reagan. During the 1990s, Iranians (including the
national wrestling team) entered the U.S. for the first time since the
'70s. The U.S. also hosted Iranian cultural events and unfroze Iranian
bank accounts. President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright publicly apologized to Iran for purported past sins, including
the overthrow of Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh's government by the CIA
and British intelligence in August 1953. But it all came to nothing when
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei proclaimed that we were their enemies in March
Most recently, the administration of George W. Bush.invariably and falsely
described as being totally unwilling to talk to the mullahs.negotiated
extensively with Tehran. There were scores of publicly reported meetings,
and at least one very secret series of negotiations. These negotiations
have rarely been described in the American press, even though they are the
subject of a BBC documentary titled "Iran and the West."
At the urging of British Foreign Minister Jack Straw, the U.S. negotiated
extensively with Ali Larijani, then-secretary of Iran's National Security
Council. By September 2006, an agreement had seemingly been reached.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Nicholas Burns, her top Middle
East aide, flew to New York to await the promised arrival of an Iranian
delegation, for whom some 300 visas had been issued over the preceding
weekend. Mr. Larijani was supposed to announce the suspension of Iranian
nuclear enrichment. In exchange, we would lift sanctions. But Mr. Larijani
and his delegation never arrived, as the BBC documentary reported.
Negotiations have always been accompanied by sanctions. But neither has
produced any change in Iranian behavior.
Until the end of 2006.and despite appeals for international support,
notably from Mr. Clinton.sanctions were almost exclusively imposed by the
U.S. alone. Mr. Carter issued an executive order forbidding the sale of
anything to Tehran except food and medical supplies. Mr. Reagan banned the
importation of virtually all Iranian goods and services in October 1987.
Mr. Clinton issued an executive order in March 1995 prohibiting any
American involvement with petroleum development. The following May he
issued an additional order tightening those sanctions. Five years later,
Secretary of State Albright eased some of the sanctions by allowing
Americans to buy and import carpets and some food products, such as dried
fruits, nuts and caviar.
Mr. Bush took spare parts for commercial aircraft off the embargo list in
the fall of 2006. On the other hand, in 2008 he revoked authorization of
so-called U-turn transfers, making it illegal for any American bank to
process transactions involving Iran.even if non-Iranian banks were at each
Throughout this period, our allies advocated for further diplomacy instead
of sanctions. But beginning in late 2006, the United Nations started
passing sanctions of its own. In December of that year, the Security
Council blocked the import or export of "sensitive nuclear material and
equipment" and called on member states to freeze the assets of anyone
involved with Iran's nuclear program.
In 2007, the Security Council banned all arms exports from Iran, froze
Iranian assets, and restricted the travel of anyone involved in the
Iranian nuclear program. The following year, it called for investigations
of Iranian banks, and authorized member countries to start searching
planes and ships coming or going from or to Iran. All to no avail.
Thirty years of negotiations and sanctions have failed to end the Iranian
nuclear program and its war against the West. Why should anyone think they
will work now? A change in Iran requires a change in government. Common
sense and moral vision suggest we should support the courageous opposition
movement, whose leaders have promised to end support for terrorism and
provide total transparency regarding the nuclear program.
Mr. Ledeen, a scholar at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, is
the author, most recently, of "Accomplice to Evil: Iran and the War
Against the West," out next month from St. Martin's Press.
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