Archive for History

David J. Wasserstein: “Islam Saved Jewry”

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , on June 2, 2012 by loonwatch

David J. Wasserstein, professor of Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University penned an interesting and refreshing article that likely caused the heads of Islamophobes to explode, titled, So, What did the Muslims do for the Jews?

He argues that before the birth of the Prophet Muhammad, Judaism under the Byzantines was near extinction, and under Persian rule was endanger of being relegated to a cult.

Had Islam not come along, Jewry in the west would have declined to disappearance and Jewry in the east would have become just another oriental cult.

Wasserstein doesn’t fall into the trap of painting a too utopian, rosy picture of Jewish life under Muslim rule, but does highlight the fact that in many places Jewish life and culture flourished, (for example in Andalusia).

by David Wasserstein (The JC)

Islam saved Jewry. This is an unpopular, discomforting claim in the modern world. But it is a historical truth. The argument for it is double. First, in 570 CE, when the Prophet Mohammad was born, the Jews and Judaism were on the way to oblivion. And second, the coming of Islam saved them, providing a new context in which they not only survived, but flourished, laying foundations for subsequent Jewish cultural prosperity – also in Christendom – through the medieval period into the modern world.

By the fourth century, Christianity had become the dominant religion in the Roman empire. One aspect of this success was opposition to rival faiths, including Judaism, along with massive conversion of members of such faiths, sometimes by force, to Christianity. Much of our testimony about Jewish existence in the Roman empire from this time on consists of accounts of conversions.

Great and permanent reductions in numbers through conversion, between the fourth and the seventh centuries, brought with them a gradual but relentless whittling away of the status, rights, social and economic existence, and religious and cultural life of Jews all over the Roman empire.

A long series of enactments deprived Jewish people of their rights as citizens, prevented them from fulfilling their religious obligations, and excluded them from the society of their fellows.

This went along with the centuries-long military and political struggle with Persia. As a tiny element in the Christian world, the Jews should not have been affected much by this broad, political issue. Yet it affected them critically, because the Persian empire at this time included Babylon – now Iraq – at the time home to the world’s greatest concentration of Jews.

Here also were the greatest centres of Jewish intellectual life. The most important single work of Jewish cultural creativity in over 3,000 years, apart from the Bible itself – the Talmud – came into being in Babylon. The struggle between Persia and Byzantium, in our period, led increasingly to a separation between Jews under Byzantine, Christian rule and Jews under Persian rule.

Beyond all this, the Jews who lived under Christian rule seemed to have lost the knowledge of their own culturally specific languages – Hebrew and Aramaic – and to have taken on the use of Latin or Greek or other non-Jewish, local, languages. This in turn must have meant that they also lost access to the central literary works of Jewish culture – the Torah, Mishnah, poetry, midrash, even liturgy.

The loss of the unifying force represented by language – and of the associated literature – was a major step towards assimilation and disappearance. In these circumstances, with contact with the one place where Jewish cultural life continued to prosper – Babylon – cut off by conflict with Persia, Jewish life in the Christian world of late antiquity was not simply a pale shadow of what it had been three or four centuries earlier. It was doomed.

Had Islam not come along, the conflict with Persia would have continued. The separation between western Judaism, that of Christendom, and Babylonian Judaism, that of Mesopotamia, would have intensified. Jewry in the west would have declined to disappearance in many areas. And Jewry in the east would have become just another oriental cult.

But this was all prevented by the rise of Islam. The Islamic conquests of the seventh century changed the world, and did so with dramatic, wide-ranging and permanent effect for the Jews.

Within a century of the death of Mohammad, in 632, Muslim armies had conquered almost the whole of the world where Jews lived, from Spain eastward across North Africa and the Middle East as far as the eastern frontier of Iran and beyond. Almost all the Jews in the world were now ruled by Islam. This new situation transformed Jewish existence. Their fortunes changed in legal, demographic, social, religious, political, geographical, economic, linguistic and cultural terms – all for the better.

First, things improved politically. Almost everywhere in Christendom where Jews had lived now formed part of the same political space as Babylon – Cordoba and Basra lay in the same political world. The old frontier between the vital centre in Babylonia and the Jews of the Mediterranean basin was swept away, forever.

Political change was partnered by change in the legal status of the Jewish population: although it is not always clear what happened during the Muslim conquests, one thing is certain. The result of the conquests was, by and large, to make the Jews second-class citizens.

This should not be misunderstood: to be a second-class citizen was a far better thing to be than not to be a citizen at all. For most of these Jews, second-class citizenship represented a major advance. In Visigothic Spain, for example, shortly before the Muslim conquest in 711, the Jews had seen their children removed from them and forcibly converted to Christianity and had themselves been enslaved.

In the developing Islamic societies of the classical and medieval periods, being a Jew meant belonging to a category defined under law, enjoying certain rights and protections, alongside various obligations. These rights and protections were not as extensive or as generous as those enjoyed by Muslims, and the obligations were greater but, for the first few centuries, the Muslims themselves were a minority, and the practical differences were not all that great.

Along with legal near-equality came social and economic equality. Jews were not confined to ghettos, either literally or in terms of economic activity. The societies of Islam were, in effect, open societies. In religious terms, too, Jews enjoyed virtually full freedom. They might not build many new synagogues – in theory – and they might not make too public their profession of their faith, but there was no really significant restriction on the practice of their religion. Along with internal legal autonomy, they also enjoyed formal representation, through leaders of their own, before the authorities of the state. Imperfect and often not quite as rosy as this might sound, it was at least the broad norm.

Read the rest…

March 10, 1906 Meets March 11, 2012: Infamous Days in US Army Massacres

Posted in Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 11, 2012 by loonwatch

philippines-massacre-morro-bud-dajo-crater-massacre-1906

Moro Crater Massacre Victims

History has a horrifically persistent way of repeating itself, almost 106 years ago to the date US soldiers massacred more than 600 mostly unarmed Muslim Moro villagers in the Phillipines. Today we hear news of the bloody massacre carried out by an Army Staff Sergeant in Afghanistan, killing 16 civilians, mostly women and children as they slept in their homes.

I provide a Wiki article below about the Moro Massacre, it might not be the best citation but the article below is accurate:

Moro Crater massacre

(Wikipilipinas)

The Moro Crater massacre is a name given to the final phase of the First Battle of Bud Dajo, a military engagement of the Philippine-American War which took place March 10, 1906], on the isle of Jolo in the southern Philippines. Forces of the U.S. Army under the command of Major General Leonard Wood, a naval detachment comprising 540 soldiers, along with a detachment of native constabulary, armed with artillery and small firearms, attacked a village hidden in the crater of the dormant volcano Bud Dajo. No American soldiers were killed, though sixteen were wounded; more than 600 mostly unarmedMuslim Moro villagers were killed, but none wounded.

Mark Twain’s indignation

The Filipinos were not yet defeated on July 4 1902, when Theodore_Roosevelt|President Roosevelt declared that the war was over. The Muslim Filipinos, or Muslim Filipino|Moros, in the Southern Philippines were as tenacious in opposing U.S. colonization, as they were in resisting Spanish rule during the preceding three centuries. But those whose slaughter is described below were not a military group.

Mark Twain must have felt strongly compelled to comment on the massacre. It provided another opportunity to condemn the brutality of the U.S troops, and Leonard Wood, already the subject of his scorn, was the commanding officer involved. In all of his writings about Wood, Mark Twain emphasized the irony that he was a medical Physician|doctor whose profession, as a soldier, was to kill people. This theme was developed here with references to the “doctor” who led the massacre, the “heroes” who performed it, and the “savages” who suffered it. The savagery was performed by the “heroes,” not the sympathetically-presented Moros, whose slaughtered children represented “our perfectest symbol of innocence and helplessness.”

The Anti-Imperialist League quickly published two leaflets about the massacre. A photograph [1] of the carnage that it distributed to the press in 1907 was later described as “the most hideous Philippine Picture . . . published in the United States during the subjugation of the islands.”

Mark Twain, however, thought that his own comments were too controversial to publish. They are from his autobiography, which was planned for publication after his death, so he could discuss his contemporaries without restraint. Later in 1906, while choosing sections of the autobiography for publication in the North American Review, he marked these dictations as “not usable yet”.

 Part 1: Monday, March 12, 1906

This incident burst upon the world last Friday in an official cablegram from the commander of our forces in the Philippines to our Government at Washington. The substance of it was as follows: A tribe of Moros, dark-skinned savages, had fortified themselves in the bowl of an extinct crater not many miles from Jolo; and as they were hostiles, and bitter against us because we have been trying for eight years to take their liberties away from them, their presence in that position was a menace. Our commander, Gen. Leonard Wood, ordered a reconnaissance. It was found that the Moros numbered six hundred, counting women and children; that their crater bowl was in the summit of a peak or mountain twenty-two hundred feet above sea level, and very difficult of access for Christian troops and artillery. Then General Wood ordered a surprise, and went along himself to see the order carried out. Our troops climbed the heights by devious and difficult trails, and even took some artillery with them. The kind of artillery is not specified, but in one place it was hoisted up a sharp acclivity by tackle a distance of some three hundred feet. Arrived at the rim of the crater, the battle began. Our soldiers numbered five hundred and forty. They were assisted by auxiliaries consisting of a detachment of native constabulary in our pay — their numbers not given — and by a naval detachment, whose numbers are not stated. But apparently the contending parties were about equal as to number — six hundred men on our side, on the edge of the bowl; six hundred men, women and children in the bottom of the bowl. Depth of the bowl, 50 feet.

Gen. Wood’s order was, “Kill or capture the six hundred.”

The battle began-it is officially called by that name-our forces firing down into the crater with their artillery and their deadly small arms of precision; the savages furiously returning the fire, probably with brickbats-though this is merely a surmise of mine, as the weapons used by the savages are not nominated in the cablegram. Heretofore the Moros have used knives and clubs mainly; also ineffectual trade-muskets when they had any. [page 172]

The official report stated that the battle was fought with prodigious energy on both sides during a day and a half, and that it ended with a complete victory for the American arms. The completeness of the victory for the American arms. The completeness of the victory is established by this fact: that of the six hundred Moros not one was left alive. The brilliancy of the victory is established by this other fact, to wit: that of our six hundred heroes only fifteen lost their lives.

General Wood was present and looking on. His order had been. “Kill or capture those savages.” Apparently our little army considered that the “or” left them authorized to kill or capture according to taste, and that their taste had remained what it has been for eight years, in our army out there – the taste of Christian butchers.

The official report quite properly extolled and magnified the “heroism” and “gallantry” of our troops; lamented the loss of the fifteen who perished, and elaborated the wounds of thirty-two of our men who suffered injury, and even minutely and faithfully described the nature of the wounds, in the interest of future historians of the United States. It mentioned that a private had one of his elbows scraped by a missile, and the private’s name was mentioned. Another private had the end of his nose scraped by a missile. His name was also mentioned – by cable, at one dollar and fifty cents a word.

Next day’s news confirmed the previous day’s report and named our fifteen killed and thirty-two wounded again, and once more described the wounds and gilded them with the right adjectives.

Let us now consider two or three details of our military history. In one of the great battles of the Civil War ten per cent. Of the forces engaged on the two sides were killed and wounded. At Waterloo, where four hundred thousand men were present on the two sides, fifty thousand fell, killed and wounded, in five hours, leaving three hundred and fifty thousand sound and all right for further adventures. Eight years ago, when the pathetic comedy called the Cuban War was played, we summoned two hundred and fifty thousand men. We fought a number of showy battles, and when the war was over we had lost two hundred and sixty-eight men out of our two hundred and fifty thousand, in killed and wounded in the field, and just fourteen times as many by the gallantry of the army doctors in the hospitals and camps. We did not exterminate the Spaniards — far from it. In each engagement we left an average of two per cent. of the enemy killed or crippled on the field.

Contrast these things with the great statistics which have arrived from [page 172] that Moro crater! There, with six hundred engaged on each side, we lost fifteen men killed outright, and we had thirty-two wounded-counting that nose and that elbow. The enemy numbered six hundred — including women and children — and we abolished them utterly, leaving not even a baby alive to cry for its dead mother. This is incomparably the greatest victory that was ever achieved by the Christian soldiers of the United States.

Now then, how has it been received? The splendid news appeared with splendid display-heads in every newspaper in this city of four million and thirteen thousand inhabitants, on Friday morning. But there was not a single reference to it in the editorial columns of any one of those newspapers. The news appeared again in all the evening papers of Friday, and again those papers were editorially silent upon our vast achievement. Next day’s additional statistics and particulars appeared in all the morning papers, and still without a line of editorial rejoicing or a mention of the matter in any way. These additions appeared in the evening papers of that same day (Saturday) and again without a word of comment. In the columns devoted to correspondence, in the morning and evening papers of Friday and Saturday, nobody said a word about the “battle.” Ordinarily those columns are teeming with the passions of the citizen; he lets no incident go by, whether it be large or small, without pouring out his praise or blame, his joy or his indignation about the matter in the correspondence column. But, as I have said, during those two days he was as silent as the editors themselves. So far as I can find out, there was only one person among our eighty millions who allowed himself the privilege of a public remark on this great occasion — that was the President of the United States. All day Friday he was as studiously silent as the rest. But on Saturday he recognized that his duty required him to say something, and he took his pen and performed that duty. If I know President Roosevelt — and I am sure I do — this utterance cost him more pain and shame than any other that ever issued from his pen or his mouth. I am far from blaming him. If I had been in his place my official duty would have compelled me to say what he said. It was a convention, an old tradition, and he had to be loyal to it. There was no help for it. This is what he said:

Washington, March 10. Wood, Manila:- I congratulate you and the officers and men of your command upon the [page 173] brilliant feat of arms wherein you and they so well upheld the honor of the American flag. (Signed) Theodore Roosevelt.

His whole utterance is merely a convention. Not a word of what he said came out of his heart. He knew perfectly well that to pen six hundred helpless and weaponless savages in a hole like rats in a trap and massacre them in detail during a stretch of a day and a half, from a safe position on the heights above, was no brilliant feat of arms – and would not have been a brilliant feat of arms even if Christian America, represented by its salaried soldiers, had shot them down with Bibles and the Golden Rule instead of bullets. He knew perfectly well that our uniformed assassins had not upheld the honor of the American flag, but had done as they have been doing continuously for eight years in the Philippines – that is to say, they had dishonored it.

The next day, Sunday, — which was yesterday — the cable brought us additional news – still more splendid news — still more honor for the flag. The first display-head shouts this information at us in the stentorian capitals: “WOMEN SLAIN MORO SLAUGHTER.”

“Slaughter” is a good word. Certainly there is not a better one in the Unabridged Dictionary for this occasion.

The next display line says:

“With Children They Mixed in Mob in Crater, and All Died Together.”

They were mere naked savages, and yet there is a sort of pathos about it when that word children falls under your eye, for it always brings before us our perfectest symbol of innocence and helplessness; and by help of its deathless eloquence color, creed and nationality vanish away and we see only that they are children — merely children. And if they are frightened and crying and in trouble, our pity goes out to them by natural impulse. We see a picture. We see the small forms. We see the terrified faces. We see the tears. We see the small hands clinging in supplication to the mother; but we do not see those children that we are speaking about. We see in their places the little creatures whom we know and love.

The next heading blazes with American and Christian glory like to the sun in the zenith:

Death List is Now 900.”

I was never so enthusiastically proud of the flag till now! [page 174]

The next heading explains how safely our daring soldiers were located. It says:

“Impossible to Tell Sexes Apart in Fierce Battle on Top of Mount Dajo.”

The naked savages were so far away, down in the bottom of that trap, that our soldiers could not tell the breasts of a woman from the rudimentary paps of a man — so far away that they couldn’t tell a toddling little child from a black six-footer. This was by all odds the least dangerous battle that Christian soldiers of any nationality were ever engaged in.

The next heading says:

“Fighting for Four Days.”

So our men were at it four days instead of a day and a half. It was a long and happy picnic with nothing to do but sit in comfort and fire the Golden Rule into those people down there and imagine letters to write home to the admiring families, and pile glory upon glory. Those savages fighting for their liberties had the four days too, but it must have been a sorrowful time for them. Every day they saw two hundred and twenty- five of their number slain, and this provided them grief and mourning for the night — and doubtless without even the relief and consolation of knowing that in the meantime they had slain four of their enemies and wounded some more on the elbow and the nose.

The closing heading says:

“Lieutenant Johnson Blown from Parapet by Exploding Artillery Gallantly Leading Charge.”

Lieutenant Johnson has pervaded the cablegrams from the first. He and his wound have sparkled around through them like the serpentine thread of fire that goes excursioning through the black crisp fabric of a fragment of burnt paper. It reminds one of Gillette’s comedy farce of a few years ago, “Too Much Johnson.” Apparently Johnson was the only wounded man on our side whose wound was worth anything as an advertisement. It has made a great deal more noise in the world than has any similarly colossal event since “Humpty Dumpty” fell off the wall and got injured. The official dispatches do not know which to admire most, Johnson’s adorable wound or the nine hundred murders. The ecstasies flowing from Army Headquarters on the other side of the globe to the White House, at a dollar and a half a word, have set fire to similar ecstasies in the President’s breast. It appears that the immortally wounded was a Rough Rider under Lieutenant Colonel Roosevelt at San [page 175] Juan Hill — that extinguisher of Waterloo — when the Colonel of the regiment, the present Major General Dr. Leonard Wood, went to the rear to bring up the pills and missed the fight. The President has a warm place in his heart for anybody who was present at that bloody Collision of military solar systems, and so he lost no time in cabling to the wounded hero, “How are you?” And got a cable answer, “Fine, thanks.” This is historical. This will go down to posterity.

Johnson was wounded in the shoulder with a Slug. The slug was in a shell — for the account says the damage was caused by an exploding shell which blew Johnson off the rim. The people down in the hole had no artillery; therefore it was our artillery that blew Johnson off the rim. And so it is now a matter of historical record that the only officer of ours who acquired a wound of advertising dimensions got it at our hands, not the enemy’s. It seems more than probable that if we had placed our soldiers out of the way of our own weapons, we should have come out of the most extraordinary battle in all history without a scratch.

Part 2: Wednesday, March 14, 1906

The ominous paralysis continues. There has been a slight sprinkle — an exceedingly slight sprinkle — in the correspondence columns, of angry rebukes of the President for calling this cowardly massacre a “brilliant feat of arms,” and for praising our butchers for “holding up the honor of the flag” in that singular way; but there is hardly a ghost of a whisper about the feat of arms in the editorial columns of the papers.

I hope that this silence will continue. It is about as eloquent and as damaging and effective as the most indignant words could be, I think. When a man is sleeping in a noise, his sleep goes placidly on; but if the noise stops, the stillness wakes him. This silence has continued five days now. Surely it must be waking the drowsy nation. Surely the nation must be wondering what it means. A five-day silence following a world-astonishing event has not happened on this planet since the daily newspaper was invented.

At a luncheon party of men convened yesterday to God-speed George Harvey, who is leaving to-day for a vacation in Europe, all the talk was about the brilliant feat of arms; and no one had anything to say about it that either the President or Major General Dr. Wood, or the damaged Johnson, would regard as complimentary, or as proper comment to put into our histories. Harvey said he believed that the shock and shame of [page 176] this episode would eat down deeper and deeper into the hearts of the nation and fester there and produce results. He believed it would destroy the Republican party and President Roosevelt. I cannot believe that the prediction will come true, for the reason that prophecies which promise valuable things, desirable things, good things, worthy things, never come true. Prophecies of this kind are like wars fought in a good cause — they are so rare that they don’t count.

Day before yesterday the cable-note from the happy General Dr. Wood was still all glorious. There was still proud mention and elaboration of what was called the “desperate hand-to-hand fight.” — Doctor Wood not seeming to suspect that he was giving himself away, as the phrase goes — since if there was any very desperate hand-to-hand fighting it would necessarily happen that nine hundred hand-to-hand fighters, if really desperate, would surely be able to kill more than fifteen of our men before their last man and woman and child perished.

Very well, there was a new note in the dispatches yesterday afternoon — just a faint suggestion that Dr. Wood was getting ready to lower his tone and begin to apologize and explain. He announces that he assumes full responsibility for the fight. It indicates that he is aware that there is a lurking disposition here amidst all this silence to blame somebody. He says there was “no wanton destruction of women and children in the fight, though many of them were killed by force of necessity because the Moros used them as shields in the hand-to-hand fighting.”

This explanation is better than none; indeed it is considerably better than none. Yet if there was so much hand-to-hand fighting there must have arrived a time, toward the end of the four days’ butchery, when only one native was left alive. We had six hundred men present; we had lost only fifteen; why did the six hundred kill that remaining man — or woman, or child?

Dr. Wood will find that explaining things is not in his line. He will find that where a man has the proper spirit in him and the proper force at his command, it is easier to massacre nine hundred unarmed animals than it is to explain why he made it so remorselessly complete. Next he furnishes us this sudden burst of unconscious humor, which shows that he ought to edit his reports before he cables them:

“Many of the Moros feigned death and butchered the American hospital men who were relieving the wounded.”

We have the curious spectacle of hospital men going around trying to [page 177] relieve the wounded savages — for what reason? The savages were all massacred. The plain intention was to massacre them all and leave none alive. Then where was the use in furnishing mere temporary relief to a person who was presently to be exterminated? The dispatches call this battue a “battle.” In what way was it a battle? It has no resemblance to a battle. In a battle there are always as many as five wounded men to one killed outright. When this so-called battle was over, there were certainly not fewer than two hundred wounded savages lying on the field. What became of them? Since not one savage was left alive!

The inference seems plain. We cleaned up our four days’ work and made it complete by butchering those helpless people.

The President’s joy over the splendid achievement of his fragrant pet, General Wood, brings to mind an earlier presidential ecstasy. When the news came, in 1901, that Colonel Funston had penetrated to the refuge of the patriot, Aguinaldo, in the mountains, and had captured him by the use of these arts, to wit: by forgery, by lies, by disguising his military marauders in the uniform of the enemy, by pretending to be friends of Aguinaldo’s and by disarming suspicion by cordially shaking hands with Aguinaldo’s officers and in that moment shooting them down — when the cablegram announcing this “brilliant feat of arms” reached the White House, the newspapers said that that meekest and mildest and gentlest and least masculine of men, President McKinley, could not control his joy and gratitude, but was obliged to express it in motions resembling a dance. Also President McKinley expressed his admiration in another way. He instantly shot that militia Colonel aloft over the heads of a hundred clean and honorable veteran officers of the army and made him a Brigadier General in the regular service, and clothed him in the honorable uniform of that rank, thus disgracing the uniform, the flag, the nation, and himself.

Wood was an army surgeon, during several years, out West among the Indian hostiles. Roosevelt got acquainted with him and fell in love with him. When Roosevelt was offered the colonelcy of a regiment in the iniquitous Cuban-Spanish war, he took the place of Lieutenant Colonel and used his influence to get the higher place for Wood. After the war Wood became our Governor General in Cuba and proceeded to make a mephitic record for himself. Under President Roosevelt, this doctor has been pushed and crowded along higher and higher in the military service — always over the heads of a number of better men — [page 178] and at last when Roosevelt wanted to make him a Major General in the regular army (with only five other Major Generals between him and the supreme command) and knew, or believed, that the Senate would not confirm Wood’s nomination to that great place, he accomplished Wood’s appointment by a very unworthy device. He could appoint Wood himself, and make the appointment good, between sessions of Congress. There was no such opportunity, but he invented one. A special session was closing at noon. When the gavel fell extinguishing the special session, a regular session began instantly. Roosevelt claimed that there was an interval there determinable as the twentieth of a second by a stop-watch, and that during that interval no Congress was in session. By this subterfuge he foisted this discredited doctor upon the army and the nation, and the Senate hadn’t spirit enough to repudiate it.

Let Freedom Ring From Cairo!: Hosni Mubarak Resigns

Posted in Anti-Loons, Feature with tags , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2011 by loonwatch

Is it any surprise that the Islamophobes are the most against this uprising.

Hopefully now the Egyptians can reconstruct the system to be a free and Democratic nation.

Hosni Mubarak resigns as president

(AlJazeera English)

Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, has resigned from his post, handing over power to the armed forces.

Omar Suleiman, the vice-president, announced in a televised address that the president was “waiving” his office, and had handed over authority to the Supreme Council of the armed forces.

Suleiman’s short statement was received with a roar of approval and by celebratory chanting and flag-waving from a crowd of hundreds of thousands in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, as well by pro-democracy campaigners who attended protests across the country on Friday.

The crowd in Tahrir chanted “We have brought down the regime”,  while many were seen crying, cheering and embracing one another.

Mohamed ElBaradei, an opposition leader, hailed the moment as being the “greatest day of my life”, in comments to the Associated Press news agency.

“The country has been liberated after decades of repression,” he said.

“Tonight, after all of these weeks of frustration, of violence, of intimidation … today the people of Egypt undoubtedly [feel they] have been heard, not only by the president, but by people all around the world,” our correspondent at Tahrir Square reported, following the announcement.

“The sense of euphoria is simply indescribable,” our correspondent at Mubarak’s Heliopolis presidential palace, where at least ten thousand pro-democracy activists had gathered, said.

“I have waited, I have worked all my adult life to see the power of the people come to the fore and show itself. I am speechless.” Dina Magdi, a pro-democracy campaigner in Tahrir Square told Al Jazeera.

“The moment is not only about Mubarak stepping down, it is also about people’s power to bring about the change that no-one … thought possible.”

In Alexandria, Egypt’s second city, our correspondent described an “explosion of emotion”. He said that hundreds of thousands were celebrating in the streets.

Pro-democracy activists in the Egyptian capital and elsewhere had earlier marched on presidential palaces, state television buildings and other government installations on Friday, the 18th consecutive day of protests.

Anger at state television

At the state television building earlier in the day, thousands had blocked people from entering or leaving, accusing the broadcaster of supporting the current government and of not truthfully reporting on the protests.

“The military has stood aside and people are flooding through [a gap where barbed wire has been moved aside],” Al Jazeera’s correspondent at the state television building reported.

He said that “a lot of anger [was] generated” after Mubarak’s speech last night, where he repeated his vow to complete his term as president.

‘Gaining momentum’

Outside the palace in Heliopolis, where at least ten thousand protesters had gathered in Cairo, another Al Jazeera correspondent reported that there was a strong military presence, but that there was “no indication that the military want[ed] to crack down on protesters”.

Click here for more of Al Jazeera’s special coverage

She said that army officers had engaged in dialogue with protesters, and that remarks had been largely “friendly”.

Tanks and military personnel had been deployed to bolster barricades around the palace.

Our correspondent said the crowd in Heliopolis was “gaining momentum by the moment”, and that the crowd had gone into a frenzy when two helicopters were seen in the air around the palace grounds.

“By all accounts this is a highly civilised gathering. people are separated from the palace by merely a barbed wire … but nobody has even attempted to cross that wire,” she said.

As crowds grew outside the palace, Mubarak left Cairo on Friday for the Red Sea resort of Sharm al-Shaikh, according to sources who spoke to Al Jazeera.

In Tahrir Square, hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered, chanting slogans against Mubarak and calling for the military to join them in their demands.

Our correspondent at the square said the “masses” of pro-democracy campaigners there appeared to have “clear resolution” and “bigger resolve” to achieve their goals than ever before.

However, he also said that protesters were “confused by mixed messages” coming from the army, which has at times told them that their demands will be met, yet in communiques and other statements supported Mubarak’s staying in power until at least September.

Army statement

In a statement read out on state television at midday on Friday, the military announced that it would lift a 30-year-oldemergency law but only “as soon as the current circumstances end”.

IN VIDEO
http://english.aljazeera.net/AJEPlayer/player-licensed-viral.swf
Thousands are laying siege to state television’s office

The military said it would also guarantee changes to the constitution as well as a free and fair election, and it called for normal business activity to resume.

Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Tahrir Square said people there were hugely disappointed with that army statement, and had vowed to take the protests to “a last and final stage”.

“They’re frustrated, they’re angry, and they say protests need to go beyond Liberation [Tahrir] Square, to the doorstep of political institutions,” she said.

Protest organisers have called for 20 million people to come out on “Farewell Friday” in a final attempt to force Mubarak to step down.

Alexandria protests

Hossam El Hamalawy, a pro-democracy organiser and member of the Socialist Studies Centre, said protesters were heading towards the presidential palace from multiple directions, calling on the army to side with them and remove Mubarak.

“People are extremely angry after yesterday’s speech,” he told Al Jazeera. ”Anything can happen at the moment. There is self-restraint all over but at the same time I honestly can’t tell you what the next step will be … At this time, we don’t trust them [the army commanders] at all.”

An Al Jazeera reporter overlooking Tahrir said the side streets leading into the square were filling up with crowds.

“It’s an incredible scene. From what I can judge, there are more people here today than yesterday night,” she said.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters havehered
in the port city of Alexandria [AFP]

“The military has not gone into the square except some top commanders, one asking people to go home … I don’t see any kind of tensions between the people and the army but all of this might change very soon if the army is seen as not being on the side of the people.”

Hundreds of thousands were participating in Friday prayers outside a mosque in downtown Alexandria, Egypt’s second biggest city.

Thousands of pro-democracy campaigners also gathered outside a presidential palace in Alexandria.

Egyptian television reported that large angry crowds were heading from Giza, adjacent to Cairo, towards Tahrir Square and some would march on the presidential palace.

Protests are also being held in the cities of Mansoura, Mahala, Tanta, Ismailia, and Suez, with thousands in attendance.

Violence was reported in the north Sinai town of el-Arish, where protesters attempted to storm a police station. At least one person was killed, and 20 wounded in that attack, our correspondent said.

Dismay at earlier statement

In a televised address to the nation on Thursday, Mubarak said he was handing “the functions of the president” to Vice-President Omar Suleiman. But the move means he retains his title of president.

Halfway through his much-awaited speech late at night, anticipation turned into anger among protesters camped inTahrir Square who began taking off their shoes and waving them in the air.

Immediately after Mubarak’s speech, Suleiman called on the protesters to “go home” and asked Egyptians to “unite and look to the future.”

Union workers have joined the protests over the past few days, effectively crippling transportation and several industries, and dealing a sharper blow to Mubarak’s embattled regime.

 

UK: Loonwatch Cited in the Independent

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 15, 2010 by loonwatch

Robert Irwin wrote an excellent review of Martin Gilbert’s recent book on a history of Jews in Muslim lands. Martin Gilbert you may remember was a pundit on Obsession: Radical Islam’s War against the West (debunked by the website Obsession for Hate) which essentially claimed Islam was the same as Nazism.

Irwin mentions that Gilbert cites Bat Ye’or favorably a number of times even though she is thoroughly discredited on all fronts and he cites Loonwatch as a source exposing her loonieness and shoddy scholarship, referring particularly to our piece, “Bat Ye’or: Anti-Muslim Loon with a Crazy Conspiracy Theory Named “Eurabia.”

The House of Ishmael: A history Of The Jews In Muslim Land, By Martin Gilbert

by Robert Irwin

The subtitle to Martin Gilbert’s new book (his 81st?) is a little misleading. This is not really a general account of the fortunes and misfortunes of Jews under Muslim rule from the seventh century until the present day. The early centuries are rushed through and, although Gilbert is aware of the magnificent and fabulously detailed account of Jewish lifein medieval Egypt provided by SD Goitein’s five-volume A Mediterranean Society, he makes little use of it.

Similarly, though Gilbert quotes Bernard Lewis once, he has made surprisingly scant use of Lewis’s brilliant articles on the Jews under Turkish rule, which drew both on Hebrew sources and the Ottoman archives. Lewis’s The Jews of Islam (1984) remains the best, most balanced and accessible account of the Jews under Muslim rule.

By contrast In the House of Ishmael reads more like a bill of indictment than a history. It is overwhelmingly focused on the sufferings of the Jews in the Islamic lands in the 20th and 21st centuries in the wake of the foundation of the Zionist movement, the establishment of Israel and the successive victories of Israel over Arab armies. The indictment is damning indeed.

From Afghanistan to Morocco, Jews were made to suffer for the successes of Zionism. They were humiliated, robbed, raped, imprisoned, tortured and killed. In Iraq and elsewhere there were mass hangings of innocent Jews. For one Iraqi Jew driven out by pogroms of the 1940s this was “a tragedy which turned out to be a blessing in disguise – it got us out of that dreadful country and away from its destructive, treacherous and savage people”.

Gilbert makes use of copious anecdotal evidence and statistics to chronicle a shameful side of Arab and Islamic history. In the aftermath of the creation of Israel, 726,000 Palestinian Arabs were made refugees, while 850,000 Jews had to abandon their homes in the Arab lands. With some difficulty, Israel succeeded in assimilating most of the Jewish refugees. By contrast, the Palestinian refugees still languish in crowded camps. The paradox is that violent Arab racism and paranoia helped populate Israel.

Gilbert has so much material and such a strong case that it should not have been necessary to stack the deck. Yet it seems to me that he has done so and his use of sources is sometimes questionable. For his account of how the Jews in 13th-century Basra were forced to wear clothing that marked their lower status he cites a Jewish traveller, Jacob of Ancona, who allegedly travelled from Italy to China. But when in 1997 the purported narrative of Jacob’s travels was published by David Selbourne as The City of Light, the Sinologists Jonathan Spence and Tim Barrett, the Jewish historians David and Bernard Wasserstein and myself all challenged the authenticity of the text. Since then no original manuscript has turned up. It would have been safer to have relied on Goitein’s material.

Gilbert’s notes cite Bat Ye’or with approval several times. When, in 2002, her book Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide appeared, I reviewed it and then threw the book away. Bat Ye’or is not an academic and her books are poorly ordered assemblages of facts, real or alleged, that relentlessly show Islam and Arabs in an unfavourable light.

She believes that there is an Islamic conspiracy to turn Europe into something she calls “Eurabia”. Those interested to get a fuller sense of the dementedly Islamophobic polemics of this woman should consult the website http://www.loonwatch.com.

When Gilbert discusses what was happening in Palestine during the British mandate, he quotes Joan Peters’s From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict over Palestine to back up his assertion that more Arabs than Jews entered Palestine as immigrants in the 1930s. But when that book was published in 1984, critics swiftly demonstrated that its use of archives and statistics was seriously flawed and substantially misleading. Yehoshua Porath, professor of Middle East History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, denounced the book as “sheer forgery”.

Israel can be seen as the salvation of the Jews of the Middle East, but it can also be seen as their curse. One Iraqi Jewish woman confessed that she “nursed a grudge. I felt that all the horrible things that were happening to us were because of Israel, because of your dream and your wars. You celebrated the victories, and we paid the price of those wars. Now I can see that we were saved because of the existence and efforts of Israel”.

In the House of Ishmael, full of vivid accounts of Jewish sufferings in the Middle East, did not need the testimony of false friends to pad its grim story out. Its account of the slow-burning tragedy of the extinction of Jewish communities in the Arab world is moving and important. It should be read.

Robert Irwin’s ‘For Lust of Knowing: The Orientalists and Their Enemies’ is published by Penguin

 

Garry Wills Discusses “Muslims” on the Colbert Report:

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 2, 2010 by loonwatch
Stephen Colbert

Stephen Colbert had historian Garry Wills on his program discussing the issues of the day. He was asked what is the issue that will divide us today? Willis replied, “Muslims.” (hat tip: Just a Fan)

Check it out:

St. Rose of Lima Church was opposed by Murfreesoboro Residents

Posted in Loon Pastors, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on July 28, 2010 by loonwatch

Very interesting article from the website HispanicNashville on the parallels between the Murfreesboro Mosque and the first Catholic Church built in Murfreesboro.

St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, like mosque today, was opposed by Murfreesboro residents

The first Catholic person in the Americas to become a saint, Saint Rose of Lima, was born in the capital city of Peru. A church in nearby Murfreesboro bears her name. And like a local mosque that faces vocal opposition for a recently announced building project, the history of Saint Rose of Lima Catholic Church of Murfreesboro also reveals local opposition to one of its planned houses of worship, according to the Daily News-Journal:

A New York couple, Mr. and Mrs. Francis Hoffman, stopped in Murfreesboro on a train trip in 1925. During the layover, they searched in vain for a Catholic church and mass. “Some months later Bishop A. J. Smith in Nashville received a gift to build a chapel” in Murfreesboro. Mrs. Hoffman requested that the new place of worship be named for her patron saint, Saint Rose of Lima.

A lot on the northeast corner of University and Lytle was purchased for the new church from Helen C. Earthman on April 25, 1929, for $2,500.

This plan to construct the county’s first Catholic Church was the target of a local KKKprotest march.

The Daily News-Journal article quotes 93-year-old Murfreesboro historian C.B. Arnette, 93, who witnessed the march protesting the new building for the Saint Rose of Lima congregation.  Arnette said you could recognize marchers by their shoes: one marcher was a local physician, and another was a Church of Christ preacher.

What was the reason for the opposition to Catholics?  The Tennessean points out the history of the 20th century KKK as an organization created in opposition to (mostly Catholic) immigration, preaching “racism, anti-Catholicism, nativism (favoring of native inhabitants over immigrants) and anti-Semitism.”  A commenter points out that Catholics were described as national security threats:

In the 1920s, Hiram Evans, the Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan rose to prominence with a populist, nativistic, and anti-intellectual message to the American public. Klan members identified the Irish and Italian members of Anarchists, IWW, and WFM organizations as national threats that sought to overthrow the government through force. The Klan’s job was to protect Americans from these corrosive elements. They labeled Individuals such as Carlo Tresca, Mother Jones, and Nicola Sacco as “bomb-throwing lunatics.” The Catholics also came under close scrutiny because the pope was a “monarchist” and the Catholics subverted the nation. The Catholic “monarchists” would never assimilate because their religious structure conflicted with the republican ideas of Protestants who had decentralized church hierarchies.

Construction of Saint Rose of Lima’s new building continued anyway, and the building was dedicated just six months after the property was purchased.  The congregation of Saint Rose of Lima Catholic Church of Murfreesboro thrives to this day.

Modern parallels to Saint Rose of Lima history

In modern-day Murfreesboro, the announcement of the construction of a new mosque building, where Muslim faith would be practiced, has also faced opposition.  As reported locally and nationally – including by ABC News – much of the opposition to the mosque has come from local Christians and been in general opposition to Islam:

“We have a duty to investigate anyone under the banner of Islam,” Allen Jackson, thepastor of World Outreach Church, said at the meeting.

Others were quoted by the Tennessean with similar remarks:

“Everybody knows they are trying to kill us.” -Karen Harrell

“Islam is a system of government. Islam is a system of justice. … “I’m afraid we’ll have a training facility in Rutherford County.” -George Erdel

“It’s an ideology. It’s not a religion.” -Bob Hayes

But some Christians and others, including Mike Williams of Smyrna (quoted in another Tennesseanarticle), have gathered and spoken out in favor of the mosque’s construction project:

[Mike] Williams, who attends All Saints Episcopal Church in Smyrna, said he believes “very strongly that all of us are the children of a God.

“We are entitled to an equal inheritance. In America, our inheritance is freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the color of skin. In short, the Constitution of the United States belongs to all of us.”

Williams is one of a number of politicians who have sided with the Constitution on this controversy.  Another is Ben Leming:

I made a stand to protect the rights of every American, not just those that form the majority.  … Unfortunately, there are many people that disagree strongly with or don’t understand this basic American principle and how it should protect the rights of others. … Right now they are lining up to deny other Americans their Constitutional rights and discredit our mission to put the people of Middle Tennessee first in Washington.

Words of wisdom for Christians and Muslims alike, as quoted by the Tennessean, came from MTSU professor Rabbi Rami Shapiro:

“I think people should listen very carefully to their clergy and what they teach. If they teach violence and hatred (of other religions), I think it is incumbent upon the parishioner to get up and walk out.”