Summer-Time, Posts and Off-Topic

Hi all.

I have been a bit irregular in my  postings and simply put it is a combination of last-minute work requirements, my desire to watch football and trying to get some form of Summer Vacation, even if broken into segments.

Travelling to see clients and check-up visits to our offices overseas (I have now an office in both Casablanca and Istanbul) is fun for about the first two days in each location and then simply I miss my wife and kids.  Interestingly, coming back to Rotterdam does not make for a rest though.  My staff are great and everything is ready, but the trips overseas generates report writing, follow-up emails and calls and the endless discussion with the providers.  Defence procurement is an exiting business but in the end, it is just sales and after-sales service.

As someone who has grown-up with football (I have family directly in the playing and coaching sides of first grade Dutch football) you would imagine that the World Cup is dominating my time and mind.  That has not transpired, not for a lack of trying.   I missed the first week due to travel, watched bits and pieces of the second, got the third, missed the knock-out but did get through friends a ticket for the quarter finals which, if Holland did well enough, should be in it.   They did, I got to jump on a flight, watch a match, stay with a friend who lives there for the night and was on the next flight back.   It was great, the vuvuzelas gave me a migraine for two days, I was tired but in the end I can say I was there and did it and watched my country progress.   They have progressed even further and I hope into the history books at last.

One thing that I have discovered over the almost 30 years of work is the need for a good planned vacation.  I used to be a “Greece Person” going to Corfu, more recently to Croatia and Macedonia – which I recommend to anyone who can.    I do not go to North Africa, Turkey or The Lebanon because I go there often and at least once a year I can afford on an extra-long weekend to bring the Family – so they know it.       Two years ago I changed everything, and through some friends – actually business contacts – I purchased an on-site Caravan near Malmo in Sweden.   Why would I do that with all the exciting places I can go to?  That is easy actually and probably you have all worked it out, Scandinavia is a beautiful place and during Summer is something that “wakes-up” after a long cold winter.  That I do get to go to the Mediterranean often means that it will never be that special, and I prefer to go to places that are quiet and not full of tourists like Greece is.  My last two times to the Croatian coast and Macedonia was wonderful but the tourists are heading that way to, so why not go a bit simple and go with the caravan, forests, lakes and yes, even beach – well stony but still beach.     I am now there,  my tired, slow but still functioning mobile internet card from Casablanca is serving me and that is all I care about.    I write this in front of my bbq, siting on a deck chair, my kids are getting hungry and tomorrow or the next day maybe we will drive to Helsinki Finland for a day after a day on a cruise-ship.  The problem with that plan is how and in which location do I want to celebrate Holland’s World Cup victory?

Donny vdH

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Question for Debate: Israeli’s Settlements – Legitimacy and Size

Below is an item republished in full from Amy Teibel, an Associated Press Writer, called ” Israeli settlements cover 42 percent of West Bank(full aknowledgement given).  It explains that Israeli Human Rights Group “B’Tselem” says the figure as high as 42 per cent of the West Bank is now in control of Israeli Settlers.  Of course Settlers argue that it is not so and only 9 per cent is controlled by them.  

source: opendemocracy.net

 

What do you think?   We know that much of the driving force behind the Settler Movement is in fact ultra-orthodox religious zeal, and that their claims to settlements is based on the assumption that all of the West Bank is in fact the God-Given Israel of ancient times.   At the same time, B’Tselem is not Palestinian nor is it Muslim, so for what reason would they point this information out?  They are well respected, award winning and the only criticism (and to a degree violence towards them) appears to only come from pro-Settlement organisations, the Settlers themselves and members of the far-right in government and the Israeli military (of which much of BTselem’s criticism gives.   It would be correct to say that Settlements continue, that is as aparant as the existance of an internationally condemned blockade on Gaza.

So the questions are, who do we believe?  What is the motives for such a figure?  What are the implications of such a figure?

JERUSALEM – Jewish settlements control more than 42 percent of the West Bank, and much of that land was seized from Palestinian landowners in defiance of an Israeli Supreme Court ban, an Israeli human rights group said Tuesday.

The group’s findings echo what other anti-settlement activists have claimed in the past: That settlements have taken over lands far beyond their immediate perimeters, sometimes from private Palestinians. Israel’s settlements have been a much-criticized enterprise throughout the decades and a major obstacle to peacemaking with the Palestinians.

“The extensive geographic-spatial changes that Israel has made in the landscape of the West Bank undermine the negotiations that Israel has conducted for 18 years with the Palestinians and breach its international obligations,” the B’Tselem group said in a summary of its report.

Settlers disputed the figures and said the report by the B’Tselem group was politically motivated. Israeli officials had no comment.

The report was based on official state documents, including military maps and a military settlement database, the B’Tselem said.

Although the actual buildings of the settlements cover just 1 percent of the West Bank’s land area, their jurisdiction and regional councils extends to more than 42 percent, the group added.

Twenty-one percent of the land for these settlements was seized from Palestinian landowners, much of it after Israel’s Supreme Court outlawed the practice in 1979.

Dani Dayan, chairman of the settlers council, said settlements control just 9.2 percent of the West Bank, not 42 percent.

“It’s a political report by an organization that has been taken over the most radical anti-Israel elements,” Dayan said. “The whole point is to sabotage the meeting between (Israeli Prime Minister) Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama.”

Netanyahu was en route Tuesday to Washington, where he was due to meet with Obama later in the day to discuss advancing peacemaking and other regional issues.

Some 300,000 Jews live in West Bank settlements and an additional 180,000 live in Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem. Israel captured both territories from Jordan in the 1967 Mideast war, along with the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinians envision all three areas for a future state.

Wilders – Out of Coalition Talks as a Threat to Democracy

Dutch media has been reporting that Wilders will not be a part of any government coalition, mostly due to the simple fact that Wilders is a threat to democracy and is unwilling to “change his ways”.

According to the Volkskrant, during a parliamentary debate on progress made towards creating a new cabinet after the June 9 general election on Tuesday night, Rutte asked Wilders seven times to join him. Wilders was asked by several party leaders during the debate to answer the point about democracy made by CDA leader Maxime Verhagen but he declined to comment the Financieele Dagblad explained and quoted Verhagen as saying that they will not join the VVD and PVV because of the potential threat to democracy.

Labour leader Job Cohen said during the debate that Wilders’ refusal to talk means the door has now been firmly closed on a right-wing cabinet.

Quoting David Kilcullen’s calling the decision to invade Iraq “stupid”

David Kilcullen is a modern professional military strategist recognized by many.  A former Australian Army officer, he was later as a civilian one of the Senior Counterinsurgency Adviser’s of General Patraeus that resulted formed actual results in Iraq.  He has worked for the US State Department, is a major contributor to programs in counter-terrorism and is an advisor to a number of western governments and NATO.

What I like is he speaks his mind regardless of the politics and is in a position to do so.  He battles radicalism in the form of terrorism and stupid political input in the most serious of situations – war.  

My partial quote from Kilcullen early last year (6 March 2009) is about his view about deciding to invade Iraq.  He has all but admitted that in a private conversation (that had gone public) was that he called it “f*cking stupid”.   He chose, to clarify the reasons for his opinion in a better format.  I suggest this in the Small Wars Journal and I suggest for context purposes that you read the entire item by him called “Accidental Guerrilla: Read Before Burning”.  Full acknowledgement to the author and Small Wars Journal. 

Spencer Ackerman, in yesterday’s Washington Independent, claims I told him the Iraq war was “f*cking stupid”. He did not seek to clear that quote with me, and I would not have approved it if he had. If he HAD sought a formal comment, I would have told him what I have said publicly before: in my view, the decision to invade Iraq in 2003 was an extremely serious strategic error. But the task of the moment is not to cry over spilt milk, rather to help clean it up: a task in which the surge, the comprehensive counterinsurgency approach, and our troops on the ground are admirably succeeding.

Anyone who knows me has been well aware of my position on Iraq for years. When I went to Iraq in 2007 (and on both previous occasions) it was to end the war, by suppressing the violence and defeating the insurgency. (Note: I said END the war, not abandon it half-way through, leaving the Iraqis to be slaughtered. When we invaded Iraq, we took on a moral and legal responsibility for its people’s wellbeing. Regardless of anyone’s position on the decision to invade, those obligations still stand and cannot be wished away merely because they have proven inconvenient)…The question of whether we were right to invade Iraq is a fascinating debate for historians and politicians, and a valid issue for the American people to consider in an election year. As it happens, I think it was a mistake. But that is not my key concern. The issue for practitioners in the field is not to second-guess a decision from six years ago, but to get on with the job at hand which, I believe, is what both Americans and Iraqis expect of us. In that respect, the new strategy and tactics implemented in 2007, and which relied for their effectiveness on the extra troop numbers of the Surge, ARE succeeding and need to be supported.

 

The Forbidden Love/Lie Saga Revisited

The Best Seller that proved to be a fraud....

If you do not know the story, there is this author called Norma Khouri which is the pen name for Norma Bagain Toliopoulos nee Bagain, born in Jordan.  She is famous or should we say infamous for her book called Forbidden Love (called Honor Lost in the United States of America).

Forbidden Love/Honor Lost is a novel that Khouri said is based on the real-life and death story of a Jordanian Muslim girl murdered in so-called honor-killing by her father because she fell in love with a Christian soldier.  In the story the authorities let the case go because it was “honor related”.    It was a best-seller, Khouri was acclaimed as a fearless feminist exposer of the horrors of life in Arab Muslim countries and the anti-Islam community started shouting louder than ever.  This was 2003, “presenting herself as a 34-year-old Catholic Jordanian virgin with a price on her head, Khouri moved to Australia and whooped it up on the literary and media circuits for a year before Sydney Morning Herald journalist Malcolm Knox exposed the work as little more than a pack of lies. (Variety Magazine)  Khouri actually comes from Chicago, where she is known to the FBI as a married mother under different aliases.

Her book and scam was identified by Malcolm Knox and subject of a very well presented documentary film called “Forbidden Lie$” that exposes the entire process.  The LA Times review of the film says some interesting things:

As exposed by an Australian journalist, “Forbidden Love” looks to be what one authority calls “a complete fabrication from top to bottom.” Not only are many factual details about Amman wrong, but Jordanian human rights advocates and activists who have spent their lives fighting honor killings convincingly claim that Dalia’s death never even happened.

More than that, far from being a “married to the cause” zealot, Khouri turns out to be a woman with a husband and two children and a complicated past: She’s been on the FBI’s radar as a suspect in real-estate fraud in Chicago, her home before she moved to Australia.

I have brought up this saga, though already convincingly condemned as a fraud and fabrication for multiple reasons, because of the unrealistic vision it gives of the reality of life of women in Jordan and the Arab/Muslim world as a whole.  How such “rubbish” has played into the hands of the agenda-based hate-crowd, the self-proclaimed anti-jihad movement and is still being quoted and assumed as accurate, when it is not.   Additionally it hurts, gives no support nor recognition to the real battles faced by women in these countries.  Honor-Killing, which really should be called Cultural-Based-Killings certainly exists, globally and the majority of it is not actually from the Arab-Turkic world but the Sub-Continent and because that does not help these agenda scum, the ugly reality is neither shown nor given the respect and concern deserved.  It is done for profit and fame by Khouri and the ugly agenda crowd.   As Wiki states in its summary of the film Forbidden Lie$:

Ironically, Khouri’s first critics are Jordanian women, feminists who, when interviewed for the documentary, take issue with western perspectives of Muslim women as victims with no control over their lives. One of the critics visits an office for assisting victims of abuse. The director of the facility remarks that they have received no donations from royalties on Khouri’s book.

Many details of the story are contrasted against demonstrated fact. Khouri’s description of geographic and other details of Jordan are wrong (hotels, a gym and various businesses mentioned in the story did not exist during the period in which the events of the book occur).

Khouri’s claims of restrictions requiring women to wear the hijab when traveling outside the home, and that women can never leave without a male escort are contrasted with street scenes showing women traveling unescorted and uncovered. Nobody living on the street where Dalia was murdered remembers such a crime occurring. Dalia’s father could not remain out on bail pending his prosecution because murderers in Jordan are not given bail, nor are they tried in Shariah court. The documentary crew visits the Palestine Hospital where Khouri claims Dalia’s body had been taken. Some details of the hospital are consistent with those of the book, but many are clearly wrong – including Khouri’s description of the morgue.

Honor-Killings (Cultural-Based-Killings) is a global issue of which half the number of incidents occur in South Asia alone, not that some want you to know that....

The above photo, of a 2008 Indian village killings, will get almost no recognition in the global press but in fact is more common than all the Middle-East and West Asia put together, possibly half of global figures.  If anything, the shameful political, moral and other hate agendas that target Islam as the only source of such horrors results in the deliberate down-playing, lack of recognition and denial of the total problem and in particular those victims in South Asia.   Like the hate-monger and hypocrit Phillis Chesler, a mental-health professional who willingly fabricates and abuses context to produce so-called “reports” that tells us it is mostly and almost only Muslims that do it – on memory of the thousands of victims world-wide, we must not only reject them – we must condemn and expose them!

Dedicated to the real brave pioneers in equality and human rights....

...... and those who stand-up and remember the victims.

Funding Wilder’s Hate – The Israel Lobby Connection

Reading the opinion section of DutchNews.nl (Wilders and the US – Israel Lobby), there was an interesting point about how Wilders gets his funding.   For me it explains so much, that his paymasters are behind him trying to get a dangerous Israeli Spy elected to the Dutch Parliament.   Also, the links to ugly hate websites like FrontPage Magazine and blogs like Jihad Watch.   Disturbing and adding to the bigger picture, Wilder’s attendance at the hate-fest Facing Jihad Conference in Jerusalem was sponsored by Arieh Eldad, leader of extreme right Hatikva party, that simply wants all the Arabs (to them there is no Palestinians) out of the West Bank (now we know why Wilders is obliged to say that Palestinians are really Jordanians). 

The item is extremely condemning on many fronts, particularly against Israel and not necessarily supported by me, it is an opinion.  I think it does explain a few things in regards to Wilders’ funding and thus links, influences and obligations.    I always recommend, and in this case insist, that the entire item be read to understand the context of the author. Full acknowledgements of course to the author Giles Scott-Smith of TheHollandBureau.com

A crucial detail about Wilders’ party, the PVV, is that it only has two official members: himself, and the Friends of the PVV Foundation which he formed as a finance-gathering apparatus. 

Dutch law states that every party with a membership of 100,000 or more can receive state subsidy. Wilders’ decision to keep his party in his own hands therefore also has severe financial consequences. 

Someone else aside from the Dutch state has to provide the money. Much of it comes from the US, where Wilders travels regularly. According to the Volkskrant, in 2008 Wilders even changed the statutes of the Foundation to ensure that it could be used to accept donations for legal cases – the grounds of which remain unspecified in the document – that he might be faced with. 

The Dutch press has tracked down several of the principal financial sources for the PVV in the US. Two figures stand out: David Horowitz and Daniel Pipes. Horowitz runs the online FrontPage Magazine and the David Horowitz Freedom Center, which with an annual budget of around 5 million dollars is an important financier of outlets such as Jihad Watch and Islam critic Robert Spencer. 

According to the NRC, it was Horowitz who introduced the Dutchman to leading conservative activists Senator Jim DeMint and Dick Cheney´s daughter Liz last year, and brought Wilders into contact with one of his own financiers who is not named. 

Pipes is founder of the pro-Israeli Middle East Forum and has long been in favour of a pre-emptive strike against Iran. Pipes also formed the Legal Project in 2007 to raise and distribute funds for researchers, journalists, and authors who face legal battles based on their critical statements about Islam – ‘jihad by court’, as they say. 

Wilders is of course an ideal recipient. In 2009 Pipes managed to round up “an amount in six figures” for Wilders in the USA. Interesting detail is that both Horowitz and Pipes belong to the Right of the Republicans but see Wilders mainly as a useful extension of their pro-Israeli agitating. 

Theselinks are all the more remarkable because during his time as a member of the VVD (prior to 2004) Wilders followed the line of that party – sympathy for Israel but critical of any moves that would disrupt chances for lasting peace. 

Wilders even spoke out against the West Bank wall and the continuing expansion of settlements. But his designs for the PVV as his vehicle to political power demanded a regular sizeable income, and that meant cozying up to the radical anti-Islamic Right. Again according to the Vrij Nederland, showings of Fitna in the US last year came with a $2500 price tag for those wanting to join GW at the top table. 

 

Wilders condemned disloyalty, implying Muslims' loyality was elsewhere. We wonder to whom Wilders' real loyalty is to?

Walid Shoebat: Con Artist and Hate-for-Profiteer

Often the name Walid Shoebat comes up in the anti-Islam blogosphere; praised as a “former terrorist”, the honest zealous convert to Christianity, writes books about the ugliness of Islam, his defending of Israel and his warnings about jihad taking over America.   Sounds too much, as Sarah Palin would say “you bet ya!”

Walid Shoebat is a con artist – who pushes his questionable history to advantage, abused his heritage for advantage, became a zealous evangelical Christian either for profit or out of madness and hangs around other hate-for-profiteers to roll-around in self-praise.

Shoebat is half-Palestinian, half-American, not that this matters.  He claims to be a former PLO terrorist but as many have pointed out, there is no evidence of such and the example he gives, of attacking an Israeli bank is rejected by the Bank itself, the PLO and the Jerusalem Post  as absurd  (Bank Leumi said that “after checking its files, the bank said it had no record of an attack on its Bethlehem branch anywhere in the relevant 1977-79 period”.) .   His links to Evangelical groups that have also claimed to have had ex-terrorists amongst them, with equal questionable backgrounds, has only added to the doubt of this farce.

This evangelical link has had mixed benefit and added hypocrisy for Shoebat.  Chosing to go down this path guarantees an audience and book buyers, thus income.  At the same time, he has to sell to the religious zealots and this falls flat.

Recently Shoebat claimed that the word “666″ in the Book of Revelation was actually a misreading of the Arabic phrase “in the name of Allah”, supernaturally revealed to the author who copied the Arabic script as he saw it.”  That he had seen this “Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Sinaiticus”.   As one popular Christian blogger pointed out, ”  So, does the  Codex Sinaiticus offer any better evidence to favour Shoebat’s claim? The digitised text has just been made available on-line, and the answer is, as expected, ”no”. The Codex Sinaiticus actually spells the number out as “six hundred and sixty six.  In other words, Shoebat’s claim is an epic fail at all levels, and as regards the Codex Sinaiticus he either lied about seeing it or lied about what he saw”.

In late 2007 Shoebat along with those other Evangelicals were involved in the Colorado Springs Air Force Academy contraversy.   Elements of the US Air Force Academy’s religous right allowed Shoebat and two others under the banner of anti-terrorism experts  to speak to the students.    It was described by Prof. Douglas Howard, who teaches the history of the modern Middle East at Calvin College in Grand Rapids said “It was just an old time gospel hour — ‘Jesus can change your life, he changed mine,’ that is mixed in with ‘Watch out America, wake up America, the danger of Islam is here.’ ”   Professor Howard said his doubts about their authenticity grew after stories like the Golan Heights saga as well as something on Mr. Saleem’s Web site along the lines that he was descended from the grand wazir of Islam. “The grand wazir of Islam is a nonsensical term.”   (Saleem, one of the three is Kamal Saleem, who has a similar hate-for-profit website and makes outrageous claims of being an important terrorist and who “educates state and federal political leaders, military leaders, intelligence specialists, security officials and contractors, law enforcement agencies”, yet does not even merit even a Wikipedia page).  As someone who has worked with the national security, law enforcement and other agencies, one does not advertise it without serious back-up or one does not advertize it at all.

Shoebat’s website has the standard three elements that hate-for-profiteers seem to have in common.  It has lots of phrases/links to horrible acts or radical quotes, it praises those that give him money (in this case it is pro-right-wing Israeli and Evangelical, and lastly it has lots of money-making links and pictures of his books.   There is not much academic, newsworthy and impartial in any of it.  It quotes Martin Luther King Jr about love, without considering it disrespectful and most certainly the great man would have considered Shoebat a fraud.    

Amongst the quotes of Shoebat in his website he proudly claims that “”The occupation is in the minds of Children who are taught hatred.”  That is strange considering all but pro-Settlers consider Israel “occupied”.  Even the Prime Minister of Israel calls it a occuption.   We assume that there is no “Two State Solution” option for Shoebat, that the race of his father simply does not exist.  Why is that Walid?   It may be in his other quote “Why is it that on June 4th 1967 I was a Jordanian and overnight I became a Palestinian?”.   We can guess that identity is not an issue for him and he is carefully following the ultra-orthodox political line that Palestinians are Jordanians and should go there.   For a devout American Evangelist, why is he towing a dangerous, fringe ultra-orthodox Jewish party-line?    He is often targeted as being a pawn of Israel.  I do not know that, but he may very well have sold-out to a certain fringe radical group within it, a bit like Wilders, with no logical connection that can be fathomed except for money, support and sales.

On the same front page as the above quotes, Shoebat also says that “The Israeli Arab Conflict is not about geography but about Jew hatred” and yet a few lines down says “No one (Arab or Jew) has a “right of return” Jews who fled Arab persecution from 1948 to 1956 should have no right of return to Arab lands, and Arabs who ran away in 1948 and 1967 should have no right of return either”.    So it is about land afterall and conveniently Jews should not have a right of return to lands that they do not want to go back to anyhow?  Get real Walid, the subject is about land and your following the Settler Arguments down to the full stop at the end of the sentence.

The question of Israel for me is about radicalism, those against it and those defending it with the average person on both sides of the border suffering for it.    The Settler Movement is an ugly religous-based excuse for land-grabbing and is as evil as the radical hijackers who took over the resistance against it.   Walid Shoebat may claim to be an Evangelist, from his work above he is failing to prove that, but there is no doubt that he is used, abused and backed by the radical Zionist Settler Movement.

Sham, scam-artist, con-man, hypocrite, cultural sell-out, ugly radical – take your pick, all are good descriptive of the scum known as Walid Shoebat, profiteer from hate.