Monday, February 28, 2005

Islamic Jihad is trying to destroy the recent peace moves between Israel and the Palestinians. Ha'aretz lists the victims of the latest attack.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

In this article on possible threats to the Temple Mount by Jewish extremists, Temple Mount attack could foil pullout, Noam Federman, a member of the Israeli far-right, says, "No one wants the mosques there," Federman said. "But people are torn between the desire to bring them down and the fear that if they are destroyed the Muslims will build more beautiful mosques in their place." It strikes me as highly peculiar that this man, who clearly wants to destroy the mosques on the Temple Mount, thinks that the ones currently there (Al Aksa Mosque and Dome of the Rock) are beautiful! And that the worst thing that could happen as a result of destroying these mosques is Muslims building more beautiful mosques! Kind of a back-handed compliment to the beauties of Islamic architecture....

(Link courtesy of Jim Davila at PaleoJudaica)

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Just a reminder that one good place to go for news on Darfur is at the blog - Sudan: The Passion of the Present. It gives history of the crisis, ongoing coverage, and connections to many groups trying to act on Darfur.
This is a really heart-breaking story about Darfur - Darfur's Babies of Rape Are on Trial From Birth. One woman who was raped by janjaweed said about her newborn daughter, "She is a janjaweed" - "When people see her light skin and her soft hair, they will know she is a janjaweed."

A recent United Nations investigation into war crimes in Darfur laid out, in page after graphic page, evidence of widespread and systematic rape in the two-year conflict. In one incident, a woman in Wadi Tina was raped 14 times by different men in January 2003. In March 2004, 150 soldiers and janjaweed abducted and raped 16 girls in Kutum, the report said. In Kailek, it said girls as young as 10 were raped by militants.

The fruit of these attacks is now being born in Darfur, and will inevitably become a long-term legacy of the conflict. In a society where deep taboos surrounding rape persist and identity is passed, according to Muslim tradition, from father to child, the fate of these children and their mothers is uncertain.

"She will stay with us for now," Adoum Muhammad Abdulla, the sheik of Fatouma's village, said of the days-old infant. "We will treat her like our own. But we will watch carefully when she grows up, to see if she becomes like a janjaweed. If she behaves like janjaweed, she cannot stay among us."

The fact that he and the new mothers call the children janjaweed, a local insult that means "devil on horseback," underscores just how bitter the division between those who identify themselves as Africans and those who see themselves as Arabs has become, and points to the potential difficulty of acceptance and integration in the years ahead.

In my Judaism class this semester, we are reading Elie Wiesel's book Night, and then discussing the meaning of the vow "never again" in the context of ongoing genocide since 1945 - especially now, in Darfur. What does it mean to say "never again" and really mean it? How can the world act in such a way as to prevent genocides or to stop them when they are occurring?

Last week on NPR's Morning Edition, Scott Simon interviewed Romeo Dallaire, who was the commander of the U.N. mission in Rwanda in 1994 - when the U.N. did not order him to do anything to stop the genocide. Simon asked him what could be done today to stop the killing in Darfur, and he said that he thought a "medium power," like France or Germany, should step in with troops to stop the fighting and enable relief organizations to help the millions of refugees in Darfur.

On today's Morning Edition, John Garang, the leader of the People's Liberation Movement in southern Sudan, which has just signed an agreement with the Sudanese central government to end decades of fighting and death, and whose group is in an alliance with the rebel groups in Darfur, called upon African Union troops and others to band together to stop the fighting and janjaweed attacks in Darfur.

It seems clear what the solution is - a sizable military force must enter the Darfur region to stop the attacks on civilians by the janjaweed and Sudanese government soldiers, bring a ceasefire between the rebels and the government forces, in order to allow aid agencies to feed people and get them medical care. But who is going to do this? The U.S. is now involved in a fruitless fight at the U.N. over how to try accused Sudanese war criminals - with the U.S. arguing that they shouldn't be tried in the International Criminal Court. I don't understand why this argument is happening while the killing is still going on. Isn't the most important thing to stop the killing? It seems like an excuse for everyone, including the U.S. government, to avoid actually doing anything.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Latest on Ward Churchill: Hamilton College Cancels Event Amid Protests on Panelist's 9/11 Essay. The college decided to cancel the event because of "credible threats of violence." I wish that Hamilton hadn't invited him in the first place, but on the other hand, it's not right that threats of violence should keep him from speaking there. I don't believe that threats should be allowed to prevent someone from speaking in public, no matter how repugnant his views. By the same token, universities in Canada have refused to allow some Israeli speakers to appear (after having being invited), out of fear of violent responses (my recollection is that Ehud Barak was disinvited to speak at Concordia University for this reason). I think the college or university should do their best to arrange protection for the speaker and the college, rather than backing down in the face of threats.
More on Ward Churchill at Hamilton in today's New York Times - Unrest on Campus Over Speaker Who Sees U.S. Role in 9/11. Some details reported that haven't appeared in other sources:

The college newspaper, The Spectator, published a photograph of Professor Churchill wearing a camouflage jacket, beret and sunglasses while posing with an assault weapon.

A peaceful guy!

Churchill has also responded to his critics:

For his part, Professor Churchill said in an interview, "My reaction is astonishment. This is a three-year-old piece that has been spun mercilessly and distorted. The comparison was of technocrats. Eichmann is someone who, after all, killed no one. He made the trains run on time." . . . "Of course I have sympathy for the World Trade Center victims," he added, "the same sympathy I have for victims who are Iraqi and Palestinians."

Among other things, Churchill is abominably ignorant about Eichmann's role - he was a prime organizer of the Final Solution, and as such, one of the Nazis' greatest mass murderers. And as I said before, how could one regard the restaurant workers, cleaners, and illegal aliens in the WTC as any kind of equivalent to Nazis? (Not that I regard any of the people working there in that way!)
Ward Churchill, due to speak at Hamilton College this week, resigns as department chair amid furor over 9/11 remarks. He said, "the present political climate has rendered me a liability in terms of representing either my department, the college, or the university." His resignation comes a couple of days after an editorial in the Denver Post which asks, "If Churchill is so out of sync with the chancellor and the campus, we have to wonder why is he chairing an academic department at the University of Colorado?" Principles of academic freedom and free speech certainly protect his job as a professor at the University of Colorado, but his opinions are repugnant.

Churchill's opinions haven't changed since the original essay, published on the web right after 9/11/01 - as reported in the Rocky Mountain News, "In a 2004 interview, he made the remark, 'One of the things I've suggested is that it may be that more 9/11s are necessary' for Americans to realize the long-term ramifications of some of the country's policies and practices." As also reported in this article, Hamilton may be acting disingenously about whether officials there knew about Churchill's essay. "Barrie, the Hamilton spokeswoman, said 'When Ward Churchill was invited, last summer, no one here was aware of those 9/11 comments.' But the small liberal arts college was aware when it started advertising his appearance, sponsored by its 'Kirkland Project,' a program 'for the study of gender, society and culture.' It states that the title of Churchill's talk is to be 'Some People Push Back' - the very title of his controversial essay." (On the other hand, the title was probably suggested by Churchill, who didn't necessarily share the text of the essay that the title came from).

Another dubious indication about the way the event was originally planned was that it was billed as a panel discussion on the "Limits of Dissent," including Churchill, Hamilton philosophy professor Richard Werner, and another University of Colorado ethnic studies professor, Natsu Saito, who as it happens "is married to Churchill, although that relationship is not noted on the Hamilton program."