Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sudanese Christian teen flogged for wearing 'indecent' skirt

Christian girl from southern Sudan convicted of offending public morality, receives 50 lashes in the courtroom. Women's rights activist: This is repression of a whole society through its women
Associated Press
Published:  11.28.09, 09:50 / Israel News
A 16-year-old Christian girl from southern Sudan said Friday she was lashed 50 times for wearing a skirt deemed indecent by authorities in the north who enforce a strict version of Islamic law.

Silva Kashif said she was arrested by a plain-clothed policeman in a Khartoum market last week for wearing a skirt beneath the knee. She was convicted of offending public morality and received 50 lashes in the courtroom.

"I was treated like a criminal," Kashif said in a telephone interview. "I am confused what to wear. The trousers were an issue. My skirt was beneath the knee. What more can I do? I am Christian. My tribe and my customs permit me to dress like this."

Human rights lawyer Azhari al-Haj said a legal team plans to sue the authorities for procedural mistakes and to exonerate Kashif.
Kashif's ordeal follows the high profile case of Lubna Hussein, a female journalist who was sentenced to 40 lashes for wearing trousers deemed indecent. Hussein's sentence was reduced to a fine, and she is now lobbying to change the morality laws.

Sudan's indecency law allows flogging as a punishment. Human rights campaigners say the law is vaguely defined and arbitrarily enforced, and often incorrectly applied to non-Muslims such as south Sudanese Christians living in the capital.

Under a 2005 peace deal that ended a 20-year civil war between the Muslim north and the Christian and animist south, laws, including the indecency law, are supposed to be reviewed to respect human rights and freedom of expression.

'They don't speak about it'
Sudan's government implements a conservative version of Islamic law in the north. Public order police enforce the laws, banning alcohol, breaking up parties and preventing men and women from mingling in public.

In northern Sudan, many women wear traditional flowing robes that also cover their hair, but it is also not uncommon for women to wear trousers, even though conservatives consider it immodest.

Kashif, a high-school student, said she was heading to the local market in a Khartoum suburb to buy vegetables when she noticed a man following her. When she confronted him, she said he grabbed her by the hand and led her to a police station, where he charged her with wearing indecent clothes.

Kashif said she was lashed on her back, hands and legs.
 "I came home and slept for a whole day. When my family found out, we all cried," she said.

Al-Haj, the human rights lawyer, said his group will protest that authorities gave Kashif the maximum sentence and ignored that she was a minor and a Christian.
"The whole thing from her arrest to her flogging didn't take one hour and half. This is unprecedented," he said. "We want to question the police officers and the judge, to exonerate Silva and to campaign against these laws."

Amal Habbani, a women's rights activist and columnist, said cases of flogging women for wearing clothes deemed indecent are backlogging the Sudanese legal system.

All that's needed to prosecute a woman for a dress violation is a complaint, and there are many thousands filed each year, she said.

"Most of these (violators) receive quick trials and sentences and they don't speak about it," Habbani said. "This is repression of a whole society through its women."

Friday, November 27, 2009

IAEA Censures Iran for nuclear lawlessness - Iran defiant

This is a bad time for a major nuclear crisis, as Americans are busy with Thanksgiving weekend.

Diplomats: Iran Censured at UN Nuclear Meeting
Diplomats: UN watchdog votes to censure Iran's nuclear defiance, urges a stop to enrichment

The Associated Press
The U.N. nuclear agency's board censured Iran on Friday, with 25 nations backing a resolution that demands Tehran immediately mothball its newly revealed nuclear facility and heed U.N. Security Council resolutions calling on it to stop uranium enrichment.
Iran remained defiant, with its chief representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency declaring that his country would resist "pressure, resolutions, sanction(s) and threat of military attack."
The resolution — and the resulting vote of the IAEA's 35-nation decision-making board — were significant on several counts.
The resolution was endorsed by six world powers — the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — reflecting a rare measure of unity on Iran. Moscow and Beijing have acted as a traditional drag on efforts to punish Iran for its nuclear defiance, either preventing new Security Council sanctions or watering down their potency.
They did not formally endorse the last IAEA resolution in 2006, which referred Iran to the Security Council, starting the process that has resulted in three sets of sanctions on the Islamic Republic. Their backing for the document at the Vienna meeting thus reflected broad international disenchantment with Tehran.
It also appeared to signal possible support for any new Western push for a fourth set of U.N sanctions, should Tehran continue shunning international overtures meant to reach agreements that reduce concerns about its nuclear ambitions.
Strong backing for the resolution at the meeting was also notable. Only three nations — Cuba, Venezuela and Malaysia — voted against the document, with five abstentions and one member absent.
That meant even most nonaligned IAEA board members abandoned Tehran, despite their traditional backing of the Islamic Republic.
The diplomats who reported the vote spoke on condition of anonymity Friday because of the sensitivity of the situation.
Iran argues that attacks on its nuclear program are an assault on the rights of developing nations to create their own peaceful nuclear energy network. The United States and other nations believe Iran's nuclear program has the goal of creating nuclear weapons.
The IAEA resolution criticized Iran for defying a U.N. Security Council ban on uranium enrichment — the source of both nuclear fuel and the fissile core of warheads.
It also censured Iran for secretly building a uranium enrichment facility and demanded that it immediately suspend further construction. It noted that IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei cannot confirm that Tehran's nuclear program is exclusively geared toward peaceful uses, and expressed "serious concern" that Iranian stonewalling of an IAEA probe means "the possibility of military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program" cannot be excluded.
Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's chief delegate to the IAEA, shrugged off the vote.
"Neither resolutions of the board of governors nor those of the United Nations Security Council ... neither sanctions nor the treat of military attacks, can interrupt peaceful nuclear activities in Iran, even a second," he told the closed meeting, in remarks made available to reporters.

How dumb can they really be?

I'll bet you didn't think they would be stupid enough to do this, right? They are a rational regime, right?  They would not actually hang out a sign that says "We are evil," would they?
But they really did....
Smart regimes don't come out against peace, kindness and decency, even if they are against peace, kindness and decency. But the Iranians did it. They confiscated the Nobel peace prize medal of Shirin Ebadi. Perhaps they will melt down the medal, sell the gold, and give the money to the IRGC or the Ayatollahs.  
That's the sort of regime this is.
Ami Isseroff
Iranian authorities have confiscated Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi's medal, the human rights lawyer said, in a sign of the increasingly drastic steps Tehran is taking against any dissent.
In Norway, where the peace prize is awarded, the government said Thursday the confiscation of the gold medal was a shocking first in the history of the 108-year-old prize.
Ebadi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for her efforts in promoting democracy. She has long faced harassment from Iranian authorities for her activities - including threats against her relatives and a raid on her office last year in which files were confiscated.
The seizure of her prize is an expression of the Iranian government's harsh approach to anyone it considers an opponent - particularly since the massive street protests triggered by hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed June 12 re-election.
Acting on orders from Tehran's Revolutionary Court, authorities took the peace prize medal about three weeks ago from a safe-deposit box in Iran, Ebadi said in a phone interview from London. They also seized her Legion of Honor and a ring awarded to her by a German association of journalists, she said.
Authorities froze her bank accounts, as well as her husband's, and demanded $410,000 in taxes that they claimed were owed on the $1.3 million she was awarded. Ebadi said, however, that such prizes are exempt from tax under Iranian law. She said the government also appears intent on trying to confiscate her home.
Ebadi, the first Muslim woman to be awarded the peace prize and the first female judge in Iran, said she would not be intimidated and that her absence from the country since June did not mean she felt exiled.
"Nobody is able to send me to exile from my home country," she said Thursday. "I have received many threatening messages. ... They said they would detain me if I returned, or that they would make the environment unsafe for me wherever I am."

But my activities are legal and nobody can ban me from my legal activities.
Ebadi has criticized the Iranian government's crackdown on demonstrations by those claiming the June vote was stolen from a pro-reform candidate through massive fraud.
Ebadi left the country a day before the vote to attend a conference in Spain and has not returned since. In the days after the vote, she urged the international community to reject the outcome and called for a new election monitored by the United Nations.
During the past months, hundreds of pro-reform activists have been arrested, and a mass trial has sentenced dozens to prison terms. Authorities also went after Ebadi's human rights center in Iran.
"After the election all my colleagues in the center were either detained or banned from traveling abroad," Ebadi said.
Calls to Iranian judiciary officials were not returned Thursday.
Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere called the move shocking and said it was the first time a Nobel Peace Prize has been confiscated by national authorities.
The Norwegian Foreign Ministry summoned Iran's charge d'affaires in Norway on Wednesday to protest the confiscation, spokeswoman Ragnhild Imerslund said.
The Foreign Ministry also expressed grave concern about Ebadi's husband, who it said was arrested in Tehran and severely beaten earlier this fall, after which his pension and bank account were frozen.
Ebadi said her husband, Javad Tavassolian, and her brother and sister have been threatened many times by authorities pushing them to persuade her to end her human rights campaigning.
Ebadi has represented opponents of Iran's regime before but not in the mass trial that started in August of more than 100 prominent pro-reform figures and activists. They are accused of plotting to overthrow the cleric-led regime during the post-election turmoil.
The Iranian Embassy in Norway refrained from giving a comment.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee's permanent secretary, Geir Lundestad, said the move was unheard of and unacceptable. He told The Associated Press that the committee was planning to send a letter of protest to Iranian authorities before the end of the week.
Ebadi said she planned to return to Iran when the time is right.
"I will return whenever it is useful for my country," she said. "Right now I am busy with my activities against violations of human rights in Iran and my international jobs."

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Iran dialog is dead - time to put up or shut up

Mohamed ElBaradei cannot be suspected of "Islamophobia," neoconism or Zionist tendencies. Even he has finally been convinced of the awful truth: Iran is not interested in dialogue. Iran is certainly intent on building the capability to produce nuclear weapons and is probably actually engaged in building them. If it is bluffing, as Saddam Hussein was, it is certainly an elaborate and almost perfect bluff. Perhaps nobody will believe it is real until the first mushroom cloud appears - not in Tel Aviv surely, but most likely in some European capital, or until Iran has closed the straits of Hormuz backed by the threat of nuclear retaliation against anyone who tries to open them. .
The United States and the world are fast approaching a most unpleasant decision point. If Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is right, then the United States and its fickle allies will back down. If Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is wrong, he will go to meet Saddam Hussein and others who thought the United States is a paper tiger.
IAEA Chief: Iran Investigation at 'Dead End'

IAEA chief: Iran nuclear investigation at 'dead end'; let down by Tehran on enrichment deal
The Associated Press
The outgoing head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said Thursday his probe of Iran's nuclear program is at "a dead end" and that trust in Tehran's credibility is shrinking after its belated revelation that it was secretly building a nuclear facility.
Mohamed ElBaradei's blunt criticism of the Islamic Republic — four days before he leaves office — was notable in representing a broad convergence with Washington's opinion, which for years was critical of the IAEA chief for what it perceived as his softness on Iran.
Iran also came in for censure from another quarter at the opening session of the IAEA's 35-nation board, with the introduction of a resolution taking Tehran to task on a broad range of issues linked to international concerns that it may be seeking to make nuclear weapons. Significantly, diplomats at the meeting said the resolution was endorsed not only by Western powers — the U.S., Britain, France and Germany — but also by Russia and China.
For strategic and economic reasons, Moscow and Beijing have sided with Tehran in the past. They have prevented several Western attempts to slap new U.N. sanctions on Iran for its nuclear defiance or succeeded in watering down their severity.
They did not formally endorse the last IAEA resolution critical of Iran in 2006. Their backing for the document at the Vienna meeting Thursday thus reflected broad international disenchantment with Tehran.
It also appeared to signal possible support for any new Western push for a fourth set of Security Council sanctions, should Tehran continue shunning international overtures meant to reach agreements that reduce concerns about its nuclear ambitions.
In Tehran, state TV quoted Iran's envoy to the U.N. agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, as saying, "The Western countries should not spoil the positive atmosphere. They should allow cooperation between Iran and the agency to continue its positive trend."
The IAEA resolution criticized Iran for defying a U.N. Security Council ban on uranium enrichment — the source of both nuclear fuel and the fissile core of warheads.
It also censured it for secretly building a uranium enrichment facility and demanded that it immediately suspend further construction, noted that ElBaradei cannot confirm that Tehran's nuclear program is exclusively geared toward peaceful uses, and expressed "serious concern" that Iranian stonewalling of an IAEA probe means "the possibility of military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program" cannot be excluded.
Western diplomats said they expected about two-thirds of the board to support the resolution in a vote, likely Friday.
While the board cannot enforce any of its resolutions, they do get referred to the Security Council, giving any later move to impose new U.N. sanctions on Iran additional weight.
In his comments, ElBaradei touched on the same criticisms expressed in the resolution.
"There has been no movement on remaining issues of concern which need to be clarified for the agency to verify the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program," he told the board session. "We have effectively reached a dead end, unless Iran engages fully with us."
"Issues of concern" is the IAEA term for indications that Tehran has experimented with nuclear weapons programs, including missile-delivery systems and tests of explosives that could serve as nuclear-bomb detonators.
ElBaradei has emphasized the need for talks instead of threats in engaging Iran. He has criticized the U.S. for invading Iraq on the pretext that Saddam Hussein had a nuclear weapons program, which has never been proven. That — and perceived softness on the Iran issue — has drawn criticism from the U.S. and its allies that he was overstepping his mandate.
But ElBaradei's comments Thursday left little doubt that he was most unhappy with Tehran.
"I am disappointed that Iran has not so far agreed" to a proposal involving removal of most of Iran's enriched stockpile, ElBaradei told the meeting.
The plan approved by the six world powers negotiating with Iran over the past few months would commit Tehran to ship out 70 percent of its enriched uranium for processing into fuel rods for its research reactor in Tehran. That would help allay international fears by removing most of the material that Iran could use to make a nuclear weapon.
It would take more than a year for Tehran to replace the enriched material, meaning it would not be able to make a weapon for at least that long.
Iran says it is enriching only to power a future network of nuclear reactors. But enrichment can also produce fissile warhead material. Iran continues enriching, despite three sets of U.N. Security Council sanctions meant to make it freeze that activity and has built an enriched stockpile that could arm two nuclear warheads.
Initially, Tehran appeared to favor the plan. But in recent weeks it has offered modifications that have one thing in common — its refusal to ship out most of its enriched stockpile. That effectively kills the plan, with the West refusing to accept anything else than an Iranian commitment to export the material.
In another reflection of a tougher Russian line, Moscow on Thursday urged Tehran to accept the uranium proposal and abide by other agreements reached at a meeting with six world powers last month. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Iran's ambassador to Moscow that such cooperation would "significantly move forward the process of restoring the international community's trust in the exclusively peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear program," the ministry said.
Impatience with Iran has been fueled by Tehran's September revelation that it had secretly been building a new enrichment facility. In a possible pre-emptive move, Iran notified the IAEA in a confidential letter only days before the leaders of the U.S., Britain and France went public with the project.
Iran says it did not violate IAEA statutes by waiting with its notification. But ElBaradei has said Tehran was "outside the law" in not telling his agency about the facility much earlier. On Thursday, he said that Iran's late reporting on the facility reduced "confidence in the absence of other nuclear facilities under construction in Iran which have not been declared to the agency."
Ruediger Luedeking, Germany's chief IAEA representative, called the questions about the facility "a major issue which again gives rise to serious questions and concerns regarding the nature of Iran's nuclear program."
A perusal of IAEA records shows that Tehran's chief envoy to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, told the agency's board last year that his country "has repeatedly declared that there is no undeclared nuclear material and activity in Iran" — at the time when construction of the secret nuclear facility was in full force.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Hezbollah in Lebanon - whose responsibility?

Lebanon Is Still an Occupied Country
By Elias Bejjani

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Tuesday 24/11/09 warned that Lebanon , not Hezbollah, would be the target of retaliatory attacks should the militant group escalate tension along Israel's northern border. "Lebanon grants Hezbollah permission to operate on its soil," said Barak. "We must clarify for the international community that we do not accept that a militia like Hezbollah exists in Lebanon, a sovereign country, and even sits in its parliament." Barak added that it holds Lebanon responsible for any conflict with Hezbollah. "Hezbollah is not our target," in such a case, said Barak. "Our target will be the state of Lebanon."
Mr. Barak made his comments at a meeting with regional leaders in the north, where he stressed that he holds the Lebanese government responsible for any conflict along the border with Lebanon. The Israeli defense minister added that Israel's deterrence power will last for some time. Earlier this month, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said that Hezbollah guerrillas now possess tens of thousands of rockets, some capable of reaching up to 300 kilometers within Israel. These capabilities would put Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, as well cities much further south, into rocket range. "There is a war in the Middle East between two camps, the extremists and the moderates, which is pushing Iran to take radical steps. Without Iran's support to finance weapons and terrorist groups they would be lacking the means available to them today," said Ashkenazi. Israel, the United Nations and Hezbollah itself have all said that the militia is stronger today than it was during the Second Lebanon War between Israel and Hezbollah in 2006.
It is so sad and extremely disappointing that the Israeli government, the moderate Arab countries as well all the Western free world, including the USA and France are ignoring the essence and the core of the actual Lebanese peoples' ongoing agony and dilemma with Hezbollah.
All these countries are well informed that Hezbollah, the Iranian militant terrorist organization, has erected its powerful mini Iranian state inside Lebanon during the Syrian occupation era of the country that lasted from 1976 until 2005.
This mini state with its scattered cantons all over Lebanon is much stronger in all domains than the Lebanese central government. The Lebanese people in general and the Lebanese Shiite community in particular had no saying in this matter. The mini state was imposed on all of them by Syria and Iran.
All the free world countries, Arab states, and especially Israel are, with no shed of doubt, fully aware that Hezbollah's mini state controls and dominates directly and through proxies all the affairs of the Lebanese central government via cancerous infiltration, intimidation, oppression, corruption, drug trafficking, religious decrees (fatwas), murder, crime, bribing and multifold tactics of terrorism. Not even one decision could be made by the Lebanese government or any of its institutions without Hezbollah's approval.
It has become clear even to the blind that the Lebanese state is massively dominated by the Hezbollah mullah's leadership. This terrorist militant organization boldly dictates its Iranian decrees on all the Lebanese officials and institutions, manipulates their activities and greatly influences the whole country's decision making process in all fields and on all levels.
The Israeli and the western satellites that carry out round-the-clock very close surveillance over Lebanon, Syria and other Middle East countries have their own solid data that shows the ABC's of how Hezbollah receives its weapon openly from Iran through Syria under the eyes of the Lebanese army and with its blessings.
Hezbollah does not smuggle its weapons to Lebanon from Syria through the joint borders as the UN and many countries keep on parroting in their official statements and reports. All of them know for a fact that Hezbollah has its own free military routes via the Syrian-Lebanese border through which hundreds of its arms-loaded trucks travel on a regular basis from Syria to Lebanon.
The question is why when all these plain facts are cut and clear to these countries and especially to Israel that they still act as if there is actually an independent Lebanese government that controls the country's decision making process?
One wonders, when Iran and Syria have erected the Hezbollah mini state against the will of the Lebanese people, and when these two axis of evil countries keep on arming, financing, harboring, training and fully control Hezbollah's militia, why Mr. Barak is threatening Lebanon and not Syria, Iran and Hezbollah?
Mr. Barak as well as the whole world knows that the Lebanese people earlier this year and against all the odds did not give Hezbollah and its allies a majority in the parliamentary elections. They voted courageously against Hezbollah's mini state and its weapons.
BUT, unfortunately the elected majority up until this day is unable to effectively face Hezbollah and stop its gradual devouring of the state's authority, and as we all know, Syria and Saudi Arabia have recently cut a deal to give Hezbollah a right to veto in the new Lebanese government, and to keep in its ministerial statement with the same clause that the previous " Saniora" government used to legitimize Hezbollah's weapons and to give this organization control over the country's war-peace decision making.
Israel and all other countries are loudly and strongly addressing only the symptoms of Hezbollah's hegemony over the whole of Lebanon, while deliberately overlooking the main disease that Iran and Syria have inflicted on the Lebanese people and on all the country's institutions. 
In summary, Lebanon is still an occupied country and the occupier is Hezbollah. Mr. Barak should not threaten to punish the Lebanese people who in the majority are against Hezbollah, having bravely proved this stance in the last parliamentary elections.
The Lebanese people and their country must not be dealt with as scapegoats. The disease is Syria and Iran and their proxy, Hezbollah. If Israel really wants to deal with the problem that threatens its security and existence, the actual and long lasting solution is not by inflicting devastation on the Lebanese people and their country as was the situation during the 2006 war, but through addressing its serious problem directly with Iran, Syria and Hezbollah.

*Elias Bejjani
Canadian-Lebanese Human Rights activist, journalist and political commentator

Web sites &
Mailing phoenicia group
LCCC Face Book

The Lying Tactics of the Anti-Israel Movement

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The anti-Israel movement has always thrived on lies: Israel as an outpost of European colonialism, Israel as an apartheid state, Jews having no historical connection to the land of Israel or the city of Jerusalem. This mendacity extends to strategic considerations--for example, the International Solidarity Movement claims that it is nonviolent, yet not only do its founders endorse Palestinian terrorism but it also has strong links to Palestinian terror groups. The movement to get American colleges and universities to divest from Israel (as part of the so-called "BDS movement"--boycott, divestment and sanctions) is entirely based on deception as well as double standards.

It should come as no surprise that the tactics used by those opposed to the existence of a Jewish state often stoop to the level of the false pretenses by which they advertise themselves. A few illustrative examples have arisen just recently:

Example 1: In the northern California university town of Davis, just outside Sacramento, the City Council recently adopted an innocuous sounding resolution declaring November 7 as "Davis Peace Day" and endorsed a group that calls itself "Davis Peace Connections" as the sponsoring organization. Now I don't blame the good citizens on the City Council for not doing their research beforehand; this is one of those instances where you don't expect to find the bomb belts hidden inside the ambulance. But as a perusal of the "Davis Peace Connections" website shows, they have "friendly links" to numerous anti-Israel sites, from the extreme right to the extreme left. On the far right they link to If Americans Knew (a project of Alison Weir, who is disturbingly comfortable with neo-Nazis) and also to the website of the viciously anti-Semitic Swedish fascist who writes under the pen name of Israel Shamir. The far left is well represented by Electronic Intifada, Anna Baltzer and the International Action Center (the parent group of International ANSWER, whose anti-Semitism is on display at their public marches ). They even link to Hezbollah's own al-Manar news site (click on the last link under "sinister videos").

Fortunately, one concerned citizen of Davis was able to alert the City Council to this situation. Mayor Ruth Asmundson then took the responsible step of quickly publishing a letter in the local newspaper which stated, in part:

"However, contained within the proclamation is a reference to a Web site that contains Internet links to several sites that contain biased views of the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East. I regret that my call for world peace can be interpreted as an endorsement by the City Council or me as an individual member of the viewpoints of any particular group or Web site, and I want to be absolutely clear that that was not my intention. I apologize for any hurt my proclamation may have caused anyone."

I suspect that the next time the Davis Peace Coalition tries to slide an endorsement past the City Council it will be scrutinized just a bit more closely.

Example 2: Elsewhere in Northern California, "My Name is Rachel Corrie" (the theatrical tribute to the ISM volunteer who was sent to Gaza to block IDF anti-terror operations) was staged at Stanford University last week. In a story first broken by Solomonia, the American Red Cross had been listed as a sponsor of this event. Not quite the usual earthquake/hurricane/flood relief type of activity that we donate to ARC to support. As the person who brought it to the attention of the Silicon Valley Red Cross office, I can confirm that their media relations director Cynthia Shaw (and presumably the rest of the local ARC leadership) was, to put it mildly, not pleased to have their name associated with this event. The "miscommunication" that led to ARC's name being lent in support was, basically, fraudulent--leaders of the student chapter of the Red Cross on campus were asked if they would have its name listed as an organization that promoted human rights. Fortunately, the Red Cross has acted responsibly and insisted that its name be withdrawn from any online and print promotional materials. So now there's a few more students at Stanford (not to mention some Red Cross leaders) who have learned firsthand about the lies that anti-Israel activists will use to promote their agenda.

Example 3: Earlier this month in upstate New York, former US Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (who has made a second career out of anti-Israel activism including outright support of Hamas and Hezbollah ) gave a talk at Binghamton University. Student members of Hillel, in the time honored tradition of peaceful protest and free speech, passed out informational flyers outside the auditorium prior to the event. However, before McKinney spoke, the event organizers asked that all of the flyers be handed in to them. Not surprisingly, those who dared to ask critical questions of McKinney were cut off or derided. There's really only one possible conclusion-- they were so afraid of free speech and of having to defend their positions against challenging questions that they prevented either one of those from occurring. Yet the anti-Israel groups are always the ones calling for "open discussion" about Israel-- at least as long as they are the only ones doing the discussing.

It's not surprising that students would act this way; after all, they learn from their elders. The BDS movement continues to perpetuate such lies as the "divestment" at Hampshire College or the investment fund family TIAA-CREF--in both cases, routine portfolio transactions that resulted in a sale of stock of companies doing business in Israel were trumpeted by anti-Israel activists as a victory for divestment. Both organizations were quick to clarify that this was not the case. On Muzzlewatch, the blog of Jewish Voice for Peace, (where comments have been closed for several years), the JVPers continue to rail against anyone who dares to criticize them by accusing them of "muzzling" their position. (You can also read Solomonia's excellent commentary about JVP). A recent post from JVP's Alice-in-Wonderland world discussed efforts by local Israel supporters to stop the local Jewish Community Federations from funding of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival (after the SFJFF's debacle this summer in showing the film "Rachel" and giving Cindy Corrie a speaking platform). Cecilie Surasky of JVP blamed the rise of the BDS movement not on anti-Israel activists, but rather on Jewish community leaders who insist that our institutions support the existence of the world's one-and-only Jewish state: "You, Jewish leaders, have left us no choice. You started the BDS movement. Only you can stop it." Yes, we must be at fault for being so unreasonable in not turning our community institutions over to those who would subvert one of their core principles: support of a Jewish state of Israel. Just as Israel must be at fault for unreasonably not giving in to those who only insist on the end of Jewish statehood by the influx of millions of great-grandchildren of the 1947-8 war started by the Palestinians to prevent a Jewish state. Just as the Jews of Europe were at fault for unreasonably not giving in to those who only insisted that they convert to Christianity, or the Jews of Arab countries who were similarly at fault for not accepting Islam. Or just as the Jews of Jerusalem, in the time of the Second Temple that stood on the Temple Mount 700 years before the Dome of the Rock was built, unreasonably refused to submit to Roman idolatry. I can just hear Titus now "You, Jewish leaders, have left us no choice. You started our attack against your independence. Only you can stop it."

An Iranian front organization is donating huge sums to American academic institutions

Kislev 7, 5770, 24 November 09 10:15by Malkah Fleisher

?Earl Hall, Columbia University
( An Iranian front organization is donating huge sums to American academic institutions who employ pro-Iran, anti-Israel professors and speakers, according to back-to-back reports by the New York Post and New York Times.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been donated to the prestigious Columbia University and Rutgers University for Middle East and Persian studies programs, according to the papers. The courses are taught by professors who openly slur Israel and express sympathy for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's regime, as well as terrorist groups Hizbullah and Hamas.
The Alavi Foundation, which recently had up to $650 million seized by United States federal law enforcement, donated $100,000 to Columbia University in 2007 after the institution agreed to host Ahmadinejad, who is responsible for a bloody crackdown?on protesters last summer following a controversial election in Iran, and who frequently denies the Holocaust, as well as Israel's right to exist as a state.
Last year, Britain's director of the Brunel University Center for Intelligence and Security Studies, Anthony Glees, reported that up to 48 British universities have been infiltrated by Muslim fundamentalists heavily financed by major Muslim groups, to the tune of more than a quarter billion Sterling.
? Copyright
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>

Dubai Debt Delay Rattles Confidence in Gulf Borrowers (Update3)

Nov. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Dubai shook investor confidence across the Persian Gulf after its proposal to delay debt payments risked triggering the biggest sovereign default since Argentina in 2001.

The cost of protecting government notes from Abu Dhabi to Bahrain rose, extending the steepest increase since February as Dubai World, with $59 billion of liabilities, sought a "standstill" agreement from creditors. Its debt includes $3.52 billion of bonds due Dec. 14 from property unit Nakheel PJSC. Dubai credit-default swaps climbed 90 basis points to 530 after yesterday increasing the most since they began trading in January, CMA Datavision prices showed.

"There is nothing investors dislike more than this kind of event," said Norval Loftus, the head of convertible bonds and Islamic debt at Matrix Group Ltd. in London, which manages $2.5 billion of assets including Dubai credits. "The worst-case scenario will of course be involuntary restructuring on the Nakheel security that brings into question the entire nature of the sovereign support for various borrowers in the region."

Dubai World's assets range from stakes in Las Vegas casino company MGM Mirage to London-traded bank Standard Chartered Plc and luxury retailer Barneys New York through asset-management firm Istithmar PJSC. The Dubai government's attempt to reschedule debt triggered declines in stocks worldwide that had been rebounding from the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

Worldwide Slump

The MSCI Emerging Markets Index of stocks headed for the biggest decline in four weeks, falling 2 percent, led by Russia and China. Europe's Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index lost 2.5 percent, the biggest decline since July 2, at 2:46 p.m. in London. South Africa's rand and the Turkish lira weakened 2.1 percent against the dollar. Hungary's forint lost 1.7 percent per euro. Credit- default swaps on Russia increased to 205 basis points from 192.

The MSCI World Index of 23 developed markets has risen 26 percent this year after banks worldwide recorded more than $1.7 trillion in writedowns and losses and governments committed about $12 trillion to shore up economies.

"The announcement was a shock," said Beat Siegenthaler, chief emerging-market strategist at TD Securities Ltd. in London. "It is strongly affecting European markets."

Dubai, ruled by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, borrowed $80 billion in a four-year construction boom to transform the economy into a regional tourism and financial hub. The emirate suffered the world's steepest property slump in the global recession with home prices dropping 50 percent from their 2008 peak, according to Deutsche Bank AG.


Moody's Investors Service and Standard & Poor's cut the ratings on Dubai state companies yesterday, saying they may consider Dubai World's plan to delay debt payments a default.

Gulf region default swaps jumped, with contracts linked to Bahrain adding 29 basis points today to 223.5, the biggest increase since Feb. 18. Contracts linked to Abu Dhabi added the most since February yesterday, climbing 36 basis points to 136.5 and were another 23 basis points higher at 159.5 today, according to London-based CMA. Qatar default swaps rose 13 basis points to 117, adding to yesterday's 11 basis-point increase.

"Dubai is the most indicative of the huge global liquidity boom and now in the aftermath there will be further defaults to come in emerging markets and globally," said Nick Chamie, head of emerging-market research at Toronto-based RBC Capital Markets.

Saudi Debts

Saudi Arabia default swaps climbed the most since February, adding 18 basis points to 108. The British Bankers' Association asked the U.K. government to intervene with Saudi authorities over debts of at least $20 billion owed to as many as 100 banks by Saad Group and Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi & Brothers Co., two family holding companies based in the oil city of Al-Khobar, according to a letter dated Nov. 20.

Default swaps on Dubai World unit DP World Ltd., the Middle East's biggest port operator, jumped by a record 181 basis points to 540.5 yesterday and were priced another 72 basis points higher today at 612, according to CMA data.

Dubai World had $59.3 billion in liabilities and $99.6 billion in total assets at the end of 2008, subsidiary Nakheel Development Ltd. said in an August statement. Dubai owes $4.3 billion next month and $4.9 billion in the first quarter of 2010 through government and corporate debt, Deutsche Bank AG data show.

"DP World and its debt are not included in the restructuring process for Dubai World," the government said in a statement to Nasdaq Dubai today.

'Brink of Failure'

The price of Nakheel's bonds fell to 70.5 cents on the dollar from 84 yesterday and 110.5 a week ago, according to Citigroup Inc. prices on Bloomberg.

"Nakheel is now standing on the brink of failure given the astonishing amount of cash Dubai would have to inject on it in order to see the enterprise survive," said Luis Costa, emerging-market debt strategist at Commerzbank AG in London. "Events like this are a perfect storm."

Dubai credit-default swaps now rank as the fifth most expensive worldwide, exceeding Iceland's and Latvia's.

The contracts, which increase as perceptions of credit quality deteriorate, pay the buyer face value in exchange for the underlying securities or the cash equivalent should a company fail to adhere to its debt agreements. A basis point is 0.01 percentage point and is equivalent to $1,000 a year on a contract protecting $10 million of debt.

Abu Dhabi Aid

UBS AG, Switzerland's largest bank, said it expects the U.A.E. will prevent a default by Nakheel. Owners of bonds sold by Nakheel scheduled a conference call today, said an investor and a trader who received the details.

Dubai is one of seven sheikhdoms in the U.A.E. that includes Abu Dhabi, which holds 8 percent of the world's oil reserves and bought $5 billion of bonds sold by Dubai yesterday through state-controlled banks.

Sheikh Mohammed turned to Abu Dhabi's central bank on Feb. 23 to raise $10 billion by selling debt. The emirate's credit default swaps dropped 178 basis points that day, after trading for a record 976 basis points.

Unlike Argentina, which stopped payments on $95 billion of debt eight years ago after yields on benchmark bonds more than doubled in four months to more than 40 percent, Dubai's announcement yesterday "was a surprise," said Alia Moubayed, a London-based economist at Barclays Plc.

Standstill Agreement

The government raised $1.93 billion last month in its first sale of Islamic bonds, attracting more than $6.3 billion of orders. The dollar-denominated securities due 2014, which are governed by Shariah laws barring investors from profiting from the exchange of money, dropped to 5.5 percent today to 92 cents, lifting the yield to 8.4 percent from 6.2 percent on Nov. 24, according to ING Groep NV prices on Bloomberg.

Gulf International Bank BSC, a Bahrain-based lender owned by the governments of six Gulf Arab states, postponed a planned sale of bonds in a $4 billion debt program, citing the "unexpected announcement" from Dubai, according to an e-mailed statement today.

Dubai World will ask creditors for a "standstill" agreement as it negotiates to extend maturities, including $3.52 billion of Islamic bonds due Dec. 14 from Nakheel, Dubai's Department of Finance said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.

'Brink of Failure'

Dubai World's more than 70 creditors face the prospect of writedowns on as much as $60 billion of debt if they haven't unloaded their holdings and the state-owned company fails to win additional support from Abu Dhabi.

The biggest creditors are Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and Emirate NBD PJSC. Other lenders include Credit Suisse Group AG, HSBC Holdings Plc, Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group Plc and Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, according to a person familiar with the situation. Barclays slumped as much as 6.9 percent, the biggest intraday loss in a month, while RBS sank as much as 8.3 percent. Lloyds and Credit Suisse dropped more than 3 percent.

"Our exposure is immaterial," said Credit Suisse spokesman Marc Dosch. HSBC, Lloyds and RBS declined to comment when contacted by Bloomberg. Simon Eaton, a spokesman for Barclays Capital in London, also declined to comment.

Emaar Properties PJSC, the U.A.E.'s biggest developer, was cut by four levels by Moody's to Ba2, two steps below investment grade. Jebel Ali Free Zone, an operator of business parks, and DIFC Investments were also lowered to speculative-grade by Moody's yesterday. DP World and Dubai Electricity & Water Authority were downgraded two levels to Baa2, the second rank above junk. Moody's and S&P said they may cut ratings further.

The debt "restructuring may be considered a default under our default criteria," S&P said in a statement.

'Shut Up'

Borrowing from Abu Dhabi state banks accounted for half the $10 billion Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed said he planned to raise by yearend. He said Nov. 9 the program will be "well received," and those who doubt the unity of Dubai and Abu Dhabi should "shut up."

Sheikh Mohammed removed the chairman of Dubai World from the board of Dubai's main holding company, the Investment Corporation of Dubai, last week.

Contracts on Abu Dhabi National Energy Co., the state- controlled energy producer known as Taqa, jumped 70 basis points to 250, the highest since August. Swaps linked to Mubadala Development Co., a government-backed investor that announced an $8 billion joint venture with General Electric Co. last year, rose 111 basis points to 247, according to CMA. Mashreqbank PSC, the United Arab Emirates-based lender owned by billionaire Abdul Aziz al-Ghurair, jumped by a record 254 basis points to 639.

"It's very important to resolve this in a way that will minimize contagion across the region," Matrix Group's Loftus said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Laura Cochrane in London at

Last Updated: November 26, 2009 10:53 EST