Are the Brits finally catching on?

It’s not enough the US relied on the faulty Downing Street memo and used its existence as an excuse to go to war in Iraq.  Effectively blaming the British for America’s mistake, the British government still seemed to be in synch with US policy in Iraq.  Well, maybe not anymore.  Now it appears the British government is questioning the integrity of US leaders, including George Bush when it comes to torture.    There is a very long paper trail  which indict the Bush Administration in it’s decision to torture, or bend the rules concerning torture of people it has captured in this phony war on terror, so there is plenty for the British to hang their hat on when condemning US policy.  Citing a committee report which

said there were ‘serious implications’ of the striking inconsistencies between British ministers continuing to believe the Bush administration when it denies using torture. ‘The UK can no longer rely on US assurances that it does not use torture, and we recommend that the government does not rely on such assurances in the future,’ said the committee. ‘We also recommend that the government should immediately carry out an exhaustive analysis of current US interrogation techniques on the basis of such information as is publicly available or which can be supplied by the US.’

it marks a definite shift in British attitudes towards  America.  This observer only wishes such a shift began four years earlier before headlines such as these graced papers around the world:

British troops in torture scandal

British troops accused of sexually abusing Iraqi boy, 14

British soldiers tortured Iraqi civilian to death…

What’s up with the NYT

The New York Times’ track record over the last seven years has been dismal. First off their reporters were nothing more than mouthpieces for this Administration’s call to war, which led to one of them Judith Miller leaving that paper. They followed up her departure, sometime later, hiring William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, who also has a losing track record when it comes to reporting or commenting on the Iraq war. The NYT has on its staff the likes of Thomas Friedman, whose ‘suck on this’ explanation of why we went to war in Iraq is something no one should take seriously, including his managers. So I see where they’ve brought on another loser, who graced the editorial pages with a piece that is both incendiary as well as pathetic.

Benny Morris’ editorial entitled, Using Bombs to Stave off war, is already a contradiction in terms, because usually bombs are a sign of war, and it gets progressively worse after that. The only saving grace to this editorial is the opening sentence, word, which seems to be placed there either as foreboding, or tongue in cheek. What really bugs me is the nonchalant attitude Morris uses to talk about killing people with whom he disagrees. We won’t even talk about the factual errors in his piece which he uses to promote, incite war, such as his assertion that Iran’s on a march toward nuclear weaponry or that the President of Iran has threatened the existence of Israel, and therefore the Israelis are afraid of him. (The latter is hilarious, even Morris’ own generals have said Iran poses no existential threat to their country.) But this is the kind of misleading reporting, editorializing the NYT has come to be known by the last seven years, and there’s no indication it’s going to get any better. If you’re interested in a good laugh however, or want to be reminded of just how bad a job the Times does informing its readers, then check out the Morris editorial here. Remember, Li-on!

The convergence of zionism and Judaism

I believe it’s an unspoken truth that the two are inextricably related so much so that the lines are blurred and many people see them as one.  I don’t however, for in my opinion zionism is a political movement dedicated to the return of Jews to a certain part of the world at the expense of the people already living there, whereas Judaism is a belief in God, or G_d as I’ve seen some people write it while not quite knowing why they do it that way, that has some semblance of justice and fairness for all His creation.  Perhaps that’s my projection of ANY religion that takes off from the point of a benign and benevolent Creator, which I see wholly inconsistent with oppression and genocide, the likes of which are taking place in the occupied territories of Palestine.

I was very happy to hear that the Saudi regime initiated an interfaith meeting where they invited people from the major religions to Spain to talk about what they have in common and how they could foster better relations with one another. There’s certainly a lot to talk about there in this atmosphere of Islamophobia,  although I’m sure members of other faiths have plenty to talk about with Muslims.  The Saudis are generally very non-confrontational so they avoided inviting any religious representatives of Christianity, Islam or Judaism, from Palestine or Israel and there was the beginning of a conference whose doom was sealed before it ever got started.  Jews wanted Israeli Jews present probably because they thought their presence would indicate de facto recognition of Israel by the Saudis who until now have not recognized that state.  Moreover they were not to pleased with the mention of “zionism” in anything other than a good light.  Most likely, the conference organizers don’t equate zionism with Judaism as some Jews would like.  That criticism of “zionism” which I think had no place in an interfaith conference but whose defense by some Jews highlights the confusion between religion and politics, as it pertains to Judaism.  Some of the Jewish participants, and most notably one Rabbi David Rosen of the American Jewish Committee said the conference would be little more than a photo opportunity unless it led to a follow-up in Saudi Arabia with Israeli Jews which seems to mean Jews won’t participate in a follow-up conference unless those two conditions are met: Israeli Jews are invited and it take place in Saudi Arabia. However,  not all Jewish participants were in such a conundrum about their religion and the state of Israel and were optimistic about the chances for the future.  The identification of a religion with a nation state has no place in an interfaith dialogue, especially one with as poor a human rights record as Israel.  That some Jewish members made that connection is more than unfortunate.