Tag Archives: terrorism

Cameron/Clegg Seek To Reduce Government Intrusion

The new Conservative/Liberal Democratic government of Great Britain
promises to sharply curtail laws that interfere with the free exercise of
democracy in the nation. The United Kingdom, like the USA, has adopted the
rule of fear in order to justify reducing civil rights. All one has to do is yell,
“terrorist” to sanction another law that deprives individuals of their right
to privacy. Under proposed legislation, the concept of an Identification
card will be dropped and those who purchased one can simply tear them
up. Keeping DNA of innocent people will be curtailed and there will be
a rethinking of laws passed during this decade in the name of anti-
terrorism.

Hysteria, rather than common sense has reigned for too long in
democratic nations. After all, why should libraries be telling the
government the name of books read by their customers? All nations must
be vigilant, but there is a difference between being vigilant in an
intelligent manner and being vigilant in order to restrict freedom.

Bombs Away In New York

A street vendor and a policeman stumbled on a car which had smoke and some strange items inside. The bomb squad was called and it identified a possible bomb which was trying to explode but had been put together by amateurs. The car was parked in Times Square and the obvious intention was to send off an explosion that would have killed numerous people and wounded even more. Homeland Security claimed it was a potential terrorist attack, but Mayor Bloomberg “we have no idea who did this or why.” And, he added in a nonchalant voice, “these things invariably come to New York.” Exactly, what was the surprise about this event? It was simply a matter of time before someone with hatred toward the United States set off a bomb or some equivalent way of causing death and destruction.

We are constantly being told there is a “war against terrorism.” If so, then there will be casualties. Such is the way of war.

Must A Real Jew Criticize Israel?

I recently read an interesting column in Haaretz by Bradley Burston who argued if one really is a Jew then it is necessary to speak honestly about what is happening in Israel. Burston was not born in Israel but became an immigrant in the land. “I fell in love with this place…I wrote recently about living here as someone who loves this country, but dislikes much of what this country is doing.” His article provoked many letters filled with anger and hate at someone who had the audacity to make critical remarks about Israel. “If you hate Israel so much, then f— leave. I wish you would die of cancer.”‘ Ironically, most letters came from people who did not live in Israel.

As Burston notes, those sending letters from abroad do not face the reality of life in Israel. “No mandatory conscription, no kids living in danger and under arms, no occupation of neighbors…” He expressed horror at Jews in Jerusalem who seize homes of Palestinians while singing “paeans to Jewish terrorists.” Burston raises an important issue for Jews. Can we stand by and be silent when the land we love behaves in brutal ways toward its neighbors? Can we ignore a new phenomenon– Jewish terrorists?

A Jew who loves Israel is compelled to fight for human dignity for all people in the Middle East, especially for our brothers and sisters who are Palestinians. Only when Israel behaves in a democratic fashion to all people are they acting like Jews!

What Punishments For Potential Terrorism?

An increasing problem for modern courts is how to punish those who are thought to have discussed or planned some form of terrorist act even though they never actually followed through with their plan. Is the “intent” the crucial factor or is the “action” what counts? Many Muslims in Australia expressed dismay at sentences imposed on five Muslim men who were convicted of terrorism offenses. The men received jail sentences up to 28 years in length. Keysar Trad, of the Australian Federation of Muslim Councils argues even if they had discussions about violence, “there would have been a very large number of points along the way where they would have reconsidered because they didn’t want to kill anybody.”

A point well taken. In life, do we harbor angers and thoughts of violence only to hold back and reflect on our actions?

Terrorism And The Virtual Battlefield

The fight against terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda or the Taliban is more often in the news than the other struggle against militants–the battleground of virtual reality. Jarret Brachman, former director of the West Point Combating Terrorism Center, believes Al-Qaeda has transformed from a terrorist organization that uses the media to a media organization that uses terrorism.” Our focus is so much on killing terrorists that we often lose sight of the ideological struggle which is just as critical to achieve peace in the region. Rep. Adam Smith, Chair of the House Armed Services Committee, argues we have to focus both on immediate issues of terrorism and “the long term message, the battle of ideas.”

Unfortunately, right wing pundits on Fox News shout and rant about the need to fight terrorism with weapons of war and do not have a clue as to how a nation wages a war of ideas. During the Cold War there were numerous centers and scholarly efforts to understand communism in order to combat propaganda from Moscow or Peiping, but today, there is too often the message of hatred and this invariably fails to resonate with people of the world.

Honey, I Just Wanted A Kiss Goodbye!

The dogs of fear are howling with delight at recent episodes of thwarted terrorism. In Bakersfield, California, the entire airport was closed when it was discovered a man was trying to bring five bottles onto the plane, bottles of honey that is. At Newark airport, a man was spotted walking in what is termed the “sterile area” and he never was captured, but from all accounts he merely ducked under the rope in order to give a girl friend a goodbye kiss. Our president issues somber and angry vows to capture every single one of those darn terrorists which has elicited an outburst of paranoia in America.

Yes, we need to tighten up security. No, we don’t have to go wild with fear every time a man or woman does something silly or simply normal. Yes, for years, people have brought bottles of honey onto planes to take home. There is need to find a sensible middle ground between paranoia gone wild and accepting that each incident is not the beginning of mass terrorism.

Perhaps, we need to establish a zone for kissing goodbye?

Do “Suspects” Have Rights?

These days the easiest way to deny a person his rights is to raise the red flag of “terrorism” in his direction. Once authorities have classified someone as a “suspect” in anything related to “terrorism” the chances of rights being respected drop dramatically. However, in the United Kingdom, Lord Justice Laws agreed with Justice Owen who held a person could not be denied bail solely on the basis of secret evidence. Both justices held terror suspects must b e given sufficient material to enable them to answer effectively the case being made against them. They ruled it was “impossible” to conclude that “in bail cases a less stringent procedural standard is required (than in control order cases.)” They also ruled that decisions by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission which deals with terror supsect cases are immune from judicial review.

A student, only identified as “XC” was arrested in April and then later released only once again to be arrested on grounds that he was a “threat to national security.” The government has cited emails as the basis of their concern although no evidence has been found linking XC to any explosives or materials that could be used for terrorist activities.

It stands to reason and the basic principles of democracy that government should tell someone why they are being arrested.

Have A US Passport, Get Hassled In Denmark!

The Danish government is instituting tighter checks on individuals carrying American passports who enter their nation, particularly, anyone who is coming from the Middle East. US intelligence has indicated many terrorists are securing an American passport as a way to more readily enter a European nation. Ordinarily, American passports receive less scrutiny than those from other countries. There is growing awareness that “the Americans haven’t had as good a handle on their counter-terrorism as we thought,” noted one Danish official.

As an American I take umbrage on such comments. After all, we have been led by the greatest foe of terrorism in history–George Bush. Just remember there were no terrorists in Iraq until King George sent his army into that nation. We Americans know more about creating terrorism than any country on this planet. OK, so we are better at creating terrorists than capturing them, but you have to admit we are number one in terrorism in one aspect of life.

Bombing Continues In Pakistan

I am not a scholar of the Muslim religion. My background is in Middle Eastern, European and American history although I have written about United States policy toward China. Therefore, I find myself increasingly baffled by bombings in Pakistan or Iraq which invariably result in the deaths of Muslim women, children and men. The latest episode involved huge blast In Peshawar which killed 91, but what was most shocking about the attack is the bombing took place in a market which sold items to children. As I admit, I am not a scholar of the Muslim religion. I simply can not enter into the mind of a Muslim man who would load himself up with bombs and set them off at a site where Muslim children might be present.

Please do not misunderstand my comments. I am very aware of European and American brutality in history. Although I have studied the Holocaust, I am no more able to enter into the minds of German soldiers who bashed in the heads of babies. Who are these creatures of the night, whether in Muslim societies, or elsewhere, who justify killing of the innocent. Of course, the German soldier did not kill those with whom he associated–non Jewish Germans, but Muslim terrorists kill their own.

I do not understand.

Brown Aide Resigns With Blast!

This has not been the best year for Prime Minister Gordon Brown who has witnessed the decline of his nation’s economy, and increasing evidence there is an equivalent decline in his Afghanistan policies. Eric Joyce, a former major in the famed Black Watch, and an important figure in the Defense Department, suddenly resigned while making clear his lack of confidence in Brown’s policies. He expressed a growing sense of weariness with the old Bush-Blair song that we must fight in Afghanistan to prevent terrorists from spreading havoc in the United Kingdom. “I do not think the public will accept for much longer our losses can be justified by simply referring to the risk of greater terrorism on our streets.”

Since Bush/Cheney the approach to selling the importance of fighting wars has been based on the psychology of fear. When a former warrior reaches the end of the line and realizes it is time for a new strategy other than more troops, perhaps it is time to listen.