Monday, December 29, 2008

Gates of Vienna News Feed 12/29/2008

Gates of Vienna News Feed 12/29/2008Tonight’s most important stories are about the war in Gaza. Hamas is threatening to assassinate Livni and Barak, but that looks like a sign of desperation to me.

The most interesting aspect of all this is how well Israel is doing on the media front. For once, the USA is not the only country blaming Hamas. Germany and Egypt — Egypt! — have come down on the same side as Israel. As one article says, “[w]hen you have a 10% lead in France, that’s better than we could have expected”.

Thanks to Abu Elvis, ACT for America, Barry Rubin, JD, MESI, Steen, Tuan Jim, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
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USA
At Plant in Coal Ash Spill, Toxic Deposits by the Ton
Child Maids Now Being Exported to US
 
Europe and the EU
Greek Paper: World Jewish Plutocracy Behind Gaza Strife, Global Financial Crisis
Over 60 Per Cent of Britain’s Muslim Schools Have Extremist Links, Says Draft Report
UK: Five Fatal Stabbings Every Week Despite Labour’s Knife-Crime ‘Crackdown’
 
Israel and the Palestinians
‘Coordination is Putting Israel Ahead in the Media War’
Hamas’s Strategy: the Rockets or the Media
Hamas Threatens to Assassinate Livni, Barak
How Palestinian TV is Covering the War
International Law and the Fighting in Gaza (PDF)
 
Middle East
Saudi Cleric Issues Fatwa Urging Muslims to Avenge Gaza Raids
 
Far East
Philippines: Remembering Rizal
 
Immigration
From the Left, a Call to End the Current Dutch Notion of Tolerance

USA

At Plant in Coal Ash Spill, Toxic Deposits by the Ton

In a single year, a coal-fired electric plant deposited more than 2.2 million pounds of toxic materials in a holding pond that failed last week, flooding 300 acres in East Tennessee, according to a 2007 inventory filed with the Environmental Protection Agency.

Hundreds of acres were flooded by sludge last week in a coal ash spill from a holding pond filled with heavy metals at a Tennessee Valley Authority power plant 40 miles west of Knoxville.

The inventory, disclosed by the Tennessee Valley Authority on Monday at the request of The New York Times, showed that in just one year, the plant’s byproducts included 45,000 pounds of arsenic, 49,000 pounds of lead, 1.4 million pounds of barium, 91,000 pounds of chromium and 140,000 pounds of manganese. Those metals can cause cancer, liver damage and neurological complications, among other health problems.

And the holding pond, at the Kingston Fossil Plant, a T.V.A. plant 40 miles west of Knoxville, contained many decades’ worth of these deposits.

For days, authority officials have maintained that the sludge released in the spill is not toxic, though coal ash has long been known to contain dangerous concentrations of heavy metals. On Monday, a week after the spill, the authority issued a joint statement with the E.P.A. and other agencies recommending that direct contact with the ash be avoided and that pets and children should be kept away from affected areas.

Residents complained that the authority had been slow to issue information about the contents of the ash and the water, soil and sediment samples taken in and around the spill.

“They think that the public is stupid, that they can’t put two and two together,” said Sandy Gupton, a registered nurse who hired an independent firm to test the spring water on her family’s 300-acre farm, now sullied by sludge from the spill. “It took five days for the T.V.A. to respond to us.”

Richard W. Moore, the inspector general of the authority, said he would open an investigation into the cause of the spill, the adequacy of the response, and how to prevent spills from similar landfills at other authority plants, according to a report in The Knoxville News Sentinel.

[Return to headlines]


Child Maids Now Being Exported to US

Shyima was 10 when a wealthy Egyptian couple brought her from a poor village in northern Egypt to work in their California home. She awoke before dawn and often worked past midnight to iron their clothes, mop the marble floors and dust the family’s crystal. She earned $45 a month working up to 20 hours a day. She had no breaks during the day and no days off.

(…)

Shyima cried when she found out she was going to America in 2000. Her father, a bricklayer, had fallen ill a few years earlier, so her mother found a maid recruiter, signed a contract effectively leasing her daughter to the couple for 10 years and told Shyima to be strong.

For a year, Shyima, 9, worked in the Cairo apartment owned by Amal Motelib and Nasser Ibrahim. Every month, Shyima’s mother came to pick up her salary.

(…)

By the time the Ibrahims decided to leave, Shyima’s family had taken several loans from them for medical bills. The Ibrahims said they could only be repaid by sending Shyima to work for them in the U.S. A friend posed as her father, and the U.S. embassy in Cairo issued her a six-month tourist visa.

She arrived at Los Angeles International Airport on Aug. 3, 2000, according to court documents. The family brought her back to their spacious five-bedroom, two-story home, decorated in the style of a Tuscan villa with a fountain of two angels spouting water through a conch. She was told to sleep in the garage.

It had no windows and was neither heated nor air-conditioned. Soon after she arrived, the garage’s only light bulb went out. The Ibrahims didn’t replace it. From then on, Shyima lived in the dark.

She was told to call them Madame Amal and Hajj Nasser, terms of respect. They called her “shaghala,” or servant. Their five children called her “stupid.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Greek Paper: World Jewish Plutocracy Behind Gaza Strife, Global Financial Crisis

A daily newspaper in Greece has blamed Jews both for the world financial crisis and the Israeli operation in Gaza, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported this week.

“After the American Jews acquired once again the world’s wealth and plunged the planet into an unprecedented financial crisis, they started rehearsing for WWIII,” JTA quoted the Avriani newspaper’s front-page headline as reading Sunday “Midway through the paper’s story on Israel’s operation in Gaza, the story, under the heading ‘The Plan,’ explains that a Jewish plutocracy, having made the ‘wealth of the century at the expense of the economies of the world,’ is preparing to put in motion ‘war machines’ in various hot spots around the world in order to control the price of oil, redistribute the world’s natural resources and start a new cycle of weapons production,” JTA said.

The paper also blamed U.S. President-elect Barack Obama for “playing dead” in the present crisis by not saying anything against the Jews, urging him to prove that he is not owned by the Jewish lobby.

The day that Obama was elected president, the paper ran a headline that said, “The end of Jewish domination. Everything changes in the U.S.A. and we hope that it will be more democratic and humane,” drawing the ire of Jewish groups,” JTA reported.

[Return to headlines]


Over 60 Per Cent of Britain’s Muslim Schools Have Extremist Links, Says Draft Report

by Damian Thompson

Britain’s Muslim schools have been sharply criticised in a controversial draft report commissioned by a leading think tank which suggests that over 60 per cent of them are linked to potentially dangerous Islamic fundamentalists.

An early version of the report, entitled When Worlds Collide, alleges that of the 133 Muslim primary and secondary schools it surveyed, 82 (61.6 per cent) have connections or direct affiliations to fundamentalists. The 133 schools are in the private sector but supposedly subject to Ofsted inspection.

The report also claims that some of these schools teach “repugnant” beliefs about the wickedness of Western society and Jews…

           — Hat tip: ACT for America[Return to headlines]


UK: Five Fatal Stabbings Every Week Despite Labour’s Knife-Crime ‘Crackdown’

Seized knives at New Scotland Yard in London, this May. Police are directing their action plan to ten areas where knife crime is the most serious problem

Richard Ford, Home Correspondent

Fatal stabbings have reached a record level in England and Wales this year, with five people a week being killed with a knife or sharp instrument, according to figures published today.

The surge in fatalities comes despite a drive by the Government and police to reduce attacks involving knives, particularly in large urban areas.

In London alone the number of knife fatalities this year has jumped to 86 — a rise of one quarter on the figure for 2007.

Today’s figures from all except one of the police forces in England and Wales show that fatal stabbings have risen by almost a third since Labour came to power.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

‘Coordination is Putting Israel Ahead in the Media War’

As the anti-Hamas operation in Gaza entered its third day Monday and IDF commanders laid the groundwork for a possible ground assault on the Strip, Israeli officials responsible for the parallel media offensive sounded decidedly optimistic.

Reporting on the conflict is a crucial arena of the battle itself, say analysts. The success or failure of the media effort can affect the window of opportunity which the IDF has to fulfill its operational objectives: weakening Hamas and imposing a calm that could not be reached through negotiations.

“I don’t know how long it will last, but at this moment Israel has no small measure of understanding and support, and even approval, from many countries,” says former UN ambassador Dan Gillerman, who was brought into the media effort by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni shortly before the aerial attack against Hamas began on Saturday.

“We haven’t seen dramatic condemnations [from world leaders], only the expected and generic calls for calm and cease-fire,” said Gillerman.

“Even in the UN I didn’t see anyone happy to condemn us,” he added. “Unless something very dramatic happens, such as a blundered hit that kills large numbers of civilians, then we will have enough time to do what we need to do.”

In large part, this welcome window to act against the Hamas infrastructure in Gaza is due to a new culture of coordination among the agencies responsible for managing Israel’s media message in times of crisis. These include the Foreign Ministry, the IDF Spokesman’s Unit, the military coordinator in the territories and Prime Minister’s Office representatives.

Unlike in previous military crises, “we have close coordination and unified messages between agencies,” says Yarden Vatikai, the director of the National Information Directorate, which is seeing its first trial by fire.

Established in the wake of the Winograd Report’s criticism of insufficient coordination in the media effort during the 2006 Second Lebanon War, the NID’s purpose is to synchronize the content and tone of Israel’s message across the many organizations that carry it to the world, whether official or unofficial.

On the media front, preparation for the Gaza operation included training exercises among spokespeople for handling worst-case scenarios, daily conference calls between all the agencies and a daily review of Israel’s media “footprint,” or the amount and type of coverage Israel receives around the world.

This kind of preparation, learned the hard way from previous mistakes, is paying off, says Gillerman.

“You can’t take for granted that the entire system will be coordinated properly,” he says, “but this time it’s being done to an impressive extent.”

“We’re not seeing the grandiose military press conferences or the nonstop video footage from air force strikes” so familiar to Israelis and foreign journalists from the Lebanon conflict, says Vatikai. Instead, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit is one of the agencies using a more nuanced and prepared approach, investing its efforts in getting multilingual officers on the air on as many foreign outlets as possible.

According to Aviv Shir-On, the Foreign Ministry’s deputy director-general for media and public affairs, these efforts are successfully creating a dramatic Israeli presence on major international television networks.

Using figures taken from a Foreign Ministry media tracking operation run out of the television studios in Neveh Ilan, Shir-On cites an eight-hour period between 4 p.m. and midnight Sunday during which tracking of CNN, the BBC, Sky News, Fox, Al-Jazeera English and France 24 yielded 335 combined minutes of Gaza coverage.

Of these, 58 minutes were given to Israeli representatives, while only 19 were given to Palestinian ones.

Elsewhere, a survey published by French newspaper Le Figaro on Sunday showed that 55 percent of French respondents were understanding toward the Israeli operation, while 45% were critical of it.

“When you have a 10% lead in France, that’s better than we could have expected,” notes Shir-On.

From such figures, and other reports from Israel’s 97 representative offices worldwide, Shir-On says he can confidently report that “Israeli hasbara is fulfilling its missions. Our media presence internationally is good.”

Even so, caution Israeli officials, the worst is not yet past for the media struggle. Some of the initial success on the media front is due to external factors, such as division among the Palestinians — Fatah and the Palestinian Authority have publicly blamed Hamas for the fighting — and the holiday season.

“Israel was given a window of opportunity by the calendar,” notes Channel 2 foreign news editor Arad Nir. The conflict “caught the world on the weekend between Christmas and New Year, when its attention is elsewhere.”

But that window may be closing, he warns.

“By Monday morning, the French newspapers started talking about ‘proportionality’ and ‘cruelty.’ Yesterday we heard the Turks, for whom Sunday is a work day, come out against [the operation].

“I assume it will get worse as we leave the holiday season behind and television screens are flooded with ugly pictures out of Gaza. Even if world leaders understand Israel’s logic in the rational part of their brains, the emotional part will take hold because of such images, and as more and more people take to the streets.”…

[Return to headlines]


Hamas’s Strategy: the Rockets or the Media

by Barry Rubin

Nothing is clearer than Hamas’s strategy. It gives Israel the choice between rockets and media, and Hamas thinks it is a situation of, “We win or you lose.”

Option A: The Ceasefire

Hamas ends a ceasefire giving it the peace and quiet needed to build up its army and consolidate its rule over the Gaza Strip. Israel would deliver supplies as long as there weren’t attacks. From a Western-style pragmatic standpoint this is a great situation.

But Hamas isn’t a Western-style pragmatic organization. Peace and quiet is its enemy not only because of its ideology—the deity commands it to destroy Israel—or its self-image—as heroic martyrs—but also because battle is needed to recruit the masses for permanent war and unite the population around it.

Hamas has no program of improving the well-being of the people or educating children to be doctors, teachers, and engineers. Its platform has but one plank: war, war, endless war, sacrifice, heroism, and martyrdom until total victory is achieved.

Thus, it ends the ceasefire.

Option B: The Rockets

And so Hamas ends the ceasefire and rains rockets down on Israel, accompanied by mortars and the occasional attempt at a cross-border ground attack. Israel does nothing.

Hamas crows: you are weak, you are confused, your are helpless. Come, people, arise and destroy the paper tiger! And so more people are recruited, West Bank Palestinians look on with admiration at those fighting the enemy, and the Arabic-speaking world is impressed.

Remember 2006, they say. It is just like Hizballah. Israel is helpless against the rockets. Why don’t our governments fight Israel? Let’s overthrow them and bring brave, fighting Islamist governments to power.

Option C: The Media…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin[Return to headlines]


Hamas Threatens to Assassinate Livni, Barak

Hamas on Sunday threatened to respond to an ongoing Israel Defense Forces assault on the Gaza Strip by assassinating senior Israeli officials. Senior Hamas official Fatah Hamad specifically threatened Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

He also threatened that Hamas would go after senior Palestinian Authority officials in the West Bank, as well as “those in the Arab world who have conspired against us,” — an apparent reference to Egypt.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas, however, said that Hamas could have prevented Israel’s assault had it only agreed to extend the cease-fire, and he urged it to do so now.

[Return to headlines]


How Palestinian TV is Covering the War

[…]

Hamas Celebrates Targeting Israeli Civilians

Along with today’s TV propaganda in which Hamas depicts itself as a victim, Hamas continues to portray itself as the heroic killer of Israelis.

A video on Hamas TV this morning blended pictures of Hamas fighters shooting at Israel with pictures of injured Israelis and medical evacuation scenes.

In addition, the visuals include pictures of skulls dripping with blood, captioned: “Let them taste violent death.”

Other narrations and texts include…

           — Hat tip: Abu Elvis[Return to headlines]


International Law and the Fighting in Gaza (PDF)

by Justus Weiner and Avi Bell

As with every flare-up of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the air is thick with accusations of violations of international law. The halls of the United Nations resound with voices objecting to the alleged illegality of Israel’s behavior, and legal “experts” have taken to the airwaves to raise accusations of wrongdoing. For instance, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes asserted that “the effective Israeli isolation of Gaza.amounts to collective punishment and is contrary to international humanitarian law.” Similarly, organizations such as Amnesty International have issued erroneous and misguided criticism, including “condemning” Israel’s imposition of all “blockades” on the Gaza Strip as “collective punishment.” Jeremy Hobbs, Director of Oxfam International, called on Israel “immediately [to] lift its inhumane and illegal siege.” This briefing paper explores the many international legal issues raised by the Palestinian-Israeli tension along Gaza’s borders. It first examines legal issues raised by Palestinian conduct and then turns to legal issues raised by Israeli conduct. As will be demonstrated, criticisms of Israeli behavior such as mentioned above lack any basis in international law. By contrast, criticisms that ought to be voiced about illegal Palestinian behavior are markedly rare…

           — Hat tip: MESI[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Saudi Cleric Issues Fatwa Urging Muslims to Avenge Gaza Raids

A Saudi Web site on Sunday reported that a popular cleric has issued a fatwa urging Muslims to target Israeli interests everywhere, to avenge the attacks on the Gaza Strip.

The site, Rasid, posts news about Saudi Arabia’s Shiite community and on Sunday said that Sheik Awadh al-Garni has issued a religious edict urging Muslims to strike anything that has a link to Israel, calling it a legitimate target for Muslims everywhere.

Al-Garni, whose is popular in the kingdom, is not a member of the official religious establishment.Fatwas are not legally binding, and it is up to the individual Muslim to follow them.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Sunday also issued a religious decree to Muslims around the world, ordering them to defend Palestinians against Israel’s attacks on Gaza, state television said.

“All Palestinian combatants and all the Islamic world’s pious people are obliged to defend the defenseless women, children and people in Gaza in any way possible. Whoever is killed in this legitimate defense is considered a martyr,” state television quoted Khamenei as saying in a statement.

Israel launched an unprecedented assault on the Gaza Strip on Saturday, killing at least 280 people and sparking protests and condemnations throughout the Arab world.

Many of Israel’s Western allies urged restraint, though the U.S. blamed Hamas for the fighting.

In his statement on Sunday, Khamenei also criticized some Arab governments for their “encouraging silence” towards the Israel’s raids on Gaza.

[Return to headlines]

Far East

Philippines: Remembering Rizal

Originally published on page A10 of the December 30, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

TODAY is the 110th anniversary of the execution of Jose Rizal in Bagumbayan. Without meaning any sarcasm or reproof, I am wondering how many of our young people today appreciate the significance of that event which made our country free.

It is regrettable that what they may choose to remember is not the martyrdom of Rizal but the killing of John Lennon 26 years ago in New York. It was he who boasted that the Beatles had become more popular than Jesus Christ, and perhaps he was right. Some of their fans, including not a few from our own country, may really consider the songsters and their rock music more appealing.

I recently found that the 2006 calendar issued by the Supreme Court apparently does not place much importance either on Dec. 30. It is simply printed in red and called Rizal Day. There is a brief note that it marks the oath-taking of President Manuel L. Quezon in 1941 and President Ferdinand Marcos in 1969, both for their second terms. But there is no reminder of Rizal’s sacrifice in 1896 as if it did not deserve any mention at all.

If the Supreme Court assumed that every Filipino knows about Rizal, it must be out of step with the times. Many citizens may now simply take Rizal as the name of a province or the statue at the Luneta or that old memorial stadium in Manila. Even the plaster busts of him that used to adorn the old libraries in my grandfather’s time have disappeared. The Noli-Fili books are compulsory reading in our schools, but many students prefer Harry Potter.

Before the war, Rizal Day was celebrated with programs and parades mostly organized by the Veteranos de la Revolucion. But the Katipuneros are all gone like the former veneration of the hero. The memory of the great man is dissipating except in the usual street signs, which are mixed with reminders of the martial law period like Imelda Avenue and Marcos Highway. Marcos tried to replace Rizal as the foremost Filipino hero but his ugly cement face in La Union was mangled instead by his irate victims.

Remembrance of Rizal is fast disappearing when it ought to be cherished and honored by all Filipinos. It was he who, more effectively than any one else among his compatriots, unified the disparate inhabitants of our archipelago into one nation. It was he who made them share a common rage against the foreign intruder and a common aspiration for the freedom of their land.

Without him, and I say this without offense to those who followed his leadership and example, our people may still be under the yoke of some alien ruler. Consider that we were oppressed by Spain for more than three centuries and it was only when Rizal protested its villainies that Bonifacio’s armed revolution began to smolder. It was the execution of Gomburza, to whom Rizal dedicated the “Noli Me Tangere,” that ignited the spark of resistance against the Spanish government. But it was Rizal who fanned the flames into a bright conflagration.

Rizal awakened the national conscience from its lethargy not through the force of arms but with the armies of his pen. These were the “Noli” and “El Filibusterismo,” his “Letter to the Women of Malolos,” his youthful poems for the Motherland, his “Mi Ultimo Adios” that he secreted in a lamp in Fort Santiago hours before his death, and other irrefutable accusations against the Spaniards. His words were like mighty legions that won for our country the freedom we now enjoy.

Let not the idiot who once criticized me for speaking in English at a nationalistic program belittle Rizal’s writings because most of them were in the tyrant’s tongue. That jingoist who is now a National Artist must think his expertise in Tagalog has exalted his empty mind. Sentiments are best expressed in words one knows best and Spanish was for Rizal his sharp and avenging sword.

That is why, if I may digress, I heartily support the bill restoring English as the medium of instruction in our public schools. During the pre-war years, that educational policy made us the most proficient English-speaking people in the whole continent of Asia and many other parts of the world. English is still, along with Filipino, our official languages under our Constitution. Filipino is a beautiful language that is easily learned without formal instruction, but it is not useful for international communication.

To go back to Jose Rizal, I hope we can revive the reverent sentiments of gratitude to him for his efforts in releasing us from foreign bondage. Political rhetoric is not enough to keep his heroism alive. Let us remember that he forsook the enticements of his youthful and gifted life and embraced instead the ultimate sacrifice for the welfare of his country. That is the best homage we can pay the greatest hero of our race.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim[Return to headlines]

Immigration

From the Left, a Call to End the Current Dutch Notion of Tolerance

by John Vinocur

AMSTERDAM: Two years ago, the Dutch could quietly congratulate themselves on having brought what seemed to be a fair measure of consensus and reason to the meanest intersection in their national political life: the one where integration of Muslim immigrants crossed Dutch identity.

In the run-up to choosing a new government in 2006, just 24 percent of the voters considered the issue important, and only 4 percent regarded it as the election’s central theme.

What a turnabout, it seemed — and whatever the reason (spent passions, optimism, resignation?), it was a soothing respite for a country whose history of tolerance was the first in 21st-century Europe to clash with the on-street realities of its growing Muslim population.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, the Netherlands had lived through something akin to a populist revolt against accommodating Islamic immigrants led by Pim Fortuyn, who was later murdered; the assassination of the filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, accused of blasphemy by a homegrown Muslim killer; and the bitter departure from the Netherlands of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali woman who became a member of Parliament before being marked for death for her criticism of radical Islam.

Now something fairly remarkable is happening again.

Two weeks ago, the country’s biggest left-wing political grouping, the Labor Party, which has responsibility for integration as a member of the coalition government led by the Christian Democrats, issued a position paper calling for the end of the failed model of Dutch “tolerance.”

It came at the same time Nicolas Sarkozy was making a case in France for greater opportunities for minorities that also contained an admission that the French notion of equality “doesn’t work anymore.”

But there was a difference. If judged on the standard scale of caution in dealing with cultural clashes and Muslims’ obligations to their new homes in Europe, the language of the Dutch position paper and Lilianne Ploumen, Labor’s chairperson, was exceptional.

The paper said: “The mistake we can never repeat is stifling criticism of cultures and religions for reasons of tolerance.”

Government and politicians had too long failed to acknowledge the feelings of “loss and estrangement” felt by Dutch society facing parallel communities that disregard its language, laws and customs.

Newcomers, according to Ploumen, must avoid “self-designated victimization.”

She asserted “the grip of the homeland has to disappear” for these immigrants who, some news reports indicate, retain their first nationality at a level of about 80 percent.

Instead of reflexively offering tolerance with the expectation that things would work out in the long run, she said, the government strategy should be “bringing our values into confrontation with people who think otherwise.”

There was more: punishment for trouble-making young people has to become so effective such that when they emerge from jail they are not automatically big shots, Ploumen said.

For Ploumen, talking to the local media, “The street is mine, too. I don’t want to walk away if they’re standing in my path.

“Without a strategy to deal with these issues, all discussion about creating opportunities and acceptance of diversity will be blocked by suspicion and negative experience.”

And that comes from the heart of the traditional, democratic European left, where placing the onus of compatibility on immigrants never found such comfort before.

It’s a point of view that makes reference to work and education as essential, but without the emphasis that they are the single path to integration.

Rather, Labor’s line seems to stand on its head the old equation of jobs-plus-education equals integration. Conforming to Dutch society’s social standards now comes first. Strikingly, it turns its back on cultural relativism and uses the word emancipation in discussing the process of outsiders’ becoming Dutch.

For the Netherlands’ Arab and Turkish population (about 6 percent of a total of 16 million) it refers to jobs and educational opportunities as “machines of emancipation.” Yet it also suggests that employment and advancement will not come in full measure until there is a consciousness engagement in Dutch life by immigrants that goes far beyond the present level.

Indeed, Ploumen says, “Integration calls on the greatest effort from the new Dutch. Let go of where you come from; choose the Netherlands unconditionally.” Immigrants must “take responsibility for this country” and cherish and protect its Dutch essence.

Not clear enough? Ploumen insists, “The success of the integration process is hindered by the disproportionate number of non-natives involved in criminality and trouble-making, by men who refuse to shake hands with women, by burqas and separate courses for women on citizenship.

“We have to stop the existence of parallel societies within our society.”

And the obligations of the native Dutch? Ploumen’s answer is, “People who have their roots here have to offer space to traditions, religions and cultures which are new to Dutch society” — but without fear of expressing criticism. “Hurting feelings is allowed, and criticism of religion, too.”

The why of this happening now when a recession could accelerate new social tensions, particularly among nonskilled workers, has a couple of explanations.

A petty, political one: It involves a Labor Party on an uptick, with its the party chief, Wouter Bos, who serves as finance minister, showing optimism that the Dutch can avoid a deep recession. The cynical take has him casting the party’s new integration policy as a fresh bid to consolidate momentum ahead of elections for the European Parliament in June.

A kinder, gentler explanation (that comes, remarkably, from Frits Bolkestein, the former Liberal Party leader, European commissioner, and no friend of the socialists, who began writing in 1991 about the enormous challenge posed to Europe by Muslim immigration):

“The multi-cultis just aren’t making the running anymore. It’s a brave step towards a new normalcy in this country.”

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

3 comments:

no2liberals said...

And then comes this shocking news.
U.S. Will Fall Apart In 2010, Claims Russian Professor.

grainnewale said...

As usual the Irish are going nuts and blaming Israel for everything from the deaths of "hundreds" of innocent Palistinian civilians to a devious Zionist plot, which uncovers the fact that it was really the Jews who fired the rockets from Gaza into Israel.

I've never heard such inane bleating from a nation of "neutral" Liberal idiots since the last time the Irish were whining about the Brits and Yanks NOT condemning the evil Chechnnya for invading poor innocent Russia.

The Irish are nothing but a rain soaked blot on the map full of insecure, pompuous, sanctamonious know-it-alls!

islam o' phobe said...

As usual the Irish are going nuts and blaming Israel for everything from the deaths of "hundreds" of innocent Palistinian civilians to a devious Zionist plot, which uncovers the fact that it was really the Jews who fired the rockets from Gaza into Israel.

Are you referring to the Irish Times and RTÉ coverage or is this an anecdotal account? Who told you/where did you read it was a Zionist conspiracy?