Tuesday, 30 January 2007
Farewell to the floppy

No, this post has nothing to do with Viagra. From The Telegraph:

Floppy, we hardly knew you. It was only in 1971 that the first commercial floppy disk went on sale; now PC World has decided to discontinue them. It's the end.

So the floppy disk joins space hoppers, propelling pencils, the Stylophone, Robin starch, toasting forks, Party Sevens, gold top milk, Tizer, fly-buttons, blue twists of salt in packets of crisps, nylon shirts, Spangles, shove-halfpenny, Izal lavatory paper and the Pickwick, the Owl and the Waverley Pen.

No, the future's not floppy. But, although a single memory stick can now hold 6,000 times the information on a floppy disk, we shall miss one glorious anomaly: floppy disks, despite their precise dimension of 9cm in diameter, were denominated all over the world according to imperial measure – 3½in. That apart, the floppy disk has outlived its early promise and proved, well, a bit of a flop.

My PC, a dinosaur at three years old, has a floppy disk drive, but no memory stick slot. I'm going to have to get one, or maybe one of those Swiss army knife things Robert was talking about the other day.

The problem with the floppy disks was that they weren't floppy enough. If they got stuck in the disk drive you couldn't make them bend and pop out - they were rigid and needed to be skewered by poking a sharp implement into the slot. A toasting fork would be ideal, except you can't get them anymore (see above). Then the innards of your machine would be damaged.

I think it's a shame that we don't have toasting forks, Spangles, spacehoppers, or propelling pencils anymore, but who regrets the passing of the Stylophone? And, on the subject of passing, what is, or was, Izal lavatory paper?

Posted on 01/30/2007 6:45 AM by Mary Jackson
Tuesday, 30 January 2007
Re: The real root cause

Yes, we don't need to parrot Islamic propaganda.  Islam itself provides reasons enough to slay infidels.

Still, there is France—and French foreign policy vis a vis the Arab world, specifically, Qadafi, Arafat, and Saddam for starters.  They are part of the West, are not the French?   

Posted on 01/30/2007 6:50 AM by Robert Bove
Tuesday, 30 January 2007
The Real Root Cause of Islamic Terrorism

Retired U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander M. Zhudi Jasser refreshingly writes in NRO today:  "To this point, the Muslim community has been able to completely avoid any real debate over Islamism. In fact, we see now a movement in England and the West to blame the West’s foreign policy as a root cause of terror rather than the real root cause — theocratic Islamist ideology."

I wanted to cheer until I realized that Lt. Commander Jasser, a Muslim and the head of an organization called the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, obviously has missed Dinesh D'Souza's explanation that Islamic terror really has nothing to do with Islam — it's all the fault of Lefty permissiveness and those crazy right-wing Islamophobes who upset everyone by suggesting that Islamic terrorism maybe, just maybe, might be caused by Islamic theology.  Imagine claiming that scriptural commands to kill the infidels might inspire some believers to think they're supposed to kill the infidels?  What a nutty argument!

Posted on 01/30/2007 6:24 AM by Andy McCarthy
Tuesday, 30 January 2007
Diversity in the classroom

Attempts to indoctrinate children in the classroom are likely to backfire, argues Rod Liddle in The Sunday Times:

An English teacher of mine once devoted an entire lesson to expounding his fervently held thesis that Pakistanis were devious, smelt bad and should be kicked out of the country. As none of us liked this particular teacher, thinking him a lazy oaf, we naturally assumed that precisely the reverse was true, and resolved to make friends with the first Pakistanis we came across.

This was an excellent example of political propaganda in the classroom falling at the first hurdle. Thirty years later, I hope today’s kids react with similar perverse disdain when subjected to the government’s attempts to wash their brains. They should do what we did: snigger, heckle, make obscene up-and-down gestures with their hands to the teacher and then forget it the moment the bell sounds.

A paper commissioned by Alan Johnson, the education secretary, has recommended children be taught the immense benefits of multiculturalism and diversity in every subject they study. The paper, written by some superannuated educational panjandrum called Sir Keith Ajegbo, suggests, for example, that during maths lessons children should be told that Muslims invented nothing. By which I mean that they invented the concept of zero. So when a quadratic equation resolves to zero, the kids should be reminded that, in effect, Allah (PBUH) provided us with this wonderful conclusion.

In history the kids should be told that they’re all from immigrant communities, and in English classes study literature that explores “experiences of migration”, such as tedious stuff by Zadie Smith and Monica Ali (but I expect not by VS Naipaul. I wonder why that is?). In citizenship classes, compulsory since 2002, the children will be taught about Britain’s appalling imperialism and connivance in the slave trade — but not, one suspects, Africa’s longer-standing connivance in the slave trade, or, indeed, its appalling record of self-governance.

At every point kids are to be instructed in the benefits of immigration and multiculturalism — of which there have indeed been a great many. But not the deficits, of which arguably there have also been many. There is a clear political line and the children will not be allowed to deviate from it. They will be judged not by their understanding of acquired knowledge, but by their attitudes — their conformity to a contentious political opinion held by the secretary of state for education and Sir Keith Ajegbo, whoever the hell he is.

There will not even be an optional module to consider the controversial proposition that Ajegbo is a self-serving, politically motivated idiot whose views about the national curriculum should be scrunched up and thrown in the wastepaper bin. Instead of being taken seriously and rammed down the throat of every child in the country.

Zadie Smith is hugely overrated. Were she middle-aged, white and male, White Teeth would never have been published. Monica Ali's Brick Lane is rather good, although the plot runs out of steam towards the end. In fact it does not celebrate multiculturalism, but is very critical of the Bengali community, so much so that some of its spokesmen - and of course they would be men - pronounced a half-baked mini-fatwa on Ms Ali. Brick Lane is not literature, however, and should be read in the student's own time rather than studied as part of the school curriculum.

Monica Ali, who grew up in Bolton, read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford. Zadie Smith read English at Kings College, Cambridge. We can assume, then, that while they were at school they read something other than Zadie Smith or Monica Ali, not least because their books hadn't been written yet.

Posted on 01/30/2007 4:09 AM by Mary Jackson
Tuesday, 30 January 2007
Muslims angry as sharia likened to BNP

This is from Reuters

Conservative leader David Cameron has incurred the wrath of Muslim groups by likening those with extreme Islamic views to the far-right British National Party. Those who seek a sharia state, or special treatment and a separate law for British Muslims are, in many ways, the mirror image of the BNP," Cameron said in a speech in Birmingham on Monday.

Muhammad Abdul Bari, general secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain, responded by telling BBC News that anyone would find it offensive to be likened to the BNP.  "This link of any Muslim mainstream organisation to the fascism of BNP, it will be taken as a serious offence," he said.  Oh how the truth hurts.

Hizb ut-Tahrir, an organisation Britain threatened to ban after the 2005 attacks on London, also criticised the remarks.  "Cameron is guilty of scaremongering," Imran Waheed, media representative for the group in Britain, said.

The Conservative Party's National and International Security Policy Group is due to launch a report on Tuesday which the BBC said would suggest groups such as the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) harboured and even promoted extremist views. "Its hardline members tend to dominate policy and crowd out more moderate and varied voices," the BBC's flagship political programme "Newsnight" quoted the report as saying.  "As a result the MCB's claim to foster good community relations and work for the good of society as a whole is hard to reconcile with some of the positions it's taken," it said.

The interim report also said a "significant number" of Muslim groups were "keener to promote ideology than the totality of the communities they claim to represent," the BBC reported.

Posted on 01/30/2007 2:40 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 29 January 2007
Family Values Institute

"Suhail Khan was the moderator of the panel the last time I spoke at CPAC, in 2003. He ended the discussion with a long disquisition about how he had read the Qur'an twice and that it taught peace. I was just about to respond when he announced that the session was over"--Robert Spencer's comment on the moderator for his upcoming CSPAN debate with Dinesh D'Souza

Suhail Khan of the "Free Market Institute." Soon to be joined, no doubt, by the "Family Values Institute" headed up by one Dinesh D'Souza. Fundraising will be handled by Grover Norquist. I'm sure the Saudi Embassy can, through intermediaries, be counted on to come through.

Posted on 01/29/2007 6:37 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 29 January 2007
Non-Muslim Solidarity Needed

The mother of Muhammed Faisal Saksak, the 21-year-old suicide bomber who carried out Monday's attack in Eilat, said she was aware of her son's plan to blow himself up and that she had wished him "good luck."

Dozens of Palestinians, chanting slogans against Israel and the US, converged on the family's home to "congratulate" them on the success of the attack. --from this news item

The same story was just on NPR, with various "Palestinians" justifying this murder, as they do all others in that long-running and indeed endless series, as a response to "occupation" by the Israelis?

What "Occupation"? There is not a single Israeli soldier or civilian in Gaza? There is not a single Israeli soldier or civilian in the entire territory in the "West Bank" in the territories controlled, for thirteen years now, the "Palestinian Authority."

But of course as long as Israel exists, there will be, in Arab Muslim eyes, an "occupation." For no Infidel state has a right to exist -- first, on any land that was once part of Dar al-Islam, but then, of course, on any land anywhere. And it will be fascinating to see if Islam manages to incorporate territories in Europe into Dar al-Islam (that is, into the lands where "Islam dominates and is not to be dominated" and Muslims rule) that were never previously part of Dar al-Islam, while somehow other areas, possibly including Israel, that were to have been a priority, somehow manage to hold out.

There can be no doubt, however, that the fate of Western Europe, and of Israel, is one: that Islamic triumphs in either theatre, or for that matter elsewhere -- in India, or the Caucasus, or in sub-Sahran Africa, or in Canada -- will feed that natural sense of triumphalism, and any victory by Islam anywhere does not sate but whets the Muslim appetite. And that is why, even if you have no particular interest in the southern Sudanese, or the Jews of Israel, or the Serbs in Kosovo, or the Armenians, or the Hindus being harried and murdered in Bangladesh or Pakistan, or the Buddhists in southern Thailand, or Australians merely trying to stop gang-rapes and the takeover of beaches by Muslims, or those under death threats -- Robert Redeker in France, or Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, or Carl Hagen in Norway, or the editors of Jyllands-Posten in Denmark -- you have to express your solidarity and total support for all of them.

For all Infidels, even those who do not realize it, or have to manufacture a sympathy that does not come naturally to them (how many Hindus are likely to worry about the fate of Christians in Norway, or how many Nigerian Christians will worry about the Buddhists being beheaded in southern Thailand? All Infidels are in this together. They must be made to understand this. American Christians are affected by the fate of Hindus and Buddhists, and the anti-Israel brigade that has grown so strong in Western Europe has to be exposed and undone, in order not only to help Israel, but to save Western Europe.

Posted on 01/29/2007 6:27 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 29 January 2007
D'Souza is All Hat and No Cattle

Among the "liberals" whom Dinesh D'Souza deplores, are many of the most important protectors and defenders of the West, those who admire its liberties, and choose to exercise their freedoms not merely observe them. These include: Oriana Fallaci, Pym Fortuyn (murdered by an instrument of Islam), Theo van Gogh (murdered by a Muslim), Ayaan Hirsi Ali (who has sought safety in the United States), Ibn Warraq (ditto), Ali Sina (ditto), Anwar Shaikh (in Wales), Bat Ye'or, Bruce Bawer, Alain Finkielkraut, Alain Besancon, Alexandre del Valle, Jean Peroncel-Hugoz, Anne-Marie Delcambre, and many others.

Every single one of those listed is an atheist, and hence part of the group that Dinesh D'Souza deplores. Every single one is, in political terms, an old-fashioned liberal. Every single one has done far more to explain Islam, to stand up to Islam, to analyze Islam, to disseminate information about Islam that is useful to Infidels than Dinesh D"Souza with all his religiosity and "family values."

At least one moral should be drawn from this: Dinesh D'Souza is All Hat, and No Cattle.

Posted on 01/29/2007 6:00 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 29 January 2007
A Mea Culpa From Bernard Lewis?

"Bat Ye'or saw all this in 1994, when she said: "I do not see serious signs of a Europeanization of Islam anywhere, a move that would be expressed in a relativization of religion, a self-critical view of the history of Islamic imperialism...we are light years away from such a development...On the contrary, I think that we are participating in the Islamization of Europe, reflected both in daily occurrences and in our way of thinking...All the racist fanaticism that permeates the Arab countries and Iran has been manifested in Europe in recent years..." Lewis was light years away from saying anything like this at that time, but it is good to see that he is catching up."-- from Robert Spencer's comment on the Bernard Lewis interview with the Jerusalem Post linked by Rebecca here

Lewis has been wrong about a number of things. He was wrong, dead wrong, in his enthusiasm for the Oslo Accords. Indeed, he debated Douglas Feith once on this, and Feith, who did not know about Islam enough to discuss Muslim treaty-making and the model of Al-Hudaibiyyah, was without a main weapon, but still managed, purely on the basis of the disastrous wording of that agreement and on the consistent pattern of "Palestinian" ignoring of even the most limited promises that it had had to make, to defeat Lewis soundly.

Ask Lewis about his support for the Oslo Accords, and he replies, testily and laconically, "I was wrong." But he has never written about this. He has never explained what it was that he was wrong about. Was he wrong because Arafat was a bad man who couldn't be trusted? Was it something in the particular circumstances? Or was it, rather, something deeper, wider, more profound, something that means that any agreement made by Muslims with Infidels is going to be breached whenever and wherever possible? Does Lewis read about the history of Arab treaty-making with Israel? Surely he knows that every single agreement made by Israel with the Arabs, while being scrupulously observed in every jot and tittle by the Israelis, has always been violated by the Arabs whenever they can get away with it, and they have been able to get away with it quite often.

Why does Lewis not write about this? Why doesn't he explain, or first explain to himself, why he was wrong about the Oslo Accords? Lewis was more than an enthusiast; he would call people up, and hector them if they raised an objection to his enthusiasm for Oslo, or his attempt to assuage Muslim sensibilities on Jerusalem,  or other matters.

And why doesn't he, Lewis, explain how wrong he was about that Iraq venture, helping to persuade or echo the crazed idea that American soldiers would be "greeted as liberators" and that "the liberation of Baghdad would make the liberation of Kabul seem like a funeral procession" and did nothing to explain to Cheney or others upon whom he apparently had a certain influence, what the Sunni-Shi'a split was, how deep and durable it was and how the recent history of Iraq had only made it worse, and how demographic changes in Iraq (the Shi'a having multiplied faster than the Sunnis, just as they have been doing in Lebanon), and the power of not secularists like the Shah, but fanatical Shi'a in Tehran, insured that the Shi'a would never give up, and of course the Sunnis inside and outside Iraq can never acquiesce in losing power, and Baghdad, the most important city outside of Mecca in the mythology of Muslims, to the Rafidite dogs, those quasi-Persians, of Shi'a Islam.

He promoted, instead, his Shi'a friends, inveigled by them, or rather sharing with them their own forgetting what the people and country of Iraq were really like. Chalabi, for example, the man who had been out of Iraq since 1958, when he left it as a boy, or Kanan Makiya, who left it a dozen years ago, or Rend al-Rahim Francke, who co-wrote that book with Graham Fuller, or others, who like many of the most westernized, secularized, advanced representatives of the Arabs or Iranians, exaggerate the numbers of those who think as they do, forget the primitive masses, avert their eyes, or will not speak openly, about the permanent presence of the gorilla in the room, Islam, and so are guides in the end to very little.

And Lewis would write articles that stooped to political advertising for a specific candidate --the most egregious being that article he wrote proposing a Hashemite king for Iraq, a preposterously unrealistic proposal, which he co-signed with James Woolsey for the Wall Street Journal, a piece so transparently meant to promote plummy-voiced Prince Hassan of Jordan, Lewis's friend and host in Amman, that he should have been ashamed to publish it.

And then he got angry, got visibly angry, about those who questioned the democracy project, the belief, in Bush's unforgettable words, that "ordinary moms and dads in the Middle East" just want freedom. Lewis's own contribution to the standard authority on Islam, written several decades ago, explains why the Arab "hurriya" is not the same thing as English "freedom." Lewis knows, or once did, that in Islam it is the revealed will of Allah that should be the guide to the slaves of Allah, and not the slaves of Allah who, by expressing their will, through mere head-counting, mere elections, mere expressions of what mere mortals want or think they want, that should determine political legitimacy. And the location, in Islam, of legitimacy of government in the Ruler who is a Muslim, and never in the people, is something Lewis, who has on more than one occasion tried to hush people up, told them they should not raise certain issues, should go along with certain pretenses about Islam, now looks about, and sees that whenever he has supported a policy - the Oslo Accords, the Iraq farce -- he has been wrong. And yet he does not stop to think about exactly how and why he was wrong, or what obligation he has, to his many acolytes and admirers who bristle at any criticism of him, why he was wrong. And why was he wrong? He was wrong because, all of his life, he has simply failed to make sense of his vast learning, in order to see clearly the permanent menace and malevolence of Islam toward Infidels.

He missed, he underplayed, he would not quite allow himself to understand, that anti-Jewish feeling in the world of Islam had no need, as he has maintained, of the example of Europe's antisemitism or of the Nazis. Just because the antisemitism of Islam differs in its origins from that to be found, historically, in Western Christendom, and just because the Muslim mistreatment of Jews was only part of a larger program of mistreatment of mistreatment of all non-Muslims, is no reason to deny, as Lewis has, the antisemitism or anti-Jewish aspect of Islam, that is clear, and strong, and not to be denied or whitewashed.

Finally, why did Lewis for so many years behave so badly toward Bat Ye'or? Why did he urge others not to give her a forum in Israel? Why did he do nothing to encourage the reception of her work, and behind her back try to undercut it as "polemical" (and going on to echo Muslim objections) except when his interlocutor proved too knowledgeable for him to get away with those behind-the-scenes belittlements.

Now that he is going about telling us that the threat to the Western world is real, that Israel is imperilled (and imperilled partly by the doings of Bernard Lewis, and the powerful people he has helped to mislead about the Oslo Accords, about "democracy" in Iraq, about antisemitism in Islam, about Islam itself), he owes a setting down, in writing, of why he supported the Oslo Accords and why he was wrong to, of why he believed that in Iraq Americans would be greeted as "liberators" and that the whole Iraq the Model project made sense because he apparently believed that democracy and Islam can go together quite well (after all, didn't caliphs and other Muslim rulers have advisers? Why, yes, they did. And didn't they consult with others? Why yes, they did. They did consult, in order to make sure that they were doing the wise, the islamically correct, thing. So what? What does that have to do with Western-style democracy with its location of legitimacy in the expressed will of the people, and its emphasis on the rights of the individual?).

Cultivated, linguistically well-trained, clearly much more learned, possessing a fluent pen, the last of the old-style Orientalists, feline when he wants to be (that masterful dispatching of Said in an essay, and especially that single footnote about "thawra") why can't Lewis, who along with his friends, such as Bassam Tibi, who sees and is alarmed, at long last do what Goitein, who came to respect, admire, endorse the work, and the warnings, of the far-sighted Bat Ye'or, or Maxine Rodinson who after a lifetime of left-wing tiersmindiste sympathy for Islam finally came to appreciate Ibn Warraq's "Why I Am Not a Muslim" (a book assigned to Lewis for review by the TLS, a review he never dared to write) why can't Lewis do the intelligent, correct, and finally, the decent thing, and tell us where he was wrong, and why Bat Ye'or, and why Ibn Warraq, and why others, have been grimly right.

Now. While he still has time. And when it matters.

Posted on 01/29/2007 5:31 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 29 January 2007
John Simpson and His Retinue

First a little, thence to more, from past postings on John Simpson, director of the BBC World Service, a man deeply and viciously anti-Israel and slightly less deeply, and only a bit less viciously, anti-American. Note in particular his friendship with Peter Hounam (last noted when he was arrested by the Israelis when he was in their country making as much trouble for them as he could -- see Simpson's glowing review of Hounam's protocolish "Operation Cyanide":


"The BBC effectively has an Islamic agenda..."-- from a reader

Not so much the BBC, but a number of powerful people at the BBC. The BBC World Service is run by John Simpson, deeply anti-American and anti-Israeli, who in turn reports to the Foreign Office, for the World Service is under its control.

Another factor is that the kind of semi-educated young, without any particular skills or training, who are picked up by the BBC. Like hires like. Someone who appeared to believe that Islam exhibited many of the features of Fascism, or who thought, for example, that the cost of Muslim migrants in the Western world or the U.K. was simply too high for the indigenous Infidels to continue to pay, would not be hired by the B.B.C. today or, if hired, promoted. Someone who was seen to read The Telegraph, and not The Guardian or The Independent, someone who did not think that the American government was necessarily entirely of the devil's party, someone who seemed to think that Western civilization might actually exist, and be worth protecting, is unlikely to be hired by the B.B.C. today. It is not only a question of high policies. It is a question of personnel. In this respect the B.B.C. is only a more extreme case of NPR, or for that matter of most academic departments of literature and history.

Think of the mental makeup of America's Bright Young Things. Think of their proud parents, describing those 2-3 month "internships" by which well-off and well-connected young people, go for a few months in Moscow (battered women), or Cambodia (teenage prostitutes), or Darfur (black refugees). They may know not a word of the relevant local language (so just imagine what that means), they arrive to "help" for a few months, and then just as quickly depart (while the real workers stay on and on), and these 2-3-4 month stints presumably give them an "insight" into things and, though they would not recognize it, prove valuable to them, in helping swell their resume and hence their future job prospects, just as the enterprise of colonialism permitted those middle-class British or French or Belgians who went out to the colonies to live lives that, materially, were an improvement on what they would enjoy at home.

The old colonialist has been replaced by the NGO careerist. The propagandist for Empire has been replaced by the propagandist (on the BBC) for Arab imperialism. It has been the most successful and most damaging imperialism in world history. For the Arabs used Islam, a faith concocted to justify and promote Arab conquest, as a vehicle for Arab supremacist ideology. Those conquered by Islam, and forcibly converted (for the need to escape the onerous conditions of dhimmitude certainly constitutes "force"), did not merely convert. They surrendered their own histories, their own pre-Islamic pasts. They assumed Arab names, and false Arab lineages. They took as the models of behavior some Arabs of the 7th century -- the sole models of behavior. It has been an extraordinary phenomenon. No European imperialists came close to such an achievement, whereby those conquered remained unaware of the extent to which their minds and histories had been appropriated -- and permanently.

[Posted by: Hugh at April 28, 2005 10:06 AM]


"How does your theory about Simpson and the Beeb..."-- from a reader

I present no "theory" about Simpson. He is what he is, deeply anti-Israel, so deeply that it must emerge from that pathological condition which all civilized people have gotten use to detecting.

I will now introduce into evidence Simpson's review of the absurd book by his good friend Peter Hounam. Hounam has been doing what damage he could to the state of Israel for the past 30 years, perhaps most effectively in his encouraging the quasi-demented Mordechai Vanunu in his own revelations; indeed, when last heard from, Hounam had been arrested in Israel for more of the same. Hounam wrote a book about the Israeli attack on the U.S.S. Liberty, which the Israelis always maintained was an accident, with considerable evidence, and their version of events was completely vindicated not only by the book-length investigation of an American judge, but by the tapes of the pilots' conversations, finally released by the American government a year or two ago.

Nonetheless, it is one of the favorite topics of American and other antisemites. James Akins likes the topic; so do the Saudis and all of their hirelings. And John Simpson and Peter Hounam are fond of it. Hounam even wrote a book, "The Cyanide Conspiracy," which charges that the attack was deliberate, that it was orchestrated from within the American government by pro-Zionist agents, and that it was designed to be a casus belli between America and Egypt. All nonsense, but not for John Simpson.

Here are two reviews of this conspiracy theory deeply antisemitic book by Peter Hounam, for which not only was there not the slightest factual basis for it, but the recent release of the tapes made at the time by the Americans, of the Israeli pilots' conversation, and their analysis, shows clearly, as sane (i.e., non-antisemitic) commentators have shown, that the Israeli version of the incident -- that it was a mistake -- was in fact the real one.

The first review is simply to give a flavor of the book.

The second review -- the one by John Simpson, for years the czar of the BBC World Service, is given so that BBC supporters and detractors alike may get a hint of what John Simpson is all about when it comes to Israel:

Review #1:

OPERATION CYANIDE: Why the Bombing of the USS Liberty Nearly Caused World War
III, by Peter Hounam, Vision, a division of Satin Publications, Ltd, London,
2003, $24.95

Since it reviewed A. Jay Cristol's book, THE LIBERTY INCIDENT, in August 2003,
MILITARY HISTORY was bombarded with letters, including some from outraged survivors, insisting that the Israeli attack on their ship on June 8, 1967, was not in error, but deliberate (see letters, P. 8), and demanding that the guilty party confess to the crime. Absent from all such accusations, however, was a substantial explanation of motive: What would make it worth Israel's while to attack a ship -- even a spy ship -- being operated by one of its few supporters in the world?

In OPERATION CYANIDE, Peter Hounam, an investigative reporter for the SUNDAY TIMES and the British Broadcasting System with 30 years' experience, presents the results of his research into the question of "who really dunnit," which evolved into more of what he called a "why dunnit." Hounam structures his book accordingly, as the reader follows him from interview to interview, gathering clues like a detective from testimonies that tend to be scattered, fragmentary, guarded and sometimes almost cryptic. As Hounam "connects the dots," however, the scenario that emerges is fantastic and yet, in view of the United States' rush to war with Iraq in 2003, not entirely implausible.

In essence, President Lyndon B. Johnson and some key officials, seeing the increasingly Soviet-leaning Egyptian President Gamel Abdel Nasser as a threat, made secret arrangements to help Israel in its coming June offensive with the intention of toppling Nasser. As part of Operation Cyanide, USS LIBERTY was sent to operate off the Sinai coast, where it was to be sunk with all hands by unmarked Israeli aircraft and torpedo boats, after which the United States would blame the attack on Egypt and launch carrier air strikes against Cairo -- with nuclear weapons if necessary. The stubborn refusal of LIBERTY'S crew to die or let their ship sink after 75 minutes of air and sea attack -- in spite of two American carrier sorties to aid her being inexplicably called back -- led to the cancellation of Operation Cyanide, Israel's apology and offer of restitution for a "tragic mistake," the Johnson Administration's swift acceptance of that explanation and an equally quick, reassuring "hot line" telephone call to Soviet premier Alexei Kosygin.

The first book to seriously examine the possible reason behind the attack on USS LIBERTY, OPERATION CYANIDE presents fragmentary evidence to support an extraordinary theory. If, however, the emergence of further evidence proves its premise to be true, one cannot help but wonder if their being set up for destruction by the government they swore to serve, in the interests of starting a nuclear war based on a lie, is the sort of truth that LIBERTY'S bitter survivors were hoping for.
Jon Guttman


Review #2:

By John Simpson
BBC World Affairs Editor

This is an extraordinary story, one of the most extraordinary, perhaps, of the entire twentieth century. Suppose, in an attempt to shore up his critically damaged presidency, Lyndon Johnson deliberately engineered an event in which American lives were sacrificed and the United States was brought disturbingly close to an all-out nuclear war with Russia? Suppose this involved a secret agreement between Israel and American intelligence, which resulted in an Israeli attack on an American naval vessel, in the latter stages of the Six-Day War?

It sounds, I know, like one of those depressing conspiracy theories which cluster round every big controversial event from the death of Princess Diana to the attack on the World Trade Centre. People often have problems in handling the banality of truth, and prefer to imagine deeper, darker plots beneath the surface. Yet this book is based on careful, rigorous investigation by a well-known and respected journalist who has meticulously tracked down the people and the documents who have survived from
the event itself: the attack on the USS Liberty, in the eastern Mediterranean in June 1967.

As with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, four years earlier, the official version is even more unlikely than some of the conspiracy theories. In order to believe the hasty, often contradictory account which came out of Washington, you would have to accept all sorts of virtual impossibilities: that Israeli planes and torpedo boats could have mistaken a modern American warship of ten thousand tons for an elderly Egyptian horse transport less than a quarter of its size, come to within fifty feet of it without spotting that it was flying a particularly large American flag, and blazed away at it from close range for forty minutes before realizing what it was they were shooting at. A hasty American enquiry immediately afterwards called it 'a bona fide mistake.' That seems, to say the least, a little implausible.

Yet this is the official version, which stands to this day. Any other version -- that of the Liberty's surviving crew members, for instance -- has been extremely hard to establish because of the intensity of the security blanket which the Israelis and Americans wrapped around the entire incident.

The blanket remains in place to this day, yet this book provides sufficient evidence for any open-minded person to see that something else lies underneath: something very disturbing.

I have found Peter Hounam's research compelling, and the story which unfolds in these pages rivetting. It is time a little daylight was shed on Operation Cyanide. This book does precisely that, and we should be grateful for it.

John Simpson
October 2002

Do you still think that it is a "theory" about John Simpson, the man who conveys the Foreign Office line, along with a considerable anti-Israel animus, deeply felt, passionately believed, of his own, to everyone (not that everyone needs encouragement -- Judy Swallow doesn't, nor do a good many others on the BBC World Service) at the BBC World Service.

As for the detestable Orla Guerin (married, I think, to a "Palestinian" Arab), she has no business being awarded anything, and has no business being kept on in a job where she can mouth her venomous views, paid for by the hapless license-fee payers of Great Britain, not all of whom can possibly enjoy enduring the requirement that they pay the salary for someone who is as much part of the enemy camp, as Lord Haw-Haw or Tokyo Rose.

[Posted by: Hugh at April 28, 2005 01:36 PM]

Note, please, that were this understood as the kind of war it is, a man like John Simpson would be treated as were Nazi sympathizers during World War II. He would long ago have lost his job, and at the very least be under surveillance. That he helps to mold minds all over the world, at the direction of the Foreign Office, and that he continues to keep a real sense of what Islam is all about from listeners everywhere (even as he endorses, and even accepts and repeats, the most absurd anti-Israel canards, like that of Peter Hounam), gives one pause.

If there is any conspiracy, it is one involving rich and powerful Arab interests, who have bought and paid their way into the chanceries, and the minds, of Western leaders everywhere. Sometimes the bribery is clearcut, as with Chirac. Sometimes it comes indirectly, through the promise of business deals (chiefly armaments sales and oil concessions to the oil companies of sufficiently-compliant nations).

Does John Simpson have friends and acquaintances in high places? How could he not? He is in a very high place himself. Is he friendly with Alistair Crooke? With James Akins? With Patrick Seale? Does he get along well with Edward Mortimer, Chief Speechwriter to Kofi Annan, himself the enthusiastic endorser of a book by Lennie Brenner about how Zionists collaborated with Nazis -- as vicious a book as can be imagined, but one that was a positive boon to our Edward (quasi-plantagenet) Mortimer when he went looking for work at the U.N. and, having just come off a stint of Euro-Arab Dialoguish stuff, was the right rat for the right office at the right U.N.

[Posted by: Hugh at April 28, 2005 01:54 PM]

John Simpson should not be running the BBC World Service. In wartime, one incarcerates those who sympathize with the enemy, and who work to undercut one's allies. Israel is a fellow Infidel and ally of all Infidels. Muslim Arabs are the enemy. Simpson, in a well-ordered world, would have, at the very least, his phones tapped, his every move monitored. He is an Agent of Influence -- whether out of conviction or for pay, or the overlapping of the two, doesn't matter. Objectively, John Simpson and the BBC World Service -- like other parts of the BBC but with special venom -- help to promote the apologists for Islam.

They must be exposed, and then must be turned out. The mixture as before will not do.

Posted on 01/29/2007 3:46 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 29 January 2007
Crawley, Yes, But Hold the Becky Sharp

Jihad Watch: The BBC are researching the activities of Al-Muhajiroun in the town of Crawley in Sussex in the United Kingdom. It has been widely reported that the group and its leader Omar Bakri Mohammed were active in the town in the late 1990s, and that OBM lectured in a scout hut there. Anyone with any information about this, please contact Home Affairs Correspondent Richard Smith via [email protected]

"...sorely tempted to respond to this BBC overture as the fat boy Ciccio did to the beautiful girl Aldina in Fellini's Amarcord (1973), who had smugly ignored his pining attraction to her for so long but then, when he became the center of famous attention, suddenly curried his favor. Ciccio, beaming with certitude and joy in that juicy moment of revenge, in effect said to her to go fuck herself."--- from a reader at JW

One of the best things in "Amarcord" is Fellini's invention of the name "Gradisca" for the sweet prostitute The BBC is just like "Gradisca," except without her sweetness, her light, her services to humanity. But still, let's not imitate Ciccio and say "vaffanculo" to Aldina (if that's the word you were searching for).

Not everyone at the BBC, not absolutely everyone, is like Lustig, Plett, Swallow, and of course the inimitable John Simpson (quod vide or rather google), the great and good friend of Peter Hounam (author of that conspiracy theory book about the "Zionists").

Let's help out, if we can. Perhaps the saner ones there will begin to get a glimmer of the truth, and more than a glimmer. Perhaps they will find out that at JW and NER are perfectly sane, amusing, people of the Infidel world, not crazed Bible-belt snake-healers or whatever it is we are supposed to be, but rather in the line of Spinoza, Hume, Tocqueville, and others who would not have lasted one minute in a Muslim-ruled country. There have to be some at the BBC capable of seeing what is in front of their eyes all over London, capable of deciphering the mene-mene-tekel-upharsin scrawled on the wall of Bush House.

Posted on 01/29/2007 3:36 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 29 January 2007
Let's Not Play 'Let's Pretend'

"what are the best mechanisms and strategies to prevent the millions of moderate Muslims worldwide who know little about Islam (and/or are happy to ignore the negative aspects of Islam) from being radicalized as Islamic recruitment continues?" --from a reader

Surely not to show we are willing to participate in a shared game with "moderate Muslims" (a term that must be examined and subject to constant evaluation and critical scrutiny) of "let's pretend" -- let's pretend that the Qur'an and Hadith and Sira don't say what they say, let's pretend Muslims have not followed the tenets of Islam over the past 1350 years, let's pretend that those who ignore parts of Islamic doctrine and thus are less of a menace to non-Muslims are less of a menace because they are observant, when they are less of a menace precisely to the degree that they are non-observant, refuse to take the duties of a good Muslim -- for example, to engage in Jihad - seriously.

Posted on 01/29/2007 3:30 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 29 January 2007
What's Up in Kerala

"In Kerala, where Muslims are traditionally the poorest residents, those returning from the Persian Gulf say they are building pride in their community and connecting its members to the broader Islamic world. But others see the growth of sectarian politics and scattered religious violence as warning signs."--from this news item

Kerala State is famous for its Communists, and for its Christians. It still has plenty of people named after Joseph Stalin, in the same vaguely admiring spirit in which Mussolini's father gave baby boy Mussolini the name "Benito" because he admired, from a distance, what he heard about Benito Juarez. Both are inimical to Islam. and Islam is inimical to both. In Kerala, as in Iran with the Tudeh Party, or in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Egypt with some leftover Communist dinosaurs, to be a Marxist was often merely the only conceivable way out of Islam, by replacing one all-encompassing ideology, that of Islam, with the ideology of dialectical materialism. Among Iranians in European exile, some of the fiercest are the lady Communists, like those who hosted Ibn Warraq in Stockholm a few years ago.

When you hear about "Communists" in the Muslim world, do not be as fearful as you might once have been. They are much less dangerous, much less of a threat, than the Muslims whom John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles and Kermit Roosevelt and others used to favor as "a bulwark against Communism."

Posted on 01/29/2007 3:23 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 29 January 2007
Re: Barbaro

My wife, bless her, posted these George MacDonald lines at Alex Brown's site:

The great sun, benighted,
May faint from the sky,
But love, once uplighted,
Will never more die.

Form with its brightness,
From eyes will depart;
It walketh in whiteness
The halls of the heart.

To see what an eloquent legion of Barbaromaniacs have posted from California to England to Iraq go here.

Posted on 01/29/2007 3:23 PM by Robert Bove
Monday, 29 January 2007
Ship Ahoy!

Talking of nautical things, I happened to be on HMS Belfast the other day. She is a decommisioned Royal Navy cruiser which has been moored in the Thames opposite the Tower of London,  for the last 30 years as part of the Imperial War Museum.

I borrowed the camera and took some photos. The asymetric building is City Hall. Very avant guard.

Tower bridge will be well known to you. It is not falling down, and was not sold to Arizona. That was London bridge.

Posted on 01/29/2007 2:58 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 29 January 2007
Re: Frog toad

Or Frog toady, back home in Switzerland:  The ancestors of the intellectuals with whom the good senator is most at home expressed similar contempt for America, never missing a toast to the Nazi officers for whom they spread their checkered café table cloths.  Always for himself, John Kerry's tears.  Never forget that.

Posted on 01/29/2007 2:42 PM by Robert Bove
Monday, 29 January 2007
Shiver me timbers

House prices will peak soon and then go down. How do I know this? Easy – broom cupboard syndrome.


House prices rise and rise – it’s happened before. Then there’s a story in the papers about a broom cupboard for sale in Knightsbridge for £1 million. Then prices level off and even fall. A few days ago there was a story of  a 12 ft by 6 ft flat for sale in Chelsea, on the market at £170,000. This means prices will fall soon.


I may be wrong, of course. But that’s not the point. The point is that the headline is “No room to swing a cat”, and the writer of the piece says:


It would be unwise, therefore, to bring along the proverbial cat, not least because there would be no room to swing it (and yes, we do know that the “ cat” in the saying is the cat-o’-nine-tails).


Wrong, wrong, wrong. This is a common piece of folk etymology, which has no basis in fact. A Victoria Sold Dennis saved me the trouble of writing to The Times to point this out:

If you believe that the cat in the saying “no room to swing a cat” is the cat-o-nine-tails, rather than a live moggy, you have been deceived by the notorious underground folk-etymology guerrilla group CANOE (the Campaign to Attribute Nautical Origins to Everything).

The first known use of this phrase is in 1665, when it was a charming English custom to hang a live cat in a leather bottle and set it swinging as a target for marksmen. It is much more likely that the phrase refers to this practice, which Shakespeare refers to in Much Ado About Nothing: “Hang me in a bottle like a cat, and shoot at me.”

The term “cat-o’-nine-tails” for a whip is not recorded until 1695, and there is no authenticated instance of “no room to swing a cat” being used with this meaning during the entire existence of the sailing navy. (And actually no reason why it should have been; naval floggings were always carried out on deck, for the edification of the rest of the crew.)

I had never heard of CANOE, but I know what she means. Take the word “posh”. Lots of people think that this originally stood for "Port Out Starboard Home", referring to 1st class cabins shaded from the sun on outbound voyages west, and homeward heading voyages east. There is no evidence for this at all. The folk etymology is what you call a bacronym, which means that the words of the expanded term were chosen to fit the letters of the acronym. Other bacronyms include GOLF, which does not stand for Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden, and CHAV, which does not stand for Council Housed And Violent, even if it ought to.


Many of our phrases are of nautical origin, however. For examples, see this site: 

Many phrases that have been adopted into everyday use originate from seafaring - in particular from the days of sail. The nautical origin of many of these is now forgotten. Conversely, some people do like to attribute the origin of phrases to seafaring with no justification other than the romantic image of horny-handed sailors singing shanties and living a hearty and rough life at sea. After all, it sounds plausible that 'cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey' comes from brass ship's fittings and that POSH means 'Port out, starboard home'. Neither of these is correct though.

Fortunately, activities at sea have been scrupulously recorded over the centuries, in insurance records, newspaper accounts and, not least, in ships' log books. The term log-book has an interesting derivation in itself. An early form of measuring a ship's progress was by casting overboard a wooden board (the log) with a string attached. The rate at which the string was payed out as the ship moved away from the stationary log was measured by counting how long it took between knots in the string. These measurements were later transcribed into a book. Hence we get the term 'log-book' and also the name 'knot' as the unit of speed at sea.

The list below are phrases that have documentary evidence to support the claim of a nautical origin:

All at sea
Batten down the hatches
Between the Devil and the deep blue sea
Broad in the beam
Close quarters
Cut and run
Give a wide berth
Go by the board
Hand over fist
Hard and fast
High and dry
In the offing
Know the ropes
On your beam ends
Plain sailing
Shipshape and Bristol fashion
Shake a leg
Shiver my timbers
Taken aback
Tell it to the marines
The bitter end
The cut of your jib
Three sheets to the wind

Posted on 01/29/2007 2:31 PM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 29 January 2007
Re: Big Brother is peeking

Peeking as in duck, perhaps, a bit of lubricious Cockney rhyming slang.

“Street furniture could routinely house detection systems that would indicate the likely presence of a gun, for example.”

Is that a gun in your pocket? No, you're just pleased to see me.

Posted on 01/29/2007 2:03 PM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 29 January 2007
Big Brother is Peeking

It's come to this. From The Sun:

OFFICIALS are bracing themselves for a storm of public outrage over their controversial X-ray cameras scheme.

As part of the most shocking extension of Big Brother powers ever planned here, lenses in lampposts would snap “naked” pictures of passers-by to trap terror suspects...

A January 17 memo seen by The Sun discusses the cameras, which can see through clothes.

It says “detection of weapons and explosives will become easier” and says cameras could be deployed in street furniture.

It adds: “Some technologies used in airports have already been used as part of police operations looking for drugs and weapons in nightclubs. These and others could be developed for a much more widespread use in public spaces.

“Street furniture could routinely house detection systems that would indicate the likely presence of a gun, for example.”

Posted on 01/29/2007 1:34 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 29 January 2007
Whimper to the Quims

That last phrase,  "whimper to the quims," the serendipitous result of a substandard command of English, nonetheless possesses a haunting beauty of its own. It might be the title of a tale describing, or promoting, the new unmanly man, whose time has come, for he may be bookended with the new manly woman:  Whimper to the Quims.

There is more that might be done with this, before we are through.

Spooneristic play, of the visual rather than aural variety, yields another way of alluding to the Pottery Barn Misrules --that is, no rules at all-- as The Whims of Quimper. A treat for those on these shores who, like Jacques Barzun and Francis Steegmuller and Justin O'Brien, and others of that francophone ilk, do like, from time to time, to feel the sea-breeze of Brezh wafting over the Upper East Side, and Morningside Heights, and even Washington Square.

Posted on 01/29/2007 12:31 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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