Prague Watchdog has begun to publish fiction.
modernityblog, writing at the new blog CiF Watch, notes that
Israelis are accused of harvesting the organs of Palestinians, on the basis of no factual evidence and even the author of the piece, Donald Boström, says “But whether it’s true or not – I have no idea, I have no clue.” yet the Guardian and CiF can’t be bothered to question this conspicuous racism.
At Prague Watchdog, a Circassian philosopher discusses suicide bombing in the North Caucasus.
August 21, 2009
The Honorable Kenny MacAskill, MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Justice
St. Andrew’s House
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Dear Mr. Secretary:
Over the years I have been a prosecutor, and recently as the Director of the FBI, I have made it a practice not to comment on the actions of other prosecutors, since only the prosecutor handling the case has all the facts and the law before him in reaching the appropriate decision.
Your decision to release Megrahi causes me to abandon that practice in this case. I do so because I am familiar with the facts, and the law, having been the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the investigation and indictment of Megrahi in 1991. And I do so because I am outraged at your decision, blithely defended on the grounds of “compassion.”
Your action in releasing Megrahi is as inexplicable as it is detrimental to the cause of justice. Indeed your action makes a mockery of the rule of law. Your action gives comfort to terrorists around the world who now believe that regardless of the quality of the investigation, the conviction by jury after the defendant is given all due process, and sentence appropriate to the crime, the terrorist will be freed by one man’s exercise of “compassion.” Your action rewards a terrorist even though he never admitted to his role in this act of mass murder and even though neither he nor the government of Libya ever disclosed the names and roles of others who were responsible.
Your action makes a mockery of the emotions, passions and pathos of all those affected by the Lockerbie tragedy: the medical personnel who first faced the horror of 270 bodies strewn in the fields around Lockerbie, and in the town of Lockerbie itself; the hundreds of volunteers who walked the fields of Lockerbie to retrieve any piece of debris related to the breakup of the plane; the hundreds of FBI agents and Scottish police who undertook an unprecedented global investigation to identify those responsible; the prosecutors who worked for years–in some cases a full career–to see justice done.
But most importantly, your action makes a mockery of the grief of the families who lost their own on December 21, 1988. You could not have spent much time with the families, certainly not as much time as others involved in the investigation and prosecution. You could not have visited the small wooden warehouse where the personal items of those who perished were gathered for identification–the single sneaker belonging to a teenager; the Syracuse sweatshirt never again to be worn by a college student returning home for the holidays; the toys in a suitcase of a businessman looking forward to spending Christmas with his wife and children.
You apparently made this decision without regard to the views of your partners in the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the Lockerbie tragedy. Although the FBI and Scottish police, and prosecutors in both countries, worked exceptionally closely to hold those responsible accountable, you never once sought our opinion, preferring to keep your own counsel and hiding behind opaque references to “the need for compassion.”
You have given the family members of those who died continued grief and frustration. You have given those who sought to assure that the persons responsible would be held accountable the back of your hand. You have given Megrahi a “jubilant welcome” in Tripoli, according to the reporting. Where, I ask, is the justice?
Robert S. Mueller, III
The BBC’s Andrei Ostalski analyzes media coverage of the Nazi-Soviet Pact and the outbreak of World War II:
Until quite recently, the Soviet press had described Nazi leaders as “outcasts”, “moral degenerates”, “misfits”.
Now the press needed to learn how to describe them respectfully, as the leaders of a friendly state.
Furthermore, Soviet journalists needed to correct their psychological approach to this extremely quickly – Stalin had set 23 August as the absolute deadline for von Ribbentrop’s arrival in Moscow for the signing of the pact.
And the Orwell diaries are now covering the events that led up to the start of hostilities on September 1, 1939:
1. Emergency Powers Act passed evidently without much trouble. Contains clauses allowing preventive arrest, search without warrant & trial in camera. But not industrial conscription as yet. [Wireless 6 pm]
2. Moscow airport was decorated with swastikas for Ribbentrop’s arrival. M. Guardian adds that they were screened so as to hide them from the rest of Moscow. Manchester Guardian [h]
The Jerusalem Post reports that because of the Swedish government’s refusal to condemn the Aftonbladet article which accused IDF soldiers of stealing the organs of Palestinian civilians, Swedish officials, including the country’s foreign minister, Carl Bildt, may be “unwelcome” in Israel:
While [Israeli Finance Minister Yuval] Steinitz did not specify his meaning, his comments were possibly a reference to Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, who is set to visit Israel in early September but has rejected calls to condemn the story. “We have a crisis until the Swedish government responds differently,” Steinitz said.
Kavkaz Center has a post by “Emir Dokka Abu Usman” (aka Dokka Umarov), headed This year will be our offensive year – which just about says it all.
Haaretz reports that
Israeli officials demand that the Swedish government denounce a recent article by a top Swedish newspaper alleging that Israel Defense Forces soldiers kill Palestinian civilians in order to harvest their organs.
On Friday, the Israeli Ambassador to Sweden Benny Dagan met with Deputy Foreign Minister of the Scandinavian country and urged his government to issue a denunciation of the article. Deputy Foreign Minister Frank Belfrage emphasized his country’s freedom of speech and how it limits the ability of the government to respond to articles in the media.
Dagan rebuffed Belfrage’s explanation, saying that in the past the Swedish government responded to similar articles and their reluctance to do so in this case has made it unclear what their stance is.
The stance of the Swedish deputy foreign minister was backed up on Saturday by the country’s prime minister.
A Netanyahu aide said that “Israel does not wish to infringe upon the freedom of the press in Sweden. However, as much as the Swedish press is entitled to freedom, the Swedish government should enjoy the freedom of denouncing such reports.”
See also: Bildt silent on anti-Semitic article
At Z-Word, Eamonn McDonagh writes about the sentimentalism of the left in its support for the Palestinian cause:
Indeed for the progressive commentariat it is the apparent hopelessness of the Palestinian cause that makes it so appealing. The day the Palestinian leaders start to show serious signs of wanting to make a deal that’s possible to make, that’s the day the progressive commentariat will start looking for another group of exotic people to come over all misty-eyed about, in a well meaning but condescending way.
By Jonas Bernstein
20 August 2009
Soviet dictator Josef Stalin (file photo)
Sunday, August 23, marks the 70th anniversary of the so-called Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact – the non-aggression treaty signed in 1939 by Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov and German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop. The pact included a secret protocol dividing Eastern and Central Europe into Nazi and Soviet spheres of influence. Days after it was signed, first German and then Soviet forces invaded Poland.
The anniversary’s approach has sparked a debate in Europe. Western governments condemn Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin as two equally murderous variants of totalitarianism. The Russian government calls that comparison a “distortion” of history.
On August 17, the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service issued a statement saying it had declassified documents showing that the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was the Soviet Union’s “only available means of self-defense.”
The spy agency’s demarche was just the latest in a series of Russian government statements that critics say appear to defend Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and justify actions he took shortly before and during World War II.
In early May, Russian Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu introduced legislation in parliament that would make it a crime to deny the Soviet victory in World War II.
Later in May, President Dmitri Medvedev issued a decree setting up a presidential commission to counter what he called attempts to “falsify history.”
At a meeting in early July, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe passed a resolution designating August 23 – the anniversary of the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact – as a day of remembrance for the victims of both Stalinism and Nazism.
Russian delegates to the European security body walked out of the meeting, in protest. Russia’s Foreign Ministry denounced the OSCE resolution as “an attempt to distort history with political goals,” while Russia’s parliament called it a “direct insult to the memory of millions” of Soviet soldiers who, in the words of the parliament, “gave their lives for the freedom of Europe from the fascist yoke.”
Former independent Russian parliament Deputy Vladimir Ryzhkov says what he calls the “official” Russian position on the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact is “extremely strange.”
Ryzhkov asks why today’s Russia, which has a democratic constitution and new democratic legitimacy, should justify the division of Europe between Hitler and Stalin.
He says that this view is now included in Russian history text books and has caused “enormous moral damage” to Russia’s reputation, particularly in the countries of Eastern Europe that were the main victims of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Ryzhkov says the only explanation for the Russian leadership’s position on the issue is what he calls “sympathy for Stalin.”
Public opinion surveys suggest many ordinary Russians share at least some of their government’s views.
A poll conducted by the state-run VTsIOM agency, following the OSCE resolution condemning Stalinism and Nazism, found that 53 percent of the respondents across Russia viewed it negatively, while 11 percent viewed it positively and 21 percent viewed it neutrally. In addition, 59 percent of those polled said the resolution was aimed at undermining Russia’s authority in the world and diminishing its contribution to the defeat of Nazi Germany.
Dmitry Furman of the Russian Academy of Science’s Institute of Europe calls the presidential commission to counter what it deems historical falsification an “idiotic undertaking” and a “very bad idea.” He also says Stalin’s government killed as many, or even more people than Hitler’s.
But, given the suffering Russians endured after Hitler turned on Stalin and invaded the Soviet Union, Furman says it is natural that many resist equating Stalinism and Nazism.
Furman says it is “very difficult psychologically” for Russians to put what they see as their “victors” in the Great Patriotic War, as they call World War II, on the same level with the vanquished Nazis.
See also: The anniversary approaches