Winston Churchill’s sister-in-law urged him not to convert to Islam

British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill (AFP Photo/Cpt Tanner, No 2 Army Film and Photographic Unit)
British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill (AFP Photo/Cpt Tanner, No 2 Army Film and Photographic Unit)

Sir Winston Churchill’s family begged him to “fight against” the desire to convert to Islam, according to a newly-discovered letter.

“Please don’t become converted to Islam; I have noticed in your disposition a tendency to orientalise, Pasha-like tendencies, I really have, the letter from Churchill’s future sister-in-law, dated August 1907, says, the Independent reported.

“If you come into contact with Islam your conversion might be effected with greater ease than you might have supposed, call of the blood, don’t you know what I mean, do fight against it,” Lady Gwendoline Bertie, who was soon to marry Churchill’s brother Jack, added.

The letter was found by a historian at Cambridge University, Warren Dockter, while he was researching for his book ‘Winston Churchill and the Islamic World: Orientalism, Empire and Diplomacy in the Middle East’.

The former UK prime minister was greatly interested in Islam and oriental culture, but “never seriously considered converting,” Dockter told the paper.

Churchill in military uniform, 1895. (Image from Wikipedia/the Imperial War Museum)
Churchill in military uniform, 1895. (Image from Wikipedia/the Imperial War Museum)

“He was more or less an atheist by this time anyway. He did however have a fascination with Islamic culture, which was common among Victorians,” he added.

Churchill became acquainted with Islamic culture during his army service in Sudan, and was greatly taken with it.

The researcher noted the possible reason behind the letter, and that those close to Churchill needn’t have been worried. He may have been a great admirer of the culture, but was also critical in his views on Islamic society.

“The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men,” Churchill wrote in 1899 of his experience in Sudan.

Russia Today (UK), 29 December 2014

Kurdistan: More Like Israel, Less Like Iraq

It is a society that rejects religious zealotry. Most Kurds are Sunni Muslim and one can hear the five-times-a-day Muslim call to prayer, but it is muted and ignored by most.

Like Israel, Kurdistan is more democratic than any of its neighbors. Like Israel, Kurdistan is surrounded by enemies that wish it did not exist. Like Israel, Kurdistan looks West. And like Israel, Kurdistan has maintained an internal equilibrium though all the world betrays it.

Iraqi Kurdistan is full of surprises. Probably, the most unexpected discovery is how normal life is in its capital city, Erbil. Despite a late summer scare by Islamic State [IS] military gains north of Mosul and the threat of suicide bomber attacks, the social discipline of Kurdistan’s citizens is admirable. There is a relaxed state of tension. It is “business as usual.”

There is also a sense of optimism, pervasive and infectious. Entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well. While there was an exodus of foreign businessmen after the initial territorial gains by the IS, foreign investors are filtering back. The Kurdistan Regional Government [KRG] has already drawn up plans for large-scale projects to improve the infrastructure. Heavy-duty construction vehicles are everywhere. The most visible project is the beltway being built around the city.

An aerial view of Erbil, in Iraqi Kurdistan, featuring the ancient Erbil Citadel in the center. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons/Jan Kurdistani)

Political pluralism has come to the Kurdish north as well. While the Kurdistan Democratic Party [KDP] and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan [PUK] respectively remain the one-two political powerhouses, they now have plenty of company. No one party dominates the parliament. There is plenty of horse-trading on issues, fleeting coalitions, and new political personalities are being heard. Nevertheless, the most influential and respected leaders still come from the Barzani extended family, which run the KDP. The late Mustafa Barzani (1903-1979) is revered as the warrior-godfather of modern Kurdistan.

Kurds, for the most part, are a welcoming lot. The methodical and rapid settlement of tens of thousands of refugees from IS-controlled Iraq required bold leadership by the Barzani-led government and especially from the Catholic hierarchy of Kurdistan. This success also reflects the compassion of a self-confident people. The population of the Dohok region, for example has doubled due to the influx of refugees. There is no observable tension between the newcomers and the population of the host country. Despite the inveterate resentment of the excesses of past Arab regimes, Kurdistan is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society. It has become even more so with the emigration from other parts of Iraq of Turkmen, Yezidis, and Christian Assyrians and Arabs. It is also a society that rejects religious zealotry. Most Kurds are Sunni Muslim and one can hear the five-times-a-day Muslim call to prayer, but it is muted and ignored by most.

Men, mostly, walk on the streets of Erbil, Dohok, and Zako, especially at night. Kurdistan is not, however, a society that represses women. There are many in parliament, and they are outspoken on the issue of violence to females in Kurdish society. At one conference in mid-November, at least half of the speakers were women prominent in Kurdistan. Women military volunteers are widely admired. The Kurdish media celebrates the Kurdish Peshmerga‘s female fighters. One woman — a veteran of the fierce battle to save the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane (near Turkey’s border) from an IS takeover — who recently visited Erbil, was received as a national hero. Female Yezidis who have escaped after torture by IS operatives are deeply admired too.

Zako, once the center of Kurdistan’s Jewish population, still invites back descendants of those who long ago left for Zion. Zako’s isolated villages are the wild west of Kurdistan. Its stark beauty against a ring of mountain chains may become a tourist magnet both for its ancient historical attractions and recreational possibilities.

For all of the above reasons, Kurdistan reminds one of Israel. Like Israel, Kurdistan is not dominated by the Arab, nor by Islam. Like Israel, Kurdistan is more democratic than any of its neighbors. Like Israel, Kurdistan is surrounded by enemies that wish it did not exist. Like Israel, Kurdistan looks West. And like Israel, Kurdistan has maintained an internal equilibrium though all the world betrays it.

Dr. Lawrence A. Franklin served on active duty with the U.S. Army and as a Colonel in the Air Force Reserve, where he served as a Military Attaché to Israel.

THE MAN WHO SNIFFED PARADISE

la-fg-turkey-erdogan-gender-equality-20141124-001

 

Some like the perfume from Spain

I’m sure that if,

I took even one sniff,

It would bore me terrifically, too,

Yet I get a kick out of you.

Cole Porter, I Get A Kick Out Of You

As a boy, he used to kiss his mother’s feet and it made her nervous.

No, no, Mama, the book says so.

Huh? What book? You shouldn’t read such things.

Yeah, it says heaven is under your feet.

My feet? Stop…this tickles. Stop! It’s like what the dog does.

Aw come on Mama, don’t be shy. I’m seeing Paradise.

Paradise? What Paradise? You’re seeing calluses and split toenails and a hole in my stockings.

Please, please, stop wiggling your toes, Mama. I’m having a spiritual experience. They smell like heaven.

Not with the feet! Not with the feet! Wait until I tell your father! You’ll be seeing the back of his hand!

Aw pleeeeze….Mamaaaaaa…..now I’m seeing a mosque in Havana. And Fidel abluting his cigar.

Allah! Allah! Why don’t you go out and play football like the rest of the boys, my son.

No, no, please Mama, those boys are different…

Many are criticizing the Turkish president for his remarks at a meeting of a group called, with great irony, the Women and Democracy Association. The name is like something they made up in the lobby. At the meeting the president again shared his wide-ranging, penetrating insights from his lifelong study of Anti-Feminology, namely that women are in no way, no how, equal to men. It’s “against nature,’ he said. Although he did offer the fascinating concept that women, if they tried real hard, could be “equivalent” to men. He also declared that feminists reject motherhood, adding something about breast-feeding women should not work in communist factories. Predictably, feminists and communists, and particularly feminist-communists, were unified in an outrage equivalent to the firestorm bombing of Dresden. As a male feminist, uncertain about motherhood issues, I find the president’s ideas inspirational, perplexing and perfectly suitable to his adoring audience. And his charm and sunny disposition have won my heart, perhaps forever.

Some people think that the Turkish president is a strident troublemaker. Not me!

Some say he is spiteful, hateful and full of anger, particularly towards breast-feeding mothers and their communist significant others. Not me!

Some even say that he is a complete……well……I can’t even think about this one, no less say it, no less write it.

I stridently, but respectfully, disagree with all of his critics.

The president of Turkey deserves our gushing respect and undivided attention.

Here’s why.

He said that the characters, habits and physiques of women are different from those of men. This is a brilliant insight! This is true! I hope his audience rose as one to render a standing ovation of loving applause. I immediately thought of Marilyn Monroe and Woody Allen. It would indeed be “against nature” to put these two on an “equal footing.” The president is correct in his assertion about character and habit, but especially about physique. I mean, whose feet would you rather kiss?

And as far as breastfeeding women and non-breastfeeding communists working together in some Soviet-era tractor factory, well, again the Turkish president is perfectly correct. Breastfeeding women couldn’t even hold the wrenches properly. Think about it and you will instantly grasp the president’s wisdom. Holding a baby to one’s breast is a completely different motion and habit than the complicated, manly habit of turning a wrench. And even if men could lactate, could they handle having a baby sucking at their breasts every few hours while those tractor axles kept on coming? No, of course not. And where would they stash the babies in between feeding time? It would be so unnaturally confusing, wouldn’t it? The commissar would send them all to Siberia. Besides, if I understand the Turkish president’s deeper meaning, communist men are always looking to start revolutions. It’s their nature. Just look at history! And to make revolutions they need free hands, that is, no screaming, hungry babies interfering with their secret meetings. This is what the clever Turkish president meant. And he is absolutely correct. And that’s why he buys more and more tear gas and more and more TOMA monsters. It all makes sense, doesn’t it? Thank you Mr. President! Your applauding audience is proud of you.

He also said that women being equal to men is “against nature.” Bravo! Brava! This is true too. I mean, what women would cultivate nature like the Turkish president, a man, does? He has leveled millions and millions of trees so that nature can breathe freely. No woman would dream of doing that. He has leveled mountains to free marble from its lifelong imprisonment so that villas and hotels and palaces can have shiny walls and slippery floors. And the president knows how women, by nature and habit, like to clean things. So women now have something to do. And marble also now has something to do, rather than just stay inside some dumb mountain. And women can clean and polish all of it, doing what comes naturally to them. No woman could even come close to thinking of such a perfectly complex idea. Only men can do that. The president of Turkey is very smart and deserves loud acclaim until the end of recorded time.

And I completely agree with the Turkish president that women should be equal among women and men should be equal among men. Such a great social philosophy, though it seems to border on that nasty communism thing. Nevertheless, I agree with the president. For example, when we are alone, my wife and I never argue unnaturally about whether we are equal to each other, she being a woman and I a man. I am perfectly content to be a man equal to myself and, so far, she is happy to be a woman equal to herself. It proves the president’s intelligently argued point regarding the natural law that men are men and women are women. On this issue, peace prevails. The argument as applied to gay couples has yet to be addressed. Perhaps at the next meeting of the Women and Democracy Association the brilliance of the Turkish president can enlighten us further.

The natures of men and women are different, too. Right again, Mr. President! And the following shows how true that is and how correct you are.

Who brought us religion? Men.

Who invented prostitution? Men.

Who spent millennia hunting and killing animals? Men.

Who spent millennia hunting and killing each other? Men.

Who invented armies? Men.

Who created historical catastrophes such as genocides? Men.

Who invented, and continue to invent, weapons of mass destruction? Men.

Who dropped the atomic bomb on innocent people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Men.

Who destroyed native populations in Africa and the Americas for profit and power? Men.

Who finance and organize bestial mercenary hordes to murder, rape and plunder? Men.

Who cannot produce children? Men.

Who are condemned to extinction because of their characters, habits, physiques and natures? Men.

Indeed, there is nothing like a man.

James C. Ryan

Istanbul

November 26, 2014

http://www.brighteningglance.org/index.html

Former Mossad chief: For the first time, I fear for the future of Zionism

The nation of Israel is galloping blindly toward Bar Kochba’s war on the Roman Empire. The result of that conflict was 2,000 years of exile.

By Shabtai Shavit

Menachem Begin before an image of David Ben-Gurion
Menachem Begin before an image of David Ben-Gurion

From the beginning of Zionism in the late 19th century, the Jewish nation in the Land of Israel has been growing stronger in terms of demography and territory, despite the ongoing conflict with the Palestinians. We have succeeded in doing so because we have acted with wisdom and stratagem rather than engaging in a foolish attempt to convince our foes that we were in the right.

Today, for the first time since I began forming my own opinions, I am truly concerned about the future of the Zionist project. I am concerned about the critical mass of the threats against us on the one hand, and the government’s blindness and political and strategic paralysis on the other. Although the State of Israel is dependent upon the United States, the relationship between the two countries has reached an unprecedented low point. Europe, our biggest market, has grown tired of us and is heading toward imposing sanctions on us. For China, Israel is an attractive high-tech project, and we are selling them our national assets for the sake of profit. Russia is gradually turning against us and supporting and assisting our enemies.

Anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel have reached dimensions unknown since before World War II. Our public diplomacy and public relations have failed dismally, while those of the Palestinians have garnered many important accomplishments in the world. University campuses in the West, particularly in the U.S., are hothouses for the future leadership of their countries. We are losing the fight for support for Israel in the academic world. An increasing number of Jewish students are turning away from Israel. The global BDS movement (boycott, divestment, sanctions) against Israel, which works for Israel’s delegitimization, has grown, and quite a few Jews are members.

In this age of asymmetrical warfare we are not using all our force, and this has a detrimental effect on our deterrent power. The debate over the price of Milky pudding snacks and its centrality in public discourse demonstrate an erosion of the solidarity that is a necessary condition for our continued existence here. Israelis’ rush to acquire a foreign passport, based as it is on the yearning for foreign citizenship, indicates that people’s feeling of security has begun to crack.

I am concerned that for the first time, I am seeing haughtiness and arrogance, together with more than a bit of the messianic thinking that rushes to turn the conflict into a holy war. If this has been, so far, a local political conflict that two small nations have been waging over a small and defined piece of territory, major forces in the religious Zionist movement are foolishly doing everything they can to turn it into the most horrific of wars, in which the entire Muslim world will stand against us.

I also see, to the same extent, detachment and lack of understanding of international processes and their significance for us. This right wing, in its blindness and stupidity, is pushing the nation of Israel into the dishonorable position of “the nation shall dwell alone and not be reckoned among the nations” (Numbers 23:9).

I am concerned because I see history repeating itself. The nation of Israel is galloping blindly in a time tunnel to the age of Bar Kochba and his war on the Roman Empire. The result of that conflict was several centuries of national existence in the Land of Israel followed by 2,000 years of exile.

I am concerned because as I understand matters, exile is truly frightening only to the state’s secular sector, whose world view is located on the political center and left. That is the sane and liberal sector that knows that for it, exile symbolizes the destruction of the Jewish people. The Haredi sector lives in Israel only for reasons of convenience. In terms of territory, Israel and Brooklyn are the same to them; they will continue living as Jews in exile, and wait patiently for the arrival of the Messiah.

The religious Zionist movement, by comparison, believes the Jews are “God’s chosen.” This movement, which sanctifies territory beyond any other value, is prepared to sacrifice everything, even at the price of failure and danger to the Third Commonwealth. If destruction should take place, they will explain it in terms of faith, saying that we failed because “We sinned against God.” Therefore, they will say, it is not the end of the world. We will go into exile, preserve our Judaism and wait patiently for the next opportunity.

I recall Menachem Begin, one of the fathers of the vision of Greater Israel. He fought all his life for the fulfillment of that dream. And then, when the gate opened for peace with Egypt, the greatest of our enemies, he gave up Sinai – Egyptian territory three times larger than Israel’s territory inside the Green Line – for the sake of peace. In other words, some values are more sacred than land. Peace, which is the life and soul of true democracy, is more important than land.

I am concerned that large segments of the nation of Israel have forgotten, or put aside, the original vision of Zionism: to establish a Jewish and democratic state for the Jewish people in the Land of Israel. No borders were defined in that vision, and the current defiant policy is working against it.

What can and ought to be done? We need to create an Archimedean lever that will stop the current deterioration and reverse today’s reality at once. I propose creating that lever by using the Arab League’s proposal from 2002, which was partly created by Saudi Arabia. The government must make a decision that the proposal will be the basis of talks with the moderate Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

The government should do three things as preparation for this announcement:

1) It should define a future negotiating strategy for itself, together with its position on each of the topics included in the Arab League’s proposal.

2) It should open a secret channel of dialogue with the United States to examine the idea, and agree in advance concerning our red lines and about the input that the U.S. will be willing to invest in such a process.

3) It should open a secret American-Israeli channel of dialogue with Saudi Arabia in order to reach agreements with it in advance on the boundaries of the topics that will be raised in the talks and coordinate expectations. Once the secret processes are completed, Israel will announce publicly that it is willing to begin talks on the basis of the Arab League’s document.

I have no doubt that the United States and Saudi Arabia, each for its own reasons, will respond positively to the Israeli initiative, and the initiative will be the lever that leads to a dramatic change in the situation. With all the criticism I have for the Oslo process, it cannot be denied that for the first time in the conflict’s history, immediately after the Oslo Accords were signed, almost every Arab country started talking with us, opened its gates to us and began engaging in unprecedented cooperative ventures in economic and other fields.

Although I am not so naïve as to think that such a process will bring the longed-for peace, I am certain that this kind of process, long and fatiguing as it will be, could yield confidence-building measures at first and, later on, security agreements that both sides in the conflict will be willing to live with. The progress of the talks will, of course, be conditional upon calm in the security sphere, which both sides will be committed to maintaining. It may happen that as things progress, both sides will agree to look into mutual compromises that will promote the idea of coexisting alongside one another. If mutual trust should develop – and the chances of that happening under American and Saudi Arabian auspices are fairly high – it will be possible to begin talks for the conflict’s full resolution as well.

An initiative of this kind requires true and courageous leadership, which is hard to identify at the moment. But if the prime minister should internalize the severity of the mass of threats against us at this time, the folly of the current policy, the fact that this policy’s creators are significant elements in the religious Zionist movement and on the far right, and its devastating results – up to the destruction of the Zionist vision – then perhaps he will find the courage and determination to carry out the proposed action.

I wrote the above statements because I feel that I owe them to my parents, who devoted their lives to the fulfillment of Zionism; to my children, my grandchildren and to the nation of Israel, which I served for decades.

Haaretz, 24.11.14

SOMETHING’S COMING

 

Could be!

Who knows?

There’s something due any day;

I will know right away

Soon as it shows.

It’s only just out of reach,

Down the block, on a beach,

Under a tree.

Stephen SondheimWest Side Story

 

More deadly gas is coming. They’re buying those gas bombs again. 1.5 million more. They must have exhausted the 43 tons they bought from America last year at the height of their Gezi violence. Ten million dollars gone with the fascist wind. And the latest news says that the public-space-destroying Gezi Park shopping-center project is alive and quietly ticking. Those treacherous, revolutionary Gezi Park trees, like Carthage, must be totally destroyed!

And then there are the personal antics of you-know-who. Heisting more of the public’s money, he’s adding thousands more rooms to his royal roost. Painfully aware of his public, he has privatized his own Waffen-SS. It’s an especially loyal bunch, a comforting pious blend of Turkish police, the Gendarmes (easily appropriated from his ever-generous Turkish Army) and his ever-popular scimitar-waving street thugs. They will all emerge on call like mushrooms on a rainy day. Surely the blessings of safety and security will loom over the land forever.

And at last Turkish schoolchildren will be freed from all error and will finally learn the truth about just who discovered America. Oh, happy Turkish day! Perhaps they will learn that God is also a Muslim along with Fidel Castro.

Oh, the pope is coming. He is scheduled to meet and greet the new president at his new, illegal palace. How nice. Thus the pope will also be an accomplice-after-the-fact to a crime. This from a man considered by zillions of Catholics to be infallible in matters of faith and morals. But St Peter’s has such a suitable dome… for a mosque…or better, a shopping center. Let’s make a deal. Let’s have a conversion. So many things are coming…

One more thing is coming—the truth. Can you feel it? It’s just out of reach.

The truth is this. The Turkish people are fed up with the Turkish people. It’s as simple and as complicated as that.

These AKP people came to power—with a lot of help from their American friends in high places—following years of coalitional incompetence and corruption. The people were fed up then, too. And so came Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his friends, the self-proclaimed “pious” people. Surely they would clean up things. They sold everything leveraging it into a self-proclaimed “economic miracle.” Then came their true colors—repression, fascism and more corruption, all in the name of piety.

But as Cassius said to Brutus, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves.” And that’s why the Turkish people are fed up, particularly Turkish young people.

Turkey is the youngest country in Europe. 17% of its population is in the 18-24 age group. With a median age of 29.6 years, Turkey is far younger than the U.K. (40.4), France (40.9) and Germany (46.1). More importantly, half of Turkey’s eligible voters are in the 19-35 age group. And that means 26 million “young” voters! And this is why Turkish young people SHOULD be fed up.

They have virtually no political representation, particularly in the fossilized opposition parties. CHP, Turkey’s oldest political party dating from 1923, has only six members of parliament under the age of 40. While the average age of party members is 46.9 years, the average age of its parliamentarians is almost a decade more, 55.5 years. How political parties can ignore half of the voter base is a great mystery and a great shame. And a great tragedy for Turkish young people.

In the twisting and turnings and whims and whines of the opposition parties they have today maneuvered themselves into near irrelevance. The bizarre joint presidential candidacy of a 71-year-old Islamist no one knew named Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu may have been their final curtain. Predictably trounced by Erdoğan at the polls, almost as many voters stayed away (15.4 million) as voted for Ekmeleddin (15.6 million). And for those that did vote for him, how many held their noses and voted out of fast-fading party loyalty? The entire affair was unseemly and CHP continues to struggle with the implications.

Herein resides, in part, the disenfranchised voter base. There are others, women, for example. Workers, for another. Something’s coming. Not surprisingly, recent surveys suggest a large “undecided” category, as high as 25%. Something’s coming.

Turkish youth have seen what the political process has delivered for them. While they filled the streets in protest at Gezi Park, the opposition parties mostly dawdled. When America sold the AKP more tear gas bombs to bomb the kids, the opposition parties mostly watched. And when the opposition parties chose a 71-year-old unknown as a presidential candidate to face the ferocious Erdoğan, well, you know the rest.

This is why the young people are on the move and coming. Not only are they the soldiers of Mustafa Kemal, they are his youth, Atatürk-youth. Like him, unbounded by age, open-minded and open-hearted, holding real opinions and ideals worth fighting for. Falling in love with truth, with science and the modern way, living honorably with care and sensitivity. Upholding the law and defending the human right to live freely. In short, living as a true Turk, a modern Atatürk Turk.

There is also new political party coming, the Anatolia Party (Anadolu Partisi). A party of enlightenment, like the sun rising in its logo. A party for an anti-imperialist, sovereign nation, secular and tolerant, honest and hopeful. A party for Turkish youth of all ages.

Half the voters in Turkey are young people, 26 million of them. Let it begin with them.

James (Cem) Ryan

Istanbul

24 November 2014

http://www.brighteningglance.org/index.html