A Libyan Jewish man who fled the nation with his parents decades ago has become a celebrity in recent days for his quest to restore Tripoli’s main synagogue. But shortly after 56-year-old David Gerbi took a sledgehammer to the wall blocking the entrance, armed men threatened his life and forced him to abandon the project — for now.
Gerbi said he had obtained permission from members of the ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) and a local leader to start fixing up the Dar al-Bishi synagogue, which was shut down and sealed off under the Gadhafi regime following a wave of anti-Semitic persecution in the late 60s. Most of the other synagogues in Libya were destroyed or turned into mosques as Jewish property was confiscated and Jews were expelled.
But Gerbi was hoping the rebellion would be a new start — that the exiled Jews could return to Libya if they chose to. He called the reconstruction effort a “test” of the new regime’s tolerance.
“I have read that Americans are peace-loving,” 58-year-old Pakistani writer Syed Zubair Ashraf told the Washington Post. “But their government has interfered in every country. Why?”
That is an excellent question, and one to which Americans ought to give serious consideration, especially as a presidential election approaches. Few Americans would consider themselves warlike. Who among us would choose to drop bombs on a foreign country at his own expense and risk? Yet the U.S. government, claiming to represent the American people, does so routinely — and then blames the inevitable retaliation on foreigners’ hatred of the United States’ liberty, not its government’s foreign policy.
Such “blowback” (as the Central Intelligence Agency, which isn’t so foolish as to believe government propaganda, calls it) may soon be coming from Pakistan. The Post reports that Pakistanis, fed up with U.S. policy and the suicide attacks arising in response to it, have come to “view the United States … as an enemy.” They have good reason to come to that conclusion, says the paper: “Since 2001, when Islamabad partnered with Washington to combat the Taliban and al-Qaeda, there have been 335 suicide bombings in Pakistan. Before 2001, there was one.”
The government of Pakistan, which receives billions in U.S. government aid each year, is using its intelligence services to support attacks on American military and diplomatic personnel in Afghanistan, top U.S. officials said last week in the most direct accusations to date. Pakistani authorities denied the charges. For years, American military and intelligence officials have claimed the Pakistani spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was directly supporting various terror groups with money, weapons, information, and more. On September 22, however, top commanders told Congress that the links were undeniable. Some analysts even said Pakistan’s behavior came perilously close to an act of war.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced recently that the Palestinian Authority intended to seek official recognition of statehood by the United Nations. The UN Security Council president announced Monday that the council would meet today to begin formal consideration of the Palestinian request for membership in the world body.
Predictably, the United States has announced that it would veto any Security Council resolution accepting Palestine’s application for recognition. The exercise of the veto would prevent the proposal from being placed before the 193-member General Assembly for the needed two-thirds vote. A yes-no vote in the Security Council is not expected to occur for some time, perhaps a month.
If the United States and Israel are successful in thwarting the Palestinian plan to gain full membership in the United Nations, the Palestinian Authority will likely recur to the General Assembly, where the possibility of a veto is obviated and there remain a few less desirable, though more likely, alternatives to official recognition of statehood.
Presidents Bush and Obama have created a vigorous public debate since the September 11 attacks over whether suspects in the “war on terror” are entitled to a regular criminal trial, court-martial (the regular military justice system), or a “military commission” trial, or whether they are entitled to a trial at all. A “military commission” is traditionally an executive branch (or Article II) court, created to try war criminals in a time and place where there are no criminal or ordinary military courts to try suspects. But Congress has explicitly authorized them twice since the September 11 attacks.
Bush’s and Obama’s actions since 2001 raise a number of fundamental constitutional questions: Can the President — as Bush tried to do — detain an American citizen indefinitely without trial? Can the President — as Obama claims — kill American citizens without trial? Are Bush’s and Obama’s efforts to detain foreigners indefinitely without trial constitutional? When, if ever, is a “military commission” constitutional? Can U.S. citizens be subject to a military commission? How about foreigners? Do the Bush/Obama military commissions follow the Constitution? And finally, putting aside constitutional principles, are military commissions more effective on a practical level in punishing suspected terrorists? The following are 11 constitutional principles about the trial rights of Americans and foreigners during the “war on terror.”
It became official three days ago. The military ended its ban on homosexuals serving “openly,” meaning members of the armed forces may speak openly about what Lord Alfred Douglas referred to as the "Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name."
Homosexuals have now conquered the target-rich environment the military is for them, and the Marines, the most macho and gung-ho of the services, seem to have taken the mission to integrate homosexuals as seriously as the landing at Peleliu in 1944.
Marine recruiters, the New York Times reported, landed at a “gay community center” seeking recruits. In Tulsa, Oklahoma (home of Oral Roberts University), of all places.
The Times reported that the Marine foray into foreign territory is the Devil-Dog way of trying to be best at something:
Howard Phillips, Chairman of Conservative Caucus, discusses the proper role of our government and our armed forces in this interview with William F. Jasper, Senior Editor for The New American magazine, at LPAC 2011 in Reno.
Item: The New York Times for August 26 reported that Chinese defense officials had “denounced” a Pentagon “report that called China’s military buildup ‘potentially destabilizing.’” The paper cited a Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman saying, “The report does not hold water as it severely distorted the facts.” The spokesman added: “China unswervingly adheres to the path of peaceful development, and its national defense policy is defensive in nature.”
Correction: Peace, as it is understood by dedicated communists, is the absence of resistance to communism. Tibetans, among others, have experienced firsthand the nature of the type of “peace” imposed by Communist China and its People’s Liberation Army (PLA) — with estimates of those killed in Tibet ranging from 600,000 to twice that number.
As noted by Jean-Louis Margolin in The Black Book on Communism (edited by Stéphane Courtois, et al., Harvard University Press, 1999), the “litany of atrocities” in Tibet “is hair-raising and in many cases unverifiable. But the eyewitness reports concur so precisely that the Dalai Lama’s assessment of this period [in the late 1950s] seems beyond challenge: ‘Tibetans not only were shot, but also were beaten to death, crucified, burned alive, drowned, mutilated, starved, strangled, hanged, boiled alive, buried alive, drawn and quartered, and beheaded.’”