Humanitarian catastrophe in Congo despite cease-fire

October 31, 2008

Despite a cease-fire called yesterday between government troops and Congo’s main rebel group, the Red Cross and news reports indicate humanitarian conditions in eastern Congo may still be worsening.

In an editorial in The Guardian, the paper points out that the 17,000-strong UN force in Congo has the mandate to use lethal force if necessary to protect civilian lives, but has patently failed to do this. In a further editorial in The Financial Times, the paper says that Great Britain and the United States together have influence in Central Africa, to prevent Rwanda crossing Congo’s border and to force it to restrain the rebels there.

As negotiations between rebel and government troops continue in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a guest editorial in HIRAM7 REVIEW written by Congolese journalist Fidel Bafilemba Bienda in September 2007 looked at the social, economic, and security impediments to achieving stability and proposes steps the world community can take to help the situation.

Read full story.

UN Watch Letter in The Jerusalem Post: ‘Mandate & the Man’

October 30, 2008

The following UN Watch letter to the editor was published in today’s edition of The Jerusalem Post.

Mandate & the Man


The latest condemnation of Israel by Richard Falk, the UN Human Rights Council’s “Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Palestinian territories occupied since 1967,” requires some context (“UN: Israel violated Geneva Conventions,” October 25, 2008).

First, Falk’s UN title is deliberately deceptive. The actual terms of his mandate do not address the overall “situation of human rights” in the area concerned. Rather, the Arab-controlled council decided in 1993 to investigate only “Israel’s violations of the principles and bases of international law.” That means Hamas brutality against Israelis and Palestinians alike is entirely excluded.

Falk’s is the only UN mandate that is inherently one-sided, presumptive of guilt and immune from regular review. What kind of person would accept such a biased mandate?

One with the moral compass to argue, as Falk did in 2002, that suicide bombings were the “only means still available by which to inflict sufficient harm on Israel so that the (Palestinian) struggle could go on.” One with the political judgment to write, in a 1979 New York Times op-ed, that Ayatollah Khomeini’s revolution “may yet provide us with a desperately-needed model of humane governance for a third-world country.” One with the good sense to support – as Falk has done openly and repeatedly – conspiracy theories about the September 11, 2001 attacks.

In March 2008, he told a radio interviewer that there are “a lot of grounds for suspicion” that the attacks were an inside job. In June, he called for an investigation into whether “some sort of controlled explosion from within” destroyed the Twin Towers. Finally, Falk praised “the patience, the fortitude, the courage, and the intelligence” of conspiracy theorist David Ray Griffin, to whose 2006 book, 9/11 and the American Empire: Intellectuals Speak Out, Falk contributed a chapter.

How tragic that in the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN’s representative figures have gone from luminaries like René Cassin and Eleanor Roosevelt to loonies like Richard Falk.

Executive Director, UN Watch

Copyright 2008, The Jerusalem Post

Colombia Fires 27 Army Officers

October 30, 2008

The Colombian defense ministry fired twenty-seven army officers, including three generals.

They are accused in the killing of a dozen youths later falsely identified as guerrillas slain in combat, The Miami Herald reports.

The International Herald Tribune reports the killings cast new doubt on Colombia’s war against leftist rebels.

Als die Russen kamen

October 29, 2008

In einem Essay erschienen in der Berliner Zeitung demontiert der Historiker Bert Hoppe die Legende (insbesondere durch den mit Ressentiments beladenen Spielfilm Anonyma – Eine Frau in Berlin kolportiert worden) wonach es eine Systematik hinter den Massenvergewaltigungen durch sowjetische Soldaten nach dem Krieg gab:

“Derartigen Hinweisen waren schon die deutschen militärischen Aufklärungsstellen nachgegangen – und hatten keine Belege dafür finden können. Eine Befragung von 45 gefangenen Rotarmisten durch die Gefangenensammelstelle des Armeeoberkommandos 9 ergab im Februar 1945 vielmehr ein für die Wehrmacht überraschendes Bild: ‘Die Aussagen deuten ohne Ausnahme darauf hin, dass strenge Befehle der Oberen Führung der Roten Armee vorliegen, die Zivilbevölkerung schonend zu behandeln, insbesondere den Besitz nicht geflohener Einwohner nicht anzutasten.’ Die Realität sah anders aus – die These freilich, die sowjetische Führung hätte die Gewalt unterbinden können, hätte sie nur den Willen gehabt, lässt sich nicht halten.”

Zum Artikel.

The Anti-Jewish Phenomenon: A Historical Torah Analysis

October 28, 2008
In Response to Increasing Anti-Semitism
Feldheim Publishers presents

What is the historical significance of hatred towards the Jewish nation? Why have Jews been the target of such great dislike? Can anti-Semitism be explained by logic and reason? In his new book The Anti-Jewish Phenomenon: A Historical Torah Analysis, Rabbi Dr. Benzion Allswang gives clear answers to these and many more perplexing questions.

Using both traditional and non-traditional sources, The Anti-Jewish Phenomenon explores the peculiar recurring history of hostility towards Jews. It emphasizes key factors of the process that most historians and social scientists ignore or overlook.

In his seventeen chapters of careful research and analysis, the author demonstrates the means for combating modern anti-Semitism and shows that clear and optimistic answers do, in fact, exist. Through thorough historical and scientific investigation, he demonstrates that by a return to Jewish tradition, true security, prosperity and the promise of extended peace can, in reality, be achieved.

A crucial instrument for our time, The Anti-Jewish Phenomenon is a classic source every Jew should be familiar with. It is an essential voice for the student of Jewish history, anti-Semitism, and Judaism in general, and promises to be an exciting and unique educational experience.

Click here to order the book.

United States presidential election, 2008: Whoever Wins, the Democrats Will Rule

October 28, 2008

With just one week to go before the U.S. presidential election, politics dominates the news cycle today, but after November 4, major economic and social questions will return on the top of the agenda, and Americans will await the transition to a new administration with interest.

There will still be much work for the new President and the Congress to do in dealing with the financial crisis, as well as wrapping up the budget process for the next fiscal year, and the new administration will confront a broad range of daunting policy challenges.

In an op-ed in The Daily Telegraph, columnist Anne Applebaum wrote on likely Democratic gains in the House and Senate.

“Not only would higher numbers give the Democrats the ability to pass legislation without fear of a Republican filibuster in the Senate, a two-thirds majority in both the House and the Senate would give the Democrats the ability to override a presidential veto if they so wished. Indeed, a technical two-thirds majority isn’t even necessary, as long as there are enough centrist Republicans to throw in to the mix.”

Read full story.

Iceland’s Financial Collapse

October 28, 2008

Iceland raised its benchmark interest rate from 12 percent to 18 percent as the country sought to stave off financial collapse.

The prime minister said another $4 billion in loans would be necessary to stabilize Iceland’s banks. The IMF has already granted Iceland a $2 billion loan, and several of the country’s banks have received money from Russia. The Financial Times reports IMF funding could soon run short, given the needs of many different nations.