- Geoffrey Paul
Mar 23, 2009
Shurat HaDin, the Israel Law Centre, is a Tel-Aviv based lawyers' organisation that utilises legal proceedings and lawsuits around the world to fight international terrorism, its leaders and their financial patrons on behalf of terror victims. It declares itself fully independent and not affiliated with any political party or organisations. I have no reason to doubt it does good work and it is probably a sustainable argument that, in the murky world where it operates, good taste is not a criterion.
But I must say that I find its notice to members – mainly American from the context - of “The Ultimate Mission to Israel” in June is, well, if not injudicious then in bad taste beyond the bizarre. For a large roll of dollars, it offers not only five-star, glatt kosher accommodation at the Sheraton Plaza, Jerusalem, where there will be a “dedicated Executive Communications Center,” but also (I have curtailed the list but use their own terminology):
*Inside tour of the Israel Air Force unit wbo (sic) carries out targeted killings.
*Live exhibition of penetration raids in Arab territory.
*Observe a trial of Hamas terrorists in an IDF military court.
*First hand tours of the Lebanese front line positions and the Gaza border check-points.
*Inside tour of the controversial Security Fence and secret intelligence bases.
*Meeting Israel's Arab agents who infiltrate the terrorist groups and provide real-time intelligence.
- Geoffrey Paul
Mar 19, 2009
Here's something with which to cheer your children: Jewish, Muslim, and Christian fundamentalists will gain significant ground against their liberal and secular counterparts by 2050, even surpassing them in some cases. This is the view of Eric Kaufmann, a fellow of the Belfer Centre which is part of the J F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
The increase in the size of a religion's fundamentalist population can change the local and even national politics of a country, according to Kaufmann, and demographic change can threaten a state's security because it produces a larger pool of potential religious militants. Kaufmann suggested that while most fundamentalists are not militant, all militants are fundamentalists.
While the overall total fertility rate (TFR) is on the decline, the TFR among those on the more religious end of the spectrum remains well above replacement. American Jews have a very low TFR of 1.43, but within this group, ultra-Orthodox Jews (Haredim) stand out as exceptionally fertile: they increased their share of American Jewry from 7.2 to 9.4 percent during 2000–2006 alone. In Israel, the Haredim had a TFR of 7.61 in 1996 while other Israeli Jews' TFR stood at just 2.27. This will enable the Haredi to form a majority soon after 2050. Kaufmann hypothetically asked a lecture audience he addressed to consider the impact this could have on the peace process since the orthodox and Haredim are particularly attached to Jerusalem — where they are a majority — and to the holy places and "promised" land of the West Bank.
This week has seen the start of the “Jerusalem Peacemakers’ Tour”, which intends to hold talks on eight different campuses, asking: “Is peace possible after Gaza?” The discussions are led by Eliyahu McLean and Sheikh Abdul Aziz Bukhari, co-directors of the Jerusalem Peacemakers. The tour was run by Campusalam, the university-targeted branch of the Lokahi Foundation, an NGO whose aims are to “develop a more diverse, harmonious society; provide a balanced and broad range of information on Islamic history, practices and teachings” and “to allow principled, constructive and critical debate on issues which can be contentious to raise and difficult to openly discuss”.
UJS held a party in celebration of Tel Aviv’s 100th anniversary this week. The event, held in Birmingham’s Custard Factory nightclub, was attended by hundreds of Jewish students, making it the largest Jewish student event this year. The klezmer band Ghetto Plotz played alongside renowned DJs the Scratch Perverts, with live acts from acrobats and break-dancers.
King’s College Student Union escaped a take-over bid by anti-Israel campaigners at elections for its student board positions last Friday.
A group called “Another King’s is Possible” put forward six candidates who said their candidacy “emerged from the occupation at Strand”, a pro-Palestinian sit-in demonstration on a King’s campus in January, which was repeated in 17 other universities nationwide. Dalia Nelson, outgoing co-chair of umbrella student society London JSocs, says the group would have hijacked the union with anti-Israel campaigns.
“These people were intent on causing disruption. Had they got in, we would have been subjected to a constant barrage of anti-Israel protest on an almost daily basis.”
Dan Matalon of Bournemouth University was the only Jewish student to be running this year for the post of president of his students’ union. Mr Matalon has held the positions this year of JSoc president and executive officer of the union, but was unsuccessful in his campaign, gaining only 370 votes (23 per cent), 223 votes behind his nearest rival.
Last week, former Fatah leader Hussam Khader was removed from SOAS’s “‘Israeli Apartheid Week” bill, having been refused permission to travel by Israel. Khader was arrested in 2003 and convicted of being a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the armed wing of the Fatah movement that played a key role in the second intifada, and for helping fund the group through connections to Hizbollah and Iran.
Jeneration, the student branch of the Movement for Reform Judaism, has appointed a second campus fieldworker. Dan Rickman has joined Sheldon Mordsley to work on various university campuses across the country. Mr Rickman commented: “I know the importance of having a good time at university, but I have also learnt that it is a great opportunity to start asking key questions about life and really explore who you are and who you want to become.”
The top two students in next year’s sabbatical team at the University of London Union (ULU) have both recently been actively involved in anti-Israel campaigning. ULU, which includes London campuses such as University College, LSE, King’s College and Queen Mary’s College, this week elected Nizam Uddin as next year’s president. Currently the co-president of the School of Oriental and African Studies’ (SOAS) Students’ Union, Uddin called his university’s “Tel Aviv 100” lecture series “embarrassing”.
- Geoffrey Paul
Mar 8, 2009
Gallup has completed the first ever nationally representative in-depth analysis of how American Muslims see themselves and their status in the US. What Gallup has not been able to do is establish just how many Muslims there are in the States. Estimates vary widely from 1.2 million to as many as 8 million. What Gallup did discover is that 35 per cent of the Muslim population is Afro-American, 28 per cent describe themselves as “white” and 18 per cent say they are of Asian origin. The Gallup researchers placed Muslim responses to their queries alongside those of other major religious denominations. The result is that we have some interesting comparisons with the Jewish community (estimated 5.3 million). For one thing, the percentage of young Muslims aged between 18 and 29 is 36 per cent of the sample surveyed. This is much larger than Jews in the same age bracket – 16 per cent. Of the Muslims in that age range, 41 per cent said they went to the mosque at least once a week. Young Jews who went to synagogue were less than one half of that, 19 per cent.. In a question which covered all age ranges, 80 per cent of Muslims and 39 per cent of Jews said that religion was important in their daily life (which placed Jews well below the national average of 65 per cent). Jews in total were also well below both the Muslim and national average of those attending a place of prayer at least once a week. Overall, 40 per cent of Muslims said they had a college degree or higher. For Jews, that figure was 61 per cent, while Muslims earning over $5000 a month totalled 28 per cent. For Jews, the figure was 41 per cent. Asked if they felt they were thriving or struggling, 41 per cent of Muslims said they were thriving, 56 per cent said struggling (Jews 56 per cent and 41 per cent respectively). The same percentage in both groups – 3 – said they were “suffering.” Both were more charitable (70 per cent and 78 per cent} than the national average of 64 per cent but when it came to political outlook only 29 per cent of Muslims described themselves as liberal or very liberal. The figure for Jews was 45 per cent.
[You can read the whole, very lengthy survey here: http://www.muslimwestfacts.com/mwf/116074/Muslim-Americans-National-Portrait.aspx]