Thursday, March 31, 2016

In the Wake of the Brussels Terror Attacks, Jewish Volunteer Calls Belgian Government Crisis Center and Gets (Surprise!) an Operator Named "Zakaria" Who Tells Him that Israel Doesn't Exist and that the Jews Are Occupiers of Palestine

"How can I help you, you filthy Jew?"

This sort of thing is not really surprising. The overall Muslim population of Belgium is 5% to 7%, though it is higher in most major cities, constituting 20% and 25% of Antwerp and Brussels, respectively. Despite what you might hear from Islamophobes like me, some Muslims have "assimilated" or at least they have assimilated in so far as they hold down actual jobs in the mainstream economy (such as working in the IPG Belgium Call Center featured in this story).

Now we can add the polite and helpful but politically opinionated call center operator to the gallery of harmless everyday Muslims--the handsome academic, the nice veiled woman, the pleasant baker--featured in Charlie Hebdo's "How the hell did I end up here?"   

Via Elder of Ziyon from Joods Actueel, translated by The New Antisemite:
At least two Israelis were injured in the terror attacks in Brussels. Israel would like to fly them home and so in order to release them from the hospital, a Jewish volunteer called up the Crisis Center set up by the Ministry for Internal Affairs to ask about the procedure. 
He was told that the Israeli victims could not be sent back to Israel, they can only be sent back to Palestine. The family of the victim is shocked and says that "It's just like Iran here". 
This is not the first time an emergency responder decides a Jewish medical emergency is a good reason to preach for Palestine. During the Gaza war, a doctor refused to treat a 90 year old Jewish woman, and suggested to "send her to Gaza for a few hours"
Here is the recorded conversation in Flemish, followed by a translated transcription:

Contact with the Crisis Centre of the Ministry of Internal Affairs 
Wednesday March 30th around 17:00 
XXX: Good afternoon, my name is XXX, I am a volunteer in the Jewish coordination committee of Antwerp. We are contacted by persons… we have 2 persons of the Jewish community that were hurt in the attacks in the airport 
Crisis Centre: Yes sir 
XXX: They are prepared to be transported back to Israel. Our volunteers are busy with it and take care of everything but we received information from the hospital that we need special papers from the police that they can be released. Is this correct and to who should we ask that? Can you tell me more about that? 
CC: That is effectively.. I will take a look. So … they go back to Palestine. 
XXX: Not Palestine, Israel. 
CC: Yes, but that was before Palestine, of course. OK 
XXX: Could you repeat that again, please? What is the name? 
CC: That … Palestine. 
XXX: Can I get your name, please? 
CC: Of course, Zakaria. 
XXX: And you know only Palestine? 
CC: Sorry? 
XXX: You don’t know Israel, only Palestine? 
CC: I know the Jews went to there, that Palestine received (opvangen) them and that there is a war between Israel and Palestine, of course. And the occupation… that’s what's on the news of course. 
XXX: Can you help me with the question I have, or not? 
CC: Naturally, of course. Thus they go back to Palestine and ask that they could get an attestation. Voila, it is noted. 
XXX: Can I have you name again, I didn’t understand it well. 
CC: Zakaria 
XXX: Zakaria? 
CC: That is correct. 
XXX: Zakaria what? What is your last name? 
CC: I am not obliged to give it. 
XXX; Thank you very much. 
CC: You're welcome. Bye
EoZ adds this from The Jewish Telegraphic Agency:
Michael Freilich, the editor-in-chief of Joods Actueel, said it “defies imagination” that a Belgian state employee would display the anti-Israel behavior that is commonplace in Arab countries. He also called for punishing the operator instead of issuing the “standard apology.” 
The recording’s release follows at least four recorded cases in which people who either spoke Arabic or wore Muslim traditional garb, destroyed, concealed or removed Israeli flags at an impromptu memorial space set up for the attacks’victims at Place de la Bourse in Brussels. It features many flags, including of Arab countries and the Palestinian Authority.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Charlie Hebdo: "How the Hell Did I End Up Here?"

Charlie Hebdo on the Brussels attacks

Almost a year ago we reported that Charlie Hebdo announced that it would no longer draw cartoons of Muhammad. There has been much internal disagreement at the magazine about its direction following the horrific Muslim terror attack of January 7, 2015  and the resulting huge inflow of monies from donations, grants and increased sales.

The current state of he magazine is a topic for another post. But I want to reprint the lead editorial from the first edition to come out after the recent Brussels attacks. It's a rejection of the notion that the problem Europe faces is merely "extremism" or even "Islamic extremism." Instead, to quote the piece, we must ask the deeper question, "how the hell did we end up here?"

Some of you may be annoyed at the way the question is perhaps partially presented at the end, as secularism (good) versus religion (bad). It's a bunch of grumpy French atheists. What do you expect? But the larger points--about "moderate" Muslims, the obligations to think and speak, and what happens when we give those up so as not to offend or worse, out of fear--are spot on. And the piece frames it brilliantly: That harmless academic, that nice veiled woman, that pleasant baker--surely they are not my enemies? Surely it must be wrong to do or say anything that labels or stigmatizes or blames themHow the hell did we end up here, indeed.

A note on the cover. It features Stromae, a "multi-cultural" Belgian rap singer, whose biggest recent hit was “Papaoutai” (Papa, where are you?). Against a Belgian flag, multiple flying body parts declare "Here I am!" Is that sick? Of course. So was Paris, Brussels and Cologne. 


Par Charlie Hebdo - 30/03/2016  
For a week now, experts of all kinds have been trying to understand the reasons for the attacks in Brussels. An incompetent police force? Unbridled multiculturalism? Youth unemployment? Uninhibited Islamism? The causes are numerous beyond counting and everyone will naturally choose the one that suits best their own convictions. Law and Order fans will denounce the haplessness of the police. Xenophobes will blame immigration. Sociologists will rehash the evils of colonialism. Urban-planners will point to the evils of ghettoisation. Take your pick. 
In reality, the attacks are merely the visible part of a very large iceberg indeed. They are the last phase of a process of cowing and silencing long in motion and on the widest possible scale. Our noses are endlessly rubbed in the rubble of Brussels airport and in the flickering candles amongst the bouquets of flowers on the pavements. All the while, no one notices what's going on in Saint-German-en-Laye. Last week, Sciences-Po* welcomed Tariq Ramadan. He's a teacher, so it's not inappropriate. He came to speak of his specialist subject, Islam, which is also his religion. Rather like lecture by a Professor of Pies who is also a pie-maker. Thus judge and contestant both. 
No matter, Tariq Ramadan has done nothing wrong. He will never do anything wrong. He lectures about Islam, he writes about Islam, he broadcasts about Islam. He puts himself forward as a man of dialogue, someone open to a debate. A debate about secularism which, according to him, needs to adapt itself to the new place taken by religion in Western democracy. A secularism and a democracy which must also accept those traditions imported by minority communities. Nothing bad in that. Tariq Ramadan is never going to grab a Kalashnikov with which to shoot journalists at an editorial meeting. Nor will he ever cook up a bomb to be used in an airport concourse. Others will be doing all that kind of stuff. It will not be his role. His task, under cover of debate, is to dissuade people from criticising his religion in any way. The political science students who listened to him last week will, once they have become journalists or local officials, not even dare to write nor say anything negative about Islam. The little dent in their secularism made that day will bear fruit in a fear of criticising lest they appear Islamophobic. That is Tariq Ramadan's task. 
Take this veiled woman. She is an admirable woman. She is courageous and dignified, devoted to her family and her children. Why bother her? She harms no one. Even those women who wear the total, all-encompassing veil do not generally use their clothing to hide bombs (as certain people were claiming when the law to ban the burqa was being discussed). They too will do nothing wrong. So why go on whining about the wearing of the veil and pointing the finger of blame at these women? We should shut up, look elsewhere and move past all the street-insults and rumpus. The role of these women, even if they are unaware of it, does not go beyond this. 
The visible part of a very big iceberg. 
Take the local baker, who has just bought the nearby bakery and replaced the old, recently-retired guy, he makes good croissants. He's likeable and always has a ready smile for all his customers. He's completely integrated into the neighbourhood already. Neither his long beard nor the little prayer-bruise on his forehead (indicative of his great piety) bother his clientele. They are too busy lapping up his lunchtime sandwiches. Those he sells are fabulous, though from now on there's no more ham nor bacon. Which is no big deal because there are plenty of other options on offer - tuna, chicken and all the trimmings. So, it would be silly to grumble or kick up a fuss in that much-loved boulangerie. We'll get used to it easily enough. As Tariq Ramadan helpfully instructs us, we'll adapt. And thus the baker's role is done. 
Take this young delinquent. He has never looked at the Quran in his life, he knows little of the history of religion, of colonialism, nor a great deal about the proud country of his Maghreb forefathers. This lad and a couple of his buddies order a taxi. They are not erudite like Tariq Ramadan, they don't pray as often as the local baker and are not as observant as the redoubtable veiled mothers on the street. The taxi heads for Brussels airport. And still, in this precise moment, no one has done anything wrong. Not Tariq Ramadan, nor the ladies in burqas, not the baker and not even these idle young scamps. 
And yet, none of what is about to happen in the airport or metro of Brussels can really happen without everyone's contribution. Because the incidence of all of it is informed by some version of the same dread or fear. The fear of contradiction or objection. The aversion to causing controversy. The dread of being treated as an Islamophobe or being called racist. Really, a kind of terror. And that thing which is just about to happen when the taxi-ride ends is but a last step in a journey of rising anxiety. It's not easy to get some proper terrorism going without a preceding atmosphere of mute and general apprehension. 
These young terrorists have no need to amass the talents of others, to be erudite, dignified or hard-working. Their role is simply to provide the end of a philosophical line already begun. A line which tells us "Hold your tongues, living or dead. Give up discussing, debating, contradicting or contesting". 
This is not to victimise Islam particularly. For it has no opponent. It is not Christianity, Hinduism nor Judaism that is balked by the imposition of this silence. It is the opponent (and protector) of them all. It is the very notion of the secular. It is secularism which is being forced into retreat. 
Above all, in a sense, this stops us asking perhaps the world's oldest and most important question - "How the hell did I end up here?". "How the hell did I end up having to wander the streets all day with a big veil on my head?" "How the hell did I end up having to say prayers five times a day?" " How the hell did I end up in the back of a taxi with three rucksacks packed with explosives?" Perhaps, very sadly, the only people who are still asking themselves that most important of questions are the unlucky victims. "How the hell did I end up here, six yards away from that big bomb?" 
The first task of the guilty is to blame the innocent. It's an almost perfect inversion of culpability. From the bakery that forbids you to eat what you like, to the woman who forbids you to admit that you are troubled by her veil, we are submerged in guilt for permitting ourselves such thoughts. And that is where and when fear has started its sapping, undermining work. And the way is marked for all that will follow. 
* Sciences Po is an elite French public research and higher education institution.

Monday, March 28, 2016

There is NO Evidence that Fr. Thomas Uzhunnalil was Murdered on Good Friday

Fr. Tom

As most readers know, Fr. Thomas Uzhunnalil (Fr. Tom) was captured by ISIS during the deadly March 4 raid on the Catholic nursing home in Yemen. He is obviously in grave danger and may have been tortured. It's also possible that he is no longer alive.

However, reports over the last few hours that Uzhunnalil was crucified by ISIS on Good Friday (fulfilling an alleged earlier threat to do so) appear to have no basis in fact. They all stem from remarks supposedly made by Cardinal Schönborn at the Easter Vigil at Vienna's St. Stephen Cathedral.

What Cardinal Schönborn actually said is still unclear. But he has since stated that he does not know that the father was murdered and in fact is hopeful that he is still alive.

That the unconfirmed remarks of one source, made in an odd context--an Easter homily--could have been blown up by major publications into a supposedly true announcement about the death of a man, is unfortunate.

Major media sites such as The Drudge Report, The Daily Mail. The Washington Times and many others all had headlines basically reporting that the priest had been crucified. In each it was in fact stated in the text that the claim was merely taken from the remarks of Cardinal Schönborn. (Some referred to reports in Austrian and Polish media but those reports were themselves solely based on those remarks). Some of the articles even cited sources--such as the Archbishop of Bangalore--who disputed or cast doubt on the claim that Uzhunnalil had been killed. However, the headlines contained no such qualifications. And each additional headline seemed to embolden yet another site to run the story--again, almost always with the sensationalist headline. (I should note that in the last few minutes, many of them have added quotation marks to their headlines or added the phrase "says Cardinal Schönborn," etc.)

The above should not be construed as a criticism of any of the bloggers or Catholic sites that ran with or linked to the story. It is after all, part of their job to link to relevant news stories in a timely manner. And at the time it was not unreasonable to assume that there was more evidence for its truth, especially with so many major publications reporting it.

Fr. Tom was kidnapped by ISIS in a horrific attack that killed sixteen people including four Missionaries of Charity. It is very possible that the very worst might happen to the captured priest or even that the very worst already has happened. But there is no evidence yet that it has.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Handball with Twelve Old Women and Other "Peculiar" Easter Customs

Good Friday procession in Jelsa, Croatia. The cross bearer traditionally sprints the final steps. 

These are taken directly from the Catholic Encyclopedia, published in 1907-13, and now transcribed and hosted on the web by New Advent. For those of you who haven't seen or used the Encyclopedia, it is an amazing resource. It is orthodox (as one might assume from the date) but doesn't hesitate to present the range of arguments for still controversial questions--such as whether there could be a pope who was a formal heretic. None other than Hilaire Belloc described the Encyclopedia as "one of the most powerful influences working in favor of the truth."

This quirky discussion covers both orthodox and no so orthodox traditions, from the sacred and spiritually healthy to the bizarre and even perverse. Of course, we wouldn't call Easter eggs or the Easter Rabbit "peculiar." Then again, the world would be a much better place if that leporine entity were summarily shot.    

I like the dry last sentence of the "Handball" section--"All these customs disappeared for obvious reasons."

Have a blessed Holy Saturday! The greatest day of the year is only twelve hours away...      
Peculiar customs of Easter time 
Risus Paschalis 
This strange custom originated in Bavaria in the fifteenth century. The priest inserted in his sermon funny stories which would cause his hearers to laugh, e.g. a description of how the devil tries to keep the doors of hell locked against the descending Christ. Then the speaker would draw the moral from the story. This Easter laughter, giving rise to grave abuses of the word of God, was prohibited by Clement X (1670-1676) and in the eighteenth century by Maximilian III and the bishops of Bavaria. 
Easter eggs 
Because the use of eggs was forbidden during Lent, they were brought to the table on Easter Day, coloured red to symbolize the Easter joy. This custom is found not only in the Latin but also in the Oriental Churches. The symbolic meaning of a new creation of mankind by Jesus risen from the dead was probably an invention of later times. The custom may have its origin in paganism, for a great many pagan customs, celebrating the return of spring, gravitated to Easter. The egg is the emblem of the germinating life of early spring. Easter eggs, the children are told, come from Rome with the bells which on Thursday go to Rome and return Saturday morning. The sponsors in some countries give Easter eggs to their god-children. Coloured eggs are used by children at Easter in a sort of game which consists in testing the strength of the shells. Both coloured and uncoloured eggs are used in some parts of the United States for this game, known as "egg-picking". Another practice is the "egg-rolling" by children on Easter Monday on the lawn of the White House in Washington. 
The Easter rabbit 
The Easter Rabbit lays the eggs, for which reason they are hidden in a nest or in the garden. The rabbit is a pagan symbol and has always been an emblem of fertility. 
In France handball playing was one of the Easter amusements, found also in Germany. The ball may represent the sun, which is believed to take three leaps in rising on Easter morning. Bishops, priests, and monks, after the strict discipline of Lent, used to play ball during Easter week. This was called libertas Decembrica, because formerly in December, the masters used to play ball with their servants, maids, and shepherds. The ball game was connected with a dance, in which even bishops and abbots took part. At Auxerre, Besançon, etc. the dance was performed in church to the strains of the "Victimae paschali". In England, also, the game of ball was a favourite Easter sport in which the municipal corporation engaged with due parade and dignity. And at Bury St. Edmunds, within recent years, the game was kept up with great spirit by twelve old women. After the game and the dance a banquet was given, during which a homily on the feast was read. All these customs disappeared for obvious reasons. 
Men and women 
On Easter Monday the women had a right to strike their husbands, on Tuesday the men struck their wives, as in December the servants scolded their masters. Husbands and wives did this "ut ostendant sese mutuodebere corrigere, ne illo tempore alter ab altero thori debitum exigat." In the northern parts of England the men parade the streets on Easter Sunday and claim the privilegeof lifting every woman three times from the ground, receiving in payment a kiss or a silver sixpence. The same is done by the women to the men on the next day. In the Neumark (Germany) on Easter Day the menservants whip the maid servants with switches; on Monday the maids whip the men. They secure their release with Easter eggs. These customs are probably of pre-Christian origin. 
The Easter fire 
The Easter Fire is lit on the top of mountains (Easter mountain, Osterberg) and must be kindled from new fire, drawn from wood by friction (nodfyr); this is a custom of pagan origin in vogue all over Europe, signifying the victory of spring over winter. The bishops issued severe edicts against the sacrilegious Easter fires (Conc. Germanicum, a. 742, c.v.; Council of Lestines, a. 743, n. 15), but did not succeed in abolishing them everywhere. The Church adopted the observance into the Easter ceremonies, referring it to the fiery column in the desert and to the Resurrection of Christ; the new fire on Holy Saturday is drawn from flint, symbolizing the Resurrection of the Light of the World from the tomb closed by a stone (Missale Rom.). In some places a figure was thrown into the Easter fire, symbolizing winter, but to the Christians on the Rhine, in Tyrol and Bohemia, Judas the traitor. 
Processions and awakenings 
At Puy in France, from time immemorial to the tenth century, it was customary, when at the first psalm of Matins a canon was absent from the choir, for some of the canons and vicars, taking with them the processional cross and the holy water, to go to the house of the absentee, sing the "Haec Dies", sprinkle him with water, if he was still in bed, and lead him to the church. In punishment he had to give a breakfast to his conductors. A similar custom is found in the fifteenth century at Nantes and Angers, where it was prohibited by the diocesan synods in 1431 and 1448. In some parts of Germany parents and children try to surprise each other in bed on Easter morning to apply the health-giving switches. 
Blessing of food 
In both the Oriental and Latin Churches, it is customary to have those victuals which were prohibited during Lent blessed by the priests before eating them on Easter Day, especially meat, eggs, butter, and cheese. Those who ate before the food was blessed, according to popular belief, were punished by God, sometimes instantaneously. 
House blessings 
On the eve of Easter the homes are blessed (Rit. Rom., tit. 8, c. iv) in memory of the passing of the angel in Egypt and the signing of the door-posts with the blood of the paschal lamb. The parish priest visits the houses of his parish; the papal apartments are also blessed on this day. The room, however, in which the pope is found by the visiting cardinal is blessed by the pontiff himself. 
Sports and celebrations 
The Greeks and Russians after their long, severe Lent make Easter a day of popular sports. At Constantinople the cemetery of Pera is the noisy rendezvous of the Greeks; there are music, dances, and all the pleasures of an Oriental popular resort; the same custom prevails in the cities of Russia. In Russia anyone can enter the belfries on Easter and ring the bells, a privilege of which many persons avail themselves.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

In the Twilight of Our Age, a Baby Girl Cries Over the Dead Body of Her Mother While an Old Man Kisses the Feet of Her Killers

At the Brussels Airport, a toddler cries over a body, believed to be that of her mother.
Warning: Disturbing Content

Video from CNN via The Muslim Issue.

Future historians may or may not refer to him as Pope. But whatever he may later be called or whatever he is now, he is obviously ill, though whether the issue is mental, moral or spiritual or some combination of the three, is not immediately clear.

Only a few minutes after nails from the closely packed bomb of a Muslim suicide commando team tore through that little girl's mother, Jorge Bergoglio took advantage of the horrific murder, in the manner of a desperate American presidential candidate, to condemn "cruel fundamentalism"--the implicit meaning, given earlier remarks, being to blame his Catholic opposition for the sort of thinking that led to the slaughter in Brussels.

Then today, before (in a grotesque parody of the Last Supper) brushing his lips over the feet of three Muslim men, he blamed the terrorist attacks on "arms manufacturers" and "arms traffickers"--a unique claim, as far as I know, and one which any unbiased observer would have to classify as insane.

Anyone following the gossip in Rome knows that Bergoglio is now hated--and feared--by many around him. He has had at least one quasi-private breakdown, denouncing his enemies and ranting that no one had the right to oppose him. On crucial matters he acts virtually alone or in concert with a few cronies including a perverted Argentinian bishop who has become his scribe.

In the manner of demagogues throughout the ages, it is of course the complete opposite of his carefully managed public persona.

Who speaks for that unnamed baby girl, crying alone in the darkness and silence? Where is the Pope's "mercy" for her?

That "mercy" is of course a lie. For Bergoglio it is merely a weapon to hurl against those who obstinately insist on following Christ.

It would be--how to say it?--just?, fitting? for Bergoglio to be "martyred" by members of the same life-hating cult that he has been so enthusiastic in supporting. I'm not calling for that, obviously. But it's becoming steadily more probable.

Would that help to save his soul? Perhaps. But I'd rather that he peacefully saved his own soul--after he is prevented from doing any more harm to the people of our Church and the people of Europe.

Honest bishops should attempt to relieve him of the office that he has so grossly abused.

Of course, many many more people will soon die. Anyone trying to resist that will be labeled "bigots" and "haters" by the mob. We are coming to the end of an age. Whether it will be followed by something even worse or--against all hope--some New Morning, is something we cannot know. 

That little girl may see it.

Fight for her, please.

And for her mother.   

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Who Will Be Our Quint?

"If you want to stay alive, then ante up."

Kathy Shaidle of Five Feet of Fury cites That horrible feeling when you realize the entire Western world is being run by the mayor from ‘Jaws’.

Some have asked, where is our Winston Churchill?

Or, referencing Lepanto, where is our Don John?

Good questions.

But here's another way to put it:

(And guess what will just keep killing until we kill it?)

Who will be our Quint?

Hangin' With the Butcher

Along with Ernesto "Che" Guevara and his brother Fidel, Raul Castro directly participated in the executions of many hundred "enemies of the revolution" (Raul is the one tying the blindfold on) and was also responsible for ordering or signing off on the murders of thousands more. Some were killed without trial. Others were given trials that lasted minutes. Mercifully, some were allowed Last Rites.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A Dreaming Europe Lights Candles, Lays Flowers and Draws Chalk Hearts on the Sidewalk

It's all they know how to do.

There is a spiritual enemy and a human enemy, but they do not see them. Instead they condemn "war" and "hate" and "terror."

"Love is my religion," one wrote.

Children play on a beach, oblivious, as a tidal wave towers above them. 

I can't do Je Suis Bruxelles. I just can't. I probably should take down the Je Suis Charlie emblem as well.

After all, in the end, Charlie surrendered.

BREAKING: At Least 28 Killed in Coordinated Brussels Terror Bombings

Brussels Airport was hit by two blasts

UPDATE (8:05 CST): Fox News is reporting that a third unexploded suicide belt was just found at Brussels Airport, as well as a Kalashnikov rifle.

New photographs from The Daily Mail.

From Tribune News Services of the Chicago Tribune (6:35 CST):
Explosions, at least one likely caused by a suicide bomber, rocked the Brussels airport and subway system Tuesday, prompting a lockdown of the Belgian capital and heightened security across Europe. At least 28 people were reported dead. 
A spokesman for the Brussels Metro said 15 people were killed and 55 injured in an explosion on a train, and Belgian media reported at least 13 dead in two explosions at the airport, with many others injured. 
Belgium raised its terror alert to the highest level, diverting planes and trains and ordering people to stay where they were. Airports across Europe immediately tightened security. 
"We are at war," French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said after a crisis meeting called by the French president. "We have been subjected for the last few months in Europe to acts of war." 
European security officials have been bracing for a major attack for weeks, and warned that the Islamic State group was actively preparing to strike. The arrest Friday of a key suspect in the November attacks in Paris heightened those fears, as investigators said many more people were involved than originally thought, and that some are still on the loose. 
A passenger hides under a checkout desk a few seconds after one of the blasts
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Tuesday's attacks, and Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said there was no immediate evidence linking key Paris suspect Salah Abdeslam to them. After his arrest Friday, 
Abdeslam told authorities he had created a new network and was planning new attacks. 
Belgian media reported that 13 people were killed at the airport, where two explosions splattered blood across the departure lounge and collapsed the ceiling. The explosions hit during the busy morning rush. Smoke was seen billowing out of the terminal. 
Anthony Deloos, an airport worker for Swissport, which handles check-in and baggage services, said the first explosion took place near the Swissport counters where customers pay for overweight baggage. He and a colleague said the second blast hit near the Starbucks cafe. 
"We heard a big explosion. It's like when you're in a party and suddenly your hearing goes out, from like a big noise," Deloos said, adding that shredded paper floated through the air as a colleague told him to run. 
"I jumped into a luggage chute to be safe," he said. 
Tom De Doncker, 21, check-in agent intern, was near the site of the second explosion. 
"I saw a soldier pulling away a body," he said. "It felt like I was hit too" from the concussion of the blast. 
Zach Mouzoun, who arrived on a flight from Geneva about 10 minutes before the first blast, told BFM television that the second, louder explosion brought down ceilings and ruptured pipes, mixing water with victims' blood. 
"It was atrocious. The ceilings collapsed," he said. "There was blood everywhere, injured people, bags everywhere." 
"We were walking in the debris. It was a war scene," he said.  
At least 20 were killed in the subway car bombing
Near the entrance to Brussels' Maelbeek subway station, not far from the headquarters of the European Union, rescue workers set up a makeshift medical treatment center in a pub. Dazed and shocked morning commuters streamed from the metro entrances as police tried to set up a security cordon. 
"The Metro was leaving Maelbeek station for Schuman when there was a really loud explosion," said Alexandre Brans, 32, wiping blood from his face. "It was panic everywhere. There were a lot of people in the Metro." 
Francoise Ledune, a spokeswoman for the Brussels Metro, said on BFM television there appeared to have been just one explosion on the subway in a car that was stopped at Maelbeek. Spokesman Guy Sablon said 15 were killed and 55 injured in that attack. 
At the airport, passengers fled as quickly as they could. 
Amateur video shown on France's i-Tele television showed passengers including a child running with a backpack dashing out of the terminal in different directions as they tugged luggage. Another image showed a security officer patrolling inside a hall with blown-out paneling and what appeared to be ceiling insulation covering the floor. 
A police officer directs passengers out of the smoke-filled terminal
Marc Noel, 63, was about to board a Delta flight to Atlanta, to return to his home in Raleigh, North Carolina. A Belgian native, Noel says he was in an airport shop buying automobile magazines when the first explosion occurred 50 yards away. 
"People were crying, shouting, children. It was a horrible experience," he told AP. He said his decision to shop might have saved his life. "I would probably have been in that place when the bomb went off." 
With three runways in the shape of a "Z," the airport connects Europe's capital to 226 destinations around the world and handled nearly 23.5 million passengers in 2015. 
Passengers were led onto the tarmac and the crisis center urged people not to come to the airport. 
Authorities told people in Brussels to stay where they were, bringing the city to a standstill. Airport security was also tightened in Paris, London and other European cities. 
Survivors of the subway bombing embrace as a victim lies wounded 
In Paris, France's top security official said the country was immediately reinforcing security at airports, train stations and metros. 
The U.S. Embassy recommends American citizens in the Belgian capital shelter in place and avoid all public transportation. 
The Embassy said in a statement that citizens should "take the appropriate steps to bolster your personal security." 
"The U.S. Embassy reminds U.S. citizens that Belgium is at a threat rating of Level 4, or 'serious and imminent attack.' Such events can take place with little or no notice," it said. 
Associated Press, The Washington Post contributed.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Donald Trump Brings Down the House at Pro-Israel AIPAC Conference: Video and Full Transcript

Earlier today, Donald Trump spoke at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) 2016 Policy Conference at the Verizon Center in Washington.

Outside the largely Jewish, pro-Israel event, often violent leftist mobs grotesquely compared Trump to Hitler and hurled antisemitic slurs.

And in the oddly named Google+ group, The Conservative Union, which only on Saturday tut-tutted about "bigotry" towards Mormons, members took the opportunity of Trump's speech to rail against "pandering" to Israel, Zionism and the Jewish vote and then equated the policies of the Jewish State with the violent land-grabs of Mao's China.

Who are the fascists?

It was a great speech. It was also the first pre-written speech of Donald Trump's campaign.

For a man who is often accused (with some justice) of sounding crass and petty, his remarks at the Conference were wise, righteous and presidential.

It is obviously not unreasonable for Republicans and conservatives to support other candidates. But those Republican and conservative Never Trumpers who used the speech simply to take more potshots at the man are the ones who ended up looking small.

Unless one believes that every word Trump utters, including "and," "but" and "if" is just a cynical lie to sell more self-help books or whatever, then if one is pro-Israel, it is impossible to believe that Trump would not be much better for the Jewish State than Obama/Clinton.

Is he perfect on the issue of Israel or Islamic Terrorism? No. Among other things, we're still waiting for him to apologize to Pamella Geller for his unjust remarks about the Draw Muhammad attack in Garland, Texas.

But he's looking better all the time.

Here is the video followed by a transcription from Time Magazine:

Good evening. Thank you very much. 
I speak to you today as a lifelong supporter and true friend of Israel. (CHEERS, APPLAUSE) 
I am a newcomer to politics, but not to backing the Jewish state. 
In 2001, weeks after the attacks on New York City and on Washington and, frankly, the attacks on all of us, attacks that perpetrated and they were perpetrated by the Islamic fundamentalists, Mayor Rudy Giuliani visited Israel to show solidarity with terror victims. 
I sent my plane because I backed the mission for Israel 100 percent. 
In spring of 2004 at the height of the violence in the Gaza Strip, I was the grand marshal of the 40th Salute to Israel Parade, the largest-single gathering in support of the Jewish state. 
It was a very dangerous time for Israel and frankly for anyone supporting Israel. Many people turned down this honor. I did not. I took the risk and I’m glad I did. 
But I didn’t come here tonight to pander to you about Israel. That’s what politicians do: all talk, no action. Believe me. 
I came here to speak to you about where I stand on the future of American relations with our strategic ally, our unbreakable friendship and our cultural brother, the only democracy in the Middle East, the state of Israel. 
Thank you. 
My number-one priority is to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran. 
Thank you. Thank you. 
I have been in business a long time. I know deal-making. And let me tell you, this deal is catastrophic for America, for Israel and for the whole of the Middle East. 
(APPLAUSE) The problem here is fundamental. We’ve rewarded the world’s leading state sponsor of terror with $150 billion, and we received absolutely nothing in return. 
I’ve studied this issue in great detail, I would say actually greater by far than anybody else. 
Believe me. Oh, believe me. And it’s a bad deal. 
The biggest concern with the deal is not necessarily that Iran is going to violate it because already, you know, as you know, it has, the bigger problem is that they can keep the terms and still get the bomb by simply running out the clock. And of course, they’ll keep the billions and billions of dollars that we so stupidly and foolishly gave them. 
The deal doesn’t even require Iran to dismantle its military nuclear capability. Yes, it places limits on its military nuclear program for only a certain number of years, but when those restrictions expire, Iran will have an industrial-sized, military nuclear capability ready to go and with zero provision for delay, no matter how bad Iran’s behavior is. Terrible, terrible situation that we are all placed in and especially Israel. 
When I’m president, I will adopt a strategy that focuses on three things when it comes to Iran. First, we will stand up to Iran’s aggressive push to destabilize and dominate the region. 
Iran is a very big problem and will continue to be. But if I’m not elected president, I know how to deal with trouble. And believe me, that’s why I’m going to be elected president, folks. 
And we are leading in every poll. Remember that, please. 
Iran is a problem in Iraq, a problem in Syria, a problem in Lebanon, a problem in Yemen and will be a very, very major problem for Saudi Arabia. Literally every day, Iran provides more and better weapons to support their puppet states. Hezbollah, Lebanon received — and I’ll tell you what, it has received sophisticated anti-ship weapons, anti-aircraft weapons and GPS systems and rockets like very few people anywhere in the world and certainly very few countries have. Now they’re in Syria trying to establish another front against Israel from the Syrian side of the Golan Heights. 
In Gaza, Iran is supporting Hamas and Islamic jihad. 
And in the West Bank, they’re openly offering Palestinians $7,000 per terror attack and $30,000 for every Palestinian terrorist’s home that’s been destroyed. A deplorable, deplorable situation. 
Iran is financing military forces throughout the Middle East and it’s absolutely incredible that we handed them over $150 billion to do even more toward the many horrible acts of terror. 
Secondly, we will totally dismantle Iran’s global terror network which is big and powerful, but not powerful like us. 
Iran has seeded terror groups all over the world. During the last five years, Iran has perpetuated terror attacks in 25 different countries on five continents. They’ve got terror cells everywhere, including in the Western Hemisphere, very close to home. 
Iran is the biggest sponsor of terrorism around the world. And we will work to dismantle that reach, believe me, believe me. 
Third, at the very least, we must enforce the terms of the previous deal to hold Iran totally accountable. And we will enforce it like you’ve never seen a contract enforced before, folks, believe me. 
Iran has already, since the deal is in place, test-fired ballistic missiles three times. Those ballistic missiles, with a range of 1,250 miles, were designed to intimidate not only Israel, which is only 600 miles away, but also intended to frighten Europe and someday maybe hit even the United States. And we’re not going to let that happen. We’re not letting it happen. And we’re not letting it happen to Israel, believe me. 
Thank you. Thank you. 
Do you want to hear something really shocking? As many of the great people in this room know, painted on those missiles in both Hebrew and Farsi were the words “Israel must be wiped off the face of the earth.” You can forget that. 
What kind of demented minds write that in Hebrew? 
And here’s another. You talk about twisted. Here’s another twisted part. Testing these missiles does not even violate the horrible deal that we’ve made. The deal is silent on test missiles. But those tests do violate the United Nations Security Council resolutions. 
The problem is no one has done anything about it. We will, we will. I promise, we will. 
Thank you. 
Which brings me to my next point, the utter weakness and incompetence of the United Nations. 
The United Nations is not a friend of democracy, it’s not a friend to freedom, it’s not a friend even to the United States of America where, as you know, it has its home. And it surely is not a friend to Israel. 
With President Obama in his final year — yea! 
He may be the worst thing to ever happen to Israel, believe me, believe me. And you know it and you know it better than anybody. 
So with the president in his final year, discussions have been swirling about an attempt to bring a Security Council resolution on terms of an eventual agreement between Israel and Palestine. 
Let me be clear: An agreement imposed by the United Nations would be a total and complete disaster. 
The United States must oppose this resolution and use the power of our veto, which I will use as president 100 percent. 
When people ask why, it’s because that’s not how you make a deal. Deals are made when parties come together, they come to a table and they negotiate. Each side must give up something. It’s values. I mean, we have to do something where there’s value in exchange for something that it requires. That’s what a deal is. A deal is really something that when we impose it on Israel and Palestine, we bring together a group of people that come up with something. 
That’s not going to happen with the United Nations. It will only further, very importantly, it will only further delegitimize Israel. It will be a catastrophe and a disaster for Israel. It’s not going to happen, folks. 
And further, it would reward Palestinian terrorism because every day they’re stabbing Israelis and even Americans. Just last week, American Taylor Allen Force, a West Point grad, phenomenal young person who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was murdered in the street by a knife-wielding Palestinian. You don’t reward behavior like that. You cannot do it. 
There’s only one way you treat that kind of behavior. You have to confront it. 
So it’s not up to the United Nations to really go with a solution. It’s really the parties that must negotiate a resolution themselves. They have no choice. They have to do it themselves or it will never hold up anyway. The United States can be useful as a facilitator of negotiations, but no one should be telling Israel that it must be and really that it must abide by some agreement made by others thousands of miles away that don’t even really know what’s happening to Israel, to anything in the area. It’s so preposterous, we’re not going to let that happen. 
When I’m president, believe me, I will veto any attempt by the U.N. to impose its will on the Jewish state. It will be vetoed 100 percent. 
You see, I know about deal-making. That’s what I do. I wrote “The Art of the Deal.” 
One of the best-selling, all-time — and I mean, seriously, I’m saying one of because I’ll be criticized when I say “the” so I’m going to be very diplomatic — one of… 
I’ll be criticized. I think it is number one, but why take a chance? (LAUGHTER) 
One of the all-time best-selling books about deals and deal- making. To make a great deal, you need two willing participants. We know Israel is willing to deal. Israel has been trying. 
That’s right. Israel has been trying to sit down at the negotiating table without preconditions for years. You had Camp David in 2000 where Prime Minister Barak made an incredible offer, maybe even too generous; Arafat rejected it. 
In 2008, Prime Minister Olmert made an equally generous offer. The Palestinian Authority rejected it also. 
Then John Kerry tried to come up with a framework and Abbas didn’t even respond, not even to the secretary of state of the United States of America. They didn’t even respond. 
When I become president, the days of treating Israel like a second-class citizen will end on day one. 
Thank you. 
And when I say something, I mean it, I mean it. 
I will meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu immediately. I have known him for many years and we’ll be able to work closely together to help bring stability and peace to Israel and to the entire region. 
Meanwhile, every single day you have rampant incitement and children being taught to hate Israel and to hate the Jews. It has to stop. 
When you live in a society where the firefighters are the heroes, little kids want to be firefighters. When you live in a society where athletes and movie stars are the heroes, little kids want to be athletes and movie stars. 
In Palestinian society, the heroes are those who murder Jews. We can’t let this continue. We can’t let this happen any longer. 
You cannot achieve peace if terrorists are treated as martyrs. Glorifying terrorists is a tremendous barrier to peace. It is a horrible, horrible way to think. It’s a barrier that can’t be broken. That will end and it’ll end soon, believe me. 
In Palestinian textbooks and mosques, you’ve got a culture of hatred that has been fomenting there for years. And if we want to achieve peace, they’ve got to go out and they’ve got to start this educational process. They have to end education of hatred. They have to end it and now. 
There is no moral equivalency. Israel does not name public squares after terrorists. Israel does not pay its children to stab random Palestinians.
You see, what President Obama gets wrong about deal-making is that he constantly applies pressure to our friends and rewards our enemies. 
And you see that happening all the time, that pattern practiced by the president and his administration, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is a total disaster, by the way. 
She and President Obama have treated Israel very, very badly. 
But it’s repeated itself over and over again and has done nothing (to) embolden those who hate America. We saw that with releasing the $150 billion to Iran in the hope that they would magically join the world community. It didn’t happen. 
President Obama thinks that applying pressure to Israel will force the issue. But it’s precisely the opposite that happens. Already half of the population of Palestine has been taken over by the Palestinian ISIS and Hamas, and the other half refuses to confront the first half, so it’s a very difficult situation that’s never going to get solved unless you have great leadership right here in the United States. 
We’ll get it solved. One way or the other, we will get it solved. 
But when the United States stands with Israel, the chances of peace really rise and rises exponentially. That’s what will happen when Donald Trump is president of the United States. 
(CHEERS, APPLAUSE) We will move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem. 
And we will send a clear signal that there is no daylight between America and our most reliable ally, the state of Israel. 
The Palestinians must come to the table knowing that the bond between the United States and Israel is absolutely, totally unbreakable. 
They must come to the table willing and able to stop the terror being committed on a daily basis against Israel. They must do that. 
And they must come to the table willing to accept that Israel is a Jewish state and it will forever exist as a Jewish state. 
I love the people in this room. I love Israel. I love Israel. I’ve been with Israel so long in terms of I’ve received some of my greatest honors from Israel, my father before me, incredible. My daughter, Ivanka, is about to have a beautiful Jewish baby. 
In fact, it could be happening right now, which would be very nice as far as I’m concerned. 
So I want to thank you very much. This has been a truly great honor. Thank you, everybody. Thank you. 
Thank you very much.