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The following is my latest piece for Al Jazeera:
In early July, the US Congressional Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence held a hearing entitled “Hezbollah in Latin America – Implications for US Homeland Security“.
The line-up of witnesses consisted of Roger Noriega, visiting fellow at the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute; Douglas Farah, senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center; Ilan Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council and journal editor for the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs; and Brown University professor Dr. Melani Cammett, the only testifier who bothered to provide an accurate history of Hezbollah and to refrain from referring to the Lebanese political party and resistance movement as a terrorist organisation directed by Iran.
Cammett’s co-witnesses more than made up for her dearth of creativity. Given the quality of what is consistently allowed to pass as evidence of the threat posed to the US by the supposed love affair between Iran and leftist Latin American regimes, it is perhaps only surprising that the first three expert-propagandists did not invoke Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s joke in the Oliver Stone documentary “South of the Border” – in reference to a corn-processing facility – that, “This is where we build the Iranian atomic bomb.”
Stripped of its facetious intent, the comment would have proved an able companion to the clique’s existing arsenal of justifications for increased US militarisation of Latin America as well as potential military manoeuvrings against Iran.
Perhaps I am out of the loop, but is it normal in mainstream U.S. media these days to suggest that domestic airport security be outsourced to the Israeli Shin Bet?
At first glance, you might not guess that this is the gist of Caroline Baum’s Nov. 28 Bloomberg article “My Breasts Pass Unchecked by Airport Screeners”, which begins with Baum admitting she was jealous to learn that an Orlando passenger had been subjected to additional airport screening due to the size of her breasts.
Upon learning that this Orlando passenger was not the only one to receive such treatment, Baum excuses “breast stares” from male Transportation Security Administration agents as follows:
What’s so bad about that? There was a time — think Marilyn Monroe — when women encouraged longing looks from the opposite sex with cinched-in waists and cups that runneth over.”
As long as we are reducing female worth to physical appearance, let me go ahead and say that I sympathize with the TSA decision to waive the pat-down in Ms. Baum’s case.
After reviewing additional details such as that “far more graphic material [than that generated by full body scans] is available at a newsstand in most airports”, Baum arrives at the Shin Bet connection:
Could we do smarter security? Of course. We could learn a few things from the Israelis, maybe even outsource airport security to the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security agency, which is charged with protecting El Al, the national airline.
I cannot recall a visit to my friend’s home in Puglia, southern Italy, in which the Muslim invasion of Europe has not surfaced as a discussion topic. It often initiates when one or more of my friend’s relatives discovers that I have just been to Turkey or Lebanon, for example, and remarks on my good fortune as a female to have avoided being stoned to death.
This year’s discussion started out as an innocent rant by my friend’s cousin against the concomitant invasion of Italy by Romanian criminals, who were said to make Albanian immigrants look well-behaved and who along with the euro constituted proof of the heinous nature of the European Union. A comment on the need to backtrack on a Europe without borders then led to the cousin’s observation that fortified Italian frontiers would additionally prevent Muslims from faking qualifications for asylum in order to continue the quest to absorb Italy into an Islamic caliphate. As for faked qualifications, it was now decided that stoning was not overly oppressive.
Earlier this week, the mosque on Nord Street in the Catalonian city of Lleida, an hour and a half from Barcelona, was closed by order of the city council, which cited a violation of the fire code due to the volume of prayer attendees. According to an article in the July 23 edition of the Spanish daily El País, local imam Abdelwahab Houzi denounced the closure as political:
Houzi, who denies being a salafist, one of the most radical currents in Islam [sic], noted that the closure might be related to his opposition to the prohibition on using the Islamic full veil–principally the burka and the niqab–in municipal buildings [and other areas]. The city council of Lleida was the first in Catalonia [to pass such a prohibition] and was followed by 15 or so other cities and towns.”
El País also quotes the reaction of the mayor of Lleida, Àngel Ros, to Muslim prayers being conducted in the street following the closure of the mosque, which was to inform the Muslim community that he himself prayed in his house. Ros is variously described in the article as a socialist and a practicing Catholic, although nowhere is he forced to defend himself, as Houzi is, against religious stereotypes, thus avoiding an introduction such as: “Ros, who denies being a pedophile…” The emphasis on the domestic nature of Catholic prayers meanwhile calls into question the financial necessity of ubiquitous ornate churches.
A 12 December The Washington Post article entitled “Arrests suggest U.S. Muslims, like those in Europe, can be radicalized abroad” by Mary Beth Sheridan and Spencer S. Hsu begins:
A spike in terrorism cases involving U.S. citizens is challenging long-held assumptions that Muslims in Europe are more susceptible to radicalization than their better-assimilated counterparts in the United States.”
The limited scope of Sheridan and Hsu’s anthropological breakthrough is suggested by the fact that they neglect to explain whether the rape of Iraqis by US soldiers would not also qualify as “radicalization abroad”; as for “long-held assumptions,” these had apparently been bolstered by “British domestic intelligence chiefs [who had] warned in 2006 and 2007 of 200 terrorist networks [in Britain], at least 2,000 individuals who posed a direct security threat and perhaps 2,000 as-yet unknown would-be terrorists.”
On May 7, 2009, 227 migrants en route from Libya to Italy were intercepted in the Mediterranean Sea and escorted back to Tripoli by three vessels belonging to the Italian state, two from the Guardia Costiera and one from the Guardia di Finanza. In the online version of the Italian journal La Repubblica, Italy’s interior minister Roberto Maroni applauded the feat as “un risultato storico” in the struggle against clandestini, and a resolution to arguments between Italy and Malta over which nation should have to deal with potential asylum seekers. Maroni reasoned that, since the migrants were intercepted prior to reaching Italian shores, international law did not apply and it was not the “compito del governo italiano”—the duty of the Italian government—to evaluate requests for asylum; not addressed was why it was the compito del governo italiano to redeposit the travelers at their point of embarkation.
Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi was quoted in La Repubblica as supporting the re-depositing based on the fact that, unlike the political left in Italy which wanted to open the doors to everyone, his government was not founded on the idea of a società multietnica but rather on the idea of receiving only those migrants who met the requirements for political asylum. No logistical details were offered on how to determine whether migrants met such requirements if they were forcibly repatriated prior to questioning; defense minister Ignazio La Russa meanwhile deflected potential accusations of xenophobia by explaining in the online version of Il Giornale that opposition to a multiethnic society did not mean that people of different ethnicities could not become Italian. According to La Russa, it was critical not to lose track of the history that made Italians “unici nel mondo”—a history of uniqueness that had included convictions during colonial periods that Libya was not opposed to a multiethnic society.