* This dispatch concerns Iran. For space reasons it is divided in two. This part deals with human rights; the second part concerns military and security issues, and is titled Ahmadinejad: Zionists behind South Ossetia, Abkhazia conflict (& 63% of Americans support Israeli strike on Iran).
1. Additional note on Sarah Palin
2. Most people have not properly thought through the realities of a nuclear Iran
3. “As low as anything America has ever witnessed in a presidential campaign”
4. Iranian mullah compares women to donkeys (Western feminists silent)
5. Photos of the day
6. Ahmadinejad will have N.Y. speaking engagement “like the one last year at Columbia”
7. Iran continues its surge of youth hangings
8. Australian and Canadian unions protest floggings, executions of workers (European trade unions silent)
9. Iranian journalist executed (Western journalists silent)
10. Who are the Balochis?
11. BBC Persian TV sacks journalists who criticize the regime
12. “Don’t discount Palin’s foreign-policy credentials”
ADDITIONAL NOTE ON SARAH PALIN
I would like to thank Ha’aretz for pointing out in their main news report about John McCain’s choice of running mate, that I was one of the few political commentators to predict as early as July that McCain would pick Sarah Palin. Last paragraph here (Hebrew edition only).
Those of you who wish to read my short article for the National Review (titled “Don’t discount Palin’s foreign-policy credentials”) published just hours after her selection on Friday, can do so at the foot of this dispatch.
The article was widely picked up over the weekend. For example, it was reproduced in full on the website of America’s CBS television network. And it was commented on and sometimes criticized in various prominent blogs, such as that of Andrew Sullivan, a subscriber to this email list.
MOST PEOPLE HAVE NOT PROPERLY THOUGHT THROUGH THE REALITIES OF A NUCLEAR IRAN
I realize, of course, that not everyone on this list will agree with my article on Palin. The article concerns the issue of Iran’s rapidly advancing pursuit of nuclear weapons, which I believe is the most pressing issue in the world today.
As I have mentioned before, seeing the weakness of the so-called international community towards Iran’s nuclear program, at least seven other Middle East countries have already begun nascent nuclear programs of their own.
Once nuclear weapons spread into the Middle East and beyond, there is no turning back. No country in the world will have the power to police nukes in the hands of so many unstable countries with unreliable military structures often infiltrated by radical Islamists, some of whom would welcome the “martyrdom” of their own populations, since they genuinely believe in what they consider to be the next world, not in this one.
BIDEN AND IRAN
Meanwhile, while most American politicians were yesterday rallying together to deal with Hurricane Gustav, Obama’s running mate Joe Biden was again attacking John McCain for his tough stance against Iran.
And Israel’s Army Radio and Ha’aretz newspaper reported yesterday that Biden told Israeli officials in closed conversations three years ago that he was firmly opposed to an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities and that “Israel would likely have to come to terms with a nuclear Iran.” (Biden’s spokesman has today denied the report but Israeli officials say it is accurate.)
ALASKAN HELP FOR ISRAEL
Some senior Jewish Democrats who have never met Palin have been telling reporters that she is anti-Israel, and some even alleged she is anti-Semitic. For example, Democratic Congressman Robert Wexler of Florida said McCain’s choice of Palin was an “affront to all Jewish Americans.” This is ridiculous. Palin enjoys very good relations with Alaska’s Jewish community and keeps an Israeli flag in her office (along with flags of others U.S. allies).
She also recently passed a resolution noting Alaska’s special connection to Israel dating back to Alaska Airlines’ participation in the rescue of 40,000 Yemenite Jews when it airlifted them from Yemen to Tel Aviv during 1948 and 1949.
“AS LOW AS ANYTHING AMERICA HAS EVER WITNESSED IN A PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN”
Despite yesterday’s media frenzy concerning Sarah Palin’s family, I would stand by my assessment that Palin was a wise pick by McCain.
From the moment she was chosen, the smears from some on the far left were as deplorable as anything one is likely to find on a ku klux klan website. The attacks and lies about her children, particularly about her Down’s syndrome infant, are as low as anything America has ever witnessed in a presidential campaign and it is to my profound disappointment that they have been repeated on the websites of supposedly respectable newspapers like The Guardian.
Barack Obama has repeatedly pleaded with his supporters over the last few days to stop the vicious personal and misogynistic attacks that began on Sarah Palin and her children from almost the moment she was nominated.
A senior aide to Obama told Reuters: “The despicable rumors that have been spread by liberal blogs, some even with Barack Obama’s name in them, is a real anchor around the Democratic ticket, pulling them down in the mud in a way that certainly juxtaposes themselves against their campaign of change.”
BREAST PUMP? GO-GO BOOTS?
Meanwhile “feminists” such as Maureen Dowd, star columnist at The New York Times, has revealed herself (unsurprisingly) not to actually care about the advancement of women, if those women, like Sarah Palin, are ordinary people. Instead Dowd has published one of the most snobby, sexist columns I have ever seen in The New York Times (with comments about Palin’s alleged “breast pump,” “go-go boots,” hairstyle, the fact she goes shopping, the fact she didn’t go to an Ivy college, and so on.) It seems that Dowd and her colleagues are only interested in promoting elitist, moneyed, privileged women like themselves.
Such attacks come as little surprise given the track record of many who wrongly regard themselves as liberals for not caring about women and other minority rights if it doesn’t suit them, as indicated by their silence over the events in Iran documented below and on previous dispatches on this website.
WILL SHE ONE DAY BE VOTED AMERICA’S FIRST FEMALE PRESIDENT DESPITE THE MEDIA ONSLAUGHT?
I too disagree with Palin’s views on abortion but that doesn’t excuse brutal, sexist attacks on Palin, and the way the mainstream media, particularly in Europe are now prominently printing every single rumor and innuendo about Palin and even about Palin’s daughter’s boyfriend, while all but ignoring some very real scandals about Joe Biden’s son and brother, for example, or deliberately censoring for months the fact that John Edwards fathered a baby with a former campaign employee during his campaign last year.
Hardly any of these sexist critics bother to mention that due to her highly successful policies, she currently enjoys an approval rating of between 80 and 90 percent in Alaska from voters of all parties, an approval rating unparalleled by almost any other politician in America.
Not all feminists share Dowd’s condescending attitude, however. Camille Paglia, the cultural critic, said on Friday: “We may be seeing the first woman president. As a Democrat, I am reeling. That was the best political speech I have ever seen delivered by an American woman politician.”
-- Tom Gross
[Notes below on Iran by Tom Gross]
IRANIAN MULLAH COMPARES WOMEN TO DONKEYS
Hojjat al-Eslam Ali Borhan, a prominent prayer leader in Mahriz, announced on Friday that the authorities would no longer tolerate the presence of any woman dressed in a manteau (a long overcoat traditionally worn by women in Iran) and all women must wear the chador (a full-length head-to-toe garment without any hand openings or closures).
He said “some people may get used to the presence of naked donkeys without getting sexually excited, but if anyone saw women dressed in anything other than the chador, this would instigate immorality.” (In Persian, here.)
He also ruled that no cinema should ever open in Mahriz because this “would serve as a den of immorality, since the dark of the cinema could provide opportunity to exchange telephone numbers between young men and women.”
PHOTOS OF THE DAY
Here are some photos from Iran’s official Fars News Agency:
* Eating “sheep head soup” in Iran in a pre-Ramadan meal over the weekend.
* Children celebrating the second anniversary of Hizbullah’s “victory” over the Zionist entity, in Tehran’s “Palestine Square.”
AHMADINEJAD WILL HAVE NY SPEAKING ENGAGEMENT “LIKE THE ONE LAST YEAR AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY”
The director of the Iranian president’s office, Sheikh al-Eslami, has announced that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will have a speaking engagement “like the one last year at Columbia University” during his next visit to New York. He is expected to visit New York again later this month for the UN General Assembly. (In Persian here.)
I have never understood why the UN General Assembly commands such respect among many Western media, human rights groups and academia since a majority of the leaders attending it are dictators or despots.
IRAN CONTINUES ITS SURGE OF YOUTH HANGINGS
Iran, the world’s most prolific executioner after China, last week hanged another four men and a woman. This brings to 232 the number of known executions in Iran so far this year, compared to 317 executions in all of 2007.
Of particular concern is the number of youths facing execution for crimes they committed as children. There are at least 132 juvenile offenders on death row.
Iran leads the world in executing juvenile offenders, ahead of China, a much more populous country. Almost no other country in the world executes individuals for crimes committed when they were under 18 years old.
A day after the European Union condemned the August 19 execution of Reza Hejazi for a murder he committed when he was 15, another child offender was hanged in Iran.
AUSTRALIAN AND CANADIAN UNIONS PROTEST FLOGGINGS AND EXECUTIONS
In the last two weeks trade unions in both Australia and Canada have lodged protests against the spate of lashings, floggings and death sentences recently meted out by the Iranian regime to workers and trade unionists there.
But why the virtual silence from the so-called “human rights” organizations in Europe and North America? Are they too busy staging pro-Hamas publicity stunts and boat trips?
Meanwhile, Iranians in Sweden, and in the German cities of Cologne and Berlin, last month held vigils to commemorate the mass killings of political prisoners in Iran in 1988.
And prisoners from Iran’s brutally persecuted Kurdish minority have begun a hunger strike against the death penalties, torture and appalling conditions that Kurdish political prisoners are subjected to in Iranian jails. (In English here.)
IRANIAN JOURNALIST EXECUTED
Yaghoub Mehrnahad, a 28 year-old journalist, who was also a student in Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan province, has been executed.
His “crime” occurred in April 2007, when he criticized the regime during a debate at a conference called “Youths question, Officials reply” in Zahedan, the capital of Baluchestan. Yaghoub was arrested at the debate and then condemned to death.
He had criticized the regime for refusing to help women and children suffering from AIDS.
During Yaghoub’s trial neither he, nor his family, nor his lawyer, nor a jury were present. His family last saw him in Zahedan prison in December saying he showed “obvious signs of torture.”
Where are the protests from Western journalists’ associations, student groups and AIDS activists?
WHO ARE THE BALOCHIS?
Yaghoub was a member of the Balochi minority, one of many repressed minorities throughout Iran (not that most Western newspaper editors and “human rights” groups seem to care).
There has been a sharp increase in the persecution of the Balochis by the Iranian regime over the past few months. Balochis, most of who belong to the Hanafi sect of Sunni Islam, are a minority in three countries, and have been oppressed for generations.
The Balochis are to Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan what the Kurds are to Turkey, Syria and Iran, that is, a people spilt by the borders of newly created twentieth century states in the, trying to maintain their identity.
About six million Balochis live in Pakistan, three million in Iran and one million in Afghanistan.
In other words there are about twice as many Balochis as Palestinians but I doubt that most Western human rights activists have ever heard of them.
BBC PERSIAN TV SACKS JOURNALISTS WHO CRITICIZE THE MULLAHS
The Tabnak News Agency reveals that the BBC’s new Persian Television Service (which is run and funded by the British Foreign Office and the state-funded BBC) has devised a strategy to get rid of critical journalists to preserve its license to operate in Iran.
Perhaps the British members of parliament from all three main British political parties who subscribe to this email list will take up this matter with the BBC Director-General?
PALIN, BIDEN AND IRAN
Don’t discount Palin’s foreign-policy credentials
By Tom Gross
The National Review
August 30, 2008 10:36 AM
Critics are already trying to damn Sarah Palin for her perceived lack of foreign-policy experience, but what they are not allowing for is something more important – that she has the right basic attitudes and sense of priorities. If one looks at her impressive record during 13 years of elected office (she enjoys over 80 percent approval ratings in Alaska from voters of all parties), one can see that she understands that aggression has to be resisted and commitments have to be honored.
Certainly there is every sign that she will be better for at least one of America’s closest friends and allies, Israel, than Joe Biden.
It is true that Biden talks of his support for Israel in principle, but the reality is that he has done his utmost to thwart keeping the possibility of a military option open to stop Iran acquiring nuclear weapons. As a result he was even praised recently on the Iranian regime’s official propaganda arm, Press TV.
It is no accident that Biden was dubbed “Tehran’s favorite senator” in an article in The Washington Post last week.
By contrast, the very first reference to foreign policy that Palin made in her acceptance speech after being chosen as John McCain’s vice-presidential candidate Friday was that Iran must be stopped from getting nuclear weapons. She mentioned this even before she mentioned the issues of Iraq and Russia.
Palin has a record for integrity and for getting the job done matched by very few politicians, as shown by her success in tackling the corrupt Republican-party establishment in Alaska, and her highly effective economic program there.
The U.S. and Israel can have every confidence that, like McCain, she is a doer who means what she says – not someone like Joe Biden who may come out with fine sentiments but seems unwilling to get to grips with fundamental problems posed by Iran and Syria.
(Tom Gross is a former Mideast correspondent for London’s Sunday Telegraph.)