Sunday, January 11, 2009

Belgian Jews under threat as a result of the Middle East crisis

Belgium's large Jewish community is on the alert after becoming the target of attacks and riots triggered by the violent conflict in the Middle East. The crisis has reverberated most sharply in the port city of Antwerp.

Extra police are being poured into the city's Jewish quarter, a bustling area famed for its diamond trade and peppered with Kosher restaurants, which has now become a high-security zone. Antwerp, home to over 22,000 Jewish people, is one the largest communities outside Israel.

Death threats

"Our community is under attack as some people are trying to import the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians," says Diane Keizer, who heads up the Belgian Forum for Jewish Organisations. "There have been arson attacks and some Jews have received death threats."
Last week, around 100 protesters were arrested after a march morphed into a riot, with participants attacking cars and buildings as they headed towards the Jewish neighbourhood, brandishing anti-Jewish slogans. In a separate incident, one Jewish house was attacked by arsonists. There have been other incidents in Brussels, including an attempted arson attack on a synagogue.
Many are pointing the finger at the most extremist fringes of Antwerp's Muslim community for the unrest. "There has been a series of protests against the strikes on Gaza, although most people are peaceful demonstrators, there's a hardcore group that is using what's happening in the Middle East to attack Jews," Keizer says.
Some local residents complain that the incidents have sparked a climate of fear in the neighbourhood. "I know no longer feel safe walking around beyond this area dressed as I am," says the bearded, elderly owner of a Kosher grocery shop, who, like many men in the neighbourhood, wears the distinctive kippah skull-cap and a black overcoat.

Out of proportion

There has been a noticeable rise in the numbers of officers patrolling the streets and police vehicles are out in force at the slightest whiff of a fresh protest. "There's palpable tension in the Jewish area, though not elsewhere in the city, most people have looked on in shock at recent events," says Sven Lommard, spokesman for Antwerp's police force."It's very tricky right now because we just don't know how the situation is going to evolve. We have to stay very alert. It's a long time since we experienced something like this."
Around 30,000 Arabs live in the city of 470,000. Various Muslim groups have complained that the recent events have been dramatised. "We musn't blow this out of proportion. Yes, there have been isolated incidents sparked by hooligans, which we condemn absolutely. But it's not the case that Jews and Muslims here are on a collision course. This is a village really, we live together," says Mohammed Chakar of the Federation of Moroccan Associations. "I think that some of the harder-line Jewish organisations have blown up the scale of the problem to attract attention and to help their case," he adds.

Both Jewish and Muslim groups single out the Arab European League (AEL) for the worst of the unrest, an organisation described by Belgian authorities as anti-Semitic and which orchestrated the recent protests. "The AEL misused the occasion to raise their profile and spread fear," says Chakar. But the AEL says it is being unfairly targeted. "Police have been arresting people in Muslim areas who had nothing whatsoever to do with the protests. Racist intimidation is part of day-to-day policy. Civil rights are trampled on when it comes to Moroccans," the AEL states on its website.

Note: the AEL is an extreme rascist and islamist organization, active for years in the Netherlands and Belgium. On a question of a journalist, one of the leaders of the AEL said: 'Am I an anti semitic'? 'So what is the problem'?
They sued the Dutch government last week for what happens in Gaza...

Day Opening - January 11

At night, Notre Dame, Paris.
Olivier Ffrench (Paris, France)

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Internations is a fragile project of people of several countries, with the focus on Turkey.

I'm after 4 years blogging not able to deliver/write articles on a daily bases. My political opinion is and will be published in several outlets and in my book.
As I mentioned earlier, this blog is open for people with different points of view. And we will keep it that way.

There are several people who asked to be a co blogger here. I'm fine with that. But I first want to meet these people.

Thereforer, one person, who I met recently, has an interesting opinion about life and living in Turkey: Sam, he will be a new co blogger here.

Another person, who works for Turkish EU lobby group, will follow soon.

Internations is an open forum, which attracts a lot of attention of the mainstream media. But it doesn't mean that we are 'mainstream'.

Regarding 'Sam', his own site is

Day Opening - January 10

Inside the main building of the Hotel des Invalides. Visitors are hurrying towards the dome to pay a visit to Napoleon's grave.
Olivier Ffrench (Paris, France)

Friday, January 9, 2009

News from Zimbabwe

Palestinian and Israeli rights groups honoured

A Dutch foundation commemorating the resistance movement of the Second World War has been giving this award since 1987 to acknowledge outstanding work for democracy and against dictatorship, racism and discrimination.
Al-Haq is an independent Palestinian group which attempts to document the stories of victims and eyewitnesses of human rights abuses.
The Ramallah-based organisation was founded in 1979 by a group of Palestinian lawyers. Using field workers in the Palestinian territories, the group documents human rights abuses by recording statements of victims and eyewitesses. Al-Haq is advocating the incorporation of international human rights rules into Palestine law.
B'Tselem informs Israelis about the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian Territories. A broad grouping of academics, lawyers, journalists and parliamentarians set up the group in Jerusalem in 1989. A major aim is to have alleged abuses by the Israeli military or by the Israeli government investigated. B'Tselem was instrumental in starting a case over Israel's 700-mile long "security barrier" at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
Both groups will be presented with the medal at an official ceremony in Amsterdam in March this year.

Earlier winners of the Geuzenpenning include the Anne Frank Foundation, former Czech president Václav Havel and Colombian politician and former hostage Ingrid Betancourt.
Geuzen was the Dutch word used to name those who fought in the 16th century against Spain for the independence of the Netherlands. The name was also used in the Second World War by a Dutch resistance group which fought the Nazis. The word originally meant 'beggars', while penning, in Dutch, means medal.
The design of the Geuzen Medal is inspired by a similar medal worn by the 16th Dutch resistance group, showing a handshake as a symbol of loyalty. The motto reads "Even if we are reduced to beggars".

Day Opening - January 9

Eiffel Tower during sunset. Picture taken along the Seine, near the Place de la Concorde.
Conception Pierre Bideau.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

And they had lunch...

Bush Sr, Obama, Bush Jr., Clinton, J. Carter

The Netherlands undertakes diplomatic initiative on Israel and Gaza

The Netherlands, backed by Denmark, has undertaken a diplomatic initiative to expedite a ceasefire in Israel and Gaza. The Netherlands and Denmark are proposing a European mission to closely monitor the border between Egypt and Gaza.
Dutch Foreign minister Maxime Verhagen and his Danish counterpart Per Stig Møller have written to the EU presidency to announce their initiative.

‘An early, permanent ceasefire will be possible only if Israel believes that Hamas will not again arm itself with rockets. It will then be possible to reopen Gaza’s borders for humanitarian and economic assistance, which are so urgently needed,’ Mr Verhagen explained. ‘That means supervising the border with Egypt to make it watertight. The Netherlands is willing to examine how it can contribute to an international supervisory force.’

On Monday and Tuesday, Mr Verhagen had telephone talks with his Israeli counterpart Tzipi Livni, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. He also urged the Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki to use his influence on Hamas to stop further bloodshed.

Minister Verhagen is shocked by the reports of many casualties following a military operation that hit a school in Gaza, and he has expressed his deepest sympathy with the bereaved. ‘I regret the many civilian casualties on the Palestinian side, just as I regret the civilian casualties on the Israeli side,’ he said. ‘The Netherlands expects Israel to live up to its commitment to do everything possible to prevent further civilian casualties.’

Day Opening - January 8

Winter, the Netherlands.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Day Opening - January 7

By Goya.
The table represents the Sagrada Familia, that is, the Virgin Mary with Child Jesus and St. Joseph carrying his rod florida under the glory of heaven in a yellow-orange glow (color customarily represented supernatural) where some argue about angels on Escorza clouds where God rests. Sobre él se aprecia al Espíritu Santo representado por una paloma del Espíritu Santo. About him there is the Holy Spirit represented by a dove of the Holy Spirit. Junto a la Sagrada Familia aparecen san Joaquín y santa Ana contemplando la escena, formando la «Triple generación» las figuras más ancianas que completan la escena. Next to the Sagrada Familia appear San Joaquin and Santa Ana contemplating the scene, forming the "Triple generation figures older who complete the scene.

El cuadro muestra la iluminación del Barroco tardío. The table shows the illumination of the late Baroque. El dibujo muestra modelos que se darán en otros cuadros de Goya, como las cabezas de Dios Padre y San Joaquín, que podemos identificar en los cuadros que se han visto bajo la Celestina y su hija (Fundación March) y bajo el Bautismo de Cristo . The picture shows models that will occur in other paintings of Goya, as the heads of God the Father and San Joaquin, we can identify the pictures that have been under the Celestina and her daughter (March Foundation) and under the baptism of Christ.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Dutch Minister: No Islamic oaths for police forces

In response to questions from a right-wing and fundamentalist religious party, the SGP, Dutch Interior Minister Guusje ter Horst has written that police officers are not allowed to give oaths in the name of Allah. Until March last year, two police forces did offer the possibility of giving an Islamic oath, but Ms Ter Horst says the practice was against the rules and has been stopped.

Likewise, people who work for the government at national level are not offered the opportunity of giving an Islamic oath. Civil servants may choose between using the sentence "So help me God," in their oath or leaving it out.

The ministry of defence and local governments are allowed to write their own oaths. As a result, they do permit them to be taken in the name of Allah.

The SGP strives for orthodox protestant political values. Its manifesto is based on the bible. Women are not allowed to be elected to any office within the party. It opposes shops opening on Sundays and even its website is closed on the Sabbath. The SGP has two seats in the lower house of parliament.

Understanding the Gaza catastrophe

Understanding the Gaza catastrophe by Richard Falk, a professor emeritus of international law and practice at Princeton University and the UN's special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories.

Some excerpts:

For 18 months, the entire 1.5 million people of Gaza experienced a punishing blockade imposed by Israel, and a variety of traumatizing challenges to the normality of daily life.

Israel refused exit permits to students with foreign fellowship awards and to Gazan journalists and respected NGO representatives. At the same time, it made it increasingly difficult for journalists to enter, and I myself was expelled from Israel a couple of weeks ago when I tried to enter to carry out my UN job of monitoring respect for human rights in occupied Palestine, that is, in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, as well as in Gaza.

As always in relation to the underlying conflict, some facts bearing on this latest crisis are murky and contested, although the American public in particular gets 99 percent of its information filtered through an exceedingly pro-Israeli media lens. Hamas is blamed for the breakdown of the truce by its supposed unwillingness to renew it, and by the alleged increased incidence of rocket attacks.

Respected and conservative Israeli commentators go further. For instance, the prominent historian Benny Morris, writing in The New York Times a few days ago, relates the campaign in Gaza to a deeper set of forebodings in Israel that he compares to the dark mood of the public that preceded the 1967 War when Israelis felt deeply threatened by Arab mobilizations on their borders. Morris insists that despite Israeli prosperity in recent years and the relative security, several factors have led Israel to act boldly in Gaza: the perceived continuing refusal of the Arab world to accept the existence of Israel as an established reality; the inflammatory threats voiced by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, together with Iran's supposed push to acquire nuclear weapons; the fading memory of the Holocaust, combined with growing sympathy in the West with the Palestinian plight; and the radicalization of political movements on Israel's borders in the form of Hezbullah and Hamas.

The people of Gaza are victims of geopolitics at its inhumane worst, producing what Israel itself calls a "total war" against an essentially defenseless society that lacks any defensive military capability whatsoever and is completely vulnerable to Israeli attacks mounted by F-16 bombers and Apache helicopters. Such extreme military asymmetry is more suggestive of a "massacre" than a "war." What this also means is that the flagrant violation of international humanitarian law, as set forth in the Geneva Conventions, is cynically ignored, while the carnage continues and the bodies pile up.

Here the full article.

Note: What Israel is doing, collevtive punishment, is the same as what the Nazi's did in Europe. When they found one person who threatens the Nazi's, helped the Jews, etc. they punished the whole village.

Growing Links Seen Between Hells Angels and Neo-Nazis in Germany

Motorcycle gangs have long kept the police busy with violence and drug trafficking. But now investigators are alarmed by a new threat: Militant neo-Nazis are rising through the ranks of the Hells Angels in Germany.

The man who generally goes by the nickname Maxe wanted to become a model citizen, at least that's what he said after his release from prison. Markus W. made headlines during a World Cup match over 10 years ago when he and other German football hooligans viciously attacked French policeman Daniel Nivel, leaving him severely disabled. For his part in the attack, Maxe served four years in a French prison for causing "grievous bodily harm."
After his early release in 2002, he promised to transform from a right-wing thug to a social worker. He wanted to study social sciences and work with people who "have problems with society." Maxe said he hoped that young people could benefit from his experience: "I can tell you, boys, violence doesn't pay."

And there is morreee

Day Opening - January 6

The Wine Harvest (La Vendimia)Painted: 1786 / 87. By Goya.
Lively shades and their contrast forming a harmonic whole, show us the artist´s true maturity. Scenes from everyday life at the time is the main motif in a series of paintings Goya did between 1786 and 1788.
Curiosity: Background workers enjoy their job!.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Light breaks where no sun shines

Light breaks where no sun shines

by Dylan Thomas

Light breaks where no sun shines;
Where no sea runs, the waters of the heart
Push in their tides;
And, broken ghosts with glow-worms in their heads,
The things of light
File through the flesh where no flesh decks the bones.

A candle in the thighs
Warms youth and seed and burns the seeds of age;
Where no seed stirs,
The fruit of man unwrinkles in the stars,
Bright as a fig;
Where no wax is, the candle shows its hairs.

Dawn breaks behind the eyes;
From poles of skull and toe the windy blood
Slides like a sea;
Nor fenced, nor staked, the gushers of the sky
Spout to the rod
Divining in a smile the oil of tears.

Night in the sockets rounds,
Like some pitch moon, the limit of the globes;
Day lights the bone;
Where no cold is, the skinning gales unpin
The winter's robes;
The film of spring is hanging from the lids.

Light breaks on secret lots,
On tips of thought where thoughts smell in the rain;
When logics dies,
The secret of the soil grows through the eye,
And blood jumps in the sun;
Above the waste allotments the dawn halts.

Day Opening - January 5

Atropos, by Goya