Monday, December 02, 2013

Not created equal

'Memories' pass between generations

Generations of a family

Related Stories

Behaviour can be affected by events in previous generations which have been passed on through a form of genetic memory, animal studies suggest.
Experiments showed that a traumatic event could affect the DNA in sperm and alter the brains and behaviour of subsequent generations.
A Nature Neuroscience study shows mice trained to avoid a smell passed their aversion on to their "grandchildren".
Experts said the results were important for phobia and anxiety research.
The animals were trained to fear a smell similar to cherry blossom.
The team at the Emory University School of Medicine, in the US, then looked at what was happening inside the sperm.
They showed a section of DNA responsible for sensitivity to the cherry blossom scent was made more active in the mice's sperm.
Both the mice's offspring, and their offspring, were "extremely sensitive" to cherry blossom and would avoid the scent, despite never having experiencing it in their lives.
Changes in brain structure were also found.
"The experiences of a parent, even before conceiving, markedly influence both structure and function in the nervous system of subsequent generations," the report concluded.
Family affair
The findings provide evidence of "transgenerational epigenetic inheritance" - that the environment can affect an individual's genetics, which can in turn be passed on.
One of the researchers Dr Brian Dias told the BBC: "This might be one mechanism that descendants show imprints of their ancestor.
"There is absolutely no doubt that what happens to the sperm and egg will affect subsequent generations."
Prof Marcus Pembrey, from University College London, said the findings were "highly relevant to phobias, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders" and provided "compelling evidence" that a form of memory could be passed between generations.
He commented: "It is high time public health researchers took human transgenerational responses seriously.
"I suspect we will not understand the rise in neuropsychiatric disorders or obesity, diabetes and metabolic disruptions generally without taking a multigenerational approach."
In the smell-aversion study, is it thought that either some of the odour ends up in the bloodstream which affected sperm production or that a signal from the brain was sent to the sperm to alter DNA.
What does this mean for us humans?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

"Dialogue is the key to peace"

In a worthy opinion piece in Arab News discussing the Saudi King Abdullah's rejection of a U.N. Security Council seat, Abdulateef Al-Mulhim advocates:

"In my opinion, the Arab world instead of relying only on official contacts between the US and their respective governments, should find new ways to engage in dialogue with the American people. The US is one of the most open societies in the world and the American people are good listeners and open to political and social discussions -"

I don't doubt King Abdullah has similar thoughts, though the course of action he advocates is rather different. Five years ago he sponsored an "Islamic Conference on Dialogue" that was attended by prominent Muslims throughout the world . The resulting dialogue guidelines include:

1) Most important: is to spread Islam.

2) Refute "the suspicion that Islam and Muslims are responsible for terrorism, extremism and hatred."

3) Reject "the oppression and exploitation of poor people under the excuse of liberating them or guarding their human rights. "

4) Giving "priority to issues of protection of values and ethics against the calls for demoralization on grounds of defending individual freedom" - meaning, I suppose, that Muslims should turn a deaf ear to the complaints or differing priorities of non-Muslims and that Muslims who do listen should be denounced or their interaction with foreigners suppressed from the ears of Muslims.

5) Urge that Muslims worldwide respect their host nations but obey Muslim governments and organizations.

6) Work to ensure that "the United Nations and human rights organizations to criminalize the abuse directed at Islam and its Messenger."

7) Denounce "odious claims of superiority" that one group of people can be superior to another on the basis of race.

Conveniently, the Saudi King believes "dialogue" should be redefined as proselytization, its refinements, and the sort of propaganda needed for himself and his clan to remain in power; Muslims anywhere should obey their leaders - no matter how oppressive; and Muslims should have no hope that improvement could come about through political action of their own, nor that the rest of the world can serve as an example.  


Friday, October 18, 2013

US Passes Saudi Arabia to become the World’s Largest Oil Producer

"PIRA, a leader in worldwide energy market analysis, has recently announced that the US has finally surpassed Saudi Arabia as the largest oil producer in the world, after an explosion in the use of hydraulic fracking created the largest oil boom in nearly 40 years, only beaten by the production boom in Saudi Arabia between 1970 and 1974."

Should the U.S. join OPEC next?  

This is an important milestone: within five years the U.S. will resume its role as a net exporter of petroleum for the first time in over four decades.  The flow of oil through the Arabian Gulf will no longer be considered  a necessary beverage for U.S. consumers but something of necessity for the rest of the world - and this Administration is very keen to push such responsibilities on others.  

If KSA cannot defend itself, nor cooperate in a regional alliance, the obvious candidates become their prime customers in the Far East: China, Japan, South Korea, and India.  These nations either lack the will or prowess to project decisive naval power to the Gulf.  

Long term, Saudi oil production is declining while domestic consumption continues to rise.  Around 2030 Saudi Arabia may even become a net importer of crude!  

What will happen then?  For comparison, early in the colonial period the West Indies was home to rich and lucrative sugar plantations, a strategic asset prize contested between European powers in war and peace, so highly valued that at the end of the Seven Years' War France yielded its sovereignty of mainland Canada to Britain in exchange for retaining its sugar islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe.

After the development of sugar beet in Europe and cane sugar plantations elsewhere the importance of the West Indies dropped and the region once again became a backwater.  Early in the 20th century Europeans pretty much yielded primacy in the area to the local up-and-coming power, the United States.  Spain lost Cuba in a war and didn't try to win it back.  Denmark sold its islands to the America. In WWII Britain offered the U.S. its naval bases in exchange for American-built destroyers. 

And the oldest independent Caribbean state, Haiti, hit by civil unrest, suffered for a generation the indignity of U.S.-European invasion and occupation, followed by disorder, mass slaughter (by its neighbor), dictatorship ("Baby Doc"), and currently another foreign occupation (this time by Brazilian-led U.N. forces.)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Saudi King's 2013 haj speech

Arab News gives the summary.  Here it is verbatim, as read by Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz and reported by the Saudi Press Agency:

In the Name of Allah. Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Praise is due to Allah, and peace be upon His mercy, prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, whom Allah has sent to all creatures as witness, preacher, precursor, a caller to Allah with His permission, and an illuminator candle. Cherishing is due to Allah who said in His Holy Book:
"This day I have perfected your religion For you, completed My favor upon you, And have chosen for you Islam as your religion" and who says "For Hajj are the months well known. If any one undertakes that duty therein, let there be no obscenity, nor wickedness, nor wrangling in Hajj. And whatever good ye do,(be sure) Allah knoweth it. And take a provisions(with you) for the journey, But the provisions Is right conduct. So fear Me, O ye that are wise".

Dear brothers and Dear Muslims all over the globe:

Assalamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatu Allah Wa Barakatuh

I congratulate you on the occasion of Eid Al-Adha, and I pray to Allah Almighty to accept the Hajj of his servants, and to include all of us in his mercy and forgiveness, may Allah help the Muslim Umma to execute the historical responsibility bestowed on it, in regard to its faith, homelands, and unity, along with its humanitarian and forgiving method while dealing with others, that has no excluding of the others just because not believing in the same religion. [That is, if people who don't believe in the correct creed of Islam or in Islam the procedure for dealing with them is dictated by Islam.]

What we agreed on with the others based on ethical methods of dialogue and do not conflict with our belief should be honored. [Note the allusion to the 2008 dialogue guidelines and conference, which redefined dialogue as proselytization and proclaimed that its most important purposes are to spread the faith and prevent revolution due to economic disparity in the Muslim world.] In contrary, if what we disagree on, the decisive word is what our religion explained to us as that is stated in the holy Qur'an "To you be your way, And to me mine".[The Koran continues with many qualifications to this statement.]

Dear brothers and sisters:

With Allah's Grace, we are one Umma, as far as we are united, knowing that we share same worries and hopes, and aware of the fact that our glory and pride come by holding tight to our belief, which stimulates all sort of ethical principles that our lord have asked us to follow. [That is, the King and the other leaders of Muslim countries are scared stiff of revolution and hold that religion is the key to keeping people in check.] Consequently, Islam is known with its mildness and along with its moderation, clarity, and forgiveness, it becomes our way in understanding and engaging in dialogue with the others, also becomes our civilized guide in understanding concepts such as freedom of religions, cultures, beliefs and not implement force in regard to these concepts. [No open violence against others - no violence that can be traced back to Muslim leaders, anyway.] Allah Almighty stated "Let be no compulsion In religion: Truth stands out Clear from Error". In complying with this notion we have established King Abduallah Bin Abdulaziz International Center for Interreligious and intercultural Dialogue, [as explained in earlier posts, this is an institution which redefines "dialogue" and "tolerance" to such an extent that what remains is a morally depraved institution] so it can act as a gate between Muslims, and other religions and cultures, declaring to the world that we are extending our hands with an initiative that respects all the followers of heavenly religions. The initiative that is against hatred and violence, it shows the world that Islam is the religion of purity, clarity and moderation.  [Note "toleration" over rights; that is, the moment non-Muslims misbehave in some way toleration ends.]

Having dealt with non Muslims with the method mentioned previously, it is a must for us Muslim to avoid skirmishes and disunity among ourselves, and therefore we have ordered the establishment of the Center for Dialogue Among Islamic Sects in Madinah. The establishment of the center was recommended by the Islamic Solidarity conference which was held in Makkah during the month of Ramadan,1433H. Our concern of the Islamic Umma was the aim to establish the center in order to avoid disunity and division. [We tyrants must stick together or die!] We are convinced that dialogue among Islamic sects with Allah' grace and help, is the appropriate method to understand each other. What we have agreed on is, thanks to God, due to his favor, and what we have disagreed on should not be of a way to destroy the unity of Islamic Umma. By Allah grace, the door of interpretation(IJTEHAD) is open, and this is why we have different views among Islamic schools of interpretations. Having said that, the basic of our faith should not be touched, and we don’t accept any bargaining on it. [That is, tolerance has its limits and from that point violence is fair play.]

Dear Muslim brothers:

From the prophetic land, cradle of revelation, we announce to the world that we are an Umma which does not bargain on its religion, ethics, and values. It does not allow whomever that maybe to interfere in its internal or external issues. [More explicitly than in 2008, "dialogue" is a one-way street, Muslims telling non-Muslims how they should behave and what they should do and turning a deaf ear to any complaints of Muslims dealing unjustly with non-Muslims.]  It should be clear to the world that we respect it, and value its humanitarian contribution throughout the history, but there is no option left before whoever tries to manipulate according to his narrow views or interests. [No "tolerance" there.] We are an Umma, its security is synonym to its religion and homelands. [That is, tyrants' security is in their control of religion.] It deals with the others in an equal manner. So, we hope that mutual respect between nations and countries can be a wide gate for friendship and to achieve mutual goals and interests. [The countries of the West should respect our views.  I believe the bits including and after "friendship" and "mutual goals" allude to corrupting non-Muslim leaders as necessary through selective bribery to achieve these goals.]  We are aware that we live in harmonious world where hatred is rejected, predominance and arrogance are objected. Whoever realizes this notion, our hearts are capable and willing for all sorts of friendship, and for those who choose otherwise, it is their business. Yet, we are firm in maintaining the dignity and the pride of our people. [Including violence, as needed or desired.]

Once again, I renew congratulations to you on Eid Al-Adha, may Allah accept your Hajj and good deeds.


A speech remarkable for its intolerance, even aggression, almost the first person to praise it was the imam of the al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount, who "hailed the Kingdom's stances towards the Palestinian people and their cause, highlighting the Kingdom's efforts in defending the Palestinian people."

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

The Failure of Reason: Why Facts in Context Don't Work

"But unlike us Pakistanis, who have now started to engage critically with some of the foundational myths of our country, even progressive Israelis do not seem to have made that breakthrough. The foundational Zionist narrative is sacrosanct, except for some ultra-religious Jews for whom the existence of the State of Israel is an abomination."

Amazing how the author misses his own blindness.  The "foundational Zionist narrative" isn't sacrosanct but fact-based.  What IS "sacrosanct" is the PAKISTANI narrative of Israel's foundation and conduct.  Whenever I get into this, rubbishing all criticism by revealing and backing up facts, the response by thoughtful Pakistanis isn't agreement.  They defend being anti-Israel by invoking the right of people "everywhere" (specifically Pakistanis and Palestinian Arabs, but they mean to implicate Jews as well) to lie to themselves and their kids to sustain personal and collective pride.

Jews - even the most secular ones, I think - don't have this issue.  I've never met a Jew of any denomination who felt trapped by a lie told by a parent.  It's a very large and sustained cultural difference.  Religious Jews recognize it in their textbook of Oral Law, the Talmud, which tells the story that before selecting Israel G-d offered the Torah to several other nations which had various reasons for rejecting it or gave G-d insufficient guarantees that they would obey the Torah.  The Jews, on the other hand, not only accepted the Torah but promised G-d that their children would guarantee the parents' adherence to the Torah's principles, whereupon G-d immediately bestowed the Torah to the Jews. Thus, Jewish children often question their parents' every custom and practice, whether it be religious or not.

So when all is stripped away it's a matter of UNJUSTIFIABLE pride Israel and Jews must be hated and attacked.  Thus one needs invoke no religious grounds to justify the Jews having their own country: it's unreasonable to expect they will be able, in a conflict with a non-Jew, to expect justice from any country that sustains antisemitism as a political convenience.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

"I killed millions of Jews but spared a few -"

Hitler: I killed millions of Jews/Israelis..... but i spared a few to show you why i killed them

[More commonly on the Internet,

 I could have killed all the Jews, but I left some of them alive to let you know why I killed them ]

Hitler never spoke those words, of course; he didn't mean to let any Jews remain alive, save perhaps one of his cooks as an expression of personal power. It's just something invented by an antisemite in support of jew-hatred.

And it always seems to pop up when Jews like me assert deeds in context as good or evil, right and wrong, and their perpetrators as criminals, men who would much prefer to be hailed as heroes instead. Why are Jews like me so annoying, even when we are right? What makes so many of you here want to reject agreeing with me 100%?

A good example is the British response to the 1920 Amritsar massacre. In this incident British troops opened fire, without provocation, on a peaceful crowd of Indian protesters (no use in asking who was what religion, since Indians didn't yet think that way.) The commanding general was retired and hailed as a hero by many Brits, especially those in the political opposition.

When the matter came before Parliament the government's first speaker was a Jewish Briton who angrily denounced the massacre in absolute terms. This brought a huge storm of anti-semitic resentment from many in Parliament: they were on the edge of endorsing the massacre out of Jew-hatred - these were the days when the Brits were convinced Bolshevist Communism was a Jewish plot that threatened England, too.

The next speaker from the government side was Winston Churchill. He spoke quite differently, describing the incident factually and calmly. He then argued that the general's actions were unworthy of British tradition: "Frightfulness" - his term for cowing a populace by unjustly and randomly terrorizing them - not being part of the British armory - so did the MPs want to make it one now? At this there was general agreement and after a bit more discussion the massacre was condemned. [Reference: The Last Lion, vol. I, ~p.600.]

So you see, the first speaker wasn't wrong when he asserted that what happened was an absolute crime; it's that the other Brits were afraid that his self-condemnation constituted an assault on the British nation. When Churchill soothed those fears they calmed down and turned 180 degrees. Yet would Churchill have succeeded in doing so if the massacre hadn't been labeled as a crime by the first speaker?

My grandparents, aunts, and uncles never engaged in the sort of political or anti-national behavior that Hitler decried. They were sent to the concentration camps and gas chambers anyway. Do you [Pakistanis] really want to follow in his footsteps and add genocide and accessory to murder to the legacy you leave to your kids? It's all about the values you choose. link

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What is Israel trying to do?

Quote Originally Posted by bilalhaider View Post
Solomon, can you tell me what this Israeli regime is trying to do, if it is not going back to the 1967 borders; & is in turn, expanding its settlements? Are they not trying to wipe Palestine off the map, and have the whole area occupied as Israeli territory?
Legally, there are no "1967 borders". There were armistice lines established in 1947 and 1967 without regard to final status. Egypt never annexed Gaza and Jordan's annexation of the West Bank was not recognized - that is, Egypt's and Jordan's occupations from 1947-67 were illegal. 

Legally the areas occupied of Mandate Palestine by the Arab armies were supposed to remain open for Jewish settlement. (In practice, the Egyptians and Syrians and Palestinian Arabs sought to murder Jews in Mandate areas, whereas the Jordanians' Arab Legion evicted them.) 

The condition of Jewish settlement stated in the Mandate was that Jews respect Arabs civil and property rights. This the Jews have done: Jews settled in "state" lands or purchased lands from Arabs; attempts by Israeli extremists to seize privately held Arab land are voided by Israel's courts and the settlers evicted. (Per international law, this doesn't apply to military outposts.) 

Arabs were also supposed to respect the civil and property rights of Jews throughout the former Ottoman areas. This Arabs have, collectively, not done. You don't need to trust me at all on this but look at the demographics: Israel remains 20%+ Arab whereas the number of Jews in surrounding Arab countries range from zero to a few dozen. As the Egyptians have figured out, the Jews have both a legal and moral claim to their modern-day dispossession; the Egyptians just don't want to deal with it: link

The proposal for a "two-state solution" (actually three, since Jordan was chopped off the Mandate earlier to be what Churchill described as a "police station" for the Iraq-Haifa pipeline) was approved in the General Assembly but rejected by the Arabs. This G.A. resolution (UNGA 181) has no legal status. 

What is Israel up to now? Well, under UNSCR 446 the U.N. pretty much declared it was up to Israel to defend Jews' rights as a matter of "world peace" (in context, caving in to prevent terror attacks in Western countries). Israel need not declare sovereignty over ALL of Mandate Palestine. It can, however, prevent Arabs from encroaching on Jews' rights: state lands that should remain open to Jewish settlement, not Arab expansion, and the enforcement of Jews property deeds that were voided or ignored by Arabs. 

Israel has very much wanted a Palestinian state for twenty years. Exact and complicated terms are in the Oslo Accords. As an "interim" measure some areas fell to Arab administration immediately. Others did not - and that in the meantime Israel did not surrender Jews' right to settle in such areas. On the other hand, Arafat and his successors have since made it clear that their goal is to replace Israel with Palestine not live in peace alongside it.

The civil rights of Arabs in the context of Mandate Palestine were those granted subjects by the Ottoman rulers. Civil and property rights became forfeit when a populace turned to civil revolt. 

For reference, I recall the Ottomans two ways the Ottomans would respond to revolt: eviction of the populace and forfeiture of their property (even if that included mass deaths as happened to the Armenians) or decimation (going into a village and hanging at least one male or even one in ten, regardless of whether he was guilty of a crime or not.)

Nobody knew this better than Ben-Gurion, who trained as an Ottoman lawyer. I imagine that's why, when the Arab leaders of Ramle and Lydda told the Jews in 1948 that they were determined to remain in a state of revolt, he decided these populations were to be evicted (which didn't necessarily mean they were evicted from Israel, as some may have become IDP's and re-settled elsewhere.) 

So the proper question doesn't have much to do with Israel but what rights should remain to Palestine's Arabs? Those reconciled to Israeli rule remain in Israel. But those who vowed to reject the Jewish presence in Palestine and their descendants, hostile or not? What obligation is Israel supposed to have to them?

I think it's worth noting that the entire idea that Jews are somehow responsible for Arab displacement was rooted in Jews' charity: the Jews bought land in Palestine from absentee Arab landowners and made efforts, as a courtesy, to find their Arab tenant farmers new situations elsewhere. That courtesy soon became construed as a "right" and from there the conviction that no Jew may displace an Arab - even if the Jew is the legal owner of the property - without Arabs' say-so.

Nowadays the "Palestinian" attitude that Jews should be evicted from areas even if they are the legal owners, and the more extreme Hezbollah stance that Jews should be murdered wherever they may be on Earth: link

My theory is that the hardening happens because (as happened in the American South after 1830) once arguing in favor of the Jews (or abolition in the South) became forbidden by law, the only remaining way for challengers to contend for power against the existing elite was to take a more militant position. After a few stages of this the results in both cases were war, either against foreign opponents or domestic ones.

And all it took was for the right of free speech to be suppressed on one particular subject.