Saturday, January 31, 2015

On Hate and No-Hate - A Clear Statement: The Return of Anti-Semitism

Seventy years after the liberation of Auschwitz, violence and hatred against Jews is on the rise, especially in the Middle East and among Muslims in Europe

Auschwitz survivor Miroslaw Celka walks out the gate with the sign saying ‘Work makes you free’ after paying tribute to fallen comrades at the ‘death wall’ execution spot in the former Auschwitz concentration camp in Oswiecim, Poland, on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp on Jan. 27 ENLARGEAuschwitz survivor Miroslaw Celka walks out the gate with the sign saying ‘Work makes you free’ after paying tribute to fallen comrades at the ‘death wall’ execution spot in the former Auschwitz concentration camp in Oswiecim, Poland, on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp on Jan. 27 Photo: Agence France-Pesse/Getty Images
Last Tuesday, a group of Holocaust survivors, by now gaunt and frail, made their way back to Auschwitz, the West’s symbol of evil—back to the slave-labor side of the vast complex, with its mocking inscription Arbeit Macht Frei (“Work makes you free”), and back to the death camp, where a million and a quarter human beings, most of them Jews, were gassed, burned and turned to ash. They were there to commemorate the day, 70 years ago, when Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz and saw, for the first time, the true dimensions of the greatest crime since human beings first set foot on Earth.
The moment would have been emotional at the best of times, but this year brought an especially disturbing undercurrent. The Book of Genesis says that, when God told Abraham what would happen to his descendants, a “fear of great darkness” fell over him. Something of that fear haunted the survivors this week, who have witnessed the return of anti-Semitism to Europe after 70 years of political leaders constant avowals of “Never again.” As they finished saying Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for mourners, one man cried out, “I don’t want to come here again.” Everyone knew what he meant. For once, the fear was not only about the past but also about the future.
The murder of Jewish shoppers at a Parisian kosher supermarket three weeks ago, after the killing of 12 people at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, sent shivers down the spines of many Jews, not because it was the first such event but because it has become part of a pattern. In 2014, four were killed at the Jewish Museum in Brussels. In 2012, a rabbi and three young children were murdered at a Jewish school in Toulouse. In 2008 in Mumbai, four terrorists separated themselves from a larger group killing people in the city’s cafes and hotels and made their way to a small Orthodox Jewish center, where they murdered its young rabbi and his pregnant wife after torturing and mutilating them. As the Sunday Times of London reported about the attack, “the terrorists would be told by their handlers in Pakistan that the lives of Jews were worth 50 times those of non-Jews.”
Two Jews, kneeling at right, about to be put to death by the sword as revenge for the death of Jesus, who looks on at top left. Manuscript illumination, c1250, from a French Bible. ENLARGETwo Jews, kneeling at right, about to be put to death by the sword as revenge for the death of Jesus, who looks on at top left. Manuscript illumination, c1250, from a French Bible. Photo: The Granger Collection
An ancient hatred has been reborn.

Some politicians around the world deny that what is happening in Europe is anti-Semitism. It is, they say, merely a reaction to the actions of the state of Israel, to the continuing conflict with the Palestinians. But the policies of the state of Israel are not made in kosher supermarkets in Paris or in Jewish cultural institutions in Brussels and Mumbai. The targets in these cities were not Israeli. They were Jewish.
According to the Middle East Media Research Institute, an Egyptian cleric, Muhammad Hussein Yaqub, speaking in January 2009 on Al Rahma, a popular religious TV station in Egypt, made the contours of the new hate impeccably clear: “If the Jews left Palestine to us, would we start loving them? Of course not. We will never love them…They are enemies not because they occupied Palestine. They would have been enemies even if they did not occupy a thing…You must believe that we will fight, defeat and annihilate them until not a single Jew remains on the face of the Earth…You will not survive as long as a single one of us remains.”

Not everyone would put it so forcefully, but this is the hate in which much of the Middle East and the Muslim world has been awash for decades, and it is now seeping back into Europe. For Jews, “never again” has become “ever again.”
The scope of the problem is, of course, difficult to gauge precisely. But recent polling is suggestive—and alarming. An Anti-Defamation League study released last May found “persistent and pervasive” anti-Jewish attitudes after surveying 53,100 adults in 102 countries and territories world-wide. The ADL found that 74% of those surveyed in the Middle East and North Africa held anti-Semitic attitudes; the number was 24% in Western Europe, 34% in Eastern Europe and 19% in the Americas.
Or consider a 2011 Pew Research Center study, which found that favorable views of Jews were “uniformly low” in predominantly Muslim regions that it surveyed: 4% in Turkey and the Palestinian territories, 3% in Lebanon, and 2% in Egypt, Jordan and Pakistan.
At this juncture in the history of hate, we must remember what anti-Semitism is. It is only contingently, even accidentally, about Jews. Jews die from it, but they are not its only victims. Today Christian communities are being ravaged, terrorized and decimated throughout the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia, and scores of Muslims are killed every day by their brothers, with Sunnis arrayed against Shiites, radicals against moderates, the religious against the secular. The hate that begins with Jews never ends with Jews.
A copy of Adolf Hitler's ‘Mein Kampf’  is sold at a street shop in Cairo in 2009. ENLARGEA copy of Adolf Hitler's ‘Mein Kampf’ is sold at a street shop in Cairo in 2009. Photo: Agence France-Pesse/Getty Images
Anti-Semitism has existed for a very long time. One critical moment came around the end of the 1st century C.E., when the Gospel of John attributed to Jesus these words about the Jews: “You belong to your father, the Devil.” From being the children of Abraham, Jews had been transformed into the children of Satan.
But it took a millennium for this text to spark widespread violence against Jews. That came in 1095, when Pope Urban II delivered his call for the First Crusade. A year later, some Crusaders, on their way to “liberate” the holy city of Jerusalem, paused to massacre Jewish communities in Northern Europe, in Cologne, Worms and Mainz. Thousands died. Many Jews committed suicide rather than submit to the mob and forcible conversion to Christianity. It was a traumatizing moment for European Jewry—and the portent of worse to come.
From the time of the Crusades onward, Jews in Christian Europe began to be seen not as human beings but as a malevolent force, a demonic and destructive power that mysteriously yet actively sought the harm of others. Jews were accused of desecrating the sacramental bread used in communion, poisoning wells and spreading the plague. They were held responsible for the Black Death, the epidemic that in the 14th century cost millions of lives. They lived in fear.
This period added to the repressive vocabulary of the medieval West such terms as book burning, forced conversion, Inquisition, auto-da-fe, expulsion, ghetto and pogrom. In duration and intensity, it ranks among the most sustained chronicles of enmity in history. What had happened to activate a hate that had been incubating for 10 centuries, since Christianity emerged from Judaism?
The grand mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husayni, inspects Bosnian SS members in 1944. ENLARGEThe grand mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husayni, inspects Bosnian SS members in 1944. Photo: Alamy
The same question could be asked about Nazi Germany. Had someone been asked in the 1890s to identify the epicenters of anti-Semitism in Europe, the answers would probably have been Paris (where Alfred Dreyfus, a French military office of Jewish descent, was framed as a spy and unjustly imprisoned) and Vienna (whose bigoted mayor, Karl Lueger, became Hitler’s inspiration and role model). Why was it Germany that conceived and executed the Final Solution, an elaborate program with the sole purpose of exterminating Europe’s Jews?
The answer is the same in both cases: Anti-Semitism becomes deadly only when a culture, nation or faith suffers from a cognitive dissonance so profound that it becomes unbearable. It happens when the way a group sees itself is contradicted by the way it is seen by the world. It is the symptom of an unendurable sense of humiliation.
Christianity, which had been transformed by the conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine in the fourth century, found itself overtaken by Islam by the 11th century. Germany, which had seen itself as the supreme nation in Europe, was defeated in World War I and then punished under the Treaty of Versailles.
These humiliations resulted not in introspection but in a search for foreign culprits—for external enemies who could be blamed and destroyed. The parallel in Islam over the past century was the defeat and dissolution of its one remaining bastion of imperial power, the Ottoman Empire, in 1922. Six years later, radical political Islam was born in Egypt in the form of the Muslim Brotherhood.
In 2009, the entrance of a synagogue in Lille, northern France, was defaced with graffiti referring to the supposed ‘Zionist Occupation Government’ that many anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists claim controls the government, finance and the media. ENLARGEIn 2009, the entrance of a synagogue in Lille, northern France, was defaced with graffiti referring to the supposed ‘Zionist Occupation Government’ that many anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists claim controls the government, finance and the media. Photo: agence France-Pesse/Getty Images
Hate cultivated for such cultural and political ends resolves the dissonance between past glory and current ignominy. By turning the question “What did we do wrong?” into “Who did this to us?”, it restores some measure of self-respect and provides a course of action. In psychiatry, the clinical terms for this process are splitting and projection; it allows people to define themselves as victims.
The question then becomes: victims of whom? There were many possibilities. Between the 15th and 18th centuries, Europe blamed witches and killed some 40,000 of them, according to the British historian Ronald Hutton. But Europe’s problems remained. For two millennia, another candidate also has been available: the Jews.
Despite what some intemperate voices claim, anti-Semitism has no genuine provenance within Islam. The historian Bernard Lewis drew a wry distinction: Islam has traditionally had contempt for the Jews, he said, not hate—adding, “From contempt you don’t die. From hate you do.” Anti-Semitism entered Islam from the outside, in the form of two classic myths imported from Europe.
The first was the blood libel, the mad idea that Jews kill Christian children to use their blood to make matzo, the unleavened bread eaten during Passover. The idea is absurd, not least because even the tiniest speck of blood in food renders it inedible in Jewish law. The libel was an English invention, born in Norwich around 1144, and was unsuccessfully condemned by several popes. It was introduced into the Middle East by Christians in the 19th century, leading to trials of innocent Jews in Lebanon and Egypt and, most famously, in Damascus in 1840.
The blood libel is still in circulation. In 1983, Syrian Defense Minister Mustafa Tlass embraced it in his book, “The Matzo of Zion,” according to scholars like Stephen Eric Bonner and Anthony Julius. In 1991, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the Syrian delegate to the U.N. Human Rights Commission praised this “valuable book,” saying it “unmasked the racist character of Zionism.”

“The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”—a late 19th-century forgery about a supposed global Jewish conspiracy, produced by members of the czar’s secret police and exposed as a fiction by the Times of London as early as 1921—become one of Hitler’s favorite texts. In Nazi Germany, it became, as the historian Norman Cohn put it, a “warrant for genocide.” The “Protocols” were introduced into the Middle East in Arabic translation in the 1930s by, among others, the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husayni, who spent World War II in Berlin, producing Arabic broadcasts for the Nazis.
“The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” continues to be reprinted and widely read. In 2002, a 41-part dramatic series called “Horseman Without a Horse,” which the Anti-Defamation League reported “portrays the ‘Protocols’ as historical fact,” was shown on Egyptian television during Ramadan. In 2003, a similar series called “Diaspora” was shown on a Lebanon-based satellite television network owned by the terrorist organization Hezbollah, also according to the Anti-Defamation League. The 1988 charter of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas warns that the Zionists’ “plan is embodied in the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion,’ and their present conduct is the best proof of what we are saying.”
Tragically, Europe, having largely cured itself of anti-Semitism, now finds it returning, carried by the very cultures that Europe itself infected with the virus. Fortunately, there are young Muslims, some of them ex-radicals, who are working for a more tolerant Islam, and in organizations such as the Coexist Foundation and New York University’s “Of Many” Institute for Multifaith Leadership, you find Jews and Muslims fighting anti-Semitism and Islamophobia together.
The real tragedy would be if the West continued to see anti-Semitism as a strictly Jewish problem. It isn’t. Jews die from it, but it isn’t about Jews.
The blood libel was the creation of Christians who believed in the Eucharist and feared that the power of the sacraments and the Church were slipping away. The “Protocols” were a fabrication of Russian czarists, dreaming of empire and glory while fearing that their world was about to be shattered by revolution. To understand hate, it is crucial to examine the hater, not the hated.
Roses left by mourners lie next to one of the many plaques detailing transports of Berlin Jews to concentration camps at the Gleis 17 (Track 17) last week in Berlin. ENLARGERoses left by mourners lie next to one of the many plaques detailing transports of Berlin Jews to concentration camps at the Gleis 17 (Track 17) last week in Berlin. Photo: Carsten Koall/Getty Images
Judeophobia in the Middle Ages led Christians to defeat in the Crusades. Anti-Semitism led Germany to self-destruction and moral shame. Today, anti-Semitism is a key ingredient in the poisonous mix of ideas that has turned so much of the Middle East into a cruel state of nature, a war of “every man against every man,” as Thomas Hobbes memorably described it. Hate harms the hated, but it destroys the hater.
A passage in Deuteronomy has momentous modern-day implications. Moses, nearing the end of his life, is addressing the next generation of Israelites, the people who will cross the Jordan River and enter the Promised Land. “Do not hate an Egyptian,” he tells them, “for you were a stranger in his land.”
This is one of the most counterintuitive verses in the Bible. The Egyptians had enslaved the Israelites and planned a slow genocide against them. Was this not a reason to hate them?
But Moses’ words are among history’s wisest political insights. If the Israelites had continued to hate their erstwhile persecutors, Moses might have succeeded in leading them out of Egypt, but he would have failed in taking Egypt out of them. The Israelites would still have been slaves: to their memories and resentments, their sense of humiliation—slaves, in short, to the past. To be free, you have to let go of hate. You have to stop seeing yourself as a victim—or else you will succeed only in making more victims.
Judaism, Christianity and Islam are religions of love, not of hate. We must listen and heed the survivor in Auschwitz this week when he said, “I don’t want to be here again”—for that is the end of the road that begins in hate. All of us—Jews, Christians and Muslims, brothers and sisters in Abraham’s family—must choose another way.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Is the Obama White House avoiding talking about "radical Islam," using the term "violent extremism" instead?

This question seems to pop up in many forms in the media recently, and will probably continue to be asked through the February White House meeting. Does it mean the White House fails to see accurately what is occurring?

If we fail to see and know what is so, can we respond adequately to what is occurring?

Here are some articles from different political perspectives:

And a French approach to "refusing to call a cat a cat" or "it is almost surreal to see how the White House avoids using the phrase ‘radical Islam.’"

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Relative/Universal : Dharma Talks on Five Ranks (GOI)

Opening Remarks 1/14/15
Five Ranks - 1, Relative in Universal/Absolute 1/15/15
Five Ranks - 2, Universal in Relative 1/16/15
Five Ranks - 3, Universal Alone 1/17/15
Five Ranks - 4, Summation 1/18/15

There Are No Bodhisattvas by Elihu Genmyo Smith

There are no Bodhisattvas.

And there is no one who is “not-a-Bodhisattva.”

There is Bodhisattvic functioning, Bodhisattvic manifesting. And there is greed, anger, deluded activity, harmful actions and self-centered functioning.

There is cause-effect inter-being, ongoing changing circumstances and conditions. In the midst of this, there is no self-centeredness, there is no Bodhisattva - this is life-death practice.

Of course, all of you are Bodhisattvas. This means all have the capacity of wisely responding and compassionate manifesting this moment.

When we see ourself or others in a solid fixed way this creates delusion and difficulties. There are many ways to describe the attachment “self-centering” which manifests as greed, anger, the confusion of dualism about “I am” and “am not.”Do these occur for you? What is the result?

When we are not trapped by stories of self and other, are not caught by habits of self-clinging and attachment, we all can compassionately respond, being this moment. Everyone you meet is capable of freely compassionately responding, being this ongoing cause-effect change, this ongoing interdependent inter-being. Everyone you meet – everyone! – is this Bodhisattvic functioning. Nevertheless, we and they can be blinded and caught, do harm and suffer. Holding to beliefs is what keeps us “caught.” Do you experience being “caught?” What is the resulting suffering?

Each moment we are the capacity of Bodhisattvic functioning and manifesting. When we sit, even though entangling thoughts and fears arise, our capacity to not hold to these is right here - as is the capacity to not entangle further in judging. It is up to you, to me, to see what is so and to do what is needed – and support this in our practice effort. Please nurture practice, please use the supports which are available, please be this life practice. Doing so, we are this moment ongoing change, the universe which is our life, which is breathing, listening. Being this, we are joyous.

Joy is not doing something extra – the only “thing” to “do” for joy is to not believe the stories we tell about “I am,” “he is,” “she did,” “they are going to.” When we solidify others with beliefs and stories, we solidify self. We may even solidify others as regards to whether “they are” or “are not” Bodhisattvas. When believing and solidifying occur, our Bodhisattvic practice is noticing this, experiencing and making appropriate and skillful effort. What is so? What is the practice effort needed here?

Is it not strange, the very “same” person who is compassionate one minute can be angry the next moment, caught in anger, causing harm to self and to others? But is this the “same” person?

All of us can be entangled in harmful reactions, causing harm and anguish to self and others. Being caught up in conditions, we may believe “this person is…” “that circumstance is…” Likewise, each of us can freely respond compassionately, manifest the wisdom of this universe true nature that we are - because we are the capacity of freely functioning ongoing change. This ongoing change is who we are - except if we believe that we are not this, if we believe we (or others) are solid, fixed, separate. Can we appreciate “our” or “their” Bodhisattvic functioning?

When we usually speak of Bodhisattvas, we use names such as Manju (or Manjusri), the manifestation of wisdom, or Avalokiteshvara (Kuan Yin in Chinese or Kanzeon in Japanese), the Bodhisattva compassionately responding to the cries of suffering. Avalokiteshvara takes many forms in responding and relieving suffering. There are sutras discussing the ways Avalokiteshvara appears as needed in responding to cries of those in circumstances which result in difficulties, harm and anguish.

Bodhisattvic means not-holding-to what I want or do not want; it is seeing what is called for and enabling beings, all beings, to be liberated from stress, anguish and suffering. This not-holding-to may manifest in receiving change for a purchase and saying “thank you” with a smile, acknowledging and appreciating. Bodhisattvic functioning takes many forms -washing this carrot, listening to another speaking, putting out a house fire, arresting a drunk driver, doing dishes or listening to the sound of traffic. This is our life, except when we disregard it and add self-clinging; then we miss this Bodhisattva “myriad things advancing and confirming self.”

Every being you encounter is capable of this, because every being you encounter (including you) is this Bodhisattva capacity. Noticing attachment, noticing when we are blinded and caught up in clinging and self-centeredness, is our opportunity to liberate all beings, all moments, to support and nurture Bodhisattvic manifesting. As Joko Beck says, “We must be determined that our lives develop a universal context and that the lives of others also develop that context.”

The Third Chinese Zen Ancestor Sengcan (Sosan), in the verses of Xinxin Ming, (On Faith in Mind) writes “Those who possess insight are always without doings/without characteristics”, (this is not holding on to characteristics), “only fools tie themselves into knots over conditions.” It is not that conditions and characteristics don’t arise. When they arise, we are present-arising - seeing them as they are; embracing, appreciating and doing what is called for now as best we can. Otherwise, as Sengcan writes, we go astray and then “stillness becomes confused and we lose insight.”Insight is seeing this life-death as is –and seeing how/where we become caught by likes and dislikes. What is crucial in our practice life is not the arising likes and dislikes, but the getting caught, the holding and acting out of this blinded one-sidedness.

Please know and appreciate our capacity and ability for Bodhisattvic functioning. Zazen, sitting and the myriad forms of Bodhisattvic functioning are experiencing this moment, opening to what arises and not solidifying it. This is not holding to stories about so-called past and so-called future. Each of us is this capacity; every person that you have ever and will ever encounter is this capacity. Even the most “terrible person” in your life also has the capacity of Bodhisattvic functioning - not because they do something special, but because when the blinders and hindrances of self-centeredness dissipate, even for a moment – and they do because just as everything else, self-centeredness arises and passes – all are capable of smiling and saying “thank you.” Right here is Bodhisattvic functioning. Our job, our practice effort, is to nurture Bodhisattvic responses in our encounters throughout life – at home, at work and in all daily activities, as opposed to nurturing or feeding the fear and anger of self-centeredness.

Because we are ongoing change cause-effect which is interdependent, our efforts directly and indirectly, immediately or not so immediately, are what nurtures and supports the functioning of compassion and wisdom. Our effort supports our practice and that of others.

Below is the poem Life and Death is by Kosho Uchiyama, translated his successor, Shohaku Okumura.

“Water isn’t formed by being ladled into a bucket;
Simply the water of the whole universe has been ladled into a bucket.
The water does not disappear because it has been scattered over the ground;
It is only that the water of the universe has been emptied into the universe.
Life is not born because a person is born;
Life of the whole universe has been ladled into the hardened idea called “I”.
Life does not disappear because a person dies;
Simply the life of the whole universe has been poured out of this hardened idea of “I” back into the universe.”

This hardened idea of “I” is created of holding to self-centeredness or other-self; it is a cause-effect reactive habit such as worrying about conditions or being fearful because of attachment to ideas about life. When habits of self or other arise our opportunity is “not-holding-to” in experiencing the life of the universe and allowing and supporting Bodhisattvic functioning manifesting. This is our practice, the right-here-now endless dimension universal life.

Even awakening isn’t some sort of hardened idea – just arising this moment awakening of the universal endless dimension that we are. Trying to hold on to it is more clinging. Awakening, compassion, wisdom, Bodhisattva - we don’t need such words, but since we already use all sorts of words, these words are good antidotes to what might otherwise lead to anguish, fear and harm in believing and clinging to characteristics.

© 2015 Elihu Genmyo Smith

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Anti-Semitism Case Study: Jews, Muslims and France

An aspect of the terrorism by self-identified radical Islamists in France this week is the virulent anti-Semitism  in the attack on the kosher store, evidenced by the statement by the terrorist Amedy Coulibaly  "when the broadcaster asked him why he had decided to attack that particular supermarket, he replied he wanted to target “some Jews.”

This anti-Semitism has been significant recently among Muslims, in Islamic teachings and especially among French Muslims.

Below are several articles extensively discussing this and the failure of French and Islamic authorities to take action, especially in light of the incitement by some Islamic leaders, even their use of religious justification for anti-Semitism.

These articles raise serious questions about the hatred that is anti-Semitism, Islamic teachings and how we can appropriately and skillfully respond to various events and reactions. What insures and supports safety and non-harming? What reduces hatred? What supports and nurtures true peace?

Here are the articles:

Even BBC seems to be confused about anti-Semitism and uses its own political agenda to question and even justify these attacks.

And here two short reports with embedded video about the responses of the French Jewish community to these attacks:

And here is a facebook website of attempts at Jewish Muslim reconciliation, with positive and negative comments:

As a part of almost contradictory aspects of Islam, anti-Semitism has a long history in Islam.  Serendipitously, we have two articles that focus on the Prophet Muhammad who "might justly be described as the Jekyll and Hyde of historical biography." The first is a review of  The Lives of Muhammad by Kecia Ali, Harvard,which opens with the following description of Muhammad, "devout Muslims see him as the model for human behavior, non-Muslims have seen him as lustful, barbarous or worse." 

The second is an essay by a scholar concerning the history of Muhmmad which likewise raises questions about the traditional account of the origins of Islam: 

As I said earlier, some these articles raise serious questions about the hatred that is anti-Semitism, Islamic teachings and how we can skillfully and appropriately respond to various events and reactions. 

Do you have any clarity regarding what insures and supports safety and non-harming? 

Since in this ever-changing world there are many sources of incitement and hatred, as these articles demonstrate, we are left with the ongoing question, what reduces hatred? 

And for our life practice, in all the many forms it takes, what can we do which supports and nurtures true peace?  

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Responding To Violent Political Islamism

How do we respond to violent terrorism by political Islamist?

At this time the details and actions are still unfolding. Nevertheless, there are already a number of very different media responses to the Islamist violence in Paris which killed 12 and injured many more in the attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

As a way to assist us to explore options and differences while broadening our perspectives, below are several very different articles.

Here is a Financial Times columnist's response which looks at the violence and the "blame of the victim" - and a very quick media response to it:

Here is the "official" Financial Times editorial:

Another media response is in New Yorker magazine by George Packer which also explores the issue of "who is to blame" but turns that question in an interesting way:

Here are two very different takes on the violence focusing on underlying principles and differences, how conflicts arise and possible solutions :

Since cartoons seem to have been the major offense which gave rise to this violence, here is a collection of cartoon responses as well as internal links to the originals and more:

Here is an interesting conclusion by Charles Hill about violent Islamism in an article published prior to the attack:

"John Kerry’s statement about ISIS having “no place in the modern world” was oblivious to the possibility that the modern world itself may be coming to an end. History is not predetermined to proceed always in a progressive, ever-better direction. If the current course of events and ideas is not reversed, the coming age will have abandoned its assumptions of open trade, open expression and the ideal of government by consent of the governed. Political Islam will be comfortable with itself at last."

Here is a collection of emails from the Doha Qatar based Al-Jazeera staff and editors which seems to reflect some of the conflicts between Islam and freedom of speech/freedom of press:

And here are the anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists:


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Unfortunately, fraud is becoming more common by governmental agencies on all levels. The subtitle of this editorial speaks for itself: "How fire investigators distorted evidence to loot a company."

The (federal) courts may dismantle a California settlement that was a product of fraud by prosecutors."

The full article is here:

Brandeis University Administration Acting Above Law In Prosecuting and Judging Students - Until Legally Challanged.

In another example which raises questions about "Who guards against abuses by the supposed guardians?", Brandeis University Dean Adams, almost a year since the original incident, "summoned (a student) to the dean’s office without (the student) knowing the Oct. 8 meeting’s purpose. “I’m told that there are charges against me under bullying, harassment and religious discrimination,” Mr. Mael recalls. “And I’m told that I have to give a response—guilty or not guilty—ideally within 48 hours.” A guilty determination could have led to his suspension or expulsion from school. Since this was around the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, Mr. Mael was given about a week to reply.

Crucially, Mr. Mael wasn’t allowed to keep a copy of the complaint. Dean Adams told him that this was routine “procedure,” Mr. Mael says. “How am I supposed to tell my parents that I’m being brought to court and by the way I don’t know what the charges are?” Mr. Mael recalls thinking. “This is antithetical to the values of our Constitution.”

University  Vice President Flagel "(stated) that it is university practice not to provide the accused with a copy of a complaint but added that this is “one of the things we’ve been evolving.” Regarding the right to counsel, Mr. Flagel said: “This is not a legal proceeding, so your assumption that there is a right is not in evidence.”

Nevertheless, Mr Mael did retain counsel. Only after extensive legal responses did the University suddenly change it's approach. "Dean Adams informed Mr. Mael via email that the “allegations against you will not be adjudicated through our Student Conduct Board. The accuser has withdrawn from the option to do so and therefore this case should be considered closed and without determination of fault or sanction. . . . Thank you for your cooperation.”

For the full article and comments see: