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The Irish Peace Society - Email exchange


The Irish Peace Society - Email exchange, Jan-Feb 2004

I criticised the "Irish Peace Society" in my pages on the Irish left, in the section on the Irish left's support for Palestinian Islamofascism - though it could just as easily have been in the section on the Irish left's support for Cuban communist dictatorship.

Certainly they fit into the broader category of opponents of the west in Ireland. If there's one thing they are not it is a neutral "peace" society. They have a political agenda, and it is anti-western-democracies, and pro-third-world-tyranny. Why rich, educated people in the free world would support such an agenda is a mystery now as it always has been.

The Irish Peace Society responded to my web page, and we had an email exchange. They decided to publish the email exchange on their site, so I thought I would put up my own copy.





My original criticism

My original criticism of the Irish Peace Society



Their original email

Dear Mr Humphrys,

Your website came to our attention via our website tracking software. While a discussion on the full contents may be engaging, we will limit ourselves to your comments on the Irish Peace Society. This contains some factual errors and a difference of opinion.

First, The Irish Peace Society is not linked to the Masters programme Peace & Development Studies. There is indeed a Masters in Peace & Development Studies offered at the University of Limerick but there is no official connection with our Society. There exists cross fertilization where some peace & development students are also member of the Irish Peace Society, but unlike the programme, the society is open to everybody: the society's members come from various backgrounds, including the humanities, sciences, arts and engineering - after all, peace is something many people seek to achieve, both in the region as in the world, as is reflected in the diversity in activities we organise and the charities that benefit from our fundraising activities.

Secondly, the educational tour to Lebanon comprised many interviews - not a "Hizbollah trip" (more about that below). We adhered to the schedule, which is also available on our website, i.e. the tour included meetings with various academics, UNIFIL representatives and NGOs, as well as donating funds raised to the orphanage the IrishBat used to support and the Toulin literacy project - hence not "visit every anti-Israel activist and killer they can find". The two main aims of the educational tour was to investigate a post-conflict environment, how a society deals with its aftermath and transforms during its reconstruction efforts, and to donate funds we raised in the months preceding the tour

Third, on Hizbollah. Unlike the majority of English language media suggest, Hizbollah is not a terrorist organisation. Aside from an academic approach on the notion of terrorism versus resistance organisation, the more practical matter of 'terrorists lists' is, that unlike the US, the EU does not designate Hizbollah as a terrorist organisation and the UN recognizes/d the struggle by the Lebanese against foreign domination by Israeli forces on Lebanese soil as legitimate (at present reduced to the disputed area called the Shebaa Farms). Hence, by referring to Hizbollah as "resistance organisation" is adhering to EU and UN nomenclature, no more no less. Interviewing means a detached interest - all of us know what they did and do - and try not to judge purely based on Western media propaganda. Regardless sympathy or not, Hizbollah constitutes more than being a military wing. They provide education, health care and training in sustainable agriculture (across the sectarian divide) for the Lebanese, among other activities, and as such are an intricate part of the fabric that make up post-war Lebanese society. In a sense, the organisation changed with a changing society, including providing eight MPs. You may disagree with the position of Hizbollah in Lebanese society, but from an academic perspective, they form part of the post-conflict society and therefore deserve attention, which does not imply support as you suggest. An understanding of motives from different perspectives can lead towards peace.

Indeed, one of our members referred to some activities of Hizbollah as 'legitimate resistance', however, this statement was made on a personal basis, not on behalf of the society; but your pro-Israel and Pro-US stance surely is not what every humanist thinks either. There are, so to speak, "more ways leading to Rome".

Informing oneself and listening to other viewpoints is not some crime or a proof of supporting an organisation or a person's opinion; it is gathering data and information to be able to create more informed opinions and better judgements of a situation, instead of relying on naivete and ignorance. Most things in life are not simple black-and-white distinctions, but shades of grey.

Third, we differ in opinion on Cuba. There are many factual errors in the media reporting about Cuba and the attacks on this sovereign state that managed to survive under the US embargo. Addressing your belief system on this matter could fill many pages and might be interesting if you desire to do so.

In accordance to the constitution of the Irish Peace Society, the Society is fundamentally a-political and non-discriminatory an all matters of race, ethnic origin, religion, sex and any other form of discrimination. This is reflected in the objectives of the Irish Peace Society, which seek to promote the study, appreciation and awareness of peace in the University of Limerick and elsewhere and to seek deeper understanding and appreciation of the methods of attaining peace. These objectives have been attained through the comprehensive activities of the society since its establishment in 1999.

Rest us to suggest you might like to read the weblog of our Lebanon tour, mostly written and updated while in Lebanon, on the peace.ie website, which provides a wide range of impressions of all participants; for current affairs in Lebanon consult the independent newspaper The Daily Star (www.dailystar.com.lb). More background information, placing conflicts and ideas in a wider historical and analytical perspective and to aid towards a more well-informed opinion based on a variety of sources can be found in e.g. the book Pity the Nation by Robert Fisk, the Centre for Lebanese Studies (www.lebanesestudies.com, based in Oxford) and/or the (by many Lebanese accredited) writings/teachings of Mousa Al Sadr. You also might like to check out the website www.bitterlemons.org for an easy accessible, open-minded approach based on dialogue, towards conflict resolution, where Arabs and Israelis share a discussion forum.

On behalf of The Irish Peace Society,
Marijke Keet, Webmaster
www.peace.ie



My reply

 

> Your website came to our attention via our website tracking software. While
> a discussion on the full contents may be engaging, we will limit ourselves
> to your comments on the Irish Peace Society. This contains some factual
> errors and a difference of opinion.

Dear Ms Keet

Always good to have a civilized dialogue.


> First, The Irish Peace Society is not linked to the Masters programme Peace
> & Development Studies.

I didn't say it was exclusively linked. But you are pretty firmly linked if professors from that Masters are taking their students on your trips:

http://www.peace.ie/media/dailystar.html

The students, who are a mixture of graduates and undergraduates, are from the Irish Peace Society at the University of Limerick. The majority of the students are registered in a Master's program in Peace and Development Studies and arrived here last Friday, accompanied by their professor, Victoria Firmo-Fontan. Firmo-Fontan brought them here to expose them to "the realities of the Middle Eastern conflict"

> There is indeed a Masters in Peace & Development
> Studies offered at the University of Limerick but there is no official
> connection with our Society. There exists cross fertilization where some
> peace & development students are also member of the Irish Peace Society, but
> unlike the programme, the society is open to everybody: the society's
> members come from various backgrounds, including the humanities, sciences,
> arts and engineering - after all, peace is something many people seek to
> achieve, both in the region as in the world, as is reflected in the
> diversity in activities we organise and the charities that benefit from our
> fundraising activities.
> 
> Secondly, the educational tour to Lebanon comprised many interviews - not a
> 'Hizbollah trip' (more about that below).

I didn't say otherwise.

I note you met no one pro-Israel or anti-Islamist, however.

Hardly the agenda of neutral "peace" activists.


> We adhered to the schedule, which
> is also available on our website, i.e. the tour included meetings with
> various academics, UNIFIL representatives and NGOs, as well as donating
> funds raised to the orphanage the IrishBat used to support and the Toulin
> literacy project - hence not "visit every anti-Israel activist and killer
> they can find".

I disagree. You visited a long series of anti-Israel activists, many of them actual killers. And nobody pro-Israel. Why?

> The two main aims of the educational tour was to investigate
> a post-conflict environment, how a society deals with its aftermath and
> transforms during its reconstruction efforts, and to donate funds we raised
> in the months preceding the tour
> 
> Third, on Hizbollah. Unlike the majority of English language media suggest,
> Hizbollah is not a terrorist organisation.

So who bombed Argentina then?

Not to mention scores of other attacks on civilians.


> Aside from an academic approach
> on the notion of terrorism versus resistance organisation,

I thought you were a "peace" society. Surely you would be against all killers?

Now I'm not against all killers myself. I'm in favour of the Israeli military for example. But then again I don't believe in peace and non-violence. I believe in western victory.

But you're meant to be different to me. You claim to believe in peace and non-violence. So how can you not condemn Hizbollah?

This would suggest to any neutral observer that you're not a disinterested peace society but an anti-west society. That seems to be your main motivation.


> the more
> practical matter of 'terrorists lists' is, that unlike the US, the EU does
> not designate Hizbollah as a terrorist organisation and the UN recognizes/d
> the struggle by the Lebanese against foreign domination by Israeli forces on
> Lebanese soil as legitimate (at present reduced to the disputed area called
> the Shebaa Farms). Hence, by referring to Hizbollah as "resistance
> organisation" is adhering to EU and UN nomenclature, no more no less.

I am aware of what the EU and UN say about Israel and the Middle East. I do not respect either body's opinions on foreign policy:

http://markhumphrys.com/un.html

http://markhumphrys.com/world.bodies.html#eu

Again, as a "peace" society you should not be whitewashing any violent organisation by calling them "resistance", even if you support their aims.


> Interviewing means a detached interest - all of us know what they did and do
> - and try not to judge purely based on Western media propaganda. Regardless
> sympathy or not, Hizbollah constitutes more than being a military wing. They
> provide education, health care and training in sustainable agriculture
> (across the sectarian divide) for the Lebanese, among other activities, and
> as such are an intricate part of the fabric that make up post-war Lebanese
> society. In a sense, the organisation changed with a changing society,
> including providing eight MPs. You may disagree with the position of
> Hizbollah in Lebanese society, but from an academic perspective, they form
> part of the post-conflict society and therefore deserve attention, which
> does not imply support as you suggest. An understanding of motives from
> different perspectives can lead towards peace.

Hizbollah:

  1. Are involved in war. Only yesterday:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A30022-2004Jan19.html

  2. Have a long history of deliberately killing civilian men, women and children. Or were the Jews at the Jewish community center in Argentina a "legitimate target", in your view?

  3. Are religious fascists who support an Islamist fundamentalist state in which human rights will not exist.

Any neutral "peace" society would have a lot to say about that.

You visited a country in which, unlike Israel, there are no human rights:

[2004 Freedom House report - "Not Free"]

and you had nothing to say about it. Why have you nothing to say about the lack of civil liberties in Lebanon discussed by Freedom House?


> Indeed, one of our members referred to some activities of Hizbollah as
> 'legitimate resistance', however, this statement was made on a personal
> basis, not on behalf of the society; 

I'm aware of that. That's why I link to the quote.

Again, it shows what kind of "peace" society you are that you did not condemn him.


> but your pro-Israel and Pro-US stance
> surely is not what every humanist thinks either. There are, so to speak,
> "more ways leading to Rome".
> Informing oneself and listening to other viewpoints is not some crime or a
> proof of supporting an organisation or a person's opinion; it is gathering
> data and information to be able to create more informed opinions and better
> judgements of a situation, instead of relying on naivete and ignorance.

So why not read some pro-Israel and anti-Islamist literature?

Why not put down your Robert Fisk and read some Daniel Pipes?

Check out my page for an alternative to your simplistic Israel=Bad, Islamic fundamentalism=Good, world view:

http://markhumphrys.com/judaism.html

You sound so reasonable, maybe there is hope for you! Hopefully you'll be like me in 10 years time.


> Most
> things in life are not simple black-and-white distinctions, but shades of
> grey.
> 
> Third, we differ in opinion on Cuba. There are many factual errors in the
> media reporting about Cuba and the attacks on this sovereign state that
> managed to survive under the US embargo.

Who cares if it's a sovereign state? It's an unelected communist tyranny in which there are no human rights, no freedom of religion, no free speech, and no freedom to leave. It should be attacked, and its government overthrown. Everyone who cares about the human rights of the Cubans should support that.

Or should support "resistance" against Castro, in your terms.

Again, it seems to me your core value is not being pro-peace and not pro-human rights. It's being anti-west. It's the fact you call yourself a "peace" society that bothers me.

Why not call yourself the Irish Anti-West Society?


> Addressing your belief system on
> this matter could fill many pages and might be interesting if you desire to
> do so.
> 
> In accordance to the constitution of the Irish Peace Society, the Society is
> fundamentally a-political 

It doesn't look it. Why have you no one anti-Castro or pro-Israel?

> and non-discriminatory an all matters of race,
> ethnic origin, religion, sex and any other form of discrimination. This is
> reflected in the objectives of the Irish Peace Society, which seek to
> promote the study, appreciation and awareness of peace in the University of
> Limerick and elsewhere and to seek deeper understanding and appreciation of
> the methods of attaining peace. These objectives have been attained through
> the comprehensive activities of the society since its establishment in 1999.
> 
> Rest us to suggest you might like to read the weblog of our Lebanon tour,
> mostly written and updated while in Lebanon, on the peace.ie website, which
> provides a wide range of impressions of all participants; for current
> affairs in Lebanon consult the independent newspaper The Daily Star
> (www.dailystar.com.lb). More background information, placing conflicts and
> ideas in a wider historical and analytical perspective and to aid towards a
> more well-informed opinion based on a variety of sources can be found in
> e.g. the book Pity the Nation by Robert Fisk, the Centre for Lebanese
> Studies (www.lebanesestudies.com, based in Oxford) and/or the (by many
> Lebanese accredited) writings/teachings of Mousa Al Sadr.
> You also might like to check out the website www.bitterlemons.org for an
> easy accessible, open-minded approach based on dialogue, towards conflict
> resolution, where Arabs and Israelis share a discussion forum.

I've seen some of those. Will look at others. I do read your kind of stuff. That's how I ended up on your site.

For my part, I recommend:

http://www.DanielPipes.org/

http://www.martinkramer.org/

http://www.meforum.org/

Alan M. Dershowitz (articles, book "The Case for Israel")

The Peace Encyclopedia

The Jewish Virtual Library

Thanks for keeping the conversation civilized!

Mark Humphrys



Their reply

Dear Mr Humphrys,

As it is exam time and the last preparations are being made for the tour to Costa Rica, most people are very busy as you may understand, therefore the opinions in this email are mainly mine because I did not want to create too long a lag after receiving your response.

The organiser of the tour, Victoria Firmo-Fontan, was at the time 3rd year PhD student and lecturing one of the course modules; teacher/tutor/lecturer is in several languages translated as professor. The tour was not organised by the University of Limerick but an activity of the Irish Peace Society and as such categorised as extracurricular activity (the field trip that formed part of the MA curriculum was to Northern Ireland).

We have interviewed people with various backgrounds, some of whom you categorise as extremists, though also some impartial and yet others with a moderate opinion who do not take the dualistic approach of either/or but have the position that the conflicts will need to get resolved together. In my opinion, it sure would have been interesting to visit Israel as well, but if I were to visit Israel, I will not be allowed to travel to several other Middle Eastern countries. Staunch supporters of the present Israeli regime are quite uncommon in Lebanon, which is understandable considering recent Lebanese history: it was only just about 3 years ago that the Lebanese (to the credit of Hizbollah, whether you like it or not) liberated themselves from Israeli occupation, except for the Shebaa Farms, and even to date Israel violates Lebanese sovereign territory (up to 60 times last year). Furthermore, in present day Western society we do receive much more pro-Israel information and their perspective on conflicts than from other actors in the conflict, whose events and interpretation often is ignored and/or distorted.

One of the factors in working towards peace and reconciliation is to allow other people to have their say about their perspectives and to treat them as equal human beings. By condemning without listening, as you seem to do, one cannot build lasting positive peace for the benefit of all involved, merely hope for - or fight and suppress to achieve - an absence of violence. Generally, the 'losers' do not like to lose (be suppressed, humiliated, killed and so forth), and what goes around eventually will come around, likely to be x-fold more severe.

More of such exchanges like the tour to Lebanon, and reporting on the multiple sides of a story may induce mutual understanding, in turn leading to reconciliatory efforts, so that the people involved can start living, achieving one's potential that is constructive to society, instead of the world being crippled by fear, hatred and destruction.

Non-violence and "against all killers" is both from the perspective of 'practical ethics' and philosophy interesting. Some believe violence can never be justified, others see it as a last resort in self-defence when all else fails. We have noted these interpretations and organised a discussion evening concerning this topic (see e.g. our website at http://www.peace.ie/pastacts/violence.html, used as the starting point of the discussion) and is at the time of writing not a foregone conclusion for the society as a whole, either way. However, obviously, we all renounce violence for a purpose that is more than self-defence as defined by the UN. Regardless my opinion on Hizbollah, I would have expected from you the position of "know thy enemy", which does not mean relying on prejudice. You rely on Western 'intelligence reports', whereas what we did was informing ourselves, gather information from various sources and then moving towards making informed opinions. That is definitely not an "anti-west" position. It comprises, however, of taking a critical approach analysing and reflecting the world around us, something considered by too many people in the West as too laborious because it is much easier to stick to one idea and not questioning its validity; with knowledge comes responsibility.

A little note on the "why have you no one anti-Castro or pro-Israel": we do not have any vetting procedure whatsoever for who is/is not allowed to become a member, although not that "Membership is open to all students and staff of the University who share the objectives of the Society and who accept to undertake and uphold these objectives" is in our constitution (http://www.peace.ie/PeaceSocConstitution.pdf), including objectives mentioned in the previous email. To clarify one thing: I haven't heard people within the society who want to end the existence the State of Israel, because that would not be a sustainable solution; disagreeing with its destructive and dehumanising policies, yes. These are two separate aspects and should not be confused with one another.

I have read some of the links you suggested, a few RAND publications and others alike, as well as occasionally The Economist and similar publications - indeed as you say "to read your kind of stuff" (plus media in languages such as Spanish, German and Dutch). In my thesis, I even applied game theoretical models to terrorism - possible paths to resolution that is (downloadable from my website, in case you feel utterly bored).

You may have noticed I have not responded to all of your comments, as some of them are, I think, outrageous and/or utterly uninformed and/or dogmatic and/or naive (which does not imply I did not think that of the ones that I did respond to), and are so far apart that it may not be feasible to resolve in an instant with the occasional email at our disposal.

Nevertheless, I intend to post our conversation on our website - like we have done with other responses we have received before. I presume you will agree with this intention.

Regards,
Marijke Keet, Webmaster
Irish Peace Society



My reply


>  In
> my opinion, it sure would have been interesting to visit Israel as well, but
> if I were to visit Israel, I will not be allowed to travel to several other
> Middle Eastern countries.

Not allowed by who?

> Staunch supporters of the present Israeli regime
> are quite uncommon in Lebanon, which is understandable considering

.. considering that Lebanon is not a free country:

[2004 Freedom House report - "Not Free"]

Funny that in America, one can find pro- and anti-American speech. In Israel, one can find pro- and anti-Israel speech.

But in the Lebanon, there is only one type of speech.

Why are there pro-Israel and pro-Palestine campaigners in the west, but in the Arab world there are only pro-Palestine campaigners? Is it because in hundreds of millions of people there are no dissenting voices? Or is it that we allow free speech and they don't.

Doesn't it bother you that there are no pro-Israeli voices in the Lebanon?
Are there any atheist groups there?
Are there any gay rights groups?
Could such groups exist without fear for their lives?
Doesn't it bother you that the Lebanon doesn't allow such speech?

If I'm wrong, if pro-Israel, pro-gay or pro-atheist groups exist not just in Lebanon but in fact anywhere in the entire Arab Muslim world, please let me know and give me their URLs. Because I'm not aware of a single one.

If none exist, why not?


>  it was only just about 3 years ago that the Lebanese (to
> the credit of Hizbollah, whether you like it or not) liberated themselves
> from Israeli occupation

I see. Your mask of neutrality slips and you emerge as an open supporter of Islamofascist violence. You are what I thought you were.

As I say, you're not a Peace Society.

This looks more like the true history of Lebanon to me:

The Peace Encyclopedia
Lebanon
Hamas and Hezbollah


> One of the factors in working towards peace and reconciliation is to allow
> other people to have their say about their perspectives and to treat them as
> equal human beings. By condemning without listening, as you seem to do

You seem to believe you are on some kind of search for objective truth. It does not seem that way to me. You seem to have very fixed pre-conceptions about the situation. Surprisingly (I am being sarcastic), these correspond to all the acceptable trendy left-wing anti-Israel prejudices.

Your opinions are the norm on every western campus. I have never seen a poster supporting Israel on my campus, or indeed anywhere in public in Ireland. I have seen a million posters against Israel.

I am a rebel, in supporting Israel despite being an atheist.
You are just going with the herd.

We'll just have to talk again in 10 years and see if you still have the same beliefs. In the meantime, I remain totally unimpressed by your claims to be some kind of "peace" society. You have taken sides. And you are on the wrong side.


> However, obviously, we all renounce
> violence for a purpose that is more than self-defence as defined by the UN.

It's not obvious at all. I don't hear you condemning the Hezbollah killing of Jewish civilians in Argentina, for example.

How do you think victims of that attack feel when they see your site?


> I intend to post our conversation on our website - like we
> have done with other responses we have received before. I presume you will
> agree with this intention.

Alright. I'll probably post it on my website as well.

Mark



Their reply

Mr Humphrys,

I have been thinking about how to respond to this personal attack: discussing differences of opinion is fine by me, but twisting words and slander is not my modus operandus, therefore will keep this last response brief.

"Not allowed by who?" - that is related to the visa application requirements for some countries in the Middle East, including Lebanon.

"But in Lebanon, there is only one type of speech" - Untrue. There are about 16 sects, represented in the Parliament as well as the governmental structure of the country, and they certainly do not agree on every topic. There is so much more diversity in the country than meets the eye; maybe even more than in Ireland.

On the question, "Doesn't it bother you that there are no pro- Israeli voices in the Lebanon?" I will pose a counter-question: Do you find it strange that there is no large community of pro-British people in Ireland?

My "mask of neutrality" did not slip when accrediting Hizbollah for their involvement in driving out an occupier. It is a fact, and thus no more than a statement of this fact, which bears no relation to my neutrality position. From a philosophical perspective, it is difficult to position oneself on such matters and such thought processes cannot be captured in one-liners.

On the absence of posters proclaiming support for Israel, did you consider that there are actually valid reasons for not supporting a violent and bigoted government? I did not support e.g. the apartheid regime in South Africa either; would that make me - in your parlance - an anti-white, anti-protestant zulu-o-fascist? No. It means recognising that suppressed people have a right to live, a right to be treated as human beings on an equal stance as myself - treat others as you would like to be treated.

"talk again in 10 years". Hah! It might come as a mild disappointment, but I already am about 10 years older than the average student is. I am aware there exist students who go with the flow just like they will after their time in Academistan; there always are - in any (sub)culture. Society consists of leaders, followers and a few dissenters. I am me, and I really do not care about if you categorise me as leader, follower or dissenter. You seem quite proud of yourself being a "rebel"; I would suggest you inform yourself a little more on the Middle East, think over what you already know and have learned, reassess, and then devise your path - you are never too old to learn, no matter what age you are. Secondly, atheism and supporting Israel are disjoint factors. As an atheist one can 'pick and chose' one's own morals and ethics on an abstract level, whereas supporting policy measures is related to a political ideology - the separation of state and 'church'.

Regards,
Marijke Keet



My reply


> I have been thinking about how to respond to this personal attack:
> discussing differences of opinion is fine by me, but twisting words and
> slander is not my modus operandus, therefore will keep this last response
> brief.

I don't think I've twisted your words. You said:

>>>  it was only just about 3 years ago that the Lebanese (to
>>> the credit of Hizbollah, whether you like it or not) liberated themselves
>>> from Israeli occupation

"liberated" - it's your word, not mine.
"to the credit of Hizbollah"

This sounds like support for Hizbollah violence against Israel.

Contradict me by saying explicitly that the Hizbollah violence against Israel was wrong.
Please condemn Hizbollah's killings in Argentina.
It is not obvious at all that you condemn these things. I shouldn't have to force this out of you. These condemnations should be on your website already.

I am making two points:

  1. Point no.1 - You are not neutral. This rubbish about "liberation" is not neutral language. There are many other points of view, as illustrated for example by:
    Lebanon
    You have taken a position. A trendy anti-Israel position.

    Of course, I'm not neutral myself. I take a position too. But you claim to be some neutral "peace" society. This is wrong. You are not neutral. You are left-wing, anti-west, anti-Israel, and pro-Islamism for some reason. Maybe, in your world, all "right-thinking people" agree with that line. Whatever. My point is just that you aren't neutral.

  2. Point no.2 - You are not a peace society. You support violence. Just different violence to me.

    As I said originally, any true pacifist would have a lot to say about Hizbollah.


> "Not allowed by who?" - that is related to the visa application requirements
> for some countries in the Middle East, including Lebanon.

This was just a genuine question. I was curious.

So Arab countries won't let you in if you've visited Israel? Isn't that something you might criticise?


> "But in Lebanon, there is only one type of speech" - Untrue. There are about
> 16 sects, represented in the Parliament as well as the governmental
> structure of the country, and they certainly do not agree on every topic.
> There is so much more diversity in the country than meets the eye; maybe
> even more than in Ireland.

You have completely dodged the question. Give me the URLs of pro-Israel groups in the Lebanon.

> On the question, "Doesn't it bother you that there are no pro- Israeli
> voices in the Lebanon?" I will pose a counter-question: Do you find it
> strange that there is no large community of pro-British people in Ireland?

OK here's the URLs of some pro-British groups in Ireland:

The Reform Movement
http://www.reform.org/

Irish Unionist Alliance.
http://www.irishunionism.org/

TCD Unionists
http://www.csc.tcd.ie/~unionist/

The Irish Association
http://www.irish-association.org/

Or take me for example. I display a Union Jack on my main home page. I argue that Ireland should be a formal ally of Britain. And I am not afraid of being attacked. Because Ireland is a free country. Like Britain. Like America. Like Israel. And unlike Lebanon.

Consider also the vast sales of British newspapers in every shop in Ireland. I tend to buy British newspapers myself. I assume you can get the Israeli newspapers in Lebanon? Please, answer me. You were there. Can you buy the Israeli papers there?


OK I've answered you about pro-British groups in Ireland. I could equally give you URLs for pro-Palestine groups in Israel.

Now your turn. Give me the URLs of pro-Israel groups in the Lebanon.

In fact, please send me the URLs of any pro-Israel, pro-atheist or pro-gay website in Lebanon or the entire Arab Muslim world.

I can give you URLs for pro-Palestinian, pro-atheist and pro-gay sites in Israel. I can give you URLs for pro-British, pro-atheist and pro-gay sites in Ireland.

Please show me URLs for any pro-Israel, pro-atheist or pro-gay sites in any country in the Arab world.

Maybe my view is too bleak. I am willing to accept that such sites may exist in the Arab world. I wish they did. If you can't find any for me, then maybe, sadly, my bleak view of the Arab world is correct.


> My "mask of neutrality" did not slip when accrediting Hizbollah for their
> involvement in driving out an occupier. It is a fact, and thus no more than
> a statement of this fact, which bears no relation to my neutrality position.

It is not a fact to refer to Israel as an "occupier". It is a political position. I can't believe you don't see this.

It is not a fact to refer to Israeli withdrawal as "liberation", or to Hizbollah as "resistance". It is a political opinion. I can't believe you don't see this.

You are not neutral. And you still fail to condemn Hizbollah violence.


> On the absence of posters proclaiming support for Israel, did you consider
> that there are actually valid reasons for not supporting a violent and
> bigoted government? I did not support e.g. the apartheid regime in South
> Africa either; would that make me - in your parlance - an anti-white,
> anti-protestant zulu-o-fascist? No. It means recognising that suppressed
> people have a right to live, a right to be treated as human beings on an
> equal stance as myself - treat others as you would like to be treated.

You're wrong. The left is making a terrible mistake on this issue. Just as it made a terrible mistake on communism.

The Israeli state is something every liberal in the world should support. It is a tiny outpost of liberal values in the human rights desert of the Middle East. It's the only place in the Middle East we could have this conversation, for example, and you know it. If you deny it, provide me with the URLs I asked for above.

And none in Iraq please. That's cheating. Iraq is becoming the 2nd Israel - the 2nd free country in the Middle East. Check out some free voices in Iraq:

http://messopotamian.blogspot.com/
http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/
http://iraqataglance.blogspot.com/
http://www.healingiraq.com/


Anyway, my main point was this: Your opinions are mainstream. They are just the standard, trendy, Robert Fisk party line you hear on every campus.

You did not deny this. You just said the mainstream was right.

I disagree, and explain why in great detail at:

http://markhumphrys.com/judaism.html

http://markhumphrys.com/laws.html

http://markhumphrys.com/islamic.fascism.html

http://markhumphrys.com/world.html

And for discussion of well-meaning but misguided westerners like you:

http://markhumphrys.com/modern.left.html

http://markhumphrys.com/left.islamic.html

http://markhumphrys.com/mind.left.html

http://markhumphrys.com/irish.left.html


Sorry for assuming you are younger than me. But most of your members probably are.

I understand why people believe what you believe. I've been there myself. I was anti-Israel when I was young. I only became pro-Israel at the age of 33.

Learning that the anti-Israel position is wrong is a rite of passage as you get older and wiser to the ways of the world, like learning that the socialist position is wrong. In fact, it would not be too bold to say that almost everything your society stands for is wrong.

All the best

Mark



Their reply

Hi Mark,

I still intended to respond on your last email. Here are already some links to websites you doubted that exist:

Lebanese Equality for Gays and Lesbians (LEGAL) - nonprofit private organization serving the Lebanese gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community: http://www.legal.20m.com/

on religions (and absence of it), a brief introduction:
http://atheism.about.com/library/FAQs/islam/countries/bl_LebanonReligion.htm
and e.g.: http://www.lebanonwire.com/0303/03031719DS.asp
and a whole bunch of links and essays to all sorts of religions in Lebanon:
http://peacefountain.com/god/lebanon.htm

and on jews in lebanon and other countries:
http://www.the-lebanon.com/directory/Religions/Judaism/

e.g. al-manar tv at http://www.manartv.com/, who have hebrew tv news on the sattelite.

pro-israel: the SLA [south lebanese army] used to be and Maronites every now and then, but see also the atheist link above.

and I saw your link with hizbollah links to everything but their own website, http://www.hizbollah.org.

Marijke



My reply


> Hi Mark,
> 
> I still intended to respond on your last email.
> Here are already some links to websites you doubted that exist:

Thanks for sending me these. As I say, maybe my view of the Middle East is too bleak. I'd love to be proved wrong.

> Lebanese Equality for Gays and Lesbians (LEGAL) - nonprofit private
> organization serving the Lebanese gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender
> community: http://www.legal.20m.com/

No, this doesn't count. It's not based in Lebanon. It's based in the only place where Lebanese can live in freedom - the West. They say:
We would like to encourage you to join us in our quest to stop the discrimination that faces us in our beloved country Lebanon!

Unfortunately, Due to current legal prohibitions under the Lebanese legal code, the Institute is based in the USA, Canada and Australia with representatives and sister organizations in many other countries.

20m.com is in the USA:
                       20m.com 
                       249 E. Tabernacle #104 
                       St George, UT 84770 
                       US 
                       435-652-9655 
The Lebanese group's contact address is an email address in the USA.
They also say:
For protection purposes the LEGAL Institute and the GayLebanon group, cannot publish the names of its members. For the same reasons, we cannot provide mailing addresses.
In other words, although some members may live in Lebanon, there is no postal address there, no email address there, no website there, and not a single group member who even publishes their name. There is no open presence of this group in Lebanon at all.

Because groups like Hizbollah would not allow it. Hizbollah would execute these people if it could.

This proves my point. I did not believe that any pro-gay group could exist in Lebanon. Not in the US. In Lebanon.
I still don't believe one can exist. If one exists, show me.

I'll reply to the rest of your message when I get a chance.

Mark



My further reply

Hi Marijke

OK let's see your other links.


> on religions (and absence of it), a brief introduction:
> http://atheism.about.com/library/FAQs/islam/countries/bl_LebanonReligion.htm

Why is this URL interesting? There is no mention of atheism in Lebanon on it.

> and e.g.: http://www.lebanonwire.com/0303/03031719DS.asp 

This page says:
A person has the right to profess any faith he chooses to adopt. He further has the right to proclaim that he is a non-believer, but it isn't clear if he has the right to profess deism or atheism as Lebanon lacks the required secular civil structures.
Thanks for making my case for me. You are proving that Lebanon is as I imagine it to be. Could I freely publish my atheism page there:
http://markhumphrys.com/atheism.html
It is obvious that I could not. Why should I respect a country that denies my religious freedom?

And you are still ignoring my challenge. If we remember the original challenge, it is basically: Find me the URL or email or postal address of a single openly atheist group or individual in the entire Arab Muslim world. You haven't found me any yet.


> and a whole bunch
> of links and essays to all sorts of religions in Lebanon:
> http://peacefountain.com/god/lebanon.htm

Why is this link relevant? There is nothing about atheism on it.

> and on jews in lebanon and other countries:
> http://www.the-lebanon.com/directory/Religions/Judaism/

Not a single one of these groups is actually in the Lebanon (or any Arab country) from what I can see. They are all in the free world. Find me a single pro-Israel website or group or individual that is actually in the Lebanon today.

The site I already linked to:

Jews in Islamic Countries: Lebanon
says of the tiny handful of Jews left in Lebanon:
"Because of the current political situation, Jews are unable to openly practice Judaism."
Shouldn't that be something that should concern you, if you care about human rights?

> e.g. al-manar tv at http://www.manartv.com/, who have hebrew tv news on the
> sattelite.

Again, you're ignoring the point. This is hard-core anti-Israel news. "Hizbullah TV" as this site describes it approvingly:
http://www.inminds.co.uk/boycott-news-0359.html
I didn't ask for anti-Israel groups in Lebanon. I know they exist. I asked for pro-Israel groups.

> pro-israel: the SLA [south lebanese army] used to be and Maronites every now
> and then, but see also the atheist link above.

OK show me a single URL in Lebanon that is pro-Israel.

As you indicate, I believe there are pro-Israel people in Lebanon. There must be. What I want to know is can they speak without fear? If so, where? Show me a URL. Just one.


> and I saw your link with hizbollah links to everything but their own
> website, http://www.hizbollah.org.

My main link to Hizbollah is a link to a Google search. The very first hit on my link is hizbollah.org.

It's a worthless website since it doesn't tell you about what Hizbollah really are. For instance, there is no mention of Argentina:

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&num=100&safe=off&q=site%3Awww.hizbollah.org+argentina
Mark



Al-Manar - Jihad TV

It turns out I was far too easy on Marijke about Al-Manar TV.

This TV station - cited by Marijke as an example of tolerance of Jews in the Middle East - is in fact hardcore, Jew-hating, America-hating, suicide-glorifying, jihadi TV:




Their further email

another quick google-search revealed:

the status of same-sexsexual activity in e.g. egypt and jordan is legal:
http://www.gaymiddleeast.com/

with a lot of information on 'basic info', more detail on legal status, 'gay and islam' etc.
http://www.al-bab.com/arab/background/gay.htm

and status per country in the middle east:
http://www.ilga.org/Information/Legal_survey/middle%20east/world_legal_survey__middle_east.htm
you may like to compare that with the status in Irland:
http://www.ilga.org/Information/legal_survey/europe/ireland.htm
or the (empty) US page:
http://www.ilga.org/Information/legal_survey/americas/united_states_.htm
or e.g. the Netherlands:
http://www.ilga.org/Information/legal_survey/europe/netherlands.htm

a slightly more 'walk the walk' site:
http://www.gayegypt.com/gayegypt/

bear in mind though, that Internet use is considerably lower and slower in most countries in the Middle East (which you probably will turn around into your advantage), hence also Internet presence in creating/maintaining websites less dense than in the West.

BTW, and what we mentioned in the first letter, hizbollah carries out much more activities than killings: there's a military wing for defending the country against foreign occupation (arguably a task for government structures, but when there is some level of violence against Israel, the government condones/supports it); but the larger part of the organisation is involved in agriculture, education, health care and so forth.

marijke



My reply


> another quick google-search revealed:
> 
> the status of same-sexsexual activity in e.g. egypt and jordan is legal:

Have a look at:
http://www.gaymiddleeast.com/country/egypt.htm
It is a description of horrific repression:
A recent roundup in Cairo of men suspected of having sex with men, and the continued imprisonment of men already convicted, show that Egypt's crackdown on homosexuals continues unabated, Human Rights Watch said today.

In yet another massive crackdown, police in Egypt arrested 62 men from a well-known gay cruising area, booking each of the men on charges of "debauchery," a euphemism for homosexuality.

and so on.

Still, you seem to be right that under certain conditions homosexuality is legal in Egypt. Thanks for drawing my attention to this. This is the first thing you have said that shows the Arab Middle East is not quite as bleak as I thought. This site explains the situation:

http://www.mask.org.za/sections/AfricaPerCountry/abcnew/egypt/egypt_index.html
Basically, consenting homosexuals are jailed all the time. Just not all homosexuals.

Anyway, back to the challenge. Can you find me an open pro-gay group in Egypt (or anywhere else). Jordan might be our best chance:

http://www.gaymiddleeast.com/country/jordan.htm
but it seems it is not yet free enough to allow an openly gay club or group:
the most interesting point that sits Jordan ahead, that we have a "community" and we call it so. we do not have any league, a club or some specific place to gather in but we define ourselves as one community ... and yes, we have parties and fun gatherings ... mostly, held privately .. but there have been some parties who have been held in public places! so it was ok! as long as everybody held to normalities! for hang out places, yes, Books@cafe had its reputation as a gay HANG-OUT not a gay place, precisely, we do not have any gay place!
So we're still drawing a blank.

> http://www.gaymiddleeast.com/

This is like the previous site you sent. It's the gay community in the Middle East using the Internet to communicate because they can't communicate openly in their own countries. The website is based in the free world (in Germany):


                       domain: gaymiddleeast.com 
                       status: production 
                       organization: GME 
                       owner: shabi assaf getenio 
                       email: sgetenio@gmx.de 
                       address: Renatastr. 19 
                       city: Munchen 
                       state: Germany 
                       postal-code: 80634 
                       country: DE 
                       admin-c: sgetenio@gmx.de#0 
                       tech-c: sgetenio@gmx.de#0 
                       billing-c: sgetenio@gmx.de#0 
                       nserver: ns1.worldaxxs.net 
                       nserver: ns2.worldaxxs.net 
                       registrar: JORE-1 
                       created: 2003-03-06 21:00:24 UTC JORE-1 
                       modified: 2003-05-26 22:45:33 UTC JORE-1 
                       expires: 2005-03-06 15:00:10 UTC 
                       source: joker.com 

There is no postal address in the Middle East. The contact details are email addresses in Germany. I'm delighted that gays are organising for their rights like this, and I hope they win. But this is not a pro-gay group that is actually in the Arab world. Does one exist?

More in a second

Mark



My further reply


> with a lot of information on 'basic info', more detail on legal status, 'gay
> and islam' etc.
> http://www.al-bab.com/arab/background/gay.htm

All these sites seem to be in the USA or other parts of the free world. Are any of these sites actually based in the Arab world? Or failing that, do any of these groups have postal addresses in the Arab world?

It is no surprise that (a) gay Arabs and Muslims in the west organise, or (b) that gays in the Middle East use western websites and email to organise. So no need to send me more examples of either of these. I want to know: Is there a single Arab Muslim country where you can have an openly pro-gay bar, club, group, society, website or parade - as you can in Israel?


> and status per country in the middle east:
> http://www.ilga.org/Information/Legal_survey/middle%20east/world_legal_survey__middle_east.htm
> you may like to compare that with the status in Irland:
> http://www.ilga.org/Information/legal_survey/europe/ireland.htm
> or the (empty) US page:
> http://www.ilga.org/Information/legal_survey/americas/united_states_.htm
> or e.g. the Netherlands:
> http://www.ilga.org/Information/legal_survey/europe/netherlands.htm

What point are you trying to make? That there are Middle Eastern countries with more freedom of sexuality than Ireland, the US or Netherlands? If so, which countries? Name them.

> a slightly more 'walk the walk' site:
> http://www.gayegypt.com/gayegypt/

I hate to break it to you, but this one's based in the free world too:

                       Registrant: 
                       hickson, alisdare (GAYEGYPT-DOM) 
                       5 Arundel Close Battersea 
                       London, LONDON SW11 1HR 
                       UKR 

                       Domain Name: GAYEGYPT.COM 

                       Administrative Contact: 
                       hickson, alisdare (AHH649) alisdare@HOTMAIL.COM 
                       5 Arundel Close Battersea 
                       London, LONDON SW11 1HR 
                       UKR 
                       01715852502 fax: 999 999 9999 

They don't call it the free world for nothing.

Incidentally, that site says:

Police beatings, rape and torture of gay men is commonplace in Egypt.

Warning: Gay sex or any homosexual activity in Egypt puts you at risk of arrest, deportation or imprisonment and any sexual encounter is undertaken at your own risk.


> bear in mind though, that Internet use is considerably lower and slower in
> most countries in the Middle East (which you probably will turn around into
> your advantage), hence also Internet presence in creating/maintaining
> websites less dense than in the West.

Sure, but even if the website is in the west, is there a single gay group with a postal address in the Arab world?

> BTW, and what we mentioned in the first letter, hizbollah carries out much
> more activities than killings: 

That's lovely to hear.

> there's a military wing for defending the
> country against foreign occupation 

For heaven's sake. All Israel wants is to live in peace. Why do you think Israel went into Lebanon in the first place? An imperial land grab??

Why don't you do some reading (of someone other than Robert Fisk):


> (arguably a task for government
> structures, but when there is some level of violence against Israel, the
> government condones/supports it); but the larger part of the organisation is
> involved in agriculture, education, health care and so forth.

Throughout history, communist and fascist killers have been involved in other things, such as education, hospitals and public works. I never said Hizbollah do nothing except kill people. I said they are Islamist fascist terrorists who (a) kill women and children, and (b) aim to set up a fundamentalist Islamist state like Iran. Nothing you have said contradicts this.

Again, I am amazed that a "Peace" Society would defend violent people like Hizbollah.

Mark



Links



Conclusion

So far, the Irish Peace Society has failed to find me a single pro-Israel, pro-gay or pro-atheist group in the entire Arab Islamic world.

If one exists, please tell me.


Pro-Israel:


Pro-gay:


Pro-atheist:



The challenge: Find any pro-Israel, pro-gay or pro-atheist group in the entire Arab Muslim world





"Life is a lot happier when you donít hate as much"
- Kasim Hafeez, the pro-Israel British Muslim of The Israel Campaign,
on how he rejects the Jew-hatred and Israel-hatred he was brought up with.





 
Atheists should support Israel.


Gays should support Israel.


 
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