Arabic is a Dangerous Language

BBC NEWS | Americas | Arabic T-shirt sparks airport row

Apparently now if something is written in Arabic on a T-Shirt, that means that the person wearing it is a terrorist.

This would be funny if it wasn’t so disturbing.

Here’s what happened: An architect of Iraqi descent has said he was forced to remove a T-shirt that bore the words “We will not be silent” before boarding a flight at New York.

Mr Jarrar’s black cotton T-shirt bore the slogan in both Arabic and English.

Raed Jarrar said security officials warned him his clothing was offensive after he checked in for a JetBlue flight to California on 12 August.

Mr Jarrar said he was told a number of passengers had complained about his T-shirt – apparently concerned at what the Arabic phrase meant – and asked him to remove it.

He initially refused, arguing that the slogan was not offensive and citing his constitutional rights to free expression. After a difficult exchange with airline staff, Mr Jarrar was persuaded to wear another T-shirt bought for him at the airport shop.

“We Will Not Be Silent” is a slogan adopted by opponents of the war in Iraq and other conflicts in the Middle East.

It is said to derive from the White Rose dissident group which opposed Nazi rule in Germany.


2 articles on IRAN and US

Two Views

The U.S. and Iran: War or Dialogue?

No War With Iran

By Charley Reese

If we allow the Bush administration to drag this country into a war with Iran, we should all burn our voter-registration cards and go ahead and admit that we are no longer worthy of being citizens of a self-governing republic.

For heaven’s sake, the administration is employing the same tactics it used to justify the war against Iraq—refusal to negotiate, lies, disinformation and demonization of the Iranian leader. Are we going to fall for the exact same con job all over again? If so, we are far too dumb to be trusted near a voting booth.

Recently, a story was floated that the Iranians had passed legislation requiring religious minorities to wear an identifying badge. “Nazi, Nazi” cried the neocon warmongers. Trouble is, the story was completely false [see article p. 23]. No such legislation was passed, and this bit of disinformation was knocked askew by the representative of Iran’s Jewish community in the Iranian parliament.

The source of the story was an Iranian who had been a big shot when the shah was in power and is now with a public-relations firm that represents—surprise—many of the neoconservatives.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert also told a big whopper when he said Iran was only months away from making a nuclear bomb. No nuclear expert I’m aware of agrees with that assessment, and Olmert is no nuclear expert. Even assuming Iran wants a bomb, it is years away from being able to produce one.

It’s clear that the Bush administration has chosen war. One, it refuses to negotiate with Iran; two, it refuses to recognize Iran’s right, as a signer of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes; three, it has already set up an office in the Pentagon and another in the State Department to agitate for regime change; and four, it has begun its anti-Iranian propaganda campaign.

President Bush is a liar when he says he wants to use diplomacy to end the crisis. In the first place, he created the crisis; in the second place, he refuses to negotiate; and in the third place, he has, for all practical purposes, issued an ultimatum: Give up your right to enrich uranium, or we’ll attack.

No country in the world wants us to attack Iran except Israel. That’s no surprise. If the American people haven’t figured out that Israel exerts an undue and injurious influence on the American government, then that’s another reason for them to tear up their voter-registration cards.

And if driving toward war with Iran isn’t bad enough, the Bush administration has restarted the Cold War with Russia by its incessant criticism of Vladimir Putin’s government. I think, sometimes, that the whole Bush administration is out of touch with reality and should be on medication, starting with the president and vice president.

When you consider the wars, the profligate spending, the out-of-control debt and trade deficits, the refusal to control the borders, the alienation of most of the world and the constant spitting on the Constitution and civil liberties, you can conclude that this administration is going to destroy the United States as we know it. I don’t say that lightly. I never in a million years would have imagined that this administration would do what it’s done.

And if you are one of those arm-chair jingoists who thinks it’s fun to kill foreigners, just keep that thought in mind when you have to pay $10 a gallon for gasoline and the economy comes crashing down on your head. Sure, we can damage Iran’s nuclear facilities and kill a lot of Iranians, but we can’t do it and keep the oil flowing out of the Persian Gulf at the same time.

It isn’t out of concern for the Iranians that the rest of the world doesn’t want a war. It’s because other nations recognize the damage it will cause the world economy. It’s also because they recognize that this is a phony crisis, like Iraq’s mythical weapons of mass destruction.

Even if Iran developed a nuclear weapon, so what. We have thousands; the Israelis have hundreds. Iran isn’t going to attack anybody. It hasn’t attacked anyone in the past 100 years.

Charley Reese is a nationally syndicated columnist. This column was first syndicated June 2, 2006. Copyright ©2006 by King Features Syndicate, Inc. Reprinted with permission.

If Iran Is Ready to Talk, the U.S. Must Do so Unconditionally

By Jonathan Steele

It is 50 years since the greatest misquotation of the Cold War. At a Kremlin reception for Western ambassadors in 1956, the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev announced: “We will bury you.” Those four words were seized on by American hawks as proof of aggressive Soviet intent.

Doves who pointed out that the full quotation gave a less threatening message were drowned out. Khrushchev had actually said: “Whether you like it or not, history is on our side. We will bury you.” It was a harmless boast about socialism’s eventual victory in the ideological competition with capitalism. He was not talking about war.

Now we face a similar propaganda distortion of remarks by Iran’s president. Ask anyone in Washington, London or Tel Aviv if they can cite any phrase uttered by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the chances are high they will say he wants Israel “wiped off the map.”

Again it is four short words, though the distortion is worse than in the Khrushchev case. The remarks are not out of context. They are wrong, pure and simple. Ahmadinejad never said them. Farsi speakers have pointed out that he was mistranslated. The Iranian president was quoting an ancient statement by Iran’s first Islamist leader, the late Ayatollah Khomeini, that “this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time” just as the shah’s regime in Iran had vanished.

He was not making a military threat. He was calling for an end to the occupation of Jerusalem at some point in the future. The “page of time” phrase suggests he did not expect it to happen soon. There was no implication that either Khomeini, when he first made the statement, or Ahmadinejad, in repeating it, felt it was imminent, or that Iran would be involved in bringing it about.

But the propaganda damage was done, and Western hawks bracket the Iranian president with Hitler as though he wants to exterminate Jews. At the recent annual convention of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a powerful lobby group, huge screens switched between pictures of Ahmadinejad making the false “wiping off the map” statement and a ranting Hitler.

Misquoting Ahmadinejad is worse than taking Khrushchev out of context for a second reason. Although the Soviet Union had a collective leadership, the pudgy Russian was the undoubted No. 1 figure, particularly on foreign policy. The Iranian president is not.

The remarks are not out of context. Ahmadinejad never said them.

His predecessor, Mohammad Khatami, was seen in the West as a moderate reformer, and during his eight years in office Western politicians regularly lamented the fact that he was not Iran’s top decision-maker. Ultimate power lay with the conservative unelected Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. Yet now that Ahmadinejad is president, Western hawks behave as though he is in charge, when in fact nothing has changed. Ahmadinejad is not the only important voice in Tehran. Indeed Khamenei was quick to try to adjust the misperceptions of Ahmadinejad’s comments. A few days after the president made them, Khamenei said Iran “will not commit aggression against any nation.”

The evidence suggests that a debate is going on in Tehran over policy toward the West which is no less fierce than the one in Washington. Since 2003 the Iranians have made several overtures to the Bush administration, some more explicit than others. Ahmadinejad’s recent letter to Bush was a veiled invitation to dialogue. Iranians are also arguing over policy toward Israel. Trita Parsi, an analyst at Johns Hopkins University, says influential rivals to Ahmadinejad support a “Malaysian” model whereby Iran, like Islamic Malaysia, would not recognize Israel but would not support Palestinian groups such as Hamas, if relations with the U.S. were better.

The obvious way to develop the debate is for the two states to start talking to each other. Last winter the Americans said they were willing, provided talks were limited to Iraq. Then the hawks around Bush vetoed even that narrow agenda. Their victory made nonsense of the pressure the U.S. is putting on other U.N. Security Council members for tough action against Iran. Talk of sanctions is clearly premature until Washington and Tehran make an effort to negotiate. In advance of Condoleezza Rice’s June 1 meeting in Vienna yesterday with the foreign ministers of Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia, the factions in Washington hammered out a compromise. The U.S. is ready to talk to Tehran alongside the EU3 (Britain, France and Germany), but only after Tehran has abandoned its uranium-enrichment program.

To say the EU3’s dialogue with Tehran was sufficient, as Washington did until this week, was the most astonishing example of multilateralism in the Bush presidency. A government that makes a practice of ignoring allies and refuses to accept the jurisdiction of bodies such as the International Criminal Court was leaving all the talking to others on one of the hottest issues of the day. Unless Bush is set on war, this refusal to open a dialogue could not be taken seriously.

The EU3’s offer of carrots for Tehran was also meaningless without a U.S. role. Europe cannot give Iran security guarantees. Tehran does not want non-aggression pacts with Europe. It wants them with the only state that is threatening it both with military attack and foreign-funded programs for regime change.

The U.S. compromise on talks with Iran is a step in the right direction, though Rice’s hasty statement was poorly drafted, repeatedly calling Iran both a “government” and a “regime.” But it is absurd to expect Iran to make concessions before sitting down with the Americans. Dialogue is in the interest of all parties. Europe’s leaders, as well as Russia and China, should come out clearly and tell the Americans so.

Whatever Iran’s nuclear ambitions, even U.S. hawks admit it will be years before it could acquire a bomb, let alone the means to deliver it. This offers ample time for negotiations and a “grand bargain” between Iran and the U.S. over Middle Eastern security. Flanked by countries with U.S. bases, Iran has legitimate concerns about Washington’s intentions.

Even without the U.S. factor, instability in the Gulf worries all Iranians, whether or not they like being ruled by clerics. All-out civil war in Iraq, which could lead to intervention by Turkey and Iraq’s Arab neighbors, would be a disaster for Iran. If the U.S. wants to withdraw from Iraq in any kind of order, this too will require dialogue with Iran. If this is what Blair told Bush at the end of May, he did well. But he should go all the way, and urge the Americans to talk without conditions.

Posted at 10:08 pm by Scottie

Posted by Emily @ 08/31/2006 05:30 AM PDT
you really have mastered the art of being succinct

Posted by Johnny @ 08/31/2006 07:28 AM PDT

Let’s move over to the other site.

Posted by Scottie @ 08/31/2006 08:14 AM PDT
i signed up but we need to import our blogs here so we dont have to re-hash stuff

Posted by BP @ 08/31/2006 09:18 AM PDT
I can’t import, but I’m going to archive it somewhere…

We won’t have to rehash….do you guys like the other site better?

Posted by Aryamehr @ 08/31/2006 12:46 PM PDT
Mullah Khatami (the ex-President of the terrorist Islamic Republic) is coming to the United States:

The Iranian people are being killed by these terrorist mullah’s which the state department has listed as the world’s no. 1 state-sponsor of terrorism (be it foreign or domestic)!

Please do what you can to protest this terrorists invitation to the United States and if you are able to attend any demonstrations that will take place at the duration of his visit.

The United States foreign policy should be that of empowering the Iranian people not their oppressors which have held that country hostage for 27 years and commited mass murders without the international community so much as raising their objections.

Posted by BP @ 08/31/2006 01:07 PM PDT
Thanks, Aryamehr. Your perspective is appreciated. You’re right about one thing…we very often mix up the people with their regimes.

Please come back again.

Human Rights Watch and Israel’s attack on Lebanon

Please check out the article written by Executive Director of Human Rights Watch concerning the IDF’s indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks on Lebanon, which resulted in so many civilian casualties.

I wonder if the criticism of Israel by another Jewish person will be met with similar ad hominem attacks like the “self-hating Jew” charge, which is ridiculous in my mind.


Posted at 09:51 pm by Scottie

Posted by Emily @ 08/31/2006 08:43 PM PDT
This begs the question whether or not war can be waged without civilian casualties. Even with “smart bombs”, I doubt it…

An interesting article:

Human Rights Watch and Israel’s attack on Lebanon

Please check out the article written by Executive Director of Human Rights Watch concerning the IDF’s indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks on Lebanon, which resulted in so many civilian casualties.

I wonder if the criticism of Israel by another Jewish person will be met with similar ad hominem attacks like the “self-hating Jew” charge, which is ridiculous in my mind.

Hey LP

LP: the next generation!

Biden on Iraq

Finally a Democrat with a plan (thanks for contributing) . . .
I haven’t quite formulated my opinion of Biden in the ’08 Presidential contest – but I’m curious what the Logipundits think about his 5-point plan for Iraq that I just got an email on:
First, the plan calls for maintaining a unified Iraq by decentralizing it and giving Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis their own regions. The central government would be left in charge of common interests, such as border security and the distribution of oil revenue.
Second, it would bind the Sunnis to the deal by guaranteeing them a proportionate share of oil revenue. Each group would have an incentive to maximize oil production, making oil the glue that binds the country together.
Third, the plan would create a massive jobs program while increasing reconstruction aid — especially from the oil-rich Gulf states — but tying it to the protection of minority rights.
Fourth, it would convene an international conference that would produce a regional nonaggression pact and create a Contact Group to enforce regional commitments.
Fifth, it would begin the phased redeployment of U.S. forces this year and withdraw most of them by the end of 2007, while maintaining a small follow-on force to keep the neighbors honest and to strike any concentration of terrorists.

Posted at 09:32 am by DC Offline

Posted by Scottie @ 08/27/2006 08:20 PM PDT
The times I have seen Biden discuss issues, I have always found him to be well-informed, serious, and overall an intelligent guy that considers many perspectives. From the Democrats in office now, I think he is one of the better thinkers. I would consider Russ Feingold to be in a similar league.

I just read over his plan, and it seems pretty good. The plan considers many fractious points, and it might work.

The problem with the current admin with respect to Iraq is that there wasn’t any plan outside of the military plans.

Remember that the declaration by Pres Bush that major hostilities were over were a bit premature, and as time has rolled on, it seems that the current admin had no clear exit strategy.

I am quite up – in – arms about how I will cast my next Presidential vote. I like the Liberterians, I like Nader, I like Chuck Hagel, I could possibly vote for a Democrat for the first time in my life. I will certainly keep an open mind coming into the next election.

In retrospect, I distictly remember the Republican Nomination debates leading up to the ’00 election, and I vivdly remember Alan Keyes running circles around McCain and Bush in all debates, which I watched almost religiously. I thought he was the most intelligent, most articulate, most moral man in the running, and it’s a shame the Republican party didn’t have the sense to back the best candidate, which was Keyes, in my opinion. I can’t understand why …

I wonder how the US would be different today had Keyes been endorsed, and not you-know-who

Posted by Johnny @ 08/28/2006 07:46 AM PDT
I couldn’t agree more! A Scotty-Johnny consensus! I remember after every republican debate, every talk show would concede how brilliant and “articulate” (as a black man, you know) Alan Keyes was, and then you’d hear this exchange:

Pundit #1: “Yes, Keyes clearly was the most intelligent and eloquent. He was better able to articulate many positions that a majority of Republicans endorse, mainly smaller government, tax policy, and pro-life issues. I wonder if there would be any room in the Bush administration for so articulate a voice.”

Pundit #2: “Hold your horses there, buddy, not a single vote has been cast. McCain still has a shot, you know. But yes, Keyes does speak so very well, doesn’t he?”

If I’m not mistaken, you watched one of those debate in Red River New Mexico over either spaghetti or a fantastic chili…if I’m not mistaken the onions were chopped very, very finely that day.

Posted by Johnny @ 08/28/2006 07:49 AM PDT

I totally agree regarding Keyes. If I’m not mistaken you watched one of those debates in Red River New Mexico with a bowl of particularly good chili. I remember specifically how fine the onions were chopped on that day.

Posted by Johnny @ 08/28/2006 07:59 AM PDT
Scotty, I couldn’t agree more regarding Keyes.

Posted by BP @ 08/28/2006 06:04 PM PDT
LOL…on the other hand I’m going to keep the duplicate posts by Johnny…I think it’s funny that they got shorter and shorter…I think if he would have put a 4th one, it would have said, “Yep”.

Anyway…we did indeed watch one of those debates in New Mexico, and Keyes mopped the floor with all of them. Too bad he want WAY off the deep end in the 2004 election when he ran against Obama…did anyone catch any of that? I SERIOUSLY think NPR put something in his cereal.

(For instance if you’re a Republican black guy running in Chicago against a Democrat black guy, what’s the LAST subject you probably dwell on? Yep, you got it, slavery…and that’s ALL HE FRICKING TALKED ABOUT! It was so embarrassing.)

As far as Joe Biden, he does come across very intelligent when he talks about these issues. My main problem with him is that he backed Kerry AGGRESSIVELY in the last election and I thought that was a particularly bad idea. Typically the farther away he gets from an election the more sense he makes, and I agree that his plan does make some sense.

The number ONE thing I like about Biden, though, is that he speaks English. He’s VERY good at explaining himself in real language without slipping into that “Senatese” that Mr Kerry is so good at.

Not a huge Feingold fan, or necessarily a Hagel fan, but would vote for Hagel before McCain (whose attitude also changes drastically with the election cycles).

I do sincerely hope, though, that the Democrat party is smart enough to nominate a Feingold or a Biden…(there’s another one isn’t there?)…instead of a Clinton, Kerry, Edwards, etc…

And I hope the Republicans nominate virtually anyone but McCain.

Posted by BP @ 08/28/2006 06:06 PM PDT
OH…and I echo E’s comment…finally a Democrat with a plan…God bless Biden for that.

Posted by Scottie @ 08/28/2006 07:34 PM PDT

i do remember that chili that i cooked and it took like 3 hours longer for the beans to get ready because of the damn altitude

it was good though, especially after i insisted everybody add the sour cream and cheese


the good old days, when i was a devout republican with not a care in the world…

biden or feingold would be so much better than hillary, on the democratic side

i’ll move to france if that aipac ass-kisser gets elected

i still have a dream that one day americans can choose, not from the lesser of two evils, but among a group of candidates with open access to the microphone

when michael badnarik and ralph nader got arrested for trying to attend one of the presidential elections in 2004, (especially since badnarik was the candidate from the third largest party and was on the ballot of every single state) i realized that , despite the fancy packaging , the democratic ideal in the us isnt ideal at all.

Posted by BP @ 08/30/2006 09:36 AM PDT
Really? I didn’t hear that…you have a link to that? When you say Presidential election, what do you mean?

Posted by Emily @ 08/30/2006 09:28 PM PDT
Now all we need are more plans…I don’t particularly like this one, but at least someone had the balls to offer one. I say, bring it on.

1st and 2nd point: I’m assuming that every region, although separate will be unified because of oil? Isn’t that part of the problem? What happens when technology or what-have-you makes oil obsolete (I hope this happens sooner than later)? Also, the central govt. is supposed to control borders…which ones? The ones between the regions or between the countries? Sounds like the borders (both between the regions and the countries) could go the way of the Shebaa Farms fiasco (one of many possible examples, I’m sure).

Third Point–A Job program…who would provide jobs? the central government? Kinda vague here and a little communistic if the jobs come from the govt, eh? How would you collect reconstruction aid from the oil-rich Gulf States? Would they give it voluntarily, just like the “rich” in the US give their money voluntarily? Who are minorities here? Christians? Seems to me the minority in one region would prefer to go the region where they are the majority.

Fourth point–Can anyone say UN? I’m not confident with anything the UN declares; I don’t know why we’re wasting our tax dollars on it! A fault of an international conference can be seen, again, with Shebaa Farms.

Fifth point—don’t know much about militaristic strategy, but I do know that there aren’t any concentrations of terrorists; terrorists know better than to concentrate themselves. It’s their ability to operate sparsely that’s so problematic.

I think points 1-4, as a whole, demonstrate what the world does not like about the US and that is the world perceives us as wanting to be the conductor for the political and social aspects of the world (pseudo Imperialism).

Posted by Scottie @ 08/30/2006 10:01 PM PDT
YIPE !!!!!!!!!!

I meant presidential debates !

NOT election

badnarik and nader were arrested for trying to gain entrance to the last presidential debate

i was either tired or drinking a beer when i wrote that, and i honestly think it was the former

Lessons on Terrorism

Yet another article from the Boston Globe asking the question: Are we really at war with “Terror”?

As always, I appreciate your comments . . .

“Eleven suspects were brought to court in London this week, charged with involvement in the plot to blow up several airliners over the Atlantic. The foiling of their alleged conspiracy will inevitably be scrutinized for what it reveals about the terrorist threat five years after Sept. 11.

It should be reassuring that the plotters were not as well organized or as successful at keeping their plans secret as the Sept. 11 masterminds and the terrorists who did their bidding. If British and Pakistani officials are correct, knowledge of the airline plot was disseminated among scores of people. The conspirators failed to prevent a mole from infiltrating their network. And they were careless enough to permit U.S. agencies to intercept their communications.

If the scheme to use liquid explosives to blow up the airliners was conceived or directed by top Qaeda figures, as Pakistani intelligence has claimed, then it seems obvious that Osama bin Laden’s lieutenants are less capable of carrying out a complex terrorist spectacular than they were before they lost their sanctuary and training camps in Afghanistan.

If Al Qaeda was not orchestrating the airline scheme, or if Qaeda figures were involved only tangentially, the thwarting of the plot suggests that local terrorists and jihadists are best fought with sound intelligence”

They may be capable of mass killing, as the London train bombings last summer showed, but the threat they represent is very different from that of Stalin’s Soviet Union or Hitler’s Germany.

Inflating the danger from jihadi terrorists into an existential threat and invoking a grandiose third world war, as President George W. Bush and his advisers have been doing, only plays into the hands of bin Laden and the other deluded megalomaniacs hiding out with him in the mountains of South Waziristan.

– The Boston Globe

Posted at 06:27 am by DC Offline

Posted by Johnny @ 08/26/2006 09:49 AM PDT
Ok, so if this is directed by Al Qaeda, they are less effective because they don’t have Afghanistan as a base. So invading Afghanistan was the right thing to do?

If Al Qaeda is only tangentially involved, then sound intelligence is all that is necessary. So does the risk of listening to a few phone calls and e-mails between suspected terrorists outweigh the benefits of a “totally free society” in which the FBI/CIA and Scotland Yard wait for us to get attacked before doing anything? At any rate, the article is plainly evidence contradicting the earlier post that says we are less safe than we were pre-9/11.

Posted by Eric @ 08/27/2006 09:43 AM PDT

Thanks for the comment – but I think you’re seeking to discredit two posts at the same time by using points from one against the other, which logically can’t be done. I believe you’ll have to accept one as making a point you wish to agree with in order to use that point to discredit the other.

I believe the two articles are both valid. The contention being that policies that the administration utilizes do not make us safer – our frontal military assault as if Terrorists occupy some piece of land merely exacerbate the problem and create more terrorists. Therefore, more police-like intelligence-oriented operations should be used (as in the London op) to take out these cells one by one.

The President and VP like to say that people who embrace a police/law-enforcement approach have a “pre-9/11 mindset” and “don’t get it”, but I believe the point of both articles is that perhaps it is the Administration that “doesn’t get it” and may need to re-examine its approach.

Of course this contention can be debated. Especially if their motivation was to unify the domestic population around their political party by pointing at an outside evil. Leaders through history tend to need a bogeyman to unify the country against.

No one can debate that it’s worked for them politically here at home up to this point. Fear (like sex) Sells . . .

Posted by Johnny @ 08/28/2006 07:36 AM PDT

Sorry I my brevity led to confusion. I was not trying to use both posts against one another. I was trying to point out the contradiction between the premises of this post and it’s conclusion, and use the premises of this post to contradict the statement, “Foiled plot does not make us safer”. The headline of the previous post is categorically wrong, as a foiled plot makes us safer than an un-foiled plot. The article makes two points: an aggressive push to destabilize the base of operations of Al-Qaeda and better intelligence could have thwarted this plot. Both policies are results of “post-9-11” thinking. The Globe author says that because this plot was foiled we do not face an existential crisis, and that Bush is making too big a deal about terrorists for political gain. The fact that there was a plot to be foiled is evidence that we should remain vigilant against those who could be plotting now in our country as well as in other countries.