December 1, 2009
Two very strange quotes.
I was hesitant in mentioning the Swiss referendum last weekend, voting against the construction of minarets. The ‘yes’ vote was so strong, that it will be included in the national constitution. Wow.
It appears that only 10% of the Swiss Moslems actually do actively practice their religion. So that was not the problem. It really was, as the voters claimed, fear of much more that forced the issue.
‘It’s a sad day for religious freedom’, said Mohammad Shafiq, head of the Ramadhan Foundation, a British youth organisation.
That sentence is what made me start writing this. He could have added ‘in Europe’ perhaps. That might have worked. But as a general sentence? Who is he kidding? Need I write more? (By the way, there are no limits to the status and number of mosques in Israel, nor churches – and a reminder that 1. the World centre for the Baha’i is here, 2. the Mormons have a university here, and 3. etc.).
Then there’s UNRWA (have they got some of problem spelling ‘ UN Waste’?). Helping refugees is fine, but it’s the old thing of helping them or teaching them to help themselves. Chris Guinness is a spokesman for UNRWA (the UN agency that was set up in 1948 to help Palestinian refugees). He said ‘What perpetuates the refugee crisis is the lack of a durable peace deal under which, according to all internationally accepted paradigms, the refugee plight must be resolved’.
Well, one cannot claim that Israel has had durable peace at any time since 1948. Nor can one claim that in and following 1948, Israel was a rich country. The funds that have come in (apart from what Israel has itself generated) were hardly different from that which was given to the Palestinians). Yet Israel has helped settle practically all of the estimated 700,000 Jewish refugees, whether into Israel or to other parts of the globe.
Iran takes 5 more hostages. These 5 British sailors may, of course, be released next week. Whatever happens, Iran is going to milk this one… But do remember that they have been holding 2 American back-packers for over 4 months, just for ‘straying across’ the Iran-Iraq border. It’s all so terrible.
Now, imagine the scenario……for EACH of the 5 hostages, Iran will demand around 1,000 serious criminals to be released from UK prisons. That’s 5,000. Hey! That would help ease the prison-crowding problem. And as this would involve the most serious criminals, it’s the best prison cells that would become available. What a great idea. Forget the fact that perhaps 80% would go straight back to crime…..or in Israel’s case, terrorism.
No, one can’t imagine that. So we’re back to normal – to the point which makes me write this letter. Most of us really can’t imagine what it’s like in and for Israel.