Potpourri

Ernest Cassara


President Chavez and Noam Chomsky

You will recall that we predicted last week that, seeing President Hugo Chavez hold up Noam Chomsky’s book, Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance, in his appearance at the U.N. General Assembly, a new printing would soon be in order.  Well, we soon learned that it was number 1 on Amazon.com!


Israel Jails Hamas Politicians

Israel is holding more than a dozen  Hamas members of the Palestinian legislature in jail.  Were you a member of Hamas, how would you react?  Would this encourage you to work for the party’s recognition of Israel?


Non-Jew Jew

Something strikes me as odd, when I hear Senator Allen of Virginia say that only recently did his mother tell him that she is a Jew.   How could he not have guessed in all of the years living with her?

As one who lived happily in the Old Dominion for twenty years, until our return to Harvard Square and its environs, I find it most unlikely that it would have been held against him had he admitted it earlier.


American Boneheads

Elsewhere in this issue of the HSC, I have written of the discrimination that various groups have suffered in the U.S. over the years.  But, the stupidity continues.  Under the fair use doctrine - we being a not-for-profit website - I include this item by the Reuters news service, which arrived via the Boston Globe.

Muslim scholar says US has dropped terror-related charges

By Tom Heneghan, Reuters | September 26, 2006

PARIS -- A prominent Swiss Muslim intellectual said yesterday that the United
States had dropped charges against him of supporting terrorism, but had refused
to scrap an entry ban. Tariq Ramadan, now an academic at Oxford University in
Britain, said he had received an official letter effectively clearing him of charges
that kept him from taking up a teaching post at the University of Notre Dame
in Indiana.

However, the letter from the US Embassy in Bern explained the continued ban by
saying he had contributed about 600 euros ($770) to a Palestinian support group,
he said. ``This is an ideological exclusion," he said by telephone from London.
``This is the only way they can justify their decision after two years of investigation."
Ramadan, who has been a vocal critic of the US invasion of Iraq and its support for
Israel, got a visa in 2004. Washington revoked it on advice from the Department of
Homeland Security, which gave no reason for its decision.

He declined the Notre Dame post, but fought to have the ban lifted and his name
cleared. A federal judge in New York criticized the government in June for holding
up his visa application and ruled that it must make a decision within three months.
The American Civil Liberties Union had sued the US government in January on
behalf of Ramadan and institutes that had invited him to speak, arguing that the
government had improperly denied visas to scholars critical of the Bush administration.

The State Department confirmed that it had denied Ramadan a visa, but said the
denial had nothing to do with his views.

"A US consular officer has denied Dr. Tariq Ramadan's visa application . . . for
providing material support to a terrorist organization," said a State Department
spokesman, Kurtis Cooper. "The consular officer concluded that Dr. Ramadan was
inadmissible based solely on his actions, which constituted providing material
support to a terrorist organization."

Cooper gave no details about what Ramadan had done to trigger the denial, citing
the confidentiality of the visa process.

The ACLU said it was considering an appeal of the decision to deny Ramadan a
visa. Ramadan said his contributions to the Committee for Charity and Aid to
Palestinians, which is based in France, were apparently seen as support for the
Palestinian movement Hamas, which Washington has listed as a terrorist group.

However, he said he had sent the funds in 2000, long before the United States
declared that Hamas was a terrorist group.

Ramadan noted that the Committee for Charity and Aid to Palestinians was legal
in France, and that the northern French city of Lille had cooperated with it for
several years in charity projects for Palestinians.

In a statement, Ramadan said: "The contents of this letter clear my name of all
the allegations and accusations brought against me since my visa was revoked.

"Everything that was said about my so-called dubious relations, my meetings with
this or that terrorist, my teaching, my ideas and writings encouraging or justifying
terrorism, my double-speak - none of that was mentioned."

The views of Ramadan, who condemns terrorism and Islamist violence, have
provoked contrasting reactions.

The intellectual, born in Geneva, is popular among young European Muslims for
his efforts to reconcile their European and Islamic identities. His reputation in
British and US academic circles is one of a moderate specialist.

In France, officials see him as a radical who preaches hard-line Islam to Muslims
and moderation to non-Muslims. He has denied the `"double-speak" charge.


Speaking of Boneheadedness, Rev. Mr. Falwell Comes to Mind

Did you hear that he said that the Devil would be a better candidate than Hillary Clinton?



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Harvard Square Commentary, October 2, 2006