Serbian Orthodox Extremist Bishop on Hunger Strike

News from Serbia:

A Serbian Orthodox bishop who has been barred from Montenegro on suspicion of aiding war crimes fugitives pitched a tent at the border on Tuesday and said he was going on hunger strike in protest.

The United Nations tribunal in The Hague has put Bishop Filaret on a list of people suspected of helping four ethnic Serb suspects from the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s evade justice.

…When Filaret tried to enter the country again on Tuesday morning, he was stopped by some 20 policemen. He returned at noon, pitched a tent on no-man’s land, complete with a power generator, and put up a banner saying “Hunger Strike Day 1”.

“I will stay here until my requests are fulfilled, or until my life ends,” Filaret said, sitting on a wicker armchair at the Rance crossing, a few metres from the Montenegrin border sign.

Filaret wants to enter the country as part of his diocese is there; without his presence, he fears that the rival Montenegrin Orthodox Church and Jehovah’s Witnesses will make headway. Filaret has been dogged by allegations of helping war-criminals for several years – he argues (a) that he’s innocent and (b) that it wouldn’t matter if he were guilty. As he explained in 2003:

“I will file a suit before the international court against them (the European Union). I did not provide shelter to anyone, and they should prove when Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic were at my place,” he told Bosnian Serb news agency SRNA.

“I would have been happy to host them and help them, because they are brave sons of the Serb nation, whom I love and respect,” Bishop Filaret, whose secular name is Jelenko Micevic, added.

A recent BBC Monitoring report has further details:

Bishop Filaret is remembered…for welcoming Vojislav Seselj in Mileseva Monastery in the past and for giving his blessing to Tomislav Nikolic [deputy chairman of the Serbian Radical Party – SRS] to win an election. There were many who reproached the bishop of Mileseva for openly supporting Milosevic in the run-up to the elections  of the year 2000, of which he repented at the SPC Congress and begged forgiveness from all those whom his statements had offended or saddened.

Selelj is currently at the Hague awaiting trial, and he has asked for Filaret to be allowed to come to him to administer communion. Selelj founded the Serbian Radical Party, and he has enjoyed links with Jean-Marie Le Pen. Critics allege that Filaret’s rise to the episcopate was due to his political connections:

Until early July (1999) Filaret was a low ranking priest in a Belgrade church in Zemun municipality. The Serbian Radical Party of Vojislav Seselj, coalition partners with Milosevic, hold power in Zemun. Then out of the blue Filaret was appointed an episcope (Bishop?) of Milesevo at a ceremony attended by Patriarch Pavle and, very unusually, by high- ranking state officials. The presence of government figures at the ceremony was interpreted as a sure sign the regime was working to strenghten its influence in the Church.

Since has appointment, Filaret has “advocated” on behalf of the Milosevic regime in the state controlled media, praising the present authorities for their good government.

In the early nineties, Filaret was something of a media star pushing his extreme Serbian nationalist views. On one occasion he appeared on television holding a skull in his hands, which he claimed belonged to the Serbian child killed by Croats. He also liked to pose for photographers in his priestly attire, but sporting a rifle.

Filaret also has a good line in sarcasm (at least, we hope it’s sarcasm). Back to that BBC report:

When they asked him where the most wanted fugitive war crimes indictees were hiding, the bishop of Mileseva replied that “Karadzic was most probably in Iraq and he believed that Mladic was with [Osama] Bin Ladin, keeping himself fit to defend Kosovo, God willing.”

The current stand-off with Montenegro may take some time to be resolved: reports describe the bishop as “portly”.

Jerusalem Summit Sponsor Accuses Critical Journalist of Faking Gun Attack

Staying with Russia, here’s one I missed from a few weeks ago: back in June, it was reported that yet another journalist had been shot:

[Andrei] Kalitin, 37, was shot in the shoulder Wednesday evening as he was leaving his home to meet with a colleague, according to local media reports. He has worked as a special correspondent for the investigative journalism program “Spetsrassledovaniye” (Special Investigation) on Russia’s national television Channel One since 2006.

…For the past four months, Kalitin had been working on a book alleging mafia involvement in the aluminum business. The book, titled Mafia in Black, is to be released in August. Kalitin told Gazeta that the week before the attack, his phone would ring in the early morning but when he would pick it up, the caller on the other end would hang up, Gazeta reported.

Kalitin is a former reporter for “Sovershenno Sekretno” (Top Secret), an independent anti-corruption television program produced in the 1990s by legendary Russian journalist Artyom Borovik.

The main subject of Kalitin’s book is to be the Russian-Israeli businessman Michael Cherney. This is of interest to this blog because he finances the right-wing “Jerusalem Summit”, which brings together neo-conservatives like Daniel Pipes with Christian Zionists to strategize on the removal of Palestinians from the West Bank (See my recent blog entry here. His Michael Cherney Foundation also made headlines last year when it financed an “Intelligence Summit” which unveiled tape recordings of Saddam Hussein allegedly plotting an attack on the USA). Cherney responded to the suggestion that he might have had something to do with Kalitin’s injury in July:

Unfortunately, it is yet another helping from the bag of tricks that my ex-partner Oleg Deripaska has stooped to. After I filed a suit against him in England in November 2006, he told his multi-leveled security service to launch an international campaign to discredit me.

…As for Kalitin, it is a question whether there has been an assassination attempt at all. He requested me for an interview, and I sent him and his publisher OLMA, which contracted the book, an official letter. I told them that I knew who had actually commissioned the book and that I was not about to be a party to smearing my own name, and that I would sue OLMA for defamation. After that, someone allegedly shot Kalitin. Independent Moscow media reported that he had simply injured his arm, refused medical aid, and went to police to report that only a day later. No one had ever found the cartridge or the bullet. The whole assassination story was just a publicity trick to draw attention to this cheap publication in OLMA (though someone had spent a lot of money on it).

One wonders if the 1997 fate of journalist Vadim Birukov was also “a publicity trick”; according to this CNN report, he

…was found dead in his garage, his body badly beaten, his mouth taped. Birukov’s Business in Russia was the first independent magazine to expose organized crime’s role in aluminum in any detail, and he had attacked the Chernoys [i.e. Michael and his brother Lev] mercilessly. The culprits were never found.

Cherney has been dogged by criminal allegations for some time over his rise to prominence in the Russian “Aluminium Wars” (see below), and he is banned from entry into the USA and some other countries. However, investigations have all floundered, and Cherney insists that he has been smeared by his enemies.

Cherney has indeed been very unlucky in some of his associations. One of his close associates in Israel was the late Anton Malevsky, who had been accused of running a mafia group in Moscow. This allegation forms part of an upcoming trial in Germany; according to a recent report in Der Spiegel:

Alexander A. and two other defendants are charged with having laundered about €8 million for “Izmailovskaya,” a Russian Mafia organization, through real estate deals in Germany. Investigators are convinced that Alexander A., the good Christian, is one of the leaders of the Moscow Mafia syndicate, which they believe has earned a fortune with contract killings and protection rackets.

…A man named Malevsky is believed to have founded Izmailovskaya, named after Izmailovo, a Moscow neighborhood, in those early post-Soviet days. According to the prosecutors, the group specialized in extorting protection money and committing contract killings during the brutal struggles that followed the deregulation of the aluminum industry. They also believe that the organization worked for men who are now among Russia’s richest oligarchs and invest their billions in Western construction outfits or companies in the automotive industry. Their brutal henchmen at Izmailovskaya are believed to control assets worth about $800 million today.

According to the prosecutors, Izmailovskaya’s leader, Malevsky, moved part of this fortune to the British Virgin Islands, where it was invested in shady companies or deposited into the bank accounts of high-ranking Izmailovskaya members. “The system was designed to conceal the sources of the funds,” says Bettina Vetter, one of the Stuttgart prosecutors.

According to that CNN report again:

In March 1995 two private eyes in Israel were indicted for plotting to kill Michael Cherney and his pal Anton Malevsky. (The assassins were equipped with a silenced pistol and a $100,000 contract.)

Some years earlier, Malevsky had allegedly been sponsored for a US visa by Cherney’s Blonde Management Corp. The Corp’s manager was the nephew of Cherney’s old business partner Semyon Kislin, who has been linked by the FBI to a Russian godfather in prison in the USA, although he denies the claim. In 1998, Israel decided to deport Malevsky, as the country had done in the past with mafia figures (most famously Meyer Lansky, an incident depicted in fictionalised form in The Godfather Part II), and he died in a parachuting accident in 2001. In 2004, Cherney and fellow Israeli-Russian billionaire Arkady Gaydamak (who was blogged by me here) were pleased to see the forced resignation of Israeli police investigator Moshe Mizrahi, who had been accused of a “witch hunt” against innocent Russian businessmen in Israel on behalf of his friends.

Cherney was recently profiled in the London Observer, where he explained the feud with Deripaska:

Cherney emigrated to Israel, from where he has conducted his business since 1994. Meanwhile the ‘aluminium wars’ raged in Russia, a struggle from which Rusal is now emerging as the world’s number one aluminium producer. ‘In 2001, I sold my stake to the Deripaska group,’ he says. ‘I’m out of the aluminium business now, except for the money owed to me from this stock sale.’

…Cherney says ‘[Deripaska] panicked when he heard in 2001 that I was going to sell my stake in Rusal to MDM Bank for $1bn. He met me in London. So I sold the stake to him instead, and the contract guaranteed payment in three years. He met me in secret in Vienna in 2003 and I told him he had violated the terms. Then he stopped answering the phone.

The Financial Times, meanwhile, gives us Deripaska’s take:

Mr Deripaska denies he ever worked in partnership with Mr Cherney. Mr Cherney says he is merely seeking to enforce his rights. While the two disagree over their roles, their tale tells much of how Russian business has evolved from the early 1990s when, according to one insider, businessmen queued in hotel lobbies to win Mr Cherney’s blessing for their business deals.

…Mr Deripaska maintains that what happened in the 1990s in the Russian aluminium business cannot be compared with any other country. “We had different conditions. It was anarchy.” But he insists Mr Cherney had nothing to do with his business: “The role of [Michael] was very specific,” he says. “This person had no relation to my business.”

However, in 2003, both men were named in a legal action against Deripaska; American Lawyer noted that:

During the so-called “Aluminum Wars” of the 1990s, rival Russian oligarchs fought violently for control of that nation’s second-largest industry. The losers of the Aluminum Wars don’t trust Russian courts, so they have carried the fight to tribunals around the world. Their allegations read like a post-Cold War thriller. As the claimants tell the story, billionaire Oleg Deripaska and alleged mafia boss Mikhail Chernoi stripped exiled oligarch Mikhail Zhivilo of the Novokuznetsk aluminum plant by bribing and strong-arming officials to file false murder charges against him (hence his exile), and to make false claims that drove his company into bankruptcy. The claimants are companies that had signed contracts with the Novokuznetsk factory before Deripaska allegedly rigged its bankruptcy and bought it on the cheap. According to Deripaska, the claimants themselves are controlled by Zhivilo.

A 2000 Jamestown Foundation report adds:

The plaintiffs charge, among other things, that in 1995, at the height of a battle for control of the Krasnoyarsk Aluminium Factory, Chernoy ordered the murder of Felix Lvov. Lvov represented the interests of AIOC, the U.S. metals company and Trans World rival. Chernoy, the plaintiffs claim, used Anton Malevsky, reputedly a leader of the Izmailova organized crime group, to carry out the order. According to the suit, Chernoy and Deripaska also sought to wrest control over NkAZ away from MIKOM, a company run by Mikhail and Yuri Zhivilo. Soon after the Lvov murder, Deripaska warned that Mikhail Zhivilo would share Lvov’s fate if he refused to cooperate with Chernoy and Trans World. The suit also alleges that, in the fall of 1995, Mikhail Zhivilo was forced to meet with Chernoy in Tel Aviv to discuss “krysha” (“roof,” slang for protection payments) for the following year. Malevsky allegedly attended the meeting during which Zhivilo was warned that if he stopped making protection payments he would have to deal with Malevsky “and his partner Yaponchik”–an apparent reference to Vyacheslav Ivankov, the Russian mafia boss jailed in New York in 1996 on federal conspiracy and extortion charges. In March 1996, the suit alleges, an attack was carried out on Zhivilo, after which he received yet another warning from Chernoy. According to the complaint, Zhivilo ran into Chernoy by chance in 1998 at a soccer match in France, and Chernoy again brought up Malevsky to threaten Zhivilo into cooperating with Deripaska (Vedomosti, December 21).

Zhivilo is currently a fugitive in Europe; the case was eventually settled out-of-court (see here). In July, a Zhivilo associate was found guilty by a Russian court of plotting a political assassination.

Another former associate of Cherney and Deripaska has also made serious allegations, as was noted by the Hoover Digest in 2004:

Dzhalol Khaidarov, a former close associate of Mikhail Chernoy, a partner of Deripaska’s with close ties to organized crime, described, in an interview with Le Monde, how Russian Aluminum became so large: “You ask why Russian Aluminum gained one or another factory. They will say that the shares were purchased. But if you look, you’ll find that the former shareholder is in prison, became a ‘drug addict,’ or disappeared. When I worked with Mikhail Chernoy, the group gave bribes of 35 to 40 million dollars every year. It was always possible to buy a judge, a governor, or a law. In the early 1990s, they murdered. Now they prefer to file a case or put someone in prison. They can do anything.”

Deripaska is married to Boris Yeltsin’s granddaughter, and his activities appear to be tolerated by one particularly shady character – a certain Vladimir “Polonium” Putin.

Name variations: Ismajlovokaya, Izmailovskaya; Izmailovo Mafia; Izmaylovo Gang; Michael Cherney; Michael Chernoy; Michael Chornoy; Michael Chernoi; Michael Tcherny; Michael Chyorny; Mikhail Cherney; Mikhail Chernoy; Mikhail Chornoy; Mikhail Chernoi; Mikhail Tcherny; Mikhail Chyorny.

More on Coercive Psychiatric Treatment in Russia

The London Times reports:

…Last week authorities in the Arctic city of Murmansk released Larissa Arap, an opposition journalist whose five-week detention in two psychiatric hospitals caused a storm of protest.

Arap, who is a supporter of Garry Kasparov, the former chess champion turned fierce Kremlin critic, was confined after publishing an exposé in which she described how staff at a mental hospital were abusing young patients, often with electric shocks. During a routine medical test to renew her driving licence, she was asked by a doctor if she had written the article. Arap defended her story. The doctor called the police and had her forcibly detained. In hospital she was regularly given drugs and last week she was so feeble that she could barely speak.

…Similar treatment was used against Sergei Ablamsky, a lawyer in Bryansk, 250 miles southwest of Moscow, when he came into conflict with a prosecutor he accused of corruption. Ablamsky was taken in handcuffs to a psychiatric institute where he was held for four weeks.

This ties in nicely with a blog entry I wrote in July, in which I noted how psychiatry in Russia is being used to persecute members of new religious movements, and to spread panic about “satanism”. The notorious Serbsky Institute is still in business, and some of its staff have remained in place since the Soviet period. Reporters Without Borders adds a quote:

The president of the Independent Psychiatric Association, Yury Savenko, said he feared punitive hospitalisation could become more common following the adoption of the law on extremism.

Name variations: Larisa Arap; Yuri Savenko

Irene Lancaster in her Own Words

Bishop of Chester and staff indulge in “Jew-hating for kicks”

“Brainwashing” at Liverpool Cathedral

Richard Dawkins describes “the Jewish concept of God the creator”

Several weeks ago the London Times’s religion blog Faith Central decided to list the “30 Most Influential Religious Blogs”. At number 28 is Irene Lancaster, a British academic who recently emigrated to Israel, and whose main contribution to public debate is to assert – over and over again – that institutions and individuals who are critical of Israel are motivated by anti-Semitism. Over the past two years Lancaster has become a familiar figure in the British media, popping up on programmes like BBC Radio Manchester’s Thought for the Week and in mainstream religious magazines like The Tablet, which refers to her as “one of the United Kingdom’s leading Jewish academics” – a rather astonishing title given that her academic publication record (so far as I can see) seems pretty average, consisting of some translations and a couple of books on aspects of medieval Jewish thought. Lancaster also enjoys close relations with some high-profile figures, such as former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, and she is the Interfaith Advisor and Academic Liaison Officer for Anglican Friends of Israel (an organisation which has as a patron David Marsland, a university professor who believes that the UK should be a police state with summary executions of terrorist suspects and imprisonment for dissenting journalists).

But what exactly has Lancaster done to enjoy these plaudits? Given the way that she resorts to the most extreme and hyperbolic personal abuse, it is surprising that she is taken seriously at all. Take, for example, her attack on the Bishop of Chester and his staff. In June of last year, Lancaster discovered that Stephen Sizer, an Anglican vicar who supports Palestinian rights and is very critical of Israel, would be giving a presentation at Chester Cathedral. Lancaster wrote to the Bishop, informing him that he should cancel the invitation on the grounds that Sizer was motivated by an

anti-Jewish Christian theology of contempt, on which I am unfortunately an expert

and that allowing him to speak

could lead to attacks on the Jewish community and therefore constitute a security threat.

To Lancaster’s dismay, her demands that Sizer should be made to shut up cut no ice, despite her self-proclaimed “expert” status, and she received a firm letter from the Cathedral office:

Thank you for contacting us about Stephen Sizer’s July lecture in the Cathedral. We are aware that his views are controversial, but we are also conscious of his desire to speak for some highly vulnerable people in Israel/Palestine, whose voices are too seldom heard in this country. He has up-to-date and first-hand experience of what is going on in the Land, and the issues he raises are significant. Our inviting him here does not necessarily mean, of course, that we will agree with everything he says, and there will be a chance for people to ask questions of him on the night, and to hear his response.

What particularly offended Lancaster was that the letter did not come from the Bishop himself:

Funny how all the Bishops in Manchester can write to you themselves, as if they are friends (which most of them are), and the former Archbishop of Canterbury can actually give you an exclusive for your blog, and yet the lower down the hierarchy you go, the more pompous and buck-passing they get.

This discourtesy to someone as important as Lancaster clearly enraged her:

The most pathetic aspect of Chester’s decision is that they have given it the stamp of authenticity by saying their Bishop was consulted and agreed. For a historian such as myself, this resonates of what Holocaust commentator, Hannah Arendt, called ‘the banality of evil’.

They are all little men with no purpose in life, so they latch on to Jew-hating for kicks and pretend that they are sorry for the Palestinians. Just as Hitler and his ilk also had no purpose, so they latched onto Jew-hating for kicks and pretended they were sorry for all those poor Germans.

I think commentary on that would be superfluous.

A second target for Lancaster’s wrath is Giles Fraser, a vicar and Guardian columnist. Last year, she wrote about her friend Andrew Shanks, a canon at Manchester Cathedral:

…Andrew has done two things that make him a towering figure in my eyes. He has publicly taken his friend (and former teacher), the [Archbishop of Canterbury], to task for voting for divestment from Caterpillar at February’s Synod. He has also brought bruiser and media pundit, Rev Dr. Giles Fraser (his former student) to see me, to sort of apologize for his verbal onslaught on rabbis, broadcast on Radio 4’s Thought for the Day.

However, Rashomon-like, her account of the meeting later changes slightly in a comment she left on Ruth Gledhill’s blog:

…having met Giles Fraser (actually, he turned up at my house on one occasion without prior consultation) and having been witness to his attempts to bully me around to his own way of thinking on a number of issues about which he is actually very ignorant, I can’t help feeling that one of these days he may need a lawyer himself.

So, from this version we are to infer that Fraser decided to go round to her house uninvited and unwanted, while according to her original account Fraser was brought by a friend to “apologise”. She has also made similar hints about physical intimidation against Stephen Sizer:

And yes, I may even take Sizer up on his offer to meet down south, to have a chat, but I shall make sure to take a body-guard with me.

(Sizer’s response to her piece on him can be seen here)

Lancaster’s way of proceeding is apparently shared by her husband, Brian L. Lancaster (also known as “Les Lancaster”), a transpersonal psychologist who writes on the psychology of mysticism. On one occasion, the two of them decided to attend a talk given by Stephen Sizer at Liverpool Cathedral:

Les said that he was an expert on brainwashing techniques and that is what we had seen this evening in a very cleverly organised immoral and one-sided presentation, aimed at demonisation. The title may have been ‘Morally Responsible Investment’, but the speaker had been anything but morally responsible this evening, Les stated.

So, Brian Lancaster sees a presentation on a political issue, and he profoundly disagrees with the speaker. Other people seem to like the talk more than him, so he decides that the speaker must have employed “brainwashing techniques”. We should believe this because he is “an expert”. To see an academic use their professional status in this way is just embarrassing.

However, it’s not just on the subject of Israel where Irene Lancaster feels that her “expert” status means that she can make bizarre re-interpretations of what other people think. Consider, for example, this quote concerning Richard Dawkins. The source is an interview with Ruth Gledhill:

She says: “Dawkins’ description is definitely Jewishly OK, whether he likes it or not. Dawkins has tried to describe some sort of power, even intelligence, which does not include the word ‘God.’ The word for the Lord in Hebrew is Y-H-V-H-, which is a transliteration of the consonants in Hebrew which sound like vowels. In other words, if you named that power, you might fall into the trap of thinking you really understood it.”

Maimonides lived from 1135 to 1204 and influenced Thomas Aquinas and the whole Christian tradition. “So what Dawkins is describing here is the Jewish concept of God the creator,” says Irene.

UPDATE (13 January 2008): More today.

Aaron Klein’s Kind of Camera

Once again, WorldNetDaily stretches the meaning of the word “exclusive”: Jerusalem correspondent Aaron Klein has read the website of hawkish pro-Israel lobby group CAMERA, and found there a press release attacking a CNN documentary that covered Jewish extremism:

CNN special series airing this week entitled “God’s Warriors” – produced and anchored by the network’s chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour – is “one of the most grossly distorted programs” ever aired on mainstream American television, according to a media watchdog report.

…Tuesday’s segment started off comparing “Jewish terrorists” to that of Muslims, specifically focusing on the few instances of violence or attempted violence by religiously motivated Jews against Muslims. It told the story of Baruch Goldstein, an American-born Israeli physician who killed 29 Arabs in the West Bank city of Hebron in 1994. Goldstein’s actions were widely condemned by Israelis and worldwide Jewry. The organization he was a part of was outlawed in Israel.

States the CAMERA report: “While in reality Jewish ‘terrorism’ is virtually non-existent, the program magnifies at length the few instances of [Jewish] violence” comparing it to “violent jihadist Muslim campaigns” when indeed there is no such comparison “either in numbers of perpetrators engaged or in the magnitude of death and destruction wrought.”

However, although “the organization [Goldstein] was a part of was outlawed”, its members are still politically active, and indeed some of them are Klein’s favourite contacts. One of these, David Ha’ivri, features in the Amanpour programme:

We have our own God-given law. The law is called the Torah. The Torah gives us answers to — to all aspects of life…The Arabs have 22 of their own countries. If they want democratic rights, let them go and seek democracy in their own countries.

As for a failed 2002 bomb plot against a Palestinian girls’ school:

I make no judgment. I think that war is an ugly thing.

This cold-blooded attitude may come as a bit of a shock for anyone whose view of the conflict is informed by Klein – from his reports, one would think that Ha’ivri is simply a pious Jew who wants to pray on the Temple Mount (Incidentally, Ha’ivri has made visits to the USA, and in 2004 he was hosted by Americans for a Safe Israel, which has liaised closely with Christian Zionist groups).

Klein has also had other cozy contacts with Kahanists, some of whom have praised the Goldstein massacre. The most egregious example is probably Yekutel Ben Ya’acov, whom Klein describes as a “northern Samaria resident”; Ben Ya’acov, who used to be known as Mike Guzovsky, is a notorious Kahanist who has praised Goldstein’s “love for the Jewish people”.

In 2000, the BBC noted pilgrimages to Goldstein’s grave:

Militant Jews have gathered at the grave of Baruch Goldstein to celebrate the sixth anniversary of his massacre of Muslim worshippers in Hebron.

…Israeli extremists continue to pay homage at his grave in the nearby Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba, where a marble plaque reads: “To the holy Baruch Goldstein, who gave his life for the Jewish people, the Torah and the nation of Israel.”

About 10,000 people had visited the grave since the massacre, Mr [Baruch] Marzel said.

The ineffectually-“outlawed” Kahanists also praised Goldstein on the tenth anniversary of his death:

Extreme right-wing activists of the outlawed Kach party this weekend celebrated the tenth anniversary of Baruch Goldstein’s 1994 massacre of 29 Palestinian worshipers in Hebron.

During the Purim holiday ten years ago, Goldstein murdered 29 Muslims during a prayer service at the Cave of the Patriarchs before being overcome and killed by the angry worshipers. Memorial services for Goldstein were held Saturday morning at Kiryat Arba and Hebron synagogues, and sextons called him “a saintly person,” Maariv reported.

In private conversations, many praised Goldstein’s act, saying he “did the right thing,” the newspaper said. Red wine bearing Goldstein’s name was handed out to synagogue members. On the bottle’s label, it was written, “A wine that won 29 awards,” according to the number of Palestinians Goldstein killed, Maariv reported.

Aaron Klein, meanwhile, has sought to downplay Goldstein’s act of mass murder; following the 2005 shooting at Shfaram (in which a rogue Israeli soldier, to use Klein’s preferred terminology, “killed” four “Arabs”, before being in turn “murdered” by “Palestinians”), he grudgingly gave some background details:

[Eden Natan] Zada’s hometown of Tapuach is well-known for its high-profile activist residents, most of whom are former members of the Kahane-Chai movement and its various off-shoots. Rabbi Meir Kahane, assassinated in New York in 1990, was founder of the Jewish Defense League. Kach and Kahane Chai, the Israeli branches of his organization, were outlawed in 1994 following statements in support of Baruch Goldstein, a Kach member who carried out a shooting attack against Arabs at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron.

No mention of any fatalities. No doubt that’s the kind of “undistorted” reporting of which CAMERA would approve.

For further details about Klein’s methods, see this article at ConWebWatch.

Orthodox Church Backs Russian Militarism

Also: Pope is Catholic

Several days after Vladimir Putin’s decision to send long-range nuclear bombers on long-range patrol in the Pacific and Atlantic, Interfax adds a detail:

The Russian Orthodox Church gave some particles of St. Alexander Nevsky’s relics to the chapel of the headquarters of the long range air force…The ceremony…was led by Patriarch Alexy II’s vicar Bishop Amvrosy of Bronnitsy.

The bishop greeted the long range air force on the occasion of recommencement patrolling faraway regions and the fifth anniversary of dedication of St. Elijah’s Chapel at the headquarters.

The report adds that all the bombers are blessed by the church, and that the chapel already contains a relic of St Theodore Ushakov (var. Theodore Ouchakoff); Ushakov was an admiral of the Napoleonic era who captured Ionia from the French and who was noted for his piety and periods spent in monasteries.

Last week, Alexy praised Russia’s recent submarine visit to the North Pole, which was undertaken to bolster Russian claims over the area:

‘It was the first time that a Russian expedition, having reached the North Pole, made a 13,000ft dive and set a Russian flag on the bottom of the Arctic Ocean. Thereby they rose our country’s prestige and demonstrated unique features of our underwater machines and professionalism of the crew…This expedition proves that Russia is rightfully called a great polar power,’

(Name variations: Theodore Ouchakoff; Theodore Ouchakov; Theodore Ushakov; Fedor Ouchakoff; Fedor Ouchakov; Fedor Ushakov; Fyodor Ouchakoff; Fyodor Ouchakov; Fyodor Ushakov; Feodor Ouchakoff; Feodor Ouchakov; Feodor Ushakov)

Religious Rally Against Homosexuality in Uganda

Calls for media censorship, deportation of journalist, arrests, dismissal of academic

A few weeks ago I blogged on the case of Julius Lukyamuzi, a Ugandan who alleges that he suffered years of sexual abuse at the hands of Grace Kitaka, a Pentecostal pastor. Kitaka’s alleged activities were allegedly covered up by Pastor Imelda Kula, one of the country’s most famous Pentecostal preachers. At the end of my piece, I wrote that

If the charges against Kitaka stick, there will hopefully be some questions about why she was not willing to deal with a “scourge” closer to home – and one that could have been dealt with without recourse to supernatural means. However, in the notoriously homophobic Uganda, it is just as likely that a conviction would be used to fuel a panic concerning “gays”, rather than to assess the problem of sexual predators among an unaccountable clergy.

In fact, I was only half-right; over the past two months Uganda has been rocked – and entertained – by accounts of pastorly misconduct that rival the events of 1987 in the USA. However, the anti-gay backlash has also now come into being:

CHRISTIANS opposed to homosexuality will hold a rally today, just days after gays addressed a news conference for the first time demanding respect for their rights.

…Pastor Martin Sempa, a key organiser of the event, told reporters yesterday that the rally is a direct reaction to the gay community’s quest for equal rights.

…The rally theme is, A Call for Action on Behalf of the Victims of Homosexuality. “It is a crisis before us because people are suffering, seeking for justice and are confused of their gender; they do not know what to do after being sodomized and molested,” Pastor Sempa said.

Sempa’s website can be seen here. As with similar anti-gay campaigns in Jerusalem and Moscow, the rally has brought the faiths together – the event was “organized by a coalition of Christian, Muslim and Bahai groups”.

The protestors – who call themselves the “Interfaith Rainbow Coalition” – have one particular target for their hate, a 22-year-old American journalist working as intern on the Daily Monitor named Katherine Roubos:

“We people of Uganda have values. If this lady cannot respect them then she had better be deported,” said Eddie Semakula, a member of the coalition. “She is advocating for the rights of homosexuals in a paper that is read by children even. We must protect our children.”

Roubos’ dire threat to children can be seen here. Highlights:

LESBIAN, gay, bisexual, and transgender Ugandans held their first-ever press conference at Speke Hotel yesterday to launch a media campaign to advocate for their rights.

A rainbow banner declaring “God created us like this, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI), Let Us Live In Peace” hung above the row of seven panelists, some of whom wore elaborate masks to hide their identity.

…A man wearing a mask, and a name card with the alias “Douglas,” condemned the brutality and corruption of police treatment of LGBTI people. “The goal of the police is to protect all people within the borders of Uganda,” he said. “It is not legal for the police to beat or bribe people.”

However, LGBTI people report that police have repeatedly demanded sexual favours or personal bribes in exchange for release from custody. “This is not protecting Ugandans, it is threatening people for profit. That is certainly not within the law,” exclaimed Douglas.

Sempa makes his case on this webpage (note the Fred Phelps-inspired logo), which is part of the official website of the Kobs Rugby team (their stadium was the location for the rally):

The Monitor Publication has in the recent past run many stories, which are well intended to promote homosexuality. Some of the recent stories include  “Lesbians demand their rights”, “Why police is not arresting homosexuals” which ran 11th August, 07 and “Homosexuals demand their place in society” 17th of August.

These propaganda stories, which have mostly worked in the service of homosexuality, have been written by two writers. Katherine Roubos an American who is listed on the internet as a president of a homosexual organization based in the United States called Querillas. She is helped by Val Kalende who is also listed as a Lesbian leader for two homosexual propaganda groups, Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG) as listed on the homosexual internet site (OutRage).

It is terrible that this newspaper is being used by two people to promote a criminal behavior in the country. It is important that government takes appropriate action to ensure that the issue of homosexuality is not covered by homosexuals who are bent on giving Ugandans one side of the story.  This is not journalism, rather it is criminal propaganda.

A call for media censorship follows, along with a denunciation “Sylvia Tamale of Makerere University whose teachings on gender in faculty of Law and public statement have been used as propaganda for homosexuality, abortion and prostitution.”

Also supporting the demonstration was Nsaba Buturo, the Minister for Ethic and Integrity, who backed the call for censorship:

Addressing the rally, ethics and integrity minister Nsaba Buturo said the Government would not change its anti-gay stand.

“God created Adam and Eve and urged them to go and reproduce. He did not command Paul to wed John or Maria to live with Esther and have children,” he said, drawing applause.

The Government, Buturo added, will not tolerate anyone who lures others into lesbianism and homosexuality.

“They should not be allowed to pursue an agenda of indoctrinating our children to homosexuality,” he said.

He cautioned the media against promoting gay interests. “Must press freedom be used to undermine one of the cardinal provisions of the laws?”

He said the Government was investigating reports that homosexuals had spread their influence to schools and that some victims had died.

In July, Buturo responded to a constitutional challenge to a police raid on two lesbians by opining that

…the plaintiffs “suffered under the false notion that homosexuality can be a human rights issue” and cautioned that “next time, they will say bestiality should be a human right.”

We’ve come across Buturo before; his previous efforts to protect Uganda have included banning The Vagina Monologues on the grounds that “the idea was to promote lesbianism and glorify the vagina – even elevating it to god-like status.”

(Name variations: Martin Ssempa, Nasaba Botoro)

Rev Moon Making Global Inroads

…explored at Talk to Action.

Brim Tidings

Christian Zionist wants Dome of the Rock destroyed

David Brog is the (non-Christian) Executive Director of Christians United for Israel. Back in May there was a bit of a controversy when it was noted that the CUFI website carried a logo which showed a view of Jerusalem from which the Dome of the Rock was missing. Brog expressed surprise when this was pointed out, and had the picture replaced with an undoctored one which included the world-renowned 1,300-year-old architectural masterpiece. Brog explained that

“If there is any doubt, I didn’t want that picture…I don’t want people to be able to attribute to us an agenda that does not exist. We were looking for a pretty picture of Jerusalem and nothing more.”

Also that month, Brog was part of a “Night to Honor Israel” in Wisconsin:

CUFI Regional Director Billye Brim and CUFI Executive Director David Brog brought the audience to their feet with their messages of solidarity between Christians and Jews.

Now, at Talk to Action, Bruce Wilson has found a couple of audio excerpts in which Billye Brim talks about her views concerning the Dome of the Rock. First, from the high-profile 17 July Night to Honor Israel, in Washington D.C. (which I blogged on here):

Yerushalayim, in Yerushalayim there is a hill, where Abraham offered Isaac, Moriah, the Temple Mount. On that hill there is a rock [Dramatic pause] where a holy arch stood. Today there’s a dome over the rock. [Dramatic pause] God has a plan for that hill.

But what is the plan? Bruce extracts another Brim sermon:

We’ll see it come down. Lots of other people have prayed it, God’s put it all together. We just happen to be the ones that were there on November the ninth, the date of Kristallnacht, the date that the Berlin Wall fell over, and he had us there. And he had us saying “that Dome is coming down!” [ululation] Hallelujah, Glory be to God! Bless the name of Jesus.

VIGIL Network Launches Website

A few months ago I wrote a blog entry on VIGIL, an anti-Islamist organisation which was used as a source for a BBC Newsnight report on Islamic extremism in the UK. As much as I applaud serious journalistic efforts to explore this subject, Newsnight’s reliance on this shadowy organisation was troubling, and a bit of googling led one to conclude that the group was rather weird. Now VIGIL has launched a website, with some silly James Bond-type graphics and a section called “corrections”. Alas, this gives further cause to be sceptical of group’s judgement and credibility:

Following the humiliation of infiltration and exposure by VIGIL in the autumn of 2006, Hizb ut Tahrir Britain issued a shabby blog document entitled “VIGIL Exposed”…They claimed that VIGIL was a Zionist conspiracy to paint them in a bad light.

The blog itself – which was short-lived – can be seen here. Clearly the blog’s author dislikes VIGIL, but there is no reason to believe that she is a member of HuT, or even a Muslim. Without evidence, we can only conclude that the VIGIL author – most likely Dominic Whiteman – either (a) throws around accusations of membership of HuT indiscriminately or (b) realises that an organisation which wishes to present itself as a global anti-terrorist spy agency tends to look silly by getting so exercised over “a shabby blog”. Further, the blog makes no mention of “a Zionist conspiracy”, although it does note that Glen Jenvey, who has been closely linked with VIGIL, is a “defender of Zionism”. In fact, that’s putting it mildly – Jenvey set up a fake Islamist website, which he then replaced with the following message:

There is just one way to achieve a lasting peace and have an end to terror in the middle east. The entire Muslim Ummah must realize:

There is no such thing as a ‘Palestinian.’ There never was. It is a PR fiction, a Madison Avenue fantasy. There is no ‘intifada,’ El Aksa or otherwise. There is a Philistine Authority Pogrom, both against Jews and Arabs, by Arafat and his thugs. The main victims are the resident Arabs themselves. There is actually one reference in the Qur’an to the Palestinian People – and that is the Philistines,” – Shaykh Abdul Hadi Palazzi

Israel belongs to the Jews – because Allah gave that land to them – why, because the Philistines won’t act like decent human beings – and only decent humans deserve their own country. If the Philistines don’t like it, they should just find somewhere else to live. Except no other country on earth wants to have them because they are not acting like decent human beings.

And Kashmir belongs to the Indians – for the same reasons.

However, VIGIL is now stressing that Jenvey is not part of the organisation:

…Glen Jenvey is not a member of VIGIL, although VIGIL has worked with him in the past with an online investigation into Al Muhajiroun in the UK.

Moving on:

…VIGIL has been linked with the group IC HUMINT. “IC HUMINT is the parent organization of VIGIL” has been said. This is incorrect. IC HUMINT is a stand-alone anti terrorist entity based out of the United States and the Netherlands and VIGIL is not owned by IC HUMINT, nor shares any members with IC HUMINT. The two groups have never worked together in the past.

VIGIL would like to point out that IC HUMINT does a great job and looks like a very impressive operation.

This is most curious, given the announcement which was posted on the IC HUMINT website until shortly after the Newsnight programme:

The VIGIL network is a large non-profit, non-political network of former intelligence officers, anti-terrorist operatives and proven private terror trackers united in one (mostly online) offensive strategy against the Islamic extremists threatening the planet right now. VIGIL was formed consequent to the 7/7 attacks on London.

…Now the VIGIL Group has found its place within the IC-HUMINT network to strenghten and extend both our service!

Dominic Whiteman, Director of VIGIL

So did IC HUMINT make this up, or what?

Elsewhere on the VIGIL website, there is an illustration of the “VIGIL structure”:

4 DIRECTORS
J Lewis (Americas)
D Whiteman (Europe)
A Zahra (Middle East)
M Chen (Asia)

DEMARCATED UNITS
(Up to 12 individuals per unit)

TRANSLATION TEAM
(Bangkok)

Meanwhile, the IC HUMINT website appears to have cleaned itself up a bit, removing a remarkable account of its origins as a group of people who

formed an alliance to establish a global network to form an army to fight the Evil-World to come and to serve for the glory of Jerusalem, the city of GOD

This was followed with

Shalom Jerusalem, holy city of GOD! We are in service of the Mighty one. For there is but one God and only him we shall serve.

That’s all gone – instead, the site now emphasises the work of an American private military researcher named Gerard (Jerry) Keenan, who is apparently available for hire. There is also a list of associate members, although “only those that have requested to be included” are provided. The list includes the SAS, the Israeli Defence Forces, and British Intelligence. The site also still states that it is “Crown Copyright”.

Very peculiar.

UPDATE: The above story presaged an extensive saga, beginning in 2009; see here for further details.

Also, here’s a screenshot of the website (which is now long-gone):

Two of the photos incorporated into this screenshot also appear on other sites. The photo used for “J Lewis” is a stock image, and can be seen here as a sample on a website for Kodak Professional Digital Enhancement; according to Wayback, it has been there since at least October 2005.  The picture of the supposed “M Chen” appeared on a dating site during 2006.