Bottom Feder

Kathryn Joyce has provoked a tirade from right-wing polemicist Don Feder for her Nation piece on conservative “demographic winter” alarm-sounding:

According to Kathryn Joyce, sneer-and-smear artist for The Nation, those who are concerned about the worldwide decline in birthrates are — to put it mildly — racist, neo-Nazis, who have a hidden agenda and (under the guise of demographic winter) are engaged in our age-old quest to control women’s bodies.

…Joyce believes — with the faith of one immune to facts and logic — that those sounding the alarm about plummeting fertility rates care only about the inability of white Europeans to replace themselves. We’re trying to whip up xenophobia against the continent’s rising Muslim tide. Thus, demographic winter is the invention of a vast Christian conspiracy to get Europeans to start making babies again.

Feder goes on to prove Joyce’s wrongheadedness by, erm… engaging in “sneer-and-smear” rhetoric, ignoring large factual chunks of Joyce’s essay, and giving us a conspiracy theory about Planned Parenthood:

Speaking of Nazis, Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, their prophetess, considered non-Aryans “a great biological menace to the future of civilization.”

Ever wonder why blacks, who comprise 12 percent of the population, account for 32 percent of all abortions? (For Hispanics, the figures are 13 percent and 20 percent.) Might it have something to do with all of the abortion clinics conveniently located in inner-city neighborhoods?

The quote comes from Sanger’s The Pivot of Civilization (1922), in which the terms “Aryan” and “non-Aryan” do not appear – that comes from a gloss added on various conservative websites, from whence Feder doubtless plundered his reference. The “great biological menace” is actually named as “the hordes of irresponsibility and imbecility”. As a social Darwinist, Sanger was fearful that “the most responsible and most intelligent members of society are the less fertile; that the feeble-minded are the more fertile”. Incidentally, the idea that abortion clinics are involved in a conspiracy to exterminate African-Americans at the behest of Sanger’s master-plan was recently raised on WND, again by shameless quote-mining. Whatever one’s views of Sanger’s theories and legacy, it would be nice to see sources treated with due attention, especially in the age of Google Books.

Feder’s complaint –  if one navigates the rambling diatribe – seems to be (a) that Joyce cannot refute the fact that in certain countries the population really is decreasing; (b) that she suggests the fear over depopulation in the West in some cases has racial overtones and (c) that she explores the religious and ideological underpinnings of those who are worried about this, which amounts to a “conspiracy theory”.

Point (a) wasn’t the subject of Joyce’s article, so is hardly relevant, while (b) is backed up with evidence, such as this:

Elizabeth Krause, an anthropologist and author of A Crisis of Births: Population Politics and Family-Making in Italy, tracked that country’s population efforts over the past decade and found politicians demanding more babies “to keep away the armadas of immigrants from the southern shores of the Mediterranean” and priests calling for a “Christian dike against the Muslim invasion of Italy.” The racial preferences behind Berlusconi’s “baby bonus” came into embarrassing relief when immigrant parents were accidentally sent checks for their offspring and then asked to return the money: the Italian government hadn’t meant to promote those births.

On point (c), Feder whines in bold

Joyce has religion on the brain (As a child, perhaps she was bitten by a Gospel singer.)…The documentary’s experts are overwhelmingly academics — demographers, sociologists and a Nobel laureate in economics — from institutions like the University of Chicago and University of Virginia. Most of the scholars don’t think of themselves as particularly religious.

Yes, but again, what’s that got to do with the point of Joyce’s article, which is about the various personalities and organisations raising the alarm over “demographic winter”? And it’s not as if she ignores the point anyway – she notes the role of centre-left Democrat Phillip Longman, and she tells us that another writer is a “compelling conservative historian who uses secular arguments to craft a social science rationale for the necessity of large patriarchal families”. Of course the article dwells on the religion element: it’s central to the story, and Joyce – who has a background in religion journalism – is particularly attuned to it. Why does Feder object to it being talked about? Could it be that because he’s a one-dimensional party hack he can’t understand an outsider looking at a movement and being both critical and seriously engaged?

Feder is particularly angered at Joyce’s discussion of the World Congress of Families, with which he is associated, and its activities in Poland. Joyce notes how one speaker,

lecturing against contraception, told the largely Polish audience that birth control was a continuation of an old evil, child sacrifice–a fraught evocation in post-Holocaust Poland, where anti-Semitic slurs against the nearly destroyed Jewish population, including the old blood libel charging Jews with ritual child murder, are far from forgotten. The inference isn’t much of a stretch in a country where the government blames shadowy “webs of influence” for Poland’s lagging economy; where sociologists describe a widespread conceptualized anti-Semitism that casts gays, feminists and secularists as symbolic “Jews” in a country with few actual Jews left; and where Jews are blamed for Communism and abortion, both of which are widely reviled.

I’ve covered anti-Semitism in Poland on this blog a number of times (and on the WCF in particular here). However, Feder – having accused Joyce of being “immune to facts” – has a riposte:

On my two visits to Poland, I saw no signs of anti-Semitism.

I blogged on Feder back in 2004, when his absurd “Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation” was first announced by ASSIST Ministries. Whether by mistake or not, it was originally named as “Jews Against Christian Anti-Defamation”, so I had a bit of fun with the title. I also noted Feder’s profile, which he has since taken down. Here’s a reminder:

I’m to the right of Sharon on Zionism, to the right of Pat Buchanan on immigration and Americanism, to the right of Mother Angelica on abortion, to the right of Chuck Heston on Second-Amendment rights, and generally make the legendary Atilla look like a limousine liberal.

You also make Cal Thomas look like a half-honest and careful journalist by comparison.

McCain “Very Honored” by Endorsement from Apocalyptic Christian Zionist

From the Caucus blog of the New York Times:

Senator John McCain got support on Wednesday from an important corner of evangelical Texas when the pastor of a San Antonio mega-church, Rev. John C. Hagee, endorsed Mr. McCain for president.

…Mr. McCain, who has been on a steady search for support among conservative and evangelical leaders who have long distrusted him, said he was “very honored” by Mr. Hagee’s endorsement. Asked about Mr. Hagee’s extensive writings on Armageddon and about what one questioner said was Mr. Hagee’s belief that the anti-Christ will be the head of the European Union, Mr. McCain responded that “all I can tell you is that I am very proud to have Pastor John Hagee’s support.”

This is no surprise; as I blogged at the time, McCain took part in Hagee’s virulent Christians United For Israel conference in July, which also gave a platform to Brigitte Gabriel, one of the most foully abusive of Muslim-haters to enjoy some sort of serious reputation (I blogged her here). Then as now, here’s Hagee in all his “New World Order” conspiracy theory glory (the words are his; the person who posted it to YouTube added the images and music):

(Hat tips: Pharyngula; Max Blumenthal for the Hagee video)

“Service for Peace” and a Pilgrimage to Nepal

And while we’re on the subject (see yesterday) of Korean Buddhist leaders and Rev Moon, Asia News reports from Nepal:

Korean Buddhist leaders who arrived last night in the city of Lumbini, birthplace of the ‘Awakened One’, came together in the wee hours of this morning to pray all day for peace in Nepal and the world.

…Called “Pilgrimage for World Peace,” the event is led by the famous Korean Buddhist leader Sun Mook Hye Ja, who told journalists that the pilgrimage to Nepal is meant to encourage peace in the world.

…The “Pilgrimage for World Peace” was organised by the Service for Peace and Korean Culture Center.

“Service for Peace” was founded in 2001 by Moon’s son Hyun Jin Preston Moon. It operates in a number of countries, and is based in Bridgeport. Rev Moon has taken a particular interest in Nepal of late, which I have blogged here.

Korean Buddhist Leader Indicted for Forgery

From the Korea Times:

The prosecution Tuesday indicted without physical detention the head of a Buddhist sect for forging documents to get billions of won in government subsidies.

Ven. Woonsan, head of the Taego Order of Korean Buddhism, received 6 billion won from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism as a subsidy for the construction of a new temple in 2005.

Prosecutors found he manipulated the sect’s bank balance to apply for the subsidy, a prosecutor said…

Ven. Woonsan is accused of borrowing money from members to inflate the sect’s funds in order to gain a grant from the government. Apparently he has admitted it, but a spokesperson insists he did nothing wrong.

Taego (or “Taegojong”) is a form of Zen (“Seon”, in Korean) Buddhism; according to a popular book on Zen published in 2006, it is a minority group which allows for non-celibate ordination:

The Taego sect is headquartered at Bongwonsa in Seoul. Due to its associations with the Japanese occupation, it suffered great losses in the years since World War II. (1)

This appears to be over-simplified; from documents at the Taego Order website it seems that there was a schism between the celibate and non-celibate branches of Korean Zen Buddhism in 1954, after which the non-celibates were suppressed until the new Taego Order was founded in 1970.

Ven. Woonsan doesn’t have much of an internet presence; if you Google him the only thing that comes up is an account a speech praising Rev Sun Myung Moon and his wife:

President Remengesau [of Palau] and Vice President Mumba [of Zambia] joined together with the Venerable Woon San Lee of the Taegojong Buddhist Order in giving congratulatory remarks. They each, in their own way praised True Parents for unifying religions, bringing moral values into the process of governance and most importantly how they are blessing and healing the marriages and the families of the world.

Moon has also been praised by the Order’s General Secretary, In Gok Hong. See this website, scroll down.


(1) James Ishmael Ford, Zen Master Who?: A Guide to the People and Stories of Zen, Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2006

(Hat tip: Cult News Network)

Some Notes on Tradition, Family, and Property in South Africa

A couple of my recent blog entries (here and here) have made reference to the International Freedom Foundation, a right-libertarian political organisation of the 1980s which operated in a number of countries, including both the UK and the USA. The IFF, as I explained, was opposed to apartheid but also opposed to sanctions against South Africa, instead taking refuge in the dogma that the problem would be solved by the free market. However, the organisation turned out to have been compromised by secret funding from the apartheid regime. In the USA this became a subject of discussion following the disgrace of Jack Abramoff, who ran the American branch. Harper’s magazine reported in 2006:

It started when Abramoff, as Chairman of the College Republican National Committee, visited South Africa in 1983. There, he came to know Russel Crystal, a South African intelligence asset who headed a government-funded student front group. Presumably, it was Crystal who in 1986 brought Abramoff in as the first chairman of the International Freedom Foundation (IFF)—a seemingly independent right-wing group headquartered in Washington, D.C., that was effectively run from Johannesburg and given the code name “Pacman” by South African intelligence. I spoke to a source who was intimately familiar with the IFF and the key players behind it, and who asked not to be identified. “The South Africans needed front men,” he told me. “Abramoff was identified early on as an ambitious, up-and-coming American conservative who could be useful.”

The IFF/Pacman advocated for the contras in Nicaragua and the mujahideen in Afghanistan. But its primary interest was South Africa, and much of the group’s energy was spent attempting to discredit Nelson Mandela and the global antiapartheid movement, opposing sanctions on the government and building support for Jonas Savimbi, the loopy but murderous Angolan faction commander backed by Washington and Pretoria (and upon whom Nikolai, Dolph Lundgren’s character in Red Scorpion, is loosely based).

Crystal, it should be noted, denies knowing about such support from the regime, although he concedes it may have happened.

As with some other “libertarian” organisations, the IFF also had links with organisations belonging to other conservative strands. One of these was a Roman Catholic group known as Tradition, Family and Property. I blogged on TFP a couple of years ago, when I researched a revisionist academic conference on the Crusades. (1)

I have in my possession a newsletter published by TFP in South Africa in 1986; page two includes an account of a visit to South Africa by Howard Phillips of the Conservative Caucus and Don McAlvany of the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor. TFP arranged for the delegation to meet a number of individuals and groups, including a pro-apartheid columnist named Aida Parker and “Mr R Crystal of International Freedom Foundation”. (2)

The TFP is known to be extremely right-wing, and it has been accused of cultish, bullying, and heretical practices. The late Penny Lernoux surveyed its role in politics in 1989:

[Plinio Correa de] Oliveira was fifty-two when he founded TFP in Sao Paulo in 1960. By then, he had accumulated a considerable number of hates, including the French Revolution, Protestantism, liberal Catholicism, and Marxism…A major part of TFP income comes from the landed proprietors of South America who, as might be expected, associate agrarian reform with Marxism.

TFP played a role in the 1964 coup in Brazil, and in Uruguay it allegedly received explosives from the Brazilian military attaché that were used to attack communist installations. The editor of TFP’s Chilean magazine, Jaime Guzmán, became chief ideologist for General Pinochet’s regime. It also made links with the right in the USA:

TFP also belongs to an extreme right coalition known as RAMBO that sponsors rightist protests, such as a demonstration against Chevron Oil for its business dealings with the leftist Angolan regime. RAMBO works with the New Right’s Conservative Caucus, and it was through this connection that its leadership became friendly with Paul Weyrich…Weyrich helped TFP organize a press conference in Washington to denounce agrarian reform in Brazil and the “trained and armed bandits coming out of the basic Christian communities.”…TFP in 1986 gave a banquet to honor Weyrich at its Bedford estate. Other influential American friends claimed by TFP included North Carolina’s ultraconservative senator, Jesse Helms…(3)

In South Africa, TFP created “Young South Africans for a Christian Civilization”. TFP boasted that the government had banned a liberal Roman Catholic journal entitled New Nation after TFP had published a booklet against the magazine in 1987. New Nation commissioned a research project on what had happened:

A comparison of the TFP booklet with ‘warnings’ sent New Nation by the Directorate of Media Relations, the Directorate of Publications and other state agencies shows a remarkable coincidence of assumptions, phrases, allegations and even sentence structure. In an interview with TFP (Durban), Dias Wellington showed a Unit researcher copies of letters written to TFP by the State President and Mr C Heunis in which they commended them for their work. Indeed, TFP even took credit for the government’s banning of New Nation in March 1988, claiming that the government had based its decision on the TFP report (see also The Citizen). TFP claimed that “at no stage in the work had the government been asked as such to act against the newspaper” but despite its unsuccessful appeal to the Pope to ban the paper “noted regret on the need for the banning”. This expression of regret fits in well with the government’s strategy to make it appear that bannings of newspapers are the fault of the papers’ owners rather than the government…(4)

TFP also operated in the UK, where it had links with the Conservative Monday Club. (5)


(1) The conference was organised by Roberto de Mattei, who has written a biography of TFP’s founder, Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira. I noted that de Mattei is also an advisor to the “post-fascist” Italian politician Gianfranco Fini. A few years ago Fini’s Alleanza Nazionale party was courted by Andrew Rosindell, former chairman of the Greater London Young Conservatives and Monday Club member and now a Tory MP.

(2) “American Conservative Leaders Visit the TFP in Johannesburg”, in TFP Newsletter, 26, 1986, p.2.

(3) Penny Lernoux, People of God: The Struggle for World Catholicism, New York: Viking Penguin, 1989, pp. 338-9, 341-3.

(4) Research project commissioned by New Nation, 1988. Undertaken by the Centre for Cultural and Media Studies, University of Natal, Durban, South Africa. Re-posted at this website. See also Richard L. Abel, Politics by Other Means: The Struggle against Apartheid 1980-1994, London: Routledge, 1995, p. 283, 305-306.

(5) “Whispers”, in Searchlight, March 1986, p. 16.

Some More Notes on the UK Libertarian Right: Then and Now

A couple of weeks ago I offered a few modest observations concerning the “libertarian” right’s involvement in Southern Africa in the 1980s, taking a British perspective but noting certain trans-Atlantic links. Various bloggers offered kind words (e.g. here and here), and so I’d like to present a brief sequel.

Last year, a prominent right-libertarian was accused of having proposed a strategic alliance with the far-right British National Party during the 1980s. I have no comment to make here about that particular case, but I was interested in the way the story provoked discussion about how the radical libertarian right related to other strands of the right at the time.

Most famously, there were a number of crossovers in 1980s between the right-wing Conservative Monday Club (which was generally opposed to immigration and “premature” decolonisation) and the right-libertarian Federation of Conservative Students. David T at Harry’s Place has offered a bit of commentary on this:

My impression was that the Tory Libertarians were basically pulling the wool over the eyes of the Monday Clubbers who were too thick to realise that the libbies were using them to gain power in Tory studentdom, so they could push their minimal statist agenda. The politics of the Libertarian faction was the polar opposite of that of the Monday Clubbers. What the Monday Clubbers got in return was a bit of nasty right wing rhetoric of the “Hang Nelson Mandela” variety: which was essentially a sop to their bigotry.

It should be noted that not all of the libertarians adopted “Hang Mandela” posturing, and incorrect assumptions in this area have in the past led to libel actions and payouts. However, it should also be noted that among those libertarians who did take this line, some are not keen for it to be known about now: the case of David Hoile and the Guardian is an example of this.

The same posting at Harry’s Place includes input from a second writer:

The libs ditched the MCers as soon as they could, and outmanoeuvred them, effectively taking control of the FCS at a semi-annual conference in Leicester in 1986 (I think it was Easter ’86 – my memory is getting fuzzy). Such was the lib strength that they didn’t need even those…who were part of the Thatcherite coalition but neither MC or hardline lib.

As the FCS came under attack from the mainstream Tory Central Office (which eventually shut it down), the libertarian perspective migrated to the Greater London Young Conservatives, displacing the GLYC centrists. The Guardian reported at the time:

The Greater London Young Conservatives duly continued their lurch to the right at the annual conference at the weekend. The Moat House at Stifford, near Grays in Essex, was decorated with posters supporting the Contras and Unita, and standing ovations were given to Ian Gow, MP for his denunciation of the Anglo-Irish agreement, Sir Alfred Sherman for his advocacy of market forces, and Teresa Gorman of the Alliance of Small Firms and Businesses for recommendations like privatising the fire brigade. The name of Norman Tebbit was mud following his withdrawal of Tory Central Office support for the Federation of Conservative Students last week, and some members refused to stand for a toast proposed to him by the handful of wets [i.e. centrists]…the GLYCs looks increasingly like the chosen haven for refugee[s]…from the FCS.(1)

GYLC activists included Andrew VR Smith, who does not appear to have been a libertarian himself but who worked closely with libertarians in the Monday Club and GYLC such as Adrian Lee (Private Eye magazine covered their antics regularly, and gave both men nicknames: Smith was “the stick insect”, while Lee was “Podge”). In 1985 Smith led a Young Monday Club delegation that included libertarians to Washington D.C., to liaise with Young Republicans and to meet Jesse Helms. (2)

Another organisation which saw “libbies” and more traditionally conservative strands work together was Western Goals (UK), the British end of an American anti-Communist outfit which had links with the World Anti-Communist League. An American book on WACL published in 1986 gives some background about the American origins:

…Western Goals is open about its mission: it seeks a return to the internal surveillance practices of the 1950s. One of its “documentary” films, The Subversion Factor, details the internal security problems that in their view have beset the United States since the late 1950s. It also operates a weekly radio program that is carried over seventy stations throughout the country and publishes a newsletter and such monographs as D’Aubuisson on Democracy and The War Called Peace, “a startling account of those who are actually financing the nuclear freeze movement.” (3)

It was founded in 1979 by Representative Larry P. McDonald, the former John Birch Society chairman who died on a Korean Air Lines flight that was shot down by the USSR in 1983. Various conservative Congressmen were involved with Western Goals, along with Joe McCarthy’s old sidekick Roy Cohn and General John Singlaub, who headed WACL (“D’Aubuisson”, of course, was Roberto D’Aubuisson, the El Salvadoran leader who terrorised his own country with death squads, and who was likely responsible for the murder of Archbishop Oscar Romero).

Western Goals (UK) was established by a group that included Andrew Smith and young Tory libertarians such as Mark Haley. Of course, we should not assume that the UK branch subscribed to all the views of the US parent organisation, which collapsed during the Iran-Contra scandal (one of the group’s directors, Linda Guell, had assisted Oliver North). Western Goals (UK) continued as the Western Goals Institute, but the libertarians dissociated themselves from it as it became increasingly right-wing; WGI eventually forged links with Jean-Marie Le Pen and with the Conservative Party of South Africa (I may write more about Western Goals in a future blog entry, although UK libel law makes it a tricky subject.). These moves were particularly denounced by the libertarian Marc Gordon, who ran the British branch of Jack Abramoff’s International Freedom Foundation. (4)

While most libertarians were and are opposed to racism as a matter of principle, it should be remembered that libertarianism is not itself inherently “anti-racist” – as I noted in November, for instance, the libertarian Antony Flew (another one-time Western Goalie) is an enthusiast of the eugenicist Richard Lynn. Further, the right-libertarian obsession with economic libertarianism can sometimes be at the expense of civil libertarianism. More than once now, I’ve noted the views of Prof David Marsland on how to win the “War on Terror” (emphases added):

Halt or segregate air flights into or out of Britain by Arabs.

…Strengthen anti-terrorist legislation to allow on suspicion indefinite secret imprisonment (without appeal, without visits and without any privileges), tough interrogation, and where necessary summary execution by authorised agents.

Reduce the need for prisons in Iraq by authorising summary execution of known enemy. Throw journalists, servicemen or anyone else who seek to file lying and negative reports about conditions in terrorist prisons in Iraq or elsewhere into these same prisons for an indefinite term.

Censor prejudiced and negative reporting of the war against terrorism by British media. Neutralise by military means any Arab media providing a propaganda outlet for terrorists.

This was after Marsland had received a “Liberty in Theory” award from the Libertarian Alliance activist and theorist Timothy Evans; the Libertarian Alliance became the best-known libertarian organisation in the late 1980s and 1990s, and is still going.

Marsland and Flew were both patrons of the now-defunct Right Now! magazine, which brought libertarians and more authoritarian-minded strands together in the 1990s. The magazine folded at the end of 2006; Searchlight magazine published a predictably scathing obituary a few months later:

Right Now! was founded in 1993…[It] swiftly became a forum for the remnants of the old Powellite [i.e. followers of the notorious anti-immigration MP Enoch Powell] right fused with a smattering of radical Conservative activists drawn from the ranks of the Federation of Conservative Students and the Revolutionary Conservative Caucus, not to mention a number of National Front and British National Party members.

…Ideologically Right Now! was almost a mirror of American Renaissance edited by Jared Taylor. [Editor Derek] Turner and Taylor maintained close contact with Taylor speaking [at] a Right Now! readers’ meeting. Turner reciprocated and most recently addressed the seventh American Renaissance conference in the company of Nick Griffin, the BNP leader, and…David Duke. (5)

Searchlight also reported on a conference in 2006, held in central London:

Although it was advertised in advance the conference took place in comparative secrecy. Only when the tickets arrived did delegates find out the venue, Mark Mason’s Hall, 86 St James Street, the same salubrious setting as last year.

…The usual suspects were there in force. They included Allan Robertson (London Swinton Circle), Gregory Lauder-Frost (Traditional Britain Group)…[and] Dr Sean Gabb (Libertarian Alliance)…There was a large British National Party contingent too, numbering around 20. (6)

The BNP attendees included the absurd Rev. Robert West, whom I blogged here. One BNP member

…sat in from his colleagues nestled between Mike Smith of the Conservative Democratic Alliance (CDA) and Right Now! columnist Robert Henderson…

Many delegates were extremely well disposed to the BNP contingent, who in turn were clearly delighted to be hobnobbing with figures such as Gregory Lauder-Frost and an array of individuals from the Freedom Association and UKIP, all of whom knew exactly whom they were talking to.

The conference covered such subjects as racial IQ differences (Prof Richard Lynn), the “multicultural pestilence” (Dr Frank Ellis), and the “biological basis of patriotism” (Prof Philippe Rushton of the Pioneer Fund).

Perhaps we should conclude that all these right-wingers were, like the non-libertarian Monday Clubbers of the 1980s, “too thick to realise” that the libertarians in their midst had another agenda?

UPDATE: More here.


(1) Stephen Cook, “People Diary”, in The Guardian, 14 November 1985.

(2) Stephen Cook, “Diary”, in The Guardian, 20 March 1985.

(3) Scott Anderson and Jon Lee Anderson, Inside the League, New YorK: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1986, p. 156.

(4) Marc Gordon, “Le Pen visit”, in The Times, 4 December 1991.

(5) David Williams, “Right Now! calls time”, in Searchlight, March 2007, pp. 16-17.

(6) David Williams, “Right Here, Right Now!“, in Searchlight, Dec 2006 pp. 14-15.

Most Absurd Libel Threat Ever

The Village Voice reports on three self-proclaimed “ex-terrorists” who have spoken in venues such as the the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, where they apparently suggested Christian proselytism of Muslims would be best way to fight the “War on Terror” (emphasis added):

Critics question whether the three speakers—Walid Shoebat, Kamal Saleem, and Zachariah Anani—really engaged in the terrorist activities they claim. Shoebat says he’s a former PLO operative who terrorized Jews, gave his ex-wife “Muslim-style beatings,” and planted a bomb in a bank. Saleem, a Christian minister, says he was a PLO child soldier who transported weapons into Israel via underground tunnels. Anani says he’s killed at least 223 people and was “almost beheaded” in Lebanon for converting to Christianity.

…But questions about the credibility of the three men’s terror claims aren’t going away. The New York Times pointed out that the FBI is actively seeking anyone with a history of terrorist activity in the U.S., but the Times called the bureau and confirmed that there were no warrants out for any of them.

…In response, the men have spent significant time trying to prove that they actually did kill people, and that they used to hate Jews as much as the next Muslim extremist. “I planted a bomb in a bank!” insists Shoebat, whose handler, Keith Davies, has threatened a libel suit against The Times over the article that questioned his claims.

Davies has also threatened a pro-Palestinian blogger named Eileen Fleming, who has spoken to Shoebat’s relatives and written a debunking. He sent her the following message a couple of weeks ago:

Below is an article written by Mr Shoebat that refutes everything you say. We can produce numerous documents to prove every word of Mr. Shoebat’s story.

To avoid a lawsuit you need to contact us by email within 24 hours, it is now 1 a.m. aprox EST, so you can issue a full apology and retraction. We will provide instructions once you contact us. If you do not we will use the full weight of the law so that the integretity [sic] of Mr. Shoebat’s story is protected.

The article is entitled: “I Was a Terrorist: In Defense of my Identity, Story and Credentials”.

So, Shoebat thinks that if he can prove that he really was a terrorist then he should be compensated for loss of reputation over being accused of lying about it.

Incidentally, Daniel Pipes has staked his reputation on Shoebat’s authenticity, claiming to have seen “proof” of his story.

(Hat tip: Talk to Action – see here and here)

WND Hits Paydirt

Forget “Jesus Junk” – WorldNetDaily has “the ultimate gift”:

For a limited time, genuine Temple Mount soil is being made available exclusively to WND readers as part of a campaign of solidarity with the Mount, which is under threat by Islamists and by Israeli government laws banning Christians and Jews from worshiping at the site or visiting during most hours of the day.

Well, given that the gallons of Holy Land crude oil promised to WND readers have so far failed to materialize, dirt from the Temple Mount is at least a more realistic prospect:

This past summer WND was able to salvage a very small amount of soil from the Temple Mount slated to be disposed by the Waqf, the holy site’s Islamic custodians. The soil, which originates near what many consider the holiest place of the Mount itself, was searched for ancient relics since the Waqf numerous times has attempted to dispose of Temple artifacts.

One imagines Aaron Klein stuffing his trousers with the brown gold while interviewing local Islamists, or some such scene.

Show your love for Jerusalem’s holiest site. Purchase a Temple Mount solidarity necklace containing earthy soil from the Mount and pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Act quickly as supplies are extremely limited.

Cost: $79.95, with some issues of Whistleblower thrown in.

The soil is being brought to the USA by Holy Land Earth, LLC, which garnered some media interest last year when it began importing Israeli soil:

Genuine earth from the Holy Land is available to purchase in the United States for the very first time. A state-of-the-art method of processing has been developed for the earth to meet American import regulations and be available for individual sale. Holy Land Earth comes directly from Israel and has a multitude of uses; it can bring a touch of purity to any area of your life. It may be added to a loved one’s burial, sprinkled on a nascent planting or held onto for keepsake and good fortune.

Stones are also available. According to the company’s website:

Holy Land Earth is certified genuine by Rabbi Velvel Brevda- the director of the Council of Geula, Jerusalem. Rabbi Brevda travels between Israel and America, and oversees the entire collecting, importing, and packaging processes.

The rabbi is apparently well-respected, but has a minimal internet presence (Geula is an ultra-orthodox neighbourhood of Jerusalem). The founder of the company, 25-year-old Steven Friedman, was interviewed by the Religion News Service:

“I’ve gotten e-mails from people that have told me that they are Jewish, they are Christian, they are Muslim, they are unaffiliated,” he said. “I’ve had a few Scientology people that have e-mailed me that they find this fascinating. Evangelical Christians have been responding in e-mails that they love it.”

A trend within Evangelicalism to appropriate Jewish artefacts and practices is something I noted here, and this is doubtless what WND hopes to cash in on. Of course, little vials of “Holy Land soil” have been available for years, and are particularly popular with Roman Catholics. The Wittenberg Door has one suggestion for how soil from Israel might be put to use:

Mixed with a little water from the River Jordan, you can even make holyland mud pies.

Museveni Tells Pastors to Avoid Politics

An opinion piece in the Kampala Monitor accuses Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni of hypocrisy:

About one and a half years ago, a leader of a sprawling Pentecostal Church in a valley between Makerere University and Mulago hospital, boasted that President Yoweri Museveni in part owed his triumph in the 2006 election to his “holy” waters.

Pastor Samuel Kakande said the President had visited the Synagogue Church of all Nations during the campaigns where he was blessed to attain victory.

Around 2003/4 leaders of Pentecostal churches also reportedly offered to mobilise some four million voters of their faithful to support the President’s bid for a third term.

Museveni has also enjoyed the support of prominent American neo-Pentecostals; as I’ve blogged, he has recceived endorsements from Morris Cerullo and Benny Hinn, and there are links with Creflo Dollar (that nasty business in 2006 in which an American evangelist named Peter Waldron was locked up on terrorism charges and then released seems to have been forgotten).

However, Museveni is now planning a land reform bill, and a number of pastors have criticised it. Suddenly, Museveni wants religious leaders to concentrate on the spiritual side of things and avoid meddling in politics. The New Vision reported:

PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni has lashed out at religious and traditional leaders who engage in politicking over land.

“I hear some religious and traditional leaders commenting on everything. The issue of land comes, the priest is the one to talk first. Why don’t you wait for your time? Should I also start baptizing?” Museveni asked.

He advised the clergy to first understand the issues before commenting on them.

Museveni defended his rebuke a few days ago:

“There are many ways of removing a government. We have tamed the army and introduced democracy. But somebody can use inciting statements to create instability”, he said.

If religious leaders had complaints, they should forward them to him privately, the way the late Cardinal Nsubuga used to do, he advised.

But if they have anything positive to say about the president, presumably they should shout it from the pulpits…

Ex-Prisoner Condemns UK Government over Saudi Bribe Probe Block

Back in December 2000, the first of several British men was arrested in Saudi Arabia following a number of terrorist incidents. Rather than admit to a problem with al-Qaeda, the regime found it more expedient to round-up some ex-pats, subject them to torture until they confessed to a plot involving illicit alcohol, and then parade them on TV. Had the regime gone after the real terrorists rather than innocent foreigners, one wonders if intelligence about al-Qaeda might have emerged that could have prevented 9/11. The men were released – escaping a death sentence – in 2003 as terrorism in Saudi Arabia escalated; the story can be read here.

One of the men has a letter in today’s Guardian:

…When we sought the government’s assistance in seeking legal redress after enduring 32 months of false imprisonment and torture in Saudi Arabia, the Saudis warned Foreign Office minister Liz Symonds to back off and told her it would be counterproductive for the British government to get involved.

But the Foreign Office didn’t just back off, it obstructed justice. When our lawyer, Geoffrey Bindman, won us the right to sue our Saudi torturers, the government granted them immunity. Our government looked the other way when we were sentenced to death and while we were being tortured, and then actually helped Saudi officials evade justice after the court of appeal ruled there could be no blanket immunity in cases of torture…The government has cheapened our moral values, flouted the rule of law and violated our human rights in the hope of winning favour and pleasing the corrupt princes of the house of Saud.

Sandy Michell

Mitchell was responding to reports from Friday concerning why the UK government had been prepared to block an inquiry into whether BAE had illegally bribed members of the Saudi government for contracts:

Saudi Arabia’s rulers threatened to make it easier for terrorists to attack London unless corruption investigations into their arms deals were halted, according to court documents revealed yesterday.

Previously secret files describe how investigators were told they faced “another 7/7” and the loss of “British lives on British streets” if they pressed on with their inquiries and the Saudis carried out their threat to cut off intelligence.

The threats allegedly came from Prince Bandar, who is said to have himself trousered £1 billion from BAE. Of course, the story isn’t quite as fresh as the Guardian story suggests; the intelligence threat was reported back in November 2006.

Incidentally, Bandar isn’t the only person to have received secret funds from BAE; last April it was revealed that BAE had paid an investigator to monitor the Campaign Against the Arms Trade. The person they employed was a certain Paul Mercer, who is known for his anti-CND activities and who was an activist in Young Conservatives back in the late 1980s (he’s also a friend of Conservative Party shadow defence minister Julian Lewis). Details about how this came to light can be seen here; the legal documents are rather interesting. Not much seems to have happened since then, although an article by Mark Thomas from December states that “CAAT are continuing legal proceedings against him”.