Who is your Real Enemy?

Dr. Richard L. Benkin writes for Blitz



How many Bangladeshis have been killed by Israeli bombs or Israeli terrorists?  The answer, of course, is NONE.  That’s very odd because as I read the Bangladeshi press over the past weeks, months, and years, one would think that your people’s greatest enemy is Israel.  Israel alone among all nations is not a valid travel destination for Bangladeshis.  Israel—along with the United States—is referred to in dark terms, suggesting its leadership in an anti-Islamic conspiracy.  Yet, its Muslim citizens have the highest standard of living among all Middle East Muslims.


Articles in the Bangladeshi press demonize Israel for non-specific “human rights abuses,” declaring Israel an enemy of Bangladesh.  Yet, has Bangladesh ever objected to real and documented human rights abuses by a legion of nations—from China and North Korea to Saudi Arabia and Syria to Cuba and Iran?  Has Bangladesh ever declared its passports invalid for travel to any of those nations?


Since reclaiming Jerusalem in 1967, Israel has guaranteed the rights of Muslims at that city’s Temple Mount, Al Aqsa’s location—even at the expense of Jewish rights. Israel allows Muslim prayer on the Mount, but arrests any Jews attempting to pray there.  Since 1967, attendance at Al-Aqsa prayer has been greater than it was under Jordanian occupation.  Israel has looked the other way while the Muslim Waqf built additional mosques ripped out of the Temple Mount’s ancient foundations.  Despite its defense of Muslim holy sites, Bangladesh skewers Israel as Islam’s enemy.  But Bangladesh maintains relations with India, whose citizens destroyed the Babri mosque.  Sixteen percent of Bangladesh’s citizens are Hindu, yet Bangladesh maintains relations with Sri Lanka, which destroyed Hindu shrines in the Mannar district in 1990; India, which destroyed the Babri mosque and continuing its repression on the religious minorities, and with Pakistan, responsible for the destruction and desecration of countless Hindu shines in Kashmir in the 1980s and 1990s.  Neither did Bangladesh withdraw recognition of the Afghani Taliban after they began destroying all “statues and non-Islamic shrines.”  Yet, it does not accord recognition to Israel, defender of Al Aqsa and other Muslim shines.  (And I would challenge anyone to produce one scintilla of credible evidence—not hyperbole or propaganda—that Israel has done anything else!)


That all pales into insignificance in the face of what is happening now to the people of Bangladesh, whose country has become a favorite target of international terrorists.  Terrorist attacks began in August and have grown in lethality and frequency since.  Their favorite target it the legal system—the guarantor against anarchy and the greatest obstacle in the terrorists’ stated goal of turning Bangladesh into a Taliban state with Sharia as the law of the land.  They proudly claim they will continue to murder innocent Bangladeshis until they achieve their personal goals.


Experts on international terrorism, Bangladeshi government spokespersons, press commentators all agree that their sources of funding and support are international.  Yet, despite the Herculean efforts by State Minister for Home Affairs Lutfuzzaman Babar, their identity remains shrouded in mystery.  But should it?


Statements by the terrorists make it clear that they are among the “baby Al Qaeda” groups that are springing up in various parts of the world now that the US has bin Laden and his ilk on the run.  And for a long time, their international backers have not only been known, but have openly claimed credit for their support.  Iran is the number one funding and safe haven source for terrorists.  Saudi Arabia, though now fighting Al Qaeda in its midst, remains a paramount source of terrorist funding.  Syria and the Sudan also deserve mention for their international terrorist role.  Has there been any inquiry to those governments?  Have Bangladeshi passports been ruled invalid for travel to those places?


No?  Well, that’s odd since they’re invalid for Israel, which has not funded the murder of innocent Bangladeshis.   Someday soon, however, the evidence of  those other nations’ complicity will be known.  When that happens, will Bangladesh outlaw travel to those nations?  Will they be demonized in the press, classrooms, and mosques?  And will Bangladeshi withdraw its formal recognition of those countries.


The terrorists have placed Bangladesh at a crossroads in its international policy.  No matter how one dresses it up, Bangladesh today is a nation under siege by Islamic terrorists.  The other two nations that have seen many of its citizens murdered by Islamic terrorists recently—Jordan and Egypt—both have peace treaties with Israel.  Both nations have recently returned their ambassadors to Israel, and relations with the Jewish State are warming.


It is time that Bangladesh does the same.


Bangladesh is at a crossroads.  Its people demand that the terrorists be defeated.  And Israel has done the best job of defeating terrorism.  For is there any doubt that if Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Al Qaeda, Hizbullah, and the rest could successfully attack Israel they would?  Their efforts of late have been anemic at best, and they have killed far more Muslims than Israelis.  Which nation besides Israel could offer more to the people of Bangladesh?


Defeating terrorism also requires that tacit support for it be eradicated from various social institutions. 

Every time a pundit or government leader condemns terrorism, but tries to exempt “freedom fighters,” they say that terror is justified if the terrorist feels sufficiently aggrieved.  Evidently, the Bangladeshi terrorists believe themselves aggrieved.  They believe that the nation of Bangladesh has desecrated their faith.  Failing to condemn unequivocally terrorist attacks in Israel gives aid and comfort to those who would make an argument that terror is a legitimate tactic for their particular causes—in this case, for turning Bangladesh into a Taliban state.


Some years back, Blitz editor and my dear friend, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury warned about the rise of these terror cells, about the support they find in various social institutions.  Over the past months, more than one terrorism expert has said that Al Qaeda and their clones will search for new havens now that the US has thrown them out of Afghanistan and Iraq; and now that Arab nations including Egypt and Saudi Arabia are squeezing them domestically.


For the past several months, I have suggested that the war on terror look not just to the Arab world, but to non-Arab Muslim Asia as well.  I have argued that, geographically, Bangladesh in particular would be a very tempting target for the terrorists.  Its proximity to India (Number 3 on the terrorists’ most hated nation list after Israel and the US) makes it perfect for them.  Will the world and the people of Bangladesh allow the terrorists to turn that nation into the next battleground in the war on terror?


The need to answer that question is coming more quickly than one might think.  Terror attacks are becoming more frequent; fatalities are climbing; and the terrorists are losing on every other front.   But Bangladesh can save itself.


Choose to ally the nation with the world’s most successful terror fighters: Israel and the United States. Give the terrorists a blow from which they will not recover.  Recognize the Jewish State.  And why not?  The nation that has sent more soldiers to fight Israel, Egypt, has formal relations with it.  The Palestinian Authority recognizes Israel, works with the Israelis daily, and depends on Israeli economy for its lifeblood.  And there are so many more benefits the people of Bangladesh would get.  Israeli technology is unmatched anywhere in the world.  Your very cell phones could not function without the Israeli inventions that are at their core. During the first half of 2005, Israel’s exports of industrial products to Arab countries rose by 26%. Iraq, Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan, Egypt, and other nations benefit from the industrial and consumer products that Israel provides their people.


The government of Bangladesh struggles to protect its people from terrorists, struggles to improve their standard of living, struggles to improve its industrial base.  Yet, it passes up their solution and victory over terrorism by taking an extreme position on Israel, while other Arab and Muslim nations are not depriving their people.  And for what?


My own sources tell me that identifying the international forces behind the terror attacks in your country is close, and certain organizations are very close.  All that the government of Bangladesh need do is knock on the right door, and declare itself an unwavering ally in the war on terrorism—all terrorism, including that against Israelis.  But Bangladeshi is a democracy, answerable to its people, and it will only knock on that door when its people recognize that this is the move that will save lives.  Only then, will the government recognize Israel and defeat the forces of terror killing your people.



Oman offers free Aids test in 10 minutes

Suraiyya Aziz reports from Muscat



Diagnostic test for HIV/Aids is already free in Oman. But for one month from now you can expect more. The Ministry of Health has launched a rapid HIV/Aids test in co-operation with the Unicef Oman. The test involves just a pin prick and the result is out within 10 minutes. What is more the test is anonymous and free; there is no hassle of getting registered or disclosing one’s name! Just walk in any of the 10 health centres where the “Get Tested” initiative has been launched.

The initiative launched yesterday at 10 health centres under the auspices of Dr Ahmed al Ghassani, Under-Secretary for Health Affairs, Ministry of Health, is part of the recently launched national campaign of Unicef Oman entitled Unite for Children. Unite Against Aids, with emphasis on the importance of protecting children including young people infected or affected by the virus.

The “Get Tested” initiative was launched at the Mutrah Health Centre yesterday wherein about 40 staff members of the Ministry of Health, Unicef Oman, and WHO Oman got themselves tested, including Dr Al Ghassani, along with eight students from the Higher College of Technology to help eliminate the stigma and shame associated with HIV/Aids.

Speaking to Observer Dr Ali Ahmed Salim Ba Omer, Head of Aids Section and National Programme Manager for TB and Leprosy at the Ministry of Health, said: “This initiative will encourage further testing and raise awareness on the importance of building a safe environment free of HIV/Aids for future generations in the Sultanate, neighbouring countries and the world at large.

Hamed al Wahaibi, rally driver, the goodwill ambassador of Unicef Oman, also participated in the event because rapid HIV tests can play an important role in HIV prevention activities. Dr Ali Ba Omer said the toll-free HIV/Aids Control hotline in Oman (800 711-711) works under the motto of “Security and Confidentiality”.

Run by a group of 10 volunteers, this telephone service has been put in place to answer any inquiries on HIV/Aids or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), provides general information on HIV/Aids, conducts confidential counselling and arranges for testing and treatment of affected people.

The counselling session focuses on several issues such as causes of infection, ways of prevention and treatment with full confidentially and only under the request of the individual, he/she is transferred to the appropriate facility for proper medical examination and testing, if HIV is suspected or for reassuring purposes.

According to a brochure on the HIV/Aids Control Hotline, brought out by the Ministry of Health and Unicef, in 2003 the number of HIV infected Omanis registered with the Ministry of Health was 845. In the last 10 years more than 90 per cent of Aids cases in the country were contracted through sexual intercourse and drugs. Plans are also underway to introduce more languages at the Hotline so that people of different languages can benefit from its services.



The queen of blogging

Wendy Liu writes from China



"After watching my body, if I expose my face to you then the only thing left will be emotion." Well, in a way I agree - it doesn't matter if she does or does not expose her face on her blog.

Mu Mu is the latest it girl in a string of blogging Chinese following the style of Mu Zimei and the now infamous Sister Lotus, although this new kid on the block again and again has expressed scorn for her two online comrades... or maybe she sees them as competitors.

Just by reading the name of Mu Mu's blog it is immediately evident what content you'll find within: "The Body of a Dancing Girl." The difference between Mu Mu and the string of other copycats is that she posts a sexy photo of her body, sans face, with every diary entry.

Her body is quite hot and her writing is very decent indeed, so it really is no surprise that her fame has spread like wildfire throughout the online world.

Almost all of Mu Mu's photos feature her in a skimpy bikini striking sexy pose after sexy pose, which is why people compare her with Mu Zimei who is well known for the way her diary entries are always descriptions of sex acts.

Sex sells and these two girls know it. But according to Mu Mu, they are selling different things.

"We are two completely different people. Some like to exchange peacockery with her and men's privacy. But I do not. Look at her flat body and you will discover that we are totally different," says the pouty Mu Mu. She is setting her sights at the top of blogging fame and doesn't mind stepping on others to get to the there.

But some visitors to her blog doubt whether the photos are really of Mu Mu's body, and many want to see her face. Rumors abound that she may have a hot body, but she probably doesn't show her face because she is dog ugly.

She answers these accusations in the intro to her blog: "My body is not a secret to you, as long as you see my face, when the four eyes meet, the only thing that can happen is love."

So it is a public service she is providing by not showing her face. And her tactics are working as the number of people logging onto her online diary has already clicked past 10,000.

"I began to write this blog in July this year thinking that if I received over 10,000 visitors I would stop, but now with so many visitors I am unable to stop!"

I appreciate Mu Mu's witty and mature writing style. She actually understands the fun of irony and writes about reading, other authors and discusses topics like marriage in a most thoughtful way.

She steers away from being overtly sexual in her diary entries, which is refreshing as any fool can blog about trashy romances [see Mu Zimei]. In this way, Mu Mu deserves her fame much more than the other flash in the pan female bloggers.

What really got me hooked on Mu Mu though, was a comparison made to Zweig - an Austrian biographer, essayist, short story writer and cosmopolitan, who advocated the idea of an united Europe under one government and is extremely popular among China's youth - who famously said, "I write because I am desperate." "But I write because I am excited," says blogger. Mu Mu really is a rising star to watch. 



Koreans Called upon

Korean Central News Agency



The idea of "By our nation itself", the basic idea in the era of independent reunification, serves as a motive force enabling all members of the nation to discharge their responsibility and role in the movement for national reunification and a source of strength for victoriously advancing the movement, says Rodong Sinmun in a signed article. The Korean nation's movement for independent reunification has turned into a nationwide movement which involves all the Koreans, be they persons in authority or common people, irrespective of their ideology, political views and religious beliefs, the article says, adding: It has become a major trend of the history of the nation to advance guided by the idea of "By our nation itself." The historic June 15 joint declaration serves as a landmark for national reunification in the 21st century as it is a declaration on the independent reunification of the nation in which the Koreans in the north and the south committed themselves to solve the issue of national reunification independently by their concerted efforts.

The basic spirit of the joint declaration is the idea of "By our nation itself."
If Koreans are to discharge their responsibility and role in the issue of reunification, they should unite as one among other things. They have improved the inter-Korean relations and advanced the movement for national reunification since the publication of the joint declaration despite outsiders' vicious challenges to reunification. These successes and experience gained in it clearly prove that Koreans in the north and the south can reunify the country independently just as desired and required by the nation only when they fully discharge their responsibility and role in close unity as parties responsible for reunification. Herein lies the cause why the idea of "By our nation itself" serves as a motive force enabling all the Koreans to discharge their responsibility and role in the movement for national reunification.
The idea also serves as a source of strength enabling the Koreans to wage the movement for national reunification as a nationwide patriotic movement, the article says, stressing the need for all the Koreans to hold high the banner of "By our nation itself" and vigorously advance the movement for reconciliation, cooperation and reunification under that banner no matter how desperately the anti-reunification forces at home and abroad may work.



Parents still hope to find daughter alive

Suraiyya Aziz writes from Thailand



Sascha and Patchara “Riem” Meissmer have new hope of being reunited with their five-year-old daughter, Solitaire, who was presumed lost in the tsunami in Phang Nga nearly a year ago.

Since friends in
Germany alerted them last week to an Internet photo showing a young, Eurasian-looking girl they thought resembled Solitaire, the Meissmers have been trying to determine the identity of the girl in the picture.

“I can’t get the photo out of my mind,” Mr Meissmer said. “We cannot stop looking for Solitaire now. If we did, one day I might look at her photo and ask myself, ‘Why didn’t I look deeper into this?’”

The picture on the www.phuketremembers.com website appears to have been taken on
December 27, 2004 in a Phuket Provincial Administration Organization (OrBorJor) office, and includes medical staff of a nearby hospital, he said.

Mr Meissmer, who has lived in
Thailand for eight years, told the Gazette today that he and his wife are to meet with Governor Udomsak Uswarangkura at the Provincial Hall tomorrow morning. They believe the Governor is willing to help them resolve the issue by helping to find out who took the photograph.

The Meissmers received an official Kinship
DNA Match Report, signed by three DNA experts, from the Thai Tsunami Victim Identification unit in July this year. The victim’s body was collected by the Meissmers and cremated; a death certificate was issued in August.

However, the Meissmers are now convinced that there could have been a mistake.

“None of Solitaire’s distinctive scars – one on the back of her right heel, one on her forehead and one on her chest – is mentioned in the report,” Mr Meissmer said.

“It just says the physical comparison matches in terms of sex, age, hair color and height. The
DNA match is stated as 99.99%. But it was a chaotic time and we have doubts about the scientific process.”

“It is just possible that the girl in that photo is our daughter,” Mr Meissmer added. “We have to do whatever we can to find out. I don’t want to reach age 50 or 60 thinking I could have found my daughter years ago if only I had tried harder.”



UAE invests USD 5Bn in Morocco

Blitz Desk



USD 5Bn, placing the Gulf country at the top of Arab countries investing in the kingdom, said Emirati ambassador, Issa Hamad Abu Shihab.

These investments, which concern several sectors like real estate, seaside resorts, trade centers, road and port infrastructures, aim to back the Moroccan economy and to create new jobs, the diplomat told "MAP."

Past may, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed, a draft accord to launch USD 2Bn "Amwaj" project in the Bouregreg river valley that separates the capital Rabat from millennium-old city of Salé.

The project, to extend on a 100ha area, is aimed at boosting tourism and economic activity in the Moroccan capital.

New UAE investments are due to be launched in 2006 said Abu Shihab, citing, in this respect, the prospects of Emirati businessmen in the Kingdom.

He also said that the two counties are working to reactivates the agreements facilitating Moroccan labor flow in UAE, recalling that some 12,000 Moroccan work in his country.