Photo of the Day

Gertrude Bell, third from left, was flanked by Winston Churchill and T.E. Lawrence on a visit to the Pyramids in 1921. Credit The Gertrude Bell Archive, Newcastle University.

‘Queen of the Desert’

Gertrude Bell Scaled the Alps, Mapped Arabia, and Midwifed the Modern Middle East

In a picture taken to mark the Cairo Conference of 1921,?Gertrude Bell?- characteristically elegant in a fur stole and floppy hat, despite being on camel back – sits right at the heart of the action. To one side is Winston Churchill, on her other TE Lawrence.

Bell was his equal in every sense: the first woman to achieve a first (in modern history) from Oxford, an archaeologist, linguist, Arabist, adventurer and, possibly, spy. In her day, she was arguably the most powerful woman in the British Empire?- central to the decisions that created the modern Middle East and reverberate still on the nightly news.

Yet while Lawrence is still celebrated, she has largely been forgotten.

Newspaper articles of the time show she was known all over the world. The minutes of the Cairo Conference record her presence at every key discussion but not one of the men mentions her in their memoirs. It?s as if she never existed

How to chart the life of an Englishwoman ? an explorer, spy, Mountaineer, translator, and archaeologist ? who?s been all but written out of colonial Middle Eastern history? Luckily Gertrude Bell was a prolific letter writer? and ?early photography enthusiast and? she left behind some 1,600 letters and over 7,000 photographs.?It was an interest in archaeology that helped propel Bell?s many trips into the desert, beginning in 1900 to Palmyra. She nurtured the ambition of being the first to discover and document a site. Early in her travels, she recognised the importance of photographic documentation, along with notes, drawings, rubbings and casts. Bell was a complex, fascinating woman who was pivotal in the tangled history of the modern state of Iraq.

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Palestinian despot and Murray McCully – two peas in a pod

Embed from Getty Images

Yesterday in Ramallah, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (12 years into his four year term) linked global terror to the lack of resolution on the ?Palestinian question?.

?The world is completely convinced that neither could the events taking place around us and across the world nor the issue of terrorism can be handled without solving the Palestinian question,? ? said Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas

That is, the Palestinians believe that global terror (not even Middle Eastern terror, let alone just West Bank and Gaza terror) is solely the result of the perpetuation of the Israel/Palestinian conflict or the lack of resolution to ?the Palestinian question?. ? Read more »

UPDATED:Terrorists complain that their operatives were killed by the country they were targeting

What a weird world we live in. I woke this morning to the following headline.

Hamas blames Egypt for deaths of 3 from toxic gas in Gaza tunnel

Imagine the conversation with the journalist:

Question: So what happened Muhammad?

Answer: Well I and other members of Hamas were hard at work repairing our tunnel that the oppressive Egyptian?army had damaged yet again.

Question: That is a pretty big tunnel Muhammad, where do you and your men source all the concrete from?

Answer: Well our allies in the UN supply we Palestinians with millions of dollars worth of concrete and other building materials for free to rebuild our cities that have been destroyed.

Question: How do the building materials get to Palestine?

Answer: The Israelis deliver it to us.

Question: Your enemies deliver it to you? Why would they do that?

Answer: Because we tell them that it will be used to build hospitals and schools and roads and houses and parks.

Question: But shouldn’t you be using the concrete to rebuild homes and infrastructure for your people?

Answer: It is more important that we build these tunnels to advance the peace process in order to work towards a one state solution.

Question: A one state solution? Peace? That sounds wonderful, how are you going to achieve that?

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Still think you did the right thing Murray?

And Prime Minister Bill English can’t even say if Israel will answer the phone if we call. ?Has no idea of our diplomatic status. ?Which isn’t much of a surprise when both ambassadors have been punted.

Murray’s brain fart has put us on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of our allies, and the wrong side of decency. Read more »

Shouldn’t NZ’s leading academics be objective and non-political?

In New Zealand, we have a problem with both journalism and academia. Both careers have historically been all about balance and objectivity but more and more of our leading academics are involving themselves in politics and promoting themselves as experts to the media even when their fields of expertise have nothing to do with the topic they are talking about.

Two terrorist sympathisers who have been held up as experts on the Israel-Palestine problem by the New Zealand Herald are both University of Auckland Dance Studies lecturers. Yes really. Even better another one is a senior lecturer at the Massey University School of People,?Environment and Planning. Perhaps they all have a cunning plan for peace that involves dancing around trees as they plant them on the border?

Dance Studies

…Quite how these academics qualify as experts ? or even objective commentators ? on the complex Israeli-Palestinian question is a moot point. There is much to contest in the letter and numerous factual inaccuracies. What is clear, however, is the academics? eschewing of Western Liberal values for support and appeasement of terrorists.

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The Power of Influence

Guest post


The Israeli Question

The first I heard about UN Resolution 2334 was when Cam described Murray McCully as a ?sneaky little weasel? and I had to read on to find out why. But Israel is not exactly high on my agenda, so I read the article and thought little more of it.

But more articles followed, and as I started to read the comments, I began to see that there was quite a lot of support for Israel ? so much so that people said they would change their vote over it.

Really? So you are going to trash your own country over this? How petulant!

But the issue wasn?t going to go away, so I decided that I needed to read up a bit on the subject, and try to understand why people were so hot under the collar about it.

Most articles I read ? and I had to head to the foreign press to do so ? were in support of the Resolution. I read that Israel building settlements had been the reason why the peace process broke down in 2014.

Well, McCully is right then, if that is the case ? isn?t he? Good on New Zealand for standing up. The 2 nation solution is the best for peace in the region ? and Resolution 2334 supports that.

Articles continued to be posted on WO, and I kept reading. Other viewpoints were presented. I used to be sympathetic towards the Palestinians, but their terrorist actions changed my view some time ago ? even though the media seem to support Palestine no matter what they do. But Israel is the stronger party in this dispute ? and there are times when they do seem to use that strength to crush the Palestinians.

So, I came to the conclusion that both parties are as bad as each other, and there will never be peace in the region, no matter what happens. ? Read more »

Obama and Trump are black and white in more ways than one


Much has been made of Barack Obama’s skin colour and sadly many voted for him not because of his abilities or policies but because voting in the first ever black American president made some Progressives feel all warm and virtuous inside. Apart from skin colour Trump and Obama are also polar opposites in other ways. Trump has shown himself to be a friend and supporter of Israel with his pledge to move the U.S Israeli embassy to Jerusalem in defiance of the controversial UN resolution 2334 which has designated Jerusalem to be Palestinian territory. Trump did his best to stop the resolution before he became President by convincing Egypt not to?sponsor it.

Obama, on the other hand, was the mastermind and puppeteer behind the controversial resolution, using John Kerry to convince New Zealand’s Murray McCully to sponsor the resolution after Egypt dropped it. Many of Obama’s actions in office made it clear that he was friend and supporter of Palestine and Islam. Many members of the Muslim brotherhood were employed inside the Whitehouse and ?Obama famously said that “The future must not belong to those who slander the Prophet of Islam? In his final months Obama pushed?resolution 2334 through by refusing to veto it, securing for Palestine (on paper at least) ownership of the holiest of Judaism’s cities, Jerusalem. Then, on his final day in office, Obama showed just how dear to him Islamic Palestine is when he gave it two hundred and twenty-one?million dollars. He did this despite GOP lawmakers placing holds on the funds and it was not the first time during his presidency that he had gone against the wishes of Congress in order to give money to Palestine.

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Pope Francis’ calls paymaster of terrorism ” An angel of peace “

Above is a cartoon of the man Pope Francis called an ” Angel of peace.” He is Mahmoud Abbas the leader of the unelected ruling party Fatah who financially incentivises terrorism against Israel by rewarding terrorists’ families with a pension. Abbas financed the Munich terror attack in 1972 and has a long history of inciting terror attacks against Jews by glorifying Palestinian terrorists and naming streets in their honour. The Pope had described as an angel a man who is the paymaster of terrorists and a man who continues to lead a party in the West Bank without following any democratic process.

According to Shmuely Boteach, “Abbas spent his life murdering Jews,”

As an ex-Catholic I am horrified at the support Pope Francis has given to those who would destroy Israel. Has he forgotten that Jesus was a Jew? The rock on which his church is built and the first pope Saint Peter was also a Jew.

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The olive branch and the pistol

Would you trust a guy with an olive branch in one hand and a pistol in the other?

With a gun on his hip, on November 13, 1974, PLO chief Yasser Arafat stood before the UN General Assembly and made the West an offer that it didn?t refuse.

At the end of a long speech in which he rewrote history to erase all connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel and criminalized the very notion of Jewish freedom, Arafat declared, ?Today I have come bearing an olive branch and a freedom fighter?s gun. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand. I repeat: Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand.?

Trump will take office on Friday. He will be faced with dealing with Arafat’s replacement, Mahmoud Abbas who is repeating Arafat’s original offer.

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Trump knows a bad deal when he sees one

US President-elect Donald Trump said his prospects of negotiating an Israeli-Palestinian deal during his presidency have been hampered by the fact that the international community has been ?giving so much? to the Palestinians.

… Trump further said the December UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements would only serve to harden Palestinians? ideological positions in future peace talks.

?The problem I have is that [Resolution 2334] makes it a tougher deal for me to negotiate because the Palestinians are given so much ? even though it?s not legally binding it?s psychologically binding and it makes it much tougher for me to negotiate,? he said. ?You understand that? Because people are giving away chips, they?re giving away all these chips.?

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