Saturday, March 17, 2012

UNC Students Walk Out of Pro-Israel Talk — Led by Student Whose Father Is Tied to Muslim Brotherhood

David Horowitz has never been one for making Muslims feel comfortable. His anti-Sharia activism on college campuses, especially, has yielded interesting results, sometimes including open support for extermination of Jews, as with what happened at the University of California San Diego.

But now Horowitz might not even be getting the chance to speak. In fact, the pro-Israel activist’s Monday speech at the University of North Carolina (UNC) led to a mass walkout by students, which left almost no one in attendance to hear Horowitz’s talk. The Daily Tar Heel picks up the story:
In Monday’s lecture, Horowitz argued that Palestine is trying to destroy Israel and that Israel fights back only in self-defense.

Horowitz criticized groups like the Muslim Students Association, linking them to various terrorist groups. He also compared Muslims to Nazis.

“There are good Muslims and there are bad Muslims,” he said. “But there were good Germans too, and in the end they didn’t make a damn difference.”

The walkout has since spawned multiple disavowals and apologies on the part of other pro-Israel groups, including the campus chapter of Hillel.

But was Horowitz that far off? Information about one of the students involved in the walkout, who has since spoken publicly on behalf of those who did choose to walk out, suggests that there may have been more afoot than simple reaction to “bigotry.”

The Daily Tar Heel article quotes one Mariem Masmoudi, a co-founder of the University of North Carolina’s Israeli-Palestinian Dialogue Committee, as calling Horowitz’s words “completely insulting and destructive.”

This sounds innocent enough until you realize that Masmoudi is more than an innocent, offended college student. She is, in fact, an experienced student revolutionary who has blogged about her experiences fighting in the Tunisian “Jasmine” revolution at her aptly named blog, “Youth in Revolt.” She describes herself this way:
My name is Mariem Masmoudi, and this site is the electronic equivalent of my life for the 6 months between January and August, 2011.

I withdrew from my last semester at UNC-Chapel Hill before my planned-May 2011 graduation to do what I can in the pursuit of real and lasting democratic reforms. [...]

This is a blog about youth in an ACTUAL revolution.

As it turns out, not only is she a former youth revolutionary, but her own father runs an organization which arguably has deep ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Meet Dr. Radwan Masmoudi, former engineer turned co-founder of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID). CSID’s bio describes him thusly:
Radwan has written and published several papers on the subject of democracy, diversity, human rights, and tolerance in Islam. In recent years, Radwan has visited, organized events, and spoken at major international conferences in Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Turkey, Qatar, Jordan, Sudan, Nigeria, the Philippines/Mindanao, Germany, South Africa, Lebanon, and Tunisia.

Sounds like Dr. Masmoudi might be one of those Muslim equivalents of the “good Germans,” right? Maybe, maybe not. Many of Dr. Masmoudi’s efforts have received glowing coverage from the Muslim Brotherhood, including a little gem titled “Islamist Govts Not the Enemy, Say Mideast Experts.” The leader of these experts? Radwan Masmoudi. His organization, CSID, also coordinated with the Muslim Brotherhood to host a Tunisian terrorist leader in June of last year.

In the interests of fairness, it should be noted that Masmoudi and his daughter may simply be too naive to know who their friends are. Some might say they have the wrong enemies, if the younger Masmoudi’s response to David Horowitz is any guide.


Warning over acute shortage of primary school places in England

The education system is at crisis point because of a lack of primary school places, a leading academic has warned. Prof John Howson, senior research fellow at Oxford University, said the shortage of places for five-year-olds was the “biggest problem” facing schools in England.

He warned that successive governments had failed to properly prepare for the surge in applications, which has been caused by rising birth rates and the effects of immigration.

The comments came as figures showed that more than 800,000 extra places would be needed in state-funded nursery and primary schools by the end of the decade.

According to official forecasts, the number of under-11s in the education system will rise from 4m to 4.82m by 2020 – taking the primary school population to its highest level since the early 70s.

It is feared rising numbers of children will be placed in mobile classrooms or taught in converted church halls to ease the pressure on places in some areas, particularly parts of London and the south-west.

Prof Howson, managing director of, an Oxford-based research company, said schools “have known this boom was coming for quite a long while and both the last government and this government have been very tardy in dealing with it”.

“I think it is probably the biggest problem that is facing schooling in Britain at present,” he said. “The last government was fixated on rebuilding every secondary school when it should have been diverting some of that many into building places in the primary sector.”

The Coalition has pledged to invest £4bn over the next four years to create additional primary school capacity.

But there are fears it will not be enough to ease the pressure on places in some areas. Sutton Council in south London recently appealed to the Government to increase the maximum class size for infants – from 30 to 32 – because of the demand for places.

Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, Prof Howson added: “Many parents are anxious that their child will not be able to go to the local school; that they may be separated from people who live next door to them.

“In some cases, there will be a lot more demountable classrooms taking up space in school playgrounds because we haven’t built enough new primary schools. And in some cases, that may mean that we have to take emergency measures like converting other buildings into primary schools.”


Sydney university perceived as being in the world's top 100

Since I have a large document issued to me by USyd, I am rather pleased by this. Rankings are all very arbitrary but perception is arguably the most important criterion -- JR

The University of Sydney is among four Australian universities ranked in the top 100 by reputation, in the Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings 2012.

Sydney was ranked 50, up from last year's position in the 51-60 slot, but behind the University of Melbourne and Australian National University, which were placed 43 and 44 respectively. The University of Queensland also moved up, to be listed in the 71-80 block.

Each of the four improved their positions from last year, the first time Times Higher Education published the peer-voted list.

The elite, "super group" of universities in the top 10 is dominated by American and British institutions with one Japanese university breaking into the top tier. Harvard tops the list and the University of Cambridge is third, with the University of Tokyo coming in to eighth position.

Melbourne and ANU are ranked more highly on the performance rankings at 39 and 40 respectively, while Sydney and UQ have a better reputation than performance, listed 60 and 76 on the list of top performers.

California Institute of Technology is the top performer on the traditional rankings, which has Oxford ahead of its long-time rival Cambridge.

Phil Baty, editor of the Times Higher Education Reputation Rankings, said Australia's position on the reputation list was good news for the country, showing that its global reputation was improving, while some of the most distinguished universities were falling in stature.

"This reputation-only index is very good news for Australia – all four of its representatives in the world top 100 have risen up the table, with three of the four now making the global top 50. This is clear evidence that Australia's universities are rising in stature internationally, while competitors in the US and UK are seeing their global brands suffer."

More than 17,000 academics from 137 countries were surveyed about "the best" institutions in their own field of expertise. The list is intended to complement the Times's traditional performance ranking, which it publishes in October.

"This is a subsidiary of the world rankings, it's based only on reputation alone," Mr Baty said. "It's a very quirky exercise - and it's purely based on academics' perception so it's a subjective opinion only."

Mr Baty said Simon Marginson, an academic at the University of Melbourne's Graduate School of Education, had been a helpful adviser on improving the way universities are represented.

"Funnily enough, the origins of this is Simon Marginson from the University of Melbourne - he often has been a great critic of rankings but he's been a very helpful adviser to us on how we make our rankings more rigorous and more transparent.

"With the main rankings which we publish in October we use 13 performance indicators: research impact, we look at income, we look at research productivity, we look across a real range of indicators, and he always used to argue that we separate the subjective part of the main rankings."


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