Friday, April 17, 2009

Geert Wilders' Wake-Up Call

 

by Evelyn Markus

At the same time President Obama was greeting King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in Europe last week, Dutch MP Geert Wilders was receiving standing ovations in California for expressing exactly the opposite message: do not bow down to Islam.

Wilders is on tour in various Western countries to raise the consciousness of politicians and the public on the  advancement of Islam in Western societies. During his lectures, he urgently calls for stopping this progress in order to preserve our human rights such as freedom of speech, the equality of women and gays and other precious liberties. He was invited by the David Horowitz Freedom Center to speak in California for the first time. 

Surrounded by an army of security comparable to that of his fellow countrywoman Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wilders gave the following message to his audiences: Islam is not a religion but a totalitarian ideology aiming for world domination and for the total submission of everyone who is non-Muslim. There is no freedom or egalitarianism or human rights in Islam. Islam is not peace, but violence. To illustrate this point, Wilders showed his film Fitna. In Fitna, Mr. Wilders compiles various verses of the Koran that call for Muslim domination, hatred and violence, as well as media footage showing death threats, terror attacks, executions and hate speech that are in line with these Koranic imperatives. It also demonstrates the small steps by which Sharia law is introduced in Western societies, such as Halal banking, Jihad lessons in elementary school, Muslims hindering doctors taking care of women, and certain imams legalizing violence against gays.

The statement Mr. Wilders makes in his film is that it is not poverty or Western oppression which is the main driver of Muslim intolerance, aggression and violence but Islam itself.  

As expected, these statements were not tolerated by most Muslim countries and an economic boycott of the Netherlands was organized for allowing production of this ‘insulting’ film. Furthermore, the Kingdom of Jordan is currently threatening to bring Mr. Wilders before it’s high court in an attempt to convict him there for ‘insulting Islam’. But even more alarming, the freedom to make such statements is threatened in Western countries as well. In the Netherlands, Mr. Wilders is currently being prosecuted for alleged ‘incitement of hatred’ and in France a French human rights group recently filed suit against him for “hate speak” against Muslims. Last month, the British border police rejected his entrance into the UK, where he was invited by a member of the House of Lords to show Fitna in Parliament. In the opening remarks of his lectures last weekend in California, Mr Wilders thanked the US border police ‘for allowing me to enter into the US and speak out freely’.  

Mr. Wilders is constantly demonized as a hater of Muslims, a racist and a fascist in the politically correct Dutch media. If he had criticized Christianity instead of Islam, he would not have been rejected with the same passion. Today, cultural relativism is the norm, with a one-sided embargo on criticizing non-Western cultures, such as Islam, out of feelings of ‘white guilt’.

Wilders doesn’t hate Muslims though as he welcomes all immigrants who want to integrate and adhere to Western values. However, he does advocate for a halt of the mass immigration from Muslim countries into Western societies. This is not because he doesn’t like the people or because he thinks all Muslims are terrorists, but because Muslim immigrants tend to bring Muslim values with them from their countries of origin which Wilders considers a threat to democracy and freedom. Values of Muslims in Europe are often pre-modern and resistant to change since the Islamic religious rules and the Muslim community do not allow such changes. There are no institutions in Islam that have the authority to alter these pre-modern values and rules.  

To label Wilders a racist, a xenophobe or a fascist is false. Instead, he should be seen as a democrat who seeks to protect modern democratic societies against the realistic threat of a stealth Islamic revolution, evolving from mass immigration, step by step introduction of Sharia law, and restriction of freedom of speech. He proposes a First Amendment for freedom of speech in Europe and discourages the US from joining the UN Human Rights Council which tries to ban freedom of speech for people critical of Islam. Mr. Wilders applauds legislation that would prevent the introduction of Sharia law. He calls cultural relativists the ‘useful idiots’ – a term coined by Lenin - who unknowingly facilitate this stealth revolution. 

Cultural relativists in the Netherlands usually belong to the highly educated socio-economic elite and tend to live in the best parts of town where hardly any immigrants live. It is in the lower income neighborhoods, with mostly less educated people, where cultures mingle and clash. It is primarily in these neighborhoods where anti-Muslim sentiments rapidly evolve. The problems that people of native Dutch backgrounds meet in their co-existence with Muslim immigrants are mostly ignored by the established political parties. This lack of understanding by the ruling political class makes the party Mr. Wilders leads -  the Freedom Party - into the biggest party in his country in the polls of today.  It is noteworthy to point out that many Dutch citizens who would vote for Mr. Wilders now could at some point be attracted by political movements more to the right if he were not part of the political spectrum.  

Therefore, instead of calling Mr. Wilders a fascist, it seems more appropriate to see him as a fervent democrat who is saving the Netherlands from two forms of fascism: Islamo-fascism and the ultra-right.

In June, his Freedom Party will participate in the elections for European Parliament and it will be interesting to see how his leadership will develop on a European scale. 

 

Evelyn Markus is a psychologist specialized in conflict, aggression and violence and works in the Netherlands and the United States. She publishes in Dutch newspapers on Islam in the West and anti-Semitism.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Geert Wilders and the fight for Europe.

 

by Bat Yeor

  

Does defending Western values constitute "inciting hatred"?

Britain has just witnessed the spectacle of a duly elected parliamentarian from another EU country, Geert Wilders of the Netherlands, being denied entry to the country because he constituted "a threat to public policy." Wilders, after being detained briefly at Heathrow, was sent back to Holland — where he has further legal troubles. Three weeks earlier, a Dutch appeals court had ordered prosecutors to begin criminal proceedings against Wilders for "inciting hatred and discrimination" and "insulting Muslim worshippers" through his public statements and his 2008 film, Fitna. The order to proceed with the criminal prosecution resulted from pressure put on European states and on the UN Human Rights Council by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). The OIC's aim is to punish and suppress any alleged Islamophobia, around the world but particularly in Europe, and it has been a leader in creating the conditions that made the U.K.'s Wilders ban possible.

The OIC is one of the largest intergovernmental organizations in the world. It encompasses 56 Muslim states plus the Palestinian Authority. Spread over four continents, it claims to speak in the name of the ummah (the universal Muslim community), which numbers about 1.3 billion. The OIC's mission is to unite all Muslims worldwide by rooting them in the Koran and the Sunnah — the core of traditional Islamic civilization and values. It aims at strengthening solidarity and cooperation among all its members, in order to protect the interests of Muslims everywhere and to galvanize the ummah into a unified body.

The OIC is a unique organization — one that has no equivalent in the world. It unites the religious, economic, military, and political strength of 56 states. By contrast, the European Union represents half as many states and is a secular body only, and the Vatican — which speaks for the world's 1.1 billion Catholics — is devoid of any political power. Many Muslims in the West resist the OIC's tutelage and oppose its efforts to supplant Western law with sharia. But the OIC's resources are formidable.

The organization has numerous subsidiary institutions collaborating at the highest levels with international organizations in order to implement its political objectives worldwide. Its main working bodies are the Islamic Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), which seeks to impose on the West the Islamic perception of history and civilization; the Observatory of Islamophobia, which puts pressure on Western governments and international bodies to adopt laws punishing "Islamophobia" and blasphemy; and the newly created Islamic International Court of Justice. As stated in its 1990 Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, the OIC is strictly tied to the principles of the Koran, the Sunnah, and the sharia. In a word, the OIC seeks to become the reincarnation of the Caliphate.

The OIC regularly reiterates its commitments to protecting the political, historical, religious, and human rights of Muslims in non-OIC states, especially Muslims who form the majority in specific regions of non-Muslim countries — such as the southern Philippines, southern Thailand, and western Thrace in Greece — as well as Muslims in places like the Balkans, the Caucasus, Myanmar, India, and China. The OIC supports Hamas and the Palestinians in their struggle to destroy Israel, as well as the Muslim fight for "legitimate self-determination" in "Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir." It has condemned the "continual Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan," and it expresses its full solidarity with "the just cause of the Muslim Turkish people of Cyprus" and with Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir, whom many hold responsible for encouraging the massacres in Darfur. The seat of the OIC is in Jeddah, but the organization regards that location as temporary: Its headquarters will be transferred to al-Kods (Islamized Jerusalem) when that city has been "liberated" from Israeli control.

In its efforts to defend the "true image" of Islam and combat its defamation, the organization has requested the UN and the Western countries to punish "Islamophobia" and blasphemy. Among the manifestations of Islamophobia, in the OIC's view, are European opposition to illegal immigration, anti-terrorist measures, criticism of multiculturalism, and indeed any efforts to defend Western cultural and national identities. The OIC has massive funding from oil sources, which it lavishly spends on the Western media and academia and in countless "dialogues." It influences Western policy, laws, and even textbooks through pressures brought by Muslim immigrants and by the Western nations' own leftist parties. Hence, we have seen Kristallnacht-like incitements of hate and murder against European Jews and Israel conducted with impunity in the cities of Europe — where respect for human rights is supposed to be one of the highest values.

Geert Wilders is the latest victim of this enormous world machinery. His crime is maintaining that Europe's civilization is rooted in the values of Jerusalem, Athens, Rome, and the Enlightenment — and not in Mecca, Baghdad, Andalusia, and al-Kods. He fights for Europe's independence from the Caliphate and for its endangered freedoms. He had received serious death threats even before Fitna was released.

Many Muslims in the West support him, but Geert Wilders's principal weapons are his courage and his willingness to resist even his own government, which is slowly submitting to the OIC's pressures. Wilders's enemies pretend that he is an insignificant personality who makes "provocative" statements only in search of fame. In fact, if his motivation were self-interest, he could do far better by courting the OIC's favors — as so many Europeans are doing, consciously or unconsciously — rather than risking his freedom and indeed his life.


Bat Yeor is the author of studies on the conditions of Jews and Christians in the context of the jihad ideology and the sharia law. Recent books include: Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide and Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis, both from Fairleigh Dickinson University Press.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

The banality of Evil .

 

by Mark Silverberg

  
A resurgence of the oldest of ancient hatreds.

Anti-Semitism never really died after the Holocaust, it just became unfashionable. That is no longer the case. In the wake of the Gaza War and with the global economy in a tailspin, disturbing events have been occurring in Britain - events that do not bode well either for the future of British Jewry or for the future of British democracy.

The war in Gaza combined with the global economic downturn have revealed a dark side to British society as demonstrated by the extent to which he British media, intelligentsia and political class have buckled in the face of the Islamic jihad.

On average, according to the Observer, there are seven anti-Semitic attacks every single day in the UK — attacks that have come in the form of graffiti, vandalism, arson, violent assaults on Jews in the streets, and hate e-mails. Jewish schools have been granted extra protection, and the Community Security Trust, which monitors anti-Semitism in British society, continues to issue dire warnings. According to British police, Jews are four times more likely to be attacked because of their religion than are Muslims. As a result, every synagogue service and virtually every Jewish communal event now requires guards to be on the lookout for violence from both neo-Nazis and Muslim extremists. Orthodox Jews have become particular targets; some have begun wearing baseball caps instead of skullcaps and concealing their Star of David jewelry for fear of being attacked. Melanie Phillips, writing in the Wall Street Journal (Europe) expressed her concern in historical terms:

"Years of demonizing Israel and appeasing Islamist extremism within Britain have now coalesced as a result of the media misrepresentation of the Gaza War as an atrocity against civilians, in an unprecedented wave of hatred against Israel, and a sharp rise in attacks on British Jews"

 

and the authorities have done little or nothing to quell such incitement. In one case, the police even told pro-Israel demonstrators to put away their Israel flags because they were 'inflammatory,' yet they allowed anti-Israel demonstrators to scream support for Hamas, and even to dress up as hook-nosed Jews "drinking" the blood of Palestinian babies. In another, students at Oxford University gleefully proclaimed that in five years, their campus "would be a Jew-free zone," and in another, the London-based Royal Court Theatre is staging a viciously anti-Israeli play by Caryl Churchill that Melanie Phillips described in The Spectator as reminiscent of anti-Semitic plays performed in the Middle Ages portraying Jews as demonic Christ-killers.

These events form part of a disturbing trend suggesting that Britain is slowly succumbing to Islamic d'himmitude motivated in large measure by Muslim intimidation — the latest expression of which saw Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders banned from Britain by the British Home Office as "a genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat" because his film Fitna graphically and honestly documented the brutality of radical Islamists and twinned their actions to specific verses in the Quran. As Bat Yeor wrote recently in National Review Online:

"His crime is maintaining that Europe's civilization is rooted in the values of Jerusalem, Athens, Rome, and the Enlightenment — and not in Mecca, Baghdad, Andalusia, and al-Kuds. He fights for Europe's independence from the Caliphate, and for its endangered freedoms. He had received serious death threats even before Fitna was released."

In all this, it is becoming clearer with each passing day that Londonistan is no longer a safe place for Jews to practice their religion, nor are many places in Europe which is demographically morphing into Eurabia. In a recent comment in The Spectator, one reader opined:

"I for one resent the fact that I can no longer congregate outside my synagogue. I resent the fact that my children attend Jewish school protected by security fences, concrete blocks and guard posts. I resent the fact that my eldest daughter ...... should feel intimidated on campus and questioned in a hostile, finger pointing manner how she feels as a Jewess on the question of Gaza, and if she supports the Israeli actions."

And a Birmingham school is investigating reports that twenty children chased a 12-year-old girl (the only Jewish pupil in the school) chanting "Kill all Jews" and "Death to Jews".

Listening to the hatred reflected in the cries of "Death to the Jews", one could almost imagine that it must have been the Jews who were behind the 9/11 attacks, burned down the Danish embassies throughout Europe and the Middle East two years ago over the Mohammed cartoons, planned and executed the suicide bombing attacks on the London tube and Madrid railway stations, decapitated Daniel Pearl, Nick Berg and scores of other infidels, train their children to become "martyrs for Allah", use the web to incite hatred and jihad, strap twenty pounds of explosives to their bodies and self-detonate in restaurants, subways, pizza parlors, buses, shopping malls, coffee shops, marketplaces, hotels and tourist resorts in France, London, Bali, Yemen, Jordan, Kenya, Algeria, Istanbul, Dar es Salaam, Mumbai and Israel and are waging a vicious religiously-inspired holy war against "non-believers."

I suspect that if the British students who attended the seventeen sit-ins and demonstrations held at British universities to protest Israeli "massacres" in Gaza had chanted "Death to all Muslims" (just as they screamed "Death to all Jews" during the Gaza War), the British Left and civil rights organizations would have been all over them demanding staff resignations, boycotts of their schools and colleges, the arrest of the student organizers, and compensation to the British Muslim community. But it appears that only the Jews merit such revulsion.

These actions reflect more than an anti-Israel stance. They represent a sickness gaining prevalence within British society - a sickness reflected by the growing social acceptance of the most ancient of religious hatreds.

Neither the British media (that excels in the art of whitewashing Muslim extremism) nor British society generally seem to care much that radical Islamists like Hamas are involved in at least twenty-five conflicts going on around the globe including, but not limited to Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Bosnia, Congo, Ivory Coast, Cyprus, East Timor, India, Indonesia (2 provinces), Kashmir, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kurdistan, Macedonia, the Middle East, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Somalia, Sudan, Russia-Chechnya, Tajikistan, Thailand, Uganda and Uzbekistan.

Nor are they especially concerned (as Phillips points out) that the government of Sri Lanka is attempting to eradicate terrorism by a military campaign in which, according to the UN, "many civilians are being killed", thousands made homeless, hundreds of thousands trapped, and to which, as food shortages grow, the government refuses to allow access to journalists. Despite all this, there are no sit-ins on British campuses against the Sri Lankans, no violent protests outside its High Commission, and no calls to boycott Sri Lankan products and academics. Nor do I recall any protests against Hamas for firing thousands of missiles at Israeli cities, towns and villages for years, not to mention terrorizing over 250,000 men, women and children who have spent the better part of the past three years running to bomb shelters several times a day.

Somehow, the deaths of 1,300 Gazans (two-thirds of whom were terrorists hiding behind Palestinian human shields) have evoked more outrage in Britain than the estimated two million dead in Congo, the tens of thousands of Iraqis slaughtered by Sunni and Shia terrorists in Iraq, or the massacres of civilians killed by their own governments in Zimbabwe, Uzbekistan, Burundi, Chad, Afghanistan, Columbia, Guatemala, Haiti, Guinea, Rwanda and West Bengal.

If anyone should be charged with war crimes in Gaza, it should be Hamas not Israel. But not according to British public opinion. The bottom line seems to be - if you are willing to excuse terrorist attacks against Jews in southern Israel where a tiny democracy is seeking to protect its people against terrorism, it's just as easy to turn a blind eye to Jews being attacked elsewhere, even in the streets of London or Birmingham.

In many ways, Jews are the barometers of the societies in which they live — the canary in the mineshaft of democratic societies - which accounts for why the U.S., Canada and Australia remain resilient, vibrant democracies where minorities continue to thrive. But these countries have become more the exception than the rule. The history of the 20th century suggests that as it has gone with the Jews, so it has gone with democracy. By that standard, the events surrounding the Gaza War combined with the global economic downturn foreshadow a difficult period ahead not just for British Jewry, but for British (and by extension European) democracy.

The results of a recent survey show that 31% of Europeans blame Jews for the global economic meltdown (including more than half of Hungarian, Polish and Spanish respondents) and 40% of Europeans consider Jews to have too much power.

There is little doubt that the Gaza campaign merely provided a pretext to unleash deep-seated anti-Semitism in Britain, across Europe and beyond. Under these circumstances, there can be no better justification for the existence of a Jewish State than the persecution of Jews outside of it.
 


Mark Silverberg is a former member of the Canadian Justice Department and a past Director of the Canadian Jewish Congress (Western Office). He served as a consultant to the Secretary General of the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem during the first Palestinian intifada. A foreign policy analyst with the Ariel Center for Policy Research (Israel) and the International Analyst Network (Australia), he is the author of "The Quartermasters of Terror: Saudi Arabia and the Global Islamic Jihad" (Wyndham Hall Press, 2005).

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Iran's Western enablers.

 

by Caroline B. Glick

Egypt's recent actions against Hizbullah operatives are a watershed event for understanding the nature of the threat that Iran constitutes for both regional and global security. For many Israelis, Egypt's actions came as a surprise. For years this country has been appealing to Egypt to take action against Hizbullah operatives in its territory. With minor exceptions, it has refused. Believing that its operatives threatened only us, the Mubarak regime preferred to turn a blind eye.

Then too, now seems a strange time for Egypt to be proving Israel correct. Senior ministers in the new Netanyahu government have for years been outspoken critics of Egypt for its refusal to act against Hizbullah and for its support for the Hizbullah/Iran-sponsored Hamas terror group. By going after Hizbullah now, Egypt is legitimizing both their criticism and the Netanyahu government itself. This in turn seems to go against Egypt's basic interest of weakening Israel politically in general, and weakening rightist Israeli governments in particular.

But none of this seemed to interest Egyptian officials last week when they announced the arrest of 49 Hizbullah operatives and pointed a finger at Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah and his bosses in Teheran, openly accusing them of seeking to undermine Egypt's national security.

The question is what caused Egypt to suddenly act? It appears that two things are motivating the Mubarak regime. First, there is the nature of the Hizbullah network it uncovered. According to the Egyptian Justice Ministry's statements, the arrested operatives were not confining their operations to weapons smuggling to Gaza. They were also targeting Egypt.

The Egyptian state prosecution alleges that while operating as Iranian agents, they were scouting targets along the Suez Canal. That is, they were planning strategic strikes against Egypt's economic lifeline.

The second aspect of the network that clearly concerned Egyptian authorities was what it showed about the breadth of cooperation between the regime's primary opponent - the Muslim Brotherhood - and the Iranian regime. Forty-one of the suspects arrested are Egyptian citizens, apparently aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood. This alignment is signaled by two things. First, many of them have hired Muslim Brotherhood activist Muntaser al-Zayat as their defense attorney. And second, Muslim Brotherhood spokesmen have decried the arrests.

For instance, in an interview with Gulf News last Thursday, Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Issam el-Erian defended Hizbullah (and Iran) against his own government, claiming that Nasrallah and the Iranian ayatollahs are right to accuse President Hosni Mubarak of being little more than an Israeli stooge.

In his words, "The Egyptian government must redraw its national security policies to include Israeli threats against Arab counties like Syria and Lebanon and to consider threats against Palestinians by Israelis as a threat against its national security."

In a nutshell then, both the Hizbullah network's targets and its relationship to Egypt's Sunni Islamist opposition expose clearly the danger the Iranian regime constitutes to Egypt. Iran seeks to undermine and defeat opponents throughout the world through both direct military/terrorist/sabotage operations and through ideological subversion. It is the confluence of both of these aspects of Iran's revolutionary ambitions that forced Egypt to act now, regardless of the impact of its actions on the political fortunes of the Netanyahu government. And it is not a bit surprising that Egypt was forced to act at such a politically inopportune time.

 

THROUGHOUT the region and indeed throughout much of the world, Iran's star is on the rise. Its burgeoning nuclear program acts as a second arm of a pincer-like campaign against its opponents. The asymmetric and ideological warfare it wages through its terror and state proxies are the campaign's first arm. Together, these two strategic arms are raising the stakes of Iran's challenge to its neighbors and to the West to unprecedented and unacceptable heights. Morocco is so concerned about Iranian subversion of its Sunni population that last month it cut off diplomatic ties with Teheran.

Iran's great leap forward has been exposed by recent events. Last month's Arab League summit in Doha exemplified how Iran has successfully split the Arab world between its proxies and its opponents. For the past three years, and particularly since the 2006 war between Israel and Iran's Hizbullah in Lebanon, Arab League states have been increasingly polarized around the issue of Iran. The country has used its satellite states of Syria, Sudan and Qatar, as well as its burgeoning alliances with Muslim Brotherhood branches in Egypt, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and elsewhere, to legitimize its rapidly escalating assaults on Sunni regimes throughout the region.

Although Egypt and Saudi Arabia successfully blocked Qatar from inviting Iran and Hamas to the summit, by using the good offices of Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Thani and Syrian President Bashar Assad, the Iranians were able to get their anti-Saudi/Egyptian platform passed. As the Middle East Media Research Institute chronicled in a report on the proceedings, Assad successfully abrogated the so-called Saudi peace plan that the Arab League adopted in 2002. According to a new Syrian-backed resolution, any Arab rapprochement with Israel would be contingent on Israel first destroying itself by withdrawing into indefensible borders and being overwhelmed by millions of hostile foreign Arab immigrants.

Sensing what awaited him at the summit, Mubarak chose to stay home and send a junior emissary in his place. Saudi King Abdullah said nothing throughout the two-day Arab love-fest with Iran. Both leaders emerged weakened and humiliated.

In recent years, Iran has expanded its sphere of influence to strategic points around the region. Two recent additions to Iran's axis are Eritrea and Somalia. Iran and Eritrea signed a strategic alliance last year that grants Iranian Revolutionary Guard units basing rights in the strategically vital Bab al-Mandab strait that controls the chokepoint connecting the Indian Ocean with the Red Sea. As for Somalia - whose position along the Gulf of Aden provides it a similarly critical maritime posture - Iran has been exploiting its condition as a failed state for several years.

In 2006, the UN reported that some 720 Somali jihadists aligned with al-Qaida fought with Hizbullah in Lebanon during its war against Israel. According to an analysis of Iran's coopting of Somali jihadists published in November 2006 by the on-line Long War Journal, in exchange for the Somali operatives' assistance, Iran and Syria provided advanced military training to the Somalis who had just established the al-Qaida-affiliated Islamic Courts Union regime in the country. Teheran equipped the ICU with anti-aircraft missiles, grenade launchers, machine guns, ammunition, medicine, uniforms and other supplies both before and after it took control of Somalia.

The UN report also linked the ICU to Iran's nuclear program. Its alleged that Iranian agents were operating in ICU chief Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys's hometown of Dusa Mareb, where they sought to buy uranium.

Beyond the Horn of Africa, of course, Iran has been consistently expanding its influence in Iraq and Afghanistan. In both countries the mullahs simultaneously sponsor the insurgencies and offer themselves as the US's indispensible partner for stabilizing the countries they are destabilizing.

What is perhaps most jarring about Iran's ever-expanding influence is the disparate responses it elicits from Israel and Sunni regimes like Egypt and Saudi Arabia on the one hand, and the West on the other. Whereas Israel and the Sunni Arab states warn about Iran daily, far from acknowledging or confronting this ever-expanding Iranian menace, the US and the Europeans have been alternatively ignoring it and appeasing it. If the US were taking the Iranian threat seriously, the Obama administration would not be begging Iran to negotiate with it after Teheran demonstrated that it has complete control over the nuclear fuel cycle.

If the US were interested in contending with the danger Iran constitutes to global security, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would not be absurdly arguing that the US cannot verify whether Iran's announcement that it is now operating 7,000 centrifuges and its opening of another nuclear site signify an increase in its nuclear capacity.

Were the US taking Iran seriously, it would not be asking Iran to help out in Afghanistan and Iraq. It would not be treating Somali piracy as a strategically insignificant nuisance. It would not be ignoring Eritrea's newfound subservience to Iran. It would not be maintaining the Central Command's headquarters in Qatar. And, of course, it would not be permitting Iran to move forward with its nuclear weapons program.

 

THEN there is Britain. Last week Michael Ledeen from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies reported that Britain's decision to recognize Hizbullah is part of a deal it struck with Iran and Hizbullah in exchange for five Britons who have been held hostage in Iraq by Hizbullah/Iran-affiliated terrorists for two years. According to the deal, in exchange for the British hostages, London agreed to recognize Hizbullah and the US agreed to release a number of Shi'ite terrorists its forces in Iraq have captured.

As Tariq Alhomayed, the editor of Asharq al-Awsat, noted in response to the news, the deal puts paid Nasrallah's contention that Hizbullah does not operate outside Lebanon except to wage war against Israel. But it also points to a severe problem with the West.

If Britain was willing to acknowledge and contend with the grave threat Iran constitutes for global security, it would not accept the authority of Hizbullah or Iran to negotiate the release of British hostages in Iraq. Instead it would place responsibility for achieving the release of the British hostages on the sovereign Iraqi government and use all the means at its disposal to strengthen that government against agents of Iranian influence in the country.

So, too, rather than participate in the deal, the US would seek to destroy the Iranian-controlled operatives holding the hostages and discredit and defeat the Iraqi political forces operating under Iranian control. Certainly if the US were taking the Iranian threat seriously, it would announce that any withdrawal of US combat forces from Iraq will be linked to the complete defeat of agents of Iranian influence in Iraq.

The West's refusal to contend with the burgeoning Iranian menace no doubt has something to do with the West's physical distance from Iran. Whereas Middle Eastern countries have no choice but to deal with Iran, the US and its European allies apparently believe that they can still pretend away the danger. But of course they cannot.

From the Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden to Hizbullah cells from Iraq to Canada; from Iranian agents in British universities to Hizbullah and Iranian military advisers in South and Central America, the West, like the Middle East, is being infiltrated and surrounded.

Egypt's open assault on Hizbullah is yet another warning that concerted action must be taken against the mullocracy. Unfortunately, the absence of Western resolve signals that this warning, too, will go unheeded.


Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East Fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, DC and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Turkish-Israeli Relations.

 

A briefing by Soner Cagaptay

 

Soner Cagaptay is director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and an expert on Turkish-Israeli relations. He earned his Ph.D. from Yale, taught at Princeton, and contributes regularly to leading news outlets. On April 9, Mr. Cagaptay addressed the Middle East Forum via conference call.

 

 

To illustrate how Turkey has changed under AK Party rule (the "Justice and Development" party), Soner Cagaptay highlighted the fact that, before the AKP came to power in 2002 elections, Turkey "worked as a normal country," exhibiting qualities more in line with non-Muslim, secular nations.

 

For example, pre-AKP Turkey fostered a positive public relationship with Israel, exemplified by strong economic, intellectual, and even military ties. Moreover, Turkey was an important contributor to NATO, having participated in every NATO operation since joining the alliance in 1952. Finally, it exhibited a markedly pro-Western outlook and was being seriously considered for EU membership.

 

All three qualities have eroded under AKP leadership. EU accession talks have stalled as liberal democratic values are being undermined in Turkey. Media freedom and gender equality have suffered; there are now fewer women in public life. Turkey refused to allow U.S. troops to enter Iraq from the north in 2003 and is now cultivating links with Iran.

 

Nowhere has this transformation been more pronounced than in Turkey's relationship with Israel. Prime Minster Erdoğan and his party have promoted anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel at home, suggesting that "God would punish Israel" and accusing it of having turned Gaza into a "concentration camp." Turkey's antagonism came to a head at the Davos meeting earlier this year when Erdoğan told Israeli President Peres, "You know very well how to kill people."

 

Yet not all killing upsets Turkey. The day after returning from Davos, Erdoğan hosted the vice president of Sudan, who is currently wanted by the International Criminal court for waging a genocide against the non-Arab Muslim population. Cagaptay believes this is the "best proof that Erdoğan's thinking and foreign policy is Islamist. Turkey's opposition to Danish Prime Minister Rasmussen's nomination to head NATO due to his defending the publication of the Muhammad cartoons is also telling.

 

Cagaptay fears that continued AKP influence will turn Turkish citizens against Israel and the West. This is a problem because Turkey is a democracy and "you cannot sustain a relationship that is not supported by the public." Furthermore, as the AKP views world conflicts in terms of Muslims versus non-Muslims, its place within NATO could deteriorate further as the alliance launches new offensives in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

 

However, Cagaptay sees reasons for optimism. The AKP fared poorly in recent local elections and the economic downturn is bound to have a negative impact on its prospects. As professionals abandon the AKP, it will be left with an Islamist core, allowing outsiders more easily to identify it for what it is. Thus Erdoğan's Davos outburst was a "blessing in disguise."

 

Cagaptay counsels the Obama administration to define Turkey as a Western country that happens to be Muslim, thereby setting clear benchmarks for Turkish behavior both internally and on the world stage. Furthermore, America must not alienate ordinary Turks by passing resolutions condemning the Armenian genocide, a wildly unpopular topic in Turkey.

 

According to Cagaptay, the most important lesson from the Turkish experience over the past decade is: "Do not allow Islamist rule because they corrupt even the most liberal of Muslim societies."

 

This is a lesson that many Palestinians may have come to learn the hard way.

 

 

Summary account by David Rusin and Raymond Ibrahim.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Obama's Abominable Obeisance: Cultural Perspectives.

 

by Raymond Ibrahim

Is Obama's deep bow (with slightly bent knee) to the Saudi king as bad as it seems? The White House, apparently forgetful that we live in the Internet age, where everything is swiftly documented and disseminated — or else thinking it leads a blind nation — insists the president did not bow. He supposedly always bends in half when shaking hands with shorter people, though he certainly seemed quite erect when saluting the British queen, who is much shorter than the Saudi king.

Obama bowed; this much is certainly not open to debate. All that is left now is to place his odious obeisance in context. As such, history has much to say about the seemingly innocuous bow.

Millennia before the current war between the West and Islam — the war Obama insists does not exist in the first place — the ancient Greeks (forebears of Western civilization) warred with the Persians (forebears of the soon-to-be-nuclear Islamic theocracy, Iran).

Writing in the 5th century B.C., the Greek historian Herodotus explained: "When the Persians meet one another in the roads, you can see whether those who meet are of equal rank. For instead of greeting by words, they kiss each other on the mouth; but if one of them is inferior to the other, they kiss one another on the cheeks."

This explanation reminds one of Bush's hand-holding/kissing sessions with the same Saudi monarch, which some insist exonerate Obama's bow. Not so; as the Greek historian explains above, such behavior is representative of equal rank in Eastern cultures.

As for Obama's conduct, Herodotus continues, "yet if one is of much less noble rank than the other, he falls down before him and worships him."

"Much less noble rank"? Could Obama, like his wife Michelle, who only recently became proud of America, be operating under the conviction that being American is not all that noble?

As for "falls down before him and worships," this phrase is a translation of the Greek word proskunesis, which means "to make obeisance," to "worship, adore," as one would a god, or king, or god-king. Basically, to fall on one's face in prostration to another. Connotatively, it implies "to make like a dog" — base, servile, and submissive.

While common to the caste-like system of Persia, prostration was something the freedom-loving Greeks scorned. Indeed, wars were waged simply because the Greeks refused to submit — literally and figuratively — to Persian tyranny.

According to Arrian's chronicle, at the height of Alexander the Great's power — when his hubris against the gods and megalomania against man were most burgeoning — he decided to implement the proskunesis in his court, provoking controversy among the Macedonians, until one of their numbers, Callisthenes, rebuked him by saying, "Will you actually compel the Greeks as well, the freest of mankind, to do you obeisance?" Another close companion to Alexander, Clitus, vexed at the former's increasing pomposity and the lack of manly dignity at his court, told Alexander, in the words of the historian Plutarch, that "he [Alexander] had better live and converse with barbarians and slaves who would not scruple to bow the knee to his Persian girdle." His words cost him his life.

It was one decade ago, when I studied ancient history with Victor Davis Hanson, that I last examined the proskunesis (never thinking the day was nigh when it would have modern applicability — and thanks to a U.S. president!). Recently corresponding with VDH about this whole sordid affair, he confirmed that "the Macedonians seemed to really have felt proskunesis was about the worst thing someone could do."

In light of the West's ancestors' utter contempt for proskunesis, let us now examine Obama's prostration in context:

First, it must be affirmed that, as with ancient Greeks, Americans find bows, prostrations, and other servile gestures distasteful. Interestingly, the Muslim world shares this same view, particularly so-called "radicals," who are constantly condemning "manmade" governments, such as democracies, as systems of "human-worship" to be eschewed at all cost. Writes Ayman al-Zawahiri: "Know that democracy, that is, 'rule of the people,' is a new religion that deifies the masses by giving them the right to legislate without being shackled down to any other authority" (The Al Qaeda Reader, p. 130).

This, by the way, is why the Saudi monarch does not tamper with Sharia: doing so would be tantamount to self-apotheosis. Expecting prostrations from others would be viewed little better by the theocrats surrounding him. (Watch the video and note that, while the king proceeded with an extended right arm, Obama dived in with a bow, almost taking the former aback.)

In short, both Muslims and Americans (at least until very recently for the latter) find bowing to be an odious enterprise and therefore do not offer it to, nor expect it from, others.

Conversely, some Far Eastern cultures incorporate the bow. Had Obama been in Japan and bowed (and received a reciprocal bow signifying equality), his actions would have been culturally appropriate (not to mention expected). Yet, Obama had as much reason to bow to a Muslim as he would have to a Christian or Jew.

Yet surely he didn't bow to Abdullah due to the latter's exalted status in the Muslim world ("Guardian of the Two Sanctities"), a status that schoolboy Obama in Muslim Indonesia must have viewed with awe, but rather out of politeness, because Abdullah is a king, royalty. Not so. Were this true, upon meeting the British queen — equal "royalty" — Obama would have stooped to her as well. (Nor can his iPod gift be considered surrogate.)

Whatever prompted that rather instinctive bow — Obama may be used to bending the knee to Saudi royalty, considering that Saudis may have paid his college tuition — and regardless of antiquated notions of "honor" and "dignity," merely diplomatically, it was a bad move.

Not only is the Wahhabi king symbolic of the most "radical" form of Islam — it's not for nothing that 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers, not to mention bin Laden, were Saudis — but his Sharia-enforcing kingdom is cited as one of the worst human rights violators in the world. Bowing to this man was therefore symbolically a bow of submission to radical Islam and all its attendant human rights violations.

This is compounded by the fact that, immediately preceding this ignoble bow, Obama was busy profusely apologizing to the Islamic world, insisting that the U.S. is not at war with Islam — and "never will be." Jihadis the world over must have been relieved to know that not only does the leader of the most powerful Western nation have no intention of naming them or placing them in context — so much for that first strategy of warfare, "know your enemy" — but that nothing they do in the future will ever cause the sleeping infidel giant's leader to arouse it.

Similarly, Obama's obeisance should give nuke-seeking Iran even more hope in its endeavors. After all, if the leader of the free West so readily bends the knee to Wahhabi despotism, how long before he bows to Iran, the true heir of proskunesis-Persia? And if he does not fully bow willingly, that is only more incentive for Iran to hasten and acquire nukes, so he can be made to bow unwillingly.

Finally, any would-be "moderates" or assertive governments who may have been serious about combating radical Islam and its attendant humanitarian abuses via Sharia have, through Obama's bow to the personification of radical Islam, just received a clear message: aside from occasional, perfunctory lip service, you're really on your own.

As for all those who would defend Obama's bow by saying he was being "diplomatic," because, you know, we "need" Saudi oil, how does that justify bowing, unprecedented from an American president, unexpected from the Saudi king?

When Alexander the Great, drunk with hubris, took on despotic ways, demanding that others prostrate themselves before him, the Macedonians revolted; some were put to death. What a long way Western civilization has come when today the leader of the free world and heir to democratic ancient Greece, far from despotically demanding that others offer him obeisance, voluntarily opts to prostrate himself — and in essence, all of America — before another. And what another.

 

Raymond Ibrahim is the associate director of the Middle East Forum and the author of The Al Qaeda Reader, translations of religious texts and propaganda.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Netanyahu & the two-state solution

 

by Isi Leibler

When our government enters into formal discussions with Washington, it will be obliged to make decisions that may set the tone for its long-term relationship with the new administration. President Barack Obama has yet to fully show his hand, but his policy of engaging with jihadists is likely to encourage efforts to pressure Israel into additional unilateral concessions to the Arabs that will need to be vigorously resisted.

Much will depend on our prime minister's ability to maximize the objectives we share in common and set aside the rhetoric and differences over inconsequential issues. This applies above all to the recent brouhaha over the two-state solution.

Most of us have mixed feelings about our new government. The bloated number of ministers is disgraceful. The cabinet includes a number of outstanding personalities, yet some of the most talented were displaced by mediocrities. And due to the leverage of the small parties, social and political reform has probably been relegated to the back burner.

The primary responsibility for this rests with Kadima leader Tzipi Livni, who placed her ambition above the good of the nation and left Binyamin Netanyahu no alternative to the excessive concessions demanded by the smaller parties.

Yet to his credit, Netanyahu has kept his cool and doggedly persevered to create a broader government, even at the cost of bringing on himself the wrath of his own party. Many opponents of the former government may have cringed when they became aware that Ehud Barak retained his position, but most nonetheless welcomed the inclusion of Labor, which will diminish the veto powers of the smaller parties. More importantly, with Barak on the Left balanced by Lieberman on the Right, the government will be able to demonstrate that it represents a national consensus.

ASIDE from the Americans, Netanyahu faces enormous obstacles. The international community regards his government as worse than rogue states like Iran, North Korea and Sudan. The Europeans behaved appallingly, employing unprecedented pressure to intimidate the government even before it was formed, while seeking to engage with Iran's proxy, Hamas.

Avigdor Lieberman would not have been my choice for foreign minister. Yet unless his legal problems intervene, he may surprise us. His language is blunt and undiplomatic - occasionally to the point of being crude - and he tends to polarize situations, but his intelligence and pragmatism should not be underestimated.

Lieberman's maiden speech, while lacking finesse, did contain some refreshing aspects. For the first time in many years, an Israeli leader told the truth instead of paying traditional lip service to the illusion of "peace in our time." He said that endless talk about peace achieves nothing, and that the best guarantee for peace is for the country to remain strong. He correctly noted that previous efforts to appease our adversaries and the international community only increased the downward spiral in our global standing and encouraged the PA to intensify its anti-Israeli incitement.

Lieberman dismissed Annapolis as a failure, provoking hysterical condemnation from the Left, which until then had been saying the same thing. He also made it clear that while the new government would scrupulously respect all prior international commitments, he rejected the vague Olmert agreements with the Palestinians, which were never brought to the Knesset for approval, and Livni's secret negotiations, which have yet to be revealed to the public.

In the light of this, it is bizarre that both Netanyahu and Lieberman remain stubbornly reluctant to utter the phrase "two-state solution." This merely provides ammunition to American liberals and others pressing Obama to adopt a negative European-style approach. After all, both adamantly insist that they intend to continue negotiations, seek to achieve a settlement, and have no desire to rule over Palestinians. Of course they demand reciprocity, insist that all parties adhere to their commitments and will not countenance the creation of any terrorist state that would endanger our existence.

Lieberman went even farther, undertaking to abide by the Quartet road map, which he defined as "a binding resolution" that "we will adhere to by the letter." This clearly presupposes that if and when the terror infrastructure is ever dismantled, the road map would culminate with a Palestinian state.

The evasive attitude concerning the two-state solution seems even more absurd because under current conditions a peaceful Palestinian state is virtually inconceivable. The Palestinians could have established a state years ago had their prime motive not been to end Jewish sovereignty. Our purported peace partner still adamantly refuses to accept us as a Jewish state, continues to promote anti-Semitic incitement, executes Arabs selling land to Jews and fails to prevent its military wing from launching terrorist attacks.

INSTEAD of becoming involved in provocative arguments over a two-state solution, we should be urging those who criticize the Netanyahu government to take account of the criminality and cult of martyrdom which to this day dominates Palestinian society, and should be insisting that it is high time that Mahmoud Abbas and his associates begin demonstrating a willingness to live side by side with a Jewish state.

Netanyahu is undoubtedly reading the disconcerting signals from Washington, and must be anticipating the major pressures he is likely to face from the White House. There are indications of a desire to bypass the road map, disregard ongoing terrorism and define the endgame first and even accept a Palestinian state incorporating Hamas. There is President Obama's engagement with the Iranians, which could backfire. There is his open endorsement of the Saudi peace plan, which calls for a return of Arab refugees and disregards our requirement for defensible borders. There are even concerns that the US may no longer be relied upon to employ its veto in the UN to protect us from biased resolutions. Clearly, in relation to most of these issues, Netanyahu will be obliged to stand firm and resist further unilateral concessions.

The only positive element in this worrying scenario is that Netanyahu understands the US and is better equipped to negotiate a realistic accommodation with Obama than any other Israeli politician. He can be relied upon to show flexibility, but unlike his predecessors will refuse to compromise the nation's basic security. Still, to retain credibility and be able to adopt an effective approach to the major issues confronting us, including the existential threat posed by a nuclear Iran, he must avoid needless confrontations or diversions into counterproductive debates over a currently inconceivable two-state solution.

 

Isi Leibler
Copyright
- Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

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