Saturday, July 10, 2010

For 17 years the Palestinians and Israelis negotiated directly, in the absence of a freeze in settlements. Palestinians never demanded it as a precondition.

The Folly of Demanding a Settlement Freeze as a Requirement for Negotiations

by Charles Krauthammer

We have already had a year delay in talks because of Obama interjecting the settlement issue in the first place.

Remember, for 17 years the Palestinians and Israelis negotiated, ever since Oslo, directly in the absence of a freeze in settlements. Palestinians never demanded it as a precondition.

In comes Obama, and he demands a freeze of settlements. The Israelis say, why should we make preemptive concessions in advance? Palestinians haven't made any. And the Palestinians answer and say, "Well, if the Americans are demanding a settlement freeze, we are going to demand it as well. And in fact, we won't even speak with the Israelis until there is a settlement freeze."

This is absurd. That's why we have had a year of the Palestinians essentially in a boycott of these negotiations.

So, then, Netanyahu works out a fig leaf, a compromise in which he agrees to a ten-month moratorium outside of Jerusalem for a freeze. And then all of a sudden Obama re-imposes a new condition now of a freeze in Jerusalem, which no Israeli government will ever accept.

Jerusalem is the Israeli capital. Everybody understands that in a [final peace] settlement, these neighborhoods of east Jerusalem — the ones that we are speaking about and where the construction is occurring, as well as the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem — are going to be in the Jewish state under any understanding or settlement.

For example, in the Clinton parameters of the negotiations a decade ago [at Camp David], they would be incorporated into Israel.

So, no Israeli is going to accept a preemptive concession that Jews can't live in this area of east Jerusalem. So unless Obama changes position, talks again are at a standstill because of a blunder on the part of this administration.

Everybody wants negotiations. This inadvertently undermines them.

On how Israel was treated by President Obama during the Netanyahu visit:

There's a striking oddity here. This is a president who bows deeply to the king of Saudi Arabia, who's in a photo-op with the dictator of Venezuela, and will not allow the press in when he has a meeting with the prime minister of the only democracy in the Middle East and the strongest American ally in the Middle East.

It is odd, indeed.

Charles Krauthammer

Muslim Enclaves U.S.A.

 

by Ryan Mauro

 

Building the American Caliphate, One Enclave at a Time

 

It seems almost unthinkable, but Islamist groups are, as we speak, hard at work creating Muslim states-within-states in the U.S. Indeed, this process has been unfolding for a long time across the Western world, through the creation of isolated Muslim enclaves in both rural and urban areas, as well as through the designation of "no-go zones" where governments admit to having little authority over Muslims living there, essentially leaving them to function as autonomous regions.

Daniel Pipes has tracked numerous examples since 2004 of Muslim groups working to create communities based solely on Islam and run by Shari'a law. As discussed by David Kennedy Houck in 2006, "Although such concepts are antithetical to a free society, U.S. democracy allows the internal enclave to function beyond the established boundaries of our constitutional framework."

For example, one such community, Gwynn Oak, has been created in Baltimore, Maryland, consisting of Muslim immigrants and African-American converts. The project is led by John Yahya Cason, director of the Islamic Education and Community Development Initiative. Cason explained that the neighborhood is a response to the problem that "Muslim communities are ruled by Western societal tenets, many of which clash with Islamic norms." In his opinion, there is a need for communities with "the totality of the essential components of Muslim social, economic, and political structure." As such, the Gwynn Oak enclave follows specific moral rules based on Islam and people there speak Arabic. On September 13, 2009, the construction of its three-story mosque began. Approximately 400 Muslims now live in the vicinity.

Another example involves the Islamic Center for Human Excellence, which receives funding from the United Arab Emirates. In August 2004, it was granted permission to build a Muslim neighborhood in Little Rock, Arkansas, complete with a mosque, school, and 22 homes; it would not allow the presence of alcohol. The goal was for Muslims to find an area to escape the alleged crime and depravity of American life, although the imam behind the effort said that non-Muslims are welcome to join.

Far more radical groups than these are now taking the lead in promoting and creating Islamic enclaves on U.S. soil.

One such organization is As-Sabiqun, headed by Imam Abdul Alim Musa, who is very honest about his disturbing objectives. The group's website calls for installing Islamic law worldwide, fighting for "oppressed" Muslims, and "build[ing] model communities where Islam is lived." The website contains a point-by-point plan to assemble mini-states in America, beginning with the construction of a mosque and finishing with "establishing geographical integrity by encouraging Muslims of the community to live in close proximity to the masjid [mosque]" and "establishing social welfare institutions."

The ideology espoused by Musa and As-Sabiqun is undeniably radical. The website boasts about Musa's early endorsement of Ayatollah Khomeini and the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran. It also is unafraid to say that As-Sabiqun members follow people like Hasan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood; Maulana Mawdudi, who called on Muslims to wage jihad until Shari'a law is in place over the globe; and Sayyid Qutb, the Muslim Brotherhood member whose preaching inspired Osama bin Laden. Musa himself has argued that the CIA and Israel were behind the 9/11 attacks. He has admitted that he "like[s]" bin Laden, calls Hezbollah "a great organization," and says Hamas members are "very nice people."

Muslims of the Americas, led by Sheikh Mubarak Ali Gilani in Pakistan, is a very similar group with very similar aims, though its focus is more rural than urban. It admits to owning at least 22 "villages" around the country that are dozens of acres large and operate under names like "Islamberg," "Holy Islamville," and "Aliville." These Muslim-only lands are open to outsiders solely during planned outreach events and sometimes to journalists.

This group has received considerable media attention due to allegations that its isolated compounds are used for paramilitary training, an accusation bolstered by a videotape released by the Christian Action Network. On that tape, a speaker is seen declaring the U.S. a Muslim country and pledging that Muslims of the Americas will defend American Muslims from foreign and domestic enemies.

The ideology of Muslims of the Americas is comparable to that of As-Sabiqun, although it is more centered on following Gilani as a representative of God who is capable of creating miracles. Gilani is very anti-Semitic, describing Jews as "an example of human Satans"; like Musa, he insists that a Jewish-Zionist conspiracy is behind the attacks of September 11, 2001, and other schemes to harm Muslims. He calls bin Laden a "Saudi activist," while claiming to meet with Jesus and personally to have introduced the Mahdi to a select few.

The Department of Homeland Security says that Muslims of the Americas is linked to Jamaat ul-Fuqra, a Pakistani terrorist group. The State Department's Patterns of Global Terrorism report in 1998 described ul-Fuqra as an "Islamic sect that seeks to purify Islam through violence." Other fronts for the group include the International Quranic Open University, the United Muslim-Christian Forum, the Islamic Post newspaper, the Muslim Scouts of America, the Hands to Hands charity, Muslim Vets, the American Muslim Medical and Relief Team, and the Islamic Naat Group.

Another collective aspiring to create autonomous Muslim regions in the U.S. is called the Ummah. On October 28, 2009, the FBI tried to arrest one of its leaders, Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah, for his involvement in criminal activity alongside some of his followers. A shootout ensued that took the life of Abdullah and one police dog. Like Muslims of the Americas, Abdullah offered his flock martial arts training and, in some cases, firearms instruction. He also had his own armed security team and preached war against the U.S. government and solidarity with bin Laden, the Taliban, and Hezbollah.

The FBI describes the Ummah as a "nationwide radical fundamentalist Sunni group consisting mainly of African-Americans" and says that its goal is to create "a separate, sovereign Islamic state ('the Ummah') within the borders of the United States, governed by Shari'a law. The Ummah is to be ruled over by Jamil Abdullah al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown." The death of Luqman Ameen Abdullah did not destroy this aim.

Although the Muslim Brotherhood and its American affiliates are not directly trying to create Islam-based towns within the U.S., they are helpful to the efforts to do so. The Council on American-Islamic Relations' Michigan branch rushed to Abdullah's defense and the American Muslim Taskforce demanded an investigation into his death. In addition, various Brotherhood affiliates have given Musa speaking platforms, including at major universities.

Also involved is Kenny Gamble, a major music producer who now goes by the name of Luqman Abdul Haqq. Gamble has been accused of trying to create a "black Muslim enclave" in Philadelphia, closely following the plan put forth by As-Sabiqun. Notably, he has a leadership position with the Muslim Alliance in North America; Abdullah also served as a leader of MANA and Musa's name was once listed there, but has since been removed. This suggests some level of cooperation among these groups and individuals for their common goals.

The possibility that Muslim-only towns and urban enclaves could be created inside the U.S. seems like a fantasy to most Americans at the moment, but there is precedent in Europe. The French government actually has a website where it tabulates 751 "sensitive urban zones," which have been accurately described as "no-go zones." In these areas, which are mostly populated by Muslim immigrants, there is a high level of crime and hostility to any governing authority, including law enforcement. Police officers do not regularly patrol the areas and they are as close to being autonomous regions as possible without the erecting of an actual parallel government.

The construction of the building blocks for similar Muslim enclaves and "no-go zones" in the U.S. is one of the most disturbing programs of Islamist groups. If successful, these territories will be the first to establish Shari'a law in the country, thus offering a profound challenge to America's constitutional order.

 

 

Ryan Mauro is the founder of WorldThreats.com, national security advisor to the Christian Action Network, and an intelligence analyst with the Asymmetric Warfare and Intelligence Center (AWIC).

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

Why Do Muslims Murder Americans?

 

by  Daniel Greenfield

 

The latest talking point in the Western terrorism apologist camp is that Islamic terrorism against Americans began in 1968 when a PLO supporter named Siran Sirhan assassinated Robert Kennedy. Thaddeus Russel, a radical professor and author of something called, "A Renegade History of the United States", circulated the latest version of this meme when he wrote;

"Not one American died at the hands of a politically motivated Arab or Muslim until June 5, 1968, when Robert F. Kennedy was shot to death by Sirhan Sirhan. The killing came shortly after President Lyndon Johnson declared that the U.S. would become Israel's major sponsor"


Of course there's one problem with this claim. History.

The difference between History and Radical History, is that the former is a record of events that actually took place, and the latter is a distortion of history based on a political agenda. The idea that Muslim terrorists began murdering and trying to murder Americans, after an LBJ announcement isn't history. It's radical history. So let's take a look at history instead.

 

In 1958, ten years before Sirhan Sirhan began polishing his gun, the United Arab Republic (a geographical Frankenstein's monster under the rule of Egypt's Hitler worshiping General, Gamal Abdel Nasser) funded and armed a Muslim revolt against the Christian Lebanese government of President Chamoun. Eisenhower responded by sending in the US Marines as peacekeeping forces. The Muslim terrorists responded by setting off bombs in public squares, restaurants and department stores where Americans were likely to be found.

A
Beirut cafe filled with US soldiers was bombed. So was a bus outside the Capital Hotel, which was filled with Americans. The ABC Department Store, a five story building frequented by Americans was hit by a suicide truck bomber. The same building also housed the local offices of the Singer Sewing Machine company. A bomb went off 30 yards away from the car of the US ambassador. A US Sergeant was shot and killed by a sniper. But of course we've already forgotten the Marines storming Red Beach on 24 hours notice. But the terrorism still went on. The US embassy was bombed in 1967 and bombed again in 1969. And all this is only a snapshot of Arab Muslim terrorist attacks against the US in a single city, in one country.

But apologists for Muslim terrorists will go on to claim that we just shouldn't have been in a Christian country, being claimed by Muslims. Just as they would similarly agree that we shouldn't support Israel, a Jewish country being claimed by Muslims. Or Thailand, a Buddhist country also being claimed by Muslims. In essence we should just stay out of every non-Muslim country being claimed by Muslims. Which includes much of the known world-- including parts of Europe, such as Spain.

So instead let's stay at home. Surely Muslim violence will not trouble us here. Not before the dreaded year 1968, when LBJ and RFK said something positive about Israel. That has to work. Doesn't it?

Then let's go back to 1930, before there even was an Israel. Before US forces were carrying out peacekeeping operations in the Middle East. When the Nation of Islam was founded by W. F. Muhammad. That friendly religious order which claims that white people are subhuman and that America is the devil. The Nation of Islam is however more than just a letter on a baseball cap or a crazy leader occasionally appearing on talk shows to explain why he hates the very people who are giving him a platform. Like just about everything with Islam in its Islam, it has had a long and bloody history from the very beginning.

In 1932 Robert Karriem, one of Muhammad's followers, gathered 12 other followers together, along with his wife and children, as he tied down a tenant of his, James J. Smith, and stabbed him in the chest and then smashed in his skull. Karriem proclaimed "The unbeliever must be stabbed through the heart" and "every son of Islam must gain a victory from the devil. Four victories and the son will attain his reward". All quotes from Muhammad's teachings about Islam. Kerriem was caught and put away, but the violence only grew.

In that same year, the Reverend J.D. Howell, pastor of
St. Stephen's African Methodist Episcopal Church, warned against "the sinister cult of Islamism" which "toppled sanity into homicidal fantasies".

Reverend Howell also emphasized that "The Negro race cannot, as such, be held responsible for the actions and teachings of fanatics. Their 'Arabian' leader is solely to blame. There must be quick and just punishment of those who come among us and, for personal gain, lead us astray. The Islamic 'Bible' and the Nation of Islam must go"


In 1955, the FBI described the Nation of Islam as an "Especially Violent and Anti-American Cult". Its publication contained the quote, "Of all the governments in the world, there has never existed one so wicked as America, which has misled the holy people of Allah.". The FBI internal bulletin found that the Nation of Islam presents "...a threat to the National Security of the United States."

The Nation of Islam murdered "infidels" who left the movement or criticized Elijah Muhammad. Some were stunningly brutal, the murder of an entire family in Philadelphia, including drowning two infants<. But the worst was yet to come. Unlike the Son of Sam or the Zodiac killer, the Zebra Murders , which took place in San Francisco in 1973

 have been generally forgotten... because they are politically incorrect.

The full number of those murdered by the "Death Angels" of the Nation of Islam may never be known. Estimates range anywhere from 71 to over 200. Those targeted were children as young as 11 year old Michele Denise Carrasco and as old as 81-year-old janitor Ilario Bertuccio.
Salvation Army cadets, college students, a retired coast guardsman. The victims were shot, mutilated, raped or decapitated. Some were so badly mutilated that their identities have never been learned.The killers were Nation of Islam members and in some cases used NOI businesses to carry out their atrocities. Their defense was paid for by the Nation of Islam. The horrifying crimes had been committed because the Black Muslim perpetrators believed that murder was their "ticket to heaven".

The Zebra Murders were the worst acts of Muslim terrorism perpetrated on US soil, until September 11, 2001. Like virtually every Muslim atrocity, they have been swept under the rug, their memory scrubbed away and banished to the dusty archives. Because it is much easier to claim that Muslims began murdering Americans in 1968 because they were angry over Israel-- than to admit the ugly and unpleasant truth. That Islamism, is not any fundamentally different than Communism or Nazism. It is an ideology which calls for world conquest and the absolute dominion of its leaders.

Let us step back then before 1973, before 1968, before even 1955 and 1932. All the way back to 1786. When
Muslim pirates were preying on American ships, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams met with Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja, the ambassador to Tripoli, to try and understand what his justification for these attacks was, the ambassador replied that, "It was written in the Koran, that all Nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon whoever they could find and to make Slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every Mussulman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise." 35 Americans died in the Barbary Wars, long before LBJ, RFK or Theodore Herzl were even born.

The justification of an 18th century Muslim ambassador for his piracy against the United States shares a common theme with the Zebra Murders taking place on American soil, nearly two centuries later. The Islamic Supremacism which insists that Muslims have the right to kill those who are not their kind, for reasons or religion or race, and that those who commit the murders will have a ticket to heaven. It also forms the common denominator with the ideologies of Muslim terrorist groups of the present day.

Apologists for Islam focus on the practical motivations behind Islamic atrocities. The Barbary pirates wanted slaves and money. The Death Angels enjoyed rape and torture. Hamas and Al Queda want to rule over different countries. But they are united by the common denominator that Islamic teachings served to dehumanize their enemies and turn them into subhumans. And that is, and has always been the problem. The idea that others are subhuman, and that you can therefore enslave them, kill them and abuse them justifies any number of crimes of opportunity. This goes back to Mohammed and his followers, who embarked on epic sprees of murder, slavery, rape and robbery because they were doing the "Will of Allah", and those who hadn't gotten on board with Islam, were enemies and infidels.

 

 

In the 1930's, European countries tried to deal with Nazi Germany through appeasement, by ignoring the realities of Nazi ideology, and instead treating it as a symptom of economic and political grievances. The result was that Nazi power grew, and so did their atrocities. They went from street violence and a few murders, to conquest, war and genocide. Like the Barbary Pirates and the Death Angels and Hamas-- the Nazis had practical motivations for their crimes. Some of them wanted loot. Some enjoyed torture and murder. But they had the same justification-- that everything they did was correct and even praiseworthy, because their victims were subhuman monsters.

Most murderous ideologies will harness some sort of popular grievance and appeal to their follower's baser desires to kill and plunder. But to ignore the actual ideology, is a dangerous form of denial. To try and appease it is even worse.

Muslims did not begin murdering Americans in 1968 because they were angry about Israel. They were murdering
Americans in 1929, because they were angry at Jews. They were murdering Americans in 1909, because they were angry at Christians. In 1973 they were murdering Salvation Army cadets, homeless people and a teenager who was bringing a teddy bear to his little sister, because they were angry at Americans. In 1955, it was because the Americans were there with a peacekeeping force to prevent them from slaughtering Christians in Beirut. In 1786, they were killing Americans.. because they were just there.

That is the ugly bottom line. Islam justifies the murder of non-Muslims. It says that their property may be taken and their wives raped-- if they don't submit to Islam. The Koran states that Allah is the enemy of infidels. It states that Jihad is mandatory for all Muslims. It promises paradise for those who join in. The non-Muslim has a choice of either submitting to their rule, and becoming a Dhimmi, a second class citizen-- or being an infidel and a target for anything a Muslim cares to do to him or her.

Americans are targets because they are non-Muslims. That is why Obama emphasized in his Cairo speech that America is a Muslim country. That is why Russia joined the OIC. Both are ways of saying, "Don't attack us, we're one of you." But why does that need to be said? It needs to be said, because Islam places Muslims and non-Muslims in different categories. Because it assigns different categories to Muslim and non-Muslim countries. In Islam, there is the Dar Al Islam (The Muslim Realm) and the Dar Al Harb (The Realm of the Sword). A country that is not Muslim, is not in the process of becoming Muslim, and does not have a treaty or truce with whatever a given Muslim faction considers to be real Islam-- is part of the Dar Al Harb, to be made war on, conquered and subjugated.

 

 

Why do Muslims murder Americans? Because they're not Muslims. And even when they're Muslims, it's because they're not the right kind of Muslim. Because Americans have things they want. Because America occasionally interferes with their goal of recreating a Caliphate. Because American power is an implicit insult to Islamic Supremacism, which demands that non-Muslims cannot have more power or taller buildings than Muslims. But in the end as always, Americans are a target because they are non-Muslims, which makes them inferior, deprives them of equal rights in Islam jurisprudence and renders them subhuman.

Had America never allied with any non-Muslim country or Muslim country, that Muslims have a grievance with-- Americans would still be murdered. Because as long as an ideology embraces both violence and the dehumanization of those outside the ideology-- murder is inevitable. This did not begin in 1965. It began in 610. And it's not over yet.

 

 

Daniel Greenfield

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

 

Mohammed Oudeh’s Lesson: Attacking the West Pays

 

by  Evelyn Gordon

 

After Mohammed Oudeh, planner of the terror attack that killed 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics, died this weekend, media obituaries noted that he never regretted his actions. A 2006 interview with AP explained why:

"Before Munich, we were simply terrorists. After Munich, at least people started asking who are these terrorists? What do they want? Before Munich, nobody had the slightest idea about Palestine."

George Habash, founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and architect of the campaign of airline hijackings that began terrorizing Europe in the late 1960s, offered an identical argument as far back as 1970:

"When we hijack a plane it has more effect than if we kill a hundred Israelis in battle. For decades, world public opinion has been neither for nor against the Palestinians. It simply ignored us. At least the world is talking about us now."

Both men, of course, are right. As long as the Palestinians stuck to attacking Israelis on Israeli soil, the West ignored them. But when they began launching attacks in Europe, many Westerners suddenly started asking what could be done to satisfy their grievances and make them stop. And gradually, these questions morphed into a fixed determination to make Israel give the Palestinians whatever they wanted.

The same process is happening now with al-Qaeda. Before 9/11, almost nobody in the West had even heard of al-Qaeda. Since then, numerous articles by journalists, academics, ex-diplomats, ex-intelligence officers, et al. have argued that the West could take the wind out of al-Qaeda's sails by withdrawing all troops from Iraq, Afghanistan, and other Muslim countries, forcing Israel to quit the territories, halting drone attacks on terrorists, and so forth.

This is not yet the consensus; the dominant view is still that al-Qaeda must be fought. But that was also the dominant view when Palestinians first began attacking Europe 40 years ago. It takes time for persistent questions and suggestions to create a consensus for appeasement.

In contrast, there is no talk whatsoever in the West about how to satisfy the grievances of, say, the Congolese militias, who are slaughtering 45,000 of their countrymen every month, or the Kurdish PKK, which has been attacking Turkey for decades. That is because they, poor fools, are still trying to achieve their goals by fighting those they deem their enemies. They haven't yet grasped what the perceptive Palestinians realized four decades ago: if you want the West to help you achieve your goals, you have to attack the West directly.

This clearly isn't the message the West should be sending, as it merely invites more terror attacks on Western soil. The rule should have been that any attack on the West would cause it to join wholeheartedly with the terrorists' adversaries in an effort to destroy them. But through their support of the Palestinian cause over the past few decades, the message Western governments have actually sent is that attacking the West pays.

And if other terrorist groups eventually wake up and adopt the same tactics, the West will have only itself to blame.

 

 

Evelyn Gordon

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

 

Palestinians Freak — No Direct Talks!

 

by  Jennifer Rubin

 

This makes it clear just how petrified by the prospect of direct negotiations the Palestinians are:

The Palestinian Authority has added new conditions for resuming direct talks with Israel, presenting new demands that in effect preclude negotiations.

The stipulations stated to the BBC by PA chief negotiator Saeb Erekat reflect a previously stated strategy of waiting "a year or two" for the United Nations to recognize it as a new Arab country instead of trying to reach a compromise agreement with Israel. …

Erekat told the BBC that in order for direct talks to resume, Israel also must accept former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's proposal as a starting point. Olmert has said that the PA never replied to his offer, which accepted most of the PA's demands on Jerusalem but did not satisfy its insistence that Israel allow the immigration of millions of foreign Arabs claiming ancestry in the country.

You almost get the idea that the PA has neither the will nor the ability to make a deal and has been banking on Obama to deliver Israel (or what would be left of it ) on a platter. If Obama had not carried water for the Palestinians for a year and a half, would they take a different position? Maybe. But if you are desperate to conceal that you have no authority to make a deal and no ability to curtail terrorism, you'll always come up with some excuse to avoid showing up for serious negotiations. Rather than encourage this nonsense with "confidence building" measures, it would be a good idea for Bibi (especially now that Obama is in kiss-and-make-up mode) to end the proximity talks. If the Palestinians decide it's time to make a deal, I'm sure Bibi will take their call.

 

 

Jennifer Rubin

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

 

Is Temple Mount in our hands?

 

by Efraim Halevy

 

Renouncing Jewish right for Mount paves way to losing right for entire land

 

The many statements recently issued by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas included one where he expressed his willingness to let Israel maintain its control over Jerusalem's Jewish Quarter and the Western Wall. Various Palestinian spokespeople and Knesset Member Dr. Ahmed Tibi were quick to stress that this willingness comes with an unequivocal Palestinian position demanding full, exclusive sovereignty over the Temple Mount.

 

Whatever Israel's position on other territorial issues, we must warn against such a "deal" with the Palestinians. Moreover, during negotiations with the Palestinians in the framework of the Geneva Accord, they fought for ensuring that the term "Kotel" refer only to part of the Western Wall – the small section where Jews pray today. Hence, Abbas' words only refer to the limited plaza at the Wailing Wall and not to the entire Western Wall, let alone the Kotel tunnels.

 

Israel's demand for the Western Wall is not premised on the Kotel being a holy Jewish site in and of itself. The demand is premised on the Kotel being a remnant of our Temple. Anyone recognizing our right for the Western Wall must recognize the fact that the Kotel is part of a structure or several structures that Jews have no less attachment to than the Muslims. One who has no right for the structure has no right for any wall of that structure.

 

The 2000 Camp David talks failed, among other reasons, because Yasser Arafat argued that Israel had no right whatsoever to Temple Mount. He rejected any historical attachment between the Israel of the First and Second Temple era and the site. Prime Minister Ehud Barak rejected this approach out of hand, and rightfully so. One who agrees to repudiate Israel's attachment to Temple Mount opens the door for denying the Jewish people any right for any part of the Land of Israel. Hence, Israel's firm stance in respect to this attachment is more vital and fateful than any struggle for any Judea and Samaria community.

 

Avoid slightest concession 

No benefit will be gained today by attempting to understand why all past Israeli governments accepted the methodical Muslim destruction of our Temple's remnants undertaken mostly deep within Temple Mount ever since Jerusalem's liberation in 1967. Future researchers into Israel's history will likely review documents that recorded Israeli discussions and decisions that allowed Temple Mount's Muslim authorities and Arab Israelis to boost their hold at the site.

What remains for us now, after the methodical acts of destruction in Solomon's Stables and other sections of the site, is to firmly insist on our equal sovereign rights for Temple Mount. Even the slightest concession will mark the beginning of the countdown on any Jewish right for this land.

 

How sad it is to recall Mordechai Gur's touching call "Temple Mount is in our hands," uttered in the wake of bitter battles and such high casualty toll. The Mount remained in our hands for several hours only, and future generations will look into the reasons for handing it over to our enemies immediately after the victory, without getting anything in return and without eliciting any understanding for our right to the site. Indeed, people work in mysterious ways.

 

 

Efraim Halevy

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

 

How to Support the Struggle for Iran's Soul Part I

 

by Ilan Berman

 

1st part o 2

 

Iranian Reform and Stagnation

 

Does Washington care about freedom in Iran? On the surface, it seems like a silly question. Ever since Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini swept to power in 1979, Washington policymakers of all political stripes have been holding out hope that a kinder, gentler regime would emerge in Tehran. Republican and Democratic administrations alike have expressed their support for freedom within the Islamic Republic, and both sides of the political aisle have condemned the regime's repressive domestic practices. Yet, concrete proof of the U.S. commitment to pluralism in Iran is hard to come by. The strategies by which the United States can assist Iran's opposition remain poorly understood and even less effectively implemented. This is unfortunate, since with the proper vision and political will, the United States can harness economic, diplomatic, and informational strategies to significantly affect the unfolding struggle for Iran's soul.

A Timeline of Dithering

The Carter administration, on whose watch the Islamic Republic took root, vacillated between appeasement of the new Iranian regime and complete political disengagement from it. Jimmy Carter's successor, Ronald Reagan, made isolation of Iran the official U.S. policy but did not seek to promote change there as he did within the Soviet Union's "evil empire." To the contrary, efforts to secure the release of American hostages in Lebanon even led Washington to embark upon an ill-fated plan to sell arms secretly to Iran's ayatollahs.

The collapse of the Soviet Union had the effect of sidelining Iran as a foreign policy priority during the tenure of President George H. W. Bush. The Clinton administration took up the issue but quickly became paralyzed by internal divisions: Should it try to foster behavioral change within the ruling class or seek a more fundamental transformation of the regime itself? The George W. Bush administration seemed to bring a breath of fresh air. Its post-September 11 advocacy of a "forward strategy that favors freedom"[1] fanned hopes among many that—in contrast to its predecessors—it would truly engage with pro-democracy forces within Iran. President Bush's calls for the Iranian leadership "to respect the will of its people and be accountable to them"[2] also raised hopes.

In practice, however, the principles of the Bush doctrine did not extend as far as the Islamic Republic. For all its talk about Iranian democracy, the Bush White House offered only nominal aid to those seeking freedom and pluralism within the country. Between 2004 and 2008, it authorized a total of $215 million in funding for all diplomatic programs dealing with Iran.[3] But only a small fraction of that sum—some $38.6 million—was dedicated specifically to democracy promotion.[4] And even those paltry funds were, in the end, diluted by bureaucratic infighting that served to undermine their effectiveness.[5]

Since taking office, the Obama administration has done even less. Eager to break with the policy of its predecessors and to engage with Iran's leaders, the new White House systematically downgraded the idea of promoting pluralism within the Islamic Republic. It eliminated the State Department's Iran Democracy Fund, the central node for pro-democracy funding during the Bush years, folding it into a generic Near East Regional Democracy (NERD) Fund that lacks a clear direction or mandate.[6] It cut off funding for the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, a nongovernmental organization committed to chronicling the regime's human rights abuses.[7] It likewise rolled back funding for a raft of other groups from nongovernmental organizations such as Freedom House to the U.S.-funded International Republican Institute, putting their Iran-related activities at risk.[8] In the process, it has sent the unmistakable signal that the United States is no longer interested in seeking substantive change in the nature of the Iranian regime or its domestic behavior.

Electoral Earthquake

The focus on this state of affairs has sharpened since the summer of 2009. The results of Iran's June 12 presidential election—in which incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defeated all challengers in a contest blatantly punctuated by fraud and manipulation[9]—generated widespread outrage in Iran, resulting in the most sustained outpouring of opposition since the 1979 Islamic Revolution itself.

However, while Ahmadinejad's reelection may have catalyzed the current protests, it was not the reason for them. The underlying causes for Iran's turmoil run much deeper and can be traced back to the socioeconomic failures endemic to the current regime. These range from runaway inflation—officially cited at 13.6 percent but estimated to be at least twice that figure[10]—to widespread poverty (with nearly a quarter of the Iranian population now estimated to live below the poverty line)[11] to what is perhaps the highest rate of drug addiction in the world.[12] Together, these factors have conspired to create widespread disaffection with the current regime—disaffection given voice by the "Green Movement" that coalesced in the weeks and months following the June 12 vote.

The Islamic Republic has responded harshly. It has tightened its already strict control of the Internet, passing draconian new legislation to regulate assorted "illegal" activities on the web and turning social networking tools employed by protesters against their users.[13] It has targeted opposition leaders, both secular and religious, seeking to discredit and silence them.[14] It has sought to intimidate Iranian opposition activists living abroad.[15] Additionally, it has attempted to shore up the legitimacy of Iranian supreme leader 'Ali Khamenei through a variety of measures, from a bid to alter the country's constitution to the elimination of potential clerical competitors.[16]

This response is understandable. Iran, after all, is a country in the throes of monumental internal transformation. Its population of 70 million is overwhelmingly young; nearly half (48.8 percent) is aged twenty-four or younger, according to official regime statistics.[17] Iran's ruling elite, by contrast, is aging and infirm with the majority of the Islamic Republic's original revolutionaries in their late sixties and early seventies. This generational divide is deeply significant. It suggests that more than half of all Iranians have little or no memory of the Islamic Revolution itself and, as the events of the past half year make clear, are alienated from the Islamic Republic—and may now be looking for some sort of fundamental break with it.

Leveraging International Trade

As the post-electoral crisis unfolded, the conventional wisdom in the Obama administration was that the United States could do little to assist Iran's opposition and that U.S. involvement would do more harm than good. In keeping with this belief, the president took pains to insist that the United States would not interfere in Iran's internal affairs, and his administration systematically muted its criticism of the Iranian regime's repressive domestic conduct.[18] Over time, however, Washington has progressively reevaluated the viability of Iran's Green Movement and its chances for success.[19] The State Department's point man on Iran, John Limbert, has gone so far as to draw comparisons between the current situation and the turmoil that preceded the 1979 Islamic Revolution.[20]

The Obama administration's lackluster response to Iran's internal ferment has thus far been predicated in part on the belief that engagement with the Iranian regime requires the United States to refrain from expressing support for regime opponents. Such a stance has served to buttress the Iranian regime, indicating to officials in Tehran that the international community will not weigh in decisively to prevent repression or to aid its opponents. This stance has opened up the administration to criticism that it has abandoned American values.[21]

A middle way exists, however. It lies in a model of "conditional recognition," under which the United States makes clear to the Iranian government that how it treats its internal opposition will directly influence how it is treated by other nations in a variety of spheres, including but not limited to commercial ties and diplomatic recognition. Such an approach is certainly not new. In the mid-1970s, the U.S. government applied a similar strategy toward the Soviet Union in an attempt to influence the Kremlin's internal conduct. That initiative—named "Jackson-Vanik" after its two main cosponsors, Sen. Henry "Scoop" Jackson (Democrat of Washington) and Rep. Charles Vanik (Democrat of Ohio)—linked most-favored-nation trading status for the Soviet Union to a liberalization of the USSR's draconian emigration policies. The approach worked: Eager to engage in commerce with the West, Moscow loosened restrictions on travel, granting freedom to a generation of Soviet dissidents and laying the groundwork for glasnost, perestroika, and the fall of the Soviet Union.

The lesson remains valid today. For too long, legitimate concerns over the Iranian regime's atomic efforts have overshadowed serious discussions about human rights conditions within Iran. But Iran is a country deeply interested in international recognition and desperate for regional prestige and, therefore, vulnerable to pressure that questions its status on these two counts. Washington can exploit this opening in two ways.

The first has to do with engagement. Outreach to Iran has been the centerpiece of the Obama administration's Middle East strategy, but as administration officials are quick to explain, it is not intended to be open-ended or to shield Tehran from the consequences of its actions on the nuclear front. The same should hold true with the regime's behavior at home. U.S. policy on Iran cannot become a foil that facilitates ever greater repression by the Iranian government. To make sure it does not, Washington will need to put Tehran on notice that the prospects for real, long-term dialogue—should the regime truly desire it—are as much a function of Iran's domestic practices as of its nuclear ambitions.

The second focuses on trade. The United States today has little direct economic leverage over Iran, but here Europe can help. Collectively, the countries of the European Union serve as Iran's largest trading partner with an annual total trade of more than €25 billion ($34.25 billion).[22] While European capitals have proved resistant to using this economic clout to pressure Tehran over its nuclear ambitions, there is reason to believe that the question of human rights might find a more receptive ear on the continent. That is because the countries of Europe, almost without exception, are signatories to the 1975 Helsinki Final Act, which obliges them to encourage "the effective exercise of civil, political, social, cultural and other rights and freedoms" abroad.[23] Over the years, those standards have never been applied in any significant fashion to Iran as a result of human rights concerns. Washington, however, has the ability to make that laissez-faire attitude an issue and to nudge Europe toward taking a more active stance on altering Tehran's domestic behavior by highlighting the regime's widespread domestic abuses, and the moral imperative of disengagement as a result.

Upgrading Official U.S. Communications

By objective measure, official U.S. broadcasting toward Iran enjoys widespread popularity within the Islamic Republic. The U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors estimates that the U.S. government's outreach to Iranians—encompassing the Voice of America's Persian News Network television channel, its radio counterpart Radio Farda,[24] and associated websites—"has a combined weekly radio, television, and Internet audience of 29.4 percent of the adults in Iran."[25] Audience, however, does not equal influence. Riddled with mismanagement, a lack of accountability, and a chronic absence of strategic vision, official U.S. broadcast outlets remain a marginal voice in Iranian politics.

Four years ago, a study commissioned by the Iran Steering Group, jointly chaired by the State Department and the National Security Council, exposed these deficiencies. That report found that the main instruments of official U.S. broadcasting into Iran "fall short of realizing their stated mission and mandate" on a number of levels from self-censorship in the selection of content, to inadequate analysis and interpretation of important events, to a failure to properly frame sensitive political issues.[26]

Those conclusions still stand, despite the fact that in the years since that study was written, U.S. broadcasting into Iran has received major infusions of economic capital and political attention. However, structural reforms—such as greater linguistic proficiency among senior managers and more stringent oversight over programming—have lagged far behind, as highlighted in a scathing report issued by the State Department's inspector general in April 2009.[27]

Reversing course requires the United States to make major investments in a number of areas. Chief among them is clarity of purpose. The current disarray in official U.S. broadcasting is attributable at least partly to a lack of unambiguous direction from the country's political leadership. In its day, the Bush administration—for all of its lofty rhetoric to the contrary—sent mixed signals about its commitment to a fundamental, political transformation in Tehran. The Obama administration, preoccupied with engagement of the current Iranian regime, has so far refrained from articulating in an unmistakable and sustained fashion a commitment to political trends that might jeopardize this policy. If, however, the administration hopes to be able to influence Iranian politics over the long term, it will need to articulate much clearer support for political pluralism in the Islamic Republic. And once it does, it will need to enforce that policy throughout the bureaucracy that manages U.S. public diplomacy.

This change, moreover, must be reflected in the quality of the actual content that is generated by U.S. broadcasting. Today, with some notable exceptions, U.S. outreach to Iran has degenerated into prolonged sessions of entertainment, often carried out at the expense of proven approaches to shaping the strategic landscape through cultural, intellectual, and historical programs. And the audience appears to have taken notice: Anecdotal evidence suggests that although U.S. broadcasts are ubiquitous throughout the Islamic Republic, they desperately need a reconfiguration that provides for greater discourse about liberal Western democracy, human rights, personal freedoms, and political independence.[28] Key themes that require amplification include: U.S. support for opposition forces within Iran; the extent of regime brutality against its own people; the corruption endemic to the country's ruling clerical class; and the dangers that the Iranian regime's persistent quest for nuclear weapons poses to its own population.

 

Ilan Berman is vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, D.C.

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

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