Friday, May 6, 2011

Executed in Pakistan and Alive in Londonistan

by Mordechai Kedar

The author of Proverbs taught us: “When your enemy falls, do not exult; when he trips, let your heart not rejoice”. This expectation seems difficult to understand and, indeed, seems inhuman, as one's survival sometimes depends on an enemy’s failure and on the downfall of an intended Killer. This assumes particular significance especially after the execution of Western civilization’s Enemy Number One, a man who devoted all of his (considerable) wealth and (no less considerable) energy towards the global Jihad intended to bring western culture to its knees and, with the might of the sword, impose Islam on all humanity.

There is no doubt that this was a great achievement for the Americans, both for its various intelligence agencies and for the Navy Seals who carried out the mission with a minimum of hitches: it is possible that the goal of the mission was to capture bin Laden alive, if only to obtain information about his organization, and one helicopter was lost in the operation. Nevertheless, it is noteworthy that there were no American casualties in such a complex, fast-moving attack against such a fortified and protected target.

It is also important to point out the field security characterizing the operation. American Intelligence began preparing for this mission last August, i.e. nine months ago, and have utilized since then a significant number of intelligence-gathering methods: aerial photographs via satellite
and drones; ground photographs by people positioned near the target for long periods; monitoring of those entering and exiting the target; eavesdropping on the target employing non-standard equipment because those living there did not use wireless phones, landlines, cellular phones or any computer-based forms of communication. All these intelligence methods were employed during an extended period of time without arousing any suspicion from Bin Laden and those surrounding him or from the Pakistani military and security forces, who are suspected of collaborating with al-Qaeda; this, in and of itself, is praiseworthy.

The Americans claim that bin Laden was killed and his body buried at sea, but as of this writing, the American government has not released confirmatory photographs and many in the Islamic world are skeptical. The reason for this “burial” is to prevent his grave from becoming a shrine for pilgrims, and this is logical thinking. However, for a long time now, bin
Laden has not signified a person, a man or a body; the importance of his execution, therefore, rests not on whether or not he is alive. After the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, bin Laden became a symbol, an idea, a beacon. His organization Al-Qaeda, which had been an enormous, hierarchal network until late 2001, ceased being an organized body after the fall of
Afghanistan, the eradication of the Taliban regime and the destruction of the terror infrastructure established under the aegis of Mullah Omar, Afghanistan's then ruler, by bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

The concept of world Jihad spread throughout the Islamic population and took root in the hearts of many, too many, Muslims worldwide. They use modern means of communication to circulate the idea of Jihad, whose declared goal is to return all humanity to the seventh century, to the days of “al-Salaf al-Salih” – “the righteous ancestors” – the period of the first Islamic
conquests, when the Bedouin tribes left the Arabian desert in order to subdue the civilizations of that time: the Persian and Byzantine Empires. They forever promulgate the idea of Jihad against Western culture which is based on hedonism, permissiveness, individualism and instant gratification.

The question that naturally arises is how these Jihadists will react to the liquidation of their leader, symbol and prophet. To answer this, we must listen to how their spokesmen responded in public broadcasts immediately after bin Laden was executed. One of these is a man called Dr. Hani al-Siba’i, an attorney and head of The Almaqreezi Center for Historical Studies, who
resides in London as a “political refugee”. This “political refugee” is one of the leaders of the Egyptian Jihad organization who was sentenced, in absentia, to a long prison term and who praised the London terror attacks of 7 July 2005, in which Islam succeeded in “rubbing the nose of western culture in the dirt”. On Monday morning, one hour after the execution of
bin Laden was publicized, BBC Arabic Radio interviewed al-Sibai, who said the following, in a live broadcast and without hesitation (my interpretations are in brackets):

“I congratulate the [Islamic] nation on one of Islam’s lions becoming a shahid (martyr). This fulfills Sheikh al-Mujahids’ (the Leader of the Jihad combatants’) hopes, which emerged from the womb of the Afghani Jihad and are today borne aloft, adorned by the wedding of one of Islam’s lions [with the beauties in Paradise]. Yes, Sheikh Abu Abdallah (an appellation of bin
Laden's) longed for this moment and was faithful to his task. He rose to action while others sat idle; he preached Islam while its sons abandoned it. He became a symbol for all humanity, in Afghanistan, Indonesia, Iraq, Somalia and North Africa [regions where Jihad organizations are active]. He lived a praiseworthy life and died a shahid. . .”

“The joy of those celebrating is bogus and matters will soon become clear. There was treachery here, as Islam’s enemies always come from within. . .
The whole world says “This is not a war against Islam”, but we no longer know who is a Muslim since [Islam’s enemies think that] a Muslim must be a Muslim according to the American standard; he must deny the Koran, abandon the tradition of the Messenger and adopt American religion to satisfy the Americans. Muslims think that bin Laden is a shahid [sitting in Paradise
with all its accompanying rewards] and they cheer him with joy . . . [Later on in the interview, al-Siba’i quotes from a poem by Muslim poet Albukhturi:] It is no wonder that the lions fall prey to the teeth of the dogs near and far, for the sword of the savage put an end [even] to Hamza
and ’Ali [among the prominent figures of Ancient Islam].”

Thus speaks on live radio a man to whom Great Britain – the cornerstone of western culture – granted political asylum. And when a Muslim hears these songs of praise for bin Laden in Dr. al-Siba’i's classic, glorious, flowery and refined style, he knows that bin Laden's elimination is just a milestone on a long and arduous journey, but one with a clear direction. The goal is
evident and victory will arrive in due course.

This is puzzling: How did London, the bastion of democracy and liberalism, become a place of refuge for theoreticians of World Jihad, which aspires with all its might to destroy the United States, to bring western civilization to its knees and, with blood and fire, sword and Kalashnikov,
impose upon it the desert culture of the seventh century? The British – if there are any true Britons left – must have the answers.

Since we have to take Dr. al-Sibai’s words very seriously, we must actively prepare for a new wave of terror, which will be motivated by the desire to perpetuate the memory and actions of The Shahid, Osama bin Laden. His name will adorn the coming terror attacks, and I will not be surprised if they are numbered serially. The United States is not the only target; every
country, organization or institution identified with the West and its culture is an objective. Beginning now, the most dangerous place is Pakistan. Many Jihadists are sure that its government collaborated with the United States in this operation, just as it does in the American war against al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan; they do not believe the denials
coming from both sides.

The question is not “will there be a major retaliatory attack”, but when will it come, where will it be carried out, what methods will be used and how many people will be sacrificed in it and in others that follow. We must not be complacent: whether a week, a month, or even a year passes with no large-scale, September 11th-like Jihadi reaction, the West must assume that
somewhere – in Kandahar or London, Islamabad or New York – there are people planning the next calamity in excruciating detail, preparing what is necessary so that the murders will parallel in significance the execution of Sheikh al-Mujahidin, Osama bin Laden.

The world must be particularly alert to anything related to home-made non-conventional weaponry, especially explosives and toxic materials produced very simply using freely available products such as pesticides, fertilizers and medicines. There must be tight supervision of sensitive sites such as toxic material warehouses because an attack on them could
disseminate such hazardous materials to adjacent population centers.

Security organizations in western countries should increase their supervision of what is said and done in mosques, because history teaches us that more than a few Jihadi alliances began with the meeting of people who came there to pray and continued on the path to Jihad. Those who travel
regularly between Europe and Pakistan or who spend significant time in their Pakistani homeland are liable to return to Great Britain or another western country with very dangerous ideas and the knowledge and readiness to carry them out.

But most important is to put an end to the strange phenomenon in which Jihadists find safe refuge in the very countries they wish to destroy and in the very societies whose character they are trying to change. The struggle in Great Britain over the laws of the Islamic Sharia is intensifying as those British who fear for the image of British society, blurred as it has
become by the adoption of multi-culturalism, wake up to discover that a group of immigrants has become the masters of the public arena. Post-modern-colonialism has reversed directions: Great Britain no longer rules Pakistan; rather, Pakistan is taking over Great Britain.

The Hijra – migration – was the means used by Muhammad, the Messenger of Islam, to transmit the idea of Islam to the city of al-Madina, and his Muslim contemporaries applied this method by migrating to other countries: not only territorial conquest by the sword, but infiltration for the sake of controlling the culture, economy, law, system of government and the public
domain. One other person should be noted: Sheikh Anjem Choudary, who preaches in London to turn Great Britain into an Islamic Caliphate, and who views democracy, rights and freedoms as idols to be destroyed.

Bin Laden with his methods, Hani al-Siba’i with his words and Sheikh Anjem Choudary with his sermons are all different sides of the same Jihadist coin. Bin Laden's elimination did not destroy the ideas being spread by al-Siba’i, Choudary and the like in too many places in Europe and in the United States; on the contrary, it lent them greater validity and provided Jihadists with
stronger motivation. As long as people like Hani al-Siba’i and Sheikh Anjem Choudary are active in the West, the spirit of bin Laden’s global Jihad is alive and kicking in western society. Bin Laden is dead but he lives in London and in many other places. He succeeded in exporting Jihad, and the spirit of Jihad is flourishing wherever western culture is falling asleep on the watch. The ideas of Choudary and al-Siba’i are no less dangerous than airplanes crashing into office towers.

When your enemy falls, do not exult, but make sure that he does not survive in the words and preachings of his adherents.

Source: Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation)

Mordechai Kedar is Lecturer in the Department of Arabic, Bar-Ilan University,

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

President Obama and the Masked Face of Justice

by Lee Cary

President Obama, who aims to avoid offending the Arab Street by withholding the photo of a dead Osama bin Laden, seems to care little about offending the American Street.

Here's how Obama explains concealing the photo in question:

It is important to make sure that very graphic photos of somebody who was shot in the head are not floating around as an incitement to additional violence or as a propaganda tool...We don't trot out this stuff as trophies...The fact of the matter is, this is somebody who was deserving of the justice that he received...We don't need to spike the football... given the graphic nature of these photos it would create a national security risk.

In the meantime, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) says we don't need to see the photos. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary concur. House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) has no opinion, one way or the other. There's leadership for you.

The meta-message here is that we who walk the American Street are children, to be lectured by our all-knowing parents, told that, "You kids don't need to see this. It's only for us adults. It's too gruesome, and it'll make the people who liked the dead man mad at us for what we've done to him." This is told to Americans who are deluged daily by Hollywood, TV News, and videogame images of graphic gruesomeness.

Follow that logic, and TV news outlets, at the insistence of the Bush administration, should have censored the photos and films of the Twin Towers falling down. Blackened out those small, horrific images of people jumping off the top of burning buildings. And secured a court injunction to prohibit the New York Times, always sensitive of the American Street, from distributing photos of mortally wounded US soldiers. No problems with those pictures -- no danger of offending the Arab Street there.

Our President tells us that showing a photograph of OBL at room temperature with a serious head wound would represent a "national security risk" because it might make people who already hate us, hate us even more. How's that for an absurd non sequitur?

Looking back, it was a big risk to execute the Doolittle Raid on Japan a few months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. They were obviously already mad at us, and bombing Tokyo was certain to make them even madder. Risky business, that was.

Looking back at the end of World War II, we were wrong to march German civilians -- who, of course, knew nothing about the extermination camps just outside their city limits -- through the carnage and make them police up the shrunken cadavers. That was insensitive of us.

And what's with all that theatre when relatives of dead crime victims get to speak to the convicted murderer before the judge passes sentence, sometimes leading to an electrocution where family members can, if they choose, watch the face of justice happen?

But didn't the people of Romania, oppressed for 24 years by the dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, deserve to see what Nicolae's face looked like after the justice brought to him by a firing squad on Christmas Day 1989? The Romanians were entitled to see that face of justice. Not that it would make up for all the pain he brought upon them. What they needed to see was that that particular pain was finally over.

And that's what some among the ruling class, representing both major political parties inside the Beltway, just...don't...get. Mostly, because they don't live on the American Street. They seem to think that the Osama Phenomenon that is part of the War on Islamic terrorists -- is it okay to call them that today? -- was only experienced by two of the three branches of government. The third branch remaining inscrutably detached.

Releasing the photo isn't about the sophomorically ridiculous metaphor that the President used about spiking a football. (You suppose there were any fist bumps in the White House situation room? High fives? "Yes we did" chants?)

Apparently the Beltway people think, that we think, that war is a blood sport like politics. Most of the civilians among them have never seen war. Some on the American Street, who've seen soldiers and civilians with fatal head wounds, understand that anyone who likens an appropriate response to killing, even a very bad actor like OBL, to spiking a football just doesn't fathom what it means to see the face of justice on a dead Osama bin Laden.

There's no promise for personal satisfaction in the withheld photo. No exaltation in the gruesome carnage. No voyeuristic delight in death. None of that represents any desire of the collective American Street.

Why the photo should be released has absolutely nothing to do, at its purist application, with trotting out trophies -- whatever that means. For Obama and other Beltway luminaries to suggest that it does, says much about how little they know the people they profess to serve.

For over a decade, the American Street has been after bin Laden in search of justice, not for us individually, but for the nation, led by those who died on September 11, 2001, but also including all the other people murdered by his followers, including many from the Arab Street.

The search for bin Laden was a decade's long quest for justice led by men and women of the US military who volunteered to oppose the tyranny in the Middle East that he represented, leaving family and civilian careers behind to look for the face of justice. It's an even longer ordeal for the families of those who've died in the fight, or from the consequences of having invested their wounded souls in it. It's not over yet.

The president says it's a national security risk to release the photo. He's as dead wrong as bin Laden is dead. For the greater risk to national security is in not displaying, for all to see, the Look of Justice on the face of what was Osama bin Laden. Americans have earned the right to look at the Face of Justice.


Lee Cary

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

Saudi Women's Revolution Begins

by Chana Ya'ar

Women in Saudi Arabia have begun the struggle for equality on a basic right that is not even questioned in most Western nations – the right to vote. Registration for the privilege in upcoming municipal elections, scheduled to be held in September for only the second time in the past half century, began April 23.

But women have not been allowed to participate.

Regardless, dozens of women across the country have decided it is time to challenge an ancient Islamic patriarchal system that has kept them from driving, traveling, working or even signing medical forms without the permission of a male guardian – any male relative, even their own minor child will do.

A group of 11 women in Riyadh who organized themselves through the Twitter social networking website appeared at one registration center in an attempt to force the issue.

The newly-formed movement, “Saudi Women Revolution,” has a Facebook page and can also be found through a Twitter hash tag search. Although they failed to convince the elections officers, the women – all of whom were clad in regulation black burkas – nevertheless expressed satisfaction to international reporters with their first attempt to assert their rights.

Saudi Women Protest in Riyadh
Hundreds of Saudi women in Riyadh also took part in demonstrations at the Princess Nora Bint Abdulrahman University on Thursday. According to a report posted on the Arabia Today blog, the protests came after the women, all of whom were students, allegedly failed an English exam at the university.

“The students felt hard done by the results, which were marked subjectively without a clear academic criteria,” blogger Hashimilion reported.

The university president reportedly tried to stop the demonstration but was unable to do so, faced with hundreds of women who chanted, “We will continue to demonstrate until the president resigns!”

In response, the president informed the students that all those who failed the exam would have to repeat the entire year and retake all their subjects. “They will start from scratch because they've caused a lot of chaos and humiliated the university staff,” he said. “This will be a lesson to all students, not just in this university but in all universities around the country.”


Chana Ya'ar

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Osama vs. Yassin

by Manfred Gerstenfeld

Reprinted from

The flurry of international reactions to the killing of Osama bin Laden by the American army provides Israel with a great opportunity to demonstrate the double standards applied against it by so many in the Western world and elsewhere. All one has to do is compare the reactions of major institutions and leaders with those after the death of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. This leader of the Hamas terrorist organization was killed by Israel in 2004. He was directly responsible for many lethal attacks on Israeli civilians including suicide bombings.

On Monday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told reporters that “the death of Osama bin Laden, announced by President (Barack) Obama last night, is a watershed moment in our common global fight against terrorism.”

Yet after the killing of Sheikh Yassin, then-UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said “I do condemn the targeted assassination of Sheikh Yassin and the others who died with him. Such actions are not only contrary to international law, but they do not do anything to help the search for a peaceful solution.”

The now-defunct UN Commission on Human Rights condemned “the tragic death of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in contravention of the Hague Convention IV of 1907.” At the Security Council, the US had to use its veto power to prevent condemnation of Israel.

After the bin Laden killing, the leaders of the European Council and European Commission stated that his death made the world a safer place and showed that terrorist attacks do not remain unpunished. Following the Yassin killing, then-EU Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana said, “This type of action does not contribute at all to create the conditions of peace. This is very, very bad news for the peace process. The policy of the European Union has been consistently condemnation of extra-judicial killing.”British Prime Minister David Cameron congratulated President Obama on the success of the bin Laden assassination. Cameron considered it a massive step forward in the fight against extremist terrorism. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair also welcomed bin Laden’s demise.

However, the killing of Sheikh Yassin was called by the then-British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw “unacceptable” and “unjustified.” The official spokesman of then-Prime Minister Blair condemned the “unlawful attack“ and observed: “We have repeatedly made clear our opposition to Israel’s use of targeted killings and assassinations.”

A Case of Anti-Semitism?

France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy hailed Bin Laden’s killing as a coup in the fight against terrorism. He called President Obama, praised his determination and courage and all others who had pursued the head of al-Qaeda for 10 years. Sarkozy added that the two heads of state had agreed to continue the just and necessary fight against terrorist barbarity and those who support it.

Yet after Sheikh Yassin’s death, a French Foreign Ministry spokesman, Herve Ladsous, said, “France condemns the action taken against Sheikh Yassin, just as it has always condemned the principle of any extra-judicial execution as contrary to international law.” Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin declared that “such acts can only feed the spiral of violence.”

German Chancellor Angel Merkel said at a recent press conference, “I’m glad that killing bin Laden was successful.” She also called it “good news.” Then Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer had stated after the killing of Sheikh Yassin that “the German government is deeply concerned about the development.”

Russia released a statement regarding bin Laden which the Voice of America quoted as saying that retribution inevitably reaches all terrorists and that Russia is ready to “step up” its coordination in the international fight against global terrorism.” After the Yassin assassination, a foreign ministry spokesman said that Moscow was deeply concerned about the situation.

President Abdullah Gul of Turkey declared that the killing of bin Laden was a message for terrorist organizations all around the world. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had called the killing of Yassin “a terrorist act” and said that “the assassination was not humane.”

This comparison gets even more meaningful when seen in the context of the definition of anti-Semitism as regularly used in the European Union. It was prepared by one of the EU agencies. It gives examples of the ways in which anti-Semitism manifests itself with regard to the State of Israel, including the following: “Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.”Israel could considerably improve its public diplomacy by using the comparison of the two killings and other comparisons of events which occur with great frequency to stress such double standards. This is one of the many ways that Israel can fend off at least part of the unjust criticism against it.


Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld has published 19 books, several of these deal with anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism.

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

Pushing 'Islamophobia' at UCLA

by Judith Greblya

Should an academic lecture on Sharia (Islamic law) become a platform for promoting fear of "Islamophobia"? This is exactly what occurred on April 14, 2011, when the University of California, Los Angeles, held the third and final lecture from Khaled Abou El Fadl—Omar and Azmeralda Alfi Distinguished Professor in Islamic Law and chair of the Islamic Studies Interdepartmental Program at UCLA—in the series, "Sharia Watch: AView from the Inside." The lecture was cosponsored by UCLA's School of Law, Center for Near Eastern Studies, Journal for Islamic and Near Eastern Law, and Islamic Studies Interdepartmental Program.

The receptive audience of approximately 30 people consisted mostly of members of the local Muslim community and graduate students from UCLA's Near Eastern Languages and Cultures Department.

In her introductory remarks, UCLA law professor Asli Bali explained that the aim of the series was, "to better understand Sharia, as there is a lot of misinformation on what it is in the West." But, as in previous lectures, only 15 minutes of the hour-long lecture were actually devoted to Sharia; the bulk of the lecture focused on Islamophobia in America and the West.

Abou El Fadl claimed that the phenomenon of Islamophobia is due to racism and that it originated in medieval Europe where, as he put it, "Jews and Muslims were repeatedly constructed in European literature as 'folkloric monsters.'" This is incorrect, for both race and ethnicity were alien ideas in medieval Europe. In fact, the terms "race" and "racism" appeared for the first time in European belle-letters in the eighteenth century.

Continuing the anti-Western diatribe, Abou El Fadl later added that, "the construction of the racial and ethnic alien stems from the West's ethnocentrism." Of Islamic supremacy, he had nothing to say.

He even blamed the West for the very concept he was espousing:

The term 'Islamophobia' is inadequate as it is limited. Discourse on Islam has a long history but the word itself, Islam, is problematic for it is constructed and reconstructed by the West.

Without citing a single piece of evidence—and in contradiction to FBI statistics on anti-religious hate crimes—Abou El Fadl alleged that in the U.S., "every single week there are new victims of Islamophobia."

Employing a false correlation popular among those advocating the view of Muslims as victims, Abou El Fadl insisted that Islamophobia is similar to anti-Semitism:

Those crazy right wing nuts who keep on telling the public that Muslims want to impose Sharia on Americans have in common[sic] with anti-Semites who to this day propel the ideas of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Betraying the disingenuousness of this comparison, Abou El Fadl and Basli later circulated a December 2010 Huffington Post article by leftist journalist Max Blumenthal alleging an "Islamophobic crusade" on the part of, among others, "right wing ultra-Zionists" and the "pro-Israel lobby." Such rhetoric, paradoxically, hearkens back to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It was, they asserted, "great literature."

n bemoaning the discomfort among Americans with the building of mosques such as Park51 (the ground zero mosque), Abou El Fadl failed to mention that non-Muslim houses of worship are forbidden and bibles routinely destroyed in Saudi Arabia, Buddhist shrines were blown up by the Taliban in Afghanistan, and Israelis, or travelers with an Israeli customs official stamp on their passports, are barred from entering countries such as Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Kuwait, Libya, Syria, or, in the case of Iran, from flying to Israel.

Later, Abou El Fadl—without naming names as is his usual practice—made the following accusation:

Those who spread the idea that Muslims want to dominate the West and America are lunatics. . . . In America, the Muslim population is about six million, which is close to two percent. It is as if this two percent of Muslims can actually take over America. I mean, you have to be seriously paranoid to think this.

But the facts belie his accusations of paranoia: members of that small percentage of the American population killed approximately 2,992 people on September 11, 2001; bombed the World Trade Center in 1993; opened fire at Fort Hood, killing 13 and wounding 29 on November 5, 2005; shot two soldiers outside a military recruiting center on June 1, 2009; left a car bomb in Times Square, in New York City, on May 1, 2010; and the list goes on.

In addition, the Muslim population in the U.S. is under two million, not the inflated figure of six million—which conveniently matches that of Holocaust victims and outnumbers American Jews—cited by Abou El Fadl, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and others with an interest in manipulating public opinion.

In reality, this tiny sliver of the population poses a very real threat to the security and safety of American citizens. Nonetheless, Abou El Fadl chose to shift the focus and insist that it is Muslims who have something to fear.

During the final 20 minutes of his lecture, Abou El Fadl at last addressed Sharia, discussing the wealth of literature that, as he put it, "like rabbinic literature on the Torah," exists in the Islamic tradition. After explaining the various definitions of Sharia, he concluded that, "the challenge for the modern Muslim is how he or she relates to his religious obligations (taklifs)." He then added:

The challenge for every Muslim thinker must be how they can enter the modern world and contribute something to this modern world from their rich religious tradition. That is the real challenge.

Ironically, Abou El Fadl ended up calling for the same thing as members of what he dubbed the "lunatic right": the need for reform in the Islamic world. Based on Abou El Fadl's Islamist proclivities, however, his version of reform is unlikely to be as far reaching as that emanating from the West or from true moderate Muslims.

Moreover, by focusing our attention on "Islamophobia," the Abou El Fadls of the academic world have successfully hijacked the narrative and made it that much more difficult to achieve reform. Such efforts to redirect, redefine, and rewrite today's debate over the challenges the West has had to confront post 9/11 have become part of the problem, not the solution.


Judith Greblya

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

Progress? Now Even Egypt’s Religious Establishment Hates America

by Barry Rubin

This is the kind of serious development that everyone better pay close attention to if they want to understand what’s going on in the Middle East and how the West doesn’t get it.

The Grand Shaykh of al-Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, gave an interview to al-Jazira. Al-Azhar is the most important religious center in the Sunni Muslim world. Up until now, its leadership has been controlled by the Egyptian government, which meant the government of President Husni Mubarak until earlier this year.

That regime was a dictatorship. It appointed the head of al-Azhar and the mufti of Egypt. It controlled mosque sermons and which preachers went on television. Consequently, it limited their extremism and, knowing their careers were at stake, the clerics complied. They weren’t real moderate but, for example, wouldn’t think of passionately attacking the United States or calling for the abrogation of the peace treaty with Israel.

Now everything is different. The people are the same as those who radicals once derided as Mubarak’s “parrots,” but to survive they must please different masters. The Muslim Brotherhood has publicly announced that it would seek to replace those deemed to be too pro-Mubarak among clerics and especially in al-Azhar. In future, it proposes that the top clerics be appointed by parliament, where they expect to have a very large number of seats.

So instead of pleasing Mubarak, people like Tayyeb have to please the Muslim Brotherhood. In fact, the leadership of al-Azhar just held their first official meeting ever with the Brotherhood in order to make some kind of deal.

Therefore, while it is shocking it isn’t surprising that Tayyeb now sounds like a radical jihadist. Responding to Usama bin Laden’s death, he made the following points:

–The killing of bin Laden by the Americans was an act of “piracy.”

–His burial at sea (supposedly done to please Muslims) was against Islamic law and is a “moral crime,” the “mutilation of a corpse.”

–The main cause of terrorism is Israel’s existence and actions.

–The other big cause of terrorism is that Western countries seek to dominate the Arab world.

Key forces in Egypt no longer consider America as an ally or bin Ladin as an enemy. That’s what the change in Egyptian politics has brought.

Now, consider in contrast a relatively moderate—on such international issues—countries that are still dictatorships like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. A leading Saudi cleric praised the killing of bin Ladin on al-Arabiya, the television network controlled by the United Arab Emirates. The Saudis know that revolutionary Islamism threatens their wealth, power, and lives.

Al-Jazira, praised by American leaders and journalists, hates America. Al-Arabiya, which is ignored by them, is friendlier. What next? The U.S. government calls for the overthrow of al-Arabiya and its replacement by al-Jazira?


Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal.

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

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The New Egypt: A Gateway for Terror?

by Arnold Ahlert

Mubarak’s government had long contended that an open border would strengthen Hamas, designated a terrorist organization by the United States, and undermine Egypt’s security in the process. This is due to Hamas’ relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist political entity which was outlawed under the Mubarak regime, but is now actively seeking to become a major political player in Egypt’s new government.

Under Mubarak, the blockade was not a hard policy. Two days a week, Egypt kept the border open to allow humanitarian supplies to pass into Gaza, and in June 2010, the border was opened completely by order of the former Egyptian president in response to Israel’s stoppage of a six-ship flotilla aimed at breaking the blockade during which nine “peace activists” were killed aboard the Mavi Marmara.

Now, according to Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Elaraby, the border between Egypt and Gaza will be opened permanently within seven to ten days. Elaraby characterized the Mubarak regime’s previous cooperation with Israel as “shameful,” adding that Cairo wants to “relieve the Palestinians of their daily suffering.” Egypt’s Chief of Staff of armed forces, Sami Anan, went further. ”Israel does not have the right to interfere in Egypt’s decision to open the Rafah border. This is an Egyptian-Palestinian issue,” he wrote on his Facebook page.

Israel is obviously troubled. An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, characterized the Jewish State as “very concerned about the situation in northern Sinai where Hamas has succeeded in building a dangerous military machine, despite Egyptian efforts to prevent that,” and further speculating about ”[W]hat power could they amass if Egypt was no longer acting to prevent that build up?” The Israeli official also noted the Egyptian government’s attempts to foster a new relationship with Iran as well. ”We are the voices calling to annul the peace treaty, by the rapprochement between Egypt and Iran, and by the upgrading of relations between Egypt and Hamas. These developments potentially have strategic implications for Israel’s national security.”

Opening the border without any international supervision could be a breach of the 2005 agreement between Israel and Egypt brokered by the United States. That agreement called for the placing of 750 Egyptians to provide security along the so-called “Philadelphi Route.” When Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005, control was transferred to the European Border Assistance Mission Rafah (EUBAM). For the next two years the Rafah crossing was jointly patrolled by the Egyptian and the PLO, with EUBAM insuring compliance in Gaza. When the PLO was ousted from Gaza, Egypt and Israel agreed to close the Rafah crossing. Nabil Shaath, a Palestinian negotiator, told the Wall Street Journal that the “border deal is still in the works,” adding that the five-year-old agreement “would not play a factor… because it is not in operation because of the Israeli intransigence and the Israeli siege.”

Further complicating matters for Israel is the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation deal announced last Wednesday, reportedly brokered by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry and General Intelligence Force. The agreement, hailed by both sides as “historic,” was seen as a prelude to Palestinian intent to seek U.N. recognition of an independent Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders. Under the deal, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would remain in power, but Palestinain Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Ismail Haniya, the prime minister of the Islamist Hamas movement in power in the Gaza Strip, would both resign as a result. “The reunification of the nation [is] needed to enable our people to decide their destiny and to establish an independent state on all territories occupied since 1967, with east Jerusalem as its capital,” said Haniya.

As part of the agreement, Hamas will keep control of Gaza, and be left out of the interim, or “caretaker,” government. ”The people will be independents, technocrats, not affiliated with any factions,” said Abbas. Presidential and legislative elections are scheduled to be held next year, and Egypt will send a security force to Gaza to “help settle and organize the internal security situation there,” an Egyptian security official told Reuters. The new government will not be involved in any negotiations with Israel, with the PLO continuing its current role in any ongoing talks.

Israeli leaders condemned the development. Israel defense minister Ehud Barak called Hamas a “murderous terrorist organization that fires rockets on citizens and recently fired an anti-tank missile at a school bus of students. This is an organization with whom there is nothing to discuss, and therefore we will have no discourse with them.” Israeli foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, told the Army Radio station that “hundreds of terrorists will flood the West Bank and therefore we need to prepare for a different situation.” Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the Palestinian Authority that there “cannot be peace with both [Israel and Hamas] because Hamas wants to destroy Israel and says so openly. It shoots missiles at our cities, it fires anti-tank missiles at our children. I think that the idea of reconciliation shows the weakness of the Palestinian Authority and raises the question whether Hamas will take over Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] as it has taken over the Gaza Strip.”

Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz announced that Israel will suspend a regular payment of 300 million shekels ($78.4 million) in taxes and customs fees to the Palestinian National Authority. ”I think the burden of proof is on the Palestinians, to make it certain, to give us guarantees that money delivered by Israel is not going to the Hamas, is not going to a terrorist organisation, is not going to finance terror operations against Israeli citizens,” he said.

In the United States, White House Chief of Staff William Daley said the Obama administration supports a unity deal as long as “it is on the terms that advance the cause of the peace,” Daley told the American Jewish Committee. “Hamas, however, is a terrorist organization which targets civilians. Any Palestinian government must renounce violence, it must abide by past agreements and it must recognize Israel’s right to exist.” However, he also emphasized the Obama administration’s highly criticized attempt to tie any agreement to Israeli settlements in the West Bank. “For Israel this means stopping settlement growth, ending evictions and demolitions, dismantling outposts and improving access and movement within the West Bank,” he cautioned.

Despite Daley’s remarks, members of Congress were skeptical. Reps. Kay Granger (R-Texas) and Nita Lowey (D-New York), the chairwoman and ranking member, respectively, of the House Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee sent a letter to PLO president Abbas. “Your current courses of action undermine the purposes and threaten the provision of United States assistance and support,” they wrote. “Our ability to support current and future aid would be severely threatened if you abandon direct negotiations with Israel and continue with your current efforts.” A bipartisan group of lawmakers was even more direct. “The Palestinian Authority has chosen an alliance with violence and extremism over the democratic values that Israel represents,” it said last Thursday, further warning that U.S. foreign aid would not continue to go to a government “that included a group on the US list of foreign terrorist organizations.”

Thus, we are seeing one of the first major developments resulting from the so-called “Arab Spring” which has precipitated upheavals across the entire region. Undoubtedly, this latest deal is tied to the aforementioned re-establishment of relations between Egypt and Iran, facilitated by the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, who had long represented the strongest chance to keep Islamist factions in Egypt, including those in Egypt’s military, in check.

Iranian parliament member Qolam Reza Asadollahi outlined a future envisioned by such a development. “Iran and Egypt’s closeness and establishment of a popular government in Saudi Arabia will change equations in the Middle-East and will leave no room for the influence and infiltration of the Zionist regime and the US,” he told reporters on Sunday.

As of now, U.S. aid continues to flow to the PLO, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heide Bronke-Fulton announced last Thursday. Since 1994, total aid to the PLO has averaged $400 million per year, all in the hope of establishing a two-state solution.

A unity government between Hamas and the PLO in combination with an open border from Egypt into Gaza is a blueprint for disaster with regard to Israel’s survival. It is perhaps the most emphatic realization to date of the Obama administration’s naivete with respect to the unintended consequences of its efforts to push Hosni Mubarak out of power. If this is part of the new “roadmap to peace,” perhaps the Obama administration needs to stop and ask for directions.


Arnold Ahlert

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

A Month in the Life of Islam in Europe

by Soeren Kern

The controversial Egyptian Islamic scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi is moving to Norway to help Muslims in the polar regions of the country establish their prayer times. Qaradawi, who has been banned from entering Britain and the United States for his defense of suicide attacks against Jews as "martyrdom in the name of Allah," will work to determine the five daily Muslim prayer times, which are calculated according to the position of the sun.

In the polar regions of Norway and other parts of Scandinavia, the sun shines for twenty-four hours during the summer months and there is permanent darkness during the winter. In recent years, when the Islamic month of Ramadan has coincided with the summer season, Muslims in the northernmost parts of Europe have had to break their fast, eat their pre-dawn meal and pray the evening prayer all within the span of one hour. The Islamic Council of Norway hopes al-Qaradawi can find a solution to this problem in a country where Islam is now the largest minority religion.

Al-Qaradawi's trip to Norway is just one of hundreds of Islam-related news items that made the headlines in Europe last month. A perusal of just a few of these headlines offers insights into how Muslim immigration is transforming the continent, and the different ways in which Europeans are responding to the rise of Islam in their midst.

In Denmark, the President of the International Free Press Society, Lars Hedegaard, was found guilty of racist hate speech for comments he made about Islam. He was ordered to pay a fine of 5,000 Danish Kroner (about $1,000). Hedegaard's legal problems began in December 2009, when he remarked in a taped interview that there was a high incidence of child rape and domestic violence in areas dominated by Muslim culture.

Although Hedegaard has insisted that he did not intend to accuse all Muslims or even the majority of Muslims of such crimes, and although he was previously acquitted by a lower court, Denmark's thought police refused to drop the case until he was found guilty. After the court handed down its verdict, Hedegaard said: "The real losers today are freedom of speech and Muslim women. How can we speak up for them if we risk getting a state sanctioned label of racism?"

Also in Denmark, a new poll shows that a majority (72%) of Danes believe foreigners in Denmark should "predominantly adopt local Danish customs." The poll comes after Danish Integration Minister Søren Pind publicly rejected the idea that Denmark should be a multicultural society. At the same time, it was announced that 100 employees of the Danish Tax Authority would take a course entitled "Operational Culture and Islam" to improve tax collection in Muslim neighborhoods.

In Britain, Islamic extremists intent on imposing Islamic Sharia law in London are threatening non-Muslim women who do not wear headscarves with violence and even death. The so-called "London Taliban" are also targeting homosexuals by plastering public walls with posters stating: "Gay free zone. Verily Allah is severe in punishment."

In one instance, an Asian woman who works in a pharmacy in east London was told to dress more modestly and wear a veil or the shop would be boycotted. When she talked to the media about the abuse she was suffering, a man later entered the pharmacy and told her: "If you keep doing these things, we are going to kill you." The 31-year-old, who is not a practicing Muslim, has since been told to take a holiday by the pharmacy owners, and now fears she may lose her job.

Elsewhere in Britain, an electrician in West Yorkshire may lose his job for displaying a small cross on the dashboard of his van. Colin Atkinson, who has an unblemished work record, is facing a full disciplinary hearing for gross misconduct, which could result in dismissal, for attaching an 8-inch-long cross made from woven palm leaves to the dashboard shelf below his windshield. His employer fears the cross could offend Muslims.

In Sweden, the artistic director for Stockholm's premier cultural venue, Kulturhuset, apologized for hastily cancelling a feminist performance in which women were set to dance to a score that included recitation of verses from the Koran set to music. Eric Sjöström said his decision to cancel part of a two-day performance piece, entitled "Celebration of Womanhood," was taken out of concern for public safety. The event will now go forward in May, but without the parts that recite the Koran.

One of Sjöström's sharpest critics, the musician and former Abba star Björn Ulvaeus, said there is now "an unofficial prohibition against blasphemy" that only applies to Islam, and that Kulturhuset had put religious sensitivities ahead of art, free speech and women's rights.

The Church of Sweden, meanwhile, has sent out a letter to pastors in Sweden advising them to avoid christening Muslim asylum seekers who have converted to Christianity due to the risk of reprisals in the case of repatriation.

In France, the much-debated "burqa ban" entered into force on April 11. The new law prohibits the wearing of Islamic body-covering burqas and face-covering niqabs in all public spaces in France. However, French police have been warned not to arrest any women wearing Muslim veils in or around mosques.

Abu Imran, the leader of a group called Sharia4Belgium, responded to the ban by posting a message on the Internet in which he called on French First Lady Carla Bruni to convert to Islam and wear the niqab. "We are coming to say: Oh Sarkozy, enemy of Allah, dog of the Romans, son of the unbeliever, we are on our way. We are coming to take back what belongs to us, to regain our land and purify it of unbelief and of the unbelievers. We are coming with 'There is no god but Allah.' We are coming because we reject democracy. We do not accept democracy. We accept nothing but the tawhid of Allah. We accept nothing but: 'There is no god but Allah.' We accept nothing but the Sharia of Allah."

Meanwhile, French Interior Minister Claude Guéant faces a lawsuit for saying that the growing population of Muslims in the country "poses problems." Muslim immigrants have accused Guéant of Islamophobia for saying that "the question [of Muslim immigration] worries our citizens: there are many who think the rules of secularism are being stretched." Muslim groups reacted to Guéant's comments by distributing five-pointed green stars to Muslims in districts of Paris in an effort to equate themselves with the persecution suffered by the Jews in the Holocaust.

Also in France, researchers have found that use of anonymous CVs without personal information like name, address and age does not reduce discrimination in recruitment. Researchers say that people of foreign origin and those who live in underprivileged areas are less likely to be invited to an interview if their CV contains no name or address.

Elsewhere in France, a man in Strasbourg went on trial for burning and urinating on a Koran. The prosecutor asked for three months' suspended sentence and a fine of €1,000 ($1,500) for incitement to racial and religious hatred. According to an official at the Strasbourg Mosque, "He told me 'We are in France and we can burn a book on Winnie the Pooh, in the same way we can burn the Koran.' He was totally coherent and he didn't seem to realize the impact of his acts."

At the same time, a 21-year-old Jewish man was seriously wounded in an anti-Semitic attack by two North African youths in the town of Villeurbanne, in southern France.

During a summit in Rome on April 26, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi sought to ease tensions over North African immigration by calling for the reimposition of passport controls for travel within the European Union. So far this year, approximately 25,000 North African immigrations have arrived in southern Italy on overloaded fishing boats. Once inside the European Union, migrants can move freely around 25 European countries.

In Switzerland, three Hindus, who announced their intention to burn the Koran and the Bible on Bern's Parliament Square last November, were acquitted by a Swiss court. The judge ruled that the men could not be prosecuted for simply announcing their intention to burn the religious texts. However, the three were asked to pay half of the court costs, on the grounds that they had overstepped the boundaries of personal freedom and injured the religious feelings of others.

In Germany, police arrested three alleged members of al Qaida on suspicion that they were plotting attacks in Germany. Local media reported that the three were Moroccans living in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, and were caught with "large amounts of explosives." Citing security sources, the newspaper said the suspects were targeting the Eurovision Song Contest, which will be held in Düsseldorf on May 14.

Meanwhile, the trial of eight people accused of spreading Islamist propaganda over the Internet opened in Munich on April 12. Prosecutors say the defendants used Internet forums and blogs to call for a holy war.

In response, German Education Minister Annette Schavan says she wants to promote "European Islam" by having Muslim clerics teach courses on Islam in public schools. The German government is also financing the creation of four new institutes devoted to Islamic theology. They will be located at the universities of Tübingen, Erlangen, Osnabrück, Münster and Frankfurt.

In Finland, the nationalist True Finns Party won more votes than the governing party in parliamentary elections on April 17. The party has drawn Finland's political map with a platform of opposition to multiculturalism and Muslim immigration.

Meanwhile, the Finnish Ministry of the Interior has launched a new Internet site focused on immigration. The politically correct objective is to "give a boost to factual and serious debate and information on the issue," and "to get away from an 'us and them' position as well as from preaching and guilt attitudes." Of course, the site does not have a discussion forum.

In Belgium, the Chamber of Deputies -- the lower house of parliament -- approved a bill that would ban all clothing that covers or partially covers the face. It would prohibit Muslim women from wearing burqas and niqabs in all public spaces in Belgium. The bill was passed by a vote of 136-1 and two abstentions. If approved by the Senate, Belgium would become the second European country after France to put such a law into practice. Violators of the law would be subject to a fine of up to €25 ($35) and/or imprisonment for up to seven days.

Also in Belgium, the Turkish Embassy in Brussels has condemned the anti-immigrant Vlams Belang party for using posters depicting Turkish and Moroccan immigrants as sheep being kicked out of Europe. The Turkish Ambassador to Belgium said the poster was racist and "thus constitutes a crime under Belgian law." Speaking at a conference on April 10, Vlaams Belang leader Bruno Valkeniers said that Flemish cities have begun to look like Moroccan cities, with mosques mushrooming over the region. He also proposed the establishment of an anti-immigration network bringing together other like-minded parties across Europe.

In the Nethrlands, Queen Beatrix said in a speech that "in our country we make every effort to promote tolerance." Of course, that tolerance does not extend to Dutch lawmaker M.P. Geert Wilders, whose anti-Islam hate-speech trial resumed in Amsterdam on April 13. His trial was halted in October 2010 after it emerged that one of the judges attempted to influence an expert witness before the trial. Even though the public prosecutor says there is not enough evidence to indict Wilders, politically activist judges now insist that the trial must proceed.

Wilders is facing five charges of inciting racial and religious hatred for remarks which include equating Islam with fascism, and other remarks calling for a ban on the Koran and a tax on Muslim headscarves. Viewed more broadly, however, the Wilders trial represents a landmark case that likely will establish the limits of free speech in a country where the politically correct elite routinely seek to silence public discussion about the escalating problem of Muslim immigration.

Wilders has articulated what is at stake in this case: "I am being prosecuted for my political convictions. The freedom of speech is on the verge of collapsing. If a politician is not allowed to criticize an ideology anymore, this means that we are lost, and it will lead to the end of our freedom."


Soeren Kern

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

Time For Conservatives to Put Aside Documents and Focus on Obama's Performance in Office

by Steve McCann

Many conservatives are playing into the hands of the Obama re-election machine, falling for the trap of making themselves easily mocked by a sycophantic mainstream media attempting to turn Obama into a victim.

The President cannot defend his record, and in order to win re-election he must rely on the extraneous factors of sympathy, guilt, and cultural status combined with the inherent power of the White House to dominate and skew the news to his benefit.

The re-election crusade of Barack Obama is in full campaign mode (his every action and utterance should be regarded the same as any activity two months prior to an election). The basic strategy: a relentless effort to browbeat and overwhelm any potential competition by appearing invincible and marginalizing the opposition through the media as the Obama machine anticipates that any challenger will have a limited ability to respond or gain traction in today's celebrity driven cultural environment.

A major aspect of the marginalization will be to portray the President as a victim of racism and right-wing paranoia. They will do this by forcing any prospective Republican candidates to constantly defend themselves against those charges, as the Democrats and the media will portray all conservatives as racist loons thus diverting attention from Obama's overwhelming failures.

Therefore the conservatives must understand this strategy and not allow themselves to be easily manipulated. Emotion should have no place in the upcoming campaign. In order to make these tactics moot it is time to put the issue of Obama's birth certificate, college grades, and all manner of personal questions on the sidelines and concentrate on making certain he is defeated based on his record.

That is not to say that there may indeed be some validity to these issues; but they cannot be proven with absolute certitude between now and the fall of 2012. Placing any attention on these matters will not succeed in helping defeat Obama as long as the mainstream media is a wholly owned subsidiary of liberal deep-pocket benefactors and the Democratic Party with their access to taxpayer money.

Donald Trump has forced the Obama team to release the birth certificate long before it would have been politically useful to do so during the last months of the campaign. It is now time to focus on the fact that the United States under Obama's watch has gone to hell in a hand basket and the nation cannot run the risk of his re-election if the country is to survive as we know it.

President Obama's schizophrenic foreign policy has greatly diminished the stature and security of the United States and ObamaCare will destroy the best healthcare system in the world. However just the failure of his economic policies alone since the inauguration on January 20, 2009 would be enough to defeat any other president in the country's recent history. Not since the Great Depression has the nation experienced such devastation in the first two-plus years of a president's term.

What makes this failure all the more remarkable was that the country had entered into a recession nearly 12 months before the inauguration, and as the historical record (since 1945) indicates the average length of a recession had been 9.8 months; therefore the economy should have been poised to begin a significant expansion. However, thanks to Obama, the opposite has happened and according to the vast majority of economists there will be no measurable improvement before November 2012 and the probability that matters will get worse rises by the day.

The economic reality of the Obama years is as follows:

Employment: As of January 2009 there were 142.0 million American employed out of a total civilian noninstitutional population of 234.0 million or a percentage of 60.7%. Today out of a total civilian noninstitutional population of 239 million, just 139.8 million are employed or 58.5%. Just to get back to the level of employment on inauguration day (which was near the worst point of the recession) 3 million jobs should have been created.

Government Spending and Debt: As of January 2009 the total national debt was $10.6 Trillion; as of today it is $14.3 Trillion, a phenomenal increase of $3.7 Trillion (or the total debt of the United States from 1789 to 1988). By the end of the Obama term it is estimated that the debt will have increased by $5.4 Trillion (an average of nearly $1,350 Billion per year as compared to the average of $319 Billion per year from 1988 through 2008). The United States is now faced with the very real possibility of losing of its AAA credit rating.

Economic Growth: As of January 1, 2009 the nation's Gross Domestic Product on a per capita basis stood at $48,300.00 as of January 1, 2011 it was $47,400.00 a drop of 1.9%. On the other hand America's two major trade competitors, also buffeted by the worldwide financial crisis of 2008, experienced the following: China, an increase of 19.4% and Germany, an increase of 2.0%.

Standard of Living: Nothing erodes the standard of living for the average citizen more than inflation and the loss of personal wealth. One of the major expenditure for the majority of households is food and energy. The massive deficits accumulated by this administration combined with the reactive monetary policy of the Federal Reserve has resulted in the Commodity Price Index rising from 102.0 on January 20, 2009 to 198.95 today (an increase of 95%).

The most important element in the wealth of Americans is the value of their homes. Since January 1, 2009 the median price of existing homes in the United States has declined a further 9.3% after a drop of 15.3% between 2007 and 2008 and the collapse of the housing bubble.

Erosion of the Dollar: As a result of the Obama policies the dollar has experienced one of its greatest deteriorations in history over a 27 month period. Since inauguration day 2009, the US Dollar has dropped: 40% against the Australian Dollar; 27% versus the Swiss Franc; 26% against the Canadian Dollar, and 11% versus the Japanese Yen (despite the devastation of the recent earthquake). There is open and active discussion of replacing the Dollar as the world's reserve currency which would be a ruinous blow to the American standard of living and position of global economic dominance.

Concurrent with this precipitous drop; the price of silver has increased 326% and gold by 86% since January 2009.

The mood of the nation: On January 20, 2009 after four years of the media vilifying George Bush and the financial crisis of October 2008, the Rasmussen polling data on the direction of the country showed 62% of likely voters stating that the country was on the wrong track. Today that same poll shows 72% believe the country is on the wrong track. Despite the much ballyhooed selling of "hope and change" the best number Obama has achieved in that polling data is 55% thinking the country is on the wrong track (May of 2009).

It is difficult to comprehend that a president having left such wreckage in his wake could be re-elected if he had truly aggressive and tenacious opposition who would never allow the American people to be distracted from the facts.

The president cannot avoid responsibility for the devastation he has created unless it is made easier for him to do so by the other side expending time and energy on personal issues that will enable his campaign to claim victimhood status and enable him to pummel his potential opponent in a cultural and media setting that works to his advantage.

So while it may not be popular to say within some conservative circles, the time has come to put the obsession with birth certificates, college transcripts, Social Security numbers, and other extraneous issues away for another day and focus that same determination and energy on evicting the most philosophically radical and dangerous person to ever occupy the office of President utilizing on the best available weapon: his record.

Conservatives cannot acquiesce to the inevitable left-wing calls for civility. They must be unafraid to relentlessly tell the narrative of how this President has potentially destroyed the future of the country. Barack Obama and his allies know he can only win re-election if the campaign is conducted on their terms; do not accommodate them.


Steve McCann

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

Playing Politics with Islamic Terrorism

by Jack Kerwick

If ever we needed proof that politics is a land of make believe, the recent killing of Osama bin Laden is it.

The world is certainly a better place without this terrorist in it. But to judge from the orgasmic eruptions of everyone from journalists and pundits to politicians and students, an impartial spectator could be forgiven for thinking that the reign of Islamic terror or jihad had finally been brought to a close.

In truth, the reign of Al Qaeda hasn't even been ended. In fact, this terrorist organization just received new life from the martyrdom of the one man whose face has come to symbolize for untold numbers of Muslims unwavering resistance to the Infidel. It is critical to remember this.

Had George W. Bush still been president when the events that his administration set in motion reached their culmination this past weekend, Democrats would be among the first people to remind us of this. After all, it was the Democrats who, during the better part of the last decade, tirelessly cautioned Bush against supplying Al Qaeda with a recruitment tool via his aggressive foreign policy. That they now fail to recognize that the killing of bin Laden promises to be a much greater incentive than anything that Bush had done shows that their warnings were insincerely motivated.

They were, in a word, playing politics.

If the Democrats weren't playing politics, then they would also be lamenting the unapologetic displays of American chauvinism that chanting crowds of students and others have arranged on college campuses and other locations -- including out front of the White House. For sure, bin Laden's death is something from which to derive satisfaction, but chanting "USA!" in response to it can't but strike Muslims similarly to the way that the chanting crowds of Muslims who rejoiced over the collapse of the World Trade Center struck us.

But Democrats not only refrain from criticizing these "arrogant Americans"; they have essentially chimed in right along with them.

If Democrats weren't just playing politics with Bush's prosecution of "the War on Terror," then rather than sing hosannas to President Obama, they would now be talking about bringing him up on criminal charges. The killing of bin Laden, for as richly deserved as it undeniably was, was nothing more or less than an assassination. Furthermore, it was an assassination that ensued upon the invasion of a sovereign nation. That this is so is borne out by the Pakistani government's claim that it was not informed of this American "kill mission" before it transpired.

If Democrats weren't just playing politics during the Bush years, then they would now draw our attention to the fact that President Obama deserves no more, and arguably significantly less, credit for finding bin Laden than his predecessor, for the trail that lead to bin Laden was pieced together over a period of at least five years, long before Obama was elected to the presidency. And if Democrats weren't just playing politics, they would as well acknowledge that the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, as well as the "enhanced interrogation techniques" that were there applied and that they so blatantly deplored, proved indispensable to assembling that trail.

If Democrats weren't playing politics against Bush, they would now warn us against confusing symbol for substance. The real "mastermind" behind 9/11, Khalid Sheik Muhammad, has been in our custody for years -- i.e. long before the Obama administration was so much as a thought; bin Laden was for the most part a figurehead.

Some friends of mine, along with many others no doubt, fear that this most recent episode will guarantee President Obama's reelection. Equally doubtless is that Democrats plan on exploiting this episode toward just that end. However, neither the nightmares of Republicans nor the dreams of Democrats are likely to materialize because of the killing of bin Laden.

Obama may very well get re-elected or he may very well not; but with November of 2012 a year-and-a-half off, and with everything else that composes Obama's track record, it would be as foolish to place all of one's eggs in the bin Laden basket as it is foolish to think that the killing of bin Laden went any distance in harming Al Qaeda, much less Islamic jihadists the world over.


Jack Kerwick, Ph.D. blogs at Contact him at

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Homeland Security Hearing Casts Doubts on U.S. Relations with Pakistan

by Abha Shankar

Despite concerns about Pakistani officials' knowledge of Osama bin Laden's long-term presence in the military city of Abbottabad, it would be rash and reckless to break off aid or relations with Pakistan, witnesses and members of a House subcommittee agreed Tuesday.

Rather, the United States needs to find a way to get Pakistan to go back to being the important ally it was following 9/11, when it helped track down and arrest a series of al-Qaida leaders.

"Pakistan has provided enormous assistance in the last decade in the fight against al-Qaida, including critical intelligence and military operations," Counterterrorism and Intelligence Subcommittee Chairman Patrick Meehan, R-Penn., said in his opening remarks Tuesday afternoon.

"Their efforts should be commended and the United States must continue to foster the U.S.-Pakistani relationship. We must make the relationship work," he added.

The hearing was scheduled long before Navy SEALs stormed bin Laden's walled-off estate and shot him dead Sunday. Its original focus was on emerging terror threats from Pakistan, but the reliability of the country's military and civilian government as partners against terror became a natural focus of the session.

In an addition to al-Qaida leaders, Pakistan is home to extremist groups such as the Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP) and Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT), noted Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif. Those groups have "embraced the ideological cancer of al-Qaida" and have waged jihadi attacks against U.S. interests in South Asia.

Both also have ties to Pakistani intelligence.

Fredrick Kagan, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, called the LeT an "incredibly dangerous organization" that U.S. policy analysts have "tended to underestimate." The LeT is not just a "Kashmiri separatist movement" as commonly believed, but an "Islamist movement" with global ambitions.

LeT, which was responsible for the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks, threatens U.S. interests at home and abroad by acting as a "training provider" to militants from other outfits, said Stephen Tankel, visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He called the LeT a "gateway organization" for aspiring western terrorists seeking access to militant groups in Pakistan. The LeT also helps in the "recruitment and facilitation for terrorist attacks" by other extremist groups.

"Bin Laden's death may create space for LeT to play a larger role," Tankel said.

But an all-out crackdown on the LeT infrastructure may trigger "a major backlash that could destabilize Pakistan," he cautioned.

In addition, an American decision to cut off foreign aid to Pakistan in the wake of the bin Laden killing could prove counterproductive. "In general," Tankel said, "things don't go well for us when we simply decide to treat Pakistan as an enemy."

He suggested greater American counterterrorism cooperation with India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Maldives, and Sri Lanka to dismantle LeT infrastructure in "Pakistan's near abroad." The U.S. also should "focus on building up Pakistan's counterterrorism capacity via civilian law enforcement and civilian intelligence agencies."

The TTP, meanwhile, is believed to have provided training to attempted Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad, Kagan said.

In an interview Monday, TTP spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan threatened the United States and Pakistan with retaliatory action for killing bin Laden. "We will attack both the US and Pakistan. But if we could avenge it, Pakistan will be better for us as that is the real traitor," he said.

"Whatever wrong was and is being done to Islam and Mujahideen is done by Pakistan. They handed over Mujahideen to US, they sold them to [the] US, and if these reports are true, they also martyred Osama," Ihsan said.

The fact that elements within the Pakistani establishment also had ties to the Haqqani network and the LeT was "unacceptable to the U.S.," said Rand Corp. political scientist Seth G. Jones.

The Haqqani network, a terrorist group tied to the Taliban that operates out of the North Waziristan, the lawless belt between Pakistan and Afghanistan, has led several attacks against U.S.-led NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Jones called on the United States and Pakistan to act quickly to counter the terrorist threat from the area. "Based on threats emanating from the region we do not have much time," he said.

There is "no simple solution to the problems we face in Pakistan," Kagan said. The country has the "densest concentration of the most dangerous Islamist organizations" that have been "allowed to run freely."

Committee members repeatedly pointed to the bin Laden raid as evidence Pakistan is not living up to its commitments to the United States. Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King, R-N.Y., noted how close bin Laden's compound was to a military academy and the headquarters for the Pakistani intelligence services.

"There are two possibilities and one answer," about Pakistan's knowledge, King said. "One is that it was a direct facilitation by elements of the Pakistani government, or Pakistani intelligence is totally inept, and that has not proven to be the case over the years."

Speier questioned U.S. assistance to Pakistan. "With all the money we have spent we have not gotten the trust from the Pakistan government," she said. Despite billions of dollars given in aid to Pakistan, Osama bin Laden lived undetected in the garrison city of Abbottabad for six years.

But, like Tankel, Kagan said the United States cannot afford to close the door on Pakistan. "We stand at a very important precipice in American policy right now … It is essential to communicate our frustration with Pakistan but that we are not leaving, whatever leaving means."

The country has used terrorist groups like LeT to wage proxy wars in Afghanistan and against rival India. That strategy is backfiring on Pakistan's security interests, Kagan said. Pakistan's rulers need to see that and come to a consensus that "all militant Islamists pose a threat to Pakistan's survival."

By the same token, U.S. officials should not view bin Laden's death as an opportunity to strike a deal with the Afghan Taliban and start a rapid drawdown of U.S. forces there.

"One negotiates best in a moment of strength and we have not reached that," he said. Also, the Taliban continues to be pose a robust challenge and "has not reached a moment of weakness."

Shuja Nawaz, director of the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council of the United States, urged America to focus on economic development in Pakistan, where a third of its 180 million residents are young and poorly educated, as a way to minimize the appeal of terrorist groups.

In addition, the United States should continue to try to help ease tensions between India and Pakistan. "A stable and secure Pakistan can help create a stable South Asia and a safer United States," and more robust trade and economic ties between the nuclear-armed neighbors could help "reduce the need for unproductive military spending," Nawaz said.

To read the written testimonies of witnesses, click here. The PBS program "Frontline" examines Pakistani support for insurgents and terrorists in a new episode that can be seen here.


Abha Shankar

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

Who Oversees Foreign Aid to the Palestinians?

by Alexander Joffe

In Palestinian economics, where all the money goes is unclear -- but where does all the money come from? Which U.S. programs give how much and who has legislative oversight? Now that Palestinian Authority (PA) prime minister Salaam Fayyad has announced a plan for September for unilateral Palestinian statehood, which includes a request for $5 billion over three years -- and presumes that the newly announced Fatah-Hamas rapprochement does not scuttle all American aid -- the problem of oversight is all the more pressing.

The fundamental tension between Congress's power of the purse and the president's obligation to make foreign policy has always been clear. But so too is the extent to which certifications and waivers by the Executive blatantly circumvent the express will of Congress and defy its obligations to advise and obtain consent.

The will of Congress and the empirical reality regarding the difficulties of the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian society count for little when successive U.S. presidents waive requirements and certify compliance regardless of Palestinian performance. And presidential ability to "reprogram" funds removes Congress even farther from the equation.

A recent Congressional Research Service study notes that since 2007 the U.S. has contributed $650 million to the Palestinian Authority for "direct budgetary assistance" and almost $400 million for "security forces and criminal justice systems" in the West Bank. Almost another $1 billion was directed through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to be "implemented by nongovernmental organizations in humanitarian assistance, economic development, democratic reform, improving water access and other infrastructure, health care, education, and vocational training." Finally, the U.S. is the largest single contributor to UNRWA and having provided over $230 million in 2010.

USAID is an independent agency whose appropriations requests are made by the Department of State and submitted to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and House Committee on Foreign Affairs have oversight responsibility. The Senate exercises relevant oversight through two subcommittees called "International Development and Foreign Assistance, Economic Affairs, and International Environmental Protection," and "Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs." The House exercises oversight through the full committee and various subcommittees on "Oversight and Investigations," "Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights," Middle East and South Asia," and "Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade."

Economic Support Funds provided by USAID can not go directly to the Palestinian Authority without a waiver to the Appropriations Committee from the U.S. president saying that it is in the interest of U.S. national security to provide them, and and a certification from the Secretary of State regarding the PA's treasury, payroll and civil service – all according to section 2106 of chapter 2 of title II of Public Law 109-13, a 2005 emergency supplemental defense and relief bill (and Public Law 108-199 of 2004 before it).

Public Law 109-13, for example, requires, among other things, that the President certify that Palestinian security services have purged their ranks of terrorists, that the Palestinian Authority stop incitement against Israel, and that it cooperate with the US. in investigations of Yassir Arafat's finances. These waivers have been provided annually despite the fact that Palestinian incitement continues, Palestinian security forces are still laden with terrorists, and Yassir Arafat's money is still missing.

Another $100 million for Palestinian security aid and institution building is allocated through a program called International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement. This is a Foreign Military Assistance program but it is also directed by the Department of State under Section 1206(f) of the 2006 National Defense Authorization Act.

Much of the International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement funding for the Palestinian Authority had been "reprogrammed" by President George W. Bush, using a Presidential Determination under Chapter 8 of Part I (Section 481) of the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act which states "Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the President is authorized to furnish assistance to any country or international organization, on such terms and conditions as he may determine, for the control of narcotic and psychotropic drugs and other controlled substances, or for other anticrime purposes."

Other presidential wavers provided additional money from the Economic Support Fund account to the Palestinian Authority. These were done under the authority of the Foreign Assistance Act which states "None of the funds made available by this Act may be obligated under an appropriation account to which they were not appropriated, except for transfers specifically provided for in this Act, unless the President, prior to the exercise of any authority contained in the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to transfer funds, consults with and provides a written policy justification to the Committees on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Senate."

In fact, the legislative system of appropriations and oversight matters very little when it comes to U.S. aid to the Palestinians: the system of foreign aid permits the president to independently "certify" or "waive" requirements introduced by Congress. It demonstrates the extent to which U.S. aid to the Palestinians is an instrument of Executive policy rather than an altruistic enterprise authorized by the Legislative branch. Of course, such methods are not unique to the Palestinian case. Congress permits presidential waivers on everything from Azerbaijan's blockage of Nagorno-Karabagh to the use of child soldiers by Chad, Congo, Sudan and Yemen.

But the extent to which foreign aid to the Palestinians is a political tool of the Executive may be in a class by itself: Western and Palestinian supporters of continued aid routinely offer at least two scenarios that would unfold should aid be withdrawn or reduced: "radicalization" and "humanitarian crises." In effect the Executive branch is blackmailed.

Legislation proposed in Congress to limit or condition funds to the Palestinian Authority or UNRWA are largely meaningless in this light. The "UNRWA Humanitarian Accountability Act," for example, offered by Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in 2010, demanded that UNRWA not be used by or support Palestinian terrorists. But like the appropriations bills described above, it offers the Executive branch an out by requiring only "a written determination by the Secretary of State, based on all information available after diligent inquiry, and transmitted to the appropriate congressional committees along with a detailed description of the factual basis therefore." Such a statement is a foregone conclusion. The mechanisms for Congress to review results independently, hearings, reports from Congressional staff, the Congressional Research Service, and the Government Accountability Office, have no weight except in the politics of the next appropriations cycle.

Aid the Palestinians is a microcosm of the larger question of how U.S. foreign aid works. Now that Hamas will evidently join Fatah in a Palestinian Authority poised to declare statehood and request vast additional support, creating genuine Congressional oversight -- with teeth -- should be addressed once again.


Alexander Joffe

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

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