Friday, October 21, 2011

Wash. Post Legitimizes Hamas Rule in Gaza -- no Terrorists There

by Leo Rennert

The Washington Post, in its Oct. 20 edition, runs an article by correspondent Ernesto Londono about Hamas pressing for an end to Israel's blockade of Gaza after its success in gaining the freedom of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit ("Amid celebrations, Hamas hopes for lifting of Gaza bloackade," page A8/

Londono's article goes to great lengths to erase any tinge of terrorism from Hamas's identity and record. It distorts recent history by making it appear that Hamas seized control of Gaza by legitimate, democratic means. And it provides a false rationale for Israel's 22-day counter-terrorism offensive in Gaza at the end of 2008, completely ignoring the thousands of rockets and mortar shells fired from Gaza at civilian populations in southern Israel.

Here's how Londono transmutes Hamas from a terrorist subsidiary of Iran into a scrubbed-clean political outfit:

Londono begins by telling Post readers that Hamas is merely a "militant" group that "assumed power in Gaza in 2007, following its victory in parliamentary elections in 2007." No mention that Hamas is designated by the United States and the European Union as a terrorist organization committed to the total destruction of Israel. No mention that, far from having assumed power in Gaza because of its electoral victory, Hamas dislodged Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party from Gaza by launching a brutal civil war, killing, injuring and torturing many Fatah members and throwing some of them to their deaths from rooftops.

Having cleansed Hamas from any terrorism taint and justified its assumption of power in Gaza, Londono then writes that Israel's 22-day Gaza war was intended "to make it harder for Hamas to stockpile long-range rockets and build bunkers." Wrong again. Israel's 22-day military incursion into Gaza wasn't just aimed at halting Hamas's stockpiling of rockets and building bunkers. Its real objective was to halt the firing of thousands of rockets against Sderot and other Israeli communities. Londono makes absolutely no mention of the incessant rocket barrages that terrorized hundreds of thousands of Israelis. This is why Israel's military entered Gaza. While Operation Cast Lead didn't entirely halt cross-border rocket and mortar attacks, it greatly reduced this threat. Londono needs a quick remedial course in recent history.

Completing his fanciful account of Israel's actions vis a vis Hamas, Londono tells Post readers that Isrel's blockade of Gaza "was widely seen as a punitive measure driven in large part by the outrage that Shalit's abduction in 2006 generated in Israel." Wrong again. The main reason for the blockade was and remains Israel's way of isolating a deadly enemy who not only has been warring against the Jewish state with lethal rocket barrages but also was and is posing a strategic threat by amassing an arsenal of tens of thousands of missiles. Shalit's abduction was a minor reason for the blockade -- at most.

And thus, do Londono and the Washington Post manage to turn history upside down so that Israel emerges as a blockading villain, while Hamas is painted as pure as the driven snow.

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers


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

The Closing of the Muslim Mind

by Raymond Ibrahim

Last week, “Saudi Arabia’s religious police arrested an Indonesian housemaid for casting a magic spell on a local family and ‘turning its life upside down.’” The maid “confessed” to using sorcery, and “commission experts took the magic items to their office and managed to dismantle and stop the spell.”

Far from being absurd aberrations to be dismissed, such accounts, which are becoming better known thanks to the Internet, are stark reminders of the incompatibility between the Western and Muslim worldviews, or, more to the point, the difficulty Western peoples have transcending their own paradigms and understanding the Muslim worldview in its own right—above and beyond the issue of sorcery.

In his 2010 book, The Closing of the Muslim Mind, Robert Reilly, a senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council, helps explain the Muslim worldview by thoroughly documenting the historic and doctrinal roots behind it; by refreshingly bypassing the overly dramatized question of “what went wrong,” he explains the more pressing “why it went wrong.”

The book is a reminder of the importance of epistemology: before understanding Muslim acts, one must understand the Muslim mind that initiates them. We discover that Shakespeare’s dictum “Nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so,” in Islam becomes “nothing good or evil but Allah says so.”

The author sheds light on the struggles of the different schools of Islam, showing how by the 10th century, the fatalistic, deterministic schools triumphed, delivering the death blow, not only to the notion of free will, but natural law as well: “a theological deformation … produced a dysfunctional culture.” From here one can understand the full impact of the popular assertion “the doors of ijtihad [intellectualizing] closed in the 10th century.”

Reilly chronicles how the giants of Muslim philosophy, such as Ghazali and Ashari, concluded that knowledge was unknowable, that moral truths can only be ascertained through revelation. Accordingly, all knowledge—the very bounds of reality—came to be limited to the words of the Quran and its pronouncer, Islam’s prophet Muhammad.

The ramifications of such intellectual calcification are immense: “All acts are in themselves morally neutral”; “Allah does not command certain behavior because it is good; it is good because he commands it. Likewise, he does not forbid murder because it is bad; it is bad because he forbids it.”

Equivocations, such as the following by Ashari, become commonplace: “Lying is evil only because Allah has declared it to be evil…. And if he declared it to be good it would be good; and if he commanded it, no one could gainsay him.” Of course and as Ashari knew, the Islamic deity and his prophet are on record permitting and even encouraging Muslims to deceive.

Similarly, the spirit of inquiry perishes: “the only thing worth knowing is whether a specific action is, according to Shari ‘a: obligatory, recommended, permitted, discouraged, or forbidden. The rest is irrelevant.” It is precisely for this reason that in Islam, the law—what is right or wrong, how one should live—trumps “theology,” the latter designated as kalam, that is, mere “words.” This is also why in the last millennium Spain alone has produced more books than the Arab world in its entirety.

Likewise in the realm of science: Reilly cites a Pakistani physicist—not an uneducated, impoverished “radical”—saying it is un-Islamic to believe that combining hydrogen and water makes water; rather, Muslims are “supposed to say that when you bring hydrogen and oxygen together then by the will of Allah [which need not always be consistent] water was created.”

The Closing of the Muslim Mind explains the singularity of Muslim epistemology and its antithesis to Western sensibilities: it explains why a maid is arrested and charged with sorcery and the dread of bewitched animals; explains why adult “breastfeeding” and habitual lying pose no moral problems; explains why top Muslim clerics insist the world is flat and ingesting the feces and urine of Muhammad is salutary; explains why jihadists believe their terror is pious and a libidinous paradise awaits them.

All these “alternate” ways of thinking make sense when one accepts that, in the purely Muslim mind, intuitive reasoning, the human conscience, and even common sense take a backseat to the literal words of Allah and his prophet, seen as the founts of all truth and reality—or, inevitably from a non-Muslim perspective, the words of a deluded or deceiving 7th century Arab.

Raymond Ibrahim


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

Suspected Texas Terror Plot a ‘Prank’?

by Ryan Mauro

At around 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday, October 19, five foreign Muslims were arrested at a historic courthouse in San Antonio. They were found with pictures of “infrastructure” around the country including malls, government buildings and water systems. After the media reported on the bomb scare, officials reacted quickly to downplay a possible link to terrorism and the media followed suit. Now, the group of five is being depicted as a harmless group of pranksters.

Law enforcement arrived at the Bexar County Courthouse after an alarm went off. The police found that two individuals had entered the 120-year-old facility through a fire escape, while three others were inside a rented RV in front of the building. The five suspects are French-Moroccans, all in their early 20s. Their names are being withheld. The group’s photographs showed they had traveled around the country, snapping photos of sites including shopping malls and public buildings, as well as water systems, which are not exactly a typical tourist attraction.

The group had legal 90-day visas and told the authorities they arrived in New York on September 11 from London. At least three of the suspects are on an FBI watch list. The four that arrived in New York then went to New Jersey and rented an RV. They then met with the other that flew into Miami. The RV had plates from California at the time of the incident.

Another fact that is being treated as a coincidence is that the GEOINT Symposium, the “nation’s largest intelligence event of the year,” was behind held only blocks away. Dozens of intelligence officials, including the chief of the U.S. Strategic Command and undersecretary of defense for intelligence, attend and speak.

The suspects’ explanation for their illegal entry into the Bexar County Courthouse is that they wanted “to get a better view of the city”—at 1:30 in the morning. Deputy Chief Dale Bennett confirmed that they had beer bottles in their possession and two of the men acted intoxicated. He also confirmed that three of the men’s names showed up on the watch list and that their names are uncommon, making it unlikely that all three are cases of mistaken identities.

They were interviewed by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security. Bexar County Sheriff’s Deputy Louis Antu tried to calm the media storm about the suspects being terrorists, saying, “We don’t have any indication that’s what they were.” The five are being prosecuted on charges of burglary.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said they appeared to “just be some guys on a prank.” The surveillance video from inside the courthouse showed them wearing sombreros and dancing with a judge’s gavel. Laura Jesse, spokeswoman for Bexar County, brushed off the possibility of a terrorism connection in remarks to the media.

“It’s pretty entertaining at least,” she said. “Usually when you think of someone trying to commit a terrorist attack it’s not with a sombrero and waving a gavel.”

“There was some alcohol involved, so that leads us to believe they might not have known what they were doing, what building they were breaking into,” said Deputy Chief Dale Bennett.

The videotape does provide reason to believe that the five Moroccans were just a bunch of drunken misfits, but the disturbing coincidences should not be dismissed. The media’s quick changing of its coverage to calm public nerves was not warranted. At the least, the facts pointing towards more insidious motives should be a part of the story.

When Robert Spencer of was on the KSAT website reading about the story, he noticed that its content changed. The shocking headline changed to, “5 Arrested in Break-in at Bexar County Courthouse.” The lead changed from saying, “Three men described by law enforcement officials as Muslims” to “Five men of foreign descent.” Readers were left ignorant of why the story was important and even of the fact that the five arrested were Muslims.

The Associated Press, likewise, said they were “five foreign nationals with French visas” that were “later described as harmless bar hoppers just goofing around.” No explanation was given as to why the FBI initially handled it as a “high priority” situation. Instead, the article’s readers were left with the impression that the authorities had an almost comical overreaction.

It may be true that the group of five French-Moroccans, three of whom have names on the FBI’s watch list, are not connected to terrorism and just made a very big mistake. However, there is more than enough reason to suspect that this isn’t the case, and the media and government officials have a duty to recognize that. There may be a bigger story here, but in part due to political correctness, it will fade away and be forgotten.

As Robert Spencer wrote, “the Hamas-linked CAIR [Council on American-Islamic Relations] will be so pleased.”

Ryan Mauro


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

The United Nations: Accessory to Slavery and other Crimes Against Humanity

by Simon Deng

Like you, I came to this conference, The Perils of Global Intolerance to protest this third Durban conference which is an effort based on a set of lies, and organized by nations who are themselves are guilty of the worst kinds of oppression.

Durban III will not help the victims of racism. It will only isolate and target the Jewish state. It is a tool of the enemies of Israel. The UN has lost its way. Its obsession with the Jewish obvious: . For over 50 years, 82% of the UN General Assembly emergency meetings have been about condemning one state - Israel. Hitler could not have been made happier.

Given all the good Israel does in the world, given its democracy and its striving to follow the highest standards of human rights, even in the face of the most brutal, the most fanatic enemies, the Durban Conference is an outrage. All decent people know that.

But friends, I come here today to make a different case. I come with what you might at first think is a radical proposition: I come to tell you that there are peoples who suffer from the UN's anti-Israelism even more than the Israelis. I belong to one of those people.

By exaggerating Palestinian suffering, and by blaming the Jews for it, the UN has muffled the cries of those who suffer on a far larger scale.

For over fifty years the indigenous black African population of Sudan -- Christians and Muslims alike --- have been the victims of the brutal, racist Arab Muslim regimes in Khartoum.

In South Sudan, my homeland, Sudan, about four million innocent men, women and children were slaughtered from 1955 to 2005. Seven million were ethnically cleansed, and they became the largest refugee group since World War II.

Everybody at the United Nations is concerned about the so-called Palestinian refugees. They dedicated a separate agency to provide for them; this agency, UNWRA, treats them with a special privilege.

Meanwhile, my people, ethnically cleansed, murdered and enslaved, are relatively ignored. The UN even resisted using the word "slavery" to describe the enslavement of tens of thousands of my people. Why? Because slavery is a crime against humanity, apparently no one committing it wanted to end up before an international court. When Khartoum insisted that the term "abducted people" be substituted for the word "slaves," the UN, caved to Arab pressure and agreed. Try that in America. Try calling Frederick Douglas an "abducted person." It is outrageous.

The UN refuses to tell the world the truth about the root causes of Sudan's conflicts. Take Darfur, for example. Who knows really what is happening in Darfur? It is not a "tribal conflict." It is a conflict rooted in Arab colonialism, as it has typically been practiced in Africa. In Darfur, a region in the Western Sudan everybody is Muslim. Everybody is Muslim because the Arabs invaded the North of Africa and converted the indigenous people to Islam In the eyes of the Islamists in Khartoum, the Darfuris are not Muslim enough. And they also do not want to be Arabized. They like their own African languages and dress and customs. They resist Arabization. The Arab response is genocide. But nobody tells the truth about Darfur.

In the Nuba Mountains, another region of Sudan, genocide is taking place as I speak. The regime is targeting the black Africans -- Muslims and Christians. This happened to the Nuba people before. In the 1990's hundreds of thousands were murdered; a large number of women were raped; children were abducted and forcibly converted to Islam. Nobody at the UN told the truth about the Nuba Mountains.

Do you see a massive amount of outrage and reports and protests about this coming out of the UN or Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International? Do you hear them condemn Arab anti-black racism?

Look at the pages of the New York Times, or the record of the UN condemnations, What you will find is "Israeli crimes" and Palestinian suffering. My people have been driven off the front pages by the exaggerations of Palestinian suffering. Why? Because what Israel does is portrayed as a Western sin that we are all supposed to address.

The truth is that the West commits a real sin when it abandons us: the actual victims of non-Westerns. Our suffering has become almost taboo.

Let me return to the topic of slavery: while there are issues that divide public opinion, we can all agree that for one man to own another is a sin, and it should be stopped. The Americans tore themselves apart over the issue of slavery.

Chattel slavery, a centuries-long practice in Sudan, was revived as a tool of war in the early '90s. The Islamist regime in Khartoum declared jihad, or holy war, and thereby legitimized taking slaves as war booty. Arab militias were sent to destroy Southern villages and were encouraged to take African women and children as slaves. We believe that up to 200,000 were kidnapped, brought to the North and sold into slavery.

I am a living proof of this crime against humanity.

I do not like talking about my experience as a slave, but I do it because it is important for the world to know that slavery exists even today.

I was only nine years old when I was made a slave. An Arab neighbor named Abdullahi tricked me into following him to a boat destined to Northern Sudan where he gave me as a gift to his family. For three and a half years I was their slave going through something that no child should ever go through: brutal beatings and humiliations; working around the clock; sleeping on the ground with animals; eating the family's left-overs. During those three years I was unable to say the word "no." All I could say was "yes," "yes," "yes."

The United Nations knew about the brutal enslavement of South Sudanese by the Arabs from the early days of the conflict. Human Right Watch issued extensive reports about the issue. These reports gathered dust on UN shelves. It took UNICEF – under pressure from the Jewish –led American Anti-Slavery Group -- sixteen years to acknowledge what was happening.

As soon as the Sudanese government and the Arab League pressured UNICEF, the UN agency backtracked, and proceeded to criticize the Non-Governmental Organizations that worked to liberate Sudanese slaves. In 1998, Dr. Gaspar Biro, the courageous UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Sudan who reported on slavery, resigned in protest of the UN's actions.

My friends, today, tens of thousands of black South Sudanese still serve their masters in the North and the UN is silent about that. It would offend the OIC and the Arab League. So much for "human rights for everybody".

As a former slave and a victim of the worst sort of racism, allow me to explain why I think calling Israel a racist state is absolutely absurd and immoral.

I have been to Israel five times visiting the Sudanese refugees. Let me tell you how they ended up there. These are Sudanese who fled Arab racism, hoping to find shelter in Egypt. They were wrong. In 2005, the refugees camped outside the offices of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Cairo looking for mercy. Instead, the United Nations closed its doors and left the helpless women and children at the mercy of the ruthless Egyptian security forces who brutally slaughtered at least 26 of them.

After this event the Sudanese realized that Arab racism is the same, whether it is in Khartoum or in Cairo. So they continued looking for a shelter and they found it in Israel. Dodging the bullets of the Egyptian border patrols and walking for punishingly long distances, the refugees' only hope was to reach Israel's side of the fence, where they knew they would be safe.

The fact that even Darfuris, who are Muslims, chose Israel above all the other Arab-Muslim states of the area, speaks volumes.. Israel is racist? Israel is against the Muslim world? Ask the thousands of black Muslim Darfuris who found shelter inside the Jewish state.

When I asked the refugees about the treatment they receive in Israel, their response is absolutely the opposite of what the United Nations alleges. They were welcomed and treated like human beings. Compared to the situation in Egypt, they described their lives in Israel as "heaven." No-one called them "abid" – an Arabic word for slaves often used in Sudan, Egypt and other Arab nations.

Is Israel a racist state? To my people, the people who know racism – the answer is absolutely not. It is a state of people of the colors of the rainbow. Jews themselves come in all colors, even black. I met with beautiful black Ethiopian Jews in Israel. Israel is a state that has taken my own black people in, rescued them, and helped them.

So, yes … my claim may be a radical claim: I claim that the victims who suffer most from the UN's anti-Israel policy are not just the Israelis but all those people who have to be ignored in order for the UN to tell its big lie against Israel: all those victims of non Western abuse, especially all those victims of Arab and Muslim abuse: women, ethnic minorities, religious minorities, homosexuals, in the Arab and Muslim world. These are the biggest victims of UN Israel hatred.

So far, the Israelis have only been cursed by the UN. But look at the situation of the Copts, the Christians in Iraq, and Nigeria, and Iran, the Hindus and Bahais and Sikhs who suffer from Islamic oppression. We all suffer. We are ignored, we are abandoned so that the big lie against the Jews can go forward.

Before I conclude let me tell you a story that reflects a special connection that the people of South Sudan feel toward Israel. In 2005, I visited one of the refugee camps in South Sudan. I met a twelve year old girl who told me about her dream. In a dream she wanted to go to school to become a doctor, and then, she wanted to visit Israel. I was shocked and numb. How could this refugee girl who spent most of her life in the North know about Israel? When I asked why she wanted to visit Israel, she said: "This is our people." I was never able to find an answer to my question.

On July 9 of 2011 South Sudan became an independent state. We achieved freedom despite the opposition from the Arab world and despite the United Nations, whose General Secretary, Bi Ki Moon, lobbied for the unity of Sudan. For the South Sudanese, that would mean continuation of oppression, brutalization, demonization, Islamization, Arabization and enslavement.

In a similar manner, the Arabs continue denying Jews their right for sovereignty in their homeland; and the Durban III conference continues denying Israel's legitimacy.

As a friend of Israel, I salute the President of the Republic of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, who had the courage to state publicly that South Sudan embassy in Israel will be built--- not in Tel Aviv, but in Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people.

I also want to assure you that my own new nation, and all of its people, will oppose racist forums like the Durban III. We will oppose it by simply telling the truth.

This originally appeared in a a slightly different form as an address at a conference titled "The Perils of Global Intolerance", in New York City, September 22, 2011.
Simon Deng


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

Saudi "Propaganda Center" Sets Up Shop in Vienna

by Soeren Kern

Saudi Arabia is spearheading the establishment of a controversial new "interreligious and intercultural dialogue center" in the Austrian capital Vienna.

The King Abdullah Center for Inter-Religious and Inter-Cultural Dialogue (here, here and here) was inaugurated at the Albertina Museum in downtown Vienna on October 13. The foreign ministers of the three founding states -- Austria, Spain and Saudi Arabia -- were in attendance. The institution will be located at the Palais Sturany on the Schottenring in the heart of Vienna.

The Saudis say the purpose of the multi-million-dollar initiative is to "foster dialogue" between the world's major religions in order to "prevent conflict."

But critics say the center is an attempt by Saudi Arabia to establish a permanent "propaganda center" in central Europe from which to spread the conservative Wahhabi sect of Islam.

Austrian politicians on all sides of the political aisle have criticized the initiative.

The Green Party, which governs Vienna in a coalition, said the center glorified a country "where freedom of religion and opinion are foreign words."

"Austria should not allow itself to be misused in this way, to allow itself to be involved in whitewash by a repressive Saudi regime which is using this center as a fig leaf for its dishonorable human rights situation," the party said in a statement.

The only Muslim member of the Austrian Parliament, the Turkish-born Alev Korun, branded the project as "highly absurd." She said Spindelegger "must be either incredibly naïve or only interested in business relations with Saudi Arabia." She also accused the foreign minister of "closing both eyes" to breaches of human rights in Saudi Arabia.

The center-right Die Presse newspaper said in an editorial titled "Islamic Center in Vienna: Austria-Aid for Propagandists of Intolerance?" that: "The Austrian government needs to ask itself whether it knows what it is doing: Is it not known that as the state religion of Saudi Arabia Wahhabism is fiercely opposed to other religions and uses 'intercultural dialogue' as a means for aggressive proselytizing?"

"To clarify: Wahhabism is the only officially recognized and allowed religion in Saudi Arabia. Other forms of Islam and other religions are banned and persecuted by the state. Saudi Arabia is the only Islamic state in which there is no church, no synagogue and no other place of worship of any other religion. Shiite Muslims have been systematically discriminated against for decades. Jews are even forbidden to enter the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia practices a form of Sharia law that is one of the most brutal systems in the world. Saudi Arabia has at all times rejected the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. Women may not drive a car and can be punished by flogging. Corporal punishment, including amputations and executions, are part of everyday life in the country. Just two weeks ago a Sudanese immigrant in Saudi Arabia was publicly beheaded for 'sorcery.' Saudi Arabia is one of the few countries in the world in which the death penalty is enforced even on teenagers," the paper said.

The paper concludes: "Does the Austrian Foreign Ministry really want to give such a state the opportunity to build an international propaganda center in Austria?"

Critics also say the Saudis deliberately chose Vienna to serve as the headquarters for the new organization because of the city's historic role in preventing Islam from overrunning Christian Europe during the Siege of Vienna in 1529 and the Battle of Vienna in 1683. The Saudis, they say, are simply fighting a new phase of a very old conflict.

"The thesis is valid that world peace cannot exist without peace between the world's major religions," Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said during a news conference in Vienna. "Our paying for the operation is to create a fund that makes the center independent from any sort of political interference," he added.

The King Abdullah Center -- which will host seminars, conferences, dialogues and other events bringing together individuals of different backgrounds and faiths -- will have a governing body composed of 12 representatives from the world's five largest religions.

The governing body is to be staffed by two Muslims (Sunni and Shiite), three Christians (Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox), a Buddhist, a Hindu and a Jew. The organization will also have a consulting body with 100 representatives from the five world religions plus other faiths as well as academics and members of civil society.

Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said the initiative "proved the readiness to start a real dialogue." He also said "all kinds of discrimination and stereotyping based on religion or belief must be tackled."

Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez said the organization's structures are designed to ensure that none of the represented religions dominates the organization. She also said the three founding states are open to the membership of other countries.

Saudi King Abdullah came up with the idea for the center after visiting Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican in 2007. Shortly thereafter, Abdullah stated that Christians and Muslims should offer a "common message of peace" to humanity.

Abdullah then initiated an interfaith dialogue in Mecca in 2008 followed by the "Interfaith Dialogue Conference" in Madrid. A third meeting took place in Vienna in 2009, where the concept of the organization was agreed upon.

In 2006, the kingdom attempted to cast itself as a vanguard for religious dialogue by awarding $20 million grants to Harvard and Georgetown Universities for similar initiatives.

The Austrian Initiative of Liberal Muslims (ILMÖ) said it feared integration would become more difficult for Muslims in Austria as the center would strengthen the role of "fundamentalist-conservative Islam" in the country.

In case there was any doubt, the official Saudi Press Agency confirms that dialogue is not a two-way street. The most important goal of dialogue, the agency says, is "to introduce Islam" and to "correct the erroneous slanders raised against Islam."

Soeren Kern is Senior Fellow for Transatlantic Relations at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group.


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

CAIR's Odd Stand on Iranian Assassination Plot

by IPT News

A criminal complaint issued last week alleging members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force plotted to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States triggered bi-partisan outrage in Washington and international condemnation.

The plot, had it not been interdicted by federal law enforcement, was seen as a potential act of war on American soil by a hostile regime. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton labeled it an international act of terrorism.

But there has been an odd silence from America's national Islamist organizations. None has issued a release on the case. And when officials from the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) have commented, they have criticized the government's case and spoken in defense of the Iranian regime.

Executive directors Zahra Billoo of CAIR-San Francisco and Dawud Walid of CAIR-Michigan challenged the case's legitimacy, calling out Attorney General Eric Holder and accusing the FBI of fabrication and entrapment. The plot unraveled when Mannsor Arbabsiar, a naturalized American citizen of Iranian descent, reached out to what he thought was a representative of the Zeta drug cartel to carry out the attack.

The representative really was a Drug Enforcement Agency informant who recorded Arbabsiar's conversations. Arbabsiar is in custody, charged with conspiracies to murder a foreign official, to use a weapon of mass destruction, and conspiracy to commit an act of international terrorism transcending national boundaries.

Since then, CAIR-National has linked to an article on a leftist website from its Twitter account, posting the headline, "US Officials Peddle False Intel to Support Terror Plot Claims."

"Not believing AG Holder on Iran-Mexican drug cartel alliance," Billoo, of CAIR-San Francisco Bay Area, said in a Twitter post.

Similarly, Walid rejected the Obama administration's intelligence detailing Iranian involvement.

"If Holder hadn't announced so many 'foiled' plots that were really FBI provocateur led, I'd be more inclined to believe this #Iran plot biz," said Walid.

That post appears to have been taken down. A second Twitter post challenged the government's case. "Obama said evidence released but not there is none about senior Iranian officials. I read the comments carefully." He issued a similar tweet doubting claims Iranian officials were involved a day earlier, adding the Internet slang "smh" for "shaking my head."

No one has said the evidence has been released publicly. The complaint alleges that Arbabsiar was working with a Quds Force officer and arranged to have $100,000 wired into a bank account as a down payment for killing the Saudi ambassador. Such action, officials say, could not have been done without the knowledge and tacit approval of senior officials.

Walid also circulated Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's denial of the plot on Al-Jazeera English. The "U.S. accusations over plot are attempts to divert attention from its own problems," Ahmadinejad said.

Walid routinely complains of perceived injustices by American law enforcement.

He spent a year trying to cast a 2009 shooting of a Detroit imam as unjust, even though Imam Luqman Abdullah fired first as FBI agents tried to arrest him. Abdullah had long vowed not to be taken peacefully and none of Walid's allegations of wrongdoing were substantiated in a series of subsequent investigations.

Billoo's San Francisco chapter drew attention early this year when it promoted a "Know Your Rights" event with a poster urging people to "build a wall of resistance" from the FBI. She also criticized a sting operation that led to the arrest of a Muslim man who thought he was detonating a bomb at a Portland Christmas tree lighting ceremony. "The question is, are we looking to stop radicalization and stop extremism before it becomes a problem or do we want a sensational story?" Billoo told a local television station. "And I'd really argue here that the FBI was looking for a sensational story."

CAIR's silence is reminiscent of its reaction to the Iranian regime's brutal repression of the peaceful anti-Ahmadinejad protesters after the June 2009 presidential elections. No statements of solidarity with the protesters. No calls for the violence to stop.

The situation could be putting CAIR leaders in a bit of a bind. They have had positive interactions with Iranian media and government, but they also are reliant on wealthy Gulf donors for operating funds. In 2006, CAIR officials traveled to Saudi Arabia, a majority Sunni kingdom, seeking millions of dollars in support, State Department records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show.

In this case, CAIR might argue it is preserving its connections to the Iranian regime because they can have a benefit. Executive Director Nihad Awad was part of an interfaith delegation that traveled to Iran last month to help free American hikers, Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal.

But CAIR officials also often appear on the Iran's government-controlled English language news outlet, PressTV, where they criticize American policy or complain of the "plight" of Muslims in America. In particular, CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper recently argued about the rise of Islamophobia in America for "political reasons" on PressTV.

Ahmadinejad has come to New York in recent years to address the United Nations General Assembly. While many Western diplomats walk out during his remarks, American Islamists seek audiences with him.

CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad, obstructed by the camera, is two seats away from Ahmadinejad.

Awad spoke at a 2009 interfaith program Ahmadinejad attended while in New York. According to a letter from Joseph Gerson of the pacifist Quaker group, the American Friends Service Committee, Awad "stressed that Islam teaches the importance of justice – even in response to enemies, and that terror must always be condemned and rejected.

Likewise, other Islamist groups in America, such as the Muslim American Society (MAS) and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), also remain silent on the alleged Iranian attempt to mount an attack on U.S. soil.

Given a chance to speak directly to Ahmadinejad in 2007, Mahdi Bray, then the director of MAS's political arm, said nothing about Iranian government repression, but was quick to slam the United States for "the injustices that are heaped upon Muslims right here in America."

Bray repeatedly told the Iranian leader "we share your vision" and that Allah demands his people confront injustice anywhere in the world. "We do share your vision that we must actively – actively – embrace this vision of resisting injustice no matter where it may be," Bray said. "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Therefore, we share your vision for justice for all the people of the world."

It's not as if CAIR, MAS and other national Islamist groups are shy when it comes to foreign affairs. In a statement following a U.S. drone strike which killed American-born al-Qaida cleric Anwar al-Awlaki last month, CAIR distanced itself from Awlaki's violent rhetoric, but also expressed concern about due process rights for Awlaki, an American citizen.

These organizations have actively supported the non-violent Arab Spring uprisings against dictatorships in the Middle East and North Africa. Yet they have nothing to say when the Islamic Republic of Iran is implicated in a plot to assassinate a Saudi ambassador on American soil.

IPT News (The Investigative Project on Terrorism)


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Assessing Bahrain

by Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi

Critics have often argued that Western nations -- the United States in particular -- have been hypocritical in their policies towards Bahrain. Is this claim accurate? Too often, no full overview has been given on what is going on in the country. Who precisely are the predominantly Shi'a protestors? What is at stake? Most importantly, which outside nations can influence the situation?

Bahrain's Shi'a majority, under Sunni minority rule since the arrival of the ruling al-Khalifa dynasty around two hundred years ago, has for a long time justifiably complained of problems of discrimination, and while Bahrain began moving in the direction of democratic reform at the turn of this century, the reforms were gradually reversed as the government became concerned that Iran would seek to take advantage of greater political freedom on the island.

Indeed, by 2010, the American human rights think-tank Freedom House had demoted Bahrain from "partly free" to "not free," citing, among other things, "harassment of opposition political figures" and "worsening sectarian discrimination."

Now, the rulers' anxieties over Iranian designs on the island are not entirely unjustified. Iran has made a claim to Bahrain many times (most recently in 2005), and has viewed the country as its fourteenth province since Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi's declaration of this status in November 1957.

Since the protests first began in Bahrain, it has been apparent that there are a number of pro-Iranian, Shi'a Islamists among the demonstrators: specifically the al-Haq movement led by Hassan Mushaima, who are to be distinguished from other Shi'a political movements in Bahrain like al-Wefaq, whose aim, like Iraq's Shi'a political factions, is generally to ensure that the nation's Shi'a majority leads the political process, while allowing the al-Khilafa dynasty to remain as a limited, constitutional monarchy, rather than subordinating the country to Iranian interests and plans.

The regime's mistake, however, has been to view the protesters as a monolithic bloc that is part of an Iranian plot to take over the island. Instead of trying to work towards a compromise with the more mainstream opposition and only putting on trial the likes of Hassan Mushaima, the government has targeted for detention and torture protestors from al-Wefaq and even the secular social democrats of al-Waad. In the case of al-Waad, it is notable that the group's currently imprisoned leader -- Ibrahim Sharif -- is a Sunni, and that al-Waad has cautioned protestors to be alert to possible Iranian attempts to take advantage of the demonstrations.

Meanwhile, a group of twenty medical professionals, who merely aided protestors injured at the hands of the security forces during the brutal crackdown on demonstrations, were convicted on charges of trying to overthrow the government. Bahraini officials recently announced their intention to hold a civilian trial for these medical professionals, but questions have rightly been raised regarding how different this new trial will really be.

Unfortunately, the regime's actions have only helped to trap itself in a vicious circle by empowering the extremists who promote a zero-sum narrative that the government and monarchy must be dismantled completely. The longer the repression continues, the more likely the window of opportunity for a reasonable compromise will disappear completely.

Yet more at fault here is Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which have similarly regarded the protests as an Iranian conspiracy and have accordingly deployed thousands of "Peninsula Shield" troops -- drawn from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates -- to aid in the repression of demonstrations. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia has looked elsewhere among Sunni nations to recruit support for the Peninsula Shield force.

For example, as the Middle East Media Research Institute reports, in return for Saudi promises to aid Pakistan's economy, Pakistani private security firms have recruited thousands of active and demobilized Pakistani troops to assist the government in Bahrain, while Malaysia has promised to send additional contingents if necessary.

It is only in light of Saudi Arabia's and the GCC's role that one can appreciate why the West can do virtually nothing about Bahrain. Despite repeated calls by Western governments for reform and denunciations of the mass trials and convictions of medical professionals, only the Saudis and the GCC can really influence the path the Bahraini government chooses, and they are simply not listening to Western governments on the subject of Bahrain after the supposed 'betrayal' of Hosni Mubarak back in February.

Thus, the West is not being hypocritical about Bahrain at all, even taking into account approval of arms sales to the island. The United States' primary interest is of course to prevent the likes of Hassan Mushaima from ever coming to power and maintain the base in Bahrain for the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet. Its presence in the Persian Gulf is of course vital to prevent Iran from achieving hegemony over these waters, especially in the event that the country acquires nuclear weapons and can thereby gain a stranglehold over a major route for much of the world's oil supplies. The West is unhappy with the status quo, but also willing to put up with it because there are no viable ways to convince the government, Saudi Arabia and the GCC that a political compromise is needed. Options are severely limited, and the West is simply acting on its own interests.

Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi is a student at Brasenose College, Oxford University, and an intern at the Middle East Forum.


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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

How the Left Helped Hamas Win

by Daniel Greenfield

Five years after the attack that captured Gilad Shalit, Hamas, the Islamic terrorist organization responsible, has finally won. The release of over a 1,000 terrorists in exchange for the captured Israeli soldier will turn experienced terrorists loose to participate in the next round of attack and train the next generation of terrorists.

However, the real victory belongs not to Hamas, but to its radical leftist partners. When Israel tried to isolate Hamas with a blockade, it was the international Left that did everything it could to break the blockade while spreading Hamas propaganda about starving children.

When Israel tried to take military action against Hamas, the Left threw together anti-war protests and compared the Jewish state to Nazi Germany. Code Pink met with Hamas leaders, and Viva Palestina brought money directly to Hamas. Left-wing clergy joined in a fast for Gaza and left-wing writers like Alice Walker and Henning Mankell boarded the Gaza flotilla.

While the Left tried to avoid using the word “Hamas” in their Gaza campaigns, just as they had avoided using “Saddam” in their Iraq campaigns, they were still working on behalf of a ruthless terrorist organization. Hamas pretended to be a social services agency and its leftist allies pretended they were concerned with humanitarian aid, but their true common goal was the destruction of Israel.

The Left kept Hamas from being isolated, gave it money and acted as its diplomatic corps, eroding Israel’s leverage and increasing Hamas’ standing. When the Left and its Egyptian mothership organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, joined forces to overthrow Mubarak, with Obama’s backing, that opened the door to Gaza. And it eliminated the remainder of Israel’s leverage.

In his book, “Fighting Terrorism: How Democracies Can Defeat Domestic and International Terrorists,” Netanyahu wrote, “Among the most important policies which must be adopted in the face of terrorism is the refusal to release convicted terrorists from prisons. This is a mistake that Israel, once the leader in anti-terror techniques, has made over and over again.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu is being rightly criticized for surrendering to Hamas, but he is well aware of the points that his critics are making. He has made them numerous times.

Release of convicted terrorists before they have served their full sentences seems like an easy and tempting way of defusing blackmail situations in which innocent people may lose their lives. But its utility is momentary at best. Prisoner releases only embolden terrorists by giving them the feeling that even if they are caught their punishment will be brief. Worse, by leading terrorists to think such demands are likely to be met, they encourage precisely the kind of terrorist blackmail which they are supposed to diffuse….only the most unrelenting refusal to ever give in to such blackmail can prevent most such situations from arising.

And Hamas has already stated that Gilad Shalit “will not be the last solider kidnapped.”

Why then did Netanyahu make the deal? Because the Left had drastically limited his options. Even while the international Left and portions of the Israeli Left were campaigning against any isolation of Gaza, his domestic left-wing opposition was running an aggressive Free Gilad Shalit campaign that accused Netanyahu, rather than Hamas, of keeping Shalit locked up.

Gilad Shalit became the unwitting symbol of a movement that had demanded a withdrawal from Gaza to save the lives of soldiers, and was now campaigning to release terrorists to save the life of a soldier who was only in captivity because of their withdrawal. After five years another installment of their policies is being paid for in blood.

Some Americans wonder why Israel didn’t just go into Gaza and bring him back. Again, the answer lies on the Left. When Israel withdrew from Gaza, it lost most of its intelligence assets on the ground. Short-term operations and hit and run strikes have failed as a result. Nothing short of a full-scale reclamation of Gaza would have sufficed to find and free Gilad Shalit.

Prime Minister Netanyahu does not have the same powers as the President of the United States. The Israeli Minister of Defense is Ehud Barak, a former left-wing rival, who is part of a coalition of parties that forms the Netanyahu government. Imagine if Bush had been forced to run military operations through Secretary of Defense John Kerry, who could at any time bring down the administration and force new elections if something displeased him, and you get some idea of the awkwardness of the arrangement.

While Barak isn’t the major player he used to be, in combination with a number of other prominent ex-military and ex-intelligence players on the Left, and a hostile administration in Washington, that was enough to checkmate any long-term military operation.

Previous attacks on Hamas had failed because they were only temporary strikes that did not make any serious effort to drive it out of Gaza and restore the rule of law to the area. Like the Taliban or Hezbollah, its leaders knew that all they had to do was hang on and wait till the Left’s propaganda and war crimes allegations took enough of a toll that the operation would end.

The only practical option for dealing with Hamas and its rocket attacks was to retake Gaza, but Israeli conservative politicians, like their American counterparts, rarely do much to reverse the destructive policies of the Left. Instead they try to make the status quo manageable.

Netanyahu did not believe that the odds of a temporary military operation finding Shalit had gotten any better, and he was unwilling to commit to reclaiming Gaza and expelling Hamas, which would amount to months of conflict and outrageous claims of war crimes by the Left.

The Israel of Entebbe and Osirak would have gone for it, but that era has given way to nuanced politicians concerned with the country’s public image. And so five years later, the deal was finally made. The Left has pointed out that the deal could have been years ago, and they are correct. But they are the only reason that the deal had to be made at all.

The Left had strengthened Hamas and undermined Israel. The terrorist release is Hamas’ reward, but the Left’s victory.

Daniel Greenfield


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Navy Seeks $100m. to Protect new Gas Rigs

by Yaakov Katz

The government is considering a plan to allocate $100 million to the Navy to enable it to purchase new ships which it will require to effectively protect future Israeli gas rigs in the Mediterranean Sea.

Under consideration is the possibility that the funds will be partially provided by the companies developing the gas fields off Israel’s coast, which are estimated to contain billions of barrels of natural gas.

Israel’s discovery of large natural gas fields off its coast has raised tensions with Lebanon which claims that some of the fields are in its sovereign waters.

In early July, the cabinet approved the demarcation of Israel’s northern maritime border with Lebanon, which sets the economic rights in offshore territories that have become lucrative with the recent discoveries of vast natural-gas resources.

Israel’s concern is that Hezbollah and Hamas will try to attack the Israeli gas rigs at sea in explosive-laden ships, or with anti-ship missiles. Iran has also recently announced plans to deploy warships in the Mediterranean.

While the Navy is traditionally responsible for defending Israel’s coast and its sea-based natural resources, it has told the government that it does not have enough ships and platforms to effectively defend future oil rigs. Some government officials had raised the possibility of hiring private security contractors to protect the fields, but the plan was rejected by the Defense Ministry. The plan under consideration could see the procurement of new ships.

Yaakov Katz


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'Freed Prisoners who Return to Terror do so at own Risk'

by Herb Keinon and Staff

Shortly after greeting kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit at the Tel Nof Air Force base with a hug and a salute, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned that if any of the 477 terrorists freed for his release return to terrorism, “they do so at their own risk.”

Netanyahu, in a short address to journalists at the entrance to the base, said that the country today was “united in joy and pain.”

“Two and a half years ago I returned to the Prime Minister's Office. One of the central and complicated goals that I found on my desk was to bring back our kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit safe and sound. Today that mission was accomplished.”

Netanyahu, describing the considerations he weighed in making the decision to agree to the 1,027 for 1 swap, said that as a soldier and commander he was often sent on dangerous missions, but always knew that if captured, the government would do everything in its power to bring him and his comrades home.

“As a leader who sends IDF soldiers every day to defend Israeli citizens, I believe that mutual responsibility is not just a slogan, but one of the foundations of our existence here.”

Netanyahu said that Israel stood by two demands in the Egyptian-mediated negotiations: that the Hamas leadership remain behind bars, and that most of those released be deported or sent to Gaza to distance them from their ability to cause more harm.

“Israel is different than its enemies, here we do not celebrate the release of murderers, here we do not raise on our shoulders those who cut off life. To the contrary, we believe in the sanctity of life. We sanctify life. That is an ancient tradition of the Jewish people. “

Defense Minister Ehud Barak addressed the media after meeting Schalit at Tel Nof, saying the prisoner deal in which terrorists were released in order to free the soldier brought with it many risks.

Barak stated that Israel would "act to prevent those risks from endangering Israeli citizens."

IDF chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz said that the return of Schalit was closure for the State of Israel, the IDF, the Schalit family and Gilad himself.

"The IDF will be with the Schalit family the whole way," Gantz said.

Herb Keinon and Staff


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Ny Times Sheds More Tears For Palestinian Terrorist Killers Than For Giilad Schalit

by Leo Rennert

The New York Times, in its Oct. 18 edition, runs an article by Mideast correspondent Stephen Farrell and Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner about preparations in Israel and in Gaza on the eve of the release of Gilad Schalit, the abducted Israeli soldier held by Hamas for more than five years, in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners ("Israel and Palestinians Prepare to Swap Prisoners" page A8).

Setting the scene for the prisoner swap, the article tells Times readers that "the Tuesday handover will end five years in captivity for the Israeli soldier, Staff Sgt. Gilad Schalit; hundreds of the Palestinians have been held much longer."

It's an odious, invidious, amoral comparison between Schalit and Palestinian terrorists -- as if the only thing that matters is the lengths of their captivities. But this phony comparison doesn't hold. The real news is in the glaring contrast between Schalit, a soldier serving in an army held to high standards in dealing with civilians, and Palestinians who deliberately set out to kill as many civilians as possible.

Nowhere in the article do Farrell and Bronner point out that the Palestinians who "have been held much longer" than Schalit include bloodthirsty barbarians sentenced to lengthy prison terms for such atrocities as the lynching of two Israeli soldiers with the perpetrator proudly displaying his blood-soaked hands to an applauding mob, or the bombing of a Jerusalem pizzeria which killed 15 Israelis, or the attack on a Tel Aviv nightclub that claimed 21 lives, or the massacre of 29 Jews at a Passover seder in Netanya.

In the Times article, the only "news" about the released Palestinian prisoners is the length of their stay behind bars in Israeli prisons. Otherwise, total silence about the horrors they perpetrated and for which they drew such lengthy sentences.

Nor does the Times see fit to remind its readers that during their imprisonment, Palestinian terrorists could communicate with relatives, take advanced courses and stay in touch with the outside world, while Schalit was held incommunicado, totally cut off from the world, with Hamas even refusing to let the Red Cross visit him. In fact, his family didn't know whether he was even still alive.

No, the entire article is penned in antiseptic fashion to spare readers the real depravities to which these Palestinian prisoners sank. All that matters to Farrell and Bronner is the fact that hundreds of Palestinian prisoners were "held much longer" than Schalit -- an expurgated narrative propagated by Palestinian leaders of all stripes who go on to celebrate such hard-core terrorists as heroic role models for new generations of Palestinians.

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers


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Hamas Wins! PA Dishes Out Conspiracy Theories

by Khaled Abu Toameh

The Palestinian Authority, which was caught by surprise by the prisoner exchange agreement between Israel and Hamas, is now talking about a "conspiracy" aimed at undermining President Mahmoud Abbas.

The alleged conspiracy, the Palestinian Authority claims, was concocted by Israel and Hamas to punish Abbas for asking the UN to recognize a Palestinian state.

Just last month the Palestinian Authority was celebrating its "triumphant" move to seek membership of a Palestinian state in the UN. Abbas returned to a hero's welcome in Ramallah, where Palestinian Authority civil servants and school children were sent to greet him for "standing up against the US and Israel" at the UN.

Not surprisingly, public opinion polls published by groups that are affiliated with the Palestinian claimed that Abbas's popularity was on the rise as a result of the statehood bid.

But the celebrations in Ramallah were short-lived.The prisoner agreement has stolen the show from Abbas and his team in Ramallah. Overnight, Abbas's statehood bid looked like a silly joke compared to Hamas's "achievement."

This, in addition to the fact that a growing number of Palestinians are beginning to realize that the statehood bid was more about glorifying their leaders than achieving a state.

The Palestinian Authority has good reason to be worried about the prisoner swap. If anything, the agreement has rallied many Palestinians behind Hamas. Even some of Abbas's top aides have been forced to admit in public that the deal was a "huge achievement" for Hamas.

The agreement sends a message that the only way to get Israel to release prisoners is by kidnapping Israeli civilians or soldiers and not through negotiations, as advocated by Abbas.

Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah have expressed deep concern over the prisoner swap, saying it would bolster Hamas's standing among Palestinians and significantly weaken Abbas and his Fatah faction.

But instead of sitting quiet and waiting until the storm passes away, the Palestinian Authority leaders have been trying to convince the Palestinian public that Israel and Hamas were "colluding" to undermine Abbas's regime.

The first statement came from Riad Malki, the foreign minister in the Palestinian Authority government, who announced that the timing of the deal, only a few weeks after Abbas submitted the controversial statehood application to the UN, was "suspicious."

Since then, several other Abbas loyalists have claimed that Israel and Hamas struck the deal now in a clear attempt to foil Abbas's statehood plan.

This was not the first time that the Palestinian Authority has talked about an Israeli-Hamas plot. Yasser Arafat used to talk about "secret meetings" between representatives of the two parties to coordinate terror attacks against the Jewish state during the second intifada, while some of his former aides continue to stick to the claim that it was Israel that founded Hamas more than two decades with the goal of undermining the PLO.

In addition, Arafat and his spokesmen have repeatedly tried to convince the Palestinian public that some of the anti-Israel terror attacks, including the assassination of Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze'evi at the hands of Palestinians 10 years ago, was an "inside job."

The Palestinian Authority, which has yet to come to terms with its defeat to Hamas in the 2006 parliamentary election and its subsequent expulsion from the Gaza Strip, is trying to sell its conspiracy theories with the hope of salvaging what is left of its credibility.

Khaled Abu Toameh


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Why Palestine?

by David Solway

The macabre prepossession of the international community with the “problem” of Israel is now so widespread that it has become like a cultural neurosis or even a fact of nature, that is, something that is habitual, taken for granted and rarely questioned. One drinks it in with the morning coffee, if not with one’s mother’s milk. It is treated as the central issue in the geopolitical world beside which every other consideration fades into comparative insignificance.

The People’s Republic of China has overrun Tibet, resettled it with its own citizens and imposed autocratic rule? Not on the radar. Zimbabwe has forcefully dispossessed its white farmers and mercilessly persecuted its own people? Of no account. Hundreds of thousands of Egyptian Copts are fleeing the country to avoid killings, rapes, church burnings and forced conversions? A mere bagatelle. Islamist and Salafist factions are emerging in Egypt in the wake of the much-touted “Arab Spring,” promising renewed violence whether in Helwan, Imbaba, Tahrir Square or Alexandria? A tepid reproof by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and so on to other things, mainly Israel. The Muslim Brotherhood is making inroads into the Islamic world and promulgating Sharia law in the West? Of little interest. Iran is brutally suppressing its own population and Syria is indiscriminately slaughtering its people? No flotillas. Russia is systematically murdering and imprisoning investigative journalists? It’s an internal Russian matter. Reports indicate that Venezuela and Cuba may construct missile emplacements targeting the U.S.? Forget about it. Libyan rebels are massacring black Africans? Nothing to worry about. Sudan is conducting an ethnic cleansing campaign in Darfur? It doesn’t register. Somalia is imploding owing to the bombings and depredations of the al-Shabaab terrorist network? Not our problem. Pakistan-sponsored terrorists wreak havoc in India? It merits a passing headline and is then dismissed. The Taliban is again turning Afghanistan into a killing field? Unfortunate, but there it is. Turkey refuses to acknowledge and apologize for the Armenian genocide it carried out? Well, that was long ago.

But when it comes to the Israeli/Palestinian nexus, the focus is unswerving. The UN debates the issue endlessly and propagates one denunciation of the Jewish state after another. The EU and the U.S. are fixated on a resolution to what they appear to consider a planetary imbroglio. Something called the “Quartet,” which has been aptly called a “chorus of jackals,” has been concocted to deal with the matter to the exclusion of far more pressing concerns. The media are pitching in with obscene insistence. NGOs, churches and labor unions have exceeded their mandates and competencies in engaging with a Levantine quarrel. And public opinion, especially in Europe, has been galvanized by what is in essence a parochial dispute and really none of its business.

The media and the political class are especially culpable. As James Fallows argues in Breaking the News, the media are busy practicing what is called predictive journalism and engaging in professional spin, disguising editorial opinion as impartial news coverage and thus adding political prejudice to the ostensibly neutral transmission of facts. The political class is given to what Michael Freund has dubbed “selective provocation syndrome,” that is, “when one deems Israel’s actions to be provocative while ignoring similar moves by the Palestinians.” The Palestinians, he points out, are building thirteen times the number of dwellings in Samaria and Judea as are being built by Jews, in order to establish facts on the ground in the disputed territories. “So why,” he asks, “is this too not regarded as a ‘provocation’ that undermines peace efforts?” And replies: “I guess not all ‘provocations’ are considered equal.”

Clearly, the debate is intensively weighted on the side of the Palestinians, which means that the Israelis are regularly condemned for defending themselves, for acting in accordance with historical and legal principles, and for their reluctance to sign away legitimate territory and, in effect, to jeopardize their very survival. There is little recognition of the fact that Israel has constantly signaled its willingness to embark upon realistic negotiations. As Barry Rubin writes, “So if the world isn’t going to listen to Israel’s proposals, won’t credit its eagerness to negotiate and won’t accept plans that also include Israel getting something for its troubles, there is no way Israel is ever going to satisfy it.”

The situation is frankly preposterous and provokes two salient questions: why such an unrelenting convergence of interest on this tiny slice of the world’s geography, so scarce in natural resources and constantly threatened with destruction, called Israel?; and in the context of consensual advocacy, why Palestine?

The world remains focused on Israel because Israel is a Jewish state, the Jewish family on the international block, a distinctive presence which activates the latent—as well as the manifest—content of a malingering and inexcisable anti-Semitism. For this is anti-Semitism pure and simple and it would be disingenuous to try and mitigate the truth by seeking for nuanced and textured evasions intended to downplay mankind’s longest hatred. Jews, the feeling goes, do not deserve their own state. They presumably form a collection of wandering tribes and disruptive social interlopers, justly scattered among the nations and deserving of marginalization, a historical “fossil” according to the celebrated historian Arnold Toynbee and, according to the anti-Zionist delator Tony Judt, an “anachronism.” But such pronouncements and convictions are merely an attempt to launder one’s irrational bigotries or dissemble one’s innate aversions. The current situation makes this blatantly evident. The name of the game is Judeophobia.

For the disproportion between the world’s response to a healthy, robust, legitimate and embattled democratic state the size of New Jersey and the vast cesspools of tyranny, oppression, insurgence, violence and depredation that litter the globe is incommensurable. With only occasional exceptions, the world trains its gaze almost exclusively on Israel. “One wonders,” writes Matthew Hausman, “how they can be so consumed with Israel’s alleged indiscretions and yet ignore the totalitarian and theocratic tendencies of the nations comprising the Arab-Muslim world.” Good question.

World leaders inveigh against every defensive operation that Israel undertakes to protect its sovereignty and safeguard its people. They condemn normal domestic projects, like building apartments in a Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem, a city which also happens to be the capital of the country. The blame for stalled “negotiations” is inevitably laid at Israel’s door, in defiance of Palestinian intransigence, bellicose chauvinism and unilateral actions. Material concessions are demanded of Israel: little is required of the other side, except for a few paper agreements of approximately the same value as UN assurances—that is to say, they are worth nothing. The historicity of the Jewish sanction to the Jewish homeland is ignored. The legal instruments that have validated the Jewish state are vacated or deliberately misinterpreted. The laws of war which entitle Israel to the territories it has conquered in a defensive struggle—and that are in any case part of its ancestral allodium—are brushed aside, though recognized in every other historical instance.

At the same time, the revisionist Palestinian narrative of indigenous rights and immemorial nationhood, which has no basis in reality and is demonstrably woven out of whole cloth, is vetted by the international community and accepted without question. The Palestinian program should be perfectly transparent. As Zahir Muhsein of the Palestinian National Council told the Dutch newspaper Trouw as far back as 1977, “The Palestinian people does not exist…Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people…to oppose Zionism.”

With regard to the Israelis and the Palestinians, the maxim is: to the losers go the spoils. The anti-Israel bias explains the spurious preoccupation, indeed the pathological obsession, with the Palestinian cause, the acceptance of the Palestinian fable of dispossession (the so-called Nakba), and the winking at the Palestinian terror franchises, the anti-Jewish incitement industry and the genocidal charters of both Fatah and Hamas. The declared goal of Hamas is the annihilation of Israel. Its mission statement reads in part: “There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad.” The cardinal purpose of the Fatah movement, according to its constitution, is the “complete liberation of Palestine, and eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence,” to be effected by “armed struggle [which] will not cease unless the Zionist state is demolished.” Further, Article 19 of the PLO Covenant rejects the 1947 UN partition of Palestine and Article 20 denies the Jewish historical relationship to the Holy Land.

The most effective way, then, to shrink the Jewish state and render it increasingly vulnerable to successful attack by the surrounding Muslim nations is to support the claims, strategies and demands of the Palestinian leadership. Western leaders, the liberal political elite, Third World parasites and various autocratic regimes are not genuinely interested in the confection of a Palestinian state. A loose collection of mendicant clans calling themselves a “people” or a “nation,” with neither historical grounding nor political warrant and that offers nothing of value to the world at large, is, or should be, by any reasonable estimation of peripheral significance.

The agenda in play is something quite different, in part an effort to curry favor with the Islamic umma and, allied with this concern, the intent to siphon the lifeblood of the troublesome Zionist upstart. Israel represents the collective Jew who must be put in his place, not treated as an equal, but, at best, superciliously tolerated and, at worst, deprived of status or erased from the book of the living. This is where Palestine comes in. As others have remarked, Palestine is the Trojan Horse the councils of the nations wheel up to the gates of Jerusalem; “their forces join/To invade the town,” as Virgil writes in The Aeneid. Troy must fall to the ruses of its enemies. The invention of Palestine has no other purpose, whether for the Arabs, “progressive” political society or the rabble of confrontation states and rogue regimes, than the reduction of the Jewish state, on which the world’s baleful attention has fastened since at least the 1967 war.

Why Palestine? The answer is obvious. The answer is: Israel.

David Solway


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