Friday, June 1, 2012

Palestinians May Boycott Unicef Over Israel Ties

by Khaled Abu Toameh, Tovah Lazaroff

Contractors Union denounce UN Children’s Fund for taking Israeli offers in bid for construction work in Gaza.
The Palestinians are threatening to boycott the United Nations Children’s Fund after the agency decided to accept offers from Israeli firms to bid for construction work in the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian Contractors Union denounced UNICEF and warned Palestinians against cooperating with Israeli firms.

The head of the union, Osama Kahil, said he received complaints from Palestinian contractors who told him that Israeli firms had asked for their cooperation in carrying out construction work in the Gaza Strip, offering them half of the revenues.

“We contacted the head of UNICEF and held a meeting with her after which we decided to boycott the agency until it backtracks on its decision,” Kahil said. He added that Palestinians were outraged that Israelis, who were “responsible for destroying the Gaza Strip,” were being offered the opportunity to help carry out important projects.

The Contractors Union appealed to the Palestinian Authority to intervene with UNICEF to stop it from “tampering with the blood and rights of our people and their national sentiments.”

Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip threatened to hold protests against UNICEF and to close its offices because of its readiness to permit Israeli companies to take part in its projects. Hamas said it would not allow Israel to carry out any work in the Gaza Strip.

UNICEF spokeswoman Catherine Weibel said that no contracts had been awarded to any firms. She explained that UNICEF Special Representative in the Occupied Palestinian territory Jean Gough had met with the Palestinian Contractors Union on Tuesday.

“The priority and policy of the UNICEF office in the Occupied Palestinian territory is to purchase goods and services from qualified Palestinian manufacturers, authorized dealers and companies. We only buy from other providers when goods are not available,” Gough said.

Weibel explained that the project in question was a desalination plant.

UNICEF’s preference, she said, was to use local suppliers. But if Palestinian supplier could not provide the necessary parts then Israel was the next option.

Khaled Abu Toameh, Tovah Lazaroff


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

World Leaders Ignore International Law

by Eli. E. Hertz

The U.S. Administration, the European Union, the United Nations, and Russia's decision to rewrite history by labeling the Territories 'Occupied Territories,' the Settlements as an 'Obstacle to Peace' and 'Not Legitimate,' thus endowing them with an aura of bogus statehood and a false history. The use of these dishonest loaded terms, empowers terrorism and incites Palestinian Arabs with the right to use all measures to expel Israel.

The Jewish People's Right to the Land of Israel
align="center">The "Mandate for Palestine" & the Law of War

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, United States President Barack Obama, and the European Union Foreign Affairs Chief Catherine Ashton became victims to the 'Occupation' mantra their own organization has repeated over and over in their propaganda campaign to legitimize the Arab position.

Continuous pressure by the "Quartet" (U.S., the European Union, the UN and Russia) to surrender parts of the Land of Israel are contrary to international law as stated in the "Mandate for Palestine" document, that in article 6 firmly call to "encourage ... close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes." It also requires, under Article 5 of the Mandate to "seeing that no Palestine territory shall be ceded or leased to, or in any way placed under the control of the government of any foreign power."

Any attempt by the World Leaders to negate the Jewish people's right to Palestine - Eretz-Israel, and to deny them access and control in the area designated for the Jewish people by the League of Nations, is a serious infringement of international law, and as such - illegitimate.

International Law - The "Mandate for Palestine"

The "Mandate for Palestine" an historical League of Nations document, laid down the Jewish legal right under international law to settle anywhere in western Palestine, the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, an entitlement unaltered in international law. Fifty-one member countries - the entire League of Nations - unanimously declared on July 24, 1922:

"Whereas recognition has been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country."

On June 30, 1922, a joint resolution of both Houses of Congress of the United States unanimously endorsed the "Mandate for Palestine":

"Favoring the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.

"Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled. That the United States of America favors the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which should prejudice the civil and religious rights of Christian and all other non-Jewish communities in Palestine, and that the holy places and religious buildings and sites in Palestine shall be adequately protected." [italics in the original]

Law of War - Arab Unlawful Acts of Aggression in 1948

Six months before the War of Independence in 1948, Palestinian Arabs launched a series of riots, pillaging, and bloodletting. Then came the invasion of seven Arab armies from neighboring states attempting to prevent the establishment of a Jewish state in accordance with the UN's 1947 recommendation to Partition Palestine, a plan the Arabs rejected.

The Jewish state not only survived, it came into possession of territories - land from which its adversaries launched their first attempt to destroy the newly created State of Israel.

Israel's citizens understood that defeat meant the end of their Jewish state before it could even get off the ground. In the first critical weeks of battle, and against all odds, Israel prevailed on several fronts.

The metaphor of Israel having her back to the sea reflected the image crafted by Arab political and religious leaders' rhetoric and incitement. Already in 1948 several car bombs had killed Jews, and massacres of Jewish civilians underscored Arab determination to wipe out the Jews and their state.

6,000 Israelis died as a result of that war, in a population of 600,000. One percent of the Jewish population was gone. In American terms, the equivalent is 3 million American civilians and soldiers killed over an 18-month period.

Israel's War of Independence in 1948 was considered lawful and in self-defence as may be reflected in UN resolutions naming Israel a "peace loving State" when it applied for membership at the United Nations. Both the Security Council (4 March, 1949, S/RES/69) and the UN General Assembly (11 May, 1949, (A/RES/273 (III)) declared:

"[Security Council] Decides in its judgment that Israel is a peace-loving State and is able and willing to carry out the obligations contained in the Charter ..."

Arab Unlawful Acts of Aggression in 1967

In June 1967, the combined armies of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan attacked Israel with the clear purpose expressed by Egypt's President: "Destruction of Israel." At the end of what is now known as the Six-Day War, Israel, against all odds, was victorious and in possession of the territories of Judea and Samaria [E.H., The West Bank], Sinai and the Golan Heights.

International law makes a clear distinction between defensive wars and wars of aggression. More than half a century after the 1948 War, and more than four decades since the 1967 Six-Day War, it is hard to imagine the dire circumstances Israel faced and the price it paid to fend off its neighbors' attacks.

Who Starts Wars Does Matter

Professor, Judge Stephen M. Schwebel, past President of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) states the following facts:

"The facts of the June 1967 'Six Day War' demonstrate that Israel reacted defensively against the threat and use of force against her by her Arab neighbors. This is indicated by the fact that Israel responded to Egypt's prior closure of the Straits of Tiran, its proclamation of a blockade of the Israeli port of Eilat, and the manifest threat of the UAR's [The state formed by the union of the republics of Egypt and Syria in 1958] use of force inherent in its massing of troops in Sinai, coupled with its ejection of UNEF.

"It is indicated by the fact that, upon Israeli responsive action against the UAR, Jordan initiated hostilities against Israel. It is suggested as well by the fact that, despite the most intense efforts by the Arab States and their supporters, led by the Premier of the Soviet Union, to gain condemnation of Israel as an aggressor by the hospitable organs of the United Nations, those efforts were decisively defeated.

"The conclusion to which these facts lead is that the Israeli conquest of Arab and Arab-held territory was defensive rather than aggressive conquest."

Judge Sir Elihu Lauterpacht wrote in 1968, one year after the 1967 Six-Day War:

"On 5th June, 1967, Jordan deliberately overthrew the Armistice Agreement by attacking the Israeli-held part of Jerusalem. There was no question of this Jordanian action being a reaction to any Israeli attack. It took place notwithstanding explicit Israeli assurances, conveyed to King Hussein through the U.N. Commander, that if Jordan did not attack Israel, Israel would not attack Jordan.

"Although the charge of aggression is freely made against Israel in relation to the Six-Days War the fact remains that the two attempts made in the General Assembly in June-July 1967 to secure the condemnation of Israel as an aggressor failed. A clear and striking majority of the members of the U.N. voted against the proposition that Israel was an aggressor."

Israel Has the Better Title to the Territory of Palestine, Including the Whole of Jerusalem

International law makes it clear: All of Israel's wars with its Arab neighbors were in self-defence.

Professor, Judge Schwebel, wrote in What Weight to Conquest:

"(a) a state [Israel] acting in lawful exercise of its right of self-defense may seize and occupy foreign territory as long as such seizure and occupation are necessary to its self-defense;
"(b) as a condition of its withdrawal from such territory, that State may require the institution of security measures reasonably designed to ensure that that territory shall not again be used to mount a threat or use of force against it of such a nature as to justify exercise of self-defense;
"(c) Where the prior holder of territory had seized that territory unlawfully, the state which subsequently takes that territory in the lawful exercise of self-defense has, against that prior holder, better title.
"... as between Israel, acting defensively in 1948 and 1967, on the one hand, and her Arab neighbors, acting aggressively, in 1948 and 1967, on the other, Israel has the better title in the territory of what was Palestine, including the whole of Jerusalem, than do Jordan and Egypt."

"No legal Right Shall Spring from a Wrong"

Professor Schwebel explains that the principle of "acquisition of territory by war is inadmissible" must be read together with other principles:

"... namely, that no legal right shall spring from a wrong, and the Charter principle that the Members of the United Nations shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State."

Simply stated: Arab illegal aggression against the territorial integrity and political independence of Israel, cannot and should not be rewarded.

Professor Julius Stone, a leading authority on the Law of Nations, stated:

"Territorial Rights Under International Law.... By their [Arab countries] armed attacks against the State of Israel in 1948, 1967, and 1973, and by various acts of belligerency throughout this period, these Arab states flouted their basic obligations as United Nations members to refrain from threat or use of force against Israel's territorial integrity and political independence. These acts were in flagrant violation inter alia of Article 2(4) and paragraphs (1), (2), and (3) of the same article."

Thus, under international law Israel acted lawfully by exercising its right to self-defence when it redeemed and legally reoccupied Judea and Samaria, known also as the West Bank.

Legalities aside, before 1967 there were no Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and for the first ten years of so-called occupation there were almost no Jewish settlers in the West Bank. And still there was no peace with the Palestinians. The notion that Jewish communities pose an obstacle to peace is a red herring designed to blame Israel for lack of progress in the 'Peace Process' and enable Palestinian leadership to continue to reject any form of compromise and reconciliation with Israel as a Jewish state.

Eli. E. Hertz


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

Partisan Gridlock Could “Devastate” Troops

by Max Boot

Deputy Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is absolutely right when he says of the looming defense “sequester”–$500 billion in defense cuts to be implemented during the next ten years, with $55 billion to be cut on Jan. 1, 2013—that it would “ have devastating effects on our readiness and our workforce, and disrupt thousands of contracts and programs.”

And those devastating cuts would not stop at the water’s edge. Even troops in combat would be hurt. The Pentagon has just admitted that Overseas Contingency Operations funds which are used to fund operations in Afghanistan would be cut, too. That would probably mean a cut of approximately 15 percent, or $13 billion, in supplemental funding of $88.5 billion for the next fiscal year. It is hard to imagine how U.S. troops or their Afghan allies could continue to operate at planned levels with 15 percent less in funding. It may be possible to cut support personnel here and there, but a lot of that has already been done on that score to accommodate the president’s caps on the number of troops permitted in Afghanistan.

Notwithstanding the preponderance of support personnel among U.S. troops in Afghanistan (or in any other theater), this will have a direct impact on combat capacity. There are scheduled to be 68,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan after September. If 15 percent less funding translates into 15 percent less troops (most likely the case) it would mean a cut of another 10,000 troops, the equivalent of two Brigade Combat Teams. Given the scarcity of combat personnel already being felt in Afghanistan, as commanders scramble to comply with the White House’s drawdown timetable, this could have serious consequences for the ability of NATO forces to maintain the progress made during the past two years.

Moreover, the contingency funds are also used to support Afghan security forces. A 15 percent cut in their ranks—soon to be 350,000—could result in the layoff of 52,000 soldiers and police. That is a huge number and could tilt the balance of power in favor of the Taliban in critical areas even as Afghan security forces are being asked to step into the lead. One consequence would be that the remaining U.S. troops still in Afghanistan would be in greater danger and could suffer higher casualties.

It is hard to imagine a more ill-advised idea than cutting funds for troops in combat—yet that is what will happen unless Congress can somehow agree on an alternative before Dec. 31. That seems increasingly unlikely to happen, however, because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid seems intent on extracting big tax increases from Republicans in return for turning off the sequester. Partisan gridlock on Capitol Hill, therefore, has the potential to “devastate” our fighting men and women even as they are on the front lines.

Max Boot


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

Middle East Media Sampler for May 30, 2012

by Daniel Goldstein

1) Stupid headline of the day

If it weren't so tragic, the headline Supporters and Critics of Annan See Crisis in Syria as a Threat to His Legacy would be hilarious. Look at how his career is summarized:

His diplomatic successes included the effort to repatriate hundreds of international staff and citizens of Western countries from Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. From 1995 to 1996, as under secretary for peacekeeping, he oversaw a difficult transition of that responsibility in Bosnia and Herzegovina from the United Nations to NATO. He is considered responsible for defusing a number of conflicts in Africa, notably a 2008 agreement that halted a civil war in Kenya.

But Mr. Annan also is known for having weathered some spectacular lapses. He led the United Nations peacekeeping operation when it failed to halt the Rwanda genocide in 1994 — for which he personally accepted some blame — and the Srebrenica massacre and the collapse of Somalia in 1995. The Darfur genocide in Sudan, which began in 2003, occurred on his watch as secretary general.

His career as secretary general was also marred by a corruption investigation into an oil-for-food program in Iraq administered by the United Nations. Although a panel of inquiry found that Mr. Annan had not influenced the awarding of a contract to the company that employed his son, Kojo, it criticized him for not looking more aggressively into that company’s United Nations ties.

"[D]iplomatic successes" on one hand; "spectacular lapses" on the other. Other would call those lapses, "failures."

Instapundit preserved a few key paragraphs from an expose of Annan that appeared in London's Sunday Times in October, 2006:

Srebrenica is rarely mentioned nowadays in Annan’s offices on the 38th floor of the UN secretariat building in New York. He steps down in December after a decade as secretary-general. His retirement will be marked by plaudits. But behind the honorifics and the accolades lies a darker story: of incompetence, mismanagement and worse. Annan was the head of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) between March 1993 and December 1996. The Srebrenica massacre of up to 8,000 men and boys and the slaughter of 800,000 people in Rwanda happened on his watch. In Bosnia and Rwanda, UN officials directed peacekeepers to stand back from the killing, their concern apparently to guard the UN’s status as a neutral observer. This was a shock to those who believed the UN was there to help them.

Annan’s term has also been marked by scandal: from the sexual abuse of women and children in the Congo by UN peacekeepers to the greatest financial scam in history, the UN-administered oil-for-food programme. Arguably, a trial of the UN would be more apt than a leaving party.

It's remarkable that Annan's failures as head of DPKO somehow qualified him to serve two terms as Secretary General. At the UN, apparently, nothing succeeds like failure.

The only way that his failure in Syria hurts his reputation is that the numbers of dead don't quite match the totals that his dereliction of duty caused in the 1990's. Yet.

Ehud Barak had a good line yesterday about Assad:

“I don’t think that Assad lost an hour of sleep last night because of those people leaving,” Mr. Barak said of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad. “More concrete action is required,” he added. “These are crimes against humanity and it’s impossible that the international community is going to stand aside.”

2) Stupid headline of the day II

The threat to global health from the hunt for bin Laden by David Ignatius

As an intelligence operation, it must have seemed like pure genius: Recruit a Pakistani doctor to collect blood samples that could identify Osama bin Laden’s family, under cover of an ongoing vaccination program. But as an ethical matter, it was something else.

The CIA’s vaccination gambit put at risk something very precious — the integrity of public health programs in Pakistan and around the globe. It also added to the dangers facing nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in a world that’s increasingly hostile to U.S. aid organizations.

I might be sympathetic to this argument if the countries where American NGO's were endangered weren't actively spreading hatred of America and helping America's enemies. There are plenty of imagined conspiracy theories out there alleging America's evil intent. This is simply an effort to obscure Pakistan's role as America's enemy.

3) The tunnels of Gaza

A new New York Times correspondent tells of her tour of a tunnel going into Gaza:

As I stepped onto three wobbly bricks leading into the tunnel, the first thing I heard was “Watch your head.” This phrase would be repeated many times during the 1,000-foot walk to the Gaza side. After about the 10th warning, I yelled up the tunnel, “I’m much more worried about being bombed than grazing my head!” My guide, who, like the others I spoke with here, refused to give his name for fear of the authorities, guffawed. It took him half a minute to recover from the “ridiculousness” of my concern.

“This is our life,” said one of the workers, his face iced in a layer of white dust. “Life is expensive, and Rafah is even more high-priced than Cairo. So we are forced to work and live underground.”

Despite her regularly expressed fear of being bombed, according to an earlier account from the Times, there is evidence, that Israel knew which tunnels aren't used for munitions:

But with the Israeli bombing, and, unspoken, the heavy Egyptian police and military presence that the crisis has meant for the town, the tunnel trade has stopped for now, the residents said. “Nothing is going in now,” said Nader Sayed, 28. “It’s impossible now.”

Hamas, the residents said, controls other tunnels, conduits for guns, cement, explosives and fertilizers for explosives.

Muhammad al-Zarb said that the Israelis somehow seemed to know which tunnels were commercial and which were run by Hamas, and that they seemed to be selective in their bombing. “If someone has a tunnel for Chipsy, it seems O.K.,” he said. “When a Hamas guy has a tunnel for weapons, they bomb it.”

If the new correspondent seems to have a flair for the dramatic, it could be that she's had a previous career as an activist, as CIF Watch documents: (h/t Daled Amos)

When Ruqaya Izzidien is not minimizing the threats posed by radical Islam, or decrying European Islamophobia, for the English website of the Muslim Brotherhood, blogging for the extreme anti-Israel site Mondoweiss, or contributing to Al Jazeera, she serves as the UK correspondent for Bikyamasr, an online magazine which focuses on “Egypt and the region” – a site which has, on the sidebar of their home page , a “resistance to occupation” video …

4) Oh! To be a ZOG!

Barry Rubin recommends this interview with Edward Luttwak. There's a lot to read and learn, but I loved this exchange:

There have been many different explanations given over the past 10 years for the strength of the American-Israeli relationship, ranging from the idea that Israel has the best and most immediately deployable army in the Middle East, to the idea that a small cabal of wealthy and influential Jews has hijacked American foreign policy.

You mean the Z.O.G.? The Zionist Occupied Government?


Personally, from an emotional point of view, myself, as me, I prefer the Z.O.G. explanation above all others. I love the idea that the Zionists have sufficient power to actually occupy America, and through America to basically run the world. I love the idea of being a member of a secretive and powerful cabal. If you put my name Luttwak together with Perle and Wolfowitz and you search the Internet, you will get this little list of people who run the American government and the world, and I’m on it. I love that.

Daniel Goldstein is a media critic and recovering blogger. He has been critiquing media bias against Israel since his first letter to the editor in 1987.


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

A Raging Prairie Fire of Lies

by Jon N. Hall

In her Right Turn blog at The Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin reports that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney recently told Iowans a "prairie fire of debt is sweeping across Iowa and our nation and every day we fail to act that fire gets closer to the homes and children we love." Romney then went on to say that rather than putting out the fire, President Obama has fed it.

These statements provided material for Jim Morin, political cartoonist for The Miami Herald, whose May 17 cartoon shows Mr. Romney standing before a giant conflagration declaring: "A raging prairie fire of debt is sweeping across the land and I know how to stop it!!" In Romney's hands is a can of gasoline emblazoned with (what else?): "Bush Tax Cuts."

And so Morin becomes another dupe of the administration spreading the notion that were it not for the "Bush tax cuts for the rich" we'd have a balanced budget. But the truth is, those tax rate cuts can't even account for 10 percent of this year's estimated $1.3T deficit.

To prove this, let's take the top rate under Clinton and round it up to an even 40 percent. Such a rate would add an extra 14.2 percent in individual income tax revenue (using a static analysis). For the sake of illustration, let's round up again and say our "revenue enhancement" will be an even 15 percent.

Now, let's take the total estimated individual income tax revenue for fiscal 2012 and round that up to an even $1.2T (Table 2.1 of Historical Tables). Multiplying that by 0.15 would give us $180 billion of additional revenue. But that would mean everyone would be paying at a higher tax rate. Even mean old Republicans don't want to tax middle- and working-class folks more. So let's confine our 40 percent tax rate to the top 5 percent of taxpayers. The most that that cohort has paid in recent years is about 60 percent of total income tax revenue, which would get us to $108 billion in additional revenue, or less than 10 percent of our deficit this year.

But what kind of income does it take to get into the top 5 percent? According to the National Taxpayers Union, it took just $154,643 of "Adjusted Gross Income" (or AGI) in 2009 to get into the top 5 percent. Not even Obama wants to hike taxes on those folks. Here's the kicker: to get into the top 1 percent of taxpayers in 2009 took an AGI of only $343,927. The largest share of total income tax revenue that the top 1 percent has ever contributed is about 40 percent. Therefore, if Congress were to confine our 40 percent tax rate to the "evil" top 1 percent, they'd bring in $72 billion in additional revenue in 2012, an increase of less than 6 percent.

So the administration's official line (dutifully echoed by the mainstream media) that the deficit is due to the so-called "Bush tax cuts" -- is a crock. In "Bush's tax cuts didn't get us in this mess" at Chicago Sun-Times on May 28, Steve Huntley writes:

Conflating the housing bust and the Bush tax cuts is a way to distract the voters from the failure of the administration's nearly trillion-dollar stimulus and other policies to right the economy. Distraction is also the goal of attacking Romney's record at the equity firm Bain Capital by focusing on its few failures. The actual Bain record is one of 80 percent success in rescuing ailing firms and building new businesses, adding jobs and creating wealth for investors, millions of them in public pension funds.

America's "raging prairie fire of debt" is primarily due to the lousy economy. The economy's stagnation means less revenue for government and more spending, for unemployment benefits, food stamps, etc. As to how to fix the economy, President Obama is utterly clueless.

Jon N. Hall is a programmer/analyst from Kansas City.


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

Mystery Religion: Mr. Obama's Contradictory Conversions to Christianity

by Jason Kissner

Reasonable people will agree that much of Mr. Obama's biography is not exactly an open book. Many things about him are unknown because they remain undisclosed, and much that has been disclosed leaves many questions unanswered at the same time as new ones are raised.

This article concerns something about Mr. Obama's life history that, to the best of my knowledge, has not yet been explored -- even though what is about to be discussed is, ironically, an "open book."

Readers are about to learn that Mr. Obama has supplied two completely contradictory accounts regarding the time frame of his conversion to Christianity.

Startlingly, Mr. Obama has adhered to a story that says he converted to Christianity sometime around 1987-88 as well as a story that says he converted in the early 1990s. Readers will see that this is easily verified with information the documentation of which cannot be contested.

Thus, unsurprisingly, part of what follows involves yet more dereliction of duty on behalf of the MSM. It also involves, though, questions about Mr. Obama's two autobiographies.

Dr. Jack Cashill has raised what many consider very good questions as to who really authored Mr. Obama's autobiographies. With respect to this issue, this article takes the stance that since Mr. Obama has never disavowed authorship, when it turns out that the autobiographies both contain and omit information that is detrimental to Mr. Obama's interests, reasonable people will hold Mr. Obama himself responsible.

So when did Mr. Obama actually convert to Christianity? Let's begin with the 1987-88 possibility. Mr. Obama, in an April 5, 2004 Chicago Sun-Times interview with Cathleen Falsani, says he went up for the altar call in Wright's church "16, 17 years ago. 1987 or 88."

It is hoped that readers will here forgive their writer a very brief aside that they may find interesting.

In response to Ms. Falsani's inquiry "what is sin," Mr. Obama replies with "being out of alignment with my values [emphasis added]."

Does this fit Christian doctrine? Those who have read Friedrich Nietzsche, the German philosopher and "Good European," will surely recognize that this kind of sentiment abounds in the man whose writings constituted works such as The Gay Science, The Will to Power, and The Anti-Christ. Is this a mere coincidence? Maybe, but please observe that in David Mendell's biography of Mr. Obama, entitled "Obama: From Promise to Power," Mendell indicates that Mr. Obama not only read, "but devoured the writings of Nietzsche" (p.61). "Devoured" is a powerful word, is it not?

In any event, guess what: Mr. Obama is not the only one who has placed his formal commitment to Christianity in the 1987-1988 time frame.

Jeremiah Wright ought to know when the president professed his formal commitment to Christianity in response to one of Wright's own altar calls, right? Wright is featured in a February 8, 2005 article by Emily Udell in In These Times magazine, entitled "Keeping the Faith." There, we have the statement that Obama "publicly affirmed his faith about 16 years ago when he heeded Wright's altar call at TUCC."

And let's not forget the president's half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng. In an April 30, 2007 article in the New York Times by Jodi Kantor, Soetoro-Ng indicates that Mr. Obama was baptized in 1988, the year of Wright's "audacity of hope" sermon. Furthermore, Ng says in a subsequent January 20, 2008 New York Times Magazine article by Deborah Solomon that Mr. Obama "has been a Christian for 20 years." Next, we have a webpage at the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia, which states that the commander-in-chief was baptized in 1988.

We're not through yet. A January 21, 2007 Chicago Tribune article by Manya A. Brachear extols Wright as the inspirer of Obama's "audacity" and states that "[w]hen Obama sought his own church community, he felt increasingly home at Trinity. Before leaving for Harvard Law School in 1988, he responded to one of Wright's altar calls and declared a personal relationship with Jesus Christ."

The 1988 date sure keeps popping up, doesn't it? All told, in regard to the notion that the date of the president's formal profession of the Christian faith was 1988, we have the president's own 2004 statement that it was (although he also says it could have been 1987; one guesses he couldn't pinpoint the year of his formal profession of faith precisely in the interview, which in itself is intriguing because that means he could not (1) relate it to Wright's audacity sermon, which, as will see shortly, Mr. Obama himself says took place in 1988, not 1987, nor could he (2) relate it to a momentous event in Chicago -- Mayor Harold Washington's demise, which occurred on November 25, 1987 and which Mr. Obama notes on page 285 of Dreams), Wright's 2005 belief that it was, the president's half-sister's 2007 and 2008 declarations, the Miller Center's 2010 claim that it was, and the Chicago Tribune's 2007 statement.

However, Mr. Obama would also have us believe that he converted to Christianity not in 1988, but in the early 1990s. Turning now to a July 16, 2007 Christian Science Monitor article entitled "Barack Obama: Putting Faith Out Front" by Ariel Sabar, we are told that Mr. Obama formally committed to the Christian faith four years after Wright's 1988 "audacity of hope" sermon. The difference between 1988 and 1992 is pretty consequential, particularly when the interim is composed largely of Obama's matriculation through Harvard Law.

Next, in a July 11, 2008 Newsweek article by Lisa Miller entitled "Finding his Faith" and featuring quotes from Mr. Obama, we are told that Mr. Obama was baptized in the early 1990s.

What gives? Because we have two different time frames to consider with respect to Mr. Obama's supposed declaration of faith, we shall have to explore each possibility. We will see that there are serious obstacles to overcome if one is to accept either.

It proves important to hear Mr. Obama tell of lingering outside right after the meeting with a Reverend Phillips (and is anyone absolutely sure who this person is -- perhaps Phillips is another composite?) with thoughts that he (Obama, not Phillips) wouldn't "hear back from law schools until January" (Dreams from My Father, p. 275), since it allows us to get a fix on certain timing issues in regard to Obama's encounters with Phillips and Wright, as well as when the "audacity of hope" sermon was delivered.

Mr. Obama's first year at Harvard Law School was 1988, and he entered in the fall semester; therefore, he is, in all likelihood, referring to January of 1988. In fact, he later says he received his acceptance from Harvard in February 1988 (Dreams from My Father, p.289), and it is only, he says, after receiving the letter that he heard Wright's "audacity of hope" sermon (Dreams from my Father, p.293-295). This implies, you will agree, that Mr. Obama is saying that he heard the sermon in 1988, which is what his half-sister told the NY Times on two separate occasions.

Now, suppose something which is in all likelihood true: Mr. Obama submitted his application to Harvard no more than a year before he received his acceptance. In that case, we have him talking to Phillips, in all likelihood, sometime in early 1987 (conceivably somewhat later). As for Wright, Mr. Obama says that he spoke with other pastors after the Phillips conversation, and several referred him to Wright, just as Phillips did. So, time to pay Jeremiah a call, right?

After discussing the reviews Wright received in the Chicago pastoral community, Mr. Obama says that "[t]oward the end of October I finally got a chance to pay Reverend Wright a visit and see the church for myself" (Dreams from My Father, p.280). So Mr. Obama met Wright in October 1987, after having met Phillips earlier that year. Now have a gander at this skeptical musing of the president's, which occurred to him while lingering in his automobile, smoking a cigarette, after the Phillips conversation:

I glanced up now at the small, second-story window of the church, imagining the old pastor inside, drafting his sermon for the week. Where did you faith come from, he had asked. It suddenly occurred to me that I didn't have an answer. Perhaps, still, I had faith in myself. But faith in oneself was never enough. (Dreams from my Father, p.279)

Next, consider another musing of Mr. Obama's that he says occurred sometime after he first met Reverend Wright in October 1987. In response to questions as to when he is going to join a church, Mr. Obama reflects:

And I would shrug the question off, unable to confess that I could no longer distinguish between faith and mere folly, between faith and simple endurance; that while I believed in the sincerity I heard in their voices, I remained a reluctant skeptic, doubtful of my own motives, wary of expedient conversion, having too many quarrels with God to accept a salvation too easily won. (Dreams from My Father, p. 286-287)

If one remembers that Obama is thinking this sometime in late 1987, one begins to wonder how one can avoid serious -- if you'll forgive the word -- skepticism in regard to the president's professed 1987/1988 religious conversion to Christianity.

Let's develop that last notion by going back to the April 5, 2004 Chicago Sun-Times interview with Falsani. In that interview, the president explicitly says that he answered the altar call in '87 or '88 via a "gradual process." If Obama answered Wright's call and was baptized in 1988 upon having heard the "audacity sermon," as the president's half-sister says, as other sources quoted above say, and as the president in 2004 said was one of two possibilities, how, in view of the above documented quotations, could his purported conversion to Christianity possibly be described as gradual? The answer is that it can't, which raises yet another issue as to Obama's sincerity.

Next, recollect that in the Chicago Sun-Times interview, the president himself was uncertain as to whether the baptism he claimed took place in Wright's church occurred in 1987 or 1988. If it really did occur in 1987, it clearly had nothing to do with Wright's "audacity" sermon, since that happened in 1988, before Obama went to Harvard (and a 1987 baptism would also contradict Obama's half-sister's account).

If we now direct our attention solely to the prospect that Obama sincerely answered Wright's call to the altar in 1988 after the "audacity of hope" sermon, then, in addition to the direct evidence of unwavering, confessed skepticism in late 1987 that militates against the president's claim that his conversion to Christianity was gradual, there is the fact that nowhere in Dreams from my Father, which was first published in 1995, is there any mention of the baptism. There is, however, a long description of Wright's "audacity" sermon in the book. But rather than offering an account of the presumptively ensuing heeding of the call to the altar, the "Chicago" section of the book concludes with the Wright sermon, and then we are whisked away to Kenya.

If Mr. Obama's baptism was sincere and happened in 1988 soon after he heard the "audacity" sermon, there's absolutely no reason why Obama would not have mentioned it (if he thinks it is the kind of thing that should be mentioned) in Dreams from my Father, is there? And if the explanation is said to be that he doesn't think it is something that should be mentioned, why does he mention it in 2006's Audacity of Hope, and then without assigning a date to it?

In sum, if, in spite of the other inconsistencies, you believe that the president sincerely converted to Christianity in 1987 or 1988, you are, at a minimum, going to have to believe he was prevaricating when, in 2004, he said that he came to believe in God gradually. The 1987 staunch skepticism seems to require that assessment.

Now let's turn to the Newsweek and Christian Science Monitor prospect that the president's formal commitment to the Christian faith was in the early '90s. First, recall that the president himself says in the 2004 Chicago Sun-Times interview that his formal profession of faith was in '87 or '88. Furthermore, there is no evidence in the 2005 In These Times article that Wright thought anything like this happened in the early '90s.

If Obama walked down the aisle and knelt at the cross in response to Wright's altar call in the early '90s, why doesn't either of them say so in 2004 or 2005, and why does Obama expressly declare in 2004 that the event took place in 1987 or 1988 and say nothing about the date of the supposed response to the altar call in 2006?

Furthermore, three to four years after the Sun-Times interview, we observe statements in the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek suggesting that the president would have us believe that in 2004 he couldn't tell the difference among 1987, 1988, and the early 1990s!

In view of the foregoing, what reason is there at all to believe Obama's claim that he sincerely professed belief in God in Wright's church in the early 1990s? And, if we accept that he did, it would contradict the 1987/1988 assertions, and then what are we supposed to make of those?

When we emerge from the labyrinth, we can conclude as follows: Mr. Obama has adhered to two contradictory time frames as to when he converted to Christianity, and no matter which time frame one considers accepting, one encounters facts that make accepting the time frame very challenging for a rational person.

Therefore, one is rational to conclude that Mr. Obama's true relationship to religion, if indeed he has one, is, like so much else about him, a mystery.

In any event, people the world over now know that whatever the truth on this issue may be, it is necessarily one that is consistent with the idea that the federal government has the power to compel certain religious institutions and people to supply contraceptives against their most deeply held convictions.

Is surgical abortion next?

Jason Kissner, Ph.D., J.D. is associate professor of criminology, California State University, Fresno.


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

Islamizing the Temple Mount

by Giulio Meotti

It’s the House of God. For centuries, Jews have remembered the destruction of the holy Temple in Jerusalem by crushing a glass at weddings or leaving unpainted a patch of wall in their homes. The Temple Mount is the magnificent edifice that has served the faithful as a symbol of God’s glory for 4,000 years. It’s Mount Moriah mentioned in the Book of Genesis. It’s the site where humanity received the gift of monotheism. It’s where God’s “shechina,” or presence, dwelt. Even the secular imagination, Jewish or not, has been shaped by the “Holy of Holies,” the most sacred site of the Jewish people. It’s there that King David raised a sanctuary for the Ark of the Covenant and King Solomon and Herod built the Temples. The Roman emperor Hadrian covered those ruins with a pagan temple to Jupiter; the Crusaders used it as a garbage dump to defile its Jewish significance and turned the area into a stable for their horses; the Arabs later built their own Islamic holy sites on top of those of their defeated enemy.

Many devout Jews today don’t set foot on the Temple Mount, afraid that they may be stepping on the ground covering the ruins of the Holy of Holies, allowed only to the High Priest on Yom Kippur. That is enough to keep them away. But there are those who believe they have a right to pray on the grounds where the Temple stood, particularly on Tisha be’Av, the anniversary of its destruction (Maimonides too prayed there). Though many respected rabbis forbid praying on the Mount, other very important Jewish leaders permit it. And there is a growing and brave movement, led by Rabbi Yisrael Ariel and Professor Hillel Weiss, which is trying to build awareness among the Israeli public on the Temple Mount. They are leading a historic battle for the rights of the Jews in their most holy site.

In theory, Israel currently controls the Temple Mount. In reality, since 1967, when the Israeli army seized the “holy basin” from Jordanian forces, the Jewish State gave up religious freedom for the Jews. Immediately after the liberation of Jerusalem, then Minister of Defense Moshe Dayan handed over the keys of the Temple Mount to the Waqf, the Muslim religious trust that serves as custodian of the site, which includes four Muslim minarets.

Historically it should be noted that only under Israeli rule was the site open for everyone, Muslims, Christians and Jews. The Islamic Waqf is now attempting to deliberately destroy all evidence of Jewish claims to this site, while using terror and intimidation to impose its exclusive claim to the sacred mountain. The Waqf has proceeded on two fronts: de-Judaize the Mount by archeological destruction and to Islamize it by preventing the Jews from praying there.

Freedom of worship for all religions, including free access to the holy places of all faiths, has always been a cardinal principle of Israel. And by and large, Israel has honored this principle, even under extremely difficult circumstances. It is ironic that Judaism’s holiest site should be the only place in Israel where this principle is violated.

Nothing justifies the infringement of religious rights to the Temple Mount. That infringement undermines respect for the rule of law in Israel by making a mockery of the law that guarantees freedom for all faiths. The Islamic Waqf has removed every sign of ancient Jewish presence at the site. At the entrance, an Arab sign says: “The Al-Aqsa Mosque courtyard and everything in it is Islamic property.” Today, Jews are barred from praying on the Mount and are not even allowed to carry any holy articles with them. With Muslim clerics supervising visits, Israeli police have frequently arrested Jews for various violations, such as singing or reciting a prayer even in a whisper.

A few days ago Israeli police issued new draconian instructions for non-Muslims who ascend to the Mount. Non-Muslims are now not even permitted to close their eyes while on the Mount or do anything that could be interpreted as praying. Jewish women have been arrested following claims by police and Waqf officials that they were praying on Temple Mount.

Why is it a crime for a Jew to mention God’s name on Temple Mount? And why is the State of Israel complicit in enforcing this anti-Semitic rule?

Lies are obsessive: the Jews, said late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, have never been in Jerusalem and the Temple never existed. This canard has been repeated ever since. Chief Palestinian Justice Sheik Taysir Tamimi declared that the Jewish temples “never existed.” In October 1990, the mere sight of a dozen would-be Jewish worshipers (who had actually been turned away) triggered a blood-drenched Temple Mount riot. The Hebrew language dailies Yediot Aharonot and Arutz Sheva recently revealed that Israel’s “valuable remnants from the two Jewish Temples were thrown away to an improvised garbage dump by members of the Waqf.” Most of the damage was done to the underground space that the Crusaders had termed “Solomon’s Stables.” Located under the Mount’s surface, it was used by ancient Temple priests to store vestments and items. The small room is now used for Muslim prayer. Israeli authorities did not negate the Waqf’s proposal to convert the “stables” into an Islamic praying area, called a “massalam.” An underground chamber with two pillars and an arch from the Second Temple period has already been turned into a mosque, and there are rumors of plans to unify the mosques so as to cover the entire outdoor area. The Waqf also destroyed stonework done by Jewish artisans 2,000 years ago in the underground “double passageway.” The Israeli authorities bowed to the Waqf’s desire to create an emergency exit, only to find that the Islamic body had punched through the outside wall of the Temple Mount.

As early as 1970, the Waqf destroyed the eastern wall of the Herodian Temple complex. Other severe episodes of archeological destruction took place in 1999 and 2007. It was the most massive movement of earth on the Temple Mount in recent times. Remnants of the archeological record have been fished from the Kidron Valley stream bed where the Waqf dumped the earth it removed from the Mount. Instead of working its way down through the site under the close supervision of Israeli archaeologists, the Waqf sent in bulldozers and then trucks to remove the earth by the ton-load. Much of the damage cannot be reversed.

A wall from the outer courtyard of the Second Temple is believed to have been completely pulverized. According to Gabi Barkai, recipient of the Jerusalem Prize for Archaeology, the dirt in the surrounding area is filled with Jewish history from many periods: the Canaanites, the First Temple, the period of the return to Zion from Babylonia, the Second Temple, including the Hashmonaim period and King Herod, and up to now. Finds have included fragments of stone decorated with ornaments from the Second Temple Period, arrowheads from Nebuchadnezzar’s army and also from the Romans, as well as coins and decorations from many periods, jewelry made of various materials, stone and glass squares from floor and wall mosaics. Among the most exciting finds were seal rings, ostracons written in ancient Hebrew script, terra-cotta figurines and a bronze coin dating to the Great Revolt against the Romans bearing the Hebrew phrase, “Freedom of Zion.” The list of the treasures include pot shards, pendants, rings, bracelets, earrings and beads, amulets, icons and statuettes, decorated wall hangings and fragments of decorations from buildings, seals and many other items. The most striking find was a seal impression with letters in the ancient Hebrew script of the last days of the First Temple.

While the Waqf would never allow an archaeological dig on the site, its own destruction continues unabated. The intention is to turn the 36-acre Temple Mount compound into an exclusively Islamic site by erasing every remnant and memory of its Jewish past. It’s an archaeological crime which has been called “cultural Holocaust.” That’s why there is the urgent need of an international campaign aimed to protect Jerusalem’s most holy site. This is the most important battle to any cultured person, regardless of his political and religious identity. It’s the biggest crime against truth.

Giulio Meotti


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

"Islam to Topple Man-made Democracy"

by Soeren Kern

Leaders of the group say the purpose of Belgium's first Sharia Law court is to create a parallel legal system to challenge the state's authority as the enforcer of the civil law protections guaranteed by the Belgian constitution.

Police in Amsterdam have arrested the spokesperson of the Islamist group Sharia4Holland on charges of making death threats against the Dutch Freedom Party leader, Geert Wilders.

Abu Qasim was arrested after a speech he gave in Amsterdam's central Dam Square on May 25 (video in Dutch here), when he warned that Wilders would be "dealt with" once the Netherlands became an Islamic state.

Qasim also called Wilders "this dog of the Romans" and -- referring to the Dutch filmmaker and Islam critic who was murdered by a Dutch-Moroccan Muslim in 2004 -- warned that Wilders should learn lessons from "the case of Theo van Gogh."

Amsterdam's multiculturally-minded police initially refused to intervene in the case. Although making death threats is a criminal offense in Holland, police instead arrested a passer-by who tried to challenge the Sharia4Holland speaker.

Qasim was not arrested until three days after the event, after local politician Robert Flos, speaking on AT5 television, asked Amsterdam's left-wing mayor, Eberhard van der Laan, why city police did not intervene when Qasim threatened Wilders with death.

Qasim, a 29-year-old Islamist who lives in the central Dutch city of Woerden, is now scheduled to appear in court on July 11.

Sharia4Holland -- and its Siamese twin Sharia4Belgium -- is a radical Muslim movement that wants to impose Islamic Sharia law in the Netherlands, Belgium and the rest of Europe. Over the past several months, Sharia4Holland and Sharia4Belgium have become increasingly belligerent in their appeals to fellow Muslims to overthrow the democratic order in Europe.

Dutch Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten, in testimony to the Dutch Parliament on May 29, said that radical Muslims are becoming more provocative and activist and "there is a risk that Sharia4Holland supporters could cross the line and use violence."

In December 2011, the Dutch Intelligence Service AIVD said it was concerned about the rapid radicalization of Sharia4Holland. AIVD issued the advisory after Sharia4Belgium released a video in which the Belgian Islamist Sheik Abu Imran (aka Fouad Belkacem, who is Sharia4Belgium's main spokesman) declared that the black flag of Islamic Jihad will "soon be flying on top of all the palaces in Europe."

The December 11 video, which has been translated into English by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), shows Imran dressed in military camouflage calling for the destruction of the Atomium, a monument in Brussels that is the national symbol of Belgium.

Imran says: "This is a short message to the King of Belgium and specifically to the Muslims in Belgium. This is the flag [black flag of jihad] that, Allah willing, will soon be flying on top of that building over there [the Belgian royal palace]. There you see the flag [Belgian flag] of the Taghut [idolaters], the infidels, and soon the flag of 'there is no god but Allah' will be flying there, on top of that palace, and on top of all the other palaces in Europe, until Allah willing, we reach the White House…We will not rest, we will not stop, until this flag flies on top of that building [the royal palace]."

The video then continues from another location in Brussels -- directly in front of the Atomium. Imran says: "We can see nowadays how people are taking photos, and how people from all over Brussels and from all over Europe, come here for what is called 'tourism' and take photos of this monument. They hold on to this monument. On top, you can see the Belgian flag. This monument is a symbol of Belgium…Soon, Belgium will fall apart. May Allah disperse them and their country. Amen. Then this symbol will be useless to them."

In September, Sharia4Belgium established Belgium's first Islamic Sharia law court in Antwerp, the second-largest city in the country. Leaders of the group say the purpose of the court is to create a parallel Islamic legal system in Belgium to challenge the state's authority as the enforcer of the civil law protections guaranteed by the Belgian constitution.

The self-appointed Muslim judges running the Islamic Sharia court apply Islamic law, rather than the secular Belgian Family Law system, to resolve disputes involving questions of marriage and divorce, child custody and child support, as well as all inheritance-related matters.

Unlike Belgian civil law, Islamic Sharia law does not guarantee equal rights for men and women; critics of the Sharia court say it will undermine the rights of Muslim women in marriage and education. Sharia4Belgium says the court in Antwerp will eventually expand its remit and handle criminal cases as well.

On May 4, the Criminal Court of Antwerp convicted Imran/Belkacem to two years in prison (one of them suspended) on charges of inciting hatred against non-Muslims. Among other infractions, Belkacem was found guilty of harassing Frank Vanhecke, widower of the late Marie-Rose Morel, the former president of Vlaams Belang, a Belgian anti-immigration party. After she died of cancer in February 2011, Belkacem said her illness was "a punishment from Allah."

On May 5, the day on which the Netherlands celebrates its liberation from Nazi Germany in 1945, about 20 members of Sharia4Holland and its twin Sharia4Belgium gathered in front of the maximum security prison in the southern Dutch municipality of Vught to demand the "liberation" of Mohammed Bouyeri, the Muslim who murdered Theo van Gogh.

Sharia4Holland argued that Dutch Liberation Day is a "hypocritical festival" because the Dutch celebrate while countless "innocent" Muslims are held in their prisons. According to Sharia4Holland, these Muslims are robbed of their freedom, families and of any social contact.

Dutch prisons are, in fact, teeming with Muslim inmates. According to a recent report commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Interior, 40% of Moroccan immigrants in the Netherlands between the ages of 12 and 24 have been arrested, fined, charged or otherwise accused of committing a crime during the past five years.

In December 2011, a mob of some 20 members of Sharia4Belgium stormed a debate in Amsterdam that was featuring two Muslim liberals, the Canadian writer and Muslim feminist Irshad Manji and the Dutch-Moroccan Green Left MP Tofik Dibi.

The mob shouted "Allahu Akbar!" ("Allah is Greater!") and threatened to break Manji's neck. Waving an Islamist jihadist flag, they then demanded that Manji and Dibi be executed for apostasy.

The debate on how liberal Muslims can prevent Islam from being hijacked by Muslim extremists was held at the De Baile venue in downtown Amsterdam, and was sponsored by the Brussels-based European Foundation for Democracy. The event resumed after police arrested several of the Islamists.

In April 2010, 40 members of Sharia4Belgium disrupted a speech about Islam by the Dutch author Benno Barnard. The lecture, entitled "The Islam Debate: Long Live God, Down with Allah!," was part of a series of talks about the Enlightenment at Antwerp University.

According to Abu Qasim, the spokesman for Sharia4Holland: "Better times will come as promised. The Muslims will [confront] this cancer of man-made laws called democracy and eradicate it. Destroy it root and branch, as far as Islam allows us, or Islam orders us to. Sharia is by far the only solution, it is the only rival left to topple democracy. Now, the Westerners and the Dutch around us and who do not know their history, they think that Sharia is something foreign…Even if the disbelievers hate it, even if the pagans hate it. Even if democrats or secularists hate it. Sharia for Holland is a given: it is a given fact."

Soeren Kern is Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook.


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

"SILEX": Iran's Undetectable Nuclear Enrichment Technology?

by David P. Goldman

"Laser uranium enrichment is so attractive that that it will be implemented --- and Iran will become the test case. What must be demanded is the complete opening of the country to appropriate inspection. Anything else would be too little – much too little." Hans Ruhle

German nuclear weapons expert Hans Rühle warned in the daily Die Welt May 21 that Iran can enrich uranium using laser technology that is much harder to detect than centrifuges. Rühle headed the German Defense Ministry's policy planning staff during the 1980s. In a widely-discussed commentary last February 17, he argued that Israel has the capacity to cripple Iran's nuclear weapons program. He also presented evidence in Die Welt that Iran may have tested a nuclear weapon in North Korea.

"Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadihejad announced in 2010 the 'good nuclear news' that Iran then possessed laser technology for uranium enrichment. Iran would not use this technology immediately, Ahmadinejad insisted, but his extremely positive characterization of the new technological option casts strong doubt on Iran's intentions and suggests that Iran's voluntary restraint on enrichment is an attempt at diversion," Rühle wrote in his May 21 analysis.

"Laser enrichment is the silver bullet in this field," Rühle continues. "By the estimate of Australia's leading expert, laser enrichment is sixteen times more efficient than earlier enrichment technologies. This begs the question of why this sensational enrichment procedure was not put into effect earlier. The answer is that laser enrichment was long considered to be the technology of the future, too expensive and complicated for practical application."

As an alternative to mechanical separation of fissile uranium-235 through centrifuges, laser separation has been used experimentally since the 1960s, without bringing the new technique into industrial application. But the major nuclear powers had little incentive to invest in a new technology, Rühle argues, because their centrifuge installations could enrich uranium at comparatively low cost.

All that changed in 2006, Rühle adds, when an Australian laser enrichment technology, the "SILEX" method, began official tests. A billion-dollar laser enrichment facility is planned in the United States, large enough to provide enough fuel for 60 large reactors filling the energy needs of 60 million households. The facility could also produce enough highly-enriched uranium for 1,000 warheads per year.

Iran may have acquired laser enrichment technology from Russia, Rühle argues, starting with support for Iran's nuclear weapons program under agreements dating back to the Yeltsin administration. "It was no great surprise," Rühle argues, "that in the spring of 2000, America's spy services discovered a pilot program for laser enrichment between Iran and the D.V.-Efremov Institute in St. Petersburg. American diplomats at the time demanded that Russia cease this activity, on the stated grounds that "there can be no doubt that this installation can and will be turned to military nuclear applications in no time at all."

The project came up in talks between Presidents Clinton and Putin in September 2000, Rühle reports, and the Russians assured the American side that the project would be suspended pending an investigation: "That was a favorite Russian formula to remove controversial issues from current discussions and avoid potentially disadvantageous decisions, while shifting the project quietly to industrial and scientific institutes."

Ahmadinejad's boast that Iran possesses laser enrichment technology has a factual background, Rühle concludes. During the past year, the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency has demanded on several occasions that Iran explain its laser enrichment program, with no response from the Iranian side.

If Iran has acquired this technology, it can enrich uranium far more cheaply and quickly, in inconspicuous facilities that are far harder to detect than centrifuge installations, Rühle warns. Laser enrichment requires a quarter of the physical space and much less energy than centrifuges. "For the international community's negotiations with Iran, this implies that what must be demanded is the complete opening of the country to appropriate inspection. Anything else would be too little—much too little."

Both in Germany and the United States, Rühle adds, the professional associations of nuclear physicists have warned about the consequences of uncontrolled dissemination of "SILEX" laser enrichment technology. "Despite all the experience of the preceding decades, this warning went heard," Rühle concludes. "Laser uranium enrichment is so attractive that it will be implemented—and Iran could become the test case."

David P. Goldman


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

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bold Bill in Senate to Stop Palestinian ‘Refugee’ Scam

by P. David Hornik

The US Senate Appropriations Committee has approved an important amendment to a bill. Proposed by Republican Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois, the amendment would change the definition of “Palestinian refugee” such that the number of people now given that status would shrink from about five million to about thirty thousand.

The U.S. currently contributes annually about $250 million of the approximately $600 million budget of UNRWA, the UN agency that provides housing, education, and welfare to Palestinian “refugees.” The U.S. has funneled a total of $4.4 billion to UNRWA since it was founded in 1948.

Under the Kirk amendment, the funding to those no longer considered refugees would not necessarily end; they could be defined as poverty cases. But only the thirty thousand, instead of five million, would still be designated as refugees.

What explains the vast differential in numbers? Before and during Israel’s 1948-49 War for Independence, about 650,000 Palestinian Arabs (many of them very recent immigrants from other Arab countries) left the territories that became Israel. About thirty thousand of them are still alive today.

But in 1965 and 1982, UNRWA made decisions—unique in history, never applied to any other refugee population in the world—to define children and grandchildren, too, of displaced Palestinians as “refugees.” Hence the swelled numbers of today, with “refugees” kept in “camps” in Syria,Lebanon, Jordan, and even the Palestinian Authority. Jonathan Schanzer notes that, according to a study, if this situation persists their number will reach fifteen million by 2050.

Why define so many people as “refugees,” and why keep them in “camps” indefinitely? The answer, as Shoshana Bryen notes, was given in an interview to Lebanon’s Daily Star by the Palestinian ambassador to Lebanon, Abdullah Abdullah.

Abdullah told the Daily Star “unequivocally” that even if a Palestinian state were to be established in the West Bank and Gaza—that is, the much-vaunted “two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”—the Palestinian refugees “would not become citizens” of it. The reason is that “The state is the 1967 borders, but the refugees are not only from the 1967 borders. The refugees are from all over Palestine.”

And: “How the issue of the right of return will be solved I don’t know…but it is a sacred right that has to be dealt with…. [Statehood] will never affect the right of return for Palestinian refugees.” And: “even Palestinian refugees who are living…inside the [Palestinian] state, they are still refugees. They will not be considered citizens.”

In other words: the reason for keeping so many “Palestinian refugees” around in “camps” indefinitely, at U.S. and European expense, and instead of resettling them in Arab countries or even in an Arab West Bank-Gaza country if one were established, is to keep alive their “right” to “return” to Israel and demographically destroy it—a “right” whose “sacredness” would transcend any “two-state solution.”

Thus Kirk’s amendment seems to make eminent sense. Why fund, as “refugees,” people who are not refugees by any normally accepted parameters, and are defined that way only so as to constitute an eventual fatal weapon against a U.S. ally, Israel?

Yet the State Department is dead-set against the amendment. Bryen quotes Deputy Secretary Thomas Nides: “This proposed amendment would be viewed around the world as the United States acting to prejudge and determine the outcome of this sensitive issue.” But the U.S. is already prejudging the issue by allowing this situation to fester. Continuing to treat this burgeoning population as “refugees” only means cultivating an anti-Israeli, anti-peace time-bomb.

Some proponents of adopting the Kirk amendment as U.S. policy say it would enable the “two-state solution” to progress. With only thirty thousand aged Palestinians defined as refugees, the “right of return” could be implemented and a major stumbling block to an agreement removed.

Such notions, though, miss the point. The whole cynical, grotesque reality of the UNRWA camps stems, in the first place, from a profound, culturally and religiously rooted Arab/Muslim rejection of Israel. Ceasing to define as “refugees” millions of descendants of Arabs who fled Israel in the late 1940s would not change that.

It would, however, be a step in the right direction. It would mean ceasing to play along with a deception of historic proportions, and refusing to keep nurturing ever-growing millions of Arabs trained to believe that Israel is their home. It would also mean affirming that if any truly constructive steps are ever to be taken, they will have to be based on truth and not lies.

P. David Hornik


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

How Can Obama’s Middle East Policy Possibly Get Worse? Answer: Look at Syria

by Barry Rubin

Some of my readers are unhappy that I keep criticizing President Barack Obama and his government. The problem is that this administration keeps doing terrible things in the Middle East. And the most damning evidence on these actions comes not from Obama’s enemies but from the administration itself and the supportive mass media.

Here’s the latest such item:

U.S. Hopes Assad Can Be Eased Out with Russia’s Aid,” by Helene Cooper and Mark Landler, in the New York Times.

For almost three years, Obama insisted he would win over the Syrian dictatorship and make it America’s friend rather than Iran’s number-one ally. That was ludicrous. Forced by the uprising to back away from Damascus, the Obama Administration has spent almost a year bumbling about what to do.

The U.S. government’s main activity was to entrust to the Turkish Islamist regime the job of forming an umbrella Syrian opposition leadership. Not surprisingly, Ankara pursued its own interest by assembling a Muslim Brotherhood-dominated group, the Syrian National Congress. Though several members resigned, complaining of the radical Islamist control, the Obama Administration is still trying to force hostile oppositionists to join.

Now the administration has unveiled a new and equally terrible policy. I’ll let the New York Times’ reporters explain it:

President Obama will push for the departure of President Bashar al-Assad under a plan that calls for a negotiated political settlement that would satisfy Syrian opposition groups but that could leave remnants of Assad’s government in place. The success of the plan hinges on Russia, one of Assad’s staunchest allies, which has strongly opposed his removal. Obama, administration officials said, will press the proposal with President Putin of Russia at their meeting next month. Obama’s national security adviser raised the plan with Putin in Moscow three weeks ago.

Good grief! There are four different acts of strategic insanity involved in this paragraph. They are…

1. “A negotiated political settlement that…could leave remnants of Assad’s government in place.”

The Syrian dictatorship is led by murderous thugs who know this is a case of kill or be killed. They aren’t going to give up any of their power. And why should they since they think they’re winning and may well be right? They know the outside world won’t do anything, despite the regime killing around 10,000 civilians.

2. “A negotiated political settlement that would satisfy Syrian opposition groups but that could leave remnants of Assad’s government in place.”

The opposition is not so foolish as a Washington pundit, policymaker, or politician. They know that their only hope is to destroy the regime entirely. The democrats want to do so in order to have a modern democracy. The Islamists want Islamism. The Kurds and Druze want autonomy. How could there possibly be a coalition? Both sides know that within days people would be murdering each other. How could anyone expect this kind of deal would work or that the opposition would accept it?

If anyone in Syria might favor such a plan it’s the Muslim Brotherhood. which has toyed with the idea of using such a transition period to strengthen its own hand. So the idea cannot succeed but reveals once again that the Obama Administration seems to get many of its strategies from the Muslim Brotherhood. That’s an observation, not a conspiracy theory.

3. “The success of the plan hinges on Russia, one of Assad’s staunchest allies, which has strongly opposed his removal.”

Just think about that sentence! The Obama Administration wants to depend on a country that’s disdainful of U.S. interests, wants to sabotage them, and is on the opposite side! The president wants to ask a country that is “strongly opposed” Assad’s removal to remove Assad!

And finally, equally amazingly:

4. “Obama, administration officials said, will press the proposal with President Putin of Russia at their meeting next month. Obama’s national security adviser raised the plan with Putin in Moscow three weeks ago.”

It’s Obama, not Russian leader Vladimir Putin, who is pushing this plan to put Russia in control! If your enemy tries to fool or cheat you, that’s a problem. If you beg him to cheat you and hand him the means to do so, that’s a betrayal of U.S. interests.

To summarize, the Obama policy shows three characteristics that have wider implications for the president’s strategies:

  • It favors Islamist enemies.
  • It “leads from behind” by giving the initiative to those who wish America no good.
  • And it shows no interest in helping genuinely pro-American moderates who are fighting for their lives.

And that, friends, is why I spend so much time bashing Obama’s Middle East policy, because it is so very bad and dangerous.

Now a possible explanation for all of this would be that Obama doesn’t really want to do anything about Syria for other reasons. The United States doesn’t want to get dragged into direct intervention; it’s a lower-priority issue; there’s no great policy option; and his only concern is the American election.

But so what? It’s still possible to come up with a better policy than this, a policy that would make Obama look good as well as serve US interests. He could call for Assad’s overthrow; back truly moderate oppositionists; subvert Islamist influence; and send arms and money, but only to the moderates. In order to portray himself as decisive, heroic, and a friend of democracy, Obama could take every possible overt and covert opportunity to weaken Assad, even helping at a low cost to create a no-fly zone and safe havens. None of this is going to happen.

Instead, though, he turns over dealing with the opposition to an Islamist regime in Turkey and subcontracts dealing with the regime to a pro-regime Russian government. I’d say that Obama’s policy in the region could not easily be worse but who knows what’s next, especially if there’s a second term?

Barry Rubin


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Christians Should "Convert, Pay Tribute, or Leave," Says Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood Candidate?

by Raymond Ibrahim

"They need to know that conquest is coming, that Egypt will be Islamic, and that they must pay jizya or emigrate," Morsi reportedly said.

According to the popular Egyptian website, El Bashayer, Muhammad Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood presidential candidate, just declared that he will "achieve the Islamic conquest (fath) of Egypt for the second time, and make all Christians convert to Islam, or else pay the jizya," the additional Islamic tax, or financial tribute, required of non-Muslims, or financial tribute.

In a brief report written by Samuel al-Ashay and published by El Bashayer on May 27, Morsi allegedly made these comments while speaking with a journalist at the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, adding "We will not allow Ahmed Shafiq [his contending presidential candidate] or anyone else to impede our second Islamic conquest of Egypt."

After his interviewer pointed out that the first Muslim conquest of Egypt was "carried out at the hands of Amr bin al-As [in 641]," he asked Morsi, "Who will the second Islamic conqueror be?" Morsi, replied, "The second Muslim conqueror will be Muhammad Morsi," referring to himself, "and history will record it."

When asked what he thought about many Christian Copts coming out to vote for his secular opponent, Ahmed Shafiq, Morsi reportedly said, "They need to know that conquest is coming, and Egypt will be Islamic, and that they must pay jizya or emigrate."

If this interview is accurate, certainly Morsi would not be the first political Islamist in Egypt to say he wants to see the nation's Christians subjugated and made to pay jizya (see here for more examples).

However, considering that the English language media are currently reporting that Morsi is trying to woo Egypt's Christians and women to win more votes, it is difficult to imagine that he actually made those comments: one does not doubt that he favors the idea of a "second Islamic conquest" and the subjugation of Christians; one doubts that he would be so foolish as to reveal his mind now, publicly, and thereby jeopardize his chances of winning the presidency.

Then again, his remarks are reported in the context of a private meeting at the headquarters of the Brotherhood's political party. Perhaps Morsi thought he was speaking to a fellow Islamist who would not expose him? Perhaps he was frustrated at having to win Copts over and was "venting"? Stay tuned.

Raymond Ibrahim


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The Cause of Europeans' Attitude Towards Israel

by Peter Martino

Unfortunately, the Belgian attitude seems to be predominant in Europe today. Jewish religious practices are morally equated with intolerant Islamic behavior – but the Muslims are condoned while the Jews are criticized and the Jewish state is morally equated with Iran. The truth is deliberately misrepresented.

Last April, Belgium's Justice Minister, Annemie Turtelboom, and its Foreign Minister, Didier Reynders, went on an official visit to Morocco, where they had an appointment with Morocco's Prime Minister, Abdelilah Benkirane, the leader of the Islamist Justice and Development Party.

Benkirane refused to address Ms. Turtelboom because she is a woman; he talked exclusively to Mr Reynders. Benkirane's misogynous views are rooted in Koranic verses expressing contempt for women, considered only half the worth of men.

After Ms. Turtelboom had returned home, she admitted that although she had felt insulted, she had deliberately not responded to the humiliation to "avoid a diplomatic row." Indignant female Belgian parliamentarians of Moroccan origin demanded that the Belgian government protest the treatment of the minister. But both the minister and the government preferred to remain quiet and forget the incident.

Last week, when Laurette Onkelinx, the Belgian Minister of Health, attended the annual world health conference in Geneva, she was greeted by her Israeli counterpart, Yaakov Litzman, a Hassidic Jew, who politely refused to shake Ms Onkelinx' hand, and explained that religious stricture prevented him for doing so. Ms Onkelinx is making a great fuss about this. "My hands are clean!" she posted on her official Facebook page, comparing the Israeli minister to an Iranian official. "This kind of fundamentalist attitude, connected to a certain perception of religion and women, troubles me deeply," she wrote.

The difference in the responses of the Belgian government ministers during the two incidents is striking. The personal insult to a female minister by the Islamist Prime Minister of Morocco was downplayed in order to "avoid a diplomatic row." No such caution was taken into consideration when the Hassidic Israeli minister declined to shake the hand of his female Belgian colleague. On the contrary, it would seem that the latter incident is deliberately being blown out of proportion.

Ms Onkelinx, who was once married to a Moroccan, has a large Muslim constituency. "The minister's childish reaction demonstrates her ignorance," Michael Freilich, editor of Joods Actueel, Belgium's largest Jewish publication, initially commented. Later, however, Freilich disclosed that Onkelinx had not been ignorant at all. Pinchas Kornfeld, secretary-general of the orthodox Jewish community Machsike Hadas in Antwerp, Belgium, told Freilich that he had met Ms Onkelinx on several occasions. "She is well aware that I would never shake her hand, but she is also aware that I have the greatest respect for her and for women in general," Kornfeld said.

Consequently, it would seem that Onkelinx is eagerly using the incident in a deliberate attempt to embarrass Israel in the eyes of the Belgian public, depicting the Jewish state as backward, misogynous and intolerant – a state comparable to Iran.

Unfortunately, the Belgian attitude seems to be predominant in Europe today. Jewish religious practices are morally equated with intolerant Muslim behavior -- but the Muslims are condoned, while the Jews are criticized and the Jewish state is morally equated with Iran.

The same deliberate moral equation of Israel with its mortal enemies can be seen in European Union reports on the situation in Jerusalem. The truth is deliberately misrepresented. Each year, through secretive processes, the EU donates tens of millions of euros to biased political NGOs on the West Bank and in Israel. Even the money of Jewish taxpayers is abused for this purpose. The reports of these very NGOs are subsequently used as the basis for EU policy statements and recommendations which undermine the Jewish claims to Jerusalem.

Jason Edelstein of NGO Monitor says this attitude is indicative of Europe's neo-colonialist agenda in Israel. "European colonialism ended after the Second World War," writes Edelstein. "And while African and Asian countries experienced post-colonial challenges, Israel developed quickly into a democracy with a burgeoning economy. But, along with these successes, Israel also became a playground for a neo-colonialist European agenda with its goals being to meddle and manipulate the Israeli democratic processes."

The same phenomenon is currently at play in the Belgian attitude towards Israel. Belgium with its bloody colonial past, including King Leopold's crimes in the Congo, bites its tongue when dealing with Islamic insults, but balks in indignation at the behavior of an Orthodox Jew. It lectures the Jewish State, but refrains from criticizing Islamists.

As Edelstein rightly says, the European attitude "violate[s] basic norms, increase[s] tensions between Europe and Israel, and [makes] Israelis weary of outside policy recommendations." His conclusion is unpleasant: "European colonialism in the region ended after the Second World War but in Israel, it remains to this day."

When we ask why Europe is behaving in such an appaling, condescending manner with regard to Israel, this author, a non-Jewish European, can only draw an equally unpleasant, but unavoidable, conclusion: many Europeans are still under the sway of the same anti-Semitism -- couched as moral self-regard -- that brought about their homicidal complicity in the Dreyfus Trial and in handing over Jews to be murdered by Hitler's Third Reich.

Peter Martino


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