Friday, May 31, 2019

EU Elections Usher In New Era - Bruce Bawer


by Bruce Bawer

The results themselves were nothing less than spectacular




Not only was the turnout in last week’s European Parliament elections the highest in at least 20 years; the results themselves were nothing less than spectacular. In Italy, Matteo Salvini pronounced: “A new Europe is born.” Writing in De Volkskrant, Dutch journalist Marc Peeperkorn declared that the vote tallies marked the end of the “omnipotence” in Brussels of Christian Democrats and Social Democrats, a significant step forward for Green parties, and a “modest” advance for “Euroskeptic populists.”

“Modest” strikes me as a classic example of calculated mass-media understatement. In fact, to judge by the results, the main reason that millions of Europeans flocked to the polls was to tell Brussels that they’re sick of being ruled by Brussels. Almost everywhere on the continent, results for Euroskeptic parties were, at the very least, encouraging, and at most downright stunning: in France, Marine Le Pen’s National Rally came in first; ditto Salvini’s Northern League in Italy and the Freedom Party in Austria (whose leader, chancellor Sebastian Kurz, has just been ousted as a result of a scandal); in Germany, Alternative for Germany finished a strong fourth place; in Sweden, the Sweden Democrats almost tied for third with the Moderates; in the Netherlands, Thierry Baudet’s fledgling Forum for Democracy secured a promising fourth. (Geert Wilders’s Freedom Party came in eighth.)  

But the biggest news of all was in Britain, where the ruling Tories dropped to fifth place and Nigel Farage’s just-founded Brexit Party topped them all, securing 28 MEPs to the Liberal Democrats’ 15, Labour’s 10, the Greens’ 7, and the Conservatives’ 3. It was the first time in British history that so new a party had won such a sensational victory. Brexit will now have the largest delegation of any party in the European Parliament. It triumphed even in cities that had voted to remain in the EU in the 2016 referendum, suggesting that former Remainers, perhaps in reaction to Brussels’ arrogant response to Brexit, have changed their mind about the EU – and/or that Remainers, despite their views on EU membership, resent their Tory-led Parliament’s failure to carry out the electorate’s clearly stated will.

Yet while the vote in Britain marked a clear and welcome mandate for departure from the EU – deal or no deal – Farage’s former party, UKIP, which had been the cause’s standard bearer for a quarter century, was shut out. Even its leader, Gerard Batten, lost his seat. Popular YouTuber Carl Benjamin (who goes online by “Sargon of Akkad”) lost his high-profile bid to represent southwestern England. Perhaps most crushing of all, for those who care not only about British sovereignty but about British freedoms in the face of Islamization and ubiquitous appeasement, Tommy Robinson, running as an independent, suffered a huge loss in the northwest, purportedly pulling down a mere 2% of the vote.

I’m a big fan of Katie Hopkins,  but I must confess that Tommy’s loss, and the campaign that led up to it, has caused me to doubt one of her core assertions – namely, that while London is packed with lockstep, EU-loving social-justice warriors, “the rest of England” is made up mainly of sensible, freedom-loving patriots. Yes, the massive support for Farage’s party was terrific. But Brexit stands only for Brexit. Farage himself, unlike Tommy Robinson and the new UKIP and Anne Marie Waters’s For Britain Party, refuses to criticize Islam or admit it’s a problem. He has stayed mum about widespread official intimidation of critics of Islam. Nor has he commented, so far as I know, on Tommy’s frequent harassment by the police, his illegitimate prosecution by the judiciary, his demonization by the news media, and his deplatforming by the social-media moguls of Silicon Valley. Late in the campaign came the news that Royal Mail employees were bragging online about having junked Tommy Robinson campaign literature instead of delivering it – an act that in the U.S., it seems to me, would be a felony. One would have hoped that Brits who are concerned about such matters would have given Farage a pass this time around and opted for UKIP and for Tommy.

By the time the elections rolled around, however, I wasn’t surprised by the results. In the weeks leading up to the vote, I followed both Tommy’s and Benjamin’s campaigns on YouTube. Tommy held rallies and gave speeches, seeking, as he put it on Sunday night, to “politicize the working class,” whose members have been the chief victims of their country’s Islamization but who, in matters of governance, have persisted in deferring to their “betters.” Valiantly, and perhaps quixotically, Tommy sought to change that.

Benjamin, for his part, set up shop in town squares, where he sat down with locals, some of whom shared his views and some of whom hated his guts, and discussed – or tried to discuss – the issues. Both men, Tommy especially, drew crowds of fans. But there were also Antifa types on the scene, eager to stir up trouble. And one day a couple of hundred rabid Muslims – who, outrageously, were escorted to the site of a Tommy Robinson rally by police officers – started a riot, throwing bricks and stones and obliging families with small children to beat a hasty retreat. There were no arrests – how could the cops arrest the culprits when they themselves had led them to the scene of the crime? – and the incident, as far as I can tell, made no headlines in the British press. It was a disgusting spectacle, making perfectly clear which side the British authorities are on.

Yet perhaps even more unsettling than that ugly clash were the many middle-class folks in “the rest of England” who, in their interactions with Tommy and Benjamin or in interviews with the reporter from Canada’s Rebel Media who followed Tommy’s campaign day by day, showed just how completely they’d been brainwashed by the establishment. Over and over, one saw people who looked like ordinary, wholesome bourgeoisie going berserk at the sight of Tommy or Benjamin, calling them fascists and racists and accusing them of “trying to divide us.” They claimed to stand for love and harmony and all good things, but they spewed hate. One elderly man, his face contorted by rage, spat out the c-word at the Rebel Media reporter, a polite and gentle young woman just out of journalism school.


Both Tommy and Benjamin tried patiently to talk sense to these people. They wouldn’t listen. They couldn’t process facts. They couldn’t form a thought. They couldn’t put together an argument. Instead they dealt almost exclusively in chants and curses and slogans. Facts be damned – they had learned to find certain facts offensive. They were not interested in seriously addressing social challenges; they were interested only in being seen to express the attitudes toward those challenges that they had been trained to regard as nice.

During his campaign, Benjamin had to keep responding to challenges about a tweet he’d written some time ago about Jess Phillips, a feminist Labour MP who, unwilling to take men’s problems seriously, had quashed efforts by a fellow MP to debate solutions to the crisis of male suicide. In response, Benjamin had tweeted facetiously that he wouldn’t even rape Phillips. For this arguably tasteless gibe, he was endlessly hounded on the campaign trail and, in one memorable appearance, was raked over the coals on BBC – the same network, mind you, that for decades turned a blind eye to the serial predations of its own in-house child rapist, TV star Jimmy Savile, and that for decades, too, joined the rest of Britain’s legacy media in ignoring the epidemic of Muslim gang rape. You would have thought that all of these rapes put together, at the very least tens of thousands of them, were less horrendous than Benjamin’s joke.

In one conversation about the British government’s ongoing crackdown on criticism of Islam, Benjamin quoted Orwell’s famous statement to the effect that free speech means being permitted to tell people what they don’t want to hear. His interlocutor, a history teacher, dismissed this notion. No, she said, you shouldn’t be allowed to hurt my feelings. Benjamin replied, quite rightly, that if things operated her way, he would be tyrannized by her feelings. She laughed at this. “I’m a tyrant?!” The logic was entirely lost on her. For these people, it was clear, pretty much the worst crime of all would be to hurt their feelings. The wrong word, therefore, can be more violent than violence itself. Indeed, their view is that violence in their own cause is legitimate, if it is intended to shut down harmful speech.

Repeatedly, one heard people from “the rest of England” decrying unrestricted free speech. Freedom of speech is all well and good, they said, “so long as it doesn’t hurt others.” “You can kill people with a speech,” one person actually said. Another told Benjamin that he didn’t deserve freedom of speech because he wasn’t using it “to any productive end.” Opponents of Tommy said it was a good idea to deplatform him and that his supporters because they were “spreading hate” and “encouraging violence.” But nobody, when asked, could provide a single example of any of these people spreading hate or encouraging violence.

As for Tommy’s hostility toward the doctrines of Islam, all of his critics seemed to be agreed that it was just plain nasty. As one twenty-something girl put it, Muhammed was a “good guy”: she knew this, she said, because she had “learned about him in school.” When Carl Benjamin tried to talk to one older woman, a professed Christian, about the grooming gangs that have devastated, if not destroyed, thousands of families in cities like Rotherham and Rochdale, she refused – apparently because talking about such matters gives pain to Muslims. Instead of being willing to tackle this uncomfortable issue, she kept repeating her mantra: “I believe in love. We all need to love each other.” 

Some people just found it tacky to address such matters as Islamic rape. One man who acknowledged the link between such atrocities and Islam itself suggested that it would nonetheless be “more refined” to avoid the word Islam and instead say “sectarian.” How, we may ask, did telling the simple truth about a certain ideology come to be viewed as unrefined? And why is refinement the be-all and end-all anyway? In the search for an answer to this and related questions, one finds oneself repeatedly coming back to the British class system. To belong to the British middle class, after all, is to define yourself in opposition to the working class – and in order to draw that line, you’ve got to make sure you never sound remotely like a bigot, a vulgarian, a xenophobe. Which means decrying “Islamophobia” and the like as reflexively, and as vehemently, as possible.

Never forget that understatement and circumlocution are the traditional hallmarks of British civilization. It’s a society built on “quites” and “rathers,” on innumerable social nuances and subtleties, on manners and mores designed to separate the aristocratic wheat from the plebeian chaff – all of which, alas, renders all too many Brits constitutionally incapable of honestly discussing the enemy within, who feels fully entitled to drain their treasury, rape their children, and demand the imposition of severe and oppressive sharia strictures on formerly free Western institutions. While the anti-Brussels vote across Europe, then, was assuredly cheering, the refusal – or the congenital inability – of Brits to vote in meaningful numbers for people who are openly critical of Islam does not bode well for their nation’s future.
* PHOTO: AFP



Bruce Bawer is the author of “While Europe Slept,” “Surrender,” "The Victims' Revolution," and "The Alhambra." "Islam," a collection of his essays on Islam, has just been published.

Source: https://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/273873/eu-elections-usher-new-era-bruce-bawer

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Knesset dissolved, Israel going to elections - Hezki Baruch


by Hezki Baruch

Law to dissolve the Knesset approved in second and third readings. Elections expected to take place on September 17.

The 21st Knesset has been dissolved, less than a month after it was sworn in. The Knesset approved the Knesset Dispersion Law on Wednesday evening by a majority of 74 to 45.

The elections for the 22nd Knesset will take place on September 17, just six months after the last elections.

Earlier, the haredi parties Degel Hatorah and Shas announced that their spiritual leaders approved the compromise, which states that the Draft Law will be passed in its first reading and that amendments will be made before it is approved in second and third readings. However, the Yisrael Beytenu rejected this compromise proposal as well.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu responded to the approval of the law to dissolve the 21st Knesset, a month after it was sworn in.

"The Israeli public made a clear and unequivocal decision: That I would be prime minister and that the Likud would lead a right-wing government. The public chose me to lead the State of Israel. The various parties that ran for Knesset, many of them said they would support me. 60 out of the 65 mandates granted to the right did what they undertook upon themselves to do. One party did the exact opposite. Avigdor Liberman misled his voters. From the get go, he had no intention of joining the government," said Netanyahu.

"In eight months Avigdor Liberman is dragging the country twice to elections because of personal whims and an attempt to get a few more seats. Simply unbelievable. Avigdor Liberman is now part of the left, he is the heart of the left,” Netanyahu continued, blasting the Yisrael Beytenu chairman.

United Torah Judaism chairman, Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, said after the Knesset was dissolved, “The holding of new elections a month after the last elections is contrary to the will of the people and contrary to all common sense. This is political coercion for no real reason, with an awful waste of billions that can go to important things like adding resources to the health care system, education or any other purpose for the good of the public."

"The cynical use of the Draft Law is an outrageous excuse meant to confuse the public with the goal of inciting against the haredi public and making political capital on it. Torah study has always been and will always remain an important value for the people of Israel. Preserving the status of yeshiva students was the basis for our joining every government and every coalition. It is clear to everyone that we will not be able to agree to any law that restricts Torah scholars in Israel," added Litzman.

"All along, we announced that we would not be able to agree to set enlistment targets and quotas for yeshiva students in the Draft Law. We surprised no one and acted honestly and transparently. Those who try to impose on UTJ enlistment goals and quotas in the law, contrary to our belief, contrary to the instructions we received from the Council of Torah Sages - is acting against a right-wing government and is motivated by political motives to topple the prime minister for other reasons. Together with Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Likud negotiating team, we left no stone unturned in an attempt to prevent new elections. Unfortunately, Avigdor Liberman rejected every compromise and any attempt at dialogue and agreement. Instead, he embarked on a campaign of vicious and defamatory incitement, against the haredi public and its leaders, while blaming us for things that never happened."

"History will judge the leadership of the State of Israel for an unnecessary and delusional election campaign, while attempting to incite between populations and sectors against the wishes of the majority of the people," Litzman concluded.

Earlier on Wednesday, Liberman addressed the crisis in the coalition talks.

"There is nothing hidden behind the draft law. There is no problem other than the law. As I have already said - all the inventors of other theories - try us," Liberman said.

"Regarding the trick of removing the heart of the law from primary legislation and changing it into a government decision - this is not cosmetics. It is emptying the law of its content. I think that every reasonable person would accept my proposal, and I think that the haredi MKs, and I know them well, are reasonable people," he said. “So I hope they will accept my proposal."

"The haredim are still trying to transfer the recruitment targets and the expiration of the draft law from the original law [whereby these factors were determined in the legislation] to the government's decision," said the Yisrael Beytenu chairman. "Under no circumstances will we let this happen."


Hezki Baruch

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/263889

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Do You Believe Iran? - Sara Akrami and John Thompson


by Sara Akrami and John Thompson

The inner world of the Islamic Republic's propaganda machine.





Selective credulity is the new normal these days, especially with the anarchy of social media – but "propaganda" is a lot more than just another pejorative for commentary one dislikes. Some countries still have old-fashioned propaganda machines… and one of them is Iran.

The regime in Tehran is 40 years old now and the revolution is more than a little stale, but the mullahs carefully noted how Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union kept their people in line. They use similar techniques, albeit with an Islamic slant – using the coercive power of the state in combination with the religious authority of its clerics. The combination is hard to withstand.

Yet, when Iran speaks, it speaks through a remarkable propaganda machine: the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance (MCIG). 

MCIG ensures that newspapers – and journalists – must be licensed. Access to government events and press conferences is also filtered according to political/religious reliability.

Publishers must be licensed, which is a slow and lengthy process. Independent publishers are seldom granted one. Books must be pre-approved, and separate permission is needed to actually market and distribute them.

Lyrics and music must be reviewed and approved, and musicians need permission to give performances. Those that don’t comply risk arrest. Female performers face additional restrictions.

Since the Revolution, all radio and television services are controlled by Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB). Ostensibly, the IRIB is independent of the regime – as independent as an entity can be whose CEO is handpicked by the Supreme Leader, and whose content must be legally consistent with Islamic criteria, as defined by the state. 

Besides the tight supervision of its leadership and content, most of the IRIB’s revenue stream comes from the Iranian government.

After the Revolution, the newly-established government aimed to Islamicize all forms of arts. In the field of cinema, Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf was its major theorist. Therefore, the government created films for the domestic Iranian market, and films that pasted a happy face over the grim visage of the regime for external markets. This "Potemkin" model of films from the so-called independent Iranian cinema had deceived many international audiences that should know better.

Iranians had a lively tradition of a free press… until the Revolution. Where over 100 newspapers were being published in 1979, nine remain, and 17 new government-sponsored ones. All are closely monitored and require government permission to operate. Many journalists have learned to their own sorrow that being too “liberal” or “conservative” within the regime’s constraints can mean a prison term when policy shifts.

Bookstore owners and librarians face the same risks. They must list their holdings with the MGIC and there have been penalties for keeping the wrong books off restricted access lists when policies change.

The Basij Militia periodically stage a big sweep for illegal satellite dishes – Iranians work hard to get around government restrictions. At least Iran’s equivalent to the Brownshirts or NKVD militia have had time to get fairly corrupt… one can usually buy a used satellite dish later.

The internet is a sore trial to the Iranian regime. The MGIC is bent on helping to protecting Iranians from the wild world of the web. It is joined by the Commission to Determine Instances of Criminal Content (CDICC), the Supreme Council of Cyberspace (SCC), and the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. Meanwhile, the Iranian National Police has formed its own cyber police branch while the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps has also created its “Iranian Cyber Army.”

There is much more to Iran’s propaganda machinery than these organizations – the Mullahs lie, distort, and deceive to achieve their aims. Moreover, much of the population is heartily sick of their brutality, incompetence and corruption. Anything that hastens the end of the regime would be welcome.

John Thompson and Sara Akrami are authors of the newly-published book, Stale Revolution: The Ayatollahs’ Propaganda and Terrorism Machine.


Sara Akrami and John Thompson

Source: https://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/273864/do-you-believe-iran-sara-akrami

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27% of Israeli Arabs voted for Zionist parties in recent elections - Maurice Hirsch, Adv. and Itamar Marcus


by Maurice Hirsch, Adv. and Itamar Marcus

PA slander: Israel is an "apartheid state"; but Israeli Arabs experience real democracy

In Israel's recent elections:
  • 12 Israeli Arabs elected to Israel's Parliament
  • 50% of Israeli Arabs chose to vote
  • At least 112,000 Israeli Arabs (27%) voted for Zionist parties in exclusively Arab cities and towns:
    • 35,783 Israeli-Arabs voted for Meretz
    • 33,453 Israeli-Arabs voted for Blue and White
    • 9,404 Israeli-Arabs voted for Likud
    • 8,268 Israeli-Arabs voted for Shas
    • 6,516 Israeli-Arabs voted for Yisrael Beiteinu
By Maurice Hirsch, Adv. and Itamar Marcus

Now that the newly elected Israeli Parliament has been dissolved due to Prime Minister Netanyahu's inability to form a government, Israeli Arabs will again be experiencing the Israeli democracy in the next elections, which are set for September 17, 2019.

The next elections will once again prove wrong the Palestinian Authority's claim that Israeli is an "apartheid state" as Israeli Arabs will be able to exercise their voting rights on equal terms with Israel's Jewish citizens.

Palestinian Media Watch has taken a look at the statistics from the recent Israeli elections and they prove the existence of a thriving Israeli democracy.

Responding to the results of the Israeli elections held in April this year, PLO Chief Negotiator and Fatah Central Committee member Saeb Erekat, said that the vote shows Israel has a "policy of apartheid and racial segregation":


"The preliminary results of the Israeli elections have clearly showed that the Israeli voters have voted to keep the situation as it is. They have voted to continue the occupation. They have voted to continue the apartheid and the racial segregation. In reality, the competition during the election campaign was over who on the Israeli side could continue the status quo, the policy of apartheid and racial segregation, but at a reduced cost."
[Official PA TV News, April 10, 2019]

A comparison focusing on the rights of Israeli Arabs compared to the rights of Black South Africans under the Apartheid regime shows that the reality could not be more different. 


Examination of the voting patterns of Israeli Arabs who live in Arab towns and villages shows that an abyss divides between the PA claims about Israel and the reality. The following are some statistics as published by Israel's Central Elections Committee (https://votes21.bechirot.gov.il/, accessed 14/4/19); 

  • The Israeli Arab voters who live in exclusively Arab towns  are 13.1% of the entire electorate (829,673 out of 6,335,387)
  • 49.6 % of these Israeli Arabs (411,437 people) chose to vote.
  • 27.2% of these Israeli Arab voters (112,034 people) voted for Zionist parties:
    • 8.69% (35,783 people) voted for Meretz - considered to be a left wing party - headed by Tamar Zandberg;
    • 8.1% (33,453 people) voted for Blue and White - considered to be a left-centrist party but also includes right wing candidates such as past Minister of Defense Moshe Ya'alon - headed by past IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz;
    • 2.29% (9,404 people) voted for Likud - considered to be a right wing party - headed by Benjamin Netanyahu;
    • 2.25% (9,243 people) voted for Kulanu - considered to be a right wing party - headed by Moshe Kahlon;
    • 2% (8,268 people) voted for the Shas party - a Sephardi Jewish Orthodox party considered to be a right wing party - headed by Aryeh Deri
    • 1.58% (6,516 people) voted for Yisrael Beteinu - considered to be a right wing party - headed by Avigdor Liberman;
    • 1.37% (5,539 people) voted for Labor - considered to be a left wing party - headed by Avi Gabai;
    • 0.59% (2,449 people) voted of Gesher, Magen, Zehut and Ya'adut Ha'torah;
    • 0.32% (1,379 people) voted for the Joint Right Parties and the New Right - right wing parties that actively promoted Israel's annexation of Judea and Samaria.
The actual number of Israeli Arabs who participated in the voting and who voted for Zionist parties is actually much higher. Many Israeli Arabs live in mixed Jewish- Arab cities, such as Haifa, Lod and Jerusalem. It is impossible to determine which parties these Israeli Arabs voted for because balloting is secret and Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs in mixed cities use the same polling stations.

Saeb Erekat was not the only Palestinian to falsely slander Israel as apartheid. WAFA the official PA news agency headlined its article: "PLO on Israeli elections: Israelis voted no to peace, yes to apartheid," and Hanan Ashrawi, PLO Executive Committee member, responded that "Israelis chose to entrench and expand apartheid." [WAFA English edition (official PA news agency), April 10, 2019]. Similar demonization appeared in the official PA daily editorial:  "It is almost certain that the next Israeli government will bring nothing but more racist extremism." [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, April 11, 2019]
And the official PA daily also ran a cartoon showing that through the ballot box Netanyahu was destroying peace.

 In summary, while the Palestinian Authority continues to demonize Israel using terms such as "racist" and "apartheid", Israeli Arabs living democracy and by their actions refuting the PA message. They have the right to vote and Israel, 50% chose to exercise that right, and 27% of the Arabs in exclusively Arab cities even voted for Zionist parties. In addition 10 Israeli Arabs, were elected to Israel's Parliament in exclusively Arab parties (receiving 350,000 votes) and an additional two Israeli Arabs were elected to the Knesset as part of the Zionist parties.

Finally, it is ironic that the PA whose population lives under a de facto dictatorship which has not held elections in 14 years, and
will not hold elections in the foreseeable future, chooses to criticize Israel's thriving democracy.

The following are longer excerpts from the above articles:

Excerpt of an editorial by the official PA daily

Headline: "There is nothing new except for the extremism"
"What future have the Israelis chosen in the elections held two days ago [April 9, 2019], in which there were not many slips for peace in the ballot boxes? The Israeli extremism on both sides - the racist right-wing and the military establishment's left - won. It is almost certain that the next Israeli government will bring nothing but more racist extremism."
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, April 11, 2019]

Headline: "PLO on Israeli elections: Israelis voted no to peace, yes to apartheid"
"Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) officials said today in reaction to the results of the Israeli elections that Israelis have voted no to peace and yes to apartheid.
PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi said that after Israeli voters have chosen their representatives, "regrettably, Israelis overwhelmingly voted for candidates that are unequivocally committed to entrenching the status quo of oppression, occupation, annexation and dispossession in Palestine and escalating the assault on Palestinian national and human rights. They have chosen an overwhelmingly rightwing, Xenophobic and anti-Palestinian parliament to represent them. Israelis chose to entrench and expand apartheid."
Ashrawi said in a statement that the "extremist and militaristic agenda, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, has been emboldened by the Trump administration's reckless policies and blind support. This cynical alliance against Palestinian rights and the standing of the rules-based international order remains unchallenged by the rest of the international community, thereby reinforcing the rightist and populist agendas. "
She added: "The Palestinian people will overcome this dark and highly dangerous chapter and remain deeply rooted in our homeland. We are a resilient people and we will persist and forge alliances with like-minded and responsible international actors to create a counterbalance to the dangerous and reckless agenda and its adherence among other racist and fundamentalist governments, particularly in Israel."
Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the PLO's Executive Committee, said in a tweet last night that the Israelis have voted no to peace.
"What the early results suggest is that Israelis have voted to preserve the status quo. They have said no to peace and yes to the occupation."
He added, "The fact that only 14 out of 120 elected members of the Israeli parliament support the two-state solution on the 1967 borders."
[WAFA English edition (official PA news agency), April 10, 2019


Maurice Hirsch, Adv. and Itamar Marcus

Source: http://palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=27724

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About that Marxist Roofer: Stemming the Flow Toward Socialism - Alfredo Ortiz


by Alfredo Ortiz

Free market proponents must make their case against socialism today -- before it gains even more widespread cultural appeal.

A new Gallup poll finds that 43 percent of Americans say socialism would be a good thing for the country. This is just one of many recent surveys finding increased popularity of socialism, including those that show it is now supported by a majority of millennials and Democrats. 

Increasing support for socialism -- an economic system that relies on government to redistribute property based on need and influence -- is not surprising. Socialism has long received favorable treatment from societal pillars such as the media, academia, Hollywood, and pop culture. Additionally, millennials -- now the country's largest generation -- have been disproportionately hurt by recent higher education, healthcare, and housing cost increases, which are blamed on capitalism but are really the product of government intervention in the economy. 

As Andrew Breitbart famously said, "Politics is downstream from culture." Since politics are a lagging indicator of the public mood, it's only a matter of time before socialism is reflected by lawmakers and public policy. The makeup of today's Democrats, featuring the likes of socialist Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, whom Democratic Party Chair Tom Perez calls "the future of our party," suggests this process is already underway. 

Free market proponents must make their case against socialism today -- before it gains even more widespread cultural appeal. While this effort requires relentless marketing and creative communications, it's ultimately an intellectual undertaking. In practice, this means explaining the logical flaws and internal contradictions of the latest socialist claptrap. 

Witness a recent video produced by a socialist outfit called Means TV and promoted by the AFL-CIO with a tweet calling on workers to "seize the means of production." Called "The Middle Class is a Lie" and featuring the perspective of a "Marxist roofer," the video -- like so much of this genre -- is class warfare dressed up as social critique. 

The video's central claim is that there is no middle class, just capitalists and the working class, and when workers realize this, they can organize to wield more power. This is a bold claim in a country with the largest and wealthiest middle class in the history of the world. In fact, capitalism created the middle class. 

Where does the middle class really not exist? In socialist countries, where there are just two groups: government apparatchiks who are fabulously wealthy and the rest of the population who are paupers. The U.S., where nearly everyone has an iPhone and air conditioning, is strikingly equal by comparison. 

Even on a semantic level, this "no middle class" argument fails. Yes, the middle class work for a living, so technically they could be considered part of the working class. But should those who have worked their way up the career ladder to earn a salary to support their family really be considered part of the same class as the poor, most of whom (even among those of working age) don't work at all? 

The term "middle class" does seem like the best way to describe the vast majority of American households, whose standards of living are between those who live off of capital dividends and those who don't work at all. Socialists have a vested interest in pretending the middle class doesn't exist because it is a testament to the wealth-creating power of capitalism. 

One of the defining characteristics of capitalism is entrepreneurship, which capitalism fosters and socialism forbids. This can mean either working more hours for an employer or striking out as a small business owner. In the latter case, small business owners still contract their labor either as a sole proprietor or as job-creating managers. But they do so at a higher pay rate. It's disingenuous to lump these 30 million small business owners in with entry-level employees, as the video tries to do. 

Entrepreneurship also drives economic growth which raises standards of living for everyone. Contrast, for instance, the advances in the capitalistic tech sector with the stagnation of the socialized educational system. (Perhaps if the educational system had evolved to teach some basic finance, economic, and technical skills, socialism wouldn't be so popular today.)

In contrast to socialist contention, there's nothing wrong with trading your labor for money. That's how nearly everyone from LeBron James to video developers to Walmart workers earn a living. There is pride in trading the value of a hard day's work for the value of a paycheck. Though it can be a grind at times, it's better than the socialist alternative where you are compelled to work as society sees fit. Most workers in capitalism quickly rise through the ranks to positions where they can start saving money. Roughly two-thirds of minimum wage employees, for example, get a raise within their first several months on the job. 

"All members of the working class under capitalism are subject to the same conditions," argues our socialist roofer, "to constantly produce more for as little wage compensation as possible." Not true. Technological advancements due to capitalism have made productive work far less onerous. And compensation levels inexorably rise and are certainly far above minimum wage. 

There's no "inherent conflict between workers and owners" as the video and socialists contend. Rather, employers offer employees opportunity, wages, and job training skills (plus other benefits) in return for their best work. The real conflict exists in socialist regimes where employees have no incentive to perform. Ever noticed the customer service at the DMV? That's what you get economy-wide under socialism. 

And who are these evil capitalists who "own the means of production"? Most are ordinary people. Roughly two-thirds of Americans between 30 and 64 own stocks. The vast majority of those who earn the lion's share of their income on capital either took big entrepreneurial risks that provided jobs and better products or scrimped and saved for decades. Both should be applauded. 

Capitalism is the only system that creates wealth for everyone. Socialism -- "seizing the means of production" -- merely redistributes the wealth around. As Margaret Thatcher noted, the problem with this approach is that "you eventually run out of other people's money." Now more than ever, Americans must hear this truth that capitalism creates and socialism takes. 

Alfredo Ortiz

Source: https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2019/05/about_that_marxist_roofer_stemming_the_flow_toward_socialism.html

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Elite Contempt: The Common Denominator in Populist Victories - Caroline Glick


by Caroline Glick

Brexit Party victory ends a political monopoly.





The triumph of Nigel Farage and his Brexit party in Britain’s European parliamentary elections tells us two stories at the same time.

The first story is a local British story. The Brexit Party’s victory effectively ends the Conservative party’s monopoly on Britain’s political right for the first time in two hundred years. The Conservatives will respond to the trouncing in one of two ways. They can disintegrate completely by doubling down on outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May’s soft Brexit – with or without a second referendum — or they can start listening to their voters.

The second story encapsulated in Brexit’s victory — and that of Marine Le Pen’s triumph in France and Matteo Salvini’s in Italy — is the now familiar tale of the rise of the populist/nationalist/ideological right throughout the Western world against the conventional wisdom of the traditional progressive and center-right elitist establishment, and more often than not, in defiance of the polls.

In Britain itself, the rise of Brexit is a fitting bookend to Prime Minister Theresa May’s stunning betrayal of her voters. May came to power after her predecessor David Cameron resigned office in response to the Brexit vote. As she entered office, May pledged to embrace the will of the voters and shepherd Britain out of the European Union.

Instead of doing so, May managed to negotiate a Brexit deal with the European Union that left Britain with the costs of EU membership but without its benefits. Despite the fact that her deal was repeatedly voted down in Parliament, she refused to resign. And now, her premiership that began because of Brexit is ending because she betrayed Brexit.

As for the wider West, to be sure, the proximate issues pushing voters in separate countries to cast their ballots for anti-elitist parties in favor of populist, nationalist leaders with strong visions of national restoration and pride are local. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s victory earlier this month over his challenger, Labor Party leader Bill Shorten, has largely been attributed to Shorten’s radical economic agenda. Shorten’s proposed tax hikes would have harmed young families and retirees. His carbon emissions legislation would have crippled Australia’s mining industry.

Farage’s rise owes to May’s bad faith with her own voters regarding her commitment to honoring their vote to withdraw Britain from the European Union.

In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won a fifth term in office last month by running on a record of diplomatic and economic success that the leftist parties were unable to discredit.

Trump’s victory is widely attributed to Hillary Clinton’s failure to rally the Democratic base in the Rust Belt and to counter Trump’s message of industrial renewal.

But one underlying issue is common in all of the elections. And until the progressive left and the establishment center right reconcile themselves to it, and find a respectful means to contend with it, they will continue to see populist forces grow stronger and win elections.

That issue is contempt. Throughout the Western world, beyond the economic issues and even beyond specific social issues like gay marriage or abortion rights, voters are motivated to vote for the populist, nationalist right in part due to their anger at the left and center-right’s undisguised contempt for them.

In the United States, the left’s snobbery reached its height with Hillary Clinton’s castigation of Trump’s supporters as “deplorables.” But her assertion wasn’t made in isolation. It was made in the midst of a general atmosphere in which Democratic politicians from Barack Obama to Nancy Pelosi and establishment Republicans felt comfortable putting down Americans who aren’t part of their club. Obama infamouslyreferred to Clinton’s “deplorables” as “bitter” people in small towns who “cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

The media, which serves as an extension of the Democratic Party and embraces NeverTrump Republicans as a means to attack Trump and his voters, continuously broadcasts contempt for both.

Likewise, according to Australian professor and media analyst Stan Grant, one of the decisive factors in Australia’s election was religion. A large swathe of the public developed a sense that Labor leader Shorten held them and their religious convictions in contempt.

Grant recalls that in the weeks before the election, a national rugby star — who, like Morrison, is an evangelical Christian — wrote a disparaging post about homosexuals on his Facebook page. Whereas Morrison responded by drawing a line between his political actions and his religious beliefs to neutralize the issue, Shorten’s response was to castigate Morrison.

According to Grant, “Shorten’s move raised red flags in the minds of many voters. Just what did he stand for? Did he value the rights of the LGBTQ community not to be offended over the rights of someone to publicly profess their religious beliefs?

Grant added that Shorten’s response came the same week he “had given a rousing speech pledging to ‘change the nation forever.’”

It works out that while Australians do not oppose gay marriage, they don’t want their country to be fundamentally transformed. However they come down on social issues, they want Australia to stay Australia.

By adopting an attitude of contempt for them, Shorten, like Clinton and Obama and May and French President Emmanuel Macron insulted the voters.

Since the 1990s, we have been told that globalization is a progressive, post-nationalist movement. And it is true that many of the radical agendas the left has adopted in the past twenty years have been initiated in one country and spread worldwide through various connectors, most notably, social media.

On the left, the international academic community and the transnational business elite have embraced similar values and agendas. These values and agendas have become the calling cards of members of the international ruling elite. And these values and agendas have drifted farther and farther away from those of the denizens of the elitists’ home countries and societies.

The rise of the populist/nationalist/ideological right throughout the West demonstrates that globalization cuts both ways. Members of the global progressive and center-right elite embrace the same post-nationalist, post-industrial, and post-Christian values and agendas at elite conferences in Brussels and New York, at the United Nations, on network news and online. But back in their home countries, those they disregard are also online and also talking. The disregarded majorities are also listening to one another.

The most potent message that crosses the world each day and empowers populists and nationalist conservatives is one of exasperation and anger at the transnational elites’ solidarity in their contempt for their people. From Jerusalem to Budapest to Birmingham to Cincinnati, the spurned citizens have understood that the only way to force their contemptuous elites to heel is to vote them out of power.

For European Unionists and British Remainers, for the Israeli elite and the American establishment, the globalization of their values and agendas has brought them to believe that democracy means fixing the rules of the game. Through judicial activism and bureaucratic regulations, through intellectual terror and public shaming, these elites seek to render election results inconsequential. Ballot boxes, in their view, are no match for the combined forces of the elite media and academia and the bureaucracy. They determine norms. They determine policies – in the name of Democracy.

But throughout the West, the “deplorables” are listening to one another and rediscovering their power and voices at the ballot boxes. They realize that democracy is a means for the people to determine their course in the world. The elite may control the discourse, but the people decide who will run their countries.

True, specific voting issues vary from country to country. But the voters’ refusal to accept the contempt with which their elites’ treat them unifies voters throughout the Western world. And so long as the elites refuse to accept that the traditional values and agendas of their societies are not fascist and racist, but conventional and even commendable,  they will continue to misread polling data. They will continue to ignore voters. And they will continue to be blindsided by electoral defeats that they never expected.


Caroline Glick is the Director of the David Horowitz Freedom Center's Israel Security Project and the Senior Contributing Editor of The Jerusalem Post. For more information on Ms. Glick's work, visit carolineglick.com.

Source: https://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/273874/elite-contempt-common-denominator-populist-caroline-glick

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Hezbollah is looking for its next opportunity - Yoav Limor


by Yoav Limor

Hezbollah is trying to recoup from its losses in Syria and Israel's exposure of its tunnels, but that doesn't mean the organization has forgotten its main goal – to strike a painful blow to Israel that will echo throughout the Middle East.


Hezbollah is looking for its next opportunity
The massive Hezbollah tunnel whose dimensions the IDF reported on Wednesday | Photo: Lilach Shoval

With all the astonishment at Hezbollah’s impressive tunnel project, the tunnels themselves were just a tool that the organization intended to use to implement its plan to attack the Galilee.

It was a grandiose plan that entailed sending hundreds of fighters into Israeli territory, all at once, to occupy territory and commit killings and abductions, creating an unprecedented effect that would echo throughout the Middle East for years and make Hezbollah the first Arab entity to not only bring the war to Israel, but also cause physical and mental harm the like of which Israel has never known.

Fighters from Hezbollah’s elite Radwan Unit, named after one of the nicknames for Imad Mughniyeh, the Hezbollah military commander who was killed in Damascus in 2008 in an action that is attributed to Israel, was supposed to carry out the incursion. The unit, which was established for the purpose of executing covert actions against Israel, has been fighting in the Syrian war for the past several years, gaining extensive operational experience while suffering heavy casualties.

At the end of the war in Syria, most of the Radwan fighters returned to Lebanon, and in the past few months have been moving to the south of the country. We cannot assume this means that Hezbollah is looking for a war with Israel. The opposite: the organization is still licking its wounds, as well as suffering from the exposure and destruction of its tunnels, and is in financial trouble due to the economic situation in Iran, which led Tehran to slash funding for Hezbollah. It certainly won’t rush into another, much more difficult, war.

Nevertheless, the unit – with its special capabilities – continuing to dig in southern Lebanon shows that Hezbollah has not given up its basic intentions and its intensive preparations for its next war with Israel. The exposure of its tunnels certainly requires it to change its operational plans, but the basic idea remains the same: a ground operation heading south, toward the Galilee, with the purpose of wreaking death and destruction.

Radwan is supposed to spearhead the action, which will be accompanied by a storm of rockets, mortars, anti-tank missiles, drones, and plenty of other tactics. All of these comprise a real challenge for Israel, certainly as Radwan closes the distance as it continues to move south. For Israel, that carries certain advantages: a unit of that size needs a train of logistic and command support, which provides plenty of targets.

After the success of the IDF’s Northern Shield operation, this will be the Northern Command’s main challenge for the foreseeable future – to expose any new plans Hezbollah comes up with and prepare a double response, one that will deter Hezbollah and root out its desire to fight, or if not – will guarantee major achievements for the IDF.

Still, make no mistake – despite Israel’s victories, Hezbollah is a serious, devious enemy that is the IDF’s biggest challenge right now. The recent blows to its operations will not cause it to take its eyes off its goal, which is to attack Israel. To do so, Hezbollah will stop at nothing – above or underground.


Yoav Limor

Source: https://www.israelhayom.com/2019/05/30/hezbollah-is-looking-for-its-next-opportunity/

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Young Arabs Say Religion Plays Too Big a Role in the Middle East - Dr. James M. Dorsey


by Dr. James M. Dorsey

Some two-thirds of those surveyed felt that religion played too large a role, up from 50% four years ago. Seventy-nine percent argued that religious institutions need to be reformed, while half said that religious values are holding the Arab world back.

Arab Youth Survey logo via asdaa bcw

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 1,187, May 30, 2019

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: A recent annual survey of Arab youth provides insights that should inform autocrats’ quest for social and economic reform. The survey also suggests, as do the intermittent anti-government protests that continue to erupt in different parts of the Arab world, that Western and Middle Eastern interests would be better served by more nuanced US and European approaches toward the region’s regimes.

Results of a recent annual survey of Arab youth concerns about their future suggest that Arab autocracies have yet to deliver expected public services and goods or explain autocratic efforts to promote nationalism. They indicate that jobs and social freedoms are more important to young Arabs than political rights.

Western governments have so far uncritically supported social and economic reform efforts rather than more forcefully seek to ensure that they bear fruit, and have been lax in pressuring regimes to curb excesses of political repression.

Critics charge that the survey by Dubai-based public relations firm asda’a bcw, which focused on the 18-24 age group, was flawed because it gave a greater weighting to views in smaller Gulf states as opposed to the region’s more populous countries, such as Egypt. The survey used small samples of up to 300 people and did not include Qatar, Syria, or Sudan.

The results are a mixed bag for Arab autocrats. They suggest that squaring the circle between the requirements of reform and youth expectations could prove to be regimes’ Achilles’ heel.

A majority of youth, weaned on decades of reliance on government for jobs and social services, say governments that are unilaterally rewriting social contracts and rolling back aspects of the cradle-to-grave welfare state have so far failed to deliver.

Even more problematic, young Arabs expect governments to provide for them at a time when reform requires streamlining of bureaucracies, reduced state control, and stimulation of the private sector.
A whopping 78% of those surveyed said it was the government’s responsibility to provide jobs. An equal number expected energy to be subsidized, 65% complained that governments were not doing enough to support young families, and 60% expected government to supply housing.

By the same token, 78% expressed concern about the quality of education on offer, including 70% of those in the Gulf. Yet 80% of those in the Gulf said local education systems prepared them for jobs of the future as opposed to a regional total of 49% who felt education was lagging. Nonetheless, only 38% of those surveyed in the Gulf said they would opt for local higher education.

There appeared to be a similar gap between the foreign and regional policies of governments and youth aspirations.

Assertive policies, particularly by Gulf states, that have fueled regional conflicts, including wars in Libya, Syria, and Yemen, the Saudi-Iranian rivalry, and the two-year-old diplomatic and economic boycott of Qatar, run counter to a desire among a majority of those surveyed to see an end to the disputes. Like their Saudi, Emirati, and Bahraini rulers, 67% of young Arabs see Iran as an enemy.
The survey also suggests that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, contrary to common wisdom, is an issue that resonates. With 79% of those surveyed saying they are concerned about the dispute, the question arises whether the Gulf’s rapprochement with Israel and support for Donald Trump’s peace plan enjoys popular support.

The suggestion that Gulf policies towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict may not be wholeheartedly supported is bolstered by the fact that the number of people surveyed this year who view the US as an enemy rose to 59% compared to 32% five years ago.

Similarly, Arab leaders’ reliance on religion as a regime legitimizer and efforts to steer Islam in the direction of apolitical quietism are proving to be a double-edged sword and one probable reason why men like Saudi crown prince Muhammad bin Salman have sought to reduce the role of the religious establishment by promoting hyper-nationalism.

Some two-thirds of those surveyed felt that religion played too large a role, up from 50% four years ago. Seventy-nine percent argued that religious institutions need to be reformed, while half said that religious values are holding the Arab world back.

Publication of the survey coincided with the release by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) of its 2019 report. The report designated Saudi Arabia as one of the world’s “worst violators” of religious freedoms, highlighting its discrimination against Shiite Muslims and Christians.

“Shi[ite] Muslims in Saudi Arabia continue to face discrimination in education, employment, and the judiciary, and lack access to senior positions in the government and military,” the 234-page report said.

Leaders of the United Arab Emirates, accused by human rights groups of systematic violations, are likely to see a silver lining in the survey and a reconfirmation of their policy of economic and relative social liberalism coupled with absolute political control.

Forty-four percent of those surveyed named the UAE as their preferred country as opposed to less than 22% opting for Canada, the US, Turkey, or Britain.

In a white paper accompanying the survey, Afshin Molavi, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, concluded that the survey showed that “the demands and dreams of young Arabs are neither radical nor revolutionary” and that they were unlikely to “fall for the false utopias or ‘charismatic’ leaders their parents fell for.”

Jihad Azour, the International Monetary Fund’s top Middle East person, said in his contribution to the white paper that “what is needed is a new social contract between MENA (Middle East and North Africa) governments and citizens that ensures accountability, transparency and a commitment to the principle that no one is left behind… The latest youth survey makes clear that we have a long way to go.”



Dr. James M. Dorsey, a non-resident Senior Associate at the BESA Center, is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University and co-director of the University of Würzburg’s Institute for Fan Culture.

Source: https://besacenter.org/perspectives-papers/arabs-survey-religion/

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