Saturday, March 28, 2009

Western civilization and Islam.




The West has build up its worst enemy.


So we fed a small worm called Islam with undeserved honor, gave it weapons – then, Lo and Behold, it grew into a man-eating dragon. Now it demands that it be fed a diet of human flesh as if it deserved to be fed. Once fed the dragon of Muslims may sleep for a day, or a week but then it is back again, blowing up trains, markets and, if it can, whole cities with Russian suitcase nukes yet to come.  What can we expect from Islam ? Islam claims : "Islam was the first institution ever to advocate and implement human rights as universal equality. In fact, Islam promoted the universality of the human experience over 1300 years before the United Nations." The Dragon of Islam cannot be pacified and only a Dragon Slayer can solve the problem. Discover the Islam "Human Rights" with Wafa Sultan Just open :




Friday, March 27, 2009

"Dialogue" with Islam and its Backlash.


by Raphael Israeli


This Pessach eve, of the year 2009, we are faced by announcements of the British government, to the effect that it has ceased its dealings with the major Muslim  Council of Britain  (MCB) , and by the Jewish organizations of France that they discontinued their “dialogue” with  French Muslims. In both instances, the reasons cited were the same.


Namely, the double game the Muslim groups were playing: on the one hand seeking “dialogue” with their partners, as a means of coexistence and of smoothing over difficulties in communications; but on the other hand supporting Hamas, which wants no dialogue with Israel. The non-Muslim parties in these “dialogues” were late in awakening to the reality, that Muslim culture understood “dialogue” not as way to facilitate rapprochement and understanding, by way of negotiation and clarification, but as a means to lend legitimacy to the monologue it wishes its partners to hear and to heed. When, after a few years of vain encounters, the non-Muslim participants finally understood, they withdrew  from that exercise of goodwill once they realized that  the other party did not respond in kind.


Some naïve minds in the West have come to believe that dialogue and negotiations with Muslim radicals can and will alter those attitudes and lead to coexistence between Muslims and their rivals. The problem is that dialogue has been treated in the West as if it were a real policy, whereas it is in fact a non-policy, designed only to fill an awkward vacuum and to make royalties like Prince Charles, and legislators, feel virtuous for “doing something.” But while Europeans have regularly entered a “dialogue” with Muslims in good faith, fully intending to find common ground with their often unruly Muslim interlocutors—for the Muslims, “dialogue” means something else entirely. For them, it signifies the submission of a lesser culture and religion to their own superior one, which they seek to impose on the others. Muslims hope to inspire in the Westerners and Israelis, conversion to an Islamic view of the world. Anything short of that is regarded by them as an abject “failure of dialogue,” and a signal to resort to threats of violence or acts of terrorism. They are well practiced at both, while the Westerners have literally become pushovers at this stage in their history. Except for the U.S., they hardly believe that anything is worth fighting over. Nor do they have a stomach for a fight of unlimited duration. They would rather capitulate than investigate in depth the meaning of tolerance, understanding, dialogue, and peace to the Islamists.


The problem today lies in the juxtaposition of a resurgent Islam on the one hand, and a self-deprecating West on the other, unsure of itself, its values, or even what it stands for. Its people have made a virtue of instant self-gratification, and therefore they invest next to nothing in the future—hence they have stopped having children. Their preferred way of life amounts to a “credit card culture.” They want everything, and they want it instantly. Never mind that their governments no longer raise sufficient funds from taxation to cover exorbitant welfare entitlements, or that a bleak financial future awaits tomorrow’s pensioners. In short, the West has become a disgrace to its own heritage in sharp reversal of its fortunes when at the turn of the twentieth century the Muslim Ottoman Empire was considered the “sick man of Europe,” and was therefore no match for a confident West. Former U.S. Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, was onto something apart from the obvious when he distinguished between “old” and “new” Europe—except that in their eagerness to grab some (necessarily short-term) economic benefits after emerging from Soviet control, the headlong rush of “new” Europe to join the EU, will inevitably contaminate them with the prevalent Western disease.


There is another drawback to this constant resort to “dialogue.” It lulls the  Western populations into believing that their governments are doing something constructive to avert violence, or threats of violence, in the future. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth, for this non-policy simply serves to embolden and concomitantly empower those Muslims whom Western governments have chosen to act as intermediaries with the wider Muslim community. Invariably, Western governments have elected these Muslims largely because they are the activists, and therefore are prominent in the community, while the governments comfort themselves with the injudicious belief that these figures represent “moderate” Islam. However, these Muslims have been living in Europe long enough to have learned to tailor their vocabulary precisely according to whom they are facing across the table. They speak the language of peace, reconciliation, and goodwill to Westerners, and reserve their true thoughts and beliefs for fellow Muslims. In other words, they have learned to “work the system,” admirably so. In effect, these “moderate” Muslim leaders gradually extract one concession after another from Western policymakers, rendering “dialogue” a one-way street. They enter each session with the full intention of testing the limits of the concessions they can extract, and it is a rare government minister who would risk disappointing them—or else the headlines in the papers the following day would be sure to inflame the Muslim community.


Herein lies the value of the worldwide Muslim penchant for overreacting to every perceived slight, real or imagined, by demonstrating their “rage” loudly and violently. Temperament comes into play here too, for unlike other peoples who experience anger or humiliation, many Muslims are either unable or unwilling to contain those sentiments. One has only to recall the Arafat-orchestrated “days of

rage” in the early days of the Intifadah against Israel, in order to understand that,

in sharp contrast to Westerners, Muslims make a fetish of celebrating their anger. Such an uncontrolled behavior is unthinkable in the West, but not because of lack of provocation, particularly since September 11. Funerals too are manipulated to vent wrath and fury, emotion, general mayhem, and impromptu rifle-shooting. The total and shameless lack of dignity, even at what should be a somber occasion, is jarring to western eyes. Bodies are held aloft and bounced along the route, in a manner that would be regarded as disrespectful to the deceased in other cultures. Bodies have been known to fall off the stretcher amid the melee, and other processions turning chaotic as was recorded for posterity in the case of Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini’s funeral.


The explosion of the Cartoon Affair in Europe and the Middle East in 2006, which occasioned many deaths, boycotts, rage and world-wide demonstrations by Muslims, because some obscure artist dared to depict, in an obscure journal,  Muhammed in derogatory terms, in itself not only points to the pathological sensitivities of Muslims, but also  to their obtuse attitude to others in their “dialogues”. When the President of Iran vows to eliminate the Jewish people and to wipe Israel off the map, none of those dialoguing Muslim organizations raises its voice in protest; none also protested when Christian churches were torched, as a matter of course,  throughout the Muslim world, or when the Joseph Tomb and the Jericho synagogues were burned and destroyed by Palestinians during the Intifadah. Only hurting the reputation of Muhammed matters, and justifies the use of violence, while the very notion of respect for other religions, simply does not exist. Therefore, dialogue is only made to instill into western minds the respect of Islam and its values, as the resolution of the Human Rights Commission, just adopted in Geneva, plainly attests. As more and more western and Jewish organizations are finally grasping  the meaning of “dialogue” for their Muslim partners,  they may also try, at long last, to make it  more egalitarian, reciprocal, and perhaps also efficacious.



Raphael Israeli

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


Europe's Shifting Immigration Dynamic Part I


by Esther Ben-David


1st part of 2

Western Europe has gone through two major stages in its recent immigration history. In the first stage, European leaders misjudged the effects of immigration and, in the second, they miscalculated how hard it would be to stop an immigration dynamic.

Beginning in the mid-twentieth century, European countries have changed from net sources of emigration to attractive destinations for immigration. Today Muslims, many from rural traditional areas, comprise the bulk of non-European immigrants to Europe. Even those who have settled in cities retain a village mentality and are seen as backward by the business and cultural elites in their home countries. Moroccans who settled in the Netherlands and Belgium, for example, are mostly Berbers from the Rif mountains, not the Arab cultural elite[1] from Casablanca, Rabat, or Fez. These immigrants came to Europe in order to build railroads, work in the coal mines, clean streets, and do the jobs that Europeans did not want to do.[2] Both "push" and "pull" factors affect immigration. Push factors are those that lead the immigrant to leave his homeland while pull factors are those which attract him to a different country. Europe and other Western liberal countries exert a strong pull on immigrants. However, stopping immigration is not easy, if at all possible, since the same European liberal laws that attract immigrants also prevent states from acting to stop them from coming or, later, to deport them.



After World War II, countries such as France, Belgium, and Germany started to allow and even entice foreign workers to come. The economic boom in those countries attracted immigrants, first from poor southern European countries such as Italy and Spain, and then from the far shores of the Mediterranean, North Africa, and the Middle East. The United Kingdom attracted immigrants from throughout the British empire: Indians and Pakistanis came to Britain from the 1950s on, Bangladeshis from the 1970s. France, Germany, and the Netherlands also attracted immigrants from their former colonies. The host European governments understood these migrants to be temporary guest workers as did many of the migrants themselves.

The economic downturn in the early 1970s led European policymakers to realize that immigration was not always a positive phenomenon. Many immigrants were suddenly unemployed, but they did not go back to their home countries. As fears grew that foreign workers sought permanent residence, between 1973 and 1975, Western European governments instituted an "immigration stop," introducing restrictive measures to deter immigration and to put a stop to recruiting foreign labor.

This immigration stop had unforeseen consequences. Migration of foreign workers dwindled, but the migration dynamic nevertheless continued. Migrants residing in Europe could continue to sponsor their extended family's immigration and, indeed, relaxation of restrictions on family reunification encouraged further immigration. The time between the first proposals for a halt and their implementation exacerbated the problem as immigrants hurried to bring over their families, fearful that the doors to Europe would soon close forever.

Ironically, in the decades that have passed since the halt to immigration, more immigrants have come to Europe than in preceding decades. Indeed, by looking at the number of immigrants in various countries, it would be difficult to determine how far back the block had been implemented in practice. In the Netherlands, for example, the number of first- and second-generation Moroccan and Turkish immigrants has increased almost tenfold  since the 1974 halt.

Researchers have long sought to chart the immigration dynamic and to predict future trends. When Poland joined the European Union, forecasts of the number of Polish workers who would immigrate to the United Kingdom underestimated reality. The British government expected 15,000 immigrants a year from the newly-admitted European Union countries but instead approved close to 430,000 applications in two years, a figure that does not include self-employed immigrants who could resettle without applying for a work permit.[3]

Even when the trend is known, forecasts tend to miscalculate reality. A Dutch study from 1994, for example, thought marriage immigration had already peaked.[4] However, a study from 2005 by a Dutch government agency, Statistics Netherlands, shows that between 1995 and 2003, marriage immigration of Turks almost doubled, increasing from slightly less than 2,000 per year to close to 4,000. Marriage immigration of Moroccans in the same period tripled, increasing from slightly over 1,000 a year to about 3,000. This same study expects marriage immigration to peak by the mid 2020s, as second generation immigrants age.[5]

In Germany, while the Turkish population stabilized briefly in the 1980s,[6] it later increased steadily despite the 1973 check on immigration.

And a 1997 study by the Norwegian Statistical Bureau found that 50 percent of immigrants had arrived since 1989, and that 30 percent of the total immigrant community had arrived in just the past five years.[7]

And, according to the lowest available estimates, the number of North Africans in France tripled since the government started restricting immigration in 1974.


An Immigration Dynamic.

While North African and Middle Eastern immigrants to Europe initially focused on filling the labor market for short periods of time before returning home after a few years, after the immigration stop the new immigrants were whole families—husbands, wives, and children—who left their homeland behind to settle permanently in Europe. The arrival of families both changed the scale of immigration and the entire character of the immigrant communities. Immigrants now grew concerned about schooling, health care, and proper housing.

Families also changed the immigrants' attitudes towards religious and cultural values. Whereas single workers either isolated themselves or sought to experience the more liberal lifestyle of Europe, the arrival of families led immigrants to transport their honor culture and modesty standards to the West and to put into practice their attitudes toward women. And while temporary workers accepted basement mosques as a temporary solution to their communal prayer needs, with increasing numbers and the presence of families, these were no longer adequate. Immigrant parents brought their children to the West to give them new opportunities, but they did not want them to fall prey to Western temptations.

Immigration is a personal decision. However, once many people make the decision to leave their home country, the flow of immigrants takes on a life of its own. This immigration dynamic is hard, if not impossible, to stop. Immigrants choose to go to destinations with which they are acquainted and about which they have heard from friends and relatives who immigrated previously. Such destinations provide informal support structures and social networks. This leads to a situation where immigrants from a certain home area all congregate in a certain area in the host country, thereby leading to immigrant ghettoes. In the United States, for example, Minneapolis-St. Paul has become an unlikely immigrant ghetto for Somalis, and Los Angeles—"Tehrangeles"—is an immigrant destination for Iranians.

In Belgium, similarly, immigrants from the Turkish city of Emirdağ and its vicinity settled in Brussels and Ghent. [8] According to one emigrant from Emirdağ, it is common knowledge that family and friends live on the same street or neighborhood in Belgium as they do "back home."[9] In the Netherlands, many of the Moroccans come from the Rif mountain town of al-Hoceima; Bangladeshis, mostly coming from the northeastern Sylhet area, came to the United Kingdom and settled in the East London boroughs, particularly in Tower Hamlets. Pakistanis, mostly from Kashmir and the Punjab, settled in Birmingham, with another large concentration in Bradford. The immigrants who first came to the country set the way for their compatriots to follow. Pakistanis, Vietnamese, and more recently, Iraqis, are the largest groups of non-European immigrants in Norway. North Africans and Albanians make up the largest groups in Italy.

The more people emigrate from a certain town or village, the more likely it becomes that their neighbors or their neighbors' children will follow in their path. The immigration dynamic means that entire generations of children in villages and towns across the Third World grow up knowing that they are likely to immigrate in the future, either by marrying a cousin or by other means.

Europe today offers unique possibilities. It is much closer to North Africa and Turkey than other immigration countries such as the United States, Canada, or Australia and can be reached without air travel. Additionally, freedom of travel within Europe enables immigrants to start in the most accessible country and later make their way to their true destination. This is especially true with asylum seekers, who may arrive in Greece or Italy, for example, but then try to make their way to "easier" countries like Sweden or Norway.[10]

Technological advances have also changed immigration. Travel accessibility has transformed journeys of months or years into hours or days. Major European air carriers offer direct flights connecting Europe to the Middle East and Asia. Even after the immigrant has arrived, he can keep in constant contact with his home country: by phone and the Internet or via satellite television.[11] He can also return for summer vacations. Whereas immigrants of the past had little choice but to assimilate into their host countries, today, they can retain their native identities to the exclusion of the national identity of their new home.

In many cases, the immigrant "sojourns,"[12] living in both countries, setting up two residences and splitting his time between his new country and his homeland. Sojourning not only retards integration but also ensures continuation of the immigration dynamic since the immigrant's countrymen back home are continuously in touch and reminded of the wealth that immigration offers.

Immigrants tend to invest back in their home country, building palatial residences to show their success in Europe. There are entire neighborhoods in some countries that were built by emigrants who rarely live there: "Little Norway" in Gujarat, Pakistan,[13] or the "Belgian Neighborhood" in Tangier.[14] These neighborhoods usually only come to life in the summer when the immigrants return for annual vacations.

Investing in the home country also means less money to invest in day-to-day life in their new country. Immigrants might still be living in squalid conditions in Paris or Amsterdam, but their relatives in Morocco and Turkey can be satisfied with their success. Among Turkish immigrants in Belgium, there are those who borrow money to buy an expensive car for the summer trip to Turkey in order to show that they have succeeded in Europe. They then sell the car upon their return to Europe.[15] The "Belgian neighborhood" in Tangier was supposedly built with the savings and child benefits of the immigrants. [16]


Current Immigration: Family Reunification.

Currently, immigration to Europe is possible through several channels: through an employment or student permit for skilled workers, by marriage immigration and family reunification, or asylum and illegal immigration. Skilled foreign workers and students are considered the ideal immigrants though this immigration has a negative effect on their home countries. Third World countries need trained doctors, engineers, and academics to push their economy forward. The "brain drain" encourages further immigration and retards progress.

Family reunification is one of the most common ways to immigrate to Europe today. This means that immigration laws in host countries have transformed immigrant youth into virtual human visas. The commonality of cousin marriages to aid the extended family or to keep resources within the family encourages marriages between immigrants and family members back in the host country. The Western legal system reinforces tribal marriage patterns by giving families incentives to use marriage to work around the European immigration system. In Norway, for example, the proportion of cousin-marriages within the Pakistani immigrant community is greater than in Pakistan itself.[17]

Marriage immigration also perpetuates itself. Studies show that the age at which an immigrant woman first becomes a mother increases and the number of children decreases the longer her family is in Europe.[18] That is, a first generation immigrant would exhibit behavior closer to her native country while a second and third generation immigrant would tend to be more similar to the local population. Marriage immigration therefore ensures a continued high level of fertility among the immigrant population.

Many forecasts regarding the Muslim immigration to Europe expect that immigrant Muslims will eventually integrate into society. However, marriage immigration ensures that the immigrant population never progresses past the stage of first and second generation immigrants, frustrating integration. Also hampering demographic forecasts is the fact that many second generation immigrants prefer to marry spouses from their parents' home country. Studies among Moroccan and Turkish youth in Belgium show that they often prefer to marry spouses from "back home" rather than marrying a fellow second generation immigrant like themselves.[19] Boys, dissatisfied with what they see as the Westernization of immigrant women, opt for more traditional women from the home country. Moroccan immigrant youth visiting their home country are often accosted with offers of sex and money in exchange for a visa by local girls desperate to get to the "Promised Land."[20]

Girls, on the other hand, are dissatisfied with what they see as the lower-class behaviors of many immigrant men and their attitudes towards marriage and women and, therefore, opt for a more "open," gentlemanly, and educated man, also from back home. The market value of legal immigrant women is especially high.[21] In Norway, marriageable Muslim girls are sometimes called "gilded paper" or "visa."[22] Marrying a husband from the home country has the additional benefit that the wife can be quite sure her new in-laws will not interfere in her marriage. This is important as it is traditional among immigrants for the new couple to live in the house of the husband's parents and under their authority until they have children.

Esther Ben-David                 

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


Europe's Shifting Immigration Dynamic Part II


by Esther Ben-David


2nd  part of 2

Current Immigration: Asylum Seekers.

Traditionally, asylum was reserved for those who fled persecution. Before the immigration stop, some asylum seekers came as economic migrants without bothering to go through the official process of being recognized as refugees. After the immigration stop, the process changed and many economic migrants started posing as refugees as a "consciously planned act of subversion."[23] Asylum seekers enter the country as illegal immigrants, destroying their papers and lying as much as necessary to achieve their objective—a new life in Europe. Today, those who cannot immigrate through marriage often choose the asylum process regardless of their situation back home. Only a minority of asylum seekers are quota refugees for whom the United Nations has recognized their status during a stay in refugee camps ahead of their travel to Europe. Most refugees enter Europe illegally, which requires paying smugglers and sometimes obtaining fake documents. These refugees make their way to the country most likely to accept their application. In recent years, Iraqi and Afghan refugees crossed several European states in order to claim asylum in Sweden and Norway, countries which have more liberal asylum laws. And many of those seeking asylum exaggerate or fabricate persecution claims creating an absurd situation whereby asylum seekers, claiming shelter in Europe, spend holidays on vacation in their countries of origin.[24]

Still, there are real cases of political persecution. Beginning in the 1950s, many Muslim students arrived in Germany not only to take advantage of the technical education in German universities but also to escape political persecution by secular, military leaders such as Gamal Abdel Nasser, bent on eradicating Islamist groups back home.[25] One of these exiles was Said Ramadan, son-in-law of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna, and father of Tariq Ramadan. Said Ramadan was granted asylum in Switzerland where he continued working for Muslim Brotherhood interests. The trend has accelerated into the 1980s and 1990s as Islamist activists fled intensified domestic crackdowns in Syria, North Africa, and Egypt. However, unlike many asylum seekers who sought to flee oppression, these refugees sought to replicate it, plotting the replacement of secular dictatorships with religious dictatorships. They cared little for the values of liberal democracy even as they sought to utilize it for their own purposes. European officials, perhaps for reasons of moral equivalency, granted such activists asylum without regard to what caused the persecution against them in the first place. Using their new European base, many of these Islamist activists continued in their struggle for regime change in their homelands, creating networks that at times became the basis for today's European Muslim terrorist networks. As one Egyptian official said, "European countries like Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, England and others, which give sanctuary to these terrorists should now understand it will come back to haunt them where they live."[26] The idea of "refugee" has degenerated so much that, during the war in Afghanistan, British officials granted asylum to Taliban fighters.[27]

Conversely, Islamic countries can also produce refugees who flee strict application of Islamic law, individuals such as homosexuals, converts from Islam to other religions, or members of persecuted minorities, such as the Ahmadiyya in Pakistan, or the Jews in Yemen who may face capital punishment for their beliefs or actions.[28] However, such a trend can encourage fraud. For example, after the Norwegian government granted automatic residence permits to persecuted homosexuals, fifty Iranian asylum seekers claimed to be persecuted homosexuals. At least one married in Iran and after receiving asylum proceeded to request family reunification. Several others reported doubtful stories but were given asylum anyway.[29]

Likewise, the decision to grant automatic residence permits to converts from Islam—even those who converted after arriving in Europe—encourages more abuse.[30] In Norway, one hundred Afghan refugees converted to Christianity after the rejection of their initial asylum claims.[31]

While European governments do reject the applications of many asylum seekers, this does not mean the individuals leave or are deported. Perhaps 80 percent of asylum seekers stay in Europe after the rejection of their application.[32]

There are many reasons why asylum seekers are not immediately deported. The West's liberal court systems allow for appeals and for further review after a decision by the first instance of justice. Death sentences in the home country, seen as inhumane by the Europeans, or refusal by the home country to accept its own citizens back can also prevent deportation. Others simply disappear, continuing to live in the country as undocumented illegal immigrants. The result is that those detained in camps for months or years before the completion of court processes are removed from productivity and learn to live at public expense.

In the years of legal battles, prospective asylum seekers are willing to do everything in order to ensure their stays. Children are kept as virtual hostages without knowing their own family abroad, without learning their original mother tongue, and without being able to integrate in their original homelands as a last resort for a residence permit on grounds of humane consideration should the asylum battle fail.[33]

Those who live illegally do not pay taxes and cannot enjoy the full benefits of a welfare society. However, as more illegal immigrants arrive in a country, pressure grows to regularize them by awarding them amnesty and residence permits. Though regularization deals with the humanitarian aspects of the illegal immigrant's situation, it also gives incentives for illegal behavior and further immigration. In Belgium, for example, illegal immigrants have protested in recent years for regularization. Such protests have involved squatting in churches and climbing high-rise cranes. This creates an irony in which state attempts to stop immigration are thwarted by institutions—such as churches—that are subsidized by the state itself. The Belgian protests are aided by pro-immigrant groups, many of which the state also subsidizes.


The Challenge of Stopping Immigration

European governments are aware of the problem. Since the immigration stop of the 1970s, there have been several attempts to halt or slow down the immigration flow. Some European governments seek to discourage emigration by improving the life conditions of the prospective emigrant in his home country or by trying to scare prospective immigrants through ad campaigns that show the horrors of life as an illegal immigrant. In 2007, Spain ran an ad campaign in West Africa warning Africans not to risk their lives in futile illegal immigration.[34]

Ignorance contributes to immigration. Researchers studying Turkish marriage immigrants who immigrated to Belgium found that children and adults growing up in Turkey in an emigration town, that is, a town where most of the residents either emigrated or wanted to emigrate, were unaware of the basic facts of European life. They knew about the high unemployment benefits but were not aware that basic necessities were much more expensive. One marriage-migrant interviewee admitted frankly that life in Belgium was not what he had expected. However, when he tried warning the youth in his hometown of the hardships of immigration, he was accused of wanting to keep new-found wealth to himself.[35]

The problem with both methods is that a European lifestyle is based not only on material wealth but also on the rights and privileges of a liberal democracy. Even if it were easy to try to create jobs and affluence in countries such as Tunisia—which it is not—it would be harder to change the fabric of the legal system in a liberalizing direction.

Several countries have also tried unsuccessfully to convince immigrants to leave their new homes by offering incentives and continued welfare support for those who return to their native countries. Two such programs in France, the first in 1977 and the second in 2005, ended in failure. Creating incentives for departure might also backfire by encouraging migration for the purpose of collecting the offered benefits and by convincing those in the home country that Europe is drowning in cash, ready to be exploited.

As many countries become aware that the long-term effects of a brain drain outweigh any short-term benefits from remittances, some have themselves begun to discourage emigration. The Algerian Ministry of Religious Affairs, for example, issued a fatwa (religious edict) decreeing that illegal immigrants who die at sea have committed suicide, a sin in Islam.[36]

Tightening immigration laws is an obvious strategy but one that is undercut by inconsistent regulations among EU states. Sweden, long the destination of choice for Iraqi asylum seekers, saw claims drop after it tightened its regulations although there was an increase in asylum claims in neighboring Norway during the same period. Tough marriage immigration laws in the Netherlands likewise encouraged the creation of the "Belgian Route," in which the non-EU spouse first comes to Belgium, using that country's laxer marriage-immigration laws. After the couple stay in the country for the minimum amount of time required by EU law, they move to the Netherlands. A recent EU Court decision, however, scrapped the requirement for a minimum stay and rejected any national restrictions on free movement.[37] Judicial activism compounds the problem when courts create new legislation by imposing their own opinions on elected lawmakers.

In two such recent cases, for example, courts struck down laws intended to prevent immigration. A court in Amsterdam rejected a requirement for immigrants from certain countries to undergo integration testing and to prove their knowledge of Dutch language and culture in their home countries before receiving a visa to the Netherlands for marriage immigration.[38] The high court in Belgium struck down a law preventing the children of polygamous marriages from immigrating to Belgium in order to reunite with their father and, thereby, opened the option for the polygamous spouse to do the same.[39]

As these countries are EU members, they also subordinate national law to European Union directives and to the decisions of the European Court. For example, in recent years, both Denmark and the Netherlands have passed laws limiting family reunification. In both cases, marriage immigration dropped significantly from about 60 to 38 percent in four years, 2001-05, for Denmark,[40] and from 56 to 27 percent for Dutch Turks and 57 to 23 percent for Dutch Moroccans over a five year period beginning in 2001.[41] However, in July 2008, the European Court prohibited member states from denying residence permits to non-EU spouses of EU citizens or residents.[42] This ruling caused a political crisis in Denmark, but it holds for all other countries as well, and in practice prevents them from stopping marriage immigration.



It will be far more difficult to stop immigration than it was to initiate the immigration flow. A unified European approach, slashing the time to process requests and achieve final adjudication might help to decrease immigration. Immigration to Europe might have developed differently with tougher, more restrictive immigration policies, but as long as Europe offers opportunities for work, education, and personal safety, and as long as it offers a liberal democracy with the rights and privileges such a lifestyle entails, it will continue to attract mass immigration.

The West has always been proud of its moral standard of protecting human rights and giving refuge to persecuted individuals. Referral to human rights has catalyzed immigration. For example, the right to marry is recognized as a fundamental right that in many European countries brings conveyance of citizenship. However, in a society where arranged marriages are the norm and forced marriages are common, the right to marry can easily place the law on the side of the aggressor who coerces somebody else to marry rather than the victim. Redefining refugee status by creating so many categories that fulfil it renders that status meaningless. Not only does it encourage economic immigration, it actually hurts those who truly need refuge.


Esther Ben-David is an independent researcher of Islam in Europe.

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


[1] Anja van Heelsum, "Moroccan Berbers in Europe, the US and Africa and the Concept of Diaspora," Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies, University of Amsterdam, June 20, 2003.
[2] Ural Manço, "Turks in Europe: From a Garbled Image to the Complexity of Migrant Social Reality," Centre d'Etudes Sociologiques, Facultes Universitaires Saint-Louis, Brussels, Belgium, accessed Dec. 30, 2008.
[3] BBC News, Aug. 22, 2006.
[4] Hans Van Amersfoort and Rinus Penninx, "Regulating Migration in Europe: The Dutch Experience, 1960-92," Strategies for Immigration Control: An International Comparison [Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science] (London: Sage Publications, 1994), pp. 133-46.
[5] Maarten Alders, "Prognose van gezinsvormende migratie van Turken en Marokkanen," Bevolkingstrends, 2nd quarter, 2005, pp. 46-9.
[6] Jorgen S. Nielsen, Muslims in Western Europe: Islamic Surveys (New York: Columbia University Press, Oct.1992), pp. 25-6.
[7] Unni Wikan, Generous Betrayal: Politics of Culture in the New Europe (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001), pp. 234, ftnt. 24.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Ibid., p. 201-2.
[10] The Local (Stockholm), Nov. 29, 2007.
[11] BBC News, Aug. 16, 2006.
[12] Wikan, Generous Betrayal, p. 194.
[13] Ibid., p. 242, ftnt. 76.
[14] Hind Fraihi, Undercover in Klein-Marokko, Achter de Gesloten Duren van de Radicale Islam (Leuven: Uitgeverij Van Halewyck, 2006), p. 78.
[15] Hilâl Yalçin, Ina Lodewyckx, Rudy Marynissen, and Rut Van Caudenberg, Verliefd verloofd..gemigreerd. Een onderzoek naar Turkse huwelijksmigratie in Vlaanderen, (Antwerp: Steunpunt Gelijkekansenbeleid, University of Antwerp-University of Hasselt, 2006), p. 186-91.
[16] Fraihi, Undercover in Klein-Marokko, p. 78.
[17] Dagens Medisin (Oslo), Mar. 8, 2007.
[18] Joop Garssen and Han Nicolaas, "Fertility of Turkish and Moroccan Women in the Netherlands: Adjustment to native level within one generation," Demographic Research, July 18, 2008, pp. 1249-80.
[19] Ina Lodewyckx, Johan Geets, and Christiane Timmerman, reds., Aspecten van Marokkaanse huwelijksmigratie en Marokkaans familierecht (Antwerp: Steunpunt Gelijkekansenbeleid, University of Antwerp-University of Hasselt, 2006); Yalçin, et. al., Verliefd verloofd..gemigreerd. Een onderzoek naar Turkse huwelijksmigratie in Vlaanderen, p. 160.
[20] Fraihi, Undercover in Klein-Marokko, p. 54.
[21] Van Amersfoort and Penninx, "Regulating Migration in Europe: The Dutch Experience, 1960-92," pp. 133-46.
[22] Wikan, Generous Betrayal, p. 216.
[23] Ibid., pp. 39-41.
[24] Aftenposten (Oslo), May 15, 2007.
[25] Lorenzo Vidino, "The Muslim Brotherhood's Conquest of Europe," Middle East Quarterly, Winter 2005, pp. 25-34.
[26] The Houston Chronicle, Sept. 24, 1995.
[27] Lorenzo Vidino, Al Qaeda in Europe: The New Battleground of International Jihad (Amherst: Prometheus Books, 2006), pp. 46-7.
[28] See, for example, Andrew Hollin, "Dissident Watch: Mehdi Kazemi," Middle East Quarterly, Fall 2008, p. 96.
[29] VG Nett (Oslo), June 6, 2006.
[30] Nederlands Dagblad (Barneveld), July 4, 2008.
[31] Dagbladet (Oslo), July 18, 2008.
[32] Wikan, Generous Betrayal, pp. 39-41.
[33] Aftenposten, July 27, 2007.
[34] BBC News, Sept. 20, 2007.
[35] Yalçin, et. al., Verliefd verloofd..gemigreerd. Een onderzoek naar Turkse huwelijksmigratie in Vlaanderen, pp. 186-91.
[36] Adnkronos International News, Apr. 29, 2008.
[37] Metock and Others, Case C127/08, The Court of Justice of the European Communities, July 25, 2008.
[38] De Telegraaf (Amsterdam), July 15, 2008.
[39] HLN, July 10, 2008.
[40] The Copenhagen Post, Nov. 7, 2007.
[41] "Minder migratiehuwelijken Turken en Marokkanen," Netherlands Statistics, The Hague and Heerlen, Jan. 7, 2008, accessed Jan. 16, 2008.
[42] Metock and Others, Case C‑127/08.        ../..


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Charges of IDF's "Wanton Killing" Crumble.


by Alex Safian


Less than a month after Israel concluded operations in Gaza, some of the soldiers who served there met at the pre-military academy they had attended to discuss their experiences in the fighting. As the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz has reported, the head of the academy, Danny Zamir, arranged the gathering, and at the outset he condemned the Israeli operation for setting "new limits for the army's ethical code and that of the State of Israel" and for sowing "massive destruction among civilians."


The only reason this is notable is because the transcript released by Zamir also included allegations of two specific atrocities, the killing by snipers of an elderly woman, and of a woman and her two children. These allegations have gotten huge coverage around the world, including in the New York Times (see below), the Washington Post, the BBC, the Guardian, and the Financial Times.


While in Israel initial doubts were raised about these claims because they were actually hearsay rather than eyewitness accounts, now the charges have been further debunked. The brigade commander of the unit linked to the supposed killings launched his own investigation, speaking with actual eyewitnesses, all of whom said that the alleged incidents did not took place.


In the discussion that included the atrocity stories, Danny Zamir also declared to the soldiers:


I think it would be important for parents to sit here and hear this discussion. I think it would be an instructive discussion, and also very dismaying and depressing. You are describing an army with very low value norms, that's the truth.


Since, as Ha'aretz put it, Zamir "does not hide his political opinions," it seems likely that his former students at the left-leaning Kibbutz-affiliated school knew what Zamir wanted to hear at the meeting, and that only a self-selected group attended. In any event, some of the attendees certainly did not disappoint Zamir, who had been imprisoned by the IDF in 1990 for refusing to serve in the West Bank. They recounted tales of "murder in cold blood," including seemingly eyewitness accounts of a sniper shooting a woman and two of her children merely because they made a wrong turn, and another sniper killing an old woman.


Zamir wrote an article about the discussion for the academy's newsletter, which he then provided to the Israeli newspapers Ha'aretz and Maariv, triggering in Ha'aretz alone multiple stories extremely critical of the Israeli army's alleged conduct (here, here, here, here and here), as well as numerous stories in the foreign press, such as the New York Times, which put its initial report on page one above the fold (here and here). Both the Ha'aretz and the New York Times reports ignored detailed testimony by soldiers of exemplary conduct by the IDF, such as soldiers leaving an envelope of cash for the Palestinian homeowner whose house they had occupied.


While the Israeli government has promised a full and even a criminal investigation, serious doubts were quickly raised about some of the charges.


For example, on Israel's Channel 2, defense correspondent Roni Daniel reported that the soldier who supposedly witnessed the sniper shoot a mother and two of her children has now admitted to his brigade commander that he didn't see any such thing:


I didn't see it myself. There were stories like this. I wasn't in that house and everything I said was only on the basis of hearsay. At the gathering it was a friendly talk, and that's how I related to it.


Daniel raised similar questions about the killing of the old woman by a sniper, and concluded that "The credibility of these two stories is very doubtful."


In the wake of Daniel's broadcast, even Ha'aretz reported that the soldier recounting the tale of a mother and children being killed had been called in by his brigade commander, at which time he admitted he was relying solely on "rumors" within his unit:


By the afternoon, the army could report that the investigation into the testimony regarding the shooting of a mother and two children had reached preliminary conclusions. Givati brigade commander Ilan Malkha summoned the squad leader who recounted the story, who admitted he had relied solely on rumors in the company.

And now there has been an even more definitive debunking, after an investigation by the brigade commander of the units in question. The brigade commander's findings were reported in the Israeli newspaper Maariv, in a story titled IDF Investigation Refutes the Testimonies About Gaza Killings. According to the story:


Two central incidents that came up in the testimony, which Danny Zamir, the head of the Rabin pre-military academy presented to Chief of Staff Gaby Ashkenazi, focus on one infantry brigade. The brigade's commander today will present to Brigadier General Eyal Eisenberg, commander of the Gaza division, the findings of his personal investigation about the matter which he undertook in the last few days, and after approval, he will present his findings to the head of the Southern Command, Major General Yoav Gallant.

Regarding the incident in which it was claimed that a sniper fired at a Palestinian woman and her two daughters, the brigade commander's investigation cites the sniper: "I saw the woman and her daughters and I shot warning shots. The section commander came up to the roof and shouted at me, ?Why did you shoot at them.' I explained that I did not shoot at them, but I fired warning shots."

Officers from the brigade surmise that fighters that stayed in the bottom floor of the Palestinian house thought that he hit them, and from here the rumor that a sniper killed a mother and her two daughters spread.

The other alleged incident, the killing by a sniper of an elderly woman, also seems not to have taken place:

Regarding the second incident, in which it was claimed that soldiers went up to the roof to entertain themselves with firing and killed an elderly Palestinian woman, the brigade commander investigation found that there was no such incident.

It seems the Ha'aretz, the New York Times, and other outlets which reported the charges at face value and gave these stories great play despite a clear lack of evidence, should be composing forthright corrections – preferably to be run on the front page.


Counter Evidence Ignored

Ha'aretz, the New York Times, and most other outlets covering this controversy have also ignored detailed statements by other soldiers of the strict rules of engagement that they followed, and of their acts of kindness towards Palestinians. (The Times devoted all of one sentence to a soldier who said that Israeli soldiers put their own lives at risk to avoid harming Palestinians. And the lone sentence was buried towards the end of the article.)

The Israeli newspaper Yediot recounted some of these in reaction to the Ha'aretz stories:

"I don't believe there were soldiers who were looking to kill (Palestinians) for no reason," said 21-year-old Givati Brigade soldier Assaf Danziger, who was lightly injured three days before the conclusion of Operation Cast Lead.

"What happened there was not enjoyable to anyone; we wanted it to end as soon as possible and tried to avoid contact with innocent civilians," he said.

According to Danziger, soldiers were given specific orders to open fire only at armed terrorists or people who posed a threat. "There were no incidents of vandalism at any of the buildings we occupied. We did only what was justified and acted out of necessity. No one shot at civilians. People walked by us freely," he recounted.

In the same article Yediot also quoted other soldiers:

A Paratroopers Brigade soldier who also participated in the war called the claims "nonsense". Speaking on condition of anonymity, he said "It is true that in war morality can be interpreted in many different ways, and there are always a few idiots who act inappropriately, but most of the soldiers represented Israel honorably and with a high degree of morality.

"For instance, on three separate occasions my company commander checked soldiers' bags for stolen goods. Those who stole the smallest things, like candy, were severely punished," he said.

"We were forbidden from sleeping in Palestinians' beds even when we had no alternate accommodations, and we didn't touch any of their food even after we hadn't had enough to eat for two days."

"During one incident, we were informed that a female suicide bomber was heading in our direction, but even when women approached us and crossed a certain point we made do with firing in the air, or near the women," the soldier recalled. "Even when we came across deserted stores, we didn't even think of taking anything. One soldier took a can of food, but he immediately returned it after everyone yelled at him."

Major (res.) Idan Zuaretz of Givati said "in every war there is a small percentage of problematic soldiers, but we must look at it from a broad perspective and not focus on isolated incidents."

Zuaretz, a company commander, also questioned the integrity of the soldiers who made the controversial claims, saying "if this was such a burning issue for them, why have they remained silent until now? On an ethical and moral level, they were obligated to stop what they claimed had occurred and not wait two months to be heard at some esoteric debate."

According to the officer, the IDF went to great lengths and employed the most advanced technology to avoid harming civilian population.

"I've seen a few things in my time, but even I was blown away by the level of professionalism displayed by the army," Zuaretz said. "I personally gave my soldiers an order on the day we withdrew from Gaza to leave all of our goodies in the last house we occupied. Some reservists even left an envelope full of money to one Palestinian family."

Another soldier who had fought in Gaza, Yishai Goldflam, circulated an open letter to the Palestinian family whose home his unit had temporarily occupied during the fighting. His letter, titled "I am the soldier who slept in your home," was published in Maariv, and then translated and published in Canada's National Post. Goldflam too spoke of the care he and his fellow soldiers had taken to minimize damage to the home:

I spent many days in your home. You and your family's presence was felt in every corner. I saw your family portraits on the wall, and I thought of my family. I saw your wife's perfume bottles on the bureau, and I thought of my wife. I saw your children's toys and their English-language schoolbooks. I saw your personal computer and how you set up the modem and wireless phone next to the screen, just as I do.

I wanted you to know that despite the immense disorder you found in your house that was created during a search for explosives and tunnels (which were indeed found in other homes), we did our best to treat your possessions with respect. When I moved the computer table, I disconnected the cables and laid them down neatly on the floor, as I would do with my own computer. I even covered the computer from dust with a piece of cloth.

I know that the devastation, the bullet holes in your walls and the destruction of those homes near you place my descriptions in a ridiculous light. Still, I need you to understand me -- us -- and hope that you will channel your anger and criticism to the right places. I decided to write you this letter specifically because I stayed in your home...

It's unfortunate that readers of the New York Times and Haaretz and viewers of the BBC are fed constant doses of the anti-Israel story-of-the-day, while these outlets ignore the stories of typical Israeli soldiers like Yishai Goldflam. Times editors and their counterparts elsewhere should explain why Danny Zamir is fit to print, and Yishai Goldflam is not fit to print.

Through such tendentious choices is news made rather than reported.



Alex Safian

Associate director CAMERA

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