Saturday, September 11, 2010

Obama, the "Ground Zero Mosque," and the World's Muslims

Fear and distrust of Muslims have been stimulated in the American public by the proponents of the "Ground Zero mosque" undertaking, rather than by its critics. Opposition to the "Ground Zero mosque" should not imply a denial of religious freedom. The issue is not what rights Muslims possess in America (which are not seriously challenged), but the responsibility with which they are exercised. We are teaching in the UK and elsewhere in Western Europe that the first responsibility of Muslims is to secure good relations with non-Muslims in the communities where we live.

Media and politicians sympathetic to the concept have acclaimed the "spiritual leader" of the mosque plan, Feisal Abdul Rauf, as a mystical Sufi and moderate cleric, whose admirers refer to him as "imam." But Rauf possesses no recognized standing in the international Sufi network, and no known religious education that would justify him appointing himself an "imam."

Dalil Boubakeur, rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris and one of Western Europe's leading traditional Muslim figures, has opposed the "Ground Zero mosque."

We, too, at the Center for Islamic Pluralism, oppose the spread of other oversized mosques that may be financed by radicals, as well as the Saudi obsession with massive architectural structures erected to replace important heritage sites. The clumsy attempts at pro-Muslim diplomacy by president Obama, in a parallel with the "Ground Zero mosque," complicate, rather than clarifying, these problems.

Recently, the proposal that Obama be named the global emir ul-mominin (commander of the faithful) and caliph was put forward by Pakistan's current State Minister for Industries, Ayatollah Durrani, as reported in that country's daily The Nation on September 2. Given that the U.S. is not a Muslim country, the suggestion ventures beyond the fanciful, and even the paper that publicized the idea, called it "a development that could be duly termed as one and only of its kind."

That U.S. president Barack Obama be considered the caliph (khalifa), or supreme commander of the faithful, over the world's Muslims is but one unintended consequence of Obama's misconceived and awkward attempts to win favor at exploiting his Muslim cultural background – although he adheres to Christianity -- by seeking to flatter Muslims, presumably to create a new relationship between the U.S. and the Muslim lands.

Durrani further suggested that at the approaching Eid-al-Fitr, or end-of-Ramadan holiday, which may fall on 11 September, Obama should go to the site of the proposed controversial "Ground Zero mosque" in New York City and offer Islamic prayers. In this manner, according to Durrani, "all the problems of Muslim World would be solved." According to the Pakistani daily, "Durrani argued that Muslim World was in 'dire need' of a Caliph and the distinguished slot of Caliphate would earn President Obama the… titles of… 'Mullah Barack Hussein Obama' or 'Allama [Wise] Obama.' 'The time is approaching fast. Barack Hussein Obama must act now. This is a golden opportunity, Muslims badly need it," Durrani added, saying that the elevation of President Obama to [the] Muslim Caliphate would be the 'key to success.'"

This episode illustrates two points:

The first is that the Pakistani cabinet of president Asif Ali Zardari includes individuals whose world-view is out of touch with reality. It seems likely that minister Durrani is unaware, or does not care, that allegations Obama is a secret Muslim have been divisive within the American public. Such obliviousness is not rare for Zardari and other high Pakistani officials, who appear blind to the dangers of their accommodation to the Afghan and Pakistan Taliban, as well as the Pakistani radical Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), which has infiltrated the military and intelligence establishment.

The second is that although such nonsense does him no good, Obama has, intentionally or not, lent himself to such folk beliefs among Muslims. Obama's rhetoric and policy of empty "compliments" to Muslims have included the appointment of Rashad Hussain as American diplomatic representative to the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), headquartered in Saudi Arabia. Hussain returned the favor to his boss by calling Obama America's "educator in chief" on Islam and on the current fasting month of Ramadan. This is ludicrous; Americans and others should be educated about Islam by reputable experts and religious authorities, rather than by any politician.

Obama's superficial "Cairo speech" delivered last year is now forgotten. Obama's failure to present a consistent position on the proposed "Ground Zero mosque" provided the latest example of the lack of coherence in his mission to placate Islamic opinion. At an official Ramadan fast-breaking event (iftar) on August 13, Obama affirmed America's constitutional freedom of religion, and seemed to consider the debate over the "high rise" mosque near the former World Trade Center only in that light. "Recently," he declared, "attention has been focused on the construction of mosques in certain communities -– particularly New York. Now, we must all recognize and respect the sensitivities surrounding the development of Lower Manhattan… But let me be clear. As a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. (Applause.) And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances."

But the next day, Obama changed his position. He said he was only reaffirming the freedom to practise Islam as a faith, and did not intend to judge the "wisdom" of building "Park 51," as the projected Islamic cultural center and mosque near Ground Zero is now called. American commentators seemed to have ignored that his original remarks to the assembled Muslims, including notable representatives of "Wahhabi lobby" groups, like Salam Al Marayati of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) and Ingrid Mattson of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), were not met with much applause or other public demonstrations of approval. In reality, most Muslims have avoided the debate over the "Ground Zero mosque" because the risks in embracing such a scheme – offense to non-Muslims leading to heightened suspicion of Muslims – were obvious, and its negative effects on relations between the two communities have already become undeniable.

Other Muslims have pointed out that Muslims in New York City have never suggested that a large, intrusive Islamic center was necessary in the vicinity of the former World Trade Center. America has a sufficient supply of mosques, too many of them under radical Wahhabi or Pakistani JI control.

If Obama were a Muslim, he would merit criticism for making the situation of American Muslims worse, rather than better. As shown by the deluded claims of Pakistani minister Durrani, Obama's improvised posturing distorts his image as an American leader, harming his own credibility.

Irfan Al-Alawi is a world renowned Islamic Historian on the Holy cities Makkah & Madina. He is also the Co-chairman of the Islamic Heritage Foundation and Director of the Centre for Islamic Pluralism.

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

Will Islam Become the Religion of Europe?

by Soeren Kern

During his recent two-day state visit to Italy, Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi declared that "Islam should become the religion of the whole of Europe." He also said that Europe's conversion would become a fait accompli "when Turkey becomes a member of the European Union."

Europeans mostly dismissed Gaddafi's proselytizing as "Islamic propaganda," and as a "non-solicited provocation lacking seriousness."

Meanwhile, however, Muslim immigration to Europe continues apace, with record numbers of new arrivals daily in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and across Scandinavia. In Britain, Holland and Spain, the rate of Muslim immigration is accelerating at an especially rapid clip, and in a shorter amount of time than in other European countries.

"Gaddafi needs to show respect. Don't come to Italy and tell Italians and Europeans to convert to Islam," said Rocco Buttiglione, president of the pro-Vatican party Union of Christian Democrats, in an interview with the leftwing daily La Repubblica.

"What would happen if a European head of state went to Libya or another Islamic country and invited everyone to convert to Christianity?" asked the daily Il Messaggero.

"Europe is Christian" declared the right wing daily, La Padania, in a front-page headline.

"To speak of the European continent converting to Islam makes no sense, because it is the people alone who decide consciously to be Christian, Muslim or to follow other religions," said Archbishop Robert Sarah, the secretary of the Vatican's Congregation for Evangelization.

But Gaddafi's vision of an Islamicized Europe is closer to becoming a reality than many Europeans are willing to admit. According to the Pew Research Center, Islam is already the fastest-growing religion in Europe, where the number of Muslims has tripled over the past 30 years. Most demographers forecast a similar or even higher rate of growth in the coming decades.

At least three long-term trends are converging to create a fertile ground for the rise of Islam in Europe:

For starters, today's Europe is spiritually beset by a morally relativistic post-modern worldview that encourages indifference to religion, especially of the Judeo-Christian variety. Religious apathy, induced by secular humanism, has emerged as the defining characteristic of contemporary European society; has created a huge spiritual vacuum that Islam is eager, willing and determined to fill.

At the same time, Europe's near-wholesale rejection of the Judeo-Christian worldview is fuelling a demographic time bomb, planted by Europeans who see no meaning to human life beyond the present, and who do not believe in the future enough to want to pass it on to the next generation. This is reflected by the fact that birth rates among native Europeans are far below replacement levels in most European countries. By contrast, Muslim immigrants in Europe are procreating at a breakneck pace, with birth rates that in many cases are double or triple those of native European populations.

The exact number of Muslims in Europe is difficult to calculate, largely because the official census data collected by many European countries does not track population trends according to ethnicity or religion.

But the Berlin-based Zentralinstitut Islam-Archiv, the oldest Islamic organization in Germany, estimates that 54 million Muslims were living in Europe in 2007, including 16 million in the European Union. According to a US Air Force study conducted by Major Leon Perkowski in 2006, the EU's Muslim population could actually be as high as 23 million if estimates on illegal immigration are included.

In any case, most surveys agree that Muslims currently constitute around five percent of the EU's total population (compared to around one percent in the United States). On a country-by-country basis, Muslim residents currently represent about eight percent of the population in France, six percent in Holland, four percent in Belgium and Germany, and three percent in Britain.

Although these numbers may seem relatively insignificant at first glance, Muslim immigrants are clustering in large European cities, many of which are being transformed beyond recognition by their Muslim inhabitants.

In Amsterdam, Brussels and Marseilles, for example, between 20 and 25 percent of the population is now estimated to be Muslim, according to official municipal statistics and a variety of unofficial calculations. In Birmingham, Cologne, Copenhagen, Leicester, London, Paris, Rotterdam, Stockholm, Strasbourg and The Hague, the Muslim population is now estimated to be between 10 and 20 percent. In Antwerp, Berlin, Hamburg and Vienna, the Muslim population is estimated to be between 5 and 10 percent.

Analyst Ömer Taşpınar, writing for the Washington, DC-based Brookings Institution, estimates that the Muslim birth rate in Europe is three times higher than the non-Muslim one, and that Europe's Muslim population currently is growing by more than one million each year. If current trends continue, the Muslim population of Europe will nearly double by 2015, while the non-Muslim population will shrink by 3.5 percent. According to the Migration Policy Institute, which is also based in Washington, at least 20 percent of Europe's total population will be Muslim by 2050 (this figure would jump to well over 50 percent if Turkey joins the EU.)

Muslims are already transforming European society in ways unimaginable only a few years ago. In Britain, for example, the government recently acquiesced to adopting Islamic law, with Sharia courts given full powers to rule on Muslim civil cases. In Holland, Mohamed, or other variations of the name, has become the most popular name for baby boys in the four biggest cities in the country. In Switzerland, voters recently agreed to ban the construction of minarets, the tower-like structures on mosques, which are becoming an increasingly prominent feature of the European landscape.

In Spain, the Muslim population has increased ten-fold in just 20 years. As recently as 1990, there were only 100,000 Muslims there; now there are more than 1 million. Until the 1980s, Spain was a net exporter of labor, and there was very little Muslim labor immigration to the country. Instead, Spain was a transit country for Maghrebian [North African] immigrants on their way to France and other European countries with significant and well-established Muslim communities. But during the mid-1990s, Spain's traditional role as a transit country became that of a host country for Muslim immigrants, especially from Morocco.

Immigration, however, is only one reason for the steady rise in Spain's Muslim population. Muslim fertility rates are more than double those of an aging native Spanish population. Spain currently has a birth rate of around 1.3, far below the replacement rate of 2.1 children per couple. At the current rate, the number of native Spaniards will be cut in half in two generations, while the Muslim population in Spain will quadruple.

In Germany, the debate over Muslim immigration is being fuelled by a new book titled "Germany Does Away With Itself." The book, written by Thilo Sarrazin, a prominent German banker and a former government official, has triggered a public discussion over how to fix Germany's broken immigration system, which has done little or nothing to integrate the country's Muslim population.

In his book, Sarrazin criticizes Islam as a source of violence, and blames Muslim immigrants for refusing to integrate. "No other religion in Europe is so demanding and no other migration group depends so much on the social welfare state and is so much connected to criminality," he writes.

Sarrazin, who is long-time member of the center-left Social Democrats, predictably has infuriated the uppity guardians of German political correctness. They have asked German President Christian Wulff to dismiss Sarrazin from the board of the German central bank, the Bundesbank.

But in a sign that change may be afoot in Germany, the center-left newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung agreed that Sarrazin has "addressed a problem that will remain long after the waves of outrage have subsided: the enormous integration deficit of the Muslim minority in Germany, or at least of disturbingly large parts of it."

Princeton University's Bernard Lewis once told the German newspaper Die Welt that "Europe will be Islamic by the end of the century." At the time, European political elites expressed outrage at the prediction. But if current trends persist, Lewis (and Gaddafi) may yet be proven right.

Soeren Kern

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

Don't burn the Koran, read it

by Mladen Andrijasevic

The whole media uproar with the burning of the Koran misses the point. The pastor should not burn the Koran but ask his congregation to READ the Koran. They would get a clear understanding and could not be accused of cherry picking certain verses out of context. The full context would become clear.

I find it absurd that the whole western world is discussing the burning of a book very few have read. Should not our political elites read it and finally understand the mindset of the Muslims?

How different the world would have been if our main stream papers like the Washington Post or the Wall Street Journal had published the Koran immediately after the Iranian revolution? Even President Obama would have had to modify his Cairo speech and include both verses 5:32 and 5:33 , if he would have been elected in the first place.

There still would not have been peace in the Middle East, but there would definitely not have been so many futile attempts.

It is never too late. If the western media had any interest in the future of the West they would start doing it today.

Mladen Andrijasevic

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

Hallowed Ground

by Glen Meakem

As the first cool nights of autumn reach across my home state of Pennsylvania, I have been thinking about the controversy over the "Ground Zero Mosque" that has gripped America all summer, and continues to stir emotional debate.

Some, including President Obama, have argued that the Cordoba House/Park 51 mosque project is a simple case of private property rights, in which the owners of the building should be allowed to develop their land as they see fit. I agree that Government entities and bureaucrats often place too many constraints on the development of private property. However, Ground Zero - like Gettysburg, Antietam, the Beaches of Normandy, and other critical battlefields - is hallowed ground, where Americans died in the midst of war. This is not normal land subject to normal property rights. As one small indication of just how hallowed and sensitive this ground is, human remains continue to be discovered during the reclamation, excavation and construction processes taking place in the immediate area. So far this year - Nine full years after the attack - body parts belonging to 72 different American casualties -- office workers, fire fighters, police officers, and others -- have been found.

Almost 3,000 Americans died on September 11, 2001 as the result of coordinated attacks perpetrated by radical Islamic terrorists hailing mostly from Saudi Arabia and sponsored by both al Qaeda and the Taliban government of Afghanistan. The Ground Zero mosque project is purportedly led by a "moderate" imam. However, he is raising money for the ground zero mosque from all over the Middle East including Saudi Arabia & Iran, and radical Islamic elements are saying loudly that the Ground Zero mosque, Cordoba House, must be built.

If Cordoba House supporters were truly moderate and genuinely concerned about fostering a "healing dialogue" between Muslims and Americans as they suggest, then project leaders would not have rejected New York Governor David Patterson's offer to help them find an alternative site for their mosque. They also would not have rejected Donald Trump's and other offers to buy them out at a large gain for the mosque developers. Project leaders also would not have chosen a name - Cordoba House -- that symbolizes military conquest for Muslims.

I strongly support the U.S. Constitution, and our constitutional principles of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and private property rights. I also believe that America is a melting pot of people from all backgrounds and religions who have come together over time to form "one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all." Within the context of our American constitution and our American cultural traditions, the effort to build a mosque adjacent to Ground Zero symbolizing political and military victory over America is a shocking and aggressive provocation. This is why the vast majority of Americans oppose it. After all, as demonstrated so painfully on 9/11 at Ground Zero, al Qaeda and radical Islam have declared war on America -- on us -- and we have a right and a duty to defend our constitution, our culture, and ourselves both physically and psychologically.

Opposition to this mosque is rational and reasonable and reflects a mainstream understanding of both the aggressive tactics used to spread Islam throughout history, as well as the basics of human nature. Throughout history, conquerors have torn down the most important symbols of a culture and society and built their new monuments of religious and political domination right on top of the ruins of the old. This is a universal, cross cultural way of instilling fear and communicating domination. This is basic to human nature. Do our enemies as well as our own soft, out-of-touch leaders really believe that average Americans do not understand these truths and will allow Cordoba House at Ground Zero to happen?

There may be some moderate Muslims who see the proposed Cordoba House mosque as a positive, bridge building facility, but the voices of our enemies in radical Islam confirm our worst fears about this mosque's more aggressive nature. If we want to continue to be a strong, secure and free nation, we cannot allow our enemies to achieve a critical psychological victory that will dishonor our dead, insult those who still grieve, signal weakness, and inspire further aggression against our constitution, our culture and our homeland. No, we absolutely cannot give our radical enemies quarter on our most sacred ground.

Glen Meakem is a former Army Reserve Officer and Gulf War veteran. He was founder and CEO of Internet success, FreeMarkets, Inc. and is currently Managing Director of Meakem Becker Venture Capital. He is also host of The Glen Meakem Radio Program, broadcast on weekends in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia.

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Another Tack: Show in Rome; no-show in Ariel

by Sarah Honig

By happenstance, just when Muammar Gaddafi staged his recent Muslim-supremacy spectacle (significantly) in Rome, Israeli actors refused to stage anything in well-within-national-consensus Ariel. On the face of it these events were unrelated.

Neither did the resounding refusal from Ramallah to even vaguely recognize Israel as a legitimate Jewish state seem linked to the in-house boycotts promulgated by those showbiz poseurs and their literati cheerleaders.

The Gaddafi extravaganza was all but overlooked by our media as a no-account eccentricity. The Ramallah reiteration of immutable nay-saying was mentioned in passing as an almost acceptable, incontestable fact of life. The out-of-left-field onslaught on Ariel, however, was ballyhooed by leftist scribblers and talking heads as heralding the moral imperative of further shrinking (anyhow precariously tiny) Israel.

Those who ignore or downplay the news from Rome and Ramallah, yet amplify the anti-Ariel offensive, obscure the fundamental connection. The aforementioned are all jigsaw pieces in the same puzzle. The removal of any piece leaves a gaping void which renders the picture meaningless. Separating and isolating constituent elements distorts the context. The upshot is that, systematically blinkered, we’re left defenseless.

LET’S TRY to piece together the puzzle despite the assiduous efforts of our enlightened pseudo-intellectual cliques to limit our vision to scattered fragments.

Libyan strongman Gaddafi did in Rome what would have instigated barbaric lynching and savage rioting in Tripoli, to say nothing of Mecca. Gaddafi arrived at one of Christendom’s iconic centers, literally near the Vatican’s doorstep, to throw a “convert-to-Islam” party to which he invited hundreds of top-model wannabes, who were handsomely recompensed for their attendance.

He proclaimed that Christianity was “an inconsequential religion” and that Jesus himself was Muslim.

The details don’t matter. What matters is that Gaddafi assumed he could come to a pivotal Christian capital and thumb his nose at the locals, as if they have no sensitivities or, if they do, that these sensitivities are misplaced and hence don’t count.

Gaddafi’s impudence betrays anything but the pluralistic ethos espoused so ardently by postmodern Western ideologues. Gaddafi shares none of our moral relativism.

He’ll never argue that all beliefs are of equal value. In his world there’s only one exclusive, exclusionist and overriding truth – his own. He says so openly, in our face. The fact that we refuse to listen is willful self-delusion.

Gaddafi’s oddball flamboyance shouldn’t distract us. He’s not the exception to the Muslim rule. He’s its authentic voice, his preposterous pomposity notwithstanding.

Gaddafi isn’t the only Arab headliner with undisguised designs to subjugate us all to his creed. Others assert the same only with less fanfare. We prefer to pay no heed to any of Islam’s boosters, whether their message is delivered with flourish or with matter-of-fact resolve.

THERE’S NO Gaddafi-like grandiosity in the performance style of Doha-based Egyptian-born Yusuf al- Qaradawi, head of the World Council of Muslim Clerics, a supreme authority in the Sunni world and one of Islam’s most popular and influential luminaries. His Al Jazeera program Shari’a and Life made him a household preacher in the Arabic-speaking world.

A self-proclaimed moderate, he only condones suicide bombings against Israelis (of all genders and ages – even unborn fetuses), maintaining that there are no innocent noncombatants among them. Indeed many of his conservative coreligionists have condemned Qaradawi in fiery oratory for being too soft on the West.

But is the ultra-popular theologian any more tolerant than Gaddafi? Enjoying Qatari hospitality, Qaradawi declares that “Islam is poised to take over the world. The harbinger of Islamic triumph will be the conquest of Rumia [a.k.a. Rome]. Islam will return to Europe as the victorious conqueror, after having been twice ousted from it.”

In Qaradawi’s eyes, as in Gaddafi’s, there’s only one perfect faith.

It’s only historic justice that Islam vanquish all other religions. Against this backdrop, perhaps it’s Gaddafi who is the moderate, as for now he merely seeks to advance Islam via a chosen audience of bribed beauties rather than a full-blown jihad.

Needless to say, whatever goes for Rome applies a thousand-fold to Jerusalem. To quote Qaradawi again, “Jews who claim that they have a long history in what they call Israel are liars. The Arabs, on the other hand, were present in Palestine since the days of the Jebusites and the Canaanites, 30 centuries before Christ. Before the advent of Islam, there were no Jews in Palestine. The Jews’ claim to al-Buraq [the Western Wall] dates back only to recent times.”

It’s not only ancient history Qaradawi rewrites. In a 2009 sermon on Al Jazeera he explained why the Holocaust occurred (while simultaneously diminishing its proportions): “Throughout history, Allah had imposed people upon the Jews who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by Hitler. By means of all the things Hitler did to them – even though the Jews exaggerate this – Allah managed to put the Jews in their place. This was divine punishment for them. Allah willing, next time the Jews will be punished at the hands of the believers.”

Qaradawi’s message is threefold: The Jews got their just deserts, they weren’t punished as much as they allege and another Holocaust should be visited upon them – this time, he hopes, it will be perpetrated by Muslims.

THIS ISN’T incidental esoterica. These are commonplace perceptions throughout the Arab/Muslim world, and most especially in the twin fiefdoms of Ramallah and Gaza. Such views aren’t the far-out preserve of a handful of fanatics. These are the messages sounded too often to count in mosques – even within Israel. Moreover, these messages are broadcast on official TV throughout the reputedly moderate PA.

But these aren’t idiosyncratic quirks in an exclusively religious idiom either. They’re the broad unquestioned postulates that underlie all Palestinian positions. They’re taken for granted and hallowed as self-evident even in Ramallah’s more secular quarters.

No self-respecting Palestinian politician, leastways not one who desires to stay alive, would dare dispute Yasser Arafat’s contention that the Jews have no connection to and no history in this land and that no Jewish temple ever existed in Jerusalem.

Concomitantly, Holocaust denial is curiously combined with blaming on Jews whatever belittled bloodletting is sometimes grudgingly acknowledged in some select Palestinian narratives. For this mishmash motif we need go no further than the doctoral dissertation PA chieftain Mahmoud Abbas submitted to the People’s Friendship University of Moscow and never retracted.

What we have to contend with, reluctant though we are to admit it, are threats – explicit and implicit – of another Holocaust. No less. It would serve us all to recall that Arabs and Muslims under the leadership of still-revered Mufti Haj Amin el-Husseini were avid Nazi collaborators during the original Holocaust.

It would particularly serve our outwardly artier compatriots to realize that they embolden enemies who don’t merely oppose Jewish presence in Ariel, but in Tel Aviv no less. Life-preserving awareness is indispensable for all Israelis, including puffed-up thespians and homegrown guardians of other people’s consciences.

Sarah Honig

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

U.S. Taxpayers Foot Bill for Ludicrous Palestinian Authority Propaganda Campaign

by Barry Rubin

A campaign designed to put the onus for peace on Israeli citizens is getting deservedly ridiculed.

Over and over, the Obama administration shows its capacity for misunderstanding Israel and decreasing its own popularity there. Even while bilateral relations are good, it reminds Israelis of why they shouldn’t fundamentally trust this government and that Washington doesn’t understand them at all.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (AID) — which is supposed to help countries raise their living standards — gave a $250,000 grant to the H.L. Peace Education Program of the Geneva Initiative. (I wonder if the U.S. Congress considers this to be within AID’s mandate!) The money isn’t paying for potable water, health clinics, or small factories. It’s paying for billboards and videos in Israel, featuring the faces of Palestinian and Israeli officials asking:

We are partners — what about you?

Typical, isn’t it? The implication of the signs and film clips is that the Palestinians are ready for peace, the question is only whether Israel wants it. Should be very effective with Israelis, right? If you have any doubts on that point, read the article about what went on behind the scenes during production from Israel’s leading newspaper, Yediot Ahronot. Even the Israeli film crew members were making sarcastic cracks about what the “partners” were saying off-camera.

I should mention that there is also a series of billboards aimed at Palestinians with Israelis featured. Not a single heart or mind will be changed by this waste of money. One of the main Israelis featured is Yossi Beilin, plus others in the opposition in Israel but who were involved in some cases with the sponsoring group. In a sense, the campaign is an advertisement for themselves, not for peace, since these people aren’t in the government.

When writing a biography of Yasir Arafat, I had a long interview list of Palestinians, Israelis, and Americans. One of the few who simply would not respond to my requests was Beilin. One day, a friend said he was next going to meet Beilin, so I asked him to pass along my interview request.

An hour later I spoke again to the friend and asked him what happened. He responded:

Beilin told me that he won’t do it because if he gives an interview he will have to speak well of Arafat, and he told me he doesn’t want to say nice things about that SOB.

In other words, Beilin, pretty much forgotten on today’s Israeli political scene, is a propagandist who believes in what I call “lying for peace.” In this case he is also promoting himself by putting his picture on billboards.

Indeed, this is a public relations campaign for the Geneva Initiative group, financed by the United States. Even assuming that the U.S. government wanted to do this kind of thing, they went about it in a very stupid manner.

Those on the billboards from the Palestinian side include Saeb Erekat, Jibril Rajoub, Yasser Abed Rabbo, and Riad Malki. These are not the most hardline people in the PA. But they’ve said, not so long ago, some very extreme things about Israel — and Israelis know it. Malki, to cite one example, was for years the West Bank leader of the PFLP at the height of its terrorism. Abed Rabbo was a hardliner during the Oslo process.

Jibril Rajoub’s record is mixed, and he can be called a relative moderate. Still, when an Israeli hotel near Sinai was attacked by terrorists in 2004, Rajoub blamed Israel for the bombing, calling Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon a terrorist who was engaged in “continuous and unprecedented aggression against the Palestinian people.” In 2009 he criticized a speech by PA leader Mahmoud Abbas as too moderate toward Israel. He extolled the unity efforts between Hamas and Fatah while cheering Fatah’s decision to adhere to its original program, which called for Israel’s destruction and explicitly stated that Fatah still retained the option of armed struggle.

They also have something else in common: none of them is a mainstream Fatah person, though Rajoub comes closest to being so. They don’t have much real power. Israelis know that.

Yet aside from all of this, there is something very revealing in this project regarding official and mass media attitudes in the United States. They think that the lack of peace is based on some misunderstanding, or on inexplicable Israeli suspicion. What they refuse to face is that the barrier to peace is Palestinian intransigence due to the PA’s weakness, the radicalism of Fatah, the effect of continual incitement on Palestinian public opinion, and other problems I’ve discussed in detail.

This project radiates naiveté, a characteristic Israelis find most repugnant when it comes to securing their future and survival. Aside from wasting taxpayer money at a time of economic crisis, this public relations scheme will have the exact opposite effect from what was intended.

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

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NY Times arrogantly severs Ariel from Israel

by Leo Rennert

The Israeli city of Ariel (population 20,000) was founded in 1978 with active encouragement of then-Defense Minister Shimon Peres -- for decades Israel's most dovish political figure. Its location is a mere two dozen miles from the Mediterranean Sea. While it also lies in the West Bank a dozen miles east of the 1949 armistice line, there is a wide Israeli consensus that spans left, right and center on the political spectrum that Ariel must be retained in any final-status peace agreement with the Palestinians.

Ariel fits President George W. Bush's 2004 pledge to Ariel Sharon that Israel, "in light of new realities on the ground, including major existing Israeli population centers," the U.S. will support Israeli retention of these West Bank urban centers in a final peace deal. In other words, the U.S. will not insist on a complete Israeli pullback from the West Bank.

More recently, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, while softening Bush's formula for territorial adjustments, also has recognized the need to modify the 1949 armistice line (usually referred to by the media as the pre-1967 line) so as to leave some major Israeli towns and cities in the West Bank on the Israel side of the border while still leaving more than 90 percent of the West Bank for a contiguous Palestinian state. Plus, all of Gaza, of course.

Reflecting Israel's strategic interests, Ariel is also protected by a counter-terrorism security barrier.

While Ariel was founded by mostly secular Jews, it resonates among many Israelis with its many biblical roots. Ariel lies in the hill country of Samaria which Abraham, the first Jew, traversed in his journey to the Promised Land. Joshua, who led the children of Israel into the Promised Land, is buried at the foot of Ariel.

Today, Ariel looks like any other Western city. It boasts a university, a hotel, an industrial park that employs thousands of Palestinians, a sports and recreation complex, a modern highway to the coast, and, due to open later this year, a major performing arts and cultural center.

The latter's prospective opening has upset the usual leftist suspects -- in Israel and the U.S. Some big-name artists and performers in Israel are promoting a boycott of Ariel's cultural center, declaring they will not perform there. Their boycott has drawn support from some in the misnamed U.S. "peace" camp.

Major Israeli music and theater companies, however, insist they will honor scheduled performing dates in Ariel. Several boycotters have recanted their endorsement of the boycott. Prime Minister Netanyahu has condemned the boycott as hypocritical in view of the fact that performing artists and their companies are generously bankrolled by the government. Except for the far-left fringe, opposition to the boycott spans the political spectrum.

Enter the New York Times, which in its Sept. 10 edition, carries an article by Jerusalem correspondent Isabel Kershner that purports to inform readers about the boycott, but instead uses it mainly as a springboard to advance her own "peace" agenda -- an agenda that resolutely expects Ariel to become incorporated into a Palestinian state ("An Enclave Of Israel Is On Edge -- Boycott Underlines Flux in West Bank" page A4).

Here's how Kershner -- and the New York Times in its institutional arrogance -- twist and distort the picture of Ariel to suit their own ideological proclivities:

--The lead paragraph identifies Ariel not as a thriving city, but as "this large Jewish settlement." And once the "settlement" label is pinned on Ariel, that, of course, rules out any dispassionate assessment of real facts on the ground.

--Kershner mentions President Peres' role in founding Ariel and his joining in celebrating its 30th anniversary, but she fails to explain how a peacenik like Peres, a Nobel Peace Prize winner for forging the 1993 Oslo accords, still has maintained through all these years his great fondness for Ariel.

--Although Kershner recognizes that Ariel was founded and is still inhabited by mostly secular Jews, she can't resist taking a nasty swipe at religious settlers whom she calls "messianic ideologues who believe in settling the biblical heartland." While the Times ceaselessly campaigns for due respect owed to Islam, it shows no such respect for Jewish biblical roots throughout the West Bank. Imagine the Times referring to Muslims as "messianic ideologues" -- that wouldn't do. Definitely wouldn't pass the Times' PC test. But when it comes to Jews, the Times drops the PC bar.

--Having demonized Ariel as a "settlement" out of place on the Middle East map, Kershner delivers the final -- and all important to her -- coup de grace. The real point, if you will, of her entire piece. She tellingly ends her article -- a time-worn journalistic way of driving home a reporter's main theme and intent -- thusly:

"OrenBen Uziyahu, the owner of a toy store in Ariel, said that in return for genuine peace, most people would 'leave behind their fake leather couches and give up their Ariel homes. It is reasonable to assume that in the end, Ariel will have to go.'"

End of story. Direct peace negotiations to find common ground on, among other key issues, final borders have barely begun, but Kershner and the New York Times already feed readers what in their superior expertise is the proper and inevitable outcome -- Ariel "will have to go."

Leo Rennert

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

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Desperation Summit

by Benjamin Kerstein

The strangest thing about the newest round of talks between Israel and the Palestinians is that neither side wants them. In fact, there is only one party to these negotiations that does want them, and that is the United States or, more precisely, the Obama administration.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is currently sitting on a relatively comfortable status quo. Both the Israeli and Palestinian economies are doing well, violence is at a minimum, Fatah is cornered politically between Israel and Hamas, and the rightwing members of his coalition who are opposed to any territorial concessions on principle are relatively happy. Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas is not in nearly as sanguine a position, but he is not doing particularly badly either. He has maintained his office despite his unpopularity, prevented Hamas from taking power in the West Bank, and led the Palestinians into a growth economy that is finally reversing some of the damage done by the second intifada.

Neither man, in short, has the slightest interest in upsetting the apple cart.

In fact, only one man does. With the American economy still sluggish, his administration distracted by what it considers to be peripheral issues like the Park51 mosque, his poll numbers collapsing, and with no substantial foreign policy achievements whatsoever to boast of, Barack Obama is put simply, desperate for a win.

This is particularly true in regard to the Middle East. Despite campaigning on a pledge to bring revolutionary change to the region by reversing his predecessor’s ostensibly disastrous policies, Obama’s record on the Middle East thus far is not only inferior to that of George W. Bush, but inferior to that of nearly every other president in recent memory. If he cannot achieve something here by the midterm elections, his presidency, at least in terms of this region, is probably doomed to complete failure. Hence, one imagines, the sudden push to bring the two sides to the bargaining table; as well as the not coincidental use of Hillary Clinton to do it. The president appears to have accepted, at least temporarily, his complete lack of credibility among the parties involved.

Unfortunately, this latest push by Obama, like his previous attempts at tackling the Arab-Israeli conflict, is likely to achieve precisely the opposite of the president’s intentions. Its most likely short-term outcome is the destabilization of a workable status quo and a possible resurgence in violence. Two deadly shootings on the roads of the West Bank over the past week may be warning signs that this has already begun. Ironically, Obama has sold his position on the Middle East on the grounds that “the status quo is unsustainable,” as his vice-president put it; but as a result of his policies, mostly driven by electoral considerations irrelevant to the Middle East, it is Obama himself who has rendered the situation unsustainable. A status quo may not seem like much to a man with messianic pretensions, but in the Middle East it is usually hard won and nothing to be trifled with.

The alternatives, one fears to say, are usually much worse, as this particular chief executive appears determined to learn for himself.

Benjamin Kerstein is Senior Writer for The New Ledger.

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

Rachel Corrie Trial Restarts. Key Questions Need Repeating

by Lenny Ben-David

The Rachel Corrie trial restarted in Haifa yesterday. Her parents, Craig and Cindy Corrie, are using the civil trial to confront and vilify Israel. It is perfectly in character: in May Craig Corrie blessed the naming of one of the Gaza flotilla ships after his daughter Rachel. She had been a member of the Palestinian-led International Solidarity Movement, and the radical group was of the sponsors of the Gaza flotilla.

[Later this week ISM founder Adam Shapiro will be speaking at Stanford University. He is touted as a "co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement (along with this wife, Huwaida Arraf), Board member of the Free Gaza Movement, and organizer of the U.S. Boat to Gaza project."]

1. Where did the Rachel Corrie bulldozer incident take place?

Few people recall that the IDF's ground-clearing operation was carried out only 50 meters from t
he Egyptian border -- near the infamous Philadelphi road. [See map and diagram. All graphic material is from IDF sources.] Up until Corrie's death, the IDF had uncovered more than 40 tunnels from Egypt used to smuggle weapons and terrorists into Gaza. In recent years, after the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, the number of tunnels approached 1,000.

Why was the ISM trying to block the bulldozers seven years ago? Presumably, they were attempting to protect Hamas' tunnels.

2. Couldn't the bulldozer driver see or hear Corrie?

The noise generated by the bulldozer is deafening, and Corrie had a megaphone only at an earlier confr
ontation with the Israel Defense Forces. It was not with her the afternoon she died.

The field of vision on the armored bulldozer is exceptionally limited (as the chart on the left indica
tes), and the driver could not see her.

Corrie's comrades claim that she was standing in front of the bulldozer -- and she was not -- but even if she were, the driver's line of vision is limited as the diagram shows.

The fact is, witnesses at the time of the incident reported that Corrie was sitting.

“When the bulldozer approached a house today,” wrote the New York Times, “Ms. Corrie, who was wearing a bright orange jacket, dropped to her knees.”

“The bulldozer drove toward Rachel slowly, gathering earth in its scoop as it went,” an
ISM friend stated in 2003. “She knelt there, she did not move.” Another ISM colleague related: “She did not ‘trip and fall’ in front of the bulldozer. She sat down in front of it, well in advance.‎“ [Emphasis added.]

3. Was there a deliberate attempt by the IDF to kill Corrie, as her parents claim?

Indeed there was a plan to escalate the confrontation between the bulldozers and the "peace activists." But it was the ISM members who decided to escalate, as described by Newsweek writer Joshua Hammer in a lengthy article in
Mother Jones. Why? One possible reason was because of the sexual tension that was hurting their relations with the local Palestinians.

"An anonymous letter was circulating," Hammer reported,
"which referred to Corrie and the other expatriate women in Rafah as 'nasty foreign bitches' whom 'our Palestinian young men are following around.' That morning [of Corrie’s death], the ISM team tried to devise a strategy to counteract the letter’s effects. 'We all had a feeling that our role was too passive,' said one ISM member. 'We talked about how to engage the Israeli military.' That morning, team members made a number of proposals that seemed designed only to aggravate the problem. 'The idea was to more directly challenge the Israeli military dominance using our international status,' said the ISMer."

4. But why was Corrie singled out?

She wasn't. At least two ISMers had to be pulled out from under the bulldozers' blades after they started acting in accordance with their more aggressive policy. Newsweek’s Hammer reported on “Jenny’s” close call: "An Irish peace activist named Jenny was nearly run down by a D9. 'The bulldozer’s coming, the earth is burying my feet, my legs, I’ve got nowhere to run, and I thought, ‘This is out of control,’ she told me. 'Another activist pulled me up and out of the way at the last minute.'”

5. Does anyone believe this story that the ISMers were suicidal?

They should believe that the International Solidarity Movement is homicidal. The ISM has a long record of putting its members, particularly young Western women, into harm's way. Some are unbelievably naive and just plain dumb. Like Corrie, they were encouraged to confront the Israel Defense Forces. Not surprisingly, some were injured and killed:

* On 2 April 2002, Australian Kate Edwards was shot and wounded in Beit Jala near Jerusalem from where Palestinians were firing on the Jewish neighborhood of Gilo. She and other volunteers marched on Israeli lines to protect their Palestinian friends. The clearly logic-challenged
Edwards complained, "I never thought for a moment that they would fire live ammunition at us."

* In April 2002, Irish ISM member Caomhe Butterly served as a human shield in Yasir Arafat's compound in Ramallah during the intifada. Later, on November 22, 2002, she inserted herself as a human shield again and was wounded during an IDF operation in Jenin. One of her admirers described how
Butterly "would walk up to a tank and place her hand over the muzzle." Butterly was an organizer and spokesperson aboard the 2010 Gaza flotilla.

* April 13, 2003, ISM member Thomas Hurndall was shot and killed when he challenged an Israeli tank force in Gaza.

* On April 24, 2010 Bianca Zammit, a Maltese national, j
oined a group of Palestinians who charged the security fence between Gaza and Israel. That area of the fence has often seen terrorist attacks. Zammit was shot through the thigh by a sniper, but was back to her comrades an hour later (pictured, right).

* On May 31, 2010, Emily Henochowicz, an American Jewish ISMer, lost her eye after she was hit by a tear gas grenade that ricocheted off a highway divider during a violent demonstration near Qalandia in the West Bank. She had been a regular at Palestinian demonstrations at Sheikh Jarrah, Bilin, Nilin and Nabi Saleh.

As the Haifa trial proceeds, it is clear that the International Solidarity Movement should be the one on trial for reckless endangerment. Yet, when young Western women are injured, arrested or killed, the media pays attention.

Maybe Rachel Corrie wasn't so dumb, after all. She wrote to her mother about the possibility of an American activist’s death as a propaganda tool: "You just can’t imagine it unless you see it, and even then you are always well aware that your experience is not at all the reality: what with the difficulties the Israeli Army would face if they shot an unarmed U.S. citizen."

Middle East Peace Talks: Where is Fayyad?

by Khaled Abu Toameh

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad was conspicuously absent from last week's ceremony in Washington, where direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians were launched under the auspices of the US Administration.

Fayyad's absence is a sign of the limited role that the Western-backed prime minister plays in the process of decision-making in the Palestinian Authority.

Fayyad was not in Washington because the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority leaders did not want him to be there.

These leaders see Fayyad as a threat to their exclusive hegemony over the Palestinian issue. They want a prime minister whose role is limited to inaugurating new cinemas, roads, shopping malls and Turkish baths.

The leaders in Ramallah would rather see Fayyad help prepare the largest Knafeh, a traditional Middle Eastern sweet, than sit at the negotiating table with Israel.

The argument that Fayyad was not taken to Washington because it Is the PLO, not the Palestinian Authority, that is negotiating with Israel, is irrelevant. In the past, Prime Ministers Mahmoud Abbas and Ahmed Qurei played an active role in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Contrary to the widely-believed perception in the West, Fayyad does not decide on important issues related to the peace process.

There Is a feeling among many Palestinians that in the West Bank that there is more than one authority: one headed by Mahmoud Abbas and another by Fayyad.

Sometimes one gets the impression that the two authorities are in competition or are functioning separately and speaking in two voices.

Fayyad was not consulted about the decision to launch direct talks with Israel unconditionally. Some Palestinians say that because of tensions between the two, Abbas and Fayyad rarely meet or talk.

Important decisions in the Palestinian Authority are taken either by Abbas's office or other bodies such as the PLO Executive Committee, the Fatah Central Committee and the Fatah Revolutionary Council.

The two have separate offices and hold separate meetings in Ramallah with visiting dignitaries.

Fayyad seems to be the man whose job is to talk to the West, while Abbas's main mission is to address Palestinians and Arabs.

Following last week's terror attack in which four Israelis were killed near the West Bank city of Hebron, Fayyad and Abbas issued different "condemnations."

Fayyad called the attack a "disgraceful act" and said that the Palestinian people are "united in non-violent, pacifistic resistance against settlements, the occupation and the terrorist behavior of settlers."

Abbas, on the other hand, issued a statement in which he said that he condemns all acts of violence against Palestinian and Israeli civilians. Abbas added that the deadly attack was designed to "disrupt" the peace process."

The two men even seem to disagree on Fayyad's plan to unilaterally declare a Palestinian state after creating irreversible facts on the ground. His grandiose plan for building state institutions has yet to be fully endorsed by the Palestinian leadership.

Despite the progress he has made on the economic front in the West Bank, Fayyad still has no real power over the various branches of the Palestinian security services, whose commanders report directly to Abbas's offices. Nor does he have real power over the Palestinian media, whose representatives continue to receive instructions from Abbas's office as to what they are allowed or not allowed to publish.

Fayyad can maybe lay the corner stone for a new orphanage in a Palestinian village, but he still does not have the power to appoint even a deputy governor or a commander of a police station.

True, the Palestinian Authority has "lowered the tone" regarding anti-Israel incitement, but that is mainly because of pressure from Western donors, not because of Fayyad's influence. However, the general tone in the Palestinian Authority's message to the Palestinians continues to regard Israel as an enemy and not a peace partner.

Fayyad's plan to build state institutions seems to be remarkable, but there is no way it can succeed when Fatah and other forces are breathing down his neck and placing obstacles in his way.

The Palestinian Authority wants a powerless prime minister like the ones in Egypt, Syria, Jordan and other Arab dictatorships where presidents and monarchs have the final say on all important matters.

Khaled Abu Toameh

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

Peace Process Progress Report

by Rick Richman

One week into the new peace process and the results so far: four Israeli civilians murdered (Yitzhak and Talya Ames, parents of six children, expecting their seventh; Kochava Even Chaim, a married teacher and mother whose husband was on the first-aid team that arrived to find that his wife was one of the victims; Avishai Shindler, a newly married 24-year-old); Talaya’s baby, a month from being born; seven new orphans, a new widow and widower; and their community (Beit Hagai, a small settlement of 95 families, formed 25 years ago near the biblical city of Hebron) without recourse.

A second attack occurred a day later, with two wounded, one seriously.

Yitzhak Rabin used to say that Israel would fight terrorism as if there were no peace process — and conduct the peace process as if there were no terrorism. Several peace processes later, only the latter part of that aphorism remains in effect. The first part has become a casualty of the peace process.

Israel cannot fight terrorism as if there were no peace process, because fighting terrorism would jeopardize the peace process. The peace process cannot progress as long as terrorism exists, but terrorism is safe from response as long as the peace process is in progress. Since the process is so important, any retaliation would by definition be disproportionate.

So it will not happen – even though the perpetrator is known, proudly claims responsibility, and promises to do it again. The peace process, which causes the deaths for which there cannot be any response other than to continue the peace process, will continue.

In other peace process news, the speeches in Washington last week were excellent.

Rick Richman

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

How to Communicate Concern to the Government of Israel Over the Latest Round of Negotiations

by Arliene Kushner

The ambivalence about where Netanyahu is headed is quite pervasive. His signals are not clear. As someone knowledgeable I spoke to said, "He's dancing between the raindrops." That is, there is no clearly defined, straight-ahead policy. There is, rather, an attempt to keep from getting "wet," which leads to a zig towards the left and a zag towards the right.

Analysts' columns are replete with the suggestion that there is a "new Netanyahu." This new one, if he exists, would not, at least from my perspective, be an improvement on the old one.

Carolyn Glick spoke about this in her column last Friday. She cited him as having said in Washington:

"I have been making the case for Israel all my life. But I did not come here to win an argument. I came here to forge a peace...."

Uh oh. Glick suggests that if he means what he is saying, we should be very worried.

But then, in his defense, she noted that he also said, "We left Lebanon, we got terror. We left Gaza, we got terror...a defensible peace requires security arrangements that withstand the test of time."


Will the real Binyamin Netanyahu please stand up. Is there a "real" one?

And it's not only we "common folk" who are in the dark, Silvan Shalom (Likud), who is a deputy prime minister, as well as minister of regional cooperation, complained a couple of days ago that the prime minister is not properly informing his cabinet of what has been said in meetings with Obama and Abbas.

Not a comforting thought. Leads one to suspect that Netanyahu is playing it close to his chest because he assumes his cabinet wouldn't like what he has to say.


In the midst of all of this, a situation has arisen that involves Netanyahu only peripherally. A situation of potentially enormous import:

Last week, Defense Minister (and sometimes de facto foreign minister) Ehud Barak gave an interview to Ari Shavit in Haaretz that caused quite a stir.

According to a misleading Haaretz headline, which was repeated in many venues, Barak revealed that "Israel ready to cede parts of Jerusalem in peace deal."

That's not exactly the case, however, when one reads the interview. (This is a signal lesson on how not to take headlines at their word.) Barak, of course, would be perfectly happy to see us cede parts of Jerusalem. Actually, he attempted to do so himself in 2000, when he made such an offer to Arafat and was spurned. And so, we must begin by remembering that Barak speaks for himself and his own political predilection and not for the government.

Shavit actually wrote that Barak, until Netanyahu took off for Washington, had been attempting to convince him to "cross the Rubicon," and move towards a settlement. But, Barak didn't know if he succeeded or not. And so, he could not have been speaking for the government.

In the course of the interview, Barak indicated that he thought amazing changes were underway that made peace more likely now: "I'm not saying that there is a certainty for success, but there is a chance. This chance must be exploited to the fullest."

OK. He may believe this. Or at least want to promote this perspective.


Barak was then asked what he believed a deal would look like. (What he believed.) He mentioned many aspects including a solution for Jerusalem.

When asked what this solution would look like, he responded:
"West Jerusalem and 12 Jewish neighborhoods that are home to 200,000 residents will be ours. The Arab neighborhoods in which close to a quarter million Palestinians live will be theirs. There will be a special regime in place along with agreed upon arrangements in the Old City, the Mount of Olives and the City of David."


This sets bells clanging, even as we remind ourselves that Barak may have been speaking only for himself and what he believes.

The troublesome part of this is the silence that followed. There was no denial issued from the prime minister's office, as might have been expected.

That's when it's possible to start asking if Barak spoke with Netanyahu's sanction, and if this is a trial balloon.

It could be. But we still don't know.


My gut tells me that precisely because Netanyahu is a political animal first, this is not an issue he would be inclined to go out on a limb for now. It is the single issue that would be most likely to bring his government down, as the Likud platform is for a united Jerusalem, and the positions of a solid percentage of his coalition, as well as of the Knesset, are opposed to a division of the city. Dividing Jerusalem is perhaps the hottest issue there is.

I've spoken to two politically savvy people who speculate that this may be a part of Netanyahu's game-playing -- similar to what I've written about in recent days: That Netanyahu saw that it fit his purposes not to issue an official denial of what Barak said, because it allowed people to believe he had shifted left (thus keeping the more leftist faction of the coalition as well as the Obama administration content or optimistic), while he, having committed to nothing, remained "clean."

It makes sense in a way, but it is in the end only speculation.

In fact, another speculation I've encountered is that this is a smoke screen, so that we'll not notice that he's preparing to give away Judea and Samaria.


In any event, we who love Israel and are determined that she not be divided -- not Jerusalem, most of all, but not Judea and Samaria either -- cannot take chances based on speculation.

And so this is the time to begin to yell. And we will not stop until we're confident that our nation and our holy city are safe. If this IS a trial balloon that Netanyahu has sent out via Barak, he has to know we will shoot it down. If he is simply allowing a misimpression to be floated for political advantage, he, and Obama, and Abbas, have to know we will not sit still for it.

After Rosh Hashana I hope to have information on the start up of a more sizeable campaign for a united Jerusalem.

Here, I want to begin with something else. I implore all of you who care to take the time to send a few messages, and to then share this with as many others as possible. Particularly is this true for those who are in Israel.

I know I've said it a hundred times before, but numbers do matter and what has to be done is that we have to create a deluge.

Below you will find a handful of names of persons of significance or power within our nation. The message is not exactly the same for each, and so I ask you to attend closely to the instructions.

As always, I beg you to keep the messages polite, short, and clear. No lengthy paragraphs. No historical reviews. Using your own words, get to the point, succinctly and graciously, and forcefully:

Jerusalem must not be divided. It would be a disaster for the Jewish nation and the Jewish people. It would represent a surrender of our heritage and our rights and would create a security risk as well. This message or a variation on it should be sent to each person below, along with the personalized words for that individual.


Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Ya'alon (Likud).

We have every reason to believe he is solidly with us, and we don't know what objections he's been making to Netanyahu privately. But we're not hearing his voice publicly and we need to. Please convey the message to him that he is greatly respected and that his voice is important at this time. Ask that he make a public statement regarding the necessity to keep Jerusalem united, and that he persist in sending this message publicly.

Best way to reach him is via his aide Anat:

Minister Without Portfolio Bennie Begin (Likud)

Same approach, same message here as for Ya'alon.

I'm advised that he reads his own e-mail:

Minister of Diaspora Affairs Yuli Edelstein (Likud)

Ask him to work in every way that is possible to help prevent a division of Jerusalem -- both by speaking out and what he does inside the Likud. Let him know you're counting on him.

Best to reach him via his aide Olga:

MK Ze'ev Elkin (Likud), Head of the Knesset Coalition

Ask him to act in every way that is possible for him, inside the Knesset, to keep Jerusalem safe and united. Let him know that he is a man with a solid reputation and that what he does now is exceedingly important for the nation.

Contact him at: or by fax: 02-649-6438

Uzi Arad, National Security Advisor for PM Netanyahu (he solidly has his ear).

Implore him to use his influence to the utmost to make certain that Jerusalem remains united no matter the circumstances.

You can reach him via the e-mail for the prime minister's (underscore after pm). Put "For Uzi Arad, National Security Advisor" in the subject line.

You can also use the fax number for the prime minister's office -- 02-670-5369 -- with a clear note at top that it is "For Uzi Arad, National Security Advisor."

Tzvi Hauser, Secretary of the Cabinet.

Ask him to convey to the prime minister and other ministers of the Cabinet the enormous distress and anger felt with regard to any suggestion that Jerusalem might be divided, and the absolute necessity to ensure that this never happens.

He can be reached using the same contact information for the prime minister's office as for Arad, above: (underscore after pm) and fax number 02-670-5369, with a clear note in either case indicating that this is "For Tzvi Houser, Cabinet Secretary."


My friends, I thank you. This needs to be done quickly, before Rosh Hashana. There will be much more to do in the course of matters later.


Arliene Kushner is Senior Research Policy Analyst, Center for Near East Policy Research.

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

We Won't Let Terrorism Stop Us From Appeasing the Terrorists

by Daniel Greenfield

We Won't Let Terrorism Stop Us From Appeasing the Terrorists

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu arrived in Washington D.C. over the bodies of four of his citizens and one unborn child, murdered by Islamic terrorists. The media had spent a busy two days worrying that the murders might in some way interrupt the latest phase of the tragic farce euphemistically referred to as, "The Peace Process". Luckily for the terrorists, who are the sole and only beneficiaries of these and all other negotiations, killing Israelis did not prevent the Israelis from showing up at the negotiating table anyway.

Extending a hand
The media however doesn't think much of it, with multiple stories arguing that Netanyahu really doesn't want peace. Time Magazine took it further with a cover story arguing that Israel Doesn't Want Peace. Which is an inevitable assumption given that over the last two decades, Israel has turned over territory, weapons, houses, factories and cold hard cash to the terrorists. In exchange the terrorists have occasionally agreed to show up at the negotiating table, denounce Israel and demand more-- in between calling for a Jihad. Clearly Israel doesn't want peace.

Of course when it comes to walking across the bodies of his own dead citizens in order to shake the hand of a terrorist and a murderer, Netanyahu is a piker. Past Prime Ministers have shown up to negotiate after bus bombings with two digit casualties. They have sat across from Arafat, even as that greasy thug's henchmen were busy firing their AK-47's into the air in Ramallah to celebrate the last batch of arms and legs strewn across a shopping district by another martyr for Allah, Al Quds and Palestine. Perhaps when the terrorists manage to do more than kill four people, an unborn baby, wound a Rabbi, his wife and 12 year old girl-- and the Prime Minister of Israel still shows up ready to give away the store to the terrorists, then the US government and the media will be convinced that Israel is absolutely serious about peace.

Not that there's anything to actually negotiate. Abbas is an unelected dictator being propped up by the Obama Administration, and doesn't represent anyone. Also Abbas has announced that he will make no concessions to Israel whatsoever. He also announced that he absolutely refuses to recognize Israel. Naturally you won't find mention of this in the media. Certainly not in Time Magazine. There won't be any covers reading, "Why the Terrorists Don't Want Peace", just as you won't see any Time covers reading, "Why is Islam Bigoted?" The terrorists always get a pass. Their victims always get the shaft.

According to the media the biggest problem is Israeli towns (aka settlements) in areas that the terrorists want for themselves. One of those towns happens to be Jerusalem. If you believe the media, the obstacle to peace is not the murder of Jews by the terrorists, or that the leader of one of the terrorist factions has already announced that he is not willing to actually concede anything at the negotiations. No, the real problem is that there are Jews living in areas where they used to live before the armies of five Arab countries invaded their land, and ethnically cleansed the Jews from those areas.

In order to show good faith, Netanyahu agreed to freeze construction in those areas. What that means is Jewish residents can't build an extension to their house and farmers can't add a barn or a garage out back. People who have paid for a mortgage and began building a house for their kids have had to stop and wait. Because according to the terrorists, Obama and the media-- their home is an obstacle to peace. After the latest terrorist attack, some of the residents have decided to take matters into their own hands and begin construction work on their own. The media has run sensational stories about this "illegal construction", as if cement mixers and power drills, are more evil than drive by shootings and beating a man to death.

Lance Wolf beating caught on tape

In Jerusalem, two Arabs beat Lance Wolf, a 60 year old American from Seattle, to death. Near Hebron, Islamic terrorists murdered Yitzchak and Talia Imas, along with Avishai Shindler and Kokhava Even-Chaim. Rabbi Moshe Moreno was driving with his wife when terrorists opened fire with an assault rifle from a passing car. Their car overturned and the terrorists approached to finish them off, just as had been done to the Imas family. But the terrorists' assault rifle jammed, Rabbi Moreno got his wife out of the car and took shelter behind a boulder. The media hasn't even bothered to cover their near death escape. And in Washington D.C. everyone nods and gets down to the serious business of deciding how much the terrorists need to be appeased this time.

Obama described the killings as "senseless slaughter". Given his loose attention to the words coming out of his mouth, it's hard to say whether this was another malapropism or cynical pretense. Because everyone knows exactly what the "sense" behind the slaughter is. You can see it on Palestinian Arab TV, read it in the speeches of their leaders and the charters of their organizations. You can find it in the Koran and Abbas' own veneration of terrorists as "martyrs". The sense is simple enough. Kill the Jews. Kill the non-Muslims. Subjugate the rest.

That is the sense behind the slaughter. That was always the sense behind the slaughter.

On the 1st of August, the last month of her life, Talia Imas wrote a blog post in which she quoted the following;

In the Arabic language and Arab-Muslim mentality the word "peace" doesn't exist in its European sense. There is peace among Muslims. There is peace when the infidels are subjugated and beg for mercy-- then they can be granted peace. And there is Hudna, when the infidel enemy is strong and his destruction is postponed for a time. Hudna, the long-term truce, that is the best we can get-- and only if we are strong.

A month before she and her husband were murdered, Talia Imas understood clearly why it would happen. Negotiating with Muslim terrorists is a sign of weakness. And weakness means the time is ripe for attack.

The Imas Family
In November 2009, the Israeli authorities took away Yitzchak Imas' weapons permit, because of his participation in the Temple Institute, a peaceful organization that attempts to preserve the Jewish claim to the Temple Mount, the site of two temples, which Muslims hijacked in order to build their Dome of the Rock. Yitzchak led groups to the Temple Mount to remind them that the site is part of the Jewish cultural and religious heritage. An act that upset and enraged the Muslims. To the Israeli authorities that made him an extremist, as anyone who upsets Muslims is considered to be an extremist.

Yitzchak Imas was disarmed and left unable to defend his pregnant wife and the other passengers in his car. Because by upsetting Muslims he had demonstrated that he was an "extremists" and had to be disarmed. Similarly by upsetting the Muslim world, Israel has demonstrated to the international community of diplomats and appeasers that it is an "extremist state" and must be disarmed as well. The same cowardly Dhimmi psychology that cost Yitzchak Imas and his wife and their unborn child their lives-- is driving Israel, and any country targeted by Muslims over the abyss.

Four days before her murder, Talia Imas recorded her thoughts on watching a documentary on the expulsion of Jews from Gaza, and on seeing the last remains of the Jewish towns and villages there.

"Except for mosques in which there are Islamic Universities, nothing is left. In place of all the towns, gardens, greenhouses, there is only sand, sand and sand. There is not even a sign of the life that was formerly there. Only at the end, the photographer reported that he had found the gray skeleton of a building, but he could not identify it. He sent me the photos and my breath stopped. It had been the synagogue in Neve Dekalim.

Job. This was the comparison I made. "The LORD has given and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD."

These are the words with which Bruriah also comforted her husband, R. Meir on the death of their sons. And the words with which Jews have so often accepted tragedy and loss.

That same day Yitzchak made plans to lead a group back to the Temple Mount in September. Four days later he and his wife were murdered. When the Muslim terrorists opened fire on his car and returned to finish them off, he could not fire a shot in self-defense. His weapons had been taken away.

Hillary Clinton described the Imas' as "Lost", but they were not lost. They were found. They had come out of the Soviet Union and the dark heart of Communism where religion was forbidden, faith was a crime and Jewishness an offense-- and found where they belonged. To the Clintons and Obamas, they are lost. To the left they were a blot on the land. To the media, they are a crime. And in Washington D.C., Obama and Clinton are working to turn over the home of their orphans to the terrorists who murdered their parents.

The Imas, who defied two totalitarian ideologies, Communism and Islamism, are not lost. They found the faith to defy evil. It is those who side with evil, like Hillary Clinton and Barack Hussein Obama, who are truly and irrevocably lost. It is the Hadash mob in Israel, the petty actors and writers waving their hateful little signs and vowing a boycott in the name of a socialist solidarity with their Arab Marxist colleagues, now turned Islamist, that are lost. It is the politicians of the free world, in America and Europe, Australia, Israel, Canada and anywhere in the world who bow to evil-- who are lost. And if they are allowed to remain in power, those countries that they rule over will be lost too.

And now the "Lost" once again head off to more talks. Talks with terrorists whose leader has already announced that he make no concessions and that he will not even recognize Israel. And these are the "moderate" terrorists. The ones supported by American money and weapons, and Israeli electricity and tax revenues.

"We won't let Terrorism stop us from appeasing the Terrorists", proclaim our leaders. They may kill as many of us as they like, and we will take their side in every dispute. We will give them land and money. We will let them build a mosque at Ground Zero. We will betray our own, let them divide and conquer us, community by community, state by state and nation by nation. We will denounce anyone who resists as extremists. We will fight with our very last breath for the right to go on surrendering to terrorists. We will go on appeasing them until we are all dead or slaves. Then they will finally know that we were the "good ones", the tolerant and enlightened people. Good enough. Good as dead.

Which of these is not like the others?
The Peace Process is the process of Islam. The process by which Islamic supremacy is achieved through guile. The Arabic word for peace is Salaam or السلام . The Hadiths describe Salaam as one of the six rights of a Muslim. As-Salaam is also the name of Allah, the Muslim deity. Non-Muslims cannot be granted Salaam, unless they Taslim, submit to Muslims and their deity. To ask Muslims for peace, is to offer to submit to them. Is it any wonder if they take you at your word?

The Peace Process is only a fingernail on the gnarled hand of Islam reaching out for the world. Nations like Israeli, India and Thailand which have large Muslim minorities and share borders with Muslim countries are on the frontier, the firing line. But the invasion force has not stopped there. It is in Europe and Australia. It is in America and Canada. It is here right now. And those who insist that they will not allow terrorism to stop them from appeasing the terrorists, are worse than the terrorists. Because the only thing worse than a murderer, is the man who is paid to stop him, but lets him do his bloody work instead. In the name of peace. In the name of Islam.

Daniel Greenfield

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