Friday, September 24, 2010

Former Jihadist Cleric Sayyid Imam Comes Out against Cordoba House, Slams Al-Awlaki, Compares Bin Laden to Hitler and Genghis Khan


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Sayyid Imam Al-Sharif

The former senior jihadist cleric Sayyid Imam Al-Sharif, aka "Dr. Fadl," has reportedly issued a new statement denouncing the plans to build a mosque near the site of the 9/11 attacks. The handwritten document, titled "A Statement from Dr. Fadl Regarding the New York Mosque and the Burning of the Quran on the Ninth Anniversary of the 9/11 Bombings," was cited and summarized in Al-Hayat by Muhammad Salah, the newspaper's Cairo bureau chief, who likewise conducted the famous prison interviews with Sayyid Imam in late 2007.[1]

In addition, the Egyptian daily Al-Masri Al-Yawm published what it said was the full text of the statement. (All of the Al-Hayat excerpts are contained in the article in Al-Masri Al-Yawm, but in the former Sayyid Imam labels Faisal Abdul Rauf "an Islamic preacher" (ahad du'at al-islam) whereas in the latter version he is labeled "a promoter of discord" (ahad du'at al-fitna). (The words islam and fitna are not at all orthographically similar in Arabic, so one of the newspapers has presumably altered the text.)

Sayyid Imam is one of a handful of influential radical clerics who helped give birth to the global jihadist movement in the 1980s and 1990s. He is a former head of Ayman Al-Zawahiri's Jihad organization, and in 1987 he authored a shari'a guide to jihad that was used as a textbook in Al-Qaeda training camps. Imam was arrested in Yemen in the post-9/11 security crackdown and was extradited to Egypt. In 2007 he stunned many with the publication of his Document of Right Guidance for Jihad Activity in Egypt and the World, in which he called for a cessation of most forms of jihad. Since that time he has been a regular and vehement critic of Al-Qaeda.[2]

In his new statement, Sayyid Imam expresses opposition to the proposed construction of Cordoba House near Ground Zero in Manhattan: "Although the 9/11 bombings were contrary to the teachings of Islam, they have been attributed to Islam. Osama bin Laden deceived people, saying that he works to champion Islam. Then there appeared a contemporary Islamic preacher [or "a promoter of discord" – see our introduction] who wants to build a mosque near the site of the bombings in New York [i.e. Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf]. I say that it is not permitted to build this mosque on this site, for two reasons.

"The first is that there is no Islamic obligation to build the mosque on this site [in particular], since a Muslim is allowed to pray anywhere that is ritually pure. The second reason is that [building the mosque] entails harm to the victims of these bombings, who were killed in an operation that was contrary to the teachings of Islam, and reminds them and others of their grief." The statement said further that the proposed Cordoba House "is a mosque of discord (fitna), and one is not allowed to aid in its construction in any manner, even if the Americans were to agree to it, since [if it is built] this damage and discord will continue for generations to come."

Imam also condemned Pastor Terry Jones for his (now-cancelled) plans to burn the Quran, saying that doing so "would not harm the Quran or Islam one bit. He would only be harming himself and his coreligionists. This behavior has the potential to turn the entire world into a bloody field of conflict between Muslims and non-Muslims."

The statement also expressed criticism of the radical Yemeni-American cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki, who has expressed pride in his ties to the Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan and the would-be Detroit bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab,[3] and who earlier this year appeared in an Al-Qaeda video and called on American Muslim servicemen to kill their fellow soldiers.[4] Sayyid Imam writes: "Anwar Al-Awlaki's appeal to Muslims in America to kill their American colleagues is contrary to the teachings of Islam… The [first] Muslims emigrated from Mecca, fleeing the harm [done them] by their own people, and lived in safety among the Christians of Abyssinia. The Prophet Muhammad, may Allah's prayer and peace be upon him, did not order them to kill anyone among the Abyssinians. If this had been obligatory, the Prophet would have ordered them to do it."

In the closing portion of his statement, Sayyid Imam denies that there exists an existential struggle between Muslims and non-Muslims, and addresses a few words to the topic of his former colleague Osama bin Laden: "There have been four destroyers in human history who wanted to burn down the world in order to realize their imperial ambitions: Genghis Khan, Napoleon, Hitler, and Osama bin Laden."

Source: Al-Hayat, London, September 18, 2010; Al-Masri Al-Yawm, Egypt, September 18, 2010

Who Lost Turkey?

by Caroline Glick

You have to hand it to Turkey's Islamist leaders. They sure know how to get their way. In the seven years since they first took power, the Islamist AKP party has successfully transformed Turkey from a staunch ally of the US and Israel and a member of NATO into a staunch ally of Iran and a member of NATO.

And that's not all. Turkey's Islamist leaders have used the Western language of democracy and freedom not only to abandon the West. They have used that language to destroy the foundations of Turkey's Western-style secular democracy and transform the governing system of NATO's sole Muslim member into a hybrid of Putinist autocracy and Iranian theocracy.

On September 12, the AKP took an enormous step toward consolidating its achievements and expanding its power. The Islamist regime won a national plebiscite on constitutional amendments that remove the remaining obstacles to its absolute power.

As a National Review reader noted, the vote was a mockery of democracy. It was held at the end of Ramadan during which the AKP provided 30 consecutive free post- Ramadan fast dinners to voters in key voting districts.

SINCE TAKING office, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his party have used both lawful and unlawful means to intimidate, repress and silence all significant organs of secularist opposition to their rolling Islamic revolution. The media, civil service, police and business community have all been co-opted and intimidated into submission.

According to the Kemalist constitution, the military was the constitutional protector of secular Turkey. It was constitutionally bound to combat all threats to Turkey's secular regime – including threats posed by political parties and political leaders. Over the past seven years, the AKP has done everything it could to demoralize and criminalize the military's leadership and eviscerate the military's constitutional powers and organizational independence. Most recently, President Abdullah Gul began intervening in promotions of generals to block all non-Islamists from acquiring command positions.

The constitutional amendments just passed further emasculate the military, placing it under the jurisdiction of AKP-controlled civilian courts.

In 1980, in accordance with its constitutional responsibility, the military ousted a precursor of the AKP from power in what the West incorrectly characterized as a coup. The new constitutional amendments make the military commanders who ousted the Islamists vulnerable to criminal prosecution for their actions. No doubt, in the near future these generals will be brought into court in shackles and charged with subverting the will of the people.
The message to any general with any thought of removing Erdogan and his colleagues will be crystal clear.

Aside from the chastened military, the only remaining outpost of secular power in Turkey has been the judiciary. In the past, the judiciary has overturned many of the government's actions that it ruled were unconstitutional and illegal. The new constitutional amendments will work to end judicial independence by giving the government control over judicial appointments. The AKP's justice minister will also have increased power to open investigations against judges and prosecutors.

Not surprisingly, Erdogan has praised the results of the plebiscite. As he put it, “The winner today was Turkish democracy.”

Now, with his constitutional amendments in hand, the only thing separating Erdogan from absolute power are next year's elections. If he and his party win, with their new constitutional powers, they will have no obstacles to remaining in power forever. If they win, whether Erdogan declares it or not, Turkey will be an Islamist state with no effective domestic checks on the power of its rulers to do what they wish at home and abroad.

Erdogan also promised that the new amendments will facilitate entrance into the European Union. And judging by the EU's initial response to the vote, he may be correct. The European Commission's enlargement commissioner, Stefan Fule, hailed the vote as “a step in the right direction.”

Fule said that the constitutional changes “address a number of long-standing priorities in Turkey's efforts toward fully complying with [EU] accession criteria.”

The EU has been one of AKP's primary enablers. Ruled by their ideology of multiculturalism, European leaders have refused to recognize the unique role the Turkish military played in securing the country's secular regime. That regime was of course, the EU's most vital strategic asset in Turkey. And so they gave the AKP the international cover it required to remove the greatest threat to its Islamic revolution.

AS FOR the US, President Barack Obama praised the plebiscite as proof of the “vibrancy of Turkish democracy.” As Michael Rubin has noted in National Review, not only has Obama approved the sale of 100 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters to Turkey, the Defense Department has demurred from conducting a study to see whether the sale will threaten US interests in light of Turkey's burgeoning strategic ties with Iran. And not wishing to embarrass the administration that has given a full-throated endorsement to Erdogan's regime, the Democrat-controlled Senate Armed Services Committee has refused to ask the Pentagon to conduct such a review.

After the Obama administration canceled the F-22 project, the F-35 will be the US military's only advanced fighter. In light of its strategic alliance with Iran, Turkey's possession of the jets could constitute a serious threat to US air superiority in the region.

As for NATO, the US's most important military alliance had no comment on Turkey's rolling Islamic revolution. This is not in the least surprising. NATO has stood at a distance as Turkey has undermined its mission in Kosovo and transformed it into a virtual Turkish colony. So too, NATO has had no comment as Turkey has worked consistently to disenfranchise Bosnia's non-Muslim minorities and intimidate the Serbian government. At this late date, it would have been shocking if NATO had a comment of any kind on the AKP's consolidation of its Islamist thugocracy.

Iran, for its part, is not at all squeamish about both recognizing the significance of events in Turkey and extolling them. It has reportedly agreed to contribute $25 million to the AKP to help Erdogan in his bid for reelection next year. Turkish-Iranian trade has gone up 86 percent in the past year.

In a visit to Istanbul this week, Iranian Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi said, “Turkey is the best friend of Iran in the world. Turkey is very important for Iran's political and economic security. Our Supreme Leader [Ali] Khamenei also asks for acceleration of political, economic and security relations with Turkey.”
And still the West sleeps.

As it watched the AKP's steady transformation of Turkey from staunch ally to staunch enemy, for seven years Israel tried to make light of what was happening. Indeed, its decision to opt for denial over strategic disengagement prompted it to continue selling Turkey state of the art military equipment. The IDF now acknowledges that Turkey has shared this equipment with the likes of Syria and Hizbullah.

Israel hoped that Turkey would grow so dependent on its military relationship that it would abandon its intention to ditch the alliance. That foolish hope was finally destroyed when Turkey committed an act of war on the high seas on May 31 with its terror flotilla to Gaza.

EVERY MOVE since then to make light of Turkey's actions has been shot down by yet another Turkish affront. In its latest slight, Turkey loudly announced that Gul will not have time to meet with President Shimon Peres at the UN General Assembly in New York this week while Gul was only too pleased to free hours from his schedule to meet with Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
And still, perhaps out of deference to Obama, Israel has remained circumspect in its statements about the dangers Islamist Turkey poses not only to it but to the free world as a whole. And this is a shame. But then, it is hard to imagine Israeli warnings making any difference.

The US and Europe's refusal to consider the implications of Turkey's abandonment of the West in favor of Iran goes hand in hand with their abandonment of the cause of liberalism throughout the Middle East and the world as a whole. Among other things, their dangerous behavior is emblematic of their consummate elitism.

The likes of Obama and the heads of Europe view their own publics as mere nuisances. For Obama, the groundswell of opposition to his radical and failed economic reforms doesn't indicate that there is something wrong with what he is doing. As he has made clear in repeated statements in recent weeks, as far as he is concerned, his steady loss of support is simply proof of the American people's ignorance.

As for Europe, it is not a great stretch to say that the entire EU is an elitist project consolidated against the will of the peoples of Europe. The EU leadership thought nothing of ramming its expanded powers down the throats of its unwilling constituents. After the Lisbon Treaty was rejected in referendum after referendum, Europe's leaders conspired to pass it by bureaucratic fiat.

This contempt for their own people leads the leaders of the West to disregard human rights abuses from China to Syria as unimportant. So too, it has paved the path for Obama's courtship of the Muslim Brotherhood in the US and Egypt and his decision to back the mullahs against the Iranian people in the aftermath of the stolen presidential election in June 2009.

Making deals with authoritarian leaders is so much easier than actually selling the case for the West and its values to the peoples of the world. This is particularly so given the contempt with which Western leaders hold their own publics.

Unfortunately, it is this contempt for the peoples of the West, of Turkey, Iran, China and the rest of the world that is making Erdogan's revolution a preordained success. At this late date, the only possible way for the Turkish opposition to win next year's fateful elections is if it receives massive political and other support from the West. Only if the US, the EU and NATO state outright that they view the turn to Islamism as dangerous to their interests and to their relations with Turkey will the opposition gain the necessary momentum to put up a fight. Only if the West puts its money where its mouth is and matches Iran's generosity toward the AKP with generosity of its own toward its political opponents will there be any chance that the until now unstoppable Islamist transformation will be checked.

Obama and his European colleagues may believe that they will not be blamed for the loss of Turkey. After all, its transformation into Iran's best friend started seven years ago. But they are wrong. If they continue to sit on their elitist laurels, Turkey will be lost on their watch and they will not be forgiven by their own peoples for their failure to act in time.

Caroline Glick

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

The Ultimate Lesson of Egypt's Fake Photo

by Raymond Ibrahim

The Muslim world needs a cultural, as opposed to merely a religious, reformation

One of the most widely circulated newspapers in the world, Egypt's Al Ahram, recently ran a fake picture depicting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak walking in front of U.S. President Barack Obama and a pack of other Mideast leaders. In fact, based on the original photo, Mubarak, the octogenarian, appeared trailing last.

Why the outlandish deception by an internationally recognized newspaper founded in 1875? Al Ahram editor Ossama al-Saraya defended the fraudulent photo by referring to it as an "expressionist photo … a brief, live and true expression of the prominent stance of President Mubarak in the Palestinian issue, his unique role in leading it before Washington." All well and good, but beyond the euphemisms and rationalizations, the fact remains: by portraying something that was not true, the state-run Al Ahram intentionally tried to deceive the people.

On the one hand, as Wael Khalil, the Egyptian blogger who first called attention to the altered photo pointed out, this anecdote is a snapshot of the routine deception the Egyptian government foists on the people: "They lie to us all the time. Instead of addressing the real issues, they just Photoshop it." On a deeper level, this incident reveals that, contrary to common belief, the fundamental problem facing the reformation of the Islamic world is not merely doctrinal; it is cultural.

Consider: even though sharia law promotes various troubling doctrines — the subjugation of non-Muslims and women, animosity to the non-Muslim world, even the use of deception, as in the case of the Mubarak picture — the one hope has been that only "radical" Muslims follow these mandates. And this is true, consciously speaking. Unconsciously, however, sharia's teachings have become so imbedded in the Muslim psyche, permeating the worldview of all people born or bred in the Islamic world, regardless of whether they are "moderate" or "radical," indeed, regardless of whether they are Muslim at all.

Marshall Hodgson coined the term "Islamicate" to describe this phenomenon, which refers "not directly to the religion, Islam, itself, but to the social and cultural complex historically associated with Islam and the Muslims, both among Muslims themselves and even when found among non-Muslims" (The Venture of Islam, vol. 1, p.59). Daniel Pipes agrees: "Shar'i regulations were also at the heart of many Islamicate patters… [T]he Muslim approach to politics derives from the invariant premises of the religion and from fundamental themes established more than a millennium ago" (In the Path of God, pgs. 91-93).

In other words, if Muslim culture is more mind-molding and consequential than Muslim doctrine, still, the former has strong roots in the latter. Thus, while radical Muslims consciously seek to uphold the letter of the law, moderates unconsciously adhere to its cultural, social, and political manifestations.

In this context, then, Egypt's Al Ahram's Photoshop deception is consistent. Because Muhammad, and by extension sharia, permit deceit, or taqiyya, it was only natural for deception to find its way into the socio-political culture of Islam. So, whereas the radical Osama bin Laden consciously tries to implement Muhammad's injunction that "war is deceit," secularist Hosni Mubarak and his regime, including at Al Ahram, have been unconsciously molded by it. More to the point, aside from the Western media and opposition groups to Mubarak, the so-called "Arab Street" is hardly scandalized by this event, seeing it as a natural occurrence — not so much because the Mubarak regime is particularly deceptive, but rather because the use of deceit to stay in power is consistent to the Islamicate mindset.

Lest one still doubt that aspects of a religion can become casually embedded in the social fabric of a civilization, one need look no further than to Christianity, which continues to exhibit an unconscious influence on the secular West, including upon those who most disavow it. After all, tolerance, human rights, a desire for peace, being the "nice guy"— indeed, all of those concepts most championed by today's liberal secularist, did not develop in a vacuum, but rather from precursor concepts held by a 2,000 year old religion, concepts which were then absurd and today aberrant, but which nonetheless conditioned the West's secular mindset accordingly.

In short, the teachings of a religion can subtly color the worldview of its non-observant posterity. This is especially so for Muslims: for if Western secularists, who disclaim Christianity, are still influenced by its teachings, how much more Muslims who openly avow Islam? Not only Photoshop deceit, then, but any number of "Islamicate" aspects — from a tribal sense of loyalty to fellow Muslims to hatred for dogs, because Muhammad said so — remain part of the average Muslim's intellectual framework.

Let it be known, then, that well meaning, moderate Muslims have yet another obstacle to tackle in their quest to reform the Islamic world. After they manage to revise some of Islam's intolerant teachings and archaic doctrines — a feat difficult enough — they must then figure out how to eradicate the fourteen-hundred year old epistemology borne of them.

Raymond Ibrahim is associate director of the Middle East Forum, author of The Al Qaeda Reader, and guest lecturer at the National Defense Intelligence College.

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

Trend: Christians Preach to Muslims, Get Arrested

by David J. Rusin

Does the First Amendment protect Christians who bring their message to Muslims at public events or in front of mosques? This is a good question, given the trend of missionaries being placed under arrest while proselytizing to followers of Islam — right here in the United States:

  • On June 18, four Christians were arrested for breach of peace at the Arab International Festival in Dearborn, Michigan. The group's videos show them engaging in reasoned debate with Muslims or merely roaming around, but one festival volunteer accused them of harassment, making him feel "nervous." According to the Detroit Free Press, "Police said the missionaries were arrested because they failed to obey police commands. Officers maintain the group's actions were a public safety issue because they caused a large number of people to gather in a small place." The trial is now in progress.

  • On July 3, two evangelicals in front of Philadelphia's Masjid al-Jamia were arrested by University of Pennsylvania police officers for disorderly conduct and obstruction of a highway. Michael Marcavage says that a bicycle cop demanded that they cease preaching there. When backup arrived, Marcavage started to film. The Daily Pennsylvanian recounts: "He claimed that Officer Nicole Michel assaulted him and forcibly shut off his camera. Marcavage called 911 because 'the officer was out of control,' and began filming once more, at which point the police confiscated the device." He insists that they intentionally destroyed his footage. The trial is scheduled for November.

  • On August 30, Mark Holick was outside the Islamic Society of Wichita, Kansas, distributing "packets that included the Gospel of John and the Book of Romans in English and Arabic, [and] a DVD with testimonies of former Islamists who have come to the Lord," when police allegedly ordered him and a dozen others to move away from the building. He was then arrested for "loitering and failing to disperse." Holick wants the charges dropped.

At the core of all three cases is the principle that government or entities acting on its behalf cannot muzzle unpopular speech. Newt Gingrich sounds a more specific alarm: freedom is being sacrificed to Shari'a law's "intolerance against the preaching of religions other than Islam."

No American city epitomizes this concern as much as heavily Muslim Dearborn. Members of the same Christian group, Acts 17 Apologetics, were tossed from last year's Arab fest by abusive security personnel. Dearborn authorities attempted to curb the rights of a separate Christian organization to disseminate material at the 2009 event, restrictions later overturned by a federal appeals court. To add insult to injury, Mayor John B. O'Reilly Jr. recently declared that his city is "under attack" by Acts 17.

As the above cases move through the legal system, readers are welcome to educate Mayor O'Reilly (contact info here, area code is 313) about the one thing that truly is "under attack" in Dearborn and across America: the First Amendment.

David J. Rusin

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

School Trip to “Moderate” Mosque: Inside Video Captures Kids Bowing to Allah

by Americans For Peace & Tolerance

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Today, Americans for Peace and Tolerance released a video showing 6th graders from Wellesley, MA as they rise from prostrating themselves alongside Muslim men in a prayer to Allah while on a public school field trip to the largest mosque in the Northeast. Teachers did not intervene. Parents have not been told.

Watch the video

The video was taken inside the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center – Boston’s controversial Saudi-funded mega-mosque – during a Wellesley Middle School social studies trip to the mosque, ostensibly taken to learn about the history of Islam first-hand. Yet the video reveals that the students are being blatantly mis-educated about Islam. A mosque spokesperson is seen teaching the children that in Mohammed’s 7th century Arabia women were allowed to vote, while in America women only gained that right a hundred years ago. This seems to be an increasingly recurring theme in American schools – the denigration of western civilization and the glorification of Islamic history and values. In fact, just recently, the American Textbook Council revealed that the New York State high school regents exam whitewashes the atrocities that occurred during the imperialistic Islamic conquest of Christian Byzantium, Persia, the African continent, and the Indian subcontinent, even as it demonizes European colonialism in South America.

The mosque spokesperson also taught the students that the only meaning of Jihad in Islam is a personal spiritual struggle, and that Jihad has historically had no relationship with holy war. As far as we know, the school has not corrected these false lessons.

For the past three years we’ve been sounding the alarm about the radical leadership and Saudi funding of the Boston mega-mosque and the organization that runs it, the Muslim American Society, which has been labeled by Federal prosecutors as “the overt arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in America.”

The Islamic Society of Boston was founded by Abdulrahman Alamoudi, who is currently serving 23 years in jail on terror charges. For years, its board of trustees included Yusuf al Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood who was banned by Bill Clinton from the United States in 1999. Qaradawi now chairs the Muslim American Society’s university, which offers classes inside the mosque. Over half the mosque’s $15.5 million price tag was funded by wealthy Saudis and since it opened, several of its leaders, donors and members have been implicated in Islamic extremism.

Oussama Ziade, a big donor to the mosque, is now a fugitive in Lebanon after being indicted in 2009 for dealing in the assets of an Al Qaeda financier. Ahmad Abousamra, the son of the Boston Muslim American Society’s former vice-president Abdulbadi Abousamra, is now a fugitive in Syria, fleeing the country before being indicted in 2009 on charges of aiding Al Qaeda. One of the mosque’s imams, Abdullah Faaruuq, was captured on tape in 2010 telling followers to “pick up the gun and the sword” and to defend another local terrorist Aafia Siddiqui from the U.S. government. Siddiqui, who was one of the imam’s congregants, is an MIT graduate and Al Qaeda memberawaiting sentencing for attempting to murder FBI agents in Afghanistan while shouting “death to America.” (LINK)

The mosque leadership continues to be embraced by top Massachusetts political and religious leaders. These include Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, as well as a group of local progressive rabbis and Christian clergy, who all insist despite evidence to the contrary that the mosque is moderate and its critics are just bigots.

Indeed, this is a familiar refrain by leaders nationwide in response to the increasing public realization that Islamic leaders are not as moderate as they present themselves. Radicalism is growing and many moderate Muslims have been silenced. In various parts of the country, public schools are allowing Muslim extremists to promote Islam to our children. Something’s broken here. Our leadership is failing. It’s now up to ordinary citizens to fix it.

Americans For Peace & Tolerance

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

Mubarak's Media

by Khaled Abu Toameh

The Mubarak regime is openly and shamelessly admitting that it is fine to lie to tens of millions of Egyptians: Al-Ahram, the largest, oldest and "most respected" newspaper in the Arab world has been caught doctoring a photo of President Hosni Mubarak.

This was not the first time that the state-run newspaper has been caught forging photos or fabricating news stories. Such cases are not unusual in Arab countries that are run by corrupt and totalitarian regimes.

Like the rest of their Arab colleagues working for state-owned media outlets, Mubarak's editors and journalists see nothing wrong with publishing lies and fabrications.

Mubarak's media have been publishing lies and fabrications for decades, especially with regard to Israel and the situation in Egypt. In addition, Middle East experts have often pointed out that the state-controlled media in Egypt is among the most anti-Semitic in the world.

Egyptian editors and journalists on Mubarak's payroll have been telling their readers that Jews were behind 9/11, that Israel was spreading AIDS in the country and that Israeli security agents had flooded the Egyptian market with chewing gum that makes women feel an urgent need to engage in sexual intercourse.

Some Egyptian journalists working for Mubarak's government even went as far as holding Israel and its supporters responsible for exposing the doctored photo. This is in keeping with the long-time and familiar policy of all Arab dictatorships, namely to blame Israel and Jews for everything that goes wrong in the Arab world.

These dictatorships think that the Arabs and Muslims are so stupid that they could get away even with fabricating photos.

A regime that fabricates photos and news stories cannot be trusted with holding free and democratic elections.

The case of the doctored photo in Al-Ahram should also serve as a warning to readers in the Arab world in general, and in Egypt, not to take everything they read and see in their media for granted. Arab journalists, on the other hand, need to get together to launch a campaign against such practices that defame their profession and damage the credibility of Arab media.

In the original photo, Mubarak appeared walking behind President Barack Obama, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas during the launch of US-sponsored talks in Washington in early September.

The government-appointed editors of Al-Ahram decided that it was "unbefitting" of their president to be seen trailing behind other world leaders.

The editors found a quick and easy solution to the "problem." Using Photoshop, they played around with the picture so that Mubarak would appear at the helm.

Those who until now thought that these regimes use their media only to distort the truth and publish fabricated stories have now discovered how far the dictatorships are prepared to go in their effort to brainwash Arabs and Muslims.

The nerve, or audacity, of these repressive regimes also knows no boundaries. Instead of apologizing to its readers for deceiving them with the doctored photo of Mubarak, Al-Ahram rushed to defend its act of deception.

Al-Ahram's editor justified the trickery by arguing that the doctored photo was only meant to illustrate Egypt's leading role in the Middle East peace process.

The timing of the publication of the doctored photo is also significant: it comes at a time when Egyptians are starting to ask questions about the future of their country in the wake of reports about their dictator's deteriorating health.

For the media in the Arab and Muslim world, reality can sometimes be painful and unacceptable.

Khaled Abu Toameh

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

Islamists Force Spanish Nightclub to Change its Name

by Soeren Kern

La Meca, a popular discotheque in southern Spain, has agreed to change its name and architectural design after Islamic extremists threatened to initiate "a great war between Spain and the people of Islam" if it did not. The nightclub controversy (which has parallels to the Danish cartoon imbroglio of 2005) has spread across the Muslim world in recent weeks and has risked escalating into an international crisis. The controversy not only signals the increasing assertiveness of Spain's rapidly growing Muslim community; it also demonstrates that Spain remains firmly in the sights of Salafist Jihadists, who view the country as a Muslim state that must be reconquered for Islam.

La Meca, which shares its name with Mecca, the Muslim holy site in Saudi Arabia (as well as Mecca Bingo in Britain, Mecca Cola in France, the Mecca Sports Arena in Milwaukee, the Mecca Shopping Mall in Jordan, and Mecca, a small town in California) was the most popular discotheque in the southern Spanish resort town of Águilas (Murcia) in the 1980s and 1990s. After being closed for more than a decade, the club reopened in August 2010 under new management, but using the original name, La Meca. The mega-nightclub, which has been visited by more than 100,000 patrons since its reopening, features a large turquoise-colored mosque-style dome, a minaret-like tower, as well as traditional Arabic architecture common in southern Spain. But many Muslims now complain that the nightclub is offensive and insulting to their religion.

The current row began in August, when a Senegalese immigrant rejected a job offer at La Meca because the club's name, he said, offended his religion. Soon thereafter, a group of Muslim radicals posted a video on the Internet calling for a boycott of Spanish goods, and jihad against those who "blaspheme the name of Allah."

Then, in early September, after Moroccan hackers broke into the club's webpage and posted a video threatening "a great war between Spain and the people of Islam" if the name were not changed, Spain's intelligence agency, the Centro Nacional de Inteligencia (CNI), warned La Meca's owners that the discotheque was being directly targeted by Islamic extremists.

Within days, the controversy spread like wildfire across the Middle East and North Africa. In Iran, Radio Islam described the club's name as "offensive." In Dubai, the Arabic news channel Al Arabiya said the club "insulted Spanish Muslims." In Morocco, Muslim religious scholars (ulemas) denounced the municipal government of Águilas for "promoting" and "authorizing the use of the name Mecca for a discotheque."

On Youtube, someone, called "IslamSalamSalam," posted a video (now removed) titled "Boycot Spain for 'Discoteca La Meca'." On Facebook, a site in French called "Everyone Against 'Discoteca La Meca'" declares that "Islam is the religion of the entire world."

Local Muslim leaders also called for the discotheque's name to be changed. "Muslims pray towards Mecca and it is there that the prophet received the Holy Koran," said Mohamed Ali, of the Spanish Federation of Islamic Entities. "Calling a place for dancing and drinking by that name is grotesque and constitutes a lack of respect for Muslims," he said. "A discotheque is for worldly pleasures and what takes place inside it, like drinking alcohol, is not in line with the principles of Islam," said Antonio García Petite, founder of the Committee of Muslim Arbitration and Good Works. Meanwhile, the local Islamic Federation of the Region of Murcia consulted lawyers who planned to sue the club for insulting the honor of their religion.

On September 16, the nightclub owners held a press conference during which --- under the close supervision of local Muslim leaders -- they announced that the venue's name would be changed to La Isla (the island) "to avoid further problems and to ensure that patrons keep coming." They also confirmed plans to modify controversial features of the club's architecture, namely a minaret-like tower that will be converted into a lighthouse-like tower, at a cost of some 100,000 euros.

"We thought the name was just a minor detail, but for the Muslims it was a really big deal," said Pedro Morata, one of the club's owners. Another owner, Javier Hernández, said: "We are just businessmen and did not want to offend anyone. We kept the club's original name and decoration from the 1980s and 1990s because it brought us many fine memories." He added that just a few kilometres away, in the town of Mazarrón, there is a discotheque called El Vaticano, and no one has ever complained about that.

The nightclub controversy is just one of a string of recent incidents that reflects the increasing assertiveness of Spain's Muslim community, which now numbers around 1.5 million (compared to only 100,000 in 1990), and exposes the growing uncertainty in Spain over how to deal with Muslim mass immigration.

In November 2009, for example, a Muslim lawyer was ejected from Spain's high court in Madrid, where she was defending a client, because the lawyer refused to remove her headscarf. In December, nine Salafists in Catalonia kidnapped a woman, tried her for adultery based on Sharia law, and condemned her to death. The woman escaped and fled to a local police station just before she was to be executed by the Islamists.

In January 2010, an imam in Tarragona was arrested for forcing a woman to wear a hijab head covering. The local prosecutor had asked the judge to jail the imam and three others for five years for harassment, but the case was eventually dismissed after the Socialist mayor said she wanted to prevent "a social conflict." In April, a 16-year-old schoolgirl was banned from a school in Madrid after refusing to remove her hijab, in violation of the school dress code.

More portentously, in October 2007, Amr Moussa, the Egyptian Secretary-General of the Arab League, asked the Spanish government to allow Muslims to worship in the cathedral of Córdoba. This building was a mosque during the medieval Islamic kingdom of Al-Andalus. Muslims now hope to recreate the ancient city of Córdoba, which was once the heart of Al-Andalus, as a pilgrimage site for Muslims throughout Europe. Funds for the project are being sought from the governments of the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, and Muslim organizations in Morocco and Egypt.

But the nightclub row also shows that Spain is still very much the focus of Al-Qaeda fanatics, who are demanding the right to re-establish Muslim rule in southern Spain. Muslims ruled four-fifths of the Iberian Peninsula for a period of about 800 years, beginning in the year 711. Islamic rule over the region then known as Al-Andalus ended in 1492, when Granada, the last Muslim stronghold, capitulated to the Roman Catholic kings.

There is now a widespread feeling among Muslims that the territories they lost during the Spanish Reconquest still belong to them, and that they have a right to return and establish their rule there. This is based on the Islamic idea that territories once occupied by Muslims must remain under Muslim domination forever.

In March 2004, Islamists inspired by Osama Bin Laden's calls to revive Al-Andalus, blew up four packed commuter trains in Madrid, killing 191 people and injuring 1,500 others. Believing that Spain's Al-Qaeda terrorist problem existed only because of the war in Iraq, the Socialist government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero responded to the Madrid attacks by promptly withdrawing all 1,300 Spanish troops from Iraq.

Zapatero also announced an ill-defined initiative called the "Alliance of Civilizations," which borrows heavily from the "Dialogue Among Civilizations" concept promoted by Islamic radicals in Iran during the 1990s; in its essence, the initiative calls on the West to negotiate a truce with Islamic terrorists, on terms set by the latter.

In March 2007, Al-Qaeda responded to Zapatero's goodwill gestures by launching new threats against Spain, this time over its military deployment in Afghanistan. In a video, a hooded man said the presence of Spanish troops in Afghanistan "exposes Spain again to threats" unless it withdraws its troops from the country. "The Spanish people have been tricked by a socialist government which withdrew troops from Iraq and sent 600 to Afghanistan," the man proclaimed.

In January 2008, Spanish intelligence uncovered a plot by eleven South Asian Islamic militants to attack the metro system in Barcelona, Spain's second-largest city. The motive behind the planned attack, which was set to take place just two months before national elections, was to force Zapatero into removing Spanish troops from Afghanistan.

In September 2010, CNI, the Spanish intelligence agency, reported a jihadist "media offensive" unlike any seen since the March 2004 attacks in Madrid. Analysts say the popular jihadist Internet forum Atahadi Islamic Network has been publishing Arabic-language articles about Spain at a rapid clip. Prompted by an August 2010 border crisis between Spain and Morocco that involves Spain's two North African enclaves, Ceuta and Melilla, jihadists are now calling for a "crusade" to recover the two cities.

So far Spain has struggled to confront the challenges posed by radical Islam. In September 2004, for example, Zapatero told TIME Magazine that "sexual equality is a lot more effective against terrorism than military strength." In April 2009, a group of Spanish "intellectuals" called on the Spanish government to apologize to the Muslim world for King Philip III's expulsion of the Moriscos (the descendants of the Muslim population that converted to Christianity under threat of exile in 1502) from Spain in 1609. Earlier, in 2006, a proposal was made to offer Spanish citizenship to the Moorish descendants of the Moriscos, as an "apology and acknowledgement of mistakes" from the Spanish Inquisition. With such an anti-Spanish mindset that lacks a basis in reality, Spaniards should expect to see more La Meca-type controversies in the near future.

Soeren Kern

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Why Abbas Wants to Kill Palestinians Who Do Businesss With Jews

by Khaled Abu Toameh

A Palestinian Authority court in the West Bank has just reaffirmed the death penalty for Palestinians convicted of selling lands to Jews.

The ruling is based on a Palestinian Authority law that prohibits Palestinians from engaging in such land deals.

The timing of the new-old ruling is of particular significance: it coincides with the launch of US-sponsored direct talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. The Palestinian leadership is apparently trying to depict itself as the trusted guardian and defender of Arab lands.

The court ruling also proves that, contrary to claims by some circles in Washington and European capitals, the Palestinian Authority is continuing to send messages that radicalize Palestinians and promote hatred and violence.

If anything, the court verdict is seen by many Palestinians as a green light to kill "traitors" who do business with Jews.

The Palestinian law also also calls for imposing the death sentence on any Palestinian found guilty of "collaboration" with Israel.

Only a few of the victims, after they had been put on trial, were executed by Palestinian authorities.

Most were abducted and liquidated, often brutally, in extra-judicial killings carried out by Palestinian security officers, armed gangs and Fatah and Hamas militiamen.

When it signed the Oslo "peace" Accords, the PLO promised not to pursue suspected "collaborators" and "land dealers." Of course, the Palestinian leadership did not keep its promise.

Shortly after Palestinian security forces were deployed in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, many suspected informants and people accused of selling lands to Jews were killed or thrown into jail.

Those who had large clans and a lot of money were lucky. They used their family connections and wealth to influence Palestinian security and civilian officials to let them go.

A famous Arab land dealer from Jerusalem revealed last week that he had paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to senior Palestinian officials to avoid being arrested or murdered. He further disclosed that senior officials in the Palestinian Authority had also been involved in land sales to Jews.

The Palestinian Authority leaders in Ramallah need to watch their words and actions very carefully lest they fall victim to their own incitement.

Mahmoud Abbas has already been accused by many Palestinians and Arabs of "selling out" to the Jews because of his willingness to recognize Israel's right to exist on any part of Palestinians.

Moreover, Abbas has been accused of "collaboration" with Israel and the US because of his readiness to talk about peace, and about ties with the IDF and CIA.

This means that Abbas, or anyone who follows in his footsteps, could one day be convicted in a Palestinian court under the same laws they created.

Khaled Abu Toameh

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Bibi Puts the Spotlight on Abbas

by Jennifer Rubin

Michael Oren isn’t the only Israeli official giving stirring speeches. Bibi, in a speech to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, made clear that Israel has plenty of reasons to walk from the peace talks but has shown restraint:

Believe me, every day the Palestinians do things I don’t like: whether it’s incitement in the schools or media, or an international campaign that they back to delegitimize Israel.

Just yesterday, a Palestinian Authority court ruled that the sale of Palestinian land to Israelis is punishable by death. You know, all these things do not square well with me, and my colleagues often question why is it that we’re staying in the talks. Some have even questioned why I’m having peace talks with President Abbas when half of the Palestinian people are controlled by Hamas, which is a terror organization that openly calls for our destruction. I’m mentioning all of these things – and there are many others that I could raise here – because these could afford me many reasons to walk away from the table. But I haven’t walked away from the table. I want to give these talks a chance to succeed. And I very much hope that President Abbas will have the same attitude. I expect him to sit down with me even when we disagree, and to work with me through those disagreements in a sincere effort to forge an historic compromise, which I believe is possible.

We got rid of the preconditions before the talks. We can’t reintroduce them five minutes after the talks begin.

Israel gets little if any credit for this, and the chattering class doesn’t demand that Abbas extend (or even come up with, for there has never been one) a moratorium on killing Jews or teaching anti-Semitism to Palestinian children.

But Bibi has a larger point to make, which, despite his complimentary words for the president and secretary of state (on whom the words are lost), gets to the heart of the matter and the pointlessness of peace talks:

It’s time for the Palestinians to do something they have refused to do for 62 years. It’s time for them to say yes to a Jewish state. Now what does it mean to recognize the Jewish state, or the nation-state of the Jewish people? It means that the Palestinians recognize the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in our historic homeland. I recognized the Palestinians’ right to self-determination and sovereignty. They must finally recognize the Jewish people’s right to self determination and sovereignty. … It’s important because the Palestinian leadership must begin to make clear to its own people that they are making a permanent peace with the Jewish people, a people that has a right to be here, a right to live in its own state and in its own homeland.

Which is why Abbas will never do it. So what is the point, then? The Obami shouldn’t lose face, our sympathetic ally has determined. Unlike the Obama administration, the Netanyahu government sees no benefit in embarrassing its ally, nor in emphasizing the gaps in perception between the U.S. and Israel. There is another reason for Bibi to put the spotlight on Abbas’s refusal to recognize the Jewish state as the Jewish state. In case the Obami were contemplating an imposed peace deal, Bibi has raised a red flag: what’s the point if Abbas won’t give up finally and completely the fight for a one-state solution?

Jennifer Rubin

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

The Specter of Palestine

by David Hornik

Last week another chapter of Israeli-Palestinian “peace talks” began. It hasn’t gone very far yet, and it still could all break down. But for those who see a sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza as an intolerable security threat to Israel, it’s enough to induce unease.

Imagine cutting two chunks out of New Jersey, adding up to almost one-fourth of its land mass, and setting up a deeply hostile statelet in them with a population nurtured in hatred for generations. Rocket firings, sniper fire, and terror incursions are some of the problems that spring to mind. Not to mention—particularly since this “New Jersey” is in the Middle East—alliances with enemy countries, which could include inviting such countries’ armies into its territory. Collusions involving sabotage or even WMD attacks are not at all far-fetched.

True, there has always been talk of the Palestinian state being “demilitarized.” But with current, purportedly moderate Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas having said [1] he wouldn’t tolerate the presence of a single Jew—civilian or soldier—in his state, that would leave only (presumably Jew-free) international forces to monitor the supposed demilitarization.

Israel, however, has had a long and negative history [2] with international “peacekeepers.” The latest egregious example is the complete failure [3] of the enlarged UNIFIL force in southern Lebanon to prevent Hezbollah from rearming itself with tens of thousands of missiles since the 2006 war.

This time, however, it’s not shallow, malleable leaders like former prime minister Ehud Olmert or former foreign minister Tzipi Livni who are engaging in the Palestinian-state talk, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with his far greater intellectual depth. One astute Israeli commentator, Israel Harel, claims [4] Netanyahu has undergone the “conversion” and really believes in what he’s saying. It still seems more likely that Netanyahu is playing a carefully calibrated game aimed at managing the ongoing pressure from Washington. Even if so, his words further legitimize the notion of such a state and sow discomfort.

In other words, the specter of the Palestinian state may still be far off, but it’s hauntingly there at the fringes now. And in such a situation, one can only be profoundly grateful that about 300,000 Israelis now live in “settlements”—towns, villages, communities—in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). Their presence simply makes it more difficult, perhaps even impossible, for the Palestinian state to arise. They are a natural bulwark against such a development.

In the 2005 disengagement Israel removed about 10,000 settlers from Gaza and northern Samaria. The Israeli government promised at the time that their lives would be rebuilt elsewhere in Israel, their enterprises quickly restored. As the whole country now acknowledges, this resettlement endeavor has failed miserably and many of these people have been reduced to ongoing distress.

Even if Israel were to retain the larger settlement blocs close to the 1967 borders, the number of settlers who would have to be evacuated from the West Bank—making room for the Jew-free Palestinian state—would be in the neighborhood of 100,000 or higher. Israel with its notoriously slow, difficult bureaucracy has failed at resettling 10,000 people. If one wonders how it would succeed at resettling 100,000, it is indeed a good question.

In addition to the staggering economic costs entailed, many of the settlers to be removed would belong to the more ideological element for whom living in the biblical heartland is a religious or historical calling, and would fight hard against their expulsion. In other words, a horrendous trauma of civil conflict, including violent conflict, for the people of Israel. Even some of the less ideological among the intended evacuees would likely assess that, given the experience of the Gaza settlers before them, their chances of seeing their lives rebuilt would be poor, and could well join the resisters out of sheer self-preservation.

The Palestinians now living in the semi-sovereign or highly autonomous entities of (respectively) Gaza and the West Bank number about three million (less or more depending on conflicting estimates) compared to over 300 million Arabs enjoying full sovereignty in 22 Arab states. The notion that the Gaza and West Bank Arabs’ lack of full sovereignty is an urgent international problem is not rooted in rationality but, rather, in Arab power and Western cravenness before it.

This is all the more so considering two facts. First, with all of the sovereign Arab states being dictatorships (or, at best, fragile, struggling democracies) that in any case grant only limited rights, there is no reason to expect that the Palestinian state would be different—particularly given the track record of Hamas-run Gaza and the Palestinian Authority so far. Second, a state that is Palestinian in many regards—Jordan—already exists.

With Israel’s ten-month settlement freeze due to expire on September 26 and Netanyahu having avowed several times that building in the settlements will resume at that time, it is to be hoped that it will resume at a good pace. The more Jews live in Judea and Samaria, the lower the chances of an unnecessary and dangerous Palestinian state taking shape, and the greater the chances of a true compromise someday where all groups’ rights and attachments are respected.

P. David Hornik

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Terra incognita: Coexistence partners with ourselves?

by Seth J. Frantzman

Where are the billboards in Ramallah and Nablusshowing Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak asking the Palestinians to be Israel’s partners?

The shocking, but comical, news that the Palestinian Authority’s two most powerful politicians had withdrawn their support for a US-funded coexistence campaign encouraging average Israelis to be “partners” in peace is part of the larger failure of misguided coexistence projects.

The latest story goes something like this.

As a background to the peace talks now under way, USAID, a US government humanitarian and economic assistance organization, supported a Geneva Initiative ad campaign aimed at encouraging Israelis to support peace. The campaign created 30-second video clips of Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat asking Israelis, “Are you my partner” and purchased 280 billboards across the country. The billboards are modeled on Facebook and show a photo of leading Palestinians asking people to accept their “partner request.”

On September 7 it was announced that Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad had asked not to be associated with the peace partner campaign because it was “too Israeli.”

Fayyad complained that the Geneva Initiative had not gotten his consent to be used in the campaign and according to reporter Avi Issacharoff, “Fayyad also reportedly noted that it wasn’t clear to him why the campaign did not also feature Israeli figures addressing the Palestinian public.”

This is a question others have raised.

Where are the billboards in Ramallah and Nablus showing Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak asking the Palestinians to be Israel’s partners? But the history of the partner initiative, which should never have been funded by the US government in the first place, is only part of the larger coexistence picture.

MANY COEXISTENCE groups seek to foster only a one-sided kind of coexistence. A list compiled by the website proves the point. At the top is the Abraham Fund. The six “initiatives” displayed on its home page include the teaching of Arabic in Jewish schools, efforts to fight for equal opportunities for Arab citizens and “promoting the employment and integration of Arab women in the workforce.”

A fourth initiative seeks to work on relations between police and the Arab community.

The fourth initiative seems to be slightly in line with coexistence, but it seems to place all the burden on the police, encouraging them to learn “Arabic culture” for instance. The program doesn’t seem to include any discussion with the Arab community’s youth, encouraging them to cooperate with the police rather than, for instance, throwing rocks at them.

The Negev Coexistence Forum is the most egregious example of one-sided nationalism masquerading as coexistence.

Founded in 1997, it offers tours of Beduin communities and lobbies internationally on behalf of the Beduin by sending delegations to places like the UN to get them recognized as an “indigenous” people. It also claims to work in illegal Beduin villages in the Negev, renovating kindergartens, constructing roads and working on water supply initiatives. They also provide legal aid.

How is any of this “coexistence” work? There is no work on behalf of, say, impoverished Jewish communities; all the work is only for one group and it is work designed to reward that group for illegal behavior and encourage greater nationalism among it. All that is fine, but why call it “coexistence”; why not call themselves the Negev Beduin Forum? Almost all coexistence efforts in Israel and the Palestinian territories break down on a fundamental level. There is a recognition that the types of activities coexistence groups want to do are simply not acceptable in the other community, so what ends up happening is that only Jewish Israelis are exposed to coexistence initiatives, while the other side remains blithely in the dark. In some cases the coexistence work seems to achieve the opposite, by caving to pressures by one group, the coexistence group actually becomes a mouthpiece for nationalism and irredentism, fostering radical Beduin or Israeli-Arab causes, such as Nakba education or lobbying at the UN on their behalf.

There have been several initiatives that appear to have gone in a more honest direction. A Geneva Initiative-sponsored women’s circle of Shas-affiliated women and leading Palestinian women is one example, as is the program Seeds of Peace that brought together Israelis and Palestinians and sent them to summer camps abroad.

But on a fundamental level the expensive “partner” billboard program is a fiasco, and just the kind of thing that does nothing to advance peace. At the entrance to Ramallah the most visible sign is a mural of Marwan Barghouti, currently serving five life sentences for murder, and Yasser Arafat. No one will put up a sign of Israel’s prime minister seeking peace next to that mural, and that fact symbolizes that, while peace may come, coexistence certainly will not.

Seth J. Frantzman is a PhD researcher at Hebrew University and a fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies.

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Why We Don’t Have Peace

by Jennifer Rubin

Here’s how it works in the Middle East. An Israeli security guard travels through a section of the nation’s capital (no, dear liberals, East Jerusalem is not a “settlement”). Palestinians set upon him, throwing stones and Molotov cocktails. Afraid for his life, the guard shoots in self defense, killing one assailant. (”The guard, fearing for his life, allegedly opened fire with his personal firearm at a group of rock throwers and killed a resident. Police found two knives and screwdriver on the body of the victim, who had a previous criminal history and was known to police.”) The Palestinians commence a riot, injuring innocent Israelis. The world blames Israel.

Here’s the Palestinian mindset, displaying all its splendid victimology. The residents complain that the assailants should have been “warned” (before of after the Molotov cocktails rained down?) .Everyone gets into the act:

There’s going to be a huge mess in Silwan, something big will happen. They killed a man, what should I do, be quiet? What about his family, his little kids?” asked another neighbor of the victim, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of police reprisal.

“This was a calculated, violent act with political goals,” Dimitri Diliani, the head of Fatah’s Social Development Committee, told the Jerusalem Post as he was standing with mourners outside the family’s house. “We view it as a right-wing Israeli effort to undermine the peace process and to draw Palestinians into violent action so that the right-wing government will be provided with a window of opportunity to escape into national pressure regarding illegal settlement activities.”

Not sure if the “calculated” maneuver he refers to is meant to suggest that Israelis deployed the rock throwers, but then the facts are utterly irrelevant here.

Meanwhile the rioters — calculated and violent, one would say — injured ten (including “a 35-year-old Israeli in moderate condition who was stabbed in the back near the Mount of Olives”) and destroyed vehicles.

This certainly highlights the delusional nature of the peace process. The Israelis can only make peace with those who want it and are prepared to put down the guns, the stones, the knives, the rocks, and the Molotov cocktails to build a civil (in both senses of the word) society. Peace won’t come from any conference room. We’ll have peace, as a commentator elegantly described it, when and if Palestinians “can renounce once and for all the creeping Islamism that would sooner see them suffering the miseries and oppression of twelfth-century religious and cultural practice than thriving in a modern society; if they can cast off at last the self-strangling mythology of their own victimhood; and if they can shed their century-old yearning to set the blood of their Jewish neighbors flowing in the streets.” No sign of that so far.

Jennifer Rubin

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BC wilfully violates own charter in blatant display of bias over UN report slating Israel

by Robin Shepherd

In one of the most disgraceful displays of wilful bias that you will ever have the misfortune to witness, the BBC today covers a UN Human Rights Council report which castigates Israel over the Mavi Marmara flotilla incident in the Mediterranean Sea earlier this year.

The incident left nine pro-terror activists dead after they attacked Israeli soldiers in a bid for martyrdom. Gleefully, the BBC quotes the report as accusing Israel in the following terms:

“There is clear evidence to support prosecutions of the following crimes within the terms of article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention: wilful killing; torture or inhuman treatment; wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health”.

As good propagandists the reporters and editors are careful to relate Israel’s rejection of the report. But since any country accused of such crimes would instantly issue a rebuttal, the effect on the reader can safely be assumed to be minimal. What the BBC does is to censor out any of the relevant details, both about the incident itself and about the UN rights council. Here is a list of what they (quite deliberately) do not tell the reader:

1. The UN Human Rights Council is dominated by dictatorships, many with appalling human rights records. For example, members include China, Cuba and Saudi Arabia. This is crucial information since it goes to the credibility of anything that the Council does or says. Any trained journalist would know that such information must be included in any fair report. To omit it must, therefore, be a matter of deliberate choice. In this case, the BBC must have known that to relate such information would nullify the report’s impact as a device for defaming Israel. And that is why they omitted it.

2. The activists on the Mavi Marmara openly (on camera, and in newspaper interviews) courted martyrdom before even setting sail. This is vital information since it allows the reader to understand the mindset of the people Israel was confronting. It would provide clear evidence contradicting the thrust of the UN report. Again, not to provide such information must be deliberate.

3. According to the testimony of the ship’s captain and his deputy, the activists hijacked the ship several hours before the incident took place. This is more evidence that the activists were looking for confrontation. But to provide such information would contradict the favoured narrative that Israeli soldiers massacred a group of peace activists. Therefore, the BBC does not mention it.

4. There is video evidence (it’s on youtube for goodness sake!) that activists armed with steel bars, clubs, and knives mobbed the Israeli soldiers the moment they landed on the ship in an attempt to maim or kill them. No professional journalist would omit such information. And since anyone with even a cursory knowledge of what happened would be aware of such facts their omission must have been deliberate and part of a clear policy of promoting an anti-Israeli agenda.

There is just no way out of this for the BBC. This isn’t journalism, it’s political propaganda. And since that violates the BBC’s own charter, the journalists and editors should be held to account.

Robin Shepherd

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Al-Qaeda on Capitol Hill: Congressional Muslim Staffers Association Embraces Islamic Radicals and Terrorists

by Patrick S. Poole

When a report challenging our national security policy of ignoring Islamic supremacism through Islamic law, “Shariah: The Threat to America,” was released during a Capitol Hill press conference on Wednesday (disclosure: I was one of the co-authors of the report), among the chief critics were representatives from the Congressional Muslim Staffers Association (CMSA). This group, which has been briefing both Democrat and Republican congressional leadership in recent months that there is nothing inherently violent in Islamic law, has a very poor history of embracing Islamic radicals and even Al-Qaeda terrorists.

Immediately after 9/11, the CMSA [Congressional Muslim Staffers Association] began holding Friday afternoon prayer services on Capitol Hill. Who did they choose to lead them in their prayers? Al-Qaeda sheikh Anwar al-Aulaqi, who is currently subject to a kill or capture order issued by President Obama. In fact, video of Aulaqi preaching to the CMSA was included in the 2002 documentary, “Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet.” That video clip is available to view by the Investigative Project on Terrorism.

Identified in that clip listening to the Al-Qaeda cleric are Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR); then-CAIR Communications specialist Randall “Ismail” Royer, who is currently serving a 20-year federal prison sentence on terrorism charges; and sitting directly beside Royer is CMSA founder and former president Jameel Alim Johnson.

The invitation to an Al-Qaeda cleric who already had been tied to two of the 9/11 hijackers (as reported in the 9/11 Commission Report) to lead CMSA prayers is not the only troubling aspect of Jameel Johnson’s congressional record. In December 2007, I reported on an Islamic conference on Capitol Hill that had been scheduled by Johnson as chief of staff from Congressman Gregory Meeks. The conference was canceled at the last minute by the House of Representatives Sergeant-at-Arms when it was discovered that the conference scheduled by Johnson was to feature a long list of Islamic radicals, some of whom were known to be on the terror watch list.

So when the CMSA leadership squeal to the media about anyone offering an alternative view to our failed foreign and domestic policy of submitting to Islamic radicalism, we only need look at the record of CMSA as an organization, and its leadership as individuals, giving radicals and terrorists, such as Anwar Al-Aulaqi, their voice on Capitol Hill.

But the infiltration of our highest government institutions is not limited to the CMSA. In 1991, the first Muslim cleric to deliver opening prayers for Congress was Siraj Wahhaj, who two years later was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing trial, and who also served as a character witness for the defense of terrorist leader Omar Abdel Rahman. Wahhaj has openly called for the destruction of American democracy to be replaced by an Islamic state governed by shariah.

Another regular fixture on Capitol Hill for more than a decade was Abdurahman Alamoudi, friend to Democrats and Republicans alike, and arguably the most prominent Islamic leader in America. As president of the American Muslim Council, he advised US presidents and was courted by a number of presidential candidates, established the Muslim chaplain program for the Department of Defense, worked with Republican activist Grover Norquist to establish the Islamic Institute lobbying organization, and served on the advisory board for CAIR.

Today, Abdurahman Alamoudi is no longer roaming the halls of Congress or having lunch at the White House. He was arrested in 2003 and is currently serving a 23-year prison sentence for his role in a plot to assassinate Saudi King Abdullah at the request of Libyan intelligence. In July 2005, the US Treasury Department publicly admitted that Alamoudi, while he was the most influential Islamic leader in Washington D.C., was also the top Al-Qaeda fundraiser in the US. Treasury officials stated that Alamoudi’s arrest was “a severe blow to Al-Qaeda”.

This is precisely the kind of infiltration and willful blindness to the threat to America posed by Muslim Brotherhood front organizations we cited in our report issued this week. Continuing to ignore this threat, as urged by the Congressional Muslim Staffers Association and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, will only lead us further into submission to the advocates of a global Islamic state and the imposition of shariah.

Patrick S. Poole

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"Rushdie Rules" Reach Florida

by Daniel Pipes

Pastor Terry Jones' plan to burn copies of the Koran at his church in Gainesville, Florida, let it be emphasized, is a distasteful act that fits an ugly tradition. That said, two other points need be noted: Buying books and then burning them is an entirely legal act in the United States. Second, David Petraeus, Robert Gates, Eric Holder, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama pressured Jones to cancel only because they feared Muslim violence against Americans if he proceeded. Indeed, despite Mr. Jones calling off the Koran burning, 5 Afghans and 14 Kashmiris died in protests against his plans.

Palestinians desecrated the Tomb of Joseph in October 2000.
That violence stems from Islamic law, the Shariah, which insists that Islam, and the Koran in particular, enjoy a privileged status. Islam ferociously punishes anyone, Muslim or non-Muslim, who trespasses against Islam's sanctity. Codes in Muslim-majority states generally reflect this privilege; for example, Pakistan's blasphemy law, 295-C, punishes derogatory remarks about Muhammad with execution.

No less important, Shariah denigrates the sanctities of other religions, a tradition manifested in recent years by the destruction of the Buddhist Bamiyan statues and the desecration of the Jewish Tomb of Joseph and the Christian Church of the Nativity. A 2003 decree ruled the Bible suitable for use by Muslims when cleaning after defecation. Iranian authorities reportedly burned hundreds of Bibles in May. This imbalance, whereby Islam enjoys immunity and other religions are disparaged, has long prevailed in Muslim-majority countries.

Then, in 1989, Ayatollah Khomeini abruptly extended this double standard to the West when he decreed that British novelist Salman Rushdie be executed on account of the blasphemies in his book, The Satanic Verses. With this, Khomeini established the Rushdie Rules, which still remain in place. They hold that whoever opposes "Islam, the Prophet, and the Koran" may be put to death; that anyone connected to the blasphemer must also be executed; and that all Muslims should participate in an informal intelligence network to carry out this threat.

Self-evidently, these rules contradict a fundamental premise of Western life, freedom of speech. As summed up by the dictum, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it," that freedom assures protection for the right to make mistakes, to insult, to be disagreeable, and to blaspheme.

If the Rushdie Rules initially shocked the West, they since have become the new norm. When Islam is the subject, freedom of speech is but a pre-1989 memory. Writers, artists, and editors readily acknowledge that criticizing Islam can endanger their lives.

British Muslims burned "The Satanic Verses" in January 1989.
Western leaders occasionally stand with those who insult Islam. British prime minister Margaret Thatcher resisted pressure from Tehran in 1989 and stated that "there are no grounds on which the government could consider banning" The Satanic Verses. Other governments reinforced this stalwart position; for example, the U.S. Senate unanimously resolved "to protect the right of any person to write, publish, sell, buy and read books without fear of violence."

Likewise, Danish prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen stood strong in 2006 when disrespectful cartoons of Muhammad in a Copenhagen newspaper led to storms of protest: "This is a matter of principle," he stated. "As prime minister, I have no power whatsoever to limit the press – nor do I want such a power."

Both those incidents led to costly boycotts and violence, yet principle trumped expedience. Other Western leaders have faltered in defense of free expression. The governments of Australia, Austria, Canada, Finland, France, Great Britain, Israel, and the Netherlands have all attempted to or succeeded in jailing Rushdie-Rule offenders.

The Obama administration has now joined this ignominious list. Its pressure on Mr. Jones further eroded freedom of speech about Islam and implicitly established Islam's privileged status in the United States, whereby Muslims may insult others but not be insulted. This moved the country toward dhimmitude, a condition whereby non-Muslims acknowledge the superiority of Islam. Finally, Mr. Obama in effect enforced Islamic law, a precedent that could lead to other forms of compulsory Shariah compliance.

Mr. Obama should have followed Mr. Rasmussen's lead and asserted the principle of free speech. His failure to do so means Americans must recognize and resist further U.S. governmental application of the Rushdie Rules or other aspects of Shariah.

Mr. Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. His article, "Two Decades of the Rushdie Rules" will appear in the October issue of Commentary magazine.

Daniel Pipes

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Say no to Hamas takeover

by Martin Sherman

Guy Bechor is a well-informed analyst of Middle East affairs. As a journalist his articles normally reflect a far more down-to-earth comprehension of regional realities than many of his mainstream media colleagues. This is perhaps what makes his recent column Is Hamas takeover so bad? - in which he advocates letting the "West Bank" fall to the Hamas - so disturbing.

Uncharacteristic of Bechor's usually sober assessments, it is a piece that is marred by unrealistic optimism, astonishing short-sightedness and highly-constricted tunnel-vision.

Bechor is of course correct in noting that "Israel would never be able to live with the Palestinian Authority’s demands" and that today the "Palestinian Authority…is perceived as the 'good guys'…(while) Hamas is considered a terrorist and part of the 'bad guys'.”

However, virtually all subsequent inferences he makes and conclusions he draws from this observation are wildly off-track.

Thus, when Bechor claims that if the Hamas took over Judea and Samaria "The international pressure exerted on Israel would be eased and even disappear, as nobody wishes to grant a state to terrorists,” one can only wonder whether he has succumbed to terminal amnesia or has merely neglected to follow the news.

Indeed, in the case of the Palestinians, the pejorative designation of "terrorist" is alarmingly transitory. After all, the entire Oslo process was launched with "terrorists." The PLO was formally designated as a terror organization until the early ‘90s, and only permitted to open a Mission Office in Washington in 1994 after the signature of Declaration of Principles on the White House Lawn - despite the fact that it had merely outsourced its murderous activities to its violent affiliates.

This clearly indicates that widespread international reticence in dealing with "terrorists" is not something that can be taken for granted - certainly not for any length of time. Indeed, the PLO was "sanitized" largely due to efforts by prominent Israelis. Bechor would do well to keep this in mind, for familiar-sounding voices are being raised today by a growing chorus of influential figures in the US, in the EU…and in Israel, calling for "engagement" with the Hamas.

The trouble with Gaza

Moreover, given the severe worldwide censure that Israel has been subjected to over its policy toward Hamas-governed Gaza, one can only wonder on what Bechor bases his astonishing claim that if Hamas was to govern Judea and Samaria "international pressure exerted on Israel would be eased and even disappear."

No less astounding is Bechor's rhetorical question:" What’s so bad about the new situation created in the Gaza Strip...?"Well, setting aside the "small detail" of the lasting damage to the moral fiber of the nation and the grotesque degradation of the Zionist ethos involved in the senseless and futile uprooting any vestige of Jewish presence, how about this for starters: Thousands of rockets and mortar shells that have rained down on civilian population centers for years!?

Indeed only poor aim on the part of the Palestinians and the sparse target-density in the arid expanses bordering the Gaza Strip have prevented these bombardments from being catastrophic.

Bechor's facile formula for dealing with this future possibility is: "If they fire at us from there, we fire back at them." Well, last time we "fired back at them" - after eight years of them firing at us - in Operation Cast Lead, the result was the Goldstone Report and enormous damage to Israel's international standing, making future retaliation far more problematic and international punitive measures more likely. Can all of this have escaped Bechor's attention?

But even if Israel decided to shrug off international condemnation and risk global censure and sanction, there are huge differences - in terms of geographical extent, topographical structure and strategic significance - between the ramifications of a Hamas takeover of Judea and Samaria, and those of a Hamas-ruled Gaza:

• The length of Israel's frontier with the Gaza Strip is a little over 50 kilometers; that of the "West Bank is about 300 kilometers long (and longer if it is to include the large settlement blocs as Bechor envisages.)

• The Gaza border abuts a relatively remote and sparsely-populated portion of the country. The "West Bank" frontier would run barely a mile from the national parliament, along the very fringes of Israel's most populous areas in the coastal metropolis, adjacent to the perimeter of Ben Gurion Airport and to large sections of the Trans-Israel highway.

• While the Gaza strip is generally low-lying flatlands and contains no water resources that impact on Israeli supply, the "West Bank" is an elevated mountain ridge that commands much of Israel's vital infrastructures (both civilian and military), crucial water resources, major urban population centers and commercial hubs.

Radical Islamic state

Hamas would not have to rain down hundreds of rockets on Israel to paralyze the nation's social and economic routine. A few sporadic firings every now and then would be sufficient for that. In fact, the mere threat of bombardment (even if inaccurate) would bring about a disastrous disruption of air traffic to Israel and catastrophic cessation of tourism.

However, this would hardly constitute an internationally credible "smoking gun" to justify massive Israel retaliation along a front several hundred kilometers long in difficult terrain - especially if the Hamas regime could claim plausible deniability by placing the blame on radical renegades.

According to Bechor, ensconcing the Hamas in will ensure "there is a master of the house there that can be presented with demands." Well, we saw how splendidly that worked in Gaza - especially with Gilad Shalit.

But perhaps the most worrying aspect of Bechor's analysis is the illusion that his suggested scenario would somehow exempt Israel from the burden of securing the nation. He proposes that "Israel would…allow free passage between the Hamas principality and Jordan. This would provide the Islamic principality with an outlet to the world, via Jordan, which would have to assume the burden just as Egypt did in Gaza."

So Bechor finds the situation in Gaza - which has been flooded by weapons since the disengagement - a model to emulate? It should be remembered that unlike Egypt, Jordan has a Palestinian majority. Thus, being perceived as the "Zionist's warder" of a "Palestinian prison" may destabilize the current regime, either forcing it into far-reaching concessions to the Islamist elements or even surrendering power completely. So rather than an isolated "principality," what we may get is a radical Islamist state stretching from the Iraqi border in the east to suburban Israel in the west.

Martin Sherman

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US finishes review, but holds on LAF funds remain

by Matt Nash

Members of the Lebanese army hold a military exercise in South Lebanon after a deadly clash with the IDF. The US Congress has put on hold $100 million in funding for the LAF. (AFP photo/Joseph Eid)

The Obama administration completed an inter-agency review of funding for the Lebanese Armed Forces launched last month after several members of Congress expressed fear of collusion between the LAF and Hezbollah, Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Philip J. Crowley announced Thursday during a press briefing in Washington.

Crowley, who has consistently defended US funding for the LAF since a deadly border clash between Lebanon’s army and the Israel Defense Forces on August 3, would not reveal details of the review’s findings, but said, “We are in the process of consultations with members of Congress regarding our findings. We’ll have more to say with that when the consultations are done.”

Two holds on $100 million in funding for the LAF approved in the 2010 US budget, however, are still in place. Matt Denis, a spokesman for Representative Nita Lowy – who heads a subcommittee on the House Committee on Appropriations and who placed one of the holds – told the Associated Press Thursday that Lowy “appreciates the administration’s efforts to keep appraised of findings, and the conversations will continue about the path forward, [however] no resolution on this matter was reached. Her hold remains in place.”

Also Thursday, the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Rai reported that Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Howard Berman lifted his hold, placed the day before the August firefight. There is no news of lifting the hold on either Berman’s or the committee’s websites, and a source on Capitol Hill familiar with the issue, who spoke anonymously because he is not authorized to talk to the press, told NOW Lebanon via email that the Al-Rai report is “not true.”

The US ramped up long-dormant funding for the LAF in the wake of the 2005 Syrian withdrawal and the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel, “to bolster the government of Lebanon’s ability to exert control over its territory and reduce the operational space of militias such as Hezbollah,” the Pentagon argued in 2006.

Since the holds were placed, Lebanese lobbying groups in Washington and Lebanese politicians have been trying to convince Congress to continue funding the LAF.

“We have personally communicated with senior staff on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,” George Cody, executive director of the American Task Force for Lebanon’s Legislative Council (ATFL), told NOW Lebanon in an e-mail sent Thursday. “We have been in communication with senior policy makers at the US Department of State, Department of Defense, and the National Security Council to support their effort and to work with them.”

The ATFL also joined with seven other Lebanese lobby groups and issued a joint statement to Congress asking for the continuation of funding.

Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Defense Minister Elias al-Murr travelled to DC in early September to make their case for the money.

“Prime Minister Hariri stressed that the cost of funding the LAF is much lower than the cost of not funding it, especially for the US,” Okab Sakr, a Lebanon First bloc MP who is close to Hariri, told NOW Lebanon. Hariri argued that the LAF fights terrorist groups – such as Fatah al-Islam – and with a weak national army those groups could threaten US interests both in Lebanon and abroad, Sakr said.

“The US was assured that the army takes orders from the Lebanese political authorities only and that it is not penetrated [by Hezbollah]. When facing Israel, it is facing Israel’s aggressions, and when firing to defend itself, it is firing upon orders given by army officials whose loyalty lies with the state,” he said.

Immediately after the border clash, Israeli officials called for the US to stop funding the LAF because the relationship between Hezbollah and the army has become “cloudy,” as Israel’s Ambassador to the US Michael Oren put it.

The day after the border incident, a Lebanese lobbyist in Washington who spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to talk to the press, told NOW Lebanon that his group was contacted by “the highest levels at the State Department,” who wanted funding to continue.

“They said, ‘We need you to be working on this. We need all the support we can get on [Capitol] Hill. AIPAC and others are out to extract a pound of flesh for what happened on that border,’ ” the lobbyist said, referring to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a powerful lobbying group.

While both Cody and the anonymous lobbyist said they are hopeful the holds will be removed by September 30, political considerations in the US could complicate the issue. Both Berman and Lowy are Democrats, and the party faces tough electoral battles in early November.

Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen – the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who would take Berman’s job as chairperson if her party takes control of the House, as is currently expected – said in a press release Thursday that she is “deeply concerned that US assistance to the LAF may be finding its way into the hands of violent militants, including Hezbollah.”

Ros-Lehtinen issued her statement after a meeting with Israel’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Daniel Ayalon. Other Republicans in the House, such as Republican Whip Eric Cantor, have also criticized the aid. If the administration’s review findings convince Democrats that the $100 million should be released, but fail to assure Republicans who have generally fought the administration at every turn since Obama came to power, lifting the holds before the election could open Democrats up to criticism they would likely rather avoid before the electoral showdown.

Matt Nash

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