Saturday, September 25, 2010

Peace — But Not Now Why Palestinian-Israeli talks cannot make real progress any time soon.

by Clifford D. May

At an off-the-record gathering of foreign-policy mandarins and opinion-mongers recently, the former head of an allied nation said he was advising President Obama to push as hard as possible for a speedy settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Most of those attending the conference nodded in agreement. I bit my tongue, waited for a break, and then buttonholed the statesman near the coffee and tea dispensers. Might I ask a question? He graciously said I might.

Sir, if you were Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, would you make peace with the Israelis? You understand that peace would be of enormous benefit to your people and to Israelis alike. On the other hand, you know that while you wield power in the West Bank, Hamas rules Gaza. And Hamas refuses — as a matter of both theology and policy — to accept the existence of a Middle Eastern nation led by non-Muslims.

What’s more, Hamas is financed and instructed by an Iranian regime that also wants the Jewish state wiped off the map. Tehran plans to soon have nuclear weapons to utilize in pursuit of that goal.

Don’t you think that if you were to sign a peace treaty with Israel, as Egyptian president Anwar Sadat did in 1979, you would end up as Sadat did in 1981 — assassinated by self-proclaimed jihadis?

(Historical footnote: The fatwa approving Sadat’s assassination was granted by Omar Abdel-Rahman, an Egyptian cleric who would later move to the U.S., where he preached in mosques calling for “jihad against the infidel.” His career ended in 1996, when federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy sent Abdel-Rahman — a.k.a. the “Blind Sheik” — to prison for life for his role in the first World Trade Center bombing.)

The statesman conceded that for Abbas to end the conflict with Israel at this moment would require courage. That means he’ll need strong support from those of us committed to peace. I asked: How would we demonstrate that support? Would your country supply bodyguards to Abbas? Should Abbas accept a Praetorian guard composed of foreigners? That would be awkward, he allowed. But we can find solutions to such problems.

I imposed upon him further: What concessions do you think Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu should make — knowing that a peace treaty may lead to the overthrow of Abbas and to a new replacement who will not see himself as bound by any promises made by Abbas?

Israel’s withdrawals from southern Lebanon and Gaza did not further the cause of peace. Instead, both territories became terrorist bases from which missiles have been lobbed into Israeli towns. What would prevent the same from occurring on the West Bank, which is adjacent to Israel’s major population centers?

He said international peacekeeping forces would be needed. I noted that international peacekeeping forces were deployed in southern Lebanon at the conclusion of the war launched from there by Hezbollah in 2006. Nevertheless, Hezbollah has imported thousands of missiles that are, right now, pointed at Israel. Has it not become apparent that international forces cannot be relied upon to defend Israelis? Indeed, is it not obvious that the U.N. — now routinely manipulated by Iran and other members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) — has become, de facto, an ally of Israel’s enemies?

With this as context, is advising President Obama to push as hard as possible for a quick settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict the wisest course? Does it not seem likely that this effort will lead, paradoxically, to more bloodshed? He suggested that the problem is complex — too complex to sort out during a break in a conference. He then politely excused himself.

His perspective, however, remains conventional wisdom — all the more so since face-to-face Palestinian-Israeli negotiations were resumed early this month after a hiatus of a year and a half. What I fear he and others are failing to recognize is that Israel is at war with Palestinians, Arabs, and much of the “Muslim world” not because of what it does but because of what it is: the last, tiny patch of land between Morocco and Pakistan not under some form of Islamic rule.

If negotiations cannot be the path to peace at this point in time, what can be? The defeat, on multiple fronts, of what President Obama prefers to call “violent extremists.” Should Iran’s nuclear ambitions be frustrated, should al-Qaeda be further weakened, should Hamas lose power in Gaza, and Hezbollah not manage to bully its way to power in Lebanon, a meaningful “peace process” could finally begin. Reduce the pressure being exerted by the jihadis, and Palestinians and Israelis might find a way to live as neighbors.

The notion that there can be a separate peace for Israelis and Palestinians is appealing, as is the theory that such a peace would drain the energy from the jihadi regimes, movements, and groups waging a civilizational struggle against the West. But the notion is fictional and the theory is wrong. I did my best to convey that to the former head of state. I’m not confident I succeeded.

Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focusing on terrorism and Islamism.

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

The True Jewish State Issue Is Jewish Right To Citizenship

by Dr. Aaron Lerner

Does a Jew from Boston, Buenos Aires or Bombay have the right to step off the plane at Ben Gurion Airport and become an Israeli citizen simply because he is a Jew?

He does today, under the Law of Return.

When an Israeli Arab says Israel should be a "state of all its citizens" rather than a "Jewish state", what he is really saying if that he wants the Law of Return to be repealed.

Sure, some Jews might be allowed in on humanitarian grounds, but unless there were some serious pogroms in Pittsburgh, aliyah from North America would be a thing of the past under the "state of all its citizens" scheme.

The Israeli Arab leadership doesn't conceal this. It has been written up working papers prepared by various Israeli Arab bodies. Many of which, curiously, receive funding from the very same American Jews whose option to become an Israeli citizen they wish to deny.

Again. The dispute over "Jewish state" versus "state of all its citizens" isn't over state symbols, holidays, or even funding for religious institutions.

It's over the Law of Return.

A law that does indeed express the very essence of the Jewish state reborn after generations of exile.

"The Arab Israeli population, after many years, is going to be a challenge demographically to the Jewish State of Israel" predicted Jordan's King Abdullah in an interview with Israel Television Channel 1 last 28 August.

Creating the circumstances that the Law of Return is somehow repealed is part of the strategy to make that challenge possible.

The refusal of the PA leadership to include recognition of Israel as a Jewish state as part of the "package" isn't a matter of rhetoric. I reflects their hope that one day King Abdullah's prediction will come true.

Dr. Aaron Lerner

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

Settlement Freeze: An Unacceptable Veto

by J. E. Dyer

It has always been the case that Israel’s government would have to choose, at some point, to lift the freeze on settlement construction. The reason is simple: Israel can’t give anyone else an effective veto over settlement activities. Protecting settlements in Judea and Samaria is a matter of national security: it prevents the Palestinian Arabs from using the territory to menace Israelis across the Green Line. Past Israeli withdrawals from strategic or disputed territories have produced ever-present menaces along its other boundaries, as demonstrated in Gaza and the Hezbollah fiefdom in southern Lebanon. The West Bank, moreover, is an even more dangerous case from a geographic standpoint, because its mountainous heights look down on Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, the heart of Israel’s national and economic life.

In the absence of an enforceable, good-faith agreement with the Palestinian Authority, Israel can’t let either the PA or the U.S. exercise a de facto veto over its administration of the settlements. The right to such a veto, once established, would be wielded in incremental steps to prejudice Israel’s security and bargaining position. It would amount to much more than a minor concession in the interest of the current talks. Accepting a de facto settlement veto would open the door to a campaign of attrition against the settlements, just as it would validate the Palestinian negotiating principle of winning major and debilitating concessions as a prior condition of talks — and therefore without the Palestinians themselves having to commit to anything.

In light of this reality, the lament of Roger Cohen in the New York Times today is both ironic and poignant. If the talks break down over the settlement issue, says Cohen, “Netanyahu and Abbas know … Obama would look amateurish.” It would be a “terrible mistake,” in his view, for Netanyahu to reject a formal extension of the settlement freeze. He and Abbas both need the United States, which is “an incentive to avoid humiliating Obama.” Obama himself “should fight it until the last minute. His international credibility is on the line.”

But it’s Obama who put himself in this position. He and his foreign-policy team are amateurish; that’s the whole problem. Regardless of whether they agree with Israel’s view of the settlements and their relation to national security, they should have understood and acknowledged it as real. No negotiations can succeed if the concerns of one party are ignored or dismissed. For that party, accepting the breakdown of negotiations is likely to be the lesser of two evils.

Netanyahu must lift the settlement freeze sometime, and the longer he waits, the more of a political disruption it will be. He can’t let it become the status quo by default. He may yet find some way to navigate between two difficult positions, at least for another few weeks. But ultimately, his obligation is to the security of Israel. I believe that will be at least as much of a motive for him as retaining his coalition in the Knesset.

Obama’s credibility, meanwhile, is Obama’s problem. If he wants to see it undamaged, he could not do better than to learn from the present impasse and avoid backing himself into a corner again. Roger Cohen may think it’s a good idea to bolster Obama’s credibility with unilateral security concessions from Israel, but it’s a good bet Bibi doesn’t.

J. E. Dyer

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

The Hollow Peace: Begin-Sadat Swap - Was the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty a Success?

by David Isaac

Netanyahu's Model "I hope to find a courageous partner as Begin found in Sadat," said Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on August 30 to Likud party supporters before heading to Washington for the start of "peace talks". It's not the first time Netanyahu has invoked the Camp David accords. He seems to hold them up as a model, one which he hopes to emulate. But was the Egyptian-Israel peace treaty a success?

That Netanyahu treats it as one isn't surprising. The agreement, which was signed 32 years ago this week, was reached by a Likud government and has since entered Likud lore as the party's greatest accomplishment. Here was a land for peace deal unlike any other, different in that it worked.

A closer look shows the only real difference between that land for peace deal and any other was that the Likud bore responsibility for it. So flimsy was the peace agreement that it contains an appendix permitting Egypt to go to war with Israel if called to do so by other Arab states.

Shmuel Katz had no illusions about the agreement, which he battled before, during and after its consummation. An adviser to then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Shmuel eventually resigned his post after the prime minister's intention to abandon the Sinai became clear. When Begin then attempted to buy Shmuel off with the high prestige post of UN ambassador, Shmuel refused.

In 1981, Shmuel published "The Hollow Peace," a scathing first-hand account of Begin's collapse and his betrayal of long-held principles, (an astonishing phenomenon then, but one which we have grown accustomed to now).

In "The Hollow Peace," Shmuel wrote:

Israel has agreed to hand over to Egypt its strategic depth, its territorial security belt, and has thereby facilitated possible aggression - from Egypt, from Saudia and from the eastern front. It will thus give up the naval base on the coast of the Red Sea, eleven air fields, of which three - among the most up-to-date in the world - were built specially for strategic defence, and its only independent supply of oil. It will remove all the Jews living in Sinai, from their town of Yamit and the complex of their villages in the north and the cluster of small communities in the south near Sharm-el-Sheikh. As against all these concessions on Israel's part, Egypt has given up nothing tangible and of the commitments it has undertaken there is not a single one that could not be abrogated within 24 hours.

Even Egyptian President Anwar Sadat couldn't resist reveling in the one-sidedness of it all, bragging in an October, 1980 New York Times interview: "Poor Menachem, he has his problems S After all, I got back S the Sinai and the Alma oil fields, and what has Menachem got? A piece of paper."

According to that "piece of paper," Egypt promised to establish "normal and friendly relations" with Israel. It appeared at first that Egypt was moving in that direction. But once Israel had completed its three-year phased withdrawal from the Sinai, relations ceased. Egypt has honored virtually none of the 50 odd agreements associated with the treaty. Indeed, it has actively flouted them. Just one example is Egypt's promise to end "the teaching of contempt." So important was this to the Israeli side that it included the promise "to abstain from hostile propaganda" in the text of the treaty itself.

Today, Egypt is a world center of anti-Semitic propaganda, its newspapers, television shows and magazines are filled with Nazi-style graphics, medieval "blood libel" conspiracies and other wild charges, such as Israel introducing "most of the plagues that afflict agriculture and animal health" and of causing earthquakes in Egypt.

As Shmuel wrote in his Jerusalem Post op-ed "Where Angels Fear To Tread" (January 14, 1994):

Must the story be told once more of Egypt's failure to implement any of those agreements - except for those that could be actively violated? For example, any tourist in Egypt who reads Arabic need only pick up a Cairo newspaper or journal to discover that, where vilification of Jews is concerned, Egypt has nothing to learn from the most vicious publications of the German Nazis, adding only its own twist: vilification of the Jewish State. Thus it honors the ban on hostile propaganda proclaimed in that peace treaty.

One may argue that while Netanyahu is wrong to praise the treaty, perhaps he is right about Sadat. We have all at one point been exposed to the storyline of the brave Arab leader who took risks for peace. But the real Sadat differs markedly from the "official" portrait. As Shmuel reveals, Sadat agreed to visit Israel only after he had Begin's promise to relinquish the Sinai already in his pocket.

Much was made of Sadat's visit and his speech before the Knesset, but Shmuel writes in "The Hollow Peace":

Not in a single word did he deviate from the traditional Arab demands. Nor was he sparing in harsh phrases aimed at Israel, again in line with the accepted Arab mythology, such as Israel's being an aggressor and the source and cause of the conflict. "Between us and you," he said, "there has been a great high wall, that you have been trying to build up for twenty-five years." Such being the case, all he was demanding was unconditional surrender.

What also emerges is that Sadat was an anti-Semite in the fullest sense of the term. Shmuel quotes Sadat speaking in a Cairo mosque in 1972 ("Egyptian Intransigence", May 25, 1979):

"The Jews are a people of plotters," Sadat said "of deceivers and traitors. They were born to lie and to betrayS I promise you that we shall restore them to their previous state. As it is written in the Koran: 'they are fated to be oppressed and downtrodden'". After he had visited Jerusalem, after Israel had made her peace offer, Sadat persisted in his anti-Semitic remarks, and they were published in the weekly journal "October" - a regular fountain of vulgar anti-Semitism. His lifelong admiration of Hitler, his continued demonstrative pilgrimages to Berchtesgaden - are all of a piece.

And so here we have Netanyahu's model statesman, an anti-Semitic admirer of Hitler, and his model agreement - a sham treaty in which Israel gave up something real for promises, which proved hollow once the Arab side had obtained the one tangible asset offered by Israel, in this case 23,000 square miles of territory.

It's tempting to throw up one's hands when listening to the rubbish Israel's supposedly hard-line leader is shoveling. But one thing Shmuel never did was despair. At the very end of "The Hollow Peace," a book filled with many bitter personal and painful disappointments, Shmuel yet ends optimistically.

The crisis of leadership that now besets Israel will pass. A national leadership worthy of the name will arise. From within the people, from within the ordeal itself, there will grow - and there is surely already growing - a new generation of leaders with the integrity, the prudence and the courage to cope with Israel's problems, and who will pilot it through the perilous, tempestuous, unruly seas of the contemporary world. Netanyahu has his models. We have ours.

David Isaac

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

Palestine: Clinton opens Alternatives to Two-State Solution

by David Singer

American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has publicly canvassed the possibility of considering alternative solutions on the future sovereignty of the West Bank as the current negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority to create a new Arab state between Israel and Jordan - the so called "two-state solution" - continue to go nowhere.

In an interview with ABC's Christiane Amanpour in Jerusalem this week the following interesting exchange took place:

QUESTION: Do you believe you've convinced some of the skeptics - for instance, the [Israeli] Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who you also spoke to - have you convinced him that this two-state solution, this process, is the right one?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I don't claim to convince someone whose views are very different from that position. I think that he and many Israelis are quite skeptical, just as many Palestinians are quite skeptical. But I'd ask them, what's the alternative; I mean, what is the alternative? You need, if you are worried about Israel's future and security, to be living peacefully with a neighbor who has the same aspirations for normal life.

Many commentators such as MJ Rosenberg and Robert Grenier have suggested that the only alternative solution is the "one state bi-national solution" which would see Israel securing sovereignty in 100% of the West Bank in some negotiated bi-national agreement with its West Bank Arab population.

Both Rosenberg and Grenier are equally firm in their prognosis.

Rosenberg writes:

"The alternative, looming just beyond the horizon, is the so-called one state - or binational - solution in which Israelis and Palestinians share all the land from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. How can it be more obvious? The alternative to two states is one state, which virtually all Palestinians would accept and virtually all Israelis reject".

Rosenberg's own conclusion - that the Arabs would accept it and the Jews reject it - guarantees that such an alternative solution is dead in the water before it is even proposed.

Rosenberg offers no evidence to support his claim that virtually all the Palestinian Arabs will accept the one state bi-national alternative and so agree to abandon their 43 years old demand that a sovereign Palestinian Arab State be created for the first time ever in recorded history.

Rosenberg is on a trip to fantasyland.

Grenier's pessimism in achieving the two state solution is succinctly expressed as follows:

"That the Israelis and Palestinians could reach agreement on a comprehensive two-state settlement under the current circumstances is hard to imagine. That they could actually implement such an agreement is impossible."

Grenier's only alternative is also the one-state bi-national solution as he continues:

"The fact of the matter, however, is that the idea of a two-state solution in Palestine is finished. Israeli settlements in the West Bank and their attendant infrastructure have made a viable and independent Palestinian state impossible. The settlements, moreover, cannot be undone. Their existence obviates the need for formal Israeli annexation: The de-facto annexation of the West Bank has already taken place. The only remaining solution is a single, unified, bi-national state."

The one-state bi-national alternative certainly will not dispel Clinton's expressed concern for Israel's future and security. It will become a demographic time bomb, a recipe for future conflict and an even more hopeless exercise to bring to fruition than the discredited two-state solution.

There is however another far more practical and readily achievable alternative solution to that suggested by Rosenberg and Grenier.

That solution involves the division of sovereignty of the West Bank between Israel and Jordan.

Separation of Arabs and Jews in Palestine - as far as is possible - has been the policy that has guided international diplomacy in the region since 1920. It has been sponsored by the League of Nations, the United Nations and several Commissions of Inquiry. It remains the policy currently favoured and supported by America, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations.

This policy - with one notable exception - has failed for one reason - Arab refusal to accept anything less than sovereignty in 100% of the territory available for allocation between Jews and Arabs.

That one exception was Arab acceptance of the League of Nations decision on 23 September 1922 denying the Jews any entitlement to reconstitute the Jewish National Home in 77% of Palestine - laying the groundwork for the creation of an exclusively Arab State there in 1946 that is today called Jordan.

It was not until 1948 that the Jews were able to create their own State in 17% of Palestine.

Sovereignty in the remaining 6% of Palestine - the West Bank and Gaza - is still up for grabs.

Although Jordan and Israel have fought several wars following the War of Independence in 1948 they have enjoyed a signed and sealed peace treaty between their respective states since 1994 - which has withstood many political and diplomatic pressures that could have heralded its demise.

Jordan indeed fits the Clinton mould of Israel "living peacefully with a neighbor who has the same aspirations for normal life."

Presently stuck between their two respective States is the West Bank with a population of 2 million Arabs and 500000 Jews - whose territorial sovereignty remains undetermined.

Division of that sovereignty between Israel and Jordan resonates as a just and fair solution for the following reasons:

* It will restore Jordanian governance to the major part of the West Bank as existed from 1950 up to its loss to Israel in the Six Day War in 1967.
* It will bring the overwhelming majority of its 2 million West Bank Arabs under Jordanian protection, free them from Israeli control and restore the freedom of movement and citizenship rights enjoyed by them between 1948 - 1967
* Not one Jew or Arab will have to leave his present home or business in the West Bank
* Issues presently seen as contentious such as water, refugees and Jerusalem have already been identified and proposed solutions flagged in the 1994 Treaty.
* Drawing the new international boundary between Israel and Jordan to end sovereignty claims by Jews and Arabs in the West Bank should be capable of being achieved within three months.
* There will be a dramatic and immediate change in the current status quo which most agree is dangerous and untenable
* Jordan is the only Arab partner that can honour and enforce any agreement on the West Bank that Israel is prepared to sign.
* It will finalize the allocation of sovereignty of former Palestine between the two successor States to the Mandate for Palestine.

Jordan cannot be allowed to simply reject such an alternative out of hand and seek to walk away from the looming conflict that must inevitably fill the void after the collapse of the two-state solution.

Jordan has been part of the problem surrounding the issue of sovereignty in the West Bank since 1920. It now is time for Jordan to step up to the plate and take responsibility for being part of the solution in 2010.

David Singer

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

From Geneva to Oslo: A tale of Swiss cheese

by Martin Sherman

“We are [peace] partners. Are you?” This is the message with which the public is currently being bombarded. It comes from a long procession of wellknown Palestinian figures – none of whom has any real political clout – portrayed on giant billboards along main traffic arteries in major cities, or by means of computer screens and well-funded websites. Couched in solemn tones and accompanied by earnest gazes, this slickly choreographed appeal is the cornerstone of a resuscitated and reenergized PR campaign to promote the failed chimera of the Geneva Initiative.

Reflecting its Helvetian origins, the Geneva Initiative is striking similar to Swiss cheese – very tempting but full of holes and rich in components hazardous to one’s health. For some reason this delusional Oslo-derivative has recently been resurrected by the same perversely self-anointed “pragmatists” who originally concocted it several years ago and now are attempting to re-peddle the same defective merchandise in a more sumptuously seductive wrapping.It is difficult to identify just what initiated this renewed marketing drive.

After all, from an Israeli perspective, this is an enterprise that has proved to be fundamentally unsound in terms of the political philosophy on which it is based, and extremely perilous in terms of the practical consequences it portends.

MOREOVER, IT is difficult to discern any tangible changes in the prevailing political and security conditions that might lead one to believe that the Geneva Initiative has a significantly greater chance of success today than it had in the past. Indeed if anything the reasons for skepticism are even greater:

• The Palestinian leadership obdurately refuses to recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, openly declaring it will never give way on this position.

• It publicly maintains that this is intended to preserve the demand of the “right of return,” the fulfillment of which annul for all practical purposes Israel’s status as a Jewish state.

• The vitriolic incitement to hate of Jews and of Israel continues unabated in the Palestinian education system and media.

• The prestige and power of the radicals is growing continuously. In fact, given the striking parallels with the earlier “Oslo initiative,” the current endeavors of the champions of the Geneva Initiative – at least the Israelis among them – could be expressed in the following metaphorical allegory: A man of goodwill, brimming with idealistic fervor, decided after long hours of observing birds in flight that the condition of mankind could be substantially elevated if human beings, too, could fly. “If they can do it, so can I,” he declared with commendable resolve, as he climbed to the roof a nearby five-story building to prove the validity of his lofty vision by hurling himself off it into the heavens.

Friends tried to dissuade him from the hazardous attempt. Advisers pointed out that his aspirations were incompatible with law of gravity and in total violation of the principles of aerodynamics. Accordingly, they warned, failure – and resultant grave injury – would be inevitable.

But all the caveats and entreaties went unheeded. With an impatient wave of his hand, he dismissed the both doubts and doubters. “These naysayers suffer from a lack of vision,” he declared exuding self-confidence. “They are narrow-minded, short-sighted and mired in past. I, on the other hand, represent the future. My efforts will break through the encumbering constraints of yesterday and lead to the new possibilities of tomorrow.” With that, he launched himself from the roof-top and – flapping his arms with great vigor – crashed to the ground below.

Despite the serious injuries he sustained, he somehow survived the catastrophic fall, and after a long period of convalescence began to remove the bandages and plaster casts from his wounded body and broken limbs. Undeterred by the unfortunate consequences of the unsuccessful pursuit of his lofty goal, he set about analyzing the causes of its failure.

After some reflection he arrived at his conclusion: The problem was not the conceptual validity of the basic principle but in the practical execution of the experiment. Therefore, he determined, an additional attempt must be conducted immediately, only this time in more favorable conditions – i.e. from a higher building to enable greater momentum needed to facilitate flight.

So once again, armed with high hopes and short memory, our intrepid hero climbed to the roof of another building – this time 10 stories high. Once again he ignored the counsel of advisers and the pleas of friends. Once again he determined to defy the law of gravity and flout principles of aerodynamics. Once again he condemned critics for being unable to visualize the future benefits of his bold initiative. Once again he leaped from on high hoping that his sincerity and goodwill would allow him to soar aloft before smashing into the hard earth below.

THIS THEN is an accurate allegorical portrayal of the renewed Geneva Initiative – and other similar Oslo-spawned clones – that are bandied about with tedious regularity. All these so-called initiatives are nothing but desperate reruns of marginally modified Oslo-like measures that have been tried in the past (in arguably more amenable conditions) and brought nothing but trauma and tragedy to both Israelis and Palestinians. There is thus little – if any – reason to believe that persisting with efforts to implement such an initiative will not precipitate similar, and perhaps even greater, calamity.

Of course, opposition to initiatives of the type of Geneva (or Oslo) does not reflect any intrinsic resistance to peace per se, or any the inability to appreciate the potential benefits it could usher in, but rather skepticism as to its feasibility. Just as in the allegory, the opposition to the attempt to effect human flight did not reflect a lack of recognition of the theoretical advantages it might herald, but rather a gloomily pessimistic assessment of the endeavor’s chances of success – and of the consequences of its failure.

Accordingly, in light of past experience, the almost obsessive insistence to persist with a failed concept seems to indicate the existence a very flat – indeed virtually horizontal – learning curve on the part of its advocates. After all if any lesson is to be gleaned from past precedents, it is that the chances of success are remote and cost of failure enormous.

This is a fact that makes the compulsive obstinacy to press on with the Geneva Initiative appear not only a highly imprudent exercise, but a wildly irresponsible gamble. But unlike the lone leaper in the allegory above, whose poor judgment imperiled only himself, the leap of faith prescribed by Geneva disciples, involves the fate of many others.

Martin Sherman is academic director of the Jerusalem Summit and lectures in security studies at Tel Aviv University. He was also an Israeli Schusterman scholar at USC and HUC.

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

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

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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

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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

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

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

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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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