Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ya’alon assures Israel won’t let Iran obtain nuclear weapons

by Joanne Hill

Israel’s Vice-Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon told an enthusiastic rally of 1,000 people at Toronto’s Canada Christian College on Sunday that the government of Israel will not permit Iran to obtain nuclear weapons nor will it permit Israel to be turned into an Islamic state.

Ya’alon was the keynote speaker at the Night to Honour Israel – Canadians Inscribe the Bible event, which was also hosted by B’nai Brith Canada and Christians United for Israel.

“While we continue to pursue our efforts for peace, Iran continues to pursue nuclear weapons,” Ya’alon said. “What are the implications of an Iran that can produce nuclear weapons? First and foremost, this is a very severe threat to Israel and we are not going to allow it…. Mr. Ahmadinejad and his regime must face a dilemma: the bomb or survival.”

The four main challenges facing Israel, Ya’alon said, are the growth of radical Islamic terrorist groups; the ongoing international campaign to delegitimize Israel and dehumanize Israelis; the ‘Palestinian narrative,’ which blames Israel for all problems in the Middle East; and the need to strengthen ties with other democratic countries.

“In the coming months, we are going to see decisive moments in each of these areas.”

Many Palestinians “hope that Israel, too, will become someday a Palestinian Arab Islamic state. We are not going to let it.”

If the United Nations mandates a Palestinian state along 1967 borders without the Palestinians recognizing Israel’s right to exist, “we, the Israeli government, are not going to participate in such a process. We, the Israeli government, believe that Jews have the right to live in any place in the land of Israel, either in Jerusalem or in Judea and Samaria. We in the Israeli government believe that Jerusalem should be the capital of the Jewish state as (its) undivided, united capital.”

The evening’s event was also, Ya’alon said, a “celebration of the most ancient and best-read book in the world, a book that has influenced hundreds of millions throughout history.” The People of the World Inscribe the Bible project “is very important in bringing Jews and Christians together and strengthening the Christian association with the state of Israel.”

Other speakers included Amos Rolnik, creator and head of the Bible project; Dr. Charles McVety, president, Canada Christian College; Dr. Grant Jeffrey, best-selling author; and Rabbi Mendel Kaplan, Chabad@Flamingo. Dr. Frank Dimant, B’nai Brith Canada CEO, had the honour of introducing Ya’alon.

The crowd roared as Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s name was mentioned as a great friend of Israel. Rabbi Kaplan’s invocation, which praised Canada’s leadership was met with a standing ovation.

Joanne Hill

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

NY Times is Cheerleader-in-Chief for Unilateral Palestinian Declaration of Statehood

by Leo Rennet

Palestinian officials increasingly threaten to abort negotiations with Israel for a two-state solution and instead are toying with the idea of seeking international endorsement of a unilateral declaration of statehood in Gaza, the West Bank and all of East Jerusalem, including the Old City with all its Jewish, Muslim and Christian shrines.

This is obviously important news and should be reported, along with whether such a Palestinian strategy shift is merely bluff, and, if not, whether it would be a quixotic venture leading nowhere. Plus of course, what this would mean for President Obama’s insistence that only direct talks can lead to a real peace and why his attempts to get the parties to resume negotiations seem to be going nowhere.

But that’s not exactly how Ethan Bronner, the Times Jerusalem bureau chief, reports this important development in a lengthy Oct. 21 article, (“Palestinians Shift Focus In Strategy For Statehood– Pursuing Recognition by Nations Is First Task”).

Starting with the lead paragraph, Bronner makes it clear that the Palestinians are blameless for the current impasse and only Israel is at fault for not extending a 10-month freeze on construction in West Bank settlements.

There is nothing in Bronner’s article about the fact that Israel’s self-imposed freeze was a unilateral confidence-building gesture by Prime Minister Netanyahu to get the Palestinians to the table, which they resolutely refused to do for nine of the 10 months of the freeze. Nor is there any mention of repeated Palestinian assaults on the peace process in the meantime, with Palestinian leaders orchestrating anti-Israel de-legitimization campaigns across the world, glorifying suicide bombers and stoking anti-Semitic and anti-Israel incitement in Palestinian Authority media.

Instead of fair, responsible, even-handed reportage, Bronner immediately lapses into the role of pro-Palestinian cheerleader.

The Palestinian leadership, he writes at the top of his article, is “near despair about attaining a negotiated agreement.” Perhaps such despair is shared by Israel, but that doesn’t interest Bronner. Only Palestinian feelings are part of his equation.

Bronner’s agenda is to give maximum publicity to new Palestinian tactics to get the United Nations and the International Court of Justice to pave the way for a “global assertion of Palestinian statehood that will tie Israel’s hands.” So he’s heartened to report that “the Israelis are worried” and that “no government in the world supports their settlement policy.”

The other side of the coin — that international bodies are not exactly enamored of Hamas or Hezbollah terrorism either, or of threats propounded by more mainstream Palestinian officials to resume “armed resistance” — is carefully ignored in Bronner’s piece.

And where, pray, are Obama and Secretary of State Clinton as their own peace strategy seems to be going poof? “The United States,” Bronner writes, “is pleading with the Palestinians not to give up hope.” Again, only Palestinians plaints matter.

Are similar pleas not to abandon hope being extended to Israel? Bronner won’t say.

Actually, Obama and Clinton are doing far more than just pleading with the Palestinians not to give up hope. They’re passing the word to Abbas to get back on track and resume direct negotiations. Clinton has made this crystal-clear, publicly and privately. That’s why U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell is heading back to the region to reinforce the Obama-Clinton message that there is no alternative to direct negotiations.

But these things are inconsequential to Bronner. As self-appointed cheerleader for the Palestinians, his bottom-line is clear — “The Palestinians want the world to declare their state on territories that Israel conquered in the 1967 war — the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. Half a million Israelis now live in those areas, and Israel could find itself, in effect, in daily violation of another member state.”

No mention that Israel did NOT conquer these areas in the 1967 war from the Palestinians. These were never Palestinian lands. In response to an imminent threat of Arab armies intent on eliminating the Jewish state, Israel — in the Six-Day War — captured East Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan, and Gaza from Egypt. There were no Palestinian players in the mix at the time. Only Arabs arrayed against Israel.

No mention, either, that Israel, when it comes to settlements, dismantled all of them in Sinai when it got a peace treaty with Egypt, removed all of them from Gaza with getting only terror in return, and repeatedly offered to dismantle the vast majority of West Bank settlements in a fair, reasonable two-state peace deal with the Palestinians. Thus, settlements are not the deal-breakers Bronner pretends they are.

But with Bronner and the Times, facts and history are brushed aside. It’s only what the Palestinians say and want that counts.

Leo Rennet

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

Abandoning our Closest Allies

by Stephen Brown

A former official with the U.S. delegation to the U.N. revealed recently a major reason why Canada lost its bid last week to gain a seat on the Security Council [1]. Richard Grenell, a former press officer, said the American delegation deliberately sat on its hands during the run up to the vote that ended in a defeat for a staunch ally of Israel and America’s closest neighbour.
    “U.S. State Department insiders say that U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice [2] not only didn’t campaign for Canada’s election but instructed American diplomats to not get involved in the weeks leading up to the heated contest,”

Grenell reported on a Foxnews website.

If true, this would be just another manifestation of the Obama administration’s anti-Israel bias. The Canadian Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper [3]is known as Israel’s staunchest ally in the West and, as a strong, unabashed ally of the Jewish state, the Harper government has steadfastly refused to “water down” its foreign policy just to please the U.N.’s anti-Israeli petty dictators and tyrants and to win the seat. To prove its commitment to its principled stance, on the day before last week’s vote Canada announced it was strengthening its trading relationship with Israel.

“The principles that underlie the policy of foreign affairs, freedom, democracy, human rights and common law, are the foundations of each of these decisions. Some would say that because of our attachment to these values, we lost the seat. If that is the case, so be it,” said Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon [4] after his country’s historic loss.

Canada has served on the Security Council in every decade since the U.N.’s founding in 1945 and had never lost a vote until last week. Portugal wound up getting the seat, designated for a Western country, after Canada withdrew its candidacy for lack of support after the voting’s second round.

Rice herself was on a tour of Africa when the vote was taken, which columnist David Frum calls “a strange thing for an UN ambassador to do at such a critical moment.” Such an unusual development was most likely not coincidental, since Grenell states that Rice “could have had her team work to Canada’s benefit. Instead she instructed her colleagues to steer clear, effectively abandoning Canada.” It appears Rice’s absence was part of the plan.

In his column on the Canadian defeat, Frum also theorizes American non-support for Canada stems from a deal between the United States and Brazil that involved Brazil supporting Colombia, America’s ally in South America, in the same Security Council vote last week. As a result, Colombia did successfully obtain a seat allotted to South America. Brazil, Frum writes, also helped the United States block Venezuela from getting a Security Council seat in 2006. The “payback” was America had to support Portugal’s bid last week over Canada’s.

“Portuguese-speaking Brazil feels a special relationship with its former metropole,Portugal,” Frum wrote. “And we know that Brazil campaigned hard for Portugal in the General Assembly vote.”

Frum admits that, despite his inquiries, he still does not know the real reason for the Canadian defeat. And while Frum’s Brazil theory is plausible, it does not take into account other major reasons for Israel’s ally not being seated around the Security Council table come January, 2011. Islamic countries, for example, are recognized as having been key in Portugal’s win.

Besides disliking Canada’s unswerving support for Israel, the Canadian newspaper, the National Post, reported the 57 countries of Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) [5], according to an Islamic official, “felt snubbed” that Canada did not address these U.N. members as a group in its campaign like Portugal’s foreign affairs secretary, Joao Cravinho, did. Instead, the Canadians approached the Islamic states individually in seeking their support.

“He (Cravinho) basically appealed to the OIC group for their support and, in the absence of Canada doing the same thing, they got support from the OIC member states,” the Post quotes the Islamic official as saying.

However the Islamic official, who asked to remain anonymous, perhaps summed up the most important, and worrying, aspect of Canada’s defeat when he said: “This underlines the growing influence of the OIC group at the UN.” This “growing influence” may also have played a role in the Islamic world-friendly Obama administration’s decision to steer clear of the Canadian bid.

The other group that voted against the Canadians last week were African countries, angry that Canada had cut them from its list of foreign aid recipients due to their persistent corruption. The Harper Conservative government believed it has a responsibility to Canadian taxpayers not to allow their aid dollars to be stolen. Like Americans, Canadians are a generous people and want to help, but not if their money is going to wind up in the pockets of thieving African politicians and bureaucrats instead of helping people in need.

Kenya, the native country of President Obama’s father [6], was one such African country targeted. “Massive graft” was the reason a Canadian official cited for Kenya no longer being “a focus for aid from Canada”, especially after a large amount of money for the Free Primary Education program was embezzled.Canada added South American countries to its foreign aid roster in place of the dropped Africans.

Canadian anti-Israel leftist and liberal publications have castigated the Conservative government for losing the U.N. vote, calling it “a humiliating defeat” and “a slap in the face for Canada.” The Wall Street Journal, however, got it right in an editorial last Wednesday entitled “Bravo, Canada!” [7] The editorial said it was rather the U.S.role in Canada’s Security Council defeat that was “embarrassing”, saying Stephen Harper’s politics are not Susan Rice’s.

Unlike appeasing liberals, the Journal is happy “Canada seems to have annoyed a sufficient number of Third World dictators and liberally pious Westerners…” and says “a U.N. snub is a badge of honor.” It supports the Harper government policies that cost Canada the seat, citing “its staunch support of Israel” and “long-standing commitment to the Afghan war.

“Americans would be so lucky to get a leader as steadfast on those issues as the Canadian Prime Minister,” the editorial stated.

Harper appeared unconcerned about the lack of U.S. support in the Security Council vote, and Israel’s supporters will also not have to worry about any change in Canada’s foreign policy due to the Canadian loss. True to character, the Conservative Prime Minister said in Quebec after the defeat that his government would not be influenced by the vote’s result.

‘As I have said before, our engagement internationally is based on the principles that this country holds dear,” he said. “It is not based on popularity.”

URLs in this post:

[1] Security Council:

[2] Ambassador Susan Rice:

[3] Prime Minister Stephen Harper:

[4] Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon:

[5] Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC):

[6] President Obama’s father:,_Sr.

[7] “Bravo, Canada!”:

Stephen Brown

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

Why The West Presses Israel

by David Isaac

“There is good reason why the Israeli government should heed Defense Minister Barak’s advice and extend a settlement freeze. If nothing else, a freeze would prove that the obstacle to Middle East agreement isn’t the settlements … but the more basic refusal of the Palestinian leadership to accept the legitimacy of Jewish sovereignty over any part of the land.” So writes Yossi Klein Halevi, a fellow at Jerusalem’s Shalom Hartman Institute, in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed.

Halevi believes that what the West wants, or even cares about, is Israel’s good behavior. In assuming this, he entirely misreads the West’s motives. Israel’s ability to prove that its pursuit of peace is genuine is irrelevant to the West’s calculations. Western policy, as Shmuel Katz writes, is “in fact governed by the principle of not ‘infuriating the Arabs,’ of appeasing and fawning upon them, of encouraging them to continue the flow of petrodollars …”

Put simply, the West is less interested in what Israel does than what the Saudis want. This policy principle expresses itself as Western pressure on Israel. In “Fruits of Myopia” (The Jerusalem Post, Nov. 14, 1980), Shmuel writes:

    The policy of shrinking Israel has in itself … been a function of US political doctrine in … the perceived need to please and appease the Arabs. It has been pursued vigorously and relentlessly, and it remains the leitmotif of Washington’s policy to this day.

This approach has been there from the start. In “Battleground: Fact and Fantasy in Palestine” (Bantam Books, 1973), Shmuel writes:

    At every critical phase in the conflict between Arabs and Israel, the pragmatic considerations have predominated. There is a heavy American economic stake in the oil of the Arab states. Already in 1948 it was described as the United States’ “greatest potential investment in a foreign country.” The spokesmen of the oil interests ­ warning of a non-existing Arab threat to cut off oil supplies ­ were largely influential in 1948 both in the American government’s formal withdrawal of support for the 1947 partition plan and in the United States’ subsequent pressure of the Zionist leaders to “postpone” the declaration of the Jewish state. It was those interests which, together with the British government (which supplied the Arabs with arms), achieved the imposition of an American embargo calculated to operate only against Israel. It is a matter of simple arithmetic that if in 1948 Israel’s birth and her survival had depended on the help of the United States, the country would not have come into existence at all.

    The declared Arab plan for a campaign of destruction of Jewish life in Palestine to rival those of the Mongol hordes and the Crusaders ­ that is, genocide ­ would then have gone into operation.

    Fear that the Arabs might ‘turn off the oil tap’ isn’t the only motive that clouds the thinking of Western policy-makers. There is also the growing fear of Arab terror. As author Bat Ye’or writes in a recent column, the European Union has “wrapped itself in the flag of Palestinian justice, as though this would supply some protective system against the global jihad…” The West, she says, “grasps at the demise of tiny Israel as though at a lifebelt.”

    A stark example of this type of behavior is the secret, ignoble deal in the 1970s, revealed only two years ago, that was made between the
    Italian government and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the PLO in which the two organizations agreed not to hit Italian targets in return for safe haven and free passage.

    Western countries also have commercial interests to consider. They don’t want to upset Arab states, with their 350 million potential customers. And then there is continuing anti-Semitism. Shmuel, who was never a conspiracist, concluded that only that ancient hatred could explain American behavior in Jerusalem.

In “Moving the U.S. Embassy” (The Jerusalem Post, April 13, 1984), he wrote:

    Indeed a close examination of U.S. policy since 1947 suggests that its
    willingness to go to absurd extremes against a Jewish sovereign
    presence in Jerusalem derives from a deeper passion. There can be
    little doubt that one of the strands of State Department doctrine on
    Jewish national restoration has been the historic “religious”
    prejudice, which cannot tolerate the notion of Jewish statehood at all
    and which recoils from the very idea of Jews actually ruling over the
    Holy City.

Oil interests and commercial greed, fear of the global jihad, and a sprinkling of some old-fashioned anti-Semitism ­ here are the motives that drive the West. Such “pragmatic considerations,” as Shmuel writes, determine the lions’ share of the West’s Mideast policy. The merits of such policies won’t be debated here. The point is that none require deep thinking about the justness of the respective sides in the Arab-Israel dispute, making what Israel does, in the end, beside the point.

This has not stopped Israelis, who continue to fall for Western rhetoric, (really the regurgitation of Arab propaganda) about Israel’s need to end the “occupation”, from believing therefore that Israel can show the West that, “no, it, too, genuinely seeks peace”. They would be wise to stop their ears, disabuse themselves of the misguided notion, and think clearly about what the West really cares about.

Failure to do so will only lead to the same tragic policy mistakes that Israel has made in the past, perhaps the most egregious example being the actions of Israel’s leadership during the Yom Kippur War.

In “Reflections On A Resignation” (The Jerusalem Post, September 7, 1983), Shmuel describes what happened.

    In that war, compounding the blunders of commission and omission in the defence establishment and the army before the war, the political leadership knowingly jeopardized the lives of hundreds of front-line soldiers. They declined to call up the reserves even when they knew that the Egyptians and the Syrians were poised for the attack, and refused to accede to Chief-of-Staff David Elazar’s appeal for a pre-emptive air-strike.

    They took these decisions in order to demonstrate to the “world,” beyond any possible shadow of doubt, that it was the Arabs, with swords visibly unsheathed, and not an obviously unprepared Israel, who were the aggressors; and thus to win sympathy and support. The
    sacrifice they made met with a uniform European response: complete indifference. In Israel’s darkest hour during that war, Europe’s governments, with the exception of Portugal, refused to allow U.S. planes carrying supplies to the IDF to land in their territory, even for refueling. (Not to mention Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s statement after the war, justifying the Arab aggression.)

    … grievous was the blunder of the Golda Meir government in paying a horrendous advance price to please a European morality which had long ceased to exist.

The Golda Meir government rested its decision on an absurd assumption­ that what the West seeks is proof that Israel is in the right.

Israel seems not to learn and continues to act on the dangerously false assumption that its actions are what drive Western attitudes. It freezes settlements, removes checkpoints, destroys thriving communities ­ each concession spawning new demands for still further concessions.

So long as Israel clings to its misunderstanding of Western motives, it will continue to sacrifice its sons, its sovereignty and its strength in vain.

David Isaac

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

The Depravity of the UN

by Anne Bayevsky

As gross human-rights violations continue to plague much of our planet, the U.N.’s lead human-rights body, the Human Rights Council, remains fixated on Israel, leaving the Obama administration in need of a strategy for justifying its policy of “engagement,” and particularly American membership in the HRC. The new strategy of choice? Misrepresentation. The State Department has posted on its website an account, photo and all, of HRC action on an egregious human-rights violation — action that didn’t happen.

Soon after he took office, President Obama decided the United States should join the HRC. On October 1, the last day of the HRC’s most recent session, the United States’ U.N. mission to Geneva issued a press release heralding the administration’s engagement approach. Ambassador Eileen Donahoe, who chaired the finance committee of National Women for Obama during the 2008 campaign, is quoted as declaring that the council has “made historic progress . . . in advancing the rights of human-rights defenders throughout the world.” But her sales pitch depends on a serious distortion of events.

By the time this “historic” session advancing human rights had ended, the council had spent the same amount of time on its agenda item devoted entirely to Israel-bashing as on its single agenda item on all the “human-rights situations that require the Council’s attention” anywhere else in the world. Tallying all the resolutions that the Council adopted targeting any of the 192 U.N. member states, there were two resolutions condemning Israel, one resolution on “assistance” to Somalia, one on “advisory services and technical assistance” to Cambodia, and one “congratulat[ing] the Government and the people of the Sudan for . . . the April 2010 elections.” Those were the widely criticized elections that handed President Bashir another term after 21 years in office, notwithstanding that he has been indicted for genocide by the International Criminal Court.

Justifying American membership on the council and the legitimization that U.S. membership brings is, therefore, a challenge. But few would have expected that the administration would attempt to meet that challenge by leading the American public to believe the council had held a meeting to respond to a terrible human-rights violation — when in fact no such meeting had taken place.

Since late July, gang rapes have been systematically carried out in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and impunity for the rapists has been standard practice. The attackers are mostly members of rebel militias, but government troops have also been implicated. Victims have included baby boys and women aged 110. U.N. peacekeepers stationed just 20 miles away, and warned of impending violence, did nothing to stop 240 rapes over a four-day period in early August. Given what we know about the council’s routine in the case of Israel, it could have held a special session, or held an urgent debate during September’s regular session, or started an investigation, or adopted a resolution condemning the atrocities and demanding that the perpetrators be prosecuted.

The council did none of the above. On September 27, two months after the attacks began, it held an “informal dialogue” on the DRC during a lunch hour. The meeting was not listed in the U.N. bulletin that is supposed to provide notice of informal meetings. The council president gave just 15 minutes’ advance notification of the event, which was deliberately organized to take place outside the council chamber. This meant there was no webcasting service, no recording of the event, and no U.N. press release summarizing it. The DRC minister on human rights and justice, who had originally indicated he would come, did not show up; thus the so-called dialogue was held without the representative of the state involved. To put it in perspective, a lunch meeting on systematic mass rapes had less status than the lunch meeting organized a few weeks earlier with plenty of notice in the U.N. bulletin on “Non-State Service Provision in Water and Sanitation.”

But here is how the Obama administration scriptwriters rewrote it. The U.S. mission to Geneva issued a press release with the title: “United States Welcomes Engagement by Human Rights Council on Abuses in DRC.” The press release included a large file photo of a full meeting in the council chamber — though the “informal dialogue” had deliberately not been scheduled in that chamber.

The administration’s press release quotes Ambassador Donahoe as gushing: “Today’s meeting demonstrated that the Council can react to events in real time.” A few days later, Donahoe wrapped up the council session with the following praise: “I also recognize the forward movement made on other important human-rights issues this session. . . . I welcome the council’s engagement on the issue of the mass rapes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This showed the council’s ability to react to real events in real time and to contribute its voice to this important issue.”

Not only was two months later not “real time,” but the council itself had not reacted at all. By comparison, in response to the Koran burning in Florida that was called off, the council issued an agreed statement demanding “practical steps to end such intolerance.” Agreement on practical steps to end such intolerance as gang-raping the DRC’s women and children, however, was beyond it.

The Obama administration is pouring significant energy into making U.S. membership on the Human Rights Council a shining example of the benefits of engagement. Back in September, Donahoe penned a New York Times op-ed entitled “Fighting the Good Fight,” in which she said: “I have been very pleased by several developments that confirm U.S. participation was the correct decision.” Three weeks later she was heralding “historic progress.” She pointed to the creation of a new post of U.N. investigator on the theme of freedom of association and assembly and a new working group to monitor “discrimination against women in law and practice.” Attempts by U.N. thematic human-rights investigators to gain entry and report on the world’s worst states, however, routinely fail. And whatever they find, they can expect the same wall of silence with which the council greeted the rape victims of the DRC. Unless, of course, they target Israel.

What the Obama administration is really communicating is that demonizing Israelis and granting exception clauses for African women and children can be offset by human-rights “progress” on other fronts. Little wonder that its tall tales justifying American membership on the Human Rights Council aren’t convincing.

Anne Bayefsky is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, teaches at Touro College, and is the editor of

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

A Reader Asks: Why Won't Israel Define Its Borders In Advance of Negotiations

by Barry Rubin

A reader asks: "You wrote, `But if Israel defined it's final boundaries before negotiations, the Palestinian Authority [says it] would return to the talks. Israel won't do that, of course.' Why is that `of course'"?

I first joked that it was because the article was getting to be too long. In other words, I didn't have the space to discuss it. But let me explain that point now.

First, beginning with the 1993 Israel-PLO agreement, it has been clearly mutually agreed that the issue of boundaries would be settled in negotiations. Negotiations are supposed to be a give and take process: Israel would give more on boundaries if it got more on other issues. In addition, if Israelis knew they'd be getting a real, secure, and lasting peace they would be willing to offer more.

But there's also a particular negotiating trick that the Palestinian leaders have used repeatedly. Israel offers a concession saying, "If we do this, what will you give in return?" The Palestinians then say: Aha! You have offered to do this. We will give nothing in return but all future negotiations must start on the basis of you giving up on this point.

That might sound ridiculous but we've seen it over and over again, tolerated by Western mediators who if this is a reasonable diplomatic posture.

Remember, too, the Palestinians didn't say: Israel should put forward a negotiating position on borders. Thus, as we have seen, if Israel were to call for even minor border modifications, the Palestinians would walk out but at the same time will insist that Israel can never demand in future more than it offered in the past.

The PA has demanded the pre-1967 borders with no alterations. When at the Camp David talks of 2000 Israel put forward an offer--only as a starting point for negotiations--claiming about three percent of the West Bank in exchange for giving the Palestinians all of Gaza, 97 percent of the West Bank, and most of east Jerusalem, the Palestinians walked out and began a violent revolt.

We have been through this many times before. The Syrians have done the same thing. The most famous example was when Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin said at one point to Syria, through the U.S. government, OK, what if we were to accept the pre-1967 border and give a little more, what would we get in exchange?

The Syrians responded: We reject your offer but all negotiations in future must start from the point of that concession, and now we will ask for more concessions.

Instead, Israel will adhere to the formula articulated by Rabin: The extent of withdrawal will depend on the extent of what Israel is offered in exchange.

To summarize, here's a case study in Palestinian negotiating tactics:

Make a demand that might seem reasonable to outside observers.

If you get a concession, take it without giving anything in return. Reject it as an agreement but demand that it be the starting point for future negotiations.

If Israel puts forward a position that doesn't give you more than you had before, reject it and walk out of the talks. Then try to get the United States and Europe to pressure Israel into more unilateral concessions.

The situation gets so ridiculous that Tom Friedman can write a column demanding that Israel give a chance to the PA's current leadership and test its intentions. Hasn't that been going on for ten years now?

After all, why does Israel need to give another construction freeze when it just finished giving one for nine months and the PA leadership failed the test?

No doubt, if Israel gave another freeze and received nothing in exchange from the PA, or the PA even refused to talk altogether, U.S. government officials and various journalists would once again act as if this experience never happened and demand Israel make even more unilateral concessions to "test" the PA's good intentions. We've seen this happen repeatedly and, thank you very much, already know that the PA isn't eager for peace and is unwilling to compromise.

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

Barry Rubin

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

Italy's MK Fiamma Nirenstein:"Islam Does Not Like Christians"

by Elad Benari

Jewish Italian MP Fiamma Nirenstein was reconfirmed this week as Vice President of Italy’s Foreign Affairs Committee. In addition, she was also appointed an official consultant on Israel and the international Jewish communities by Italian Foreign Minister Frattini.

Earlier this week, Nirenstein commented on Christian leaders who criticize Israel yet ignore violence by Arabs. She pointed out that “Islam does not like Eastern Christians: it has forced them to flee and now they account for only 6% of the population in the Mideast”, and added that the only country where the number of Christians has grown is Israel, where 163,000 Christians live today, a number which is expected to grow to 187,000 by the year 2020. “In Muslim countries, on the other hand, Christians are on the wane, but the 50 churches present in the Holy Land seem not to notice. They prefer to dump on Israel, where they enjoy full freedom of worship and expression,” said Nirenstein.

Commenting on the Vatican Synod about Middle East taking place in Rome these days, Nirenstein pointed out a document “written in a tone of theological excommunication towards the State of Israel,” which was signed by the Custodian of the Holy Land, Pierbattista Pizzaballa, who later denied involvement, saying that “no church in the Holy Land had signed the document.” Nirenstein pointed out, however, that the names of top-level signers are clearly visible on the document which is available on the internet. The document speaks in the name of "us Christian Palestinians," and says that “the military occupation is a sin against God and against man”. It excommunicates Christian supporters of Israel, takes sides against the very presence of Israel, likens the defensive barrier that has blocked 98% of terrorism to apartheid, attacks the communities in Judea and Samaria and essentially cancels the existence of the Jewish state. The document goes so far as to legitimize terrorism when it talks about the “thousands of prisoners who languish in Israeli jails” which are “part of the society around us”. “Resistance to the evil of occupation is a Christian's right and duty," says the document.

“In the final draft of the appeal which will be voted on Friday, the Synod is once again offering the Catholic Church as the guarantor of freedom of religious and personal freedom for all religions,” wrote Nirenstein. “But if there are no sanctions against what Christians suffer in Islamic countries and if they continue to blame the Jews who have nothing to do with it all, how do they think they will be able—morally and practically—to sustain this?”

Other comments made by Nirenstein this past week addressed remarks made by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said that Germany's multicultural approach to immigration “has failed, utterly failed,” and that in the future, immigrants should be expected to integrate into German culture.

“The point is that certain cultures very often have no intention of mixing in with ours, despite our actions and best intentions,” said Nirenstein in response. “Paris has become a city in which more than 200,000 people live in families where polygamy is common practice. In Italy 30,000 women have been subjected to genital mutilation and Islamic courts—ninety-odd in London alone—inflict sentences that are inconceivable.”

She pointed out that despite the fact that immigrants should have freedom of rights because of democracy, “they have other rules, not the ones of democracy. In Germany, Chancellor Merkel’s homeland, a Berlin lawyer was beaten along with her Muslim client who wanted a divorce; she was also attacked in the subway and was forced to close her practice. Again in Germany, Mozart’s opera, Idomeneo, was cancelled following Islamic threats. By pure luck, the editor-in-chief of Die Welt, Roger Köppel, blocked the hand of a young Muslim who was about to stab him in his office. In Germany, England and France, it is no longer possible to trace the “missing girls” who become slaves following arranged marriages. Giulio Meotti writes that, in Stockholm, the latest fashion is a T-shirt worn by young Muslim on which is written: ‘In 2030 we will take over’. Just some incidents.

“When we are faced by a culture like that of Islam, there are forms of irreducibility that run up against legal and moral issues with a whole range of subtleties,” continued Nirenstein. “For us, ‘immigration’ is a sacred term, filled of a sense of guilt, of generosity, of religion and liberal or left-wing overtones. But democracy is also a sacred term, our most important conquest: the masses of immigrants that do not share our democratic values put it in danger. And while we think that allowing immigration is a duty of democracy, we don’t understand that we are putting it at stake. Perhaps Chancellor Merkel—democratic German, pro-Europe, middle-class, complex-ridden and shy as every cultured German is—has succeeded in posing the question.”

Earlier this month, Nirenstein organized a mass rally-demonstration entitled “For the truth, for Israel” which was held in Rome. 63 speeches were made by personalities, politicians, intellectuals, artists and journalists from all over Europe during the rally which was billed as "the first European, bipartisan event aimed at restoring the truth regarding Israel, putting an end to the barrage of lies that are hurled at Israel every day and to the double standard used by the media and international organizations." According to estimates, 3,000 people attended the rally.

Elad Benari

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

The Tide Turns for Geert Wilders?

by Ann Snyder

The tide may finally have turned in the trial of Dutch politician, Geert Wilders, who is being prosecuted for "hate speech" for expressing his views on Islam.

This week, Wilders' team has been presenting his defense in the afterglow of last week's statement by prosecutors that all charges against Wilders should be dropped, in part, on the basis that he made his remarks "as a politician…within the context of public debate."

However, the final decision remains in the hands of the court whose ruling is expected by November 5, 2010.

At this moment, despite the prosecution's call for dismissal, Wilders still faces potential fines and imprisonment for expressing his views. Even if, as is expected, this fiasco ends with a verdict in Wilders' favor, one must wonder if freedom of speech is really protected in a country where such a trial can go forward in the first place. Given what has happened to Wilders, others will undoubtedly be silenced for fear of facing the same ordeal.

Interestingly, some of the prosecution's reasons for requesting dismissal hinted at why Wilders should never have been charged to begin with. Wilders is a politician speaking about matters of public interest in the midst of an active public debate on those issues. Yes, those issues are controversial. That is often the case with topics that are the subject of public debate. But, if free speech rights are to mean anything, they must protect speech in this context.

To that end, it is no accident that American jurisprudence and scholarship on the subject speaks to the elevated importance of political speech. So important is open public debate that the US Constitution gives members of Congress absolute protection for statements delivered on the floor of either House. Hate speech laws run counter to laws and traditions that support healthy, open debate. The trial of Wilders should be a wake up call to the Dutch to jettison the concept of legally enforced political correctness embodied in "hate speech" laws.

Ann Snyder

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

Friday, October 22, 2010

Center alerts NPR, Fox News, CPB: CAIR's role in Juan Williams firing may be violation of Foreign Agents Registration Act

by Mike Hamilton

WASHINGTON, DC: On October 21, 2010, the Center for Security Policy sent urgent alert notices to Juan Williams, news analyst for Fox News and recently fired news analyst for National Public Radio (NPR); Vivian Schiller, President and CEO, NPR; Roger Ailes, President, Fox News Channel; Bill O'Reilly, Fox News Channel; and the Inspector General of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), regarding a possible violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), warning that they may have been the target of an influence operation by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) which resulted in the firing of Williams.
On October 18 on the Fox News program "The O'Reilly Factor," Williams stated "I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous." Two days later on October 20, CAIR issued a press release calling on NPR to take action against Williams. CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad called Williams' comments "irresponsible and inflammatory" and complained that "media commentators who launch rhetorical attacks on Islam and Muslims normally do not suffer the professional consequences." CAIR's Awad called on NPR to "address" Williams' statements. NPR publicly announced the termination of Williams' contract the following day, October 21.
Center for Security Policy President Frank J. Gaffney Jr. said, "CAIR's position that journalists like Williams should normally ‘suffer the professional consequences' apparently created a hostile climate which may have led to Williams' firing. Since CAIR's beginnings in 1994, they have conducted targeted influence operations in the U.S. attempting to censor any criticism of Islam, jihad, and Islamic Shariah law. Their targets have included dozens of reporters, elected officials and ordinary citizens, but they have never registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act."
The Center's CAIR Observatory project tracks CAIR's apparent violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). The FARA states that organizations paid by a foreign principal to engage in activities to "influence any agency or official of the Government of the United States or any section of the public within the United States" must register as a foreign agent and report such activity to the Department of Justice. CAIR has never registered.
CAIR received $325,000 from the Saudi Arabia-based Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to demand opposition to speech that they consider "Islamophobic." The OIC's "Ten Year Plan" calls on the U.S. government and other nations to enact laws "including deterrent punishments" to counter this so-called "Islamophobic" speech. The U.S. government funds NPR, which fired Williams, through Corporation for Public Broadcasting grants.
According to Gaffney, "The foreign payment of $325,000 to CAIR, and the OIC ‘Ten Year Plan' guidance to CAIR to demand ‘deterrent punishments' - or as CAIR's Nihad Awad put it, ‘professional consequences' - appear to have directed CAIR's influence operation targeting NPR, which may have led to NPR firing Williams."
The CAIR Observatory project documents CAIR's receipt of $6.6 million in contributions and $54.5 million in pledges from foreign principals in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Iran, over 40 cases of meetings and coordination with those principals, and nearly 100 influence operations against government agencies, military and law enforcement, elected officials, candidates, media outlets and private corporations.
Alert notices were sent to Juan Williams, Vivian Schiller, Roger Ailes, Bill O'Reilly, and the CPB Inspector General on October 21st, and formal notifications will be sent on October 22nd. Copies of this correspondence will be provided to the Department of Justice's Counterespionage Section in the National Security Division, which is responsible for enforcing FARA and prosecuting violations of that act.

Mike Hamilton

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

Prof. Chesler: Anti-Semitism Cannot be Equated with Islamophobia

by Phyllis Chesler

Even as Chancellor Angela Merkel pronounces the failure of “multiculturalism” in Germany, the English-language German newspaper reporter, Marc Young, writing for the English-language German news at The Local, proclaims that “bigotry towards Muslims is the new anti-Semitism.”

As the author of a book with the title The New Anti-Semitism (with an edition in German), allow me to remind Mr. Young that one of the things that is “new” about this most ancient of hatreds is that it is pandemic in the Islamic world and in Muslim communities in the West and that the multicultural relativists in the world’s universities, media, and political leadership, are collaborating with it in the name of “political correctness.”

Thus, what both Young and those who run the state-subsidized Center for Research on Anti-Semitism at the University of Berlin have learned from the Nazi Holocaust is that Europeans should not discriminate against Muslims as they once did against Jews.

German scholar Clemens Heni strongly disagrees:

“There is no other prejudice or form of racism which you can compare to this centuries-long hatred (anti-Semitism) which has no real justification. If you look at Islam today, there is a point to Islamophobia because Jihadists say, ‘We want to kill the unbelievers.’ Jews never said that. Because as a German I have a responsibility to deal with my own history, and if I see that other Germans want to downplay anti-Semitism and to minimize the threat of Islamic jihad and other forms of anti-Zionism—I think there is something deeply wrong, they didn’t learn the lesson from the Holocaust, they are even downplaying the Holocaust itself.

“I think it’s really important to focus on anti-Semitism as a specific phenomenon. This was the subject of my first article in the Journal for the Study of Anti-Semitism. Most people in Germany and in academia focus on anti-Semitism as one prejudice among many like racism, colonialism, imperialism, sexism, whatever. That was the reason why Robert Wistrich, the leading historian of anti-Semitism, was never invited to the Berlin Center for Research on anti-Semitism for the last 20 years. Usually an institute, well-funded, with hundreds of thousands of Euros a year—they have to invite the leading scholars. They didn’t invite him. One must ask why.”

Heni has paid a punishing price for his beliefs and values. He has failed the test for political correctness, both in Berlin and at Israel’s own leading “post-Zionist” universities which have, so far, refused to hire him as a professor of German history who specializes in German anti-Semitism—when such positions have actually been available.

Ironic, yes?

Heni has worked with Robert Wistrich in Jerusalem and with Charles Small at the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism. He has written two books about anti-Semitism in Germany: Antisemitism in Germany: Preliminary Studies of a “Heartfelt” Relationship and Antisemitism as a Specific Phenomenon, and co-written the book German Middle Eastern Studies and Islamism After 9/11. He remains an independent scholar without a tenured position.

In a recent interview, Heni explained to me:
“The big controversy goes back to the conference in 2008 that equated Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, literally saying that the Muslims of today are in the same situation that the Jews were in during the late 19th century. And I’m a scholar of German history, I’ve written two books about that topic, including one about the late-19th century, so I know a little bit about what happened at that time. We had specific parties dedicated to spreading anti-Semitism, and right now we don’t have a single party spreading Islamophobia, saying ‘we don’t want any Muslims in our country,’ or that they should be killed.

So on the other hand, the Center says that after 9/11, we had an increase in hostility toward Muslims, which is a strange thing because Mr. Benz, the head of the center, was saying that after the killing of Theo van Gogh in the Netherlands in 2004, we had an increase in hostility toward Islam. He did not say that he was sorry about what happened to Mr. van Gogh, which was one of the most powerful political acts of killing in the last decade in Europe because it was a very Islamist, jihadist action.”

This precise European (and therefore post-Zionist Israeli) view of anti-Semitism was on display in a recent article in the New York Times about a new Hitler exhibit in Berlin. The article is titled “Hitler Exhibit Explores a Wider Circle of Guilt.” Those who were chosen to comment on the wisdom of such a display equated the persecution and extermination of Europe’s Jews with what is now going on in Europe vis a vis Europe’s Muslims. Thus, the University of Berlin’s Center for Research on Anti-Semitism and the post-Zionist Israeli Academy share the New York Times view that a hostile, anti-integration, pro-jihadic Muslim population in Europe is the same as a highly assimilated and/or pacifist Jewish population was in Europe in the past.

Leaping right over what is specific to the extermination of Europe’s Jews, Germans, as well as other Europeans today, are generalizing that tragic and unique history so as to justify the absorption of a far more dangerous and increasingly radicalized Muslim population.

Yes, of course: Germany welcomed “foreign workers” from Turkey whom they either never expected to stay or whom they assumed would be so grateful for a western life that they would happily integrate and become more German than Turkish. And yes, it is true: Germany has a history of racism towards Jews, gypsies, “foreigners.” However, today, Germany and the rest of Europe faces a far different challenge.

I wish to acknowledge the fine work of Esther’s Islam in Europe blog, and the assistance of Nathan Bloom in the preparation of this article.

Phyllis Chesler

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

Why New START is a Non-Starter

by Frank Gaffney, Jr.

President Obama must be frantic. Among his most important personal and political priorities is ridding the world of nuclear weapons. Toward that end, he wants the U.S. Senate to rubber-stamp a seriously defective bilateral strategic arms control accord with Russia by which he hopes to set an example for other nuclear powers to disarm.

This so-called "New START" Treaty was in trouble even before it became clear that the window for Senate approval would be the short, post-election lame-duck session. The expected influx next year of conservative Republicans-- to say nothing of the prospect that one of them, Sharon Angle, may replace the Majority Leader Harry Reid, let alone the possibility that Mr. Reid's party may no longer be in the majority after November 2-- all but ensures New START will face even-greater skepticism in the next session of Congress.

Unfortunately for Mr. Obama, the prospects for getting what will soon be yesterday's Senate to go along with his radical disarmament agenda have been seriously diminished in recent days.

There are 41 Republican Senators today and-- thanks to the importance the Framers attached to the Senate's responsibility for providing quality control on international treaties-- just 34 of them can prevent ratification. At least that many, and perhaps virtually all GOP members, can be expected to object to hasty consideration of this particular treaty on three grounds:

New START is unverifiable. The Republican Vice Chairman of the Senate's Select Committee on Intelligence, Sen. Kit Bond, has written a classified letter to that effect and he summarized its findings in a conversation with me on Secure Freedom Radio last week: "I think the treaty is weak on verification especially compared to previous treaties like START and the INF treaty. We will have much greater trouble determining if Russia is cheating and given Russia's track record, that's a real problem."

New START will afford the Russians a say over our anti-missile defenses. In 2001, President Bush withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty that had effectively given them a veto in such matters. A number of Senators have expressed concern that the Kremlin is correct when it asserts that the new accord's preamble and other provisions will effectively hobble once again America's ability to protect its people and allies, even from threats emerging from North Korea and Iran - and that Russia will withdraw from the treaty if that proves not to be the case.

For these reasons, Republican Senators led by Senator Jon Kyl (R-Arizona) and have been trying to extract from the Obama administration the New START negotiating record, in the hope of clarifying exactly what U.S. diplomats have promised the Russians on missile defense. These requests have been stonewalled by Team Obama, which has to date deigned to provide only a classified summary - a far cry from the authoritative text.

Critics of New START have been outraged to learn from press accounts that even as this defiant behavior continues, Mr. Obama's minions have been negotiating yet another agreement with Moscow - one that can only impose even more restraints on U.S. options with respect to missile defenses. A letter sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday by Senators Jeff Session and others observed caustically that according to an "October 1, 2010 Bloomberg report, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the U.S. and Russia are close to reaching an agreement on missile defense."

The Senators' letter ups the ante on the fight over the negotiating record. It requests the administration to provide "a copy of all documents (including the...Russian missile threat analysis) exchanged with the Russian Federation incident to the [Under Secretary of State Ellen] Tauscher-[Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey] Rybakov discussions, or any other venue, concerning U.S. missile defenses before the full Senate begins its consideration of the New START Treaty. We would also like to see all cable reporting on these discussions and any others involving U.S. missile defenses."

The Obama administration is not serious about maintaining America's deterrent. To be sure, the President has insisted that, while he seeks to eliminate all nuclear weapons, "As long as these weapons exist, the United States will maintain a safe, secure and effective arsenal to deter any adversary, and guarantee that defense to our allies."

Yet, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently disclosed that the deterrent is literally running out of gas. In a microcosm of the deteriorating condition of the U.S. nuclear arsenal more generally, the Obama administration and its predecessors have failed to provide an assured means of supplying tritium, a radioactive gas that is essential to boosting the explosive power of America's nuclear arms. Since tritium decays rapidly, such a failure is a formula - over time - for unilaterally disarming the United States. That may fit the President's denuclearization agenda, but it is inconceivable that 67 Senators will agree with it, certainly not in the Senate the American people will elect in November.

For all these reasons, the United States Senate must not allow itself to be railroaded during the abbreviated lame-duck session that will follow those elections into superficial consideration of an accord whose unverifiability, implicit and explicit limits on missile defense and contribution to this country's unilateral disarmament make New START truly a non-starter.

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. is President of the Center for Security Policy, a columnist for the Washington Times and host of the nationally syndicated program, Secure Freedom Radio, heard in Washington weeknights at 9:00 p.m. on WRC 1260 AM.

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

The Travails of Modern Islam

by Daniel Pipes

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

It occurred to me that I should try and fit what I know into the mission of this organisation, so I will try something new. It will be a certain level of abstraction and I invite you in the Q&A to become far more specific.

I am a historian of the Muslim world and, in addition to the day-to-day issues that come up, I look at this civilisational unit as a whole. That's what I'll do now.

To start with, the Islamic religion prevails in majority-Muslim countries stretching from Senegal to Indonesia, and is not simply a Middle Eastern phenomenon. Muslim people can now be found in substantial numbers in Europe, North America, Latin America, and indeed, Oceania.

The Islamic religion is also a civilisation. One scholar gave it the name Islamicate, suggesting it can be seen along the same lines as the Italianate. I find this a useful concept. Islamicate civilisation includes non-Muslims who live in majority Muslim countries and who share certain attributes. For example, art can be called Islamicate. You can usually tell which is Muslim art; it's not exactly Islamic as it's not connected to the religion.

I spent the first part of my career trying to understand the nature of the connection between Islam and other aspects of life. In particular I took a topic that's a little bit exotic for the dissertation and my first book, titled Slave Soldiers and Islam. I examined a form of military organisation which is unique to the Muslim world and asked how can this phenomenon be connected to the religion of Islam, how can slaves be used as soldiers within these organisations? Of course, slaves were used as soldiers in emergency capacities in various places at various times, but the Muslim use of slaves as soldiers between roughly the years 800 and 1800 was not occasional and not only during emergencies. It was a centralised, very significant institution called the Mamluk Institution, or the Janissary Institution, and could be found over the centuries in different continents.

What possible connection could there be with what is happening today? To make a long story short, my thesis was that Islam demands of Muslims are so onerous to fulfil that for various reasons the Muslim populations withdrew from political life. As a result of this, the rulers needed to reach out to non-Muslims and the best way to do that was through this exotic form of slavery. That insight was one a step towards the larger question of how Islam influences politics.

In the broad sweep of history, the Islamic religion got off to a very fast and successful start. Muhammad himself fled Mecca in 622 A.D. By the time of his death, however, he was ruler of Arabia and within 100 years his followers had gone from Spain to India. This was more than just a military conquest. The Muslim faith was successful in culture, the arts, and the economy and created the great empires of its age. Had you looked around the world say precisely a millennium ago, August 20th, 1010, you would've concluded that Islam was the most successful civilisation, more so than those of China, Europe or India.

Starting from about 1200, especially after the Mogul invasions, the civilisation of Islam declined and stagnated for a long time. The striking fact was that Muslims long were generally unaware of this downturn although it finally became vividly obvious around 1800, especially when Napoleon landed in Egypt and wiped out the Ottoman and Mamluk armies. Napoleon brought with him a cadre of scientists who started studying the flora, fauna, and archaeology, savants who would eventually crack the code of Egyptian hieroglyphics. His was not only a military expedition but a scientific one as well. The contrast between the Egyptians and the French was stark and shocked Muslims into realising that, during their long period of stagnation, Europe had surged ahead.

Trauma followed. Muslims had assumed that they were blessed by God in both spiritual and mundane ways. Now they worried that God had forsaken them, which led to a profound reassessment of what it means to be a Muslim. Muslims saw themselves challenged by Europe and more broadly by the West, and this is a challenge that Muslims still face today. How is it that the people who should be on top – militarily, economically, politically, culturally, scientifically, technologically – how is it that they now sit at the bottom in terms of literacy, longevity, Nobel Prizes per capita, Olympic medals per capita? Indeed, whatever index you choose, Muslim states are at the bottom. Muslim people are not doing well; some of the worst countries in the world include Somalia, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Iraq, all of which are majority Muslim. This is a great strain, a great challenge: What went wrong and how do they fix it? Indeed, Bernard Lewis wrote a book titled What Went Wrong?

How do Muslims explain all this?

Over the course of the past 200 years, there have been three major explanations. The first one was what one might call the liberal Western explanation, namely emulating the French and the British. These nationalities descended upon Muslim lands in particular; they built empires; they offered themselves as models. They were extremely successful and Muslims tended to emulate them. The symbolic figure of this trend was Kemal Atatürk, the ruler of Turkey between 1923 and 1938, who removed Islam from public life, replaced Arabic words with French words, brought in Belgian and Swiss legal codes, and in all made Turkey look increasingly Western.

But this didn't work. By the 1920s and 30s, despite Atatürk, there was a sense that this liberal effort had failed. So Muslim adopted another approach. The approach that appeared at that time to be most impressive was the illiberal Western approach. The 1920s were the hey-day of totalitarian societies, with Mussolini and Lenin in particular showing the way. These offered models that proved very influential; Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt symbolizes this approach to politics. For the next 50 to 60 years, the Fascist and Communist models prevailed in large swaths of intellectual and political life. They didn't do too well either, they didn't solve the problems of weakness and poverty.

So, with the disappointment in these two movements came a third solution, namely the Islamist one. The goal of this movement was not to emulate one form or another of Western ideology or power; it was to return to Islamic experience and to draw on the wisdom and achievements of Muslims in the past and to rehabilitate the Muslim world by learning from Islamic experience. The goal is to do something that is old, that draws on Islamic successes of past centuries. Ayatollah Khomeini symbolizes this approach.

Of course, you can't go back. You can emulate 7th-century Islam but you can't repeat it. Islamist movements of recent decades have created a new ideology, not revived something old. I am convinced this will be a failure too. The so far number-one experiment, the Islamic Republic of Iran, has failed by any standard, if only because a great majority of its subjects are rejecting it.

Bin Laden and Wahhabi-style Islamism clearly have no future. How can they run countries? Just imagine Bin Laden as ruler; it would be like the Taliban and it wouldn't work. Even a less extreme version, such as that in Iran, is not workable in the long term. Instead, what we're seeing is that the Islamists are evolving into something that is more sustainable. Turkey offers the outstanding model here. The Turkish Islamists run and win elections; they don't depend on violence. They exercise good economic stewardship and good governance more broadly. While Turkey has many problems, its Islamists have shown that an alternative exists. An era has begun in which Islamists in part use violence on the Bin Laden and in part they work the political system.

Many Islamist groups are making a name for themselves by engaging in social services. One of the tensions now in Pakistan is that the Islamists, as happened with the earthquakes some months ago, are coming in first with the most aid for the victims of flooding. They win good will and respect for their work.

Getting back to the central issue, how Muslims answer the question "What went wrong?" Are they approaching a functional answer? I think not but that we are in a very dark period of little creativity, much instability, and much violence. I don't see any improvements soon but I do anticipate the potential for improvement. Anything that can get worse can, logically, also get better, and I expect a working out of the Islamist impulse, to be followed by something more constructive. At some point, Muslims will begin to discard it and to look elsewhere. I don't know what they're going to look for. Will it be return to the 19th century and Western liberalism? Will it be following the Chinese model?

In the meantime, things could get worse. Chemical, biological and nuclear weapons are within grasp and could be used. This threat could lead to far greater instability. There is also considerable anger within the Muslim world as the great majority of Islamist victims have been Muslim, for example in Algeria and Darfur.

Certainly 9/11 was a major event in which some 3000 non-Muslims were killed. Other events like Bali and Madrid were about 200 people. But these are not large numbers by, say, the standards of the two world wars. So far the West has shrugged off Islamism and not seen it as a truly significant threat. That could change. There could be a far stronger reaction. We are at a point of flux. We will see anarchy in the countries that I named, starting with Somalia (which has experienced 20 years of anarchy). There will also be desperation, extremism, violence, brutality and misogyny.

One implication of this is that Muslims will want to leave their homelands. Where do they go? They don't go to other Muslim countries though there are exceptions. (Afghans go to Iran in huge numbers.) But by and large, they don't want to go to Turkey or Egypt or Indonesia. They want to go to the West for its economic well-being, freedom and security. As you in Australia know, with your substantial number of Lebanese, Somali, Afghan, Iraqi and other refugees, distance is not much of a deterrent.

The number of refugees is likely to grow. The challenge of mixing Islam and the West is already a major topic in much of Europe although not so much here in Australia or in the United States. And this is happening at a time when European birth rates are falling. Europeans are having two thirds of the children they need to sustain their numbers. There is an expectation that immigrants will cover the shortfall. In addition, the Christian religion in Europe is declining as is the sense of cultural confidence. At the same time, Muslim immigrants have plenty of children, religion and cultural confidence.

The West has never experienced such a challenge. I expect Europe will go in one of two rather unpleasant directions. One is to continue the trends of the last 50 years with more Muslims, more Islamic law and more tension, until it transits to becoming an Islamic society. The other is that Europeans at a certain point say – "No, we don't like this. We're going to stop it. We're going to use whatever means are necessary to stop it. We're going to throw people out; we might even kill them." It is too early to predict which trend will prevail.

The Muslim world, to sum up, is burdened by a sense of glory of its past success and power. It feels acutely the trauma of modernity. It's looking for excuses. At this moment, Islamism is the favourite solution but I see it as temporary. This population of over a billion people is in general stress and turmoil. I expect things will get worse before they get better. But they will eventually get better.

On that optimistic note, I conclude.


QUESTION: You seem to intimate that the AKP (the Turkish Justice and Development Party) is the model. But aren't they becoming more and more anti-democratic? They're trying to take over the army. The free press that Turkey had is less free now after eight or so years. It would seem that the AKP can only go in one direction. It's going to become more and more authoritarian and totalitarian. Would you agree with that?

DR DANIEL PIPES: I agree with the facts that you've presented and I could present more evidence along those same lines. As the AKP has felt stronger, particularly vis- à-vis the military, it has stopped being so tentative and careful and has taken these sort of steps. Should it vanquish the military, should it do well in the next election which occurs by July 2011, I expect more squeezing, more pressure.

I agree with you, but I don't see why you conclude that this renders the AKP not a model. It looks like a pretty good model to me. It took power by being electorally attractive and then it changes the system. This is very different from Khomeini. I accept your facts but come to a different conclusion.

QUESTION: The less liberal you become the closer you get to the Iranian position. So alright, it won't happen suddenly with an ayatollah landing at the airport as happened in Iran. It'll just take 30 years rather than an instant landing; that's all I'm saying. Am I off the track there?

DR DANIEL PIPES: No, we're not disagreeing. There are two ways for Islamists to attain power, through violence or through the system. Working through the system is a brilliant evolution away from violence. Islamists were in the past dependent on violence. Khomeini got to power and then wanted to spread revolution, he didn't think about developing political parties. But Hezbollah, for example, which began as a Khomeini artefact in the early 1980's has become a political party of great influence in Lebanon. This is a more supple and flexible kind of approach to taking power than was the case earlier.

QUESTION: To follow the Turkish discussion, what will be the chance of them getting into Europe and can you try and explain why the British government is now favouring their entry to Europe?

DR DANIEL PIPES: The chances of Turkish accession to the European Union are very small. Nobody wants it – the Europeans don't want it and the Turks don't want it. Some leaders are trying to push it through. As for David Cameron, I have the sense that he may be not only the leader of the government, but it seems that Nick Clegg is really running the show.

QUESTION: Dr Pipes, perhaps starting from Gallipoli onwards, there's been a very emotional, special relationship between Australia and Turkey, with a very high regard on both sides. How would you see Australia being able to capitalise on that to influence events in modern Turkey?

DR DANIEL PIPES: The goal of the AKP is not to be a bridge between the West and the Muslim world. It is to be a leader of the Middle East. The foreign minister is a strategist who came up with a notion called Strategic Depth. I don't see where Australia fits into that, despite a century of history.

QUESTION: In relation to the two questions of what went wrong and how do we fix it, do you see a difference between hardcore Islamists and those that are less committed?

DR DANIEL PIPES: They are roughly the same. Various versions of Islamism exist. For example, in Saudi Arabia women can't drive, can't do this, can't do that. In Iran, they can. The Iranian idea is that they've created an Islamic republic where women are safe. In the Saudi vision, danger lurks in every corner and females need to be protected. There are many such differences in both style and substance. But in the end, all Islamists aspire to the same thing which is the application of Islamic law. Islamic law differs slightly in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran and India. They have different schools, but these are again details and in general the aspiration to apply Islamic law is common to all Muslims.

QUESTION: How significant do you think is the link between Turkey and Israel, especially after the Israeli boarding of the Turkish aid boat?

DR DANIEL PIPES: The Turkish government has used anti-Zionism primarily as a vehicle for isolating and discrediting the military. The military is its priority target, for it stands between the AKP and complete sovereignty. The military could at any moment push the Islamists aside, as it did as recently as 1997. But the military now feels weak. It reads the polls and follows elections like everyone else and it doesn't have the confidence to take over. The AKP has accused the military and others of engaging in anti-government activities and is arresting former military officers and wresting control of senior appointments.

QUESTION: Two things jumped out at me. The first related to the successful economic situation experienced by the West, at least until the event of the Global Financial Crisis. The second related to the effective use of technology. What impact did all this have on Islam and how are they likely to evolve?

DR DANIEL PIPES: The Muslim world in general is performing poorly in economic terms. Malaysia and Turkey would be the two exceptions. The great feature of the Muslim world is resources, not too different, in fact, from Western Australia. You don't so much make things as you export commodities. But Western Australia is just a small part of the West. There are almost no inventions from within the Muslim world. Which Egyptian company has an R&D department? Where's the entrepreneurship? It's just not there. There's little creativity. When there is, people go West. There are plenty of very talented Muslims but they don't have the opportunity to develop within their own countries. They go somewhere else – for medicine, computers, whatever it might be. The discovery recently of one trillion U.S. dollars worth of minerals in Afghanistan confirms the trend. Westerners find things and extract them. I see the Muslim world locked into this scenario for a long time to come; it's a little comparable to how the Soviet Union was spying forever on the West and getting its technology, information and insights from it.

This kind of dependence is hard to break. It requires cultural confidence. I've done some work comparing Japan and Turkey. I chose the two countries because Japan had the Meiji Revolution and Turkey had the Atatürk Revolution. Both leaderships not only modernized but Westernized. In Japan, the emperor insisted on ballroom dancing as a facet of Westernising. Likewise, Ataturk banned the turban. But a closer look at this comparison finds that Japanese had an inner confidence that manifested itself in a cultural ease. You can learn, adapt, and remain Japanese. Women, for example, can wear Japanese clothing for formal occasions and Western clothing for casual occasions and it doesn't mean a thing. It's impossible to imagine a Turk donning a traditional outfit without that being a huge cultural and religious statement. Women who wear burqas do not do this on a part-time basis; it's a major cultural assertion. The Japanese can play with cultural differences but not the Turks. The Japanese eat French food one day and on the next eat Japanese – again, it doesn't mean a thing. If you're Egyptian or Turk, however, you eat a certain kind of food and that says who you are. There's this fear among Muslims that they'll lose what it is to be a Muslim. They hold on in a way that the Japanese do not.

QUESTION: You mentioned earlier that the world population of Muslims was well over a billion people. Are you suggesting that all Muslims are Islamists and have hegemonic ambitions vis- à-vis the West?

DR DANIEL PIPES: No, I'm not suggesting that. Somewhere between 10% and 15% of Muslims, roughly an eighth of the Muslim population, seeks the total application of Islamic Law.

QUESTION: Do you believe Islamic and European communities will rise, especially given the migration of large numbers of Muslim people to Europe? Or will this lead to conflict?

DR DANIEL PIPES: There used to be a clear divide between Muslim countries and the West. Until 1955 there were no significant Muslim populations in the West with the exception of some indigenous populations in places like Albania, Yugoslavia and Russia, but certainly not in Western Europe, not here and not in the Americas. Indeed in 1965 there were about 150,000 Muslims in the United States from a population of about 150 million. Now it's more like three million out of a population of 300 million. In France Muslims are thought to be between 5% and 10% of the population. So there is a new-found presence of Muslims in the West. Simultaneously, Christians in the Muslim world are disappearing. In Iraq, for example, attacks on Christians, especially since 2003, have led to a massive exodus. The same has happened in Bethlehem and Nazareth, which have for centuries had Christian majorities, but no longer.

Malaysia presents an interesting case. Things there appear to be in flux and the role of non-Muslims in Malaysia is still open to question. One can easily imagine that the Islamic movement is trying to push non-Muslims out or convert them. Middle Eastern Christian and Jewish communities that have been in place for 1400 years are disappearing. There are virtually no Jews left in Egypt and the Christian population is extremely stressed, especially in the last 30 years, and is leaving. So, simultaneously, the expansion of Islam in the West and the reduction of the West in Islam are taking place.

QUESTION: Given as you say that the search within the Muslim world for an answer to the question of what went wrong, and also the relatively small number of committed Islamists anyway, do you see any potential for some sort of reformation movement developing within Islam as a potential solution to what went wrong?

DR DANIEL PIPES: I am hopeful for a reformation, that there are and will be Muslims who re-read the scriptures of Islam in light of modern times. This is the opposite of what Islamists believe. Islamists take the scriptures and read them in a severe and archaic way. This proves, at any rate, that the scriptures are wide open to interpretation. A debate, I should add, is now taking place in the West between those, like me, who say that Islam is a historical phenomenon that changes and another group that says, "No, Islam is unchangeable, it is an essential core. Jihad is this, the Koran is that. It's unchangeable and Islam is an enemy."

QUESTION: In relation to the European experience in the Islamic Balkans, is there anything that we can take from that and extrapolate more widely? Is there anything that happened in the last 20 years in the Balkans that may lead us to believe that we're not necessarily going into that dark period?

DR DANIEL PIPES: I would, unfortunately, draw the opposite conclusion. Balkan Islam was moderate. Then along came the Wahhabis, the Saudis, their money, their institutions and it's changing toward Islamism as are other parts of the Muslim world. Historically, the more repressive movements came from the Middle East and that they influence the periphery. You can see how powerful they Islamists have become in Nigeria, Bangladesh and Indonesia. People often say, "Well, can you take Indonesian ideas to the Middle East" and I reply, "It's worth a try, good luck", but I doubt the Saudis are going to listen to Indonesians.

QUESTION: Last century I visited Istanbul a couple of times. It impressed me as a modern European city, certainly in comparison with other Muslim cities like Cairo. So my question is why do you think the liberal model failed or is failing at the moment in Turkey?

DR DANIEL PIPES: You are asking "Who lost Turkey?" Of course, it may not be lost and things could still work out. That said, what likely will have lost Turkey was not European coolness. Nor economic problems. Rather, it concerns the seemingly small matter of Turkish electoral law which requires that representation in parliament be limited to parties that win 10% of the vote, a very high threshold. In other countries the threshold is on the order of 1%, 2% or 5%. In 2002 the vote was 34% for the AKP and 19% for the CHP, the leftist party. And the AKP's 34% resulted in it gaining 67% or two-thirds of the seats. Had that election law been different, or had the moderate left and moderate right managed to work together, I the AKP would not have dominated as it did.

QUESTION: So you think rather than Turkish society becoming more radically Muslim, it's just the vagaries of politics and it could swing back?

DR DANIEL PIPES: Yes, it could swing back. I think the next general elections, which take place in 2011, are critical. Should the AKP win this, it's over. They're there for a long time. Should they lose it, it can be redeemed. So, the next election is the key.

QUESTION: How does the Obama Administration, including the top brass in the Pentagon and within State, see the situation? Is there any clarity of understanding or appreciation of the magnitude of this whole phenomenon?

DR DANIEL PIPES: I mentioned the debate between people of my persuasion who think the problem is radical Islam and those who think the problem is Islam itself. But there is a third position I didn't mention. This is the establishment position, which is the position of most of those in government, journalists and academics who believe that the problem really has nothing to do with Islam at all. It's the problem of radical extremism, of terrorism, of Al-Qaeda. Some politicians go so far as to say it's an anti-Islamic phenomenon. This is the prevailing attitude of the Obama Administration. Whatever the topic might be, they bleach Islam out of it.

To give you one example. The Fort Hood Massacre in November of last year when an army major of Palestinian-Muslim background took out a gun and killed 14 people. Every sign indicated he was a jihadi. But the report that came out recently on what happened didn't mention Islam. The cause of this denial here lies deeper than political correctness. If you're going to acknowledge it's something to do with Islam, then you have to address Islamic issues. Institutionally, if you're the US military, that's not easy to do, so you don't.

Daniel Pipes

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

A hypocritical prize nomination

by Michael Dickson

Orit, a female combat medic in the IDF, was awakened one night to see a patient. She found herself face-to-face with one of the most notorious terrorists in the West Bank. He had just orchestrated an attack on a restaurant where his sister killed 21 civilians of all ages. Orit was asked to treat his wounds and save his life. Such challenges occur every day for Israeli soldiers, whose service is mandatory.

Today, Orit is with a group of young ex-soldiers currently on a US speaking tour to share real-life stories of their army service. There was no shortage of volunteers for this tour. Those who served recently see that far too often, the media skews the reality that they know. The misrepresentations fill them with a deep sense of injustice because they risked their own lives and lost friends while doing their utmost to protect both Israeli and Palestinian civilians. They know their military service is vital to a small country like Israel, which is constantly endangered by terrorists and hostile neighbors.

If I had a prize to give, I would give it to Orit and to her friends, who, together with thousands of young people and tens of thousands of citizen reservists give up their time and risk their lives for the safety of people on both sides of a complex conflict.

MOST LIKELY, Orit won’t be receiving any prizes, but another group of former soldiers has been short listed for the European Parliament’s prestigious Sakharov Prize. The group, Breaking the Silence, undermines and defames Orit and her fellow soldiers. The group made its name by promoting a distorted and unfair portrait of the IDF via its website and tours.

It lobbied to get this nomination for the prize worth 50,000 euros, and was supported by the Greens and United Left.

The Sakharov Prize is intended to honor the memory of the late Andrei Sakharov, the Soviet dissident and Nobel Peace Prize-winning human rights activist. Among Sakharov’s comments: “Israel has an indisputable right to exist.” “Israel has a right to existence within safe borders.”

“All the wars that Israel has waged have been just, forced upon it by the irresponsibility of Arab leaders.”

Breaking the Silence is hypocritical about its aims and even its name. If it wanted to present a true picture of the IDF, it would not blatantly omit the context of terrorism, the goals of Israel’s enemies, the deadly rocket fire from Gaza. It would not omit how the enemy hides behind Palestinian civilians and attacks Israeli civilians. It would raise awareness about the moral dilemmas the IDF faces. But instead, it omits this vital context in its reports, which often consist of anonymous, unverified testimony.

There isn’t even any “silence” to “break.” Israel is an open and democratic society that regularly criticizes its own actions, and anyone is free to present complaints and findings to government officials and the courts.

Funders of Breaking the Silence have included the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the British Embassy in Tel Aviv, Christian Aid and OXFAM, two charities which have in the past launched vitriolic anti-Israel campaigns, as well as the European Union, which gave them $75,000 to “contribute to an atmosphere of human rights respect and values” and “to promote prospects for peace talks and initiatives.”

The EU is deceiving taxpayers if it is telling them that the funds used to support this organization help promote peace.

Indeed, the work of Breaking the Silence is part of a wave of efforts to attack Israel recently referred to by Tony Blair as “traditional and insidious forms of delegitimization.”

Blair’s message for world leaders was “don’t apply rules to the government of Israel that you would never dream of applying to your own country.”

He was talking about the kinds of double standards that Breaking the Silence presents.

In a powerful address to the Oslo Freedom Forum last year, Sakharov’s widow, Elena Bonner, chose to focus on how the world unfairly targets Israel for defamation. She reminded the audience, “throughout the years of Israel’s existence there has been war. Victorious wars, and also wars which Israel was not allowed to win. Each and every day – literally every day – there is the expectation of a terrorist act or a new war.”

Awarding a prize named after Sakharov to an organization that demonizes the IDF is an exercise in hypocrisy which goes against the grain of his legacy. European political leaders, when dealing with Israel, ought to heed the words of the man they seek to honor and his wife, and avoid pandering to those who seek to misrepresent and delegitimize the Jewish state.

Michael Dickson is Israel director of StandWithUs which educates about Israel through student fellowships, speaker programs, conferences, written materials and Internet resources. Soldiers testimony and tour details can be viewed at

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