Saturday, December 4, 2010

Empowering Israelis to Express Themselves

by Caroline Glick

Imagine if 100 million Americans participated in the Tea Party movement. And then imagine that the movement had no impact on American politics. Finally imagine that in the wake of the Tea Party movement, Republicans embraced President Barack Obama's positions on spending and taxation.

These scenarios are of course, unimaginable. Anywhere from a million to ten million people participated in Tea Party protests in the US over the past year. That is, perhaps three percent of Americans.

Yet this was sufficient for the citizens' movement calling for fiscal restraint, spending and tax cuts to have a defining impact on the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives. The Republican establishment is being challenged and in many cases unseated by Tea Party politicians. Owing in large part to the Tea Party movement, just two years after Obama was elected president the American political map has been transformed. The American people are abandoning leftist socialist domestic policy formulations in favor of supply side Reaganomics.

Now look at Israel. 17 years ago, the Rabin government adopted the radical and failed policy of appeasing the PLO. Since then, around two million -- or approximately 30 percent of Israelis have participated in protests against this policy. In four of the six elections since then, the Right has won by pledging to abandon this policy. And in one of the two elections won by the Left, the Left (under Ehud Barak in 1999), won by running on a rightist platform.

The resistance Israelis have demonstrated to the government's policies towards the Palestinians is arguably unprecedented in modern history. And yet, the unimaginable scenarios for the Tea Party movement in the US have been the glum reality in Israel for 17 years.

Presently, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is implementing the Left's appeasement policy towards the Palestinians with as much enthusiasm as Shimon Peres before him. Last Monday Ron Dermer, Netanyahu's most trusted adviser told Politico that a leader is defined by the contempt he feels for his voters. As Dermer put it, "The test of leadership is doing things that are not popular with your base."

There are many explanations for what is going on. The most cited are Israel's indirect elections system in which leaders are unaccountable to voters, the weakness of Israel's politicians, and the poor quality of their advisors.

While all are true, another explanation is more compelling. In Israel the Left exerts almost complete control over the political and social discourse. Unlike the situation in the US - particularly in the era of Fox News - there are no significant communications outlets in Israel that are not controlled by the Left.

Even Yisrael Hayom, the free newspaper owned by Sheldon Adelson that has eroded the market shares of Israel's leading tabloids, is not a rightist newspaper. It senior editors, reporters and commentators are almost all leftists.

The Left's monopoly over the public discourse is not only expressed in the media. In the worlds of culture, academia and entertainment as well, all the leading figures are leftists. They cultivate one another in an elite universe that is affected neither by reality nor by the convictions of most of their countrymen.

This has led to a situation in which a small minority of Israelis behaves as if it were a large majority. They use their control over the public discourse to present the sentiments of the majority of Israelis as if they were the views of a small, fanatical minority.

This distorted presentation of the convictions of most Israelis has induced a number of pathologies within Israeli society. Most pertinently, it has caused leaders of the Right to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to win the support of the Left that despises them. And as Dermer made clear it motivates men like Netanyahu and former prime minister Ariel Sharon to betray their voters in favor of the leftist agenda they were elected to reject.

In a bid to begin contending with this dismal reality, in early 2009 I launched a Hebrew-language media satire website called Latma. Latma is an Arabic term for "slap" that has been adopted in Israeli slang.

Latma combines short, pithy blog posts ridiculing the daily media coverage of events with a weekly television show on Internet called The Tribal Update. The show parodies the broadcast media in Israel while exposing the absurdity of the leftist political and cultural narratives they trumpet.

The insight guiding Latma is that people do not fear what they laugh at. By exposing the failure of Israel's cultural elites in a humorous way, Latma empowers the majority of Israelis to express their views without fearing leftist demonization.

latma demonstration.jpg

While Latma is only one small voice, entirely funded by charitable donations, its impact has been enormous. It is one of the most visited websites in Israel today with close to a million page views per month. Our broadcasts are eagerly awaited by tens of thousands of Israelis. Week after week, our shows become viral within hours after we post them on YouTube.

Our work is doing more than making the case for strong Zionism. It is undermining leftist stereotypes about the nature of the Israeli Right and making it cool to be Zionist again.

Latma's greatest international success to date was our clip "We Con the World," which we produced three days after the IDF takeover of the Turkish-Hamas terror ship Mavi Marmara. We Con the World was seen by more than a million viewers in a week and has been viewed over five million times since we produced it. The song changed the tone of the media coverage of the operation. Perhaps most importantly, it empowered Israel's supporters to stand up to anti-Zionist intimidation throughout the world.

Building on that success, and subsequent successes with English language clips like "The Three Terrors," and "The Iranian Bomb Song," we are recruiting a team of English-language satirists to produce clips directed at the international audience on a regular basis.

Liberal media outlets and other cultural institutions in the US went to enormous lengths to belittle and demonize the Tea Party movement. They failed because over the past generation, American conservatives have developed alternative media outlets and cultural institutions that the general public and politicians alike pay attention to.

I believe that Latma's success must serve as a springboard for cultivating an alternative elite in Israel whose members reflect rather than demonize the convictions of the majority of Israelis.

Given the massive dimensions of the public's rejection of the Left's worldview, if these alternative media outlets and cultural bodies are properly conceived and managed, I am certain that like Latma, they will not only be rapidly successful. They will have a profound and salutary impact on the behavior of Israel's political leaders who will finally recognize that for embattled Israel, the true test of leadership is standing up to a hostile world and keeping faith with the Israeli people.

Originally published in The Jewish Press.

Caroline Glick

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

The WikiLeaks Challenge

by Caroline B. Glick

Make no mistake about it, the ongoing WikiLeaks operation against the US is an act of war. It is not merely a criminal offense to publish hundreds of thousands of classified US government documents with malice aforethought. It is an act of sabotage.

Like acts of kinetic warfare on military battlefields, WikiLeaks' information warfare against the US aims to weaken the US. By exposing US government secrets, it seeks to embarrass and discredit America in a manner that makes it well neigh [sic] impossible for the US to carry out either routine diplomacy or build battlefield coalitions to defeat its enemies.

So far WikiLeaks has published more than 800,000 classified US documents. They have exposed classified information about US operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and they have divulged 250,000 diplomatic cables.

One of the most distressing aspects of the WikiLeaks operation is the impotent US response to it. This operation has been going on since April. And the US had foreknowledge of the attack in the weeks and months before it began. And yet, the US has taken no effective steps to defend itself. Pathetically, the most it has been able to muster to date is the issuance of an international arrest warrant against WikiLeaks spokesman Julian Assange on rape charges in Sweden.

The US has not taken down the website. Aside from the US army soldier Pfc Bradley Manning who leaked most of the documents to the website, no one has been arrested. And the US appears impotent to prevent the website from carrying through on its latest threat to publish new documents aimed at weakening the US economy next month.

Neither US President Barack Obama nor any of his top advisors has had anything relevant or useful to say about this onslaught. Defense Secretary Robert Gates assured journalists that the damage caused by publishing US operations on the battlefield, classified reports of meetings with and assessments of foreign heads of state and other highly sensitive information will have no long lasting impact on US power or status.

Ignoring the fact that the operation is aimed specifically against America, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it was "an attack on the international community."

While the expressed aim of the attackers is to weaken the US, Obama's spokesman Robert Gibbs called them "criminals, first and foremost." And US Attorney General Eric Holders said he's checking the law books to figure out how to prosecute WikiLeaks personnel.

The leaked documents themselves expose a profound irony. To wit: The US is unwilling to lift a finger to defend itself against an act of information warfare which exposed to the world that the US is unwilling to lift a finger to protect itself and its allies from the most profound military threats endangering international security today.

In spite of the unanimity of the US's closest Arab allies that Iran's nuclear installations must be destroyed militarily -- a unanimity confirmed by the documents revealed by WikiLeaks - the US has refused to take action. Instead it clings to a dual strategy of sanctions and engagement that everyone recognizes has failed repeatedly and has no chance of future success.

In spite of proof that North Korea is transferring advanced ballistic missiles to Iran through China, again confirmed by the illegally released documents, the US continues to push a policy of engagement based on a belief that there is value to China's vote for sanctions against Iran in the UN Security Council. It continues to push a policy predicated on its unfounded faith that China is interested in restraining North Korea.

In spite of the fact that US leaders including Gates recognize that Turkey is not a credible ally and that its leaders are radical Islamists, as documented in the classified documents, the US has agreed to sell Turkey a hundred F-35s. The US continues to support Turkish membership in the EU and of course embraces Turkey as a major NATO ally.

The publication of the US's true feelings about Turkey has not made a dent in its leaders' unwillingness to contend with reality. On the heels of the WikiLeaks exposure of thousands of documents from the US embassy in Ankara discussing Turkish animosity towards the US, Clinton flew to Turkey for the first leg of what the New York Times referred to as an "international contrition tour." There she sucked up to the likes of Turkish Foreign Minister and Islamist ideologue Ahmet Davutoglu who was kind enough to agree with Clinton's assertion that the publication of the State Department cables was "the 9/11 of diplomacy."

The most important question that arises from the entire WikiLeaks disaster is why the US refuses to defend itself and its interests. What is wrong with Washington? Why is it allowing WikiLeaks to destroy its international reputation, credibility and ability to conduct international relations and military operations? And why has it refused to contend with the dangers it faces from the likes of Iran and North Korea, Turkey, Venezuela and the rest of the members of the axis of evil that even State Department officers recognize are colluding to undermine and destroy US superpower status?

The answer appears to be twofold. First, there is an issue of cowardice.

American leaders are afraid to fight their enemies. They don't want a confrontation with Iran or North Korea or Venezuela or Turkey for that matter because they don't want to deal with difficult situations with no easy answers or silver bullets to make problems disappear.

WikiLeaks showed that there is no Israel lobby plotting to bring the US into a war to serve Jewish interests. There is something approaching an international consensus that Iran is the head of the snake that must be cut off, as the Saudi potentate described it. Yet that consensus opinion has fallen on deaf American ears for the past seven years. This despite the fact that both the Bush administration and the Obama administration certainly recognized that if the US were to attack Iran's nuclear installations or help Israel do so, despite all the theatre of public handwringing and finger-wagging at Israel, the Arabs and the Europeans and Asians would celebrate the operation.

The second explanation for this behavior is ideological. The Obama administration will not take concerted action against WikiLeaks because doing so will compromise its adherence to leftist politically correct nostrums. Those views assert that there is something fundamentally wrong with the assertion of US power and therefore the US has no right to defend itself. Moreover, nothing the Arabs or any other non-Western governments do is a function of their will. Rather it is a function of their response to US or Israeli aggression.

So it is that in the wake of the WikiLeaks disclosures that put paid the fiction that Israel is behind the fuss over Iran's nuclear weapons program, Juan Cole, the anti-Israel ideologue and conspiracy theorist favored by the Obama administration published an article in theGuardian proclaiming that Israel is to blame for Saudis' fear of Iran. If the Arab masses weren't so worked up over Israeli aggression in Gaza, he claimed, the Saudi leadership wouldn't have been upset about Iran.

It is this sort of non-sequitur that allows the Obama administration to continue pretending that the world is not a hard place and that there are no problems that cannot be solved by pressuring Israel.

So too, Fred Kaplan at Slate online magazine claimed that the leaks showed that the Obama administration's foreign policy is successful because it succeeded in getting China on board with UN sanctions against Iran. But of course, what the documents show is that China is breaching those sanctions, rendering the entire exercise at the UN worthless.

And the Left's voice of "reason," the New York Times editorial page, lauded the Obama administration for its courage in rejecting the pleas of Arab states and Israel and fiddling while Iranian centrifuges spin. According to the Times, true courage consists of defying reality, strategic necessity and allies to defend the dogmas of political correctness.

Perhaps the best way to demonstrate how fecklessly the US is behaving is by comparing its actions to those of Israel, which suffered a similar, if far smaller case of data theft earlier this year.

In April, the public learned that towards the end of her IDF service a secretary in the office of the Commander of Central Command named Anat Kamm copied some two thousand highly secret documents onto her zip drive. After leaving the army she was hired as a reporter by the far left Walla news portal which was then partially owned by the far left Haaretz newspaper. Kamm gave the documents she stole to Haaretz reporter Uri Blau who began publishing them in November 2008.

Haaretz used its considerable power to discredit the investigation of Kamm and Blau by falsely telling foreign reporters that the story was an issue of press freedom and that Kamm was being persecuted as a journalist rather than investigated for treason she committed while serving in the military.

In the face of the predictable international outcry, Israel stuck to its guns. Kamm is on trial for stealing state secrets with the intent of harming state security and Blau, who fled to London, returned to Israel with the stolen documents. While there is much to criticize in Israel's handling of the case, there is no doubt that despite its international weakness, Israeli authorities did not shirk their duty to defend state secrets.

The final irony of the WikiLeaks scandal is the cowardice of WikiLeaks that stands at the foundation of the story. Founded in 2006, Wikileaks was supposed to serve the cause of freedom. It claimed that it would defend dissidents in China, the former Soviet Union and other places where human rights remains an empty term. But then China made life difficult for WikiLeaks and so four years later, Assange and his colleagues declared war on the US, rightly assuming that unlike China, the US would take their attacks lying down. Why take risks to defend dissidents in a police state when it's so much easier and so much more rewarding to attempt to destroy free societies?

Assange and company are hardly the first to take this course. Human Rights Watch, created to fight for those crushed under the Soviet jackboot, now spends its millions of George Soros dollars to help terrorists in their war against the US and Israel. Amnesty International forgot long ago that it was founded to help prisoners of police states and instead devotes itself to attacking the imaginary evils of the Jewish state and Western democracies.

And that brings us to the real question raised by the WikiLeaks assault on America. Can democracies today protect themselves? In the era of leftist political correctness with its founding principle that Western power is evil and that the freedom to harm democracies is inviolate, can democracies defend their security and national interests?

Caroline B. Glick

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

Hate Crime Stats: Where's the 'Islamophobia'?

by David J. Rusin

Islamist pressure groups have spent years pushing the meme that Muslims in America face ever-increasing violence at the hands of their fellow citizens, but new statistics on hate crimes reported to the FBI once again undermine such claims.

Just-released data covering 2009 (summarized in this important table) include 107 anti-Islamic hate crime incidents against persons and property, involving 128 offenses and 132 victims. These numbers are a hair above the post-9/11 lows of 2008 (105 incidents, 123 offenses, and 130 victims). Anti-Islamic hate crimes have been falling steadily for a decade, with 2009 figures down more than three-quarters from the 2001 spike.

A closer examination of what took place in 2009 adds valuable perspective:

  • Incidents of hate crime driven by anti-Jewish bias (931) were 8.7 times as numerous as those driven by anti-Islamic bias.

  • Incidents of anti-Islamic hate crime were dwarfed not only by anti-black incidents (2,284), but also by anti-white incidents (545).

  • There were nearly as many anti-Christian hate crimes (89 anti-Catholic and anti-Protestant incidents) as anti-Islamic hate crimes.

  • There were more hate crimes motivated by bias against "other religion" (109 incidents) than by bias against Islam.

  • People were killed ("murder and nonnegligent manslaughter") for being black, white, Native American, Hispanic, and gay, but nobody was killed for being Muslim.

More remarkably, recall that 2009 was no ordinary year, based on how domestic jihad burst onto the scene. In addition to the Fort Hood massacre and the shooting of soldiers in Little Rock — neither of which is designated as a hate crime — the country endured the Bronx synagogues plot, the arrest of the North Carolina jihad cell, the New York City subways plot, attempts to blow up buildings in Texas and Illinois, the Massachusetts shopping malls plot, and so forth. As all were perpetrated by Muslims, angry Americans could have found plenty of excuses to lash out. Did they? No. What an incredibly tolerant nation the United States is.

But surely this does not remain the case in 2010, given the anti-mosque blowback and ugly crimes such as the cabbie slashing, right? Not so fast. First, the media spotlight often distorts reality. Second, MSNBC noted in August that New York City, the epicenter of recent tensions, "has not seen a change in the number of hate crimes reported by Muslims so far this year," according to an FBI agent. Third, official figures for 2010 will not be available until late 2011.

Of course, Islamists will keep singing the same old song, regardless of the actual data.

David J. Rusin

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

UC, Irvine's Toothless Suspension

by IPT News

The Muslim Student Union (MSU) at the University of California, Irvine is suspended for the fall semester. But its activities continue unabated, thanks to a glaring loophole in the suspension policy.

Other groups are free to fill in the void created by MSU's suspension and sponsor the same kinds of events and programs, school officials say. But "[u]nder the terms of the suspension, neither the MSU nor any group that includes former MSU leaders as officers may sponsor events on campus," UCI spokeswoman Cathy Lawhon said last week.

The organization serving as MSU's replacement in a series of programs throughout the fall is an arm of the student group, records show.

Alkalima, the Muslim student magazine, is "published by the Muslim Student Union of University of California, Irvine," its Spring 2010 issue said. Alkalima has been published at UCI since 1997, but until this fall, it had not organized or sponsored events. It registered as a student organization this semester.

Its events are promoted through MSU's email list, which rarely denotes that the magazine is involved, records show.

UCI suspended the MSU chapter for lying about its role orchestrating a series of disruptions during a February speech by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren. Students interrupted Oren at least a dozen times, with several standing up and shouting that he was a murderer and war criminal. Eleven students were arrested and a school investigation concluded that the MSU officials lied repeatedly when officials asked about the group's involvement.

Alkalima's programs this semester mirror those MSU traditionally sponsors.

For example, a fall calendar with weekly events throughout the semester was distributed on the MSU listserv under the header "MSU-UCI," but made no direct reference to MSU and only one reference to Alkalima.

Other events include a Nov. 17 "general assembly" meeting, Qur'an/Tajweed classes on Oct. 15 and Nov. 17, a Dawah table on Oct. 27, and a poster-making party to advertise an anti-Israel event. These events and meetings are identical to the types of programming that MSU previously offered.

The MSU website still has a link to an event that it planned to hold before it was suspended. That link, for "UCI College Day 2010," links to a Wordpress blog titled "Alkalima: Muslim Students at UCI." The blog advertises the same event, "UCI College Day 2010" as an Alkalima event.

In October, Alkalima hosted "Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner's Guide," an event which was cosponsored by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at UCI. The event was advertised on MSU's email listserv without any mention of the fact that the event was not an MSU event. Furthermore, MSU has hosted similar anti-Israel events in the past including, "Israeli Apartheid Week: A Call to Boycott, Divest, and Sanction Israel," "Death to Apartheid," on May 13, 2010; "Apartheid is Real," on May 13, 2010; "The Gaza Invasion," on May 11, 2010.

At the "Israeli Apartheid" event in October, speaker Ben White called Israel an apartheid regime that acted with the intention of maintaining domination over Palestinians. White, a journalist and author of "Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner's Guide," also called the Israeli settlements colonies, and claimed that Israel acts with a colonialist's frame of mind.

The MSU is a chapter of the national Muslim Students Association (MSA), a group formed by Muslim Brotherhood members who came to the United States in the 1960s to attend universities here. The Brotherhood is an Islamist revivalist movement based in Egypt, and MSA chapters have a history of radical ideology.

The UCI chapter of MSU has been named in 13 incidents of alleged harassment of Jewish students between 2000 and 2006, records show. A May 2008 MSU event called "Never Again? The Palestinian Holocaust" seemed "intended to encourage violence against the State of Israel and propagate the spread of anti-Semitism," wrote U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Cal., in a letter to UC, Irvine's chancellor. In 2009, UCI forwarded a claim to the FBI to "investigate claims that funds raised at an event organized by the university's Muslim Student Union were used to help Hamas."

Alkalima has published radical articles and opinion articles that legitimize terrorist actions. A 2004 opinion article lauded Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hizballah. The same article referred to Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmad Yassin and Hamas former senior leader Abd Al-Aziz Al-Rantisi as martyrs.

The MSU suspension is scheduled to end December 10. The organization is eligible to reapply to become a recognized student organization for the upcoming quarter that starts on January 3.

IPT News

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Islamophobic Yodeling

by Adam Turner

Austrian "hate speech" prosecutors are very busy these days. In addition to going after Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff for "prejudicial incitement," i.e., criticizing Islam and Sharia laws at a seminar, the Austrians found the time to crack down on yet another "Islamophobic" miscreant, a 63 year old Austrian retiree.

"Helmut G. was busy on Friday afternoon, mowing his grass. 'And because I was just in such a good mood, I yodeled along with it and sang a few songs,' says the retiree, speaking to the Styrian Crown. That was not all right with his neighbors — believing Muslims. They had gathered in their house at prayer hour, which was also broadcast into their yard by loudspeaker... Consequently, several of them felt disturbed in their religious exercises by the grass-mowing 63-year old — and promptly reported him to the police. 'In the statement it said that my yodeling sounded like the call of the muezzin,' Helmut G. shook his head, bewildered. 'It was definitely not my intention to imitate him,' the Graz native assures us. The court did not believe him and sentenced him to a fat fine."

In a way, I am glad that the Austrians have helped to flesh out further the debate regarding Islam and Islamism. As you know, LP works to protect the right to comment on radical Islam, terrorism and related issues without fear of legal retaliation. It is often hard to discuss such politically charged topics without knowing exactly what the rules of the debate are. At the very least, we need to determine how far we can go before violating them and/or if we are going to be violating them. So, it is probably a good thing that in the past two decades, in a piecemeal, case-by-case fashion, the elites of the European nations – and to a lesser extent, the US – have been steadily compiling and revealing the rules of discussion regarding Islam, radical Islam, and Islamist terrorism to educate ordinary folks like you and me. These rules apparently include the following:

Violating any of these rules – in the US and in Europe – is, according to the elites, a clear sign of "Islamophobia." Violating any of these rules – in Europe alone – is also a sign of criminality.

So, thanks to the Austrians, we now know that we should add "thou shalt not yodel along with the call of the muezzin" as another rule to be followed. And I, for one, am thankful for this addition. Who knew that "Islamophobic Yodeling" was a problem?

Adam Turner

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

The Hypocrisy of a Peace Process

by P. David Hornik

Israeli media headlined on Wednesday, and AP even reported [1], that the State Department had admonished a Palestinian Authority official for claiming that Jews have no real connection to the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Instead, PA Deputy Information Minister Al-Mutawakel Taha had written [2] in an official PA “study” that the 2000-year-old Western Wall of Herod’s Temple, which predates Islam by about six centuries, is actually an Islamic waqf (religious endowment).

State Department spokesman P. J. Crowley called this “factually incorrect, insensitive and highly provocative.” He added: “We have repeatedly raised with the Palestinian Authority leadership the need to consistently combat all forms of delegitimization of Israel, including denying historic Jewish connections to the land.”

If, though, the U.S. has repeatedly raised such issues with the PA, it has been very quiet about it. That was why Crowley’s unusual public rebuke drew such notice.

Even so, there was less here than meets the eye. The news about Taha’s “study” broke on Monday last week, and since then it has been roundly condemned by Jewish organizations and members of Congress. Yet it took the administration till Tuesday—eight days after the fact—to get around to doing so, leading the PA to remove the study from an official website while still claiming hackers were responsible [3].

This contrasts with President Obama’s recent instantaneous criticism [4] of Israel from the venue of Muslim Indonesia for announcing plans to build homes in Jerusalem for Jews. And that was only one of many such cases, most notably the administration’s fierce temper tantrum [5] at Israel—also for plans for Jewish housing in Jerusalem—last March.

That said, there is a method to the administration’s madness.

If, after all, one buys the Palestinians’ claim that Jewish building in Jerusalem is an obstacle to peace, one is likely to be blind—or willfully blind—to the Islamic supremacism from which such a claim stems.

And that it is Islamic supremacism has become clear in recent weeks to all but the most staunchly self-deceiving Israelis. First UNESCO endorsed Palestinian claims [6] that the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem—shrines to the archetypal mothers and fathers of the Jewish nation—are “Palestinian” and the latter, indeed, a mosque [7].

From there it was only one further step to de-Judaizing, and Islamicizing, the Western Wall itself.

In other words, the reason the PA doesn’t like Jewish building—either current or ancient—in Jerusalem is that it doesn’t like the Jewish presence in the land at all.

Such an insight could, of course, shed light on why the “peace process” is nowhere and enable the administration to stop pressuring and berating Israel in the name of a chimera.

It could also clarify the link between the growing persecution of Christians [8]in Iraq, Egypt, the Palestinian Authority, and elsewhere in the Middle East and the fundamental Palestinian rejection of Israel.

It is hard, though, to imagine the State Department, or the president, undergoing such a conceptual shift. More likely Crowley’s words were but a flash in the pan, prompted by a tide of anger at the PA that had risen too high to just ignore.

Some illusions can’t be dislodged even when reality stares them in the face.

Article printed from FrontPage Magazine:

URL to article:

URLs in this post:

[1] reported:

[2] written:

[3] while still claiming hackers were responsible:

[4] instantaneous criticism:

[5] fierce temper tantrum:

[6] endorsed Palestinian claims:

[7] mosque:,_a_Jewish_Holy_Place,_Was_Never_a_Mosque

[8] growing persecution of Christians :

P. David Hornik

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The Presidency that Saved America

by Peter Heck

In fifty years I have little doubt that we will regard the administration of Barack Obama as the presidency that saved America. No, not in the sense that Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, and all the other media John the Baptists foretold as they proclaimed the coming of our political messiah just over two years ago. Rather, the history of our time will show that it was the radical nature of Obama's dogged devotion to a liberal progressive philosophy far out of the American mainstream that jolted awake a generation of apathetic and passive citizens just in time to save the republic.

Though that apathy has always been inexcusable, it was at least understandable. Our politics had become more theater than substance. In fact, voters reasonably began to view their choices at the ballot box as something akin to picking between airline food and hospital food: bland, insipid, uninspiring.

For all their posturing and crowing, the two parties had largely become mere reflections of one another. Seriously, how different was Bill Clinton's "triangulation" and George W. Bush's "compassionate conservatism?" Candidates of either party who showed convictions contrary to the Washington establishment and challenged that establishment's control were labeled radical, and every attempt was made to marginalize them.

But Barack Obama changed all of that. For the last two years, the President has unleashed the most aggressively left-wing agenda he could muster. When the electorate began a backlash against his revolutionary designs at town halls and tea parties, he ignored them. And when they rejected his ideology by throwing his party out of power by historic proportions in the midterm elections, he pretended not to notice, or that he was misunderstood.

All this makes little sense to those attempting to view Obama's presidency through the conventional prism of political leadership. But Obama is not a conventional politician. He is a radical ideologue. Obama is not a leader. He is a bitter partisan. And as odd as it sounds, that is exactly what this country needed.

It has been generations since Americans have been exposed to a more vivid depiction of the significant differences between the left's and the right's views of this country and its future. The delineation between conservative and liberal had grown hopelessly blurred to a majority of citizens. But Obama and his leftist cabal have been successful not only in demonstrating the frightening vision progressive liberals have of making America into a European-style socialist state, but they have also managed to animate a vast conservative majority that has laid painfully dormant since the mid 1980s.

The distinction is glaring, and even for those who normally avoid politics, impossible to miss.

While Americans watch conservative Republicans like Eric Cantor explain that raising taxes on any citizens in the midst of a recession (particularly those who are being relied upon to invest and expand businesses to create jobs) is foolish, they see President Obama proclaim that "we can't afford" not to raise taxes on a group of citizens he determines are too wealthy.

Besides the glaring proof this offers of the left's obsession with using divisive class warfare to gain power, it also reveals a notable difference in philosophy. While conservatives like Cantor believe money belongs first to the citizen and is confiscated by government, leftists like Obama believe money belongs first to the government. That government then lets select citizens keep some of it...if and only if government "can afford" to be so generous.

Further, when Americans open their newspapers, they are greeted with the wise counsel of Obamabots like Tom Friedman and Paul Krugman. Friedman's recent piece in the New York Times called the Tea Party movement "narrow and uninspired" while touting that, "We need to raise gasoline and carbon taxes to discourage their use and drive the creation of a new clean energy industry." Krugman, meanwhile, laments that the waste of nearly one trillion taxpayer dollars on a government spending bill meant to stimulate a still stagnant economy wasn't enough, and should be followed up with an even bigger second stimulus.

Everywhere they turn, Americans see that the left is offering higher taxes, less freedom, more debt and regulation. They simultaneously see the right offering lower taxes, freer markets and fiscal sanity.

Voters' first opportunity to choose between those two visions occurred in the 2010 midterms. Their preference was unmistakable -- to everyone, that is, except Barack Obama. His recent pronouncement that, "It would be unwise to assume [the voters] prefer one way of thinking over another," reconfirmed that the president and his cohorts have no desire whatsoever to alter course, and instead will spend the next two years butting heads with the newly elected conservative majority. This conflict is sure to make the distinction between the left and the right all the more clear to an engaged American public.

And with a 2012 election cycle that already sees Democrats poised to face even more devastating Congressional losses (they are defending far more Senate seats than Republicans, and could lose upward of 30 House seats due to redistricting), Obama's persistent, unapologetic left-wing crusade is shaping up to be the political equivalent to Pickett's Charge.

In the end, the era of Obama will do more damage to the progressive left than any Republican presidency could have ever done. For that, posterity will owe him a debt of gratitude.

Peter Heck
is a public high school government teacher and radio talk show host in central Indiana. Email or visit

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

Euro-Freedom Watch

by J. E. Dyer

With little fanfare, the EU adopted new legislation this week that makes “certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia” criminal offenses — and allows individual EU nations to prosecute the citizens of other nations for those offenses. And no, it’s not European anti-Americanism that’s being targeted by the xenophobia provisions. Advocates of free speech in Europe are quite clear that what the new law will criminalize is analytical, factual, or hortatory discussion of Islam and Sharia by non-Muslims.

Their conclusion is bolstered by recent events. Geert Wilders of the Netherlands is only the most famous of several Europeans who have faced criminal charges for speaking critically of Islam. Another is Austrian journalist and activist Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, whose trial for “hate speech” opened in Vienna on November 23. Take a moment to read publicized transcripts of the proceedings; it is worth understanding that Sabaditsch-Wolff is being tried, literally, for quoting both the Koran and an authoritative work on Sunni law, and expressing criticism of the social institutions condoned in those religious texts.

She is not a cartoonist lampooning Muhammad, something most Westerners would recognize as less than respectful even if they didn’t all agree that it was “offensive.” Sabaditsch-Wolff quotes the texts of Islam seriously and accurately; she objects to their implications, but she doesn’t poke fun at them. However, as Ned May observes at Andrew Breitbart’s Big Peace:

It has been well-established in a number of jurisdictions — including several in the West — that a non-Muslim who quotes the Koran accurately can still be convicted of “hate speech”. This aligns with the definition of Islamic slander (also to be found in [Sunni law document] Reliance) which considers anything that insults Islam, whether true or false, to be defamation.

The author at the pseudonymous Daphne Anson blog (top link) wonders what will happen if Turkey is finally admitted to the EU, given the newly approved framework allowing cross-border prosecutions in Europe. But I am inclined to wonder how the other nations will react to being in the same union with Austria and the Netherlands, which have already shown a willingness to prosecute free speech as a hate crime. The charges against Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff are centered on questions like these, brought up one after another on the first day of her trial:

10:53: The judge inquires if we are talking about Islamic extremism, or of Islam as such?

Elisabeth explains that we are talking Islam as such, as defined by its scripture, and quotes Erdogan that there is no moderate Islam anyway.

The intellectual basis for her certainty (or the judge’s, for that matter) is not the issue here, nor should it be. The issue is that she is being prosecuted for forensic, critical investigation of Islam: for advancing opinions we hear argued nightly on American TV talk shows. The most basic of intellectual freedoms — attributing facts to sources and expressing opinions about them — is in the process of being criminalized in parts of the EU. Free-speech advocates fear that the new Framework Decision on Racism and Xenophobia will spread this trend toward criminalization across borders throughout Europe. They are justified in their concern.

J. E. Dyer

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

The Viennese Waltz: Austria Dances Around Issue of Nuclear Iran

by Diana Gregor

Europe is willingly swallowing Iran's nuclear non-compliance. Austria, which joined the EU in 1995, is comfortably taking a big gulp too.

Vienna has become a hub of operations for the Iranian Quds force, an elite brigade within the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Due to the fact that OPEC, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, is headquartered in Vienna, Austria has long been at the center of Iranian covert activities. Quds agents are believed to purchase dual-use equipment and technology, which can be used as components for Iran's nuclear weapons development program. Austrian agencies are said to be reluctant to cooperate with allied intelligence services.

The Iranian nuclear program and Iran's hidden nuclear agenda have not only brought about an imbalance in the Middle East and in the Gulf Region, but have also created a critical situation with regard to security throughout the world. The developments of the past years, and Iran's current nuclear policies, do not point toward a change of heart.

Recently, Tehran proved once again that it is in total control of its nuclear aspirations by repeatedly postponing talks with the P5+1 (the permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany). The West is apparently willing to submit to yet another round of Iran's special brand of diplomacy, which consists of indicating openness to renew negotiations, while at the same time asserting that there is nothing to talk about.

Austria is a small country, not necessarily among the key players when it comes to negotiating with the Iranians, but in recent times Vienna has gained relevance ever since Austria became a non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.

Austria has accrued a reputation of being soft on Iran, ever since it joined forces with Italy in 2008 to head, within the European Union, a group against additional pressures and measures against the Islamic Republic. Since then, public pressure on Austria has continuously mounted. The United States, Great Britain and France have all complained about Vienna's "slack" position.

Recently, a diplomat based in Vienna was quoted as saying: "It is a typically Viennese thing; not looking too closely and allowing things to go on as long as Austria has nothing at stake. Vienna is a weak link when it comes to sanctions."

There are approximately 680 Austrian companies that have business dealings with Iranian companies or the Iranian state. Around 35 Austrian companies have branch offices in Iran; another 500 have business dealings with the Islamic Republic every now

and then. Today, only a few speak publicly about their involvement with Iran. In 2006, the Iranian Chamber of Trade President Khamoushi even went so far as to say "Austria is our gateway to the European Union."

As a result of the global financial crisis, Austria's total worldwide exports shrank by 20% last year. Meanwhile, the country's exports to Iran grew by 6%.

The international community is faced with a dilemma consisting of two scenarios: Attack Iran militarily before it produces a nuclear weapon, or gains the parts with which to construct one - or live with an Iranian bomb.

Although the past seven years have shown that Iran does not react to diplomacy without preconditions, and indicate that Iran is negotiating merely as a means of buying time, top-ranking British, French and German politicians are quite vocal about new Iran sanctions, Austria, however, remains silent. In recent years, Austria has repeatedly contributed to keeping the Iranian regime from international isolation, and has not helped with taking steps toward destroying the economic basis of the dictatorship of the Ayatollahs and the Revolutionary Guards.

Austria's responsibility reaches far beyond the implementation of tough Iran sanctions. Austria needs to jump on the bandwagon and realize that for the future stability of Europe -- not to be subjected to blackmail by nuclear threats -- the Islamic Republic must abolish its nuclear weapons development program: Iran must be stopped.

Diana Gregor

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

Egyptians Blame Obama

by Khaled Abu Toameh

With the Egyptian parliamentary election of November 28, Obama has now sent a message to Arabs and Muslims that his administration cares more about despotic and corrupt regimes than about democracy. It is precisely this support for dictatorships like Mubarak that is driving many Arabs and Muslims into the open arms of radical Islamist groups such as Al-Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.

In the Palestinian parliamentary election of January 2006 in the Palestinian teritories, many Palestinians voted for Hamas as a way of punishing the Western-backed corrupt regime of Fatah. There is no doubt that what happened with the Palestinians would repeat itself if free and democratic elections were held these days in most of the Arab and Islamic countries.

Egyptians blame Obama for failing to fulfill his commitment to spreading democracy. Obama's reluctance to send a strong message to the Egyptian regime encouraged Mubarak to launch a massive and brutal crackdown on his political rivals and critics long before the election was held.

Radical Islam will one day take control over most of the Arab and Islamic countries, whether through free elections, as was the case with Hamas, or through a revolution, as Khomeini did in Iran. But one must not be naïve: Muslim fundamentalists will rise to power also because of their growing popularity in the Arab and Islamic countries.

The Arabs have a proverb, "If you have no shame then do whatever you want." Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak, who has long been presiding over one of the Arab world's most corrupt and repressive regimes, has once again shown that he has no shame by stealing the vote in Egypt's parliamentary election.

But one would be doing injustice to Mubarak by singling him out; the proverb applies to nearly all the corrupt dictators in the Arab and Islamic world.

Yet even by Egyptian standards, the feeling in Egypt and the rest of the Arab world is that Mubarak this time exaggerated when he virtually wiped out the opposition. It would have been better, for example, had Mubarak allowed the rest of the world to see the real power of the Muslim Brotherhood in his country.

The Egyptian dictator is actually deceiving the world by pretending that Muslim extremists do not exist in Egypt.

Human rights activists and political activists say the election was held in an atmosphere of terror and intimidation. Some have gone as far as describing the election as "probably the most fraudulent in Egypt's history."

But many Egyptians and Arabs are not as angry with Mubarak as much as they are with the US Administration of President Barack Obama.

At least 1,000 supporters of opposition parties were rounded up in the run-up to the election.

The Obama Administration had almost nothing to say in response. It also failed to respond in a firm manner when Mubarak ignored Washington's request to allow full monitoring by independent observers.

Not that anyone was expecting Washington to send US troops to ensure a free and fair election, but the Americans could have at least issued a public condemnation that would have put some pressure on Mubarak.

Mubarak defended his decision to ban international monitors by arguing that their presence would have constituted an infringement of Egypt's sovereignty; but the presence of the monitors would at least have disrupted Mubarak's plan to steal the vote.

A few weeks before the scandalous election, President Obama, after a meeting with the Egyptian tyrant, called for "credible and transparent elections;" and in a recent speech at the United Nations, he announced that, "democracy, more than any other form of government, delivers for our citizens."

Now the Obama Administration is saying that it is "disappointed" in the way Egypt conducted the parliamentary election.

White House National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer was quoted as saying that the US is assessing reports of problems that include polling irregularities, a lack of international monitors and "the many problems encountered by domestic monitors."

In his June 2009 speech in Cairo, President Obama pledged his commitment to democracy: "I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn't steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose."

But by allowing Mubarak to confiscate the will of some 80 million Egyptians, President Obama has lost his credibility, or what is left of it, among Arabs and Muslims.

Khaled Abu Toameh

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

Friday, December 3, 2010

Vice President Biden Rewrites History - To Our and Our Allies' Peril

by Peter Huessy

Why does the new START treaty hang in the balance? In part, because missile defense advocates, who spent years pressing the US to adopt such weapons, are now ridiculed as having pushed the wrong systems with the wrong countries -- even though all currently planned defenses are precisely those first acquired and deployed by these same missile defense advocates.

The administration, including the Vice President, has ironically adopted, in large part, the regional missile defense program and policy of the Bush administration, while rejecting key aspects of its national defense of our continental United States.

As the Vice President wrote (Wall Street Journal, November 24 ), the administration's new NATO-wide missile defense plan protects more countries from more ballistic missile threats than the plan of the previous administration and is therefore proof of the benefits of our "reset" policy with Russia. He further explains that missile defense and arms control go together, further proving the correctness of administration's policy.

Things are not so simple. A certain amount of rewriting history goes on in any administration, but wholesale invention does not constitute a justifiable defense policy.

What has been left out of the Vice President's retelling of history is that the European system, killed by this administration, was planned to protect all of Europe and America -- not from Iranian short- and medium-range missiles but from long-range Iranian missiles. The argument from missile defense critics, including from then-Senator Biden and many of his colleagues, was that Iran was not building such missiles. Therefore, they said, there was no need to build a defense as had been planned for Poland, along with complimentary radar for the Czech Republic.

What the administration has done is to delay any further deployment in Europe that would deal with long-range Iranian missiles until 2020 at the earliest.

In the view of many, Russia sees missile defenses, whether by NATO collectively or by the US singularly, as a threat to its hegemonic aims. Ten years ago, Congressman Weldon proposed that the US encourage Russia to look westward and seek friendship and alliance with America and her allies. On balance, Russia has certainly not gone in that direction. Its nuclear weapons doctrine is scary; and its bullying of its neighbors continues, as do its threats to deploy nuclear weapons aimed at or NATO ally, Poland.

The defense of Europe from Iranian medium- and short-range ballistic missiles -- generally with a range upwards of 2500 kilometers -- is to be achieved through the deployment of Navy Aegis cruisers in the Mediterranean, Black, Adriatic and/or Baltic Seas, along with "navy Aegis ashore." This is true, as the Vice President states, but was all proposed by President George W. Bush.

Let us go back a few years. At a missile defense conference in the summer of 2000, then-Senator Biden called missile defense unnecessary and a waste of defense dollars. Standing just feet away, he claimed that any missile strike aimed at the United States would be met with massive US retaliation. Deterrence, he assured us, was fully capable of defending the United States from ballistic missile threats. Missile defenses, he warned, were incompatible with arms control, especially reductions in nuclear weapons. The need to deploy such defenses, he said, was simply not justified.

Let us have a close look. The Aegis cruisers and their standard missile interceptors -- the backbone of the NATO-wide phased adaptive missile defense now being proposed -- were first deployed and first acquired by the Bush administration. Countless efforts by such members of Congress as Senator Jon Kyl, the current minority whip in the US Senate, and former Representative Congressman Curt Weldon, then chair of a key subcommittee on the Armed Services Committee, to add funding to the Aegis accounts were repeatedly opposed by missile defense critics. Now these opponents are taking credit for what they once opposed. Welcome aboard, Mr. Vice President.

The creative proposal to take Aegis interceptors and place them on land -- simpler and more cost-effective -- was proposed in the FY2007 defense budget by former Director of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) General Trey Obering. That proposal, says the Vice President, will bear fruit sometime around 2018-2020 -- later than envisioned by the previous administration but nonetheless going forward. – and another old proposal for which the current administration is now taking credit.

It is true such systems are to be complimented through the deployment of Army-centric systems such as THAAD and Patriot, with our Gulf State allies and our NATO partners, either as US deployed systems on US military bases or as NATO-member owned and operated systems. Yet it should be noted that all this was planned, proposed and funded by the previous administration, although some additional or expanded deployments have been agreed to.

The current administration has indeed secured NATO's blessing for such deployments, which is to be commended, just as the previous administration secured both NATO's concurrence that all ballistic missile threats needed to be addressed by all NATO countries, and that NATO should begin planning and developing a doctrine and policy to deploy necessary missile defenses.

We should remember that when the Bush administration took office in 2000, the US inventory of ballistic missile interceptors was zero. NATO had no regional deployments. At the end of 2008, however, the number of interceptors deployed by the US and its allies approached 1000-1200; and, under its final defense budget plans, was to reach in excess of 1400-1600 interceptors, worldwide, including for our allies.

One current senior administration official at the time described the proposed deployment as nothing more than a "high school science project". Another high-ranking official now in the White House then actively worked in Europe to stop the deployment. Some US critics even said the Czech radar would cause birth defects in children. (MDA says the planned two-stage rocket interceptor for Poland did "work").

Most critics joined with the Russians in claiming the proposed 10 interceptors in Poland would actually undermine Russia's strategic deterrent. However, as General Obering said repeatedly at the time, the interceptors could not physically intercept Russian missiles even if we tried to do so. In simulations, the missiles were not even given a firing solution by the computers because no such interception was possible. The computers understood what missile defense critics did not.

While any administration leaves defense plans for the next administration, the Bush joint proposal with Poland and the Czech Republic, if not delayed by its critics, could have been deployed by 2015, some five years earlier than the new plan now being put on the table. This is significant in that a United States Air Force assessment has determined that Iran will have both an intercontinental ballistic missile (long-range capability) and a nuclear weapons capability by 2015.

Not only did the administration eliminate the deal with Poland and the Czech Republic, it also curtailed the existing missile defense interceptors in California and Alaska. That deployment was cut from 54 planned missiles to 30, a not insignificant reduction. Nowhere in the Vice President's essay was there any reference to providing further protection of the continental United States from Iranian missiles than the batteries we now have. And that is the real change in administration missile defense policy that is in part at the heart of the Senate concerns over the new START treaty.

Ironically, just above Mr. Biden's essay on page A17 of the Wall Street Journal of November 24, was an extraordinary essay by Will Toby and Michael Green--former senior Bush administration officials--, which reveals the extent to which US policy repeatedly, downplayed the North Korean nuclear threat. The essay brings into stark relief how US policy has done the same with respect to the Mullahs missiles.

That then brings us to the role of Russia, and others certainly, in helping the US stop Iran's missile and nuclear programs. And true, it is certainly to the administration's credit that Russia has both cooperated in allowing its airspace to be used for our resupply of forces in Afghanistan and pulled back from supplying Iran with its S-300 air defenses. And Russia voted in the UN for additional sanctions on Iran. All good things.

But the rest of the story needs to be told as well. According to Ilan Berman, Vice President of the American Foreign Policy Council, Russia deliberately interfered with our existing Afghani supply routes so are offering help to a problem it deliberately created. Russia built the Bushehr nuclear reactor, which Tehran cites as a reason for its uranium enrichment facility. Russia supplied military radar equipment to Iran through intermediaries Belarus and Venezuela, according to Stratfor. And according to Global Security Newswire, Russia has repeatedly helped Iran and North Korea with ballistic missiles and nuclear technology. In addition, Russia was part of a plot to supply $300 million in arms to Hugo Chavez in Venezuela for the use of FARC and Hezbollah, while also supplying major military weapons to Syria, a US designated state sponsor of terrorism. "Reset celebrations" may be premature.

Although it is true, as the Vice President writes, that the proposed reductions in deployed nuclear warheads under the new START treaty to 1550 would bring our weapons down to levels not seen since the 1950s, this was also true of the reductions secured by the 2002 Moscow treaty agreed to by Russia and the United States during the previous administration. It was the Bush administration that proved, to the consternation of its critics, that robust missile defenses could be deployed while also significantly reducing nuclear weapons. The Moscow Treaty, we should remember, cut deployed nuclear weapons by 3800 or nearly 70%, while the new START treaty cuts deployed warheads 650 warheads, or by 16% of the previous number. At the same time, these reductions in nuclear weapons paralleled a rise in deployed missile defenses that have now are scheduled to reach over 1000.

Russia was repeatedly offered a cooperative role in the US and NATO missile defense deployments planned in the previous administration, but they apparently could not make up their minds what to do. When Putin implored President Bush for an arms control treaty to give Russia some breathing space, the US responded positively. Although it is true that we also at the same time pulled out of the ABM treaty, threats from rogue states such as North Korea and Iran were emerging, and no US President could accept limits on our defenses while such threats were imminent..

Russia now says there is no missile threat from Iran. Some analysts suggest Moscow is referring only to long-range threats. But even if that is so, Russia insists on being in control of such threat assessments and having an "equal share" in any missile defense deployments, while also complaining that its finger will not be on the "interceptor button."

While further nuclear weapons reductions may indeed be warranted, the most recent Moscow Treaty reductions -- now nearly fully implemented -- were considerably greater in scope but are invariably described as somehow part of a "decade of neglect." Perhaps part of a successful START ratification process would result if our recollection of history were more generous and less partisan, with an acknowledgment that even our political adversaries -- yesterday and today -- have accomplished some crucially important things.

Peter Huessy

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

The Centrality of Tradition in Sunni Muslim Society

by Hagai Mazuz

Although there is a debate among scholars of Islam and the Muslim world as to whether Islam is the most important factor in the daily lives of all Muslims, irrespective of nationality, people in the Western world find it hard to accept that medieval texts can dictate the daily routine of other societies -- a result of mirror imaging, of assuming that everyone is "just like us," from which Westerners suffer when they try to understand the Muslim world.

For Muslims, Muḥammed was the ideal Muslim. Sunni Muslims believe that they should model their behavior and pattern their lives after his. This means blindly imitating his habits, practices, and lifestyle whether they understand why he did what he did or not. This is called the Sunna (in Arabic, The Way of Life). In it, how the perfect man – Muhammed -- acted is how all Muslims should act; those who imitate Muḥammed are called Sunnis.

Nevertheless, the second Caliph, 'Umar, who reigned from 634-644, did not accept these givens at face value. According to one Muslim tradition, for example, he went to the Ka'ba during the Hajj -- the required pilgrimage to Mecca -- and, addressing the square, stone Ka'ba around which one os supposed to walk three times, said: "Oh Allah! I know that you [the Ka'ba] are nothing but a stone, which cannot harm and cannot help, but since I saw the Messenger of Allah [Muḥammed] touching and kissing you, I am also doing this just because he did so. Then he said: "This is something that Muḥammed did and we will never not abandon it." [Saḥiḥ al-Bukhari, volume II (Cairo, 1953), p. 419].

Why did the Muslims not hide this strange and embarrassing tradition? 'Umar's reaction could make others question it and could lead them to apostasy or internal dissent within the young Muslim community.

After all, circumambulating and touching the Ka'ba is a central part of the Ḥajj, and constitutes one of the five basic pillars of Islam. Non-Muslims could easily use this curious tradition in their polemical arguments against Islam

The purpose of this ḥadīth [Muslim tradition] is to teach the Muslims that although 'Umar understood this problem as a contradiction between logic and faith, he preferred to follow the faith in the Sunna of Muḥammed -- which is what all Muslims are instructed to do: to accept things on faith, even if these things might appear odd or irrational.

People would later ask the great Muslim scholar, Ibn Taymiyya, why did he refuse to eat watermelon? He would reply that this was because he could not find any tradition that described how Muḥammed handled watermelon seeds. Ibn Taymiyya apparently decided it was best not to eat watermelon -- avoiding the problem altogether.

Lately, Mahmoud Abu Tir, a senior Hamas leader recently released from an Israeli prison, told an Israeli TV reporter that the reason he dyes his beard with henna is because this is what Muḥammed did: Muslim tradition teaches that Muḥammed ordered the Muslims to dye their beards with henna to differentiate themselves from the Jews and the Christians, who did not do so.

Another example of the power of following Muḥammed's Sunna occurred a few years ago in Bahrain. According to Bahraini law, girls cannot be married before the age of 16. When one man in his 30s married a 10-year-old girl, the authorities put him on trial. In court, the defendant showed the judge a ḥadīth according to which Muḥammed married his favorite wife, 'Aisha, when she was only eight years old (some say nine). "If Muḥammed did it," the defendant told the judge, "clearly a Muslim is allowed to marry a 10-year-old girl." Further, the defendant told the judge: "If you are saying that what I have done is wrong, then you are basically saying that what Muḥammed did was wrong." The judge acquitted the defendant. Sunna law trumped Bahraini secular law. The International Center for Research on Women estimates that there are 51 million child-brides; almost all of these marriages take place in Muslim countries.

These are only a few anecdotes which demonstrate the strength and influence of the Sunna in the lives of the Muslims. Muhammed created the Muslim community in his image: Islam is the embodiment of Muḥammed's actions, character and soul.

Islam deals with every aspect of Muslim life; as such, it is not just a guide for purely religious matters such as prayer, charity, and pilgrimage. It also deals with political, social, and business matters, and even enters the bedroom.

People in the West believe in the separation of church (religion) and state; people in Islam do not. Islam dominates all aspects of life. Allah's truth is final, as are Allah's demands, which he transmitted to mankind via his messenger, Muḥammed.

The desire to imitate Muḥammed's lifestyle explains both Muslim attitudes towards non-Muslims, and how institutions like Jihād were created. From the time Muḥammed fled Mecca for Medina in 622 until his death in 632, he and his followers engaged in military campaigns against those who refused to accept him as a prophet. The Islamic nation (the Umma) was forged in war, led by Muḥammed, whom Muslims strive to imitate with all their hearts and souls.

With the fundamentalists' view of Muḥammed, it is hard to see how, given the present circumstances, Islam and the non-Muslim world can come to a compromise in which both sides live peacefully together. Sadly, if things continue as they are, we may well witness a major confrontation between the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds, as already can be seen in the current persecutions of Christians in, for example, the Sudan, Egypt and Iraq.

Only after such confrontations, and a defeat for the Muslim fundamentalists, maybe then, and only then, can Muslims who do not view Muḥammed as their sole model, and who wish to implement other views, have a chance to do so.

Hagai Mazuz

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

Al-Shabaab's New Recruitment Video

by IPT News

Al-Shabaab, the Somali terrorist group that has recruited members in several U.S. cities, has broadened its appeal in a new recruiting video.
"O' Muslim youth around the world, do not forget the call of your brothers in Somalia, as their condition calls out, 'O' emigrants, O' emigrants. So is there anyone to respond?" said the voice of Shaykh Saleh Al-Nubhani, also known as Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, the deceased leader of Al-Shabaab.

Al-Shabaab's latest recruitment video, "An Invitation to the Lands of Jihad and Ribat," is dubbed in English and Somali to resonate with Muslim youth abroad. Although this is not Al-Shabaab's first video appeal to attract foreign fighters, it shows a new emphasis on targeting vulnerable youth from the Somali exile as well as East African nationals inspired by Al-Shabaab's vision of an Islamic state.

It's also not a call to liberate the country from the Ethiopian army invasion in 2009, a cause that had broad appeal among many groups of Somalis, or a typical al-Qaida style video calling for attacks on America. Such clips have been released by American Al-Shabaab recruiter, Omar Hammami, for several years now. In combination with personal recruiting, these videos have drawn Somali youth from as far as Minnesota and Australia. However, they have been limited to audience that is already drawn to the message of jihad.

The new clip represents a different tactic, one that broadens the appeal of a life of jihad to a new audience. The clips of military training and triumphant victory parades are also overlaid with fighters from all over the world calling out to their religious brothers in English, Swedish, Swahili and many other languages.

They talk about defending the rights of Muslims, but not of bringing the fight to America's shores. They also talk about creating an ideal society based on Islamic law. However, despite differences in the speakers' languages and presentation, the overall message is consistent. The West is fighting a war against Islam and Somalia needs help at the frontline.

"What are you waiting for O' youth?" Al-Nubhani said on the video. "If you do not fight Jihad today then when will you? O Muslim youth, free your brothers from the darkness of oppression and the brutality of the enemy blows. Search for death and you will attain life. Come to jihad, you will gain honor in this life and the next."

The appeals to fight against the enemies of the Muslims in Somalia have already drawn young men from a variety of places and communities. In particular, the effect on the Somali Diaspora community has been persuasive, where dozens of youth have abandoned their adopted nationalities and returned to protect their ancestral homeland.

This video takes recruiting Somali exiles and foreigners to a new level.
Al-Shabaab's current spokesman, Ali Mohammad Rage, welcomes those fighters who have already arrived and praises them as family. "Allah has blessed us out of His bounty with a handful of noble Muhajireen, emigrants," he declares. "We rejoice at their arrival and are happy to honor them… we pledge to Allah to protect them with our blood, and to carry them upon our shoulders, and protect them from that which we protect ourselves and our families."

Islamist warrior Abu Dayana also pulls on the heartstrings of other English speakers, laying out the significance of the fight in a thick British accent. His speech is, above all, a personal declaration. "I'd like to take my time to talk about the blessings of living in the land of jihad," he preached. "First of all, before some of us came here, we were living in a society where people were enslaved by their desires... then Allah guided us in coming to this land, so we may have a part in establishing a society where the laws of Allah will be implemented."

For him, Somalia was an Islamist paradise, "a place where our freedom and wealth won't be taken away from us because of our beliefs and working for our beliefs."
Beyond praising the glories of battle, Abu Dayana stresses the need for youth to take action. "I would like to take this opportunity to… invite all the Muslims that are living in the lands of disbelief, the lands of oppression, to make hijra [migration] to the land of glory, to the land of izza [power], to the land of jihad."

Alongside this invitation, which is repeated also in native tongues of East Africa and Pakistan, is the familiar voice of jihadist legend Abdullah Azzam. Not only does the video include audio of one of his speeches exhorting others to fight, but several speakers repeat messages that he popularized.
Azzam preached that jihad is a fard 'ayn, an individual obligation as important as daily prayer, which must be practiced by all Muslims.

He also derived the innovative concept that jihad was not a duty that stood apart from the pillars of Islamic practice, including prayer and pilgrimage, but rather that it was the highest form of worship.
It was his words that speakers like Abu Ja'far of Kenya declared, "Why don't you leap forth for this act of worship? Join us so that we can together fight the forces of Kufr, just as they have united together to fight the religion of Allah."

The same message is echoed in an audio clip by al-Qaida scholar Abu Yahya al-Libi.
Other lecturers in the video stress the general call to the front, but appeal most strongly to other East Africans. Abu Mu'adh calls upon Ethiopian Muslims, which include a large section of ethnic Somalis, "to cross the borders into Somalia and participate in jihad alongside your Muslim brothers." Kenyans speak of the need for Muslims to unite around Somalia, while a Sudanese warrior urges the Muslims of his home country to join the fight "until we end in Palestine."

One of the few fighters to address taking the fight to the West, in addition to coming to Somalia, is Abu Zaid of Sweden. In a mixture of Swedish and Arabic, he threatens Danish cartoonist Lars Vilks, who became the target of death threats for drawing the Islamic prophet Muhammad. "And I say to Lars Vilks, that where you are, if not today or tomorrow, know that we haven't yet forgotten about you." Drawing his finger across his throat, Abu Zaid threatened, "Know what awaits you, as it will be nothing but this, slaughter… and to my brothers and sisters, I call you to make Hijra [emigrate] Inshallah, and if you can, kill this dog Lars Vilks. Then you will receive a great reward from Allah."

Al-Shabaab spokesman Ali Muhammad Rage closes the video with a declaration. "We say to our family in East Africa, Welcome to Somalia. Hakuna Matata [there are no worries]."

IPT News

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

Israeli Firms See a Global Market for Their Anti-terrorism Know-how

by Edmund Sanders and Batsheva Sobelman

As the threat of terrorism spreads, Israel has turned domestic security technology into one of its biggest exports.

More than 400 Israeli companies export about $1.5 billion annually in domestic security goods and technology, including biometric devices, tear gas canisters, anti-intrusion systems, airport screening machines, explosives detectors and remote-controlled vehicles.

Among the offerings at a recent security expo in Tel Aviv was document-scanning software from IntuView that not only translates Arabic text but also searches for key words and phrases, including names, dates and Koranic verses commonly cited by extremists. Software engineer Amit Seker said the U.S. Army has bought the software.

"The proximity of Israeli culture to Islamic culture produces a better understanding of the issues," said Doron Havazelet, director of the new Homeland Security Institute at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

Edmund Sanders and Batsheva Sobelman (Los Angeles Times)

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

Israel, Gulf States Conducted Secret Diplomacy

by Eli Lake

Israel and its adversaries in the Persian Gulf in recent years carried out extensive secret diplomacy to coordinate policy and exchange information on the threat posed by Iran, despite both sides' public posture of mutual hostility.

A classified 2009 diplomatic cable disclosed this week provides a rare glimpse into the secret and often high-level diplomacy between Israel and Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, all countries that officially do not recognize the Jewish state.

Contrary to the condemnatory rhetoric opposing Israel in public, Arab diplomats behind the scenes have asked Israel to carry messages to the U.S. government and urged tougher action on Iran.

The March 19, 2009, cable quotes Yacov Hadas, deputy director of Israels Foreign Ministry, as telling an American diplomat: "The Gulf Arabs believe in Israel's role because of their perception of Israel's close relationship with the U.S., but also due to their sense that they can count on Israel against Iran."

Mr. Hadas then says, "They believe Israel can work magic."

Israel and the Gulf states have grown increasingly concerned in recent years about Iran's nuclear program and that country's support for radical political movements and terrorism throughout the Middle East.

The new disclosures by the website WikiLeaks coincide with other classified cables made public in recent days that show Arab leaders have been urging U.S. officials to take military action against Iran.

Throughout Israel's history, the state has maintained back channels to Arab governments, even on the eve of war and during a cold peace. Nonetheless, Jordan and Egypt are the only two Arab states that maintain formal diplomatic ties with Israel with full representation at the ambassador level.

That said, nearly every Arab state has had less-formal ties with Israel on and off since the beginning of the Oslo peace process in the 1990s, but those ties began to sever in 2000 with the collapse of the peace process.

Aaron David Miller, who has been a senior Middle East adviser to six secretaries of state, said every Arab country with the exception of Iraq under Saddam Hussein and Libya has had some diplomatic channel to Israel.

"With the exception of Iraq and Libya, I believe every member of the Arab League had some form of contact, informal or otherwise, with Israel up to 1996," Mr. Miller said. "This was through multilateral fora in some cases, the Middle East North African Economic Summit, for example, it was interest sections, and it was quiet contacts as well."

In January 2009, after Israel launched "Operation Cast Lead" against Hamas in Gaza, Qatar, the last Arab Gulf state to have open ties with Israel closed an Israeli trade office, leaving Israel with no open diplomatic channels to the Persian Gulf states that it used during the 1990s.

But as the 2009 cable shows, by March of that year, the Qataris already invited an Israeli delegation back to Doha to discuss reopening the trade mission.

Nonetheless, that same month, the queen of Qatar, Mozah Bint Nasser al Missned, hired a U.S. public relations firm, Fenton Communications, to run a public-awareness campaign in America to highlight the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza.

Mr. Hadas argued that Qatar's position on Iran was less than ideal, but did not reflect a fundamental change in its foreign policy. He even noted that Egyptian and Saudi pressure on Qatar seemed to be having an effect on the kingdom's approach to Iran.

Israel has had access to the highest levels of the Qatari government. The memo discloses, for example, that Israel has contacts with Qatar's emir, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, also known as Prince Hamad.

"Prince Hamad had told the Israelis in October 2006 that he believed Iran was determined to develop a nuclear bomb no matter the cost," the cable says. "According to Hadas, Hamad complained at the time that he felt the U.S. would not listen to him and tended to believe what it heard from Iran."

The leaked cable says former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni had "good personal relations" with Sheik Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Mr. Hadas said the UAE was "increasingly hostile" to Iran, but also noted that the Emirates allowed Iran to launder its money and had extensive financial dealings with the country. The Emiratis are "not ready to do publicly what they say in private," the cable quotes Mr. Hadas as saying.

In February, the police chief of Dubai, an emirate in the UAE, publicly accused Israel's Mossad of assassinating a Hamas arms dealer named Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.

Diplomats from the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia declined to comment for this article. A spokesman for the Israeli Embassy also declined to comment.

Other Israeli diplomats did, however, tell The Washington Times that Israeli officials have looked to coordinate some aspects of Iran policy with Arab states in private meetings in Europe and on the sidelines of international meetings. For example, Israelis have shared information with Gulf states on weapons and high-tech shipments bound for Iran, these diplomats said.

At the end of the cable, the American diplomat told Mr. Hadas that Arab leaders tell the United States that progress in the peace process "would make it easier for them to publicly engage Israel."

Mr. Hadas countered, "The Israeli-Palestinian track should not serve as an excuse for the Gulf to avoid action, whether against Iran or through practical steps to support the Palestinian Authority."

Mr. Miller said the secret contacts Arabs have maintained with Israel have some value, but not too much.

"In a sense, the Arabs are getting the best of both worlds: They get points with the Americans for carrying out quiet contacts with the Israelis, but they don't get hammered by their own press or their regional rivals. That is how they prefer it," he said.

In response to the disclosures this week, the White House announced it would be moving to change the classification procedures. In the past, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper said the recent leaking may spell the end for the intelligence-sharing reforms instituted after the 9/11 attacks.

Meanwhile,, which lent some of its server space to WikiLeaks, took the group off its servers after government pressure.

Eli Lake

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