Saturday, April 2, 2011

Arab Spring: Male-on-Female Atrocity in Gaza Disappeared by the Western Media

by Phyllis Chesler

Asma Al-Ghoul, a Palestinian journalist beaten and tortured by Hamas

Last month, at least eight Muslim Palestinian female journalists were physically beaten with clubs, iron chairs, and fists, stabbed, and tortured with electric shocks by male Hamas security forces in the Gaza strip. Their cell phones, laptops, documents, and cameras were confiscated. They were also arrested. Some were forced to sign a document “pledging to refrain from covering such events again.”

The “events” were a series of pro-unity rallies organized by Palestinian youth on Facebook (!) which demanded an end to the dispute between Islamist Hamas and a presumably more moderate Fatah.

So much for the Arab “spring,” and the purposefully misguided Western (and these heroically na├»ve youthful demonstrators’) belief that the increasingly well organized Islamist Middle East will really rise up on behalf of human rights and women’s rights—without which there can be no democracy.

But this is not my main point.

The mainstream media did not cover this male-on-female atrocity in Gaza. In the English-speaking world, only a handful of journalists, including two Israelis, one writing in the Jerusalem Post, one writing at Big Peace, covered it. A few smaller newspapers in America and an English-language Egyptian paper did so as well.

To be fair, Reuters had an article which featured their own agency in Gaza having being attacked by “armed men.” Later on, we learn that these “armed men” were Hamas officials. And near the end of the piece, we also learn that Hamas also beat “photographers and camera men.” They do not mention female journalists, nor do they give us their names.

Slate also had an article about how Fatah is undermining Islamism on the West Bank. Parenthetically, later on, they mention that Hamas raided the offices of Reuters and destroyed equipment. They do not mention the attack on the Palestinian women journalists.

It did not happen, it is not important. The mainstream media does not really care about what happens to Arabs, Muslims, or Palestinians—not even when they are fellow or sister journalists, women, and feminists. The media only cares when and if Israelis are allegedly the perpetrators, the murderers, the checkpoint “humiliators.” Even when Israelis kill an armed Iranian-backed Palestinian member of Hamas in self-defense, even when Israelis accidentally, with no malice aforethought, kill a British journalist or an American “activist,” the Israelis are not only blamed—films, plays, and documentaries are made about the “martyred” American Rachel Corrie or the “martyred” British filmmaker James Miller or British “anti-war” activist Tom Hurndall. Countless demonstrations have been held. In Miller’s case the British government insisted on an investigation, and his family brought a civil lawsuit against an Israeli soldier.

The media was all over this even though an investigation strongly suggested that James Miller was killed by Palestinians “from the direction of the populated Rafah.” Although people know that Palestinians routinely hide behind civilian hostages, deliberately target Israeli civilians, especially children, create their own “martyrs” (the Muhammad al-Dura case as well as the Rachel Corrie case immediately come to mind)—nevertheless, the media refuses to hold Palestinians accountable and refuses to believe that the Israelis are innocent. The media knows full well that they will be killed or not allowed to “report” in Palestinian areas if they publish anything negative, anything true. By now, this habit is ingrained.

One of the recently beaten, tortured, and arrested Palestinian female journalists, Asma Al-Ghoul, is someone whom I first interviewed in 2009. Al-Ghoul is a secular feminist and a journalist who has written brave articles about honor killings on the West Bank and in Gaza. She asked me to edit and publish some of her work and I proudly did so. Al-Ghoul has been harassed and arrested by Hamas before. Why? Ostensibly because she dared to laugh, wear jeans on the beach, and entered the sea, fully clothed, to swim. These were her crimes—plus the fact that she was a single woman (divorced, actually), out in public, not wearing hijab, and relaxing on the beach with—unbelievably—male friends.

It took the left-wing Mother Jones about a year and half after my interviews to find Al-Ghoul. Guess what the journalist, Ashley Bates, immediately focuses upon? You guessed it. In her third paragraph she writes: “For three years, Israel has enforced a devastating blockade of the Gaza Strip aimed at isolating Hamas.” One might hope that she would leave well enough alone and focus on Al-Ghoul’s heroism and Hamas’ Islamist persecution of women. But not exactly. She sees Al-Ghoul as a heroine primarily because she has remained a “secularist,” and of all the things they may have talked about, Bates instead writes this:

Asma wrote her way through the trauma of the 2008-2009 war between Israel and Hamas militants, which claimed the lives of 13 Israelis and about 1,400 Gazans. Often, she slept at her office for fear of getting killed on the way to her home, a mere five-minute walk away.

“I felt as if Israeli military planes were blind,” Asma recalled. “They attacked everything and everybody. I saw dead children…As a woman and as a human being, I don’t believe in revenge, because it just brings more blood. But people said to me during the war, ‘You see? This is your peace.’”

While Asma has befriended liberal Jewish activists in Gaza, she has never entered Israel. In 2003 and again in 2006, the Israeli government denied her permission to travel through Israel to the West Bank, which is territorially separate from Gaza, to receive awards for her writing.

Yes, we know that Mother Jones is a left-wing magazine. But, in case we forget it—the reporter is careful to remind us that, despite Hamas’ Islamification, she is pro-Palestinian, not pro-Israeli. When I interviewed Al-Ghoul I was careful not to bring in Israeli-Palestinian politics.

What can one do? How can we be proactive, visual, informative, preemptive?

Earlier this week, Artists4Israel and members of the Birthright Israel Alumni Community just did something amazing in Washington Square Park in New York City’s Greenwich Village. They erected a bomb shelter and decorated it just as they’ve done in Sderot, Israel, a city which has absorbed thousands of Hamas rocket attacks in the last ten years, including many after Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza. The graffiti artists and muralists spoke about Sderot and about Israel and talked about how people have only 15 seconds to find a bomb shelter after the “code red” siren goes off. They talked about how permanently traumatized the Israeli children are. Here is a video of this wonderful demonstration/performance art, and of the wonderful artists.

Sadly, Artists4Israel were unable to sound the siren every fifteen seconds (to simulate what life is actually like in Sderot and in southern Israel) for more than a half hour. Equally sadly, this brave band of artist-warriors were also forced to contend with an almost immediate, pro-forma counter-demonstration which shouted, yelled, insulted, and behaved in every way like the Arab Street at its bullying worst. The counter-demonstrators were not respectful, did not engage in dialogue, and did not listen to anything having to do with the suffering of innocent Israeli civilians at the hands of Hamas.

Perhaps they are all journalists or will become journalists when they graduate from college.

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Phyllis Chesler

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Turning the Revolution Islamist

by IPT News

The "Arab Spring" has been synonymous with secular and peaceful demonstrators taking to the streets of the Middle East and, in some cases, taking up arms to fight for lost freedoms.

However, the latest issue of al-Qaida's Inspire Magazine, as well as the rise of renewed Salafist movements in the revolutionary states, suggest that religious ultraconservatives have no intention of ceding the future. The revolutions may have been secular, but the character of new governments is still up for grabs.

Salafist Islam, in both its violent and peaceful incarnations, believes that Islam has moved away from its roots and that Muslims are in dire need of re-Islamization of daily life, politics, economics, and culture. To restore the lost Islamic empire of the caliphate, groups like al-Qaida turn to violent jihad, while Salafists in Saudi Arabia fund the growth of their movement throughout the world.

Rather than interpret largely secular revolutions as their end, Salafists view the fall of dictators as the first step on the road to a new caliphate. The revolutionaries have cleared the path, and whatever will come after them will be less resistant to a message of political Islam or to violent takeover.

"The biggest barrier between the mujahidin and freeing al-Aqsa [Jersualem] were the tyrant rulers," writer Yahya Ibrahim noted in his introductory article to the latest issue of Inspire. "Now that the friends of America and Israel are being mopped out one after the other, our aspirations are great that the path between us and al-Aqsa [Jerusalem] is clearing up."

"Another line that is being pushed by Western leaders is that because the protests in Egypt and Tunisia were peaceful, they proved al-Qaida – which calls for armed struggle – to be wrong. That is another fallacy," Ibrahim argues. "Al-Qaida is not against regime changes through protests but is against the idea that the change should be only through peaceful means to the exclusion of the use of force."

"It is our opinion that the revolutions that are shaking the thrones of dictators are good for the Muslims, good for the mujahidin and bad for the Imperialists of the West and their henchmen in the Muslim world."

For Anwar al-Awlaki, an influential al-Qaida ideologue, clearing out the tyrants means greater freedom of movement and recruiting.

"We do not know yet what the outcome [of the revolutions] would be, and we do not have to," he writes. "Regardless of the outcome, whether it is an Islamic government or the likes of [Egyptian presidential candidates] al-Baradi, Amr Mousa or another military figure; whatever this outcome is, our mujahidin brothers in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and the rest of the Muslim world will get a chance to breathe again after three decades of suffocation."

Awlaki also argues that an end to fear opens the way for peaceful Salafi activists to have a voice. "For the scholars and activists of Egypt to be able to speak again freely, it would represent a great leap forward for the mujahidin."

The fall of the regimes has meant an end to fear among other Salafist groups, who are no longer afraid to express their ideologies or to mobilize support among the people. They argue that the people should give Islam a chance to rule, when secular regimes have only brought corruption and unemployment, shame and military defeat.

"These events are paving the way for a greater thing to come. They are paving the way for a great Islam that is coming with force because the world is in need of leadership," Dr. Muhammad Musa Al-Sharif, Salafi cleric and assistant professor in the Department of Islamic Studies in King Abdul Aziz University, told viewers of Saudi Arabia's Iqra TV on Feb. 25. "The current leadership – Communism, capitalism, and so on – has gone bankrupt. Only Islam is left to lead the world… Islamic leadership is coming whether people like it or not."

In Egypt, where religious opposition to the former regime was more organized than its secular counterparts, the effects are being felt.

"Their rhetoric hasn't changed but the new Egypt allows them to express it freely, even though it may not be welcome by all," al-Jazeera's Zeina Khodr reports from Alexandria, Egypt. "Salafists were never involved in politics, just like other groups under the Mubarak regime, they were suppressed. Now religious leaders are explaining to their supporters the need for political participation, to create the Egypt they want."

"There is an ideological battle at the heart of the struggle to fill the ideological vacuum. It may be a new Egypt, but it is an Egypt that has still not been defined." Khodr explains, as the program shows concerned secular activists trying to counter rising Salafist activism among the less educated. "There is a real fear, they say, Islamic groups could rise to power," Khodr states.

Some say the threat of a Salafi takeover is exaggerated and that the rise of Western democracy in the Arab world will drown the radical agenda.

"There really is no hankering in the Middle East for a return to the 7th century, only a desire for jobs, pluralism, freedom, good government," Fareed Zakaria argued recently on CNN. "So can we all take a deep breath, stop cowering in fear of the impending caliphate, and put the problem of Islamic terrorism in perspective. It's real, but it is not going to take over the world any time soon."

It is too soon to know what success the religious conservatives will enjoy. It is clear, though, that they are working to seize authority and to remake secular Egypt into an Islamic state.

But peaceful activism for the ballot doesn't mean that such groups have renounced their demand to force Islamic law on others.

On Tuesday, Salafists killed one and injured eight others in the Egyptian village of Kasr El-Bassil. The attack came after local Salafists ordered the owner of a liquor store and coffee shops to close his businesses for violating Islamic law. Elsewhere in Egypt, Coptic Christians evacuated 340 female students from their university dorms to church-affiliated sanctuaries over concerns for their safety. The move followed renewed anti-Christian protests over the supposed kidnapping of an Islamic convert. In the city of Monufiya, dozens of Salafis stormed a woman's house, accused her of being a prostitute, and burned her furniture in the street.

Salafist preachers and politics are becoming increasingly assertive in rural villages, even according to the Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood. "Suffice it to say that there are some villages where Salafists have total control," Kamal Samir Gadallah, a Muslim Brotherhood activist, told the Washington Post. "And when the revolution succeeded, we started seeing Salafists speaking out for the first time on politics."

Mubarak tolerated Salafis to serve as a check on the Muslim Brotherhood, according to an Associated Press report. The Salafist movement "has gained power as it rises to play a more political role as followers now ponder nominating a presidential candidate. That has alarmed many of the secular and liberal forces in Egypt because of the group's extremist discourse and imposition of Islamic sharia law."

Likewise, concerns about the rise of al-Qaida and Salafist movements are common in Libya, Jordan, and Yemen.

Libyan rebel leader Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi admitted that "around 25" of his troops fought coalition troops in Iraq. But they "are patriots and good Muslims, not terrorists," he insisted. Even "members of al-Qaeda are good Muslims and are fighting against the invader." Al-Hasidi also claimed that he had fought against "the foreign invasion" in Afghanistan, until he was captured and later transferred back to Libya.

Tayseer Abu-Obada, a militant convicted of terrorism by the Jordanian government, told the AP that local Salafists were taking advantage "of the atmosphere of openness we're witnessing these days." Hundreds gathered at protests waving flags used by al-Qaida and demanding the release of terrorist ideologue Abu-Mohammad al-Maqdisi and other militants facing terrorism charges. They also demanded Islamic law be imposed on the state and called for jihad as "our way to liberate Muslim lands from autocrats."

"An Islamic state is coming," U.S.-Specially Designated Global Terrorist Abdul Majid al-Zindani told a cheering crowd in Sanaa, Yemen on March 2nd. Al-Zindani, who was blacklisted because of his close relationship to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida, is a key opposition figure. He told the crowd that Yemeni President Ali Saleh had "came to power by force and stayed in power by force, and the only way to get rid of him is through the force of the people."

Al-Qaida also stands to benefit from the fall of the Yemeni regime and the stark challenges facing any incoming government. "There are ways in which Saleh has exploited the existence of AQAP in the country, but the organization itself exists independently of the president," says Gregory Johnsen, a Yemen scholar at Princeton University. "If the government that comes next in Yemen is unable to deal with the harsh economic realities and some of the demands of the protesters, Al Qaeda will be in a good position to capitalize."

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IPT News

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Goldstone recants? (Updated)

by Rick Moran

The notorious report by Richard Goldstone from the Israeli-Hamas war that accused Israel of war crimes is often cited by Israeli defenders as prima facia evidence of bias by the international community - especially the UN - against Israel.

But today, in a Washington Post op-ed, Mr. Goldstone appears to walk back from at least some of his conclusions in that report:

We know a lot more today about what happened in the Gaza war of 2008-09 than we did when I chaired the fact-finding mission appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council that produced what has come to be known as the Goldstone Report. If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document. (Emphasis mine).

How different?

The final report by the U.N. committee of independent experts - chaired by former New York judge Mary McGowan Davis - that followed up on the recommendations of the Goldstone Report has found that "Israel has dedicated significant resources to investigate over 400 allegations of operational misconduct in Gaza" while "the de facto authorities (i.e., Hamas) have not conducted any investigations into the launching of rocket and mortar attacks against Israel."

Our report found evidence of potential war crimes and "possibly crimes against humanity" by both Israel and Hamas. That the crimes allegedly committed by Hamas were intentional goes without saying - its rockets were purposefully and indiscriminately aimed at civilian targets.

The allegations of intentionality by Israel were based on the deaths of and injuries to civilians in situations where our fact-finding mission had no evidence on which to draw any other reasonable conclusion. While the investigations published by the Israeli military and recognized in the U.N. committee's report have established the validity of some incidents that we investigated in cases involving individual soldiers, they also indicate that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy. (Emphasis mine).

Perhaps even more remarkably, the Jerusalem Post notices that Goldstone, in his op-ed today, criticizes the Human Rights Council for giving him an original mandate "skewed against Israel:"

Goldstone also slammed the United Nations Human Rights Council, which commissioned the report, saying that the original mandate given to him was "skewed against Israel."

"I have always been clear that Israel, like any other sovereign nation, has the right and obligation to defend itself and its citizens against attacks from abroad and within," he wrote.

Saying that he changed the original mandate handed to him in order to investigate Hamas as well as Israel, he noted, "something that has not been recognized often enough is the fact that our report marked the first time illegal acts of terrorism from Hamas were being investigated and condemned by the United Nations." He added that he had hoped his inquiry would usher in an era of even-handedness in the UNHRC, whose bias against Israel "cannot be doubted." (Emphasis mine)

One could ask why Israel, who knew full well the bias of the UNHRC, would want to place the rope around its own neck and cooperate in its own hanging by working with Goldstone's commission. But Goldstone's comments are very unusual as it is not common for one UN bureaucrat to criticize another in the pages of a major media outlet.

Unfortunately, the narrative of the Goldstone report is set and it is doubtful that this will have any beneficial effects. Nevertheless, any correction to the historical record is welcome and Goldstone should be recognized for this partial recantation.


Clarice Feldman writes:

Ron Radosh at Pajamas Media reports that Lord Goldstone has revised his iniquitous report:

In a stunning and unexpected reversal, Judge Richard Goldstone has essentially reversed himself on the findings of the Goldstone Report. He does, of course, qualify his remarks to make it appear that he has not reversed himself. What he does, in effect, is to say that if only Israel had cooperated with his investigation from the start, he would not have reached the incorrect conclusions of the now famous and highly influential Report.

Israel, of course, had quite good reasons to distrust Goldstone, and his Report did major damage. But one would rather have Judge Goldstone now blame Israel for his original damaging conclusions than to have him blame Israel for intentionally being the major human rights violator in the Middle East.

Now, Goldstone asserts, "We know a lot more today about what happened in the Gaza war of 2008-09 than we did when I chaired the fact-finding commission." Poppycock! As Goldstone's numerous critics have pointed out as soon as the Report was issued, its many vulnerabilities were known at that very moment. One can look no further than the lengthy and devastating critique by Moshe Halbertal that appeared in The New Republic, or the many commentaries on it by Alan Dershowitz. As Dershowitz wrote at the time: "It is far more accusatory of Israel, far less balanced in its criticism of Hamas, far less honest in its evaluation of the evidence, far less responsible in drawing its conclusion, far more biased against Israeli than Palestinian witnesses, and far more willing to draw adverse inferences of intentionality from Israeli conduct and statements than from comparable Palestinian conduct and statements."

Mr. Goldstone may prefer that we forget all this, but savvy readers will have no problem finding many sources that pointed to its many flaws in 2009. Nevertheless, it is refreshing to find today that Goldstone now says "That the crimes allegedly committed by Hamas were intentional goes without saying - its rockets were purposefully and indiscriminately aimed at civilian targets." As for serious crimes against civilians that resulted from Israeli defensive action, Goldstone now writes that "civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy" by Israel. The moral equivalence, thankfully, has now disappeared in the Judge's new conclusions. Moreover, where possible violations of human rights were committed by Israel, Goldstone now writes that in one case if an Israeli officer was found to have acted inappropriately, and is "found to have been negligent, Israel will respond accordingly."

AT Political Correspondent Rich Baehr adds:

The op ed by Richard Goldstone in today's Washington Post is a welcome corrective to his persistent defense of the Report he authored, and that is now associated with his name, on the Israeli incursion into Gaza in December 2008 . Regrettably, this corrective comes well after the time his initial report was accepted by the human rights community, the United Nations, and international tribunals, and cynically used by " lawfare" opponents of Israel.

If the Judge wants to do some good, he can start an international tour to make the points he does in his new article in venues around the world where the hatred of Israel only intensified as a result of his initial one sided report. That report created a moral equivalence between a civilized nation state defending its civilian population, and a murderous death cult fueled by Islamic extremism and anti-Semitism, whose rocket firing supported a long time goal of indiscriminate killing of Jews.

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Rick Moran

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UC Irvine Students’ Secret Meeting with Hamas

by Nichole Hungerford and Richard Baehr

The University of California – Irvine (UCI) has some serious new problems on its hands. After a series of controversial incidents, including appearances by terrorist-supporting speakers and a raucous disruption of a talk by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, new information has come to light revealing that students participating in a student program known as the Olive Tree Initiative met with a prominent leader of the terrorist organization Hamas. More scandalously, the students were told — it is unclear by whom — to keep the meeting a secret.

A letter that can be viewed at records officials from the Jewish Federation of Orange County (JFOC) expressing distress to the chancellor of UCI, Michael Drake, over student participation in an unauthorized meeting with a prominent Hamas figure, Aziz Duwaik, in September of 2009. Students were participants in the Olive Tree Initiative (OTI), a part of the university’s Difficult Dialogues II program, which conducts trips to Israel and the West Bank for students to learn about the conflict in that region. Notably, OTI programing, associations, and student membership often overlap with other student organizations such as Hillel. Among other reasons, the released letter states that OTI participants were instructed not to tell anyone about the meeting to “avoid being detained…reentering Israel from the West Bank or being held at the airport before leaving the country” — this should give a clear idea about how serious such a meeting would be to Israeli and US officials. The JFOC’s letter requested that the university conduct an investigation into the incident and that disciplinary action be taken.

The OTI, which FrontPage has chronicled previously, is highly controversial due to its involvement with activists with untoward associations (including with the ISM, which supports Palestian terrorism) and those who promote extreme anti-Israel views, such as support for BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions), and accusations of Israeli apartheid and human rights abuses. Aziz Duwaik himself was arrested in Israel in 2006 during a crackdown on senior Hamas officials by the IDF following the abduction of still-captive Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit. Duwaik, who is the speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council for Hamas, was released in June 2009 — just three months before he met with students from the OTI.

Although Hamas works within the political process in the region, it is designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. government and its charter is clear about its desire to “implement Allah’s promise whatever time it might take. The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!”

The letter documenting the OTI Hamas meeting, printed on Jewish Federation of Orange County (JFOC) letterhead, was sent by Shalom Elcott, president of the federation, and two co-chairs of the Rose Project: Jeffrey Margolis and Dr. James Weiss. The Rose Project was developed by Jewish Federation and Family Services of Orange County, and it provides funding for the Olive Tree Initiative. The letter to Chancellor Drake identifies the JFOC as the “largest funder” of the OTI, although the Ford Foundation and UCI itself are also primary funders, according to university officials. The Rose Project reports that the OTI does not have a funding grant pending with the project at this time, however, this does not rule out the possibility that the Rose Project will fund the OTI in the future if a grant application is made.

According to an official with the Rose Project, an investigation into the Hamas meeting was conducted, revealing that the Duwaik meeting was the result of a last-minute schedule change made onsite without prior approval by either the university or JFOC. A prior-scheduled session was canceled, and a leading graduate student in the field helped arrange a meeting with Duwaik to replace the canceled event. The official went on to say that JFOC and Rose Project leadership believe that the decision was inappropriate and that the person responsible ensured that, facing the same situation, he or she would not make the decision again. Furthermore, the official said that any such spontaneous changes in the future would require approval by the university in consultation with the JFOC.

For its part, the University of California Irvine’s response to the controversy has been notably lackadaisical, bordering on reckless. According to the media relations director of UCI, an investigation had not been conducted through the university to her knowledge, and she was also not aware of disciplinary action. The director of OTI, to whom the media director referred further inquiry, did not respond to phone requests for comment. Serious questions hang in the balance: for instance, was the investigation alleged to have taken place conducted through the university or through the JFOC?

And what about disciplinary action? Were any changes made in the leadership or management of the program to prevent a recurrence of such an incident and coverup on subsequent trips? The Rose Project referred questions on the disciplinary action to the university, as UCI was said to be in charge of it. This implies that the investigation was indeed done by the university. Yet the university could not produce evidence of such an investigation upon request. Are we to believe that UCI takes students meeting with a leader of a U.S.-classified terrorist organization — whose charter promises to exterminate Jews — so lightly? UCI cannot produce any information on the incident for the public? And why is the record of disciplinary action so difficult to produce? It seems that either UCI does not care enough about the incident to be forthcoming with this information, or perhaps we should take the media director at her word.

It is possible that the investigation was conducted internally with JFOC — given that the Rose Project official said only that an investigation was conducted. However, if this is the case, it appears that no disciplinary action could be pointed to by the JFOC, or at the very least, none that would be made public. But why would the JFOC not want to publicize this information after such a scandal?

It is worth noting the second reason students were asked to keep quiet about the meeting:

(2) to avoid confrontation with anyone who would have disagreed with this meeting had they known about it in advance – namely Orange County Jewish community and leadership, and UCI administration.

This argument is of course the more interesting one: the threat of cutting off the hand that feeds the program. If the threat of a funding cutoff were the real danger, it appears these fears were overblown. We now know that both the UCI and JFOC learned of the Hamas meeting and the attempted coverup soon after it happened — and then chose to continue to host and/or fund the program.

Again, we do not know if there were any personnel changes made as a result of the Hamas official meeting and the instruction to students to keep quiet about it. We do not know how the university, or the chancellor, justifies continued faith in program leadership which, not only exercised such poor decision-making, but also such a stunning degree of deception. It is also of paramount importance to understand how officials associated with the university could arrange a spontaneous meeting with such a prominent Hamas official. The federation letter requested a full investigation into the planning and execution of the Duwaik meeting, and “that after the facts of this investigation are known….proper disciplinary measures be enforced as appropriate.” At this point, however, we do not even know if such an investigation has been conducted.

UCI has a long, inglorious record in recent years regarding this conflict, including the passivity it has shown in the face of intimidation of pro-Israel students, and the hate speech it has allowed onto campus. The UCI owes the public an account of the facts behind this latest scandal. To help ensure that such incidents do not happen in the future, has developed a pledge in memory of the Fogel family that establishes minimum protocol for activities suitable for Jewish Federation funding. The Freedom Center supports this pledge and encourages concerned individuals to petition their respective Jewish federations to adopt it.

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Nichole Hungerford and Richard Baehr

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VIDEO: Penn State YAF Students Assaulted for Putting up Palestinian Wall of Lies


YAF President Samuel Settle described the event held yesterday:

Today, members of the Penn State Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) set up a Palestinian Wall of Lies outside of the HUB Student Center at the University Park campus. The demonstration began shortly before 1:00, and received an almost immediate hostile reaction from two nearby Arab students. The students described the Wall as “bullshit” and “a f***ing lie,” but were initially nonviolent.

Shortly afterwards, the Wall began attracting significant attention, including from a reporter and photographer with the Daily Collegian student newspaper. Most of the reception was positive; in particular, a group of Israeli students came around to express their support. At this point, one of the two Arab students came back around and began arguing with the YAFfers and Israelis, using abusive language and saying, “I have a problem with Israelis.”

The argument lasted for about 3 minutes, during which the aggressor became increasingly aggravated, ultimately demanding that the YAFfers stop filming him. His request was refused, at which point he lunged for, but missed, the camera I was holding. He then kicked over a crate full of YAF pamphlets and stormed off. A photographer from the Collegian was present at the time.

Although this display was disappointing, it was not surprising. This was the only student to actually become violent, but many other students from the MSA came by at various points to verbally denounce the Wall, and often to personally insult those present. None of these people were able to point out a single error on the Wall, and they dispersed once it became clear that they were being filmed. On whole, the event was a great success. As mentioned, with the exception of some MSA members, the Wall seemed to get a mostly positive reception. Several of the students indicated that they were extremely pleased to see a counter-balance to the anti-Israel narrative frequently promoted on campus.

Read the Daily Collegian’s write-up here. Find out more about the Wall of Lies campaign and sign up to bring a wall to your campus here.

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African Mercenaries in Libya, Part II

by Anna Mahjar-Barducci

Dictators all over Africa have aligned themselves with Libyan Leader Muammar Gaddafi, supporting his crackdown on his civilian opposition. Many African governments have sent troops to help Gaddafi stay in power, and thousands of other African mercenaries have been recruited by the Libyan regime[1].

In an interview with Pan-African weekly, Jeune Afrique, Chad's President Idriss Deby warned against plans by the international coalition; he argued that military action would have heavy consequences in Africa, Europe and the Mediterranean. "The attempt to destabilize Libya's military action against Libya is a hasty decision that may have serious consequences on regional stability and the spread of terrorism," Deby.said.

Many opinion makers considered Deby's statement a neutral opinion on the Libyan crisis. The Chadian President's remarks, however, are far from neutral. Deby, himself a dictator, is actually one of Gaddafi's best allies. Deby came to power 1990 thanks to Gaddafi's support, and he was saved two years ago by Gaddafi when the rebels almost entered his palace. Now Deby is accused of sending soldiers to Libya to save his good friend, Gaddafi.

Deby's warning, more than a neutral opinion, can also be considered as personal threat to West. It is not a coincidence that his warning echoes Gaddafi's vowing a long war "with no limits" in the Mediterranean -- with the complicity of African dictators and mercenaries.

Historically, Gaddafi has long been using mercenaries as advisers and soldiers. In the 1970s, he recruited thousands of Africans into the al-Failaka al-Islamiya, the so-called Islamic Legion, an experimental Muslim army that he used to further his territorial ambitions in countries like Chad and Niger.

This line of conduct not only affected the outcome of conflicts across the region but also inspired Gaddafi with the idea of creating within the Libyan security forces special units composed of foreign fighters, who eventually were encouraged to become Libyan nationals. These fighters came mostly from Chad, Mali and Niger.

Luis Martinez, director of the French Research Institute on Africa and the Mediterranean (CERAM), in his book, The Libyan Paradox, describes the Islamic Legion, now disbanded, of having consisted of some 2.500 men, and of having been set up for the purpose of foreign intervention. Its fighters were "of Arab and African origin, recruited among the migrant workers, who if they refused the offer, were maybe threatened with the death penalty. In 1988, 20 Africans were hanged for refusing to enlist."

These days, we are assisting in a sort of rebirth of such a legion. African mercenaries have been subjected to many unchecked rumors. Concerning their remuneration, some sources suggest that Gaddafi is paying them US$ 1,000 for every protester shot, whereas others increase this figure to something between US$ 10,000 and US$ 12,000. Others, however, who claim to have witnessed enlistments in Mali, say the hired assassins received a more modest US$ 1,000 per week.

Khamis Gaddafi, one of the children of the Libyan leader, is accused of being the one recruiting Sub-Saharan mercenaries to shoot on Libyan protesters. The Saudi-owned satellite channel, Al-Arabiya, reports that some of the captured mercenaries confessed that Khamis hired them[2]. Khamis is the commander of the 32nd brigade, considered to include the most highly trained soldiers in Libya. International news items reported that Khamis was killed by a suicidal Libyan jet pilot, who allegedly flew his plane into the Gaddafi family compound, but in a video from the Libyan TV, Khamis, or his double, was seen parading through his father's compound in Tripoli[3].

Southern Africa


Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, in power since 1981, attacked the Western countries that intervened militarily in Libya, calling them "vampires" with the goal only of controlling the country's oil[4].

In Zimbabwe, during a parliamentary session, Defense Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa was asked for clarifications on allegations that Zimbabwe National Army members were part of the mercenaries hired by Gaddafi. The hearing came after reports that a group of specially trained Zimbabwean soldiers were shooting down Libyan civilians.

In response, Mnangagwa said "That there are mercenaries who are African and are in Libya – I have no mandate in my duty as Minister of Defense to investigate activities happening in another African country.".[5]

However, news items seem to confirm that Mugabe has sent troops to Libya to defend Gaddafi, "his long-standing ally and financier."[6] According to reports, several hundred serving and retired Zimbabwean soldiers and a handful of air force pilots flew from Harare to Libya on a chartered flight to join Gaddafi's fight. There are also reports that Zimbabwean state intelligence sources have said that some of the troops were from the commando regiment, whereas others were from the Fifth Brigade, once trained by North Korea. Media reports say that a Zimbabwean force was sent in a secret arrangement made between Gaddafi, Mugabe and General Constantine Chiwenga, the chief of the armed forces and a staunch Mugabe loyalist.[7]

The online newspaper, Zimbabwe Mail, reports rumors of a chartered Russian aircraft that flew into the Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, and left for Libya carrying troops from the Zimbabwe's crack Commando Unit[8].

Gaddafi apparently had a dream of a United Africa States under his rule as King of Africa, with the Zimbabwean President Mugabe as his prime minister

Gaddafi, one of Robert Mugabe's most vocal political allies, contributed millions of dollars to finance Mugabe's re-election campaigns[9]. In 2001, there were reports that Gaddafi had sent troops to Zimbabwe to help Mugabe crack down on his political opponents and on the white farmers[10], people originally from Europe who had settled in Zimbabwe before it gained independence from Britain in 1980. Media outlets also report that, during a official visit to Zimbabwe, Gaddafi urged Zimbabwe's Asian Muslims to wage a jihad against Zimbabwe's small white population.[11]

Gaddafi and Mugabe have signed dozens of bilateral agreements for Libya to contribute millions of dollars worth of oil supplies for Zimbabwe. Gaddafi has also invested in property in Zimbabwe: The Zimbabwe Mail reports there are fears that Gaddafi's properties in Zimbabwe "could become bases for Gaddafi's rogue terrorist agents seeking retribution once he is deposed from power"[12]. Gaddafi's son, Saadi, was also granted a concession by Zimbabwe to mine for diamonds in the Marange diamond field, one of the richest in the world.[13]

South Africa

South Africa is one of the African countries that, along with Nigeria and Gabon, has voted for the UN Security Council's resolution on a no-fly zone in Libya. South African President, Jacob Zuma, declared, however, that his country did not support "the regime change doctrine" in Libya, adding that countries enforcing the "no-fly zone" over Libya should exercise restraint[14].

BBC Monitoring, the media monitoring service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), reported that Libyan TV highlighted what it said were remarks made by Zuma to Gaddafi in a telephone conversation[15].

Libyan TV quoted Zuma as calling on the African Union (AU) to "take decisive action and uncover the conspiracy that Libya is facing." The Libyan TV report also quoted Zuma as "stressing the need not to depend on tendentious reports circulated by foreign media outlets and the need to listen to the Libyan media in this regard."[16] Zuma's office refused to confirm or deny BBC reports crediting Libyan television on what he said to the Libyan leader[17]. Zuma justified himself, saying he told Gaddafi that he condemned the crack down on the Libyan people.

Zuma is considered an ally of Gaddafi. In 2005, after Zuma had been charged with rape, he undertook a five-day trip to Tripoli where he met Gaddafi; media sources report that the South African President flew to Libya at Gaddafi's invitation. According to news items, Gaddafi allegedly gave around US $2 million to help Zuma, whose defense in his rape and further corruption trials was prohibitively expensive[18].

During a press conference, Zuma was asked for his position on Libya in light of rumors that Gaddafi financed his political party, the ANC, during his criminal defense. Zuma did not confirm the allegation, but said that irrespective of Gaddafi's previous support, South Africa would stand by its position, deploring violent acts by the Libyan state forces[19]. South Africa froze all Gaddafi's assets in accordance with UN Security Council resolution.

Gaddafi's connection with South Africa, however, goes beyond Zuma. There are reports that Gaddafi has been financing the South African militant-Islamist group, Pagad. In 1998, Pagad began targeting restaurants and public places as part of its Islamist objectives[20]. Pagad is also accused of anti-Semitism, including a petrol bomb attack on a Jewish bookshop owner[21]. According to news items dated 2001, South African intelligence services have tried to ascertain if Gaddafi also bore the expense for 400 Pagad volunteers who travelled to the Middle East to participate in the Palestinian intifada[22]. Pagad emerged, from inside the South African Islamist movement, Qibla, created under the slogan "One Solution, Islamic Revolution" in the early 1980s to promote the Iranian revolution in South Africa,[23] In 2001, Qibla threatened to take action against the US following attacks on Afghanistan. Qibla also received support from Gaddafi[24].

There's no clear information on mercenaries from South Africa in Libya


According to several web sites in Portuguese, the Angolan government allegedly sent soldiers to Libya to help Gaddafi[25]. Angola is reported to have sent pilots to serve the Libyan Air force[26], which was destroyed by the international coalition. However, there are no further reports on this topic.

Angola, which is also facing internal protests, is a member of OPEC, the cartel of oil producing countries. Recently, Saudi officials said "Libya production shut down by unrest could be replaced by West African light crude." However, Angola and Nigeria, also member of the OPEC, said that they cannot immediately make up for the missing shipments of Libyan oil[27].


No information on mercenaries from Botswana in Libya.

Botswana decided to cut diplomatic relations with Libya soon after the Libyan uprising. Botswana Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Tshenolo Modise said that the government took the decision to end diplomatic relations out of the realization "that the leader of Libya [Muammar Gaddafi] was not remorseful and made defiant pronouncements despite the violence visited on people."[28].


No information on mercenaries from Lesotho in Libya


There is no information on mercenaries from Malawi in Libya


The Portuguese paper, "I", says that Gaddafi is using mercenaries from Mozambique[29]. However, there are no further reports on this topic.


Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba strongly condemned foreign military strikes in Libya: he said they were an "interference in internal affairs of Africa."[30] The Youth League of the Namibian ruling party, Swapo, said that in Libya, the West is "not necessarily interested in democracy, but its own interest, which is primarily oil".[31]

Libya supported Namibia during its struggle for independence from South Africa and many Namibian fighters and nurses trained in Libya before it won its independence in 1990[32].

Libya's second-highest ranking diplomat in Namibia, Saad H.M. Bakar, defected to join the anti-Gaddafi and pro-democracy movement. Bakar is reported to have approached the Namibian Human Rights organization, NamRights, after he unsuccessfully sought assistance from several Namibian-based foreign missions[33]. NamRights is said to have assured Bakar a safe journey from Namibia to an unnamed Mediterranean country. Bakar's life had been in danger from Gaddafi's security outfits based in Namibia and in South Africa[34].

There is no clear information on mercenaries from Namibia in Libya.


Relations between Gaddafi and Swaziland king Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch, were considered to be warm. In 2009, Gaddafi sent the king six camels as a token of friendship. Prince Sicalo, the first-born son of Mswati, was in Libya for three years undergoing military training. When the riots started in Libya, the prince came back to Swaziland[35].

There is no clear information on mercenaries from Swaziland in Libya.


There is no information on mercenaries from Zambia in Libya

Zambia took the decision to freeze assets belonging to the Libyan government and its leaders, in compliance with a United Nations resolution[36].


Original URL:

Anna Mahjar-Barducci

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

Will Palestinians Be Deported From Syria?

by Khaled Abu Toameh

The Syrian authorities seem to be convinced that Palestinians played an active role in instigating anti-government demonstrations in a number of cities in the past few weeks.

Buthaina Shaaban, an advisor to Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, surprised many reporters last week when she announced that Palestinian refugees living in her country took part in attacks on government installations in the cities of Deraa and Latakia.

In Syria there are approximately 700,000 Palestinians, most of whom live in a number of refugee camps near the capital Damascus and other cities. But Syria also plays host to several radical Palestinian groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command.

Palestinians fear that the latest charges against them are aimed at paving the way for their deportation from Syria, the same way many Gulf countries expelled tens of thousands of Palestinian families after the liberation of Kuwait by US-led coalition forces in the early 1990s.

Some Palestinians said that the Syrian government has already asked the radical Palestinian groups to leave the country. If these groups are thrown out of Syria, they will most probably move to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

And what about the rest of the Palestinians living in Syria? Where are they supposed to go?

It would take a miracle to find one Arab country that would agree to host them. Most of the Palestinians could end up stranded in makeshift refugee camps along the borders of a number of Arab countries. This is what happened to Palestinians living in Iraq after the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime.

It is no secret that most of the Arab regimes hold the Palestinians in contempt and accuse them of being ungrateful, especially after the PLO and many Palestinians supported Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait – one of many Arab countries that used to give the PLO millions of dollars every year.

But the Syrian regime has always been the most hostile toward the Palestinians. During the Lebanon Civil War in the 1970s and '80s, Syrian troops based in Lebanon massacred thousands of Palestinians, at times shelling refugee camps with heavy artillery.

The Syrians then also played a major role in instigating a mutiny against PLO leader Yasser Arafat and assassinating top Palestinian officials. In the mid-'80s, Syria was the first country in the world to declare Arafat persona non grata, ordering him to leave the country within 48 hours. Many Palestinians back then saw Arafat's expulsion as a humiliation to all Palestinians.

Bashar's father, Hafez Assad, invited all radical Palestinian groups to set up their headquarters in Damascus with the declared goal of undermining moderate Arabs who support peace with Israel. The Syrian authorities have sometimes used these Palestinian groups to launch terror attacks that serve Damascus's interests.

The Syrians are believed to be holding hundreds of Palestinians in various prisons. Many Palestinians who entered Syria over the past three decades have gone missing and are believed to have been executed or tortured to death. Earlier this year, a Palestinian journalist from the Gaza Strip who traveled to Syria joined the list of those who have gone missing in the country.

In 2005, the Syrian authorities tried to blame Palestinians for the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in an unsuccessful attempt to divert attention from their involvement in the murder.

The Palestinians know that they can rely on the French and Swedish governments more than any Arab regime. The Palestinians need to understand that their dependence on, or affiliation with, Arab tyrants would only cause them more damage. It is time the Palestinians know how to choose their friends.

Original URL:

Khaled Abu Toameh

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

What if the Arabs had recognized the State of Israel in 1948?

by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim

I have been exposed to Palestinians since I was in first grade in Al-Hassa, Saudi Arabia They were my favorite teachers. They were the most dedicated and the most intelligent among all my instructors, from elementary to high school.

When I was attending New York-based SUNY Maritime college (1975-1979), I read a lot of books about Palestinians, Arabs and the Israelis. I have read every article about the many chances the Palestinians had and missed to solve their problem, especially the Camp David agreement between Egypt and Israel.

I have seen and read about the lives of the Palestinians in the US and other places. They are very successful in every field. And at the same time I saw the Arab countries at the bottom of the list in education and development. And I always ask the question: What if the Palestinians and the Arabs accepted the presence of Israel on May 14, 1948 and recognized its right to exist? Would the Arab world have been more stable, more democratic and more advanced?

If Israel had been recognized in 1948, then the Palestinians would have been able to free themselves from the hollow promises of some Arab dictators who kept telling them that the refugees would be back in their homes and all Arab lands will be liberated and Israel will be sent to the bottom of the sea. Some Arab leaders used the Palestinians for their own agenda to suppress their own people and to stay in power.

Since 1948, if an Arab politician wanted to be the hero and the leader of the Arab world, then he has a very easy way to do it. He just shouts as loud as he can about the intention to destroy Israel, without mobilizing one soldier (Talk is cheap).

If Israel was recognized in 1948, then there would have been no need for a coup in Egypt against King Farouq in 1952 and there would have been no attack on Egypt in 1956 by The UK, France and Israel.

Also there would have been no war in June 1967 and the size of Israel will not be increased and we, the Arabs would not have the need for a UN resolution to beg Israel to go back to the pre-1967 borders. And no war of attrition between Egypt and Israel that caused more casualties on the Egyptian side than the Israeli side.

After the 1967 war, Israel became a strategic ally of the US because before this war, the US was not as close to Israel as people in the Arab world think. The Israelis fought in that war using mainly French and British weapons. At that time, the US administrations refused to supply Israel with more modern aircraft and weapon systems such as the F-4 Phantom.

The Palestinian misery was also used to topple another stable monarchy, this time in Iraq and replacing it with a bloody dictatorship in one of the richest countries of the world. Iraq is rich in minerals, water reserves, fertile land and archaeological sites. The military led by Abdul Karim Qassim killed King Faisal II and his family. Bloodshed in Iraq continued and this Arab country has seen more violent revolutions and one of them was carried out in the 1960s by a brigade that was sent to help liberate Palestine. Instead it made a turn and went back and took over Baghdad. Even years later, Saddam Hussien said that he will liberate Jerusalem via Kuwait. He used Palestinians misery as an excuse to invade Kuwait.

If Israel were recognized in 1948, then the 1968 coup would not have taken place in another stable and rich monarchy (Kingdom of Libya). King Idris was toppled and Muammar Qaddafi took over.

There were other military coups in the Arab world such as Syria, Yemen and the Sudan. And each one of them used Palestine as their reason for such acts. The Egyptian regime of Jamal Abdul Nasser used to call the Arab Gulf states backward states and he tried to topple the governments of these Gulf states by using his media and his military forces. He even attacked southern borders of Saudi Arabia using his air force bases in Yemen.

Even a non-Arab country (Iran) used Palestine to divert the minds of their people from internal unrest. I remember Ayatollah Khomeini declaring that he would liberate Jerusalem via Baghdad and President Ahmadinejad making bellicose statements about Israel, though not even a single fire cracker was fired from Iran toward Israel.

Now, the Palestinians are on their own. Each Arab country is busy with its own crisis. From Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Sudan, Yemen, Syria, Jordan, Somalia, Algeria, Lebanon and the Gulf states. For now, the Arab countries have put the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on hold.

Original URL:

Abdulateef Al-Mulhim
, is Commodore (Retd.), Royal Saudi Navy. He is based in Alkhobar, Saudi Arabia, and can be contacted at:

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

American Jewry's Fight

by Caroline Glick

Over the past year or so, American Jewish opponents of Israel like writer and activist Peter Beinart have sought to intimidate and demoralize Israelis by telling us that American Jews either no longer support us or will stop supporting us if we don't give in to all the Arabs' demands.

But statistical evidence exposes these threats as utter lies. According to mountainous survey evidence, the American Jewish community writ large remains deeply supportive of Israel. Two surveys released last year by the American Jewish Committee and Brandeis University's Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies showed that three quarters of American Jews care deeply about Israel and that Israel is an important part of their Jewish identity. The Brandeis survey notably showed that young American Jews are no less likely to support Israel than they were in the past.

In fact, American Jews under 30 are more hawkish about the Palestinian conflict with Israel than Jews between the ages of 31-40 are.

According to the Brandeis survey, 51 percent of American Jews oppose a future division of Jerusalem, while a mere 29% would support it.

Younger Jews are more opposed to the capital's partition than older Jews are.

It is notable that the Brandeis survey found that political views do not impact American Jews' support for Israel. This is striking because among Americans at large, polls show Republicans are significantly stronger supporters of Israel than Democrats. But not among Jews.

"Liberals felt no less connected than conservatives and were no less likely to regard Israel as important to their Jewish identities. These observations hold true for both younger and older respondents," the Brandeis survey report explained.

Across the board, American Jews blame the Palestinians for the absence of peace and believe there is little chance that there will be peace between Israel and the Palestinians in the foreseeable future. Seventy-five percent agreed with the statement, "The goal of the Arabs is not the return of occupied territories but rather the destruction of Israel"; 94% said the Palestinians should be required to accept the Jewish state's right to exist.

In light of these overwhelming levels of support, it is disconcerting to see that across the US, Jewish communities are failing to prevent anti- Zionist Jews from hijacking communal funds and facilities to finance anti-Israel activities.

CONSIDER A few recent examples.

In Orange County, California, intra-communal rancor is growing over the local Jewish Federation's financial and organizational support for University of California at Irvine's Olive Tree Initiative.

The Federation subsidizes Olive Tree Initiativeorganized tours of Israel for Jewish students. As Tammi Benjamin from UC Santa Cruz explained in a letter last December to local Federation CEO Shalom Elcott and local Hillel director Jordan Fruchtman, while OTI claims to be interested in fostering good relations between Jewish and Arab students, it actually just propagandizes against Israel. The speakers who addressed students participating in the two-week trip were overwhelmingly anti-Israel. Almost all the Palestinian speakers expressed hatred for Israel. Many of the Israeli speakers represented groups that call for economic warfare against Israel and defame Israel as a racist state. Half of the supposedly neutral representatives of international organizations who spoke to the group are notorious for their opposition to Israel.

Rather than end the practice of using Jewish communal funds to propagandize Jewish students to hate the Jewish state that most American Jews support and see as important to their Jewish identity, the Federation and Hillel have dug in their heels.

This week, the Los Angeles Jewish Journal reported that over the past two months, allegedly acting on instructions from the Federation, two local synagogues canceled an event sponsored by the local branch of the Zionist Organization of America at which Irvine Rabbi Dov Fischer was to present information about OTI's anti-Israel activities.

Speaking to the paper, Fischer said, "The amazing thing is how there has been a clamp-down by The Federation to prevent any speech or dissent in the community against The Federation's program. The idea that two different temples in the community, who have all kinds of speakers, canceled this program is profoundly shocking."

Meanwhile on the East Coast, both the Washington and New York Jewish communities are embroiled in a feud over Federation funding for anti-Israel Jewish groups. In Washington, a group of pro-Israel activists operating as the Committee Opposed to Propaganda Masquerading as Art has begun a campaign to end Federation funding for anti-Israel activities.

In a letter to Federation President Susie Gelman and Federation board members from March 6, COPMA's chairman Robert Samet argued, "It is critical that the Federation establish guidelines for withholding funding from partner agencies that engage in political propaganda and activism denigrating Israel and undermining its legitimacy as a strong, secure and independent Jewish state."

COPMA's specific concern is Federation Funding for the District of Columbia Jewish Community Center's professional theater group Theater J.

As the letter explained, "Theater J, a partner agency of the Federation and a recipient of its funding and support, has turned an arts program at the DCJCC... into a platform for political activism that expresses hostility and antipathy towards the State of Israel and little regard for its security."

In 2009, Theater J staged the virulently anti- Semitic post-modern passion play Seven Jewish Children by Caryl Churchill. The play accuses the entire Jewish population of Israel of mass murders that were never committed.

Unfortunately, as COPMA notes, this is par for the course. In the past, Theater J's artistic director Ari Roth organized buses to bring community members to Shepherdstown, West Virginia, to watch a production of the virulently anti-Israel propaganda play My Name is Rachel Corrie.

This year, under Roth's leadership, Theater J presented Return to Haifa, a play that COPMA argues "distorts the history and origins of Israel and makes the historically accurate death of a Jewish child in the Holocaust... comparable to the fabricated and utterly fantastical story of an Arab child allegedly abandoned by his fleeing parents in Haifa in 1948, ostensibly as a result of their terror over advancing Israelis."

In response to COPMA's letter, Roth told the Forward that it "is not a prerogative of the donor" to intervene in artistic content, and claimed that attempts to limit the theater's activities amounted to censorship or blacklisting.

Carol Greenwald, COPMA's treasurer, rejects Roth's arguments. In her words, "The issue is not artistic freedom to create whatever the artist chooses; the issue is the appropriateness of a Jewish communal institution using Jewish communal funding to showcase defamation of the Jewish people."

The Forward quoted Andrew Apostolou, a local Jewish Community Relations Council member, as quite sensibly saying, "There are things a Jewish community shouldn't be doing, like serving a bacon cheeseburger on Yom Kippur. Putting on an anti-Semitic play is one of these things."

COPMA is not alone in its concerns. In New York, a group of activists formed a new organization called JCC Watch to force the New York Jewish Federation to end financial support to the Manhattan JCC due to its partnership with organizations that support economic warfare against Israel through calls for economic boycotts, divestment and sanctions. Like COPMA, JCC Watch asks that the local Federation adopt guidelines to prevent Federation funds from being transferred to groups and programming that showcase calls for economic and political warfare against Israel.

So far, Washington's Federation has not responded to COPMA's letter. Interviewed by the Forward, the Washington Federation's CEO defended giving supporters of anti-Israel sanctions the stage as part of Federation-sponsored panels on the grounds of "welcoming multiple voices." And in an op-ed in New York Jewish Week last month, the New York Federation's CEO defended the JCC's partnership with groups that engage in economic and political warfare against Israel.

WHAT IS going on here? According to the AJC and Brandeis surveys, fewer than 10% of American Jews tend to accept the Arab line against Israel. Given the wall-to-wall support for Israel among American Jews, why do American Jewish organizational leaders refuse to do what their members want them to do? Why are they taking Jewish communal funds to finance activities and causes that are offensive to the Jewish community? Why are they pretending that the call to end communal funding for anti-Israel activities is a call for an abrogation of free speech?

To get a sense of how unprecedented this is, it is useful to consider the American Jewish community's response to Jews for Jesus. While Reform and Orthodox rabbis agree on almost nothing relating to Jewish laws and practices, since the emergence of Jews for Jesus in the 1970s, Reform, Conservative and Orthodox rabbis have been unified in their rejection of the Christian missionary group's protestations of being Jewish.

Everyone understands that while Jews have a perfect right to change their religion, they have no right to force the Jewish community to accept Christians as Jews. That is, they have no right to change the definition of Judaism to include people who worship Jesus.

So-called Messianic Jews falsely call themselves Jews to undermine the community from within. But no Federation feels compelled to invite a representative of so-called Messianic Jews to proselytize on stage as part of a panel discussion in order to "welcome multiple voices."

Hillel organizations have rightly refused space and funding to Messianic Jewish groups.

But today, American Jews find themselves helpless when a marginal group of anti-Zionist Jews demands - like the Messianic Jews of their day - communal funding and space for their anti-Israel activities.

The anti-Zionist groups make the same arguments as the Messianic Jews. They call themselves pro-Israel even as they engage in activities aimed at harming, defaming, weakening and delegitimizing the Jewish state. They claim that refusing them communal funds constitutes a violation of their free speech rights.

Yet while communal leaders did not hesitate to call the so-called Messianic Jews' bluff, they cannot find the way to expunge anti-Israel groups from their umbrella organizations.

The explanation for this behavior is apparently social. Federation leaders don't mind disappointing evangelical Christians. But most of their friends are leftist. Consequently the perceived social cost of taking action against groups like Theater J, J Street, B'Tselem, Breaking the Silence and Jewish Voices for Peace is too high for many American Jewish leaders to bear.

Happily, a handful of committed community members throughout the country are standing up and demanding that their communal leaders act in the interests of the communities they serve. It can only be hoped that the overwhelming majority of American Jews who clearly wish to support Israel will join these activists' call and demand that all Jewish Federations stop allowing anti-Israel groups to feed from the communal trough. If they do, they will find that much to their surprise, the social costs of actions will be far smaller than they expected.

After all, Israel's supporters are the majority.

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.

UPDATE: Yesterday the Forward reported that in September 2009 UC Irvine students met with Hamas leader Aziz Duwaik during an Olive Tree Initiative organized visit to Israel. The Orange County Federation knew about this in October 2009 and yet not only have they continued to support the OTI, they actively blocked public discussion of the OTI as recently as this month.

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Caroline Glick

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

Mob Attacks U.N. Compound in Afghanistan

by IPT News

A mob attacked a United Nations compound in the northern Afghani city of Mazar-i-Sharif Friday, beheading two employees and killing at least six others. It came in response to an American pastor's decision to make good on his promise to burn a Quran last month. The rioting erupted after mosque preachers sermonized the burning, sending upwards of 1,000 worshippers into the streets in a rage.

Pastor Terry Jones created an international incident last year when he threatened to burn a Quran on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The initial threat sparked a worldwide debate about respect for Islam on one hand and free speech on the other. While he backed down on his initial threats, last month the controversial pastor put the Quran on trial and burned the kerosene-soaked book after finding it guilty. While many knew of his initial threat and recanting, Jones' Quran trial and burning were less known.

The news reached Afghanistan and sparked the same outrage of Jones' initial threats. As many as 1,000 protesters burned American flags and chanted "Death to America, Death to Israel." They later attacked a U.N. compound in the city, murdering five Filipino guards and 3 other foreigners at the facility. More than 100 protesters were injured and at least four were killed after Afghani police intervened.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon described the attack as "outrageous and cowardly," even as U.N. spokesman Dan McNorton said the organization was trying to "ascertain all the facts and take care of all our staff."

President Obama condemned the killings "in the strongest possible terms" and saluted U.N. work as "essential to building a stronger Afghanistan."

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IPT News

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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Iran and the Final Grand Jihad

by Ryan Mauro

The documentary produced by Ahmadinejad’s office makes it clear that the Iranian regime sees itself as religiously-commanded to lead a united Arab coalition to destroy Israel in the near future. Interestingly, it said that the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, though it is Sunni, is “in accordance with the Hadith.” The uprisings in the region are being seen as a green light for a new offensive to begin in the Middle East and Islamist forces are moving quickly to maximize their gains.

The immediate flashpoint in this new jihad is in Bahrain. The population is 70 percent Shiite but is ruled by a pro-American, Sunni Royal Family. Massive protests threatened to topple the regime that were responded to with deadly violence condemned by Iran. The Bahraini regime was forced to ask for intervention by the Gulf Cooperation Council and about 1,200 soldiers from Saudi Arabia and 800 from the United Arab Emirates came to its rescue. The Shiite opposition in Bahrain considers these forces to be an “occupation.” The leader of the hardline Haq opposition group flatly stated that the Saudi intervention gives the opposition “the right to appeal for help from Iran.” It is happy to oblige.

Hezbollah has offered support to the Shiite uprising in Bahrain and a website registered by the Iranian government is signing up volunteers to wage jihad against the GCC forces, including “martyrdom” operations that will be assigned via email. The website says that the fighters will be divinely guided by “the redeemer” who is behind the revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia and Egypt and will lead the war against Israel, the U.S. and the enemy Arab governments. It is not clear who this “redeemer” is, but it is further proof that the Iranian regime believes it is fulfilling the commandments of Allah. The website says that a total of 1,858 volunteers have signed up, 60 percent of which are from Iran and 18 percent are from Bahrain. This isn’t just talk. Qatar has seized two Iranian ships near Bahrain loaded with weapons.

At the same time, there are relatively small but consistent protests in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, which is a Shiite majority area where most of the country’s oil resides. A successful Shiite uprising in nearby Bahrain would escalate the situation and the Iranian regime has repeatedly condemned the Saudi treatment of its Shiite minority. The aforementioned documentary produced by Ahmadinejad’s office states that the death of Saudi King Abdullah, either by natural causes or assassination (as called for in the film), is foretold in the Hadith as a sign that this final grand jihad is to begin. King Abdullah is 86 years old and is in very poor health.

It is not difficult to sense the fear instilled in the Saudi Royal Family. It has gone on a massive spending binge to appease its population. It announced a $36 billion aid package earlier this year and just announced a significant larger budget to finance projects around the country, including the upgrading of mosques; new offices for the religious police; the hiring of 60,000 more security personnel; bonuses for government workers; the creation of an anti-corruption agency; the construction of low-income apartments and much more. To Iran, this is more proof that it is about to fulfill prophetic destiny.

The documentary also asserts that the revolution in Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood’s gains are part of this End Times scenario. Iran and the Brotherhood come from different branches of Islam but their struggles are tied. A senior Brotherhood official recently attended a conference in Tehran where he praised Ahmadinejad and said the region needed more leaders like him. The March 19 vote in favor of the constitutional amendments is a boon to the Islamists, as it paves the way for parliamentary elections as early as June and presidential elections as soon as September. This gives minimal time for political forces opposed to the Brotherhood to mobilize and campaign.

In Jordan, protests are smaller in comparison to the rest of the region but they are slowly getting larger, are consistently held and clashes are increasing. Here, too, the Muslim Brotherhood has a very powerful presence. The inevitable removal of Yemeni President Saleh, a staunch enemy of Iran, is also opening doors to the Islamists. The Muslim Brotherhood’s affiliate, Islah, will gain politically and the Yemeni government will be too weak to stand in the way of the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, whose fight is referred to as a “holy revolution” in the regime’s documentary. The Houthis stated recently that their goal is the overthrow of the Yemeni government.

The regime’s film does not say that Al-Qaeda is part of this prophetic jihad and Osama Bin Laden’s picture is on a wall of Iran’s enemies. This does not mean that the terrorist group won’t benefit from this instability. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is already expanding its base in Yemen, seizing a town, a strategic mountain and a weapons factory after the police presence in the area was reduced to cope with the government’s crisis. In Libya, at least one rebel commander belongs to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which is tied to Al-Qaeda, and admits that about 25 of his fighters battled Coalition forces in Iraq. He also says that he was arrested in Pakistan in 2002 for fighting in Afghanistan against invading forces. CNN describes the Muslim Brotherhood branch in Libya as “energized” despite its lack of a presence in Benghazi.

This does not mean that everything is following the Iranian regime’s End Times vision. The uprising in Syria is clearly not in Iran’s interest and neither are the protests in the Gaza Strip and the declining popularity of Hamas. Recent terrorist attacks on Israel may be a desperate attempt to stabilize these situations and/or could be an opening salvo in this envisioned final jihad. Public pressure and protests in Sudan have been enough for President Omar Bashir, an ally of Iran, to announce he will not stay in office beyond his term. And of course, there is the opposition the Iranian regime also faces, though the film indicates that this is seen as a sign of the Hidden Imam’s reappearance as well.

Almost everywhere the Iranian regime looks in the region, it sees vindication of its apocalyptic worldview and signs that the final grand jihad it is meant to lead is imminent. The revolutions in the area are inspiring to Arab peoples seeking justice and freedom but they are just as inspiring to Iran and its Islamist allies. The Middle East is entering a dangerous new phase.

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Ryan Mauro

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