Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Peace Program from Gaza at Last!

by Steven Plaut

Sometimes life requires that we sit back passively and quietly, and savor the Higher Plan being carried out for us before our own eyes, without any efforts on our own part. And that is exactly what is now happening in the serial murders of terrorists and terrorist cheerleaders by other terrorists.

A few days back we had the murder of the malicious Juliano Mer-Khamis, an actor with a Jewish communist mother and an Arab communist father, who spent his days calling for the murder of Zionists and the complete elimination of Israel. He endorsed “armed resistance” against the Jews by the Arabs. And he was murdered, evidently by Islamist terrorists (such as from Hamas) in Jenin. They were upset because the “Resistance Theater” that Mer-Khamis ran in Jenin with another terrorist had staged “Animal Farm” by Orwell and had made some Arab actors dress up on stage as pigs. This sacrilege seems to be what triggered the murder. Mer-Khamis was and continues to be the darling of the Far-Leftist Israeli Jews for a Second Holocaust.

And then comes yesterday’s news of yet another cheerleader for terrorism being murdered by terrorists. This time the “victim” of his own love of terrorism was an Italian cheerleader for Hamas, Vittorio Arrigoni. Aged 36, he had gone to the Gaza Strip to assist Hamas as part of a delegation for the “International Solidarity Movement.” The ISM (or “I Support Murderers”) is a terrorist accomplice movement that openly endorses “armed struggle” by Arabs against Jews, meaning genocidal terrorism. It has collaborated with terrorists, hid them, held weapons for them, and attempted to interfere with Israeli troops arresting terrorists. The most famous ISM terrorist was Rachel Corrie, who decided to commit suicide in order to protect Hamas terrorists by throwing herself in front of an Israeli earth mover.

Arrigoni, whose name sounds very similar to “Arrogant-he,” was kidnapped by terrorists in the Gaza Strip this week. The terrorists called themselves “Salafists,” seemingly associates of the Saudi Wahhabi movement. They also claimed to be from “Al-Qaeda” but probably were from the Islamic Jihad. And they resented Arrigoni’s collaboration with their competitor terrorists from Hamas. So they kidnapped Arrigoni, beat the bejeebers out of him, released a tape of him with a bloodied face, and threatened that he would be murdered by late Friday afternoon if Hamas refused to accede to their demands. (Hamas is holding some of their members in Hamastan prison.)

The kidnappers were impatient and decided not to wait too long for a response and executed Arrigoni, ignoring their own deadline. You can see Arrigoni engaged in his peaceful solidarity with terrorism in this tape here. In their statement, the kidnappers wrote: “The Italian hostage entered our land only to spread corruption.” They also described Italy as “the infidel state”.

Arrigoni had entered Gaza illegally on one of those blockade-running flotilla boats. He personally denounced the Palestinian Authority for “collaboration” with the Zionist regime, and liked to compare Israel to Nazi Germany. He boasted that he was in Gaza to act as a human shield to protect the terrorists from Israeli forces. He was either hanged or strangled by his captors (depending on which news story you are reading). Gaza terrorists have a long history of kidnapping those who come to cheer them.

A correspondent for the anti-Israel BBC was kidnapped and held for 114 days. Even the parents of Rachel Corrie were briefly kidnapped, before the terrorists realized that the Corries could do much more on behalf of terrorism while walking about free.

According to INN: ‘Arrigoni wrote a blog for Guerrilla Radio and for the communist newspaper Il Manifesto. During Israel’s Cast Lead counter terrorist offensive in Gaza, he wrote: “Israel has every right to laugh and sing, even while it massacres its neighbor. Palestinians are only asking to die a different death, one of old age.”’ I can think of no better way to promote peace in the region than to encourage terrorists to kidnap and murder more terrorists and more apologists for terrorism. I can prepare a list of candidates, if any of the terrorist groups would like one.

Let the ISM Hitlerjugend hoist with their own terrorist petard!

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Steven Plaut

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The Soros Plan to Remake Global Finance

by Peter Raymond

George Soros is right; the world's financial system does need to be reformed, but just not in the way he and his collectivist cohorts envision.

So moved by the ongoing financial crisis, Soros felt compelled to take action. The world has suffered as a result of "unfettered" financial markets and Soros decided now is the time to rethink how the global economy and markets should function.

"The entire edifice of global financial markets has been erected on the false premise that markets can be left to their own devices, we must find a new paradigm and rebuild from the ground up. I decided to sponsor INET to facilitate the process. I hope others will join me," Soros said when announcing his initial funding of the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) in 2009.

This implies aggressive market intervention measures carried out by policymakers and regulators had little to do with creating the crisis. As we have come to learn, numerous government policies leading up to the crisis were extremely speculative and, with the benefit of hindsight, categorically irrational. And, they remain so today. So, it is intellectually dishonest to heap the lion share of the blame on markets and private investors when even the medium of exchange was profoundly manipulated by regulators.

Anyway, so began Soros' quest to correct the "deficiencies in our outdated current economic theories" which facilitated the seemingly inadequately named "Great Recession." INET's goal is to inspire "new economic thinking" and encourage "research funding, community building, and spreading the word about the need for change" in order to guide regulatory reform and government policy changes.

The primary purpose of their research seems centered on designing a singular global financial architecture intended to "account" for the "imperfections in individuals" and "bring the economy to a balanced, efficient equilibrium."

High on INET's agenda is to overcome the "prevailing thinking, that the economy is an idealized system of perfectly rational, optimizing individuals and institutions." This view just drips of elitism and yet the vast majority of INET's star economists and policymakers did not forecast the current financial crisis.

It should come as no surprise there is disagreement along ideological lines over what actually brought about the crisis. What is undeniable however, although collectivists will never concede it, in one fell swoop the crisis effectively invalidated their central planning economic models.

But, such blind loyalty to failed policies should come as no surprise since many of INET's highly esteemed participants wholeheartedly believe in the fallacy of a positive multiplier effect from government "stimulus" spending despite Japan's and United States' repeated failed attempts.

With an obvious predisposition for government based solutions, it is predictable much of INET's attention remains focused on the supposed failings of an inherently flawed free market system while ignoring government interventions that distorted and eventually destabilized the markets. In their envisioned world order, regulations and structure is the corrective remedy for "fallible" regulators and market participants that "frequently fall below the standard of being perfectly rational."

The core theme is that government is the channel through which all change must occur. Unmanaged markets are deemed ineffectual in meeting the demands of the fast paced global economy of the 21st century.

But, governments and regulating institutions have proven to be utterly incapable in preventing a financial crisis and pathetically susceptible to lobbying efforts. Furthermore, policies have encouraged risk taking by removing the consequences of failure with bailout schemes.

History shows political agendas inevitably influence policymakers to alter financial regulations and push for credit expansion. These policy schemes create abnormally large investment bubbles that eventually collapse and ripple through the financial market. The size of the "malinvestment" at the time of the collapse determines the level of chaos created.

The point being, government intervention, intentionally or not, perpetuates overinvestment well beyond what would normally occur in a free market. The resulting damage to the economy and the temptation to authorize taxpayer funded bailouts is exponentially greater because of the exaggerated size of these bubbles. Therefore it seems absurd to entrust elitists who have been consistently wrong in their economic forecasts to build a financial system that centralizes power on a global scale.

So-called "new economic thinking" will likely be nothing more than repackaged expansions of Keynesian policies dependent upon central banks, fiat currencies, government "investments," and countercyclical measures. The key difference is the practical abolition of sovereign borders allowing wealth to be distributed globally according to the dictates of a single global banking authority.

There is little reason to presume INET members will experience an "emancipation of belief" and work to reverse the government-centric policies largely responsible for the crisis. Instead, the failures to date are excused as the consequence of under application of Keynesian principles. Or as Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman regularly rails about in his columns; Washington simply did not spend enough to stimulate the economy.

It is even suggested this new economic thinking has the potential to "enable a better world" and may help with "solving climate change, poverty and inequality, and driving sustainable growth in the long run." Forming a global banking consortium with such lofty ambitions is obviously a cause for concern.

Predictably, the estimated costs associated with redistributing wealth away from the world's production centers is likely to be greatly discounted. As is typical of public intellectuals, they will fixate on an unrealistic world vision.

Avoiding a catastrophe after tethering together the global economy with a cumbersome financial structure is improbable in the long run. Any banking crisis created by ill-conceived policies of global bureaucracy, a scenario that seems inescapable, could easily be multiple factors larger than the current one. At the first indications of a looming financial disaster, the system will likely fracture and result in a near collapse of commerce as nations are left with few, if any, alternative sources of credit.

As evidenced by the dilemma facing Euro nations, tensions between conservative and liberal nations could easily escalate as demands for austerity measures go unheeded. Milton Friedman's initial prediction the Euro would not survive a major financial crisis will certainly be put to the test as worsening debt issues strain the economies of member states.

This year's annual INET conference held in Bretton Woods called the "International Political Economy at the Crossroads" most likely will turn out more plans to establish a global architecture that overshadows the free market and restricts financial innovation.

The time has come to question the need for behemoth economic institutions. As far as I am concerned, Soros is consumed with rehashing failed collectivist aspirations that will undermine individual prosperity and market stability.

Today's technology offers the opportunity to completely rethink our arguably outdated concepts regarding mediums of exchange and trade. The preferable course of action is to move toward decentralizing the global economy and financial markets to avoid the systemic risk and moral hazards of a central planning bureaucracy and too big to fail banks.

Unless we are willing to explore options that empower individuals and at least question the validity of central banks, fiat currencies, manipulated interest rates, and stimulus spending, we are left with unremitting government policies seizing more control of financial markets and the economy. Certainly there must be something more sensible and imaginative than establishing a global financial oligarchy.

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Peter Raymond

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Is the Peace Treaty Between Israel and Egypt Finished?

by Khaled Abu Toameh

Those who had hoped that the pro-democracy revolution that toppled the regime of Hosni Mubarak would not affect relations between Egypt and Israel now need to realize that they were wrong..

In the post-Mubarak era, many Egyptians who helped bring down the regime are also strongly opposed to maintaining the peace treaty with Israel.

Egypt's new rulers know exactly what their people think about the peace treaty with Israel. The Supreme Military Council, the de facto government in Egypt, does not dare go against the will of the Tahrir Square demonstrators.

If the demonstrators want Mubarak and his sons thrown into prison, the military rulers will comply. And if the demonstrators want Egypt to stop selling natural gas to Israel, there is no doubt that the military council will have to do something about it.

The Egyptian authorities already announced this week that they would review gas deals with Israel.

Egypt's new rulers are clearly afraid of the young protesters in Tahrir Square, especially when it comes to dealing with Israel. Perhaps that explains why an Egyptian military court has just sentenced 25-year-old "pro-Israel" Egyptian blogger Maikel Nabil to three years in prison.

That also explains why Egyptian soldiers ran away when hundreds of "pro-democracy" demonstrators attacked the Israeli embassy in Cairo a few days ago and set fire to an Israeli flag. The soldiers had been assigned to guard the embassy, but "disappeared" as soon as the protesters showed up.

But it is not only the gas deals that worry the ostensibly moderate Facebook generation in Egypt. They do not want to see the Israeli embassy reopened. Nor do they want to see Israeli diplomats returning to Cairo.

Instead, the Egyptians want their government to lift the blockade on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. The Facebook and Twitter demonstrators would rather see a Hamas ambassador sitting in the Israeli embassy in Cairo.

Even before Mubarak was forced to step down in February, there were signs that the anti-government demonstrators in Cairo's Tahrir Square were also strongly opposed to any forms of relations with Israel.

Back then, eyewitnesses reported that some of the demonstrators had burned Israeli and American flags and chanted slogans against Israel and the US. The anti-Israel and anti-US protests received little coverage, if at all, in the Western media.

Alarmed by the protests, Israel ordered its diplomats and their families to leave Cairo and the embassy was closed. To avoid "provoking" the pro-democracy Facebook generation in Egypt, Israel even removed its flag from the embassy building.

Moreover, given the fact that the tone in the Egyptian media remains extremely anti-Israel, it is hard to see how the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt would survive. The deterioration in relations between Israel and Egypt should serve as a sad reminder to all that the new generation in the Arab world is not marching toward moderation, particularly when it comes to making peace with Israel or even recognizing its right to exist.

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Khaled Abu Toameh

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Next Steps in the Middle East

by Mark Silverberg

Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar recently set out what Israel faces when he noted: "We do not recognize the State of Israel or its right to control any of the land of Palestine. Palestine is holy Islamic land. Our national problem is not related only to the West Bank, Gaza, and al-Quds (Jerusalem)...but to Palestine, all [the territory of] Palestine." By that he means Israel proper or what he terms "the Zionist entity." So far as Hamas is concerned, the battle will continue until Israel is destroyed, even if that takes decades. He must be taken at his word.

He is not alone in this thinking. In a recent poll of Palestinians, when asked, "Do you support or oppose suicide bombings against Israeli civilians?" 56% said they supported it. This poll paralleled the results of an earlier survey conducted jointly by Public Opinion Research of Israel and the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion which found that only 13% of Palestinians agreed with the statement that "Hamas was a terrorist group"; 82% agreed that Hamas was a "freedom-fighting organization"; and a mere 10% believed that bombings targeting Israeli civilians in buses and restaurants could be classified as "acts of terrorism." The world may have been appalled when Israelis are murdered in their schools, cafes, discotheque, wedding halls or buses by Palestinian holy warriors, but the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research reports that 84% of Palestinians approved of these acts of terrorism.

Such attitudes suggest an enormous ethical and moral divide separating Palestinian and Israeli cultures. What the Obama Administration and the Europeans fail to understand -- or pretend not to understand -- is that Hamas was elected in 2006 because its very rationale for existence -- the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state - - reflects the prevailing attitude of mainstream Palestinian society. For the Palestinians, terrorism is not a weapon borne of desperation or poverty; it is a strategic choice.Supporters of both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority both seek the annihilation of Israel, as is openly stated in their charters.

As military historian Victor Davis Hanson writes: "Modern Western man is faced with an awful dilemma, from which he recoils: Real peace and successful reconstruction are in direct proportion to the degree to which an enemy is defeated and acknowledges it - the aim being that he will come to feel that he cannot go on being what he has been." That moment is reached when an enemy is rendered incapable of and unwilling to continue the conflict; only then can an enemy's terror apparatus be dismantled (as was the case of the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka and the FARC in Columbia); its leadership replaced, its capacity to wage further war eliminated; its weapons seized; its militias hunted down; its propaganda machine terminated; its educational system reformed; its human and financial resources channeled into massive social and economic reconstruction, its government and judiciary made transparent, its universities updated, and its population prepared for future of building rather than destroying.. If his historical analysis is correct, neither Israel nor the US will be able to accommodate -- or moderate -- an ideologically-driven enemy, be it Iran or any of its its Middle East proxies whose divinely-inspired mission is to conquer Israel (for starters) and compel its citizens to submit to Islam.

Faced with a choice between annihilation and survival, the Israelis will choose survival. For post-modern children of the Enlightenment, the idea that we would ever have to destroy our enemies to ensure our survival is disturbing. War is neither pleasant nor desirable, but in an environment where a society educates its population virtually from birth to hate Jews and to revere suicide bombers as "martyrs," where Palestinian mothers celebrate the "martyrdom" of their children, name town squares and tournaments after them, and where Palestinians are taught a culture of death in their kindergartens, children's TV programs, textbooks, schools, summer camps, mosques and marketplaces, video games and on the Internet [see], war may become necessary to respond to the culture that spawns such officially-sanctioned sadism, as well as violating of the human rights of the child -- about which putative human rights groups have been mystifyingly silent, perhaps from a bias that should merit examination.

In their time, great generals such as Churchill, Eisenhower and Patton were driven by a concept rarely heard or spoken of these days by Western powers, although referred to incessantly by our enemies: Victory. During World War II, these leaders understood that it would be impossible to end Japanese militarism in the Far East and to dismantle the Hitler Youth, the Nazi SS, the death camps and the cult of Aryan supremacy without the complete destruction of the Third Reich. Only such destruction permitted the re-birth of a new Germany and Japan -- and even then it took seven years before Adenauer came to power. Today, the belief that genocidal, messianic regimes like Iran or Hamas can be bribed or cajoled into overturning the reasons for their existence flies in the face of history.

Eventually, a point will be reached when Palestinian society will be forced to undergo a profound metamorphosis that will sweep away the culture of "martyrdom" and religiously-inspired genocide and sow the political, social, cultural and economic seeds for a new tomorrow. This will not be achieved by forcing the Israelis to concede Palestinian statehood to terrorists, relinquishing the Golan Heights to Syria, returning the Sheba 'a Farms area to Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon, dividing Jerusalem so that it could be taken overt he next day by a new hostile or failed state, rectifying Israel's borders, or settling on a refugee compensation formula – at least, not at present.

Real peace will be achieved only after the Palestinians have been brought to the realization that their dream of conquering Israel is futile, and that whatever the future holds for them, it will be far better than the war they have brought upon themselves.

The US administration and the Europeans are misguided in believing that there is "no military solution" to the problems caused by Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah throughout the Middle East. Multicultural tolerance, appeasement, concessions, and utopian pacifism do not work well against radical Islamists who seek absolute power.

Conflict-resolution theory taught in our universities and the belief that disagreements between nations are not really the result of evil actions or incompatible worldviews, but simply misunderstandings requiring an analysis of the "root causes" of their "grievances" that can be rectified through dialogue and reason will not resolve the "problem" these Islamists see in Israel's existence. As we saw in Mumbai, Islamists are just as violently affronted when Hindus, Buddhists or Christians exercise sovereignty over Muslim minorities. As Michael Ledeen points out, "Peace cannot be accomplished simply because some visiting envoy, with or without an advanced degree in negotiating from the Harvard Business School, sits everyone down around a table so they can all reason together." Unfortunately, in the case of radical Islamists, these are actions best taken after causing them to soberly assessing that their current methods will not gain them anything.

If the Palestinians choose to abrogate their side of international treaties with Israel, this act simply liberates Israel to abrogates its side.

Israel might then re-occupy significant areas of the West Bank with impunity and return to its pre-Oslo administration -- permitting Palestinian society to be re-structured and rebuilt under a new generation of moderate Palestinian leaders.

In Lebanon, breaking the power of Hezbollah would permit the Lebanese army and Lebanese government to regain control of their country, an act that would pave the way for a restoration of the democratic Cedar Revolution that was quashed by Syria and Hezbollah under Iranian tutelage.

The Palestinians could eventually learn to reject violence as both politically ineffective and morally wrong, although that level of understanding may take decades to evolve. One thing is certain - only a society freed from the mental illness that now controls it can evolve into a proper state that can take its rightful place in the family of nations. The imaginary rewards of "martyrdom" -- an act never performed by the children of leaders or dispatchers -- and the aggression that epitomizes Hamas and Hezbollah must be defeated. Anything short of this merely prolongs the conflict; delays reconstruction; sows the seeds for future conflict, and renders peaceful Middle East impossible.

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Mark Silverberg

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Justice Served in an American-Islamic Honor Killing

by Phyllis Chesler

Arizona Judge Roland Steinle has just sentenced Faleh Almaleki to 34½ years in prison. According to live reporting from the courtroom, the judge noted that Almaleki showed no remorse after the murder, that he did not forgive his daughter, that he did what suited his own purpose. The judge also said this was the hardest case he had to face in his six years on the bench. He found no mitigating factors and sentenced Almaleki to 34 and 1/2 years: 15 years for the aggravated assault of Khalaf, 3 and 1/2 years for leaving the scene of an accident, and 16 years for the second-degree murder of his daughter. He was facing a maximum total of 46 years.

Thus, today we have witnessed Iraqi-American Faleh Almaleki being sentenced in Phoenix, Arizona for having honor murdered his 20-year-old daughter Noor and for having attempted to murder Amal Khalaf, the woman who was trying to protect her. In October of 2009, he followed the daughter, whom he had tormented all her life, to a shopping mall, lurked outside, then boldly ran over her precious, lovely body with a two-ton Cherokee jeep. He also tried to run Amal Khalaf down and managed to injure her seriously. Then he fled. Faleh flew to England via Mexico, but was arrested at Heathrow Airport and sent back for trial.

He made his escape with the help of his wife, Seham, Noor’s mother, and his son, Ali. Seham made sure Faleh had his diabetes medicine with him; perhaps she packed a little bag for him too. Seham was no kinder to Noor than her father was. Seham cursed Noor on a regular basis and made life at home so impossible that Noor left. She moved in with the sympathetic Amal, whose son, Marwan, Noor may have begun to date. Seham soon cursed the woman who dared give Noor shelter.

What exactly was Noor’s crime? She had refused to remain in an arranged marriage in Iraq. She wanted to live in America, not Iraq. Noor also insisted on dressing like a modern, American girl—worse, she dared to choose her own boyfriend, another Iraqi-American. In her family’s eyes, she was a “whore,” a “disobedient” daughter who deserved to die. Their honor depended on her death.

Noor is not the first young girl who has been honor murdered in the United States. Daughter-stalking, daughter-monitoring, and daughter-killing by the family of origin is one of the distinguishing features of a classic honor killing. This is very different from American domestically violent femicide, which usually targets wives who are murdered by husbands who commit the crime alone, not with the assistance of their own families of origin or with the victim’s family of origin. (This is sometimes the case in honor killings.) Battered wife-murder in America is not usually an expression of a family “conspiracy plot,” nor are such killers seen as heroes.

Faleh Almaleki was convicted of second-degree murder, aggravated assault, and two counts of fleeing the scene of a serious-injury accident. He claimed that it was all “accidental,” that he only meant to drive past his daughter and spit at her. He claimed that he lost control of the car.

I cannot imagine what it might be like growing up in a family and in a culture where you know, in advance, that your own parents, brothers, sisters, first cousins, and uncles might be the ones who will one day kill you. I would think that “trust” and “intimacy” would be difficult and that paranoia, based on reality, would run rampant.

I do not believe that most Americans understand how profoundly different a shame and honor culture is from our own. I do know that the media has consistently misled American readers about what an honor killing is and who commits most honor killings in America, Canada, and Europe. Based on my 2010 study, it is clear that 91% of all honor killings in the West are committed by Muslims. Yes, Hindus and Sikhs commit the rest, but otherwise, they confine their honor killings to India and do not export them to the West. It is not relevant whether Islam, Sharia law, pre-Islamic tribal customs, a misunderstanding of either tribal law or Islam are responsible for such murders. What is relevant is that leading Islamic religious and political figures have not abolished such crimes or excommunicated such murderers.

In America, a murder is a murder and must be treated as such. There are no “cultural” justifications or multi-cultural justifications that belong in an American court of law.

In 1989, in St Louis, Missouri, 16 year-old Palestina Isa was the first young girl who was known as a victim of an honor killing on American soil. Her crime? She was academically ambitious and dared to have an African-American friend, a boy (not a romantic interest). But Palestinians, like many Muslims, are anti-African and anti-black and they viewed Palestina as a “whore.” She was routinely beaten and often turned up at school with bruises and a black eye. Her mother and sisters clamored for her death. Her mother held her down for 20 minutes while her father stabbed her 13 times. Based on FBI tapes of the actual murder, (the FBI was monitoring him as an Abu Nidal terrorist), Zein Isa was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. He died in prison of diabetes. Palestina’s mother Maria’s death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment without parole.

In 2006, in Ottawa, Canada, 16-year-old Aqsa Parvez was strangled to death by her brother (at the instigation of her father) because she refused to wear a hijab. The father and the brother were both convicted of second-degree murder and were given sentences of 18 years to life. However, her mother, who sweet-talked her into returning home from the shelter for battered women, was not charged with complicity.

In 2008, in Irving, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, 18-year-old Sarah Said and 17-year-old Amina Said were shot to death by their highly abusive Egyptian-born father because of their “Western” ways. (He physically, sexually, and psychologically abused them from the time they were children.) Nevertheless, both Sarah and Amina were academically talented, dressed like Westerners, and had infidel boyfriends who were actually trying to help them save their lives. Their American-born mother had lured them back home to their deaths. The father escaped and is still a fugitive, and their mother was never charged for her complicity in the murders.

The laws in America allow for conspirators to also be tried. Thus far, that has not happened here. It has happened in Europe.

For example, in 2006, in Denmark, Ghazala Khan was shot to death by her brother at the order of her father because she had married an “unapproved” man. A Danish court sentenced nine members of the family to lengthy jail terms for their part in the conspiracy: the father got life; the brother, an aunt and two uncles got 16 years; and four other members of the family got sentences of between 8 and 16 years.

Great Britain passed legislation which allowed police to return British-Muslim girls and women whose families had tricked or kidnapped them into marriages in southeast Asia against their will. If the police had knowledge of this and could find such women, and if they indeed asked to be “repatriated,” the police did just that. In 2004, Great Britain also began re-classifying old murders. In 2006, in London, Banaz Mahmod was raped and strangled to death by two of her cousins and a hired gun at the order of her father and uncle. Her “crime” was that she had left an arranged marriage. The two cousins fled to Iraq after the murder; they were the first suspects ever to be extradited from Iraq to Britain. All five men involved were sentenced to life in prison; the men will be eligible for parole after 17-23 years.

Immigration, cultural identity, and religious freedom are complex and emotionally charged issues. Immigrants need to bring something of “home” along with them; food, language, religious practices have, in the past, been assimilation-friendly. Many Muslim immigrants are sophisticated and Western-oriented; some are even staunchly secular and/or anti-Islamist. However, the kinds of Muslims (or Sikhs and Hindus) who commit honor murders on our soil are not. They are importing barbarism and criminal misogyny. The remedies will be costly and take a great deal of time and will include a combination of careful screening procedures, combined with citizenship, police, judicial, and social work education.

I don’t think this will solve the problem. I am not sure what will, other than closing our doors to Muslim immigration which is something that I cannot in good conscience recommend. Many Muslims and other immigrants from Third World countries are in flight from at-home tyranny; many Muslim girls and women are in flight from being honor murdered or genitally mutilated in their home countries. Do we really want to close our doors to them?

FrontPageMag Editor’s note: See Jamie Glazov’s recent speech before the San Fernando Valley ACT! for America chapter on March 16, 2011, in which he did a power-point presentation on honor-killing victims (including Noor Almaleki) to respect their memories — and to expose the Left’s agenda of burying their memory and excusing their murderers:

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Phyllis Chesler

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

The Making of an American Jihadist: Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad

by IPT News

"My son was programmed and trained to kill by radical Islam." Jihadists "stole my son. They raped his mind. They changed his thoughts, they changed his behavior…and they manipulated him. He is no longer Carlos; he is Abdulhakim. I ask God to give me my son back."

– Melvin Bledsoe, describing the radicalization of his son Carlos (AKA Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad)

He is still trying to understand how it happened. How his son went from a happy young man with a bright future to an accused murderer who claims it was an act of jihad and that he would have killed more people if could have.

Melvin Bledsoe isn't hiding from his son's path to violence. He testified about it on Capitol Hill, drawing dismissive comments from members of Congress, including one who all but blamed him for his son's actions. In an interview with the Investigative Project on Terrorism, Bledsoe details his son's spiral into radical Islam and his family's efforts to thwart it.

The Bledsoe family wasn't thrilled when their son Carlos gave up being a Baptist and converted to Islam in 2004. He changed his name to Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad and engaged in a series of behavioral changes. He saw his family less. He set his dog free in the woods because he believed Islam regarded dogs as unclean. He tried to remove a picture of Dr. Martin Luther King from the wall of the family home on grounds that Islam prohibits "worshipping" anyone but Allah.

Then, Carlos/Abdulhakim dropped out of Tennessee State University in Nashville about a year after enrolling. He had planned to major in business and take over the family's tour business when his parents retired.

His son's decision to drop out or college "was against all the things that we stood for as a modern African-American family," Bledsoe said. He had been unable to attend college because his parents couldn't afford it and he wanted to make it possible for his son to achieve his dreams. But "that picture of his dreams turned into a nightmare for us," he added.

He also was troubled by the fact that, despite dozens of trips to Nashville to see his son, he was never able to meet any of the imams or other local Muslim leaders who were having such a transformative effect on his son's life. "These people would never show up or never be found when we visited Nashville," he said.

Looking back, he suspects that his son's religious mentors wanted "to separate him from his family and friends." These people wanted him to regard his family as "non-believers" with the understanding "you must do everything possible to recruit your family to be converted to Islam," he said. His son unsuccessfully tried to convert members of the Bledsoe family. Bledsoe said he reacted angrily because "I didn't want anyone to take away my understanding of Jesus Christ."

Things went from bad to worse when Muhammad traveled to Yemen in 2007 for the stated purpose of teaching English. Relatives tried to talk him out of it. But when that didn't work, they made him promise that he would avoid any involvement in radical activity. He agreed.

Bledsoe believes his son may have planned to do that, but had no idea that in going to Yemen he was being "set up" by jihadist recruiters (he calls them "hunters") intent on radicalizing him. The hunters confiscated the video camera his family gave him, and he kept losing his cell phone, Bledsoe said.

Details of his time in Yemen remain murky. He may have studied under a radical imam. In September 2008, Muhammad married one of his students in Aden. Two months later, he was arrested for overstaying his visa and carrying a fake Somali passport. Muhammad said he was carrying it because he planned to go to Somalia to fight a jihad against Jews and Americans.

Bledsoe told the Investigative Project on Terrorism that he only learned his son was in jail because his Yemeni wife searched frantically through his belongings where she found the Bledsoe family's telephone number in Memphis.

Over the next few months, Melvin Bledsoe embarked on an intensive lobbying campaign to win his son's release. An FBI agent from Nashville traveled to Yemen to interview his son in jail. Eventually, State Department officials persuaded Yemen's interior minister to free Abdulhakim Muhammad. In January 2009, he was released from jail and, against his wishes, deported from Yemen to the United States.

The Road to Murder in Little Rock

During his time in a Yemeni prison, Muhammad seethed with rage at what he regarded as American and Jewish persecution of Muslims. He wanted revenge.

His parents developed a plan to "Westernize" his son upon his return and draw him away from radical Islam. They planned to expand the family's travel business, Blues City Tours, to Little Rock, and put their son in charge. They would also try to help him get his Yemeni wife a visa to come to America.

His son agreed, but things quickly soured. According to Bledsoe, they learned that his daughter-in-law "would probably never arrive in America" because it was virtually impossible for someone from Yemen, a hotbed of Islamic radicalism, to get a U.S. visa. That led to fight a fight which ended with Muhammad telling his wife that he was divorcing her.

As the young man's marriage crumbled, he was summoned to Nashville for a meeting with the same FBI agent who had interviewed him in Yemen. Melvin Bledsoe suspects the FBI wanted to "flip" his son and get him to work for the government monitoring militant groups in the Nashville area. The family, by contrast, wanted to distance him from these very groups and integrate him into the family business in Little Rock, hundreds of miles away.

In retrospect, it seems clear that neither the FBI nor the Bledsoe family realized the degree to which Muhammad had already been radicalized when he returned to the United States in January 2009. Despite his incarceration in Yemen, FBI officials have said Muhammad was not under surveillance.

Muhammad lived with his parents in Memphis for three months, before moving to Little Rock in April to run the family's new tour business there.

Leaving home allowed Muhammad to begin training to carry out his jihad against the United States. In Little Rock, he bought guns and ammunition, test firing them at empty construction sites. By late May, he decided it was time to strike.

First Attempts Failed

Muhammad drove from Memphis to what he believed was the Nashville home of an Orthodox rabbi. He threw a Molotov cocktail at the house but it failed to ignite. Muhammad then drove to an Army recruiting center in Florence, Ky. to carry out an attack, but found it closed.

Frustrated, Muhammad he went back to Little Rock on June 1, 2009. He saw two men in Army fatigues standing outside a recruiting station smoking. He opened fire, killing Pvt. William Long and wounding Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula. Muhammad was stopped and arrested by police a short distance away.

He has been behind bars at the Pulaski County Detention Facility since his arrest. Muhammad said he would have killed more soldiers if they had been in the parking lot. He told Little Rock detectives that the shooting and killing of soldiers at the recruiting center was an act of jihad and not murder.

He has since proclaimed himself a member of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula who wanted to "carry out jihad in America" after returning to the United States. Muhammad later told U.S. investigators that he planned "to attack Jewish groups and U.S. Army recruiting centers to avenge what they're doing in Palestine or years of killing Muslims." Evidence found on his computer indicated that he scouted possible targets in the United States, including Jewish organizations, a Baptist church and a child-care center before traveling to the recruiting station and opening fire on the soldiers.

After the shootings, officials from the Arkansas Division of Mental Health Services interviewed Muhammad to determine whether he understood the charges against him and was able to assist in his own defense. The interviewer found that Muhammad "did not have mental disease or mental defect."

He told the examining doctor that he had planned to go to Somalia to join others who wanted to wage jihad, and that while jailed in Yemen he began planning to carry out jihad on U.S. soil. When he returned to the United States, Muhammad added, he had a great hatred for the country and the American military in particular.

Bledsoe traveled to the jail twice a month to see his son. But he hasn't returned since he denounced radical Islam in testimony before the Homeland Security Committee last month. The testimony upset his son, who views any criticism of radical Islam as an attack on all Muslims, he said.

"We loved our son and he loved us," Bledsoe said. But Muhammad now regards his family as "infidels," believing that they "must die in hell" if they refuse to convert to Islam.

Bledsoe doesn't pull any punches in assessing the behavior of some of the lawmakers who dismissed the concerns he raised in his testimony on radicalization. U.S. Rep. Al Green (D-Tex.), complained that King should have broadened the scope of the hearings to include violent domestic hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan.

Green's comments "angered me. I came to Washington to testify on the homegrown radicalization of American citizens," Bledsoe told the IPT. "I didn't travel here to talk about the KKK, because as far as I'm concerned, their mask has been pulled off. I'm concerned right now with those people who are stealing our babies and our sons."

Today, radical Islam is a "far greater threat" to American security than the Klan, Bledsoe said.

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IPT News

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Palestinians Murder Their Supporters

by Daniel Pipes

Note the pattern of Palestinians who murder the groupies and apologists who join them to aid in their dream of eliminating Israel.

  • Angelo Frammartino, an Italian, was killed by stabbing in eastern Jerusalem in August 2006 by someone affiliated with Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
  • Juliano Mer-Khamis, who appears to have been an Israeli citizen, killed in early April 2011 in Jenin by persons unknown.
  • Vittorio Arrigoni, another Italian, killed in recent days in Gaza by a Salafi group holding him hostage.

(Readers are invited to send in further examples; and this list will be updated as needed.)

Comments: (1) These murders neatly sum up the frenzy and depravity within Palestinian society, surely the sickest on earth, what with its suicide factory, its celebration of terrorists, and its cult of death. (2) Consistent with this morbidity, it also devours its admirers. (April 15, 2011)

Vittorio Arrigoni, an Italian would-be Palestinian.

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Daniel Pipes

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Turkey’s Cautionary Tale

by Caroline B. Glick

Today’s Turkey is a cautionary tale for the West. But Western leaders are loath to consider its lessons.

Ever since Turkey’s Islamist Justice and Development AKP party under Recip Tayip Erdogan won the November 2002 elections, Western officials have upheld the AKP, Erdogan and his colleagues as proof that political Islam is consonant with democratic values. During Erdogan’s June 2005 visit to the White House, for instance, then-president George W. Bush praised Turkish democracy as “an important example for the people in the broader Middle East.”

Unfortunately, nine years into the AKP’s “democratic” regime it is clear that Erdogan and his colleagues’ embrace of the language and tools of democracy was a mile wide and an inch thick. They used democracy to gain power. Now that they have power, they are systematically destroying freedom in their country.

Turkey ranks 138th in the international media freedom group Reporters Sans Frontieres country index on press freedom. Sixty-eight journalists are languishing in Turkish jails for the crime of doing their job. The most recent round-up of reporters occurred in early March. And it is demonstrative of Turkey’s Islamist leaders’ exploitation of democratic freedoms in the service of their tyrannical ends.

As Der Spiegel reported last week, veteran journalists Ahmet Sik from the far-left Radikal newspaper and Nedim Sener from the highbrow Milliyet journal were among those rounded up. As radical leftists, both men oppose the AKP’s Islamist politics. But they shared its interest in weakening the Turkish military.

The Left opposed the military’s constitutional role as the overseer of Turkish democracy because the military used that role to persecute leftists. The AKP party opposed the military’s power because it blocked the party’s path to Islamizing Turkish society and politics. When the AKP turned its guns on the military it used leftist journalists to support its actions.

This collusion came to a head in 2007. In a bid to destroy the legitimacy of the military, the AKP regime has engaged in unprecedented levels of wiretapping of the communications of senior serving and retired generals.

This wiretapping operation preceded the exposure in 2007 of the so-called Ergenekon conspiracy in which senior military commanders, journalists, television personalities, entertainers and businesspeople have been implicated in an alleged attempt to topple the AKP government. As part of the Ergenekon investigation, over the past four years, hundreds of non-Islamist leaders from generals to journalists have been arrested and held without trial.

Ironically, Sik, who is now accused of membership in the Ergenekon plot, was an editor at the leftist weekly magazine Notka that “broke” the conspiracy story.

As Der Spiegel notes, the arrest of Sik and Sener shows that the AKP’s early embrace of investigative reporters and championing of a free press was purely opportunistic. Once Sik, Sener and the other 66 jailed reporters had finished discrediting the military, the regime had no need for them. Indeed, they became a threat.

Both Sik and Sener have recently written books documenting how Turkey’s version of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Fetulah Gulen network, has taken over the country’s security services.

In an interview this month with the opposition Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review, former Turkish president Suleyman Demirel warned that the AKP has established “an empire of fear” in Turkey.

TURKEY’S DESCENT into Islamist tyranny has not simply destroyed freedom in Turkey. It has transformed Turkey’s strategic posture in a manner that is disastrous for the West. And yet, in this arena as well, the West refuses to notice what is happening.

Earlier this week the US Ambassador to Ankara Francis Ricciardone gave an interview to the Turkish media in which he romantically upheld the US-Turkish partnership. As he put it, “Our interests are similar. Even if we have different methods and targets, our strategic vision is the same.”

Sadly, there is no way to square this declaration with Turkish policy.

This week it was reported that NATO member Turkey is opening something akin to a Taliban diplomatic mission in Ankara. Turkey supports Hamas and Hizbullah. It has begun training the Syrian military. It supports Iran’s nuclear weapons program. It has become the Iranian regime’s economic lifeline by allowing the mullahs to use Turkish markets to bypass the UN sanctions regime.

In less than 10 years, the AKP regime has dismantled Turkey’s strategic alliance with Israel. It has inculcated the formerly tolerant if not pro- Israel Turkish public with virulent anti-Semitism. It is this systematic indoctrination to Jew-hatred that has emboldened Turkish leaders to announce publicly that they support going to war against Israel.

The Turkish government stands behind the al- Qaida- and Hamas- linked IHH group. IHH organized last year’s pro-Hamas flotilla to Gaza in which IHH members brutally attacked IDF naval commandoes engaged in a lawful mission to maintain Israel’s lawful maritime blockade of Gaza’s coast. With the support of the Turkish government, IHH is now planning an even larger flotilla to assault Israel’s blockade of Gaza next month.

Actually, in a sign of the intimacy of its ties to the AKP regime, this week IHH announced it is considering postponing the next pro-Hamas flotilla in order to ensure that its illegal pro-terror campaign will not harm the AKP’s electoral prospects in Turkey’s national elections scheduled for June.

American and other Western officials have argued that it would be wrong to distance their governments from Turkey or in any way censure the NATO member because doing so will only strengthen the anti-Western forces in the anti- Western government. Instead, Western leaders have done everything they can to appease Erdogan.

The US even allowed him to invade Iraqi Kurdistan.

Unfortunately, this appeasement policy has only harmed the West and NATO. Take the behavior of NATO’s Secretary-General and former Danish prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen. As Denmark’s prime minister, Rasmussen stood up boldly to the Islamists when they demanded that he apologize for the Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten’s publication of caricatures of Muhammad in 2005. Yet when Turkey threatened to veto his appointment as NATO secretary-general in 2009 over the Islamists’ rejection of free speech, Rasmussen abandoned his strong defense of Western liberal values to placate the Turks.

In a humiliating speech Rasmussen said, “I was deeply distressed that the cartoons were seen by many Muslims as an attempt by Denmark to mark or insult or behave disrespectfully towards Islam or the Prophet Muhammad... I respect Islam as one of the world’s major religions as well as its religious symbols.”

Rasmussen then proceeded to appoint Turks to key positions in the alliance.

Far from reining in Turkey’s anti-Western policies, by maintaining Turkey in NATO Western powers have been forced to curtail their own defense of their interests.

NATO’s incoherent mission in Libya is case in point. It can be argued that Germany’s large and increasingly radicalized Turkish minority played a role in German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to risk her country’s good ties with Britain and France and refuse to support the Libyan mission. So, too, it was reportedly due to President Barack Obama’s deference to Turkey that the US failed to support the anti-regime forces until Gaddafi organized a counteroffensive against them. So if as appears increasingly likely, Gaddafi is able to survive the NATO-backed insurgents’ bid to overthrow him, he will owe his survival in no small measure to Erdogan.

TURKEY IS a cautionary tale for the West, which is now faced with the prospect of AKP-like regimes from Egypt to Tunisia to Jordan to the Persian Gulf. And the real issue that Western leaders must address is how things in Turkey were permitted to deteriorate to the point they have without any US or European official lifting a finger to stem the Islamist tide? The answer, it would seem, is a combination of professional laziness and cultural weakness. This mix of factors is also on display in the US’s behavior toward the revolutionary forces active throughout much of the Arab world.

Professional laziness stands at the root of the West’s decision not to contend with the unpleasant truth that the AKP is an Islamist party whose basic ideology has more in common with Osama bin Laden’s values than with George Washington’s. This truth was always available. Erdogan and his colleagues did not make any special efforts to hide what they stand for.

The West chose not to pay attention because its senior officials knew if they did, they would have to do something. They would have had to distance themselves from Turkey, remove Turkey from NATO and seek to contain the power of the Erdogan regime. And this would have been hard and unpleasant.

So, too, they knew that if they noticed the nature of the AKP they would have to throw themselves deep into Turkish society and defend the superiority of Western values over Islamist values. They would have had to locate and support Turkish leaders who are willing to adopt Western values and then cultivate, fund and empower them. This also would have been hard and unpleasant.

Likewise, in post-Mubarak Egypt, it is easier to believe fairy tales about Facebook revolutions and Westernized student leaders than face the harsh truth that from Amr Moussa to Mohamed ElBaradei to Yousef Qaradawi there are no leaders in post-Mubarak Egypt who support the peace with Israel or believe that Egypt has common interests with Israel and the US. There are no potential leaders in Egypt who share Western values of individual liberty and human rights.

And as in Turkey, the price for recognizing these inconvenient facts is taking effective action to counter them. As in Turkey, the West will be forced to do hard things like develop a policy of containing rather than engaging Egypt, and of identifying and cultivating forces in Egyptian society that are willing to embrace John Locke, John Stuart Mill and Adam Smith over Hassan al-Banna and Qaradawi.

Rather than do any of these hard things, Western leaders have lied to themselves about the nature of these forces and regimes. They have told themselves that there is no problem with the likes of Erdogan and his Egyptian cohorts, and opted to limit their meddling in the internal affairs of others to endless attempts to undermine and overthrow successive pro- Western, democratic, non-leftist governments in Israel. These governments, they have argued, must be replaced by leftist parties in order to feed the West’s fantasy that all the problems of the region, all its Qaradawis and Erdogans, will magically become Thomas Jeffersons and John Adamses if Israel would just cut a deal with the PLO.

This fantasy is convenient for lazy Western cultural cowards. They know that there will be no pushback for their policies. Israel won’t attack them. And by pretending the Islamists share their values and strategic interests they are free to take no action to defend their values and strategic interests from Islamist assault.

But while this strategy has been convenient for policymakers, it has done great damage to their countries. The growing menace that is Islamist Turkey teaches us that professional laziness and cultural squeamishness are recipes for strategic disasters.

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Caroline B. Glick

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Next Declaration of Palestinian Statehood

by Seth Mandel

On Tuesday, the United Nations published a report by its Middle East coordinator claiming that the Palestinian Authority is prepared to govern a state of its own, and that any challenges it faces would be the fault of the continued Israeli “occupation.”

The report is another step toward the declaration of a Palestinian state with the imprimatur of the United Nations. Just a few months ago the Palestinian leadership of Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad were threatening unilateral declaration through the UN Security Council, though that would be subject to an almost certain veto by the U.S. This time, the Palestinians are seriously floating a plan to call for a vote on statehood by the full General Assembly this coming September.

But as University of San Diego law professor Abraham Bell pointed out, this would not enable the Palestinians to avoid the American veto.

“Member states have to be recommended by the Security Council, and then after the Security Council recommends them, the General Assembly can then vote by two-thirds majority to accept them,” Bell said.

Bell said that if the U.S. vetoes the resolution at the Security Council, the Palestinian Authority would be denied statehood, but that in the General Assembly the Palestinians would likely have the votes for a supermajority. If the Palestinians get only the supermajority vote in the General Assembly, their status would not change one iota under international law. “It doesn’t make something that wasn’t a state into a state. And failure to win the vote, doesn’t make what is a state, not a state.”

But that doesn’t mean the Palestinians would gain nothing from the vote, even if the resulting resolution is nonbinding. The Heritage Foundation’s Brett Schaefer, author of ConUNdrum: The Limits of the United Nations and the Search for Alternatives, said that the Palestinians could still open certain legal doors with such a vote, and would certainly reap some diplomatic benefit from it.

“It’s obviously a political coup for the Palestinians, because what it does is it signals widespread recognition of them as an independent state,” Schaefer said. “It could lead to diplomatic recognition individually among states in increasing numbers. And it does give them more leverage over certain things including, potentially, joining the International Criminal Court, as a participant in that. That’s a double-edged sword. One ramification of that, should it happen, would be that any attacks that Israel launches on Palestinian territory could be subject to the jurisdiction of the ICC. However, the Palestinians themselves would also be subject to that jurisdiction. I think that the Palestinians would want to think long and hard about whether they’d want to subject themselves and the actions of Hamas, who operate in their territory, to that type of jurisdiction.”

Ironically, Bell said it is Hamas in Gaza that possess the legal prerequisites to form a state—not Fatah, which controls the West Bank and runs the PA.

“Hamas in Gaza has the legal ingredients, which are territory, a population, government, and a capacity to carry on foreign relations,” Bell said. “So if they declare themselves to be a state, I think they are a state. They don’t apparently have any interest. And then you have Fatah, which controls some authority in the West Bank, though under Israel, and I don’t think they have the ingredients. Do they have territory? It’s doubtful; they don’t really control exclusively any territory. Do they have a government? Yes, but it’s subordinate to Israel under the agreements. They have a population; they have the capacity to carry on foreign relations. So I think they’re missing ingredients. The General Assembly voting to say that they’re a state doesn’t make them actually one if they’re missing legal ingredients. And they’re the ones who are going to be pressing for this vote.”

Both Bell and Schaefer agreed that the vote would be designed to put diplomatic pressure on Israel. Bell referenced the vote the PLO called for in 1988, which was intended to pressure Israel into unilaterally relinquishing territory that UN member states now recognized as part of “Palestine.”

Amir Mizroch, former executive editor of the Jerusalem Post, believes it would accomplish just that—if the Palestinians invoked UNGA Resolution 377, also known as the “uniting for peace” resolution. It states that the General Assembly may take matters into its own hands if the Security Council fails to uphold its responsibilities to maintain peace. If the Palestinians won a GA vote after invoking 377, Mizroch wrote on his website, it would put Israel in an exceedingly difficult situation diplomatically.

“Right off the bat [Palestine] will claim that it is being occupied by another UN member state, and will seek Security Council action. At that point, Israel’s diplomatic wiggle room is dramatically reduced. The argument that the West Bank is disputed land and that the Jews have a historical claim to it is in dispute only amongst Israelis: the rest of the world does not prescribe to this claim in the least,” Mizroch wrote. “As free nations emerge all around us, Israel will be challenged to maintain its image of a stable democracy if it continues to keep the lid on Palestinian national aspirations. The cries of freedom all across the Middle East are authentic, and the Palestinians are part of this train whether the Israeli government likes it or not.”

But it will also create a political migraine for the United States, putting U.S. officials in what Schaefer said would be a “difficult diplomatic dilemma.” Unilateral measures complicate American mediation efforts. That’s why Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the UN, said in testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week that she believes “the tough issues between Israelis and Palestinians can be resolved only by direct negotiations between the parties—not in New York.”

“The United States would obviously work with other countries to make them aware of the kind of strain that this vote would place on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and would try to urge them to avoid that kind of a showdown that could ultimately undermine that effort rather than advance it,” Schaefer said.

But if anyone encouraged such unilateral moves, it was President Obama, according to Anne Bayefsky, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and leader of the institute’s Eye on the UN project. Bayefsky said Obama’s speech to the 2010 UNGA set an artificial deadline for the creation of a Palestinian state as September 2011, thus inspiring the Palestinians to call for this vote.

“If President Obama was serious about preventing such a unilateral declaration he could immediately take three steps,” Bayefsky said. “One, he could rescind his artificial deadline of September 2011 for Palestinian statehood that he set of his own volition in his 2010 General Assembly speech. Two, he would make it clear as a matter of urgency that such a declaration would result in an immediate and complete cessation of U.S. funding to UNRWA; UNRWA funding by U.S. taxpayers would necessarily cease since there would be no Palestinian refugees as they would all be citizens of Palestine. Three, he should make it clear to his Quartet partners that such a declaration would render the Oslo accords and the Roadmap null and void, since it would constitute a unilateral rejection by the Palestinian Authority of its obligations thereunder, thereby ending any obligations under prior agreements on Israel’s part as well.”

Bayefsky said the president has shown no signs of doing any of the above; unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state would therefore be on his shoulders.

Bell said that as much of a headache as it would be for the U.S., the American delegation would still vote no. The real target, therefore, would be Europe.

“It’s not U.S. pressure with the Palestinians that’s going to decide things, it’s U.S. pressure with Europe that’s going to decide things, because ultimately this is a Palestinian gambit to get Europe into a fight with Israel,” Bell said. “If it looks like it’s going to be successful, the Palestinians will go forward with it.”

Bell said the European countries have to do more than vote no—they have to signal to the Palestinians that a state can only come about through internationally recognized norms and law and not through political warfare or diplomatic maneuvering. He said the Europeans might be gun shy on such recognition after their experience with the break-up of Yugoslavia and the independence of the Balkan states that propelled the region into war.

“There is a danger in ratcheting up the political stakes in this way,” Bell said. “And I think the Europeans can understand that putting people into a corner where war is a possible result is not a good idea.”

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Seth Mandel

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Pro-Israel Penn State Students Assaulted for Putting up ‘Palestinian Wall of Lies’

by Emily Esfahani Smith

This article is reprinted from The Blaze.

The Collegian of Penn State reports:

A 10-by-10-foot sign drew conflict and crowds of more than 50 people outside the HUB-Robeson Center Thursday afternoon.

The sign, part of a demonstration by the Penn State chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, was titled “The Palestinian Wall of Lies.” It featured two large silhouettes of men with guns and outlined 10 “lies” the group believes Palestinians propagate.

YAF President Samuel Settle led the demonstration, handing out pamphlets and attempting to strike up conversation with passersby.

“Many people have hatred for Israel and that’s why this is important,” Settle (junior-political science and history) said. “People need to look at the facts.”

But the demonstration didn’t go without opposition.

One student — who fled the scene before providing comment — yelled obscenities at Settle and the rest of the group, calling it “terrible” and proceeding to kick the group’s box of handouts across the sidewalk.

Other students simply shook their heads. Some even laughed.

One student’s opposition to the sign took an aggressive turn. In the video below, a pro-Palestinian student gets into an argument with the YAF demonstrators about the sign. Near the end, the pro-Palestinian student’s frustration and anger reaches a bit of a boiling point, causing him to reach for the camera and then kick a box belonging to the YAF demonstrators across the quad-like area.

The YAF president, Samuel Settle, describes the incident in his own words:

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.

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Emily Esfahani Smith

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Israel Asks Turkey to Stop Gaza-Bound Flotilla

by AK Group

Israel has urged Turkey not to allow a human-rights organization to dispatch another aid convoy to Gaza, in a move to avert a repetition of last year's crisis on the Mavi Marmara aid ship.

"We have explained our views [on the new convoy campaign] to the Turkish government," Israeli Ambassador to Turkey Gaby Levy told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Tuesday. Levy gave this message verbally to Halit Çevik, deputy undersecretary of the Foreign Ministry, the Daily News has learned.

The ambassador emphasized that Israel has no problem with transporting humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip through legal means, praising the work that Türk Kızılay, the Turkish Red Crescent, is doing there.

"The passages to Gaza are open and there is a greater flexibility on the Israeli side. The quota for 220 trucks cannot even be reached as there is no need for more aid. Under these conditions, such an aid campaign could only be seen as provocation," Levy said.

Activists plan to send a new flotilla to break the blockade on Gaza by mid-June to commemorate the people who died in last year's mission and to give a sign to the Palestinians that they have not been forgotten.

Eight Turks and one American of Turkish descent were killed May 31, 2010, in an Israeli commando raid on the vessel Mavi Marmara, which was part of a convoy trying to take humanitarian aid to Gaza. Led by Turkey's Humanitarian Relief Foundation (İHH), the ships had many Turkish and foreign activists as passengers.

The deadly raid strained Turkish-Israeli ties in an unprecedented way and caused Turkey to withdraw its ambassador from Tel Aviv. An international commission to investigate the incident was set up under the auspices of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon but it has not yet released its final report.

The new convoy is set to depart in mid-June, a couple of weeks after the anniversary of the raid, in consideration of the upcoming general elections slated for June 12 in Turkey.

According to Levy, the message to Turkey did not address what Israel's reaction would be if the new flotilla set sail for Gaza. "However, our position on this case is well known," he said. "International law permits countries to intervene with ships that could pose a threat to their national security."

A Turkish diplomat said Israel's request was noted at the Foreign Ministry without giving a clear reply to the ambassador. "The issue is still being evaluated," the diplomat said without further elaboration.

Israel launches international campaign

Levy said Israel has also communicated with some other countries from which activists plan to take part in the İHH campaign. Activists from Greece, France, the United States, Ireland and some other European countries have already announced their participation. Members of some Jewish groups critical of the Israeli government's polices also plan to be on board.

The ambassador said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has phoned the U.N. secretary-general, asking him to use the international body's influence to stop the campaign.

Turkey will likely keep a low profile in this year's flotilla campaign due to its reluctance to see a new crisis with Israel erupt and because the İHH and other Turkish civil-society organizations participating in the effort are more closely aligned with the Felicity Party (SP), and other conservative political parties, than with the ruling party.

Optimistic word for bilateral ties

Despite the negative developments, Levy expressed optimism about the future relationship between the two countries due to their history. "The number of Israeli tourists visiting Turkey has drastically decreased from approximately 500,000 to 120,000, but we are hopeful to mend the relationship," Levy said.

Emphasizing the fact that Kızılay's office in Israel was working very successfully in supplying humanitarian aid to Gaza, Levy said he had received a letter from the group's head only days after the flotilla crisis last year. According to Levy, Kızılay's chief thanked the Israeli government for allowing the group to extend Turkey's help to the Palestinian people.

Ambassador Levy eliminated speculations about his term in Turkey, saying that he will return to Israel this fall and will retire from diplomatic service. He said he had no information about his successor.

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AK Group

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Surprise: Most of Israel's Pre 1967 Private Land Held by Arabs

by Gil Ronen

Arabs possess most of the private land in Israel, despite their composing only 20% of the population, a researcher revealed Thursday. The researcher referred to Israel including the Golan Heights and eastern Jerusalem, but not including Judea and Samaria, where Israeli sovereignty has not been formally applied yet.

Israel's territory is about 22 million dunams (four dunams make up about one acre). Of these, about 1.5 million dunams are privately owned. More than half of these 1.5 million dunams are owned by Arabs, according to Prof. Haim Zandberg, an expert on Israeli lands in the College for Administration. The rest of the land is owned by the State, the Jewish National Fund and the Development Authority, and managed by the Israel Lands Authority. Zandberg spoke at a study day on the Arab minority in Israel sponsored by the Israel Democracy Institute.

The statistic is explained by historical-legal technicalities from the days of the Ottoman Turkish Empire and British mandate who ruled in turn over the Land of Israel. They contradict the claim that Arabs suffer discrimination in the allocation of land.

Land set aside for construction in Israel makes up about 840,000 dunams, which is divided more or less proportionately between Jews and Arabs: 82% of the land has been allocated to Jewish construction and 18% to Arab construction.

Prof. Zandberg noted that the Bedouins in the Negev Desert possess a very large part of the Negev despite their relatively small numbers. Their population density is about 200 people per square kilometer, as compared to about 19,000 people per square kilometer in a dense Jewish urban center like Bnei Brak.

An Arab speaker, Dr. Yosef Jabbarin of Haifa University, claimed that Arabs are discriminated against by the Jewish National Fund and the Jewish Agency.

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Gil Ronen

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France: Burqa Ban Goes Into Effect

by Soeren Kern

France's much-debated "burqa ban" entered into force on April 11. The new law, which prohibits the wearing of Islamic body-covering burqas and face-covering niqabs in all public spaces in France, comes amid rising frustration that the country's estimated 6.5 million Muslims are not integrating into French society.

With certain exceptions, anyone in France covering their face on the street and in parks, on public transportation, in public institutions such as train stations and town halls, and in shops, restaurants and movie theaters, will be subject to a fine of €150 ($215). Exceptions to the ban include the covering of one's face with a motorcycle helmet, sunglasses, a bandage, a welding mask, a fencing mask or a fancy dress mask.

More severe penalties are in store for those found guilty of forcing others to cover their faces by means of "threats, violence and constraint, abuse of authority or power for reason of their gender." Clearly aimed at Muslim fathers, husbands or religious leaders, anyone found guilty of forcing a woman to wear an Islamic veil against her will is subject to a fine of €30,000 ($43,000) and one year in jail, or €60,000 ($86,000) and up to two years in jail if the case involves a minor.

The ban does not apply in private homes, hotel rooms and office buildings, except for elevators, conference rooms and lobbies and/or other spaces open to the public. The law also defines the inside of an automobile as a private space exempt from the measure.

In a circular sent to prefects and police chiefs that explains how the new measure will be implemented, French Interior Minister Claude Guéant ordered police to enforce the law in a "determined and vigilant" manner, but to do so by using as much tact as possible, namely by trying to persuade rather than to coerce women to show their face for identity checks.

Guéant also stressed that the law is not to be applied near mosques, and that police do not have the right to forcibly remove a woman's veil. Instead, offenders should be warned that they can be taken to a police station to have their identities verified. In addition to imposing fines, police can also order veil-wearers to attend "citizenship" classes.

Although critics of the burqa ban -- which was approved overwhelmingly by the French Parliament in October 2010 -- say it stigmatizes Islam, the French government insists the law is designed to guarantee gender equality and reaffirm the secular values of the French state. In a separate circular issued in March, French Prime Minister François Fillon said he wanted to "solemnly reaffirm the values of the republic," and argued that "concealing the face … places the people involved in a position of exclusion and inferiority incompatible with the principles of liberty, equality and human dignity affirmed by the French Republic."

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been far more outspoken in his support for the ban. He says the burqa is "a new form of enslavement that will not be welcome in the French Republic." Jacques Myard, a conservative member of parliament who supports the ban, says the burqa is a "shock" to French culture. "The face is a dignity of a person. The face is your passport. So when you refuse me to see you, I am a victim," he says.

Polls show that French citizens back the burqa ban by a margin of more than four to one. According to a survey conducted by the Washington, DC-based Pew Global Attitudes Project, 82% of French voters are in favour of the ban, while only 17% are not.

The new law comes into effect at a time when French voters are growing increasingly worried that the Muslim minority is building a parallel society in France. Picking up on the unease over the lack of Muslim integration, Sarkozy on February 10 denounced multiculturalism as a failure and said Muslims must assimilate if they want to be welcomed in France.

Then, on April 5, Sarkozy's center-right Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party held a controversial debate on the compatibility of Islam with the rules of the secular French Republic. The three-hour roundtable discussion, the title of which was altered to remove any reference to Islam, resulting in the anodyne "Secularism: To Live Better Together," was held at the upscale hotel Pullman Paris Montparnasse in the presence of some 500 religious leaders, legislators and journalists.

Organized by UMP leader Jean-François Copé, attendees discussed 26 ideas aimed at preserving France's secular character, enshrined in a 1905 law separating church and state. Participants discussed modern-day quandaries about issues such as halal food being served in schools and Muslims praying in the street when mosques are too crowded, as well as a proposal to enact a new law that would prohibit citizens from rejecting a public service employee because of their sex or religion. The idea, Copé said, was to prevent cases where "women, often under pressure from their husbands, refuse to be treated by a male doctor."

Other proposals discussed at the event include: banning the wearing of religious symbols such as Muslim headscarves or prominent Christian crosses by day care personnel; preventing Muslim mothers from wearing headscarves when accompanying children on school field trips; and preventing parents from withdrawing their children from mandatory subjects including physical education and biology.

Facing accusations from critics that the debate amounted to veiled Muslim-bashing, one of Copé's most senior UMP colleagues, Prime Minister Fillon, declined to take part in the event, warning that it risked "stigmatizing Muslims." Copé responded by saying the debate was "controversial but necessary," and accusing critics of being "in denial."

In any event, the tide of public opinion seems to be with Copé and those worried about the effects of runaway Muslim immigration. Recent polls show that up to two-thirds of French voters believe that "multiculturalism" and the integration of Muslims into society have failed. The twin issues of Islam and immigration have resulted in a surge of popularity for the far-right National Front party and its charismatic new leader, Marine Le Pen, who recently compared crowds of Muslims praying in the streets outside mosques to the Nazi occupation of France.

According to a recent survey by Ifop for the France-Soir newspaper, nearly 40% of French voters agree with Len Pen's views that Muslim prayer in the streets resembles an occupation. Moreover, a new opinion poll published by Le Parisien newspaper on March 8 shows that voters view Le Pen, who has criss-crossed the country arguing that France has been invaded by Muslims and betrayed by its elite, as the candidate best suited to fix the problem of Muslim immigration.

Sarkozy, whose popularity is at record lows just twelve months before the first round of the 2012 presidential election, has been spooked by Le Pen's advance in the opinion polls, which show her ahead of both Sarkozy and Socialist leader Martine Aubry. Sarkozy now seems determined not to allow Le Pen to monopolize the issue of Islam in France. He recently called Muslim prayers in the street "unacceptable" and said that the street cannot be allowed to become "an extension of the mosque."

He also fired Abderrahmane Dahmane, a Frenchman of Algerian descent he hired in January to promote "diversity," after the appointee openly attacked the president's views on Islam in France. Dahmane now says Muslims in France should wear a five-pointed green star to protest against what he called "the fascist climate that evokes the sombre history of the Occupation in France, which sent thousands of Jews by train to the death camps."

Some French commentators have pointed out the twisted irony of Muslims equating themselves to the Jews in the Holocaust, considering that Muslims for centuries imposed distinctive clothing on Jews and other non-Muslims, and served as the inspiration for the yellow Star of David that Nazis forced wartime Jews to wear..

The green star idea is "totally grotesque," says Richard Prasquier, head of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF), a Jewish umbrella group. Prasquier, who supported the April 5 debate as a valid response to the concerns of French voters, told Agence France-Presse: "It is unfortunately part of a wider movement that mixes everything up and makes everything equate to the Holocaust."

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Soeren Kern

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