Saturday, July 30, 2011

Breivik and Totalitarian Democrats

by Caroline Glick

Last Friday morning, Anders Breivik burst onto the international screen when he carried out a monstrous act of terrorism against his fellow Norwegians. Breivik bombed the offices housing the Norwegian government with the intention of murdering its leaders. He then travelled to the Utoya Island and murdered scores of young people participating in a summer program sponsored by Norway's ruling party.

In all, last Friday Breivik murdered 76 people. Most of them were teenagers.

Although Breivik has admitted to his crimes, there are still some important questions that remain unanswered. For instance, we still do not know if he acted alone. Breivik claims that there are multiple cells of his fellow terrorists ready to attack. But so far, no one has found evidence to support his claim. We also still do not know if - for all his bravado - Breivik was acting on his own initiative or as an agent for others.

Finding the answers to these, and other questions are is a matter of the highest urgency. For if in fact Breivik is not a lone wolf, then there is considerable danger that additional, perhaps pre-planned attacks may be carried out in the near future. And given the now demonstrated inadequacy of Norway's law enforcement arms in contending with terror attacks, the prospect of further attacks should be keeping Norwegian and other European leaders up at night.

Despite the dangers, very little of the public discourse since Breivik's murderous assault on his countrymen has been devoted to these issues. Rather, the Norwegian and Western media have focused their discussion of Breivik's terrorist attack on his self-justifications for it. Those self-justifications are found mainly in a 1,500 page manifesto that Breivik posted on the Internet.

Some of the material for his manifesto was plagiarized from the manifesto written by Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, whose bombing campaign spanned two decades and killed 3 and wounded 23. Kaczynski got the New York Times and the Washington Post to publish his self-justifications in 1995 by threatening to murder more people if they refused.

Breivik's manifesto has become the center of the international discussion of his actions largely as a result of the sources he cited.

Kaczynski, like his fellow eco-terrorist Jason Jay Lee, who took several people hostage at the Discovery Channel in Maryland last September, was influenced by the writings of former US vice president Al Gore. A well worn copy of Gore's book Earth in the Balance was reportedly found by federal agents when they searched Kaczynski's cabin in Montana in 1996. Lee claimed that he was "awakened" to the need to commit terrorism to save the environment after he watched Gore's film, "An Inconvenient Truth."

Aside from Kaczynski, (whom he plagiarized without naming), certain parts of Breivik's manifesto read like a source guide to leading conservative writers and bloggers in the Western world. And this is unprecedented. Never before has a terrorist cited so many conservatives to justify his positions.

Breivik particularly noted writers who focus on critical examinations of multiculturalism and the dangers emanating from jihadists and the cause of global jihad. He also cited the work of earlier political philosophers and writers including John Stuart Mill, George Orwell, John Locke, Edmund Burke, Winston Churchill and Thomas Jefferson.

Breivik's citation of conservative writers, (including myself and many of my friends and colleagues in the US and Europe), has dominated the public discussion of his actions. The leftist dominated Western media - most notably the New York Times -- and the left wing of the blogosphere have used his reliance on their ideological opponents' arguments as a means of blaming the ideas propounded by conservative thinkers and the thinkers themselves for Breivik's heinous acts of murder.

For instance, a front page news story in the Times on Monday claimed, "The man accused of the killing spree in Norway was deeply influenced by a small group of American bloggers and writers who have warned for years about the threat from Islam."

The reporter, Scott Shane named several popular anti-jihadist blogs that Breivik mentioned in his manifesto. Shane then quoted left-leaning terrorism expert Marc Sageman who alleged that that the writings of anti-jihad authors "are the infrastructure from which Breivik emerged."

That is, Shane quoted Sageman accusing these writers of responsibility for Breivik's acts of murder.

Before considering the veracity of Sageman's claim, it is worth noting that no similar allegations were leveled by the media or their favored terror experts against Gore in the wake of Lee's hostage taking last year, or in the aftermath of Kaczynski's arrest in 1996. Moreover, Noam Chomsky, Michael Scheuer, Stephen Walt and John Mearshimer, whose writings were endorsed by Osama Bin Laden, have not been accused of responsibility for al Qaeda terrorism.

That is, leftist writers whose works have been admired by terrorists have not been held accountable for the acts of terrorism conducted by their readers.

Nor should they have been. And to understand why this sort of guilt-by-readership is wrong, it is worth considering what separates liberal democracies from what the great Israeli historian Jacob Talmon referred to as totalitarian democracies. Liberal democracies are founded on the notion that it is not simply acceptable for citizens to participate in debates about the issues facing their societies. It is admirable for citizens in democracies to participate in debates - even heated ones -- about their government's policies as well as their societies' cultural and moral direction. A citizenry unengaged is a citizenry that is in danger of losing its freedom.

One of the reasons that argument and debate are the foundations of a liberal democratic order is because the more engaged citizens feel in the life of their societies, the less likely they will be to reject the rules governing their society and turn to violence to get their way. As a rule, liberal democracies reject the resort to violence as a means of winning an argument. This is why, for liberal democracies, terrorism in all forms is absolutely unacceptable.

Whether or not one agrees with the ideological self-justifications of a terrorist, as a member of a liberal democratic society, one is expected to abhor his act of terrorism. Because by resorting to violence to achieve his aims, the terrorist is acting in a manner that fundamentally undermines the liberal democratic order.

Liberal democracies are always works in progress. Their citizens do not expect for a day to come when the debaters fall silent because everyone agrees with one another as all are convinced of the rightness of one side. This is because liberal democracies are not founded on messianic aspirations to create a perfect society.

In contrast, totalitarian democracies - and totalitarian democrats -- do have a messianic temperament and a utopian mission to create a perfect society. And so its members do have hopes of ending debate and argument once and for all.

As Talmon explained in his 1952 classic, The Origins of Totalitarian Democracy, the totalitarian democratic model was envisioned by Jean Jacques Rousseau the philosophical godfather of the French Revolution. Rousseau believed that a group of anointed leaders could push a society towards perfection by essentially coercing the people to accept their view of right and wrong. Talmon drew a direct line between Rousseau and the totalitarian movements of the twentieth century - Nazism, fascism and communism.

Today, those who seek to silence conservative thinkers by making a criminal connection between our writings and the acts of a terrorist are doing so in pursuit of patently illiberal ends to say the least. If they can convince the public that our ideas cause the mass murder of children, then our voices will be silenced.

Another aspect of the same anti-liberal behavior is the tendency by many to pick and choose which sorts of terrorism are acceptable and which are unacceptable in accordance with the ideological justifications the terrorists give for their actions. The most recent notable example of this behavior is an interview that Norwegian Ambassador Svein Sevje gave to Maariv on Tuesday. Maariv asked Sevje whether in the wake of Breivik's terrorist attack Norwegians would be more sympathetic to the victimization of innocent Israelis by Palestinian terrorists.

Sevje said no, and explained, "We Norwegians view the occupation as the reason for terror against Israel. Many Norwegians still see the occupation as the reason for attacks against Israel. Whoever thinks this way, will not change his mind as a result of the attack in Oslo."

So in the mind of the illiberal Norwegians, terrorism is justified if the ideology behind it is considered justified. For them it is unacceptable for Breivik to murder Norwegian children because his ideology is wrong. But it is acceptable for Palestinians to murder Israeli children because their ideology is right.

As much as statements by Sevje, (or Gore, Walt, Mearshimer, Scheuer or Chomsky), may anger their ideological adversaries, no self-respecting liberal democratic thinker would accuse their political philosophies of inspiring terrorism.

There is only one point at which political philosophy merges into terrorism. That point is when political thinkers call on their followers to carry out acts of terrorism in the name of their political philosophy and they make this call with the reasonable expectation that their followers will fulfill their wishes. Political thinkers who fit this description include the likes of Muslim Brotherhood "spiritual" leader Yousef Qaradawi, Osama Bin Laden, Hamas founder Sheikh Yassin, al Qaeda in Yemen leader Anwar Awlaki and other jihadist leaders.

These leaders are dangerous because they operate outside of the boundaries of democratic polemics. They do not care whether the wider public agrees with their views. Like Mao -- who murdered 70 million people -- they believe that political power grows out of the barrel of a gun not out of rational discourse.

Revealingly, many not particularly liberal Western democracies have granted these terrorist philosophers visas, and embraced them as legitimate thinkers. The hero's welcome Qaradawi enjoyed during his 2005 visit to Britain by then London mayor Ken Livingstone is a particularly vivid example of this practice. The illiberal trajectory British politics has veered onto was similarly demonstrated by the government's 2009 refusal to grant a visa to Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders. Wilders has been demonized as an enemy of freedom for his criticism of Islamic totalitarianism.

The Left's attempts to link conservative writers, politicians and philosophers with Breivik are nothing new. The same thing happened in 1995, when the Left tried to blame rabbis and politicians for the sociopathic Yigal Amir's assassination of then prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. The same thing happened in the US last summer with the Left's insistent attempts to link the psychotic Jared Loughner who shot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her constituents, with Governor Sarah Palin and the Tea Party.

And it is this tendency that most endangers the future of liberal democracies. If the Left is ever successful in its bid to criminalize ideological opponents and justify acts of terrorism against their opponents, their victory will destroy the liberal democratic foundations of Western civilization.

Caroline Glick
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.


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

Multiculturalism Revisited

by Michael Curtis

The brutal murders in and around Oslo on July 22, 2011 by Anders Behring Breivik, the self-declared commander for the Knights Templar of Europe, are to be rightfully condemned, and due punishment must be accorded for his horrible crime. But his massacre of 76 innocent people and his 1,500-page polemical diatribe -- his European Declaration of Independence, with its obsession with multiculturalism and the threat caused by the Islamic presence in Europe -- must not be allowed to prevent a genuine, rational discussion of a complex contemporary problem.

Western countries are perplexed by the problem of the current immigration of large numbers of individuals coming from different cultures, and the tension caused by their reluctance to assimilate and integrate into the larger society. To debate the issues of immigration and the likelihood of groups becoming participants in the larger society is not racist behavior, but rather a necessary consequence of real problems.

Aware of the potential positive value of immigrants, governments along with other agencies have subscribed to a set of policies and values that has become known as multiculturalism. They seek to diminish the difficulties the newcomers face: lack of respect, verbal abuse, and discrimination in general (and especially in housing and employment).

However desirable some of the efforts have been, both for immigrants and for their new society, it is evident that Western policies of multiculturalism have drawbacks as well as benefits. Those policies encounter a number of intellectual and political problems. They aim at accommodating different religious, cultural, and ethnic traditions within a society, but societies require a common culture. The great 14th-century Arab historian, Ibn Khaldun, was aware of this when he wrote that civilization arose only when there was solidarity. Today, this idea of solidarity, and commitment to the common culture and to the basic structures and values of democratic countries, is being challenged by identity politics and by advocacy of diversity.

Multiculturalism in Western societies confers benefits on an ethnic or racial minority, enabling it to maintain its own culture. This may lead to friction and to both physical and cultural separation from the majority of the society. It also disparages individual rights, fragments society, and supports the politicization of group identities. The French writer Pascal Bruckner has defined multiculturalism as racism of the antiracists. It tends to chain people to their roots and to imprison them in an ethnic or racial definition of their group. It may not only undermine individuality and self-reliance, but also may prevent people from liberating themselves from their own group traditions. Celebrating differences among people has become a means of enforcing group identity.

In recent practice, multiculturalism has led to restriction rather than protection of free speech -- e.g., to laws making it a criminal offense to make critical remarks about some religious, ethnic, or national groups. It has led in the West to tolerating minorities that are themselves intolerant.

Contemporary European politicians have understood the political problem. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany in October 2010 declared that multiculturalism had failed in her country. She declared that it was not a humane formula to respect other cultures, but a device to deal with immigrant workers who were still committed to the culture of their homeland, not to that of Germany. The German state had accommodated the demands of immigrants, rather than promoting German values. German scholars have argued that, though differences may exist, European countries need a leitkultur, a core or guiding culture which was necessary for a democratic community, concerned with modernity, secularism, and human rights.

Political leaders in both Britain and France have been similarly troubled by recent developments. British Prime Minister David Cameron made it clear, in a speech of February 5, 2011, that "under the doctrine of state multiculturalism we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and apart from the mainstream." Britain had tolerated those segregated communities behaving in ways completely counter to British values.

In France, President Nicholas Sarkozy has similarly declared that multiculturalism is a failure and has fostered extremism. France, he believes, has been too concerned about the identity of the new arrivals and not enough about preserving the identity of the country receiving them. Sarkozy since 2003 has been responsible for two bills restricting immigration into France. His belief is that Muslims in France must practice French Islam, not just Islam in France. However, it is still an open question whether Muslims want to be part of French society, or prefer sharia law and traditional behavior.

The contemporary belief that all cultural groups and religions should be tolerated and have a right to self-determination or autonomy may be salutary as a general proposition, but the degree of that tolerance should be relevant both to democratic values, whether or not the principles of human rights are being observed by those groups, and also to demographic changes. The monstrous action of Breivik may make it more difficult to criticize the multicultural practices that are promoting racism rather than eliminating it. Yet objective observers should not be too cautious or reluctant to criticize actions or non-actions of non-Europeans. There is no easy balance for democratic countries today between protecting their cultural values and protecting minority rights.

Michael Curtis is a distinguished professor of political science at Rutgers University.


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

'Jesus is a Muslim and worships Allah'

by Phil Boehmke

Welcome to the upside down world of Muslims Against Crusades (MAC). Great Britain's radical Muslim group now claims that Jesus Christ was a Muslim. According to their website:

The truth is when Jesus was sent to his people he came with the same message of all previous Messengers such as Moses, Abraham and Noah - that God is one and submission to Him is exclusive. Jesus throughout his life and mission believed in one God and preserved this concept throughout his life. He did this by ensuring that all actions and deeds were based upon the laws of God. Furthermore those who contradicted these laws were rejected and opposed.

Jesus led a life of submission to His Lord which is the essence of Islam. Islam means the true submission to the will of God alone and anybody that adheres to this mission is called a Muslim. Islam is the divine message revealed by God which all Messengers and Prophets followed and called to; including Jesus. This message was concluded by the final Messenger, Muhammad (peace be upon him) who rectified any misconception and showed mankind the complete divine way of life.

It is important to understand that anybody who wishes to follow in the footsteps of Jesus needs to submit just as Jesus did to the will of God. Therefore for anybody to be a believer they must believe and follow Islam jest as Jesus will when he returns. Only by submitting to Islam will one find salvation in this life and the next.

Our friends at MAC have studied the Koran and Sharia law, but they seem to have neglected any study of the Holy Scriptures. For example Sharia law dictates that the punishment for adultery is stoning, this is also consistent with the Law of Moses, but Jesus had a very different remedy. From the book of John:

8:1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst 4 they said to him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5 Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?" 6 This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." 8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" 11 She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more."

It is acceptable for a Muslim to lie to any infidel (non-believer) according to Muhammad, which explains why MAC would seek to convince faux Christians that our Lord and Savior was actually a Muslim, however those of us who know the Holy Scriptures can never be misled and then enslaved by the falsehoods of Islam. "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

Phil Boehmke


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

Trouble in Turkey? Military Elite Resigns

by Elad Benari

Turkey’s entire top military command resigned Friday in a row with the government over generals jailed for an alleged coup plot, AFP reported.

According to the report, Turkey’s Chief of Staff, General Isik Kosaner, stepped down after several meetings with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in recent days, ahead of a meeting scheduled for early August of the army’s high command, which decides on promotions for senior officers.

Local media reports blamed Kosaner’s resignation on tensions between the military and Erdogan over army demands for the promotion of dozens of officers who are being held on suspicion of involvement in an alleged anti-government plot.

Following Kosaner, the commanders of the army, air force and navy also quit, a first for Turkey. Kosaner was appointed to his post for a three-year term last year and the other three commanders were due to have retired next month.

AFP noted that 42 generals and dozens of officers are in jail in a probe of alleged plots to overthrow the government. As part of the investigation into an alleged 2003 plan dubbed “Operation Sledgehammer” to overthrow the government, 28 servicemen will go on trial next month.

The suspects risk 15 to 20 years in jail if convicted.

The investigation has landed about a tenth of the army’s generals in jail. While several of those held are already retired, senior officers in the army have been trying to get some of the serving officers promoted despite their incarceration. The government, meanwhile, insists the group be forced to retire.

Erdogan’s AKP party has not commented on the resignations, but AFP reported that Turkish President Abdullah Gul hosted Erdogan and military police chief General Necdet Ozel on Friday evening, leading analysts to speculate that Ozel would likely become the new Chief of Staff.

Meanwhile, U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Friday that the United States has confidence in Turkey.

“We have confidence in the strength of Turkey’s institutions, both democratic and military. It’s an internal matter,” Toner was quoted by AFP as having told reporters.

The tension between Turkey and Israel continued this past week as Erdogan was reportedly considering downgrading diplomatic relations with Israel.

The Turkish Hurriyet newspaper reported Monday that Erdogan’s “Plan B” is to downgrade the level of Turkey’s diplomatic staff in Israel if Israel continues to refuse to apologize for the Mavi Marmara incident during the 2010 flotilla to Gaza.

While Israeli leaders have been at odds over whether Israel should apologize, Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Thursday said Israel was “willing to consider apologizing” for problems that occurred during the Marmara raid.

Speaking to reporters in Washington following a meeting with his U.S. counterpart Leon Panetta, Barak said he would prefer to “come to an understanding” with Turkey rather than wait for the publication of a UN report on the incident, which he deemed “problematic for Israel.”

Elad Benari


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

What Do Wealthy Arabs Really Care About?

by Khaled Abu Toameh

Arab League representatives who held an emergency meeting in Cairo this week to discuss the financial crisis in the Palestinian Authority did not find time to deal with the plight of over !! million Somalis who are facing starvation due to the ravaging drought.

It is a stain on the forehead of all Arabs and Muslims that Americans and Europeans have moved faster to provide urgent aid to the famine-stricken population in Somalia, one of the 22 members of the Arab League. Saudi Arabia has pledged $60 million, but it remains to be seen if it will fulfill its promise. The promise is considered a drop in the sea compared with what Western countries have pledged to save the lives of the Somalis.

Arab governments have not even deemed it necessary to hold a conference to discuss ways of saving the lives of millions of people in Somalia. But when the Palestinian Authority earlier this week demanded an emergency session over its financial crunch, the Arab League convened within hours in Cairo to hear Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's urgent request for $300 million.

True, the financial crisis facing the Western-backed Fayyad government is for real. It is also worrying that nearly 150,000 Palestinian civil servants have received only half salaries for the past month.

But there is no comparing the crisis in the Palestinian Authority with the immediate threat to the lives of millions of people in Somalia.

Following the Cairo meeting of the Arab League representatives, a communiqué issued by the participants did not make any reference to the situation in Somalia.

A week earlier, however, the Arab League did issue a laconic statement in which it promised funds for humanitarian aid, and encouraged Arab states to support Somalia.

The Arab League issued its statement following an appeal by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations: "The Arab League urgently calls for all Arab countries, Arab organizations, the Arab Red Crescent, Arab civil society organizations and the Arab private sector to mobilize their energies and capabilities to rescue those affected by the drought in Somalia," the league said in a posting on its Facebook page.

So the Arab leaders are hoping to fight the drought through Facebook only, at a time when some of them have been trying to block the internet in their countries.

But these are the kinds of promises that everyone knows would never be fulfilled. The Palestinians know more than anyone else that these are empty promises that are merely intended for public consumption.

That is why the Palestinians today are almost entirely dependent on American, European and Japanese money for survival.

The starving people of Somalia will also have to rely on Western aid because the Arab dictators and regimes simply do not care if a few million Arabs and Muslims die of starvation.

The US and the EU should tell the wealthy Arabs that there is no reaosn [reason] Westerners shoukld [should] be helping Arabs when their own Arab brother[s] are not doing anything.

The US and the EU should say that they will only help if Arabs and Muslims also give.

The Arab tyrants would rather use the billions of dollars they have stolen from their countries to entertain themselves and their families. They would rather use the money to deploy tanks and soldiers to kill peaceful demonstrators demanding reform and democracy.

There is no doubt that the weekly or monthly expenses of a few Gulf princes and princesses in Paris, London and New York could alleviate the suffering of the hungry population of Somalia. But why should the royal families in the Gulf care about Somalia when Americans and Europeans are there to help?

"If we have ever laid claim to the spirit of Arab solidarity, Islamic fraternity and human values, we must not rest before fulfilling our obligation towards the hungry populations in eastern Africa," complained Barakat Shalataweh in an editorial in the newspaper Emirati Al-Khaleej.

Khaled Abu Toameh


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

Is It Time Israel Ends Oslo?

by Mudar Zahran

Since the Oslo Accords came into effect, each time a breakthrough seems close, the Palestinian Liberation Organization [PLO] leadership, has exhibited a perplexing way of breaching the Accords' conditions and provoking Israel, thereby working against the very agreement that brought the Palestinian Authority into existence.

The late PLO Chairman, Yassir Arafat, violated Oslo on the very first day by trying to smuggle a man into Israel whom the Israelis had explicitly banned by hiding him under the seat of his car. More generally, although under the Oslo Accords the Palestinian Authority is obligated to refrain from incitement and hate propaganda against Israel, Arafat's anti-Israel propaganda started right from his first speech, rolling down to Palestinian TV, media, and schools. Arafat then crossed the ultimate red line by creating and financing the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a Hamas-style terrorist group responsible for tens of terrorist attacks on Israel -- the Brigade still exists today.

This pattern, begun by Arafat, is still in place today under Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas -- initially viewed as a more "moderate" leader. Abbas's latest political initiative, calling for a UN vote on Palestinian statehood to circumvent direct the negotiations with Israel to which it is committed -- by its own agreement -- in United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 -- is a breach of its own Oslo Accords that will most certainly drive the peace process to a point of no return and which presumably entitles Israel to end its side of the Oslo Accords, as well.

Abbas has also been focused on issues counterproductively interjected by the United States -- such as demanding that the Israelis freeze settlement construction -- instead of addressing more workable issues, such as improving the daily lives of Palestinians, who used to enjoy working and moving inside Israel until the suicide bombings began.

These acts of obstructing the peace process –- most recently shown by the PLO's refusal to negotiate with Israel for the past two years --- along with its continual breaches of the Oslo Accords, raises the question: Does the Palestinian leadership want peace at all? Or does it want peace only on its own terms: Erasing Israel from the map?

It would seem, based on the PLO's behavior, that Palestinian Authority leadership has not actually been seeking a solution to the conflict, but rather seeking to expand its solution: Israel supplanted by an Arab state.

For the past several decades, the PLO leadership seem to have been trying to grab whatever it could get in negotiations, using the "ceiling of the last negotiation as the floor of the next," and pocketing whatever concessions it could acquire while waiting for more. This approach is consistent with the Palestinian "Phased Plan" laid out by Arafat in 1974, which "adopted the political solution of establishing a National Authority over any territory from which the occupation withdraws" -- leading it to be referred to as the "Piece Plan" -- and which, as Arafat reaffirmed on September 1, 1993, still is incorporated into the Oslo Accords. This approach is also consistent with the PLO's charter, never rescinded, which calls for the annihilation of the "Zionist Entity."

Back when the Oslo agreement was still fresh and that least theoretically being implemented, the London-based Palestinian Journalist Abdul Bari Atwan in an interview with the London-based Arab TV station, ANB, blamed Arafat for allegedly giving "too many concessions" to Israel. According to Atawn, Arafat's response was: "By Allah, perhaps not in my lifetime, maybe in yours, you will see the Israelis fleeing from Palestine, have a little patience."

In short, Arafat's philosophy revolved around creating chaos and unrest to drain Israel politically while at the same time enjoying the spoils that resulted from doing so. Many senior members of the Palestinian Authority, including its current leader, Mahmoud Abbas, are still enjoying a good life under the protection of the very country against which they are working: Israel.

Arafat's doctrine has come at a very dear cost to both the Israelis and the Palestinians. The Palestinians have lost their formerly open access to the Israeli job market -- with Israel as the only country in the world that allows them to work freely and be treated well – as people who, in the minds of their employers, have been hired as daily workers rather than "bought" as if they were slaves or property -- and be paid according to Western standards.

Countless Palestinian children have perished in either suicide attacks or fruitless confrontations with the Israeli forces during the first and second Intifadas, initiated under Arafat's regime and media machine. Of course, Arafat had little to worry about: at the time of the Second Intifada at least ,both his wife and daughter were enjoying a comfortable living between Paris and Tunis.

Additionally, if Abbas's Palestinian Liberation Organization [PLO] had joined in a so-called unity government with Hamas, a terrorist organization, both organizations would now effectively be terrorist entities. Presumably the PLO was stopped only out of concern that the US and perhaps also Europe would not then continue to fund it.

Abbas doubtless realizes all of this. He probably realizes that Israel would never accept a UN vote for Palestinian statehood, nor would Israel's close allies necessarily be able to continue supporting the Palestinian Authority if such a vote took place. Abbas also knows that Hamas is his sworn enemy, with ambitions of an Islamic Palestine "from the river to the sea," as is stated in the second article of the Hamas charter,and at the same time, with no tolerance for the PLO, which Hamas forced out of the Gaza strip within weeks of taking it over. Members of the PLO in Gaza were from the top floors of buildings. So why is Abbas doing this?

What Hamas has done, and what the Palestinian Authority is pursuing today, are not random acts of irresponsibility, but -- among other hoped-for outcomes, such as being able more easily to tangle Israel up diplomatically and economically in international courts and the like – are rather carefully measured political bullying that results in prosperity to the leadership.

Khattab Abu Sittah, a former officer in Hamas's Ministry of Interior, who then left Hamas, and is now being persecuted by it, told this author that when Hamas took over Gaza, Hamas commanders became more able to control the needy Gazans, who spent most of their time trying to provide the basics for their families, while Hamas took control of the economic life of the Gaza strip. Hamas became the main importer of food through its tunnels with Egypt; got involved in smuggling not only household products but also whole cars -- in addition to weaponry -- and eventually Hamas leaders became rich landlords who had close-to-no suffering. Those men who were able to ease the grip on the Gazans a little for their own benefit are the ones opening businesses there today,, and even terrorizing anyone who tries to compete with them. Abu Sittah said: "I was with them at the beginning because I thought they were better than the nasty (Palestinian) Authority; they have proven to be worse and they are enjoying the current situation and want it to continue."

The model described by Abu Sittah was confirmed earlier in a report by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, entitled: "Gaza's Economy: How Hamas Stays in Power," which asserts that Hamas has overseen the formation of a wealthy Palestinian class -- associated with Hamas.

This pattern is not new; the PLO has been sustaining this economic bonanza for its leadership since its establishment in 1968: The more trouble there is, the more foreign aid money the PLO, and later the Palestinian Authority, have been able to receive -- and the more Palestinian officials are able to mismanage the funds, and thrive, along with their families, while getting sympathy from the world against "the evil Zionists" of Israel. The PLO has played this show long before it arrived in Judea and Samaria; no wonder, most of the PLO leaders were already very rich men when they arrived in there from Tunis.

Moreover, establishing a state is what Abbas saw Hamas do — successfully -- a few years ago, when it insisted on forming a government despite warnings and advice from both its friends and foes, including the former Egyptian regime. Nonetheless, Hamas went on, regardless; it formed a government; created a relatively massive police force, and eventually took over Gaza by force. Just like Abbas's PLO today, Hamas knew it would face extreme reactions from Israel, the US, Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority, but at no cost and with no consequences.

Sadly, it is only only establishing a peace that includes an"end of conflict" and a Palestinian leadership accountable to its people that will lead to the demise of the corruption and empires of oppression of these men. The people now in charge are not politicians so much as warlords who thrive on war, especially as their own children and homes rarely ever affected by what happens to their people, whom they willingly put in harm's way.

It is not only the Palestinian leadership who thrive on war and unrest; but also the United Nations Relief and Works Agency [UNRWA], a bloated jobs program for over 20,000 people, that benefits from conserving rather than ending the current situation; as well as several Arab regimes. These have often added even more pressure on the Palestinians, both on their leadership and on their people, to engage in hostility with Israel. UNRWA goes along with whatever the Palestinians want.

Among Arab nations, Jordan's King Abdullah II, for example, went to the UN threatening war unless Israel "freezes all settlement activities". Of course Abbas appeared on the media the next day saying he, too, would not consent to peace without Israel's freezing all settlement activities. And just recently, the Syrian regime—struggling with an unprecedented revolution -- sent Palestinian youngsters from Yarmouk refugee camp to storm the Israeli borders and throw rocks at Israeli soldiers; as a result, twenty young men and women were killed; and when their families protested against the Syrian regime for what they believe was the its manipulation of their children for political gain, the Syrian-controlled Public Front for the Liberation of Palestine responded by killing 14 protestors on the spot.

The more trouble Arab regimes cause for Israel through the Palestinians, the more they release the pressure on themselves by switching their dissatisfied people's attention against Israel. The Palestinian leadership is no exception: it would therefore rather maintain the no-peace situation -- and, if possible, escalate uncalled for confrontations with Israel -- whenever possible. After all, what is better for the Palestinian officials: a state where they will be held accountable for every dollar, or a state of chaos where they can surreptitiously get rich?

With the Arab Spring sweeping the Middle East region, Abbas and his friends have reason to fear a normal progression for the peace process: if they achieve statehood: their people would start scrutinizing them and asking them for services and benefits and individual rights which for decades have been provided by Israel for free.

Israel should not tolerate this political rat-race, which has come at a substantial cost to its citizens as well as to the Palestinians. Also, so-called pro-Palestinian sympathizers - including Western governments -- should stop tolerating and supporting the Palestinian leadership's recklessness, and should instead focus their efforts on supporting the Palestinian people, especially as most of them do not even live in Israel, but actually in Jordan, Lebanon and other Arab lands.

While Abbas and Hamas will keep provoking Israel to the extreme, and breaching the Oslo Accords at every turn, Israel might do well to reconsider its increasingly one-sided commitment to upholding an agreement, which, it seems, is being upheld by almost one else.

Mudar Zahran


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

UNRWA's Anti-Israel Bias

by Arlene Kushner

On October 22, 2010, the outgoing director of the New York office of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), Andrew Whitley, stunned his listeners at a Washington conference by arguing that "the right of return is unlikely to be exercised to the territory of Israel to any significant or meaningful extent," and that UNRWA should help resettle the refugees rather than perpetuate their refugee status.[1]

Confronted with a barrage of criticism from the Palestinian Authority and many Arab states, Whitley quickly backed down, claiming, "It is definitely not my belief that the refugees should give up on their basic rights, including the right of return."

Middle East analyst Daniel Pipes commented: "That UNRWA might contemplate going out of business and helping end the Arab-Israeli conflict … was too good to be true."[2]

Indeed it was, especially when taking into account that UNRWA was established more than sixty years ago on December 8, 1949, as a temporary humanitarian organization: "To carry out in collaboration with local governments the direct relief and works programs" and to "consult with the interested Near Eastern governments concerning measures to be taken by them preparatory to the time when international assistance for relief and works projects is no longer available."[3]

A Gaza mall bustles in July 2010. On November 11, 2010, Ging complained of persistent supply problems attending the Israeli blockade. Yet two weeks later, he rebutted this assertion, as well as the claim by UNRWA's commissioner-general Filippo Grandi that Israel had not allowed the entry of a single truckload of construction materials, by acknowledging that "the shops were full of consumer goods."

With the passage of time, this modest, transient outfit has evolved into a permanent feature of the Middle Eastern sociopolitical landscape with tentacles spreading well beyond its originally mandated relief operations to virtually all walks of Palestinian life from education, to health, to community-based services, to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

The propensity for senior UNRWA staff to make inappropriate, incendiary, and highly politicized statements—in stark contrast to the organization's mandate—has long been documented by the Jerusalem-based Center for Near East Policy Research.[4] The case made by UNRWA staff, that such statements are a necessary element of protecting the Palestinian refugees, can be seen to be without justification: Nowhere is "protection" in the political sense part of the UNRWA mandate; UNRWA was originally charged with providing direct relief and work programs, and this was later expanded to include education. Moreover, even if political protection had been mandated, it would not warrant misrepresentations of fact, let alone incitement.

This document tracks that trend during the course of 2010 with a special emphasis on the agency's statements concerning the Gaza situation with the author's rebuttals in italics.

Whitewashing Hamas

In a Sky TV News interview from Gaza, John Ging, director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza, said:

The announcement [regarding Israeli intentions in Operation Cast Lead] was that this whole war was about demolishing the infrastructure of terrorism. But we look around and see that this was not the case. The infrastructures of the economy and education were destroyed. And the infrastructure of the government—ministries and the president's compound. These are not the infrastructures of terror, these are the infrastructures of peace—the infrastructures of a state … the parliament building, the infrastructure of democracy.[5]

This protestation of innocence is highly disingenuous for it is inconceivable that Ging was unaware of Hamas's propensity for operating from within civilian infrastructure, housing terrorists and weapons in private homes and public buildings (mosques, hospitals, schools, etc.), and using such sites for rocket and missile attacks.[6] By alluding to the parliament building—used by the Hamas terror group, the governing entity of Gaza—as an "infrastructure of democracy," Ging willfully distorted the oppressive reality in the strip.

In early April 2010—ignoring the years of radicalization of the Gaza population under the influence of Hamas-controlled UNRWA schools[7]—Ging laid the blame for the dismal state of Gaza youngsters at Israel's feet:

If you have no reason to live, you will seek a glorious death. It's worse now than it ever was before. A whole generation of Palestinians will have never got out of the besieged strip, never interacted with foreigners, or even met Israelis except as enemy soldiers intent on killing and destruction. Their violent behavior and disrespect to their parents is symptomatic of the desperation they are growing up in.[8]

On April 22, Ging gave a major press conference at the U.N. where he claimed that the people of Gaza were "struggling to survive" because of the "political situation," ignoring altogether the underlying causes of their plight:

There is a distance between the mischaracterization of Gaza, as a so-called "hostile entity," and the scale of the civility of the people who populate the Gaza Strip in these very uncivilized circumstances. They are very civilized people who manifest very clearly interact[ion] with visitors.[9]

The denial of Gaza's position as a "hostile entity" is a highly politicized and totally false statement. When thousands of rockets have been fired from the strip at Israeli population centers for nearly a decade, and its governing party Hamas is openly sworn to Israel's destruction,[10] Gaza cannot but be considered a hostile entity by any political, legal, or moral criterion. Ging implies that the Gaza residents are devoid of associations with Hamas—which he never mentioned—and totally innocent bystanders.

Additionally, Ging insisted:

All [UNRWA] teaching staff is closely vetted by the U.N. in order to provide a non-political education.[11]

This is perhaps Ging's most outrageous misrepresentation of the facts at this press conference. The reality is that Hamas, via its affiliate Islamic Bloc, has dominated the UNRWA teachers' union in Gaza for fifteen years, and, in 2006, gained full control of the union's executive council. Hamas enormously influences the education in the classroom.[12]

Promoting the Flotilla

On May 3, in an interview in his Gaza office with the Norwegian paper Aftenposten, Ging urged international intervention in Gaza since "Israel refuses to act reasonably":

Therefore we ask the international community: Bring us the supplies we need to rebuild schools and run them; bring us the supplies we need [for] hospitals and medical centers. Everybody knows how desperate the situation [in the Gaza Strip] is after almost three years of blockade. We need action now.

And who would stop the ship with such things as teaching materials and materials to [build] schools? In that case, we would get a new reality for the international community. Then the purpose of the blockade would be to destroy Gaza, not to protect Israel.[13]

We believe that Israel will not intercept these vessels because the sea is open, and human rights organizations have been successful in similar, previous operations proving that breaking the siege of Gaza is possible. Where there is a political will, there is always a way.[14]

The blatant incitement for action against Israel, hardly a part of UNRWA's mandate, made news internationally and was repeated in a variety of media sources. Not only does it inflate the severity of the humanitarian situation in Gaza and ignore its real causes, but it arguably helped inspire the so-called "Freedom Flotilla" launched later that month. A May 6 flotilla video from the "Free Gaza Movement"—which begins by citing Ging—provides prima facie documentation of this.[15]

Misrepresenting the Gaza situation

On July 7, 2010, a British member of the European parliament, Chris Davies, sent a letter to the British foreign secretary in which he said that he had met with Ging, who had "confirmed the view that… Israel's blockade of the territory [Gaza] is profoundly counterproductive … Ging emphasized that although Israel was now allowing all foodstuffs through its checkpoints, it was not allowing anything for construction, commerce, and industry."[16]

Ging ignored the Israeli concern about letting into Gaza materials that would enable Hamas to build bunkers and storage areas for rockets or otherwise strengthen the organization's infrastructure. Also ignored was the Israeli government's announcement on June 20, 2010, of the loosening of restrictions and of plans to meet with international agencies to discuss advancing such projects as the construction of schools and hospitals.[17] In fact, three months earlier in March 2010, U.N. secretary-general Ban Ki-moon announced that Israel would be launching a housing project in the Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis, which would involve the rebuilding of 150 housing units, a mill, an UNRWA school, and sewage infrastructure.[18] This alone refutes the statement that Israel was not permitting construction.

In mid-September Ging claimed that much of the water in Gaza was polluted and that 90 percent of it was not drinkable.[19]

What Ging neglects to acknowledge is that Israel continues to send water into Gaza even though there is no requirement to do so according to international law: Every year Israel provides five million cubic liters of water to Gaza, transferred through three pipes—one in the center of the Gaza Strip and two in the southern part of the strip—in addition to the shipment of bottled mineral water via the Kerem Shalom crossing.

As to water sources within Gaza, they are administered exclusively by the Palestinian water board with no Israeli interference. The entire water infrastructure (including water processing) that belonged to the Israeli communities in the Gaza Strip was left intact and ready for use when Israel disengaged from Gaza in 2005.[20]

At that time, Israeli and Palestinian officials toured the Israeli water processing facilities to ensure their proper operation. The Palestinians were given documentation to allow them to use the facilities the Israelis built to process sewage water for reuse in agriculture. Whether the facilities have been used efficiently is another question: It was noted at the time of the tour that chlorine that was being held by the Israelis for use in the water plant was not promptly claimed for use by the Palestinian Authority (PA).[21] On September 13, 2010, Jerusalem allowed 250 tons of construction materials into the strip to upgrade a major sewage plant in Gaza City.[22]

On May 18, 2010, an Olympic-sized swimming pool was opened in Gaza.[23] As recently as summer 2010, a "Crazy Water Aqua Fun Park," featuring three swimming pools, a canal 100 meters long, and ponds, was held in Gaza. [24] Whatever water resources are available in the strip were sufficient for these projects and activities.

On October 16, 2010, welcoming the international group calling itself "The Elders," a group of global leaders brought together by Nelson Mandela,[25] in their visit to Gaza, Ging said:

I am delighted that the Elders come again to Gaza to witness and speak of simple and obvious truths that go untold. The truth that every one of the 800,000 children in Gaza knows is that we are in the fourth year of an illegal, inhumane, and counterproductive blockade on 1.5 million innocent civilians.[26]

Leaving aside Ging's cavalier use of figures to exaggerate the Gaza situation—four months earlier he spoke of 750,000, rather than 800,000 children allegedly "paying the toll" of the Israeli blockade[27]—Israel has not been contravening international law and has actually exceeded its requirements with regard to the extent of humanitarian assistance permitted into Gaza.[28] Moreover, while Ging uses the term "blockade" broadly, in actuality the only blockade is at sea as hundreds of trucks carrying humanitarian and commercial goods are allowed into Gaza weekly via land crossings from Israel.[29]

On November 11, Ging complained of persistent problems attending the Israeli blockade:

There's been no material change for the people on the ground here in terms of their status, the aid dependency, the absence of any recovery or reconstruction, no economy … The easing, as it was described, has been nothing more than a political easing of the pressure on Israel and Egypt.[30]

Yet three weeks later Ging rebutted his own claim by acknowledging that "the shops were full of consumer goods."[31]

Still in December, addressing a Gaza festival promoting a reduction in gender violence, Ging blamed Israel for the prevalence of this phenomenon by claiming that the "blockade" had devastated the economy and made daily life more difficult. Consequently, domestic violence had increased due to escalating levels of stress and unemployment.[32]

On December 27, Ging gave a talk at the Limmud Conference in Britain—an annual broad-based, Jewish community learning week featuring lectures and workshops. He acknowledged that matters were not dire—infant mortality figures, for example, were those of the first world; and while there were hungry children, "they're not emaciated." Yet he claimed that "we should not wait until they are emaciated" as the situation was deteriorating.

But less than two minutes further into the talk, he contradicted the deterioration claim by saying that "we've now turned the corner … since the new Israeli government decision [June 2010] on adjusting the blockade, every day is better than yesterday."[33]

New Commissioner, Same Old Story

In January 2010, Filippo Grandi succeeded Karen Abu Zayd as UNRWA commissioner-general. His inauguration statement to the organization's staff, posted on the UNRWA website, promoted the theme of Israeli injustices against the Palestinians of Gaza:

I need not tell you how difficult this period is for the Palestinian people. We are all painfully aware of the counterproductive policies collectively punishing the people of the Gaza Strip; conscious decisions that have caused untold suffering and a dramatic deterioration in the lives of the population, in contravention of international law.[34]

Like Ging, Grandi takes a highly politicized view of the Gaza situation, ignoring altogether its underlying causes—the years of continuous missile attacks on Israel's cities and villages—and misrepresenting both the nature and scope of the Israeli reaction and its legality.

On May 31, Grandi issued a joint statement with Robert Serry, U.N. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, about the flotilla incident, which laid the blame for the event solely on Israel:

We are shocked by reports of killings and injuries of people on board boats carrying supplies for Gaza, apparently in international waters. We condemn the violence and call for it to stop … We wish to make clear that such tragedies are entirely avoidable if Israel heeds the repeated calls of the international community to end its counterproductive and unacceptable blockade of Gaza.[35]

Referring yet again to the flotilla incident on June 6, Grandi argued that

It is terrible to say this, but I hope that the tragedy could be a turning point, a watershed in terms of the blockade. I hope that world leaders, those who make decisions, open their eyes to the suffering of the Palestinians.

This time, however, he included a veiled threat: "If you have one and half million Palestinians affected 60 kilometers from Tel Aviv, it is not a healthy situation for Israel's security," he said,[36] describing Gaza as the "largest open-air prison in the world."[37] At the beginning of July, during a visit to Japan, Grandi again framed his Gaza concerns as a veiled threat:

Frustration among refugees in Gaza has reached a bursting point with further unrest likely unless Israel lifts its blockade against them immediately. There is mounting disturbance among the refugees because they do not see their problems solved … this commotion will pose a risk to the peace process.[38]

In the fall of 2010, Grandi was still echoing the same themes. Calling for an end to Israel's "siege" of Gaza, he maintained that children enrolled in UNRWA schools would be studying in 186 shipping containers[39] since Israel had not allowed the entry of one single truckload of construction materials requested by UNRWA.

Grandi's claim that Israel has not allowed entry of a single truckload of construction materials is not only false but the inverse of the truth. As the October 2010 report by the Israeli Coordinator of Government Assistance in the Territories (COGAT) makes clear:

Materials were transferred, via crossings from Israel into Gaza, in October for the follow UNRWA projects:

Riad school in Rafah, 32 truckloads.
Eight classrooms being constructed in the Za'arah school, one truckload.
Rehabilitation of a medical center in Nutzirat, 21 truckloads,
Five housing units in Um-Nazer, seven truckloads,
Seven housing units in Khan Younis, nine truckloads.[40]

On November 30, Grandi released a statement to the UNRWA Advisory Commission meeting that was held in Jordan, which included the following:

In the West Bank, there were signs of continuing economic growth. However, the context of occupation, human rights violations, and a variety of related factors conspired to deny many Palestinians and Palestine refugees the material benefits of economic revival. These factors included the construction of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land; the separation barrier; and the associated regime of movement restrictions … unacceptable and growing restrictions are replicated throughout the West Bank and are incompatible with the objective of Palestinian statehood as affirmed by the international community, and as embodied in the plan of the Palestinian Authority in that regard.[41]

Grandi's politicized statements regarding Palestinians who are not refugees and the objectives of Palestinian statehood as embodied in the PA plan, on the one hand, and regarding Israel's activities in the disputed territories, on the other, are well beyond the purview of UNRWA.

Politicizing UNRWA

On June 18, 2010, in response to Israel's pronounced intention to ease restrictions on materials allowed into Gaza, Christopher Gunness, UNRWA spokesperson, demanded the complete "lifting [of] the siege and blockade, which is regarded as a violation of international law," adding that the "collective punishment of 1.5 million" people in Gaza was illegal.[42] Four days later, in a widely cited statement, he argued that nothing short of the full lifting of Israel's blockade would allow Gaza to be rebuilt:

The Israeli strategy is to make the international community talk about a bag of cement here, a project there. We need full unfettered access through all the crossings … Israel's blockade became a blockade against the U.N.[43]

Masterful for its public relations effect, this statement is a blatant distortion of reality in that it pits Israel against the U.N., which wants school construction materials brought into Gaza, rather than against the strip's actual ruler—Hamas—which seeks to smuggle weapons to destroy Israel and building materials for weapons bunkers. Needless to say, Gunness fails to acknowledge Israel's legitimate need to prevent weapons or potential war materials targeting its civilian population from reaching Gaza. In referring to an Israeli strategy of making the international community talk about "a bag of cement here, a project there"—a phrase that caught on with the media—Gunness obscured the fact that Jerusalem had reasons for what was being done (which he surely knew) and created the false impression that it was being arbitrarily negative.

In a highly politicized article, run by the Palestinian Ma'an News Agency on December 16, Gunness commented on political issues well beyond his purview as a representative of UNRWA, or for that matter beyond UNRWA's mandate, and further promoted the organization's involvement in political matters. The article included the following:

The arrival of that day [when UNRWA can fold its operations], however, is contingent upon a real peace process that bears tangible results for Palestine refugees in line with United Nations resolutions and with international law and practice …

UNRWA recognizes that the API [Arab Peace Initiative] is an important element in the pursuit of peace.

The responsibility to ensure a negotiated end to the conflict lies with states and other political actors. That said, UNRWA is a stakeholder in the outcomes of any peace process. The agency is obligated to advocate for the realization and protection of the human rights of Palestine refugees … In keeping with UNRWA's mandate and its focus on promoting the well-being of refugees, the agency could serve as a facilitator and advisor to refugees, the United Nations and other entities engaged in formulating and implementing a future dispensation.[44]

[1] "Hamas Is in Contact with Most Foreign Countries," The Jerusalem Post, Oct. 23, 2010.
[2] Daniel Pipes, "UNRWA Official Calls on Palestinians to Accept Reality,", Oct. 23, 2010.
[3] "Assistance to Palestine Refugees," A/RES302 (IV), United Nations General Assembly, New York, Dec. 8, 1949.
[4] See, for example, Arlene Kushner, "UNRWA: A Hard Look at an Agency in Trouble," The Center for Near East Policy Research, Jerusalem, Sept. 2005; idem, "UNRWA: Its Role in Gaza," The Center for Near East Policy Research, Jerusalem, Aug. 2009.
[5] "UNRWA's John Ging and Children's Psychiatric Hospital in Gaza," YouTube, Jan. 4, 2010.
[6] See, for example, Jonathan Fighel, "Hamas in Gaza—Urban Warfare Strategy," International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, Jan. 11, 2009; The Jerusalem Post, Mar. 15, 2010.
[7] Kushner, "UNRWA: Its Role in Gaza," pp. 10-2; author e-mail correspondence with Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi, spring 2009.
[8] "Guns n' teddy bears," Journey to Gaza: A Journalist's Diary Blog, Apr. 3, 2010.
[9] Kuwait News Agency, Apr. 22, 2010.
[10] "Hamas Covenant 1988," Yale Law School Avalon Project, accessed Mar. 30, 2011.
[11] Talk Radio News Service, Apr. 22, 2010.
[12] Kushner, "UNRWA: Its Role in Gaza"; The Jerusalem Post, Mar. 29, 2009.
[13] Aftenposten (Oslo), May 3, 2010.
[14] Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding (Dalton, Ga.), June 15, 2010.
[15] "John Ging Gaza," YouTube, accessed Mar. 30, 2011; Aftenposten (Oslo), May 3, 2010.
[16] Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA, Tehran), July 7, 2010.
[17] "The Civilian Policy towards the Gaza Strip: The Implementation of the Cabinet Decision (June 2010)," Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories (CoGAT), Israel Ministry of Defense, Jerusalem.
[18] ShalomLife (Concord, Ont.), Mar. 24, 2010.
[19] The Voice (Leuven, Belg.), Sept. 20, 2010.
[20] Author e-mail correspondence with Guy Inbar, CoGAT, Jan. 3, 2011.
[21] Shlomo Dror, CoGAT, "Israel Turns over Gaza Water Processing Facility to Palestinians," Jewish Virtual Library, Nov. 21, 2005.
[22] "Construction Equipment to Upgrade Gaza Sewage Treatment Facilities," Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sept. 13, 2010.
[23] Ma'an News Agency (Bethlehem), May 18, 2010; Israel Matzav blog, May 25, 2010.
[24] "Crazy Water Park—Gaza,", accessed Mar. 31, 2011. The park was closed by Hamas and subsequently burned down by vandals.
[25] "About the Elders," The Elders website, accessed Mar. 19, 2011.
[26] "Gaza: the Simple Truths that Go Untold," The Elders, Oct. 16, 2010.
[27] Ma'an News Agency, June 27, 2010.
[28] The Jerusalem Post, Aug. 27, 2010; Abraham Bell, "Is Israel Bound by International Law to Supply Utilities, Goods, and Services to Gaza?" Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Feb. 28, 2008.
[29] See, for example, "Gaza Strip—Land Crossing Activities: Crossing Status Weekly Report," CoGAT, Mar. 13-19, 2011.
[30] BBC News, Nov. 11, 2010.
[31] John Ging, UNRWA, U.N. press briefing, Nov. 30, 2010; idem, presentation, Limmud Conference of Jewish Learning, London, Dec. 27, 2010.
[32] "Gazans Rally Together at Festival to Combat Gender Violence," U.N. Women, New York, Dec. 9, 2010.
[33] Ging, Limmud Conference of Jewish Learning, Dec. 27, 2010.
[34] "Commissioner-General's Inaugural Letter to Staff," UNRWA, Jan. 26, 2010.
[35] Robert Serry and Filippo Grandi, joint statement, Office of the U.N. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Jerusalem, May 31, 2010.
[36] Ma'an News Agency, June 8, 2010.
[37] All Voices News (San Francisco), June 8, 2010; Stephen Lendman, "End the Gaza Siege," MWC News, June 15, 2010.
[38] The Daily News Egypt (Giza), July 2, 2010; Now Lebanon, July 2, 2010; Agence France-Presse, July 2, 2010.
[39] "Alternative Report Submitted to UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Response to Israel's Third Periodic Report" (E/C.12/ISR/3), The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Gaza City, Oct. 18, 2010.
[40] "Humanitarian and Civilian Activities vis-à-vis the Gaza Strip – Monthly Report, October 2010," CoGAT, Nov. 10, 2010.
[41] "Commissioner-general's Statement on the UNRWA Advisory Committee Meeting," Mövenpick Hotel, Dead Sea, Jordan, Nov. 30, 2010.
[42] BBC World Service, June 18, 2010; Ma'an News Agency, June 18, 2010.
[43] Reuters, June 26, 2010.
[44] Ma'an News Agency, Dec. 16, 2010.

Arlene Kushner serves as a consultant for the Center for Near East Policy Research, Jerusalem and drew this article from an investigative report she undertook for the center.


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‘Sharia-Controlled Zones’ Sweep UK

by Stephen Brown

Only days after a deranged Anders Breivik claimed creeping Islamization of Norway as an excuse for cold-bloodedly murdering 76 people, the majority of which were children, a group of British Muslim extremists have seemingly mocked the tragedy by hanging bright yellow posters in several London boroughs declaring them “Sharia-controlled zones.”

One has to wonder about the timing.

Pasted on bus stops and street lamps, the posters have appeared in the London boroughs of Waltham Forest, Tower Hamlets and Newham. The message they convey is that there is to be “no gambling,” “no music or concerts,” “no porn or prostitution,” “no drugs or smoking” and “no alcohol” in the areas where the posters are displayed. The warning at the top reads: “You are entering a Sharia-controlled zone – Islamic rules enforced.” The messages are going up in both Muslim and non-Muslim-majority areas and are expected to appear country-wide.

“We now have hundreds, if not thousands of people up and down the country willing to go out and patrol the streets for us,” said Anjem Choudary, 41, the Muslim “preacher” claiming responsibility for the poster campaign.

A former lawyer, Choudary says that besides addressing “the sort of thug life attitude you get in British cities,” the campaign’s goal is also “to put the seeds down for an Islamic Emirate in the long term.” Choudary heads the banned radical Islamist group Islam4UK and has advocated for a Sharia-ruled Great Britain.

Choudary has a long association with radical Islamic politics in Britain. He was the co-founder of the Salafist group al-Muhajiroun (“the emigrants”) with Omar Bakri Mohammed. Bakri, a Lebanese citizen, once headed Great Britain’s Sharia law court and was prohibited from returning to Britain from Lebanon in 2005. The British government banned al-Muhajiroun last year.

Choudary also has a record for provocative behaviour. He once called the 9/11 terrorists “magnificent martyrs” and said the 2005 London subway bombings had been only “a matter of time.” He has also called for the execution of Pope Benedict, saying the Catholic leader had insulted Islam.

But Choudary is probably best known for a statement he made on a British television show after the interviewer suggested he should move to a country that already had Sharia law if he did not like Great Britain. Enraged, Choudary told the interviewer: “Who told you … that Great Britain belonged to you. The country belongs to Allah! If I were to move to the jungle, I would also not live there like the animals.”

One of the London areas targeted by the poster campaign, Tower Hamlets, has also seen “gay-free zone” warnings pasted on its walls in recent months, as well as women threatened by Islamists if they were not wearing headscarves. As a result of his extremist views, Choudary has received little support from Great Britain’s mainstream Muslim groups.

In a way, Choudary’s Sharia poster campaign is similar to the plan a Muslim group in America had to build a mosque at Ground Zero. With the Ground Zero mosque, the location was very suspect, while with the sharia posters, it is the timing. The possibility of a connection between the posters and the Norwegian tragedy may or may not exist, but the cultural and spiritual insensitivity of both initiatives, however, is great, especially with respect to the Ground Zero mosque plan.

But in the case of the poster campaign, just when Europe — and the rest of the world for that matter — is trying to come to grips with the senselessness of Norway’s tragedy, to promote Sharia law so soon after the event, whether deliberately or not, and claim it is part of a long-term plan to turn Great Britain into an Islamic state, is as unfeeling as it gets. Indirectly, with their posters the British Islamists are supporting Breivik’s evil, indicating his analysis was essentially correct concerning both the Islamization of Europe and multiculturalism. After all, the Sharia posters are obviously not an enlightened multicultural exchange.

Columnist Thomas Sowell described the planned mosque at Ground Zero as a big middle finger being given to America. The same can be said about the poster initiative vis-à-vis the Norwegian massacre. There is a human impulse to commiserate with Norwegians at this time, but the Sharia posters are not only devoid of compassion but also strike at our basic human sensitivity. And it is useless to think the Islamists will ever stop to think about some of these things. They have long used our tolerance to promote their intolerance and now are using our sense of decency and compassion against us to mutilate our world. Perhaps the more important question concerning this matter is why the community of moderate Muslim leaders is not condemning this offensive behaviour?

To their credit, the British police are investigating the posters with the intention of prosecuting the people who put them up. Part of the reason is to prevent any escalation. If Choudary’s Islamist thugs are allowed to walk the streets and enforce Sharia rules, frightening and intimidating people, the police know it would only be a matter of time before there would be a very unpleasant counter-reaction.

Ironically, because of the Oslo massacre Choudary says he is organizing a march against the English Right. Never ones to miss an opportunity, it is obvious that Islamic extremists like him will now cynically use the Oslo tragedy to deflect attention away from their own extremism.

“The Muslim community needs to be vigilant,” he said. “There is an undercurrent against Islam. I do believe a Norway-style attack could happen here.”

Contrary to Choudary’s belief, a Norway-style attack has already taken place in Great Britain. The 2005 London subway bombings by Islamic extremists took 52 lives and injured more than 700 people. Therefore, due to this home-grown tragedy, perhaps the most fitting prohibition symbol Choudary could put on his posters is one of a crossed-out bomb.

Stephen Brown


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