by Caroline Glick
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.
Earlier this month in the West Bank, “settlers attempted to burn two mosques, and vandalized an IDF base as part of the latest ‘price tag’ attacks. The attacks came in response to the demolition of three buildings earlier this week in the West Bank settlement outpost Migron, 14 kilometers north of Jerusalem.”
Accordingly, on September 9, the U.S. State Department unequivocally denounced these attacks, calling on those responsible to “be arrested and subject to the full force of the law.” Likewise, when another mosque and copies of the Koran were burned earlier, the State Department said “We condemn this attack in the strongest terms and call for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.”
This prompts the following question: If the State Dept. is concerned over places of worship, why do the epidemic attacks on churches in the Muslim world go largely unnoticed?
To be sure, the State Dept. has condemned the bloodiest and most savage of church attacks, including the Baghdad, Iraq attack, which saw at least 58 Christian butchered, and the New Year church bombing in Alexandria, Egypt, which left 23 Christians dead.
Yet one searches in vain for formal condemnations, let alone acknowledgment, of the majority of church attacks, most of which, if not as deadly as Alexandria or Baghdad, are much more brutal than the West Bank mosque attacks.
For instance, where is the condemnation for the attack in Sool, Egypt, when a Muslim mob torched a church, even as an imam called for Muslims to “Kill all the Christians?” As for the Imbaba attacks in Egypt, when Muslim throngs torched three churches and killed several Copts, the U.S. embassy issued a statement condemning “sectarian violence” while not once mentioning that any churches were attacked.
During last month alone, two churches were set aflame in Indonesia, two churches were bombed in Iraq, three churches were bombed in Nigeria. Of all these, only one of the Iraq church attacks—which left 23 worshippers seriously injured—received a condemnation by the State Dept.
Of course, the issue here is not that the State Dept. needs to condemn all church attacks (who can keep up with their frequency?); nor do these statements amount to much more than mere words, anyway. Even so, as words, they offer some revelations.
First, the obvious: It seems that the State Dept. mentions attacks on churches only, but not always, when people are killed, whereas the condemnation of the West Bank mosques have only to do with attacks on buildings. In other words, attacks on churches around the Muslim world that do not necessarily lead to the loss of life, are ignored, whereas attacks on West Bank mosques that do not target or kill Muslims are strongly condemned.
The language of the condemnations is also telling: the Alexandria attack killing 23 Copts doesn’t even call on bringing the perpetrators to justice; Kirkuk is treated with “confidence”: “We are confident the Government of Iraq will take all necessary steps to bring the people responsible for this horrific act to justice.”
Contrast this with the language used when Jewish settlers vandalize mosques, but kill no one in the process: then the U.S. unequivocally calls for them to “be subject to the full force of the law.”
Yet even now, it might be argued that one is stretching the issue, focusing too much on words and statements. Perhaps—until one realizes that many of the most oppressive Muslim nations just got a free pass from the State Dept.
Days ago, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released the Annual Report on International Religious Freedom. Amazingly, countries like Pakistan, notorious for making non-Muslim life a living hell, including through “blasphemy laws,” were not even cited as “countries of particular concern.”
In other words, the vast majority of Muslim nations persecuting their religious minorities do not, according to the Obama administration, count as countries that are “engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom” (the definition of a “country of particular concern”). Even Egypt—which this year alone has already seen over fifty Copts killed, not to mention the many churches burned or bombed—was not listed.
One would have hoped for a bit more objectivity and moral balance from the government of the United States, but such is the current state of affairs.Raymond Ibrahim, a Shillman Fellow at the DHFC, is a widely published author on Islam, and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.
In his 40-minute address to the UN General Assembly, Mahmoud Abbas positioned himself squarely as a disciple of the blood-soaked legacy and agenda of Yasser Arafat. All that was missing was Arafat's military uniform.
Early on in his speech, Abbas proudly recalled Arafat's 1974 threatening words when he stood at the podium of the General Assembly, with a gun holster in one hand and an olive branch in the other -- "Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand." The clear implication being that Israel's choice was and remains between surrender to all Palestinian demands or face a wave of violence
Abbas, like Arafat, spoke in my-way-or-the-highway terms. There wasn't a scintilla of flexibility in his address. Just the opposite:
--In dealing with the peace process, Abbas put the entire blame on Israel for lack of negotiations.
--At the same, he demanded one-sided Israeli concessions, including a building freeze in Jewish areas of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, before he would deign to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.
--His speech was riddled with historical falsehoods, especially the assertion that only the Palesitnians have long-time ties to the Holy Land, erasing in one swoop 3,000 years of Jewish life in the Holy Land.
--In recalling Israel's War of Independence in 1948, he painted it as an act of aggression against an indigenous Arab society, omitting any mention that Israel had to defend itself against half a dozen Arab armies that attacked the nascenet Jewish state with the declared aim of destroying it at its birth.
--In any peace deal, he demanded all of Gaza, all of the West Bank and all of East Jerusalem, with no land swaps. This means surrender of Jerusalem's Old City, including its Jewish Quarter and the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest site, to Palestinian sovereignty
--The Holy Land? Sacred only to Muslims and Christians. No Jewish history there at all.
--With that kind of mindset, there was no surprise when he declared that he would not recognize Israel as a Jewish state -- quite a feat especially at the UN, which in its 1947 two-state partition resolution, called for creation of a "Jewish state" and an "Arab state." There were no Palestinians at the time, which may explain why Abbas skipped that bit of history.
--He slammed Israel's anti-terrorism security fence as a "racist annexation wall," while calling for the release of terrorists from Israeli jails.
--And, among his many chutzpaths, he praised his "unity" agreement with Hamas terrorists in Gaza, condemning Israel's counter-terrorism offensive in Gaza three years ago, without mentioning the thousands of rockets fired from Gaza on civilian targets in Israel.
"This was a counter-productive and harsh speech that offered nothing to Israelis," summed up Richard Haas, chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations. "It was very disappoin[t]ing."
Which also is an understatement.
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.
According to Israeli historian Benny Morris, “Islam these past two weeks has definitely been closing in on the Jewish state, with Israel’s ambassadors in the two major Middle Eastern states with which it had good relations, Turkey and Egypt, being sent packing.” Morris added, “It was Islam which gradually eroded secularism and brought down pragmatic, prudent governments in the region, which drove diplomats from their posts.”
As Morris sees it, the Arab Spring and the accompanying demonstrations in Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East are to be opposed and not supported, as the Europeans and Americans governments have done.
As long as the current Islamic teachings prevail — teachings in which Jews are portrayed as “devils” who must be eradicated and Israel is considered “an enemy of God” — the talk about peace between Israel and the Arab-Muslim world, and the Palestinians in particular, is premature, if not futile. The efforts by the Obama administration and the Europeans at peacemaking, which compel Israel to make unilateral concessions to the Palestinians, can be best described as appeasement of the Arab-Muslim world.
No Israeli concessions, however, will satisfy the open aspirations of the Palestinians or, for that matter, the Arab world, to see Israel replaced by an Arab-Muslim entity that resembles their own arbitrary and oppressive regimes. Peace is meaningless in a climate (among the Arabs) that is driven by religious hatred, which uses the Koran and the “
Hate for Israel has been kept alive even while Egypt was regarded by world powers as “honoring” its commitment under the Camp David Peace Accords, which expressly called for an end to “hostile propaganda.” During the reigns of Sadat and Mubarak, Egyptian newspapers were replete with the most audacious charges against Israel, including the accusation of Israel being behind the destruction of the Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, that Israel was exporting radiation contaminated food to Egypt and that Israel introduced most of the plagues that afflict agriculture and animal health. In’ book, “Heaven on Earth,” he quoted an Islamic intellectual who explained why it is important to keep Muslim hatred of Jews alive: “The role of the Islamic stream is to keep the flame of hatred towards Zionism burning in their souls.”
The new “hero” of the Egyptian and Arab masses is a 23-year old named Ahmed al-Shahat, who climbed up the Israeli embassy building in Cairo last week, removed the Israeli flag and replaced it with the Egyptian flag to the cheers of thousands of Egyptian demonstrators, who burned the Israeli flag while chanting “Allahu Akbar.”
Ahmed al-Shahat is a by-product of the hate-filled anti-Semitic, anti-Israel Egyptian propaganda campaign conducted by Mubarak and his predecessors, which infected homes, the media, mosques, and schools. And with the Muslim Brotherhood now fully legitimized, physical attacks on Israeli targets (e.g. the gas pipeline to Israel and the Israeli embassy) can be expected.Palestinian Media Watch translated a book by Mustafa Mashhur, leader of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (1996-2002), titled “Jihad Is The Way,” which appeared in the Jerusalem Post on February 9, 2011. In it, Mashhur writes:
The problems of the Islamic world – such as in Palestine, Afghanistan, Syria, Eritrea or the Philippines – are not issues of territories and nations, but of faith and religion. They are the problems of Islam and all Muslims, and their resolution cannot be negotiated and bargained by recognizing the enemy’s right to the Islamic land he stole, and therefore there is no other option but jihad for Allah, and this is why jihad is the way.
Columnist Richard Cohen wrote in the Washington Post in October 2001:
The Arab world is the last bastion of unbridled, unashamed, unhidden and unbelievable anti-Semitism. Hitlerian myths get published in the popular press as incontrovertible truth. The Holocaust gets minimized or denied…How the Arab world will ever come to terms with Israel when Israelis are portrayed as the devil incarnate is hard to figure out.
The so-called “moderate” imam Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the spiritual guide to the Muslim Brotherhood and a frequent commentator on Al-Jazeera, prayed during a January 2009 “Gaza Victory Rally” in Doha, Qatar, for the opportunity to kill a Jew before his death:
The only thing that I hope for is that as my life approaches its end, Allah will give me an opportunity to go to the land of Jihad and resistance, even if in a wheelchair. I will shoot Allah’s enemies, the Jews, and they will throw a bomb at me, and thus, I will seal my life with martyrdom. Praise be to Allah.
It is apparent that the secular West does not comprehend the triumphalist nature of resurgent Islam and its aggressive nature, which calls for jihad and the creation of a universal Islamic state governed by Sharia law. Not even the blatant and popular incitement against Israel by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, which prompted hate-filled demonstrators to storm the Israeli embassy in Cairo (an act of war), or the provocations of Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan have made Western capitals realize that neither Turkey nor Egypt can be relied upon. Islam and Islamists are driving the agenda in both Ankara and Cairo.
has concluded that what the Arab Spring has delivered is the “ruination of responsible government, chaos, and a surge in, and possibly…a takeover by radical Islamism.” He added,
Unfortunately, the events in Egypt are part of a wider pattern, one episode feeding the next. In large measure it was set in train in 1979 with the Islamist Revolution’s victory in Teheran (ironically, the year Israel and Egypt signed their peace treaty). Since then, most of the anti-Israel fury and operations in the region have been orchestrated if not supported in one way or another by Teheran.
Israel might be the first victim of Islamist hatred, but not its last. American and European policymakers should recognize that appeasement of an Islamist Middle East will not stop its quest for dominance, just as Nazism killed the Jews first then proceeded to kill millions of Christians in the name of an intolerant ideology.
Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas is poised to proceed with his bid for Palestinian statehood recognition at the UN, while Western powers are still clambering to forestall the effort and avert a regional diplomatic quagmire. At this juncture, we might ask ourselves how a terrorist entity like the PA, enmeshed in the genocidal campaign to wipe Israel off the map, has become the darling of the “human rights” wing of the UN. The answer lies in a deliberate rewriting of history, which has in effect created a nation in exile which has actually never existed.
Because there was never a state of “Palestine” nor a “Palestinian people,” those who promote the notion of a “Palestinian homeland,” where the Palestinians have lived from “time immemorial,” must create a faux-history to justify this claim. Stealing Israel’s history offers a short cut that also has the advantage of denying the legitimacy of the Jewish state. So Arab propagandists, supported by anti-Israel archaeologists, historians and scriptural scholars in the West, are hard at work erasing or denying all evidence of things Jewish in the Land of Israel and substituting the fictitious narrative of an ancient “Palestinian people,” whose presence in the land of Canaan stretches back for thousands of years.
This effort to perpetrate the historical equivalent of genocide is the subject of David Meir-Levi’s important new pamphlet, Stolen History: How the Palestinians and their Allies Attack Israel’s Right to Exist by Erasing its Past.
To order the pamphlet, click here.
To read the pamphlet, click here.
The city council of Copenhagen has given its final approval for the construction of the first official "Grand Mosque" in the Danish capital. The mega-mosque will have a massive blue dome as well as two towering minarets and is architecturally designed to stand out on Copenhagen's low-rise skyline.
Unlike most mosques in Europe, which cater to Sunni Muslims, the mosque in Copenhagen pertains to Shia Islam. The mosque is being financed by the Islamic Republic of Iran; critics say that theocrats in Tehran intend to use the mosque to establish a recruiting center for the militant Shia Muslim group, Hezbollah in Europe.
Critics of the Shia mosque have warned local politicians that the building will be owned by the Iranian regime for use as a propaganda center as well as a platform from which to recruit impressionable Muslim immigrant youths for service to Hezbollah. But the Copenhagen city council states that who pays for building the mosque is none of its concern.
The Copenhagen mosque is, in fact, being built by Ahlul Beit Foundation, a radical Shia Muslim proselytizing and political lobbying group run by the Iranian government. Ahlul Beit already runs around 70 Islamic centers around the world, and has, as its primary goal, the promoting of the religious and political views of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Ahlul-Beit is opposed to all brands of Islam that compete with the form of Islam dictated by theocrats in Iran: the organization has called for the persecution of Sunni Muslims, Sufi Muslims, and Alawites as well as all secular and moderate Muslims. The organization is also vociferously opposed to the integration of Muslim immigrants into their host societies.
Ahlul Beit is especially focused on spreading Islamic Sharia law beyond the Middle East; its centers in Africa and Asia, for example, have been used to radicalize local Muslim communities. In a typical quid-pro-quo arrangement, the organization offers money to the poor who then convert to Shia Islam and are subjected to religious training by Iranian-backed Imams. The group has been banned in at least a dozen countries.
In Europe, Ahlul Beit mosques are usually presented to the general public as centers for cultural and sports activities, but in practice they are often used by Iranian intelligence to monitor Iranians living abroad as well as to harass Iranian dissidents.
In Germany, the Imam Ali mosque in Hamburg was linked to the September 1992 assassination of four leaders of the Iranian Kurdish Democratic Party at the Mykonos restaurant in Berlin.
In Britain, the Ahlul Beit mosque in London has been involved in issuing death threats against the British-Indian writer Salman Rushdie. The mosque has also been used to recruit terrorists and to spy on Iranian exiles living in Britain.
Mohammed Mahdi Khademi, the man who is set to become the main imam at the new mosque in Copenhagen, is a former military officer who ran the ideology department of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps until 2004, when he was hand-picked by the Iranian regime to move to Denmark. Many Iranian exiles believe Khademi has close ties to Iranian intelligence and fear the new mosque will be used against them.
Some members of the Iranian democracy movement say the Copenhagen mosque is about far more than just the issue of freedom of religion. They say it is about Iran's desire to establish a political-religious foothold for extremist Islam in northern Europe.
Farrokh Jafari, an Iranian exile who recently organized a protest against the mosque, told the Copenhagen-based Berlingske daily newspaper that he is not opposed to having a mosque in the city, but that he wants to draw attention to Ahlul Beit's dubious intentions.
"We are protesting against Copenhagen's plans for a Grand Mosque, which is being paid for by the Iranian theocracy. We fear that the mosque will not serve its religious purposes, but simply camouflage Iran's extended arms in Denmark," Jafari said.
He continued: "We are not afraid of the mosque itself. We are supporters of religious freedom, and Muslims in Denmark should naturally also have a proper mosque. But we fear that this mosque, which is being built by Ahlul Beit, will spread fear among democratic Iranians in Denmark, launder money, and help the regime's people transfer money out of the country, which they have stolen from the Iranian people. This is the experience from England, South Africa and France, where Ahlul Beit is also present.
"Ahlul Beit claims that the funds for the Grand Mosque come from private individuals in Iran and from collections in Denmark. We do not believe that. Ahlul Beit is controlled directly from Iran. It is idiotic to think that an association which uses enormous amounts of money to run religious centers in large parts of the world is exclusively run by private donations from a country that is under economic sanctions."
Socialist politician Lars Weiss, who is involved with urban planning for the city of Copenhagen, said on Danish public radio that funding of the mosque is a matter for the police, not the city council. "If there is a funding problem, it is a matter for the police or, in the last resort, the Danish Security and Intelligence Service. We do not assess funding in connection to other construction projects either," Weiss said.
The dimensions of the new mosque are enormous by Danish standards. The 2,000 square meter (21,500 square foot) Imam Ali mosque (see here for a computerized rendering of the mosque) will feature a massive prayer room for 3,000 Muslim worshippers at a time, amphitheatre, conference room, library and ample living accommodations for visiting imams from Iran. The mosque, which will be built in the Vibevej district in northwestern Copenhagen, will cater to the 80,000 Shia Muslims who now live in Denmark.
In addition to approving the building permit for the mosque, the Copenhagen town council also approved a new plan to enlarge the original design of the mosque, which will now be accompanied by two 32-meter (105-foot) minarets, according to the Danish public broadcaster DR.
The Copenhagen town council is dominated by left and far-left political parties; approval to build the mosque was decided with votes from the Social Democrats, the Radikale Venstre (literally: the Radical Left), the Socialistisk Folkeparti (a socialist green party founded by members of the former Communist Party of Denmark) and Enhedslisten (a Red-Green alliance of the Left Socialists, the Communist Party of Denmark and the Socialist Workers Party). The Conservatives and center-right Danish People's Party are opposed to the mosque plans.
Separately, the Copenhagen city council has also approved the construction of a second mega-mosque (see here for a computerized rendering of the mosque) to be located on Amager island in Copenhagen; it will cater to Sunni Muslims. The city has set aside land for the mosque, but the project has been stalled over a dispute about who will pay for the construction costs. One option would have Saudi Arabia pay for the mosque, but some local Muslims say the project should be financed exclusively by the local Muslim community in Denmark.
Get ready: tomorrow is R-Day at the United Nations: the World Conference Against Racism – a misnomer if there ever was one – a.k.a. Durban III, and the UN's meeting on upgrading the Palestinians toward a seat at the U.N as a new member state from which they will be able better to propagate their outspoken efforts to delegitimize Israel in an effort eventually to supplant it.
This "one-two punch," as Canadian Human Rights scholar Anne Bayefsky calls the Durban III Conference, will be the greatest attempt yet to delegitimize Israel in several years.
Since we last covered this event on August 10, opposition to Durban III has grown. Eight new countries have joined the six -- Canada, who led the boycott for the second time; the US, Israel; The Netherlands; the Czech Republic and Italy -- that were already boycotting the conference: Australia, Austria, Germany, Bulgaria, the United Kingdom, France, New Zealand and Poland.
Every Western democratic member of the permanent five powers on the UN Security Council is boycotting the conference. This at least virtually guarantees that Durban III, and whatever racist conclusions it arrives at, will not be able to claim a trace of moral authority.
But the massive boycott is far from being the only opposition. Three separate events will be held at the same time as the UN-sponsored assault on the only democracy in the the Middle East, Israel.
Most prominently, there is "Perils of Global Intolerance", an event co-organized by Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, and Bayefsky, and sponsored by the Hudson Institute and the Touro College Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust.
This event will feature guest speakers, including former US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton; Gov, Mike Huckabee; Muslim Journalist Khaled Abu Toameh; Dr, M. Zuhdi Jasser, Shelby Steele; Southern Sudanese leader Simon Deng and the Canadian Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney, who led Canada's earliest, trend-setting boycott.
Also, a coalition of NGOs has organized an event called We Have A Dream: Global Summit Against Discrimination and Persecution, which, unlike the UN-sanctioned event, will shine a light on the really urgent situations of persecution, discrimination and human rights abuses -- which the UN will ignore -- and push for UN reform.
Finally, the pro-Israel organization, StandWithUs, will hold a mock-circus demonstration across from UN headquarters called Durban 3 Ring Circus Rally, across from UN headquarters. Organizers will dress up as clowns to parody what is going on inside: I think you get the picture here.
These alternative events, and the quality of groups and speakers lined up to participate in them, show the depth of revulsion not just to the UN and its "anti-racism" conferences, but to the entire approach the UN takes toward real issues of racism and human rights abuses, a condition which has persisted there since 1975, when UN General Assembly Resolution 3379 "Determines that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination," a slur repealed only with enormous difficulty by the US Ambassador there ,at the time, John Bolton, in 1991; it was commonly known as "Zionism=Racism," or "Z=R." A critical mass of activists and elected officials are no longer content to stay silent on the N's wretched approach of attacking viable countries while remaining silent on human rights' worst offenders, such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, North Korea, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Venezuela, Russia, Turkey and China, to name but a few.
The irony is that while the Western world rejects the UN's approach with more and more gusto, it continues to bankroll this institution of human rights abuses it at the same time – much of it by the United States to the tune of an automatic 22% of the UN's budget, plus additional billions for the renovation of the Secretary-General's lavish residence.
Whatever happens at Turtle Bay can be dealt with in due course, perhaps by the US suggesting that if the UN moves ahead with initiatives that the US finds unacceptable, such as the Palestinians evading their own precious agreement Res. 242, to hold direct negotiations with Israel, a commitment they have refused to honor for over two years. While Israel has been willing to negotiate with no preconditions, the Palestinians have continually refused, probably in the hope that they will be handed more concessions cost-free, rather than having to negotiate and possibly having to compromise on something. Durban III must look to them like a gift: you pocket whatever you get cost-free, while still holding out for the rest -- in this instance: replacing all of Israel with a Palestinians State, as they openly state in both their Charter and in their media (see www.pmw.org); "from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea," as framed by the Palestinian Authority Minister for Jerusalem Affairs, Faisal Husseini.
The drive for reform at the deeply corrupt UN (think Oil-for-Food, or Sex-for-Food, for a start] should be led by those contried boycotting Durban III. The way the UN is funded -should immediately be revisited. Ambassador John Bolton's call to move from a system of automatic assessments to one of purely voluntary contributions seems to be the best possible option. We can only hope that Durban III will be the final installment of this pitiful trilogy. If tthe only countries attending Durban III were the unfree Arab states and other assorted dictatorships, at least we could see the UN for what it has, sadly, become.
As the Palestinian-Arabs and their friends make their latest push for "Palestinian" statehood at the United Nations this week, once again the wrong questions are being asked, while the pertinent questions every reporter, activist, and foreign minister should be asking never arise.
Why do "Palestinians" need a state of their own? Who are these "stateless" people? What is their history? Where have they been for all of these years?
In the spirit of "you don't know what you don't know," here are some Hansel-and-Gretel-like bread crumbs to guide journalists and others to the questions they might ask:
Where does the name "Palestine" come from and who have been the people who've lived there? Of course, it was coined by the conquering Romans to add insult to injury to a Jewish nation they sought to obliterate. The Romans conquered the land, but there was always a remnant of Jewish people living there.
While throughout the ages the land was under control of various powers, none called themselves "Palestinian," and there was never a nation with that name. It was that Jewish remnant and those Jews who joined them over time who became the "Palestinians."
In modern times, the Ottoman Turks controlled this territory and, following World War I, the British (under the auspices of the League of Nations). In this period, there were many "Palestinian" institutions, though all of them were Jewish in character and membership. The most famous of these was, perhaps, the Palestine Post, which lives on today as the Jerusalem Post. There were Palestine orchestras and chess teams and the like. But the names of the players were Jewish, not Arab.
As Jewish nationalism in the region gained strength, the Arabs and Muslims committed massacre after massacre of Jews throughout Palestine.
Meanwhile, in 1922, the British took 78% of territory that was promised for a Jewish homeland by the World War I victors and the League of Nations and gave it to the Arabs. The outcome was the heretofore nonexistent Arab nation of Transjordan. Transjordan later became simply Jordan.
This should be the end of the story, as the land of Palestine was divided (though quite unfairly) and an Arab state was created out of the Jewish homeland. "Two states for two peoples."
Being handed 78% of a territory would satisfy most people -- if their true interest were a state of their own. Instead, over the past seven decades, what the world refuses to see is the desire by the Arabs to obliterate Jewish nationalism, and later the Jewish nation that was its culmination.
Violence and terrorism by the Arabs against Jews continued, and as the Arabs stepped up their pressure on the British and the League of Nations, in an attempt to appease the Arabs, the remaining 22% of the land left for the Jews was divided further. The Arabs again got the bigger portion. The Jews accepted the offer and, when the mandate expired, declared independence as the nation of Israel.
The Arabs declared war.
Though they were unable to defeat the Israelis, the Arabs did gain more territory. The Jordanians expanded into what they renamed "the West Bank" so as to erase the Jewish connection to Judea and Samaria (as those areas were called for millennia), while Egypt grabbed the Gaza Strip.
The Arabs who lived in those areas never cried out for independence or claimed to be oppressed, nor threatened to go to the United Nations. Why? Because they were part of, rather than distinct from, the Arab Nation.
Instead, there were incessant terror attacks. In 1964, the Arabs formed the "Palestine Liberation Organization" -- three years before Israel would gain control over the Gaza Strip and Judea and Samaria (aka "the West Bank"). So: what were the Arabs bent on liberating, and whom were they liberating it from? Did they demand a state from Egypt and Jordan? This is the same PLO that today controls the Palestinian Authority -- and has never renounced its appetite for all of what was once dubbed "Palestine."
It was only after Israel's miraculous victory in 1967 that "the West Bank" and "Gaza Strip" suddenly had relevance to their Arab inhabitants, and it was then that the Arab propaganda machine revved up. It eventually inverted much of the world's perception of the Middle East: transforming tiny Israel from its natural role of "David" against the massive Arab population and lands, to one of "Goliath" against the "stateless," "oppressed," and "occupied" "Palestinians." It made the notion of changing straw into gold seem like child's play. And it worked.
That the Palestinian-Arabs have spilled much innocent blood to get their "cause" out there -- murdered Olympics athletes, airline passengers, bus riders, diners -- seems to have faded from memory. But it was these headline-grabbing crimes that got them to the head of the line.
The lesson: crime pays. Terror works.
So, journalists, activists, and foreign ministers of the world: you still have time to ask yourselves and others these questions; still have time to prevent a great wrong from being done; still have time to save untold lives; still have time to avoid a terrible precedent; still have time to prevent the creation of another terrorist state. Will you?
Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Dr. Mordechai Nisan, a retired lecturer in Middle East Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He continues to teach in other educational institutions on topics ranging from the Arab-Israeli conflict, Islam, Israel, Lebanon, and Minorities in the Mideast. He is the author of the new book, Only Israel West of the River.
FP: Dr. Mordechai Nisan, welcome to Frontpage Interview
Thank you for having me.
Congratulations on your new book. What inspired you to write it and why did you write it now in 2011?
Nisan: Thanks Jamie.
There is a significant erosion in the world and in Israel itself of belief in the justice of Zionism and Israel as a legitimate Jewish state. I felt that the charges of racism and illegal occupation had to be met in a reasoned fashion, so I mobilized arguments on behalf of Israel’s cause. In 2011, we witness the Palestinian diplomatic campaign for statehood, and this idea focused on the territories of Judea and Samaria – what the world calls the West Bank. It is a grave threat to Israel’s welfare. My response is a timely and I hope effective defense of Israel’s national rights and explanation of her political and security predicament.
FP: What is the major theme of the book?
Nisan: The predominant theme is that Israel is justifiably in control of all of Jerusalem and the territories as a historical homeland and national space for fulfilling Israel’s development and growth. This converges with my argument against a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River, a state that would destabilize the situation on the ground, catalyze tension and terrorism, radicalize the Arabs in Israel, demoralize Israel’s population, and raise doubts about the country’s stamina to face the Palestinian push to the sea. It is the Palestinian state idea that will excite popular Palestinian passions that Israel is on the way down and that the future is with the Palestinians.
FP: How does this book fit into the range of your other research and writing concerns?
Nisan: I have written on Israel from the start of my research with a focus on the Arab challenge to the Jewish state. So this book is a continuation and application of my thinking given the present circumstances of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But my broader research concerns and writings, like minority peoples and Lebanon, have sensitized me to the fragility of small peoples in the Muslim/Arab dominated Middle East. As a small people in an Arab sea, the Jews of Israel will always face demanding challenges to preserve their identity and cultivate their resourcefulness in pursuing the modern Israel national venture.
FP: What do you make of Abbas? How is he different from the leaders of Hamas?Nisan: Coming after the passing of flamboyant and legendary Fatah-founder Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas has to try and make his individual political mark. He has adopted the political discourse of peace-making with Israel, but without ever abandoning the essential Palestinian demands, like refugee return, which are designed to destroy Israel from within. Without any doubt, leading the Fatah movement, the PLO, and the Palestinian Authority, Abbas shares with Hamas the long-term Palestinian goal to destroy Israel. Hamas uses an Islamic idiom and a Sharia-based policy agenda, while the Abbas-run PLO/PA apparatus plays to the Western audience, media outlets, and the Israeli public. The deceiving and pugnacious Abbas is a far greater danger and threat to Israel than Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, a transparent enemy of Israel.
Nisan: The Palestinians rejected a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the past because they considered it a capitulation to Israel’s existence and a refutation of getting all of Palestine. The revolutionary campaign in principle sets its political sights on Israel’s elimination more than on Palestinian statehood. Yet, in the 1980′s, Palestinians began to murmur sweet nothings that they would settle for a state alongside Israel rather than in place of Israel. It is all sand in the world’s eyes. The Palestinians believe in a staged-process to get Israel to withdraw and suffer domestic demoralization, while the Palestinian flag will arouse Arab nationalist and Islamic religious arrogance, gushing with visceral contempt for the Jews wherever the Palestinians wander around Israeli society – in the streets, the universities, and shopping malls. This Israeli-Palestinian conflict contains powerful cultural undertones that arm the Palestinians with the indomitable drive toward victory – not compromise or reconciliation at all.
FP: What do you think of the vote for an independent Palestinian state that might be coming up at the U.N.? What are the possibilities?
Nisan: A declaration by the UN General Assembly for an independent Palestinian state is assured; getting a vote through the Security Council is not in the political arithmetic of its composition. But it is important to appreciate the historic occasion when the broad international community is essentially united behind the idea of a Palestinian state – jihadist, Islamic, irredentist – in the heart of the Jewish people’s homeland. This world community – Europeans, Africans, Asians, and others – supports the peace-and-war strategy that the Palestinians conduct against the small state of Israel.
In reality, the world community is knowingly determined to undermine the territorial integrity and national resilience of the besieged Jewish state. The mantra of “Palestinian statehood” should not fool any decent person, government, or country. The world has basically gone sour on Israel, tattered and feathered as illegitimate and criminal in its essence and policy. I only hope Israel will have, beyond the requisite resources, the wisdom to do all that its interests demand, and against anyone who threatens its welfare.
FP: Does this book offer a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
Nisan: It is somewhat presumptuous to confidently offer a solution, so I prefer to talk of a resolution or containment of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The locus for some kind of conflict-resolution, perhaps not peace as an idealistic notion, is in Jordan, east of the river. There the majority Palestinian population has the right to affirm their national rights against the alien-origin and minority-based Hashemite monarchy. Kings have fallen in modern Mid-eastern history, like Egypt and Iraq, and the collapse of the regime in Jordan would be part of a historical process. This would not be a national calamity and it would, rather, offer the Palestinians in Jordan and elsewhere the opportunity for statehood. The river should be the border and the two-state solution — Israel west of the river and Palestine east of the river – can be implemented in a strategically sound fashion.
FP: Dr. Mordechai Nisan, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.
In her Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Guns of August, Barbara Tuchman chronicled how a cascading series of seemingly minor developments led inexorably to World War I and the worst carnage known to man up to that time. In the future, historians may point to the present diplomacy of September as the catalysts for the next horrific conflict now in the offing in the Middle East, and potentially beyond.
I am thinking specifically of three agenda items slated to take place in the United Nations or on the margins of its meetings in coming days:
The first is a portentous move by the Palestinians with the strong backing of the 57-member bloc now known as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The idea is to secure international recognition of Palestinian statehood by, if possible, the UN Security Council and - failing that, in the event of a U.S. veto - by the General Assembly.
The true purpose of this gambit as the Wall Street Journal called it in an editorial on Monday could not be more invidious:
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas offered a hint of his real ambition when he wrote, in the New York Times in May, that ‘Palestine's admission to the United Nations would pave the way for the internationalization of the conflict as a legal matter, not only as a political one. It would also pave the way for us to pursue claims against Israel at the United Nations, human rights treaty bodies and the International Criminal Court.'
That means not the usual feckless resolutions at the U.N.'s Human Rights Council, but travel bans and international arrest warrants for Israeli soldiers involved in the ‘occupation' of a supposedly sovereign state. In other words, what Palestinians seek out of a U.N. vote isn't an affirmation of their right to a state, but rather another tool in their perpetual campaign to harass, delegitimize and ultimately destroy Israel.
Secondly, the UN will shortly be hosting the third in a series of gabfests aimed at furthering this campaign - the so-called "Durban III" Conference. It is absolutely predictable that, like its predecessors in Durban, South Africa in 2001 and in Geneva, Switzerland in 2009, this event will amount to an international anti-semitic and anti-Israel hate-fest. One clue: The stated purpose of Durban III is to memorialize Durban I, which was so toxic towards the Jewish State and its friends that then-Secretary of State Colin Powell directed the U.S. delegation to walk out.
The Durban trilogy serves to reinforce and legitimate the hostility towards Israel that will, when combined with the recognition - de facto if not dejure - of "Palestine" as a UN member state occupied by another member state, encourage military action to rectify this "injustice."
Third, it appears that meetings of OIC representatives with U.S. government officials - possibly including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton - will occur in conjunction with the UN's September follies. The purpose will be to try to "bridge" differences between the Organization of Islamic Cooperation's 10-year campaign to prohibit expression that offends Muslims and the First Amendment to the Constitution.
Now, it is unclear how shariah blasphemy law can be squared with freedom of speech. But, Mrs. Clinton seems to be pushing forward with the idea that, by focusing on the "consequences" of expression, one can find a basis for meeting the OIC's demands for prohibiting and criminalizing of what some call "Islamophobic hate speech."
Lest anyone think that shariah blasphemy laws cannot come to the United States even if Hillary Clinton wants them to, consider the case of Fred Grandy. Mr. Grandy, a former Member of Congress from Iowa and past president of the billion-dollar charity Goodwill Industries, was the host of the top-rated morning drive talk show in Washington, D.C. Until, that is, he ran afoul of shariah activists who were "offended" by the reporting about that doctrine that he and his wife, Catherine (a.k.a. "Mrs. Fred") provided each week.
Not content with denying Mr. Grandy gainful employment, proponents of shariah have enlisted the leadership of the Democratic Party in Maryland's legislature and Montgomery County to denounce publicly as a "divisive" figure and to object to him addressing a private meeting of Republicans in the Washington suburbs. Such conduct by people who have sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States is a scandal. It should be strenuously denounced by their fellow Democrats, as well as by Americans of every other stripe.The effect of the Clinton-OIC exercise, like the others at the UN this week, will be to reinforce the perception on the part of freedom's Islamist enemies that the Israel, the West and the United States are in retreat and in decline. By recognizing Palestine, excoriating Israel and restricting free expression will seen by such enemies for what they are: acts of submission. And, according to the threat doctrine they call shariah, its adherents are required in the face of submissive behavior to redouble their efforts to make, in the words of the Koran, the infidels "feel subdued."
When combined with the ascendancy throughout the Middle East and North Africa of Islamist organizations and regimes that make no secret of their determination to wipe Israel off the map, we stand at the precipice. Tragically, the weapons with which the next war will be fought - an avoidable war brought on by the Diplomacy of September - will make the lethal Guns of August seem like pop-guns by comparison.
Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. is President of the Center for Security Policy, a columnist for the Washington Times and host of the nationally syndicated program, Secure Freedom Radio, heard in Washington weeknights at 9:00 p.m. on WRC 1260 AM.Source: http://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/p18826.xml
The 2001 attacks on the United States have intensified the debate that has existed since the dawn of Islam: How is the West to respond to the followers of Muhammad? Some—most famously Bernard Lewis and Samuel Huntington—held that the contest is between two rather monolithic civilizations that are bound to clash. In a 2007 award acceptance speech at the American Enterprise Institute, Lewis described a history of clashes between Islam and the West. He stated that at first Muslims sought to spread their nascent faith through conquest throughout the then-Christian world; then the Christians invaded the Muslim world (the Crusaders); then the Muslims pushed back into Europe (the Golden Age of Islam); then the West retaliated by colonizing the Muslim world; and now the Muslims are again rising against Christendom by terrorism and flooding Europe with immigrants. Huntington argued that "Islam's borders are bloody, and so are its innards. The fundamental problem for the West is not Islamic fundamentalism. It is Islam, a different civilization whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture and are obsessed with the inferiority of their power." By contrast, President George W. Bush stated in the wake of the 9/11 attacks that "Islam is peace," while British prime minister Tony Blair argued that the problem was not Islam but "extremists trying to hijack it for political purposes."
While substantial majorities—82-99 percent of Muslims in all countries polled—would like to see constitutional guarantees for freedom of speech, such notions may exist more in the abstract than in the real world. When the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, published a series of cartoons of Muhammad in September 2005, it ignited a furor throughout the Muslim world, which eventually left dozens dead while cartoonists and their publishers received death threats.
Hence, to the extent that the West makes the rejection of violence its criteria as to who can be a reliable Muslim partner in building a new Middle East (and more generally a stable world order), it can readily find major Muslim texts in support of such a position. It can find highly influential Muslim authorities who strongly reject terrorism and the use of force more generally but do not and will not support a liberal form of government. These can be considered "illiberal moderates."
A key figure that fits this description is Iraq's Ayatollah Ali Sistani, who supports a state whose laws are fully compatible with Islam while calling for an end to sectarian "hatred and violence." It could be noted further that he does not believe an Islamic state to be incompatible with elections and various civil liberties. A similar figure is Sheikh Isa Qassem, an influential cleric among Bahrain's Shiite opposition, described in a cable released by WikiLeaks as the country's top religious leader. He has called for nonviolence and spoken out against sectarian conflict between Sunnis and Shiites. He has, however, simultaneously called for Shari'a (Islamic law) rule in Bahrain and endorsed Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamene'i.
Another possible, though problematic example is Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Widely regarded as one of the most influential Sunni leaders and the Muslim Brotherhood's spiritual leader, he increased his popularity through hosting an Al-Jazeera television show viewed by tens of millions of Muslims. His Friday sermon in Cairo's Tahrir Square on February 18, 2011, a few days after the fall of Egyptian president Husni Mubarak, was attended by hundreds of thousands of ecstatic Egyptians. He is highly illiberal, encouraging strict adherence to the Shari'a, favoring female genital mutilation and the death penalty for homosexuals. At the same time, Qaradawi condemned the 9/11 attacks as well as the March 11, 2004 Madrid and July 7, 2005 London bombings. He was even commended by the French foreign minister, Philippe Douste-Blazy, for helping to secure the release of French journalists in Iraq by vigorously condemning their abduction. Still, he is a highly imperfect example as he endorses terrorism when it comes to Israel and what he terms occupied Muslim territories, including support for attacks against Americans in Iraq.
Perhaps the most apt example comes from Indonesia where the country's largest Muslim organization, Nahdlatul Ulama, which claims tens of millions of followers, has denounced terrorism. Paul Wolfowitz described its former leader Abdurrahman Wahid, who also served as Indonesia's first democratically-elected president, as the "voice of moderate Islam." Another of its former leaders, Hasyim Muzadi, endorsed the country's pluralism and pledged to take a leading role in combating terrorism in Indonesia.
"Illiberal moderate" also pertains to several Islamist groups, associations, and political parties in the region, such as those parts of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Jordan that currently reject violence even as they seek to base governance on Shari'a law, as well as the newly formed Brotherhood-affiliated Freedom and Justice Party in Egypt. It also applies to Egypt's new party of Sufi Muslims that opposes secularism but also seeks peaceful coexistence along with the recently legalized Islamist al-Nahda Party in Tunisia, which has renounced violence and waffled on the issue of whether its goal is to impose Shari'a law. In Morocco, both the legal Party of Justice and Development and the illegal Justice and Spirituality Movement, qualify as nonviolent; however, they are also illiberal on several key issues.
One notes in passing that many of those Muslim public intellectuals and leaders whom Washington does fully embrace because they are liberals actually live in the West and have much less of a following in the Middle East than is sometimes implied.
What about the masses? Several public opinion polls indicate that in numerous Muslim countries, only minorities hold violent beliefs. A 2006 Gallup poll of Muslims in ten predominantly Muslim countries, representing more than 80 percent of the global Muslim population, found that only 7 percent could be deemed "politically radicalized," defined as those who both claimed the 9/11 attacks were justified and held unfavorable views of the United States. A 2010 Pew poll in seven largely Muslim countries—including the most populated ones in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa—found that most people did not approve of suicide bombing and other acts of violence against civilian targets. No more than 15 percent of the population in any country viewed these acts as often justified, and only in Lebanon and Nigeria did more than a third of those polled view them as at least sometimes justified. Moreover, eight in ten Muslims in Pakistan, more than three-quarters in Turkey, more than two-thirds in Indonesia, and a majority in Jordan held that such violent acts were never justified.
Also, there has been a steady decline of support for these violent acts when comparing the 2010 data to that from 2002. Double-digit declines in those agreeing that acts of violence were sometimes or often justified occurred in Jordan, Pakistan, Lebanon, Nigeria, and Indonesia. In addition, majorities in virtually all the countries rated al-Qaeda negatively, including more than nine in ten in Lebanon, and more than seven in ten in Turkey and Egypt. Only in Nigeria did almost half (49 percent) express positive views of al-Qaeda.
Although Saudi Arabia is the most prominent supporter of Wahhabism (an extreme interpretation of Islam) and the homeland of fifteen of the nineteen terrorists who attacked New York and the Pentagon on 9/11, a 2008 study by Terror Free Tomorrow found that less than one in ten Saudis had a favorable opinion of al-Qaeda, and almost nine in ten held that the Saudi military and police should pursue its fighters. Only 13 percent said suicide bombing was sometimes or often justified.
There are exceptions to these nonviolent majorities. Support for suicide attacks on U.S. forces and its allies in Iraq was higher than that for other violent acts. Another exception pertains to groups that target Israel. Nonetheless, even in these cases, majorities in most countries were against violence.
While the Pew poll data show clearly that the vast majority of Muslims reject violence, support for democracy and human rights is much more complicated. It often seems that there is a considerable difference between what is favored in the abstract and what concrete measures are supported. This ought to be familiar to Americans though in a rather different context. Most Americans abstractly favor cutting the size of the government but oppose most, if not all, actual cuts in spending. Most are said to be philosophically conservative but operationally liberal. Similarly, many Muslims seem to favor human rights and democracy abstractly but oppose many specific rights especially when they conflict with Shari'a, tradition, and local culture. They also seek increased influence of religion and religious authorities in their public and political lives, a long way from separating religion and state.
Substantial majorities—82-99 percent of Muslims in all countries polled—said that if they were drafting a new constitution for their country, they would guarantee freedom of speech, defined as "allowing all citizens to express their opinions on political, social, and economic issues of the day." (Note that religious freedom is not included.) The 2007 Pew poll found that majorities in all Muslim countries held that courts should treat all equally; and majorities in most of the countries held that people should be free to criticize the government; the media should be free from censorship, and honest multiparty elections should be undertaken in their country.
At the same time, more than three-quarters of Egyptians and Pakistanis, a majority of Nigerians and Jordanians, and a sizable minority of Indonesians favored stoning adulterers, the death penalty for those who denounce the Islamic faith, and whipping or cutting off the hands of those who commit theft or robbery—all illiberal punishments based on a fundamentalist interpretation of Shari'a.
These positions were highlighted by the furor that spread throughout the Muslim world when the fatwa calling for killing the author of The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie, was issued in February 1989; when a Danish newspaper published a cartoon of Muhammad in September 2005; and when death threats emerged against Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a former member of the Dutch parliament who renounced her Islamic faith and whose writings are critical of the religion. They are further illuminated by the call for the killing of any Muslim who converts to another religion or renounces the faith.
Illiberalism is particularly evident in all matters concerning gender and sexuality. The Gallup poll found that when asked what they least admire about the West, frequent replies by Muslims concerned personal freedoms involving sexuality, promiscuity, and gender mores. A plurality of Muslims in Jordan and Nigeria, and a majority in Egypt (54 percent) and Pakistan (85 percent), said they favored making gender segregation in the workplace the law in their country. The 2007 Pew study found that in most of the predominantly Muslim countries in Asia and the Middle East, only minorities said a woman alone should have the right to choose her own husband. Additionally, substantial majorities in all of those countries said that society should reject homosexuality.
In a 2007 Pew poll, majorities in the five predominantly Muslim Middle Eastern countries surveyed said they preferred democracy to a strong leader (the Palestinian territories were the outlier). In the 2010 Pew poll, majorities in six of seven countries polled said that democracy was always preferable to any other kind of government. Pakistan was the outlier, but a plurality (41 percent) agreed with the statement.
At the same time, vast majorities see Islam's political influence as positive, according to the 2010 Pew data, including more than nine in ten in Indonesia; more than three-quarters in Egypt, Nigeria, and Jordan; more than two-thirds in Pakistan; a majority in Lebanon, and a plurality in Turkey. Less than a third in Lebanon and Turkey, and only 2-14 percent in the five other surveyed countries held a negative view of Islam's role in politics. In the 2006 Gallup poll, majorities in eight of nine countries in which the question was asked said that the Shari'a should be at least a source of legislation in their country, and majorities in four said that it should be the only source (Turkey was the sole outlier). In a 2003 Pew poll, majorities in almost all of the predominantly Muslim countries polled held that religious leaders should play a larger role in politics, including more than nine in ten in Nigeria, and more than seven in ten in Jordan, Bangladesh, and Lebanon. Uzbekistan and Turkey were the outliers, though a sizable minority in both countries (40 percent) favored an even greater role for mullahs.
The combination of support for both democracy and Islam is evident in a March/April 2011 poll of Egyptians. In this poll, 71 percent held that democracy was always preferable to any other kind of government. At the same time, almost nine in ten said they wanted law to be based on Islam with 62 percent saying law should strictly follow the Qur'an.
In short, whether one focuses on leading Muslim texts, religious authorities, public intellectuals, leaders, or voters, one can find many more reliable partners in peace than partners in building liberal, democratic regimes. Another way to look at the same data is to view the illiberal moderates as the global swing vote. Those who favor liberal democracies are likely to support the United States in the first place. Those who hold violent Islamist beliefs are unlikely to line up with the U.S. agenda. Illiberal moderates are those who might be the West's allies, however, only as long as they do not have to give up their illiberal beliefs. Hence, Washington would do well to ally itself with all those who refrain from the use of force and let them develop the kind of regimes their people support. Washington could continue to promote greater democracy and liberalism abroad through nonprofit organizations, broadcasts, cultural exchanges, and other persuasive means. However, it should not make acceptance of these principles a condition for diplomatic, economic, political support for either those in power or those challenging the power-holders.
Indeed, the very question of what makes a "good" Muslim is faulty because it leads to the quest for Muslims who are like the citizens of Western nations. The West should first and foremost look for peaceful Muslims, whatever their other persuasions. Pluralism abroad, like at home, means learning to live with people who have different values, some who harbor strong religious beliefs (like the U.S. Christian Right), some who have political opinions that lean heavily to one extreme of the political spectrum (like the Tea Party and what remains of the radical Left), and so on, as long as they are committed to resolving differences in a nonviolent manner. One can aspire to win them over to what one considers the "good" regime; however, this is a second-stage goal. The Middle East is at best moving to stage one: to limit conflicts to the ballot box and political negotiation and away from massively oppressive and violent confrontations and upheavals.
The uprisings that roiled the Middle East as of the beginning of 2011 brought new intensity and concern to the question raised by the 2001 attacks on the United States, a question the West has faced for decades: Should it ally itself only with liberal, democratic, in effect secular groups and regimes? Should it also support illiberal but moderate ones? And what ought to be its position vis-à-vis the remaining Muslim autocracies?
The Libyan Lesson. As the U.S. military joined the fighting in Libya, a number of analysts indicated reluctance to interfere on the basis that officials did not know who the rebels were. In looking for an answer, two rather different criteria were employed and often conflated. One was whether the rebels belonged to the same Libyan groups that sent a disproportionately large number of foreign fighters to battle U.S. forces in Iraq and were members or supporters of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, a militant organization that was suspected of having an "increasingly cooperative relationship" with al-Qaeda. The second was whether these were forces likely to support democracy and human rights in a post-Qaddafi Libya. Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, among others, correctly complained about the lack of clarity regarding how the Obama administration viewed the rebels: "At times, his team seems to equate the rebels with democrats, then retreats to calling them protesters and revolutionaries."
The intervention was initially justified as an attempt to stop massive violence, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton relied on that criterion to justify the ousting of Qaddafi: "When a leader's only means of staying in power is to use mass violence against his own people, he has lost the legitimacy to rule," she stated. "The Libyan people deserve a government that is responsive to their aspirations and that protects their universally recognized human rights."
Before long the goal of saving civilians from Qaddafi's attacks morphed into an outright demand for regime change. Qaddafi's calls for a ceasefire and negotiations were rejected, and Washington increasingly made the demand that he and his family give up their rule as a condition for ending hostilities; military strikes even targeted command-and-control posts in which Qaddafi might have been found, killing his son and three of his grandchildren in one such attack. This is especially pertinent because the quest for regime change may have extended the hostilities and the casualties on both sides. Moreover, given that the differences between the rebels and Qaddafi's supporters reflect strong and long-standing tribal rivalries, it is rather unlikely that the overthrow of the regime will lead to a peaceful, stable, let alone liberal, democratic government.
It follows that the preferred course of action would have been to end the NATO armed intervention once Qaddafi indicated his willingness to stop military action against the rebels (as long as he lived up to this commitment) and to allow the two sides to work out the course for the future of Libya. The same applies to many other rising groups and standing regimes in the Middle East.
A Nonviolent, Pluralistic Middle East. The lesson of Libya can be generalized to serve as the basis for an approach for transforming the Middle East. For both prudential and normative reasons, the West should not make a commitment to shifting to a liberal, democratic government its litmus test for deciding to support either autocrats or new, rising political groups. Instead, it should persuade, cajole, and pressure both to refrain from resorting to violence, but otherwise let each nation develop its own form of government. This means that the autocrats will be strongly encouraged (mainly, privately) to negotiate with new claimants rather than gunning them down—and that Washington will work with all new political groups that refrain from violence, such as those that ended the authoritarian governments in Tunisia and Egypt. These may include groups that favor a religious regime, such as moderate parts of the Muslim Brotherhood, or some kind of a moderate monarchy (say in Morocco, Jordan, Oman, Kuwait, or Qatar), or a civilian-military joint rule, as existed in South Korea, Chile, Turkey, and Indonesia before they became more democratic.
Washington and its allies can surely continue to welcome nations that liberalize their governments, introduce parliamentary democracies, and respect human rights. However, they should neither demand nor expect such a transformation, instead making abstention from violence the first litmus test as to who can qualify as a partner in the Middle East. That is, Washington would favor what might be called a nonviolent pluralism for the region (and for each country), in which it supports and cooperates with a variety of regimes and new political groups as long as they vie with each other within the rules of nonviolent engagement.
One major merit of the nonviolent pluralism doctrine is that it can be consistently applied to all regimes in the Middle East by providing a clear principle for identifying those groups that meet the elementary condition for partnering with Washington in the changing region. This cannot be said of ad hoc U.S. policy on the matter, which is tailor-made to each case. Throughout the Cold War, Washington positioned itself as the champion of freedom yet supported military dictatorships in South America, Asia, and elsewhere. During the recent uprisings in the Middle East, the U.S. administration fought to oust Qaddafi, urged Mubarak to step down in Egypt, and cheered the departure of Ben Ali in Tunisia while making few, delayed, and muted pleas for Saleh to step down in Yemen, waffling on Syria and the Green Movement in Iran, and in effect, supporting the autocrats of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Even as Bahrain was violently suppressing protests, and just before Riyadh sent its troops to help, Secretary Clinton commended King Hamad for engaging in "meaningful outreach and efforts to try to bring about the change that will be in line with the needs of the people."
U.S. leaders tried to explain away these gross inconsistencies. Most notably, Clinton, in a speech asserting Washington's commitment to "sustained democracies" in the region, argued that diverse approaches were called for given such a "fluid" situation and that "a one-size-fits-all approach doesn't make sense." Moreover, President Barack Obama, in his speech at the National Defense University justifying the Libyan intervention, took pains to emphasize that it was geared only to saving civilians rather than representing a broader doctrine.
These arguments, however, do little to persuade critics abroad and at home, for good reason. Nations provide rationales for their policies, interventions overseas included, because acting legitimately—that is, in line with established values and norms—helps them to advance their goals. True, as Obama stated in his speech on Libya, "I have made it clear that I will never hesitate to use our military swiftly, decisively, and unilaterally when necessary to defend our people, our homeland, our allies, and our core interests"—implicitly disregarding whether or not other people consider the act legitimate. However, Washington—like other governments—seeks most times to justify its actions in terms that speak both to the American people and the citizens of others nations. Indeed, in an age of mass communication, higher levels of education, increased attention to public affairs, and growing involvement of the masses in politics, what various people consider normatively appropriate has real consequences.
Legitimacy, in turn, thrives on consistency. Both laws and norms are expected to apply equally to one and all, without exceptions for one's allies or friends. It is on this test that current policy fails so often, in very visible ways, which evoke the ire of U.S. critics, embarrass its friends, and provide a propaganda windfall to its adversaries. The claim that Washington is hypocritical when it lectures Russia and China about human rights and then provides equipment and training to the police and secret services of Saudi Arabia and Mubarak's Egypt—and previously to the dictators of Argentina, Chile, and Indonesia, among others—is one of the numerous observations that show that inconsistent liberalism is harming the U.S. cause.
Washington can consistently employ military forces to stop genocides but not to change regimes; morally and financially support peaceful uprisings but not groups that use terror to advance their agenda. Consistency does not require relying only on one criterion. As President Obama correctly pointed out, if U.S. vital interests are directly affected—say, a foreign power is blocking the shipment of oil through the Strait of Hormuz—Washington will act based on interest considerations and not necessarily on what other nations consider the right foreign policy. However, at the end of the day, under most conditions, a government does best if it can follow clearly-stated principles that are endorsed by others in the international community.
At this point, one might ask: Why not follow a policy of consistent liberalism, as advocated by numerous human rights nongovernmental organizations and analysts at respected think tanks? One reason is that Washington is much more likely to be on the side of whoever leads the change movements and the future regimes in the region if it does not limit its support only to liberal, democratic groups—which are often the weakest of the new claimants because they tend to fare less well under autocratic regimes than more radical groups—and if it supports all who refrain from the use of force. Another reason is that Islamist groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, have developed a grassroots following through networks of charitable works and social services.
Several observers have referred to the 2011 wave of Middle Eastern uprisings as an "Arab Spring," a metaphor that should not be taken too seriously; one notes that springs in the Middle East are short and followed by long hot summers and then—the fall. Joe Nocera of The New York Times argues that the "Arab Spring" proves that millions of Muslims yearn for "freedom and democracy," and Secretary Clinton finds "a time of great movements toward freedom and democracy, at a time when the people across the Middle East and North Africa are rejecting the extremist narratives and charting a path of peaceful progress based on universal rights and aspirations."
Actually, uprisings against a regime are often driven by tribal loyalties, religious or ideological stirrings, or merely by people who seek to throw off the yoke of oppression or to achieve economic betterment. Even when those involved mouth democratic slogans, tearing down a regime cannot be equated with building one, let alone a democratic one. If one stops looking at the shouting masses on television through romantic lenses, one often sees the mobs that greatly worried the Founding Fathers. They can pave the way—but who knows to where?
Indeed, one of the few predictions one can make with a considerable degree of assurance about the developments in the Middle East in the foreseeable future is that there will not be a grand transition from autocracies to shining, liberal democracies or even dimly lit ones. Instead, there are likely to be numerous and different kinds of upheavals and attempts to form new regimes that will fail, leading to still new attempts. Even if relatively democratic or moderate groups take control after a revolution, they may lose out to more radical ones over time. This is what happened after the French and Russian revolutions.
Also, a nonviolent pluralism approach will prevent Washington from becoming involved in still more wars in the Muslim world, which support for liberal democratic forces would call for, and has a much lower risk of jeopardizing relations with the more benevolent authoritarian regimes and essential allies. The autocrats surely would rather face a U.S. administration that urges them not to turn their guns on the new claimants and holds that peaceful give-and-take is in their mutual interests than face demands that they must transform their regimes or wonder if they will be next on the list of heads of state that Washington argues must leave to make room for change.
Two clarifications are called for at this point. First, it is arguable that all the Middle East's authoritarian regimes use some level of coercion against their own people, and that amongst those rising against their governments there are often violent elements. However, there is a world of difference between those who arrest a few protesters and even kill a few—and those who bomb cities, kill hundreds if not thousands, or rape and torture to crush an uprising. The harsh realities of social life, even in Western countries, have entailed occasional bursts of violence, for instance the shooting of students at Kent State University by the Ohio National Guard and periodic violent riots in Paris and recently in Greece. But it is best to tolerate violence in only very limited and rare situations.
Second, the nonviolent pluralism approach does not deny Washington the right to raise its moral voice to encourage greater liberalism and democracy in various countries. The U.S. administration can continue to laud democratic ideals in other countries through Voice of America broadcasts and to promote them in student and other cultural exchanges. Nor does it suggest that Washington should refrain from funding a host of organizations that promote these causes, such as Freedom House and the National Endowment for Democracy. However, encouraging peaceful evolution within countries is profoundly different from forced regime change.
One might ask how this approach differs from the position Washington took when urging Yemen and Bahrain to "show restraint" and "pursue peaceful and meaningful dialogue with the opposition rather than resorting to the use of force"; when President Obama said of Syria's crackdowns, "This outrageous use of violence to quell protests must come to an end now"; and Secretary Clinton urged the Syrian government to "stop the arbitrary arrest, detention, and torture of prisoners." Indeed, Obama articulated this position exceptionally well in his January 2009 inaugural speech that was introduced as his major opening to the Muslim world. He stated, "To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist."
However, this position has been applied inconsistently, which undermines its legitimacy as has been evident in the different treatments of Qaddafi's Libya, on the one hand, of Syria, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia, on the other, and of Egypt, as well as in sporadic demands to usher in liberal democratic regimes by Obama and especially Clinton. Thus, for example, the secretary of state stated in a June 2011 speech to the African Union: "[The Middle Eastern upheavals'] message is clear to us all: The status quo is broken; the old ways of governing are no longer acceptable; it is time for leaders to lead with accountability, treat their people with dignity, respect their rights, and deliver economic opportunity. And if they will not, then it is time for them to go."
Aside from various pragmatic reasons to make nonviolence the first litmus test for U.S. policy toward Middle Eastern regimes, there are several strong normative reasons to favor the same basic position. The right to be free from violence—from being killed, maimed, or tortured—in short, the right of life, has a special standing because all other rights, from free speech to religious freedoms, are conditioned on it, but it, in turn, is not conditioned on these rights being observed. (Dead people lose their other rights while those who live may fight for and see the day their other rights will be realized.) The special normative standing of the right of life is further revealed insofar as the criminal codes of numerous nations place a higher penalty on taking a life than on violating other rights.
For all these reasons, if Washington limits its approval and support to the Middle East's liberal, democratic groups, it will often be left out in the cold. U.S. interests and those of people of the region are better served if Washington does not merely tolerate a variety of groups and rulers but also holds that although it hopes in the longer run they all will find their way to a liberal life, for now, moving away from oppression at home, ceasing support for terrorism, halting the building of weapons of mass destruction, and ceasing to threaten other nations and peoples—all matters concerning the use of force—suffices for becoming a reliable ally.
Indeed, Washington may be moving in this direction. On June 30, 2011, Secretary of State Clinton announced that the Obama administration will resume limited contact with the Muslim Brotherhood, allowing U.S. officials to deal directly with members of the Islamist group. The previous policy restricted contact to Brotherhood members in parliament on matters of state business. Now that the group looks to be a major force in the upcoming elections, Clinton told reporters, it is in U.S interests to engage with the nonviolent organization—while emphasizing "the importance of and support for democratic principles. … We believe, given the changing political landscape in Egypt, that it is in the interests of the United States to engage with all parties that are peaceful, and committed to nonviolence, that intend to compete for the parliament and the presidency."
A critic may argue that rather than engaging radical, Islamist groups, notably the Muslim Brotherhood, the West should endeavor to restrict and, if possible, exclude them from the political arena for the simple reason that their values and goals are mutually exclusive to ours. These groups seek nothing short of world domination, regardless of whether they are presently using "peaceable" means for tactical reasons.
However, even if it turns out that the Muslim Brotherhood and its like must be spurned, for this author, the basic question remains: Do we assume a priori that all Islamist groups, however moderate, say, in Morocco and Indonesia, are suspect on the face of it, or can we cooperate with some of them? And if the answer is in the affirmative, how should we determine which qualify?
 Bernard Lewis, "Europe and Islam," The American Enterprise Institute, Washington, D.C., Mar. 7, 2007.
 Samuel Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations: The Remaking of World Order (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1998).
 "'Islam Is Peace,' Says President," The White House, Washington D.C., Sept. 17, 2001.
 The Telegraph (London), Nov. 2, 2001.
 Qur. 9:5.
 Hadith, Sahih Muslim 1.9.30.
 Qur. 2:256.
 Qur. 10:99-100.
 BBC News, July 20, 2006.
 Sharon Otterman, "Iraq: Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani," Council on Foreign Relations, Washington, D.C., Sept. 1, 2004.
 The Telegraph, July 8, 2008.
 Barry Rubin, "Top Bahrain Opposition Cleric: We Want Sharia Law State," The Rubin Report, Mar. 9, 2011.
 Jacques Neriah, "Could the Kingdom of Bahrain Become an Iranian Pearl Harbor?" The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Feb. 20, 2011.
 "Portrait of Sheikh Dr. Yusuf Abdallah al-Qaradawi, senior Sunni Muslim cleric, affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood," The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, Ramat Hasharon, Feb. 27, 2011.
 George Readings, "Female genital mutilation cannot be defended as part of Islam," The Guardian (London), Oct. 15, 2010.
 "The Qaradawi Fatwas," The Middle East Quarterly, Summer 2004, pp. 78-80.
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 The Guardian, Sept. 25, 2009.
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 "Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi: Theologian of Terror," The Anti-Defamation League, Washington, D.C. Mar. 15, 2011.
 The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 6, 2010.
 The Jakarta Post, Mar. 15, 2010.
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 Rajaa Basly, "The Future of al-Nahda in Tunisia," Arab Reform Bulletin, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, D.C., Apr. 20, 2011.
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 Dalia Mogahed, "Islam and Democracy," The Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 2006. For data that run in a different direction and critiques, see Daniel Pipes, "How Many Islamists?" www.DanielPipes.org, Dec. 28, 2010.
 "Muslim Publics Divided on Hamas and Hezbollah," Pew Research Center, Global Attitudes Project, Washington, D.C., Dec. 2, 2010.
 "Saudi Arabians Overwhelmingly Reject Bin Laden, Al Qaeda, Saudi Fighters in Iraq, and Terrorism; Also among Most Pro-American in Muslim World," Terror Free Tomorrow, Center for Public Opinion, Washington, D.C., 2008, accessed June 22, 2011.
 "Islamic Extremism: Common Concern for Muslim and Western Publics," Pew Global Attitudes Survey, Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C., July 4, 2005.
 "Muslim Publics Divided on Hamas and Hezbollah," Dec. 2, 2010.
 Mogahed, "Islam and Democracy."
 "World Publics Welcome Global Trade—But Not Immigration," Pew Research Center, Global Attitudes Project, Washington, D.C., Oct. 4, 2007.
 "Muslim Publics Divided on Hamas and Hezbollah," Dec. 2, 2010.
 See "Ayaan Hirsi Ali: I Will Continue to Ask Uncomfortable Questions," Middle East Quarterly, Fall 2006, pp. 67-70.
 "Muslim Publics Divided on Hamas and Hezbollah," Dec. 2, 2010.
 "World Publics Welcome Global Trade—But Not Immigration," Oct. 4, 2007.
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 "Egyptians Embrace Revolt Leaders, Religious Parties, and Military, As Well," Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C., Apr. 25, 2011.
 The Daily Beast, Mar. 8, 2011.
 USA Today, Feb. 27, 2011.
 The Washington Post, Apr. 20, 2011.
 See Howard LaFranchi, "Why Obama isn't pushing for Yemen president to go: Al Qaeda," The Christian Science Monitor (Boston), Mar. 22, 2011.
 "Secretary Clinton on Libya," Andrews Air Force Base, U.S. Department of State, Feb. 27, 2011.
 "Secretary Clinton's Remarks at the U.S. Islamic World Forum," Washington, D.C., Apr. 12, 2011.
 "Remarks by the President in Address to the Nation on Libya," The White House, Mar. 28, 2011.
 Joe Nocera, "Four Questions He Leaves Behind," The New York Times, May 3, 2011.
 NPR News, May 3, 2011.
 "Statement from the press secretary on violence in Yemen and Bahrain," The White House, Mar. 13, 2011.
 "Statement by the President on Syria," The White House, Apr. 22, 2011.
 Reuters, Apr. 20, 2011.
 "Secretary Clinton Remarks at African Union," Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, U.S. Department of State, June 13, 2011.
 Reuters, June 30, 2011.