Saturday, October 8, 2011

Hatred Is Their Identity - A Sober Editorial from Pat Condell:

by Pat Condell

Pat Condell


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

Abbas Could Be Next Domino to Fall

by IPT News

Since his United Nations speech last month demanding Palestinian statehood, Western media accounts have highlighted the hero's welcome received by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas when he returned to the West Bank.

Often overlooked in press coverage of the issue is the problem of corruption in Abbas' PA, including allegations of nepotism, possible theft of U.S. aid dollars, and a scheme that allows Hamas officials in Gaza to illicitly pocket money from electricity ratepayers. Not to mention the fact that two U.S. government agencies are helping support a Palestinian investment fund controlled in part by that terrorist organization.

At a rally in Ramallah several days after the U.N. ploy, Abbas (whose PA receives close to $600 million a year in U.S. aid) sought to link his demand for recognition of a unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) with those of the "Arab Spring" — the wave of revolutions this year against autocratic regimes in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria and Yemen.

"We have told the world that there is the Arab Spring, but the Palestinian Spring is here," Abbas declared. "A popular spring, a populist spring, a spring of peaceful struggle that will reach its goal."

The analogy can be charitably described as far-fetched. In countries like Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, the public complained bitterly about corrupt, despotic governments that rewarded political cronies and family members and disregarded the concerns of most of their citizens.

Far from addressing the grievances of the Palestinian "street," Abbas seems to embody the very kind of leader that Arabs from Tunisia to Yemen are trying to overthrow. "The 'Arab Spring' is the result of allowing corrupt autocrats to remain in power," said Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Washington has sought to prop up leaders like Abbas and deposed Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak in order to maintain "stability," he said, because the alternatives (radical Islamist groups like Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and radical Salafists) were considered much worse.

But during the past year, that stability has proven to be an illusion, with U.S.-backed autocrats being toppled in Tunisia and Egypt, and another, Yemeni strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh, facing the prospect of civil war as he clings to power.

Washington finds itself caught in the middle, trying to facilitate peaceful transitions toward democracy without empowering radical Islamists.

Absent dramatic changes, Abbas (whom Schanzer characterizes as "a mini-Mubarak" in his leadership style) could become the next domino to fall in the region. One indication of his weakness was the rally noted above in Ramallah, where the PA sought to mobilize 1 million people in the streets to welcome Abbas. But Palestinian media reports indicate that just 18,000 showed up, many of them local schoolchildren bused in for "a Middle East rent-a-rally," Schanzer said.

Many Palestinians he met during a visit to Ramallah last month are frustrated by corruption in the Palestinian Authority and believe that popular anger over Abbas' failure to act against it could bring down his government.

In 2007, Hamas staged a coup in Gaza that toppled the Fatah regime there in four days. Palestinian businessmen and former government officials have privately expressed concern that the terrorist group could seize power in the West Bank as well.

In April, Abbas, seeking to protect himself against this possibility, signed a Palestinian unity accord with Hamas. He signed a similar unity deal with Hamas in February 2007 – just four months before the Hamas coup toppled his government in Gaza.

"There is a lot of frustration over corrupt government practices" in the PA, Schanzer told the IPT. If West Bank Palestinians conclude that a unilateral declaration of independence by Abbas has not resulted in fundamental reforms, "then an intrafada scenario (a revolt against Abbas' leadership) could occur in the street."

For Abbas, the Palestinian independence issue serves to divert attention from a festering corruption problem that could potentially destabilize his government and bring radical Islamists to power. But his anti-Israel brinksmanship masks some critical weaknesses including his economic and security dependence on the Jewish state.

Palestinian officials and business leaders told Schanzer last month that, were Israel to withdraw its military and economic backing for Abbas, his government would collapse in three months. Tax revenues collected by Israel and transferred to the Palestinian Authority comprise almost half 50 percent of the PA budget.

Similar sentiments were expressed by Jerusalem Post correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh. "Were it not for Israel's presence in the West Bank and its massive crackdown on Hamas there, it's likely that the Islamist movement would have taken over the West Bank a long time ago," he told the IPT in an e-mail. "That assessment is shared even by senior Fatah leaders."

One former member of Abbas' inner circle who went public with these concerns is Fahmi Shabaneh, a member of the PA leader's inner circle until late 2009. Shabaneh, who was forced to quit his job as anti-corruption chief in the PA's General Intelligence Service after exposing a sex scandal involving one of Abbas' top aides, stated last year that the PA boss has surrounded himself with many of the same corrupt officials who had worked for his predecessor Yasser Arafat.

In an interview with the Jerusalem Post, Shabaneh predicted that Hamas will one day take control of the West Bank as it did in Gaza. "Had it not been for the presence of the Israeli authorities in the West Bank, Hamas would have done what they did in the Gaza Strip," he said. "It's hard to find people in the West Bank who support the Palestinian Authority. People are fed up with the financial corruption and mismanagement."

Fatah personnel stole much of a $3.2 million donation from the United States to the group before the 2006 PA elections won by Hamas, Shabaneh said. The money was supposed to be used to bolster Fatah's image and improve its chances of winning the election.

After going public with his allegations, PA security officials raided his home in Jericho, ransacking the house and confiscating many of his personal items. Shortly afterward, Shabaneh dropped out of sight. Today, he lives outside of PA jurisdiction in Jerusalem.

After his death in 2004, the world learned that Arafat had looted upwards of $1 billion to enrich his cronies. For a time after, there was a measure of financial accountability under PA Finance Minister Salam Fayyad. But more recently, Abbas moved to marginalize Fayyad, who is now serving as PA prime minister, by taking away his oversight responsibilities. Today, Fayyad "is a glorified accountant. He has no power, no oversight," Schanzer told the IPT.

One example is the Palestine Investment Fund (PIF), founded in 2002 to manage PA commercial and financial interests. After Fayyad achieved some early success in "bringing hundreds of millions in commercial assets in the Palestinian budget into the light of day," Schanzer told the House Foreign Affairs Committee Sept. 14, "Abbas changed the charter, installed his own choices for board members, placed the PIF under his full control, and neglected to have PIF audited by outsiders. Today, Prime Minister Fayyad has zero oversight of the PIF, despite his celebrated mandate for transparency."

More recently, Mohammed Dahlan, a former top PA security official, charged that $1.3 billion has disappeared from the PIF. Dahlan has been a target of corruption allegations from Abbas supporters.

"You have a system created by Arafat. It's corrupt to its core. Some have been forced out, so the old corrupt people are alleging corruption from the new people," Schanzer said.

There are also questions about the extraordinary wealth accumulated by Mahmoud Abbas' sons, Yasser and Tarek.

Yasser Abbas owns Falcon Tobacco, which has a monopoly in the West Bank and Gaza over the marketing of popular U.S.-made cigarette brands, including Kent and Lucky, gaining him millions of dollars. He owns two other companies which received more than $2 million from USAID in recent years. Falcon Electro Mechanical Company got $1.89 million from USAID to build a sewage system in the West Bank town of Hebron. His other firm, First Option Project Construction Management Company, received $300,000 from USAID.

Tarek Abbas, Yasser's younger brother, is general manager of Sky Advertising, recipient of hundreds of thousands of dollars in USAID funding to improve public opinion of the United States in PA-controlled territories. Tarek's ad agency won a contract from Wataniya, a cell phone company where Yasser Abbas sat on the board. The firm was created with funds from the United States and other international donors.

A former Palestinian Authority official estimated the total value of the property owned by Mahmoud Abbas and his sons at $10 million, Schanzer told the House Foreign Affairs Committee last month.

Despite the PA's bitter rivalry with Hamas, Abbas and the PA have "secretly allowed the jihadist group to raise funds through an electricity scam," according to Schanzer. In Gaza, electricity is produced by a power plant guaranteed by Abbas' Ramallah-based PA.

Another former PA official told Schanzer that Hamas, which is responsible for collecting money from ratepayers, is supposed to forward the funds to the Palestinian Authority but has not done so. This breach means that U.S. taxpayers who subsidize Abbas' PA are in effect financing Hamas in violation of U.S. law.

The PA government in Ramallah "is not elected. The legislature doesn't meet," Schanzer said. "It has no legitimacy now." Instead of treating Abbas as an ally, he said that Washington should work to "isolate" the PA chairman. The United States needs to conduct a full audit of the PIF; investigate the Hamas-controlled electric power plant in Gaza; take a close look at the PA leader's office budget; and carefully examine the business holdings of his sons, Schanzer said.

IPT News (The Investigative Project on Terrorism)


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

Justice for Jonathan Pollard

by Caroline Glick

Don Corleone and Fredo.jpg
Next month, convicted Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard will begin his 27th year in prison, and the Obama administration is displaying stunning insensitivity to what this means for the American Jewish community.

Pollard was arrested in 1985 for transferring classified documents to Israel during his service at US Naval Intelligence. In 1987, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for his crime.

Pollard's sentence contradicted his plea bargain agreement. It was based, among other things, on an impact assessment report of his crimes that was authored by CIA officer Aldrich Ames. At the time of Pollard's arrest, Ames had been spying for the Soviet Union for two years.

Ames was arrested for espionage in 1994. He was responsible for the deaths of at least 10 agents working for US intelligence in the USSR.

Ames reportedly blamed Pollard for some of the agent deaths caused by his own espionage.

Pollard's life sentence was grossly disproportionate to the sentences routinely given to offenders who transfer classified information to US-allied governments. The median sentence for such crimes is two years in prison.

Until last year, there was a longstanding consensus in the US political and intelligence communities opposed to granting clemency to Pollard.

This consensus evaporated last year. In late 2010, US President Barack Obama received letters recommending commutation of Pollard's sentence to time served from former CIA director R. James Woolsey, and from retired senator Dennis DeConcini, who served as the chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence at the time of Pollard's arrest and sentencing.

Obama received similar letters from former secretaries of state George Schultz and Henry Kissinger. He received requests for commutation from Sen. John McCain and former attorney-general Michael Mukasey.

Lawrence Korb, who served as assistant defense secretary under Caspar Weinberger, has spearheaded the effort to release Pollard. Korb has stated categorically that Pollard's harsh sentence was the result of Weinberger's antipathy for Jews.

Other US luminaries who have called for Obama to grant Pollard clemency include former congressman and presidential adviser Lee Hamilton, former senator and presidential adviser Alan Simpson, Harvard law professor and Obama mentor Charles Ogletree, US Appellate Court Judge Stephen Williams and former deputy attorney- general Phillip Heymann. Scores of congressmen, several senators and more than 500 clergymen have called for Pollard's release from prison.

Answering public entreaties from Korb and Pollard's wife, Esther, in early January, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu became the first Israeli leader to issue a formal, public appeal for clemency for Pollard. Netanyahu read the text of his appeal to Obama from the Knesset podium and submitted it to the White House on January 4.

One of the main reasons for the urgency of the current appeal is Pollard's failing health. Aside from that, the basic arguments given by his advocates are the disproportionate length of Pollard's sentence; his deep, repeatedly stated remorse for his actions; his exemplary behavior in prison; and the fact that deterrence has been achieved.

OBAMA HAS failed to respond to Israel's formal request for clemency.

He has been silent in the face of lesser requests as well. When Pollard's father, Morris, was on his deathbed in June, Obama did not respond to formal requests to permit Pollard to visit him in the hospital. He similarly failed to respond to formal requests for Pollard to attend his father's funeral.

Obama's cold silence was broken last week by his agent Vice President Joseph Biden. According to the New York Jewish Week, in a meeting with 15 rabbis in South Florida on September 23, Biden provided an unsolicited monologue about Pollard's case. Repeatedly referring to Pollard as a "traitor," Biden said, "It would take the Third Coming before I would support letting Pollard out."

According to The New York Times, in making the statement, Biden, who is considered a friend of the US Jewish community and of Israel, served as Obama's fall guy. Biden's job was to deflect criticism of Obama's unstated decision not to release Pollard away from the president.

In the event, Obama's decision to send Biden out to reject calls for Pollard's release backfired.

Rather than killing the issue, Biden's unbridled assault on Pollard caused the US Jewish leadership to unify around Pollard and call for his release. As Anti-Defamation League National Director Abe Foxman told Channel 2 on Wednesday, Jewish leaders had never discussed Pollard's case publicly, but after Biden went public, they decided that they must follow suit. The leaders of the Reform, Conservative and Orthodox movements were all quoted by Jewish Week calling for Pollard's release.

Their calls came just before Biden's previously scheduled Rosh Hashana reception for Jewish leaders. So at the party on Wednesday, Biden was beset by leaders asking him to reconsider his position and recommend clemency for Pollard. In response, Biden agreed to meet with a small group of Jewish leaders in the near future to discuss Pollard's case.

Biden's assault on Pollard was strange for two main reasons. First, it was bad politics. Obama reportedly tasked Biden with rebuilding Jewish support for the administration. That support has frayed in the face of Obama's harsh treatment of Israel.

It is odd that in the context of Biden's outreach attempts, he chose to express a hostile position on Pollard that couldn't help but raise the hackles of the very community he was dispatched to woo. Rather than bringing the US Jewish community closer to the administration, Biden accomplished the astounding feat of unifying the fractured community in opposition to his position.

The second reason that Biden's anti-Pollard harangue made no sense is because it flew in the face of the claim that Obama has turned over a new leaf on Israel. Obama's supporters have argued that his speech at the General Assembly last month where he opposed the PLO's efforts to gain UN membership as a sovereign state was a watershed event for the president. In announcing his intention to veto a Palestinian statehood resolution in the UN Security Council, his supporters argue that Obama abandoned his previous hostility towards Israel and embraced it as an ally.

BIDEN'S ATTACK on Pollard is just the latest in a stunning line of rebukes of Israel by Obama's senior surrogates over the past 10 days that cast a pall on that supposed watershed event. First Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the US opposes even symbolic recognition of Israel's capital city Jerusalem. Then she attacked Israel for approving new housing construction in Jerusalem.

Following on Clinton's heels, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta launched a public assault on Israel both ahead of and during his visit early this week.

Panetta seemingly made US support for Israel contingent on Israel's willingness to make concessions to its increasingly radicalized neighbors, saying, "As [the Israelis] take risks for peace, we will be able to provide the security that they will need in order to ensure that they can have the room hopefully to negotiate."

Panetta further accused Israel of isolating itself diplomatically due to its unwillingness to take what he considers sufficient risks. Just weeks after US intervention was needed to force Egypt's military junta to prevent the murder of six Israeli embassy guards besieged by a mob of Egyptian rioters who took over the embassy in Cairo, Panetta added, "Real security can only be achieved by both a strong diplomatic effort as well as a strong effort to project your military strength."

Besides blaming Israel for the absence of peace with the Palestinians and for post-Mubarak Egypt's rapid radicalization, Panetta publicly rejected Israel's right to take military action to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, claiming all action against Iran must be multilateral. In stating this position, Panetta effectively gave a green light for Iran to develop nuclear weapons.

This is the case because the sanctions policy the Obama administration clings to has already demonstrably failed to deter Iran from advancing its nuclear weapons program.

Clinton's attack on Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, Panetta's assault on Israel's right to defend itself from the threat of genocide, and his unrestrained criticism of Israel's refusal to genuflect before increasingly belligerent neighbors all indicated that Obama's speech at the UN was not a new chapter in his administration's treatment of Israel. Rather, it was a one-off response to concern about the loss of American Jewish support for the president. That concern was spiked by the Republican victory in New York's Ninth Congressional District's special election last month.

Biden's assault on Pollard - and through him, the American Jewish community - was a similar sign that Obama has not let go of his antipathy for Israel.

Obama's behavior on Israel following the Democrats' congressional upset replicates his response to Republican Sen. Scott Brown's upset victory in the special Senate election in Massachusetts in January 2010. Brown was elected at the height of the debate on Obama's nationalized healthcare plan.

For the first couple of weeks after Brown's election, Obama and his surrogates signaled their willingness to compromise with Republicans in light of Massachusetts voters' rebuke of their partisan brinksmanship on the healthcare issue. But within two months of Brown's victory, Obama and his allies had doubled down and passed their highly controversial healthcare program with no Republican support and against the opposition of the majority of American voters.

In the case of both Israel and healthcare, Obama has opted to ignore the political consequences of his actions and press on with his ideological agenda.

The lesson Pollard and his supporters in the US and in Israel should take from Obama's behavior is that they must continue to press on in their campaign for Pollard's release as energetically and as relentlessly as possible. As the election date nears, if Obama's polling numbers continue to drop, it is possible - although unlikely - that he will decide that desperate times call for desperate measures and grant Pollard clemency.

Even if Obama fails to act in such a politically sensible fashion, a public and outspoken campaign for Pollard's release still makes sense. At a minimum, it can set the conditions for a new president to grant Pollard clemency immediately upon taking office, by causing Obama's Republican opponent to commit to such a course of action.

Speaking of Pollard's case with Jewish Week, Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said, "In the midst of the Days of Awe, as we ponder the wrongdoings we have committed and pray for God's mercy, we pray as well that President Obama will act with mercy and grant Mr. Pollard long-overdue clemency."

American Jewish leaders deserve praise for their willingness to plead on Pollard's behalf. And they should be urged to continue to highlight Pollard's plight and call for his immediate release.

Pollard committed a crime. But his punishment far outweighs his misdeeds. Whether Obama releases him from his long suffering or not, it is heartwarming that due to Biden's unbridled assault on Pollard, the American Jewish leadership has found its voice and is calling for justice to be done.

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.

Caroline Glick


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

The Arab Spring and the Jews

by Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi

Throughout the ongoing unrest in the Middle East and North Africa, endless streams of ink have been poured over the issue of what is to come in countries like Libya, which has recently witnessed the ousting of Qaddafi. Will Libya be another Iraq, an Islamist-dominated nation, or a stable liberal democracy?

So these questions have been asked innumerable times. Perhaps now we should be wondering: What might be a good indicator or litmus test of the direction in which Libya is going?

Luckily, a useful answer lies in the recent case of David Gerbi, a Libyan Jew who has spent most of his life in exile in Italy but returned to his native land in the summer to assist the rebels in overthrowing Qaddafi's regime. As numerous outlets have reported, he was initially enthralled at the prospect of building a new post-Gaddafi Libya, yet his hopes were quickly dashed once he was subject to death threats on account of his attempts to restore the crumbling synagogue in Tripoli.

He was further told by a man claiming to represent the new Libyan authorities that a mass anti-Semitic demonstration was being planned for that Friday in Tripoli's Martyrs' Square, formerly known as "Green Square" when Qaddafi was in power.

Gerbi appealed to the National Transitional Council (NTC), urging them to convey the message to the people that "we are pluralistic," yet the NTC did not respond kindly to Gerbi's reasoned pleas, ostensibly dismissing the matter as "premature," in the words of NTC leader Mustafa Abdul-Jalil.

Like other nations in the Middle East and North Africa, the exodus of Libya's Jewish population was in great part due to attacks by Muslim mobs and government-sponsored persecution.

As Alex Joffe reports, in the case of Libya, in 1945 (at that point under British occupation) pogroms organized by Muslims killed hundreds of Jews and destroyed many Jewish-owned shops and synagogues, leading to the departure of some 30,000 Libyan Jews for Israel between 1949 and 1951.

Just before Libya became independent in 1951, the Prime Minister Mahmoud Muntasser affirmed that there could be "no future" for Jews in Libya, and the 8,000 who remained suffered numerous restrictions, including a ban on having passports and serving in public office.

After the Six Day War, a series of pogroms led to the expulsion of all remaining Jews in Libya.

For many Mizrahim [Jews from North Africa, Iraq, etc. ed.] now living in Israel and the West, it has been their dream to return to or at least visit their countries of origin without restrictions.

If the new emerging governments from the "Arab Spring" in the Middle East and North Africa- along with the populations at large- have a problem with Jews who desire to return to their homelands, on what basis should it be presumed that these nations will adopt the values of appreciation of tolerance and diversity that are the hallmarks of a liberal democracy?

Another case in point is that of post-Saddam Iraq. Following the American-led invasion in 2003, many Iraqi Jews longed to return, reclaim their property or at least receive compensation from the government for confiscation by the Iraqi authorities. However, to this day, the Iraqi government refuses even to provide compensation, claiming that the exodus of Jews from Iraq was entirely a matter of free choice and willingly selling property, a claim that is far from the truth.

Far from seeing even a marginal influx of Jews into the country, Iraq has witnessed a decline in its already tiny Jewish remnant community since 2003, with at least one kidnapped and killed by al-Qa'ida militants.

There are now just seven Jews remaining in Baghdad, and the Meir Taweig synagogue in the capital has been closed, while in Basra, the last synagogue was ransacked and converted into a warehouse after the city's only Jew left following the invasion. A proposal was raised among a few residents of the city to restore the synagogue, but did not come to fruition.

Despite an American expenditure of well over $1 trillion on the war effort (including some $53 billion allocated for reconstruction projects), Iraq today cannot be classified as a true electoral democracy.

As Freedom House notes, the country conducted generally free and fair elections in 2010, but genuine democratic decision-making is severely impeded by corruption, excessive bureaucracy that is a legacy of what Daniel Pipes terms the "Stalinist nightmare" of Saddam Hussein, sectarianism and personal power struggles among the political elite. It is therefore no surprise that Freedom House still designates Iraq as "Not Free."

By contrast, Morocco, which still has a protected Jewish community of several thousand, appears to be faring well in the present unrest, having made Tamazight an official language (any emphasis on a Berber national identity in this manner can only serve as a bulwark against Islamism: and it is of note that in Libya the Berber community has been generally supportive of David Gerbi's efforts) in light of largely peaceful demonstrations and introducing pragmatic reforms that stand a reasonable chance of leading towards true liberal democracy at a gradual and steady pace. Such measures will result in both short and long term stability.

Nonetheless, the persistent and virulent anti-Jewish attitudes elsewhere do not bode well for prospects of liberal democracy taking hold of the Middle East and North Africa anytime soon.

Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi is a student at Brasenose College, Oxford University, and an intern at the Middle East Forum.


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Time is on Israel's Side

by Yoram Ettinger

Time is running in Israel's favor, in contrast to conventional wisdom, as evidenced by the “global economic walk” and irrespective of the “global political talk.”

At the outset of the Jewish New Year 5772, Israel's gross domestic product is $240 billion, and the country has a 3 percent deficit, 5.7% unemployment, 3% interest rate and 3% inflation -- compared with $38 billion GDP in 1990 and $1 billion in 1949. Israel's credit rating has been recently upgraded by Standard & Poor, ranking it among the top OECD economies.

In 1948, Israel had no sifgnificant exports, compared with a $6.7 billion current account (mostly trade balance) surplus in 2010, with the U.S., Europe and India as the chief trading partners. Notwithstanding disturbing Turkish statements, Israel-Turkey trade volume has surged 140% since the Islamic AKP party assumed power in 2002 -- $3.45 billion in 2010 compared with $1.4 billion in 2002. Irrespective of political tensions, the first quarter of 2011 features a 40% increase in the mutually beneficial Israel-Turkey trade from the first quarter of 2010.

In 2011, Israel takes pride in robust exports, despite the global economic meltdown, due to its highly specialized lines of exports, which correspond to vital global needs in the areas of pharmaceuticals, medical devices, biomed, agriculture, water technologies, energy alternatives, software, laptop computers, telecommunications and defense industries. The latter features Israel as the fifth largest global defense exporter. The New York-based “Trading Economics” reported a $1 billion Israeli current account surplus in the first quarter of 2011.

Recently, the Houston-based Noble Energy company discovered proven offshore natural gas reserves, which will transform Israel by 2014 from nearly total reliance on imported energy to a major exporter of natural gas. The Jewish state is “a shining high-tech city on a hill,” attracting leading global companies, venture capitalists and investment banks, which seek unique manpower and cutting-edge innovative technologies. The European Community appoints Israelis to head its high-technology commissions.

Microsoft's CEO, Steve Ballmer, calls Microsoft as much an Israeli company as an American company because of the importance of its Israeli technologies, such as the Kinect gaming motion-sensor interface, the fastest-growing consumer electronic product in history. The same applies, increasingly, to Google, Cisco and eBay, and Apple's memory systems for its iPhones, iPods and iPads. According to Intel's CEO, Intel would have been devastated by the competition, if not for its four research and development centers and two manufacturing plants in Israel, which developed its most advanced microprocessors, Pentium, Sandbridge, Atom and Centrino.

Leading American venture capital funds Sequoia, Greylock, Accel and Orbimed have become frequent investors in Israel, and some 400 global high-tech companies have established a research and manufacturing presence in Israel. IBM and Computers Associates just made their ninth and 10th acquisitions of Israeli companies respectively. Overseas investments in Israel's high-tech exceed any single European country and France and Germany combined.

The American defense industry has been a major beneficiary of Israel's unique technological and battle capabilities. Thus, the current generation of the F-16 features more than 600 modifications, introduced by Israel, making it a global success and enhancing the American employment, research and development and export infrastructures. Northrop Grumman's robotics division’s cooperation with, and sales to, Israel have dramatically upgraded the quality of its products, as has been the case with hundreds of U.S. defense systems employed by Israel.

In retrospect, Arab wars and terrorism, geopolitical constraints and limited natural resources have been nothing but bumps on the path of an unprecedented Israeli economic, technological, educational and defense surge, which has benefited humanity at large. 

Yoram Ettinger


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'Islamophobia' Defense Succeeds for Shooter of Aussie Cop

by David J. Rusin

An Australian Muslim was acquitted of attempting to kill or grievously injure a police officer, based in part on the judge's decision that a vague and unsubstantiated "anti-Muslim feeling in the community" had helped make the perpetrator skittish enough to open fire out of fear. The verdict in the non-jury trial came in June, but a suppression order kept it hidden until last month.

On November 8, 2005, four policemen were dispatched to arrest a man identified in publicly available records only as BUSB. Upon being approached in a Sydney suburb, BUSB spun around, pulled out a gun, and fired, hitting a sergeant in the hand. Another officer then shot and wounded BUSB, who was taken into custody.

"The man maintained he did not fire at police but at the horizon in what was intended to be a warning shot so he could flee," the Daily Telegraph reports. He "testified he was sick at the time and jumpy about surveillance and possible police questions." Laughable? Yes. But Judge Leonie Flannery accepted the argument, agreeing that BUSB may have fired a "warning shot in panic." More disturbing is her malformed sentence explaining the purported cause of BUSB's anxiety:

I am not satisfied that he put the Browning [pistol] in his pants because he was planning to shoot his arresting officers, rather he did so because he was concerned for his safety, and the state he was in brought about his illness, his concern that he was going to be arrested, and the climate of anti-Muslim feeling in the community at the time, he believed that he might be harmed by the police.

The context makes her decision even more alarming: the officers had been sent to arrest BUSB on terrorism charges. Judge Flannery's ruling acknowledges that BUSB "had with him … two loaded guns in connection with the preparation for a terrorist act." Found to possess jihadist propaganda, weapons, acids, and instructions for explosives, BUSB pleaded guilty to terrorism counts in 2008 and is serving at least 14 years — facts presumably known to Judge Flannery.

That BUSB did not get off scot-free does not excuse the judge for ratifying the defense's assertion that the shooting was mitigated by "an environment of anti-Muslim feeling, which engendered in the Muslim community a high sense of paranoia." Islamists often claim that bias against Muslims motivates investigations and prosecutions, but this may be the first criminal case in which "Islamophobia" was successfully employed to defend a Muslim's violent deeds.

Columnist Gerard Henderson ponders, "Would a Jew be entitled to cite a climate of anti-Semitism in the community as affecting the intention of an act which he/she had committed with respect to police? What about a Hindu?" To ask these questions is to answer them. Jews, Hindus, and others are treated like adults; Muslims frequently are viewed as children lacking self-control.

"Islamophobia" is no longer just a tool to silence critics of Islamism. In at least one jurisdiction, it has morphed into a legal defense for terrorists who shoot cops. If there is any remaining doubt regarding the pernicious trajectory of the "Islamophobia" meme, the above case should dispel it.

David J. Rusin


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Islamism's Predictability: Apostasy, Execution, and Lies

by Raymond Ibrahim

As one ponders the fate of Yousef Nadarkhani, the Iranian pastor on death row for refusing to renounce Christianity, it is well to reflect that, for all the talk that Islam is perpetually "misunderstood," it is actually immensely predictable and consistent; not only do its patterns cross time and space, but their manifestations are often identical.

Consider: Muslims have no qualms proudly declaring the particulars of their religion for all and sundry to hear—no matter how absurd or how it reflects on them or Islam. Thus talk about the legitimacy of adult "breast feeding," pedophilia as marriage, insistence that the earth is flat, commands not to yawn (lest Satan flies down one's throat), the salutary effects of drinking prophet urine, the need to execute the "infidel" Mickey Mouse, and any number of other oddities and perversities are regularly evoked by Islam's sheikhs and clerics throughout the Muslim world.

There is, of course, one caveat: whenever Islam is vulnerable vis-à-vis the international infidel, as it is today, caution is called for regarding the declaration of those things that might backfire, things that might make Islam look like a threat—things that might incline other civilizations to go on a preemptive offensive, while they have the advantage.

Jihad is a perfect example. Despite the fact that "holy war" to conquer infidel territories and spread Islamic hegemony is an ironclad aspect of the religion—an integral part of its history, its doctrines, its very being—Muslims are careful not to evoke it around infidels.

Even Islamist organizations, including al-Qaeda, while regularly pontificating to fellow Muslims about how Islam demands the subjugation of non-Muslims—simply because they are infidels—always back-peddle when communicating with the West, opting instead to use language and paradigms that comport with Western sensibilities.

It is in this manner that many in the West have come to believe Islam's nonstop aggression around the globe is a byproduct of "grievances," of "Zionism," of U.S. "foreign policy," of anything and everything, not Islam.

Now consider how this identical pattern—Muslims proudly displaying Islam's particulars, only to deny them once they become counterproductive—has played out in the Iranian Christian pastor saga:

First, Iran's Supreme Court made it unequivocally clear that apostasy is punishable by death. Why shouldn't it? All legitimate schools of Islamic law—including Shia—mandate death for the apostate, in accordance with their prophet's command: "Whoever changed his Islamic religion, kill him."

Then, to the chagrin of Iran's government, which likely expected to get away with its barbarities unnoticed, the Western mainstream media actually picked up the story, resulting in widespread condemnation from Western politicians, many highlighting Iran's hypocrisy, thereby undermining its constant calls for "justice" and "humanitarianism" in its attempt to demonize Israel.

So what did the taqiyya masters of Shia Iran do? In the face of all the documented evidence otherwise, they decided to change the whole story, to use language intelligible to the West: now the pastor is supposedly being executed because he is a "Zionist traitor," a "rapist" and "extortionist," a "brothel owner," etc.—all epithets Iran knows will resonate with the West.

Of course, none of these charges exist in Iran's Supreme Court ruling, which clearly and unequivocally asserts that pastor Yousef Nadarkhani

is convicted of turning his back on Islam, the greatest religion the prophesy of Mohammad at the age of 19. He has often participated in Christian worship and organized home church services, evangelizing and has been baptized and baptized others, converting Muslims to Christianity. He has been accused of breaking Islamic Law that from puberty (15 years according to Islamic law) until the age of 19 the year 1996, he was raised a Muslim in a Muslim home. During court trials, he denied the prophecy of Mohammad and the authority of Islam. He has stated that he is a Christian and no longer Muslim.

Thus, just like all the other Muslims who boldly and proudly declare the things of Islam, except of course when counterproductive to Islam's wellbeing, those in Iran who unashamedly sought to execute a man in accordance to Islam's apostasy laws, once exposed, cringed and dissembled, as usual: lack of religious freedom, like jihad, is equally codified in Sharia, and equally detested in the West.

For anyone following the patterns of Islamic behavior, this is all too predictable—almost as predictable as the fact that many wishful thinkers in the West will happily accept Iran's lies, simply to validate their own worldview, despite all the evidence otherwise.

Raymond Ibrahim, an Islam specialist and author of The Al Qaeda Reader, is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.


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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Free Syrian Army Rises to Take on Assad

by Ryan Mauro

The peaceful uprising in Syria is becoming a violent revolt as the Free Syria Army rises to defend the people against the Assad regime. Close to 3,000 civilians have been murdered, 20,000 are imprisoned and 7,500 are living in refugee camps in Turkey. Pleas for foreign intervention are growing, anti-regime militias are forming, and military defectors continue to join the ranks of the Free Syria Army. With every protester killed, civil war becomes more likely.

On September 23, the Free Officers Movement officially merged into the Free Syria Army, led by Colonel Riad al-Assad. The leader of the Free Officers Movement, Lt. Col. Hussein Harmoush, disappeared on August 27 after meeting with Turkish officials. He was later seen on Syrian state television parroting the regime’s propaganda. The Erdogan government has been accused of handing him over to Assad in exchange for nine members of the Kurdistan Workers Party, which Turkey denies. The Foreign Minister laughably claims, “He himself decided to go back.” At the same time, Turkey is threatening Assad over his brutal crackdowns and has hit him with an arms embargo.

“You cannot remove this regime except by force and bloodshed. But our losses will not be worse than we have right now, with the killings, the torture and the dumping of bodies,” Col. Riad al-Assad said. So far, the Free Syria Army has killed at least 80 of the regime’s soldiers and hired mercenaries. Another report put the number of casualties among the regime’s security forces since the uprising began at about 700.

The Free Syria Army’s strategy is to replicate the success of the Libyan rebels. For now, it wants to defend protesters as they come under attack and expand its ranks with defectors. It hopes to kick the regime’s forces out of an area in the northern part of the country, creating the Syrian equivalent of Libya’s Benghazi. From this safe haven, it hopes to win international support and ultimately bring Assad down. The rest of the opposition has yet to endorse taking up arms. The Local Coordination Committees in Syria are still opposed to violence.

The Free Syria Army and some other opposition groups are now asking for foreign help. The Syrian National Council rejects any intervention that “compromises Syria’s sovereignty” but is asking for a no-fly zone. The Syrian Revolution General Commission in Washington D.C. wants “limited Western intervention” that includes an arms embargo, a no-fly zone, economic pressure and a peacekeeping mission to protect civilians. Farid Ghadry of the Reform Party of Syria, another D.C.-based group, is calling on the West to directly support the Free Syria Army with arms and logistics.

The FSA is hoping that foreign allies will provide it with weapons, enact a naval blockade, and give it financing from the frozen assets of regime officials. It is also asking for a U.N. resolution expressing support for its fight and demanding that the regime release political prisoners and soldiers it imprisoned for refusing to fire on civilians. It also wants the U.N. to call on Assad to return his soldiers to their barracks. On October 4, Russia and China vetoed a U.N. resolution threatening the regime with sanctions. “The courageous people of Syria can now see clearly who supports their yearning for liberty and universal rights and who does not,” said U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice.

U.S. ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, implores both sides to forgo violence and is telling the opposition to not count on the U.S. military for backup. “One of the things we’ve told the opposition is that they should not think we are going to treat Syria the same way we treated Libya,” Ford said. He is warning the Free Syria Army that “you don’t have enough force to fight the Syrian army, you’re not even close. We have to be realistic.” He suggests that the opposition be patient as sanctions take their toll on the regime. At the same time, a State Department spokesman was careful not to condemn the Free Syria Army, saying it isn’t surprising that people have begun “to use violence against the military as an act of self-preservation.”

The Free Syria Army claims it has 10,000 soldiers, a number that is impossible to verify and some doubt, organized into 12 brigades, with the largest being the 2,000-strong Khalid Bin Walid Brigade in Homs. Despite its relatively low numbers, the Free Syria Army and its supporters are putting up a strong fight. It just took the regime’s forces several days and 3,000 arrests to seize the strategic city of Rastan in Homs Province, where about 1,000 defectors and residents fought the regime.

The FSA is ambushing vehicles transporting members of the regime’s vicious Allawite militia, called the Shabbiha. On October 1, it killed 5 militiamen near the Iraqi border. Nearly a dozen suspected regime informants have ended up dead in the city of Homs, such as the son of the Grand Mufti. The city is on the edge of civil war as rifles costing up to $2,000 each are being found. About 500 soldiers switched sides in and around Homs Province. At least three regime vehicles have been ambushed there, checkpoints are coming under fire, and a tank was struck with an RPG. There are clashes reported around the country at Deir al-Zour, the Mezzeh military airport near Damascus, Daraa, the northwestern province of Idlib, and Harasta, which lies on the outskirts of Damascus. There has also been fighting in the capital and dozens have defected in Hama and Latakia.

The FSA’s strength will grow as it shows its success and more defectors and civilians join it. On September 26, the regime arrested 7 soldiers and killed 4 when they tried to defect in Idlib near the Turkish border. A U.S. official estimates that there have been about 10,000 total defections. One defector said 4,000 soldiers are being held by the regime in Damascus alone for disobeying orders. An opposition site says over 22,000 troops have been jailed, including 7,000 officers. Armed groups allied with FSA are rising up near the borders with Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

The Free Syria Army has not joined any political party or opposition council and does not appear to have an Islamist orientation. A senior opposition leader in Homs says that the Syrian military is very secular, and so the defectors are not very religious. A journalist who interviewed members of the FSA said they “do not appear to consider themselves mujahedin or otherwise fit the stereotype of Islamic extremists. Accordingly, individuals…[say] Islam does provide them with inspiration and strength but they do not fight for Islam and their goals are generally secular.”

Since the uprising began, protesters have been peaceful as the tortured bodies of children are returned to families, demonstrators are mercilessly killed in the streets, and areas of unrest come under siege without access to food and medicine. The Bashar Assad regime is finally getting a taste of its own medicine.

Ryan Mauro


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Teaching Journalists How to Report on Jihad

by Mark Tapson

Muslim-American advocacy groups with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, like the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), are on a mission to combat what they claim is the Western media’s habitually negative reporting on Islam. After all, it’s difficult to advance the Brotherhood’s agenda of “eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within” when the media keep reporting on a steady stream of terror plots, honor killings, and encroachments by shariah on American soil. But if journalists take to heart the message of an online course from The Poynter News University, then their “skewed” perspective won’t be a problem anymore.

Covering Islam in America” is a free, self-directed course offered by the Poynter Institute,* which describes itself as “a school dedicated to teaching and inspiring journalists and media leaders.” It purports to give journalists a basic education in how “to humanize, analyze and put news about Islam and Muslim communities into context.” Check out the course and you will discover that what putting such news “in context” means is finding ways to deflect negative attention from jihad and shariah, and instead to give credence to Muslim “grievances” against the West, cast suspicion on politicians who speak out against shariah, and spotlight a right-wing network of “bigots” as the real threat.

The course asserts that “context is essential” and recommends, for example, that journalists report in ways that do not “amplify fears of jihad.” It notes that journalists “are far more likely to report on jihad-related incidents than other violence,” giving readers a “skewed impression of the prevalence of jihad” – as if the existence of other kinds of violence somehow renders violent jihad less egregious or less deserving of media attention. (The phrase “jihad-related incidents” itself is an almost Orwellian, innocuous euphemism for the murder and mayhem of terrorism – even blander than Homeland Security’s new terminology, “man-made disasters.”)

To correct what the course deems to be this misleading bias against Islam, journalists are told to get some perspective by comparing the mere 3,000 people killed on 9/11 by terrorists to the greater numbers of the overall murder rate and of other, leading causes of death like malaria, AIDS, and malnutrition. This illogical and offensive comparison, which suggests that violent jihad isn’t that serious, ignores the fact that we take those other causes of death – indeed, every cause of death, from plane crashes to breast cancer – very seriously and go to superhuman lengths to eradicate them. Should we not also undertake similar measures against Islamic terrorism? Should jihad become newsworthy only when the casualty threshold skyrockets? Moreover, terrorism has a broader significance and impact than simply a body count; while, say, murder is an undeniably heinous crime, terrorism is an act of war calculated to sap our political will and destroy our way of life. It’s fair to say that journalists are justified in giving “jihad-related incidents” their due.

Besides putting a more innocuous spin on jihad, the course reveals its leftist agenda by shifting into an attack on conservatives:

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, a group of right-wing activists who view themselves as ‘anti-Jihadists’ have aggressively tried to tie American Muslims to terrorism overseas and in the United States.

The course steers journalists to reports funded by the Left to uncover more about these “right-wing activists” and their agenda. The recommended reports are the Center for American Progress’ insubstantial “Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America,” the bias and smears of which have already been noted and discredited numerous times at FrontPage Magazine, and Bob Smietana’s “Anti-Muslim Crusaders Make Millions Spreading Fear,” from The Tennessean in Nashville, another discredited smear-fest that accuses conservatives of a financial motive behind their “hate-mongering.” The Center for American Progress is funded by the leftist multi-billionaire George Soros.

Actually, the anti-jihadists in question – such usual suspects as Jihad Watch’s Robert Spencer, the Investigative Project on Terrorism’s Steven Emerson, and ACT! for America’s Brigitte Gabriel – have not “tried to tie American Muslims to terrorism” (the recently deceased al Awlaki did a pretty good job of that all by himself). They have merely exposed the American Muslims who have tied themselves to terrorism here and abroad. Somehow that “context” is never addressed in the Poynter Institute’s course.

In addition to suggesting that “bigoted” right-wing activists have over-inflated the threat of jihad, the course asks students to consider what “grievances” might “sources associated with ‘Political Islam’ hold against Western journalists.” This is a subtle use of the strategy that has worked so well for the Islamists and the Left as well: manipulating the West’s “colonialist” guilt and planting the blame for terrorism on the victims’ collective responsibility. The course also suggests that politicians’ stances toward Islamic issues stem more from base political motives than from their constituents’ legitimate concern about the creeping Islamization of America: “Politicians do not oppose or support proposed mosques and other Muslim-American projects without taking into account their own interests.”

Who’s behind “Covering Islam in America”? The Culture and Media Institute breaks down the incestuous Islamist support network connected to the course. The course is co-sponsored by the Social Science Research Council, partially funded through Soros’ Open Society Institute. The Poynter Institute, funded by The Knight Foundation, partnered with Soros’ Open Society Foundations to start the Investigative News Network. The Knight Foundation’s president and CEO, Alberto Ibarguen, is also on the board of yet another key Soros-backed group, the progressive investigative reporting start-up ProPublica.

The “core journalistic values underpinning the course,” the Poynter News University claims, “are truth, accuracy, independence, fairness, minimizing harm and context.” Truth, accuracy, and “independence” and “fairness” – by which they presumably mean objectivity – are certainly essential journalistic values (and in short supply in these times when advocacy journalism is the vogue). But “minimizing harm” and “context”? “Covering Islam in America,” under the guise of fairness and protecting Muslim-American communities from right-wing bigotry, is a propaganda tool for manipulating the media to whitewash concepts like jihad and shariah, and to turn criticism of the clear and present danger of Islamic fundamentalism back on its critics.

* A companion website, Islam on Main Street: A Crash Course for Domestic American Reporters, is offered through Washington State University’s Center for Distance Education.

Mark Tapson


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

Muslims in Spain Declare Jihad on Dogs

by Soeren Kern

Spanish authorities are investigating the recent deaths by poisoning of more than a dozen dogs in Lérida, a city in the northeastern region of Catalonia that has become ground zero in an intensifying debate over the role of Islam in Spain.

All of the dogs were poisoned in September (local media reports here, here, here, here and here) in Lérida's working class neighbourhoods of Cappont and La Bordeta, districts that are heavily populated by Muslim immigrants and where many dogs have been killed in recent years.

Local residents say Muslim immigrants killed the dogs because according to Islamic teaching dogs are "unclean" animals.

Over the past several months, residents taking their dogs for walks have been harassed by Muslim immigrants opposed to seeing the animals in public. Muslims have also launched a number of anti-dog campaigns on Islamic websites and blogs based in Spain.

In response to the "lack of sufficient police to protect the neighbourhood," 50 local residents have established alternating six-person citizen patrols to escort people walking their dogs.

In July, two Islamic groups based in Lérida asked city officials to regulate the presence of dogs in public spaces so they do not "offend Muslims." Muslims are demanding that dogs be banned from all forms of public transportation including all city buses as well as from all areas frequented by Muslim immigrants.

Muslims in Lérida say the presence of dogs violates their religious freedom and their right to live according to Islamic principles.

Dogs are not the only Islam-related controversy in Lérida, where 29,000 Muslims now make up around 20 percent of the city's total population.

In December 2010, Lérida became the first municipality in Spain to ban the burqa head covering in all public spaces. Women found violating the ban will be fined up to €600 ($750). One day before the ban took effect, the Catalonian Supreme Court turned down an appeal from the Watani Association for Freedom and Justice, a local Muslim group, which had argued that the ban constitutes religious discrimination.

In September 2010, Watani president Mourad El-Boudouhi submitted a letter to the Lérida city council in which he asked the mayor to provide him with free land so that he can build a mosque in downtown Lérida. The mosque would be financed by Morocco.

The Moroccan mosque would compete with another mosque project in Lérida that is being financed by Saudi Arabia. The imam at the Saudi mosque is Abdelwahab Houzi, a Salafi jihadist preacher who adheres to the radical Wahhabi sect of Islam.

Salafism is a branch of revivalist Islam that calls for restoring past Muslim glory by forcibly establishing a universal Islamic empire (Caliphate) across the Middle East, North Africa and parts of Europe such as Spain, which Salafists view as a Muslim state that must be re-conquered for Islam.

Much of Spain was ruled by Muslim conquerors from 711 and 1492; Salafists believe that the territories the Muslims lost during the Spanish Reconquista still belong to them, and that they have a right to return and establish their rule there – a belief based on the Islamic precept that territories once occupied by Muslims must forever remain under Muslim domination.

The Salafist Houzi has called on Muslims who are eligible to vote in Spain to support Catalan separatist parties as a means to firmly establish Islamism in Catalonia.

"Muslims should vote for pro-independence parties, as they need our votes. But what they do not know is that, when they allow us to vote, we will all vote for Islamic parties because we do not believe in left and right. This will make us win local councils and as we begin to accumulate power in the Catalan autonomous region, Islam will begin to be implemented," Houzi said.

The Catalan independence movement supports the independence of Catalonia from Spain. Catalan separatism is based on the idea that Catalonia is a nation with its own unique history, culture and language.

In an effort to promote the Catalan language, Catalonian pro-independence parties have traditionally favored immigration from non-Spanish-speaking countries, especially from Arabic-speaking Muslim countries, in the belief that these people would speak Catalan rather than Spanish.

The end result of this decades-old policy is that Catalonia is now home to a huge concentration of hard-line Islamist groups including Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami and the Salafists.

Salafi preachers in Catalonia do not believe in democracy and teach that Islamic Sharia law is above Spanish civil law. They also promote the establishment of a parallel Muslim society in Spain.

Salafi imams have set up Sharia tribunals in Catalonia to judge the conduct of both practicing and non-practicing Muslims in Spain. They also deploy Islamic "religious police" in Lérida and other Catalan municipalities to monitor and punish Muslims who do not comply.

In one case, nine Salafists kidnapped a woman in Reus, tried her for adultery based on Sharia law, and condemned her to death. The woman just barely escaped execution by fleeing to a local police station.

In another case, a Salafi imam in Tarragona was arrested for forcing a 31-year-old Moroccan woman to wear a hijab head covering. The imam had threatened to burn down the woman's house for being an "infidel" because she works outside the home, drives an automobile and has non-Muslim friends. In an effort to prevent "a social conflict," in August a local court absolved the imam of all wrongdoing.

The Salafi movement in Spain is based in the Catalonian city of Tarragona, but Salafi Islam also has a major presence in the Catalan municipalities of Badalona, Calafell, Cunit, El Vendrel, Girona, Lleida, Mataró, Reus, Roda de Bara, Rubí, Salt, Santa Coloma de Gramenet, Sant Boi, Torredembarra, Valls, and Vilanova, not to mention Barcelona, which hosts five Salafi mosques.

Meanwhile, the Catalan regional government says that during the first six months of 2011, it prevented 14 forced marriages and the genital mutilation of 24 Muslim girls.

Catalan police say they prevented forced marriages in metropolitan Barcelona (6), Girona (4), central Catalonia (2), the western Pyrenees (1) and Tarragona (1). The girls at risk from genital mutilation were in metropolitan Barcelona (19), Girona (4) and Lérida (1).

Not surprisingly, some Catalans are having second thoughts about Muslim immigration. The Catalan nationalist party Plataforma per Catalunya (PxC), which has some 70,000 active members, is opposed to any further Muslim immigration.

PxC is also leading opposition to the construction of a Salafi mega-mosque in the Catalan town of Salt. PxC spokeswoman María Osuna says the party does not want Salt to become "the new Mecca of the most radical Islamism."

For its part, the Catalan regional government has discovered that Muslim immigrants are not all that interested in learning the Catalan language. In an effort to promote Catalan, the Catalonian Bureau of Religious Affairs recently published a guidebook in Arabic and Catalan called "Salam al Català."

The guide aims to bring the Catalan culture to Muslims to "show the bonds that historically have existed between both realities, and bring the [Catalonian] language to the Arabic-speaking Muslim population."

Soeren Kern


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The Self-Defeating Statehood Gambit

by Asaf Romirowsky

Following the 10th anniversary of 9/11, the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas has attempted to convince the world and the international community that their quest for statehood is just. Moreover, he would like us to believe that this "state" is responsible and accountable and deserves to be part of the community of nations. Yet it is puzzling, to say the least, that simultaneously we are witnessing a significant escalation of violence under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority such as the latest attacks in the southern parts of Israel.

Moreover, the recent attack on the Israeli Embassy in Cairo which forced the Ambassador and his family to flee is a clear indicator that the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates, especially Hamas, are successful in overturning everything that was achieved under Sadat and Mubarak, specifically the 32-year Egyptian-Israeli peace.

In the immediate aftermath of the attacks on the towers, which cost the lives of nearly 3,000 Americans, it was understood that Israel's War on Terror was America's War and that Hamas and al-Qaeda are one and the same.With the passing of time this understanding has been lost somewhere in the shuffle of spreading democracy and creating states in the Middle East. Yet today, Islamism in all its various forms still rejects the global status quo and is deeply hostile to most of the values and interests that are important to the U.S. and Israel.

A closer look at the Palestinian scheme reveals a not-so-hidden agenda of Israel's destruction rather than co-existence. Abbas believes that declaring statehood at the United Nations General Assembly on behalf of the Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank by unilateralism, aka Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI), will bring about the much-desired Palestinian state that all Palestinians have been taught to believe in. Consequently, this act will be welcomed by a voting majority, which includes all the dictatorships of the Muslim world and Africa.

Washington has been clear that it will veto any effort in the Security Council, and as such the Palestinians will turn to the General Assembly (GA). The GA cannot admit a new state to the UN but can elevate the Palestinians' current status to non-member observer state, which will afford the Palestinians a voice on the Human Rights Council and the International Court of Justice—both bodies have been historically hostile to Israel and would be more so with PLO representation.

Full membership in the UN requires the sanction of the Security Council, where the U.S. has veto power. That will almost certainly be implemented should Abbas gets nine out of the 15 votes, even by the Obama administration. But for all practical purposes, the PLO has been a member for quite some time and has been behaving as a state. It has the ultimate hallmark of a state, for it conducts its own foreign policy, freely.

Geographically and demographically, the so-called Palestinian state, which includes Gaza and the West Bank, does not exist. It is divided between Fatah and Hamas, Gazans and West Bankers, so the dream of the contiguous Palestinian state is a farce.

Pragmatically, Palestinian statehood would force Palestinians to give up the victimhood status they have been carrying as a "badge of honor" for over 60 years. Then, world public opinion would be forced to judge them as a state and not as the "underdog."

It remains politically correct to call for a two-state solution, as the very concept sounds idyllic: Two states living side-by-side in peace and harmony with free trade and a free market of ideas. However, in the real world, we are talking about an environment where on the part of one side there is no recognition of the other's right to exist in the region, period. The majority of Palestinian society remains unwilling to accept Israel's right and today openly call for a one-state solution, a de facto final solution for the state of Israel.

In sum, for anyone interested in peace in the region and in a two-state outcome, first the two parties should be defined and second the Palestinian gambit should be opposed. The tactic is self-defeating and the sooner Palestinians and their sympathizers get the message, the more likely they are to reconsider.

Asaf Romirowsky is an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Forum.


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