Saturday, November 12, 2011

Islamophobia: A License to Kill

by Daniel Greenfield

Once upon a time when newspaper and magazine offices were torched for offending a powerful group, the rest of the press would rally behind them. But when Charlie Hedbo, a French satirical magazine decided to put out an issue dedicated to Islam with a cover of Mohammed declaring, “100 lashes if you don’t die laughing,” and received a very special burning “Letter to the Editor” from the country’s “Religion of Peace,” the American press lined up behind the firebombers.

Christopher Dickey, the Paris Bureau editor at Newsweek suggested that the far right was probably behind it because it had the most to gain from the attack. Dickey was unable to accuse Hedbo, a left-wing magazine, of being a member of the far-right, so he did the next best thing by diverting attention from the perpetrators and transforming Muslims into the victims of a far-right conspiracy.

Newsweek’s response showed that the second most pernicious thing about the Islamophobia myth is that even when Muslims are the perpetrators, they are still the victims. Moments after an attack takes place, the press rushes out editions worrying that the murder or attempted murder of innocent people by Muslims will cause Islamophobia.

Whether it’s the mass murder of 3,000 people or another in a long series of assaults on freedom of speech in Europe, the villains are always critics of Islam and the victims are always Muslims.

However Dickey was a moderate compared to Time’s Paris Bureau chief, Bruce Crumley, who charged that Charlie Hedbo was a victim of its own “obnoxious Islamophobia” and accused it of wanting to be burned down. Crumley’s article tossed aside freedom of speech in the name of France’s five million Muslims who feel stigmatized by Islamophobia.

Islamophobia is one charge that the editors of Charlie Hedbo are immune from. If they had been afraid of Islam, the way that Time and Newsweek editors are, they would have never run an issue dedicated to mocking Islam. But then Crumley isn’t really saying that Islamophobia is a bad thing. The thrust of his reasoning is that it’s a good thing. It’s good to be afraid of Islamic violence because it makes us more sensitive to Muslim concerns.

If the French had taken a few lessons from CNN and Comedy Central and American newspapers who didn’t dare print the Mohammed cartoons, if they had accepted the “Gift of Fear” that is Islamophobia, they would be a more peaceful and tolerant society.

Crumley’s piece demonstrated that the most pernicious thing about the Islamophobia myth is that once it is used to legitimize Muslim grievances, it is then used to legitimize the violent Muslim response to those grievances. Once you accept that Islamophobia is a serious problem, you have taken the first step to justifying violence as a response to that problem.

That is how it began in Israel, once the narrative of Muslim suffering under the “occupation” was accepted; Muslim terrorism became legitimized as a resistance to the occupation. Once you accept that Muslims in France have been marginalized by an Islamophobic society, then criticizing their religion marginalizes them further and justifies their violent response.

The charge of Islamophobia turns Charlie Hedbo into the new Israel, occupying Muslim sensitivities with tanks made of cartoons and barbed wire fences made of words. Once the occupation is defined, then resistance is justified– and the charge of Islamophobia becomes a license to kill.

Even organizations dedicated to freedom of the press make their ritual obeisances to the Islamophobia myth.

Pen International, an organization of writers dedicated to freedom of expression, issued a press release condemning the attack with the coda that “Despite concerns that the magazine may have aimed to incite provocation, this worrying incident nonetheless represent an alarming attack on freedom of expression.”

Since when has Pen differentiated between provocative and non-provocative forms of expression to the extent of treating provocative speech as less deserving of protection so that it must be differentiated with a “despite” and a “nevertheless”?

“Despite the fact that such depictions of the Prophet Mohammad are strictly prohibited in Islam, the magazine’s editor claimed that they were simply doing our job as usual,” the Pen release adds. And there’s another “despite.” Is the “despite” of Islamic law really meant to govern French publications? It almost seems as if Pen thinks so. And while Pen quotes Charlie Hedbo’s editor that he was doing his job, it does not endorse that statement.

Is Pen being Islamophobic or concerned about Islamophobia? Is it afraid of Islam or afraid that people might be afraid of Islam? If fear of Islam is wrong, then Charlie Hedbo was far less Islamophobic than Pen, Time and Newsweek. But Islamophobia isn’t the problem, it’s the goal.

It’s not fearlessness that the fearful defenders of the timid press are asking from us, it’s fear– a fear that may not be directly acknowledged. Instead we are to be afraid of hurting Muslim feelings for fear that they might think that we are afraid of them… in which case they will give us more reasons to be afraid of them.

That’s the Orwellian Doublespeak of Islamophobia: we are to be afraid of being afraid and if we are afraid enough, then perhaps we won’t need to be afraid anymore. The left’s twisted politics endorse militant terror and then warn us not to be terrorized by them. Only the guilty condemn the violence, the innocent cheer it on or pretend that it isn’t there. From the French Revolution to the USSR’s Great Terror to the Black Panthers to Islam, nothing has changed.

The true Islamophobes huddle behind their bureau desks and spit poison at those who aren’t afraid of Islam. Or aren’t afraid enough to fall into line and keep their mouths shut. Islamophobia becomes an instrument of Muslim grievance translated into violence. And since Muslim grievances are endless, so is the violence.

The devilish trick of Islamophobia is that it turns the very recognition of Muslim violence into a justification for more of that violence. Call out a Muslim suicide bomber, and you marginalize millions of peaceful Muslims who will now don explosive underpants because of your Islamophobia. Criticize Islam as a violent religion and the violent response that is in no way associated with Islam will be on your own head.

Islamophobia justifies Muslim violence and atrocities by equating offensiveness with repression. Only Islamophobes don’t censor and if they end up in the burn ward, it’s because they brought it on themselves. The bloody machine of Muslim grievance grinds on and the bodies coming out the other end include the corpse of Madam Liberty.

The pretense that crying Islamophobia protects Muslims from bigotry is a lie. It’s time to recognize the charge of Islamophobia for what it is– a license for Muslims to kill.

Daniel Greenfield


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

Invoking ‘Academic Freedom’ to Silence Debate

by Kenneth L. Marcus

Reprinted from New Jersey Jewish News.

Academic freedom, like democracy, is one of those things everyone supports because it can mean anything to anyone. In this sense, it is the opposite of anti-Semitism, which everyone opposes because it can be defined so narrowly that it means virtually nothing at all. What’s interesting is when the two concepts collide.

This is precisely what happened, for example, on Oct. 28 at Kent State University. Guest speaker Ishmael Khaldi, a former Israeli consul official, got a rough welcome when he visited to discuss his experience as an Israeli Bedouin. Professor Julio Pino, a Kent State historian, asked Khaldi hostile questions before leaving the hall shouting, “Death to Israel!”

Kent State’s president, Lester A. Lefton, responded quite well. Lefton wrote that it “may have been Professor Pino’s right to” shout at Khaldi, “but it is my obligation, as the president of this university, to say that I find his words deplorable, and his behavior deeply troubling.” Lefton did not try to censor Pino. But he announced that Pino’s behavior was out of bounds.

The influential Association of American University Professors, however, was incensed. Treating Pino as the victim, AAUP President Cary Nelson told Inside Higher Ed that it was Lefton who had stepped out of bounds. Nelson insisted that Pino’s behavior “falls well within the speech rights of any member of a university community.” This of course was not at issue, since Lefton had only voiced his own opinion.

Nelson, however, went on.

“More surprising, to be sure,” Nelson said, “is President Lefton’s invention of an absurd form of hospitality: you must not question the moral legitimacy or the right to exist of a guest’s home country.”

In fact, Lefton had said no such thing. But it is telling that the AAUP’s chief defends a supposed special right to delegitimize Israel. Natan Sharansky​ had included this supposed right in his famous “3D” test: criticism of Israel crosses the line into anti-Semitism when it uses double standards, demonizes the Jewish state, or attempts to delegitimize it. This test is the basis for anti-Semitism standards adopted by the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

Ironically, it is Khaldi’s speech which some are trying to suppress. This is true not only in that his rude treatment may dissuade him from visiting other U.S. campuses. Four days before his Kent State speech, Khaldi appeared at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. There, approximately 60 students reportedly staged a walkout of Khaldi’s presentation in order to disrupt and embarrass him. Bilal Baydoun, who chairs one of the student protest groups, bragged to Arab American News that their disruption “succeeded in rattling the speaker and making him nervous; we sent the message that this campus doesn’t welcome him.”

The goal of such protests is not merely to disrupt, embarrass, or discomfort Israeli speakers but to silence them. “But ultimately,” as the Arab American News quotes Baydoun, “our goal is to prevent someone like this from even arriving on campus in the first place and we feel confident that we will be able to accomplish this as we continue to spread awareness.”

In this respect, Khaldi’s treatment resembles the so-called Irvine 11’s orchestrated disruption of Ambassador Michael Oren’s speech at UC Irvine last year. In that case too, the protesters admitted that their intent was to shut down the pro-Israel side of the debate. Indeed, it is now fair to say that there have been efforts nationwide to prevent university speakers from delivering presentations that deviate from the anti-Israel orthodoxy that reigns on too many campuses.

It is ironic that academia’s self-appointed guardians of academic freedom and freedom of speech do not recognize this concerted effort to squelch one side of the debate. On the contrary, some are all too eager to recognize academic freedom only when it does not apply and to ignore anti-Semitism where it does. Those who support academic freedom should insist that it not be used as a weapon in support of the silencers and against their victims. If they cannot speak out on the right side of this debate, they should at least not join the wrong side.

Kenneth L. Marcus


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

Islamists Take Over Egypt

by Khaled Abu Toameh

The Royal Library of Alexandria in Egypt, the largest and most significant library of the ancient world, is now being targeted by radical Muslims who seek to replace it with a mosque.

Radical Islamic groups claim that the library's art programs, which include music and ballet dancing, spread "depravity" in Egyptian society.

The Islamist campaign against the library is taking place under the looking eyes of Egypt's military dictators, who are burying their heads in the sand and refusing to see the danger, noted columnist Mohammed al-Hamamsi.

"Is the Supreme Military Council waiting until the Islamists come to power and demand, through their parliament, that the library be demolished and that a mosque be built on its site?" al-Hamamsi asked rhetorically.

The destruction of the library will mark the beginning of Egypt's fall into the hands of the Islamists, who seek to take the Arabs and Muslims back to dark ages.

Fears over the fate of the legendary library surfaced following a dispute between the director and the majority of his workers.

Director Ismail Serageldin has been under fire for his alleged affiliation with the former regime of President Hosni Mubarak and crackdown on freedom of speech in the library.

But he and many Egyptians are convinced that the campaign is part of a scheme by Muslim extremists to take control over one of the world's most important cultural and scientific institutions.

The campaign against the library is taking place on the eve of the first parliamentary election in the post-Mubarak era.

For the first time, the Muslim Brotherhood and other fundamentalist groups are contesting the elections, scheduled for November 28.

Arab journalists report that Alexandria, the second-largest city of Egypt with a population of more than four million, now appears to be under the full control of Muslim extremists.

Khaled al-Shami, a correspondent for the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper, said that visitors to the city could no longer ignore the "social, political and physical changes" that have taken place, first and foremost the large number of women covering their faces with the niqab [full head covering, not just the headscarf, hijab] and men wearing beards.

According to the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram, "The Brotherhood have spent the last few months mobilizing their half-million plus members for intense electoral campaigns up and down the Nile river, which the group hopes will deliver it 40% of the seats in Parliament."

The paper pointed out that the Islamists have been "wooing voters not only with their trademark slogan of "Islam is the solution," but also with the tangibles of meat and vegetables that they sell to poor Egyptians at half the market prices."

The paper also found that in the months since the fall of Mubarak, "Brotherhood-friendly preachers have made their way back into some strategic mosques, using the podiums to recruit new converts and give confidence to hard-core supporters."

Needless to say, the majority of the mosque sermons focus on the need to "defend Islam against Jews, Christian crusaders and Western colonialism."

In simple words, the message coming out of Egypt's Islamists is that Israel, the US and the entire West remain the number one enemy of Muslims.

Khaled Abu Toameh


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

With Friends Like These

by Caroline Glick

Obama Sarkozy cartoon.jpeg
The slurs against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu voiced by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and US President Barack Obama after last week's G20 summit were revealing as well as repugnant.

Thinking no one other than Obama could hear him, Sarkozy attacked Netanyahu, saying, "I can't stand to see him anymore, he's a liar."

Obama responded by whining, "You're fed up with him, but me, I have to deal with him every day."

These statements are interesting both for what they say about the two presidents' characters and for what they say about the way that Israel is perceived by the West more generally.

To understand why this is the case it is necessary to first ask, when has Netanyahu ever lied to Sarkozy and Obama? This week the UN International Atomic Energy Agency's report about Iran's nuclear weapons program made clear that Israel - Netanyahu included - has been telling the truth about Iran and its nuclear ambitions all along. In contrast, world leaders have been lying and burying their heads in the sand.

Since Iran's nuclear weapons program was first revealed to the public in 2004, Israel has provided in-depth intelligence information proving Iran's malign intentions to the likes of Sarkozy, Obama and the UN. And for seven years, the US government - Obama included - has claimed that it lacked definitive proof of Iran's intentions.

Obama wasted the first two years of his administration attempting to charm the Iranians out of their nuclear weapons program. He stubbornly ignored the piles of evidence presented to him by Israel that Iran was not interested in cutting a deal.

Perhaps Obama was relying on the US's 2007 National Intelligence Estimate about Iran's nuclear weapons program. As Israel said at the time, and as this week's IAEA report proves, it was the NIE - which claimed that Iran abandoned its nuclear weapons program in 2003 - not Israel that deliberately lied about the status of Iran's nuclear weapons program. It was the US intelligence community that purposely deceived the American government and people about the gravest immediate threat to US national security.

Israel, including Netanyahu, was telling the truth.

So if Netanyahu never lied about Iran, what might these two major world leaders think he lies about? Why don't they want to speak with him anymore? Could it be they don't like the way he is managing their beloved "peace process" with the Palestinians? The fact is that the only times Netanyahu has spoken less than truthfully about the Palestinians were those instances when he sought to appease the likes of Obama and Sarkozy. Only when Netanyahu embraced the false claims of the likes of Obama and Sarkozy that it is possible to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians based on the establishment of an independent Palestinian state west of the Jordan River could it be said that he made false statements.

Because the truth is that Israel never had a chance of achieving peace with the Palestinians.

And the reason this has always been the case has nothing to do with Netanyahu or Israel.

THERE WAS never any chance for peace because the Palestinians have no interest in making peace with Israel. As the West's favorite Palestinian "moderate," Fatah leader and Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas said in an interview with Egypt's Dream TV on October 23, "I've said it before and I'll say it again. I will never recognize the 'Jewishness' of the State [of Israel] or a 'Jewish state.'" That is, Abbas will never make peace with Israel.

Acknowledging this, on Tuesday Netanyahu reportedly told his colleagues that through their recent actions, the Palestinians have abrogated the foundations of the peace process. As he put it, "By boycotting negotiations and by going instead to the United Nations [to achieve independent statehood], they [the Palestinians] have reneged on a central tenet of Oslo."

That tenet, which formed the basis of the Oslo peace process, was "land for peace."

As Netanyahu explained, Israel gave up land within the framework of the Oslo Accords. In exchange the Palestinians committed to resolve their conflict with Israel through direct negotiations that would lead to peace. Their UN gambit, like Abbas's statement to Egyptian television, shows that the Palestinians - not Israel - have been lying all along. They pocketed Israel's territorial concessions and refused to make peace.

So why do the likes of Sarkozy and Obama hate Netanyahu? Why is he "a liar?" Why don't they pour out their venom on Abbas, who really does lie to them on a regular basis? The answer is because they prefer to blame Israel rather than acknowledge that their positive assessments of the Palestinians are nothing more than fantasy.

And they are not alone. The Western preference for fantasy over reality was given explicit expression by former US president Bill Clinton in September.

In an ugly diatribe against Netanyahu at his Clinton Global Initiative Conference, Clinton insisted that the PA under Abbas was "pro-peace" and that the only real obstacle to a deal was Netanyahu. Ironically, at the same time Clinton was attacking Israel's leader for killing the peace process, Abbas was at the UN asking the Security Council to accept as a full member an independent Palestine in a de facto state of war with Israel.

So, too, while Clinton was blaming him for the failure of the peace process, Netanyahu was at the UN using his speech to the General Assembly to issue yet another plea to Abbas to renew peace talks with Israel.

Clinton didn't exhaust his ammunition on Netanyahu. He saved plenty for the Israeli people as well. Ignoring the inconvenient fact that the Palestinians freely elected Hamas to lead them, Clinton provided his audience with a bigoted taxonomy of the Israeli public through which he differentiated the good, "pro-peace Israelis," from the bad, "anti-peace," Israelis.

As he put it, "The most pro-peace Israelis are the Arabs; second the Sabras, the Jewish Israelis that were born there; third, the Ashkenazis of longstanding, the European Jews who came there around the time of Israel's founding."

As for the bad Israelis, in the view of the former president, "The most anti-peace are the ultra-religious who believe they're supposed to keep Judea and Samaria, and the settler groups, and what you might call the territorialists, the people who just showed up lately and they're not encumbered by the historical record."

BY RANKING the worthiness of Israel's citizens in accordance with whether or not they agree with Clinton and his friends, Clinton was acting in line with what has emerged as standard operating practice of Israel's "friends" in places such as Europe and the US. Like Clinton, they too think it is their right to pick and choose which Israelis are acceptable and which are unworthy.

On Wednesday we saw this practice put into play by British Ambassador Matthew Gould. This week the Knesset began deliberations on a bill that would prohibit foreign governments and international agencies from contributing more than NIS 20,000 to Israeli nongovernmental organizations. The bill was introduced by Likud MK Ofir Okunis with Netanyahu's support.

According to Haaretz, Gould issued a thinly veiled threat to Okunis related to the bill. Gould reportedly said that if the bill is passed, it would reflect badly on Israel in the international community.

Last month, Makor Rishon published a British government document titled, "NGOs in the Middle East Funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office."

The document showed that in 2010, outside of Iraq, the British government gave a total of £100,000 to pro-democracy NGOs throughout the Arab world.

In contrast to Britain's miserly attitude towards Arab civil society organizations, Her Majesty's Government gave more than £600,000 pounds to farleftist Israeli NGOs. These Israeli groups included the Economic Cooperation Foundation, Yesh Din, Peace Now, Ir Amim and Gisha. All of these groups are far beyond Israeli mainstream opinion.

All seek to use international pressure on Israel to force the government to adopt policies rejected by the vast majority of the public.

So for every pound Britain forked out to cultivate democracy in 20 Arab non-democracies, it spent £6 to undermine democracy in Israel - the region's only democracy.

And the British couldn't be more pleased with the return on their investment. Speaking to Parliament last year, Britain's Minister of Middle East Affairs Alistair Burt said the money has successfully changed Israeli policies. As he put it, "Since we began supporting these programs some significant changes have been made in the Israeli justice system, both civilian and military, and in the decisions they make. They have also raised a significant debate about these matters and we believe these activities will strengthen democracy in Israel."

In other words, as far as Britain is concerned, "strengthening democracy" in Israel means tipping the scales in favor of marginal groups with no noticeable domestic constituency.

These shockingly hostile statements echo one made by then-presidential candidate Obama from the campaign trail in February 2008. At the time Obama said, "I think there is a strain within the pro-Israel community that says unless you adopt a[n] unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel that you're anti-Israel, and that can't be the measure of our friendship with Israel."

Scarcely a day goes by when some foreign leader, commentator or activist doesn't say that being pro-Israel doesn't mean being pro-Israeli government. And like Obama's campaign-trail statement, Clinton's diatribe, Sarkozy and Obama's vile gossip about Netanyahu and Britain's self-congratulatory declarations and veiled threats, those who make a distinction between the Israeli people and the Israeli government ignore two important facts.

First, Israel is a democracy. Its governments reflect the will of the Israeli people and therefore, are inseparable from the people. If you harbor contempt for Israel's elected leaders, then by definition you harbor contempt for the Israeli public.

And this makes you anti-Israel.

The second fact these statements ignore is that Israel is the US's and Europe's stalwart ally. If Sarkozy and Obama had said what they said about Netanyahu in a conversation about German Chancellor Angela Merkel, or if Netanyahu had made similar statements about Obama or Sarkozy, the revelation of the statements would have sparked international outcries of indignation and been roundly condemned from all quarters.

And this brings us to the other troubling aspect of Sarkozy and Obama's nasty exchange about Netanyahu. Their views reflect a wider anti-Israel climate.

Outside the Jewish world, Sarkozy's and Obama's hateful, false statements about their ally provoked no outrage. Indeed, it took the media three days to even report their conversation. This indicates that Obama and Sarkozy aren't alone in holding Israel to a double standard. They aren't the only ones blaming Israel for the Palestinians' bad behavior.

The Western media also holds Israel to a separate standard. Like Obama and Sarkozy, the media blame Israel and its elected leaders for the Palestinians' duplicity. Like Obama and Sarkozy, the media blame Israel for failing to make their peace fantasies come true.

And that is the real message of the Obama- Sarkozy exchange last week. Through it we learn that blaming the Jews and the Jewish state for their enemies' behavior is what passes for polite conversation among Western elites today.

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.

Caroline Glick


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

A Study in Self-Cannibalization

by Martin Sherman

It is useless for the sheep to pass resolutions in favor of vegetarianism, while the wolf remains of a different opinion.

W. R. Inge, dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral, 1915

Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.

– Karl Popper, On the Paradox of Tolerance, in The Open Society and Its Enemies, 1945 ...

Many Western Europeans, from the man on the street to the cop on the corner, from the politician in Parliament to the immigration official at the border, have long considered it their obligation
... to tolerate intolerance.

from “Tolerating Intolerance: The Challenge of Fundamentalist Islam in Western Europe,” Partisan Review, 2002.

Across the Western world today, political liberalism is undergoing a process of self-cannibalization. It is being devoured by the very values which made it into arguably the most successful and influential socio-political doctrine in modern history.

At the very minimum, it is being complicit in actively facilitating its own demise though an unrestrained and undiscerning compulsion to apply these values universally – even when such application is not only inappropriate but detrimental to those values.

Acknowledging diversity is... diverse
Devotees of political liberalism fervently advocate – quite correctly – the need to acknowledge the diversity of humanity and to accept the existence of those different from us, i.e., the “Other.”

However, they then go on to advocate – with equal fervor – something that in effect empties the previous acknowledgment of all significance, i.e., that we relate to all the diverse “Others” as equals.

For what is the point of acknowledging diversity if we are called upon to ignore the possible ramifications of that diversity and to relate to those discernibly different from us as if they were essentially the same as us? Prima facie, this is absurdly self-contradictory.

For surely the awareness of difference raises the possibility that different attitudes (and actions) toward the “Other” may be called for.

Although acknowledging diversity necessarily negates equality, this does not a priori mean that “Ours” is morally superior to “Theirs” – although the plausible assumption is that “We” have a subjective preference for “Ours” over “Theirs.”

This, of course, might entail certain practical ramifications for the preservation of “Ours” lest it be consumed by “Theirs” – depending on “Their” appetites and aspirations.

‘Us’ as an item on ‘Their menu
As the foregoing citation from W.R. Inge underscores, it would be injudicious to relate to carnivores and herbivores with an undiscriminating sense of egalitarianism. Indeed, if one is not mindful of the differences between oneself and the “Other” (say with regard to dietary preferences or predatory predilections), disaster may well be unavoidable.

Note that making such a diagnosis of difference does not necessarily imply a value judgment as to the relative moral merits of eating flesh or eating grass. However, operationally, it is a distinction that is essential for the preservation of grass-grazers and – and no less pointedly – for the shepherd charged with their welfare.

For no matter how sympathetic to, or appreciative of, the untamed majesty of predators one might be, the fate of the flock is likely to be grim if it is left to graze in wolffrequented territory with nothing more coercive to protect it than an appeal for understanding.

Now while I do not wish to push Inge’s ovine-lupine analogy too far, those who would dismiss it as overly facile would do well to recall that political liberalism has faced several challenges in the last century from adversaries which could plausibly be viewed as predatory.

It has had to contend with ideologies that were totalitarian, expansionary and irreconcilably inimical to its core values of socio-cultural tolerance and individual liberty.

The ‘Other’ as... ‘Other’ There was, for example, the kinetic clash with Nazism and the ideological clash with Communism. Political liberalism withstood them and prevailed.

It is facing another fateful encounter in this century: The existential clash with Islamism – a foe not less totalitarian, no less expansionary and no less irreconcilably inimical to its core values.

It is far from certain that this time it will prevail.

The major source of peril today is the reluctance – indeed the resolute refusal – to acknowledge the emerging threat. True, there were sympathizers in the West for both the Nazi and Soviet causes, which although they viewed themselves as antithetically adversarial to each other, both strove to eliminate our democratic freedoms and way of life.

However, the denial we are witnessing today seems qualitatively different. Leading liberal opinion-makers in mainstream intellectual establishment appear totally incapable of conceiving (or at least, totally unwilling to acknowledge that they are capable of conceiving) of the “Other” as anything but a darker skin-toned version of themselves – with perhaps somewhat more exotic tastes in dress and a greater penchant for spicy food, but with essentially the same value system as theirs, or at least one not significantly incompatible with it.

Indeed, there seems to be an overriding inability to admit the possibility that the “Other” is in fact fundamentally different – i.e., genuinely “Other” – and may hold entirely different beliefs as to what is good and bad, what is legitimate and what is not.

A catastrophic corruption of the discourse
It is of little practical consequence whether this is the product of an overbearing intellectual arrogance, which precludes the possibility of any alternative value system, or of an underlying moral cowardice, which precludes the will to defend the validity of one’s own value system.

The result is the ongoing retreat from the defense of liberty and tolerance in the face of an ever-emboldened, intolerant Muslim militancy – not only across the Islamic world but within the urban heart of many Western nations as well.

Even more serious, it has undermined the capacity for honest debate, for accurate assessment of strategic geopolitical shifts... and for formulating timely and effective responses to deal with them.

Take the Arab Spring, for example, which much of the mainstream media heralded as the dawning of a new spirit of freedom and enlightenment from the Maghreb to the Persian Gulf. Almost a year since it began, the results are hardly cause for optimism. In Tunisia and Libya, Islamist governments have been ensconced by popular vote. In other countries, such as in Egypt, the religious fundamentalists has been hugely empowered; in yet others, such as Syria and Bahrain, similar outcomes have only been avoided – so far – by wholesale massacres.

Nothing that has occurred – or been prevented from occurring – seems to vaguely justify the rosy forecast that accompanied the initial stages of revolt as to the imminent emergence of Arab regimes founded on values and systems analogous to those of Western democracy.

None of this should have been unexpected.

The facts were available for anyone willing to recognize them. On the verge of the Arab Spring (December 2101), the respected Pew Research Center conducted a survey of popular opinion in several Muslim countries.

The two countries included in the poll with relevance for the Arab Spring were Egypt and Jordan. In both, massive majorities (over 70 percent on average for Jordan and over 80% for Egypt) supported:
• execution by stoning for adultery;
• whippings or amputation of hands for theft and robbery; and
• the death penalty for those who leave the Muslim religion.

This then was the broad-based value system of the masses who drove the popular uprisings across the Arab world, despite the external trappings of modernity, despite the tweets, the smart phones and the social network connections.

It is a safe bet that had such a poll been conducted in the EU, North America or Australasia the findings would have been radically different.

So perhaps it is time that we begin to recognize that the “Other” really is the “Other.”

Orwellian mind-control tactics
The politically correct endeavor to shy away from harsh truths has introduced an almost Orwellian atmosphere of 1984 mind control into the debate on the ramifications of Islam for political liberalism.

Pronouncements almost on a par with the “War is Peace,” “Freedom is Slavery” and “Ignorance is Strength” employed by The Party to control the dystopian state of Oceania in George Orwell’s classic novel of pervasive dictatorship are emerging with disturbing frequency.

For example, US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper in effect pronounced that “religious fundamentalism is secular” when he characterized the radical Muslim Brotherhood as an organization that is “largely secular.”

A similar instance of convoluted, nonsensical gobbledygook came from the Obama administration’s homeland security adviser James O. Brennan, when he made the astounding claim that accurately defining the threat would exacerbate it: “Nor do we describe our enemy as jihadists or Islamists, because jihad is a holy struggle. [C]haracterizing our adversaries this way would actually be counterproductive,” he said.

So by reorganizing the rhetoric we will somehow dispel the misperceptions, from which the planners/perpetrators of wholesale carnage in the name of Islam apparently suffer, as to the sources of their beliefs and the nature of their motivations? But perhaps the pinnacle of Orwellian endeavor came from then-British home secretary Jacqui Smith, who took it upon herself to bring home to radicalized UK Muslims that they were not who they thought they were. In a breathtaking stroke of self-contradictory double talk, she presumed to dub the acts of terrorism perpetrated by Islamists in the name of Islam as “anti-Islamic activity.”

Her 2009 interview with Der Spiegel was shockingly reminiscent of the "mind control through language” policy employed by Orwell’s Big Brother and his omnipresent Party.

Clearly in an intellectual climate such as this – where truth is condemned and dismissed as politically incorrect hate speech – no effective response can be marshaled against the gathering storm facing Western civilization and the values of political liberalism that underpin it.

Menace of Muhammadanism: Prescient premonitions
Such reticence and evasion was not always prevalent. In an era long before political correctness crippled the ability to articulate the truth in the public sphere, far-sighted men warned of the impending clash.

Thus seven decades ago, Hilaire Belloc, the prominent Anglo-French writer and historian, raised the trenchant question: “Will not perhaps the temporal power of Islam return and with it the menace of an armed Muhammadan world... reappear again as the prime enemy of our civilization?” (The Great Heresies, 1938) He was not alone in his sense of foreboding.

In the first edition of his The River War, published in 1899, Winston Churchill set out a withering critique of the effect Islam has on its followers, its debilitating effect on economies of nations that embrace it, and the enslavement of its luckless women.

While he admits that “individual Muslims may show splendid qualities,” he contrasts this with realities on collective level, where “the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it.”

Few who page through the latest Arab Human Development Report sponsored by the United Nations Development Program and independently authored by intellectuals and scholars from Arab countries, would dispute this today.

Churchill goes on to warn: “No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Muhammadanism is a militant and proselytizing faith... and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science... the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.”

But how long will the West remain “cradled in the strong arms of science?” Might this question not help concentrate minds over the latest IAEA report on Iran’s nuclear program?

Let me conclude with the observations of a gay intellectual regarding the propagation of Islam in Europe, where private Islamic academies – subsidized by European governments – “reinforce the Koran-based...

morality learned at home that prescribes severe penalties for female adulterers and rape victims (though not necessarily for rapists), and that demands... that homosexuals be put to death.”

With some foreboding he remarks: “If fundamentalist Muslims in Europe do not carry out these punishments, it is not because they’ve advanced beyond such thinking, but because they don’t have the power.”

Not yet.

Dr. Martin Sherman


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

Security and Defense: Playing the Waiting Game

by Yaakov Katz

Israel has now entered a waiting period. While just a week ago it seemed like fueled and armed Israel Air Force fighter jets were lining up on runways, ready to bomb Iran, this week they have been stored back in their concrete hangers to fight another day.

The immediate impact of the International Atomic Energy Agency report released on Tuesday is that, for now, an Israeli strike on Iran will move to the back burner and instead Jerusalem will give the world some time to impose tougher sanctions on Iran.

Whether or not this will happen is another question, but either way Israel will likely want to appear to be playing ball with the world and will therefore give it some time. This way, if sanctions are not imposed or they are not successful, Israel will be able to say to its allies: “We gave you a chance and now we have no choice but to act.”

How long will Israel wait? Likely a few months. On the other hand, the Iranians – angered by the report – could call Israel's bluff and decide to begin enriching uranium to military grade levels and building the bomb. If this happens, then a military strike will return to the forefront as the countdown to Iran becoming a nuclear power moves faster than before.

Iran has mastered the fuel enrichment stage of its nuclear program, having proven its ability to enrich uranium to as high as 20 percent and having already enriched around five tons of low-enriched uranium, which could be enough for two to three nuclear weapons. General assessments are that it would take Iran just a few months to enrich a sufficient quantity of uranium to over the 90% that would be required for one nuclear device.

If the Iranians were working simultaneously on building a weapon, it could take them up to a year to make a crude device, one that could be tested. After that, it could take another year or two to make a weapon that could be installed on the wing of an aircraft or on a long-range ballistic missile.

In general in Israel, there are two primary schools of thought on the IAEA report. There are those who believe that the report will not make a difference and that Israel will ultimately be left on its own to stop Iran if it so desires.

On the other hand, there are those who believe that the world will take the report seriously and will use it to ratchet up sanctions and possibly even take military action.

While US President Barack Obama is believed to be someone who will steer clear of another war in the Middle East, his decision to lead the bombings in Libya could indicate that this might be a misperception.

Some Israelis believe that American military action is a possibility and that even a credible threat of such action could succeed in getting the Iranians to change course.

Vice Premier Moshe Ya’alon, for example, frequently refers to the need to establish a credible military threat against Iran. Ya’alon cites Iran’s decision to suspend all of its nuclear activities in 2003 when the US invaded Iraq and Tehran thought it was next in line. Today, it does not seem to think that there is a real threat.

If Obama issued such a threat or made it clear in other ways – for example by building up a significant US military presence in the Persian Gulf – Israel would likely put its bunker-buster missiles back in storage to wait to see how the American move plays out.

If all of this does not happen though, Israel will need to make a decision: to live with a nuclear Iran or to try and stop it and pay the price of the ensuing war.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak tried to downplay the significance of that future war in his lengthy radio interview with Yaron Dekel on Reshet Bet on Tuesday.

“There is no way to prevent some damage. It will not be pleasant,” Barak said. “There is no scenario for 50,000 dead, or 5,000 killed – and if everyone stays in their homes, maybe not even 500 dead.”

If that is the case Barak seemed to be saying, attacking Iran might not be such a bad idea. This does not necessarily mean that Barak would automatically support an attack plan in a future cabinet vote. It all depends on future developments.

No matter what happens though, if Israel decides to go it alone against Iran, it will probably not ask the US for permission – not for a green light, a red light or a yellow light – like it did in the two previous instances it bombed a nuclear reactor.

The first time, in 1981 in Iraq, drew strong American criticism and a decision by the White House to delay the delivery of fighter jets to Israel. In 2007 when it bombed Syria, Israel had reportedly discussed the option with the US, preferring the US to take action instead. Once then-president George Bush decided not to – as he attested in his recent memoirs – prime minister Ehud Olmert decided to attack anyway.

The Iranian case this time is different. Iran has learned the lessons from both 1981 and 2007 and has dispersed its facilities and placed some of its key components – like its centrifuges at Natanz – inside underground and heavily fortified bunkers.

Nevertheless, the prevailing assessment among Israeli defense experts is that a military option is viable for the IDF and could cause Iran damage sufficient to set back its nuclear program. For how long? Estimates range from one to three years.

In general, there are three major challenges to an Israeli strike against Iran.

First is the intelligence question: does Israel know about all of the various nuclear facilities that would need to be destroyed? Second is the location of the facilities, particularly those that are located next to large population centers, attacks on which could cause major collateral damage. Third is the hardening of the facilities, some of which were built in heavily fortified underground bunkers and others which are surrounded by advanced Russian-made air-defense systems.

In 2006, Ya’alon provided some unique insight into a potential Israeli attack plan against Iran. Speaking at the Hudson Institute, Ya’alon, who was then on sabbatical at a US think tank, said that Israel would need to attack a few dozen sites and that the strikes would need to be “precise, like a targeted killing.”

Israel, he added, would also have to “disrupt” Iran’s air-defense systems, which could be done using other capabilities, not just aircraft. Ya’alon could have been referring to Israel’s ballistic missile capability, the use of cruise missiles fired from Israel’s Dolphin-class submarines or electronic warfare systems that could neutralize the ground-based radars.

“Such a strike would be difficult to carry out from a military perspective, as Iran's nuclear facilities are spread out, but it is nonetheless feasible,” he was quoted as saying.

Israel, though, would first have to overcome Iranian combat aircraft, most of which are outdated American and French planes purchased during the days of the Shah and before the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Iran is widely estimated to have around 160 operational combat aircraft and while these could pose a challenge, the outdated planes will not create a direct threat to Israeli or American pilots flying in the most advanced aircraft in the world today.

The second line of Iran’s defense is its surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) which it significantly upgraded throughout the 2000s mostly by purchasing Russian-made air defense systems.

The main problem is simply getting to Iran. Nevertheless, according to most estimates by international think tanks, Israeli F-15 and F-16 aircraft are capable of longrange missions with a combat radius that includes Iran. The combat radius could be increased further by using the IAF's fleet of Boeing 707 air-to-air refueling tankers to nurse attack planes as they make the flight to Iran and back.

But what would the potential targets be? Of known Iranian nuclear sites, there are approximately five key facilities that would likely be targeted in a preemptive strike. The first is Bushehr, the light-water reactor built along the coast of the Persian Gulf in southwestern Iran. The next facility is the heavy-water plant under construction near the town of Arak, which could be used one day to produce plutonium, another track for developing a nuclear weapon. Then there is Iran’s Uranium Conversion Facility, located at the Isfahan Nuclear Technology Center. Based on satellite imagery the facility is aboveground, although some reports have suggested tunneling near the complex.

Another target is the Fordo Facility near the city of Qom, which Iran officially revealed to the IAEA in September 2009 even though the major Western intelligence agencies already knew about it. The facility, which was expected to hold about 3,000 centrifuges, will be difficult to penetrate because it was built into a mountain. Lastly, there is the main Iranian uranium enrichment facility in Natanz. The complex consists of two large halls dug somewhere between eight and 23 feet below ground and covered by several layers of concrete and metal.

If they were to attack, military planners would probably try to destroy Iran’s centrifuge fabrication sites to make it difficult for Iran to rebuild its program, as well as Iranian radar stations, missile bases, silos and launchers to minimize Iran’s ability to strike back with long-range missiles.

Some officials have also called for bombing Iran’s oil fields and energy infrastructure.

The loss of the country’s main source of income could potentially cause the regime to rethink its nuclear stance and make it difficult to finance the rebuilding of the destroyed facilities.

On the other hand, attacking the oil fields would likely lead to an immediate climb in the price of oil worldwide and Israel would lose a lot of sympathy from the international community.

Now, however, it is Israel’s time to sit, wait and see what the world does and whether it will be spared having to deal on its own with one of the greatest challenges it has faced since its establishment 63 years ago.

Yaakov Katz


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

The Middle East Studies Establishment vs. Walid Phares

by Cinnamon Stillwell

When Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney announced last month that Walid Phares -- a Lebanese-American Christian, adjunct professor of jihadist global strategies at the National Defense University, and former Middle East studies professor at Florida Atlantic University -- would be a special adviser on the Middle East and North Africa, it elicited howls of fury from the usual suspects. Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) -- an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation Hamas funding case and the chief Islamist organ in the U.S. -- sent a letter to the Romney campaign stating CAIR's predictable objections, while publications such as the Daily Beast,, and Mother Jones followed suit with error-filled hit pieces.

Phares's moral clarity on Islamism and jihadism do not sit well with those who would rather engage in apologetics and obstructionism. This explains why his fiercest opponents have included some of the worst from the field of Middle East studies.

California State University, Stanislaus political science professor and "Angry Arab" blogger As'ad AbuKhalil, writing for, blamed Phares's appointment on "the Israel lobby and its affiliates," claimed that his "writings are only relevant to Zionist discourse and polemics," and concluded that "when the appointment of Israeli experts on terrorism is not possible, a man like Phares is the second best choice."

AbuKhalil's hostility towards Israel -- and hence, towards anyone who isn't an anti-Zionist fanatic -- is well-established. He accused President Obama, of all people, of giving "free reign to the Zionist lobby" in a 2010 Al Jazeera television interview. Speaking in April 2011, he ranted:

[N]ever will we recognize the Zionist State of Israel! ... The Arab World will never prosper until the Zionist regime is removed! ... We celebrate the demise of Israel; yes, Israel, your days are truly numbered!

AbuKhalil paints Phares's early years in Lebanon as those of a right-wing, Christian militant -- charges that have been repeated by many of Phares's opponents, despite being debunked on numerous occasions. Yet it turns out that AbuKhalil may have questionable allegiances of his own. According to John Hajjar at Family Security Matters, AbuKhalil "is known in the Lebanese and Middle Eastern American communities as the mouthpiece of [Hezbollah secretary general] Hassan Nasrallah in the world of petrodollar-funded Middle East studies."

Ebrahim Moosa, associate professor of Islamic studies at Duke University, told the Daily Beast's McKay Coppins that Phares "is hostile to Muslims and Romney has adopted an expert who is going to alienate him from a good section of the voting public." This coming from a man who downplayed the dangers of Saudi funding for higher education by telling the Charlotte Observer in February 2010 that "Wahhabism is like the Baptists; it's kind of a denomination of sorts that started out in Saudi Arabia." Similarly, Moosa, speaking at a University of California, Berkeley workshop in May 2011, and as described by journalist Stephen Schwartz, "defended Deobandism, the madrassa-based radical ideology that inspires the Taliban."

Omid Safi, a professor of Islamic studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill who was quoted in the same Daily Beast article, declared the Phares appointment a "pathetic reflection on Governor Romney to have surrounded himself with such a person for advice on the Middle East and Islam" and likened it "to turning to [former KKK leader] David Duke to get advice on race relations."

Safi is accustomed to making these sorts of inflammatory accusations. In a 2005 article, Safi labeled the isolated prisoner abuse at Abu Graib prison in Iraq "a continuation of twenty years of American foreign policy centered on dehumanizing Muslims." In April 2010, he falsely claimed that Islam scholar Robert Spencer "threatened me and my family with death" in a Facebook message. The recipient's Facebook account was later disabled with no explanation, and although Spencer called Safi out for defamation, Safi never retracted the claim, nor did the university take action.

In fact, Phares's views are not hostile to Muslims, nor biased toward Israel. Rather, Phares is a scholar who advocates pluralism as the most effective means of triumphing over extremism, tribalism, and Islamic supremacism in the Middle East. He also calls out those in the West, and particularly in academia, who would point the finger at America, Israel, Christians, and Jews. This may be why, as claimed by AbuKhalil at, "Phares has not been seen in Middle East Studies conferences for many years." The Middle East studies establishment -- and especially its leading body, the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) -- is not particularly welcoming to academics who stray from the post-colonial, Edward Said-originated Orientalist narrative.

As Phares put it in his 2007 book, The War of Ideas: Jihadism Against Democracy:

In the West, the central battlefields over the perception of the world remain academic and educational... Even as the war with Jihadism is raging in the real world, and America is facing off with the most dangerous enemy infiltration it has ever known, the bulk of its students are being educated today by an elite that refuses to teach the real history and politics of the jihadists.

Fortunately, we have academics such as Phares himself and alternatives to MESA such as the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa (ASMEA), for which he often lectures, to help turn the tide. The usual suspects should indeed be afraid.

Cinnamon Stillwell is the West Coast representative for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum. She can be reached at


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

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Jihad Forever

by Mordechai Kedar


Jihad is mentioned in the Kor'an many times, and Muslims are called to jihad for the sake of Allah "with their property and their lives", i.e. to sacrifice even that which is most precious to them in order to promote the goals of Islam and to impose them on the infidels "in order that the word of Allah will be uppermost, and the word of the infidel will be beneath."

Jihad is intended both to defend Islam against foreigners who tirelessly plot against it, and as an offensive operation to spread Islam and impose it by the sword, if needed, upon anyone who does not convert to Islam willingly. Muhammad is quoted thus: "I received a commandment to fight with the people until they testify that there is no G-d but Allah and that Muhammad is his emissary, pray and give zakat [charity] and if they do this, I will spare their blood and their property". After the death of Muhammad (632 CE), some of the tribes abandoned Islam, and the first caliphs waged bitter battles against them in order to force them to return to the bosom of Islam. Afterwards Bedouin armies burst out of the desert towards the fertile and rich countries of the Levant, conquered them with fury and forced millions of people to convert to Islam by the sword.

With the passing of years, and after the consolidation of the Islamic Empire in the conquered territories from Indonesia in the East to Morocco in the West, the emphasis evolved from conquest to management of the country, from the imposition of Islam to economic management. The Muslims needed the services of people of other ethnicities and faiths - Persians, Jews, Christians - for translation and scientific work: architects, engineers, astronomers, economists, chemists, and therefore they abandoned jihad against these people and preferred to leave them be

Modern Jihad

The Islamic Revolution of 1979 in Shi'ite Iran stirred up the idea of struggle against heresy in the Sunni world as well. In 1980 an Egyptian named Muhammad 'abd al-Salam Faraj published a book by the name of "al-Faridah al-Ghaiba", "The Hidden Commandment", which everyone avoids implementing. He was referring to the commandment of jihad. In his short but monumental book, the writer proves, according to Islamic sources, that it is incumbent upon each Muslim to live in a perpetual state of jihad against heretics, but not only against them: also against Muslims who serve the actions and even the words of heretics.

One year after the publication of this book the president of Egypt, Anwar al-Sadat, was murdered, and the prosecution attributed to Faraj a significant part of the incitement to murdering the president. In 1982 he was tried, convicted and executed for incitement to murder al-Sadat. The Egyptian government indeed eliminated Faraj, but did not succeed in putting to rest the idea that a Muslim is obligated to live in a state of constant, eternal jihad.

Jihad is a continuous and permanent rebellion against settling into a routine, against surrender to everyday needs, against compromising the goal, even temporarily. The leader of the Egyptian Jihad organization, which was established in order to support this idea, is Ayman al-Zawahiri, the deputy and substitute for Osama Bin Laden. They raised the idea of unending jihad to an international, global level

The Palestinian Version

The Palestinian organization Islamic Jihad was established in 1980, one year after the Iranian Revolution and seven years before the founding of Hamas, in order to implement Faraj's idea in Palestine. The battle in this case is against Israel, without any connection to its borders, since, according to the organization, the Jewish State has no right to exist at all. The ultimate goal of the organization is to establish a state according to Islamic law, upon the ruins of Israel, and along with Israel to eliminate all the other organizations, principally the PLO, which has stopped waging battle with Israel and has entered into negotiations with her.

Islamic Jihad even has ideological arguments with Hamas, because Hamas sees its purpose not only as active jihad against Israel but in a wider framework: the building of an Islamic society, education, welfare, Islamization of the public sphere, establishment of government institutions, even the establishment of a state, while the active jihad against Israel and her collaborators can - according to Hamas - wait if it is necessary. Jihad is not willing to accept "state building" in Gaza as a reason to suspend the battle, and this is the focal point of disagreement with the Hamas movement, which weighs the battle with Israel against constraints arising from being a governing movement, since June 2007, when it took control of the Gaza Strip by force.

Islamic Jihad also differs with Hamas on political matters: According to Islamic Jihad, because the Oslo Agreements were born in sin against Islam, the PLO and its institutions have no Islamic legitimacy, so they don’t compete for seats in its legislative assembly. On the contrary, the leaders of Hamas decided in 2005, after the expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif, that the time was right to pick the political fruit of their battle, in the form of seats in the legislative assembly, so they ran in the elections of January 2006 and won a majority of the seats. Islamic Jihad objects to any activity within the framework of the Palestinian Authority, which was born in the sin of recognition of Israel and signing the Oslo Accords, while Hamas, despite its objection to the Accords, didn't hesitate to take advantage of the institutions that were established as a result, in order to take control of the Palestinian arena.

Hamas weighs the timing of the battle with Israel on the changing balance of its interests: If, during a certain period, it's important to achieve relaxation with Israel in order to better base the control in Gaza, then the struggle against Israel can wait a little. Islamic Jihad is not willing to consider this, because for them the struggle is fundamental, absolute, existential and continuous, and supercedes everything else.

History of the Organization

The Palestinian organization Islamic Jihad was established by Dr. Fathi Shikaki in 1980, inspired by the Egyptian Jihad and the revolution of Khomeini in Iran. The beginning was in Egypt, at the University of the City of Zakazik, which is a center of radical Islamist activity. The founder, Dr. Shikaki, and his friend and later his successor Dr. Ramadan Abdallah Shalah were medical students at the time. It is important to emphasize that they were not poor, not ignorant and not unemployed, and so the founding of the organization and devout adherence to its principle of jihad can not be attributed to poverty, ignorance or unemployment; on the contrary: it is the educated and the doctors who are especially prominent within the organizations of Islamic struggle: Ayman Al-Zawahiri, from the Egyptian Jihad organization, Abd al-'Aziz al-Rantisi and Mahmud al-Zahhar, Hamas leaders - are all doctors, well-educated, not ignorant and not indigent.

After finishing his studies, Shikaki returned to Gaza, and began to establish the organization in order to implement the concept of jihad. The religious personality who gave the organization its "halachic" seal of approval was then Sheikh 'Abd al-'Aziz 'Odeh from the Jabaliya refugee camp. It's important to note that in the beginning of the 1980s Hamas did not yet exist as a militant movement. In Gaza there was an Islamic Charity movement, "al-Majma' al-Islami" which operated within the population similar to the style of the "Muslim Brotherhood" in order to build a Muslim society "from the bottom up". In the view of Islamic Jihad, this is a waste of time and resources, for all forces must be dedicated and directed to one sole goal, the ongoing and uncompromising battle with Israel, and any other goal - as important as it may seem, like education and welfare - is nothing but diversion of efforts and resources in the wrong direction.

With the breaking out of the Intifada in 1987 the activists of Islamic Jihad placed themselves at the front of the action. The people of "al-Majma'" joined in after a few days and established the "Islamic Resistance Movement – Hamas", and until today the people of Islmaic Jihad accuse Hamas of being an opportunistic organization which "took a tramp" on the Intifada and took it over, while Islamic Jihad was the group that created it.

In 1988 Shikaki was exiled to Lebanon, where he began his connection with the Arab and Islamist interface, Syria and Iran, by means of Hizballah, which was based at the time in Lebanon as part of the battle with Israeli forces, which were deployed at the time in the South of the country.

Islamic Jihad copied the example of suicide missions that Hizballah developed, and implemented them in Gaza, Judea and Samaria. Its most prominent action was the double attack at the Sharon Junction in January 1995 in which 21 Israeli soldiers and one civilian were killed. Dr. Shikaki was eliminated in Malta nine months after the attack, and evil tongues claim that Israel was behind the elimination. His successor was Dr. Ramadan Abdallah Shalah, who minimizes his exposure in the world and prefers to take shelter in Damascus.

During the second Intifada the organization carried out more than 400 acts of terror which caused more than 140 Israeli fatalities and several hundred wounded. The organization's main stronghold was in Jenin, and this stronghold acted without interference until operation "Defensive Wall" in April 2002. The main operatives in Samaria were Iyyad Hadran, Wa'il 'Asaf, Asad Dana, Mahmoud Talba, Thabet Mardawi and 'Ali al-Safouri. The most prominent attack of the Jihad infrastructure in Samaria was that which Hanadi Jardat carried out at Maxim's Restaurant situated at the entrance to Haifa, in which 21 Israeli men, women and children were killed.

The organization also had a presence in the Hebron area, under the leadership of Mahmoud Sider and Diab Shwiki, who launched suicide attacks mainly in the Jerusalem area. The attack in the "Worshippers' Path" in Hebron, in which the division commander of Judea, Gen. Dror Weinbreg, was killed (November 2002) was inspired by Mahmud Sider.

International Involvement

The "Palestinian Islamic Jihad" organization caught the attention of radical haters of Israel, principal among them the Iranians. They took advantage of the fact that the organization doesn't have a social agenda or aspirations to rule, and they used it mainly in order to interfere with the order that the PLO was trying to impose on the territories of the Palestinian Authority. Today Iran is doing the same thing, but against Hamas, which has, in recent years - since it took control of Gaza in 2007 - turned into a ruling movement that has taken a break from jihad in order to fortify the systems of the state that it established in the Gaza Strip.

The money, weapons and missiles that Islamic Jihad has accumulated enables them to pose a severe challenge to Hamas: On one hand Islamic Jihad can upset normal life in Gaza by means of uncontrolled shooting into Israel, and while the Hamas government can - if it wants to - defeat the Jihad by vigorous and continuous action, Hamas would then be perceived as an "Israeli Security Organization" and would be subjected to media attacks similar to that which the PLO took, after signing security agreements with Israel. So the leaders of Hamas try to reach agreements with the heads of Islamic Jihad, such that on one hand, Hamas will be able to run the state of "Hamastan" in Gaza, and on the other hand freedom of action will be maintained and Hamas will not be accused of suppressing the "resistance".

External Agenda

Currently, Syria and Iran are desperately searching for ways to distract world attention from the worsening slaughter occurring in Syria, and there's nothing better than the well-known and recognized front which is Gaza. In recent months there is bad blood between Iran and Hamas because Hamas has refused to publicly support the Syrian regime, which is fighting against its citizenry for its survival. The Egyptian involvement in the Shalit exchange "outed" the regional agents that were stirring the pot - Iran and Turkey - and Hamas proved its capability to free more than a thousand Palestinian prisoners, for which it reaped much approbation, at the expense of all other agents, including the PLO and Islamic Jihad.

The desire of the heads of Hamas to abandon Damascus and cross over to Cairo left Islamic Jihad as almost the only organization left available for a coalition with Iran / Hizballah / Syria in the Palestinian area, and so Israel's front is heating up, because for Israel to hurt Hamas is seen as the most desirable scenario to Iran and its satellites. In this way Iran can hurt Hamas without anyone being able to blame the Ayatollahs and their butcher friend from Damascus.

Israel must be wise in this situation, not only right. True, Hamas is not enthusiastically Zionist, however, in the situation in which Islamic Jihad is driven by the Syrians and Iranians to try to drag Israel into tough reactions that will harm Hamas, Israel must make every attempt to hurt Islamic Jihad instead, and to make it possible for Hamas to establish its Islamist state in Gaza. I'm not trying to give Hamas a "kosher certificate" but we must always consider the alternative: A government in Gaza that is capable of imposing law and order is better, even if it is not pleasant, than to allow factors which Iran and Syria control, to kill Jews in Ashkelon, Ashdod and the area surrounding Gaza, just so that the world will not see the fatalities in Homs, Hama, Latakia and Dar'a.

Our choice is not between the good guys and the bad guys, but between the bad guys and the worse guys. Not a simple choice, but that's how it is in the Middle East: we have to be firm and adjust our expectations to the miserable realities of the troubled area in which we are trying to establish a reasonable and fair country.

= = =

Dr. Mordechai Kedar
is an Israeli scholar of Arabic literature and a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University. He served for twenty-five years in IDF Military Intelligence, where he specialized in Islamic groups, the political discourse of Arab countries, the Arabic press and mass media, and the Syrian domestic arena.

The article is published in the framework of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel.
Translated from Hebrew to English by Sally.

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

Germans Stunned by Report on Forced Marriages

by Soeren Kern

A new report shows that thousands of young women and girls in Germany are victims of forced marriages every year.

Most of the victims come from Muslim families; many have been threatened with violence and even death.

The revelations have shocked the German public and will add to the ongoing debate in Germany over the question of Muslim immigration and the establishment of a parallel Islamic society there. The revelations will intensify an ongoing debate in Germany over Muslim immigration and the role of Islam there.

The 160-page report, entitled, "Forced Marriages in Germany: Numbers and Analysis of Counseling Cases," was commissioned by the German Federal Ministry of the Family, and made public at a news conference in Berlin on November 9.

The problem of forced marriage is evidently far more widespread than previously believed.

The study -- the first and most detailed of its kind in Germany -- reveals that in 2008, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 3,443 people sought help at counseling and social services centers across the country because they were being, or already had been, forced into marriage.

The vast majority of these victims are women or girls, although 6% are young men. Almost one-third of those forced into marriage in Germany were 17 years old or younger. Another 40% were between the ages of 18 and 21.

Many of the victims experienced extreme violence. More than half (70%) were beaten or otherwise physically abused to convince them to marry, and 27% were threatened with weapons or with death if they did not go through with the forced marriage.

The vast majority -- 83.4% -- of the victims of forced marriages were from Muslim households. Another 10% were Yazidi (a Kurdish religion) and 3.4% were Christians.

Almost all of the victims were from immigrant families, although one-third of the women and girls were born in Germany. The largest share of victims were from Turkey (23%) followed by Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Iraq and Afghanistan.

44% of the people threatened, or subjected to forced marriage, hold German passports.

The victims of forced marriage said it was their fathers who exerted the most pressure on them. The report says the educational level of the victims' fathers was below average, and nearly 90% of the victims' mothers had no formal education. In just over 6% of the cases the fathers had graduated from high school or had professional training.

The report says the primary motive for forced marriages is to "protect the image" of the family. In the case of women and girls, forced marriages are often used to stop unwanted friendships; in the case of boys, it was a reaction to the homosexuality of a child, the report says.

Germany is home to an estimated 4.3 million Muslims, including some 3.5 million Turks. Many Germans are concerned about the emergence of a parallel Muslim society in the country.

A book published in September 2011 revealed that the spread of Islamic Sharia law in Germany is far more advanced than previously thought, and that German authorities are "powerless" to do anything about the Muslim shadow justice system in Germany.

Another 236-page book, entitled "Judges Without Law: Islamic Parallel Justice Endangers Our Constitutional State," which was authored by Joachim Wagner, a German legal expert and former investigative journalist for ARD German public television, says Sharia courts are now operating in all of Germany's big cities.

This "parallel justice system" is undermining the rule of law in Germany, Wagner says, because Muslim arbiters-cum-imams are settling criminal cases out of court without the involvement of German prosecutors or lawyers before law enforcement can bring the cases to a German court.

Settlements reached by the Muslim mediators often mean perpetrators are able to avoid long prison sentences, while victims receive large sums in compensation or have their debts cancelled, in line with Sharia law, according to Wagner. In return, they are required to make sure their testimony in court does not lead to a conviction.

German police do investigate cases involving serious crimes. But parallel to that, special Muslim arbitrators, also known as "peace judges," are commissioned by the families concerned to mediate and reach an out-of-court settlement.

Germans have also been riled by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has repeatedly warned Turkish immigrants against integrating into German society and has said that Germany's insistence that immigrants who want to live in Germany must learn the German language is "against human rights."

In October 2010, the German government announced a new measure that would punish immigrants in Germany who do not attend "integration courses" to help them assimilate into German society. The law calls on authorities to verify that immigrants applying to extend their stay in Germany have taken German language classes as well as a course on German values and laws. Failure to follow these courses would mean the applicant's request could be denied.

In July 2011, an additional new law went into effect in Germany making it a criminal act punishable by up to five years in prison for people who force others into marriage. Forced marriage had already been ruled illegal under federal statutes that outlaw aggravated coercion, but the new law makes the prohibition more specific.

In Berlin, Germany's Family Minister Kristina Schröder said: "Those who force their children against their will to marry someone they do not love, or who is a complete stranger, are committing brutal violence against them."

In a country stifled by decades of multicultural ideology, however, it remains to be seen whether Germany's political and judicial establishment will actually enforce the law.

Soeren Kern is Senior Fellow for Transatlantic Relations at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group.


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