Saturday, December 10, 2011

Democracy Strikes Back

by Caroline Glick

dorit beinisch.jpg
Last Thursday, in an address before the Association for Public Law's annual conference at the Dead Sea, Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch launched an unhinged attack on the Knesset and the government.

Beinisch accused Israel's elected officials of "inciting against the judges" through their proposed legislation that would place minimal constraints on judicial power.

In her words, "For the past few years a campaign has been waged that is gaining strength whose goal is to weaken the judicial system and first and foremost the Supreme Court. This is a campaign of delegitimization being led by a number of politicians, members of Knesset and even government ministers. They provide the public with incorrect and misleading information that has deteriorated into incitement directed against the court, its members and its judicial work."

Beinisch claimed that the attempts by Israel's elected leaders to curb judicial power places the country on a slippery slope whose ultimate end is to destroy the values that underpin Israeli democracy. After she stepped down from the podium, her associates briefed journalists without attribution that Beinisch believes that the bills being debated are comparable to Nazi legislation barring Jews from the public square.

Since Beinisch's professional godfather, retired Supreme Court president Aharon Barak, enacted his "judicial revolution" in the 1990s, Israel's judicial system has been without parallel in the Western world. Under Israel's judicial selection system, judges effectively appoint themselves. And since Barak's presidency of the Supreme Court, justices have used this power to ensure ideological uniformity among their ranks. Jurists opposed to judicial activism have been largely blocked from serving on the High Court, as have jurists with non-leftist politics.

Not only do Israel's judges appoint themselves, they have empowered themselves to cancel laws of the Knesset.

Under Barak's dictatorial assertion that "everything is justiciable," the Court has given standing to parties that have no direct - and often no indirect - connections to the subjects of their petitions. In so doing, the Court has managed to place itself above the government and the Knesset.

In recent years, the Court has canceled duly legislated laws of the Knesset and lawful policies of the government and the IDF. Its decisions have involved everything from denying Jews the right to build Jewish communities on Jewish land, to requiring the state to compensate Palestinians for damages they incur while fighting Israel, to changing the route of the security barrier, to barring radio broadcasts by the right-wing Arutz Sheva station.

The Knesset's efforts to pass laws that would curb the Court's now unlimited powers are simply attempts to place minimal legal checks on judicial power. One bill under discussion would require Supreme Court nominees to undergo hearings at the Knesset before their nominations are approved. Under the proposed law, the unelected Judicial Appointments Committee would remain responsible for nominating and approving justices. It's just that the public, through its representatives in the Knesset, would have the opportunity to find out a bit about who these people are before their appointments are voted on.

Another proposed law would seek to water down the legal fraternity's control over judicial appointments by making a slight change in the composition of the Judicial Appointments Committee.

If both of these laws passed tomorrow, Israel's Supreme Court would still be more powerful than any other Supreme Court in the Western world. The government would still have nearly no say in who gets appointed to the bench.

Yet Beinisch and her associates have no interest in considering the substance of the bills being debated. For them the very notion that mere politicians dare to consider placing any check on judicial power is such an outrage that they feel justified equating the initiatives with the Nuremburg Laws in Nazi Germany.

BEINISCH IS not alone in her campaign to demonize politicians who question Israel's out-sized judicial dictatorship. Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein has used his powers of office to intimidate and threaten Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his government into backing away from all the proposed bills aimed at curbing judicial power.

Speaking at a legal conference in Eilat last Tuesday, Weinstein bragged that he forced Netanyahu to table discussion of the bill that would require Knesset hearings for Supreme Court nominees. As he put it, "When the law that would institute a hearing came to my attention, I called the prime minister and told him that this bill will not pass and must be eliminated now and immediately."

After relating that Netanyahu responded that he would end discussion of the bill, Weinstein proclaimed that anyone wishing to reform the judicial system would find in him "a bitter, stubborn enemy."

This week, Weinstein struck again. On Tuesday, he sent a letter to Netanyahu in which he demanded that the premier drop discussion of a Knesset bill that would restrict foreign governmental funding of Israeli-registered political NGOs. Weinstein informed Netanyahu that he would refuse to defend the law when it is challenged before the Supreme Court because he considers it "unconstitutional."

Faced with Weinstein's threat, on Wednesday Netanyahu's office told the media that the prime minister has decided to postpone discussion of the bill. Until Wednesday, Netanyahu had openly supported one of the versions of the proposed law.

Weinstein's decision to constrain Netanyahu's governing authority is not new. In January, after the Government Appointments Committee approved Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak's decision to appoint Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant as IDF chief of staff, and after the government approved his appointment, Weinstein informed Netanyahu that he would refuse to defend Galant's appointment before the High Court.

A previously unheard of NGO called The Green Movement had petitioned the Court demanding that it cancel Galant's appointment. Galant had wrongly used state land adjoining his homestead on Moshav Amikam. And the Green Movement claimed that this administrative infraction rendered him unfit to command the army.

It is impossible to know how the Supreme Court would have ruled on the Green Movement's petition. On its face it was fatuous given that Galant's behavior constituted an administrative offense for which one pays a fine, rather than a criminal offense for which one goes to jail.

In the event, the Court never considered the petition because Weinstein told Netanyahu that due to his own "ethical" misgivings, he would refuse to defend Galant's appointment. Left without legal defense, Netanyahu gave in to Weinstein and canceled Galant's appointment.

In openly undermining the Knesset and the government, Weinstein is behaving in a manner that is contrary to the law. Israeli law prohibits government officials from undermining the lawful functioning of both elected arms of government.

And yet, in the name of protecting democracy, or protecting the constitution, (Israel has no constitution), Weinstein openly flouts the authority and rejects the prerogatives of the people's elected representatives in the Knesset and the government.

And he is not alone. In February, the Knesset passed a law requiring NGOs to publish on their websites quarterly reports on all the contributions they receive from foreign governments. Ten months later, the law has yet to be implemented.

The delay is due to the fact that the Justice Ministry has not bothered to publish the law's accompanying regulations. Without such regulations, the law cannot be implemented.

ON THE face of it, Beinisch's and Weinstein's vociferous opposition to attempts to constrain foreign government funding of Israeli-registered anti-Israel NGOs makes little sense. Why would they stick their noses out for groups like B'Tselem or Yesh Din or Adalah that seek to delegitimize Israel's right to defend itself, or support economic and legal warfare against the country? Why are they sticking their noses out for these radical, anti-Zionist groups?

Upon consideration, however, the reason is clear. The Court's ability to dictate government policy is dependent on the existence of these political NGOs. The Court cannot constrain IDF counterterror operations if it isn't asked to intervene by NGOs. And the attorney-general cannot scuttle legislative initiatives or government policies or appointments if he cannot assume that his colleagues in the NGO sector will challenge those initiatives and policies before the Court.

Lawsuits are an expensive business. To continue their legal campaigns against the prerogatives of the government and the Knesset in the High Court these NGOs require enormous budgets. Without foreign governmental funding, the likes of Peace Now, Adalah, Ir Amim, Gush Shalom, B'Tselem and others would be forced to curtail their legal campaigns against the state.

So Beinisch's and Weinstein's attacks on politicians who introduce bills to curb foreign governmental funding of these political NGOs are perfectly reasonable. No, in protecting these groups they are not demonstrating their commitment to civil rights. They are the judicial equivalent of street toughs, protecting their territory.

It is important to note that the legal fraternity would never be able to maintain its choke-hold on the government and the Knesset without the active support of the media. Although Beinisch claimed last week that some media institutions are active participants in the politicians' supposedly nefarious propaganda war against the Supreme Court, the fact of the matter is that Israel's mainstream media is the legal fraternity's most fervent defender.

Since Barak began his judicial revolution in 1995, the media have portrayed the Supreme Court's usurpation of the powers of the Knesset and the government as acts of enlightened guardians of democracy. Radical commentators like Moshe Negbi and Dana Weiss have attacked as anti-democratic all politicians and legal experts who criticize the Court's runaway judicial activism. In recent months, the media have demonized Knesset members like Yariv Levin and Ze'ev Elkin from the Likud and Faina Kirschenbaum from Israel Beiteinu as enemies of democracy for their leadership in pushing judicial and NGO reform laws through the Knesset.

For the past decade and a half, the Court's undermining of Israel's elected leadership has weakened democracy and subverted the public's will. Over the past decade, Israeli voters have rejected overwhelmingly radical political parties like Meretz. But through the Supreme Court and the legal fraternity, their allied foreign government- funded Astroturf pressure groups, and the supportive media, the values and views advocated by Meretz have been forced down the public's throat over and over again.

And now, for the first time, in recent months our elected representatives have launched a brave and concerted effort to reinstate the sovereignty of the Knesset. Their modest initiatives are aimed at restoring the power of the people through our elected representatives to determine the course of the country and to implement policies that reflect our interests and our values.

The incendiary howls of the likes of Beinisch and Weinstein show us that these initiatives are well-placed. After years of constant attacks on our democratic system, the powerful legal fraternity is finally on the defensive.

This fight could not be more important to the well-being of this country. Now is no time for our leaders to go wobbly.

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.

Caroline Glick


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

Kudos to ADL’s Foxman for Speaking Up

by Isi Leibler

For some months I have been highly critical of the failure of the American Jewish establishment leadership to speak out against repeated hostile policies and statements emanating from various branches of the Obama administration.

I also expressed concern regarding a joint public statement issued by Abe Foxman, head of the ADL and his American Jewish Committee counterpart David Harris which many perceived as an attempt to stifle all political discussion related to Israel in the forthcoming Presidential election. If implemented, it would have embargoed both positive or negative comment and discourse concerning policies adopted by parties and candidates in relation to Israel.

Last week, we were bombarded by three separate, appallingly biased and offensive statements concerning Israel, expressed by secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the US Ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman. (see my recent article)

Whilst not surprisingly, the ZOA and Jewish Republicans vehemently condemned these outbursts, most of the Jewish leadership once again responded with deafening silence.

However, unlike his other Jewish establishment colleagues, Abe Foxman, the effervescent ADL head, spoke out with vigor and dignity, condemning the offensive remarks and calling on the Administration to distance itself from all three outbursts.

In a blazing op-ed in the internet Huffington Post, Foxman related specifically to Panetta’s remarks blaming Israel for the deteriorating situation with Turkey and Egypt. He stressed that US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s remarks were not merely “inaccurate” but “disturbing and potentially dangerous”, adding that “finding fault with Israel at a time of great instability and uncertainty in the region is particularly distressing.” He called on the White House to issue “a clear repudiation” because “if the Secretary’s remarks are allowed to stand, this is likely to set in motion events that will exacerbate existing problems … and add fuel to the fire of an already raging region”.

In a subsequent interview with the JTA, Foxman also condemned Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s remarks castigating Israel’s treatment of women making odious and utterly baseless analogies with the manner in which Iranians treat their women.

Foxman pointed out that “This is a Secretary of State who certainly doesn’t go out to the Arab Moslem world and criticize them for inequalities”. “Sure”, he said, “Israel is not perfect, human rights could use improvement, but my God, in comparison, I think it is inappropriate, it’s excessive”. He described Clinton’s remarks as being “out of line”.

Foxman noted that the remarks from all three members of the Obama Administration reflected a common theme which came to the heart of the “problem we’ve had with this administration”. The three of them are “putting all the onus on Israel and that’s with Panetta, with Hillary and with the Ambassador” [US Ambassador to Belgium whose offensive remarks implied that Muslim anti-Semitism was a byproduct of Israeli intransigence in the Middle East].

He was careful not to ignore the positive aspects of the administration’s attitude towards Israel such as the ongoing defense commitments which has brought the US-Israeli military alliance to newfound heights. But, he pointed out that the attitude towards Israel is “bifurcated” and the administration has regrettably also “done more to politically distance itself from Israel”.

This is not the first time that Foxman spoke out as a lone voice amongst mainstream American Jewish leaders. In the early stages of the Obama administration, he was the only Jewish establishment spokesman to criticize the president when he initially displayed his bias against the Israeli government. In August 2009 in a full-page advertisement in the New York Times, Foxman called on Obama to recognize that "the problem is not the settlements. It is Arab rejection… Mr. President, it's time to stop pressurizing our vital friend and ally".

In March 2010, Foxman was again one of the few Jewish leaders to condemn the histrionics displayed by the president and secretary of state against Jewish construction in the residential areas of Jewish East Jerusalem. He even went so far as to propose a protest march on Washington.

Nobody could accuse Foxman of being a hawk in relation to Israel and over the past six months he made a number of statements with which many of his less dovish Jewish constituents took great umbrage. But this does not negate the fact that when the chips were down and he considered redlines were being crossed in relation to the Jewish state, he was one of the few willing to courageously speak up against the Obama administration.

Once again, despite the fact that it may create major problems with those of his supporters who still blindly endorse all aspects of the Obama administration's policies, the former child Holocaust survivor who rose to become head of one of American Jewry’s foremost organizations again proved to be a trailblazer. One can only hope that his courageous response will serve as an example for other Jewish leaders to emulate.

Isi Leibler
The writer’s website can be viewed at

This column was originally published in Israel Hayom

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Muslim Brotherhood to 'Review' Egypt-Israel Accords

by Rick Moran

The MB pretty much said as much before the election so this isn't entirely unexpected. Haaretz:

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood said that the country's peace treaty with Israel needs re-evaluation by the country's new parliament, in press remarks by a senior member of the group published Friday.

"A long time has passed since the Camp David accord was signed, and like the other agreements it needs to be reviewed, and this is in the hands of the parliament," said Mahmoud Hussein, the group's secretary-general.

"The brotherhood believes the treaty is of great importance, but it is not on the top of our list. There are other priorities for the time being," Hussein told the regional Asharq al-Awsat [The Middle East] daily.

"Generally, Israel does not honor the agreement," he added.

He denied a report saying that the Muslim Brotherhood had reached an understanding with the United States and Israel on "the importance of safeguarding the peace treaty with Israel."

Egypt has already been backsliding with regards to security in the Sinai. Infiltration has been common and law and order has broken down. In a sense, Egypt is already in violation of the accords and anything the MB does to further weaken it will be considered gravy by the Isamists.

Rick Moran


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Journalism The Arab World Is Not Used To

by Khaled Abu Toameh

Israel is one of the few places in the Middle East where Arab journalists can still practice some form of real journalism without having to worry about their safety.

Over the past few years, several Arab media outlets have popped up in Israel, offering a type of journalism that the Arab world is not used to.

In Israel, they know, government "thugs" do not break the hands of cartoonists and photographers who dare to criticize the government. Nor does Israel arrest a journalist who post on Facebook a comment criticizing the president.

In Israel, a journalist has never been forced to go into hiding for reporting a story that the government did not like. But in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Palestinian journalists continue to be targeted by both Fatah and Hamas.

Israeli Arabs have three major weekly tabloids that hire professional and independent journalists and writers, and not propagandists. The three privately owned papers, Assenara, Kul Al Arab and Panorama, are popular among the Arab community largely because they do not hesitate to cover stories that are considered taboo in Arab society.

These papers, for example, are full of stories about "honor killings" -- when a male kills a female relative for allegedly disgracing the family's reputation -- domestic violence such as wife -battering and sexual assaults, and corruption in state-run institutions.

The Arab reporters are not appointed by the Israeli government, which does not have the power to interfere with a newspaper's editorial line. Editors are required to submit to the military censor only those stories that are related to extremely sensitive security issues. Otherwise, the editors are free to publish anything they want, including sharp criticism of all state institutions and the IDF and other security agencies.

In many ways, Israeli Arab journalists are trying to copy the example of the Israeli Jewish media, which is free and independent.

When they launched their newspapers, the Israeli Arab editors and publishers had the Israeli, and not the Arab world, media in mind.

It is ironic and sad that a number of Palestinian journalists have to move to Israel to be able to express themselves freely and without facing intimidation. Over the past two decades, these journalists, who once used to live in the West Bank, have moved to Jerusalem after being harassed by the Palestinian Authority.

Just last week, Hamas detained five Palestinian journalists in the Gaza Strip and confiscated their computers and documents. When Israeli Arab journalists see what is happening to their colleagues in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, they are reminded of how lucky they are that they live in Israel.

Khaled Abu Toameh


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Muslim Brotherhood Cleric Calls for 'Gradualism' in Applying Shari'ah

by IPT News

In the November 2011 fatwa section on, radical Muslim Brotherhood cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi recommends gradualism in the implementation of Shari'ah (Islamic law derived from the Quran or Sunnah).

Responding to a question, "What are the guidelines in an attempt to apply gradualism in Islamic Shari'ah?, " Qaradawi writes:

"Gradualism is one of the laws of nature that Allah Almighty has created. It is also needed in applying the rulings of Shari'ah to make a change in people's life. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) stayed in Makkah for thirteen years struggling to shake the false beliefs the Makkan people had adopted. Then, for other ten years, Allah Almighty revealed to him (peace and blessings be upon him) the laws that the Muslim would live by. Gradualism played an effective role in that regard."

He adds:

"Gradualism in applying the Shari'ah is a wise requirement to follow. In doing so, we will be following Allah's Laws with regard to physical nature and teachings of Islam. Gradualism was observed in enjoining the obligations of Islam such as Prayer, fasting, et cetera, and in forbidding the prohibitions as well."

Qaradawi's gradualism in applying Shariah is in conformity with the objectives of the Muslim Brotherhood, an international Sunni Islamist movement that seeks the establishment of a worldwide Caliphate or universal Islamic state through gradual and peaceful means.

At a 1995 conference held by the Muslim Arab Youth Association (MAYA) in Toledo, Ohio, Qaradawi called for the conquest of Western regimes through Da'wa (proselytization) and their replacement by a worldwide Islamic Caliphate ruled by Sharia:

"What remains, then, is to conquer Rome. The second part of the omen. "The city of Hiraq [once emperor of Constantinople] will be conquered first", so what remains is to conquer Rome.' This means that Islam will come back to Europe for the third time, after it was expelled from it twice… Conquest through Da'wa [proselytizing] that is what we hope for. We will conquer Europe, we will conquer America! Not through sword but through Da'wa."

In 2004, Qaradawi issued a fatwa deeming it a religious duty for Muslims to fight Americans in Iraq, including U.S. civilians. He also referred to Muslims fighting American forces in Iraq as martyrs. "Those killed fighting the American forces are martyrs given their good intentions since they consider these invading troops an enemy within their territories but without their will." In April 2001, he commented on suicide bombings, saying "They are not suicide operations…These are heroic martyrdom operations."

Often referred to as "moderate" in the mainstream media, Qaradawi is known for his militant religious rulings and statements in support of acts of terrorism. At the 1995 MAYA conference, he said, "Our brothers in Hamas, in Palestine, the Islamic Resistance, the Islamic Jihad, after all the rest have given up and despaired, the movement of the jihad brings us back to our faith."

He has in the past called for the destruction of Israel and condoned the hatred of Jews as sanctioned by Islam:

"But the balance of power will change, and this is what is told in the Hadith of Ibn-Omar and the Hadith of Abu-Hurairah: "You shall continue to fight the Jews and they will fight you, until the Muslims will kill them. And the Jew will hide behind the stone and the tree, and the stone and the tree will say: 'Oh servant of Allah, Oh Muslim, this is a Jew behind me. Come and kill him!' The resurrection will not come before this happens." This is a text from the good omens in which we believe."

To view the IPT Profile on Yusuf al-Qaradawi, click here.

IPT News


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Washington, Brotherhood Eye Assad's Downhill Spiral

by IPT News

Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime suffered another blow Thursday, as a pipeline carrying oil to a refinery in violence-plagued Homs province was blown up, allegedly by "an armed terrorist group," according to Damascus.

With a growing number of reports that Syria is moving closer to civil war , U.S. officials are monitoring Assad's large chemical weapons stockpiles amid concerns that Damascus could use the weapons against indigenous protesters or divert them to terror groups such as Hizballah.

And Assad continues to be dogged by reports that the Hamas terror organization -- a longtime ally of Syria and an affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood -- could move its headquarters out of Syria .

The dictator's isolation continues to mount, with the Wall Street Journal reporting Thursday that Turkey will bypass Syria in exporting goods across the Middle East. Ankara's move followed a Syrian border blockade that had left hundreds of vehicles stranded near the boundary between the two nations.

Turkish truck drivers told harrowing stories of violence during recent trips through Syria, which included getting caught in a gun battle near Hama. A trucker said he lost sight in one eye after a beating by Syrian troops.

Turkish Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan said the Syrian blockade was retaliation for Ankara's decision last week to impose sanctions against the Assad regime. He said Turkey would avoid Syria by sending goods through Iraq via truck and shipping them to Egypt using the Mediterranean port of Mersin .

The Turkish government said it preferred not to take such steps, but Damascus had forced its hand. "They wanted it this way," Caglayan said. "I say again, whatever they do they will suffer more than Turkey every time. To trade with the Middle East and the [Persian] Gulf we do not have to go through Syria. Our A, B and C plans are already ready."

In a somewhat surreal interview with ABC Television's Barbara Walters that aired Wednesday, Assad denied any responsibility for the violence. Responding to a question from Walters about Washington's "misconceptions" about his regime, Assad denied any responsibility for the murderous behavior of his armed forces.

"They are not my forces," he told Walters. "They are forces for the government. I don't own them. I'm president. I don't own the country. So they are not my forces."

"We don't kill," the Syrian strongman continued." It's impossible for anyone in this state to give orders to kill." Assad said that "No government in the world kills its people, unless it's led by a crazy person."

In an effort to ratchet up political pressure on Assad, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has continued to meet with Syrian opposition groups. The Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report (GMBDR)identified one of seven Syrian opposition figures Clinton met with in Geneva Tuesday as Najib Ghadbian, who has been described by the Wall Street Journal as an advocate of U.S. engagement with the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria. GMBDR reported that in September, Ghadbian appeared with a State Department official at an event endorsed by the Greater Los Angeles Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

IPT News


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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Terrorists Said to be Infiltrating Military

by Shaun Waterman

Al Qaeda and other terrorists are trying to infiltrate the U.S. armed forces, which makes military facilities in the U.S. dangerous for American troops, lawmakers said Wednesday.

“The Department of Defense considers the U.S. homeland the most dangerous place for a G.I. outside of foreign war zones — and the top threat they face here is from violent Islamist extremists,” Rep. Peter T. King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said during a special joint House-Senate hearing.

Military officials testified about the homegrown terrorist threat at U.S. military bases in the wake of several attacks, including the November 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas. Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, 41, has been charged in the killing of 13 people and wounding of 29 others in the worst shootings ever to take place on an American military base.

“The Fort Hood attack was not an anomaly,” said Mr. King, New York Republican. “It was part of al Qaeda’s two-decade success at infiltrating the U.S. military for terrorism — an effort that is increasing in scope and threat.”

The Congressional Research Service has identified 54 homegrown terrorism plots and attacks since Sept. 11, 2001. Of those, 33 were directed against the U.S. military, said Sen. Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs and Homeland Security Committee.

“The American service member is increasingly in the terrorists’ scope and not just overseas in a traditional war setting,” said Mr. Lieberman, Connecticut independent.

The publicly disclosed plots and attacks by military insiders “represent the leading edge of al Qaeda’s ongoing effort to infiltrate the U.S. military and to recruit or radicalize vulnerable servicemen to commit future acts of terror,” according to a report published Wednesday by Mr. King’s staff.

There is “reason to believe that the actual number of radicalized troops is far more than publicly realized or acknowledged,” the report states.

Officials and lawmakers went into a closed session to discuss radicalized troops and other matters at the conclusion of the hearing.

After the Fort Hood shooting and a similar, attempted attack in 2010, the Pentagon has developed a series of “behavorial indicators” for radical motivations that troops will be encouraged to report if they detect them in their comrades, Paul N. Stockton, assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense, said at the joint hearing.

“Expressing sympathy or support for a violence-promoting organization, associating with terrorists, having a copy of [al Qaeda‘s] Inspire magazine on your desk — these are behavioral indicators that we apply to focus on the primary threat,” he said.

Mr. Stockton denied charges from several Republican lawmakers that the military’s approach is hamstrung by political correctness.

“We know who the adversary is. The primary threat is al Qaeda and its affiliates. And everything that we are doing in terms of primary focus of our efforts concentrates on that threat,” he said.

Asked repeatedly by Rep. Daniel E. Lungren, California Republican, about his refusal to use the word “Islamic” or “Islamist” when describing al Qaeda, Mr. Stockton said branding terrorists as Muslims plays into their narrative that the United States is at war with Islam.

“Sir, with great respect, I don’t believe it’s helpful to frame our adversary as ‘Islamic’ with any set of qualifiers that we might add, because we are not at war with Islam,” he said.

Shaun Waterman


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Is New Moroccan Government Inciting Muslims in Spain?

by Soeren Kern

Some 3,000 Muslim immigrants took to the streets in near Barcelona to protest recent cuts in social welfare benefits.

The protest, which took place on December 5 in the industrial city of Terrassa, about 30 kilometers from Barcelona, was organized and attended by Moroccan immigrants.

The size and spontaneity of the demonstration caught local officials by surprise -- they had been expecting no more than 300 demonstrators -- and reflects the growing assertiveness of Muslim immigrants in the northeastern region of Catalonia.

The protest could confirm the fears of Spanish intelligence agencies that the new Islamist government in Morocco may attempt to incite Moroccan immigrants in Spain to organize demonstrations, in an effort to force Spain's new conservative prime minister, who takes office on December 22, to resolve a series of longstanding disputes between the two countries.

The starting point for the demonstration was the heavily Muslim neighborhood of Ca N'Anglada, which is located in downtown Terrassa. The demonstrators then made their way through the city center to the municipal social security office.

The Moroccans were protesting austerity measures that make it more difficult for immigrants to collect social welfare handouts from the regional government in Catalonia.

Budget cutbacks that entered into effect in July 2011 increase the residency requirements to two years (from one year previously) for immigrants who want to collect welfare benefits. The changes also limit welfare handouts to 60 months.

Local politicians fear the protest was the opening salvo of what may become a more sustained campaign of unrest by Muslim immigrants in Catalonia, which has become ground zero in an intensifying debate over the role of Islam in Spain.

The Muslim population of Catalonia reached 300,000 in 2011, compared to just 10,000 in 1990, thanks to a massive wave of immigration, both legal and illegal.

In Spain as a whole, the Muslim population reached an estimated 1.5 million in 2011, up from just 100,000 in 1990.

The influx of Muslim immigrants on such a massive scale has led to an increasing number of Islam-related controversies in Spain.

In September, for example, Muslim immigrants were accused of poisoning dozens of dogs in the Catalan city of Lérida, where 29,000 Muslims now make up around 20% of the city's total population.

The dogs were poisoned in Lérida's working class neighborhoods 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 December 2010, a high school teacher in the southern Spanish city of La Línea de la Concepción was sued by the parents of a Muslim student who said the teacher "defamed Islam" by talking about Spanish ham in class.

José Reyes Fernández, a geography teacher, was giving a lecture about the different types of climates in Spain. During the class, Reyes mentioned that the climate in the province of Andalusia offers the perfect temperature conditions for curing Spanish ham (Jamón Ibérico), a world-famous delicacy.

At this point, a Muslim student in the class interrupted Reyes and argued that any talk of pork products is offensive to his religion. Reyes responded by saying that he was only giving an example and that he does not take into consideration different religious beliefs when teaching geography.

The Muslim student informed his parents, who then filed a lawsuit against Reyes, accusing him of "abuse with xenophobic motivations." Article 525 of the Spanish Penal Code makes it a crime to "offend the feelings of the members of a religious confession." The lawsuit was later thrown out by a Spanish judge.

In November 2010, the Spanish cities of Ceuta and Melilla, two enclaves in northern Africa, officially recognized the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice), as a public holiday. By doing so, Ceuta and Melilla, where Muslims make up more than 50% of the total populations, became the first Spanish municipalities officially to mark an Islamic holiday since Spain was liberated from Muslim captivity in 1492.

In October 2010, the Islamic Association of Málaga, in southern Spain, demanded that Television Española (TVE), the state-owned national public television broadcaster, stop showing a Spanish-language television series because it was "anti-Muslim." Muslims accused TVE of violating the Spanish Constitution for airing a program that criticizes certain aspects of Islam, such as forced marriages and the lack of women's rights in Muslim countries.

That same month, residents of the Basque city of Bilbao found their mailboxes stuffed with flyers in Spanish and Arabic from the Islamic Community of Bilbao asking for money to build a 650 square meter (7,000 square feet) mosque costing €550,000 ($735,000). Their website states: "We were expelled [from Spain] in 1609, really not that long ago. … The echo of Al-Andalus still resonates in all the valley of the Ebro [Spain]. We are back to stay, Insha'Allah [if Allah wills it]."

In September 2010, a discotheque in southern Spanish resort town of Águilas (Murcia) was forced to change its name and architectural design after Islamists threatened to initiate "a great war between Spain and the people of Islam" if it did not.

La Meca was a popular discotheque during the 1980s and 1990s. After being closed for more than a decade, the club reopened in August 2010 under new management, but using the original name, La Meca. The mega-nightclub featured a large turquoise-colored mosque-style dome, a minaret-like tower, as well as traditional Arabic architecture common in southern Spain.

But soon after its reopening, Muslims began to complain that the nightclub is offensive and insulting to their religion; a group of Muslim radicals posted a video on the Internet calling for a boycott of Spanish goods and jihad against those who "blaspheme the name of Allah." Spain's intelligence agency, the Centro Nacional de Inteligencia (CNI), warned La Meca's owners that the discotheque was being directly targeted by Islamic extremists.

The nightclub owners agreed to change the name to La Isla (the island) "to avoid further problems and to ensure that patrons keep coming." They also confirmed plans to modify controversial features of the club's architecture, namely a minaret-like tower that has since been converted into a lighthouse-like tower.

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


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

The Conundrum of the Pro-Hamas Peaceniks

by David Meir-Levi

The freedom-loving humanitarians who profess to defend the egalitarian values that are the cornerstone of civil society in the West are usually strong proponents of the rights enshrined in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including:

Equality of persons, without distinction of race, color, sex, language, religion, political opinion, national origin, sexual preference.

The right to life, liberty, and security of person.

Freedom from slavery.

Freedom from torture and from cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment.

Equality before the law and equal protection of the law.

The right to enter into marriage as free and consenting adults.

Freedom of thought, conscience, opinion and religion.

Freedom to manifest one’s religion.

Freedom to change one’s religion.

Islamic terrorist organizations such as Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, el-Qaeda, Hizb ut-Tahrir and many others promote a social order which is an anathema to the liberal values of the West. These characteristics include:

Eternal Jihad: the commitment to unending violence to make Islam the sole or dominant religion in the world. Jihad is central to the prosecution of a perpetual war against all non-Muslims.

Imperialism: the jihadist goal of world conquest and the imposition of Islam on all humanity is religiously motivated imperialism on steroids. The Muslim terrorist leaders of Hizb ut-Tahrir held a conference in Boston in 2009 announcing their plan to replace Western governments with Shari’a law…. “Islam uber Alles.”

Supremacism: Arabs are the “best of people” (Qur’an, Surah 3:110) and Islam is the only true religion.

Triumphalism: an end-of-days scenario in which Islam ultimately triumphs over all mankind, displaces or subordinates all other religions, annihilates all Jews, and globally imposes Muslim rule.

Totalitarianism: Islam is, by its own definition, a totalitarian religion, obligating its adherents to complete submission to Shari’a.

Theocracy: The core of Islamic political history is the supremacy of Shari’a over any other form of government. Islam demands that political rule be in the hands of the religious leaders to whom any secular leader must be subordinated.

Gender Apartheid/Misogyny: The deeply misogynistic repression of women is an irrefutable part of Muslim social history, a tragic and gut-wrenchingly brutal assault on women. The indignity and inconvenience of the hijab and burqa, the restricted opportunities for education, and restrictions of a woman’s right to chose her mate are dwarfed by the savagery of honor killings, female genital mutilation, forced child (and even infant) marriages, stoning or vivisepulture as punishment for even the suspicion of adultery, and acid disfigurement or violent beatings for even the accidental appearance of a woman’s ankle in public.

Religious Apartheid: The Muslim doctrine of “dhimma” is the institutionalization of legislated religious apartheid. All non-Muslims living under Muslim sovereignty are subject to oppressive, discriminatory laws. These non-Muslims, legislated into a legal status of inferiority, are known as “dhimmi” (people of the contract or “protected people”). Whatever limited rights dhimmi might enjoy were determined by the local Muslim religious leaders, in exchange for jizya (a poll tax), in accordance with the limitations delineated in the eighth century Pact of Omar. Most Muslim countries in modern times have tended to be lax in the enforcement of dhimma, but it was officially reinstated in Iran after the Islamic revolution in 1979. Pakistan re-instituted dhimma officially in 1956.

Genocide: Leaders of Hamas and Hezbollah have been unabashedly clear that their ultimate goal is the annihilation of world Jewry. Hamas and Fatah officials have repeatedly declared that their objective is the obliteration of Israel. Hassan Nasrallah stated openly: “If (the Jews) all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.” In their own words they declare their commitment to the genocide of all Jews worldwide.

Other characteristics of Shari’a law in stark violation of human rights include the legalization of slavery; the implementation of cruel and unusual punishments such as amputation, beheading, and crucifixion; death sentences for homosexuals; denial of freedom to convert out of Islam; denial of freedom to manifest a non-Muslim religion in public; and denial to dhimmi and women equality before the law. Typical of some Arab regimes and terrorist groups are the use of torture, arbitrary arrest, restrictions on freedom of expression, limited or non-existent freedom of the press and other media, total disregard for the Fourth Geneva Convention and humanitarian treatment of prisoners; and the ability to issue unadjudicated death sentences against civilians who are perceived to be enemies of the religion. Perhaps most horrific of all is their use of their own civilians as human shields and their recruitment, training and deployment of homicide bombers, including children.

One might conclude that any defender of human rights would find such a society to be utterly odious, an anathema — but some do not.

The “Stop the War” coalition in London proudly hoisted banners during their street demonstrations in 2006 proclaiming “we are all Hezbollah now.” The UK Guardian deemed these demonstrators to be “…either of profound ignorance or a depraved indifference to human life…” and displaying a “moral idiocy.”

Dr. Norman Finkelstein televised his solidarity with Hezbollah in 2007 by echoing the “Stop the War” coalition’s pronouncement with even greater moral idiocy. Clearly not ignorant, is Finkelstein possessed of a depraved indifference to human life? He is not the only academic displaying moral idiocy or depraved indifference.

In the Arab-Israel conflict we see an oxymoronic alignment of supposedly principled, educated defenders of human rights with the most egregious violators of democratic principles and human rights.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) is possessed of all of the deplorable characteristics listed above, and demonstrates as well a long track record of extreme kleptocracy, corruption, unconstrained education of children into hatred and “martyrdom,” relentless anti-Israel and anti-Jewish hate speech and hate preach, lethal internecine rivalries, lionization of homicide bombers and mass murderers, extreme and sometimes lethal homophobia, and an unconstrained hatred of Israel and America.

The so-called “Freedom Flotillas,” organized by the “Free Gaza Movement” and the “Free Palestine Movement,” seem to have attracted a whole gaggle of putative defenders of human rights who instead defend the right of Hamas to display all the odious characteristics described above. Greta Berlin, one of the first flotilla’s participants, is an energetic, vocal supporter of Hamas. Huwaida Arraf and Adam Shapiro, long-time pro-Palestinian activists who support Arab terrorism against Israel, were also among the organizers of the flotillas, along with Kit Kittredge, Medea Benjamin and Hedy Epstein, all well known anti-Israel activists. So their participation is no surprise.

But what about Pulitzer Prize winner and human rights advocate Alice Walker? She went because she sees “children, all children, as humanity’s most precious resource.” Does she not know that Hamas rockets have targeted school busses and classrooms? She claims to care for “all children” — does she really mean “all except Israeli children?”

One might argue that some participants, like Walker, are sincere defenders of human rights who seek only to assist the impoverished civilians of the Gaza Strip; and they have been duped by Hamas. But how could they not know that from the very onset the flotillas’ declared mission of humanitarian aid was transparently false because there is no humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip?

Moreover, established and efficient mechanisms exist for the transfer of humanitarian assistance to the Gaza Strip. Cargo could be off-loaded at the Egyptian port of el-Arish. Assistance could also be delivered at the Israeli port of Ashdod, cargo off-loaded and inspected, and then delivered to Gaza.

As the terrorist nature of the 2nd flotilla emerged, and it became known that the key organizer of flotilla 2, Mohammed Sawalha, had ties with Hamas, and two other members of the flotilla’s “peace activists,” Amin Abu Rashad and Mohammad Hannoun, were Hamas members, the IHH, itself a Muslim terrorist organization and the primary organizers of the flotilla, disassociated from the endeavor; and many participants left the group before the boats set sail.

But what about those who remained? Why do people who represent themselves as non-violent defenders of human rights cast their lot with organizations that flagrantly deny human rights and unabashedly trumpet their intentions to perpetrate acts of terror, war and ultimately genocide? Why do they pledge their allegiance to terrorist institutions that represent the very epitome of all that they say they oppose?

Even if there were some doubt as to the motives and goals of the flotillas and their organizers, Adam Shapiro, a spokesperson for “Free Gaza” and a well-known anti-Israel activist, announced publicly the real purpose of the flotillas:

“Free Gaza is but one tactic of a larger strategy, to transform this conflict from one between Israel and the Palestinia­ns, or Israel and the Arab world…to one between the rest of the world and Israel…”

By setting sail with those who support mass murder and engage in genocidal war, these so-called non-violent defenders of human rights display their obscene hypocrisy. These supposedly noble supporters of western values have chosen to join the ranks of the 21st century’s version of Hitler’s little helpers.

David Meir-Levi


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

Panetta's Panacea

by Yoram Ettinger

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has played a key role in the misreading of the Middle East by the CIA and the Pentagon. Panetta’s severe miscomprehension of the Middle East, as well as his oversimplified worldview, were reflected by his Dec. 2, 2011 speech at the Brookings Institute in Washington, DC.

Panetta was a member of the 2006 Iraq Study Group, which recommended that Iran and Syria be co-opted into the effort to stabilize Iraq. He was unfamiliar with a basic Middle East truism: Iran and Syria have been the historical arch-enemies of Iraq, as well as two of the most ruthless, anti-U.S. terrorist regimes in the world.

Marshaling his experience as a former chairman of the House Budget Committee, Clinton’s White House chief of staff and member of the board of the New York Stock Exchange, Panetta has praised the “Technological Youth Revolution” on the Arab Street. He misconceives the eruption of the Islamic political lava, which consumes and destabilizes relatively pro-Western Arab regimes, as an “Arab Awakening” and the “March of Democracy.”

Panetta supported the 2009 decision to court the (then) illegal anti-Mubarak, anti-U.S., subversive, Islamic-supremacist Muslim Brotherhood. He backed the decision to invite Muslim Brotherhood leaders to Obama’s Cairo University speech on June 4, 2009, which was perceived by Egyptians as the abandonment of Mubarak by the U.S. – a repeat of President Carter’s abandonment of the Shah of Iran.

In 2010, he perpetuated the Assad-placating legacy of the Iraq Study Group, considering the return of the U.S. ambassador to Damascus – after five years of absence – as a worthy engagement with Bashar Assad, who was perceived as a potentially constructive leader by the Obama Administration.

The Dec. 2, 2011 rebuke of Israel, by Secretary Panetta - "just get to the damn table" - was symptomatic of the Iraq Study Group state of mind. The Iraq Study Group believed in the centrality of the Palestinian issue in Middle Eastern politics, as well as in shaping Arab attitudes toward the U.S. Therefore, Panetta and his colleagues assume that a U.S.-driven resolution of the Palestinian issue would be a key panacea to regional conflicts, improving Arab sentiments toward the U.S.

Unimpressed by the Palestinian-free turmoil in each Arab country, Panetta still believes in the Palestinian centrality and in the linkage between the Israel-Palestinian negotiations on the one hand and the seismic developments, which threaten the survival of pro-U.S. Arab regimes irrespective of the Palestinian issue or Israel’s existence, on the other.

Undeterred by the anti-Western about-face of Ankara’s policy and the expected 180-degree turn of Cairo’s alignment in regional and global affairs, Panetta urges Israel to mend fences with Turkey, Egypt and Jordan, as a major step toward regional stability. He maintains that a strategic common ground exists between solidly pro-U.S. Israel and Turkey, which has anointed itself the leader of the Muslim world, Egypt, which is trending toward a Muslim Brotherhood dictatorship and Jordan, which collaborated with Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

Panetta warns Israel of its isolation in the Middle East, failing to realize that Israel’s splendid isolation sets it apart from the treacherous, unreliable, unstable and increasingly anti-U.S. region. Contrary to Panetta’s observation, Israel’s isolation from the Arab Street has been its badge of honor, highlighting its shared Judeo-Christian values with the U.S. Israel’s isolation from the hate-driven region has made it a unique unconditional, democratic, added-value ally of the U.S., providing the U.S. with cutting-edge commercial and defense technologies, invaluable intelligence and an unshakable alliance.

Panetta’s simplistic view of the Middle East erodes the U.S. posture of deterrence. His rebuke of Israel forces the Arabs to further radicalize their demands, policy and terrorism, lest they be outflanked by the U.S. from the hawkish side. It does not get them to “the damn table;” it gets them away from “the damn table.”

Yoram Ettinger


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

Jordan Is Palestinian

by Mudar Zahran

Thus far the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has weathered the storm that has swept across the Middle East since the beginning of the year. But the relative calm in Amman is an illusion. The unspoken truth is that the Palestinians, the country's largest ethnic group, have developed a profound hatred of the regime and view the Hashemites as occupiers of eastern Palestine—intruders rather than legitimate rulers. This, in turn, makes a regime change in Jordan more likely than ever. Such a change, however, would not only be confined to the toppling of yet another Arab despot but would also open the door to the only viable peace solution—and one that has effectively existed for quite some time: a Palestinian state in Jordan.

Abdullah's Apartheid Policies

The majority Palestinian population of Jordan bridles at the advantages and benefits bestowed on the minority Bedouins. Advancement in the civil service, as well as in the military, is almost entirely a Bedouin prerogative with the added insult that Palestinians pay the lion's share of the country's taxes.

Despite having held a comprehensive national census in 2004, the Jordanian government would not divulge the exact percentage of Palestinians in the kingdom. Nonetheless, the secret that everyone seems to know but which is never openly admitted is that Palestinians make up the vast majority of the population.

In his 2011 book, Our Last Best Chance, King Abdullah claimed that the Palestinians make up a mere 43 percent. The U.S. State Department estimates that Palestinians make up "more than half" of Jordanians[1] while in a 2007 report, written in cooperation with several Jordanian government bodies, the London-based Oxford Business Group stated that at least two thirds of Jordan's population were of Palestinian origin.[2] Palestinians make up the majority of the population of Jordan's two largest cities, Amman and Zarqa, which were small, rural towns before the influx of Palestinians arrived in 1967 after Jordan's defeat in the Six-Day War.

In most countries with a record of human rights violations, vulnerable minorities are the typical victims. This has not been the case in Jordan where a Palestinian majority has been discriminated against by the ruling Hashemite dynasty, propped up by a minority Bedouin population, from the moment it occupied Judea and Samaria during the 1948 war (these territories were annexed to Jordan in April 1950 to become the kingdom's West Bank).

As a result, the Palestinians of Jordan find themselves discriminated against in government and legislative positions as the number of Palestinian government ministers and parliamentarians decreases; there is not a single Palestinian serving as governor of any of Jordan's twelve governorships.[3]

Jordanian Palestinians are encumbered with tariffs of up to 200 percent for an average family sedan, a fixed 16-percent sales tax, a high corporate tax, and an inescapable income tax. Most of their Bedouin fellow citizens, meanwhile, do not have to worry about most of these duties as they are servicemen or public servants who get a free pass. Servicemen or public employees even have their own government-subsidized stores, which sell food items and household goods at lower prices than what others have to pay,[4] and the Military Consumer Corporation, which is a massive retailer restricted to Jordanian servicemen, has not increased prices despite inflation.[5]

Decades of such practices have left the Palestinians in Jordan with no political representation, no access to power, no competitive education, and restrictions in the only field in which they can excel: business.

According to the Minority Rights Group International's World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples of 2008, "Jordan still considers them [Palestinian-Jordanians] refugees with a right of return to Palestine."[6] This by itself is confusing enough for the Palestinian majority and possibly gives basis for state-sponsored discrimination against them; indeed, since 2008, the Jordanian government has adopted a policy of stripping some Palestinians of their citizenship.[7] Thousands of families have borne the brunt of this action with tens of thousands more potentially affected. The Jordanian government has officially justified its position: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Nayef Qadi told the London-based al-Hayat newspaper that "Jordan should be thanked for standing up against Israeli ambitions of unloading the Palestinian land of its people" which he described as "the secret Israeli aim to impose a solution of Palestinian refugees at the expense of Jordan."[8] According to a February 2010 Human Rights Watch (HRW) report, some 2,700 Jordanian-Palestinians have had their citizenship revoked. As HRW obtained the figure from the Jordanian government, it is safe to assume that the actual figure is higher. To use the words of Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of the Middle East and North Africa division of HRW, "Jordan is playing politics with the basic rights of thousands of its citizens."[9]

But Abdullah does not really want the Palestinians out of his kingdom. For it is the Palestinians who drive the country's economy: They pay heavy taxes; they receive close to zero state benefits; they are almost completely shut out of government jobs, and they have very little, if any, political representation. He is merely using them as pawns in his game against Israel by threatening to make Jerusalem responsible for Jordanians of Palestinian descent in the name of the "right of return."

Despite systematic marginalization, Palestinians in Jordan seem well-settled and, indeed, do call Jordan home. Hundreds of thousands hold "yellow cards" and "green cards," residency permits allowing them to live and work in Israel while they maintain their Jordanian citizenship.[10] In addition, tens of thousands of Palestinians—some even claim hundreds of thousands—hold Israeli residency permits, which allow them to live in Judea and Samaria. Many also hold a "Jerusalem Residency Card," which entitles them to state benefits from Israel.[11] Yet they have remained in Jordan. Despite ill treatment by the Jordanian government, they still wish to live where most of their relatives and family members live and perhaps actually consider Jordan home.

Playing the Islamist Card

The Hashemites' discriminatory policies against the Palestinians have been overlooked by the West, Washington in particular, for one main reason: the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was the beating heart of Palestinian politics, and thus, if the Palestinians were empowered, they might topple the Hashemites and transform Jordan into a springboard for terror attacks against Israel. This fear was not all that farfetched. The Palestinian National Charter, by which the PLO lives, considers Palestine with its original mandate borders (i.e., including the territory east of the Jordan River, or Transjordan) as the indivisible homeland of the Palestinian Arab people.[12] In the candid admission of Abu Dawoud, Yasser Arafat's strongman in the 1970s, "Abu Ammar [Arafat] was doing everything then to establish his power and authority in Jordan despite his public statements" in support of King Hussein.[13] This tension led to the 1970 Black September civil war where the PLO was expelled from Jordan and thousands of Palestinians were slaughtered by Hussein's Bedouin army.

With the threat of Palestinian militants removed, the idea of having the Muslim Brotherhood entrenched in a Palestinian state with the longest border with Israel would naturally be of concern to Israel and its allies.

The only problem with this theory is that the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan is dominated by Bedouins, not Palestinians. The prominent, hawkish Muslim Brotherhood figure, Zaki Bani Rushiad, for example, is a native of Irbid in northern Jordan—not a Palestinian. Salem Falahat, another outspoken Brotherhood leader, and Abdul Latif Arabiat, a major tribal figure and godfather of the Brotherhood in Jordan, are also non-Palestinians. Upon President Obama's announcement of the death of Osama bin Laden, tribal Jordanians in the southern city of Ma'an mourned the terror leader's death and announced "a celebration of martyrdom."[14] Other cities with predominantly Bedouin populations, such as Salt and Kerak, did the same. The latter, a stronghold of the Majali tribe (which has historically held prominent positions in the Hashemite state) produced Abu Qutaibah al-Majali, bin Laden's personal aide between 1986 and 1991, who recruited fellow Bedouin-Jordanian, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, head of al-Qaeda in Iraq who was killed in a 2006 U.S. raid.[15]

The Hashemite regime is keenly aware of U.S. and Israeli fears and has, therefore, striven to create a situation where the world would have to choose between the Hashemites and the Muslim Brotherhood as Jordan's rulers. To this end, it has supported the Muslim Brotherhood for decades, allowing it to operate freely, to run charitable organizations and youth movements, and to recruit members in Jordan.[16] In 2008, the Jordanian government introduced a new law, retroactively banning any existing political party unless it had five hundred members and branches in five governorates (counties). Since such conditions could only be fulfilled by the Muslim Brotherhood, most political parties were dissolved de jure because they did not meet the new standards, leaving the Islamic Action Front as the strongest party in the kingdom.

Both Jerusalem and Washington are aware of the Jordanian status quo yet have chosen to accept the Hashemite regime as it is, seduced by the conventional wisdom of "the devil you know is better than the devil you don't." The facts on the ground, however, suggest that the devil they think they know is in deep trouble with its own supposed constituency.

The Bedouin Threat

Despite their lavish privileges, Jordanian Bedouins seem to insist relentlessly on a bigger piece of the cake, demanding more privileges from the king, and, in doing so, they have grown fearless about defying him. Since 2009, fully-armed tribal fights have become commonplace in Jordan.[17] Increasingly, the Hashemite regime has less control than it would like over its only ruling foundation—the Bedouin minority—which makes up the army, the police forces, all the security agencies, and the Jordanian General Intelligence Department. The regime is, therefore, less likely to survive any serious confrontations with them and has no other choice but to keep kowtowing to their demands.

What complicates the situation even further is that Bedouin tribes in Jordan do not maintain alliances only with the Hashemites; most shift their loyalties according to their current interests and the political season. Northern tribes, for example, have exhibited loyalty to the Syrian regime, and many of their members hold dual citizenships.[18] In September 1970, when Syrian forces invaded Jordan in the midst of the civil war there, the tribes of the northern city of Ramtha raised the Syrian flag and declared themselves "independent" from the Hashemite rulers.

Likewise, Bedouin tribes of the south have habitually traded loyalty for privileges and handouts with whoever paid better, beginning with the Turks, then replacing them with the better-paying Britons, and finally the Hashemites. This pattern has expanded in the last twenty years, as tribesmen exchanged their loyalties for cash; in fact this is how they got involved in the British-supported Arab revolt of World War I, in which the Bedouins demanded to be paid in gold in advance in order to participate in the fighting against the Ottomans despite their alignment with the Ottoman Empire before joining the revolt.[19]

This in turn means that the Jordanian regime is now detested not only by the Palestinians but also by the Bedouins, who have called for a constitutional monarchy in which the king hands his powers to them.[20] Should the tribes fail to achieve their goals, they will most likely expand their demonstrations of unrest—complete with tribal killings, blockades, armed fights, robberies, and attacks on police officers—which the Jordanian state finds itself having to confront weekly. In 2010, an average of five citizens was killed each week just as a result of tribal unrest.[21]

The Hashemite regime cannot afford to confront the tribesmen since they constitute the regime's own servicemen and intelligence officers. In 2002, the Jordanian army besieged the southern Bedouin city of Ma'an in order to arrest a group of extremists, who were then pardoned a few years later.[22] Similarly, Hammam Balaoui, a Jordanian intelligence double agent was arrested in 2006 for supporting al-Qaeda, only to be released shortly thereafter, eventually blowing himself up in Afghanistan in 2009 along with seven senior CIA officers and King Abdullah's cousin.[23]

Palestinian Pawns

These open displays of animosity are of a piece with the Hashemite regime's use of its Palestinian citizens as pawns in its game of anti-Israel one-upmanship.

King Hussein—unlike his peace-loving image—made peace with Israel only because he could no longer afford to go to war against it. His son has been less shy about his hostility and is not reluctant to bloody Israel in a cost-effective manner. For example, on August 3, 2004, he went on al-Arabiya television and slandered the Palestinian Authority for "its willingness to give up more Palestinian land in exchange for peace with Israel."[24] He often unilaterally upped Palestinian demands on their behalf whenever the Palestinian Authority was about to make a concession, going as far as to threaten Israel with a war "unless all settlement activities cease."[25]

This hostility toward Israel was also evident when, in 2008, Abdullah started revoking the citizenship of Jordanian Palestinians. By turning the Palestinian majority in Jordan into "stateless refugees" and aggressively pushing the so-called "right of return," the king hopes to strengthen his anti-Israel credentials with the increasingly Islamist Bedouins and to embarrass Jerusalem on the world stage. It is not inconceivable to envision a scenario where thousands of disenfranchised Palestinians find themselves stranded at the Israeli border, unable to enter or remain in Jordan. The international media—no friend of the Jewish state—would immediately jump into action, demonizing Israel and turning the scene into a fiasco meant to burden Jerusalem's conscience—and that of the West. The Hashemite regime would thereby come out triumphant, turning its own problem—being rejected and hated by the Palestinians—into Israel's problem.

A Pot Boiling Over

The Jordanian government's mistreatment of its Palestinian citizenry has taken a significant toll. Today, the Palestinians are a ticking bomb waiting to explode, especially as they watch their fellow Arabs rebelling against autocrats such as Egypt's Mubarak, Libya's Qaddafi, or Syria's Assad.

The complex relationship between the Palestinian majority and the Hashemite minority seems to have become tenser since Abdullah ascended the throne in 1999 after King Hussein's death. Abdullah's thin knowledge of the Arabic language, the region, and internal affairs, made him dependent on the Bedouin-dominated Jordanian Intelligence Department standing firmly between the king and his people, of which the Palestinians are the majority.[26] A U.S. embassy cable, dated July 2009, reported "bullying" practiced by the fans of al-Faisali Soccer Club (predominantly Bedouin Jordanians) against the fans of al-Wihdat Soccer Club (predominantly Palestinians), with al-Faisali fans chanting anti-Palestinian slogans and going so far as to insult Queen Rania, who is of Palestinian descent.[27] Two days after the cable was released, Jordanian police mercilessly attacked Palestinian soccer fans without provocation, right under the eyes of the international media.[28]

Palestinians in Jordan have also developed an intense hatred of the military as they are not allowed to join the army; they see Bedouin servicemen getting advantages in state education and health care, home taxes, and even tariff exemption on luxury vehicles.[29] In recent years, the Jordanian military has consumed up to 20.2 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP).[30]

Government spending does not end with the army. Jordan has one of the largest security and intelligence apparatuses in the Middle East, perhaps the largest compared to the size of its population. Since intelligence and security officers are labeled as "military servicemen" by the Jordanian Ministry of Finance, and their expense is considered military expenditure, Jordanian Palestinians see their tax dollars going to support job creation for posts from which they themselves are banned. At the same time, the country has not engaged in any warfare since 1970, leading some to conclude that this military spending is designed to protect the regime and not the country—a conclusion underscored by the Black September events.

A Path to Peace?

The desperate and destabilizing measures undertaken by the Hashemite regime to maintain its hold on power point to a need to revive the long-ignored solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict: the Jordanian option. With Jordan home to the largest percentage of Palestinians in the world, it is a more logical location for establishing Palestinian statehood than on another country's soil, i.e., Israel's.

There is, in fact, almost nothing un-Palestinian about Jordan except for the royal family. Despite decades of official imposition of a Bedouin image on the country, and even Bedouin accents on state television, the Palestinian identity is still the most dominant—to the point where the Jordanian capital, Amman, is the largest and most populated, Palestinian city anywhere. Palestinians view it as a symbol of their economic success and ability to excel. Moreover, empowering a Palestinian statehood for Jordan has a well-founded and legally accepted grounding: The minute the minimum level of democracy is applied to Jordan, the Palestinian majority would, by right, take over the political momentum.

For decades, however, regional players have entertained fears about empowering the Palestinians of Jordan. While there may be apprehension that Jordan as a Palestinian state would be hostile to Israel and would support terror attacks across their long border, such concerns, while legitimate, are puzzling. Israel has allowed the Palestinians to establish their own ruling entities as well as their own police and paramilitary forces on soil captured in the 1967 war, cheek by jowl with major Israeli population centers. Would a Palestinian state on the other side of the Jordan River pose any greater security threat to Israel than one in Judea and Samaria?

Moreover, the Jordan Valley serves as a much more effective, natural barrier between Jordan and Israel than any fences or walls. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed the centrality of Israeli control over the western side of the Jordan Valley, which he said would never be relinquished.[31] It is likely that the area's tough terrain together with Israel's military prowess have prevented the Hashemite regime from even considering war with Israel for more than forty years.

It could be argued that should the Palestinians control Jordan, they would downsize the military institutions, which are dominated by their Bedouin rivals. A Palestinian-ruled Amman might also seek to cut back on the current scale of military expenditures in the hope that the U.S. military presence in the region would protect the country from unwelcome encroachments by Damascus or Tehran. It could also greatly benefit from financial and economic incentives attending good-neighbor relations with Israel. Even if a Jordanian army under Palestinian commanders were to be kept at its current level, it would still be well below Israel's military and technological edge. After all, it is Israel's military superiority, rather than regional goodwill, that drove some Arab states to make peace with it.

The Palestinians in Jordan already depend on Israel for water[32] and have enjoyed a thriving economic boom driven by the "Qualified Industrial Zones," which allow for Jordanian clothing factories to export apparel to the United States at preferred tariff rates if a minimum percentage of the raw material comes from Israel.[33] Hundreds of Palestinian factory owners have prospered because of these zones. Expanding such cooperation between a future Palestinian state in Jordan and Israel would give the Palestinians even more reasons to maintain a good relationship with their neighbor.

Both the United States and Israel should consider reevaluating the Jordan option. Given the unpopularity of the Hashemite regime among its subjects, regime change in Amman should not be that difficult to achieve though active external intervention would likely yield better results than the wait-and-see-who-comes-to-power approach followed during the Egyptian revolution. After twelve years on the throne, and $7 billion dollars in U.S. aid, Abdullah is still running a leaky ship and creating obstacles to resolving the Palestinian issue.

Washington's leverage can come into play as well with the Jordanian armed forces which are, in theory, loyal to the king. With hundreds of troops undergoing training in the United States each year and almost $350 million handed out in military aid, the U.S. establishment could potentially influence their choices.

Recent events in the Middle East should serve as guidelines for what ought to be pursued and avoided. U.S. diplomacy failed to nurse a moderate opposition to Egypt's Mubarak, which could have blocked Islamists and anti-Americans from coming to power. The current turmoil in Libya has shown that the later the international community acts, the more complicated the situation can get. An intervention in Jordan could be much softer than in Libya and with no need for major action. Abdullah is an outsider ruling a poor country with few resources; his only "backbone" is Washington's political and financial support. In exchange for a promise of immunity, the king could be convinced to let the Palestinian majority rule and become a figurehead, like Britain's Queen Elizabeth.

As further assurance of a future Palestinian Jordan's peaceful intentions, very strict antiterrorism laws must be implemented, barring anyone who has incited violence from running for office, thus ruling out the Islamists even before they had a chance to start. Such an act should be rewarded with economic aid that actually filters down to the average Jordanian as opposed to the current situation, in which U.S. aid money seems to support mainly the Hashemites' lavish lifestyle.

Alongside downsizing the military, a defense agreement with Washington could be put in place to help protect the country against potentially hostile neighbors. Those who argue that Jordan needs a strong military to counter threats from abroad need only look again at its history: In 1970, when Syria invaded northern Jordan, King Hussein asked for U.S. and Israeli protection and was eventually saved by the Israeli air force, which managed to scare the Syrian troops back across the border.[34] Again in 2003, when Washington toppled Saddam Hussein, Amman asked for U.S.-operated Patriot missile batteries and currently favors an extended U.S. presence in Iraq as a Jordanian security need.[35]

Should the international community see an advantage to maintaining the military power of the new Palestinian state in Jordan as it is today, the inviolability of the peace treaty with Israel must be reasserted, indeed upgraded, extending into more practical and tangible economic and political arenas. A mutual defense and counterterrorism agreement with Israel should be struck, based on one simple concept—"good fences make good neighbors"—with the river Jordan as the fence.


Considering the Palestinian-Jordanian option for peace would not pose any discrimination against Palestinians living in the West Bank, nor would it compromise their human rights: They would be welcome to move to Jordan or stay where they are if they so wished. Free will should be the determinant, not political pressure. Besides, there are indications that many would not mind living in Jordan.[36] Were the Palestinians to dominate Jordan, this tendency will be significantly strengthened. This possibility has also recently been confirmed by a released cable from the U.S. embassy in Amman in which Palestinian political and community representatives in Jordan made clear that they would not consider the "right of return" should they secure their civil rights in Jordan.[37]

Empowering Palestinian control of Jordan and giving Palestinians all over the world a place they can call home could not only defuse the population and demographic problem for Palestinians in Judea and Samaria but would also solve the much more complicated issue of the "right of return" for Palestinians in other Arab countries. Approximately a million Palestinian refugees and their descendents live in Syria and Lebanon, with another 300,000 in Jordan whom the Hashemite government still refuses to accept as citizens. How much better could their future look if there were a welcoming Palestinian Jordan?

The Jordanian option seems the best possible and most viable solution to date. Decades of peace talks and billions of dollars invested by the international community have only brought more pain and suffering for both Palestinians and Israelis—alongside prosperity and wealth for the Hashemites and their cronies.

It is time for the international community to adopt a more logical and less costly solution rather than to persist in long discredited misconceptions. It is historically perplexing that the world should be reluctant to ask the Hashemites to leave Jordan, a country to which they are alien, while at the same time demanding that Israeli families be removed by force from decades-old communities in their ancestral homeland. Equally frustrating is the world's silence while Palestinians seeking refuge from fighting in Iraq are locked in desert camps in eastern Jordan because the regime refuses to settle them "unless foreign aid is provided."[38]

The question that needs to be answered at this point is: Has the West ever attempted to establish any contacts with a pro-peace, Palestinian-Jordanian opposition? Palestinians today yearn for leaders. Washington is presented with a historical opportunity to support a potential Palestinian leadership that believes in a peace-based, two-state solution with the River Jordan as the separating border between the two countries. Such leadership does seem to exist. Last September, for example, local leaders in Jordanian refugee camps stopped Palestinian youth from participating in mass protests against the Israeli Embassy in Amman;[39] as a result, barely 200 protesters showed up instead of thousands as in similar, previous protests.[40] As for East Jerusalem, under Israel's 44-year rule, Muslims, Christians, and members of all other religions have been able to visit and practice their faith freely, just as billions of people from all over the world visit the Vatican or Muslim pilgrims flock to Mecca. Yet under the Hashemite occupation of the city, this was not done. Without claiming citizenship, Jerusalem would remain an open city to all who come to visit.

The Jordanian option is an overdue solution: A moderate, peaceful, economically thriving, Palestinian home in Jordan would allow both Israelis and Palestinians to see a true and lasting peace.

[1] "Jordan: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, 2001," Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. Department of State, Mar. 4, 2002.
[2] "The Report: Emerging Jordan 2007," Oxford Business Group, London, Apr. 2007.
[3] "Jordan: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, 2001," Mar. 4, 2002.
[4] "Brief History," Civil Service Consumer Corporation, Government of Jordan, Amman, 2006.
[5] Jordan News Agency (PETRA, Amman), Jan. 10, 2011.
[6] "Jordan: Palestinians," World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples, Minority Rights Group International, 2008, accessed Sept. 20, 2011.
[7] "Stateless Again," Human Rights Watch, New York, Feb. 1, 2010.
[8] The Arab Times (Kuwait City), Jan. 13, 2011.
[9] "Jordan: Stop Withdrawing Nationality from Palestinian-Origin Citizens," Human Rights Watch, Washington, D.C., Feb. 1, 2010.
[10] "Jordan: Information on the right of abode of a Palestinian from the West Bank who holds a Jordanian passport which is valid for five years," Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Oct. 1, 1993, JOR15463.FE.
[11] "Jordan's treatment of failed refugee claimants," Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Mar. 9, 2004, JOR42458.E.
[12] The Palestinian National Charter, Resolutions of the Palestine National Council, July 1-17, 1968.
[13] Al-Jazeera (Riyadh), Oct. 1, 2005.
[14] Amman News, May 2, 2011.
[15] Ibid., May 2, 2011.
[16] Awni Jadu al-Ubaydi, Jama'at al-Ikhwan al-Muslimin fi al-Urdunn wa-Filastin, 1945-1970 (Amman: Safahat Ta'arikhiyya, 1991), pp. 38-41.
[17] Samer Libdeh, "The Hashemite Kingdom of Apartheid?" The Jerusalem Post, Apr. 26, 2010.
[18] CNN, Nov. 28, 2007.
[19] Michael Korda, Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia (New York: Harper, 2010), p. 19.
[20] Hürriyet (Istanbul), Mar. 4, 2011.
[21] Libdeh, "The Hashemite Kingdom of Apartheid?"
[22] PETRA, Aug. 6, 2011.
[23] "Profile: Jordanian Triple Agent Who Killed CIA Agents," The Telegraph (London), Jan. 2010.
[24] Al-Arabiya TV (Dubai), Aug. 3, 2004.
[25] The Jerusalem Post, Sept. 24, 2010.
[26] Los Angeles Times, Oct. 1, 2006.
[27] The Guardian (London), Dec. 6, 2010.
[28] Qudosi Chronicles (Long Beach, Calif.), Dec. 16, 2010.
[29] "Assessment for Palestinians in Jordan," Minorities at Risk, Center for International Development and Conflict Management, University of Maryland, College Park, Md., Dec. 31, 2006.
[30] "Jordan Military Expenditures—Percent of GDP," CIA World Factbook, May 16, 2008.
[31] Ha'aretz (Tel Aviv), Mar. 2, 2010.
[32] Lilach Grunfeld, "Jordan River Dispute," The Inventory of Conflict and Environment Case Studies, American University, Washington, D.C., Spring 1997.
[33] Mary Jane Bolle, Alfred B. Prados, and Jeremy M. Sharp, "Qualifying Industrial Zones in Jordan and Egypt," Congressional Research Service, Washington, D.C., July 5, 2006.
[34] Mitchell Bard, "Modern Jordan," Jewish Virtual Library, accessed Aug. 11, 2011.
[35] The Christian Science Monitor (Boston), Jan. 30, 2003.
[36] The Forward (New York), Apr. 13, 2007.
[37] "The Right of Return: What It Means in Jordan," U.S. Embassy, Amman, to Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C., Feb. 6, 2008.
[38] "Non-Iraqi Refugees from Iraq in Jordan," Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Feb. 20, 2007.
[39] Mudar Zahran, "A Plan B for Jordan?" Hudson Institute, Washington, D.C., Sept. 16, 2011.
[40] The Washington Post, Sept. 15, 2011.

Mudar Zahran is a Jordanian-Palestinian writer who resides in the United Kingdom as a political refugee. He served as an economic specialist and assistant to the policy coordinator at the U.S. Embassy in Amman before moving to the U.K. in 2010.


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