Saturday, February 18, 2012

Islamist Lobbies' Washington War on Arab and Muslim Liberals

by Essam Abdallah

A note from Investigative Project on Terrorism Executive Director Steven Emerson:

Please take the time to read this very important story written by a courageous Egyptian liberal intellectual about the Islamist and Muslim Brotherhood lobbies in Washington and the Obama Administration's secret collaboration with these pro-terrorist, anti-Western, anti-women, anti-American and anti-Semitic organizations. This is one of the most important articles I have read in years.

It was just revealed two days ago that FBI Director Mueller secretly met on February 8 at FBI headquarters with a coalition of groups including various Islamist and militant Arabic groups who in the past have defended Hamas and Hizballah and have also issued blatantly anti-Semitic statements. At this meeting, the FBI revealed that it had removed more than 1000 presentations and curricula on Islam from FBI offices around the country that was deemed "offensive." The FBI did not reveal what criteria was used to determine why material was considered "offensive" but knowledgeable law enforcement sources have told the IPT that it was these radical groups who made that determination. Moreover, numerous FBI agents have confirmed that from now on, FBI headquarters has banned all FBI offices from inviting any counter-terrorist specialists who are considered "anti-Islam" by Muslim Brotherhood front groups.

The February 8 FBI meeting was the culmination of a series of unpublicized directives issued in the last three months by top FBI officials to all its field offices to immediately recall and withdraw any presentation or curricula on Islam throughout the entire FBI. In fact, according to informed sources and undisclosed documents, the FBI directive was instigated by radical Muslim groups in the US who had repeatedly met with top officials of the Obama Administration to complain, among other things, that the mere usage of the term of "radical Islam" in FBI curricula was "offensive" and 'racist." And thus, directives went out by Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Mueller to censor all such material. Included in the material destroyed or removed by the FBI and the DOJ were powerpoints and articles that defined jihad as "holy war" or presentations that portrayed the Muslim Brotherhood as an organization bent on taking over the world—a major tenant that the Muslim Brotherhood has publicly stated for decades.

During the next several months, the IPT will be releasing a series of major investigative reports revealing the secret infiltration by and collaboration with radical Islamic organizations by the Obama administration that has spread to the National Security Council, the Dept of Justice, the FBI, the Dept of Homeland Security, the CIA and the State Department as well as local law enforcement.


The most dramatic oppression of the region's civil societies and the Arab Spring is not by means of weapons, or in the Middle East. It is not led by Gaddafi, Mubarak, Bin Ali, Saleh, or Assad. It is led by the powerful Islamist lobbies in Washington DC. People may find my words curious if not provocative. But my arguments are sharp and well understood by many Arab and middle eastern liberals and freedom fighters. Indeed, we in the region, who are struggling for real democracy, not for the one time election type of democracy have been asking ourselves since January 2011 as the winds of Arab spring started blowing, why isn't the West in general and the United States Administration in particular clearly and forcefully supporting our civil societies and particularly the secular democrats of the region? Why were the bureaucracies in Washington and in Brussels partnering with Islamists in the region and not with their natural allies the democracy promoting political forces?

Months into the Arab Spring, we realized that the Western powers, and the Obama Administration have put their support behind the new authoritarians, those who are claiming they will be brought to power via the votes of the people. Well, it is not quite so.

The Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic Nahda of Tunisia, the Justice Party of Morocco and the Islamist militias in Libya's Transitional National Council have been systematically supported by Washington at the expense of real liberal and secular forces. We saw day by day how the White House guided carefully the statements and the actions of the US and the State Department followed through to give all the chances to the Islamists and almost no chances to the secular and revolutionary youth. We will come back to detail these diplomatic and financial maneuvers which are giving victory to the fundamentalists while the seculars and progressives are going to be smashed by the forthcoming regimes.

In the US, there are interests that determine foreign policy. And there are lobbies that put pressure to get their objectives met in foreign policy. One of the most powerful lobbies in America under the Obama Administration is the Muslim Brotherhood greater lobby, which has been in action for many years. This lobby has secured many operatives inside the Administration and has been successful in directing US policy towards the Arab world. Among leading advisors sympathetic to the Ikhwan is Daliah Mogahed (Mujahid) and her associate, Georgetown Professor John Esposito. Just as shocking, there is also a pro-Iranian lobby that has been influencing US policy towards Iran and Hezbollah in the region.

One of the most important activities of the Islamist lobby in the US is the waging of political and media wars on the liberal Arabs and Middle Eastern figures and groups in America. This battlefield is among the most important in influencing Washington's policies in the Arab world. If you strike at the liberal and democratic Middle Eastern groups in Washington who are trying to gain support for civil societies in the region, you actually win a major battle. You will be able to influence the resources of the US Government to support the Islamists in the Middle East and not the weak democrats. This huge war waged by the Islamist lobbies in America started at the end of the Cold war and continued all the way till the Arab spring. The two main forces of this lobby are the Muslim Brotherhood fronts and the Iranian fronts. According to research available in the US, the Ikhwan fronts such as CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations), led by Hamas supporter Nihad Awad, as well as the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the Islamic Society of North America, and others waged their political war to block the representatives of Arab liberals and Muslim moderates from making their case to the American public. The Iranian lobby, exemplified by the National Iranian American Committee (NIAC), led by Trita Parsi, has been hitting at Iranian exiles.

Since the 1990s CAIR and its allies have attacked Copts, Southern Sudanese, Lebanese, Syrian reformers, Assyrians and Chaldeans, and Muslim dissidents in the United States. The Ikhwan of America demonized any publication, book, article, or interview in the national media or local press raising the issue of secular freedoms in the Middle East. The Islamists wanted to eliminate the liberal cause in the Arab world and replace it with the cause of the Islamists. What is also shocking is that CAIR and its allies stood by the oppressive regimes and visited them, claiming they speak on behalf of the peoples. CAIR and the Brotherhood fronts in America destroyed systematically every project that would have defended the seculars and liberals originating from the Middle East. The notorious and well-funded Islamists of the US allowed no book, documentary, or show on the liberals in Arab civil societies to see the light.

Thanks to this powerful lobbying campaign, the American public was not given a chance to learn about the deep feelings on the youth in the region. Americans were led to believe that all Muslims, all Arabs and all Middle Easterners were a strange species of humans who cannot appreciate freedom. Instead, the American Islamists, helped by apologists on the petrodollars payrolls, convinced the mainstream media that the Arab world has authoritarians and Islamists only.

Dr Shawki Karas, president of the American Coptic Association, told me in the late 1990s how he was harassed by Islamist activists for speaking up against the Mubarak regime and the Muslim Brotherhood in America. He was threatened with losing his job at the college where he taught. Reverend Keith Roderick, who has assembled a coalition of more than 50 group rights from the Muslim world, was severely attacked by the Islamists and was threatened to be removed from his church position. Muslim American leaders who are conservative and secular, such as Dr Zuhdi Jasser, were crucified by CAIR and the Brotherhood for daring to challenge the Party line of the Isl.amists in America and claiming that the Jihadists are the problem in the region. Muslim liberal dissidents such as Somali Ayan Hirsi Ali, Saudi Ali al Yammi, Syrian Farid Ghadri, Iranian Manda Ervin, and many others were trashed by the Islamist lobbies to block them from defending the causes of secular liberty in the US. Egyptian liberals as well as seculars and democracy activists from Iraq, Sudan, Syria, and other countries have been attacked by CAIR and allies. The pro-Iranian lobby targeted most Iranian-American groups and tried to discredit them, particularly with the rise of the Green Revolution in Iran. By smearing the Muslim liberal exiles, the Islamists were trying to destroy their causes in the mother countries. In the 1990s and the years that followed 9/11 the region's dictators supported the efforts by Islamist lobbies to crush the liberal exiles. The Mubarak, Bashir, Gaddafi, Assad, and Khomeinist regimes fully supported the so-called Islamophobia campaign waged by CAIR and its Iranian counterpart NIAC against dissidents for calling for secular democracy in the region. The dissidents were accused of being pro-Western by both the Islamists and the dictators.

The Islamist lobbies also severely attacked members of the US Congress such as Democrats Tom Lantos, who has since passed away, Eliot Engel, Howard Berman, Gary Ackerman, and Joe Lieberman as well as Republicans Frank Wolfe, Chris Smith, Trent Franks, John McCain, Rick Santorum, and Sam Brownback for their efforts in passing legislative acts in support for democracy and liberty in the Middle East. CAIR and NIAC heavily savaged President Bush's speeches on Freedom Forward in the Middle East, deploying all the resources they had to block US support to liberal democrats in the region. Islamist lobbies in Washington are directly responsible for killing any initiative in the US Government to support Darfur, southern Sudan, Lebanon, the Kurds, liberal women in the Muslim world, and true democrats in the Arab world and Muslim Africa.

In the think tank world, CAIR and its allies aggressively attacked scholars who raised the issue of persecution against seculars or minorities in the Arab world and Iran. Among those attacked were Nina Shea and Paul Marshal from the Hudson Institute and the founder of an anti-slavery group, Dr Charles Jacobs, who was exposing the Sudan regime for its atrocities. Last but not least is the Islamists' relentless campaign to stirke at top scholars who advise Government and appear in the media to push for democratic liberation in the region. The vast and vicious attacks leveled against Professor Walid Phares—initially by CAIR's Nihad Awad and then widened by pro-Hezbollah and Muslim Brotherhood operatives online—has revealed to Arab and Middle Eastern liberal and seculars how ferocious is the battle for the Middle East in the US. Phares's books, particularly the latest one, The Coming Revolution: Struggle for Freedom in the Middle East (2010), hit the Islamist agenda hard by predicting the civil society revolts in the Middle East and then predicting how the Islamists would try to control them. Phares was attacked by an army of Jihadist militia online like no author since Samuel Huntington in the 1990s. As a freedom activist from the Middle East, Mustafa Geha, wrote, Phares is a hero to Muslim liberals. Along with dissidents, lawmakers, experts, and human rights activists, Phares is a force driving for a strategic change in US foreign policy towards supporting secular democracies in the region. This explains why the Islamists of America are fighting the battle for the forthcoming regimes with all the means they have.

Dr. Essam Abdallah is an Egyptian liberal intellectual who teaches at Ain Shams University and writes for the leading Arab liberal publication Elaph.


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

The Myth and Danger of Non-Interventionism

by Josh Holler

When it comes to analyzing non-interventionism, it's helpful to identify the two extremes of the spectrum of debate. On one hand, the United States could mind its own business, withdraw its troops entirely from military bases worldwide, cash in the savings, and live prosperously as America once did in its infant years. On the other hand, the U.S. can continue the advancement of freedom and democracy through its imperialistic ideals, spend money into oblivion, and dominate the world in a fashion indicative of a hegemony. The friction between these two paradigms has been present for many years, and more so recently in light of the U.S.'s economic situation.

Simply put, the first approach of returning to a period of isolationism is not an option for the United States, and no reasonable person should argue for it. Yet non-interference is a proposed and advocated position that draws upon the history of prosperity in the U.S. when it adhered to the founding fathers' wisdom and did not get involved with foreign affairs.

According to Huntington1, the most recent period of isolation the United States ever experienced was between 1815 and 1914. The reality of the matter, though, is that while the United States may have seemed "isolated," it was actually incredibly active in the world theater. Its activities included developing relations, interfering fairly regularly in other nations' affairs for various reasons, and establishing trade that would lead to globalization.

Contrary to the labeling of an isolated period, the actual presence of the U.S. is captured most accurately by Meade in his book Special Providence:

As early as 1832, the United States sent a fleet to the Falkland Islands to reduce an Argentine garrison that had harassed American shipping. The Mexican War was, of course, the greatest example of American intervention, but by the Civil War, American forces had seen action in Haiti (1799, 1800, 1817-21), Tripoli (1815), the Marquesas Islands (1813-14), Spanish Florida (1806-10, 1812, 1813, 1814, 1816-18, 1817), what is now the Dominican Republic (1800), Curacao (1800), the Galapagos Islands (1813), Cuba (1822), Puerto Rico (1824), Argentina (1833, 1852, 1853), and Peru (1835-36). Between the Civil War and the Spanish-American War, marines were sent to Cuba, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Columbia, and Haiti.2

This is by no means an exhaustive list of America's presence in other countries during the "isolated" time period, either. The intervention into Guangzhou (1843), Liberia (1860), Japan (1863), Panama (1863), and China (1900)2 only add to a long list of foreign endeavors illustrating that the U.S. has never been isolated or a nation of non-interferers.

So the belief in the myth of a past "non-interference America" is not a very sophisticated or educated one. Some relatively quiet periods do exist in U.S. foreign affairs from time to time, but these hardly characterize the history of America in these matters at all.

Over the course of history, the myth of isolationism has snuck its way into increasing popularity and belief, evolving into the current paradigm and school of thought that is non-interventionism or non-interference. A number of politicians in the U.S. today wish to switch U.S. foreign policy to this framework. Ron Paul, a devoted non-interventionist, has been notorious for his inaccurate claims that the U.S. has been subject to terrorist attacks because of the many U.S. bases throughout the world. According to this belief, if the U.S. followed a non-interventionist policy, 9/11 would have never happened.

Yet Paul and others who subscribe to this view have serious facts to wrestle with. First is that these other nations, such as Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland, that are very much non-interferers in our modern world, are also subject to terrorist attacks. These countries are not "occupiers," in Ron Paul's parlance, but somehow they fall subject to attacks nonetheless. Secondly, the U.S. leaving its bases and involvement in Beirut as well as Somalia after suffering losses in attacks and conflicts has only encouraged radical Islamists rather than caused them to cease. In the theoretical framework of non-interventionists, this should have appeased those wishing to visit harm upon America.

In light of 9/11, however, it is highly probable that radical Islamists had already been at war with the U.S. since before any base went up in Beirut or Somalia. Said Islamists would sooner declare a fatwa than accept a withdrawal of troops. In the specific cases mentioned above, the U.S., in their eyes, was perceived to lack the resolve to fight after lives were lost and the stakes were raised.

The power-projection that the U.S. possesses is what aids so greatly in protecting America, freedom, and democracy throughout the world. If the U.S. withdraws its troops everywhere, it sacrifices an important role in shaping the world in a positive way. This does not mean that interference is always the answer, however, It requires good judgment and prudence to choose from the forms, quantity, and variations of statecraft. This includes the "use of assets or the resources and tools (economic, military, intelligence, [and] media)"3.

If the U.S. steps aside as the principal shaper of the world, who will step up to fulfill the role? China is already on the rise, advancing its economy greatly in the past decade. Its military, already quite large, is growing in its diversity of logistic capability and mobility.

China already possesses nuclear weapons and now its first aircraft carrier. It did not take long for China to move from a coastal force to having a small fleet. How long will their "good will missions" last until they want to further expand their own power projection? The possible foundation for this is already in the works.

By constantly undermining the Western powers on the U.N. Security Council, the Chinese have also sent messages in the new scramble for Africa that they do not care about the state of a developing country as long as it benefits them. Namibia, Uganda, and Zimbabwe are but a few of these nations that have seen significant investments and loans enter their country while their resources leave to China.

It is a strong trend in history that a nation that is democratic before economic prosperity tends to keep its democracy and improve upon it. Likewise, a nation that economically attempts to stand up before it lays the foundation for democracy faces high likelihood of having its resources exploited by the foreign investors, and by its own leaders. In addition to this, the power of the government lies in the hands of a few, and the majority of the people suffer bitterly as a result.

Take a look at oil-rich nations such as Nigeria, Turkmenistan, and now Syria that have been unable to achieve democracy or substantial freedom. How long will it take for these nations to achieve any form of democracy or basic freedoms if they are constantly exploited by un-democratic countries such as China? The foreign policy of China is the antithesis of the U.S.'s own when considering the fact that China is unresolved and apathetic when it comes to pressuring Syria to stop killing its own people. A regime that has killed five thousand is likely supported by Iran and has not received hard sanctions against it on account of China possessing veto power in the U.N. Security Council.

Should it come as a surprise that the 1989 protest in Tiananmen Square is censored in Chinese textbooks and, until recently, was also censored by Google? The People's Republic of China has even censored its American Idol knock-off because the people voted for a winner. The presence of the underground church and its endured suppression cast doubt upon the future of freedoms in China, as evaluated by Freedom House.

No, the U.S. must maintain its role in the world, not stepping down or backing away from its important part. The number-one problem the U.S. faces, though, is the challenge of the economy. This is a very valid point and a dark reality that the U.S. must come to terms with. The military and the defense department should not be the first to be put on the chopping block of funding cuts.

If frivolous spending is occurring, then yes, of course, get rid of it, be wise, and invest well. However, there already exist many ways to cut spending significantly and bring certainty back to employers and the economy. The Heritage Foundation lists 10 of these examples, in which there is significant government waste and flexibility already within the budget to make cuts (not to mention repealing ObamaCare), and not one of them includes the military.

Being a responsible steward of money is good not just for the U.S., but also for the world. The successes of the U.S. become the successes of others in the world; in the same manner, so do the failures. Those who advocate for billions of dollars in U.S. foreign aid can take lessons from this; many occurrences take place in which the foreign aid that is given does more harm than good. This requires a true understanding of the reality of a problem, including the willingness to work through NGOs and appropriate forms of statecraft. Simply throwing money around is not enough.

Another point of criticism of interventionism comes in opposition to the notion of nation-building and the failures that are "guaranteed" in this regard. Iraq and Afghanistan are the most recent examples of this. Perhaps the first time a nation seeks freedom and just governance, it will fail, but nations such as the United Kingdom, France, Japan, and the United States have all taken their own unique routes to achieve a form of freedom and governance -- none of which worked the first time. To that effect, past failures and present challenges should not prevent the U.S. from supporting other nations that have an opportunity to achieve freedom. It takes leadership and calculated risks to pick and choose battles while exercising the wisdom to know how and when to intervene.

Yet another common rejection to the U.S.'s involvement in foreign affairs comes from non-interventionists invoking the founding fathers' warnings of foreign entanglements. Interestingly, the Constitution gave the basis for the U.S. to engage in foreign affairs to begin with. The Articles of Confederation did not allow for a unified diplomacy, effective foreign policy with other nations, or even the ability to make war (more accurately, it did not grant the power to levy taxes, making the ability to raise and maintain an army very difficult). Jefferson, who warned of entanglements, could not avoid foreign policy altogether himself. He simply urged caution, as Washington did, when it comes to foreign entanglements. This was the placement not of an absolute to never be involved with the world, but rather of an absolute to seek a higher standard than others. And when the U.S. falls short, be encouraged by the fact that the U.S.'s aims are higher than the rest.

The modern world is globalized, connected, and increasingly dangerous. The U.S. should be careful but not timid, while being willing to engage oppression and tyranny whenever and wherever they may appear. Circling the wagons would be unjust for freedom, democracy, and humanity everywhere. Missed opportunities and failed attempts have happened in Somalia, Rwanda, Iran, Bosnia, and most recently in Iraq with the Christians. Responsibility, good judgment, and a resolve to learn and adapt to new challenges -- not the neutrality of non-interventionism -- should be characteristic of the U.S.'s foreign policy stance.

To sit back and watch genocide occur is of the same neutrality that led to Hitler's rise to power. As Elie Wiesel said, "[n]eutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented." A belief in practicing non-interference is indicative of the appeasement which Reagan warned about; it is perilous, and just as foolish as devastating an economy and weakening a country from within.

1Ross, Dennis. "Preface: X." Statecraft: And How to Restore America's Standing in the World. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2008.

2Huntington, Samuel P. "American Ideals versus American Institutions." Political Science Quarterly 97.1 (1982): 1-37.

3Mead, Walter Russell. "Chapter 1: The American Foreign Policy Tradition." Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World. New York: Knopf, 2001. 24-25.

Josh Holler served as an Infantry Marine with 1st Battalion 7th Marine Regiment on two tours to Iraq. He is currently on the board of directors for Uganda N.O.W. Outreach and is pursuing a degree in international relations from Wheaton College. You can follow him on twitter @Josh Holler.


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

The Big Picture on Why the Palestinians Always Say 'No'

by Jack Schwartzwald

Addressing the Brookings Institution on December 2, 2011, U. S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta rebuked Israel for not doing enough to promote peace with the Palestinians, demanding that Israel's leaders "just get to the damned [peace] table." But the notion that Israel bears any (much less primary) responsibility for the absence of peace or Palestinian statehood is a difficult case to make.

During the British Mandate, the Jews of Palestine twice agreed to peace based on the country's partition into Arab and Jewish states -- first at the time of the 1937 Peel Commission Report and second with the U.N.'s historic 1947 partition vote. Both times the Palestinian leadership bluntly declined the offer. The same answer was given when Levi Eshkol discussed Palestinian autonomy with West Bank Arab "notables" (1968), when Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat signed the Camp David Framework for the West Bank and Gaza (1979), and when Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert made their respective statehood offers to Yasir Arafat (2000-01) and Mahmoud Abbas (2008).

The most obvious reason for all this Palestinian naysaying is that national expression for Palestinians has never been the goal of the "Palestinian" movement. The true goal (pursued in concert with the Arab world at large), is, and always has been, the eradication of Jewish national expression in Judaism's ancestral homeland. No one, perhaps, has expressed this fact more succinctly than PLO executive committee member Zahir Muhsein, who told the Dutch Newspaper Trouw in 1977, "The Palestinian people does not exist. ... Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct 'Palestinian people' to oppose Zionism."

The assault on Jewish national identity, however, is actually part of a more pervasive strategy pursued by Islamists throughout the Middle East. "Since the fall of the Ottoman Empire and Western decolonization," writes Professor Walid Phares, "dominant ethnicities in the Greater Middle East [i.e., Arab, Persian and Turkish] have subjected regional minorities to territorial and political repression on the one hand, and cultural and linguistic suppression on the other." Well-known examples of this assault on ethno-religious identities include Turkey's Armenian genocide (1915-23) and Saddam Hussein's use of poison gas against Iraqi Kurds.

It was hoped that 2011's "Arab Spring" might lead the region toward greater democratic freedoms, but as the dictators fell, a less agreeable picture emerged. Libya and Egypt have moved inexorably toward sharia law (which traditionally treats non-Muslims as subjugated second-class citizens). The peril has already been felt by Egypt's Coptic Christians -- 100,000 of whom have fled the country since the fall of Hosni Mubarak.

Many Westerners assume that Muslims are the indigenous people in Arab lands. In fact, there are a multitude of ethnic Christian minorities throughout the region whose heritage antedates the Muslim conquest. The Copts are such a people. Christianized in the 1st Century AD by Saint Matthew, the Copts date their ethnicity to the days of the Pharaohs. Since the Muslim Conquest in the 7th Century AD, they have endured unceasing second-class citizenship in their own homeland. Having no territorial ambitions, the Copts, who constitute at least 10% of the Egyptian population, have long striven for basic civil rights -- including the right to speak the Coptic language, which is presently outlawed and kept alive only in Church prayers. Far from bringing relief to Christians, Egypt's "Arab Spring" has magnified their torment. According to a May 2011 French news report, "an explosion of violence against the Coptic Christian community" has been in train since Mubarak's fall. On September 30, 2011, for example, Muslim vandals in the town of El-Marinab set fire to St. George's Church. When members of the Coptic community attempted a peaceful march to the Maspero state TV building in protest, Egyptian soldiers drove armored personnel carriers into the crowd, crushing a number of protesters to death. The TV station, meanwhile, falsely proclaimed a threat to the regime, thereby inciting anti-Christian riots in Cairo.

Iraqi Christians are another case in point. Iraq's Assyrian (Orthodox) and Chaldean (Catholic) communities were Christianized in the 1st Century AD, but their ethnicity dates to the Ancient Assyrian Empire. Since Saddam Hussein's fall in 2003, Assyrian Christians have come under increasing attack by the Muslim majority. Predictably, the U.S. withdrawal in 2010-11 sparked even more anti-Christian violence. The worst instance occurred in October 2010, when al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorists burst into the Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad and opened fire on the congregation, killing priests and parishioners alike. When Iraqi security forces attempted to intervene, two of the attackers detonated suicide vests. In all, 58 worshipers were killed and many more wounded.

Since 2003, an estimated 800,000 of Iraq's 1.4 million Christians have fled. The unprecedented exodus has prompted Iraqi Christian leaders to demand an autonomous province guarded by Christian security forces in Iraq's Nineveh Plains region. Meanwhile, many Assyrian émigrés have settled in neighboring Syria, only to face fears that they will be sent fleeing again should Bashar Assad's regime fall. Lebanon's Maronite Church patriarch has spoken publicly on the topic, saying, "We are with ... reforms and human rights [in Syria,] but we hope the price will not be the same as what happened in Iraq."

Other examples are legion. Lebanon's Maronites (and other Christian sects) accounted for 54% of Lebanon's population in 1932. The PLO ravages of the 1970s-80s, the 1975-76 Civil War, and, more recently, maltreatment at the hands of Hezb'allah have lowered this figure to an estimated 30%-40%. (During the 2006 Lebanon War, Hezb'allah terrorists fired rockets and mortars from Christian neighborhoods hoping that Israeli return fire would strike innocent Christians.) In southern Sudan, 2 million African Christians and animists have been killed in a decades-long struggle for autonomy from the domineering Arab north. Even the "long-suffering" Palestinians have found opportunity to persecute Christians. When the Palestinian Authority obtained control over Bethlehem in 1994, the city had a 60% Christian majority. Anti-Christian violence and intimidation since that time have caused a general flight. By 2001 Christians accounted for just 20% of the population, and they continue to leave.

The list goes on -- and it constitutes something more than simple persecution of Christians. Walid Phares has termed it "the negation of cultural identity" of targeted minorities living in the "circle of Arab states." Arab and Palestinian attitudes towards Israel are simply further examples of the ongoing process. For what is the Palestinian refusal to allow Jews to pray on the Temple Mount (Judaism's holiest site) or their denial of the existence of a Jewish Temple there (even as they labor to destroy priceless Temple artifacts from beneath the Mount's surface) or their official Palestinian Authority maps (showing Israel wholly replaced by a Palestinian state) if not an attempt to negate Jewish cultural identity in Judaism's birthplace?

In viewing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Leon Panetta has demonstrated an inability to perceive which side is obstructing peace. Perhaps if he takes a step back and looks at the big picture, he will see things in sharper focus; for it is the regional Islamist aspiration to suppress non-Muslim ethno-religious identities -- and not a lack of Israeli pacifism -- that explains why the Palestinians always say "no."

Jack Schwartzwald is a clinical assistant professor of medicine at Brown University and the author of Nine Lives of Israel (McFarland Publishing, Spring 2012).


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Who Are America’s Reliable Allies?

by Alan M. Dershowitz

In a quickly changing world, it is important to ask which countries the United States can always count on in times of crisis. Recent events have shortened that list considerably.

India has long claimed to be a reliable ally, but it is now undercutting American efforts to impose meaningful sanctions against Iran. Its help cannot any longer be counted on in the struggle against the greatest danger faced by the United States—an Iran with nuclear weapons. Japan, another ally, is dilly dallying on sanctions as well. Brazil used to be a reliable partner, until it began to fall under the sway of Venezuela’s Chavez, who is closely allied with Iran and other American enemies. The “new” Russia and China demonstrated their lack of reliability when they vetoed American efforts in the Security Council to help resolve the Syrian crisis. Egypt, which has received billions of dollars of American aid, has defied American warnings not to put US citizens on trial on phony, trumped-up charges. Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates are now playing footsy with Hamas and Hezbollah, also Iranian surrogates, as they worry about the contagion of the Arab Spring and the growing influence of the Muslim Brotherhood.

It turns out that other than Europe, Israel may be America’s only remaining reliable ally. And even some European countries, such as France, Sweden and Norway, are in doubt.

Israel will always remain a strong American ally because it shares an American commitment to democracy, to freedom of religion, to freedom of expression and to an open market economy. It also shares a common commitment to fight against terrorism and other threats to the security of the United States—a commitment that is less that vigorous among some European countries.

Some political scientists and state department officials, who call themselves “realists”, question Israel’s value as an American ally. They are wrong, and recent events confirm how wrong they are and have been.

There is no doubt that America helps Israel enormously, as it should help those who share our democratic values. But there is also no doubt that Israel helps the United States considerably, by sharing its extraordinary intelligence-gathering capabilities, its military R&D, its computer know-how and other intangibles. As other nations in the region debate whether American troops should even be allowed to set foot on their territory, Israel welcomes the American military to engage in joint exercises. In its nearly 64 years of existence, Israel has never asked for a single American soldier to fight its battles. It fights its own battles while assisting the American military in defending our country against terrorism and other threats to our citizens.

It’s time for the realists to acknowledge that Israel not only has a moral and ideological claim to American support, but it also has a claim base on realpolitik. Moreover, Israeli exports—medical, environmental, educational, cultural, agricultural, and high tech—contribute to the quality of life of all Americans. No country is history has contributed more in 64 years to the quality of life of the world’s population than Israel has since its birth.

Those are some of the reasons why thoughtful Americans overwhelmingly support Israel, why every mainstream presidential candidate supports Israel’s security, and why Israel has never been a divisive issue in American politics, as it has sometimes been in European politics.

This commonality of interests should not immunize Israeli policies and actions from legitimate and reasonable criticism, any more than England’s shared values should immunize that country from criticism. Allies need not agree on every aspect of each other’s policy to remain supportive friends. But Israel’s reliability as an eternal American ally—and its many contributions to American security and daily life—should cause us to treat that nation as a friend and to resolve reasonable doubts in its favor.

Unfortunately, the opposite is being advocated by some “realists,” hard left academics and extremist student activists. They see Israel as an enemy and resolve all doubts against it. They single out the Jewish state for divestment, boycotts and sanctions, (DBS)—ignoring real human rights offenders such as China, Cuba, Zimbabwe, Iran and Syria. They apply a double standard of judgment against Israel. They do not limit their hostility to particular Israeli actions or policies. Instead, they seek to delegitimate the entire concept of a secular, democratic, pluralistic nation state for the Jewish people in a world that includes numerous “Arab,” “Muslim,” “Christian,” “Hindu” and other far more particularistic states.

At its root much of the animus directed at Israel, particularly from the hard left, is actually directed at the United States. The hard left hates America, and it also hates its reliable allies such as Israel. But for those of us who love America, support for Israel—its most reliable ally—comes naturally.

So let our great nation continue to support the security and survival of another great democracy with the understanding that there is mutual benefit to our enduring alliance and friendship. Israel, unlike many other fair weather allies, can always be counted on by the United States.

Alan M. Dershowitz


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

Haaretz: Israel’s Anti-Semitic Rag

by P. David Hornik

Haaretz, Israel’s left-wing daily, used to be Israel’s newspaper of record and comparable to the New York Times, read also by those who differed from its line. Today Haaretz is read by less than 6 percent of Israelis, overwhelmingly composed of the country’s left-wing “elite.” Haaretz comes in far behind successful newcomer, right-of-center Israel Hayom at 38% and left-of-center Yediot Aharonot at 36%.

Haaretz’s English website, however, gets a very high Alexa ranking—around the 3900th most popular website in the world and currently neck-and-neck with the centrist Jerusalem Post’s site. Indeed, Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu allegedly called (his office later denied it) Haaretz and the New York Times Israel’s “two main enemies” and said:

They set the agenda for an anti-Israel campaign all over the world. Journalists read them every morning and base their news stories…on what they read in the New York Times and Haaretz.

Whether or not Netanyahu said it, he could have added that foreign diplomats as well base their views of Israel, and their perceptions—however skewed—of Israeli opinion, on what they read in Haaretz.

For his part, Israeli justice minister Yaakov Neeman has allegedly gone even further and likened Haaretz to Der Stürmer.

Are such charges justified? To get an idea on whether they are, I followed Haaretz’s English website’s op-eds and editorials through the Israeli workweek of Sunday, January 29 to Friday, February 3. Having done the same experiment eight years ago, I can say right away that Haaretz has, if anything, gotten worse since then. (While its reporting is also biased, the bias is easier to demonstrate in opinion articles.) This despite the fact that last August, Aluf Benn became Haaretz’s new editor in chief.

For years Benn was a thoughtful left-of-center columnist for the paper who made valid, if arguable, points. Under his tenure, though, Haaretz has kept publishing the same bevy of radical leftists. It appears inevitable considering that the Schocken family, which has owned the paper since 1937, still holds a dominant 60% stake of Haaretz. In an op-ed last November, current Haaretz publisher Amos Schocken portrayed Israel as a country verging on apartheid.

During the week in question, January 29-February 3, Haaretz published 30 op-eds. Fifteen of these could be called neutral on political, left-right issues. Exactly one—by Haaretz’s sole regular right-wing columnist, Israel Harel—was a discussion from a right-wing perspective. Of the other 14, 11 were virulently left-wing and 3 more moderately so. As for the editorials, all six were harsh attacks on Israeli policy, leadership, and institutions. The following is only a sampling from the week.

On Sunday, Gideon Levy published a piece on a recent poll finding high levels of religious beliefs in the Israeli Jewish population. For instance, 84% believe in God, 70% believe Jews are the chosen people, 76% eat kosher at home—figures far beyond the approximately 25% of the Jewish population that is formally observant. This poll, to put it mildly, did not sit well with Levy and other Haaretz pundits.

Levy, for his part, wrote:

Expressions of racism toward Arabs and foreigners, Israel’s arrogant attitude toward international opinion—these too can be explained by the benighted, primeval belief of the majority of Israelis (70 percent ) that we enjoy complete license because You chose us.… we are in the West Bank above all because the majority of Israelis believe that it is not only the land of the patriarchs, but that this fact gives us a patrimonial right to sovereignty, to cruelty, to abuse and to occupation—and to hell with the position of the international community and the principles of international law, because, after all, we were chosen from among all other peoples.

That is not a valid polemic but, rather, an anti-Semitic rant. As Shmuel Rosner notes regarding the traditional Jewish belief in chosenness,

There’s nothing wrong with such belief. When Americans were asked by Gallup if their nation “has a unique character that makes it the greatest country in the world,” 80 percent said yes. According to a Pew survey, “About half of Americans (49 percent) and Germans (47 percent) agree with the statement, ‘Our people are not perfect, but our culture is superior to others.’”

Israelis, of course, do not regard chosenness as a license to commit crimes, and Levy cannot cite any evidence that they do. He just asserts it, or “spits it” would be more accurate.

Also riding the antireligious tide on Sunday, Amir Oren complained that the Israeli army “was another kind of army [once], before the chief rabbi of the air force took office, before the religious takeover of aircraft hangars, and their takeover of the rest of the Israel Defense Forces.” Oren approvingly quotes an anonymous letter to the chief of staff by a secular air force pilot:

…maybe I should let you know that the members of the air force, at least from [a certain] base, will not be meeting with authors, or guides who would teach them about nature and about various places around the country, or scientists or philosophers, or journalists or historians, or people looking at future trends. Only with religious people, who my son describes as crazy. I find no reason to assume that this disease only exists on this one particular base…. Don’t be surprised if normal soldiers don’t find their place in your army of God.

If this sounds like hatred of religious Jews, it is; and it is no less clear that hatred of a category of Jews is anti-Semitism. It should be added that, whatever legitimate controversies may exist about religion’s role in the Israeli army, one reason it has become more prominent there is that religious Israelis now disproportionately volunteer to be officers and combat soldiers—a fact I didn’t come across anywhere in Haaretz’s rants.

And Sunday’s editorial weighed in on the “failed” (except that all serious commentators knew they didn’t stand a chance) Israeli-Palestinians talks in Jordan, saying these were intentionally scuttled by Israel and adding:

Netanyahu, with [Defense Minister Ehud] Barak’s help, has turned the Iranian nuclear threat into an impressive ploy to distract attention from settlement policy and the perpetuation of the occupation…. The death certificate of negotiations based on the two-state solution is a badge of shame for Israeli society. It’s hard to understand how a society that has so impressively brought social injustice to the top of the agenda has fallen victim to our nationalist-religious leaders’ criminal ploy.

Here it should be noted that neither Netanyahu nor—even less so—Barak is considered religious in Israeli terms. But these bad characters, we see—with “Israeli society” in tow—are leading the world by the nose on the Iranian-nuke issue so they can tighten their grip on the West Bank. If this reminds you of Walt, Mearsheimer, Patrick Buchanan, & Co., it should—and it’s coming from a made-in-Israel website.

That Israel is an “apartheid state” is, of course, another shibboleth of contemporary anti-Semitism. It was well represented in Haaretz on Monday by Druze writer and contributor Salman Masalha who, in another crude rant, drew direct parallels between Israel and apartheid South Africa. Then there was Akiva Eldar, whose tirade also featured the crafty, peace-destroying Netanyahu:

If Netanyahu had not existed, the settlers would have been forced to invent him. It has cost him peanuts to remove some of the roadblocks in the West Bank, to lift part of the blockade on the Gaza Strip, and to pay a bit of lip service to “the peace process.” And, he has managed to preserve all the settlers’ interests.

…Fact: It is possible to gobble up additional territories and also be depicted as a moderate leader while managing to keep relations with the United States and Europe intact.

The settlers can relax. The general positions outlined last week in Jordan to the Palestinians [were] nothing more than another exercise aimed at presenting Netanyahu as a partner to peace and the Palestinians as the ones who turn it down….

Tricky Jews at it again; all is subterfuge, don’t believe a word they say.

Especially offensive, though, was Monday’s column by Merav Michaeli, who also focused on the poll that so upset Gideon Levy but found a different significance in it:

The issue that should have sparked panic in the survey is the total consensus among Israeli Jews…that the “guiding principle” for the country and for Judaism itself is “to remember the Holocaust.” Ninety-eight percent of the respondents consider it either fairly important or very important to remember the Holocaust, attributing to it even more weight than to living in Israel, the Sabbath, the Passover seder and the feeling of belonging to the Jewish people.

…That’s the way it is with traumas…. Trauma leads to belligerence and a strong tendency to wreak havoc on one’s surroundings….

A very high societal awareness of the Holocaust—cause for “panic”! From a non-Haaretz perspective, this might be seen as an educational success and a welcome phenomenon. Holocaust survivors, it can be assumed, regard it that way, and so would the victims. But for columnist Michaeli, it’s something that drives Israelis to beat up on others—again, a familiar canard of the anti-Semites.

On Tuesday Avirama Golan gave her take on Israeli secondary education:

from year to year, Israeli children will participate in experiential tours in Israel and abroad. First they will lift their heads in national pride in the City of David and shed a Jewish tear at the Western Wall…. Two years later they will march with a huge Israeli flag in the suburbs of Warsaw, will hate Poles and will swear to take revenge on the Palestinians…. Never mind. In any case these children will be drafted, will be welcomed to the army by the rabbi of the base, who will blow the shofar in their honor. It’s better if they’re prepared.

It’s nasty, leering stuff, and it’s anti-Semitic by any reasonable definition.

It was more of the same on Wednesday. Bradley Burston heaped some more demonization on the Israeli leadership:

If we’re lucky, the threat (no more than the threat) of an Iran attack (Bibi and Barak’s Glory Days Redux fantasy) will be just one more dodge to keep settlers and their opponents at bay: long enough to make it to elections, long enough to get another fix of power…. Alternatively, they could do the bidding of the hard right. Shun the left, exploit the center, build like mad in the settlements and bomb Iran for good measure.

By now it should be emerging that—aside from portraying Israel as a country that touts a phony Iranian threat for its own nefarious purposes, or might start a Middle Eastern conflagration for its own sneaky reasons—Haaretz is not fond of “the settlers.” The fury toward Israelis who live in the West Bank—now numbering well over 300,000 and covering the full sociological spectrum—clearly smacks of pathological obsession. Wednesday’s column by Zvi Barel directed still more abuse at these people, depicting them as taking over the country while perhaps being “willing to give Israel equal rights under conditions dictated by the invaders of the hills.”

Thursday was somewhat quieter, with the aforementioned column by right-winger Harel and a few “neutrals.” But Ari Shavit came through with:

Over the past three years, Netanyahu has succeeded in decimating the left’s belief in peace with the Palestinians, and he is en route to destroying the world’s hopes as well. He has managed to convince both the Americans and the Europeans that the main topic on the world’s agenda must be Iran….

And Haaretz was back in full force on Friday. Yoel Marcus:

…The most worrying survey showed that 80 percent of Israelis believe in God…. this number is another element in the weakening of the left, the strengthening of the right, the reinforcement of the rabbis’ rule and the sanctity of the territories—and the continuation of the Bibi regime.

Former Knesset member and cabinet minister Yossi Sarid offered an imaginary letter to his parents by an Israeli schoolchild taken on a school tour of Hebron:

They should stop telling us stories—we’re not children anymore. With our own eyes we saw the settlers acting like the bosses, telling the soldiers and the policemen what to do.… Once I saw a movie called “To Hell and Back,” and that’s a pretty good description of the day we had. We discovered a grave new world, in which an abomination becomes a righteous deed, as long as it’s performed by authority of the Torah, of course…. I’m going to have to rethink everything, after I found out…that God has more support than…Netanyahu here: at least 80 percent, and a majority is a majority. Just as murder is murder…. I trust our education minister will examine our memories to discover what Hebron did to us as a city that really stinks.

And Doron Rosenblum:

It has become difficult in this country to distinguish, at least on the visual level, between a ceremony to dedicate a new Torah scroll and a walk to the cabinet meeting by the prime minister (who is “good for the Jews”) and his entourage of skullcap- and kerchief-wearers.…

To sum up, then, the gleanings from one week of Haaretz’s opinion articles: the Jewish religion is primitive and benighted, and Israeli Jews exploit it to abuse others. Religious Jews are taking over Israel and the Israeli army and constitute a “disease” in that army. Israeli is solely and deliberately responsible for the failure of Israeli-Palestinian talks, and craftily uses the Iranian threat to deceive Americans and Europeans and advance its goals. Israel is an apartheid state. Israelis are driven by the Holocaust to wreak havoc on others. Israeli schoolchildren are inculcated with a ludicrous religion, Judaism, and learn to hate Poles and Palestinians. Israel may bomb Iran just so its prime minister and defense minister can please the “hard right.” The “settlers” are demons, entirely evil.

One of Israel’s main enemies? Haaretz’s English website is certainly that, as it spews this vile nonsense all over the world. Der Stürmer? With its hatred and defamation of the Israeli Jewish people and of Judaism in general, its volleys of anti-Semitic stereotypes, Haaretz is not far off.

P. David Hornik


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

UNRWA: What US Taxpayers Are Paying For

by David Bedein

"Jihad and sacrifice [fida] are imperative."

A comprehensive paper on how the "Right of Return" has become the central theme in all of UNRWA education, affecting 500,000 Arab pupils, was presented to the US Congress on January 26th, 2012.

That report was presented by Dr. Arnon Groiss, a senior official of the Voice of Israel Arabic language service, commissioned by the Center for Near East Policy Research.

Dr. Groiss holds a PHD in Islamic Studies from Princeton, and was appointed to the blue ribbon advisory council which monitors incitement during Middle East negotiations, and asked to review issues of alleged incitement in Palestinian Authority education by Council for Religious Institutions in the Holy Land, an association of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian leaders, established under the auspices of the governments of the US, Norway, Israel and the Palestinian Authority .

Over the past 12 years, Dr. Grioss reviewed all of the more the 200 new schoolbooks used by the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA, in a curriculum that is also used by the Hamas schools.

Mural of Ayat al-Akhras on the outside of the Palestinian Authority school that she attended in the UNRWA refugee facility of Deheishe. Ayat al-Akhras, who graduated that school, blew herself up at a Jerusalem supermarket, killing a security guard an[d] 18 year old Israeli girl, Rachel Levy, who had grown up in the US.. After Ayat al-Akhras carried out the homicide, the UNRWA school held a memorial for her and commissioned paintings of her throughout the school and on the entrance to the school. Photo Credit: Attorney Rhonda Spivak, Publisher, The Winnipeg Jewish Review

Groiss noted that "Israel does not exist on any map." In the UNRWA schools, the textbook for Grade 9, Reading and Texts, asks students to "reconcile between the following poetical lines and the feelings they express": "The morning of glory and red liberty watered by the martyrs' blood... the hope for the Liberation of Palestine."

The 8th-grade version of Reading and Texts reads: "Your enemies killed your children; split open your women's bellies, took your revered elderly people by the beard, and led them to the death pits..."

In the textbook entitled National Education, for Grade Seven, UNRWA pupils are taught:

The Zionist colonialist greedy ambitions in Palestine started in 1882.... The coming of the Jewish throngs to Palestine continued until 1948 and their goal was taking over the Palestinian lands and then taking the original inhabitants' place after their expulsion and extermination....

The 7th-grade textbook, Our Beautiful Language, features a poem entitled "The Martyr": "Hearing weapons' clash is pleasant to my ear and the flow of blood gladdens my soul/ As we as a body thrown upon the ground skirmished over by the desert predators/...By your life! This is the death of men and whoever asks for a noble death - here it is!"

The 5th-grade version of Our Beautiful Language includes a poem entitled "We Shall Return," which inculcates the "Right of Return"- by force

"Return, return, we shall return/ Borders shall not exist, nor citadels and fortresses/ Cry out, O those who have left:/ we shall return!/ [We] shall return to the homes, to the valleys, to the mountains/ Under the flag of glory, Jihad and struggle/ With blood, sacrifice [fida], fraternity and loyalty/ We shall return/... To jihad in the hills; [to] harvest in the land."

Other language in the texts appears to justify terrorism. A sentence from the 8th-gradeReading and Texts exhorts, "O brother, the oppressors have exceeded all bounds and Jihad and sacrifice [fida] are imperative..."

In yet another text, UNRWA pupils are asked to color the Negev Desert on the map of Palestine," Groiss said. Groiss showed how every Israeli city - Haifa, Ramle, Jerusalem, Acre – are shown as Palestinian Arab cities, while the Jewish presence in Israel is described in poems which UNRWA pupils are taught to learn by heart, such as "How come the snakes invade us?" and "Oh brother, the oppressors have exceeded all bounds.

Yet when our agency asks the representatives of US AID who oversee the building of schools in UNRWA as to whether they look at the curriculum of those same schools, they that they do not do so and will not do so.

US AID provides almost one quarter of a billion dollars per annum to UNRWA, as the largest contributor to UNRWA.

The unanswered question is why US AID does not place funds for UNRWA in escrow until the official "right of return" brainwashing is knocked out of UNRWA schools.

David Bedein


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

A New Year of "Dhimmitude" for Egypt's Copts

by Raymond Ibrahim

As usual, it took the army an hour to drive two kilometers to the village. "This happens every time. They wait outside the village until the Muslims have had enough violence, then they appear."

For Egypt's Christian Copts, the New Year began with threats that their churches would be attacked during Christmas mass (celebrated on January 7). Because many people were watching what might happen—several Coptic churches were previously attacked, including last Christmas (8 dead) and New Year's day (23 dead), not to mention ominous episodes around the world, such as the Nigerian Christmas day church bombings (40 dead) —the Muslim Brotherhood proclaimed it would "protect" the Copts during their church services. Happily, Coptic Christmas came and went without incident.

However, if the Muslim Brotherhood "protected" Coptic churches when many around the world were watching, as soon as attention dissipated, it was business as usual: a large number of Salafis and Muslim Brotherhood members entered a church, asserting that it had no license and no one should pray in it -- accompanied by hints that it might be turned into a mosque: an all too typical approach in Muslim countries where building, or even renovating, churches is next to impossible.

Currently, 2012 appears to be unfolding as the "Year of Dhimmitude" for Egypt's Christians. Consider the following incidents from just last January alone, all of which demonstrate an upsurge in the treatment of Egypt's Copts as dhimmis -- the legal term for Islam's "protected," barely tolerated non-Muslim minorities—"protected," that is, as long as they agree to a number of debilitations, such as those that follow, that render them second-class citizens:

Insulting Islam

According to the Pact of Omar (also one of the earliest sources banning the construction or renovation of churches), dhimmis must "respect Muslims" and never insult them or their religion. Accordingly, a prominent Christian, Naguib Sawiris, is charged with "contempt of religion," for twittering a cartoon of a bearded Mickey Mouse and a veiled Minnie: "The case has added to fears among many that ultraconservative Islamists may use their new found powers to try to stifle freedom of expression." Nor are the double standards in Egypt's "contempt of religion" law set aside: Christianity is daily disparaged in Egypt with impunity.

Similarly, a 17-year-old Christian student accused of posting a drawing of Islam's prophet on Facebook—which he denies doing, saying it was posted without his permission—triggered days of Muslim violence and havoc, including the burning of three Christian homes to cries of "Allahu Akbar" ["Alah s the Greatest."] The student, who was beaten, is to be "held" for fifteen days, "pending investigation." Muslim leaders agree "that priests should publicly apologize for the images, and that the student, as well as his family, should move out of the governorate."

Conversion Issues

Also according to the Pact of Omar, non-Muslims "shall not prevent" any of their family members from converting to Islam. Accordingly, thousands of Muslims just attacked a Coptic church, demanding the death of the pastor, who, along with "nearly 100 terrorized Copts sought refuge inside it, while Muslim rioters were pelting the church with stones in an effort to break into the church, assault the Copts and torch the building." They did this, apparently, because a Christian girl who, according to Islamic law, automatically became a Muslim when her father converted to Islam, had fled from her father and was rumored to be hiding in the church. This would not be the first time churches were attacked on similar rumors.

Collective Punishment

Traditionally, if one dhimmi transgresses, all surrounding dhimmis are collectively punished. As the jurist al-Murtada writes: "The agreement [presumably to "protect" the dhimmis] will be cancelled if all or some of them break it;" another jurist, al-Maghili, taught that "the fact that one individual (or one group) among them has broken the statute is enough to invalidate it for all of them."

Accordingly, a mob of over 3000 Muslims attacked Christians in an Alexandrian village because a Muslim barber accused a Christian of having "intimate photos" of a Muslim woman on his phone (Sharia bans non-Muslim men from marrying Muslim women). Terrified, the Christian, who denies having such photos, turned himself in to the police. Regardless, Coptic homes and shops were looted and set ablaze. Three Christians were injured, while "terrorized" women and children, rendered homeless, stood in the streets with no place to go. As usual, it took the army an hour to drive two kilometers to the village: "This happens every time," a man said: "They wait outside the village until the Muslims have had enough violence, then they appear." None of the perpetrators was arrested.

After the initial attacks, and in an apparent effort to empty the village of its 62 Christian families, Muslims attacked them again, burning more Coptic property. According to police, the woman concerned has denied the whole story, and no photos have been found.


Koran 9:29 commands Muslims to "Fight … the People of the Book [Jews and Christians] until they pay the jizya [monetary tribute] with willing submission and feel themselves subdued." Although abolished under Western pressure during the colonial era, Muslim demands for jizya are back. Even though it has currently not been reinstated, some Muslims have taken matters in their own hands by extorting money from Christians in lieu of jizya. (Who can forget Abu Ishaq al-Huwaini's lament that Muslims could alleviate their economic woes if only they returned to the good old days of Islam, when plundering, abducting, and selling/ransoming infidels was a great way of making a living?) Thus, Two Christians were killed "after a Muslim racketeer opened fire on them for refusing to pay him extortion money." The local bishop said, "I hold security forces and local Muslims fully responsible for terrorizing the Copts living there, who are continually being subjected to terror and kidnapping."

Islamic Superiority

There is also the Islamic principle that necessity makes that which is forbidden permissible. The rights of dhimmis can be therefore trampled upon so long as an Islamic interest is served. Accordingly, in a region that is half Christian, Muslim mobs went on a rampage, attacking Christians, destroying and torching their homes and property to more screams of "Allahu Akbar." Why? To prevent Copts from voting to ensure that a Salafist candidate would win. "No Copt from Rahmaniya-Kebly was able to vote today, so the Salafists will win the elections," said a witness. Also telling is that, while the population of this region is half Christian, there are 300 mosques and only one church.

Institutionalized Discrimination

Perhaps nothing better demonstrates the return of dhimmitude for Copts as when the Egyptian government itself—as opposed to "radicals" or "mobs"—openly treats Christians as second-class citizens. Aside from the "contempt of religion" cases mentioned above, other events that surfacing in January included a legal case revolving around the abduction of a 16-year old Christian girl. In a decision that Coptic activists are saying will "encourage Islamists to continue unabated the abduction of Christian minors for conversion to Islam," the court sided with the Islamist lawyers. Moreover, rather than punishing the aggressors, the government has arrested and is trying two priests in connection with the Maspero massacre, when the military opened fire on, and ran tanks over, Copts protesting the constant destruction of their churches.

Finally even though Egypt's new parliament has 409 seats, only 7 are held by Copts. As Copts make up at least 10% of the population, they should probably hold approximately 40 seats.

Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.


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

Contentions: Cut to Missile Defense for Israel Gives the Lie to Obama’s “Best Friend” Narrative

by Jonathan S. Tobin

Democrats are crying foul about Republican efforts to publicize the fact that President Obama’s budget request to Congress contained a cut in funding for missile defense projects in Israel. The amount of aid allocated for this sector went down from $106 million in 2012 to $99 million next year. The Republican Jewish Coalition is making a meal out of this point, but the president’s supporters are pointing out that the overall amount of funding for Israel went up. Given the scale of the budget, the difference doesn’t amount to much money and Congress will, no doubt, vastly increase this number as it did for 2012 when it more than doubled the amount Obama requested.

But the cut is worth talking about specifically because it undermines the line of baloney Obama and the Democrats have been selling to American Jewish audiences in recent months about him being the most pro-Israel president in history when it comes to supporting defense of the Jewish state. Moreover, the decision to pare back missile defense is particularly embarrassing because American support for Israel’s “Iron Dome” system is something Obama has taken credit for at every possible opportunity, even though the project was initiated and funded by George W. Bush.

The president has taken to patting himself on the back on every occasion about what he claims is the unprecedented scale of aid and security cooperation with Israel. But the problem with this boast is it puts forward the notion that what has happened in the last three years has been the result of his initiative and planning rather than merely a continuation of a de facto defense alliance that began during the Reagan administration and has been maintained and strengthened by each subsequent administration.

Obama deserves full credit for carrying on this tradition and for placing no obstacles in the way of close cooperation between Israel’s Defense Ministry and the Pentagon despite the political fights he picked with Israel’s government during this time. But the idea that what he did in this sphere was unprecedented is more the product of his need to re-position himself as a friend of Israel, after years of antagonism and trying to create diplomatic distance between the two countries, than anything else. Given the fact that a decision not to continue security cooperation would have required him to expend an enormous amount of scarce political capital and would have entailed a major fight with Congress, his decision must be assessed as more a matter of expediency than principle.

As for the specific cut in missile defense aid, that was a curious decision considering how much effort Democrats have put into trying to convince American Jews Obama was the sole author of Iron Dome, even though the most one could say of his role there is that he did not exert himself to prevent the completion of a project initiated by his predecessor. Given the constant threat of missile attacks from Gaza and Lebanon, not to mention worries about Iran, such efforts are of particular importance to Israel.

Though the amount of the cut is not large and will be restored by Congress, the Republicans are right to speak up about this issue. Obama’s attempt to claim the mantle of Israel’s best friend ever in the White House is mere campaign rhetoric that has only been swallowed up by the most credulous and partisan Jewish Democrats. The budget request is one more piece of tangible proof that the president’s boast is an election year joke.

Jonathan S. Tobin


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

Contentions: Ham Sandwiches and Religious Freedom

by Jonathan S. Tobin

Yesterday, many on the left had a hearty laugh about the statement by Bishop William E. Lori on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops at a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform about the administration’s effort to force the church to violate its principles by paying for insurance coverage for practices it opposes. The left-wing site Talking Points Memo in particular thought it was ludicrous for Bishop Lori to claim a government mandate that Catholic institutions pay for contraception is akin to one that would force Jewish delis to serve pork. To the left, the analogy is ludicrous, because getting free birth control from your employer is, they believe, a constitutional right, and a ham sandwich is merely a whim.

But Lori was absolutely right. The attempt by the president to force all employers, even those whose religious convictions forbid them from doing so, to provide insurance coverage for contraception is no different than a hypothetical law that would require all places that serve food to include non-kosher items on the menu.

As Lori said, the fact that many Jews eat pork does not undermine the right of kosher restaurants to exclude it from the menu. Nor should it obligate them to provide ham or shrimp or cheeseburgers to their non-Jewish employees for lunch. Rather than their refusal to do so being a case of observant Jews “imposing their beliefs” on others, a law that sought to force such restaurants to alter their fare to conform with a government dictat would allow the state to use its power of coercion to run roughshod over the religious beliefs of its citizens.

Lori went even further and analogized the president’s “compromise” on contraception by saying it was no different than if the state allowed the kosher delis to not put pork on its menu and to have its employees serve ham sandwiches but forced them to allow pork distributors to set up kiosks on the premises where free ham sanchwiches would be served, the cost for which would be born by the kosher deli owners.

If the analogy sounds ludicrous it is only because there is no national meal plan to feed Americans in the way that Obamacare has nationalized health insurance. But, as Lori points out, there isn’t any more need for anyone who works at a Catholic institution to get birth control from the church than there is for a pork-craving customer to get ham from a kosher deli. In both cases, there is nothing preventing either person from working someplace else or just going down the block to get the item they want from somewhere else. The attack on the church demonstrates not only the contempt of this administration for religious freedom but the threat that its signature health care bill poses to constitutional liberty.

The impulse to impose these regulations on the church has no more to do with the correctness of the Vatican’s ruling on contraception than the validity of kashrut. Both are religious beliefs that must be respected if we are serious about protecting religious freedom in this republic. Such freedom either exists for all or for none.

Bishop Lori’s statement deserves to be read in full:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the Committee, for the opportunity to testify today. For my testimony today, I would like to tell a story. Let’s call it, “The Parable of the Kosher Deli.”

Once upon a time, a new law is proposed, so that any business that serves food must serve pork. There is a narrow exception for kosher catering halls attached to synagogues, since they serve mostly members of that synagogue, but kosher delicatessens are still subject to the mandate.

The Orthodox Jewish community—whose members run kosher delis and many other restaurants and grocers besides—expresses its outrage at the new government mandate. And they are joined by others who have no problem eating pork—not just the many Jews who eat pork, but people of all faiths—because these others recognize the threat to the principle of religious liberty. They recognize as well the practical impact of the damage to that principle. They know that, if the mandate stands, they might be the next ones forced—under threat of severe government sanction—to violate their most deeply held beliefs, especially their unpopular beliefs.

Meanwhile, those who support the mandate respond, “But pork is good for you. It is, after all, the other white meat.” Other supporters add, “So many Jews eat pork, and those who don’t should just get with the times.” Still others say, “Those Orthodox are just trying to impose their beliefs on everyone else.”

But in our hypothetical, those arguments fail in the public debate, because people widely recognize the following.

First, although people may reasonably debate whether pork is good for you, that’s not the question posed by the nationwide pork mandate. Instead, the mandate generates the question whether people, who believe—even if they believe in error—that pork is not good for you, should be forced by government to serve pork within their very own institutions. In a nation committed to religious liberty and diversity, the answer, of course, is no.

Second, the fact that some (or even most) Jews eat pork is simply irrelevant. The fact remains that some Jews do not—and they do not out of their most deeply held religious convictions. Does the fact that large majorities in society—even large majorities within the protesting religious community—reject a particular religious belief make it permissible for the government to weigh in on one side of that dispute? Does it allow government to punish that minority belief with its coercive power? In a nation committed to religious liberty and diversity, the answer, of course, is no.

Third, the charge that the Orthodox Jews are imposing their beliefs on others has it exactly backwards. Again, the question generated by a government mandate is whether the government will impose its belief that eating pork is good on objecting Orthodox Jews. Meanwhile, there is no imposition at all on the freedom of those who want to eat pork. That is, they are subject to no government interference at all in their choice to eat pork, and pork is ubiquitous and cheap, available at the overwhelming majority of restaurants and grocers. Indeed, some pork producers and retailers, and even the government itself, are so eager to promote the eating of pork, that they sometimes give pork away for free.

In this context, the question is this: can a customer come to a kosher deli, demand to be served a ham sandwich, and if refused, bring down severe government sanction on the deli? In a nation committed to religious liberty and diversity, the answer, of course, is no.

So in our hypothetical story, because the hypothetical nation is indeed committed to religious liberty and diversity, these arguments carry the day.

In response, those proposing the new law claim to hear and understand the concerns of kosher deli owners, and offer them a new “accommodation.” You are free to call yourself a kosher deli; you are free not to place ham sandwiches on your menu; you are free not to be the person to prepare the sandwich and hand it over the counter to the customer. But we will force your meat supplier to set up a kiosk on your premises, and to offer, prepare, and serve ham sandwiches to all of your customers, free of charge to them. And when you get your monthly bill from your meat supplier, it will include the cost of any of the “free” ham sandwiches that your customers may accept. And you will, of course, be required to pay that bill.

Some who supported the deli owners initially began to celebrate the fact that ham sandwiches didn’t need to be on the menu, and didn’t need to be prepared or served by the deli itself. But on closer examination, they noticed three troubling things.

First, all kosher delis will still be forced to pay for the ham sandwiches. Second, many of the kosher delis’ meat suppliers, themselves, are forbidden in conscience from offering, preparing, or serving pork to anyone. Third, there are many kosher delis that are their own meat supplier, so the mandate to offer, prepare, and serve the ham sandwich still falls on them.

This story has a happy ending. The government recognized that it is absurd for someone to come into a kosher deli and demand a ham sandwich; that it is beyond absurd for that private demand to be backed with the coercive power of the state; that it is downright surreal to apply this coercive power when the customer can get the same sandwich cheaply, or even free, just a few doors down.

The question before the United States government—right now—is whether the story of our own Church institutions that serve the public, and that are threatened by the HHS mandate, will end happily too. Will our nation continue to be one committed to religious liberty and diversity? We urge, in the strongest possible terms, that the answer must be yes. We urge you, in the strongest possible terms, to answer the same way.

Jonathan S. Tobin


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

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Barry Rubin: What to Do About Syria

by Barry Rubin

There is a strong case that can be made for doing nothing about the Syrian civil war, but a stronger case can be made for doing something relatively low-cost and ineffective, indeed, precisely what the Syrian opposition is requesting.

Forget about major military intervention, which would be dangerous, costly, and above the level of available resources.

I’m also not enthusiastic about a major U.S. effort at regime change, since the Turkish regime wants an Islamist government in Damascus that might even be worse than what exists now. The less the Obama Administration is involved the more likely things are to go better.

Unfortunately, the Obama Administration doesn’t seem able to tell the difference between moderates and anti-American Islamists in Syria. Come to think about it, the Obama Administration isn’t too good at making such a distinction between such people in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, or Turkey either. Indeed, the U.S. government is taking the Muslim Brotherhood line on Syria.

Russia and China block UN action. The Arab League is talking about an international peacekeeping force but it’s hard to believe either that they would ever accept any non-Arab forces or they would send in their own armies to fight the Syrian military. Most likely this will all amount to nothing. Meanwhile, Syrian documents show that Tehran has provided $1 billion so far to back the regime against the rebels.

And will the Obama Administration shrug its shoulders — so to speak — and do nothing? Yes, quite probably.

There’s also an interesting political dynamic within Syria. I can’t say this with full confidence but there is evidence for the following thesis: The “official” (that is, U.S.-Turkish chosen) opposition leadership doesn’t want armed struggle and indeed seems to prefer a deal with the Assad regime.

Why? Because they feel they aren’t going to win and can make some arrangement with the government that would lead to them coming to power at some time in the future when they have built a stronger political base. The opposition — despite all the Western observers confidently predicting Assad’s imminent fall — know they can’t win without outside help.

The strongest factor in the opposition are what might be called traditional, socially conservative Sunni Muslims. They might swing behind the Islamists; they are far less likely to back liberals. What might best be hoped for if the opposition wins is an Iraqi-style approach in which sectarian tensions and identities are heightened, the priority is put on getting things right at home, and they want to get along with the West without being “pro-Western.”

Now we can understand the debate in the Syrian opposition. The liberals and traditionalists are more likely to back armed struggle, overthrowing Assad, and getting foreign help. The Islamists are more likely to oppose these three goals and want a deal with Assad. Why? Because a deal that let them operate freely, they believe, would eventually lead to them taking over the country.

But to return to the question of what the West or world should do: Listen to the democratic opposition. It wants two things, obviously taken from the Iraqi case: a no-fly zone for Syrian military aircraft and the creation of a safe zone — presumably near the Turkish border — for refugees, fugitives, and the Free Syrian Army.

When I mention the “no-fly” zone to people they ask, “But the Syrian air force isn’t bombing the rebels, right? So what good is this?” The answer is that we’re not talking about fighters or bombers but about helicopter gunships and transport planes. With Syria rushing troops around the country to counter the uprisings, the point is to make it harder for them to do so.

If any plan is going to be considered for intervention this one seems to be the best starting point. Its virtues and shortcomings should be thoroughly discussed so as to decide whether this is a good thing to do. This would be preferable to the current debate that lurches between total passivity and adventurous intervention.

At the same time, the Syria issue shows how the Obama Administration has tied itself up into a hundred knots. For centuries, diplomats of powerful countries have known that you don’t enter into a coalition unless you absolutely cannot avoid it or, even better, you control it. Otherwise, your interests get ground down by those of others.

Multilateralism has its costs. With the Obama Administration leading from behind and stressing the need for a UN consensus to do anything, it is now stuck with a passive stance on the Syrian civil war. On the Iran sanctions issue, it bought off Russian and Chinese opposition by the simple expedient of, in practice, exempting them from observing the sanctions. That won’t work on Syria. Hence, deadlock. America can’t be a great power if the Russians, Chinese, and others (notably Turkey) are able to yank out the power plug any time they want.

Also read my article, “With “Friends” Like This Who Needs Enemies? With Enemies Like This Who Needs Friends?”

Barry Rubin


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