Saturday, April 28, 2012

While Syria Burns

by Charles Krauthammer

Last year President Obama ordered U.S. intervention in Libya under the grand new doctrine of “Responsibility to Protect.” Moammar Gaddafi was threatening a massacre in Benghazi. To stand by and do nothing “would have been a betrayal of who we are,” explained the president.

In the year since, the government of Syria has more than threatened massacres. It has carried them out. Nothing hypothetical about the disappearances, executions, indiscriminate shelling of populated neighborhoods. More than 9,000 are dead.

The Syrian dictator says "we don't kill our people."

Obama has said that we cannot stand idly by. And what has he done? Stand idly by.

Yes, we’ve imposed economic sanctions. But as with Iran, the economic squeeze has not altered the regime’s behavior. Monday’s announced travel and financial restrictions on those who use social media to track down dissidents is a pinprick. No Disney World trips for the chiefs of the Iranian and Syrian security agencies. And they might now have to park their money in Dubai instead of New York. That’ll stop ’em.

Obama’s other major announcement — at Washington’s Holocaust Museum, no less — was the creation of an Atrocities Prevention Board.

I kid you not. A board. Russia flies planeloads of weapons to Damascus. Iran supplies money, trainers, agents, more weapons. And what does America do? Support a feckless U.N. peace mission that does nothing to stop the killing. (Indeed, some of the civilians who met with the U.N. observers were summarily executed.) And establish an Atrocities Prevention Board.

With multi-agency participation, mind you. The liberal faith in the power of bureaucracy and flowcharts, of committees and reports, is legend. But this is parody.

Now, there’s an argument to be made that we do not have a duty to protect. That foreign policy is not social work. That you risk American lives only when national security and/or strategic interests are at stake, not merely to satisfy the humanitarian impulses of some of our leaders.

But Obama does not make this argument. On the contrary. He goes to the Holocaust Museum to commit himself and his country to defend the innocent, to affirm the moral imperative of rescue. And then does nothing of any consequence.

His case for passivity is buttressed by the implication that the only alternative to inaction is military intervention — bombing, boots on the ground.

But that’s false. It’s not the only alternative. Why aren’t we organizing, training and arming the Syrian rebels in their sanctuaries in Turkey? Nothing unilateral here. Saudi Arabia is already planning to do so. Turkey has turned decisively against Bashar al-Assad. And the French are pushing for even more direct intervention.

Instead, Obama insists that we can act only with support of the “international community,” meaning the U.N. Security Council — where Russia and China have a permanent veto. By what logic does the moral legitimacy of U.S. action require the blessing of a thug like Vladimir Putin and the butchers of Tiananmen Square?

Our slavish, mindless self-subordination to “international legitimacy” does nothing but allow Russia — a pretend post-Soviet superpower — to extend a protective umbrella over whichever murderous client it chooses. Obama has all but announced that Russia (or China) has merely to veto international actions — sanctions, military assistance, direct intervention — and America will back off.

For what reason? Not even President Clinton, a confirmed internationalist, would acquiesce to such restraints. With Russia prepared to block U.N. intervention against its client, Serbia, Clinton saved Kosovo by summoning NATO to bomb the hell out of Serbia, the Russians be damned.

If Obama wants to stay out of Syria, fine. Make the case that it’s none of our business. That it’s too hard. That we have no security/national interests there.

In my view, the evidence argues against that, but at least a coherent case for hands-off could be made. That would be an honest, straightforward policy. Instead, the president, basking in the sanctity of the Holocaust Museum, proclaims his solemn allegiance to a doctrine of responsibility — even as he stands by and watches Syria burn.

If we are not prepared to intervene, even indirectly by arming and training Syrians who want to liberate themselves, be candid. And then be quiet. Don’t pretend the U.N. is doing anything. Don’t pretend the U.S. is doing anything. And don’t embarrass the nation with an Atrocities Prevention Board. The tragedies of Rwanda, Darfur and now Syria did not result from lack of information or lack of interagency coordination, but from lack of will.

Charles Krauthammer:


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The Brinkmanship of Egyptian Gas Suppliers

by Jeremy Rosen

Last week’s news that Egypt has cancelled its agreement to sell gas to Israel sounds disturbing. But is it? Forgive my cynicism, but are we sure this isn’t just about business? Contracts get cancelled all the time, perhaps more in the USA than Europe, and often it is simply a business gambit to get more money. I have just been reading Daniel Yergin’s book, The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, & Power. It was written in 1991 and won the Pulitzer Prize the following year, so it is hardly the last word on the subject. But it was such a fascinating and instructive read. It and taught me so much about how the Two World Wars were won thanks to superior oil supplies. It reiterated how the post-war discovery of cheap easily accessible oil in the Arab world got the powers scrambling to get a piece of the action and to hell with anything else.

One message comes through loud and clear. No matter whether it is Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Kuwait, or whichever emirate you care to mention, the record shows that the producer states constantly cancelled contracts, engaged in brinkmanship, nationalized their resources, played one company and country off against the other, all to get a better deal and more money. That is the way they do things. That is how most capitalists everywhere do it. It is why diplomats are described as “whores who lie for their country”. It is just that the Arabs do it with such charm and dissimulation one simply ends up admiring their Chutzpah. And it is the absence of such roguish charm that is often why Israelis do not make so many friends. In the Free World a contract, in theory, is a contract. There are supposed to be transparent legal systems, even though anyone who thinks they are beyond corruption is living in cloud-cuckoo-land. Why are China and Russia supporting Syrian oppression, or Mugabe or Omar Bashar? It is not out of love, I assure you.

It could be for political purposes that Egypt is canceling the deal with Israel. The Egyptians, almost to a man and woman, hate Israel, hate the peace treaty, and enjoy nothing more than burning Israeli flags, as the most recent demonstrations in Cairo illustrate. But just maybe it is also true that the Mubarak cronies who negotiated the deal were taking huge cuts and bribes and kickbacks and feathered their own nests. And dare I say it, the same is probably true for the Israeli negotiators who made the deal. Anyone who thinks Israeli businessmen are as pure as the driven snow deserves to be sentenced to life in an igloo. But whereas Israel has a relatively open and democratic society, 90% of the Arab world does not.

When they think of the West, they think of immorality, imperialism, the forces that sustain repressive dictators who themselves often came to power as modernizers and secularists and then proceeded to torture, rape, and pillage their own citizens. The Arab world has been corrupted and dehumanized for so long that they have not progressed since the days in 1958, when in Iraq they tortured and mutilated their king and princes to death and dragged their bodies through the streets–or wait, 2011 and Gaddafi. The West used to do that as a matter of routine 500 years ago. Over time they learnt to torture in private rather than as public entertainment spectacles.

Since the only people who stood up to repressive regimes tended not so much to be the religious establishments, but ordinary lay religious Muslims, it is not surprising that popular support now flows in the direction of those religious anti-establishment movements–be they the Brotherhood, the Salafists, Hamas, or Hezbollah–who offer the only rays of hope to the poor, unemployed, and disenfranchised of the Muslim world. Now is their time to see if they can do a better job. The beauty of any kind of democracy, however distorted or limited, is that if they fail, someone else may get a chance to do better.

But in the meantime they want to win elections, if there are any. And how do you do a George Galloway? The easiest way is by appealing to the very lowest and crudest levels of voter mentality, to the most jingoistic and prejudiced. That, of course, is what happens in the UK, let alone Cairo. And I guess that’s how Sarkozy hopes to get back in in France. And sadly, it happens in Israel, where the right wing is pushing to recognize more and more settlements and Netanyahu is giving in because it helps him get elected. But we also know, thank goodness, that as people have more to lose they are much more circumspect; even Oil Sheiks soon learn which side their pita is buttered on.

Wherever you look, dictatorship or democracy, it is clear that lobbies, money, and moneyed interests–be they of the Left or the Right–play the major role in winning elections. But it is also true that “it’s the economy, stupid” that decides how the votes go.

That is why, sad as I am at the anti-Israeli rhetoric and doubtless worse is to come, it is inevitable. If hatred has been fed to so many for so long, it cannot change overnight. If you play with people’s minds and souls, a quick session with a shrink will change as little as a quick dip in the Mikvah. So let us not overreact. Change that brings progress always takes time. Meanwhile, Please God, the Mediterranean will soon provide as much gas and oil as Israel could possibly want.

Jeremy Rosen


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Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood MP Seeks to Abolish Female Rights and Enforce Female Genital Mutilation

by Raymond Ibrahim

According to the Egyptian website Youm 7, Azza al-Jarf, a female Member of Parliament representing the Muslim Brotherhood's "Freedom and Justice Party," is trying to abolish several laws currently enjoyed by Egyptian women—including preventing them from divorcing or even separating from their husbands, because "the man has the authority and stewardship" (see Koran 4:34); mandating that fathers must circumcise their daughters; and trying to get the Egyptian educational system to ban the teaching of the English language—on the grounds that it is an "infidel" tongue—while separating boys and girls in classrooms and forcing girls to wear the hijab.

Ms. Jarf, of course, is not the first Muslim female in Egypt opposed to her own gender; earlier, another female politician declared that "women are deficient in intelligence and religion," and that, in agreement with Sharia law, they are banned from running for presidency.

At any rate, repressive and discriminatory laws, not to mention laws that mutilate the human body—such represent the Muslim Brotherhood's idea of "Freedom and Justice," the telling name of their political wing.

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


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The European Anti-Semitism Sweepstakes

by Bruce Bawer

When Nobel Prize-winning German author and world-class left-wing crank Günter Grass sunk to a new low a few weeks back with an anti-Semitic poem that would have warmed the heart of Joseph Goebbels, I observed that “in a continent swarming with self-seeking literary intellectuals who ooze self-righteous anti-Semitism, Grass has resumed his place at the head of the whole unseemly pack.”

Well, if the latest screed by Norwegian “peace professor” Johan Galtung is any evidence, Grass’s poem has inspired other leading members of the pack to aim for their own new lows. For Galtung has now served up his own grotesque entry in the Jew-hatred sweepstakes.

Granted, it’s no surprise to see Galtung, the “father of peace studies” and founder (more than half a century ago) of the International Peace Research Institute, diving into these foul waters. Poisonous anti-semitism fits right in with Galtung’s charming history as a booster of Communist dictatorship and a savage critic of Western democratic capitalism – and, especially, a propagandist against America, which for him is the epitome, and the headquarters, of everything despicable and dangerous about the contemporary world. This is a guy who thinks that war is caused not by tyrannical bullies but by free countries that refuse to be bullied – a guy for whom responding to aggression is at least as evil as aggression itself. (In fact, even more evil – for if you don’t resist aggression, there’s no war, right?)

What’s most lamentable is that this unspeakable crackpot has fans. Years ago, at the University of Oslo, I experienced the revolting spectacle of Galtung receiving a prolonged ovation for a “lecture” that was little more than a pastiche of anti-American invective and absurd conspiracy theories. Last September 30, he gave another lecture entitled “Ten Theses about July 22” – that being the date on which Anders Behring Breivik massacred 77 people in and near Oslo. The lecture, according to NRK, the Norwegian national broadcasting company, “was greeted with a standing ovation by some, while others chose to leave the auditorium.” Good for them. In Dagbladet on October 7, John Færseth neatly summed up the lecture’s message as follows: “Galtung comes dangerously close to the idea that the world is really controlled by Jews and Freemasons.” After Galtung replied to Færseth, the latter followed up by reprinting his Dagbladet article in the Humanist along with a reply to Galtung’s reply. Galtung’s reply to the reply to his reply – are you still with me? – appeared in a later issue of the Humanist, and both items from the Humanist were made available online on April 23.

Galtung’s last contribution to this exchange, entitled “On Clear Lines and Ambivalence,” is an instant classic of its genre – namely, lowdown anti-Semitism originating from the very summit of European intellectual celebrity (or, at least, much too close to that summit for comfort). To be sure, Galtung makes an exceedingly feeble effort to shield himself from charges of anti-Semitism – (1) by suggesting, absurdly, that he is himself a stalwart soldier in the fight against that most stubborn of European prejudices (“anti-Semitism has mostly disappeared from American debate. And that’s a good thing. I made my contribution when I worked for the Anti-Defamation Le[a]gue”), and (2) by making the magnificently disingenuous argument that not to allow criticism of Jews and of Israel is to keep the lid on a potentially explosive brew.

Get that? Avoid questions about Jews and Israel, Galtung warns, “and anti-Semitism will come like a tidal wave.” He claims that “Jewish friends” of his in the U.S., “a country frustrated down to its bone marrow,” fear precisely this kind of tidal wave. (I would be fascinated, by the way, to know which Jews in the U.S. are this man’s friends. If you’re one of them, please drop me a line and explain.) To sum up: we’ve got to criticize Jews and Israel as vigorously as possible – not to contribute to anti-Semitism, but to prevent it.

(While you’re scratching your chin over that one, let me just interject that, when it comes to Galtung’s work for the Anti-Defamation League, all I’ve been able to discover is that the ADL published – in 1961 – a book in which he surveyed high-school students’ knowledge of and attitudes toward Jews and Nazism. Again, if you can tell me anything more about Galtung’s involvement in the ADL’s fight against anti-Semitism, do let me know.)

Among the questions Galtung wants to see discussed freely – in order, you understand, to prevent an explosion of anti-Semitism – is whether, as one of his fellow “peace researchers” in Sweden has proposed, Anders Behring Breivik was an operative for the Mossad. (In other words, Galtung expects us to mull over the proposition that the government of Israel masterminded the cold-blooded execution of dozens of Norwegian teenagers attending a summer camp.)

Galtung also suggests that a more open and robust discussion of the contents of a certain book would be yet another healthy way to prevent anti-Semitism from spinning out of control. Which book? Why, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, of course. “I wonder how many of those who have such definite opinions about the Protocols of the Elders of Zion have actually read them?” Galtung writes. “It’s impossible to do so today without thinking of Goldman-Sachs.”

Never mind the plain historical fact that the Protocols have been shown to be a vicious forgery perpetrated by pre-Revolutionary Russian officials out to demonize Jews: Galtung dismisses this with an imperious wave of the hand, on the simple grounds that “it’s hard to believe that the secret Russian police were capable of writing such an analysis.” On this issue, he says, he is in total agreement with Erik Rudstrøm. And who, you might ask, is Erik Rudstrøm? According to Terje Emberland of the Norwegian Holocaust Center, he’s “a known anti-Semite” who has explicitly asserted the authenticity of the Protocols. So there, then.

The other day, after Galtung’s Humanist piece appeared, a reporter for NRK spoke to him by telephone. Galtung was, as it happened, in Washington – a city whose utter destruction he has vividly and gleefully imagined in print, as a just payback for America’s manifold sins. (He is the type of European intellectual who, by consistently demonizing America, has guaranteed himself a steady flow of all-expense-paid invitations to spread his views to American audiences.) Galtung informed NRK’s reporter that he was utterly indifferent to the question of who had actually written the Protocols: all that matters to him, he said, is that there’s so much in them that has extraordinary contemporary relevance. He repeated that he considers it vitally important for people today to read the Protocols and contemplate their profound insights into the present international economic situation. (Remember, we’ve got to do everything we can to keep anti-Semitism from exploding!)

Just one more item from Galtung’s list of things that, in his view, should be the subject of more energetic discussion (with, remember, the pure and noble goal of keeping anti-Semitism from breaking loose): the fact that the CEOs of many top American media organizations – of which he helpfully provides a comprehensive list – are Jewish. (Galtung acknowledges that Rupert Murdoch “is not Jewish,” but adds that “many of his top people are.”) And where did Galtung acquire this list? From what he innocuously identifies as “an article from the U.S.” If you click on his link, however, you will find that the “article from the U.S.,” entitled “Six Jewish companies own 96% of world media,” is in fact marked as originating with the “Pak Alert Press (Pakistan)” and as deriving from a text produced by National Vanguard Books, an imprint of National Vanguard – the American Nazi organization founded by William Pierce.

As if all this weren’t more than repulsive enough, Galtung also serves up, for good measure, quotations from Norman Podhoretz and Ruth Wisse – bothborrowed from Eric Alterman, and both provided to his readers for no other reason, apparently, than to suggest that American Jews’ first loyalty is not to America but to Israel.

What to make of this latest glimpse into Galtung’s mind? The good news is that it was too much even for many members of the Norwegian cultural elite – people whom one might have expected to rush to Galtung’s defense or, at the very least, to turn away uncomfortably and change the subject. For example, Emberland, to his credit, called “On Clear Lines and Ambivalence” a case of “intellectual and moral suicide.”

The bad news is that Galtung, a man with a thoroughly clear and totally unambivalent record of partiality toward despotism and fierce hostility to freedom, was ever considered by anyone in a position of authority to be remotely respectable in the first place. Alas, for all the sound and fury that have greeted his latest horrific rant, one fears that when the hurly-burly’s done, Galtung will turn out to have lost little or none of the rénommé that he has enjoyed throughout his career, and that he will – until he or God puts an end to it all – continue to fill auditoriums, publish prominent op-eds, and bring audiences to their feet.

Bruce Bawer


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Iran’s Meth Empire

by Daniel Greenfield

The first explosion tore off the roof of a house. The bomb had been packed into a transistor radio with magnets to attach it to a car and ball bearings to shoot outward piercing bodies at high speed. Ball bearing bombs are favored by terrorists because they can cause horrifying injuries even with a small amount of explosives. But assembling bombs is tricky business and the terrorists had screwed up.

Saeid Moradi stumbled through a muggy Bangkok afternoon past colorful phone booths, knowing that the operation had gone wrong and that he had a limited window for reaching the airport, boarding a plane to Malaysia and then back to Iran. But the taxi did not stop. So Moradi threw one of his remaining bombs at it. He attempted to throw another one at the police, but instead blew off his own legs outside a school.

Mohammad Hazaei, one of the other terrorists, was stopped at the airport while waiting to board a flight to Malaysia. Masoud Sedaghatzadeh was arrested already in Malaysia, while Leila Rohani made it back to Iran. Their bombs had been intended for Israeli diplomats, and it was not the first Iranian backed act of terror against Israel in the country, but it was still startling.

Thailand suffers from Muslim terrorism and Bangkok does have a sizable number of Muslims, but the majority of its Muslim population is Sunni. Thailand Shiites, like many Shiites around the world, do act as agents of Iran, if there was any doubt about that it was quickly dispelled when Syedsulaiman Husaini, the leader of Shiites in Thailand, blamed the attack on MEK activists out to make Iran look bad, a talking point transparently coined in Tehran.

However Iran’s real presence in Thailand isn’t religious, it’s chemical. Iranian gangs and dealers prowl Bangkok plying their crystal meth and muscling out locals with a combination of aggressiveness and underselling. And Bangkok, for all its dangerous reputation, is only one stop on the express train of Iran’s meth empire.

Iranian drug rings are a sizable presence everywhere from Europe to Southeast Asia to the United States. By the spring of last year, Thai authorities had already arrested their twentieth Iranian meth smuggler. The same story repeats itself in Indonesia, Malaysia, Burma and Vietnam. Asia is no stranger to the drug trade, yet it’s being swamped by Iranian meth, Iranian meth labs and Iranian dealers.

In Japan, they were running meth labs, a rarity in the country, and the majority of those arrested on meth charges in the land of the rising sun were Iranians. That pattern too repeats itself in countries with hardly any Muslim populations, such as Korea. Forget oil, Iran is suddenly in the position of supplying the crystal meth needs of half of Asia.

The meth business is one of those lines of work whose skills easily transfer over to terrorism. And vice versa. Both depend on smuggling materials, setting up labs, obtaining false documents, local contacts and finally making the delivery. The easiest way to set up a terrorist operation in another country is to first set up a drug operation. The drug trade is much more profitable than the Jihad business and much easier to recruit local help for. And once the meth foot is in the door, then the Koran can come in after it.

A month before the Bangkok blasts, Thai police had turned up enough bomb making materials for multiple truck bombs hidden in cat litter boxes by a Hezbollah member, a Shiite terrorist group controlled by Iran. It wasn’t Hezbollah’s first operation in Bangkok, but it would have been by far the most lethal.

Meanwhile in this hemisphere, Iran has built up a similar presence, often piggybacking on Hezbollah. The links that Iran forged with Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez, closely allied with the narcoterrorists of FARC, were based on oil, drugs and a common hatred for the free world. Iranian and Lebanese drugs flow through Venezuela fusing leftist and Islamic narcoterrorism together through mutual interests. From Venezeula, they go out to Europe and up to the United States.

The drug trade has given Hezbollah a foothold throughout North America with truckloads of Pseudoephedrine, a base ingredient for crystal meth, coming down from Canada. The tablets go to meth labs and the profits go back to Lebanon and Iran. North or south, east or west, it’s the same story on every continent.

In Australia, authorities opened thousands of cases of raisins being shipped from Afghanistan via Iran to find hundreds of pounds of Heroin and Pseudoephedrine. And in West Africa, Hezbollah has made itself at home with expat Lebanese Shiite businessmen overseeing its drug smuggling operations and laundering the money into local and international businesses.

The road to Thailand leads back to West Africa, whose cartels bring together Latin American druglords with Hezbollah operatives for a truly worldwide operation. Under their influence West Africa has become a hub for global meth trafficking and the politics have followed.

Cote d’Ivoire, recently the victim of a Muslim coup, is a vital part of Hezbollah’s drug routes. Guinea-Bissaun leaders signed agreements with Iran only to be arrested by their own military on charges of running a narcostate. Senegal, an even bigger drug trafficking hub, was Iran’s gateway to Africa and Hezbollah’s second largest cash machine, until the Iranian Revolutionary Guard was caught smuggling weapons to rebels.

But methamphetamines have more than just one purpose. Law enforcement has noted the use of meth by suicide bombers bringing the circle of meth and terror to its natural conclusion. Meth and crystal meth were first synthesized in Japan where they were eventually put to use on Kamikaze pilots. Today there are Iranian drug labs in Japan and meth is trafficked to fund terror and distributed to suicide bombers.

There is no word on whether Saeid Moradi, the Thailand bomber, was using meth at the time, but considering Iran’s deep drug network on Bangkok and his violent and bizarre behavior, it would not be particularly surprising if he were. The suicide bomber, like the Kamikaze, aspires to an inhuman state and much of what Muslim clerics call martyrdom is really methamphetamines.

From Asia to America to Africa, the scope of Iran’s meth empire is astounding. It has allowed Shiite Muslims, who are a minority even within Islam, to build a worldwide network and recruit allies from nearly every continent. And its Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah terrorists have become missionaries of meth spreading a faith in greed and death wherever they go.

Daniel Greenfield


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German Islam Conference Ends in Failure

by Soeren Kern

Muslim representatives insisted instead that the German government amend its "misguided" approach to Muslim immigration. Many want to establish a "Koran-state" in Germany; they believe Islamic Sharia law is a divine ordinance that will replace democracy, a man-made form of government.

Senior German officials gathered in Berlin with Muslim leaders from around the country on April 19 for the seventh annual German Islam Conference. The official focus of this year's forum -- aimed at furthering Muslim integration in Germany -- was finding ways to deal with the spiraling rates of forced marriages and domestic violence among the estimated 4.3 million Muslims who now reside there.

The main topic for discussion at the conference, however, was not on the official agenda: it was the unprecedented nationwide campaign by Islamic radicals to distribute 25 million free copies of the Koran, with the stated goal of placing one Koran into every home in Germany.

Muslim representatives attending the forum this year were in no mood for compromise, and refused to accept responsibility for any of the myriad irritants in German-Muslim relations, insisting instead that the German government amend its "misguided" approach to Muslim integration.

German officials were left trying to put the best spin on this year's event, which ended without a joint press conference, reportedly because of lingering Muslim pique at "offensive" comments which were uttered at the press conference that ended last year's event.

Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich opened the one-day conference by declaring that Islamic extremism has no place in Germany. "We all agree that Salafist extremism is not acceptable and does not work in a free society, as we have in Germany," he insisted. "Religion must not be abused in an ideological bid for power."

He was referring to the mass proselytization campaign -- called Project "READ!" -- being organized by dozens of Islamic Salafist groups located in cities and towns throughout Germany, as well as in Austria and Switzerland. The bid to convert non-Muslims has provoked uproar in Germany.

Salafism is a branch of radical Islam that seeks to establish an Islamic empire [Caliphate] across the Middle East, North Africa and Europe -- and eventually the entire world. The Caliphate would be governed exclusively by Islamic Sharia law, which would apply to both Muslims and non-Muslims.

But Friedrich did not say what, if anything, the German government was doing about the Salafists, who analysts say have launched a Europe-wide "frontal assault" against people of other faiths and "unbelievers."

Although Germany's domestic intelligence agency, the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV), regards the Salafist groups as a threat to German security, Salafists have free rein in the country, and Salafist preachers are known regularly to preach hatred against the West in the mosques and prayer centers that are proliferating across Germany.

According to the BfV, there are an estimated 29 Islamist groups in Germany with 34,720 members or supporters who pose a major threat to homeland security. Many of them want to establish a "Koran-state" in Germany; they believe Islamic Sharia law is a divine ordinance that will replace democracy, a man-made form of government.

German authorities view the Koran project as a "most worrisome" recruiting campaign for radical Islam. Security analysts say the campaign is also a public-relations gimmick intended to persuade Germans that the Salafists are transparent and "citizen friendly."

Although Friedrich urged Muslim representatives attending the conference to join him in condemning the Salafists, Muslims declined to meet him even half way. Instead, they dismissed fears over the Koran being distributed in every home as "hysterical" and "misguided."

Kenan Kolat, chairman of the Turkish Community in Germany, intervened personally to prevent the Salafist issue from becoming part of the official conference agenda. In an interview with the Rheinischen Post newspaper, Kolat justified his action by saying: "A hysterical debate is not helpful."

Ali Kizilkaya, chairman of the German Islamic Council, told German public radio that non-Muslims were engaged in "a panicked discussion" about the Salafist campaign. He insisted: "It is definitely not the spirit of the Koran to foment unrest in society."

Muslims were equally unwilling to discuss the main item on the official agenda of the conference, "Gender Equality as a Common Value" (Geschlechtergerechtigkeit als gemeinsamen Wert leben).

Conference attendees refused even to acknowledge any connection between Islam and forced marriage.

Instead, they issued a statement which says: "Domestic violence and the practice of forced marriage do not originate from a particular religion, but come from certain traditional, patriarchal structures… Muslims taking part in the German Islam Conference state explicitly that Islam is an open and tolerant religion that opposes physical and psychological violence and forced marriage and encourages individual self-determination, self-development and freedom of opinion and expression."

Regrettably, thousands of young women and girls living in Germany are, in fact, victims of forced marriages every year. Most of the victims come from Muslim families; many have been threatened with violence and even death.

According to a 160-page report, "Forced Marriages in Germany: Numbers and Analysis of Counseling Cases," commissioned by the German Federal Ministry of the Family, the problem of forced marriage is far more widespread than previously believed.

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

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

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

The vast majority -- 83.4% -- of the victims of forced marriages were from Muslim households.

Friedrich did not press the issue of forced marriage apparently to avoid offending the Muslims in attendance. Instead, he later told reporters that he was pleased about the "forged consensus" on forced marriage and domestic violence, and that these problems "do not come from religion, but from the patriarchal structures and traditions in the countries of origin."

Friedrich then congratulated himself for this achievement: "It is the first time that so many Muslim organizations and individuals were able to agree on such a declaration."

Commenting on Friedrich's kid-gloves approach to Muslims and Islam at this year's conference, Kenan Kolat, the leader of Germany's Turkish community, told Deutschlandradio: "I think he is learning."

To be sure, conference attendees were able to agree on one thing: The official focus of next year's conference will be…Islamophobia.

Soeren Kern is Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook.


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Muslim Brotherhood's Reach Extends to White House

by Tiffany Gabbay

Muslim Brotherhood's reach extends to White House

Eboo Patel, a member of the Obama administration's Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships, took part in panel discussion alongside Tariq Ramadan, grandson of the Muslim Brotherhood’s founder, and Siraj Wahhaj, who was named a possible co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

Photo Credit:AP

On Wednesday evening, GBTV unveiled a powerful documentary, “Rumors of War III,” exposing how radical Islamists, including the Muslim Brotherhood, are infiltrating American government at its highest levels. State Department Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Rashad Hussain: The Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report uncovered that Hussain spoke at a conference sponsored by the Muslim Brotherhood affiliate, the Association of Muslim Social Scientists. An internal Brotherhood document dubbed the Social Scientists as one of “our organizations and the organizations of our friends.”

Deputy Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Huma Abedin: In an interview with FrontPageMag, anti-Islamist author Walid Shoebat explained that Huma’s mother, Saleha Abedin, is involved with the Muslim Brotherhood and that Huma’s brother, Hassan, sits in on the board of the Oxford Centre For Islamic Studies (OCIS) where he is a fellow and partners with other board members including “Al-Qaeda associate Omar Naseef and the notorious Muslim Brotherhood leader Sheikh Youssef Qaradawi; both have been listed as OCIS Trustees.”

Tiffany Gabbay


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What are North Koreans Doing in Iran?

by Michael Rubin

President George W. Bush was widely—and unfairly—castigated for referring to Iran, Iraq, and North Korea as “The Axis of Evil.” Academics denied that such diverse countries could cooperate, while diplomats condemned Bush for saying such mean things about Ayatollah Ali Khamenei or Dear Leader Kim Jong-il. In hindsight, of course, Bush was right. The only legitimate criticism of the Axis of Evil was that he defined it too narrowly: Certainly, there might have been room for Venezuelan despot Hugo Chavez and Sudan’s murderous dictator Omar Al-Bashir, among others.

Blogger Challah Hu Akbar, whom I do not know personally but whose blog I always find interesting, has done some important analysis of Iranian media pictures and asks just what North Korean military officers are doing in Iran?

Somehow, I doubt they are teaching the Iranians about effective agriculture or the service industry. They are probably not exporting heavy fuel oil. Nor are they the world’s go-to guys for domestic energy generation. Fatwa or no fatwa, the remaining explanations don’t look good. Perhaps its time for the Obama administration to recognize what the Iranians say openly: Negotiations are a ruse, and it’s full steam ahead on their nuclear program.

Michael Rubin


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What Do Israelis Know About Obama that American Jews Are Missing?

by Jonathan S. Tobin

The Obama administration has been conducting an all-out charm offensive in recent months aimed at convincing American Jews that the president is Israel’s best friend. Polls have shown that the effort has not been enough to prevent a precipitous drop in his share of the prospective Jewish vote from the 78 percent he garnered in 2008. However, it will probably help him maintain a comfortable majority of Jewish votes in November as most of this predominantly liberal demographic is prepared to either ignore his past history of conflict with Israel or actually believes in the sincerity of his election-year conversion. But even as American Jews argue about Obama’s attitude toward Israel, the intended objects of the supposed solicitude continue to hold starkly different views about him.

A new Smith Research poll sponsored by the Jerusalem Post shows that although perceptions of Obama in Israel have improved in the last year, most Israelis don’t consider him much of a friend. The survey showed that 36 percent of Israelis believe Obama is neutral in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians with 24 percent seeing him as pro-Palestinian and an equal number perceiving him as pro-Israel while 16 percent expressed no opinion. These numbers make one wonder what it is that the three quarters of Israelis who don’t see him as being in favor of their country know that the majority of American Jews who think he is pro-Israel haven’t figured out.

The contrast between Israeli public opinion of the president and the views of American Jews is all the more startling when one realizes that these dismal numbers are actually a vast improvement for Obama over past polls conducted by the same firm. In the summer of 2009 after the first fight picked by the president with Israel and his Cairo speech to the Arab world in which he equated the plight of the Palestinians with the Holocaust, only 6 percent of Israelis saw him as their ally while 50 percent saw him as pro-Palestinian. Last year after his ambush of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in which he expressed support for the 1967 borders being the starting point for future Middle East negotiations, only 12 percent of Israelis saw him as pro-Israel.

While few American Jews are single issue voters and most consider liberal positions on domestic issues a higher priority than support for the Jewish state when choosing a president, Israelis are only focused on whether the resident of the White House is seeking to undermine their security or force them into unwanted and dangerous concessions. That’s why, although it is fair for Democrats to argue that Obama has not sought to unravel the U.S.-Israel security alliance, most Israelis still see the president as either neutral or hostile to their fate.

The opinions of Israelis ought not be dispositive to American voters on any issue. But those Democrats who will spend the year loudly proclaiming Obama to be Israel’s best friend ever to sit in the White House might want to take a moment and consider the fact that most of the people who they claim to support have a very different view of the question.

Jonathan S. Tobin


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White House Walks Back NYPD Support

by IPT News

In remarks made at NYPD headquarters a week ago, White House counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan expressed his "full confidence that the NYPD is doing things consistent with the law, and it's something that again has been responsible for keeping this city safe over the past decade."

Brennan's comments triggered immediate outrage from Islamist groups, who claim that the NYPD violated Muslim civil rights with surveillance programs involving public and online activity that were disclosed in a series of Associated Press reports.

A group called Muslim Advocates issued a statement the same day, calling Brennan's comments "appalling" and demanding that President Obama "quickly and clearly repudiate Brennan's comments and reassure the American people that his administration will not tolerate or condone racial and religious profiling by any federal or local law enforcement agency."

The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) responded similarly, asking for "immediate public clarification," or else. MPAC's Haris Tarin threatened "There are plenty of robust partnership models that both communities and the government have invested in and those partnerships will be jeopardized if NYPD's current tactics are not halted, and its programs are not adjusted to more successful initiatives."

Muslim Advocates and MPAC got their wish when the White House caved on Tuesday and issued a clarification saying Brennan "never approved of described press accounts of alleged NYPD surveillance … Rather, he was stating that everyone in the counter-terrorism and law enforcement community must make sure we are doing things consistent with the law."

The NYPD affirmed its activities as legal and proper. "There is no constitutional prohibition against a police department collecting information," city senior counsel Peter Farrell said in February.

The NYPD's surveillance program has been a source of public debate for months. It is difficult to imagine that Brennan did not consider this in preparing to address the department. On the other hand, he's the same official who advocated reaching out to "moderate" elements in the terrorist groups Hizballah.

The episode demonstrates how deeply both groups have gained influence within the Obama administration.

As we've noted, Tarin is a frequent guest at White House events, including its Iftar Dinner during last Ramadan, President Obama's 9/11 Memorial at the Kennedy Center. Obama called Tarin personally last July to commend him for his and MPAC's work.

Muslim Advocates Executive Director Farhana Khera has also been to the White House several times in the past 2 years and says she worked with the administration to create a list of prohibited charities and their leaders for donors to search before sending contributions.

In a letter to Khera last November, Brennan said he was listening to Muslim Advocates when it came to eliminating law enforcement training material the group complained inappropriately characterized Islam saying "Your letter requests that 'the White House immediately create an inter-agency task force to address this problem,' and we agree that this is necessary."

In February, the government purged more than 1,000 documents and presentations previously used in training programs that were deemed inaccurate or offensive to Muslims.

These so-called mainstream Muslim advocacy groups have a history of aggressive criticism of U.S. law enforcement agencies.

Khera testified before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing in March 2011, where she stood by her published advice on the Muslim Advocates' web page advising people "not to speak with law enforcement officials without the presence or advice of an attorney."

Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., called that "stunning" because cooperation from Muslim Americans is vital in thwarting potential terrorist plots.

Khera accused the FBI of violating Muslim civil rights in America by casting a series of counter-terrorism sting operations as entrapment. That drew a rebuke from Attorney General Eric Holder during a speech in December 2010 at a Muslim Advocates event.

"Those who characterize the FBI's activities in this case as 'entrapment,'" Holder said, "simply do not have their facts straight or do not have a full understanding of the law."

Holder, however, agreed to a preliminary review of the NYPD's surveillance program but no formal investigation has been launched. The group asked the attorneys general in New York and New Jersey to initiate similar state investigations. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman declined.

A Muslim Advocates statement called Schneiderman's position "deeply disappointing" and cowardly. "We had hoped that Attorney General Schneiderman would have had the moral courage to do the right thing and uphold the civil rights of Muslim New Yorkers, many of whom have been spied on by their police force simply because of their faith, not based on any wrongdoing. By their actions, Mayor Bloomberg and now Attorney General Schneiderman are sending a deeply disturbing message to American Muslims in New York and across the country: they are not deserving of equal protection of our laws."

In testimony submitted for a congressional hearing on the subject, Muslim Advocates argued that, "Our nation has not seen such widespread abuse, discrimination and harassment by federal law enforcement since the J. Edgar Hoover era."

But the overwhelming majority of NYPD's surveillance came in public settings.

"You can go to open meetings and you can go on open websites and look and see what's there and that's really all we've been doing," said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

His position is notable because of his past statements criticizing treatment of Muslims in New York. Bloomberg passionately defended the proposed "Ground Zero mosque," saying opponents "ought to be ashamed of themselves."

And he criticized NYPD for showing the documentary "The Third Jihad" as part of its training programs. Somebody [at the NYPD] exercised some terrible judgment," he said in January.

It also is a mistake to assume Muslim Advocates, MPAC and other critics speak for Muslim Americans. Dozens rallied in support of NYPD in early March. On Thursday, physician and author Qanta Ahmed argued that there's a reason for law enforcement to root out dangerous extremism – it exists.

"Our lawmakers and counterterrorism experts seek only to identify and disarm dangerously seditious ideologies, not races or religions," Ahmed wrote in a New York Post guest column. "And these ideologies — radical or political Islamism and other derivatives — are conceived and proliferating only among pockets of the highly diverse Muslim Diaspora."

The White House has sent conflicting signals on the surveillance debate. Holder called the disclosures "disturbing" and vowed a preliminary review. Then Brennan went to New York and hailed the department for keeping the city safe.

"We're going to continue to face these threats, these homegrown threats that are particularly challenging," he said. "There are individuals here who may be incited, encouraged, invigorated by what they see overseas, what they see on the Internet. And there are some tough decisions, and there are some inherent tensions. But it's not a trade-off between our security and our freedoms and our rights as citizens. And I will say that I believe that that balance that we strike has been an appropriate one. We want to make sure that we're able to optimize our security at the same time we optimize those freedoms that we hold and cherish so dearly."

Now the White House says Brennan wasn't talking about the surveillance controversy when he said the balance struck "has been an appropriate one."

He certainly didn't criticize it.

IPT News


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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Israel and the Future of the West

by Daniel Greenfield

Israel’s Jewish population is approaching six million. If current birth rates hold steady that significant milestone will be reached in time for next year’s Independence Day. If there is to be one.

In the sixty-four years that the revived country has existed, there has been a dramatic population shift. Western and Eastern Europe and Russia, where the majority of Western Jews once lived, now hold a fraction of the Jewish population. The Muslim world, former location of the majority of Eastern Jews, is barely worth mentioning.

Globally the Jewish population is divided between Israel and the United States. Israel is the home of the majority of the world’s Jews, but the combined Jewish Anglosphere is still larger, not so much because of the United Kingdom, but because of North America, which holds the largest number of Jews. In a development that would have been all but incomprehensible a century ago, the majority of Jews in the world speak English or Hebrew. Smaller numbers speak French and Spanish, but in a generation hardly any will speak Russian or Arabic.

The majority of Jews live in the American Hemisphere. If we subtract Israel, the Eastern Hemisphere would barely muster up ten percent of the Jewish population because its Jews have for the most part either moved to the Western Hemisphere or to Israel.

Israel is the last Jewish outpost in the Eastern Hemisphere. The last significant Jewish populations there are either in the far west, in the United Kingdom and France or legacy populations in Russia and the Ukraine. The latter have no future and the former are dwindling under pressure from the growing Muslim population in Europe.

Over the last century, Jews have been moving West, though not quickly enough to outpace the Nazis and the Communists. The migration has gathered up Middle East Jews and Eastern European Jews, leaving a handful scattered on the Western shores of Europe, while the majority have either rebuilt in Israel or moved on to America, Canada or Latin America.

Jews have often been referred to as the “canary in the coal mine” and accordingly Jewish migrations may foreshadow Christian migrations from the Eastern Hemisphere.

The Christian populations of the Middle East appear to be going the way of the Jewish population. In thrall to Muslim propaganda, the media blames Israel for the vanishing Christians of Bethlehem, but how does one explain a comprehensive regional Christian decline and exodus?

The fall of Egypt into the hands of the Brotherhood, Turkey into the hands of the AKP Islamists and the strong likelihood that the Brotherhood will take Syria and Hezbollah will take Lebanon, along with Muslim control over Gaza and the West Bank represent the end of the remaining centers of Christianity in the Middle East. It is not difficult to foresee a near future where Israel is the last remaining safe place in the region for Christians.

What is happening to Middle Eastern Christians is what has already happened to Middle Eastern Jews. Unlike the Jews, the Christians have no regional state of their own. The closest thing to it is Lebanon, which serves as an ugly example of what the binational Jewish-Muslim state that some called for and are still calling for would truly look like.

Had Christians turned Lebanon into a Christian Israel, then they would have been able to survive in the region. Middle Eastern Christians are on average better educated and more successful than the cult of a mass murderer that has colonized the region. A Christian Middle Eastern state would have stood head and shoulders above its Muslim neighbors, in every sense of the word. But instead coexistence was tried and it failed. Just as it is failing in Europe.

The migration of European Christians is happening at a slower rate, but it is happening as well. A Times poll found that 42 percent in the UK would like to leave. It is a safe assumption that the 42 percent does not come from the ranks of the bearded asylum seekers and the dole-hounds in the East End. The UK is seeing the largest emigration numbers in recent history, as many as three a minute leaving the country, the majority heading out to more distant corners of the Anglosphere.

Not all Europeans have the same linguistic support system of former colonies making emigration more difficult to contemplate. Emigration from the Netherlands has hit an all time high, headed to most of the same places, either outside the hemisphere or to distant Australia and New Zealand. The Portuguese are heading to Brazil, and the Spanish, Greeks and Italians are also hitting the exit doors. While the process doesn’t seem all that drastic now, it is the opening round of a migration that will drastically accelerate as the Muslim colonization of Europe, with its accompanying violence goes on.

European Christians are following the path of European Jews, just as Middle Eastern Christians are following the path of Middle Eastern Jews, seeking stability, safety and opportunity outside countries that are on the path to becoming unlivable. Most are not leaving because they are aware of the problem, but because they are aware of the consequences.

Israel is a non-Muslim country in a region where after centuries of conquests there aren’t supposed to be any non-Muslim countries. It is an indigenous minority trying to fly the flag in an Arabized region and it can only survive by succeeding at everything it does. It has managed to defy the odds. Like the Armenians, it has proven that it is possible for an indigenous minority to build a successful state out of a diaspora and defend it against Muslim aggression. Those ignorant of history might call it colonialism, but it actually represent indigenous peoples rolling back Muslim colonialism.

If worst comes to worst for Europe, perhaps one day Americans and Australians will resettle England and Scotland, the way that Jews resettled Israel. But the larger question may be who will resettle Australia and America? Retreating across the ocean to another continent is no real solution. Not in the age of the jet plane that can just as easily carry thousands of Muslim settlers, as be hijacked by its Muslim passengers and rammed into major landmarks and centers of government.

Israel may be civilization’s last stand. Even if it fails, it was a nobler effort than pretending that nothing was wrong while heading out the door to other continents where it would take longer for the Jihad to reach their grandchildren.

Daniel Greenfield


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10 Reasons Arabs Should Celebrate Israel

by Michal Toiba

Dear Israel,

We, Muslims and Arabs of the world, would like to send you greetings and warm wishes on the occasion of your 64th Independence Day. Mazal tov. Along with other world leaders and countries who rightfully congratulate you on this special day, we too would like to finally take this opportunity to celebrate your accomplishments and highlight some of your contributions to the Arab and Muslim worlds:

1. Being at the forefront of efforts to stop Iran's drive for a nuclear weapon. We recognize the dangers a nuclear Iran would pose for the world and especially for the Middle East. We are also fearful of increasing Shiite influence in the region. We prefer not to speak out openly against Iran, so as not to lose face among fellow Muslims or confront the Iranians ourselves – so we thank you, Israel, for stepping up to do what we in the Sunni world secretly want but will not say publicly: "To cut off the head of the snake."

2. Releasing hundreds of Arab prisoners for just one Israeli. In contrast to the U.S., other Western nations, and even some countries in the Arab world who refuse to negotiate with terrorists, choosing instead to abandon their citizens, you, Israel, were willing to release so many of our people -- an astounding 1,027 Palestinian prisoners -- in return for one of your own: Gilad Schalit. In doing so, you showed us how a country that really cares about its citizens acts. One of our own, a Syrian citizen, noted this last year when he tweeted: "Israel exchanged 1000 Palestinian prisoners for 1 Israeli. I just envy their govt because it cares for its citizens. Their govt is prepared to pay the ultimate price for one citizen, while our govt kills us like we are animals and our Arab neighbors say that it's an internal matter."

3. Sending humanitarian aid, even to hostile countries. Israel, you were the first country to offer humanitarian assistance to Turkey after a large earthquake claimed the lives of more than 400 people there. Even though Turkey initially rejected the offer, you responded immediately when Turkey finally decided to accept. Over the years, your people have also offered or sent humanitarian aid to several other Arab or Muslim countries, including Pakistan, Indonesia and Iraq, and most recently, your foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, offered to send aid to war-torn Syria.

4. Providing a safe haven for refugees. Israel has taken in thousands of Muslim refugees from Sudan, Eritrea, Ivory Coast, other African countries, and even some from Bosnia during the ethnic war there. While Egyptian security forces have beaten or killed African refugees seeking asylum, Israel has provided them with safety and even granted many of them citizenship.

5. Providing medical treatment to children – and families of terrorists. In addition to your extensive humanitarian work, when our children in the Palestinian Authority, Iraq, Jordan, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, and other Arab and Muslim countries needed advanced cardiac treatment, you, Israel, provided it, free of charge, thus saving hundreds of children's lives. Not only that, but just a few months ago your kindness reached new heights when you provided medical treatment in Tel Aviv for the wife of one of the most notorious Palestinian terrorists – Abu Daoud, the mastermind behind the massacre at the Munich Olympic games in 1972.

6. Arabs live longer in Israel. We have to admit, Israeli Arabs enjoy one of the highest life expectancies in the Middle East – they even live longer than Americans – and also reproduce more than Arabs in several of Israel's neighboring countries, including Jordan, Syria, Egypt, and Lebanon.

7. Boosting trade and strengthening economies. Israel, your (official and unofficial) commercial trade relations with many Muslim and Arab countries, some of whom refuse to have diplomatic relations with you, have enabled them to increase their exports and have given them tariff-free access to U.S. markets. Just to give some examples, your Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZ) agreement with Egypt gave the country's textile industry a new lease on life and brought Egypt a staggering $1.3 billion in revenues in 2011. In Jordan, textile exports to the U.S. increased from $15 million in 1997 to $1 billion in 2004, and Jordanian officials estimate that more than 40,000 jobs were created thanks to QIZ factories. Your trade transactions with Indonesia – which does not formally recognize you – have seen millions of dollars enter the Southeast Asian country. An Israel-Indonesia Chamber of Commerce was even set up in Israel to promote and facilitate business ties between the two countries.

8. Water. The Middle East and North Africa region is the most water-scarce region in the world. In the face of this challenge, Israel has agreed to sell water to Jordan to help cover its shortage, and, with the construction of a new desalination plant in Ashdod, it hopes to be able to sell more water to its neighbors in 2013.

9. High-tech and medical equipment. Many Arab Gulf states, and Muslim states such as Malaysia and Indonesia, use your technology, especially for internal security purposes. Last year, a bank in Malaysia used an Israeli remote banking fraud solution that stopped 51 confirmed cases of fraud within the first month of its installation. Several Israeli firms also export medical supplies to Arab countries, among them Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf states.

10. Agricultural know-how. As the old saying goes, "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." Israel, your agricultural companies have helped farmers across the Middle East and Africa lower their dependence on rain, increase their crop yield and improve nutrition. One of these companies, agricultural consultants AgroProject, has benefitted countries such as Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Afghanistan, the UAE, Tunisia and many others in the Middle East. AgroProject's co-director has said his staff often has to travel to our countries using foreign passports, which they say is unpleasant, but they have been willing to put this aside because "the people under the government officials appreciate our help so much. Improving their farming communities improves their lives directly. It’s about people helping people."


As you can see, Israel, you have had a positive impact on the Muslim and Arab worlds, even though we may not always recognize or admit this. So instead of blaming you for all the ills of the Middle East and repeatedly questioning your right to exist, today we'd like to give credit where credit is due. Here's to you Israel, on your 64th birthday.


The Arab and Muslim worlds

Michal Toiba is the Blogs and Opinion editor of Israel Hayom’s English edition.


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Haaretz, NYTimes Play Telephone With IDF

by Jonathan S. Tobin

Reading the New York Times account of an interview with Benny Gantz, the chief of staff of the Israeli Defense Force, that was first published in Haaretz is like a children’s game of “telephone.” What Gantz actually said wasn’t reflected in the misleading headline of the Israeli newspaper. That headline, rather than the actual content of the piece, was repeated in the Times article, so what comes out in America’s so-called newspaper of record had more to do with the editorial agenda of the press than the reality of Israel’s security dilemma.

The Haaretz headline was an attention-grabber: “IDF Chief to Haaretz: I do not believe Iran will decide to develop nuclear weapons.” Yet nowhere in the piece was there a quote that matched this startling assertion that was repeated in the Times headline that read: “Israeli Army Chief Says He Believes Iran Won’t Build a Bomb.” What Gantz tells Haaretz is that while the Iranians are actively working on a nuclear program, they have yet to activate the final stage of the project that would convert the material to a nuclear bomb. This is no revelation, as not even the most alarmist account of Iran’s efforts has stated that this final stage has been reached. Nor did Gantz express a belief that Iran wouldn’t build a bomb. Rather, he said the Iranians would do it only if they felt themselves “invulnerable.” He said he thought the ayatollahs were “rational,” but added that a weapon in their hands would be “dangerous.”

So while the tone of Gantz’s interview was not as sharp as the statements made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the substance isn’t very different. Which makes the claims made by the Times and the misleading headline in Haaretz a transparent attempt to portray a stark division within the councils of Israel’s leaders where there may be none.

Here’s the text published by Haaretz:

Asked whether 2012 is also decisive for Iran, Gantz shies from the term. “Clearly, the more the Iranians progress the worse the situation is. This is a critical year, but not necessarily ‘go, no-go.’ The problem doesn’t necessarily stop on December 31, 2012. We’re in a period when something must happen: Either Iran takes its nuclear program to a civilian footing only or the world, perhaps we too, will have to do something. We’re closer to the end of the discussions than the middle.”

Iran, Gantz says, “is going step by step to the place where it will be able to decide whether to manufacture a nuclear bomb. It hasn’t yet decided whether to go the extra mile.”

As long as its facilities are not bomb-proof, “the program is too vulnerable, in Iran’s view. If the supreme religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wants, he will advance it to the acquisition of a nuclear bomb, but the decision must first be taken. It will happen if Khamenei judges that he is invulnerable to a response. I believe he would be making an enormous mistake, and I don’t think he will want to go the extra mile. I think the Iranian leadership is composed of very rational people. But I agree that such a capability, in the hands of Islamic fundamentalists who at particular moments could make different calculations, is dangerous.”

While Gantz expressed some hope that international sanctions might work to influence Iran’s decisions, he said nothing that could be construed as a belief that Iran’s goal wasn’t a nuclear weapon or that Israel could live with the Islamist regime possessing such a capability. Indeed, he made it very clear that it was his job to prepare a “credible” military threat to Iran the purpose of which would be to convince Tehran to back down.

All that can be said of this interview is that Gantz did not mention the Holocaust and that his tone was calm and professional with more attention to the technical business of his specific military responsibility than an emotional call to action. But why would we expect a military leader to sound like a politician even if the substance of his approach left little daylight between his position and that of his boss?

It is true that this sounded a lot different from Netanyahu’s interview on CNN, where he made it clear that international sanctions on Iran had better work quickly lest the Iranians use the time they are gaining from protracted negotiations to get closer to their nuclear goal. But nothing Gantz said contradicted Netanyahu’s assertion that an Iranian nuke was an existential threat to Israel that must be stopped.

There is no basis to claim, as the Times does, that Gantz’s interview meant he agreed with Netanyahu’s critics and others who take a more relaxed view of the Iranian threat. Nor does the paper point out that even former Mossad chief Meyer Dagan, who is among the most vocal of those disagreeing with Netanyahu, believes Iran must be stopped from gaining a nuclear weapon.

The effort to hype Gantz’s interview is part of a campaign on the part of Israel’s critics to portray Netanyahu as being “hysterical” — the term used by the Times — about Iran. But as Gantz said, Israelis “aren’t two oceans away from the problem — we live here with our civilians, our women and our children, so we interpret the extent of the urgency differently.”

Jonathan S. Tobin


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Obama the Tragedy

by William L. Gensert

A second term for Barack Obama will be a tragedy. His farcical first term barely hinted at the disaster awaiting America in Barack II. Hobbled by a staggering lack of judgment and competence, and his ever-present reticence to make decisions that might impede his re-election, his first despicable term was a joke, despite a dearth of mirth. If given four more years without worry of electoral reprisal, he will wreak havoc upon the nation in ways that Barack, back in Barack I, only dreamed of.

In 2008, Obama hoped the audacity of pretending to believe in America would propel him to the presidency, and he was right. If re-elected, Barack Obama will finally have the luxury of being himself, and that is something that should terrify every American.

To detect the direction of Obama's next term, one need only examine select decisions from his first. The deliberate demise of America's space program is one. Any future triumph for NASA, because of its well-documented previous success, would have never been credited to Barack's brilliance. And in America today, there is simply no room for any victory that does not belong solely to Barack Obama. It had to go. Sure, he routinely claims the success of others, but selling the space program as all-Barack would have been a stretch, even for the man who Michelle Obama has said "led us out of the darkness into the light."

Defense is another example of what an Obama second term will look like. After strangling bin Laden with his bare hands, and singlehandedly ending terror worldwide, and with the tide of war ebbing, he has come to the conclusion the nation doesn't need a defense. Besides, no matter how much he spends, or how powerful our armed forces remain or become, he will never get credit, because the heroes of America's military are the men and woman who volunteer to stand on that wall, ever-vigilant, so that demagogues like Barack Obama can be successful, while despising them and the sacrifice they make for their country.

The F-22 may be the most advanced fighter in the world, but how would Barack take credit for that? Better to cancel it and spend the money winning a future "built to last."

Our president wants total control over government, to exercise total control over all the little people. He knows what is best for them. No expense is too great for the nation to realize Barack Obama's dream of saving people from too much freedom. He'll spend any amount of money to remake the country in his own image, but he balks at spending money for the things government can actually do better, like space travel and defense.

Calling four more years of Barack Obama a tragedy for America, and perhaps the world, may very well be an understatement. Since his inauguration, every pronouncement, legislative action, executive order, or regulatory fiat has been a veritable disaster for the nation. He has been so successful at being unsuccessful that it borders on hilarity...or is that Hillary? Never mind...I digress.

He once said "they talk about me like a dog." With recent revelations, the nation should wonder what he meant...sorry, another digression.

His failures are legion, his miscues legendary. History will see his first term as a running gag, with no one laughing, plenty of people gagging, and everyone running for his life. The laugh is on us, because despite the unmitigated disaster of Obama's first term, there are still people who will vote for him.


An economy thrives in a low-cost energy environment. Expensive energy costs the nation jobs and prosperity. The "all of the above" energy policy of our president's execrable re-election campaign will become the "none of the above" policy of a second-term Obama. Electricity bills will triple as our president allows the EPA to totally ravage the coal industry. The goal is to eliminate those bituminous bits of black gold from electrical generation. Coal now provides 45% of America's electricity...coming soon, zero percent.

We can always replace coal with natural gas or nuclear power...but wait a minute. Barack will never allow nuclear power with its zero emissions and inexpensive energy. He can't abide that; the price of electricity must "necessarily skyrocket" for green to become the new black. Nuclear energy is out.

If re-elected, Obama will be faced with a choice to either allow fracking and further development of fossil fuels in America, and admit to the idiocy of flushing tens of billions of dollars down the green energy toilet, or ban it by regulatory fiat, raising energy prices to the point where green boondoggles can compete.

Obama will never admit that any decision he made was wrong. Look for him to take option 2. After all, if re-elected, he will have more "flexibility."

After the election, the EPA will, suddenly and shockingly, find that fracking endangers water supplies, or something or other, and impose regulations that will cause the natural gas industry to go in the same direction as coal.

The first step was taken Friday, April 13. It was a typical Friday Obama dump. When no one was looking, Obama issued an executive order establishing a task force, which is to ensure drilling techniques such as fracking are "safe and responsible." In other words, he put his best team on it. Americans should know where this is headed. Natural gas is out.

Under "Energy President" Obama, annual revenue to the U.S. Treasury from offshore oil lease sales has plummeted more than $9 billion since 2008, to less than $37 million in 2011. In government today, $37 million is a rounding error. This should tell the nation all it needs to know about Obama's future plans for oil in America. Oil is out.

The president does not want the nation to exploit its fossil fuel resources. Ten-dollar-a-gallon gasoline will not affect the lives of Barack and family. The person working two jobs to pay rent and put food on the table, however, will be devastated.

In the age of Barack II, no one will be driving -- gasoline will be beyond most citizens' budgets. No one will be reading or writing dissent by lamplight late at night -- electricity will be too expensive. We will be relegated to freezing in our homes, lights off, praying for 01/20/17 and an end to the "Obama-nation."

To sum up, in Barack II, he will cut out coal and oil, diminish natural gas, and forbid nuclear power. Electric bills will skyrocket, and the nation will face rolling blackouts. Gasoline will become even more unaffordable than it is already.

The double-whammy of high transportation and energy costs will tank the economy, and jobs will become even scarcer than they are already. In short, we will have been fundamentally transformed into a third-world country.

It's coming, but like everything for Barack, it's scheduled for...again...after the election. And all this, he will do by himself. Because when you are transformative, you don't have to abide by the Constitution, separation of powers, checks and balances, and judicial review. Executive fiat will be sufficient. All he needs is another term.

The president says we should vote for him, because only a few have prospered while many have struggled. He has a point. After all, the man has spent three and a half years doing everything in his power to make this a reality.

This article covers just a few topics. The president has equally disastrous plans for international affairs, race relations, government ubiquity, union primacy, guns, taxes, health care, and the judiciary. Every single aspect of American life will be affected in Barack II.

The theme of Obama's re-election campaign is "We can't wait." If Barack Obama is re-elected, Americans will soon long for the misery of "hope and change."

William L. Gensert


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