Saturday, May 19, 2012

Stealing Their Way to Statehood - Part III

by Gil Bringer

This is Part III of a meticulously researched article that describes in detail how Bedouins of the Jordan Valley are used by the Palestinian Authority to take over territory in Area C surreptitiously.

Read Part I here.
Read Part II here.

Fourth Stop: A Representative of the New Israel Fund

The ineffectiveness of the Israeli authorities in dealing with the Palestinian course of action, which does not hide the intention to seize every parcel of land that remains in area C, has become an accepted fact. And despite the fact that this openly declared Palestinian strategy is contrary to the policy of Israel, law enforcement agencies drag their feet.

An obvious example of this is the petitions regarding the settlement in Masua. In the year 2002, Bedouins began squatting in private areas of the farming community Masua, which is situated in the foothills of Mount Sartava. Masua was established as the fourth outpost of the "nachal" program in the Jordan valley in the beginning of the seventies and was defined as part of the "The continuous defensive wall of the Hebrew settlement". The infiltration into Masua is another fresh crack in the wall of Israeli sovereignty . The Bedouin families set up just next to the hothouses of the community and began working the land parallel to the Israeli hothouses.

Every time the Bedouins widened their infiltration into Masua, the civil administration came out with a new demolition order on the section where illegal building was added. And every time the Bedouins requested from Attorney Tawfiq Jibran a restraining order to prevent the destruction . Every time, their request was granted.

Contrary to the Bedouin tribe which infiltrated the territory of Masua, Jibran, a graduate of the Legal Program of the New Israel Fund, did not come out of nowhere. The Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat al_Jedida (The Modern Life) published an interview with Marwan Tubasi, governor of Tubas, at the end of last January (2012) in which he remarked, "The Palestinians will continue to cling to their land and will ensure that all the Israeli plans to Judaize the Jordan Valley will fail, because the concerned parties that are responsible for the activities of the the district and the Office of Matters dealing with the Wall and [Jewish] Settlements have begun to work energetically to obtain injunctions to prevent the demolition of buildings ". The work is done, remarked Tubasi, "In cooperation with Attorney Tawfiq Jibran on behalf of the Palestinian Authority in order to monitor the destruction of buildings and to represent the citizens in the Israeli courts."

Later he proudly told Tubasi that the PA had established a fund of hundreds of thousands of dollars to compensate the Bedouins in case buildings were, nevertheless, destroyed. It is not always possible to depend on Jibran to deliver the goods - so it's good to have something on the side. The Palestinian package that is given for the Bedouin settlement is paid for. It includes equipment for water, buildings, legal support and compensatory funds.

The four requests for temporary injunctions that were served by Jibran were all accepted by Israel's Supreme Court. In contrast, the only request that the community [Masua] served, which was to consolidate files in order to deal with the whole subject at once and put an end to the delays, was rejected. And so, the issue is suspended, and has been stagnant for ten years, during which time the Bedouin outpost continues to develop, and the residents of Masua, watch with astonishment the painfully slow process of the prosecutor's office in dealing with the squatters.

The endless dragging out of the procedures sends to the PA the undeniable message - Israel does not really intend to fight their squatting. Gone are the days when the settlement in the Jordan Valley was seen as a "Hebrew Wall". It is no wonder that recently, on Israeli land, in the territory of Masua, the PA put up a sign of the Palestinian Agricultural Office. On this sign is written, "Successful restoration" - in English and Arabic. Another project to the glory of the emerging Palestinian state.

Incidentally, in order to acquire water for agriculture the Bedouin squatters didn't even have to steal from the pipes or use water trailers. They can drill into the ground illegally and get water on the spot. In the absence of proper oversight, the Bedouins have established an outpost outside of Masua that enjoys the support of the Palestinian Agricultural Office, and they have begun to drill within the territory of Masua.

Fifth Stop: The Apathetic Prosecutor

Again and again Israel refuses to deal with the well-orchestrated Palestinian process. And even when the administration does issue demolition orders, something in the conduct of the prosecutor's office goes awry. Their is no hint of the diligence and effectiveness that it shows when dealing with the Jewish settlements in Migron and Amona. And even in the rare cases that it fulfills its obligations, the courts obstruct the process.

For example, in the town of Abu-Hindi, which sprouted up within seven days just beyond the fence of the Jewish Kedar community, the civil administration decided to demolish the buildings and issued a demolition order. As mentioned above, the Jihalin tribe immediately served a request for an interim injunction that was prepared along with the trucks and the equipment far ahead of time. They should have encountered in the court a state prosecutor who would have fought to reject the request for the interim injunction and to carry out the demolition injunction in the most urgent manner.

It should have been a simple and easy matter for the prosecutor. Because although attorney Shlomo Lakar, who represented the Bedouins, claimed that they lived in the location from time immemorial and that the buildings that were brought about one year ago to the wadi only improved their living conditions in the area, aerial photographs prove that this claim is totally unfounded. A comparison between the aerial photographs of this precise area in wadi Abu-Hindi clearly proves - the new buildings were brought to the location in the year 2011.

However it was here that a most pleasant surprise awaited the Jihalin. During the entire last year the prosecutor's office requested again and again to postpone its response on the subject. The prosecutor served no less than five requests for a postponement to respond to the request to issue an interim injunction.

Judge Danziger, who was handling the case, commented that "It must be assumed that the buildings will not be destroyed before a discussion on the temporary injunction." The administration interpreted the judge's speculation as a binding ruling according to which it must not dare to carry out the demolition orders in the new city, despite the fact that the interim injunction had never come into effect. The prosecutor's office drags out the time more and more to the point that lately, the court threatened that it might not allow the prosecutor to make a claim against the interim injunction that will prevent the destruction of the buildings because of "lack of activity in the case". Until now the prosecutor has still not given any initial response on the subject.

Although it is egregious enough that the prosecutor's office has requested a delay without doing anything in the case five times, that is not a "record" in matters concerned with settlements vs Bedouins in the area. For example, in one case - High Court of Justice 1828/06 - the administration requested to demolish illegal sheds that the Jihalin tribe had built. No fewer than 17 decisions were taken in this case - all of them requesting extensions of time by the prosecutor's office, of these, there were 13 decisions in which the court determined that the prosecution was conducted with "lack of activity". As of today the prosecutor's office has still not delivered the state's position on the merits of the case.

Read Part IV here.

Next installment - Sixth Stop: Individual Initiative

Gil Bringer is an attorney who serves as the legal consultant to the Jewish Home faction in the Knesset and co-editor of the "Tzedek" legal supplement to the Makor Rishon Hebrew weekly newspaper. Among other things, he deals with the areas of overlap between law and politics, Zionism and good governance. He can be contacted at

Translated from Hebrew by Sally Zahav

Source: Source: Makor Rishon weekly Hebrew newspaper;

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

Chicago Braces for Leftist Violence and Mayhem

by Matthew Vadum

The Left’s violent attacks on the yet-to-begin NATO summit in Chicago are already underway as anti-American activists hope to recreate the mayhem that accompanied the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle. Radicals clamoring for “change” have said for months that the actions in Chicago are only the beginning.

During a heart-warming “F*** the Police” protest action Tuesday night in Chicagoland, mask-wearing demonstrators clad in black clothing carried communist and anarchist flags in hopes of winning the hearts and minds of Middle America. One area resident described the raucous march as “scary.”

Leftists and union goons terrorized entire neighborhoods, creating makeshift barricades, dragging dumpsters into the streets, and upending garbage cans. One anarchist apparently beat up an 80-year-old man.

Management at a downtown housing complex in Chicago is warning residents to flee to safety before Occupy demonstrators switch into full rage-against-the-machine mode. The Library Tower Condominium Association sent out a letter indicating that management “is STRONGLY recommending that all residents find places to stay during the conference from May 18 through May 21.”

When the nations of the G8 and NATO begin meeting this weekend, the Occupy Wall Street movement and its allies plan to press their demands. Occupiers want an economy-killing “Robin Hood Tax” to be imposed on financial transactions, an international agreement to curb carbon emissions, and “a nuclear-free Middle East” (translation: the unilateral nuclear disarmament of Israel), according to Adbusters, Kalle Lasn’s left-wing magazine that helped to lay the groundwork for the Occupy movement. Chicago demonstrators won’t be able to protest the G8 summit unless they’re willing to do a lengthy weekend commute. That conference was supposed to take place alongside the NATO conference in Chicago but was relocated to Camp David in Maryland.

The steadily increasing levels of violence from Occupiers may be related to anarchists’ apparently growing influence in the movement. “Anarchist occupiers are energized and their visceral tactics are attracting members,” according to Adbusters, which praised the brutal techniques anarchists used during May Day actions. “Now, the power of the Black Bloc is growing within Occupy and pushing the movement in unexpected directions.”

Useful idiot Aaron Hughes, an organizer with Iraq Veterans Against the War, will also play a role in the protests this weekend. He said he intends to lead a cohort of veterans to the NATO summit. Hughes and other misguided souls plan to return –John Kerry-style— the service medals they earned in Iraq.

Meanwhile, President Obama’s favorite labor organization, the Service Employees International Union, is subsidizing demonstrators by providing Washington, D.C. office space worth $4,000 a month to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Interviewed in that space one Occupy activist ill-suited for abstract thought, Johnny Mandracchia, shared his unusual definition of the word violence with Katie Pavlich of Townhall magazine. It is not violence to smash the windows of a Starbucks coffee shop, said the self-described anarcho-syndicalist, “because Starbucks isn’t a private business – it’s a corporation.” Such acts, including the burning of police cars, are merely examples of vandalism, he said.

While Professor Mandracchia was imparting his novel ideas about law, Obama pals Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn were busy helping the anti-American activists who hope to violently disrupt the approaching NATO summit in Chicago.

Ayers and Dohrn are the close personal friends of Obama who launched his political career with a fundraiser in their Chicago living room when he ran for the Illinois state senate. The small-c communist confab for cash took place several years after the conclusion of a lengthy firebombing campaign conducted by the now-married couple’s terrorist group, the Weather Underground. Ayers and Dohrn escaped justice on a legal technicality after law enforcement personnel failed to cross every “t” and dot every “i” in their quest for evidence against the couple.

Some Obama critics say Ayers may have even written Obama’s well received first autobiography, Dreams From My Father.

Freshly returned from a sojourn in Marxist fantasy land, Dohrn seemed to echo the late radical lawyer William Kunstler’s infamous observation that the police constitute “an army of occupation” in American cities.

Although the security dragnet enveloping Chicagoland is prompted by a well-founded belief that Occupy-associated groups and fanatics like Dohrn pose a threat to public safety, the wrinkly terrorist bomber blames NATO for the creation of “restricted zones” and “the shutdown of universities and colleges, the shutdown of businesses, the closings of the major museums here, it is being treated as really a practice military zone.”

What Dohrn really means is that the so-called right of unhinged nihilistic protesters to run wild in the streets is more important than the right of Chicago’s citizens to defend their persons and property from attack.

Predictably, for propaganda purposes Dohrn deliberately misdescribed the NATO conference as “war games,” evoking images of destroyers on Lake Michigan shelling the Sears Tower.

Dohrn told fellow travelers such as host Amy Goodman at “Democracy Now!” that instead of getting together in Chicago representatives of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization should be meeting “in an underground bunker or on a remote island.” For her part, Goodman euphemistically described Dorhn and Ayers merely as “two veteran activists.”

Zoe Sigman of Occupy Chicago amplified Dohrn’s points at a press conference.

Sigman called NATO leaders “warmongers” invading Chicago and “the military arm of the 1 percent.” The “warnings of violence downtown echo the reality of police repression” that some Chicagoans face in their everyday lives. “NATO,” Sigman said, “is a symptom of the global system of violence and oppression at the hands of the 1 percent.”

Of course Sigman did not discuss Occupy Wall Street and the spectacularly violent satellite protests it has spawned in cities across the U.S. and around the world. Radical activists are responsible for hundreds of crimes, including assault, rape, arson, rioting, robbery, and a host of others. But deluded true believers don’t quite see it that way. They see the police and institutions as the problem.

Ayers told Goodman that the authorities in Chicago are the real troublemakers.

“What they’re doing and what they’ve been doing for months is to kind of deflect attention from NATO onto the idea that somehow the protests create a threat,” he said.

“They’re shutting Lakeshore Drive. They’re shutting the trains. They’re closing exits off the freeways. And they’re creating a kind of culture of fear,” said Ayers, an expert in creating a culture of fear.

“We insist that this is a family-friendly, nonviolent, permitted march. And all the kind of hysteria about what’s about to happen is really brought on by the police. I don’t think anything is going to happen, except that they are creating the conditions for a police riot, once again. They’re creating the conditions for more repression. And this is a very bad thing.”

Far-left activists from the Catholic Worker movement kicked off “A Week Without Capitalism” in Chicago by invading an office building housing the Obama reelection campaign headquarters. They claimed to be advancing “nonviolent resistance to the corporate G8/NATO agenda.”

On the other side in Chicago is Mayor Rahm Emanuel, himself a radical Saul Alinsky-inspired thug, who previously served as Obama’s White House chief of staff. Emanuel has beefed up security in the Windy City and taken other steps such as boosting fines for resisting a police officer in anticipation of the demonstrations.

Thousands of out-of-state police officers are streaming into Chicago to help deal with Ayers’s family-friendly nonviolent demonstrators. Law enforcement personnel would be wise to bring their batons and gas masks.

Matthew Vadum


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

How History Weighs on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

by Seth Mandel

In September 1993, Yasir Arafat told one of recent history’s most significant lies. At the time, Arafat still resided where he certainly belonged: on the State Department’s terrorism list. But the date of the White House ceremony announcing the signing of the declaration of principles was nearing, and the Clinton administration had given up its earlier resistance to asking Yitzhak Rabin to shake the bloodstained hand of the committed murderer on the White House lawn so everyone could have their “historic” moment in the sun.

So Arafat wrote a letter. He would–scout’s honor–end his campaign to annihilate the Jewish people. “Our lawyers judged this written renunciation as sufficient grounds for the president to take Arafat and the PLO off the State Department’s terrorism list,” wrote Martin Indyk in his memoir of the Clinton administration’s Middle East diplomacy. The rest, as they say, is history.

I recount this story not to take a gratuitous swipe at the naïveté of the Clinton administration nor at the cavalier way Israeli security concerns were put in a box in the White House attic so Clinton could mug for the cameras. The point is that allowing Arafat to hijack and destroy the chances for peace cannot be so easily undone, even if we’ve learned something from these mistakes.

Aaron David Miller, a member of the Clinton team, is now at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and a regular columnist for Foreign Policy, and has used his perch to attempt to atone for the mistakes of the Clinton administration. It is an honorable and laudable act. And yesterday at the center, Miller moderated an interesting discussion between former Shin Bet director Ami Ayalon and former Obama campaign adviser Robert Malley. The event was ostensibly about how the old negotiations paradigm has become somewhat useless and the value of unilateralism in moving forward.

Malley described a strategy of “parallel unilateral steps.” Ayalon mostly agreed, but insisted “this is a friendly unilateralism, not an antagonistic unilateralism.” Neither, however, went on to describe in any great detail what your friendly neighborhood unilateralism would look like in practice. And Malley restated Miller’s own thesis, suggesting that it was difficult to understand how giving up the fiction of a bilateral peace process could possibly be more damaging than maintaining it, at this point.

But there are two problems here. First, Ayalon readily admitted that “we know the parameters” of a final deal, and those would be “the Clinton parameters… and all that was discussed in the last 20 years.” Because the “last 20 years” have been used by the Palestinian leadership to broadcast as loudly and as often as possible that they utterly reject this idea, it’s hard to imagine why Ayalon still thinks this is a workable plan. But his opening seems to be that Israel should conform to those parameters with or without Palestinian cooperation.

This may or may not be worth exploring–I’ve written about “coordinated unilateralism” before, though I’m not sure changing the tactics while keeping the same parameters of a final-status agreement is practical.

But Ayalon does have one revolutionary idea, and it’s one he has been drawing attention to recently. That idea is: treat Israeli settlers like human beings. As Ayalon wrote in the New York Times in April: “We have learned that we must be candid about our proposed plan, discuss the settlers’ concerns and above all not demonize them. They are the ones who would pay the price of being uprooted from their homes and also from their deeply felt mission of settling the land.”

Ayalon repeated this thesis yesterday. This is important, because among mainstream media outlets and left-of-center journalists you will not find such empathy toward the settlers. Nor will you find nuance or complexity.

For his part, Malley wants the settlers at the table too. This is in part because Malley wants everyone at the table–he’s long been a proponent of negotiating with Hamas. But that just makes those who would exclude the settlers look that much more ridiculous. (Among leftists, the idea that you would talk to Hamas but not Orthodox Jews makes perfect sense–which helps explain the marginalization of the Israeli left.)

But this raises an important question: Are you bringing settlers to the table as props, to display your empathy and humanity and ask them to sit there quietly as you pat them on the head? Or are you bringing them to the table to include them in negotiations? Malley, Ayalon, and Miller are all men of the left, so it’s encouraging to hear them talk like this, but the panel was not exactly balanced. And history is, once again, an obstacle–disrespect of the settlers and the whitewashing of violent Palestinian rejectionism have become ingrained elements of the peace process.

During the presentation, Ayalon said he believes “there is no peace without partners.” If that’s true, then based on the behavior of Israel’s “partner,” there is no peace.

Seth Mandel


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Who’s Really Persecuting Christians?

by Jonathan S. Tobin

Last month CBS’s “60 Minutes” show earned itself some justified criticism for a biased report about the treatment of Palestinian Christians by Israel. As Alana noted then, the premise of the piece — that routine security precautions on the part of Israeli forces has led to a decline in the Christian population in the West Bank — was preposterous. Why would Israeli measures cause Christian numbers to diminish but not affect the rapidly growing Muslim population? Only a determination to blame Israel for everything could have led the “60 Minutes” team to avoid the obvious explanation: the rise of militant Islam in traditional Christian strongholds that has gradually forced many Christians to flee the country. Israel remains the only country in the Middle East where the rights of the Christian minority — which is growing — are respected.

But the pushback against this calumny requires more background than just a fact check about the West Bank. The Gatestone Institute has published an important online monthly report about Muslim persecution of Christians throughout Asia and Africa and it makes for frightening reading. Even a brief summary of the litany of horrors being visited upon Christians by Muslims puts the ridiculous accusations against Israel in perspective.

* Attacks on churches took place in Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, Sudan and Tunisia.

* Christians were threatened with death and imprisonment for “blasphemy” and apostasy in Algeria, Bangladesh, Egypt, Iran and Pakistan. At the same time, Muslim terrorists have threatened Christian pastors in the Philippines.

* In a separate category called “dhimmitude,” the report discusses the “general abuse, debasement, and suppression of non-Muslims as tolerated citizens.” Such incidents were recorded in Egypt, India, Iran, Pakistan, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey.

The widespread scope of incidents of persecution throughout the Muslim world ought to alarm Christians in the West. But for some reason, it doesn’t. The Palestinians, whose goal is to eradicate the one Jewish state in the world, seem to generate more sympathy in Europe and America than the embattled Christians of the Third World.

All this took place in April of this year alone.

Those who purport to care about human rights undermine their already shaky credibility when they ignore the far greater instances of abuse of Christians by Arabs and Muslims while supporting the delegitimization of the one democracy in the Middle East as well as the one nation in the region that protects Christians.

Jonathan S. Tobin


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Two Obama Administration Scandals on Syria?

by Barry Rubin

When a delegation of Syrian Kurdish rebels recently visited Washington, D.C., the State Department met them to ask for a favor. What was it? The Obama administration urged them to join the Syrian National Council (SNC), the organization created by the U.S. government through Turkey to lead the opposition movement and receive Western aid for all Syrian opposition groups.

But the Turkish Islamist regime, which Obama put in charge of forming the SNC, put the Muslim Brotherhood in control, a fact I pointed out within hours of the announcement of the SNC leadership’s names.

Now that several SNC leaders have resigned complaining about Brotherhood domination, followed by some Arab journalists pointing out the obvious Brotherhood domination at the SNC’s last meeting, that reality is clear. But the implications of such an incredibly foolish policy—America putting an anti-American, antisemitic group into the “official” leadership of Syria’s rebels — have never been properly examined as a case study for Obama’s disastrous Middle East policy.

The Kurds had walked out of the talks that formed the SNC last year when they saw how Islamists would be in control. Not only do they oppose Islamism itself but they also see the Brotherhood as an Arabizing and centralizing group that would impose a regime oppressing the non-Arab Kurds.

The new U.S. effort so backfired that, with the Obama administration ignoring their concerns, the enraged Kurds in the delegation spoke for the first time of breaking up Syria altogether!

To sum up, Obama policy has strengthened the Islamist forces in the opposition and fragmented the rebels, thus helping preserve a radical anti-American Syrian regime that is an ally of Iran or helping make any revolution more likely to produce a radical anti-American Syrian Islamist regime that will be an ally of an Islamist Egypt.

Now comes a very peculiar story in the Washington Post with the headline, “Syrian rebels get influx of arms with Gulf Neighbors’ Money, U.S. coordination.” Let’s break this down logically:

–The Saudis and Qataris have been providing arms already.

–They know how to buy weapons, how to get them to the Syrian border, and how to give them to Syrian rebels.

What do they need American “coordination” for? What does the word “coordination” mean? I presume it means that the Obama administration, absolutely clueless about what to do regarding Syria, simply wants to take credit for others’ actions. It is part of the pre-election spin about what a great job Obama is doing.

Yet there is another problem here, a potentially devastating one. Who is getting the weapons? There are different people and groups in the Syrian opposition. Some are Salafists who feel comfortable with al-Qaida; some are Brotherhood men; some are ex-Syrian army officers, professionals and relatively apolitical; and some are liberals who really want democracy.

Whoever gets these weapons will be tremendously empowered. So what’s to say that the arms being “coordinated” by the United States aren’t going to revolutionary Islamists? While this is a complex subject, there is information that these arms supplies up until now have not been sufficiently discriminatory toward moderates and away from Islamist radicals. We will know more in the weeks to come if we can see and identify which opposition groups in what parts of Syria have become better armed.

And if it comes out that the U.S. government is “coordinating” the arming of such people with weapons — as it is already helping their political counterparts in the SNC — wouldn’t that be a tremendous scandal?

Let’s be clear here: A proper U.S. policy would help moderate Syrians overthrow the Assad dictatorship and make sure weapons went to the best elements in the Free Syrian Army’s decentralized forces. Such a policy would make sure to deny money, weapons, and power to the Islamists and Salafists, who are proportionately far weaker in Syria than in Egypt.

Obama policy follows the worst possible course. It minimizes U.S. help to the revolution while at the same time ensuring that a disproportionately large amount goes to Islamists.

Barry Rubin


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Israel to Hizbullah: Next Time We Fight to Win

by P. David Hornik

This week AFP published an important report that shouldn’t slip under the radar.

It quotes a “senior military official in Israel’s northern command” saying that, while Hizbullah may not want another war with Israel, Iran would order it to attack Israel in case of an Israeli strike on Iran. In that case, says the official, the Israel-Hizbullah clash would go “much faster” than the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

That conflict, which lasted 34 days, ended with Hizbullah somewhat shaken by the prowess shown by Israel’s air force, mainly in the war’s opening days when it took out Hizbullah’s long-range rocket launchers in Beirut.

But it also ended with Hizbullah still essentially in control of southern Lebanon. Since then—despite halfhearted efforts by a beefed-up UNIFIL—Hizbullah has only tightened its grip not only over the south but over Lebanon as a whole.

And most problematically, it has kept importing Iranian rockets, missiles, and other weaponry via Syria, and now—UNIFIL or no UNIFIL—has over 50,000 rockets and missiles that, as Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah boasts, can hit any part of Israel.

Those considerations—the inconclusive results of the 2006 war and the power Hizbullah has amassed since that time—are undoubtedly what leads the senior military official to tell AFP that another conflict would be “much shorter, much faster…. The most important mission today is to win decisively in any kind of war in Lebanon. If you win, you win—everybody sees it.”

The official then cites what he says will be Israel’s “biggest challenge,” namely:

Hezbollah’s positioning of weapons in the heart of civilian areas in around 100 Lebanese towns and villages along the border.

“In the villages there are three-story houses: on one floor there are rockets, then there is a family on the next floor, then a (military) headquarters then another family. The people that live there are human shields….

“Every Shiite village has become such a compound. The great challenge will be to deal with all these compounds.”

Indeed, last year Israel released declassified maps to the Washington Post showing part of Hizbullah’s network of military facilities in southern Lebanon. It was a way of signaling that Israel knows where these are and is capable of hitting them if necessary.

But apart from the operational aspect, what Hizbullah means to confront Israel with—by ensconcing itself in the homes of families, thereby dissolving any distinction between fighters and civilians, gun-toting warriors and mothers and babies—is a “moral” challenge.

Seemingly, an organization so depraved that it turns ordinary houses into military bases on the one hand, and—should such a war break out—a hail of lethal projectiles on all parts of Israel’s civilian population on the other, would conduce to the conclusion that Israel’s only moral responsibility at that point would be to salvage its own people, not those whom its enemy, Hizbullah, has reduced to fodder in a manner that is in no way Israel’s fault.

But the problem is that Hizbullah knows all too well what it is doing, and that when it comes to the blame game, all the precedent will be on its side.

Thus, in the winter 2008-2009 Gaza War, Hamas—while it did not use the human-shield strategy with the utter, systematic depravity now demonstrated by Hizbullah—greatly bolstered its own fortunes by ensconcing its fighters in mosques, schools, and hospitals.

The inevitable result was civilian casualties—and the Western chorus demanding that Israel end the war became monolithic, culminating in the infamous Goldstone Report (later essentially retracted by its main author).

Bowing to the pressure, Israel—while having dealt a significant blow to Hamas—ended the war without defeating the terror group. By now, of course, Hamas too has rebuilt and rearmed, making an eventual further round of war inevitable. But aside from Goldstone himself, there is no sign that thisoutcome has prompted any reconsideration of knee-jerk condemnation of Israel in such situations and the harm it ultimately causes.

As in the case of AFP’s military official, Israel has been conveying the message (here, for instance) that in the event of a further confrontation with Hizbullah—whether or not in the context of a wider war involving Iran—its goal will be to win as quickly and decisively as possible, not to protect a civilian population—even at the expense of its own population—that has been deliberately endangered by the enemy it is fighting.

If so, the condemnations will come rolling in anyway, particularly from Western countries that cannot even imagine what it means to be under rocket attack by terror organizations on their borders. It’s to be hoped that this time Israel will stay the course. Survival has to come first.

P. David Hornik


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Muslim Persecution of Christians: April 2012

by Raymond Ibrahim

"500 Muslims had gathered and were watching in amusement as the extremists chased and harassed the Christians, attempting to murder them all, for about 90 minutes."

As Easter, one of the highest Christian holidays, comes in April, Christian persecution in Muslim nations—from sheer violence to oppressive laws—was rampant: In Nigeria, where jihadis have expressed their desire to expunge all traces of Christianity, a church was bombed during Easter Sunday, killing some 50 worshippers; in Turkey, a pastor was beaten by Muslims immediately following Easter service and threatened with death unless he converted to Islam; and in Iran, Easter Sunday saw 12 Christians stand trial as "apostates."

The persecution of Christians has come to regions not normally associated with it. As in Nigeria, Muslim militants are now also running amok in Timbuktu, Mali—beheading a Christian leader and threatening other Christians with similar treatment. Sharia law has been imposed, churches are being destroyed, and Christians are fleeing Timbuktu in mass.

Categorized by theme, April's assemblage of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes (but is not limited to) the following accounts, listed in alphabetical order by country, not severity:

Church Attacks

Azerbaijan: A church in the Muslim-majority nation has "become the first religious community to be liquidated by a court since the country's harsh new 'Religion Law,' requiring all previously registered religious institutions to re-register, came into force in 2009. Greater Grace Protestant Church in the capital, Baku, "was stripped of its registration at a 15-minute hearing on 25 April. The decision, which was made in the absence of any church representatives, makes any activity by the church illegal and subject to punishment."

Indonesia: Gunmen opened fire on the GKI Yasmin church, causing much damage, in the latest attack on the building, which has been illegally sealed off by authorities since 2008 in response to Muslim demands. Another Protestant church unlawfully sealed off by the authorities—despite meeting all requirements for a permit—was met with violent opposition from Muslims when its members tried to hold a service on the street in front of their sealed-off church building. Muslim residents made death threats, played loud music, and rode a motorcycle through the congregation. A church spokesman said: "We are constantly having to change our location because our existence appears to be unwanted, and we have to hide so that we are not intimidated by intolerant groups… We had hoped for help from the police, but after many attacks on members of the congregation, we see that the police are also involved in this."

Kenya: Two separate grenade attacks on churches took place: 1) Muslims threw grenades into an open-air Christian church gathering, killing a woman and a boy, and wounding some 50 other Christians: Muslims had been holding a meeting near the gathering, and Christians could hear their preachers railing against Christianity right before the attack took place. 2) In a separate incident, a Muslim man pretending to be a worshipper at a church threw three grenades during service, killing a 27-year-old university student and injuring16. The terrorist, who, according to eyewitnesses, appeared to be of Somali origin, "looked uncomfortable and always looked down. He threw three hand grenades and only one exploded. He took off, and he fired in the air three gunshots."

Nigeria: An early morning attack on a Christian church service left at least 16 people dead: Jihadi gunmen on motorcycles stormed Bayero University in the city of Kano Sunday morning during a Catholic mass held in the school's theater hall, hurling improvised explosive devices, and opening fire as people fled. "The attack follows a string of violent incidents against Christians in the predominantly Muslim north."

Sudan: A Christian compound in Khartoum was stormed by a throng of Muslims "armed with clubs, iron rods, a bulldozer and fire," the day after a Muslim leader called on Muslims to destroy "the infidels' church." Shouting "Allahu Akbar!" ["Allah is Greater!"], and "No more Christianity from today on—no more church from today on!" the jihadis stormed the Bible school bookstore, burning Bibles and threatening to kill anyone who tried to resist. "What happened could not be imagined—it was terrible," said an eyewitness. "They burned all furniture of the school and the church as well." As usual, "Police at the compound stood back and did nothing to prevent the mob from vandalizing the compound."

Tunisia: Members of the Christian Orthodox Church in Tunis, one of very few churches in the nation, are being "abused" and receiving "threatening messages." Church members are "living in a state of terror," so much so that the Russian ambassador in Tunis specifically requested the nation's Ministry of Interior to "protect the church." The abuse has gotten to the point where "Salafis covered the cross of the church with garbage bags, and told the church members that they do not wish to see the vision of the Cross anywhere in the Islamic state of Tunisia." Separately, a Muslim burst into a church to deliver a letter from an Islamist party inviting the archpriest to convert to Islam or to take down the church's crosses and pay jizya, the Islamic subjugation tax.

Apostasy and Blasphemy: Death and Prison

Algeria: A Christian was sentenced to five years in prison for "shaking the faith" of Muslims. He had discussed his faith with a Muslim man at a food court when the Muslim became angry and accused the Christian of "insulting Muhammad." Police arrested the man and found a large amount of Christian material in his apartment. The judge gave him the maximum sentence of five years in prison, even though the prosecutor himself had recommended a lesser sentence.

Bangladesh: A former Muslim prayer leader who converted to Christianity was "welcomed by threats and violence." Members of his Muslim community "beat him almost to death," causing him to be hospitalized for almost two months: "the same Muslims who followed him and held him in high esteem when he was their imam now cannot accept his new status."

Egypt: Two incidents of "blasphemy" convictions took place: 1) A juvenile court sentenced a Coptic Christian teenager to three years in prison for allegedly "insulting Islam," on claims that he posted unflattering cartoons of Muhammad on Facebook. When the incident came to light, Muslims rioted, fire-bombing his home and at least five other Christian-owned homes. 2) Another judge upheld a six-year prison sentence for a Christian convicted of "blasphemy": after a Muslim had told the 49-year old Christian convict that Jesus had illegal sex with at least ten women, the Christian countered "by stating that Muhammad, the founder of the Islamic religion, had more than four wives—a view commonly held by Islamic scholars." Police subsequently arrested him and, in a 10-minute mock trial with no defense attorney present, the judge sentenced him to six years in prison for "insulting the prophet."

Iran: A Christian convert from Islam has been sentenced to six years in prison. Originally arrested in December 2010 as part of a major crackdown on the country's house church movement, "the married father of two has been held in the notorious Evin prison ever since, spending several months in solitary confinement," and likely goaded to return to Islam. He is accused of "action against the regime's security, being in contact with foreign organizations and religious propaganda." In short, according to Iranian Christians, "his 'crime' was practicing his Christian faith."

Pakistan: Two incidents of "blasphemy" charges occurred: 1) A Christian man was arrested and charged with "blasphemy" for rescuing his 8-year-old nephew from a beating at the hands of Muslim boys who sought to force the boy to convert to Islam. "Seeing the attack from a distance, Masih [the man] shouted and rushed to the scene, rescued his nephew and then went to his work as a painter. Soon after the incident, a Muslim mob of about 55 led by the village prayer leader besieged Masih's house," and insisted that "the blasphemer" be turned over to them. After being threatened and harassed by Muslim inmates and jail officials, he was eventually released from prison. 2) The mother of a newborn baby has been illegally jailed for over a month: authorities have failed to file a charge sheet within the mandatory 14-day period against the 26-year-old Christian woman accused of "blaspheming" the prophet of Islam. The woman was arrested after neighbors accused her of "uttering remarks against Muhammad."

Philippines: Two pastors were slaughtered by Muslim assailants: 1) A former Muslim who became a Christian pastor was murdered in front of his wife in his home: "My husband staggered into our bedroom and I was shocked because he was full of blood," she recalled. "I brought him to the hospital right away. He was operated on for eight bullet wounds, but did not survive." The Philippines is a mostly Christian nation, but in the south, "Muslim fundamentalists are trying to build an Islamic state. Christians there face persecution and even death…. This year, at least four house churches closed down after their pastors and lay leaders were killed by Muslim extremists." 2) Another pastor was shot in the head five times, killed by two unknown gunmen in front of his teenage daughter.


[General Abuse, Debasement, and Suppression of non-Muslims as "Tolerated" Citizens]

Egypt: A recent "reconciliation meeting" between members of a sword-wielding Muslim mob that earlier brutalized a Christian school proved to be "nothing less than an attempt at legalized extortion." In exchange for peace, members of the mob that stormed the school last month without provocation—holding two nuns hostage for several hours—demanded in the meetings that the school sign over land that included the guesthouse they attacked. "Human rights groups and Coptic rights activists say the meetings are just a way to pressure powerless groups and people into giving away what little rights they have." Likewise, the judges appointed to investigate the Maspero massacre, which claimed the lives of 27 Christians and injured 329, closed the case, due to "lack of identification of the culprits." As one Christian lawyer put it: "We said all along that it [the investigation] was just a show and this is the outcome we got."

India: Muslims stormed and terrorized a home in which a Christian prayer meeting was being held, and beat the Christians, including a 65-year-old widow. The Muslims "called them pagans as they kicked, slapped and pushed the Christians…. The Christians were running in all directions for their lives, including the children who were crying in fear" as one Muslim, "brandishing a sickle, chased many of them, hurling all kinds of insults and attempting to mi=ureder them all…. 500 Muslims had gathered and were watching in amusement as the extremists chased and harassed the Christians for about 90 minutes."

Iran: Historical Christian monuments, including churches and Christian cemeteries, continue to be destroyed or allowed to fall into a state of decay as the Islamist authorities try to wipe out the country's Christian heritage: "It seems that Islamic Republic officials, unsuccessful in stopping the growth of Christianity among the people by pressuring them, arresting them and banning Christian converts from attending church services, want to destroy historical Christian monuments to totally wipe the Christian heritage from the face of Iran."

Pakistan: Yet another study demonstrates that Pakistani school textbooks "promote religious fanaticism, discriminate against minorities and trigger religious conflicts." Christians and Hindus "are obliged to learn the basics of Islam"—studying the Koran is mandatory—while their own religions are openly denigrated. Even in subjects such as social science and linguistics, "about 20% of the content is linked to Islam"; and non-Muslim students receive "bonus points" if they excel in Islamic studies.

Syria: Almost the entire Christian population—nearly 60,000—of the city of Homs, the nation's third largest, have fled as fighting between the government and anti-government, largely Islamist forces continues. Reportedly only 1,000 Christians remain. Opposition forces are attacking churches and other Christian centers; "Muslim neighbors are turning on the Christians. Christians have also suffered kidnapping and gruesome murders. Some Christian families, unable to pay a ransom for their relatives' release and fearing that they may be tortured, have been driven to ask the kidnappers to kill their loved ones at once."

Tunisia: After the Russian ambassador stood up for an Orthodox church under attack (see above, under "church attacks"), the Russian school located behind the church as well as the Christian cemetery in Tunis were vandalized. The walls of the school and religious frescoes were smeared with fecal matter, while the cemetery's crosses were destroyed. Meanwhile, the new "Arab-spring" government has shown its "manifest indifference with regard to minorities' right to protection."

Turkey: The nation's Greek Orthodox citizens living on the island of Gökçeada (Imbros) in the north Aegean cannot buy property on the island, though it is an easy matter for Muslims: "The Land Registry office has admitted to preventing non-Muslims from buying property, citing a National Security Council (MGK) decision, but refused to give further details."

About this Series

Because the persecution of Christians in the Islamic world is on its way to reaching epidemic proportions, "Muslim Persecution of Christians" was developed to collate some—by no means all—of the instances of persecution that surface each month. It serves two purposes:

  1. To document that which the mainstream media does not: the habitual, if not chronic, Muslim persecution of Christians.
  2. To show that such persecution is not "random," but systematic and interrelated—that it is rooted in a worldview inspired by Sharia.

Accordingly, whatever the anecdote of persecution, it typically fits under a specific theme, including hatred for churches and other Christian symbols; sexual abuse of Christian women; forced conversions to Islam; apostasy and blasphemy laws that criminalize and punish with death to those who "offend" Islam; theft and plunder in lieu of jizya (financial tribute expected from non-Muslims); overall expectations for Christians to behave like cowed dhimmis, or second-class, "tolerated" citizens; and simple violence and murder. Sometimes it is a combination.

Because these accounts of persecution span different ethnicities, languages, and locales—from Morocco in the West, to India in the East, and throughout the West wherever there are Muslims—it should be clear that one thing alone binds them: Islam—whether the strict application of Islamic Sharia law, or the supremacist culture born of it.

Previous Reports:

March, 2012

February, 2012

January, 2012

December, 2011

November, 2011

October, 2011

September, 2011

August, 2011

July, 2011

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.

How Much Is Mahmoud Abbas Worth? Try $100 Million

by Khaled Abu Toameh

Palestinian leaders in Ramallah, including President Mahmoud Abbas, are deeply concerned that Rashid's revelations could expose their role in the embezzlement of public funds. They are also concerned that Rashid's revelations could prompt some Americans and Europeans to reconsider their decision to pour millions of dollars into the Palestinian Authority's coffers. What is needed is an independent Commission of Inquiry to restore pubic funds belonging to the Palestinian people. The Palestinians have many Mohammed Rashids...

The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank has just discovered what every Palestinian child knows -- that hundreds of millions of dollars had been embezzled during the era of Yasser Arafat.

The "discovery", however, was not the result of a thorough and long investigation ordered by Palestinian leaders in Ramallah with the hope of restoring public funds.

Instead, it came after one of Arafat's most trusted aides, Mohammed Rashid, threatened to expose corruption scandals in the Palestinian Authority.

For many years, Rashid served as Arafat's financial advisor and was given a free hand to handle hundreds of millions of dollars that were poured on the Palestinian Authority and the PLO by US, EU and Arab donors.

A former journalist who used to earn less than $1,000 a month by working for a PLO newspaper, Rashid is now considered one of the wealthiest Palestinians anywhere. Palestinian Authority officials have estimated his fortune at more than half a billion dollars.

Rashid left the Palestinian territories almost immediately after his boss, Arafat, died in late 2004. Since then, the Palestinian Authority has almost nothing to bring him to trial or return at least some of the missing funds.

This week, however, the Palestinian Authority finally woke up and remembered that Rashid was suspected of embezzling hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Palestinian Authority's Anti-Corruption Commission in Ramallah announced that it has issued an arrest warrant against the former Arafat advisor and asked Interpol for help in bringing him to trial.

The announcement came a day after Rashid appeared on a Saudi-owned TV station and threatened to expose corruption scandals in the Palestinian Authority leadership.

Palestinian leaders in Ramallah, including President Mahmoud Abbas, are deeply concerned that Rashid's revelations could seriously embarrass them and expose their role in the embezzlement of public funds.

They are also worried that Rashid's revelations could prompt some Americans and Europeans to reconsider their decision to pour millions of dollars into the Palestinian Authority's coffers.

Rashid, after all, was not a junior official in the Palestinian Authority. He was an insider, someone who was very close to Arafat and probably the only official who knows where hundreds of millions of dollars ended up.

The Palestinian Authority's decision to issue an arrest warrant against him does not seem to worry Rashid, who this week demanded a probe into Abbas's personal fortune, which he estimated at more than $100 million.

So Abbas is saying that Rashid stole hundreds of millions of dollars, while Rashid is accusing the president of embezzling "only" $100 million. This is happening at a time when international donors are continuing to channel more funds every month to the Palestinian Authority, often without holding its leaders accountable or demanding to know how the money is being spent.

What is needed is an independent commission of inquiry to restore the public funds belonging to the Palestinian people. The Palestinians have many Mohammed Rashids who turned into wealthy businessmen during the peace process with Israel -- thanks to the naivety of Americans and Europeans.

Khaled Abu Toameh


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Tehran: West Caving on Iranian Nuclear Program

by Joel Himelfarb

Iranian and United Nations officials claimed to have made progress in negotiations over Tehran's nuclear program on Tuesday. But initial reports have provided little substantive information beyond an announcement that representatives of the Iranian regime and the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will meet again next week in Vienna, Austria.

Iranian officials waxed optimistic, claiming the West is coming to terms with the inevitability of Iran's nuclear program. In a New York Times interview, Hamidreza Taraghi, an adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, bragged that Tehran had managed to skew the current nuclear negotiations in its favor by making uranium enrichment (a potential path to nuclear weapons) a reality that the West cannot stop.

Taraghi told the Times that Iran had convinced the West of the importance of a fatwa against the possession of nuclear weapons that Khamenei issued. Iranian officials emphasized that edict during last month's negotiations in Istanbul.

American officials countered that they brought up Khamenei's fatwa in an effort to provide the Iranians a "face-saving" way to reach a compromise. But Iranian negotiators left Istanbul believing they had prevailed. "We have managed to get our rights," Taraghi said. "All that remains is a debate over the percentage of enrichment."

That may be posturing. But a new analysis by Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies suggests the Islamist regime has good reason to believe it has the upper hand in the nuclear standoff.

The IAEA's own reports show "that Iran has moved far beyond the point where it lacked the technology base to produce nuclear weapons," Cordesman writes. "Iran has pursued every major area of nuclear weapons development, (and) has carried out programs that have already given it every component of a weapon except fissile material." Moreover, "there is strong evidence that it has carried out programs to integrate a nuclear warhead on [to] its missiles."

Cordesman finds that Iran's nuclear efforts are diversified and can be concealed from international inspectors. Even if it were to suspend uranium enrichment, Tehran could "pursue nuclear weapons development through a range of compartmented and easily concealable programs without a formal weapons program."

Even if Tehran agreed to controls on its current enrichment facilities or saw them destroyed in a military strike, it would not necessarily put an end to the regime's nuclear capability. It "would take an amazing amount of intelligence access to prevent" Iran from creating replacement enrichment facilities if its existing programs were destroyed in bombing raids, Cordesman writes.

In short, "Iran could appear to agree to arms control or appear to have had its programs destroyed and still go on creating better future enrichment capability."

Read the full article here.

Joel Himelfarb


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"Nakba Day" Fizzles

by IPT News

Upheavals in the Middle East have led to a de-emphasis on Palestinians and their cause against Israel. One symptom of this in recent days was a considerable decrease in participation in the so-called "Nakba" (Catastrophe) Day both in the Middle East and in the West.

Every May 15 (the anniversary of the day after Israel declared independence in 1948) Palestinian ideologues devote the day to mourning the "catastrophe" of the Israel's establishment and blaming it for the plight of millions of Palestinian "refugees."

A Nakba demonstration in midtown Manhattan Tuesday drew less than 35 people. Unfortunately for demonstration organizers, witnesses are more likely to remember an "only in New York moment," when Times Square's "Naked Cowboy" made his way through the small gaggle of demonstrators.

A pro-Palestinian advocacy group calling itself Existence is Resistance organized the rally. The group lobbies on behalf of Palestinian hunger strikers it claims are being illegally imprisoned by Israel. One of them is Abdullah Barghouti, a Hamas bomb maker who pleaded guilty to masterminding suicide bombings which killed 66 people and injured more than 500.

While there were instances of Molotov cocktail- and stone-throwing in Israel and the West Bank, this year's Nakba Day was subdued compared to last year, when tens of thousands of Palestinians and their supporters gathered on Israel's borders, and some attempted to cross into the country to assert their purported Right of Return.

Tuesday's demonstrations were limited: mobs didn't breach Israel's borders, and there were no reports of fatalities.

Last year's confrontation was stoked by Syrian operatives in Damascus and Lebanon, who reportedly bused Palestinian refugees to the Israel-Lebanon border. Lebanese troops and United Nations "peacekeepers" stood by as scores of Palestinians attempted to rush across the border into Israel.

Up to 35 infiltrators "managed to open the gates of the Golan," one triumphant rioter shouted after running through a minefield and crossing into Israeli territory. "They did what all of the Arab armies could not. We can liberate the Golan. We can liberate al-Aqsa. We can liberate Jerusalem. We can liberate Palestine and all of the occupied lands."

"God is great," the crowd responded triumphantly.

Violence also spread to parts of Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. Rioters at Kalandia refugee camp (located near the West Bank city of Ramallah) used ambulances for cover while throwing rocks at Israeli troops. At least 13 people were killed and hundreds more injured in last year's Nakba riots.

Several factors helped limit the spread of violence this year. Syrian President Bashar Assad – whose regime played a critical role in fomenting last year's violence – is preoccupied with brutalizing its own people in an effort to stay in power. And Israeli security forces, caught off-guard last year, were much better prepared this time.

At this year's demonstrations, the Palestinian Authority embraced the Right of Return – which most Israelis regard as a formula for the destruction of the Jewish state. At a rally in Ramallah, PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad declared: "The right of return is sacred and cannot be compromised."

But the Palestinians' options for continuing their struggle against Israel have been limited by their own internal divisions and failed leadership.

"The back of Palestinian society has been broken by Hamas-Fatah separation," said Palestinian human- rights advocate Bassam Eid. In the West Bank (a region he referred to as "Fatahstan"), the infighting within Fatah is so deep that there was no hope of any coordinated uprising. "There cannot be an intifada (uprising against Israel) so long as we have an intrafada (Palestinian-on-Palestinian violence)," he said.

Writing in Commentary, Jonathan Tobin says the Palestinian focus on the events of 1948 doesn't bode well for the idea of territorial compromise. "For those who claim the Middle East conflict is about borders or Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the prominence given Nakba commemorations ought to be an embarrassment as it highlights something Israel's critics are often at pains to obfuscate. The goal of the Palestinians isn't an independent state alongside Israel. Their goal is to eradicate Israel and replace it with yet another Arab majority country."

Nakba Day should also serve as a reminder that during the past 64 years, the Palestinians have been prevented from assimilating into the Arab populations surrounding Israel. Instead, "they have been kept in poverty by a United Nations agency (UNRWA) supposedly dedicated to their welfare but which is, in fact merely interested in perpetuating their refugee status so they can remain props in the Arab War on Israel, " Tobin adds.

Commemorating Nakba Day is a part of that long term strategy. This year, at least, it didn't seem to work.

IPT News


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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Was Ambassador’s Iran Threat Credible?

by Jonathan S. Tobin

America’s ambassador to Israel sounded a reassuring note today to Israelis and others wondering whether the direction of the West’s negotiations with Iran was leading inevitably to appeasement of Tehran. Ambassador Dan Shapiro seemed to be echoing the tough talk uttered by President Obama when he spoke to the AIPAC conference in March when, according to the AP, he made the following comments:

Shapiro told the Israel Bar Association the U.S. hopes it will not have to resort to military force.

“But that doesn’t mean that option is not fully available. Not just available, but it’s ready,” he said. “The necessary planning has been done to ensure that it’s ready” …

“We do believe there is time. Some time, not an unlimited amount of time,” Shapiro said. “But at a certain point, we may have to make a judgment that the diplomacy will not work.”

Though it would certainly be to the advantage of the West were Iran to believe it is in genuine peril of an attack if they refuse to abandon their nuclear ambitions, given the fact that it is EU Foreign Policy chief Catherine Ashton who is running the P5+1 talks, and not someone like Shapiro, Iran’s obvious confidence that it will prevail in the negotiations is hardly unfounded.

No one, not even the most sanguine leaders of the Iranian regime, doubt there are contingency plans in place for an American attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Unlike the difficulties that the Israeli Air Force would face in mounting such an operation, American forces in the Persian Gulf regime are more than adequate to accomplish the task. But to say there are plans is one thing. To believe President Obama would order the use of force if Iran refuses to give ground in the talks is quite another.

Indeed, far from the Iranians doing the retreating, it has been the West that has, as the Iranians haven’t failed to note. Every red line set by the West on Iran’s nuclear program has been transgressed. From the putting of reactors on line to the construction of heavy water facilities and now to the refining uranium at a rate that is needed to produce a nuclear weapon, the Iranians acted and then waited for the West to eventually concede the point. That is why they are heading to Baghdad for the next round of talks so confident that the West will allow them to keep their nuclear toys that they are actually demanding the crippling international sanctions that were belatedly imposed on the regime be lifted.

We hope the Iranians are mistaken about President Obama’s resolve but nothing he has done — as opposed to the many things he has said about the topic — has led them to believe they can’t get away with building up their capability to the point where converting it to military uses will be quite simple. And because, as the International Atomic Energy Agency has noted, devices for testing military uses of nuclear power are already in place in Iran, they have every expectation that sooner or later they will be able to confront the world with a nuclear fact.

Like much of what the administration has said and done in recent months, Ambassador Shapiro’s comments seem to be geared more toward convincing Israel to refrain from its own strike on Iran — for which the IAF has proclaimed its readiness — than a genuine demonstration of an American will to act to forestall the threat.

But rather than judge the administration on its words, it is far wiser to judge them on what happens in the coming negotiations. If, as the Iranians expect, the EU, Russia and China, with President Obama, as always, leading from behind, make “progress” in the coming weeks toward a deal that will leave Iran’s nuclear infrastructure in place, we will know the ambassador’s statement was merely an empty threat.

Jonathan S. Tobin


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Uncovering Early Islam

by Daniel Pipes

The year 1880 saw the publication of a book that ranks as the single most important study of Islam ever. Written in German by a young Jewish Hungarian scholar, Ignaz Goldziher, and bearing the nondescript title Muslim Studies (Muhammedanische Studien), it argued that the hadith, the vast body of sayings and actions attributed to the Islamic prophet Muhammad, lacked historical validity. Rather than provide reliable details about Muhammad's life, Goldziher established, the hadith emerged from debates two or three centuries later about the nature of Islam.

(That is like today's Americans debating the Constitution's much-disputed Second Amendment, concerning the right to bear arms, by claiming newly discovered oral transmissions going back to George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Obviously, their quotations would inform us not what was said 225 years ago but about current views.)

Portrait of Ignaz Goldziher.

Since Goldziher's day, scholars have been actively pursuing his approach, deepening and developing it into an full-scale account of early Islamic history, one which disputes nearly every detail of Muhammad's life as conventionally understood - born in 570 A.D., first revelation in 610, flight to Medina in 622, death in 632. But this revisionist history has remained a virtual secret among specialists. For example, Patricia Crone and Michael Cook, authors of the synoptic Hagarism (Cambridge University Press, 1977), deliberately wrote obliquely, thereby hiding their message.

Cover of Hagarism.

Now, however, two scholars have separately ended this secrecy: Tom Holland with In the Shadow of the Sword (Doubleday) and Robert Spencer with Did Muhammad Exist? (ISI). As their titles suggest, Spencer is the bolder author and so my focus here.

In a well-written, sober, and clear account, he begins by demonstrating the inconsistencies and mysteries in the conventional account concerning Muhammad's life, the Koran, and early Islam. For example, whereas the Koran insists that Muhammad did not perform miracles, the hadith ascribe him thaumaturgic powers - multiplying food, healing the injured, drawing water from the ground and sky, and even sending lightening from his pickax. Which is it? Hadith claim Mecca was a great trading city but, strangely, the historical record reveals it as no such thing.

The Christian quality of early Islam is no less strange, specifically "traces of a Christian text underlying the Qur'an." Properly understood, these traces elucidate otherwise incomprehensible passages. Conventionally read, verse 19:24 has Mary nonsensically hearing, as she gives birth to Jesus, "Do not be sad, your Lord has placed a rivulet beneath you." Revisionists transform this into the sensible (and piously Christian), "Do not be sad, your Lord has made your delivery legitimate." Puzzling verses about the "Night of Power" commemorating Muhammad's first revelation make sense when understood as describing Christmas. Chapter 96 of the Koran, astonishingly, invites readers to a Eucharist.

Cover of Did Muhammad Exist.

Building on this Christian base, revisionists postulate a radically new account of early Islam. Noting that coins and inscriptions from the seventh century mention neither Muhammad, the Koran, nor Islam, they conclude that the new religion did not appear until about 70 years after Muhammad's supposed death. Spencer finds that "the first decades of the Arab conquest show the conquerors holding not to Islam as we know it but to a vague creed [Hagarism, focused on Abraham and Ishmael] with ties to some form of Christianity and Judaism." In very brief: "the Muhammad of Islamic tradition did not exist, or if he did, he was substantially different from how that tradition portrays him" – namely an Anti-Trinitarian Christian rebel leader in Arabia.

Only about 700 A.D., when the rulers of a now-vast Arabian empire felt the need for a unifying political theology, did they cobble together the Islamic religion. The key figure in this enterprise appears to have been the brutal governor of Iraq, Hajjaj ibn Yusuf. No wonder, writes Spencer, that Islam is "such a profoundly political religion" with uniquely prominent martial and imperial qualities. No wonder it conflicts with modern mores.

The revisionist account is no idle academic exercise but, as when Judaism and Christianity encountered the Higher Criticism 150 years ago, a deep, unsettling challenge to faith. It will likely leave Islam a less literal and doctrinaire religion with particularly beneficial implications in the case of Islam, still mired in doctrines of supremacism and misogyny. Applause, then for plans to translate Did Muhammad Exist? into major Muslim languages and to make it available gratis on the Internet. May the revolution begin.

Daniel Pipes ( is president of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. © 2012 All rights reserved by Daniel Pipes.


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Article in London-Based Saudi Daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat: Confront Iran on Its Home Turf


In a May 7, 2012 article in the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat [The Middle East], Yemeni publicist and poet Mohammed Jumeh called on the Arabs formulate a strategy for a political, cultural and financial confrontation with Iran, in coordination with Turkey. This would be accomplished by intervening in Iran's internal affairs and supporting the non-Persian minorities there in their struggle to restore their rights. According to Jumeh, Iran conducts wars on other countries' soil in order to distance danger from itself and prevent an internal conflagration within its own borders; he therefore recommends to give it a taste of its own medicine.

Following are excerpts from the article:[1]

Iran's Method Is "to Intervene in Struggles within Rival Countries, and Thus Distance the Flames [from Itself]"

"Iran employs a clear strategy of exporting not just its Khomeinist revolution, but also its internal problems. Its method is to intervene in struggles within rival countries and thus distance the flames from its own [internal] conflicts, so that the embers do not grow and erupt... Iran understands that its internal situation is not good, and that the smallest spark could cause these internal conflicts to burst into flame. Therefore, it desperately [attempts] to establish battle fronts beyond its borders, in order to distract its enemies and decrease the pressure exerted upon it. It does not care about the death-toll caused by its external campaigns, or about the fissures that its policy creates between peoples and among peoples in the region. Nor does it care about the flames that still burn in Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain and Syria...

"Iran's wars beyond its borders have an additional benefit, which is to make it appear like a united country whose social fabric cannot be broken. Therefore, Iran does not want its rivals to imitate its game, since they, too, can achieve the results it obtains by conducting wars beyond its borders.

"That is why the Arabs must now play this same game against Iran. In Iran there are Sunnis and Shi'ites, and we must involve ourselves in the matter the severe discrimination... that afflicts most of the Iranian Sunnis, who don't have a single mosque in the capital... [Then there are] the people of Iran's Ahvaz [region], who are fellow Arabs and fellow Muslims, and their land is Arab land. They have their [own] history and political entities, which Iran can never erase. We must support the Ahvazi Arab people in order to restore its cultural and economic rights, and in order to lift some of the pressure from the Arabs in Syria, Yemen, and the Gulf. Merely hinting that we support the legitimate demands of the Ahvazi Arab people will cause Iranian policymakers to understand that they live in a glass house. Iran also has Kurds that suffer racial discrimination and conduct armed resistance to restore their rights, which they have found in Iraq but not in Iran. It also has Sunni Baluchi and Azerbaijanis, who are persecuted, and with whom Arabs must make contact so that Iran realizes that it is not the only one who can have a finger in every pie."

"In Their Relations with Iran, the Arabs Should Assume... a Policy of 'What Goes Around Comes Around'"

"In their relations with Iran, the Arabs should assume a position of equal power, based on a policy of 'what goes around comes around.' The Arabs will have more power and resources if they adopt a unified policy regarding Iran's greedy [coveting] of the resources of the peoples in the region. We lack nothing but a clear strategy of confrontation – and I do not mean a military confrontation, but rather a diplomatic, cultural and economic confrontation with Iran, including a confrontation [conducted] from inside its own territory.

"When you look at Iran from a distance, its [social] fabric seems very homogenous. But a closer look reveals the [internal] conflicts within this mosaic, and the Arabs must understand Iran's weakness at this time.

"Here we must also address the role of the Arab media directed at the Iranian peoples. If Iran funds close to 40 Arabic-language satellite channels that spread resentment, religious hatred, and sectarian strife [in the Arab world], and are rife with anti-Arab Shu'ubiyya,[2] then at the very least we must set up several Farsi-language satellite channels, to make Iran understand that its own social fragility is greater than it realizes, and also greater than the Arabs realize.

"Iran's current methods are reminiscent of the old European colonialists, who meddled in our countries under the pretext of protecting Christian Arab minorities, until they completely took over most Arab lands. Iran is doing the same thing today when it meddles in Arab affairs under the pretext of protecting Shi'ite Arab minorities... Just as the Christian minorities were not the real reason that prompted the European colonialists to enter our countries, the Shi'ite Arab minorities are not the real reason for Iran's mad dash to meddle in our affairs. The [Iranian] goal is clear: to take over resources in the region, break the will of its peoples, and enforce a regional [Iranian] hegemony. If defense of Shi'ite Arabs was Iran's [real] motive, then it would have granted [the non-Persian] Shi'ites in Iran their full rights, instead of forcing them to speak Farsi and forbidding them to preserve their cultural heritage."

The Arabs Should Coordinate with the Turks in Dealing with Iran

"Arabs today have no choice but to put aside [their] disagreements and unite around an Arab plan – a plan whose outlines began to emerge as the peoples of the region [began to express] their passion for freedom and justice [in the Arab Spring]. Let us note that, in this matter, the Arabs can play the regional-balance card in coordination with the Turks, in order to curb Iran's rash [policies]. Turkey is growing close to the Arabs in order to anger Europe, so why shouldn't we grow close to them in order to anger Iran? Not to mention that the Turks are apparently engaged in a secular cultural enterprise, and their conduct is more mature and relevant to the pace of modern times than [that of] the Mullah regime, which continues to believe that the hidden Mahdi controls the foundations of [human] existence as he pleases..."

[1] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), May 7, 2012.

[2] The Shu'ubiyya was a spiritual movement in the early Abbasid period, which operated among peoples conquered by the Arabs. The movement rebelled against Arab supremacy and championed equality among all Muslims.



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Turkey’s Middle East Policy of Seeking To Gobble, Gobble Up the Middle East Makes Enemies of Everyone

by Barry Rubin

“Countries may vary, but civilization is one, and for a nation to progress, it must take part in this one civilization. The decline of the Ottomans began when, proud of their triumphs over the West, they cut their ties with the European nations. This was a mistake which we will not repeat.” — Kemal Ataturk, 1924

Spinning in his grave, indeed, for now his successors not only think they can revive a Turkish-ruled imperium, but have made the very mistake of turning their backs on the West, which the republic’s founder rightly saw as the downfall of that earlier incarnation of his country. I’d change Ataturk’s wording slightly: the Ottomans turned their backs on the modern world then being developed in the West while still forming alliances with European powers.

Once upon a time there was a country named Turkey whose republic was created by Kemal Ataturk, who famously said: “Peace at home; peace abroad.”

He and the Turkish people had seen their Ottoman Empire collapse after failing to modernize, engaging in chauvinistic nationalism (under the Young Turks), and entering an unnecessary war that led to 20 percent of its population dead and the country prostrate.

And so Ataturk and his colleagues saved the country based on two basic principles: at home, joining Western civilization through modernization and secularization; abroad, avoiding foreign ambitions and conflicts. Whatever their faults, they did a remarkable job. Turkey made steady progress far in excess of what happened in Iran or the Arabic-speaking world.

But then came the regime of the Justice and Development Party. Pretending to be moderate and democratic, it was actually a radical Islamist party seeking to — if I may coin a phrase — fundamentally transform Turkey. This regime was not moderate but merely patient in achieving its radical goals.

It insisted that under its rule Turkey would be everyone’s friend and no one’s enemy. And President Barack Obama thought this would be a great model for the Middle East. In fact, though, the regime didn’t see everyone as an equal friend. It preferred the company of Iran, Syria, Hamas, and Hizballah.

Soon, as events developed in the region, the veneer of modesty boiled away and the aggressive ambition was revealed. And that ambition was expressed most clearly by the devious Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu to parliament in late April:

We will manage the wave of change in the Middle East. Just as the ideal we have in our minds about Turkey, we have an ideal of a new Middle East. We will be the leader and the spokesperson of a new peaceful order, no matter what they say.

Wow. Off with the “everyone’s buddy” image and out comes the raving would-be dictator over the Middle East. But the problem is that there are these people called “Arabs” who don’t want to be bossed around by a Turk, even if they both are Sunni Muslims. In addition, those Arabs have their own ambitions. So when they hear stuff like this they become even more angry and suspicious.

“No matter what they say,” intones Davutoğlu, a man who has gone even further in addressing his party’s convention in a closed meeting, where he said that somebody ought to run the Middle East so why not him and his colleagues. Since his speech was reported in a U.S. embassy message, it was available to the White House. Yet it has been Obama’s naiveté about Turkey that has even further puffed up the arrogance of such people.

Sounding like another man who wanted to become the dictator of the Middle East — Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, who once said that those who didn’t like him running things could “go drink the Nile” — Davutoğlu says:

I’d like to advise those who are criticizing us: Go to Cairo. Go to Tripoli. Go to the streets of Beirut, Tunisia, Jerusalem, and ask about Turkey’s policy on Syria. They will hug you and express their appreciation for Turkey’s honorable policy.

Yes, this regime has supported the overthrow of its former close ally in Syria in order to install an Islamist regime friendly to Ankara. It has even obtained full support from Obama for creating an anti-American government in Damascus.

After the foreign minister spoke, an opposition leader, Osman Korutürk, explained that he was just back from Cairo for a regional conference of parliamentarians and did not find such a love and worship of Turkey there. On the contrary, they were not thrilled with the idea of Turkey dominating Syria, or anything else in the area for that matter.

The increasingly power-drunk behavior of Turkish leaders may go unnoticed by a worshipful Obama, who touts the “Turkish model,” but the Arabs have been alienated by such attitudes. Having also threatened Israel, Greece, and Cyprus, while partly antagonizing Iran — though the Ankara regime continues to break trade sanctions with Tehran, sabotage totally accepted by the pliant Obama administration — the Turkish leaders have destroyed their own foreign policy. While this regime began with a realistic chance of being everyone’s friend, it has now made itself everyone’s enemy.

Regarding domestic governance, the power-drunk arrogance is also increasingly contradicting democratic practice. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan once said that democracy was like a trolley. You ride it until you get to your destination and then get off. Presumably that’s at the point where you have consolidated power to the point you can do whatever you want and have turned Turkey into an Islamist state.

Speaking in Adana and threatening retaliation to Kurdish PKK terrorist attacks, he abandoned the pose of moderation and pluralism to threaten:

We have four fundamental principles. And these principles are:

1. One people
2. One flag
3. One religion
4. One government.

While there are echoes here of traditional Turkish centralization under the old republic established by Ataturk, the third principle shows not only the abandonment of Turkish secularism but its replacement by Islamic rule. Where Erdogan is willing to compromise is that he left off the demand for one language, accepting some use of the Kurdish language.

Thus, Turkey, which had done so well for decades under pragmatists, has now fallen under the sway of megalomaniacal ideologues who believe that they can impose Islam on Turkey and Turkey on the region.

Meanwhile the regime is arresting scores of former high-ranking officers — here and here — destroying the army that used to protect secularism. The time will come when it appoints Islamists or opportunists who act as if they were Islamists to the top commands.

And the U.S. government has finally given some tiny indication of dissatisfaction with Turkey’s hostile policy toward Israel. Obama and the top officials have done nothing while the Islamist regime has behaved as if Israel is its worst enemy in the world and sided with radical terrorist groups that seek Israel’s extinction. Of course, this statement of mild dissatisfaction was dragged out of a junior official by critical members of Congress and was narrowly limited. In other words, for all practical purposes the Obama administration has done zero after two years of the Turkish regime’s bashing of Israel.

Barry Rubin


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