Saturday, May 19, 2012

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


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

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


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

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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President's Budget Fails to get a Single Vote in Congress

by Rick Moran

Not even Democrats are standing behind their presumptive party leader and the key to their electoral success in 2012.

Washington Times:

President Obama's budget suffered a second embarrassing defeat Wednesday, when senators voted 99-0 to reject it.

Coupled with the House's rejection in March, 414-0, that means Mr. Obama's budget has failed to win a single vote in support this year.

Republicans forced the vote by offering the president's plan on the Senate floor.

Democrats disputed that it was actually the president's plan, arguing that the slim amendment didn't actually match Mr. Obama's budget document, which ran thousands of pages. But Republicans said they used all of the president's numbers in the proposal, so it faithfully represented his plan.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican, even challenged Democrats to point out any errors in the numbers and he would correct them - a challenge no Democrats took up.

"A stunning development for the president of the United States in his fourth year in office," Mr. Sessions said of the unanimous opposition.

The White House has held its proposal out as a "balanced approach" to beginning to rein in deficits. It calls for tax increases to begin to offset higher spending, and would begin to level off debt as a percentage of the economy by 2022. It would produce $6.4 trillion in new deficits over that time.

By contrast the chief Republican alternative from the House GOP would notch just $3.1 trillion in deficits, and three Senate Republican alternatives would all come in below $2 trillion.

John Hinderaker of Powerline:

This means that the presidents FY 2013 budget has now been rejected by the House and Senate by a combined vote of 513-0. Earlier today, as Paul noted in a post a little while ago, Obama demanded a "serious bipartisan approach" to the nation's budgetary crisis. Bipartisan? He can't even get a single Democrat to support his radically irresponsible proposals.

Four different Republican budgets were taken up by the Senate. The House budget (commonly referred to as the Ryan budget) was voted down 41-58. The vote on Pat Toomey's budget was 42-47; the vote on Rand Paul's budget was 16-83; and the vote on Mike Lee's budget was 17-82. The common denominator was that no Democrat had the courage to vote for any of them.

Not even Democrats are stupid enough to vote for a tax increase in an election year. But beyond the political, there is the notion that the president's numbers don't add up, that his pie in the sky assumptions about the economy and belief that congress would cut everything he asked made his plan "dead on arrival" when it got to Capitol Hill.

The president's game playing with the nation's future has been exposed for the dangerous political ploy it is. And not even members of his own party want to participate.

Rick Moran


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Could Europe Decide our Election?

by Rick Moran

The fate of President Obama's re-election is probably in the hands of a few European leaders who will decide in the coming months how far they are willing to go to save the euro.

The coming "Grexit," or Greek exit from the euro could be far more damaging than previously realized. Spain's banking sector is under enormous pressure and hints that Greece might leave the euro have Spanish depositors fleeing their own banks for safe havens in sturdier corporations in Germany and elsewhere. Just last week, the Spanish government took over the 4th largest bank and number one mortgage lender Bankia. This caused a $1 billion run on the bank's deposits.

There are also concerns about Italy's tottering banks and weakness in the French banking sector as well. No one knows what will happen to these banks if Greece were to return to the drachma. What is clear, is that any such move will cost hundreds of billions of dollars - most of it underwritten by an increasingly reluctant Germany through the European Central Bank.

And the uncertainty might also affect European imports from America - imports from companies in swing states that Obama must win in order to get re-elected.


Manufacturing growth, surging exports: These are central promises of Obama's reelection bid, especially in blue-collar industrial states that could determine the election.

Mindful of the Indiana surprise of 2008, when a spike in unemployment helped Obama win the reliably Republican state, the White House has every reason to fear payback in states like Ohio, this time from any deepening of Europe's financial crisis.

Already there are warning signs. One in four of Miller Weldmaster's machines is sold in Europe, and sales are down 5 percent so far this year. A further drop could force the company to consider layoffs.

"We've taken a sigh of relief - we've been over the crunch," says Jeff Sponseller, the company's vice president of sales and marketing. "The chance that this could happen again brings a lot of anxiety."

Other Ohio manufacturers share that concern. Royal Phillips Electronics, which exports X-ray machines from a 1,200-employee facility near Cleveland, warned in April that budget cuts and other austerity measures in Europe could hurt demand for its products. Glassmaker Owens-Illinois Inc, based in Perrysburg, said Europe's volatility could hit its earnings as well.

The U.S. Commerce Department estimates that more than a quarter of all manufacturing workers in Ohio depend on exports for their jobs.

Against this backdrop, the Obama administration has been involved in intense, behind-the-scenes maneuvering to steer Europe away from the financial brink.

For the past two years, Treasury officials, including Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, have crisscrossed the Atlantic in pursuit of solutions to Europe's problems. The president has also been actively involved, speaking to European leaders by phone at key moments in the region's crisis.

For now, the technical details of a Grexit are still being worked out. But Greece may have one shot at staying in the euro zone. There is talk by the two major parties that the election next month should be a referendum on staying in the euro zone. The radical socialist Alexis Tsipras can talk all he wants to about his refusal to back the austerity measures negotiated last March in return for 120 billion euro bailout not costing Greece its place in the euro zone. But the facts aren't on his side; the EU/IMF/ECB troika have made it very clear that if Greece reneges on the deal, bail out money will stop.

When presented with the choice, it is believed that most Greek voters will return to their old loyalties and back the two establishment parties who were pummeled in the elections on May 6. That's the theory, anyway. The austerity measures are so unpopular that the major parties believed it better not to give the Greek voter such a stark choice last time around.

This time, with their backs against the wall, they may not have any leeway to do otherwise.

As for a Grexit sabatoging the Obama campaign, this is a real possibility if a Grexit causes a bank meltdown similar to the one that led to the Great Recession back in 2008. That worst case scenario is uppermost in the minds of Obama's campaign team as events unfold in Europe that will decide the fate of the continent for decades to come.

Rick Moran


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Muslim Voters Change Europe

by Soeren Kern

Muslims cast the deciding voted that thrust Hollande into the Elysée Palace. He also pledged to change French electoral laws so that Muslim residents without French citizenship would be allowed to vote in municipal elections as of 2014, enabling the Socialist Party to tighten its grip on political power.

An analysis of the voting patterns that barrelled François Hollande to victory on May 6 as the first Socialist president of France since 1995 shows that this overthrow was due in large measure to Muslims, who voted for him in overwhelming numbers.

The French vote marks the first time that Muslims have determined the outcome of a presidential election in a major western European country; it is a preview of things to come.

As the politically active Muslim population in France continues to swell, and as most Muslims vote for Socialist and leftwing parties, conservative parties will find it increasingly difficult to win future elections in France.

According to a survey of 10,000 French voters conducted by the polling firm OpinionWay for the Paris-based newspaper Le Figaro, an extaordinary 93% of French Muslims voted for Hollande on May 6. By contrast, the poll shows that only 7% of French Muslims voted for the incumbent, Nicolas Sarkozy.

An estimated 2 million Muslims participated in the 2012 election, meaning that roughly 1.7 million Muslim votes went to Hollande rather than to Sarkozy. In the election as a whole, however, Hollande won over Sarkozy by only 1.1 million votes. This figure implies that Muslims cast the deciding votes that thrust Hollande into the Élysée Palace.

France, home to between five and six million Muslims, already has the largest Muslim population in the European Union, and those numbers are expected to increase exponentially in coming years. According to conservative estimates, the Muslim population is projected to exceed 10% of the overall French population within the next decade-and-a-half.

During the campaign, Hollande offered an amnesty to all of the estimated 400,000 illegal Muslim immigrants currently in France. He also pledged to change French electoral laws so that Muslim residents without French citizenship would be allowed to vote in municipal elections as of 2014. These measures, if implemented, would enable the Socialist Party tighten its grip on political power, both at the regional and national levels.

Muslims in France -- and across Europe as a whole -- tend to support the Socialists for a variety of demographic, socio-economic and ideological reasons.

Most Muslims in Europe live in lower-income households and experience higher levels of unemployment. As a result, Socialists and Muslims are locked into a politically advantageous power-dependence relationship, between the givers of social welfare benefits and the givers of votes. Not surprisingly, Socialists favor increased Muslim immigration, which in turn produces more voters for Socialist parties.

In the ideological sphere, Socialists and Muslims generally share a mutual antipathy for traditional Judeo-Christian values. Although many Muslims oppose the secular agenda of the Socialists, most Muslims wholeheartedly support Socialist multicultural dogma, which they are leveraging to promote the Islamization of Europe.

In foreign policymaking, Socialists and Muslims share a mutual disdain for the United States and Israel. Leftwing parties across Europe have turned anti-Zionism into a politically correct form of anti-Semitism. The increasingly hysterical anti-Israel rhetoric emanating from Socialist circles has contributed to a spike in anti-Semitic hate crimes across the continent; many of these crimes against Jews are being perpetrated by Muslims.

Although Hollande has not articulated his views on Israel -- he has said he wants to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories this summer -- many observers fear that Hollande will surround himself with a coterie of leftwing advisors who will push him to distance France from the pro-Jewish, pro-Israel course established by Sarkozy.

Hollande has also said he is opposed to Israeli or American military action against Iranian nuclear facilities and many analysts believe the new French government will seek to weaken international sanctions against Iran.

The political changes in France have many Jews concerned about their future. On the day that French voters elected Hollande as their new president, more than 5,000 French Jews participated in an Aliyah (immigration of Jews to Israel) fair in Paris. The annual event, organized and run by the Jewish Agency, usually attracts about 2,000 visitors.

To be sure, France is not the only country in which Muslims are changing the political dynamic.

In Denmark, Socialist Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt won the parliamentary election in September 2011 by a margin of just 8,500 votes. According to an opinion survey, 89.1% of Muslims said they would vote for Socialist or leftwing parties. There are an estimated 200,000 Muslims in Denmark, 100,000 of whom are eligible to vote.

In Britain, a new research report entitled, "Degrees of Separation: Ethnic minority voters and the Conservative Party," shows that 47% of Muslims say they have affinity for the Labour Party, while on 5% say they identify with the Conservatives. During the 2010 elections, Muslim voters were the deciding factor in 82 constituencies.

In the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, Muslim voters elected the Bangladeshi-born Lutfur Rahman as their mayor. He is linked to the Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE), an Islamist group dedicated to changing the "very infrastructure of society, its institutions, its culture, its political order and its creed ... from ignorance to Islam." Since taking office, Rahman has stocked the public libraries in Tower Hamlets with books and DVDs containing the extremist sermons of banned Islamist preachers.

Also in Britain, Labour Party MP Jim Fitzpatrick recently warned that his party has been infiltrated by radical Muslims who want to create an "Islamic social and political order" there. Muslims, he said, are "placing people within the political parties, recruiting members to those political parties, trying to get individuals selected and elected so they can exercise political influence and power, whether it's at local government level or national level." He added: "They are completely at odds with Labour's program, with our support for secularism."

In Belgium, Muslims now make up one-quarter of the population of Brussels. In real terms, the number of Muslims in Brussels -- where half of all Muslims in Belgium currently live --- has reached 300,000, meaning that the self-styled "Capital of Europe" is now the most Islamic city in Europe.

In practical terms, Islam mobilizes more people in Brussels than does the Roman Catholic Church, and demographers expect that Muslims will comprise the majority of the population of Brussels by 2030.

In Belgium as a whole, new research from the Itinera Institute forecasts that by 2060, 60% of the Belgian population will be foreign born, which will have clear implications for Belgian politics.

In Norway, new statistics show that immigrants will make up almost half of Oslo's population by 2040. The study, the first ever projection of immigration trends to be published in Norway, shows that the largest cities will also see the biggest upsurge in immigrant numbers. In the country as a whole, the immigrant population is expected to jump from 12% to 24%, or from 600,000 people today to 1.5 million in 2040.

In Spain, the Socialist Party recently attempted to pass a law in parliament that would have enabled more than 500,000 Moroccans residing in Spain to vote in Spanish municipal elections. If enacted, the measure would have ensured permanent Socialist control over all Spanish towns and cities with significant Muslim minorities. The measure was derailed in November 2011, when, in the general election, the Socialists were ousted from power.

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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Religious Left Opposes Pressure Against Iranian Nukes

by Mark D. Tooley

Bipartisan resolutions proposed in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, equally backed by Republicans and Democrats, are urging the “President to reaffirm the unacceptability of an Iran with nuclear-weapons capability and oppose any policy that would rely on containment as an option in response to the Iranian nuclear threat.”

So naturally the Religious Left is opposing these mostly symbolic statements, because largely pacifist prelates do not believe any situation, no matter how dire, ever merits even the implied contemplation of force. They also are more concerned about military force from the U.S. or Israel than they are about nuclear weapons in the hands of apocalyptic Iranian mullahs.

Complaining that the congressional resolutions would “undermine diplomatic efforts,” the leftist churchmen warn the statements would set a “dangerously low threshold for war” by “ruling out containment,” possibly even, by some interpretations endorsing “military force against Iran now.”

The ecumenical complaint to members of Congress was organized by the Presbyterian Church (USA) chief Capitol Hill lobbyist. It was signed by Quaker and Mennonite officials, a left-wing Catholic order, and the lobby offices of the United Church of Christ and the United Methodist Church.

Noting that Iran’s theocracy since at least the late 1980s has “engaged in a sustained and well-documented pattern of illicit and deceptive activities to acquire nuclear capability,” the congressional resolutions cite Iran as the “most active state sponsor of terrorism,” according to the U.S. State Department. They also recalled the U.S. Treasury Department’s finding last year that Iran had a “secret deal” to help al Qaeda. Of course they mentioned Iran’s genocidal threats against Israel. And they pointed at the Islamic Republic’s “serious human rights abuses,” according to the United Nations, including “torture, cruel and degrading treatment in detention, the targeting of human rights defenders, violence against women, and ‘the systematic and serious restrictions on freedom of peaceful assembly’ as well as severe restrictions on the rights to ‘freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief.’”

The Congressional resolutions, noting Iran’s continued failure to comply with international non-proliferation standards, urge continued diplomatic and economic pressure on Iran until it ends its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. It also commends the “universal rights and democratic aspirations of the Iranian people.”

Leftist prelates in the U.S. of course are not particularly interested in disarming or democratizing Iran. Instead, they complain the congressional resolutions are “undercutting” diplomacy, which “heightens the potential war.” They quote various critics claiming the resolutions resemble pre-2003 justifications for the U.S. overthrow of Saddam Hussein Iraq. They insist Iran has not yet decided for nuclear weapons. And they reiterate: “Direct, sustained diplomacy remains the single most effective way to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran and avert war. And they implore: “We urge you to support diplomacy, not war, with Iran, and to oppose” the congressional resolutions.

The Religious Left statement never mentions human rights in Iran. And it does not propose alternatives in case diplomacy continues to fail. Of course, it does not admit that potential threats of military force may strengthen diplomacy against Iranian mullahs not typically impressed by anything other than force.

Next month, the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly will consider a resolution opposing any even implied threats against Iran’s mullahs. It would place the 2 million member denomination on record opposing “preemptive military action by any nation against Iran.” And it calls for “direct, unconditional negotiations between the United States and Iran with the goal of… implementing a peaceful resolution.” The proposed resolution, coming from Atlanta area Presbyterians, declares the church is “not confident, judging from past experience, that the U.S.A. has given sufficient thought… to the consequences of such an attack in Iran itself and across the Middle East.”

The Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons composed his own Iran policy, telling President Obama earlier this year, according to Presbyterian News Service: “The Christian tradition we share urges us to seek limits to violence and, therefore, requires us to oppose any rush to initiate another war in the Middle East.” Parsons cited the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as reasons to be wary. And he opined: “Negotiations do work. Look at the North Korean decision to suspend their nuclear program.” Parsons also claimed that Just War teaching argues against any force against Iran. The largely pacifist Religious Left’s understanding of the Just War tradition is that absolutely no situation would ever meet its impossibly exacting standards.

None of these churchmen discussed how a nuclear armed Iran might affect the Middle East and the world. Nor did they even really express that much distress about Iranian nukes. In typical fashion, purported over reactions by the U.S. and Israel are the chief concerns.

The Religious Left does not have a very admirable history regarding Iran’s theocratic dictatorship. Although often recalling the reputed U.S. role in restoring the Shah to power in 1953 as one of the century’s supposed great crimes, religious leftists almost never comment on the far more murderously tyrannical regime that replaced the Shah. Even during the 1979-1980 hostage crisis, the U.S. National Council of Churches chastised the U.S. by praying America would “resume a more open views towards the needs and concerns of the Iranian people.”

The United Methodist Council of Bishops, at about the same time, confessed: “We have committed grave sins against the people of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” One bishop even visited Ayatollah Khomeini and afterwards pronounced that the “Islamic system is a democratic system founded on popular consensus.” An official from the church’s lobby office, called the Board of Church and Society, which has backed the recent letter against pressuring Iran, in 1980 even bailed out from jail and tried to provide bus transportation for pro-Khomeini Iranian student demonstrators in Washington, D.C. “I know there are individuals in the Iranian power structure who do trust The United Methodist church,” one bishop boasted in 1981. No doubt.

Churches are right to hope and pray for a peaceful resolution of the Iranian nuclear situation. But the Religious Left once again demonstrates it has no moral authority when it villainizes the U.S. and Israel, while ignoring the Iranian theocracy’s over 3 decades of monstrous crimes, not to mention the nightmarish scenario of Iranian nukes. Members of Congress of both parties who live in the real world will rightly ignore the Religious Left’s foolish stance.

Mark D. Tooley


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

'Tehran is Undermining the Stability in the Region'

by Boaz Bismuth

Bahraini ambassador to Belgium calls on "entire international community, including Israel, to stand by its side through its current confrontation with Iran" • Six Gulf countries look to forge political alliance against Iran.

Boaz Bismuth, Israel Hayom correspondent in Brussels


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