Friday, September 14, 2012

Mordechai Kedar: The Terror of the Alawites Becomes Reality

by Mordechai Kedar

Read the article in Italiano (translated by Yehudit Weisz, edited by Angelo Pezzana)

I will begin on a personal note. Since the start of the pogroms in Syria a year and a half ago, I have written again and again in my articles on this honorable stage that the Alawites will behave with cruelty and severity and with total insensitivity toward their opposition, because they are aware that they are fighting not only to keep control of the regime in their hands but also - and mainly - in order to keep their heads connected to their shoulders. My words were an assessment based on lengthy research on the Syrian domestic arena, that was published in the doctoral thesis that I wrote (1998) and in the book that was based on it (2005). From time to time I have heard and read harsh expressions of Muslims toward the Alawites, but I have never seen proof that the Alawites indeed fear that the Muslims might slaughter them if they had the opportunity.

In the background is the historical fact that modern Syria was born on the knees of the French Mandate, which was imposed on Syria after the First World War, and ended in 1943. As with other Arab states in the Middle East, many of the genetic illnesses that Syria suffers from stem from errors that were committed by the states of the mandates, France and Great Britain. Italy , which controlled Libya, is responsible to a certain extent for the chaos in that state. The main mistake of the European states in the Middle East was creating states that included different ethnic, tribal, religious and sectarian groups that are antagonistic to each other, with the hope that the day will come when all of them will sit around the campfire and sing patriotic songs in perfect harmony. This did not happen, this is not happening now and this will also not happen in the foreseeable future.

On August 30 of this year a discussion was held in the Security Council of the UN on the civil war that is raging in Syria, that was responsible for about five thousand deaths in the month of August alone. One of the spokesmen in the discussion was the French Foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, and the Syrian representative in the UN, Bashar al-Jafari. The Syrian representative attacked the Western states and primarily France for its support of the rebels. The French minister responded by saying: "You speak negatively about the French Mandate, and I must remind you that the grandfather of your president requested France not to depart from Syria and not to award it independence, and this is in an official document which he signed and is today in the French Foreign Ministry, and if you want I will give you a copy of it."

Fabius was referring to a document that the Alawite leaders, including Suleiman al-Asad, the grandfather of the president of Syria, wrote, which is in the archive of the French Foreign Ministry. The document has the date of receipt - June 15, 1936, and was written shortly prior to that date, to the French prime minister at the time, Leon Blum. In those days, there were contacts that were conducted between the government of France and a group of Syrian intellectuals who believed in the possibility of establishing a greater Syrian state that would include groups that are different from one another, as in Europe. This document was published in the past in the Lebanese newspaper al-Nahar and the Egyptian newspaper al-Ahram, but did not make the headlines. For the benefit of our dear readers we include here the document in its entirety, which should be read while keeping in mind what has been happening in Syria for the last year and a half. (My comments are in parenthesis, M.K.)

"Dear Mr. Leon Blum, Prime Minister of France.

In light of the negotiations that are being conducted between France and Syria, we - the Alawite leaders in Syria - respectfully draw the following points to your attention and to that of your party (the Socialists):

1. The Alawite nation (sic!!) which has maintained its independence over the years by dint of much zeal and many casualties, is a nation which is different from the Muslim Sunni nation in its religious faith , in its customs and in its history. It has never happened that the Alawite nation (which lives in the mountains on the Western coast of Syria) was under the rule of the (Muslims) who rule the inland cities of the land.

2. The Alawite nation refuses to be annexed to Muslim Syria, because the Islamic religion is thought of as the official religion of the country, and the Alawite nation is thought of as heretical by the Islamic religion. Therefore we ask you to consider the dreadful and terrible fate that awaits the Alawites if they are forced to be annexed to Syria, when it will be free from the oversight of the Mandate, and it will be in their power to implement the laws that stem from its religion. (According to Islam, the idol-worshiping heretic has a choice to convert to Islam or be slaughtered.)

3. Awarding independence to Syria and cancelling the mandate would be a good example of socialist principles in Syria, but the meaning of full independence will be the control by a few Muslim families on the Alawite nation in Cilicia, in Askadron (the Alexandretta Strip that the French cut off from Syria and annexed to Turkey in 1939) and in the Ansariyya Mountains (the mountains in the western part of Syria, the topographical continuation of the Lebanon Mountains). Even having a parliament and a constitutional government will not ensure personal freedom. This parliamentary control is only a facade, lacking any effective value, and the truth of the matter is that it will be controlled by religious fanaticism that will target the minorities. Do the leaders of France want the Muslims to control the Alawite nation and throw it into the bosom of misery?

4. The spirit of fanaticism and narrow-mindedness, whose roots are deep in the heart of the Arab Muslims toward all those who are not Muslim, is the spirit that continually feeds the Islamic religion, and therefore there is no hope that the situation will change. If the Mandate is cancelled, the danger of death and destruction will be a threat upon the minorities in Syria, even if the cancellation (of the Mandate) will decree freedom of thought and freedom of religion. Why, even today we see how the Muslim residents of Damascus force the Jews who live under their auspices to sign a document in which they are forbidden to send food to their Jewish brothers who are suffering from the disaster in Palestine (in the days of the great Arab rebellion), the situation of the Jews in Palestine being the strongest and most concrete proof of the importance of the religious problem among the Muslim Arabs toward anyone who does not belong to Islam. Those good Jews, who have brought to the Muslim Arabs civilization and peace, and have spread wealth and prosperity to the land of Palestine, have not hurt anyone and have not taken anything by force, and nevertheless the Muslims have declared holy war against them and have not hesitated to slaughter their children and their women despite the fact that England is in Palestine and France is in Syria. Therefore a black future awaits the Jews and the other minorities if the Mandate is cancelled and Muslim Syria is unified with Muslim Palestine. This union is the ultimate goal of the Muslim Arabs.

5. We appreciate your generosity of spirit in defending the Syrian people and your desire to realize their independence, but Syria at the present time is far from the lofty goal that you aspire for her, because she is still trapped in the spirit of religious feudalism. We do not think that the French government and the French socialist Party will agree to the Syrians' independence, since its implementation will cause the subjugation of the Alawite nation, placing the Alawite minority in danger of death and destruction.

It cannot be that you will agree to the (nationalist) Syrian request to annex the Alawite nation to Syria, because your lofty principles - if they support the idea of freedom - will not accept the situation in which one nation (the Muslims) try to stifle the freedom of another (the Alawite) by forcing its annexation.

6. You may see fit to assure the rights of the Alawites and other minorities in the wording of the treaty (The French-Syrian Treaty, which defines the relationships between the states), but we emphasize to you that contracts have no value in the Syrian Islamic mentality. We have seen this in the past, with the pact that England signed with Iraq, which forbade the Iraqis to slaughter the Assyrians and the Yazidis.

The Alawite nation, which we, the undersigned, represent, cries out to the government of France and to the French Socialist Party, and requests them to ensure its freedom and independence within its small boundaries (an independent Alawite state!!). The Alawite nation places its well-being in the hands of the French Socialist leaders, and is sure that it will find strong and dependable support for the nation which is a faithful friend, who has rendered to France a great service, and now is under the threat of death and destruction.

(Signed by): Aziz Agha al-Hawash, Mahmud Agha Jadid, Mahmud Bek Jadid, Suleiman Asad (the grandfather of Hafez), Suleiman al-Murshid, Mahmud Suleiman al-Ahmad."

This concludes the document, which was written 86 years ago, but could have been written yesterday. The document includes within it all of the ills of the Middle East that the peoples of the region suffer from until today: religious zealotry of Muslims, violence, marginalization of anyone who does not belong to the dominant group, stereotypes that determine the group-think and Western ignorance and naïveté about anything regarding the regional problems and how to solve them.

And with all due respect to the writers of the document, they are not free of problems either. Despite the fact that they are Arabs and Arabic speakers, they differentiate themselves from the general Arab-Muslim scene and define themselves as the Alawite "nation", only because they are members of a different religion. It may be that the way they view themselves is based on the fact that they are separate tribes from the Muslim tribes, and they see themselves as the original natives of the mountains of western Syria, in contrast to the Arab Muslims who invaded the area in the seventh century from the Arabian Peninsula under the unsheathed sword of the second Muslim Caliph, Umar bin al-Khattab, who imposed Islam upon the conquered peoples.

Without doubt, the Alawites made the necessary conclusions from what is written in the document because they have ruled the Muslims since 1966 with a cruel and bloodthirsty iron fist, because they knew well what would happen if the Muslims ruled over them.

An interesting additional detail in the document is the fact that the Ottoman Empire is not mentioned at all, even though it tried to convert the Alawites to Islam and forced them to build mosques in their villages. It could be that the signatories refrained from relating to the Turks because of the Alawite minority that lived in Turkey, and the fear that if they openly relate to the Turks in a negative way, the Turks might take revenge on their Alawite brothers who live in Turkey.

But the most interesting detail in the document is the positive way in which the writers relate to the Jews in the Land of Israel. Who knows, perhaps in the future after the Alawites are forced to flee for their lives from the Muslim cities in Syria in order to escape the fate that is described in the document and in order to keep their heads on their shoulders, they will establish their independent state in their mountains, the Mountains of Ansariyya, and perhaps then - as a persecuted minority state - in a historical irony, they will try to join hands with the "Zionist entity", which is still an illegitimate and despised entity in the eyes of the Arabs and the Muslims.

"Oppressed peoples of the Middle East, Unite!!"


Dr. Kedar is available for lectures in the U.S. and Canada

Dr. Mordechai Kedar ( is an Israeli scholar of Arabic and Islam, a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University and the director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. He specializes in Islamic ideology and movements, the political discourse of Arab countries, the Arabic mass media, and the Syrian domestic arena.

Translated from Hebrew by Sally Zahav.

Links to Dr. Kedar's recent articles on this blog:

Source: The article is published in the framework of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. Also published in Makor Rishon, a Hebrew weekly newspaper.

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

The End of US Naivete?

by Eyal Zisser

On the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the U.S. ambassador was murdered in Libya in a terrorist attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi. This attack coincided with a violent protest by Islamist extremists in Cairo, near the U.S. Embassy in the Egyptian capital.

It's possible that the timing of these religion-based attacks on American targets was coincidental. It's also possible, as some experts have argued, that a spontaneous reaction took place in the streets of Libya and Egypt, in response to the pitiful and insulting video, in their view, about the Prophet Muhammad and Islam. What is interesting, of course, is why a movie that was released online a few months ago caused the deadly attacks specifically on Sept. 11 of all days.

However, what is truly important is that regardless of the elements responsible for the terrorist attack, whoever they are, for millions of Muslims around the world criticism against the Arab world and Islam, critical analysis of Islam, or even a caricature of the prophet Muhammad, are justification for violence and even killing in the name of religion.

There is nothing new in all of this. A few years ago violent protests erupted across the Arab and Muslim world after caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad were published in a Danish newspaper. Then, too, Scandinavian embassies were torched in several Arab capitals, while in Afghanistan the protests were aimed at the American soldiers stationed there. Everyone also recalls the author Salman Rushdie, who was issued a death sentence (in absentia) by Iran for his book "The Satanic Verses."

At that time, Moammar Gadhafi and Hosni Mubarak ruled Libya and Egypt respectively. Both of them, similar to their dictatorial counterparts across the Arab world, did not allow the U.S. embassies in their countries to come under attack. Rather, they allowed the angry masses to let off steam by protesting elsewhere. Otherwise, they feared, the crowd's wrath would be aimed at them. They simultaneously used these protests as justification for their oppressive regimes which, in their views, were the final obstacle blocking the path of radical Islam.

Gadhafi and Mubarak were deposed a while ago from Libya and Egypt, but not without some help from Washington. An Islamist regime took Mubarak's place in Egypt, while in Libya the radical Islamic factions enjoy wide-ranging support throughout the country after finally being allowed to operate.

Washington was blessed with these changes and sought to see them as a step forward on the way to the Arab world becoming more democratic. The U.S. also sought to build on the unwavering support the West had given these Arab revolutionaries. Yesterday, however, American expectations came crashing down to meet the realities of the Middle East.

This is a moment of truth for the Libyan regime. It is especially so for Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood regime, which doesn't need legitimacy from religious elements, unlike Mubarak's regime, and could have come out and issued harsh condemnation of the violence.

The question, of course, is whether Morsi's Egypt will be more open and tolerant a few years down the road, or whether it will be a country where the extremists control the agenda. In such a scenario, the next anti-American or anti-West outburst is only a matter of time.

Eyal Zisser


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Why Aren’t Marines Carrying Live Ammo?

by Michael Rubin

The Washington Free Beacon reports that Anne Patterson, the U.S. Ambassador to Cairo, forbade U.S. Marines guarding the embassy from carrying live ammo. Ambassadors might be kings (or queens) of the compound, but her pronouncement was nothing short of professional incompetence.

Forget about the Obama administration reverting to the pre-9/11 era. Patterson set the clock back to pre-1983. After all, it was during that year that Ronald Reagan, in perhaps one of the greatest mistakes of his presidency, ordered U.S. Marines into Beirut as peacekeepers. The Marines guarding their barracks, however, were not authorized to carry live ammunition. Had the guards been carrying loaded weapons, they might have shot the suicide truck bomber who rushed the gates, setting off an explosion which killed 241 American servicemen.

Nor should we dismiss the attack on the embassy as simply a protest that got out of hand, but which was fortunately diffused without the loss of life. Remember: The November 4, 1979 hostage seizure in Iran was actually the second assault on the U.S. embassy in Tehran. On February 14, radicals stormed the embassy much like they did in Cairo, in an incident now long since forgotten. Had Carter upped the defense of the embassy then, Iranian revolutionaries might not have triumphed the second time around. Alas, it seems that Obama’s team, like Carter’s before it, refuses to learn from experience and so condemns Americans to make the same mistakes repeatedly.

Michael Rubin


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Future of U.S.-Egypt Relations Not So Clear

by Max Boot

President Obama’s comments on Egypt conform to Michael Kinsley’s famous definition of a gaffe: when a politician inadvertently tells the truth. In an interview with Telemundo, Obama said:

I don’t think that we would consider them an ally, but we don’t consider them an enemy. They’re a new government that is trying to find its way. They were democratically elected. I think that we are going to have to see how they respond to this incident.”

As Alana notes, the administration immediately tried to walk back the president’s comment, with an NSC spokesman saying, “I think folks are reading way too much into this.” Hardly. When the president publicly questions whether a country like Egypt, which has been the second-largest recipient of American aid since the 1970s, is still an ally, it suggests that profound changes are afoot. As Obama suggested, it is still unclear where the new government led by Mohamed Morsi will end up–as an ally, an enemy or (more likely) somewhere in between, as a North African version of Pakistan.

The events of the past few days show just how hard it is to determine the future course of Egyptian policy: Morsi did not grant enough police protection to the U.S. embassy to prevent demonstrators from getting inside the grounds and he was halting and late in condemning the attack. His hesitancy stands in contrast to the prompt, full-throated condemnations from Libyan leaders–who are genuinely pro-American–of the attack which killed our ambassador in Benghazi. Morsi has been a little tougher in his language and actions today but only after a telephone conversation with Obama that had to be uncomfortable for both of them.

Like most politicians, Morsi appears to be triangulating between competing demands–in this case the demands of the U.S., which holds Egypt’s purse strings, and the demands of hard-line Salafists and Muslim Brothers. Morsi’s own views are unclear, perhaps conveniently cloaked for the time being. To make matters more complicated, it is unclear to what extent Morsi controls his own security forces even after having replaced many of the senior generals. There is even a conspiracy theory floating around that the security men might be tacitly cooperating with the Salafists to embarrass Morsi.

To understand how complicated and uncertain the situation is, it helps to recall Iran in 1979. After the shah was toppled, there was a power struggle between Islamists and secularists for control of the government. Radical students stormed the US Embassy and took its personnel hostage primarily to embarrass the moderates and force a crisis with the “Great Satan” that would allow the extremists around Ayatollah Khomeini to consolidate power. Something similar could be occurring in Egypt today. The U.S. must use what leverage it has–at this point, primarily financial–to shape the conduct of Egypt, but we must be aware that attacks on our embassy are primarily a manifestation of a local power struggle whose outcome we cannot dictate.

Max Boot


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Islamist Atrocities and Double Standards

by Joseph Klein

“While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants,” President Obama said in response to the brutal murder of the U.S. ambassador to Libya John Christopher Stevens and three other embassy staff members. Obama promised to “bring justice” to the killers and added: “There is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence. None.”

Ambassador Stevens and embassy staff members were killed in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11. Ambassador Stevens’ body was dragged through the streets of Benghazi by angry Muslims — the very same city that the United States and its NATO allies saved from imminent massacre at the hands of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Ambassador Stevens had said last May when he returned to Libya to serve as the U.S. ambassador:

I had the honor to serve as the U.S. envoy to the Libyan opposition during the revolution, and I was thrilled to watch the Libyan people stand up and demand their rights. Now I’m excited to return to Libya to continue the great work we’ve started, building a solid relationship between the United States and Libya, to help you, the Libyan people, achieve your goals.

Tragically, the Islamists whose lives may have been saved by Obama’s intervention into the Libyan civil war are pursuing radically anti-American goals that cost Ambassador Stevens his life.

President Obama praised Stevens as “a courageous and exemplary representative of the United States” and said that his “legacy will endure wherever human beings reach for liberty and justice.” He has pledged to bring the attackers to justice and to provide more security for our embassies. That’s fine as far as it goes. The problem is that both Obama and his State Department have denigrated the unique importance of free speech in the pantheon of American liberties in favor of protecting the sensibilities of Muslims who are offended by speech critical of their religion.

The Benghazi murders occurred during a rocket attack on the car being used to rush Ambassador Stevens and the three other Americans from a consular building stormed by Islamists allegedly upset about a film made in the United States by U.S.-based Egyptian Coptic Christians insulting the Muslim prophet Mohammad. It was this same film that sparked an attack by Islamists on the American embassy in Cairo.

Obama had not directed any remarks specifically to the 9/11 Cairo attack, which took no lives but resulted in the destruction of the American flag and its replacement with an Islamic flag on American property. Instead, his State Department’s Cairo embassy chose only to condemn the offensive film:

The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions…We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.

Sensing a possible political embarrassment of appearing to defend the Egyptian Islamist attackers by condemning the object of their wrath, the White House at first tried to distance itself from the Cairo embassy statement. But Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in responding to the news of the attack on the Libyan embassy, both condemned that attack and the film that sparked it. She said that the U.S. deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others but that there is never any justification for violent acts as occurred in Libya. Obama took up the same refrain when he said, as quoted at the outset of the article, that “While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants.”

Here is the problem. By including in both Obama’s and Clinton’s statements a condemnation of speech such as the offensive film that “denigrates” religious beliefs, the Obama administration is denigrating the First Amendment protection of free speech no matter how offensive it may be. This is reinforced by the fact that Obama and Clinton evidently waited for confirmation of the loss of American diplomats’ lives before addressing the violence head-on, and they still refused to link Islamism with the violence. Apparently, destroying the American flag hanging at half mast on 9/11 and replacing it with an Islamist flag associated with jihad was not worthy alone of unequivocal condemnation by either the president or the secretary of state.

This is not an inadvertent lapse. It is part of the Obama administration’s relentless campaign to deny that we are at war with Islamist jihadists. At its highest levels, the Obama administration insists on using euphemisms and general references to terrorists and extremists rather than accurate language describing the Islamist ideology we are fighting. And it has sided with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in trying to marginalize those who dare criticize this ideology and its sources rather than defend the First Amendment.

Clinton met with OIC officials in Istanbul in July of 2011, at a conference she co-hosted, to embark on what has become known as the “Istanbul Process.” The ostensible purpose of the Istanbul Process is to work with Muslim-majority countries, the OIC and other interested nations on exploring specific steps to combat intolerance, negative stereotyping, discrimination and violence on the basis of religion or belief. This was followed up by a three-day closed door meeting hosted by the State Department last December in Washington, D.C.

In other words, behind closed doors, the Obama administration has been working with the OIC to find acceptable ways to stifle speech offensive to Muslims without going so far as outright censorship of Americans’ speech — at least not yet. Indeed, Clinton assured her OIC partners that she was perfectly on board with using “some old-fashioned techniques of peer pressure and shaming, so that people don’t feel that they have the support to do what we abhor.” Hillary is right in line with Barack Obama’s vow to the Muslim world in his June 2009 Cairo speech: “I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam whenever they appear.”

Hence, the Obama administration’s responses to the attacks in Egypt and Libya that de-couple the violence from Islam and include condemnations of speech considered offensive to Muslims. As a result, our First Amendment right of free expression – starting with expression that the Obama administration and the Islamists “abhor” – are in jeopardy of being whittled away. The Obama administration’s willingness to use government mechanisms to apply “old-fashioned techniques of peer pressure and shaming” is already in full swing. But it may be just the beginning. We must remain vigilant against efforts by the Obama administration to pursue legal mechanisms such as hate speech laws and vigorous enforcement of very broadly interpreted anti-discrimination laws, supplementing its “shaming” campaign, to curb any speech the administration and its OIC partners think may “denigrate” Islam.

Joseph Klein


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Attacks on U.S. Embassies Were Not About a Movie

by Caroline Glick

Here are a couple of facts:

On June 4 the White House confirmed that the US had killed Abu Yahya Al-Libi – OBL’s Libyan lieutenant who had moved into Al Qaeda’s #2 spot after Ayman Zahawiri after the Navy SEALs whacked OBL.

On Tuesday 9/11, a tape was released of Zawahiri announcing that Libi had been killed earlier this year by a US drone attack. The Zawahiri tape was made during Ramadan which ended in the middle of last month. Zawahiri called for his terrorist underlings to avenge Libi’s death and especially exhorted Libyans to take revenge.

The attack in Libya was well planned and executed. It wasn’t about a spontaneous protest against some ridiculous internet movie of Muhammad. The assailants came armed to the teeth, with among other things, RPG 7s. They knew that the US Ambassador was in Benghazi rather than Tripoli. They knew how to track his movements, and were able to strike against him after he and his colleagues left the consulate building and tried to flee in a car. As Israel Channel 2′s Arab Affairs Correspondent Ehud Yaari noted this evening, you don’t often see well trained terrorists participating in protests of movies.

Then there is the attack in Cairo. They were led by Mohammad Zawahiri – Ayman Zawahiri’s brother. According the Thomas Josclyn in the Weekly Standard, the US media has been idiotically presenting him as some sort of moderate despite the fact that in an interview with Al Jazeerah he said said, “We in al Qaeda…”

Egypt’s US supported Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi recently released Zawahiri from Egyptian prison. The same Barack Obama who has no time in his schedule to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu next week in New York, is scheduled to meet Morsi.

The Egyptian government has not condemned the attack on the US Embassy in Cairo. But Morsi is demanding that the US government prosecute the film’s creator.

You may be wondering how some movie no one’s heard of has caused such a hullabaloo. Well, as it turns out, the film was screened on an Egyptian Salafist television channel. Obviously the Salafists — many of whom, like Zawahiri were released from prison by Morsi, wanted to stir up anti-US violence on the eve of 9/11. So if the film is responsible for the violence, a finger needs to be pointed to its chief distributor — Al Qaida’s Egyptian friends and members.

With these facts in hand, it is clear that the attempts to present these acts of war against the US as the consequence of some stupid nothing movie are obscene attempts to deflect the blame for these unwarranted attacks onto their victims and away from their perpetrators.

Caroline Glick - Visit


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New York Times Re-Writes 9/11 History

by Alan W. Dowd

Vanity Fair’s Kurt Eichenwald used the opinion page of The New York Times to revive the left’s tired attack that the Bush administration failed to do enough to prevent 9/11. “Deafness before the Storm” is how the Times headlined Eichenwald’s pathetic piece, which re-accuses and re-indicts the Bush administration for “significantly more negligence than has been disclosed” with regard to intelligence briefings and activities in the months leading up to 9/11. Eichenwald’s piece (and companion book) does little to move the nation forward or enhance the historical record. Indeed, this sort of 20-20 hindsight critique is not a very productive exercise. But since Eichenwald started down this backwards path, let’s walk a little further. To borrow the Times’ imagery, if the Bush administration was “deaf before the storm,” the Clinton administration was blind, deaf and dumb as bin Laden launched his global guerilla war against the United States.

Eichenwald reports that “The direct warnings to Mr. Bush about the possibility of a Qaeda attack began in the spring of 2001.” Fair enough. The direct warnings to Mr. Clinton came in two forms: First, in February 1993, Ramzi Yousef tried to topple the World Trade Center with a bomb-laden truck. Yousef had worked closely with 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. In fact, the two lived together in the Philippines and hammered out a plan to attack airliners over the Pacific. The second direct warning during the Clinton administration came in 1996, when Osama bin Laden issued what can only be described as a declaration of war against America. He condemned the “occupation of the land of the two Holy Places” as the “latest and the greatest of…aggressions,” promised “to initiate a guerrilla warfare” against the United States and its allies, called on his followers to focus “on destroying, fighting and killing the enemy until, by the grace of Allah, it is completely defeated,” and vowed to carry his “jihad against the kuffar (those who refuse to submit to Allah) in every part of the world.”

So, since Eichenwald is keeping score, the Bush administration had seven months and 20 days to deal with bin Laden. The Clinton administration had seven years and 11 months.

In those seven-plus years, as the 9/11 Commission reported, U.S. intelligence assets had bin Laden in their sights on at least three occasions but were prevented from acting by higher-ups. In 1999, U.S. teams were actually ordered to hold their fire because administration officials worried that an Arab dignitary on a hunting trip in the vicinity of bin Laden might be harmed. According to 9/11 Commission staff, CIA officials still call this the “lost opportunity to kill bin Laden before 9/11.” Justifying the inaction, Mr. Clinton’s Secretary of State Madeleine Albright explained to the 9/11 Commission that “to bomb at random or use military force would have made our lives more difficult inside the Islamic world.” Of course, the decision not to bomb made quite an impact inside our own world.

Referring to the failure to attack bin Laden at his hunting lodge, 9/11 Commissioner Bob Kerrey famously declared, “We had a round in our chamber and we didn’t use it.”

Of course, that sounds a lot like preemption—a dirty word nowadays. If preemption would have been appropriate to forestall bin Laden’s 9/11 massacres, why was it not appropriate to prevent Saddam Hussein from trying to top bin Laden somewhere down the road? (We’ll return to that in a moment.)

Eichenwald reports that “Operatives connected to bin Laden…expected the planned near-term attacks to have ‘dramatic consequences,’ including major casualties…Yet, the White House failed to take significant action.”

If the Bush White House failed to take any significant action that summer, what action did the Clinton White House take the previous summers, autumns, winters and springs? Very little, as it turns out.

After the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, which killed six Americans and injured 1,000, the Clinton White House responded with indictments.

In 1996, a truck bomb in Saudi Arabia claimed 19 U.S. airmen and injured 200. The Clinton White House responded with indictments.

In 1998, al Qaeda terrorists bombed a pair of American embassies in East Africa, murdering 224 civilians and injuring more than 5,000. The Clinton White House responded with an impotent volley of cruise missiles and an indictment.

Finally, in October 2000, al Qaeda used a rubber boat to blast a hole in the USS Cole, killing 17 sailors. The Clinton White House responded by sending FBI agents (not troops) to Yemen.

As former U.S. attorney Mary Jo White put it, “Criminal prosecutions are simply not a sufficient response to international terrorism.” In the words of Commissioner Kerrey, al Qaeda “knew—beginning in 1993, it seems to me—that there was going to be limited, if any, use of the military and that they were relatively free to do whatever they wanted.”

That didn’t change until, well, the Bush administration. In fact, 9/11 was the high-water mark for al Qaeda not because bin Laden was content with his handiwork, but because the U.S. finally dealt with al Qaeda as a military threat—not a law-enforcement matter.

Eichenwald asks, “Could the 9/11 attack have been stopped had the Bush team reacted with urgency to the warnings contained in all of those daily briefs?” Given the above litany, it seems fair to respond with a parallel question: Could the 9/11 attack have been stopped had the Clinton team killed bin Laden when they had him in their sights, or had the Clinton team traced Yousef’s links back to their source, or had the Clinton team waged a bona fide war on terror? Commissioner Kerrey seemed to think so. “Better to have tried and failed than to have not tried at all,” he huffed during the hearings.

As for the Bush White House, one wonders how much it could have done before the attacks —hamstrung as it was by the deeply divisive 2000 election and by the complete lack of political support for military or intelligence operations. The 9/11 Commission made clear that intelligence and law enforcement agencies were stove-piping information, that agencies were not allowed to look for certain things or in certain places, that the federal government lacked many of the tools needed to connect the dots. We need not imagine the howls the left would have unleashed if Mr. Bush had taken precautionary steps in July or August of 2001, if he had ordered tightened security and additional screening at airports or mass-transit facilities, if he had sought to detain suspected terrorists, if he had tried to seek authority to wiretap bin Laden’s agents. We don’t need to imagine the reaction because the left attacked all of these policies after 9/11.

The left also attacked the doctrine of preemption, which Eichenwald’s critique of the Bush administration implicitly—and ironically—endorses.

It’s ironic because, by definition, preventing 9/11 would have required some sort of preemptive action. Yet Eichenwald criticizes “the neoconservative leaders who had recently assumed power at the Pentagon” for ignoring the al Qaeda threat and instead focusing on the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. The left’s revisionism notwithstanding, “the neoconservatives” were not the only ones concerned about Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

The Iraq Liberation Act of 1998—which passed the House with 360 yea votes and was signed by Mr. Clinton— earmarked $100 million for Iraqi opposition groups and declared that it would be “the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove from power the current Iraqi regime and promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime.” Moreover, it was Mr. Clinton who warned during his presidency, “If Saddam defies the world and we fail to respond, we will face a far greater threat in the future…Mark my words, he will develop weapons of mass destruction. He will deploy them, and he will use them.” And in the run-up to the Iraq War, when confronted by critics who argued that a war against Saddam Hussein and a war against bin Laden was an either-or proposition, it was Mr. Clinton who argued, “I think we can walk and chew gum at the same time. That is, I think we can turn up the heat on Iraq and retain our focus on terror.”

As to Eichenwald’s implication that the Bush administration devoted too much focus to Iraq after 9/11, he forgets that the attacks altered the very DNA of U.S. national-security policy. “Any administration in such a crisis,” as historian John Lewis Gaddis has written, “would have had to rethink what it thought it knew about security.” Was deterrence possible? Was containment viable? Was giving repeat offenders like Saddam Hussein the benefit of the doubt responsible? The Bush administration’s answer to each question was “no.” And Congress concurred. The Iraq War resolution passed the Senate 77-23 and the House 296-133. Saddam Hussein’s associations, behavior and record with weapons of mass destruction fueled a presumption of guilt that, when mixed with America’s profound sense of vulnerability after 9/11, created a deadly combination. This is perhaps the most fundamental way 9/11 is linked to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq: The latter did not perpetrate the former, but the former taught Washington a lesson about the danger of failing to confront threats before they are fully formed. In the same way, the appeasement of Hitler at once had nothing and yet everything to do with how America waged the Cold War against Stalin and his successors.

Of course, none of that matters to Eichenwald and the left. They have books to sell and history to rewrite.

Alan W. Dowd


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

Sorry your Feelings were Hurt, you Stalwarts of Religious Tolerance.

by Fred J. Eckert

As radical Islamist thugs stormed the US Embassy in Cairo, Egypt, and ripped to pieces then burned the American flag, the Obama-led US government swiftly responded with a negative movie review.

"The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims," America told the world.

Some Muslims had had their feelings hurt by a poorly done and little-viewed film that ridicules Islam. Good grief! Lots of Muslims ridicule Christians and Jews all the time and many of them take great delight in hurting our feelings by specializing in murdering and maiming Christians and Jews.

Who hurt their feelings this time? Some man not connected with our Cairo embassy or the US government who is not even a US citizen. Yet many, possibly most, Muslims believe this justifies an act of war against the United States, which is what an attack against an embassy or consulate is -- and the Obama-led US government believes that a fitting response to the threat of mayhem and murder is to assure its perpetrators that we feel their pain.

This sorry spectacle raises that great question that Bubba's mother put to Forest in the movie Forest Gump -- "Are you crazy or just plain stupid?" -- about both those Muslims who think and act in such a manner and those in the US government who feel their pain

Crazy and stupid is what the Obama Administration's foreign policy approach in that region of the world has been.

In Egypt and Libya, US policy under Obama was to pave the way for taking control from dictators who posed no threat to the United States and indeed were impeding the spread of radical Islam and replacing them with leaders highly likely to be aggressively hostile toward us. Perhaps it's not such a good idea for a president to skip six out of ten of his intelligence briefings.

In Iran and Syria US policy under Obama assiduously has been to avoid doing anything effective to strip control from viciously anti-American dictatorships and help pave the way for pro-American regimes to come to power.

What the Obama Administration and its cheerleaders in the media applauded as "leading from behind" really means doing things bass-ackwards.

But don't wait for the media to remind the American people that Egypt, where our embassy was overrun and our flag supplanted with a black al-Qaeda banner, and Libya, where also on the anniversary of 9/11 the US Consulate in Benghazi was overrun and fire bombed with our US Ambassador and three other US diplomats murdered, have for some time now been touted by the Obama camp and the mainstream media as stellar examples of Obama foreign policy "successes."

Don't hold your breath waiting for them to ask Barack Obama if he still thinks he was right on Egypt and Libya and still thinks he's right to undercut the possibility of pro-American regime change in Iran and Syria.

Interesting, isn't it, that instead of asking such obvious questions of Obama and his apologists, the reaction of the mainstream media was to gang up on Mitt Romney for daring to say, as any sensible American would, that when we are under attack it is foolish to express sympathy for our attackers, even if they claim someone has hurt their feelings. The media's take was that it was totally inappropriate for Romney to publicly criticize any statement by anyone in the US government regarding handling of a crisis, a thought that never occurred to them when candidate John Kerry constantly did so during his campaign against President George W. Bush. Talk about crazy and stupid - check it out.

Interesting, too, isn't it, that while Cairo is the place where Obama delivered a speech the media billed as some sort of new beginning in US-Muslim World relations, a speech they gushed over -- "Obama's standing above the country, above-above the world; he's sort of God; he's the teacher." -- Newsweek editor Evan Thomas -- it has yet to occur to a single one of them to ask Obama or his Press Secretary or any of his surrogates certain questions that just leap out from that speech as a gift to any good journalist.

Such as:

"Mr. President, in light of what we have just witnessed in Egypt and Libya, do you still stand by your statement in your June, 2009, Cairo speech that 'Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance'"?

"You weren't asked back then, but could you give us some specific examples of the words and deeds by which Islam has demonstrated its religious tolerance"?

"You also said in your Cairo speech, 'I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.' Do you think the events in Egypt and Libra on the anniversary of 9/11 might indicate that Muslims are not appreciative of your efforts on their behalf? You have never said that you also consider it a responsibility of the President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Christianity and Judaism - why not?"

"Is it possible that the sort of things these Muslim goons did in Cairo and Benghazi might contribute to what you call negative stereotypes about Islam?"

Another question that comes to mind: "In your acceptance speech you mocked Governor Romney as being 'new' to foreign policy. In light of what appear to be serious foreign policy failures in Egypt, Libya, Syria and Iran under your watch, do you stand by the assertion you made during the 2008 campaign that your having lived in Indonesia between the ages of six and ten should count for foreign policy experience?"

Fred J. Eckert, author of the book, That's a Crock, Barack, is a former conservative Republican Congressman from New York and twice served as a US Ambassador (to the UN and to Fiji) under President Reagan, who called him "a good friend and valuable advisor." He's retired and lives with his wife in Raleigh, NC.


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Iran Has Obama in a Headlock

by James Lewis

Iran's Armageddon cult now has Obama at its mercy. After appeasing the sadistic regime in Tehran for almost four years Obama only has to make it through the next two months without the Middle East blowing up, and he's set for life. This is the last electoral test of his career, and maybe also the first real election he's ever had to endure.

Obama's political bind puts the mullahs in charge for the next two months, rushing to an irreversible grab for nuclear weapons. Obama will not do anything to stop them, because that would mean taking a career risk. He has never taken a risk that might endanger his political career. Never.

As a result, the United States has all the capability for destroying Iranian nuclear weapons before they break out, but we won't use our might, because Obama cares about himself more than the safety of the world. Israel is a pawn in this game, but the real stakes are the Muslim Ascendancy -- world power for the rising nuclear caliphates of the Muslim Middle East: Egypt, Turkey and Iran.

Israel is the scapegoat for a rising great power struggle, in which the left has taken sides against civilization. If that seems harsh, read Paul Johnson's life of Winston Churchill or Niall Ferguson's fine book Civilization: The West and the Rest --- and you see it happening again, right in front of our eyes. The Russians, the Muslims and the Chinese read history. Liberals don't read history, because they prefer to live in delusion. It's a choice.

I once played a chess game with an Israeli military guy, who only used his pawns to beat me in a dozen moves. I'm a middling chess player, and he put me in a Zugzwang, a double bind, where I could not use my strong pieces, the queen, bishops and knights. It was clever and fast. He had counted all the pawn moves and I was caught unawares. The mullahs practice chess moves on each other, with real human lives at stake. They are not "spiritual leaders" -- they are medieval Popes, bloody-handed thug politicians who kill in the name of God.

Thirty years ago Khomeini suckered Jimmy Carter and Zbig Brzezinski in Iran until he was ready to humiliate them. The US Embassy occupation was Khomeini's way of humiliating the United States, to show we were a paper tiger. Then Reagan took over and the US diplomats were released in record time. The mullahs are sadistic, but they backed down in the face of overwhelming power. Obama won't use the only kind of power they will recognize, so that the Saudis, who hate the mullahs, are being driven into their arms.

Today the mullahs have Obama in a Zugzwang, a double bind. He can't act against them because they've got his number by now. He can't afford not to act, because millions of sleeping US voters might finally wake up to his dangerous failures in the Middle East, not to mention our faltering economy. Rather than driving events, Obama has been cornered.

In typical Obama fashion he is blaming the victim, the people of Israel. BHO has always been on the side of Third World dictatorships. Three years after his famous speech from Al Azhar University in Cairo, swinging the United States behind the Islamist Ascendancy, the United States Embassy in Cairo has been sacked by a mob. Syria is killing its own people with the active help of Iran and Russia. All over the Muslim world hateful Islamist throwbacks are taking over. Guess who is to blame? Yes.

In police states there are no "spontaneous" mob assaults on the embassy of a friendly power, with cops standing by and doing nothing. We pay a couple of billion per year to keep Egypt afloat, and now we have cynically pulled down the moderates in that country. This is Jimmy Carter's embassy crisis all over again, and it's no accident. Muslim Bro Morsi just went to Tehran to show common cause with the Islamic fascists over there. His fascism suits theirs, like Hitler and Mussolini, even if they are Shiites and he is a Sunni, enemies for the last thousand years.

In Egypt, Coptic Christian churches have been burned, and priests killed. Egyptian tanks -- US-made main battle tanks -- have been sent into the Sinai Desert near the Israeli border. Turkey is now run by a neo-Ottoman gang of thugs. Insanity is running amok again, and the New York Times can't see anything wrong. But that's the New York Times for you.

Obama has just publicly refused to meet with Benjamin Netanyahu while he is in our country attending the UN General Assembly. Too busy, says our hero. It's too hard to schedule.

The Democratic Convention surrendered to American Muslims with an elaborate prayer meeting, while dropping God and Jerusalem from their official platform. American Jews are fast losing power and influence, and radical Muslims are bringing Shari'a to America. You can see it happening.

Most American Jews are still brain-locked, because they are liberals. Half of American Jews will still vote for Obama rather than admit they were wrong -- disastrously wrong -- about liberalism ever since the radicals took over in 1968.

Obama's surrender signals are understood all over the world, except at home. The United States no longer stands for freedom and democracy. Those are capitalist bourgeois values, and Obama sneers at you if you hold them dear. "If you built a small business you didn't make that." You are the subject of the state, which means you're under Obama and his commissars. When Obamacare takes over, your very life will be at their mercy.

The United States now stands with the forces of destruction, the forces of women's oppression. American feminists couldn't care less, because they don't care about women, any more than Stalin cared about peasants and workers. The twenty-year genocidal Sudanese regime is sitting on the UN Human Rights Commission, along with Iran and other sadistic tyrannies. The nuclear horse is out of the barn in Asia and the Middle East, while America and Europe are being driven into bankruptcy by the same ruling elite that bashes its democratic opponents, the real enemy in their eyes. Obama leaks word that his favorite bedtime reading is "American declinism" -- a good thing, apparently, to our worst president.

If you point out those facts you're a racist, and the average American is more afraid of being accused of racism than murder. After only four years in power Obama has the ship of state rocking dangerously back and forth, with Arctic icebergs floating ever closer. The ship's captain is drunk on power and ego, and his inner circle hate the ship. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs just told the world he would not want to be "complicit" in Israel's effort to defend itself from a genocidal enemy. "Complicit." Yes, that's what he said, and in this gang you know the word is coming from the top.

The Democrats are run by leftist radicals who want to turn America upside down -- that's what the word "revolution" means. They have fielded organized Occupy mobs, with central training, slogans, and tactics and a media claque. They have shape-changed the ACORN thuggery under different guises, and our obedient media can't seem to figure it out. The Occupistas have trashed downtowns all over the country, just for practice, and in some places racist flash mobs have attacked whites and Asians. The left has raw demagogues at its disposal --- Jeremiah Wright, Louis Farrakhan, Al Sharpton. They make their living from racial blackmail.

Obama and his minions have turned this election into the first trash-talking campaign in living memory. Without a shred of evidence Mitt Romney has been called a felon, a tax-cheat, a corrupt capitalist, a hater of women. The left gets away with it, and that tells them they are in control. Nobody dares to oppose them since they control the Organs of Propaganda -- the media and the schools.

Israel is now scheduled to be the sacrificial lamb for Obama's declinist sabotage. But Japan also depends on American defense guarantees, and so do Taiwan, the Philippines, and South Korea. Europe is defenseless without us. China just grabbed millions of square kilometers of mineral-rich ocean, by turning one tiny island into a Chinese "city."

Obama said nothing.


This is the Carter-Reagan election of 1980, where we barely escaped Jimmy Carter's "declinism" by the skin of our teeth. It's the Chamberlain-Churchill struggle that saved Britain from the Nazis, after dreadful suffering. It's the surrender of the Sudetenland to Hitler, and the Yalta surrender to Stalin.

Mind-locked ideologues like Obama always make things worse. They surrender to aggressive radicals, hoping the crocodile will swallow them last. But nuclear crocodiles don't have to play nice.

Obama wants to be historic, and he is. He will be remembered, not as the first black president of the United States, but as the worst black president of the United States. That is unfortunate, but history will judge by performance even if the voters are suckered.

If we luck out, we might be able to elect future presidents based on the content of their character, not the color of their skin.

James Lewis


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

All the Islamophobia You Can Shake a Stick At

by Daniel Greenfield

Any concerns about Islam can be dismissed as illegitimate by attaching a "phobia" at the end of it, and the power of the "phobia" is not just limited to killing debate about the famously moderate religion, but any "extreme" versions of it as well.

Most Americans were introduced to the term "Islamophobia" after the Muslim massacre of thousands of people had played out in their streets, their cities and on their television screens. Just when Americans had good reason to fear Islam, they were cautioned that such fears were symptomatic of an irrational and bigoted Islamophobia working its way through their reptile brains.

Eleven years later the number of Islamic phobias has proliferated as wildly as rabbits on a warm summer day or Al-Awlaki tapes at a London mosque. Any concerns about Islam can be dismissed as illegitimate by attaching a "phobia" at the end of it, and the power of the "phobia" is not just limited to killing debate about the famously moderate religion, but any "extreme" versions of it as well.

The Muslim Brotherhood, an organization drawing its inspiration in equal parts from the Koran and Mein Kampf, whose author's credits include Hamas and Al Qaeda, coined the term "Ikhwanophobia", which it defines as "the fear and or hatred of the Muslim Brotherhood members and their ideologies."

There are no hard and fast numbers on the spread of Ikhwanophobia, but anecdotal evidence appears to suggest that Egyptian Christians and Liberals are among the major groups stricken with the dreadful and often fatal disease.

As part of its Anti-Ikhwanophobia campaign, the Muslim Brotherhood (Al-Ikhwan Al-Muslimun) unveiled an Ikhwanophobia website to alert infidels to the harmful effects of fearing the Brotherhood. Members of the Muslim Brotherhood, who were irreparably traumatized by the fear in a Christian woman's eyes as they were burning her house to the ground, are encouraged to talk about their secret shame.

" aspires to open a new gateway for Ikhwanophobia victims encouraging them to share their sufferings," the site announces. And there may even be an Oprah special in the works. But the proliferation of Islamic phobias does not end there.

Much as the atom bomb began an arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union; Islamophobia began a phobia race between Sunni and Shiite Islamists. The Shiite Islamists of Iran responded to the Sunni Islamist Brotherhood's Ikhwanophobia by discovering Shi'itophobia.

According to Iran's Fars News Agency, the United States, Mubarak and Israel conspired to spread Shi'itophobia throughout Egypt. "Cairo's efforts to spread the Shi'itophobia were made at the order of the Zionist regime of Israel and were exercised on the basis the US plots." The poor wording of the article may give us some insight into the mind that could coin a word like "Shi'itophobia".

It is unclear how long Shi'itophobia has been around, but Vince Vance & The Valiants' 1980 hit single, "Bomb Iran" was probably an early representative of the genre. At the Tehran International Book Fair, a Dr. Farzin Banki warns that Shi'itophobic books must be identified and dealt with. Considering the treatment received by Salman Rushdie's book, there is no doubt that the Mullahs are expert at handling Shi'itophobia.

Not to be outdone by the Muslim Brotherhood and the Iranian Mullahs, the Salafis, currently everyone's definition for Islamic extremism, have also developed their own phobia. In response to Ikhwanophobia and Shi'itophobia, Egyptian Salafists unveiled "Salafi-phobia".

"We are trying to hammer home the message that Salafists are normal people," an Egyptian Salafist told CNN, without acknowledging that Salafists with hammers are the last thing that anyone wants to see. "We eat the same food, drink the same beverages and frequent the same hangouts. So don't be surprised when you find Salafists sitting next to you at Costas, sipping lattes." And then possibly blowing up the place on the way out.

While the Muslim world has been criticized for a lack of mental health treatment options, Islamists, to their credit, have already discovered more phobias than Sigmund Freud. Dr. Freud however would have commented on the psyches of people who insist on uncovering phobias in others while neglecting to analyze their own faults. Not to mention the mental state of mass murderers who insist that fear of them is an irrational phobia almost as serious as the severe case of Acrophobia that gripped dying office workers in the World Trade Center on September 11.

Not content with dismissing all criticism of Islam as Islamophobia, Islamists have begun generating sectarian phobias for each violent group and subgroup. The proliferation of Ikhwanophobias, Shi'itophobias and Salafiphobias is a symptom of the Islamophobia that Muslims feel for each other. And it will not end until there are more phobias to be found in Islam than in the APA's entire Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Amid all the Ikhwanophobias, Shi'itophobias and Salafiphobias, it is curious that no one has yet been diagnosed with Ahmadiphobia. Ahmadis are routinely persecuted and killed by other Muslims, but the media does not appear eager to alert Pakistani Muslims that they might be coming down with Ahmadiphobia. There is similarly no Bahaiphobia, Yazdiphobia or any phobias involving non-violent Muslim sects. Instead all the phobias, Ikhwanophobia, Salafiphobia and Shi'itophobia appear to be of violent Muslim groups—almost as if there is nothing irrational about those phobias at all.

Daniel Greenfield


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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Why Hasn't There Been Another Palestinian Intifada?

by Alexander H. Joffe and Asaf Romirowsky

Is the Arab Spring an 'intifada'? And why haven't the Palestinians joined in?

The intifada or 'throwing off' was the spontaneous Palestinians grassroots rebellion against Israel that began in the fall of 1987. Much like the beginnings of the Arab Spring in Tunisia, the rebellion spread quickly in the pre-internet days across the Palestinian territories and Gaza and captured the world's attention. Within a few short years, however, it was usurped by the PLO and Yasir Arafat. As befitting the Internet age, the Arab Spring has now largely been usurped more quickly by Islamists around the Arab world.

For the Palestinians the Arab Spring has produced hard choices. While the star of Arab nationalism has fallen everywhere, among the Palestinians in the West Bank it is still alive, kept on life support by international aid, the Israeli military, and an unquantifiable sense of dread at the prospect of a Hamas takeover. Hamas has been regnant in Gaza since 2007. Repression and immiseration have resulted. The choice for Palestinians in the West Bank is stark and all stakeholders have made the Faustian bargain to retain the repressive and kleptocratic Palestinian Authority over the murderous and theocratic Hamas. An intifada by choice seems unlikely there, but an accidental one cannot be dismissed.

But broader forces are also at work. Outside of Gaza Palestinians are stranded between two of their core cultural beliefs. The first is unending opposition to Israel. 'Steadfastness' means rejecting the existence of the Jewish state, and this is manifest at all levels of Palestinian society, from school textbooks to summer camp programs, to TV shows, literature and poetry. Virtually any peaceful interactions with Israelis are scorned as 'normalization,' and Israel is vilified by official Palestinian Authority and Hamas media not simply as the existential Other but in classically antisemitic terms as the eternal evil of global Jewry, parasitic and bloodthirsty.

At the same time there is another Palestinian imperative that is both cultural and socio-economic, the absolute necessity to maintain international aid. In per capita terms Palestinians have long been the world's largest recipients of aid, far outstripped the vastly more impoverished regions of Africa and Asia. The Palestinian sense of entitlement is also absolute; any suggestions of cuts in direct aid or to UNRWA, the UN organization that maintains the third or fourth generation of 'refugees' who have been denied or refused to resettle in the Arab world, are met with anger, shock and threats. Intifada threatens aid, as does statehood, at least eventually.

How billions in aid have been spent is something else. Spending on the bloated public sector and the binge of construction and infrastructure projects throughout the West Bank account are obvious for only some of the money. Still, Western donors, interested as ever in buying quiet, have not been too curious about Palestinian corruption that has diverted unknown amounts. Israel, too, has been more interested in the status quo.

Without this aid the Palestinian economy could not have made the impressive gains it has registered under prime minister Salam Fayyad. The quiet that has been purchased benefits all parties including Israel, but is probably unsustainable in an era of European economic collapse and American austerity. Fayyad warns all visitors that peace and quiet requires continued funding. Enough unpaid salaries could itself spark an intifada, against the Palestinian Authority.

Coping with these requirements and maintaining solidarity with Arab and now Islamist uprisings is a delicate affair. Vicious Palestinian incitement keeps the national cause alive by focusing on Israel and the Jews as the sources of all Palestinian misfortune. Loud but desultory moves toward a 'unilateral declaration of independence' give the impression to Palestinians that statehood is on the horizon. The purported infrastructure gains impress Western donors, as does the relative quiet, and the cash flow supports the Palestinian economy.

The 'UDI' strategy also cleverly positions Palestinians to pursue their long-term goal of eradicating Israel by co-opting additional United Nations institutions. This 'long march through the institutions' has the spread the delegitimization and stigmatizing of Israel widely and at a low cost. The failure of UDI efforts rally the cause while the successes undermine Israel, but the speed of change is slow enough to maintain the illusion of peace and all-important Western aid.

These balances, appearing to support larger causes while maintaining dependence on aid, exerting pressure on Israel while remaining dependent on it again Hamas, are not political genius on the part of the Palestinian Authority but a unique confluence of interests. Cashing checks while inflicting damage is the bottom line for the Palestinian Authority and its global support network of intellectuals, lawyers and NGOs. Maintaining quiet while facing the vastly more threatening problem of Iran is the bottom line for Israel. And for Europe and the United States the issue is maintaining quiet while rebuilding the international economy and while the convulsions of the Arab Spring play themselves out. Whether deemed appeasement or containment, the price tag is a few billion dollars annually and a relatively low level of Palestinian terrorism.

In the past week, as UN reports about Palestinian economy were made public, president Mahmoud Abbas has tried to get the jump on Hamas by orchestrating protests against his own prime minister, Fayyad. By loudly proclaiming a "Palestinian Spring" Abbas is again simultaneously demanding aid, staying ahead of his own street, and just behind the larger Arab world.

But in the long-term these contradictions will not be sustainable. Islamist victors emerging from the Arab Spring will eventually demand Palestinian direct action. Even a marginal Palestinian or Islamist group can easily set the region ablaze. The recent Sinai terrorist attack on Israel has produced an angry crackdown by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood government and a confrontation with Hamas only the basis of its timing and toll of Egyptians killed. But it has also allowed Egypt to move armor, anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons into Sinai in contravention of the Camp David Accords. An intifada-like spark could ignite a direct confrontation between Egypt and Israel.

All parties would be losers in such a scenario but none more than the Palestinians. Ironically, the culture that invented intifada now has the most to lose. But it appears unlikely that lesson can be transmitted to the Arab and Muslim worlds.

Alexander Joffe is an archaeologist and historian. He is also a Shillman/Ginsburg Fellow at the Middle East Forum. Asaf Romirowsky is an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Forum and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.


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Profs. LeVine and Zunes Plot to Globalize BDS

by Cinnamon Stillwell

What do Middle East studies professors do when they're not in the classroom? Write books? Engage in research? Advance important scholarship? Conduct outreach to students? In the case of two anti-Israel activist professors—Mark LeVine, University of California, Irvine history professor, and Stephen Zunes, professor of politics and international studies and director of the Middle East studies program at the University of San Francisco—plotting strategies for furthering the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel is the unfortunate answer.

In his latest Al-Jazeera op-ed, LeVine conducts an interview with Zunes on the all-important question, "Can the BDS Movement Go Global?" Attempting to address the failures of the BDS campaign, which stem in part from accurate criticism that it "singles out Israel" and also leads to what Zunes describes as "spurious charges of 'anti-Semitism,'" the always-inventive professor has come up with the following solution:

[W]hile there are dozens of countries that are major human rights abusers globally, there are only three current cases of what the United Nations and the international community formally recognises as foreign belligerent occupation and/or the denial of self-determination of a recognised non-self-governing territory: Israel and its occupied territories, Morocco and Western Sahara, and Armenia and small strip of Azerbaijani territory. Virtually no major international companies support Armenia's current occupation. However, a number of companies support Morocco's ongoing illegal occupation of the nation of Western Sahara in a matter comparable to companies that support the Israeli occupation.

I argue that the Palestinian solidarity struggle would be considerably strengthened if, instead of calling for divestment specifically from companies supporting the Israeli occupation, international activists called for divestment from companies supporting both occupations.

Zunes spends much of the interview intoning the language of human rights and international law and to his credit, is on record acknowledging global threats to human rights, even when they emanate from Islamic regimes (of course, he usually manages to somehow blame the U.S. in the process). Yet when it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict, Zunes, like so many of his peers, loses all objectivity and engages in the very single-minded fixation—some would call it an obsession—that he purports to decry. Moreover, his claim that broadening the BDS campaign would "help bring attention to the little-known but important self-determination struggle of the Sahrawi people against the illegal and oppressive Moroccan occupation of their country," comes across as a cynical ploy to punish only the alleged "occupier"—never mind that neither the West Bank nor Gaza is occupied—he really cares about: Israel. He even acknowledges as much, albeit without realizing it:

. . . it would help move the debate away from a divisive pro-Israel vs anti-Israel dichotomy, where people often end up just talking past each other, to where the debate belongs: human rights and international law.

In other words, Zunes is using the Sahrawi cause to further the pretense that the BDS campaign is about "human rights and international law," not about delegitimizing Israel.

Zunes acknowledges the challenges of implementing his vision, which include opposition from within the BDS camp, but fails to realize that the Palestinian cause, such as it is, is so grounded in hatred, supremacism, and narcissism that its proponents are unlikely to forge alliances that involve focusing on other "struggles." To do so would be to admit that the Palestinians aren't the center of the universe and also to allow factual comparisons, two things that don't tend to sit well with this crowd.

Indeed, LeVine, after noting that he "wrote a similar call for a more universal BDS movement in 2005," adds that:

[M]any left-wing activists were uninterested, while Palestinian activists and scholars, however sympathetic, felt Palestinians were in such a lopsided situation against Israel that they couldn't afford to also boycott other countries such as the U.S. or China. They also argued that no other anti-occupation or pro-democracy movement was presently calling for a BDS style campaign, and that if one did, they would support it.

Convenient excuses aside, I wouldn't hold my breath.

Perhaps we can be thankful that neither LeVine nor Zunes's plans to globalize BDS are likely to pan out, even as we wonder why a UC Irvine history professor and the director of USF's Middle East studies program don't have something better to with their time.

Cinnamon Stillwell


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