Friday, November 30, 2012

Mordechai Kedar: Egypt in Dire Straits

by Mordechai Kedar

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

Ever since Mubarak was forced to resign in February 2011, the sense of a new dawn has swept over Egypt. Grand words and phrases such as “democracy”, “civil rights”, “freedom” and “state of institutions” have become the focus of political discourse, because of the sense that all of those fine characteristics of democracy have finally come to Egypt. As citizens of a state that has been treading on the path of independence and sovereignty for more than two hundred years, the Egyptians have been waiting for their turn to board the democracy train and enjoy its advantages, which many other peoples have been doing, among them peoples who have overthrown dictators and won their freedom only a few years ago, like the peoples of Eastern Europe.

For the first time in the history of modern Egypt, true, not rigged,
elections were held for parliament and the presidency, and for the first time the people of Egypt saw how their sweet dream to be a state of its citizens is coming true, a state of constitution and law, of law and order, not the state of a dictator and his sons where every decision is an expression of the personal interest of someone who no one knows when – if at all – his autocratic rule will come to an end. The immediate expression of these hopes was supposed to be an upgrade to the Egyptian economy and an increase of per capita income. In a country where tens of millions live in unplanned neighborhoods, without running water, sewage, electricity or telephone, economic welfare is a matter of existential importance, and without it, life is too much like death.

But the greater the hope, the greater the disappointment. Almost two years have passed since the beginning of the “Spring” and Egypt only continues to slide down the slippery, dangerous slope into the swamp of political, civil, constitutional, and administrative problems, with almost no control of how things develop as they bring Egypt closer to the brink. The paralysis that has taken hold of the government is an obstacle to any progress in the wording of the new constitution, which was supposed to give the country a set of consensual and binding rules of the political game, and the rage over the lack of these rules drives many Egyptians out of their minds.

The elected president, Muhammad Mursi, a representative of the long-standing and well-known Muslim Brotherhood movement, at first enjoyed much credit from the public at large, but is now perceived in these troubled times  as the new dictator, after issuing a few “constitutional declarations” which grant him broad powers over other governmental agencies, particularly the legal system. He dismissed the attorney general, despite the claim that he had no authority to do so. According to Mursi’s “declarations”, his decisions are not subject to legal review, not even by the high court. Many Egyptians – even those who believed in him, supported him and voted for him – now feel that two years ago they managed to overthrow a civilian dictator and in his place they got a religious dictator. In the summer, when he dismissed Field Marshall Tantawi and other military commanders, his prestige increased in the eyes of most of the citizens of the country because this step was interpreted as the end of the rule of officers and the beginning of civilian rule.  Even the cruelty of the military in breaking up the demonstrations against him added to Mursi’s popularity, since he was seen as an opposing force to the military. However, he quickly lost a significant portion of the public credit because he failed to reconvene the parliament after it had been dispersed by the high court and because he did not convene the committee for drafting the constitution.

Mursi's public struggle with the legal guild arouses the anger of opponents and supporters alike: his opponents rage over his attempts to control the legal system, which is supposed to be free, professional and without political bias, and his supporters are angry because he has not controlled this elite, professional class, which is not elected, but imposes its agenda on the state. With the military, Mursi succeeded to avoid conflict, but this is because he does not dare touch the economic monopolies from which the military makes a very good livelihood. The reason that Mursi did not take over the assets of the military is because he needs loans from the deep pockets that the military controls without oversight of the office of treasury or the tax authority.

On top of the sense of failure of the state, there is the poor performance of the Cairo stock market, which fell in recent days by about 10 percent. This decline means that many citizens of the country have lost a significant part of their savings, which only worsens their sense of lack of personal security. In addition, a sharp decline in the market indicates a depreciation in investments, in sources of employment and livelihood, even for those who do not invest in the stock market. The Egyptian economy, which suffers severely from the lack of foreign investment and tourism, depends today almost solely on one source of hard currency – fees of passage in the Suez Canal. This is the reason that those who govern the state do not speak at all about cutting off relations with Israel. Because the atmosphere of a tense security situation – even if it has not actually deteriorated to acts of hostility –will cause an immediate increase in the fees for insurance for ships that pass through the canal, reduce the profitability of using it and cause severe damage to this important source of income.

An important economic detail is the fact that it is now difficult for Egypt to get a loan from the international bank without these loans being guaranteed by other countries. Europe, which is sunk in its own economic problems, cannot be a guarantor for Egypt, and the United States grants guarantees in exchange for a political price like keeping the relations with Israel and strict adherence to the trappings of democracy. The lack of international funding might force the government of Egypt to reduce the subsidies on food, mainly on bread, ‘arifa, which serves as basic food to the citizens of the state. Any increase to the price of bread, even the slightest, might cause millions of citizens to stream into the streets and threaten the government with the slogans of the “revolution of the hungry”. This has happened several times in the past, and the last thing that Mursi needs is to harm the weakest class of the Egyptian people, those who spend most of their income on buying the most basic food items.

The Muslim Brotherhood movement, which won the lion’s share of the seats of parliament and the office of presidency, lost a great deal of the sympathy that it once had in recent months, because of complaints that all it wants is authority and power so that it can enjoy the pleasures that derive from it - the budgets and fat salaries that its leaders get. Even among the supporters of the Brotherhood there is a concern that the moment they came to power they distanced themselves from the people and have become the ruling elite, interested only in staying in power at all costs, at the expense of the population and other civil bodies.

Long Live Tahrir Square

The sense of having lost out politically, together with the sense of hunger drives Egyptians again to Tahrir Square, from where, perhaps, deliverance might come, but the various existing trends within the population turn the demonstrations into violent conflicts, causing many sacrifices on an undefined altar. Is this the freedom that they prayed for? Is this the democracy that they fought for? Is this the state of orderly institutions that they hoped for?

The disappointment is greatest among the young, liberal, secular generation, university graduates, those who with their own bodies overthrew Mubarak. They have the sense that  “they stole my revolution” because what they got instead of Mubarak is the regime of the Muslim Brotherhood,  always suspected of actually being controlled by the “General Guide” of the movement, who controls the elected president – so they feel – like a puppet on a string. The presidential commands that Mursi issues throw Egypt back to the era of darkness and shadows, because also in the days of the military dictatorship since 1952, oppression was totally legal and based on government documents and presidential edicts. The liberal groups fear that the Brotherhood intends to implement Islamic Shari’a as the law of the land, and they fear that representatives of the government will begin spying on their moral conduct and checking if what they drink and eat is in accordance with the laws of Islam. The Copts, the Christian minority that sees itself as the original Egyptians, feel the noose closing around their necks, as their businesses are broken into, their houses are burned, their churches are attacked, their men are murdered and their women are humiliated. They are fleeing from Egypt in hordes and try to take their assets, like many intellectuals, and also some Muslims, who have understood  in recent months that Egypt is slipping quickly and uncontrollably into a bitter and violent reality, totally different from what they hoped for in the past two years. Every businessman, actor, artist and academician, that leaves Egypt because of the situation, increases the sense of desolation for those who remain and increases their fear that they will be like mice that were unable to leave the sinking ship.

Disappointment encompasses many sectors of the populace: the failure of the president to convene the constitutional committee, causes delays in formulating laws of the political game, and each side sees this as harming the goals of the revolution: the religious expect the constitution to be something that will ensure religious rule over the whole cycle of life, whereas the secular sector expects it to be a defense from religious rule controlling their free lives. Disappointment with the dysfunctional system is expressed in the public arena, and the slogans that appear on signs in the demonstrations of recent days are amazingly similar to the slogans of the demonstrations of two years ago against Mubarak: “Get Out”, “The People Want to Overthrow the Regime”. However, this time there are also new slogans such as: “Down with the Rule of Badi’” (the general guide of the Muslim Brotherhood), “Down , down with the Regime of the Guide”, “Civil Disobedience”, “Cancel the Dictatorial Edicts”, and “We Want a Constitution”.

Another matter that raises the ire of many is the acquittals and light sentences that were given to the officers of the police and army, who were accused of killing demonstrators, and the acquittals that Mubarak and his sons got in some of the things that they were accused of. Every few days, demands are made to stand the symbols of the former regime to trial, even for matters that they have already been acquitted of, and when this demand is accompanied by violence, these people might find themselves again on trial and this time they will be convicted only to quiet down the street. Is this how a justice system is supposed to conduct itself?

The turbulent atmosphere creates violent physical conflicts between groups of demonstrators, and demonstrations where groups with contradictory ideas are represented cause people to come into very violent contact with each other. Demonstrators attempt to break into government offices, police stations, economic institutions, and Western embassies and the police try to tone down the level of violence by using tear gas, clubs, and even live fire. But the police violence increases the violence of the civilian demonstrators and causes more injuries. The public immediately demands an investigation of the police brutality, but this demand, which is never met, increases the rage of the demonstrators against the violent regime, which is deaf to the sensitivities of the public.

The demonstrations are not limited to Tahrir Square in Cairo. Other cities like Alexandria, Asyut, Aswan and Suez have also seen violent demonstrations in recent days, and the army has not yet been brought into play. It sits on the side and allows the many sides to wear each other out. The president tries to calm things down,] claiming that the undemocratic steps that he has taken, mainly placing his decisions above judicial review, are temporary steps that will be cancelled when the other institutions, mainly the parliament, begin to function. But Mursi is not convincing anyone, and some of the members of his opposition have brought back the tents to Tahrir Square, as if to tell him: “We are not moving until we overthrow you like we overthrew Mubarak”.

The Conspiracy Theory

The fact that Egyptian society lives in very crowded conditions means that anything anybody says is heard by many people. Rumors and theories spread among the population at lightning speed, and the weirder the theory, the more people believe it. The rumors going around today are that it is the remnants of the Mubarak regime who are causing Egypt’s problems in the Mursi era, and they just want to cause the collapse of the new system so that everyone will long for the days of Mubarak.

The most interesting rumor is that the president of the United States supported the overthrow of Mubarak so that the Muslim Brotherhood would come to rule a state that is impossible to extract from the swamp its problems, and thus Obama would cause the Muslim Brotherhood to go bankrupt politically and lose its image. According to this theory, the whole process of the past year and a half, where the Muslim Brotherhood won the parliament and the presidency, was part of the American plan, and perhaps even a Zionist plan, that is intended to throw the Muslim Brotherhood into a trap, economically and administratively, where they will bleed to death.

Another claim frequently heard is that every time a demonstration becomes an instance of mass violence, “our” side demonstrated peacefully, “silmiya” , but the other side, who oppose us, infiltrated into the demonstration and created provocations against the police and public institutions, throwing stones and Molotov cocktails, in order to get the police to beat us and then the media would make us out to be violent and uncultured. This claim is heard from all sides.  

But the newest conspiracy theory came lately from the study houses of the Salafi imams. They claim that the source of Egypt’s troubles is the remnants of the Pharaonic, heretical culture, which remains within the public arena in the Land of Islam, chiefly the Sphinx and the pyramids. He who dwells on high sees those statues and monuments as symbols of idol worship, and thinks that whoever would leave them standing on the soil of Egypt is perpetuating the Pharaonic heresy. Allah is furious at Egypt because of this, and causes Egypt to suffer political, public and economic plagues. The necessary conclusion to be drawn from this theory is that Egypt must expunge all remnants of the Pharaonic culture, including those in museums, because only then will the wrath of the Almighty be assuaged and Egypt will be cured of its ills. We saw a similar approach during the nineties in Afghanistan, which suffered from a long drought, and to quiet the rage of the Creator of the world, the Taliban smashed the two enormous, ancient statues of Buddha that were carved into the mountain in the area of Bamiyan, despite worldwide protests. One may assume that this fanatical attitude of the Taliban regarding cultures that preceded Islam was part of the justification of the war that the world began against them towards the end of 2001, following the attacks of September 11 in the United States. What would happen in Egypt if the Sphinx and the pyramids were destroyed, as some Salafis demand?

Egypt seems today like a rickety cart that strong, immense horses are pulling in different directions: the Muslim Brotherhood, the Salafis, the seculars, remnants of the Mubarak regime, the military, the police, the General Intelligence Service, the president and the “street”,  and these are in addition to the American, European and international forces, chiefly the International Bank. Will the cart survive the pressures and remain whole or perhaps it will shatter into little pieces, and every area in Egypt will solve its problems by itself. Will the Egyptian cart emerge whole from its straits? Time will tell. Is this an “Arab Spring”? That is not clear at all.


Dr. Kedar is available for lectures

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 with permission from the author.


Additional articles by Dr. Kedar

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.

- Original materials copyright (c) by the author.

UN: Palestine is Now a Non-Member State;

by Barry Rubin

Reality: Palestine Will Continue to be a Non-Existent State

By Barry Rubin

Twenty-four years ago, almost to the day, in 1988, I stood in a large hall in Algeria and saw Yasir Arafat declare the independence of a Palestinian state. And that was forty-one years, almost to the day, after the UN offered a Palestinian state in 1947. Twelve years ago Israel and the United States officially offered a Palestinian state as part of a compromise at deal in the Camp David summit of 2000.

Arguably, despite all their errors, the Palestinian movement has made progress since those events, though it is not very impressive progress. Yet in real terms there is no real Palestinian state; the movement is more deeply divided than at any time in its history; and the people aren't doing very well. 

Now the UN will probably give Palestine the status of a non-member state. The only thing that will change is to convince people even more that they are following a clever and successful strategy. They aren't.

Perhaps in 24 or 41 years there will actually be a Palestinian state.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest book, Israel: An Introduction, has just been published by Yale University Press. Other recent books include The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center  and of his blog, Rubin Reports. His original articles are published at PJMedia.


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The Problem With Multiculturalism

by David Solway


Most conservative observers are of the opinion that multiculturalism as it has been understood and practiced is nothing short of a social and economic disaster. And it must be said they are largely, if not entirely, correct. The multicultural project in its contemporary form suffers from two grievous flaws: the filter is too wide, allowing into the country unskilled people who are poorly equipped to participate in a modern, technologically oriented economy and who consequently become a financial burden to the nation, disproportionately swelling the welfare rolls; and, no less critical, many of these immigrant groups import the hatreds, prejudices and conflicts of their countries of origin, sequester themselves with official approval into closed or aggressive enclaves, and often cause violence and disruption in the public life of their new home. (Rape and “grooming” statistics compiled in the U.K. give a dataset that leaves in no doubt the ethnic make-up of the great majority of offenders.)

Of course, in those cases where immigrant societies, while preserving their cultural habits and religious beliefs in the private sphere, make every effort to integrate into the public domain, to respect the laws, assumptions and folkways of their host, and to contribute to the economic vitality of their adopted country—in such cases, multiculturalism may be said to have succeeded. We are, after all, a country of immigrants. Nearly everyone has an ancestor who was not born here. But in every Western country, whether in North America, Europe or parts of Australasia, there is one immigrant group whose more radical members refuse to adapt to the heritage culture, insist on the supremacy of their ideas and customs, shamelessly milk the dole, create havoc and mayhem, and pose a serious threat to the security and wellbeing of the larger population.

Not long ago I spent an afternoon at Kingsmere Park, the historic estate of legendary Canadian prime minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King, near the capital city, Ottawa. It was filled with thousands of weekend visitors enjoying the vast landscaped gardens, rustic dwellings and architectural ruins erected by King, who was prone to eccentric visions of grandeur. I was, however, more impressed by the people than by the site itself. They represented a microcosm of the Canadian census, the changing and multi-hued face of the country, brown, black, white and every shade in between, some speaking languages I could not identify, others in languages that I could, and English in a bewildering variety of accents and intonations. Many were garbed in a panoply of exotic costumes. But they were Canadians, experiencing a piece of Canadian history, reading the pamphlets and brochures provided by the service personnel, pointing out objects of interest to their children, and participating in the festive atmosphere of the place.

I spent most of the afternoon strolling about Kingsmere fascinated by the prism of citizenship before me. But I did not see a single hijab, or burka, or abaya, or chador, or niqab, or shalwar. I did not hear a syllable of Arabic. So far as I could tell, or at any rate on that particular day, a certain ethnic cohort seemed to be entirely absent.

A month or so later I attended the November 11 Remembrance Day ceremony in Ottawa, a profoundly moving event that brought me to tears, as it did many others among a multitude so large it could not be reliably counted. The laying of wreaths, the war veterans parading by, some in wheelchairs, the busby-topped buglers, the multi-denominational speeches, the jets flying at low altitude, the 21-gun salute—all brought to mind the debt of gratitude we owed to our soldiers and relit the candle of patriotism, too often guttering or extinct, for one of the more decent and tolerant countries on the planet. Recalling my earlier experiment at Kingsmere, I began canvassing as much of the crowd as was feasible under the circumstances to determine its composition; and, as at the national site, it seemed no less chequered and comprehensive. I did note one woman in a hijab staring impassively at the proceedings, but apart from this anomaly, even after several hours, I was unable to detect a single one of her congeners. Again, a certain ethnic cohort appeared to be massively un-or under-represented.

The parallel memorial in Toronto, however, featured at least two Muslim women, who made their presence felt not by honoring Canada’s war dead and her living heroes but by disrupting the ceremony, screaming obscenities at the crowd. A scuffle then broke out among some of the participants although no arrests were made—probably because this would have been offensive to a certain ethnic group. Food for thought, although not especially appetizing fare.

The fact that Luton in the U.K. saw much greater abuse, the burning of poppies and the jeering at and taunting of British soldiers returning from Afghanistan, is no consolation. The point is, to put it bluntly, that such people should not have been welcomed into a democratic country with a history of sacrifice and traditions of loyalty that require respect. They are not genuine citizens but an obstreperous and unproductive fifth column that works against the viability of the country that has taken them in. And many seem to have all the time in the world to attend protests and demonstrations when other people are busy at their jobs—as I recently observed at a vehement pro-Hamas rally before the Israeli embassy—so that it seems clear they are the welfare beneficiaries of the very society they seek to subvert.

Here, once again, we are presented with the problem of multiculturalism as it is currently implemented: we have opened the gates to seditionists on the one hand and parasites on the other, two categories that frequently coalesce. We need not be as strictly exclusionary as, for example, Switzerland, where citizenship is difficult to obtain. (My aunt, who worked for the International Labor Organization in Geneva and has resided there for most of her life, waited for years before citizenship was finally granted.) But if we are to be candid and scorn the travesty of political correctness, we should admit that citizenship is a precious gift and that it needs to be earned and deserved.

This does not militate against any race, religion or ethnicity, and we know that there are peaceful, law-abiding, responsible and productive members of any and every immigrant group, without exception. Therefore, the argument I am making for a rational immigration policy is neither “racist” nor “xenophobic,” the favorite slanders of the liberal-left political class that has a vested interest in promoting indiscriminate multiculturalism. On the contrary, as philosopher Roger Scruton, in a speech reported by The Brussels Journal, has eloquently maintained, “the problem posed by the large-scale immigration of people who do not enter into our own…way of life” affirms the right “of indigenous communities to refuse admission to people who cannot or will not assimilate.” The host society’s failure to sift wisely among aspirants to citizenship leads inevitably to “inter-communal strife” and to the political and cultural trauma of “states that have been irreversibly changed through immigration”—changed by those who refuse allegiance “to a shared home and the people who have built it.”

The principle holds. Immigration policy in general should be louvered toward the proper criteria of admissibility: capacity to contribute to the life and prosperity of the nation, and willingness to integrate. Anything less produces costs in political dissidence, cultural upheaval and fiscal extortion we are increasingly unable to defray.

David Solway


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The French Connection – To Anti-Semitism

by Ari Lieberman


When it comes to the Jews, the French have a long, checkered history of treachery. French anti-Semitism is well known and deeply embedded in French culture. It therefore comes as no surprise that France will likely be the first major Western power to recognize Palestinian statehood, according to a statement released by the French Foreign Ministry.

No doubt, the continued Arab migration to France and the influence Muslims wield in that spineless country played a role in shaping France’s disastrous foreign policy decision. Yet the French decision is consistent with their perfidious past and it is likely that they would have embarked on the same trajectory with or without indigenous Muslim influence.

The French prefer to think of themselves as an enlightened people but the sad fact is that French cultural anti-Semitism is among the most insidious and embedded of all of Europe. Assimilated or not, Jews have always been the preferred target of the French cultural elite and French history is peppered with such examples.

Consider the infamous case of Alfred Dreyfus, a captain in the French artillery corps and fully assimilated Jew, falsely accused by the French military establishment of passing military secrets to the Germans. Dreyfus was arrested and charged with treason by French authorities in 1894. He was found guilty by a French kangaroo court and spent the next four years of his life on Devil’s Island. Despite overwhelming and incontrovertible evidence of his innocence, French authorities, infected with anti-Semitism from the top down, refused to budge. It was not until 1906 that a French military commission fully exonerated Dreyfus.

It is no secret that among the Western nations occupied by the Nazis during World War II, the French were the most willing collaborators going well beyond what was requested of them by their Nazi masters. It was not until 1995 that the French acknowledged their dastardly role in their systematic efforts to exterminate French Jewry. The stench of French collaboration and the role they played in the murder of their own citizens, simply because they were of Jewish decent, will remain a permanent stain on France.

In 1967, when Israel was under existential threat from her Islamic neighbors, French President Charles de Gaulle initiated an arms embargo on Israel and refused to deliver 50 Mirage Vs, which had already been paid for by Israel. Adding insult to injury, the French sold the aircraft to Qaddafi’s Libya, a sworn enemy of the Jewish State.

Iraq under the murderous Saddam Hussein maintained close relations with France. Indeed, France among all the Western powers, stood out as Iraq’s closest ally. French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac even referred to Hussein – the man who threatened to “burn half of Israel” and who provided cash for the families of homicide bombers – as his “personal friend.” France was also instrumental in providing Hussein with a nuclear reactor despite justifiable fears that such a reactor would be used by Hussein to produce WMDs.

France has a long history of cozying up to anti-Western characters. She provided safe haven to Ayatollah Khomeini and embraced arch terrorist Yasser Arafat as well as Syria’s former President and serial killer Hafez al-Assad.

As recent as this year, France’s consul general in Jerusalem engaged in historical revisionism by issuing an asinine statement that attempted to sever the historical Jewish nexus with the Land of Israel. In a speech on archeology in Israel, Consul General Frederic Desagneaux made repeated references to “Palestine’ and “Palestinian archeology” without once referencing Israel or Jews, as if the history of that region began and ended with so-called Palestinian Arabs.

The French now come full circle with their recently announced intention to recognize Palestinian statehood. The French ambassador to London once referred to Israel as “that shitty little country.” Judging by France’s collaborationist past and its associations with less than reputable characters, the ambassador’s pejoratives accurately describe France to a T.

Ari Lieberman


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No Palestinian State Without Recognizing Israel as Jewish State

by Yoni Hirsch, Boaz Bismuth, Shlomo Cesana and Daniel Siryoti

Prime Minister Netanyahu: There is only one way peace can be achieved — through direct negotiations without preconditions • U.N. General Assembly expected to approve a Palestinian petition seeking observer state status.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (left) with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at U.N. headquarters in New York on Wednesday.
|Photo credit: AP

Yoni Hirsch, Boaz Bismuth, Shlomo Cesana and Daniel Siryoti


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Oren: Media Bias Helps Terrorists

by Alana Goodman

In response to the Washington Post ombudsman’s comparison of Hamas missiles to “bee stings” the other day, Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren took the media to task in WaPo’s opinion section this morning. Oren doesn’t single out ombud Patrick Pexton directly, but it’s clearly implied
Media naturally gravitate toward dramatic and highly visual stories. Reports of 5.5 million Israelis gathered nightly in bomb shelters scarcely compete with the Palestinian father interviewed after losing his son. Both are, of course, newsworthy, but the first tells a more complete story while the second stirs emotions.
This is precisely what Hamas wants. It seeks to instill a visceral disgust for any Israeli act of self-defense, even one taken after years of unprovoked aggression.
Hamas strives to replace the tens of thousands of phone calls and text messages Israel sent to Palestinian civilians, warning them to leave combat zones, with lurid images of Palestinian suffering. If Hamas cannot win the war, it wants to win the story of the war. …
Like Americans, we cherish a free press, but unlike the terrorists, we are not looking for headlines. Our hope is that media resist the temptation to give them what they want.
As Oren writes, this is exactly the kind of coverage that benefits Hamas, and the frustrating part is many journalists don’t seem to have a problem with it. Israel has the right to use force to defend its own people from attacks, but media figures like Pexton act as if any response is out-of-bounds simply because Israel has a strong military.

To give an analogy, there are no reliable estimates of Taliban and insurgent casualties in Afghanistan, but the numbers are obviously much larger than the number of fallen NATO forces. Add in the number of Afghan civilian casualties (the majority of them killed by the Taliban and its allies) and that would greatly outweigh the number of NATO fatalities. The Taliban also fights with unsophisticated weapons, improvised explosive devices and Soviet-era rifles, and limited training. Often the Taliban blows up its own fighters while setting up IEDs; in some cases they fail to go off or are detected. Meanwhile, the U.S. has the greatest military the world has ever seen. Not only do NATO troops have access to far superior weapons and training, but billions are spent on counter-IED efforts and protective gear.

Yet serious journalists don’t contrast the number of NATO fatalities with the number of insurgency fatalities (or lump in Afghan civilian deaths with Taliban deaths) without putting it in proper context. They don’t compare the Taliban’s IEDs and small-arms attacks — which have caused horrific NATO casualties — to “bee stings on a bear’s behind.” They don’t describe U.S. defense against insurgency attacks as “disproportionate,” or set it up as a David v. Goliath scenario. 

Hamas is as much a terrorist group as the Taliban, but they are not treated that way by a large portion of the media. As Oren argues, this type of coverage will only encourage more violence from Hamas, not less.

Alana Goodman


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Congressional Report: Hizballah a Border Threat

by John Rossomando

The United States border with Mexico remains open to exploitation by Hizballah and other Islamic terror groups that have aligned themselves with Mexican drug cartels, a report released Wednesday by a House Homeland Security Committee subcommittee finds.

The report, "A Line in the Sand: Countering Crime, Violence and Terror at the Southwest Border" warns that increasing ties between Middle East terrorist groups and Mexican drug cartels allows terrorists to enter the United States undetected.

"This is an area that has gone largely ignored and overlooked, and yet it is right in our backyard," subcommittee Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas., said during the hearing. "We talk about the Middle East a lot and we talk about North Africa and Egypt and Libya, and yet something's happening not too far from here that I think the American people have no idea the threat level that it presents to us."

Intelligence gathered during the 2011 raid of Osama bin Laden's compound showed that al-Qaida contemplated using operatives with valid Mexican passports to enter the United States to conduct terror operations.

"… [T]he U.S.-Mexican border is an obvious weak link in the chain. Criminal elements could migrate down the path of least resistance and with them the terrorists who continue to seek our destruction," the report says.

Existing weapons and human smuggling networks along the Mexican border give terrorists confidence that they will be able to plan and execute major terror attacks that require a long-term presence in the United States, the report says.

McCaul led a fact-finding mission to the Tri-border region of South America of Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina to see the Hizballah threat first-hand, concluding that Iran and Hizballah pose a serious threat to the U.S. southern border.

"What we are seeing here is a marriage between Hizballah, the [Iranian] Quds Force and these drug cartels," McCaul said.

A substantial link between Hizballah and the drug cartels was exposed in the indictment of Ayman "Junior" Joumaa, a Lebanese national who was accused of selling 85,000 kilos of cocaine to Mexico's Los Zetas drug cartel from 2005 to 2007.

"This nexus potentially provides Iranian operatives with undetected access into the United States," the report says.

"If there is, God forbid, a strike from Israel into Iran, the retaliation will be certain, and it will be swift, not just against Israel, but in the entire Middle East, and it will also expand into this hemisphere," McCaul said. "It will light up Hizballah operatives I think in Latin America; it will also activate Hizballah cells in the United States."

John Rossomando 


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Providing a Platform for Terror

by Samuel Westrop

If we really want to take an effective stand against extremism, we should not obsess over the extremists; rather, we should tackle those who facilitate, empower and legitimize extremism. The worst culprits are particular British Members of Parliament – elected officials whom we employ to safeguard our liberties and democratic rights but who betray these duties in favor of promoting the work of terror advocates. We have given terror and its apologists a platform, while we deny truth, reason and accountability a voice.
On the 28th November, Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn will be hosting an event organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in the British House of Commons with Mousa Abu Maria, an activist for the proscribed terrorist organisation Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). Abu Maria will be speaking as part of a panel discussion – the conclusion to an anti-Israel lobbying day held by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC). The PSC is the leading anti-Israel organisation in Britain, whose members are accused by human rights activists of practising Holocaust denial and supporting terrorist groups such as Hamas.

Abu Maria spent several years in prison in Israel for his membership in the PIJ and for throwing Molotov cocktails. In 2003, he was released as part of a prisoner exchange. Five years later, he was placed in administrative detention, once again because of his connections to the PIJ. His appeals to the Israeli High Court of Justice were rejected.

Although Abu Maria claims he is no longer involved with the PIJ, as recently as May 2012 he has been photographed standing next to PIJ member Khader Adnan while holding a poster which declared support for Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahleh.

Mousa Abu Maria (far-right) standing next to PIJ member Khader Adnan while holding a poster declaring support for Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahleh.

Abu Maria's organisation, the Palestine Solidarity Project (PSP), also took part in a demonstration in Nabi Saleh in April 2012, in which they displayed posters in support of a number of violent terrorists.

On the posters in the photo below, right to left: Ahmad Sa'adat of the PFLP, Marwan Barghouti of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades (he is serving 5 life sentences for murder) as well as Bilal Diab and Tha'er Halahleh of Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

This is not the first time that Corbyn has provided a platform for individuals linked to terrorism. In the past, he has played host to, inter alia, the Palestine Return Centre, a British lobbying group which openly supports Hamas; and Djab Abou Jahjah of the Arab European League, an organisation which has published anti-Semitic cartoons and voiced support for Samir Kuntar, the terrorist who beat a small Israeli girl to death on the beaches of the Israeli coastal town of Nahariya.

Corbyn has described Israel's Operation Cast Lead, the last major conflict with Hamas in 2009, as a "military ethnic cleansing of the area". Regarding the recent Israeli Operation Pillar of Defense - which worked to destroy Hamas rocket stockpiles after over 700 missiles were fired at Israeli civilians since the beginning of 2012 - Corbyn has noted: "There is no limit to the hatred and persecution emanating from Israel toward these people [the Palestinians]."

Last year, Corbyn invited the Islamist hate preacher Raed Saleh to speak in Parliament. Saleh is a leading supporter of Hamas, and is known for his anti-Semitic and homophobic views. He has claimed that 4000 Jews skipped work at the World Trade Centre on 9/11 and that those who killed the "Martyr, Sheikh Osama Bin Laden" had "sold their consciences to Satan, and that the honour killings of girls is acceptable. One of Saleh's poems includes the lines:
You Jews are criminal bombers of mosques,
Slaughterers of pregnant women and babies.

Robbers and germs in all times,

The Creator sentenced you to be loser monkeys,

Victory belongs to Muslims, from the Nile to the Euphrates.

Saleh is best known for his frequent invocation of the 'blood libel' -- an ancient anti-Semitic claim that Jews kill children to use their blood to make bread at Passover. Even a British court concluded that Saleh's comments were hateful of Jews.

Despite the evidence of Saleh's animosity to Jews, Corbyn has continued to demonstrate support for him. Most alarmingly, in response to the uproar at the prospect of Saleh's appearance in the House of Commons, Corbyn has backed calls by Saleh's lawyer for an inquiry into supposed Jewish influence within the Conservative Party, falsely accused of organising the opposition to Saleh's visit.

Corbyn enjoys being described as an "anti-fascist". By invoking the language of human rights, Corbyn has managed to escape the condemnation he so rightly deserves. As a Member of Parliament and as a veteran of the Labour Party, Corbyn's support for people such as Abu Maria helps to legitimize the very existence of pro-terror groups.

It is little surprise that now, over a year later, Corbyn is once again providing a platform to a terror activist at the heart of the British establishment. Alongside Abu Maria, Corbyn's fellow panellists include Baroness Jenny Tonge, who was forced out of the Liberal Democrat Party after she stated: "Beware Israel. Israel is not going to be there forever in its present form. One day, the United States of America will get sick of giving £70bn a year to Israel to support what I call America's aircraft carrier in the Middle East – that is Israel. One day, the American people are going to say to the Israel lobby in the USA: enough is enough. Israel will lose support and then they will reap what they have sown."

Furthermore, echoing a Hezbollah blood libel conspiracy claim, Tonge has previously suggested that Israeli medical teams were harvesting the organs of children in Haiti.

In 2009, Corbyn announced, during an address at a rally by the far-Left group Stop the War Coalition, that he was proud to be hosting an event in Parliament with "our friends from Hezbollah". Hezbollah, like Hamas, is listed by the USA and Israel as a terrorist organisation. Its attacks have murdered Jews all around the World, from the bombing of a Jewish culture centre in Argentina to the suicide bombing of a bus full of Israeli tourists in Bulgaria. In 2006, Hezbollah terrorists crossed over the border from Lebanon into Israel and attacked an Israeli army patrol -- sparking a war in which thousands died. Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader, has condemned the idea of peace with Israel and has said, "If they (Jews) all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide". According to Jeremy Corbyn, however, Hezbollah is working to "bring about long term peace and social justice and political justice in the whole region".

There is an important difference between tolerating extremism and empowering it. The former permits persons such as Abu Maria to argue on behalf of his ideology at privately organised events. Empowering extremism is quite different and unreservedly self-destructive – by providing pro-terror activists a platform in the House of Commons, we sanitize their work and legitimize their message.

Alarmingly, Corbyn is just one example. The empowerment of extremism is a cross-party sickness. Last month, Jane Ellison, a Conservative MP, hosted a meeting in Parliament for the 'Save Shaker Aamer' campaign. Shaker Aamer is the last British resident held in Guantanamo Bay. The Save Shaker Aamer campaign and the organisations that support it, however, do not fight to preserve habeas corpus, but rather they defend Aamer's support for the Taliban. During her involvement with this issue, Ellison has been happy to share platforms with pro-Taliban groups such as CagePrisoners and Hamas supporters such as Yvonne Ridley.

A cursory search of British media archives reveals hundreds of editorials, opinion pieces and polls debating whether to give far-right groups a platform – most concluding they should not. And yet of the Islamists and terror activists who support terrorism against Jews, the execution of homosexuals and the stoning of adulterous women, the media has published almost nothing.

Indeed, the small amount of coverage that does exist has even been sympathetic. Mahmoud Abu Rideh, for example, a Saudi Arabian national who was detained by British authorities in 2001 and placed under a control order in 2005, worked closely with the hook-handed hate-preacher, Abu Hamza, and was accused of fundraising for and distributing funds to al Qaeda groups. In spite of this, Amnesty International and CagePrisoners campaigned on his behalf – both groups implying he was the innocent victim of a conspiracy.

Further, the Guardian and the Independent – two of Britain's largest broadsheet newspapers – ran puff pieces that painted Abu Rideh as a persecuted refugee who just wanted a peaceful life, and featured photographs of Abu Rideh's children looking despondent. And yet in 2010, Abu Rideh was killed in Afghanistan while fighting alongside the Taliban. We have given terror and its apologists a platform, while we deny truth, reason and accountability a voice.

Both Corbyn and Abu Maria have adopted the title of human rights activists; the latter claiming he is "committed to the non-violent struggle for freedom and equality for all". It is possible to understand who a person is by examining what sort of company he keeps: Corbyn's support for Hamas and Hezbollah, and Abu Maria's involvement with the PIJ reveal that their putative commitment to human rights is nothing more than a fa├žade – one that hides a far more sinister support for ideological forces with a sworn aversion to peace.

Despite the calls by Jewish groups for Abu Maria to be denied entry to the UK, it seems unlikely that the British Government will act. The continuing invitations by MPs such as Corbyn for pro-terror demagogues to speak in the British House of Commons is fast becoming the norm – voices of a hijacked humanitarian narrative promote extremism and hatred unchallenged by politicians, media and human rights organisations. We have given terror and its apologists a platform, while we deny truth, reason and accountability a voice.

Samuel Westrop


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

Hamas: A Pawn in the Sunni-Shiite War

by Harold Rhode

Shi'ite Iran, from its inception in 1979, saw Sunni organizations, such as Hamas, as tools with which to undermine the Sunni rulers, who control most of the Arab world.
A full scale Middle Eastern, Islamic type of war between the Sunnis and Shiites is raging. Officials in Washington are doing their best to label it anything but a war; when asked if it is a war, they seem to react in fear, and ignore the issue by saying, "We must do our best to ensure that such a war does not happen."

By refusing to label what is going on a war, however, we may well be preventing ourselves from devising policies which would address the problem, and make it evolve in the best interests of the US.

Historically, Islamic warfare has not necessarily been one in which large armies have fought each other, at least at the beginning of conflicts. What usually happens is that there are what we in the West call "terrorist raids," in which opposing sides send small raiding parties into each other's territory. These raids are ongoing and cause both sides to live in a constant state of tension with one another.

The dispute then festers until one side is strong enough to vanquish the other; from that day on, each side lives in an uneasy relationship with the other. The vanquished look for an opportunity to avenge their loss. Sadly, Middle Easterners culturally are unable bring themselves to "let bygones be bygones" – a concept totally alien to Middle Eastern culture. Disputes therefore fester, then erupt when one side perceives the other as weak.

When Khomeini arrived in Iran in February 1979, one of the first statements he made to the media on the tarmac was that "he had come to rectify a wrong which took place 1400 years ago." Westerners thought this somewhat quaint and obviously irrelevant. All that interested them was what he had to say about the Shah, America, and Israel. To Westerners, especially Americans, who dismiss things that happened a few days ago, Khomeini mumbling about some event that took place centuries ago seemed irrelevant. Middle Easterners, however, who never forget perceived wrongs, knew exactly what he was talking about. When the Muslim prophet Muhammad died in 632 CE, a fight broke out among the Muslims as to who would inherit the leadership of Islam. Those who supported their prophet's family eventually became known as the Shi'ites. Those who supported what might be labeled the "establishment" in Mecca became known as the Sunnis.

The Shi'ites were defeated and their leaders were, one by one, murdered by the Sunnis, who proceeded to take over the larger part of Muslim world. Sunnis and Shi'ites – especially in areas where they live together - still refight that battle, which took place almost 1400 years ago. Moreover, thanks to the easy way information travels, Sunnis and Shi'ites know more about each other than in the past, so this battle now also takes place even where Sunnis and Shi'ites never knew each other. What ended up being most important to Khomeini was not the Shah, therefore, but devising a strategy to rectify what he considered the great wrong that took place so long ago: bringing down the Sunni rulers and their version of Islam, and replacing them with the "true," Shi'ite, version of Islam.
No wonder Saudi rulers, who are members of an extreme Sunni version of Islam called Wahhabism, and their fellow Gulf Cooperation Council Sunni-ruled Gulf States, understood immediately that Khomeini was a mortal threat.

Sadly, our political establishment, who, as Westerners, simply do not live as deeply in history, had an immensely difficult time -- and still do -- assimilating Saudi, Jordanian, Egyptian, and other allied leaders' concerns.

In addition, on 9/11, Osama bin Laden vented his rage, blaming the West for what it did to Islam 80 years ago. Western experts of the Middle East racked their brains trying to figure out what that meant, but to Sunni Muslims, the answer was obvious: the Ottoman Caliphate was abolished by Ataturk and his colleagues. Many Muslims believe this degradation was imposed on Turkey after its defeat in World War I. For Sunnis, the Ottoman Caliph, the rightful ruler of the entire Muslim world, had been humiliated by people who could not have been Muslims. For Shi'ites, the abolishment of this "usurper" institution was a relief; the Sunni ruler, they believed, wanted nothing more than to destroy Shi'ism, the only "true" Islam.

As for last week's mini-war between Israel and Hamas, the members of Hamas are Sunni fundamentalists; it therefore seems it would be only natural for the Sunni world to support them. But Iran, from the inception of the Islamic Republic in 1979, saw organizations such as Hamas as tools to help them undermine the Sunni rulers, who control most of the Arab world.

Iranians understood that they could not stand up to the Arab world militarily, so Iran looked for Arab causes to support, which would demonstrate to the Arab masses that their rulers were weak and unable to solve problems, such as Israel's existence in the heart of the Arab and Muslim world, and the tyranny under which Arabs live.

First, the Iranians took over the Israel issue. For many years, Arab rulers had talked about defeating Israel but kept failing, thus heaping shame and humiliation on the Muslims -- in Middle Eastern culture, a fate worse than death. So Iran took on the Israel issue, which is, at best, peripheral to Shi'ites. For Shi'ites, the supposed holy status of Jerusalem is a Sunni innovation. The "holy status" was invented by hated Sunni rulers about 50 years after Muhammad's death, and thus to Shi'ites is an illegal innovation. Iran seems to have calculated that if it made this Sunni issue its own, and it stood up to the Israelis, it might gain the support of the Sunni masses against their rulers, and thus help Iran destroy these Sunni rulers and thereby win an important battle in their unending 1,400 year war against the Sunnis.

In Lebanon, moreover, Iran created Hizbullah, a Shi'ite military organization – actually an arm of the Iranian military -- which eventually fought Israel to a standstill in 2006. This was a huge public relations boost for Iran: no Sunni leaders had ever before managed to best Israel. Almost no Arab rulers complained about Israel going into Lebanon, while at the same time the head of Hizbullah, Hassan Nasrallah, instantly became a folk hero in many parts of the Arab world.

For Iran, Gaza was an opportunity too good to pass up. Iran developed ways of supplying Hamas with weapons to use against Israel, making use of Egypt's marginal control of the Sinai Peninsula that abuts Gaza. Over the past few years, Iran has supplied Gaza with missiles and rockets that could hit Tel Aviv, and has brought Hamas operatives to Iran for training.

After the so-called ceasefire, Ismail Haniyeh, one of Hamas's senior political leaders, went out of his way to thank Iran for its help. Thereafter, Iran dispatched a ship with missiles to resupply Hamas with missiles.

Egypt, by contrast, appeared not to want trouble on its border with Israel, and worked with Israel to rein Hamas in. Egypt's fundamentalist Sunni ruler from the Muslim Brotherhood, Muhammad Morsi, did not, as one might have expected, side with Hamas -- a sub-branch of the Egyptian Muslim brotherhood -- against Israel. Morsi seems to have many reasons for avoiding a conflict:
  1. Egypt's economy is collapsing; Morsi needs American economic support or he will not be able to feed his people.
  2. If Egypt attacked Israel, Israel might destroy Egypt's military, which currently is no match for Israel's; so it is in the Egyptian military's interest to keep the peace.
  3. If Morsi fights Israel, his military -- which is still in place from the days of Hosni Mubarak, even though, upon assuming power, Morsi replaced its leaders, and which benefits from American military largesse and which controls vast parts of the economy -- might overthrow him.
  4. Morsi wants to consolidate his power at home, and then, after becoming a modern pharaoh, push the Muslim Brotherhood's agenda not only to re-Islamize Egypt, but also the rest of the Muslim world. This plan may be tall and clearly long-term, but ever since the Muslim Brotherhood's founding in 1928, that has been its main goal. Morsi is himself a senior member of the Brotherhood.
  5. The timing of Hamas's attack on Israel put Morsi in a bind: even though he had not yet consolidated his power, if the situation had gotten truly out of hand, Morsi might have been forced into confronting Israel.
Combining all of these reasons, Morsi won the day: he mediated between Hamas and Israel, stopped the conflict from zooming out of control, and pacified the Americans who would now feel required to continue the economic, military and even political support Morsi so desperately needs to keep his sweeping new authoritarian powers beyond the reach of any check or balance. By not getting into a war with Israel, Morsi kept the Egyptian military at bay.

It is therefore not surprising that Morsi felt he could strike now in Egypt and grant himself these full dictatorial powers – far greater than Mubarak ever had – and there would be nothing that America, now feeling indebted to him, would do about it.

The Sunni fundamentalist Morsi is still engaged in an existential battle with the Iranian Shi'ites for the hearts and minds of Islam. Each side loathes the other. If one side triumphs in this 1,400 year old conflict, the other side loses. From Morsi's point of view, however, it seems that this fight must wait for another time.

Iran seems to be losing everywhere. In Syria, where its Alawite rulers are an offshoot of Shi'ism and recognized by many Shi'ite authorities as Shi'ites, Iran is losing this war to the more numerous local Sunnis.

Lebanon is also unstable; Hizbullah members there appear unsure how they can survive without the support of the Syrian Alawites. Iran is also a long way off, and it is not easy to resupply Hizbullah from there.

In Sudan, Iran's weapons plants have been destroyed. It was weapons from these factories which made their way to Gaza.

Could Israel's massive destruction of Hamas's rocket and missile capability be one more step on the road to eliminating Iran's nuclear program? Iran's allies are being destroyed or weakened, one by one. Sudan and Gaza are gone, at least for the time being. The Syrian regime does not appear to be winning its ruthless war against its insurgents. Will Hizbullah be able to remain strong without weapons coming in from Syria? Clearly, Hizbullah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, cannot, whatever he says, feel so secure: he has spent most of the past few years hiding underground from the Israelis. Shi'ite-ruled Iraq is preoccupied with its internal problems. Iran is gradually being left to stand alone. If Israel attacks Iran, Iran no longer has any useful Muslim allies to help it against the Israelis. Iran would therefore have greater difficulty confronting Israel.

In the end, Hamas was a pawn for Iran in the Sunni-Shiite war. Its leaders may be wondering where to turn, now that Egypt is ruled by fellow Sunni fundamentalists. For the moment, at least, Egypt does not seem to want to provoke Israel. Both Hamas and Iran, therefore, stand to gain from continuing their close relationship. Morsi understands that the Iranians want nothing more than to have the Sunnis confront Israel and lose -- a defeat which would help Iran in its war against the Sunnis.

Hamas has become a tool for both the Sunni and Shi'ite fundamentalists to use in their battle not only against the non-Muslim world, but against each other. If, in the Middle East, bygones cannot be bygones, this battle will continue until Allah decides which side is the most worthy and makes sure that side wins.

Harold Rhode


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