Saturday, December 22, 2012

Into the Abyss

by Melanie Phillips

To an astonishing silence by the media on both sides of the pond, the US along with the UK and a number of European governments is leading the west into an abyss. I have repeatedly noted here that the US, UK and France helped bring to power in Egypt Islamic extremists hostile to the free world, and were threatening to do something very similar in Syria. Now they have indeed done so by recognising the Syrian National Council as the legitimate leader of the Syrian opposition.

The thinking behind this is to designate the al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra as a terrorist group, while supporting the Muslim Brotherhood – which dominates the Syrian National Council -- as a reasonable alternative. But this is the same catastrophic mistake the US et al have made in Egypt. For the Brotherhood are not a reasonable alternative to Islamic extremists hostile to the west. They are themselves Islamic extremists hostile to the west.

The disastrous implications of this fundamental strategic mistake were spelled out in a
forensic piece by Jonathan Spyer in the Jerusalem Post. As Spyer observed:
     ‘The difference between the Salafis and the Muslim Brotherhood affiliated groups is one of degree, not of kind.
     ‘... The focus on Jabhat al Nusra should not obscure the fact that the better-organized, non-Salafi, home grown, Muslim Brotherhood elements that the US is        backing are no less anti-western and no less anti-Jewish.
    ‘Could things have been different? As with Egypt, perhaps, if the west had perceived the risks and opportunities clearly at the start. This might have triggered a vigorous policy of support for non-Islamist opposition and fighting elements, which were there.
    ‘The result is that the force now facing the retreating Assad regime is split between differing brands of Sunni Arab Islamism, some aligned with the west, some directly opposing it, but all holding fast to fundamentally anti-western ideologies.’

Barry Rubin
spells out even more starkly the looming disaster for the west from its idiocy over Syria:
    ‘American intelligence agents in southern Turkey supervise the handover of weapons to the rebels. They make no attempt to stop arms from going to the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists while they make no attempt to funnel the guns to moderates. The only restriction is that they not go to al-Qaeda-affiliated Salafists.
    ‘One day, those guns will be used to commit unspeakable atrocities against Christians and other minority groups just as they will be used to install an Islamist regime and to kill or intimidate its opponents.’

The mistake being made by the US and the rest is as deep-seated as it is egregious. The campaign in the west to promote the Muslim Brotherhood (to its motto: ‘Islam is the solution’ one obviously has to ask, ‘But what is the problem?’) as helpful allies against those who want to bring the west down has been making relentless and dismaying progress into the establishment for years – an establishment that refuses to see the Brothers for what they are, in essence because it refuses to acknowledge that what the west is now up against is a religious war. From that most profound and seminal error, all follows.

But when you look at Barack Obama, you see another factor at work which is not simply the strategic stupidity that results from an appeasement mentality, nor a myopic view of the national interest, nor the unsurpassed arrogance and ignorance of cultural hubris, all of which drive western foreign policy.

Just look at Obama’s favoured candidates for the two US administration positions central to the defence of the west. They are both people whose attitudes would in fact deeply endanger it still further. John Kerry, tipped to become Secretary of State, is an anti-war activist and left-wing fantasist who, despite serving as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, is such a man-made global warming fanatic that he
believes climate change is
    ‘as dangerous as any of the sort of real crises that we talk about’

ie, as dangerous as say, Syrian chemical weapons or a nuclear Iran.

The record of Chuck Hagel, Obama’s favoured candidate for Defence Secretary, is more troubling still, as outlined
here. He has consistently downplayed Iran’s terrorist record and the danger it poses to the free world. He consistently voted against sanctions on Iran to stop its pursuit of nuclear weapons capability; he voted against naming Iran’s Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization; and he refused to sign a letter calling on the European Union similarly to name Hezbollah – which has the blood of countless Americans on its hands -- as a terrorist organisation. Instead, he advocates ‘engaging’ with Iran – ie, appeasement, which he prefers to parse as
    ‘ “... a bridge-building process, an opportunity to better understand” others on the basis of “mutual self respect.”’

This is all of a piece with his attitudes towards Israel and the Jews. Not only is he associated with gross anti-Israel canards which reverse truth and lies, but he also
said that
    ‘the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here...’

‘up here’ meaning Washington.

Whether or not these men are actually appointed is not the issue. The key point is that Obama wants to appoint them, from which we may infer that he believes they will enact his own vision of foreign and defence policy.

What therefore is the factor that Obama brings to the west’s dismal foreign policy table as illustrated by these truly appalling choices? Malice. Against the west, and also against the ancient civilisation that lies at the heart of its moral codes. Factor that into the truly stupendous myopia and worse of Britain and Europe, and you are looking at the emergence of a new world order: the eclipse of the west, brought about by the unholy alliance between the Obama administration and death-wish Britain and Europe – and leaving Israel, once the forward salient of the west in the Middle East, emerging instead as the lonely and isolated defender of liberty in the face of the gathering Islamic storm.

Melanie Phillips


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Obama Gives Cold Shoulder to Egyptian Secular Democrats

by Michael Meunier

Michael Meunier
When Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited Egypt last July, she was met with widespread protest from Coptic Christians and secular activists objecting to what they all believed was the Obama administration's role in helping the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) ascend to power in Egypt.

The secretary asked to meet with 10 Christian leaders, myself included. All of those invited refused to meet with her and boycotted her visit. Most of us had been both publicly and privately warning members of Congress and the administration of the danger the Muslims Brotherhood poses and about their desire to turn Egypt into a theocratic Islamic fascist country. Yet we were ignored.

Going back to April 2007, Democrats made special efforts to link up with the MB when visiting then-House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., met with Saad el-Katatni, the MB's parliamentary leader, at former U.S. Ambassador Francis Ricciardone's home, at a time when then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has publically refused to meet with the Brotherhood.

Mr. Ricciardone, who I can call a friend, once told me that his friendship with another MB leader, Essam El- Erian, extended for close to 30 years. Perhaps that was the catalyst for this meeting and subsequent meetings that took place at his residence.

A stream of meetings, as well as public and private contacts, followed between current U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson and Brotherhood members since her arrival in Egypt shortly after the revolution. The ambassador seemed to favor the Brotherhood and the hard line Salafis over the rest of the secular players in Egypt.

In fact, she has turned down requests for meetings from heads of political parties and other secular politicians, myself included, who oppose the Brotherhood.

Other U.S. officials such as Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and Sen. John Kerry made the pilgrimage to MB headquarters and made sure to meet with their shadowy influential leader, Khairat El-Shater, at times even publicly praising him Kerry did. Those visits were made during a time where no political group had emerged as a leader in post-revolution Egypt.

The MB used these high-level meetings to tell the Egyptian people that the U.S. is supporting them and does not object to their rule. Many of us reached out to U.S. officials at the State Department and complained that the U.S. policy regarding the MB was putting the secular forces in Egypt at a disadvantage because it seemed to be propping the MB, but our concerns were dismissed.

We warned of the MB's desire to impose Sharia law once in power and the grim effect it would have on the rights of the millions of Christians and moderate Muslims, and on women and children, yet all of our warnings were dismissed. It seems that a policy decision was made to bring the MB to power in Egypt at all costs, and it happened.

After less than six months in office, President Mohamed Morsi issued an edict exempting his decrees from judicial review, and he is now forcing Egyptians to vote on a constitution that would impose Sharia law, violate human rights and religious freedom of Christians, degrade women, regulate child labor and kill the tourism industry for violating Islamic Sharia.

Youth and large portions of the Egyptian population responded to the president's new powers and draft of the constitution by taking to the streets and surrounding the presidential palace in protest.

Morsi then sent his own armed militia to attack the protesters with numerous weapons including shotguns, swords and firebombs.

The Brotherhood militia killed 10 people, wounded hundreds and kidnapped top youth activists, and tortured them inside the presidential palace for two days before turning them over to the police.

As the Supreme Constitutional Court was poised to dissolve the constitutional assembly, Morsi again sent his Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi militias to besiege the courthouse and prevent the judges from entering the building.

Upon arrival, the judges were turned away by the militia after their lives had been threatened, and to this day the militias are still surrounding the courthouse preventing the judges from meeting.

The president wanted to prevent the court from dissolving the assembly until after he pushes the referendum through and the constitution becomes effective.

Morsi again sent his armed militia to burn down the opposition Al-Wafd Party headquarters in response to the opposition and media stepping up their protests and criticism of the constitution, which large numbers of Egyptians reject and view as a setback for freedom.

They demolished cars and fired shots at the Al-Wafd Party, which is the oldest secular party in Egypt. Another set of Morsi's militia besieged "Media City" where most of the independent TV channels are located. The militia attacked TV anchors known to disagree with Morsi and prevented TV guests who are known to oppose Morsi from entering the city, so they could not appear on TV and criticize the referendum.

Simultaneously, another group of the Morsi's militia attacked the headquarters of newspapers knowing to oppose Morsi and the referendum. The Al-Watan newspaper was among the newspapers whose editor-in-chief went on TV to appeal to the president to stop his militia from attacking reporters and the newspaper building.

Through this all, President Obama's position amounts to, "This is an internal matter and we leave to the Egyptian people to sort out!!"

What the Brotherhood is doing in Egypt is holding a gun to the head of its opposition trying to pass a constitution that so far failed to garner a greater support among Egyptians.

Once that becomes the law of the land, the race is on to turn Egypt into another theocracy headed by an Islamist fascist regime that soon after will threaten the security of the free world. At the heart of it is the Obama administration and its failed foreign policy, and what I see as the desire to destroy moderate Egypt and turn it over to the fanatic elements of the society, creating a monster that will turn on its creator.

Michael Meunier is the President of Al Haya Party in Egypt. He is the founder of the U.S. Copts Association and a democracy, human rights and religious freedom activist.


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Europe, Face Reality in Jerusalem

by Nadav Shragai

Is the High Commissioner of Palestine returning to the land of Israel? While the British left the land a long time ago, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who is British, hasn't ceased to worry over, keep an eye on, and condemn us — all because of the decision to renew construction in Jerusalem.

For years Ashton and her associates pressured us to accept reality, to face the facts and to recognize the Palestinians' right to a state. Ultimately, and to the chagrin of many Israelis, even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came to terms with the idea.

Now, Miss Ashton, it is your turn. It's about time that you and your colleagues face reality. The Jerusalem you are talking about today is much different than that of 45 years ago, which seems to still be stuck in your heads. This city, part of the Jewish genome, is not up for debate, first and foremost because of the continuous Jewish connection to it throughout the ages and our rights of primogeniture over the city (which has never been an Arab political or cultural capital). 

Beyond these factors, though, you should take a few other facts into account: The area you are accustomed to calling "east Jerusalem," in other words, the area north and south and east of the Green Line that split the city in half during the Jordanian occupation, is home today to some 200,000 Jews comprising 41 percent of all the residents living in this area. Eighty-five percent of the 295,000 Arabs in east Jerusalem were born after 1967 into the reality of a united Jerusalem under Israeli governance, and were never exposed to the reality of a divided city.

They are extremely fearful of Palestinian Authority rule and the division of the city. Tens of thousands of them voted with their feet by crossing the security barrier in north Jerusalem over to the Israeli side, to remain inside the united city. Additional tens of thousands have said in surveys that they will do the same thing if the city is once again divided.

Israel has made mistakes in Jerusalem, but it has also done many good things: The health care system in Jerusalem serves both populations, as does Hebrew University, the Roads Authority, public transportation, shopping malls, electricity grids, telephone wires and the sewage system. The neighborhoods themselves are also intertwined. Even the barriers between the different quarters in the Old City are increasingly blurred. Jews live in the Muslim Quarter; Muslims live in the Christian Quarter. In contrast to the period under Jordanian rule, the holy sites are open to everyone. The only such restriction is against Jews — on the Temple Mount.

When you mention neighborhoods in Jerusalem, you must be accurate: In Beit Tzafafa, a village divided by fences and walls that separated Jordan and Israel, residents today say thanks on a daily basis that the walls have come down, despite the discrimination they suffer. Isawiya, which your spokespeople occasionally refer to as "east Jerusalem," was part of the Israeli Mount Scopus enclave until 1967.

But aside from "little" details such as these, you should write this down for yourselves: Dividing Jerusalem is not only impossible, it also contradicts the wills of the majority of the city's residents, Jewish and Arab alike.

Nadav Shragai


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The Postponed Iranian Crisis

by Dore Gold

At the end of October, Defense Minister Ehud Barak gave a revealing interview to London's Daily Telegraph in which he explained why the urgency around the Iranian issue had changed. Iran was still progressing toward its goal of obtaining nuclear weapons. Israel was still concerned with Iran's stock of 20 percent enriched uranium that could be converted very quickly to weapons-grade uranium. 

But during the course of 2012, Tehran took nearly 40% of its 20%-uranium stock and converted it into fuel rods, which could not be used for nuclear weapons. Theoretically, the Iranians could convert the fuel rods back into 20% uranium and enrich the product to weapons grade fuel, but that would take time. This startling information was not classified intelligence that Barak disclosed to the British newspaper, for it could also be found by carefully reading International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports. 

According to the IAEA report from August, Iran had produced, by the end of last summer, a total of 189 kg (416.7 lbs.) of uranium enriched to 20%. Leading experts had long established that the moment the Iranians obtain 225 kg (496 lbs.) of 20% uranium, they would have enough for their first bomb. In short, Iran was getting dangerously close to that point.

Assuming the Iranians maintained a production rate of 14.8 kg (32.6 lbs.) per month of 20% enriched uranium, the Iranians would have crossed the nuclear finishing line of having the quantity necessary for one bomb by the end of Oct. 2012. This was the red line that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu drew on Sept. 27 during his speech at the U.N. General Assembly. By drawing down 98 kg (216 lbs.) from its 20% uranium stock, Iran was left with only 91 kg (200.6 lbs.) — well below the 225 that it needed for its first atomic weapon. 

According to Barak, "the moment of truth" had been delayed by "eight to 10 months." How did Iran's reduction of its inventory of 20% uranium affect its nuclear calendar? Taking the monthly rate of production of 20% enriched uranium during 2012, Iran should be able to again increase its 20% stock and cross the 225 kg (496 lbs.) threshold by May 2013. Yet, at the time of Barak's interview, there were still a number of unknowns that could affect the new Iranian timeline.

First, it is possible that Iran will continue to divert quantities of 20% enriched uranium to manufacture fuel rods and thereby delay crossing the 225 kg (496 lbs.) threshold. Some might try to use this argument to say that the Iranian threat is likely to diminish. However, the recent November IAEA report indicated that the quantities of 20% enriched uranium are again on the rise: Iran's stock has gone up from 91.4 (201.5 lbs.) to 134.9 kg (297.4 lbs.). Moreover, Iran's stock of low-enriched uranium, according to the report, has continued to grow, reaching 5,688 kg (12,539.9 lbs.), which by itself is sufficient for five or six atomic bombs after it undergoes further enrichment to the weapons-grade level.

Second, there is also a possibility that Iran might even accelerate the rate of enrichment in the coming months. For example, in its hardened Fordow facility near Qom, Iran installed some 1,720 centrifuges for enriching uranium to the 20% level, but it only was using 696 of them. If Iran used all 1,720 centrifuges at Fordow, it could reach the 225 kg (496 lbs.) threshold, which Israel deems a "red line", by Feb. or March, 2013. Fereydoon Abbasi Davani, head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, stated at the end of November that recently there had been a significant increase in the number of centrifuges and what he called an acceleration of Iran's capability in this area will continue during the months ahead.

Earlier in the year, President Barack Obama clearly stated that the U.S. was not planning on containing a nuclear Iran, but rather was prepared to do what is necessary to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, as of late, the U.S. has not sent the strongest signals to Iran, despite it now being clear that Iran is again accumulating greater stocks of 20% uranium. At the end of November, Robert Wood, who was representing the U.S. at the IAEA in Vienna, issued a statement that Iran must not be allowed to indefinitely ignore its obligations. He focused on its failure to answer international concerns about the possible military dimensions of its nuclear program that had been raised by the IAEA in past reports. Then Wood issued what sounded like a March deadline for Tehran. Was the U.S. saying that it was considering a military option if by then Iran still refuses to cooperate? 

All Wood really said was that if there was no change in Iranian behavior, by that time, the U.S. will work with other members of the IAEA Board of Governors to report on Iran to the U.N. Security Council. The U.S. statement was not a real threat to Iran. If there was any doubt, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took out any of the sting from what her envoy in Vienna said when she remarked in answer to a question that March was mentioned because it was an ideal time for negotiations, coming after the U.S. elections and before the June 2012 Iranian presidential elections. Last week, in fact, the State Department spokesman said that the EU was trying to set a date with Tehran for new nuclear talks. 

Iran cut back its stock of 20% uranium during 2012 probably because it believed that before the U.S. elections, the chances were greater that it could face an attack on its nuclear facilities by either the U.S. or Israel. But without any real concern about facing military measures against it, the chances that diplomacy will get Iran to suddenly adhere to its international commitments are minimal. Unfortunately, the dilemmas that the U.S. and Israel faced in 2012 are only likely to have been delayed, requiring both countries to make difficult choices about how to stop Iran during the upcoming year.

Dore Gold


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John Kerry: Obama’s “Perfect Choice” For Secretary of State

by John Perazzo


When Barack Obama nominated John Kerry to be America’s next Secretary of State Friday afternoon, he called Kerry the “perfect choice” to replace Hillary Clinton. Stating that “few individuals … grasp our foreign policies as firmly as John Kerry,” Obama said the Senator will not “need a lot of on-the-job training.” He then praised Mr. Kerry’s combat service in the Vietnam War and his subsequent tenure of service in the Senate, where Kerry has been intimately involved in “every major foreign policy debate for the past 30 years.”

Notably, President Obama made no mention of what occurred after Kerry’s military service and before his political career. Perhaps this is because what Kerry did during that time would be difficult even for an adroit wordsmith like Obama to summarize with just a pithy phrase or two of adulation.

The historical record informs us that not only has John Kerry been on the wrong side of every major foreign policy issue for most of his adult life, including Iraq, Nicaragua and most recently in Syria, but he has routinely engaged in deception to conceal his folly. What’s worse, Kerry has a clear record of giving aid and comfort to America’s enemies, all the while never missing an opportunity to viciously trash our brave forces fighting against them.

With Obama’s nomination of Kerry to head the State Department, therefore, a look back at Kerry’s “service” to this country becomes more pertinent than ever:

After being discharged from the Navy in early 1970, Kerry joined Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) and became a major figure in the so-called “peace” movement, whose hallmarks were a deep wellspring of hatred for the United States coupled with sympathy for America’s Communist enemy. In May 1970, Kerry, without government authorization, met personally with North Vietnamese and Viet Cong delegations in Paris to discuss a list of “peace” proposals enumerated by Nguyen Thi Madame Binh, the top Viet Cong delegate to the Paris Peace talks. In the aftermath of that illegal meeting, Kerry strongly advised the U.S. Senate to accept Binh’s proposals.

At that time, Kerry himself acknowledged that his visit to Paris was “on the borderline” of legality. Actually, it extended far beyond that “borderline.” A federal law known as the Uniform Code of Military Justice prescribed severe punishment (including, in some cases, the death penalty) for any person who “without proper authority, knowingly harbors or protects or gives intelligence to or communicates or corresponds with or holds any intercourse with the enemy, either directly or indirectly.”

During the ensuing months, Kerry, with increasing stridency, continued to exhort the U.S. to accept the Viet Cong peace proposals. His radical VVAW comrades went so far as to sign a “People’s Peace Treaty,” whose nine points were all extracted from a list of Viet Cong conditions for ending the war. Kerry fully supported this treaty.

On April 22, 1971, Kerry famously testified to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations that many U.S. servicemen in Vietnam had “personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war …” “We learned the meaning of free fire zones,” added Kerry. “Shooting anything that moves, and we watched while America placed a cheapness on the lives of Orientals.” Moreover, Kerry emphasized that America’s “war crimes” in Southeast Asia were “not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command.”

Army reports that were unearthed decades later resoundingly discredited the claims of Kerry and his fellow VVAW members, proving those claims to be essentially a pack of lies. When Kerry was running for U.S. President in 2004, the publication U.S. Veteran Dispatch noted that Kerry’s 1971 Senate testimony had “occurred while some of his fellow Vietnam veterans were known by the world to be enduring terrible suffering as prisoners of war in North Vietnamese prisons.” Similarly, retired General George S. Patton III charged that Kerry’s actions had given “aid and comfort to the enemy.” And the organization Vietnam Veterans Against John Kerry stated:
“As a national leader of VVAW, Kerry campaigned against the effort of the United States to contain the spread of Communism. He used the blood of servicemen still in the field for his own political advancement by claiming that their blood was being shed unnecessarily or in vain…. Under Kerry’s leadership, VVAW members mocked the uniform of United States soldiers by wearing tattered fatigues marked with pro-communist graffiti. They dishonored America by marching in demonstrations under the flag of the Viet Cong enemy.”
Yet today, this same John Kerry has been nominated to serve as Secretary of State for the same nation he trashed so relentlessly in the ’70s. Only in America.

After graduating law school, working in a district attorney’s office, and serving a brief stint as Massachusetts’ lieutenant governor, Kerry was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1984. Just a few months later—on April 18, 1985—Kerry and fellow Democratic Senator Tom Harkin traveled to Nicaragua to meet with President Daniel Ortega, whose Communist Sandinista government had strong ties to the Soviet Union and Cuba. Through Kerry and Harkin, President Ortega offered a cease-fire agreement on the condition that the Reagan Administration stop aiding the rebel Contras who were then at war with the Sandinistas. Reagan rejected the offer as a transparent “propaganda initiative” designed to influence an upcoming House vote on a $14 million Contra-aid package, but Kerry said: “I am willing … to take the risk in the effort to put to test the good faith of the Sandinistas.” The House of Representatives ultimately voted against the Contra aid. The following day, Ortega flew to Moscow to accept a $200 million loan from the Soviets. Presumably this was one of the many “major foreign policy debates” in which, by President Obama’s reckoning, Kerry had so impressively distinguished himself.

Unchastened by the evidence of his own poor judgment, Kerry in 1986 supported a “fast for life” initiative by four U.S. military veterans protesting President Reagan’s “illegal and extraordinarily vicious wars against the poor of Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala.” Also in the 1980s, Senator Kerry hired Gareth Porter, a former fellow of the consistently pro-Soviet Institute for Policy Studies, as a legislative aide. And in 2002, Kerry sent his warm greetings to a major gathering of the Democratic Socialists of America‘s Boston chapter.

Kerry’s next opportunity to distinguish himself as a man of exceedingly poor character was furnished by the conflict in Iraq. Initially, Kerry voted to authorize the use of military force against Saddam Hussein, a position the Senator based on his firm conviction—which he publicly articulated on numerous occasions—that Saddam was aggressively seeking to develop weapons of mass destruction. During the weeks and months leading up to the March 2003 U.S. invasion, for example, Kerry made the following statements:
  • “It would be naive to the point of great danger not to believe that, left to his own devices, Saddam Hussein will misjudge, provoke and stumble into a future, more dangerous confrontation with the civilized world. He has as much as promised it.”
  • “If Saddam Hussein is unwilling to bend to the international community’s already existing order, then he will have invited enforcement …”
  • “Without question we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal and murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime. And we all know the litany of his offenses.”
  • “People have forgotten that for seven and a half years, we found weapons of mass destruction [in Iraq]. We were destroying weapons of mass destruction.”
But as the political winds shifted, Kerry and his fellow congressional Democrats began to portray, with ever-growing frequency, the Iraq War as a foreign-policy debacle that had been launched hastily and without justifiable cause.

In 2004, for instance, Kerry charged that President Bush had not only “misled the American people” about the threat posed by Saddam, but also had “arbitrarily” decided that the “time for diplomacy is over” and “rushed our nation to war.” During a presidential debate that October, Kerry said: “Saddam Hussein didn’t attack us. Osama bin Laden attacked us. Al Qaeda attacked us.”

Not content to smear only the Commander-in-Chief, Senator Kerry also accused U.S. servicemen of “terrorizing” the Iraqi people. On December 4, 2005, he told Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation: “And there is no reason, Bob, that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, you know, women …”

For John Kerry, it was 1971 all over again.

In recent years, as columnist Arnold Ahlert has so aptly written, Kerry “has been the federal government’s highest-ranking apologist for Syrian President Bashar Assad.” Indeed it was Kerry who repeatedly tried to undermine the Bush administration’s efforts to isolate the dictator. Under Obama, Kerry has pursued with renewed vigor his impulse to engage Assad. During a January 2009 visit to Damascus, for instance, the Senator listened attentively to Assad’s admonition that Washington must “move away from a policy based on dictating decisions” to Syria. Kerry, in turn, said: “Unlike the Bush administration that believed you could simply tell people what to do and walk away and wait for them to do it, we believe you have to engage in a discussion.” In April 2010, Kerry again met with Assad and called Syria “an essential player in bringing peace and stability to the region.”

Forty-thousand dead bodies later, one tries vainly to reconcile John Kerry’s track record with President Obama’s glowing description of him as the “perfect choice” for Secretary of State. One can only ponder with trepidation what dark days lay ahead for America with this hate-America veteran taking the reins at the State Department.

John Perazzo


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Mounting Tensions Between Turkey and Iran

by Sudhanshu Tripathi

In the already tense and volatile West Asia/Middle East region, a major confrontation has been brewing since early this week between Turkey and Iran due to a recent decision by the government of Turkey to seek Patriot missiles from the NATO powers for deployment along the borders of Syria. 

The decision has led to serious disruption in their prevailing mutual ties which were quite close -- Iran has been a reliable partner of Turkey in recent years. This was evident from the cancellation of President Ahmadinejad's scheduled visit on the previous Monday to Konya, Turkey, where he was to participate, on the invitation of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogen, in the anniversary of the death of the 13th century Sufi mystic Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Balkhi. 

Just before this event, Iran's armed force chief, General Hassan Firouzabadi, harshly criticised the role of Turkey in connection with the missile deployment. "Each one of these Patriots is a black mark on the world map, and is meant to cause a world war. They are making plans for a world war, and this is very dangerous for the future of humanity and for the future of Europe itself," warned the general, seeming to conjure images of the 1962 Cuban Missile crisis, cause by deployment of missiles in Cuba by the then USSR, leading to a showdown with the USA. 

According to some analysts, Iran is worried because, once the Patriot anti-missile and anti-aircraft batteries are installed, Turkey -- free from threat of Syrian air and missile strikes -- would be emboldened to escalate support for the armed Syrian opposition. This would, in turn, pose a grave threat to the survivability of the pro-Iranian government of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. It was therefore unsurprising that Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi followed up General Firouzabadi's warning with an unambiguous statement in support of Mr. Assad, asserting that Iran would do everything in its power to thwart foreign efforts aimed at ensuring "regime change in Syria". In fact, Iran considers Syria as a lynchpin of the "axis of resistance" against Israel, which also includes the Lebanese Hizbollah and the Palestinian Hamas. 

Further, sections of the Russian intelligentsia are of the view that the deployment of Patriot missiles are a greater threat to Iran than to Syria. Russia's Kommarsant daily quoted a Russian diplomatic source as saying: "Turkey has explained its request to NATO as exclusively related to its need to defend itself from a possible attack from the Syrian army. But there could be a second motivation for this action, which is a preparation for military strike against Iran." 

As it is, the six Patriot batteries being drawn from NATO members Germany, Netherlands and the U.S. will lead to the accompanying deployment at Syria's doorstep of around 400 German troops, 360 Dutch soldiers and another 400 U.S. servicemen thereby enhancing, Turkey's war capability to a significant level. In fact, the militarisation of the border, and the threat it poses to Syria and Iran, appears to be generating a momentum for closer ties between Moscow and Teheran. While talking with NATO's Secretary-General Anders Fog Rasmussen, the Foreign Minister of Russia, Sergei Lavarov warned that any "provocation may trigger a very serious conflict."

Against this backdrop, Turkey's Patriot missile deployment program will obviously escalate tensions between the two prominent neighbours with a likely scenario of close relations between Iran and Russia, thereby putting strains on the hitherto prevailing balance of power among countries in the West Asia region. This will motivate the U.S. to vigorously pursue its national interests by forging closer ties with Middle Eastern and Gulf states. The stakes are as high for the U.S. as they are for Russia.

Sudhanshu Tripathi


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WaPo Errs on Religious Freedom in Jerusalem

by Leo Rennert

The Washington Post, in its Dec. 21 edition, runs a lengthy obituary on Jerry Bird, a long-time Middle East peace activist, who died at the age of 86 in Washington ("'Impassioned' Middle East peace activist" by Adam Bernstein, page B5.) 

Bernstein mentions that Mrs. Bird was instrumental in organizing speaking tours by three women -- a Christian, a Muslim and a Jew -- to promote inter-faith peace initiatives in the Middle East. Her label for these tours was "Women in Jerusalem: Three Women. Three Faiths. One Shared City." 

"The women were strangers to one another but agreed that Jerusalem should be shared among the three faiths," Bernstein writes. "That view was in stark opposition to the Israeli government's official position that Jerusalem is the 'eternal capital' of Israel." 

Au contraire. Under Israel's policy and control, Jerusalem is shared among the three monotheistic faiths. Muslims by the tens of thousands pray at Al Aqsa Mosque. Worshipers of various branches of Christianity pray at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. And Jews pray at the Western Wall, Judaism's most sacred site. 

In fact, this is the first time in history that Jerusalem basks in such interfaith tolerance. And it has been so since 1967, when Israel liberated East Jerusalem from Jordanian occupation. When Jordan was in charge, Jews were forbidden to pray at the Western Wall and dozens of synagogues were demolished. One of the most prominent synagogues was converted into stables for the Jordanian cavalry. 

Jews also were forbidden to pray at the Western Wall under Muslim rule in earlier centuries. And during the Crusader period, intolerance of Islam and Judaism reigned supreme. Only under Israeli rule has Jerusalem blossomed into a capital shared by three major faiths. 

To suggest the opposite, that Jerusalem is not "shared among the three faiths," is an unspeakable slander. The Washington Post owes its readers a prompt correction.

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers


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Muslims Angry Over Spanish Citizenship for Jews

by Soeren Kern

Muslims are now demanding reciprocity, demanding that the Spanish government grant automatic citizenship to millions of descendants of Muslims who were also expelled from Spain in the Middle Ages.
The Spanish government has announced that it will grant automatic citizenship to Jews of Sephardic descent, whose ancestors were expelled from Spain in 1492.

The measure has been welcomed by Jewish groups, who say the move is long overdue and that it rights a historic wrong.

But Muslim groups are now clamoring for reciprocity, and are demanding that the Spanish government grant instant citizenship to millions of descendants of Muslims who were also expelled from Spain during the Middle Ages.

The so-called Right of Return for Sephardic Jews (Sepharad means Spain in Hebrew) was announced in Madrid on November 22 by the Spanish Justice Minister, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, and the Foreign Minister, José Manuel García-Margallo.

Under existing Spanish law, Sephardic Jews already benefit from a preferential naturalization procedure that allows them to claim Spanish citizenship after having lived in Spain for only two years, a privilege that is also available to citizens of Spain's former colonies in Latin America and elsewhere.

The change means that Sephardic Jews -- wherever they live in the diaspora -- will have to present an accreditation from the Spanish Federation of Jewish Communities (FCJE), a Jewish umbrella group, confirming their ancestry to claim a Spanish passport.

Spain's offer applies only to those who identify themselves as Jewish. It does not apply to Sephardic Anousim (anousim in Hebrew means "coerced"), the descendants of Jews who were compelled by the Spanish Inquisition to convert to Roman Catholicism (they are sometimes also called crypto-Jews or Marranos). Secular anousim must seek religious training from the FCJE and undergo formal conversion to Judaism before they can obtain Spanish citizenship.

The Spanish government has not said how many Jews it expects will apply for citizenship (a total of 698 Sephardic Jews obtained Spanish citizenship during the period 2006-2010). There are an estimated three million Sephardic Jews around the world today. Most live in Israel, the United States, Belgium, Greece, France and Turkey, but there are also sizeable communities in Latin America, especially in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Venezuela.

No more than 45,000 Jews currently live in Spain -- out of a total Spanish population of 47 million -- which is only a fraction of the number of Jews who lived in the country before 1492, when Jews were forced to convert to Roman Catholicism or go into exile.

The Edict of Expulsion, issued on March 31, 1492 by the Catholic Monarchs of Spain (Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon), and also known as the Alhambra Decree, ordered Jews to leave the Kingdoms of Castile and Aragon, and their territories and possessions, by July 31 of that same year.

Up to 800,000 Jews are believed to have left Spain as a result of the decree. Another 50,000 chose to avoid expulsion by converting to Roman Catholicism.

Spain first began granting citizenship to Sephardic Jews -- on an individual basis, not en masse -- in 1988, when the government of Felipe González modified the Spanish Civil Code. The concessions were halted in 2009 by the Socialist government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, but the procedure has now been revived and amended by the conservative government of Mariano Rajoy.

Reacting to the Rajoy government's pledge to expedite the naturalization process for Sephardic Jews, Isaac Querub, the president of the FCJE, declared that November 22, 2012 would "pass into history as a day of clear blue sky and intense luminosity."

For his part, Foreign Minister García-Margallo emphasized the historic links of the Jewish people with Spain. At a ceremony at the Centro Sefarad-Israel in Madrid, he said: "Our relations have never been forgotten and have intensified the more tolerant and democratic Spain has become."

But Spanish political commentators have been speculating about both the reason and the timing behind the government's move.

Just one week after announcing the Right of Return for Sephardic Jews, Spain voted in favor of upgrading the status of the Palestinian Authority at the United Nations. The November 29 vote was a major blow to Israel; some commentators have speculated that Spanish government announced the citizenship measure as a "gesture" to minimize the impact on bilateral relations.

Others say the Spanish government is seeking to attract Jews as a way help remedy the country's severe economic problems. Just days before welcoming Sephardic Jews back to Spain, the government announced on November 19 that it would offer residency permits (the equivalent of a US green card) to foreigners who buy houses priced at more than 160,000 euros ($200,000) as part of its efforts to revive a collapsed real estate market and divest itself of hundreds of thousands of unsold homes.

Meanwhile, Muslims are now demanding that the Spanish government grant automatic citizenship to millions of descendants of Muslims who were expelled from Spain in the seventeenth century.

Much of the Iberian Peninsula was occupied by Muslim conquerors known as the Moors from 711 until 1492, when the Moorish Kingdom of Granada surrendered to Ferdinand and Isabella. But the final Muslim expulsion from Granada, known in Arabic as Al-Andalus, did not take place until over a century later, beginning in 1609, when King Philip III decreed the Expulsion of the Moriscos.

The Moriscos were the descendants of the Muslim population that converted to Roman Catholicism under threat of exile from Ferdinand and Isabella in 1502. From 1609 through 1614, the Spanish government systematically forced an estimated 350,000 Moriscos to leave Spain for Muslim North Africa.

Today there are an estimated 5 million descendants of the Moriscos living in Morocco alone; there are millions more living in Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Mauritania, Tunisia and Turkey.

In a December 3 essay published by the Morocco-based newspaper Correo Diplomático, the Moroccan journalist Ahmed Bensalh Es-salhi wrote that the "decision to grant Spanish citizenship to the grandchildren of the Hebrews in Spain in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, while ignoring the Moriscos, the grandsons of the Muslims, is without doubt, flagrant segregation and unquestionable discrimination, as both communities suffered equally in Spain at that time. The decision could also be considered by the international community to be an historic act of absolute immorality and injustice…This decision is absolutely disgraceful and dishonorable."

Bensalh then went on to threaten Spain: "Is Spain aware of what might be assumed when it makes peace with some and not with others? Is Spain aware of what this decision could cost? Has Spain considered that it could jeopardize the massive investments that Muslims have made on its territory? Does Spain have alternatives to the foreign investment from Muslims if they ever decide to move that capital to other destinations due to the discrimination against Muslims?"

Bensalh's article is the latest salvo in an escalating battle being waged by Muslim historians and academics who are demanding that Spain treat Moriscos the same way it treats Sephardic Jews.
Jamal Bin Ammar al-Ahmar, an "Andalus-Algerian" university professor at the Ferhat Abbas University in Sétif in northeastern Algeria, has been engaged in a four-year campaign to persuade Spanish King Juan Carlos to identify and condemn those who expelled the Muslims from Al-Andalus in the fifteenth century. Al-Ahmar is also demanding that millions of Moriscos expelled from Spain be allowed to return there.

In a letter addressed to Juan Carlos, Al-Ahmar calls for a "full legal and historical investigation of the war crimes that were perpetrated on the Muslim population of Andalusia by the French, English, European and papal crusaders, whose victims were our poor miserable people, after the collapse of Islamic rule in Andalusia."

The letter speaks of "the injustice inflicted on the Muslim population of Andalusia who are still suffering in the diaspora in exile since 1492."

Al-Ahmar wants the Spanish monarch to apologize "on behalf of his ancestors" and to assume "responsibility for the consequences" that this would entail. He says it is necessary "to identify criminals, to convict retroactively, while at the same time to identify and compensate victims for their calamities and restore their titles." This process would culminate with "a decree that allows immigrants to return to their homes in Andalusia, and grant them full citizenship rights and restoration of all their properties." 

Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook.

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Converging Toward Hamas

by Shoshana Bryen

All the years, all the dollars, all the military training and assistance, all the political acceptance -- including an "embassy" in Washington and diplomatic status -- could not buy the United States one iota of political clout where it counted. It is an enormous American failure of understanding to think those things would trump the natural morphing of Palestinian leadership toward the convergence of politics, religion and "national origin" against the "foreign." The enemy of my enemy is not my friend…. Rather than face their lack of insight, the default position of the US Administration and the Europeans is to blame Israel.
There are many points of disagreement between Fatah and Hamas; so many that they fought an ugly civil war in 2007, leaving Hamas in control of Gaza and Fatah in control of the West Bank. It is a mistake, however, to conclude from their often violent enmity, that Fatah, the so-called "moderate" faction, is or can be a partner to Israel in "peacemaking" or in finding the "two state solution" so beloved of Western politicians.

It is also a mistake for the U.S. and the West to push Israel toward concessions to Mahmoud Abbas in the hope of strengthening Fatah against Hamas.

The enemy of my enemy is not my friend. It is entirely possible for two parties to hate each other, but to agree they hate you more. And so it is in this case. Hamas and Fatah are not opposite ends of some mythical Palestinian political spectrum – they are merely different approaches to the same end.

Hamas is a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, rooted in Sunni expansionism but aligned with Iran for purposes of money, training and weapons.

This is another instance in which two parties (Sunnis and Shiites) can be at war at one level, but agree to make war together on a third party (Israel). Fatah is open to a (very temporary) political settlement with Israel as long as it brings millions of Arabs into Israel over whom Israel would exercise no functional control.

For both Fatah and Hamas, the bottom line is that the establishment of Israel in 1948, with the blessing of the United Nations, was a mistake by the international community that needs to be corrected.

It was a Western delusion to believe that the parameters of the deal the U.S. and Israel were pursuing was also the goal the Palestinians were pursuing.

President Obama, in one of his first speeches on the subject (2009) as president, said:
Let me be clear: The United States strongly supports the goal of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. That is a goal shared by Palestinians, Israelis, and people of goodwill around the world… That is a goal that I will actively pursue as President of the United States.
The President was asserting that the Palestinians agreed that their national aspirations could be satisfied with a split, rump state wedged between a hostile Israel and an even more hostile Jordan.

The Palestinians never agreed to original division of the British Mandate into Jordan under a Hashemite King (77%) and west-of-the-Jordan (23%) for the Jews. The Palestinians also never agreed that west-of-the-Jordan could be further subdivided to give the Jews a permanent, legitimate, sovereign piece of land . Obama was mistaken. Palestinian leadership has yet to be bribed or forced to agree that Israel is a legitimate, permanent player in the region.

Israel seeks recognition of Israel as a Jewish State and Mr. Obama appears to agree, having said only a few months ago, "The road is hard but the destination is clear – a secure, Jewish State of Israel and an independent, prosperous Palestine."

Abbas demurs. "I do not accept it. [Israel as a "Jewish state"] It is not my job to give a description of the state. Name yourself the Hebrew Socialist Republic – it's none of my business." Later he said, "Israel can call itself…the Jewish-Zionist Empire." Last year he said, "Let me make something clear about the story of the 'Jewish state'… I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I will never recognize the Jewishness of the state, or a 'Jewish state.'"

This is not a semantic problem. If the United States is wrong about the outline of a future deal, it also wrong about Palestinian internal politics. Hamas and Fatah are seeking "unity;" where they converge is in agreeing that political advances for the Palestinians put Israel at a disadvantage (the Fatah position), and that military advances for the Palestinians also put Israel at a disadvantage (the Hamas position).

So, in an uneasy alliance, Fatah pursues one and Hamas the other.

Unity, however, should not be confused with shared power. Only one faction will ultimately speak for the Palestinians, and Hamas is presently on course to swallow Fatah despite the loss of patronage from Syria.

Fatah's political advances, including UN General Assembly recognition of "Palestine" as a "non-member state," attracted little visible enthusiasm from the public, and Abbas's PA is mired economic disarray compounded by corruption.

Hamas, on the other hand, is basking in local glory for its attacks on Israel and its breakout from diplomatic isolation.

Abbas and company understand that Hamas may ultimately succeed in taking control of the Palestinian Authority. For example, Hamas rallies were permitted on the West Bank for the first time since the civil war. Abbas is discussing a possible future confederation with Jordan. Fatah has been curtailing security cooperation with the IDF and there are those who believe a third "intifada" has already begun. [Leaving an odd problem for Israel – would the IDF try to save Abbas and his corrupt administration in the face of popular enthusiasm for Hamas?] Even partial success in allowing Hamas to accede to power with minimal internecine killing might allow Fatah officials to escape to a safe haven -- their money having probably already escaped.

Abbas has flown in the face of each request by President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton for movement toward an agreement with Israel. It was inevitable because they -- and Israel -- were asking for something he does not wish to deliver: not a "two state solution," but a Fatah-Israel alliance against Hamas.

All the years, all the dollars, all the military training and assistance including stewardship by three American generals, all the political acceptance -- including an "embassy" in Washington and diplomatic status -- could not buy the United States one iota of political clout where it counted. It is an enormous American failure of understanding to think those things would trump the natural morphing of Palestinian leadership toward the convergence of politics, religion and "national origin" against the "foreign." Rather than face their lack of insight and the concomitant failure of their vision, the default position of the Administration and its European allies is to blame Israel – for a lack of "empathy" and "generosity," and for "provocation" of Palestinian irritation.

If the Palestinian leadership continues to unify under Hamas, the question will be whether the U.S. and Israel will finally be able to admit the inherent limitations of the "peace process," or whether the West will continue to push for a "two state solution" at Israel's expense. 

Shoshana Bryen is Senior Director of The Jewish Policy Center.

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Justin Trudeau's Islamist Revival

by David B. Harris

Nothing says bug-eyed clerical fanaticism more than inviting a hate-spewing Saudi cleric to address your religious revival meeting. But this is part of the under-reported history of the Reviving the Islamic Spirit (RIS) Convention, a conference that Justin Trudeau, a frontrunner in Canada's Liberal Party leadership race – and son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau – will address this weekend in Montreal. It's also why moderate Muslims and non-Muslims are aghast at the prospect of Trudeau's presence legitimizing the conference and some of its notables.

Although organizers pitch the gathering as "A Unique Youth Effort" "to help overcome new challenges of communication and integration" and "reviv[e] the Islamic tradition of education, tolerance and introspection," there is reason to be concerned. Aspects of the multi-year history and present-day manifestations of RIS invite questions about ideology and influences at play.

This year's conference was initially sponsored in part by IRFAN-Canada, an international Muslim relief entity that has seen its federal charitable tax status yanked by Ottawa, as a result of the Canada Revenue Agency's belief that millions in contributions went to "relieve" the Hamas terror organization. Although exposure of this background forced IRFAN's eleventh-hour cosmetic removal as an RIS sponsor, it is not evident that all remaining sponsors are clear of radical taint. UBS Bank recently blocked the overseas account of British-based charity and RIS 2012 sponsor Islamic Relief, a situation which an Islamic Relief official reportedly attributes to the technicalities of counterterrorism regulations. Meanwhile, some have questions about the uneven ideological record of one or two prominent figures attached to sponsoring organization Zaytuna College, an Islamic institution in Berkeley, Calif.

And, yes, the inevitable Tariq Ramadan, the charming, soft-spoken and dupe-seducing scion of the extremist Muslim Brotherhood – a man who famously called for a moratorium, rather than a ban, on the stoning of women, and avoids condemning Hamas – will also speak at the event. Ramadan is an RIS veteran speaker whose apparent Muslim Brotherhood link offers little reassurance when taken in concert with a Brotherhood strategic plan for Canada and the United States which prescribes "a grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house."

Meanwhile, a journalist has exposed expected RIS 2012 speaker Yassir Fazaga as a fixture of Peace TV, an outlet with radical presenters, including Yusuf Islam – the former Cat Stevens – who called for author Salman Rushdie's death and spoke at the 2009 RIS.

But, years ago, those of us in intelligence who studied RIS conferences had concluded that RIS's problems exceeded even these present-day issues.

Indeed, the RIS's history of invited speakers includes some dignitaries who would give pause to people of conscience, especially when speakers might be considered models for youth and other convention attendees. For example, there was distinguished American neo-Nazi William W. Baker at the 2004 gathering. Known for establishing something dubbed Christians and Muslims for Peace (CAMP), Baker has rounded publicly on "belligerent American Jews." "[H]is apparent goal," wrote a reporter a year or two before his RIS invitation, is "the creation of a united Christian-Muslim front against Jews and other groups."

Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes complained that now-disgraced former RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli, then-Toronto Police Chief (and now federal Tory Minister) Julian Fantino and Mayor David Miller appeared at the Toronto conference, "thereby giving it – and by implication, William W. Baker – their blessing." Zaccardelli's pander-filled speech was memorable. Even the social-democratic NDP's Jack Layton could not resist addressing an RIS meet.

For "bridge-building" and interfaith work, there was RIS 2006 speaker Imam Siraj Wahhaj, US unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

Another RIS invitee was Sheik Bilal Philips, a Canadian imam who is an unindicted co-conspirator in that bombing, favors death for homosexuals in Muslim lands, and fancies punitive amputations, lashings and public executions. From Kenya to Germany to Australia, he has been banned and deported on national security grounds.

The bug-eyed invitee mentioned above was reportedly Sheikh Abd Al-Rahman Al-Sudais, imam of Mecca's Grand Mosque. Well before his invitation to speak at the 2004 RIS, Al-Sudais said "Jews of yesterday are the evil forefathers of the even more evil Jews of today: infidels … prophet murderers, the scum of the human race, accursed by Allah, who turned them into apes and pigs." "[A]n ongoing continuum of deceit, obstinacy, licentiousness, evil, and corruption," too. Christians?: idolators – "worshippers of the cross" – as were hideous "idol worshipping Hindus."

This was a bridge-building too far, and Canada's government barred entry to the Saudi imam.

As it did to RIS 2010 invitee (and previous speaker) Indian physician-preacher Zakir Naik, thought to have a crush on Osama bin Laden. "[E]very Muslim should be a terrorist," says Naik, and Jews are "our staunchest enemy." At the 2005 RIS, Naik pressed Islamic Sharia law upon America, complete with death penalties for homosexuals, heavy veiling for women. There was more than a dash of false equivalence in his comparing of the targeted civilian deaths of 9/11, and the accidental civilian casualties in Afghanistan combat. Naik's ambiguous position on suicide bombing included the view that it "should be done under proper guidance" – surely a constructive thought for susceptible youth juggling contemporary responsibilities and trying to reach that life-balance between school and demolitions. Naik is progressive inasmuch as he believes wives should be beaten only "lightly."

Several years ago, Britain's Sheikh Riyadh ul-Haq spoke at an RIS convention in Toronto. Reports point to Indian-born ul-Haq's enthusiastic paraphrasing of the Quran in remarks made on another occasion: "the ones who are bitterest in their enmity towards Muslims, the most unrelenting, unforgiving, are the Jews and the mushrikeen, idolators in all their forms." Today's "chief idolators," he adds, are the Hindus.

U.S. authorities have taken an interest in RIS, and detained some American Muslims returning from the 2004 RIS conference in Toronto. Department of Homeland Security: "we had credible intelligence that conferences similar to the one from which these individuals were leaving were being used by terrorist organizations to fundraise and to hide the travel of terrorists themselves." The Saudi-funded, extremist-sympathetic Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) – later an unindicted co-conspirator in a major terror funding U.S. prosecution, and the mother group of a Canadian chapter, CAIR-CAN, now attacking critics of this week's conference – sued the American government, and lost.

Border authorities, asserted the supportive U.S. appeals court, "had reason to believe that terrorists, or those with terrorist ties, would be attending the RIS conference."

It was at this Reviving the Islamic Spirit conference – presumably in the midst of some of its participants' condemnations of liberal coexistence – that a jargon-laced greeting was read aloud from a letter from then-Prime Minister Paul Martin. "[T]his year's conference," he intoned on behalf of the Government of Canada, "adds to the fabric of our nation and strengthens our social foundations by making our communities more dynamic, culturally rich, and cohesive." U.S. border authorities might have taken another view.

Now comes the Reviving the Islamic Spirit 2012 conclave. You've heard about Tariq Ramadan and the rest, but what about other invitees who will be joining this month's Montreal conventioneers?

Jamal Badawi: Professor Emeritus, St Mary's University, Halifax, and held by the Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report to be "a leader in many of the most important organizations of the Global and U.S. Muslim Brotherhood." Unindicted co-conspirator in the aforementioned terror funding trial, and an executive member of the Islamic Society of North America, an unindicted co-conspirator organization. Former board member of the Muslim Association of Canada, an organization boasting of its Muslim Brotherhood ideology. A pamphlet by Badawi that was available at an earlier RIS appeared to justify the practice of polygamy.

Imam Zaid Shakir: A U.S. cleric tending to trade in 9/11 conspiracy theories, aiming for Islamic rule of America, and believing that the U.S. government is at war with Islam – a poor example for the Muslim youth at any conference. At the 2005 RIS, Shakir seemed consumed with portraying the United States as a stain on humanity, a catalog of "slavery and genocide, oppression and military aggression." It is unsurprising that his ideology was condemned by moderate American Muslim leader and retired U.S. naval Lt. Cmdr Zuhdi Jasser, and by the American Anti-Defamation League. Shakir has spoken at RIS conventions on a number of occasions, and is a senior faculty member of RIS 2012 sponsor Zaytuna College.

Edina Lekovic: Policy director at the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood-linked Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC). Exposed in 2007 by leading American counterterrorism expert Steven Emerson as having been managing editor of UCLA Muslim students' newspaper when its 1999 "Spirit of Jihad" issue counseled Muslims: "When we hear someone refer to the great Mujahid … Osama bin Laden as a 'terrorist,' we should defend our brother and refer to him as a freedom fighter." Bin Laden had declared war on the United States in 1996.

Almost all of the foregoing information was on the public record before Trudeau accepted his speaking invitation. No wonder the moderate Muslim Canadian Congress and Muslims Facing Tomorrow organizations are joining so many other Canadians in raising questions about public officials who would become involved in this kind of enterprise.

Worse yet, there are now reports of enormous prospective increases in Canada's already-world-beating per capita immigration, some of it from countries associated with extremism and subversion. As suspicions deepen that much of this intake reflects a Harper government desire to "import" grateful voters for coming elections and profit from resultant demographic shifts, Canada is left to face policy outcomes that will continue to inflate its radical ranks, fill conferences of the RIS sort, and imperil Canadians' future. In the end, the Reviving the Islamic Spirit Convention stands as a warning of the need to press ambitious political figures of all stripes to resist the temptations and perverse political incentives endangering that future.

David B. Harris is a Canadian lawyer with three decades' experience in intelligence affairs, and serves as Director of the International Intelligence Program, INSIGNIS Strategic Research Inc. He is on the advisory board of the Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow (MFT), although opinions expressed here are his alone.


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