Saturday, December 29, 2012

An Israeli State of Mind

by Yoram Ettinger

On the eve of the January 22, 2013 Israeli election, the Israeli public demonstrates more realism than its politicians. Israelis highlight security imperatives when responding to reality-driven polls, which pose questions based on the stormy Arab Winter and not on the mirage of the Arab Spring. 

Increasingly, Israelis recognize that — in the Middle East — bolstered security constitutes a solid base for survival and for the pursuit of peace. They realize that the pursuit of peace, by lowering the threshold of security, could jeopardize survival, as well as the slim chance for peace. 

Notwithstanding the overwhelmingly dovish Israeli media and academia, most Israelis — Right, Center and Left — have concluded that security-driven peace supersedes peace-driven security. 

In December 2012, a most thorough and detailed poll was conducted by one of the deans of Israeli pollsters, Mina Tzemach, on behalf of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. The poll demonstrates that Israelis respond to real local and regional developments — more than to wishful thinking — when shaping positions on the peace process, security requirements, land for peace, the two-state-solution and Iran. 

Such positions are directly impacted by the 20-year track record of the 1993 Oslo Accords: an unprecedented Israeli gesture met by unprecedented Palestinian hate education, terrorism and noncompliance. Israeli opinions are also influenced by the current turbulence, unpredictability, unreliability, treachery and instability on the Arab street. The Israeli state of mind is also shaped by the violent Palestinian response (thousands of missiles launched at Israel) to the 2005 Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip — a tormenting, painful concession of uprooting 25 thriving Jewish communities. 

According to the December Mina Tzemach (Dahaf Polling Institute) poll, most Israelis assume that Palestinians are concerned about the existence — and not the size — of Israel, and therefore are very skeptical about the land-for-peace formula. Most Israelis do not trust Palestinian compliance with agreements, and therefore are dubious about the two-state solution, which they increasingly consider a two-state delusion.

For instance, 76% (83% among Israeli Jews) believe that an Israeli retreat to the pre-1967 sliver along the Mediterranean would not satisfy the Palestinians or other Arabs. Only 22% (15% among Israeli Jews) assume that such a concession would produce an end to the conflict. About 74% of Israelis are convinced that strategic depth — a code word for Judea and Samaria — is pertinent to Israel’s national security. Only 21% discount the importance of strategic depth. Fully 66% disapprove (and 29% approve) a withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines in return for a peace accord with the Palestinians and all Arab countries. About 63% are against a withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines with minor modifications.

A ratio of 65:33 opposes the repartitioning of Jerusalem in the context of a peace accord; 65:31 reject a withdrawal from the Jordan Valley; 68:28 refuse evacuation of Ariel and western Samaria; 72:22 insist on retaining control over the blocs of Jewish settlements; 73:18 disapprove relinquishing control over the Judea and Samaria mountains that dominate Ben-Gurion International Airport; 67:22 insist that Israel retains control of Highway 443, which connects Jerusalem to the coastal plain via the West Bank. 

Only 20% of the Israeli public assumes that the recent developments on the Arab street are irrelevant to the Arab/Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Only 21% maintains that these events warrant an acceleration of the peace process. 

About 52% — compared with 49% in 2005 — consider secure boundaries superior to peace, compared with 36% who view peace as the prerequisite to security. 

Most Israelis trust only the Israel Defense Forces to protect the country. For example, only 39% assume that Israel can rely on the U.S. military during an emergency. About 68% oppose the stationing of foreign troops — including U.S. troops — in the Jordan Valley. Only 26% would support such a deployment. 

About 68% do not believe that sanctions constitute an effective option against Iran; 53% presume that the U.S. will not resort to the military option to prevent Iran’s nuclearization; 53% support an Israeli military pre-emption against Iran if the U.S. fails to pre-empt. 

This most comprehensive Mina Tzemach poll highlights the Israeli public as top heavy on realism and low on wishful-thinking. Most Israelis do not indulge in the New Middle East Delusion, March of Democracy or the Facebook and Youth Revolution; they brace themselves for the Real Middle East and its clear and present threats. It is a rare state of mind among Western democracies, enhancing Israel’s power-projection and Israel’s role as the beachhead of the Free World in the economically and militarily critical Middle East. It is a source of optimism.

Yoram Ettinger


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

Israel Redefines Victory in the New Middle East

by Yaakov Lappin

Senior Israeli officials have indicated this month that any round of future fighting with Hezbollah will make last month's Gaza conflict seem minor by comparison. Offense, not defense, is still preferred.
Israel is redefining its concept of military victory in a Middle East dominated by terrorist organizations turned quasi-state actors.

Once, decisive, unmistakable victories, accompanied by conquests of territory that had been used to stage attacks against Israel, provided all parties concerned with a "knockout" image. Victory was seen by the Israel Defense Forces as a clear-cut event, which ended when the enemy raised a white flag. Today, however, the IDF considers this thinking out of date in the 21st century battle arenas of the region, where a terror organization such as Hamas will continue firing rockets into Israel right up until the last day of a conflict, and claim victory despite absorbing the majority of damages and casualties.

Today, the goal of seizing control of the enemy's turf is seen as a short-term initiative, and assuming long-term control and responsibility for hostile populations is a highly unpopular development among strategic planners, who now argue that this should be avoided wherever possible.

For decades, the IDF has been facing irregular asymmetric terrorist organizations which can change form, melt away and reform according to their needs.

The last time Israel fought direct battles with organized, hierarchical military foes was during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Today, as the main goal of most conflicts, victory has been replaced by deterrence. Deterrence, rather than clear-cut conquest or triumph over the enemy, has formed the goal of Israel's last three conflicts: the Second Lebanon War of 2006; Operation Cast Lead against against Hamas and Islamic Jihad in 2009 and Operation Pillar of Defense against the same entities in Gaza in November.

Although the Second Lebanon War was claimed by Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah as a "divine victory," six and a half years later, at the end of 2012, Hezbollah has still not repaired all of the damage it suffered in that conflict, and the Lebanese-Israeli border has never been quieter. Despite several glaring tactical and operational shortcomings, as a deterrent the Second Lebanon War was an Israeli victory.

Nevertheless, deterrence-based military achievements are temporary by nature. At some point, deterrence erodes away, and must be reestablished all over again. This is what happened in Gaza last month. And the IDF has been preparing for a fresh confrontation with Hezbollah in Lebanon, which today is armed with at least 50,000 rockets and missiles, many of them with a range of 200 kilometers, that can strike deep inside Israel.

Quietly, the Israel Air Force has been upgrading its weapons systems to allow it to face down Hezbollah with enhanced firepower. The new systems currently installed in IAF jets mean that a very large number of targets can be struck in Lebanon from the air within a very short period of time. The 1500 targets struck in Gaza, for example, during November's operation over the course of eight days, could have been struck in 24 hours had the IAF elected to do so.

Israeli intelligence has been mapping out the weapons storehouses in southern Lebanese villages and towns, and building up a long list of targets, for the day that Israel's deterrence runs out.

The IDF's evolving new doctrine involves short spells of fighting, in which the IDF hits the other side hard – hard enough to ensure that the Israeli home front will enjoy prolonged calm after the fighting ends. As opposed to the mission of utterly destroying Hamas or Hezbollah, such limited goals can be obtained quickly. Hezbollah is fully aware, meanwhile, that should it begin another conflict, it will reap major destruction on Lebanon.

The Israeli doctrine is flexible. It allows the IDF to choose the severity of the blows it lands on the enemy, depending on the circumstances of each fight, and the adversary involved.

Senior Israeli defense sources have indicated this month that any future round of fighting with Hezbollah will make last month's Gaza conflict seem minor by comparison. Even if the goal will not be to destroy Hezbollah, the organization is still susceptible to enormous damage; it is well aware of its exposure to overwhelming Israeli firepower.

The day after a future conflict ends, one defense source said this month, Hezbollah will have to "get up in the morning and explain to their people" why they invited yet more destruction to Lebanon.

The fact that Islamist terror organizations Hamas and Hezbollah have formed political entities, and are responsible for managing the affairs of their people, means that they are more vulnerable than ever.

Unfortunately, the rocket and missile capabilities possessed by both means that Israeli civilians are also in the firing line; and the IDF is not counting on rocket defense systems such as Iron Dome to prevent wide-scale damage and secure future victories.

Even in the service of the limited goal of deterrence, offense, not defense, is still preferred.
Finally, the new doctrine is not fixed in stone; should Israel ever find that it cannot deter the enemies on its borders, it may choose to revert to its older method of defending its citizens: fully vanquishing hostile forces, despite the price it may have to pay.

Yaakov Lappin


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

Tom Friedman: Confused and Clearly Hostile to Israel

by Ed Koch

In his December 26 New York Times editorial, Tom Friedman wrote in support of former U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel and the possibility that he will be chosen by President Barack Obama as Secretary of Defense. He stated: “So, yes, Hagel is out of the mainstream. That is exactly why his voice would be valuable right now. Obama will still make all the final calls, but let him do so after having heard all the alternatives.” By “mainstream,” Friedman apparently means overwhelmingly supportive of Israel. Hagel’s position is, as Friedman states, “out of the mainstream” with respect to Israel.

Imagine what would happen across our government if President Obama put that course of action into effect.

Friedman is in effect saying to President Obama that he should choose, as an example, a Secretary of the Treasury who believes in cutting expenses in the budget with no increase in taxes for the wealthy, noting that as President he makes the policy and can overrule his appointees; choose a Secretary of the Interior who has the same philosophy as many Alaskans which is to open every square inch of Alaska for oil production. After all, as Friedman says, the President makes the final decision. In the Defense Department, put someone in charge who disagrees with the current stated policy of the President and the Congress toward Israel. We’ve heard the President say, “I’ve got Israel’s back.” Hagel couldn’t care less; he’d rather talk to Hamas. Hagel’s point of view, according to Aaron Miller in his 2008 book, “The Much Too Promised Land,” is clearly hostile to Israel. Miller wrote: “The American Israel Public Affairs Committee comes knocking with a pro-Israel letter, Hagel continued, and ‘then you’ll get eighty or ninety senators on it. I don’t think I’ve ever signed one of the letters’ – because, he added, they were ‘stupid.” Hagel also said, ‘The Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here,’ but ‘I’m a United States senator. I’m not an Israeli senator.’” For the record, more Christians support Israel in the U.S. than do Jews, who are a much smaller part of the U.S. population.

In addition, in government, you generally rely on the people you select for high office to let them run their departments. You don’t micromanage them, and no top-notch appointee would allow micromanagement by the President.

People give Tom Friedman lots of space and respect when he writes on Israel, undoubtedly assuming that as a Jew, he must be a supporter of Israel. I do not believe that assumption to be correct, because I recall his Times column of April 3 in which he urged the Palestinians to engage in another intifada using rocks to attack Israeli Jews.

When I was in Israel in 1991, I was struck on the head during the then intifada and needed nine stitches to close the wound. I was lucky that the jagged stone struck my head and not my eyes. Otherwise, I might have been blinded.

Chuck Hagel is not an evil man. He simply does not support the position that Israel is our ally, and I believe he would prefer closer relationships with the Muslim states in the region by reducing the relationship between the U.S. and Israel, which is what the Muslim, and certainly the Islamist, states desire. That is his right, but that philosophy should deny him the position of Secretary of Defense. Nor in my opinion does he believe that the Islamist Arab countries are hostile to the U.S. and Western civilization.

The leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshal, has called for the total destruction of Israel. The Hamas government is responsible for hurling 8,000 rockets into Israel since 2005. Human Rights Watch, normally critical of Israel, this week accused Hamas of war crimes against Israel, because their rockets deliberately targeted Israeli civilians. Does it make any sense for Friedman to suggest that Hagel’s attitude of seeking to engage Hamas “to see if it can be moved from its extremism” might be effective? There were people in the 1930s who suggested the same about Hitler and the Nazis. Hamas is now even stronger than before because its big brother and ally the Muslim Brotherhood governs Egypt and Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, one of the Brotherhood’s leaders, has made clear his support of Hamas.

When will we learn that Islamist governments mean what they say when they threaten Israel with extermination and condemn the U.S., Europe and Israel and their Western culture and values?

I also view Tom Friedman’s supportive attitude to the so-called Arab Spring — which has produced Islamist governments toppling authoritarian Arab governments which were at least friendly to the U.S. — as dangerously wrong. Hitler came to power in Germany legally as have many of these Islamist governments. That doesn’t make them our friends nor should the President select a Secretary of Defense who, if confirmed, will be cheered by the enemies of the U.S. and Israel in the Muslim world.

In his December 13 column, Tom Friedman made one of his worst statements, showing his strong bias against Israel: “I sure hope that Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, understands that the standing ovation he got in Congress this year was not for his politics. That ovation was bought and paid for by the Israel lobby. The real test is what would happen if Bibi tried to speak at, let’s say, the University of Wisconsin. My guess is that many students would boycott him and many Jewish students would stay away, not because they are hostile, but because they are confused.”

Friedman has not apologized for these outrageous remarks, stating only that he regretted the words and should have chosen other terms. I suggest that it is Tom Friedman who is confused. I don’t believe even if he did apologize that the apology means anything and, in most cases, such apologies are simply an effort to end the discussion.

Ed Koch


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

Arab Spring: Heading for Reactionary Backlash?

by Amir Taheri

Some commentators have designated 2012 as the Arab version of 1848 in Europe. The idea is that the movement labelled the “Arab Spring” resembles the revolutionary upheaval of 1848 that led to regime change in several European nations.

If 2012 is the Arab 1848, might 2013 turn out to be the 1852 of Arabs? In 1852 the European nations that had experienced revolution were struck by coups d’etat that established autocratic reactionary regimes.

Though useful at times, historic comparisons can also be misleading.

Leaving aside the particular case of Syria, the events that led to change in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen, were not the fruit of revolutionary action in its classical definition. What we saw was popular revolts largely confined to major cities and led by spontaneously created groups with no coherent revolutionary agenda. Although organised forces, notably Islamist and leftist outfits, later joined the uprising they did not succeed in seizing leadership. If some of those outfits ended up with the lion’s share of power they did so thanks to elections supervised by the ancien regime‘s military, and largely ignored by the mass of the electorate.

In those countries regimes fell for a variety of reasons.

Ben Ali’s regime in Tunisia fell victim of its own success in the field of economy and education plus its failure to curb corruption and open the political space. Tunisia had become an emerging nation with a robust economy and a well-educated middle class. What it lacked was the political freedom corresponding to its socio-economic level of development.

The Tunisia of 2010 resembled South Korea in the 1970s where a new socio-economic reality had outgrown the framework of a police state trying to contain it. In South Korea, the military and their corrupt police state had to go. Tunisia experienced a similar development. In both cases, the military decided they could not fight for a moribund regime.

In Egypt, by 2010, the contradictions of the Nasserist model prevented the regime from devising a coherent strategy.

Politically, President Mubarak suffered from split personality.

On the one hand he headed a regime created by force and largely sustained by violence for decades. On the other, he postured as an elected president in a democratic system. As a result he could not employ the resources of either personality to contain the crisis. I might also add that Mubarak, whom I have known since the 1970s, would never have thought of hanging on to power by massacring his people as Bashar al-Assad is doing in Syria.

In Yemen, the events that led to the departure of President Ali Abdullah Saleh were prompted by rivalries rooted in sectarian and tribal animosities not by any revolutionary agenda.

In every case, the so-called Arab Spring has produced changes within the regimes in place rather than revolutionary regime change.

Well, will 2013 become the Arab version of 1851 in Europe?

On the surface the safest answer would be a qualified yes. As already noted, in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen, Islamist parties with reactionary agendas now dominate the government, often in objective though uneasy alliance with the military and police. In every case the military may well seize control, using social disorder and/or economic decline as an excuse.

Nevertheless, I don’t think Arabs are heading towards an 1852.

Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Yemen are politically too fragile and economically too vulnerable to sustain a radical Islamist agenda.

In Iran that became possible because the Shah left behind a strong economy with one of the highest foreign currency reserves in the world. Oil revenues helped cover the follies of mullahs and their associates. More importantly, Iranian armed forces had never been political and, unlike their Arab, Turkish and Pakistani counterparts, had no tradition of seeking let alone exercising power.

Libya, of course, is a case apart. There, we have witnessed systemic collapse and the disintegration of the few state structures left behind by Gaddafi. Libya’s problem is not who exercises power but how the structures of power are erected.

Also a case apart is Syria. What started as a revolt for freedom has been transformed into a civil war and a humanitarian disaster. Every day that passes the possibility of a negotiated transition becomes more remote. The country could split across ethnic and sectarian lines. It could also morph into a stateless zone, a Somalia on the Mediterranean.

Only one thing is certain: the Assad regime is doomed.

In all of the Arab Spring countries the challenge is to create and/or recreate new state structures without which whoever is in nominal control will not be able to govern in any meaningful manner.

Those who depict President Mohamed Mursi as a new Pharaoh transgress the boundaries of exaggeration. Egypt today will not tolerate even the ghost of a Pharaoh and Mursi does not enjoy the ghost of pharaohnic power.

If Arab Spring countries are not heading for an 1852 it is partly because, unlike the European nations of the mid-19th century, they lack the structures that could enable new autocrats to impose control and exercise power. Khairat al-Shater, supposed to be the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s evil genius, might dream of imposing a new dictatorship in the name of religion. Having seen things from the inside, Mursi knows that such a dream would be shattered by reality.

In Arab Spring countries people power has asserted itself. The power game can no longer be confined to the military, the security services, the Islamist outfits and the business clans associated with them.
People power is the elephant that has to be brought into the china shop without shattering everything in its path. Some Arab leaders understand this and, each in their own way, are trying to find ways to accommodate this new reality.

As we enter 2013 a measure of cautious optimism may be in order.

Amir Taheri


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

Losing Our Sons

by Bruce Bawer


It is, in my view, the defining exchange of our time. It took place, not inappropriately, on Pearl Harbor Day of 2011, at one of the joint House-Senate hearings called by New York Congressman Peter King and Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman  to examine the radicalization of American Muslims. As seen in the You Tube video, Congressman Dan Lungren of California poses a simple, straightforward question to a witness, Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Stockton. “Secretary Stockton,” he asks, “are we at war with violent Islamist extremism?”

What follows is several minutes of the most grotesque and extraordinary dodging, as Stockton, despite unrelenting pressure from Lungren, repeatedly refuses to admit any connection between Islam and the “war on terror”: “We are at war with al-Qaeda, its affiliates and adherents….al-Qaeda are murderers with an ideological agenda…al-Qaeda is a violent organization dedicated to overthrowing the values that we intend to advance…” After a couple of minutes of proding, Stockton explains his dodging: “Al-Qaeda would love to convince Muslims around the world that the United States is at war with Islam. That’s a prime propaganda tool, and I’m not going to aid and abet that effort to advance their propaganda goals….I don’t believe it’s helpful to frame our adversary as Islamic, with any set of qualifiers that we might add. Because we are not at war with Islam.”

At this point, Lungren takes a slightly different tack: according to the Defense Department, it’s important to keep an eye out for certain “behavioral indicators” that can signal an individual’s turn to radicalism. Lungren notes that the Fort Hood jihadist identified himself on a calling card as a “Soldier of Allah.” Would that sort of thing, Lungren asks, be considered a “behavioral indicator”? If he were a soldier, would it be appropriate for him to report such a thing as a “behavioral indicator”? Stockton, though in a roundabout way, finally says yes – implicitly acknowledging something that every American already knows but that the government, perversely, is determined not to say straight out.

Some of us, including yours truly, have watched that exchange over and over again – perhaps because it take multiple viewings for the depth and breadth and likely long-term impact of this horrible folly to really sink in, and perhaps partly because this single brief interrogation tells us something about the nature of the human animal that is at once tragic and absurd. For my part, I had the occasion to view it yet again the other day, because it figures in a documentary I was watching, Losing Our Sons. Released earlier this year, Losing Our Sons is a powerful illustration of the human cost of the categorical refusal of Stockton and his “affiliates and adherents” to look reality squarely in the face.

The film’s point of departure is another encounter between two men – two very young men who came face to face in Little Rock one day in 2009. It’s also about their fathers.  Carlos Bledsoe, a black kid, grew up in Memphis, where his dad, Melvin, owned a sightseeing-bus firm, the Blues City Tours Company. Andy Long, a white kid from Little Rock, joined the Army at twenty-three; his dad, Daris Long, is a retired Marine who spent much of his life in Afghanistan (and whom Jamie Glazov interviewed in August). After Andy finished basic training, Daris explained to him in a heartfelt letter that “your job is to stand watch” and that “for those who have fought for it, freedom has a flavor the protected will never known.” The letter ended: “You are my son, my hero.” While Andy waited to be shipped off to Korea for his first tour of duty, he was assigned to work at a recruiting station in his native Little Rock.

During the time that Andy had spent training to be a soldier, Carlos had been undergoing a different kind of training. Moving from Memphis to Nashville, he discovered that city’s sizable Muslim community, of which the film provides an overview. At Nashville’s leading mosque, an imam warns his congregation not to be influenced by the “kufur” (infidels); at Vanderbilt University, the Muslim chaplain issues similar warnings about Westernization and the dangers of secular society – and, answering a student’s question, affirms that executing gays is entirely consistent with sharia law, which he supports. Meanwhile the religion editor of the local newspaper, the Tennessean, writes articles whitewashing all this mischief.

Long story short: Carlos Bledsoe, raised a Baptist, converted to Islam under the influence of these reprobates, changing his name to Abdulhakim Mohamed. For further jihad study, they sent him to an “institute” in Yemen that has served as a polishing school for al-Qaeda members. Caught with a fake Somali passport and a flash drive containing instructions for bomb-making, he spent four months in a Yemeni jail – after which, astonishingly (or not), he was able to return, apparently without any difficulty, to the U.S., where he began driving around the country in a car full of arms and ammunition seeking out appropriate targets for jihad. On June 2, 2009, he found one – an Army recruiting station in Little Rock, where he shot Andy Long to death.

Both Andy’s and Carlos’s fathers testified before the House Homeland Security Committee, and both had the same message: young Americans are being turned by American Islamic leaders into jihadists. Both fathers urged the panel to recognize that Carlos’s killing of Andy had been a terrorist act, pure and simple. “Our country needs to hear the truth,” Daris Long insisted. But some people didn’t want to hear the truth. With breathtaking condescension, Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA) dismissed the fathers’ testimony as “interesting” but “unenlightening” because it didn’t come from “experts.” Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonogh urged folks not to “stigmatize” Muslims. With very few exceptions, high-level government officials were agreed: to suggest that the Little Rock killing had been a jihadist act was pure Islamophobia. According to the Department of Justice, it not only wasn’t an act of jihad: it didn’t even qualify as a federal crime. The Army agreed, ruling that Andy wasn’t entitled to a Purple Heart. All this, despite the fact that Carlos, after his conviction, admitted to being a member of al-Qaeda – a jihadist out to kill U.S. soldiers and leaders of Jewish groups.

The Army’s position on the Little Rock case was identical to its stance on the murders at Fort Hood. Evidence be damned: neither of these incidents was a terrorist act. As Lieberman complained, “The Department of Defense is still not prepared to call the enemy what it is.” Nor was Attorney General Eric Holder, who, in testimony before the committee, insisted: “I don’t want to say anything negative about a religion.” Not even, obviously, if those negative things are true – and vital to American security.

This denial isn’t a partisan issue: both the Bush and the Obama administrations have bent over backwards, as the film puts it, “to accommodate Muslim sensibilities.” The official 9/11 commission report included repeated mentions of Islam and jihad, but since then government agencies have efficiently scrubbed these word from their accounts of terrorist acts. Faced with U.S.-based imams who openly support sharia law and “Muslim-rights” groups with known ties to terrorist groups, American authorities don’t acknowledge that these are enemies within but, instead, invite them to help instruct police officers about Islam and to serve as consultants to the Department of Homeland Security.

It’s a simple concept: know your enemy. After 9/11 there should have been a major educational effort to explain to American citizens the motives behind the attacks – to help them, just for starters, to understand jihad and its centrality to Islam. Instead what was set in motion under Bush, and intensified under Obama, was a comprehensive disinformation effort – an attempt to whitewash Islam, and to brand as Islamophobes all those who dare to speak the truth about it. As a result of this cowardice, two American fathers lost their sons – one of them transformed into a jihadist by hooligans who should never have been allowed into the country, and the other gunned down in an act of terrorism that officials high and low, trained in the post-9/11 Newspeak, refuse to call by its real name. In presenting its moving account of these sons and fathers, the film is, of course, also telling the story of America today – and of how our leaders’ Big Lie, perpetrated in the name of a misbegotten sensitivity, not only caused the death of Andy Long, but is, right before our eyes, strangling the very freedoms he signed up to defend.

Bruce Bawer


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

Journalists, Ulterior Motives and War-Torn Syria

by Kerry Patton


Syria’s ongoing atrocities have led to multiple discoveries revealing unprecedented amounts of covert activities. An array of international players exist in Syria, however, most observers solely focus on the Assad regime or his opposition comprising of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). There is so much more to the situation in Syria going unreported and it constitutes internationally led covert activities and the illegal incorporation of journalists possibly serving as spies.

After several days of deductive reasoning then a quick follow up with an undisclosed source that is incredibly active with the Syrian conflict, some points of covert activities have been confirmed. At least one US media network, and possibly more, has been involved in covering up some of the activities.

More interesting is the fact that some of these media networks have a history of chastising such intelligence practices especially when it comes to the incorporation of intelligence contractors.

Richard Engel, NBC News chief foreign correspondent, and his crew recently escaped from pro-Assad militants after being held for five days. Mixed reporting initially aired claiming he and his crew were abducted by the Free Syrian Army. NBC requested a temporary media blackout on this situation.

Engel and his crew miraculously freed themselves yet the escape was not as miraculous as he or NBC would like people to believe. There was an orchestrated attempt to see Engel and his team freed by international players many of whom have no government affiliation—i.e. independent contractors.

These international players worked closely with the Free Syrian Army formulating a plan of action, and that plan came to fruition.

With sound intelligence, an ambush was orchestrated on Engel’s capturers. The pro-Assad capturers were caught in a “dead zone” forced to return fire and engage the FSA opposition.

During this action, some of Engel’s captors were severely injured prompting Engel and his team to flee. Everything Engel revealed came to light, but a lot of missing points are still left unanswered.

Temporarily freed, Engel was still in a hostile region deep inside Syria. Who assisted him and his team to physically move out of that hostile region? Who assisted in his transportation needs to reach the border of Turkey?

The same people who engaged Engel’s captors were the same people who assisted in his travels to Turkey—the Free Syrian Army. This information has been confirmed by undisclosed Western sources intimately familiar with Engel’s escape as these sources were part of the planning process.

The same sources revealed a botched rescue mission conducted by the Free Syrian Army, which unfolded in September. It was a rescue mission to free US journalist Austin Tice. The former Marine Corp veteran was abducted in mid-August by pro-Assad militants.

The former Marine’s family recently begged for information pertaining to their son’s whereabouts. While no one can confirm his current whereabouts, it is known that in September, Mr. Tice was being held on an undisclosed airfield in Syria.

The airfield, which shall not be named due to intelligence security, was attacked by the FSA. The attack was a multi-pronged operation intended to destroy vital infrastructure, which included gas storage facilities, air traffic control, and even aircraft. The attack was also intended to free at least one Western journalist.

Operational security is vital in these types of missions. Leaks of information can get people killed. Unfortunately, the Free Syrian Army had a leak in their operation’s planning, which placed ground forces in a grueling situation, leaving some killed.

During this time in September, at least three air fields were attacked by the Free Syrian Army. Some of the attacks could be deemed successful while others were a complete nightmare. Needless to say, Austin Tice remains in pro-Assad militants’ captivity.

Another international journalist has been abducted, however most reporting claims the abduction was enacted by the Free Syrian Army. Ankhar Kotchneva, a Ukrainian journalist with Russian citizenship, has been missing since October.

The case of Ankhar Kotchneva is interesting. A few questions must be asked to determine her actual status. Some reports claim when Kotchneva was abducted, she was actually carrying a weapon.

Anti-Assad elements have stated that Kotchneva “was carrying a gun and was an interpreter for Russian officers.” Real journalists do not make it a habit to carry weapons while on assignment. Why was she carrying a weapon? Was she using journalism as a cover story for intelligence activities?

According to the, “Her coverage of the Syrian conflict for several Russian media, including NTV, RenTV and RT channels favored Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. She voiced support for the Syrian president in interviews she gave to other news outlets as an expert on the region. When she was abducted, Kotchneva was employed as an interpreter.”

At least one Eastern European media outlet acknowledges Kotchneva was not in Syria working as a journalist. Instead, she was serving as an interpreter. But who was she interpreting for? That question remains unknown. But what is known is this—no one is coming to her rescue any time soon.

Journalists have been rightly outraged over the ongoing crisis dealing with Ankhar Kotchneva. For many journalists, she is one of them. But emotions need to be taken out of the cognitive process to understand the life Ankhar Kotchneva could possibly have been living.

Remember Anna Chapman? How many American’s who were close to her refused to accept the fact that she was an actual spy for Russia? If Ankhar Kotchneva is actually found to be a spy for Russia, many journalists will likely go into denial as well.

Russia is playing a very dangerous game in Syria, and they have recently acknowledged that it appears Bashar Assad will likely lose the war. Russia backed the wrong team in Syria. Now they have one of their own citizens held against her will potentially facing execution for crimes of espionage.

When it comes to Syria, there is a difference between Russia’s activities and the West. Russia is physically placing its citizens in harm’s way on the ground in Syria. Some of those citizens may or may not be acting as journalists while they serve as spies.

Col. Stanislav Lunev has once revealed that many journalists from Russia and other countries are, in reality, intelligence gatherers. He also stated that many Russian journalists have recruited leading American reporters to engage in espionage as well.  Col. Lunev should know exactly how Russian covert operatives execute their missions. He was the highest-ranking spy ever to defect from the Russia’s top spy organization, the GRU.

The United States has strict laws against using journalists as spies. This does not mean it never happens, however. More often than not, journalists serve as sources for the US intelligence community. OSINT, Open Source Intelligence, is the lead in utilizing media for its intelligence activities.

50 USC § 403–7 titled, Prohibition on using journalists as agents or assets, specifically states that “the Intelligence Community may not use as an agent or asset for the purposes of collecting intelligence any individual who is authorized by contract or by the issuance of press credentials to represent himself or herself, either in the United States or abroad, as a correspondent of a United States news media organization.”

With more than 28 journalists killed in Syria just in 2012 alone, the war torn nation has become uniquely complex. Many of these journalists have been killed by pro-Assad forces while some have been killed by anti-Assad opposition.

Both sides have enacted the practice of targeting journalists and both sides may have good reason. Today, we learn that while most journalists are serving in ethical roles, some are not. Some, like Ankhar Kotchneva, may be serving in unique covert activities working as spies.

Kerry Patton


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Egyptian Cleric Threatens Egypt's Copts with Genocide

by Raymond Ibrahim

"The day Egyptians…feel you are against them, you will be wiped off the face of the Earth." — Dr. Wagdi Goneim
Islamic leaders continue to portray the popular protests against President Morsi and his recently passed Sharia-heavy constitution as products of Egypt's Christians. Recently, Muslim Brotherhood leader Safwat Hegazy said in an open rally, as captured on video:
A message to the church of Egypt, from an Egyptian Muslim: I tell the church — by Allah, and again, by Allah — if you conspire and unite with the remnants [opposition] to bring Morsi down, that will be another matter…. our red line is the legitimacy of Dr. Muhammad Morsi. Whoever splashes water on it, we will splash blood on him."
More recently, Dr. Wagdi Ghoneim — who earlier praised Allah for the death of the late Coptic Pope Shenouda, cursing him to hell and damnation on video — made another video, entitled, "A Notice and Warning to the Crusaders in Egypt," a reference to the nation's Copts, which he began by saying, "You are playing with fire in Egypt, I swear, the first people to be burned by the fire are you [Copts]." The video was made in the context of the Tahrir protests against Morsi: Islamic leaders, such as Hegazy and Ghoneim, seek to portray the Copts as dominant elements in those protests; according to them, no real Muslim would participate. Ghoneim even went on to say that most of the people at the protests were Copts, "and we know you hid your [wrist] crosses by lowering your sleeves."

The heart of Ghoneim's message was genocidal: "The day Egyptians — and I don't even mean the Muslim Brotherhood or Salafis, regular Egyptians — feel that you are against them, you will be wiped off the face of the earth. I'm warning you now: do not play with fire!"

Along with trying to incite Egypt's Muslims against the Copts, and threatening them with annihilation, Ghoneim made other telling assertions, including:
  • Addressing the Christians of Egypt as "Crusaders," once again showing Islam's simplistic, black-and-white vision, which clumps all Christians — of all nations, past and present, regardless of historical context and denomination — as one, in accordance with an Islamic tradition that states "All infidels are one religion."

  • Comparing Christian Copts to animals: "Respect yourselves and live with us and we will protect you... Why?... because Allah has forbidden me to be cruel to animals. I'm not trying to compare you to animals … but if I am not cruel to animals or plants, shall I be cruel to a soul created by Allah? You are an infidel in Allah's sight — and it is for him to judge you. However, when you live in my country, it is forbidden for me to be unjust to you — but that doesn't mean we are equal. No, oh no."

  • Telling Copts: "I want to remind you that Egypt is a Muslim country.... if you don't like the Muslim Sharia, you have eight countries that have a Cross on their flag [in Europe], so go to them. However, if you want to stay here in Egypt with us, know your place and be respectful. You already have all your rights — by Allah, even more than Muslims... No one investigates your homes, no one investigates your churches. In fact, in the past, the Islamic groups used to fake their IDs and put Christian names on them when they would go out for [jihadi] operations, so that when the police would catch them, they would see they are Christians and be left alone." Ghoneim misses the irony of what he says: Police know that Egyptian Christians are not going to engage in terror; Egyptian Muslims are suspect.

  • Saying, in mocking tones, towards the end: "What do you think — that America will protect you? Let's be very clear, America will not protect you. If so, it would have protected the Christians of Iraq when they were being butchered!" — a reference to the fact that, after the U.S. ousted Saddam Hussein, half of Iraq's Christian population has either been butchered or fled the nation, and all under U.S. auspices.

  • Claiming that the Copts are only four million while the Muslims are 85 million — even as Coptic Orthodox Church registries maintain that there are more than 15 million Copts, and most outside analysts say 10 million— and adding that Morsi was only being nice by saying, as he did during one of his speeches: "There are no minorities in Egypt." Ghoneim fails to explain, if Copts are so few — four million compared to 85 million — how could they be so influential, and flood the Tahrir protests with such large numbers?

  • Mocking new Coptic Pope Tawadros—not surprising considering his great hate for the former Pope—by claiming that the new Pope urged Copts to protest; that the new Pope wants to see Morsi and Sharia law fall, and by adding, "Is it not enough that you have all those monasteries?"

Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.


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Martin Peretz - an Appreciation

by Caroline Glick

martin peretz.jpg

By the time I began developing a political consciousness in the early 1980s, I didn't have any choice but to be on the right side of the political spectrum. By the early 1980s, the political Left in the US had already abandoned support for Israel.

When I grew up in what would later become Barack Obama's neighborhood in Chicago, the black political machine in the neighborhood and the city, led by the likes of Jesse Jackson and Louis Farrakhan was openly anti-Semitic and pro-Muslim. The white Left was also hostile. The Communists were anti-Israel. The media was anti-Israel. 

As a proud Jewish girl, it was clear to me from adolescence on that I could only locate myself on the political Right. 

This was not the case for people who came of age in the 1950s and early 1960s. At that time, the USSR had not yet cut off its relations with Israel. The civil rights movement was a joint Jewish-black movement. 

For those of you who don't know the history, the NAACP was founded by Jews. The plaintiff in Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, the landmark Supreme Court decision from 1954 that opened the path to school desegregation, was represented by the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund's legal team of Jack Greenberg and Thurgood Marshall. The famous Mississippi Burning incident where three civil rights workers were lynched in 1964 involved the murder of one black civil rights worker James Earl Chaney and two Jewish civil rights workers, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwermer.

But starting sometime around 1965, the blacks began the process of expelling the Jews from the Civil Rights movement, as they embraced anti-Semitism and the Arab war for the destruction of Israel. In New York City, this period reached a culmination in the 1968 teachers strike. The strike was caused by the decision of a black school board in Brownsville, Brooklyn to fire many of the Jewish teachers and administrators from the local schools and replace them with black separatist teachers and administrators. 

The head the teachers union Albert Shanker dated the end of Jewish-black cooperation to the strike.

While researching my book, yesterday I came across a fascinating FBI report from 1970 that was declassified under the Freedom of Information Act in 2009. Titled, "FBI Monograph: Fedayeen Impact - Middle East and United States, June 1970," it is focused on the PLO, and Fatah's penetration of the American political Left. 

Here's the link:

In the section on PLO operations in the US, The monograph discussed its outreach to the African American political leadership and the radical white establishment. These sections of the report are fascinating and I recommend you take an hour or so to read the entire document yourself. 

As the report puts it, "Since the June 1967, war, reports emanating from various sources have suggested that the Arabs have co-opted black extremists in the United States to assist the 'struggle' against Israel in the Middle East and in the United States."

The report makes specific mention of the co-optation of the Black Panther Party, (BPP), the Student National Coordinating Committee, (SNCC), Stokely Carmichael, and the Nation of Islam.

Several BPP leaders participated in anti-Israel conferences in Africa and the Middle East where they gave stridently anti-Semitic speeches calling for the destruction of Israel. In one speech in Algeria in 1969 BPP "Minister of Information" Eldridge Cleaver, "Proclaimed BPP support for the Arab position and criticized 'US-Zionists,' mentioning Arthur Goldberg, Henry A. Kissinger, and Judge Julius Hoffman. He also expressed BPP admiration for Yasir Arafat and al-Fatah. Cleaver and Arafat reportedly hugged and kissed each other and received a standing ovation from those at the conference."

In an interview with the New York Times on August 15, 1967, SNCC leader Ralph Featherston launched an all-out assault against Israel and Jews.

According to the FBI report, in the interview he said that "SNCC is drawn to the Arab cause because it is working toward a 'third world alliance of oppressed people all over the world - Africa, Asia, Latin America - and considers the Arabs have been oppressed continually by Israelis and by Europeans as well in such countries as Algeria.' He denied that SNCC was anti-Semitic, but was interested in indicting only 'Jewish oppressors,' a category he applied to Israel, and 'to those Jews in the little Jew shops in the ghettos.'"

Stokely Carmichael sang from the same song sheet and did so not in Algeria but on US college campuses such as George Washington University and Harvard beginning in 1970.

The Soviet Union openly sided with the Arabs in the Six Day War and cut off relations with Israel immediately following the war. The radical American Left, populated by the Communist Party USA and other Communist front groups and New Left groups abandoned Israel at the same time. This mass abandonment included the Progressive Labor Party; Students for a Democratic Society, (SDS); SDS-Weathermen; the Socialist Workers Party; Workers World Party; and the Communist Party - USA, (CPUSA).

Since President Obama's political world is populated by individuals from all these groups, and since Obama launched his political career in the living room of SDS-Weathermen terror commanders Bernadine Dohrn and Bill Ayers, it is worth noting that in the SDS-Weathermen magazine "SDS Fire" December 6, 1969 issue, contained an editorial stating that "Arab peoples, above all the Palestinian people, will not and cannot accept the existence of Israel, a colonial-type creature imposed by outside forces on the area."

A notable exception to the far Left's abandonment of Israel and embrace of anti-Semitism was Ramparts Magazine, the New Left publication founded by David Horowitz and Peter Collier. Among other pro-Israel Ramparts articles the FBI report cites, it notes in particular one by then Harvard Professor Martin Peretz from July 1967. 

In his article, Peretz took on the propaganda claims against Israel one by one and discredited them. Among other things, he said that Israel is not a colonialist state; there is no similarity whatsoever between the US war in Vietnam, which as a self-proclaimed radical he opposed, and Israel; the creation of Israel was not sponsored by imperialist powers; Nasser is not a socialist. 

Peretz excoriated the Third World and Communist countries for their failure to recognize the Arab threat to Israel's existence, calling their behavior "disgusting."

The FBI report notes that the CPUSA's support for the Arabs against Israel caused massive dissension in the ranks of the party, mentioning that some 75 percent of CPUSA's members were Jewish. Jewish Communists in Chicago collected blood and plasma for Israel and donated money. Dissenters were also heard loudly in New York.

The reason I entitled this post "Martin Peretz, an appreciation," is not for what he wrote in 1967, but because of what has happened to the Left, the Jewish Left and to Peretz in the 46 years that have passed since he wrote that article. 

In the late 1960s, Peretz wasn't alone in defending Israel against the radical Left - white and black. In 1967, even Jewish Communists were willing to break ranks to support Israel. And as the 1968 New York Teachers Strike showed, at the time, liberal Jews in general were willing to defend themselves from attacks by black anti-Semites. 

But in the intervening years, fewer and fewer voices on the Left, and specifically on the Jewish Left were willing to take such positions and pit themselves against their movement. And so as the decades passed, what were the positions of the radical Left in the 1960s became increasingly the positions of the mainstream Left, until by last summer, they became the positions of the majority of delegates at the Democratic National Convention.

When I was growing up in Chicago, the local Jewish establishment's refusal to support Israel in the 1982 Lebanon War is what made me decide to make aliyah. By the time I arrived at Columbia in 1987, and the Palestinian uprising broke out, it was hard to find Jewish leaders who were willing to stand up for Israel without stuttering. 

Today the situation has become simply untenable. Suffice it to say that Bill Ayres's political protégé Barack Obama's success in garnering 70 percent of the Jewish vote is not an aberration. 

Yet through it all, Martin Peretz has rarely wavered. Despite his attempts to support the Palestinians, he has not allowed his desire to see the Arab conflict with Israel resolved  diminish his support for Israel. He has remained a staunch, loyal defender of Israel. When I was growing up, I relied on his New Republic for its reporting on Israel and the Middle East. Peretz was one of my intellectual heroes. 

In recent years, I've felt more bemused by than respectful of Peretz. A colleague of mine quipped some years back that Peretz and Allan Dershowitz live in an intellectual universe populated only by Peretz and Dershowitz and they refuse to acknowledge that they are alone. That quip has probably anchored my thinking on both men ever since. 

But even if my colleague's remark was more true than false, reading the FBI report, I decided I should discard its snide diminution of Peretz. The fact is, he has been fighting this fight for nearly fifty years. As a man of the Left, he has fought the fight for Israel and Jewish rights, increasingly alone for nearly fifty years, and has done so despite what must have been enormous personal costs as his comrades all jumped ship, and in many cases, joined the cause of Israel's enemies.

don quixote.gif

Cervantes's Don Quixote is generally reviled as a fool for his futile battle against windmills. By the same token, Leftists who insist that their movement -- which long ago parted company with the ideals it claims to represent, and serves as a warm political home for totalitarian anti-Semites -- must  side with good against evil, necessarily call up the image of Don Quixote fighting the forces of nature.

But when you think about it, there is something heroic about keeping up a battle even if it is doomed to fail, simply because it is the right thing to do. So hats off to Peretz for keeping true.

Caroline Glick


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

CAIR Protests Saudi Radical's Exclusion From U.S.

by IPT News

The head of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) vows to complain to U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials after they blocked a radical Saudi cleric from entering the country this week to attend a national Islamist conference in Chicago.

Sheikh Ayed al-Qarni was scheduled to speak twice during the Muslim American-Society (MAS)/Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) national convention Dec. 22-25. But a statement released during the convention expressed "the unpleasant and saddening news" that al-Qarni had been removed from his flight from Saudi Arabia despite having a visa from the U.S. embassy, and that he appears to be on the U.S. "no-fly list." Al-Qarni is described as "one of our great speakers" and as someone known "for his logical discourse and balanced views, he promotes understanding and collaboration between all people, regardless of their faith, background, or language."

Al-Qarni has advocated jihad in the past and his preaching on the subject has been described as influential among al-Qaida followers.

CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad told an Arabic news outlet that he would protest al-Qarni's exclusion with DHS and State Department officials. "We defend all Muslims who are subject to arbitrary measure, and by this logic, we will act but not formally plead, unless we obtain authorization from him."

It's an ironic protest to make in light of a public relations campaign orchestrated by CAIR's Chicago chapter. "MyJihad" aims to show non-Muslims that the term jihad is more about peaceful, personal attempts at overcoming challenges than about calls for violence and terror.

Through Awad, also a listed speaker at the convention, CAIR is fighting to bring a Saudi cleric into the United States who has argued the exact opposite message. During a 2005 sermon flagged by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), al-Qarni called the jihad against American forces in Fallujah "a source of pride … downing their planes, destroying equipment, slaughtering them, taking them hostage, and proclaiming 'Allah Akhbar' from the mosques, and the worshippers and the preacher cursing them in their prayers, and then come others begging for forgiveness, and requesting a dialogue and a ceasefire and negotiations. Who can say even one word against this true Jihad against these colonialist occupiers?" [Emphasis added]

He belittled Muslims who failed to take action, including "harming the Jews." He invoked Israel's targeted killings of Hamas leaders Ahmed Yassin and Abdel-Aziz Rantisi, saying he prayed that Allah "will destroy the Jews and their helpers from among the Christians and the Communists, and that He will turn them into the Muslims' spoils. I praise the Jihad, the sacrifice, and the resistance against the occupiers in Iraq. We curse them all of them every night and pray that Allah will annihilate them, tear them apart, and grant us victory over them..."

"Throats must be slit and skulls must be shattered," al-Qarni said. "This is the path to victory, to shahada, and to sacrifice."

This was no one-time rant.

A 2005 interview published in the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi March 2005 quoted Nasir Ahmad Nasir Abdallah al-Bahri, one of Osama bin Laden's personal bodyguards, saying al-Qarni was among the Saudi clerics whose preaching influenced bin Laden's followers.

"We were also influenced by the sermons delivered by some speakers in the mosques in Jedda about jihad in Afghanistan. The cassettes on jihad that influenced us most were those by Shaykh A'id [Ayed] al-Qarni, especially the first cassette, titled 'Nights in Afghanistan,' and the second cassette, 'The Afghanistan I saw. Al-Qarni used to speak, enjoin, and call for jihad in an astonishing way."

Al-Qarni also attracted Western attention in 2004 when he called it a sin for women to drive cars in Saudi Arabia. The practice would spread corruption and lead to "mingling between the sexes, men being alone with women and the destruction of the family and society in whole."

On top of all that, he has been accused of intellectual dishonesty. Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Culture and Information fined al-Qarni 300,000 Saudi riyals earlier this year for allegedly plagiarizing chapters from a book by a Saudi woman.

But even with al-Qarni's absence, the MAS-ICNA conference still featured speakers who advocate violent jihad. Among them, Kifah Mustapha spoke at, and promoted the event, saying, "It's about learning from the scholars and the teachers who are coming from all over the world to be with you in these few days."

Mustapha was a paid fundraiser for the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, which in 2008 was convicted of funneling more than $12 million to the terrorist group Hamas. He also performed at HLF and other events in a singing troupe known as the al-Sakhra band. In one video among many similar ones entered into evidence at the trial, Mustapha joins in singing:
O mother, Hamas called for Jihad.
Over mosques' loudspeakers, with freedom.
Every day it resists with stones and the dagger.
Tomorrow, with God's help, it will be with a
machine gun and a rifle.

Other exhibits – internal records seized by FBI agents – showed that officials from both CAIR and the Holy Land Foundation were part of an umbrella group known as the "Palestine Committee." That group, records show, was created by the Muslim Brotherhood in America to help the Hamas terrorist group politically and financially.

MAS, one of the convention sponsors, also has direct ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, as documented by the Chicago Tribune in 2004, and as described in sworn testimony last spring by Abdurrahman Alamoudi, once the nation's most influential Islamist activists, who is currently serving a 23-year prison sentence in a terrorism financing case.

In addition, convention speaker Jamal Badawi is a MAS founder and is listed on the first page of a 1992 telephone directory of Brotherhood members admitted into evidence in the Holy Land Foundation trial.

Badawi praised the jihad of Gaza-based terrorists during a February 2009 speech on "Understanding Jihad and Martyrdom," at the Chebucto Mosque in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He also criticized Muslims who considered attacks on Israelis to be terrorism.

"They [moderate Muslims] made this accusation, but they did not even stop at accusations, they did cooperate with the enemies of humanity, to kill their own brothers and sisters," he said.

He led an dialogue session three years earlier called "Martyrdom in Islam: Let's Discuss it." In it, he compared suicide bombers to "freedom fighters" fighting the Nazis or the Japanese kamikazes fighting the Americans.

He also has openly questioned whether Islam and democracy are compatible. "The Qur'an and Prophetic tradition are the ultimate constitution," he wrote in 2004.

Yet another MAS-ICNA convention speaker urged Muslims to help finance jihad. Ragheb Elsergany's past convention speeches were so extreme, organizers promised not to invite him back. But this year's appearance is at least the second since that pledge was made.

During the 2009 conference, Elsergany spoke of jihad as one of the greatest acts to please Allah, "and one of the greatest of them is supporting the fighters, and the mujahideen [Islamic warriors] and the besieged, and those in need there in Palestine," he said in an Arabic session entitled "The Gaza Struggle."

Elsergany then pushed people to donate money to the cause. "Allah has entrusted us with the money for our brothers and sisters, to confer upon the people of Palestine the surplus of our money. This is their right," he said. "They are the ones who face the Zionists with their chests, their nerves, their lives, their children, their holy places and their sacred places. They are the ones standing [in] front of us and we are standing behind them. You Muslims are abandoning this role."

In the 2011 conference, Elsergany predicted a day when "all of Palestine" would be liberated. The rise of Islamist governments in the Middle East and North Africa was clearing the way for "the Zionist entity" to "vanish absolutely," he said.

The United States government may have kept al-Qarni out of the country, but the MAS-ICNA convention still featured speakers who have called for the destruction of an existing nation, who have praised jihad as the use of violence to praise Allah, and who have documented ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Awad's pledge to take al-Qarni's case to decision-makers in Washington so far has been made only in Arabic media with no accompanying release for U.S. audiences. It's no wonder.

IPT News


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