Friday, January 11, 2013

Mordechai Kedar: The State of the Jewish Brotherhood

by Mordechai Kedar

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

The elections  are approaching in Israel, and polls are predicting what the Arab media calls, with great dread, "the meteoric rise of the radical right in Israel". Every article about  the Israeli political map has the latest polls, showing the obvious trend that all of us here are aware of. In recent days this writer's telephone has been ringing constantly, with a representative of one Arab media outlet or another on the other end, all of whom are absorbed by one great concern:  the strengthening of the Jewish spirit in Israel. The radio stations in the Palestinian Authority, where - I must admit - I am often interviewed, express the most apprehension.

The question is: Why is the Arab world so concerned and what are they worried about? One possible answer is that the radical right will take over the country and Israel will go to war against the Palestinians in order to destroy the Palestinian Authority and undo all of the achievements, especially the international recognition that they won in the General Assembly of the UN about two months ago. Even if I cannot deny this possibility, it doesn't seem to me that this is the real reason for the anxiety, because there are many - especially in the Palestinian Authority - who wish to dissolve the PA, as we saw last week in the article that we published on this honorable platform.

The reasons for the concern are deeper than this, and stem from the cultural mindset of the region. An Israel that has a strong character and is confident of itself and the justice of its cause, might stop behaving like a dishrag, as it has done in the past, more than once, under the irresponsible leadership of the bleeding hearts who are the "Pursuers of Peace", and might adopt a pattern of behavior
typical to the Middle East. More than a few Israeli politicians, some of them prime ministers, who sought "a solution now" have earned for Israel the image of "peace seekers", according to their point of view, but which the Middle East understood as "Obsequious beggars pleading for a little peace and quiet". In the Middle East only the vanquished, pleading for his life to be spared, begs for peace, and usually he will get a big, strong kick that will hurl him all the way down the stairs. Peace is the last thing you get when you beg for it.

In the embattled region where Israel is situated, the weak individual gets beaten up: he is shot at, missiles rain down upon him, his buses are blown up, he is de-legitimized, marginalized diplomatically, sued in international courts, states are established on his back that threaten him and declare their violent struggle against him again and again, and he - the weak one - must take all of this garbage that is rained down upon him and say, "It's only words". Sometimes he issues a warning but few take him seriously because he is weak and obsequious; he "seeks peace".

In contrast, only the strong and self-confident, he who can pose a threat, who does not restrain himself at all from utilizing full force, who will not surrender anything due to him, will have peace and tranquility. Everyone else will leave him be because they fear him, and this is the only peace that is recognized in the Middle East. Peace belongs to the one who responds with great power to the first missile that falls into his territory, even if it falls in an open area; who doesn't say on the radio, "no damage was caused", because the truth of the matter is that indeed great damage was caused to his sovereignty, and nothing is more important than his sovereignty.  Would a normal person accept someone shooting at his house, even if "no damage was caused"?

The Arab world fears an Israel that after the elections might be - good heavens - more Jewish, because then the world might remember that the Jews, not the Israelis, were expelled from here 1942 years ago, and now the Jews have returned to their historic land - Judea. A more Jewish Israel might be a "bad" example to Europe, where a sense of national identity is in continual decline and where they watch with indifference the alien invasion that is threatening the character of Europe. The strengthening of the Israeli Right might therefore encourage the European Right to put an end to the great immigration of the masses who expect to turn Europe into their land.

A Jewish Israel could be a magnet attracting Jews the world over to immigrate to Israel and to make Israel the center of their life, and thus it will be strengthened demographically, economically, socially and politically. This process might be encouraged by the antisemitism in Europe, which is rising as the Jews lose their influence and the public weight is transferred to groups of immigrants that don't become part of the society of old, sleepy Europe.

A Jewish Israel will  concentrate within it the educated Jews, the entrepreneurs, the inventors, the developers and the cutting-edge scientists who brought the Jewish people a prodigious number of Nobel prizes, and thus Israel will become a bastion of science, technology and development, innovation and entrepreneurship, while everything around it - chiefly in the past two years - becomes a quagmire of blood, fire and tears, pillars of smoke, destruction and devastation.

A sovereign and self-confident Jewish Israel will prove to its neighbors again that the Jews are not just another "protected people" ("ahl dhimmi" in their language) who must live according to rules determined by the imams, and must "pay the head tax in a humiliated condition" (Qur'an, Sura 9, Verse 29) according to the custom in the Arabian Peninsula of the seventh century CE. A Jewish Israel will cling with more determination to Jerusalem, the capital of the Jews since 3000 years ago, long before the sons of the desert broke into it and invented a history that supposedly grants them the rights to Jerusalem since the creation of the world.

With a Jewish Israel, the mutual bonds of responsibility will be strengthened among Jews, and they will establish a more just, unified, fair and humane society, and Jewish society will be stronger and more robust, more determined and more able to stand the tests  of life that anyone who wants to survive in the Middle East are subjected to. This society will have a clearer self image, and will not need to discriminate against minorities only in order to prove to itself that it is "different". As a result of this, the way the state relates to minorities, especially the Muslim minority, will be more humane and understanding, because - after all - many of the Jewish majority and the Muslim minority see eye to eye concerning the true problems of traditional society in a modern and permissive physical and virtual environment. Jews and Muslims alike aspire to promote the education of the young generation, ethical behavior of the sons and daughters of their society, restricting the use of drugs and alcohol, honoring parents and teachers and adherence to religious and traditional values.

A Jewish Israel will present a solid wall of defense against Islamic radicalization and tribalism in the Arab world, and will prove that only a people who clings to its identity and is faithful to its heritage can stand strong against the tidal wave of radicalization and violence that engulfs the Middle East, and this is exactly what frightens our neighbors: those who hoped that with the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, Israel would be paralyzed with fear and would flee from all of its assets, discover that, contrary to their theory, Israel is the state of the Jewish Brotherhood, and will not flee from an enemy. A Jewish state such as this will prove to those near and far that the Jews have returned to their historical and eternal homeland and will remain there forever and ever, and only this way will Israel win peace from her neighbors. It will not be a peace of hugs and kisses, because there is no such thing in the Middle East, but rather it will be a peace that stems from our neighbors' recognition of the reality that the Almighty has imposed upon them, and the realization that they have no choice but to accept it as it is. Within Islamic tradition, there is a way to give peace to infidels who are invincible; temporary peace that continues as long as the enemy is invincible. This is the peace that Israel can win from her neighbors, and it will continue forever, but only if Israel is invincible forever.

A more Jewish Israel will ensure peace among all of the citizens and will oblige her neighbors to leave her in peace, and this is the reason that her neighbors fear a more Jewish Israel.

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته
a-salam 'alaykum warahmat Allah wabarakatuhu.
[Peace be upon you and Allah's mercy and his blessings.]


Dr. Kedar is available for lectures

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

Translated from Hebrew by Sally Zahav with permission from the author.

Additional articles by Dr. Kedar

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


The Twilight of America

by Melanie Phillips

I think this is what is called a slam dunk.  Barack Obama has now proposed filling the three positions in the US administration most concerned with the security of the nation and the defence of the free world, those at State, Defence and the CIA, by three men who have all taken up positions which can only strengthen those who threaten the security of America and the survival of the free world.

Obama proposes to instal as Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel. Six years ago, Senator Hagel refused to sign a letter pressing the European Union to declare the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia, which has bombed US targets and killed and kidnapped Americans and other westerners, a terrorist organisation. He repeatedly voted against sanctions against Iran, opposing even those aimed at the Iranian Revolutionary Guards which had orchestrated bomb attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq.

He gave vent to primitive anti-Jewish conspiracy theory by moaning that ‘the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people here’ (in Washington DC). He has also made comments about gay people which are deemed to be ‘homophobic’. No matter – not even this most lethal of accusations from his own support base has deflected Obama’s intention to appoint him.

Next, Obama proposes to make John Brennan head of the CIA. Brennan – who unlike the rest of the English-speaking world is said to refer to Jerusalem only by its Arabic name, al Quds -- has consistently downplayed, misunderstood and sought to appease Islamic terrorism and extremism.

In 2008, Brennan wrote in The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science:

‘A critical step toward improved US-Iranian relations would be for US officials to cease public Iran-bashing, a tactic that may have served short-term domestic political interests, but that has heretofore been wholly counterproductive to U.S. strategic interests.’

In 2010, Brennan said this about Hezbollah:

‘There is [sic] certainly the elements of Hezbollah that are truly a concern to us what they’re doing. And what we need to do is to find ways to diminish their influence within the organisation and to try to build up the more moderate elements.’

Anyone ever heard of a ‘moderate’ Hezbollah member?

In another twist, Brennan faces publicly expressed hostility from the left who claim that he has supported the CIA’s interrogation tactics which included waterboarding – a claim he denies. No matter – not even this visceral reaction from his own support base has deflected Obama’s intention to appoint him.

Then there is Obama’s pick for Secretary of State John Kerry, who came home from Vietnam a decorated war hero and then turned viciously against the military and the exercise of American power.

Like Hagel, Kerry has been a supporter of Syria's President Assad. In 2010, Kerry met Assad and called Syria

‘an essential player in bringing peace and stability to the region’.

Name an enemy of civilised values – Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, Castro in Cuba – and you find Kerry urging engagement with them or, as he did with FARC, the Colombian narco-terrorist group, claiming they have ‘legitimate complaints’. Last year Kerry praised Egypt’s ruler Mohamed Morsi for ‘protecting fundamental freedoms, including women’s rights, minority rights, the right to free expression and assembly’; shortly afterwards, Morsi assumed dictatorial powers (later modified under pressure) and his forces were beating up opponents in the street.

These three men, Hagel, Brennan and Kerry, are all examples of post-Vietnam demoralisation syndrome – the deeply pessimistic belief that America cannot and should not fight to defend its security and values anywhere in the world; that if bad people are defeated in war only worse people will ever take their place; and that therefore the best strategy for America is to buy them all off, pull up the drawbridge and retreat into a self-delusional isolation.

These are people who are the living embodiment of civilisational exhaustion and decline. In any healthy society, they would be considered marginal, third-rate figures characterised variously by moral spinelessness, stupidity and knuckle-dragging prejudice. Yet not only has Obama put such people forward to manage the security of America, at a time when Iran  is racing to build its nuclear bomb and Islamic radicals are destroying lives and freedom across the world and making headway into the west -- in part because of the policies of Obama himself; even more stunningly, the American liberal media, along with timid or ideologically partisan US Jewish leaders, remain silent about these astoundingly destructive appointments because it is Obama who is making them.

No wonder Iran is purring that it looks forward to a new and closer relationship with the US. It thinks that now it will have a clear run to producing its nuclear bomb -- the weapon which not only threatens genocide against the Jewish people who these three treat with such contempt and worse, but threatens the American people and the free world with the civilisational jihad that this trio so obtusely refuse to acknowledge for the mortal threat to life and liberty that it actually represents.

If these three appointments are confirmed, Obama will have removed the last vestiges of independent thinking from his security and foreign policy team and honed his administration to deliver his uninterrupted vision for changing the geopolitical balance of the world. The fear is that, against the pivotal threat of our time, this will entail failing to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear capability while putting the screws on Israel to abandon its own nuclear arsenal. Thus the genocidal aggressor will be empowered, while its principal putative victim will be left defenceless --and the west will belatedly wake up to the fact that it is in a war it cannot win.

Beyond terrifying. Beyond belief.

Melanie Phillips


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An Administration That Won’t Face Reality

by Jonathan S. Tobin

President Obama isn’t likely to have much trouble getting the Senate to confirm Jack Lew as his new treasury secretary. Though Senator Jeff Sessions has vowed to try and stop Lew, there is nothing in the nominee’s long record of service to Democratic presidents that would disqualify him for the office. Given the fight that is brewing over the nominations of Chuck Hagel and John Brennan for the Department of Defense and the CIA, there is little appetite on the Hill for any further effort to deny the president his choice to run an important department.

But even though Lew will probably be easily confirmed, his nomination is one more signal that there may be no way to avoid more bitter and counter-productive confrontations with Congress over the budget. Lew is well known to be a hard-core progressive who, during the negotiations with Republicans over the debt ceiling and the fiscal cliff, made it clear that he opposes any true reform of entitlement spending. Having run to the left and won re-election, President Obama is entitled to try and govern from the left. Lew’s selection illustrates that this is his intention. But though he may have a mandate to govern, that doesn’t give him the power to alter reality. If he isn’t prepared to start thinking about cutting spending, then no amount of rhetorical excess will prevent this country from going further down the road to insolvency.

Lew’s hard-line liberalism is exactly what qualifies him to sit in Obama’s new cabinet of yes-men. That he has the trust of the president after serving him faithfully as White House chief of staff is to his credit, but that doesn’t change the fact that an administration economic team that is dedicated to defending the status quo is exactly what the country doesn’t need as we sink further into a period of fiscal crisis.

Mr. Obama seems to think that he can avoid the usual second term blues that afflict most presidents by creating a team with a hard ideological edge that won’t lose focus or lack the energy to fight for the things he believes. That’s an interesting working theory for how to be the first president to avoid a miserable second term since Theodore Roosevelt. But he and Jack Lew seem to think that he can alter the basic laws of economics the way King Canute sought to alter the laws of nature at the seashore.

By replacing Tim Geithner—a man who for all of his flaws had a grasp of what was good or bad for the nation’s economy—with a left-wing ideologue, Obama is telling us that he thinks his second term will be one in which his political beliefs can contradict the basic fact that the United States cannot tax its way out of its spending problem. While the liberal press continues to portray the president’s conservative opponents as extremists, it is clearer than ever that the real radicals are in the White House and now at the Treasury.

Jonathan S. Tobin


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Hagel Nomination Conveys Chilling Message

by Isi Leibler

In light of the opposition generated when former Senator Chuck Hagel’s candidacy for defense secretary was initially mooted, most analysts predicted, mistakenly, that President Barack Obama would not proceed with the appointment. 

The decision to appoint such an extreme isolationist to this position sends a chilling signal about the broad direction of Obama’s foreign policy during the next four years. 

But there are particularly disconcerting connotations for American Jews and Israel.

For a start, by appointing a person with such a consistent track record of disdain for Israel, it is evident that Obama has no inhibitions or concerns about alienating and distressing the vast majority of Jews who voted for him and whom he now takes for granted.

Obama is nominating a man who accused “the Jewish lobby” of disloyalty, of harboring dual allegiances and acting as a fifth column by supporting Israel. The views are similar to the anti-Semitic stereotypes described by authors Walt and Mearsheimer in their notorious book “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy."

Beyond this, Hagel’s senatorial voting record in relation to Israel, even declining to endorse Senate resolutions broadly supporting Israel, would place him as one of the most hostile senators in recent times. 

What makes Hagel’s nomination as defense secretary even more alarming is that he also has a consistent track record of totally opposing any actions against Iran, including sanctions.
For six months before the election, Obama repeatedly pledged that he would not merely “contain” Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but would ensure that Iran would never develop a nuclear bomb. Yet Hagel explicitly promoted a policy of “containment” as opposed to military action. 

Given this context, one is entitled to query how Obama could appoint Hagel, whose record on this issue was so diametrically opposed to his own stated position? Or has Obama’s position changed? 

What sort of message does this send to Iran? The Iranian state-owned Press TV referred to Obama’s nomination of the “anti-Israeli ex-Senator Chuck Hagel as the next defense secretary,” pointing out that “he has consistently opposed any plan to launch military strikes against Iran.” The Iranian Foreign Ministry said this suggested potential “practical changes” in U.S. foreign policy which would bring about an improvement of relations between Washington and Tehran. 

Obama was certainly aware that prominent mainstream Democrats were opposed to such an appointment. The New York Times conceded that even “some Obama aides had doubts about the wisdom of the choice,” and the liberal Washington Post made it clear that it considered Hagel an inappropriate nominee for the position. 

Alan Dershowitz, who supported Obama during the election, stated that the appointment would send a mixed message to the mullahs and embolden those who assumed that Obama was bluffing, thus increasing the likelihood of needing to resort to the military option. He maintained that the Hagel nomination was “not only a mistake for Israel” but “a mistake for America, a mistake for world peace.” He said the move would undermine Israeli confidence in Obama’s commitment to ensure that Iran never becomes a nuclear power and would reinforce Israeli fears that the country was on its own. 

Ed Koch, former Democratic New York mayor, who also endorsed Obama, cynically told the Algemeiner Jewish newspaper that he had anticipated that the president would renege on support for Israel, but “it comes a little earlier than I thought.” He said the nomination “will encourage the Iranian nuclear project and the jihadists” in the belief that “America is beginning to desert Israel,” adding “I’m sure the Arabs are drinking orange juice and toasting Hagel’s good health.”

The American Jewish leadership is deeply distressed. 

AIPAC did not formally comment on the issue, stating that “AIPAC does not take positions on presidential nominations.” Yet there is no doubt that the leaders who need to maintain access to the Pentagon were privately anguished and bitterly opposed to the Hagel nomination.

Interestingly, the nonpartisan heads of major Jewish organizations uncharacteristically condemned Hagel’s views unequivocally. 

ADL head Abe Foxman initially accused Hagel of statements “bordering on anti-Semitism.” After the nomination, while reiterating that Hagel would not have been his first choice, he said he “respects the president’s prerogative” but still needed to be “convinced” that Hagel’s positions were in fact “misunderstood.”

The American Jewish Committee’s David Harris remarked that “we have concerns,” and urged the Senate to “fully probe” the nomination. Rabbi Marvin Hier, head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said the Hagel appointment sent the wrong message to the Iranian mullahs and called on him to apologize for his “hateful statements” on Israel.

In contrast, when trial balloons about Hagel were initially floated, Jews on the Left aggressively promoted his candidacy.

New York Times columnist Tom Friedman lauded Hagel as an ideal candidate, dismissing his former hostility to Israel and offensive remarks on the Jewish lobby. He also lambasted Jewish critics, whom he accused of either being motivated or manipulated by the Israeli far Right, and having the chutzpah to label them as McCarthyists for daring to question Hagel’s political bona fides. 

Friedman’s fellow columnist Roger Cohen described Hagel as “a quite a strong friend of Israel” and castigated unrepresentative “well-organized and remorseless” extreme right-wing Jewish leaders who endorsed those who “propel Israel into repetitive many wars of dubious strategic value,” saying they were behind the campaign against Hagel’s nomination.

Similar views were expressed by Peter Beinart in his Open Zion blog, who effectively campaigned for Hagel’s candidature. J Street launched a slogan, “Smear a Bagel not Chuck Hagel,” and was supported by the Israel Policy Forum and Americans for Peace Now.

The National Jewish Democratic Council, which in 2007 had alleged that Hagel had “a lot of questions to answer about his commitment to Israel,” stated that despite having “expressed concerns in the past, we trust that when confirmed former Senator Chuck Hagel will follow the president’s unrivaled support for Israel.”

The reality is that the vast majority of Jews, including Democrats, are deeply distressed with the choice. Dershowitz claims that 95 percent of the Jewish community opposes the appointment.

Yet while Jews have a particular reason to dislike Hagel’s approach, his selection has far wider global implications. There are concerns that Obama is renewing his former policy of “engaging” rogue states and appeasing Islamic extremism.

There will undoubtedly be some tough cross-examination in the Senate, and Hagel will in all likelihood play down or modify some of his previous positions. He already insists that his remarks have been distorted and that his statements always represented “unequivocal, total support for Israel.” But while his confirmation is far from a certainty, with the Democrats controlling the Senate, the odds are in his favor. 

The Israeli government has, correctly, not commented on what is clearly a U.S. domestic issue. But we should be under no illusions. If Hagel’s appointment is confirmed, the newly appointed defense secretary will have a clear track record of appeasing the Iranians, reaching out to Hamas and being highly critical of pro-Israeli influence in Washington. The appointment will signal that Israel’s relationship with the Obama administration may be more turbulent than we had hoped.

Isi Leibler’s website can be viewed at He may be contacted at


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German Journalist Among Top Ten Anti-Semites of 2012

by Soeren Kern

"Judeophobes never call themselves 'anti-Semitic.' They are usually indignant at the very suggestion that they have something against the Jews. Their dream, in the name of human rights, has been to deny to the Jewish people a fundamental human right they would militantly defend for non-white peoples -- above all, the Palestinians -- the right to national self-determination." — from European Anti-Semitism Reinvents Itself, by the American Jewish Committee
The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Los Angeles-based Holocaust history museum and human rights organization, has placed the German critic of Israel, Jakob Augstein, on a list of top ten anti-Semites in the world.

Augstein, a journalist who owns the left-wing weekly Der Freitag and who writes an opinion column for the German news magazine Der Spiegel, is known in Germany and elsewhere for his anti-Israel tirades.

The decision to include Augstein on the annual list of the worst anti-Semites was meant to draw attention to the growing problem of European journalists whose obsessive criticism of Israel frequently crosses the line into blatant anti-Semitism.

Rather than acknowledge that anti-Semitism often masquerades as anti-Zionism, many German media elites (particularly those on the political Left, who are not accustomed to accountability, especially from American Jews) have defaulted to attacking the messenger.

Most of Augstein's defenders insist that his criticism of Israel does not qualify as anti-Semitism and that the Wiesenthal Center was wrong to place Augstein in the same league as Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, which tops the list, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who comes in second.

If so, at what point does anti-Zionism become anti-Semitism?

In an interview with the German newspaper Die Zeit, the associate dean of the Wiesenthal Center, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, said criticism of Israel becomes anti-Semitism when it passes the "3-D" test. According to the "3-D" formulation, which was conceived by the chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, Natan Sharansky, individuals meet the criteria of modern anti-Semitism when they Demonize, Delegitimize and apply Double-standards to the Jewish state. Augstein, in Cooper's view, clearly meets the "3-D" threshold.

The Wiesenthal Center bases its accusation against Augstein on five quotes, taken from various columns, in which he not only criticizes Israeli foreign policy, but also repeats conspiratorial anti-Semitic falsehoods, and defends an anti-Semitic poem by the German Nobel Prize-winning novelist Günter Grass, who has denounced Israel as a threat to world peace.

In one quote, Augstein employs the anti-Semitic fabrication of a powerful Jewish lobby that ostensibly controls the world. He writes: "With backing from the US, where the president must secure the support of Jewish lobby groups, and in Germany, where coping with history, in the meantime, has a military component, the Netanyahu government keeps the world on a leash with an ever-swelling war chant."

In another quote, Augstein accuses an "insane and unscrupulous" Israel of fomenting civil violence in many parts of the Middle East. He writes: "The fire burns in Libya, Sudan, Yemen, in countries which are among the poorest on earth. But those who set the fires live elsewhere. Furious young people burn the American, and recently, the German flag. They, too, are victims, just like the dead at Benghazi and Sanaa. Who does this all this violence benefit? Always the insane and unscrupulous. And this time it's the US Republicans and Israeli government."

Augstein also equates ultra-orthodox Jews with Islamist terrorists. He writes: "But the Jews also have their fundamentalists, the ultra-orthodox Haredim. ... They are cut from the same cloth as their Islamic fundamentalist opponents. They follow the law of revenge."

Says Cooper: "When you conjure up the image of Islamic extremists, whose major contribution to the world has been suicide bombings, extremism and hatred, and then you take an entire religious community and you stereotype them, then that has nothing to do with journalism. Thus, a limit is exceeded."

In yet another quote, Augstein writes: "Israel's nuclear power is a danger to the already fragile peace of the world. This statement has triggered an outcry because it's true. And because it was made by a German, Günter Grass, author and Nobel Prize winner. That is the key point. One must, therefore, thank him for taking it upon himself to speak for us all."

Grass, in his controversial prose poem, "What Must Be Said," engages in moral equivalence by comparing Israel to Iran, even though Israel has never threatened to wipe another country off the map, as has Iran. Grass, who in his youth was a member of the Waffen-SS, the armed wing of the German Nazi party's SS paramilitary unit, also says a military action against Iran would lead to the "annihilation" of the Iranian people -- even though it is Iran which has threatened to annihilate the Israel people.

German newspapers have jumped to Augstein's defense and have sought to deflect the blame by pillorying the Wiesenthal Center. As a consequence, the debate in Germany has focused not on Augstein's attacks on Israel, but rather on the Wiesenthal Center's "attack" on Augstein.

In the words of Alex Feuerherdt, a German journalist who has written extensively about contemporary anti-Semitism in Germany, "the issue now is not anti-Semites but those who criticize the anti-Semites."

According to Augstein's defenders, the Wiesenthal Center is to blame because while compiling its list it sought the advice of Henryk Broder, a well-known Polish-born German essayist who has long sought to hold Augstein accountable for his anti-Israel rants.

Broder, who writes a regular column for the center-right newspaper Die Welt, once wrote: "The only reason why [Augstein] did not make a career with the Gestapo is because he was born after WWII. He certainly would have had what it takes." Broder has also called Augstein a "pure anti-Semite."
Leaping to Augstein's defense, the center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes: "The choice of Jakob Augstein for ninth place on the list of the 10 worst anti-Semites is a serious intellectual and strategic error made by the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Not only has a critical journalist been placed in a group into which he doesn't belong, the nine other people and groups who have justifiably been pilloried can now exculpate themselves by pointing to such arbitrariness."

By contrast, the Berlin-based Die Welt published an editorial, "Augstein's Defenders are Blind in the Left Eye," which says that although the Wiesenthal Center might have gone too far in placing Augstein on its list, Augstein does indeed cross the line into anti-Semitism in his criticism of Israel. Die Welt writes: "He [Augstein] attempts to discredit Israel morally, to hollow out its legitimacy and to make it a pariah among nation-states, just as Jews were a pariah among the peoples of Europe not that long ago."

In an interview with the Berlin-based German Jewish newspaper Die Jüdische Allgemeine, the President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Dieter Graumann, said that although he was not in total agreement with the Wiesenthal Center's decision to include Augstein on their annual list, he said Augstein has an "Israel obsession" and "spreads anti-Jewish resentments in an irresponsible manner." Graumann added that Augstein's columns are "horrible and undifferentiated" and contribute to an "anti-Israel atmosphere" in Germany.

For its part, the Wiesenthal Center is not backing down. In an interview with the German news agency Deutsche Presse Agentur, Rabbi Cooper said: "Just because he is a journalist, we are not giving Mr. Augstein license to say what he wants and to hide behind journalistic integrity. His statements are incorrect and baseless."

Speaking to German Radio Deutschlandradio, Cooper says: "Augstein is a major player in German journalism who is accountable to no one. Maybe this is the problem. Augstein does not have to submit his writings to anyone before they are printed."

Not surprisingly, Augstein sees himself as the victim. On his Facebook page he writes: "The Simon Wiesenthal Center is an important, internationally recognized institution. It deserves all my respect for its work on the fight against anti-Semitism. It is all the more distressing when this struggle is weakened. This is necessarily the case when critical journalism is defamed as a racist or anti-Semitic."

A report entitled, "European Anti-Semitism Reinvents Itself," puts things in perspective. Published by the American Jewish Committee, it reads:
Left-leaning Judeophobes, unlike their predecessors of a century ago, never call themselves 'anti-Semitic.' Indeed, they are usually indignant at the very suggestion that they have something against the Jews. Such denials notwithstanding, they are usually obsessed with stigmatizing Israel. The dream of the far left has long been to dissolve the hated 'Zionist entity' and, in the name of human rights, make the world Judenstaatrein [literally, cleansed of a Jewish state]. Thus, they deny to the Jewish people a fundamental human and political right that they would militantly defend for nonwhite peoples -- above all, the Palestinians -- namely, the right to national self-determination. This anti-Zionism of the radical leftist camp, profoundly discriminatory toward Jewish nationalism, has now spread into the mainstream liberal left, whose rhetoric relentlessly seeks to undermine the moral and historic legitimacy of a Jewish state. Liberal leftists portray Israel as a state born of the "original sin" of displacing, expropriating, or expelling an "aboriginal" population.
The report continues:
Not only that, but they attribute to the Jews and Israel qualities of cruelty, brutality, bloodthirstiness, duplicity, greed, and immorality drawn straight from the arsenals of classic anti-Semitism. Such polemics transcend the question of double standards. They go far beyond the long-established media practice of singling out Israel for savage criticism never applied to any other nation-state. Indeed they constitute a clear case of negationism -- denying the humanity of Israelis in order to stigmatize, defame, and morally disintegrate the Jewish state, as a prelude to its physical destruction.
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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The European Court of Justice: Judicial Burlesque

by Michael Curtis

Since 2005, the EU has given more than $48 million to more than 90 NGOs based in Israel and the West Bank. Although the EU has stressed the importance of transparency to ensure it is open to the public and accountable for its work, there is no transparency whatever regarding the allocation of most of these funds.
The partiality and exaggerated rhetoric of the European Union (EU) against Israel has, in recent weeks, become ever more familiar. It had been hoped that the European Court of Justice, established in 1952 to interpret EU law, and now composed of 27 judges who meet in Luxembourg, would be more impartial than the EU in its decisions on issues regarding Israel. Unfortunately, the record of the Court so far has been disappointing, and its partiality has been shown on a number of occasions. The EU condemned Israel's plans to construct housing units in the four-mile area known as E1 between Jerusalem and Ma'ale Adumim, a settlement of more than 40,000 residents; its High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton, said she regarded construction plans in the neighborhoods of Givat Hamatos and Ramat Shlomo as "extremely troubling."

Yet neither the settlements nor the proposed construction have ever prevented negotiations to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is noticeable that the EU has not articulated any serious criticism of the terrorist attacks from Gaza against Israeli civilians -- actions that do make a peaceful solution less probable. Further, as Israel's former ambassador to the UN points out, the EU has never criticized the Turkish "settlers" for their "occupation" of Northern Cyprus, or "their own citizens who build beach-front villas in territory under Turkish occupation." [Israel Hayom, January 7, 2013]. There is no mention of "Chinese occupied Tibet," or "Pakistan occupied Kashmir."

The continuing criticism of Israel comes at a moment when 14 of the 27 countries in the EU voted in the UN General Assembly on November 29, 2012 for the resolution that "Palestine" become a nonmember observer state at the UN. Only the Czech Republic voted against the resolution. The EU disregarded the fact that this resolution, a unilateral action, was illegal, a violation by the Palestinians of binding obligations in the Oslo Accords and other agreements with both Israel and the U.N., including Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, which guaranteed that the final status arrangements should be reached only through direct negotiations. In addition the EU has refused to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. These decisions do not exactly evidence a record for any kind of EU objectivity; Ireland, arguably the harshest European critic of Israel, just assumed the presidency of the EU on January 1, 2013.

In its judgment on February 20, 2010, the Court ruled that goods produced by Israeli companies based in the disputed territories of the West Bank did not qualify for duty-free import into the EU. The Euro-Mediterranean agreement between the European Community and Israel, signed on November 20, 1995 allows Israeli industrial products to be imported into the EU countries without customs duties. The decision in the 2010 case arose from the application by the German drinks manufacturer Brita to import soda-water makers and drink syrups manufactured by an Israeli firm, Soda Club, based in the settlement of Mishor Adumim. The European Court upheld the refusal of German customs officials to grant exemption from customs duties in this matter.

The Court explained its decision by what may be considered specious reasoning. The European Community (the predecessor of the EU) had signed an agreement on trade and cooperation with the PLO for "the benefit of the Palestinian Authority of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip" on February 24, 1997. The Court held that each of the two association trade agreements had its own "territorial scope;" one scope was the State of Israel, and the other the territory of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Therefore, for the Court, products made by Israel which originated in the West Bank did not fall within the "territorial scope" of the European-Israel agreement, and thus did not qualify for preferential customs treatment. The Court also presumed to considered the presence of Israel in the West Bank "illegal."

The most recent decision by the European Court is pure judicial burlesque. On January 20, 2010 the president of the Israeli think tank, NGO Monitor, who is a British citizen and thus has standing, filed a lawsuit, under the EU's Freedom of Information Law, against the European Commission (EC), the executive arm of the EU, to obtain information found in 200 documents about EC funding of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). These bodies often pose as "peace" and "human rights" organizations, " but in reality are highly politicized advocacy groups, attempting to manipulate Israel through boycotts, divestments, sanction, frivolous and malicious lawsuits, and accusations of alleged "war crimes" -- all of which would render them ineligible for EU funding.

These groups include, among scores of others, Adalah, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, the Public Committee against Torture in Israel, and the Israel Committee against Housing Demolitions. The suit charged that the EU funnels tens of millions of taxpayers' euros to such groups, but with none of the transparency or accountability that are required. The NGO Monitor petition stated that the EU was preventing independent evaluation of its NGO funding.

Evidence for the funding of these groups was in fact clearly revealed in a leaked document of a meeting of the Selection Committee of the EC on September 29, 1999 on NGOs. This document related, among other things, the allocation of funds to support about 20 projects such as Peace Now and those termed spreading "the 'peace message' among the radical Jewish settlers."

After refusing for over a year to supply the requested information, the EC did supply some documents with most of the details redacted or deleted. The original EU refusal to release information, as, according to the European Freedom of Information Law, it must, was blocked on the mystifying grounds that revealing the requested information might pose a danger to "public security" and "commercial interests" in the unstable Middle East.

The European Court itself agreed on November 27, 2012, that the EU did not provide the documents in a timely fashion and this was "an implicit decision to refuse access." The Court found that EU officials had censured details of the documents and the conclusions concerning them; yet, illogically, it upheld the denial of access, and rejected the claim for information as "manifestly inadmissible" and "in part manifestly lacking any foundation in law."

Since June 2005, the EU has given more than $48 million to over 90 NGOs based in Israel and the West Bank, who are regarded as critical of Israel. A double problem exists. These groups are partisan and critical of Israel. Moreover, although the EU itself has stressed the importance of a high level of transparency to ensure that it is open to public scrutiny and accountable for its work, there is no transparency whatever regarding the allocation of most of these funds. It would appear, as the founder and head of NGO Monitor, Dr. Gerald Steinberg, commented, "the only reasonable conclusion is that the EU has something to hide," and that the "secret funding funding of Israeli NGOs grossly impinges on and seeks to manipulate the Israeli democratic process."

Michael Curtis is author of Should Israel Exist? A Sovereign Nation under attack by the International Community.

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Chuck Hagel’s Saudi Connection

by Daniel Greenfield 

nt This Post

In the spring of 2010, Chuck Hagel was nominated to serve on the Board of Directors of Chevron. There is no American oil company with more intimate connections than Chevron, which created ARAMCO before the Saudis took it over. But the Saudis didn’t just take over ARAMCO, they control Chevron indirectly through oil.

Chevron is one of Saudi Arabia’s largest purchasers of crude and its access to Saudi oil fields is a big chunk of its business model. Tofiq Al-Gabsani, the president of Saudi Refining, a subsidiary of ARAMCO, sits on the board of the American Petroleum Institute. And the situation goes back a while.
Driven by oil revenues, the Arab lobby’s leverage in affecting American policy was demonstrated in early 1973 when Mobil published a pro-Arab advertorial in The New York Times. In July of that year, the chairman of Standard Oil of California (now called Chevron) distributed a letter asking the company’s 40,000 employees and 262,000 stockholders to pressure their elected representatives to support “the aspirations of the Arab people.”
When another Arab-Israeli war broke out in October 1973, the chairmen of the ARAMCO partners issued a memorandum warning the White House against increasing its military aid to Israel.
Hagel would not be the first cabinet member to have served on Chevron’s board. That is unfortunately a longstanding practice which reveals just how much control the Saudi Lobby has over America.

Daniel Greenfield


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Why Lifting the Israeli ‘Occupation’ Won’t Stop Violence

by Steven Plaut


There seems to be a wide misconception that the Middle East conflict is complicated.  In fact it is really rather simple.  Indeed, one can basically summarize and explain the entire conflict within the context of the words “occupation” or “occupied territories” and with respect to beliefs about the effects of such “occupation.”

Let me explain.  For most of the past 46 years (since 1967), there has been something of a universal consensus among those agreeing that removing or eliminating the Israeli “occupation” over the West Bank and Gaza, areas dubbed “The Occupied Palestinian Territories,” would reduce tensions and make the region more tranquil, possibly leading to full peace between Israel and its neighbors.  Let us dub this theory the Removal of Occupation Lowers Violence (henceforth the ROLV) Axiom.

It would be hard to exaggerate how broad the ROLV consensus is in the world.  Outside of Israel it is essentially universal.  Even within Israel, for much of the past two generations this ROLV has been the consensus position of the bulk of the Israeli political spectrum.  Almost all Israeli parties have long agreed, certainly since the “Oslo Accords” of the early 1990s, that the key to reducing tensions between Israel and the Arab world is via partial or total removal of Israeli “occupation” of those territories.   With the exception of small parties on the Israeli Right, basically the entire Israeli political elite, including Bibi Netanyahu and the Likud, is at least nominally committed to the ROLV axiom.   In this sense, (Israeli President) Shimon Peres’ recent pronouncement that there is near consensus in Israel behind the so-called “two-state solution” was only partly his imagination.   (The President in Israel is little more than an honorary post like the queen of Holland, whereas the real head of state is the Prime Minister, and so Peres really represents no one.)  While acceptance of the ROLV axiom, holding that removal of occupation leads to reduction in violence, is not quite the same thing as the “Two-State Solution” that Peres advocates, its broad acceptance by so many Israeli political parties provides a small basis for Peres’ grandstanding.

Everything needed to understand the Middle East conflict can be grasped if one bears in mind that near-universal consensus behind ROLV and one second fact.   The second fact is that the international consensus about removal of Israeli occupation is empirically false and nearly all Israelis understand that it is false.

It is somewhat difficult to document exactly what Israelis think about the “removal of occupation” and the so-called Two-State Solution.  Many of the public opinion polls in Israel are deliberated distorted by people with an ideological axe to grind, one that precludes asking candidly what Israelis think.   An example was a recent poll that asked what the respondent would think about a Palestinian state if it were to be effectively demilitarized, proclaimed its friendly intentions towards Israel, and proved its intentions over a long testing period.  The question was science fiction; it was like asking how you would respond if friendly space aliens landed in a flying saucer on your lawn and offered you a Starbucks.   So it was not surprising when fewer than half of Israelis said that even then they would still be opposed to a Palestinian state.

Occasionally the truth seeps through, such as in another recent poll in which Israeli Jews opposing the “Two State Solution” outnumbered those who endorse it by between 6 and 10 to one.

The simple truth of the matter is that almost all Israelis by now understand clearly that removal of Israeli occupation does not reduce violence, but rather it escalates violence.  Almost all Israelis understand that a cut-and-paste job of the unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Gaza applied to the West Bank, which is pretty much what the whole world is demanding (including the Obama administration), would result in tens of thousands of rockets and missiles fired at the Jews of Israel by the Arabs in those “liberated territories.”    And probably also weapons of mass destruction.  The universal ROLV axiom is simply wrong and almost all Israelis realize it is wrong, even if nearly 100% of the rest of the world thinks it is correct.

And wrong it is.  The unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Gaza proved better than any controlled laboratory experiment how invalid ROLV is and what the real effect of “ending occupation” is.   True, the anti-Semites and their terrorist allies claim Israel never really relinquished its occupation over the Gaza Strip, although their claim exhibits Orwellian levels of NewThink pretense and cognitive dissonance.   If there is not a single Jew in Gaza and the Gazans enter and leave Gaza freely and smuggle in unlimited stocks of weapons from Iran, while running their own economy,  in what way exactly can this be considered to be Israeli occupation?   It is occupation only in the sense that the US “occupies” Castro’s Cuba, by imposing some limits and restrictions on the trade done with the pseudo-occupied by the pseudo-occupier.

In my opinion, at least 95% of Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs understand perfectly that the ROLV axiom about removal of Israeli occupation producing tranquility is fallacious.  Israeli Arabs and the Jewish Far Left (and that includes the Tenured Left) support the removal of occupation precisely because they know – like other Israelis – that it will produce escalation of violence and tens of thousands of rockets and missiles landing on Israeli Jewish civilians.  Unlike other Israelis, the Radical Left and Israeli Arabs favor those developments because they hate Israel and want it eliminated.   They understand as well as everyone else that the axiom of Removal of Occupation Lowering Violence is incorrect.

For the rest of the Israeli public, skepticism and disbelief regarding ROLV is nearly universal, almost as widespread as belief in the ROLV axiom outside of Israel.  The only group within Israel that still believes in ROLV is confined to one or two political parties (the Labor Party and Meretz) of the less-extreme Left, and these parties are expected to get less than one vote in 6 in the upcoming elections.   In my opinion, even many of those who vote for these two parties do not really believe in ROLV, and in fact much of the remaining vote in favor of Meretz is coming from the anti-Israel extremists who seek Israel’s elimination.

While Israeli political parties, especially the Likud, may still pay lip service to ROLV, almost none of their rank and file supporters and voters believe in it.  Indeed, the parties pay the price for their superficial posturing in favor of ROLV.  Some of the posturing is to gain support (including financing) from overseas believers in ROLV, or to curry favor with the Obama administration and other foreign governments.   But those going through the posturing are as aware as everyone else that the ROLV is false and that almost all Israelis understand that it is false.

There have been proposals to condition any “deal” that removes Israeli occupation from large swaths of the West Bank on an Israeli national referendum.   The Likud and most of the establishment Israeli parties strongly oppose this.  The Israeli radical Tenured Left opposes such a referendum with hysterical jeremiads, labeling any proposal for such a referendum anti-democratic and fascist.

Everyone, including Israel’s treasonous Left, knows that a referendum on ROLV would not pass because almost no one in Israel believes in ROLV anymore.

Steven Plaut


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Grappling With Muslim Sex Gangs in Britain

by Bruce Bawer


One of the big news stories in Britain last year was the uncovering of what that country’s media insist on calling “Asian sex gangs.” Simply put, groups of “Asian” men turn large numbers of “white” girls into their sex toys, “grooming” them for exploitation and then passing them around to one another. For those unfamiliar with the standard euphemisms of the British press – left-wing and right-wing, highbrow and lowbrow alike – “Asian” and “white” are codes for “Muslim” and “non-Muslim,” respectively. The reason these men can target non-Muslim girls so remorselessly is simple: they know that in their religion’s eyes female infidels are already prostitutes, whose failure to wear veils renders them undeserving of respect and responsible for any sexual act to which they might be unwillingly subjected.

Although it is becoming clear that such “sex gangs” are in operation in a number of places, the focus has been on a group in Rochdale, near Manchester, whose conviction last May made huge headlines. Every bit as deplorable as the abuse they committed is the fact that cops and social workers to whom some of these girls turned for help had chosen for a long time not to do anything about the situation. Former Labour MP Ann Cryer excoriated police officers and people at Child Protective Services who “were petrified of being called racist and so reverted to the default of political correctness. They had a greater fear of being perceived in that light than in dealing with the issues in front of them.”

Fortunately for the cause of justice, the chief prosecutor who chose to put the sex gang on trial is Nazir Afzal, a man of Pakistani parentage – a fact that in a better world would make no difference one way or another but that, in the world we’re stuck with, enabled him to get away with making straightforward statements of fact that would get a non-Muslim in big trouble. It’s largely because of this invisible Islamic shield that Afzal became, in the words of Jonathan Brown, writing last May in the left-wing Independent, “the public face of the legal system’s determination to stamp out honour-based violence, forced marriage and grooming.” Ordinarily, to be sure, the Independent would prefer not to mention that such things as honor-based violence and forced marriage exist, let alone that they’re part and parcel of Islamic culture; but if someone like Afzal talks bluntly about these matters, it’s willing to nod silently when he points out that they’re real, undesirable – and, yes, Islamic. (Also fortunately for justice, by the way, the judge in the case didn’t have his head in the sand, either, telling defendants that “one of the factors” in their systematic abuse of the girls “is that they were not of your community or religion.”)

Yet no sooner did news about these “sex gangs”  – and of the years-long, sweep-it-under-the-rug approach of pusillanimous public servants – begin to trickle out than the voices of political correctness began to push back. The Daily Mail‘s James Tozer and Nazia Parveen noted an MP’s warning that (in their words) “highlighting the Pakistani origin” of sex gangs risks “giving ammunition to the far-Right.” Similarly, they quoted a Manchester police official as saying that the gangs are “not a racial issue….It just happens that…these were Asian men.” Naturally it’s not about race: it’s about Islam. But some folks are so PC that they can’t even be totally honest about what it is they’re denying.

One likely reason why Brown was willing to describe Afzal, with apparent admiration, as the public face of a war on forced marriage and such – and, I might add, to paraphrase him to the effect that no minority communities should be allowed to offer refuge to men who commit crimes against women” – is that the focus of Brown’s article wasn’t Islam but another “minority community,” one in which “there is still work to do.” (As if all the “work” on Islam were now completed.) Which community? The Travellers, “where children are still married off against their will.” As Afzal told Brown, “I have become aware of massive issues of forced marriage in the Traveller community. It is widespread.” Indeed, Afzal said that for him, the Travellers are “the last bastion”: “We tackled grooming gangs. Now we have to confront forced marriage among Travellers.”

Who are the Travellers? They’re a small, nomadic Gaelic group, often lumped in with gypsies, who have been a part of life in the British Isles for centuries. Full points to Afzal for wanting to protect children from this subculture’s harmful customs. But how palpably, pathetically eager Brown was to grab this opportunity to shift the focus away from Islam! Brown provided an excellent example of the stark difference between the left’s treatment of Islam and – well – its treatment of pretty much everything else. When the subject is Islam, the approach is invariably discreet, delicate, diplomatic: the euphemism “Asian” is religiously reiterated, as is the assertion that (fill in problem here) has nothing to do with group identity. But when the subject is, say, the Travellers, you can feel the clouds of anxiety lifting, and witness the willingness to acknowledge that, yes, there is a cultural issue here that deserves notice. One minor point: the Travellers, unlike Islam, pose no existential threat to British society – or the West generally. “Turning the spotlight on the Traveller community is a typically bold action by Mr Afzal,” wrote Brown. Yeah, right: Afzal’s risking reprisal from all those Traveller terrorist cells.

Anyway, all that was last May. Ever since, Britain’s leftist media have done their best to try to decouple Islam and pederasty in the public mind. Official “reports” have helped. In late September, an Independent editorial, while serving up, en passant, an admission that “the racial [i.e. Islamic] dimension” of the sex gangs merited attention, trained its focus on a new report that dismissed this “dimension” on the grounds “that just 28 per cent” of child sexual abusers in Britain are “Asian.” To which one would reply, first, that massive evidence points to the existence in European Muslim families of child sexual abuse on a monumental scale, with only a tiny percentage of victims ever breathing a word to anyone about their plight; second, that if even the report’s figures were thoroughly legitimate, the manifest eagerness of the left to shift attention away from the long-ignored victims of Muslim sex gangs is obscene.

In November, another “report,” this one by England’s Children’s Commission, sought to (shall we say) contextualize the matter of Muslim sex gangs. Discussing the report (which I wrote about at the time) with the Independent, Sue Berelowitz, who headed the report committee, spun it this way: sexually abused children “are falling through the net because of a pre-occupation with Asian men targeting white girls.” What? After all, “Asian men targeting white girls” is only one of “a number of models”; perpetrators “come from all ethnic groups and so do their victims – contrary to what some may wish to believe.” “Wish to believe”? What does “wishing” have to do with any of this – except for the fact that a small army of public employees tasked with protecting kids spent years trying to wish away the need to confront a small army of Muslim men over their barbaric behavior? Berelowitz’s report was a big hit with her fellow child-aid bureaucrats: one of them called it “a sobering reminder that child sexual exploitation…can happen to any child, in any community”; another hailed it as an affirmation that sexual abuse “can impact on children from any background.” Again, the readiness to return to the see-no-evil status quo ante was as transparent as it was repulsive.

As the months went by, the party line on the sex gangs was endlessly repeated: although MPs had “called for an inquiry into the cultural roots” of the gangs, the Independent‘s editors warned that “[i]t would be as well to be cautious before drawing too general lessons.” (As if a “cautious” approach, on the part of cops and others in authority, hadn’t prolonged so many girls’ suffering!) An Independent contributor, Susan Elkin, agreed: the sex-gang issue, she pronounced, “certainly can’t be categorised as a racial or cultural matter.” But if multicultural orthodoxy made it verboten to finger Islam, it was OK to place the blame elsewhere. Many agreed with Afzal that the sex gangs were “a gender issue,” not a religious or cultural one; in September, one Laurie Penny argued risibly in the Independent that if the authorities had waited so long before helping sex-gang victims, it wasn’t “’in the interests of racial harmony,’ as outlets like The Daily Telegraph continue to claim,” but because those authorities didn’t consider the working-class rape victims “worth protecting”: in short, “[t]he axis of prejudice here is not race, but class.” This low, dishonest denial of reality reached its nadir, perhaps, in a November Guardian piece by Ratna Lachman, head of JUST West Yorkshire, who actually argued that if official Britain, after ignoring Muslim sex gangs for years, had finally brought them to justice, it was because “institutional Islamaphobia has become part of the political culture.” Even a Muslim rapist, then, is ultimately a victim.

“There must never be another Rochdale” read the headline on the Independent‘s September editorial. But the only way to prevent another Rochdale is to be honest about what made it happen. If you sincerely want to protect girls from “Asian sex gangs,” you’ve got to understand, face, and speak the truth about the malefactors’ motivations. A good first step would be for Britons to decide, once and for all, to stop saying “Asian” when everybody knows they mean Muslim.

Bruce Bawer


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Where the Pressure Lies in the Middle East

by Shoshana Bryen

The United States is about to get new secretaries of state and defense and a new director of Central Intelligence.  It is devoutly to be hoped that they will not travel in the well-worn grooves of the Israel-Palestinian "peace process."  The "two-state solution," beloved of the United States and the Quartet and accepted with qualifications by Israel, is dead.  Far from dying over Israeli intransigence and even less the result of houses for Jewish people on the "wrong" side of an imaginary line, it foundered over concessions required of the Palestinians that were simply impossible for them.  Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah were asked:

  • To concede sovereignty over their part of the larger Arab/Muslim patrimony to the Jews and -- perhaps more important -- to agree that Palestinian national aspirations would be forever satisfied with a split rump state squeezed in between a hostile Israel and a hostile Jordan; and
  • To concede that Palestinians who left the areas that became Israel in 1948 (and their descendants) would accept citizenship in the abovementioned rump state instead of having what they believe is their original property restored as promised.
Those were the issues that drove Yasser Arafat away from Camp David II in 2000, according to then-U.S. negotiator Dennis Ross.  "For him to end the conflict is to end himself," said Ross.  What Arafat couldn't, Abbas certainly cannot.

And so, while the U.S.-led Quartet thought it was pressuring Israel to make concessions to Abbas, Abbas rightly understood that the pressure was on him to live up to the Arafat standard.  Or not.  Abbas's response -- both reasonable and desperate -- has been to try to change the subject to settlements, boycotts, U.N. membership or anything else to drive the discussion away from his limitations and back to Israel.  The U.S. has been all too happy to take the bait.

Abbas, however, is finding it harder to buy time.  He is caught among the competing interests of a resurgent Hamas's desire to take over Palestinian governance; his own political failures and the need to find a safe place for himself and Fatah leadership if Hamas succeeds; Israel's need to ensure that Hamas doesn't succeed; and King Abdullah's fear of dispossession, a fear Israel shares.

On Friday, thousands of Fatah supporters celebrated the first Hamas-authorized Fatah rally in the Gaza Strip since the bitter 2007 Palestinian civil war that ensconced Hamas as Gaza's sole power.  Noting the Hamas rally in the West Bank in late December, analysts posit a thaw in relations, and indeed, professions of Palestinian "unity" have been ubiquitous.  But, oddly, it was called Fatah's "48th anniversary" celebration.  Fatah was, in fact, born in 1959, not 1964.  It is the PLO that was created by the Arab League in 1964 over the objection of Fatah, which joined it only in 1967.  Yasser Arafat became chairman in 1969.

The date may be a reference to the PLO and its Charter, the defining document of the Palestinian movement and perhaps the basis of future Hamas-Fatah "unity."  The Charter was to have been amended under the terms of Oslo and subsequent accords but, contrary to peace process optimists, it never happened.  The PLO Charter remains the blueprint for Palestinian organization.  It asserts that "Palestine" exists within the boundaries of the British Mandate of Palestine (Article 2)1.  That the establishment of Israel is "entirely illegal" (Article 19).  That "armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine. Thus it is the overall strategy, not merely a tactical phase" (Article 9)2.  "The liberation of Palestine ... aims at the elimination of Zionism in Palestine" (Article 15).  There's more if you need it.

Fatah is broke, corrupt, and despised by West Bank Arabs.  In a poll last May, 96% of Palestinian 18- to 30-year-olds said corruption in the PA was either a "very important" or "important" priority, topping personal freedom, unemployment, and education.  "Occupation" came in just above "boredom."  The U.N. vote on Palestine's "non-member state" status may have made things worse by raising expectations that Fatah cannot meet.  In what appears to be a bid for support, Fatah wiped out the electricity debts of Palestinian "refugees," prompting outrage from non-refugee Palestinians who wanted theirs canceled as well.  And in a bid for relevance, Abbas announced that henceforth, all documents of the Palestinian Authority will be labeled "State of Palestine."

How is stationery supposed to compete with Hamas, which is on a roll?  It has broken out of isolation, seen the blockade of Gaza eased, and received a nice check from the Emir of Qatar.  All of which was made possible, says Hamas, by adherence to the "armed struggle" against Israel and the great "November War" against Israel.  While more objective observers may think that last bit is delusional, in a December poll, more than 70% of Palestinians believe that Hamas won, and 74% believe that shooting rockets at Israel helps the Palestinian cause.  Repressed on the West Bank since the civil war, Hamas nevertheless slightly outpolls Fatah in popularity.

Abbas has tried to align Fatah with some of Hamas's popularity.  It has been curtailing security cooperation with the IDF and created barriers to IDF operations in the West Bank.  There are those who believe that a third "intifada" has already begun; there were 111 terror attacks in the West Bank in December, including Molotov cocktails, shootings, and stabbings.  If "unity" comes, it will likely be more under Hamas's rules than those of Fatah.

However, amid the amity, Hamas did sentence a Fatah "military commander" to fifteen years in prison for terrorism on Wednesday.  Fatah denounced the sentence, saying it came from an "illegitimate court."  So Fatah appears to be hedging its bets.

In recent weeks, there have been discussions between Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and King Abdullah II of Jordan, and between Abbas and King Abdullah.  Both appear to involve the idea of a Palestinian-Jordanian confederation of some sort at some time.  Abbas insists that any such move could follow only full Palestinian independence on Palestinian terms -- i.e., the "right of return," Jerusalem, etc.  On the other hand, at least one report on the Netanyahu-Abdullah meeting suggests that Israel sees early confederation as a way to sidestep the problem of demanding that "Palestine" formally recognize Israel; Jordan already does.

The fact that the conversation(s) are (or appear to be) taking place suggests that the relevant parties are -- not for the first time -- well ahead of the U.S. in understanding that the ground is shifting.  The new constellation in Washington will have to decide fairly quickly what allies to support and how best to do it before the administration finds itself bereft of both allies and options.

Shoshana Bryen is senior director of The Jewish Policy Center.


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