Saturday, March 23, 2013

Rolling in the Deep

by Yoav Limor

Picture the Third Lebanon War: Hezbollah wakes up to discover that a contingent of elite IDF troops has taken over the airport in Beirut, and that IDF forces are in control of all major routes connecting Lebanon with Syria. Does this sound far-fetched? An exclusive glimpse into the IDF's new Depth Corps.

Israel Defense Forces troops in action.
Photo credit: Ziv Koren

Yoav Limor


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

Apartheid Week: The Modern Blood Libel

by Jerrold L. Sobel

For centuries throughout their glorious but tormented history, long before the re-establishment of the state of Israel, Jewish people have been victims of the blood libel. Through an annual rite known as Apartheid Week, this execrable phenomenon has once again reared its ugly head, this time gaining respectability in the halls of academia and on college campuses throughout the United States and Canada. Harvard is a prime example.

In an effort to publicize their vilification of Israel during libelous Apartheid Week, a vehemently anti-Israeli organization within Harvard known as the Palestine Security Committee employed a tactic becoming all too common throughout the U.S.: they posted
mock eviction notices on the doors of students claiming their dorms would soon be demolished.

Some inevitably will argue this is just an expression of their First Amendment rights. In reality, it's nothing of the sort. As stated by Robert Trestan, Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Acting New England Regional Director: "This tactic is designed to silence and intimidate pro-Israel advocates at Harvard and campuses around the country," He continues: "Free expression has a place on campus; however targeting the dorms of Harvard students lends itself to creating tension, isolating students and fomenting hostility."

Intimidating pro-Israel advocates on campuses around the country is indeed the operative phrase here. Far from a sophomoric stunt, this is part of a nationwide movement on campus which seeks to denigrate Israel while stifling academic discourse. From Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, Brooklyn College, Northeastern University and far too many other universities throughout the United States, hatred of Israel and Jews in general is being spewed. Most disturbing, on many campuses this calumny is more than tacitly supported by the administration, most egregiously in Boca Raton Florida at Florida Atlantic University (FAU).

Dead babies, apartheid walls, and once again, mock eviction notices placed on student dorms and calls for Israel's destruction; all part of a troubling pattern of extreme activism perpetuated by the aforementioned anti-Semitic nationwide organization Palestine Security Committee, also known as Student Justice For Palestine (SJP). 

FAU is a university with an anti-Semitism problem and an irresponsible administration helping to make things worse. In January 2011 FAU's SJP, along with other chapters from universities around the state participated in an organizing conference sponsored by the American Muslims for Palestine organization (AMP). The objective of the meeting was to have SJP become more effective in its efforts by having experienced anti-Israel activists provide training, and to help regional chapters coordinate with each other and share their resources. AMP is a well-funded, professional organization with ties to Islamic radicals and supporters of terrorism against Israel. It specializes in targeting vital parts of the educational system, primarily libraries, high schools, university curricula, and student organizations. Flown in to lead the conference was one of the leaders of the now infamous Irvine 11, who were convicted of systematically harassing Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren to the point that he was unable to deliver a lecture at the University of California. So much for the free interchange of ideas.

Rather than heed the warnings and evidence it received, Florida Atlantic University's administration applied no scrutiny to SJP as it increased its radical activities on campus. A steady stream of anti-Semites and anti-Israel firebrands have been reaching into campus with the goal of radicalizing the students. As a result, the activities and messaging of SJP have steadily become more aggressive. FAU's indifference to anti-Semitism appears directly attributable to Dr. Charles Brown, the University's Senior Vice President for Student Affairs. Prior to his joining FAU in 2006, Dr. Brown served in similar positions at Wayne State University in Detroit and the University of South Florida in Tampa, two of the most notoriously venomous anti-Israel universities in the country. His time at USF immediately followed the indictment of Professor Sami Al-Arian, who later plead guilty to serving as the American head of the Islamic Jihad Terror organization. Al-Arian and his cronies at USF, including his research associate and now current FAU professor Bassem Al-Halabi, cultivated a culture of anti-Semitic student radicalism that continued to be tolerated throughout Brown's tenure there.

By the spring of 2012 FAU's SJP chapter was fully out of control. Mock eviction notices were posted on the door of hundreds of on-campus residences. SJP brazenly misappropriated the seal of Palm Beach County, which was a violation of law. The Palm Beach County attorney's office immediately sent a cease and desist order. The fake eviction notice also included a seal and authorization stamp from FAU's student housing authority, which were in fact issued by the university. In response to this, Dr. Charles Brown, the school's senior vice president for student affairs, initially misled reporters by claiming that the university had not authorized the fliers. This statement was later retracted when SJP revealed that not only had it been approved, but an FAU employee actually escorted hundreds of notices on dorm rooms and elevators. If this doesn't cross the line of academic freedom into the realm of administrative complicity, what does?

To answer my own question: on Feb. 6, the Tom Trento TV/radio crew attempted to sit in on a public meeting at FAU, where Greta Berlin, a noted Jew/Israeli hater, was to speak. The crew was denied entry into this advertised, public, taxpayer-supported event and threatened with arrest by a Boca Raton police officer, who claimed he was taking his orders from "the building manager." Enough said about constitutional rights when up against a complicit school administration and ignorant civil service employees.

To push back against the administration's anti-Israel/anti-Semitic bent and the actions they are culpable for, a writing campaign of protest has begun to FAU's President MJ Saunders: Protests and letters may not stop this egregious behavior at FAU but withholding charitable donations may raise some eyebrows at the school.

Jerrold L. Sobel


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

Dangerous Times: Crypto-Fascism in Italy, Hungary, Greece, Albania

by James Lewis and Justine Aristea

A great sense of alarm is spreading among ordinary Europeans today, especially in the south and east of the continent.  Now even the elitist media are giving us the worst international news since the Cold War.

Americans do not want to hear this, either.

Well, you may not be interested in evil, but evil may be interested in you.

Listen up. This could be important.

The Washington Post just told us that a dictatorial strongman has risen to power in Hungary, a man named Viktor Orban.  In a two-hour parliamentary session, Orban forced radical changes in the Hungarian constitution to favor his own party.  Orban caught the European media and political elites by complete surprise.

In Germany, Der Spiegel is finally reporting on Beppe Grillo, calling him "the most dangerous man in Europe."  Grillo is the failed Italian comedian who used the web to recruit 9 million voters in the recent election, barely one percent short of Mussolini's first vote in 1922, giving him a plurality in parliament.

This week, Grillo met with Italy's President Napolitano and demanded that his Five Star Party be given ministerial control of the police and the government-owned media (RAI), the levers of big power.

Nobody knows if Grillo will get what he wants.  If he ever succeeds in running the Italian federal police and media, Italy will be in very deep trouble.  Maybe he won't succeed today, but he is running for the next election coming in June.  Yes, June of this year.

You can believe that Grillo aims for total power.  He says so himself, and his brainwashed followers believe it.

Beppe Grillo sounds like a nutcase, but he is clever as a fox.  It's possible that he says crazy things on purpose to get under the media radar.  What a crazy comedian this guy Grillo must be!  Everybody laughs at him - except his 9 million Italian voters.

Grillo and his followers says that AIDS comes from vaccines for children, or maybe vaccines will make you homosexual.  They have it both ways.  Jet contrails in the sky are spreading hallucinogens to the people of Italy.  Cancer chemotherapy is made by Big Pharma to kill you.

Obviously crazy stuff.

As a result, every serious political observer in the world dismissed Grillo the Clown before he won a plurality in Italy.  Now he is telling the world he is going for 100% of the vote.  It sounds crazy, but paranoid personalities like this often function very well in the real world.  Their crazy beliefs are isolated "islands of ideas" and exist right along with normal thinking in the rest of their brains.  That is why they can get by without being spotted.

About 0.5-2.0 percent of the general population suffers from paranoid symptoms.  With that kind of baseline percentage, some of these people are inevitably drawn to politics, and remember, they can be crazy as a fox.  It's in the standard manual for mental disorders.

But - Beppe could also be running a very shrewd and sophisticated disinformation campaign, with the help of his sinister pal Roberto Casaleggio, who runs a big internet business.  (See our previous columns).

We do not know the answer.  We only report what we see.  Either way, mad or not, Beppe Grillo is finally understood around the world to be a real danger.

Even the BBC is catching up with the news from Europe, with an exclusive report on a reported assault by Golden Dawn Party thugs on a member of the Athenian parliament named Dmitri Stratoulis.  Golden Dawn in Greece has a nearly identical political program to the other crypto-parties.  And finally, next-door in Albania, the elected government of Sali Berisha is being tarred and feathered by the Red and Black Party, run vendetta-style by one Kreshnik Spahiu.  More than half of Albanians are Muslims, and they presumably listen to Al Jazeera for their daily news.

American conservatives are too concerned about the United States to add Europe to our list of worries.  Unfortunately, the European crisis links directly with Obama and the radical left in this country.

Obama is a carbon copy of the European elite.  But Eurosocialism is visibly beginning to fail today, with the euro currency zone likely to split in half or worse.  This is the worst economic crisis in Europe since World War II, and the neighboring Middle East is one great brushfire.  Maybe that brushfire is leaping the Mediterranean to infect the vulnerable parts of Europe.

Obama and the Democrats are Eurosocialists, and Europe today may therefore be in our own future.  We must dodge that bullet, and to do that, we must first understand it.  Europe and America are no longer separable.  It would be nice to go back to isolationism, but in the age of the web, there's not a chance.

Along with the rise of the crypto-parties, the euro currency is currently under enormous pressure, and the unelected European Union is testing its powers to carve up to 10% out of bank deposits in Cyprus.  If the EU succeeds in its ad hoc banking tax in the small island of Cyprus, it may try the same thing in other member-states.  That fear caused turmoil in the world currency markets this week.

The European Union represents socialism with a smiling face, but it is just as elitist, self-serving, and corruptible as the late Soviet Union.  Euro-skeptics like to call their super-government the EU-SSR.  Member governments are elected by the voters, but the European Parliament is a pure Potemkin Front, just like the Czars of Russia used to make.  The EU Parliament in Strasbourg has no legislative powers at all.  Rather, the EU is run by appointed "commissions," just as the Soviet Union was run by appointed "soviets" (councels).  As a political machine, the EU owes as much to the Soviet Union as it does to more democratic traditions.  Naturally, the EU comes complete with its own utopian program of EU-style world governance, with peace and prosperity forever to all who obey its dictates.

We do not confuse the European Union with the new crypto-parties.  They are political enemies.  They have different political programs.  But we believe that decades of misgovernment by the EU has provided the space for these new characters to operate.

Europe's new crypto-fascist parties are in rebellion against the EU, and they all sound nationalist and socialist - all too reminiscent of that old black plague of World War II.  The Greek Golden Dawn Party makes territorial claims on neighboring Albania, and the Albanian Red and Black Party makes claims on Greece.  Italy's Beppe Grillo has website photos of Grillo in conscious imitation of Benito Mussolini looking like a Roman Emperor, and Viktor Orban in Hungary is signaling his approval of the Nazi-like Jobbik Party.  Hungary was a major source of Nazi ideology in the 1920s, and today printed threats are being sent to retired university professors with Jewish names.

Naturally, all the crypto-parties deny their roots in historical fascism.  But their websites reveal amazingly similar programs.  The same symbolism, the same ethnic hatreds, similar slogans, the same dystopian dreams, the same paranoid imaginings, and the same style of dictatorial control - they all smell like the bad old past.

However, as we have pointed out before, in the case of Italy, there is very strong prima facie evidence of radical Islamist influences on failed clown Beppe Grillo and his Five Star Party.  The fact that nearly identical parties are arising in several neighboring countries could mean that we are seeing a well-coordinated cyber-assault on post-World War II Europe, financed by the big Islamist oil regimes.  The Eurosocialist media have been peddling hatred for the State of Israel for decades, in apparent coordination with the oil powers.  Because of a major Wall Street Journal exposé in the 1990s we know that an oil-fueled Saddam Hussein bought French politicians like Jacques Chirac and Dominique de Villepin, and it has been reported that President Nicolas Sarkozy was paid $50 million by Libya's Moammar Gaddafi.  However, the French helped to overthrow Gaddafi anyway a couple of months ago, in typical Gallic style.

We do not pretend to know whether the Euro-crypto-parties are funded and run by Islamist oil powers, but the Pentagon reported recently that Iran has 30,000 agents in the outside world.  Islamists in the Middle East have Nazi links going back to World War II.  Maybe our low-information media could look into it.

Corruption is common in these four economically desperate countries, and their democratic traditions are weak.  The political elite has not responded to the voters, and this would be an opportune time for the accumulated oil wealth of the Middle East to make a move on Europe, following Islamist theology.  When wealthy oil regimes finance massive hate propaganda for decades, inspiring the socialist world media in Europe and the U.S. to scapegoat Israel and America in almost identical terms, it is not hard to guess which way the wind is blowing. 

Beppe Grillo is personally linked to a very wealthy Khomeinist family in Tehran.  Grillo has said in public that his late father-in-law "taught me everything I know about the Middle East."  Like the other lock-step crypto-parties, Grillo blames all of Italy's economic misfortunes on the International Jewish Conspiracy, the Illuminati, the Masons, and of course the international banks.  He glorifies the Iranian throwbacks to the Middle Ages, and chances are very good that they have returned his favors for years.

Over several decades, the European left has constantly accused its democratic opponents of being secret racists and fascists.  They are almost always wrong, and after crying Wolf! for these many years, nobody now believes in wolves anymore.  But ordinary people in Italy and Eastern Europe are feeling scared.  E-mail them if you know people back there.

Guess what: the wolves are back in politics, and they are in cahoots with the Islamist resurgence of the Middle East.

Most of the world is sane - not mad - nor is the world run by one giant conspiracy.  Yet mad fanatics really exist, and sometimes they are funded and managed by clever intelligence agencies.

We believe that the crypto-fascist parties of Europe represent a threat to free countries around the world.  We believe they are weak today, but they will become stronger tomorrow if the civilized world ignores them.  We believe that fanatics of any kinds - socialist or fascist - are very bad news.

Please check the facts for yourself.

You have the greatest news source in history at your fingertips.

And if you agree with us that there is a real problem, you are now Paul Revere in person.

James Lewis and Justine Aristea


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

Weimar Republic or 18 Brumaire?

by Khaled Fahmy

The Muslim Brotherhood does not have the power to rule Egypt as the Nazis did Germany, but what it can do — and appears to be doing — is by failure open the way for an even graver dictatorship
Last August, Wael Abbas, the writer of the well-known blog “Misr Digit@l”, wrote a perceptive article in Al-Badeel newspaper documenting the emergence of armed militias, whether Muslim Brotherhood or Ultras, or thugs or everything in between. He observed that these militias are merely the tip of the iceberg, and what is still submerged indicates a fascist hue that tinges Egyptian state and society.

He predicted that we were veering towards widespread violence, given the deteriorating economic situation, and the paralysis in the political process reaching critical lows, a situation that reminds us of Germany in the last days of the Weimar Republic in the 1920s, on the eve of the arrival of the Nazis to power.

I found myself thinking about Abbas’s article because he posed in it many important questions and directed us to implicitly draw parallels between the Nazis and Muslim Brotherhood. Before I read the article, I had just finished reading Richard Evans’s brilliant book on the Third Reich. This is in fact one book in three volumes, totaling more than 1,000 pages. In it, Evans, a British professor teaching at Cambridge University, puts the result of more than 30 years of research, teaching and writing on Germany’s modern history in lucid, clear engaging prose that will sure be a modern classic.

Interestingly, I read the three volumes backwards, beginning with the third part titled, The Third Reich in War, before realising that this volume is actually a sequel to two earlier volumes. I then turned to volume two, The Third Reich in Power, and concluded by reading volume one, The Coming of the Third Reich, which deals with the 30-odd years before the Nazis rose to power.

This unusual sequence of reading made me appreciate the book more because I was able to better value the effort made to explain the harbingers of the arrival of Nazis to power after I read about the atrocities they committed which are covered in volumes three and two. This “reverse” reading of Evans’s spectacular trilogy made me even more sensitive to the importance of what Abbas said in his article.

Abbas was not the only one last summer who compared the Muslim Brotherhood to the Nazis; many Western journalists and analysts did so before him. They specifically questioned the Brotherhood’s belief in the democratic process and expressed concern that the Muslim Brotherhood, like the Nazis, are embracing democracy only to reach power. Once in position, the argument went, they will reject democracy and earnestly work to suspend any future elections out of fear of losing after their record in power exposes them and they lose most of their popularity on the street.

I must admit that although I find this comparison between the Muslim Brotherhood and Nazis useful, I do not believe it is accurate. For one thing, when the Nazis came to power, their movement had only existed for 10 years, whereas the Muslim Brotherhood has a long history that goes back more than 80 years. Secondly, the Nazis had a key element of success, which is a charismatic leader who mesmerised and hypnotised millions with his evocative words and flamboyant oration. By contrast, no one in the Muslim Brotherhood leadership has abilities comparable to Hitler’s skill to inspire the mob and move their feelings, positively or negatively.

A third difference is that the Nazis were by far the most radical political faction in Germany, but here, the Muslim Brotherhood were surprised after they reached power that there are those who outbid them on their moral agenda (namely the Salafists), while there are others (namely Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya and Al-Jihad) who challenge their right-wing political credentials.

However, the most significant difference is that the Muslim Brotherhood today, unlike the Nazis soon after they came to power, don’t seem to want to suspend any future elections. In fact, it is their liberal opponents who are seeking to postpone elections while they themselves appear committed to holding elections, so much so that their understanding of what democracy means appears restricted to balloting, an understanding that Amr Ezzat ingeniously dubbed “ballotoracy”.

Despite these key differences between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Nazis, what both these movements share is their attitude to armed and organised violence. And I think this is the point Abbas wants us to ponder. For the Nazis were aware of the importance of creating their own militias as a tool to terrorise their opponents. They were also aware of the deep resentment that the police, officers and soldiers, had toward the democracy of the Weimar Republic; they therefore sought to win the police over even before they reached power.

Immediately following the 1933 elections, Goering was appointed as Prussia’s minister of interior and succeeded in purging the security sector of Nazi opponents, adapting this formidable apparatus to pounce on their enemies. The same thing happened in the army; the Nazis were able to infiltrate the army and win it over even before reaching power. This is the key difference between the Nazis in 1933 and the Muslim Brotherhood today; the former had already — even before reaching power — taken control of the state’s means of violence, while the Brotherhood’s fundamental dilemma today is their inability to control the police and army.

Along with these two key institutions, if one bears in mind the Muslim Brotherhood’s feeble control over the judiciary and media, then the difference between them and the Nazis in power becomes even more apparent. Regarding the civilian side of the state, it is true that the Nazis were unable to tighten their control on the German state overnight, yet even then the resistance facing the Muslim Brotherhood in this respect is even greater than anything the Nazis were up against, a further key difference in the history of the two movements.

The most prominent difference between the Nazis coming to power in Germany and the Muslim Brotherhood coming to power in Egypt is the fact that the 1933 victory that brought Hitler to the chancellery was in response to an unprecedented economic relapse, whereas the 2012 elections that brought Morsi to the presidency were the outcome of a popular revolution. Hitler had oratory faculties that enabled him to play on Germany’s critical economic condition to manipulate the lowest common denominator among the German people: racism, a sense of superiority, and determination to take revenge on those “who stabbed us in the back.”

As for Morsi, Khairat Al-Shater and Mohamed Badie, none of them have faculties that could motivate either the lowest or highest common denominator among Egyptians.

Their presence at the pinnacle of political power today is not due to any oratory skills, futuristic vision or developmental projects that they have, but is mainly the result of the political opening affected by the January revolution after long decades of stagnation and oppression. Interestingly, the Muslim Brotherhood suffered from this more than others through persecution and torture. Yet today, instead of showing gratitude to the revolution and appreciation for its role in propelling them to power, and instead of beginning to implement the most important demand of the revolution — dismantling the torture machine embodied in the Ministry of Interior — we find them courting the military, procrastinating in reforming the interior ministry, and besieging the judiciary and media with their militias.

All this indicates they are catastrophically misreading the political scene; the revolution did not break out to replace the National Democratic Party with the Muslim Brotherhood. The revolution broke out to achieve democracy, not ballotocracy. The revolution broke out to change the rules of the game entirely, not just the players.

I am certain many will frown upon comparing the Muslim Brotherhood to the Nazis, and the Brotherhood’s electronic brigades will surely spring into action to refute and reject this comparison. To them I say that, like Abbas, I sincerely hope I am mistaken. Regardless, my fear of this comparison being accurate is only surpassed by my fear that the relevant comparison might not be the one between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Nazis in 1933, but one between our situation today and the condition in France on the eve of 18 Brumaire.

Khaled Fahmy


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

Obama Embraces Hamas-Replica Abbas

by Joseph Klein


President Obama held a 90-minute meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah on March 21st, the same day that Palestinian militants in Gaza resumed their firing of rockets into southern Israel and a day after the burning of American flags and defacement of posters with Obama’s picture in the West Bank.

Obama administration officials have tried to lower expectations of any major new peace initiatives on President Obama’s trip to Israel and the West Bank. And apparently Obama did not offer any.

Instead, at a joint news conference with Abbas following their private meeting, Obama repeated his call for the establishment of an independent, sovereign state of Palestine and the end to Israeli occupation. And he reiterated his opposition to Israeli settlement activities, stating that “we do not consider continued settlement activity to be constructive, to be appropriate, to be something that can advance the cause of peace.”

However, Obama did not again emphatically demand that Israel agree to revert to the pre-June 1967 lines with minor agreed upon land swaps. And for the first time in public, Obama acknowledged that the settlements issue presented Israel with an internally “complex” situation that is not “going to be solved immediately.” He appeared to move in Israel’s direction in urging the unconditional resumption of bilateral Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

At President Obama’s joint news conference with Abbas, Obama said that “even though both sides may have areas of strong disagreement, maybe engaging in activities that the other side considers to be a breach of good faith, we have to push through those things to try to get to an agreement. I think we can keep pushing through some of these problems and make sure that we don’t use them as an excuse not to do anything.”

Obama told reporters that he considered the “core” issues to be establishing a sovereign Palestinian state and ensuring security for Israel. “That’s not to say settlements aren’t important,” Obama said. “That’s to say if we solve those two problems, the settlement issue will be resolved. If the expectation is that we can only have direct negotiations when everything is settled ahead of time, then there’s no point in negotiations.”

One can only speculate as to whether, during Obama’s private discussions with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the day before Obama’s meeting with Abbas, they reached some sort of understanding with regard to the public handling of the Iran and settlements issues. Did Netanyahu agree to give Obama the room he needs to deal with the Iranian nuclear threat Obama’s way, in return for Obama’s agreement to give Netanyahu more breathing room on the settlements issue? They, of course, won’t say, but they looked unusually relaxed in each other’s presence during their own joint news conference.

In any case, Abbas would not bite. He refused to budge on linking the resumption of negotiations to an immediate settlements freeze. In his own remarks to the press at his joint news conference with Obama, Abbas stuck to his demand for “the Israeli government to stop settlements in order to discuss all our issues and their concerns. It’s the duty of the Israeli government to stop the settlement activities to enable us to talk about the issues in the negotiations.”

The only slight but meaningless concession that Abbas was reportedly willing to consider making in private to Obama was to allow the Israelis the option of keeping the settlements freeze secret so long as they actually imposed the freeze. Of course, as soon as any settlers found out about the freeze when applying for a new building permit, the secret would be out.

President Obama’s private face-to-face meeting, and standing side by side with Abbas at their news conference, were intended to buttress the legitimacy of Abbas’s claim to represent all of the Palestinian people in negotiations with Israel.  “I think part of my goal during this trip is to have helpful discussions with both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas on what they need and how they see a potential path and how it would be structured,” Obama said. Obama attempted to marginalize any role for Hamas and its co-jihadists by essentially ignoring them in his remarks.

However, any faith that President Obama may have in Abbas as a constructive partner in negotiations for a two state solution is misplaced. Abbas showed his true colors during an interview aired March 15th on Russia Today TV in which he compared his Fatah party with Hamas in a way that blurred any meaningful distinctions between the two.

The Middle East Media Research Institute published excerpts of this interview in which Abbas said that there was “no difference between our policies and those of Hamas.”

Abbas objected to attaching the label “terrorists” to Hamas and denied that Hamas had fired any missiles at Israel except for “skirmishes once or twice.”

Abbas is just a wee bit off with his numbers. Since Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, Hamas and its co-jihadists have fired more than 8000 rockets into Israel. And at least two more rockets were fired into Israel on the morning of Abbas’s meeting with President Obama.

However, Abbas may have a point about the terrorist label for reasons far different than what he undoubtedly had in mind. “Terrorist” is too generic a term. Labeling Hamas and their ilk as jihadists, Islamo-fascists, or genocidal Islamists is more precise.

The best place to search for Hamas’s espoused policies, as to which Abbas claims there is no difference from his own party’s policies, are the words of two of the most important Hamas leaders themselves, Khaled Mash’al and Isma’il Haniya. They oppose any long-lasting two state solution and advocate an armed struggle to “liberate” all of “Palestine” from the river to the sea.

Here are some quotes, as reported by The Middle East Media Research Institute:
Hamas leader Khaled Mash’al, from a speech delivered on December 7, 2012:
First of all, Palestine – from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea, from its north to its south – is our land, our right, and our homeland. There will be no relinquishing or forsaking even an inch or small part of it… since Palestine belongs to us, and is the land of Arabism and Islam, we must never recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli occupation of it.
Jihad and armed resistance are the proper and true path to liberation and to the restoration of our rights… The true statesman is born from the womb of the rifle and the missile.
Hamas Prime Minister Isma’il Haniya, from a speech delivered on February 4, 2013:
Gaza was strong, and for the first time, the resistance shelled occupied Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Herzliya; and for the first time, two million Israelis were underground and five million experienced the supremacy of the missiles, and the occupation asked for a ceasefire… The day will soon come when you will find no remnant of the occupation in the land of Palestine – all of Palestine.
We will not relinquish the right of return to Palestine; anyone who does is not one of us, and not part of us. I say that I am from Ashkelon – Ashkelon is my city, and to it I shall return.
Hamas’s policy, in short, is to destroy the entire Jewish state of Israel. It rejects any notion of a two state solution except as a temporary way station to a “Palestine” in its entirety “from the River to the Sea.”

Abbas, Obama’s Palestinian interlocutor, admitted just one week ago that, underneath his facade of moderation, there is “no difference between our policies and those of Hamas.” This statement alone should remove all doubt regarding Abbas’s true agenda. It is the same as Hamas’s agenda, but reached through different tactics.  Hamas relies primarily on violence, with rockets, suicide bombers and human shields serving as their stock in trade.  Abbas’s Fatah party relies primarily on the tactics of deceptive diplomacy and manipulation of pliable international institutions such as the United Nations. That’s not to say that Fatah objects to violence. Last month, for instance, Fatah praised Wafa Idris, who detonated a 22-pound bomb in the center of Jerusalem in January 2001, killing an 81-year-old woman and wounded more than 100 others. In a television address on January 4, 2013 Abbas himself commemorated “Martyrs” from Fatah, Hamas, and other “fighting factions – all the martyrs.” He included in his long list “pioneer” Haj Muhammad Amin Al-Husseini, also known as “Hitler’s mufti” for his support of the Nazi dictator during World War II, and “martyr” Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam, who murdered Jews in their homes in the 1930s before there even was a state of Israel.

While standing side by side with Abbas, President Obama took one small step in the right direction by dismissing Abbas’s pretext for refusing to resume immediate unconditional negotiations with Israel. However, Obama remains under the illusion that Abbas would ever be interested in good faith negotiations leading to a durable two state solution in which an independent Palestinian state will live in peace with a secure Jewish state of Israel.

Joseph Klein


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

Calling for Protest in Israel

by Shoshana Bryen

After years of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic indoctrination, in the schools and general media, it is not realistic to believe that the Palestinians desire what the President told the Israelis to desire: "A future in which Jews, Muslim and Christians can all live in peace and greater prosperity in this Holy Land." And maybe that is why the President did not say it to the Palestinians.
President Obama's visit to Israel, and particularly his speech to 500 university students, was a winner at many levels including one he probably had not even considered. In how many countries can the President of the United States call forth the passions of the local people and have confidence that he is calling forth the "better angels"? He did it in Israel.

The President touched on deeply felt emotions for Israelis, worked hard at erasing the faux pas of relating Israel's national origins to the Holocaust, twice declined to call Israeli settlements "illegal" while standing next to PA leader Mahmoud Abbas, and he praised Israeli technology, ingenuity, democracy and culture. Remarking on the upheaval in the Arab world he said, "So much of what people in the region are seeking is happening here (Israel)."

Yes, that is something he should have said in Cairo or Ramallah. And yes, he called for a "two state solution" that has little chance of success. And yes, yes, he made false analogies between Palestinians and Israelis. And yes, yes, yes, he called Abbas, whose single elected term expired in 2009 and who has been increasingly repressive and willing to incite against Israel and the U.S., a "partner." And no, Israel cannot "reverse an undertow of isolation," that is generated by other people in other lands who do not accept that, at the end of any "peace process," Israel will still exist.

But okay. Those are things that should have been and were expected from President Obama. It was also expected that he would encourage his youthful, carefully selected, leftish college student audience to push the rightish government of Israel to do what he could not convince Prime Minister Netanyahu to do. He directly asked the audience to pressure its government.

In full campaign mode, Mr. Obama told them, "Speaking as a politician, I can promise you this: political leaders will not take risks if the people do not demand that they do. You must create the change that you want to see. (People can) overcome a legacy of mistrust that they inherited from their parents… Your voices must be louder than the extremists who would drown them out. Your hopes must light the way forward."

That is a call to protest, to political insurrection. The interesting part is that he assumed igniting a political firestorm in Israel would have a positive effect.

Unspoken -- maybe because the President had not expressly thought it -- was that if young Israelis "do it," if they "create the change they want to see," what they create will be a force for good. He assumed without saying it that the voices they would raise would be voices for peace. He assumed without saying it that Israeli hopes are hopes for peace. And he is right, although it should be said that hopes for peace reside all along the Israeli political spectrum. Those of the right want peace no less than those of the left; they just have different levels of skepticism.

But what if it is not peace in the hearts of the people, but something malign?

Mr. Obama referenced his Cairo speech to the Israelis. "Four years ago, I stood in Cairo in front of an audience of young people. Politically, religiously, they must seem a world away. But the things they want -- they're not so different from you. The ability to make their own decisions; to get an education and a good job; to worship God in their own way; to get married and have a family. The same is true of the young Palestinians that I met in Ramallah this morning, and of young Palestinians who yearn for a better life in Gaza. That is where peace begins -- not just in the plans of leaders, but in the hearts of people."

Certainly the beginning of the Arab uprising in Tunis and in Tahrir Square was focused on jobs and justice (although not on "peace" with Israel or anyone else). But the result was not the flowering of education, work and peaceful relations. It was the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, violence and the collapse of the Egyptian economy. And clearly many of the Brotherhood's supporters are young Egyptians. Intolerance for Egypt's Coptic citizens and the increasing violence in several cities attest to the dangers of calling for changes in or of government. Without wanting a return to the repression of the old government, it is safe to say that the revolution did not bring forth a better one.
Calling for an uprising in Pakistan does not seem like a great idea.

If the President told young Palestinians in Ramallah to demand that the PA "take risks" in "voices louder than" the opposition, it is likely that the Fatah government of Mahmoud Abbas would fall to the more radical and more popular Hamas. After years of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic indoctrination in the schools and the general media, it is not realistic to believe that Palestinians desire what the President told Israelis to desire: "A future in which Jews, Muslims and Christians can all live in peace and greater prosperity in this Holy Land." And maybe that is why the President did not say it to the Palestinians.

President Obama, perhaps inadvertently, made the case for U.S.-Israel relations grounded in the most fundamental shared values. Israel -- like the United States -- is that rare country in which the government does not fear the protest of the people, and the people do not fear protesting.

Shoshana Bryen is Senior Director of The Jewish Policy Center.


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

The Global Campaign Against Female Genital Mutilation Continues

by Irfan Al-Alawi

Because FGM is perceived as an "Islamic" problem, the struggle against it must be led by Muslims, to remove the stain of this ongoing scandal from our religion. "There is no mention of it in the holy Quran." The suffering inflicted young girls has no religious or medical justification, and should be wiped out wherever it is encountered.
A global campaign to eradicate female genital mutilation [FGM], often misnamed "female circumcision," continues. While foreign NGOs have made Iraqi Kurdistan a center of the effort to do away with this practice, many observers have argued that it is not a "Kurdish" problem.

FGM is also not just a "Muslim" phenomenon. However widespread it may be among Iraqi Sunni Kurds, its acceptance in Islam is limited. According to the German relief organization WADI [The Association for Crisis Assistance and Development Co-operation], in the four provinces of Iraqi Kurdistan, only the farthest north, Dohuk, which borders on Turkey, shows little evidence of FGM at any age. Among the remaining three "governorates," in the province of Erbil, named for the capital of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), 63% of women have undergone the atrocious custom; in Suleymaniya, 78%; and in Garmyan/New Kirkuk, the southernmost, 81%.

A WADI report on FGM in Iraqi Kurdistan, issued in 2010, stated that in the oldest age ranges – women between 50 and 80 years old – 80 to 95% of a statistical sample had been subjected to FGM.

FGM is also found in West African countries with non-Muslim majorities such as Benin (42% Christian, 24% Muslim, 17% "Voudoun"); Cameroon (40% "indigenous," or animist, in religion, 40% Christian, and 20% Muslim); and Ghana (71% Christian, only 17% Muslim, and 5% "traditional.") And in Africa they are not exceptions.

Nevertheless, because FGM is perceived as an "Islamic" problem, some responsibility for its abolition rests with the leaders of the worldwide Muslim community, or ummah. The struggle against FGM must be led by Muslims, to remove the stain of this ongoing scandal from our religion.

In Iraqi Kurdistan and elsewhere, Islamic scholars have argued over the legitimacy of FGM.
Even the notorious radical cleric Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, although aligned with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, is well known for his 2006 fatwa warning that hadiths (oral commentaries of Muhammad) cited to support FGM are weak in their transmission by witnesses – the basis of hadith studies. Qaradawi pointed out that "women in Islamic nations lived for centuries without circumcision being a concern, as it did not exist." He admitted, however, that "it is happening today in countries like Egypt and a few other countries in the Arab world."

In 2011, according to the internationally-distributed Kurdish-language newspaper Rudaw, a distinguished Kurdish expert on Islamic law, Dr. Mustafa Zalmi, declared without hesitation that FGM is prohibited in Islam.

Zalmi earned his degree in Islamic jurisprudence from the renowned theological university of Al-Azhar in Cairo. He argued that as FGM is absent from Mecca and Medina, where the Islamic revelation was received and the early Muslim community was organized, there is no justification for its existence either there or in remote places such as Iraqi Kurdistan. He was supported, if only in spirit, in his stand against FGM, by Mullah Ahmed Shafi'i, a member of the KRG's Fatwa Committee.

The KRG passed legislation banning FGM, as a form of family violence, in August 2011. That measure was answered by the objections of a radical cleric in Erbil, Ismail Sussai, in an incoherent sermon, which declared FGM "obligatory" and called on KRG president Massoud Barzani not to sign the law forbidding it. Barzani, indeed, did not sign the bill, but allowed it to be published as a new regulation in the KRG Official Gazette. This created an ambiguous situation. Barzani and his supporters could claim the law was in effect, but his opponents among the extremist clerics could ignore it.

WADI states that the anti-FGM law in Iraqi Kurdistan has had a visible effect, and that the incidence of the procedure is declining. But critics of Barzani's government say that it has lagged behind in suppressing FGM.

On February 6, 2013 – the "International Day for Zero Tolerance of FGM" – an anti-FGM law covering the whole of Iraq was presented to the country's parliament, but without further action. As a precedent, on December 20, 2012, the United Nations General Assembly adopted unanimously a resolution calling for all countries to ban FGM. But like most UN activities, the resolution, which is not legally binding, was an empty gesture.

In September 2012, a year after the KRG published its ban on FGM, Reuters news agency distributed a substantial report from Tutakal, an obscure Kurdish village in Iraq, where FGM had been established for generations. Last year, apparently, the residents of Tutakal agreed to end the abuse of young girls that had been imposed on the pretexts of tradition and faith. Enhanced government services and the erection of small classrooms provided helpful incentives to arrive at this decision.

The Reuters account quoted Golchen Aubed, aged 50, who admitted that she had allowed her four daughters to be genitally mutilated, because of what Westerners might call "peer pressure." She said that if she had not done it, her neighbors would have wanted to know why.

But her son Lukman, who has a daughter free from FGM, has pledged that if he hears of anybody in the village carrying out such acts, he will report them to the police. In addition, Aubed said, she has a second son, with two daughters, who have also not been victims of FGM.

The main lesson from the village of Tutakal must be that while NGOs and international rhetoric may publicize the crime of FGM, it must be stopped where it takes place: in homes and communities. Reuters quoted the headman of Tutakal, Sarhad Ajeb, as he sat in the small local mosque. "We now feel the pain of the woman," he said. "The woman feels incomplete because when they do this, they cut a piece of flesh from a woman." Perhaps most importantly, he affirmed, "There is no mention of this practice in the holy Quran."

For moderate, conventional, traditional, and spiritual Muslims, that should settle the question of FGM. The suffering inflicted on young girls has no religious or medical justification, and should be wiped out wherever it is encountered.

Irfan Al-Alawi


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