Saturday, March 30, 2013

Qatar’s Apartheid Fund

by Seth Mandel

As Jews in America were preparing for their second seder (or perhaps recovering from the first), during which they sang “next year in Jerusalem,” representatives of the states that make up the Arab League were trying to figure out how to prevent that from occurring. Specifically, Mahmoud Abbas–the man some people still fancifully claim is a brave man of peace–was pleading for help from the Arab states to stop Jews from being able to live in their eternal capital and the spiritual center of their universe.

His hateful speechifying was not in vain. Qatar–a country on a singular mission to empower jihadists throughout the region–pledged to establish a special apartheid fund in the hopes of raising $1 billion. It won’t be called an apartheid fund, obviously, but its beneficiaries speak the language of bigotry. The Jerusalem Post reports:
Abbas hailed Qatar’s announcement that it would establish a special fund for Jerusalem with a $1 billion budget to support the Arab residents of the city and foil Israel’s attempts to “judaize” east Jerusalem.
This has been a Palestinian complaint for some time. Under Israeli control, both Jews and non-Jews are permitted to live throughout Jerusalem. Between 1948 and 1967, when Jordan invaded and captured the city, Jews were not permitted to enter Jordanian territory. When Israel regained the Jewish capital, the apartheid policies were of course lifted and worshipers of any religion could live in the city and visit their respective holy sites.

The preferred Palestinian policy is one in which Arabs are permitted to live in any part of Jerusalem but Jews are forbidden from living in certain parts of the city. The State of Israel, obviously, rejects this. It isn’t quite clear how the Qatari apartheid fund is supposed to work. It can’t control housing policy in Israeli territory, but Qatari money is quite often put to violent purposes, so this is sure to raise alarm. On Monday, Haaretz had previewed the conference:
Speaking from his capital city, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani will reportedly commit a large sum of money to the cause and call on Arab states – especially in the Persian Gulf – to chip in. The fund will be managed by an Islamic investment bank and is expected to attract around $1 billion.
Palestinian Authority officials are skeptical, noting the Arab League has made and broken generous promises in the past, including one to provide their government with a financial safety net.
“We hope this time the decisions will be implemented in full,” a senior Palestinian official told Haaretz.
It is my great hope that one day Palestinian officials will be embarrassed to make these comments to newspapers, and it says something about the West’s bigotry of low expectations toward the Palestinians that it doesn’t express any outrage at the talk of apartheid funds as soon as President Obama leaves the region.

Complaints about “Judaizing” anything reflect the mindset of people with no interest in living in peace with their Jewish neighbors–they, in fact, would like there to be no Jewish neighbors at all. It also offers a good indication of the intentions of the current Palestinian leadership were they to get their own fully sovereign state. And this “Judenrein” mindset inculcates a predilection toward separatism and xenophobia in Palestinian youth. It’s the sort of thing Hillary Clinton used to call child abuse when she was running for Senate in New York. Perhaps we’ll hear such forthright language if and when Clinton runs for president and reclaims the kind of moral leadership anathema to Foggy Bottom.

It also has broader consequences. In his Tablet column today, Michael Moynihan writes of Danish journalist Martin Krasnik’s experiment in which he walked through his town in Denmark wearing a yarmulke. It did not go very well, and he received all manner of threats. Krasnik is a political liberal, but he and other Danes are expressing both sorrow and fear at the anti-Semitism “imported from the Middle East,” especially in more heavily Palestinian neighborhoods and schools. It seems Palestinians, taking a cue from their nominal political leader Abbas, do not constrain their opposition to “Judaization” to Jerusalem or even the Palestinian territories. Abbas feeds and encourages hatred of Jews to such an extent that Palestinians seem resistant to living in peace with Jews anywhere in the world.

And Qatar hopes to encourage this mindset to the tune of $1 billion.
Seth Mandel


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

Don’t Insult the King of Palestine

by Jonathan S. Tobin

Last week President Obama used his speech in Jerusalem to Israeli students to once again prop up the idea that Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas is a reliable partner for peace. Despite his refusal to negotiate and his unwillingness to grab an Israeli offer of statehood in 2008, Abbas is still widely viewed in the West as a moderate and a good alternative to the extremists of Hamas. But, as was the case with his predecessor Yasir Arafat, the need to believe in the myth of Palestinian moderation tends to overshadow the truth about Abbas and his rule over the West Bank.

A little more light was shed on Abbas today as the New York Times—whose pages have been filled with cheerleading for the Palestinian Authority—published on its website last night a story about what happens to Palestinians who criticize the PA’s supremo. As Robert Mackey notes on the paper’s news blog The Lede:
A Palestinian court on Thursday upheld a one-year jail sentence for a journalist convicted of insulting President Mahmoud Abbas with a pastiche image posted on Facebook. Another Palestinian was given the same sentence last month for posting a humorous caption beneath an image of Mr. Abbas kicking a soccer ball on the social network.
The journalist, Mamdouh Hamamreh, said that he did not create or publish the composite image that compared Mr. Abbas to a character from a Syrian historical drama who collaborated with French colonialists. The court, applying part of the old Jordanian legal code that criminalizes insulting the king to an Internet jibe against the Palestinian president, was not swayed by Mr.Hamamreh’s s argument that he had played no part in the decision by the person who did upload the image to Facebook to draw it to his attention by adding his name as a tag to the text that accompanied it.
These incidents are just one more reminder that since its inception 20 years ago, the PA has been a corrupt tyranny that tramples on the rights of those people under its control. But the truth is, as was also the case with Arafat, the desire of many in the West as well as in Israel to have a Palestinian interlocutor causes them to ignore the PA’s sins or to whitewash them. Since we need Abbas to be the moderate alternative to Hamas, we cling to the idea that he really wants peace and even imagine that Israel will be better off if he and his cronies are put in charge of an independent state and tell ourselves it doesn’t matter if he is a petty tyrant or even a criminal. Indeed, that is what a lot of hardheaded Israelis have been telling us for years. But are they right?

The consensus in Israel dating back to Yitzhak Rabin has always been that it didn’t matter how beastly the Palestinian Authority was so long as it kept terrorists in line. Rabin famously defended the wisdom of putting Arafat in power by saying that he could fight terror “without a Supreme Court, without B’Tselem, and without bleeding heart liberals.” But unfortunately, Rabin’s prediction that the lack of Palestinian democracy would enhance Israel’s security was a colossal miscalculation. If anything, the lack of transparency only made it easier for Arafat to quietly subsidize terror by factions of his own Fatah Party even if he was also hoping to suppress his Hamas rivals.

Ariel Sharon also had little interest in the behavior of the Palestinian Authority toward its own people. He mocked Natan Sharansky for insisting that Israel’s security depended on the creation of a stable, democratic partner and that true peace would never happen until the PA stopped being a kleptocracy run by unaccountable tyrants.

As it turned out, Rabin and Sharon were both wrong and Sharansky’s predictions were proven prophetic; not only has the PA been a source of terror but its lack of legitimacy has undermined any hope that it could be a bulwark against the Islamists of Hamas.

It is true that Israel relies on the PA to keep the West Bank from being the terror base that Gaza has become under Hamas rule. But so long as it is looked upon by the Palestinian people with contempt and fear it will not have the ability to keep a peace agreement with Israel even if its leaders had the courage or the wisdom to sign one.

Highlighting the tyrannical nature of the PA—something once again made clear by Abbas’s unwillingness to allow even the mildest criticism of his rule—isn’t merely a matter of showing the contrast between democratic Israel and its antagonists. So long as Abbas—who is currently serving the ninth year of a four-year term as president of the PA—presides over a government of this nature any hope that he can be trusted to keep the peace is science fiction. Peace with such a king of Palestine would not be worth the paper it was printed on even were he willing to sign on the dotted line.

When Palestinians are ready to treat each other with dignity and respect, it will be possible to imagine that they will do the same to their Jewish neighbors. Until then, more talk about the PA being a partner for peace is pious hogwash.
Jonathan S. Tobin


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

Dore Gold: What Would Kissinger Do?

by Dore Gold

The understandings reached between Israel and Turkey in efforts to normalize their relations raise a more fundamental issue about relations between states in today's Middle East. Behind this reconciliation stands the growing concern of both countries about the rising tide of regional instability, emanating in particular from Syria, which could spill over into neighboring states, like Iraq. 

While Turkey is tied to the West through multiple institutions, like NATO, it is still ruled by the AKP party, whose ideology was described in leaked American diplomatic cables appearing in WikiLeaks from a few years back as "neo-Ottoman" — meaning it aspires to carve out spheres of influence in the territories that were part of the Ottoman Empire before World War I. 

In October 2009, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu presented an ideologically driven foreign policy during an appearance in Sarajevo when he argued that "the Balkans, Caucasus and Middle East were all better off when under Ottoman control or influence." The same cables described AKP party members as having, in some cases, even more extremist views. A U.S. diplomat at an AKP think tank heard the widespread belief that a neo-Ottoman Turkey would want to "take back Andalusia [Spain] and avenge the defeat at the siege of Vienna in 1683." 

Yet there are indications that Turkey began to understand that it would have to temper any ativistic foreign policy that it might have originally sought to adopt. In a March 21 article in Foreign Policy, Davutoglu still indicated a preference for special ties with these areas, but this time he had dropped his neo-Ottoman rhetoric and set more moderate goals: "We have broken ground in reconnecting with the Balkans, Black Sea region, Caucasus and Middle East."

True, this was written for an American audience, but had regional conditions in the Middle East prompted Turkey to adopt a more pragmatic foreign policy? Still even if this was the case, the question needs to be asked whether two states like Turkey and Israel, with such diverse points of view, can coordinate with each other for the purpose of safeguarding regional stability?

In his first book, which was originally written as a doctoral thesis at Harvard University, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger wrestled with exactly the same question when he examined the politics of Europe in the early 19th century after the Napoleonic Wars. The diplomats at the time, like Austria's Klemens von Metternich and British Foreign Secretary Lord Castlereagh, both recognized that the old international order in the 18th century, that had been protected by the royal families of Europe, had been shattered by new revolutionary forces that France had unleashed. They established that new order, which became known as the Concert of Europe following the Congress of Vienna in 1815. 

The new regional order brought together states with diametrically opposed domestic political systems. Liberal Britain, which was sympathetic to the rising democratic demands of peoples on the European continent, nonetheless worked closely with conservative leaders from Austria and Russia to ensure European stability.

According to Kissinger, they shared a common insight that for any new order to be legitimate, it would have to be based on a common understanding about what were reasonable aims for European foreign policy and what were the acceptable methods states should employ to achieve them. They no longer argued over the justice of their positions. Actually, for them the goal of diplomacy was far more limited: ensuring the stability of Europe and preventing a major continental war erupting again on the scale of the Napoleonic Wars.

Kissinger published his thesis with the tile "A World Restored: Metternich, Castlereagh and the Problems of Peace 1812-1822." He wanted to understand the formula European diplomats used to carefully build political arrangements across Europe and how they sustained them for decades. He notes that the system these 19th century statesmen created protected stability by averting a major continental war in the heart of Europe that drew in the major European powers for 99 years from 1815 to 1914 — despite the outbreak of smaller conflicts, like the Crimean War (1853-1856) and the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71). Kissinger wanted to apply the lessons of this period to the conflict between the U.S. and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, but might they provide clues as to the necessary conditions for successful Middle East diplomacy today? 

First, the statesmen that led the European states in the 19th century had to make an enormous ideological leap and adopt a pragmatic approach to the definition of their diplomatic goals. They needed to constrain the ideological drive that kept some of them in a permanent state of conflict with each other. A recent op-ed that ran on March 25 in the pro-Islamic Turkish newspaper Zaman noted that the Turkish government "does not see a permanent state of conflict with Israel as being advantageous for Turkey." 

Describing Israel as "a significant country in the region," the columnist explained to his readers that what was going on with Syria, Iraq, and with the Kurds "required Turkey to open at least consultation channels with Israel." If this approach is indeed adopted by the Turkish government, as well, then there is a chance that the reconciliation with Turkey can work.

Second, the European states that Kissinger studied were deeply aware of the dangers emanating from a revolutionary situation that threatened their collective stability. That was not always the case. He warns in his book that for "powers long accustomed to tranquillity and without experience with disaster, this is a hard lesson to come by. Lulled by a period of stability which had seemed permanent, they find it nearly impossible to take at face value the assertion of the revolutionary power that it means to smash the existing framework." It would appear that Turkey, which has absorbed tens of thousands of Syrian refugees, has no illusions about the current dangers in the Middle East and their impact on its most vital interests. 

Another lesson for Kissinger from the period of 19th century diplomacy is to have more realistic expectations about what diplomacy can deliver. He wanted to understand how peace might be achieved, but he wrote that states should make the achievement of stability their first priority, otherwise he felt that neither goal would be reached: "Those ages which in retrospect seem most peaceful were least in search of peace. Those whose quest for it seems unending appear least able to achieve tranquillity."

For Kissinger, peace remains an important objective, but it can only come about through a process of regional stabilization and security, for he was aware that whenever peace was the "primary objective of a power or group of powers, then the international system has been at the mercy of the most ruthless member." Whether the regional stabilization process is in fact adopted depends as much on the initiatives proposed in Washington as much as the policies of Ankara and Jerusalem. It also depends on whether the Obama administration and its local partners in the region effectively tackle the "most ruthless" power in the region — namely Iran.

Today, Iran is on Turkey's doorstep. It has deployed its Revolutionary Guards on the ground in Syria and its cargo planes cross Iraqi airspace to Syria in order to resupply Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's besieged army. And yet, it is not exactly clear how Turkey views Iran. Back in the 16th and 17th centuries, the Ottomans fought bitter wars with the Shiite Safavid Empire; indeed the Turks believed that they were unable to successfully invade Europe to their west because the Safavids had stabbed them in the back from the east. If Ankara now understands that all its most vital interests in the Middle East will be completely compromised by Tehran the moment it crosses the nuclear threshold, then Turkey's renewed ties with Israel might acquire a firmer basis in the future.

Dore Gold


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

What is Really "Broken" In Syria?

by Stephen Schwartz

The leaders of Iran and Syria are united not by Shi'ism, but by homicidal fantasies.
Among the many noteworthy aspects of President Barack Obama's recent tour of the Middle East was a comment on March 22, during a press conference with Jordanian King Abdullah II. Obama said, "Something has been broken in Syria, and it's not going to be put back together perfectly, immediately, anytime soon – even after Assad leaves."

Although the characterization of Syria's condition was accurate, Syria has been "broken" for a longer time than most Weste­rners seem to think. A religious fissure in Syrian society – a tear that has now widened into a civil war and filled up with blood, bodies, and ruins – dates at least to 1970. That year Hafez Al-Assad (1930-2000), father of the current dictator, Bashar Al-Assad, who are both members of the Alawite religious minority, seized power within the Syrian wing of the Ba'ath party, which had ruled the country since a coup in 1963.

Supporting both Al-Assads, and serving as their main subordinates and followers, were – and are – other members of the Alawite denomination, which some consider Muslim, and others do not. The world was slow to recognize in the Syrian civil conflict, commencing in 2011, a sectarian confrontation. The Syrian war pits the Alawites, who are typically counted as about 11% of the country's population of 22.5 million, against the Sunni Muslims, who total around 75%. There is also a small Alawite presence in Lebanon, which is vulnerable to involvement in the Syrian contest.

When Hafez Al-Assad became dictator of Syria, Alawites had already infiltrated the Syrian army on a wide scale, a pattern that began under the French mandate controlling Syria from 1920 to 1946. Hafez Al-Assad installed still more Alawites as Ba'athist leaders, at the summits of military elite and state administration in Syria – an Alawite ascendancy maintained by Bashar Al-Assad. Between the Alawites and the Sunni Arabs stand small communities of Sunni Kurds and Turkmens, Christians, Druzes (an esoteric faith derived from Shia Islam), other variants of traditional Shi'ism, and even a microscopic Jewish contingent. While favoring the Alawite minority, the Al-Assad regime pursued, under both father and son, a policy of public secularism. This included protection of the marginal creeds, as a bulwark against the overwhelming Sunni multitude.

Even though the Alawites are typically described as an "offshoot of Shia Islam," from their emergence in the 9th century until the 20th century, their identification with an Islam of any kind has been denied by Muslim rulers and theologians.

Rejection of their claim as Muslims was, and is, based above all on their worship, as God, of Ali Ibn Abi Talib – the fourth caliph who succeeded Muhammad (and three others from among Muhammad's companions). Ali, assassinated in 661 CE, was a cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad, and is considered by Shias to have possessed divine knowledge – one of the core differences between Shias and Sunnis, who refuse any such an assumption about Ali.

All Muslims, both Sunni and Shia, accept Ali as a righteous leader of the Muslims. The Alawites, however, have taken their devotion to Ali so far as to believe that Ali was the creator of the world, of humanity, of Muhammad, and of a third member of the "Alawite trinity," Salman Al-Farsi, a companion of Muhammad and the first translator of the Koran out of Arabic, into his native Persian. Ali, as the Alawites conceive him, was the final manifestation of God.

The notion that Ali was God, and created Muhammad, has been treated by Sunnis and, until the late 20th century, conventional Shia Muslims, as a departure from Islam, if not a tradition with which Islam was never directly involved. The Alawite sect has been said by foreign scholars to have roots in, and reflections of, ancient Phoenician practices, Persian religious movements derived from Zoroastrianism, and even Christianity.

Through the centuries, several important Sunni fatwas [Islamic clerical judgments] proclaimed that the Alawites were not Muslim. These fatwas include three issued by Ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328), an ultra-fundamentalist Sunni, considered the leading forerunner of Wahhabism, the state religion in Saudi Arabia. Al Qaeda frequently praises Ibn Taymiyya a a source of inspiration. Ibn Taymiyya's knowledge of the Alawites, however, was imperfect, according to Yvette Talhamy of the University of Haifa, who summarized 650 years of fatwas on them in a 2010 article in Middle East Studies, "The Fatwas and the Nusayri/Alawis of Syria." In 1516 and in the 1820s, high Ottoman Sunni clerics issued even more fatwas against the Alawites that justified their repression.

The end of Ottoman authority in Syria, with its conquest by the British and French Allies in 1918, changed the status of the Alawites. Before the Ottoman collapse, and the arrival of the French as rulers under authority of the former League of Nations in 1920, the Alawites were an impoverished mountain people. They lived by raiding Muslim and Christian villages, by banditry against travellers, and by meagerly-rewarded, often-neglected agriculture. The French after 1920 granted the Alawites a separate state at Latakia on the Mediterranean coast, where they remain a considerable community. When the French also made armed Alawites a substantial element of the French occupation forces, some Alawites repaid the favor by declaring themselves separate from Islam.

Under the French, the Alawites received their first fatwa certifying them as Muslims – from none other than Muhammad Haj Amin Al-Husseini (1895-1974), the British-appointed Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and outspoken supporter of Hitler during the Second World War. Attempting to secure Arab unity, according to Talhamy, in 1936 Al-Husseini affirmed that the Alawites were Muslims.

In a process that began in 1952, Al-Husseini's approval of the Alawites was echoed by fatwas issued by Shia clerics in Syria. It culminated in 1972 when Ayatollah Hasan Mahdi al-Shirazi (1935–80), an Iranian-Iraqi Shia exiled to Lebanon and close to Hafez Al-Assad, wrote a fatwa declaring the Alawites to be Muslims.

Similarly associated with Hafez Al-Assad, and issuing a definitive fatwa in 1973 accepting the Alawites as authentic Shia Muslims, was another leading Shia cleric, Musa Al-Sadr. Born in Iran in 1928 of Lebanese extraction, he became a major figure in the Lebanese Shia Amal party, which allied with Ayatollah Khomeini's revolutionary movement even before Khomeini overthrew the Shah in 1979. In 1978 Al-Sadr went to Libya where he disappeared, apparently killed at the order of the late Mu'ammar Al-Qadhdhafi. Hafez Al-Assad was further confirmed as a Muslim believer by the Sunni Grand Mufti of Syria, sheikh Ahmad Kuftaro (1915-2004). Talhamy argues that it was the acceptance of the Alawites as Shia Muslims that led to Syria's alliance with the Iran of Ayatollah Khomeini and his successors.

Following the murder of Ali, the progenitor of Shi'ism, the Islamic branch of Sunnism was born in Damascus 1,350 years ago. The overwhelming mass of the world's Sunnis never accepted the designation of the Alawites as Muslims of any variety. The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, a Sunni movement, led violent protests against the regime created by the 1963 Ba'athist coup, with its significant Alawite involvement, in command over Damascus.

In 1964, soon after the Alawite-backed Ba'athist takeover of Syria, the Muslim Brotherhood was banned. As described by Talhamy, that year, in the city of Hama, the Muslim Brotherhood, Arab nationalist supporters of the Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser, socialists, and liberals all rose up against the secular, minority, and peasant nature of the new rulers. The Ba'athists – with Hafez Al-Assad then as minister of defense – responded by bombing the Al-Sultan Mosque in Hama, killing about 100 people. The incident was a harbinger of what was to come, and what continues today in Syria.

Al-Assad established absolute control, using his own Alawite faction, in 1970. Beginning in 1976, the Brotherhood pursued an armed struggle against the Syrian government, bringing in turn more massacres by Hafez Al-Assad's forces. Aleppo was occupied in 1980 by Al-Assad's military and armed party officials, who killed as many as 2,000 people and arrested 8,000 more. Strife returned to Hama in 1981 and 1982, when a Brotherhood uprising in Hama in 1982 was met by Hafez Al-Assad's ordering weeks of firing on the residents by helicopters, rockets, cannon, and tanks. Tens of thousands of Syrians were killed in Hama, many fled, and much of the city was destroyed.

That conflict between the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood and its allies, and the self-described Shi'ia Alawites, is the rupture in "broken" Syria – and it is not new. The massive repression by the Alawite tyranny, now assisted by Iran, has fed the rage of the Sunnis, who are incited by the Muslim Brotherhood and, more recently, by foreign Sunni jihadis. Given their unique theology, unacceptable to the rest of the world's Muslims – except for the radical Shias of Iran and Lebanon – Bashar Al-Assad and his loyalists, following his father's path, believe evidently, as do other totalitarian despots, that they have nothing to gain from accommodating their opponents and nothing to lose by unrestrained atrocities.

Equipped with chemical weapons, Bashar Al-Assad and his Alawite auxiliaries have apocalyptic visions similar to those of Ahmadinejad, Khamenei, and the Iranian builders of a nuclear arsenal, who dream of the coming of an Islamic mahdi, or messiah, and of the End of Days. The leaders of Syria and Iran are united not by Shi'ism, but by homicidal fantasies.

Stephen Schwartz


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

Hamas–Fatah Reconciliation Talks In Doubt

by Kifah Ziboun

Source: Abbas to refuse to participate in Cairo summit if Hamas officials attend

Demonstrators hold a Palestinian flag during a protest outside Jerusalem's magistrates' court in support of Samer Al-Issawi, one of four Palestinians held by Israel who have been on an intermittent hunger strike, February 19, 2013. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Demonstrators hold a Palestinian flag during a protest outside Jerusalem’s magistrates’ court in support of Samer Al-Issawi, one of four Palestinians held by Israel who have been on an intermittent hunger strike, February 19, 2013. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Ramallah, Asharq Al-Awsat—A well-informed Palestinian source has told Asharq Al-Awsat that President Mahmoud Abbas will refuse to participate in any Arab League summit also attended by Hamas. 

Just days after the announcement of a proposed Arab League meeting in Cairo between Fatah and Hamas, to be held under the auspices of the Egyptian presidency hopes of Palestinian reconciliation, have been thrown into doubt once more. This meeting was arranged after the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, called for a special Arab summit to be held in Cairo to discuss Palestinian reconciliation. 

The source, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, revealed that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is prepared to attend such a summit on the condition that no Hamas representatives attend. He stressed that meetings with Hamas and other Palestinian factions should be held following the summit. 

The Palestinian source emphasized that the Palestinian Authority’s legitimacy would be harmed if Hamas were to attend. 

He added that although the Palestinian president had initially welcomed the emir of Qatar’s proposal, the decision of Fatah and Abbas to attend the summit will largely depend on who else is invited, as well as the special meeting’s stated objectives. 

This represents a retreat from initial acceptance of this Arab League meeting. Speaking on Thursday, Fatah official Yahya Rabaht confirmed that Egypt will host initial consultations with Fatah and Hamas officials to relaunch national reconciliation talks. 

He told the official Palestinian Ma’an News Agency, “We made the needed consultations and reconciliation now needs to be implemented. We are going forward with one temporary national unity government [comprised] [sic] of independent figures and headed by President Mahmoud Abbas.”

He added, “Reconciliation is at a very important political stage.”

Hamas leader Khaled Mishal immediately welcomed the initiative to bring the two Palestinian factions together for talks in Cairo. 

Speaking on the sidelines of the Doha summit, he said, “God willing, Mahmoud Abbas and I will succeed in achieving national unity. I can see how close it is.”

Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi had also emphasized the importance of Palestinian reconciliation. He stressed that the Palestinian cause cannot move forward “without reaching a resolution and liberating the land that remains under occupation.” 

These reconciliation talks are now in doubt due to questions over who will participate. Hamas and Fatah have agreed a broad reconciliation deal, but this has yet to be implemented following disagreements regarding legislative and presidential elections. 

Palestinian Minister of Religious Endowments Mahmoud Habbash strongly criticized the idea of reconciliation talks. 

During a fiery Friday sermon, he stressed that “we do not want a summit for discussions; we want a summit for action … to instruct the Palestinian factions and parties that are disrupting reconciliation.” 

He asked, “What is there to discuss? There is an agreement, and it must be implemented.” 

Habbash also stated that he would support Abbas should the president refuse to attend the summit alongside Hamas. He said, “Logic dictates that a meeting should be held for Arab heads of state, and then following this, the Arab heads of state will issue their instructions to the Palestinian factions.”

He emphasized that there is only one legitimate authority and presidency in Palestine, adding that Hamas is seeking to usurp the position of the Palestinian Authority. 

He said, “They have plotted to do so. They tried to enter the Arab League by putting forward conditions, but [they] did not succeed. Then they tried to join by claiming legitimacy, but this also failed. Now, they are trying to pounce on the Palestinian Liberation Organization and its legitimacy.” 

Kifah Ziboun


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

PLO Official Hanan Ashrawi’s NGO Publishes Passover Blood Libel

by Zach Pontz

Hanan Ashrawi. Photo: wiki commons.

MIFTAH, an NGO whose founder PLO Official Hanan Ashrawi is a well known media personality in the West, and which receives funding from the UN and the Ford Foundation, published an article to its website Wednesday that claimed Jews use the blood of Christians for Passover rituals.

Anonymous pro-Israel blogger Elder of Ziyon spotted this passage in an article by Nawaf al-Zaru on MIFTAH’s Arabic-language site (bold courtesy of EoZ):
“Does Obama in fact know the relationship, for example, between “Passover” and “Christian blood” ..?!Or “Passover” and “Jewish blood rituals..?!Much of the chatter and gossip about historical Jewish blood rituals in Europe are real and not fake as they claim; the Jews used the blood of Christians in the Jewish Passover …”
Al-Zaru was responding to this section of U.S. President Barack Obama’s speech to students in Jerusalem last Thursday:
“I also know that I come to Israel on the eve of a sacred holiday – the celebration of Passover. And that is where I would like to begin today. Just a few days from now, Jews here in Israel and around the world will sit with family and friends at the Seder table, and celebrate with songs, wine and symbolic foods. After enjoying Seders with family and friends in Chicago and on the campaign trail, I’m proud to have brought this tradition into the White House. I did so because I wanted my daughters to experience the Haggadah, and the story at the center of Passover that makes this time of year so powerful.
“It is a story of centuries of slavery, and years of wandering in the desert; a story of perseverance amidst persecution, and faith in God and the Torah. It is a story about finding freedom in your own land. For the Jewish people, this story is central to who you have become.”
According to Elder of Ziyon, al-Zaru also quotes  “a 2007 Haaretz article on a book by a Bar-Ilan University professor that bizarrely claimed that a few blood libels could have had a basis in fact, without noting that the same professor recanted those claims a year later.”

When reached on the phone by The Algemeiner a MIFTAH employee had no comment on the article. After The Algemeiner emailed the organization the article was removed from MIFTAH’s website. It was never published to MIFTAH’s English-language webpage.

A screenshot of the relevant part of the article in Arabic on MIFTAH’s website can be viewed below.

Screenshot of the MIFTAH blood libel article.

Zach Pontz


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

The Threat of Islamic Betrayal

by Raymond Ibrahim


A recent assassination attempt in Turkey offers valuable lessons for the West concerning Islamist hate—and the amount of deceit and betrayal that hate engenders towards non-Muslim “infidels.”

Last January, an assassination plot against a Christian pastor in Turkey was thwarted.  Police arrested 14 suspects.  Two of them had been part of the pastor’s congregation for more than a year, feigning interest in Christianity.   One went so far as to participate in a baptism.  Three of the suspects were women.  “These people had infiltrated our church and collected information about me, my family and the church and were preparing an attack against us,” said the pastor in question, Emre Karaali, a native Turk: “Two of them attended our church for over a year and they were like family.”

And their subversive tactics worked: “The 14 [suspects] had collected personal information, copies of personal documents, created maps of the church and the pastor’s home, and had photos of those who had come to Izmit [church] to preach.”

Consider the great lengths these Islamic supremacists went to in order to murder this Christian pastor: wholesale deception, attending non-Islamic places of worship and rites to the point that “they were like family” to the Christian they sought to betray and kill.  While some may think such acts are indicative of un-Islamic behavior, they are, in fact, doctrinally permissible and historically demonstrative.

Islamic teaching permits deceits, ruses, and dispensations. For an in depth examination, read about the doctrines of taqiyya, tawriya, and taysir.  Then there is Islam’s overarching idea of niyya (or “intention”), best captured by the famous Muslim axiom, “necessity makes permissible the prohibited.” According to this teaching, the intentions behind Muslim actions determine whether said actions are permissible or not.

From here one may understand the many incongruities of Islam: lying is forbidden—unless the intention is to empower Islam; killing women and children is forbidden—but permissible during the jihad; suicide is forbidden—unless the intention is to kill infidels, in which case it becomes a “martyrdom operation.”

Thus, feigning interest in Christianity, attending church for over a year, participating in Christian baptisms, and becoming “like family” to an infidel—all things forbidden according to Islamic Sharia—become permissible in the service of the jihad on Christianity.

History offers several examples of Muslims feigning friendship and loyalty to non-Muslims only to break faith at the opportune moment, beginning with Islam’s founder.  When a non-Muslim poet, Ka‘b ibn Ashraf, offended Muhammad, the prophet exclaimed: “Who will kill this man who has hurt Allah and his prophet?” A young Muslim named Ibn Maslama volunteered on condition that, to get close enough to Ka‘b to assassinate him, he be allowed to deceive the poet. The prophet agreed.  Ibn Maslama went to Ka‘b feigning friendship; the poet trusted his sincerity and took him into his confidence. Soon thereafter, the Muslim youth returned with a friend and, while the trusting poet’s guard was down, they slaughtered him.

Likewise, Muhammad commanded a convert from an adversarial tribe to conceal his new Muslim identity and go back to his tribe—which he cajoled with a perfidious “You are my stock and my family, the dearest of men to me”—only to betray them to Islam.

Such are the lengths some Muslims—past and present—go to in order to win the trust of those infidels they mean to betray.  For example, in October 2012 in Somalia, a nation that has nothing in common with Turkey, neither race, language, nor culture—only Islam—this same story of betrayal recently took place.  When a Muslim sheikh became suspicions that a woman in his village had converted to Christianity, he sent his wife to the apostate, instructing her to pretend to be interested in learning about Christianity.  The trusting Christian woman was only too happy to share the Gospel with the feigning Muslim woman.  After it was verified that the woman was Christian, the sheikh and other Muslims went to her house and shot her dead.

Such betrayals can only be understood in the context of the growing hate felt for infidels, Christians at the top of the list.  In Turkey alone—a relatively “moderate” nation in comparison to other Muslim nations like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt—recent anecdotes of hate include the slaying of an 85-year-old Christian Armenian woman, who was repeatedly stabbed to death in her apartment.  A crucifix was carved onto her naked corpse.   This is the fifth attack in the past two months against elderly Christian women (one lost an eye), even though Christians make less than 1% of Turkey’s population.

The Turkish pastor targeted for assassination also explained the great enmity felt for Christians: “There is hate and this hate feeling continues from people here.”  Muslim children often curse and throw rocks at his church and its congregation—which consists of only 20 members.

Then of course there was the Malatya massacre.  In April 2007, several terrorists attacked a publishing house in Malatya, Turkey, for distributing Bibles.  They bound, tortured, and stabbed for several hours three of its Christian employees before slitting their throats. Evidence also later emerged that the massacre was part of a much larger operation, including involvement of elements in Turkey’s military.   One unidentified suspect later said: “We didn’t do this for ourselves, but for our religion [Islam]….  Let this be a lesson to enemies of our religion.”

Indeed, the true “lesson” is best captured by the following question: If some Muslims, including women, are willing to go to such lengths to eliminate the already ostracized and downtrodden non-Muslim minorities in their midst—attending churches and becoming like “family members” to those infidels they intend to kill—how much deceit and betrayal must some of the smiling Muslim activists of America, especially those in positions of power and influence, be engaging in to subvert and eliminate the most dangerous of all infidels, the original Great Satan?

And yet, according to the Obama administration, the only Islamic-related threat Americans need to worry about is al-Qaeda—open, bearded terrorists screaming “death to America” while toting their Kalashnikovs—not, of course, that the administration thinks even al-Qaeda has anything to do with “radical Islamism,” let alone Islam proper.

Raymond Ibrahim


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Justice and the Islamist Terrorist: The Burlesque in Britain

by Michael Curtis

Commitment to the principle of human rights is now in collision with the ability of Western democratic countries to deal with and protect themselves from Islamic terrorists.

On March 27, 2013, by decision of a senior judicial panel, the British government lost another attempt to deport the Islamist preacher Omar Othman, usually referred to as Abu Qatada, to Jordan, where he would be retried on criminal charges.  Understandingly, staunch advocates of human rights have applauded the decision of the judges.  Yet the sequence of events leading to this outcome is disappointing not only for British officials, who have wanted to remove him from the country.  It is even more disturbing that it prevents or delays what must be regarded as just and appropriate treatment for an individual whose preaching of radical hate and violent actions  make him a danger to national security and to civil society.

On November 12, 2012, the British special immigration appeals commission (Siac) in London decided that Qatada should not be deported because "there was a real risk he would be subject to a flagrant denial of justice" if retried in a state security court in Jordan for offences in 1998.  He had in April 1999 been convicted in abstentia of bombing offenses and sentenced to life imprisonment based on evidence obtained by torture of two co-defendants named Abu Hawsher and Al-Hamasher.  In those trials, Qatada was convicted of plots to bomb the American School and the Jerusalem hotel in Amman and to target American and Israeli tourists in Jordan.  He was also held to have provided finance and advice for plots that were never carried out.

The Siac judge, Mr. Justice Mitting, decided that it was likely that this evidence would be admitted in a retrial unless the Jordanians would prove otherwise.  This might be done by Jordan amending its criminal code, or by stating that the evidence was not obtained by torture, or that they would not introduce it.

In an earlier case in April 2008, the British Court of Appeal had ruled that deporting Qatada would breach his human rights.  This was overturned by the British High Court, five Law Lords, on February 18, 2009, who unanimously ruled that the British government could deport Qatada to Jordan to face terror charges.  Yet one day later, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg awarded him 2,800 euros for detention without trial in the U.K.  Justice Mitting's decision was based on a ruling by ECHR in January 2012.  This held that Qatada would face a "flagrant denial of justice" in Jordan.  He could not be deported if "there remains a risk that evidence obtained by torture will be used against him."

The legal argument rests on two articles in the European Convention on Human Rights passed in 1970.  Article 3 states that "[n]o one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."  Article 6 says regarding individuals facing criminal charges, "everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law."

Appeals from Siac can be brought only on a question of law relevant to the issue, in this case whether deportation of Qatada would lead to his torture in Jordan.  The case was appealed to a high court of three prestigious appeal court judges chaired by Lord Dyson, the master of the rolls, who unanimously dismissed the appeal.  A Spanish judge had once described Qatada as "Osama bin Laden's right hand man in Europe."  Though British authorities, both members of the present government and the Labour party opposition, recognize this as fair, the decision of the appeal court was based on a technical issue.  The appeal court could not rehear the evidence: it could only decide if Siac had got the law right, and in fact upheld Siac.

The appeals court remarked that "torture is universally abhorred as an evil."  It commented that states cannot expel persons if there is a real risk they will be faced with a trial in which evidence may have been obtained by torture.  Lord Dyson remarked that "the fact that Mr. Othman is considered to be a dangerous terrorist is not relevant to the issues that are raised on this appeal."

However much one supports the concept of the rule of law, it appears ludicrous that concern for human rights in general and the British Human Rights Act of 1998 in particular has now become the basis for protecting foreign terrorists from facing justice in the countries in which they have committed offenses.  How should democratic societies deal with "dangerous terrorists," especially those like Qatada who make use and are well-represented legally at a considerable cost of millions spent in the systems which they threaten?

Qatada, born in 1960 in Bethlehem, then under Jordanian rule, was admitted in Britain in 1993 on a forged passport of the United Arab Emirates, claimed asylum as one who had been tortured in Jordan, and was allowed to stay as a refugee.  Since then, he has spent some time in prison for violations of immigration rules and has suffered there from exposure to television, radio, newspapers, books, and computers; use of an exercise yard; and a small gym.

During his stay in central London, he has been a fiery Islamic preacher, issuing in 1995 a fatwa (religious edict) justifying the killing of converts from Islam and their families in Algeria, praising suicide bombings, advocating in 1999 the killing of Jews and praising attacks on Americans, and declaring that Islamic law should be imposed on Muslim lands.  He was suspected of having connections with a German terror cell.  In a raid on his house in London in 2001, police found £170,000 in cash, including money to go to the Islamic rebels in Chechnya.  He is known to have had some influence on Richard Reid, the would-be shoe bomber, and on Zacarias Moussaoui, the alleged mastermind of 9/11, as well as on several others among those involved in 9/11.  In spite of all this, Qatada, though arrested a number of times, has never been charged with an offense in the British courts.  Instead, he has obtained a considerable amount in benefits for himself and his family.

Surely, it is long overdue for all in democratic societies to concede that to grant benefits, legal and otherwise, to known terrorists guilty of crimes is to depart from the broad rule of wisdom learned from human experience.

Michael Curtis


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Muslim "Secret" Courageously Outed

by Douglas Murray

"As a community, we do have a 'Jewish problem.' There is no point pretending otherwise." — Mehdi Hasan, British Muslim journalist
How rife is anti-Semitism among Muslims? Well if you poll the so-called "Muslim world, " as Pew and other organizations have done, the answer is: very rife indeed. Take Pakistan for instance. In 2006 only 6% of the population had a "favorable" attitude towards Jews. In 2011 when that question was polled in Pakistan again, favorable attitudes towards Jews had gone down to just 2%.

Of course if you were to cite this figure, you would get an inevitable set of responses, such as claims that the figure was so worrying because "everyone knows" that Pakistan is a somewhat "challenging" country in that regard.

So take a nice moderate Arab country such as Jordan, for instance. After all, it has a peace treaty with Israel and everything.

Alas, the news is not much better. In 2006, just 1% of Jordanians polled had a positive attitude towards Jews. But there is some good news: when they were polled again in 2011, this number had soared to an amazing 2%. So if Pew could just hang in there for another couple of decades, Jordanian attitudes towards Jews might climb to the giddy heights of philo-Semitism enjoyed in Pakistan back in 2006.

Of course the problem of discussing this, or even mentioning it, is that even just citing the figures is likely to get you condemned for being "Islamophobic." It is the same with everything else in the area. If you mention that a startlingly small number of people think that Arabs, as opposed to Jews, carried out the 9/11 attacks, you will be thought of as at best somebody with startlingly bad manners. Go on to extrapolate the lessons one might draw from all this and you will be treated as some knuckle-dragging racist.

So how interesting it was this past week that a prominent British Muslim writer, for perhaps the first time – certainly in his own career – attempted to tackle this subject.

The British Muslim writer, Mehdi Hasan, described anti-Semitism among his Muslim peers in Britain. I use "peers" in both senses of the word: Hasan's piece was a candid response to the discovery, published here last week, that ex-Labour peer Lord Ahmed of Rotherham had been caught on Pakistan television blaming his imprisonment for his having, while driving and texting, run over and killed a man, on "the Jews."

Exposed on the front-page of the London Times, Ahmed's latest anti-Semitic slur was un-ignorable. Coming from someone who touts himself as "the first Muslim peer," it was undoubtedly a moment of clarity for many in Britain. In perhaps his only meaningful contribution to British public life, Lord Ahmed has revealed, at long-last, the anti-Semitic Muslim elephant in the room -- speaking metaphorically of course.

Hasan writes:
"There are thousands of Lord Ahmeds out there: mild-mannered and well-integrated British Muslims who nevertheless harbour deeply anti-Semitic views. It pains me to have to admit this but anti-Semitism isn't just tolerated in some sections of the British Muslim community; it's routine and commonplace. Any Muslims reading this article - if they are honest with themselves - will know instantly what I am referring to."
Quite a statement. "Any Muslims" reading his article will know what he is talking about.
He goes on to explain what a large number of the British Muslims with whom he speaks believe: that Princess Diana was murdered because she was going to have a Muslim baby, that 9/11 was not perpetrated by Muslims, and that the Holocaust of European Jews never happened.

This is a very striking confession. Hasan goes on to say that as he was growing up, he had always assumed that the "Jewish obsession" among British Muslims was a first-generation immigrant problem that would die out. But as he rightly points out, it has not died out. If anything, it has grown. As he says, "In recent years, I've been depressed to discover that there are plenty of 'second-generation' Muslim youths, born and bred in multiracial Britain, who have drunk the anti-Semitic Kool-Aid. I'm often attacked by them for working in the 'Jewish owned media.'"

Hasan adds that he long tried to resist writing a column about all this because he knows that, among other things, he will be accused by his peers of having become a "sell-out." He says that he feels as if all this is "dobbing-in" [telling on] the British Muslim community from which he comes. And he knows that his column "will also be held up by some of my fellow Muslims as 'proof' that 'Mehdi Hasan has sold out to the Jews.'" This response certainly came abundantly from other British Muslims online once his article was published: the publication proved its own point swiftly indeed.

But "The truth is that the virus of anti-Semitism has infected members of the British Muslim community, both young and old," he says. "We're not all anti-Semites," he adds. "But, as a community, we do have a 'Jewish problem'. There is no point pretending otherwise."

I should stress, incidentally, that the author of the important piece, Mehdi Hasan, is not a friend of mine. We have opposed one another over the years on multiple platforms. Several years ago I wrote about him here, in particular about a notorious video which came out showing him giving a sermon in a British mosque in which he referred to non-Muslims,as "cattle," among other endearments. I do not believe him to be a "moderate" or anything like an ally, but this is what makes his whistle-blowing piece even more striking: he should be congratulated for it.

Mehdi Hasan has blown the whistle on a "dirty little secret." It is high time that people from the community about which he writes wake up to what he has said and not try to deflect attention from it or aim it elsewhere.

It is also high time that non-Muslims realize that this view is not a bluff or any kind of exaggeration. What he has described is a problem. The polls and figures have long shown it. Now somebody from inside the community has blown the whistle. If this problem is not addressed, and if the attempt to tackle it from any and all directions continues to be silenced – by calls of being either "racist" or a "sell-out" -- then it is a problem that in the years ahead will only continue to grow.

Douglas Murray


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Bahrain Labels Hizballah Terrorists, EU Dawdles

by IPT News

As we noted earlier this week, Hizballah's alliance with dictator Bashar al-Assad in Syria's bloody civil war has left the Shia organization politically weakened.

Investigations also have found Hizballah responsible for a terrorist bombing in Bulgaria last year and for sending an operative to Cyprus to scout targets for attacks on Israeli tourists. But that has yet to be enough for the European Union (EU) to designate Hizballah a terrorist group.

The parliament in a Persian Gulf state, Bahrain, voted this week to do what the EU won't. The terrorist designation is believed to be driven by sectarian factors – Bahrain's ruling class is Sunni, but its population is mostly Shia, the Times of Israel reports. Bahraini officials blame Hizballah for stoking anti-government protests since the Arab Spring began. But they also blame Hizballah for bombings last fall in the capital Manama that killed two people.

President Obama called on the EU to designate Hizballah a terrorist group during last week's trip to Israel. He cited the Bulgaria bombing, saying Israelis were targeted "because of where they came from; robbed of the ability to live and love and raise families. That's why every country that values justice should call Hezbollah what it truly is: a terrorist organization."

Hizballah replied by saying Obama "speaks like an employee of the Zionist entity [Israel]."
A Bulgarian investigation found Hizballah responsible for last July's a bombing attack that killed five Israelis and the Bulgarian bus driver. Interim Bulgarian Prime Minister Marin Raykov said he won't push the EU to designate Hizballah, but will release more information about the investigation.

"For Bulgaria it is of key importance to have a common position, to have a consensus on this [within the EU]," Raykov said. "We will continue the investigation … We will provide the needed evidence."

Some EU countries indicated that they aren't persuaded to act against Hizballah by existing Bulgarian information. Others have expressed concern that designating Hizballah would increase tension in the Middle East.

Under that standard, no evidence would prove sufficient. Coddling Hizballah has only allowed it to stockpile tens of thousands of missiles capable of striking the heart of Israel. Its forces are fighting in Syria and training forces to buck up a ruthless dictator. That, in turn, is stoking sectarian tension in Lebanon.

And its operatives continue to plot terror in Europe and elsewhere. Investigations tie Hizballah to plots and attacks on Israeli diplomatic officials in Asia and Europe starting in 2011.In addition to the Bulgarian investigation, a court in Cyprus last week convicted a Hizballah operative guilty on five charges relating to his work scouting travel patterns of Israeli tourists.

Hizballah paid Hossam Taleb Yaccoub for six missions in Cyprus between 2011 and his arrest last summer, just days before the Bulgarian attack. His mission echoed aspects of the Bulgarian bombing, including tracking Israeli flight schedules, identifying tour buses which carry Israelis and more.

This is not enough for the EU to act. It would be difficult to imagine writing this under other circumstances, but if only the Europeans could be as clear-eyed about terrorists as Bahrain.

IPT News


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