Saturday, April 6, 2013

Defying Demographic Projections

by Yoram Ettinger

On March 21, U.S. President Barack Obama stated at the International Convention Center that "given the demographics west of the Jordan River, the only way for Israel to endure and thrive as a Jewish and democratic state is through the realization of an independent and viable Palestine."

Obama has been misinformed by his advisers. The suggestion that Israel should concede Jewish geography to secure Jewish demography ignores demographic trends in Israel, in the Muslim world in general and west of the Jordan River in particular. These trends reaffirm that time is working in favor of Israel's Jewish demography.

Currently, in sharp contrast with the demographic establishment's projections, there is a 66 percent Jewish majority (6.3 million Jews) in the combined area of pre-1967 Israel (1.65 million Arabs) and Judea and Samaria (1.66 million Arabs), compared with a 40% Jewish minority in 1948 and a 9% Jewish minority in 1900. The Jewish majority enjoys a robust tailwind of high fertility rates and immigration, which could produce an 80% Jewish majority by 2035.

These 6.3 million Jews (including 350,000 new immigrants not yet recognized as Jews by the rabbinate) expose the systematic errors made by leading demographers. In 1898, the leading Jewish demographer/historian, Simon Dubnov, projected a meager 500,000 Jews in the Land of Israel by the year 2000. In 1944, the founder of Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics and the guru of contemporary Israeli demographers and statisticians, Professor Roberto Bacchi, projected only 2.3 million Jews in Israel by 2001, a 34% minority. In 1987, Hebrew University demographer Professor Sergio Della Pergola told Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth that no substantial aliyah (immigration to Israel) was expected from the USSR, but a million Soviet immigrants then arrived. 

In a September 2006 article, Professor Arnon Sofer projected that by 2011 there would be 4.5 million Arabs in Judea and Samaria, almost double the actual number issued in 2011 by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics — 2.6 million. And, in fact, the Palestinian number was severely inflated: It included 400,000 overseas residents and a double count of 300,000 Jerusalem Arabs, who are counted both as Israeli Arabs and as West Bank residents.

In defiance of demographic projections, Israel's Jewish fertility rate of three births per woman is higher than any Arab country's other than Yemen, Iraq and Jordan. The modernity-driven downward trend of Muslim demography is highlighted by Iran's fertility rate of 1.8 births per woman, Saudi Arabia's 2.3 and Syria's and Egypt's 2.9. The Westernization of the Muslim fertility rate was triggered by the unprecedented expansion of education among women, urbanization and family planning. The surge of Israel's Jewish fertility rate was triggered by high levels of optimism, patriotism, collective responsibility, the stable economy and attachment to roots.

In contrast with conventional wisdom, Israel's Jewish-Arab fertility gap has been reduced from six births in 1969 to half a birth in 2012. Moreover, the fertility rates of Jewish and Arab women in their 20s and 30s — in Judea, Samaria and pre-1967 Israel — has converged at three births per woman, with the Jewish rate trending above — and the Arab rate trending below — three births. Furthermore, the fertility rate of Israeli-born Jewish women is already above three births per woman.

In defiance of the demographic profession, the annual number of Israel's Jewish births has surged by 62.5% from 80,400 in 1995 to 130,000 in 2012, while the annual number of Israeli Arab births has been sustained at around 40,000 annually. In 1995, there were 2.3 Jewish births for one Arab birth; in 2012 there were 3.2 Jewish births for one Arab birth. 

In 1995 Jewish births amounted to 69% of total births and in 2012 to 77% of total births. In 2013, the Jerusalem Jewish fertility rate is currently 4.2 births, compared with the 3.9 Arab fertility rate.

Contrary to political correctness, Israel's Jewish fertility rate is surging at a time when the fertility rate of the ultra-Orthodox sector is in decline, due to its growing integration into the employment market and military service. The surge in fertility is produced by Israel's secular Jews, and mostly by the yuppies around Tel Aviv and the immigrants from the former USSR.

"The stronger the Jewish commitment, the more likely Jews are to have children. Living in the Land of Israel is one of the strongest manifestations of Jewish commitment ... As unique as the Jews are among the world's people, their fertility in Israel is also unique among the nations, and cause for optimism about the future of the Jewish people," David Goldman, author of "How Civilizations Die," wrote (in Focus, Spring 2013, the Jewish Policy Center).

Anyone suggesting that Jews are doomed to become a minority west of the Jordan River is either dramatically mistaken or outrageously misleading. 

Yoram Ettinger


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Khamenei’s Ever-Changing Nuclear Fatwa

by Michael Rubin

Much ink has been spilled over the alleged nuclear fatwa which Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has issued forbidding the use of nuclear weapons. If the Deputy of the Messiah on Earth says trust me, many American and European officials appear to believe, it must be so. After all, what could be more a sign of one’s own multiculturalism and sophistication than giving credence to such a declaration? Over at Al-Monitor, a publication whose editor Andrew Parasiliti was once a staffer for current Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, an Iranian author gives great credence to the fatwa:
The fatwa against nuclear weapons is not a contingent upon time and circumstances. It is based on the principle that killing innocent people is religiously forbidden…. The fatwa is an Iranian initiative and it is much easier for the United States and EU to respect the fatwa and ask Iran to accept more commitments and transparency as far as its nuclear program is concerned.
The piece is valuable for presenting an official Iranian line, even if Parasiliti’s team for whatever reason identifies the Institute for Political and International Studies simply as a think-tank when it is actually the Foreign Ministry’s academic wing.

Here at COMMENTARY, Emanuele Ottolenghi, a fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, addressed the faultiness of the fatwa last year. The key take-away is that while Ali Khamenei—like many Shi’ite religious figures—maintains a website that lists all of his fatwas, the nuclear fatwa is not among them. How convenient.

Over at “Arms Control and Regional Security for the Middle East,” Ariane Tabatabai has gone further and has shown how when Iranian officials cite the alleged fatwa, they constantly change its meaning and contents:

According to the Iranian 2005 Communication to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the wording of the fatwa was as follows: ‘the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons are forbidden under Islam.’ Yet, in Ayatollah Ali Khamenei message, which was read at the opening of the International Conference on Nuclear Disarmament and Nonproliferation in 2010, the Supreme Leader’s explicit prohibition has merely encompassed the ‘use’ of these weapons. Recent statements, by the Ayatollah himself, merely highlight a ban of the use, with philosophical and ethical discussion about the production and stockpiling of these weapons, rather than a concrete prohibition. The possession is not mentioned in his statements, leaving a grey area in what is the key issue in Iran’s nuclear debate.

Word from Almaty, where the United States is once again engaged in a “process” with Iran, is that the negotiations are not going well. That is no surprise. The Iranians have made clear that they chose Kazakhstan as the locale to honor Almaty for refusing to abide by many sanctions. Let us hope that the Obama administration will cease the nonsense of paying any heed to the fatwa and demand real signs of Iranian sincerity. These should be measured only in terms of Iranian adherence to its Nuclear Non-Proliferation Safeguards Agreement, and subsequent IAEA and UN Security Council Resolutions. Anything else is merely a distraction.

Michael Rubin


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Resistance Movement Growing to Islamization of France

by JanSuzanne Krasner

Europe as a continent made up of multicultural nations is at the precipice of obliteration. This may sound melodramatic, but it is exactly what the members of a new French political youth movement called "Generation Identitaire" fear and they are willing to stand up and unite across Europe to stop it.

France was introduced to this group on October 20th, 2012 when about 100+ members made their way to the roof of a mosque in Poitiers, France and hung a huge banner in view of the Minaret that clearly read: "Immigration, building of mosques REFERENDUM!" along with the number "732."

The meaning was clear to the French. Poitiers was the place that on October 25, 732, a Muslim invasion was defeated by Charles Martel which stopped Arab expansion into Western Europe. This demonstration was a symbolic statement by 'Generation Identitaire' who are declaring a war on immigration and committing themselves to be the front lines in the peaceful protection of their national identity and their families.  Video of the Poitiers demonstration below:

Europe is becoming a place where the national identity of many nations is being challenged by the growing influence of Muslim immigration and political correctness. This is undoubtedly happening in France with a population of 6-11 million Muslims and it is leading the way to French extinction.

On Sunday, March 24, a protest took place with hundreds of thousands of young French men, members of several organizations who share the same concerns, including Generation Identitaire. This event was an appeal for all generations of Europeans to produce "identity activists" who will be in the forefront defending the family and families, a protest that the participants hope was reminiscent of the famous French Protests in May 1968. 2

The establishment of this new movement can be attributed to the downfall of the French economy with 25% youth unemployment; Frances' unsustainable benefits to its massive immigration; the street intimidation by Muslim gangs; and the French identity being threatened by a "Global Village" approach.

The essence of their demands is the end of non-European immigration and the construction of any new mosques on French soil. They claim that the mass immigration that began in the '70's has radically transformed their country with 43% of 18-50 year olds in the area of Paris being immigrants. They believe that "A people can lift itself out of economic crisis or a war, but not out of the replacement of its population. Without the French, France no longer exists."

What is also significant is that in just six months since its inception in September 2012, the followers of their Facebook page  grown to eclipse the Movement of Young Socialists, which has been the primary men's youth movement in France in recent years. In light of the competition's success, Socialist MEP's are spinning propaganda, calling the Generation Identitaire just a bunch of "thugs." But the truth is that there wasn't a single window broken, a car burned or a shop destroyed, much more than you can say about other street riots by Muslim youth.

An exclusive interview with the group's spokesman Julien Langella, a 20 year old from Toulon Provence, was obtained by Dispatch International, a new alternative international on-line and print newspaper that is not controlled by politically correct moguls and "provides a forum for discussions on the dangerous consequences of multiculturalism."

"Our main message is that our identity is threatened by massive immigration which has been given free rein over the last 40 years in France; that the multi-cultural society has turned into a multi-racist one; and that Islamization is a threat to our continent. Our goal is to make every single person aware that identity is the most valuable asset of a people: One can recover from a natural disaster, from economic crisis or war, but a country cannot recover from the elimination and death of its own people. There is no common purpose or goal apart from a strong and highly valued identity; there is no peace in civil society without cultural homogeneity; there are no social bonds without a community around a single identity. The 1900's were the century of ideologies, the 2000's will be the century of identities."

Langella also noted that there will be more non-violent actions like the event in Poitiers. 

"The only way to exist in the French media, where political correctness and lying are always present in the press, is to conduct punchy actions speaking to public opinion and to power. I cannot say anything more about our future projects, but one thing is certain: You have not heard the last of us. If the young all over Europe follow our example and rise up, nobody can predict today what will happen tomorrow. Everywhere the multicultural society is a pot about to boil over. This means that we have to take up the fight. Under these circumstances there are only two choices: Flee or hold your ground."

According to Langella, contacts have been made all over Europe, including Germany, Austria and Italy with young people of all possible backgrounds joining the movement, "their only common denominator is the will to fight." 

Their video released on March 28, has created a backlash of responses with many authorities attempting to ban it. Is a manifesto of young French men and women explaining why they feel victimized and fooled by the "1968 generation" and are the ones whose lives are in danger.

We are Generation Identitaire.
We are the generation who get killed for glancing at the wrong person,
for refusing someone a cigarette, or having an "attitude" that annoys someone.
We are the generation of ethnic fracture, total failure of coexistence, and forced mixing of the races.
We are the generation doubly punished: Condemned to pay into a social system so generous with strangers it becomes unsustainable for our own people.
Our generation are the victims of the May '68'ers who wanted to liberate themselves from tradition, from knowledge and authority in education.
But they only accomplished to liberate themselves from their responsibilities.
We reject your history books to re-gather our memories.
We no longer believe that "Khader" could ever be our brother.
We have stopped believing in a "Global Village" and the "Family of Man".
We discovered that we have roots, ancestry and therefore a future.
Our heritage is our land, our blood, our identity. We are the heirs to our own future.
We turned off the TV to march the streets.
We painted our slogans on the walls. Cried through loudspeakers for "youth in power" and flew our Lambda flags high.
The Lambda, painted on proud Spartans' shields, is our symbol.
Don't you understand what this means? We will not back down, we will not give in.
We are sick and tired of your cowardice.
You are from the years of post-war prosperity, retirement benefits, S.O.S Racism and "diversity", sexual liberation and a bag of rice from Bernard Kouchner.
We are 25 percent unemployment, social debt, multicultural collapse and an explosion of anti-white racism.
We are broken families, and young French soldiers dying in Afghanistan.
You won't buy us with a condescending look, a state-paid job of misery and a pat on the shoulder.
We don't need your youth-policies. Youth IS our policy.
Don't think this is simply a manifesto. It is a declaration of war.
You are of yesterday, we are of tomorrow.
We are Generation Identitaire.

JanSuzanne Krasner


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

CAIR Bullies AP into Changing the Definition of 'Islamist'

by Rick Moran

Pretty soon the AP stylebook is going to be twice as long in order to explain all these formerly "perjorative" words like "illegal immigrant" and now "Islamist."

USA Today:

Following on the heels of the Tuesday decision by The Associated Press to discontinue use of the term "illegal immigrant," the news agency on Thursday revised its stylebook entry for another politically charged term.
The term "Islamist," the AP clarified in a Thursday afternoon alert to online stylebook subscribers, should not be used as "a synonym for Islamic fighters, militants, extremists or radicals."

"Islamist" is frequently used as a label for conservative Islamic political movements, particularly Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, the group's Palestinian offshoot. It generally carries a negative connotation.
The AP first added the term to its stylebook in 2012. The definition initially read:
Supporter of government in accord with the laws of Islam. Those who view the Quran as a political model encompass a wide range of Muslims, from mainstream politicians to militants known as jihadi.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, an American advocacy group sometimes labeled "Islamist" by critics, previously lobbied for the AP to drop the term. In a January op-ed CAIR's communications director, Ibrahim Hooper, wrote the term "has become shorthand for 'Muslims we don't like'" and "is currently used in an almost exclusively pejorative context."
As of Thursday's update, the AP definition reads:
An advocate or supporter of a political movement that favors reordering government and society in accordance with laws prescribed by Islam. Do not use as a synonym for Islamic fighters, militants, extremists or radicals, who may or may not be Islamists.
Where possible, be specific and use the name of militant affiliations: al-Qaida-linked, Hezbollah, Taliban, etc. Those who view the Quran as a political model encompass a wide range of Muslims, from mainstream politicians to militants known as jihadi.
CAIR praised the AP's update. "We believe this revision is a step in the right direction and will result in fewer negative generalizations in coverage of issues related to Islam and Muslims," Hooper said. "The key issue with the term 'Islamist' is not its continued use; the issue is its use almost exclusively as an ill-defined pejorative."

What else are" Islamic fighters, militants, extremists or radicals" but Islamists? Does AP think they are "mainstream Muslims?" 

This whole thing could be solved by simply calling "Islamists" terrorists. Oh...wait. The AP dropped the word "terrorist" several years ago. 

Twisting our language and culture into knots in order to avoid offending Muslims does little to advance understanding, and much to muddy the waters. But then, that's what CAIR is after. Eventually, terrorists will be known as freedom fights" and we'll be forced to change the definition of the word "democracy" to include government's  like the Muslim Brotherhood's Egypt.

Rick Moran


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Europe: Mosque Building Shifts into High Gear

by Soeren Kern

"In Spain there are signs that Islam will dominate once again." — Hizrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Spiritual Leader, Ahmadiyya Community, Spain

From Belgium to Greece and Spain to Germany, 2013 is shaping up to be another banner year for the construction of mosques in Europe.

In Belgium, work is about to begin on the construction of a mega-mosque in Liège, the third-largest city in the country. The largest mosque in Wallonia (the French-speaking region of Belgium) will be built on an 11,000 m² (118,000 ft²) plot and will consist of a main building with a capacity for 1,000 worshippers, a library, a cafeteria and several shops.

Plans to build two 30 m (98 ft) minarets were scrapped after opposition from local residents. The new plan involves one 18 m (60 ft) minaret which will be automatically illuminated during calls to prayer.

The mayor of Liège, Willy Demeyer (PS), banned a protest march against the mosque that was to have been held on March 30. "My role is to avoid excesses and problems of public order," he said.

In Germany, Muslims in the northern city of Hamburg are converting the former Kapernaumkirche (Capernaum Church), a cultural heritage site, into a mosque.

In the southern German city of Munich, local politicians are debating where to build a massive mosque complex known as the Center for Islam in Europe-Munich (ZIE-M). The 6,000 m² (65,000 ft²) mega-project, which will cost an estimated €40 million ($51 million), is designed to be a key strategic platform for spreading Islam throughout Europe.

Speculation is rife that the Persian Gulf Emirate of Qatar will pay for the project, although the Qatari Ambassador to Germany recently told the newspaper Münchner Merkur that no final decision has been made.

The citizen's movement Die Freiheit Bayern (Freedom Bavaria) organized a demonstration against the project in downtown Munich on March 24, but only 120 people bothered to show up.

In Greece, which is effectively bankrupt, the government has pledged to spend €1.1 million ($1.4 million) to build an official mosque in Athens for the city's expanding Muslim population.

The mosque, which will be built on the former naval base in Votanikos, will be able to hold around 500 worshippers as well as hundreds more in an outdoor area.

The Greek government agreed in September 2011 to pay for the mosque after an offer from the Turkish government to pay for it was rejected by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, and opposed by the Muslim community in Greece, which insisted that the Greek state pay for it.

Samaras says he wants to establish a mosque in Athens -- the only capital in European Union that lacks a state-backed place for Muslim worship -- in a bid to boost Greece's diplomatic hand vis-à-vis Turkey.

An estimated 120 sites are illegally operating as mosques in Athens. These makeshift spaces serve an estimated 200,000 Muslims living in the city, many of whom are illegal immigrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Nigeria and Pakistan.

In Thessaloniki, the 111-year-old New Mosque (which was once a museum and is now used as an exhibition hall) welcomed Muslim worshippers for the first time in 90 years on March 30. On the initiative of the city's mayor, Yiannis Boutaris, the mosque opened its doors to 50 Muslims from Komotini, a city in Thrace, a region of northeastern Greece.

Komotini is home to a sizeable Muslim minority, which constitutes 45% of the city's population. Turkey's ambassador to Greece, Kerim Uras, said he expects Islam to have a higher profile in Greece in the future. He said the move to open the mosque was "a positive step in the right direction. We're expecting the rest to come. I hope Athens will also be a place where Muslims can pray."

In Ireland, city planners in Dublin have given the go-ahead for the construction of a sprawling mega-mosque complex that will cater to Ireland's growing Muslim population. The massive €40 million ($50 million) "Islamic Cultural Center" will be built on a six-acre site in Clongriffin, a new and as yet unfinished suburb at the northern edge of Dublin. It will compete with another mosque complex in the southern suburb of Clonskeagh that also goes by the name "Islamic Cultural Center," a sprawling four-acre campus, financed by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the deputy ruler of Dubai.

Rumors have it that the new mega-mosque at Clongriffin will be financed by Qatar, which recently donated €800,000 ($1 million) to build a mega-mosque in Cork, the second-most populous city in Ireland.

In Luxembourg, a Muslim group called Le Juste Milieu (LJM) is engaged in a fund-raising drive to collect €1.8 million ($2.3 million) to purchase the ground floor of a building that currently houses a makeshift mosque in downtown Luxembourg City. The building is mostly residential; local residents are opposed to the mosque.

The purchase is generating controversy because of concerns over how LJM will raise the cash it needs. In August 2012, the German-language newspaper Tageblatt reported that the Qatar was paying €2.2 million ($2.8 million) to establish a mosque and madrassah [Islamic religious school] that would cater to the 10,000 Muslims who have settled in Luxembourg.

In Scotland, St. John's Episcopal Church in Aberdeen has become the first church in the United Kingdom to share its premises with Muslim worshippers. The church now welcomes hundreds of Muslims praying five times a day in their building because the nearby mosque was so small that worshippers were forced to pray outside.

According to the rector of St. John's, Isaac Poobalan, "Praying is never wrong. My job is to encourage people to pray. The mosque was so full at times, there would be people outside in the wind and rain praying. I knew I couldn't just let this happen, because I would be abandoning what the Bible teaches us about how we should treat our neighbors."

The bishop of Aberdeen, Robert Gillies, says that by handing over sections of the church to the mosque, the church has accomplished "something of global significance on a local scale."
In Spain, Muslims inaugurated a new mosque on March 21 in the northern Basque town of Portugalete. The mosque has been resoundingly opposed by local residents, but city officials approved the building permit in order to "promote the integration of Muslims into the local community."

A recent study commissioned by the Basque government found that one in four Basques reject the idea of having a mosque in their neighborhood, and one in five do not want a Muslim as a neighbor.

The Basque Country is home to more than 50,000 Muslims, 70 Muslim groups, two dozen officially licensed mosques and hundreds of unofficial Islamic prayer rooms and cultural centers. Muslims in the Basque region, who hail mostly from Algeria, Morocco, Pakistan and sub-Saharan Africa, have become increasingly assertive in recent years.

Residents of the Basque city of Bilbao are finding their mailboxes stuffed with flyers in Spanish and Arabic from the Islamic Community of Bilbao asking for money to build a 650 m² (7,000 ft²) mosque costing €550,000 ($735,000).

Until recently, the Islamic Community of Bilbao had the following statement posted on its website: "We were expelled [from Spain] in 1609, really not that long ago. … The echo of Al-Andalus still resonates in all the valley of the Ebro [Spain]. We are back to stay, Insha'Allah [if Allah wills it]." (Al-Andalus was the Arabic name given to the parts of Spain ruled by Muslim conquerors from 711 until 1492.)

In Valencia, the third-largest city in Spain, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community inaugurated a new mosque on March 29 -- which also happened to be Good Friday, the day when Christians commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary.

The 1,500 m² (16,000 ft²) Baitur-Rahman Mosque, with a capacity for 600 worshippers, adds to the 172 mosques already located in the Valencia region.

The mosque was inaugurated by Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the spiritual leader of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, whose sermon was broadcast in several languages to tens of millions of viewers with the help of eight satellites.

Ahmad told his followers that Valencia had been chosen to host the mosque because that is where the expulsion of the Moriscos (descendants of the Muslim population that converted to Christianity under threat of exile from King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in 1502) began in 1609.

Ahmad added: "In Spain there are a million Muslims and we believe that in twenty years this number will double. In Spain there are signs that Islam will dominate once again." He also said the mission of the new mosque would be to "spread the teachings of Islam to every single citizen of Spain."

In the Catalan municipality of Salt, a town near Barcelona where Muslim immigrants now make up 40% of the population, work has begun on the construction of a two-story Salafi mega-mosque -- built by two Spain-based Salafist groups, Al Hilal Islamic Cultural Association and Magrebins per la Pau Association, with funding from Saudi Arabia -- with a capacity for 750 worshippers.

Salafism, a branch of radical Islam based in Saudi Arabia, seeks to establish an Islamic empire (Caliphate) across the Middle East, North Africa and Europe, and eventually the world. The Caliphate would be governed exclusively by Islamic Sharia law, to be applied both to Muslims and non-Muslims.

Salt approved a one-year ban on the construction of new mosques in August 2011 to provide "some time for reflection" after it emerged that the previous Socialist government in the town secretly gave permission to the Salafi Muslims to build the mega-mosque.

The deal to build the mega-mosque was discovered only after the Socialists were ejected from power in May 2011. Public outrage prompted the new town council -- now ruled by the center-right Convergència i Unió (CiU) party -- to prevent the mosque from being built.

Construction of the Salafi mosque is proceeding, nonetheless: apparently the construction permit was issued before the non-retroactive moratorium took effect.

In nearby Lérida, where 30,000 Muslims make up more than 20% of the city's population, mosque builders are facing a problem of a different kind: on March 4, 2013, the Catalan Supreme Court ruled that a local Muslim group would not be allowed to build a mega-mosque in an industrial park, called El Segre, because a municipal ordinance states that the area may only be used for industrial purposes; as such, the premises were deemed unfit for public assembly.

Two days after that ruling, another judge at a different court ordered city officials in Lérida to approve the construction of an 800 m² (8,600 ft²) brothel in the same industrial park, two streets away from where Muslims had wanted to build their mosque.

City officials said they had originally denied the license to build the brothel because of a lack of parking space, but the judge disagreed, saying the denial "has more to do with the subject of the proposed business (a brothel) than with a concern over parking."

An article in the Catalan newspaper La Vanguardia entitled, "Brothel Yes, Mosque No" reports that the Lérida City Council "does not hide its surprise at these two opposing points of view from the judiciary on the use that can be given to the plots in the same industrial park." City officials say they will appeal the ruling.

In Switzerland, a Muslim group called Club Paradise is converting a bowling alley into a mosque. The future imam of the new mosque, Fehim Dragusha, originally from Kosovo, made local headlines in late 2011 when he called on Muslim parents to beat their children if they refuse to pray. Dragusha says he was misunderstood because of his poor German language skills. He now says he favors a "modern Islam."

In other mosque-related news, the Danish toymaker Lego has tried to defend its controversial decision to remove its Jabba's Palace toy set -- based on a scene from Star Wars Episode VI -- from store shelves.

In January 2013, the Turkish Cultural Community of Austria (TCA) complained that "Jabba's Palace" resembled the Hagia Sophia mosque, originally a Christian church, in Istanbul, formerly the Christian city of Constantinople; and that the accompanying figures depicted "racial prejudice and vulgar insinuations" against Muslims as people with "deceitful and criminal personalities."

Initially, Lego refused to back down, insisting that the product was merely a faithful reproduction of the images in the Star Wars movie. But after a meeting in Munich on March 29 between Turkish community leaders and Lego executives, Lego agreed to end its production of the toy from 2014 onwards.

Lego says its decision had nothing to do with pressure from Muslims and everything to do with the natural lifecycle of the product. But the Turks do not see it that way. The jubilant president of the TCA, Birol Killic, said in a statement: "We are very grateful and congratulate Lego on the decision to take Jabba's Palace out of production." He added: "Lego managers have also promised that the chief toy maker will be sensitized on this [multicultural] issue."

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

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Burning Down the Palestinian House

by Shoshana Bryen

The tightrope [Palestinian President Mahmoud] Abbas walks, between Palestinians already unhappy with him for social, political and economic reasons and those who will be more unhappy if he agrees to Israel's basic requirements for "end of conflict, end of claims," is one largely one of his own making.
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas has agreed to "suspend unilateral action" against Israel for some indefinite period of time. It is, his spokesman says, to "give a sufficient chance for [US Secretary of State John] Kerry's efforts to succeed." By this, Abbas apparently means he will not make any additional unilateral efforts in the UN or try to convince the International Criminal Court to take up action against Israel.

This is the functional equivalent of agreeing not to swing the wrecking ball after you've set the house on fire.

Last summer, Nathan Thrall of the International Crisis Group predicted - and justified - the emergence of a "third intifada" in the New York Times, blaming Israel for not reaching a deal with Abbas. It was odd timing because by summer 2012, Abbas had his hands full with angry Palestinians protesting just about everything except Israel. A wave of public discontent through the fall and into 2013 has been focused on police brutality, the cost of living, government-imposed austerity measures, and Abbas himself. Salam Fayyed, the unelected prime minister and a U.S. ally, was the focus of unhappiness over limited economic prospects. Pro-Abbas gangs have assaulted protesters, and journalists have been arrested and beaten. Palestinian officials even cracked down on Western activists supporting the protesters. "The involvement of Western nationals in protests against the Palestinian Authority is completely unacceptable," one official said. "We will be forced to cut off all ties with non-Palestinians who incite against the Palestinian leadership."

At some point, it was necessary for Abbas to turn that public anger away from his own shortcomings and toward Israel. After scaling back security cooperation with the IDF, in December, the PA authorized Friday post-mosque pro-Hamas rallies near IDF checkpoints in the West Bank. The rallies predictably turned into skirmishes. Tension between the IDF, Israel border police, and Palestinians has continued to escalate; Palestinians have been injured and Palestinian rock throwers left an Israeli infant in critical condition.

Back in January, the biggest fight was among Palestinian factions in the Balata refugee camp on the West Bank. According to The Times of Israel, "The PA security forces arrived… in the early morning to arrest [two men], leaders in Fatah's al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigades, who were caught on camera by Israel's Channel 2 TV station on Thursday parading their weapons around the camp and firing into the air. They were protesting ill treatment by the PA." The arrest failed when camp residents burned tires to block the entrance. Around the same time, shots were fired at the Jenin governor – whose predecessor died of a heart attack after shots were fired at his home. There were protests in Ramallah over the PA's failure to pay salaries and over a PA decision not to collect money owed by refugee camp residents to the electric company (non-refugees wanted the payment amnesty, too).

So Abbas has been pouring anti-Israel gasoline on the passions to try to preserve his rule.
  • Without specifically calling for suicide bombers (futile, since the security fence makes it almost impossible for them to reach their targets) Fatah honored a 2002 suicide bomber on its Facebook page. "The name of Wafa Idris is still a lesson that terrifies the Jews." "At least 2,000 Palestinians participated in the symbolic funeral (this month) marched for Wafa Idris behind an empty wooden coffin… draped in the Palestinian flag." They "called 'Wafa is a hero' while armed men fired in the air to salute Wafa."
  • In late March, Fatah honored Um Nadal, mother of three sons: one invented the Qassam rocket (he was killed when one went off prematurely), one was a suicide bomber and one was killed with Hamas. Um Nadal told Palestinian TV that the day her son went to a school in Jerusalem and killed five students was "the best day of my life. I feel that our Lord is pleased with me, because I am offering something [my son] for Him. I wish to sacrifice more [sons] for Allah's forgiveness, and for the flag [of Islam]."
  • Ahlam al Tamimi, one of the organizers of the Sbarro Pizzaria bombing in Jerusalem, gave an interview widely disseminated in the PA territories. "You know how many casualties there were? This was made possible by Allah. Do you want me to denounce what I did? That's out of the question. I would do it again today, and in the same manner." The casualties included 15 killed and over 130 wounded, including eight children, six members of a single family, a pregnant woman and another woman who was left in a permanent coma.
The fact that all of these were women was a not-so-subtle challenge to the Palestinian male psyche.

Abbas got the conflagration he sought. The death of Maysara Abu Hamdiya – complete with a phony picture purporting to show his arm handcuffed to a hospital bed, and lies about his lack of treatment for cancer – precipitated angry demonstrations in the West Bank, and two young men throwing firebombs at an Israeli police post have been killed. The riots and demonstrations will likely escalate, and an Israeli response is assured. Whether Abbas can stage-manage the demonstrations is less assured.

The tightrope Abbas walks, between Palestinians already unhappy with him for social, political and economic reasons, and those who will be more unhappy if he agrees to Israel's basic requirements for "end of conflict, end of claims," is one largely of his own making. The chances of success for the Kerry mission are dim – it will be remarkable if he can escape without having the Palestinian house collapse around him.

Shoshana Bryen is Senior Director of The Jewish Policy Center.

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The Art of Turning Neighbors into Enemies

by Amir Taheri

By all accounts Azerbaijan should be Iran’s closest ally.

The tiny republic on the Caspian Sea is home to nine million people with strong ethnic, historic, and religious ties to the Iranian people. Almost 80 percent speak Azeri, an Altaic language with a vocabulary drawn from Turkish, Persian, and Arabic. Around 12 million people in five Iranian provinces speak a version of the language. 

Azerbaijan also contains Kurdish, Gushtasbi-Talysh, Tat, and Lezgin minorities; ethnic groups with kith and kin in Iran (ethnic and linguistic minorities account for 22 percent of Azerbaijan’s population).

Known as Aran, Shiravan and Nakhjivan, the areas that actually form Azerbaijan were part of the Iranian heartland for more than 25 centuries. Iran lost them in two disastrous wars with Tsarist Russia which was pursuing its dream of reaching warm waters through Iran. With treaties imposed on the Qajar Shahs in 1824 and 1830 Iran ceded the areas to the Tsars. 

When the Tsarist Empire collapsed following the 1917-1918 Russian Revolution, these areas came together to form an independent state. The experiment lasted two years before Lenin sent an army of to reassert Russian domination. Next, Josef Stalin, acting as Commissar for Nationalities, transformed the territories into a new unit named Azerbaijan, establishing it as an autonomous republic within the USSR. The fall of the Soviet Empire in 1991 gave the people of Azerbaijan a chance to regain their independence.

Due to these events, large numbers fled from the affected territories, seeking refuge in Iran. Today there are millions of Iranians whose ancestors fled the Tsarists and the Bolsheviks. The flow of refugees to Iran from Azerbaijan continued for decades, albeit with varying intensity. In the 1990s as Armenia invaded and annexed Nagorno-Karabakh, half a million people fled from Azerbaijan to Iran.

With Shi’ite Muslims representing some 85 percent of the population, Azerbaijan also shares strong religious ties with Iran. Linguistically, the Kurdish, Tat, and Gushtasbi-Talysh minorities belong to the family of Iranic languages. (Iran’s Zoroastrian “holy” book Avesta was originally written in the Gushtasbi-Talysh language.)

Thus, relations between Azerbaijan and Iran should be at least correct if not cordial. And, yet, the opposite is the case.

Last week, Iran recalled its ambassador from Baku, capital of Azerbaijan, and closed border passages.

The move came after Azerbaijan arrested 41 people on charges of espionage for Iran. Azerbaijani journalist Anar Bayramli, who worked for Iranian media, was also arrested. 

As the drama unfolded, two Azerbaijani writers Farid Hussein and Shahriar Haji-Zadeh disappeared in Iran, presumably seized as hostages.

Last week, Tehran’s anger rose when Baku hosted a conference on “The Future of Southern Azerbaijan”. This was a gathering of militants, mostly US citizens of Iranian origin, who regard all the various peoples who speak versions of the Azeri language as Turks. It is not quite clear what they mean by “South Azerbaijan”. But one must assume that they want Azerbaijan to merge with the five Iranian provinces where Azeri is widely spoken to form a single new nation of 22 million people. 

Tehran sees the move as a plot hatched by the United States, Israel, and Turkey against Iran’s territorial integrity.

However, the “unification” plan would mean the disappearance of the Republic of Azerbaijan in its present shape. In a “greater” Azerbaijan the people of the republic would become a minority.

Not surprisingly, on Wednesday the daily Kayhan, reflecting the views of “Supreme Guide” Ali Khamenei called for the “return” of Azerbaijan to Iran. It suggested that a referendum be held under international auspices on the subject, giving the people of Azerbaijan the choice of “returning to their Iranian homeland.”

Hosting secessionists is not the only reason for Tehran’s anger. Azerbaijan has close ties with Israel including a USD 1.6 billion contract to purchase arms from the Jewish state. Tehran media claim that Azerbaijan would give Israel bases to bomb Iran’s nuclear sites. 

Iran also regards Azerbaijan’s ties wit Turkey, a member of NATO, as a potential threat in case of a military clash with the United States.

To add to Tehran’s anger, Azerbaijan has sided with Russia over dividing the resources of the Caspian Sea including oil and gas and caviar-bearing fish reserves. 

Iran wants the Caspian to be declared an inland sea jointly owned by its five littoral states. Under that scheme, Iran’s share would be 20 percent. Russia and Kazakhstan want the sea divided according to the length of each littoral state’s shoreline. Under this scheme, Iran would end up with 11 percent. At first equivocating on the issue, Azerbaijan now tilts towards the Russian position while Turkmenistan, the fifth littoral state, is hedging its bet.

Azerbaijan, too, has complaints against Iran. 

The Islamic Republic supports Christian Armenia in its conflict with Azerbaijan. Without support from Iran, landlocked Armenia would not have been able to annex Nagorno-Karabakh. It is clear that as long as Iran backs Armenia, Azerbaijan will not be able to recapture its lost territories.

Baku has another complaint. 

Iran’s ruling mullahs try to incite Azerbaijan’s Gushtasbi-Talysh minority against the Azeri majority despite the fact that the majority of the Gushtasbi-Talysh are Sunni Muslims. Baku also accuses Tehran of trying to foment nationalism among Kurdish, Tat and Lezgins in Azerbaijan. 

Tehran’s mishandling of relations with Azerbaijan is a classic example of how ideological blindness could turn a nation’s potentially closest neighbor into an enemy.

Blinded by its anti-Americanism, the Khomeinist regime not only ignores deep-rooted cultural and historical ties but has also set aside Islamic or even Shi’ite sensibilities in shaping relations with Azerbaijan.

Instead of the current tension, under a normal regime Iran would have been able to draw Azerbaijan close to its ancestral cultural and historic homeland by opening the borders, merging markets, and allowing maximum contact between populations on both sides of the Aras River. 

Sadly, however, tension with Azerbaijan need not be surprising. Today, Iran’s relations with all its neighbors are marked by varying degrees of mistrust and hostility. A sad story, all round.

Amir Taheri was born in Ahvaz, southwest Iran, and was educated in Tehran, London and Paris


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The Divine Hand of the Europeans

by Adam Turner


The Biblical Book of Joshua begins:
And it was after the death of Moses, the servant of the Lord, that the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying, “Moses my servant has died and now arise and cross the River Jordan. You and all this nation go to the land which I give the Children of Israel. Every place on which the soles of your feet will tread I have given to you, as I have spoken to Moses. No man shall stand up …
“Not so,” say diplomats in the United States and the rest of the Western world.
These leaders have their own, alternate supreme authority, which delineates not just the borders of Israel, but also that of every other nation within the Middle East.  They consider their authority to be an entity far more powerful than the Lord – the European colonial powers, especially the United Kingdom and France.

Just look at today’s map in the Middle East, and you can see what I mean.

Israel, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, etc. all still exist within the borders that the European colonial powers drew for them.  These borders had nothing to do with their history.  They had nothing to do with their ethnic homogeneity.  They had nothing to do with their religious homogeneity.  They had nothing to do with their linguistics.  And today, the mix of peoples within each state is sometimes even more divided than when the borders were first drawn, as the different peoples within them often have different natural growth rates, or emigration rates, which have altered the balance of power in a major way. Simply put, these borders no longer make sense, if they ever did.

But don’t you ever think about touching those borders.  That is not to be allowed.

When the United States ousted the Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, and occupied that country, our officials were careful to maintain a unified state out of the hodgepodge of nationalities and religions created by the British-French pen.  The Iraqi population is roughly 30 plus million divide as follows as follows – about 18 million Shia Arabs, 5 million Sunni Arabs, 5 million Sunni Kurds, who are a different ethnic group than Arabs, with the remainder largely Christian Arabs (those who haven’t fled yet).  Generally, the three main peoples live in different areas of the nation, with the Kurds in the North, the Sunni Arabs in the West, and the Shia Arabs predominating elsewhere.  Historically these three groups have been in opposition to one another.  But, even during the height of the Iraqi post-war insurrection, when Shia Arabs and Sunni Arabs and Kurds were all at each other’s throats, almost no American of any significance considered the logical option of dividing the country into three sections. Perhaps the world felt that since Europe colonialists had already spoken on the matter, the Iraqis would just have to learn to live together.

Also, consider Syria and Lebanon.  France originally drew their boundaries.  Both were drawn to maximize French interests, especially in Lebanon, where the French were interested in producing a majority Christian nation.  Today, the conflicts originating out of these lines have led to the death of hundreds of thousands of people.

In Syria, there are 23 million inhabitants.  16 million are Sunni Arabs.  Over 3 million are non-Sunni Arabs, mostly Alawites, but also including some Druze. Both the Alawites and the Druze live primarily in the Western, more mountainous areas.  There are about 2 million Kurds residing in the northeastern corner.  And there were more than 2 million Christian Arabs, prior to the rebellion.  Currently, much of the country is in flames, as Sunni Arabs – led by jihadists – seek to violently overthrow the Iranian-backed Alawite dictator Assad.  Over 70,000 people have died during this civil war.  Yet, among all the various peace plans that have been proposed by the international elites, precious few advocate the seemingly obvious idea of splitting Syria into its different constituent parts, so as to better protect minorities.  (The Christians may not be concentrated enough to create a separate state, although it is possible that they might be more safe in an Alawite or Kurdish state.)

In Lebanon, there are around 1.2 million Sunni Arabs, more than 1.2 million Shia Arabs, 1.4 million Christians (whom are further subdivided) and 200,000 Druze.  Because Lebanon is so heterogenous, it has had over twenty-five years of civil war, with hundreds of thousands of casualties, and currently is under a fragile “truce” thanks to the ability of the Shia terrorist group Hezbollah to forcibly control the nation.  The Lebanese communities are, once again, mostly segregated.  But, once again, no major international peace plans for Lebanon have ever made the case for a sensible division of the country.

So, now we come back to Israel.

After God had had his way, the British stepped in.  In 1921, the British chopped off 80% of the land to give to their ally, the Hashemite Abdullah, whose family had just lost their prior kingdom in what is now Saudi Arabia.  The monarchy of Jordan – as it became – has been in existence ever since.  Of course, as befits a kingdom arbitrarily drawn up by the British, a majority of the population of Jordan is actually made up of Palestinian Arab emigrants.

After the British tired of keeping peace between the warring Arabs and Jews in the remaining 20% of Palestine, the United Nations – led by the European diplomats – tried to organize that rump into competing areas of Arab and Jewish control.  This led to war, which resulted in the 1948 armistice lines.  Since then, Israel has been forced to fight numerous times against the Arab world.  In each of these struggles, the lines have changed.

But the world – led by the diplomats of Europe – still doesn’t recognize the current borders of Israel.  Neither does the Obama Administration.

Then again, perhaps this isn’t too surprising.  The British never got their final say on Israel’s borders, did they?

Adam Turner


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York University’s Racist Boycott of Israel

by Michael Kravshik


On March 21, 2013 bold-faced racism returned to a Canadian campus in official form. Racism by individuals and by fringe groups has never disappeared, but now we have the student federation of one of the largest universities in Canada quietly guiding itself back into the abyss.

On this day the York Federation of Students (YFS) at York University in Toronto voted to accept a motion of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) targeting the State of Israel. Boycotting Israeli products, or even companies that do business in Israel, is shameful, but not racist (at least not demonstrably). However, this motion includes a boycott of all Israeli academics. Persecution based on your country of origin can be described as nothing less than flagrant racism, and were it any other nationality our media would have plastered it on every TV station and every newspaper. But alas, it has taken nearly two weeks for any major media outlet to notice.

Maclean’s, a major Canadian magazine, refers to Chaim Lax, the President of the Jewish organization Hasbara, merely “alleging“ the resolution is racist. His comments (seen here) illustrate very clearly how the motion is racist, and to diminish it is insulting to any one who truly despises discrimination. Yet Safiyah Husein, vice-president equity of the YFS, has the audaciousness to claim, “We engage in anti-racism, anti-homophobia, anti-transphobia, and anti-sexism campaigns not because they are popular, but because they are right, and they are important to our members.” Hypocrisy at its finest.

This comes only a few years after the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) tried the same move. Its Ontario President, Sid Ryan (known for his extreme political views) said, “We are ready to say Israeli academics should not be on our campuses unless they explicitly condemn the university bombing and the assault on Gaza in general.” But realizing the inherent racism of such a resolution – or more likely realizing the bad press that would follow such a racist resolution – CUPE backed down and focused on Israeli institutions rather than individuals. It goes without mentioning that some Israeli academics themselves commonly and publicly lash out at Israel for its actions.

Opposing groups have often claimed the YFS works in a deceitful fashion, undercutting the true sentiment of York students (recently banning anti-abortion student clubs, for example). Additionally, YFS approving the motion will have little teeth since it is not binding on the University.

Nevertheless, the fact that such a blatantly racist motion can pass, and be justified publicly, by the main student union of one of Canada’s biggest and most well-known universities is a travesty. Political extremists should not be able to coerce our system into supporting racist resolutions. The thought of our campuses becoming hotbeds for racism under the guise of fighting it, is truly a sad state of affairs.


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