Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Al-Dura Affair and Its Implications for Morality and Ethics in France

by Freddy Eytan

[Editor's comment: It's instructive when reading this article to bear in mind Hillary Clinton's dismissive query when being questioned on the Benghazi affair, "What difference, at this point, does it make?".  When our leaders, or the press, do not behave morally and ethically - and are not held accountable, Hillary, it makes all the difference.]

  • The report of Israel's governmental inquiry committee on the al-Dura affair, written after a thorough examination of all the materials related to this unfortunate affair, should serve as a lesson for all foreign reporters working in Israel and be taught in journalism schools throughout the world.
  • The authors of the report have successfully demonstrated how a Palestinian photographer violated the basic tenets of journalistic work, and how a foreign reporter accepted his version of events and his photos wholesale without questioning their reliability for a moment. Verifying sources, cross-checking, meticulously ensuring objectivity - these are the foundations on which the whole enterprise of journalistic coverage rests.
  • Yet most of the foreign reporters prefer to remain in their offices and work from the raw materials conveniently provided by reporters and photographers of the international networks and news agencies - which, for the most part, employ local Palestinians. 
  • It is, of course, regrettable that the report only appeared thirteen years after the affair, which caused grave damage to Israel's image, but there is no early or late when it comes to the truth. We owe profound gratitude and esteem to all those who tirelessly pursued justice in this affair, with the whole French establishment supporting the Palestinian version. These activists contributed time, energy, and professional experience to the struggle for the supreme value of bringing the truth to light.
  • The initiative of a government ministry to publish the report on the al-Dura affair is very praiseworthy and appropriate. A democratic state that fights for its existence is required to defend itself and its image with all the tools at its disposal.

Ambassador Freddy Eytan, a former Israeli Foreign Ministry senior advisor who served in Israel's embassies in Paris and Brussels, was Israel's first Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. He heads the Jerusalem Center's Israel-Europe Project, focusing on presenting Israel's case in the countries of Europe.


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Obama’s Iraq Surrender

by Arnold Ahlert


After almost a century of existence, the borders that form the modern Mideast nation states appear to be on the verge of disintegration. Part of the driving force behind this meltdown, as observers are beginning to acknowledge, is of course the intractable sectarian war in Syria. But a far bigger part of the picture is the accelerating destabilization of Iraq. The breakdown of Iraq, with its far-reaching regional ramifications, is attributable in no small part to President Obama’s abandonment of the U.S.’s mission in the country, a betrayal committed in total defiance of the military establishment’s recommendations, which squandered the hard-won victory handed down by President Bush. As predicted, our precipitous withdrawal has left the once pacified nation riven with sectarian strife, primarily among Sunni and Shia Muslims and the Kurds. As the region descends, the consequences of Obama’s folly are only becoming more obvious: a nation that once stood a chance at being a source of stability in the region is instead rapidly becoming its maelstrom.

In 1916, Sir Mark Sykes of Britain and Georges Picot of France signed a secret agreement, with Russia’s approval, to dissolve the Ottoman Empire. The Sykes-Picot agreement was concerned with creating Middle East spheres of influence for France and Great Britain following their victory in WWl. The League of Nations facilitated the mandates over the territory captured by both nations. France got Syria and Lebanon, and Britain got Iraq. The agreement also separated the British mandatory Palestine, known by its Arab residents prior to WWI as “Surya al-Janubiyya” (Southern Syria), from the French mandatory of Syria to the north. For its approval of the deal, Russia received territory that eventually became Turkey.

Thus, the artificial borders of five countries were established. In the ensuing years, two critical realities were also realized: in Syria, the Alawite minority, the sect to which current president Bashar Assad belongs, was granted power over the Sunni majority. In Iraq, the Sunni minority was empowered at the expense of the Shi’ite majority. In other words, borders created to satisfy European sensibilities largely ignored the realities of historic ethnic, tribal and sectarian divisions. these divisions were exacerbated by the rise of dictators, tyrants and Arab monarchs who maintained power after the French and British withdrew in the middle of last century.

It is those divisions that are now asserting themselves.

The current flashpoint involves the 370 mile border separating Iraq from Syria. The civil war on the Syrian side has drawn everyone in the region into the conflict. On the Shi’ite side, troops from Iran and their Lebanese-based proxy, Hezbollah, have aligned themselves with Bashar Assad. Troops from Saudi Arabia and Qatar are fighting on the side of the rebels, along with elements of al Qaeda. Turkey also has Sunni allies in Syria, but their main ambition appears to be separating Kurdish elements from both Syria and Iraq, because they have made peace with the Kurdish rebels within their own borders, and are seeking to expand their regional influence as a result.

Then there is Russia. They have proposed a “peace” conference scheduled for June 15-16 in Geneva, Switzerland, as an attempt to end the two years of fighting in Syria. Yet their motives are profoundly transparent, as evidenced by the reality that they have reportedly shipped anti-aircraft S-300 rockets to Assad. This move preempts any effort by Western nations to establish a “no-fly” zone over Syrian airspace (an idea the Obama administrated toyed with, but never followed through on), thereby tipping the balance of power in Assad’s favor. Yet more importantly, it establishes that Russia’s position at the peace conference will be an effort to dictate post-war terms, with the intention of keeping Assad in power. Since rebel forces consider this completely antithetical to their ambitions, the fighting will undoubtedly continue.

The most likely outcome of that fighting is a stalemate leading to the breakup of Syria into three mini-states, respectively controlled by Kurds, Sunnis and Alawites. Since most of the Alawites live in the coastal corridor that includes Damascus, even this seemingly chaotic scenario accrues to Russian interests. They maintain an influence in the region, and they will still have their naval base in Tartous.

On the Iraqi side of the border, the developments are even more ominous. Despite being largely ignored by the American media, the disintegration of Iraq is continuing rapidly. The deaths of 700 Iraqis killed in sectarian violence throughout the country in April represents the largest number of casualties in the last five years. In the northern part of Iraq, the province of Iraqi Kurdistan has, for all intents and purposes, dissolved its ties with the Shia-dominated government of Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad. They are in the process of cutting autonomous deals with international oil companies, and next September a new pipeline will carry oil from Kurdistan to Turkey linking them to their Kurdish brethren in that region. In the process they have ignored U.S. opposition to any oil exports ”without the appropriate approval of the Iraqi federal government.”

Iraqi Sunnis, who held a vise-like grip on power during the days of Saddam Hussein, have little incentive to remain united with the current government either. In late April, after Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) opened fire on Sunni protesters in Hawija, Kirkuk, killing 20 and wounding over 100, Sunni tribal militia began mobilizing against the government. Several clashes between the ISF and the militias have taken place, with thousands of tribe members in Kirkuk and Salah ad-Din vowing to seek revenge. Other clashes have broken out in the Anbar provice cities of Ramadi and Fallujah as well. In Mosul, protesters demanded a withdrawal of government forces.

Furthermore, the efforts of Sunni leaders to maintain ties to the Maliki government have undermined their credibly with their constituents, who see them as sellouts to a regime that has consistently ignored the concerns of Sunnis. Many Sunnis are convinced that Maliki is intent on establishing a “Shi’ite crescent” in conjunction with Iran. The Sunni counterweight to that reality is their alliance with Sunni rebels in Syria. That effectively obliterates the Syrian-Iraqi border, and establishes the possibility that they will precipitate a civil war with Maliki to realize a separate state comprised of Sunnis from both nations.

In a column for the Washington Post, former Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker explains that the battle in Hawija represented a critical turning point in the effort to keep Iraq united. Yet far more importantly, he inadvertently reveals the fecklessness of President Obama’s politically motivated and premature withdrawal of American troops from the country. “Al-Qaeda in Iraq has already begun to reestablish itself in areas that Iraqi and U.S. forces cleared at enormous cost over the past five years,” he writes.
And Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda in Iraq’s front group in Syria, is attempting to hijack the secular resistance to Syrian President Bashar al­Assad. These developments threaten not only to unravel the gains made since 2007, but also to energize the forces of violent extremism in the heart of the Arab world, already burning in Syria.
Crocker further notes the current Sunni-Shi’ite confrontation is reminiscent of the one which occurred in 2006 that precipitated the troop surge so vehemently opposed by Obama and the Left. Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) declared that the war in Iraq was “lost” before the troops even arrived in country. Yet Crocker notes that, as a result of the hard-won security established by those troops, “Sunni and Shiite leaders opted to resolve their differences through accommodation rather than through violence.” He believes the current impasse can be resolved by “a sustained, high-level diplomatic effort.” Yet absent the presence of U.S. troops to add weight to that diplomatic effort, such a prescription appears hopeless.

On Friday, October 21, 2011, President Obama, in a statement similar to the one he made last week regarding the war on terror in general, “declared” that the war in Iraq was over. ”I can report that, as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year,” Obama said. ”After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over.” In doing so, he ignored the advice of military commanders who insisted a minimum of 20,000 troops should be left behind to ensure the stability that America’s fighting forces fought and died to establish. Thus,  Obama has made a mockery of our soldiers’ sacrifices and snatched defeat from the jaws of victory — all so he could placate his leftist base.

The tragic consequences of that decision are unfolding at a rapid pace. A complete — and bloody — realignment of the entire Middle East is occurring, none of which accrues to America’s interests. In the Middle East, the U.S. has traded possible stability for almost certain chaos. As for our new role in shaping events there, it is best described by NY Post columnist Benny Avni. “What are America’s interests in any of this?” he writes. “Doesn’t matter. By opting to sit out, we’ve basically forfeited any say in the outcome.”

Arnold Ahlert


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

Muslims Combating Anti-Semitism

by Anav Silverman/Tazpit News Agency

Hafeez Kasim. Photo: : Anav Silverman, Tazpit News Agency.

A small, but increasingly vocal number of Muslims are rejecting radical hate speech and combating anti-Semitism in the Muslim world. In the recent Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism held this week in Jerusalem, Palestinian Media Watch director, Itamar Marcus and Dr. Boaz Ganor organized a panel discussion with Muslim activists actively rejecting hate rhetoric.

Two of the panel speakers included Kasim Hafeez, a British Muslim who runs The Israel Campaign and Rev. Majed El Shafie, a human rights advocate originally from Egypt. Ahmad Mansour, a Palestinian living in Berlin, who is a policy adviser for the European Foundation for Democracy, was also scheduled to speak but was unable to attend.

“When people say that anti-Semitism exists in the Muslim world because of Israel, that is simply an excuse,” says Kasim Hafeez, born in Britain to a Pakistani Muslim family.

“People here [in Israel] get Islamic anti-Semitism. In Europe, we deny it,” Hafeez expounded.

“As a university student, I would attend radical anti-Israel rallies in Trafalgar Square. Here I am standing in London in the middle of a European capital – chanting ‘death to Israel’ and nothing was ever done.”

He compares those rallies with the Ku Klux Klan. “An Al-Quds Day rally in London is equivalent to a KKK rally in the US,” he stressed.

Hafeez told Tazpit News Agency that he began to change his thinking when he read A Case for Israel, by Alan Dershowitz.

Hafeez explains that he read the book in order to learn how to further deconstruct Zionist propaganda. “But I began to see that I could no longer support my convictions because I had no answers to the arguments that were made for Israel,” he explains.

Rev. Majed El Shafie. Photo: Anav Silverman/Tazpit News Agency.

“I found that the radical Islamic doctrine that I grew up with and my own belief in violent jihad could no longer support the truth I once believed in.”

That realization prompted Hafeez to visit Israel. “I kind of hoped that the visit to Israel would be a negative experience, that it would enable me to go back to my former beliefs,” he told Tazpit News Agency.

But the visit was eye-opening for Hafeez, who says he fell in love with Israel during his first trip. “It’s hard not to support Israel,” says the soft-spoken Hafeez, who recently participated in the Jerusalem Marathon. “I encountered Israelis who weren’t anti-Arab, or anti-Islam and saw that this wasn’t some apartheid state.”

However, coming out in support of Israel hasn’t been easy. Hafeez has become isolated from his friends. “It’s a lot of hassle – it really disrupts your life when you become vocal and open about your support for the Jewish state.”

“What people don’t understand, is that it doesn’t matter if you bend over backwards for radical Islamists. If you are Jewish, they will hate you no matter what,” Hafeez said.

Rev. Majed El Shafie, the founder of One Free World International (OFWI), a leading organization which advocates for religious minorities globally, echoed similar sentiments. A Muslim who converted to Christianity, he found political asylum in Canada and believes that the silence of moderate Muslims is more dangerous than the rise of extremists.

“They [moderate Muslims] must speak up,” says Rev. El Shafie. “Anti-Semitism is everyone’s problem. The moderate Muslims don’t understand that after the radical Muslims finish with the Christians, Bahai, and Jews, they will come after them. The minute we stop fighting for each other, we lose our humanity,” he added.

Rev. El Shafie believes that education is the solution to radicalization and is the only way to bring forth democracy in the Middle East. “The Arab Spring is a cold deadly winter. Whoever came up with the term ‘Arab Spring’ must have been a guy in a suit behind a desk who had no idea what was really going on.”

“Today all these dictatorships that have been overthrown are filled with extremist governments. There is no separation of religion and state and no freedom of religion in the Middle East. Education must come before democracy”

As for Israel, Rev. El Shafie declares that there are two things that the Jewish state cannot be questioned for. “When Israel’s right to exist and Israel’s right to defend itself, come into question, a line has been crossed,” he stated. “The new anti-Semitism today is to hate Israel.”

Anav Silverman/Tazpit News Agency


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Palestinians Threaten Their Own Businessmen

by Khaled Abu Toameh

So far, not one Palestinian Authority official has come out in public against the campaign of intimidating Palestinian businessmen. It will not only foil Kerry's plan, but also scare away potential investors. Those making threats do not want to see prosperity; instead they want the Palestinians to continue living in misery in order to keep alive the fight against Israel. Once again, the biggest losers are the Palestinians.
After rejecting US Secretary of State John Kerry's new plan to boost the Palestinian economy by investing $4 billion in the private sector, the Palestinians have begun threatening businessmen who want to work with Israeli counterparts.

Kerry's plan, which was revealed at last week's World Economic Forum in Jordan, has been condemned by many Palestinians as a U.S. attempt to bribe them into making political concessions to Israel.

But several Palestinian businessmen who attended the conference have welcomed Kerry's economic plan and expressed a desire to meet with Israeli counterparts to talk about joint investments in the West Bank.

Some Palestinian businessmen who dared to meet with Israeli colleagues in the past few days are now facing threats and calls for boycotting them and their companies.

The threats are being made by various Palestinian organizations and individuals, as well as by political activists belonging to several Palestinian groups in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

One of the Palestinian businessmen under attack is Munib al-Masri, often described as the wealthiest Palestinian in the world.

Al-Masri has been strongly condemned by Palestinians for meeting with Israeli businessmen before, during and after the Jordan conference.

In his defense, al-Masri said that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas knew in advance about the meetings with Israelis.

Al-Masri expressed "regret" over the accusations and threats made by Palestinians campaigning against "normalization" with Israel.

Palestinian businessmen from the West bank city of Jenin who recently visited Haifa at the invitation of the Chamber of Commerce have also been targeted by the "anti-normalization" campaigners.

The campaign reached its peak this week when several Palestinian unions and political groups held a press conference in Ramallah to strongly condemn Palestinians who meet with Israelis.

"We reject and condemn normalization in theory and practice," the activists declared.

The Palestinian Writers' Union also joined the campaign of incitement and intimidation against Palestinian businessmen.

The chairman of the union, Murad Sudani, threatened to publish a "blacklist" with the names of businessmen, politicians and academics who are caught meeting with Israelis.

The campaign against Palestinian businessmen is being waged under the watchful eye of the Palestinian Authority leadership in the West Bank. So far, not one Palestinian Authority official has come out in public against the intimidation of Palestinian businessmen.

Nor did Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, a widely respected economist, come out in support of the businessmen.

Many of those responsible for the "anti-normalization" campaign are, in fact, affiliated with Mahmoud Abbas's ruling Fatah faction.

The campaign of intimidation against Palestinian businessmen will not only foil Kerry's plan to boost the Palestinian economy, but also scare away potential investors from launching badly needed projects in the West Bank.

The campaign has already resulted in the cancellation of scheduled meetings between Palestinian and Israeli businessmen. Once again, the biggest losers are the Palestinians.

Those who are threatening businessmen do not want to see economic prosperity in the Palestinian territories. Instead, they want Palestinians to continue living in misery and frustration in order to keep alive the fight against Israel.

Khaled Abu Toameh


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Under the Radar, Peace Process is no Longer Frozen

by Shlomo Cesana

Kerry, Livni and Molcho have held a long string of meetings in Rome, Amman, Jerusalem and Washington • But will Abbas take the necessary steps to achieve the much-desired agreement? Don't hold your breath.

President Shimon Peres (left), U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbasm this week
Photo credit: Dudi Vaaknin

Shlomo Cesana


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Britain's Islamic Future

by Soeren Kern

The moment that the white British become a minority will symbolize a huge transfer of power -- cultural political, economic and religious -- an "irreversible change in British society, unprecedented for at least a millennium." — David Coleman, Professor of Demography, University of Oxford

Islam is on track to become the dominant religion in Britain within the next generation, according to new census data published by the British government.

The numbers show that although Christianity is still the main religion in Britain -- over 50% of the population describe themselves as such -- nearly half of all Christians in Britain are over the age of 50, and, for the first time ever, fewer than half under the age of 25 describe themselves as Christian.

By contrast, the number of people under 25 who describe themselves as Muslim has doubled over the past ten years: one in ten under the age of 25 are Muslim, up from one in 20 in 2001.

If current trends continue -- a Muslim population boom, combined with an aging Christian demographic and the increasing secularization of British natives -- Islam is set to overtake Christianity in Britain within the next 20 years, according to demographers.

A new report published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on May 16 offers additional analyses of the 2011 census data previously published in December 2012.

In the 2011 Census, Christianity was still the largest religious group in England and Wales with 33.2 million people (59% of the population). The second largest religious group was Islam with 2.7 million people (5% of the population). The proportion of people who reported that they did not have a religion reached 14.1 million people, a quarter of the population (25%).

Although the overall population of England and Wales grew by 3.7 million between 2001 and 2011 to reach 56.1 million, in 2011, there were 4.1 million fewer people who reported being Christian (from 72% to 59% of the population). By contrast, 1.2 million more people reported being Muslim (from 3% to 5%), and 6.4 million more people reported no religion (from 15% to 25%).

The new report, however, shows that the number of British Christians is actually falling at a far faster rate than previously thought. The earlier analysis of the statistics showed a roughly 15% decline in the number of Christians over the past decade, but the ONS found that this figure had been artificially influenced by the recent arrival of Christian immigrants from countries such as Nigeria and Poland.

According to the new report, the number of white British Christians actually fell by 5.8 million people between 2001 and 2011; this decline was masked by an increase in the number of Christians not born in Britain during that same period, but who were there due to immigration.

In the 2011 Census, Christians had the oldest age profile of the main religious groups. Over one in five Christians (22%) were aged 65 and over, and nearly one in two (43%) were aged 50 and over; only one quarter (25.5%) were under the age of 25.

By contrast, Muslims had the youngest age profile of the main religious groups. Nearly half of Muslims (48%) were aged under 25 (1.3 million) and nine in ten (88%) were aged under 50 (2.4 million).

Muslims were also more ethnically diverse than Christians. Two-thirds of Muslims (68%) were from an Asian background, including Pakistani (38%) and Bangladeshi (15%). The proportion of Muslims reporting as Black/African/Caribbean/Black British (10%) was similar to those reporting as "other" ethnic group (11%). 93% of people (13.1 million) with no religion were from a white background.

The number of Muslims increased in all ethnic groups, but there was a particular jump among Asian Muslims. Pakistani Muslims increased by 371,000 (from 658,000 to over a million) and Bangladeshi Muslims have grown by 142,000 (from 260,000 to 402,000).

Just over half of all Muslims (53%) in 2011 were born outside Britain. The numbers have almost doubled in a decade with a rise of over half a million (599,000) from 828,000 to 1.4 million in 2011. A similar pattern can be seen for the number of Muslims born in Britain, where there was also a rise of over a half a million (560,000) from 718,000 to 1.2 million in 2011.

Muslims also had the lowest levels of economic activity (55%), compared to Christians (60%). The numbers are somewhat deceiving, however, as age is a major factor in economic activity. As most Christians in Britain are from an older demographic, this means that a large proportion of Christians not participating in the labor force are "retired" (69%).

By contrast, Muslims had the youngest age profile and were the most often economically inactive because they were "looking after home or family" (31%) or because they were "students" (30%). According to the census data, only 13% of Muslims in Britain were "retired."

In an interview with The Telegraph newspaper, Fraser Watts, a professor of theology at Cambridge University, said it was "entirely possible" that Christians could become a minority within the next decade. "It is still pretty striking," he said, "and it is a worrying trend and confirms what anyone can observe -- that in many churches the majority of the congregation are over 60."

David Coleman, a professor of demography at the University of Oxford, said the findings showed that Christianity is declining with each generation. "Each large age group," he said, "as time progresses, receives less inculcation into Christianity than its predecessor ten years earlier."

Coleman contrasts the decline of Christianity through the generations to what happens among Muslims. "We have a Muslim faith where most studies suggest adherence to Islam is not only transmitted through the generations but appears to get stronger," he said. "Indeed, there seems to be some evidence that the second generation Muslims in Britain are more Muslim than their parents."

In a recently published study, Coleman predicted that up to 40% of the population of Britain will be foreign or from a minority ethnic group within 50 years if current trends continue. By that time the white British population will be on the verge of becoming a minority.

According to Coleman, the combined population of ethnic minorities will exceed white Britons in about 2070; the non-white population could increase to 24 million and other whites to seven million by 2050.

The moment that the white British become a minority will symbolize a huge transfer of power. Coleman says it will underline a changed national identity -- cultural, political, economic and religious. "An older white population would need to co-exist with a younger ethnic population, arguably required for its support," he said.

Coleman has warned of the consequences of the ethnic transformation taking place in Britain and other parts of Europe. "History is not sanguine about the capacity of ethnic groups or religions to overcome their differences. The ethnic transformation implicit in current trends would be a major, unlooked-for, and irreversible change in British society, unprecedented for at least a millennium," Coleman said.

Separately, it recently emerged that nearly one-third of all children born in England and Wales now have at least one foreign-born parent. In 2011, 224,943 babies had either one or both parents born outside of the United Kingdom -- 31% of the total. This is a substantial rise on the figure in 2000, when 21.2% of babies had at least one non-British-born parent.

As Mohammed was by far the most popular name for baby boys born in England and Wales in 2011, many of these foreign-born parents would appear to be Muslim.

The politically correct ONS declared that Harry was the most popular boy's name, with 7,523 baby boys receiving that name in 2011. But if one adds up the 22 different spellings of Mohammed (Mohammed, Muhammad, Mohammad, Muhammed, Mahammad, Mohamed, Mohamud, etc.), a total of 8,146 baby boys born in Britain were named after the Muslim prophet in 2011.

Sir Andrew Green, the director of Migration Watch, a think tank that focuses on immigration, summed it up this way: "This is the clear result of the Labour Party's mass immigration policy which is changing the nature of our society at a speed which is unacceptable to the public who of course were never consulted."

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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Iran Reports Saudi King’s Death: A Green Light for War?

by Ryan Mauro


The Iranian state-controlled press is bringing attention to an Arabic report that Saudi King Abdullah is “clinically dead,” only holding onto life because of a ventilator. A film allegedly produced by Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s office in 2011 argued that Abdullah’s death will be a major prophetic sign signaling the “imminent reappearance of the Mahdi.”

The Iranian media is referencing a report in ASharq Alawsat that relies on unidentified “medical” sources to confirm that King Abdullah’s vital organs have stopped working. It observes that Abdullah hasn’t been seen in public and is being represented by Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz. However, the Iranian media does note that the Arabic paper previously reported Abdullah’s death in 2012 after he had intensive back surgery.

Ahmadinejad’s office allegedly produced a film titled “The Coming is Upon Us” and it teaches that the Islamic messiah named the Hidden Imam or as the Mahdi will soon arrive. He is prophesied to appear and bring a miraculous victory over the enemies of Islam during a final grand war.

The film teaches that the death of Abdullah will be a fulfillment of prophecy that sets the stage for this last conflict. It even encourages his assassination, saying, “Whoever guarantees the death of King Abdullah in Saudi Arabia, I will guarantee the imminent reappearance of the Mahdi.” It is unclear what immediately follows his death according to this interpretation of Islamic prophecy, but the filmmakers are certain it is the trigger for huge events.

The overall message of the film is that Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, Iranian President Ahmadinejad and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah were foretold in Islamic prophecy as the ones who will wage war with the Mahdi against the “Antichrist” and “the imposters,” meaning the U.S., Israel and the West’s Arab allies.

Ayatollah Khamenei is said to be the fulfillment of a prophetic figure named Seyed Khorasani, also referred to as “the preparer” for his role in setting the stage for the Mahdi’s appearance.

President Ahmadinejad is said to be the incarnation of Shoeib-Ebne Saleh, the commander-in-chief of Khorasani (Khamenei) who will capture Jerusalem on “the threshold of the Coming.” He is to lead a coalition of Arab countries in this war and the film argues that the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood will allow this to happen.

Hassan Nasrallah is said to be the embodiment of Yamani, a military commander that leads a march to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

The film lists several prophecies that were allegedly fulfilled, but the death of Abdullah is the one given the most emphasis. In a possibly related development, the Iranian media is reporting that the government is deploying a “massive” amount of long-range missiles that can “crush the enemy.”

The presidential election is on June 14 but the inauguration of the new president won’t happen until August. Ahmadinejad cannot run for a third consecutive term and the candidacy of his protégé, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, was disqualified by the Guardian Council. If the film reflects the personal views of Ahmadinejad, then he only has around three months to fulfill his duties as the prophesied Shoeib-Ebne Saleh.

If Ahmadinejad is to carry out the agenda articulated in the film, then he must have the approval of Supreme Leader Khamenei. The two are engaged in a power struggle and it is often said that Khamenei does not share the eschatological views of Ahmadinejad.

There are indications that Khamenei is not at odds with Ahmadinejad when it comes to their role in prophecy. In July 2010, a senior cleric claimed that Khamenei told his inner circle that he had met the Mahdi, who promised to return while Khamenei remained alive. When mostly-Shiite protesters challenged the pro-American monarchy of Bahrain, a representative of Khamenei said it is “the best opportunity to begin setting the stage for the emergence of the 12th imam, our Mahdi.”

Khamenei representatives have encouraged comparisons between Khamenei and Syed Khorasani. Iranian defector “Reza Kahlili,” who released the film, said it includes about 10 minutes of senior clerics endorsing its content. However, a senior seminary school in Qom rebutted the film.

Luckily, Syria’s civil war is preventing an alliance between Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood, who are on opposite sides of the conflict. As of right now, Iran is unable to lead the Arab coalition whose formation must precede the taking the Jerusalem and arrival of the Mahdi. However, the elements of the Iranian regime that believe in the thesis of “The Coming is Upon Us” may feel that a provocative action will unite the region.

The bottom line is this: If the Iranian leadership believes in the film it allegedly produced, then the reported death of Saudi King Abdullah will be interpreted as a green light for destructive things to happen.

This article was sponsored by the Institute on Religion and Democracy.

Ryan Mauro


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The Palestinian Excuse Machine

by Jonathan S. Tobin

Secretary of State John Kerry’s effort to revive the Middle East peace process hasn’t accomplished much so far and isn’t likely to do better in the future. But it has posed an interesting challenge to the Palestinians. Given that they don’t wish to further offend the United States or disrupt the flow of Western aid that keeps the corrupt Palestinian Authority afloat, and also don’t wish to return to negotiating with Israel under virtually any circumstances, how do they justify continuing their four-and-half-year-old boycott of peace talks? Their answer to that dilemma is clear: continue to pile on the calumnies against the Jewish state and hope that it will be seen to justify their ongoing refusal to even talk with Israel.

Their reasoning for sticking to this tried and true formula for avoiding peace talks is sound. Given that both Washington and much of the Western media has always been ready to buy into their abuse of Israel and to stick to the idea that the Palestinians are innocent victims rather than the principle authors of their own misery, why shouldn’t they continue to pretend that Israeli building in Jerusalem is an obstacle to peace that prevents them from returning to the table?

But anyone who is familiar with the parameters of past peace talks that they claim to wish to build on understands that their complaints about Jews in Jerusalem or canards about ethnic cleansing are not only false but simply excuses manufactured to justify their unwillingness to play ball with Kerry.

The Palestinian complaints about Israeli building in East Jerusalem dooming peace talks are patently absurd. The plans, which consist of tenders for the construction of 300 apartments in the Ramot neighborhood and 800 in the Gilo area, would in no way affect the Palestinian position or their hopes for an independent state that might include part of the city.

Ramot and Gilo are located in parts of Jerusalem that were illegally occupied by Jordan from 1949 to 1967 and thus are over the “green line” that once divided the city. But these are 40-year-old neighborhoods that are long established, not some remote hilltop settlements in parts of the West Bank that are assumed to be part of a future Palestinian state.

In every peace plan put forward by peace groups as well as the Israeli government’s offers of statehood to the Palestinians, the Jewish areas of East Jerusalem remain part of Israel. The Palestinians know that even in the most generous distribution of territory—including the one put forward by former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008 that called for the abandonment of the Old City by Israel—Ramot and Gilo and other such neighborhoods are not going to be handed over to them and emptied of their Jewish inhabitants. In other words, if the Palestinian goal is truly to have a state alongside Israel that includes the Arab sections of East Jerusalem, it doesn’t matter how many Jews are in Ramot and Gilo.

But, of course, the PA isn’t really interested in a partition of Jerusalem or the 1967 lines as it is in finding a reason to avoid talking to Israel. That’s why they are forced to try to blow up the issue of Jews in East Jerusalem as a provocation that prevents them from negotiating.

To be fair to the Palestinians, they are in some ways merely following the lead of the Obama administration that has made an issue of building in Jerusalem during the president’s first term. But, fortunately, Obama and Kerry have seen sense and abandoned past attempts to get Israel to agree to a building freeze in its own capital and instead urged the Palestinians to negotiate without preconditions.

But that is something that PA leader Mahmoud Abbas knows he cannot do. Abbas fled from Olmert’s offer that would have given him virtually everything he says he wants because he knows that he could not survive after signing a deal that recognized the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders would be drawn.

Despite Kerry’s naïve optimism that he can succeed where all his predecessors have failed, the intervening years have not altered Abbas’s position. With his Hamas rivals ensconced in Gaza and his own political position still precarious as he serves the ninth year of his four-year term as president, Abbas has no leeway to agree to a peace that would conclude the conflict. Palestinian politics remains mired in the rejectionism that has characterized its relationship toward Zionism since its inception. Nor is Abbas strong enough to resist the demands of the descendants of the 1948 refugees for Israel’s destruction even if he really were willing to make peace.

But faced with Kerry’s pleas for talks, all Abbas can do is to stall and pretend that Jews building in areas that the Palestinians will never get even in a division of Jerusalem is reason to avoid talking. Both Washington and the Western press shouldn’t fall for the latest version of the PA’s excuses.

Jonathan S. Tobin


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Knesset Summons Owners of Amusement Park that Segregates Jewish, Arab youth

by Yael Branovski, Shlomi Diaz, Hialy Yaakobi-Handelsman, Edna Adato and News Agencies

"Those people who call this racism don't know what they're talking about," a female employee at Superland told Israel Hayom. "Days that are closed off for one sector of the population are a matter of course and based on schools' requests.

Shaken up: Israelis are reeling over reports of racism by an amusement park
Photo credit: Yehoshua Yosef

Yael Branovski, Shlomi Diaz, Hialy Yaakobi-Handelsman, Edna Adato and News Agencies


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IW News Brief: Fort Hood Fiasco, UK Jihad Denial, and More

by David J. Rusin 

Islamist Watch (IW) maintains an extensive archive of news items on nonviolent Islamism in the Western world. The complete collection can be found here; lists organized by topic are accessible on the right side of the IW homepage.

The following are some of the recent developments covered in the IW database:

Fort Hood jihadist earns $278,000 while survivors suffer

The U.S. Army's classification of the Fort Hood massacre as "workplace violence" deprives its victims of key benefits, but Major Nidal Hasan has been paid $278,000 and counting since his murderous rampage in November 2009. According to the Army, his salary cannot be halted until he is convicted. Hasan's newly confirmed windfall "makes me sick to my stomach," said Logan Burnett, a reservist shot by Hasan. "There have been times when my wife and I cannot afford groceries." In March, the Army nixed Purple Hearts for soldiers like Burnett, arguing that awarding medals would "set the stage for a formal declaration that Major Hasan is a terrorist."

As survivors look to override the "workplace violence" label in court, several congressmen are pressuring the Pentagon directly. Two House Republicans and one Democrat recently sent a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that calls the designation "irresponsible" and links it to the "'political correctness' that caused the horrible toll of deaths and injuries at Fort Hood. … We ask that you swiftly reclassify the victims' deaths and injuries as 'combat-related' so that they and their families may qualify for the full scope of benefits provided to service members and DoD civilian employees who are killed or injured in combat." 
Meanwhile, Congressman John Carter, a Texas Republican, has introduced legislation aiming to thwart future Hasans by granting whistleblower protection to military personnel who report "ideologically based threats" in the ranks. Many had been aware of Hasan's radicalism but stayed silent out of fear.

Left: Nidal Hasan's trial, long delayed by battles over his beard, is scheduled to begin on July 1. He wishes to represent himself. Right: Drummer Lee Rigby, yet another casualty in the jihadists' war against the West.

Woolwich aftermath: Groundhog Day in the UK

The two Muslim fanatics who hacked soldier Lee Rigby to death in London's Woolwich district on May 22 set a new standard for jihadist barbarism in the country, but the response was the same old, same old: Sidestepping religious motives articulated by one of the attackers, Prime Minister David Cameron sought to exonerate their faith by calling the murder "a betrayal of Islam." Furthermore, officials once again promised to tweak the "Prevent" counter-extremism program that has been a colossal failure, police rounded up Britons for "anti-religious" comments, and media followed the usual recipe of emphasizing anti-Muslim backlash, both real and imagined. Trapped in a cycle of denial, we relive the same sorry events over and over.

Considering the establishment's reaction and a post-Woolwich survey that indicates little change in public opinion regarding the fruits of Britain's multicultural experiment, the process that Daniel Pipes dubs "education by murder" clearly has a long way to go in the United Kingdom.

Discrimination against non-Muslims in Muslim-dominated businesses

The IW archive contains many examples of companies charged with discriminating against Muslim employees, but two controversies from England flip the script. First, the Birmingham Employment Tribunal has awarded £2,550 in compensation to Christopher Turton, a Christian who served as a manager at the National Halal Food Group alongside hundreds of Muslims. At issue was an "offensive and racist" internal email suggesting that Turton, described as not being a "Muslim brother," had been given his position because he is white. Turton resigned and filed a complaint.

Second, Christian worker Nohad Halawi, who says that she was wrongly fired from her job in a duty-free shop at Heathrow Airport following a "race hate" campaign, has won the right to appeal her legal case, which she previously lost on a technicality. According to Halawi, her Muslim colleagues bullied Christians wearing crosses, pressured them to convert, distributed extremist literature, and praised 9/11. After management ignored her concerns, she claims that she was terminated when Muslim coworkers branded her as a bigot. Expect more instances of Muslim-on-non-Muslim workplace harassment as demographics continue to shift.

Left: Nohad Halawi emigrated from Lebanon only to find Islamic supremacism in the UK. Right: Mohammed Issai Issaka was photographed raging against a YouTube clip in 2012.

Aussie Muslim who will not stand in court receives accommodation

"A man accused of rioting during last year's violent Muslim protests has been berated for his 'disrespect' after refusing to stand before a magistrate at his court hearing," Australia's Daily Telegraph reports. Mohammed Issai Issaka — whose response to the anti-Islam video Innocence of Muslims allegedly included kicking and punching police officers' shields, "hissing" at police dogs, resisting arrest, and referring to a policewoman as "filth" — maintained that his Muslim faith prevents him from rising as typically required. Magistrate Jacqueline Milledge expressed annoyance, but the dispute ended in pusillanimous surrender nonetheless: Issaka was allowed to wait outside the courtroom while everyone else stood, after which he rejoined the hearing.

As documented by IW in 2012, Muslims increasingly enjoy procedural accommodations in Western courts. Indeed, the Australian case parallels a capitulation three years ago in which an English judge permitted Islamist defendants, who had insisted that rising for anyone but Allah would constitute a sin, to enter the courtroom after she did. The judge explained that she had not wanted to set a precedent by citing them for contempt, but caving sets its own precedent. In the words of a Daily Telegraph editorial about Issaka, special treatment for Muslims is a "deeply concerning step towards separate legal systems. … Like Issaka himself, this cannot stand."

David J. Rusin


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