Saturday, September 14, 2013

Israel’s Twenty-Year Nightmare - The Horror of the Oslo Accords

by Caroline Glick

Oslo victims-thumb-470x320-3132

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.
Twenty years ago today, Israel’s so-called peace process with the PLO was officially ushered in at the White House Rose Garden.

A year or so later, when the death toll of Israeli victims of the massive terror offensive that the PLO organized shortly afterwards reached what then seemed unbearable heights, a popular call went out to “Put the Oslo Criminals on Trial.”

Needless to say, with Shimon Peres, the architect and godfather of the so-called peace process now serving as the President of Israel, nothing ever came of the call.

The demand for an accounting was not unprecedented. There was no reason, on the face of things for those who made it to be perceived as anything other than reasonably enraged, and responsible citizens insisting that those responsible for the largest, most destructive strategic error Israel has ever made pay a personal price for their actions.

Twenty years before that ceremony at the White House, Israel suffered the worst military defeat in its history.

Israel did win the Yom Kippur War, in the end. It was a sloppy, painful, tragic and costly win. Victory owed to tactical errors by the Syrians; to the unbelievable heroism, and dogged determination exhibited by the IDF’s junior officer corps and line soldiers, particularly on the Golan Heights; and to the emergency resupply of war materiel Israel received midway through the war from the United States.

Just as was the case twenty years later, when Israelis (having been introduced to the suicide bomber), decided their leaders had betrayed them; following the Yom Kippur War, the demobilized soldiers, the bereaved families and the general public demanded an accounting from the senior political leaders and the IDF brass that had led them down the vicious, deadly garden path.

After the Yom Kippur War, their demand was answered. The Agranat Commission was formed. And heads rolled. The prime minister, defense minister and IDF chief of general staff were all booted out. Other senior IDF commanders were relieved of their duties. And they deserved what they got.

And just to make sure we remember how ill-served we were by our leaders forty years ago, every year around Yom Kippur, the media gives an open mike to every maudlin, angry, and indignant story they can find. Every year new documentaries are produced. Every year, new books are published. And for the most part, they are interesting and worthwhile.

Nothing even vaguely resembling the now forty year-long accounting Israel has experienced with regard to the Yom Kippur War has occurred in relation to the so-called peace process with the Palestinians that is now twenty years old. No commission of inquiry was convened. No heads have rolled.

No television station has broadcast a serious documentary explaining the price Israel has paid on any level for a mistake that has cost us so dearly on every level. No one has given belated tribute to the millions of Israelis who foresaw the disaster that would befall us if we recognized the PLO.

And foresee it they did. And oppose it, they did. More than two million Israelis – or nearly half the country’s Jewish population in the early 1990s, and a third of the current Jewish population, have actively opposed the so-called Oslo accords and what followed.

As a portion of Israel’s population, the number of Israelis who took part in protests against the so-called peace process comprised the largest protest movement in history.

The public foresaw what was eminently foreseeable. Renowned intellectuals and decorated military leaders warned that the PLO was a terrorist organization that had no intention of making peace with Israel. They warned that the PLO would use every inch of land Israel transferred to its control as a forward base for terrorism against Israeli civilians. They warned that Yassir Arafat was a liar, a murderer and a Jew hater who would use all powers granted him to murder and legitimize the murder of Israeli civilians.

They warned that he was not interested in the least in establishing a Palestinian state, rather wanted only to oversee the dismemberment and destruction of our state, the Jewish state.

And for the past twenty years, their warnings were borne out by events every single day.

More than fifteen hundred Israelis have been murdered by Palestinian terrorists in the past twenty years. Scores of thousands of Israelis have been wounded or suffered the destruction of their families and their lives.

Diplomatically, Israel has paid an immeasurable price for the abject stupidity of our leaders’ willful blindness to the rank phoniness of the PLO’s commitment to peaceful coexistence with Israel. The glaring obviousness of the danger of accepting the false historical narrative of our sworn enemies on our ability to defend ourselves internationally was so overwhelming that no one even bothered to mention it in the years before the so-called Oslo accord was concluded.

But today, after twenty years of self-induced diplomatic failure has rendered Israeli leaders and representatives incapable of defending the country, it is necessary to explain it.

The PLO falsely claims that the cause for instability and violence in the Middle East is the absence of a Palestinian state in the lands Israel took control over from Jordan and Egypt in the 1967 Six Day War.

Before the inauguration of the so-called peace process, Israel easily defended itself against this libel. After all, the PLO was established in 1964 – three years before Israel took control over Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Its declared purpose was and remains the destruction of Israel, not the establishment of a Palestinian state on some of the territory Israel controls.

The absence of regional peace has nothing at all to do with Israel. It stems from the virulent Jew hatred that is endemic throughout the Islamic world. Due to this hatred Israel’s neighbors seek its destruction. The centrality of their irrational, obsessive desire to seek the eradication of the Jewish people and the Jewish state is the reason there has been no true peace between Israel and its neighbors – including its Palestinian neighbors. And because their hatred is irrational and all-encompassing, there is nothing Israel can do to appease them.

Israel was able to defend itself from the PLO’s lies to great effect before it accepted this terrorist organization as a legitimate actor and so accepted the legitimacy of its duplicitous narrative. But since it did, it has been unable to explain its actions, or increasingly, its right to exist at all. Because if the absence of a Palestinian state in Israel’s heartland, and its capital city is what stands behind all the bad behavior of the Arab world, then everything that Israel does that impinges even marginally on the establishment of such of state is immoral, destabilizing and dangerous.

This is why even Israel’s most skilled diplomats – to the extent they still operate in Israel’s PLO-besotted Foreign Ministry — cannot defend us. This is why a generation of Israeli leaders have zero to show for their efforts to defend this country. They are trapped in a policy discourse that is founded on anti-Israel lies.

Then there is our alliance with the United States. To legitimize the single most destructive action ever undertaken by an Israeli government, the Rabin-Peres government approached the Clinton administration and asked it to sponsor this objectively insane policy, strenuously opposed by half the country.

Bill Clinton was happy to oblige them. But once the Americans were on board, and placed US prestige behind a policy which, based as it was on lies, had no chance of success, Israel could not walk away.

Once the Americans supported a policy that half of the public – and now two-thirds of the public – opposed, Washington necessarily found itself siding with an ever shrinking minority of Israelis against the majority of the public. Consequently for the past twenty years, US decision makers have backed policies that have become progressively more anti-Israel.

From a domestic perspective, the phony peace process has taken an enormous toll on Israeli society and democracy. To defend such a move so strenuously and reasonably opposed by such a large portion of the public it was necessary to marginalize the public. And so we were subjected to a systematic effort to purge and discredit dissident voices from the senior and later junior ranks of the IDF, from the Foreign Ministry, (although Peres had done much of the work pruning responsible voices out of the  ministry in the previous decade), and from the Justice Ministry.

Responsible opponents in the public square were castigated as extremists and enemies of peace, little different from terrorists. A new vocabulary to hide reality – like calling terror victims, victims of peace – was invented.

Four times over the past twenty years – in 1994, 1995, 2000 and 2005 – the peace processors brought Israeli society to the brink of collapse. Lawful demonstrators and political activists – including minor children – were criminalized, and often jailed and put on trial for their civil disobedience. The corruption of Israel’s legal system, which applies laws unequally to various members of the public, depending on their political views was a direct outcome of Israel’s decision twenty years ago to embrace the PLO.

For the past twenty years, the party most responsible for Israel’s continued abidance by a strategy that has brought us nothing but disaster is the media. The reason that Peres was elected to the presidency rather than put out to pasture like Golda Meir is because the media lionized him as the greatest statesman of all time.

The reason that once in office non-leftist leaders embrace the positions of the radical Left, ignore the public, block every attempt to correct the damage that the Oslo accords have wrought, and embark on a new path is because they are no match for Channel 2 and all the rest.

Our media outlets run a constant stream of post-Zionist propaganda that has reduced our elected representatives’ field of action to the size of a postage stamp. They ignore knowledgeable, well-spoken representatives of the majority. They regularly invite cognitively and aesthetically challenged nationalists to their studios to embarrass into silence the majority of viewers who share their opinions. Zionists are hired to high-profile but powerless positions to make the public feel uncomfortable about complaining that its views have no voice in the media.

Today the Obama administration plumbs the depths of strategic dysfunction. The Arab world empowers the most dangerous elements in country after country. The European Union treats Israel as a greater international outlaw than Iran, North Korea or Syria. Anti-Israel indoctrination is the norm on university campuses throughout the Western world. A new generation is coming of age that has never heard the truth about the Jewish state.

To contend with all this, the single most important step Israel must take is to end our twenty year nightmare with the PLO. As long as it continues, we will remain incapable of defending ourselves.

Caroline Glick


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

Israel Sobered By Syria Debacle

by P. David Hornik



Saturday marks Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar and, this year, the 40th anniversary of the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War, the greatest trauma in Israeli history.

On the morning of October 6, 1973—the day on which Yom Kippur fell that year—Chief of Staff David Elazar met with Prime Minister Golda Meir and Defense Minister Moshe Dayan to warn that the Egyptian and Syrian armies were about to attack Israel. Elazar urged a preemptive strike; six years earlier, in the Six-Day War, Israel’s preemptive strike had proved highly effective.

But Meir and Dayan, who were under heavy pressure from U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger not to preempt, overruled the chief of staff. The result was near-catastrophic as later that day the Egyptian and Syrian armies attacked first and took battlefield advantages while inflicting heavy casualties.

Israel was able to turn the tide and, with the help of a massive U.S. airlift, prevail. But the price was almost 2700 casualties and a country shocked, depressed, and shaken to its roots.
It all comes back with added force as Israel faces a new year (on the Jewish calendar) with Iran closer than ever to crossing the nuclear threshold. The question—now as then—is how much to work in synch with the U.S. and how much—and at what point—to take matters in one’s own hands.

Israel Hayom reports:
Ever since U.S. President Barack Obama surprised the world by seeking congressional approval for a military strike on Syria, concerns have grown among Israeli government officials in Jerusalem about a decline of America’s status in the Middle East and the implications for Iran’s nuclear program. No Israeli spokesperson has made an official statement on the issue….
On Wednesday, though, addressing a graduation ceremony for navy cadets, both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon made statements that have been taken as implicitly critical of Obama’s confused, dithering approach to the Syrian chemical-weapons issue.

Netanyahu, invoking a “rule” from the ancient Jewish sage Hillel, said:
It…must be ensured that the Syrian regime will be disarmed of its chemical weapons, and the world needs to make certain that those who use weapons of mass destruction will pay the price for it. The message that Syria receives will be clearly heard in Iran.
Today, the rule that has guided me in most of my actions as prime minister and to which I adhere very carefully is perhaps more valid than ever. If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If we are not for ourselves, who will be for us? And the practical translation of this rule is that Israel will always be able to defend itself by itself against any threat.
Yaalon said in a similar vein:
We don’t know how the Egyptian revolution will end or how Iran’s race toward nuclear weapons will be stopped. We don’t yet know how the free world will act in light of the massacres in Syria. We are monitoring events and developments responsibly and with sound judgment, with the understanding that ultimately we must rely on ourselves, on our strength and our deterrent capability.
Since at least the start of Netanyahu’s previous prime ministerial term in 2009, the Israeli top echelons have been bitterly riven by a debate over whether or not to trust Washington and the “international community” to handle the Iranian nuclear issue.

Reportedly, when Netanyahu and his then defense minister, Ehud Barak, ordered the defense establishment to prepare a plan to attack Iran, the defense establishment balked and, in effect, refused—and particularly the then Mossad chief, Shin Bet (domestic security) chief, and chief of staff.

After stepping down, former Mossad chief Meir Dagan and former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin went public (for instance, here and here, respectively) with ridicule for Netanyahu and Barak’s hawkishness on the Iranian issue amid assurances that Israel could rely on President Obama and the “international community.”

Although Dagan and Diskin are quiet these days, one wonders if they still feel so sure after Obama’s bungling of the Syrian issue, the British Parliament’s ringing slap to Prime Minister David Cameron, and the “international community’s” usual gullible quest for an easy “solution”—possibly Russian president Vladimir Putin’s patently unworkable idea for Syria to give up its chemical stockpiles.

Jerusalem needs to stay mindful of the Yom Kippur War precedent and of the fact that, after the last two weeks, the chances of the West posing a “credible threat” to Tehran are lower than ever.

P. David Hornik


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Barry Rubin: Russia-Iran Axis Gets Access

by Barry Rubin

The original supposed intent of this whole Syria exercise–punishing Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons–achieved zero. In fact,  it backfired.
Was this a pay-off for the Putin-Syria deal to get Iran to agree? Is it an advantage the Kremlin grabbed to show Russia can do anything it wants now? If so it was a heavy one indeed. Pay close attention.
Russian media reported Moscow is selling Iran five batteries of S-300 missiles for $700 million. The sale was frozen three years ago when the UN put on sanctions. Russia will probably claim the weapons are for defense.
And of course it is for defense, presuming Iran needs to defend a nuclear reactor or missile bases from Israel.
This step tightens the Iran-Russia alliance, presumably a way to make Iran feel more secure as it backs Syria. Russia may also have made an agreement to build a second nuclear reactor in Bushehr.
 “Russian credibility is not in question,”  my colleague Dr. Jonathan Spyer pointed out, American credibility is in question.

“The Russian weapons lifeline to the dictator is buzzing with increased activity,” Spyer continues, The arms ships that make their way from the Ukrainian port of Oktabyrsk have increased in number in recent weeks, shipping analysts say. They are bringing the vital spare parts for Assad’s planes and tanks.”
But there’s more.

In other words Russia-Iran alliance is stronger; America is weaker; Syria is more secure though it is still a very long way to win the civil war. But Iran—where the Obama Administration is cutting the sanctions—is more powerful and further away from any effective containment.
Here is Ammar Abdulhamid who is an honorable and  sincere Syrian supporter of moderate rebels but knows he isn’t finding any:
”So the Russians have put on the table a plan whose implementation requires thousands of peacekeepers and experts working together over a period of several years to dismantle Assad’s chemical supplies and production capabilities. In practice, this requires cessation of all hostilities by all parties, in other words, an end to the civil war."
“End the civil war and the Russian plan can work. But how do we end the civil war? Well, how about a limited strike against Assad’s military and security establishment to convince him to cease hostilities? There you go, we’re back where we started: in order to make Russia’s plan work we need to strike Assad, and in order to strike Assad, we need an American President who is willing to do it and does not go into convulsions each time we get to this point.”
I unforunately don’t agree with Abdulhamid but I would if he had got the moderate opposition he wanted.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth O’Bagy who became famous overnight by being quoted as the rationale for saying Syrian rebels are moderates by Kerry, McCain and Washington Post and Wall Street Journal was fired by her pro-rebel lobbying group for faking her PhD
Turns out she DID lie about her PhD  BUT they had to get rid of her without pointing to the real scandal that the Syrian rebels are not moderate.
 Did anyone learn anything? Again, they really fired her for embarrassment because it showed that State Department just bought intelligence it wanted– saying Syrian rebels are moderate–by Kerry, McCain, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal.  A few months earlier she said the opposite.
The real issue–they are lying and faking intelligence–became disguised as a technical issue.
Published on PJMedia

Barry Rubin


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Dangerous Times: Putin the Peacemaker vs. Obama the Warmonger

by James Lewis

President Obama has now sabotaged four decades of stability in the Middle East.  First he pulled down the biggest pillar of peace, the Mubarak regime in Egypt; then he bombed Libya into the Dark Ages; and now he has paraded "My Army"  and "My Navy" against the Assad regime in Syria, which is just as evil as the rebels. 

The one thing Obama has never faced honestly is what everybody knows to be the real threat -- namely mullahs with nukes.

In the strangest twist of history, it is Obama the radical leftist who is now acting as the destabilizing warmonger in the Middle East, while Vladimir Putin may be emerging as a stabilizing  peacemaker.

Nobody can figure out whether Obama is the most hapless bumbler in history, or whether there is some sinister purpose behind it all.

It could be both.

But just as big a surprise is Putin's emerging role as a peacemaker.

Last week, we saw the first step in that process, when Putin and Assad agreed to allow supervised surrender of Syria's chemical weapons.  We can assume that Putin also assured Assad of his continuing support against American-supported al-Qaeda rebels, which makes the rebellion unwinnable.

Meanwhile, Egypt's new military ruler, General Al Sisi, is reaching out to Putin to help stabilize his position against the Muslim Brotherhood, the war fanatics whom Obama has been aiding.

The Saudis, seeing Iranian mullahs with nukes emerging 50 miles from their shores, are also looking to make a deal with Putin.  They have a lot of oil and money, and they cannot trust their American ally anymore.

If America bugs out, Russia is the obvious nuclear protector for the Saudis.  In international affairs, survival comes first.

Last year, Vladimir Putin paid a friendly visit to Israel, meeting with the Israeli cabinet in Jerusalem.

In the Syrian confrontation, Putin sent five warships to the Eastern Med, just as we did.  Those naval ships are not up to U.S. standards, but nobody wants to see a clash of the titans.  It's a no-win situation.

Finally, Russia may be the only nation that can scare the bejesus out of the mullahs.  The reason for that is very simple: Putin does not make idle threats.  Every single day for more than thirty years the mullahs have been chanting, "Death to Israel!  Death to America!"

But they never chant "Death to Russia!" because under Tsar Vladimir Putin, they are afraid to do so.  Putin can a very nasty enemy, with far more power than the mullahs have.

Putin can therefore wield more real power in the Middle East than Obama.

Look at his chips: he can threaten Iran, which nobody else dares to do with real credibility.  He can offer protection to Saudi Arabia, scared to death of Iran, only 50 miles away from Mecca and Medina.  He can supply Assad with all the weapons he needs to stay in power, just as long as the United States is willing to support the al-Qaeda rebels against Assad.  And he has no particular beef with Israel.  Putin is therefore a source of stability, not random overthrow of stable regimes.

America's decline as a serious international power goes directly to our failure to find a serious answer to mullahs with nukes.  That lack of seriousness started with Jimmy Carter, and it got much worse with Obama.  The Bushes kept respect for America alive in the Middle East, which respects only hard power.  But Obama, Carter, and Clinton sabotaged us and even surrendered to militant Islamists.

Russia is now the strong horse, and we are the weak horse.

Our weakness is not in our military, which is still the best in the world.

Our weakness is in our lack of political will under Democratic presidents.  We are unreliable in a harsh world that can't afford to risk flabby American presidents every four years.

Putin knows all about pushover liberals.  He rose in the Soviet KGB to become the head of the East German arm of Soviet intelligence.  The Soviets studied Western politics and penetrated West Germany at the highest levels of government.  Our Democrats are useful idiots in Lenin's meaning of that term, and they are not mysterious to Putin.  They can be rolled.  To hardnosed KGB thugs they are ridiculously easy to manipulate.

That makes Vladimir Putin potentially the most powerful player in the Middle East.  If the Saudis come to an arrangement with him, he can protect them against Iran.  One possibility is for the Saudis to coordinate oil prices with Russia, to their mutual benefit.

Putin is a Russian nationalist, like the tsars.  Russian rulers have long been nationalistic tyrants.  The tsars were also the heads of the Russian Orthodox Church, in exactly the way Queen Elizabeth is still the titular head of the Church of England.  The Tsars were religious tyrants.

If you google "Putin + Patriarch of Moscow," you'll get 360,000 hits, including fabulous news photos of Vladimir Putin kissing the ring of the patriarch, surrounded by those golden baubles they inherited from the Byzantine Empire.  Look at those pictures, and you see Putin the tsar.

In Russian legend, even Ivan the Terrible ended up confessing his sins to the Orthodox Church.  Putin is playing a role going back five centuries and more.

Russia needs a unifying ideology, and if it's not Communism, it has to be its ancient form of orthodox Christianity.  The Soviets tried to extirpate the Orthodox Church for seventy years and failed. 

To understand Putin the Peacemaker, consider two more facts.

1. Historically, all the Orthodox Christian churches were shaped by more than a thousand years of warfare against Muslim aggressors.  Putin does not have to learn about Muslim aggression -- unlike Obama, who can't seem to get what everybody else understands.  When Muslim terrorists attacked a full theater in Moscow and an elementary school in Beslan, Putin took a terrible revenge in Chechnya.  The liberal media never covered that war, but you can look it up.  Muslims fear Putin.  He takes no prisoners.

2. Like the English royals, the Russian tsars styled themselves as the protectors of Christians in their own country and abroad.  When Putin therefore expresses official Russian concern about vicious Muslim persecution of Christians in the Middle East, this is not just a shrewd political move.  It is also a signal that everybody understands.  The Orthodox Churches have ancient ties to Jerusalem, Damascus, and Istanbul, to name just three famous capital cities.

Putin is therefore adopting a traditional Russian approach to the world.  He is a realist who plays big-power politics.

Putin cannot tolerate a Muslim fascist regime with a nuclear martyrdom complex.  Putin knows about suicide bombers.  Chechen suiciders were involved in two great terrorist disasters at the beginning of his rule, the Beslan elementary school massacre and the Moscow theater massacre.  Putin can't doubt the danger of Muslim suiciders, unlike American leftists who keep trying to pretend that reality isn't what it is.

Vladimir Putin therefore knows in his very bones what Obama doesn't know: that suiciders with nukes are not acceptable.

Obama's pro-Muslim policies have to be driving the Kremlin  batty these days.  What is with this American president?  The Russians can understand American leaders acting in our national interest.  They can't figure out why this president seems to be empowering our sworn fanatical enemies: radical Sunnis in Arabia and radical Shi'ites in Iran.

Twelve years after 9/11/01, how dumb can these Americans be?

Iran is the only Muslim nation that has come unharmed out of the last five years of Obama.  That fabulous Arab Spring never spread to Iran, which needs a spring cleaning much more than Syria, Libya, and Egypt.  None of those Arab nations threatened the peace of the world.  Iran does so every single day.

History is full of amazing twists and turns.  The fall of the Soviet Union came as a surprise.  The takeover of America by the radical left was a surprise.  The miraculous coincidence of Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II came as a surprise.  The Islamist-radical left alliance is still a big surprise, even after five years of Obama.

Nobody expected the rise of Putin's Russia in its old historical role.

In politics, surprise is the rule.

James Lewis


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

Spain: Jihadists Threaten Catalonia over Burqa Ban

by Soeren Kern

It remains to be seen whether Catalonia will succeed in reframing the debate over burqas as an issue of public safety rather than one of freedom of religion.

A jihadist group affiliated with Al Qaeda has threatened to carry out terrorist attacks in Catalonia, an autonomous region in northeastern Spain that is home to the largest concentration of radical Islamists in Europe.

The threats were issued by a group called "Africamuslima" in response to efforts by Catalonian lawmakers to increase surveillance of radical Salafists seeking to impose Islamic Sharia law in Spain and other parts of Europe.

Catalonia -- a region of 7.5 million people centered on the Mediterranean city of Barcelona -- is home to the largest Muslim population in Spain. Most of the estimated 450,000 Muslims in Catalonia are from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia.

Many of the Muslims living in Catalonia are shiftless single males who are unemployed and "susceptible to jihadist recruitment," according to diplomatic cables obtained by Wikileaks and published by the Madrid-based El País newspaper.

Spanish authorities are especially concerned about the threat posed by Salafism, a radical strain of Islam that seeks to re-establish an Islamic empire [Caliphate] across the Middle East, North Africa and Spain, which Salafists view as a Muslim state that must be reconquered for Islam.

Spain's National Intelligence Center [CNI] says Catalonia is home to hundreds and possibly thousands of Salafists who, according to intelligence experts, pose the greatest threat to Spain's national security.

Catalan officials recently have redoubled efforts to improve surveillance of Salafist groups in the region.

On August 27, it emerged that Catalan police (known locally as the Mossos d'Esquadra) have been conducting a "census" to identify and register Muslim women who wear Islamic body-covering burqas and face-covering niqabs.

According to local media reports, the Catalan Interior Minister, Ramon Espadaler -- based on the belief that these garments may constitute an indicator of the spread of Salafism in Catalonia -- has ordered members of the Mossos to file a report every time they see a burqa or niqab.

Espadaler said the effort involves creating a "list of indicators that could point us to radicalization processes." He warned that there is a "target risk" of radicalization in Muslim areas in Catalonia, and made it clear that the collection of data on burqas and niqabs is part of the requirement that the Mossos "remain vigilant."

Catalan government spokesman Francesc Homs defended the move; he said that police have an obligation to "know what is going on."

On July 18, the Catalan Parliament approved a draft law that would ban the wearing of face-coverings such as the Muslim burqa or niqab in all public spaces. The proposed ban is set to become an integral part of a new Law on Pubic Spaces that will be presented to the Parliament in early 2014.

Women wear the niqab face covering under the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. The French government has banned the wearing of the face-covering burqa and niqab in public.

In an effort to avoid being accused of singling out Muslims, the Catalan Interior Ministry has sought to frame the proposed burqa ban within the context of public safety. As a result, it has extended the proposed ban to prohibit the wearing of all forms of face coverings, including masks and motorcycle helmets, within public buildings.

In February 2013, the Spanish Supreme Court ruled that a municipal ordinance banning the wearing of Islamic burqas in public spaces was unconstitutional.

In its 56-page ruling, the Madrid-based Tribunal Supremo said the Catalan city of Lérida exceeded its authority when it imposed a burqa ban in December 2010.

The court further said the ban on burqas "constitutes a limitation to the fundamental right to the exercise of the freedom of religion, which is guaranteed by the Spanish constitution." The court added that the limitation of a fundamental right can only be achieved through laws at the national level, not through local ordinances.

The decision, which the court said addressed a "profoundly political problem," represented a significant victory for Muslims in Spain. Although it is unclear how many women actually wear the burqa there, the ruling denoted a step forward in the continuing efforts to establish Islam as a mainstream religious and political system in Spain.

It remains to be seen whether Catalonia will succeed in its effort to circumvent the Supreme Court ruling by reframing the debate over burqas as an issue of public safety rather than one of freedom of religion.

The proposed burqa ban has already drawn the ire of Salafi jihadists, who are determined to quash any resistance to the rise of Islam in Spain.

In a three-page document dated August 28, Africamuslima -- a little-known jihadist group with links to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb -- rebukes "the Nazi gestures of the Catalan government" and warns that moves to "scapegoat Muslims for Catalonia's institutional and economic failures" by regulating the burqa "will not remain without a response."

"We note the history of hatred and mistreatment of the Muslim community in Catalonia on the part of the government and its goons [Mossos]," the document states. "We have been following the situation in hopes that things would change. However, the only thing we have observed is an increase in the mistreatment of the Muslim community that is without equal in all of Europe."

The document posits a series of rhetorical questions: "Democracy? And they [the Catalan authorities] want to interfere in the way in which women dress? What will be next? The establishment of concentration camps for Muslims who refuse to wear the types of clothing dictated by the Catalan government?"

Africamuslima then lists five specific complaints, including the "denial of permits for the construction of mosques," "the indiscriminate detention of Muslims," "the institutional and financial support for organizations promoting a Nazi ideology with the clear objective to intimidate the Muslim community," "the exclusion of [unemployed] Muslims from the public health and social welfare system," and "the exclusion of Muslim children from meal voucher benefits [in public schools]."

Some of these complaints refer to economic austerity measures in Catalonia that have dramatically restricted the availability of social welfare benefits -- including free meal vouchers in public schools -- to Spanish families across the board, regardless of race or religion.

The document concludes by urging Catalan media, as well as Catalan political and cultural elites, to "distance themselves from the incendiary, racist and xenophobic discourse" that is promoting "fear of the other."

Africamuslima warns that "blaming Muslims will not solve your [economic] problems but will bring you misfortune." It adds that "any action taken against Muslim women will be met with a response against Catalan interests both inside of and outside of Catalonia."

The text is signed by an individual calling himself Karim Al-Maghribi, who, because of his knowledge of the social issues of the region, Spanish intelligence analysts believe may be living inside Catalonia.

Ramon Espadaler, the Catalan Interior Minister, says the proposed burqa ban has nothing to do with "religious issues. It is not a general prohibition. That would lead us nowhere and we would be infringing on fundamental rights." He added: "We want to be sensitive…we want a careful, subtle and clear debate to find a consensus."

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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'Then, as now, we Stand Tall'

by Lilach Shoval, Shlomo Cesana and Israel Hayom Staff

IDF chief Gantz: "Remember our legacy, and honor those whose sacrifice allowed you to be here today -- Israel's fallen soldiers" • Defense Minister Ya'alon: I do not think Israel was facing an existential threat during the Yom Kippur War.

IDF forces in the Sinai Peninsula during the Yom Kippur War in 1973
Photo credit: Ministry of Defense

Lilach Shoval, Shlomo Cesana and Israel Hayom Staff


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Losing the Middle East to Putin Isn’t Victory

by Jonathan S. Tobin

Give Andrew Sullivan some credit. Unlike other supporters of President Obama, he isn’t trying to spin defeat as victory this week. At least he’s not doing it in the way the administration is trying to sell it to the American public. Most liberals are trying to pretend the president’s acceptance of Russia’s bogus offer to negotiate the surrender of Assad’s chemical-weapons stockpile is a sign of U.S. strength, or at least offers the possibility of a diplomatic escape from a conflict in Syria few Americans want any part of. But such transparent deceptions and spin are not for the proprietor of the Daily Dish. Instead, Sullivan believes Obama’s surrender of American influence in the Middle East is actually a good thing. Rather than pretending that Putin’s end zone dance in the New York Times yesterday was meaningless, he thinks the Russian authoritarian’s triumphant mood is good for American national interests and bad for those of Russia.

The problem with this formulation isn’t just that the United States has important national security interests in the Middle East (a point President Obama made clear in his speech this past Tuesday) and that abandoning Israel or disregarding the human-rights aspect of letting Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies win undermines them. What’s most absurd about Sullivan’s rant is his profound misunderstand of how much Russia has to gain and how little it has to lose in taking ownership of the Middle East.

Sullivan says a situation that he concedes looks like “national humiliation” for the U.S. is “good” because it avoids American involvement in more wars or even having responsibility for anything that happens there. If this withdrawal from the region winds up hurting our allies in the vicinity (especially Israel, for which Sullivan has a well-known distaste), then so much the worse for them. Any concern about the human-rights situation in Syria is mere emotionalism, as Sullivan brusquely told a distraught Christiane Amanpour on CNN last night when she had the temerity to point out Obama’s retreat meant that the body count of the victims of Russia’s ally Assad would continue to grow. Any dissent from this line is, Sullivan tells us, mere neocon dreaming about U.S. hegemony.

The writer thinks the Middle East should be lost. Putin is, he says, welcome to it, something that would allow the U.S. to concentrate on Asia and “entrenching universal healthcare” at home. Given the disastrous impact of the ObamaCare rollout on the economy, it’s doubtful doing so would help the president sell an expansion of the unpopular program. Nor does Sullivan seem to have too many ideas about how the diversion to Asia would help contain the nuclear lunatics of North Korea or fend off an aggressive China. But if he really thinks Russia’s rout of the U.S. in the Middle East would not impact its ability to exercise influence elsewhere, he’s as crazy as he is callous.

The argument is that Russia’s ownership of the Syrian conflict will wind up hurting them because it is more trouble than they can handle and the chemical weapons will wind up in the hands of Islamists who will wind up using them on Putin’s people. But what Russia is after in this gambit isn’t administration of Syria; it’s ensuring that their sole ally in the region stays in power. He won’t be caught between the warring parties since the Russian diplomatic track will enable Assad (with the assistance of Iran and Hezbollah) to take care of such details. The guiding principle of Russian foreign policy is twofold: annoy, humiliate, and defeat the United States every chance they get and thereby help rebuild the lost Soviet empire whose fall Putin still mourns. Russian adventurism in Syria won’t stop there. It will extend into Asia and cause havoc and diminish American influence there and everywhere else.

This Brezhnev-style diplomacy should also inform our view of the Kremlin’s relationship with its partners in keeping Assad afloat. The assumption has always been that Russia has as much to fear from a nuclear Iran as the West. But just as the Soviets didn’t worry much about blowback from their support of Arab terrorism in the ’70s, Putin doesn’t waste much time with concern about how the U.S. retreat he has helped engineer will encourage Iran and its terrorist auxiliaries. He rightly thinks their prime target will always be the U.S. and Israel. Iran didn’t bat an eye or protest when Putin slaughtered Muslims in Chechnya in the 1990s and he doesn’t think they will cause him any trouble in the future.

Contrary to Sullivan’s invocation of Nicolo Machiavelli’s praise of deception in a ruler, Obama’s humiliation is not a façade for a strategic retreat. Influence and prestige are fungible commodities for a great power. Even if we bought Sullivan’s idiotic premise that the U.S. no longer has any interests in the Middle East, American decline along these lines cannot be contained. An America that abandons a key region to a vicious rival and stands by impotently while atrocities that could be prevented are allowed to continue will not be able to magically resurrect its influence elsewhere.

As false as the justifications offered by most other liberals for President Obama’s lack of leadership are, they are still more connected to reality than Sullivan’s formulation. Sullivan would have us believe that defeat is really victory. But the president knows that abandoning the Middle East to Putin would be a catastrophe and therefore he and his cheering section deny that this is what he is doing. As bad as Obama’s performance has been, at least he recognizes that America has interests that must be defended. He just lacks the will or the skill to defend them. Sullivan claims these defects are virtues. It’s hard to tell which position is more risible. 
Jonathan S. Tobin


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