Saturday, October 19, 2013

Meanwhile, on Al Jazeera America …

by Tom Thurlow


It has been almost two months since Al Jazeera America (AJA), the American outlet of Qatar-based news network Al Jazeera, debuted in the U.S. Viewers of the network note its impressive graphics and lack of commercials, a welcomed change of pace compared to most cable news in the States. The network also employs a host of familiar faces that help bolster AJA’s image as just another news network. It remains to be seen just how radical AJA will let its coverage becomes once it grows more assured of its acceptance into the mainstream. Already AJA’s Sunni sponsors have let the mask slip.

Despite a petition drive to exclude AJA from cable distribution, AJA’s coverage is definitely on the rise.  Last spring and summer, AJA went on a hiring spree, hiring producers, writers, technicians, and hundreds of other staffers.  AJA also snapped up big news names like Joie Chen, David Shuster and Soledad O’Brien, and then opened 12 American bureau offices.  Broadcasting began August 20.

Of course, AJA is not just another news network.  AJA’s parent company, Al Jazeera, is owned by the government of Qatar, the tiny, oil-rich, Sunni Muslim state in the Persian Gulf, bordering Saudi Arabia.  Qatar is ruled by Shiekh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who, despite his personal business dealings with Israel, is pro-Hamas, pro-Muslim Brotherhood and anti-Israel.  Al Jazeera’s news coverage has reflected those views.

In fact, Al Jazeera is so pro-Muslim Brotherhood it recently got kicked out of Egypt for instigating Muslim Brotherhood protests there.  In 2008, Al Jazeera’s Beirut bureau chief threw an on-air birthday party for Samir Kuntar, convicted killer of an Israeli family.

Americans learned to hate Al Jazeera in the days after 9-11, when Al Jazeera first repeated the charge that American Jews were warned beforehand of the attacks in New York, then repeatedly broadcast interviews of Osama bin Laden.  Al Jazeera has even described the War on Terror as “so-called,” and suicide bombings as “paradise operations.”

Through the years Al Jazeera has had on-air personalities who were blatantly anti-Semitic.  One popular Al Jazeera show, “Shari’a and Life,” features a host who regularly criticizes Shiites, Americans and Jews.

During the height of the Iraqi war years, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld described Al Jazeera as “the mouthpiece of Al Qaeda,” while President George W. Bush referred to Al Jazeera as “a terrorist organization.” Upon the initial invasion of Afghanistan and later in Iraq, US military forces bombed local Al Jazeera offices because of the support they had given terrorists.

Now that AJA is on the air in the US, Americans will get to judge for themselves if AJA will be an independent news network covering news items important to Americans, or if AJA possesses the dispositions of its parent company.

While the network’s foreign news coverage is acceptable, the viewer gets the feeling that AJA is “up to something” whenever the news involves Israel, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, or the Mideast in general.

Take for example the network’s coverage of the civil war in Syria.  A Pew study revealed that most of the Syrian coverage by AJA was similar to most other American networks, but AJA spent much more time covering the humanitarian aspects of the story and the hardships of the rebels.  And no wonder – Qatar has funded the rebels.

In its domestic news coverage, AJA is clearly left-leaning.  Typical of a pattern, in a recent day’s news broadcast, President Obama is shown speaking and blaming Republicans for the government shut-down, then the GOP response was only paraphrased in passing by the show’s anchor.

Strictly as a marketing issue, this liberal domestic news slant puts AJA in the same crowded category as most other American news channels, like ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, NPR and MSNBC, leaving Fox News alone in the right-of-center TV news coverage.  Granted, AJA is only weeks old, but so far it is positioning its domestic news coverage in a pretty crowded field.

One recent episode of an in-depth news talk show on AJA, “The Stream,” revealed a definite anti-Israeli bias.  The episode addressed the issue of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and how to get Israel to discuss peace.  Special guests included members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), which is a scandal in and of itself. The ISM is an organization, not of peace activists, but of para-militants who actively work with Palestinian terrorists and who call for armed force against Israel. ISM activists protect weapons-smuggling tunnels and have been photographed with assault weapons. Another group on the show calling itself Combatants For Peace (CFP) equates Israeli soldiers with Palestinian “combatants” (i.e. terrorists).  Neither the CFP nor ISM’s websites acknowledges Israel’s right to exist, even with defensible borders.  The Stream even included a former Israeli soldier, who complained of Israeli aggression against Palestinians.  He was probably trying to be Israel’s version of John Kerry, circa 1971.

The show featured furrowed brows and hand-wringing about how to get “both sides to stop talking past each other,” and how to “open a dialogue.”  A stream of viewer tweets across the bottom of the screen confirmed that the viewers were of the same mindset.  There was also some talk of “Israel’s occupation” and the need to boycott Israel’s products in order to foster peace talks.

AJA also maintains a website to supplement its on-air overage.  Recently, the website reported on a study that calculated the number of deaths from the Iraqi war to be over 500,000, dramatically higher than estimates from most other studies.  The website also included a letter from an inmate and hunger-striker at Guantanamo, complaining of the force-feeding he has to endure to keep him alive.  Poor guy!

So what is a news-watcher to do?  When it comes to foreign news coverage, most of the important news involves Middle East matters, a subject where AJA is pretty biased. For domestic news, so far AJA’s coverage is similar to the coverage of several other networks.

But beyond these questions, what is the point of Al Jazeera even coming to America?  Why would the Emir of Qatar go through the hassle and expense?  One theory could be that AJA is some sort of pan-Arab pride project.  And it is true that most significant regions of the world have at least one major news network.  Some have also speculated that AJA is just a vanity project on the part of the Emir of Qatar, which is possible.

One other theory, and it is speculative but worth pondering, is that AJA may be getting into the American mainstream, slowly getting accepted, so that if there is another 9-11, a war involving Israel, or some other mass terrorist event, AJA will be there to share its pro-Al Qaeda or anti-Israel side to American viewers.  Kind of an “embedded news network,” ready to propagandize at a moment’s notice. Given Al Jazeera’s past loyalties to Al Qaeda and positions against the US and Israel, it is certainly possible.

When Al Gore sold Current TV to Al Jazeera, he is reported to have said that Al Jazeera “gives a voice to those who are not typically heard,” and “speaks truth to power.” Actually, in the event of a war involving Israel or another large-scale terrorist attack against Americans, AJA will be a vehicle for arguing against speaking truth to terrorist powers. It may in fact be terrorized Americans who will be forced to speak truth to AJA.

Tom Thurlow


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

Euros Don’t Care PA Steals Their Money

by Jonathan S. Tobin

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas was in Berlin this week and received the usual reception that he gets in European capitals. German Chancellor Angela Merkel criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, condemned Israeli settlement building and then vowed to continue funneling cash to the PA. The latter point is especially crucial because the PA dependent on European aid. But nowhere in Merkel’s remarks did the question of what exactly the PA does with all the funds poured into its coffers by Germany and the rest of the EU community.

Had she done so, she could have referred to an article in Britain’s Sunday Times that said the European Court of Auditors, the official European Union body monitoring the group’s funds, found that the PA has misspent nearly $3 billion in EU donations during the period covering 2008 to 2012. The audit body said the money was not being used for the purpose for which it was intended and that there were “significant shortcomings” in the PA’s accounts of what it did with the money. In other words, they are now well aware that Abbas and his cronies are robbing them blind just as his predecessor Yasir Arafat did when he ran things in Ramallah.

The question is, why does a nation like Germany, that was rightly prepared to pull the plug on a debt-ridden fellow EU member state like Greece unless they got their fiscal house in order, not care that the Palestinians are stealing their money?

Merkel, who in many ways functions as the financier of the continent, is not as hostile to Israel as many of her European colleagues. But like everyone else in the EU, she thinks nothing of pouring her people’s money down the rat hole of the PA. The reasons for this are not hard to figure out.

The primary reason is the bigotry of low expectations. Like many of those who form the Palestinians’ foreign cheerleaders, the Europeans tend to act as if the PA and its people are not capable of responsible behavior. They believe, perhaps not entirely wrongly, that the only way to persuade the Palestinian people to keep Abbas and the corrupt Fatah in power rather than choosing the Islamists of Hamas is to bribe them. They seem to think them incapable of choosing democracy and good government over violence and terrorism.

It may well be that Abbas and Fatah are better than Hamas but the only way to force them to start using the billions that come into their hands from foreign donors on the Palestinian people is to make them accountable. Abbas, who is in the ninth year of the four-year-term as president to which the Palestinians elected him, depends on the European Union for the money that keeps the PA afloat via no show and no work jobs that spread that portion of the wealth that isn’t pocketed by the Fatah elite around the territories. While former PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad tried to reform the Ramallah government, he never stood a chance against Fatah.

But instead of trying to stop the PA from abusing their people, Germany and the rest of the EU continues to enable them to go on stealing. That’s something they’d never do the Greeks, who were driven hard to cut back on their profligate government in order to be bailed out of bankruptcy by the Germans.

The Palestinian government will never act in a responsible manner until they are forced to. That’s something that probably most ordinary Palestinians would like to see. But because pressure on the PA would be seen as somehow betraying the Palestinian cause or favorable to Israel (which also needs the PA to function), it never happens in a meaningful way.

In the meantime, Germans who care very much how the Greeks spend their money, continue to act as if the Palestinians can do what they like with it. Blaming the Israelis for all of the Palestinians’ woes is popular but it doesn’t come close to diagnosing the real problem. Until that changes, the PA will continue to be not only corrupt, but also a hotbed of potential violence ready to bubble over.

Jonathan S. Tobin


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Rabin was 'Close to Stopping Oslo'

by David M. Weinberg

The 18th anniversary of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's tragic assassination was marked this week with the usual palms and paeans to the Oslo diplomatic process that Rabin undertook. President Shimon Peres, Oslo's father figure, used the opportunity to proclaim that "the only path to peace is the two-state solution. This is Yitzhak's inevitable and ultimate legacy."
But I wonder whether this is true.

Like the majority of Israelis, then and now, Rabin was willing to take risks and give the peace process a chance. But he remained suspicious of his Palestinian partners, skeptical about the outcome, very wary of a full-fledged Palestinian state and insistent on maintaining defensible borders for Israel.

In fact, Rabin may have been close to calling off the Oslo process, according his daughter, Dalia. Three years ago, she told the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronoth (Oct. 1, 2010; summarized in English in Ynet News on Oct. 14, 2010): "Many people who were close to my father told me that on the eve of the murder he considered stopping the Oslo process because of the terror that was running rampant in the streets, and because he felt that Yasser Arafat was not delivering on his promises. Father after all wasn't a blind man running forward without thought. I don't rule out the possibility that he was considering a U-turn, doing a reverse on our side. After all he was someone for whom the national security of the state was sacrosanct and above all."

In his book "The Long Short Way" (Yediot Ahronoth Press, Hebrew, 2008), now-Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon wrote that a few weeks before the assassination, Rabin told Ya'alon (who was then chief of IDF Military Intelligence) that after the next Israeli elections he (Rabin) was "going to set things straight with the Oslo process, because Arafat could no longer be trusted." And this was before the murderous Second Palestinian Intifada.

Professor Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, surmised much the same thing in his award-winning book "Yitzhak Rabin and Israel's National Security" (Washington: Woodrow Wilson Center Press and Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999, pages 149-165): "At the end of 1994, Rabin was very pessimistic about Arafat's performance ... He told the Knesset on October 3, 1994, that '(Arafat's) results up until now have been far from satisfactory -- to use an understatement' ... Rabin's disappointment with the policy, which was not initiated by him but for which he was ultimately responsible, became more and more evident with the passage of time and reflected the public's wary mood toward the peace process ... He did not exclude the possibility that the Oslo agreements might not lead to reconciliation. He was not sure that an agreement on final status issues with the Palestinians could be reached ... Yet he was caught in the dynamics of a process no longer fully under his control ... Rabin wrote in 1979 that 'there is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that the risks of peace are preferable by far to the grim certainties that await every nation in war.' But even when many around him celebrated and were bursting with optimism, he remained the eternal skeptic and pessimist. Only rarely did he project enthusiasm and elation about his political path."

"More often than not," continues Inbar, "Rabin expressed his doubts, his qualms about an uncertain future. He perceived an improved strategic environment containing less chances for existential dangers, but he knew that such military challenges still existed. He was unmoved in the belief that an armed peace was the best to which Israel could aspire in the near future."

In an interview in The Jerusalem Post on Sept. 24, 1995, a month and a half before his assassination, Rabin said that for at least the next 30 years, Israel would have to maintain its military strength and not cut the defense budget.

Inbar recalls that Rabin once said that a Palestinian state would be a "cancer" in the Middle East, and that Rabin often expressed his preference for Jordan as the more responsible partner for securing Israel's eastern border in the long term.

In his famous last speech in the Knesset (on Oct. 5, 1995), a month before his assassination, Rabin specifically distanced himself from Palestinian statehood. "We view a permanent solution [as involving] a Palestinian entity which is less than a state," Rabin pointedly said.

Rabin then rejected the notion of withdrawal to anything approximating the 1967 lines, and dismissed any thought of dividing Jerusalem: "We will not return to the June 4, 1967, lines. The security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of that term." (Rabin meant to include the eastern slopes of the West Bank hills, a 1,200 foot topographical barrier ridge.)

"The responsibility for external security along the borders with Egypt and Jordan, as well as control over the airspace above all of the territories and Gaza Strip maritime zone, will remain in our hands," he averred.

Rabin also ruled out removing any settlement before coming to a full peace agreement with the Palestinians: "We committed ourselves before the Knesset not to uproot a single settlement in the framework of the interim agreement, and not to hinder building for natural growth ... And first and foremost in our concerns is a united Jerusalem, as the capital of Israel, under Israeli sovereignty."

So it's very possible that the ongoing drive to establish a Palestinian state in the grandiose contours envisioned today by the international community and the Israeli Left, and with the malfeasant Palestinian leaders we have today, is not Rabin's true legacy at all. In fact, the use of Rabin's name to support a galloping-forward pro-Palestinian-state peace process is left-wing historical revisionism.

It's rather more likely that Rabin's true legacy is the determination to struggle for peace within secure, defensible, and historically just borders for Israel, without illusions.

It is this less fanciful and more faithful appreciation of Yitzhak Rabin's legacy that is worth honoring and remembering this week.

And it is certainly worth noting, perhaps with a tinge of irony, that today's Benjamin Netanyahu sounds a lot like Yitzhak Rabin of the early 1990s. Shimon Peres of today, with his clap-happy cheerleading of Palestinian statehood as if Oslo had no bitter aftertaste, certainly does not.

David M. Weinberg


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Is Netanyahu Bluffing on Iran?

by Jonathan S. Tobin

There’s little doubt that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s continued attempts to persuade the world that the Iranian charm offensive is a fraud are falling flat. With the U.S. privately accentuating the positive about the reconvened nuclear P5+1 talks with Iran this week, the administration is ignoring the PM’s talk about Iranian President Hassan Rouhani being a “sheep in wolf’s clothing.” Moreover, even in Israel, where Netanyahu’s view of Rouhani is widely shared by figures across the political spectrum, the threats he made this week during a speech to the Knesset about the country acting on its own to knock out the Iranian nuclear program were seen by many as an empty bluff. The belief that, no matter what Netanyahu says now, Israel will have little choice but to accept a Western accommodation with Iran, is by no means confined to the prime minister’s critics.

That’s the gist of a Time article in which the magazine’s Jerusalem correspondent Karl Vick discusses what he calls Netanyahu’s “grumbling from the sidelines” while “the West makes progress in Geneva.” But whether or not you believe Israel can or will eventually attack Iran, there’s little question that the international community, led by the Obama administration, is heavily invested in diplomacy with Iran and may well sacrifice the Jewish state’s security in exchange for an opportunity to relieve themselves of the responsibility to act on the nuclear threat and to get Iranian oil flowing to Western markets again.

As the Times of Israel reported earlier this week, Netanyahu used a speech at a Knesset session devoted to the anniversary of the 1973 Yom Kippur War to make the case for a unilateral, preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Recalling the complacence of Israeli leaders 40 years ago that led to Egypt and Syria being able to achieve a surprise attack, Netanyahu said that there were important lessons to be learned from this history for the Jewish state:
The first lesson is to never underestimate a threat, never underestimate an enemy, never ignore the signs of danger. We can’t assume the enemy will act in ways that are convenient for us. The enemy can surprise us. Israel will not fall asleep on its watch again,” he vowed.
The second lesson, he added, was that “we can’t surrender the option of a preventive strike. It is not necessary in every situation, and it must be weighed carefully and seriously. But there are situations in which paying heed to the international price of such a step is outweighed by the price in blood we will pay if we absorb a strategic strike that will demand a response later on, and perhaps too late.”
The Israeli leader is right on both points. But Israel’s problem today is different from that of 1973. Then, Prime Minister Golda Meir feared being blamed for starting a war and thought sitting back and taking the first blows would engender greater support from the United States. Indeed, even after it was clear she and Defense Minister Moshe Dayan had blundered and cost the lives of many Israelis, she insisted that her decision had been for the best since it helped ensure the U.S. resupply effort during the course of the war.

Today, Israel’s problem is more complex since an attack on Iran while the U.S. is involved in a diplomatic process with it would be viewed as an even more serious offense to the administration than a preemptive attack in 1973 would have been. Simply put, so long as the Iranians can keep the Americans talking to them, they have nothing to fear from Israel and nothing that Netanyahu said changes that.

More problematic is the clear desire on the part of the administration to buy into what rightly appears to the Israelis as the transparent fraudulence of the Rouhani charm offensive.

Vick discussed the analysis of Gary Samore, President Obama’s former top advisor on weapons of mass destruction, who said that any deal that gave the Iranians the ability to convert their stockpile of nuclear material to a bomb in a matter of months would compromise Israel’s security as well as that of the West. But since that is all the Iranians are offering the West, one has to question the motives of an administration when one of its top negotiators tells the New York Times in an off-the-record interview that, “I have never had such intense, detailed, straightforward, candid conversations with the Iranian delegation before,” when they have done nothing but recycle old proposals that have been previously rejected.

Under the circumstances, no wonder Netanyahu feels the need to rattle Israel’s saber at Iran. Unless he can convince the United States to start acting as it means to keep President Obama’s promises on the issue, it looks as the new diplomatic track will result in a deal that will compromise Israel’s security or buy the Iranians months if not years of extra time to get closer to their nuclear goal.

Netanyahu may not be bluffing about being willing to take the heat that a strike on Iran would generate. Indeed, if the West makes the kind of deal that Iran is offering, he may someday feel he has no choice but to do so. But until the Iranians blow off this attempt to negotiate the way they have every previous attempt, it’s likely that Washington doesn’t believe him.

Jonathan S. Tobin


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PLO: Battle for Succession Has Begun

by Khaled Abu Toameh

There is no shortage of figures who consider themselves appropriate candidates to serve as deputy president -- including Marwan Barghouti, jailed for five life sentences for his role in terror attacks.

Over the past few months, a succession battle has been quietly raging in the Palestinian Authority [PA].

This behind-the-scenes battle is continuing even as the PA leadership conducts secret peace talks with Israel.

In fact, the U.S.-sponsored peace negotiations have served as a catalyst for increased calls by senior PLO and Fatah officials to start planning for the day after Mahmoud Abbas's departure from the scene.

Like his predecessor Yasser Arafat, the 78-year-old Abbas has been running the PA in an autocratic fashion since his election as president in January 2005.

And like Arafat, Abbas has since managed to keep many of his critics silent by providing them with funds, luxurious offices and vehicles, secretaries, bodyguards and assistants.

Many senior members of the PLO and Fatah, for example, each receive from Abbas tens of thousands of dollars every month to enable them to cover the costs of office rentals and vehicles, as well as salaries for their secretaries and henchmen.

Still, the funds have not been able to buy Abbas 100% quiet.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks on PA TV, Jan. 4, 2013. (Image credit: Palestinian Media Watch)

His controversial decision to resume peace talks with Israel several weeks ago has prompted a number of Palestinians to talk about the need for Abbas to end his autocratic rule.

It is worth noting that Abbas decided to return to the negotiating table with Israel shortly after most members of the PLO Executive Committee voted against the move.

Since then, Abbas has been facing increased calls to appoint a deputy president of the Palestinian Authority as a way of limiting his powers.

At a recent meeting of the Fatah Central Committee, one official, Tawfik Tirawi, did not hesitate to bring up the subject in the presence of Abbas.

Tirawi, a former security commander in the West Bank, proposed that Abbas appoint jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti as deputy president. Barghouti is serving a five life-term prison sentence for his role in terror attacks against Israelis during the second intifada.
Fatah officials said that Abbas did not comment on the idea.

Palestinian sources said that there is no shortage of figures who consider themselves appropriate candidates to serve as deputy president.

They include: Jibril Rajoub, a former security commander, Mohammed Shtayyeh, a former minister and member of the Palestinian negotiating team with Israel, Saeb Erekat, the chief PLO negotiator and Nabil Sha'ath, a former PA foreign minister.

Those who want Abbas to appoint a deputy are actually telling the PA president that they are fed up with his continued refusal to share powers or consult with others about crucial matters such as the peace talks with Israel.

Abbas's critics often complain that he is keeping most PLO and Fatah officials in the dark regarding the ongoing peace talks.

There are only three Palestinians who know what is really happening inside the closed room where the talks are taking place: Abbas, Erekat and Shtayyeh.

Abbas has justified his refusal to brief PLO and Fatah officials on the content of the negotiations by saying that the U.S. Administration has prohibited the Palestinians and Israelis from talking in public about the issue.

But the peace talks with Israel are only one of the things criticized by Abbas's opponents.
Several PLO and Fatah officials have recently been talking about the need for "leadership change." They maintain that it is time for the Palestinians to start thinking of replacing Abbas's old-guard regime with young and fresh leaders.

However, as of now Abbas, whose term in office expired back in January 2009, has shown no sign that he is willing to accept the principle of power-sharing. The battle for succession is therefore likely to intensify in the coming weeks and months, casting a shadow not only over his regime, but also the peace talks with Israel.

Khaled Abu Toameh


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Bill de Blasio’s Open Door for Terrorists

by Daniel Greenfield


 “I want at least 1,000 to 2,000 to die in one day,”  Shahawar Siraj told an NYPD informant.

The Pakistani illegal alien and Muslim bookstore employee was discussing his plans to kill as many New Yorkers as possible. “I’m going to f___ this country very bad.”

But before Siraj and his collaborator could bomb the 34th Street subway station, they were arrested. Their plans to bomb the subway and Macy’s came to nothing. But under Bill de Blasio, the New York Police Department would never have been allowed to lay a finger on them.

Some years later, Ahmed Ferhani was telling an NYPD undercover detective about his plan to bomb churches and synagogues.   He talked of blowing up “the biggest synagogue” in Manhattan, dressing up as a Jewish worshiper, planting a bomb and walking away.

What both cases had in common was a lack of external leads. They weren’t Al Qaeda members. Their attacks would have been as much of a shock as the Boston Marathon bombings or the Fort Hood shootings. They were the “lone wolf” Jihadists who have become today’s terrorist threat.

Under Bill de Blasio, the investigations that prevented the mass murder of New Yorkers would never have been allowed. Bill de Blasio, the left-wing candidate for Mayor of New York City, has once again reiterated that he will not allow proactive surveillance of Muslim terror suspects and terror mosques.

“The efforts of surveillance have to be based on specifically specific information,” Bill de Blasio said. The standard of “specifically specific information” would have led to the deaths of countless New Yorkers.

During the primary, Bill de Blasio tried to hide his radical pro-terrorist views by claiming that he wouldn’t interfere with the NYPD’s counter-terrorism efforts. Now that he’s the nominee and ahead in the polls, he feels comfortable enough to tell New Yorkers that he will not allow the NYPD to protect them from Muslim terrorists.

A terrorist attack has to be stopped in one of two ways. Law enforcement can hope that the terrorist will screw up his plot the way that Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square bomber, did. Or they can proactively carry out surveillance and use informants to “trip” the next lone wolf attacker into revealing himself before he kills a dozen, a hundred or a thousand New Yorkers.

If the Boston cops had followed the NYPD’s lead and maintained a steady surveillance of the terror-linked Islamic Society of Boston attended by Tamerlan Tsarnaev and then sent in an informant to probe him after some of his outbursts, the Boston Marathon bombings would never have happened.

New York City didn’t get lucky after September 11. Muslim terrorists haven’t spent the last twelve years sleeping on their prayer rugs.

The only reason a Boston Marathon bombing or London’s 7/7 attacks didn’t happen here was because the New York Police Department kept a constant vigil using informants and proactive surveillance. These are the very measures that the radical Bill de Blasio has promised his Muslim allies he will destroy.

In 2011, Muhammad Yusuf began assembling a bomb based on instructions from Al Qaeda’s Inspire Magazine. Similar instructions were used by the Tsarnaevs in their bombing of the Boston Marathon. If not for an NYPD informant, Yusuf’s bomb would have gone off killing New Yorkers.

A year later, Quazi Mohammad Nafis’ plot to detonate a 1,000 pound car bomb outside the Federal Reserve Bank was shut down by an informant working with the NYPD and the FBI.

Muslim political activists and their media allies, now cheering for Bill de Blasio, responded to every terrorist plot shut down by the NYPD by ignoring the number of New Yorkers who would have died, dismissing the terrorists as mentally ill or incompetent, accusing the NYPD of entrapping them and perversely calling for an end to the surveillance of Muslim terrorists and terror mosques.

And they would have said the same thing if the Tsarnaevs had blabbed to a police informant and been nabbed on the way to the marathon with dummy bombs in their backpacks.

Now if Bill de Blasio wins, the pro-terrorist lobby will finally get its way.

There was only a thin blue line preventing the Boston Marathon bombings from happening in New York. That thin blue line is now one election away from being cut to pieces.

Bill de Blasio vowed to shut down the NYPD’s counter-terrorism efforts while standing side by side with Linda Sarsour.

Sarsour had said that the NYPD had invented most of the terrorist plots, that Malcolm X had been assassinated by the NYPD, that the underwear bomber had been a CIA agent and that New Yorkers who celebrated Bin Laden’s death are now “no better than the slimes that Gaddafi and Osama were.”

It isn’t the first time that Bill de Blasio made a deal with the devil. Before he began his career in New York politics, he supported the Marxist FSLN terrorists of Nicaragua who had attacked a synagogue, burnt Miskito Indians alive in a church and whose leader recently hosted Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Bill de Blasio has refused to apologize for supporting a terrorist organization that murdered Indians and Jews; instead defending his allegiance to the Sandinista killers as “progressive.”

According to the New York Times, Bill de Blasio told other members of the pro-FSLN Nicaragua Solidarity Network “of a need to understand and build alliances with Islam, predicting it would soon be a dominant force in politics.”

That much he has done.

Weatherman terrorist Bill Ayers urged Bill de Blasio to “be very proud of the fact that he supported the Sandinistas.”

Ayers had participated in the 1970 bombing of the NYPD headquarters that wounded seven police officers.

In his memoir “Fugitive Days,” he writes, “We threatened to bomb a major symbol of American injustice, and when a little more than two weeks later the promised bomb exploded in the New York City Police Headquarters on Centre Street, the Weathermyth was fully launched.”

De Blasio has revealed himself to be a man who sympathizes with terrorists and who is supported by terrorists. It’s no surprise we’ve now learned he wants the NYPD to turn a blind eye to terrorism.

If Bill de Blasio wins, when the next Muslim terrorist says, “I want at least 1,000 to 2,000 to die in one day”; there will be no NYPD informant to hear him and no NYPD detectives to stop him.

Daniel Greenfield


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Egypt Razes Groves, Homes, Smuggling Tunnels on Gaza Border

by Israel Hayom Staff and News Agencies

Egyptian military reportedly levels 6,000 square meters (64,500 feet) of olive groves, claiming terrorists used them for camouflage to launch attacks against Egyptian border guards, and to smuggle fuel, goods, weapons and drugs.

Egyptian soldiers on the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip in Rafah
Photo credit: AP

Israel Hayom Staff and News Agencies


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Pakistan's Council of Islamic Ideology Condones Rape

by Mohshin Habib

The chairman of the Council told journalists that the Council rejected the Protection of Women Act because its provisions are not in line with Islamic injunctions. He said Islam determines procedures to evaluate criminality in cases of rape.

Some hideous rape cases coming to light in Pakistan are prompting questions about the nation's civil liberties. According to the Asian Human Rights Commission report, Motaan, a poor minority woman, age 26 and two months pregnant, was brutally beaten and gang raped in broad daylight by five assailants in the district of Tharparker in Sindh Province on September 4. She, along with her husband, three children and some relatives, were going to work as laborers at a brick kiln. Motaan was grabbed by her hair and was taken inside a community center along with her husband and their three children; the other relatives were able to escape. They were beaten brutally, their their hands and feet tied, then were forced to watch the rape of Motaan.

The Asian Human Rights Commission claimed that the family went to the police station to report the rape and assaults, but a member of Provincial Assembly, Mahesh Kumar Malani, apparently pressured the police and threatened the family, warning them not to press charges.

A few days later, on September 13th, a five-year-old girl was brutally raped in Lahore and later found dumped near a hospital.

The next day, a 12-year-old girl in the city Faisalabad and a first-year college student in the town of Toba Tek Singh were also gang raped.

In the conservative society of Pakistan, most rape cases are, when possible, kept secret by the victims' families for the sake of family honor. Nonetheless, in last year, 7,516 cases of violence against women were reported in Pakistan, including 822 rape cases.

The victims, however, are discouraged from to seeking justice by the Pakistani ordinance known as the Hudood Ordinance. The ordinance says that, in the light of Shariah law, four adult Muslim witnesses are required before an alleged rapist can be convicted. Under the Hudood Ordinance, many victims, including young girls such as Zihan Mina, Safia Bibi, and Zafran Bibi, have been sentenced to lashes or death by stoning.

In Sindh, the dominant province of Pakistan, home to 52% of the country's population, a few members of the Provincial Assembly, including Sharmila Farooki, are trying to pass a bill requiring DNA testing in rape cases. Mandatory DNA testing would take place within 12 hours of an individual making a complaint of rape to the authorities. The bill outlines how the DNA evidence can and cannot be used in the courts. It also calls on the provincial government to create forensic laboratories where testing will take place.

It will be tough fight to pass the DNA testing bill. In September, the two-day 192nd Islamic Ideological Conference held in Islamabad was led by Council of Islamic Ideology [CII] in a bid to provide all-encompassing guidance to people in light of the Islamic teachings. Members of the CII emphasized that in rape cases, DNA as primary evidence is not acceptable. Although the CII does not have an official say in the law-making process, it has huge influence over the Pakistani provincial and federal government. It advises the government on religious affairs, and has strong public support.

The chairman of the Council, Maulana Muhammad Khan Sherani, told journalists that the Council rejected the Protection of Women Act of 2006, as its provisions were not in line with Islamic injunctions. He said that Hudood ordinance deals with these offenses, and that Islamic law determines the procedures to determine guilt in cases of rape.

Mohshin Habib


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Pentagon Proposes USD 10.8 Billion Arms Deal with Saudi Arabia, UAE

by Asharq Al-Awsat

Washington, Asharq Al-Awsat—The US Department of Defense has sent formal notification to Congress of its intention to sell arms and military equipment worth USD 10.8 billion to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The Pentagon clarified that the deal is part of a bid to strengthen relations between Washington and Saudi Arabia and the UAE. 

Pentagon officials said that the arms shipment to Saudi Arabia will be worth approximately USD 6.8 billion and include missile systems, and other sophisticated military equipment and ordinance. This will include the first US sales to Middle East allies of new Raytheon and Boeing weapons that can be launched from F-15 and F-16 fighter jets. 

The proposed arms deal with Saudi Arabia includes the sale of 1,000 state-of-the-art GBU 39-B “bunker busters” from Boeing, in addition to 1,500 long-range air-to-surface missiles. 

The Pentagon deal with the UAE is estimated at USD 4 billion, and includes 5,000 GBU 39-B smart bombs, and 1,500 air-to-surface missiles for the country’s F-16 squadron. 

A US State Department statement affirmed that negotiations over this arms deal first began four years ago. The statement by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency confirmed that Saudi Arabia has requested a possible sale of a number of advanced weapons including 650 AGM-84H Standoff Land Attack Missiles-Expanded Response (SLAM-ER), 973 AGM-154C Joint Stand Off Weapons (JSOW), and 400 AGM-84L Harpoon Block II missiles.

“This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country that has been and continues to be an important force for political stability in the Middle East,” the statement said. 

“This proposed sale will improve Saudi Arabia’s capability to meet current and future regional threats. These munitions will strengthen the effectiveness and interoperability of the air force of a potential coalition partner, enhancing the coalition operation,” the Defense Security Cooperation Agency statement added. 

Asharq Al-Awsat


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Hamas Sends a Signal to Iran

by Pinhas Inbari

Musa Abu Marzouk, deputy to Khaled Mashal, head of the Hamas politburo, gave a recent interview to the pro-Assad Al Mayadeen TV station in Lebanon that has not received appropriate attention. When asked about Hamas involvement in inter-Arab disputes, he denied such involvement, of course, but added that Arabs must stop turning their guns toward each other, but rather face the Zionist enemy and foreign forces who invaded our territory – that is, Arab or Muslim.

He did not say that Hamas will turn its weapons against the U.S. and its allies involved in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, but, it should be noted, this is the first time that such a senior representative of Hamas has spoken in terms of a struggle with the West – i.e., “foreign forces.”

This issue was controversial within Hamas in the time of Sheikh Yassin,​when senior Hamas officials were involved in the war in Afghanistan, and had connections with militant Islamic groups in Europe, but Sheikh Yassin decided against such involvement and stated that Hamas’ struggle would only be within the confines of the Palestinian struggle.

Why is​ Abu Marzouk  sa​ying  these things now? It was a signal to Iran via the pro-​Iranian media that Hamas is considering joining the international network of terrorist cells spread throughout the world.

After the fall of the Morsi regime in Egypt and the shocks occurring in Sudan, ​Hamas faced real hardship. Egypt is fighting against it in various ways, Assad announced that Hamas had betrayed him, Jordan does not allow Hamas to operate in its territory, in the West Bank it is being pressed by Israeli and Palestinian security forces, and in fact has reached a dead end.

Cooperation​ with Iran – and joining its​ side – is a real option; or at least the threat of such a connection might help it soften the iron hand of Egypt toward Hamas.

Musa Abu Marzouk, deputy to Khaled Mashal, head of the Hamas politburo, gave a recent interview to the pro-Assad Al Mayadeen TV station in Lebanon that has not received appropriate attention. When asked about Hamas involvement in inter-Arab disputes, he denied such involvement, of course, but added that Arabs must stop turning their guns toward each other, but rather face the Zionist enemy and foreign forces who invaded our territory – that is, Arab or Muslim.
He did not say that Hamas will turn its weapons against the U.S. and its allies involved in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, but, it should be noted, this is the first time that such a senior representative of Hamas has spoken in terms of a struggle with the West – i.e., “foreign forces.”
This issue was controversial within Hamas in the time of Sheikh Yassin,​when senior Hamas officials were involved in the war in Afghanistan, and had connections with militant Islamic groups in Europe, but Sheikh Yassin decided against such involvement and stated that Hamas’ struggle would only be within the confines of the Palestinian struggle.
Why is​ Abu Marzouk  sa​ying  these things now? It was a signal to Iran via the pro-​Iranian media that Hamas is considering joining the international network of terrorist cells spread throughout the world.
After the fall of the Morsi regime in Egypt and the shocks occurring in Sudan, ​Hamas faced real hardship. Egypt is fighting against it in various ways, Assad announced that Hamas had betrayed him, Jordan does not allow Hamas to operate in its territory, in the West Bank it is being pressed by Israeli and Palestinian security forces, and in fact has reached a dead end.
Cooperation​ with Iran – and joining its​ side – is a real option; or at least the threat of such a connection might help it soften the iron hand of Egypt toward Hamas.
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Pinhas Inbari is a veteran Palestinian affairs correspondent who formerly reported for Israel Radio and Al Hamishmar newspaper, and currently reports for several foreign media outlets.


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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Mordechai Kedar: Who by the Sword and Who by Wild Beast, Who by Hunger and Who by Plague

by Mordechai Kedar

Read the article in the original עברית
Read the article in Italiano (translated by Yehudit Weisz, edited by Angelo Pezzana)
Read the article en Español (translated by Shula Hamilton)

In the supplemental prayer of The Jewish New Year and the Day of Atonement, we say these words almost mechanically, theoretically, because this is the text. But in Syria this is reality. The regime's war against the citizens' demonstrations, which began two years and seven months ago, has become a dirty, despicable and accursed war, where everyone is fighting everyone else. People from both sides have lost the likeness of man, thrown human values to the winds, lost any semblance of humanity, and have become predatory animals, ("and who by a wild beast").

Assad’s army has besieged the eastern neighborhoods of Damascus because they serve as a corridor of passage to the capitol for the jihadists who come from Jordan and Iraq. In these neighborhoods in recent weeks, tens of thousands of people have been besieged, cut off from all sources of life: food, water, electricity, and from Asad's point of view they might as well all die from starvation. These were the neighborhoods that suffered the great attack of chemical weapons on the 21st of August in which approximately 1500 people were killed, men, women and children. As a result of the hunger, a group of Muslim religious arbiters issued a ruling that allows the residents of these neighborhoods to eat cats, dogs and donkeys, in order to survive the siege and the starvation.

There are reports about places like Mu'adhamiyat al-Sham where there have been many cases of death by starvation because of the siege imposed on these places, in addition to cases when injured people have died because they did not receive treatment in time. In addition, there are places where diseases like cholera are rampant, which are caused by spoiled food, contamination of water and the environment, and from pests such as mice, rats, and snakes that multiply alarmingly in ghost towns and ruins of cities like Homs, Hama and Idlib.

Approximately seven million Syrians are destitute refugees in neighboring countries and within Syria. The approaching winter threatens to pose great harm to their health and their lives, as if the misery that people - if it is possible to call them people - have caused them was not bad enough. Because of the distress and poverty, the refugees do anything they can in order to live: the men work for pennies, and many women are forced to do unethical things in order to earn a piece of bread. Families sell their daughters in forced marriages, to get a handful of dinars and reduce the number of mouths that they must feed.

Asad's army systematically refuses humanitarian aid organizations to operate in the besieged cities, claiming concern that the lives of the volunteers will be endangered by fire from the opposition. But soldiers of the opposition to the regime are not guiltless either: they fight with each other over ideological differences, mainly regarding the future of Syria: will it be a civil state or an Islamic state. In the city of Aleppo "The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" is in control and the city is run by an Islamic court that imposes Islamic Shari'a by force of arm, whip and sword. Lately several tribes that live around Aleppo have announced that they have joined "The Islamic State" organization, in order to shelter in the shadow of the dominant force, and stay out of trouble.

The fact that children are present in the battle areas causes them severe emotional damage because of the terrible sights that they are exposed to. Children join the battle and take an active part in killing anyone who is thought to be an enemy. Asad's militias, the "Shabiha", are constantly on the lookout for the families of soldiers and officers who have deserted the army so that they can kill the men and abuse the women. In many cases they document and photograph this abuse to show it to those who are still serving, to discourage them from deserting.

This past month several dozens of jihad organizations operating in Syria came to the conclusion that the disagreements among them harm their fighting cause and strengthen Asad. This conclusion led dozens of organizations to put aside their differences and unify under an organizational umbrella by the name of "Jaysh al-Islam" - "The Army of Islam". The other large organization - "The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria" - is considering joining the "Army of Islam", and it may be that "Jabhat al-Nusra", which blessed the consolidation with "The Army of Islam”, will also join in the future.

However, no one - except for Asad - needs to worry about the consolidation of the Islamic forces, because this consolidation will exist only as long as the battle against Asad continues, and after he falls, the splits and the differences between the various groups will be exposed. We can expect Syria to disintegrate into a number of Islamic frameworks in addition to a Kurdish entity in the north east of the country, Alawite in the northwest and perhaps even a Druze entity in the south.

The critical situation in Syria, the collapse of infrastructure and the moral failure that characterizes the war impose indescribable suffering on tens of millions of citizens. The time will come when testimonies and stories of this this black period will come to light, and the people of Syria who survived will look at all of those who stood by without doing anything to help them in their distress. They - the neighbors who did nothing - will lower their eyes to the ground from shame because they saw, they heard, they knew and they didn't lift a finger.

"Sex Jihad"

According to Islamic tradition, jihad is one of the most important commandments. Every man and woman is commanded to take part in jihad to the extent of their abilities: whoever can fight must go to war, and whoever cannot fight must support the fighters. According to Islamic religious law, whoever gives a horse, food or money to the jihad fighter, it is as if he took part in the jihad himself, because these means enable the jihad fighter to carry out the obligation more effectively. Islamic tradition tells of women who took part in jihad by preparing food for the fighters and bandaging their wounds.

However the jihad fighters in Syria also need another service that only women can provide. This need is known as a natural and normal human need, that can be fulfilled illegally, meaning rape, or in a legal and acceptable way, by means of marriage. In Sunni Islam there is a type of temporary marriage called "zuwaj al-musafir" (also known as "zawaj al-misyar")- "traveler's marriage" - which allows a man who comes to a place for a short time to marry a woman for the period of time that he is in that place, and divorce her before he leaves. A child that is born to the woman from such a marriage will have no stigma. There is no definition for the length of time for these marriages, and therefore they can be a month, a week, a day and even as short as an hour.

A few months ago a legal opinion was publicized in the media that was attributed to a Saudi preacher, Muhammad al-'Arifi, in which he called for young women in the Islamic world to volunteer for "jihad al-nikah" - "sex jihad" - in Syria, in order to bring this service to the jihad fighters too. Al-'Arifi promised the young women who came to Syria for this purpose, the reward of a jihad fighter, exactly like the reward of someone who donates a horse, money, food or medical treatment. As a result of this, a few dozen - according to another version it was a few hundred - young women came to Syria from all over the Islamic world, as volunteers for "sex jihad".

The Syrian army found charts in a few places with the "work plans" of these women  and published them. In the photograph below, the title is "Nikah Chart of the jihad fighter brothers with the jihad fighter sisters". In the column on the right are the men's names: Abu Umar, Abu Khaled, Abu Ali, and in the top row are the names of the women: Anisa, Asma and Bushra. In the squares of the table appear are the times when each fighter is married to one of the women: 8-10, 12-4, 6-10. The rebels claim that these charts are counterfeit, and that the regime made them up in order to slander the jihad fighters.

But this chart seems rather authentic because of the fact that the jihadists gave themselves names of previous heroes of Islam - Umar - the second caliph, Khalid bin al-Waleed - the commander who conquered Syria, and Ali - the fourth caliph. The names of the three women that appear in the chart are names of the three women closest to Bashar Asad: Anisa is his mother's name, Asma is his wife's name and Bushra is his sister's name. If this chart is authentic, it is reasonable to think that the jihad fighters gave the women volunteers these borrowed names to express what they would do to Asad's mother, his wife and his sister, if they only could.

It is important to note that the young women who come to Syria to take part in "sex jihad" do it because they are convinced that they must do it, and out of faith in Islam and the righteousness of jihad in its different forms. On the other hand, it is also important to note that sheikh Muhammad al-'Arifi denies that he issued the ruling, and he claims that the entire matter is a fabrication of the regime to besmirch the jihad fighters, but there are indeed reports from Tunisia about young women who have returned from Syria in an advanced state of pregnancy.

The Peace-Loving Khaled Mash'al

Beginning in June, 2011 - three months after the demonstrations broke out in Syria - Khaled Mash'al, the leader of Hamas, took a stand against the regime and supported the demonstrators against Asad. After all, Meshaal is a Sunni Muslim, who cannot support Asad, the idol worshiper, a slayer of Muslims, even if the idol worshiper supported him in the past. As a result, Mash'al was obligated to leave Syria and search for another location for himself and the management offices of Hamas, in Mursi's Egypt, for example. Iran also stopped helping Hamas with money, weapons and political support.

Meanwhile Mursi has been deposed, and the Egyptian army has Hamas in its cross-hairs: most of the tunnels between the Gaza Strip and Rafah have been ruined, causing Hamas to lose its main source of income: the tax that was imposed on the tunnels and the goods that were smuggled through them. In his desperation Mash'al appealed to the Iranians to renew their support for Hamas, and they told him that he must first of all straighten matters out with Bashar Asad.

About a week ago Mash'al announced, in the framework of the "World Conference for Jerusalem" that he "supports the right of peoples to rebel in order to obtain their rights, but that this uprising must be done in a peaceful way", and he is "against sectarian violence from any source". There is only one way to interpret this announcement: Mash'al calls on the Islamists and the jihadists in Syria to lay down their arms, even if Asad continues to slaughter them.

Mash'al's announcement brought the wrath of the jihadists upon him and they published a derogatory declaration in return: "Mash'al describes the holy jihad for Syria as a sectarian war in an attempt to get an international 'certificate of good character' at the expense of Syrian blood. When he announces that the jihad fighters are missing the target he is trying to satisfy Iran. Perhaps he will receive part of the money that Iran stopped giving him. We would not be surprised if after his announcement we will hear that he has moved to Teheran, and we are sure that Mash'al's position does not represent the loyal and honorable Palestinians of Hamas. We call on the fighters of Palestine: our wound is one wound, the enemy is one and the announcement of some mercenary soldier, whoever he may be, will not cause a rift between us. We are more faithful to the al-Aqsa mosque than Mash'al and those like him who have turned trading in the problems and the blood of their people into a business, and he who fought his jihad in offices should not give advice to those who fight jihad in the trenches."

We must only caution some Israeli bleeding hearts not to misinterpret Khaled Mash'al's words and start declaring that Hamas has become an organization that believes in non-violent demonstrations, like marching peacefully into Israel through tunnels such as the mile-long one leading from Gaza into Israel which was found last week...


Dr. Kedar is available for lectures

Dr. Mordechai Kedar
( is an Israeli scholar of Arabic and Islam, a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University and the director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. He specializes in Islamic ideology and movements, the political discourse of Arab countries, the Arabic mass media, and the Syrian domestic arena.

Translated from Hebrew by Sally Zahav with permission from the author.

Additional articles by Dr. Kedar

Source: The article is published in the framework of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. Also published in Makor Rishon, a Hebrew weekly newspaper.

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