Friday, November 8, 2013

Egypt Turning to the Russians? Not so Fast

by Shoshana Bryen

Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to Egypt was a blatant fence-mender. He said the Egyptian interim coalition's democratic roadmap was "being carried out to the best of our conceptions," and added that the aid suspension was not to be seen as "punishment" for what the U.S. administration previously called a "coup." Announcing his desire to restore all elements of military aid, Kerry waxed positively poetic at a news conference with interim Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy. "And then we will march together hand in hand into the future with Egypt playing the vital role it has played traditionally" (in the Arab world). 

Fahmy was polite, if a bit more reserved; it was he, after all, who called U.S.-Egyptian relations "turbulent" and "unsettled" only a month ago. He also said before Kerry arrived that that Egypt would look "beyond the United States" to meet its security needs." Egypt would develop "multiple choices, multiple options" including military relationships.

The clear implication is that Egypt will turn to Russia, which Anwar Sadat ousted from the region some 40 years ago. One source reports that the Russians have already solicited an advanced naval base in Egypt.

On the surface, it would make sense. There has long been discomfort among the Arabs about U.S. interest in promoting "democracy" and individual civil rights in societies to which those are alien. But beginning with the current administration, America's regional reputation has taken a beating: abandoning long-time U.S. partner Hosni Mubarak and conflicted behavior over the ouster of Mohammed Morsi; participating in the ouster of Moammar Gaddafi, which resulted in al-Qaeda-related militias expanding their influence in Libya and setting off the war in Mali; shifting positions on Bashar Assad and the unenforced "red line" on chemical weapons in Syria; negotiations with Iran; and, oddly, the administration's spikey relations with Israel (Conservative Arab thinking is, "If the Americans would abandon Israel, for whom would they go to the mat? Certainly not us." And they're right.)

As a counterpoint, Vladimir Putin is advancing Russia as a dependable ally. Russia sells arms regardless of the nature of a regime. Moscow provides unswerving political support for its friends at the United Nations. Russia isn't trying to "fix" other people's governments and make them more open or tolerant.

Great, right?

No. All those things the Russians do, they do for Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah -- the bitter, mortal enemies of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the Gulf States. Russian steadfastness is not a counterpoint to American vacillation; it is support for the Shiite side of the great Islamic war. It is also a losing hand when 85% of Muslims are Sunni.

Support for Assad makes Russia partly responsible for more than 120,000 largely Sunni deaths in Syria. Having supplied large parts of Syria's chemical arsenal, Russia is partly responsible for Syrian government use of chemical weapons. Support for Assad at the UN meant the Security Council was unable even to decry the war, much less punish the use of chemical weapons. Russian protection ensures that Bashar Assad, the heterodox Shiite mass murderer, remains in power.
Syria is Russia's albatross.

From Putin's perspective, it makes sense to back the Shiites. Russia's Muslims and those in the neighboring "Stans" are Sunni. Russia's internal wars in Chechnya and Dagestan were brutal on a scale that Assad is only beginning to approach. The first Chechen war (1994-96) was nationalist, squelched at great cost by the Russian military. But when Umar Ibn al-Khatib arrived in Chechnya in 1997 and became the leader of foreign mujahideen, he changed the focus. The Saudi Al-Khatib called the Chechen war "not just a Chechen matter but an Islamic matter, like Afghanistan." The second Chechen war, the "Islamic matter," lasted from 1999-2009. It simmers still with Saudi money and Saudi interest.

Putin was hoping a quick, brutal Syrian campaign against the rebels (like Hafez Assad's 1982 massacre of the Muslim Brotherhood in Hama) would dash Sunni hopes of a caliphate and discourage jihadists in Russia itself. It didn't happen that way and Russia's worst nightmare is on the march -- Chechen, European, and Arab Sunni fighters are in Syria, obtaining weapons, training, and new associations with al-Qaeda, Salafist, and other Sunni jihadist organizations. Internal migration is bringing Muslims to traditionally Slavic parts of Russia and ethnic tensions have exploded. In a new book, Russian specialist Ilan Berman posits not "explosion," but possible "implosion," in some measure driven by rising Muslim and declining Slavic populations.

Saudi Prince Faisal al-Turki, in an interview in the Washington Post, decried the ineffectual nature of the American administration, but asked whether Russia could fill the gap, replied, "I don't think Russia will ever fill the gap. [Russia's support of Syria] is costing the Russians the rest of the Muslim world. They are fighting on the wrong side." 

It is better to be the "ineffectual" United States than to be Russia "fighting on the wrong side." The U.S. has more room to maneuver. This may be what prompted Secretary Kerry's hasty and flowery addition of Cairo to his itinerary, but Arab skepticism about American intentions will not be overcome with mere words. 

Shoshana Bryen


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

The Widening Turkey-Saudi Arabia Rift

by Joseph Puder

Picture 3 

In an interview with Time magazine’s Fareed Zakaria, U.S. President Barack Obama named Recep Tayyip Erdogan as one of his five top international friends, along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, South Korea’s President Lee Myung-bak, and British Prime Minister David Cameron. Neither Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was included.

Although Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey and King Abdullah’s Saudi Arabia are both Sunni-Muslim states, their national interests and political aspirations are at odds with one another.  Erdogan has become President Obama’s trusted ally in the Middle East, while the Saudis are mistrustful of Obama and seek to lessen their dependence on the U.S. To show its displeasure with the Obama administration, Saudi Arabia renounced the UN Security Council seat it worked hard to get. Erdogan supported President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, while the Saudis were the first to congratulate General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Egypt’s military chief, for overthrowing the Morsi-Muslim Brotherhood regime. In Syria, Erdogan supports the Muslim Brotherhood elements within the Syrian Sunni opposition, while the Saudis back the likes of radical al-Qaida affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Perhaps most interesting is the position of the two Islamic states on Israel and Hamas-ruled Gaza. Erdogan has recently divulged to Iran the identities of ten Iranian spies for Israel.  He also pushed to exclude Israel from NATO military exercises, and has been a major supporter of the Islamist terrorist group Hamas. The Saudis, on the other hand, have had and continue to have contacts with Israel, albeit, under the radar. Israel and Saudi Arabia share core issues, which include the dangerous prospect of a nuclear Iran, concern over the recent advances made by the Muslim Brotherhood since the “Arab Spring” began, and exasperation with the Obama administration over the handling of the Syrian crisis, and particularly with its na├»ve assessment of Iran’s “charm offensive.”

Just prior to the Syrian civil war, Erdogan has maintained a close relationship with Syria’s President Bashar Assad and Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It was the so-called pragmatic policy of Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s in the post-Cold war that was called “Zero problems with neighbors.” Erdogan’s Turkey saw itself as the regional “Mr. Nice Guy.” Frustrated by the European Union delay of its membership, it sought to establish cultural affinity with fellow majority Muslim states such as Iran and Syria.

The Turkey-Iran-Syria bonding did not please Saudi Arabia, to say the least. Turkey’s association with Shiite Iran and its Alawi client in Syria irritated the Saudis who are fighting a proxy war with the Islamic Republic of Iran in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and the Arab Gulf states. After Erdogan’s Turkey refused to allow U.S. troops to pass through Turkish territory in 2003, on the way to overthrow Saddam Hussein, Erdogan demonstrated to Iran and Syria that Ankara was no longer in Washington’s thrall. The most significant common bond however, was the three countries’ policy to suppress Kurdish aspirations.

The real blow to “zero problems,” came when the “Arab Spring” began to turn into “Arab Winter.” For the West, Turkish pragmatism meant silent support for the Ahmadinejad regime in Iran that oppressed its people, and stole the 2009 elections. Erdogan also backed the authoritarian regime of Egypt’s Muhammad Morsi.

Erdogan has sought to revive the glory of the Ottoman Empire, and assume the mantle of “sultan,” if not the title itself.  He sees himself as the leader of the Sunni-Muslim world.  In Erdogan’s megalomania, he might even consider himself to be something resembling a “Caliph” (Caliph is a designation for the successors to the Prophet Muhammad, who held temporal and sometimes a degree of spiritual authority in the Empire). Sultan Selim I, who reigned 1512-1520, conquered Mecca and Medina, and declared himself Caliph. Soon after the Caliphate was abolished in March 1924, the Hashemite Amir of Hejaz, Sharif Hussein of Mecca (related by blood to the prophet Muhammad), declared himself Caliph. He also took the title of King of the Arabs. The Saud clan and its Ikhwan or brotherhood allies from central Arabia, which adopted the Wahhabi Muslim creed centuries earlier, attacked the Hejaz and captured Mecca and Medina in July 1924. The Saud family, and the Saudi monarchy have been the guardians of Islam’s holy cities ever since.

A lengthy historical impasse has transformed in recent years into a strategic and economic partnership (trade volume between the two countries reached 4.66 billion USD in 2010) between Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Relations were strengthened as both countries sought to coordinate their support for the Syrian rebels and counterbalance Iran’s expansion in the region. Yet, in the wake of the Egyptian coup, this partnership appears to be strained as the two countries’ visions collided with the overthrow of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi.

The Turkish pro-government press criticism of the Saudi position in Egypt, which has had overall consensus among all segments of the Turkish population, including secularists, was reflected in the negative press coverage of Saudi Arabia. Turkey is one country in the region where Islamists, secularists, leftists and liberals all concur on the negative image of Saudi Arabia, with each doubting its policies. While Saudi Arabia has succeeded in creating loyal constituencies in many countries, somehow it has failed to endear itself to the Turks.

On the Saudi side, while the Turkish-Saudi partnership is officially celebrated as a great strategic alliance, the Saudi press occasionally launches attacks that undermine this veneer of cooperation. Accusations that “Sultan Erdogan” longs for the return of the Ottoman caliphate regularly appeared in the Saudi sponsored pan-Arab press. Such attacks are often backed by appeals to Arabism and the historical animosity between Turkey and the Arab people.

The Saudi Wahhabi creed has been spread globally by the Al-Haramain Foundation. It is competing for souls with the Turkish Gulen Movement, which is a transnational religious Movement, led by the Turkish Islamic scholar, Fethullah Gulen. While the Gulen Movement is more discreet about pushing its Islamist agenda, Al-Haramain, according to the Security Council Committee, “was one of the principal NGOs active throughout the world providing support for the Al-Qaida network.”

Facing a more populous and militarily powerful Iran across the Gulf, the Saudis sought to check Iran’s encroachment through an alliance with the U.S. Past presidents of the U.S. were indeed reliable Saudi allies, but not the Obama administration. President Obama supported the Muslim Brotherhood uprisings throughout the Middle East, and Egypt’s deposed President Morsi in particular.  Both Israel and Saudi Arabia shared concern at the prospect of a new alliance between the Arab Sunni-Islamist states and Erdogan’s Turkey.

As one of President Obama’s best friends in the world, it is likely that Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan will serve as a “go between” the U.S. and Iran. Besides his anti-Semitic outburst, and his deep hostility towards Israel, Erdogan’s view regarding Iran’s nuclear program is worrisome. In November, 2008, speaking at the Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C., Erdogan suggested that Iran’s desire for nuclear weapons was “normal for any country.” That alone is sufficient enough for Saudi and Israeli policy-makers to worry. It is also one of the reasons for the widening gap between Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Joseph Puder


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

Drawing Blood

by Abraham Katsman

The subject of incitement as an impediment to Palestinian-Israeli peace may finally be getting deserved attention. But even now, discussion of the issue glosses over a deeper problem.

Israel has been complaining for years about Palestinian Authority incitement against Israel and against Jews, arguing that it merely inflames old anger, stirs up violence and terror, and foments new hatred in each new generation. Most depressingly, it prevents the population from coming to terms with the idea of peacefully coexisting with Jewish Israel.

The problem is important enough that an American-Israeli-Palestinian committee monitoring incitement was established in 1998. And it is intractable enough that the committee disbanded after a year of bickering, unable to reconvene since.

Israel has recently given the issue a higher profile, including the publication in the New York Times of a column by International Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz titled "How Palestinian Hate Prevents Peace." Steinitz makes a strong case that constant Palestinian dehumanization of "Zionists" as "barbaric monkeys" or "fork-tailed devils," glorification of terrorists (and even Hitler), and denial of Jewish history are internalized by the Palestinian population -- particularly children -- and make it impossible for any culture of peace to take root.

That column apparently drew diplomatic blood. The PA felt compelled to react, and chose statements by Likud Beiteinu's Avigdor Lieberman as their target. The following weekend, Lieberman said that PA President Abbas is no partner for peace. He stated that the current atmosphere is not conducive to any final status agreement due to the radicalized atmosphere cultivated by incitement in Palestinian textbooks and media. 

Tough talk, but hardly inflammatory.

Still, PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat, the PA Foreign ministry and the PA's official news agency all went over the top condemning the comments, calling Lieberman's statements "dangerous incitement" and "state terror." For good measure, they called Lieberman a "gangster" and a "fascist." The mutual allegations of incitement fly. But there is an imbalance in the type, nature and source of the incitement by the respective sides. When Israel's open democracy clashes with the PA's undemocratic political culture, even verbal confrontations are asymmetrical. 

Sure, there are incendiary comments made by individual Israelis here and there, including some by politicians. But the incitement coming from the Palestinians is pervasive and comes from official PA channels.

At an institutional level, as Steinitz pointed out, the PA is constantly hammering messages that no Jewish state is legitimate, as there is no Jewish people and no Jewish history in Israel; that Jews and/or Zionists are corrupt creatures who corrupt those around them; that the Palestinian struggle will continue until Israel is uprooted and replaced with a Palestinian Arab state; and that all forms of resistance -- terror included -- are honorable and valid, subject only to the political expedience of particular tactics.

Furthermore, while Israeli media uncovers, reports and condemns incidents of Israeli incitement, the Palestinian media is used as a vehicle to kindle and stoke incitement against Israel.

Schools provide another contrast. Israeli textbooks have extensive discussions of the Palestinian refugees created by the 1948 war and their plight in various countries; Palestinian textbooks, by contrast, have no maps of Israel, do not mention the Holocaust or the 800,000 Jewish refugees from Arab lands resettled in Israel, and pay no attention to any legal or historical claims the Jewish people have to the disputed land. Terrorists are lionized; Jews are demonized.

The incitement serves to remind Israelis just how far the Palestinians are from accepting the existence of a Jewish state. But among Palestinians, it only perpetuates the rejectionism of Israel that has been at the core of the dispute since long before 1967.With Palestinian hearts hardened, it is impossible for even well-intended Palestinian leaders to take anything but maximalist, rejectionist negotiating positions.

Yet, focusing on incitement misses a more subtle, yet more fundamental part of the equation: the absence of contrary, counter-incitement Arab and Palestinian voices. 

The rambunctious Israeli press, politicians, and public cover the political spectrum, and aren't shy about disagreeing with government positions regarding the peace process. An alphabet-soup of Jewish and Israeli organizations regularly protests government policy.

By contrast, where is the Palestinian dissenting opinion? Where are the Arabic opinion columns arguing that Jews aren't treacherous devils? That Jews have a deep and ancient connection to the land? That blowing up Israeli cafes and buses is inherently wrong? That real peace with a Jewish Israel isn't an entirely bad idea? That peace may require that not all of the millions of descendants of 1948 refugees be able to settle in Israel?

Where is the Palestinian Peace Now? The Arab Voice for Peace? P-Street? The Palestinian movement to boycott and divest from Palestinian entities until terror and violence against Israelis is ended? 

Curbing Palestinian incitement would go a long way toward peaceful coexistence. But incitement is only a symptom; the uniformly anti-Israel monopoly on Arab and Palestinian opinion is the bigger problem.

Abraham Katsman is an American attorney and political commentator living in Israel. More of his work is available at  


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The Crucial Question for John Kerry

by Evelyn Gordon

Secretary of State John Kerry is currently in the Mideast to try to rescue faltering Israeli-Palestinian talks. But he would do better to take a break from his shuttle diplomacy and ponder the question Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posed in a television interview this week: If the Palestinians “can’t even stand behind the agreements that we had, that we release prisoners but we continue building, then how can I see that they will actually stand by the larger issues that will require them far greater confrontation with received opinion and fixed positions in their society?”

Earlier this week, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas threatened that unless Israel halts construction in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, it “is likely to bring about the termination of the talks, without results” and “the situation is likely to explode.” The PA also threatened to seek action against Israel in international forums on account of this construction. But as Netanyahu correctly pointed out, Israel never promised a construction freeze as part of the deal Kerry brokered to relaunch the talks–something Kerry himself has confirmed. What Israel did promise was to free 104 Palestinian murderers in four installments, which have so far occurred on schedule.

Yet now, having pocketed that concession, the Palestinians are threatening to renege on their part of the deal–nine months of talks, plus refraining from action against Israel in international forums–on account of Israeli actions that the deal itself allowed. So what confidence can Israel have that the same wouldn’t happen with a full-fledged peace deal? What confidence can it have that after it withdraws from additional territory, the Palestinians will honor their commitments to fight terrorism, end their international sanctions campaign against Israel, stop agitating for a “right of return,” combat anti-Israel incitement, and so forth? And why should Israel take the risk of territorial withdrawals if it can’t be reasonably confident of this?

The question is doubly important because of the Palestinians’ consistent track record of not honoring previous deals. For instance, they pledged to fight terror in no fewer than five signed agreements (1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, and 1999). Yet instead, these deals resulted in terror of unprecedented dimensions: Over the past 20 years, Palestinian terrorists have killed some 1,200 Israelis, roughly double the figure in the 45 years before the 1993 Oslo Accord.

Moreover, these agreements explicitly state that “Neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations.” Yet that didn’t stop Abbas from unilaterally seeking UN recognition of these territories as a Palestinian state last year.

But rather than address this problem, Kerry has been actively encouraging the Palestinians’ bad faith. On his current trip, for instance, he publicly and repeatedly denounced Israeli construction as “illegitimate” and “disturbing,” even though it doesn’t violate any Israeli commitments–including those five signed agreements, not one of which mandated a construction freeze. Yet he hasn’t said a word about PA actions that explicitly violate previous commitments, such as its ongoing campaign of incitement (barred by all its signed agreements) and push for international boycotts and sanctions against Israel. And Europe, needless to say, has been even worse.

The result is that Palestinians have concluded they can violate any agreement with impunity. And Israelis wonder why, in that case, they should ever bother signing one.

Evelyn Gordon


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

UK Politicians Collaborate with Muslim Brotherhood Islamists?

by Samuel Westrop

Speakers at the upcoming Global Peace and Unity conference can be categorized as follows: 65% are anti-Semitic, misogynist, homophobic and pro-terror preachers, 20% are public servants offering political legitimacy and moral credibility to the other speakers, while the remaining 15% could perhaps claim to be part of the conference's "project dedicated to creating a more harmonious world."
"Peace and unity...thanks be to Allah...a fantastic thing." — Simon Hughes MP, speaking to the Conference in 2008

At the end of this month, on November 23-24, UK politicians, in a crushing betrayal of Britain's moderate Muslims, are planning join many of Britain's most outspoken Islamist groups and preachers at the sixth Global Peace and Unity conference, due to be held in London. Tens of thousands attend these conferences; journalists applaud the initiative, and cabinet ministers, political commentators and other policy-makers address its crowds.

Mohamed Ali Harrath, a leading figure in the British Muslim community, founded and organized the Global Peace and Unity conferences in 2005. He claims the events are designed to "promote dialogue, exchange ideas and information, and work towards dispelling misunderstandings surrounding the multiculturalism and co-existence of faiths."

Speakers at this annual event, however, have included Ebrahim Rasool, a vocal supporter of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, who has described its founder, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, as an "inspiration;" as well as Zakir Naik, an Indian Islamist preacher recently banned from entering the UK, who has expressed support for suicide bombings and claims that Jews "as a whole" are the enemies of Muslims.

In 2010, the Daily Telegraph reported that, "items glorifying terrorism were on open sale [at the conference] … Also available were 'shahada headbands' as worn by many Palestinian suicide bombers... The headbands contain the personal testimony of the suicide bombers."

Harrath, incidentally, has a conviction in Tunisia for terrorism-related offenses, and the television station of which he is CEO, the Islam Channel, has been accused by a Muslim think tank, the Quilliam Foundation, of promoting extremist groups and encouraging hatred towards women, Jews and minority Muslim sects.

Mohamed Ali Harrath (centre) with Ismail Haniyeh (right), leader of Hamas in Gaza, in 2008. (Image source: Harry's Place)

This year, Veritas Consultancy -- a company that also provides services to groups such as Interpal, a US-designated terrorist organization -- is handling the logistics of the conference. Veritas Consultancy, however, has just one director: Mohamed Ali Harrath.

Harrath is a leading Muslim Brotherhood member; and the wealth of evidence that ties the conference, its affiliates and the proposed speakers to Islamist networks seems inescapable. Paul Goodman MP has described the conferences as the "Royal Ascot of the British Islamist calendar."

Despite these warnings, however, a number of public officials and politicians from across the British political spectrum seem happy to share a platform with leading Islamists and, in doing so, legitimize the organizers of the conference as genuine representatives of British Islam.

Not everyone, however, has supported this involvement. A number of senior politicians from across the spectrum have, in fact, disagreed very publicly over the suitable response and degree of "engagement" with Islamist-run Muslim community events.

In 2008, the then-Labour Government deemed another conference, IslamExpo, to be beyond the pale, and banned its MPs from attending. This policy did not, at the time, receive total support from senior politicians. One anonymous Labour Party minister, unhappy with the ban, decried the policy of boycott as "completely counterproductive," and added: "You have to engage with those with influence over those you want to influence."

In the same year, Policy Exchange, a think tank, circulated a briefing paper highlighting the extremist ideology behind the Global Peace and Unity conference. In response, Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats and now the Deputy Prime Minister of Britain, condemned the Policy Exchange report as "offensive," demanded its retraction and, despite the wealth of evidence demonstrating the questionable company he would be keeping, chose to speak at the conference.

Clegg, after praising the "diversity and unity" of modern Britain, said:
I say this with sadness: There were some people who didn't want me to come and speak to you today. A think tank here in London, Policy Exchange, has been distributing secret briefings against some speakers who you have heard, or will hear, this weekend. They suggested people like me should not come to an event like this. Let me be clear: of course I do not agree with the views of every speaker at this event. I do believe in free speech, I do believe in a free society where views are aired and expressed, not ignored and suppressed.
Clegg seems to have been under the misapprehension that the extremist speakers were an aberration, when, in fact, their views were outspokenly emblematic of the organizers' ideological designs. The more extreme preachers were not accidental invitees -- they were presented as the conference's star speakers.

Dominic Grieve MP, despite attending the conference, markedly expressed his disappointment at the choice of fellow speakers, and named several whose views he regarded as abhorrent.

By the time of the fifth Global Peace and Unity conference, there had been enough warning from counter-extremism activists for a few politicians to take note. In 2010, Prime Minister David Cameron decided to ban his party's chairwoman, Baroness Warsi, from addressing the conference.

This month, the upcoming Sixth Peace and Unity Conference has announced speakers gathered from among the usual litany of Muslim Brotherhood supporters and apologists:
  • Yasir Qadhi, who claims the Holocaust is a hoax and has said, "Why are Jews studying Islam? There is a reason, not that they want to help us, they want to destroy us … Know that the Yahood [Jews] and the Kuffar [non-believers] like this type of thing."
  • Yusuf Islam, the former singer known as Cat Stevens, who has called for apostates and adulterous women to be stoned to death.
  • Ken Livingstone, the former Mayor of London and a noted supporter of the anti-Semitic and pro-terror Muslim Brotherhood leader Yusuf Al-Qaradawi. Livingstone has also claimed that Jews will not vote for him because of their wealth.
  • Said Rageah, a Canadian Islamist preacher and "instructor" at the extremist Al Maghrib Institute who has preached that God should "destroy" the enemies of Islam and that the Christians and Jews are "damned."
  • Farooq Murad, son of the "Supreme leader" of Bangladesh's violent jihadi group Jamaat-e-Islami, is also secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain. A report published by the Department for Communities and Local Government explicitly links the Muslim Council of Britain to Jamaat-e-Islami, which committed acts of genocide during the 1971 Bangladesh war of independence. Murad is also a trustee of the Islamic Foundation. In 2003, The Times reported that two Islamic Foundation trustees were on the UN sanctions list of people associated with the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
  • Tahir-ul-Qadri, a Pakistani politician who lobbied to ensure that those who blaspheme should be executed. Qadri has incited hatred against Pakistan's much-persecuted Ahmadiyya minority, whom Qadri has described as "heretics."
  • Yusuf Estes, who advises husbands to beat their wives and advocates the killing of homosexuals.
  • Iqbal Sacranie, a leading British Islamist who said of author Salman Rushdie, "Death, perhaps, is a bit too easy for him." Sacranie is a trustee of iEngage, an extreme Islamist organization which has lobbied government ministers to establish relations with the terror group Hamas and has harangued Muslim human rights activists who express opposition to Islamist extremism.
  • Sarah Joseph, editor of the Islamist magazine Emel, which has expressed support for the extremist East London Mosque. Joseph is a long-standing member of the Islamic Society of Britain, a leading Islamist lobby group. Joseph's defence of "political Islam" is praised on the Muslim Brotherhood's own website.
  • Muhammad Al-Ya'qoubi, a Syrian cleric who has denounced freedom of expression as blasphemous and a "false ideal." Ya'qoubi also condemned the Grand Mufti of Syria's expressed hope for reconciliation between Muslims and Jews.
  • Shabir Ally, President of the Islamic Information & Dawah Centre International, describes homosexuality as "sinful" and claims those who commit "such acts" will be "destroyed."
  • Shady Al-Suleiman, who calls for the killing of women who engage in pre-marital sex: "Remember that if there is an Islamic state the punishment of zina [sex outside marriage], the punishment of those who commit zina, if they have never been married before, they will be lashed 100 lashes. If they are married while they committed zina, or previously been married and divorced, and they committed zina, then their punishment is stoning to death."
  • Muhammad Abdul Bari, a former Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain who, during his time at the Council, invited Delwar Hossain Sayeedi, the Jamaat-e-Islami vice-president -- since then, sentenced to death in Bangladesh for his involvement in acts of genocide in the 1971 war of independence -- to speak at the East London Mosque, of which Bari is also chairman. Further, Bari has, in addition, defended the mosque's previous involvement with Anwar Al-Awlaki, the late Al Qaeda leader, whom the U.S. killed in Yemen with a drone strike.
  • Mohammad Ijaz ul-Haq, a Pakistani politician who has said that an appropriate response to the decision to award Salman Rushdie a knighthood is suicide attacks. "If somebody has to attack by strapping bombs to his body to protect the honour of the Prophet," he said, "then it is justified." Ul-Haq is also, as noted by the conference organizers themselves, a vocal supporter of nuclear engineer Abdul Qadeer Khan, who helped Iran, Libya and North Korea to develop nuclear weapons.
  • Yisroel Dovid Weiss, a spokesman for the extremist sect Neturei Karta, who attended and spoke at Iran's Holocaust-denial conference in 2007. Weiss is an outspoken supporter of former Iranian President Ahmadinejad and claims that Zionists have exploited the Holocaust to further their own aims.
  • Riah Abu El-Assal, a former Bishop of Jerusalem,who has offered his support to the Palestinian terror group Hamas by saying that, "When the Hamas government came about, I was the first religious leader in the Christian community to go and say, "okay, congratulations. Now in what way can we be of help? And what way can we assist to bring the reality of the situation with the Palestinian people to the world at large?"
  • Abdul Wahid-Pedersen, a Danish Imam who has defended the stoning of adulterous women, and who founded the Independent Scandinavian Relief Agency in 1988 and served as its Secretary General until, however, in 2004, the Agency was closed down after its close affiliate was deemed by the U.S. government to be part of Al Qaeda's funding network.
  • Muhammad Al Shareef, founder of the Al Maghrib Institute, pupils of which included the 2008 "underwear bomber," Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Shareef has written a paper entitled, "Why the Jews Were Cursed" -- in which he claims that Jews control the media and murder prophets. He goes on to advise that Muslims should not "take Jews as our close allies." Shareef also calls on Christians to "join the [Muslim] ranks and start to stand up and speak against things like this [homosexuality]…praise to God that you are homophobic."
  • Jamal Badawi, a Canadian Islamist, and included in an internal Muslim Brotherhood list of activists in 1992. In 2006, Badawi described suicide bombers as "freedom fighters," similar to those fighting the Nazis or the Japanese kamikazes fighting the Americans. Three years later Badawi proclaimed that Hamas terrorists were fighting jihad and that those who were killed were martyrs. He also condemned moderate Muslims who criticised Islamist terror groups.
The conference's list of "Supporters" and "Associates" includes organizations such as Interpal, designated a terrorist organization in the United States; Human Appeal International, which the CIA claims to act as a conduit to terror organizations; Islamic Help, which funds organizations run by senior Hamas leaders; Muslim Aid, which funded a number of terrorist front groups; Muslim Hands, a charity accused by Israel of having links to Hamas; the London-based Palestinian Return Centre, an Islamist lobby group considered by intelligence agencies to be a front for Hamas; and Al-Hiwar TV, a Muslim Brotherhood-controlled television station that was recently fined $158,000 for broadcasting a speech that advocated murder as a punishment for blasphemy.

In light of this assortment of speakers and supporters, have British politicians sought to distance themselves from that array of views?

Not in the least: Politicians and public officials speaking at the upcoming event include Andrew Slaughter MP, the shadow Justice Minister; Sadiq Khan, the Shadow Secretary of State for Justice; Lord Falconer of Thoroton QC, a Labour Peer; Simon Hughes MP, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats; Khurshid Drabu, a senior immigration Judge; and Shahid Malik, former Minister for International Development. Malik met with Hamas leaders in 2012.

Most remarkably, alongside the extremist organizations, two other "supporters" of the conference include the Metropolitan Police and the City of London Police.

Does the focus on the extremist speakers and the affiliated extremist groups unfairly impose guilt-by-association upon the conference organizers?

Apparently not: Of the 29 announced conference speakers, six are public officials or politicians. Of the remaining 23 announced speakers, 19 have expressed extremist views, as listed above.

In other words, the conference speakers can be categorized as follows: 65% are self-proclaimed anti-Semitic, misogynist, homophobic and pro-terror preachers, 20% are public servants offering legitimacy and moral credibility to them, while the remaining 15% could perhaps claim to be part of the conference's "project dedicated to creating a more harmonious world" -- or, as Simon Hughes MP told the conference in 2008, "Peace and unity...thanks be to Allah...a fantastic thing."

It is all the more astounding, then, that leading politicians have chosen to proclaim the men who espouse these views as cheerleaders for "peace and unity" and a "diverse...tolerant Britain."

The abundance of information already published about the Global Peace and Unity Conferences suggests that politicians are not oblivious to the sort of ideas to which they offer their political legitimacy; rather, they are perfectly cognizant, but have chosen collaboration over criticism. In doing so, are these public servants not actually promoting radical Islamism as the future of Western Islam, and betraying genuinely moderate Muslims everywhere?

Samuel Westrop


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Former CIA Head Calls for Pollard's Release

by Yori Yalon and Israel Hayom Staff

James Woolsey, who led the CIA from 1993 to 1995, says imprisoned Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard should be released from U.S. prison, as he has been in jail much longer than spies working for other U.S. allies.

Imprisoned Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard
Photo credit: AP

Yori Yalon and Israel Hayom Staff


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Egyptian NASA Scientist Essam Heggy: Sexual Harassment The Real Reason For Women's Illiteracy In Egypt


NASA scientist Essam Heggy, who serves as the scientific advisor to Egypt's president, was recently interviewed by several Egyptian TV channels, and spoke about the need to reform relations between men and women in Egyptian society. "The only absolute right enjoyed by Egyptian women is the right to get married, said Heggy, who called to "confront the 'black box' of customs and traditions" and to "plant the seeds of tolerance."
Following are excerpts from the interviews, which aired on Al-Hayat TV on August 25, on Al-Kahera Wal-Nas TV on September 2, and on CBC TV on September 28, 2013:
Click here to view this clip on MEMRI TV

Al-Hayat TV, August 25, 2013
Essam Heggy: "We are in need of education, and we need to fight our society's erroneous customs. I have said, more than once, that our problem as a society is that we are afraid to confront the "black box" of traditions and customs. We do not exercise any introspection, and we don't acknowledge that some things stem from our customs, not our religion.
"I have said that the most important thing that we examine is the reform of relations between men and women in Egyptian society. These distorted relations are evident in all aspects of our daily life. Fanaticism is part of this flaw, and so is the lack of dialogue."
Interviewer: "Was the Egypt you left 17 years ago more tolerant than today?"
Essam Heggy: "Today, we are more fanatic, because the values of tolerance and equality are not a wild flower that can grow just anywhere. If we do not plant the seeds of tolerance in universities and schools and at home, we will not find them anywhere. We claim to be a tolerant people. Do we really teach tolerance at school or at university? Do you exercise it at home? [...]
"For years we have been fighting the wrong enemy. For years we have been talking about conspiracies, betrayal, and collaborators, while the real enemy – the one we should be fighting – is ignorance. Today, we have begun fighting it in schools and universities. This is the only enemy with which you cannot build friendly relations. Even with an infidel you can establish a friendship, but not with ignorance – either you kill it, or else it will kill you." [...]
Al-Kahera Wal-Nas TV, September 2, 2013
Essam Heggy: "When the military steps in, it is viewed in the West as a setback to democracy. In the West, they view the military in a different light than we do. For them, the army symbolizes the U.S. Civil War, and World War II in Europe. We were nations living under colonialism. For us, the army symbolizes liberation. The original function of the Arab armies – from Morocco to Iraq – was to fend off the colonialist powers. This is something in our culture that they do not understand. Even when we explain this to them, they do not understand. [...]
"The first thing we must do, if we want to reform this country, is to reform the ailing relations between men and women in Egyptian society."
Interviewer: "You are saying this for the sake of our science..."
Essam Heggy: "Let me explain why I, the scientific advisor to the president, am talking about this. A young man, aged 20-35, working for me at NASA, deals with complex problems and invests his mental capacities in creative innovation, and this is how we build all those great spacecrafts.
"What does a guy here, aged 20-35, deal with? He deals with engagement presents, dowries, marriage... He struggles just to find his partner in life. Given all this, what can we expect of him? Can we expect him to be creative? That's unrealistic." [...]
CBC TV, September 28, 2013
Essam Heggy: "I had never imagined the real reason for the spread of illiteracy among women. I always thought that the main reason was poverty."
Interviewer: "Because women must work or get married..."
Essam Heggy: "I thought that the second reason must be shortage of schools. Obviously, these arsons are important, but the main reason, about which there is a consensus, is the sexual harassment in the streets and in schools, as well as the backward customs and traditions, according to which girls should not go to school when they grow up. This is the main reason for girls dropping out of junior high."
Interviewer: "Sexual harassment?"
Essam Heggy: "Yes. The issues we are dealing with are secondary. We talk about sexual harassment maybe one minute every month, because we have more "important" issues, which we debate and which receive worldwide attention. But this is not enough – harassment has become the primary cause for girls giving up on high school and university education. [...]
"The only absolute right enjoyed by Egyptian women is the right to get married. The right to education – some say yes, and some say no. The right to work – some say yes, and some say no. The right to travel – some say yes, and some say no. There is a consensus only about marriage. Is it conceivable that in the 21st century, the primary role of half our society should be marriage? Is it conceivable that the greatest industry of our society today is the industry of marriage?" [...]



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The Iranian Hostage Crisis: 34 Years Later

by Majid Rafizadeh


As the Obama administration stays determined to push for domestic and foreign policies that would prevent further pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran, attempting to diplomatically and pleasantly reach out to the Islamists in Iran, just this week Islamist Iranian leaders responded to Obama’s outreach and foreign policies with a robust reaffirmation of their antagonism towards the United States and Israel.

This Monday marked the 34th anniversary of the American Embassy takeover in Iran, which led to 52 Americans being held hostage for several months in Tehran during the Carter administration. Contrary to what many liberal policy analysts in the Obama administration thought, and despite their recent portrayal of the constructive ties between the Islamists in Iran and United States, several powerful political Iranian institutions called for one of the biggest rallies this week.

Tens of thousands of Iranian demonstrators packed the streets outside the former US embassy in Tehran. Hundreds of thousands also demonstrated against Israel and the US in various cities across the country. This call to rally against the United States and Israel created one of the most unprecedented demonstrations in size and scope. Many Western and Eastern media outlets reported that these gatherings were the biggest anti-US and anti-Israel rally in years. Even according to Iran’s official media, millions of people participated in the protests around the country, resulting in the largest anti-US and anti-Israel demonstration turnout in years.

Additionally, the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran declared November 4th as the “National Day against Global Arrogance.” While this week, tens of thousands of Iranians shouted “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.” The burning of American and Israeli flags took place throughout Iranian cities. Furthermore, effigies of US President Barack Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and US Secretary of State John Kerry were held up high by protestors.

The more the Obama administration pushes for a weakening of policies towards Iran — such as compromising and calling the ruling party “moderate” — the more the Islamic Republic of Iran is sending formidable signs to the United States that it will not put away its antagonizing policies towards the United States.

For 34 years, the United States and the international community have tried—through unilateral, bilateral, and multilateral talks, diplomatic initiatives, and later through sanctions, political, and economic pressure— to persuade the leaders of the Islamist state of Iran to change their extremist domestic and foreign policies, and to respect the modern standards of the international community, the United Nations, International Atomic Energy Agency, Amnesty International, and other human rights watch groups.

None of these political and diplomatic approaches have yielded a positive result. Not only have extremist Iranian leaders not scaled down their aggressive foreign policy and their support for terrorist proxies, but they have also increased their domestic repression, human rights abuses, imprisonment and execution of political and human rights activists, along with their persecution of Christians, Jews, and Baha’is.

After all the efforts undertaken by the international community, the Obama administration is, in a sense, restarting its foreign policy from a clean slate. President Obama is attempting to use pleasant diplomatic language with Iranian leaders to ease sanctions on the nation. According to Iranian media, Eastern mainstream news, and some Western outlets, President Obama has repeatedly and desperately begged President Rouhani to speak with him on the phone.

In the arena of international politics taking such initiatives a crucial issue arises, President Obama is significantly weakening the geopolitical position of the United States and emboldening the power of the hardliners and extremists in Iran.

Recently, one of the most powerful military and ideologically hardlined institutions in Iran, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) stated on the Persian Sepah News website, that the slogan “Death to America” was a sign, and manifestation, of the Iranian people’s will, determination, and robust resistance against “the dominance of oppressive and untrustworthy America.” Hardliners even announced a few days before the protests that they composed several new anti-American Islamist songs to be played next to the American embassy.

Additionally, during the opening session of Iran’s parliament (Majlis), all members of the Majlis joined the hardliners’ call, stating that they will proudly carry the slogan “Death to America.”

Beside all these foreign policy gaffs, the Obama administration is currently pushing to invite Iran to the Geneva II conference. Kerry has repeatedly called to engage Iran in the upcoming Geneva Conference.

The matter of fact is that the key political institutions of Iran- such as the IRGC, the paramilitary Basij militia, the ministry of intelligence and security, the Mostazafan Foundation of Islamic Revolution (which owns and manages approximately 350 subsidiary and affiliate companies in fields including industry, transportation, commerce, agriculture, and tourism), the Supreme National Security Council, the army, and the Expediency Council- have made it clear that their antagonism towards the United States and Israel is an unalterable part of their policies. The reason that these institutions exist is based on their fundamental ideology to act against Washington and Tel Aviv. Their existence, and Islamic legitimacy, will be endangered if they change this fundamental Islamic ideology.

Majid Rafizadeh


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Islamist Firebrand Convicted of Incitement to Violence

by Edna Edato

Jerusalem court convicts Raed Salah over speech that called for a popular uprising, used the words 'blood' and 'martyr' repeatedly and seemed to encourage violence against security forces • Salah's defense: His speech was in a gray zone.

Leader of the Islamist Movement's northern branch Sheikh Raad Salah
Photo credit: Israel Police

Photo credit: Israel Police
A Jerusalem Magistrates' Court judge convicted Islamic Movement northern branch leader Sheikh Raed Salah of incitement on Thursday for giving a sermon calling for a third intifada, leading to public disorder and violence. Salah was acquitted of incitement to racism charges.
Salah was indicted in 2008. The indictment stated that on Feb. 16, 2007, Salah appealed to hundreds of his supporters in the north, where he leads the local branch of the Islamic Movement, calling on every Muslim to "start the Arab Islamist intifada, from ocean to ocean, to support the holy city of Jerusalem and the blessed Al-Aqsa mosque."

"We never allowed ourselves to knead the bread of the holy Ramadan breakfast with the blood of children. If someone wants a more detailed explanation then all they need to do is ask what happens to some of the children in Europe, if their blood is used to knead holy bread," Salah said.

"On that same day all the streets of holy Jerusalem will be purged of the blood of innocents, who let their own blood exacting the souls of Israeli occupation soldiers occupying the blessed Al-Aqsa mosque ... I say clearly and without hesitation, you who incite against us, do not be tempted by the ranks on your shoulders. These ranks and stars on your shoulders are made from the skulls of our martyrs," he said. 

The indictment stated that Salah's speech was interrupted several times by excited crowd members. Some called out "Allah is great." Others shouted, "With our life and blood we will redeem you, Al-Aqsa." 

At the end of his speech and following prayers, the crowd became agitated. A few individuals threw stones at nearby police officers. In the ensuing commotion between security forces and the Palestinian protesters, three border guards were wounded.

Salah's defense attorney claimed that the charges against his client "were in the gray zone between the legal right to freedom of expressions and the limits of the law." 

"His statements were made on the backdrop of an intense protest," he said. 

Judge Hannah Miriam Lomp ruled that Salah's speech was incitement to violence because he called for a popular uprising. She mentioned repeated use of the words "blood" and the phrase "we will meet God as martyrs on the blessed Al-Aqsa grounds" as further proof that his speech encouraged violence. 

"Indeed the freedom of expression is a supreme value in any democracy, but this freedom is not without limits. The state is obligated to shield its citizens and security forces from violence, so it cannot tolerate statements that call to harm [the state] or security forces," she said. 

The judge cleared Salah of incitement to racism, saying that the prosecution could not prove "beyond reasonable doubt that there existed a causation between the riots that broke out and the defendant's speech." She further noted that the defendant's comments on blood libel "were not entirely clear; they conflated various terms from different religions. For example, the defendant said that the blood of children was mixed with the holy bread -- which is a type of bread used by Christians -- not with matzah, the bread of affliction consumed on Passover according to Jewish tradition, and which was originally associated with the blood libel in Europe. The defendant denied he was referring to the Damascus Blood Libel and I accept that. Therefore, due to the lack of clarity in his comments and in light of the explanations he provided I harbor doubts as to whether he was aware of the implications of his actions and the likelihood that they would lead to violence and racism. Therefore, the defendant is found not guilty on the count of incitement to racism." 

Salah's sentencing hearing will take place at a later date. Several years ago, Salah was found guilty of disorderly conduct, in addition to accosting a public official near the Temple Mount. He was sentenced to nine months in prison and to another six months in prison as part of a suspended sentence, in addition to a 7,500 shekel ($2,100) fine. Salah's assault consisted of spitting on a border policeman. 

Judge Yitzhak Shimoni, who presided over his first trial, said, "This is a harsh sentence that is designed to make the defendant internalize the severity of his crimes; his action are not just disrespectful of the policeman but also express hatred and a lack of respect to uniformed personnel who represent the rule of law in the state of Israel and the foundations of our government."

Edna Edato


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