Friday, November 15, 2013

Mordechai Kedar: The Shi'ite Day of Atonement


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)

This week, on the tenth of the month of Muharram, the first month of the Hijri calendar, is Ashura, which at first was akin to the Jewish Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, occurring on a similar date. However, over the years, this day has become a memorial day for Hussein bin Ali, leader of the Shi'ite sect, who was executed by the army of the Sunni regime in southern Iraq in the year 680 CE, 1333 years ago. He was decapitated and his head was ceremoniously brought to Damascus as proof that the deed had been carried out. Caliph Yazid bin Muawiyah placed Hussein's head on his table and left it there for a month, so that all could see the fate that befalls a rebel and would be deterred from behaving as he did. The fact that Hussein was the grandson of Mohammad the prophet of Islam did not prevent the caliph from treating Hussein's head in this manner.

What is the cause of the Shi'ite-Sunni conflict? Why the terrible cruelty that has been characteristic of this conflict even until today?

The story begins in the year 632, the moment that Muhammad died. Immediately upon his death the struggle began over who would succeed to the most powerful position in Islam - the office of Caliph, Muhammad's replacement and the leader of Islam. Ali bin Abi Talib was Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law, since he was married to Fatima, daughter of Allah's messenger and his first wife, Hadija. Fatima bore to Ali two sons, Hasan and Hussein, and two daughters - Zainab and Umm Kulthum.

While Muhammad was still alive, his daughter Fatima quarreled with Aisha, Muhammad's last wife, who was younger than Fatima by several years. After Muhammad's death, Aisha's father, Abu Bakr, was appointed as the leader of Islam, which was against Fatima's wishes, who saw her husband Ali as the natural successor to Muhammad, since he was Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law, as well as the father of Muhammad's grandchildren.

There were severe struggles among the group of people that surrounded the first three caliphs, Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman because of the family feud over who would inherit the leadership. Ali was eventually appointed as the fourth caliph in the year 656 after his predecessor, Uthman, was murdered. Those who opposed Ali, principally members of the Umayyah family, accused him of being involved in the murder of Uthman and during all five years that he ruled, he had to fight his adversaries continually. The governor of Syria, Muawiya, rose up and pronounced himself caliph. His son, Yazid, was the caliph who gave the instructions to murder Hussein bin Ali.

The murder of Hussein occurred in Southern Iraq, near the city of Karbala. He was murdered together with several dozens of his friends and family members, with only one baby surviving to continue the dynasty. The murder, which occurred in 680 - remains the defining event for "Shi'at Ali", the "sect of Ali", which is the source of the name "Shi'ite", the name of the stream of Islam that supports the leadership of Ali's descendants.

This family conflict has been ongoing for almost 1400 years.
Until the year 1258, with the fall of Baghdad, the capital of the Abbasid dynasty, all of the caliphs of Islam for over six hundred years were from Muhammad's tribe, the tribe of Quraysh, but they were never the descendants of Ali. This situation placed Shi'a in continual opposition to the ruling regime and they became a harshly persecuted group throughout the history of Islam.

The struggle between the two groups has led to the development of great differences between the two in every area of religious life: religious laws are different, the theology is different, and even the basic scriptures are different: The Shi'ites claim that the Sunnis omitted two chapters from the Qur'an where the leadership was promised to Ali and his descendants, while the Sunnis claim that these two chapters were fabricated by the Shi'ites. The oral law is also different, because each side invented stories about Muhammad to support their political position.

In their prayers, the Shi'ites curse the first three caliphs for stealing the rule from Ali, and they add passages that praise and exalt Ali. Therefore there are many among the Sunnis, especially the
Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia, who consider Shi'a as a kind of fundamental heresy. The Saudi regime forbids the Shi'ite minority to recite the call to prayer aloud, because even in the muezzin's call to prayer there is an extra part praising Ali.

The Shi'ites commemorate the Ashura - a memorial day for the murder of Hussein bin Ali - with very impressive events of "ta'aziah" (consolation). In some places they march in the streets and beat their backs with knives and chains even to the point of drawing blood, and in other places they meet to recite laments, weeping and wailing. All of these events carry a harsh anti-Sunni message, which perpetuates the hostility between the two groups of Islam.

Shi'ites are persecuted in every Islamic country where they do not rule: Saddam Hussein forbade the Shi'ites to commemorate Ashura, and on that day, Shi'ites were forbidden to gather in the streets. Any group of more than three Shi'ites that was caught in public on this day was sent to prison. In Lebanon, the Shi'ites were a marginal, oppressed and degraded group. This provided the social background for the development of Hizb'Allah, which eventually took control of Lebanon in revenge for hundreds of years of oppression and marginalization.

In one of the Arab villages in northern Israel, a number of families changed over to the Shi'ite side of Islam after Hizb'Allah's "divine victory" in 2006, and as a result, these families have been banned: their youth were expelled from the schools and the stores in the village were closed to them. A few months ago in Egypt, a leader of the small Shi'ite sect was slaughtered together with several of his aides, and in Europe there are mosques that have been built with Saudi money on condition that Shi'ites will not be permitted to enter their gates.

Iran's behavior totally fits with the history of the battle between Shi'a and Sunna: the Iranian, Shi'ite Ayatollahs' sweetest dream is to control Mecca and Medina, so that they can throw the Sunni Wahhabis out of these Islamic holy places, and restore the Shi'ites, the descendants of Ali, the fourth caliph, to power. This is the basis for the great hostility between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and the sense of a great and real threat that Saudi Arabia feels these days because of the Iranian military nuclear project.

Israel is a punching bag for both streams of Islam: the Sunnis see Jerusalem as the third holiest place in Islam as a result of the political problems of the seventh century, when the House of Umayyah, which ruled in Damascus, adopted Jerusalem as the religious and political center to compete with Mecca. The Shi'ites - traditionally - did not see Jerusalem as a holy place, because it had been "sanctified" by the House of Umayyah, the despised murderers of Hussein bin Ali.

But in modern politics, both sides compete against each other in the struggle for religious legitimacy, because each side wants to present itself as the better jihad fighter against the Jews. Thus, Jerusalem is "holy" to the Shi'ites too: Iran established the "Quds" force ("Quds" is "holy" in Arabic, and part of the Arabic name for Jerusalem: al-Quds) to spread terror throughout the world, and every year Hizb'Allah organizes "Jerusalem Day" in conjunction with the Iranians.

But the ongoing political wars between Sunna and Shi'a still cause many thousands of deaths: the eight year war (1980-1988) between Iraq, which was then ruled by the Sunni Saddam Hussein, and Iran of the Shi'ite Ayatollahs, resulted in well over a million deaths on both sides, all of whom were Muslims who were killed by other Muslims. Since 2003, Iraq has returned to sectarian war as Sunni jihadists blow up car bombs and truck bombs in Shi'ite neighborhoods, and in revenge, Shi'ites blow up vehicles loaded with explosives in Sunnis areas. This front has cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children until now.

Shi'ite commemorative events such as the Ashura (which occurs this week) and the fortieth day afterward, are "special favorites" of Sunni terror operatives, because the mass processions and large gatherings of Shi'ites in ta'aziah rituals make an attractive and effective target for anyone who is interested in harming Shi'ites. In a number of past events it was enough for a rumor to be spread that a terrorist had entered the Shi'ite crowd to cause a stampede causing hundreds of people to fall from bridges and be trampled to death.

There are groups of Shi'ites in Pakistan and Afghanistan as well. The members of these groups are considered to be unclean and Shi'ite mosques in these cities are a regular target for terror attacks by radical Sunnis, especially members of al-Qaeda. In the past, there have been attempts to mediate and reconcile the two streams of Islam, but the all-out war being conducted in Syria for the past three years has shuffled all the cards, because in this country too,
supported by Iranian weapons, monies and Shi'ite fighters, the Alawite, infidel regime has been ceaselessly slaughtering its Sunni citizens, and has caused the death of about two hundred thousand citizens and has made refugees of millions of people, who are living a life of suffering and misery.

Ali and Muawiya, the fourth and fifth caliphs from the middle of the seventh century, have been in their graves for some time, but the struggle between them for the rule of Islam continues to claim casualties among their supporters and adherents, who are all, every single one, Muslims.


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 SallyZahav 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.

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

Media Response to Soldier Stabbing Shames Us

by Raheem Kassam

Screen Shot 2013-11-13 at 14.07.17

When a stone-throwing Palestinian teenager is injured, or perhaps even arrested, you can bet your bottom dollar that the world’s media will be there. Well, by “there” I mean on the phone to a freelance photographer on the ground, willing to cough up thousands of pounds to buy and publish pictures and video.

Of course, such an incident is usually followed by “mass protests”, which usually involves around a hundred Western activists taking to the dirt roads of the Palestinian territories acting like fools in front of some cameras. The BBC, the Guardian, the New York Times – they all revel in it.

Soon enough, Jeremy Bowen is filing dispatches from the front-line, claiming that the “Israeli response has been heavy handed” or that “ordinary Palestinians are up in arms” or something or the sort. Some reference will be made to settlements, another to Gaza’s “water crisis” and if we’re lucky we’ll be treated to a nod towards “the Jewish lobby” and its global influence.

Rinse and repeat.

But not if the victim of an incident in the region is Israeli. No, no, no.

That, to the media’s mind, must be buried as a story, much like the horrifying terrorist incident from this morning has been.

As you may or may not know by now, Eden Atias, a 19-year-old soldier from Nazareth Illit, was taken to hospital this morning after being stabbed in his sleep by a Palestinian boy of just 16. Atias died, and it has been discovered that the clearly radicalised assailant, (perhaps even with our aid money), was turned over to the police.

I struggled to find any such reaction as I described above to this morning’s events. The Times of Israel has wide coverage of the horrific attack, but Sky News has buried the story, so too has the BBC, instead heading up their “Middle East” section with the story entitled, “Israel rethinks settlement plans”. When you do stumble up their coverage, it is patently just Reuters copy.

The Telegraph is even worse. No coverage in the “World” section, nothing in the “Middle East” section, and not even a word in the “Israel” sub-section. Their top story on Israel? “Israel cancels plans for 20,000 new settler homes”.

Pvt Eden Atias
Pvt Eden Atias

The Guardian fairs better in coverage of the story, placing it third on their list in the “World” section. Harriet Sherwood, their Jerusalem correspondent, even manages to write the entire copy, rather than just pasting from Reuters. This however is easily explained, as no doubt the Guardian and Sherwood wanted to somehow blame Israel for the entire attack, a message that comes through when quoting John Kerry on the need for peace to avoid further terrorism, and when using this non-sequitur closing line: “According to the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem, there were 4,806 Palestinian security prisoners and detainees in Israeli jails at the end of September.”
Relevant? Not at all. Just their usual dig.

There’s nothing on The Independent’s website, and nothing on the Daily Mail either. Even The Times is barren.

When one of our own, off-duty, British soldiers died by a knife-attack on the streets of London, the world’s media focused on the terrorist incident. And rightly so. While the response of some politicians and journalists may have been farouche on the Islam question, at least it can be said that the global media, and not just our own, reacted with the relevant outrage at the incident in question.

The Times of Israel for instance, had 10 stories on the topic. It was splashed on the front pages of numerous papers from around the world, and media commentators were discussing it for weeks after it happened. In a way, we still are.

But somehow, and I feel very bad for this, I don’t think Eden Atias will get the same attention.

In failing to report on the incident effectively, the British media is again proving that it is not an objective source for information, and it shames the memory of both Private Eden Atias, and of Drummer Lee Rigby, that due respect and attention has not been paid to this cowardly attack.

Raheem Kassam is the founder and editor of

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

Queen Rania Of Jordan: We Owe It To Our Religion To Denounce Islamic Fanaticism


Following are excerpts from an interview with Queen Rania Abdallah of Jordan, which aired on Al-Arabiya TV on October 28, 2013:

Click here to view this clip on MEMRI TV

"When [Arab Youth] Leave Their Computers, They Return To The Real World And They See That Nobody Cares About What They Have To Say, That They Enjoy No Freedom"

Queen Rania Abdallah: "When we talk about the youth, I believe that part of the reason for their frustration, which may have led to some of the revolutions we witness in the Arab world, is that Arab youth today live in two different worlds – the real world and the virtual world. The Internet has broadened the horizons of our youth, has opened up the world to them, and has raised the level of their expectations. 

"Today, when our youth sit in front of the computer, they enter the virtual world. In that world, they develop a certain personality and identity for themselves, they communicate with others, they express themselves freely and comfortably. They influence the opinions of others, they see how others live their lives, and what choices are available to them. When they leave their computers, they return to the real world and they see that nobody cares about what they have to say, that they enjoy no freedom, have no real choices, and that their hands are tied. So they have a sense of sorrow and disappointment.

"These feelings lead to frustration, which at times leads to violence. So our priority should be to bridge the gap between the two worlds, in order to make an easy transition between the two. How can we do this? By providing our youth with skills, capabilities, and tools that will give them greater opportunities. In my opinion, providing a choice is the basis for freedom and independence. That way, we can provide people with greater room for participation, in order to change the reality around them.

"When we talk about mutual agreement, we are talking about a dialogue that brings together all parties. Dialogue should be conducted in a calm, constructive, and objective manner. It should involve negotiations, which include concessions by all parties. Democracy gives rise to the legitimacy of the ballot, but this legitimacy is not absolute. After rising to power, one needs to gain the legitimacy of accomplishments, which is the most important. The transitional stage that we are witnessing today in the Arab world may be just a point in history. But building a deeply-rooted and viable democracy, which is firmly planted in our heritage, our history, our principles and our values – this will take generations. It must take its time." [...]

"The Polarization, Growing Tension, And Incitement... Do Not Benefit Anybody... The Greatest Threat Facing The Arab World Today Is That Of Being Torn Apart From Within"

"I am no expert in politics, but I know one thing: the polarization, growing tension, and incitement prevailing in the Arab world do not benefit anybody, but harm everybody. We are not in some zero-sum game, in which there is a winner and a loser. From the situation we are in today, either we will all emerge as winners, or else we will all drown together. Nobody will win at the expense of others.

"In my view, the greatest threat facing the Arab world today is that of being torn apart from within, through disintegration into secondary identities.

"We Should Be Honest With Ourselves... In Various Places In The World, Where The Affronts And Violence Are Perpetrated In The Name Of Islam"

"Many people say that what is happening in the Arab world today is the result of an external conspiracy. In my view, we cannot determine who is conspiring against us and who isn't, but to what extent the conspiracy is successful is 100% up to us. [...]

"The stereotypical image of Islam prevailing today is, I'm sad to say, that it is a religion of hatred and violence, and that all the Muslims are terrorists. This is a serious problem, which we must not ignore. It breeds fear and suspicion of the Muslims, and also encourages prejudice and bias toward them. We must take this seriously because this image is as far from the truth as can be.

"For the millions of Muslims worldwide, Islam is a religion of humanitarian values and of the principles of goodness. We need to try to highlight this image of Islam. Whenever we hear about or see someone we love being hurt, we rush to his defense. So what about our religion – a religion that is a part of our identity, or our very being, of our moral values, of the way we interacts with one another? It is the religion on which we grew up and on which we raise our children. Does it not deserve our defense? [...]

"Without a doubt, there is ignorance regarding Islam, and there are affronts. But when we talk about affronts, we should be honest with ourselves, and look at what is happening in various places in the world, where the affronts and violence are perpetrated in the name of Islam.

"Unfortunately, this violence strengthens the stereotypical image of Islam. Islam, along with all the monotheistic religions, is built upon compassion." [...]

"We Must Renounce [Violence And Fanaticism]... Not In Order To Improve Our Image In The West, But Because We Owe This To Our Religion"

"The religious discourse that we hear so loud today has fallen hostage to fatwas of takfir, of fanaticism, and of ideological closed-mindedness, as well as to calls for extremism, for hatred, and for sectarian strife. What ever happened to the language of compassion? With the discourse, we harm ourselves much more than the West harms us. We must return to the essence of our religion. We must speak loud and clear in defending our religion. When we see people distorting the image of our religion...

"A few months ago, for example, we saw a man who calls himself a Muslim killing an innocent man in Britain, grabbing his decapitated head, and saying: 'This is for the nation.' What nation?!

"We must renounce things like that. We must denounce this loudly, not cautiously. We should do so not in order to improve our image in the West, but because we owe this to our religion." [...]



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Netanyahu’s Warning

by Joseph Klein


Thirty years ago President Ronald Reagan famously said, “We maintain the peace through our strength; weakness only invites aggression.”

Winston Churchill summed up the fatal flaw of appeasement years earlier this way: “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile—hoping it will eat him last.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has taken these words and the lessons of history to heart. He has warned repeatedly how a bad deal with Iran over its nuclear program can have catastrophic consequences for international peace and security. Unless and until Iran is verifiably stripped entirely of its nuclear enrichment capabilities, he believes, the sanctions in place must continue in full force. Prime Minister Netanyahu understands the peril in allowing Iran to get a nuclear weapon. Weakness will only abet the crocodile’s appetite. “I would go so far as to say that a bad deal could lead to the second, undesired option,” Netanyahu said this week. He was evidently alluding to the military option that may be the only means left to stop Iran in time if bad diplomacy leaves Iran a clear path to achieving its nuclear arms objective.

President Obama, on the other hand, is so intent on getting Iran’s signature on a piece of paper that it doesn’t much matter to him what the paper says. At least it will divert public attention away from the travails of Obamacare. But the Obama administration’s weak-kneed negotiation strategy is inviting Iran to gain new terrifying tools of aggression.

The Telegraph reported last week that a source in very close recent contact with the White House “described a meeting with White House officials that opened with Mr. Kerry’s off-repeated line ‘no deal is better than a bad deal,’ but ended with officials admitting that a ‘bad deal is better than no deal’ since the alternative option is ‘to go to war or accept Iranian nukes.’”

A bad deal for us is exactly what the Obama administration offered to Iran last weekend as the enticement for launching more extensive talks on a final comprehensive agreement. For Iran, as Prime Minister Netanyahu said, it was the “deal of the century.” Yet Iran still turned it down because it did not formally codify at this stage of negotiations Iran’s self-declared inherent right to enrich uranium on its soil.

In return for some immediate relief from the sanctions under the proposed deal Iran rejected, Iran needed only to partially suspend its uranium enrichment at the 20 percent level. It could keep all of its centrifuges and its existing stockpile of enriched uranium, as well as continue to enrich uranium at lower levels. Iran has exploited such openings before, gaining the breathing room it needed to move closer to the finish line of a nuclear arms capability. It is unclear what Iran would have been asked to do about its alternative potential path to a nuclear bomb – the heavy-water reactor in Arak that could yield plutonium. Construction might have been allowed to continue so long as the reactor was not put into full operational mode.

In other words, the Obama administration was prepared to begin unraveling immediately the tight sanctions regime that brought Iran to the negotiating table in the first place in exchange for a pig in a poke.

According to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, “the proposed sanctions relief could yield Iran $20 billion or more through the repatriation of frozen Iranian assets, gold transfers to Iran in exchange for its oil and natural gas sales, petrochemicals exports, and the lifting of sanctions on the Iranian auto sector.” The Foundation estimates that Iran’s total foreign exchange reserves would grow immediately by 25 percent and its fully accessible foreign exchange reserves currently available would double.

Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz has estimated that Iran could gain an even bigger windfall from the proposed sanctions relief, as much as $40 billion or 40% of the sanctions’ total effect, because “the proposed changes would also make it more difficult to enforce other sanctions.”

Once the sanctions genie is let out of the bottle even part way, it will be very difficult to return it all the way back into the bottle again. The unified front currently existing among the United States and its allies in implementing the far-ranging sanctions would become a thing of the past.

A growing bipartisan group of senators and members of the House of Representatives are growing increasingly impatient with the Obama administration’s handling of Iran. Some are pressing to impose even more sanctions, a move that the Obama administration is vigorously opposing.

“We are still determining if there’s a diplomatic path forward,” State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Tuesday. “What we are asking for right now is a pause, a temporary pause, in sanctions. We are not taking away sanctions. We are not rolling them back. This is about ensuring that our legislative strategy and our negotiating strategy and (sic) running hand in hand.”

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on Tuesday went so far as to say that lawmakers pushing for new sanctions against Iran could be putting Washington on “a march to war,” against the wishes of the American people. Secretary of State John Kerry briefed members of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee behind closed doors on Wednesday regarding the status of the negotiations. Ahead of that meeting, Kerry warned that “if Congress were to unilaterally move to raise sanctions, it could break faith in those negotiations, and actually stop them and break them apart.”

The senators and members of the House of Representatives who are pressing for more sanctions, sooner rather than later, have serious doubts about where the Obama administration’s negotiation strategy is heading. Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., for example, was one of the senators who met with Kerry and said he asked the Secretary of State: “What is your endgame here?”

Neither President Obama nor Secretary of State Kerry have leveled with Congress or the American people as to what their endgame really is, assuming they even have one in mind. Dithering around with North Korea in fruitless negotiations led to the endgame of a nuclear armed North Korea. Are we headed down the same road with respect to Iran, relying in the future on containment of a country led by theocratic megalomaniacs? As Ronald Reagan said, “weakness only invites aggression.”

Joseph Klein


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Open Season on Jews?

by Colin Flaherty

Open season on Jews continues. 

The latest reported example of black mob violence on Jews came last Sunday night in the Orthodox enclave of Crown Heights. A security video obtained by, shows a group of black people punching a young Jewish man in face. 

The video is so compelling and the number of recent cases so great that some network affiliates are having a hard time ignoring it.

There are lots of examples. The local NBC affiliate reports:
One man who didn't want to be identified told Slattery his 12-year-old son was attacked in the same way.
"It's clearly anti-Semitism," the man said.
The 64-year-old said his son, who was dressed in traditional Jewish clothing, was attacked last Wednesday afternoon on President Street.
"One, full strength with his fist, whacked him, punched him, on the side of the face, full force," the man said.
The child went to the ground as he heard the group of five to six teens yell out.

"A hysterical, happy shout, 'We got him,'" the man said.
Video also shows a 19-year-old Jewish man being sucker-punched.
"He was actually holding an expensive camera. And they punched him and nothing was stolen," Rabbi Yaacov Behrman said.
Over the last two months, New York police and Jewish leaders in Brooklyn report 8 episodes of black mob violence and vandalism against Jews. Some on video.

The black mob on Jewish violence is part of a pattern documented in White Girl Bleed a Lot: The Return of Racial Violence to America and How the Media Ignore it.

Rabbi Berhman said he believes black people are playing the Knockout Game.

The Knockout Game is a form of black on white crime where a black person, or a group of black people, punch a white person in the face until that person is knocked out. It is also played with Asians, old people, and gay people.

The genesis of the game and how widespread -- and sometimes deadly it is -- is documented in White Girl Bleed a Lot.

At least one Jewish leader in Brooklyn told the ABC News affiliate that race probably had nothing to do with the 8 attacks and acts of vandalism directed at Jews.
"I don't think it's part of an overall racial tension in the area, it's just something that's somehow got into the minds of some youngsters," said Rabbi Eli Cohen of the Jewish Community Council.
Police commissioner Ray Kelly said it is too soon to tell if the attacks form any kind of pattern. But he will let us know.

The last reporting on a rash of black on Jewish violence took place last summer when the New York Post ran a story headlined: "Anti-Jewish crime wave:"
"In the most disturbing incident, a mob of six black teenagers shouting, "Dirty Jew!" and "Dirty kike!" repeatedly bashed Marc Heinberg, 61, as he walked home from temple in Sheepshead Bay (in June.)"
This was one of several black mob attacks on -- and robberies of -- Jewish people in Brooklyn over the last three years -- leaving broken bones and life threatening injuries in their wake. 

In February 2012, four black people beat and robbed an Orthodox Jew in the New York suburb of Monsey. They were charged with hate crimes after it was determined they targeted the victim based on his religion. ABC reports the suspects confessed "they were out to rob a Jew."

In the final days of October 2012, a man hurrying home to seek shelter from the hurricane was set upon -- on video -- by a group of five black people. The knocked him out, robbed him, and stepped on his head before walking away.

A few days later, the Crown Heights news reports:" A young Jewish boy was attacked this evening while on his way home. The victim, a 10 year old was returning home from Yeshivas Erev. At approximately 8:15pm he was accosted by a large group of black youths near the corner of Kingston Ave and Lefferts Ave."

The most famous case of black mob violence directed at Jews came in 1991 when a religious student hit and killed a black child while driving a car through Crown Heights. Al Sharpton led rallies to protest what he said was unequal medical treatment given to the black child. 

The incident touched off several days of black riots in Crown Heights. One Jew was killed. "There is a feeling here that the hatred must run so deep," said the ABC correspondent of the widespread black mob violence, "that a traffic accident could trigger what is going on here now."

Colin Flaherty


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

The Myth of Islamic Extremism

by Daniel Greenfield


The question of Islamic extremism has more relevance to Muslims than to non-Muslims. It’s mainly Muslims who are obsessed with Islamic extremism. And with good reason. As they so often point out; they tend to be its leading victims.

It’s not that Islamic extremism doesn’t exist. Islam, like every ideology, has its gradations. It’s that for Muslims, there is a great deal at stake in the battle over Islamic extremism. That battle will determine whether they can listen to music, play chess or watch soccer games. Whether men can shave their beards, women can drive cars, little girls can go to school and little boys can grow up learning anything except Koranic verses.

Non-Muslims however remain unequal no matter which brand of Islamic theocracy is in charge. And either way they remain fair game in their own countries.

Every leading form of Islam agrees that an Islamic society is perfect, that its laws perfect man and that imposing those laws on society is a religious duty. They may differ on whether those laws allow Muslims to vote or fly kites; but that is small consolation to the non-Muslims who lose their civil rights either way.

Islamic societies are built around an Islamic law that makes non-Muslims second class citizens. Whether Islamic law is the basis of all legislation, as tends to be written in the constitutions of most “moderate” Muslim countries, or whether it actually is the legislation, makes a great deal of difference to Muslims who fear losing the ability to sing or play chess at the snap of a fatwa; but has less impact on non-Muslims who are still doomed to an unequal status.

What Western secular liberals insist on describing as extremism is really a reform movement seeking to purge innovations from the modern Islamic admixture absorbed from the cultures and peoples whom they conquered.

Reform means major changes for the descendants of the Islamic conquerors who have learned to like the living standards of Islamic empires and don’t care for going back to the ways of their many times great-grandfathers. It doesn’t change things nearly as much for the non-Muslim minorities who were conquered by those Islamic empires. Life for them would become worse if the Salafists were to take over. But the difference lies in degrees of subjugation.

There is no Islamic option for equal rights.

The dilution of Islam through secularism made life more livable for the Muslim conquerors who wanted to enjoy life in their new dominions in Egypt, the Persian Empire, Byzantium or India. They were less concerned with the comfort of the conquered; the Christians, Jews, Hindus, Zoroastrians and others groaning under their rule.

None of the gradations of Islam are friendly to the idea of non-Muslims ruling themselves. They may differ over tactics, but even the non-violent immigration and missionary tactics of supposed moderate Islamic majoritarians would still end in a theocracy in which Western Christians and Jews would become slaves in their own countries.

This may perhaps be more merciful than a prolonged campaign of slaughter, but it is still oppression by any other name. (Not to mention conquest and invasion). And there is no such thing as moderate oppression.

The Arab Spring posed the question to middle class Muslims whether a non-violent political conquest by the Muslim Brotherhood was better than an armed conquest by its Islamic Group splinter movement. The answer that came in the Tahrir Square protests was a resounding, “No!”

A political conquest may be less messy for the conquerors and the conquered, but it still takes away the rights and freedoms of the conquered. If even the urban Muslims of Egypt didn’t want Islamization on that scale, even on peaceful terms, why would any non-Muslim accept an Islamization that would remove far more of his civil rights?

A moderate theocracy is still a theocracy. Moderate inequality is still inequality.

Western liberals associate moderation with secularism. Islam is indeed as moderate as it is secular. Like proofs of alcohol, Islam becomes more toxic and flammable the higher the percentage of “Islamic law” it contains. The purer the Islam, the more violent, oppressive, reactionary and brutal it becomes.

But the point that so many liberals miss is that even its diluted forms are still violent, oppressive and reactionary.

Distinguishing moderate and extreme Muslims is as useful as making distinctions between moderate and extreme Communists. These distinctions did and do exist, but they are less relevant in the context of an overall ideology whose goals are war, dominance and subjugation.

A moderate Communist was still a pretty terrible person. Likewise, a moderate president of Iran is still a political force in a theocracy that discriminates against non-Muslims, engages in regional religious wars and denies many civil rights to half the population.

Western liberals obscure this basic fact in their obsession with finding moderates to talk to. Moderate Muslims are still extreme by the standards of the West. They still support violence; the only difference is that they are more willing to try non-violent methods of conquest first.

In the long run, how much difference is there between the moderate slave owner who tricks his slaves into putting on their own chains and the extremist slave owner who makes them do it at gunpoint?

The end result is still the same. And that is the problem.

Post 9/11 concerns about extremism were focused on tactics with those who threatened the most immediate violence branded as extremists while everyone else was accepted as allies. Islamic terrorism triage turned Saudi Arabia into an ally because its double game of working with us and the terrorists meant that it was somehow more moderate than the actual terrorists. The Muslim Brotherhood is likewise considered an ally because it is less overtly violent, at the moment and in our general vicinity, than its Al Qaeda branch.

Focusing only on the most immediate threats is a sensible tactic for law enforcement in an emergency, but is a disastrous strategy for political leaders who cannot afford to become so caught up in trying to stop the next attack that they can only see single terrorists instead of mass movements that utilize a variety of strategies and tactics for the same end.

Islamic terrorism is not reducible to Islamic extremism. It is reducible to Islamic law. Islamic terrorism is just one means of imposing it on us. Immigration is another. Political pressure is a third.

During the Cold War, we understood that Communism was a multifaceted threat. The Red Army and domestic Communist organizations were just two means of accomplishing the same ends. Likewise the Megamosque and the plane hijackers are two means of reaching the same goals.

It will not matter much if the civilization we know is lost and if the freedoms we are familiar with are taken away by the moderates who play the long political game or the extremists who play the short and violent game. It will make a difference to the great-grandchildren of our conquerors who will be able to play chess or fly kites; but our great-grandchildren will still be as fundamentally unequal as the Copts of Egypt or the Jews of Yemen.

An Islam that allows chess playing, but mandates the inequality of non-Muslims should be viewed as just as extreme as any other kind.

Daniel Greenfield


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France and the Iranian Nuclear Program

by Dr. Tsilla Hershco

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 222
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: France’s bold move to hold up a nuclear deal between the P5+1 and Iran reflects its broader Iran policy. France is genuinely concerned about a nuclear Iran. Its interest in maintaining its arms trade relationship with Saudi Arabia and concerns for instability in Lebanon have Paris at loggerheads with Tehran.

France’s tough stance in Geneva during negotiations between the P5+1 group and Iran over Tehran’s nuclear project drew great international attention. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius firmly opposed any “fool’s deal” unless Iran accepts a full suspension of activity at the heavy water reactor in Arak and the downgrading of its stockpile of enriched uranium from 20  percent to 5 percent. He also demanded that the West not be required to recognize Iran’s right to enrich uranium. There are various reasons for France’s behavior.

First, Paris’ stance reflects its genuine concern about an Iranian attack on its territory. France has begun making concrete preparations for such a scenario and considers its own nuclear capabilities as its main deterrence against an attack. This concern was expressed in the French national security doctrine White Papers of 2008 and 2013. Furthermore, as part of its national security doctrine of detection and early warning capabilities, France has initiated an anti-ballistic missile project to be ready by 2020. The project includes an anti-ballistic radar and accompanying missiles with a range of up to 3,000 kilometers, which could intercept an Iranian ballistic attack.

Second, France regards itself as an important actor on the international scene in combating the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). Consequently, France has initiated several rounds of EU and UN sanctions aimed at stopping theIranian nuclear project.

Third, France defines the promotion of its political and economic status in the Middle East as a top objective of its national security policy. In media interviews, Fabius mentions French attentiveness to the concerns of Israel and other countries in the region regarding the Iranian threat. France maintains a constant strategic dialogue with Israel and appreciates the Israeli professional assessments on Iran. Furthermore, France is in a deep economic crisis and values its political, economic, and security cooperation with its major defense client Saudi Arabia, which also is very concerned about Iran’s nuclear project. France probably relishes the fact that its firm policy makes it appear a more reliable ally in a time when US prestige in the region is in decline.

Another regional French consideration apparently relates to the Iranian involvement in the Syrian crisis together with its Hizballah proxy. France provides economic, diplomatic, and humanitarian support to the Syrian opposition and has demanded Bashar al-Assad’s ouster. France is immensely concerned about the spillover of the Syrian civil war to Lebanon as result of Hizballah and Iran’s involvement. France regards Iran as a threat to Lebanese stability, to which it is historically attached. Moreover, France considers Iran’s involvement in the Syrian civil war as a threat to the entire Middle East. Paris is concerned that a nuclear Tehran will increase its influence in the Middle East. In addition, France is worried that a nuclear Iran might trigger the proliferation of WMDs in the turbulent Middle East. Additionally, a nuclear Iran might transfer WMDs to terrorist groups such as Hizballah.

France has recently proven that it is capable of adopting an assertive approach on issues of top security importance. That was the case during its military intervention in Mali and its willingness to join an American military operation against the Syrian regime. However, there is no guarantee that France will persist in its tough approach during the next round of talks with Iran. Fabius himself stated that France is firm in its position but not locked into it (“France est ferme, mais non fermée”). However, France and the P5+1 have bought some more time to reconsider the toughening of the terms and means to ensure that Iran fulfills its commitments regarding an eventual deal, one with crucial and far reaching ramifications. French President François Hollande’s upcoming visit to Israel will provide an opportunity for greater French-Israeli cooperation on strategic matters.

BESA Center Perspectives Papers are published through the generosity of the Greg Rosshandler Family

Click here for a PDF version of this article

(Photo Credit: Flickr/US State Department)

Dr. Tsilla Hershco, a research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, specializes in Franco-Israeli and EU-Israeli relations.


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If this is peace, what is war?

by Dr. Haim Shine

The stabbing murder of an Israeli soldier by a Palestinian terrorist on a bus in Afula on Wednesday was not the result of an "atmosphere." To the best of my knowledge, an atmosphere has never killed anyone. Inhumane, savage murderers kill people. Placing the blame for the attack on an atmosphere shows disrespect for human life and a lack of understanding of the role that murder plays in the Palestinian ethos.

This ethos is based on spilling the blood of innocent people as a means of achieving nationalistic and territorial goals. The Palestinians are no different than their brethren in Syria, Egypt, Yemen and Sudan, countries that massacre their own people without mercy.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry openly said that if Israel does not reach a peace deal with the Palestinians, a third intifada will break out. Kerry did not come up with this threat in the heat of the moment. It was based on long talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his friends, as well as assessments given to Kerry by U.S. intelligence officials who listen to all conversations between top Palestinian officials.

A Palestinian teen who knows what his leaders want does not need an operational order from Abbas. The message is clear and sharp as a knife: The only way to get Israelis to make concessions in Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem is by increasing acts of violence. With his criminal act, the murderer in Afula wanted to help his leaders in the peace negotiations. If this is peace, what is war?

I heard Science and Technology Minister Yaakov Peri say that even if a peace agreement was reached with the Palestinians, individual acts of terrorism would likely continue. If this is the future for us, why should we make an agreement in which we give up national and strategic assets? The Gush Katif example teaches us that there are such things as fatal concessions.

The Israel Defense Forces' ability to, following a terror attack, enter the village or city from which the terrorist came will not exist if a Palestinian state is established in Judea and Samaria. Israel already has difficulties gathering intelligence in areas that were handed over to the Palestinian Authority. Jews cannot allow themselves to rely on others to do the hard work of protecting their lives and independence. 

Throughout history, Jews have not received second chances. The Israeli government must determinedly insist on safeguarding the country's national security interests and on fighting a bitter war against terrorists, particularly against inciters who promote bloodshed.

Dr. Haim Shine


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