Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Politics of the Palestinian Right of Return

by Alexander Joffe and Asaf Romirowsky

US-backed negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority are entering a critical period. With reports suggesting Israeli acceptance of the 1967 lines and land swaps, what about Palestinian concessions? Two issues are paramount: the 'right of return' and recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas recently stated, "Let me put it simply: the right of return is a personal decision. What does this mean? That neither the PA, nor the state, nor the PLO, nor Abu-Mazen [Abbas], nor any Palestinian or Arab leader has the right to deprive someone from his right to return."

This arch in the Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem features a giant key, symbolizing keys kept as mementos by many of the Palestinians who left their homes in 1948. (Image source: Reham Alhelsi/Flickr)

Jamil Mizer, a member of the political bureau of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) underscored the issue saying, "there is talk about the liquidation of the Palestinian refugee cause, the return of hundreds of thousands to the lands occupied in 1948, and the dismantling of the right of return of over six million Palestinian refugees in the camps, in exile and in the diaspora, who are waiting for their moment to return to the homes and lands from which they were expelled".

Palestinians, as well as other Arabs and supporters, rarely tire of pointing out that more 60 years after the creation of Israel, Palestinians remain 'refugees.' It is, or should be a commonplace to point out that this is by choice, since no Arab state besides Jordan grants Palestinians citizenship. In comparative terms, the fact is also that there are no remaining 'refugees' from the contemporary, vastly larger and more convulsive creation of India and Pakistan, nor of course from World War II.

Palestinian identity is synonymous with three things, the 'right of return,' the permanent, sanctified struggle with Israel, and permanent recognition of their status as refugees, dispossessed at the hand of Israel with the connivance of the international community. A corollary demand is that the international community must sustain them as 'refugees' through UNRWA until the Palestinians themselves, somehow, declare the 'refugee crisis' resolved.

Palestinian national identity is predicated on winning a zero sum struggle with Zionism, not a vision of a state of their own. There are sentimental images of restoring the status quo ante, an imaginary Arab Palestine of plenty; indeed, the 'right of return' is founded on the one hand precisely in such vague sentimentality, as well as inventive interpretations of ever-motile 'international law.' But clear proposals for a Palestinian state and its institutions, and how that state will be grounded in a society and with social, legal, and cultural principles, remains vague. Except, of course, from Hamas, whose Muslim Brotherhood-derived goals have been both articulated and, now, tested, in Gaza. In the meantime, however, the embrace of statelessness and trauma is unending.

Unwillingness to listen to what Palestinians say in Arabic (and often English), about their political demands or national identity, much less their attitudes towards Israelis, has long been one of the most puzzling features of American and European engagement with the Middle East. Abbas's defense of the 'right of return' is absolute, as is that of nearly every Palestinian politician and intellectual.

The 'right of return' is sometimes explained away as being symbolic rather than practical, an element of the Palestinian 'narrative' regarding the blameless circumstances of their diaspora. Israelis are demanded to accept both the narrative, in which they are the villains, and the possibility of the mass return of Palestinians that would, by design, end Israel as a Jewish state.

In contrast, the demand that Israel be recognized as a Jewish state would have no practical costs for Palestinians. But it would be acknowledgment of the character and permanence of Israel, and thus is rejected outright. This cannot be admitted, indeed, the entire thrust of Palestinian public culture, from education to summer camps to TV programming, relentlessly pushes the idea that Israel is temporary and illegitimate. Statements, such as the Palestinian Authority's Religious Affairs minister Mahmoud al-Habash's recent demand that "every inch" of the pre-1967 territory must be turned over by Israel, including the "Buraq Wall" – better known as the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest place – make deep impressions on Israelis. But they pass unnoticed by Kerry and his associates.

That these empirical facts appear not to have been factored into American peacemaking is astonishing. But the implications should be understood clearly; like Palestinian nationalism, their negotiation stance is contingent not on compromise but on struggle until victory. And the thrust of the Palestinian leadership is to be as uncompromising as possible, to keep public expectations uncompromising, and to trap future leaders and members of Palestinian society by making compromise with Israel treason.

With Arab nationalism, and nations, dissolving everywhere, it is both ironic and mysterious that the US is expending so much capital attempting to bring yet another such state into being. It failed to do so in Iraq, it abetted the dissolution of Libya and the convulsions in Egypt, and stands aside while Syria burns. And with Palestinian leaders all but stating outright that they have no plan but to struggle against Israel, the American task is Sisyphean.

Eminently sensible proposals regarding borders, Jewish communities in the West Bank and even Jerusalem are rendered irrelevant. No peace is possible until Palestinian society makes the compromise it has been unwilling to do for nearly a century, share the land. Until they do so, by their leaders giving up, however reluctantly, the 'right of return,' by declaring their struggle against Israel at an end, and by declaring that an independent Palestine means no Palestinian is a refugee, there will be no peace.

Messrs. Joffe and Romirowsky are fellows at the Middle East Forum and the authors of Religion, Politics, and the Origins of Palestine Refugee Relief, Palgrave Macmillan (December 2013).


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America’s Provocative Weakness

by Frank Gaffney, Jr.


Among former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s many illuminating “rules” is his trenchant observation that “weakness is provocative.”  Indeed, the accelerating instability we see worldwide is, in no small measure, a product of the weakness being communicated at every turn by Barack Obama’s administration.  Worse yet, the steps the President is taking to weaken America further will make it vastly more difficult to contend with the aggression he has invited.

In a characteristically brilliant op.ed. article in last Saturday’s Wall Street Journal, Harvard professor Niall Ferguson warned that the United States was engaged in the defense and foreign policy equivalent of the Fed’s bid to begin weaning the economy off of its massive purchases of U.S. T-bills that is known as the “taper” and has roiled world markets and currencies. As Prof. Ferguson puts it: “We are witnessing [a fundamental shift] in the national security strategy of the U.S. – and, like the Fed’s tapering, this one also means big repercussions for the world.”

Consider but a few of examples of such repercussions:
  • China has declared much of the East and South China Seas to be its territorial waters.  The PRC’s growing military seems determined to press its claims to the Senkaku Islands to – and perhaps past – the brink of war with Japan. And the People’s Liberation Army is putting into place the means by which it can effectively checkmate what is left of the United States’ ability to project power in support of American treaty obligations to the Japanese and perhaps others in the region.
  • The Iranian mullahs now know that the U.S. and the rest of the so-called “international community” will not be prevent the realization of their decades-old nuclear ambitions. Consequently, the Iranians are brazenly: doubling down on their bet on Bashir Assad in Syria; angling for hegemony in the Persian Gulf; penetrating our hemisphere with intelligence operations, money-laundering schemes and the insertion of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and proxy forces – including the designated terrorist group, Hezbollah; and, most recently, sending warships and other vessels into the Atlantic and Caribbean.
  • Of particular concern is the emboldening of Iran arising from President Obama’s surrendering of Iraq to its tender mercies – and those of its sometime partner, sometime enemy, al Qaeda.  We will shortly find fresh evidence of how provocative is our weakness when Mr. Obama does the same with respect to the Taliban in Afghanistan – especially if, in the interim, he replenishes their leadership by releasing five of the organization’s top, battle-hardened jihadist commanders from Guantanamo Bay.
  •  Speaking of ships in our waters, a North Korean tramp steamer, the Chong Chon Gang, was intercepted in Panama last summer and discovered to have concealed in its hold surface-to-air missiles and other weaponry from Cuba.  The movement of the nuclear-capable SA-2 SAMs through Caribbean waters demonstrates Pyongyang’s inherent capability to use such ship-borne weapons as launch vehicles for a potentially devastating electromagnetic pulse (EMP)  attack on our electric grid.
President Obama’s response to this and other North Korean provocations – including highly publicized propaganda about nuclear strikes on the United States? Crickets.

Even what might be promising developments in Ukraine and Venezuela in the form of popular revolts against violent repression by their respective, anti-Western regimes may be squandered due to America’s perceived impotence and trajectory of disengagement.  This pattern will almost certainly encourage aggression by Russia in the former and by Cuba, China, Iran and narco-traffickers in the latter.

These are hardly the sorts of circumstances in which the United States should be signaling still further weakness by accelerating Team Obama’s  dismantling of our military.  Yet, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced Monday that the Army would be reduced to its smallest size since before World War II.  The Air Force would eliminate its ground-support A-10 “Warthog” jets and the Navy would tie up prematurely 11 cruisers.  And a host of cuts will reduce pay and benefits to active duty personnel and retirees.

The cumulative effect of these and previous cuts will be to risk breaking the All-Volunteer Force and the only military we have.  The absolutely predictable effect will be to make the world a more dangerous place for all of us.

This is a perfect opportunity for conservatives and the Republican Party to provide once again a Loyal Opposition to such hollowing out of our military and the Obama Doctrine it enables: Emboldening our enemies, undermining our allies and diminishing our country.

To provide this needed alternative to President Obama’s provocative weakness, however, the Right is going to have to return to its Reaganesque roots:  It must once again embrace and promote the philosophy the Gipper practiced as “peace through strength.”  The American people and our country are entitled to at least one party that stands for and will provide a responsible national security policy.

The place to start is by rebuilding our armed forces and their capacities, rather than going along with the further evisceration of the strength that dissuades, instead of inviting, aggression — and by holding accountable, at last, those responsible for the weakness that has, to date, done too much of the opposite.

Frank Gaffney, Jr.


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The Truth Behind the Palestinian Water Libels

by Prof. Haim Gvirtzman

Jordan River
 (Photo Credit: Wikimedia)

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 238

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Water shortages in the Palestinian Authority are the result of Palestinian policies that deliberately waste water and destroy the regional water ecology. The Palestinians refuse to develop their own significant underground water resources, build a seawater desalination plant, fix massive leakage from their municipal water pipes, build sewage treatment plants, irrigate land with treated sewage effluents or modern water-saving devices, or bill their own citizens for consumer water usage, leading to enormous waste. At the same time, they drill illegally into Israel’s water resources, and send their sewage flowing into the valleys and streams of central Israel. In short, the Palestinian Authority is using water as a weapon against the State of Israel. It is not interested in practical solutions to solve the Palestinian people’s water shortages, but rather perpetuation of the shortages and the besmirching of Israel.

A significant public debate has been sparked by the assertion of European Parliament President Martin Schulz that the amount of water available to the average Israeli unfairly overwhelms the amount of water available to the average Palestinian. The main issue that should be discussed – and has not been sufficiently analyzed – is: What are the causes of Palestinian water supply problems?

The discussion must be informed by the following basic facts:

1. The Oslo agreements grant the Palestinians the right to draw 70 million cubic meters from the Eastern Mountain Aquifer (ground water reservoir). Yet this water resource is not currently being capitalized on by the Palestinians; the waters spill untapped underground into the Dead Sea. As per the Israeli-Palestinian agreement, some 40 sites were identified for drilling into this aquifer in the eastern Hebron hills region, and permits were granted to the Palestinians by the Israel-PA Joint Water Committee. Nevertheless, over the past 20 years, the Palestinians have drilled at just one-third of these sites, despite the fact that the international community has offered to finance the drilling of all sites. If the Palestinians were to drill and develop all these wells, they could have completely solved the existing water shortage in the Hebron hills region. But the Palestinians have preferred to drill wells on the Western Mountain Aquifer, the basin that provides groundwater to the State of Israel. Instead of solving the problem they have chosen to squabble with Israel.

2. The Palestinians do not bother fixing water leaks in city pipes. Up to 33 percent of water in Palestinian cities is wasted through leakage. Upkeep on the Palestinians’ urban water infrastructure has been completely neglected. By comparison, leakage from Israeli municipal water pipes amount to only 10 percent of water usage.

3. The Palestinians refuse to build water treatment plants, despite their obligation to do so under the Oslo agreement. Sewage flows out of Palestinian towns and villages directly into local streams, thereby polluting the environments and the aquifer and causing the spread of disease. Despite the fact that donor countries are willing to fully fund the building of treatment plants, the Palestinians have managed to avoid their obligations to build such facilities. (Only over the past two years has Israeli pressure moved the PA forward a bit on this matter.)

4. The Palestinians absolutely refuse to irrigate their agricultural fields with treated sewage effluents. By comparison, more than half the agricultural fields in Israel are irrigated with treated waste water. Irrigating Palestinian agricultural fields with recycled water instead of fresh water would free up large amounts of water for home usage. This would greatly reduce the water shortage in many places.

5. Some Palestinian farmers irrigate their fields by flooding, rather than with drip irrigation technology. Drip irrigation, as practiced in Israel, brings water directly to the root of each plant, thereby reducing water consumption by more than 50 percent. Flooding fields causes huge water evaporation and leads to great waste.

6. The international community has offered to build a desalination plant for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians have refused this gift. A desalination plant could completely solve the Gaza Strip’s water shortages. The Palestinians refuse to build this plant because they claim they have the right to access the fresh groundwater reservoir in Judea and Samaria, and they are prepared to suffer until they realize this dream. In the meanwhile, Gaza residents suffer from severe shortages of water.

These basic, undeniable facts are extremely important because they have wide-ranging consequences.

Today, the Palestinians consume some 200 million cubic meters of water per annum in Judea and Samaria. The Palestinians could easily raise that amount by at least 50 percent, without any additional assistance or allocation from the State of Israel. This would require several simple actions:

If the Palestinians were to begin drilling the Eastern Mountain Aquifer, at the sites already approved for drilling, they very quickly would secure an additional 50 million cubic meters of water per year.

If the Palestinians were to reduce urban water waste from 33 percent to 20 percent by fixing the main leaks in their urban water pipes (something that can be done without great effort), they would immediately benefit from 10 million additional cubic meters of water per annum.

If the Palestinians were to collect and treat their urban waste water, they would gain at least 30 million cubic meters of water a year. This would free up 30 million cubic meters (per annum) of fresh water, currently used for agriculture, for home usage. This would allow them both to improve their urban water supply and to expand agricultural lands.

If the Palestinians were to adopt drip irrigation technology, they would save 10 million cubic meters a year. This would allow them to expand their irrigated lands.

In the Gaza Strip, too, the Palestinians could easily double the amount of water available, without additional assistance from the State of Israel. If the Palestinians agreed to build a desalination plant on the Gaza coast (funded entirely by the international community), they would increase the amount of water available by 60 to 100 million cubic meters a year. If they fix leakages, treat and recycle sewage, and adopt drip irrigation, they would double their water allocation, as well.

Unfortunately, the Palestinian Authority’s deleterious policies – as evidenced in the six facts listed above – are a function of the Palestinian water war against Israel. There is no real Palestinian desire to solve water problems; they prefer to perpetuate the water problems in order to besmirch the State of Israel. They view water as a tool with which to bash Israel.

The warlike strategy adopted by the Palestinian Authority regarding water explains several additional realities.

Illegal drilling of wells: As of 2010, the Palestinians had drilled about 250 unauthorized wells into the Western and Northern Aquifers, in violation of the Oslo agreements. Since 2010 the number of unauthorized wells being dug has continued to rise at an alarming pace. This has caused a reduction in the natural discharge of water in the Beit Shean and Harod valleys, forcing Israeli farmers to reduce their agricultural plantings. Ultimately, the State of Israel has been forced to reduce its pumping at the Mountain aquifer from 500 million cubic meters per annum in 1967 to about 400 million cubic meters per annum today.

The Palestinians also steal water by pirate tapping into pipes belonging to Mekorot, Israel’s national water company. As a result, Mekorot’s ability to supply water to Israelis and Palestinians alike has been compromised. The stolen water is used mainly for agriculture, not for home usage.

Sustainable development: The PA purposefully flaunts the principle of “sustainable development” – a core standard of effective and modern economic management – in every way. Authorities that do not fix water leaks, do not collect and treat sewage, refuse to conserve water used for agriculture, and do not collect payment for water usage are in flagrant violation of this principle.

Which brings us to another dirty little secret about the Palestinians: most West Bank and Gaza residents and businesses do not pay the PA for the water they use, in either their homes or fields. There are simply no water meters on pumping wells and no water meters at the entry to most homes, so it is impossible for the PA to measure the amount of money owed by individual consumers. This, of course, leads to widespread water waste. People who don’t pay for their water usage have no motivation to conserve.

Reliance on Israel: The Palestinians purchase about 50 million cubic meters of water from Israel’s Mekorot water company each year, but the Palestinian Authority does not pay for this water directly. Rather, the State of Israel pays Mekorot, and then deducts the costs of the water from the customs and tax monies that Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority at Israeli ports. However, it must be noted that the Palestinian Authority pays Mekorot for just 80 percent of the actual cost of the water it consumes. Negotiations to raise water prices have dragged on for more than 10 years, and Israel has given up many times.

Because the water market is administered in an opaque fashion, the Israeli consumer effectively subsidizes the Palestinian consumer. The average Israeli pays approximately 10 shekels per cubic meter of water. About 0.2 shekels of that fee goes to subsidize the water provided to the Palestinians below cost.

The sum total of the situation described above is that the Palestinian Authority is using water as a weapon against the State of Israel. It is more interested in reducing the amount of water available to Israel, polluting natural reservoirs, harming Israeli farmers, and sullying Israel’s reputation around the world than truly solving water problems for the Palestinian people. The Palestinians are not interested in practical solutions to address shortages; rather, they seek to perpetuate the shortages, and to blame the State of Israel.

Unfortunately, President Schulz’s Knesset address, with its seemingly-straightforward but baseless accusations against Israel, suggests that the PA is succeeding in this effort to befuddle international observers and besmirch Israel.

Beyond the conclusion reached above, it is worthwhile to consider a broader perspective on the water situation in the Middle East. The Palestinians live in the shadow of the State of Israel, a world superpower in terms of water technologies. Consequently, the Palestinians enjoy a relative Garden of Eden. Only in Israel, in the West Bank, and in Gulf States does sufficient, safe, drinkable tap water exist in 96 percent of households. Residents in almost every other country in the region suffer from terrible water shortages.

In Amman, the Jordanian capital, water is supplied to private homes just once every two weeks. In Syria, agricultural fields in the Euphrates Valley are drying up due to the upstream diversion of water by the Turks. In recent years (before the “Arab Spring” began), about three million farmers migrated from the Euphrates Valley to the outskirts of Damascus because their lands had dried up. In Damascus, too, the water running in the river beds, which used for drinking, is mixed with sewage. In Iraq, agricultural fields are drying up because waters upstream on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers are being diverted by the Turks. There too, millions of farmers lost their lands. In Egypt, enormous amounts of water are lost due to flood irrigation. The Nile provides 30 times more water than Israel’s annual usage and Egypt’s population is just 10 times greater than Israel. Therefore, we would expect to see a water surplus. Nevertheless, Egypt suffers from severe hunger and thirst due to severe wastage of water. In North Africa too, there are insufferable water shortages.

By contrast, the State of Israel creates artificial water (desalinated seawater and recycled sewage) and behaves frugally and effectively, and as a result there is no shortage of water, despite having experienced many years of drought. Furthermore, the State of Israel is a net exporter of water! Israel supplies 55 million cubic meters of water each year to Jordan, and sells 50 million cubic meters to the Palestinians.

In the future, if and when peace is achieved, and cooperation is truly desired by the Palestinians – which they do not currently seek – the State of Israel will be ready and able to assist its neighbors in overcoming their water shortages.

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

Prof. Haim Gvirtzman is a professor of hydrology at the Institute of Earth Sciences at the Hebrew University and a member of the Israel Water Authority Council. He is also a long-time advisor of the Israel-PA Joint Water Committee. He authored the BESA Center’s groundbreaking 2012 study on Israel-Palestinian water issues.


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The Artificiality of the Historical Palestinian Identity

by Eli E. Hertz

The artificiality of a Palestinian identity is reflected in the attitudes and actions of neighboring Arab states that never established a Palestinian state or advocated one prior to the Six-Day War in 1967. What unites Palestinian Arabs has been their opposition to Jewish nationalism and the desire to stamp it out, not aspirations for their own state. Local patriotic feelings are generated only when a non-Islamic entity takes charge – such as Israel did in 1967 after the Six-Day War, and dissipates under Arab rule, as it was under the rule of Jordan prior to 1967.
Culturally, Palestinians are not distinct from other Arabs. The sole contributions Palestinians can take credit for are the invention of skyjacking for political purposes in the 1960s, and a special brand of suicidal terrorism that uses their own youth as delivery systems for bombing pizza parlors, discos, and public commuter buses.
Ironically, before local Jews began calling themselves Israelis in 1948 (the name Israel was chosen for the newly established Jewish state), the term ‘Palestine’ applied almost exclusively to Jews and the institutions founded by new Jewish immigrants in the first half of the 20th century, before independence. Some examples include:
• The Jerusalem Post, founded in 1932, was called “The Palestine Post” until 1948.
• Bank Leumi L’Israel was called the “Anglo-Palestine Bank,” a Jewish Company.
• The Jewish Agency – an arm of the Zionist movement engaged in Jewish settlement since 1929 – was called the “Jewish Agency for Palestine.”
• Today’s Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, founded in 1936 by German Jewish refugees who fled Nazi Germany, was called the “Palestine Symphony Orchestra,” composed of some 70 Palestinian Jews.
• The United Jewish Appeal (UJA) was established in 1939 as a merger of the “United Palestine Appeal” and the fundraising arm of the Joint Distribution Committee.
Princeton University professor of Semitic literature Philip Hitti (1886-1978), one of the greatest Arabic historians of the ninth century and author of ‘The History of the Arabs,’ testifying on behalf of the Arab cause, told the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry on Palestine in 1946: “There is no ‘Palestine’ in history, absolutely not.”

Eli E. Hertz


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Blaming the Victim for his Beheading

by Ethel C. Fenig

Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and beheaded in Pakistan in May 2002 by infamous Pakistani al Qaeda member, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, for the crime of being a Jew.
Several years later his parents set up a foundation in his memory.

Sunday night, shortly after speaking at the Daniel Pearl Memorial Foundation set up by his parents, US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power vomited the following bizarre tweet.

Samantha Power ‏@AmbassadorPower 17h
Daniel Pearl's story is reminder that individual accountability & reconciliation are required to break cycles of violence. @DanielPearlFNDN

Aha!  So it is Pearl's fault that he was beheaded because he had no accountability; he was responsible for his own death because he didn't reconcile with the murderous al Qaeda.  Furthermore al Qaeda is innocent and Pearl's parents must reconcile with his slaughterers if they want to "break cycles of violence!"  Hmmm! 

After an onslaught of negative criticism, ten hours later the extraordinarily erudite Ambassador Power modified her tweet, spitting forth
Samantha Power ‏@AmbassadorPower 7h
Correction: @DanielPearlFNDN's work is a reminder that individual accountability + reconciliation are required to break cycles of violence.

Hmmmmmm some more!  Aha! So it is the Daniel Pearl Foundation's work to remind us that Pearl, the victim, lacked accountability; that Pearl deserved his fate and his parents' Foundation must reconcile with his slaughterers to "break cycles of violence," perhaps by honoring al Qaeda.  Nothing is required of al Qaeda. 

More anger at Power's ignorance and her excusing the oppressors while blaming the victims. 

So she tried again and with great difficulty managed weakly to admit
Samantha Power ‏@AmbassadorPower 7h
As I said last night, the men who murdered Daniel Pearl did so because "he was an American, and most of all, because he was a Jew."

Well, maybe she mumbled something to that effect in her speech but her real feelings came spilling out in her tweets.

So perhaps Power thinks Pearl should have apologized to al Qaeda for being and remaining a proud Jew.  Yes, that is it!  

Jews remaining Jewish and--to a slightly lesser extent--Christians remaining Christian--and all of them not becoming Muslim will continue.  Well then, that just will not break the "cycles of violence" because it just angers Muslims, making reconciliation impossible.  What to do?  What to do?  Submitting to more extorted concessions from Muslims to "break cycles of violence" would be a start.  Hmmm, don't think so. 
Of course Muslims are not required to make any concessions on their violence and hatred which somehow is not accountable in the "cycle of violence." 

As Robert Spencer points out on Jihad Watch:
Power reveals by this tweet the entire wrongheaded mindset of the U.S. foreign policy establishment: that the way to deal with jihad is to seek "reconciliation" by making various concessions, and launching hearts and minds initiatives that shower money on the offenders in hopes that they will be bought off as "friends." Power is also, unsurprisingly, a vociferous foe of Israel.
Spencer nails it--"in hopes that they will be bought off as 'friends.'"
Score another major fail in international diplomacy from an administration that works with a phone and a pen.  

Ethel C. Fenig


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Texas Terror Enclave Exposed

by  Ryan Mauro


The Clarion Project just disclosed the existence of a terrorist enclave in Texas last week, bringing new attention to a network of at least 22 Jamaat ul-Fuqra “Islamic villages” across the country. Newly-declassified documents reveal that the FBI privately considers ul-Fuqra to be a terrorist group, but remains operational in the U.S. because of the State Department.

The “Islamic villages” belong to Muslims of the Americas, an extension of Pakistani cleric Sheikh Mubarak Ali Gilani’s Jamaat ul-Fuqra terrorist group. Its headquarters is “Islamberg” in Hancock, N.Y and two of the group’s seized videotapes prove that these sites are used for guerilla warfare training. One recording shows women at Islamberg in military fatigue receiving such instructions.

The FBI files released by Clarion confirm that the most loyal MOA members go to Pakistan for advanced religious and terrorist training under Sheikh Gilani. This travel is apparently done through an MOA entity named the American Muslim Medical Relief Team. The website has photos of members in Kashmir. The MOA has also posted videos of members working at “Gillaniville” under Gilani’s watch.

Last week, The Blaze aired a blockbuster half-hour episode of “For the Record” titled “Sleeper Cell” about Jamaat ul-Fuqra featuring the documents obtained by Clarion. The discovery of the camp near the town of Sweeny in Brazoria County, Texas was covered on “Fox and Friends” and the Fox News website. Media Matters immediately responded with a hit piece describing me as “anti-Muslim” that was then distributed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). 

The Texas enclave has existed since the late 1980s, according to locals interviewed by ACT For America Houston. The FBI documents show that the Bureau discovered it following a tip from an informant in New York and detected the movement of trailers to the site in December 2001.

The site is referred to as “Mahmoudberg” by MOA members. In 2010, an MOA entity named the American Muslim Ladies Club established a Texas chapter at the enclave.

A 2007 FBI document says that the enclave hosts a former leader of the 440-acre “Baladullah” commune in California that was shut down and had armed guards, U-Haul dealership and even an airstrip. Its founder was convicted in 2006 of overseeing a charter school scam at the commune. Other members of Baladullah were arrested for illegal weapons trafficking and murdering a police officer.

One of the most interesting revelations from the Clarion Project report is that a shooting incident at Mahmoudberg took the life of one resident. It was ruled an accident by the police. However, the police were denied access to the trailers and were not allowed to directly interview the women, who covered their faces in the presence of the cops.

The report is a fatal blow to the MOA’s campaign to revamp its image. For example, it established the United Muslim Christian Forum. I attended one of their events and was told by one of the commune leaders that the group was trying “not to get into the bashing business anymore” because “we’re finding that certain things are a little bit too offensive.” He said the group stands by its past statements.

The Texas enclave is also linked to the MOA’s interfaith front. I was given videotape of a United Muslim Christian Forum event in 2009 that featured then-Binghamton Mayor Matthew T. Ryan as a speaker. The Master of Ceremonies was Idris Johnson, the registered agent for a MOA front on Mahmoudberg’s premises called the Muslim Model Community.

Johnson was also arrested for interfering with public duties on February 28, 2013. So was Nuh Abdullah and Muhammed Nurriddine was charged with reckless driving.

Almost every communication I received in response to the Clarion report and coverage on The Blaze and FOX News Channel asked how Jamaat ul-Fuqra/Muslims of the Americas is able to operate in the U.S. if the FBI’s own documents identify it as a terrorist threat.

The answer is the State Department has not designated Jamaat ul-Fuqra as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, though it was included in reports about domestic groups in the 1990s. On January 31, 2002, the State Department said:

“Jamaat ul-Fuqra has never been designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. It was included in several recent annual terrorism reports under “other terrorist groups,” i.e., groups that had carried out acts of terrorism but that were not formally designated by the Secretary of State. However, because of the group’s inactivity during 2000, it was not included in the most recent terrorism report covering that calendar year.”

The State Department’s own standards require it to label ul-Fuqra as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. The three criteria are that the group must be foreign; engaging in terrorist activity or retain the capability and intent to engage in terrorism and it must threaten U.S. nationals or national security.

The newly-released FBI documents blow away any argument the State Department could use to defend its negligence. Two smoking gun quotes from a 2007 file are as clear as can be:

“The MOA is now an autonomous organization which possesses an infrastructure capable of planning and mounting terrorist campaigns overseas and within the U.S.”

“The documented propensity for violence by this organization supports the belief the leadership of the MOA extols membership to pursue a policy of jihad or holy war against individuals or groups it considers enemies of Islam, which includes the U.S. Government.”

Responsible reporters must relentlessly demand answers from the State Department in the wake of these new revelations.

The Institute on Religion and Democracy contributed to this article.

Ryan Mauro


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Is this Really a Good Time to Cut Back our Military?

by Silvio Canto, Jr.

According to news reports, the US military will be cut dramatically:

"Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has proposed shrinking the Army to its smallest size in 74 years through a series of base closures and troops cuts, and by completely eliminating several Air Force aircraft fleets.   

The move comes as the U.S. Army moves into the final phases of a massive troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, and Congress raises new red flags about American deficit spending.  

Hagel surprised some observers on Monday when he outlined a global military philosophy that removed America from the center of its universe.  

'The development and proliferation of more advanced military technology of other nations - it means that we are entering an era where American dominance on the seas, in the skies, and space can no longer be taken for granted,' Hagel said.  

'As a consequence of large budget cuts, our future force will assume additional risks in some areas,' he added.  

That sets the table for a coming congressional battle over what to keep and what to toss out."

To be fair, we need to reevaluate our military from time to time.  We need to understand that future wars are more likely to look like Afghanistan or targeted missions against terrorist cells than D-Day or the Tokyo bombing raids.

However, I oppose these cuts because they will confirm that the US is in retreat. 

This is the wrong message when we have China rising and sending its warships around.   

It is also the wrong message for President Putin, North Korea, Iran and other enemies of the US, as my friend Bill Katz posted today.

Question:  What happened 74 years ago when we had this size of a military?  It was 1940 and we should remember what happened after that.  We had to rush to build our forces because we weren't ready for world challenges!

Silvio Canto, Jr.
P. S. You can hear CANTO TALK here & follow me on Twitter @ scantojr.


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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What is Behind the American Fiasco in the Middle East?

by Georgy Gounev

Most likely future historians will be amazed by the size and the endurance of the wall surrounding the truth about the disastrous results of the errant strategy applied by American diplomacy in the Middle East.

The first brick in the foundation of this wall was laid personally by the President of the United States, who from the very beginning of his mandate explicitly forbade the use of the term "radical Islam". Let's remind ourselves of the simple truth that the name of the biggest threat hanging over the United States is precisely the radical version of the Muslim religion. Consequently, the decision of the President of the United States raises some interesting questions no one has ever tried to answer. Maybe the most important among them is: Why did Mr. Obama decide to impose a ban on the only possible term applicable to the ideology and the strategy of the enemy?

It could be argued that given the circumstances, the president spent part of his childhood in a Muslim country where he attended a Muslim school which provided Mr. Obama with a unique experience and knowledge as far as Islam and the Muslim world is concerned. At least theoretically, it could be assumed, that Mr. Obama entered the White House well familiar with Islam and its extreme variety, and consequently able to deal with the Islamic challenge.

At a practical level, however, the reality turned out to be very different. Mr. Obama's view seems to be that Islam is just a religion. In other words the Muslim belief system is devoid of any political dimensions except for its use by a relatively insignificant group of "extremists." The multitude of failures brought about by this approach is enormous. Let's pay attention to the most important of the disasters.

It was in 2011 when the administration became blinded by the brouhaha around the so-called Arab Spring. Given that the denial of the existence of radical Islam was already a firmly established pattern, the White House and the Department of State failed to recognize the danger represented by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. As a result, in July of 2011, the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton not only recognized the legitimacy of the largest Islamist organization in Egypt, but also made public the decision of the U.S. Government "to work with the Muslim Brotherhood."

To a large degree, the victory of the Islamists during the presidential elections was predetermined by the passivity of the White House and the mistaken actions of Clinton's Department of State. Let's disperse from the very beginning a possible misunderstanding: there was no need for any form of direct involvement of the American administration in the conduct of the Egyptian elections in 2011, and no one is recommending it for the future either. 

What constituted a huge gaffe for President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton was that both of them assured the Muslim Brotherhood of unconditional American financial and military assistance after the electoral victory of the Islamists. This shocking failure of judgment was symbolized in the word "unconditional." In order to understand the logic of President Obama, we have to go back to his major perception of the Muslim religion. It is worthwhile to follow the practical implementation of Mr. Obama's concept. To start with, Mr. Obama's perception of the Muslim religion as a purely spiritual phenomenon is incorrect. 

The distinguished scholar of Islam Bernard Lewis offered an excellent description of Wahhabism, which is the extremist variety of Sunni Islam. In his attempt to explain the essence of radical Islam, Dr. Lewis asked his readers to picture a situation where the Ku Klux Klan obtained full control over the oil wealth of Texas. Based on the income derived from the oil, the Klan launched a worldwide propaganda campaign that proclaimed its ideology as the only true version of Christianity. It would be logical then for the Klansmen to accuse the Catholics, Protestants, and the followers of the Greek Orthodox Church of being heretics and apostates from the only true variety of Christianity represented and propagated by the Klan.

This incorrect interpretation of the essence, the purpose, and the strategy of radical Islam by President Obama made inevitable the conduct of a mistaken policy dutifully executed by Department of State under Hillary Clinton, and currently under John Kerry. The same factor determined the disastrous American approach to the crisis ravaging Egypt. For all practical purposes, the U.S. sided with the hard-core Islamist Morsi. The former President of Egypt encouraged by the warmth of the friendship unconditionally offered to him by Mr. Obama and Ms. Clinton, embarked on a course leading to the establishment of an Islamist dictatorship along the lines of the system that emerged in 1979 in Iran.

What happened next was even worse: the administration that lavished Morsi's regime with a billion dollars' worth of financial assistance and military supplies turned a cold shoulder on the Egyptian military who extracted their country from the merciless grip of the Islamists.

There are events in politics when a politician should make his voice heard when the given event affects his principles or beliefs. At the same time, there are facts and situations the leader should keep within his private domain. In some strange way President Obama acts in contrast to those very basic requirements. The world still remembers the blood of the young protesters shed on the streets of Teheran in the aftermath of the rigged elections that brought about the second mandate of President Ahmadinejad in Iran. The majority of the world's statesmen expressed their condemnation of the Iranian regime and their support of its victims. Regretfully, the White House and the Department of State under Clinton remained silent. 

At the same time however, the president spoke about his positive feelings towards the Turkish prime minister Tayyip Erdogan, whom Mr. Obama, according to his own words, counts as one of his five best friends in the realm of politics. Shall we remind the President of the United States of Erdogan's record? Erdogan is a hard -ore Islamist who supported Morsi, still supports Hamas, crashed the protest demonstrations of the students, and imprisoned a score of Turkish journalists. In addition, the Turkish statesman has an entirely negative attitude toward Israel. 

On a different subject: what does President Obama think about Benghazi? There was an intense moment when his former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, assumed full responsibility for the calamity that took the lives of four American diplomats. What was the punishment for her role in the murky and bloody affair? Well, she has been enthusiastically pushed forward as a leading candidate for the presidency of the United States...

Georgy Gounev PhD teaches and writes on the ideology and strategy of radical Islam. Among his books"The Dark Side of the Crescent Moon"is to be released in 2014.The book explores the impact of radical Islam on American/Russian relations.


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Pressure our Enemies, not our Friends

by Doug Lamborn

Syria is devastated by civil war. Egypt is immersed in violent turmoil by Islamist insurgents. Iran continues to work on advanced centrifuges at an alarming pace, and al-Qaida and affiliated groups continue to threaten traditional Arab regimes and Western interests throughout the area.

With the region aflame and so many crises demanding attention, the U.S. has made a baffling decision to focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and make it the crux of its Middle East policy.

U.S. Secretary of State Kerry has made nearly a dozen visits to the region in the last year in an unceasing effort to broker an agreement between Israelis and Palestinians. He is expected to announce a framework for a peace deal in the coming weeks.

While everyone wishes for peace, many of us in Congress are troubled that the Obama administration is unduly pressuring Israel into making far-reaching concessions in peace talks with the Palestinians, concessions that may be detrimental to Israel's long-term security.

I believe that direct negotiation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, without pressure from a third party, is the only path to a true peace. History has repeatedly shown that outside pressure, however well-intended, is a recipe for failure.

Moreover, our concern over the administration's tactics is heightened by the fact that this pressure is coming under the shadow of a nuclear-armed Iran. Indeed, Iran is continuing to spin its centrifuges, and work on more advanced ones, and top officials have said they will never dismantle them. 

After years of sanctions which brought Iran to the negotiating table, there are growing indications that Iran's economy is improving because of changing market expectations resulting from the easing of sanctions. Just this month, the largest European business delegation in more than three decades visited Iran, a group that included a French delegation of more than 100 potential investors from some of France's largest companies. In such an atmosphere, the West is losing its greatest leverage in advance of the resumption of talks with Iran on a final agreement.

Russia's economy minister is headed to Tehran in April to discuss a broad range of trade issues and there are reports of an oil-for-goods deal between Russia and Iran worth an estimated $1.5 billion a month despite adamant U.S. opposition. With the weakening of sanctions, we are also witnessing an increase in Iranian oil exports. 

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's message is that Iran is open for business, while Iran advances its nuclear weapons program, including development of ballistic missiles. Little wonder that the CNN host who recently interviewed Rouhani called the U.S.'s Iran policy a "train wreck."

We should be putting pressure where it belongs -- on our enemies, not on our friends. Especially at this time, Israel must not be coerced into any moves that could endanger its security. 

It is my belief that a strong majority in Congress shares this view. 

In the meantime, continued economic progress on the West Bank will do more to bring about the kind of solution the U.S. administration wants. Progress will improve the quality of life of Palestinians, and thereby indirectly weaken Hamas in the Gaza Strip. 

A viable peace can only be worked out in direct bilateral negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

Doug Lamborn is the U.S. congressman representing Colorado's 5th district, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, and co-chairman of the bipartisan Congressional Israel Allies Caucus.


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Saudi Arabia: The Middle East’s Real Apartheid State

by Daniel Greenfield


There is a country in the Middle East where 10 percent of the population is denied equal rights because of their race, where black men are not allowed to hold many government positions, where black women are put on trial for witchcraft and where the custody of children is granted to the parent with the most “racially superior” bloodline.

This Apartheid State is so enormously powerful that it controls American foreign policy in the Middle East even as its princes and princesses bring their slaves to the United Kingdom and the United States.

That country is Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia abolished slavery in 1962 under pressure from President Kennedy, who accomplished what the Ottoman Empire and the League of Nations had not been able to, but that hasn’t stopped its citizens from selling castrated slaves on Facebook or its princes from beating their black slaves to death in posh London hotels.

The Saudis had clung to their racist privileges longer than anyone else. When rumors reached Mecca that the Ottoman Empire might be considering the abolition of African slavery and equal rights for all, the chief of the Ulema of Mecca issued a fatwa declaring “the ban on slaves is contrary to Sharia (Islamic Law)… with such proposals the Turks have become infidels and it is lawful to make their children slaves.”

But Saudi Arabia’s oil wealth eventually made slavery economically unnecessary. Early on, African slaves worked for foreign oil companies which paid their masters, but they were a poor fit for the oil economy. The Kingdom no longer needed agricultural slaves and pearl drivers; it needed trained technicians from the West and international travel made it cheaper to import Asian workers for household labor and construction than to maintain its old trade in slaves.

The Saudis replaced the 450,000 slaves of the 1950s with 8.4 million guest workers. These workers are often treated like slaves, but they are not property and are therefore even more disposable than the slaves were. Exact numbers are hard to come by, but Nepal alone reported 265 worker deaths in Saudi Arabia in a single year.

Human Rights Watch has described conditions for foreign workers in Saudi Arabia as resembling slavery.

Meanwhile the three million Afro-Saudis are denied equal rights, prevented from serving as judges, security officials, diplomats, mayors and many other official positions. Afro-Saudi women are not allowed to appear on camera.

“There is not one single black school principal in Saudi Arabia,” the Institute for Gulf Affairs, a Saudi human rights group, reported.

Kafa’ah, equality in marriage, is used to establish that both sides are free from the “taint” of slave blood. The blood of Takruni, West African slaves, or Mawalid, slaves who gained their freedom by converting to Islam, is kept out of the Saudi master race through genealogical records that can be presented at need.

Challenges to the Kafa’ah of a marriage occur when tribal members uncover African descent in the husband or the wife after the marriage has already occurred. The racially inferior party is ordered to present “proof of equality” in the form of family trees and witnesses. If the couple is judged unequal, the Saudi Gazette reported, “Children’s custody is usually given to the ‘racially superior’ parent.”

These Saudi efforts at preventing their former slaves from intermarrying with them have only accelerated their incestuous inbreeding. In parts of Saudi Arabia, the percentage of marriages among blood relatives can go as high as 70%.

Saudi Arabia has the second highest rate of birth defects in the world, but a Saudi Sheikh blamed this phenomenon on female drivers, even though women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia.

Equality has always been a foreign concept to the Saudis whose tribal castes determine the right to rule. In Saudi Arabia everyone has their place, from the Afro-Saudi, to the non-Muslim guest worker to the Saudi woman.

On the road to Mecca, a sign points one way for “Muslims” and another for “Non-Muslims.” Only Muslims are allowed into the holy cities of Islam. A Christian truck driver from Sri Lanka who wandered into Mecca was arrested and dispatched for trial to a Sharia court of Islamic law.

Likewise, women are barred from many jobs, kept from driving and even electronically tracked to prevent them from leaving the country. Guest workers in Saudi Arabia are treated as slaves, their identity papers held by their employers, preventing them from leaving without permission.

The guest workers however, if they survive the witchcraft accusations and sexual assaults, will escape back to Ethiopia, Sri Lanka or the Philippines with a fraction of the money that they were supposed to earn. The Afro-Saudis however have nowhere to return to. Saudi Arabia is the only home they know.

The Arab slave trade was longer, crueler and far more enduring than anything Europeans and Americans are familiar with and left behind large numbers of Afro-Arabs across the Middle East and Afro-Turks in Turkey. While African-Americans are prominently represented in American life, Afro-Arabs and Afro-Turks suffer from an inferior status which keeps them away from political power and out of public view.

American soldiers in Basra were surprised to discover large numbers of Afro-Iraqis. The hundreds of thousands of Afro-Iraqis are a legacy of the Zanj slave rebellion when 500,000 African slaves rose against their Arab masters. The Afro-Iraqis are free, but relentlessly discriminated against. In Gaza, 10,000 Afro-Arabs face daily discrimination. But it is the Afro-Saudis who are the Middle East’s best kept secret.

Nawal Al-Hawsawi was dubbed the Rosa Parks of Saudi Arabia when she took three women to court who insultingly called her “Abd” or slave. Nawal dropped the court case after she received an apology, but the taunt of “slave” is one that Afro-Saudis have to live with daily in Saudi Arabia.

“The monarchy’s religious tradition still views blacks as slaves,” Ali Al-Ahmed, the Director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs, wrote in Foreign Policy Magazine.

The Institute blames Deputy Saudi Foreign Minister Abdul Aziz Bin Abdullah, the son of the Saudi king, for being the architect of the Saudi apartheid state, but Saudi apartheid predates any one man.

Saudi slavery was intertwined with Islam, receiving sanction from the Koran and the Hadiths while relying on the Saudi role as the guardians of Mecca and Medina to lure African Muslims into slavery. African Muslims who made the pilgrimage to Mecca were defrauded and forced to sell their children into slavery to afford the return trip home. Slave traders lured African Muslims from Sudan, Mali and Burkina Faso by promising to take them to the holy places of Islam and teach them to read the Koran in Arabic.

Sheikh Saleh Al-Fawzan, a leading authority on Islam in Saudi Arabia, bluntly stated, “Slavery is a part of Islam. Slavery is part of jihad, and jihad will remain as long there is Islam.” The linkage between slavery, Jihad and Islam dates back to Mohammed whose followers were compensated with human property.

In The Legacy of Arab-Islam in Africa, John Alembillah Azumah writes that, “In pre-Islamic Arabia blacks were held in high esteem and did marry Arab women … the discrimination on account of the colour of their skin is a development within the Islamic period.”

Racism was a necessary prerequisite to the expansion of Islam through Jihad. The land that is today known as Saudi Arabia was at the center of those conquests, growing rich in slaves and loot. Today it is once again at the center of the new Jihad, its every atrocity justified by its role in the holy wars of Islam.

Daniel Greenfield


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