Friday, March 14, 2014

Mordechai Kedar: Qatar Detached

by Mordechai Kedar

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

The meaning of the root [q-t-r] in Arabic is to tow, and in Hebrew it is to create steam. Because of these two meanings Eliezer ben Yehuda named the apparatus that tows a train “Qatar” (steam engine), because it tows the train and creates steam, meaning hot air. The Qatar’s ability to tow the train depends on its own power and its connection to the train because without the power and without the connection to the train it cannot tow, it is just an ugly, noisy apparatus that creates hot air. The Emirate of Qatar, since the end of 1996, has been operating according to both of these meanings: using great strength it pulls the Arab world behind it and creates a lot of hot air.

In November of 1996 the Emirate of Qatar began operating the al-Jazeera channel with a very clear agenda: unrestrained propaganda against the Arab rulers, Israel, the United States and the West in general, and full support for the Muslim Brotherhood organizations, including Hamas. This agenda reflects the political and cultural approach of the emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa ahl Thani. Al-Jazeera’s agenda grants it the highest rating in the world – since 70 million people watch on the dozens of different al-Jazeera channels for at least one hour per day. The majority of them watch the Arabic news channel, which has been shaking up the Arab world for more than seventeen years.

Thanks to al-Jazeera and its influence on the Arab masses from Morocco in the West to Oman in the East, from Syria in the North to Yemen in the South, the Emirate of Qatar has become the most influential country in the Middle East, whose power is much greater than its demographic weight (approximately two hundred thousand citizens), its geographical territory (similar to the area of the Negev in Israel) and its economic capability. In recent years, the Emir of Qatar has become the most important and influential person in the Arab world, and thus, also the most widely accepted mediator (meaning judge) of conflicts in the Arab world, and there are – touch wood - not a few of these.

The propaganda that the channel spreads against the Arab rulers was the chief cause for the outbreak of the great upheaval called the Arab Spring, which began in December, 2010 and to date has brought about far-reaching changes in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria, with severe regional ramifications in Bahrain, Jordan and Iraq. The poor, ignorant, ill and oppressed Arab masses broke out into the streets to protest and demand their rights even at the price of their lives. Al-Jazeera spurred them on and filled them with the hope that their protests would succeed and they would have democracy overnight.

In addition to the propaganda, Qatar supported the rebels in Libya and Syria with money, weapons, ammunition, communications and training, and it stood, and is still openly and firmly standing behind the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt, which lasted for one year, from July of 2012 until July of 2013. Today, the opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood see al-Jazeera as an enemy agent, if not even the enemy itself. After three miserable years of the “Spring” and the eruption of open battle between the regime and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the terrible situation of the Arab world is due – at least in part – to the Emirate of Qatar and the al-Jazeera channel.

However, lately the Emirate of Qatar has begun to show signs of support for Iran, Hizb’Allah and the Shi’ites.  The new emir – Tamim, the son of the previous emir – visited Iran and announced there that Iran must participate in the solution to the problem in Syria. This raised the ire of its neighbors in the Arabian Peninsula, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, all of whom see Iran as the external enemy, Hizb’Allah as the regional enemy and the Shi’ite sect in every one of these countries as the internal enemy. Qatar’s active support of Shi’ite terror organizations crosses a bright, clear and very dangerous red line.

Saudi Arabia is convinced that there is intelligence cooperation between Qatar and Hizb’Allah, and that Qatar has delivered information on Sunni spying and sabotage networks to Hizb’Allah, which enables Hizb’Allah to eliminate these networks. On February 20th, a shooting attack was carried out in Eastern Saudi Arabia, in the Shi’ite region of al-Qatif, in which two Saudi Arabian security people and two Shi’ite suspects were killed. Saudi Arabia attributes this attack to Hizb’Allah, and accuses its neighbor, Qatar, of supporting it. Two weeks ago an attack occurred in Bahrain in which a Sunni officer from the United Emirates by the name of Tariq Mohammed Al Shehi was killed, along with two members of his entourage, and this attack was attributed to the Shi’ite organization as well. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back and the countries of the Arabian Peninsula – except for Yemen, Oman and Kuwait – decided to recall their ambassadors from Qatar.

This step is considered to be harsh because it is against the international convention, which is that the first phase is to “invite the ambassador for consultation” and only in the second phase recall him altogether. The countries went to the second, harsher phase, to express the severity with which they see Qatar’s acts and its policies.  Because of this coordinated act, the issue of how to relate to Qatar has been put on the agenda in each country, in each place and in anyone’s heart who is interested in the Arab nation’s condition and the miserable situation in which it is enveloped at this time. It is natural to search for the party who is responsible for the situation, and Qatar is exactly in the spot where it is extremely easy to find the guilty party because of its obvious presence in Arab public life and because of its great involvement in events in many Arab arenas.

In this context it is important to note that Qatar’s ambassador in Cairo had been sent home in August of 2013 with the claim that Qatar is financing Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, terror in Sinai and the “Free Egyptian Army”. After the removal of Mursi, Egypt claimed that al-Jazeera has been spreading false propaganda about Egypt using a special channel for Egypt, “Al-Jazeera Mubasher” (straight from the centers of the Muslim Brotherhood’s demonstrations). Egypt also claims that Qatar provides shelter for the Muslim Brotherhood operatives who flee there from Egypt and that Qatar refuses to extradite them to stand trial. Egypt recalled its ambassador from Qatar in February of this year for these reasons.

The Muslim Brotherhood Issue

One of the ideological cornerstones motivating the Muslim Brotherhood organizations is that in Islam, tribal or ethnic affiliation should have no meaning for the Muslim individual, because he is measured only by his faithfulness to Allah, to Muhammad, to Islam, to Sharia and to the Islamic nation. Tribal and ethnic allegiances must be abrogated because they split the Islamic nation into rival groups, cause conflicts and preferred status on the basis of competition in Islam, thereby interfering with religion being the common denominator for all Muslims.

Such an ideology can be attractive only in an individualistic society such as that in Egypt and Tunisia, where most of the population lives in cities and is not organized as families or clans, but as individuals or nuclear families consisting of a father, mother and children. On the other hand, in a tribal society, where allegiance to the tribe and its traditions takes precedence over everything, the Muslim Brotherhood doctrine is perceived as undermining the social order and its principles, as well as the class hierarchy and the elite group that leads the tribe responsibly and faithfully.

The society in the Gulf countries is a tribal society, and the social structure is a source of the stability – and therefore the wealth as well – of the citizens, because each one of the Emirates is based on one single tribe: the Sabah clan in Kuwait, the Thani clan in Qatar, the Nahyan clan in Abu Dhabi and so forth. For years the Gulf countries, except for Qatar, have been making a great security effort to locate, arrest and expel anyone who tries to spread the Muslim Brotherhood doctrine, and if it is one of the members of the tribe who “fell victim to their ruinous propaganda” then he will find himself in an “educational institution” that has iron doors and bars and dungeons where people are treated with great toughness and little sensitivity.

And here is the Emirate of Qatar, who not only invites Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi from Egypt, the most prominent ideological spokesman of the Muslim Brotherhood today, to be the mufti of the country and spiritual mentor to the emir and his family, it also gives him an entire hour every week during prime viewing time to spread his Brotherhood propaganda without limits or monitoring of the ideas and without any hindrance on his lush verbiage on the al-Jazeera channel. As long as he curses Israel and the United States and incites the Arab masses against them the Gulf countries can tolerate what he says, but when he condemns the United Emirates for the way it relates to the Muslim Brotherhood it becomes too much to bear. Dhahi Khalfan, police chief of Dubai, announced last year that the Muslim Brotherhood – meaning Qaradawi and whoever provides a stage for him – are more dangerous to the Arab nation than Iran. The Emir of Qatar either did not hear, or did not want to hear, the warning that is inherent in Khalfan’s words.

Hot Heads and Cold Shoulders

The joint decision made by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Emirates to recall their ambassadors from Qatar released the most dangerous jinn of the Arab world from the bottle into the public discourse: the relationship between the dictators and those who rebel against them,  the issue of tribalism, Wahhabism and the Saudi royal house, the terror that affects everyone, the Syrian tragedy, the hatred between the Persians and the Arabs, the fear of Iran and the collaboration with it, the blood feud between the Sunnis and the Shi’ites, the behavior of the Muslim Brotherhood and the struggle against them, the role of the media, and the relationship to Israel and the West. All of these issues are interrelated, and the discussion touches on fairly difficult areas.

Many in the Emirates who write in social networks, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and so forth, call for boycotting all of the Qatari media, especially al-Jazeera, not to listen to them and not to write in them. There are those who call for removing the soccer championship games of 2022 from Qatar, and there are those who call for forgo flying with the Qatari airline and inviting Qatari representatives to professional conferences and cultural events.

Even Israel is not missing from this story: there are those who claim that it is a holy obligation to excommunicate Qatar totally because it is an agent of Israel and al-Jazeera and is actually managed from the basement of the Mosad. Their proof is simple: Israel is the greatest benefactor of the shake-up in the Arab world, because during the past three years all of the threats to Israel have been erased  - from the Syrian army, which is not capable by itself to stand against the waves of jihadists that Qatar has sent to Syria, and from Hizb’Allah, which, with its tens of thousands of missiles threatening Israel, is sinking into the quagmire of blood, tears and fire that are destroying Syria, and every night it  buries the heroes that Israel could not subdue in the war of 2006.

On the other hand, there are those who accuse Saudi Arabia of deteriorating the situation in the Arab world by encouraging the United States to eliminate Saddam Hussein in 2003, because his elimination made it possible for Iran to take over Iraq and turn it into a center of Shi’ite activities and a land bridge to Syria and Hizb’Allah and to establish a Shi’ite empire from Iran via Iraq and Syria to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea in Lebanon. Moreover, Saudi Arabia was the country that established al-Qaeda, and therefore Saudi Arabia must direct the claims of harming the security of the Arab nation to itself, not to Qatar.

Saudi Arabia, in an attempt to defend itself from the accusations of undermining the security situation is promoting an initiative against terror these days, and calls for defining any armed organization that operates in the Arab world today – Shi’ite and Sunni alike– as a forbidden terror organization. On this list are organizations such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hizb’Allah, the Houthis (Shi’ites in Yemen), and al-Qaeda in its various branches. The fact that some of these organizations were founded by Saudi Arabia and are funded today with Saudi money is not mentioned.

This is not the first time that Saudi Arabia has announced an initiative to clear itself from guilt: the Arab Peace Initiative with Israel began as a Saudi peace initiative in March of 2002, to clear the Saudis of guilt of responsibility for the attacks of September 2001 in the United States.

The Indictment

After the recall of the ambassador, three countries published a joint announcement that clarifies the reasons for the step that they have taken. In the announcement they placed the responsibility on Qatar because it did not act according to decisions of the Gulf Cooperation Council (a body that includes most of the countries of the Arabian Peninsula and whose main purpose is to synchronize their security operations) that were taken in Riyadh on the 23rd of November 2013, and determined that the member countries must “act according to the principles that assure the country’s non-involvement in internal matters of another country, either directly or indirectly, and refrain from practical, political or media support of any person or organization that threatens the security and stability of member countries.”

The accusations directed toward Qatar are not new. The disagreement between it and Saudi Arabia and its support of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in the battle against the regime of Defense Minister Abd al-Fatah al-Sisi has become public, with Saudi Arabia expressing support of Sisi since July 2013, while Qatar enthusiastically supporting – even to this day – Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood. Also the role that the al-Jazeera channel fills in general and Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi in particular has been drawing severe criticism from Saudi Arabia for a long time. The Qataris claim that al-Jazeera is free to choose it’s the direction of its media, but the Saudis know that the channel expresses both the prior and the present emir of Qatar’s political and cultural agenda.

The decision to recall the ambassadors from Qatar was not taken easily; it was preceded by many hours of discussions and three chances were given to Qatar to change its policy, which endangers the peace and stability of the Gulf countries. The announcement read: “since more than three months have passed after the agreement was signed without Qatar taking the necessary steps to implement it, on the basis of full disclosure and transparency with which the leaders of the three countries relate to the problems of supreme national interests of their countries, and in light of the great challenges and fateful transformations that threaten the security and stability of the Gulf countries, the responsibility placed on their shoulders obligates them to instruct their foreign ministers to clarify the matter to the state of Qatar and the importance of a unified position against anything whose objective is to undermine the stability and harm the security of their countries.  The meeting took place in Kuwait on the 17th of February, 2014, in the presence of Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jabar al-Sabah, the emir of Kuwait, Sheikh bin Hamad bin Khalifa ahl Thani, the emir of Qatar, and the foreign minister of the Gulf Cooperation Council. In the meeting it was agreed that the foreign ministers of the countries of the Council would determine a mechanism for oversight on carrying out the agreement of Riyadh. Following this the foreign ministers of the countries of the Council met in Riyadh on March 4th, 2014 and decided to invest great efforts in order to convince Qatar of the importance of carrying out the agreement of Riyadh and its agreeing to the mechanism of oversight on implementation, but unfortunately all of these efforts did not result in Qatar’s agreement to accept these steps upon itself.”
In other words: the Gulf countries have announced that Qatar is a rogue country that does not accept the collective’s norms of behavior and according to the rules of tribal behavior it has become “Tashmis” – publicly removed from the group in order to shame it. In an indirect way the decision says: “We hoped that the new emir of Qatar, 33-year old Tamim, would change the policy of his father who resigned in June of 2013, but we were severely disappointed. We gave him a 150 day grace period to learn what we expect from him but he continues to walk in his father’s deviant path. We have additional means to pressure him such as a total break in relations, closing the land border between Qatar and Saudi Arabia and denying Qatar to fly over our countries. These steps would choke Qatar and it would not be able to function.”

For the time being Qatar is not upset about its ambassadors being recalled, although it has expressed sorrow over this step. If the crisis with the neighbors deepens, we may see the previous emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad, return to take part in managing the matters of state, as a sort of responsible adult. This would happen behind the scenes so as not to embarrass his son.

The important question is what will happen to Qatar’s relations with the Arab countries. It seems to me that they will not cut off relations with it entirely in order to prevent it from throwing itself on the Iranians’ bosom and become an Iranian Trojan horse within the Arabian Peninsula. Also, a split within the “Arab Family” weakens it. Another important thing is that the largest American Air Force base in the Gulf is located in Qatar, so a full break in relations between Qatar and the Arab states would make it difficult for the Americans to maneuver their policy in the Gulf toward Iran, and the Gulf states are still hopeful that the United States will save them from the long arm of Iran.

It seems to me that some time in the near future the two sides will come to a consensus or even an agreement, and in this framework Qatar will have to curtail its involvement in the Arab states and its connections with Hizb’Allah, and its Arab “sisters” will maintain a reasonable level of communication with the rogue emirate. A complete break in relations would not serve either side.


Dr. Kedar is available for lectures

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

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

Additional articles by Dr. Kedar

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


Re-Open the Lockerbie Case? Not If It Means Facing the Truth About Iran.

by Jonathan S. Tobin

Could there be a worse week for new revelations about the 1988 Lockerbie tragedy to be unveiled? The report claiming that Iran rather than Libya was the culprit in the atrocity should raise eyebrows around globe. But despite the persuasive case made for this theory, don’t expect the United States or any other Western country to heed the new evidence and re-open the case. With both the U.S. and its European allies desperate to reach a new nuclear deal with Tehran that will enable them to halt the sanctions on the Islamist regime, discussions about the true nature of the administration’s diplomatic partner are, to put it mildly, unwelcome. If Washington isn’t interested in drawing conclusions about Iran from the seizure of an arms ship bound for terrorist-run Gaza last week or even the latest threat from its Revolutionary Guard about destroying Israel uttered yesterday, why would anyone think the Obama administration would be willing to rethink its conclusions about a crime that was long thought to be solved?

To be fair to the administration, a lot of time has passed since the downing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland that cost the lies of 259 passengers and crew and 11 persons on the ground. The U.S. and the West put a lot of energy into proving that agents of the Libyan Gaddafi regime were responsible. The Libyans were known state sponsors of terror and had an axe to grind against the U.S. at the time. After the conviction of a Libyan intelligence agent for these murders, even more energy was spent on vainly trying to persuade a Scottish court from letting him go home to Libya, where he eventually died of cancer. Why would anyone in the U.S. government want to admit that we were wrong all these years? Nor would most Americans think an investigation undertaken by a news organization like the reliably anti-American Al Jazeera, no matter how meticulous, would persuade them to rethink their long-held conclusions about the case.

But, as David Horovitz writes persuasively in the Times of Israel, Al Jazeera’s report is based on information from the same Iranian defector that accurately testified about the 1994 AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires, Argentina that killed 85 persons. Though the full truth about Lockerbie is yet to be uncovered, Horovitz is right to point out that if we accept the word of former Iranian intelligence agent Abolghasem Mesbahi about Tehran’s terrorist plot in South America, there’s no reason to dismiss his detailed claims about Lockerbie. The pieces here fit too well to allow us to merely shrug and move on.

But the problem isn’t Mesbahi’s credibility or even the embarrassment that a finding that debunked previous Western intelligence work on Lockerbie would cause in Washington and London. Rather, it’s the fact that the defector is pointing the finger at a government that the West wants very much to rehabilitate these days.

The United States and its European allies are deeply invested in the notion that Hassan Rouhani’s victory in Iran’s faux election last year marked a genuine change in the country’s political culture. Justifying a weak interim nuclear deal that granted Iran both significant sanctions relief and a tacit recognition of its “right” to enrich uranium was made possible not only by the arguments about Iran’s supposed desire for a new start with the West but also by a determination by the administration that it wanted to step away from confrontation with Tehran at all costs.

The president is so worried about hurting the delicate feelings of the anti-Semitic government in Tehran that he is willing to veto new sanctions legislation that would have strengthened his hand in the talks. This policy is difficult enough to justify in the face of Iran’s continued support for terrorism, its genocidal threats against Israel (which make its possession of nuclear weapons more than a theoretical security problem), and its long record of diplomatic deception. The last thing the president and Secretary of State Kerry want is to have the Lockerbie case disinterred and for the regime—many of whose leading players were active in the security apparatus at the time—indicted for mass murder of innocent Americans.

So don’t expect anyone in Washington to take the new evidence about Lockerbie seriously or even to pay lip service to the notion of re-opening the case. Horovitz is right that Al Jazeera’s report ought to justify a new investigation that will fearlessly follow the evidence to the guilty parties. But as long as making nice with Iran is one of the diplomatic priorities of the United States, the truth about Lockerbie is likely to be ignored.

Jonathan S. Tobin


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

Can We Stop Iran from Going Nuclear?

by Adam Turner


The Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) has just launched a major internet Ad campaign, in order to refocus world attention on the threat posed by a nuclear Iran. Ever since the Iran Nuclear Interim Deal was announced in November of 2013, EMET has strongly opposed it. The deal gives Iran relief from crippling economic sanctions in return for almost nothing of any real significance, leaving Iran’s nuclear infrastructure almost totally intact. Iran keeps every one of its 19,000 centrifuges spinning and is able to continue to construct more. While caps will be placed on Iran’s ability to enrich, the deal will do nothing to prevent it from expanding its stockpile of uranium, which means that Iran will emerge from the Iran Nuclear Interim Deal closer to its goal of a nuclear weapon.

In return, the U.S. and its allies give the Iranian terror supporting regime immediate economic relief from the economic sanctions that have left it so weakened as to be close to collapse.  The treaty widens permissible trade in oil, gold and auto parts, giving the Iranian regime an economic windfall of over $20 billion.  It also releases frozen Iranian assets to the tune of about $8 billion. Worst of all, while any Iranian concessions are easily reversible, Western concessions are likely irreversible, meaning the existing sanctions regime will have been gutted with no realistic prospect of restoring those sanctions to previous levels.

Until now, the American media has largely focused on how the Iran Nuclear Interim Deal will impact Israel.  However, by framing the conversation on Israel, which the Iranian regime regards as only “the Minor Satan,” the U.S. media has largely avoided discussing the very real threat that Iran still poses to the United States, which they have long referred to as the “the Great Satan.”

Adam Turner


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

Gaza Missiles: Palestinian State in Practice

by Jonathan S. Tobin

In recent months, there’s been a lot of debate about the best answer to the Middle East conflict. The consensus here in the United States is that the answer is a two-state solution that envisages the creation of a Palestinian Arab state alongside the nation state of the Jewish people, i.e. the State of Israel. There are good arguments to be made that such an arrangement would be the ideal conclusion to the century-long war that Arabs have waged to extinguish Zionism. Indeed, should the political culture of the Palestinians ever change to the point where their leaders could count on strong support for a deal that would recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders were drawn, there would be no resisting such an outcome.

For now such a scenario remains more a matter of science fiction than political reality. In the meantime, while Israelis await that happy future, they must contend with a Palestinian leadership and terror groups that, unfortunately, continue to better represent the wishes of their people than any pious platitudes about peace that Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas utters when in the presence of Western reporters or gullible Israelis.

Even more to the point, the theoretical arguments about a Palestinian state tend to ignore the fact that one currently exists in all but name in Gaza. There, a Hamas government continues its tyrannical Islamist rule over more than a million people with no interference from Israel other than the imposition of a loose blockade on the strip (food, medicine, and other essential items enter it daily from Israel). But as today’s barrage of missile fire aimed at southern Israel from Gaza shows, this Palestinian state presents a clear and present danger to both the Jewish state and regional stability. While no casualties resulted from the 50 rockets fired from Gaza, the incident not only terrorized southern Israel. It also demonstrated the inherent danger that an irredentist Palestinian state where armed terrorists are free to plan mayhem poses to Israel’s security. While peace activists claim all problems will be solved by Israeli territorial withdrawals, the example of Gaza, where every single settlement, soldier, and individual Jew was pulled out in 2005, continues to operate as a powerful argument against repeating the experiment in the West Bank as much of the world insists Israel must do.

It is true that Gaza is not technically independent. Its status is, like that of the West Bank, legally murky as no nation can claim unchallenged sovereignty on these portions of the former British Mandate for Palestine. Israel maintains a presence in the West Bank in the form of settlements, many of which it rightly expects to keep even in the event of a peace deal with the PA, as well as a strong security apparatus that exists to prevent a recurrence of the terror campaign of the second intifada that cost more than 1,000 Israeli lives. But Israel abandoned all claims to Gaza in 2005. It does attempt to keep the terrorist enclave in check via a blockade in which Egypt actively participates and which is legal under international law. That leaves some leftist propagandists to claim that it is still occupied, but this is nonsense. For all intents and purposes, Gaza is completely independent. And therein lies the problem.

The Palestinian state in all but name is bristling with weapons and honeycombed with fortifications aimed at making it difficult for Israel to counterattack against terror attacks launched from the strip. Though Hamas has largely observed the cease-fire which ended the daily assaults on southern Israel, it remains ready to use its military forces to counteract any possible peace moves from Abbas. Even worse, it tolerates the existence of another even more extreme Islamist terrorist movement in the area. Islamic Jihad has grown in strength and influence in recent years as a battered Hamas has grown more gun shy about confrontations with Israel.

The dynamics of Palestinian politics are such that these movements’ credibility rests on their ability to inflict pain on Israel. That means Islamic Jihad—which is allied with Iran and apparently the intended recipient of the Klos-C arms ship that Israeli forces intercepted last week—has an active interest in keeping the border hot in order to maintain pressure on Hamas to maintain its war on the Jewish state. Whether today’s missile fire was a local initiative that sought to remind Abbas or Hamas that movement toward peace was unacceptable or the result of an Iranian request, the net effect is the same.

The point here is that an independent Gaza is an armed camp that stands ready and willing to attack Israel at a moment’s notice. Yet as dangerous as it is, it remains hemmed in on the Jewish state’s southern periphery and its ability to inflict terror is limited. That would not be the case in the West Bank where, absent Israeli security forces, terror groups would have the ability to strike the country’s main population centers with impunity and with deadly effect.

It is true that if the conflict were settled and the Palestinian people accepted Israel’s permanence while giving up their dreams of destroying it either by armed conflict or by swamping it with the descendants of the 1948 refugees, there would be no need to fear that Palestinian sovereignty would pose a threat to the Jewish state. But one needn’t be a supporter of Israel’s right-wing parties or the settlement movement to understand that recreating the independent state in Gaza in the West Bank would be suicidal for Israel.

Though foreign observers strain to avoid drawing the obvious conclusion, a two- or three-state solution (if the PA achieves sovereignty in the West Bank while Hamas or Islamic Jihad holds onto Gaza) under the current circumstances would actually worsen the conflict rather than solving it. As long as Gaza provides an example of what Palestinian statehood means in practice, it is not reasonable to expect Israelis to replicate it in the West Bank or in portions of Jerusalem. If Palestinians and their foreign supporters wish to convince them otherwise, they can start by transforming their state in Gaza into one that is less dangerous for themselves and the Israelis. Until they do, no one should take their appeals for two states seriously.

Jonathan S. Tobin


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

An American Fukushima? Lawmakers Neglect our Vulnerable Power Grid

by Frank Gaffney, Jr.

Three years ago today, an earthquake-induced tsunami devastated Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power complex. The flooding knocked out power required to cool reactors and their spent fuel pools, causing dangerous – and continuing – radioactive contamination. Unfortunately, unless we act quickly, such a catastrophe is in the cards for America, too.
After the tidal wave flooded over five-hundred square kilometers of the Japanese coast, we learned that those siting the reactors at Fukushima ignored stone markers that had for centuries warned against building anything below the high-water mark of previous tsunamis.

Centuries-old stone tablets can be found along the Japanese coast warning of tsunamis in towns like Aneyoshi, Iwate Prefecture, in northern Japan. One marker reads, “High dwellings are the peace and harmony of our descendants… Remember the calamity of the great tsunamis. Do not build any homes below this point.”

That unheeded warning cost over 19,000 lives and literally incalculable sums. And the price in both can only increase as a result of the difficulties associated with trying to contain the leaking radiation in ground water under the stricken plant. Seawater is sure to flood the same areas again when – not if – future earthquakes trigger additional tsunamis.

Unfortunately, the United States is facing a potential disaster that could make Japan’s Fukushima nightmare look like, well, a day at the beach. And, as with the Japanese, we have been warned.

In fact, a compendium just published by the Center for Security Policy makes clear a stunning reality: The U.S. government has been on notice for over a decade that the vulnerability of our electric grid to man-caused or naturally occurring disruptions could result in prolonged power outages, possibly over large parts of the country.

The former include physical attacks, cyber-warfare, or weapons causing localized or widespread electromagnetic pulse (EMP) effects. The Washington Free Beacon called attention Tuesday to a bulletin issued last month by the New Jersey Regional Operations Intelligence Center. It concludes that, in the wake of “multiple reports of intrusions in electric grid facilities” in that state and others, the electric grid is “inherently vulnerable” to widespread sabotage.

Even more ominous is a natural counterpart – think of it as a solar tsunami – that will come our way at some point in the foreseeable future: an intense geomagnetic disturbance (GMD) caused by one of the sun’s periodic, huge coronal mass ejections (solar flares). Such GMDs are known as Carrington Events, and they occur roughly every 150 years. The last one took place 155 years ago.

The difference is that in 1859, the only thing remotely equivalent to modern electric systems and the things they power were telegraph offices, equipment, and wires. And during the Carrington Event of that year, many of them caught fire.

A solar storm of such magnitude these days would, among other things, seriously damage, if not destroy outright, high-voltage transformers that constitute the backbone of the nation’s grid. It is, as a practical matter, impossible promptly to replace these critical pieces of equipment if large numbers of them are taken down at once – ensuring that the power will be off for many months, and probably years, in the affected areas.

It is hard to overstate the damage that such blackouts would cause in today’s thoroughly electrified America. Without power, every critical infrastructure in this country upon which our economy, security, and even our lives depend would cease to function.

Among the effects of a protracted suspension of the supply of electricity would be a nuclear circumstance even worse than that faced by Japan three years ago. The pumps needed to move cooling water through the nation’s sixty nuclear power complexes would fail to operate once their back-up generators run out of fuel. The standard for on-site backup fuel at nuclear plants is only seven days.

After that, reactors would melt down, but the radioactivity thereby unleashed should be largely confined within their containment vessels.

The cooling pools where spent fuel rods are kept at such sites would be a different story.
Without power for pumped cooling and water replenishment, the spent fuel pools will boil off and the still-hot fuel rods will overheat, catch fire, and disseminate radioactive fallout downwind. The effect would be simply devastating, especially when combined with other, horrific environmental and societal repercussions of blackouts that could last a year or longer.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has acknowledged the implications of the threat posed by intense solar storms, declaring in 2012, “The NRC believes that it is possible that a geomagnetic storm-induced outage could be long-lasting and could last long enough that the onsite supply of fuel for the emergency generators would be exhausted… Accordingly, it is appropriate for the NRC to consider regulatory actions that could be needed to ensure adequate protection of public health and safety during and after a severe geomagnetic storm.”

The bad news is that – despite the evidence revealed in the Center’s compendium entitled Guilty Knowledge, which presents the executive summaries of eleven different government-sponsored studies of grid vulnerability conducted since 2004 – federal authorities have failed to do anything appreciable to protect us from such disasters.

This state of affairs is as scandalous as the inaction of the Japanese in the face of evidence that their country and people were needlessly at risk. Members of Congress, led by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), who are committed to preventing this sort of predictable and existential peril need our strong support to ensure that corrective action is taken at the federal level.

The good news is that we know how to secure the grid and the price tag for doing so is manageable – especially compared to the intolerable costs of inaction. Better yet, several states are beginning to take steps aimed at protecting their parts of the grid and their populations from the effects of intense solar storms or other assaults.

Legislators in Maine, Virginia, and Florida have introduced and, in several cases, secured approval of initiatives to prepare for such remediation. In Oklahoma, the state legislature is expected to consider this week bills that would put a referendum on the ballot in November to determine if voters want their grid hardened against EMP and other effects. Every state should be encouraged to do the same.
The question is this: Will we heed in time the myriad warnings that the grid’s vulnerability must be mitigated? Or, like the Japanese, will we ignore such warnings – and suffer horrifically for doing so?

Frank Gaffney, Jr.


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Why does the President Continue to Support ObamaCare?

by DB Ganz

Senator Ted Cruz from Texas seems to be a rising political star who deserves to be much admired. Very refreshingly, unlike the “Old Pro” Republicans, he speaks out forthrightly, unabashedly, and persuasively against such things as the Federal government’s runaway spending and encroachment on personal freedom. Perhaps he hasn't been in Washington long enough. Hopefully this is not the case, and Mr. Cruz will stay the way he is.

Nevertheless, I take issue with something Mr. Cruz said in a recent interview. He mentioned that despite being almost categorically critical of President Obama, the man deserves to be praised for continuing to promote ObamaCare, despite its increasing unpopularity with the public and the resultant danger to Democratic candidates everywhere.

Mr. Cruz opined that had Bill Clinton been president, he would have dropped his support for ObamaCare out of political expediency, notwithstanding whatever he believed in personally. Mr. Obama, though, is more of an idealist who sincerely wishes to transform the country into a socialist state. Hence, he continues to promote the bill, despite its negative fallout.

There is a very interesting idea I gleaned from ancient Jewish texts that has bearing on this compliment.

When people set out to do something improper, for some unknown (possibly spiritual) reason, they will be infused with an extra measure of almost unnatural vigor that enables pursuing the wrongdoing with great energy. However, it will tend to be far more difficult to undertake truly worthwhile endeavors.

To illustrate, a couple conducting an adulterous affair will have boundless energy to pursue the wrongdoing at all times of the day and night. However, a traditional married couple who set out to improve the quality of their relationship will have to constantly struggle with themselves to see their noble undertaking through to completion.

Similarly, one sometimes observes young people who have almost limitless storehouses of enthusiasm and energy for such purposeless time-wasting pursuits as video entertainment. But doing very well in school or learning to master a classical instrument typically requires a great deal of self-discipline and concerted effort that rarely comes naturally. The activities of both types require sustained focus and exertion. Yet, it is altogether easier to work at something that is dissolute.

The goal of providing medical coverage to all Americans is a worthwhile one, and Mr. Obama deserves credit for promoting this high-minded objective. I nonetheless feel that ObamaCare is positively immoral. In essence, to secure medical coverage for others, it disrespects the private property of working people by abrogating their democratic right to spend their own hard-earned money on the health care of their choosing.

Traditionally, charity is something that people give to causes they see as important. For one person it is a university, for another an orchestra, for a third medical research, and so forth. Another time-honored freedom is the option to not give charity at all. Using police powers of the state to seize money from private citizens against their will in order to fund a charity of politicians’ choosing (in this case aiding the medically uninsured) makes “theft by government” the law of the land

Also consider that in brutal dictatorships, people often acquire property and political power through corruption, stealing, and brutality. Judeo-Christian ethics, however, do not recognize ownership or status that was attained through coercion and fraud. If someone paid $5,000 for a car and was delivered a bicycle instead, the deal is cancelled, and the seller must refund the money.

ObamaCare was passed into law because the president repeatedly assured the country that people would be able to retain their health care plans and physicians. It has since become apparent that this was a deliberate deception and lie. Accordingly, morally speaking, retaining ObamaCare as law is akin to saying that the seller who delivered the bicycle should keep the $5,000 since he succeeded in fooling the buyer into paying the money. The whole darned ObamaCare bill simply shouldn't be -- in religious terms, it could be called sinful.

Returning to Mr. Cruz’s compliment, it is indeed true that the president continues to promote his signature bill despite the fact that doing so is self-destructive. However, this may not be a function of admirable stick-to-itiveness.

Based on the idea advanced herein, the powerful “fuel” energizing these efforts may be that, in essence, ObamaCare is unethical government-sanctioned theft from tens of millions of people. Very possibly, because the bill is so supremely immoral, there is some unseen force driving the president and his people to almost superhuman dedication to keep it afloat.

This moral/religious principle can also serve as a personal guideline in many of life’s other undertakings. When one notices that pursuing a goal with great energy comes easily and almost automatically, it could be a bellwether of an objective that is somehow improper. Conversely, when people have to almost force themselves into undertaking something, it may be the sign of a truly noble endeavor.

To Conservatives this therefore says: Amazingly, the glib Liberal “spend the country into ruination” agenda is extremely popular. Do not be disheartened. This does not necessarily indicate that the Liberals are in the right and the Conservatives in the wrong. If anything, it may be proof of the very opposite.

DB Ganz


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The Double-Edged Sword of Jihad

by Raymond Ibrahim


Islamic nations are again learning that the jihad is a volatile instrument of war that can easily backfire on those who preach it; that “holy war” is hardly limited to fighting and subjugating “infidels”—whether the West in general, Israel in particular, or the millions of non-Muslim minorities under Islam—but can also be used to fight “apostates,” that is, Muslims accused of not being Islamic enough.

In an unprecedented move and following Egypt’s lead, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain recently withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar, largely due to its Al Jazeera propaganda network which, since the ousting of the Muslim Brotherhood, has been inciting chaos in the region.

According to a March 7 Reuters reports, “Saudi Arabia has formally designated the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, in a move that could increase pressure on Qatar whose backing for the group has sparked a row with fellow Gulf monarchies….  Saudi Arabia and the UAE are fuming over Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood, and resent the way Doha has sheltered influential cleric Yusuf Qaradawi, a critic of the Saudi authorities, and given him regular airtime on its pan-Arab satellite channel Al Jazeera.”

Qaradawi, of course, has been an Al Jazeera mainstay for many years, regularly preaching jihad against Israel and other “infidels”—telling millions of Muslim viewers to “obey the prophet, even if he tells you to kill.”

Back then, Qaradawi was not a problem for the Gulf States.

However, since the Egyptian June 30 Revolution saw the ousting and subsequent banning of the Muslim Brotherhood, and ever since the Brotherhood’s supporters—chief among them Qaradawi, through his Al Jazeera program—have been inciting violence in the region, especially in Egypt and Syria, the jihad is spinning out of control; and the Gulf monarchs know that, if not contained and directed, it can easily reach them.

For if jihadis are fighting fellow Muslims in Egypt and Syria—under the accusation that they are not “true” Muslims—what is to stop them from targeting the Gulf monarchies in the same context?

Thus, although the Saudis originally promoted the jihad against the Syrian government—sending and supporting militants, both Saudi and otherwise—in a complete reverse, the Arabian kingdom has just designated several of these jihadi organizations, including the Nusra Front and the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant, as “terrorist” organizations.

This move, according to Reuters, “underscored concern about young Saudis hardened by battle against Assad coming home to target the ruling Al Saud royal family—as has happened after the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

And so history repeats itself.  Back in the 1980s, the Saudis were chief supporters of the jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan and helped create al-Qaeda.  But once the “distant” infidel was subdued, al-Qaeda and its Saudi-born leader Osama bin Laden came home to roost, doing the inevitable: pointing the accusatory finger at the Saudi monarchy for not being Islamic enough, including for its reliance on the great American infidel during the First Gulf War.
This is the problem all Muslim nations and rulers risk: no one—not even Sharia-advocating Islamist leaders—are immune to the all-accusing sword tip of the jihad.  If non-Muslims are, as “infidels,” de facto enemies of Islam, any Muslim can be accused of “apostasy” whenever they break this or that Sharia command, and thus also become enemies of Allah and his prophet.

A saying attributed to the Muslim prophet Muhammad even validates this: “This umma [nation] of mine will split into seventy-three sects; one will be in paradise and seventy-two will be in hell.”  When asked which sect was the true one, the prophet replied, “al-jama‘a,” that is, the group which most literally follows the example or “sunna” of Muhammad, a thing not so simple to do.

Moreover, the first large scale jihads were against apostates—the Ridda [“apostasy”] Wars.  After Muhammad died in 632, many Arab tribes were still willing to remain Muslim, but had second thoughts about paying zakat money to the first caliph, Abu Bakr.  That was enough to declare jihad on them as apostates; tens of thousands of Arabs were burned, beheaded, dismembered, or crucified, according to Islamic history.

Indeed, Qaradawi himself, while discussing the importance of killing any Muslim who apostatizes from Islam on a live Al Jazeera program, correctly declared that “If the penalty for apostasy was ignored, there would not be an Islam today; Islam would have ended on the death of the prophet.”

All this further explains why nations like Saudi Arabia fund and support external jihads—to keep the zealots away from them, busy fighting distant infidels (a “better them than me” mentality).

But now that the Egyptian military ousted the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Jazeera, Qaradawi, and many others are inciting millions of Muslim viewers to wage an increasingly broadening if not reckless jihad in the region—Qaradawi recently went so far as to call on the U.S. to fight against Muslims for the sake of Allah—the Gulf states know they better act now before they are engulfed in chaos.

Accordingly, on March 7, and in the context of recalling their ambassadors from Qatar, the Saudi Interior Ministry issued a statement saying that “those who insult other countries and their leaders” or who “attended conferences or gatherings inside and outside (the country) that aim to target the security and stability and spread sedition in the society,” would be punished—a clear reference to those many voices calling for a grand jihad in the region.

This is the great irony of Islam—one of the many balancing acts Muslim nations and leaders must live with.  As Muslims, they must of course agree to the Islamic duty of jihad against enemies, real or imagined, and help promote it.  In this sense, jihad can be a powerful and useful weapon.  Saudi Arabia, for example, is not only a chief disseminator and supporter of the Salafi ideology most associated with jihad, but was forged in large measure by articulating and calling for holy war in the 19th-20th centuries, including against Turks and fellow Arab tribes (both Muslim).

The Saudi argument was, ironically, the same as the current argument made by the jihadi forces the Saudis are now trying to neutralize—that the Turks and Arab tribes were not “Islamic” enough.

Yet now it is the Muslim Brotherhood and its many allies who are accusing the Saudis of not being Islam enough.

Such is the double-edged sword of jihad.   All Islamic governments, regimes, and kingdoms must always try to direct this potent instrument of war against enemies or neutral targets—preferably ones far away from their borders (Afghanistan, America, etc.)  For they know that the longer the jihad waxes in strength and goes uncontained, the more it becomes like an all-consuming fire indiscriminately scorching all in its path.

Raymond Ibrahim


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Christ at the Checkpoint Conference: Promoting Delegitimization not Reconciliation

by Dan Calic

March 10 – 14 marks the third Christ at the Checkpoint conference, in Bethlehem. Initiated in 2010 this is a gathering of hundreds of Christian leaders from around the world. Much discussion has been raised about the conference with respect to its balance, or shall I say lack thereof. Indeed the very name of the conference suggests that if Jesus were alive today he would be subject to interrogation by Israeli security. It also suggests that he is not a Jew, but a “Palestinian.” While his status remains an issue of debate for many, there is no evidence whatsoever suggesting he is ‘Palestinian.’ This is part of an ongoing effort by the organizers to rewrite history.

In spite of lofty words such as “peace, justice and reconciliation,” used in part to describe their goals, the conference ignores Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorism, and singularly focuses on the “suffering Palestinian people.”

Another effort to rewrite history is their promoting of the “Palestinian Church,” and the “ancient nation of Palestinian people.” Theologians need only look at the Bible they claim to follow to know there is no such “church” or “ancient nation.” The “Palestinians” are Arabs which Yasser Arafat renamed in 1967 as such in order to invent a unique ethnic and cultural heritage.

The conference manifesto contains several points which bear close examination.
For example-

5. "Any exclusive claim to land of the Bible in the name of God is not in line with the teaching of scripture." In other words it’s unacceptable to use the Bible to confirm who the land was given to. What do Christians use as the very foundation of their teachings? The Bible. Yet this conference says it cannot be used when confirming rightful ownership of the land. Why? One has to conclude  they know the Bible confirms God gave the land to the Jews. Thus the Bible becomes an inconvenient truth. In a word this is hypocritical.

9. "For Palestinian Christians the ‘occupation’ is the core issue of the conflict." This statement ignores the actual “core” issue which is two-fold- The refusal of the Arab world to accept Israel’s right to exist, and the need for Israel to protect itself from terror and attempts to destroy it. Indeed, so many terror attacks were launched against innocent Israeli civilians a wall needed to be erected to protect them against continuous attack. Since 1948 over 3,900 civilians have been killed by Arab terrorists. However, instead of recognizing this reality, conference organizers refer to the wall as the “segregation,” or “apartheid wall,” in a blatant attempt to brand Israel as bigoted and racist. An honest statement would reference Israel's need for security.

12. "Christians must understand the global context of the rise of extremist Islam." In other words the Christian organizers and attendees should be empathetic about why fundamental Islam has risen? Fundamental Islam’s goal is to destroy the Jews and the Christians. Why would a conference of “Christians” suggest empathy for such a goal?

Part of the reason is most people, especially outside the region, are unaware many of the Arab Palestinian Christians view Arab Muslims as their ‘brothers’ in the struggle for ‘armed resistance’ against Israel. This suggests their material goals are more important than their faith, which contradicts a fundamental Christian tenet.

 Indeed, one of the conference organizers, and speakers Sami Awad, founder of the Holy Land Trust, has been quoted as saying non-violent demonstrations “are not a substitute for the armed struggle.” Plus, they conveniently ignore the fact that harassment by Arab Muslims is the main cause of the huge population decline of Arab Christians in Bethlehem, Nazareth, etc. They would have you believe it’s Israel’s fault, when it’s a known fact Muslims are persecuting Christians throughout the entire Middle East, and elsewhere.

Another effort to rewrite history took place at the 2012 conference. Only in this case it the victim of rewriting history was the Bible. Jack Sara, President of Bethlehem Bible College, the event’s host revised Ezekiel 37. This is a well know section of the Jewish Bible which refers to the House of Israel.

Here’s what Sara said (p. 43):
“The hand of the Lord was on me and He brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of the West Bank – Bethlehem, Jenin and Salvit and Nablus and Ramallah.**
It was full of bones ... He asked me, ‘Son of Man, can these bones live?  Can the Palestinian people live?**
Then He said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, “Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord”’

**The words in red were added by Sara and are not in the Bible. [Editor: there were no red words in the American Thinker post]

A look at the conference speakers is revealing as well. The organizers say all points of view are included. However, the list of 34 scheduled speakers and their records confirms the glaring imbalance of the conference. 32 of the speakers are known critics of Israel and adherents to replacement theology. If the organizers wish to claim a balance of views, they must also think the moon is made of cheese.

Also a recently released NGO report confirms the governments of the US,UK and Netherlands have donated funds to the conference and Sami Awad’s Holy Land Trust. For the US government to donate funds toward such anti-Israel theological endeavors will only enflame the conflict instead of resolving it.

If the conference organizers truly wish to promote understanding they can begin by naming it something less inciteful, stop disallowing their own Bible when it inconveniences them, and be honest about Israel’s need for security. Maybe then there’s a chance for genuine “peace, justice and reconciliation.”

Dan Calic is a writer, history student and speaker. See additional articles on his Facebook page


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