Friday, March 21, 2014

Younger, Educated and Affluent – The UK's Terror Sympathizers

by IPT News

A British research study of Muslim radicalization is challenging some key conventional wisdom. It identifies "youth, wealth, and being in full-time education" as potential risk factors

Less than 3 percent of the 600 British Muslims surveyed by London's Queen Mary University were sympathetic with terrorism, while another 6 percent "remained neutral."

But those with the highest sympathy were respondents born in the United Kingdom, under age 20 and full time students. In addition, people from high income homes – more than £75,000 a year ($123,000) were more prone to sympathize with political violence. People with mental health problems also were more likely to support terror.

This contradicts an accepted narrative that economic frustration and a lack of education fueled Islamic extremism.

"We were surprised that [the] inequality paradigm seems not to be supported," lead researcher Kamaldeep Bhui told Al-Jazeera. "The study essentially seemed to show that those born in the U.K. consistent with the radicalization paradigm are actually more affluent or well off."

The study does not identify "what factors make potential recruits open to persuasion to join a terrorist movement," said Bhui, a professor of cultural psychiatry and epidemiology. He hopes the survey can be used to identify vulnerable populations and "work to shift them and hopefully reduce" radicalization.

The findings are significant, if only for the strict academic approach taken by Bhui and her team. And it might be refreshing and enlightening to see similar academic pursuit in the United States to help identify risk factors and gateways to radicalization. A 2007 Pew survey found a quarter of Muslim American men under age 30 considered suicide bombings justifiable.

This week alone, young men from California and Michigan were arrested for plotting to join terrorists fighting in Syria's civil war.

But the notion that affluent, well-educated Muslims are potentially more likely to become radicals is a surprise ignores years of anecdotal evidence. Terrorist groups from Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and al-Qaida all are led by men with advanced degrees. Most of the 9/11 hijackers were college educated and middle class – with eight engineers among them – and the worst terrorist attack in the United States since 9/11 was carried out by an Army psychiatrist.

IPT News


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The State Department’s Campaign Against the ‘Jewish State’ Idea—in 1954

by Rafael Medoff

JNS.orgSecretary of State John Kerry’s remark last week that it is a “mistake” to insist that the Palestinian Authority recognize Israel as a Jewish state brings to mind a little-known episode in the early 1950s, when the Eisenhower administration briefly embraced the notion that Israel should stop identifying itself as a Jewish state.

The key figure in this unusual chapter in U.S.-Israel relations was a young U.S. Army officer named Henry A. Byroade, who in 1952 was picked by President Harry Truman to be Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, although he had no Middle East-related experience or education.

According to a previously unpublished interview with Byroade in the files of the Truman Presidential Library, in Missouri, the president summoned Byroade for a discussion in late 1952, shortly before he left office. “I was very critical of both the policies of Israel and our policy towards Israel,” Byroade recalled. “And he outlined his view[s] for me, which really were very surprisingly similar my own. I left there extremely encouraged that we would get White House backing for what I called an even-handed, balanced policy position between both Arabs and Israel.”

Bryoade reasoned that if Truman, who had received considerable Jewish support, was ready to back away from Israel, then his successor Dwight Eisenhower, who had much weaker ties to American Jewry, would be even less supportive of Israel. And he was right.

In April 1953, Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett visited Washington and got a first-hand taste of how Byroade was reshaping U.S. policy. Byroade demanded that Israel make territorial concessions to the Arabs, and threatened Sharett that the Eisenhower administration would present “our own peace plan,” which Israel might not like.

On the same day Byroade met with Sharett, two leaders of the anti-Zionist American Council for Judaism (ACJ) met with President Dwight Eisenhower. The Council had provoked tremendous controversy with its lobbying in the 1940s against creation of a Jewish state. What is not widely realized is that even after Israel was established, the Council continued its activities and, in fact, had even more impact on U.S. policy than previously.

ACJ officials Lessing Rosenwald and George Levison urged the president to consider American Jews a purely religious group with no obligations to Israel. They also denounced the idea of American Jewish immigration to Israel and said the Israelis should become “Middle Eastern” like their neighbors. Levison came away from the meeting convinced that Eisenhower was “in general agreement with our views.”

Afterwards, they visited the State Department and delivered a memorandum making the same points. Assistant Secretary Byroade took the memo with him when he accompanied Secretary of State John Foster Dulles to Israel in May. Parts of the ACJ memo found their way into a landmark Mideast policy speech, ghostwritten by Byroade, that Dulles delivered in June.

Dulles vowed to improve relations with the Arabs, said the U.S. would not become “a backer of expansionist Zionism,” and proposed that Jerusalem be ruled by “the world religious community,” and not be Israel’s capital. Challenging Israel’s identity, Dulles declared that Israel “should become a part of the Near East community and cease to look upon itself… as alien to this community.”

Jewish leaders hoped the speech did not represent a shift in U.S. policy, but those hopes were soon dashed. When the Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Abba Eban met with Dulles in October, the secretary ticked off a lift of demands that Byroade had prepared for him: Israel must “re-examine its policy of encouraging large-scale immigration,” refrain from counter-terror raids, and “bear her share of the Arab refugee burden.”

By the spring of 1954, Byroade was ready to go public. Sixty years ago next month (on April 19, 1954), in an address to the World Affairs Council, in Dayton, he called on Israelis to “look upon yourselves as a Middle Eastern state, rather than as a headquarters… of a world-wide grouping of people of a particular religious faith.” He also demanded that Israel “drop the attitude of the conqueror” and halt what he called “retaliatory killings.”

Then, with the approval of Secretary Dulles, Byroade delivered the keynote address at the ACJ’s annual convention, in Philadelphia on May 1. His public association with the anti-Zionist group appalled Jewish leaders.  And what he said at the conference was even worse.

Byroade repeated his demand that Israel become “a Middle Eastern state.” He targeted Jewish immigration to Israel as a central obstacle to peace, asserting that Israel’s calls for “greatly expanded immigration” convinced the Arabs that it was planning “a future attempt at territorial expansion.”

The Israeli government filed an official protest against the “unjustified interference in matters which are purely Israel’s own concern.” American Zionist leader Emanuel Neumann blasted “Byroadeism” for “negating the hopes and dreams and the religious emotions of countless generations.” In a dramatic demonstration of Israel’s commitment to aliyah, keynote speakers at 19 different government-sponsored Israel Independence Day events throughout Israel the following week focused their remarks on the need for increased immigration.

The Eisenhower administration stood by Byroade and his comments. But the controversial policy he was shaping soon withered in the face of Arab intransigence. As Byroade discovered during his subsequent stint as U.S. ambassador in Cairo, Arab leaders such as Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser could not be appeased by Israeli concessions on immigration, territory, or refugees. Their unflinching refusal to accept Israel’s existence made it impossible for the Byroade line to be maintained as America’s Mideast policy in the years to follow.

Dr. Rafael Medoff is co-author, with Chaim I. Waxman, of the Historical Dictionary of Zionism.


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IDF Northern Command Chief: Situation is Explosive, One Spark Could Ignite Major Confrontation

by Gidon Ben-zvi

Recent clashes between Israeli Defense Force soldiers and terrorist groups operating across the border have created a potentially explosive situation for Israel, GOC Northern Command Major General Yair Golan told the French newspaper Le Figaro on Tuesday.

“The situation has become explosive, with one more spark being able to ignite a confrontation,” Golan said in his interview, cited by Israel’s Walla.

Four IDF soldiers were injured on Tuesday, one severely, by an explosive device detonated in the Golan Heights along the Syrian border. The IDF said in a statement that in response it “retaliated towards Syrian military positions.”

The IDF is concerned about the  growing number of Jihadist terrorist cells from around the world that have established footholds just across the Israeli border with Syria, Golan explained.

“After the Assad regime, Israel will be their next target,” he said.

In response to the escalating tension up north, the Israeli military is building a”smart” security fence, replacing reserve forces with army regulars and enhancing its intelligence gathering capabilities, Golan told Le Figaro.

He explained that while to date “there are only 300 fighters and they have been careful to not attack us directly,” the IDF has already developed a plan of action should the security situation intensify.

Regarding terror group Hezbollah’s role in the recent attacks against Israeli soldiers up north, Golan noted that since the end of the Second Lebanon War in 2006, the Shiite Jihadist terrorist organization has been making concerted efforts to obtain weapons from Iran and Russia via Syria.

“Hezbollah is seeking to bridge the arms gap between it and Israel as well as to increase its deterrent capability,” the IDF general added.

Major General Golan also touched on the issue of Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian civil war, Walla reported. He said at least 5,000 members of the Lebanon-based group, which is funded and guided by Iran, have participated in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s bloody war.

While Hezbollah has lost between 200 and 300 fighters in Syria, Golan asserted that the organization has “gained valuable operational experience.”

Gidon Ben-zvi


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Caroline Glick: Why Obama Will Not Change Gears

by Caroline Glick

US President Barack Obama and Russia's President Vladimir Putin.
Originally published by the Jerusalem Post

Just before Russian President Vladimir Putin orchestrated Russia’s takeover of Crimea, the US’s Broadcasting Board of Governors that controls Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty announced that it will be ending its broadcast to Iraq and the Balkans next year.
And this makes sense. As far as the Obama administration is concerned, Iraq ceased to exist in 2011, when the last US forces got out of the country.

As for the Baltics, well, really who cares about them? Russia, after all, wants the same things America does. Everything will be fine.

As Obama said to Governor Mitt Romney during one of the 2012 presidential debates, “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.”

During the election, Obama was famously caught on an open microphone promising President Putin’s stand-in Dmitry Medvedev that he would have “more flexibility,” on missile defense after the presidential election.

He asked Medvedev to ask Putin to give him “more space” until after November 2012.

With a five-and-half-year record of selling US allies like Poland, the Czech Republic and even the Syrian opposition out to please Putin, it should be obvious that Obama will do nothing effective to show Putin the error of his ways in Ukraine.

Obama doesn’t have a problem with Putin.

And as long as Putin remains anti-American, he will have no reason to be worried about Obama.
Consider Libya. Three years ago this week, NATO forces supported by the US began their campaign to bring down Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

As Patrick Coburn noted in The Independent over the weekend, the same Western forces who insisted that their “responsibility to protect” the Libyan people from a possible massacre by Gaddafi’s forces compelled them to bring down Gaddafi and his regime have had nothing to say today about the ongoing bloodbath in post-Gaddafi Libya.

Libya is disintegrating today. There is no central governing authority.

But Gaddafi, the neutered dictator who quit the terrorism and nuclear-proliferation rackets after the US-led invasion of Iraq, is gone. So no one cares.

Coburn mentioned the recent documentary aired on Al Jazeera – America that upended the West’s narrative that the bombing of Pan Am 103 in 1988 over Lockerbie, Scotland, was the work of the Libyan government. According to a credible Iranian defector, the attack was ordered by Iran and carried out by Palestinian terrorists from Ahmed Jibril’s PFLP-GC.

He wrote, “the documentary emphasizes the sheer number of important politicians and senior officials over the years who must have looked at intelligence reports revealing the truth about Lockerbie, but still happily lied about it.”

If the Al Jazeera documentary is correct, there is good reason for the public in the US, Europe and throughout the world to be angry about the cover-up.

But there is no reason to be surprised.

Since its inception, the Iranian regime has been at war with the US. It has carried out one act of aggression after another. These have run the gamut from the storming of the US Embassy in Tehran and holding hostage US diplomats for 444 days, to the use of Lebanese and Palestinian proxies to murder US officials, citizens and soldiers in countless attacks over the intervening 35 years, to building a military presence in Latin America, to developing nuclear weapons.

And from its earliest days, the same Iranian regime has been courted by one US administration after another seeking to accommodate Tehran.

A similar situation obtains with the Palestinians. Like the Iranians, the PLO has carried out countless acts of terrorism that have killed US officials and citizens.

From the 1970 Fatah execution of the US ambassador and deputy chief of mission in Khartoum to the 2003 bombing of the US embassy convoy in Gaza, the PLO has never abandoned terrorism against the US.

No less importantly, the PLO is the architect of modern terrorism. From airline hijackings, to the massacre of schoolchildren, from bus bombings to the destabilization of nation states, the PLO is the original author of much of the mayhem and global terrorism the US has led the fight against since the 1980s.

And of course, the PLO’s main stated goal is the destruction of Israel, the US’s only dependable ally, and the only liberal democracy in the Middle East.

Yet, as has been the case with the Iranian regime, successive US administrations have courted, protected and upheld the PLO as moderate, reformed or almost reformed militants.

In many ways, then the Obama administration is simply a loyal successor of previous administrations. But in one essential way, it is also different.

IN A 2006 op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, civil rights historian Shelby Steele argued that the reason the US has lost every war it has fought since World War II despite the fact that it has had the military might to vanquish all of its enemies is “white guilt.”

White guilt, he argued, makes its sufferers in the West believe that they lack the moral authority to act due to the stigma of white supremacy and imperialism.

Writing of the then raging insurgency in Iraq, Steele explained, “When America – the greatest embodiment of Western power – goes to war in Third World Iraq, it must also labor to dissociate that action from the great Western sin of imperialism. Thus in Iraq we are in two wars, one against an insurgency and the other against the past – two fronts, two victories to win, one military, the other a victory of dissociation.”

This neurotic view of America’s moral underpinning is what explains the instinctive American tendency to strike out at those who do not oppose the West – like Gaddafi’s regime in Libya and Hosni Mubarak’s regime in Egypt – while giving a pass to those who do – like the Palestinians and the Iranians.

But whereas white guilt has afflicted the US leadership for the past several generations, past administrations were willing to set it aside when necessary to advance US national security interests.

This cannot happen with Obama.

Obama owes his presidency to white guilt. His promise to American voters was that by voting for him, they would expiate their guilt for the sins of European imperialists and southern racists.

It was the American desire to move beyond the past that enabled a first-term senator with radical connections and the most liberal voting record in the Senate to get elected to the presidency.

But tragically for the US and the free world, Obama’s worldview is informed not by an appreciation for what Steele extolled as America’s “moral transformation,” on issue of race. Rather it is informed by his conviction that the US deserves its guilt.

Obama does not share Bill Clinton’s view that the US is “the indispensable nation,” although he invoked the term on the campaign trail in 2012.

From his behavior toward foe and friend alike, Obama gives the impression that he does not believe the US has the right to stand up for its interests.

Moreover, his actions from Israel to Eastern Europe to Egypt and Libya indicate that he believes there is something wrong with nations that support and believe in the US.

Their pro-Americanism apparently makes them guilty of white guilt by association.

So Iran, the Palestinians and Russia needn’t worry. Obama will not learn from his mistakes, because as far as he is concerned, he hasn’t made any.

Caroline Glick


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Kerry’s Diplomatic Double Standards

by Michael Rubin

So, Secretary of State John Kerry is deeply upset and insulted that Israel’s defense minister, Moshe Yaalon, criticized U.S. strategy and suggested that the United States is exuding weakness. One would think the former senator from Massachusetts would have a thicker skin, and might also consider if there was something to Yaalon’s remarks, however undiplomatic they might have been. Never mind, however. What is truly revealing is how Kerry acts in other circumstances when officials from other countries make similar statements castigating U.S. policy.

Here, for example, is Hossein Salami, the deputy commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, speaking earlier this month: “America no longer creates events in the region; rather it is the Muslims who create events and the Americans are forced to be another actor in decline, although not a dominant player. Meanwhile, the Americans have lost operational power against Syria today and this is a great proof for Muslims.” Kerry’s reaction? Crickets. Obama’s reaction? Nada. And, lest this be seen as an exception rather than the rule, here is an excerpt (and my analysis) of a statement from Tehran that went even further last month. And where is Kerry every time Iranian leaders encourage chants of “Death to America” after Friday prayers in central Tehran?

The Obama administration’s heightened sensitivity to criticism doesn’t apply to the Palestinian Authority either. Kerry remains silent when his much-heralded partner in peace talks not only rejects American positions but also lionizes terrorists and murderers, hardly an attitude that advances U.S. interests in the region.

Bashing allies isn’t going to bring respect back to the United States on the world stage, nor is forcing allies to genuflect. Diplomatic temper tantrums aren’t going to imbue Kerry with an aura of competence that his policies and actions haven’t managed to achieve. Sometimes, tough words from friends are necessary, even with the moral inversion that currently underpins Obama and Kerry’s words and actions.

Michael Rubin


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Israel’s Peace Partners Celebrate Murder of 12 Israeli Children

by Daniel Greenfield

peace abbas

According to Obama, Palestinian Authority leader Abbas “has consistently renounced violence”. Somewhat more consistently than that, Abbas’ government and political movement annually celebrate the murder of 12 Israeli children.
The dead included a 2-year-old girl, five year olds and six year olds. They also included Mathilda Askenazy-Daniel, a 68-year-old woman who died in the hospital after being burned over 90 percent of her body.
The coastal massacre began with the murder of an American photographer, Gail Rubin. One of the youngest victims was Ilan Hochman, a 3-year-old boy, seen above.
Ilan died along with his older brother, 6-year-old Roi and his mother, Rebecca Hochman. Their father lost his legs trying to stop the terrorists on the bus.
Abbas appointed Hussein Fayyad, one of the commanders of the terror group that carried out the 1978 Coastal Road massacre, as his adviser.
In keeping with their annual tradition, Fatah and the PA celebrated the anniversary of the most lethal terror attack against Israel. On Facebook, Fatah celebrated the anniversary of the massacre with several posts, referring to the terrorists as “stars” and “heroes”:
At an event, Fatah’s spokesman Ahmad Assaf praised terrorist Dalal Mughrabi as “an extraordinary example of struggle, whose headline is bravery, heroism, sacrifice and courage” and who “inspired her generation and the next generations.”
Mahmoud Abbas’ advisor on NGOs Sultan Abu Al-Einein said at another event, “Yes, March is honored by this Palestinian blood… They [Israelis] are deluding themselves if they think the negotiations are our only choice. Let the young people hear me: Allah, honor us with Martyrdom (Shahada). Allah, give us the honor of being part of the procession of Martyrs.”
The violence has clearly been renounced.

Daniel Greenfield


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Setting up Israel

by E. Jeffrey Ludwig

In a recent article, Jonathan Tobin stated, “If the president were genuinely interested in pursuing peace he would be hammering the Palestinians for their behavior and making it clear they would pay a high price for saying no to Kerry’s framework. Instead, he has given Abbas carte blanche to maintain the same obdurate stance he has taken since he took over the PA from his longtime boss Arafat….. All Obama is doing is setting up Israel to take the fall for a fourth Palestinian ‘no’ to peace.”

An informed reader can see the point Tobin is making.  Abbas is spoken to and spoken about by Obama and Kerry as though he has good intentions towards peace despite his continuous unwavering objections and lack of giving back to Israel in negotiations.  Obama will never rebuke him nor threaten him as he has done many times with Israel.  He and Kerry cajole and coddle Abbas as though he were a sometimes recalcitrant but basically well-meaning player in the peace game.  However, with Israel, despite all its compromises, our government uses a different rhetoric that publicly reprimands Israe lfor being hard-nosed and uncompromising, and even threatens her with a third Intifada.  Given these scripted scenarios, it is clear that indeed Israel is intended as the “fall guy” in the likelihood of failed negotiations.

At the same time, looking at an incredible cluster of Obama foreign policy failures (how far and how long can he boast about taking out Osama?) this attempt to "blame Israel" for any "failure" may backfire. Will Israel be blamed if the so-called two-state solution is not achieved? Or will Obama be blamed as perpetrating another foreign policy blunder?  It seems more likely that Obama himself will look like the hind parts of a horse. Libya, having been bombed illegally with no declaration by Congress, followed by Qaddafi's removal,  is showing no democratic trends despite claims that the bombing was intended to instate democracy in that country.  Further, the Benghazi incident, with the first murdered American ambassador in decades, is a disgusting event that commands revulsion by every patriotic and right thinking American. No one has been arrested or tried in connection with the Benghazi murders.

Egypt was a place where we backed the wrong horse. Obama tried to force Sharia law and murderous tyranny on the Egyptian people by so-called legitimate democratic means, but thankfully, he was thwarted.  Syria's civil war has not improved one iota, and the chemical weapons problem has not been solved. Guantanamo Bay is still open, but the perpetrators of 9/11 still haven't been brought to justice. Africa is mired in civil war, starvation, and life-threatening diseases, and little has been done by the USA.  The Castro brothers are still in charge in Cuba, and their Communist associates are still breezing along in Venezuela despite that country's wrecked economy. China continues to make aggressive moves against Taiwan and the Philippines, and North Korea is increasing its stockpile of nuclear missiles. Our military is being downsized to pre-WWII levels, and our standing armies gutted.  We have 450,000 soldiers, Russia has 950,000, and China over 2,000,000 [paid for with the interest alone of our debt to China]. Japan, seeing the weakness of the U.S., is now beginning to take steps to remilitarize.  Our nuclear arsenal is now below that of Russia based on an arms limitation signed during Obama's first term (when it was fashionable for the administration to talk about a 'reset' with Russia as part of a new post-cold war strategy).  Georgia and now the Crimea have been co-opted by the gangsters of Russia.

And what about the foreign policy biggies, Iraq and Afghanistan?  More of our service men and women have been killed and wounded in Afghanustan since Obama became president than in all prior years of our engagement. A civil war is clearly emerging in Iraq, and right now that country has become a vassal state of Iran. Afghanistan was declared to have surrendered under Bush, but we continue to be there under Obama. Kabul is held by the Karzai government, but the rest of the country still belongs to those warlords who supposedly live in caves. What we are doing there, and where we are going with that project has, incredibly, become even more murky under Obama than it was under Bush (pretty murky then too). 

After supposedly defeating the Taliban -- who were condemned by us for harboring Osama and Al-Qaeda – the Karzai government we installed is now talking about negotiating with that selfsame Taliban. The nation-building component is clearly unsuccessful.  The net result is that oil from Iraq may be raised in price, and America will suffer at the very hands of a country we supposedly saved from despotism under Saddam.  President Obama is not offering a shred of clarity or leadership in these embroilments. The public is left to stew in disgust and to wonder about the future while, at the same time, the war wounded and war dead pile up. 

In short, if Obama fails in getting a reconciliation between the Palestinian Arabs and Israel, it will not be surprising.  He is bringing nothing to the table not tried by this three immediate predecessors in office, except an arrogance that puts the "N" in narcissism.  An attempt to set up Israel to be blamed in case present negotiations collapse may in fact be administration policy. However, since foreign policy failure is the keynote of the Obama presidency, it is likely that world leaders and the American people will conclude that a collapsed talk between the P.A. and the Israeli government is simply another in a string of egregious U.S. mistakes.

E. Jeffrey Ludwig is a Harvard Master Teacher who has taught at Harvard, Penn State, Juniata College, and various secondary schools.


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What's Happening to the Internet?

by Shoshana Bryen

It sounds like something you don't want to know too much about.  When you type an address into your computer's browser, you go to that address. How your computer knows where to find the Google image of kittens and puppies isn't your problem, is it?

Well, it might be.  Not kittens, perhaps, but what if you want to find the Israeli Ministry of Tourism or the American Constitution?

DNS and ICANN are acronyms you should know. DNS is the Internet domain name system -- a single list that gets you to the server that runs the program you're looking for. ICANN is the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which manages DNS under a contract with the U.S. Department of Commerce. If it sounds like an American monopoly, it is -- for now, but not much longer.

Although the Internet is an American invention -- by the Pentagon -- ICANN has an international board of “stakeholders,” including foreign governments, civil society activists and corporations.  They have long wanted control and they are about to get it. The U.S. has agreed to give up exclusive control of ICANN to an international governing system yet to be developed. However the system emerges, what is clear is that the Commerce Department will no longer manage the list. Russia and China have argued for individual countries to manage the DNS -- which would enable them to decide which organizations, companies, or individuals could have a domain name; and when to remove access to a domain name. Others have argued for a UN body to take over -- with all the political machinations one would expect, including discrimination against Israel and the United States.
Business Week explains:
That is the advantage of the current... single-domain-name system. No country (other than the U.S.) gets to decide what idea deserves a Web address, and while U.S. policies and practices in other cyber realms have been less than stellar, it has been an outstanding protector of free speech on the Internet. Power can exist even when it isn’t exercised or even visible. The Commerce Department has ensured the growth of a lively, commercial, obstreperous Internet in the same way the European Union thrived, in part, under the protective umbrella of all those American tanks waiting to roll into the Fulda Gap.
It is true that American government spying has reached a level that offends a great many people, including a great many Americans, but at a minimum we can and do have a history of constitutional protections to redress government excesses and misguided policies, and to protect our privacy.  Edward Snowden, NSA, breaches of personal data by Target and other commercial entities, and concerns by technology security professionals about the ObamaCare website appear to have ignited precisely such a debate.

Elsewhere, on the other hand, more governments are interested in limiting the Internet than are interested in allowing the promotion of ideas they -- the governments -- find offensive or dangerous.  Russia might want to “lose” the Ukrainian domain name; China might do the same to “” (yes, we made that up); and how many would block Israeli addresses? What if Greece's Golden Dawn Party applied for “”? There is also Venezuela and its ALBA allies Cuba, Nicaragua, and Ecuador; Brazil, where President Dilma Roussef has made her mark criticizing American spying; Iran; and Muslim-Brotherhood-supporting Qatar and Turkey (which also has a serious problem with domestic discord).  There are countries that want to be able to "protect" their citizens from ideas/people/political associations that are anathema. Saudi Arabia just banned 51 baby names  "offensive to Saudi culture." Included are Alice, Linda, Eleanor, Benyamin, and Arabic names that have a royal and/or religious connotation, or otherwise offend Saudi government sensibilities. What might Egypt ban?

All and more are candidates for joining a bloc wanting to limit the spread of American ideas. All have reason to support a bloc that ensures no American dominance of international avenues of communication, and all would support restrictions on non-government-controlled avenues. The whole notion of free speech and free access to information is at risk, just as people in many parts of the world were getting used to it.

And if we're considering the West as our ally in this, even Germany, supported politically by other Western European countries because of NSA spying, will be tempted.  Australia's communications minister Malcolm Turnbull, had very mixed views. He applauded the decision, calling it, “A momentous day in the history of the Internet,” and said American involvement was “central, but increasingly symbolic.”  America, he added, “has aroused more and more controversy and from some quarters animosity” as stakeholders wonder, “How could the Internet belong to the world and yet at its very heart be overseen by a contract with the U.S. Government?” Yet even Turnbull worried that the new system “must be one which supports and enhances the multi-stakeholder model and in particular must not involve the replacement of the U.S. Government with a government-led or inter-governmental organization, like the UN.”

OK, so it can't be America, it just has to function like America.  Spoken like a liberal. The fact that the U.S. has stopped insisting on American control of DNS and ICANN is yet another indication that President Obama is willing to trust the “international community” to do the right things. Good luck to the president and to Mr. Turnbull. In the real world, the U.S. is the bogeyman and Israel is its adjunct.

Nothing is likely to happen to Internet governance for another year or so, until the new system and its regulations are developed. But absent the emergence of a large, international group of free speech advocates, it is coming. Your Google kittens and puppies may be safe, but the free exchange of ideas, including ideas -- and countries -- deemed “offensive,” “dangerous,” or “unacceptable” is one step closer to regulation by countries that find an extraordinary number of ideas and countries offensive, dangerous, and unacceptable.

Shoshana Bryen


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Islamist Terror Challenge Continues in Britain

by Irfan Al-Alawi

Moderate, traditional, spiritual and even conservative British Muslims should hearken to London Mayor Boris Johnson's message and support effective measures to curb the spread of extremist ideology among their vulnerable offspring. Not only are these practices morally abhorrent, and deserve better than the complicity of silence, but in addition, the survival of Islam as a normal component of the religious spectrum in the UK is at stake.

As Britain continues to wrestle with the challenge of radical Islam and its product, terrorism, on March 2, 2014, London Mayor Boris Johnson contributed a column to one of Britain's leading journals, The Sunday Telegraph, "The children taught at home about murder and bombings."

Johnson's commentary correctly placed radical Islamist ideology in the same category with pedophilia and female genital mutilation (FGM) as moral abominations with which the British political class has failed adequately to contend, and continued, "I worry that their work is being hampered by what I am obliged to call political correctness. ... There is built in to the British system a reluctance to be judgmental about someone else's culture, even if that reluctance places children at risk" – a decision, Johnson said, that led to abusers being "emboldened." Johnson continued:

We have thousands of victims [of FGM] in Britain, thousands of girls being cut every year, and yet we have managed not a single prosecution -- let alone a conviction. Again, there is that fatal squeamishness about intervening in the behavior of a 'protected group'. ... We need to be stronger and clearer in asserting our understanding of British values. That is nowhere more apparent [than] in the daily job of those who protect us all from terror -- and who are engaged in tackling the spread of extremist and radical Islam.
We are familiar by now with the threat posed by the preachers of hate, the extremist clerics who can sow the seeds of madness in the minds of impressionable young people. We are watching like hawks to see who comes back from Syria and the ideas they have picked up.

The horrific bloodshed in Syria has indeed attracted terror recruits from British and other Muslim communities, and Johnson's warning was timely. On the same day he published his column in The Sunday Telegraph -- March 2 -- one of that paper's more "progressive" competitors, The Observer, which is the weekend edition of The Guardian, reported that Moazzem Begg, 45, a resident of Birmingham, in the British Midlands, interned for almost three years as a terrorist suspect in the US base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was ordered held in custody for terrorism-related offences involving Syria.

Begg's arrest had been revealed by The Daily Telegraph on February 25.

CNN International stated on March 3, 2014, that Begg was "accused of providing instruction and training for terrorism and funding terrorism overseas," as disclosed by West Midlands Police. Begg is due to return to court on March 14, The Observer said.

Former Guantanamo detainee Moazzam Begg was recently arrested on suspicion of Syria-related terrorism offences. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

The Observer had noted that a female Birmingham resident, Gerrie Tahari, 44, was also in custody after she was similarly charged with facilitating terrorism overseas, and that two more men, aged 20 and 36, were arrested at the same time in Birmingham and held by the authorities. The original February 25 Telegraph account of the case described the 20-year old as Tahari's son.

Mayor Johnson warned of "reluctance by the social services to intervene.... A child may be taken into care if he or she is being exposed to pornography, or is being abused -- but not if the child is being habituated to this utterly bleak and nihilistic [radical Muslim] view of the world that could lead them to become murderers…"

As Johnson wrote, "Pedophilia, FGM, Islamic radicalization -- to some extent, at some stage, we have tiptoed round them all for fear of offending this or that minority. It is children who have suffered. ... The law should obviously treat radicalization as a form of child abuse."

Moderate, traditional, spiritual, and even conservative British Muslims should hearken to Johnson's message and support effective measures to curb the spread of extremist ideology among their vulnerable offspring. Not only are these practices morally abhorrent, and deserve more than the complicity of silence, but in addition, the survival of Islam as a normal component of the religious spectrum in the UK is at stake.

Irfan Al-Alawi


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IDF Chief: Those who act against us will Feel our Response

by Yoav Limor

The Israeli airstrikes in Quneitra on Wednesday morning told us that Israel has reached a conclusion: Syria is responsible for the recent explosive devices laid on the Israel-Syria border fence in the Golan Heights, including Monday's explosion which wounded four paratroopers.

In Israel, it is believed that Syria's decision to open a new front on the Israeli border was a response to the multiple strikes which took place in Syria, intended to thwart the transfer of advanced weaponry to Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah. It is unclear whether Hezbollah took part in terrorist activity, but the Syrian regime's fingerprints are clear and unequivocal, among them the Syrian army (Brigade 90, which operates in the region), its military security apparatus near the border and the Syrian homeland defense force. Israeli jets struck targets belonging to those three groups on Wednesday.

From the information gathered, Israel believes terrorist groups employed by embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime are responsible for the attacks. As proof, the defense establishment has pointed out that all of the attacks were carried out in regions under Syrian military control, while areas under rebel control have not seen terrorist activity pointed at Israel.

Wednesday morning's strike -- the first time Israel admitted to carrying out an airstrike in Syria since bombing terrorist camps in Ain es Saheb in 2003 -- was meant to change the rules of the game with Syria. Israel in effect told Syria it would not tolerate a change of the dynamic on the border, or any increase in attacks on IDF troops.

As of Wednesday night, it remained to be seen whether Damascus would change its policy, or whether the Israeli action would draw a Syrian response. Senior officials in Israel stated that Israel will maintain that any violation of its sovereignty will be met with a response, and that it will not allow future attempts to transfer advanced weaponry to Lebanon go silently.

On the backdrop of the instability in Syria and the Assad regime's increased commitment to Hezbollah and Iran for their support, the IDF's level of response demonstrated on Wednesday might be put to the test again in the near future.

Yoav Limor


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Thursday, March 20, 2014

IAF Strikes Syria after Bomb Wounds 4 Soldiers on Border

by Lilach Shoval, Daniel Siryoti, Shlomo Cesana, Gadi Golan, News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff

One soldier seriously wounded, three others receive light-to-moderate injuries when roadside bomb explodes near IDF patrol on border with Syria in the Golan Heights • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: We strike those who strike us.                      
One of the wounded soldiers arriving at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa
Photo credit: Herzl Shapira


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