Saturday, April 5, 2014

A Chance to Move On

by Caroline Glick


On Monday, former prime minister Ehud Olmert’s career ended.

Earlier this month, former IDF chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. (ret.) Gabi Ashkenazi’s career ended.

And on Tuesday, the phony peace process ended.

In the lead-up to last year’s elections, the media and key political figures were yearning for Olmert’s return to politics.

In July 2008, Olmert was forced to cede leadership of the Kadima party, and so opt out of running for reelection, when then-attorney-general Menahem Mazuz announced he was indicting the premier on corruption charges.

Olmert left office in March 2009 when his government was replaced by Binyamin Netanyahu’s coalition government.

The public abandoned its support for Olmert in the summer of 2006 as a result of his incompetent leadership of the Second Lebanon War. By the end of the summer, Olmert’s approval rating stood at 3 percent. But with the able assistance of the media, and of Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman who saved Olmert’s government by joining it, Olmert was able to weather the storm and keep going despite the public’s lack of faith in his leadership and ardent desire to force him from office.

The media’s romance with Olmert began formally in late 2003, when he followed then-premier Ariel Sharon from the center-right to the far Left. Indeed, as Sharon abandoned his pledges to voters and adopted the platform of the defeated Labor Party of unilaterally withdrawing from Gaza, Olmert outflanked him from the Left.

Always a political pugilist, Olmert was eager to attack everyone who opposed Sharon’s withdrawal plan. He had no qualms about using rank demonization to attack his former political allies in the Likud.

It was Olmert’s newfound devotion to the platform of the far Left that won him the support of media heavies like Yediot Aharonot’s Nahum Barnea, Ma’ariv’s Ben Caspit and Channel 2’s Amnon Abramovich. They were more than happy to attack as delusional independent investigative reporter Yoav Yitzhak who broke nearly every corruption story regarding Olmert, beginning in 2005.
After four years of desultory, at best, probes between 2009 and 2012, Olmert was indicted in four separate cases on corruption charges. After he was acquitted of most of the charges in his first two trials, his media allies began a campaign to return him to politics. Only Olmert, they said, had a chance to defeat Netanyahu. None of the other leftist party heads had a shot.

But alas, Olmert was otherwise engaged, in his criminal defense. And now that he is a convicted felon, Olmert will never be able to return to politics.

Even his media friends have to cut their losses and find a new leader.

Several years ago, they were certain that they had their man. Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi was promoted to the helm of the IDF following his predecessor Dan Halutz’s forced resignation due to his incompetent leadership of the army in the Second Lebanon War.

Ashkenazi was everything the media and the Left love in a leader. He was a general. He was handsome. And he was going to save the IDF from its demoralization. He was going to introduce new training regimens and operational procedures to ensure that the next time the IDF went to war, its victory would be inarguable.

Oh, and he was a leftist. Which meant that even if he failed, no one would ever find out.
And indeed, Ashkenazi’s leadership of the IDF during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009 was a failure. As one senior commander put it shortly after the operation ended, “Gabi Ashkenazi marched the army into Gaza, and marched it out again, leaving Hamas in charge and Gilad Schalit behind.”

Officers who wished to take a more constructive approach to fighting, like OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant and Gaza Division commander Brig.-Gen. Moshe Tamir, were immediately placed on Ashkenazi’s enemies list.

Allegations of wrongdoing against Ashkenazi first surfaced three-and-a-half years ago. In August 2010, Abramovich exposed a document on Channel 2 which purported to show that Galant was waging a negative campaign against Ashkenazi and then-Maj.-Gen. Benny Gantz to replace Ashkenazi as chief of the General Staff.

Within a week the document was shown to be a forgery. It was concocted by an associate of Ashkenazi’s named Boaz Harpaz. It was leaked to Channel 2 by a senior Defense Ministry official, Gabi Shimoni, a close friend of Ashkenazi.

Rather than pursue the story, which stank to high heaven, the media ignored it. Attorney- General Yehuda Weinstein refused to order the police to investigate it. And to the extent that the police had information that indicated illegal behavior by Ashkenazi’s associates beyond the leak and the forgery specifically, they were ordered not to pursue them.

The only reason that the story of the forged document didn’t disappear is because state comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss investigated it, and Channel 1’s Ayala Hasson pursued it. And due to their efforts, the police were shamed into investigating.

Now it is apparent that the story of the forged document was part of a much larger abuse of power by Ashkenazi and his loyal foot soldiers.

Earlier this month, Ashkenazi’s closest aides Col. (res.) Erez Winer and former IDF spokesman Brig.-Gen. (res.) Avi Benayahu were arrested in connection to rising allegations of mass abuse of power. Since then, a parade of Ashkenazi’s close associates including current Deputy Chief of General Staff Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkott and deputy director-general of the Defense Ministry Betzalel Tribor have been called in for questioning.

The widening probe paints a revolting picture of a mass abuse of power by Ashkenazi, facilitated by senior IDF officers and officials at the Defense Ministry and then covered up by senior officials at the Justice Ministry and the police, with the active collusion of the media.

Ashkenazi, it appears, was positioning himself to become the next prime minister. To this end, he allegedly decided to end the careers of IDF officers who criticized his leadership. And far more egregiously, he actively undermined then-defense minister Ehud Barak, and subverted Barak’s authority and that of the elected government in a bid to force Netanyahu and Barak to toe his timid line on Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

Although the police probe is only at its early stages, and it is far too early to know who if anyone will be indicted for what, as a result of the investigation Ashkenazi’s political aspirations have been destroyed. More important, the permanent bureaucracy, which enabled Ashkenazi to run roughshod over democratic norms in his quest to position himself as the prime minister in waiting, has been weakened.

Ashkenazi’s foot soldiers are all in trouble. And their troubles will likely deter other officers and senior officials from abusing their power in similar ways in the future.

Each new revelation of wrongdoing in the ongoing probe also discredits Ashkenazi’s protectors in the permanent law enforcement bureaucracy.

Olmert’s fall and Ashkenazi’s fall coincide with the implosion of the so-called peace process. For the past generation, allegiance to the phony peace process with the PLO has been the glue that has held the Left together. No matter how opposed to concessions the public became, the leftist establishment maintained its faith and total commitment to continued appeasement of the PLO. In large part they did so because allegiance to the peace process earned them the support and legitimization of the US.

In the absence of any capacity to win the public’s support for continued concessions to the PLO, the Left has used its close ties to the US as a shield from criticism and as valuable leverage against the government. Only the Left, it was said, could protect Israel’s alliance with the US.

Back in January, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon let the truth be known about the nature of Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace process.

In private remarks reported by Yediot, Ya’alon said, “There are no actual negotiations with the Palestinians. The Americans are holding negotiations with us and in parallel with the Palestinians.

So far, we are the only side to have given anything – the release of murderers – and the Palestinians have given nothing.”

This week, Kerry proved that Ya’alon’s statement was a gross understatement. The US is not acting as a go-between between the sides. It is acting as the PLO’s proxy.

By offering Israel to trade imprisoned Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard for Palestinian terrorist murderers, Kerry transformed the US from the leader in the war against terrorism, into the champion of terrorists. Moreover, he indicated that he views Pollard as a hostage that the US is free to use to extort concessions to terrorists from Israel.

As a result of Kerry’s scandalous behavior, the US media, which for 20 years have enthusiastically supported every US effort to force Israel to make concessions to the PLO, lost their stomach for the show. Everyone from The New York Times to The Washington Post to The Wall Street Journal and network news attacked Kerry for his actions.

To a degree, the US media’s castigation of Kerry was unfair. He only followed the two-state model to its logical conclusion. Since the Palestinians refuse to abandon their goal of destroying Israel, they will never agree to a peace deal with Israel that will require them to live at peace with the Jewish state. As a result, they will never make any concessions to Israel.

The only way to keep this fraudulent negotiating process going is for the US to both coerce Israel into making more and more one-sided concessions to the PLO, such as freeing terrorist murderers form prison, and providing Israel with US payoffs to make the government continue to abide by a fiction. In other words, Kerry had no option other than to offer up Pollard as a hostage to be swapped in exchange for freedom to Palestinian terrorists.

Transforming the US into the proxy of a terrorist organization was just the beginning of Kerry’s failure.

His desperate behavior showed PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas that there are no depths Kerry will not plumb to prolong the fictional peace process.

And so on Tuesday, in an open act of contempt for Kerry, Abbas applied for membership in international bodies, in breach of the foundational requirement of the peace process: that a Palestinian state only be formed as a consequence of a peace agreement with Israel to prevent such a state from gaining independence while in a state of war with Israel.

Until now, it was US pressure on Israel for concessions to the Palestinians that kept the Israeli Left going. Now, without any leadership, with its power base in the permanent bureaucracy weakened, and the US role as mediator wholly discredited not only among the Israeli public, but in the US media, the Left has nothing to latch on to.

If the government uses the opportunity to abandon the two-state paradigm, it stands its best chance in 20 years of succeeding.

Caroline Glick


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

Morell Hurt CIA’s Reputation in Benghazi Hearing

by Fred Fleitz

Republican Senators John McCain, Lindey Graham, and Kelly Ayotte put it best yesterday in a joint statement they issued in response to former CIA Acting Director Michael Morell’s testimony yesterday to the House Intelligence Committee:

“This looks an awful lot like misleading the Congress.”

It’s hard to come to any other conclusion after watching Morell squirm for three hours as he explained CIA’s drafting of talking points a week after the attacks on the U.S. consulate and CIA annex in Benghazi.  The final version of these talking points were used by Ambassador Susan Rice on September 16, 2012 to deny that the attacks were related to terrorism and to instead claim they were the result of a spontaneous demonstration in response to an anti-Muslim video.

This explanation was politically convenient six weeks ahead of the 2012 presidential election and helped President Obama defend his dubious campaign theme that because of his leadership, Osama bin Laden was dead and al Qaeda was on the run.

During the hearing, Morell denied altering the talking points for political reasons.  He said he sided with CIA analysts who believed the attacks were in response to a demonstration and the anti-Muslim video even though the CIA Libya station chief told him there was no demonstration and that he believed the attacks were an act of terrorism.

Morell tried to convey that relying on career CIA analysts – even though they were thousands of miles away from the Benghazi attack – was a responsible decision that had nothing to do with politics.

This is nonsense.  Having worked as a CIA analyst for 19 years, I can attest that the lower levels of the CIA analysis bureaucracy know exactly what their managers want.  They know the line they need to take to get promoted and to earn bonuses.  Moreover, the analysis side of the house is well known for its liberal political bias and for being gun-shy in drawing politically controversial conclusions since the 9/11 and Iraq WMD intelligence failures.

Maybe Morell didn’t alter the talking points for the White House because he didn’t have to – his analysts and managers knew what he and the White House expected.  Regardless of who was responsible for drafting and altering the talking points, we now know Morell approved them even though he knew the senior CIA officer in Libya had a very different view.  He also knew the memo he approved said exactly what the White House wanted to hear.

Morell made many other head-spinning statements, such as his claim that we can’t know the motivations of the attackers since we haven’t caught them yet.  He said the events on September 11, 2012 were both a terrorist attack and a protest.

Morell also said he took out the word “Islamic” in a sentence that described the attackers as “Islamic extremists” because he did not want to fuel anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world.  This was a policy call and was politically convenient for the White House which has been extremely reluctant to use the terms “Islamic” or Islamist” in describing terrorists or terrorist attacks.

This was a bad day for the CIA since Morell’s testimony will further undermine the Agency’s reputation as a non-political and objective source of information on national security matters.  Morell was right when he said the CIA probably should not have been involved in drafting unclassified talking points.  If there was a compelling reason for the CIA to engage in such a task, CIA managers had a responsibility to be politically neutral and not ignore inconvenient facts like reports by the Libya Chief of Station.

Fred Fleitz


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

The Crimea Crisis -- Cui Bono?

by Sergey Maidukov

It seems nobody is able to workout the real cost of Crimea, an obscure piece of land about the size of Sicily. The annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula in the Black Sea appears to have little to do with political or economic logic at all.

To understand it, we have to remember the acute Roman question: cui bono? These two short Latin words are rendered “to what purpose?” Their true meaning, nevertheless, is “for whose advantage?”

That's all Gas

On his arrival back from a trip to Ukraine, the Senator John McCain told "State of the Union" host Candy Crowley that Russia “is a gas station masquerading as a country.”

In that case it is the largest gas station in the world, covering more than one-eighth of the Earth’s inhabited land area. And it requires constant replenishment of oil and gas reserves. Where do they come from?

Before Ukraine’s government was overthrown, energy companies like Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Repsol, and Shell were on the verge of signing a deal with now-fugitive President Viktor Yanukovych to develop the offshore deposits of the Black Sea. Trans Euro Energy has even found enormous gas reserves under the Crimean mainland. These regions lie on the seabed within 200 nautical miles of the Crimean shoreline and are said to contain 45 trillion cubic meters of gas.

Until recently, that was part of the exclusive economic zone of Ukraine. But times have changed and these resources are no longer Ukrainian. The speaker of Crimea’s parliament, Vladimir Konstantinov, told the RIA news agency. “These are our oilfields and we will fight for them.” 

With a little help of the Russia’s gas giant Gazprom, his secret protector, Mr. Putin, would add. He won this bloodless little war. Despite that the total cost for his Crimean adventure could end up being more than hundreds of billions of dollars.

Does this mean that Ukraine lost? Not quite.

Removal of the Crimean Appendix

As poor as Iraq and as corrupt as Iran, Ukraine never seemed like the country where history is written. Until recently, all that the world knew of the country were a few vague and unrelated fragments of knowledge -- the deadly famine under Stalin, the monstrous massacre in Babi Yar under Hitler, the Chernobyl nuclear disaster under the last Communist government. The names of present Ukrainian leaders -- Yuschenko, Yanukovych, Yatsenyuk -- were simply jawbreakers no one from outside could pronounce without making a wry face.

Then, in the space of a few months, everything changed. All eyes are focused on Ukraine, which has paid a high price for its freedom from corruption and Kremlin control.

The U.S., Europe, and the U.K.claim they are glad to lend a hand to the victimized country. “We are here ready to help just as soon as there is someone at the end of the telephone,” Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said in an interview in Sydney. “We should be there with a checkbook to help the people of Ukraine rebuild their country.”

The International Monetary Fund recently announced an agreement to provide up to $18 billion in loans over two years to prevent the Ukraine’s default. Another package will unlock credits of up to $27 billion from the United States, European Union, Japan, and other countries over the coming years.

In the near future, we can expect recovery to the diseased economy of Ukraine. The Russian annexation of Crimea can be compared with surgery to remove an inflamed appendix.

Crimea was highly dependent on Ukraine for electricity and drinking water, about 85% of which is supplied across the narrow neck of land that connects the peninsula to the mainland.

Over 40 percent of Crimea’s $500 million annual budget was propped up by subsidies from Kiev. From now on it will be a headache for Moscow, along with other expensive problems caused by the recent acquisition of foreign land. 

Some 677,000 Crimean people -- about one third of the population -- are pensioners, so paying their pensions will cost $1.9 billion per year. Vladimir Putin has already instructed the Russian Labour and Social Protection minister to raise the pensions of Crimea’s residents to the Russian level.

The result is a considerable savings for Ukraine’s budget. But there are purely political benefits in addition to financial gain. Until now, Crimean voters, composed mostly of ethnic Russians, have provided decisive electoral support for pro-Kremlin parties and presidential candidates. Without Crimea, the presidential elections on 25 May will be a crucial step in leading Ukraine out of Moscow orbit and closer into the Western fold.

Prizes all Around

Putin has lost credibility in the international arena, but his approval rating in Russia sets a new record, holding an enormous 80%, with only 18% of citizens disapproving. On the other hand, Ukraine has lost Crimea, but has gained unconditional support of most of the world’s governments.

The current standoff between Russia and the Europe over Crimea impelled Beijing to speed up negotiations with Moscow over supplies of natural gas -- up to 60 billion cubic meters per year. China also imported a record amount of Russian crude oil in March -- over 2.5 million metric tons, or about ten supertankers full per month.

In the meantime, Gazprom has resisted China’s call for lower prices than Europe, but not for long. Rapidly cooling relations between Russia and the West encourages China to strengthen its pressure on Putin. The Chinese tiger comprehends that in its clutches is a prey completely at its mercy.

Meanwhile, a more worrying impact of the Ukraine crisis may be that Kremlin will be tempted to soften its compliance with international sanctions against Iran with its peaceful -- extremely peaceful -- nuclear program.

Nevertheless, it seems that the grand prize went to the United States. 

President Obama suggested that the U.S. as a source of energy that would weaken the EU’s dependence on Russia for gas and oil supplies. According to U.S. Energy Information Administration figures for 2012, the European countries most reliant on Russian natural gas are Germany (24 per cent of Russian exports), Turkey (19 per cent), Italy (11 per cent), France (6 per cent) and the Britain (6 per cent). This is a huge potential market which needs to be extended throughout the continent.

Thanks to the Crimean adventure, again.

North Atlantic Wind

One can only guess at the stunning effect the sudden Russian aggression had on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

As the Russian president made coldly clear in his announcement of the annexation of Crimea, the Kremlin is willing to use military force when it feels its interests are endangered. This declaration was deeply disturbing for central and eastern European countries with considerable numbers of ethnic Russians on whose behalf Putin claimed the right to intervene whenever he decides.

It has rekindled discussions in Sweden and Finland of whether to join NATO, which would protect the two little countries from potential Russian aggression.

It has also breathed new life into the Atlantic partnership.

Former Norwegian Premier Jens Stoltenberg -- who will become NATO’s next Secretary General starting in October -- called the crisis with Russia over Ukraine “a brutal reminder of how important NATO is.”

Thus, another Cold War has just started.

No one really knows who will lose or gain in the end. The question “cui bono” is in the air.

Sergey Maidukov


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

The False Dichotomy: Moderate Muslims vs. Radicals

by Majid Rafizadeh


The liberal mainstream media has long portrayed a picture of moderate (“good”) Muslims versus extremist Muslims. This narrative has been institutionalized in the thinking of Western Muslim scholars, who advocate for Islam as well. This has led to the thought that Islam is an ideology and religion of peace, because a majority of Muslims fall in the category of moderate or good Muslims.

If we analyze this dichotomy in depth, we can see how this understanding of Islam develops. Besides analytical and theoretical frameworks, I will also draw on my own experience growing up in the Muslim world.

We were taught in school that the Qur’an has descended, word for word, from the creator Allah, through Muhammad. This is accepted throughout the entirety of the Islamic word. If we take this speculation as accurate information of Islam, then every Muslim is supposed to follow Allah’s verses exactly in order to be a good Muslim and to be considered a representative of the real ideology and religion of Islam.

Secondly, if we take the assertion that the Qur’an is made up of Allah’s words as being true, then Qur’anic verses should be followed for eternity, as long as human beings exist in this universe. No changes are allowed to Allah’s rules and words because Allah, as Muslims say, is perfect and his knowledge is absolute. As a result, his words cannot be relative and every word he utters or reveals should apply in any time of human history.

In fact, even Muhammad himself repeatedly said that two things a Muslim should follow are the Qur’an (words of Allah) and the Hadith (Muhammad’s teachings). 

Considering this information and based on these standards, a true Muslim, who represent the real Islam, should be the one who follows and obeys Allah’s words (from the Qur’an) completely.  As a result, anyone who ignores some of the rules is not, and cannot be, considered a reflection of Islam, a good Muslim, or even a Muslim. Accordingly, Allah’s words and rules are not a basket of vegetable to choose from, meaning that one cannot obey some orders and disregard others.

Following this reasoning, it is clear that the whole dichotomy of good Muslims vs. extremist Muslims, as portrayed by the mainstream media, must be altered. By this definition, real, true, and good Muslims who represent Islam are people such as Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Ayatollah Khomeini (the founder of Iran’s political theocracy), Osama Bin Laden, Hassan Nasrullah (the leader of Hezbollah), Ayman Alzawaheri, Hasib Hussein, Mahmoud Ahmadinjead, and the like, because they follow the Qur’an and Allah’s social and legal rules word for word. All these people, who have committed crimes against humanity, will be considered to be the real Muslims, representing the actual ideology of Islam, the Qur’an, Allah’s words, and Muhammad’s teachings, because they follow the rules of Islam.

To give you a concrete example, during a speech I gave that criticized the underlying philosophy and ideology of Islam and that argued that Islam is not a religion of peace, a young American-British Muslim man stood up and responded by interrupting. Some of his points, which echoed what other Western Muslims usually state, were that Islam is the religion of peace, millions of Muslims like him do not commit those violent acts, and that they represent Islam.

When he finished, I asked him if he believed that he should beat his wife after she disobeys him one time, two times or three times. He said no. Then I conveyed to him that one cannot be representative of the true philosophy and ideology of Islam, a good or real Muslim, if he or she doesn’t follow Allah’s words stated in Qur’an.

Allah specifically says, ”Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great.” (Qur’an 4:34)
A real and “good” Muslim, who represent the ideology of Islam, would follow Allah’s words in Qur’an regarding this specific rule. Therefore, he or other Muslims like this young British-American man cannot introduce themselves as a real reflection and representation of Islamic ideology or speak on behalf of Islam.

This verse is not open to interpretation. It clearly says what a man must do with a disobedient wife. I cannot imagine that this verse can have another meaning than what it exactly states. Many Muslims use the interpretation card to legitimize and defend Islam and call themselves the real reflection of Islamic ideology. Growing up in Islamic societies, I am aware that many Muslims in the West or East have not even read Allah’s words in the Qur’an completely, and are not following the real Islam. (A blessing that they have not read it and that they are not following the real Islam!)

The underlying reason for considering people such as Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Ayatollah Khomeini, Osama Bin Laden, Hassan Nasrullah, Ayman Alzawaheri, Hasib Hussein, Mahmoud Ahmadinjead, and others as the real image of Islam is that these people follow Allah’s verses and orders word for word. They also have hundreds of thousands of followers who consider them as the true Muslims. If Muhammad was alive, these people would be considered the real spokespeople for Islam, the best, true, and real Muslims, for following Allah’s rules exactly. So what about other Muslims?

Other Muslims who obey some of the verses and disregard others cannot be called good Muslims, representatives of Islamic ideology, or even true followers of Islam, based on the Qur’an and Muhammad’s teachings. Therefore, they cannot in fact, represent any categories. Every word of Allah should be obeyed.

These people who call themselves the representatives of real Islam are in fact a representative and reflection of certain socio-political, socio-economic and cultural traditions mixed with some glimpses of Islamic teachings, not the real truth of Islam. Their identity and character is a mixture of these aforementioned qualities rather than the actual ideology of Islam.

This means that those Western Muslim scholars — who claim that Islam is a religion of peace and that people like Khamenei, Khomeini, Bin Laden and the like, are not true Muslims— cannot introduce themselves as representatives of real Islam.

Usually, when a terrorist or suicide attack by a Muslim occurs, a women is raped and forced to marry the rapist, a woman is stoned for having sex with another man (namahram), a woman is beaten for disobeying her husband or father, the Western Muslim scholars who were born, raised, or educated in the West excitedly point out that the majority of “Muslims” do not conduct these acts and people who carry out these acts are minimal. As a result, they argue that those few people cannot represent Islam.
But the paradox is that those people who commit such inhumane and brutal acts are the actual Muslims who represent the real Islam because they follow Islam, Allah’s words, the Qur’an, and Muhammad’s principles word for word. The rest of Muslims are the ones who do not represent real Islam and its truth. In other words, for Muhammad and Allah, those Muslims who commit such criminal acts will be considered totally good Muslims because they obey the rules stated in Qur’an in full detail.

Muslims argue that Allah’s words in the Qur’an are open to interpretation. Below are some samples of Allah’s words that are not open to any interpretation. A real Muslim, and a representative and reflection of real ideology of Islam, should follow and full-heartedly accept these social rules word for word. Otherwise, he or she cannot claim that they represent the truth of the ideology of Islam, Muhammad, and Allah.

Execute Those Who Wage War Against Allah and His Messenger:
“The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter” (Qur’an 5:33).
Men Can Marry Four Wives:
“If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, Marry women of your choice, Two or three or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, or (a captive) that your right hands possess, that will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice” (Qur’an 4:3).
Men Can Have Sex with Captives:
“O Prophet! We have made lawful to thee thy wives to whom thou hast paid their dowers; and those whom thy right hand possesses out of the prisoners of war whom Allah has assigned to thee; and daughters of thy paternal uncles and aunts, and daughters of thy maternal uncles and aunts, who migrated (from Makka) with thee; and any believing woman who dedicates her soul to the Prophet if the Prophet wishes to wed her;- this only for thee, and not for the Believers (at large); We know what We have appointed for them as to their wives and the captives whom their right hands possess;- in order that there should be no difficulty for thee. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful” (Qur’an 33:50).
A Man Can Marry Wife of Adopted Son:
“Allah has not made for any man two hearts within him; nor has He made your wives whose backs you liken to the backs of your mothers as your mothers, nor has He made those whom you assert to be your sons your real sons; these are the words of your mouths; and Allah speaks the truth and He guides to the way” (Qur’an 33:4).
A Woman Inherits Only Half as Much as a Man Does:
“Allah enjoins you concerning your children: The male shall have the equal of the portion of two females; then if they are more than two females, they shall have two-thirds of what the deceased has left, and if there is one, she shall have the half; and as for his parents, each of them shall have the sixth of what he has left if he has a child, but if he has no child and (only) his two parents inherit him, then his mother shall have the third; but if he has brothers, then his mother shall have the sixth after (the payment of) a bequest he may have bequeathed or a debt; your parents and your children, you know not which of them is the nearer to you in usefulness; this is an ordinance from Allah: Surely Allah is Knowing, Wise” (Qur’an 4:11).
Fight with Those Who Do not Believe in Islam
“Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Messenger have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection.” (Qur’an 9:29)
Witness Testimony of a Woman Is Half of That of a Man in Court:
“O you who believe! when you deal with each other in contracting a debt for a fixed time, then write it down; and let a scribe write it down between you with fairness; and the scribe should not refuse to write as Allah has taught him, so he should write; and let him who owes the debt dictate, and he should be careful of (his duty to) Allah, his Lord, and not diminish anything from it; but if he who owes the debt is unsound in understanding, or weak, or (if) he is not able to dictate himself, let his guardian dictate with fairness; and call in to witness from among your men two witnesses; but if there are not two men, then one man and two women from among those whom you choose to be witnesses, so that if one of the two errs, the second of the two may remind the other; and the witnesses should not refuse when they are summoned; and be not averse to writing it (whether it is) small or large, with the time of its falling due; this is more equitable in the sight of Allah and assures greater accuracy in testimony, and the nearest (way) that you may not entertain doubts (afterwards), except when it is ready merchandise which you give and take among yourselves from hand to hand, then there is no blame on you in not writing it down; and have witnesses when you barter with one another, and let no harm be done to the scribe or to the witness; and if you do (it) then surely it will be a transgression in you, and be careful of (your duty) to Allah, Allah teaches you, and Allah knows all things” (Qur’an 2:282).
A Man Can Marry Girls Who Have Reached Puberty Age or Have Not Reached Yet. (As Muhammad married Aisha before puberty age):
“Such of your women as have passed the age of monthly courses, for them the prescribed period, if ye have any doubts, is three months, and for those who have no courses (it is the same): for those who carry (life within their wombs), their period “is until they deliver their burdens: and for those who fear Allah, He will make their path easy.” Qur’an 65:4
These are only a few examples of Allah’s words, which are not open to interpretation, according to the definition of the religion and its explicitly set eternal rules.

In sum, my argument is that those real and good Muslims and representatives of the philosophy of the religion are those who follow the Qur’an, Allah’s words. If they do not agree with some of these rules and do not wholly follow them, they are not good Muslims and they cannot represent the real truth of Islam. In fact, based on Muhammad’s teachings and the Qur’an, if a person does not believe in one of the previous verses or any of Allah’s words, he cannot call himself a Muslim.

And finally, as long as the ideology of Islam, as long as the Qur’an exists and is considered to be the words of Allah, people like Osama Bin Laden will resurface in human history and ideology of Islam, Allah’s words in the Qur’an will create such criminals, real and good Muslims, who represent the true ideology and philosophy of Islam.

Majid Rafizadeh


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Is Israel Isolated?

by Yoram Ettinger

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says that "if we do not resolve the issues between Palestinians and Israelis, if we do not find a way to find peace, there will be an increasing isolation of Israel."

However, a thorough examination of Israel's international standing reveals an increasingly splendid integration of the Jewish state -- economically, technologically and scientifically -- irrespective of the Palestinian issue.

Contrary to the Kerry school of thought, and based on a reality check, the Palestinian issue has never been a core cause shaping the Middle East, a crown jewel of Arab policymakers and the crux of Israel's relations with the Arab countries and the international community. While the diplomatic talk highlights the Palestinian issue, the diplomatic, commercial and industrial walk reveals that policy-makers and the international business community do not embrace Kerry's "Palestine First" assessment and his "Isolation Warning/Threat."

Thus, the Turkish Statistics Institute documented an expansion of the Turkey-Israel trade balance, despite the brutal anti-Israel ideology of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The institute reports a 56 percent export increase, to Israel, during the first five months of 2013, compared with the same period in 2012, while imports from Israel increased by 22% during the same period. The Israel-Turkey trade balance was $3.4 billion in 2008, rising to $4 billion in 2012. Turkey's requirements in the areas of industry, medicine, health, agriculture, irrigation, education, science, technology and defense -- and Israel's unique innovations in these areas -- have prevailed over Erdogan's anti-Western, anti-Israel, and pro-Hamas Islamist orientation.

The London Financial Times reported that "in six hours of [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's] talks with the Chinese leadership, they spent roughly 10 seconds on the Palestinian issue, while revealing an unquenchable thirst for Israeli technology."

Highlighting Israel's intensified and diversified global integration, the China-Israel 2013 trade balance exceeded $10 billion, providing a tailwind to the currently negotiated free-trade agreement, and inspired by Chinese investments in some 50 Israeli high-tech companies. The Japan Times reported a growing Japanese interest in Israeli business opportunities, tripling the number of reviews of Israeli companies.

Moreover, foreign investments in Israel soared in 2013 to a seven-year high of $12 billion, including $4 billion in acquisitions of Israeli companies by global giants such as Google, IBM, Cisco, AOL, Facebook, Apple and EMC. Furthermore, since January, Israeli companies have raised over $500 million on Wall Street, and Deloitte Touche, one of the world's top CPA firms, crowned Israel as the fourth most attractive site for foreign investors, behind the U.S., China and Brazil.

According to the British Economist Intelligence Unit, "Israel's cluster of high-tech companies, investors and incubators is enjoying a boom which has not been witnessed since the global tech bubble burst more than a decade ago." Neither Kazakhstan's billionaire Kenges Rakishev, nor Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim allowed the "Isolation Warning/Threat" to stop their flow of investments in Israel's high-tech sector.

In fact, Israel, the "Start-Up Nation," has become a critical Pipeline Nation which transfers to the American high-tech industry a plethora of cutting edge technologies and applications developed by Israeli brain power, providing some 200 U.S. high-tech giants with an edge over their global competitors and contributing to U.S. employment, research and development and exports. As stated by Microsoft's new CEO, Satya Nadella: "The two Microsoft research and development centers in Israel constitute a strategic factor, enhancing Microsoft's capabilities in many areas."

This was echoed by Google's Chairman, Eric Schmidt, who invests in Israel also through his private venture capital fund, Innovation Endeavors: "Israel will have an oversized impact on the evolution of the next stage of technology. Israel has become a high-tech hub. Israel is the most important high-tech center in the world after the U.S."

Unlike Secretary of State John Kerry, businessman Warren Buffett does have confidence in Israel's long-term viability, realizing that Israel's economic and technological capabilities are the derivatives of Israel's brainpower and fiscal responsibility (since 1985), independent of the Palestinian issue.

Hence, on the eve of Israel's 2006 war against Lebanon's Hezbollah, Buffett invested $4 billion in an Israeli company, located next to the Lebanese border, recently expanding that investment by $2 billion. Buffett followed in the footsteps of Intel, which has invested $11 billion in its four research and development centers and two manufacturing plants in Israel; IBM, which just acquired its 13th Israeli company; Motorola, which established in Israel a research center second only to its Houston center; Hewlett-Packard, which owes 55% of its 2012-2013 development to its seven Israeli research and development centers; and the leading Silicon Valley venture capital funds, Sequoia, Benchmark, Greylock and Accel, which operate successful Israel-dedicated funds.

Astute observers of the Middle East -- who do not subordinate reality to their wishful thinking -- are aware that the Arab tsunami is not an Arab Spring; that the Arab street in general, and Egypt in particular, are not transitioning towards democracy; that Iran is committed to the pursuit of military nuclear capabilities; that Syrian President Bashar Assad has not been forsaken by Russia and Iran; and that Arab leaders are apprehensive of Palestinian subversion and terrorism.

Likewise, astute investors have realized that the ongoing wars and terrorism that have beset Israel since 1948 have been but bumps on the road of Israel's unprecedented surge and integration into the global economy and technology, bolstered by Israel's Leviathan-size offshore natural gas explorations.

Yoram Ettinger


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Abbas' Failure

by Boaz Bismuth

It's hard to say there was much enthusiasm in our region over the renewal of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians eight months ago. One person who was enthusiastic for the rest of us, though -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who envisioned how on April 29 (the date the talks were slated to end) the Israeli and Palestinians would fall into the other's arms.

Not to imply, God forbid, that there aren't those here -- Israelis and Palestinians -- who don't want to see the end of the conflict (a strategic interest), it's just that a moderate man (so they tell us) has been the leader of the Palestinian Authority since 2005 and he is unwilling and unable to sign a deal with us.

Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas' interaction with previous Israeli governments was supposed to have set off a warning bell for the American administration, which was supposed to lower its expectations. The Obama administration, however, following a series of international conflict management failures, was far more desiring of a deal than Abbas. Washington did not understand that the fruits it sought could not be picked in the Palestinian Authority. After three painful (and controversial) phases of releasing Palestinian prisoners by Israel, it is a bit difficult for Abbas to cast blame, this time as well, on Jerusalem. The big question is whether the Obama administration finally understands with whom it is dealing. It is entirely uncertain that it does.

In the meantime, the Palestinians have reverted to making threats: They are way more enchanted by the international arena than the three-way tango with the Israelis and Americans. They have gone back to their beloved formula of turning to the United Nations for recognition and to join 15 international treaties. This unilateral move is merely another nail in the coffin of the Oslo Accords. The path to a state does not go through the U.N., but through Jerusalem. Someone needs to remind Abbas of this.

It was obvious that the current negotiations, which were allotted nine months, would end in a miscarriage, rather than a birth. The idea to grant an extension to the talks is certainly logical. They say we must avoid creating a diplomatic vacuum between us and the Palestinians. However, after Israel released dozens of prisoners for nothing in return, it was asked to again pay a steep price (the release of 1,200 Palestinian prisoners, among them Marwan Barghouti, lift the Gaza embargo;, and provide a written commitment by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the 1967 borders, with east Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital). In other words, the prime minister was to offer another dowry without being at all certain it would result in a wedding. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni also struggled to extract the "conditions of amenability" that the Palestinians had exhibited with her in the past.

Abbas, through his conduct, succeeded in creating an atmosphere of apathy in the region. When the talks were renewed no one was excited, and this time too, as Abbas is sabotaging the talks, it appears nobody, even among his own people, is torn up about it. The last round of talks perhaps did not advance the prospect of peace, but it did erode even further what was left of the PA leader's credibility.

And here perhaps is Abbas' greatest failure. It is one thing that Israel finds it hard to see him as good partner. The problem is that despite the expected rise in his popularity in the coming days, the Palestinians also do not see him as a leader.

Boaz Bismuth


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Abbas to Kerry: Please Beg Me More!

by Khaled Abu Toameh

Abbas is convinced that it is only a matter of time before U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry rushes back to the region in yet anther desperate effort to "salvage the peace process."
In recent weeks, according to Palestinian officials, Kerry has literally been "begging" Abbas to agree to an extension of the peace talks after the end of April.
Abbas and the Palestinian Authority leadership have concluded that the Obama Administration is prepared to do almost anything to show some kind of "victory" in the peace process between Palestinians and Israelis. Palestinian demands therefore have continued to increase almost every day.

Palestinian Authority [PA] leader Mahmoud Abbas is now waiting to see what the U.S. Administration will offer him in return for refraining from pursuing his bid to join various international treaties and institutions.

In recent weeks, according to Palestinian officials, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has literally been "begging" Abbas to agree to the extension of the peace talks after the end of April.

Hours after Abbas signed the applications for joining a number of international bodies and treaties, he received an urgent phone call from Kerry asking him to refrain from further moves that could "derail" the peace process.

Abbas is convinced that it is only a matter of time before Kerry rushes back to the region in yet another desperate effort to "salvage the peace process."

On Wednesday night, Abbas and the PA leadership received the first sign that the U.S. Administration was nervous and confused following the PA's surprise decision to join 15 international organizations and treaties.

Kerry's envoy, Martin Indyk, invited Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat and Israeli Justice Minister Tsipi Livni to an emergency meeting in Jerusalem to find ways of preventing the "collapse" of the peace talks in the wake of Abbas's decision to apply for the memberships.

The meeting lasted for several hours and, according to Palestinian sources in Ramallah, Indyk and Livni "reprimanded" Erekat for surprising Israel and the U.S. Administration with the new decision.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas in happier times. (Image source: Nirvana News YouTube video still)

Abbas dispatched Erekat to the meeting to see what the Americans and Israelis are prepared to offer him in return for suspending this bid.

So far, however, Abbas does not seem to be satisfied with what his emissary, Erekat, heard from Indyk and Livni. Abbas is therefore expected to step up pressure on the two parties in the coming days and weeks, if he can, in the hope of extracting as many concessions as possible.

Abbas and the Palestinian Authority leadership have concluded that the Obama Administration is prepared to do almost anything to show some kind of a "victory" in the peace process between Palestinians and Israelis. Palestinian demands have therefore continued to increase almost every day.

Realizing how desperate Kerry is to achieve an extension of the talks, Abbas decided that this was the right time to set new conditions, such as the release of jailed Fatah militia leader Marwan Barghouti and Ahmed Sa'adat, Secretary-General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Barghouti is in prison for his role in terrorist attacks against Israelis during the second intifada. Sa'adat is serving a lengthy prison term for his role in the assassination of Israel's Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze'evi.

As Kerry increased his pressure on the Palestinians to agree to an extension, Abbas added two more conditions: the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners and a complete cessation of construction in settlements and east Jerusalem neighborhoods.

Abbas has also made it clear that his decision to join international organizations and treaties does not mean that he is interested in a "clash" with the U.S. Administration.

Abbas is right. Of course he does not want a "clash" with President Barack Obama and Kerry. Rather, Abbas wants the two men to continue begging him not to walk out of the peace process and turn their entire Middle East policy into another blunder. He wants them to exert pressure on the Israeli government to accept both his old and new demands.

Abbas apparently thinks he is moving in the right direction, and that Obama and Kerry have no choice but to accept his demands and intensify U.S. pressure on Israel. Abbas does not want totally to walk out of the peace talks at this stage. He feels that he can still extract further concessions from the Israelis and Americans, and that his decision to join 15 international organizations and treaties has left the U.S. Administration in a state of panic that the peace talks might fail. Now he is waiting to see what price Obama and Kerry are willing to pay to avoid that scenario.

Khaled Abu Toameh


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