Friday, April 18, 2014

What the Left Did Last Week

by Dennis Prager

In his column last week, Charles Krauthammer crossed a line. He declared the American left totalitarian. He is correct. Totalitarianism is written into the left’s DNA.

Krauthammer wrote about a left-wing petition “bearing more than 110,000 signatures delivered to the [Washington] Post demanding a ban on any article questioning global warming.”

He concluded:

“I was gratified by the show of intolerance because it perfectly illustrated my argument that the left is entering a new phase of ideological agitation — no longer trying to win the debate but stopping debate altogether, banishing from public discourse any and all opposition. The proper word for that attitude is totalitarian.”

America is engaged in a civil war — thank God, a non-violent one, but a civil war nonetheless. It is as divided as it was during the Civil War in the 19th century. The issue then was slavery — a huge moral divide, of course. But today, the country is divided by opposite views about much more than one major issue. The left and right are divided by their views of morality, politics, society, religion, the individual and the very nature of America.

The left seeks to, as candidate Barack Obama promised five days before his first election, “fundamentally transform the United States of America.”

That is what the left is doing. There is almost no area of American life in which the left’s influence is not transformative, and ultimately destructive.

Beginning with this column I will periodically, perhaps regularly, devote this space to that transformation and destruction. My reason for doing so is that most Americans, including more than a few Republicans and more than a few Democrats, simply do not know what the left is doing to their country.

So, here is some of what the left has done in the last week or two.

—The left-wing directors of Mozilla, the parent company of the browser Firefox, compelled their CEO, Brendan Eich, to resign after he refused to recant his support for maintaining the man-woman definition of marriage. Even though his gay employees acknowledged how fairly he treated them individually and as couples, the mere fact that he believes that marriage is between a man and a woman rendered him unacceptable as an employee of Mozilla/Firefox. (For more details, see my column of last week, “Uninstall Firefox.”)

The Wall Street Journal condemned Mozilla. The New York Times has not taken a position.

—Brandeis University rescinded its invitation to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, perhaps the world’s foremost activist on behalf of women in the Islamic world.

Hirsi Ali, an African woman born into a Muslim family and raised Muslim, who now teaches at Harvard, was scheduled to receive an honorary degree at the forthcoming Brandeis graduation ceremony. Brandeis rescinded its invitation after protests led by a Muslim student and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, an Islamist organization, erupted over Hirsi Ali’s criticism of the way women are treated in many parts of the Muslim world.

The Wall Street Journal condemned Brandeis. The New York Times has not taken a position.

—The University of Michigan canceled a showing of the documentary “Honor Diaries.” The film features nine women who are either Muslim or come from a Muslim country. They speak about honor killings, female genital mutilation, forced marriages at young ages, and the denial of education to women in Muslim communities. They praise moderate Muslims. But the University of Michigan cancelled the film lest a non-moderate Muslim organization, CAIR again, label the university “Islamophobic.”

—Six weeks ago, a University of Wisconsin student released a video he had made of a guest lecturer in the freshman general education course “Education 130: Individual and Society.” The lecturer, the political and organizing director for Service Employees International Union Local 150, delivered a diatribe, with obscenities, against conservatives, whites and Republicans. Last week. When confronted with the evidence that classrooms at their university were being politicized, the faculty of the University of Wisconsin reacted with indignation — at the student who made the video. And then the faculty passed a resolution demanding that the university ban recording any of its classes.

It’s hard to blame the faculty. Given the intellectual shallowness and the left-wing politics that pervade so many liberal arts classes, the University of Wisconsin faculty has every reason to fear allowing the public to know what professors say in class.

—Today is the cutoff date for public reactions to the California Supreme Court’s ethics advisory committee’s proposal to forbid California judges from affiliating with the Boy Scouts, which the left deems anti-gay. Given the Left’s animosity to traditional value-based institutions, it is not surprising that it loathes the Boy Scouts. What is remarkable — actually, frightening — is how easy it has been for the left to make it illegal for a judge to be a leader in the Boy Scouts. This is the now case in 22 states. It will soon be the case in California as well.

This was just one week — and only selected examples — in the left’s ongoing transformation of America.

Dennis Prager


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Islam and Human Rights

by Majid Rafizadeh


Recently, I met a Syrian Salafist while speaking to Leaders of Democracy Fellows about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Islam and human rights violations in Syria.

The individual who lives in Syria, and who seems to sympathize with Jubhat Al- Nusrah (Al-Nusrah Front), drew several distinctions between Islamic objectives of the global Jihad movement, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and Jubhat Al-Nusrah.

The argument was that these powerful movements in Syria and beyond attempt to create an Islamic state anchored in Shari’a law, the teachings of Islam, Muhammad, and Allah. But the difference between Jubhat Al-Nusrah and ISIL, according to the person, was that the mission of the Jubhat Al-Nusrah aims at only establishing Islamic social order and an Islamic state in Syria. Whether this mission spreads to other countries is not a part of their objectives, though other countries can adopt this political Islamic platform if they desire.

On the other hand, the objectives and mission of ISIL is a return to the Caliphate system and establishment of an Islamic state throughout the region. In other words, creating an Islamic state and Shari’a law-based government in Syria or in Iraq is not sufficient and will not fulfill the desire of God, Muhammad, and Islamic teachings.

Currently, we can contend that Syrian oppositional groups are functionally dominated by Jihadists from around the world, other Islamist groups, and external groups attempting to create an Islamic order and pursue their own ideological goals.  

Regarding these Islamic movements, my major question is on where human rights stand for them, regardless of the minor or significant differences between these Islamist oppositional groups.

Recently, a seven-year-old boy died because fighters believed him to be an apostate. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a 15-year-old Syrian boy was also killed in the northern city of Aleppo in front of his parents because the Islamist groups believed what the boy said was heretical.

Some of the proponents of Islam and Islamic laws would point out that the ideology and religion of Islam sit at the heart of human rights standards and are totally compatible with the modern notion of human rights. 

But when I delve into the issue, and going into the nuances and details of the question, they seem to dodge answering. How can Islam be compatible with a modern notion of human rights and gender equality, when social and legal laws of Allah’s words in Quran, depict women as inferior to men in every aspect?

Article three of the universal declaration of human rights, states that “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” But in Islamic countries, a person who rejects and abandons Islam has no right to life. According to Islam, unbelievers commit the gravest sin in Islam.
While article four of the universal declaration of human rights says “one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms,” slavery is officially recognized and accepted in Quran.

Article five states that “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” Cases of stoning, lashings, and other violent acts are rampant in Islamic countries.

How can Islam be compatible with human rights when, according to Muslims and the Quran, Allah specifically states in the Quran that a woman’s testimony in a court of law is considered half the value to that of a man?

“And call to witness, from among your men, two witnesses. And if two men be not found then a man and two women.” [Qur'an (2:282)]

A Muslim told me that scientific data shows women’s logical and speaking neurological center in brain are at the same place, and as a result, they are more forgetful than men! And so, this is why God made their testimony worth half. I was totally confounded and baffled by this ungrounded logic.

How can Islam be compatible with human rights when according to Muslims and the Quran, Allah states that women inherit less than men in several instances?
They ask thee for a legal decision. Say: Allah directs about those who leave no descendants or ascendants as heirs. If it is a man that dies, leaving a sister but no child, she shall have half the inheritance: If a woman, who left no child, Her brother takes her inheritance: If there are two sisters, they shall have two-thirds of the inheritance: if there are brothers and sisters, the male having twice the share of the female. Thus doth Allah make clear to you , lest ye err. And Allah hath knowledge of all things. (Quran 4:176)
All Muslims are expected to follow and implement the rules of Islamic inheritance clearly stated in the Quran, verbatim words of God, accordingly.

In addition, how can the ideology of Islam be in line with human rights when abandoning Islam triggers punishments, including execution? Or does the law that allows a man to marry four wives respect the rights of women? Do these Islamic laws comply with the article one of the universal declaration of human rights that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”?

The aforementioned laws reveal how women are restricted and seen as inferior. While men can marry any women from any other religion, Muslim women are not allowed to marry a non-Muslim.

There are also the rights of an accused person to a fair trial, which is mentioned in the Universal Declaration of Human rights. While a women’s testimony is worth half, non-Muslims are not permitted to testify against Muslims.

These are only samples of the contradictions and incompatibilities between the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Islamic laws and doctrines. The critical phenomenon is that as long as the Quran is perceived to be the words of God—and hence should be implemented word by word— and as long Islam views itself as part of the state, I think there can never be compatibility between the modern notion of human rights and Islam.

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, an Iranian-American political scientist and scholar, is president of the International American Council and he serves on the board of Harvard International Review at Harvard University. Rafizadeh is also a senior fellow at Nonviolence International Organization based in Washington DC and a member of the Gulf project at Columbia University.


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Nightmare time for Jews of eastern Ukraine

by Thomas Lifson

A leaflet distributed on Passover eve in the city of Dontesk in the Russian-speaking eastern region of Ukraine is reviving memories of pogroms of a century ago for the 17,000 Jews resident there.
Ynet news provides details:
The leaflet, signed by Chairman of Donetsk's temporary government Denis Pushilin, was distributed to Jews near the Donetsk synagogue and later in other areas of the city where pro-Russians activists have declared Donetsk as an independent "people's republic", defying an ultimatum from Kiev to surrender.
The leaflet was written in Russian and had Russia's national symbol on it, as well as the Donetsk People's Republic insignia.
"Dear Ukraine citizens of Jewish nationality," the flyer began, "due to the fact that the leaders of the Jewish community of Ukraine supported Bendery Junta," a reference to Stepan Bandera, the leader of the Ukrainian nationalist movement which fought for Ukrainian independence at the end of World War II, "and oppose the pro-Slavic People's Republic of Donetsk, (the interim government) has decided that all citizens of Jewish descent, over 16 years of age and residing within the republic's territory are required to report to the Commissioner for Nationalities in the Donetsk Regional Administration building and register."
 The leaflet detailed what type of documents the Jewish citizens would need to supply: "ID and passport are required to register your Jewish religion, religious documents of family members, as well as documents establishing the rights to all real estate property that belongs to you, including vehicles."
If the message was not made clear enough, the leaflet further stipulated the consequences that would come to those who failed to abide by the new demands: "Evasion of registration will result in citizenship revoke and you will be forced outside the country with a confiscation of property."
Haaretz, the left-leaning Israeli newspaper, casts some doubt as whether this leaflet might have been produced by Pro-Ukraine forces as a kind of black op:
…according to the Novosti Donbassa news agency… the notice was distributed by "three unidentified men wearing balaclavas and carrying the flag of the Russian Federation." The notice was reported by members of the Jewish community of Donetsk.

Novosti Donbassa speculated that the men involved were provocateurs who "tried to provoke a conflict, then to blame the attack on separatists."

Either way, the leaflet reminds us that hatred of Jews is a longstanding and still-virulent feature of life in Ukraine and much of Eastern Europe, once home to a substantial portion of world Jewry, and now just a remnant of the Holocaust. Ukraine supplied SS troops to the Nazis and was among the most enthusiastic locations for the Holocaust during Nazi occupation. The Christian Holy Week/Passover period was the worst time of the year for persecution of Jews, usually culminating on Good Friday. The timing of this leaflet seems intended to revive these memories.

Thomas Lifson


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Why Westernized Muslims Become 'Radicalized'

by Raymond Ibrahim

A new Danish statistical study finds that “Muslims [are] 218 percent more criminal in second generation than first.”  While some of these crimes are clearly related to Islam – such as attacks on Muslim apostates to Christianity – others, such as rampant theft against non-Muslims, would appear banal, until one realizes that even robbery and plunder are justified by Islamic doctrine – as one U.K. Muslim cleric once clearly said

The interesting question here is why second-generation Muslims, who are presumably more Westernized than their Muslim parents, are also more “radical.”  Lest one dismiss this phenomenon as a product of economics or some other “grievance” against European host nations, the fact is, even in America, where Muslims are much better assimilated than in Europe, young Muslims are turning to “radicalism.” 

For example, some time back, Attorney General Eric Holder said that “the threat [of terrorism] has changed … to worrying about people in the United States, American citizens – raised here, born here, and who for whatever reason, have decided that they are going to become radicalized and take up arms against the nation in which they were born.”

Around the same time, Sue Myrick, then a member of Congress, wrote a particularly candid letter on “radicalization” to President Obama:
For many years we lulled ourselves with the idea that radicalization was not happening inside the United Sates. We believed American Muslims were immune to radicalization because, unlike the European counterparts, they are socially and economically well-integrated into society. There had been warnings that these assumptions were false but we paid them no mind. Today there is no doubt that radicalization is taking place inside America. The strikingly accelerated rate of American Muslims arrested for involvement in terrorist activities since May 2009 makes this fact self-evident.
Myrick named several American Muslims as examples of those who, while “embodying the American dream, at least socio-economically,” were still “radicalized,” astutely adding, “The truth is that if grievances were the sole cause of terrorism, we would see daily acts by Americans who have lost their jobs and homes in this economic downturn.”

Quite so.  Yet, though Myrick’s observations were limited to the domestic scene, they raise the following, more cosmic, question: if American Muslims, who enjoy Western benefits – including democracy, liberty, prosperity, and freedom of expression – are still being radicalized, why do we insist that the importation of these same Western benefits to the Muslim world will eliminate its even more indigenous or authentic form of “radicalization”?
After all, the mainstream position evoked by most politicians maintains that all U.S. sacrifices in the Muslim world (Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.) will pay off once Muslims discover how wonderful Western ways are, and happily slough off their “Islamist” veneer, which, as the theory goes, is a product of – you guessed it – a lack of democracy, liberty, prosperity, and freedom of expression.

Yet here are American and European Muslims, immersed in the bounties of the West, and still do they turn to violent jihad.  Why think their counterparts, who are born and raised in the Muslim world, where Islam permeates every aspect of life, will respond differently?

In fact, far from eliminating “radicalization,” Western values can actually exacerbate Islamic tendencies – hence why second-generation “Westernized” Muslims are also becoming more “radicalized” than their parents.

Some already known that Western concessions to Islam – in the guise of multiculturalism, “cultural sensitivity,” political correctness, and self-censorship – only bring out the worst of Islam’s “schoolyard bully.”  Yet even some of the most prized aspects of Western civilization – personal freedom, rule of law, human dignity – when articulated through an Islamic framework, have the capacity to “radicalize” Muslims.

Consider: the West’s commitment to the law as supreme arbitrator, for the Westernized Muslim becomes a commitment to establish and enforce Islamic law, sharia; the West’s commitment to democracy, for the Westernized Muslim becomes a commitment to theocracy, including an anxious impulse to resurrect the caliphate; Western notions of human dignity and pride, when articulated through an Islamic paradigm (which sees only fellow Muslims as equals) induces rage when Muslims – Palestinians, Afghanis, Iraqis, etc. – are seen under Western infidel dominion; Western notions of autonomy and personal freedom have even helped “Westernize” the notion of jihad into an individual duty, though it has traditionally been held by sharia as a communal duty.

In short, a set of noble principles articulated through a foreign paradigm can lead to abominations.  In this case, the better principles of Western civilization are being devoured, absorbed, and regurgitated into something equally potent, though from the other end of the spectrum.

Put differently, just as a stress on human freedom, human dignity, and universal justice produces good humans, rearticulating these same concepts through an Islamic framework that qualifies them with the word “Muslim” – Muslim freedom, Muslim dignity, and Muslim justice – leads to what is being called “radicalization.”

Raymond Ibrahim


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UK: Probe of Islamic Takeover Plot Widens

by Soeren Kern

The problem of Islam in public schools has been allowed to snowball to vast proportions... not hundreds but thousands of British schools have come under the influence of Muslim radicals.
Bains was also instructed to stop teaching citizenship classes because they were deemed to be "un-Islamic," and to introduce Islamic studies into the curriculum, even though Saltley is a non-faith school.
Schools should not be allowed to become "silos of segregation." — Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister

British authorities say they have widened their investigation into an alleged plot by Muslim fundamentalists to Islamize public schools in England and Wales.

The expanded probe now encompasses at least 25 schools in Birmingham, up from four initially. Investigators are also looking into new allegations that Muslim extremists have infiltrated schools in other British cities, including Bradford and Manchester.

The plot—dubbed Operation Trojan Horse—consists of a strategy to wrest control of schools by ousting non-Muslim head teachers and staff at secular state schools and replacing them with individuals who will run the schools according to strict Islamic principles.

A copy of a strategy document outlining the plot was sent to the Birmingham City Council in November 2013, but its existence did not become known to the public until March 2014, when it was leaked to the London-based newspaper, the Sunday Times.

Although police are still working to determine the authenticity of the document, what remains beyond dispute is that Muslim hardliners are subverting the British school system in ever greater numbers.

Since Operation Trojan Horse came to light, British authorities have been inundated with more than 200 whistleblower complaints in Birmingham alone—including emails, letters and telephone calls from parents, teachers and school leaders—about the imposition of conservative Islamic practices in primary, secondary and community schools, as well as in publicly-funded academies.

The former headmaster of Saltley School in Birmingham resigned following a plot by Islamist fanatics to oust him. (Image source: Screenshot from BBC video)

Allegations include the takeover of school governing bodies by Islamic fundamentalists, harassment and squeezing-out of non-Muslim teachers, forcing female students to cover their hair, banning sex-education classes, bullying female staff, and segregating boys and girls in classrooms.

Over the past several weeks, Ofsted, the official agency for inspecting British schools, has carried out surprise inspections of at least 18 schools in Birmingham, under orders from the British Department for Education. This is in addition to a separate investigation being conducted by the Birmingham City Council. The initial findings of these investigations are to be published in May, with full reports following in July.

But critics say the schools inspected so far represent only the tip of the iceberg. The problem of Islam in public schools has been allowed to snowball to vast proportions—not dozens, nor hundreds, they say, but thousands of British schools have come under the influence of Muslim radicals—and they accuse the British government of willful complacency driven by blind obeisance to multiculturalism.

One such critic is Michael White, a former teacher at Birmingham's Park View School, which is at the center of the controversy. White recently told the BBC that concerns of an "Islamic takeover plot" were first raised more than 20 years ago, but they were ignored by government officials obsessed with enforcing political correctness.

White said he was "forced out" after he challenged attempts by the Muslim governors of the school to ban sex education and stop the teaching of non-Islamic faiths in religious education classes.

Another critic, Birmingham's Labour MP Khalid Mahmood, says the majority of the governors at the school are Salafists and Wahhabis, Muslim hardliners who are "trying to import their views into classrooms and the day to day running of the school." In an interview with the Birmingham Mail, Mahmood said he believes British education officials have previously resisted getting involved in disputes with Muslim schools for fear of being called racist or anti-Islamic.

Ofsted is now investigating allegations that Muslim hardliners at the school are indoctrinating pupils by—among other tactics—teaching them to praise the anti-Western sermons of firebrand Muslim preachers such as the late Anwar al-Awlaki, who planned terrorist operations for the Islamist group al Qaeda. They are also accused of misusing £70,000 (€85,000; $120,000) of taxpayers' money to purchase playground loudspeakers to call pupils to Islamic prayers.

Muslim school officials insist the allegations are unfounded and motivated by Islamophobia. "There is no evidence for any of these things whatsoever," one of the governors of the school, Tahir Alam, told BBC Radio. "I believe it is a witch-hunt based on all sorts of false allegations which have been repeated over many weeks. I also believe it is motivated by anti-Muslim, anti-Islam sentiment that is also sort of feeding this frenzy," he added.

But similar allegations abound at other schools in Birmingham. The head teacher of the Saltley School was forced out after he opposed plans by the Muslim governors of the school to scrap sex education and allow only halal food.

Balwant Bains, who is of Sikh origin, was also instructed to stop teaching citizenship classes because they were deemed to be "un-Islamic," and to introduce Islamic studies into the curriculum, even though Saltley is a non-faith school.

Bains says he was "bullied and intimidated" in the months before he left Saltley School in November 2013. After Muslim governors overturned his decision to expel a Muslim pupil found with a knife, Bains was also targeted in an anonymous text message that branded him a "racist, Islamophobic head teacher."

Bains resigned after an Ofsted report concluded he had a "dysfunctional" relationship with the school's governors. In recent months, five non-Muslim governors of the Saltley School have resigned, leaving 12 Muslim governors out of a total of 14.

This is not the first time the Saltley School has been linked to Muslim extremists. Previously, an "achievement mentor" at the school was arrested for his involvement in a terror cell which planned to behead a British soldier. Zahoor Iqbal was jailed for seven years in 2008 for supplying equipment for terrorist acts and supplying money or property for use in terrorism.

Another whistleblower told the Sunday Times that the new Muslim head teacher at Ladypool Primary School in Birmingham stopped Christmas celebrations after her appointment in September 2013.

The teacher, Huda Aslam, who was recruited from an Islamic secondary school near Ladypool, told teachers organizing last year's Christmas party that Santa Claus was banned from the school and that there would be no presents and "no mention" of Jesus being the son of God.

Fresh allegations have also emerged in Manchester and Bradford. At Laisterdyke Business and Enterprise College and Carlton Bolling College, both in Bradford, there are claims that head teachers have come under pressure from Muslim governors to introduce Islamic practices.

Meanwhile, Birmingham's ten MPs have united to demand that Education Secretary Michael Gove launch a full inquiry into Operation Trojan Horse. The MPs from all three main parties presented a united front in a joint letter urging Gove to establish a cross-party review with the city council to build a "full picture" of what has happened.

Amid mounting criticism for failing to act swiftly over the crisis, Gove said on April 13 that he would send teams of inspectors into dozens of state schools and order them to fail any schools where "religious conservatism is getting in the way of learning and a balanced curriculum."

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has also backed the investigations. Schools should not be allowed to become "silos of segregation," he said.

The investigation will be carried out in phases, with a second wave of snap inspections of state and private schools taking place later in the year, once Ofsted determines the scale of the problem.

Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.


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Violent clashes between IDF and Palestinians break out in Hebron

by Tovah Lazaroff, Staff

As thousands of Jewish visitors stream in to visit the Cave of the Patriarchs to celebrate Passover holiday, dozens of rioters throw stones at soldiers in West Bank city.

IDF troops take up position during clashes with Palestinian stonethrowers in Hebron. Sept. 22, 2013.
IDF troops take up position during clashes with Palestinian
stonethrowers in Hebron. Sept. 22, 2013. Photo: REUTERS
Violent clashes broke out between the IDF and Palestinian activists in Hebron on Thursday on the sidelines of a demonstration to mark Prisoner Day that took place in a section of the West Bank city under control of the Palestinian Authority.

The IDF said that some fifty Palestinians threw stones at soldiers stationed by the Policeman’s Checkpoint in the city. Security forces responded with riot dispersal means, including tear gas.
The clashes took place as thousands of visitors streamed to the Cave of the Patriarchs and other Jewish areas of the city under Israeli control so they could celebrate the Passover holiday. 
On Wednesday evening, the IDF injured seven Palestinians in Hebron when a riot broke out in the city.
The IDF said that dozens of Palestinians demonstrated and threw stones at an IDF post situated between the Jewish settlement of the city and the rest of the Palestinian city.
During its attempts to disperse the demonstrators using riot dispersal methods, seven Palestinians were injured, the army confirmed.
Earlier on Wednesday, hundreds of Palestinians threw stones and lit fire crackers at police upon opening the main entrance to the Temple Mount.
On Monday, Passover eve, Baruch Mizrachi was killed while driving on a highway near Hebron. The perpetrator of that attack has not yet been apprehended.
Daniel Eisenbud contributed to this report.

Tovah Lazaroff, Staff


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Erdogan's Theological Justification for His Dictatorial Stance

by Timon Dias

"Both materially, and in essence, sovereignty unconditionally and always belongs to Allah." — Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister, Turkey.
What is surprising is that so many Western politicians, including EU-minded ones, apparently still ignore what the consequences could be of such an ideology. Do they really assume it could never happen to them?

Once again, Turkey's Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is – although ineffectively – cracking down on social media, most notably Twitter, which public outrage forced him to reinstate, and the latest municipal elections were again ridden with intimidation and fraud.

On September 12, 1980, the Turkish military cracked down on religious opposition movements that challenged the secular state, and took power over the country. What stood out during these events was that Western nations, with political structures vigorously opposed to military involvement in civil politics, were actually relieved by the military's action[1]. After all, one year earlier the secular and allied state of Iran had transformed into a theocratic and hostile nation.

Over time, however, a worrying dynamic revealed itself: The Western view of Islamic religious political movements changed, while the core ideology and intentions of these movements did not. This phenomenon coincided with the "New Left" consolidating its "March through the institutions," referring to its takeover of the academy and journalism.[2]

The West stopped seeing political Islam as an expansionist, possibly antagonistic, ideology, and started actively to aid the consolidation of Islamist power, particularly in Turkey. The EU stated that if Turkey were ever going to join it, the country would have to abolish the influence the Turkish military had over civil politics. It is reasonable that the EU did not want a member state with a military that could undo a democracy at will. But it was unreasonable of the EU to think that the only way a democracy could be undone was by a military, or, in the instance of Turkey, that of the then-secular Turkish military. The EU may also have been naïve to dismiss out of hand the claims of the Turkish military that Islamist doctrine was inherently anti-Western.

True, modern Turkish Islamists, with the current Erdogan government as a prime example, have started out by preaching their theocratic intentions in more discrete and innocent-sounding ways. Erdogan for example said: "All the schools will become [madrassa-like religious] Imam Hatip schools"[3] and "I am the Imam of Istanbul"[4], but it is not as if Erdogan is a master of disguise. The truth was out there for those not taken by wishful thinking. Erdogan, during his time as mayor of Istanbul, 1994-1998, had said that "Democracy is like a streetcar. When you come to your stop, you get off." What is somewhat less known is that Erdogan stated in 1998: "Our reference [guide] is Islam. Our only goal is an Islamic state. They can never intimidate us. If the skies and the earth open up, if storms blow on us, if the lava of volcanoes flow on us, we will never change our way. My guide is Islam. If I cannot live according to Islam, why live at all? [Turk], Kurd, Arab, Caucasian cannot be differentiated; because these peoples are united under the roof of Islam."[5]

Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2009. (Image source: World Economic Forum)

What is even less known is that during the same period he repeatedly and elaborately explained why his ideology is inherently dictatorial.

On video[6], Erdogan was saying: "You cannot be both secular and a Muslim. You will either be a Muslim, or secular. When both are together, they create reverse magnetism [they repel one another]. For them to exist together is not a possibility. Therefore, it is not possible for a person who says, 'I am a Muslim' to go on and say, 'I am secular, too.' And why is that? Because Allah, the creator of the Muslim, has absolute power and rule.... When [does the sovereignty belong to the people]? It is only when they go to the polls [every five years] that sovereignty belongs to the people. But both materially, and in essence, sovereignty unconditionally and always belongs to Allah."

Although statements such as that might sound arbitrary and irrelevant to Western readers, they are not. The overarching theological drive of many Islamists is – as for example re-emphasized by one of the founder fathers of modern political Islam, Sayyid Qutb – the implementation of the sovereignty of Allah on earth, Hakimiyyat Allah. The Sovereignty of Allah, a divinely mandated set of laws, known as Sharia, may not be undone by men: all sovereignty of the people is inferior to the sovereignty of Allah. This means that Islamist doctrine does not allow Islamist rulers to be removed from power democratically. Such a view makes such a form of government inherently autocratic.

Erdogan's views should not be surprising. He was an apprentice of Necmettin Erbakan, the founding father of what is basically the Turkish Muslim Brotherhood, known as Milli Görüs. What is surprising, however, is that so many Western politicians, including EU-minded ones, apparently still choose to ignore what the consequences could be of such an ideology. Do they really assume it could never come to them?

[1] Henk Driessen, In het huis van de islam, p.361
[2] Martin Bosma, De schijn elite van de Valsemunters, p. 83
[3] Cumhuriyet, Sep. 17, 1994
[4] Hurriyet, Jan. 8, 1995
[5] From his Dec. 6, 1997 speech, Hurriyet, Sep. 24, 1998
[6] Translation of Turkish text derived from Facebook Page of anti-Islamist Muslim commentator Tarek Fatah.

Timon Dias


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The ‘No Electric Resiliency Cabal’

by Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.

Last Thursday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee convened what appeared to be a most timely – and much-needed – hearing. It’s title was “Keeping the lights on: Are we doing enough to ensure the reliability and security of the electric grid?” Unfortunately, despite abundant evidence to the contrary, the answer we got from industry and regulator witnesses and legislators alike was an unfounded, and profoundly misleading, “Yes.”

Just about everyone seemed to be toeing the line laid down by Gerry Cauley, the president of what amounts to an electric utilities trade association called the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, better known as NERC. It might as well stand for the No Electric Resiliency Cabal.

The see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil tone of the Energy Committee hearing was all the more remarkable for it coming almost exactly a year after an attack on the Metcalf transformer substation outside San Jose, California. That event demonstrated that we are clearly not “doing enough to ensure the reliability and security of the electric grid.”

After all, the Metcalf attack very nearly destroyed at least seventeen (and possibly all twenty-one) of the substation’s high-voltage transformers – assets that are indispensable building-blocks of the electric grid and effectively irreplaceable in the short- to medium-term. The effect would have been not only to turn off the lights in Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay area for protracted periods. According to the chairman of the Energy Committee, Sen. Mary Landrieu, the Metcalf assault was “the most serious attack ever” on the U.S. electricity system and reportedly came “very close to causing the shut-down of a large portion of the Western grid.”

Yet, the principal focus of the hearing seemed to be “shooting the messenger,” in this case Wall Street Journal reporter Rebecca Smith, rather than squarely addressing aspects of the grid’s acute vulnerability that she has identified in a series of front-page articles.

Specifically, the assembled legislators and witnesses spent most of their time complaining that Ms. Smith had exposed the fact that the grid had been attacked a year ago in a highly professional operation – a fact that had largely been concealed from public view. They were also distressed that she had obtained and published information obtained from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) indicating that the destruction of a small number of such substations would crater the grid.

The rest of the exchanges between legislators and those testifying – including, in addition to Cauley and other industry representatives, Cheryl LaFleur, FERC’s acting chairman – amounted to a concerted effort to “circle the wagons.” Congratulations were offered all around for the splendid way in which the energy sector has dealt with physical, cyber and other threats, promulgating standards and otherwise ensuring grid resiliency.

The only trouble is that, as the Metcalf incident demonstrated, the grid is actually far from resilient. And the so-called “private-public partnership” between FERC and NERC that is supposed to regulate the electric industry – far from working “quite well” (according to Ms. LaFleur) and “quite well” (according to Mr. Cauley) – is actually contributing to its continuing vulnerability, not eliminating it.

In fact, the electric utilities are the last major industry to operate under 19th Century regulatory arrangements. Imagine, for example, the airlines, banking system, nuclear power or pharmaceuticals being regulated by their respective trade associations. You would have situations much like we confront with NERC (which actually has responsibility for setting resiliency and security standards; the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s authority has been limited by statute to proposing regulations, not dictating them).

In practice, this has meant that, despite the self-congratulatory blather at the Senate Energy Committee hearing, such regulations as are promulgated are late in coming and generally inadequate. For example, three weeks after the Metcalf, NERC inexplicably canceled work on the development of a physical security standard for the utilities. They only got pressure from FERC to resume that effort after the Wall Street Journal broke the story of last April’s close-call.

Then, NERC cynically chose to release the draft standard at 7:00 p.m. the night before the Senate hearing. Perhaps that was because, had it been subject to close scrutiny, some Senator might have asked why, as Tom Popik of the Foundation for Resilient Societies has observed, the draft fails to require protection for the control centers that serve 140 million Americans, including many in California whose lights nearly went out – and stayed out – a year ago. FERC had specifically asked for control centers to be included but, when they can only request meaningful standards, rather than require them, what you get is substandard.

It would be good if lawmakers really were to seek honest answers to the question of whether enough is being done to keep ensure the reliability and security of the grid. If they take the word of the No Electric Resiliency Cabal, however, the American people are going to be kept in the dark about the existential threat we face due to grid vulnerability.

Given the threats from both enemies who understand all too well that vulnerability and from a sun that is due to unleash a devastating solar storm in the foreseeable future, the upshot of keeping us ignorant and, thereby, deflecting public pressure to harden the grid, may just be that we find ourselves kept in the dark permanently.

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.


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Putin's Nefarious Plans for Ukraine: Break Country apart, Dare West to stop him

by Tetyana Shvachuk

It was only a matter of time before the inevitable happened and the Russians invaded mainland Ukraine.

Despite all the cautions, warnings, and disbelief in the West, Putin has been diligently working on his own plans. His plan is to keep breaking off chunks of Ukraine – and he has nothing to lose and there is nothing to stop him.
Even in Eastern Ukraine, where there's a lot of pro-Russian sentiment, people are terrified of the full-blown Russian invasion and calling for help to stop the Russians whom they have come to call "terrorists."
So far the West has imposed laughable sanctions, which suggest they are not going to get really involved, much like the Georgian war in 2008.
This gives a clear green light for Putin to further his own agenda in Ukraine and beyond.
In just the past few days, Russian forces, some invisible and some in plain sight, have been aggressively taking control of towns in eastern Ukraine, particularly in Donbas and Lyghansk regions. They are trying to stir up the local population to support the movement to join Russia.

The outside perception – one that the Russians have worked very hard to create – is that there is wide support for this movement, but it’s not as strong as many think. Even in Eastern Ukraine, where there is a lot of pro-Russian sentiment, people are terrified of the full-blown Russian invasion and are calling for help to stop the Russians whom they have come to call "terrorists."

Tyrchunov, the acting president of Ukraine, has called Russia’s actions an act of terrorism and has set up special anti-terrorists military units.
Everyone knows, especially the Russians, that Ukraine does not have much to fight with in terms of military weapons. But if one thing is clear, it’s that the Ukrainians are ready to fight their enemy with whatever they can muster.

Audio of a tapped conversation between the Russian forces in Ukraine and their commanders in Russia has just been released, providing further proof of a planned Russian invasion and not a civil war in Ukraine, which is what the Kremlin has been calling it.
In the conversation, the leader of the organized military forces was asking his commander for more weapons and backup forces. He also told him that a mission has been successful and that they have wiped out a Ukrainian unit with very high-ranking people, but that he did not know exactly who these people were.
The commander reiterated that the whole world is watching, a clear signal not to make any moves that prove too aggressive or too obvious.
At the same time, it was obvious from the conversation that Russian forces were giving orders to take over government buildings in Ukraine, rouse fear in local populations, and destroy any Ukrainian counter-terror units.
The short-term goal of Russian involvement in Ukraine is to destroy planned talks in Geneva on April 17 between Ukraine, the U.S., EU, and Russia. During these talks, and given ample proof of Russian aggression, Russia would have to admit their wrongdoing. This would be an impossible task for Putin given his belief that Russia can do no wrong and that he is only intervening in Ukraine to protect the Russian population and act as a peacekeeper.
We know that this argument is nothing but a bold faced lie. But there is, indeed, even more to Russia’s plan. Putin wants to stop the May 25th Ukrainian presidential election from going forward.

This election signifies the loss of more of the Kremlin’s power in Ukraine – an outcome Putin simply cannot allow.
He will push for more violence, he will send in more troops. The Russian military personnel without insignia, the so-called "Green Men" who took over Crimea, are being bussed to Eastern Ukraine as I write.
The Crimean plan is unfolding across Eastern Ukraine. And while all this is going on, there is still inaction on the U.S. side as the government tries to find a dialogue that Russia will engage in, a truly fruitless task.

Tetyana Shvachuk is a Ukrainian-American political activist and writer. She is CEO of Enlightened Beauty and will be publishing her first book in 2014.


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