Friday, December 19, 2014

EU Backs Palestinian Dictatorship - Khaled Abu Toameh

by Khaled Abu Toameh

These European parliaments are also turning a blind eye to the fact that, under the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, there is no respect for the rule of law, free speech, transparency or accountability.
These Western parliamentarians are in fact acting against the interests of the Palestinians, who are clearly not hoping for another corrupt dictatorship in the Arab world.
"The situation in Palestine does not conform at all with democracy or the rule of law... Wake up and see the loss of rights, law and security." — Freih Abu Medein, former Palestinian Authority Justice Minister.
"Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] wants to concentrate all authorities in his hands and the hand of his loyalists. He's acting in a dictatorial way and wants to be in control of everything, especially the finances." — Yasser Abed Rabbo, Secretary General of the PLO.
By turning a blind eye to human rights violations, as well as assaults on freedom of expression, the judiciary and the parliamentary system in the Palestinian territories, Western parliaments are paving the way for a creation of a rogue state called Palestine.

European parliaments that are rushing to recognize a Palestinian state are ignoring the fact that the Palestinians have been without a functioning parliament for the past seven years.

The Palestinian parliament, known as the Palestinian Legislative Council [PLC], has been paralyzed since 2007, when Hamas violently seized control over the Gaza Strip and expelled the Palestinian Authority [PA].

These European parliaments are also turning a blind eye to the fact that, under the PA in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, there is no respect for the rule of law, free speech, transparency or accountability.

This week, the European Parliament also adopted a resolution recognizing Palestinian statehood in principle. A total of 489 MEP's voted in favor, while 88 were against.

Ironically, the EU Parliament vote coincided with an unprecedented crackdown by the Palestinian Authority leadership on the Palestinian Legislative Council and its secretary-general, Ibrahim Khraisheh, in Ramallah.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas ordered the arrest of Khraisheh for allegedly criticizing PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah. Following strong protests by leaders of various Palestinian factions, who described the decision as a flagrant breach of freedom of expression, Abbas was forced to backtrack.

But for Abbas, this was not the end of the story. After canceling the arrest order against Khraisheh, Abbas dispatched policemen to the parliament building in Ramallah to prevent the top official from entering the compound. The presence of the policemen at the main entrance to the parliament building drew sharp denunciations from many Palestinians.

The Palestinian Legislative Council building in Ramallah. (Image source: Alaraby)

Khraisheh was removed from his job because he dared to criticize the Palestinian government for arresting Bassam Zakarneh, head of the public employees' union in the West Bank. Many Palestinians have also denounced the arrest of Zakarneh as an assault on workers' rights and an attempt to intimidate them.

But the EU Parliament and other parliaments that voted in favor of recognizing Palestinian statehood did not see a need to comment on Abbas's measures against the PLC and one of its senior officials.

EU parliamentarians who voted in favor of Palestinian statehood are most likely unaware of what the former PA Justice Minister, Freih Abu Medein, had to say about the rule of law and order in the Palestinian Authority.

Abu Medein drew a bleak picture of what the future Palestinian state would look like. In a damning article he published last week, Abu Medein wrote: "The situation in Palestine does not conform at all with democracy or the rule of law, because the Palestinian mentality is too coarse to cope with transparency of the law and its regulators and provisions."

Abu Medein's scathing attack, which is directed first and foremost against Abbas, ended with an appeal to Palestinians to "wake up and see the loss of law, rights and security" in the areas controlled by the PA and Hamas.

The former Palestinian Authority justice minister is not the only prominent Palestinian who seems to understand that a Palestinian state under the current circumstances would be anything but democratic.

Yasser Abed Rabbo, the secretary-general of the PLO who until recently was considered one of Abbas's top confidants, was quoted last week as strongly condemning the Palestinian Authority president's "dictatorial" rule.

Referring to Abbas by his nom de guerre, Abed Rabbo said: "Abu Mazen wants to concentrate all authorities in his hands and the hands of his loyalists. He's acting in a dictatorial way and wants to be in control of everything, especially the finances. I don't know what this man wants and why he's behaving in this way. What will happen after Abu Mazen's departure?"

The parliament members of Sweden, Britain, France and Portugal who voted in favor of recognizing Palestinian statehood do not seem to care about their Palestinian colleagues, who have been deprived of carrying out their parliamentary obligations as a result of the power struggle between Hamas and Abbas's Fatah faction.

Nor do they seem to care if the Palestinian state would be another corrupt dictatorship where there is no room for the rule of law, transparency or freedom of speech.

Obviously, Western parliamentarians see no wrongdoing or evil in the actions of the Palestinian leadership and Hamas. They are prepared to vote in favor of a Palestinian state even if it does not appear to be headed toward democracy and transparency.

These Western parliamentarians are in fact acting against the interests of the Palestinians, who are clearly not hoping for another corrupt dictatorship in the Arab world. By turning a blind eye to human rights violations, as well as assaults on freedom of expression, the judiciary and the parliamentary system in the Palestinian territories, Western parliaments are paving the way for the creation of a rogue state called Palestine.

Khaled Abu Toameh


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

Muslims Must Save Islam from Islamists - Tarek Fatah

by Tarek Fatah

Muslims who claim the actions of the Taliban or ISIS are not Islamic must match this rhetoric by coming together and calling for a strict separation between Islam and politics. They must renounce armed jihad as unfit for our age.

It seems there is no respite for the ordinary Muslim. Barely a day goes by when news of fresh atrocities by our coreligionists isn't in the headlines.

Most of the world's billion-plus Muslims wouldn't dream of killing in the name of Islam, but enough do to form a critical mass that has put us on a collision course with the rest of humanity.

The Sydney siege by an ISIS-inspired jihadist had barely ended when the horrific news of a Taliban massacre killing 140 children at a Pakistani school shocked the world.

It took place at an "Army Public School", inside a Pakistan cantonment on the edges of Peshawar. Many of the students who attended this elite school were the sons and daughters of Pakistan army officers.
Most of the world's billion-plus Muslims wouldn't dream of killing in the name of Islam, but enough do to form a critical mass that has put us on a collision course with the rest of humanity.
Ironically, the Taliban barbarians who killed these children were a creation of the Pakistan military, aimed at controlling neighbouring Afghanistan as a satellite state.

Why did the Taliban strike at a military school? Could it be retaliation for the recent Pakistan army campaign to expel the Taliban out of Pakistan and into Afghanistan?

That may be one reason. But knowing the workings of the worldwide jihadist terror movement and the Islamists who sow its seeds in Islamic countries and the West, there is another: the Islamist's rejection of Western-style education systems.

The school attacked had boys and girls attending classes in what is referred to as a co-educational "English-medium" school.

The boys, smartly dressed in green blazers, white shorts and green neckties, reflect everything the Islamists despise.

And to be in the company of teenaged girls being educated at the same school would be seen as the worst of sins by those who promote Islamism, not just in Islamic countries but in Canada.

I suggest this is the "Boko Haramization" of the Pakistani jihadist movement that proclaims "western education is 'Haraam' (sinful)".

Not that the Taliban have any tolerance for educating girls —Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai being one their early victims — but this attack appears to have been aimed largely at teenaged boys.

Last month, Zahid Askani, an American-educated Baloch who ran a co-educational school, where boys and girls studied English and wore western-style jackets and neckties, was assassinated by suspected jihadist death squads with the reported backing of the military.

Muslims who claim the actions of the Taliban or ISIS are not Islamic ... must renounce armed jihad as unfit for our age.
Massacres are not new to Pakistan, or its military. In the last few years Pakistan's army intelligence wing has reportedly abducted and killed hundreds of students in the Baloch Students Organization (BSO) in Balochistan who support an indigenous independence movement.

Just a day after an ISIS-sympathizer took hostages in Sydney, Australia, leading to his own death and that of two innocent civilians, the tragedy of Peshawar provides another opportunity for Muslims to recognize we have a serious problem that only we can correct.

Muslims who claim the actions of the Taliban or ISIS are not Islamic must match this rhetoric by coming together and calling for a strict separation between Islam and politics. They must renounce armed jihad as unfit for our age.

If they don't, we will all be tarred by the actions of those who kill in the name of Islam and Allah.

The hashtag on Twitter by an Australian woman expressing solidarity with Muslims, #Illridewithyou, may please us, but it will not save us from the proverbial Dante's Inferno.

Only we can do that, no one else.

Tarek Fatah is a founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress, a columnist at the Toronto Sun, host of a Sunday afternoon talk show on Toronto's NewsTalk1010 AM Radio, and a Robert J. and Abby B. Levine Fellow at the Middle East Forum. He is the author of two award-winning books: Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State and The Jew is Not My Enemy: Unveiling the Myths that Fuel Muslim Anti-Semitism.


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Obama’s ‘Operation Choke Point’ - Arnold Ahlert

by Arnold Ahlert

“It’s appalling that our government is working around the law to vindictively attack businesses they find objectionable,” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said in a press release.

fdicAlmost unbelievably, the Obama administration is involved in another scandalous abuse of power, one that has largely escaped the public’s attention. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released a report December 8 detailing the abuses by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), operating under the auspices of a program known as Operation Choke Point. Run by the Departments of Justice and Treasury, Operation Choke Point was supposed to target illegal businesses and prevent them from obtaining access to the U.S. financial system. Yet damning emails unearthed by investigators reveal regulatory officials were motivated by personal animus toward certain businesses. “It’s appalling that our government is working around the law to vindictively attack businesses they find objectionable,” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said in a press release.

“Internal FDIC documents confirm that Operation Choke Point is an extraordinary abuse of government power,” Issa. “In the most egregious cases, federal bureaucrats injected personal moral judgments into the regulatory process. Such practices are totally inconsistent with basic principles of good government, transparency and the rule of law.”

Operation Choke Point was publicly introduced in March of 2013, when Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force Executive Director Michael J. Bresnickat bought it up in a speech at Washington D.C.’s Exchequer Club. Bresnickat assured his audience the reason the program was “focused on financial institutions and payment processors is because they are the so-called bottlenecks, or choke-points, in the fraud committed by so many merchants that victimize consumers and launder their illegal proceeds.”

Five months later, the Wall Street Journal revealed the troubling reality that one of the first targets of the program were payday lending operations. Peter Barden, spokesman for the Online Lenders Alliance, sounded the initial warning, noting government pressure forcing banks to stop payment processing “would cut off an important credit choice for millions of underserved consumers” and “send a troubling message to banks that at any point regulators can force them to stop processing legal transactions simply because they don’t like a particular merchant or industry.”

In January 2014, Issa, along with Economic Growth Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), sent U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder a letter expressing concern that “both the goal and mechanisms of Operation Choke Point may constitute a serious mismanagement and abuse of the Department’s FIRREA [Financial Institution Reform and Recovery Act of 1989] authority.”

Issa wanted answers. The DOJ felt it was under no obligation to provide them.

By the end of May 2014, Issa’s concern had morphed into outrage. He issued a report contending Operation Choke Point was so “flagrantly illegal” it was beyond legal rehabilitation. “In light of the Department’s obligation to act within the bounds of the law, and its avowed commitment not to ‘discourage or inhibit’ the lawful conduct of honest merchants, it is necessary to disavow and dismantle Operation Choke Point,” the report stated. It further noted that Holder knew about the program prior to its launch, that he knew it was aimed at targeting legal entities—and that he nonetheless fully supported its implementation. Furthermore, the report suggested that once the program became public, the DOJ may have attempted to cover up parts of its operation.

It was also discovered that Operation Choke Point had expanded beyond the payday lending industry, targeting manufacturers, distributors, and dealers of firearms and ammunition, as well as coin dealers. And it was also revealed that a January 23, 2014 deadline regarding Issa’s request for information came and went absent any indication the DOJ had fulfilled it.

Three days later, issued a report on Operation Choke Point alleging the program targeted the gun industry because Obama failed to get gun control legislation passed by Congress. If such an effort has a familiar ring, it’s because Obama has employed precisely the same Congress-bypassing tactic with regard to illegal immigration. At that time, The National Shooting Sports Foundation revealed many of its members in the firearms and ammunitions manufacturing industries had had their banking relationships wrongfully terminated by the program.

The report released Dec. 8 put the pernicious scope of the program in full perspective. Its key findings reveal the FDIC “equated legitimate and regulated activities…with inherently pernicious or patently illegal activities,” via “circular argument policymaking”–an original list of high-risk merchants were determined by FDIC, who then justified formal guidelines for banks by claiming the categories “had been previously noted”—by the FDIC itself.

The most egregious revelations centered around FDIC policymakers whose “personal animus” towards the payday industry was so intense that their senior-most bank examiners “effectively ordered banks to terminate all relationships with the industry.” An email from Thomas Dujenski, FDIC’s Atlanta regional director, to Mark Pearce, director of the Division of Depositor and Consumer Protection underscores that personal animus:
I have never said this to you (but I am sincerely passionate about this) … but I literally cannot stand the pay day lending industry … I had extensive involvement with this group of lenders and was instrumental in drafting guidance on stopping abuses.
Another damning email reveals that John Miller, Deputy Director for Policy and Research in the Division of Depositor and Consumer Protection at the FDIC, was concerned about “taking pornography” out the equation in letters about targeted businesses to Congress. The redacted writer of the email expressed his concern that lumping pornography in with online gambling and payday loan companies might make it appear that the FDIC was making “moral judgments regarding the types of businesses with which our institutions deal.” The email continues:
Jonathan heard where we were coming from but nonetheless wants to retain a reference to pornography in our letters/talking points. He thinks it’s important for Congress to get a good picture regarding the unsavory nature of the businesses at issue. He repeated that ‘one is judged by the friends one keeps,’ and he seems to feel strongly that including payday lenders in the same circle as pornographers and on-line gambling businesses will ultimately help with messaging on this issue.
If you feel there is legal argument beyond the one I made, and would like us to push back on this issue, please let me know.
The report’s conclusions are unambiguous. “The practical impact of Operation Choke Point is incontrovertible: legal and legitimate businesses are being choked off from the financial system,” it states, further noting the experiences endured by firearms and ammunition dealers “is a testament to the destructive and unacceptable impact of Operation Choke Point.” The report’s last paragraph is a testament to the corrupt nature of the Obama administration and its power-abusing impulses:
“At a minimum, Operation Choke Point is little more than government-mandated de-risking. FDIC, in cooperation with the Justice Department, made sure banks understood–or in their own language, ‘got the message’–that maintaining relationships with certain disfavored business lines would incur enormous regulatory risk. The effect of this policy has been to deny countless legal and legitimate merchants access to the financial system and deprive them of their very ability to exist. Accordingly, Operation Choke Point violates the most fundamental principles of the rule of law and accountable, transparent government.”
Last June, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) filed an amendment to the Science Justice Commerce Appropriations bill attempting to cut off the administration’s efforts to effectively shut down gun stores via Operation Choke Point. It followed the May 2014 passage of a House amendment sponsored by Rep. Blane Luetkeymeyer (R-MO) to defund the program. It was ultimately approved by 204 Republicans and 117 Democrats. An article published by Human Events on Nov. 17, 2014 indicates the program has yet to be addressed in the still Democratically-controlled Senate.

After trying several senators’ offices, FrontPage contacted a source in Washington, D.C. who requested anonymity. He made a valiant effort to find any mention of the Operation Choke Point in the recently passed $1.1 trillion CRomnibus bill funding the federal government for FY2015. The search proved unsuccessful, indicating that it is more than likely Operation Choke Point remains alive and well. It behooves a GOP-controlled Congress to kill this egregious abuse of power as one of its first orders of business next year. The American public has no use whatsoever for public officials willing to trample the law to satisfy their personal worldview. In short, it’s time to strangle Operation Choke Point.

Arnold Ahlert


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Obama rescues communism in Cuba - Thomas Lifson

by Thomas Lifson

A perfect storm was brewing that could have meant the end of communism in Cuba.  The more than half century of hemispheric Cold War was about to pay off.

And now President Obama has short-circuited this historic opportunity.

Make no mistake: an existential crisis for the communist regime of Cuba has been brewing, and President Obama has just thrown the nation a lifeline.  President Raul Castro is 83 years old, and despite the glories of socialist medicine, he is not immortal.  Brother Fidel is no longer an active political factor.  A succession crisis looms when Raul meets his ultimate fate. 

But even more immediately, Cuba’s basket-case economy is sustained by help from Venezuela and Russia.  Both nations are facing economic crises, owing to their dependence on oil exports to provide government revenues and sustain their otherwise unproductive economies.  As Silvio Canto noted on the eve of this announcement, Venezuela’s regime could well fall.  Even if President Maduro manages to keep a lid on the opposition, he will be in no position to provide economic aid to his communist brethren in Cuba.  And in Russia, Putin has a very full plate of his own, with costly military maneuvers, serious inflation, and a possible economic depression coming in the wake of catastrophic currency problems and an interest rate hike to the teens, necessary to prevent the complete collapse of the ruble.

A perfect storm was brewing that could have meant the end of communism in Cuba.  The more than half century of hemispheric Cold War was about to pay off.

And now President Obama has short-circuited this historic opportunity.  The regime is no doubt already telling its people that the Yanquis have capitulated and accepted the legitimacy of the regime.  There is no point holding out the hope of change that has been so carefully nurtured for decades. 

The hopes and prayers of Cubans yearning for freedom have been dashed.  I am old enough to recall the joy and gratitude of Eastern Europeans freed from the Soviet yoke by President Reagan’s Cold War victory.  The Cuban people will experience no such liberty, and Cuba’s communists have been given a new source of desperately needed foreign exchange and international legitimacy.

President Obama has gotten no concessions from Cuba in return for giving them what they most fondly desire and desperately need.  One can only conclude that he didn’t want any.

Thomas Lifson


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Doing Stupid Things with Iran - Ken Blackwell and Bob Morrison

by Ken Blackwell and Bob Morrison

As a result of Biden and Lugar’s hamhandedness, thousands were thrown into the Gulag. And we had to wait another decade for arms control.

The Obama administration has obviously decided to go silent on human rights abuses in Iran in hopes of concentrating like a laser on arms control. It is true that it is urgently necessary to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. The last three administrations -- Clinton, Bush, and Obama -- have agreed on that if on little else.

The operating assumption for the U.S. negotiators with Iran is that if we make a big fuss about human rights abuses -- intensifying under President Hassan Rouhani -- it will impede our ability to strike a deal on nuclear weapons.

It this assumption true? Let’s try some history. Let’s even consult some hidden history. Claire Berlinsky has given us this important study in the respected City Journal. Her article (“The Hidden History of Evil”) is based on the work of famed Russian dissident Vladimir Bukovsky. From it, we learn that Sen. Joe Biden went to Moscow with a Republican colleague, Dick Lugar, in 1979. There, the two U.S. lawmakers made a strong impression on their Soviet hosts. The United States was focused on arms control. That was our Number One goal. And, hence, human rights would have to take a back seat.
Now, the president at that time was Sen. Biden’s fellow Democrat, Jimmy Carter. And Carter was trying, sincerely if ineffectually, to advance the cause of human rights. So here was Biden in the Kremlin telling the KGB that human rights was really window dressing: What the U.S. really cares about is arms control.

We know what happened after that. The Soviets overthrew the Afghan government and invaded that distant land. They backed Communist insurgencies in Africa and Latin America. More people lost their freedom during the Carter years than at any time since China fell under Communist rule. Those suffering millions might be consoled -- if they survived his administration -- by the fact that Jimmy Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize.

As a result of Biden and Lugar’s hamhandedness, thousands were thrown into the Gulag. And we had to wait another decade for arms control.

The 1979 Biden and Lugar Mission to Moscow undercut President Carter’s message on human rights. That was something, candidly, that Carter himself did on an almost daily basis. But it had disastrous consequences for the whole course of U.S.-Soviet relations.

When Ronald Reagan entered office, a new direction was signaled. The KGB watched as he fired thousands of striking air traffic controllers. What did this domestic issue have to do with foreign relations?

Reagan’s secretary of state, George Schulz, would later say that it was his chief’s most important foreign policy decision. The KGB took note and they reported to Brezhnev and Andropov, their Kremlin bosses: “With Reagan, words are deeds!”

That sent a message to Moscow of U.S. determination and Reagan’s seriousness of purpose. When Reagan finally met with Gorbachev, in 1985, he brought a list of dissidents and unjustly imprisoned Russians. He pressed Gorbachev to release Jewish refusenik Natan Scharansky. Reagan had worked from the first days of his administration to gain freedom for the Siberian Seven, Pentecostal Christians who had taken refuge in the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.

President Reagan always linked human rights to arms control. And he built up U.S. defenses even as he put in place American Cruise and Pershing missiles. He publicly condemned Soviet oppression -- of their own people and others. He reminded Westerners daily of the suppression of religious freedom by the atheist rulers of the USSR.

In just a few years, Reagan was able to sign the largest nuclear arms reduction treaty in history. He could also celebrate the release of Scharansky, freedom of emigration for the Siberian Seven, and even the end of “internal exile” for the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Andrei Sakharov. Sakharov, the “father of the Soviet H-bomb,” had become a leading advocate for human rights in the USSR.

What have we gained from President Obama’s “Soft Power”? What has Iran done but pocket the concessions and continue on its path toward a nuclear weapon? President Obama says the hallmark of his foreign policy is “don’t do stupid things.” Then why is he persisting in this stupid policy toward Iran?

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said that “’don’t do stupid things’ is not an organizing principle for a great nation.” She was right about that. So, she immediately apologized, lest someone think she was criticizing President Obama. It was as if there was anyone else on earth who thought “Don’t Do Stupid Things” should be elevated to the level of “Don’t Give Up the Ship!”

We are doing stupid things. We are giving up the ship. This administration, for example, is failing to press Tehran on the cruel and brutal imprisonment of Pastor Saeed Abedini, an American. Thus, they show the mullahs in Tehran they can seize our embassy, imprison our people, murder our Marines and Navy Corpsmen -- and still get away with it. By ignoring the noose behind the false smile of Iran’s Hassan Rouhani, we are demonstrating for all the world that we are not serious about human rights or arms control. All the while, Iran's nuclear clock is still ticking. 

Ken Blackwell and Bob Morrison


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

Federalized Police and a Police Czar? - William F. Jasper

by William F. Jasper

The problem of police abuse will not be solved by nationalizing police authority under a federal “czar,” or by concentrating local law-enforcement agencies under a DOJ-approved Gestapo.

“We need federal intervention without delay,” declared the “Reverend” Al Sharpton, in his December 8 column for the online Huffington Post. Capitalizing on the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and other black men to centralize police powers, Sharpton announced that his National Action Network had organized a series of demonstrations, to culminate in a national march on the U.S. Congress in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, December 13.

“Congress must immediately start hearings to deal with laws that will change the jurisdiction threshold for federal cases and policing,” Sharpton insists. “The executive branch has addressed this most pressing issue, and now it’s time the legislative branch do the same.”

“When local prosecutors fail to conduct a fair grand-jury investigation at the state level, as happened in Ferguson and Staten Island recently,” says Sharpton “the threshold is so high for the federal government to be able to take over the case. That must change.... And in order for federal authorities to step in, we must reform current laws.”

What about the U.S. Constitution, the supreme law of the land, which restricts federal involvement in criminal and policing matters to a very narrow area of jurisdiction? Rev. Al cannot be troubled with such trivialities. “The state has already proven that it cannot do the job,” he insists.

On December 13, thousands of protesters joined Sharpton’s March on Washington, and tens of thousands more engaged in similar protests in New York City, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and dozens of other cities.

This past August the Congressional Black Caucus wrote a letter to President Obama insisting, “The administration must quickly establish a national commission to review existing police policies and practices.” Even more ominously, the radical Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) demanded the appointment of a national police “Czar.” The CBC letter, which was signed by dozens of celebrities, activists, and academics, demanded:

The Administration must appoint a federal Czar, housed in the U.S. Department of Justice, who is specifically tasked with promoting the professionalization of local law enforcement, monitoring egregious law enforcement activities, and adjudicating suspicious actions of local law enforcement agencies that receive federal funding.

In an ironic twist, the CBC letter validly notes that “the militarization of police departments across the country is creating conditions that will further erode the trust that should exist between residents and the police who serve them. The proliferation of machine guns, silencers, armored vehicles and aircraft, and camouflage in local law enforcement units does not bode well for police-community relations, the future of our cities, or our country.” This has been the cry, as well, of many other liberal-left activists decrying the alleged “systemic racism” in American society, and especially in our local police departments.

But, as Thomas R. Eddlem pointed out in an online article for The New American in August, “The source of this militarization is not endemic racism, however; it has been federal intervention and aid through the Department of Defense’s Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO) under the auspices of fighting the ‘drug war’ and ‘terrorism.’” LESO notes on its website,“Since its inception [in 1991], the 1033 program has transferred more than $5.1 billion worth of property.” According to LESO, more than 8,000 police agencies are currently availing themselves of military equipment from the Department of Defense 1033 program.

The federal goodies handed out under this program are transforming local police and sheriff’s departments into minions of a nationalized, federalized, centralized, militarized police force, something that has always been anathema to Americans who treasure freedom. There are, of course, many other federal programs under the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security that are also aiding this federalization process, from the FBI’s SWAT schools to various DOJ “consent decrees” and mandates.

Incredibly, though, the “progressives” who are railing the loudest against federal programs that are militarizing our police are also the same voices that are most loudly calling for further federalization of our police to cure the alleged problem of “systemic racism.”

The problem of police abuse will not be solved by nationalizing police authority under a federal “czar,” or by concentrating local law-enforcement agencies under a DOJ-approved Gestapo. Those are prescriptions for even more horrific police abuse. Our Founding Fathers had it right in determining that the most effective means of protecting the individual from oppression by government is to disperse the police power among multiple local agencies, while encouraging an armed citizenry that would serve as the ultimate check on abusive power.

William F. Jasper


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America’s Fatal Flaw in the War on Terror: Underestimating the Jihadist Enemy - Kyle Shideler

by Kyle Shideler

One of the largest problems since the beginning of the “Global War on Terror” has been the inability of U.S. policymakers to adequately understand the nature of the threat posed.

Hillary Clinton recently gave a foreign policy speech in what seems to be part of her early groundwork for an eventual 2016 Presidential candidacy.  In a speech widely panned by conservatives and foreign policy hawks, the former Secretary of State called out for more “smart power”, specifically encouraging that in the pursuit of peace the United States should be,
Leaving no one on the sidelines, showing respect even for one’s enemies, trying to understand and insofar as psychologically possible, empathize with their perspective and point of view.”
The remarks led to outrage and were called “na├»ve,” and “irrational.”

But Clinton is correct, although, admittedly, not in the way she meant. One of the largest problems since the beginning of the “Global War on Terror” has been the inability of U.S. policymakers to adequately understand the nature of the threat posed.

We have not shown respect for our enemies as Clinton demands. Instead we have minimized them as a “tiny minority of extremists,” when in reality the imposition of Shariah law-the stated raison d’etre of jihadist groups everywhere- is supported by substantial percentages of Muslim populations throughout the Middle East, Southwest and southeast Asia, and by significant percentages of Muslims in the Europe and North America.

We additionally fail to show respect by not taking our enemies and their ideas seriously. Instead we continuously assert-without evidence- that jihadist organizations, the members of Islamic State, Al Qaeda, etc. are ignorant of their own professed beliefs. We insist on this narrative even though the speakers in almost every video they produce- from the lowest AK-47-wielding foot soldiers to the highest-ranking propaganda spokesmen- remain utterly consistent in the quotation of traditional Islamic scripture, orthodox exegesis and the citation of canonical shariah jurisprudence regarding their actions.

It is we who are ignorant.

Clinton is correct as well in saying we lack empathy, the ability to put ourselves into the shoes of our opponents and understand their mindset sufficiently to know their goals, their dreams, their nature. Empathy is not something that can be outsourced to “cultural experts,” or regional allies. Instead of understanding, we super-impose our own values upon others, assuming that the sorts of things that would motivate us (access to clean water, governmental corruption, poverty etc.) automatically motivate our opponents.

As a result the United States finds itself flat-footed in attempting to comprehend, and respond to the Islamic State-for example- whose efforts to re-establish a Caliphate ruling all Muslims everywhere seems ludicrous to us, but represents a genuine dream held by millions of people around the world. That remains true, even though some of those people may also disagree with ISIS’s leader Abubakr Al-Baghdadi as the head of it.

Instead of genuine empathy, understanding the enemy as he understands himself, Clinton is proposing mere sympathy, an expression of apologetic support because it’s the “polite thing to do.”

Instead of getting into the minds of our opponents, we prefer to see them as aberrations. This is admittedly easy enough to do, with beheadings, forced conversions, sexual slavery and suicide bombings. These things seem alien to us, but they are not aberrations. They are the acts of real people with a different, but equally real, world-view. Viewing the enemy as a mere “aberration” does not lead to victory.

In the Orson Scott Card novel “Ender’s Game,” a piece of military sci-fi which remains part of the USMC Commandant’s Professional Reading List, the main character Ender, a young boy who is being prepared to lead the combined forces of the entire human race against an implacable alien enemy, says:
I don’t know anything about them, and yet someday I’m supposed to fight them. I’ve been through a lot of fights in my life, sometimes games, sometimes- not games. Every time, I’ve won because I could understand the way my enemy thought. From what they *did*. I could tell what they thought I was doing, how they wanted the battle to take shape. And I played off that. I’m very good at that. Understanding how other people think.
What Ender goes on to point out, and what Clinton’s “smart power” formulation misses, is that while understanding is essential to victory, it does not inevitably lead to peace.

Contrary to Clinton’s belief, it may be the case that a genuine understanding of the enemy- an examination of his doctrine and intentions that respects the seriousness of his commitment and the nature of his cause- does not lead to peace. It may lead to recognition that the enemy’s foundational beliefs rest on views of human nature, freedom, the relationship between God and men, and how society is meant to be organized which are fundamentally different from our own.

Hillary Clinton is right. To exercise “smart” power calls for understanding our enemies. But Clinton is wrong if she thinks that understanding the enemy obligates us to acquiesce to them.

Kyle Shideler is the Director of the Threat Information Office (TIO) at the Center for Security Policy. Kyle works to inject serious research and analysis on the subject of Islamic terrorism and Shariah law into the beltway policy discussion, by challenging false assumptions and providing fully documented resources, primary research and influential talking points


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2,000-year-old Palace Entryway Found in Judea - Arutz Sheva Staff

by Arutz Sheva Staff

Arched entry to Herodian Hilltop Palace unearthed revealing how palace was turned into memorial; evidence of Jewish revolts found on site.

Herodian Hilltop Palace entry
Herodian Hilltop Palace entry
The Herodium Expedition at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Hebrew University of Jerusalem archaeologists have discovered a massive and elaborate entryway to the Herodian Hilltop Palace at Herodium National Park in Judea, south of Jerusalem.

The newly discovered entryway is remarkable in that it features a complex system of arches on three separate levels, allowing the King and his entourage to directly enter the Palace Courtyard. Thanks to the arches, the 20-meter long and six-meter wide corridor has held up over the nearly 2,000 years since it was built at a height of 20 meters.

Archaeologists Roi Porat, Yakov Kalman and Rachel Chachy worked on the excavations that were conducted over the past year as part of The Herodium Expedition in Memory of Ehud Netzer, a project in memory of the university's famous professor who found the tomb of Herod the Great and passed away in 2010 after being wounded in a fall at the Herodium site.

According to the three archaeologists who unearthed the find, the corridor was built by King Herod (73-4 BCE) as part of his plan to turn the Herodium site into a fortress palace. However, the dig found evidence that the corridor was never actually used, as Herod apparently was aware he was nearing his death and converted the hilltop complex into a burial monument instead.

The corridor evidently was put on the back-burner at the end of Herod's reign, with a monumental stairway apparently built over it at the time. Not only was the arched corridor built over, but in fact the excavators found indications that other structures built earlier by Herod on the hill's slopes including the Royal Theater were given a similar treatment.

In fact, the only finding that was not covered over during construction was Herod's fancy mausoleum-style burial-place.

By unearthing the corridor entryway, the original Palace vestibule was also exposed in all its glory, replete with painted frescoes. Also found was evidence, such as Jewish Revolt coinage and temporary structures, testifying to how Jews fighting the cruel Roman occupation in the Great Revolt (66-71 CE) used the site.

Evidence of a later rebellion was also found in the corridor, in the form of hidden tunnels dug on the site during the Bar Kokhba Revolt (132-135/6 CE) by Jewish rebels as part of their guerilla warfare against the Romans.

These tunnels, which were partially supported by wooden beams, exited the fortress through the walls in openings hidden in the corridor.

Shaul Goldstein, Director of Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority, said that in the future the corridor will be used to allow visitors to directly access the Herodium palace-fortress in the same way Herod entered it around 2,000 years ago.


Arutz Sheva Staff


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Hillary at Georgetown: Tolerance, Empathy and Submission - Howard Rotberg

by Howard Rotberg

Tolerism reflects a moral equivalency between terrorists and victims, and even a seeming masochism where we seek out painful retribution as a kind of catharsis for our supposed misdeeds.

aunnamedIn my book, Tolerism: The Ideology Revealed (second revised edition, Mantua Books), I quote the great philosopher of the post-World War 2 era, Karl Popper, who formulated the following dilemma about tolerance (which has become known as “the Popper Paradox”):
If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. … We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.
And so, I write that excessive tolerance of the intolerant illiberals has become a full-blown ideology which I call Tolerism.   Tolerism, in my view, elevates the virtue of tolerance over the fundamental Biblical value of Justice.

Tolerism also includes a type of cultural Stockholm Syndrome, where, as in the case of some hostages or abused women, some begin to identify with their captors or abusers.

It consists often of psychological denial, and it accepts United Nations Human Rights Councils led by Iran, Syria and other leading human rights abusers. Tolerism reflects a moral equivalency between terrorists and victims, and even a seeming masochism where we seek out painful retribution as a kind of catharsis for our supposed misdeeds.  Tolerist “compassion,” especially in the work of Karen Armstrong, assumes that there is equivalency in compassion between the “frequently unkind West” and Islam — which unfortunately in its present state is not at all compassionate to Coptic Christians, Yzedis, Jews, gays, women who seek freedoms, or even minority Muslim groups like the Ahmadis.

I believe that the ideology I call tolerism is expanding ever more rapidly beyond mere tolerance and unilateral compassion.   It is now becoming an excessive empathy where the quest to share some other group’s feelings is beginning to cause our liberals to accept the false facts and illiberal values of our enemies and in fact sometimes to convert or submit to Islam.  We are seeing some young people convert to Islam and go so far as to join the forces of ISIS.  We are even seeing young Western women convert to Islam and marry men whose attitudes toward women are almost barbaric. Submission indeed.

Ms. Clinton, of course, served as Secretary of State during the Obama administration’s new Middle Eastern doctrine of giving more “respect” to the Muslim world in word and deed.  As President Obama stated in Cairo during his first major overseas appearance:
I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles – principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.
Hillary herself has a close relationship with Huma Abedin, who is connected to the Muslim Brotherhood, as are her parents.  Ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and allowing its operatives into the Obama administration would be seen as treasonous if the country was not so immersed in Tolerism.

Clinton is not apologetic in the least over her relationship with Abedin. Now that Clinton feels that she should be President at a time when Islamist threats all over the world have only increased during the Obama years, she feels that her “feminine” skills give her the special qualification to right the ship she helped to tip over during her tenure as Secretary of State.

So, in her recent speech at Georgetown University, she contended that when women participate in peace processes, “often overlooked issues such as human rights, individual justice, national reconciliation, economic renewal are often brought to the forefront.”

Clinton’s talk (for which she apparently was paid $300,000) was at the launch of the Action Plan Academy, an organization which aims to explore how countries can craft strategies to help women rise into leadership roles on security issues and provide training and workshops.

“Today marks a very important next step,” Clinton told an audience of diplomats and other officials from all over the world, “shifting from saying the right things to doing the right things, putting into action the steps that are necessary not only to protect women and children but to find ways of utilizing women as makers and keepers of peace.”

Of the hundreds of peace treaties signed since the early 1990s, between or within nations, she said, fewer than 10 percent had any female negotiators and fewer than 3 percent had women as signatories.

“Is it any wonder that many of these agreements fail between a few years?” Clinton asked, implying, without any evidence at all, that women produce better peace agreements than men.   If I was paying part of the $300,000 I would really have expected a better discussion of past female leaders like Ms. Bhutto in Pakistan (who transferred nuclear technology to North Korea), Golda Meir in Israel,  and Margaret Thatcher in Britain,  and current leaders Angela Merkel in Germany and Cristina Kirchner in Argentina. America itself has seen women leaders in security matters – former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and Condoleeza Rice (and Hillary Clinton), National Security Advisor Susan Rice, and first female Ambassador to the United Nations, Jeane Kirkpatrick.

Instead of discussing any of them, she raised the idea that two women were involved at a high level in brokering peace in the 40-year struggle between the government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and other Islamic groups in the southern island of Bangsamoro (meaning Muslim land), which has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced more than a million..

Unfortunately, whether these two women were in fact instrumental or not, the issue of the Philippines submitting to Muslim rule over areas of its impoverished, yet potentially oil-rich, south, after 40 years of conflict and the deaths of hundreds of thousands and the displacement of over a million people, is factually quite complex.  Some argue that it was external pressure that helped this second peace initiative on the same territory for which the first peace treaty failed; and most recognize that this second one is very much up in the air as to its sustainability.

Under the proposal, Islamic Sharia law would apply to Muslims in the region, but the country’s justice system would (hopefully) continue to apply to non-Muslims. The Moro group has renounced the terrorist acts of extremist groups, but at least three smaller Muslim rebel groups oppose the autonomy deal and have vowed to continue fighting for a completely separate Muslim homeland.

And one wonders, once the Muslim groups are granted jurisdiction over limited areas of government, whether this is viewed by them as a first step to future demands for full Sharia law.   But Hillary is not interested in waiting to see how it turns out before attributing it to the presence of some women working on the negotiations.

This is a complex problem that Hillary obviously simplifies for partisan political purposes, i.e. the female vote in America.  Some commentators feel that the potential natural resource riches available to foreign business concerns is what eventually pushed the Philippine Government into the deal, rather than any great feminine talents as Hillary contends.  Moreover, some believe that the United States and other Western governments have backed the autonomy deal partly to prevent the insurgency from breeding extremists who could threaten their own countries.

But the topic of feminine talents for security and diplomacy and her preference to cite Muslims as examples rather than American female icons is not the main concern caused by Ms. Clinton’s remarks.   The really scandalous part of the speech is when she cited feminine skills as a component of something she called “Smart Power” as follows (emphasis added):

“This is what we call Smart Power, using every possible tool…leaving no one on the sidelines, showing respect even for one’s enemies, trying to understand, and insofar as is psychologically possible, empathize with their perspective and point of view, helping to define the problems [and] determine a solution, that is what we believe in the 21st century will change the prospect for peace,” she said.

What does it mean for a possible future President to seek to show “respect” for one’s enemies?

Respect, according to the Oxford Dictionary is defined as “a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.”

And here is where we begin to climb down into a terrible ethical hole.   Islamists, with their history of beheadings, other murders, torture, persecution of ethnic and religious minorities, and gays, and their forced genital mutilation of young girls, their abuse of women and their general disregard for individual human rights, do not deserve our “deep admiration” and do not show any great “qualities” or “achievements” – unless your idea of an achievement is grabbing vast areas of Iraq and Syria from under Obama’s nose, without his bothering to object until it was too late.

Let’s dig a little deeper also into the whole concept of “empathy” for one’s enemy.   The idea of empathizing with the enemy was first popularized by the film, Fog of War, about former Defense Secretary in the Johnson administration, Robert McNamara, who made it one of the eleven lessons he learned. The concept of empathy is also something that has received the study of humanist psychologists, who are well-meaning in their attempts to aid interpersonal relationships and help people understand and therefore overcome misunderstandings in difficult relationships.

Howard Rotberg


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Hamas's International Triangle of Bases: Gaza, Turkey and Qatar - Yaakov Lappin

by Yaakov Lappin

"They all have their own interests. Those in Gaza have one point of view, those abroad have another. There have, in the past, been disagreements," the source said.

In recent years, the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas has developed into a truly international entity. Today, it enjoys three territorial bases of operation: Gaza, the seat of the Hamas regime, Turkey, and Qatar. 

According to Israeli intelligence estimates, each base serves a different purpose. The three branches have worked, alternatively, in harmony and in discord, together and independently, in line with the various terrorist activities they pursue.

"These are not the same leaderships," one security source said, speaking of the Hamas command structure in each base.

"Qatar is home to Hamas's political branch, headed by Khaled Meshaal. In Turkey [in the city of Istanbul], Hamas maintains a military branch headquarters, which sets up terrorist infrastructure. This headquarters is comprised partly of former Hamas prisoners who were ejected from Israel during the [2011] Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange. In Gaza, there are both military and political operatives."

Each branch plays a unique role, and relations between them fluctuate.

Hamas's headquarters in Istanbul is headed by Salah Al-Arouri, a senior figure in the military wing who is focused on rejuvenating Hamas terrorism cells in the West Bank, and using it as a springboard for orchestrating deadly attacks against Israel.

Gaza is home to the main military wing, the Ezzedin Al-Qassam Brigades, whose operatives focus on building up their offensive rocket capabilities, tunnel networks, and, like Arouri, they also seek to also set up West Bank terrorism cells.

On Thursday, Hamas held what is described as its largest military exercise since the summer war against Israel.

Gaza is also home to Hamas's political wing, headed by Ismail Haniyeh.

"They all have their own interests. Those in Gaza have one point of view, those abroad have another. There have, in the past, been disagreements," the source said.

One example of such internal conflict was the dispute between Khaled Meshaal and Hamas in Gaza over when to end the summer war with Israel. Meshaal pushed Hamas to continue the fighting, despite growing calls by Hamas in Gaza to agree to a ceasefire. The conflicting positions were partly the result of geography: Hamas in Gaza had a better real time understanding of the heavy costs Israel was inflicting on it during the fighting than the overseas Meshaal, who, from his luxurious Qatari surroundings, could afford the privilege of calling for more fighting.

Nevertheless, a basic level of cooperation and consent exists among all three branches. Saleh Al-Arouri in Turkey would not have embarked on a major mission to set up a large-scale Hamas terrorist network in the West Bank, plan atrocities against Israel, and aim to topple the Palestinian Authority and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, without approval from Khaled Meshaal and Hamas in Gaza.

Cooperation may not always be close, but it exists.

"There are connections," the security source said. "Hamas in Gaza is connected to those trying to orchestrate terrorism in Judea and Samaria. There is a circle of cooperation."

Arouri could seek and receive assistance from Gaza, as he has done, but he can also try to work independently. "There are no laws," the source stressed.

In recent months, the Shin Bet [Israel Security Agency] uncovered two intricate Hamas terror plots to inflict mass-casualty attacks on Israelis, and to weaken Fatah in the West Bank. Both were tied to Arouri.

This discovery has led Israeli defense chiefs to become more vocal about the Hamas base in Turkey.

"Hamas's terrorism headquarters are in Gaza and in Istanbul. It is unbelievable that a NATO member is hosting the headquarters of a terrorist organization in its territory," Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon told his Spanish counterpart earlier this month.

"We have stopped a coup planned by Hamas, which was organized in, among other places, its Turkish headquarters, against [PA President Mahmoud Abbas] Abu Mazen in Judea and Samaria. We saved him from this revolution. Hence, there is much significance and importance in our having freedom to operate security-wise in Judea and Samaria," Ya'alon stated.

Likewise, at the end of November, the Shin Bet and IDF announced that they had broken up a large-scale international Hamas terrorist infrastructure that was in the planning stages of multiple mass-casualty attacks, including an intended bombing of a soccer stadium in Jerusalem.

The plot included car bombings, bombing Jerusalem's light rail system, and targeting Israelis overseas.

This case illustrates the growing centrality of Istanbul to Hamas terror activities in the West Bank. Hamas's headquarters in Turkey has become a key command and planning center.

Earlier this year, the Shin Bet announced the thwarting of another large Hamas network in the West Bank, set up by Saleh Al-Arouri in Istanbul, and headed locally by a Hamas member in Ramallah.

Hamas funneled more than a million shekels [more than $250,000] to terror operatives to prepare a series of attacks, which were designed to allow it to shift attention away from Gaza, and ultimately lead to the fall of the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority, according to Israeli investigation. This would be achieved by provoking Israel into harsh responses in the West Bank, destabilizing the area and leading to the toppling of the PA.

Hamas has come a long way since the days when its founders, Muslim Brotherhood operatives in the Palestinian territories, set up indoctrination and social support centers.

Today, it is an international terrorist organization, which continues to plot new ways to murder and maim Israelis from its various bases, while it dreams of setting up a second Islamist-jihadist regime in the West Bank, as it did in Gaza.

Yaakov Lappin is the Jerusalem Post's military and national security affairs correspondent, and author of The Virtual Caliphate (Potomac Books), which proposes that jihadis on the internet have established a virtual Islamist state.


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