Friday, May 8, 2015

Is Iran Really a Partner? - Yaakov Lappin

by Yaakov Lappin

  • Iran's agenda is clear. It wishes to use its growing regional network to control the region, and use its proxies to indirectly attack any countries that stand in its way -- all the while portraying itself as a reasonable partner for the U.S. and the West in the war against the Islamic State.
  • The Islamic Republic's aggression goes largely ignored.
The international community is failing to respond to Iran's weapons and terrorism networks.

In recent years, Iran's networks have been expanding significantly, most often with deadly results for the region.

While Iran's nuclear program is the focus of intense global attention, the international community frequently overlooks the sophisticated Iranian transnational weapons smuggling and terrorism networks, currently fueling wars and instability across the Middle East.

Weapons ships disguised as cargo vessels, Iranian airlines that carry arms, and ground convoys ferrying missiles, rockets, guns, and ammunition are all used to arm members of Iran's regional network.

On March 5, 2014, Israel's Navy boarded the Klos-C in the Red Sea, and found it to be smuggling munitions from Iran to Gaza, including a large number of M-302 missiles, found concealed under bags of Portland cement. (Image source: IDF)

The lack of attention to these acts of aggression is quite startling in light of the scope of destructive influence they have, not just for the Middle East, but for international security as a whole.

Today, it is possible to look at a number of battles raging in the region; what connects them to one another in this network more often than not is the spurring influence of Iran.

The Quds Force, a shadowy elite unit of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) that operates overseas, runs the network. Iranian weapons, terror funds, military training and instructors now have more reach than ever, and the IRGC has been consolidating its presence in South America.

As a number of Middle Eastern regimes implode, leaving behind failed states and sectarian strife, Iran has taken advantage of the chaos to exert deep control over a growing number of Arab capitals, including Sana'a, Baghdad, Damascus, and Beirut -- as well as several regions in Arab countries -- and is presumably not stopping there. In Yemen, the powerful Iran-backed Shi'ite Houthi militia recently toppled the government. This proxy in Yemen could enable Iran to seize control of the crucial shipping lanes at the chokepoints on either side of the Saudi peninsula, at the Strait of Hormuz and the Bab El-Mandeb Strait.

To be sure, not all things are going Iran's way. Recent battlefield setbacks for the Assad regime are bad news for Tehran, as illustrated by a recent hasty visit by the Syrian defense minister to Iran for consultations and instructions.

Nowhere is Iranian intervention more evident than in Syria, where Iran has acted as the Assad regime's life support system, helping to fuel a conflict that has killed more than 250,000 people and created more than seven million refugees.

Iran views the Assad regime as a key regional base, and a strategic bridge to its chief proxy: Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Iran's support for Assad enables this conflict, the most deadly in the world just now, to roll on month after month. That conflict, in turn, is what has directly led to the mushrooming of radical Sunni groups, especially the Islamic State.

Iran's Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, the most heavily armed terrorist entity in the world, is fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with the Assad regime's forces. Together with Iran, Hezbollah has been trying to set up terrorist bases in southern Syria in order to initiate cross-border attacks on Israel.

Tehran has not only been using its Quds Force network to send guided missiles and rockets to Hezbollah in southern Lebanon; it has also been paying Hamas tens of millions of dollars to continue digging tunnels from Gaza into Israel, for use in future cross-border attacks to murder and kidnap Israelis.

Iran's agenda is clear. It wishes to use its growing regional network to control the region, and use its proxies to indirectly attack any countries that stand in its way -- all the while portraying itself as a reasonable partner for the U.S. and the West in the war against the Islamic State.

While the international community has largely remained silent over Iran's exuberant meddling in the region, local Middle Eastern actors threatened by these actions have been responding.

A Saudi-led Sunni coalition of Arab air forces launched an air war in recent weeks against the Houthi militia in Yemen, to try to stop their advance, so far with limited success. Houthi rebels, striking back, launched mortars and Katyusha rockets on a Saudi Arabian town this week, hitting schools and residential buildings, and forcing the Saudis to shut down a local airport.

According to international media reports, which have not been confirmed by Israel, recently the skies over Syria are said to have seen Israeli fighter jets covertly target shipments of Iranian and Syrian weapons destined for Hezbollah in Lebanon -- one of a series of alleged Israeli strikes targeting advanced arms being smuggled to Hezbollah.

Actors other than just the regional ones appear to be responding, as well. At the end of April, the US Navy confronted Iranian ships carrying weapons for the Houthis in Yemen, forcing them to turn back. As the P5+1 appear to continue weaving together a poor nuclear deal that will leave open the gates to nuclear weapons for Iran, the Islamic Republic's aggression goes largely ignored.

Yaakov Lappin  Follow Yaakov Lappin on Twitter and Facebook


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

Report: Obama may offer Saudi Arabia weapons sold only to Israel - Eli Leon, Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff

by Eli Leon, Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff

U.S. President Barack Obama prepares to host Gulf Cooperation Council at the White House and then at Camp David • "We have to make sure any transfer of weapons to anyone in the region won't undermine Israel's ability to defend itself," one official says.

U.S. President Barack Obama with Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud
Photo credit: AP

Eli Leon, Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff


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Im Tirtzu Website: The Whole Truth about the New Israel Fund - Arutz Sheva

by Arutz Sheva

Website offers all reports, position papers and updates on the activities of the New Israel Fund and the organizations it supports.

Im Tirtzu protest
Im Tirtzu protest
In Tirtzu
Grassroots Zionist student organization Im Tirtzu has launched a new website called NIF Watch. The website claims to hold all of the reports, position papers and updates on the activities of the New Israel Fund (NIF) and the organizations it supports, which have been published over the years.

According to Im Tirtzu, it also “documents the delegitimization of Israel caused by the NIF and its partners nationally and internationally.”

Among other things, the movement states, “the site shows quotations from the directors of the NIF and the heads of the organizations it supports calling for IDF soldiers to be put on trial for war crimes, calling for boycotts and sanctions against Israel, taking legal actions in court against the State of Israel, and encouraging international pressure.:

In addition, the site highlights recently published Im Tirtzu reports, including the one tracing funds from the Ramallah-based Palestinian organization that funded the reports by Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem accusing the IDF of crimes during Operation Protective Edge.

The site also holds reports from past years showing the NIF’s influence on the Goldstone Report, detailing organizations supported by the NIF that hound senior IDF commanders and security personnel abroad, and more.

In 2010, Im Tirtzu launched a campaign to expose the truth about the New Israel Fund and the effect it and the organizations it supports had on the State of Israel and its future as a Jewish state.

Matan Peleg, CEO of Im TIrtzu, said: “We are proud to launch the site to expose the real face of the NIF and the organizations it supports (B’Tselem, Breaking the Silence, Adalah, ACRI and others). The NIF works to promote the delegitimization of Israel and endangers the future of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. We will continue to do everything possible for these organizations serving as foreign agents to cease their undermining of democracy and their jeopardizing the future.”

Link to the site.

Arutz Sheva


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VIDEO: Arab Israeli Diplomat: Even if Palestinians Have a State, They Will Not be Free - Eliezer Sherman

by Eliezer Sherman

“They want others to change, forgetting that it is also they that may have to change. And without changing, even if the Palestinians will have a state, they won’t be free. To be free, you must let go of the hate”

Israeli Vice Ambassador to Norway George Deek, addresses a StandWithUs U.K. annual event. Photo: YouTube Screenshot
“Even if the Palestinians have a state, they will not be free,” declared Arab Israeli diplomat George Deek at a StandWithUs U.K. event last Thursday.

The 30-year-old diplomat from Haifa derided Palestinians for holding onto a culture of “victimhood,” which he said “robs us of our dignity.”
“They want others to change, forgetting that it is also they that may have to change. And without changing, even if the Palestinians will have a state, they won’t be free. To be free, you must let go of the hate,” he said.
Deek, who is vice ambassador to Norway, criticized the Palestinian Authority for continuing to pay salaries to Palestinian convicts in Israeli jails.
“The greater the crime, the more money you get,” he said, relaying the story of a Palestinian terrorist whose wedding costs were covered by the PA.
“The Palestinian Authority budget relies heavily on foreign donations. In the year 2012 alone, 16 percent of those foreign donation, $155 million, the money of Norwegian and British taxpayers, among others, was paid to terrorists,” he said.
He said when the Norweigian government, on his request, brought the issue up with the Palestinian government, Palestinian officials’ response was that “stopping those payments would be considered nothing less than betrayal.”
He commented on modern antisemitism in the Middle East, saying, “In Europe, Jews paid the price for not giving up their connection to their God, and in the Middle East, they pay a price for not giving up the connection to their home. An old hate is reborn with a new excuse.”
“Antisemitism is not about Jews, and nothing would be more tragic than to continue to see it as a Jewish issue,” he said.
Deek quipped that others in the Arab community, both among Israeli Arabs, Palestinians and Arabs abroad, have said that either “he’s a masochist or he doesn’t understand the reality he lives in.”
He said he is often asked, in “genuine dialogue”: “Why represent those who are considered to be your enemies. Aren’t you afraid of losing your identity? What is it you are trying to achieve?”
Indeed, his upbringing includes an extraordinary Israeli mishmash of ethnic and cultural identities. “I was a Christian Orthodox kid in a French Catholic school with a majority of Muslim students, in the Jewish country in the Arab Middle East,” he said, to audience laughter. “And nothing seemed more normal.”
And while he boasted one of the “best qualities of life” for Arabs in the region, he lamented the ever-growing persecution of Christians in the Middle East.
“Outside Israel, Easter celebrations have become a rare sight … Christians were driven out of Mosul in Iraq … [They were] put to flight in Syria. The last church in Afghanistan was destroyed in 2010. Thirty Christians were beheaded in Libya just a few days ago. And in Gaza, bishops are beaten up and Christian symbols are forbidden.”
Watch a video of Deek’s remarks below:

Eliezer Sherman


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Exclusive Translation from Hebrew: One Woman’s battle against radical Islam - Pazit Rabina

by Pazit Rabina

Translated from Hebrew by Sally Zahav

When Latifa ibn-Ziaten’s son, a French-Moroccan soldier, was murdered three years ago in a terror attack in Toulouse, she decided to track down the murderer. Since then, she has been educating Muslim youths from immigrant neighborhoods in France to know the “other” and has even visited Israel with them. “I will do anything to stop the next murderer”, she says

Latifa ibn-Ziaten from France is the missing link. Against the burgeoning European anti-Semitism she offers a way to penetrate the wall of hatred that has grown in the immigrant neighborhoods in the suburbs of Paris. Yes, she is Muslim. And no, don’t let her traditional head covering mislead you: ibn-Ziaten is deeply imbedded within the French experience. This courageous woman, by means of the NGO that she established, offers a difficult but effective way to cope long-term with the well-oiled ISIS propaganda machine. And in addition, to give the French a way to raise their eyes, to look at themselves in the mirror and say that not all is lost for the republic. 

How did it all begin? Until three years ago Latifa ibn-Ziaten was an anonymous woman from Morocco who immigrated to France at a young age, became a citizen, married, started a family and quietly, contentedly, reared five children. The process of socialization for her and her family reached a highpoint when her eldest son Imad enlisted in the French army and took a paratroopers’ training course. In a photograph with a red beret it’s difficult to tell the difference between him and an IDF soldier.

And then everything exploded. In March 2002, Muhammad Merah, an unemployed youth from Toulouse, undertook a murderous mission. Merah, the son of an immigrant family from North Africa with a criminal past, returned to France after a long journey in Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Middle East and Bosnia. During his travels he became radicalized in al-Qaida training camps, where he was trained for the murderous attack in Toulouse. His first victims were two soldiers in the town of Mountauban, near Paris. One of them was Imad, ibn-Zaitan’s son. Merah, riding on a motorcycle, shot him and his friend point blank. 

What happened there in the moments before the murder is well known. The terrorist Merah’s Go-Pro camera, mounted on his chest, documented everything exactly in chilling detail.

“Are you a soldier?” he asked Imad, “Are you in the army?” he did not wait for an answer.
“Lie down – face down”, he commanded.

Imad did not move.

“I am not joking with you”, the armed Merah screamed at him. “Face down”.

But Imad refused.

“I am not going to lie face down” Imad responded finally. “If you mean to shoot me, go ahead, shoot”.

A second afterward a shot was heard. Imad fell to the ground lying in a pool of his blood. In the recording were heard calls of “Allahu Akbar” again and again and more gunshots, and then Merah turned the motorcycle around and fled the scene.

At this point, the police already knew about Merah, the motorcycle and the weapon. He was also being tracked by French intelligence. But they had not connected the dots in time. In the pursuit that was initiated following the murder of the soldiers – Merah was ahead of them. Two days afterward he had already identified the next target. His victims were five Jewish children of the Torah Treasure School from Toulouse. Merah ambushed them outside of the gate of the school and shot them one after another. 

This week, three years and two months after the murder in Toulouse, I met ibn-Ziaten at a reception in her honor in the house of Patrick Maisonnave, the French ambassador in Israel. The atmosphere on the balcony by the sea in Yaffo was almost like home. We shook hands. She proved to be an impressive woman of disarming simplicity and a way with words. 

This is her second visit to Israel, this time, in connection with the Imad ibn-Ziaten for the Youth and Peace NGO, which she established in memory of her son. She was accompanied by 17 children and youths, the youngest of them nine years old. All of them are children of French immigrant families. Their educational journey in Israel was entitled “Living Together”. A sort of “Birthright” journey – but in the opposite direction: its goal is to bring the message back to Europe, to penetrate the immigrant neighborhoods, the wall of ignorance, hatred and crime by means of the direct experiences that they were exposed to during the visit.

Easy prey in the neighborhoods

This journey to Israel is the climax of a deep personal process that began forty days after the murder of her son Imad, ibn-Ziaten explains. “I felt then that I could no longer sit at home. I had to get to the place where I Imad was murdered and to memorialize him in some way. A friend suggested that I establish an NGO”, she recalls.

“My husband and the children did not want me to go to the place, but I insisted”, ibn-Ziaten recounts. “I came there but did not find anything except a blood stain. I felt a terrible emptiness. I screamed. I yelled loudly.  I hoped that someone would come. A policeman, perhaps. Maybe a taxi driver. No one came. At that moment I felt that I must see where Muhammad Merah came from. Where the one who murdered my son grew up”.

Ibn-Ziaten continued and described how she came to the immigrant neighborhood where the one who murdered her son lived. “I searched and I asked about Muhammad Merah. And then some youths approached me and said to me: ‘Say, don’t you read the newspapers? Don’t you know who Muhammad Merah is? He is a martyr. He is a shaheed. He is a hero. He got France back on her feet”.

“At that moment”, ibn-Ziaten acknowledges, I felt that they were murdering Imad again. I turned to these youths and said: ‘Merah murdered my son’, and they answered me: ‘We are sorry that you are Imad’s mother. If Muhammad had known that Imad was Muslim, he would not have murdered him’. I answered them ‘Muslim or not – you don’t take someone’s life. Muhammad Merah was no martyr and no hero. He was a murderer’. Their answer was: ‘But France has forgotten us. France has not given us anything”.

Shocked and hurting, ibn-Ziaten decided that she must do something. I decided that I must work with these youths to prevent the next Muhammad Merah. I understood that I must help them so that there would not be another mother to feel that pain that I feel today”.

What is the main problem of these youths that would create the next murderer?

 “These youths come from broken families, some are criminals; they have no values and no education. When I came to France at the age of 17 from Morocco, we were a poor family but rich in values. I brought up five wonderful children.  But the children in the immigrant neighborhoods did not get the warmth, the love and the education that Imad and my children had. They grow up in a ghetto of immigrants with the feeling that they have no place in French society. They say that when they go out, they are checked all the time and are asked for their identification card. They feel that they are suspected and disparaged”.

Ibn-Ziaten explains that this situation is fertile ground for the development of the next murderer. “When people grow up without education, with a feeling of deprecation and when there is no joy in their hearts – it is very easy to fill them with hatred. They are easy prey for someone who wants to penetrate their hearts and spread hatred. That’s why we must work with them from a young age. To open the immigrant neighborhoods to the wider world and break down the wall of hatred before it is built”.

After three years of living this matter personally, can you identify the moment when Muhammad Merah became a murderer?

“Yes. The moment when he was put into French prison.  This is where he became radicalized. French prison is a dangerous place. The young people who are put in prison find themselves totally alone, they almost don’t sleep, they go mad, they are exposed to hatred in the prison and when they leave it they are much more dangerous to society”.

Battling ignorance

Ibn-Ziaten’s assessments are the same conclusions that the French authorities came to following the slaughter of the editorial staff of Charlie Hebdo and the carnage at the kosher market in Paris. That indeed, the main process of radicalization that the attackers, Amedy Coulibaly and the Kouachi brothers underwent, had its roots in the French prison. That is where they also became acquainted with each other and were exposed to the indoctrination of hatred from Islamist preachers. The process that ibn-Ziaten is now trying to inculcate, is not only intended to prevent them from getting to prison, but also to provide them with social tools to become acquainted with the “other”, Israel and the Jews and to immunize them before they are exposed to the malignant hatred. And this is not at all simple to do. Arthur Butbul, who immigrated to Israel two years ago from France, and studies today in the Mikve Yisrael school, met ibn-Ziaten’s delegation of children, who are children of French immigrants. “These are totally normal children”, he says, “but even they did not know anything about Israel. Nothing at all. They had never heard about Operation Protective Edge, hadn’t heard about the tunnels, did not know what kassam rockets are. They thought it is a desert here, that Israelis are all racists, that there is segregation between Jews and Arabs and that Israelis are busy all day long killing Palestinians. From their point of view, everything is Gaza. This is what they absorb from their surroundings, especially from television. The visit here has opened their eyes and has done them only good”, says Butbul. 

It was a complex journey for those youths. Along with a meeting people of their own age, they also visited the Western Wall, Yad vaShem, the Temple Mount and the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. Their exposure to the Palestinian side was important and proved itself – especially so that they would see with their own eyes that the reality on the ground is different and much more complex than the one-dimensional mental picture that had been built up in their minds before the visit here.

I asked them if they would like to visit again. “Of course”, they answered, “It’s fun here”. On their return, the youths are expected to go from school to school and talk about what they saw. This is no small thing. They are now small soldiers in the war against ignorance and anti-Semitism and for tolerance. In Israel of 2015, which does not enjoy the kind of public relations benefits of Israel in 1948, Exodus, Paul Newman and the romantic idea of the kibbutz – it is a big thing. It is indeed a big thing.

The past three years have not been easy for Latifa ibn-Ziaten. Her work has taken her all over France and beyond. This process has also created a sense of closeness between ibn-Ziaten and the Jewish community. Last January, after the shooting attack at Charlie Hebdo and the kosher market, when France was shaken to the depths of its soul, one of the emotional high points was the candle lighting in a Paris synagogue. Two women lit 17 Candles were lit in memory of the victims. One of them had a traditional Jewish head-covering and the other had a traditional Muslim head-covering. The first was Eva Sandler, whose husband Yonatan and two sons, Aryeh and Gavriel, were murdered by Muhammad Merah. The other woman, the Muslim one, was ibn-Ziaten. She had planned to fly that week-end to Morocco to a sport event on behalf of handicapped children, but she ultimately chose to participate in the memorial ceremony.

Do you see Muhammad Merah as the first in a series of terrorists from what we today call ISIS?

It doesn’t matter. At that time, we did not know what ISIS is. We still don’t know the word ISIS. Then, there was al-Qaeda, today there is ISIS. We must be careful; we must close ranks and work with all our strength against radicalization and barbarism”. 

Pazit Rabina

Source: Makor Rishon Newspaper, Yoman section, issue 925, 1-5-2015, pg. 10

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Hamas-Fatah face-off leaves hard road ahead for Palestinians - Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff

by Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff

Nearly a year since the signing of the Hamas-Fatah "national reconciliation" deal, the two groups are no nearer to bridging their differences and tackling the challenges Palestinians face • Fatah official: Hamas does not want division to end.

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and PA President Mahmoud Abbas meet in Gaza in 2007
Photo credit: Reuters

Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff


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The Cartoon Wars - Douglas Murray

by Douglas Murray

  • It is most important to keep on challenging these would-be censors, so that people with Kalashnikov rifles do not make our customs and laws.
  • One of the false presumptions of our time is that people on the political left are motivated by good intentions even when they do bad things, while people on the political right are motivated by bad intentions even when they do good things.
  • When people prefer to focus on the motives of the victims rather than on the motives of the attackers, they will ignore the single most important matter: that an art exhibition, or free speech, has been targeted.
  • It does not matter if you are right-wing or left-wing, or American, Danish, Dutch, Belgian or French. These particularities may matter greatly and be endlessly interesting to people in the countries in question. But they matter not a jot to ISIS or their fellow-travellers. What these people are trying to do is to enforce Islamic blasphemy laws across the entire world. That is all that matters.
ISIS appears to have inspired its first terrorist attack in the United States: in Garland, Texas. This item may have slipped the attention of many people because as is so often the case today, much of the reporting and commentary has got caught up on other, supplementary issues.

The supplementary issues are first, that the attack targeted a competition set up to show images of what people thought Muhammad may have looked like. Then, there is the identity of the people who organized the exhibition and spoke at it.

Bosch Fawstin (second from left), the cartoonist who won the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest in Garland, Texas this week, is presented with his prize by (from left to right) Robert Spencer, Geert Wilders and Pamela Geller. (Image source: Atlas Shrugs blog)

Before coming to this, let us just return to that main issue. Since January, the idea that ISIS-like groups can inspire people to carry out murderous attacks in Paris and Copenhagen has come to be accepted. But that this can happen in Texas, of all places, could yet have an even worse "chilling effect" on free speech than the attacks in Paris and Copenhagen. No European country has the constitutional commitment to free speech of the United States. And Texas is not stuck in the moral relativism and fearful multiculturalism of most European countries.

There will be a feeling, post-Garland, that if ISIS can strike in Texas, it can strike anyplace. The entire developed world is therefore a potential site for an attack from ISIS. Although no one will put his hands up and surrender, neither will anyone be likely to draw attention to himself by saying or doing anything that might displease such homicidal censors.

The presence of strong security forces clearly helps to prevent attacks, but it is worth remembering that ISIS will use the opportunity of such "failed" attacks to come up with other ways of operating, which they will judge more likely to succeed.

What is most striking, however, is how silent many of the usual defenders of free speech have been.

Undoubtedly this is partly to do with the idea, becoming ingrained, that if you draw Mohammed or publish such images, you have, in some way, got it coming to you. This is an appalling pass to have come to, but it is in just such way that censorship and self-censorship are allowed to embed themselves.

Very few people say that they will not draw a historical figure because they are scared. But attack by attack, the feeling is growing among the majority of the media and others who have declined to publish such images, that they have failed. So to hide that shame, they tell themselves there is something provocative and even irresponsible in challenging people who would challenge the freedom speech.

One might still get the support of those who cherish free speech if one were accidentally to publish a cartoon of Mohammed, but not if you did so deliberately, and in full knowledge of the consequences. But of course, it is precisely after facing the consequences of challenging these would-be censors that it is most important to keep on challenging them, so that people with Kalashnikov rifles do not make our customs and laws.

As people come up with ever more elaborate ways to justify what they probably know in their hearts to be contemptible, it becomes harder and harder for them to change course.

Then there is the other only-occasionally-spoken-about supplementary issue, which may well be at the root of the difference between the assaults in Europe and the response to the attempted Texas assault. The January massacre at the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo undoubtedly woke up a portion of the general public in the West because the victims were cartoonists and editors at a "left-wing" magazine. That is, Charlie Hebdo stood for a type of robust secular, anti-establishment type of French politics, which a portion of the left worldwide could recognize as its own.

This stands in contrast to the comparative lack of solidarity after threats to the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, in the wake of the 2005 Mohammed cartoons affair. To varying degrees, Jyllands-Posten was described as a "conservative" paper. In this context, unsure whether "conservative" meant anything from "establishment" all the way to "racist," there was often suspected to be some dark, ulterior motive for publishing cartoons of the founder of Islam.

There is, however, no escaping such smears. Plenty of people proved willing, in the wake of the Paris attack, to smear the murdered cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo as far-right-wing or racist.

The organizers at the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, are not left-wing journalists but conservative activists; and because the Dutch politician Geert Wilders spoke at the opening of the exhibition, that added a layer of complexity for people who like labeling actions with political valences, rather than just seeing actions as apart from them. It seems clear, however, from the pattern of condemnations on one side and silence on the other, that a cartoonist may be worthy of defense if he is associated with a left-wing organization, but not if he is associated with a right-wing one.

Of course, this idea goes to one of the false presumptions of our time: ­that people on the political left are motivated by good intentions even when they do bad things, while people on the political right are motivated by bad intentions even when they do good things. So a cartoon promoted by Charlie Hebdo may be thought to be provocative in a constructive way, whereas one promoted by AFDI can only be thought if as being provocative in an unconstructive way. Whether people are willing to admit it or not, this is one of the main problems that underlies the reaction to the Texas attack.

Such a distinction is, needless to say, a colossal mistake. When people prefer to focus on the motives of the victims rather than on the motives of the attackers, they will ignore the single most important matter: that an art exhibition, or free speech, has been targeted. The rest is narcissism and slow-learning.

It does not matter if you are right wing or left wing. It does not matter if you are American, Danish, Dutch, Belgian or French, or whether you are from Texas or Copenhagen. These particularities may matter greatly and be endlessly interesting to people in the countries in question. But they matter not a jot to ISIS or their fellow-travellers. What these people are trying to do is to enforce Islamic blasphemy laws across the entire world.

That is all that matters. If we forget this or lose sight of it, not only will we lose free speech, we will lose, period. 

Douglas Murray  Follow Douglas Murray on Twitter


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

It's Time for a New Free Speech Movement on Campus - Bonnie K. Snyder

by Bonnie K. Snyder

In half a century, astonishingly, we’ve come full circle and achieved the exact inverse of what the Free Speech Movement claimed it intended. What began as lawless civil disobedience now exploits campus regulations to rescind from others the same rights these erstwhile campus radicals once demanded for themselves.

As the 2014-2015 school year draws to a close, it’s worth noting a significant anniversary in higher education that’s gone largely unnoticed by the majority of the press and broadcast media. It’s been 50 years since University of California Berkeley student Mario Savio, protesting university crackdowns on political advocacy by student organizations, famously climbed the steps of Sproul Hall and gave his impassioned speech that defined the original Free Speech Movement.

“We're human beings!” he famously implored,
“There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious -- makes you so sick at heart -- that you can't take part. You can't even passively take part. And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.” 
He descended the steps a legendary hero of the left and the modern politicized university environment was born.

Since then, we’ve seen five continuous decades of increasing and unrelenting progressive policies taking root and reaching full flower in academia. The result, unfortunately, is anything but “free speech.” Instead, we have achieved the absolute antithesis of what Savio once championed: the enforcement of political correctness, speech codes, trigger warnings, free speech zones, safe zones, and the suppression of arbitrarily-labeled “hate speech” or anything that supposedly offends someone or deviates from the current hegemonic political orthodoxy.

In half a century, astonishingly, we’ve come full circle and achieved the exact inverse of what the Free Speech Movement claimed it intended. What began as lawless civil disobedience now exploits campus regulations to rescind from others the same rights these erstwhile campus radicals once demanded for themselves. In other words: the oppressed have become the oppressors. Talk about Freudian reaction formation!

Today, at college campuses across the country, we regularly read of bullying, intimidation, shouting down opposing points of view, and dis-invitations delivered to accomplished speakers representing unpopular views. Examples of free speech outrages in academia are legion. Here are but a mere smattering from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s legal case website: Marquette University Faculty Member Facing Loss of Tenure for Opinions on his Blog; Pro-Palestinian Group Fined for “Offensive” Political Expression; Unconstitutional Punishment of Sorority Over “Inappropriate” Theme Party; Citrus College student threatened with removal from campus by an administrator for asking a fellow student to sign a petition protesting NSA surveillance of American citizens.

Without delving into the details of these individual cases, the overriding principle is clear and sacrosanct: free speech rights exist precisely to defend unpopular speech. Popular speech, after all, needs no defending. On campuses across the country today, the freedom to speak one’s mind has been redefined as the freedom to repeat the tired, worn, passionless, approved slogans of the powers-that-be, or else.

Or else, what? The answer seems to be the sort of shame, scorn, derision, shunning, “outing” and finger-pointing that terrifies young adults desperate to fit in, and which we saw exhibited at Oberlin College last week as campus feminists hung posters naming individual students who sponsored a talk by Christina Hoff Sommers as being perpetuators of “rape culture.”

The original campus agitators weren’t afraid of the consequences of civil disobedience. Where is that same passion and courage among today’s undergraduates? College students seeking inspiration and a worthy, necessary cause to believe in and march for need look no further than the first major campus protest movement. It’s time for a new, revived Free Speech Movement on campus, to finally establish and uphold the principles promoted by the first, unfinished movement.

To combat the steady erosion of our liberties, political scientist Charles Murray, in his soon-to-be-released book By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission, argues that the time has come for citizens to reclaim their protected right through targeted acts of civil disobedience by challenging out of control enforcement by overzealous and overreaching authority, supported by the strategic use of legal defense funds. In other words, it’s time to go ahead and make a federal case of it. It certainly sounds like an idea whose time has come.

The worst part of the suppression of free speech on a college campus is that it completely subverts the process of education itself. As William F. Buckley asserted, “The antidote to bad speech is more speech.” If you don’t like what someone else has to say, by all means, refute it vociferously and eloquently, in your own words, at interminable length, if you wish. That’s how you develop your rhetorical abilities and persuade other people that your ideas have merit. Robert Frost once observed that, “Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper.” If so, then the number of temper tantrums erupting on campuses nationwide indicates that few are being truly educated there.

The back-and-forth, point-counterpoint that is at the heart of the intellectual dialectic is foundational to the development of the reasoning capacity in a sound-thinking person’s mind. It’s how we sharpen our wits and come to understand the flaws of our own arguments. Students certainly don’t hone their debating skills cowering in a “safe zone” with their hands over their ears.

Without someone to play devil’s advocate, all that exists is repetition and memorization: the heart of indoctrination. This is precisely what Mario Savio and his fellow Berkeley students railed against. You can’t silence one side of an argument without silencing half of your own brain. The true meaning of liberalism is being open to considering ideas. It’s time to reclaim that spirit and launch a New Free Speech Movement on campus, to roll back the excesses of the last one and fully realize its original promise.

Mario Savio passed away in 1996, but his legacy deserves to be carried forth by this generation of college students to a fuller, uncorrupted expression. Where is today’s Mario Savio? Opportunity is calling. Underclassmen today face a prime opportunity to make higher education history again. Speak up, organize, assert your constitutional rights, and maybe future generations will be reading about your impassioned speeches in defense of the First Amendment 50 years from now, and you can join the celebrated ranks of prior patriots like Patrick Henry and Mario Savio.

Then, the dream of the original Free Speech Movement may actually be fully achieved. 

Let me conclude with Savio’s own prophetic concluding words, “-- we'll do something which hasn't occurred at this University in a good long time! We're going to have real classes up there! They're gonna be freedom schools conducted up there! We're going to have classes on [the] 1st and 14th amendments!! We're gonna spend our time learning about the things this University is afraid that we know! We're going to learn about freedom up there, and we're going to learn by doing!!”

It’s a beautiful vision. The time to act on it is now.

Bonnie Snyder is a graduate of Harvard College where she saw and experienced the suppression of free speech on multiple occasions. She is a doctor of Higher Education and the author of The New College Reality and The Unemployed College Graduate's Survival Guide.


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