Saturday, January 9, 2016

Hezbollah’s Dangerous Game - Ari Lieberman

by Ari Lieberman

The fate the next Lebanon war spells for Iran’s troublesome regional proxy.

On January 4, Iran’s Shiite Lebanese mercenary force, Hezbollah, detonated a large explosive device on the Lebanon-Israel border in the Mount Dov region. Their target was a pair of Israeli D-9 armored bulldozers clearing the area of brush and other obstructions. There were no Israeli casualties.

Israel had anticipated an attack from Hezbollah following its liquidation of Samir Kuntar – the notorious child-killer turned Hezbollah commander – and other senior pro-Assad mercenaries in a Damascus suburb on December 19, 2015. Israel’s Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot warned Hezbollah of “harsh” consequences if the group decided to initiate a terror attack to avenge Kuntar.

The attack itself accomplished nothing. The heavily armored D-9 bulldozers were able to withstand the blast. In an effort to bolster its image and play to a demoralized constituency, Hezbollah claimed that the attack targeted a senior Mossad official and wounded some Israelis. The claim of course was false but demonstrates Hezbollah’s desperation.

In July and August of 2006, Israel and Hezbollah fought a 33-day war. Hezbollah propagandists tried to spin the war as a Hezbollah victory but the reality on the ground was quite different and the war in fact, represented a major strategic victory for Israel. Hezbollah lost between 600 to 1,000 fighters and much of its infrastructure, painstakingly constructed with Iranian and North Korean assistance, was destroyed. Most importantly, the war established Israeli deterrence and imposed new rules on Hezbollah. The group could no longer rely on a predictable, measured Israeli response to border provocations. Instead, the new rules meant that Israel could and would respond with overwhelming force to any provocation.

The most telling account of the conflict came from none other than Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah, who noted that he would have never initiated the terror attack that preceded the conflict had he known of the Israeli response beforehand. Indeed, since 2006 Israel’s Lebanon border experienced a quiet not witnessed since the early 1960s.

Following the conflict, Hezbollah, in anticipation of the next round, began a period of reconstruction and rearmament. Financed by Iranian petro dollars, it acquired sophisticated anti-tank missiles and cruise missiles and increased its rocket arsenal from 12,000 to over 100,000. Some of these rockets are said to be capable of hitting targets south of Tel-Aviv.

Most of the weapons were either transported overland through Syria or sent directly to Beirut International Airport, where Hezbollah operatives maintain complete control. These weapons transfers represented a clear violation of UN Resolution 1701 but the Western component of the UN had no stomach to challenge the Syrian-Iranian-Hezbollah Axis of Evil and the Muslim component either didn’t care or actually supported it.

The Syrian civil war which broke out in 2011 jeopardized Hezbollah and Iranian strategic interests. Syria was essential for Hezbollah’s resupply efforts and represented a critical link for Iran’s outlet to the eastern Mediterranean. Both Hezbollah and Iran could not afford to lose Syria and both invested heavily in propping up the Assad regime. It is a virtual certainty that but for their support, Assad would have been overthrown long ago.

As Assad’s army shrunk due to defections, desertions, attrition and draft evasion, Hezbollah’s involvement grew steadily, and with its increased involvement came increased casualties. It is estimated that as many as one-third of Hezbollah’s frontline fighters have been killed or injured and many more are simply refusing to fight. Iran is experiencing similar problems losing several senior commanders, including generals, and facing mutinous soldiers refusing to fight in a war far from home.

Meanwhile, while Hezbollah is stuck in Syria’s quagmire, the Israel Defense Forces continues to prepare for the next round that is sure to come. The IDF has been intensifying military exercises simulating battlefield conditions that soldiers would most certainly face in Lebanon and continues to gather intelligence on Hezbollah utilizing both electronic surveillance and human intelligence (HUMINT). Israel’s intelligence forces have been successful in penetrating the highest echelons of Hezbollah’s command structure.

A special commando unit, composed of hand-picked soldiers from other elite units, has been formed specifically to deal with the Hezbollah menace. The armored forces have been upgraded as well. Merkava tanks and Namer armored personnel carriers are now fitted with special anti-rocket defense shields like the Trophy and Iron Fist systems. These are active defense systems capable of destroying any missile in midair before the projectile reaches the vehicle’s armor. Both platforms are battle-proven and are effective against both Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPG) and anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM).

Israel’s 2014 Gaza campaign in which Israeli forces destroyed some three-dozen Hamas tunnels has prompted Israeli military planners to invest in anti-tunneling technologies and methods. Combat engineers are training for contingencies involving networks of tunnels crisscrossing South Lebanon.

To deal with Hezbollah’s rocket and missile menace, Israel has developed the Arrow, David’s Sling and Iron Dome missile defense systems with the latter proving itself in battle, having over a 90% successful rate of interception. Another system designed to shoot down mortar rounds is currently in development.

But the Israelis are not merely relying on defensive measures. Military intelligence has already mapped out thousands of targets which will be struck in the first days of the war. During the Second Lebanon War, the Israeli Air Force succeeded in destroying Hezbollah’s entire long-range missile capabilities in just 34 minutes.

Israel will not rely solely on its vaunted air force to destroy the missiles. The Second Lebanon War proved that the enemy must be denied territory from where it could launch its rockets. Therefore, an offensive strategy has been devised aimed specifically at acquiring territory so as to deny the enemy a platform from which it could launch its weapons.

Israel has also been carefully monitoring Hezbollah’s activities in Syria. The terror group has been keen on taking advantage of the lawlessness in Syria to transport sophisticated weaponry into Lebanon and set up bases of operations near Israel’s Golan Heights but Israel has conveyed to both Iran and Hezbollah by word and deed that it will not tolerate such nefarious activities.

The attack that killed Kuntar underscores this point. Kuntar was active on the Golan front attempting to foment anti-Israel attacks. He paid for his maleficence with his life. A more dramatic attack last year by Israel killed 12 Iranian and Hezbollah operatives near the Golan Heights including Jihad Mugniyeh son of the infamous Imad Mugniyeh as well as Gen. Mohammad Ali Allahdadi, a ranking Iranian officer and ballistic missile expert who was said to be indispensable to Iranian operations in Syria and Lebanon. The group was planning to open up a new front against Israel before Israel pre-empted them.

Israel has also on multiple occasions intercepted and destroyed shipments of sophisticated weapons to Hezbollah including SA-22 anti-aircraft missiles, Scud D ballistic missiles and Yakhont cruise missiles. Israel rarely acknowledges attacks in Syria but this taboo was broken when Israel’s foreign ministry director Dore Gold informed a Saudi publication that Israel had foiled numerous arms transfers to Hezbollah.

The revelation was notable not only because it exposed hitherto unacknowledged Israeli military activity in Syria, but also because it revealed a warming of ties between Israel and moderate Sunni states who regard Iran and Hezbollah as malign regional forces that need to be checked.

The Saudis have watched the Obama administration vacillate and capitulate to Iranian dictates and are seeking reliable partners to thwart the Shiite menace. They have completely transformed their regional outlook from viewing Israel as a hated enemy to that of a formidable and reliable partner. When the next round comes –and it will come – expect the Saudis, Egyptians and other moderate Arab states to cheer on the sidelines as Israel blasts Hezbollah into oblivion, checks Iran’s hegemony and restores Lebanon’s sovereignty.

Ari Lieberman is an attorney and former prosecutor who has authored numerous articles and publications on matters concerning the Middle East and is considered an authority on geo-political and military developments affecting the region.


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Will 2016 Be the Year of Abbas Diplomacy? - A.J. Caschetta

by A.J. Caschetta

The PLO never stopped being the PLO, and it never adhered to Oslo.

Any early-January look ahead to the year in international politics would be incomplete without acknowledging the boldest diplomatic move of the year just ended. That move came when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas stole the spotlight from far more visible diplomats John Kerry, Mohammed Zarif and Sergey Lavrov by threatening unilateral withdrawal from the Oslo Accords. Speaking to the United Nations' General Assembly on September 30, Abbas announced, "We cannot continue to be bound by these signed agreements." His speech was met with skepticism, laughter and counter-threats, but also a serious question: "When did the Palestinian Authority ever adhere to the Oslo Accords?"

After its September 1970 (Black September) defeat in Jordan, the PLO was sent north, where it precipitated Lebanon's downward spiral from Mediterranean vacation spot to war zone. After their defeat in 1982 by Israeli forces, PLO leaders were mercifully allowed to leave Lebanon for Tunisia, where they remained in exile for over a decade.

The series of agreements collectively known as the Oslo Accords allowed the exiled PLO leaders to return from Tunisia and conferred legitimacy upon them as ministers of the Palestinian Authority. Their promise of a new moderation was rewarded with billions of dollars and euros from the international community. In return for money, recognition as diplomats and territory, PLO leaders agreed to refrain from terrorism against Israel and to crack down on Hamas and other Islamic terrorists operating from the PA-administered territories. They did neither. In fact, terrorism against Israelis by Palestinians increased after Oslo. Prior to Oslo, Palestinian terrorism consisted of hit-and-run attacks, airplane hijackings, sniper fire, and knife attacks (now back in vogue). The operational security conferred by Oslo brought about the era of suicide bombing – not just from Hamas and Islamic Jihad, but from PA/PLO-affiliated groups such as the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, Tanzim and even the PFLP.

Under Oslo, the PLO was supposed to amend its charter and become the non-violent PA, Israel's purported peace partner. But this was a charade. The PLO never changed its ways. It pretended to crack down on Hamas when necessary, but allowed, and even orchestrated, suicide bombings against Israelis. It pretended to accept the existence of Israel, but when Arafat thought no one was watching, he continued to push for the murder of Israelis. The PLO never stopped being the PLO, and it never adhered to Oslo.

Abbas' peculiar initiative deserves recognition for its originality. In his efforts to wrest further concessions from Israel, Mahmoud Abbas (a/k/a/ Abu Mazen) may in fact have spawned a bold and novel strategy, unknown in the history of diplomacy: threatening to stop doing what one has never actually done. If the scheme succeeds, 2016 might bring other bewildering developments.

Assuming the rest of the UN is as inspired by Abbas' speech as the General Assembly was, the Human Rights Council (HRC) might soon lobby for a budget increase, threatening to stop protecting Israel from unwarranted harassment if it does not receive at least a 10% increase. The UNRWA might do the same, threatening to end its scrupulous investigations into the off-duty activities of its employees (none of whom are Hamas members, naturally).

Sensing a trend, eternal Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat might adopt the Abbas diplomacy in his fight over Israeli tax payments to the PA, threatening non-compliance with an end to the half-century pattern of compromise that has served as the guiding principle of the PLO.

Executives at the Gaza Civil Works Authority might use the tactic to gain more access to Western technology and free raw materials. If they don't get their way, they can threaten to halt the ongoing construction of sewers, roads and factories and instead spend the billions of dollars in aid from the world on the construction of un-civil works that might be used for belligerent activities.

With his eye always on achieving full EU membership for Turkey, Recip Tayyip Erdogan might look to speed up the process by threatening to move away from the reforms instituted by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk – reforms he has fought so hard to uphold – if the decision doesn't come soon.

The Saudis might take to the idea, too. Bowing to incessant pressure from prominent Western feminist organizations, King Salman of Saudi Arabia might threaten to suspend the much-anticipated merger of the Mecca & Medina Motor Club with the All-Women's Saudi School of Driving if he is not recognized as a great supporter of women's rights.  And if the Saudis are on board, soon the Iranians will follow. Attempting to secure an early release of the $100-150 billion promised to Iran under the JCPOA, supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei might threaten to rescind his promise to arrest scientists engaged in nuclear and missile research, a policy that began when moderate president Hassan Rouhani announced to the world that Iran had abandoned its missile program.

And finally, in a truly unprecedented move, former Pink Floyd front man Roger Waters might threaten to cancel his annual concert in Israel if authorities deny his request to perform The Wall at Israel's wall – the structure separating Israelis from the suicide bombers whose 4,000-plus attacks killed 1,639 Israelis before it was built and effectively ended that threat.

In the 12th year of his 4-year term as Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas just might become a diplomatic trailblazer. Yasir Arafat would be proud.

A.J. Caschetta is a senior lecturer at the Rochester Institute of Technology and a Shillman-Ginsburg fellow at the Middle East Forum.


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Report: Left Turns in Palestinian Land Brokers to Be Tortured and Executed -


One of the activists taped Nawi's bragging about how he turns in to the Palestinian Authority security forces Arabs who plan to sell land to Jews, with full awareness of their fate after they are caught.

Left-wing activist Ezra Nawi
Left-wing activist Ezra Nawi
Photo Credit: Wikipedia commons

On Thursday night, Channel 2 investigative show Uvda’s host Ilana Dayan exposed a left-wing activist named Ezra Nawi who sends to their certain death Arabs who plan to sell their land to Jews.

The laws on ownership of land under the Palestinian Authority (PA), originally enacted during the Jordanian occupation of Judea and Samaria (1948–1967), prohibit Arabs from selling Arab-owned lands to “any man or judicial body corporation of Israeli citizenship, living in Israel or acting on its behalf.” According to several media sources, including the NY Times, Ha’aretz and Jerusalem Post, selling land to Jews is considered an act of treason by the Arabs because it threatens the future Palestinian state and leads to “the spread of moral, political and security corruption”. Arabs in the Palestinian Authority who sell land to Israelis may be sentenced to death. The interrogation by PA security forces of Arabs suspected of selling land to Jews involves severe torture.

The Uvda report was initiated by a group of right-wing activists that penetrated Ta’ayush, a grassroots volunteer organization established in the fall of 2000 by PA Arabs and left wing Israelis. One of the activists taped Nawi’s bragging about how he turns in to the Palestinian Authority security forces Arabs who plan to sell land to Jews, with full awareness of their fate after they are caught. “I hand them directly to the Palestinian security service,” Nawi boasts on the tape.

When asked what happens once Palestinian Authority police lays its hands on the sellers, Nawi says, “It catches them, kills them.” He then added with a vicious smile, “First Zubur, then Gazanga.” Zubur is an Arabic word used in Hebrew to describe hazing—humiliation and physical torment. The Gazanga part is not a known word, but implies, in the context of the tape, the demise of the victim.

Ezra Nawi and his Arab associate, B’Tselem activist Nasser Nawaj’ah, from the village of Yatta, are left-wing stars, who have been part of the anti-settlement movement for decades. This is why the Israeli left, before and immediately following the broadcast Thursday night, began a campaign in their defense.

The left has praised Nawi and Nawaj’ah to high heaven over the years, including accolades from linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, logician, social critic, and political activist Noam Chomsky; author, social activist, and filmmaker Naomi Klein; Ben-Gurion University Prof. Niv Gordon; and Meretz Chairperson MK Zehava Galon. They will not allow for these two folk hero activists to gain a new renown as agents of death.

B’Tselem accused the show of legitimizing what was, essentially, a right-wing operation. In that sense, the fact that journalist Dayan described sending to their certain death Arabs whose only sin is wanting to sell land to Jews, appears from B’Tselem’s point of view like her embracing of the “occupation.” Gideon Levy told Dayan on air that “If that’s all that those plants discovered, it’s a badge of honor for the human rights organizations.”

The right in Israel has also joined the fray. Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben Dahan (Bayit Yehudi) said on Thursday that “it has been proven once again that some human rights organizations are, in effect, stepping on human rights. I call on the legal authorities to apply to them the full extent of the law. Maybe now we’ll comprehend how important it is to pass the NGO [transparency] Law.”

Science Minister Ofir Akunis (Likud) said the report was “yet another example of the dangerous escalation by the extreme left. This is one more proof of the process of extremism and anti-Israeli activity growing deeper in the left-wing NGOs.”

Deputy Knesset Speaker MK Betzalel Smotrich said “what we’ve watched tonight is the loss of a moral compass, a betrayal of the State of Israel and an injury to life under the guise of defending human rights. This phenomenon is not an invention of Ezra Nawi, unfortunately it is typical of many of the extremist left wing organizations which are concealing an extremist political agenda under the cover of human rights.”

The report’s editor, Ami Assenheim, told Makor Rishon about the process that preceded the screening: “Nawi is not alone,” he said. “You see a mix of left-wing activists from other places. Nawi collaborates with another Jewish activist in Ta’ayush. These are not the actions of a single individual in a single organization. You see people conspiring to turn in a land broker to the Preventive Security Force (PSF), knowing what would be the fate of people like him. They were very embarrassed when we called them up for a response. There were long silences and phone hang-ups.”

Nawi himself accused the report of being an effort to sabotage his heroic work on behalf of the Palestinian population in the southern Hebron Mountain. “I wasn’t the one trapping the land broker, the opposite is true,” he said. Nasser Nawaj’ah also denied his role as it was described in the report, but not quite with the same level of self-righteousness.

Watch the video


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Is Europe Giving Up? - Judith Bergman

by Judith Bergman

  • As a response to a gang of a thousand migrant men sexually assaulting women in Cologne on New Year's Eve, the mayor suggested a "code of conduct" for German girls and women, as a measure to "prevent such things from ever happening again."
  • The idea of a "code of conduct" for girls and women to accommodate male predators not only places the blame on the victim but is an inversion of responsibility unseen in Western jurisprudence. The politically correct urge to accommodate the culture of immigrants means that justice is no longer blind.
  • Each asylum seeker, upon entering Europe, needs to be informed, in the clearest possible manner, that all women, even infidels, must be treated with respect.
  • "I feel betrayed by Britain. I came here to get away from this and the situation is worse here than in the country I escaped from." — A Muslim woman, quoted by Baroness Caroline Cox.

The cathedral opposite the main train station used to be the traditional gathering spot for New Year's Eve revelers in the German city of Cologne.

This year, Germans who poured out from the train station to celebrate the New Year they were met by a crowd of some 1000 young men. The men, according to German police, seemed to be of Arab or North African origin. They had taken over the entire public square in front of the station, and divided themselves into smaller gangs to surround women who were passing by. They then sexually assaulted them, and stole their wallets, purses and phones.

Police have so far received over 100 criminal complaints; three-quarters of them for sexual assault, and one for rape.

According to the British Telegraph, "Women were robbed, groped, and had their underwear torn from their bodies, while couples had fireworks thrown at them."

"Shortly after midnight, the first women came to us... Crying and in shock they described how they had been severely sexually harrassed. We went to look for women in the crowd. I picked one up from the ground. She was screaming and crying. Her underwear had been torn from her body," an unnamed policeman said.

In Hamburg, according to the police, a series of similar incidents took place in the city's Reeperbahn red-light district. Witnesses described groups of five to fifteen men of who "hunted" women in the streets."

The Mayor of Cologne, Henriette Reker, suggested in response, a "code of conduct" for German girls and women, as a measure to "prevent such things from ever happening again." Her proposed code of conduct entails staying at an arm's length from strangers, remaining within one's group, and asking bystanders to intervene or help as a witness.

The "code of conduct" Mayor Reker recommended sparked a storm of criticism against her. She later said that not only German women but visitors from "other cultures" should also be educated on acceptable conduct as well. "We need to prevent confusion about what constitutes happy behaviour and what is utterly separate from openness, especially in sexual behaviour," she said.

So Cologne is facing mass sexual assaults, robbery and violence from what appear to be huge organized gangs of young migrant men, and the mayor is talking of teaching "happy behavior"?!

Yet, this is the approach that is often taken in other countries of Europe. As Andrew Higgins wrote in the New York Times last month, in Norway, Muslim immigrants are taught how to relate to women:
"Fearful of stigmatizing migrants as potential rapists and playing into the hands of anti-immigrant politicians, most European countries have avoided addressing the question of whether men arriving from more conservative societies might get the wrong idea once they move to places where it can seem as if anything goes. But, with more than a million asylum seekers arriving in Europe this year, an increasing number of politicians and also some migrant activists now favor offering coaching in European sexual norms and social codes."
"The biggest danger for everyone is silence," said a clinical psychologist in Norway, Per Isdal, who has been working with the immigrants. Many refugees come from cultures that are not gender equal and where women are the property of men. We have to help them adapt to their new culture," Mr. Isdal said.

A course manual in Norway sets out a simple rule that all asylum seekers need to learn and follow: "To force someone into sex is not permitted in Norway, even when you are married to that person."

Other than the "code of conduct" for German women to help keep criminal immigrant sexual predators away, Cologne's Mayor Reker was most cautious in her statements. She avoided criticizing in any way Germany's immigration policies, which led last year to one million migrants entering Germany. "It's completely improper... to link a group that appeared to come from North Africa with the refugees," said Reker.

But facts are facts. Of the more than one million migrants arriving in Germany in 2015, most were from Muslim countries, mainly from the Middle East or North Africa.

"We will not tolerate such cowardly and abhorrent attacks," said German Justice Minister Heiko Maas. "This is apparently an entirely new dimension of organized crime." All of those involved, Maas demanded, must be "identified and made accountable."

That is not going to be easy, German officials made clear: "Footage from surveillance cameras mounted at the entrance to the Cologne station will certainly help, but the number of people on the square combined with darkness and the not entirely reliable memories of many of those partying at the site will make the process dramatically more difficult."

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, however, despite the problems being caused by the wave of migrants, has refused to set a limit on how many migrants Germany should admit.

Despite German officialdom's assurances that it will seek justice for the victims of the sexual assaults and violence on New Year's Eve in Cologne, Hamburg, Dusseldorf and elsewhere, Mayor Reker's "code of conduct" for women and girls in the face of sexual assaults represents a new low in the way that Europe approaches crime -- which is becoming increasingly rampant.

What will be next? Will there be further "codes of conduct" requesting girls and women only to walk outside accompanied by a male escort? As unimaginable as this sounds, that is the kind of measure the "code of conduct" will invite.

The flaw in the "code of conduct" is that it makes girls and women responsible for the criminal conduct of male predators.

What will be the defendant's argument in a future case: "Well, your honor, she did not keep me at arm's length, so of course I assumed she was game"?

The idea that there should be any "code of conduct" for girls and women to accommodate male predators not only places the blame on the victim; it is an inversion of responsibility. This has no precedence in the West, either in culture or in jurisprudence. Blaming female victims only emboldens male sexual predators.

The migrants know what laws are -- there are plenty of them under Islamic sharia law. In the West, there is another type of law in their new host countries, which have welcomed them as guests. In the Middle East, "host countries" with "guests" is also a familiar concept. Virtually all the monarchies and emirates hold the view that the state is their "house" and newcomers their guests; so if a guest cannot behave the way the host expects, he is escorted out. No one would expect a host to put up with a guest who trashed his house.

In the same way, each asylum seeker, upon entering Europe, needs to be informed immediately, in the clearest possible manner, that all women, even infidels, must be treated with respect.

The politically correct urge to accommodate the culture of immigrants only means that justice is no longer blind. It means regressing to unequal justice before the law. It means that because of even a well-intentioned courtesy, half the citizens -- women -- remain mistreated, disregarded, and with scant, if any, rights.

Unacceptable behavior is not exclusive to Germany. It is a troubling trend that has spread in recent years over large parts of Britain and the European continent.

In March 2014, the British Law Society adopted controversial guidelines for solicitors on how to compile "Sharia compliant" wills. The guidelines allowed British solicitors to write Islamic wills that deny women an equal share of inheritances and exclude "unbelievers" altogether. Children born out of wedlock -- and even those who had been adopted -- could not be counted as legitimate heirs. The idea, apparently, was that these guidelines, favoring inequality, should be recognized by British courts. At the time, Nicholas Fluck, then president of the Law Society, said the guidance would promote "good practice" in applying Islamic principles in the British legal system.

Facing a barrage of protests, the Law Society, just eight months later, had to apologize and withdraw the controversial recommendations. Andrew Caplen, then the new president of the society, apologized and said that the criticism had been taken on board.

Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society, who had campaigned for the guidelines to be withdrawn, said:
"This is an important reverse for what had seemed to be the relentless march of sharia to becoming de facto British law. Until now, politicians and the legal establishment either encouraged this process or spinelessly recoiled from acknowledging what was happening. I congratulate the Law Society for heeding the objections we and others made. This is particularly good news for women who fare so badly under sharia law, which is a non-democratically determined, non-human rights compliant and discriminatory code".
Another example of accommodation in Britain came in December 2015. A two-year commission, the Commission on Religion and Belief in Public Life, chaired by former senior judge Baroness Butler-Sloss, concluded in its report ,"Living with Difference: community, diversity and the common good," that Britain is no longer a Christian country, and should stop acting as if it were one. The Commission's report stated that the decline of churchgoing and the rise of Islam and other faiths means that a "new settlement" is needed for religion in the UK.

Perhaps most controversially, the report called for a new approach to anti-terror policy (page 37):
"In universities two of the biggest problems put to us in our consultation were to do with a tendency to view issues of religion and belief through a lens of security and counter-terrorism... there is currently concern about the requirements of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 in relation to universities. 'Enabling free debate within the law,' wrote the Russell Group of universities, 'is a key function which universities perform in our democratic society. Imposing restrictions on non-violent extremism or radical views would risk limiting freedom of speech on campus and may potentially drive those with radical views off campus and underground, where ... [they] cannot be challenged in an open environment. Closing down challenge and debate could foster extremism and dissent ... "
Simply put, the report advocates, in the name of free speech and "living with difference," that students should be allowed to voice extremist and radical views on campus without fear of being reported to the security services.

The report was condemned by Cabinet ministers as "seriously misguided," and the Church of England said it was "a waste." Among those who fathered the report and provided input to it were the former and present Archbishops of Canterbury, Rowan Williams and Justin Welby; Home Secretary Theresa May, and senior executives at the BBC and Channel 4.

In the United Kingdom, Baroness Caroline Cox, a member of the House of Lords and a nurse by training, is attempting to reverse this trend. This October, she introduced a bill in the House of Lords to make it illegal for any arbitration tribunal to "do anything that constitutes discrimination, harassment or victimisation on grounds of sex." She quoted one Muslim woman who had told her, "I feel betrayed by Britain. I came here to get away from this and the situation is worse here than in the country I escaped from." When a colleague claimed the Bill was trying to "demonise Muslims," another colleague, Lord Carlile, said it was really just trying to "demonise discrimination."

Left: A scene from New Year's Eve in front of Cologne's central railway station. Right: Britain's Baroness Caroline Cox, who is leading a fight to protect women's rights from the encroachment of Islamic Sharia law on the British legal system.

Europe seems to have learned nothing from the past decades. Its problems with immigrant Muslim populations continue to deteriorate. Accommodation has not solved these problems; more accommodation will undoubtedly not solve them either. More accommodation will make them, if anything, worse.

Judith Bergman is a writer, columnist, lawyer and political analyst.


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

What Do We Want in the Muslim Lands? - Hugh Fitzgerald

by Hugh Fitzgerald

Is the deepening of the Iran-Saudi Arabia rift a bad or good thing for us?

The multifarious geopolitical messes in the Middle East, the almost comical variety of resentments, hostilities, mutual denouncements, and hatreds in the Muslim lands that are presented to us each day on some news channel’s platter, the confusion worse compounded that overcomes us when we look at any part or aspect of the Camp of Islam — all this beggars belief, but you’d better nonetheless believe it. You’d better believe, for example, that the Uber-Sunni Saudis, who gave rise to Al-Qaeda, who provided Al-Qaeda not just with Osama bin Laden but with a host of other members (including 11 of the 19 who went on that 9/11/2001 mission), are now dead-set on executing members of that same Al -Qaeda, and have just done so, and are also prepared to make war on the uberest-Sunnis of them all, the members of the Islamic State. And at the same time as those Saudi rulers execute, in the same galere, both those Al-Qaeda and Islamic State anti-Shi’a fanatics, they also can — and did — execute a leading Shi’a cleric in Saudi Arabia, one Nimr Al-Nimr. Those who like things kept simple, and not complicated, will be disappointed by the Muslim Middle East, where every (geopolitical) prospect teases, and only man is vile.

Let’s see what we can do to improve our chances of seeing things steadily and whole, by standing a bit back from the radio, and limning the broad outlines of Islam.

Let’s begin with the all-encompassing nature of this faith. Islam is a Total System, a Complete Regulation of Life, a Compleat Explanation of the Universe. The True Believers in Islam are consumed by their demands of their faith. There is no such thing as “wearing one’s faith lightly” when that faith is Islam. Even those whom one might have suspected to be Islamic “moderates” turn out too often on closer inspection to believe in the uncompromisable rightness of Islam, the ingratitude and perfidy of non-Muslims, the need or duty to engage in the Struggle or Jihad, using chiefly combat (qitaal) or terrorism, but not excluding the use of other instruments to promote the spread, and then the dominance, of Islam everywhere. And among those instruments are economic warfare (less of a threat now that the “oil weapon” has so obviously faltered, and oil producers are desperate for customers), propaganda and diplomatic warfare, and the latest instrument of Jihad, demographic conquest, through the large-scale movement of Muslims into non-Muslim lands, where through their mere presence they gain political power and inhibit the freedom to maneuver of political leaders and the freedom of speech of people who become too fearful to speak out about Islam: if they dare to do so, they are promptly attacked by all the bien-pensants.

But, as Muslims like to say, meaning something quite different, “Islam is not a monolith.” By that phrase they attempt to inhibit non-Muslims from ever speaking about something called “Islam” because — since it is “not a monolith”– any such generalizing attempt would be false. Yet in the basic tenets and teachings, in the centrality of the Qur’an, in the agreement as to which are the most authoritative collections of Hadith, in the understanding of what constitute the Five Pillars of Islam, the faith called Islam is indeed a “monolith.”

But that is not the end of the story. As Professor Bernard Lewis pointed out long ago, Muslims in the Middle East have “multiple identities.” A man may be a Muslim “and an Arab” or a Muslim “and a Berber” or a Muslim and a “black African in the southern Sudan.” A man may be a “Sunni Muslim” or “Shi’a Muslim” or — so as not to overlook a very small group found mainly Oman and in some Algerian oases — an “Ibadi Muslim.” And some Muslim peoples possess the awareness of and tug from a particular national history — I am thinking of Egypt and Iran especially, as those nations (along with Israel) have the strongest sense of national identity in the Middle East. An Egyptian is “Egyptian” or an Iranian an “Iranian” in a way that a Qatari is not a Qatari, nor an inhabitant of Abu Dhabi an Emiratian.

Islam is a universalist faith. It is meant for everyone to accept. And those who among the Ahl al-Kitab, or People of the Book (that is, Christians and Jews), do not accept the full message of Islam — i.e., become Muslims — are required to pay a tax, or Jizyah, in conditions that bespeak humiliation, in order to be allowed to continue to practice their religion.
While this privileging in Islam of the Arabs leads some non-Arabs to play the sedulous ape, and to re-imagine themselves as Arabs — all those Pakistani “Sayeds” — at the same time other non-Arabs react differently, and come to resent their treatment at the hands of the o’erweening Arabs. Think of how the Arabs of the northern Sudan treated the non-Arab Muslims of Darfur (rape, pillage, sexual slavery); what they did to the non-Muslim black Africans was, of course, even worse.

Or think of how the Arabs of Algeria for many years attempted to prevent the Berbers, about 30% of the population, from speaking the Berber tongue, or from observing Berber ways, even forbidding the public reading by a Berber poet back in 1980, a suppression that led to riots in Tizi Ouzou, in the Berber-inhabited Kabyle. And in Morocco, where half the population may be Berber, the Berber movement takes on an anti-monarchical aspect. The Moroccan Arabs, like the Algerian Arabs, have been conducting, in slow motion, a forced arabisation to which not all Berbers wish to succumb.

And in the immediate Middle East, think of the Kurds, a non-Arab Muslim people treated by the Arab Saddam Hussein with great ferocity. His Arab troops killed 182,000 Kurds, employing chemical warfare at Halabja, and he moved hundreds of thousands of Arabs into the Kurdish areas to “arabise” the Kurds.

And outside the Middle East, the cultural imperialism of the Arabs has caused resentment among the local Muslims, all the way to Bangladesh and to Indonesia, especially in Java.

Ideally, non-Muslims should be working to increase the fissures within Islam. They should seize the language, and control the debate. And the central thesis, which they should be repeating again and again, can be expressed thus: Islam Is A Vehicle For Arab Supremacism. And they can fill the airwaves, and the Internet, with the supporting evidence. Is it not true that Muslims pray five times a day Mecca-wards, that they emulate the mores of 7th-century Arabs, that upon conversion they assume Arab names, that they — ideally — read the Qur’an only in Arabic, and with an Arabic Tafsir (Commentary)? All this is so very different from those Christian missionaries who translated the Bible into every tongue they could, including some that had never before been reduced to writing. Is it not true that the Arabs, through Islam, have discouraged any local interest in pre- or non-Islamic histories, but have encouraged interest, among so many isnon-Arab Muslims, in Arab and Muslim history? Our aim should be to always and everywhere seek to find existing or potential fissures within the Camp of Islam, and to steadily widen them merely by adducing the truth.

But there is another great divide in that Camp of Islam even more obvious and of more immediate significance than the ethnic fissures: it is that between Sunni and Shi’a. Bob Woodward has reported on President George W. Bush as having plaintively asked a member of his staff to fill him in, after being told the Iraqis were divided into “Shi’a and Sunnis,” which information confused him because he, President Bush, thought “they were all Muslim.” We have come some way from that early exclamation of ignorance. Everybody and his brother now knowingly refers to the “Shi’a and the Sunnis,” but without any suggestion of knowing when the schism occurred, and what it was about, and why it matters.

In a sense, it doesn’t matter to us, the Infidels, when and where and why the Sunni-Shi’a split arose. What matters is our attitude toward that split: whether we deplore it or welcome it.

So far, American policymakers have made enormous efforts to minimize that split. They use that all-purpose word “destabilizing.” Anything that “destabilizes” in the Muslim Middle East is bad. And especially in Iraq, where the Shi’a inherited the power that had been stripped from the Sunni Arabs when the Americans invaded, the vast American effort was dedicated to keeping Iraq a single and prosperous country, where Shi’a and Sunni (and Arab and Kurd) could take part in a joint adventure to rebuild the country. Did this make sense, from an Infidel point of view? Why would one not wish Iraq to be subject to centripetal forces, and to break apart, possibly in partes tres, with a Kurdish part corresponding roughly to the old Ottoman vilayet of Mosul, the Sunni part to the old Ottoman vilayet of Baghdad, or possibly only Anbar Province (given that so many Sunnis have been pushed out of Baghdad by the Shi’a), and a Shi’a Arab part corresponding to the old Ottoman vilayet of Basra?

Again and again over more than a decade, we heard how important it was not to allow Iraq to split into Sunni and Shi’a regions. But no one explained why keeping Iraq in one piece was in the American, or general Infidel, interest. And if the Sunnis in Lebanon, perhaps with their numbers increased by Sunni refugees from Lebanon, attack the Shi’a, that is, attack Hizballah, the military and terrorist organization that claims to represent the Lebanese Shi’a, why is that a bad thing?

And if the Saudi incursion into Yemen, on the side of Yemen’s Sunni tribes fighting the Iran-backed Houthi (Shi’a) rebels, why is that something to deplore? At the very least, this conflict might use up Saudi money and materiel and keep the Saudis occupied, and less able to cause mischief elsewhere; ideally, neither side will win, but both sides will continue to go at it, losing men, money, materiel, destroying infrastructure, and in general creating a mess in one more Muslim country. And in one more such country, mistrust and hatred between Sunni and Shi’a in Yemen can only deepen. Again, why would that be — from our point of view — a bad thing?

And this brings us to the news of the week: the execution by the Saudis of a leading Shi’a cleric, Nimr Al-Nimr, and the severing of all diplomatic ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and then between Iran and Iraq, Iran and Bahrain, Iran and Qatar, Iran and Oman, Iran and Kuwait, and the downgrading of relations between Iran and the U.A.E. All the stories in the Western press are full of dire warnings, of worry and despair expressed at this state of affairs, and fears as to “what will happen next.”

I can’t understand this worry, this fear. Which was the Roman who laid down the law: Divide et impera? I am perfectly open to being persuaded that the deepening of the Iran-Saudi Arabia rift is a terrible thing for us. I am equally eager to be persuaded that whipping up the resentment of non-Arab Muslims for Arab Muslims is a Bad Thing. But I just can’t figure out why.

Perhaps, among this post’s readers, someone will enlighten me, and explain why ethnic and sectarian fissures in the Camp of Islam are a terrible thing for us, the Infidels. I’ll stay right here, ready to listen. I’m all ears.

Hugh Fitzgerald


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NYPD Caves to Political Correctness - Patrick Dunleavy

by Patrick Dunleavy

Now, in an attempt to placate a small, though noisy group of complainers, Mayor Bill De Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton have acquiesced to demands that the police treat with kid gloves a select community.

Thursday's announcement that the New York Police Department (NYPD) will settle a lawsuit filed by Muslim activist groups is unsettling and confounding. With Islamic terrorist acts on the rise globally and the FBI stating that it has as many as 900 open cases on individuals suspected of being ISIS operatives, it is beyond reason that NYPD would cave to the demands by a select group to impede investigations in potential terrorist cases.

The department was accused of singling out the Muslim community for surveillance and undercover operations in a post 9/11 world, as if that was some sort of abnormal behavior by law enforcement. The original suit, brought by several Islamist activist organizations, including the Muslim Students Association and the Muslim Foundation, accused the NYPD of violating their civil rights through a program which including surveillance and intelligence gathering of the Muslim community in New Jersey.

It was tossed by U.S. District Judge William J. Martini in February 2014. Then, the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the lawsuit last October.

Now, in an attempt to placate a small, though noisy group of complainers, Mayor Bill De Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton have acquiesced to demands that the police treat with kid gloves a select community. Why? What specifically did the department do in investigating radical Islamist threats that differed from other criminal investigations that led to this surrender by city officials? Nothing!

This decision by the mayor and the NYPD was made in the climate of political correctness rather than according to well-established law enforcement practices. Surveillance and undercover operations have long been effective tools in fighting crime. When police were investigating the Mafia and organized crime, for example, the Italian community was assessed, examined for structure and hierarchy and highly scrutinized.

Similarly, when Colombian drug cartels were investigated for cocaine distribution, the Hispanic community was the focal point. If Islamic terrorists use local mosques to further their plotting of heinous acts, as in the case of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, then why should the Muslim community be exempt or require special procedural protocols by the police before investigating?

The specifics of the surveillance and intelligence gathering program, which included community outreach, surveillance, and undercover operations was both lawful and effective. NYPD knew that many participants in the first World Trade Center attack and other plots frequented mosques in the greater New York / New Jersey area. That fact is indisputable.

As the former deputy inspector general of the New York State prisons' criminal intelligence division, I was assigned to work with the NYPD Intelligence Division from 2002-2005 in this program. I can confidently state that the program was neither biased nor harmful to individuals or organizations. Rather, it was a proactive protective service on behalf of the people of New York who had witnessed first-hand the atrocities of Islamic terrorists. It kept the city safe.

An exhaustive NYPD report, written by Mitchell D. Silber and Arvin Bhatt, "Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat," is a necessary tutorial for all law enforcement organizations seeking to understand how an individual is moved to Islamic radicalization. The city's agreement to delete it from the department's website as part of the settlement is a blatant act of cowardliness.

Seeing the NYPD and city officials caving in to the demands of a few is most disheartening.
Perhaps the tool most needed in fighting radical Islamic terrorism in 2016 is going to be backbone.

Patrick Dunleavy is the former Deputy Inspector General for New York State Department of Corrections and author of The Fertile Soil of Jihad. He currently teaches a class on terrorism for the United States Military Special Operations School.


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The Next Stage of the War - Shoshana Bryen

by Shoshana Bryen

The Saudis fear a future without an American security umbrella, particularly as Iran rises to fill the American void.

The Obama administration appears surprised by the sudden eruption of Saudi-Iranian hostility after the Saudi government executed Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr and the Iranians responded by organizing/sponsoring/approving an attack on the Saudi Embassy in Tehran. Both sides have walked the rhetoric back just a bit in the last day or two.

The U.S. administration remonstrated both sides, but its most public worry appears to be that events would get in the way of brokering a peace agreement in Syria. State Department Spokesman John Kirby said, “What we want to see is tensions caused by these executions reduced, diplomatic relations restored, so that the leadership in the region can focus on other pressing issues… We have consistently urged everyone to deescalate tensions.”

“The secretary is very concerned with the direction this thing is going,” said another one senior official. “It's very unsettling to him that so many nations are choosing not to engage. With so much turmoil in the region, the last thing we need is for people not to be having conversations.”

A former Obama White House Middle East adviser told Al-Monitor. “To the degree that people hopefully wanted to see the Vienna process succeed, it required that Iran and Saudi Arabia be willing to sit at the same table and talk about a cease-fire and political process… Our approach to the region has depended on a Saudi-Iran modus vivendi. That is all blown out of the water, at least for now.”

It is “very unclear why the Saudis decided to do this now,” said another former Obama administration Middle East official. “A complete puzzle.”

No, it isn’t.

This is what happens when a government -- namely the United States government -- mistakes talk for action -- when the Secretary of State equates sitting at a fancy table in Vienna with the willingness of the parties to engage in actual give and take diplomacy. When Americans believe countries will simply cede their national or societal interests, as they understand them, just because we want it.

Saudi-Iranian tension is not an impediment to resolving the Syrian civil war.

The Syrian civil war is a manifestation of Saudi-Iranian differences.

This is the reality of modern Saudi-Iranian relations since the Islamic Republic came to power in 1979. Its first manifestation was the Iran-Iraq war that killed more than a million people. It is what drives the arming and funding of both Sunni and Shiite jihadists from Uighurs in China to Bedouins in Sinai to Boko Haram in Nigeria to Libya to Syria to Iraq to Mali to Chechnya and Dagestan to Yemen. It is the 21st century incarnation of a 7th century war. 

Secretary Kerry wants them to have a conversation. They want to win. He wants them to focus on the misery of Syria and the threat of ISIS. They want to win. He wants them to be civilized. They want to win.

Why now?

The Obama administration has had as its fundamental operating principle the removal of American forces from the Middle East, replaced by management of the region by regional players. But from the Romans through the Arabs, Crusaders, Mamelukes, Ottomans, British, and French this region never, ever ruled itself through nation-states. To think it would/could do so now is foolish at best.

The U.S. is not a traditional colonial or occupying power. Our primary interest is in the free movement of goods and people across the seas, including oil, but without necessarily managing the internal affairs of other people; at least not much. But the regional players knew that if they took action that severely threatened U.S. interests, we would defend those, and generally defend our regional friends.

The Saudis wanted an assurance of defense against Iran and were furious over the JCPOA in part because it didn’t deal with non-nuclear issues. Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal told an interviewer:
There is awareness… of this need to look at it not just from the nuclear issue but also in terms of Iran’s conduct in the area. (Emphasis added) And you know, we’re the ones who live there; we’re the ones who suffer from Iran’s politics and policies. If you look at the whole range of Iranian interference, you look at Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Bahrain, Yemen, there’s a whole host of problems for us. With Iran being the initiator and the instigator and the inciter of instability and negative issues in the area. 
The U.S. was unable to secure even its own national interests in the nuclear negotiation -- four Americans remained in Iranian prison and two more were arrested in the weeks following (one was actually Lebanese, but the Iranians thought he was American). The Iranian parliament approved the nuclear deal in October, but the language they voted on was not the same as the U.S. version of the agreement. Also in October, the Iranians showed off a new missile, which according to U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power, can carry a nuclear weapon. In December, an Iranian rocket came within 1,500 meters of the USS Harry S. Truman sailing in international waters in the Straits of Hormuz. At the end of the year, the Iranians announced that any strengthening of U.S. visa security (the purview of Congress) would be considered a violation of U.S. obligations under the nuclear deal. And all the time, Iranian forces were on the ground fighting in Syria.

In none of these cases, did the U.S. make more than a token protest, and in fact, invited Iran to sit at the Vienna “peace table.”

The Saudis fear a future without an American security umbrella, particularly as Iran rises to fill the American void. But it is hard (impossible?) to feel sorry for them. They created radical Sunni jihad (but a surprising amount of its financial and logistical support comes from Iran) and now they find it counterproductive. They opened a war against Iranian-supported Houthis in Yemen and now they can neither win it nor end it. They are struggling with a budget crisis they created by flooding the market. They are struggling with what appears to be the end of the Middle East oil payoff era mainly because Americans got really tired of paying the price in blood and treasure of keeping the pipelines open for people whose societal and political life is anathema. The Saudis are struggling with a population that has come late -- but come -- to an understanding that women are people and kings are not God.

Finally, understanding the U.S. will not help them, the Saudis picked up the gantlet the Iranians threw down. This is not the first brush in the war and it won’t be the last.

Shoshana Bryen


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Palestinian Authority, Hamas, Responsible for Torture - Khaled Abu Toameh

by Khaled Abu Toameh

  • For the mainstream media and human rights organizations, human rights violations are news only when they come with a "made in Israel" sticker on them.
  • The Palestinian Authority (PA) has used international aid funds to build prisons and detention centers in the West Bank where torture has become the norm.
  • Dr. Ammar Dwaik, Director General of the Independent Commission for Human Rights, a Palestinian group, revealed that his group received 782 complaints regarding torture -- 168 in the West Bank and 614 in the Gaza Strip.
  • Both Hamas and the PA each fears that in a free election it could lose some of its power. Why hold an election if you are not sure about the results?
  • Needed desperately: scrutiny of Palestinian society by international media and human rights groups -- beginning with Palestinian prisons. Anyone stepping up?
The Palestinian Authority and Hamas are torturing Palestinians. Still.

The two Palestinian governments, the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, are both major violators of human rights. Assaults on public freedoms and crackdowns on political rivals are just the first chapters of a very long story.

Yet this narrative does not appeal to the international community, especially the mainstream media and human rights organizations in the West. For them, human rights violations are news only when they come with a "made in Israel" sticker on them.

Yet their obsession with Israel might just kill the Palestinians. Particularly at risk are those who daily put their lives on the line to halt Hamas and PA violence against their own people.

The Palestinian Authority has used international funds to build prisons and detention centers in the West Bank where torture has become the norm. And Hamas, which in 2007 seized control over the Gaza Strip, transformed the area into a radical Islamist emirate with a startling disregard for human rights and public freedoms.

The Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR), a Palestinian group that seeks to promote "inherent values of justice, equality and human rights," reports a dramatic rise over the past two years in the number of complaints about torture in Palestinian prisons run by Hamas and the PA.

Dr. Ammar Dwaik, Director General of ICHR, revealed that his group received 782 complaints regarding torture -- 614 in the Gaza Strip and 168 in the West Bank. Dwaik noted, however, that the large number of complaints does not necessarily indicate a "big violation" of human rights. Dwaik explained that the torture inflicted upon detained Palestinians by Hamas and PA investigators during interrogations is related to the absence of advanced equipment. "They have to rely mainly on extracting confessions (by force)," he said.

Dwaik means that Palestinian security services lack modern technological tools that could facilitate their work, such as the ability to conduct DNA tests or eavesdropping. That is why interrogators have to resort to violence and torture sometimes to extract confessions from suspects.

Dr. Ammar Dwaik (center), Director General of the Independent Commission for Human Rights, reports a dramatic rise over the past two years in the number of complaints about torture in Palestinian prisons run by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. (Image source: ICHR)

Reporting that the number of complaints about torture in the Gaza Strip had sharply increased in 2014 and 2015, Dwaik also blamed economic hardship for the grave human rights violations. He noted the anger and frustration of security officials in the Gaza Strip, many of whom have not received salaries for months. Still, he added, this does not justify torture.

Dwaik also stated that the ICHR received complaints about the detention by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas of 35 Palestinian journalists in 2015. At least another 15 Palestinians were summoned for interrogation or briefly detained for posting controversial comments on social media, especially Facebook.

In recent years the ICHR has made some progress toward raising awareness of human rights among the Palestinian security forces, according to Dr. Dwaik. Yet this progress is likely to be a drop in the proverbial bucket until the international community and media start showing serious interest in the human rights abuses perpetrated by Hamas and the PA.

These undemocratic and repressive regimes have proven themselves utterly incapable of mustering even a minimal degree of tolerance for dissent.

Hamas and the Palestinian Authority also deprive Palestinians of freedom of expression and freedom of the press. In Hamas- and PA-run areas, the right to hold free and fair elections is a dream. For an entire decade, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have been unable to vote for a new parliament and president. Neither Hamas nor the Palestinian Authority desires such elections, each for excellent reasons of its own.

Each side fears that in a free election it could lose some of its power. Why hold an election if you are not sure about the results?

In addition, how can the elections be fair and free when the two parties are cracking down on each other's supporters?

For both of these regimes, the status quo works. Hamas has within its clutch the entire Gaza Strip, while the Palestinian Authority is sitting pretty in the West Bank, under the protection of the Israel Defense Forces. As every Palestinian child knows, whither the IDF goes, so goes the Palestinian Authority.

Sixty years of failed leadership: that is the true Palestinian tragedy.

Needed desperately: scrutiny of Palestinian society by international media and human rights groups -- beginning with a good look Palestinian prisons -- to jump-start a Palestinian street intifada against its true oppressors, its leaders. Anyone stepping up?
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Khaled Abu Toameh


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