Friday, March 11, 2016

Dispelling myths on terrorism - Dr. Limor Samimian-Darash

by Dr. Limor Samimian-Darash

Only Palestinian recognition of Israel's right to exist will lead to an end of terrorism.

Not even 24 hours had passed after Tuesday's spate of terrorist attacks before we heard Opposition Leader MK Isaac Herzog tell us that only separation from the Palestinians could halt the wave of terrorism we have been experiencing since last fall. With this and other similar nonsensical statements, Herzog and like-minded individuals have been trying to sell us old merchandise covered in a new wrapping of false hope. The time has come to refute these urban legends.
First of all, the Left tells us that Palestinian terrorism stems from despair. According to this outlook, the Palestinians are murdering us because they have lost hope. If we just change the atmosphere, renew the diplomatic process and give them something to lose, the terrorism will stop. This is not only a myth, it is also the height of cynical thinking. The waves of Palestinian terrorism in the 1990s after the signing of the Oslo Accords took place when there was a diplomatic process. Back then, the Left called our dead "victims of peace." That was wrong then, just as it would be wrong now to call the Israelis killed in recent terrorist attacks "victims of despair" or "victims of the lack of a diplomatic process." Instead, they are victims of the Palestinians' sanctification of death and refusal to recognize Israel's existence. 
Secondly, let us dispel the notion of "lone wolf attackers." The media, and many Israelis of all political stripes, have uncritically adopted this term, as if the attackers are acting in a spontaneous, unorganized and uncontrolled manner. I am not saying we have the means to stop all potential attacks. But it is not up to us. We can fix holes in the security fence, but the main onus for stopping terrorism lies with the Palestinian Authority. PA President Mahmoud Abbas and his ilk continue to incite against Israel and provide funds to terrorists and their families. So not only is the PA not fighting terrorism, it is in fact systematically encouraging it. Palestinian terrorists draw from years of hatred they learned in PA-run schools. It is the PA that could bring the wave of terrorism to an end, if only it so chose.
Thirdly, let us be clear. The international community only hurts efforts to reach a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Palestinian terrorists benefit from the flawed foreign policies of many countries across the globe. A look at history reveals that all international bids to intervene and resolve the conflict have resulted in waves of Palestinian terrorism. International pressure is applied asymmetrically on Israel, freeing the Palestinians of any responsibility for their fate and increasing their appetite for a state that replaces Israel, instead of one that lives alongside it. For example, Abbas' refusal to renew talks with Israel was bolstered by international support for a settlement construction freeze as a precondition. Later, the European Union gave the Palestinians a prize with its move to label settlement products. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has promised the Jordan Valley to the Palestinians and France announced it would recognize a Palestinian state if new peace efforts fail. So why do the Palestinians have any reason to stop terrorism?
In the face of urban legends, we must present the facts. The current wave of Palestinian terrorism is largely based on the long-standing Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel's existence. Only such recognition would lead to an end of Palestinian terrorism.

Dr. Limor Samimian-Darash


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Iran's Cash for Murder: Why is the UK Silent? - Douglas Murray

by Douglas Murray

The Iranian distribution of cash to families of terrorists is an open incitement to an ongoing campaign of murder. It should by now have not only been condemned by the whole world, but have caused a colossal rethink among the P5+1 nations that signed the ill-judged accord with Iran.

  • It is worth considering another recent Iranian development: the decision -- allegedly by a conglomeration of media outlets, but hardly able to be separated from the government in a country whose press is more "government" than "free" -- to increase the cash-bounty on the head of the British novelist Salman Rushdie.
  • The British government has been strangely mute on the matter. The "normalised" relations with Iran were meant to lead to business opportunities for Britain and an increase in decent behavior from Tehran. Instead, the first major test of Iranian-British relations in several decades turns out to be precisely the same test that the late Ayatollah Khomeini drew up in 1989.

Last year, when America, Britain and four other countries (the P5+1) signed their joint plan of action with Iran there was no shortage of people who warned of the consequences. They warned that the deal would merely delay rather than prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear-armed power. They warned of the increased grip the mullahs would have on the country they purport to govern. And in particular, those not caught up in the P5+1 jubilation warned of what Iran would do with the tens of billions of dollars' cash bonanza it would receive once the deal was done. Would Iran use this windfall solely to improve the lives of its people? Or might it spend at least a portion of this cash doing what it has been doing for nearly four decades: that is, spreading terror?

There have already been some signs that the ill-judged deal is embedding Iran's worst behaviour rather than elevating the regime to any higher behavioral level.

In recent days we have learned that Iran is already planning to use its windfall to encourage Palestinian terror against the State of Israel. Speaking at the end of last month, the Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon used a press conference with a number of Palestinian factions to announce a new bounty-scheme to be sponsored by Iran. This scheme promises to reward financially those who carry out terror against Israel. The reward includes -- according to the Iranian ambassador -- a payment of $7,000 to the families of suicide bombers and other terrorists who die in the process of attacking any Israeli. And it also includes a promised payment of $30,000 to any terrorists' families whose homes are destroyed by the Israel Defense Forces. The demolition of the home of a terrorist's family house is one of the only disincentives that Israel or any other country could think of to dissuade people intent on suicide attacks. Now the Iranian government is trying to re-incentivise anyone who might wish to commit such an attack.

Speaking in Beirut, Iran's ambassador to Lebanon, Mohammad Mathali, said, "Continuing Iran's support for the oppressed Palestinian people, Iran announces the provision of financial aid to families of Palestinian martyrs who were killed in the 'Jerusalem Intifada.'" He is apparently referring to the lone-wolf knife-attack type of terrorism that has killed and wounded dozens of Israelis in recent months. As such, the Iranian distribution of cash is an open incitement to an ongoing campaign of murder. It should by now have not only been condemned by the whole world, but have caused a colossal rethink among the P5+1 nations that signed the ill-judged accord with Iran. But of course, Israel is always put in a different league in the stakes of international terror. Target Israelis and the "justifications" fly, and explanations deceitfully fill the air of why terrorism against Israelis is not quite the same as other terrorism.

So it is worth considering another Iranian development of recent days. Which is the decision -- allegedly by a conglomeration of media outlets, but hardly able to be separated from the government in a country whose press is more "government" than "free" -- to increase the cash bounty on the head of British novelist Salman Rushdie. The announcement was that an additional $600,000 had been added to the existing cash reward for whoever kills the author of a novel, The Satanic Verses. It is a cash-incentive to murder that was first issued twenty-seven years ago by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Iran's then Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini put a cash bounty on the head of British novelist Salman Rushdie 27 years ago. Last month, a group of Iranian media outlets added $600,000 to the cash reward.

The additional bounty has been condemned by human rights activists and free speech defenders in the West such as Richard Dawkins and PEN.

But the British government has been strangely mute on the matter. It is strange because last summer when, against absolutely no public or political push-back in the UK, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond signed Britain up to the P5+1 agreement, there was only official rejoicing over what our signature would do. Such "normalised" relations with Iran were meant to lead to business opportunities for Britain and an increase in decent behavior from Tehran. Instead, the first major test of Iranian-British relations in several decades turns out to be precisely the same test that the late Ayatollah Khomeini drew up in 1989. Certainly there are politicians of the right and left, including those who have themselves been "incentivised" by Iran, who have predicted a new dawn in relations between the two countries. But does it really it look as though, on the matter of whether or not a British novelist can be sentenced to death by a cleric in Iran, we are going to have to pretend to agree to disagree?

Britain's silence on this matter is a shameful position for the government of any civilised country to find itself in, just as the silence on the terror being spread against Israel is a shameful position for the civilised world to find itself in. But in these twin events we can already see the Iran deal's early results. The deal has done nothing to civilise a barbarian regime. All it has done is to spread that regime's barbarism around what used to be the civilised world.
Douglas Murray, a leading British news analyst and commentator, is based in London. Follow Douglas Murray on Twitter


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Stopping the ISIS Chemical Weapons Program - Joseph Klein

by Joseph Klein

Saddam's chemical weapons scientists find a new home.

ISIS continues to threaten the homeland. “Paris isn’t far from you - we will by Allah’s permission do to your country what we did to Paris. We will kill, slaughter and burn your people. Inshallah, we will attack you very soon,” warned an ISIS narrator in a recent video.

ISIS is not limiting itself to the kind of mass shootings that Paris experienced last year. Indeed, ISIS has made it clear that it will stop at nothing to kill as many Americans as possible. Either we destroy ISIS wherever they operate or they will cause mass casualties here at home, possibly with the use of weapons of mass destruction, which they are beginning to get their hands on.

ISIS is putting its considerable resources into developing chemical weapons. And they are leveraging the expertise of former Saddam Hussein regime scientists who have joined the ISIS jihadists.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has reportedly confirmed that ISIS fighters have already used chemical weapons in Iraq and Syria, perhaps obtained from stockpiles they took control over in those countries. “It raises the major question of where the sulphur mustard came from,” an OPCW source was quoted by Reuters as saying. “Either they (IS) gained the ability to make it themselves, or it may have come from an undeclared stockpile overtaken by IS. Both are worrying options.”

In an important counter-strike to thwart ISIS’s ability to develop chemical weapons, U.S. Special Operation Forces have reportedly captured a top man in ISIS's chemical weapons development program. The capture took place last month in northern Iraq, according to two senior Iraqi intelligence officials cited by the Associated Press. U.S. officials have refused to identify the ISIS leader, but the Iraqi officials claimed he was formerly involved in Saddam Hussein's chemical weapons program. Based on information learned from interrogation, unnamed U.S. officials told CNN, the U.S. was able to conduct strikes against ISIS chemical weapons facilities in Iraq.

According to the CNN report, a “U.S. official said the goal is to locate, target and carry out strikes that will result in the destruction of ISIS's entire chemical weapons enterprise -- mainly mustard agent ISIS produces itself.”

Defense Secretary Ash Carter was true to his word in his testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee last December, when he said, “This is a no-kidding force that will be doing important things.” But Carter and the military can only go so far as their commander-in-chief lets them. They can only continue doing “important things” if they are not held back by restrictive rules of engagement that could leave ISIS chemical weapons facilities in place for fear of inflicting any civilian casualties in an attack.

President Obama's belated decision to more aggressively utilize covert Special Forces on the ground to kill high level ISIS personnel, or preferably capture them for interrogation, and to disrupt its critical operations is welcomed. However, the question remains whether he is still too wary of utilizing sufficient means of enhanced interrogation of the captured ISIS personnel involved in WMD programs to learn everything we can that they know. We can only hope that, given the existential stakes in stopping ISIS from deploying weapons of mass destruction, President Obama is now willing to abandon his opposition to using enhanced interrogation techniques on captured jihadists held in secret facilities outside the United States. Perhaps, last month’s capture and useful interrogation of a top man in ISIS's chemical weapons development program is a turning point. It remains to be seen.

Chemical weapons are not the only WMD threat that ISIS poses. The Associated Press reported last October that ISIS is actively seeking radioactive material in the black market, particularly in Eastern Europe. "In the age of the Islamic State, it's especially terrifying to have real smugglers of nuclear bomb material apparently making connections with real buyers," said Matthew Bunn, a Harvard professor whom the Associated Press described as having studied the security of Russia's nuclear arsenal for the Clinton administration.

ISIS does not presently have the capability to produce its own nuclear bombs, although it is not out of the realm of possibility. A German journalist Jurgen Todenhofer, who spent time with ISIS fighters in northern Iraq in 2014, wrote “ISIS intends to get its hands on nuclear weapons." He characterized ISIS as a "nuclear tsunami preparing the largest religious cleansing in history."

Even before ISIS can reach that goal, it can seize or purchase enough radioactive material to produce a dirty bomb. While technically a dirty bomb is a conventional weapon, its effects if exploded in the middle of a densely populated area can be devastating.

ISIS won’t stop their campaign of death and destruction unless they are destroyed first. Degradation or containment of ISIS are insufficient. As General George Patton famously declared, “There is only one tactical principle which is not subject to change. It is to use the means at hand to inflict the maximum amount of wound, death, and destruction on the enemy in the minimum amount of time.” 

Joseph Klein is a Harvard-trained lawyer and the author of Global Deception: The UN’s Stealth Assault on America’s Freedom and Lethal Engagement: Barack Hussein Obama, the United Nations & Radical Islam.


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Disgruntled ISIS jihadi leaks names, details of 22,000 fighters - Naomi O'Leary

by Naomi O'Leary

Disillusioned ISIS fighter hands journalists memory stick filled with treasure trove of info; names, phone numbers, even blood type.

(AFP) Tens of thousands of documents containing the names, addresses, phone numbers and family contacts of jihadis who joined the Islamic State group (IS or ISIS) have been given to the UK's Sky News, the broadcaster said Wednesday.  

Sky reported that a disillusioned former member had handed over the documents on a memory stick that had been stolen from the head of the group's internal security police.

The documents are forms that IS recruits had to fill out in order to be accepted into the organisation, and contain information on nationals from 51 countries, the broadcaster reported.

"Sky News has informed the authorities about the haul," the news channel wrote on its website. No comment was immediately available from Britain's interior or foreign ministries.  

Some of the documents reportedly contain the information of previously unknown jihadis in northern Europe, the United States and Canada, as well as North Africa and the Middle East, it said.

"This could be a massive development," Chris Phillips, managing director of counter terrorism consultancy International Protect and Prepare Security Office, told AFP.

"It shows how Isis is vulnerable to its own people turning against them... The potential for security services identifying unknown terrorists is greatly enhanced," he said..

He added that the leak could inspire others to turn against the group, that the documents could be used in future prosecutions, and that they could help stop a flow of volunteers travelling to join IS from Europe and the US.  

"Understanding how people have traveled and who recruited them, is a key opportunity to reduce those leaving in the future," Phillips said.

'Blood type, fighting experience'

Copies of the documents broadcast by Sky News showed that recruits would have to answer 23 questions including on their blood type, mother's maiden name, "level of sharia understanding" and previous experience.

Some of the names in the documents are of fighters who have been already identified, such as Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, a former rapper from west London who once posted an image of himself on Twitter holding a severed head.

Another named is Junaid Hussain, a cyber-operative for IS from the British city of Birmingham, and 21-year-old Reyaad Khan who appeared in a recruitment video, both killed last year.

The documents were obtained from a man who uses the name Abu Hamed, a former Free Syrian Army member who joined IS.

He stole the memory stick of documents and handed them over in Turkey to a journalist, explaining that he left because Islamic rules had collapsed inside the group.

Hamed claimed the group had given up on its headquarters in the Syrian city of Raqqa and was moving into the desert, and that former soldiers from the Iraqi Baath party of executed dictator Saddam Hussein had taken over.

Olivier Guitta, managing director of international security and risk firm GlobalStrat, said the leak was a boost to security services and indicated unhappiness within the group.

"This leak shows that there are dissenting voices within the ranks of IS," he told AFP. "Like in any large organisation, there will be fight for power and one could see down the road a potential breakup of IS into various factions."

There have been previous leaks of documents from IS, which have shown the group to be extremely bureaucratic, with rules covering every aspect of life.

But if verified the cache of members' identities would be the most significant leak so far relating to the group, which brutally carved out regions of control in Iraq and civil war-torn Syria before expanding to North Africa and further around the world.

Naomi O'Leary


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Israel: Iran's missile test - a 'blatant violation' of nuclear deal - News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff

by News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff

A day after Iran test fires missiles designed to hit Israel, Foreign Ministry issues a statement saying "Iran is making a mockery of the international community" • "Iran's missile program will not stop," declares top Revolutionary Guards commander.

In a photo provided by Iran's Fars News Agency Wednesday, a Qadr H long-range missile is seen being fired by Iran's Revolutionary Guards
Photo credit: AP

News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff


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Biden gives nod to Israeli demands in defense aid talks - Shlomo Cesana, Yori Yalon, Daniel Siryoti, Israel Hayom Staff and Reuters

by Shlomo Cesana, Yori Yalon, Daniel Siryoti, Israel Hayom Staff and Reuters

Israel's regional military clout should be preserved in terms of quantity as well as quality of its weaponry, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden says during Israel visit • Biden meets with PA President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, discusses ongoing violence.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and his family visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem's Old City, Wednesday
Photo credit: AP

Shlomo Cesana, Yori Yalon, Daniel Siryoti, Israel Hayom Staff and Reuters


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FBI Director Comey at odds with administration over numerous issues - Rick Moran

by Rick Moran

Comey's independence worries the administration.

FBI Director James Comey values his independence from the White House and executive branch. But increasingly, he is rubbing members of the Obama administration the wrong way as he won't play ball on several important issues. This is leading to a level of frustration with the bureau as the administration tries to play politics with law enforcement.

The Hill:

The FBI’s demand that Apple help unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino killers has outraged Silicon Valley, a significant source of political support for President Obama and Democrats.
Comey, meanwhile, has stirred tensions by linking rising violent crime rates to the Black Lives Matter movement’s focus on police violence and by warning about “gaps” in the screening process for Syrian refugees.
Then there’s the biggest issue of all: the FBI’s investigation into the private email server used by Hillary Clinton, Obama’s former secretary of State and the leading contender to win the Democratic presidential nomination.
A decision by the FBI to charge Clinton or her top aides for mishandling classified information would be a shock to the political system.
In these cases and more, Comey — a Republican who donated in 2012 to Mitt Romney — has proved he is “not attached to the strings of the White House,” said Ron Hosko, the former head of the FBI’s criminal investigative division and a critic of Obama’s law enforcement strategies.
Publicly, administration officials have not betrayed any worry about the Clinton probe. They have also downplayed any differences of opinion on Apple.
But former officials say the FBI’s moves are clearly ruffling feathers within the administration.
With regards to the Apple standoff, “It’s just not clear [Comey] is speaking for the administration,” said Richard Clarke, a former White House counterterrorism and cybersecurity chief. “We know there have been administration meetings on this for months. The proposal that Comey had made on encryption was rejected by the administration.”
Comey has a reputation for speaking truth to power, dating back to a dramatic confrontation in 2004 when he rushed to a hospital to stop the Bush White House from renewing a warrantless wiretapping program while Attorney General John Ashcroft was gravely ill. Comey was Ashcroft’s deputy at the time.
That showdown won Comey plaudits from both sides of the aisle and made him an attractive pick to lead the FBI. But now that he’s in charge of the agency, the president might be getting more than he bargained for.
Indeed he is. Leaving the reservation on the Apple encryption issue is one thing. But contradicting the president on Syrian refugees, as well as his suggestion that BLM rhetoric is leading to an increase in violent crime, angering the president's black base, could eventually make Comey a target. 

And what happens if Attorney General Loretta Lynch refuses to indict Hillary Clinton?

Hosko suggested that a showdown over potential criminal charges for Clinton could lead to a reprise of the famous 2004 hospital scene, when Comey threatened to resign. 
“He has that mantle,” Hosko said. “I think now there’s this expectation — I hope it’s a fair one — that he’ll do it again if he has to.”
There are hints that Comey and other high ranking FBI officials would resign in protest if DoJ tries to drag out a review of FBI evidence in the email scandal past election day. But Lynch has to get the evidence first and there's no indication that the FBI is close to wrapping up its investigation. 

One thing is certain; Comey will not allow political interference in the FBI's decision on whether to prosecute Clinton or not. He and tbe bureau will do their duty and let the political chips fall where they may.

Rick Moran


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Turkey's Runaway Anti-Semitism - Burak Bekdil

by Burak Bekdil

When it comes to diplomatic conflict between Turkey and Israel or Turkish anti-Semitism, there is always an unusual optimism in the official language chosen by Israeli officials or Jewish community leaders. Facts on the ground are a little bit different than the rosy picture.

  • If Turkish Jews are "safe and secure" in Turkey, why do they feel compelled to protect their schools and synagogues with heavy security? Why do most synagogues in Istanbul look almost like a U.S. embassy in Baghdad or Islamabad?
  • Anti-Semitism in Turkey reached such intensity that even anti-Semitic Islamists were not immune to anti-Semitic smear campaigns.

The 74th anniversary of an embarrassing tragedy took place in Turkey on February 24, 2016.

The MV Struma was a small iron-hulled ship built in 1867 as a steam-powered schooner, but was later re-engined with an unreliable second-hand diesel engine. In 1941, it was tasked with safely transporting an estimated 781 Jewish refugees from Axis-allied Romania to Britain's Mandatory Palestine. Between its departure from Constanta on the Black Sea on Dec. 12, 1941 and arrival in Istanbul on Dec. 15, the vessel's engine failed several times. On Feb. 23, 1942 with her engine still not running but the refugees aboard, Turkish authorities towed the Struma from Istanbul through the Bosporus out to the Black Sea. On the morning of Feb. 24, the Soviet submarine Shch-213 torpedoed the Struma, killing all but one of the refugees and 10 crew aboard.

Until this year Turkey, one of the main culprits, had only once commemorated the victims. This year, official Turkey decided, should be the second time. A wreath and carnations were hurled at the sea in the shadow of the horrible event that took place decades ago.

At the commemoration ceremony at Sarayburnu harbor on the Bosporus were the head of Turkey's Jewish community, Ishak Ibrahimzadeh, Chief Rabbi Isak Haleva and Istanbul's governor, Vasip Sahin. In his speech, Sahin said: "We observe that the necessary lessons were not drawn from such tragedies." He was right, at least from a Turkish point of view.

When it comes to diplomatic conflict between Turkey and Israel or Turkish anti-Semitism, there is always an unusual optimism in the official language chosen by Israeli officials or Jewish community leaders.

For instance, Ibrahimzadeh praised "recent steps by the Turkish state to mend history with the Jewish community." Echoing the same optimism, chairman Stephen Greenberg and executive vice chairman Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, assured that Turkey's small (less than 17,000-strong) Jewish community feels "safe and secure" despite being placed in the middle of a political feud between Turkey and Israel -- sparked first in 2009 by then Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's clash with former Israeli President Shimon Peres at a World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

Such optimism in official narratives is normal, especially because Ankara and Jerusalem have been privately negotiating a deal to end their hostilities and normalize their diplomatic relations. Non-constructive, let alone explosive, speeches from any state or non-state actor will not help diplomats from either side in their efforts to reconcile. All the same, facts on the ground are a little bit different than the rosy picture.

If Turkish Jews are "safe and secure" in Turkey, why do they feel compelled to protect their schools and synagogues with heavy security? Why do most synagogues in Istanbul look almost like a U.S. embassy in Baghdad or Islamabad?

On Jan. 20, 2016, a Turkish synagogue in an old Jewish neighborhood in Istanbul was vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti days after holding its first prayer service in 65 years. Vandals painted the external walls of the Istipol Synagogue with the script: "Terrorist Israel, there is Allah."

"Writing anti-Israel speech on the wall [outside] of a synagogue is an act of anti-Semitism," said Ivo Molinas, editor-in-chief of Turkish Jewish newspaper, Şalom. "Widespread anti-Semitism in Turkey gets in the way of celebrating the richness of cultural diversity in this country."

Less than a month after that, a column in the radical Islamist Turkish daily Vahdet claimed that the evolutionary theory of "the Jew" Charles Darwin contradicts Allah's word in the Koran and that in actual fact, monkeys evolved from perverted Jews whom Allah cursed and punished.

Unsurprisingly, the columnist, Seyfi Sahin, is a staunch supporter of President Erdogan's Justice and Development Party. Sahin claims to be a physician, and argued that "Jews terrorize the world of science" and, "as a Jew, Darwin concocted his theory of evolution in order to turn Muslims away from their religion." He further wrote:
"The aim of [Darwin's] theory is to turn the non-Jews away from their religion, to harm their faith, and to make them suspicious about their religion. Darwin, being a Jew, believed, lived, and was buried according to his religion. His real targets were the Muslims ... I believe that the gorillas and chimps living today in the forests of North Africa are cursed Jews. They are perverted humans that have mutated."
There are no reports of Sahin being investigated or prosecuted under Turkey's anti-racism laws. Not surprising. No such case has ever been heard of.

More recently, there was the curious case of Yusuf Kaplan, a Turkish Islamist columnist and a darling of Erdogan and his supporters -- until he dared to criticize the government's foreign policy. Kaplan a columnist for Yeni Safak, one of Erdogan's favorite newspapers and one of his staunchest supporters, argued in a television appearance that the government's foreign policy was incompatible with regional realities. So what? Not so difficult to guess.

Leading users on social media called for Kaplan's death and accused him of killing another pro-government journalist, of being a British spy and of "collusion with the Jews." Many called him a "Jewish stooge." A Jewish stooge? The man has a remarkable record of making anti-Semitic statements, including his claim that "Jews rule the Western universities and world media and that their paranoia can reach barbaric, cruel and inhuman dimensions."

Turkish newspaper columnist Seyfi Sahin (left), a staunch supporter of Turkey's President Erdogan, wrote, "I believe that the gorillas and chimps living today in the forests of North Africa are cursed Jews. They are perverted humans that have mutated." Yusuf Kaplan (right), another Turkish newspaper columnist, also has a record of making anti-Semitic statements. But when he criticized government policy, he was accused of being a "Jewish stooge."

On the 74th anniversary of the Struma tragedy, anti-Semitism in Turkey reached such intensity that even anti-Semitic Islamists were not immune to anti-Semitic smear campaigns.
Burak Bekdil, based in Ankara, is a Turkish columnist for the Hürriyet Daily and a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.


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More Anti-Israel Hate at Connecticut College - Noah Beck

by Noah Beck

Faculty speak out.

Reprinted from

A Connecticut College professor has told colleagues that his school has grown so hostile toward Jews that he can no longer recommend Jewish students or professors come to the college.

“In my opinion, this harassment of Jews on campus in the name of fighting for social justice should end; immediately,” wrote Spencer J. Pack, an economics professor, in a faculty-wide email. 

His comments were triggered by the smear campaign that pro-Palestinian students successfully waged against a pro-Israel professor, resulting in his indefinite leave from campus, and a more recent push to malign Birthright (a program enabling student travel to Israel) by plastering the campus with posters. The posters reportedly intimidated Jewish and pro-Israel members of the Connecticut College community, while attempting to poison the minds of uninformed students and faculty with vicious falsehoods about Israel. The posters were put up by Conn Students in Solidarity with Palestine (CSSP), whose faculty advisor, Eileen Kane, runs the school’s Global Islamic Studies program.

Kane’s Global Islamic Studies program also invited Palestinian-American poet Remi Kanazi to speak at Connecticut College on April 12. Kanazi, who is scheduled to give a "poetry performance," is on the organizing committee of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and listed among its endorsers. His strategy has been to connect anti-Israel politics with popular urban struggles

Making matters worse, Jasbir K. Puar was also invited to speak at Connecticut College. At a Feb. 3talk at Vassar College, Puar unleashed a torrent of vicious anti-Israel lies and blood libels, including outrageous accusations about Israel harvesting Palestinian organs and conducting scientific experiments in “stunting” the growth of Palestinian bodies. Her Connecticut College appearance was scrapped, but Kane has ignored repeated questions about the invitation.

Hatred of Israel and overall hostility towards Jews at Vassar has been amply detailed. More generally, campus hate against Israel and Jews has become an increasingly frequent and widespread problem thanks to the “Boycott, Divest, Sanction” (BDS) movement. Even Palestinians who aren’t sufficiently critical of Israel are targeted by BDS. Bassem Eid, founder of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, was directly threatened by anti-Israel protesters while lecturing at the University of Chicago on Feb. 18. More recently, the New York Post reported on the hateful harassment of Jews at four City University of New York campuses.

Connecticut College seems to be moving in the same direction. Last spring, Connecticut College Professor Andrew Pessin was libeled and silenced in a campaign led by Students for Justice in Palestine activist Lamiya Khandaker. That campaign included condemnation of Pessin by scores of Connecticut College departments and affiliates, including the Global Islamic Studies program. The administration nevertheless gave Khandaker the "Scholar Activist Award." Then came the Birthright smear last December, the Puar invitation, and the scheduled talk by anti-Israel activist Kanazi, sponsored by the Global Islamic Studies program.

These developments reinforce the perception that Connecticut College is hostile to pro-Israel voices. Meanwhile, discussion of the Pessin affair continues as questions mount over the role and nature of the school’s Islamic studies program. In a Jan. 26 email to fellow faculty members, Manuel Lizarralde, a professor of anthropology and botany, called the Pessin affair a “train wreck” and expressed regret at previously staying silent. “Why did we not have the Andrew defending his views?...We acted like vigilantes and found the perfect scapegoat,” he wrote.

In a Feb. 4, faculty-wide response to Lizarralde, Pack accused the Global Islamic Studies program of organizing students to join the anti-Pessin campaign and then sponsoring “a new group on campus that [posted the anti-Birthright and anti-Israel] posters.” That’s when he called on the harassment to stop and indicated that he couldn’t recommend Jews join the Connecticut College community. In response, Pack received some private support but wrote that “many, (perhaps most?), of the faculty…are quite upset with me.” 

Kane responded to Pack’s email on Feb. 9, denying that CSSP is anti-Israel. But CSSP’s posters smear the Birthright program with the label “settler colonialism,” effectively demonizing any student participant in that program, and spread the blatant lie that that there are “seven million Palestinian refugees today.” Even the pro-Palestinian United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) claims that there are only five million Palestinian refugees, and that total is grossly inflated because UNRWA defines the term “refugee” to include all subsequent generations of the original refugee – a definition unique to Palestinians among all other global refugee groups.  

Posters vilifying students who want to visit Israel as “settler-colonists” and spreading blatant lies to undermine support for Israel would seem to be “anti-Israel.” Kane did not respond to an email asking for her definition of “anti-Israel” after her assertion that the group behind those posters is not “anti-Israel.”

Kane’s faculty-wide response to Pack’s email describes the Pessin controversy as “a heated disagreement over ...  Pessin’s Facebook post on the 2014 Gaza war.” That’s misleading, because it minimizes what happened. The “disagreement” was more of a mob-like character assassination that ignored Pessin’s insistence that his words had been purposely distorted, the Washington Postarticle presenting evidence corroborating Pessin’s position, and Pessin’s immediate, polite apologyto the student who first voiced concern.

As if trying to resolve campus tensions, Kane asks “what are we going to do to advance informed, responsible discussion of the history and politics of Israel/Palestine on this campus?” But she may not be the best arbiter of what constitutes a responsible discussion; she can’t even recognize that her student group’s posters are blatantly anti-Israel.

Equally troubling, her email claims that a discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is happening “with a renewed sense of urgency...on campuses across the country” as if this weren’t the result of the well-organized BDS efforts to advance a viciously one-sided and inaccurate anti-Israel narrative at every campus where the movement arrives. After all, why is there no comparable “urgency” to exposing and punishing the countless crimes taking place in Syria -- where an estimated 470,000 have been killed in five years (which is about five times the total death toll of a century of violence between Israelis and Palestinians)?

Kane’s email notes that we are in a time "when Islam is widely misunderstood." One powerful way to reduce such misunderstanding would be to highlight Muslim efforts to reform the way Islam is practiced. But Kane also refused to say whether the Global Islamic Studies program has invited any speakers who advocate such reforms.

When Pessin’s wife, Gabriella Rothman, was asked about the few apologies that Pessin had received nearly a year after the events in question, she said, “It's hard to get too excited about it,” given how duplicitous and dishonest so many of his colleagues and friends had been. 

Remarkably, the Connecticut College administration hasn’t taken any initiative to protect students and faculty brave enough to espouse unpopular views (including support for Israel). Nor has it issued any apology to Pessin, who has been forced out of the classroom for nearly a year in the wake of the controversy. To regain some of its credibility, Connecticut College should publish the results of an independent investigation into the Pessin affair and a detailed plan of how to avoid similar incidents in the future.

Noah Beck is the author of The Last Israelis, a doomsday thriller about the Iranian nuclear threat and current geopolitical issues in the Middle East.


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Mosul Dam in Iraq on brink of 'catastrophic' collapse - Rick Moran

by Rick Moran

Hundreds of thousands of lives at stake.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power warned that the dam in Mosul is critically unstable and could collapse, sending a 45 foot wall of water coursing through some of the biggest cities in Iraq, including the capitol Baghdad.

"It is crucial that all UN member states quickly get informed about the magnitude of the problem and the importance of readiness to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions," said Power.
The ambassador described briefings by technical experts, engineers and representatives from UN aid and development agencies as "chilling."
The dam in northern Iraq was built on an unstable foundation that continuously erodes, and a lapse in required maintenance after the Islamic State jihadist group briefly seized it in 2014 weakened the already flawed structure.
"In the event of a breach, there is the potential in some places for a flood wave up to 14 meters high that could sweep up everything in its path, including people, cars, unexploded ordnance, waste and other hazardous material, further endangering massive population centers that lie in the flood path," said Power in a statement released by the US mission.
Power said repair work must be undertaken as soon as possible and Iraqis must be well informed about the best evacuation routes.
Italian firm Trevi has been selected to carry out crucial repair work on the dam, which is currently protected by Kurdish peshmerga forces.
A UN aid appeal for Iraq has received only eight percent of the $861 million requested, compounding concerns about badly needed assistance.
The warning follows testimony by CENTCOM Commander Gen. Lloyd Austin who told the Senate Armed Services Committee that a catastrophe with much loss of life was possible:
"If the dam fails, it will be catastrophic," Gen. Lloyd Austin III told the Senate Armed Services Committee. "There will be thousands of people donwstream that will either be injured or killed, certainly displaced. And the damage could extend all the way down to -- close to Baghdad, or into Baghdad," which is more than 200 miles downstream.
The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad said as many as 500,000 to 1.47 million Iraqis living along the Tigris River "probably would not survive" the impact of floodwaters that could reach depths greater than 45 feet in some parts of Mosul.

Gen. Austin told Congress, "We have worked with the Iraqis to be sure that they are doing the right things to warn people about this, and in the event that it does fail, what actions they should take to get to safety. And we certainly have measures in place to ensure that U.S. citizens are -- or U.S. personnel -- are accounted for and able to be evacuated in case of the dam's failure."

Austin said when Islamic State terrorists captured the dam for a few months in 2014, the maintenance workers fled, and the work to shore up the dam stopped.

"We have encouraged the Iraqi government, since the dam's been back in the hands of the Iraqis, to make sure that they're doing the right things to go about repairing the dam. They have most recently hired an Italian company to perform maintenance on the dam, but it may be several weeks or months before that company is up and running, so there is a time period that we are concerned about (when) there will be limited to no maintenance performed on the dam," he said.

As the Associated Press reported, the dam on the Tigris River was built in the early 1980s on unstable ground where the earth underneath it is constantly eroded by water. Maintenance crews have continuously poured cement under its foundation in a process known as "grouting."

The situation worsened when ISIS terrorists overran the dam and held it for several weeks in 2014. Since then, efforts to reinforce the dam's foundations have not been adequate, partly because ISIS still controls the factory that produces concrete for the dam.
In 2006, the US Army Corps of Engineers issued a report calling the Mosul Dam "the most dangerous dam in the world." The situation has only gotten worse over the years.

The US embassy in Iraq issued a warning on February 29 calling the risk of collapse "serious and unprecedented." And yet, the world - and especially the US - have dilly dallied for months while the possibility of disaster increased. 

Evacuation plans are useless when the water is going to be 50 feet high. Escaping catastrophe in this case will be a matter of luck. And Iraq hasn't had much of that lately.

Rick Moran


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