Saturday, August 13, 2016

Hamas: Vote for Us or Burn in Hell - Khaled Abu Toameh

by Khaled Abu Toameh

"Any person, male or female, who votes for a party other than Hamas will be considered an infidel and apostate and his or her repentance will not be accepted even if they fasted or prayed or performed the hajj [pilgrimage] to Mecca," the mufti ruled.

  • Abbas decided to hold local and municipal elections because his advisors convinced him that Hamas would boycott the vote, according to senior Fatah official Husam Khader.
  • The first sign of Hamas's frightening platform emerged when one of its top muftis, Yunis Al-Astal, issued a fatwa banning Palestinians from voting for any other party other than Hamas. "Any person, male or female, who votes for a party other than Hamas will be considered an infidel and apostate and his or her repentance will not be accepted even if they fasted or prayed or performed the hajj [pilgrimage] to Mecca," the mufti ruled.
  • This Hamas tactic has worked in the past. In the previous parliamentary election, Hamas used the same propaganda to brainwash and scare Palestinian voters.
  • By calling the election and allowing Hamas to participate, Abbas is digging his own grave, and presiding over the burial of any so-called peace process with Israel.

It is election season in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Palestinians are preparing to cast their votes in the local and municipal elections, scheduled to take place on October 8. The upcoming elections will be different from the last one, held in 2012 only in the West Bank, when Hamas boycotted the vote, allowing the rival Fatah faction to claim victory.

This time Hamas has decided to join the political fray -- a move that caught Fatah and its leaders, including Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, by surprise.

Hamas's decision to participate in the local and municipal elections has further aggravated tensions with Abbas's Fatah faction, which continues to suffer from deep internal divisions and rivalries.
In the past few weeks, Hamas and Fatah have been accusing each other of cracking down on each other's supporters in the Gaza Strip and West Bank in a bid to affect the results of the election.

According to Hamas, the Palestinian Authority security forces have in recent weeks arrested scores of the Islamist movement's supporters in the West Bank. Hamas claims that the crackdown intensified after its decision to participate in the election. Hamas also claims that some of its detained supporters have been tortured, prompting some of them to go on hunger strikes in Palestinian prisons.

Samira Halaykeh, a Hamas representative in the West Bank, said that the crackdown was an "extension" of the campaign of arrests that the PA has been waging against the Islamist movement for several years now. She predicted that the latest crackdown would actually serve as a boomerang, strengthening Hamas.
"The Palestinian Authority and its security forces must guarantee security and safety for all Palestinians so that they can practice their legitimate right to run and vote in the election," she added. "The Palestinian Authority needs to avoid any form of intimidation and political and intellectual repression against the voters."

Another senior Hamas representative in the West Bank, Bassem Al-Za'areer, condemned the arrests of Hamas supporters by the Palestinian Authority as "politically-motivated." He too alleged that the crackdown was aimed at undermining Hamas's chances of winning the election. The crackdown, he added, reflects the "state of desperation and panic" of the PA following Hamas's decision to participate in the vote. The Palestinian Authority fears a "fair and decent competition," he explained.

The Palestinian Authority's crackdown on Hamas on the eve of the election has even riled some senior Fatah officials, such as Husam Khader of the Balata refugee camp near Nablus, the largest Palestinian city in the West Bank.

"Political arrests solidify the dictatorship of the ruling [Fatah] party," Khader charged. "The Palestinian Authority is searching for any excuse to call off the election because it fears democracy more than it fears Israel." According to Khader, Abbas decided to hold the local and municipal elections because his advisors convinced him that Hamas would boycott the vote. The top Fatah official predicted that internecine fighting in Fatah would play into the hands of Hamas in the upcoming election. This is precisely what happened in the 2006 parliamentary elections, when divisions within Fatah facilitated Hamas's victory.

One man, one vote, one time? Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (left) and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas (also president of the Palestinian Authority) are pictured voting in the last election for the Palestinian Legislative Council, which took place in 2006.

Similarly, Fatah maintains that Hamas has been waging a campaign of intimidation and detention against Fatah supporters in the Gaza Strip -- also in order to disrupt the upcoming election and undermine Fatah's performance at the ballot boxes.

In the past two weeks, several Fatah activists in the Gaza Strip were rounded up by Hamas security forces, which have also banned Fatah from carrying out public election campaigns or holding rallies. Last week, as part of this crackdown, a Hamas court sentenced a former Palestinian Authority "general" to seven years in prison for "collaboration" with the PA security forces in the West Bank. Another three Fatah activists were sentenced to five years for the same crime.

In an effort to quell tensions between Hamas and Fatah, the Palestinian Central Election Commission decided to ask the two parties to sign a "Code of Conduct" document that requires all candidates and parties to avoid smear campaigns, slander, and fomenting sectarian or racist strife. The document also requires all those participating in the election to refrain from "exploiting religious or sectarian or tribal sentiments" in their campaign and also to avoid any form of intimidation, such as declaring one another traitors, apostates and infidels.

Although Fatah and Hamas have pledged to honor the terms of the "Code of Conduct," known in Arabic as mithak sharaf, the two sides, which are not famous for honoring agreements, seem resolved to resort to all available methods to persuade voters to vote for each one of them.

For now, the two sides have taken to social media to present their electoral platforms and wage a smear campaign against each other.

Local elections are supposed to be about who can provide the people with the best municipal services and improve their living conditions. As such, one would expect candidates to run on a platform that promises new schools, roads, parks, sports centers and other municipal services. But in the case of the Palestinians, local and municipal elections seem to have assumed a new meaning and role. In fact, the upcoming election seems to be anything but a vote for a mayor or a member of a municipal or village council.

Hamas, whose leaders seem to be enthusiastic and optimistic about the upcoming vote, has seized the opportunity to wage a massive election campaign on Facebook and Twitter to promote its extremist ideology through intimidation and by accusing its rivals of infidelity, blasphemy and profanity. Hamas's message to the Palestinian voters: Vote for us or else you will be considered infidels and you will end up in hell.

The first sign of Hamas's frightening platform emerged when one of its top muftis, Yunis Al-Astal, issued a fatwa (Islamic religious decree) banning Palestinians from voting for any other party other than Hamas. "Any person, male or female, who votes for a party other than Hamas will be considered an infidel and apostate and his or her repentance will not be accepted even if they fasted or prayed or performed the hajj [pilgrimage] to Mecca," the mufti ruled.

The Hamas fatwa sparked a wave of anger from many Palestinians, who were quick to accuse the Islamist movement and its leaders of waging a campaign of intimidation and terror against voters.

"This is the policy of the Muslim Brotherhood [of which Hamas is an offshoot]," commented Hisham Sawalhi, a Palestinian from the West Bank. "Those who support Muslim Brotherhood are believers, while those who oppose them are infidels."

A Hamas-affiliated cartoonist from the Gaza Strip, Baha Yasin, published a cartoon that carries the same message as the fatwa. "A Palestinian Muslim does not vote for secular infidels," he captioned a cartoon that depicts supporters of Fatah as unbelievers who smoke nargilas and cigarettes. The caption accompanying the cartoon also denounces the Fatah supporters for "insulting Allah" and Islam.

Rajai Al-Halabi, who is in charge of the "women's portfolio" in Hamas, also stirred up controversy when she appeared on Al-Jazeera to declare that Islam surfaced for the first time in the Gaza Strip with the creation of Hamas.

Her declaration, which came in the context of Hamas's election campaign, drew strong condemnations and sarcastic remarks from many Palestinians. "This means that all those who died before the establishment of Hamas were infidels, commented Hamzeh Abu Ajaleh, a Palestinian from the Gaza Strip. "In any case, my grandfather did not consume alcohol and my grandmother used to cover her head," he wrote in reaction to the statement by the senior Hamas official.

"Hamas has launched its unofficial election campaign by issuing deeds of forgiveness and taking us back to the Middle Ages," said Palestinian political analyst Mahmoud Sabri.
"They have turned mosques into podiums for political, and not religious, lecturing. Any citizen who does not vote for Hamas will be closer to entering hell and will be asked by Allah on Doomsday why he or she did not vote for the right people. Hamas wants us to believe that if we do not support them, then we are against Islam and that we are participating in the war against our religion."
Some Palestinians in the Gaza Strip said this week that Hamas has formed a special team to manage its propaganda campaign in preparation for the local and municipal elections. This team has begun operating on two fronts: first, a public campaign to market Hamas's "achievements" since its violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007; and second, one to wage a campaign of defamation against its rivals in Fatah, depicting them as traitors and Israeli agents and infidels and enemies of Allah and Islam.

"A vote for Hamas is a vote for the resistance and a vote in support of Allah and Islam," reads one of Hamas's election banners. Other banners posted on social media highlight the fact that most of the Fatah representatives are not faithful Muslims and do not pray or practice any of the other pillars of Islam.
This Hamas tactic has worked in the past. In the previous parliamentary election, Hamas used the same propaganda to brainwash and scare Palestinian voters. Hamas has also resorted to the same rhetoric in campaigns during elections for university student councils and various professional unions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Some Palestinians, particularly Fatah loyalists, fear that Hamas will once again manage to persuade Palestinian voters to cast their ballots in favor of the Islamist movement by exploiting Islam to intimidate them.

However, there is no ignoring that there are other reasons why Palestinians may nevertheless prefer to vote for Hamas and not Fatah. Nearly two months before the election, tensions in Fatah seem to be on the rise. Many Fatah representatives are threatening to run in the election as independent candidates or as representatives of their clans. This already happened in the 2006 parliamentary election and resulted in Fatah's defeat to Hamas. And this is why some Fatah officials already have second thoughts about the election and some of them have even openly called on the Palestinian Authority leadership to consider delaying them until further notice.

Last week, Mahmoud Abbas reportedly expelled four "rebellious" senior Fatah officials from the faction. The move came amid growing tensions among Fatah's top brass over the upcoming election.
For Hamas, the upcoming election is an opportunity to consolidate its power and extend its control from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank. Hamas also views the local and municipal elections as a test for future parliamentary and even presidential elections. Without question, a Hamas victory in the upcoming elections would have an impact on any future elections and would send a message to the world that the Palestinian Authority is weak and has lost much of its credibility and standing among Palestinians. By calling the election and allowing Hamas to participate, Abbas is digging his own grave. Not to mention that he will be presiding over the burial of any so-called peace process with Israel.
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Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist, is based in Jerusalem.


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Saudi media in pro-Jewish campaign - Guy Cohen

by Guy Cohen

Series of articles appears to be preparing the ground for cooperation with Jewish state.

A series of articles in various Saudi news sources appears to be preparing the ground for greater cooperation with the Jewish state, according to Channel 2's veteran Arab affairs analyst, Ehud Yaari, who quoted reports by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

Yaari said that there is absolutely no doubt that the articles are part of a coordinated campaign.

Yaari cited influential female Saudi columnist Saham al-Kahtani, who recently wrote that the description of Jews as the "sons of apes and pigs" in the Quran relates to the period in which the book was written, and not to the Jews of today.

Yasser Hijazi, columnist in the respected newspaper al-Riyadh, wrote two articles that called upon the Arabs to “leave behind their hostility and hatred of Jews" and abandon "Judeo-phobia." He noted that as a child he had been taught to despise Jews as representing all that was evil in the world and said that this approach had "robbed" the Arabs of the ability to see things realistically, "without blaming an entire nation for the sins of individuals."

Columnist Ibrahim el Matroudi, was quoted as telling the Saudis that they have been too busy “cursing the Jews instead of drawing benefits from studying their successes.”

Ahmed Adnan, writing in the Saudi-owned website Al Arabiya, argued that the Saudis should speak to Israel according to their own national interests, and without mediators.

MEMRI explained that there is currently a vociferous public debate in Saudi Arabia following the visit to Israel of a former Saudi general, Anwar Ashaki, in July. Ashaki even posed for a photograph with Israeli parliamentarians, causing great consternation in conservative Saudi circles. The current slew of articles appears to be preparing Saudi public opinion for further normalization of relations with Israel.

The thaw in Israeli-Saudi relations is a direct result of the two nations' common fear and enmity toward Iran, which appears to be headed toward nuclear weapon production, thanks to its agreement with the US and other world powers.

Guy Cohen


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Christian Charity 'Stands By' Its Terror-Funding Official - Joseph Puder

by Joseph Puder

How can one trust an organization that looked the other way when its Hamas employees embezzled millions of dollars?

Mohammad El Halabi, age 38, the regional operations manager at the international NGO World Vision, is not what the spokesperson of World Vision claims he is. The world’s largest Christian charity issued a statement saying, “World Vision stands by Mohammad who is a widely respected and well regarded humanitarian, field manager and trusted colleague of over a decade. He has displayed compassionate leadership on behalf of the children and communities of Gaza through difficult and challenging times, and has always worked diligently and professionally in fulfilling his duties."

Among El Halabi’s “duties,” according to Israel’s security, the Shin Bet (in Hebrew Shirut Bitahon), was to divert millions of dollars intended for Gaza’s civilian population, to the Hamas’s military wing. He also stole food and health packages intended to reach poor Gazans and injured children, to be used by Hamas terrorists. In the indictment filed against El Halabi last week, he is accused of funneling tens of millions of dollars in aid money from the U.S. and Europe, which was intended for the people of Gaza to fund the construction of terror tunnels aimed at kidnapping and killing Israeli military personnel as well as civilians. In addition, World Vision money went to fund Hamas’ rocket buildup and the construction of military posts.

On June 15, 2016 the Shin Bet arrested El Halabi at the Erez border crossing, charging him with serving six years as an agent of Hamas’ military wing, Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades.  According to the Shin Bet, El Halabi, a resident of Jabalia (in the Gaza Strip), was tasked with infiltrating World Vision, a U.S. based Christian aid group, and covertly funneling $7.2 million a year in aid money to Hamas.  Of that sum $1.5 million a year went to the Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades.  Simultaneously, Halabi also monetarily supported and cooperated with organizations supporting the BDS movement.

Additionally, Halabi admitted that the humanitarian aid money, about $4 million a year, was used to build tunnels and for purchasing arms.  He told his interrogators that food stores for the needy Gazans and funds to support children were also transferred to Hamas. To cover his schemes, Halabi set up fictitious humanitarian projects, and fictitious agricultural associations.  Hamas operatives were registered as workers in non-existent projects.  Halabi used invoices for such projects and passed the cash to Hamas.  Shin Bet investigators also alleged that Halabi initiated a project that involved building greenhouses that were actually used to mask tunnel building activities.

El Halabi also used $80,000 in British aid to pay salaries to Hamas operatives, and give bonuses to terrorists who fought against Israel during Operation Protective Edge in 2014. And, as already mentioned, funds were used to build Hamas military bases, including one code-named “Palestine” that was built in 2015, using British money.

Luke Akehurst, who is campaigning for membership in Britain’s Labor party National Executive Committee, had this to say about British funds going to Hamas. “Kind-hearted Brits have given tens of thousands of pounds to a Christian charity to help needy children in Gaza, only to find that they were duped and their money stolen and diverted to fund Hamas’s terrorist activities.  It’s outrageous that instead of helping Gazan children to be fed and clothed, Hamas prefers to build terrorist infrastructure, dig attack tunnels into Israel, pay their terrorist fighters, and buy missiles that will be used against Israeli civilians.”

According to Ynet-News (August 4, 2016) Israeli Legal Center Shurat HaDin has warned that “For the past four years that funds provided to Gaza by Christian mega charity World Vision, were being utilized for terrorism.”  In 2012, the Tel Aviv based Shurat HaDin notified both the Australian government and World Vision that their aid money was being transferred to front charities of Palestinian terror groups in Gaza.  The Australian government and World Vision ignored the warning at the time. The Australian government, in the meantime, has announced that it is suspending aid money to World Vision pending the conclusion of the investigation into the transfer of funds from humanitarian to military purposes.

Last Thursday, Israel Defense Forces General Yoav (Poli) Mordechai, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), met with the World Vision top leadership and presented the findings and confessions of Mohammad El Halabi’s interrogation, which involved his exploitation of the organization’s funds that went to benefit Hamas’s military wing.  The World Vision representatives said that they renounce any support, direct or indirect, to Hamas, and intend to cooperate transparently and in coordination with COGAT, as required.

World Vision President and CEO Keith Jenkins announced that his charity is investigating the Israeli allegations, and carrying out “a full review, including an externally conducted forensic audit.” Jenkins explained that “Last year, our work in Jerusalem, West Bank, and Gaza directly benefitted more than 92,000 children; nearly 40,000 of these were in Gaza. These projects focus on children’s psychological needs as well as providing medical and other supplies to hospitals, food relief, and re-establishing agricultural livelihood. These projects have been visited and reviewed by officials from the German and Australian governments, by international donors, and our staff and leaders from other countries.”

One wonders about World Vision and Mr. Jenkins personal credibility when it has been clearly established that the Hamas regime in Gaza has used women and children as human shields during recent Gaza wars.  Moreover, the World Vision has obviously ignored the hate-filled incitement in the educational system employed by the Palestinians in Gaza that poisons children’s minds with intolerance and hate toward Israelis and Jews.  If Hamas can abuse their own children, it stands to reason that Hamas’ operatives, such as El Halabi, would also abuse the trust of a Christian evangelical group, by diverting humanitarian aid for terrorist uses.

One has to conclude in the case of El Halabi that it was either Hamas cleverly exploiting World Vision or perhaps World Vision knowingly and deliberately allowing its donors to be exploited.  On its website, World Vision declares that it is “an organization you can trust.”  How then, can one trust an organization that looked the other way when its employees embezzled millions of dollars from western donors over a period of years? On the same website World Vision promotes its “Child Protection.” If indeed, World Vision cared so much for children, why hasn’t it condemned Hamas’s use of children as human shields? Or it’s placing of rocket launchers in hospitals and schools, thus endangering Palestinian children? And one should ask whether Jewish children in Israel do not deserve the same protection as Arab Muslim children in Gaza? The rocket launchers used by Hamas in schools and hospitals target Israeli schools and kindergardens with the intent to kill children.

Funding Islamic terrorists directly or indirectly to improve their potential to kill Jews is not exactly Christian charity.  Twentieth Century philosopher Karl Popper, in his book An Open Society and its Enemies wrote: “Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them…We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.”  World Vision funding and defense of its intolerant and irrational Hamas operatives is destructive to tolerant societies and tolerance itself.

Joseph Puder


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National Security Experts for Destroying America - Daniel Greenfield

by Daniel Greenfield

How the media lies about its parade of pro-Clinton national security experts.

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.

The media widely covered General Allen’s attack on Trump at the DNC and treated him as an apolitical national security expert. It neglected to mention that he works at Brookings or that the president of the Brookings Institution is Strobe Talbott. 

Talbott is an old friend of the Clintons. He got into government through them and worked for them as Deputy Secretary of State. He owes his current prominence largely to his Clinton connections. 

When Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, Talbott was one of the few to have close access to her. He is not only a political ally, but also a personal friend. And Brookings and the Clinton Foundation are entangled in a number of ways. One of those ways was Brookings’ extremely controversial sponsorship by Qatar which included a sizable payment to Bill Clinton to appear at the US Islamic World Forum. 

General Allen was also in attendance at the US Islamic World Forum.

The media did not see fit to inform its viewers, listeners and readers that General Allen wasn’t an apolitical national security expert, but was in the vest pocket of the Clintons.

When former CIA boss Mike Morell offered a splashy endorsement of Hillary Clinton combined with an attack on Trump, it made headlines. It made fewer headlines when the New York Times’ Public Editor mentioned several days later that the paper really ought to have noted that Morell was working at Beacon Global Strategies whose co-founders include two key Hillary people, Philippe Reines and Leon Panetta. It inevitably made no mention of Morell’s role in editing the Benghazi talking points.

Instead the media pretended that a story about a Hillary loyalist endorsing her was some sort of major development when it was really as predictable and meaningless as rain in Seattle.

Or lack of rain in Los Angeles.

Despite the finger wagging from its own public editor, the New York Times still refuses to mention that Morell had any economic or political ties to Hillary’s people. The only reason for this obstinacy is that it would expose a lie that the newspaper of false record insists on telling as often as it can. 

This unethical behavior is typical of the media’s onslaught of endorsements by national security professionals and former Republicans for Hillary and/or condemnations of Trump. These items run as editorials in major papers while lacking significant biographical information that would provide context. 

Instead the media has manufactured a narrative in which national security experts have decided that Trump is too dangerous to be trusted near nuclear weapons while one of the architects of the Arab Spring and its wave of Jihadist terror is the perfect choice to oversee our national security.

The notion that Hillary Clinton is a trusted national security choice is absurd on the face of it. Not only is she inexperienced, but her experience consisted of fostering the ISIS takeover of entire countries.

In reality, the Clinton campaign has recruited a number of people with impressive sounding titles and is rolling out endorsements and attacks by them in short order using major media outlets. Instead of reporting on the fact that this is a campaign tactic, the media not only provides a forum and free advertising for the Clinton campaign in its op-ed sections, but also maintains the illusion that this is an independent phenomenon rather than a fake viral campaign by their favored candidate.

The missing information is ubiquitous. For example, the media coverage of the joint statement by William Reilly and William Ruckelshaus identifies them as Republican EPA heads. It neglects to mention or even outright buries the fact that Reilly is a repeat Obama appointee. It chooses not to acknowledge the fact that he is a director at the Packard Foundation which has donated to the Clinton Foundation. 

And the missing information isn’t just limited to outright Hillary Clinton endorsements.

One of the latest high profile attacks on Trump is a Los Angeles Times op-ed titled, "I was a Minuteman III nuclear launch officer. Take it from me: We can't let Trump become president.” It’s quite a title. It also makes the ahistorical claim that the “very point of nuclear weapons is that they are never used.”

That would have come as news to Harry Truman and the city of Hiroshima.

Its author, John Noonan, is identified only as “a Republican national security expert and former Minuteman III nuclear launch officer”. It neglects to mention his more current role as “a principal defense writer for The Weekly Standard” or his time with the Foreign Policy Institute. Both are closely linked to Bill Kristol who has actively sought to recruit a third party challenger to Trump.

It should be a matter of elementary media ethics for the Los Angeles Times to have disclosed that their splashy op-ed is coming from the employee of a man who is focused on defeating Trump.

But as with Hillary’s people, the media instead offers up what it claims are apolitical national security experts while refusing to mention their political alliances and allegiances. 

The viral headlines touting Republicans who have switched to Hillary are equally likely to leave out pertinent details. Former Bush staffer Lezlee Westine is not “the latest Republican to cross party lines to back Clinton over Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump”. She did that back when she donated to Obama during his original campaign. Likewise Meg Whitman was left-wing on core issues and had served on Friends of Boxer. 

There is real journalism to be done here. A close look at the Chertoff Group and the Scowcroft Group might be far more illuminating when it comes to the motives of Hillary Clinton’s national security backers. But the media is not interested in shining a light on the issue, but throwing a dark curtain across it. Instead of engaging in anything even faintly resembling journalism, it has become a press release outlet for the Clinton campaign. 

This should come as a surprise to no one who remembers the pervasive media bias of the last two elections and yet the public does deserve to know the truth. By carefully censoring the biographical information that their readers receive, major newspapers are making their bad faith overt and clear.

There is nothing natural or grass roots about the rush of attacks on Trump and the endorsements of Hillary. None of them have anything to do with some supposedly shocking thing that Trump said.

The Clintons have spent decades building a vast network of political interests using the non-profit sector as a seed for their influence project. This has enabled the Clinton campaign to put on the kind of show we’ve been seeing this week. This show has been combined with media speculation about Trump’s implosion to construct a false narrative about national security experts fleeing to Hillary Clinton.

Once again the media has become the communications arm of a Democratic political campaign.

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.


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A Growing Trend: Brave Muslim Zionists - Noah Beck

by Noah Beck

A new Facebook page for Arab supporters of Israel has attracted about 20,000 visitors.

Muslims and Arabs who openly identify as Zionists are growing in number – powered by the freer flow of information and ideas made possible by social media and the search for answers in the wake of the Arab Spring and Islamist terror.

A new Facebook page for Arab supporters of Israel has attracted about 20,000 visitors. The page, which shares content in English, Arabic, and Hebrew, was founded by a religious Jewish woman and an Arab man. It posts examples of Israel treating Arabs and Muslims with kindness and shares surprising Arab support for Israel from across the Middle East, including Tunisians who created an Israeli flag after being unable to buy one, and who have faced threats for their views.

Muhammad Zoabi entered the spotlight as a proud Arab, Muslim Zionist in the summer of 2014. Just 17 at the time, Zoabi began to advocate for Israel in English, Arabic, and Hebrew. He posted a video demanding that Hamas release three Israeli teens who had been kidnapped a few weeks before Operation Protective Edge. Death threats soon forced Zoabi into hiding, and he found shelter with Kay Wilson, who had survived a brutal 2010 terrorist stabbing attack.

Zoabi became so popular that he reached his maximum friend limit (5,000) on Facebook, where there is even a page calling for him to be prime minister of Israel. Zoabi's Zionism is hardly surprising, given his upbringing. His mother, Sarah Zoabi, revealed her Israeli patriotism on national television. She introduced herself on the popular Israeli show "Master Chef" as an "Arab, Muslim, Israeli, proud Zionist" from the northern city of Nazareth. "I believe in the right of the Jewish people to have their own country, which is the state of Israel, the Holy Land.... I want to say to all the Arabs of Israel to wake up," she continued. "We live in paradise. Compared to other countries, to Arab countries – we live in paradise."

Zoabi's family also includes some fierce Israel haters, like his cousin Haneen Zoabi, who is a member of Israel's parliament but regularly uses her position to defame Israel and side with its enemies.

Another young Muslim Zionist is Mahdi Satri, a 17-year old, Israeli Arab, whose Gazan father helped the Shin Bet (Israel's domestic security services) and received political asylum to live in an Arab village near Acre. When neighbors learned that his father had helped Israel's security services, his family became a target. "After 3 years of violence against me after coming out publicly with my Zionism and I'm still the last man standing, standing against my village," he wrote last month.

"I regularly get threats. I get threats from people in my village and they say they will put two bullets in my head If I'm not gonna stop. I also get threats from Gaza, and from Ramallah, and from my mother's family."

A day earlier, Satri published critiques of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, blaming each for Israel's 2014 war with Gaza and defending Israel's use of force to protect "all the Israeli citizens: Jews, Muslims, Christians, atheist, Gays, Lesbians." He proudly notes that "Israel is the only democratic state in the Middle East."

He also attracted international attention last month with a social experiment in which he blindfolded himself and held a sign identifying himself as an Arab and inviting Tel-Avivians to embrace him. His heartwarming video (with nearly half a million views) reveals Israeli tolerance and was shared by the pro-Israel group StandWithUs.

Satri even paid his respects to the parents of Hallel Yaffa Ariel, who was stabbed to death in her bedroom by a Palestinian terrorist (Israeli TV news covered Satri's remarkable visit). "When they murdered her, they also took a piece of my heart, of me." He brought a yarmulke and an Israeli flag to his condolence visit.

Ahmed Meligy, who identifies himself as a proud Egyptian and Muslim, is another passionate advocate for Israel. Meligy has endured death threats and police arrest for his activism, which includes blogging for the Jerusalem Post, and supporting democracy in Egypt and warmer ties with Israel.

Another Egyptian-born, pro-Israel activist is Nonie Darwish, the founder of Arabs for Israel. In an interview, Darwish told the Investigative Project on Terrorism that her Zionist convictions were most strengthened by "the decency, humanity and integrity of the Jewish people in the face of adversity." She is friends with about a dozen Muslim Zionists and "will not have Muslim friends who do not support Israel."

Darwish left Islam for Christianity, as recounted in her book, Now They Call Me Infidel. Speaking to IPT, she said that "at the core of Islam is a deep envy of Jewish culture...Islam has violated all 10 commandments for the sake of jihad and to repel and destroy whom they envy. Islam...wants to destroy the competition."

Qanta Ahmed, the daughter of Pakistani immigrants to the UK, is a devout Muslim who has also warned about the risk of allowing Islamists to use Islamic blasphemy laws in order to monopolize the marketplace of ideas: "Americans and anti-Islamist Muslims everywhere must ensure that...freedom of...speech prevails, if religious freedoms and liberal democracies are to be preserved." An accomplished physician who practiced medicine in one of Islam's most conservative societies, she published "In the Land of Invisible Women: A Female Doctor's Journey in the Saudi Kingdom." Ahmed, who is now based in the U.S., has also eloquently supported Israel in her writing and decried the double standards applied to Israeli victims of terror.

Mosab Hassan Yousef also is an Arab Zionist who converted from Islam to Christianity. He is a Palestinian who worked undercover for the Shin Bet, from 1997 to 2007, but that was not his original plan.

"I wanted to infiltrate the Israeli Shin Bet in order to play a double agent and it ended up absolutely the opposite" after seeing Israel's values and humanity, he said in a 2013 Fox News interview. So I worked for them against Hamas movement ... against evil ... I did what was right to save a human life – Palestinians and Israelis."

Yousef's information is credited with preventing dozens of suicide attacks and assassinations of Israelis, and with exposing numerous Hamas cells. It also helped Israel to hunt down many terrorists, including Yousef's own father, Hamas leader Sheikh Hassan Yousef.

Yousef's story eventually became the subject of a best-selling book, The Son of Hamas, and a documentary film, "The Green Prince." Yousef, who discovered Christianity in 1999 and converted by 2005, has said that groups like Hamas, Hizballah, Boko Haram, ISIS are "all killing in the name of Allah."

"Israel is light, Israel is philosophy, Israel is values and ethics," he said during a 2015 speech before AIPAC. "And I cannot imagine the world without Israel."

The failure of the "Arab Spring" may help to explain the growing trend of Muslims and Arabs supporting Israel. As the hope of democratic reform faded and states crumbled into violent chaos and/or merciless crackdowns on protests, some willing to look past anti-Israel propaganda might admire the only example of a Middle East democracy that tolerates dissent, has a burgeoning economy, upholds the rule of law and human rights, and protects minorities.

For example, after Mohammad Hosseini escaped the horrors of ISIS in Iraq, he began to question many of the anti-Israel beliefs on which he was raised.

"I wanted to check the essence of the conspiracy theories, which are common in the Muslim and Arab world against Israel and the Jews," he wrote. "People told me that America and the Jews are responsible for all the problems but on the contrary I saw imams and many religious people joining ISIS willingly and out of admiration."

His research changed his mind about Israel and its conflict with the Palestinians.

"As long as people are committed to the destruction of Israel the Israelies (sic) have an obligation to defend themselves first," Hosseini added. "I want the Israelies (sic) to know that Israel has supporters amongst us. I hope that the Palestinian party would realize that it is unreasonable to kill and then come with demands against Israel, negotiations should be commenced with pure intentions."

Moreover, the singularly brutal approach of the Islamic State (ISIS) towards religious minorities, or even Sunni Muslims who dare to disagree with ISIS, does much – by way of extreme contrast – to highlight Israeli society's tolerance. Religious minorities in Israel like the Druze, have clearly taken notice, and prefer life under Israeli rule.

Gabriel Nadaf is a leader of the Aramaean Christian minority in Israel and a Greek Orthodox priest who encourages Israeli Christians to enlist in the IDF. In September 2014, he told the United Nations Human Rights Council that "Israel is the only place where Christians in the Middle East are safe." In February 2014, Monaliza Abdo, a young Arab Christian woman who voluntarily enlisted in the Israeli army, spoke publicly about her patriotism and determination to protect all Israelis.

But even members of the majority religion in the Middle East, Sunni Islam, serve in the IDF. There about 1,700 Bedouin Arabs who serve in the Israeli army.

And, as perhaps part of the broader trend of Arabs embracing their Israeli identity, Lucy Aharish, the first Muslim Arab presenter for one of Israel's top TV news channels, proudly defines herself as an Israeli: "Today, when people ask me 'What are you?' I say that I'm an Israeli. I'm not ashamed of my Israeliness. Then I'm a woman, and then I'm an Arab Muslim. That's the order: Israeli, woman, Arab Muslim."

A growing demographic of Zionist Muslims may eventually serve as the bridge to peace between Israel and the wider Islamic world. But as long as Islamist movements persist, such courageous individuals will likely face serious threats.

Noah Beck is the author of The Last Israelis, an apocalyptic novel about Iranian nukes and other geopolitical issues in the Middle East.


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Counting The Palestinians - Caroline Glick

by Caroline Glick

Assessing the dimensions of the demographic threat.

Originally published by the Jerusalem Post

In a surprise move last month, Hamas announced it will be participating in the Palestinian municipal elections in October. The Palestinian Authority’s Fatah leadership greeted Hamas’s announcement with deep and understandable anxiety. Hamas is expected to win control over a significant number, perhaps even a majority of municipal and local governments in Judea and Samaria.

PA leader Mahmoud Abbas (whose own fiveyear term in office ended six years ago) and his Fatah comrades aren’t the only ones worried. Last week, Yediot Aharonot’s military commentator, Alex Fishman, reported that the IDF’s senior leadership is also deeply concerned.


According to Fishman, in recent weeks Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has held a series of senior-level discussions, initially convened to discuss long-term Israeli strategic options in Judea and Samaria. Due to the IDF’s concerns over the elections, those discussions quickly devolved into a more limited discussion of how to prevent a Hamas electoral victory. 

Fishman reported that the top generals have convinced Liberman, who until now supported octogenarian Abbas’s swift retirement, that “it is Israel’s interest not only for Abu Mazen [Abbas] to remain in power, but to empower him still further.”

To this end, according to Fishman, Liberman has agreed to adopt a plan prepared by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), for Israel to transfer the Civil Administration’s planning and zoning authority in Area C to the PA. The plan also involves retroactively authorizing tens of thousands of Palestinian structures built illegally in Area C and authorizing the construction of a new Palestinian urban center in Area C.

Area C, it should be recalled, constitutes some 60 percent of Judea and Samaria. It has a negligible Palestinian population. All of the Israeli communities are located in Area C. The IDF holds sole security control over the area.

Area C is the only area where the Civil Administration retains governing functions. Areas A and B, where all the major Palestinian population centers are located, have been autonomously governed by the PA for 20 years.

The IDF’s plan is startling on several levels.

Since the earliest years of the Oslo peace process with the PLO, retaining Israeli control over planning and zoning powers in Area C has been a central goal of Israeli policy. Israel’s retention of these powers has enabled the IDF to retain security control over Area C and so defend not only the Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria, which are all located in Area C, but to defend Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and the rest of Israel’s major urban centers as well.

Why would the IDF recommend conceding these strategic interests just as Hamas is poised to gain significant power in Judea and Samaria? Even more to the point, what is the basis of the IDF’s assessment that by conceding these strategic assets Israel will enhance – let along guarantee – Fatah’s chances of winning in October? For the past 16 years, Israeli concessions have only served to make the Palestinians more contemptuous and hateful toward us.

Consider the case of the Gaza withdrawal. That operation, undertaken 11 years ago this week, was the largest single strategic concession Israel has made to the Palestinians in the past 23 years.

The Palestinians responded to Israel’s forcible expulsion of 10,000 of its citizens, the destruction of their communities and the withdrawal of all its security forces from Gaza by destroying the greenhouses Israel had given them free of charge and torching the synagogues it left behind.

Then five months later, they elected Hamas to lead them.

The actual harm that a Hamas electoral triumph will cause Israel is also completely unrelated to the IDF’s recommended course of action. If Hamas rises to power in various local governments in Judea and Samaria, the change will harm Israel in two ways.

First, in municipalities dominated by Hamas, we can expect for Fatah security forces to stop their anti-Hamas operations. This change will require the IDF to increase the tempo of its counterterror operations.

How will this be facilitated by giving up control over land policy in Area C? Second, with Hamas rising in power in the PA’s bureaucracy, we can expect for the PA to increase the amount of money it transfers monthly to the Hamas regime in Gaza.

To mitigate the damage, Israel will need to aggressively target foreign governmental and NGO funding to the PA in accordance with binding international and domestic terrorism financing statutes.

Here too, Israel’s task has nothing whatsoever to do with permitting the PA to conduct building projects on a massive scale in Area C.

Finally, even disregarding the fact that the IDF’s plan has no relationship whatsoever to the expected consequences of a Hamas electoral victory, it is hard to understand the intrinsic logic of the idea.

Is the IDF suggesting that Israel will give planning and zoning powers to a Hamas dominated PA in Area C? Or is it suggesting that the concession would be contingent on a Fatah victory? If the latter is the case, why do the generals believe that the Palestinians whose hatred for Israel is endemic, will be more likely to vote for Fatah because Israel is tipping the scales in Fatah’s favor? The practical irrelevance and strategic irrationality of the army’s recommended course of action make it hard to avoid the conclusion that the generals went into their meetings with Liberman with the goal of preventing him from developing a relevant strategy for contending with the elections specifically and the Palestinians in general.

Fishman implied that this was the case when he noted that COGAT has been lobbying for two years to give up planning and zoning powers and legalize tens of thousands of illegal Palestinian structures in Area C.

It is no secret that the IDF General Staff continues to support the strategic goal of Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria either in the framework of a peace deal with the PLO, or if necessary with no deal. So it makes sense that they use every perceived crisis as a means to advance this goal, even though both the two-state policy and the unilateral withdrawal policy failed completely years ago.

The main objective motivation for the IDF’s arguably insubordinate behavior is the generals’ desire to avoid dealing with Israel’s demographic challenge. This is a challenge Israel has worked to avoid facing since it ended Jordanian occupation of Judea and Samaria in 1967.

Israel has a dilemma with regards to Judea and Samaria. It needs to control the areas for security reasons. It wishes to control the areas because they are the cradle of Jewish civilization. But it fears retaining control over them because it wishes to retain its massive Jewish majority.

Israelis worry that adding the Palestinians to the population registry will destroy that three quarters majority. If that happens, so the thinking goes, Israel will lose its international legitimacy on the one hand, and end the Zionist dream of Jewish sovereignty on the other.

Regarding the issue of international legitimacy, events over the past 16 years have shown that international sentiment towards Israel is not positively impacted either by Israeli concessions to the Palestinians or by the Palestinians’ open rejection of Israel’s right to exist. To the contrary, ever since the Palestinians rejected statehood in July 2000 and opted for perpetual war with Israel, the level of international support for them has continuously risen, while support for Israel, particularly in the West, has consistently eroded.

This state of affairs indicates that there is no direct correlation, and there may indeed be an indirect correlation between Israel’s international status and its willingness to make territorial concessions to the Palestinians. Consequently, Israel should not take the issue of international legitimacy into account in its strategic discussions of its long-term policy goals in Judea and Samaria.

As for our genuine domestic concerns, the truth is that if adding the Palestinians of Judea and Samaria to Israel’s population registry as permanent residents or citizens destroys Israel’s Jewish majority, then we will need to suffice with something less than complete sovereignty over Judea and Samaria.

The problem with determining how to proceed is that we simply don’t know what will happen.

We have no idea how many Palestinians live in Judea and Samaria. All we have are competing unofficial estimations of that number.

The Left ascribes to the demographic doomsday scenario. Based entirely on PA population data, the Left insists that Jews will cease to be the majority west of the Jordan River almost immediately if we aren’t already the minority.

Consequently, leftists charge that anyone who recognizes that the two-state formula and the unilateral withdrawal option have failed is the moral equivalent of an anti-Zionist.

The Right argues that the Palestinian population data are deliberately fabricated. In 2005, the independent American-Israeli Demographic Research Group published its first in-depth assessment of the Palestinian data. That study, and follow- on studies in subsequent years demonstrated that the Palestinians exaggerated their population size by 50 percent, adding some 1.5 million people to their population rolls that simply do not exist.

Based on the AIRDG’s data, and on the fact that Israel’s fertility rates are higher than Palestinian fertility rates in Judea and Samaria, and that Jewish immigration rates to Israel are rising steeply while Palestinian emigration rates remain high, the Right has concluded that far from being a threat, demographics are a strategic asset for Israel.

Unfortunately, none of this is the least helpful to Liberman, or anyone else, frankly. So long as we don’t have official, accepted Israeli data on the size of the Palestinian population, we cannot have a real debate about our strategic options going forward.

And as Liberman insists, we need such a debate.

We need to conduct a reassessment of our relations with the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria regardless of the results of the municipal elections.

To this end, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should appoint a team to find out just how many Palestinians there are, and, no, Israel won’t need to send census workers to knock on doors in Ramallah or Jenin to accomplish this goal. We won’t even need to rely on PA data.

All we need to determine the size of the Palestinian population in Judea and Samaria is a team of researchers capable of analyzing aerial photographs of Judea and Samaria, of interpreting Palestinian electricity and water usage data, and of collecting emigration data from the crossing points to Jordan and from Ben Gurion Airport.

To minimize the danger that the data will be politicized, Netanyahu should appoint representatives of the warring demographic factions to the study group where they will be joined by analysts from the National Security Council.

There are no magic solutions to our problems with the Palestinians. But there are options other than repeating let alone expanding on failed policies.

To develop these options, Israel needs to know the dimensions of the demographic threat.

Caroline Glick is the Director of the David Horowitz Freedom Center's Israel Security Project and the Senior Contributing Editor of The Jerusalem Post. For more information on Ms. Glick's work, visit


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ISIS abducts 2,000 civilians in north Syria - Arutz Sheva North America

by Arutz Sheva North America

ISIS jihadists kidnap around 2,000 civilians to use as "human shields" in Manbij.

Civilians flee Syria's Manbij
Civilians flee Syria's Manbij
Islamic State (ISIS) group fighters seized around 2,000 civilians to use as "human shields" Friday as they fled their stronghold of Manbij in northern Syria, U.S.-backed forces and a monitor said.

The abductions came as Russian and Syrian jets pounded rebel positions in second city Aleppo, AFP reported.

The Arab-Kurdish alliance known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) expelled most of the ISIS fighters from Manbij last week, but dozens continued to put up a tough resistance.

On Friday they withdrew from a district in northern Manbij heading for the ISIS-held town of Jarabalus along the border with Turkey, taking the captives with them.

"While withdrawing from a district of Manbij, Daesh (ISIS) jihadists abducted around 2,000 civilians from Al-Sirb neighborhood," said Sherfan Darwish, spokesman for the Manbij Military Council, a key component of the SDF.

"They used these civilians as human shields as they withdrew to Jarabulus, thus preventing us from targeting them," he said, adding that women and children were among those taken.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on sources on the ground to cover the conflict, also reported that ISIS had abducted around 2,000 civilians as they fled Manbij.

It said ISIS confiscated residents' cars, forced civilians into them and then headed for Jarabulus.

The jihadists, who have suffered a string of losses in Syria and Iraq, have often staged mass kidnappings in the two countries when they come under pressure to relinquish territory they hold.

In January, ISIS abducted more than 400 civilians, including women and children, as it overran parts of Deir Ezzor province in eastern Syria. It later released around 270 of them.

ISIS has also used civilians as human shields, booby-trapped cars and carried out suicide bombings to slow advances by their opponents and avoid coming under attack.

Jaish al-Islam, another major Syrian rebel group, has also in the past reportedly used dozens of captives in metal cages as "human shields" on the outskirts of Damascus.

Manbij was a key transit point along ISIS's supply route from the Turkish border to Raqa, the de facto capital of its self-styled Islamic "caliphate".

The Britain-based Observatory says the battle for Manbij claimed the lives of at least 437 civilians -- including 105 children -- and killed 299 SDF fighters and 1,019 jihadists.

Syria's conflict erupted in March 2011 and has since killed more than 290,000 people and drawn in world powers on all sides of the war.

AFP contributed to this report.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)

Arutz Sheva North America


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