Friday, December 9, 2016

Watch What Iran Does, But Also Listen To What They Say - Kenneth R. Timmerman

by Kenneth R. Timmerman

"Death to America" chants are still reverberating loudly in Tehran.

President-Elect Trump will be tested by the Islamic state of Iran soon after taking office on January 20. It could come the very day of his inauguration with an enormous (if superficial) head-fake, as they gave President Reagan by releasing our U.S. diplomat-hostages the very minute he swore the oath of office. Or it could come later, in a less benign form.

But this much is certain: that test will come, and the foreign policy establishment in Washington will fail to see it coming and mistakenly interpret it once it occurs. Again.

Establishment analysts focus on Iran’s actions. In itself, that is not a bad thing, but it’s kind of like buying a peach at an American supermarket because of its wonderful good looks, only to cut it open at home to find it wooden and tasteless.

In addition to examining Iran’s actions, we need to pay close attention to what the Islamic regime’s leaders say. We need to understand their ideology, and their goals. Above all, we must not assume – as most analysts do – that they think using the same cost-benefit calculus we do.

This is a regime driven by ideology, fueled on a vision of the end times just as our sun is fueled by its magma. Only rarely does the fuel erupt and become a measurable “event,” although when that happens, it can be deadly. Scientists have warned for years that our electric power grid is vulnerable not only to man-made Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP), but to a massive coronal ejection from the sun.

In the same way, the United States remains vulnerable to a massive event, potentially devastating, caused by the confluence of the Iranian regime’s ideology and its military capabilities. Like EMP or a massive coronal ejection, such an occurrence will be a low probability-high impact event. Will we detect that confluence before it happens? If the past record of our intelligence community and our political leaders is any guage, the answer is a resounding no.

Here’s why.

Even the best analysts of the foreign policy establishment limit their analysis to the actions and capabilities of the regime. They note, for example, that when the United States Navy retaliated by sinking Iranian warships after the regime’s unpredicted and confusing decision to lay mines in the Strait of Hormuz, the regime leadership backed off.  Operation Praying Mantis is still viewed as a resounding success.

They mistakenly took this to mean that the ruling clerics and the fanatical Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) who serve them respected American power; specifically, that they can be deterred.

They discount the chants of “Death to America” the regime leaders have instilled in the generations of the revolution as so much hot air. It’s just bombast. Nothing to see here. Move along, the analysts say.

As proof there is nothing to this relentless inculcation of the regime’s ultimate goal they point to similar claims involving the military. For decades, military leaders have claimed they were building indigenous fighter jets, helicopters and tanks; none have ever moved beyond a few prototypes.

Iranians are prone to exaggeration, they say. How can you tell an Iranian is lying? Because his lips are moving. I have heard respected U.S. intelligence analysts make such a silly – and dangerous – claim.

And of course, Iranians are prone to exaggeration. That much is true. But even in those exaggerations, they reveal their goals and aspirations, and we simply dismiss them as hot air.

For nearly thirty-five years, IRGC leaders and their clerical puppet-masters have boasted they would drive the United States from the Middle East.

“I can remember my father telling me after the Beirut attack on the U.S. Marines that Iran had won,” the son of former IRGC commander Maj. Gen. Mohsen Rezai told me after he defected to the United States. “He said, with a single bomb, we have forced the Americans to pull out of Lebanon. With a few more bombs, we will force them out of the region entirely.”

Such was their goal at that time, and it remains their goal today—except that they are a lot closer to fulfilling it. What once was a long-term aspiration, which nobody in the Washington policy establishment believed, has become a tactical goal whose accomplishment Iran’s leadership can see on the near horizon.

Ever since October 1983 when the regime ordered its proxies to murder 242 U.S. Marines, they have been probing our weaknesses. That is the only way you can explain the outrageous violation of international law in January 2016 when IRGC gunboats captured U.S. sailors gone adrift at sea and humiliated them in front of cameras.

That’s the only way you can understand the installation of Chinese made C-802 ship-killing missiles on the Red Sea coast of Yemen, where IRGC crews actually fired on a U.S. warship in October.

They are testing us, probing our defenses and our willingness to accept pain. They are constantly evaluating our political resolve to resist their goal of driving us from the region.

Under Obama, of course, they found us sorely lacking. From his first days in office, President Obama told the Iranians openly he would end the long-standing U.S. “hostility” toward the Islamic regime. He wanted to “open a channel” for talks, and did.

Iran’s ruling mullahs quickly decided to test Mr. Obama. When three million Iranians took to the streets of Tehran and other cities to protest the stolen “re-selection” of President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad as President, they held up signs in English for the CNN cameras. “Obama are you with us?” they said.

When Obama failed to respond or provide even lip-service to the yearning for freedom of the Iranian people, the regime responded on cue. Regime officials went on state television, pointing to photos of the U.S. president.“Obam’ast,” they said, turning his name into a play on words. “He’s with us.”

And Obama showed by his actions that he was with them. As Congress imposed an ever-rigorous set of sanctions aimed to reducing Iran’s oil exports and access to international financing, Obama initially waived their application. Only a relentless bi-partisan push-back caused him to allow the sanctions go into force – with devastating impact on Iran’s economy.

By 2014, the regime was scrambling, fearful that income from reduced oil exports would not be enough to cover subsidies on basic foodstuffs to the poor, leading their most faithful supporters to revolt.

That is when Obama carried out the most astonishing, unnecessary, unilateral capitulation since Chamberlin went to Munich in 1938, offering to remove the sanctions for a temporary reduction in Iran’s nuclear programs.

The traditional foreign policy establishment and its ally, the pro-Tehran lobby, is holding seminars and writing opeds and whispering into whatever ears they can find that President-Elect Trump must hold on to the nuclear deal.

Why? It’s all about actions, and can be measured. They do not want the President-Elect or his advisors focusing on the intentions and goals of Iran’s clerical leaders and their IRGC enforcers. Because to do so would reveal not just the folly, but the tremendous danger inherent in the nuclear deal, which legitimizes the Islamic state of Iran as a nuclear power ten years down the road.

What’s ten years, when you are staring at all eternity? That’s how Ayatollah Khamenei and the IRGC generals think. That’s how their successors will think, if the current regime remains in power.

Their goal was and remains to erase Israel from the map (or “from the pages of history,” if you want to get literal), and to bring about Death to America. And yet, if there’s any effort underway to measure their progress toward those goals in our intelligence and policy establishment, none of our political leaders have taken it seriously.

We ignore the ideology of the Tehran regime and its long-term goals at our peril. President-Elect Trump needs strategists who think outside the box, one reason I am thrilled by the appointments of Lt. General Mike Flynn as National Security advisor and General James T. Mattis as Secretary of Defense.

The Iranians know there’s not a moment to lose. Do we?

Kenneth R. Timmerman


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Congress demands that Obama veto anti-Israel resolutions - Yoel Domb

by Yoel Domb

U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation urging Obama to oppose anti-Israel resolutions at the UN.

Barack Obama
Barack Obama
The U.S. House of Representatives recently unanimously passed bipartisan legislation urging President Barack Obama to oppose or veto anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations before he leaves office.

The resolution, which was approved by voice vote, calls on the United States “to oppose and veto United Nations Security Council resolutions that seek to impose solutions to final status issues, or are one-sided and anti-Israel.” It also calls on Obama to reject any resolution that sets ‘parameters’ for a final settlement between Israel and the Palestinians.

Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce’s (R-CA) said before the vote that “there is a growing concern in Congress that despite established, bipartisan United States policy, the Obama Administration may end the practice of vetoing resolutions in the Security Council that strayed from the principle that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be resolved through direct negotiations between the parties. U.S. policy has long and wisely been that only Israelis and Palestinians can work out a peace agreement between themselves, and that efforts to impose one would be counterproductive.”

Following the vote, House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement, “Republicans and Democrats agree that a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians can only be achieved through direct negotiations. Today, the House urged the Obama administration to forcefully oppose any unilateral moves by the UN to impose a solution to the conflict. These efforts, which almost always place disproportionate pressure on Israel, only push the parties further apart and undermine the cause of peace.”

“I’m proud to be part of a broad, bipartisan coalition in Congress that stands up for our ally Israel and works to ensure that Israelis have the support they need to pursue a secure peace that will bring safety and opportunity to all people in the region,” House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer said in a statement.

In an Op-Ed published by the New York Times last week, former President Jimmy Carter called on Obama to recognize an independent Palestinian state at the UN before leaving office. “I am certain that United States recognition of a Palestinian state would make it easier for other countries that have not recognized Palestine to do so, and would clear the way for a Security Council resolution on the future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Carter wrote.

“The Security Council should pass a resolution laying out the parameters for resolving the conflict. It should reaffirm the illegality of all Israeli settlements beyond the 1967 borders, while leaving open the possibility that the parties could negotiate modifications.”

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, on the other hand, expressed his hope that the president will stick to his prior commitments to veto one-sided anti-Israel resolutions at the UN Security Council.

“I expect that in the twilight of President Obama’s tenure he will stand by what he said in 2011, that the way to achieve peace does not run through Security Council resolutions, but rather direct negotiations with the Palestinians, which has been the US position for years,” Netanyahu said during a memorial ceremony on Mount Herzl for soldiers killed in the 1956 Sinai campaign.

Yoel Domb


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'Tacit Consent' in Israeli-Russian Relations - Joseph Puder

by Joseph Puder

Moscow is not interfering with Israeli attacks on Hezbollah in Syria.

One of the most interesting stories, if not the most puzzling, is the close understanding and amity between Jerusalem and Moscow.  While the Russian Air Force pounds the civilian population in Aleppo on behalf of the Syrian dictator Bashar Assad and his Iranian allies, Russia is coordinating the moves of its Air Force in Syria with Israel’s Air Force.  Moscow is not interfering with Israeli attacks on Hezbollah convoys carrying lethal arms shipped to Syria by Iran, as the Shiite terrorist group is attempting to move these arms to Lebanon.  Walla, a Hebrew language Israeli news outlet wrote on December 1, 2016 that “Russia’s silence following reports that the Israeli Air Force bombed an arms depot and a Hezbollah bound weapons convoy in Syria on Wednesday might signal ‘tacit consent’ to such action as long as they do not harm Kremlin’s interests.”  Israel, on its part, is staying out of the civil war in Syria, but provides medical assistance to wounded opposition fighters combatting the Assad regime.

The Obama administration failure to act on its announced “Red Line,” (on Assad’s use of chemical warfare on fellow Syrians) and subsequently leaving the Syrian arena in Russian hands, has damaged U.S. credibility in the region.  It has also encouraged Russia to take aggressive action against opposition forces supported by the U.S., and Syrian civilians.

Gen. Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the Russian defense ministry said according to Russian RT-TV (11/29/2016) that, “Over the past few days, well planned and careful action by the Syrian troops resulted in a radical breakthrough.  Half of the territory previously held by the militants in eastern Aleppo has been de facto liberated.”  Konashenkov’s cynical statement referring to the Assad regime’s brutal actions in attacking (along with Russian aerial support) civilians in homes, hospitals and schools with barrel-bombs to be “well planned and careful action,” sharply contrasts with Israeli hospitals opening their doors to perform truly humanitarian work by treating wounded Syrian civilians and fighters. 

Konashenkov also stressed that “over 80,000 Syrians, including tens of thousands of children, have been freed.  Many of them, at long last were able to get water, food and medical assistance at humanitarian centers deployed by Russia.  Those Syrians served as human shields in Aleppo for terrorists of all flavors.” That statement is turning the truth upside down.  After relentless bombing by Russian and Syrian jets that have killed thousands (mostly Sunni civilians), these Syrians do not consider Russia’s role as “humanitarian.”

Putin’s Russia has saved Bashar Assad’s skin, and has done so for purely Russian interests, including air and naval bases in the Latakia Governorate of northwestern Syria, bordering the coveted Mediterranean Sea.  Putin’s Russia has planned to sell, and according to Russian and Iranian sources, already delivered to Iran the highly sophisticated S-300 air defense system.  Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in his many meetings with Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, implored the latter not to sell such weapons to the Islamic Republic of Iran.  Thomas Shannon, U.S. Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs, said that, “We have made it very clear to the Russians that we consider this (the sale of the S-300) to be a bad move, that we consider it to be destabilizing and not in keeping with what we’ve been trying to accomplish, not only through the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal) , but broadly in terms of our engagement with Iran.”

Putin’s Russia alliance with the Syrian dictator Bashar Assad and the repressive Islamic Republic of Iran notwithstanding, to watch the warm reception Benjamin Netanyahu received in the Kremlin by his host Vladimir Putin is most certainly eyebrow raising, if not an amazing phenomenon.  Considering decades of Soviet support for Israel’s enemies, and oppression of its Jews, Putin’s Russia has a rather warm spot for the remaining Jews in Russia, and satisfaction with the Russian cultural enclave in Israel.  In fact, outside the former Soviet Union, Israel has probably the largest Russian speaking population.  Putin felt at home when he visited Israel, first in April, 2005, as he met for discussions with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.  In June, 2012, Putin was in Israel again on an official visit.  This time, he unveiled the national monument honoring the memory of Jewish soldiers in the Red Army who fought the Nazis in WWII.  He also met with PM Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres.  Reuter’s story by Josh Cohen on January 14, 2016 was headlined, “Vladimir Putin is the closest thing to a friend Israel has ever had in Moscow.”  And yet, Putin’s Russia has continued to vote with the Palestinians at the UN, has helped Iran with its nuclear program, and sold missiles to both Iran and Syria.

Stalin, the Soviet Union murderous tyrant was one of the first to recognize the Jewish state in 1948, and sold arms through Czechoslovakia to the nascent Jewish nation.  At the same time, Stalin ordered the murder of Jewish anti-fascist leaders in Russia, and made anti-Semitism a state policy.  Following the Six-Day war in 1967, the Soviet Union severed diplomatic relations with Israel, and during the War of Attrition (1969-1970), Soviet pilots flew missions for the Egyptians.  Israeli pilots engaged and downed a number of Soviet pilots (Israel never publicized it in order not to inflame the Russians).  During the Yom Kippur War of 1973, the Soviets were heavily involved with the Arab war machine against Israel, providing Egypt and Syria with huge quantities of arms, including lethal missiles.

The last leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, renewed diplomatic ties with Israel in 1991. Putin’s personal admiration for Israel elevated its profile in Russian foreign policy.  The Arab market for Russian arms is a lucrative one, and it is therefore pragmatism that motivates Putin along with personal sympathy for Israel and Jews.  Israel’s experience with Islamist terrorism made it sympathetic to Russia in its 1999 war in Chechnya, which dealt with combatting Islamist terror.  The Jerusalem Post quoted Putin telling Netanyahu that Israel and Russia are “unconditional allies” in the war against terror. In fact, Putin was one of the few world leaders to support Israel’s Operation Protective Edge against Hamas in 2014.  Putin is quoted as saying, “I support Israel’s battle that is intended to keep its citizens protected.”
In 2008, Israel made significant gestures towards Putin’s Russia.  It transferred to Russia parts of the Russian Orthodox compound (Sergei courtyard) in Jerusalem.  In the same year, Israel halted military supplies to Georgia (at war with Russia at the time) for a Russian promise not to sell the S-300 air-defense system to Iran.  Israel has also been neutral in the conflict between Russia and the Ukraine. It did not condone Russian aggression there, but seeks to avoid alienating Moscow.  For the same reason, Israel abstained on a UN vote that condemned Russia for its annexation of Crimea.

The Obama administration’s open dislike for Netanyahu’s government, has forced Israel to look elsewhere for support.   Avigdor Lieberman, (a native of Moldavia, part of the former Soviet Union) Israel’s former Foreign Minister and current Defense Minister greatly enhanced Russian-Israeli relations.  The incoming Trump administration, seeking to reset relations with Russia, might find Israel to be a trusted go-between in dealing with Putin. This might aid the incoming U.S. administration, while at the same time further strengthen Israeli-Russian relations.

Joseph Puder


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Shari'a Law Meets the Internet - Denis MacEoin

by Denis MacEoin

Shari'a councils should not have the right effectively to deny women rights they hold as British citizens under British law.

  • In the end, the biggest problem is that there is no system of external regulation for the councils. There is no legal requirement for them to keep full records of the cases they adjudicate on, no requirement to report to a civil authority with the right to prevent abuses, and not even a requirement for any council to register with a government agency.
  • The Muslim Brotherhood in the US itself listed the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA) as one of several organizations who shared their goals, including the destruction of Western civilization and the conversion of the US into a Muslim nation.
  • The "minorities" jurisprudents generally favour a non-violent approach to the encounter of Islam and the West, while retaining a critical stance towards the latter and a conviction that Islam must, in the end, replace it. But on occasion, as in the Middle East, violence is sanctioned.

The UK has for several years faced problems with its growing number of shari'a councils (often misleadingly called courts). These councils operate outside British law, yet frequently give rulings on matters such as divorce, child custody, inheritance and more, which are based on Islamic law and in contradiction of the rights of individuals (usually women) under UK legislation. Many Muslim communities in cities such as Bradford, Birmingham, Luton, or boroughs such as Tower Hamlets in London are both sizeable and close-knit; individuals in them are made to live lives in accordance with Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Islamic traditional norms. This means that contact with British life at large is often restricted, with a lack of assimilation that traps many women and girls into lives very close to the lives of their sisters in Muslim countries.

Much of the concern about the "courts" has been expressed by Baroness Caroline Cox, whose bill to limit their impact on Muslim women has passed more than once through the House of Lords and, recently, into the House of Commons. Her personal determination and clear-sightedness have meant that the matter has remained for several years a focus for debate in politics and the media. Her arguments have received widespread support from women's rights organizations, especially several concerned with the rights of Muslim women.

This year, in addition, two important academic studies of the issue have appeared. First was Machteld Zee's "Choosing Sharia?: Multiculturalism, Islamic Fundamentalism & Sharia Councils," which appeared in January. Zee is a Dutch political and legal scholar who carried out research in the UK, where she was given limited access to two shari'a councils, one in Birmingham and one in London. Her book devotes much time to the problems of what she calls "Essentialist Multiculturalism," specifically the way multiculturalist theorists condemn individuals to be treated according to the culture and religion to which they belong, rather than as people who may wish to reject one or both of these.

An equally pertinent and academically sound treatise appeared in May: Elham Manea's "Women and Shari'a Law: The Impact of Legal Pluralism in the UK." Manea is of Yemeni origin; an Associate Professor in the Political Science Institute at the University of Zurich, a Fulbright Scholar, and a consultant for Swiss government agencies and international human rights organizations. Her book also focuses on the way in which multiculturalism undermines individual rights, especially in a chapter entitled, "A Critical Review of the Essentialist Paradigm."

"Essentialists" demand that individuals conform to the cultural and legal norms of whatever community they are born into, and apparently prefer a multiculturalist vision of competing cultures and faith groups that maintain social distinctions. rather than mixed but well-integrated societies. The result is that restrictions are placed on the freedom of individuals to take their own path in life. In the instance of close-knit Muslim communities, the heaviest impact is on women. This involves forced and early marriage, first-cousin marriage, restriction of education for girls, rejection of appeals for divorce, denial of a woman's right to child custody, and enforcement of the rule that women are only entitled to much lower inheritance payments than their brothers. It also means that women are limited in their freedom to work. In fundamentalist communities, their loss of that freedom means that they are forced to stay in the home to cook and look after children. This loss of freedom effectively destroys their opportunity to work (or be educated) alongside men. Women are often forbidden to adopt Western clothing norms even while living in open, Western societies. Shari'a "courts" have a deeply regressive influence on matters such as these.

Baroness Cox does not call for the abolition of the shari'a councils, given that Muslims have a right to turn to their own advisors for advice. But shari'a councils should not have the right effectively to deny women rights they hold as British citizens under British law. Many Muslim women are married purely under Islamic law and their marriages are not registered by civil registrars: this means that they can be denied their right to ask for a divorce or child custody from British courts. In the end, the biggest problem is that there is no system of external regulation for the councils. There is no legal requirement for them to keep full records of the cases they adjudicate on, no requirement to report to a civil authority with the right to prevent abuses, and not even a requirement for any council to register with a government agency -- leading to the problem of how many councils exist in the country.

Haitham al-Haddad is a British shari'a council judge, and sits on the board of advisors for the Islamic Sharia Council. Regarding the handling of domestic violence cases, he stated in an interview, "A man should not be questioned why he hit his wife, because this is something between them. Leave them alone. They can sort their matters among themselves." (Image source: Channel 4 News video screenshot)

If political reluctance to upset Muslims is not allowed to prevent Caroline Cox's bill from becoming law, then there is hope that proper regulation will succeed the present chaos and irregularity that surround the councils as they are now operated. But even this may not be enough. Because of this absence of proper supervision, shari'a rulings impact British Muslims from three directions: through the shari'a councils, from the larger bodies to the informal "courts" that are reputed to operate from small terraced houses in Bradford, Birmingham and elsewhere; through the many online fatwa "banks" (websites) to which individuals refer themselves; and through the fatwas issued by the European Council for Fatwa and Research, based in Dublin.

These last two sources of shari'a rulings are usually ignored in studies of Islamic law in Britain, but they do, in fact, account for an undetermined number of responses to questions from individual Muslims in this country, and more formal diktats seen as binding across Europe, including the UK.

What I term "fatwa banks" are websites run either by individual muftis[1] or larger collective sites on an international scale. The sites I used in "Sharia Law or One Law for All" were Sunnipath, Ask Imam (answers from South Africa, but accessed through the Jamia Madina Mosque in Hyde), Madrasa In'aamiyyah, Darul Iftaa Leicester[2],[3], Ask the Scholar, Ask an Alim, Leicester, and the Islamic Shariah Council (Leyton in London).

Others operate out of other countries and in different languages, but can be accessed from the UK without difficulty. The most popular is IslamQ&A, which provides rulings in English and fifteen other languages. It is run from Saudi Arabia by the Salafi mufti Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid, and is not only one of the most popular Salafi websites, but also, according to, the world's most popular website on the topic of Islam generally. The impact of its fatwas worldwide cannot be exaggerated. It includes some rulings on jihad.[4] There is no space here to reproduce these in full, but here are a few in brief that show the extent to which shari'a rulings diverge from British laws and values.
  1. Waging jihad against Americans (and other enemies of Islam) is to be encouraged.
  2. Shari'a law takes priority over secular law.
  3. A husband may prohibit his wife from leaving the house.
  4. Shari'a law can override British courts.
  5. A Muslim lawyer should not always act in accordance with UK law where it contradicts shari'a.
  6. Polygamy is acceptable even if against the law.
  7. A man may divorce his wife but keep that a secret from her.
  8. Execution or severe beating for homosexuals is correct.
  9. A wife has no property rights in case of divorce.
  10. There is no requirement to register a marriage according to the law of the country one lives in.
  11. A Muslim woman may not marry a non-Muslim man.
  12. Insurance is forbidden even if required by law.
  13. Child marriage is justified.
  14. A husband is not obliged to support a childless wife.
  15. A husband has conjugal rights over his wife. "Both partners have the right to have their physical demands met." The only difference is that the husband may demand this, while the wife cannot.
  16. Divorce does not require a witness.
  17. Taking out insurance is forbidden.
  18. Medical insurance schemes are forbidden.
  19. If being a police officer in West contradicts shari'a, it is forbidden.
  20. Beating one's wife is permissible (unless it harshly done).
  21. The mere intention to divorce is sufficient to make it valid, regardless of what is said.
Many of the above rulings are shocking, and by no means all websites or British shari'a councils will endorse many of them. But there they are, freely available to Muslims everywhere. If a believer tends towards strict interpretations of the sacred texts or the laws, he or she may well gravitate to fatwa banks such as these, and may well act on their basis rather than on the judgements of the nearest shari'a council. After all, what real authority do the muftis on the councils have beyond that of the other, online muftis? Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, for example, outranks pretty well all other contemporary Muslim authorities, with his TV show "Shari'a and Life" reaching an estimated 60 million viewers, and his learned essays promoting his personal views within the overall context of the Muslim Brotherhood, one of the most fundamentalist of today's Islamic organizations.

Let us leave the British councils for a moment. There is another external source of fatwas. In many Muslim states, shari'a laws may be, and often are, imposed, often to the extent of punishing crimes from theft to murder. This means that matters that would not be crimes in Western states, such as adultery, blasphemy, or apostasy receive corporal punishments or the death penalty.

Knowing that there is no freedom in the West to criminalize these latter faults or to apply shari'a punishments for them, it became essential to come up with fatwas that would give authoritative guidance to Muslims in Western countries on how to conduct themselves in the "Land of War" ("Dar al Harb", the opposite of the "Land of Islam") while remaining shari'a-observant. The overall aim is to bring shari'a into Western societies by the back door. Even if Western governments like that of the UK were to find ways to register and control shari'a courts, or even abolish them, religious authorities could subvert this by presenting fatwas that would recommend certain behaviours for individuals and small communities.

The deliberations of the jurisprudents resulted in the need to adapt shari'a rulings to the situation of large-scale Muslim communities living outside enforceable Islamic jurisdictions. This endeavour has been termed Fiqh al-'Aqalliyyat ("Jurisprudence of the minorities"). The purpose of this system -- in which the classical system of Muslims ruling non-Muslims has been reversed -- is to find a way to use shari'a without incurring the wrath of the indigenous legal system in secular parliamentary democracies. This has some resemblance to Muslim efforts during the colonial era to use shari'a in personal affairs in British and French colonies such as India or Algeria.

In its current form, the jurisprudence of the minorities dates back to the 1990s. It was developed by two individuals, the formerly mentioned Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi and the late Shaykh Dr. Taha Jabir al-Alwani of Virginia. Al-Qaradawi is, among other things, president of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, a body founded in 2004 with its headquarters in the vastly wealthy Wahhabi state of Qatar. Its close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood have led to its designation by the United Arab Emirates as a terrorist organization. It boasts a membership of at least 90,000 Islamically-qualified scholars from around the world, representing several different sectarian positions.

Al-Alwani (d. 2016) was the founder and former chairman of the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA), whose 18 members issue religious rulings, resolve disputes, and answer questions relating to Islamic practice. Their declared purpose:
"To consider, from a Shari'ah perspective, and offer advice on specific undertakings, transactions, contracts, projects, or proposals, guaranteeing thereby that the dealings of North American Muslims fall within the parameters of what is permitted by the Shari'ah."
The FCNA too has close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, which may, under a bill launched by Senator Ted Cruz, soon be designated by the US as a terrorist organization in its own right. The Muslim Brotherhood in the US itself listed the FCNA as one of several organizations who shared their goals, including the destruction of Western civilization and the conversion of the US into a Muslim nation.

The "minorities" jurisprudents generally favour a non-violent approach to the encounter of Islam and the West, while retaining a critical stance towards the latter and a conviction that Islam must, in the end, replace it. But on occasion, as in the Middle East, violence is sanctioned. When asked in an interview about Palestinian suicide bombings, al-Alwani responded, "We think that the Palestinian people have the right to defend themselves in the way they view as suitable and we will back it and support it."[5]

That view was, until recently, shared by al-Qaradawi, who has supported terrorism, including suicide bombings.
Dr. Denis MacEoin is the author of Sharia Law or One Law for All as well as many academic books, reports, and hundreds of academic and popular articles about Islam in many dimensions. He is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute.

[1] A mufti (a religious scholar who issues fatwas) is a learned man specializing in Islamic law; he issues judgements on cases, determining what is compliant with his law school, but the sentencing is carried out by a judge (a qadi). Sometimes, the same person performs both functions.
[2] The Darul Iftaa in Leicester was founded and run by Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari, a graduate of the Deobandi Darul Uloom in Bury.
[3] This important site features a "Live Fatwa" session, where answers are given by Muhammad al-Mukhtar al-Shinqiti, director of the Islamic Center of South Plains in Lubbock, Texas. Al-Shinqiti is a prominent figure in Fiqh al-'Aqalliyyat.
[4] Examples of fatwas from the above sites (apart from Islam Q&A, which I did not consult at that time) may be found in "Sharia Law or One Law for All," pages 74 to 127. Unwittingly, they provide insights into the topics to which British Muslims who speak English have access: not just the archives of fatwas that they maintain, but in order to ask questions themselves on matters from oral sex to male doctors seeing female patients.
[5] Cited Fishman p. 11 from the London Arabic newspaper, Al-Sharq al-Awsat.

Denis MacEoin is the author of Sharia Law or One Law for All as well as many academic books, reports, and hundreds of academic and popular articles about Islam in many dimensions. He is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute.


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White House "Champion" Blasts Muslims Who Talk to Any Pro-Israel Jews - IPT News

by IPT News

"I am tired of Muslims working towards acceptance and not respect of our communities. And I'm also tired of the Muslims willing to sell Palestine just for a little acceptance and nod from the white man and white power in these United States of America," Sarsour said.
Palestinian activist Linda Sarsour took to Twitter Nov. 22 with a quick, venting post: "You know what I can't stand? Bitter people. That's all."
Sarsour spoke at the annual American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) conference three days later. Evidently, she can't stand herself.
Sarsour, who describes herself as a "racial justice and civil rights activist," lashed out at Jews who extended a hand of friendship and solidarity over concerns that increasing hostility toward Muslims in America might lead to draconian government action. And she lashed out at fellow Muslims who accepted the gesture and joined in a new inter-faith dialogue.
Why the bitterness?

The Jews at issue support the state of Israel, support its existence and its vitality. Sarsour wants none of that.

"We have limits to the type of friendships that we're looking for right now," Sarsour told the AMP conference, "and I want to be friends with those whom I know have been steadfast, courageous, have been standing up and protecting their own communities, those who have taken the risk to stand up and say – we are with the Palestinian people, we unequivocally support BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctioning Israel] when it comes to Palestinian human rights and have been attacked viciously by the very people who are telling you that they're about to stand on the front line of the Muslim registry program. No thank you, sisters and brothers."

It's a message that fit right in at the AMP conference. AMP claims its "sole purpose is to educate the American public and media about issues related to Palestine and its rich cultural and historical heritage." But in practice, the group has defended Hamas and its leaders admit they seek "to challenge the legitimacy of the State of Israel."

Sarsour, a media darling honored by the Obama White House as a "Champion of Change" and a high-profile surrogate for Bernie Sanders' failed Democratic presidential nomination campaign, seems to strike a different tone in public appearances. Her biography says she is "most known for her intersectional coalition work and building bridges across issues, racial, ethnic and faith communities." That clearly wasn't her intent at the AMP conference.

She acknowledges there's a rift among Islamists about how hard a line to draw in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, yet she was intent on pouring gasoline on the fire.

The "cracks in our community" are so wide, she said, they're visible to "right-wing Zionists, Islamophobes, white supremacists."

"They know where we're divided. They know that we're segregated," she said. "So they, we could easily be targeted when we're a fragmented community. But if we were a strong, united, steadfast community that stood up for each other first and foremost, you'd better believe that no opposition would ever be trying to take us down, because we'd be too big, too strong and too united."

Some of her comments likely were directed at Anti-Defamation League chief Jonathan Greenblatt. Should a Trump administration create a registry for Muslims, an idea that does not seem to be on the table, Greenblatt recently pledged that "this proud Jew will register as Muslim."

Sarsour not only rebuked the gesture, she cast Muslims who might respond more positively as sellouts of the Palestinian cause. Cooperation and solidarity gestures should only be reserved for those who share the depth of her hatred toward Israel, she said.

"I am tired of Muslims working towards acceptance and not respect of our communities. And I'm also tired of the Muslims willing to sell Palestine just for a little acceptance and nod from the white man and white power in these United States of America," Sarsour said.

Sarsour, in the red hijab, poses with others at the White House Eid celebration.
Despite this extreme stance, Sarsour is a rising star among American Islamist activists. She has been welcomed to the White House at least 10 times during President Obama's tenure, most recently in July for a celebration of the Muslim Eid holiday. Last year, a glowing New York Times profile described her as "a Brooklyn Homegirl in a Hijab." "But the most apparent thing about her voice is that it is exceedingly Brooklyn," the story said. "She says 'swag' instead of 'charisma.' ('Mr. B. has swag ...) She calls her father, a Palestinian immigrant in his 60s, 'Pops.' Like the actress Rosie Perez
in a hijab, Ms. Sarsour has perfected her delivery of the head-swaying 'Oh no you dih-int' and pronounces the word 'Latino' like, well, a Latino."

Sarsour also says "nothing is creepier than Zionism," and all-but accused the CIA of faking an attempted terrorist attack.

Those statements didn't make the Times profile. And they didn't prompt the Obama administration to reconsider the wisdom of elevating Sarsour's clout with repeated White House access.

In February, just over a year after terrorists massacred the staff at the French magazine Charlie Hebdo, saying they "avenged the Prophet," Sarsour told a Council on American-Islamic Affairs (CAIR) banquet in Chicago that she would not stand with the victims. The magazine was "a bigot and a racist" for publishing caricatures of Islam's prophet Muhammad, she said. The images served to "vilify my faith, dehumanize my community [and] demoralize my prophet."

Building off Sarsour's rejection of anyone who breaks bread with Zionists, former AMP New York President Raja Abdulhaq defined the BDS movement – not as a tool to lead to peaceful negotiations – but as way to break Israel into total surrender.

"The rights are non-negotiable. And that's the whole point of BDS, is that we demand, we want to apply pressure," Abdulhaq said, "not sit down in a negotiated setting and figure out what you can give up so that I can give up something in return, because what you're essentially doing is you're asking the other side – give up your illegality, stop your illegality and I will give up my rights. What kind of negotiation is that? No, I demand my rights, and you stop your illegality. And that's the whole basis of BDS."

Among the non-negotiable "rights" Abdulhaq says AMP and the BDS movement insist upon is the so-called "right of return" for Palestinians. That would lead to a huge influx of Palestinians into Israel, swamping the country demographically and ending its existence as a Jewish homeland.

That's just fine with conference speaker Lamis Deek, an attorney and board member for CAIR's New York chapter. She repeatedly described Israelis as "serial killers" intent on ethnic cleansing.

"There is a serial killer in our home," Deek said. "And what do you do when you are confronted with a serial killer, right? You protect yourself. You protect your family. You scream for help. And you expect that when you scream for help from a serial killer everybody is gonna come to your aid, they're gonna come protect and defend you. Right? You don't expect somebody to intervene on behalf of the serial killer ... and say 'the serial killer has some rights, let us tell you about the rights the serial killer has' as he begins to kill you. Right?"

Like Sarsour, Deek expressed frustration at Muslims who accept other viewpoints.

"Nothing has set back the Palestinian movement in the U.S. more than demands by people who want to work and focus their efforts on [Washington] D.C., by their demands that we tame our demands for Palestine," she said.

Dawud Walid, CAIR's Michigan director, echoed the message about Muslim groups who appear too accommodating. "If these organizations claim to represent the Muslim community," he said, "then when we see them doing things that go outside of the mainstream of the (UI word) of our community, we need to hold them accountable, and if they continue to step outside of the boundaries, then we should withdraw our support and make that very public."

Walid has acknowledged that his employer, which works hard to project an image as a civil rights organization, really sees itself as "defenders of the Palestinian struggle."

Deek, meanwhile, spoke of the harm done to the Palestinian cause by the U.S.-brokered Oslo Accords. While that initiative may have given Palestinians autonomy, it came at the cost of unity, she said.

It's not clear what she means. But, since 2006, the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority has governed the West Bank while Hamas controls Gaza.

Oslo also made it more difficult to engage in terrorism – what Deek calls "armed resistance."

"Now armed resistance, self-defense, has been the only direct challenge to Zionist colonial expansion. Nothing else is a direct challenge," she told the AMP conference. "Everything else is an indirect challenge, right? Pressure – economic pressure, diplomatic pressure. So this national united Palestinian body was able – by supporting the resistance – was able to be part of directly impacting and influencing Zionist policy."

Advocating more Palestinian violence is consistent for an AMP gathering. The organization's message never mentions peaceful co-existence. An Investigative Project on Terrorism investigation found connections between at least five AMP officials and speakers and the defunct Hamas support network called the "Palestine Committee."

During the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas, AMP's then-National Campus Coordinator Taher Herzallah posted images of wounded Israelis, calling them "The most beautiful site (sic) in my eyes." He defended indiscriminate Hamas rocket fire at Israeli civilian communities as "an audible cry for help" and "an act of resistance."

Two clear messages emerged from the AMP conference. "Resistance" is better than renouncing violence and seeking peace. All Muslims who might disagree, even if they see eye-to-eye on other issues, are no longer welcome.

These extreme stands came from speakers who enjoy prominent political profiles and high-level contacts.

Sarsour is right about one thing. There is a rift in her community. She and her AMP panelists are the ones widening it.

IPT News


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Military, Technion join forces to develop innovative 'medical' glider - Maytal Yasur Beit-Or

by Maytal Yasur Beit-Or 

IDF's desire to provide wounded soldiers with quality medical care even behind enemy line drives innovation, Medical Corps official says • Glider is designed to carry up to 110 pounds of medical supplies, has precision landings, stealth abilities.

A sketch of the new glider
Photo credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit

Maytal Yasur Beit-Or


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Hope and despair in the Persian Gulf - Dr. Reuven Berko

by Dr. Reuven Berko

It turns out that the Sunni Gulf states actually hope for U.S. protection, not confrontation, and hope that President-elect Trump will change U.S. policy in their favor.

U.S. President Barack Obama's mystifying remarks this week warning of damage to both property and persons should there be a confrontation with Islam, along with his calls to shut down Guantanamo Bay, reflect a disconnect from what is happening in the Middle East, since other than an all-out war against radical Islamist organizations and their operatives, no one intends to confront Islam on an individual or state level. At the twilight of his tenure, they are fearful in the Persian Gulf, but they are also optimistic.

An indication of both the fear and the hope is a two-day conference of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, which came to a close Wednesday night in Manama, Bahrain. The summit was characterized by a fear of abandonment, the consequence of an Obama administration perceived to have neglected America's Arab friends. It turns out that the Sunni Gulf states actually hope for U.S. protection, not confrontation, and hope that President-elect Trump will change U.S. policy in their favor.

The Persian Gulf is dominated not just by the fear they have been abandoned by the U.S., but by the fear that the U.S. has substituted their alliance with an alliance with a new Iranian partner, a "second-tier contractor" for regional order. Now the Gulf waits with baited breath for the return of the No. 1 superpower (for now), and they have high hopes the incoming president will help protect the region.

The Gulf Cooperation Council comprises six member states: Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar. The council was established on May 25, 1981 in Abu Dhabi following the Iran-Iraq War, which served to expose their vulnerability to territorial, economic and religious greed, especially on the part of Iran. This coalition aims to bolster economic and security cooperation among the Gulf states to protect them from external threats to their territories, their religious places and their resources.

The 37th GCC summit is an expression of the vigilance these states require to protect themselves from the challenge presented by terrorist organizations that threaten them at home, but mostly from the increasingly aggressive behavior of Iran. 

Participants at the summit pointed to the chaos and Iranian and Russian involvement in the region in light of America's absence. Media reports that accompanied the conference mentioned the disaster in Aleppo and warned that an Egyptian engineering battalion was assisting the Syrian regime and that Iranian planes had hit Turkish military forces. From their perceptive, the lack of an American presence has enabled Iran to get involved in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya, and for other hostile actors, like Russia, to help fill the vacuum.

And indeed, Iranian involvement in the region has been accompanied by that country's increasing harassment of the Gulf states, including provocations by Iranian Shiite pilgrims during the Haj in Saudi Arabia, the discovery of spy networks and Iranian subversion in Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries, the conquest of islands and outposts in the Persian Gulf, provocative behavior by the Iranian Navy (including toward U.S. forces) and overt military support to the Houthis in Yemen, who are attacking targets in Saudi Arabia, including shooting missiles toward Mecca and Medina, the two holiest cities in Islam.

The attempt to establish a common operative military body for the Gulf states failed despite the threat presented by the Houthi rebels in Yemen, who represent Iran's violent infiltration of the peninsula. Initial reports in the Arab media point to the failure of the Gulf states to overcome internal sectarianism and issues of self-interest. The exclusion of Al Jazeera, which is owned by Gulf Council member Qatar, from the summit was symbolic of this alienation. Nevertheless, the conference was given legitimacy through the attendance of British Prime Minister Theresa May and her call for the establishment of a road map for strategic cooperation because "Gulf security is our security." 

At the summit, Great Britain was a pillar of support for the Arabs. The assembled called for Iran to end its involvement in terror, subversion and the internal affairs of Gulf states. The states agreed there is no military solution in Iraq and Syria, only negotiations. They were also in agreement on the need to help Iraq in its fight against Islamic State and the need for an international effort to find a solution for Yemen. The Palestinian issue -- and the widely held belief that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is the heart of the Arab people -- did not receive any mention from the Arabs or the British, whom Abbas recently called "Balfour criminals."

The prevailing fear in the Gulf is not just that they have been abandoned by the U.S., but that the U.S. has substituted a new Iranian partner in their place.

Dr. Reuven Berko


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