Friday, March 24, 2017

Are Israeli Raids on Syrian Targets Legal? - Prof. Louis René Beres

by Prof. Louis René Beres

International law is never a suicide pact.

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 432, March 23, 2017

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Israel's recent raids against Syrian targets are lawful and law-enforcing. Facing an increasingly dangerous Hezbollah, Jerusalem correctly understands that even a failed state has legal obligations not to assist in terrorist assaults against Israel. These obligations, concerning Syria in particular, are authoritatively codified in treaty-based and customary international law. Moreover, in consequence of Syria's active and unambiguous complicity with Hezbollah, Israel has a corresponding obligation to prevent and/or mitigate such terrorist crimes. This obligation, which Israel is undertaking well within the limitations of humanitarian international law, is owed both to citizens of the Jewish State and to the broader community of nations.

Syria, a country in the midst of chaos, has launched multiple aggressions against neighboring Israel. In recent years, most of these assaults have assumed the form of heavy weapons transfers to Hezbollah, a Shiite terror group with not only genocidal views about the Jewish State but also correspondingly destructive military capacities. Moreover, the de facto army of Hezbollah – a fanatical adversary sponsored by non-Arab Iran – has become even more threatening to Israel than the regular armies of its traditional Arab state enemies.

These are not just operational or strategic matters. From the standpoint of international law, Israel has an unassailable right to launch appropriate measures of self-defense against Syria. Accordingly, the Israel Air Force has been conducting selective strikes against relevant targets inside Bashar al-Assad's fractured country.

Significantly, almost exactly one year ago, in April 2016, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed for the first time that Israel had been attacking convoys transporting advanced weapons within Syria bound for Hezbollah. Among other substantial ordnance, these weapons included SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles, Russian arms that could enable Hezbollah to shoot down Israeli civilian aircraft, military jets and helicopters, and drones.

(It is plausible that at least some of the latest Israeli-targeted weapons are of North Korean origin. Until Israel's preemptive September 6, 2007 "Operation Orchard," an expression of "anticipatory self-defense" under international law, Syria had been actively working towards a nuclear weapons capacity with North Korean assistance and direction.)

Certain noteworthy operational ironies ought to be referenced here. For one, Israel's regular need to act against Hezbollah could inadvertently enlarge the power of ISIS and/or other Sunni militias now operating against Israel in the region. For another, because the Trump administration in Washington remains reluctant to criticize Russian war crimes in Syria (or anywhere else, for that matter), Jerusalem now has less reason to seek security assurances from the US.

But our concern here is law, not strategy or tactics. As a purely jurisprudential matter, Israel's measured and discriminate use of force against Hezbollah terrorists and associated targets in Syria has been conspicuously consistent with legal rules concerning distinction, proportionality, and military necessity. Although both Tehran and Damascus sanctimoniously identify Israel's defensive actions as "aggression," these actions are supported, inter alia, by Article 51 of the UN Charter. Under law, Israel, in the fashion of every other state on the planet, has a primary and incontestable prerogative to remain alive.

Legally, there is nothing complicated about the issues surrounding Israel's counter-terrorist raids within Syria. By willfully allowing its territory to be used as a source of Hezbollah terrorist weapons against Israel, and as an expanding base for anti-Israel terrorist operations in general, Assad has placed Syria in unambiguous violation of both the UN Charter and the wider body of international rules identified in Article 38 of the UN's Statute of the International Court of Justice.

There is more. Because Syria, entirely at its own insistence, maintains a formal condition of belligerency with Israel (that is, a legal "state of war"), no charge levied by Damascus or Tehran of "Israeli aggression" makes jurisprudential sense.

More practically, of course, Syria has become a failed state. In some respects, at least, with the Assad regime in full control of only limited portions of Damascus, Aleppo, and the Syrian Mediterranean coast, it makes little legal sense to speak of "Syrian responsibility" or "Syrian violations." Nonetheless, even amid the collapse of traditional boundaries between states, the Syrian president must bear full responsibility for blatantly illegal arms transfers to a surrogate Shiite militia.

For Israel, the principal legal issues here are easy to affirm. Express prohibitions against pro-terrorist behavior by any state can be found in Articles 3(f) and 3(g) of the 1974 UN General Assembly Definition of AggressionThese prohibitions are part of customary international law, and of what are identified in Article 38 of the ICJ Statute as “the general principles of law recognized by civilized nations.”

Following the 1977 Protocols to the Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949, insurgent organizations are expected to comply with humanitarian international law, sometimes called the law of armed conflict. 

Additionally, any documented failure to comply, such as resort to "human shields" (a common practice with Hezbollah) would be known in formal law as "perfidy."

Under international law, every use of force by states must be judged twice: once with regard to the justness of the cause, and once with regard to the justness of the means. This second standard concerns core issues of humanitarian international law. Specifically, even when it can be determined that a particular state maintains a basic right to apply force against another state, this does not automatically imply that any such use would comply with the law of war.

In defending itself against Hezbollah terror, Israel’s actions have always been consistent with humanitarian international law. In stark contrast to the Shiite terrorist militias operating in Lebanon and southern Syria, and similarly unlike the Syrian-supported Islamic Jihad Sunni forces, who intentionally target noncombatants, Israel has been meticulous about striking exclusively hard military targets in raids on Syria.

Unlike Syria, which even in its currently attenuated form opposes any peaceful settlement with Israel, Jerusalem resorts to defensive force only as a last resort. As for Syrian charges that Israel’s actions somehow raise the risk of “escalation,” this alleged risk would disappear entirely if Damascus and Tehran ceased their lawless support of Hezbollah and other criminal organizations. In this connection, it should be recalled, terrorism is always a codified crime under binding international law. It is never considered a permissible form of national liberation or self-determination.

Ultimately, the lawfulness of Israel’s use of force against Hezbollah terrorists, and against Hezbollah-bound weapons in Syria, is supported by the inherent right of “anticipatory self-defense.” Augmenting the specifically post-attack right of self-defense found in Article 51 of the UN Charter, this customary international law doctrine entitles any endangered state to use appropriate force preemptively; that is, whenever the "danger posed" is “imminent in point of time.” In the face of a prospectively endless stream of Hezbollah terrorist rocket attacks upon its innocent civilian population, Israel maintains not only the juridical right but also the clear obligation to protect its citizens.

"The safety of the people," said Cicero, the ancient Roman Stoic, "shall be the highest law." In classical political philosophy as well as in documented jurisprudence, the obligation of a sovereign to assure protection for citizens or subjects is immutably primary and utterly beyond question. Israel need make no apologies for choosing to defend itself against Syrian-sponsored Hezbollah aggression.

International law is never a suicide pact.

View PDF

BESA Center Perspectives Papers are published through the generosity of the Greg Rosshandler Family

Prof. Louis René Beres is Emeritus Professor of International Law at Purdue and the author of twelve books and several hundred articles on nuclear strategy and nuclear war. His newest book is Surviving Amid Chaos: Israel's Nuclear Strategy (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016).    


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

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

Europeans have stopped having children - Giulio Meotti

by Giulio Meotti

Europeans do not have children, but Muslims do.

“Make five children, Europe’s future is yours”. So spoke Turkish President Erdogan. A statement of demographic conquest that echoes that of the Algerian president Boumedienne in 1974 at the UN: “The bellies of our women will give us victory”. And Imam Qaradawi, the guru of the Muslim Brotherhood, spoke of Islamic birth rate as the weapon for the “non-violent conquest of Europe”. It is Islamic eschatology, but with real meaning.
Especially because these Muslim leaders cultivate it in the bosom of a Europe that has stopped having children.
Italy, Greece, Spain, Germany, Portugal and all the East European countries lie in a disastrous demographic, with just one son per couple, with the balance between deaths and births long compromised and prospects of population decline in the next twenty-thirty years that would alarm\ the last of the hedonists.
“Religion always wins - if simply and brutally for demographic reasons”, said the French writer Michel Houellebecq. Today, millions of Muslims live in the European Union and their number, according to the most serious research, will constitute at least 15 percent of the total EU population, this without  counting migrants.
In an essay for the Washington Quarterly, Timothy M. Savage of the Office of European Analysis of the US State Department has estimated that Europe will be 20 percent Muslim by 2050.
Professor at Princeton University in the United States and one of the known experts in the Islamic world, Bernard Lewis, in an interview with Germany’s Die Welt newspaper said in 2004: “Europe will be part of the Arab West, the Maghreb. Europeans marry late and do not have children or make a few. If the present trends continue, Europe will have Muslim majorities at the latest by the end of the XXI century”.
The late Fouad Ajami, director of the Middle East studies program at Johns Hopkins University, replied that Islam in Europe does not have to be the majority, it is enough to dominate big cities and regions, as  when the Moors ruled Spain. And this is already happening.
The Muslim presence in Europe is clustered geographically within individual states, especially in the industrialized urban areas, areas such as Berlin’s Kreuzberg, Tower Hamlets in London, and the banlieues (suburbs) of the large French cities. Two fifths of Muslims in the UK reside in the Metropolitan Area of London; a third of Muslims in France are living in or around Paris; and a third of Muslims in Germany are concentrated in the Ruhr industrial. This has facilitated the creation of Islamic societies in the heart of Europe.
Mr. Erdogan and the other hallucinatory Muslim leaders watch this infertile and aging Europe. And they dream about giving it the finishing blow.

Giulio Meotti, an Italian journalist with Il Foglio, writes a twice-weekly column for Arutz Sheva. He is the author of the book "A New Shoah", that researched the personal stories of Israel's terror victims, published by Encounter and of "J'Accuse: the Vatican Against Israel" published by Mantua Books.. His writing has appeared in publications, such as the Wall Street Journal, Frontpage and Commentary.


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

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

'You've Got To Be Carefully Taught' — The Challenge Of Islamic Supremacist Textbooks And Beyond - Alberto M. Fernandez

by Alberto M. Fernandez

Efforts in Jordan in October 2016 to make textbooks less sectarian and intolerant were met with book burning and angry social media activism.

Detail of 13th-century Mosul tomb of Imam Yahya Ibn Al-Qasim, blown up by ISIS

A recent 2017 MEMRI report documented the dissemination of ISIS textbooks on the Europe-based social media platform Telegram.[1] This development illustrated two key parts of the aggressive use of the ISIS narrative, in social media and in education. The textbooks were, not surprisingly, rife with images and terms connected to violent jihad. This is, of course, to be expected from the world's most notorious terrorist group.

But the problem of intolerant, supremacist, and violent content in school textbooks in the Muslim world, from North Africa to Pakistan, has been a public issue for decades now, long before the rise of the Islamic State. Campaigns to change the toxic content of textbooks among Palestinians and in Saudi Arabia have garnered high-level interest from the U.S. government. But the problem is much more generalized and existed long before the rise of social media, which has facilitated much of the latest wave of jihadi mobilization.[2] It continues to be a policy concern; an unreleased 2013 study commissioned by the U.S. Department of State on Saudi textbooks only saw the light of day in 2016 through the Freedom of Information Act.[3]

In October 2013, MEMRI published a comprehensive study of textbooks used in government-run schools (not the notorious private Islamist madrassas) in Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which showed how young pupils are indoctrinated with concepts of violence and martyrdom as well as with hatred of non-Muslims.[4] Three years later, Pakistani columnist Zubeida Mustafa lamented the deep intolerance present in textbooks, after the publication of a scathing report finding that "the books glorify war, 'otherise' non-Muslims, take a uni-dimensional view of reality, distort history, and stereotype women."[5]

Efforts in Jordan in October 2016 to make textbooks less sectarian and intolerant were met with book burning and angry social media activism.[6] Some of the material in the new books was an image of a woman without a headscarf, and the inclusion of Jordanian Christians in the texts. Among those leading the response to the new, toned-down textbooks was the Jordan Teachers' Association, long dominated by Islamists, as well as the opposition Islamic Action Front (the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan). A spokesman for the teachers' association complained that the number of Quranic verses in Arabic-language textbooks from the fifth to the 10th grade had declined from 261 to only 44.[7]

The turmoil in Jordan underscores a basic problem in textbook reform. These are not religious schools, but state schools. The challenge is not limited to textbooks, but includes teachers and teacher training colleges that have long been sinecures for Islamists.

Yet despite these deeply engrained problems, there has been progress, at least on the written page. Local liberal intellectuals, such as the previously mentioned Mustafa, Qatar's Abdul Hamid Al-Ansari, Saudi Arabia's Ibrahim Al-Buleihi, and others have challenged the toxic status quo.[8] Ethnic and religious minority groups are acknowledged and less demonized in some places. After Qaddafi, Libya recognized non-Arabic minority languages, and recognized the possibility of them being studied in schools.

The nexus of intolerant texts, social media, extremist preachers, and thought leaders, and the passivity of regional states regarding them, underscore how much of the Islamist "moment" in the region, in both its ideologically intolerant and outright violent dimensions, is manufactured. Islamists and jihadis rely on a specific reading from elements of foundational Islam, but the ubiquitous nature of their reading, and its spread and scope, is something which was consciously fabricated.

While the Islamic State bitterly criticizes not just other Muslims but other Islamists, its reading of Islamic history, the lived experience of Muslims over the centuries, is – like that of many of its rivals – an intellectually impoverished and constrained one.[9] The great irony of the textbook controversy and the poison that Islamists and jihadis churn out is that they are presenting an image of the Muslim Middle East which actually could be challenged by an alternate reading of that same history and lived experience.

American academic Howard Zinn is, for many, a notorious figure, a Marxist whose highly influential 1980 history text A People's History of the United States seeks to provide an alternate, leftwing reading of American history.[10] The book sold several million copies and is used in some high schools and universities. Zinn's idea, flowing from his ideological worldview and reading of the sources, was to portray "the American story as one long chronicle of exploitation, oppression and deceit" by highlighting supposedly underexposed or unknown voices and stories.[11] I am no admirer of Zinn's political worldview and tergiversations, but I do wonder what a "People's History of the Muslim World" might look like.

Such a book, or series of books, yet to be written, would illustrate the great diversity existing in the Muslim East for much of its history – diversity not just between Muslim and non-Muslim, but among Muslims themselves. It would demystify the period of early Islam along the lines of Taha Hussein's 1947 iconoclastic book Al-Fitna al-Kubra. It would tell the stories of those from below, of the bitter revolt of black slaves in ninth-century Iraq, of heterodox Muslim sects, of wine-drinking Christian Umayyad poets like Al-Akhtal and even edgier Muslim Abbasid poets like Abu Nuwas, in all their splendor.

It would relate the very real conquests and glories of Islamic civilization and the human costs of such a history. In it, you would learn of both the splendor and learning of Islamic Cordoba and of the Christian martyrs of Cordoba. Sunni populations today could learn of past Shia rulers, and vice versa, without expletives. Religious freedom would also be an essential, if probably controversial, part of such a curriculum.[12]

That Islamists have successfully weaponized their past is well known.[13] The question now is whether liberal Muslims can do the same and, more importantly, be allowed the political space and the pedagogical base to put it in practice in a way that advances an agenda of tolerance and enlightenment but is also respectful of the historical record as it is. In the end, agitprop, or "fake history," even for the best of supposed intentions, is not going to be good enough to withstand public scrutiny. It can and should reflect untold alternate narratives, but it cannot refashion reality totally to fit a different age either.

But rescuing Islamic history from the Islamists can only be part of a much broader humanistic education that also includes music and art, as Dr. Al-Ansari has suggested. This is not to say that a better and more tolerant educational system is some sort of anti-jihad panacea. Radicalization is a complex process, and a guiding ideology is important, but is one of several key factors.[14] And the Islamist version of Islamic history is powerful because it is, despite the cherry-picking, grounded in history.

While my main motivation here is looking for additional, complementary tools in the struggle against the siren song of jihad, I also have a humbler goal. It is precisely the diversity and multifaceted humanity, the splendor and squalor, the complexity and contradiction of Islamic civilization that attracted me to its study decades ago. That is a multi-faceted patrimony worth knowing at its fullest and most complete, for Muslims and outsiders alike.

Alberto M. Fernandez is Vice-President of MEMRI.

[1] MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6767, Telegram Channel Circulates Full Copies Of Children's Textbooks Used By ISIS, February 1, 2017.
[2] "This is a Saudi textbook. (After the intolerance was removed.)", May 21, 2006.
[3] "State Dept. Study on Saudi Textbooks,", August 25, 2016.
[5] "Textbooks of hate,", April 1, 2016.
[6] "Protesters burn books as Jordan reduces religion’s role in schools,", March 22, 2017.
[7] "Protesters burn books as Jordan reduces religion’s role in schools,", March 22, 2017.
[8] MEMRI Daily Brief No. 113, Unpacking The Message Of Hate With Dr. Al-Ansari, December 20, 2016.
[9] "The Bondage of History: Daesh/ISIS and the Islamic Past,", March 9, 2017.
[10] "Agit-Prof - Howard Zinn's influential mutilations of American history,", March 18, 2013.
[11] "An honest history of Howard Zinn,", July 26, 2016.
[12] "Pakistan's Terrorism Fight Must Include Promoting Religious Freedom," March 21, 2017.
[13] "Nibras Kazimi: How Jihadists Weaponize Islamic History and How to De-Weaponize It,", posted June 2, 2016.
[14] "Motives for Martyrdom: Al-Qaida, Salafi Jihad, and the Spread of Suicide Attacks,", Winter 2009.

Alberto M. Fernandez is Vice-President of MEMRI.


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

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

In Iran's Women's Prisons, Injustice and Atrocity - Abigail R. Esman

by Abigail R. Esman

Evin, where most political detainees are incarcerated, is -- far worse than most other prisons. Women are thrown immediately into solitary confinement, where they will remain for months before being released into an overcrowded, vermin-infested women's ward.

On a warm day last April, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe dressed her toddler Gabrielle, kissed her parents goodbye, and set off to catch her flight back home to London.

She never made it.

Instead, Islamic Revolutionary Guards apprehended the then-37-year-old at Tehran's Imam Khomeini airport and transported her to Iran's infamous Evin prison, where prisoners are routinely tortured and women subjected regularly to sexual abuse and rape.

In September, the dual British-Iranian citizen, who had been visiting her parents in Tehran before being apprehended, was sentenced to five years imprisonment on vague "national security charges."

To date, no evidence has been produced to substantiate the charge. Her family believes it stems largely from her work as an executive with the Thomson-Reuters Foundation, whose mission, to "stand for free independent journalism, human rights, and the rule of law," is not wholly compatible with the Iranian regime. Employees of charitable organizations are also a frequent target of Iranian officials, who often accuse them of being spies.

In the meantime, her daughter, who has British but not Iranian citizenship, remains with her grandparents, while Zaghari-Radcliffe's British husband, Richard Ratcliffe, continues to fight from the UK for her release.

Iranian arrests of dual-nationals are not uncommon – the current government does not recognize the second nationality of its citizens – and arbitrary arrests on trumped-up charges of spying are a signature of the regime. In addition, women, both Iranian and dual-nationals, increasingly are being targeted as they speak out against the misogyny of their rulers. As the Women's Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) observes, "Under the mullahs' rule in Iran, women are supposed to stay home and therefore, having any kind of political or civil rights activity is considered a serious crime for women and evokes greater retaliation by the government."

Zaghari-Ratcliffe has felt that retaliation. For nine months, she withstood agonizing conditions in solitary confinement: "Every day and every second I would submerge more and more in an ocean of doubt, fear, threat, loneliness and more than anything mistrust," she wrote in a letter to her husband earlier this month. "... My wails would go unheard in that tiny, dingy, cold, grey cell ... In solitary, there was a moment when I realised that there is a level of pain that I hadn't experience before, a pain thousands of times longer, more overwhelming than child birth, without a happy ending."

But prison conditions for women, who endure the same forms and level of torture as male prisoners, can be even more horrific. They are raped, groped, and subjected to other forms of sexual abuse. Their genitals may be forcibly subjected to invasive "searches."  Even their fellow female prisoners can pose a threat: except at Evin, where prisoners are segregated according to the nature of their crime, women prisoners are held together regardless of the charges against them. Consequently, political detainees can be housed "amongst ordinary and often dangerous inmates," the NCRI reports.

But Evin, where most political detainees are incarcerated, is in every other way far worse than most other prisons. Women are thrown immediately into solitary confinement, where they will remain for months before being released into an overcrowded, vermin-infested women's ward. And it is at Evin that some of the most horrifying torture takes place, particularly against political prisoners. The NCRI report describes women detainees hung by their hands and feet, subjected to repeated cigarette burns, and suffering beatings severe enough to cause internal bleeding. They may be threatened with rape or execution and, as at all Iranian prisons, denied communication with family or even an attorney.

Conditions are even worse at Qarchak Women's Prison, where a single hall holds 600 beds for 2,000 prisoners, most of whom therefore sleep on the floor, according to Al-Arabiya. In addition, the NCRI notes, "there is no good drinking water. The prisoners who [can] not afford to buy mineral water have no option but to drink salty water." And regular inspections of women's genitals in the name of "security" can be violent, resulting in severe injury. Those who dare protest are subjected to physical torture, or placed in solitary confinement with a "psychologically disturbed prisoner," reports Al-Arabiya.

Added to this are the abysmal physical conditions of women's prisons overall, which receive a miniscule portion of the overall prison budget. Most are therefore situated in repurposed warehouses and other abandoned buildings. Some lack walls or roofs. At others, AIDS, hepatitis, and other infectious diseases are rampant, the possibility of contamination made worse by lack of ventilation in the wards.

Yet despite the disease, the abuse, and the injuries that result, political prisoners – male or female – are generally denied access to medical care. Some have gone blind as a result of their treatment. At Evin, Zaghari-Ratcliffe reportedly is having trouble walking, considered suicide, and recently collapsed when finally permitted to visit the prison clinic.

None of this is particularly new. Iran has a long history of abusive treatment of women prisoners, reaching back to the 1980s when virgins were routinely raped before being executed, a practice that became "systematic," according to the British Foreign Policy Centre. Often, such rapes were justified on religious grounds, based on Quranic verses that describe virgins as inherently innocent. In other cases, female political prisoners were married off to their jailor rapists or even lawyers in exchange for avoiding execution. Such practices continued, according to several reports, well into the 1990s and later.

Moreover, the misogynistic nature of Iranian society makes women especially vulnerable to psychological torture. The Foreign Policy Centre report describes a history of women forced to choose between "confessing" to promiscuity, describing often invented details of their sex lives to their families or even on television, or serving sentences for political crimes they had not committed. Given the possible repercussions women can face for sexual promiscuity – honor killings among them – many have chosen prison. Those who do not, frequently now live, even after their release, in continued fear of the vengeance of family and community.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and family.
Yet even these kinds of choices do not seem to have been made available to Zaghari-Ratcliffe, whose husband provides continuing reports online on her condition. Moreover, because Iran does not recognize her British citizenship, she has had no access to UK consular services, and the British government can do little to help her. Diplomatic pressures may not matter anyway. In 2011, Iran executed a Dutch-Iranian woman despite assurances to the Dutch government that her life would be spared.

Nonetheless, in her March 14 letter to her husband, Zaghari-Ratcliffe described her determination to fight back, despite "my shattered dreams and their broken, empty promises....We shall overcome this pain. Today freedom has got one day closer."

Abigail R. Esman, the author, most recently, of Radical State: How Jihad Is Winning Over Democracy in the West (Praeger, 2010), is a freelance writer based in New York and the Netherlands. Follow her at @radicalstates.


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

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

The Anti-Trump Anarchists - Discover The Networks

by Discover The Networks

A fascist movement professes its own opposition to “fascism.”

Refuse Fascism (RF)—which was one of the organizations responsible for the ugly anti-Milo riots at UC Berkeley last month—was established shortly after the November 2016 U.S. presidential election in which Republican Donald Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton. The creators of RF were Revolutionary Communist Party members Carl DixSunsara Taylor (an advisory board member with World Can't Wait), and Andy Zee (a spokesman for the Manhattan-based Revolution Books shop managed by the Maoist activist C. Clark Kissinger).

RF laid out its political and ideological platform in a December 2016 manifesto depicting President Trump as an illegitimately elected “fascist” and declaring: “In the name of humanity we REFUSE to accept a fascist America!” Emphasizing the fact that Trump had lost the popular vote to Mrs. Clinton by some 2.5 million votes, RF characterized the Electoral College—which of course was where Trump had won the presidency—as an outdated and useless “product and legacy of slavery.” The illegitimacy of the Electoral College was compounded, said RF, by the fact that “Republican Party representatives and operatives have over the years … systematically suppressed the votes of Black, Latino and poor people” by means of such measures as Voter ID requirements. Moreover, RF tried to draw a connection between nonwhite voter suppression and “the overturning of the Voting Rights Act [VRA] in 2013 by the Supreme Court”—a gross mischaracterization of the Court's decision to strike down an anachronistic VRA provision that required certain states to obtain federal pre-clearance for any proposed changes to their election laws.

“More fundamental,” said RF in its manifesto, “is the illegitimacy of such a fascist regime” as Trump's. Noting that “Hitler himself came to power through the process of elections and established legal procedures,” RF charged that Trump: (a) “has made clear … that he intends to radically attack the rights of immigrants, Muslims, Black people, women, gay and trans people, the disabled, and many others who have been historically oppressed in this society”; (b) “will pursue a geopolitical policy that will be very short on facts and long on aggression, threats of aggression, insane nuclear proliferation, torture and threats of torture, and continually going to the brink of war and no doubt beyond, and all while stoking the fires of xenophobia and scapegoating”; (c) has “no respect for the freedom of the press and expression”; (d) “has already begun to seed the government with Christian fundamentalist theocrats and breathed new life into anti-Semitism”; (e) “has created an atmosphere around women that has further empowered rape culture and already damaged the lives and chances of every woman and girl in this country”; (f) “will seriously and qualitatively exacerbate a situation [vis-a-vis the environment] that is already heading to disaster”; (g) has “super-charged the notion that this is a 'white man’s country' in which the rights and existence of Black people and other people of color count for nothing”; (h) “has put proven white supremacists … in positions of power”; and (i) has “given impetus to every fascist, neo-Nazi and bigot to directly express themselves by violently going after people who are not white, male, Christian or straight.” As a result of Trump's ascendance to power, RF warned, “the days of white vigilantism and … lynch mobs … will now be back with a vengeance.”

In an effort to prevent a Trump presidency from even getting off the ground, the RF manifesto exhorted leftist agitators nationwide to pour into the streets by “the tens of millions,” so as to “create … a profound political crisis” that would stop “the fascist regime” from being “able to take the reins of government.” But when Trump's January 2017 inauguration ultimately proceeded on schedule, RF shifted its objective to “driving from office” Trump and his “Legion of Doom” cabinet of “white supremacists, woman haters, science deniers, religious fundamentalist zealots, and war mongers.”

Toward that end, RF drafted a petition titled Refuse Fascism Call to Action, which charged that the Trump “regime,” in its quest “to establish a fascist order under the signboard of 'America First,'” had already “begun subverting the separation of powers [and] the separation of Church and State, called for a new nuclear arms race, demonized the press, [and] dismissed the very concept of truth [by] substituting their own fabricated 'alternative facts.'” Asserting, further, that “there is method to Trump’s madness” that “echoes Hitler” and is “more dangerous to the world than even Hitler,” the RF petition claims that President Trump's brand of fascism promotes “xenophobic nationalism, racism, misogyny, and the aggressive re-institution of oppressive 'traditional values.'”

RF is part and parcel of the radical leftist movement of lawless thugs whom David Horowitz recently described as follows: “They are not 'sore losers,' as many had surmised when their hysterical attacks on Trump as an American Hitler began; they are an army of saboteurs bent on destroying the government the voters preferred.”

Discover The Networks


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

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

Jihadi Attack in London, UK Vows to Defend 'Tolerance' - Robert Spencer

by Robert Spencer

In other words, as the body count piles up, it will be business as usual.

​There is a good deal of confusion surrounding the attack on the Westminster Bridge and at the Parliament building in London on Wednesday. Most notably, the UK’s Independent initially identified the attacker as a well-known jihad preacher in Britain, Abu Izzadeen; then it deleted that story without correction or explanation. Whoever the attacker was, however, the attack bore all the hallmarks of the jihadist modus operandi, just as the official response bore all the hallmarks of business-as-usual in London: the UK’s Home Secretary vowed to protect Britain’s “shared values” of “tolerance.”

If there was only one attacker, as appears to have been the case, he started by plowing his car into a crowd of pedestrians on the Westminster Bridge, killing two and injuring twenty. Then he got out and stabbed a police officer to death at the Parliament building. This follows the pattern of numerous recent jihad attacks. We have seen a spate of attacks recently in which jihadis used their cars as weapons — and a billboard in Nazareth that actually called for them. “Moderate” Fatah called for such attacks. And the Islamic State issued this call in September 2014:

So O muwahhid, do not let this battle pass you by wherever you may be. You must strike the soldiers, patrons, and troops of the tawaghit. Strike their police, security, and intelligence members, as well as their treacherous agents. Destroy their beds. Embitter their lives for them and busy them with themselves. If you can kill a disbelieving American or European — especially the spiteful and filthy French — or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that entered into a coalition against the Islamic State, then rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner or way however it may be….If you are not able to find an IED or a bullet, then single out the disbelieving American, Frenchman, or any of their allies. Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car, or throw him down from a high place, or choke him, or poison him….
We have seen large-scale vehicular attacks in Nice and Berlin and elsewhere. And in June 2015, a Muslim in Austria drove his car into a crowd, killing three, and then got out and stabbed passersby. Then in November 2016, a Muslim student at Ohio State University named Abdul Razak Ali Artan drove his car into a crowd, then got out and stabbed several others. The attack Wednesday in London by an “Asian” – British mediaspeak for “Muslim” – followed the same pattern.

Scotland Yard obliquely acknowledged that it was a jihad attack. In a statement, it said: “Officers – including firearms officers – remain on the scene and we are treating this as a terrorist incident until we know otherwise.” A “terrorist” incident means jihad. It wasn’t the IRA. There are no other significant terrorist groups operating today in the UK. This statement from Scotland Yard makes it very likely that this was a jihad attack, and yet another repudiation of the British government’s policy of appeasing and accommodating Islamic supremacists and jihadists while hounding and persecuting foes of jihad terror, and banning foreign ones from the country.

Yet in her own response to the attack, UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: “The British people will be united in working together to defeat those who would harm our shared values. Values of democracy, tolerance and the rule of law. Values symbolised by the Houses of Parliament. Values that will never be destroyed.”

To speak about “tolerance” with several people dead at the hands of an Islamic jihadist in London is to signal that it will be business as usual in Theresa May’s Britain: nothing will be done to confront the ideology that incites its adherents to violence and hatred. This is clear because “tolerance” is never asked of Islamic supremacists who take to the streets of London to preach the ultimate victory of Sharia; the only people ever accused of “intolerance” are those who speak honestly about the nature and magnitude of the jihad threat.

As Bob Dylan said: “Toleration of the unacceptable leads to the last round-up.” And it’s coming in Britain. The London jihad attack was yet another harbinger of that.

Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Complete Infidel’s Guide to Iran. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.

Robert Spencer


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

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

Liberal Judges Unwittingly Declare ObamaCare Religious Mandate Unconstitutional - Tom Trinko

by Tom Trinko

They don’t realize it, but liberals have just declared that Obama’s HHS mandate -- is unconstitutional. 
They don’t realize it, but liberals have just declared that Obama’s HHS mandate -- which forced Catholics to cooperate with providing abortion and contraception -- is unconstitutional. 

The new interpretation of the Establishment Clause espoused by the activist judges who are striking down Trump’s EO is that anything that has a disparate impact on a religious group is unconstitutional.

The rulings by activist judges declaring Trump’s EO on immigration to be unconstitutional were based on arguments that if the EO/law had a disparate impact on any faith, or that if the person behind the EO/law ever said anything that could be construed to violate the new liberal interpretation of the establishment clause, then the EO/law in question was unconstitutional.

Clearly since many religious groups believe that contraception and abortion are morally licit while the Catholic Church, and some Protestant denominations, believe that contraception and abortion are not morally licit any EO/law that requires funding contraception and abortion will have a disparate impact on Catholics since it forces them to violate their deeply held religious beliefs.

Further, even if liberals argue that the HHS mandate is not discriminatory on its face all conservatives have to do is show that anyone involved in generating it ever said anything negative about the Church’s stance on abortion to meet the criteria set by the activist judges.

After all the liberal judges admitted that Trump’s EO itself is not discriminatory but that because Trump supposedly said discriminatory things during the campaign the EO is unconstitutional.

Interestingly, that means that if the exact same EO had been issued by Obama, Bush, Clinton, or any other president it would have been Constitutional. 

Even the ultra-liberal Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren recognized that it’s not sane to strike down a law which is on its face legal, as the Hawaiian judge admitted, because of supposed illicit motives:
“This Court will not strike down an otherwise constitutional statute on the basis of an alleged illicit legislative motive.”
This newly found liberal orthodoxy is germane to other aspects of the liberal judicial agenda.

For example saying that Christian bakers must supply cakes to gay weddings is clearly unconstitutional for two reasons, the first being that not all religions object to gay weddings, hence the ruling on the face of it violates the Establishment Clause by having a disparate impact on different faiths and second because supporters of the rulings forcing Christians to go against their beliefs have publicly stated that they disagree with those Christian’s beliefs.

Hence judicial fiats demanding that Christians go against their beliefs with respect to gay weddings fail both of the criteria established by the liberal judicial activists; they have an explicit disparate impact on different faiths and the supporters of these rulings have publicly expressed a bias against Christian beliefs and a desire to make exercising those beliefs illegal.

Another example is that under the new Establishment Clause interpretation any law that rejects school vouchers is unconstitutional. That’s because some faiths have schools and some don’t. Hence denying vouchers has a disparate impact since the faiths that don’t have schools aren’t impacted while faiths that do have schools are.

Further, it’s a historical fact that the Blaine amendments banning financial support to religious schools were passed by lawmakers who openly declared that the objective was to prevent funding Catholic schools, which makes those laws unconstitutional under the new liberal view.

One last example, of the many that are available, is that any attempt to force Catholic hospitals to perform abortions is clearly unconstitutional under the new interpretation of the Establishment Clause, since non-Catholic hospitals will not be impacted by such laws while Catholic ones will. But that clearly shows a disparate impact and of course the people who push for such laws are quite open in announcing their disdain for Catholic beliefs.

The reality is that this new view of the Establishment Clause can be used to eliminate almost the entire liberal agenda on social issues.

While we know that a core belief of liberalism is a deeply seated hypocrisy, and hence liberals will argue against applying the “reasoning” about the EO to anything they like using the logical consequences of liberal “reasoning” may help convince low information voters of the absurdity of the liberal position.

Also, if the activist rulings about Trump’s EO are not overturned then conservatives can use the new interpretation to legally assail much of the anti-religious agenda of the activist judges who are striving to impose their personal beliefs on America via fascist processes.

Understanding the implications of the latest bit of judicial activism makes it clear that the liberals have handed us a win/win situation. If the courts uphold the latest bit of fascist overreach by activist judges then conservatives can use that to dismantle a great deal of previous judicial activism. On the other hand if the courts strike down the insane reasoning of these activist judges conservatives win because the legal coup against Trump will have failed.

You can read more of tom’s rants at his blog, Conversations about the obvious and feel free to follow him on Twitter

Tom Trinko


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

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

Turkey: A Sunni Iran in the Making? - Burak Bekdil

by Burak Bekdil

The rising tide of an aggressive blend of nationalism and Islamism might be prompting Ankara to pursue its own WMDs, and its preference appears to be long-range missiles.

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 431, March 22, 2017

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The rising tide of an aggressive blend of nationalism and Islamism might be prompting Ankara to pursue its own WMDs, and its preference appears to be long-range missiles. As Turkey feels more threatened by real or (mostly) imagined enemies, it increasingly views maximum possible military deterrence as essential to both survival (a defensive goal) and assertiveness (an offensive one). Precise long-range missiles are an unlikely acquisition, and nuclear warheads even more so. What matters is not whether Turkey can build up a dangerous arsenal but why it wants one.

In theory, Shiite Iran and Sunni Turkey (both Ottoman and modern) have been at peace for nearly 400 years, with their shared border unchanged since the signing of the Treaty of Zuhab in 1639. In reality, they have remained regional rivals, cold war adversaries, open enemies, and security and ideological threats to one other ever since. These days, they are not-so-discreet sectarian foes.

According to Kemal Okem, a prominent diplomat and Turkey’s first ambassador to Tel Aviv after Turkey and Israel “normalized” relations in 2016, Turkey shares Israeli concerns about Tehran’s regional ambitions and nuclear potential. “Iran’s nuclear file is a concern for everyone,” said Okem, formerly a chief advisor to Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. “They [Iranians] see us as a strategic competitor ... We saw the need for engaging and containing their ambitions.”

Concern about Tehran’s “nuclear file” is an open secret in Ankara. Officially, Turkey maintains that a nuclear Israel, not Iran, is a threat to the Middle East because of its undeclared arsenal. This position is backed up by occasional private threats by Ankara to work against Jerusalem at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In fact, Turkey feels threatened by both Israel’s and Iran’s nuclear capabilities, be they existing or emerging. The Turkish ambition to possess advanced offensive military capabilities reflects two desires: first, to become a regional power; and second, to erect a deterrent force against a rapidly changing, re-prioritized, and long list of enemies.

In line with that ambition, in late 2011, the state scientific research institute, TUBITAK, announced that its scientists would soon finish a missile of unknown flavor with a range of 1,500 km (932 miles) and in 2014 another with a range of 2,500 km (1,553 miles). A further missile with an 800-km range was ready for precision tests, according to the official narrative. The order for the missile program had come from then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

This missile program was curious, not only in terms of military technology but also in terms of the political deliberations that might have pushed Turkey into such a venture. Tehran is not the only potentially hostile capital Ankara could target within a 2,500-km range. The map shows many other possibilities: Algiers, Amman, Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Beirut, Berlin, Brussels, Cairo, Copenhagen, Damascus, Geneva, Jeddah, Kiev, London, Milan, Moscow, Paris, Rome, Stockholm, Jerusalem, Tripoli, Vienna, Warsaw, and Zurich. But Ankara’s deliberations regarding the missile program apparently matured when the Turkish-Persian rivalry heated up in 2011, with Tehran claiming to possess Shahab-3 missiles with a range of 1,300 km.

In 2013, Turkey’s defense officials said that TUBITAK’s 800-km missiles, primarily targeting naval and aircraft shelter targets, had been successfully tested. They were fired from aerial platforms and hit targets over the Black Sea. The 1,500-km missile was to be launched in 2014, and the 2,500-km missile at an unspecified subsequent date. Since then there has not been a credible follow-up statement.

The announcement of these plans does not appear to have been a wise move. Forget the enormous problem of access to the ingredients needed to build up long-range missile capabilities (in the missile trade, participants face strict international proliferation controls – and Turkey is a signatory to the Missile Technology Control Regime). Turkey, with its unrealistic neo-Ottoman ambitions, wants to revive the mighty Ottoman army, this time with sophisticated gear to supplement its manpower. But are missiles the best choice of firepower?

Ballistic missiles are often imprecise, can be intercepted, and can carry only limited payloads (on average 500-1,000 kilograms). In comparison, a conventional F-16 fighter jet can carry a payload four or five times bigger and is an agile war asset. Rogue states often opt for missiles, calculating that these war toys can carry biological, chemical, and nuclear warheads. So why would Turkey, a NATO member state with a modern air force, go after a military capability that would better suit a rogue state with potentially sinister ambitions?

With which countries within a range of 2,500 km does Turkey think it might eventually have to battle? Which targets within that range might it hope to hit – targets that it cannot reach with a 1,000-km missile? Are biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons in Ankara’s contingency plans for future warfare?

Apparently, as Turkey feels more isolated and threatened by real or (mostly) imagined enemies both near and far, it feels it needs maximum possible military deterrence in order to survive (a defensive goal) and to be assertive (an offensive one). Erdoğan’s Turkey wants more than just missiles.

As Erdoğan’s silent war on the West has taken new and more aggressive turns of late, a Muslim cleric known to be Erdoğan’s religious mentor said what many Turks are thinking but are reluctant to express plainly: that Turkey needs its own weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). Hayrettin Karaman, a columnist at a fiercely pro-Erdoğan newspaper, wrote on March 16: “We need to consider producing these weapons [WMDs] rather than purchasing [them] without losing any time and with no regard to words [of caution] and hindrance from the West … Let’s invent [these WMDs], balance [the West] out, but let’s not use WMDs unless it is necessary; the way for not resorting [to WMDs] is to possess weapons that are equal to or more powerful than the ones the enemy has.” So: the West is the enemy. And WMDs are the means to fight that enemy.

The Ottoman siege of Vienna might have failed in 1683. But it looks as though the neo-Ottoman Turks are determined to get back to the gates (well, the skies this time) of Europe. Or at least that is their ambition.

Precise long-range missiles are a near impossibility for Turkey, given the technological and political barriers. Nuclear warheads are even more improbable. The problem for Turkey’s western “friends and allies” is not the risk of its achieving missile and nuclear capabilities. It is the Islamist ideology that encourages Ankara’s leaders to overtly or covertly harbor that ambition.

View PDF

BESA Center Perspectives Papers are published through the generosity of the Greg Rosshandler Family

Burak Bekdil is an Ankara-based columnist. He regularly writes for the Gatestone Institute and Defense News and is a fellow at the Middle East Forum.


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

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