Friday, May 12, 2017

'Hate Spaces': The Politics of Intolerance on Campus -


A disturbing, in-depth look at the new campus Brownshirts.

Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT) has released a new documentary called Hate Spaces: The Politics of Intolerance on Campus to address the worsening anti-Semitic environment on our country's college campuses.

APT is a Boston-based non-profit organization dedicated to promoting peaceful coexistence in an ethnically diverse America by educating the American public about the need for a moderate political leadership that supports tolerance and core American values in communities across the nation.

Hate Spaces goes beyond the by-now familiar accounts of a hostile school environment to document the dynamics on campus that perpetuate the problem. It illustrates how anti-Semitism is being made fashionable at many American universities through the on-going academic de-legitimization of Israel, the normalization of hatred in the name of social justice, the growth of Muslim students on campus, and massive donations of Arab oil money to universities.

The film includes commentary and analysis from distinguished writers and academics including:

• Alan Dershowitz of Harvard
• William Jacobson of Cornell
• Richard Landes of Boston University
• Bret Stephens of The Wall Street Journal
• the Freedom Center's own Caroline Glick of The Jerusalem Post
Connecticut College Professor Andrew Pessin says this of the film:
Hate Spaces is an essential and timely film. Campus antisemitism, masquerading as anti-Israelism, is on the rise. Responding to this phenomenon requires a deep and honest analysis of its causes. Hate Spaces does this meticulously, thoroughly, and grippingly. A must-see for all those concerned about the worsening situation on campus.”
Please check out the trailer above.


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Europe: Denying the Threat of Islamic Imperialism - Maria Polizoidou

by Maria Polizoidou

The enemy is already inside the gates; many European regimes seem unaware that there is even a threat.

  • The UN report and Erdogan's rhetoric both evidently expresses the Muslim world's thoughts about what it apparently thinks should be the fate of Israel and Europe. So far, not a single Muslim state has condemned or opposed Erdogan's aggression against Judeo-Christian civilization.
  • The enemy is already inside the gates; many European regimes seem unaware that there is even a threat.
  • The logic of much of Europe's religious and political community seems to be that if the elephant in the room is spoken to nicely and made to look cute and adorable, people will not think of it as a threat to their safety.
The Western world can no longer ignore the problem of the latest the elephant in the room: Islamic imperialism. Europe has come to such a state of free speech trials, threats of censorship or, out of fear, self-censorship, that it seems to prefer putting the safety of its citizens at risk than admit that this elephant exists.

Meanwhile, Muslim countries make not the slightest effort to hide their intentions, as recent actions of 18 such states at the United Nations illustrate. They cooperated in the preparation of the report released in March by the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA), which accused Israel of "the crime of apartheid," despite knowing full well that such a baseless claim would be rejected by the world body now that Donald Trump is at the helm of the free world. The reason they went ahead with it anyway was to convey to the West that delegitimizing the Jewish state was merely the first step in a master plan to unravel all of Judeo-Christian civilization and values.

For a body such as UNESCWA to declare the State of Israel in an official Institute's report, as being guilty of "the crime of apartheid" according to international law, shows that Islamic expansionism is a real and an active political problem.

UNESCWA must have had some idea, before publishing the report, that such a loopy conclusion could not be adopted, even by the UN, which has been doing its utmost to rewrite historical facts. In the last few years, UNESCO has repeatedly declared pre-Islamic historical sites Islamic.

Nevertheless, UNESCWA proceeded to pass this surreal political concoction, probably to declare to the Western world again its attempts to delegitimize the State of Israel and all the freedoms it represents in the Judeo-Christian world that might threaten the expansion of Islam.

It was an attempt to project power.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Turkey, which even before his new, absolute powers, wanted to represent all of Sunni Islam, shows to the Western world the true face of Islamic imperialism and the conventional, irregular and cyber war it appears to have declared on the Christian world.

The UN report and Erdogan's rhetoric both evidently expresses the Muslim world's thoughts about what it apparently thinks should be the fate of Israel and Europe. So far, not a single Muslim state has condemned or opposed Erdogan's aggression against Judeo-Christian civilization.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gives a speech in Ankara on April 17, celebrating his victory in the referendum the previous day, which granted him new, absolute powers. (Image source: Getty Images)

According to Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu, "[T]here will soon be religious wars inside Europe". The enemy is already inside the gates; many European regimes seem unaware that there is even a threat.

Corrupted elites, with the help of many in the international community, try to suffocate Israel economically; and the biased and dishonest media seem to be trying to hide from the public that they work as proxies of Islamic imperialism, promoting Islamic ideology and condemning the values of the West.

Pope Francis and Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew use Jesus's phrase "Love each other as I have loved you" as a religious justification to love people who are ordered -- under threat of eternal hellfire -- not only never to love you, but to have nothing whatever to do with you, apart from trying to win you over to their firmly-held belief:
"O you who have believed, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies. They are [in fact] allies of one another. And whoever is an ally to them among you - then indeed, he is [one] of them." -- Qur'an 5:51
The logic of much of Europe's religious and political community seems to be that if the elephant in the room is spoken to nicely and made to look cute and adorable, people will not think of it as a threat to their safety.

Left-wing ideologues and unwitting fellow travelers hide the nature of the elephant. This was the approach of President Obama, who, along with European leaders, provided space in which the elephant could operate, grow and undermine the fabric of Western societies.

Key to this enabling has been a Western focus on fake politics -- such as the obsession with issues such as transgender bathrooms and rights for women who are already blessed with rights -- while Islamists are actually oppressing gays and women in the most rigid fashion.

The Obama administration metamorphosed real politics into fake politics, where people talk -- instead of about freedom and democracy -- about feminism, gender studies, transgender bathrooms, feeling offended and endless vaginology.

Christian leaders have also been trying to deflect from the threat. Both Pope Francis and Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I use Jesus's phrase, "Love each other as I have loved you" to disguise and minimize it.

Meanwhile, the elephant in the room gets bigger and bigger and is ready, according to the Turkish president's statements, to destroy the house.

The West seems addicted to prettying up terrorist organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood or the PLO. Wishing away danger is nothing new to the West. It was not until President Ronald Reagan exposed the Soviet Union as an "evil empire," for example, that the threat of Communism began to be taken seriously. Within six years, the USSR collapsed.

The behavior of many Western political leaders, jumping from one definition to another about the "true nature of Islam," has so far been disastrous. The tenets of Islam are there or all to see; people in the West seem not to want to look.

What are we Westerners doing trying to tell Muslims what their religion is, in the first place? Do they try to tell us what "real Christianity" is?

Sadly, too much of what we have seen of Islam in the West has been violent. Countless attacks, with shouts of "Allahu Akbar" have been claimed in the name of Islam. In terms of what their religion stands for, you at least have to give them credit for being forthright. We in the West are the ones who have lied.

Ultimately, if we do not confront this problem, this problem will confront us.
Maria Polizoidou, a reporter, broadcast journalist, and consultant on international and foreign affairs, is based in Greece.

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Preacher At Al-Aqsa Mosque Calls To Annihilate The Jews, Destroy The Palestinian Authority And Arab Rulers - MEMRI


More spiritual enlightenment from the religion of peace and tolerance

Palestinian preacher Ali Abu Ahmad, speaking at an Al-Aqsa Mosque rally, said that the occupation of Palestine by the Jews, the "vilest" and "most despicable and cowardly of creatures," was due to the fall of the Caliphate, and called upon Islamic armies to mobilize their forces "to finish off the monstrous entity of the Jews." His prayers to "annihilate all the Jews," to "destroy the [Palestinian] Authority of shame and disgrace," and to "destroy the rulers of the wicked [Muslim] mini-states" were answered by cries of "amen." A video-clip of the address was posted on the Internet on May 6.
 MTV 6010.JPG

Ali Abu Ahmed: "The cause of the prisoners in the prisons of the occupation is not detached from the cause of the people of Palestine, and the cause of the Islamic nation, the mother of all causes - which is the fact that there is no Caliphate. Indeed, servants of Allah, with the fall of the Caliphate Palestine was occupied by the Jews, the vilest of creatures, and the place of the Prophet's nocturnal journey was defiled, blood was spilled, the honor of women was violated, the elderly were humiliated and the children were killed - by the Jews, the most despicable and cowardly of creatures.
 MTV 60101.jpg

"Oh armies of the Islamic nation, if you take up arms in order to please your masters and your rulers, know that the rulers of the wicked (Muslim) mini-states have let you down, after they turned toward America and the West. On the other hand, if you take up arms to please Allah - and we believe that this is the reason - your time has come. The time for you to mobilize your armies has arrived, in order to come to the aid of the prisoners, and of the place of the Prophet's nocturnal journey in Palestine, and in order to support Muslims everywhere. It is time for you to mobilize in order to finish off the monstrous entity of the Jews.
"Oh Allah, destroy the rulers of the wicked (Muslim) mini-states!"
All: "Amen."
Ahmed: "Oh Allah, destroy the (Palestinian) Authority of shame and disgrace!"
All: "Amen."
 MTV 60102.jpg

Ahmed: "Oh Allah, annihilate all the Jews!"
All: "Amen."
 MTV 60103.png

Ahmed: "Oh Allah, enable us to kill them!"
All: "Amen."
 MTV 60104.png

Ahmed: "Oh Allah, bestow upon us the honor of the Caliphate soon!"



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Assad's Hollow Crown: A Journey through Regime-Held Syria - Jonathan Spyer

by Jonathan Spyer

The traffic was on the roads, the shops were open, pictures of the dictator and his family were everywhere. But all was far flimsier and more brittle than it initially appeared.

Originally published under the title "Assad's Hollow Crown." All photos by author.

A military checkpoint, Damascus, Old City.

The mortar shells came early in the morning. At about 5. At regular intervals. Solemn and sinister. They were a reminder of how close it all was. We were in the old city of Damascus. There was still fighting in Jobar, about two kilometers away. The rebels had also counter-attacked from the east, from the suburbs in eastern Ghouta, in the previous week. A shell had landed in the precinct of the Umayyad Mosque. This was not in accordance with the line being promoted by the regime, according to which the rebellion was on the verge of defeat. But there it was.

The old city was tense, behind a veneer of strained normality. There were checkpoints every hundred meters or so. These were maintained not by the army, but by the National Defense Force (NDF), an Iranian-sponsored paramilitary force created to fill the gap presented by the Assad regime's lack of loyal manpower. Young men mostly, with a sprinkling of older types and a very few girls. Supervised by Mukhabarat officers with pistols in their belts. They were suspicious of foreigners. There had already been a number of suicide attacks by members of the jihadi organizations in regime-controlled areas.

The old city of Damascus has an atmosphere of strained normality.

For the most part, though, the atmosphere of strained normality held. Undoubtedly, fear of the regime played its part in the exaggerated professions of loyalty and love for Bashar that one would hear. But there was also justified fear of the Islamist rebels, and what their advance would mean. And, of course, there was mainly fatigue, and the desire of people to live in their own private circle, and willingness to cope with any governing authority which appeared able to provide for that. The Syrian pound had plummeted in value since the start of the war – from 48 pounds to the US dollar in March 2011 to 625 to the dollar now. There were long queues each morning to buy subsidized bread at the state bakeries. The traffic was on the roads, the shops were open, pictures of the dictator and his family were everywhere. But all was far flimsier and more brittle than it initially appeared.

I should explain first of all how I came to be in Damascus. I have been writing about Syria now for over a decade. I have visited the country numerous times since the outbreak of its civil war in mid-2011. My visits, though, were always to the areas controlled by the Sunni Arab rebels or the Kurdish separatist forces. This was a notable gap in my coverage. I wanted to remedy it.

The Assad regime makes it hard for journalists to acquire visas.

The Assad regime makes it hard for journalists to acquire visas. The authorities are keen consumers of media, and keep track of the names of reporters who have spent time among their enemies. The number of journalists who have managed to report from both the government and rebel sides is very small. I had tried on a number of occasions to acquire a visa, but made little progress.

Finally, a colleague suggested the idea of joining a delegation of foreign supporters of the regime. With the war going its way since late 2015, the Syrian government has begun to cautiously open up to visitors. But like other authoritarian regimes, it prefers to welcome these in groups, and under careful supervision.

I made contact with the organizers of one of these delegations. The process was surprisingly straightforward.

We met in Beirut and then crossed the border. The tour was organized in cooperation with the Syrian Ministry of Information, so a representative of the ministry would be with us at all times. The participants were a varied bunch. Some pro-Assad true believers, some younger travelers. Mainly from the West, but a couple also from Jordan.

The Assad supporters represented that strange axis in contemporary Western politics where far left meets radical right. A British man on the delegation was fulsome with praise for Assad's social welfare system. The West, he declared, was fearful of Arab socialist regimes such as Assad's Syria and Gaddafi's Libya coming to form an example for Western publics. And later, "The Rothschilds control the banking system in all the world. There's five countries where the banking system is not controlled by them. Iran, Syria, China, Russia and North Korea."

"Syria refused to make peace with Israel," another participant, a young woman from Jordan, told me, "so they decided to start the war and bring down the Syrian government. They will only allow puppet Arab governments who do what they say – like Jordan and Saudi Arabia."

Both rebels and regime claim the war in Syria is the result of an Israel-linked conspiracy.

"There was the Iraq war, of course. And then there was the war of 2006, which was supposed to defeat the resistance. Then when this failed, they decided to try the 'Arab Spring' instead."

This message – that the war in Syria is the result of an Israel-inspired conspiracy intended to foment internal unrest and split the country into enfeebled cantons – is the central talking point of regime spokesmen. I would hear it again and again in Syria. Ironically, I had heard a precise mirror image of this theory from Syrian rebel commanders on the Turkish-Syrian border a few months earlier. In their telling, the conspiracy involved a nefarious alliance between the Iranians, the Assad regime and Israel.

In the case of the rebels, such claims come in Islamic garb, giving them a more contemporary feel. With the regime supporters, the justifications are wrapped in the antique tones of the old secular Arab nationalism of the 1960s and '70s. Ironically, of course, behind the nationalist rhetoric of Syria being the last defiant fortress of pan-Arab resistance and so on, the Assad regime is today entirely dependent for its survival on non-Arab forces – namely Russia and Iran.

Contrary to its Arab nationalist rhetoric, the Assad regime is entirely dependent on non-Arab support.

Indeed, perhaps the most striking and immediately apparent element in regime-controlled Syria is the yawning gap between the rhetoric of the regime, the impression it wants to give, and the underlying reality. I'm not referring to the gulf between the gaudy ideological proclamations and the reality of a brutal police state. This should be obvious. What I mean is the gap precisely between the attempt to convey the impression of a powerful, consequential Arab nationalist regime and the fragmented, enfeebled reality of a regime dependent on other forces both above and below it, and controlling only a part of the territory over which it claims sovereignty.

Syria today remains effectively divided into six enclaves. The government controls Damascus, the three major cities to its north – Homs, Hama and Aleppo, and the western coastal area. There are two rebel held enclaves – Idleb province in the north west, and parts of Dera'a and Quneitra in the south west. The Kurds control a large area in the north east and an isolated canton further west (Afrin). The Islamic State organization, meanwhile, holds a diminishing area in the east and south. There is an additional Turkish-supported rebel enclave between the towns of Azaz and Jarabulus on the Syria-Turkey border.

The regime has been advancing since the intervention of Russian air power on its behalf in September, 2015. But the advance is slow, and it remains doubtful if Assad will ever have sufficient strength to reunite the entire country under his rule.

By itself, the regime is very weak. The Russian contribution is decisive in the air. Iran and its proxies are the key element on the ground. The Assad regime from the outset has rested on a narrow base of available support. The Iranians have trained the auxiliary forces that make up the numbers, like the NDF that guards the Damascus old city. Teheran's proxies – Lebanese Hizballah, the Iraqi Shia militias, the Afghan Fatemiyun and others – play a vital role on the ground.

Without Russian and Iranian assistance, a total regime victory is impossible. The unanswered question at present is what the Russians want. They, above any other force, control the direction of the war between Assad and the rebellion against him. In the meantime, Russian paratroopers in uniform stroll cheerfully through Damascus and Aleppo, and the regime-controlled part of Syria has effectively become a proxy, or puppet of Moscow and Teheran's interests.

Controlled from above, the Assad regime is also subject to fragmentation from below. There are over a hundred pro-regime militias active in the Syrian war. They constitute around half of the available troop strength available to the regime. These militias are not mere servants of Assad. Rather, they are centers of power and resources for the men that control them. Some are small local groups, numbering just a few dozen fighters. Others are countrywide and make use of heavy weapons including armor and artillery.

So the "regime" side in Syria today isn't really a single entity at all. It is a coalition of interests, of which Assad and the power structure around him constitute only a single part. But it is in the interests of all these elements that the Assad regime present itself as a single, united and sovereign force. The regime's antique Pan-Arab nationalist rhetoric, and the echoes it finds among some elements in the West and the Middle East are a part of this.


A house destroyed by aerial bombing, Aleppo.

We entered Aleppo via the Sheikh Najjar industrial district in the east of the city. The destruction wrought by Russian air power on formerly rebel-controlled eastern Aleppo is chilling, awe-inspiring in its proportions. Whole neighborhoods reduced to rubble and rendered uninhabitable. Moscow employed the means of total war on the city. What remains is mostly silence. Just a few families have returned and are living among the ruins.

I have been in Sheikh Najjar once before. That was in the summer of 2012, when the rebellion had just broken into the city. I remembered it as we walked among the desolation.

It had been before the rebellion had taken on its definitively Sunni Islamist character – though the signs had already been prominently there. I remembered the constant noise, the government planes overhead, the commanders of the long defunct Tawhid and Afhad al-Rasoul brigades in the Shaar and Saif al-Dawli neighborhoods, the terrified civilians in the basement of the Dar al-Shifa hospital, as the regime aircraft dropped their bombs outside.

Dar Al-Shifa is long since destroyed, of course. The civilians have gone too. Replaced by silence, and ruins.

Bustan al-Qasr neighborhood, Aleppo.

A massive poster of Bashar Assad and his brother Maher is mounted at the entrance to the Aleppo Citadel. "Congratulations on your victory, O Aleppo." it reads. Another, seen all over the western part of the city, depicts a stern, helmeted member of the security forces and reads "Aleppo is in our eyes. This has a double meaning in Arabic – "we are watching Aleppo," but also "Aleppo is precious to us." This is the way the Assad regime speaks to its subjects. A threat, lightly coated in a sickly sweet rhetoric.

Western Aleppo, nevertheless, appears superficially untouched by the war. The rebels, entirely lacking in air power and with only primitive, improvised artillery, were never able to make a serious impression on it. But the regime's hold is narrower than it appears. Even now, the rebels are not far from the city. They are located just north west of Aleppo in Kafr Hamrah and Huraytan. The strained normality of the street scene in the west of the city is punctuated every so often by deep, ominous booms of artillery fire from somewhere not very far off. The war is not over. Nor has it gone away.


A single highway snakes its way south of Aleppo through regime-controlled territory, with the rebels to the west and Islamic State to the east. At its narrowest point, near the town of al-Sa'an, the government controlled area is just a few kilometres wide. You must take this road to get from Aleppo to Homs.

The devastation in Homs is, as in Aleppo, breathtaking. Whole neighborhoods turned into wasteland, rendered uninhabitable. Homs was one of the nerve-centers, the heartlands of the revolt against Assad. Destroying the rebellion there meant destroying much of the city itself. This the Russians have undertaken and largely achieved.

Our guide in Homs was an ebullient Alawi Syrian lady called Hayat Awad. Hayat was brimming with vim and confidence and contempt for the 'terrorists', as she called the rebels. But she wore a pendant around her neck, showing the face of one of her sons who had died fighting the rebellion while serving in Assad's army.

Destruction in Homs city.

Hayat trudged with us through the endless dead streets where the rebellion had lived and been destroyed, dispensing the official regime version of the conflict as she did so. "They destroyed everything at the behest of the Jews," she declared, "because the Zionists want to claim that they have the oldest culture, but they were not able to do this because Syria has a history 7,000 years old." We were in a Christian church damaged in fighting between the rebels and regime in the Homs old city at the time.

Casual anti-Semitism of this kind is common and entirely mainstream in the Arab world. No logic is required for it. Consider the claim: Sunni Arab jihadi fighters in Homs had deliberately set about destroying the Christian heritage in the area because the jihadis are in alliance with a broader Jewish and Zionist plan to destroy non-Jewish cultural heritage in the Middle East. This is part of a Jewish plan to pretend that theirs is the oldest culture in the area, or the world. Such an idea is obviously insane. It is also to be found among the mainstream of discussion in regime-controlled Syria.

Hayat Awad declared this in front of a small audience consisting for the most part of people who would declare themselves progressives, leftists and liberals in their own Western homes. Not a word of protest.

While we were in Homs, a "reconciliation" deal was under way. The rebels were set to leave the last neighborhood of the city under their control, al-Waer. These agreements are part of the regime strategy to reduce the area of the country under the control of the rebellion. They involve laying siege to the area in question and then offering the rebels and their supporters the option of leaving for Idleb, which is under the control of rebel organizations. In the case of al-Waer, the rebels and their supporters were being permitted to leave in exchange for the lifting of the rebels' own siege on two isolated Shia villages in Idleb province – Fu'a and Kafriya. The deal was delayed after a rebel group attacked a convoy of civilians coming from these villages in Rashidin, at the entrance to Aleppo, but has since been implemented.

Acres of ruined and empty houses stand as a warning of the strength and tactics of pro-regime forces.

Some observers of the Syrian war consider that these deals amount to a form of ethnic cleansing or depopulation, whereby Sunni Arab populations are being systematically induced to leave the government-controlled area. No evidence of a clear and consistent plan on the part of the regime or its backers has yet emerged in this regard. Indeed, the regime continues to accept refugees seeking to enter its zones of control from rebel areas, so claims of a general strategy of sectarian expulsion are unproven. In Daraya, Moadamiya, Zabadani, and Aleppo City, the evidence shows that residents were given the choice of evacuation to Idleb or residence in nearby regime controlled areas. But in Homs city, specifically, it is clear that only very small numbers of civilians have been permitted to return. Some accounts suggest that only people who actively sought to reach regime territory have been allowed to return to their neighborhoods. Hence the acres of ruined and empty houses stand as a warning of the strength available to the regime and its backers and the tactics they are prepared to employ.

In one of the ruined houses we found remnants left by the retreating rebel fighters. Some shell casings, and a Saudi-produced theological book about Ramadan, entitled "Spirit of the Fast." A sort of testimony or warning to those who might celebrate the destruction as a victory – that this other, Sunni Arab, Islamist Syria, despite it all, is not yet destroyed.


In a meeting with a serving general of the Syrian Arab Army, I asked what the regime's strategy was for re-uniting the country. The general, seated behind a picture of his younger self with Rifaat Assad, and puffing on an enormous cigar, responded that "No conclusion of the war can come without the decision of 'official Syria'." This vague reply was revealing of the large gap between the regime's proud rhetoric, and the diminished extent of its power.

I received similar replies to the same question from ministers in Bashar Assad's government with whom we met in the course of our time in Damascus. Mohammed Tourjman, information minister, said that the "reconciliation" process and the "liberation" of occupied areas would continue. Only "ISIS and Nusra," in his telling, refuse to be part of the reconciliation, and these are regarded internationally as terrorist organizations (with the implication that they could be dealt with by purely military means). And with regard to the de facto division of Syria, "We have absolute faith that this is a temporary situation." All this after an introduction in which the minister too spoke of "a plan to divide Syria into cantons, and keep us weak, to the benefit of the Zionist entity." Again, this is a clear declaration of intent, but the reconciliation process at least as of now is mainly trimming the edges of the regime-controlled zone, not fundamentally altering the balance of forces between the sides.

A poster commemorating the death of SSNP member Naim Salim Hadad, killed fighting Syrian rebels, Homs.

Ali Haidar, Minister of Reconciliation Affairs, who handles much of the practical aspect covering the transport of rebels from "reconciled" towns was equally vague in response to this question. Reunification will only come, he suggested, when "foreign powers stop supporting the Syrian organizations." No plan for how to achieve this. Haidar, incidentally, is not a Ba'athist. He is the leader of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP). This party, founded in 1932, is a fascist-style group, even down to its swastika-style emblem, which he was wearing in his lapel during our meeting. The party's literature refers to Syrian rebels as "internal Jews."

It is tempting but probably superfluous to dwell on these grotesque aspects of the Syrian government. The regime in its self-presentation openly resembles the European totalitarian governments of mid-20th century Europe. This holds an ugly fascination for some Europeans and other Westerners. But the posturing and the rhetoric is mostly without weight, like a cheap tin pendant that only from a distance resembles solid metal. Holding up this fragile structure are a variety of other forces more deserving of attention.

The author at Hamidiyeh Market, Damascus.

On our last night in the city, a member of the delegation was threatened at gunpoint by a drunken Russian journalist. The authorities in the area said they could do nothing, because the man was Russian. This small episode says more about the true state of affairs in government-controlled Syria than all the regime's verbiage. The Assad regime's servants do not enjoy unquestioned sovereignty even in their own capital. The regime is today largely a hollow structure. The vigorous regional ambitions of Iran and Russia, and the smaller but no less notable intentions of a vast variety of pro-regime militia commanders must be factored into any assessment of regime capabilities and intentions.

The closeness of the Sunni Arab rebels to the regime's urban centers, and the absence of Assad's power from almost the entirety of the country's east are further testimony to the erosion of the regime. It is a very long way from the days when Hafez Assad ran Syria as his "private farm," as a Syrian Kurdish friend of mine once put it. The Assad regime cannot be destroyed for as long as Moscow and Teheran find a reason to underwrite its existence. But the mortar shells landing in Damascus in close succession are an unmistakable testimony to its reduced and truncated state. The anachronistic rhetoric of its officials and its supporters does not succeed in disguising this reality. Assad is wearing a hollow crown.

Jonathan Spyer, a fellow at the Middle East Forum, is director of the Rubin Center for Research in International Affairs and author of The Transforming Fire: The Rise of the Israel-Islamist Conflict (Continuum, 2011).


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Nonie Darwish's "Wholly Different" - Danusha V. Goska

by Danusha V. Goska

Half her life in Egypt, half her life in the U.S. -- an insider's insights on Islam and the West.

Nonie Darwish's 2017 Regnery Faith book, Wholly Different: Why I Chose Biblical Values over Islamic Values, is a wide-ranging, reader-friendly view into the thinking of an Egyptian, Muslim woman who immigrated to America at age 30 and began to compare and contrast the values she was steeped in to those found in Judeo-Christian-influenced, Western culture.

Darwish was born in 1949 in Cairo, Egypt. She grew up in Egypt and Gaza. Her father, Mustafa Hafez, created and oversaw an anti-Israel terror group. When Darwish was eight, her father was assassinated by Israel. Egyptian President Nasser praised Darwish's father as a shahid, or martyr. Darwish immigrated to the US in 1978, and she has lived here ever since. She converted to Christianity.

Wholly Different is part memoir, part sociological observation, and part prophetic clarion. Darwish's style is cozy and conversational. Her sentences are short and easy to read. Darwish paints a vast, impressionistic landscape comparing the Muslim world to the West. She makes a series of thought-provoking points in a rapid style. She quotes relevant passages from Islamic scripture and shows how that scripture plays out in modern societies. In contrast, she quotes important Biblical passages and demonstrates how those have influenced the West. 

Darwish combines the maternal love one might find in a wise grandmother, the kind who bakes cookies and contains a storehouse of folkloric wisdom, with the stripped-to-the-bone truth-telling and no-time-to-waste urgency of an Old Testament prophet. With every sentence, Darwish conveys the deep care she feels for every reader with an insistence on being heard, and heard for every last syllable.

As is often the case, this book by a former Muslim is more fearlessly blunt than many a counter-jihad statement by someone who has never been a Muslim. "Islamic values versus Biblical values is a bloody collision waiting to happen. The West must be warned," she writes. Darwish has seen jihad up close and personal. She knows what is at stake, she has taken the measure of the wolf at the door, and her call bursts forth like a trumpet. Just one example of the kind of unique insights she can offer: in thirty years of living as a Muslim in the most populous Arab state, she never heard anyone question why Mohammed, at over fifty years old, took a six-year-old as his wife.

"A fish doesn't know it is in water," goes the old saying. Perhaps nothing dramatizes this point so vividly as Western women who marry Muslim men, travel with those men to their natal countries, and are shocked to discover that rights they took for granted as universal ceased to exist once they stepped across a border and put their Western homeland at their back. One can see one such woman, Stephanie, sobbing in a 2016 EXMNA video. "I was certain that I was going to find a way to bring my daughters back, so I bought them a bunch of clothes, but they haven't had a chance to wear them yet," Stephanie says, with unbearable poignancy. The camera shows Stephanie's slender fingers fondling princess dresses she had purchased for her daughters, dresses that her daughters will never wear.

Stephanie was born in Canada and married a Muslim man. She had two children by him. She convinced herself that she and her Libyan husband could create a Canadian version of Islam. She could prevent her husband from forcing hijab on her daughters, allow the girls to listen to music, and take gymnastics. "We can mix both and be happy," she thought. Islam, though, she said, demanded that her husband "protect" his children from Stephanie; indeed, to protect Stephanie from herself. Her husband, over the course of eighteen months, hatched a plot to convince Stephanie to put her daughters on a plane so that he could attend grad school in Europe. This was a lie. He had no plans for a European PhD. He lured Stephanie into Libya, at which point she had no rights whatsoever. Stephanie says that in Islamic terms, her husband was kind – because he had the right to kill her, and he did not. It's five years later, and Stephanie has not seen her children since. She may never see them again.

Why did Stephanie make decisions that doomed her to a life of heartache and regret? Especially given the bestselling 1987 book, Not Without My Daughter? And numerous websites dedicated to warning Western women about the potential pitfalls in cross-cultural marriages, websites like this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, and too many others to list? Maybe this is why. Maybe Stephanie had politically correct teachers who told her that the West is an oppressive, racist, sexist place. They told her, further, that Islam is a religion of peace. These fonts of politically correct ideology emphasized cultural relativism. All religions are the same, they told young Stephanie. All religions are about love.

Wholly Different is a three-alarm wake-up call from Nonie Darwish. Darwish informs her reader that it's not just when it comes to terrorism that Western and Muslim worldviews conflict. Rather, in a thousand little ways, daily life is different. Darwish lists fifty-three features that, for her, differentiate the Western worldview from the Muslim one. Darwish, as a trained journalist and speaker of Arabic, cites canonical Islamic sources to support her points. "Islam and democracy are contradictory and absolutely incompatible," she writes. These are not her words. She is quoting an imam.

Darwish says that every cultural feature is grounded in the foundational texts that inform each culture. The West is inspired by the Judeo-Christian Bible. God is a father who affirms his creation and wants to love us. God is rational. God wants so badly to save us that he sacrificed his only son to die for us. In contrast, the Muslim world is founded on and inspired by the Koran and the life and sayings of Mohammed. Allah is not loving and he is not a father. Allah announces that he does not need humans; if he wanted to, he could wipe humanity out and choose to create some other lifeform. Allah is not only not rational, he is the "greatest deceiver" who can grant or withhold an afterlife paradise as he sees fit. Allah demands that humans not love him, but submit to him, as slaves submit to their masters, and to sacrifice their lives for him.

Darwish is a Christian, but an observant Atheist might have written a similar book. Atheist Richard Dawkins said "I am not aware of any Christian suicide bombers … I have mixed feelings about the decline of Christianity, in so far as Christianity might be a bulwark against something worse." Atheist Bill Maher said, "The values of Western civilization are not just different, they're better. I know a whole generation has been raised on the notion of multiculturalism … Rule of law is better than autocracy and theocracy. Equality of the sexes, better," and "Islam is not like other religions. It is a unique threat. Christians do not believe that if you leave the religion you should be killed for it … If they were beheading people in Vatican City … don't you think there would be a bigger outcry? This is the soft bigotry of low expectations that we have with Muslim people." Atheist Sam Harris has been criticized for saying things like, "The truth is that Islam is quite a bit scarier and more culpable for needless human misery than Christianity has been for a very, very long time. We have to point this out. To be evenhanded … is to misconstrue the problem."

Western rights did not emerge ex nihilo. They are founded on Judeo-Christian religion and Ancient Greek civilization. Thus the Supreme Court building, for example, is modeled on the Parthenon, and while the building's frieze depicts lawgivers from various cultures, the figure at its center and apex is Moses, the Jewish lawgiver. He holds two tablets, representing the Ten Commandments. The rights we in the West take for granted are not universal, but rather are specific to the West, and based on our unique history. When we give up our foundations, we give up our rights.

Darwish, no wilting violet, brings the hammer down with her first sentence: don't you dare, she warns, replace the word "Judeo-Christian" with the politically correct neologism "Abrahamic," meant to elevate Islam to Judeo-Christian status as a co-foundation for Western civilization. She links the term "Abrahamic" to a Muslim Brotherhood document instructing followers to "present Islam as a civilizational alternative" and "destroy the Western Civilization from within." The West's capitulation to this agenda, she says, "is undermining the Biblical values of the West." As proof, she cites the Army's disciplining of a soldier who attempted to rescue a boy sex slave from an Afghan police commander, who kept the boy chained to his bed. She says that when she worked in Egypt, there were no prayer rooms or foot faucets at her workplace. Now, Muslims demand these perquisites in Western workplaces. This is part of civilizational jihad, she says.

Darwish describes Islam as a religion driven by a sense of competition with Jews and Christians. Sixty-four percent of the Koran, she maintains, is devoted to denigrating commentary about kafirs, or non-Muslims. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is totally alien to Islam, she says. "Islam has nothing to do with Abraham and Biblical values. In fact, it awards the highest esteem to Muslims who kill the children of Abraham, the Jews."

Darwish charts her intellectual and spiritual journey from simple observations of quotidian reality and larger trends. "Why is it that people in the West stand in line to wait for their turn while in the Muslim world people step on each other to get to be first? Why is it that in the West government leaders leave their office at the end of their term peacefully while in the Muslim world their term ends with either natural death or assassination?" Even in asking these questions, she writes, she was violating cultural expectations. "Asking questions and doubting is taboo in Islam."

Another factor, she says, impeded her maturation in Egypt. "I came from a culture where openly talking about one's true feelings, inadequacies, and vulnerabilities was taboo." That kind of repression prevents personal growth.

Darwish's focus on her natal society's suppression of her self-awareness and admission of vulnerability segues into the portion of the book that excited me the most. Darwish argues that Allah encourages Muslims to hide sin, seeing public admission of sin to be a sign of weakness, while the West encourages individuals to acknowledge and come to terms with their own faults. When Muslims sin, Allah covers those sins to allow the Muslim to avoid public censure. Muslims are forbidden to expose each other's weaknesses to non-Muslims. "Keeping up a good front" becomes a religious obligation. Darwish writes, "Islamic logic does not see confession of sin by Jews and Christians as a virtue or as the starting point to redemption and an attempt to be better people. In Islam self-criticism, admitting sin, praying for forgiveness, and openly exposing one's vulnerabilities and imperfections in a search for the truth is worthy of punishment." Darwish quotes Mohammed, "All of my community shall be pardoned, save those who commit sins openly." If followers of a sheikh witness the sheikh committing a sin, the follower should say, "it is my eyes that committed the sin" for having witnessed a power figure do wrong. The Islamic view of public exposure of sin feeds a culture based on pride and shame. The Koran is replete with references to "shame," "disgrace," "humiliation," and "losers." There is no comparable mention of "losers" in the Bible. In the Koran, in addition to being labeled "losers," Christians and Jews are also called "pigs," "apes," and "unclean."

This emphasis on hiding sin fuels honor killing, and Turkey's refusal to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide, Darwish argues. As a contemporary, concrete example of this advice to conceal sins, Darwish cites Islamweb's 2012 Fatwa number 184937. A woman wrote to report that her husband sexually assaulted their fourteen-year-old daughter. She asked what she should do. The religious expert responded that the daughter should cover herself with hijab and the wife ought to "conceal his sin" and continue to live as his wife.

Islam on Demand, a YouTube channel, features a 2011 lecture by respected sheikh Hamza Yusuf. Yusuf reflects Darwish's words. Islam demands that an individual suppress urges, he says. In the West, Yusuf says, the attitude is "don't harm anyone." In the Islamic worldview, he says, there is a harm when forbidden behavior "emerges into the public space." "What people do behind their closed doors is their own business." Yusuf cites the example of alcohol. If people make and consume wine at home, "that's between them and God. The minute they step into the public space, then that is where sharia says no."

I wrote about this aspect of the difference between Islamic worldviews and the West in 2001:
"Ritualized, religiously mandated confession generated, in the West, a culture-wide valorization of self-examination, subjectivity, individuality, and change … Confession caused believers to examine themselves, admit their errors, work for self-improvement and to develop a linear / teleological mindset – to believe that the future could be better than the past … This absence of ritualized, valorized, narration of sin and redemption to one's fellows does not provide the Muslim with the same cognitive, social or cultural exercise." I hope that others pick up on this theme.

Darwish cites many of the Koran verses and Hadith that call for jihad. One hadith promises that killing a Jew or a Christian offers a Muslim a chance to be redeemed from ever having to go to Hell. Darwish comments on the public relations attempt to redefine "jihad" as peaceful self-improvement. In Islamic texts, she says, jihad plainly means "war with non-Muslims to establish the religion."

Wholly Different will be a rewarding read for those interested in a big-picture comparison of the Muslim world and the West, from an educated observer who has lived decades in both worlds and can support her points with key texts and contemporary examples.

Danusha V. Goska is the author of Save Send Delete.


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A Global Warming Surprise - S. Fred Singer

by S. Fred Singer

We have long suspected that some widely used climate data are phony, but evidence for this just became available.

Exploring some of the intricacies of GW [Global Warming] science can lead to surprising results that have major consequences. In a recent invited talk at the Heartland Institute’s ICCC-12 [Twelfth International Conference on Climate Change], I investigated three important topics: 

1. Inconsistencies in the surface temperature record.
2. Their explanation as artifacts arising from the misuse of data.
3. Thereby explaining the failure of IPCC to find credible evidence for anthropogenic global warming (AGW).

A misleading graph

In the iconic picture of the global surface temperature of the 20th century [fig 1, top] one can discern two warming intervals -- in the initial decades (1910-42) and in the final decades, 1977 to 2000.
Fig 1 20th century temps; top—global; bottom-- US

Although these two trends look similar, they are really quite different: the initial warming is genuine, but the later warming is not. I wouldn't exactly call it ‘fake,’ but it just does not exist; I try to demonstrate this difference as an artifact of the data-gathering process, by comparing with several independent data sets covering similar time intervals.

The later warming is contradicted by every available dataset, as follows:

**the surface record for the ‘lower 48’ [US] shows a much lower trend; [see fig 1, bottom]; presumably there is better control over the placement of weather-stations and their thermometers;
**the trend of global sea surface temp [SST] is much less; with 1995 temp values nearly equal to those of 1942 [according to Gouretski and Kennedy, as published in Geophysical Research Letters in 2012];
** likewise, the trend of night-time marine air-temperatures [NMAT], measured with thermometers on ship decks, according to data from J Kennedy, Hadley Centre, UK
** atmospheric temperature trends are uniformly much lower and close to zero (during 1979-1997), whether measured with balloon-borne radiosondes or with microwave sounding units [MSU] aboard weather satellites [see fig 8 in ref 2]
** compatible data on solar activity that show nothing unusual happening. Interestingly, the solar data had been assembled for a quite different purpose – namely, to disprove the connection between cosmic rays and climate change [see here fig 14 of ref 2], assuming that the late-century warming was real. In the absence of such warming, as I argue here, this attempted critique of the cosmic-ray–climate connection collapses.
** proxy data also show near-zero trends, whether from tree rings or ice cores, as noted about 20 years ago [see fig 16 in ref 1 and figs 2 and 3 of ref 2; plus those that may have been withheld by Michael Mann]. [If you look carefully at Mann’s original 1998 paper in Nature or subsequent copies, you will note that his proxy temps cease suddenly in 1979 and are replaced by temps from thermometers from CRU-EAU, the Climate Research Unit of East Anglia University. This substitution not only supplies the ‘blade’ of Mann’s hockey-stick but enables the claim of IPCC-AR3 [2001] that the 20th century was the warmest in the past 1000 years, surpassing even the high temps of the Medieval Warm Period. In Climategate e-mails this substitution was referred to as “Mike’s Nature trick. I can’t help wondering if Mann’ s original post-1979 proxy data showed no warming at all; perhaps that has some bearing on why Mann has withheld these data; it could have killed the blade and spoiled the IPCC claim.]

On the other hand, the early warming [1910-40] is supported by many proxy data – including temps derived from tree rings, ice cores, etc; unfortunately, we could not find any temperature data of the upper troposphere. However, I bet they would have shown an amplified warming trend – a hot spot.

A Digression on Hotspot [HSp] and Hockeystick [HSt]

Hotspot’ refers to an enhanced temp trend in the tropical upper troposphere [UT]; it is produced by convection of latent energy through water vapor [WV] and is the dominant agent for heating the UT. In IPCC-AR2 [1996], BD Santer mistakenly identified the HSp as the fingerprint for GH [greenhouse] warming, which has led to much confusion in the technical literature, fostering the mistaken claim that the HSp owes its existence to tropospheric CO2. But according to textbooks, it is merely an amplification of any temp trend at the surface through the ‘moist’ atmospheric lapse rate. It surely existed during 1910-42 but we lack data to prove it. Virtual absence of the HSp during 1979-97 [fig 8 of ref 2 ] implies a near-zero surface trend in that interval. This observation also disproves the AGW hypothesis of IPCC-AR2 [1996] that led to the Kyoto Protocol.

This recital of data should suffice to convince alarmists and climate skeptics alike that the late 20th-century global warming does not exist. We should note, however, that both IPCC-AR4 [2007] and AR5 [2013] rely on such (non-existing) warming in trying to prove that its cause is anthropogenic.

Explaining the climate-trend artifact

We suspect we now know what may have caused the fictitious temperature trend in the latter decades of the 20th century:

Ocean data: as seen from fig 2, there was a great shift in the way Sea Surface Temperatures [SSTs] were measured;

Source: JJ kennedy et al. JGR 2011
Fig 2 Sources of SST data: Note the drastic changes between 1980 and 2000 as global buoys increasingly replaced bucket sampling of SST – with also important geographic changes.

Data from floating buoys increased from zero to 60% between 1980 and 2000. But such buoys are heated directly by the sun, as indicated in the cartoon of fig 3, showing a floating buoy in the solar-heated top layer and unheated engine inlet water in lower ocean layers; this combination leads to a spurious rise in SST when the data are mixed together.
Fig 3 Cartoon showing floating buoy in solar-heated layer and inlet for engine cooling water

In merging them, we must note that buoy data are global, while bucket and inlet temps are perforce confined to [mostly commercial] shipping routes. Nor do we know the ocean depths that buckets sample; inlet depths depend on ship type and degree of loading. Disentangling this mess requires data details that are not available. About all we can demonstrate is a distinct diurnal variation in the buoy temps.

The land data have problems of their own. During the same decades, quite independently, there was a severe reduction in 'superfluous' (mostly) rural stations [fig 12 in ref 2] -- unless they were located at airports. As seen from fig 4, the number of stations decreased drastically in the 1990’s 

Fig 4 Weather stations at airports [Source: NOAA data]

[fig12 of ref 2], but the number at airports declined less sharply, leading to a major rise in the fraction of reporting stations at airports [according to basic NOAA data]

This led to a huge increase, from 35% to 80%, in the fraction of airport weather stations -- producing a spurious temperature increase from all the asphalt -- this time on land, and hard to calculate in detail. About all we can claim is a general increase in air traffic, about 5% per year worldwide [see fig 19 in ref 1].

We have, however, MSU data for the lower atmosphere over both ocean and land; they show little difference; so we can assume that both land data and ocean data contribute about equally to the fictitious surface trend reported for 1977 to 1997.

The absence of a warming trend of 1979-1997 removes all of IPCC’s evidence for AGW. Both IPCC-AR4 [2007] and IPCC-AR5 [2013] rely on the 1979-1997 warming trend to demonstrate anthropogenic global warming [see chapters on ‘Attribution’ in their respective final reports].

Obviously, if there is no warming trend, these demonstrations fail – and so do their proofs for AGW.

Ref 1: Singer,S.F. Hot Talk, Cold Science. Independent Institute, Oakland, CA, 1997 and 1999.

Ref 2: Singer,S.F. Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate. Heartland Inst, Chicago, 2008

S. Fred Singer is professor emeritus at the University of Virginia and a founding director of the Science & Environmental Policy Project; in 2014, after 25 years, he stepped down as president of SEPP. His specialty is atmospheric and space physics. An expert in remote sensing and satellites, he served as the founding director of the US Weather Satellite Service and, more recently, as vice chair of the US National Advisory Committee on Oceans & Atmosphere. He is an elected Fellow of several scientific societies and a Senior Fellow of the Heartland Institute and the Independent Institute. He co-authored the NY Times best-seller Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 years. In 2007, he founded and has chaired the NIPCC (Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change), which has released several scientific reports []. For recent writings see and also Google Scholar.


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