Friday, September 15, 2017

The State Department's Palestinian Fantasies - A.J. Caschetta

by A.J. Caschetta

The US State Department's Palestinian fantasies are on display in its congressionally-mandated annual report on international terrorism released in July.

In spite of recent polls indicating that ordinary Palestinians increasingly recognize that Israel is here to stay, the rejectionist Palestinian leadership remains the most formidable obstacle to a peace agreement with the Jewish state. But running a close second place is the US State Department, where unfounded faith in Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) remains unshaken.

The State Department's Palestinian fantasies are on display in its congressionally-mandated annual report on international terrorism released in July. Abbas's PA "continued its counterterrorism efforts in the West Bank where Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine remained present," according to the report. Abbas is portrayed as a benign leader with an expressed "commitment to nonviolence, recognition of the State of Israel, and pursuit of an independent Palestinian state through peaceful means."

The report applauds the PA for taking "significant steps during President Abbas' tenure (2005 to date) to ensure that official institutions in the West Bank under its control do not create or disseminate content that incites violence." And it asserts that "explicit calls for violence against Israelis, direct exhortations against Jews, and categorical denials by the PA of the possibility of peace with Israel are rare and the leadership does not generally tolerate it."

So much is wrong with this incredible assessment of the PA's 2016 activities that either the judgment or the competence of its authors must be questioned.

Claims that the PA doesn't tolerate calls for violence overlook the entire Palestinian educational system.

To begin, claiming that the PA doesn't tolerate calls for violence requires overlooking the entire PA educational system, which exists to incite violence against Israelis. As then-Senator Hillary Clinton observed correctly in 2007, the PA's textbooks "do not give Palestinian children an education; they give them an indoctrination...[which] profoundly poisons the[ir] minds." When the school term ends, PA summer camps keep the children's skills sharp.

Where formal education ends, cultural inculcation takes over. The State Department somehow failed to notice that 2016 was a banner year for the PA's multi-media incitement, beginning in January with a music video released on the PA's Awdah TV directing Palestinians to "Besiege them [Israelis] in all their neighborhoods, Drown them in a sea of blood, Kill them as you wish."

On Facebook, Fatah and the PA began 2016 honoring "martyrs" who die killing Israelis and ended 2016 honoring the "10th anniversary of the death of the Martyr Saddam Hussein." More of the same occupies the rest of the year's social media activity.

2016 was a banner year for the PA's multi-media incitement.

The State Department dismisses this briskly: "In practice, however, some instances of incitement took place via official media There were also some instances of inflammatory rhetoric and the posting of political cartoons glorifying violence on official Fatah Facebook pages." In truth, there is little else on those pages.

In praising Abbas' "commitment to fight terrorism" and believing him when he "said he was against all forms of terrorist activity," the State Department falls for what Khaled Abu Toameh calls the PA's "double game: on the one hand...telling the world that it wants peace and coexistence with Israel; on the other hand...continuing to incite Palestinians against Israel, and driving some to take guns and knives and set out to murder Jews."

Social media is today the primary engine of extremist incitement among Palestinians.

The State Department document emphasizes "the perception that the Israeli government was changing the status quo on the Haram Al Sharif/Temple Mount" as one of the "[c]ontinued drivers of violence" among Palestinians. But it fails to recognize that Abbas himself is the author of the lies that Israel is changing the status of the Temple Mount, plotting to destroy the Al-Aqsa mosque, and carrying out "extrajudicial executions of [Palestinian] youth and children." After whipping up a frenzy of humiliation and revenge, Abbas reveled in the violence he fomented, ghoulishly celebrating on Palestinian television: "We welcome every of drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem. This is pure blood, clean blood, blood on its way to Allah."

The State Department analysts who laud Abbas' acceptance of a "two-state solution" overlook his September 2016 speech to the UN where he reached back to the Balfour Declaration, demanding Britain apologize for giving "the land of Palestine to another people."

Gross incompetence aside, the only logical explanation for the State Department's inaccurate and misleading report is that its authors still believe, as Barack Obama put it in a 2013 speech in Jerusalem, that Israel has "a true partner in President Abbas." He was wrong then. So is the State Department now.

A.J. Caschetta is a Shillman-Ginsburg fellow at the Middle East Forum and a senior lecturer at the Rochester Institute of Technology.


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The Palestinians' "Jewish Problem" - Bassam Tawil

by Bassam Tawil

What we are actually witnessing is the never-ending search for excuses on the part of the Palestinian Authority and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, not to engage in peace talks with Israel.

  • According to the Palestinians, the two US envoys seem fully to have endorsed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's positions instead of representing the interests of the US. Why? Because they are Jews, and as such, their loyalty is to Israel before the US.
  • Perhaps this view is a projection of what many Muslims would do if the circumstances were reversed.
  • What we are actually witnessing is the never-ending search for excuses on the part of the Palestinian Authority and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, not to engage in peace talks with Israel.

The Palestinians do not like US President Donald Trump's envoys to the Middle East. Why? The answer -- which they make blindingly clear -- is because they are Jews.

In the Palestinian perspective, all three envoys -- Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt and US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, cannot be honest brokers or represent US interests because, as Jews, their loyalty to Israel surpasses, in the Palestinian view, their loyalty to the United States.

Sound like anti-Semitism? Yes, it does, and such assumptions provide further evidence of Palestinian prejudices and misconceptions. The Palestinians take for granted that any Jew serving in the US administration or other governments around the world should be treated with suspicion and mistrust.

Moreover, the Palestinians do not hesitate to broadcast this view.

Take for example, the recent Palestinian uproar over statements made by Friedman in an interview with the Israeli daily Jerusalem Post.

One phrase that Friedman said during the interview has drawn strong condemnations from the Palestinians and some other Arabs. According to the Jerusalem Post: "The Left, he explained, is portrayed as believing that only if the 'alleged occupation' ended would Israel become a better society."

Specifically, it was the use of the term "alleged occupation" that prompted the Palestinians to launch a smear campaign against Friedman -- one that includes references to his being a Jew as well as a to his being a supporter of Israel. This, as far as the Palestinians are concerned, is enough to disqualify him from serving as US Ambassador to Israel or playing any role whatsoever as an honest and fair mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

One political analyst with close ties to the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership in Ramallah called for removing Friedman from his job altogether.

Commenting on the interview with the US ambassador, Palestinian political analyst Omar Hilmi Al-Ghoul wrote: "David Friedman is known to the Palestinian people and leadership as an ugly Zionist colonial who arouses revulsion." Al-Ghoul called on President Trump to recall his ambassador to Israel and to instruct the State Department to start searching for a replacement. He said that the Palestinians are [sic] "have the right" to demand the removal of any ambassador or envoy who "trespasses diplomatic protocols."

The political analyst's opinion reflects the view of many senior officials of the Palestinian Authority. These officials, however, are either reluctant to air their views in public, out of fear that disclosing them would create a crisis with the US administration and end the money that the US pumps into the PA. In private, several Palestinian officials in Ramallah have been expressing concern and anger with President Trump's choice of Jews as his top advisors and envoys on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

This time, the Palestinian Authority was not able to restrain voicing its outrage with the US ambassador's use of the phrase "alleged occupation." Departing from the official PA policy not to launch personal attacks on President Trump and his representatives, the PA Foreign Affairs Ministry blasted the US for "whitewashing the occupation and covering up [Israeli] violations and crimes against the Palestinians."

The ministry also denounced Friedman for attending a wedding in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank last May, and for participating in Israeli celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem.

Israeli citizenship also appears to be a red line for the Palestinians. They earlier had also lashed out at Friedman after reports that his daughter had obtained that citizenship. For them, this was further evidence of the US ambassador's "bias" in favor of Israel, thanks to his Jewish identity.

Arab news websites and social media have also heaped scorn on Friedman for his pro-Israel position and for being a Jew, Here, for example, Friedman is dubbed a real estate broker because of his support for Jewish settlements and as someone who has influence on President Trump.

Conspiracy theory, anyone? These comments, which are common among Palestinians and Arabs, are reminiscent of the conspiracy theory that Jews control the US and the world. Friedman is depicted as a Jew who affects President Trump's decisions. In other words, according to the Palestinians and Arabs, US policies are determined on the basis of what some influential Jews whisper into the ears of the US president rather than on US or international interests.

Similar charges have been made against previous US administrations, both Republicans and Democrats. Henry Kissinger, Dennis Ross, and Martin Indyk are only a few of the Jews over the last few decades who have been accused by Palestinians and Arabs of having played a major role in the US decision-making process.

The Jews are often referred to as being part of the Zionist lobby and a pressure group in the US that works to influence Washington's policy to ensure that it is pro-Israel.

There is, of course, never any mention of the powerful Arab oil lobby.

When President Trump's envoys, Kushner and Greenblatt, visited Ramallah late last month, Palestinians staged a protest in the city against US "bias" in favor of Israel. One of the protesters held a poster featuring Kushner tied to a leash by a blond woman (apparently his wife, Ivanka) who is dressed in an Israeli flag. Translation: Kushner is a puppet in the hands of the "Jewish Lobby." Another poster carried by the protesters displayed a photo of President Trump with a Palestinian boy throwing a pair of shoes at his head. The caption: "Dirty Trump, our prisoners and martyrs are not terrorists."

When President Trump's envoys visited Ramallah last month, Palestinians staged a protest against US "bias" in favor of Israel. Pictured: A poster at the protest, featuring Jared Kushner tied to a leash by a blond woman (apparently his wife, Ivanka) who is dressed in an Israeli flag. (Image source: Wattan video screenshot)

The protest in Ramallah, which was organized by the National and Islamic Forces, an alliance of grassroots activists representing various Palestinian factions, including President Mahmoud Abbas's ruling Fatah faction, could not have taken place without a green light from the Palestinian Authority leadership.

Abbas is not particularly known as an advocate of free speech; anyone who dares to criticize him finds himself behind bars. Just last week, Abbas ordered the arrest of two Palestinians, a journalist and an activist, who dared to criticize him in public. Anyone who wants to hold a protest in Ramallah needs the prior permission of Abbas and his lieutenants, regardless of the subject of the protest.

Abbas's security officers were not blind to the anti-Semitic poster raised by the protesters against Kushner. In fact, Palestinian intelligence officers deployed at the scene were the best witnesses to this display of hatred against a US representative because of his religion. Such protests, however, are fine with the PA leadership so long as they are not directed against Abbas or any of his senior aides.

Each and every time Kushner and Greenblatt meet with Palestinian officials, someone in Ramallah reminds us that are Jews and that they thus cannot possibly perform as honest brokers.

Here is what Faisal Abu Khadra, another Palestinian political analyst, had to say in the semi-official Palestinian daily Al-Quds:
"The ability of Trump and his administration to exert pressure on Israel is currently limited. Trump is surrounded by a group of extremist Zionists. Even in his family, Trump has extremist Jews, which questions his ability to put pressure on Israel. It's hard to see how Kushner and Greenblatt would be able to achieve a breakthrough toward peace."
Among other accusations the Palestinians have lodged against Kushner and Greenblatt is the claim that when the envoys come to meet with Palestinian leaders, they parrot the positions of the Israeli government, and not the US. According to the Palestinians, the two US envoys seem fully to have endorsed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's positions instead of representing the interests of the US. Why? Because they are Jews, and as such, their loyalty is to Israel before the US.

Perhaps this view is a projection of what many Muslims would do if the circumstances were reversed.

Palestinians and other Arabs therefore see and judge President Trump's emissaries according to their religion, not their positions as authentic representatives of their own country, the US.

What we are actually witnessing is the never-ending search for excuses on the part of the Palestinian Authority and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, not to engage in peace talks with Israel.

Bassam Tawil is a Muslim based in the Middle East.


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Jihadism: The Fear That Dare Not Speak its Name - Dexter Van Zile

by Dexter Van Zile

Condemn Israel unfairly or engage in Jew-baiting and you get a letter from CAMERA, the ADL or the local Board of Rabbis. Offend the sensibilities of jihadists and you might get killed.

  • Anti-Zionism delays having to face the threats to world peace and human rights presented by Muslim supremacism.
  • "One girl had boiling water held over her throat: another had her tongue nailed to a table." — Peter McGloughlin, Easy Meat: Inside Britain's Grooming Gang Scandal.
  • Muslims who spoke in opposition to the grooming behavior learned that no one outside their community had their back. Clearly, some form of displacement is going on. Jews are safe to criticize; jihadists are not.

One of the most troubling aspects about "peace and justice" activism in the current era is that the very same institutions that condemn Israel so vociferously have had a difficult, if not impossible time confronting the terrible misdeeds of the Assad regime in Syria, ISIS in Iraq and Boko Haram in Nigeria with the same force with which they assail the Jewish state.

Yes, they issue condemnations, but their statements are lamentations that really do not approach in ferocity of the ugly denunciations these institutions target at Israel. In the United States, the problem is most pronounced in liberal Protestant mainline churches such as the United Church of Christ, the Presbyterian Church USA and the United Methodist Church, denominations that have to varying degrees of intensity support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that singles Israel out for condemnation -- in a transparent effort to eradicate the country by economic means -- while remaining shamefully silent about the genocide of Christians in the Middle East.

We also see a tendency in institutions such as the World Council of Churches, the National Council of Churches and to my dismay as a Catholic, the Vatican and other parts of the Roman Catholic Church, to assail Israel while remaining silent about the problem of jihad.

The Catholic Church, which has condemned anti-Semitism in a document called Nostra Aetate in 1965, also has a difficult time dealing with the problem of Muslim anti-Semitism and anti-Christian hostility in Muslim communities and the religious sources they hold dear.

One source of the problem is that it is simply a lot easier and safer to speak out about the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians than it is to confront the violence against Christians in the rest of the Middle East.

If you fly to Israel, you can participate in a protest against the IDF at the security barrier in the morning and be eating in a nice restaurant in Tel Aviv that afternoon without having to worry about getting shot. Protesting against ISIS or the misdeeds of the Iranian government, which puts Westerners in jail, is another, rather more courageous, thing altogether.

The Arab-Israeli conflict has a theme park for many peace activists: Israel. American clergy go on a tour organized by an anti-Israel group like Sabeel then go back home and give PowerPoint presentations about how they protested the security barrier.

Another factor is fear -- fear of Islam. The threat of violence that comes with confronting the impact of Sharia law and jihadism on human rights and national security has been significant, but it has remained doggedly unstated in the witness of churches in the United States. Condemn Israel unfairly or engage in Jew-baiting and you get a letter from CAMERA, the ADL or the local Board of Rabbis. Offend the sensibilities of jihadists and you might get killed.

On this score, it is important to note that anti-Zionism really started to manifest itself in the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) -- the church where the anti-Israel divestment movement got its start in the U.S. -- with the election of a former missionary by the name of Benjamin Weir as moderator of the denomination's General Assembly in 1986.

Prior to his election as moderator, Weir, kidnapped while working as a missionary, spent a year as a hostage held in Lebanon by Hezbollah.

What did he do when he was freed and returned to the U.S.? He used his newfound fame and influence to encourage the PCUSA to pass resolutions condemning, you guessed it -- Israel.

While he did offer some criticism of Hezbollah, his heart really was not in it. It never translated into overtures presented to the denomination's General Assembly. If you read his book about his exploits carefully, you can see that he links his kidnapping to American support for Israel.

Israel was a safe target for the rage he felt over being kidnapped and having a year of his life stolen from him. The jihadists who kidnapped him were not a safe target.

Anti-Zionism delays having to face the threats to world peace and human rights presented by Muslim supremacism.

The failure to come to grips with Muslim supremacism, however, has real consequences that can be seen in the book Easy Meat: Inside Britain's Grooming Gang Scandal, by the English writer Peter McGloughlin. His book details how British political leaders and law enforcement officials turned a blind eye to -- and even suppressed coverage of -- a tremendous scandal that went on for decades: The grooming and rape of thousands of British girls at the hands of Muslim gangs in England.

In short, schoolgirls in England were groomed, raped and forced into prostitution by Muslim men who regarded them as "easy meat." When some girls went to the police, they were ignored; others remained silent because of physical threats and intimidation. "One girl had boiling water held over her throat: another had her tongue nailed to a table," McGloughlin writes.

McGloughlin quotes one source as follows:
Social workers and journalists helped conceal the problem from the general public and as a result of this conspiracy of euphemism and silence, young Muslim men living in a non-Muslim country were able to rape thousands of young girls with impunity for decades.
Thousands. It was not until 2009 that British law enforcement started to prosecute and convict the perpetrators, and British society started to come to grips with the problem of the jihadist mistreatment of women in a number of cities. It was rooted in sharia law, which enshrines Muslim supremacism over non-Muslims, the dominance of men over women and codifies slavery. It has also been used to legitimate Muslim-on-Muslim violence throughout the world.

In the English town of Rotherham (population ca. 258,000), at least 1,400 children were sexually abused by grooming gangs. Schoolgirls were groomed, raped and forced into prostitution by Muslim men who regarded them as "easy meat." (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

What prompted the silence on the part of responsible elites in England? What made thought leaders in England unable to admit that young British girls were being groomed, raped and forced into prostitution by young Muslim men who waited for them as they left school? Part of it, apparently, was the fear of being called a racist or an Islamophobe.

There was also apparently the fear that publicizing the event might cause riots in the Muslim community and promote the rise of extremism in British politics. The police used this fear to justify their efforts to suppress coverage of the scandal in the media. McGloughlin writes that when a documentary aired in 2004, "The Police, the very group under the spotlight for failure to prosecute these grooming gangs, were able to use the threat that Muslims might riot as an excuse to put pressure on Channel 4 not to show its documentary" about the gangs.

What signal did journalists, activists and government officials send to reform-minded Muslims in Britain when they suppressed open discussion of the problem? Muslims who spoke in opposition to the grooming behavior learned that no one outside their community had their back. They had to endure threats from their fellow Muslims with little support from British elites.

At the same time, it is crucial to note, while this grooming scandal was unfolding in Britain, protesters regularly took to the streets to condemn Israel as it was struggling to defend itself from thousands of rocket attacks from Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Since 2005, 11,000 rockets have been fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip.

During the conflicts between Israel and Hamas, Jews were harassed and bullied by so-called human rights activists in England who largely remained silent about the grooming scandal in England. People had no problem speaking about Israel as a genocidal nation; speaking about the grooming gang crisis was apparently harder.

Clearly, some form of displacement is going on. Jews are safe to criticize; jihadists are not.
The fear that dare not speak its name -- the fear of jihadism -- is one of the primary sources of unrelenting hostility directed at Israel by the churches and human rights activists in North America and Europe.

The same churches here in the United States that have been so critical of Israel and which have supported the BDS movement against the Jewish state have been largely silent about the mistreatment of women and the genocide of religious and ethnic minorities in the Middle East, especially Christians.

In sum, we are behaving like dhimmis -- non-Muslims who have already submitted to Muslim rule. When European leaders work to keep a discussion of Muslim misdeeds out of the papers for fear of offending Islamic sensibilities, they are behaving like dhimmis, just as all-too-many of our church leaders in the U.S. are behaving like dhimmis when they condemn Israel while remaining silent atrocities perpetrated by ISIS. Ironically, it is precisely this failure to respond that has inspired a number of attacks in the United States and Europe.

To understand what is going on, we need some background. Under Shariah, or Islamic law, which was codified in the years after Muhammad's death, Christians and Jews were accorded a second-class status, which in the modern era has been described as dhimmitude.

Dhimmitude is derived from the word dhimmi which is itself derived from the Arabic word dhimma, which describes a pact that was thrust upon Christians and Jews who wished to maintain their faith practices when the countries they lived in came under Muslim rule.

As part of this dhimma pact, non-Muslims agreed to pay jizya (a special "protection" tax) -- and live under a separate set of laws to remind them of their inferiority -- for the privilege of practicing their faith in a Muslim jurisdiction. Often, the jizya tax was collected in a ceremony that included a ritualistic blow to the head or the neck to remind dhimmis that they were paying for the privilege of keeping their head on their shoulders. The goal was to humiliate non-Muslims into submission.

Other rules associated with dhimmitude varied from one location to another but included a prohibition of building homes or houses of worship higher than that of their Muslim neighbors.

Dhimmis were also prohibited from riding horses, and were deprived of the right to defend themselves against Muslims when physically attacked. Public displays of religious symbols (such as the ringing of church bells or singing of hymns) was prohibited. In some instances, Jews and Christians were required to wear a colored patch -- from which was derived the mandatory yellow Star of David stitched onto the clothes of Jews during the Nazi era -- to indicate their religious identity.

Dhimmi testimony was not accepted in Muslim courts, rendering them vulnerable to mistreatment and oppression. Criticizing Islam or agitating for one's liberty and equality was out of the question. The first line of enforcement for these rules was the leaders of the dhimmi communities themselves. Jewish and Christian leaders were obligated to make sure that the people in their communities did not offend Muslim sensibilities.

The governing classes in Europe, particularly in Germany and England, have worked to keep non-Muslims in line by suppressing media coverage of the mistreatment of women in their respective countries in the past few years. The national assemblies of mainline churches have played a similar role by ignoring the genocide of Christians and other minorities in the Middle East. The violence we have seen on the internet and on our televisions has terrorized us into remaining silent about these outrages. It is a conspiracy of fearful silence -- convenient to maintain in the short run, but fatal over of the long term.

Obsession with Israel allows activists to ignore another reality about jihadism -- that numerically speaking, most of its victims are in fact, Muslim.

Shia Muslims have been the targets of suicide bombings perpetrated by Sunni extremists in Afghanistan, and where Sunnis are the minority, they are the victims of violence perpetrated by Shia Muslims.

In 2011, the National Counterterrorism Center issued a report that estimated that Muslims comprised "between 82 and 97 percent of terrorism-related casualties over the past five years," an assessment that makes perfect sense giving most of the terror attacks that have taken place in recent history were perpetrated in Muslim-majority countries.

Our so-called intellectuals seem to have been trained to turn a blind eye to the anti-Israel incitement, hostility and violence that has been a problem in the Middle East for decades. These so-called intellectuals were trained by a small number of Palestinian Christians living in the West Bank and elsewhere in the Middle East who told us the problem was not jihad, and not Muslim supremacism, rooted as they are in Islamic sources, but in the Jewish people, rooted as they are in the land of Israel.

As journalists, intellectuals, religious leaders and politicians were intimidated into remaining silent about the misdeeds of the jihadists, they were given an alternative target to attack, toward which to redirect their guilt and overcome their feelings of powerlessness. To prove how courageous they were and how serious they were about human rights, they libeled Israel.

This is a good way to sooth a guilty conscience, but as a strategy to protect our civilization and actually promote human rights, it simply does not work. In the globalized world that we live in, the problems that have afflicted the Middle East for so long -- the hostility toward Jews, lack of respect for human rights, hostility toward religious freedom and contempt for women -- are now making their way west through both immigration and the internet.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for example, recently reported a threefold increase in the number of women at risk for female genital mutilation (FGM) in the United States. One factor contributing to this problem is an increase in the number of immigrants from countries where FGM is practiced. To be sure, Muslim-majority countries do not have a monopoly on the practice of FGM, but Muslim religious belief and practice help maintain a critical mass of people who engage in this mutilation.

Mohammad did apparently declare it an honorable practice, and this statement has had real consequences. The increase of this practice in the United States is terrible news for human rights activists; sadly, some commentators will be reluctant to address the issue for fear of being accused of "Islamophobia."

In sum, Western efforts to formulate a response to jihadism have been hindered by the journalists, intellectuals and religious leaders on whom we counted to inform us about these problems in the Middle East. Instead of telling us the truth about Islamism and jihadism and its impact on life in the Middle East, Western journalists, human rights activists and religious leaders have encouraged us to view Israel as the problem, and not the other, truly antagonistic, model in the region.

Here is how I think Pastor Martin Niemöller would characterize the events of the past few years in the West:
First they attacked Israel, but I didn't live in Israel and everyone around me said Israel maybe deserved it, so I did not speak up.
Then they attacked Jews in Europe, but I was not a Jew, so I did not speak up.
Then they attacked Christians and Yazidis in Iraq and Syria, but I did not live in Iraq and Syria and I did not want to offend Muslims, so I did not speak up.
Then they assaulted our wives, sisters and daughters and me in Europe, but by then there was no one left to help us.
In this time of trial, during which the very foundations of our moral and intellectual order are under assault, it is time we find our voice to address this problem while we still can. We must speak up, loudly, and soon; if we do not, deliverance may not arise from another place.

Dexter Van Zile is Christian Media Analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.


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Credulous Journalists Help Islamists Thrive - Sam Westrop

by Sam Westrop

With Islamist radicalization and terror occupying headline news most days, it is astounding that so much of the media has failed to ask fundamental questions about American Islam

"An Islamic-run health clinic in Northeast Philly," writes journalist Michael Boren, "is stoking fear among people who don't understand Islam." On the face of it, Boren's exasperation appears warranted. But dig a little deeper and it appears that the proposed center is also stoking support from journalists who don't understand Islamism.

Boren's article, published at the Philadelphia Inquirer, reports that efforts by the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and its charitable arm, ICNA Relief, to establish a free health-care clinic have "evoked hate." Boren describes angry opposition from local residents, who express general anti-Muslim attitudes. Some even seem to believe that center is a front for terrorism.

One of the largest obstacles to reasoned discussion about both Islam and Islamism is the absolutism practiced by both sides. Whereas anti-Islam critics of the health-care center cite, without foundation, an immediate terrorist threat; journalists like Boren embrace the equally untrue polar opposite – that this clinic, and the groups behind it, must be the work of moderates.

ICNA is not a terrorist organization. But it does have a long history of promoting hate speech and working with extremists.

During the 1971 Liberation War, a violent South Asian Islamist group named Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) worked with Pakistani forces to murder hundreds of thousands of Bangladeshis seeking independence. After the war, and the successful creation of an independent Bangladesh, many JI operatives fled to the West, where many helped establish Islamist organizations styled as Muslim community groups. In America, one prominent JI war criminal, Ashrafuzzaman Khan, reportedly served as the ICNA's secretary-general.

Today, ICNA continues to identify itself openly as the key American outpost of JI. And in 2013 and 2016, JI's own website reported that ICNA protested the convictions and sentences handed down by a war crimes tribunal to senior JI leaders responsible involved in the genocide.

ICNA's charitable arm, ICNA Relief, is a donor to the Al-Khidmat Foundation, a Pakistani JI charity that, according to JI's own website, openly funds the Gaza-based terrorist group, Hamas. ICNA's other projects include WhyIslam, an Islamic educational website that features the work of Abul Ala Maududi, the founding ideologue of JI, as well as religious teachings by Khurram Murad, the late vice-President of JI in Pakistan.

ICNA's extremism, however, is not merely a matter of ideological links. In 1998, ICNA claimed, in the wake of the U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, that Bin Laden and the Taliban were being used by the U.S. government as "an easy escape goat [sic] to divert attention from Lewensky Gate or to cover intelligence failures in tracking the real culprits." Later, ICNA's website carried calls to support the "jihaad against the kuffaar [non-believers] in Kashmir, Afghanistan, Palestine, Bosnia etc." Other posts have included support for the Sudanese regime and claims that its campaign of genocide and mass-slavery are false Western propaganda.

More recently, ICNA has run events that feature some of the most extreme Islamist preachers from across the globe. At its most recent conferences, speakers included Suleiman Hani, who claims that "freedom of speech is a facade" used to stifle "objective discussion" of the "Holocaust and Jews"; Yasir Qadhi, whose violent homophobia was recently the subject of an investigative report by The Times; and Muhammad Ratib al-Nabulsi, a Syrian cleric who has written that "the wicked Jews are a collection of defects and imperfections, and a hotbed of vices and evils. They are the worst enemies of God. ... God has made it a duty to fight them and wage Jihad against them so that the word of God will be supreme."

Ahmed Taha, the official who has organized ICNA's recent conferences, is a strident anti-Semite. He has re-published text on social media that states, "O Muslim, O servant of God. There is a Jew behind me, come kill him." Taha has also circulated conspiracy theory claims that Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is a "Jew" and Egypt is now "Israeli-occupied territory."

ICNA's Philadelphia branch, the group behind the planned health-care center, is no better. In January 2017, it hosted a lecture by Abdul Nasir Jangda, who has advocated sex-slavery and argues that, "The thing to understand is that the husband has his set of divinely given rights one of which is the right to have his physical desires satisfied."

On May 20, ICNA Philadelphia organized an event featuring Mohammad Elshinawy, who has previously claimed that women who fail to wear the hijab will contract breast cancer. The very next day, it sponsored a talk by Mokhtar Maghraoui, who has defended the stoning of adulterers and the killing of criminals.

In his article, Michael Boren offers some questions and answers: "Will the clinic be open to anyone, or only Muslims? (Answer: Anyone.) Will doctors impose their religious beliefs on patients? (No.) Is this a front for extremism? (No.)"

Boren is correct about only the first two points. ICNA is evidently an extremist organization, albeit lawful extremism. The actual point of the clinic is to legitimize ICNA's claim to be moderate and to have the interests of ordinary American Muslims at heart.

Islamist groups such as ICNA have no ideological mandate from American Muslims, who are mostly unwilling to embrace a very specific strain of South Asian Islamism. So instead, ICNA buys support through the provision of welfare services. Among non-Muslims, building a health-care clinic sanitizes ICNA's reputation and persuades incurious journalists of Islamist legitimacy. Within the Muslim community, it forces dependency on Islamist leadership and undermines rival moderate Muslim groups who lack the resources to offer such services.

Except for a passing mention to the ADL's criticism of ICNA in 2010, in his apparent keenness not to be as 'Islamophobic' as his constituents, Michael Boren fails to investigate evidence of ICNA's extremism or the strenuous opposition to ICNA found among reformist Muslims.

With Islamist radicalization and terror occupying headline news most days, it is astounding that so much of the media has failed to ask fundamental questions about American Islam: who are the self-proclaimed leaders of American Islam? And what do they believe? By failing to identify and challenge the extremists within American Islam, the media is making it almost impossible, conversely, to identify and support the moderates.

It may seem ICNA is just setting up a health-care clinic. But that clinic is another important institution in an ever-growing Islamist network that, as we can see with ICNA, is teaching the next generation of Muslim youth to hate.

Sam Westrop is the director of Islamist Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum.


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The Amnesty & Open-Borders Pope - Discover The Networks

by Discover The Networks

Pope Francis's dangerous rejection of immigration standards.

Ever since he became the head of the Roman Catholic Church in March 2013, Pope Francis has been an outspoken advocate of open borders and amnesty for illegal aliens. Thus it was unsurprising that, when Donald Trump recently announced his plan to take a far weaker stance than he had previously pledged to take vis-√†-vis former President Obama's DACA executive order, Francis complained that even Trump's watered-down proposal was excessively harsh. DACA, you may recall, granted hundreds of thousands of young illegal aliens temporary legal status, work permits, access to certain publicly funded social services, and protection from deportation. Trump's latest plan is to wind down the program over the next six months, and thereby give Congress time “to legalize DACA” in the form of legislation that he can sign. “I am not going to just cut DACA off,” says Trump, “but rather provide a window of opportunity for Congress to finally act.” Trump's proposal also allows any DACA recipients whose permits are slated to expire before March 5, 2018, an opportunity to apply for a two-year renewal. But even this weak approach by Trump is too much for Pope Francis to accept, because, the pontiff explains, it will “remov[e] young people from their family.” Noting that Trump “presents himself as a pro-life man,” Francis adds: “If he is a good pro-lifer, he should understand that the family is the cradle of life and you must defend its unity.”

A look back at Pope Francis's track record shows just how consistently he has advocated a loosening of border protections not only in the United States, but throughout the Western world.

In July 2013, Francis urged an open-door policy for the many thousands of Muslim migrants from Tunisia and Libya who, fleeing the violence in their respective homelands, were boarding unstable, overcrowded boats and attempting to reach the island of Lampedusa—Italy's southernmost territory—across the Mediterranean Sea. He impugned Europeans for having “lost a sense of brotherly responsibility” to these “brothers and sisters of ours,” but said nothing about any negative ramifications that such a massive, sudden influx of unvettable foreigners might have on Italian society.

In July 2014, when scores of thousands of Central American minors were migrating illegally into the southern United States, Francis decried the situation as a “humanitarian emergency” which required, “as a first urgent measure,” that “these children be welcomed and protected”—at American taxpayer expense. Moreover, he characterized America's treatment of illegal immigrants generally as “racist and xenophobic.”

In January 2015, Francis told reporters that, as “a beautiful gesture of brotherhood and support for immigrants,” he hoped to someday ceremoniously “enter the United States from the border with Mexico.”

During a September 2015 visit to the United States, Francis referred to illegal aliens as “pilgrims,” and to “offer them the warmth of the love of Christ” because they “will enrich America and its Church.”

On January 17, 2016, Francis delivered a message for The World Day of Migrants and Refugees. He emphasized how important it was for Western nations to shed their own impulses toward “discrimination, racism, extreme nationalism or xenophobia,” and to welcome migrants and refugees from Islamic countries in the Middle East and North Africa. The cultural exchanges brought about by such migrations, he explained, had the potential to “transfor[m] the whole of humanity” in a positive way.

In February 2016, Francis visited Mexico and lamented the “humanitarian crisis” on America's southern border. Just prior to celebrating a Mass before a crowd of some 200,000 people along the banks of the Rio Grande, the pontiff faced a number of makeshift crosses that had been erected in memory of migrants who had died attempting to cross into the United States, and he prayed for those people. He then turned toward a group of several hundred illegal aliens standing across the river in El Paso, Texas, and issued his blessing to them. Later, when the pope was returning to Rome, reporters asked him to comment on then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, who had spoken forcefully about the need to deport illegals and to build a wall between the United States and Mexico. Francis replied: “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the gospel.”

During his Urbi et Orbi address from St. Peter’s Basilica on Easter Sunday 2016, Francis urged Christians to reach out to the unvettable refugees from Syria, Libya, and Yemen, and to fight the “blind and brutal violence” of terrorism with “weapons of love.”

On July 27, 2016, Francis urged the political leaders of Poland to “overcome fear” and to demonstrate “great wisdom and compassion” by welcoming the many Muslims who were fleeing conflict and hardship in places like Syria and North Africa. “All religions want peace, it's the others who want war.... Needed is a spirit of readiness to welcome those fleeing from wars and hunger, and solidarity with those deprived of their fundamental rights, including the right to profess one's faith in freedom and safety.”

In September 2016, Pope Francis said that authentic European hospitality to Middle Eastern and North African refugees could be “our greatest security against hateful acts of terrorism.” “I encourage you to welcome refugees into your homes and communities,” he added, “so that their first experience of Europe is not the traumatic experience of sleeping cold on the streets, but one of warm welcome.”

Pope Francis never misses an opportunity to preach compassion for Third World migrants whose backgrounds are completely shrouded in mystery, and who seek to flood Western nations with people whose cultures may be highly incompatible those of the West. Yet he says little, if anything, about the needs of the citizens of Western nations whose lives and well-being may be endangered by the very “compassion” which he advocates.

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