Saturday, October 28, 2017

Normalizing Anti-Semitism in Student Governments - Richard L. Cravatts

by Richard L. Cravatts

Purging Jewish students from the Israeli/Palestinian debate.

In the campus war against Israel, the all too familiar refrain from student anti-Israel activists, many of whom form the loose coalition of groups and individuals spearheading the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, is that their quarrel is only with Israel and its government’s policies, not with Jews themselves. But that specious defense continues to fall away, revealing some caustic and base anti-Semitism, representing a seismic shift in the way that Jews are now being indicted not just for supporting Israel, but merely for being Jewish.

At McGill University this week, as the latest example, three board members of the University’s Students’ Society were removed from their appointments after a vote at the Fall General Assembly due to what was reported to be their perceived “Jewish conflict of interest.” The ouster was led by a pro-BDS student group, Democratize McGill, which was campaigning against pro-Israel students in the wake of a September ruling by the Judicial Board that, once and for all, rejected the BDS movement on the McGill campus, stating that it was violative of the SSMU’s constitution because it “violate[d] the rights of [Israeli] students to represent themselves” and discriminated on the basis of national origin.

In retaliation, and to eliminate pro-Israel views on the board, Democratize McGill launched an effort to clear the board of BDS opponents, based on the cynical notion that these members harbored clear conflict of interests which arose from their purported biases, those conflicts of interests and biases stemming from the poisonous notion that because the students were Jewish or pro-Israel, or both, they could, therefore, never make informed or fair decisions as student leaders.

Ignoring their own obvious biases and the lack of any balance in their own views on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, the pro-BDS members nonetheless felt comfortable with suppressing pro-Israel voices and Jewish students on the board, asserting that they sought to remove these students because they “are all either fellows at the Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee (CJPAC), an organization whose explicit mandate is to promote pro-Israel discourse in Canadian politics, or primary organizers for the anti-BDS initiative at McGill.”  In other words, they were being disqualified for having views that differed from those student leaders seeking to purge them from SSMU. The Jewish board member and two other non-Jewish, pro-Israel board members were subsequently voted off the board.

McGill has a previous history of seeking to suppress pro-Israel thinking by Jewish students, not in the student government but in its press. An example of that was the 2016 controversy involving The McGill Daily and its astonishing editorial admission that it was the paper’s policy to not publish “pieces which promote a Zionist worldview, or any other ideology which we consider oppressive.”

“While we recognize that, for some, Zionism represents an important freedom project,” the editors wrote in a defense of their odious policy, “we also recognize that it functions as a settler-colonial ideology that perpetuates the displacement and the oppression of the Palestinian people.”

Leading up to this revealing editorial, a McGill student, Molly Harris, had filed a complaint with the Students’ Society of McGill University’s (SSMU) equity committee. In that complaint, Harris contended that, based on the paper’s obvious anti-Israel bias, and “a set of virulently anti-Semitic tweets from a McGill Daily writer,” a “culture of anti-Semitism” defined the Daily—a belief seemingly confirmed by the fact that several of the paper’s editors themselves are BDS supporters and none of the staffers were Jewish.

An attempted purging of a pro-Israel student from student government, very similar to the inquisition that just occurred at McGill, took place in February of 2015 at UCLA, when several councilmembers on the USAC Judicial Board, UCLA student government’s highest judicial body, grilled Rachel Beyda, then a second-year economics student, when she sought a seat on the board.

The focus on her candidacy was not her qualifications for the position (which no one seemed to doubt), but specifically the fact that she was Jewish and how her “affiliation with Jewish organizations at UCLA . . . might affect her ability to rule fairly on cases in which the Jewish community has a vested interest in the outcome, such as cases related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” as the student newspaper described it.

“Ruling fairly” in this case, of course, meant that she was likely not to support the increasingly virulent anti-Israel campaign on the UCLA campus, so she failed to pass the political litmus test that so-called progressive students, enthralled with their pursuit of social justice, see as their default position—namely, being pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel.

It was the same thinking that inspired a similarly discriminatory proposal the previous May by two members of UCLA’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) which attempted to bar Jewish candidates from filling council positions if they had taken trips to Israel subsidized by the Anti-Defamation League, American Jewish Committee, or other organizations, which, according to the sententious activists, “have openly campaigned against divestment from corporations that profit from Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights.”

Of course, there was no mention in this debate of trips paid for to send pro-Palestinian students to Israel or the territories on propaganda excursions designed to malign Israel and teach visitors an alternate, anti-Israel narrative. Once again, in addition to trying to stack the deck against the pro-Israel argument, this grotesque and inequitable proposal took as a given that anyone not committed to the Palestinian cause was by default not to be trusted, incapable of making unbiased decisions, morally compromised, and unjustified in even harboring pro-Israel opinions.

Another odious attempt to rid a campus of Jewish and pro-Israel voices took place in 2015 when student council leaders at Durban University of Technology (DUT) in South Africa floated a proposal that suggested, apparently without the slightest shame or moral self-awareness, that Jewish students should actually be expelled from the institution, that, as the student body’s secretary, Mqondisi Duma, put it, “We took the decision that Jewish students, especially those who do not support the Palestinian struggle, should deregister.” This is, one would think, a rather shocking sentiment from students who themselves benefited from a world-wide campaign in the 1970s and 1980s to end South Africa’s racist apartheid system.

The moral arrogance of the South African student’s proposal was breathtaking, not only because of its grotesque version of the anti-Semitic practice of making any and all Jews responsible for the political actions of Israel; more serious than that, it revealed that the pro-Palestinian movement is so enthralled with the righteousness of its cause that anyone who harbors or expresses other views is considered a pariah, unworthy to even express his or her ideas in the marketplace of ideas on campus.

Progressive students have decided, in their own moral self-righteousness, that the Palestinian campaign for self-determination is such a sacred cause that anyone who questions it or speaks for the Israeli point of view is a moral retrograde. To even support Israel is to risk being deemed a racist, an imperialist, a tacit supporter of apartheid. And more than that: now, if you are Jewish and even a student in South Africa—nowhere near or involved in the affairs of Palestinian Arabs and Israelis—if you have not publicly proclaimed your allegiance to the Palestinian cause and denounced the Israeli one, you can be deemed morally unworthy of serving as a student leader or even attending a particular university.

The student leaders who, in the context of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, now try to suppress all thought of which they disapprove have sacrificed one of the core values for which the university exists. In their zeal to be inclusive, and to recognize the needs and aspirations of victim groups, they pretend to foster inquiry but have actually stifled and retarded it.

And as this otherwise noble purpose for the university has devolved, the first victim in the dilution of academic free speech and debate, unfortunately, has been the truth.

Richard L. Cravatts, PhD, president emeritus of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, is the author of Dispatches From the Campus War Against Israel and Jews.


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Clinton and the Rosenbergs: Let's Dare Call It Treason - Daniel John Sobieski

by Daniel John Sobieski

That “cloud of treason” pales in comparison with the mushroom cloud of treason that hangs over the Clintons

To some, any comparison between the Clintons and the Rosenbergs is a bridge too far, yet both gave aid and comfort to a strategic enemy, Russia, aid that enhanced the capability of America’s enemies to wage nuclear war on the United States. The Rosenbergs trafficked in the design of nuclear weapons while the Clintons trafficked in the raw material for nuclear weapons -- uranium. It is a distinction without a difference not lost on former deputy assistant to President Trump, Sebastian Gorka:
Gorka spoke during an interview with Fox commentator Sean Hannity on his show Hannity. The two discussed Secretary of State Clinton’s involvement in the 2009 U.S. decision to allow the sale of Uranium One, a Canadian mining firm with licenses to mine American uranium deposits in Kazakhstan.
“If this had happened in the 1950s there would be people up on treason charges right now,” Gorka told Hannity of the decision to allow the sale of Uranium One…
“This is equivalent to what the Rosenbergs did and those people got the chair,” Gorka said. “Think about it. Giving away nuclear capabilities to our enemies. That’s what we’re talking about.”
Gorka was referring to Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were executed by electric chair in June 1953 after they were accused of giving top-secret nuclear weapon designs to the Soviet Union.
Indeed, let’s think about it. Just where did the uranium processed by Uranium One end up? Nuclear regulatory officials assured at least one senator, John Barrasso of Wyoming, that no uranium owned by Uranium One would leave the country with proper export license. Yet that is not what happened:
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission wrote to Mr. Barrasso assuring him that American uranium would be preserved for domestic use, regardless of who owned it.
“In order to export uranium from the United States, Uranium One Inc. or ARMZ would need to apply for and obtain a specific NRC license authorizing the export of uranium for use as reactor fuel,” the letter said…
In Wyoming, where Uranium One equipment is scattered across his 35,000-acre ranch, John Christensen is frustrated that repeated changes in corporate ownership over the years led to French, South African, Canadian and, finally, Russian control over mining rights on his property.
“I hate to see a foreign government own mining rights here in the United States,” he said. “I don’t think that should happen.”
Mr. Christensen, 65, noted that despite assurances by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that uranium could not leave the country without Uranium One or ARMZ obtaining an export license -- which they do not have -- yellowcake from his property was routinely packed into drums and trucked off to a processing plant in Canada.
Asked about that, the commission confirmed that Uranium One has, in fact, shipped yellowcake to Canada even though it does not have an export license. Instead, the transport company doing the shipping, RSB Logistic Services, has the license. A commission spokesman said that “to the best of our knowledge” most of the uranium sent to Canada for processing was returned for use in the United States. A Uranium One spokeswoman, Donna Wichers, said 25 percent had gone to Western Europe and Japan. At the moment, with the uranium market in a downturn, nothing is being shipped from the Wyoming mines.
We in fact may have no idea how much yellowcake was exported illegally to foreign buyers and who these buyers were. They could have been representatives of rogue regimes like North Korea and Iran. Neither they nor Russia is very much interested these days in the peaceful uses of nuclear power. They are interested in building nuclear bombs and putting them on missiles pointed at the United States.
Is this treason like that committed by the Rosenbergs? If it is not, then just what would be? Certainly Democrats have a very low threshold for treason when it comes to the Trump administration:
Hillary Clinton's former running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine, said Donald Trump Jr. may have committed treason when he agreed to meet with a Russian lawyer under the pretense of getting dirt on Clinton.
"That, the investigation -- it, it's not -- nothing is proven yet. But, we're now beyond obstruction of justice in terms of what's being investigated," the Virginia Democrat told CNN Tuesday. "This is moving into perjury, false statements and even potentially treason.
Liberals have been using “treason” in sentences with “Trump” as if the two were synonyms, despite there being no evidence whatsoever proving the Trump administration colluded with Russia on anything obstructed investigations into this nonevent:
On Monday, Hillary Clinton’s former campaign manager, Robby Mook, demanded Trump’s campaign aides be “prosecuted for treason” if evidence emerges of coordination with Moscow during the recent presidential campaign.
One day later, on Tuesday, Michael Winship, senior writer for, wrote an opinion piece titled, “‘There’s a Smell of Treason in the Air’” Winship is a former senior writing fellow at the progressive advocacy group Demos, which is financed by billionaire George Soros…
The title of Winship’s article, meanwhile, comes from a quote in the Washington Post last week provided by presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, who told the newspaper, “There’s a smell of treason in the air. Imagine if J. Edgar Hoover or any other FBI director would have testified against a sitting president? It would have been a mindboggling event.”
On cue, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) warned Friday of a “cloud of treason” hanging over the Trump administration. “The bombshell revelation that US officials have information that suggests Trump associates may have colluded with the Russians means we must pause the entire Trump agenda,” he said.
That “cloud of treason” pales in comparison with the mushroom cloud of treason that hangs over the Clintons who, like the Rosenbergs, arguably enhanced the ability of our enemies to produce nuclear weapons to be used against the United States. In this, they are no different than the Rosenbergs.

None dare call it treason? Maybe we should.

Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.


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Militias vs. Palestinian "Reconciliation" - Khaled Abu Toameh

by Khaled Abu Toameh

The notion that Hamas would ever dismantle its security apparatus and deliver the Gaza Strip to Mahmoud Abbas's forces is a fantasy.

  • The notion that Hamas would ever dismantle its security apparatus and deliver the Gaza Strip to Mahmoud Abbas's forces is a fantasy.
  • It is estimated that there are about 50 different militias operating in the Gaza Strip. These militias are said to be in possession of about a million pieces of weaponry.
  • If Hamas refuses to disarm, that is one thing, but when Abbas's supposed loyalists also come out with similar statements, that this is akin to spitting in the face of the Palestinian Authority president.
Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas says he does not want to see "militias" in the Gaza Strip if and when the "reconciliation" agreement he reached with Hamas is implemented. "The Palestinian leadership will not accept the model of militias in the Gaza Strip because it isn't a successful one," Abbas told the Chinese news agency Xinhua. "There should be one authority, one law and one weapon, with no militias."

Hamas, for its part, has already rejected Abbas's demand. Hamas has said it has no intention of disarming despite the "reconciliation" agreement recently signed in Cairo. "We can't give up our weapons and because the Palestinian people are still in the phase of national liberation," said Yehya Sinwar, the Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip. "We also can't and won't recognize Israel."

Hamas's refusal to disarm should come as no surprise. Since Hamas violently seized control of the Gaza Strip ten years ago, it has built a huge security apparatus that consists of thousands of militiamen, most of them members of Ezaddin Al-Qassam, the movement's military wing. Hamas has also smuggled large amounts of weapons into the Gaza Strip and dug dozens of tunnels along the borders with Israel and Egypt.

The notion that Hamas would ever dismantle its security apparatus and deliver the Gaza Strip to Mahmoud Abbas's forces is a fantasy. Hamas has no problem allowing Abbas loyalists to return to the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, as was the situation before 2007, when Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip. But this is the most Hamas would be willing to sacrifice to support the success of the "reconciliation" accord with Abbas and his Fatah faction.

Masked gunmen from a Fatah militia are pictured on January 30, 2007 in Jabalia, in the northern Gaza Strip, during a period of armed clashes between Fatah and Hamas. Later that year, Hamas expelled Fatah and seized complete control of the Gaza Strip. (Photo by Abid Katib/Getty Images)
This is a price Hamas is prepared to pay, not out of affection for Abbas but because it serves its own interest. The reopening of the Rafah terminal will allow Hamas to breath after years of isolation and blockade. A few hundred Abbas loyalists who manage the Rafah border crossing do not pose a threat to Hamas's rule over the Gaza Strip.

Above all, Hamas seeks to prevent a return to the pre-2007 era, when the Palestinian Authority had exclusive control over the Gaza Strip. Until that year, the PA had multiple security forces that maintained a tight grip on the Gaza Strip and employed an "iron fist" policy against Hamas and other opposition groups.

The statements of Hamas leaders in the past few days show that they are seeking to duplicate the model Hezbollah uses in Lebanon. Hamas wants to remain in charge of security matters in the Gaza Strip while restricting the Palestinian Authority's responsibilities to civilian affairs. Hamas's refusal to disarm and hand over security responsibilities to Abbas could torpedo the Egyptian-sponsored "reconciliation" agreement -- especially in light of the PA's rejection of copying the Hezbollah model in the Gaza Strip.

While Abbas is talking about the need for Hamas to disarm and dismantle its militia, however, some Palestinians are wondering what would be the fate of armed groups in the Gaza Strip that are affiliated with Fatah if the "reconciliation" agreement is implemented.

Hamas is far from the only party with a militia in the Gaza Strip. Almost all of the other Palestinian factions, including Islamic Jihad, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), have their own militias there -- in addition to a number of ISIS-inspired militias that have also appeared in the Gaza Strip in the past few years.

It is estimated that there are about 50 different militias operating in the Gaza Strip. These militias are said to be in possession of about a million pieces of weaponry.

Abbas's real test will be the day he is forced to face the unruly Fatah-affiliated armed groups in the Gaza Strip. Abbas has good reason to be worried about the Hamas, Islamic Jihad, PFLP and DFLP militias. None of these groups will ever voluntarily lay down its weapons or dismantle its militias just because the Egyptians or Abbas want it to. Abbas, moreover, also needs to worry about the Fatah-affiliated groups: they also are unlikely to comply with his wish to see no militias in the Gaza Strip.

Fatah has in the Gaza Strip several armed groups not known for their blind loyalty to Abbas. Some of these disgruntled armed groups, in fact, often sound more like Hamas and Islamic Jihad than Fatah.

Fatah has quite a number of militias in the Gaza Strip: Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Ahmed Abu Rish Brigades, Abdel Qader Al-Husseini Brigades, Martyr Ayman Judeh Groups and Nidal Al-Amoudi Brigades.

Although they are affiliated with Abbas's Fatah, these armed groups continue to talk about an "armed struggle" against Israel and their desire to "liberate Palestine, from the [Mediterranean] sea to the [Jordan] river." The unruly Fatah-affiliated groups have a history of angering and embarrassing Abbas and the Fatah leadership in the West Bank. The groups often issue statements applauding terror attacks against Israel, such as the recent shooting at Har Adar, near Jerusalem, in which three Israelis were murdered.

For the past few years, the Fatah leadership in the West Bank has sought to distance itself from the actions and rhetoric of those Fatah armed groups in the Gaza Strip. That effort reflects the desire of the Fatah leadership in the West Bank to present itself to the international community (and Israel) as a "moderate" party that opposes violence and seeks a peaceful solution with Israel.

Even more worrying for Abbas is that in addition to Hamas, the Fatah armed groups in the Gaza Strip are refusing to disarm as a result of the "reconciliation" agreement.

Now, not only does Abbas have to worry about Hamas and Islamic Jihad; he has his own Fatah gunmen saying that they too will not disarm. This headache for Abbas poses yet another obstacle to the implementation of the "reconciliation" agreement.

As Abu Mohammed, a spokesman for the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in the Gaza Strip, said recently: "We won't give up our weapons until all Palestine has been liberated." His statement echoes the position of Hamas and all the other armed groups. If Hamas refuses to disarm, that is one thing, but when Abbas's supposed loyalists also come out with similar statements, that is akin to spitting in the face of the Palestinian Authority president.

The "reconciliation" agreement has yet to be implemented on the ground, yet the issue of the militias in the Gaza Strip is already emerging as a major obstacle and a severe blow to Abbas. He will now have to decide: either to proceed with the "reconciliation" agreement and accept playing the role of president of a Gaza Strip filled with armed groups and militias -- most of which are no friend of his, or to backtrack and realize that his wish to have one law, one police force and one authority in the Gaza Strip is nothing more than a pipe-dream.

Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist, is based in Jerusalem.


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Facebook, Social Media, Aiding Jihad; Censoring Those Who Counter Jihad - Benjamin Weingarten

by Benjamin Weingarten

Major technology companies are openly stifling the free speech of people trying to counter jihad -- while simultaneously enabling Islamic supremacists to spread the very content that the counter-jihadists have been exposing.

  • That major technology companies are openly stifling the free speech of people trying to counter jihad is bad enough; what is beyond unconscionable is that they simultaneously enable Islamic supremacists to spread the very content that the counter-jihadists have been exposing.
  • According to the legal complaint, the names and symbols of Palestinian Arab terrorist groups and individuals were known to authorities, and "Facebook has the data and capability to cease providing services to [such] terrorists, but... has chosen not to do so."
  • A separate lawsuit claims that Twitter not only benefits indirectly by seeing its user base swell through the increase of ISIS-linked accounts, but directly profits by placing targeted advertisements on them.
  • When jihadist content is permitted to spread unchecked across the globe via cyberspace, it is a matter of national and international security. Tragically for Western civilization, its tech and media icons have been colluding -- even if unwittingly -- with those working actively to destroy it.
For the past few years, large social media and other online companies have been seeking to restrict or even criminalize content that could be construed as critical of Islam or Muslims, including when the material simply exposes the words and actions of radical Islamists.

The recent attempt by the digital payment platform, PayPal, to forbid two conservative organizations -- Jihad Watch and the American Freedom Defense Initiative -- from continuing to use the service to receive donations, is a perfect case in point. Although PayPal reversed the ban, its initial move was part of an ongoing war against the free speech of counter-jihadists -- those working to expose the ideology, goals, tactics and strategies of Islamic supremacists, and who are trying to defeat or at least to deter the Islamic supremacist global agenda.

Examples of this kind of censorship abound. In October 2016, for instance, conservative radio host and author Dennis Prager's "PragerU" -- which produces five-minute clips presented by leading experts in the fields of economics, politics, national security and culture -- announced that more than a dozen of its videos were facing restricted access on YouTube, a subsidiary of Google. In theory, this meant that users who employed the filter for sexually explicit or violent content would be blocked from it.

Among these restricted videos however, were six relating to Islam: "What ISIS Wants," presented by Tom Joscelyn, Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies; "Why Don't Feminists Fight for Muslim Women?" presented by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institute and Harvard's Belfer Center; "Islamic Terror: What Muslim Americans Can Do," presented by Khurram Dara, a Muslim American activist, author and attorney; "Pakistan: Can Sharia and Freedom Coexist?" and "Why Do People Become Islamic Extremists?" presented by Haroon Ullah, a foreign policy professor at Georgetown University; and "Radical Islam: The Most Dangerous Ideology," presented by Raymond Ibrahim, author of The Al Qaeda Reader.

PragerU is now pursuing legal action against Google/YouTube, having just filed a potentially major precedent-setting suit against the internet giant in U.S. District Court in California on grounds that Google/YouTube is allegedly discriminating against and censoring PragerU's videos based on the entity's conservative political identity and viewpoint.

PragerU is not alone in having its content -- presented by reputable thinkers -- treated by social media companies as comparable to pornography, or similarly inappropriate or offensive material. For instance:
  • In January 2015, a mere two weeks after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg penned a #JeSuisCharlie statement in defense of free speech -- in the wake of the Islamist terrorist attack on the Paris-based satirical journal Charlie Hebdo -- Facebook censored images of the prophet Muhammad in Turkey.
  • In January 2016, the Facebook page "Justin Trudeau Not," which contained content critical of the Canadian prime minister's views on Islamic supremacism, was deleted by Facebook as a "violation of community standards." The offense? The page's authors "contrasted Trudeau's immediate condemnation of a pepper spray attack against Muslims in Vancouver with his complete refusal to address a firearm attack by Muslims in Calgary."
  • In May 2016, the administrator of a pro-Trump Facebook group was banned from Facebook for posting: "Donald Trump is not anti-Muslim. He is anti ISIS. What Trump is trying to say is that Homeland Security cannot differentiate which Muslim is [a] radical wanting to cause harm and which is a harmless refugee. Who is willing to sacrifice their family's safety for the sake of political correctness? Are you?"
  • In June 2016, YouTube removed a video -- "Killing for a Cause: Sharia Law & Civilization Jihad" -- elucidating the aim of Islamic supremacists to subvert the West from within.
  • Also in June 2016, Facebook suspended the account of Swedish writer Ingrid Carlqvist for posting a video, produced by Gatestone Institute, on "Sweden's Migrant Rape Epidemic." After Gatestone readers responded critically to the censorship, the Swedish media started reporting on the case, and Facebook reinstated the video, without any explanation or apology.
  • In May 2017, Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of Britain First, a party "committed to the maintenance of British national sovereignty, independence and freedom," was banned from Facebook for 30 days for "repeatedly posting things that aren't allowed on Facebook." The post that reportedly triggered the temporary ban was a meme quoting the passage from the Koran: "O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends...Allah does not guide the evildoers."
  • Also in May 2017, Facebook blocked and then shut down the pages of two popular moderate Muslim groups -- managed and followed by Arabs across the world who reject not only violence and terrorism, but Islam as a religion -- on the grounds that their content was "in violation of community standards."
  • In August 2017, a YouTube channel containing a playlist of videos featuring best-selling author and scholar Robert Spencer, the director of Jihad Watch, was removed for a supposed violation of the platform's "Community Guidelines."
  • Later in August 2017, the Independent reported that Instagram, Twitter and YouTube allegedly had been cooperating with the Iranian regime to block or censor "immoral" content.
In the past year, social media companies have been editing their user guidelines to broaden the scope of the type of content that may be flagged for removal. These necessarily end up targeting content and users that counter the use of jihad, or war in the service of Islam. Examples of this procedure include the following:
  • In September 2016, YouTube released new "Advertiser-friendly content guidelines," according to which: "Video content that features or focuses on sensitive topics or events including, but not limited to, war, political conflicts, terrorism or extremism, death and tragedies, sexual abuse, even if graphic imagery is not shown, is generally not eligible for ads. For example, videos about recent tragedies, even if presented for news or documentary purposes, may not be eligible for advertising given the subject matter." It is easy to see how such rules could be used against people trying to counter jihad.
  • In March 2017, Google revealed that it was seeking to improve its search function by having its 10,000 "quality raters" flag "upsetting-offensive" content. The data generating the quality ratings will then be incorporated into Google's algorithms for monitoring and forbidding content. Two months later, Google updated the guidelines for "non-English-language web pages." One example cited by Google as "upsetting-offensive" is a post titled "Proof that Islam is Evil, Violent, and Intolerant – Straight from the Koran..." In contrast, Google calls a PBS Teachers Guide on Islam a "high-quality article...with an accurate summary of the major beliefs and practices of Islam."
  • In August 2017, YouTube posted "An update on our commitment to fight terror content online," which is sure to put counter-jihadist content in its crosshairs:
    "...[W]e have begun working with more than 15 additional expert NGOs and institutions through our Trusted Flagger program, including the Anti-Defamation League, the No Hate Speech Movement, and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue. These organizations bring expert knowledge of complex issues like hate speech, radicalization, and terrorism that will help us better identify content that is being used to radicalize and recruit extremists. We will also regularly consult these experts as we update our policies to reflect new trends. And we'll continue to add more organizations to our network of advisors over time...We'll soon be applying tougher treatment to videos that aren't illegal but have been flagged by users as potential violations of our policies on hate speech and violent extremism. If we find that these videos don't violate our policies, but contain controversial religious or supremacist content, they will have some features removed. The videos will remain on YouTube behind an interstitial, won't be recommended, won't be monetized, and won't have key features including comments, suggested videos, and likes."
It bears noting here that one group cited above -- the ADL –previously negatively flagged and profiled various counter-jihadist individuals and organizations. This is in keeping with the political slant of its new president, Jonathan Greenblatt, who has taken the organization in a decidedly left-leaning direction.

That major technology companies are openly stifling the free speech of people trying to counter jihad is bad enough; what is beyond unconscionable is that they simultaneously enable Islamic supremacists to spread the very content that the counter-jihadists have been exposing. It is a practice that the Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center is actively engaged in battling through litigation. The following four lawsuits against key platforms shed light on the way in which incitement to terrorism is able to flourish unfettered on the Internet, while those trying to combat it are targeted for "hate speech."

  • Lakin v. Facebook: The lawsuit, representing 20,000 Israeli plaintiffs, was brought to stop Facebook from "continuing to facilitate terrorist activity directed at" those plaintiffs. The plaintiffs attributed the surge in Palestinian terrorism that began on October 1, 2015 -- during which "more than 200 stabbings, more than 80 shootings, and more than 40 attacks using vehicles" were perpetrated against Israelis – in part to a "campaign driven by Palestinian terrorists using Facebook to incite, enlist, organize, and dispatch would-be killers to 'stab' and 'slaughter Jews.'" According to the complaint, the names and symbols of Palestinian Arab terrorist groups and individuals were known to authorities, and "Facebook has the data and capability to cease providing services to [such] terrorists, but...has chosen not to do so."
  • Force v. Facebook: The lawsuit, representing five American victims of Hamas terrorist attacks and their families, sought monetary damages against Facebook under the U.S. Antiterrorism Act (ATA) for providing material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization. The suit alleged that known members of Hamas, including "leaders, spokesmen, and members," had "openly maintained and used official Facebook accounts to "communicate, recruit members, plan and carry out attacks, and strike fear in its enemies," as well as to "issue terroristic threats, attract attention to its terror attacks, instill and intensify fear from terror attacks, intimidate and coerce civilian populations, take credit for terror attacks, communicate its desired messages about the terror attacks, reach its desired audiences, demand and attempt to obtain results from the terror attacks, and influence and affect government policies and conduct." In spite of these activities, the suit claims, Facebook has knowingly allowed Hamas and related individuals and entities to use its platform, while determining in several instances that the group's Facebook pages did not violate company policies, or by deleting only certain content, yet allowing the pages to remain active.
  • Cain v. Twitter: The case, filed in federal court on behalf of two victims/families of the Islamic State (ISIS) terror attacks in Paris in November 2015 and in Brussels in March 2016, sought damages under the ATA by alleging that Twitter has provided material support for ISIS. The suit alleges that Twitter has been used by ISIS in the way that Facebook has been used by Hamas, among other things to: recruit, connect and communicate with members; plan and carry out attacks; inflate its image through the use of twitter bots and hashtags; and distribute videos, images and magazines that contain violent messages intended to incite, while making ISIS appear more legitimate. The suit claims that Twitter has facilitated such uses by providing resources and services to the Islamic State and its affiliates – many of whom openly maintained accounts – while refusing to identify Islamic State Twitter accounts, and only reviewing them when reported by Twitter users or third parties.
    The plaintiffs further argued that Twitter had protected ISIS by: notifying users if it suspects government surveillance of Twitter accounts; suing the U.S. Department of Justice to defy orders requiring Twitter to keep details of investigative subpoenas secret, even if disclosure might harm national security; barring U.S. intelligence agencies from purchasing Twitter's Dataminr analytics tool, which could be used to identify terrorist activities and threats; and using its anti-harassment policies to ban Twitter accounts of users reporting Islamic State accounts to Twitter.
    Last but not least, the lawsuit claims that Twitter not only benefits indirectly by seeing its user base swell through the increase of ISIS-linked accounts, but directly profits by placing targeted advertisements on them. One example cited: "[O]n May 17, 2016, Twitter placed an advertisement for a digital marketing company, OneNorth Interactive, on the Twitter account of "DJ Nasheed" (@djnasheedis), an ISIS Twitter account used to post jihadi music videos produced by ISIS's al-Hayat Media."
  • Gonzalez v. Google: The case, filed in federal court on behalf of the family of a young American woman murdered in the November 2015 ISIS terror attacks in Paris, seeks damages under the ATA, based on Google's provision of YouTube access to ISIS. The suit alleges that ISIS has used YouTube to distribute violent videos, images and recordings to instill terror and bolster its image as all-powerful. It claims that YouTube facilitated these activities by refusing to identify ISIS-linked accounts known to Google -- reviewing only those accounts reported by other YouTube users.
Regardless of the legal merits of these cases, it is clear that jihadists reap significant benefits from social-media platforms, and that there are, at best, serious lapses in the platforms' policing of jihadist accounts. At worst, there is "willful blindness" in relation to jihadist material, and the application of a double-standard to posts that counter jihad. A Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) report from June 2017 reveals the extent to which jihadist content that is flagged by YouTube users is left alone, in spite of assurances that such material would be removed. In fact, of the 115 videos that MEMRI flagged on YouTube in 2015, 69 remained active as of February 27, 2017. Many are still online to this day. Some are so gruesome that the MEMRI report includes a warning to readers about "graphic images."

This is not merely a free-speech issue. On the contrary, there is evidence to suggest a direct correlation between jihadist incitement and terrorism. After the London Bridge attack in June 2017, for example, it emerged that one of the perpetrators had been inspired by videos posted online from a Michigan-based imam named Ahmad Musa Jibril. The International Centre for the Study of Radicalization found that many of Jibril's followers had joined al-Qaeda or ISIS. As early as 2005, federal prosecutors described Jibril as someone who "encouraged his students to spread Islam by the sword, to wage a holy war," and "to hate and kill non-Muslims." In spite of Jibril's background, his YouTube channel is still accessible. When asked by Conservative Review's Jordan Schachtel to comment on this, a Google spokesman did not indicate that Jibril had violated YouTube's content guidelines. A Facebook fan page and Twitter accounts dedicated to Jibril's sermons also remain online today.

A related manifestation of bias against counter-jihadist material in favor of jihadist posts on Internet platforms is additionally reflected in the promotion of the Palestinian Arab cause and simultaneous discrimination against Israel. Among other examples of this disparate treatment:
  • In June 2008, Google Earth was revealed to have exhibited "replacement geography," presenting Israel "as a state born out of colonial conquest rather than the return of a people from exile." Months after the report was released, "Google, Inc. [removed] a series of anti-Israel depictions from its program."
  • In December 2008, YouTube temporarily removed Israeli video clips of retaliatory IDF strikes against Islamic terrorists who had been launching rockets into Israeli cities from Gaza. The website subsequently restored the clips, which had been removed when Hamas-supporters complained that they were offensive.
  • In January 2013, then-Jerusalem Post reporter and current Gatestone Institute distinguished senior fellow Khaled Abu Toameh had his Facebook account suspended "for security reasons," after writing about corruption in the Palestinian Authority. Although his account was reinstated the following day, the two posts over which it had been barred were deleted without explanation. Toameh responded: "It's still a matter of censorship...Now we have to be careful about what we post and what we share. Does this mean we can't criticize Arab governments anymore?"
  • In May 2013, Google changed the title of its "Google - Palestinian Territories" page, to "Google - Palestine," after the United Nations decision to make "Palestine" a nonmember observer state.
  • In September 2013, Apple released its new operating system, with a "world clock" feature that lists Jerusalem without a country.
  • In March 2015, Google News filed a USA Today story titled "Palestinians: Time for US to reassess Israel relations" at the top of the page, under the seemingly unrelated "Business" section, while linking to a series of negative stories about Israel directly beneath it.
  • In December 2016, Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center conducted an experiment on Facebook to see if the social media giant treated Palestinian Arabs and Israelis differently. It created two pages -- "Stop Palestinians" and "Stop Israelis" -- and posted several parallel derogatory and/or violent content on each. It then sent simultaneous messages to Facebook flagging the pages as being in violation of Facebook's rules. Within a day, the anti-Palestinian Arab page was shut down. Following an outcry from social media users and coverage in the Hebrew press, Facebook finally removed the "Stop Israelis" page -- six days later.
A July 2017 piece in Tablet Magazine sheds light on the way in which algorithms can be and are used to perpetuate pro-Islamic and anti-Israel or anti-Semitic narratives. Writing about Google's new "Perspective API" (Application Program Interface), which employs "advanced machine learning to help moderators track down comments that are likely to be 'toxic,'" Liel Leibovitz recounts:
"I asked Perspective to rate the following sentiment: 'Jews control the banks and the media.' This old chestnut, Perspective reported, had a 10 percent chance of being perceived as toxic...I tried again, this time with another group of people, typing 'Many terrorists are radical Islamists.' The comment, Perspective informed me, was 92 percent likely to be seen as toxic."
The same, he said, applied to straight news, as in the statement of fact: "Three Israelis were murdered last night by a knife-wielding Palestinian terrorist who yelled 'Allah hu Akbar.'" That, Leibovitz wrote, was also "92 percent likely to be seen as toxic."

The reason for this, he explained, is that
"machines learn from what they read, and when what they read are the Guardian and the Times, they're going to inherit the inherent biases of these publications as well. Like most people who read the Paper of Record [The New York Times], the machine, too, has come to believe that statements about Jews being slaughtered are controversial, that addressing radical Islamism is verboten, and that casual anti-Semitism is utterly forgivable... No words are toxic, but the idea that we now have an algorithm replicating, amplifying, and automatizing the bigotry of the anti-Jewish left may very well be."
Private technology companies are within their rights to make all manner of decisions as to how they operate and whom they allow to make use of their services. In a free-market system, it is the consumers -- and competitors -- who ostensibly have the power to affect the popularity of a product. It is for this very reason that detrimental activity must be exposed -- so user and market pressure forces such pivotal firms to reform. Yet one cannot deny the global reach and scope of Facebook, Google and the other Internet giants, which make it extremely difficult for dissatisfied customers to find or create an alternative. The fact is that in today's world, individuals and businesses barely are seen to exist without having a presence on these platforms. If such platforms wish, they can cripple those who dissent from their ideological orthodoxy.

This is problematic not only for political conservatives and counter-jihadists who are treated negatively by the major media firms. It is also worrisome from the point of view of freedom of expression. When jihadist content is permitted to spread unchecked across the globe via cyberspace, it is a matter of national and international security. Tragically for Western civilization, its tech and media icons have been colluding – even if unwittingly – with those working actively to destroy it.

Benjamin Weingarten is a writer, podcaster, and media consultant.


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Qatar's Increased Ties to Iran Threaten U.S. Security - Shahab Moghadam

by Shahab Moghadam

Does the U.S. need another Pakistan in the Persian Gulf?

Friday the 13th is not typically considered an unlucky day in Iran. However, this year proved different. This year, President Trump used the inauspicious date to deliver a landmark speech lambasting Iran for its state-sponsorship of terrorism, human rights abuses, and various violations of the nuclear deal. In his speech, Trump laid forth a vision for a clear-eyed and sensible U.S. policy toward Iran that does not accept, and instead counters, its nefarious actions across the region as well as its support for terrorist groups worldwide.

The opposition from certain European countries willing to overlook Iran’s bad behavior to obtain commercial benefits has been predictable. However, the bulk of the response to the President’s speech, including from stalwart US ally Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, has been positive. Israel and many of America's Arab allies have long believed Tehran is a force for spreading chaos in the Middle East. But one nation has remained remarkably silent in the aftermath of the Iran speech, having played a double game on the Iran issue for several months without facing accountability or consequences: Qatar.

Qatar has been double-dealing in the Middle East for decades, paying lip service to Gulf Arab unity while simultaneously working to destabilize its neighbors. The world's largest exporter of natural gas, Qatar has used part of its wealth to finance extremist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood. Domestically, Qatar depends upon its poorly-treated and poorly-paid migrant labor force to sustain its development. In the process, the country often violates the human rights of those migrants.

Doha likes to think of itself as the 21st-century version of Rick’s Café from the classic 1942 film Casablanca. However, in the Qatari version, it is Islamists, not freedom fighters, who keep a low-profile in this safe haven.

Only in Doha can one see Muslim Brotherhood leaders from Egypt rubbing shoulders with Taliban leaders from Afghanistan and Hamas leaders from Gaza, for all of these groups have received support and hospitality from the Emir. Relaxing in their hotel rooms, members of these groups can turn their televisions to Al Jazeera. The state-run TV network has used its large budget to broadcast speeches from terrorists such as Osama bin Laden at the height of his terrorist campaign. As if this motley crew of global extremists were not prevalent enough in Qatar, the country is now poised to play home to a large Iranian presence.

The Qatari government argues that they are simply providing a venue for political dialogue by allowing radical groups to maintain homes and offices in their country. However, that does not explain their funding for such groups and their usage of their state media to broadcast sympathetic coverage.

Doha is also home to the Al-Udeid Air Base, where the US military maintains a large presence for its operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan. These American troops might feel increasingly out of place as the Qataris double down on their hospitality for their new Iranian friends. At the same time, more reliable partners of Washington such as the UAE have expressed willingness to host a relocated US military presence in a more appropriate environment, where Iran and other unsavory actors would not be the base’s neighbors.

The issue of Al-Udeid Airbase emerged again on Monday at a Washington, D.C. think-tank event attended by senior members of the Trump Administration. The event hosted by the Hudson Institute also attracted Leon Panetta, suggesting bipartisan concern over Qatar's activities.

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon stated at that event that he felt the Qatar crisis was more important than the situation on the Korean peninsula.

“I don’t think it was just by happenstance that two weeks after the summit that we saw the blockade by the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain and Egypt and the king of Saudi Arabia on Qatar,” he continued. He further solidified the idea that the United States has had its fill with the emirate’s misbehavior.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, the UAE or the “Anti-Terror Quartet,” as they call themselves, put an embargo on Qatar shortly after President Trump's delegation left the region. The president came out in support of this move in a tweet.

This summer, Doha's abrupt shift toward closer economic and political ties with Iran proved Trump correct. Despite this open and major shift in Qatari foreign policy, Doha has avoided scrutiny on its budding relationship with the regime in Tehran, instead of continuing to receive the benefits of playing host to the Al-Udeid air base, where the US military maintains a large presence for its operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Indeed, the Tehran-Doha relationship has received a comparatively small amount of attention compared to Qatar’s ties to, say, the Muslim Brotherhood.

This alliance between the radical regime in Tehran and the isolated and malevolent Qatari government poses a serious risk to US interests across the Middle East. These two well-financed and ideologically-driven actors are already beginning to cooperate and align their policies from Libya to Syria and Bahrain to Gaza, thereby threatening the security interest of the US and its allies such as Israel and Saudi Arabia.

The United States doesn’t need another Pakistan in the Persian Gulf; it needs reliable allies. In an area where US allies are plentiful, the location of a large American contingent in a nation that has made clear its hostility toward Washington and its allies over the course of several decades lacks sense. The Trump administration would be well-advised to relocate the US military assets at the Al-Udeid airbase to a genuine ally in the region if Qatar does not leave the Iranian orbit.

Shahab Moghadam has worked on political campaigns on both coasts and is a professional writer in Washington D.C.  He has traveled in and written extensively on the Middle East.


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Chinese Colonialism is Growing Fast in America - Lloyd Billingsley

by Lloyd Billingsley

Farming weed, cultivating academics, and conning California.

The legalization of marijuana for medicinal or recreational use, has not, as some politicians proclaimed, eliminated the black market for cannabis. Illicit weed grows are common in California, often manned by U.S. citizens or Mexican nationals in the country illegally. Like Sollozzo in The Godfather, the Chinese are now moving in on the market.

As the Sacramento Bee reports, in recent police raids, “the occupants of these grow houses have turned out to be Chinese nationals, raising questions about who is recruiting them and financing their operations.” In four California counties, police made “multiple arrests of people with Chinese passports, some of them speaking no English and apparently providing little help to investigators.”

In one case, “money from a southern China bank account was transferred to California to pay for down payments on homes that later became grow houses, suggesting that at least some in China are investing in the illicit U.S. marijuana market.”

Police call it a “sophisticated operation” run by businessmen. They purchase suburban houses with cash and hire electricians to bypass the electricity meters, “so growers can tap a free source of power to run grow lights and fans.”

According to police officials interviewed by the Bee, the arrestees are “experienced farmers from poor Chinese provinces, often in their 50s and 60s. Some have been smuggled into the United States, but many arrive with Chinese passports, presumably arranged by the grow-house operators.” Their B-1 or B-2 visas allow them to stay in the United States up to six months.

In Colorado, which legalized marijuana in 2015, grow houses are popping up in every neighborhood, and in one case all 14 suspects were Chinese citizens. In Nevada, Chinese national Jianguo Han, 66, was convicted of running a large-scale marijuana operation in two Las Vegas houses.

China summarily executes drug dealers, foreign and domestic, but when their overseas nationals get busted, China refuses to take them back. This saddles the United States with more costs, and makes China’s stateside weed business even more profitable. The regime is also busily cultivating regions where the soil is even more fertile.

“Some American universities have established ties with China through what are called Confucius Institutes (CI),” notes columnist George Leef. Beginning in 2005, the Chinese government has established more than 100 CI American colleges and universities, and “hundreds more in primary and secondary schools” and it’s all “funded by an agency of the Chinese government’s Ministry of Education called the Hanban.”

Leef finds nothing objectionable about the study of Chinese language and culture. Trouble is, “academic freedom is an alien concept in China, where the tradition of state control over most aspects of life means that universities must conform to the official ideology.” This comes through in the Confucius Institute agenda.

The CI program pressures American schools to disinvite speakers it doesn’t want students to hear. At North Carolina State, for example, CI was responsible for disinviting the Dalai Lama. CI bocks access to articles touching on the Tiananmen Square massacre, the Cultural Revolution, and Chinese control of Tibet. Under Mao Zedong one of the worst mass murderers in history, China’s Communist regime invaded and occupied Tibet in 1950 and quashed a revolt in 1959.

The University of Chicago dropped the Confucius Institute but other schools continue to collaborate. This troubles Leef because the Chinese government “is focused on control and therefore wants to prevent the spread of criticism and dissent.” Many American academics are okay with that, and by all indications so is the government of California.

The ongoing human rights violations of China’s one-party Communist regime proved no obstacle to the use of Chinese steel in the new span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Politicians and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), the state’s equivalent of the Soviet Gosplan, claimed this would save money. It didn’t turn out that way.

The new span came in ten years late and $5 billion over cost. As hearings revealed, the brittle Chinese steel and inexperienced Chinese welders led to serious safety issues with cracked bolts, cracked rods, and corrosion issues. Bay Area residents who have declined to use the bridge include Abolhassan Astaneh-Asi, professor of structural engineering, mechanics and materials at UC Berkeley. When notified of the safety concerns, recurring California governor Jerry Brown famously said, “Don’t know if it’s a setback. I mean, look, shit happens.” 

Brown recently signed legislation making California a sanctuary state, open defiance of U.S. immigration law. Governor Brown and attorney Xavier Becerra don’t want to send anybody back to their native land, and China won’t take back its own criminals. That’s a dream dialectic for the Chinese, whose grow-houses are working three shifts all across the Golden State.

As Sidney Wang (Peter Sellers) might have put in in Murder by Death, “Confucius say, colonial policy good for China but bad deal for United States.”

Lloyd Billingsley is the author of Barack ‘em Up: A Literary Investigation, and Bill of Writes: Dispatches from the Political Correctness Battlefield.


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